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THE LIGHTHOUSE 177ashamed of herself. To praise his boots when heasked her to solace his soul; when he had shown herhis bleeding hands, his lacerated heart, and askedher to pity them, then to say, cheerfully: ‘Ah, butwhat beautiful boots you wear!' deserved, she knew,and she looked up expecting to get it, in one of hissudden roars of ill-temper, complete annihilation.

Instead, Mr Ramsay smiled. His pall, his draperies,his infirmities fell from him. Ah yes, he said, hold-ing his foot up for her to look at, they were first-rateboots. There was only one man in England whocould make boots like that. Boots are among thechief curses of mankind, he said. ‘Bootmakersmake it their business,’ he exclaimed, ‘to cripple andtorture the human foot.’ They are also the mostobstinate and perverse of mankind. It had takenhim the best part of his youth to get boots made asthey should be made. He would have her observe(he lifted his right foot and then his left) that shehad never seen boots made quite that shape before.They were made of the finest leather in the world,also. Most leather was mere brown paper and card-board. He looked complacently at his foot, stillheld in the air. They had reached, she felt, a sunnyisland where peace dwelt, sanity reigned and the sunfor ever shone, the blessed island of good boots. Herheart warmed to him. ‘Now let me see if you cantie a knot,’ he said. He poohpoohed her feeblesystem. He showed her his own invention. Onceyou tied it, it never came undone. Three times heknotted her shoe; three times he unknotted it.

Why, at this completely inappropriate moment,when he was stooping over her shoe, should she be