Today, in honor of Karl Rove's gobsmacked face, I share the following, from William Gerhardie's Futility (1922), which I happened to be reading today:
General Bologoevski, on my left, was holding forth on the situation.Alternative responses our narrator might have chosen: slow chin-stroking; painfully deliberate winks; snappy, tilt-headed two-finger salutes; deep, fulsome bows. And, of course, my preferred option: backing away very, very slowly.
"Looks pretty hopeless," I remarked.
"Not a bit of it," rejoined the General.
"But they are retreating everywhere."
"On purpose," said the General.
"But whatever for?"
"Well, there was a conference of generals . . . I presume . . . who have decided it. I think it a good thing myself."
"Well . . . we'll entrap them."
"I am most pessimistic."
"I am perfectly optimistic--quite certain of victory."
"He is advancing very slowly."
"Ah, but he is about to enter Great Russian territory."
"Well, what's there in that?"
"Why," he explained,"the Great Russians are the only real decent Russians. I am a Great Russian myself."
I nodded with significance, as if to indicate that this made all the difference in the situation.