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‘Why don’t some of you take up botany? . . . Withall those legs and arms why doesn’t one of you . . .?'So they would talk as usual, laughing, among thechildren. All would be as usual, save only for somequiver, as of a blade in the air, which came and wentbetween them as if the usual sight of the childrensitting round their soup plates had freshened itselfin their eyes after that hour among the pears and thecabbages. Especially, Lily thought, Mrs Ramsaywould glance at Prue. She sat in the middle be-tween brothers and sisters, always so occupied, itseemed, seeing that nothing went wrong that shescarcely spoke herself. How Prue must haveblamed herself for that earwig in the milk! Howwhite she had gone when Mr Ramsay threw his platethrough the window! How she drooped under thoselong silences between them! Anyhow, her mothernow would seem to be making it up to her; assuringher that everything was well; promising her that oneof these days that same happiness would be hers.She had enjoyed it for less than a year, however.

She had let the flowers fall from her basket, Lilythought, screwing up her eyes and standing back asif to look at her picture, which she was not touching,however, with all her faculties in a trance, frozenover superficially but moving underneath withextreme speed.

She let her flowers fall from her basket, scatteredand tumbled them on to the grass and, reluctantlyand hesitatingly, but without question or complaint—had she not the faculty of obedience to perfection?

—went too. Down fields, across valleys, white,flower-strewn—that was how she would have painted