EARLY next morning there was a sound as of chains being drawn roughly overhead; the steady heart of the Euphrosyne slowly ceased to beat; and Helen, poking her nose above deck, saw a stationary castle upon a stationary hill. They had dropped anchor in the mouth of the Tagus, and instead of cleaving new waves perpetually, the same waves kept returning and washing against the sides of the ship.
As soon as breakfast was done, Willoughby disappeared over the vessel's side, carrying a brown leather case, shouting over his shoulder that every one was to mind and behave themselves, for he would be kept in Lisbon doing business until five o'clock that afternoon.
At about that hour he reappeared, carrying his case, professing himself tired, bothered, hungry, thirsty, cold, and in immediate need of his tea. Rubbing his hands, he told them the adventures of the day: how he had come upon poor old Jackson combing his moustache before the glass in the office, little expecting his descent, had put him through such a morning's work as seldom came his way; then treated him to a lunch of champagne and ortolans; paid a call upon Mrs. Jackson, who was fatter than ever, poor woman, but asked kindly after Rachel—and O Lord, little Jackson had confessed to a confounded piece of weakness—well, well, no harm was done, he supposed, but what was the use of his giving orders if they were promptly disobeyed? He had said distinctly that he would take no passengers on this trip. Here he began searching in his pockets and eventually discovered a card, which he planked down on the table before Rachel. On it she read, "Mr. and Mrs. Richard Dalloway, 23 Browne Street, Mayfair."
"Mr. Richard Dalloway,*' continued Vinrace, "seems to be a gentleman who thinks that because he was once a member of Parliament, and his wife's the daughter of a peer, they can have what they like for the asking. They got round poor little Jackson anyhow. Said they must have passages—produced a letter from Lord Glenaway, asking me as a personal favour—overruled any objections Jackson made (I don't believe they came to much), and so there's nothing for it but to submit, I suppose."
But it was evident that for some reason or other Willoughby was quite pleased to submit, although he made a show of growling.
The truth was that Mr. and Mrs. Dalloway had found themselves stranded in Lisbon. They had been travelling on the Continent for some weeks, chiefly with a view to broadening Mr. Dalloway's mind. Unable for a season, by one of the accidents of political life, to serve his country in Parliament, Mr. Dalloway was doing the best he could to serve it out of Parliament. For that purpose the Latin countries did very well, although the East, of course, would have done better.
"Expect to hear of me next in Petersburg or Teheran," he had said, turning to wave farewell from the steps of the Travellers'. But a disease had broken out in the East, there was cholera in Russia, and he was heard of, not so romantically, in Lisbon. They had been through France; he had stopped at manufacturing centres where, producing letters of introduction, he had been shown over works, and noted facts in a pocket-book. In Spain he and Mrs. Dalloway had mounted mules, for they wished to understand how the peasants live. Are they, for example, ripe for rebellion? Mrs. Dalloway had then insisted upon a day or two at Madrid with the pictures. Finally they arrived in Lisbon and spent six days which, in a journal privately issued afterwards, they described as of "unique interest." Richard had audiences with ministers, and foretold a crisis at no distant date, "the foundations of government being incurably corrupt. Yet how blame, etc."; while Clarissa inspected the royal stables, and took several snapshots showing men now exiled and windows now broken. Among other things she photographed Fielding's grave, and let loose a small bird which some ruffian had trapped, "because one hates to think of anything in a cage where English people lie buried” the diary stated. Their tour was thoroughly unconventional, and followed no meditated plan. The foreign correspondents of the Times decided their route as much as anything else. Mr. Dalloway wished to look at certain guns, and was of opinion that the African coast is far more unsettled than people at home were inclined to believe. For these reasons they wanted a slow inquisitive kind of ship, comfortable, for they were bad sailors, but not extravagant, which would stop for a day or two at this port and at that, taking in coal while the Dalloways saw things for themselves. Meanwhile they found themselves stranded in Lisbon, unable for the moment to lay hands upon the precise vessel they wanted. They heard of the Euphrosyne, but heard also that she was primarily a cargo boat, and only took passengers by special arrangement, her business being to carry dry goods to the Amazons, and rubber home again. “By special arrangement,” however, were words of high encouragement in their ears, for they came of a class where almost everything was specially arranged, or could be if necessary. On this occasion all that Richard did was to write a note to Lord Glenaway, the head of the line which bears his title; to call on poor old Jackson; to represent to him how Mrs. Dalloway was so-and-so, and he had been something or other else, and what they wanted was such and such a thing. It was done. They parted with compliments and pleasure on both sides, and here, a week later, came the boat rowing up to the ship in the dusk with the Dalloways on board of it; in three minutes they were standing together on the deck of the Euphrosyne. Their arrival, of course, created some stir, and it was seen by several pairs of eyes that Mrs. Dalloway was a tall slight woman, her body wrapped in furs, her head in veils, while Mr. Dalloway appeared to be a middle-sized man of sturdy build, dressed like a sportsman on an autumnal moor. Many solid leather bags of a rich brown hue soon surrounded them, in addition to which Mr. Dalloway carried a despatch box, and his wife a dressing-case suggestive of diamond necklaces and bottles with silver tops.
“It's so like Whistler!” she exclaimed, with a wave towards the shore, as she shook Rachel by the hand, and Rachel had only time to look at the grey hills on one side of her before Willoughby introduced Mrs. Chailey, who took the lady to her cabin.
Momentary though it seemed, nevertheless the interruption was upsetting; every one was more or less put out by it, from Mr. Grice, the steward, to Ridley himself. A few minutes later Rachel passed the smoking-room, and found Helen moving arm-chairs. She was absorbed in her rearrangements, and on seeing Rachel remarked confidentially:
"If one can give men a room to themselves where they will sit, it's all to the good. Arm-chairs are the important things——" She began wheeling them about. "Now, does it still look like a bar at a railway station?"
She whipped a plush cover off a table. The appearance of the place was marvellously improved.
Again, the arrival of the strangers made it obvious to Rachel, as the hour of dinner approached, that she must change her dress; and the ringing of the great bell found her sitting on the edge of her berth in such a position that the little glass above the washstand reflected her head and shoulders. In the glass she wore an expression of tense melancholy, for she had come to the depressing conclusion, since the arrival of the Dalloways, that her face was not the face she wanted, and in all probability never would be.
However, punctuality had been impressed on her, and whatever face she had, she must go in to dinner with it.
These few minutes had been used by Willoughby in sketching to the Dalloways the people they were to meet, and checking them upon his fingers.
"There's my brother-in-law, Ambrose, the scholar (I daresay you've heard his name), his wife, my old friend Pepper, a very quiet fellow, but knows everything, I'm told. And that's all. We're a very small party. I'm dropping them on the coast."
Mrs. Dalloway, with her head a little on one side, did her best to recollect Ambrose—was it a surname?—but failed. She was made slightly uneasy by what she had heard. She knew that scholars married any one—girls they met in farms on reading parties; or little suburban women who said disagreeably, "Of course I know it's my husband you want; not me."
But Helen came in at that point, and Mrs. Dalloway saw with relief that though slightly eccentric in appearance, she was not untidy, held herself well, and her voice had restraint in it, which she held to be the sign of a lady. Mr. Pepper had not troubled to change his neat ugly suit.
"But after all," Clarissa thought to herself as she followed Vinrace in to dinner, "every one's interesting really."
When seated at the table she had some need of that assurance, chiefly because of Ridley, who came in late, looked decidedly unkempt, and took to his soup in profound gloom.
An imperceptible signal passed between husband and wife, meaning that they grasped the situation and would stand by each other loyally. With scarcely a pause Mrs. Dalloway turned to Willoughby and began:
"What I find so tiresome about the sea is that there are no flowers in it. Imagine fields of hollyhocks and violets in mid-ocean! How divine!"
"But somewhat dangerous to navigation," boomed Richard, in the bass, like the bassoon to the flourish of his wife's violin. "Why, weeds can be bad enough, can't they, Vinrace? I remember crossing in the Mauretania once, and saying to the Captain-—Richards-—did you know him?-—’Now tell me what perils you really dread most for your ship. Captain Richards?’ expecting him to say icebergs, or derelicts, or fog, or something of that sort. Not a bit of it. I've always remembered his answer.' Sedgius aquatici,' he said, which I take to be a kind of duck-weed."
Mr. Pepper looked up sharply, and was about to put a question when Willoughby continued:
"They've an awful time of it—those captains! Three thousand souls on board!""Yes, indeed," said Clarissa. She turned to Helen with an air of profundity. "I’m convinced people are wrong when they say it's work that wears one; it's responsibility. That's why one pays one's cook more than one's housemaid, I suppose."
"According to that, one ought to pay one's nurse double; but one doesn't," said Helen.
"No; but think what a joy to have to do with babies, instead of saucepans!" said Mrs. Dalloway, looking with more interest at Helen, a probable mother.
"I'd much rather be a cook than a nurse," said Helen. "Nothing would induce me to take charge of children." "Mothers always exaggerate," said Ridley. "A well-bred child is no responsibility. I've travelled all over Europe with mine. You just wrap 'em up warm and put 'em in the rack."
Helen laughed at that. Mrs. Dalloway exclaimed, looking at Ridley:
"How like a father! My husband's just the same. And then one talks of the equality of the sexes!"
"Does one?" said Mr. Pepper.
"Oh, some do!" cried Clarissa. "My husband had to pass an irate lady every afternoon last session who said nothing else, I imagine."
"She sat outside the house; it was very awkward," said Dalloway. "At last I plucked up courage and said to her, 'My good creature, you're only in the way where you are. You're hindering me, and you're doing no good to yourself.'"
"And then she caught him by the coat, and would have scratched his eyes out——" Mrs. Dalloway put in.
"Pooh—that's been exaggerated," said Richard. "No, I pity them, I confess. The discomfort of sitting on those steps must be awful."
"Serve them right," said Willoughby curtly.
"Oh, I'm entirely with you there," said Dalloway. "Nobody can condemn the utter folly and futility of such behaviour more than I do; and as for the whole agitation, well! may I be in my grave before a woman has the right to vote in England! That's all I say."
The solemnity of her husband's assertion made Clarissa grave.
"It's unthinkable," she said. "Don't tell me you're a suffragist?" she turned to Ridley.
"I don't care a fig one way or t'other," said Ambrose. "If any creature is so deluded as to think that a vote does him or her any good, let him have it. He'll soon learn better."
"You're not a politician, I see," she smiled.
"Goodness, no," said Ridley.
"I'm afraid your husband won't approve of me," said Dalloway aside, to Mrs. Ambrose. She suddenly recollected that he had been in Parliament.
"Don't you ever find it rather dull?" she asked, not knowing exactly what to say.
Richard spread his hands before him, as if inscriptions bearing on what she asked him were to be read in the palms of them.
"If you ask me whether I ever find it rather dull," he said, "I am bound to say yes; on the other hand, if you ask me what career do you consider on the whole, taking the good with the bad, the most enjoyable and enviable, not to speak of its more serious side, of all careers, for a man, I am bound to say, 'The Politician's.'"
"The Bar or politics, I agree," said Willoughby. "You get more run for your money."
"All one's faculties have their play," said Richard. "I may be treading on dangerous ground; but what I feel about poets and artists in general is this: on your own lines, you can't be beaten—granted; but off your own lines—puff—one has to make allowances. Now, I shouldn't like to think that any one had to make allowances for me."
"I don't quite agree, Richard," said Mrs. Dalloway. "Think of Shelley. I feel that there's almost everything one wants in 'Adonais.'"
"Read 'Adonais' by all means," Richard conceded. "But whenever I hear of Shelley I repeat to myself the words of Matthew Arnold, 'What a set! What a set!'"
This roused Ridley's attention. "Matthew Arnold? A detestable prig!" he snapped.
"A prig—granted," said Richard; "but, I think, a man of the world. That's where my point comes in. We politicians doubtless seem to you" (he had grasped somehow that Helen was the representative of the arts) "a gross commonplace set of people; but we see both sides; we may be clumsy, but we do our best to get a grasp of things. Now your artists find things in a mess, shrug their shoulders, turn aside to their visions—which I grant may be very beautiful—and leave things in a mess. Now that seems to me evading one's responsibilities. Besides, we aren't all born with the artistic faculty."
"It's dreadful," said Mrs. Dalloway, who, while her husband spoke, had been thinking. "When I'm with artists I feel so intensely the delights of shutting oneself up in a little world of one's own, with pictures and music and everything beautiful, and then I go out into the streets and the first child I meet with its poor, hungry, dirty little face makes me turn round and say, 'No, I can't shut myself up—I won't live in a world of my own. I should like to stop all the painting and writing and music until this kind of thing exists no longer.' Don't you feel," she wound up, addressing Helen, "that life's a perpetual conflict?"
Helen considered for a moment. "No," she said "I don't think I do."
There was a pause, which was decidedly uncomfortable. Mrs. Dalloway then gave a little shiver, and asked whether she might have her fur cloak brought to her. As she adjusted the soft brown fur about her neck a fresh topic struck her.
"I own," she said, "that I shall never forget the Antigone. I saw it at Cambridge years ago, and it's haunted me ever since. Don't you think it's quite the most modern thing you ever saw?" she asked Ridley. "It seemed to me I'd known twenty Clytemnestras. Old Lady Ditchling for one. I don't know a word of Greek, but I could listen to it for ever——"
Here Mr, Pepper struck up:
πολλά τά δεινά, κούδέν άν-
Mrs. Dalloway looked at him with compressed lips."I'd give ten years of my life to know Greek," she said, when he had done.
"I could teach you the alphabet in half an hour" said Ridley, "and you'd read Homer in a month. I should think it an honour to instruct you."
Helen, engaged with Mr. Dalloway and the habit, now fallen into decline, of quoting Greek in the House of Commons, noted, in the great commonplace book that lies open beside us as we talk, the fact that all men, even men like Ridley, really prefer women to be fashionable.
Clarissa exclaimed that she could think of nothing more delightful. For an instant she saw herself in her drawing-room in Browne Street with a Plato open on her knees—Plato in the original Greek. She could not help believing that a real scholar, if specially interested, could slip Greek into her head with scarcely any trouble.
Ridley engaged her to come to-morrow.
"If only your ship is going to treat us kindly!" she exclaimed, drawing Willoughby into play. For the sake of guests, and these were distinguished, Willoughby was ready with a bow of his head to vouch for the good behaviour even of the waves.
"I'm dreadfully bad; and my husband's not very good," sighed Clarissa.
"I am never sick," Richard explained, "At least, I have only been actually sick once," he corrected himself. "That was crossing the Channel. But a choppy sea, I confess, or still worse, a swell, makes me distinctly uncomfortable. The great thing is never to miss a meal. You look at the food,and you say,'I can't'; you take a mouthful, and Lord knows how you're going to swallow it; but persevere, and you often settle the attack for good. My wife's a coward."
They were pushing back their chairs. The ladies were hesitating at the doorway.
"I'd better show the way," said Helen, advancing.
Rachel followed. She had taken no part in the talk; no one had spoken to her; but she had listened to every word that was said. She had looked from Mrs. Dalloway to Mr. Dalloway, and from Mr. Dalloway back again. Clarissa, indeed, was a fascinating spectacle. She wore a white dress and a long glittering necklace. What with her clothes, and her arch delicate face, which showed exquisitely pink beneath hair turning grey, she was astonishingly like an eighteenth-century masterpiece—a Reynolds or a Romney. She made Helen and the others look coarse and slovenly beside her. Sitting lightly upright she seemed to be dealing with the world as she chose; the enormous solid globe spun round this way and that beneath her fingers. And her husband! Mr. Dalloway rolling that rich deliberate voice was even more impressive. He seemed to come from the humming oily centre of the machine where the polished rods are sliding, and the pistons thumping; he grasped things so firmly but so loosely; he made the others appear like old maids cheapening remnants. Rachel followed in the wake of the matrons, as if in a trance; a curious scent of violets came back from Mrs. Dalloway, mingling with the soft rustling of her skirts, and the tinkling of her chains. As she followed, Rachel thought with supreme self-abasement, taking in the whole course of her life and the lives of all her friends, "She said we lived in a world of our own. It's true. We're perfectly absurd."
"We sit in here," said Helen, opening the door of the saloon.
"You play?" said Mrs. Dalloway to Mrs. Ambrose, taking up the score of Tristan which lay on the table.
"My niece does," said Helen, laying her hand on Rachel's shoulder.
"Oh, how I envy you!" Clarissa addressed Rachel for the first time. "D'you remember this? Isn't it divine?" She played a bar or two with ringed fingers upon the page.
"And then Tristan goes like this, and Isolde! Have you been to Bayreuth?"
"No, I haven't," said Rachel.
"Then that's still to come. I shall never forget my first Parsifal—a grilling August day, and those fat old German women, come in their stuffy high frocks, and then the dark theatre, and the music beginning, and one couldn't help sobbing. A kind man went and fetched me water, I remember; and I could only cry on his shoulder! It caught me here" (she touched her throat). "It's like nothing else in the world! But where's your piano?"
"It's in another room," Rachel explained.
"But you will play to us?" Clarissa entreated. "I can't imagine anything nicer than to sit out in the moonlight and listen to music—only that sounds too like a schoolgirl! You know," she said, turning to Helen a little mysteriously, "I don't think music's altogether good for people—I'm afraid not."
"Too great a strain?" asked Helen.
"Too emotional," said Clarissa. "One notices it at once when a boy or girl takes up music as a profession. Sir William Broadley told me just the same thing. Don't you hate the kind of attitudes people go into over Wagner—like this—" She cast her eyes to the ceiling, clasped her hands, and assumed a look of intensity. "It really doesn't mean that they appreciate him; in fact, I always think it's the other way round. The people who really care about an art are always the least affected. D'you know Henry Philips, the painter?" she asked.
"I have seen him," said Helen.
"To look at, one might think he was a successful stockbroker, and not one of the greatest painters of the age. That's what I like."
"There are a great many successful stockbrokers, if you like looking at them," said Helen.
Rachel wished vehemently that her aunt would not be so perverse.
"When you see a musician with long hair, don't you know instinctively that he's bad?" Clarissa asked, turning to Rachel. "Watts and Joachim—they looked just like you and me."
"And how much nicer they'd have looked with curls!" said Helen. "The question is, are you going to aim at beauty or are you not?"
"Cleanliness!" said Clarissa, "I do want a man to look clean!"
"By cleanliness you mean well-cut clothes," said Helen.
"There's something one knows a gentleman by," said Clarissa, "but one can't say what it is."
"Take my husband now, does he look like a gentleman?"
The question seemed to Clarissa in extraordinarily bad taste. "One of the things that can't be said," she would have put it. She could find no answer, but a laugh.
"Well, anyhow," she said, turning to Rachel, "I shall insist upon your playing to me to-morrow."
There was that in her manner that made Rachel love her.
Mrs. Dalloway hid a tiny yawn, a mere dilation of the nostrils.
"D'you know," she said, "I'm extraordinarily sleepy. It's the sea air. I think I shall escape."
A man's voice, which she took to be that of Mr. Pepper, strident in discussion, and advancing upon the saloon, gave her the alarm.
"Good-night—good-night!" she said. "Oh, I know my way—do pray for calm! Good-night!"Her yawn must have been the image of a yawn. Instead of letting her mouth droop, dropping all her clothes in a bunch as though they depended on one string, and stretching her limbs to the utmost end of her berth, she merely changed her dress for a dressing-gown, with innumerable frills, and wrapping her feet in a rug, sat down with a writing-pad on her knee. Already this cramped little cabin was the dressing-room of a lady of quality. There were bottles containing liquids; there were trays, boxes, brushes, pins. Evidently not an inch of her person lacked its proper instrument. The scent which had intoxicated Rachel pervaded the air. Thus established, Mrs. Dalloway began to write. A pen in her hands became a thing one caressed paper with, and she might have been stroking and tickling a kitten as she wrote:
Picture us, my dear, afloat in the very oddest ship you can imagine. It's not the ship, so much as the people. One does come across queer sorts as one travels. I must say I find it hugely amusing. There's the manager of the line—
So she wrote on, filling sheets and smiling as she filled them, until the door opened.
"You coward!" said Richard, almost filling the room with his sturdy figure."I did my duty at dinner!" cried Clarissa.
"You've let yourself in for the Greek alphabet, anyhow."
"Oh, my dear! Who is Ambrose?"
"I gather that he was a Cambridge don; lives in London now, and edits classics."
"Did you ever see such a set of cranks? The woman asked me if I thought her husband looked like a gentleman!"
"It was hard to keep the ball rolling at dinner, certainly." said Richard. "Why is it that the women, in that class, are so much queerer than the men?"
"They're not half bad-looking, really—only—they're so odd!"
They both laughed, thinking of the same things, so that there was no need to compare their impressions.
"I see I shall have quite a lot to say to Vinrace," said Richard. "He knows Sutton and all that set. He can tell me a good deal about the conditions of shipbuilding in the North."
"Oh, I'm glad. The men always are so much better than the women."
"One always has something to say to a man certainly," said Richard. "But I've no doubt you'll chatter away fast enough about the babies, Clarice."
"Has she got children? She doesn't look like it somehow."
"Two. A boy and girl."
A pang of envy shot through Mrs. Dalloway's heart.
"We must have a son, Dick," she said.
"Good Lord, what opportunities there are now for young men!" said Dalloway, for his talk had set him thinking. "I don't suppose there's been so good an opening since the days of Pitt."
"And it's yours!" said Clarissa.
"To be a leader of men," Richard soliloquised. "It's a fine career. My God—what a career!"
The chest slowly curved beneath his waistcoat.
"D'you know, Dick, I can't help thinking of England," said his wife meditatively, leaning her head against his chest. "Being on this ship seems to make it so much more vivid—what it means to be English. One thinks of all we've done, and our navies, and the people in India and Africa, and how we've gone on century after century, sending out boys from little country villages—and of men like you, Dick, and it makes one feel as if one couldn't bear not to be English! Think of the light burning over the House, Dick! When I stood on deck just now I seemed to see it. It's what one means by London.
"It's the continuity," said Richard sententiously. A vision of English history, King following King, Prime Minister Prime Minister, and Law Law had come over him while his wife spoke. He ran his mind along the line of conservative policy, which went steadily from Lord Salisbury to Alfred, and gradually enclosed, as though it were a lasso that opened and caught things, enormous chunks of the habitable globe.
"It's taken a long time, but we've pretty nearly done it," he said; "it remains to consolidate."
"And these people don't see it!" Clarissa exclaimed.
"It takes all sorts to make a world," said her husband. "There would never be a government if there weren't an opposition."
"Dick, you're better than I am," said Clarissa. "You see round, where I only see there." She pressed a point on the back of his hand.
"That's my business, as I tried to explain at dinner."
"What I like about you, Dick," she continued, "is that you're always the same, and I'm a creature of moods."
"You're a pretty creature, anyhow," he said, gazing at her with deeper eyes.
"You think so, do you? Then kiss me."
He kissed her passionately, so that her half-written letter slid to the groimd. Picking it up, he read it without asking leave.
"Where's your pen?" he said; and added in his little masculine hand:
R. D. loquitur: Clarice has omitted to tell you that she looked exceedingly pretty at dinner, and made a conquest by which she has bound herself to learn the Greek alphabet. I will take this occasion of adding that we are both enjoying ourselves in these outlandish parts, and only wish for the presence of our friends (yourself and John, to wit) to make the trip perfectly enjoyable as it promises to be instructive. . . .
Voices were heard at the end of the corridor. Mrs. Ambrose was speaking low; William Pepper was remarking in his definite and rather acid voice, "That is the type of lady with whom I find myself distinctly out of sympathy. She——"
But neither Richard nor Clarissa profited by the verdict, for directly it seemed likely that they would overhear, Richard crackled a sheet of paper.
"I often wonder," Clarissa mused in bed, over the little white volume of Pascal which went with her everywhere, "whether it is really good for a woman to live with a man who is morally her superior, as Richard is mine. It makes one so dependent. I suppose I feel for him what my mother and women of her generation felt for Christ. It just shows that one can't do without something." She then fell into a sleep, which was as usual extremely sound and refreshing; but, visited by fantastic dreams of great Greek letters stalking round the room, she woke up and laughed to herself, remembering where she was and that the Greek letters were real people, lying asleep not many yards away. Then, thinking of the black sea outside tossing beneath the moon, she shuddered, and thought of her husband and the others as companions on the voyage. The dreams were not confined to her indeed, but went from one brain to another. They all dreamt of each other that night, as was natural, considering how thin the partitions were between them, and how strangely they had been lifted off the earth to sit next each other in mid-ocean, and see every detail of each others' faces, and hear whatever chance prompted them to say.