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4 TO THE LIGHTHOUSEcode, his secret language, though he appeared theimage of stark and uncompromising severity, withhis high forehead and his fierce blue eyes, impeccablycandid and pure, frowning slightly at the sight ofhuman frailty, so that his mother, watching himguide his scissors neatly round the refrigerator,imagined him all red and ermine on the Bench ordirecting a stern and momentous enterprise in somecrisis of public affairs.

‘But,’ said his father, stopping in front of thedrawing-room window, ‘it won’t be fine.’Had there been an axe handy, a poker, or anyweapon that would have gashed a hole in his father’sbreast and killed him, there and then, James wouldhave seized it. Such were the extremes of emotionthat Mr Ramsay excited in his children’s breasts byhis mere presence; standing, as now, lean as a knife,narrow as the blade of one, grinning sarcastically,not only with the pleasure of disillusioning his sonand casting ridicule upon his wife, who was tenthousand times better in every way than he was(James thought), but also with some secret conceitat his own accuracy of judgment. What he saidwas true. It was always true. He was incapableof untruth; never tampered with a fact; neveraltered a disagreeable word to suit the pleasure orconvenience of any mortal being, least of all of hisown children, who, sprung from his loins, should beaware from childhood that life is difficult; facts un-compromising; and the passage to that fabled landwhere our brightest hopes are extinguished, our frailbarks founder in darkness (here Mr Ramsay wouldstraighten his back and narrow his little blue eyes