He was really, Lily Briscoe thought, in spite of his eyes, but then lookat his nose, look at his hands, the most uncharming human being shehad ever met. Then why did she mind what he said? Women can't write,women can't paint—what did that matter coming from him, since clearlyit was not true to him but for some reason helpful to him, and that waswhy he said it? Why did her whole being bow, like corn under a wind,and erect itself again from this abasement only with a great and ratherpainful effort? She must make it once more. There's the sprig on thetable-cloth; there's my painting; I must move the tree to the middle; thatmatters—nothing else. Could she not hold fast to that, she asked herself,and not lose her temper, and not argue; and if she wanted revenge take itby laughing at him?
"Oh, Mr Tansley," she said, "do take me to the Lighthouse with you. Ishould so love it."She was telling lies he could see. She was saying what she did notmean to annoy him, for some reason. She was laughing at him. He wasin his old flannel trousers. He had no others. He felt very rough and isolatedand lonely. He knew that she was trying to tease him for some reason;she didn't want to go to the Lighthouse with him; she despised him:
so did Prue Ramsay; so did they all. But he was not going to be made afool of by women, so he turned deliberately in his chair and looked outof the window and said, all in a jerk, very rudely, it would be too roughfor her tomorrow. She would be sick.
It annoyed him that she should have made him speak like that, withMrs Ramsay listening. If only he could be alone in his room working, hethought, among his books. That was where he felt at his ease. And hehad never run a penny into debt; he had never cost his father a pennysince he was fifteen; he had helped them at home out of his savings; hewas educating his sister. Still, he wished he had known how to answerMiss Briscoe properly; he wished it had not come out all in a jerk likethat. "You'd be sick." He wished he could think of something to say toMrs Ramsay, something which would show her that he was not just adry prig. That was what they all thought him. He turned to her. But MrsRamsay was talking about people he had never heard of to WilliamBankes.
"Yes, take it away," she said briefly, interrupting what she was sayingto William Bankes to speak to the maid. "It must have been fifteen— no,twenty years ago—that I last saw her," she was saying, turning back tohim again as if she could not lose a moment of their talk, for she was absorbedby what they were saying. So he had actually heard from her thisevening! And was Carrie still living at Marlow, and was everything stillthe same? Oh, she could remember it as if it were yesterday—on theriver, feeling it as if it were yesterday—going on the river, feeling verycold. But if the Mannings made a plan they stuck to it. Never should sheforget Herbert killing a wasp with a teaspoon on the bank! And it wasstill going on, Mrs Ramsay mused, gliding like a ghost among the chairsand tables of that drawing-room on the banks of the Thames where shehad been so very, very cold twenty years ago; but now she went amongthem like a ghost; and it fascinated her, as if, while she had changed, thatparticular day, now become very still and beautiful, had remained there,all these years. Had Carrie written to him herself? she asked.
"Yes. She says they're building a new billiard room," he said. No! No!
That was out of the question! Building a new billiard room! It seemed toher impossible.
Mr Bankes could not see that there was anything very odd about it.