It must have happened then, thought Mrs Ramsay; they are engaged.
And for a moment she felt what she had never expected to feel again—jealousy. For he, her husband, felt it too—Minta's glow; he liked thesegirls, these golden-reddish girls, with something flying, something alittle wild and harum-scarum about them, who didn't "scrape their hairoff," weren't, as he said about poor Lily Briscoe, "skimpy". There wassome quality which she herself had not, some lustre, some richness,which attracted him, amused him, led him to make favourites of girlslike Minta. They might cut his hair from him, plait him watch-chains, orinterrupt him at his work, hailing him (she heard them), "Come along,Mr Ramsay; it's our turn to beat them now," and out he came to playtennis.
But indeed she was not jealous, only, now and then, when she madeherself look in her glass, a little resentful that she had grown old, perhaps,by her own fault. (The bill for the greenhouse and all the rest of it.)She was grateful to them for laughing at him. ("How many pipes haveyou smoked today, Mr Ramsay?" and so on), till he seemed a youngman; a man very attractive to women, not burdened, not weighed downwith the greatness of his labours and the sorrows of the world and hisfame or his failure, but again as she had first known him, gaunt but gallant;helping her out of a boat, she remembered; with delightful ways,like that (she looked at him, and he looked astonishingly young, teasingMinta). For herself—"Put it down there," she said, helping the Swiss girlto place gently before her the huge brown pot in which was the BOEUFEN DAUBE—for her own part, she liked her boobies. Paul must sit byher. She had kept a place for him. Really, she sometimes thought sheliked the boobies best. They did not bother one with their dissertations.
How much they missed, after all, these very clever men! How dried upthey did become, to be sure. There was something, she thought as he satdown, very charming about Paul. His manners were delightful to her,and his sharp cut nose and his bright blue eyes. He was so considerate.
Would he tell her—now that they were all talking again—what hadhappened?
"We went back to look for Minta's brooch," he said, sitting down byher. "We"—that was enough. She knew from the effort, the rise in hisvoice to surmount a difficult word that it was the first time he had said"we." "We did this, we did that." They'll say that all their lives, shethought, and an exquisite scent of olives and oil and juice rose from thegreat brown dish as Marthe, with a little flourish, took the cover off. Thecook had spent three days over that dish. And she must take great care,Mrs Ramsay thought, diving into the soft mass, to choose a speciallytender piece for William Bankes. And she peered into the dish, with itsshiny walls and its confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats and itsbay leaves and its wine, and thought, This will celebrate the occasion—acurious sense rising in her, at once freakish and tender, of celebrating afestival, as if two emotions were called up in her, one profound—forwhat could be more serious than the love of man for woman, what morecommanding, more impressive, bearing in its bosom the seeds of death;at the same time these lovers, these people entering into illusion glitteringeyed, must be danced round with mockery, decorated with garlands.
"It is a triumph," said Mr Bankes, laying his knife down for a moment.
He had eaten attentively. It was rich; it was tender. It was perfectlycooked. How did she manage these things in the depths of the country?