Wednesday, September 30, 2015
the silvery laugh which betokened
----------------------------- [excerpt] ---------------------- Georgie was standing between these two impassioned ladies, with his head turning rapidly this way and that, as if he were watching lawn tennis.
At the same time he felt as if he were the ball that was being slogged to and fro between these powerful players, and he was mentally bruised and battered by their alternate intensity.
Luckily this last violent drive of Lucia's diverted Elizabeth's attack to her.
"Dear Lucia," she said. "You, of course, as a comparatively new resident in Tilling, can't know very much about municipal expenditure, but I should be only too glad to show you how rates and taxes have been mounting up in the last ten years, owing to the criminal extravagance of the authorities. It would indeed be a pleasure."
"I'm delighted to hear they've been mounting," said Lucia. "I want them to soar. It's a matter of conscience to me that they should."
"Naughty and reckless of you," said Elizabeth, trembling a little. "You've no idea how hardly it presses on some of us."
"We must shoulder the burden," said Lucia. "We must make up our minds to economize."
Elizabeth, with that genial air which betokened undiluted acidity, turned to Georgie and abandoned principles for personalities, which had become irresistible.
"Quite a coincidence, isn't it, Mr. Georgie," she said, "that the moment Lucia heard that my Benjy-boy was to stand for the Town Council, she determined to stand herself."
Lucia emitted the silvery laugh which betokened the most exasperating and childlike amusement.
"Dear Elizabeth!" she said. "How can you be so silly?"
"Did you say 'silly,' dear?" asked Elizabeth, white to the lips.
"Oh, dear me!" he said. "Let's all have tea. So much more comfortable than talking about rates. I know there are muffins."
They had both ceased to regard him now; instead of being driven from one to the other, he lay like a ball out of court, while the two advanced to the net with brandished rackets.
"Yes, dear, I said 'silly,' because you are silly," said Lucia, as if she were patiently explaining something to a stupid child. "You certainly implied that my object in standing was to oppose Major Benjy qua Major Benjy.
What made me determined to stand myself was that he advocated municipal economy.
It horrified me.
He woke up my conscience, and I am most grateful to him.
And I shall tell him so on the first opportunity.
Let me add that I regard you both with the utmost cordiality and friendliness. Should you be elected, which I hope and trust you won't, I shall be the first to congratulate you."
---------------------- [end excerpt, The Worshipful Lucia, E.F. Benson, 1935, Doubleday Doran]
This series of six novels by E.F. Benson is said to count among its fans former British Prime Minister John Major,
former Beatle Paul McCartney,
and the late Queen Mother.
In the excerpt, that last sentence is like trying to make a tight figure-eight while riding a skateboard...
"Should you be elected,
which I hope and trust
I shall be the first to congratulate you."