Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/128

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Rachel read the words aloud to make herself believe in them. For the same reason she put her hand on Helen's shoulder.

"Books—books—books," said Helen, in her absent-minded way. "More new books—I wonder what you find in them.…"

For the second time Rachel read the letter, but to herself. This time, instead of seeming vague as ghosts, each word was astonishingly prominent; they came out as the tops of mountains come through a mist. Fridayeleven-thirtyMiss Vinrace. The blood began to run in her veins; she felt her eyes brighten.

"We must go," she said, rather surprising Helen by her decision. "We must certainly go"—such was the relief of finding that things still happened, and indeed they appeared the brighter for the mist surrounding them.

"Monte Rosa—that's the mountain over there, isn't it?" said Helen; "but Hewet—who's he? One of the young men Ridley met, I suppose. Shall I say yes, then? It may be dreadfully dull."

She took the letter back and went, for the messenger was waiting for her answer.

The party which had been suggested a few nights ago in Mr. Hirst's bedroom had taken shape and was the source of great satisfaction to Mr. Hewet, who had seldom used his practical abilities, and was pleased to find them equal to the strain. His invitations had been universally accepted, which was the more encouraging as they had been issued against Hirst's advice to people who were very dull, not at all suited to each other, and sure not to come.

"Undoubtedly," he said, as he twirled and untwirled a note signed Helen Ambrose, "the gifts needed to make a great commander have been absurdly overrated. About half the intellectual effort which is needed to review a book of modern poetry has enabled me to get together seven or eight people, of opposite sexes, at the same spot at the same hour on the same day. What else is generalship, Hirst? What more did Wellington do on the field of Waterloo? It's like counting the number of pebbles of a path, tedious but not difficult."