Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/231

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

ence, a woman with a commonplace face like hers, a little round red face, upon which trivial duties and trivial spites had drawn lines, whose weak blue eyes saw without intensity or individuality, whose features were blurred, insensitive, and callous? She was adoring something shallow and smug, clinging to it, so the obstinate mouth witnessed, with the assiduity of a limpet; nothing would tear her from her demure belief in her own virtue and the virtues of her religion. She was a limpet, with the sensitive side of her stuck to a rock, for ever dead to the rush of fresh and beautiful things past her. The face of this single worshipper became printed on Rachel's mind with an impression of keen horror, and she had it suddenly revealed to her what Helen meant and St. John meant when they proclaimed their hatred of Christianity. With the violence that now marked her feelings, she rejected all that she had before implicitly believed.

Meanwhile Mr. Bax was half-way through the second lesson. She looked at him. He was a man of the world with supple lips and an agreeable manner, he was indeed a man of much kindliness and simplicity, though by no means clever, but she was not in the mood to give any one credit for such qualities, and examined him as though he were an epitome of all the vices of his service.

Right at the back of the chapel Mrs. Flushing, Hirst, and Hewet sat in a row in a very different frame of mind. Hewet was staring at the roof with his legs stuck out in front of him, for as he had never tried to make the service fit any feeling or idea of his, he was able to enjoy the beauty of the language without hindrance. His mind was occupied first with accidental things, such as the women's hair in front of him, and the light on the faces; then with the words which seemed to him magnificent, and then more vaguely with the characters of the other worshippers. But when he suddenly perceived Rachel, all these thoughts were driven out of his head, and he thought only of her. The psalms, the prayers, the Litany, and the sermon were all reduced to one chanting sound which paused, and then renewed itself, a little higher or a little lower. He stared alternately at Rachel and at the ceiling, but his expression was now produced not by what he saw but by something