The Voyage Out HTML version

Chapter XI
One after another they rose and stretched themselves, and in a few minutes divided more
or less into two separate parties. One of these parties was dominated by Hughling Elliot
and Mrs. Thornbury, who, having both read the same books and considered the same
questions, were now anxious to name the places beneath them and to hang upon them
stores of information about navies and armies, political parties, natives and mineral
products--all of which combined, they said, to prove that South America was the country
of the future.
Evelyn M. listened with her bright blue eyes fixed upon the oracles.
"How it makes one long to be a man!" she exclaimed.
Mr. Perrott answered, surveying the plain, that a country with a future was a very fine
"If I were you," said Evelyn, turning to him and drawing her glove vehemently through
her fingers, "I'd raise a troop and conquer some great territory and make it splendid.
You'd want women for that. I'd love to start life from the very beginning as it ought to be-
-nothing squalid--but great halls and gardens and splendid men and women. But you--you
only like Law Courts!"
"And would you really be content without pretty frocks and sweets and all the things
young ladies like?" asked Mr. Perrott, concealing a certain amount of pain beneath his
ironical manner.
"I'm not a young lady," Evelyn flashed; she bit her underlip. "Just because I like splendid
things you laugh at me. Why are there no men like Garibaldi now?" she demanded.
"Look here," said Mr. Perrott, "you don't give me a chance. You think we ought to begin
things fresh. Good. But I don't see precisely--conquer a territory? They're all conquered
already, aren't they?"
"It's not any territory in particular," Evelyn explained. "It's the idea, don't you see? We
lead such tame lives. And I feel sure you've got splendid things in you."
Hewet saw the scars and hollows in Mr. Perrott's sagacious face relax pathetically. He
could imagine the calculations which even then went on within his mind, as to whether he
would be justified in asking a woman to marry him, considering that he made no more
than five hundred a year at the Bar, owned no private means, and had an invalid sister to
support. Mr. Perrott again knew that he was not "quite," as Susan stated in her diary; not
quite a gentleman she meant, for he was the son of a grocer in Leeds, had started life with
a basket on his back, and now, though practically indistinguishable from a born
gentleman, showed his origin to keen eyes in an impeccable neatness of dress, lack of