TO THE LlGHTHOUSEthat after all he knew both the Mannings and theRamsays. He had not drifted apart he thought,laying down his spoon and wiping his clean shavenlips punctiliously. But perhaps he was ratherunusual, he thought, in this; he never let himselfget into a groove. He had friends in all circles. . . . Mrs. Ramsay had to break off here to tellthe maid something about keeping food hot.That was why he preferred dining alone. Allthese interruptions annoyed him. Well, thoughtWilliam Bankes, preserving a demeanour ofexquisite courtesy and merely spreading thefingers of his left hand on the table-cloth as amechanic examines a tool beautifully polished andready for use in an interval of leisure, such are thesacrifices one’s friends ask of one. It would havehurt her if he had refused to come. But it wasnot worth it for him. Looking at his hand hethought that if he had been alone dinner wouldhave been almost over now; he would have beenfree to work. Yes, he thought, it is a terriblewaste of time. The children were dropping instill. "I wish one of you would run up to Roger’sroom," Mrs. Ramsay was saying. How triflingit all is, how boring it all is, he thought, comparedwith the other thing—work. Here he satdrumming his fingers on the table-cloth when hemight have been—he took a flashing bird’s-eye138
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