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THE LIGHTHOUSEwent plumb down into the sea. But Mr. Ramsay wenton reading with his legs curled under him.

He was reading a little shiny book with covers mot-tled like a plover’s egg. Now and again, as they hungabout in that horrid calm, he turned a page. AndJames felt that each page was turned with a peculiargesture aimed at him: now assertively, now command-ingly; now with the intention of making people pityhim; and all the time, as his father read and turnedone after another of those little pages, James keptdreading the moment when he would look up andspeak sharply to him about something or other. Whywere they lagging about here? he would demand, orsomething quite unreasonable like that. And if hedoes, James thought, then I shall take a knife andstrike him to the heart.

He had always kept this old symbol of taking aknife and striking his father to the heart. Only now,as he grew older, and sat staring at his father in animpotent rage, it was not him, that old man reading,whom he wanted to kill, but it was the thing thatdescended on him — without his knowing it perhaps:that fierce sudden black-winged harpy, with its talonsand its beak all cold and hard, that struck and struckat you (he could feel the beak on his bare legs, whereit had struck when he was a child) and then madeoff, and there he was again, an old man, very sad,reading his book. That he would kill, that he wouldstrike to the heart. Whatever he did — (and he mightdo anything, he felt, looking at the Lighthouse andthe distant shore) whether he was in a business, in abank, a barrister, a man at the head of some enter-prise, that he would fight, that he would track down213