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T0 THE LIGHTHOUSEcenturies of quiescence, a rock rends itself fromthe mountain and hurtles crashing into the valley,one fold of the shawl loosened and swung toand fro. Then again peace descended; and theshadow wavered; light bent to its own imagein adoration on the bedroom wall; when Mrs.McNab, tearing the veil of silence with handsthat had stood in the wash—tub, grinding it withboots that had crunched the shingle, came asdirected to open all windows, and dust thebedrooms.

As she lurched (for she rolled like a ship at sea)and leered (for her eyes fell on nothing directly,but with a sidelong glance that deprecated thescorn and anger of the world—she was witless,she knew it), as she clutched the banisters andhauled herself upstairs and rolled from room toroom, she sang. Rubbing the glass of the longlooking—glass and leering sideways at her swingingfigure a sound issued from her lips—somethingthat had been gay twenty years before on thestage perhaps, had been hummed and danced to,but now, coming from the toothless, bonneted,care—taking woman, was robbed of meaning, waslike the voice of witlessness, humour, persistencyitself, trodden down but springing up again, so202