Tuesday 5 January 2016


The house: Opening a heavy, smooth-swinging, mahogany door, he led me into a darkened hall. Light streamed through the cracks in the shutters. Sebastian unbarred one, and folded it back; the mellow afternoon sun flooded in, over the bare floor, the vast, twin fireplaces of sculptured marble, the coved ceiling frescoed with classic deities and heroes, the gilt mirrors and scagliola pilasters, the islands of sheeted furniture. Then Sebastian quickly shut out the sun. “You see,’ he said; ‘it’s like this.”

After too much drinking: Within an hour of tumbling drowsily to bed I was awake again, thirsty, restless, hot and cold by turns, and unnaturally excited. … I sat at the open window. Everything was black and dead-still in the quadrangle; only at the quarter-hours the bel awoke and sang over the gables. I drank soda water and smoked and fretted, until light began to break and the rustle of a rising breeze turned me back to my bed.

Lady Marchmain: I was as untouched by her faith, as I was by her charm: of, rather, I was touched by both alike. I had no mind then for anything except Sebastian, and I saw him already as being threatened, though I did not yet know how black was the threat. His constant, despairing prayer was to be let alone. By the blue waters and rustling palms of his own mind he was happy and harmless as a Polynesian

Rex, in his early forties, had grown heavy and ruddy; he had lost his Canadian accent and acquired instead the hoarse, loud tone that was common to all his friends, as though their voices were perpetually strained to make themselves heard above a crowd, as though, with youth forsaking them, there was no time to wait the opportunity to speak, no time to listen, no time to reply; time for a laugh—a throaty mirthless laugh, the base currency of goodwill.

The memories are my life – for we possess nothing certainly except the past – were always with me. Like the pigeons of St. Mark’s, they were everywhere, under my feet, singly, in pairs, in little honey-voiced congregations, nodding, strutting, winking, rolling the tender feathers of their necks, perching sometimes, if I stood still, on my shoulder; until, suddenly, the noon gun boomed and in a moment, with a flutter and sweep of wings, the pavement was bare and the whole sky above dark with a tumult of fowl. Thus it was that morning.

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