Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/289

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287
THE VOYAGE OUT

dead, and this gave the signal for stirring of legs and murmurs about sleep. The white mound moved, finally lengthened itself and disappeared, and after a few turns and paces St. John and Mr. Flushing withdrew, leaving three chairs still occupied by three silent bodies. The light which came from a lamp high on the mast and a sky pale with stars left them with shapes but without features; but even in this darkness the withdrawal of the others made them feel each other very near, for they were all thinking of the same thing. For some time no one spoke, then Helen said with a sigh, "So you're both very happy?"

As if washed by the air her voice sounded more spiritual and softer than usual. Voices at a little distance answered her, "Yes."

Through the darkness she was looking at them both, and trying to distinguish him. What was there for her to say? Rachel had passed beyond her guardianship. A voice might reach her ears, but never again would it carry as far as it had carried twenty-four hours ago. Nevertheless, speech seemed to be due from her before she went to bed. She wished to speak, but she felt strangely old and depressed.

"D'you realise what you're doing?" she demanded. "She's young, you're both young; and marriage—" Here she ceased. They begged her, however, to continue, with such earnestness in their voices, as if they only craved advice, that she was led to add:

"Marriage! well, it's not easy."

"That's what we want to know," they answered, and she guessed that now they were looking at each other.

"It depends on both of you," she stated. Her face was turned towards Terence, and although he could hardly see her, he believed that her words really covered a genuine desire to know more about him. He raised himself from his semi-recumbent position and proceeded to tell her what she wanted to know. He spoke as lightly as he could in order to take away her depression.

"I'm twenty-seven, and I've about seven hundred a year," he began. "My temper is good on the whole, and health excellent,