Mrs Ramsay, Lily felt, as she talked about the skins of vegetables, exaltedthat, worshipped that; held her hands over it to warm them, to protect it,and yet, having brought it all about, somehow laughed, led her victims,Lily felt, to the altar. It came over her too now—the emotion, the vibration,of love. How inconspicuous she felt herself by Paul's side! He,glowing, burning; she, aloof, satirical; he, bound for adventure; she,moored to the shore; he, launched, incautious; she solitary, left out—and,ready to implore a share, if it were a disaster, in his disaster, she saidshyly:
"When did Minta lose her brooch?"He smiled the most exquisite smile, veiled by memory, tinged bydreams. He shook his head. "On the beach," he said.
"I'm going to find it," he said, "I'm getting up early." This being keptsecret from Minta, he lowered his voice, and turned his eyes to whereshe sat, laughing, beside Mr Ramsay.
Lily wanted to protest violently and outrageously her desire to helphim, envisaging how in the dawn on the beach she would be the one topounce on the brooch half-hidden by some stone, and thus herself be includedamong the sailors and adventurers. But what did he reply to heroffer? She actually said with an emotion that she seldom let appear, "Letme come with you," and he laughed. He meant yes or no— either perhaps.
But it was not his meaning—it was the odd chuckle he gave, as ifhe had said, Throw yourself over the cliff if you like, I don't care. Heturned on her cheek the heat of love, its horror, its cruelty, its unscrupulosity.
It scorched her, and Lily, looking at Minta, being charming to MrRamsay at the other end of the table, flinched for her exposed to thesefangs, and was thankful. For at any rate, she said to herself, catchingsight of the salt cellar on the pattern, she need not marry, thank Heaven:
she need not undergo that degradation. She was saved from that dilution.
She would move the tree rather more to the middle.