Two friends, Hollis and the narrator, were left in the city during a hot summer while everyone else had fled to cooler locations. Hollis's fiancée, Loris, was in the Adirondacks and he planned to join her in a week. In the meantime, the two friends spent their evenings trying to find cool places to dine and discuss various topics.
One evening, the narrator shared his one-act play with Hollis, who criticized a particular scene where the main character, Capt. Marchmont, discovers his wife's deceit and delivers a dramatic line.
O God, who created woman while Adam slept, and gave her to him for a companion, take back Thy gift and return instead the sleep, though it last forever!
Hollis argued that people in real life would not use such dramatic language in a moment of crisis, and that the play should reflect more realistic dialogue. The narrator, however, believed that strong emotions could bring out dramatic expressions in people, even in ordinary situations. The two friends debated this point but did not reach a conclusion.
Later, they went to Hollis's apartment to escape the heat and continue their conversation. While the narrator was preparing drinks, he heard Hollis suddenly exclaim a dramatic line similar to the one in his play. At first, he thought Hollis was mocking him, but then he saw that Hollis had received a letter. The letter revealed that Loris had run away with Tom Tolliver, Hollis's best college friend.
False, oh, God!—false, and Love is a lie and friendship but the byword of devils!
In this moment of real-life crisis, Hollis had unintentionally proven the narrator's theory that strong emotions can indeed bring out dramatic expressions in people.