The Voyage Out HTML version

Chapter VII
From a distance the _Euphrosyne_ looked very small. Glasses were turned upon her from
the decks of great liners, and she was pronounced a tramp, a cargo-boat, or one of those
wretched little passenger steamers where people rolled about among the cattle on deck.
The insect-like figures of Dalloways, Ambroses, and Vinraces were also derided, both
from the extreme smallness of their persons and the doubt which only strong glasses
could dispel as to whether they were really live creatures or only lumps on the rigging.
Mr. Pepper with all his learning had been mistaken for a cormorant, and then, as unjustly,
transformed into a cow. At night, indeed, when the waltzes were swinging in the saloon,
and gifted passengers reciting, the little ship--shrunk to a few beads of light out among
the dark waves, and one high in air upon the mast-head--seemed something mysterious
and impressive to heated partners resting from the dance. She became a ship passing in
the night--an emblem of the loneliness of human life, an occasion for queer confidences
and sudden appeals for sympathy.
On and on she went, by day and by night, following her path, until one morning broke
and showed the land. Losing its shadow-like appearance it became first cleft and
mountainous, next coloured grey and purple, next scattered with white blocks which
gradually separated themselves, and then, as the progress of the ship acted upon the view
like a field-glass of increasing power, became streets of houses. By nine o'clock the
_Euphrosyne_ had taken up her position in the middle of a great bay; she dropped her
anchor; immediately, as if she were a recumbent giant requiring examination, small boats
came swarming about her. She rang with cries; men jumped on to her; her deck was
thumped by feet. The lonely little island was invaded from all quarters at once, and after
four weeks of silence it was bewildering to hear human speech. Mrs. Ambrose alone
heeded none of this stir. She was pale with suspense while the boat with mail bags was
making towards them. Absorbed in her letters she did not notice that she had left the
_Euphrosyne_, and felt no sadness when the ship lifted up her voice and bellowed thrice
like a cow separated from its calf.
"The children are well!" she exclaimed. Mr. Pepper, who sat opposite with a great mound
of bag and rug upon his knees, said, "Gratifying." Rachel, to whom the end of the voyage
meant a complete change of perspective, was too much bewildered by the approach of the
shore to realise what children were well or why it was gratifying. Helen went on reading.
Moving very slowly, and rearing absurdly high over each wave, the little boat was now
approaching a white crescent of sand. Behind this was a deep green valley, with distinct
hills on either side. On the slope of the right-hand hill white houses with brown roofs
were settled, like nesting sea-birds, and at intervals cypresses striped the hill with black
bars. Mountains whose sides were flushed with red, but whose crowns were bald, rose as
a pinnacle, half-concealing another pinnacle behind it. The hour being still early, the
whole view was exquisitely light and airy; the blues and greens of sky and tree were
intense but not sultry. As they drew nearer and could distinguish details, the effect of the