Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/145

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143
THE VOYAGE OUT

to be directed equally against them both, but she could think of no repartee.

"Nothing moves Hirst," Hewet laughed; he did not seem to be stung at all. "Unless it were a transfinite number falling in love with a finite one—I suppose such things do happen, even in mathematics."

"On the contrary," said Hirst with a touch of annoyance, "I consider myself a person of very strong passions." It was clear from the way he spoke that he meant it seriously; he spoke of course for the benefit of the ladies.

"By the way, Hirst," said Hewet, after a pause, "I have a terrible confession to make. Your book—the poems of Wordsworth, which if you remember I took off your table just as we were starting, and certainly put in my pocket here——"

"Is lost," Hirst finished for him.

"I consider that there is still a chance," Hewet urged, slapping himself to right and left, "that I never did take it after all."

"No," said Hirst. "It is here." He pointed to his breast.

"Thank God," Hewet exclaimed. "I need no longer feel as though I'd murdered a child!"

"I should think you were always losing things," Helen remarked, looking at him meditatively.

"I don't lose things," said Hewet. "I mislay them. That was the reason why Hirst refused to share a cabin with me on the voyage out."

"You came out together?" Helen enquired.

"I propose that each member of this party now gives a short biographical sketch of himself or herself," said Hirst, sitting upright. "Miss Vinrace, you come first; begin."

Rachel stated that she was twenty-four years of age, the daughter of a ship-owner, that she had never been properly educated; played the piano, had no brothers or sisters, and lived at Richmond with aunts, her mother being dead.

"Next," said Hirst, having taken in these facts; he pointed at Hewet.

"I am the son of an English gentleman. I am twenty-seven," Hewet began. "My father was a fox-hunting squire.