Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Voyage Out, by Virginia Woolf

Part 1 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.


by Virginia Woolf

Chapter I

As the streets that lead from the Strand to the Embankment
are very narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm.
If you persist, lawyers' clerks will have to make flying leaps
into the mud; young lady typists will have to fidget behind you.
In the streets of London where beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity
must pay the penalty, and it is better not to be very tall,
to wear a long blue cloak, or to beat the air with your left hand.

One afternoon in the beginning of October when the traffic was
becoming brisk a tall man strode along the edge of the pavement
with a lady on his arm. Angry glances struck upon their backs.
The small, agitated figures--for in comparison with this couple most
people looked small--decorated with fountain pens, and burdened with
despatch-boxes, had appointments to keep, and drew a weekly salary,
so that there was some reason for the unfriendly stare which was
bestowed upon Mr. Ambrose's height and upon Mrs. Ambrose's cloak.
But some enchantment had put both man and woman beyond the reach of malice
and unpopularity. In his guess one might guess from the moving lips
that it was thought; and in hers from the eyes fixed stonily straight
in front of her at a level above the eyes of most that it was sorrow.
It was only by scorning all she met that she kept herself from tears,
and the friction of people brushing past her was evidently painful.
After watching the traffic on the Embankment for a minute or two
with a stoical gaze she twitched her husband's sleeve, and they
crossed between the swift discharge of motor cars. When they were
safe on the further side, she gently withdrew her arm from his,
allowing her mouth at the same time to relax, to tremble; then tears
rolled down, and leaning her elbows on the balustrade, she shielded
her face from the curious. Mr. Ambrose attempted consolation;
he patted her shoulder; but she showed no signs of admitting him,
and feeling it awkward to stand beside a grief that was greater
than his, he crossed his arms behind him, and took a turn along
the pavement.

The embankment juts out in angles here and there, like pulpits;
instead of preachers, however, small boys occupy them, dangling string,
dropping pebbles, or launching wads of paper for a cruise.
With their sharp eye for eccentricity, they were inclined to think
Mr. Ambrose awful; but the quickest witted cried "Bluebeard!"
as he passed. In case they should proceed to tease his wife,
Mr. Ambrose flourished his stick at them, upon which they decided
that he was grotesque merely, and four instead of one cried
"Bluebeard!" in chorus.

Although Mrs. Ambrose stood quite still, much longer than is natural,
the little boys let her be. Some one is always looking into the river
near Waterloo Bridge; a couple will stand there talking for half
an hour on a fine afternoon; most people, walking for pleasure,
contemplate for three minutes; when, having compared the occasion with
other occasions, or made some sentence, they pass on. Sometimes the
flats and churches and hotels of Westminster are like the outlines
of Constantinople in a mist; sometimes the river is an opulent purple,
sometimes mud-coloured, sometimes sparkling blue like the sea.
It is always worth while to look down and see what is happening.
But this lady looked neither up nor down; the only thing she had seen,
since she stood there, was a circular iridescent patch slowly floating
past with a straw in the middle of it. The straw and the patch swam
again and again behind the tremulous medium of a great welling tear,
and the tear rose and fell and dropped into the river. Then there
struck close upon her ears--

Lars Porsena of Clusium
By the nine Gods he swore--

and then more faintly, as if the speaker had passed her on his walk--

That the Great House of Tarquin
Should suffer wrong no more.

Yes, she knew she must go back to all that, but at present she must weep.
Screening her face she sobbed more steadily than she had yet done,
her shoulders rising and falling with great regularity. It was this
figure that her husband saw when, having reached the polished Sphinx,
having entangled himself with a man selling picture postcards, he turned;
the stanza instantly stopped. He came up to her, laid his hand
on her shoulder, and said, "Dearest." His voice was supplicating.
But she shut her face away from him, as much as to say, "You can't
possibly understand."

As he did not leave her, however, she had to wipe her eyes, and to
raise them to the level of the factory chimneys on the other bank.
She saw also the arches of Waterloo Bridge and the carts moving
across them, like the line of animals in a shooting gallery.
They were seen blankly, but to see anything was of course to end her
weeping and begin to walk.

"I would rather walk," she said, her husband having hailed a cab
already occupied by two city men.

The fixity of her mood was broken by the action of walking.
The shooting motor cars, more like spiders in the moon than
terrestrial objects, the thundering drays, the jingling hansoms,
and little black broughams, made her think of the world she lived in.
Somewhere up there above the pinnacles where the smoke rose in a
pointed hill, her children were now asking for her, and getting
a soothing reply. As for the mass of streets, squares, and public
buildings which parted them, she only felt at this moment how little
London had done to make her love it, although thirty of her forty
years had been spent in a street. She knew how to read the people
who were passing her; there were the rich who were running to and from
each others' houses at this hour; there were the bigoted workers
driving in a straight line to their offices; there were the poor
who were unhappy and rightly malignant. Already, though there
was sunlight in the haze, tattered old men and women were nodding
off to sleep upon the seats. When one gave up seeing the beauty
that clothed things, this was the skeleton beneath.

A fine rain now made her still more dismal; vans with the odd
names of those engaged in odd industries--Sprules, Manufacturer
of Saw-dust; Grabb, to whom no piece of waste paper comes amiss--
fell flat as a bad joke; bold lovers, sheltered behind one cloak,
seemed to her sordid, past their passion; the flower women,
a contented company, whose talk is always worth hearing, were sodden hags;
the red, yellow, and blue flowers, whose heads were pressed together,
would not blaze. Moreover, her husband walking with a quick
rhythmic stride, jerking his free hand occasionally, was either
a Viking or a stricken Nelson; the sea-gulls had changed his note.

"Ridley, shall we drive? Shall we drive, Ridley?"

Mrs. Ambrose had to speak sharply; by this time he was far away.

The cab, by trotting steadily along the same road, soon withdrew
them from the West End, and plunged them into London. It appeared
that this was a great manufacturing place, where the people
were engaged in making things, as though the West End, with its
electric lamps, its vast plate-glass windows all shining yellow,
its carefully-finished houses, and tiny live figures trotting
on the pavement, or bowled along on wheels in the road, was the
finished work. It appeared to her a very small bit of work for such
an enormous factory to have made. For some reason it appeared
to her as a small golden tassel on the edge of a vast black cloak.

Observing that they passed no other hansom cab, but only vans
and waggons, and that not one of the thousand men and women she
saw was either a gentleman or a lady, Mrs. Ambrose understood
that after all it is the ordinary thing to be poor, and that
London is the city of innumerable poor people. Startled by this
discovery and seeing herself pacing a circle all the days
of her life round Picadilly Circus she was greatly relieved
to pass a building put up by the London County Council for Night Schools.

"Lord, how gloomy it is!" her husband groaned. "Poor creatures!"

What with the misery for her children, the poor, and the rain,
her mind was like a wound exposed to dry in the air.

At this point the cab stopped, for it was in danger of being
crushed like an egg-shell. The wide Embankment which had had room
for cannonballs and squadrons, had now shrunk to a cobbled lane
steaming with smells of malt and oil and blocked by waggons.
While her husband read the placards pasted on the brick announcing
the hours at which certain ships would sail for Scotland,
Mrs. Ambrose did her best to find information. From a world
exclusively occupied in feeding waggons with sacks, half obliterated
too in a fine yellow fog, they got neither help nor attention.
It seemed a miracle when an old man approached, guessed their condition,
and proposed to row them out to their ship in the little boat
which he kept moored at the bottom of a flight of steps. With some
hesitation they trusted themselves to him, took their places,
and were soon waving up and down upon the water, London having shrunk
to two lines of buildings on either side of them, square buildings
and oblong buildings placed in rows like a child's avenue of bricks.

The river, which had a certain amount of troubled yellow light in it,
ran with great force; bulky barges floated down swiftly escorted by tugs;
police boats shot past everything; the wind went with the current.
The open rowing-boat in which they sat bobbed and curtseyed across
the line of traffic. In mid-stream the old man stayed his hands upon
the oars, and as the water rushed past them, remarked that once he
had taken many passengers across, where now he took scarcely any.
He seemed to recall an age when his boat, moored among rushes,
carried delicate feet across to lawns at Rotherhithe.

"They want bridges now," he said, indicating the monstrous
outline of the Tower Bridge. Mournfully Helen regarded him,
who was putting water between her and her children. Mournfully she
gazed at the ship they were approaching; anchored in the middle
of the stream they could dimly read her name--_Euphrosyne_.

Very dimly in the falling dusk they could see the lines of the rigging,
the masts and the dark flag which the breeze blew out squarely behind.

As the little boat sidled up to the steamer, and the old man shipped
his oars, he remarked once more pointing above, that ships all
the world over flew that flag the day they sailed. In the minds
of both the passengers the blue flag appeared a sinister token,
and this the moment for presentiments, but nevertheless they rose,
gathered their things together, and climbed on deck.

Down in the saloon of her father's ship, Miss Rachel Vinrace,
aged twenty-four, stood waiting her uncle and aunt nervously.
To begin with, though nearly related, she scarcely remembered them;
to go on with, they were elderly people, and finally, as her father's
daughter she must be in some sort prepared to entertain them.
She looked forward to seeing them as civilised people generally
look forward to the first sight of civilised people, as though
they were of the nature of an approaching physical discomfort--
a tight shoe or a draughty window. She was already unnaturally
braced to receive them. As she occupied herself in laying forks
severely straight by the side of knives, she heard a man's voice
saying gloomily:

"On a dark night one would fall down these stairs head foremost,"
to which a woman's voice added, "And be killed."

As she spoke the last words the woman stood in the doorway. Tall,
large-eyed, draped in purple shawls, Mrs. Ambrose was romantic and beautiful;
not perhaps sympathetic, for her eyes looked straight and considered
what they saw. Her face was much warmer than a Greek face; on the
other hand it was much bolder than the face of the usual pretty Englishwoman.

"Oh, Rachel, how d'you do," she said, shaking hands.

"How are you, dear," said Mr. Ambrose, inclining his forehead
to be kissed. His niece instinctively liked his thin angular body,
and the big head with its sweeping features, and the acute,
innocent eyes.

"Tell Mr. Pepper," Rachel bade the servant. Husband and wife then
sat down on one side of the table, with their niece opposite to them.

"My father told me to begin," she explained. "He is very busy
with the men. . . . You know Mr. Pepper?"

A little man who was bent as some trees are by a gale on one side
of them had slipped in. Nodding to Mr. Ambrose, he shook hands
with Helen.

"Draughts," he said, erecting the collar of his coat.

"You are still rheumatic?" asked Helen. Her voice was low
and seductive, though she spoke absently enough, the sight
of town and river being still present to her mind.

"Once rheumatic, always rheumatic, I fear," he replied. "To some
extent it depends on the weather, though not so much as people
are apt to think."

"One does not die of it, at any rate," said Helen.

"As a general rule--no," said Mr. Pepper.

"Soup, Uncle Ridley?" asked Rachel.

"Thank you, dear," he said, and, as he held his plate out,
sighed audibly, "Ah! she's not like her mother." Helen was just
too late in thumping her tumbler on the table to prevent Rachel
from hearing, and from blushing scarlet with embarrassment.

"The way servants treat flowers!" she said hastily. She drew
a green vase with a crinkled lip towards her, and began pulling out
the tight little chrysanthemums, which she laid on the table-cloth,
arranging them fastidiously side by side.

There was a pause.

"You knew Jenkinson, didn't you, Ambrose?" asked Mr. Pepper across
the table.

"Jenkinson of Peterhouse?"

"He's dead," said Mr. Pepper.

"Ah, dear!--I knew him--ages ago," said Ridley. "He was the hero
of the punt accident, you remember? A queer card. Married a young
woman out of a tobacconist's, and lived in the Fens--never heard
what became of him."

"Drink--drugs," said Mr. Pepper with sinister conciseness.
"He left a commentary. Hopeless muddle, I'm told."

"The man had really great abilities," said Ridley.

"His introduction to Jellaby holds its own still," went on Mr. Pepper,
"which is surprising, seeing how text-books change."

"There was a theory about the planets, wasn't there?" asked Ridley.

"A screw loose somewhere, no doubt of it," said Mr. Pepper,
shaking his head.

Now a tremor ran through the table, and a light outside swerved.
At the same time an electric bell rang sharply again and again.

"We're off," said Ridley.

A slight but perceptible wave seemed to roll beneath the floor;
then it sank; then another came, more perceptible. Lights slid right
across the uncurtained window. The ship gave a loud melancholy moan.

"We're off!" said Mr. Pepper. Other ships, as sad as she,
answered her outside on the river. The chuckling and hissing of water
could be plainly heard, and the ship heaved so that the steward
bringing plates had to balance himself as he drew the curtain.
There was a pause.

"Jenkinson of Cats--d'you still keep up with him?" asked Ambrose.

"As much as one ever does," said Mr. Pepper. "We meet annually.
This year he has had the misfortune to lose his wife, which made
it painful, of course."

"Very painful," Ridley agreed.

"There's an unmarried daughter who keeps house for him, I believe,
but it's never the same, not at his age."

Both gentlemen nodded sagely as they carved their apples.

"There was a book, wasn't there?" Ridley enquired.

"There _was_ a book, but there never _will_ be a book," said Mr. Pepper
with such fierceness that both ladies looked up at him.

"There never will be a book, because some one else has written
it for him," said Mr. Pepper with considerable acidity.
"That's what comes of putting things off, and collecting fossils,
and sticking Norman arches on one's pigsties."

"I confess I sympathise," said Ridley with a melancholy sigh.
"I have a weakness for people who can't begin."

". . . The accumulations of a lifetime wasted," continued Mr. pepper.
"He had accumulations enough to fill a barn."

"It's a vice that some of us escape," said Ridley. "Our friend
Miles has another work out to-day."

Mr. Pepper gave an acid little laugh. "According to my calculations,"
he said, "he has produced two volumes and a half annually,
which, allowing for time spent in the cradle and so forth,
shows a commendable industry."

"Yes, the old Master's saying of him has been pretty well realised,"
said Ridley.

"A way they had," said Mr. Pepper. "You know the Bruce collection?--
not for publication, of course."

"I should suppose not," said Ridley significantly. "For a Divine
he was--remarkably free."

"The Pump in Neville's Row, for example?" enquired Mr. Pepper.

"Precisely," said Ambrose.

Each of the ladies, being after the fashion of their sex,
highly trained in promoting men's talk without listening to it,
could think--about the education of children, about the use
of fog sirens in an opera--without betraying herself. Only it
struck Helen that Rachel was perhaps too still for a hostess,
and that she might have done something with her hands.

"Perhaps--?" she said at length, upon which they rose and left,
vaguely to the surprise of the gentlemen, who had either thought
them attentive or had forgotten their presence.

"Ah, one could tell strange stories of the old days," they heard
Ridley say, as he sank into his chair again. Glancing back,
at the doorway, they saw Mr. Pepper as though he had suddenly loosened
his clothes, and had become a vivacious and malicious old ape.

Winding veils round their heads, the women walked on deck.
They were now moving steadily down the river, passing the dark
shapes of ships at anchor, and London was a swarm of lights with
a pale yellow canopy drooping above it. There were the lights
of the great theatres, the lights of the long streets, lights that
indicated huge squares of domestic comfort, lights that hung high
in air. No darkness would ever settle upon those lamps, as no
darkness had settled upon them for hundreds of years. It seemed
dreadful that the town should blaze for ever in the same spot;
dreadful at least to people going away to adventure upon the sea,
and beholding it as a circumscribed mound, eternally burnt,
eternally scarred. From the deck of the ship the great city
appeared a crouched and cowardly figure, a sedentary miser.

Leaning over the rail, side by side, Helen said, "Won't you be cold?"
Rachel replied, "No. . . . How beautiful!" she added a moment later.
Very little was visible--a few masts, a shadow of land here,
a line of brilliant windows there. They tried to make head against
the wind.

"It blows--it blows!" gasped Rachel, the words rammed down her throat.
Struggling by her side, Helen was suddenly overcome by the spirit
of movement, and pushed along with her skirts wrapping themselves round
her knees, and both arms to her hair. But slowly the intoxication
of movement died down, and the wind became rough and chilly.
They looked through a chink in the blind and saw that long cigars
were being smoked in the dining-room; they saw Mr. Ambrose throw
himself violently against the back of his chair, while Mr. Pepper
crinkled his cheeks as though they had been cut in wood.
The ghost of a roar of laughter came out to them, and was drowned
at once in the wind. In the dry yellow-lighted room Mr. Pepper
and Mr. Ambrose were oblivious of all tumult; they were in Cambridge,
and it was probably about the year 1875.

"They're old friends," said Helen, smiling at the sight.
"Now, is there a room for us to sit in?"

Rachel opened a door.

"It's more like a landing than a room," she said. Indeed it
had nothing of the shut stationary character of a room on shore.
A table was rooted in the middle, and seats were stuck to the sides.
Happily the tropical suns had bleached the tapestries to a faded
blue-green colour, and the mirror with its frame of shells, the work
of the steward's love, when the time hung heavy in the southern seas,
was quaint rather than ugly. Twisted shells with red lips like
unicorn's horns ornamented the mantelpiece, which was draped by a pall
of purple plush from which depended a certain number of balls.
Two windows opened on to the deck, and the light beating through them
when the ship was roasted on the Amazons had turned the prints on
the opposite wall to a faint yellow colour, so that "The Coliseum"
was scarcely to be distinguished from Queen Alexandra playing
with her Spaniels. A pair of wicker arm-chairs by the fireside
invited one to warm one's hands at a grate full of gilt shavings;
a great lamp swung above the table--the kind of lamp which makes
the light of civilisation across dark fields to one walking in
the country.

"It's odd that every one should be an old friend of Mr. Pepper's,"
Rachel started nervously, for the situation was difficult,
the room cold, and Helen curiously silent.

"I suppose you take him for granted?" said her aunt.

"He's like this," said Rachel, lighting on a fossilised fish
in a basin, and displaying it.

"I expect you're too severe," Helen remarked.

Rachel immediately tried to qualify what she had said against
her belief.

"I don't really know him," she said, and took refuge in facts,
believing that elderly people really like them better than feelings.
She produced what she knew of William Pepper. She told Helen
that he always called on Sundays when they were at home; he knew
about a great many things--about mathematics, history, Greek,
zoology, economics, and the Icelandic Sagas. He had turned Persian
poetry into English prose, and English prose into Greek iambics;
he was an authority upon coins; and--one other thing--oh yes,
she thought it was vehicular traffic.

He was here either to get things out of the sea, or to write upon
the probable course of Odysseus, for Greek after all was his hobby.

"I've got all his pamphlets," she said. "Little pamphlets.
Little yellow books." It did not appear that she had read them.

"Has he ever been in love?" asked Helen, who had chosen a seat.

This was unexpectedly to the point.

"His heart's a piece of old shoe leather," Rachel declared,
dropping the fish. But when questioned she had to own that she
had never asked him.

"I shall ask him," said Helen.

"The last time I saw you, you were buying a piano," she continued.
"Do you remember--the piano, the room in the attic, and the great
plants with the prickles?"

"Yes, and my aunts said the piano would come through the floor,
but at their age one wouldn't mind being killed in the night?"
she enquired.

"I heard from Aunt Bessie not long ago," Helen stated. "She is afraid
that you will spoil your arms if you insist upon so much practising."

"The muscles of the forearm--and then one won't marry?"

"She didn't put it quite like that," replied Mrs. Ambrose.

"Oh, no--of course she wouldn't," said Rachel with a sigh.

Helen looked at her. Her face was weak rather than decided,
saved from insipidity by the large enquiring eyes; denied beauty,
now that she was sheltered indoors, by the lack of colour and
definite outline. Moreover, a hesitation in speaking, or rather
a tendency to use the wrong words, made her seem more than normally
incompetent for her years. Mrs. Ambrose, who had been speaking much
at random, now reflected that she certainly did not look forward to
the intimacy of three or four weeks on board ship which was threatened.
Women of her own age usually boring her, she supposed that girls
would be worse. She glanced at Rachel again. Yes! how clear it
was that she would be vacillating, emotional, and when you said
something to her it would make no more lasting impression than
the stroke of a stick upon water. There was nothing to take hold
of in girls--nothing hard, permanent, satisfactory. Did Willoughby
say three weeks, or did he say four? She tried to remember.

At this point, however, the door opened and a tall burly man
entered the room, came forward and shook Helen's hand with an
emotional kind of heartiness, Willoughby himself, Rachel's father,
Helen's brother-in-law. As a great deal of flesh would have been
needed to make a fat man of him, his frame being so large,
he was not fat; his face was a large framework too, looking, by the
smallness of the features and the glow in the hollow of the cheek,
more fitted to withstand assaults of the weather than to express
sentiments and emotions, or to respond to them in others.

"It is a great pleasure that you have come," he said, "for both
of us."

Rachel murmured in obedience to her father's glance.

"We'll do our best to make you comfortable. And Ridley. We think
it an honour to have charge of him. Pepper'll have some one to
contradict him--which I daren't do. You find this child grown,
don't you? A young woman, eh?"

Still holding Helen's hand he drew his arm round Rachel's shoulder,
thus making them come uncomfortably close, but Helen forbore
to look.

"You think she does us credit?" he asked.

"Oh yes," said Helen.

"Because we expect great things of her," he continued, squeezing his
daughter's arm and releasing her. "But about you now." They sat down
side by side on the little sofa. "Did you leave the children well?
They'll be ready for school, I suppose. Do they take after you
or Ambrose? They've got good heads on their shoulders, I'll be bound?"

At this Helen immediately brightened more than she had yet done,
and explained that her son was six and her daughter ten.
Everybody said that her boy was like her and her girl like Ridley.
As for brains, they were quick brats, she thought, and modestly she
ventured on a little story about her son,--how left alone for a minute
he had taken the pat of butter in his fingers, run across the room
with it, and put it on the fire--merely for the fun of the thing,
a feeling which she could understand.

"And you had to show the young rascal that these tricks wouldn't do, eh?"

"A child of six? I don't think they matter."

"I'm an old-fashioned father."

"Nonsense, Willoughby; Rachel knows better."

Much as Willoughby would doubtless have liked his daughter
to praise him she did not; her eyes were unreflecting as water,
her fingers still toying with the fossilised fish, her mind absent.
The elder people went on to speak of arrangements that could be
made for Ridley's comfort--a table placed where he couldn't help
looking at the sea, far from boilers, at the same time sheltered
from the view of people passing. Unless he made this a holiday,
when his books were all packed, he would have no holiday whatever;
for out at Santa Marina Helen knew, by experience, that he would work
all day; his boxes, she said, were packed with books.

"Leave it to me--leave it to me!" said Willoughby, obviously intending
to do much more than she asked of him. But Ridley and Mr. Pepper
were heard fumbling at the door.

"How are you, Vinrace?" said Ridley, extending a limp hand
as he came in, as though the meeting were melancholy to both,
but on the whole more so to him.

Willoughby preserved his heartiness, tempered by respect.
For the moment nothing was said.

"We looked in and saw you laughing," Helen remarked. "Mr. Pepper
had just told a very good story."

"Pish. None of the stories were good," said her husband peevishly.

"Still a severe judge, Ridley?" enquired Mr. Vinrace.

"We bored you so that you left," said Ridley, speaking directly
to his wife.

As this was quite true Helen did not attempt to deny it,
and her next remark, "But didn't they improve after we'd gone?"
was unfortunate, for her husband answered with a droop of his shoulders,
"If possible they got worse."

The situation was now one of considerable discomfort for every
one concerned, as was proved by a long interval of constraint
and silence. Mr. Pepper, indeed, created a diversion of a kind
by leaping on to his seat, both feet tucked under him, with the
action of a spinster who detects a mouse, as the draught struck
at his ankles. Drawn up there, sucking at his cigar, with his
arms encircling his knees, he looked like the image of Buddha,
and from this elevation began a discourse, addressed to nobody,
for nobody had called for it, upon the unplumbed depths of ocean.
He professed himself surprised to learn that although Mr. Vinrace
possessed ten ships, regularly plying between London and Buenos Aires,
not one of them was bidden to investigate the great white monsters
of the lower waters.

"No, no," laughed Willoughby, "the monsters of the earth are too
many for me!"

Rachel was heard to sigh, "Poor little goats!"

"If it weren't for the goats there'd be no music, my dear;
music depends upon goats," said her father rather sharply,
and Mr. Pepper went on to describe the white, hairless, blind monsters
lying curled on the ridges of sand at the bottom of the sea,
which would explode if you brought them to the surface,
their sides bursting asunder and scattering entrails to the winds
when released from pressure, with considerable detail and with
such show of knowledge, that Ridley was disgusted, and begged him to stop.

From all this Helen drew her own conclusions, which were gloomy enough.
Pepper was a bore; Rachel was an unlicked girl, no doubt prolific
of confidences, the very first of which would be: "You see,
I don't get on with my father." Willoughby, as usual, loved his
business and built his Empire, and between them all she would be
considerably bored. Being a woman of action, however, she rose,
and said that for her part she was going to bed. At the door
she glanced back instinctively at Rachel, expecting that as two
of the same sex they would leave the room together. Rachel rose,
looked vaguely into Helen's face, and remarked with her slight stammer,
"I'm going out to t-t-triumph in the wind."

Mrs. Ambrose's worst suspicions were confirmed; she went down
the passage lurching from side to side, and fending off the wall
now with her right arm, now with her left; at each lurch she
exclaimed emphatically, "Damn!"

Chapter II

Uncomfortable as the night, with its rocking movement,
and salt smells, may have been, and in one case undoubtedly was,
for Mr. Pepper had insufficient clothes upon his bed, the breakfast
next morning wore a kind of beauty. The voyage had begun,
and had begun happily with a soft blue sky, and a calm sea.
The sense of untapped resources, things to say as yet unsaid,
made the hour significant, so that in future years the entire journey
perhaps would be represented by this one scene, with the sound
of sirens hooting in the river the night before, somehow mixing in.

The table was cheerful with apples and bread and eggs. Helen handed
Willoughby the butter, and as she did so cast her eye on him
and reflected, "And she married you, and she was happy, I suppose."

She went off on a familiar train of thought, leading on to all
kinds of well-known reflections, from the old wonder, why Theresa
had married Willoughby?

"Of course, one sees all that," she thought, meaning that one sees
that he is big and burly, and has a great booming voice, and a fist
and a will of his own; "but--" here she slipped into a fine analysis
of him which is best represented by one word, "sentimental," by which
she meant that he was never simple and honest about his feelings.
For example, he seldom spoke of the dead, but kept anniversaries
with singular pomp. She suspected him of nameless atrocities
with regard to his daughter, as indeed she had always suspected
him of bullying his wife. Naturally she fell to comparing her
own fortunes with the fortunes of her friend, for Willoughby's
wife had been perhaps the one woman Helen called friend, and this
comparison often made the staple of their talk. Ridley was a scholar,
and Willoughby was a man of business. Ridley was bringing out the third
volume of Pindar when Willoughby was launching his first ship.
They built a new factory the very year the commentary on Aristotle--
was it?--appeared at the University Press. "And Rachel," she looked
at her, meaning, no doubt, to decide the argument, which was
otherwise too evenly balanced, by declaring that Rachel was not
comparable to her own children. "She really might be six years old,"
was all she said, however, this judgment referring to the smooth
unmarked outline of the girl's face, and not condemning her otherwise,
for if Rachel were ever to think, feel, laugh, or express herself,
instead of dropping milk from a height as though to see what kind of
drops it made, she might be interesting though never exactly pretty.
She was like her mother, as the image in a pool on a still summer's
day is like the vivid flushed face that hangs over it.

Meanwhile Helen herself was under examination, though not from either
of her victims. Mr. Pepper considered her; and his meditations,
carried on while he cut his toast into bars and neatly buttered them,
took him through a considerable stretch of autobiography. One of
his penetrating glances assured him that he was right last night
in judging that Helen was beautiful. Blandly he passed her the jam.
She was talking nonsense, but not worse nonsense than people usually
do talk at breakfast, the cerebral circulation, as he knew to his cost,
being apt to give trouble at that hour. He went on saying "No" to her,
on principle, for he never yielded to a woman on account of her sex.
And here, dropping his eyes to his plate, he became autobiographical.
He had not married himself for the sufficient reason that he had
never met a woman who commanded his respect. Condemned to pass
the susceptible years of youth in a railway station in Bombay,
he had seen only coloured women, military women, official women;
and his ideal was a woman who could read Greek, if not Persian,
was irreproachably fair in the face, and able to understand
the small things he let fall while undressing. As it was he
had contracted habits of which he was not in the least ashamed.
Certain odd minutes every day went to learning things by heart;
he never took a ticket without noting the number; he devoted
January to Petronius, February to Catullus, March to the Etruscan
vases perhaps; anyhow he had done good work in India, and there
was nothing to regret in his life except the fundamental defects
which no wise man regrets, when the present is still his.
So concluding he looked up suddenly and smiled. Rachel caught
his eye.

"And now you've chewed something thirty-seven times, I suppose?"
she thought, but said politely aloud, "Are your legs troubling you
to-day, Mr. Pepper?"

"My shoulder blades?" he asked, shifting them painfully.
"Beauty has no effect upon uric acid that I'm aware of," he sighed,
contemplating the round pane opposite, through which the sky and sea
showed blue. At the same time he took a little parchment volume
from his pocket and laid it on the table. As it was clear that he
invited comment, Helen asked him the name of it. She got the name;
but she got also a disquisition upon the proper method of making roads.
Beginning with the Greeks, who had, he said, many difficulties
to contend with, he continued with the Romans, passed to England
and the right method, which speedily became the wrong method,
and wound up with such a fury of denunciation directed against
the road-makers of the present day in general, and the road-makers
of Richmond Park in particular, where Mr. Pepper had the habit
of cycling every morning before breakfast, that the spoons fairly
jingled against the coffee cups, and the insides of at least four
rolls mounted in a heap beside Mr. Pepper's plate.

"Pebbles!" he concluded, viciously dropping another bread pellet
upon the heap. "The roads of England are mended with pebbles!
'With the first heavy rainfall,' I've told 'em, 'your road
will be a swamp.' Again and again my words have proved true.
But d'you suppose they listen to me when I tell 'em so, when I
point out the consequences, the consequences to the public purse,
when I recommend 'em to read Coryphaeus? No, Mrs. Ambrose, you will
form no just opinion of the stupidity of mankind until you have sat
upon a Borough Council!" The little man fixed her with a glance
of ferocious energy.

"I have had servants," said Mrs. Ambrose, concentrating her gaze.
"At this moment I have a nurse. She's a good woman as they go,
but she's determined to make my children pray. So far, owing to
great care on my part, they think of God as a kind of walrus;
but now that my back's turned--Ridley," she demanded, swinging round
upon her husband, "what shall we do if we find them saying the Lord's
Prayer when we get home again?"

Ridley made the sound which is represented by "Tush." But Willoughby,
whose discomfort as he listened was manifested by a slight movement
rocking of his body, said awkwardly, "Oh, surely, Helen, a little
religion hurts nobody."

"I would rather my children told lies," she replied, and while
Willoughby was reflecting that his sister-in-law was even more eccentric
than he remembered, pushed her chair back and swept upstairs.
In a second they heard her calling back, "Oh, look! We're out at sea!"

They followed her on to the deck. All the smoke and the houses
had disappeared, and the ship was out in a wide space of sea very
fresh and clear though pale in the early light. They had left
London sitting on its mud. A very thin line of shadow tapered on
the horizon, scarcely thick enough to stand the burden of Paris,
which nevertheless rested upon it. They were free of roads,
free of mankind, and the same exhilaration at their freedom ran
through them all. The ship was making her way steadily through small
waves which slapped her and then fizzled like effervescing water,
leaving a little border of bubbles and foam on either side.
The colourless October sky above was thinly clouded as if by the trail
of wood-fire smoke, and the air was wonderfully salt and brisk.
Indeed it was too cold to stand still. Mrs. Ambrose drew her arm
within her husband's, and as they moved off it could be seen from
the way in which her sloping cheek turned up to his that she had
something private to communicate. They went a few paces and Rachel
saw them kiss.

Down she looked into the depth of the sea. While it was slightly
disturbed on the surface by the passage of the _Euphrosyne_,
beneath it was green and dim, and it grew dimmer and dimmer until
the sand at the bottom was only a pale blur. One could scarcely
see the black ribs of wrecked ships, or the spiral towers made
by the burrowings of great eels, or the smooth green-sided monsters
who came by flickering this way and that.

--"And, Rachel, if any one wants me, I'm busy till one," said her father,
enforcing his words as he often did, when he spoke to his daughter,
by a smart blow upon the shoulder.

"Until one," he repeated. "And you'll find yourself some employment,
eh? Scales, French, a little German, eh? There's Mr. Pepper who knows
more about separable verbs than any man in Europe, eh?" and he went
off laughing. Rachel laughed, too, as indeed she had laughed ever since she
could remember, without thinking it funny, but because she admired her father.

But just as she was turning with a view perhaps to finding
some employment, she was intercepted by a woman who was so broad
and so thick that to be intercepted by her was inevitable.
The discreet tentative way in which she moved, together with her
sober black dress, showed that she belonged to the lower orders;
nevertheless she took up a rock-like position, looking about her to see
that no gentry were near before she delivered her message, which had
reference to the state of the sheets, and was of the utmost gravity.

"How ever we're to get through this voyage, Miss Rachel, I really
can't tell," she began with a shake of her head. "There's only
just sheets enough to go round, and the master's has a rotten place
you could put your fingers through. And the counterpanes. Did you
notice the counterpanes? I thought to myself a poor person would
have been ashamed of them. The one I gave Mr. Pepper was hardly fit
to cover a dog. . . . No, Miss Rachel, they could _not_ be mended;
they're only fit for dust sheets. Why, if one sewed one's finger
to the bone, one would have one's work undone the next time they
went to the laundry."

Her voice in its indignation wavered as if tears were near.

There was nothing for it but to descend and inspect a large pile
of linen heaped upon a table. Mrs. Chailey handled the sheets
as if she knew each by name, character, and constitution. Some had
yellow stains, others had places where the threads made long ladders;
but to the ordinary eye they looked much as sheets usually do look,
very chill, white, cold, and irreproachably clean.

Suddenly Mrs. Chailey, turning from the subject of sheets,
dismissing them entirely, clenched her fists on the top of them,
and proclaimed, "And you couldn't ask a living creature to sit
where I sit!"

Mrs. Chailey was expected to sit in a cabin which was large enough,
but too near the boilers, so that after five minutes she could
hear her heart "go," she complained, putting her hand above it,
which was a state of things that Mrs. Vinrace, Rachel's mother,
would never have dreamt of inflicting--Mrs. Vinrace, who knew every
sheet in her house, and expected of every one the best they could do,
but no more.

It was the easiest thing in the world to grant another room,
and the problem of sheets simultaneously and miraculously solved itself,
the spots and ladders not being past cure after all, but--

"Lies! Lies! Lies!" exclaimed the mistress indignantly, as she
ran up on to the deck. "What's the use of telling me lies?"

In her anger that a woman of fifty should behave like a child
and come cringing to a girl because she wanted to sit where she
had not leave to sit, she did not think of the particular case, and,
unpacking her music, soon forgot all about the old woman and her sheets.

Mrs. Chailey folded her sheets, but her expression testified to
flatness within. The world no longer cared about her, and a ship
was not a home. When the lamps were lit yesterday, and the sailors
went tumbling above her head, she had cried; she would cry
this evening; she would cry to-morrow. It was not home. Meanwhile she
arranged her ornaments in the room which she had won too easily.
They were strange ornaments to bring on a sea voyage--china pugs,
tea-sets in miniature, cups stamped floridly with the arms of the city
of Bristol, hair-pin boxes crusted with shamrock, antelopes' heads in
coloured plaster, together with a multitude of tiny photographs,
representing downright workmen in their Sunday best, and women
holding white babies. But there was one portrait in a gilt frame,
for which a nail was needed, and before she sought it Mrs. Chailey
put on her spectacles and read what was written on a slip of paper
at the back:

"This picture of her mistress is given to Emma Chailey by Willoughby
Vinrace in gratitude for thirty years of devoted service."

Tears obliterated the words and the head of the nail.

"So long as I can do something for your family," she was saying,
as she hammered at it, when a voice called melodiously in the passage:

"Mrs. Chailey! Mrs. Chailey!"

Chailey instantly tidied her dress, composed her face, and opened
the door.

"I'm in a fix," said Mrs. Ambrose, who was flushed and out of breath.
"You know what gentlemen are. The chairs too high--the tables
too low--there's six inches between the floor and the door.
What I want's a hammer, an old quilt, and have you such a thing
as a kitchen table? Anyhow, between us"--she now flung open the door
of her husband's sitting room, and revealed Ridley pacing up and down,
his forehead all wrinkled, and the collar of his coat turned up.

"It's as though they'd taken pains to torment me!" he cried,
stopping dead. "Did I come on this voyage in order to catch
rheumatism and pneumonia? Really one might have credited Vinrace
with more sense. My dear," Helen was on her knees under a table,
"you are only making yourself untidy, and we had much better recognise
the fact that we are condemned to six weeks of unspeakable misery.
To come at all was the height of folly, but now that we are here I
suppose that I can face it like a man. My diseases of course will
be increased--I feel already worse than I did yesterday, but we've
only ourselves to thank, and the children happily--"

"Move! Move! Move!" cried Helen, chasing him from corner
to corner with a chair as though he were an errant hen.
"Out of the way, Ridley, and in half an hour you'll find it ready."

She turned him out of the room, and they could hear him groaning
and swearing as he went along the passage.

"I daresay he isn't very strong," said Mrs. Chailey, looking at
Mrs. Ambrose compassionately, as she helped to shift and carry.

"It's books," sighed Helen, lifting an armful of sad volumes
from the floor to the shelf. "Greek from morning to night.
If ever Miss Rachel marries, Chailey, pray that she may marry a man
who doesn't know his ABC."

The preliminary discomforts and harshnesses, which generally make
the first days of a sea voyage so cheerless and trying to the temper,
being somehow lived through, the succeeding days passed pleasantly enough.
October was well advanced, but steadily burning with a warmth that made
the early months of the summer appear very young and capricious.
Great tracts of the earth lay now beneath the autumn sun, and the whole
of England, from the bald moors to the Cornish rocks, was lit up from
dawn to sunset, and showed in stretches of yellow, green, and purple.
Under that illumination even the roofs of the great towns glittered.
In thousands of small gardens, millions of dark-red flowers were blooming,
until the old ladies who had tended them so carefully came down
the paths with their scissors, snipped through their juicy stalks,
and laid them upon cold stone ledges in the village church.
Innumerable parties of picnickers coming home at sunset cried,
"Was there ever such a day as this?" "It's you," the young men whispered;
"Oh, it's you," the young women replied. All old people and many sick
people were drawn, were it only for a foot or two, into the open air,
and prognosticated pleasant things about the course of the world.
As for the confidences and expressions of love that were heard not
only in cornfields but in lamplit rooms, where the windows opened
on the garden, and men with cigars kissed women with grey hairs,
they were not to be counted. Some said that the sky was an emblem
of the life to come. Long-tailed birds clattered and screamed,
and crossed from wood to wood, with golden eyes in their plumage.

But while all this went on by land, very few people thought
about the sea. They took it for granted that the sea was calm;
and there was no need, as there is in many houses when the creeper
taps on the bedroom windows, for the couples to murmur before
they kiss, "Think of the ships to-night," or "Thank Heaven,
I'm not the man in the lighthouse!" For all they imagined, the ships
when they vanished on the sky-line dissolved, like snow in water.
The grown-up view, indeed, was not much clearer than the view
of the little creatures in bathing drawers who were trotting in to
the foam all along the coasts of England, and scooping up buckets
full of water. They saw white sails or tufts of smoke pass across
the horizon, and if you had said that these were waterspouts,
or the petals of white sea flowers, they would have agreed.

The people in ships, however, took an equally singular view of England.
Not only did it appear to them to be an island, and a very small island,
but it was a shrinking island in which people were imprisoned.
One figured them first swarming about like aimless ants, and almost
pressing each other over the edge; and then, as the ship withdrew,
one figured them making a vain clamour, which, being unheard,
either ceased, or rose into a brawl. Finally, when the ship was
out of sight of land, it became plain that the people of England
were completely mute. The disease attacked other parts of the earth;
Europe shrank, Asia shrank, Africa and America shrank, until it seemed
doubtful whether the ship would ever run against any of those wrinkled
little rocks again. But, on the other hand, an immense dignity had
descended upon her; she was an inhabitant of the great world, which has
so few inhabitants, travelling all day across an empty universe,
with veils drawn before her and behind. She was more lonely than
the caravan crossing the desert; she was infinitely more mysterious,
moving by her own power and sustained by her own resources. The sea
might give her death or some unexampled joy, and none would know of it.
She was a bride going forth to her husband, a virgin unknown of men;
in her vigor and purity she might be likened to all beautiful things,
for as a ship she had a life of her own.

Indeed if they had not been blessed in their weather, one blue
day being bowled up after another, smooth, round, and flawless.
Mrs. Ambrose would have found it very dull. As it was, she had her
embroidery frame set up on deck, with a little table by her side
on which lay open a black volume of philosophy. She chose a thread
from the vari-coloured tangle that lay in her lap, and sewed
red into the bark of a tree, or yellow into the river torrent.
She was working at a great design of a tropical river running
through a tropical forest, where spotted deer would eventually browse
upon masses of fruit, bananas, oranges, and giant pomegranates,
while a troop of naked natives whirled darts into the air.
Between the stitches she looked to one side and read a sentence
about the Reality of Matter, or the Nature of Good. Round her men
in blue jerseys knelt and scrubbed the boards, or leant over the rails
and whistled, and not far off Mr. Pepper sat cutting up roots with
a penknife. The rest were occupied in other parts of the ship:
Ridley at his Greek--he had never found quarters more to his liking;
Willoughby at his documents, for he used a voyage to work of arrears
of business; and Rachel--Helen, between her sentences of philosophy,
wondered sometimes what Rachel _did_ do with herself? She meant
vaguely to go and see. They had scarcely spoken two words to each
other since that first evening; they were polite when they met,
but there had been no confidence of any kind. Rachel seemed to get
on very well with her father--much better, Helen thought, than she
ought to--and was as ready to let Helen alone as Helen was to let
her alone.

At that moment Rachel was sitting in her room doing absolutely nothing.
When the ship was full this apartment bore some magnificent title
and was the resort of elderly sea-sick ladies who left the deck
to their youngsters. By virtue of the piano, and a mess of books
on the floor, Rachel considered it her room, and there she would sit
for hours playing very difficult music, reading a little German,
or a little English when the mood took her, and doing--as at this moment--
absolutely nothing.

The way she had been educated, joined to a fine natural indolence,
was of course partly the reason of it, for she had been educated
as the majority of well-to-do girls in the last part of the nineteenth
century were educated. Kindly doctors and gentle old professors had
taught her the rudiments of about ten different branches of knowledge,
but they would as soon have forced her to go through one piece of drudgery
thoroughly as they would have told her that her hands were dirty.
The one hour or the two hours weekly passed very pleasantly,
partly owing to the other pupils, partly to the fact that the window
looked upon the back of a shop, where figures appeared against
the red windows in winter, partly to the accidents that are bound
to happen when more than two people are in the same room together.
But there was no subject in the world which she knew accurately.
Her mind was in the state of an intelligent man's in the beginning
of the reign of Queen Elizabeth; she would believe practically
anything she was told, invent reasons for anything she said.
The shape of the earth, the history of the world, how trains worked,
or money was invested, what laws were in force, which people wanted what,
and why they wanted it, the most elementary idea of a system in
modern life--none of this had been imparted to her by any of her
professors or mistresses. But this system of education had one
great advantage. It did not teach anything, but it put no obstacle
in the way of any real talent that the pupil might chance to have.
Rachel, being musical, was allowed to learn nothing but music;
she became a fanatic about music. All the energies that might have
gone into languages, science, or literature, that might have made
her friends, or shown her the world, poured straight into music.
Finding her teachers inadequate, she had practically taught herself.
At the age of twenty-four she knew as much about music as most
people do when they are thirty; and could play as well as nature
allowed her to, which, as became daily more obvious, was a really
generous allowance. If this one definite gift was surrounded by
dreams and ideas of the most extravagant and foolish description,
no one was any the wiser.

Her education being thus ordinary, her circumstances were no more out
of the common. She was an only child and had never been bullied and
laughed at by brothers and sisters. Her mother having died when she
was eleven, two aunts, the sisters of her father, brought her up,
and they lived for the sake of the air in a comfortable house
in Richmond. She was of course brought up with excessive care,
which as a child was for her health; as a girl and a young
woman was for what it seems almost crude to call her morals.
Until quite lately she had been completely ignorant that for women
such things existed. She groped for knowledge in old books,
and found it in repulsive chunks, but she did not naturally care
for books and thus never troubled her head about the censorship
which was exercised first by her aunts, later by her father.
Friends might have told her things, but she had few of her own age,--
Richmond being an awkward place to reach,--and, as it happened,
the only girl she knew well was a religious zealot, who in the fervour
of intimacy talked about God, and the best ways of taking up
one's cross, a topic only fitfully interesting to one whose mind
reached other stages at other times.

But lying in her chair, with one hand behind her head, the other
grasping the knob on the arm, she was clearly following her
thoughts intently. Her education left her abundant time for thinking.
Her eyes were fixed so steadily upon a ball on the rail of the ship
that she would have been startled and annoyed if anything had chanced
to obscure it for a second. She had begun her meditations with
a shout of laughter, caused by the following translation from _Tristan_:

In shrinking trepidation
His shame he seems to hide
While to the king his relation
He brings the corpse-like Bride.
Seems it so senseless what I say?

She cried that it did, and threw down the book. Next she had
picked up _Cowper's_ _Letters_, the classic prescribed by her
father which had bored her, so that one sentence chancing to
say something about the smell of broom in his garden, she had
thereupon seen the little hall at Richmond laden with flowers
on the day of her mother's funeral, smelling so strong that now
any flower-scent brought back the sickly horrible sensation;
and so from one scene she passed, half-hearing, half-seeing,
to another. She saw her Aunt Lucy arranging flowers in the drawing-room.

"Aunt Lucy," she volunteered, "I don't like the smell of broom;
it reminds me of funerals."

"Nonsense, Rachel," Aunt Lucy replied; "don't say such foolish
things, dear. I always think it a particularly cheerful plant."

Lying in the hot sun her mind was fixed upon the characters of her aunts,
their views, and the way they lived. Indeed this was a subject
that lasted her hundreds of morning walks round Richmond Park,
and blotted out the trees and the people and the deer. Why did
they do the things they did, and what did they feel, and what was
it all about? Again she heard Aunt Lucy talking to Aunt Eleanor.
She had been that morning to take up the character of a servant,
"And, of course, at half-past ten in the morning one expects to find
the housemaid brushing the stairs." How odd! How unspeakably odd!
But she could not explain to herself why suddenly as her aunt spoke
the whole system in which they lived had appeared before her eyes
as something quite unfamiliar and inexplicable, and themselves as
chairs or umbrellas dropped about here and there without any reason.
She could only say with her slight stammer, "Are you f-f-fond of
Aunt Eleanor, Aunt Lucy?" to which her aunt replied, with her nervous
hen-like twitter of a laugh, "My dear child, what questions you
do ask!"

"How fond? Very fond!" Rachel pursued.

"I can't say I've ever thought 'how,'" said Miss Vinrace.
"If one cares one doesn't think 'how,' Rachel," which was aimed
at the niece who had never yet "come" to her aunts as cordially
as they wished.

"But you know I care for you, don't you, dear, because you're
your mother's daughter, if for no other reason, and there
_are_ plenty of other reasons"--and she leant over and kissed
her with some emotion, and the argument was spilt irretrievably
about the place like a bucket of milk.

By these means Rachel reached that stage in thinking, if thinking
it can be called, when the eyes are intent upon a ball or a knob
and the lips cease to move. Her efforts to come to an understanding
had only hurt her aunt's feelings, and the conclusion must be that it
is better not to try. To feel anything strongly was to create an abyss
between oneself and others who feel strongly perhaps but differently.
It was far better to play the piano and forget all the rest.
The conclusion was very welcome. Let these odd men and women--
her aunts, the Hunts, Ridley, Helen, Mr. Pepper, and the rest--
be symbols,--featureless but dignified, symbols of age, of youth,
of motherhood, of learning, and beautiful often as people upon the stage
are beautiful. It appeared that nobody ever said a thing they meant,
or ever talked of a feeling they felt, but that was what music was for.
Reality dwelling in what one saw and felt, but did not talk about,
one could accept a system in which things went round and round
quite satisfactorily to other people, without often troubling
to think about it, except as something superficially strange.
Absorbed by her music she accepted her lot very complacently,
blazing into indignation perhaps once a fortnight, and subsiding
as she subsided now. Inextricably mixed in dreamy confusion,
her mind seemed to enter into communion, to be delightfully expanded
and combined with the spirit of the whitish boards on deck,
with the spirit of the sea, with the spirit of Beethoven Op.
112, even with the spirit of poor William Cowper there at Olney.
Like a ball of thistledown it kissed the sea, rose, kissed it again,
and thus rising and kissing passed finally out of sight. The rising
and falling of the ball of thistledown was represented by the sudden
droop forward of her own head, and when it passed out of sight she
was asleep.

Ten minutes later Mrs. Ambrose opened the door and looked at her.
It did not surprise her to find that this was the way in which Rachel
passed her mornings. She glanced round the room at the piano,
at the books, at the general mess. In the first place she considered
Rachel aesthetically; lying unprotected she looked somehow like a victim
dropped from the claws of a bird of prey, but considered as a woman,
a young woman of twenty-four, the sight gave rise to reflections.
Mrs. Ambrose stood thinking for at least two minutes. She then smiled,
turned noiselessly away and went, lest the sleeper should waken,
and there should be the awkwardness of speech between them.

Chapter III

Early next morning there was a sound as of chains being drawn
roughly overhead; the steady heart of the _Euphrosyne_ slowly ceased
to beat; and Helen, poking her nose above deck, saw a stationary
castle upon a stationary hill. They had dropped anchor in the mouth
of the Tagus, and instead of cleaving new waves perpetually,
the same waves kept returning and washing against the sides of the ship.

As soon as breakfast was done, Willoughby disappeared over
the vessel's side, carrying a brown leather case, shouting over
his shoulder that every one was to mind and behave themselves,
for he would be kept in Lisbon doing business until five o'clock
that afternoon.

At about that hour he reappeared, carrying his case, professing
himself tired, bothered, hungry, thirsty, cold, and in immediate need
of his tea. Rubbing his hands, he told them the adventures of the day:
how he had come upon poor old Jackson combing his moustache before
the glass in the office, little expecting his descent, had put him
through such a morning's work as seldom came his way; then treated him
to a lunch of champagne and ortolans; paid a call upon Mrs. Jackson,
who was fatter than ever, poor woman, but asked kindly after Rachel--
and O Lord, little Jackson had confessed to a confounded piece
of weakness--well, well, no harm was done, he supposed, but what
was the use of his giving orders if they were promptly disobeyed?
He had said distinctly that he would take no passengers on this trip.
Here he began searching in his pockets and eventually discovered a card,
which he planked down on the table before Rachel. On it she read,
"Mr. and Mrs. Richard Dalloway, 23 Browne Street, Mayfair."

"Mr. Richard Dalloway," continued Vinrace, "seems to be a gentleman
who thinks that because he was once a member of Parliament,
and his wife's the daughter of a peer, they can have what they
like for the asking. They got round poor little Jackson anyhow.
Said they must have passages--produced a letter from Lord Glenaway,
asking me as a personal favour--overruled any objections Jackson made
(I don't believe they came to much), and so there's nothing for it
but to submit, I suppose."

But it was evident that for some reason or other Willoughby was
quite pleased to submit, although he made a show of growling.

The truth was that Mr. and Mrs. Dalloway had found themselves
stranded in Lisbon. They had been travelling on the Continent for
some weeks, chiefly with a view to broadening Mr. Dalloway's mind.
Unable for a season, by one of the accidents of political life,
to serve his country in Parliament, Mr. Dalloway was doing the best
he could to serve it out of Parliament. For that purpose the Latin
countries did very well, although the East, of course, would have
done better.

"Expect to hear of me next in Petersburg or Teheran," he had said,
turning to wave farewell from the steps of the Travellers'. But
a disease had broken out in the East, there was cholera in Russia,
and he was heard of, not so romantically, in Lisbon. They had been
through France; he had stopped at manufacturing centres where,
producing letters of introduction, he had been shown over works,
and noted facts in a pocket-book. In Spain he and Mrs. Dalloway had
mounted mules, for they wished to understand how the peasants live.
Are they ripe for rebellion, for example? Mrs. Dalloway had
then insisted upon a day or two at Madrid with the pictures.
Finally they arrived in Lisbon and spent six days which, in a journal
privately issued afterwards, they described as of "unique interest."
Richard had audiences with ministers, and foretold a crisis at no
distant date, "the foundations of government being incurably corrupt.
Yet how blame, etc."; while Clarissa inspected the royal stables,
and took several snapshots showing men now exiled and windows now broken.
Among other things she photographed Fielding's grave, and let loose
a small bird which some ruffian had trapped, "because one hates
to think of anything in a cage where English people lie buried,"
the diary stated. Their tour was thoroughly unconventional,
and followed no meditated plan. The foreign correspondents
of the _Times_ decided their route as much as anything else.
Mr. Dalloway wished to look at certain guns, and was of opinion
that the African coast is far more unsettled than people at home
were inclined to believe. For these reasons they wanted a slow
inquisitive kind of ship, comfortable, for they were bad sailors,
but not extravagant, which would stop for a day or two at this
port and at that, taking in coal while the Dalloways saw things
for themselves. Meanwhile they found themselves stranded in Lisbon,
unable for the moment to lay hands upon the precise vessel they wanted.
They heard of the _Euphrosyne_, but heard also that she was primarily
a cargo boat, and only took passengers by special arrangement,
her business being to carry dry goods to the Amazons, and rubber
home again. "By special arrangement," however, were words of high
encouragement to them, for they came of a class where almost
everything was specially arranged, or could be if necessary.
On this occasion all that Richard did was to write a note
to Lord Glenaway, the head of the line which bears his title;
to call on poor old Jackson; to represent to him how Mrs. Dalloway
was so-and-so, and he had been something or other else,
and what they wanted was such and such a thing. It was done.
They parted with compliments and pleasure on both sides, and here,
a week later, came the boat rowing up to the ship in the dusk with
the Dalloways on board of it; in three minutes they were standing
together on the deck of the _Euphrosyne_. Their arrival, of course,
created some stir, and it was seen by several pairs of eyes that
Mrs. Dalloway was a tall slight woman, her body wrapped in furs,
her head in veils, while Mr. Dalloway appeared to be a middle-sized
man of sturdy build, dressed like a sportsman on an autumnal moor.
Many solid leather bags of a rich brown hue soon surrounded them,
in addition to which Mr. Dalloway carried a despatch box, and his wife
a dressing-case suggestive of a diamond necklace and bottles with
silver tops.

"It's so like Whistler!" she exclaimed, with a wave towards the shore,
as she shook Rachel by the hand, and Rachel had only time to look
at the grey hills on one side of her before Willoughby introduced
Mrs. Chailey, who took the lady to her cabin.

Momentary though it seemed, nevertheless the interruption was upsetting;
every one was more or less put out by it, from Mr. Grice,
the steward, to Ridley himself. A few minutes later Rachel passed
the smoking-room, and found Helen moving arm-chairs. She was absorbed
in her arrangements, and on seeing Rachel remarked confidentially:

"If one can give men a room to themselves where they will sit,
it's all to the good. Arm-chairs are _the_ important things--"
She began wheeling them about. "Now, does it still look like a bar
at a railway station?"

She whipped a plush cover off a table. The appearance of the place
was marvellously improved.

Again, the arrival of the strangers made it obvious to Rachel,
as the hour of dinner approached, that she must change her dress;
and the ringing of the great bell found her sitting on the edge of her
berth in such a position that the little glass above the washstand
reflected her head and shoulders. In the glass she wore an expression
of tense melancholy, for she had come to the depressing conclusion,
since the arrival of the Dalloways, that her face was not the face
she wanted, and in all probability never would be.

However, punctuality had been impressed on her, and whatever face
she had, she must go in to dinner.

These few minutes had been used by Willoughby in sketching to the
Dalloways the people they were to meet, and checking them upon his fingers.

"There's my brother-in-law, Ambrose, the scholar (I daresay
you've heard his name), his wife, my old friend Pepper, a very
quiet fellow, but knows everything, I'm told. And that's all.
We're a very small party. I'm dropping them on the coast."

Mrs. Dalloway, with her head a little on one side, did her best
to recollect Ambrose--was it a surname?--but failed. She was made
slightly uneasy by what she had heard. She knew that scholars
married any one--girls they met in farms on reading parties;
or little suburban women who said disagreeably, "Of course I know
it's my husband you want; not _me_."

But Helen came in at that point, and Mrs. Dalloway saw with relief
that though slightly eccentric in appearance, she was not untidy,
held herself well, and her voice had restraint in it, which she held
to be the sign of a lady. Mr. Pepper had not troubled to change
his neat ugly suit.

"But after all," Clarissa thought to herself as she followed Vinrace
in to dinner, "_every_ _one's_ interesting really."

When seated at the table she had some need of that assurance,
chiefly because of Ridley, who came in late, looked decidedly unkempt,
and took to his soup in profound gloom.

An imperceptible signal passed between husband and wife, meaning that
they grasped the situation and would stand by each other loyally.
With scarcely a pause Mrs. Dalloway turned to Willoughby and began:

"What I find so tiresome about the sea is that there are no flowers
in it. Imagine fields of hollyhocks and violets in mid-ocean!
How divine!"

"But somewhat dangerous to navigation," boomed Richard, in the bass,
like the bassoon to the flourish of his wife's violin. "Why, weeds
can be bad enough, can't they, Vinrace? I remember crossing in the
_Mauretania_ once, and saying to the Captain--Richards--did you know
him?--'Now tell me what perils you really dread most for your ship,
Captain Richards?' expecting him to say icebergs, or derelicts,
or fog, or something of that sort. Not a bit of it. I've always
remembered his answer. '_Sedgius_ _aquatici_,' he said, which I
take to be a kind of duck-weed."

Mr. Pepper looked up sharply, and was about to put a question
when Willoughby continued:

"They've an awful time of it--those captains! Three thousand souls
on board!"

"Yes, indeed," said Clarissa. She turned to Helen with an air
of profundity. "I'm convinced people are wrong when they say it's
work that wears one; it's responsibility. That's why one pays
one's cook more than one's housemaid, I suppose."

"According to that, one ought to pay one's nurse double;
but one doesn't," said Helen.

"No; but think what a joy to have to do with babies, instead of saucepans!"
said Mrs. Dalloway, looking with more interest at Helen, a probable mother.

"I'd much rather be a cook than a nurse," said Helen. "Nothing would
induce me to take charge of children."

"Mothers always exaggerate," said Ridley. "A well-bred child
is no responsibility. I've travelled all over Europe with mine.
You just wrap 'em up warm and put 'em in the rack."

Helen laughed at that. Mrs. Dalloway exclaimed, looking at Ridley:

"How like a father! My husband's just the same. And then one talks
of the equality of the sexes!"

"Does one?" said Mr. Pepper.

"Oh, some do!" cried Clarissa. "My husband had to pass an irate
lady every afternoon last session who said nothing else, I imagine."

"She sat outside the house; it was very awkward," said Dalloway.
"At last I plucked up courage and said to her, 'My good creature,
you're only in the way where you are. You're hindering me, and you're
doing no good to yourself.'"

"And then she caught him by the coat, and would have scratched
his eyes out--" Mrs. Dalloway put in.

"Pooh--that's been exaggerated," said Richard. "No, I pity them,
I confess. The discomfort of sitting on those steps must be awful."

"Serve them right," said Willoughby curtly.

"Oh, I'm entirely with you there," said Dalloway. "Nobody can condemn
the utter folly and futility of such behaviour more than I do;
and as for the whole agitation, well! may I be in my grave before
a woman has the right to vote in England! That's all I say."

The solemnity of her husband's assertion made Clarissa grave.

"It's unthinkable," she said. "Don't tell me you're a suffragist?"
she turned to Ridley.

"I don't care a fig one way or t'other," said Ambrose.
"If any creature is so deluded as to think that a vote does
him or her any good, let him have it. He'll soon learn better."

"You're not a politician, I see," she smiled.

"Goodness, no," said Ridley.

"I'm afraid your husband won't approve of me," said Dalloway aside,
to Mrs. Ambrose. She suddenly recollected that he had been
in Parliament.

"Don't you ever find it rather dull?" she asked, not knowing exactly
what to say.

Richard spread his hands before him, as if inscriptions were to be
read in the palms of them.

"If you ask me whether I ever find it rather dull," he said, "I am
bound to say yes; on the other hand, if you ask me what career do
you consider on the whole, taking the good with the bad, the most
enjoyable and enviable, not to speak of its more serious side,
of all careers, for a man, I am bound to say, 'The Politician's.'"

"The Bar or politics, I agree," said Willoughby. "You get more run
for your money."

"All one's faculties have their play," said Richard. "I may be
treading on dangerous ground; but what I feel about poets and artists
in general is this: on your own lines, you can't be beaten--
granted; but off your own lines--puff--one has to make allowances.
Now, I shouldn't like to think that any one had to make allowances for me."

"I don't quite agree, Richard," said Mrs. Dalloway. "Think of Shelley.
I feel that there's almost everything one wants in 'Adonais.'"

"Read 'Adonais' by all means," Richard conceded. "But whenever I
hear of Shelley I repeat to myself the words of Matthew Arnold,
'What a set! What a set!'"

This roused Ridley's attention. "Matthew Arnold? A detestable prig!"
he snapped.

"A prig--granted," said Richard; "but, I think a man of the world.
That's where my point comes in. We politicians doubtless seem to you"
(he grasped somehow that Helen was the representative of the arts)
"a gross commonplace set of people; but we see both sides;
we may be clumsy, but we do our best to get a grasp of things.
Now your artists _find_ things in a mess, shrug their shoulders,
turn aside to their visions--which I grant may be very beautiful--
and _leave_ things in a mess. Now that seems to me evading
one's responsibilities. Besides, we aren't all born with the
artistic faculty."

"It's dreadful," said Mrs. Dalloway, who, while her husband spoke,
had been thinking. "When I'm with artists I feel so intensely
the delights of shutting oneself up in a little world of one's own,
with pictures and music and everything beautiful, and then I go
out into the streets and the first child I meet with its poor,
hungry, dirty little face makes me turn round and say, 'No, I
_can't_ shut myself up--I _won't_ live in a world of my own.
I should like to stop all the painting and writing and music
until this kind of thing exists no longer.' Don't you feel,"
she wound up, addressing Helen, "that life's a perpetual conflict?"
Helen considered for a moment. "No," she said. "I don't think
I do."

There was a pause, which was decidedly uncomfortable.
Mrs. Dalloway then gave a little shiver, and asked whether
she might have her fur cloak brought to her. As she adjusted
the soft brown fur about her neck a fresh topic struck her.

"I own," she said, "that I shall never forget the _Antigone_.
I saw it at Cambridge years ago, and it's haunted me ever since.
Don't you think it's quite the most modern thing you ever saw?"
she asked Ridley. "It seemed to me I'd known twenty Clytemnestras.
Old Lady Ditchling for one. I don't know a word of Greek, but I could
listen to it for ever--"

Here Mr. Pepper struck up:

{Some editions of the work contain a brief passage from Antigone,
in Greek, at this spot. ed.}

Mrs. Dalloway looked at him with compressed lips.

"I'd give ten years of my life to know Greek," she said, when he
had done.

"I could teach you the alphabet in half an hour," said Ridley,
"and you'd read Homer in a month. I should think it an honour
to instruct you."

Helen, engaged with Mr. Dalloway and the habit, now fallen into decline,
of quoting Greek in the House of Commons, noted, in the great
commonplace book that lies open beside us as we talk, the fact
that all men, even men like Ridley, really prefer women to be fashionable.

Clarissa exclaimed that she could think of nothing more delightful.
For an instant she saw herself in her drawing-room in Browne Street
with a Plato open on her knees--Plato in the original Greek. She could
not help believing that a real scholar, if specially interested,
could slip Greek into her head with scarcely any trouble.

Ridley engaged her to come to-morrow.

"If only your ship is going to treat us kindly!" she exclaimed,
drawing Willoughby into play. For the sake of guests, and these
were distinguished, Willoughby was ready with a bow of his head
to vouch for the good behaviour even of the waves.

"I'm dreadfully bad; and my husband's not very good," sighed Clarissa.

"I am never sick," Richard explained. "At least, I have only been
actually sick once," he corrected himself. "That was crossing
the Channel. But a choppy sea, I confess, or still worse, a swell,
makes me distinctly uncomfortable. The great thing is never
to miss a meal. You look at the food, and you say, 'I can't';
you take a mouthful, and Lord knows how you're going to swallow it;
but persevere, and you often settle the attack for good. My wife's
a coward."

They were pushing back their chairs. The ladies were hesitating
at the doorway.

"I'd better show the way," said Helen, advancing.

Rachel followed. She had taken no part in the talk; no one had
spoken to her; but she had listened to every word that was said.
She had looked from Mrs. Dalloway to Mr. Dalloway, and from Mr. Dalloway
back again. Clarissa, indeed, was a fascinating spectacle.
She wore a white dress and a long glittering necklace.
What with her clothes, and her arch delicate face, which showed
exquisitely pink beneath hair turning grey, she was astonishingly
like an eighteenth-century masterpiece--a Reynolds or a Romney.
She made Helen and the others look coarse and slovenly beside her.
Sitting lightly upright she seemed to be dealing with the world as
she chose; the enormous solid globe spun round this way and that beneath
her fingers. And her husband! Mr. Dalloway rolling that rich deliberate
voice was even more impressive. He seemed to come from the humming
oily centre of the machine where the polished rods are sliding,
and the pistons thumping; he grasped things so firmly but so loosely;
he made the others appear like old maids cheapening remnants.
Rachel followed in the wake of the matrons, as if in a trance;
a curious scent of violets came back from Mrs. Dalloway, mingling with
the soft rustling of her skirts, and the tinkling of her chains.
As she followed, Rachel thought with supreme self-abasement,
taking in the whole course of her life and the lives of all
her friends, "She said we lived in a world of our own. It's true.
We're perfectly absurd."

"We sit in here," said Helen, opening the door of the saloon.

"You play?" said Mrs. Dalloway to Mrs. Ambrose, taking up the score
of _Tristan_ which lay on the table.

"My niece does," said Helen, laying her hand on Rachel's shoulder.

"Oh, how I envy you!" Clarissa addressed Rachel for the first time.
"D'you remember this? Isn't it divine?" She played a bar or two
with ringed fingers upon the page.

"And then Tristan goes like this, and Isolde--oh!--it's all
too thrilling! Have you been to Bayreuth?"

"No, I haven't," said Rachel. `"Then that's still to come.
I shall never forget my first _Parsifal_--a grilling August day,
and those fat old German women, come in their stuffy high frocks,
and then the dark theatre, and the music beginning, and one couldn't
help sobbing. A kind man went and fetched me water, I remember;
and I could only cry on his shoulder! It caught me here" (she touched
her throat). "It's like nothing else in the world! But where's
your piano?" "It's in another room," Rachel explained.

"But you will play to us?" Clarissa entreated. "I can't imagine
anything nicer than to sit out in the moonlight and listen to music--
only that sounds too like a schoolgirl! You know," she said,
turning to Helen, "I don't think music's altogether good for people--
I'm afraid not."

"Too great a strain?" asked Helen.

"Too emotional, somehow," said Clarissa. "One notices it at once
when a boy or girl takes up music as a profession. Sir William
Broadley told me just the same thing. Don't you hate the kind of
attitudes people go into over Wagner--like this--" She cast her eyes
to the ceiling, clasped her hands, and assumed a look of intensity.
"It really doesn't mean that they appreciate him; in fact, I always
think it's the other way round. The people who really care about
an art are always the least affected. D'you know Henry Philips,
the painter?" she asked.

"I have seen him," said Helen.

"To look at, one might think he was a successful stockbroker,
and not one of the greatest painters of the age. That's what I like."

"There are a great many successful stockbrokers, if you like looking
at them," said Helen.

Rachel wished vehemently that her aunt would not be so perverse.

"When you see a musician with long hair, don't you know instinctively
that he's bad?" Clarissa asked, turning to Rachel. "Watts and Joachim--
they looked just like you and me."

"And how much nicer they'd have looked with curls!" said Helen.
"The question is, are you going to aim at beauty or are you not?"

"Cleanliness!" said Clarissa, "I do want a man to look clean!"

"By cleanliness you really mean well-cut clothes," said Helen.

"There's something one knows a gentleman by," said Clarissa,
"but one can't say what it is."

"Take my husband now, does he look like a gentleman?"

The question seemed to Clarissa in extraordinarily bad taste.
"One of the things that can't be said," she would have put it.
She could find no answer, but a laugh.

"Well, anyhow," she said, turning to Rachel, "I shall insist upon
your playing to me to-morrow."

There was that in her manner that made Rachel love her.

Mrs. Dalloway hid a tiny yawn, a mere dilation of the nostrils.

"D'you know," she said, "I'm extraordinarily sleepy. It's the sea air.
I think I shall escape."

A man's voice, which she took to be that of Mr. Pepper, strident
in discussion, and advancing upon the saloon, gave her the alarm.

"Good-night--good-night!" she said. "Oh, I know my way--do pray
for calm! Good-night!"

Her yawn must have been the image of a yawn. Instead of letting her
mouth droop, dropping all her clothes in a bunch as though they depended
on one string, and stretching her limbs to the utmost end of her berth,
she merely changed her dress for a dressing-gown, with innumerable
frills, and wrapping her feet in a rug, sat down with a writing-pad
on her knee. Already this cramped little cabin was the dressing
room of a lady of quality. There were bottles containing liquids;
there were trays, boxes, brushes, pins. Evidently not an inch of her
person lacked its proper instrument. The scent which had intoxicated
Rachel pervaded the air. Thus established, Mrs. Dalloway began
to write. A pen in her hands became a thing one caressed paper with,
and she might have been stroking and tickling a kitten as she wrote:

Picture us, my dear, afloat in the very oddest ship you can imagine.
It's not the ship, so much as the people. One does come across
queer sorts as one travels. I must say I find it hugely amusing.
There's the manager of the line--called Vinrace--a nice big Englishman,
doesn't say much--you know the sort. As for the rest--they might
have come trailing out of an old number of _Punch_. They're like
people playing croquet in the 'sixties. How long they've all been
shut up in this ship I don't know--years and years I should say--
but one feels as though one had boarded a little separate world,
and they'd never been on shore, or done ordinary things in
their lives. It's what I've always said about literary people--
they're far the hardest of any to get on with. The worst of it is,
these people--a man and his wife and a niece--might have been,
one feels, just like everybody else, if they hadn't got swallowed up
by Oxford or Cambridge or some such place, and been made cranks of.
The man's really delightful (if he'd cut his nails), and the woman
has quite a fine face, only she dresses, of course, in a potato sack,
and wears her hair like a Liberty shopgirl's. They talk about art,
and think us such poops for dressing in the evening. However, I can't
help that; I'd rather die than come in to dinner without changing--
wouldn't you? It matters ever so much more than the soup.
(It's odd how things like that _do_ matter so much more than what's
generally supposed to matter. I'd rather have my head cut off
than wear flannel next the skin.) Then there's a nice shy girl--
poor thing--I wish one could rake her out before it's too late.
She has quite nice eyes and hair, only, of course, she'll get
funny too. We ought to start a society for broadening the minds
of the young--much more useful than missionaries, Hester! Oh,
I'd forgotten there's a dreadful little thing called Pepper.
He's just like his name. He's indescribably insignificant,
and rather queer in his temper, poor dear. It's like sitting down
to dinner with an ill-conditioned fox-terrier, only one can't comb
him out, and sprinkle him with powder, as one would one's dog.
It's a pity, sometimes, one can't treat people like dogs!
The great comfort is that we're away from newspapers, so that Richard
will have a real holiday this time. Spain wasn't a holiday. . .

"You coward!" said Richard, almost filling the room with his
sturdy figure.

"I did my duty at dinner!" cried Clarissa.

"You've let yourself in for the Greek alphabet, anyhow."

"Oh, my dear! Who _is_ Ambrose?"

"I gather that he was a Cambridge don; lives in London now,
and edits classics."

"Did you ever see such a set of cranks? The woman asked me if I
thought her husband looked like a gentleman!"

"It was hard to keep the ball rolling at dinner, certainly,"
said Richard. "Why is it that the women, in that class,
are so much queerer than the men?"

"They're not half bad-looking, really--only--they're so odd!"

They both laughed, thinking of the same things, so that there
was no need to compare their impressions.

"I see I shall have quite a lot to say to Vinrace," said Richard.
"He knows Sutton and all that set. He can tell me a good deal about
the conditions of ship-building in the North."

"Oh, I'm glad. The men always _are_ so much better than the women."

"One always has something to say to a man certainly," said Richard.
"But I've no doubt you'll chatter away fast enough about
the babies, Clarice."

"Has she got children? She doesn't look like it somehow."

"Two. A boy and girl."

A pang of envy shot through Mrs. Dalloway's heart.

"We _must_ have a son, Dick," she said.

"Good Lord, what opportunities there are now for young men!"
said Dalloway, for his talk had set him thinking. "I don't suppose
there's been so good an opening since the days of Pitt."

"And it's yours!" said Clarissa.

"To be a leader of men," Richard soliloquised. "It's a fine career.
My God--what a career!"

The chest slowly curved beneath his waistcoat.

"D'you know, Dick, I can't help thinking of England," said his
wife meditatively, leaning her head against his chest. "Being on
this ship seems to make it so much more vivid--what it really means
to be English. One thinks of all we've done, and our navies,
and the people in India and Africa, and how we've gone on century
after century, sending out boys from little country villages--
and of men like you, Dick, and it makes one feel as if one couldn't
bear _not_ to be English! Think of the light burning over
the House, Dick! When I stood on deck just now I seemed to see it.
It's what one means by London."

"It's the continuity," said Richard sententiously. A vision of
English history, King following King, Prime Minister Prime Minister,
and Law Law had come over him while his wife spoke. He ran his
mind along the line of conservative policy, which went steadily
from Lord Salisbury to Alfred, and gradually enclosed, as though
it were a lasso that opened and caught things, enormous chunks
of the habitable globe.

"It's taken a long time, but we've pretty nearly done it," he said;
"it remains to consolidate."

"And these people don't see it!" Clarissa exclaimed.

"It takes all sorts to make a world," said her husband. "There would
never be a government if there weren't an opposition."

"Dick, you're better than I am," said Clarissa. "You see round,
where I only see _there_." She pressed a point on the back of
his hand.

"That's my business, as I tried to explain at dinner."

"What I like about you, Dick," she continued, "is that you're
always the same, and I'm a creature of moods."

"You're a pretty creature, anyhow," he said, gazing at her with
deeper eyes.

"You think so, do you? Then kiss me."

He kissed her passionately, so that her half-written letter slid
to the ground. Picking it up, he read it without asking leave.

"Where's your pen?" he said; and added in his little masculine hand:

R.D. _loquitur_: Clarice has omitted to tell you that she looked
exceedingly pretty at dinner, and made a conquest by which she
has bound herself to learn the Greek alphabet. I will take this
occasion of adding that we are both enjoying ourselves in these
outlandish parts, and only wish for the presence of our friends
(yourself and John, to wit) to make the trip perfectly enjoyable
as it promises to be instructive. . . .

Voices were heard at the end of the corridor. Mrs. Ambrose
was speaking low; William Pepper was remarking in his definite
and rather acid voice, "That is the type of lady with whom
I find myself distinctly out of sympathy. She--"

But neither Richard nor Clarissa profited by the verdict, for directly
it seemed likely that they would overhear, Richard crackled a sheet
of paper.

"I often wonder," Clarissa mused in bed, over the little white volume
of Pascal which went with her everywhere, "whether it is really
good for a woman to live with a man who is morally her superior,
as Richard is mine. It makes one so dependent. I suppose I feel
for him what my mother and women of her generation felt for Christ.
It just shows that one can't do without _something_." She then fell
into a sleep, which was as usual extremely sound and refreshing,
but visited by fantastic dreams of great Greek letters stalking
round the room, when she woke up and laughed to herself,
remembering where she was and that the Greek letters were real people,
lying asleep not many yards away. Then, thinking of the black
sea outside tossing beneath the moon, she shuddered, and thought
of her husband and the others as companions on the voyage.
The dreams were not confined to her indeed, but went from one
brain to another. They all dreamt of each other that night,
as was natural, considering how thin the partitions were between them,
and how strangely they had been lifted off the earth to sit next each
other in mid-ocean, and see every detail of each other's faces,
and hear whatever they chanced to say.

Chapter IV

Next morning Clarissa was up before anyone else. She dressed,
and was out on deck, breathing the fresh air of a calm morning,
and, making the circuit of the ship for the second time,
she ran straight into the lean person of Mr. Grice, the steward.
She apologised, and at the same time asked him to enlighten her:
what were those shiny brass stands for, half glass on the top?
She had been wondering, and could not guess. When he had done explaining,
she cried enthusiastically:

"I do think that to be a sailor must be the finest thing in the world!"

"And what d'you know about it?" said Mr. Grice, kindling in a
strange manner. "Pardon me. What does any man or woman brought
up in England know about the sea? They profess to know; but they don't."

The bitterness with which he spoke was ominous of what was to come.
He led her off to his own quarters, and, sitting on the edge
of a brass-bound table, looking uncommonly like a sea-gull,
with her white tapering body and thin alert face, Mrs. Dalloway
had to listen to the tirade of a fanatical man. Did she realise,
to begin with, what a very small part of the world the land was?
How peaceful, how beautiful, how benignant in comparison the sea?
The deep waters could sustain Europe unaided if every earthly animal
died of the plague to-morrow. Mr. Grice recalled dreadful sights
which he had seen in the richest city of the world--men and women
standing in line hour after hour to receive a mug of greasy soup.
"And I thought of the good flesh down here waiting and asking to
be caught. I'm not exactly a Protestant, and I'm not a Catholic,
but I could almost pray for the days of popery to come again--
because of the fasts."

As he talked he kept opening drawers and moving little glass jars.
Here were the treasures which the great ocean had bestowed upon him--
pale fish in greenish liquids, blobs of jelly with streaming tresses,
fish with lights in their heads, they lived so deep.

"They have swum about among bones," Clarissa sighed.

"You're thinking of Shakespeare," said Mr. Grice, and taking down
a copy from a shelf well lined with books, recited in an emphatic
nasal voice:

Full fathom five thy father lies,

"A grand fellow, Shakespeare," he said, replacing the volume.

Clarissa was so glad to hear him say so.

"Which is your favourite play? I wonder if it's the same as mine?"

"_Henry the Fifth_," said Mr. Grice.

"Joy!" cried Clarissa. "It is!"

_Hamlet_ was what you might call too introspective for Mr. Grice,
the sonnets too passionate; Henry the Fifth was to him the model
of an English gentleman. But his favourite reading was Huxley,
Herbert Spencer, and Henry George; while Emerson and Thomas Hardy
he read for relaxation. He was giving Mrs. Dalloway his views
upon the present state of England when the breakfast bell rung
so imperiously that she had to tear herself away, promising to come
back and be shown his sea-weeds.

The party, which had seemed so odd to her the night before,
was already gathered round the table, still under the influence
of sleep, and therefore uncommunicative, but her entrance sent
a little flutter like a breath of air through them all.

"I've had the most interesting talk of my life!" she exclaimed,
taking her seat beside Willoughby. "D'you realise that one of your
men is a philosopher and a poet?"

"A very interesting fellow--that's what I always say," said Willoughby,
distinguishing Mr. Grice. "Though Rachel finds him a bore."

"He's a bore when he talks about currents," said Rachel. Her eyes
were full of sleep, but Mrs. Dalloway still seemed to her wonderful.

"I've never met a bore yet!" said Clarissa.

"And I should say the world was full of them!" exclaimed Helen.
But her beauty, which was radiant in the morning light, took the
contrariness from her words.

"I agree that it's the worst one can possibly say of any one,"
said Clarissa. "How much rather one would be a murderer than a bore!"
she added, with her usual air of saying something profound.
"One can fancy liking a murderer. It's the same with dogs.
Some dogs are awful bores, poor dears."

It happened that Richard was sitting next to Rachel. She was curiously
conscious of his presence and appearance--his well-cut clothes,
his crackling shirt-front, his cuffs with blue rings round them,
and the square-tipped, very clean fingers with the red stone on
the little finger of the left hand.

"We had a dog who was a bore and knew it," he said, addressing her
in cool, easy tones. "He was a Skye terrier, one of those
long chaps, with little feet poking out from their hair like--
like caterpillars--no, like sofas I should say. Well, we had another
dog at the same time, a black brisk animal--a Schipperke, I think,
you call them. You can't imagine a greater contrast. The Skye
so slow and deliberate, looking up at you like some old gentleman
in the club, as much as to say, "You don't really mean it, do you?"
and the Schipperke as quick as a knife. I liked the Skye best,
I must confess. There was something pathetic about him."

The story seemed to have no climax.

"What happened to him?" Rachel asked.

"That's a very sad story," said Richard, lowering his voice
and peeling an apple. "He followed my wife in the car one day
and got run over by a brute of a cyclist."

"Was he killed?" asked Rachel.

But Clarissa at her end of the table had overheard.

"Don't talk of it!" she cried. "It's a thing I can't bear to think
of to this day."

Surely the tears stood in her eyes?

Book of the day: