THE WINDOWthat they should choose this very night to be outlate, when, in fact, she wished the dinner to be par-ticularly nice, since William Bankes had at lastconsented to dine with them; and they were havingMildred’s masterpiece—Bœuf en Daube. Everythingdepended upon things being served up to the precisemoment they were ready. The beef, the bayleaf, andthe wine—all must be done to a turn. To keep itwaiting was out of the question. Yet of course to-night, of all nights, out they went, and they camein late, and things had to be sent out, things hadto be kept hot; the Boeuf en Daube would be en-tirely spoilt.

Jasper offered her an opal necklace; Rose a goldnecklace. Which looked best against her blackdress? Which did indeed, said Mrs. Ramsay absent-mindedly, looking at her neck and shoulders (butavoiding her face) in the glass. And then, whilethe children rummaged among her things, she lookedout of the window at a sight which always amusedher—the rooks trying to decide which tree to settleon. Every time, they seemed to change their mindsand rose up into the air again, because, she thought,the old rook, the father rook, old Joseph was hername for him, was a bird of a very trying and dif-ficult disposition. He was a disreputable old bird,with half his wing feathers missing. He was like121
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