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THE WINDOW 103he thought, in this; he never let himself get into agroove. He had friends in all circles. . . . Mrs Ramsayhad to break off here to tell the maid somethingabout keeping food hot. That was why he pre-ferred dining alone. All these interruptions annoyedhim. Well, thought William Bankes, preserving ademeanour of exquisite courtesy and merely spread-ing the fingers of his left hand on the tablecloth as amechanic examines a tool beautifully polished andready for use in an interval of leisure, such are thesacrifices one’s friends ask of one. It would havehurt her if he had refused to come. But it was notworth it for him. Looking at his hand he thoughtthat if he had been alone dinner would have beenalmost over now; he would have been free to work.Yes, he thought, it is a terrible waste of time. Thechildren were dropping in still. ‘I wish one of youwould run up to Roger’s room,’ Mrs Ramsay wassaying. How trifling it all is, how boring it all is, hethought, compared with the other thing—work.Here he sat drumming his fingers on the tableclothwhen he might have been—he took a flashing bird’s-eye view of his work. What a waste of time it allwas to be sure! Yet, he thought, she is one of myoldest friends. I am by way of being devoted to her.Yet now, at this moment her presence meant abso-lutely nothing to him: her beauty meant nothing tohim; her sitting with her little boy at the window—nothing, nothing. He wished only to be alone andto take up that book. He felt uncomfortable; hefelt treacherous, that he could sit by her side andfeel nothing for her. The truth was that he did notenjoy family life. It was in this sort of state that