*

PART TWO of my review, continued from here —

The Heat of the Day — Elizabeth Bowen

All my reviews of Bowen novels will be linked here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/11/27/elizabeth-bowens-novels/

All my links of Bowen stories: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/31260-2/

My gestalt real-time review will be conducted in the comment stream below:

0B3F8391-9B31-4520-9991-D0DF5E28C362

10 responses to “*

  1. CHAPTER SIX

    “Apart from the ambiguities of her tie with Robert, Stella at Holme Dene felt every one of the anxieties, the uncertainties of the hybrid.”

    Well, that tie again, as I assumed would eventually be linked, now interfaced with Robert’s memory of his relationship with his father, as Stella and Robert travel by train plus the plot device of a Bowenesquely truncated taxi drive to Holme Dene, his family home in a Home County, a manor with gables and balconies of later Cheshire Cat smiles and sloping ceilings and detailed, time-prehensile objects or furniture — and Robert’s many photos on two walls in his preserved boyhood room, the middle class compared to Stella’s original upper class, a class of middle as if in the middle of nowhere with the Kelway family’s apportioned collective war rations of butter etc, a family made to be hardy by the war as they would have had to be hardy anyway — his mother, Mutterkins, and associated family members, including various connected children and Robert’s sister Ernestine (Ernie), and one of the children who plays the piano in the only warm room (centralised before a different central heating), a warmer room as might have once been granted to Robert’s ‘failed’ father who never sold the manor unless he could get more than he paid for it: a perpetual syndrome of pride as counterpointed by a plot device of a Mutterkins’ possibly understamped parcel needing to have an accompanying supplement of insurance by a few tangible pennies for extra postage costs… and this family’s soldierly complement of Stella’s Roderick by the name of Christopher Robin… this also being my Matchett / Prothero type monologue, with examples…

    “And more: in these years the idea of war made you see any peaceful scene as it were through glass.”

    “…it took being shot in the leg to make Robert walk!”, but he ends the chapter still limping.

    “…a dumb-waiter and an upright piano, could be marked as evacuees out of other rooms; the grandfather clock, on the other hand, must have stood here always – time had clogged its ticking.”

    …like the fudge in the clock in another World of Love?

    “If Ernie’s regard had held unawareness, her mother’s showed the mute presence of an obsession. For, why should she speak? – she had all she needed: the self-contained mystery of herself. Her lack of wish for communication showed in her contemptuous use of words. The lounge became what it was from being the repository of her nature; it was the indoors she selected, she consecrated – indeed, she had no reason to go out. By sitting here where she sat, and by sometimes looking, by sometimes even not looking, across the furnished lawn, she projected Holme Dene: this was a bewitched wood. If her power came to an end at the white gate, so did the world.”

    “A pink plastic brooch representing a dog was pinned to Anne’s chest; Peter sported an armlet with cryptic letters.”

    … a code never to be worn outside the house, a Brutt puzzle to match Stella’s Y.X.D?

    “Stella pressed her thumb against the edge of the table to assure herself this was a moment she was living through – as in the moment before a faint she seemed to be looking at everything down a darkening telescope.”

    “Late afternoon striking into the blue of his eyes made him [Robert] look like a young man in Technicolor.”

    She saw the Kelways suspended in the middle of nothing. She could envisage them so suspended when there was nothing more. […]
    Having been born to some idea of position, she seldom asked herself what her own was now – still less, what position was in itself. Mrs Kelway and Ernestine, on the other hand, occupied a self-evident position of their own.”

    “His reluctance to move downstairs from his boyhood’s den had evidently been seen indulgently: first-floor manly comforts had moved upstairs to him. They interspersed fictions of boyishness. A ‘varsity’ chair was padded in fadeless butcher blue; a swivel lamp stood attentively at the chair’s elbow;”

    Even objects have elbows in El Bow!

    “…the books gave the impression of being gummed together in some sort of secretion from their disuse.”

    More of that fudging of time? And literature as an ostensible Bowenesque non-clarity being clearer than other people’s clarity — by dint of the poetry of deliberately kinked osmosis as well as the poetry of words itself.

    “‘No, they’ve only made this room as though you were dead.’ […]
    One elbow on the sill of the open window, she looked thoughtfully back down the room at Robert.
    ‘What are you really wondering?’ he said.”

    “I often think that if Hitler could have looked into that dog’s eyes, the story might have been very different –“

    “‘Don’t say “goodness” to someone older than you, dear.’”

  2. CHAPTER SEVEN

    “Stella walked back to her flat alone. The country seemed to have followed her back into London and to be on her tracks like a disaffecting ghost, undoing the reality of the city;”

    Another truly remarkable chapter, one that allows its rarefied conversation between Stella and Harrison to become a series of absurdist undercurrents that prepared later ground for Aickman’s fiction work as well as part of the weird or kinked literary traditions, as well as being a genuine spy story with a mainstream plot that has its own kinked channels and is a puzzle such as that posed by Brutt and Portia at the Karachi Hotel, and Stella’s own Y.X.D and the boy’s cryptic code yesterday and the conundrums of psychological literature amid the real time of the second world war’s history. This conversation takes place after Stella returns from the Kelways country manor, here in the city’s KÔR of starting rain. Rain that becomes even more important, with her feeling watched or followed, as it turns out, dogged by Harrison, and they enter together her small apartment where chairs form the pattern of a shadowy third, and a profile suddenly pivots from face to face, and towards a Miltonic‘hell’, as do slowly pivot, like time and gender, various motives: motives spoken, misspoken and unspoken, including a blackout blind compromised within a curtained window embrasure that becomes a rainy balcony… a timelessness of sensitivities and another mysterious KÔR or gestalt of meaning…
    And Harrison end up by taking over the duty of posting Mrs Kelway’s parcel addressed to her soldier son, Christopher Robin…

    “Muteness was falling on London with the uneasy dark; here and there stood a figure watchfully in a doorway; or lovers, blotted together, drained up into their kisses…”

    “Carrying the hat she had worn all day, she had a finger of the same hand crooked through and cut by the string of Mrs Kelway’s parcel.”

    “Now her approaching footsteps were being numbered; no instinctive check or pause in them went unmarked. […] He was up the steps, respectfully at her elbow, before her key had turned in the latch;”

    “He sat planted well forward in his armchair – which, like so many third armchairs in a room in which normally only two intimate people sit, was a stranded outpost some way away down the carpet, and was turned towards hers (which faced towards Robert’s, empty) at a tentative angle which he had not changed. So placed, he viewed nothing but Stella’s profile, unless he could provoke her to turn her head.”

    “Still, there are dreams one checks up on, even so, don’t you think? I mean, if I’d seemed to dream I saw a chap at the foot of my bed going through my pockets, I’d take a look through my pockets first thing next morning. Who wouldn’t? You would. The devil, of course, would be, what exactly had I had in my pockets the night before? It’s queer how a thing comes popping back and back to one’s mind – something gone, but one cannot be sure what.”

    Barking up trees, doing what Harrison would have done, by Stella having just gone to Robert’s root “where rot could start”, his home… “Mind, I wouldn’t dream of asking you what you found.” Two birds with one stone, or two stories? Selling country or not?

    “One could only suppose that the apparently forgotten beginning of any story was unforgettable;”

    “‘No, I appeared to be up against sheer kink.’
    ‘What kink?’”

    “You did not have to! You did not have to dog me – to gnaw and nibble round the edge of summer, to loom and gloom!”

    “But a woman takes time. I could take twice the time you’ve got.”

    “Harrison jibbed, or else winced. He touched his tie, made a jerky involuntary movement of the head.” (My italic)

    “Harrison parted the curtains with his thumb and edged between them; they swung into place behind him. The window embrasure was deep; nothing showed there was a person in there at all: it occurred to Stella that any night anybody could have stood hidden in there, listening.”

    “Only by the smell of refreshed stone was one to know that this rain fell on a city. The night was neither warm nor cold; it belonged to no season; it was a night of rain.”

    “…now in effect the war became as unmeaning as the quarrel; two persons speechlessly at a window became as anonymous as the city they overlooked.”

    “The darkness by force of being so long looked into resolved itself into particles, some lighter; air and solids just lifted apart; rooflines took on an uncertain form.”

    “By the rules of fiction, with which life to be credible must comply, he was as a character ‘impossible’ –“

    No continuity, or no physical weightiness, or going into abeyance.

    “…between appearances. ‘Appearance’, in the sense used for a ghost or actor,..”

    “Just now, for an instant, in the darkness in which she could not even remember the colour of his coat, he had been for the first time palpably someone near her: a being – continuous, secretive, dense, weighty,…”

    “‘No, I have not heard a clock strike all the evening,’ she said aloud. ‘It might be any hour.’”

    A breather alone … a blind parcel… today’s breath of contamination in our own times…

    “…indoor-plotted; this was a war of dry cerebration inside windowless walls.”

  3. CHAPTER EIGHT

    “To talk, which she had to do, was to tender what words she had; to be forced to search for anything further, better, was as persecuting as having to dip for escaped coppers into the depths of her handbag –

    Please compare those earlier pennies that Mrs Kelway provided for her possibly understamped parcel, thus bringing an obliquely ironic interface between Louie Lewis’s down-to-earth factory girl world and the Kelway middle class — and then, circuitously by the explicit post-box mouth of Louie’s ARP warden friend Connie, an interface with the Stella Rodney upper class, as I understand it.
    Many have scratched their heads at the comic intrusion of these two girls. Louie with her tragic parental backstory and her husband Tom elsewhere in the army, a girl who sees it her duty to be flighty with other men (but having failed picking up Harrison in the first chapter’s park).
    And then there is an obsession with newspapers as a prophecy of todays populism as engendered by social media, and Connie, who has some instinctive wisdom about the war, as well as the farcical scene of dropping vegetables on their dark stairway, sparking off, I infer, shadowy thirds derived from the girls unconscious Sapphism for each other, a factor also seen in a similar scenario. between the girls featured by her MYSTERIOUS KÔR story?
    The girls are living creatures created by newsprint — the beginning is the word. And there is no way I can convey all the many angles and niches of this relationship that possibly become far more than a comic interlude, indeed far more than Bowen trying to extend her range of fiction beyond the classes about which she feels most comfortable writing about.
    But, meantime, please try this Lewis-bespoke monologue below of Bowen words from this chapter, words that tell us more about the war mentality of the then working people — engendering views of its participants about the then real-time history as palimpsest for what we have ourselves just endured today, another interface that Bowen seems to have prophesied instinctively by the rarefied and inspirational way she writes fiction as truth, or, contrastively, fiction as religion… even fiction as one of the girls’ conversation about migratory birds. Now become homing birds of fiction truth?

    “Within the narrowing of autumn, the impulses of incredulous loneliness died down in her; among them that readiness to quicken which had made her look for her husband in other faces. True, she felt nearer Tom with any man than she did with no man – true love is to be recognized by its aberrations;”

    “Louie was swept along in one shoal of indifferent shadows against another.”

    “: the darkness did not love her. To be seen was for her not to be. It was a phenomenon of war-time city night that it brought out something provocative in the step of most modest women; Nature tapped out with the heels on the pavement an illicit semaphore.”

    “Sunday her only daylight”

    “…the ilexy love mound rode in a waste of lawn like a ship abandoned; strangers gave one another unmeeting looks.”

    “Yes, it was in the disenchanted park that London’s indifference to Louie stood out most stark and bare.”

    “Why now, therefore, should it be his [Tom’s] chair that gazed at her? […] Why now, therefore, should it be his chair that gazed at her? It directed something at her whichever way she pushed, pulled or turned it, in whatever direction she turned herself. The discountenancing of the chair by filling it had been her object in bringing strangers she met in the park back here.”

    Silent wireless
    Gas fire
    mirrored cafe in Tottenham Court Road

    Connie ARP warden “a brick-red postbox mouth.”
    Living in the same block of apartments as Louie, but out of her area of air raid jurisdiction.
    Kiosk, voice like a file…
    “at the post throughout long hours of duty she dislocated her jaw yawning,…”

    “No one who held you were paid too high for doing damn all by the hour could themselves have tried doing damn all by the hour. Not, as she pointed out, that she was by any means doing damn all;”

    Connie thinks Louie would be better of if she had started a child?

    “Tom wrote back, he was glad to hear Louie had made a girl friend, particularly one in their own house:”

    “It is advantageous being among all sorts if you are some sort, any sort; you gravitate to your type.”

    “The stair and landing lighting in No. 10 was of the kind which puts itself out automatically after two minutes: it not only now did so but continued to do so throughout the search – Louie, galumphing up and down in her pink nightie, helped Connie gather up the potatoes, turnips, carrots, and it was she who finally found the torch.”

    Newspapers: addiction
    “…smoke to read the last of the print till a flame ate it – you never knew what you might not just happen to miss.”
    “in the beginning was the word;”

    Louie’s war a middle, never a beginning?

    And thus we became in Brexit Britain —
    “The papers knew Britain had something up her sleeve – Britain could always, in default of anything else, face facts.”

    People of Headlines. Equivalent to texting in shorthand while Bowen texted like Proust!

    “Dark and rare were the days when she failed to find on the inside page of her paper an address to or else account of herself. Was she not a worker, a soldier’s lonely wife, a war orphan, a pedestrian, a Londoner, a home- and animal-lover, a thinking democrat, a movie-goer, a woman of Britain, a letter writer, a fuel-saver, and a housewife? She was only not a mother, a knitter, a gardener, a foot-sufferer, or a sweetheart – at least not rightly. Louie now felt bad only about any part of herself which in any way did not fit into the papers’ picture;”

    “…it appeared that we were becoming less standoffish; the Americans had been agreeably surprised. War now made us one big family . . . She was reinstated; once again round her were the everlasting arms.”

    “she longed to fondle a copy still warm from the press,”

    “While deferring to Connie’s droit du seigneur over any newspaper entering the house, Louie hated to see her use it with that sensual roughness.”

    “She was now, even, in a fair way to make those friends of whom, having Connie, she was no longer in need.”

    “Her [Connie’s] re-reading of everything was the more impressive because the second time, you were given to understand, what she was doing was reading between the lines.”

    And that is exactly what I am now doing when re-reading Bowen after many years, my weak memory as a veil, or a migratory cage whence I cannot escape!

    “They go to show how Nature pursues her course under any circumstances. Birds like that wouldn’t notice there was a war –“

    “Still, you’d surely not rather be like the Germans, Connie? I was told how they swallow anything they are told.”

    Yanks and Russian, the girls have instinctive theories about these and…
    History itself.

    The photo Tom left Louie.
    ‘Abeyance’
    “…he had not considered the one she already had, the enlarged snap of him in a Byron collar on Seale strand, adequately serious.”
    “To see, however, is not to look.”
    “what the camera had recorded had been the face of a man already gone.”

    This chapter as camera has brought back people who never left, I guess.
    The book that Bowen left Lewis — to be never left.
    Memory as well as Zeno’s fudge left in that ‘World of Love’ hall clock, both transcended?

    Migratory birds from or to Africa, I think it says.
    Darkest Africa as Kôr…

    • ELBOW as #KÔRner

      #ElizabethBowen’s classic short story #MysteriousKÔR

      The #circumflex as her Symbol of the Elbow? — https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/11/23/wake-the-elbow/

    • FROM ‘MYSTERIOUS KÔR’ —

      “Next, two wardens coming off duty emerged from their post and crossed the road diagonally, each with an elbow cupped inside a slung-on tin hat.”

      “‘Sorry,’ the girls said in unison. Then Pepita laughed soundlessly, making their bed shake, till to stop herself she bit the back of her hand, and this movement made her elbow strike Callie’s cheek. ‘Sorry,’ she had to whisper. No answer: Pepita fingered her elbow and found, yes, it was quite true, it was wet. ‘Look, shut up crying, Callie: what have I done?’”

  4. CHAPTER NINE

    “She [Stella] had forgotten that by travelling west you enter longer days: this hour, as she stood looking down the length of a room at a fire distantly burning inside white marble, seemed to be outside time – an eternal luminousness of dusk in which nothing but the fire’s flutter and the clock’s ticking out there in the hall were to be heard.”

    A WORLD OF LOVE and its own hall clock so important yesterday takes on a Jungian confederacy (see further below when I have written about it, in order) — as Stella travels to Mount Morris in war-neutral Eire as her son Roderick’s troubleshooter for his inherited property as well as his inherited clock. Do they have rations? Are the 16 year old girls, like Hannah Donovan, innocent as well as beautiful to Stella? Hannah’s father the caretaker, who later shouts to Stella, despite being cut off from Connie’s newspapers and a telephone and a dusty disused wireless, of Montgomery’s breakthrough in Egypt, the land of Haggard or at least near Kôr, a turning point in the war in interface with ‘a confederacy of mad women’, including Nettie’s drawing of the Titanic disaster. All very oblique, but all very meaningful to the osmotic reader with a fearless faith in fiction.

    Firstly, Stella has to resist Robert’s love for her (or his lying to her?) not to stay in London…
    “‘The whole thing’s a racket of that old lunatic’s. To get you back.’
    ‘After all, he’s dead – if you mean Cousin Francis?’
    ‘A little thing like that wouldn’t bother him.’”

    String and an understamped parcel, still involved, as we are, in this package of irrelevance that is so far more relevant than it seems.

    The aura of the house and its environs, in this October 1942…
    “Elsewhere rising woods or swelling uplands closed Mount Morris in. By anyone standing down by the river looking up, sky was to be seen reflected in row upon row of vast glass panes. The façade, dun stucco, seemed to vary in tone, but never altered in colour except at sunset – which, striking down the valley, gave the stucco an oriental pink and enflamed the windows.”

    “…the walls and soaring curtains were of a deadening red.”

    “Balanced upon the bales, a tribe of tray-shaped baskets invited Stella’s inspection of their contents so carefully sorted out – colourless billiard balls, padlocks, thermometers, a dog collar, keyless key-rings, a lily bulb, an ivory puzzle, a Shakespeare calendar for 1927, the cured but unmounted claw of a greater eagle, a Lincoln Imp knocker, an odd spur, lumps of quartz, a tangle of tipless tiny pencils on frayed silk cords. . . .”

    Cards of Francis’ instructions from the dead, he being one of those dead, I guess, who are in shoals around us, and “another, inaudible, clock, empty branched candlesticks, and embossed bronze vases holding charred spills, there was nothing further.”

    “Oh to stay here for ever, playing this ghostly part! Unwillingly she looked behind her – her gloves, shaped by her hands, her bag, containing every damning proof of her identity, were still, always, there on the centre table where she had put them down.”

    “…the rounded glimmer of its venetian window (ever wholly extinguished only by blackest night),” — Cf the sealed Venetian window in ‘A World of Love’.

    “Innocent in its resemblance to no other, the minute merged itself in the immortality of the house.”

    “Stella had assumed there to be no shortages of any kind in Eire. The exciting sensation of being outside war […] the uncurtained windows had spelled ease, yes; but still more had set up a barbaric joy, as might wine let run soaking into the ground.”

    “After supper she twiddled perfunctorily the knobs of the wireless beside Cousin Francis’s chair – it had pleased him to have the war at his elbow;”

    “…assurance of being utterly out of reach added annullingness to her deep sleep that night.”

    Letter to Roderick…
    “Mrs Kelway’s parcel – had Harrison posted it?”
    Was Harrison whom he seems? He seems he did visit Mount Morris. Was there more to espionage and selling one’s country than psychological or even Irish and scenic counterbluffs?

    Rock sunk boat at Mount Morris, cf Titanic.

    No stamp for her letter. That happens often in Bowen.

    “Now primarily it was the scene, for her, of those conversations late into the nights – what had they been up to in here? what had they been cooking? Evidently Harrison was not a man to have come back and back for nothing.”

    “What was her defence but this – that he lied, must lie, could not not lie, had lied from the very start?”
    To lie is to know one lies? Ironically, we are told lies everyday that we know are lies, but become no longer lies as a result?”

    “This book-dark darkening room, through which imperceptibly the current of time flowed, held truth sunk somewhere in it, as the river held the boat.”

    “She had asked nobody anything about Harrison – why, yes, but of course she had: had she not asked Robert?”

    Motives and the confederacy of love? Stop – stop him? It would be stopped when Harrison closed the trap. World of Love. World of Women. Working parties hemming dresses….”from mirror to mirror, into misted extensions of the room. She was proof against it. Constrained to touch things, to make certain that they were not their own reflection, she explored veneers and mouldings, corded edges, taut fluted silk with the nerves of her fingers;”
    “the society of ghosts”
    “She wore the look of everything she had lost the secret of being.”
    “…under this illusion that Cousin Nettie Morris – and who now knew how many more before her? – had been pressed back, hour by hour, by the hours themselves, into cloudland? Ladies had gone not quite mad, not quite even that, from in vain listening for meaning in the loudening ticking of the clock.”
    “Everything spoke to them – the design in and out of which they drew their needles;”
    “And though seated together, hems of their skirts touching, each one of the ladies had not ceased in herself to reflect alone; their however candid and clear looks in each others’ eyes were interchanged warnings; their conversation was a twinkling surface over their deep silence. Virtually they were never to speak at all – unless to the little bird lying big with death on the path, the child being comforted out of the nightmare without waking, the leaf plucked still quivering from the felled tree.”

    “That was that – or, could there still be something more? That her own life could be a chapter missing from this book need not mean that the story was at an end; at a pause it was, but perhaps a pause for the turning-point?”

    That turning-point of the war, too.

    “…could not but be somewhere in the directive, as Roderick chose to read it, from Cousin Francis. It was usual in this house to bring home a wife: if that had not yet occurred to him, it would.”

    “…the daughter-in-law curled forming like ectoplasm out of Stella’s flank.”

    “…the fatal connexion between the past and future having been broken before her time. It had been Stella, her generation, who had broken the link – what else could this be but its broken edges that she felt grating inside her soul?”

    “This was the peace of the moment in which one sees the world for a moment innocent of oneself.”

    Autumn is staying for her decision?

    “In the hush the dead could be imagined returning from all the wars; and, turning the eyes from arch to arch of boughs, from ray to ray of light, one knew some expectant sense to be tuned in to an unfinished symphony of love.”

    A symphony of love, a world of love.

    “Hannah was beautiful – a year older, yet somehow further back than her sister Mary. This was Stella’s first full view of her in daylight: she stayed below stairs over her cooking, […] Having not a thought that was not her own, she had not any thought; she was a young girl already upon her unmenaced way to Heaven.”

    Indifferent to whatever victory…
    Sometimes quote marks vanish, and the words become mine?
    The ‘She’ who is this book, its Egypt, its inherited clock. Ayesha! A Sapphic link or kink? Or just another tuck to be sewn? Even a pausing moment’s disinherited tick?

  5. Montefort, Mount Morris…
    Monument: (anagram) Mount Men [or Women (incubus or succubus?)]…
    Obelisk, Wobel-isk…
    [The first sentence of ‘A World of Love’ (a happenstance simultaneous review) contains the words ‘heat of the day’…]

  6. CHAPTER TEN

    “Arrival of shades in Hades, the new dead scanned dubiously by the older,…”

    Evocative journey by a black-outed train (open tracks and tunnels) as Stella travels to Euston from Eire…and precariously being met by Robert at the station…
    “Despair made her press her lips. Then before she knew, under her elbow was his hand.”

    He is with an unexpected transitter, his sister Ernestine (a buffer or an impediment?), and a hired car with a chauffeur to take her and, then, them onwards… a strange journey where much is lost in a handbag (but what had Ernie lost?) and in the streets themselves, even if the chauffeur had, I infer, his own Martian gauntlets of geared guidance!

    “….to the point of wondering what would happen if she were to try slipping her arm through Robert’s sister’s. She wondered how Ernestine’s arm would feel. She wildly contemplated, even, a conversation with Ernestine about Robert before it was too late –“

    “What, you expect me to offer Mrs Rodney a penny for her thoughts?”
    … a thought that brings to mind that unshakeable-off parcel again! (A parcel that reminds me of the ‘silly pie’ in Aickman’s ‘The Swords’!)

    “The impression of being in a wood gave place to one of phantasmagoric architecture improbable in London.”

    No questions, no lies…
    Lies that lie in the air like, I infer, with Jungian breathing, a respiratory disease, or, as it says here, flu, as brought into the car from in the Eire…. (or by migratory birds from Africa?!)

    “‘In that case you must mean this is a haunted car.’
    ‘Hired cars of this type could some pretty curious tales unfold, I shouldn’t wonder,’ said Ernestine.”

    After Ernie’s departure in the Earl’s Court area…

    “Or we began as that: that was what we were at the start – but now, look how all this ruin’s made for our perfectness! You and I are an accident, if you like –“

    And, like Jane suddenly and monumentally enunciating the name ‘Guy’ at the the Latterly Castle in Eire, Jane issues her own momentous question…

    “‘They said you were passing information to the enemy. . . .’
    ‘I what?’ he said blankly. She repeated the statement, adding: ‘I did not know what to think.’ […] ‘—what does one say in a situation that doesn’t make sense?’ […]
    “‘I lost my head. How was I to know what was true?’
    ‘How indeed?’ said Robert, with frozen irony.”

    Various non-people as shadowy thirds (if not birds) now visible, shadowy thirds as the momentous question for truth or lies (and its concomitant implications for their love and frankness) as gestalt answer — and as Time itself, fulfilling perhaps the Zeno’s Paradox alliance of Bowen and Aickman…(“But they were not alone, nor had they been from the start, from the start of love. Their time sat in the third place at their table. They were the creatures of history, whose coming together was of a nature possible in no other day – the day was inherent in the nature.”)
    — the Time that is our co-vivid day today? Our inherited clock?

    “This thing locked up inside you, yes; yes, but always secretly being taken out and looked at – and how without going mad am I to let myself imagine at what moments?”

    “We have not then been really alone together for the last two months. You’re two months gone with this.”

    “One can live in the shadow of an idea without grasping it.”

    “Yes, a drink will sober us down.”

    A late-night ‘waning’ restaurant and a discrete carpet for their table, as they continue their ‘frankness’…
    Mount Morris debriefed. The place, soon or now, of Roderick.
    And the need to insulate that initial weightiness-guyed question by cutting through to the prospect of marriage…
    And what of Harrison who had started this sequence of truths and lies…?

    “On from now, every moment, with more and more of what had been ‘now’ behind it, would be going on adding itself to the larger story.”

    A ‘Titanic’ marriage, or one that is buoyed rather than weightiness-guyed?
    Cf that earlier loose barrage balloon in the skies of London during the park band concert,

    “‘Roderick would like it,’ she reflected, with an elbow on the table, supporting her temple on her hand, obliquely following with her eyes a scroll in the damask pattern of the cloth.”

    “‘How am I to know what more reservations you may not still have in your mind? I see only one way of knowing. – Are you going to marry me?’ […]
    …Robert, looking at the bill, which had been for some time unobtrusively at his elbow, then putting notes on the plate.”
    What about the tip? Pennies?

    “Anything one must say, one must say as soon as one can.”

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