Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/318

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woke Terence, who sat up and rubbed his eyes. He heard Miss Allan talking to Rachel.

"Well," she was saying, "this is very nice. It is very nice indeed. Getting engaged seems to be quite the fashion. It cannot often happen that two couples who have never seen each other before meet in the same hotel and decide to get married." Then she paused and smiled, and seemed to have nothing more to say, so that Terence rose and asked her whether it was true that she had finished her book. Some one had said that she had really finished it. Her face lit up; she turned to him with a livelier expression than usual

"Yes, I think I can fairly say I have finished it," she said. "That is, omitting Swinburne—Beowulf to Browning—I rather like the two B's myself. Beowulf to Browning," she repeated, "I think that is the kind of title which might catch one's eye on a railway bookstall."

She was indeed very proud that she had finished her book, for no one knew what an amount of determination had gone to the making of it. Also she thought that it was a good piece of work, and, considering what anxiety she had been in about her brother while she wrote it, she could not resist telling them a little more about it.

"I must confess," she continued, "that if I had known how many classics there are in English literature, and how verbose the best of them contrive to be, I should never have undertaken the work. They only allow one seventy thousand words, you see."

"Only seventy thousand words!" Terence exclaimed.

"Yes, and one has to say something about everybody," Miss Allan added. "That is what I find so difficult, saying something different about everybody." Then she thought that she had said enough about herself, and she asked whether they had come down to join the tennis tournament. "The young people are very keen about it. It begins again in half an hour."

Her gaze rested benevolently upon them both, and, after a momentary pause, she remarked, looking at Rachel as if she had remembered something that would serve to keep her distinct from other people:

"You're the remarkable person who doesn't like ginger."