Part 3 The Lighthouse Chapter 1
What does it mean then, what can it all mean? Lily Briscoe asked herself,wondering whether, since she had been left alone, it behoved her to go tothe kitchen to fetch another cup of coffee or wait here. What does itmean?—a catchword that was, caught up from some book, fitting herthought loosely, for she could not, this first morning with the Ramsays,contract her feelings, could only make a phrase resound to cover theblankness of her mind until these vapours had shrunk. For really, whatdid she feel, come back after all these years and Mrs Ramsay dead?
Nothing, nothing—nothing that she could express at all.
She had come late last night when it was all mysterious, dark. Nowshe was awake, at her old place at the breakfast table, but alone. It wasvery early too, not yet eight. There was this expedition—they were goingto the Lighthouse, Mr Ramsay, Cam, and James. They should have gonealready—they had to catch the tide or something. And Cam was notready and James was not ready and Nancy had forgotten to order thesandwiches and Mr Ramsay had lost his temper and banged out of theroom.
"What's the use of going now?" he had stormed.
Nancy had vanished. There he was, marching up and down the terracein a rage. One seemed to hear doors slamming and voices calling all overthe house. Now Nancy burst in, and asked, looking round the room, in aqueer half dazed, half desperate way, "What does one send to the Lighthouse?"as if she were forcing herself to do what she despaired of everbeing able to do.
What does one send to the Lighthouse indeed! At any other time Lilycould have suggested reasonably tea, tobacco, newspapers. But thismorning everything seemed so extraordinarily queer that a question likeNancy's—What does one send to the Lighthouse?—opened doors inone's mind that went banging and swinging to and fro and made onekeep asking, in a stupefied gape, What does one send? What does onedo? Why is one sitting here, after all?
Sitting alone (for Nancy went out again) among the clean cups at thelong table, she felt cut off from other people, and able only to go onwatching, asking, wondering. The house, the place, the morning, allseemed strangers to her. She had no attachment here, she felt, no relationswith it, anything might happen, and whatever did happen, a stepoutside, a voice calling ("It's not in the cupboard; it's on the landing,"some one cried), was a question, as if the link that usually bound thingstogether had been cut, and they floated up here, down there, off, anyhow.