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by Tom Stoppard

Septimus Hodge Timeline and Summary

  • Faced with an awkward question by his student Thomasina, Septimus engages in the time-honored tradition of making stuff up.
  • Thomasina calls him on it, however, and Septimus gives her a more accurate answer to her question about what carnal embrace is (short answer: sex, but Septimus goes into greater detail than that, to Thomasina's disgust).
  • Septimus receives a letter from Ezra Chater, delivered by Jellaby the butler.
  • Septimus tells Jellaby to tell Chater that he'll meet up with him once he's finished Thomasina's lesson.
  • Septimus tries to get Thomasina to work on Fermat's last theorem, but she's more interested in discussing her own scientific discoveries.
  • Chater himself appears, and accuses Septimus of insulting his wife.
  • Septimus explains that he made love to Chater's wife, but manages to persuade the husband out of his original plan of a duel to resolve the matter.
  • Septimus convinces Chater that Mrs. Chater was just trying to ensure that Septimus wrote a good review of Chater's latest book.
  • Lady Croom, Captain Brice, and Mr. Noakes enter discussing their Extreme Makeover: Garden Edition, but Septimus thinks they're talking about more instances of carnal embrace.
  • After everyone leaves, Septimus receives a letter from Mrs. Chater delivered via Thomasina.
  • The next morning, Septimus receives another letter from Mr. Chater, delivered by Jellaby, while he is listening to Thomasina translate Latin.
  • Septimus is annoyed by Thomasina's report that her mother is in love with Lord Byron.
  • Septimus is further dismayed to learn that Lord Byron outed him to Chater at breakfast as the author of a thumbs-down review of Chater's earlier book.
  • Septimus annoys Thomasina in turn by translating her Latin assignment with ease...because he already knows the English original.
  • Septimus faces off with a re-upset Chater, who is backed this time by Captain Brice.
  • Septimus agrees to duel Chater, and then to duel Brice if he wants to tag along.
  • The next morning Septimus returns to the house early – he apparently decided to sleep in the boathouse and shoot at rabbits rather than at poets.
  • Septimus bribes Jellaby to tell him what's been going on in the house.
  • Lady Croom interrupts them, and chews out Septimus for a pair of letters he wrote, addressed to herself and her daughter to be opened in the event of his death.
  • Septimus makes tea for Lady Croom and receives a letter from Jellaby that Lord Byron left for him.
  • To please Lady Croom, Septimus burns the letter unread.
  • Septimus explains to Lady Croom that he only slept with Mrs. Chater because he couldn't sleep with Lady Croom, and she invites him to come read to her later that morning.
  • Now, it is three years later. Septimus has not only Thomasina to deal with, but also her younger brother, Augustus, who is home from school.
  • Septimus takes a second look at Thomasina's math homework after she explains the meaning of her rabbit equation.
  • Septimus shoots down Thomasina's hopes that she will one day become Mrs. Lord Byron.
  • Septimus tells Thomasina he has already forgotten that he kissed her to seal his promise to teach her to waltz as he and Lady Croom learned to do in London.
  • Septimus talks to Thomasina about the book he is reading, a French treatise on physics, and lends it to her to read.
  • Septimus is annoyed at a new addition to the household: Count Zelinsky, a Polish pianist, who is playing a duet with Lady Croom in the next room.
  • Septimus wonders how livable (and piano-resistant) Mr. Noakes's newly-constructed hermitage might be.
  • Septimus tells Thomasina to explain the diagram she has drawn, combining her French essay and her analysis of Mr. Noakes's steam engine for her homework.
  • Augustus asks Septimus to give him the birds and the bees talk, since he's heard all sorts of crazy ideas on the subject from his sister, and Septimus agrees.
  • Septimus returns to the schoolroom in the evening to grade Thomasina's homework.
  • Septimus gives in to Thomasina's insistence that he teach her to waltz, but says she must wait until the music coming from the next room, courtesy of Count Zelinsky, is suitable.
  • Septimus talks to Thomasina about her homework, which he recognizes as significant but does not quite understand himself, and then teaches her to waltz.
  • The waltz lesson is briefly interrupted when Septimus kisses Thomasina.
  • Septimus lights Thomasina's candle and warns her to be careful with the flame.
  • Septimus refuses Thomasina's invitation to come up to her room.
  • Once again Septimus and Thomasina waltz together.