Short summary - Two People
Alan Alexander Milne
Quiet life on a rural estate, "good old England." Reginald Wellard is happy - he is married to a beautiful woman, so beautiful that strangers cry out with delight when they see her. He is forty years old, she is twenty-five; he adores her, and she, too, seems to him (he is not sure about this). Reginald lived hard in his youth: there was no money to study in Cambridge, and he worked at school, then at the bank, spent four years at the front, the First World War was «an orgy of roar, cruelty and dirt.» I met Sylvia and for a long time did not dare to ask for her hand, for what could he offer her, such a beauty? But there are miracles in the world. Reginald received the inheritance, bought the estate of Westways - a beautiful house, a wonderful garden ... Sylvia went with him to the village; she would have gone for Reginald anywhere, but he did not know that.
Wellard begins to breed bees, just for fun. All year round he and Sylvia are surrounded by flowers. And butterflies - what butterflies there are in their garden! And also birds: free birds on the trees, pigeons - black monks, ducks on the pond ... Reginald is truly happy, he dares even think that Sylvia is also happy, only that he has little business, and he begins to write a book. «They say that each of us carries material for at least one book,» he thinks. The novel is called "Bindweed"; initiation - "Sylvia, which clung to my heart."
Wellard is a naive and impractical person, as if deliberately created to be deceived, and of course, they conclude a predatory agreement with the new writer: half of the income from future translations of the book, film adaptations and other things should go to the publisher. This is the first acquaintance with the literary world. However, Wellard is not upset, he is happy.
It would seem that nothing should happen: a quiet man, sitting in his village, wrote a novel, even a good one, and the book is well sold out. However, a lot is happening. First of all, Reginald is upset: Sylvia is little interested in the novel itself and her husband’s growing fame. And he becomes a part of the literary beau monde, without making any effort to it - and this is pleasing to him, this amuses his vanity. Still, he is an ordinary Englishman, belonging to the middle class, the backbone of the country, and he, of course, is a member of a respectable London club. There, at the club, at the dinner table, Reginald met with the famous critic Raglan - «who does not know Raglan?» - and the equally famous Lord Ormsby, a newspaper magnate. Not so long ago, in one of Ormsby's newspapers, Raglan published a laudatory article on "Bindweed", declaring the novel "a book of the week." The recall of Raglan makes Reginald Wellard famous. Everyone reads his book, acquaintances do not skimp on compliments, the mailbox is bursting with letters: requests for an interview, to speak in a literary meeting, and so on. And the Wellards realize that it's time to leave their beloved Westaways and move to London for the winter.
A different world, a different life: a modest villager has to wear a white tie every day. Lord Ormsby invites the Wellards to dine - this is their first trip to the light. Sylvia is enjoying great success there - still, such a beauty, smart, lively! - and Reginald meets Coral Bell, the once famous actress with whom he was in love twenty-five years ago, still a schoolboy. She left the scene a long time ago, now she is an important lady, countess, but he vividly remembers her singing, and her wonderful laugh, and her extraordinary charm ... A few days later they meet by chance on Piccadilly and chatting like old friends about all kinds of nonsense and about serious matters. It turns out that Coral is not a dummy, like most pop divas, it is an intelligent and deep interlocutor. They walk for a long time, go to a cafe for tea, and Wellard returns home late, feeling guilty. He wanted to apologize to Sylvia, but he found Ormsby in her living room.
Reginald already knows the reputation of Lord Ormsby - a notorious womanizer, openly contains mistresses ... This time he prefers to remain silent - he is such a man - he not only loves Sylvia, but even feels beside her insignificance. Whatever she does is beautiful. He is silent, and life circumstances seem to take him farther and farther away from his wife, and the play is a strong impetus. The fact is that a certain famous playwright undertakes to write a play based on "The Loop", a serious theater accepts this play, and Reginald begins to go to rehearsals. Meanwhile, all the London newspapers extol his novel, critics are eagerly awaiting the performance, Wellard's life is changing more and more, and he is changing. He is getting more and more pleasure from conversations with ladies, smart and delicate people - there are enough of them in the theater circle ... There is nothing strange about this, but before, Reginald didn’t. And then Coral Bell appears in the theater, because the famous actress, with whose name the future success of the performance was associated, left the troupe and had to look for another celebrity. No one could have thought that Coral would agree to return to the stage, however, she gives her consent and takes on the role. Maybe because of Reginald?
Sylvia almost does not see her husband; she is immersed in social life and is often with Lady Ormsby; apparently, it’s not without reason that they accept her, for the lord himself, the «old satyr,» is besieging the lovely Lady Wellard with might and main. One fine day, he invites her to the premiere in a fashion theater, and ... something strange happens that, alas, Reginald could not see. Sylvia looks at Ormsby in such a way that he understands: they see him through, he is defenseless, he looks "ugly and uncouth". And, putting him in his place, Sylvia still goes with him to the theater - after all, she, a provincial, has never been to the premieres in London, she is interested to the extreme. As luck would have it, Reginald's rehearsal is delayed until late in the evening, then he invites everyone to have dinner at the restaurant, so he returns home at night. And with horror discovers that Sylvia is not. «Oh my god! .. She must have left me!»
They almost quarrel. They cannot quarrel seriously, and not only because of English restraint, but because for them the external, London life is in fact a ghost, fog, and, apart from their love, nothing exists in the world. And here comes the day of the premiere of "Bindweed"; the performance seems to be successful, but Reginald is not too interested. He suddenly realizes that he is not in love with Coral Bell at all, but she is even more so with him. He understands that he is fatally tired, and not from rehearsals, not from the theater, but from London. Spring has come: it's time to return home.
In Westawise, three cats go out to meet them at the car. Daffodils, primroses and bells have already blossomed. Imaginary life behind, real life has returned. Reginald wonders if it’s time to have a baby, and decides that it’s not time yet - he is so wonderful to be alone with Sylvia ... In the meantime, if he has to create something, he can write a new play.
In the far forest, a cuckoo's voice is heard, Sylvia is beautiful, and Reginald is happy loving her. They are both happy.