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2

Ramsay.

Liesl! How kind of you to come to see me.

Magnus has been asleep for hours. But I have been worrying about you. I hope you didnt take it too badlyhis suggestion that you played rather a crucial part in Stauntons death.

No, no; I faced that, and swallowed it even before I joined you in Switzerland. While I was recovering from my heart attack, indeed. In an old Calvinist like me the voice of conscience has always spoken long before any mortal accuser.

Im glad. Glad that youre not grieving and worrying, thats to say.

Boy died as he lived: self-determined and daring, but not really imaginative. Always with a well-disguised streak of petulance that sometimes looked like malice. The stone in the snowball; the stone in the corpses mouthalways a nasty surprise for somebody.

You think he gobbled the stone to spite you?

Unquestionably. Magnus thinks I kept the stone for spite, and I suppose there was something of that in it. But I also kept it to be a continual reminder of the consequences that can follow a single action. It might have come out that it was my paperweight, but even if it didnt, he knew I would know what it was, and Boy reckoned on having the last word in our lifelong argument that way.

What a detestable man!

Not really. But its always a good idea to keep your eye on the genial, smiling ones, and especially on those who seem to be eternally young.

Jealousy, Ramsay, you battered antique.

A little jealousy, perhaps. But the principle holds.

Is that what you are making notes about, on all that excellent Savoy notepaper?

Notes for a work I have in mind. But its about Magnus; he told me, you know, that the Devil once intervened decisively in his life.

He likes to talk that way, and I am sure it is true. But life is a succession of decisive interventions. Magnus himself intervened in my life, and illuminated it, at a time when I needed an understanding friend even more than I needed a lover. It wasnt the Devil that sent him.

Why should it be? God wants to intervene in the world, and how is he to do it except through man? I think the Devil is in the same predicament. It would be queer, wouldnt it, if the Devil had only made use of Magnus that one time? And God, too: yes, certainly God as well. Its the moment of decisionof willwhen those Two nab us, and as they both speak so compellingly its tricky work to know whos talking. Where theres a will, there are always two ways.

Thats what youre making notes about? And you hope to untangle it? What vanity!

Im not expecting to untangle anything. But Im making a recorda document. Ive often talked to you about it. When were all goneyou dear Liesl, though youre much the youngest, and Magnusthere may be a few who will still prove a point with Ramsay says

Egoist!


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