necromommycon: (Chase eager)
[personal profile] necromommycon
And I am herein being deliberately facetious and taking a profound and evil glee in what we'll have to call Freudian anachronisms--turns of phrase, in other words, that read like deliciously telling slips now, but were probably written in all innocence then. For, at any rate, a given value of innocence...

When I last delighted you with bits of David, his friend Frank Maddox had suffered some sort of horrible but unexplained temptation whilst looking at, well, freshly-bathed bits of David. Personally I find it hard to imagine what one would have to have wrong with one to consider schoolboys appealing, but I'm quite happy not imagining it, really.

So, moving right along, Frank and David have a heart-to-heart following the news that a schoolfriend has been expelled for...well, we don't really get told. But this pings Frank's conscience, because of that bath scene.
p. 194: Frank was still lying with his hat over his face, but now he pushed it back and looked at David.
"It's all serene for you," he said, "because you've always been a straight chap. But it's different for me. I feel just rotten."

A straight chap? Hardly. But fun to tease, apparently.
p. 196: Frank laughed.
"David, it's no sport trying to get a rise out of you," he said. "You simply rise at anything."
Well. That must make him fun to hang around with, surely.
That awkward conversation out of the way, the boys can enjoy a game of golf.
p. 201: ...absorbed in their game and yet absorbed in their friendship of boy-love, hot as fire and clean as the trickle of ice-water on a glacier. The knowledge of their talk had made Frank able to turn himself away from all the bad business of Adams's letter, and instead of brooding on the irremediable worst of himself, he took hold of all that was best. And now by his side was David, the friend of friends, now with his arm linked in his, now excitedly addressing a cupped ball with his largest driver...
Gosh, golf sounds exciting, doesn't it?
Later, the head of their house speaks to Maddox about David, who has been breaking the rules and being a little too high-spirited. Probably overexcitement brought on by too much golf, if you ask me.
p. 214: "But it can't go on," he said. "David's becoming a nuisance, and gating him and giving him lines to write is no earthly good. What he wants is a good licking and plenty of exercise. There's not an ounce of harm in him."
"Oh, he's the straightest chap in the world," said Maddox.
You keep using that word, Maddox, and I do not think it means what you think it means. Also, you should have been honest and told Adams the truth: David's had a good licking (the scene in which you beat him is indelibly etched on all our memories, I'm sure), and he's getting an absolute surplus of exercise.
By Maddox's last term at school they've begun to hang around with each other, more so then they were already doing, and their friendship is such that poor old Bags' wish that he and David be David and Jonathan comes true--but not for Bags, alas, who has, we are told at least three times, a goat-like face (and is, and I pray this is coincidental, the only Jewish character). This next bit is Adams speaking to David and Frank Maddox.
p. 241: "Yes, by all means, yes, you--you blest pair of sirens," he said, quoting from the Milton Ode which was to be sung at concert at the end of the term. "And take care of David, Jonathan, and don't let him sink from being top-heavy with pride. We shall want him to bowl next year."

They're very good chums, and David so admires Maddox that his interest in the classics dates from this speech of Frank's, in which he introduces him to the glory that was Greece.
p. 251: "Well, it wasn't only games that they were so keen about. They loved sculpture and painting and writing so much, that no one ever touched them at it, before or since. It was the consummate age, so the Head said. And then, when it came to fighting, a little potty place like Attica, no bigger than a small English county, just wiped the Persians up. In everything, so the Head told us, the Athenians of the great age were the type of the perfect physical and intellectual life. Oh, David, let's save up and go to Athens."

And it tears them up something awful that Frank, being three years older, has to leave school first.
p. 253: "It's only five weeks to the end of the half," he whispered, "and--and you don't come back."
"I know; it's foul. I was thinking of it myself. It's been keeping me awake."
David was silent a minute; then Frank spoke again.
"I'm sorry to leave for a whole heap of reasons," he said. "One more than any."
"What's that?" said David.
"Fellow called Blaize. Thought I should just like to tell you. Now don't groan any more. Go to sleep, you swell in the twenty-two."
"Right oh, fellow called Maddox," said David.
You may not have spotted this, what with being busy having to projectile vomit, but Frank just ordered David to go to sleep. Believe it or not, this will be a crucial plot point.
pp. 258-9: "David, old chap," he said, "I don't believe two fellows ever had such a good time as we've had, and it would be rot to pretend not to be sorry that this bit of it has come to an end. I dare say we shall have splendid times together again, but there's no doubt that this is over. On the other hand, it would be equal rot not to feel jolly thankful for it. The chances were millions to one against our ever coming across each other at all. So buck up, as I said."
David had rolled over on to his face, but at this he sat up, picking bits of dry grass out of his hair.
"Yes, that's so," he said. "But it will be pretty beastly without you. I shan't find another friend like you--"
"You'd jolly well better not," interrupted Frank.
David could not help laughing.
"I suppose we're rather idiots about each other," he said.
No argument here.
David falls briefly in love, but luckily unfortunately the girl is already engaged to her cousin. Poor old Bags gets to break the bad news to him.
p. 304: "I say, David," he said shyly, "if you only knew how I hate anything that hurts you. I should like to kill that chap."
And his plain, rather goat-like face glowed with that which had so long inspired him, namely, his affection for David, that shy, silent passion of friendship.
David spun the propeller once or twice.
"Well, he's a jolly lucky chap," he said at length.
Then he looked at Bags and saw in his eyes just that blind devotion that you can see in a dog's eyes, if you understand dogs.
David's playing with a model airplane there, by the way, in case you worried about what "spinning the propeller" might be a euphemism for.
Then quite suddenly on the next page DAVID IS DYING AND THEY'RE PRAYING FOR HIM IN CHAPEL. Only it turns out to be much later than that conversation with Bags, weeks or maybe months later, I've lost track. David has tried to grab a runaway horse (I couldn't figure out why at first, but it's to stop other people from being crushed horribly by it) and has--you see this coming--been crushed horribly by it. So the head is asking them to pray for him, and telling them about what may be his last words. And I must be an awful person, but I couldn't stop laughing, because I know I've read nearly exactly this scene in at least two other books. Did it used to be a requirement that there be a death or near-death, complete with solemn chapel service, in books about schools?
Then the Head spoke again.
"I have told you this on purpose," he said, "to show you how he faces death, if it is that God wishes him to face. Also to show you that, as he still hopes to live, we must hope it with him in all the power that prayer gives us. But he faces death with all the--the gay courage which he faced that which has brought him into peril of it."
No doubt.
Bags and Maddox wait together. David is weakening, because he cannot sleep, and so his youthful ability to recover from being crushed is impaired, or something. I don't know, I'm not a doctor, and neither was the person who wrote this, obviously. Bags feels badly because he didn't leap for the Horse of Crushiness, and Maddox says he wishes Bags had, which seems kind of mean.
p. 311: Bags caught his breath. "Don't know what there was about him," he said, "but there he was. Just David, you know. And he liked you most awfully. I used to get damned jealous. Sorry."

But after midnight Maddox is summoned to David's sickroom, because David's been asking for him. David wants to hold hands, so they do, and the doctor tells Maddox it's utterly vitally important he stay in that position all night, which is about as probable as all those HP fics where the Head Boy and Head Girl have to share a bathroom, but whatever. They prop Maddox's arm up with pillows and he valiantly sits there going numb. He tells David to shut up and go to sleep, and David does. See? I told you it was important.
All that morning Maddox sat by David's bed as he slept. It was he who had brought to him, through the tie of their love and David's instinctive obedience to his suggestion, the sleep that had been so imperative a need, and the sunny morning grew broad and hot as he dozed sometimes, but oftener watched, filled with a huge and humble exultation of happiness that he had been able to help David. And when David woke, as he did, a little after noon, it was the best of all. For even while his eyes were yet scarcely unclosed, he spoke just one word--Frank's name, still sleepily.
And they mutter some mushy stuff back and forth, the end. Presumably he recovers and they go to Greece.
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