Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/364

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brain, impeding, though not damaging, its action. She sat vague-eyed for at least a minute before she realised what Arthur meant.

"Dead?" she said vaguely. "Miss Vinrace dead? Dear me…that's very sad. But I don't at the moment remember which she was. We seem to have made so many new acquaintances here." She looked at Susan for help. "A tall dark girl, who just missed being handsome, with a high colour?"

"No," Susan interposed. "She was——" then she gave it up in despair. There was no use in explaining that Mrs. Paley was thinking of the wrong person.

"She ought not to have died," Mrs. Paley continued. "She looked so strong. But people will drink the water. I can never make out why. It seems such a simple thing to tell them to put a bottle of Seltzer water in your bedroom. That's all the precaution I've ever taken, and I've been in every part of the world, I may say—Italy a dozen times over…. But young people always think they know better, and then they pay the penalty. Poor thing—I am very sorry for her." But the difficulty of peering into a dish of potatoes and helping herself engrossed her attention.

Arthur and Susan both secretly hoped that the subject was now disposed of, for there seemed to them something unpleasant in this discussion. But Evelyn was not ready to let it drop. Why would people never talk about the things that mattered?

"I don't believe you care a bit!" she said, turning savagely upon Mr. Perrott, who had sat all this time in silence.

"I? Oh, yes, I do," he answered awkwardly, but with obvious sincerity. Evelyn's questions made him too feel uncomfortable.

"It seems so inexplicable," Evelyn continued. "Death, I mean. Why should she be dead, and not you or I? It was only a fortnight ago that she was here with the rest of us. What d'you believe?" she demanded of Mr. Perrott. "D'you believe that things go on, that she's still somewhere—or d'you think it's simply a game—we crumble up to nothing when we die? I'm positive Rachel's not dead."

Mr. Perrott would have said almost anything that Evelyn wanted him to say, but to assert that he believed in the immor-