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58 TO THE LIGHTHOUSEan unmarried woman (she lightly took her hand for amoment), an unmarried woman has missed the bestof life. The house seemed full of children sleepingand Mrs Ramsay listening; of shaded lights andregular breathing.

Oh but, Lily would say, there was her father; herhome; even, had she dared to say it, her painting.But all this seemed so little, so virginal, against theother. Yet, as the night wore on, and white lightsparted the curtains, and even now and then some birdchirped in the garden, gathering a desperate courageshe would urge her own exemption from the universallaw; plead for it; she liked to be alone; she liked to beherself; she was not made for that; and so have tomeet a serious stare from eyes of unparalleled depth,and confront Mrs Ramsay’s simple certainty (andshe was childlike now) that her dear Lily, her littleBrisk, was a fool. Then, she remembered, she hadlaid her head on Mrs Ramsay’s lap and laughed andlaughed and laughed, laughed almost hysterically atthe thought of Mrs Ramsay presiding with immut-able calm over destinies which she completely failed tounderstand. There she sat, simple, serious. She hadrecovered her sense of her now—this was the glove’stwisted finger. But into what sanctuary had one pene-trated? Lily Briscoe had looked up at last, and therewas Mrs Ramsay, unwitting entirely what had causedher laughter, still presiding, but now with every traceof wilfulness abolished, and in its stead, somethingclear as the space which the clouds at last uncover—the little space of sky which sleeps beside the moon.

Was it wisdom? Was it knowledge? Was it,once more, the deceptiveness of beauty, so that all