Last Updated April 5, 2023.
Peter is drawn to the strange, rhythmic music of an elderly, disheveled woman singing unintelligibly in the park, who appears lost in an irrational trance. He comments that it seems like the woman has been standing in that same spot for a very long time and imagines that she is singing a song about a love that was lost that spans the entire history of the planet.
Lucrezia also hears the woman and feels sympathy toward her, but her focus is primarily directed toward her own unhappiness, which overwhelms her. Lucrezia's final chance for relief is for Sir Bradshaw to heal Septimus, so she resolves to put on a positive and hopeful demeanor and approach their appointment with a brave face.
The storyteller portrays the physical features and background of Septimus. He is a person with the potential to achieve success, but he is also well-equipped to endure hardship. This innate endurance stems from his tumultuous childhood and helped him when he eventually moved to London, a vast and impersonal city. Before the war, Septimus had a passion for literature and attended public lectures on Shakespeare, where he became enamored with the lecturer, Miss Isabel Pole. Mr. Brewer, his boss, had high hopes for Septimus and saw brilliant potential in the then-light-hearted youth.
The war traumatized Septimus, and he feels immense guilt for surviving when Evans did not. After the war, Septimus stayed at an inn in Milan, where he met Lucrezia, who was the innkeeper’s youngest daughter. In a moment of great uncertainty, he asked her to marry him, to which she readily agreed, hopeful that a new husband and new city might bring her happiness.
When they arrived in London, they walked around often, observing people's behavior and clothing. Like many things, Septimus soon found that he no longer found joy in the activity, though he could appreciate Rezia's fashion sense.
Lucrezia assumed Septimus's reserved behavior was typical of English people and did not think much of it. Upon returning to work, Septimus was greeted warmly by Mr. Brewer and resumed reading Shakespeare, but the work did not feel the same. To Septimus, the world was dirty and irredeemable, and he did not know how to cope with it. Their marriage suffered, as his apathy tainted every aspect of their lives, preventing Lucrezia from having the children she so desired.
As time went by, Septimus drifted even further into his own thoughts and perceptions, but he did not share these feelings with Lucrezia or anyone else. As his ability to cope with his situation deteriorated, he eventually agreed to accept help from others, but he feels certain that nothing will help him.