Between the Acts (odlomci)
[…] they were talking — not shaping pellets of information or handing ideas from one to anoter, but rolling words, like sweets on their tongues; whic, as they thinned to transparency, gave off pink, green, and sweetness.
‘Next to the kitchen, the library’s always the nicest room in the house.’
Every summer, for seven summers now, Isa had heard the same words; about the hammer and the nails; the pageant and the weather. Every year they said, would it be wet or fine; and every year it was — one or the other. The same chime followed the same chime, only this year beneath the chime she heard: ‘The girl screamed and hit him about the face with a hammer.’
‘Marriages with cousins,’ said Mrs. Swithin, ‘can’t be good for the teeth.’
His drawing-room name Sung-Yen had undergone a kitchen change into Sunny. (Klasa i u imenovanju mačke, klasa posvuda.)
Two pictures hung opposite the window. In real life they had never met, the long lady and the man holding his horse by the rein. The lady was a picture, bought by Oliver because he liked the picture; the man was an ancestor. He had a name. He held the rein in his hand.
Vulgar she was in her gestures, in her whole person, oversexed, overdressed for a picnic. But what a desirable, at least valuable, quality it was — for everybody felt, directly she spoke, ‘She’s said it, she’s done it, not I,’ and could take advantage of the breach of decorum, of the fresh air that blew in, to follow like leaping dolphins in the wake of an ice-breaking vessel.
He hung his grievances on her, as one hangs a coat on a hook, instinctively.
‘I’ve reached the age — and the figure — when I do what I like.’
Did the plot mater? She shifted and looked over her right shoulder. The plot was only there to beget emotion. There were only two emotions: love; and hate. There was no need to puzzle out the plot. Perhaps Miss La Trobe meant that when she cut this knot in the centre? Don’t bother about the plot: the plot’s nothing.
[…] as if what I call myself was still floating unattached, and didn’t settle.
She felt everything they felt. Audiences were the devil. O to write a play without an audience — the play. But here she was fronting her audience. Every second they were slipping the noose. Her little game had gone wrong. If only she’d a backcloth to hang between the trees — to shut out cows, swalows, present time! But she had nothing. She had forbidden music. Grating her fingers in the bark, she damned the audience. Panic seized her. Blood seemed to pour from her shoes. This is death, death, death, she noted in the margin of her mind; when illusion fails. Unable to lift her hand, she stood facing the audience.
‘As one of the audience,’ he continued (words now put on meaning) ‘I will offer, very humbly, for I am not a critic’ — and he touched the white gate that enclosed his neck with a yellow forefinger — ‘my interpretation. No, that is too bold a word.’
Mr. Streatfield paused. He listened. Did he hear some distant music? He continued: ‘But there is still a deficit’ (he consulted his paper) ‘of one hundred and seventy-five pounds odd. So that each of us who has enjoyed this pageant has still an opp…’ The word was cut in two. A zoom severed it. Twelve aeroplanes in perfect formation like a flight of wild duck came overhead. That was the music. The audience gaped; the audience gazed. Then zoom became drone. The planes had passed. ‘…portunity,’ Mr. Streatfield continued, ‘to make a contribution.’ He signalled. Instantly collecting boxes were in operation. Hidden behind glasses they emerged. Coppers rattled. Silver jingled.
[…] if we don’t jump to conclusions, if you think, and I think, perhaps one day, thinking differently, we shall think the same?
‘Thank the actors, not the author,’ he said. ‘Or ourselves, the audience.’ (I za Drugi svetski rat kao za seosku predstavu.)
Again she lifted the heavy suit case to her shoulder. She strode off across the lawn. The house was dormant; one thread of smoke thickened against the trees. It was strange that the earth, with all those flowers incandessent — the lilies, the roses, and clumps of white flowers and bushes of burning green — should still be hard. From the earth green waters seemed to rise over her. She took her voyage away from the shore, and, raising her hand, fumbled for the latch of the iron entrance gate. She would drop her suit case in at the kitchen window, and then go up to the Inn. Since the row with the actress who had shared her bed and her purse the need of drink had grown on her. And the horror and the terror of being alone. One of these days she would break — which of the village laws? Sobriety? Chastity? Or take something that did not properly belong to her? (Život u svoje ruke?)