Bruce Gaston

Published On


Page Range

pp. 69–74


  • English

Print Length

6 pages

The Optimist

  • Bruce Gaston (author)
Having got lost while out riding with a hunt, Richard Duncombe stops at a farmhouse so his horse can rest and have some water. The lady of the house invites him in for tea, which he takes with the teenage children of the family. Although the mother is friendly to him, Duncombe senses a slightly strained, defensive atmosphere nonetheless. At one point the son, around seventeen, is called for and leaves. After this the mother tells Duncombe about her family, stressing its respectability. Duncombe assumes that the family’s social situation has declined and when he later meets the son in a train he takes it upon himself to encourage the boy to do his best to restore his family’s good-standing. His well-meaning counsels are met with silent embarrassment and only at the end of the journey does Duncombe realise that the policeman sitting in the same carriage is actually escorting the young man to prison.


Bruce Gaston


Bruce Gaston has taught at the English Department of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, Germany since 2008. His current research interests focus on British and Irish literature, culture and history in the first half of the twentieth century. He blogs about Saki and related issues at