LADY BRACKNELLTo speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other's character before marriage, which I think is never advisable.
Talk to them about things they don't know. Try to give them an inferiority complex. If the actress is beautiful, screw her. If she isn't, present her with a valuable painting she will not understand. If they insist on being boring, kick their asses or twist their noses. And that's about all there is to it.
Then the voice - which identified itself as the prince of this world, the only being who really knows what happens on Earth - began to show him the people around him on the beach. The wonderful father who was busy packing things up and helping his children put on some warm clothes and who would love to have an affair with his secretary, but was terrified on his wife's response. His wife who would like to work and have her independence, but who was terrified of her husband's response. The children who behave themselves because they were terrified of being punished. The girl who was reading a book all on her own beneath the sunshade, pretending she didn't care, but inside was terrified of spending the rest of her life alone. The boy running around with a tennis racuqet , terrified of having to live up to his parents' expectations. The waiter serving tropical drinks to the rich customers and terrified that he could be sacket at any moment. The young girl who wanted to be a dance, but who was studying law instead because she was terrified of what the neighbours might say. The old man who didn't smoke or drink and said he felt much better for it, when in truth it was the terror of death what whispered in his ears like the wind. The married couple who ran by, splashing through the surf, with a smile on their face but with a terror in their hearts telling them that they would soon be old, boring and useless. The man with the suntan who swept up in his launch in front of everybody and waved and smiled, but was terrified because he could lose all his money from one moment to the next. The hotel owner, watching the whole idyllic scene from his office, trying to keep everyone happy and cheerful, urging his accountants to ever greater vigilance, and terrified because he knew that however honest he was government officials would still find mistakes in his accounts if they wanted to. There was terror in each and every one of the people on that beautiful beach and on that breathtakingly beautiful evening. Terror of being alone,
Jem and Will had set up camp on one of the long tables in the back of the library, ostensibly to help advise her, but more likely, it seemed, to mock and be amused by her consternation. You point your feet out too much when you walk, Will went on. He was busy polishing an apple on his shirtfront, and appeared not to notice Tessa glaring at him. Camille walks delicately. Like a faun in the woods. Not like a duck. I do not walk like a duck. I like ducks, Jem observed diplomatically. Especially the ones in Hyde Park. He glanced sideways at Will; both boys were sitting on the edge of the high table, their legs dangling over the side. Remember when you tried to convince me to feed a poultry pie to the mallards in the park to see if you could breed a race of cannibal ducks? They ate it too, Will reminisced. Bloodthirsty little beasts. Never trust a duck.