Volltext: Mrs. Dalloway

MRS. DALLOWAY 
question that bothered her (about making an appeal 
to the public ; if so, in what terms and so on), better wait 
until they have had their coffee, Lady Bruton thought; 
and so laid the carnations down beside her plate. 
“How’s Clarissa?” she asked abruptly. 
Clarissa always said that Lady Bruton did not like 
her. Indeed, Lady Bruton had the reputation of being 
more interested in politics than people; of talking like 
a man; of having had a finger in some notorious in- 
trigue of the eighties, which was now beginning to be 
mentioned in memoirs. Certainly there was an alcove 
in her drawing-room, and a table in that alcove, and a 
photograph upon that table of General Sir Talbot 
Moore, now deceased, who had written there (one 
evening in the eighties) in Lady Bruton’s presence, with 
her cognisance, perhaps advice, a telegram ordering 
the British troops to advance upon an historical occa- 
sion. (She kept the pen and told the story.) Thus, when 
she said in her offhand way “How’s Clarissa?” hus- 
bands had difficulty in persuading their wives, and in- 
deed, however devoted, were secretly doubtful them- 
selves, of her interest in women who often got in their 
husbands’ way, prevented them from accepting posts 
abroad, and had to be taken to the seaside in the middle 
of the session to recover from influenza. Nevertheless 
her inquiry, ‘“How’s Clarissa?” was known by women 
infallibly to be a signal from a well-wisher, from an 
almost silent companion, whose utterances (half a 
dozen perhaps in the course of a lifetime) signified re- 
cognition of some feminine comradeship which went 
beneath masculine lunch parties and united Lady 
Bruton and Mrs. Dalloway, who seldom met, and ap- 
peared when they did meet indifferent and even hostile, 
in a singular bond. 
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