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THE WINDOW 93larly nice, since William Bankes had at last consentedto dine with them; and they were having Mildred’smasterpiece—Bœuf en Daube. Everything dependedupon things being served up the precise moment theywere ready. The beef, the bayleaf, and the wine—

all must be done to a turn. To keep it waiting wasout of the question. Yet of course to-night, of allnights, out they went, and they came in late, andthings had to be sent out, things had to be kept hot;the Boeuf en Daube would be entirely spoilt.

Jasper offered her an opal necklace; Rose a goldnecklace. Which looked best against her blackdress? Which did indeed? said Mrs Ramsay absent-mindedly, looking at her neck and shoulders (butavoiding her face), in the glass. And then, while thechildren rummaged among her things, she looked outof the window at a sight which always amused her—the rooks trying to decide which tree to settle on.Every time they seemed to change their minds androse up into the air again, because, she thought, theold rook, the father rook, old Joseph was her namefor him, was a bird of a very trying and difficult dis-position. He was a disreputable old bird, with halfhis wing feathers missing. He was like some seedyold gentleman in a top hat she had seen playing thehorn in front of a public house.

'Look!' she said, laughing. They were actuallyfighting. Joseph and Mary were fighting. Anyhowthey all went up again, and the air was shoved aside

by their black wings and cut into exquisite scimitarshapes. The movement of the wings beating out,out, out—she could never describe it accuratelyenough to please herself—was one of the loveliest'Look!' she said, laughing. They were actually