Thursday, August 25

I never could think of what they were saying, anyway.

Warm summer nights are always good times for heroes and heroines to talk, and that is how we come upon them now so prosaically; Miss Austen has shown by example, and many authors have since imitated her, in that summer evenings are inherently appropriate times to have meaningful communication between character and character, especially in a novel.

More often than not, we would rather spend them--summer nights, that is--in the silent looming tall-shadows of our own thoughts or the peaceful company of as many companions as we can gather round us. The compromise of these two extremes is what our heroes are doing now. They are having a quiet conversation with each other and will not soon after follow into either extreme like good conformists but separate into empty halls and rooms filled with few people and even more sparse conversation.

Right now, though, they are leaning on the parapet, watching the sky turn dark, with their backs to the sunset. They are talking in normal voices, not the quiet, low tones in which we might expect to overhear tidbits of serious and solemn exchanges. No, the woman is plainly dressed, and modest, and the man bored. He is picking at the inside seam of his surcoat, or jacket, or whatever it is; it is all rather difficult to see but lights and darks as the sun is rather far down in the west. You think that maybe he is talking loudly and in a livelier manner because he wants to keep himself awake; we all have friends that amuse us that way. The lady is ignoring the fact that he is so loud, and rests her elbows on the parapet, looking down on the dark shadows beneath the wall.

A couple walks by them in evening dress, and silence follows as each couple pretends not to have seen the other. The man that I told you about earlier is now quieter. The lady next to him turns and asks him a question, smiling, and he laughs, sits down cross-legged with his back to the wall, looking up at her and saying something in a quieter tone, more as if he wants her to laugh. She says something else, seriously, and then you see him convulse with laughter. From here, even, we can hear him laughing--what did she say?

But never mind, she is leaving. She brushes off her elbows, turns to face us for the first time. Unfortunately, now all we can see is her silhouette. Her hair curls behind her ears and hangs down a few inches, but it makes her look elegant and not disheveled, though she seems to be feeling more disheveled than elegant at the moment. Anyway, she was brushing off her elbows. She says one more thing to the man, who is recovering himself on the ground, and then walks off towards a tall stone building.

The man seems put out, and a little indignant. He pushes himself up off the ground and paces back and forth four times--seven paces each way--and then shakes his head. He runs towards the tall building, and the scene we can see now is only the darkness, the slowly fading night. The moon is high above us, and the sunset behind us is dim. The breeze blows a soft, meandering way across the parapet, bumps like a sleepwalker into the tall building, and runs away tumbling sounds of music and laughing with it across the hills.

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