Mrs Dalloway
Virginia Woolf
Contributed by Harvey Landy
Chapter 9

Lying on his sofa, Septimus also watched the play of light and shadow as it came through his window. He was listening intently, completely attuned to every sound on earth. He was sure that, once again, Nature was signaling her meaning to him. Lucrezia sat nearby, making a hat. She was reliving in her mind some horrible incidents of Septimus having visions and terrors and she being utterly helpless, except for writing down his "truths" on bits of paper, when he asked her to. She sighed. Septimus heard the sigh as an enchanting evening wind.

Then, very slowly, he began to feel himself getting well. He began, little by little, to have an ordinary conversation with Lucrezia, about the hat she was making. He began to focus his eyes on one thing at a time, "gathering courage" as he went, so that piece by piece he began to see the objects in the room as real, ordinary things. The process was very slow, very piecemeal. But Lucrezia noticed that they were talking like ordinary married people, and when they began to make fun of Mrs. Filmer, whose daughter was to have the hat, she rejoiced: They were communicating just like they used to do, before Septimus had gotten ill. Laughing, they re-trimmed the hat and joked intimately together. Lucrezia remembered how and why she had fallen in love with him, and all her love returned. She was very happy to have the old Septimus back.

Then suddenly, Septimus remembered that Sir William Bradshaw and Dr. Holmes were after him. He told Lucrezia to burn all of his writings. But she refused to burn them. Some were very beautiful, she thought. She told him that even if the doctors took him, she would go with him; she would not let them separate him from her. She tied up his scraps of writing in a neat parcel, and as she did so Septimus was overcome with gratitude and love. She seemed fearless to him, invincible; she had triumphed over Bradshaw, Holmes, and all their kind. Then they heard Dr. Holmes coming up the stairs, and Lucrezia ran down to send him away. Septimus heard her bravely say, "No. I will not allow you to see my husband." But Holmes forcibly put her aside and headed toward the door. Septimus rose. He resolved instantly that the doctors would not get him. He looked about for some means of suicide, and finding only a window, he waited on the ledge for the last moment. "He did not want to die. Life was good. The sun was hot. Only human beings¾what did they want?" When Holmes reached the door, Septimus cried, "I’ll give it you!" and flung himself out of the window.

Dr. Holmes burst in, crying "The coward!" Lucrezia ran to the window and saw Septimus dead. Dr. Holmes gave her a sleeping drug, and she began to drift off, not toward sleep at first, but toward somewhere quiet in her own mind. She heard nature’s whisperings, felt Septimus near, had flashes of childhood memories. Falling asleep, she saw the dark outline of Dr. Holmes at the window and thought, "So that was Dr. Holmes."

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