Chapter 1 Summary
David Bourne and his wife, Catherine, are newlyweds spending their honeymoon on the Riviera in the south of France. It is spring, and they enjoy the leisurely pace of the seaside town—its history, its food, its Old-World conveniences. They are learning about each other’s habits and eccentricities, reveling in each other’s company. Catherine reflects that she always gets hungry after making love, which David says is only normal when one is in love. David comes up with plans on how to spend the day, claiming that he is the inventive type. Catherine says that she is the destructive type, warning David that she will destroy him.
The couple sits at the outdoor café, watching the people as the people watch them. They are dressed similarly and even look alike. People often mistake them for brother and sister. There are few other tourists, as this is before the Riviera built casinos and became such an attraction. Their casual dress sets them apart from the natives, but Catherine’s shorts provoke disapproval only from the local priest. They go to mass on Sundays, giving freely to the collection. The priest therefore does not say anything about Catherine’s shorts.
Catherine decides she will write a few letters and then later join David for some fishing. The waiter offers David special bait and promises to come later to help them. David fetches the fishing pole and goes out alone, without any luck. At last he hooks a sea bass, just as the waiter arrives to give him advice. David reels the fish in, walking it along the canal, drawing quite a crowd. Catherine sees him from her window and rushes down to help. He reels it in successfully to much fanfare from the crowd. The fish weighs fifteen pounds, so David decides to sell it since the sea bass is too big to cook for just the two of them. The restaurant ends up cooking the fish for the couple.
Catherine tells David that she has a surprise for him, but she will not yet reveal it. She warns him the surprise is dangerous and that he might not like it. They go to their room and make love. Afterward, Catherine warns David that she is going to be "changed" especially for him. Catherine dresses, telling David that she must go alone to Aigues Mortes in connection with the surprise she has planned. In her absence, David walks along the beach, feeling empty after having made love.
David and Catherine have been married for three weeks, and David finds he is...
(The entire section is 512 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
On the beach, Catherine takes a nap. David swims in the ocean even though the water is colder than it looks. Afterward, he sits by Catherine, thinking of her claim the night before that they have made “dark magic” by her "change." Despite her boyish appearance, David cannot stop focusing on her breasts. He worries, however, about what effect his wife's "change" will have on them.
David puts suntan lotion on Catherine, waking her up. He tells her to go back to sleep and finish her dream. Later they go swimming together and then drink on the shore. Catherine asks David if he minds that they are now brothers instead of husband and wife. He tells her he does not and reapplies the suntan lotion on her. She tells him that she is trying to be a good girl, that they do not have to worry that the “night things” will come in the day.
At the hotel, the postman delivers three large envelopes to David. They are from his publishers and contain advertisements for his book as well as review clippings, most of which are excellent. The book is now on its second printing on the strength of the prepublication reviews alone. He does some calculations and determines that he has earned five hundred dollars from the first printing. He anticipates six hundred and twenty-five dollars from the second printing. Catherine arrives and they both read the reviews together. Catherine is frightened by the optimism. She warns David that such positive reviews could destroy him if he thinks about them too much. He promises that he will read them and then seal them up. He argues that most wives would be happy if their husbands had good reviews, but she says that she does not want to fight. She reads her package of letters, some of which contain checks. They are not for much, she says, but neither she nor David will have to worry about money for a while.
They drink a toast to each other. Catherine is glad that they can call each other by their first names instead of endearments like “darling” or “dearest.” She asks why they should have to do what everyone else does. She refuses to be “stuffy.” She wants to have fun before she gets pregnant, whenever that might be. David, however, wants to continue to write. Catherine tells him to go ahead and write, that no one said he could not. She, on the other hand, will find something to keep her amused.
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
That night, Catherine tells David they are not confined to doing only the “devil things.” She loved it the way they were before, and she promises that she will always be his girl. She is now how she wants, but she also wants to be how he wants. She tells David that he is both her husband and her brother, and when they go to Africa she will be his African girl. David asks when they are going to Africa, but Catherine cannot remember the date they decided. David tells her it is too early in the year to go to Africa: it is the rainy season and very wet and cold. He suggests going to Spain instead, but it is the rainy season there as well. Catherine wants to find a hot spot where they can go swimming in the nude as they can on the Riviera. David warns her that they will get arrested for swimming in the nude anywhere else.
Catherine says that they should wait until it warms up and then go to Spain because she wants to get more tanned. David asks her why she wants to be so dark, but she cannot verbalize the reason. He had never imagined that she could be so dark because she is blonde. Catherine says that she is glad to be a “lion color” now and wants to be darker than an Indian.
As Catherine goes to sleep, David thinks about the day. He decides it is probably good just to enjoy their life as it is now. He will work later when he has to. His last book was good, so the next one must be even better. He thinks about their married life and is not sure how much of it is serious and how much is nonsense. There are parts that he thinks are not good, like drinking before noon. Catherine sleeps easily but he cannot; plus, she can change back and forth between a girl and a boy. He tries to remember what she had said about destruction, but he cannot. He becomes tired trying to remember, so he kisses Catherine on the cheek and thinks about how much he loves her. He goes to sleep thinking of the feel of his lips on her cheek, about what they will do the next day, and about how dark they will get.
(The entire section is 397 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
Catherine and David are driving to the Spanish coast. Catherine notices that the trees are strange and that they have been recently planted. David surmises that Spain is trying to compete with the French Riviera. Catherine is impressed with the size of the beach and the smoothness of the sand. She suggests driving immediately to a café. They enjoy eating outdoors at the small restaurant by themselves, while strangers are focused on their own dinner at their own tables. They take rooms in a large hotel, and that night the wind rises and they can hear the heavy surf on the beach below. They lie awake, listening to the sea.
In the dark under the covers, Catherine touches David, asking him again if he does not want her to change into a boy. He says that he does not want her to at the moment and that he is cold. David gives her the option of staying at this place or moving on. She suggests that they stay for a few days and see. If they decide to stay, David would like to start doing some writing. Catherine knows that he can write better if she is out of the room, so she reminds him that he does not have to worry about her. She tells David that she really has not done anything bad to their relationship. David says nothing and listens to the sound of the surf.
It is raining heavily the next morning, so Catherine bundles up and leaves so that David can work. David worries that his writing has gone too smoothly, which he thinks is a sign that it is worthless. He writes with a pencil on school tablets. Eventually he stops, grabs his raincoat, and goes downstairs. The hotel bar is gloomy but has a few customers sheltering from the rain. As he leaves his key at the desk, the concierge hands him a note from Catherine, telling him that she is at the café so that she will not disturb him. He finds her at the corner table, obviously having recently come in from the rain. The waiter brings them some absinthe, which he prepares at their table. When Catherine asks why it has to go so slowly, the waiter explains the process. He also explains that absinthe is illegal, so he cannot make it as slowly as it should be. He warns her about the effects of absinthe.
David and Catherine begin to argue about the clippings of reviews David has received. Catherine becomes angry when he tells her to shut up about them. David goes to retrieve his raincoat and leaves. As Catherine drinks her absinthe, David returns and asks her for the keys to...
(The entire section is 478 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
The next morning, the weather has cleared. Since Catherine is still asleep, David takes his notebook and starts to write, feeling that at the moment he is lucky. After a while, he notices that Catherine is still asleep, and it has past breakfast. He decides to leave her a note and go down to the café for some coffee. As he is putting his work away, however, Catherine wakes up. He explains that he was on his way to the café. She tells him to go ahead and she will join him.
David goes to the café and reads the papers, ordering food for both himself and Catherine, who arrives in a skirt, cashmere sweater, and pearls. When David asks her why she is dressed up, she explains that she plans to go into Biarritz alone while David works. She promises to bring him back a surprise. He tells her not to, but she says that she intends to anyway. She says she will be back in the afternoon.
Alone, David goes back to his newspaper, then walks around town, looking for chalets to rent. He likes this section of the town, where the mountains border the region, beyond which is Navarre. He wonders what he is doing there and regrets not working hard enough that morning. He feels everything is going too fast, dragging him along with it.
Back in the room, he is reading, sleepy after his lunch alone. He waits for Catherine, who comes in breathing hard. She leans against him, and he holds her closely and asks her what she did. She explains her experience the day before at the beauty parlor when she got her hair cut. She has now had the hairdresser cut her hair shorter, despite his protests. She says it feels like an animal, though David protests that it is beautiful. She claims that she is now a new girl, and he must make love to her, doing everything as if it were the beginning. In the morning when they awake, Catherine says that she wants to go back to sleep.
When they wake up a second time, Catherine says that she wants to have breakfast in bed, with champagne. She offers to cut her bangs shorter if David wants her to, but he likes it the way it comes over her eyes. She apologizes for hurting him by criticizing the review clippings. They decide to move on, even though they have not taken a swim there in Spain as they had planned.
(The entire section is 421 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
David and Catherine spend the morning at the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, and now are enjoying a meal and reading the newspapers. The waiter suggests that they try some gazpacho, which Catherine especially enjoys. They are taken with the African wine they are served, and Catherine remarks that she heard that Africa starts at the Pyrenees. David objects, saying that it is much more complicated than that. He points out that the Basques are in no way Africa, and Catherine adds a couple more regions. She asks why no one ever painted Africa, and David replies that there were no landscape painters, and the artists painted only what was ordered. Catherine grieves for the loss of art with Africa as its subject.
The owner suggests that they should next have some meat, but Catherine wants just a salad. He suggests some more wine, which they accept, though Catherine remarks that she should not drink and apologizes for talking so much, especially if she has been talking stupidly. David objects to this judgment and asks if it is the wine that is making her so talkative. Catherine says that it is a different type of talkativeness than that she experienced after drinking absinthe. She has resolved to start life anew and not think about herself so much. Since she has come to Spain, she has wanted to be able to paint or write but does not know how, leaving her with a sense of unsatisfied hunger. David tells her that the country is here and does not require anything. Catherine disagrees, saying that nothing exists except through oneself. When she dies, it will all be gone. David dismisses the idea of death as if it does not matter, but Catherine cannot agree. She wonders if she should go back into the world that the two of them created. After they eat, Catherine feels back to her normal self.
The rain comes and cools off the air. Catherine and David take a long bath and then lie on the bed. Catherine wonders if she should go back to being a boy, but David likes her the way she is now. She decides her "change" would not fit in Spain, which is such a proper country. David reminds her repeatedly that she is a girl. After they make love, Catherine wants to be a boy again, at least for a little while. Catherine decides that the next morning she is going back to the Prado and see all the pictures as if she were a boy.
(The entire section is 424 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
David has breakfast in the café alone because Catherine is still sleeping. He reflects that her cutting off her hair to become a boy lasted less than a month. They have been married for three months, and he hopes that he can make her happy always; however, he knows no one can take care of anybody.
After breakfast, David gets his mail and takes a walk. He then goes to the bank to cash the bank draft. He buys more newspapers and some bullfighting weeklies, and he then remembers he still has to meet Catherine. He stops at a restaurant and tries to buy a beer, but the waiter tells him it is not a “beer place.” David insults him and walks out to find a restaurant that will sell him a beer. He decides that the waiter had not meant to be insulting. He returns to the hotel for a while, and then goes to meet Catherine in the hotel bar. He reads some clippings of his reviews, but he feels no personal connection to them. A letter from his publisher was encouraging, saying that it is good that this is his second novel, as first novels are often the only good writing some authors ever manage to do. He has no interest in the publisher’s personal news.
As David reads, Colonel John Boyle greets him and offers him a job, which David turns down without even knowing what it is. David explains that he is on his honeymoon, a term that the Colonel objects to. Colonel Boyle asks David whom he married, and David discovers that Colonel Boyle knew Catherine’s father. Colonel Boyle also knows that her father and mother committed suicide. The Colonel even knows Catherine’s uncle in Paris, whom he calls worthless. David explains that he did not marry Catherine’s family.
Catherine soon joins them and orders an absinthe. David apologizes for forgetting to meet her, but Catherine expresses indifference. The Colonel says that he saw Catherine in the Prado. They discuss paintings, David, her tan, and her parents. She explains that she is back to being a boy, which Boyle recognizes in the Prado. He asks her how she got so dark, so she explains her tanning experiences over the past several weeks.
Colonel Boyle invites Catherine and David to have lunch with him. Catherine goes up to change, and David and the Colonel discuss her. Boyle is sure that everything will be right until it is wrong. The conversation turns to other people until Catherine returns. David notices that he has finished not only his drink but...
(The entire section is 560 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Walking in the park, Buen Retiro, Catherine and Dave have their promised rendezvous. Catherine tells David to walk ahead of her so she can look at him. He walks to a bench and sits down, and eventually Catherine joins him. David, however, is filled with remorse and tells his wife that it would be better if they talked in the café at the Palace. She asks if he is all right and if he wants her to come with him, but he tells her he needs to walk there alone. They smile at each other, and David leaves, but his remorse goes with him. He is not sure that he will make it to the rendezvous, but he does. By the time Catherine joins him he has had two absinthes and his remorse is gone.
David greets Catherine by calling her “Devil,” to which she replies that she is his devil and wants an absinthe too. The waiter is pleased to see her so handsome and happy. She asks David what his problem was, but he says that he had just felt rotten but is now better. She asks if it were that bad. He lies and says it wasn’t. She regrets that there had been any bad at all.
Catherine says that she has been thinking of their staying in Madrid and not going to the sea after all. During the summer there are few tourists, so they have the place almost to themselves, relatively speaking. They can stay here and then drive straight back to la Napoule on the French Riviera. David warns her that there are not that many moves left that they can make, but she pleads that they have just started. David feels his remorse returning. He takes a drink of absinthe and says it tastes just like remorse even though it takes remorse away. Catherine feels bad that he has to drink it for that purpose.
Catherine asks David if he likes her as a girl, and he replies that he does. She says that is good, but for her it is a bore. David tells her not to do it then. Catherine becomes irate, saying that she changes back and forth because he cannot make up his mind. David tells her to keep her voice down, but she says that screaming and hysterics go with being a girl. She is over her anger, so she goes up to her room to get her mail. At lunch Catherine says they will go back to la Napoule where it is quieter. They can drive to the countryside associated with the artist Cezanne because they did not stay very long when they visited there previously. David says it will be a good time for him to start writing, and Catherine decides she will study Spanish.
(The entire section is 470 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
David and Catherine return to la Napoule on the French Riviera to carry out their new plan, which only lasts a month. They are the only people staying at the hotel where they had resided previously, so the proprietor and his wife are glad to see them back. From their windows they can view the sea and smell the pines. David begins writing early in the morning. When he is finished, he finds Catherine and they go down to the beach to swim and sun. Often Catherine takes the car and goes out for a drive, so David waits for her on the terrace. The hotel is quiet because the summer season is slow. The proprietor’s wife does the cooking, a nephew serves as the waiter, and a single maid takes care of the rooms. Catherine’s shopping trips are usually limited to buying food, drink, and books.
David spends four days working constantly. Afterwards, he and Catherine spend time relaxing on the beach and in bed. Catherine tells him that she has made some plans, but this time she is not going to start so bad and wild. When David asks what her plans are, she says she will show him the next day. They must go to Cannes to the coiffeur, with whom she visited that morning. She wants David to get the same haircut she is getting. The coiffeur also wants to lighten both their hair, making them as fair as Scandinavians. David objects to this; however, Catherine points out that his hair will lighten from the sun and sea anyway. Catherine tells him he will not have to get his lightened. David says he will get up early to do some work and she can sleep as late as she wants.
David’s writing is now based on their honeymoon. He tells Catherine that he is almost up to the present. The next morning he wakes up early and goes out for a walk. He is writing about their drive from Madrid, passing a train car by car. Catherine had failed to do so, however, and there is not a spot on the road where they will meet the train again, at least not for a while.
Soon David hears her voice in the garden, so he stops writing. He locks up his manuscript and goes to eat breakfast with Catherine. She is wearing the fisherman’s shirt from the first part of their honeymoon. When David dresses, he wears the same thing. At the coiffeur’s, David agrees to whatever the plan is for their new look. The coiffeur starts on Catherine and cuts her hair very short. There is some discussion about the new color, but Catherine makes the decision with no input from...
(The entire section is 500 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
As David and Catherine drive up in their car, the patron of the hotel compliments them on what good clients (customers) they are. David goes back out to talk with the patron and comes back with a bottle of champagne. Catherine objects that it will take too long to chill. She takes David’s shirt off and drags him to bed.
Later, David looks at himself in the mirror, especially his dyed and cut hair that is now just like Catherine’s. He must admit to himself that he likes it, though it takes some effort to convince himself.
After dinner, Catherine orders another bottle of champagne, though David questions whether they should have two bottles so soon. She asks him if he has to work the next day and encourages him to do so if he needs to. At night, they hear the wind blowing through the pine trees. Catherine refers to David as a girl and tells him to shut his eyes so she can kiss him. He does not close his eyes. She tells him it is not easy to pretend to be a girl if she really is one. She begs him to be her girl and love her the way she loves him.
They drive down to Cannes in a heavy wind. He enjoys leaving his work behind. He drinks as he drives; he offers Catherine some, but she does not need it. They stop to eat a picnic lunch, huddled against the wind. Catherine says this is not much of a place and not what she had imagined it would be. She points to a road leading up to the high country; she says they could have gone up there, but it is so closed in. Catherine hates hanging villages. David says this place is nice, but Catherine does not think he is being sincere. She suggests that they get newspapers in Cannes and read them in a café. David accuses her of wanting to show off, and they begin to argue. Catherine begs him to stop, that she wanted to be good that day.
In Cannes they follow their plan and read their papers in the café out of the wind. Two girls drive up and attract the attention of both David and Catherine. Catherine asks if David knows them, but he claims he does not, though he does not think they are Americans. The two girls begin to argue. Catherine thinks they are sisters and tries to remember if she saw them in Nice. One of the girls is especially handsome, and both David and Catherine remark. She comes over to apologize and asks where they had their hair cut. The girl goes back to her friend (not her sister after all) and says she hopes they can all meet again. She returns...
(The entire section is 514 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
For two days the wind has blown. David stops working on the novel based on their honeymoon and begins to write a story about which he has been thinking at night. He starts writing and cannot seem to stop; he takes occasional breaks but always goes right back to it. Catherine does not disturb him, but the hotel proprietor comes in to talk about the weather. He says the wind, the weather, and everything has changed fast. He finds books that Catherine sent off for him. They please him very much and make him feel rich.
When Catherine returns, she brings with her the handsome girl they met the day before. Her name is Marita. Her hair had been cut as short as Catherine’s. Marita refuses a drink because she has to drive, but she takes a sip of David’s drink. David explains that the drink is strong because the wind is strong. When Marita asks if all Americans do that, David teases her and says that only the oldest families do; he includes himself in that group. Marita explains that Nina left after they had a fight. Catherine says that Nina is a bitch, but then everyone is. Marita agrees. David is disappointed when she says she is not staying. He encourages her to stay at the hotel and is sure there is a room available. Catherine also begs her to stay, at least for a few days. Inwardly, David curses at her, but outwardly he urges her to stay. Marita at last agrees.
David drives Marita to retrieve her things, and Marita tells David that she is in love with Catherine. He explains that he is in love with her too. He says the three of them will look well together. Back at the hotel, Marita is given a room close to where David works. He violently refuses to changes rooms for her. Catherine cannot understand why he is so upset because no one asked him to give up his room. She is sorry for not asking him, but she wanted a friend while he is busy working. David asks who she is, but Catherine has no idea, only that she is in love with both of them. David asks if Catherine wants to go swimming since they missed it the day before. Catherine agrees, though she suggests inviting Marita. David points out that they will have to wear swimming suits, and he hates to wear a suit with Catherine. When the wind stops, they can go off by themselves and swim. On the way, Catherine says that they will all swim without suits.
That evening, David makes martinis for himself and Marita, who explains that she has a tendency to say things she...
(The entire section is 550 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
On the third day, the wind is still blowing but not as hard as it was. David continues with his story, trying to ignore the voices of Catherine and Marita. They leave in the car, and David worries about what they are doing. The proprietor’s nephew, who serves as the waiter, brings him some whiskey and offers to bring him something to eat because he missed breakfast.
When Catherine and Marita return, it is Marita who asks if David worked well. Catherine says her slacks caused a scandal in Nice. She confesses that she and Marita kissed. She tells David to kiss her too, since Catherine is not a boy at the moment. David kisses her with more energy than he had planned. Catherine tells them to stop now that they all share the guilt.
At lunch, Catherine tells Marita that David is originally from Oklahoma, though he was taken to East Africa as a child. He had written a novel of his childhood, which Marita has read; it made her cry. Catherine tells her about his second book, which is based on his experience as a pilot in the war. David tells her she needs a nap, and Catherine realizes she has been talking too much. She asks Marita if she has enough to read. Marita has two books and asks if she may borrow more when she is done. Catherine asks if she may come to see her later.
Later, as Catherine and David are lying in bed, Catherine tells him that she had been frightened to drive that morning. She and Marita had kissed, but Catherine felt strange about it and drove on to Nice, wondering if the people there could tell. On the way home, Marita had said that Catherine would be her girl. They stopped again and kissed by the side of the road and again when they got back at the hotel. David assumes that now she has done it, she is through with it, but Catherine does not think so. She liked it and plans to continue. David tells her she does not have to, but Catherine insists that she does until she is over it. David is not sure of this and does not reply to her when she insists that she must continue to get this feeling out of her system. David announces that he is going up to Paris and can be reached through his bank. Catherine begs him to stay and help her, but he cannot. She says that Marita is in love with him. He can have her and thus wash all of it away. She goes to Marita’s room. When she returns, David is gone.
(The entire section is 450 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
David returns, having driven back from Cannes in the dark. Marita meets him at the door. She says Catherine feels terrible and that he must be kind to her. David curses both of them, which Marita accepts for herself but not for Catherine. She asks him if he wants to take care of her, because she is willing. David goes into the hotel and finds Catherine at the bar. They greet each other emotionlessly. Catherine’s dead appearance and toneless voice shocks David.
Catherine says she thought David had gone away, but he points out to her that he did not take anything when he left. He tells her the wind is finally dropping, so it will be good the next day. She says she does not care about tomorrow. David offers to make them a drink, but Catherine says it will not do any good. David disagrees, saying there is still the two of them. Catherine says there is no longer any “us.” David hands her a martini, which she pours out on the bar. David wipes it up, drinks his own martini, and then makes two more. Catherine drinks it and sits looking at the glass. David expects her to throw the glass in his face, but she puts it on the bar and says she now feels much better. Everyone loses something. They have lost something, but they cannot remember what it was.
Catherine tells David that she was not really unfaithful even though she slept with Marita. David says he never said she was, but she is sure someone said it. She asks David if she has killed their relationship, and he says she has not. She wants to go back to Marita and calm her down because she is worried about them. David curses her again, but Catherine reminds him that he took back all his anger. Catherine leaves to get Marita. David compliments the girl on how handsome she looks, but inwardly he notices how sad her eyes are.
David says he missed the swimming when he was in town, and Catherine tells him he does not know what he missed. She says that she has done what she always wanted to do, and she feels happy about it. David wants to change the subject, saying “perversion” is dull and old fashioned. Catherine replies that it is only interesting the first time one does it. David comes up with a nickname for Marita—Heiress. Marita says perversion is something girls do only when they have nothing better. Catherine has returned to her original lively self, and she leaves to get a surprise that Marita brought that morning. When she is gone, Marita kisses...
(The entire section is 496 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
David awakens after two hours of sleep. Catherine looks happy in her sleep, and he lets her sleep, looking “beautiful and young and unspoiled.” He dresses and goes outside to the room where he works. He has started a new story, which is more difficult than his previous work. It is a kind of catharsis, forcing him to deal with things that he has put off facing. He stops working at eleven o’clock, shuts up the room, and goes out to find Catherine and Marita playing chess in the garden. Catherine explains that Marita is beating her yet again. David thinks they are the two loveliest girls he has ever seen and wonders what this day will bring.
Marita asks if he had good luck with his writing. He explains that it is uphill but going well. He is hungry, but it is past breakfast. Catherine proclaims Marita the wife for the day and tells her to make David some breakfast. She goes off to get him some food, leaving David and Catherine alone. Catherine ruffles his hair, asking him if he forgot that his hair was silver. She says their hair will get lighter while their bodies get darker.
Marita returns with some caviar and toast; the young waiter follows with wine. David eats, and then the three of them go swimming and lie on the beach. After lunch, Catherine feels very tired, and all she wants to do is sleep. Marita asks if she feels unwell, but Catherine says she just feels very sleepy. David intends to put her to bed and wants to check her temperature. Catherine insists that she does not have a fever. She just wants to sleep for a very long time. Marita fetches a thermometer, but Catherine’s temperature is normal. Her pulse is a little high. David confesses he does not know what her normal pulse is like; also, an elevated pulse does not mean anything if she has no fever. If she starts to have a fever, he will bring a doctor up from Cannes. Catherine objects to seeing a doctor; she just wants to sleep. She goes to her bedroom, leaving David and Marita alone.
David asks Marita what she thinks. Marita says Catherine was happy that morning, and perhaps all this is a reaction from the day before. Marita decides to take a nap as well, and David will go back to work. They walk down to their rooms. Marita unbolts the door separating them, and David sits with her on her bed. David tells her to kiss him. Marita agrees but says she cannot have sex with him. They just lie next to each other. Catherine sleeps a long time....
(The entire section is 492 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
As David is immersed in writing his story, he is surprised to hear the car’s motor start. He had come to the most difficult part of the story and is emotionally drained. He is transported back to the heat of the East Africa of his boyhood, going on safari. He has become a character in the plot. He reflects on his father and all he found for him. He regrets that his father, a man with such a talent for disaster as well as delight, had gone the way he did. He thinks his father would have liked this story.
It is nearly noon when he emerges from his work. He walks down to the bar, where the workmen are putting up a mirror. He finds the wife of the proprietor and asks if she has any beer. She gives him a bottle eagerly and tells him that Catherine and Marita drove down to Nice. She chides him for working so hard, especially since he did not eat any breakfast. He asks for the leftover caviar. She thinks he is odd to drink beer with caviar.
David asks after his bicycle because he is alone. He offers the proprietor’s wife some caviar, and she takes a spoonful. He tells her to inform the girls that he has gone swimming, if they should return. The wife of the proprietor remarks how beautiful Marita is, though she is not as beautiful as Catherine is. David says she will do until something else comes along. To change the subject, David asks what has occasioned the new mirror above the bar. The proprietress explains that it was a gift. David is impressed with everyone’s generosity. He asks her to have her nephew check his bicycle tires.
David rides his bike on the road through the pines. He enjoys the hot sun and the smell of the trees. He stops at the high point, carries the bike on his shoulder, and walks down the trail to the beach, where he goes for a swim. He finds that he is happy to be alone and finished with his work for the day, until loneliness suddenly sweeps over him. He thinks how wrong it is to want both Catherine and Marita. He knows it cannot end well. He tries to reason through the situation but cannot. He bikes back to the hotel to find that the girls have not yet returned. He showers and then reads a magazine until they come back.
Catherine is excited but Marita seems very quiet. Catherine suddenly becomes irritable and snaps at Marita. They have lunch, and then Catherine takes a nap. Afterward, the three of them go swimming. David is concerned that Marita will kill herself the way she...
(The entire section is 484 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
Once again, David awakens before Catherine and goes out to sit alone. He looks over what he has written so far on the new story. He is taken back once again to the Africa of his childhood, physically reacting to the details he has written. He continues to write, describing the journey on the page that he has experienced in the flesh. The senses of touch, sight, and even smell are present as he relives his African adventure.
At half past ten, David looks up at the room in which he is writing, feeling now the breeze from the sea rather than the hot African wind. Quickly, though, he is taken back to the safari camp. It is evening, and he plans to shoot some meat. There he will leave the story, making his characters happy and well provided for.
He walks out to the patio and meets Marita. She has on the striped fisherman’s shirt, tennis skirt, and espadrilles that Catherine wore when they first came to the French Riviera at the start of their honeymoon. As usual, she asks him if he worked well, then kisses him good morning. She explains that Catherine went in to Cannes with instruction that Marita is to take David swimming. Marita explains that she did go into town with her because Catherine wanted her to stay and keep David company. She chides him for always skipping breakfast and then fixes him some food.
Marita asks David if it was difficult writing this day. He replies that it is always difficult but easy at the same time. Marita wishes she could help, but David tells her than no one can help in the act of writing. She asks if she can help with other things. David feels like telling her that there are no other things, but he tells her instead that she does help. Marita objects to the formal tone of their conversation. She gets up to leave, but he begs her to stay. They change to go swimming.
At their private beach, Marita tells David to swim first and then she will. After a brief swim they return to the hotel, but Catherine is still not back. David and Marita sit at the bar drinking. Marita objects to being called Heiress, so David changes it to Haya, which means “the one who blushes.”
Catherine returns, having once again gone to the hair dresser; her hair is now even whiter. That evening she comes to dinner with her hair back to the previous color, complaining that the dye left grey stains on the pillow. She says that the next day she is not going to drink but will focus on...
(The entire section is 518 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
David is back in his workroom, regretting that he cannot change anything about the situation with Catherine and Marita. Only Catherine can change it. He feels it is only in his story that he can make any sense of his life. In his role as the main character, he tries to think how his father would react; he did not give evil much importance, treating it like an old friend. His father was not vulnerable, and David reflects that only death could kill him. When he knows what his father would have thought, he decides not to put it in the story. The protagonist sleeps under the tree, undisturbed by a leopard in the night. The next day they move on to the high country, where they stay for two days and a night.
David decides that is a good stopping point for now and goes down to the bar. It is past noon, and he had intended to drive into Cannes to check on auto repairs, but it is now too late and the garages are closed. He stands at the bar and misses his father. He feels like he just left him in the African high country. He pretends his father has given him advice, but he looks in the mirror above the bar and sees that he is alone. He wonders where the girls are. They are late again, and he hopes that this time it will be nothing bad. He goes back to his room to shower and shave, then he hears the girls drive up. He feels a sudden emptiness in his stomach when he hears their laughter. The three of them have lunch. Catherine announces that David may go take a siesta with Marita without having to sleep with Catherine first. David declines. Back in their room, he once again curses Marita. Catherine assures him that, though she had asked Marita to sleep with him, Marita really wanted to do it. It is not as though he has not already had sex with her. David is disgusted with the whole situation, but he goes to Marita’s room anyway. They eventually make love again.
The three of them go down to the beach, lying back and watching the clouds. David tries not to think because thinking does no good. If he does not think, then maybe everything that is wrong might go away. The girls are talking but he ignores them. The girls have decided that they want to go back to Spain, but David must finish his story first. David says that he can write in Spain with no problem. Catherine reacts as if he refused to go and begins to argue. Eventually she goes swimming alone. Marita stays with David and asks him what he will do next. He announces...
(The entire section is 477 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
David finishes the story in four days. Marita asks if she can read it, and he willingly gives her permission. When she finishes it, she reads it over again. David asks her if she likes it. She replies that it is not something that you like or dislike. She asks him if the protagonist is his father. He tells her it is, and she asks if it was at the point described in the story that he stopped loving him. David says he always loved him; this is when he got to know him.
Marita and David return from the beach to find Catherine in the garden. She is sullen and says she went to Cannes on her own business. She chastises them both for being late to lunch. Marita leaves for a bit, and Catherine asks David pointedly if he is still drinking before lunch. She is irritated at the way he is speaking; she says it sounds as if he is trying to sound British. He offers to fix her a drink. She accepts, if it is not too much work for him. He makes three drinks, and Catherine asks whom the third drink is for. When he says it is for Marita, Catherine calls her his paramour. David says he has never heard that word pronounced and is glad she said it. He asks why she could not have said, “your dusky paramour,” as if this were dialogue from a cheap romance novel.
David asks Catherine if she does not want to try to be decent. She does not. When she sees Marita approach, she says she is glad she had the young girl before David did. She is upset that Marita was allowed to read David’s story before she did, though she admits that she has never read any of David’s stories as a way of not interfering. She testily asks if she may read it since she was the one who put up money for it. David did not have much money when he married her; she implies that she is supporting him. She continues to pester him to let her read the story.
Later, David sits at the bar while Catherine reads the story. She makes random, not always complimentary, critiques. Before she finishes it, she tears it up and throws it on the floor, calling it horrible and bestial. She claims that both David and Marita conspired to force her to read it. Marita picks up the pieces and takes them to David’s room.
In their bedroom, Catherine says that Marita will go away and David will have her shut up someplace. David had suggested that they go to Switzerland, and to Catherine’s mind this means a psychiatric hospital. She refuses to go and threatens to scream....
(The entire section is 482 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
David and Marita go to their private cove, the one they always go to when it is just the two of them. He tells her that Catherine refuses to go to Switzerland. Marita replies that she should not go to Madrid either because Spain is a bad place to “crack up.” David feels as though he and Catherine have been married all their lives and have never had anything but problems. He suggests to Marita that they go swimming. He wants to dive off the high rock. She says she will swim out and he can dive over her head. She swims to the spot, holding still, and watching him on the rock. He dives over her, but he feels he cut it too fine. They swim out, then back, and then they dress on the beach. Marita says she liked his diving that close, so he kisses her and thinks how cool and fresh she feels, still tasting of the sea.
Back at the hotel, they sit at the bar. Catherine comes in. She is tired and quiet and polite. She explains that she went to Nice and drove up above Villefranche and watched a battle cruiser come in, which is why she was so late. Marita tells her she is not very late. Catherine mentions that, as she watched the ship, all the colors were too bright, even the grays. She thought the olive trees were glittering. David says this was due to the moonlight, but she disagrees. She did not find it very nice, and it was good when she stopped watching the ship. David urges her to eat some steak because she has not eaten anything all day. He asks her if she wants something to eat besides the meat. She says the meat is fine, but she will have some salad. She asks for a bottle of wine to go with the meal. She asks for Perrier-Jouet, which she calls a “nice wine” and remembers that they were always so happy with it.
Back in their room, Catherine apologizes to David, stating that things have just speeded up so much lately. She says that she felt old that morning, though she thought it was the wrong time of the year. She began to worry and wanted to get David taken care of. He tells her that she takes wonderful care of everyone. She says she worried that the money might run out and she had done nothing. She then began to worry about his dog. David is confused until she explains that she means the dog in his Africa story. She had gone into his room and read some more of the story. She confesses that the elephants and his father frightened her. She feels old, frightened that she will not outlive his dog, even in a story.
(The entire section is 473 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
David is working hard at the story, driving himself past the point where he should have stopped. The characters, his father, himself, and Juma have picked up a trail on their safari. Juma is increasing the pace a little, tracking the elephant dung, which is still fresh. Juma comes to a slope of the mountain and sees the broken country ahead. Davey (David as a child) feels that he should have been sent back to the camp, but there is nothing to be done about it now. Davey sees the broken twigs from the elephants’ march. In the afternoon, Davey struggles against sleep but tries to keep up with the two men. When they finally make camp, Davey falls asleep instantly, and his father spreads a coat over him. He awakens when he feels Juma checking his feet for blisters. His father explains that the elephants must feed, and so should he. He goes back to sleep and wakes only once, when the moonlight strikes his face.
In the story, David tries to make the elephant come alive, remembering the details of when he had seen the elephant in the moonlight. He is not sure that he can, but he must write every day the way it was. He must always remember the things he believed because then they will be there in the writing, and he will not betray them. His writing is the only progress he has made.
David goes to the bar, makes himself a drink, and then goes to the kitchen to find Madame (the proprietor’s wife). He tells her that he is going to Cannes and will not be back for lunch. She scolds him for drinking whiskey on an empty stomach. She gives him some chicken and salad to eat with his whiskey but warns him not to drink before he eats. He explains that the soldiers drank that way in the war. She replies that it is a wonder they did not all turn out to be drunkards. “Like the French,” he responds, which touches off an argument in a friendly way. He showers, thinking that Madame does not know how things have changed since the war.
Catherine comes in, tired and discouraged because of the heat. She says she was silly to think of giving him up and wants to be as happy as they used to be in the beginning of their marriage. She asks him if he is glad to have her back, and he is. She is not going to turn him over to Marita, but they will take turns.
David and Catherine go for a swim, and then they drive into Cannes. When they return, David encounters Marita. She is reading a book very slowly. She tells him their pact...
(The entire section is 466 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
The next day, the story David is currently writing becomes weaker because he realizes that it is more than the need for sleep that makes the difference between a man and a boy. The child character David asks Juma if he may carry the rifle but is denied. David does not understand since Juma let him carry it the day before, and David is now in much better shape this day. David realizes that it is not because he is a boy and they are men that he has trouble keeping up with them: David has trouble because they are professional hunters. David’s father encourages him just to last the day out.
David’s father informs David that Juma had thought he knew where he was going, but it is only now that Juma is sure of the trail. Before they stop for the night, David shoots two birds with his slingshot, causing Juma to smile at him. When they stop for camp, David’s father praises him and Juma cooks them for dinner. They are not sitting well as far as rations are concerned. David’s father says that they are now not too far behind the elephant.
In the night, David awakens after the moon is up. He doubts that they are proud of him except for his killing of the two birds. He tracks the elephants, getting close enough to see that he had both of his tusks. He returns to camp and tells the men where the elephant is. But now he is useless to them, being rather a hindrance in their hunt. He begins to wish that he had not betrayed the elephant to them.
As David writes this story, he struggles to remember exactly how he had felt at the time. The setting is sharp and clear in his memory, but his emotions are not. He decides he must back away from the story for a while until he can feel those emotions again. He goes out to the terrace where Marita is reading. At first he is pleased to see her, but then he remembers the preposterous situation the three of them are in. He goes back to his room to find Catherine gone. He again feels the reality of Africa and returns to the terrace to ask Marita where Catherine has gone. Marita does not know; she was only supposed to tell David that Catherine will be back. David is concerned when he learns that she went off on her bike, which she has not ridden in a while.
When Catherine returns she is exhilarated from the ride. At breakfast she informs David that she is going to get her hair cut, but he does not want to go with her. They disagree about his refusal to be like her. When she...
(The entire section is 492 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
David is not sure he can go on with the story, but he knows he must. He picks it up when young David, his father, and Juma are on an old trail that looks as if elephants have been travelling it since the lava from the mountains cooled. The trail is so easy that Juma lets David carry the rifle. They lose the trail at one point amidst piles of fresh dung. Eventually they find the herd and move past it to find the trail of the bull elephant they are tracking. It turns off on to a smaller trail, and Juma smiles as if he has a dirty secret. Soon they come across the secret, which is a skull as high as David’s chest. Juma points out the tracks that show where the bull elephant stood by the skull. This is the skull of an elephant Juma had killed previously. He says that this elephant was the friend of the one they are tracking. David wonders how long the elephants had been friends, and Juma tells him probably four or five times the length of David’s life.
David again feels bad about tracking this elephants. His father does not need to kill elephants to live, and Juma would not have found the elephant if David had not tracked him and told the men where it was. He now regrets doing so and vows never to tell them anything again. All Juma will do with the money from the ivory is get drunk and buy another wife. David quietly curses elephant hunting, but his father overhears him and warns him not to mess it up. David realizes that his father knows how he feels and will never trust him again, which is fine with David.
At this point, David stops writing, feeling he still does not have it right. He is unable to describe the trail or the skull adequately enough. Once again he finds Marita reading and the two of them get a drink at the bar. He asks where Catherine has gone, but Marita can only tell him that she left happy. He asks Marita how she is and if she is too shy for him to kiss her. They hold each other, and he begins to feel whole again, healed from the emotions of the memories that he is putting in writing. The wind becomes light and cool, and David tells her that it signals the approach of the equinoctial storms from Kurdistan.
Marita has been reading his book about the war; David says he tries not to think about it. Marita says she does not understand about David, since he never made it clear what he believed. He says he avoided thinking during the war but only moved mechanically. She asks to read the story he is...
(The entire section is 532 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
David joins Catherine and Marita in the bar, where the girls taunt him. He tells Catherine that she should have asked him before giving Marita his manuscript about their honeymoon. Catherine agrees that she should, but she found it so interesting that she thought Marita should read it too. If Catherine had asked David, he would have said no. He says he is through with the honeymoon narrative, which Catherine says is dirty since that was her present. Marita begs him to continue, and Catherine wants him to put Marita into the story. David says he will go on with it when he finishes the stories of his childhood.
David asked what the girls did with their day. Catherine says she made decisions and planned things, which sounds ominous to David. Catherine objects to his groaning and says he was busy all day and she had the right to make a few plans. First, she wants to see about getting the book out, having the manuscript typed up, and arranging for illustrations. David asks her what she is going to do if he does not want the book brought out yet. She replies that someone must get started on something practical. She names several famous artists whom she plans on approaching for the illustrations. She is more interested in the narrative of their honeymoon than his stories of Africa and his father.
The conversation switches to Catherine’s trip around town, but soon it changes back to David’s book. David explains that he just does not want the work mixed up. Catherine points out to him that, with all his jumping back and forth between the novel and the stories, it is he who is getting it mixed up. David leaves to shower, and when he returns, Catherine has left to check on his room. He asks Marita how Catherine is, but Marita has no idea. She knows Catherine has given up sex, saying it does not interest her anymore. If she takes it up again, she might have an affair with another woman.
Catherine returns, and Marita thanks her for letting her and David spend the day together. Catherine says they can spend the rest of their lives together, if they do not bore each other. She has no further need of either of them. David confronts her about her intended affair with another woman. Catherine says she wants to try one more time to see if she has missed anything. She has tried to be both a boy and a girl for David, and it has not been successful. They tire of arguing and all agree to be friends.
David decides that...
(The entire section is 539 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
In the morning, David continues working on his story. The elephant is wandering, though David feels he is getting close to it. He does not love the elephant, he remembers; he only regrets having to track him. It was good when he initially followed the elephant in the moonlight, but to track it to kill is not what he wants. He imagines the elephant is going to the place where it was born, and his father and Juma will kill it there.
They close in on the elephant. David can smell him and hear him pulling down branches. David stays behind as his father and Juma move forward. He hears a squalling and a smashing and then a shot. David goes into the growth and finds Juma bleeding and his father angry. The elephant went for Juma and knocked him over, but Juma managed to hit him in the head. They follow the blood; there is plenty of it. Eventually they find him. He is unable to move in agony. David’s father fires again. The elephant turns its head and David’s father fires again. The elephant is still not dead. He looks David in the eye. David’s father tells him to shoot the elephant in the ear, but David cannot. Juma comes up with the skin of his forehead hanging down. He grabs the rifle and shoots the elephant. David notices that a different kind of blood comes now, and the elephant loses its beauty. He becomes just a huge wrinkled pile, dead.
During the next few days, David’s father tries to bring David around to being proud of the elephant’s death. But David had been proud that the elephant charged Juma. He wonders if the elephant recognized Juma. The elephant is his hero now, David thinks.
When David finishes the story, he reads it over and sees several holes he must fix. He remembers his emotions at the elephant’s death and how it had ceased to be dignified once it died. David’s father had tried to explain that the elephant had killed several people. David is now swayed but states that he wished the elephant had killed Juma. It is not until much later that David and his father became friends again.
David comes out of the workroom and finds Marita on the terrace. He kisses her, and she is proud that he was able to finish the story. She asks to read it, but he says that it is too lovely a day. She insists, so he gives her the keys to fetch it. When she finishes it, she kisses him and tells him how proud she is of him. He asks her if she can actually smell the smells of Africa, and of course...
(The entire section is 489 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
When David and Marita return to the hotel, Catherine’s car is there. David walks Marita to her room and asks what she is doing that afternoon. She does not know, but she will be here. He goes down to join Catherine at the bar. She asks him what brought them back. He explains they had lunch in town. Catherine then asks him, “How is your whore?” He says that he does not have one. She says she meant the one he writes stories for:
The dreary dismal little stories about your adolescence with your bogus drunken father.
He refuses to be drawn into her ill-tempered argument. She belittles his stories, calling them “pointless anecdotes.” David drinks but does not find any warmth in it or in Catherine, who offers to get Marita for him.
While David waits for her to come back, he reads the newspaper she left on the bar. He drinks some wine and notices how little is left in the bottle from which Catherine was drinking. The alcohol still does nothing for him. He is glad he has had some breakthrough in writing. He thinks that the strength of his second book will carry on through the rest of his writing. He thinks about Catherine’s comments about them, and he deciding he needs to grow up and face what he needs to face without being hurt. Catherine understands less and less. As long as he can work, nothing can touch him. The next day he needs to revise the story, but he does not want to touch it, preferring to leave it alone for a while.
David’s thoughts turn to Catherine and Marita, and he wonders if he should go find them. It is his day with Marita, according to Catherine’s schedule, and she might be waiting to do something with him. He goes to Marita’s room, interrupting her and Catherine’s conversation. Laughingly, Catherine tells him to come in. They are lying in bed together, covered by the sheet. Catherine tells him they have been waiting for him. Marita had been in bed when Catherine crawled in next to her, but Marita had asked her to leave. David turns to Marita and asks if she wants to go swimming. David leaves so she can change, though (as Catherine points out) he has seen her naked at the beach when they swim. He goes to the front of the hotel and watches the naval ships far out to see. Both girls come up to him and Catherine announces that she is going swimming too. They watch the ships and the sea planes. The latter pass the beach where David and...
(The entire section is 508 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary
David, Marita, and Catherine return to the beach. David checks the boxes with his stories and clippings to find them all gone. He cannot believe that Catherine has taken it, but in the back of his mind he knew that she might. He checks other places, thinking perhaps she took them for a joke. He cannot convince himself that she destroyed them. When he goes down to the bar, Marita looks at him directly; she knows what happened. Catherine looks only at his reflection in the bar window. He asks her where she put them. She says simply that she “took care of them.” David begs her to tell him where they are because he needs them very much. She does not think he really does because they were worthless and she hated them.
When David presses Catherine to tell him what she did with the stories and clippings, she tells him that she paid for them, but she refuses to say what she did with them. She wants David to tell Marita to go away. Marita says that she was going anyway. When she leaves, Catherine tells David that she burned them in Madame’s trash barrel. David goes to see if there is anything left, but there are only ashes. When he returns to the bar, Catherine says that it would have been enough to burn only the clippings, but then she decided to make a clean sweep. She tells David that now he can concentrate on the narrative of their honeymoon, with nothing to distract him. If he wants, he can go back to Africa and rewrite the stories from a mature point of view.
David pours himself a drink and suggests that they no longer talk about writing. Catherine disagrees; she says it is constructive. She thinks that David wrote so well until he started writing those stories. She keeps on talking, so he tells her to write it down. Catherine says that if he were friendly, he would write them out for her. David’s reply is that at the moment all he wants to do is kill her but does not because she is crazy. Catherine tells David that she will stay married to him and refuse to give him a divorce. He says he is sorry he ever met her and married her. He is sorry that she was ever born.
Catherine tells him she is going away in the morning to find artists for the book. She is taking the car, but he does not think she should drive alone. She is contacting her lawyers to have the value of the stories determined, and she will have that money put into David’s account. He leaves her and goes to Marita’s room, asking if she would...
(The entire section is 471 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary
David and Marita drive along the beach until he sees the white painted bridge ahead. He slows down a little and then stops when he comes to the bridge. He drives back on the road again toward Cannes. He tells Marita that Catherine burned all his stories and clippings. She is shocked. When they reach Cannes, David drives to the café where he and Catherine first met Marita. Marita asks if he would not rather go someplace else. David replies that he does not care, that it makes no difference anyway. Marita suggests that they might just drive, but David says he wants to cool out to see if the car is in good enough shape for Catherine to drive it to Paris. Marita is surprised that Catherine is going and asks David if he wants her to go with Catherine. David asks her if she thinks something will really happen to her. Marita believes that Catherine has done her damage for a while. David agrees because Catherine has burned everything except the narrative, which is about her. Marita tries to tell him that it is a wonderful narrative, but David says she does not need to buck him up. He does not want to hear anything positive about this situation. Marita suggests that he write it again, but David knows this is impossible. He can only write like that one time on a particular topic. He is allowed so many incidents like that in his life, and he cannot go back and redo them. No one can remember the good stories the way they were.
Marita tells David that Catherine was wicked to him, but he disagrees, saying that she burned the manuscripts because she was hurried. Marita hopes that he will be as kind to her. He tells her to stay around and help him not to kill her. He tells her that Catherine plans on paying him for the stories and even having lawyers appraise them. Marita begs David not to let Catherine drive alone, and he knows this would not be good. He does not know what he is going to do, but he just wants to sit and think for a bit. He thinks there is no hurry, that Catherine has gone to sleep. David suggests that Marita did not know what she was getting into when she joined them, but Marita entered this relationship with her eyes open. Later, David calls for the waiter and pays for his drinks. As he starts the car, the entire situation comes back to him. Marita commiserates with him; she tells him there is nothing to do, but they will do it anyway.
(The entire section is 445 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary
When David and Marita return to the hotel, Madame Aurol (the wife of the proprietor) has a letter for David. She says that Catherine took the train to Biarritz immediately after David and Marita left. She offers to fix them some dinner. David reads the letter and then asks Madame if Catherine seemed like herself when she left. Madame replies that perhaps she did not. He tells her that she will be back and they will take good care of her. Madame begins to cry a little, so David comforts her.
David gets a bottle of wine for their dinner and fills three glasses. He does not know to what they should drink, so he toasts themselves and their liberty. They drink again without making a toast, and Marita urges David to eat. He does so, but very slowly. Madame tells him that nothing is helped by his refusing to eat. He continues to eat slowly and drinks more champagne.
David asks Madame where Catherine left the car. The young waiter drove down with her to the station, left the car there, and brought back the key. Madame begs him to eat some more and also to have more wine. She urges Marita to drink too, but she says that she is not thirsty. David tells Madame that he does not want to drink too much because the next day will be a bad day. Madame leaves, and David eats all his chicken and salad. David and Marita wish Madame goodnight and go out to the terrace. They go to Marita’s room and go to bed.
Marita tells David that she loves him, and it is so sure now. To himself, David thinks that nothing is sure. She says that before she thought he would not like the sort of wife who could not sleep. He asks her what kind of wife she is not. Marita replies that she is a happy one. Eventually they go to sleep.
When David wakes up, he feels happy until he remembers what happened. David looks at Marita as she sleeps. He thinks how beautiful she is and that her spirit has not gone from her body when she sleeps. He showers in his and Catherine’s room, then he gets dressed and goes to the kitchen. He takes a bottle of beer out to the bar and rereads Catherine’s letter. She wrote that she knows how terrible it was for her to burn his stories, like hitting a child with a car. She promises that she will be back and they will settle things. She tells him that she loves him and that she is sorry, though that is a useless word. When he finishes, he reads it again. He grabs another beer, thinking of his choices. First, he can...
(The entire section is 505 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
David tries to write another story, but he cannot. He writes one sentence and cannot think of the sentence that should come next. He crosses it out and tries again, still with no result. He keeps this up for four hours until he realizes that it is no good. He admits this without accepting it, closes the notebook, and goes to find Marita.
Marita is sitting on the terrace, reading. She looks at his face and sees that he has had no success. It is beyond a simple “no,” he says. She offers him a drink, which he gladly accepts. They go inside the bar, bringing the day with them. David reflects that it is a good day because each warm day now is special. Summer should have ended long ago. He thinks that they should not waste such a good day but make it as good as they can.
Marita tells David that he was right to try that morning, but it would be best not to think of it anymore that day. David is happy to do this and reaches out for another drink. He points out to Marita what a lovely day it is and that they should do something. She suggests a swim, and David agrees. When David asks if they should tell Madame that they will be late for lunch, Marita informs him that Madame has already put up a cold lunch for them. They drive up the road and go down to their beach. He undresses and goes up to the rock to dive. He asks Marita if she wants to dive as well, but she will wait for him. She wades out into the water, which she tells him is much cooler than it has been; it is almost cold. He dives into the water and swims up next to her. They swim out of the cove and into the deep water. David kisses Marita’s breasts and says they taste like the sea. They swim further out and lie on the water. When they are tired, they swim back to the beach. Marita states that Catherine would not have become tired, but David disagrees strongly with this. They cannot do anything about Catherine, so they agree not to think about her. David assures Marita that he loves her, and Catherine has burned out the Bournes, which now mean David and Marita. They go back to the hotel and, after drinking at the bar, go to bed together.
(The entire section is 415 words.)
Chapter 30 Summary
When David wakes up the next morning, he at first does not know where he is. The light is gray, and there are different pine trees from the ones he is used to seeing outside his window each morning. Past them is a long stretch to the sea. He cannot feel his right arm and realizes that he must have fallen asleep on it. He notices the strange bed and sees Marita sleeping beside him. He then remembers everything and looks at her with love. He kisses her, covers her with a sheet, and then climbs out of bed.
David puts on his dressing gown and goes out into the cool morning dew, thinking of how beautiful Marita looked lying in bed. He goes to his room and takes a shower, then dresses and goes down to his work room. He stops at Marita’s door and opens it very carefully. He stands for a moment to look at her sleeping. Quietly he closes the door and goes to his room.
David sharpens five pencils and begins to write a story about his father and a raid during the Maji-Maji rebellion in Tanganyika from 1905 to 1907. This incident started the trek across the lake in one of his previous stories that Catherine had destroyed. In the new story, David makes the crossing and completes the trek on the first day, even though the sunrise stops their travel because the heat is so great. The mirages make the heat even more unbearable.
By the time the morning has advanced, David has written to the part of the story where he, as its protagonist, is leaving the first camp, a place with fig trees and a waterfall coming down an escarpment. David discovers that he knows so much more about his father than when he had written the story the first time. He can measure his progress by how many details make his father even more real and more multidimensional. He realizes that he, as a writer of stories, is lucky his father was such a complicated man.
David continues to write, editing as he goes. Everything is perfect, even better than the first version. By two o’clock he has written more than it had taken him five days to write in the original story. He keeps writing without any sign that it would not all come back to him in an improved form.
(The entire section is 402 words.)