It’s a beautiful Saturday in Summer Street, and Mr. Beebe and Freddy decide to visit the Emersons. Freddy is skeptical.
We observe the Emerson abode with Freddy and Mr. Beebe. The house is mostly populated with books; George’s taste is unsurprisingly somewhat avant-garde.
A quote is written on the wardrobe. It reads “Mistrust any enterprises that require new clothes,” a slight variation on a Thoreau quote. Freddy is even less sure about his new neighbors after noticing this.
Some Giotto prints are scattered around, no doubt purchased in Florence.
While waiting for their hosts, Mr. Beebe and Freddy talk about Lucy, who is back from London. Apparently things are better than ever between her and Cecil (on the outside, at least).
Poor Freddy feels stupid. He is worried that Lucy will change now that she’s marrying Cecil; their mother thinks that Lucy will read all kinds of new books and get new ideas.
George finally comes to speak to them, and is introduced to Freddy.
Freddy, for reasons known only to him, immediately asks George if he would like to go swimming. George agrees. Mr. Beebe is amused by the oddness of youth.
Mr. Emerson emerges as Mr. Beebe makes a comment about how women would never introduce themselves in such a fashion (“How d’ye do? Come and have a bathe”), and puts forth his view that men and women are equal, and that we’ll all find the Garden of Eden when we stop being ashamed of our bodies.
Freddy, unhappy with the philosophical turn the conversation is taking, insists upon the “bathe.”
After some slightly off-kilter introductions are finished, the two young men and the clergyman head off to find Freddy’s pond.
George is an unenthusiastic conversationalist. Mr. Beebe tries to engage him in some small talk about the coincidence of them all meeting up; George thinks it’s all capital-F-Fate instead of mere chance.
The men arrive at the pond, which is small but beautiful. It’s overflowing a bit from recent rainy weather, and sounds fairly idyllic.
Mr. Beebe attempts to uphold polite conversation about the local plant life, George moodily undresses, and Freddy “prances” into the pond.
The pond is barely big enough for one person – Freddy swims around as much as he can, pleased with the water. George tumbles in accidentally, and grudgingly admits that it’s pretty nice. Mr. Beebe agrees to bathe as well. Freddy swallows a pollywog (tadpole).
Though it is reminiscent of swimming in a salad, there’s something magical about the pond – the men are overtaken by boyish playfulness, and goof around. A giant water-fight breaks out, which devolves into a naked soccer game played with bundles of clothing. The younger men let loose, and run off with Mr. Beebe’s clothes.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Honeychurch, Lucy, and Cecil happen to be strolling to the forest at this very moment. Mr. Beebe notices them, tries to catch George and Freddy’s attention, but fails. The men belatedly attempt to hide, as Cecil attempts to lead the women to “safety.” Freddy is discovered, and tries to explain himself to his mother who, we gather, is both alarmed and perhaps a little amused.
George, unperturbed, yells over to Freddy that he has caught a fish. Freddy responds intelligently that he has swallowed another pollywog.
George emerges, partially dressed and “radiant,” and very improperly (but enthusiastically) greets Lucy. Lucy and her mother bow to him, unsure of what else to do, and head off home.
Overnight, the pond shrinks back to its normal size, but the spirit of youthful abandon it inspired doesn’t wear off – we suspect that this means there are more hijinks to come.