He drank solemnly and Elise sipped her sherry.
Lance said reﬂectively: ‘It’s funny how knowledge of our own weaknesses only makes us more ready to assume strength in others. For instance, you seem to think me a strong, assured character; while I am convinced that beside you I’m just a two-dimensional projection, as far as will and security goes.’
‘For instance,’ he went on, ‘I had plans for to-night. To be brutally frank, I intended to ply you with liquor and then seduce you. But as soon as we got here I realised that I didn’t have the nerve to go through with it. There’s such emphasis on sex in the Army, and for days I’ve heard the others talking about the conquests they would make as soon as they got home for a few hours. And all of them probably as weak and dishonest about it as I am. What a cowardly lot of boasters we all are!’
Impulsively, warmed by the sherries, Elise said: ‘Oh, Lance, I love you!’
He looked at her closely. ‘Do you really mean that? One thinks of oneself as so completely unlovable.’
He paused and laughed weakly.
‘It’s ridiculous! I outline my petty lascivious imaginings, and you tell me you love me. The whole thing’s fantastic.’