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12. Chapter XII (continued)
Rachel occupied herself in collecting one grey stone after another and building them into a little cairn; she did it very quietly and carefully.
"And so you've changed your view of life, Rachel?" said Helen.
Rachel added another stone and yawned. "I don't remember," she said, "I feel like a fish at the bottom of the sea." She yawned again. None of these people possessed any power to frighten her out here in the dawn, and she felt perfectly familiar even with Mr. Hirst.
"My brain, on the contrary," said Hirst, "is in a condition of abnormal activity." He sat in his favourite position with his arms binding his legs together and his chin resting on the top of his knees. "I see through everything--absolutely everything. Life has no more mysteries for me." He spoke with conviction, but did not appear to wish for an answer. Near though they sat, and familiar though they felt, they seemed mere shadows to each other.
"And all those people down there going to sleep," Hewet began dreamily, "thinking such different things,--Miss Warrington, I suppose, is now on her knees; the Elliots are a little startled, it's not often they get out of breath, and they want to get to sleep as quickly as possible; then there's the poor lean young man who danced all night with Evelyn; he's putting his flower in water and asking himself, 'Is this love?'--and poor old Perrott, I daresay, can't get to sleep at all, and is reading his favourite Greek book to console himself-- and the others--no, Hirst," he wound up, "I don't find it simple at all."
"I have a key," said Hirst cryptically. His chin was still upon his knees and his eyes fixed in front of him.
A silence followed. Then Helen rose and bade them good-night. "But," she said, "remember that you've got to come and see us."
They waved good-night and parted, but the two young men did not go back to the hotel; they went for a walk, during which they scarcely spoke, and never mentioned the names of the two women, who were, to a considerable extent, the subject of their thoughts. They did not wish to share their impressions. They returned to the hotel in time for breakfast.
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