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TO THE LIGHTHOUSE10Then indeed peace had come. Messages of peacebreathed from the sea to the shore. Never to breakits sleep any more, to lull it rather more deeply torest and whatever the dreamers dreamt holily, dreamtwisely, to confirm — what else was it murmuring —as Lily Briscoe laid her head on the pillow in theclean still room and heard the sea. Through the openwindow the voice of the beauty of the world camemurmuring, too softly to hear exactly what it said —but what mattered if the meaning were plain? — en-treating the sleepers (the house was full again; Mrs.Beckwith was staying there, also Mr. Carmichael),if they would not actually come down to the beachitself at least to lift the blind and look out. They wouldsee then night flowing down in purple; his headcrowned; his sceptre jewelled; and how in his eyes achild might look. And if they still faltered (Lily wastired out with travelling and slept almost at once;but Mr. Carmichael read a book by candlelight), ifthey still said no, that it was vapour this splendourof his, and the dew had more power than he, andthey preferred sleeping; gently than without com-plaint, or argument, the voice would sing its song.Gently the waves would break (Lily heard them inher sleep); tenderly the light fell (it seemed to comethrough her eyelids). And it all looked, Mr. Carmi-chael thought, shutting his book, falling asleep, muchas it used to look years ago.

Indeed the voice might resume, as the curtains ofdark wrapped themselves over the house, over Mrs.Beckwith, Mr. Carmichael, and Lily Briscoe so that166