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Night and Day

CHAPTER XXIX
Between twelve and one that Sunday night Katharine lay in bed, not asleep, but
in that twilight region where a detached and humorous view of our own lot is
possible; or if we must be serious, our seriousness is tempered by the swift
oncome of slumber and oblivion. She saw the forms of Ralph, William,
Cassandra, and herself, as if they were all equally unsubstantial, and, in putting
off reality, had gained a kind of dignity which rested upon each impartially. Thus
rid of any uncomfortable warmth of partisanship or load of obligation, she was
dropping off to sleep when a light tap sounded upon her door. A moment later
Cassandra stood beside her, holding a candle and speaking in the low tones
proper to the time of night.
"Are you awake, Katharine?"
"Yes, I'm awake. What is it?"
She roused herself, sat up, and asked what in Heaven's name Cassandra was
doing?
"I couldn't sleep, and I thought I'd come and speak to you--only for a moment,
though. I'm going home to-morrow."
"Home? Why, what has happened?"
"Something happened to-day which makes it impossible for me to stay here."
Cassandra spoke formally, almost solemnly; the announcement was clearly
prepared and marked a crisis of the utmost gravity. She continued what seemed
to be part of a set speech.
"I have decided to tell you the whole truth, Katharine. William allowed himself to
behave in a way which made me extremely uncomfortable to-day."
Katharine seemed to waken completely, and at once to be in control of herself.
"At the Zoo?" she asked.
"No, on the way home. When we had tea."
As if foreseeing that the interview might be long, and the night chilly, Katharine
advised Cassandra to wrap herself in a quilt. Cassandra did so with unbroken
solemnity.
"There's a train at eleven," she said. "I shall tell Aunt Maggie that I have to go
suddenly. . . . I shall make Violet's visit an excuse. But, after thinking it over, I
don't see how I can go without telling you the truth."
She was careful to abstain from looking in Katharine's direction. There was a
slight pause.
"But I don't see the least reason why you should go," said Katharine eventually.
Her voice sounded so astonishingly equable that Cassandra glanced at her. It
was impossible to suppose that she was either indignant or surprised; she
seemed, on the contrary, sitting up in bed, with her arms clasped round her
knees and a little frown on her brow, to be thinking closely upon a matter of
indifference to her.
"Because I can't allow any man to behave to me in that way," Cassandra replied,
and she added, "particularly when I know that he is engaged to some one else."
"But you like him, don't you?" Katharine inquired.
 
 
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