Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
A young poet is writing a poem on love on a scrap of paper. The time is eleven o’clock at night. Suddenly a violent, protracted rapping sounds on the door. As he goes to answer, he takes with him a piece of bread. Opening the door, he is confronted by the leader of a patrol of armed men in dirty uniforms. The leader states that they have come for him.
At eight o’clock on a warm springlike evening in November, Eugenia Rague comes down the stairs for a final inspection of the setting for her fiesta. English by birth but Argentine by adoption, she dominates her aristocratic surroundings as Cardinal Wolsey, whose portrait adorns her salon, dominated his. There passes through her head the memory of the lack of respect shown her by Lord Burglay and Lady Gower during her visit to London. However, she has to concentrate on her guests about to arrive.
Others in the house react differently to the hot evening. In another room, her husband, George, tries to concentrate on acquiring culture through a phonograph record, but he keeps thinking of how he could persuade Señor Raíces, after dinner, to sign a profitable stock purchase. Should delays result, he might lose everything. Intruding into these thoughts are those of his treadmill life, his wife’s incessant pressure, and his own desire to relax and perhaps to dream. The arrival of the butler with the afternoon mail interrupts and infuriates him. Then it is time for him to prepare for the party....
(The entire section is 1178 words.)
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