[Seventeen-year-old Virginia, bartering with Adam to deflower her in exchange for one of her mother's lover's manuscripts] came towards him radiantly. "Take me, Adam," she whispered. She took his hand and placed it over her breast. Adam groaned and closed his eyes.
"I can't, Virginia. I daren't. I haven't...taken precautions."
"Don't worry about that, darling," she murmured in his ear. Her breath made his skin tingle. With his free hand he began to stroke her back.
"You mean," he said hoarsely, letting his fingers slide down her spine.
"I don't mind taking a chance."
He opened his eyes and jumped back. "Are you mad?"
She came after him. "I don't, really I don't."
"Well, I do," Adam said. He sat down, feeling faint. He had nearly lost control that time. He racked his brains for some further means of procrastination. "Have you got a thermometer?" he said.
"Yes, I think so. Why?"
"If you really want to go through with this, you'll have to take your temperature."
"You are a funny man." With an air of humouring him, Virginia rummaged in the drawer of her dressing-table and withdrew, from a jumble of broken combs, broken jewelery, broken fountain-pens and broken rosaries, a miraculously unbroken thermometer. He took it from her and, having shaken down the mercury, slid it under her tongue.
"Sit on the bed," he ordered.
She looked like a naughty child, sitting there naked with the thermometer in her mouth. Adam drew up a chair and took a paper and pencil from his pocket.
"Now, how long was the shortest of your last three periods?" he enquired.
Virginia spat out the thermometer. "I haven't the foggiest," she said. "What is this all about?"
Adam replaced the thermometer. "I'm trying to determine whether this is a safe time for relations," he explained.
"Not very romantic," Virginia seemed indistinctly to say.
"Sex isn't," he snapped back. He plucked the thermometer out and examined it. "97.6," he announced, and wrote the figure down. He stood up and began to collect the Merrymarsh papers with the air of a doctor at the end of a consultation. "Now, if you'll just go on taking your temperature every night and drop me a line when it rises sharply for three consecutive days, we'll see what we can do."....[pp. 155-156]
Friday, August 24, 2007
David Lodge's comic novel The British Museum Is Falling Down improvises an opportunity for practicing Roman Catholic Adam Appleby to...practice: