don't be caught looking

She got up as if she were going somewhere. But she stopped. Then she
strolled over to the window that looked out onto the street. The houses
opposite all had the same little front gardens; the same steps; the same
pillars; the same bow windows. But now dusk was falling and they
looked spectral and insubstantial in the dim light. Lamps were being lit;
a light glowed in the drawing-room opposite; then the curtains were
drawn, and the room was blotted out. Delia stood looking down at the
street. A woman of the lower classes was wheeling a perambulator; an
old man tottered along with his hands behind his back. Then the street
was empty; there was a pause. Here came a hansom jingling down the
road. Delia was momentarily interested. Was it going to stop at their
door or not? She gazed more intently. But then, to her regret, the cabman
jerked his reins, the horse stumbled on; the cab stopped two doors lower
"Someone's calling on the Stapletons," she called back, holding apart
the muslin blind. Milly came and stood beside her sister, and together,
through the slit, they watched a young man in a top-hat get out of the
cab. He stretched his hand up to pay the driver.
"Don't be caught looking," said Eleanor warningly. The young man ran
up the steps into the house; the door shut upon him and the cab drove
But for the moment the two girls stood at the window looking into the
street. The crocuses were yellow and purple in the front gardens. The almond
trees and privets were tipped with green. A sudden gust of wind
tore down the street, blowing a piece of paper along the pavement; and a
little swirl of dry dust followed after. Above the roofs was one of those
red and fitful London sunsets that make window after window burn
gold. There was a wildness in the spring evening; even here, in Abercorn
Terrace the light was changing from gold to black, from black to gold.
Dropping the blind, Delia turned, and coming back into the drawingroom,
said suddenly:
"Oh my God!"

from V. Woolf, The Years


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