Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/299

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297
THE VOYAGE OUT

parties.) …'Coming in late from this singular talk with old Bob Murphy in his smoky, book-lined room, where the two men had each unloosened his soul to the other, with the sound of the traffic humming in his ears, and the foggy London sky slung tragically across his mind…he found women's hats dotted about among his papers. Women's wraps and absurd little feminine shoes and umbrellas were in the hall…. Then the bills began to come in.… He tried to speak frankly to her. He found her lying on the great polar-bear skin in their bedroom, half-undressed, for they were dining with the Greens in Wilton Crescent, the ruddy firelight making the diamonds wink and twinkle on her bare arms and in the delicious curve of her breast—a vision of adorable femininity. He forgave her all.' (Well, this goes from bad to worse, and finally, about fifty pages later, Hugh takes a week-end ticket to Swanage and 'has it out with himself on the downs above Corfe.'… Here there's fifteen pages or so which we'll skip. The conclusion is…) 'They were different. Perhaps, in the far future, when generations of men had struggled and failed as he must now struggle and fail, woman would be, indeed, what she now made a pretence of being—the friend and companion—not the enemy and parasite of man.'

"The end of it is, you see, Hugh went back to his wife, poor fellow. It was his duty, as a married man. Lord, Rachel," he concluded, "will it be like that when we're married?"

Instead of answering him she asked,

"Why don't people write about the things they do feel?"

"Ah, that's the difficulty!" he sighed, tossing the book away.

"Well, then, what will it be like when we're married? What are the things people do feel?"

She seemed doubtful.

"Sit on the floor and let me look at you," he commanded. Resting her chin on his knee, she looked straight at him.

He examined her curiously.

"You're not beautiful," he began, "but I like your face. I like the way your hair grows down in a point, and your eyes too—they never see anything. Your mouth's too big, and your cheeks would be better if they had more colour in them. But what I like about your face is that it makes one