'Now then, I want you to stand up to Underhill and, uh…Put paid to him.'
'I can't tell you that, I'm afraid. Sorry to be a bore, but I'll have to leave the whole thing to you. I hope you make it.'
'Surely you know? Whether I will or not?'
The young man sighed, swallowed audibly and smoothed his fair hair. ‘No. I don’t. I only wish I did. People think I have foreknowledge, which is a useful thing for them to think in a way, but the whole idea’s nonsense logically unless you rule out free will, and I can’t do that. They were just trying to make me out to be grander than I could possibly be, for very nice motives a lot of the time.’
'No doubt. Anyway, I don't care for doing what you want. Your record doesn't impress me.'
'I dare say it doesn't, in your sense of impress. But all sorts of chaps have noticed that I can be very hard on those who don't behave as I feel they should. That ought to weigh with you.'
'It doesn't much, when I think of how hard you can be on people who couldn't possibly have done anything to offend you.'
'I know, children and such. But do stop talking like a sort of anti-parson, old man. It's nothing to do with offending or punishing or any of that father-figure stuff; it's purely and simply the run of the play. No malice in the world. Well, I think you'll take notice of what I've said when you turn it over in your mind afterwards.'
—A conversation between Maurice Allington, “drunk and seeing ghosts and half of my head”, and a young man, “about twenty-eight years old, with a squarish, clean-shaven, humorous, not very trustworthy face, unabundant eyebrows and eyelashes, and very good teeth,” aka the devil, from Kingsely Amis’s ghost story, The Green Man.