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108 TO THE LIGHTHOUSEShe had done the usual trick—been nice. Shewould never know him. He would never know her.Human relations were all like that, she thought, andthe worst (if it had not been for Mr Bankes) werebetween men and women. Inevitably these wereextremely insincere. Then her eye caught the saltcellar, which she had placed there to remind her, andshe remembered that next morning she would movethe tree further towards the middle, and her spiritsrose so high at the thought of painting to-morrowthat she laughed out loud at what Mr Tansley wassaying. Let him talk all night if he liked it.

'But how long do they leave men on a Light-house?’ she asked. He told her. He was amazinglywell informed. And as he was grateful, and as heliked her, and as he was beginning to enjoy himself,so now, Mrs Ramsay thought, she could return tothat dream land, that unreal but fascinating place,the Mannings’ drawing-room at Marlow twenty yearsago; where one moved about without haste oranxiety, for there was no future to worry about. Sheknew what had happened to them, what to her. Itwas like reading a good book again, for she knew theend of that story, since it had happened twenty yearsago, and life, which shot down even from this dining-room table in cascades, heaven knows where, wassealed up there, and lay, like a lake, placidly betweenits banks. He said they had built a billiard room—was it possible? Would William go on talking aboutthe Mannings? She wanted him to. But no—forsome reason he was no longer in the mood. Shetried. He did not respond. She could not forcehim. She was disappointed.