There are two people, each busy with books and paper and pen and ink, separately occupied. The pupil is THOMASINA COVERLY, aged 13. The tutor is SEPTIMUS HODGE, aged 22.
THOMASINA: Septimus, what is carnal embrace?
SEPTIMUS: Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one's arms around a side of beef.
THOMASINA: Is that all?
SEPTIMUS: No. . . a shoulder of mutton, a haunch of venison well hugged, an embrace of grouse. . . caro, carnis; feminine; flesh.
THOMASINA: Is it a sin?
SEPTIMUS: Not necessarily, my lady, but when carnal embrace is sinful it is a sin of the flesh, QED. We had caro in our Gallic Wars – 'The Britons live on milk and meat' – ‘lacte et carne vivunt’. I am sorry that the seed fell on stony ground.
THOMASINA: That was the sin of Onan, wasn't it, Septimus?
SEPTIMUS: Yes. He was giving his brother's wife a Latin lesson and she was hardly the wiser after it than before. I thought you were finding a proof for Fermat's last theorem.
THOMASINA: It is very difficult, Septimus. You will have to show me how.
SEPTIMUS: If I knew how, there would be no need to ask you. Fermat's last theorem has kept people busy for a hundred and fifty years, and I hoped it would keep you busy long enough for me to read Mr Chater's poem in praise of love with only the distraction of its own absurdities.
THOMASINA: Our Mr Chater has written a poem?
SEPTIMUS: He believes he has written a poem, yes. I can see that there might be more carnality in your algebra than in Mr Chater's 'Couch of Eros'.
THOMASINA: Oh, it was not my algebra. I heard Jellaby telling cook that Mrs Chater was discovered in carnal embrace in the gazebo.
SEPTIMUS: (Pause) Really? With whom, did Je1laby happen to say?
(THOMASINA considers this with a puzzled frown.)
THOMASINA: What do you mean, with whom?
SEPTIMUS: With what? Exactly so. The idea is absurd. Where did this story come from?
THOMASINA: I think you have not been candid with me, Septimus. A gazebo is not, after all, a meat larder.
SEPTIMUS: I never said my definition was complete.
THOMASINA: Is carnal embrace kissing?
THOMASINA: And throwing one's arms around Mrs Chater?
SEPTIMUS: Yes. Now, Fermat's last theorem–
THOMASINA: I thought as much. I hope you are ashamed.
SEPTIMUS: I, my lady?
THOMASINA: If you do not teach me the true meaning of things, who will?
SEPTIMUS: Ah. Yes, I am ashamed. Carnal embrace is sexual congress, which is the insertion of the male genital organ into the female genital organ for purposes of procreation and pleasure. Fermat's last theorem, by contrast, asserts that when x, y and z are whole numbers each raised to power of n, the sum of the first two can never equal the third when n is greater than 2.
SEPTIMUS: Nevertheless, that is the theorem.
Tom Stoppard, Arcadia. Faber & Faber: 1993