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THE LIGHTHOUSE 229the pebbles. 'Oh dear! What a nuisance! Lostagain. Don’t bother, Mr Tansley. I lose thousandsevery summer,' at which he pressed his chin backagainst his collar, as if afraid to sanction such exag-geration, but could stand it in her whom he liked,and smiled very charmingly. He must have con-fided in her on one of those long expeditions whenpeople got separated and walked back alone. Hewas educating his little sister, Mrs Ramsay had toldher. It was immensely to his credit. Her own ideaof him was grotesque, Lily knew well, stirring theplantains with her brush. Half one’s notions ofother people were, after all, grotesque. They servedprivate purposes of one’s own. He did for her in-stead of a whipping-boy. She found herself flagel-lating his lean flanks when she was out of temper.If she wanted to be serious about him she had tohelp herself to Mrs Ramsay’s sayings, to look at himthrough her eyes.

She raised a little mountain for the ants to climbover. She reduced them to a frenzy of indecisionby this interference in their cosmogony. Some ranthis way, others that.

One wanted fifty pairs of eyes to see with, shereflected. Fifty pairs of eyes were not enough to getround that one woman with, she thought. Amongthem must be one that was stone blind to her beauty.One wanted most some secret sense, fine as air, withwhich to steal through keyholes and surround herwhere she sat knitting, talking, sitting silent in thewindow alone; which took to itself and treasured uplike the air which held the smoke of the steamer, herthoughts, her imaginations, her desires. What did