TO THE LIGHTHOUSEthe bare look of the steps had become suddenly ex-tremely unpleasant. To want and not to have, sentall up her body a hardness, a hollowness, a strain.And then to want and not to have—to want andwant—how that wrung the heart, and wrung it againand again! Oh, Mrs. Ramsay! she called out silently,to that essence which sat by the boat, that abstractone made of her, that woman in grey, as if to abuseher for having gone, and then having gone, comeback again. It had seemed so safe, thinking of her.Ghost, air, nothingness, a thing you could play witheasily and safely at any time of day or night, shehad been that, and then suddenly she put her handout and wrung the heart thus. Suddenly, the emptydrawing-room steps, the frill of the chair inside, thepuppy tumbling on the terrace, the whole wave andwhisper of the garden became like curves andarabesques flourishing round a centre of completeemptiness.

"What does it mean? How do you explain it all?"she wanted to say, turning to Mr. Carmichael again.For the whole world seemed to have dissolved inthis early morning hour into a pool of thought, adeep basin of reality, and one could almost fancythat had Mr. Carmichael spoken, for instance, alittle tear would have rent the surface pool. Andthen? Something would emerge. A hand would be266
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