He looked exactly nineteen; he was one of those people whose correct age you never know because they look exactly that and so you tell yourself that he or she cannot possibly be that because he or she looks too exactly that not to take advantage of the appearance: so you never believe implicitly is either that age which they claim or that which in sheer desperation they agree to or which something else reports them to be, strong enough and willing enough for two, for two thousand, for all. Not two of them in a New England college sitting-room but one in a Mississippi library sixty years ago, with holly and mistletoe in vases on the mantel or thrust behind, crowning and garlanding with the season and time the pictures on the walls, and a sprig or so decorating the photograph, the group - mother and two children - on the desk, behind which the father sat when the son entered; and they .. thinking how after the father spoke and before what he said stopped being shock and began to make sense, .. they paced slowly on in that rhythm which not the eyes but the heart marks and calls the beat and measure for,
to disappear slowly beyond some bush or shrub starred with white bloom - jasmine, spirea, honeysuckle, perhaps myriad scentless unpickable Cherokee roses - names, blooms which Shreve possibly had never heard and never seen although the air had blown over him first which became tempered to nourish them .. It would not matter here in Cambridge that the time had been winter in that garden too, and hence no bloom nor leaf even if there had been someone to walk there and be seen there .. and that not mattering either: what faces and what names they called themselves and were called by so long as the blood coursed - the blood, the immortal brief recent intransient blood which could hold honour above slothy unregret and love above fat and easy shame.
Random House, 1936©