The Voyage Out
The darkness fell, but rose again, and as each day spread widely over the earth and parted
them from the strange day in the forest when they had been forced to tell each other what
they wanted, this wish of theirs was revealed to other people, and in the process became
slightly strange to themselves. Apparently it was not anything unusual that had happened;
it was that they had become engaged to marry each other. The world, which consisted for
the most part of the hotel and the villa, expressed itself glad on the whole that two people
should marry, and allowed them to see that they were not expected to take part in the
work which has to be done in order that the world shall go on, but might absent
themselves for a time. They were accordingly left alone until they felt the silence as if,
playing in a vast church, the door had been shut on them. They were driven to walk
alone, and sit alone, to visit secret places where the flowers had never been picked and
the trees were solitary. In solitude they could express those beautiful but too vast desires
which were so oddly uncomfortable to the ears of other men and women--desires for a
world, such as their own world which contained two people seemed to them to be, where
people knew each other intimately and thus judged each other by what was good, and
never quarrelled, because that was waste of time.
They would talk of such questions among books, or out in the sun, or sitting in the shade
of a tree undisturbed. They were no longer embarrassed, or half-choked with meaning
which could not express itself; they were not afraid of each other, or, like travellers down
a twisting river, dazzled with sudden beauties when the corner is turned; the unexpected
happened, but even the ordinary was lovable, and in many ways preferable to the ecstatic
and mysterious, for it was refreshingly solid, and called out effort, and effort under such
circumstances was not effort but delight.
While Rachel played the piano, Terence sat near her, engaged, as far as the occasional
writing of a word in pencil testified, in shaping the world as it appeared to him now that
he and Rachel were going to be married. It was different certainly. The book called
_Silence_ would not now be the same book that it would have been. He would then put
down his pencil and stare in front of him, and wonder in what respects the world was
different--it had, perhaps, more solidity, more coherence, more importance, greater depth.
Why, even the earth sometimes seemed to him very deep; not carved into hills and cities
and fields, but heaped in great masses. He would look out of the window for ten minutes
at a time; but no, he did not care for the earth swept of human beings. He liked human
beings--he liked them, he suspected, better than Rachel did. There she was, swaying
enthusiastically over her music, quite forgetful of him,--but he liked that quality in her.
He liked the impersonality which it produced in her. At last, having written down a series
of little sentences, with notes of interrogation attached to them, he observed aloud,
"'Women--'under the heading Women I've written:
"'Not really vainer than men. Lack of self-confidence at the base of most serious faults.
Dislike of own sex traditional, or founded on fact? Every woman not so much a rake at