Once more we stood by the fountain.
“It’s like the setting of a comedy,” I said. “Scene: a Baroque fountain in a nobleman’s grounds. Act one, sunset; act two, dusk; act three, moonlight. The characters keep assembling at the fountain for no very clear reason.”
“Drama. Tragedy. Farce. What you will. This is the reconciliation scene.”
“Was there a quarrel?”
“Estrangement and misunderstanding in act two.”
“Oh, don’t talk in that damned bounderish way. Why must you see everything second-hand? Why must this be a play? Why must my conscience be a pre-Raphaelite picture?”
“It’s a way I have.”
“I hate it.”
Her anger was as unexpected as every change on this evening of swift veering moods. Suddenly she cut me across the face with her switch, a vicious, stinging little blow as hard as she could strike.
“Now do you see how I hate it?”
She hit me again.
“All right,” I said, “go on.”
–from Brideshead Revisited (1945), by Evelyn Waugh