Saturday, 13 October 2012

An Excuse

This was one of my many "excuses" that almost turned into a short story. The names have been changed to protect my stupidity.

My dear B,

I gather from a word Meddle dropped that both you and Barbara are sore about Easter.
I wish to be perfectly candid. I did accept your invitation weeks before Easter. I did intend to visit you up to the Thursday before Easter. I did cancel the invitation on the Thursday evening by telephone.
All this is bad enough, but add to it that my explanation about Aunt Mary was wholly false. The truth, as you know, was that I received an invitation to stay with Splendour at his country house, which arrived on the Thursday morning because one of his other guests had contracted measles.
You ask, therefore, why, instead of being an honoured guest with old and true friends, I should choose to be a stop-gap at a house where, demonstrably, little store is set by my presence? Your answer is, I am sure, self-interest; the hope that there might be some pickings from the rich man's table, where there was nothing to be expected from you but true friendship and warm kindliness.
How right you are! I know, my dear B, that your generous hospitality will be extended to me time and time again, but, where Splendour is concerned, have I any such hope? I have known Splendour for many long years, and, since his accession to prosperity, he has never recognised my existence, although nobody could have been more useful to me. Was I to reject my only opportunity? Would it not have been foolish quixotry, and, moreover, would it have been fair to you to thrust upon our friendship the responsibility for having lost this golden chance.
If I made a mistake, it was in fabricating an excuse - but is the moment before Easter the right time for a calm analysis of motives and values? It was kinder to leave you to believe that urgent necessity had kept me away, and to leave it to some later occasion - where, alas, I have been forestalled - to vouchsafe the true explanation.

Yours ever,