The Voyage Out

The Voyage Out

1.9 8
by Virginia Woolf
     
 

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Chapter I


As the streets that lead from the Strand to the Embankment are very
narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm. If you persist,
lawyers' clerks will have to make flying leaps into the mud; young lady
typists will have to fidget behind you. In the streets of London where
beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay

Overview

Chapter I


As the streets that lead from the Strand to the Embankment are very
narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm. If you persist,
lawyers' clerks will have to make flying leaps into the mud; young lady
typists will have to fidget behind you. In the streets of London where
beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay the penalty, and it is
better not to be very tall, to wear a long blue cloak, or to beat the
air with your left hand.

One afternoon in the beginning of October when the traffic was becoming
brisk a tall man strode along the edge of the pavement with a lady on
his arm. Angry glances struck upon their backs. The small, agitated
figures--for in comparison with this couple most people looked
small--decorated with fountain pens, and burdened with despatch-boxes,
had appointments to keep, and drew a weekly salary, so that there
was some reason for the unfriendly stare which was bestowed upon Mr.
Ambrose's height and upon Mrs. Ambrose's cloak. But some enchantment had
put both man and woman beyond the reach of malice and unpopularity. In
his guess one might guess from the moving lips that it was thought; and
in hers from the eyes fixed stonily straight in front of her at a level
above the eyes of most that it was sorrow. It was only by scorning all
she met that she kept herself from tears, and the friction of people
brushing past her was evidently painful. After watching the traffic on
the Embankment for a minute or two with a stoical gaze she twitched her
husband's sleeve, and they crossed between the swift discharge of motor
cars. When they were safe on the further side, she gently withdrew her
arm from his, allowing her mouth at the same time to relax, to tremble;
then tears rolled down, and leaning her elbows on the balustrade, she
shielded her face from the curious. Mr. Ambrose attempted consolation;
he patted her shoulder; but she showed no signs of admitting him, and
feeling it awkward to stand beside a grief that was greater than his, he
crossed his arms behind him, and took a turn along the pavement.

The embankment juts out in angles here and there, like pulpits; instead
of preachers, however, small boys occupy them, dangling string, dropping
pebbles, or launching wads of paper for a cruise. With their sharp eye
for eccentricity, they were inclined to think Mr. Ambrose awful; but
the quickest witted cried "Bluebeard!" as he passed. In case they should
proceed to tease his wife, Mr. Ambrose flourished his stick at them,
upon which they decided that he was grotesque merely, and four instead
of one cried "Bluebeard!" in chorus.

Although Mrs. Ambrose stood quite still, much longer than is natural,
the little boys let her be. Some one is always looking into the river
near Waterloo Bridge; a couple will stand there talking for half an hour
on a fine afternoon; most people, walking for pleasure, contemplate for
three minutes; when, having compared the occasion with other occasions,
or made some sentence, they pass on. Sometimes the flats and churches
and hotels of Westminster are like the outlines of Constantinople in a
mist; sometimes the river is an opulent purple, sometimes mud-coloured,
sometimes sparkling blue like the sea. It is always worth while to look
down and see what is happening. But this lady looked neither up nor
down; the only thing she had seen, since she stood there, was a circular
iridescent patch slowly floating past with a straw in the middle of it.
The straw and the patch swam again and again behind the tremulous medium
of a great welling tear, and the tear rose and fell and dropped into the
river. Then there struck close upon her ears--

Lars Porsena of Clusium
By the nine Gods he swore--

and then more faintly, as if the speaker had passed her on his walk--

That the Great House of Tarquin
Should suffer wrong no more.

Yes, she knew she must go back to all that, but at present she must
weep. Screening her face she sobbed more steadily than she had yet done,
her shoulders rising and falling with great regularity. It was this
figure that her husband saw when, having reached the polished Sphinx,
having entangled himself with a man selling picture postcards, he
turned; the stanza instantly stopped. He came up to her, laid his hand
on her shoulder, and said, "Dearest." His voice was supplicating. But
she shut her face away from him, as much as to say, "You can't possibly
understand."

As he did not leave her, however, she had to wipe her eyes, and to raise
them to the level of the factory chimneys on the other bank.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940012312587
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
03/23/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
359 KB

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The Voyage Out 1.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't bother!
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sonya58 More than 1 year ago
This book was scanned, and it shows: typos on every page, making it very hard to read. I think I'll pay for a proof-read book next time, even if it's out of copyright...
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
?......