Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/139

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137
THE VOYAGE OUT

"It's not any territory in particular," Evelyn explained. "It's the idea, don't you see? We lead such tame lives. And I feel sure you've got splendid things in you."

Hewet saw the scars and hollows in Mr. Perrott's sagacious face relax pathetically. He could imagine the calculations which even then went on within his mind, as to whether he would be justified in asking a woman to marry him, considering that he made no more than five hundred a year at the Bar, owned no private means, and had an invalid sister to support. Mr. Perrott again knew that he was not "quite," as Susan stated in her diary; not quite a gentleman she meant, for he was the son of a grocer in Leeds, had started life with a basket on his back, and now, though practically indistinguishable from a born gentleman, showed his origin to keen eyes in an impeccable neatness of dress, lack of freedom in manner, extreme cleanliness of person, and a certain indescribable timidity and precision with his knife and fork which might be the relic of days when meat was rare, and the way of handling it by no means gingerly.

The two parties who were strolling about and losing their unity now came together, and joined each other in a long stare over the yellow and green patches of the heated landscape below. The hot air danced across it, making it impossible to see the roofs of a village on the plain distinctly. Even on the top of the mountain where a breeze played lightly, it was very hot, and the heat, the food, the immense space, and perhaps some less well-defined cause produced a comfortable drowsiness and a sense of happy relaxation in them. They did not say much, but felt no constraint in being silent.

"Suppose we go and see what's to be seen over there?" said Arthur to Susan, and the pair walked off together, their departure certainly sending some thrill of emotion through the rest.

"An odd lot, aren't they?" said Arthur. "I thought we should never get 'em all to the top. But I'm glad we came, by Jove! I wouldn't have missed this for something."

"I don't like Mr. Hirst," said Susan inconsequently. "I suppose he's very clever, but why should clever people be so—