William is a hard-working, affluent solicitor who spends his weeks in London and his weekends in the countryside where his wife, Isabel, and their sons, Paddy and Johnny, live permanently. About to leave for his weekend at home, William frets because he has neglected to buy presents for the children. For several weeks in a row, he has given them candy that he bought just before his trains pulled out, but they prefer other gifts. This time, he decides to take his boys fruit—a melon and a pineapple—assuming that Isabel’s perpetual houseguests will not invade the children’s bedrooms to eat the fruit, as they have done with most of the candy in past weeks.
As his train speeds toward his destination, William fantasizes about Isabel’s meeting him at the station. Consistent with his fantasy, Isabel is waiting for him, apart from the crowd. She has engaged a taxi to take him and her four houseguests—Moira Morrison and three young poets—home. William has grown to expect aesthetic, freeloading houseguests during his weekends at home.
William and Isabel formerly lived in the city, until Isabel felt stifled by that life. William doted on her, so he agreed to her moving to the country with their sons, whom he would be able to see only on weekends. In those days, he considered Isabel enticingly fresh, associating her with his childhood habit of rushing into the garden after a rainstorm to shake the rose bushes so that he might be drenched in...
(The entire section is 587 words.)