Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/294

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

this opportunity of revealing the secrets of her sex. She had, indeed, advanced so far in the pursuit of wisdom that she allowed these secrets to rest undisturbed; it seemed to be reserved for a later generation to discuss them philosophically. Crashing down a final chord with her left hand, she exclaimed at last, swinging round upon him:

"No, Terence, it's no good; here am I, the best musician in South America, not to speak of Europe and Asia, and I can't play a note because of you in the room interrupting me every other second."

"You don't seem to realise that that's what I've been aiming at for the last half-hour," he remarked. "I've no objection to nice, simple tunes—indeed, I find them very helpful to literary composition, but that kind of thing is merely like an unfortunate old dog going round on its hind legs in the rain."

He began turning over the little sheets of note-paper which were scattered on the table, conveying the congratulations of their friends.

"'——all possible wishes for all possible happiness,'" he read; "correct, but not very vivid, are they?"

"They're sheer nonsense!" Rachel exclaimed. "Think of words compared with sounds!" she continued. "Think of novels and plays and histories——" Perched on the edge of the table, she stirred the red and yellow volumes contemptuously. She seemed to herself to be in a position where she could despise all human learning. Terence looked at them too.

"God, Rachel, you do read trash!" he exclaimed. "And you're behind the times too, my dear. No one dreams of reading this kind of thing now—antiquated problem plays, harrowing descriptions of life in the east end—oh, no, we've exploded all that. Read poetry, Rachel, poetry, poetry, poetry!"

Picking up one of the books, he began to read aloud, his intention being to satirise the short sharp bark of the writer's English; but she paid no attention, and after an interval of meditation exclaimed:

"Does it ever seem to you, Terence, that the world is composed entirely of vast blocks of matter, and that we're nothing