The Voyage Out HTML version

Chapter XIX
But Hewet need not have increased his torments by imagining that Hirst was still talking
to Rachel. The party very soon broke up, the Flushings going in one direction, Hirst in
another, and Rachel remaining in the hall, pulling the illustrated papers about, turning
from one to another, her movements expressing the unformed restless desire in her mind.
She did not know whether to go or to stay, though Mrs. Flushing had commanded her to
appear at tea. The hall was empty, save for Miss Willett who was playing scales with her
fingers upon a sheet of sacred music, and the Carters, an opulent couple who disliked the
girl, because her shoe laces were untied, and she did not look sufficiently cheery, which
by some indirect process of thought led them to think that she would not like them.
Rachel certainly would not have liked them, if she had seen them, for the excellent reason
that Mr. Carter waxed his moustache, and Mrs. Carter wore bracelets, and they were
evidently the kind of people who would not like her; but she was too much absorbed by
her own restlessness to think or to look.
She was turning over the slippery pages of an American magazine, when the hall door
swung, a wedge of light fell upon the floor, and a small white figure upon whom the light
seemed focussed, made straight across the room to her.
"What! You here?" Evelyn exclaimed. "Just caught a glimpse of you at lunch; but you
wouldn't condescend to look at _me_."
It was part of Evelyn's character that in spite of many snubs which she received or
imagined, she never gave up the pursuit of people she wanted to know, and in the long
run generally succeeded in knowing them and even in making them like her.
She looked round her. "I hate this place. I hate these people," she said. "I wish you'd
come up to my room with me. I do want to talk to you."
As Rachel had no wish to go or to stay, Evelyn took her by the wrist and drew her out of
the hall and up the stairs. As they went upstairs two steps at a time, Evelyn, who still kept
hold of Rachel's hand, ejaculated broken sentences about not caring a hang what people
said. "Why should one, if one knows one's right? And let 'em all go to blazes! Them's my
She was in a state of great excitement, and the muscles of her arms were twitching
nervously. It was evident that she was only waiting for the door to shut to tell Rachel all
about it. Indeed, directly they were inside her room, she sat on the end of the bed and
said, "I suppose you think I'm mad?"
Rachel was not in the mood to think clearly about any one's state of mind. She was
however in the mood to say straight out whatever occurred to her without fear of the