Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/109

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107
THE VOYAGE OUT

"They're so stupid," said Hirst. "You're sitting on my pyjamas."

"I suppose they are stupid?" Hewet wondered.

"There can't be two opinions about that, I imagine," said Hirst, hopping briskly across the room, "unless you're in love—that fat woman Warrington?" he enquired.

"Not one fat woman—all fat women," Hewet sighed.

"The women I saw tonight were not fat," said Hirst, who was taking advantage of Hewet's company to cut his toe-nails.

"Describe them," said Hewet.

"You know I can't describe things!" said Hirst. "They were much like other women, I should think. They always are.

"No; that's where we differ," said Hewet. "I say everything's different. No two people are in the least the same. Take you and me now."

"So I used to think once," said Hirst. "But now they're all types. Don't take us,—take this hotel. You could draw circles round the whole lot of them, and they'd never stray outside."

("You can kill a hen by doing that"), Hewet murmured.

"Mr. Hughling Elliot, Mrs. Hughling Elliot, Miss Allan, Mr. and Mrs. Thornbury—one cricle," Hirst continued. "Miss Warrington, Mr. Arthur Venning, Mr. Perrott, Evelyn M. another circle; then there are a whole lot of natives; finally ourselves."

"Are we all alone in our circle?" asked Hewet.

"Quite alone," said Hirst. "You try to get out, but you can't. You only make a mess of things by trying."

"I'm not a hen in a circle," said Hewet. "I'm a dove on a tree-top."

"I wonder if this is what they call an ingrowing toe-nail?" said Hirst, examining the big toe on his left foot.

"I flit from branch to branch," continued Hewet. "The world is profoundly pleasant." He lay back on the bed, upon his arms.

"I wonder if it's really nice to be as vague as you are?" asked Hirst, looking at him. "It's the lack of continuity—that's what's so odd about you," he went on. "At the age of twenty-