That the fishing season was bad; that the men were emigrating. Theywere talking about wages and unemployment. The young man was abusingthe government. William Bankes, thinking what a relief it was tocatch on to something of this sort when private life was disagreeable,heard him say something about "one of the most scandalous acts of thepresent government." Lily was listening; Mrs Ramsay was listening; theywere all listening. But already bored, Lily felt that something was lacking;Mr Bankes felt that something was lacking. Pulling her shawl roundher Mrs Ramsay felt that something was lacking. All of them bendingthemselves to listen thought, "Pray heaven that the inside of my mindmay not be exposed," for each thought, "The others are feeling this. Theyare outraged and indignant with the government about the fishermen.
Whereas, I feel nothing at all." But perhaps, thought Mr Bankes, as helooked at Mr Tansley, here is the man. One was always waiting for theman. There was always a chance. At any moment the leader might arise;the man of genius, in politics as in anything else. Probably he will be extremelydisagreeable to us old fogies, thought Mr Bankes, doing his bestto make allowances, for he knew by some curious physical sensation, asof nerves erect in his spine, that he was jealous, for himself partly, partlymore probably for his work, for his point of view, for his science; andtherefore he was not entirely open-minded or altogether fair, for MrTansley seemed to be saying, You have wasted your lives. You are all ofyou wrong. Poor old fogies, you're hopelessly behind the times. Heseemed to be rather cocksure, this young man; and his manners werebad. But Mr Bankes bade himself observe, he had courage; he had ability;he was extremely well up in the facts. Probably, Mr Bankes thought,as Tansley abused the government, there is a good deal in what he says.
"Tell me now… " he said. So they argued about politics, and Lilylooked at the leaf on the table-cloth; and Mrs Ramsay, leaving the argumententirely in the hands of the two men, wondered why she was sobored by this talk, and wished, looking at her husband at the other endof the table, that he would say something. One word, she said to herself.
For if he said a thing, it would make all the difference. He went to theheart of things. He cared about fishermen and their wages. He could notsleep for thinking of them. It was altogether different when he spoke;one did not feel then, pray heaven you don't see how little I care, becauseone did care. Then, realising that it was because she admired him somuch that she was waiting for him to speak, she felt as if somebody hadbeen praising her husband to her and their marriage, and she glowed allover withiut realising that it was she herself who had praised him. Shelooked at him thinking to find this in his face; he would be looking magnificent…But not in the least! He was screwing his face up, he wasscowling and frowning, and flushing with anger. What on earth was itabout? she wondered. What could be the matter? Only that poor oldAugustus had asked for another plate of soup—that was all. It was unthinkable,it was detestable (so he signalled to her across the table) thatAugustus should be beginning his soup over again. He loathed peopleeating when he had finished. She saw his anger fly like a pack of houndsinto his eyes, his brow, and she knew that in a moment something violentwould explode, and then—thank goodness! she saw him clutch himselfand clap a brake on the wheel, and the whole of his body seemed toemit sparks but not words. He sat there scowling. He had said nothing,he would have her observe. Let her give him the credit for that! But whyafter all should poor Augustus not ask for another plate of soup? He hadmerely touched Ellen's arm and said:
"Ellen, please, another plate of soup," and then Mr Ramsay scowledlike that.
And why not? Mrs Ramsay demanded. Surely they could let Augustushave his soup if he wanted it. He hated people wallowing in food, MrRamsay frowned at her. He hated everything dragging on for hours likethis. But he had controlled himself, Mr Ramsay would have her observe,disgusting though the sight was. But why show it so plainly, Mrs Ram-say demanded (they looked at each other down the long table sendingthese questions and answers across, each knowing exactly what the otherfelt). Everybody could see, Mrs Ramsay thought. There was Rose gazingat her father, there was Roger gazing at his father; both would be off inspasms of laughter in another second, she knew, and so she saidpromptly (indeed it was time):
"Light the candles," and they jumped up instantly and went andfumbled at the sideboard.
Why could he never conceal his feelings? Mrs Ramsay wondered, andshe wondered if Augustus Carmichael had noticed. Perhaps he had; perhapshe had not. She could not help respecting the composure withwhich he sat there, drinking his soup. If he wanted soup, he asked forsoup. Whether people laughed at him or were angry with him he wasthe same. He did not like her, she knew that; but partly for that veryreason she respected him, and looking at him, drinking soup, very largeand calm in the failing light, and monumental, and contemplative, shewondered what he did feel then, and why he was always content anddignified; and she thought how devoted he was to Andrew, and wouldcall him into his room, and Andrew said, "show him things." And therehe would lie all day long on the lawn brooding presumably over his poetry,till he reminded one of a cat watching birds, and then he clappedhis paws together when he had found the word, and her husband said,"Poor old Augustus—he's a true poet," which was high praise from herhusband.