TO THE LIGHTHOUSEmutilated body (it was alive still) was thrown backinto the sea.)8

“Mrs. Ramsay!" Lily cried, "Mrs. Ramsay!”But nothing happened. The pain increased.Thatanguish could reduce one to such a pitch ofimbecility, she thought! Anyhow the old manhad not heard her. He remained benignant,calm—if one chose to think it, sublime. Heavenbe praised, no one had heard her cry that igno-minious cry, stop pain, stop! She had notobviously taken leave of her senses. No one hadseen her step off her strip of board into the watersof annihilation. She remained a skimpy old maid,holding a paint-brush.

And now slowly the pain of the want, and thebitter anger (to be called back, just as she thoughtshe would never feel sorrow for Mrs. Ramsayagain,testing it at breakfast.Had she missed heramong the coffee cups?not in the least) lessened;and of their anguish left, as antidote, a relief thatwas balm in itself, and also, but more mysteriously,a sense of some one there, of Mrs. Ramsay, re-lieved for a moment of the weight that the worldhad put on her, staying lightly by her side andthen (for this was Mrs. Ramsay in all her beauty)raising to her forehead a wreath of white flowers278THE LIGHTHOUSEold man reading, whom he wanted to kill, but itwas the thing that descended on him—withouthis knowing it perhaps: that fierce suddenblack-winged harpy, with its talons and its beakall cold and hard, that struck and struck at you(he could feel the beak on his bare legs, where ithad struck when he was a child) and then madeoff, and there he was again, an old man, very sad,reading his book. That he would kill, that hewould strike to the heart. Whatever he did—(and he might do anything, he felt, looking at theLighthouse and the distant shore) whether hewas in a business, in a bank, a barrister, a manat the head of some enterprise, that he wouldfight, that he would track down and stamp out—tyranny, despotism, he called it—making peopledo what they did not want to do, cutting off theirright to speak. How could any of them say,But I won’t, when he said, Come to the Light-house. Do this. Fetch me that. The blackwings spread, and the hard beak tore. And thennext moment, there he sat reading his book; andhe might look up—one never knew—quitereasonably. He might talk to the Macalisters.He might be pressing a sovereign into somefrozen old woman’s hand in the street, Jamesthought, and he might be shouting out at somefisherman’s sports; he might be waving his arms283
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