Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/366

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first time,—and Mr. Perrott took occasion to say a few words in private to Evelyn.

"Would there be any chance of seeing you this afternoon, about three-thirty say? I shall be in the garden, by the fountain."

The block dissolved before Evelyn answered. But as she left them in the hall, she looked at him brightly and said, "Half-past three, did you say? That'll suit me."

She ran upstairs with the feeling of spiritual exaltation and quickened life which the prospect of an emotional scene always aroused in her. That Mr. Perrott was again about to propose to her, she had no doubt, and she was aware that on this occasion she ought to be prepared with a definite answer, for she was going away in three days' time. But she could not bring her mind to bear upon the question. To come to a decision was very difficult to her, because she had a natural dislike of anything final and done with; she liked to go on and on—always on and on. She was leaving, and, therefore, she occupied herself in laying her clothes out side by side upon the bed. She observed that some were very shabby. She took the photograph of her father and mother, and, before she laid it away in her box, she held it for a minute in her hand. Rachel had looked at it. Suddenly the keen feeling of some one's personality, which things that they have owned or handled sometimes preserves, overcame her; she felt Rachel in the room with her; it was as if she were on a ship at sea, and the life of the day was as unreal as the land in the distance. But by degrees the feeling of Rachel's presence passed away, and she could no longer realise her. for she had scarcely known her. But this momentary sensation left her depressed and fatigued. What had she done with her life? What future was there before her? What was make-believe, and what was real? Were these proposals and intimacies and adventures real, or was the contentment which she had seen on the faces of Susan and Rachel more real than anything she had ever felt?

She made herself ready to go downstairs, absent-mindedly, but her fingers were so well trained that they did the work of preparing her almost of their own accord. When she was actually on the way downstairs, the blood began to circle