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Lily Briscoe watched her drifting into that strangeno-man’s land where to follow people is impossible,and yet their going inflicts such a chill on those whowatch them that they always try at least to followthem with their eyes as one follows a fading shipuntil the sails have sunk beneath the horizon.

How old she looks, how worn she looks, Lilythought, and how remote. Then when she turnedto William Bankes, smiling, it was as if the ship hadturned and the sun had struck its sails again, andLily thought with some amusement because she wasrelieved, Why does she pity him? For that was theimpression she gave, when she told him that hisletters were in the hall. Poor William Bankes, sheseemed to be saying, as if her own weariness hadbeen partly pitying people, and the life in her, herresolve to live again, had been stirred by pity. Andit was not true, Lily thought; it was one of thosemisjudgments of hers that seemed to be instinctiveand to arise from some need of her own rather thanof other people’s. He is not in the least pitiable.He has his work, Lily said to herself. She remem-bered, all of a sudden as if she had found a treasure,that she too had her work. In a flash she saw herpicture, and thought, Yes, I shall put the tree furtherin the middle; then I shall avoid that awkwardspace. That’s what I shall do. That’s what hasbeen puzzling me. She took up the salt cellar andput it down again on a flower in the pattern in thetable-cloth, so as to remind herself to move the tree.

‘It’s odd that one scarcely gets anything worthhaving by post, yet one always wants one’s letters,'said Mr Bankes.