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Night and Day

CHAPTER XXX
The day was so different from other days to three people in the house that the
common routine of household life--the maid waiting at table, Mrs. Hilbery writing
a letter, the clock striking, and the door opening, and all the other signs of long-
established civilization appeared suddenly to have no meaning save as they
lulled Mr. and Mrs. Hilbery into the belief that nothing unusual had taken place. It
chanced that Mrs. Hilbery was depressed without visible cause, unless a certain
crudeness verging upon coarseness in the temper of her favorite Elizabethans
could be held responsible for the mood. At any rate, she had shut up "The
Duchess of Malfi" with a sigh, and wished to know, so she told Rodney at dinner,
whether there wasn't some young writer with a touch of the great spirit--
somebody who made you believe that life was BEAUTIFUL? She got little help
from Rodney, and after singing her plaintive requiem for the death of poetry by
herself, she charmed herself into good spirits again by remembering the
existence of Mozart. She begged Cassandra to play to her, and when they went
upstairs Cassandra opened the piano directly, and did her best to create an
atmosphere of unmixed beauty. At the sound of the first notes Katharine and
Rodney both felt an enormous sense of relief at the license which the music gave
them to loosen their hold upon the mechanism of behavior. They lapsed into the
depths of thought. Mrs. Hilbery was soon spirited away into a perfectly congenial
mood, that was half reverie and half slumber, half delicious melancholy and half
pure bliss. Mr. Hilbery alone attended. He was extremely musical, and made
Cassandra aware that he listened to every note. She played her best, and won
his approval. Leaning slightly forward in his chair, and turning his little green
stone, he weighed the intention of her phrases approvingly, but stopped her
suddenly to complain of a noise behind him. The window was unhasped. He
signed to Rodney, who crossed the room immediately to put the matter right. He
stayed a moment longer by the window than was, perhaps, necessary, and
having done what was needed, drew his chair a little closer than before to
Katharine's side. The music went on. Under cover of some exquisite run of
melody, he leant towards her and whispered something. She glanced at her
father and mother, and a moment later left the room, almost unobserved, with
Rodney.
"What is it?" she asked, as soon as the door was shut.
Rodney made no answer, but led her downstairs into the dining-room on the
ground floor. Even when he had shut the door he said nothing, but went straight
to the window and parted the curtains. He beckoned to Katharine.
"There he is again," he said. "Look, there--under the lamp-post."
Katharine looked. She had no idea what Rodney was talking about. A vague
feeling of alarm and mystery possessed her. She saw a man standing on the
opposite side of the road facing the house beneath a lamp-post. As they looked
the figure turned, walked a few steps, and came back again to his old position. It
seemed to her that he was looking fixedly at her, and was conscious of her gaze
 
 
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