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Night and Day

Nobody asked Katharine any questions next day. If cross-examined she might
have said that nobody spoke to her. She worked a little, wrote a little, ordered the
dinner, and sat, for longer than she knew, with her head on her hand piercing
whatever lay before her, whether it was a letter or a dictionary, as if it were a film
upon the deep prospects that revealed themselves to her kindling and brooding
eyes. She rose once, and going to the bookcase, took out her father's Greek
dictionary and spread the sacred pages of symbols and figures before her. She
smoothed the sheets with a mixture of affectionate amusement and hope. Would
other eyes look on them with her one day? The thought, long intolerable, was
now just bearable.
She was quite unaware of the anxiety with which her movements were watched
and her expression scanned. Cassandra was careful not to be caught looking at
her, and their conversation was so prosaic that were it not for certain jolts and
jerks between the sentences, as if the mind were kept with difficulty to the rails,
Mrs. Milvain herself could have detected nothing of a suspicious nature in what
she overheard.
William, when he came in late that afternoon and found Cassandra alone, had a
very serious piece of news to impart. He had just passed Katharine in the street
and she had failed to recognize him.
"That doesn't matter with me, of course, but suppose it happened with somebody
else? What would they think? They would suspect something merely from her
expression. She looked--she looked"--he hesitated-- "like some one walking in
her sleep."
To Cassandra the significant thing was that Katharine had gone out without
telling her, and she interpreted this to mean that she had gone out to meet Ralph
Denham. But to her surprise William drew no comfort from this probability.
"Once throw conventions aside," he began, "once do the things that people don't
do--" and the fact that you are going to meet a young man is no longer proof of
anything, except, indeed, that people will talk.
Cassandra saw, not without a pang of jealousy, that he was extremely solicitous
that people should not talk about Katharine, as if his interest in her were still
proprietary rather than friendly. As they were both ignorant of Ralph's visit the
night before they had not that reason to comfort themselves with the thought that
matters were hastening to a crisis. These absences of Katharine's, moreover, left
them exposed to interruptions which almost destroyed their pleasure in being
alone together. The rainy evening made it impossible to go out; and, indeed,
according to William's code, it was considerably more damning to be seen out of
doors than surprised within. They were so much at the mercy of bells and doors
that they could hardly talk of Macaulay with any conviction, and William preferred
to defer the second act of his tragedy until another day.
Under these circumstances Cassandra showed herself at her best. She
sympathized with William's anxieties and did her utmost to share them; but still,
to be alone together, to be running risks together, to be partners in the wonderful