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160 TO THE LIGHTHOUSEon winters’ nights, a drumming from sturdy treesand thorned briars which made the whole roomgreen in summer.

What power could now prevent the fertility, theinsensibility of nature? Mrs McNab’s dream of alady, of a child, of a plate of milk soup? It hadwavered over the walls like a spot of sunlight andvanished. She had locked the door; she had gone.It was beyond the strength of one woman, she said.They never sent. They never wrote. There werethings up there rotting in the drawers—it was ashame to leave them so, she said. The place wasgone to rack and ruin. Only the Lighthouse beamentered the rooms for a moment, sent its suddenstare over bed and wall in the darkness of winter,looked with equanimity at the thistle and the swal-low, the rat and the straw. Nothing now withstoodthem; nothing said no to them. Let the wind blow;let the poppy seed itself and the carnation mate withthe cabbage. Let the swallow build in the drawing-room, and the thistle thrust aside the tiles, and thebutterfly sun itself on the faded chintz of the arm-chairs. Let the broken glass and the china lie out onthe lawn and be tangled over with grass and wildberries.

For now had come that moment, that hesitationwhen dawn trembles and night pauses, when if afeather alight in the scale it will be weighed down.One feather, and the house, sinking, falling, wouldhave turned and pitched downwards to the depthsof darkness. In the ruined room, picnickers wouldhave lit their kettles; lovers sought shelter there,lying on the bare boards; and the shepherd stored