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66 TO THE LIGHTHOUSEnothing happened she would have to speak seriouslyto Minta. For she could not go trapesing about allover the country, even if Nancy were with them (shetried again, unsuccessfully, to visualize their backsgoing down the path, and to count them). She wasresponsible to Minta’s parents—the Owl and thePoker. Her nicknames for them shot into her mindas she read. The Owl and the Poker—yes, theywould be annoyed if they heard—and they werecertain to hear—that Minta, staying with the Ram-says, had been seen etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. ‘Hewore a wig in the House of Commons and she ablyassisted him at the head of the stairs,' she repeated,fishing them up out of her mind by a phrase which,coming back from some party, she had made toamuse her husband. Dear, dear, Mrs Ramsay saidto herself, how did they produce this incongruousdaughter? this tomboy Minta, with a hole in herstocking? How did she exist in that portentousatmosphere where the maid was always removing ina dust-pan the sand that the parrot had scattered,and conversation was almost entirely reduced to theexploits—interesting perhaps, but limited after all—of that bird? Naturally, one had asked her tolunch, tea, dinner, finally to stay with them up atFinlay, which had resulted in some friction with theOwl, her mother, and more calling, and more con-versation, and more sand, and really at the end of it,she had told enough lies about parrots to last her alifetime (so she had said to her husband that night,

coming back from the party). However, Mintacame. . . . Yes, she came, Mrs Ramsay thought,

coming back from the party). However, Minta