A huge, living daily increasing grievance that does one no palpable harm is the happiest possession that a man can have.
Anthony Trollope ~ The Eustace Diamonds
“I say, Satterthwaite,” said Sir Bartholomew, “you’re looking rather peaky today. Is everything alright?”
Mr. Satterthwaite shook his great head.
“It’s nothing, really,” he said. “I’ve just got a bit of a puzzle on.”
“Well? What is it? You may as well tell me now because I’ll beat it out of you eventually. You know how I am.”
“Indeed I do,” said Mr. Satterthwaite sardonically. “Very well. It’s Sir Charles. He has up and dumped me, and I have no idea why.”
Sir Bartholomew snorted.
“Dumped you!” he exclaimed. “Whatever do you mean?”
“I mean that ever since Egg’s cocktail party last week, he has been snubbing me. At first, I thought he hadn’t been getting my messages. But Barty, I have phoned, written, emailed, and texted him without so much as a hidey-ho.”
Sir Bartholomew frowned.
“That doesn’t sound like Sir Charles,” he said. “Why, he’s always been a decent sort of fellow who would never let the sun go down on his wrath. Are you certain you did or said nothing to offend him?”
“That’s just it! I don’t know! That is what I’ve been puzzling about. You would think that if one fellow had offended another, the offendee would let the offender in on what the offense was. It’s rather hard on a fellow to be ignorant of his offenses. What if one’s ignorance is what is offensive? That’s makes it rather difficult to put right.”
“Well, now,” began Sir Bartholomew, but Mr. Satterthwaite interrupted.
“You know how there’s that spot in the Bible about leaving your gift at the altar and making things right if you’ve offended someone. That’s fine and good if you know what the blasted offense is, but what if you haven’t an earthly clue? A fine fix that is to be hanging about an altar with a gift you can’t give.”
“Satterthwaite, get hold of yourself! It’s no good troubling your head about it. You’ve been unfriended, and that’s that.”
“But what should I do? It annoys me no end not to know what the matter is. It bothers my conscience that I may have done something wrong that I cannot make right.”
“Look here, Satty,” said Sir Bartholomew. “No, not there—here! Take a gander at Sir Charles. Note the look on his face. What do you see?”
“Hmm…he looks a bit sour to me,” said Mr. Satterthwaite.
“Exactly! He has a new grievance to nurse, and you, old fellow, have given it to him.”
“NO! Really? Do you think?”
Mr. Satterthwaite studied Sir Charles more closely. Then he gave a delighted laugh.
“Why, I do believe you are right, Barty; he looks positively puckered.”
“Of course he does. I told you he’s not the sort to let the sun go down on his wrath. Whatever you have done to offend him will keep him stewing for days on end. For all we know, Sir Charles’ supply of grievances may have dried up. You, in the office of a true friend, have replenished the well.”
Mr. Satterthwaite’s eyes shone.
“I never thought of it that way. It’s like that spot in the Bible about the loaves and fishes and whether it’s better to light your candle and search for the lost sheep.”
“Huh?” said Sir Bartholomew.