I CALL this the Saddest Story, rather than "The Ashburnham Tragedy," just because it is so sad, just because there was no current to draw things along to a swift and inevitable end. There is about it none of the elevation that accompanies tragedy; there is about it no nemesis, no destiny. Here were two noble people--for I am convinced that both Edward and Leonora had noble natures--here then, were two noble natures, drifting down life, like fireships* afloat on a lagoon and causing miseries, heartaches, agony of the mind and death. And they themselves steadily deteriorated? And why? For what purpose? To point what lesson? It is all a darkness.
There is not even any villain in the story--for even Major Basil, the husband of the lady who next, and really, comforted the unfortunate Edward--even Major Basil was not a villain in this piece. He was a slack, loose, shiftless sort of fellow--but he did not do anything to Edward. Whilst they were in the same station in Burma he borrowed a good deal of money--though, really, since Major Basil had no particular vices, it was difficult to know why he wanted it. He collected--different types of horses' bits from the earliest times to the present day--but, since he did not prosecute even this occupation with