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THE WINDOW 55entirely unnecessary for her to speak by his rapture.For such it was considering his age, turned sixty, andhis cleanliness and his impersonality, and the whitescientific coat which seemed to clothe him. Forhim to gaze as Lily saw him gazing at Mrs Ramsay

was a rapture, equivalent, Lily felt, to the loves of

dozens of young men (and perhaps Mrs Ramsay had

never excited the loves of dozens of young men). Itwas love, she thought, pretending to move her can-vas, distilled and filtered; love that never attemptedto clutch its object; but, like the love which mathe-maticians bear their symbols, or poets their phrases,was meant to be spread over the world and becomepart of the human gain. So it was indeed. Theworld by all means should have shared it, could MrBankes have said why that woman pleased him so;why the sight of her reading a fairy tale to her boyhad upon him precisely the same effect as the solutionof a scientific problem, so that he rested in contempla-tion of it, and felt, as he felt when he had proved some-thing absolute about the digestive system of plants,that barbarity was tamed, the reign of chaos subdued.

Such a rapture—for by what other name couldone call it?—made Lily Briscoe forget entirely whatshe had been about to say. It was nothing of im-portance; something about Mrs Ramsay. It paledbeside this ‘rapture,’ this silent stare, for which shefelt intense gratitude; for nothing so solaced her,eased her of the perplexity of life, and miraculouslyraised its burdens, as this sublime power, this hea-venly gift, and one would no more disturb it, while itlasted, than break up the shaft of sunlight lying levelacross the floor.