Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
A narrative of personality and class conflict in an exotic setting, this story opens with Mr. Warburton, the Resident, anxiously awaiting the arrival of his new assistant, Alan Cooper. For twenty years, Mr. Warburton has been the only Englishman within many miles, but at the station, work has increased to the point that an assistant is needed. As he steps off the boat, Cooper disconcerts Mr. Warburton by greeting him with a breezy informality. After showing Cooper to his bungalow, the Resident invites him to dinner.
Although the dinner is for two, Mr. Warburton has arranged a formal table with a continental menu prepared by his excellent Chinese cook. As always, he dons his formal dinner jacket and tie. Thus he is taken aback when Cooper arrives in the same soiled shorts and shirt that he wore on the journey. The dinner confirms Mr. Warburton’s perplexed conclusion that Cooper is no gentleman. A colonial born in Barbados, he received an indifferent education and was an enlisted man during the war. The conversation becomes strained as Mr. Warburton gives Cooper some pointers about dress and manners. After dinner, Cooper asks Mr. Warburton to find him a new servant because his previous boy unaccountably disappeared during the journey upriver.
As the narrative makes plain, Mr. Warburton’s character and background differ markedly from Cooper’s. At twenty-one, he inherited a fortune that enabled him to move with ease and grace among the...
(The entire section is 1129 words.)
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