In Summation

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


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