Night and Day HTML version
The tray which brought Katharine's cup of tea the next morning brought, also, a
note from her mother, announcing that it was her intention to catch an early train
to Stratford-on-Avon that very day.
"Please find out the best way of getting there," the note ran, "and wire to dear Sir
John Burdett to expect me, with my love. I've been dreaming all night of you and
Shakespeare, dearest Katharine."
This was no momentary impulse. Mrs. Hilbery had been dreaming of
Shakespeare any time these six months, toying with the idea of an excursion to
what she considered the heart of the civilized world. To stand six feet above
Shakespeare's bones, to see the very stones worn by his feet, to reflect that the
oldest man's oldest mother had very likely seen Shakespeare's daughter--such
thoughts roused an emotion in her, which she expressed at unsuitable moments,
and with a passion that would not have been unseemly in a pilgrim to a sacred
shrine. The only strange thing was that she wished to go by herself. But, naturally
enough, she was well provided with friends who lived in the neighborhood of
Shakespeare's tomb, and were delighted to welcome her; and she left later to
catch her train in the best of spirits. There was a man selling violets in the street.
It was a fine day. She would remember to send Mr. Hilbery the first daffodil she
saw. And, as she ran back into the hall to tell Katharine, she felt, she had always
felt, that Shakespeare's command to leave his bones undisturbed applied only to
odious curiosity-mongers--not to dear Sir John and herself. Leaving her daughter
to cogitate the theory of Anne Hathaway's sonnets, and the buried manuscripts
here referred to, with the implied menace to the safety of the heart of civilization
itself, she briskly shut the door of her taxi-cab, and was whirled off upon the first
stage of her pilgrimage.
The house was oddly different without her. Katharine found the maids already in
possession of her room, which they meant to clean thoroughly during her
absence. To Katharine it seemed as if they had brushed away sixty years or so
with the first flick of their damp dusters. It seemed to her that the work she had
tried to do in that room was being swept into a very insignificant heap of dust.
The china shepherdesses were already shining from a bath of hot water. The
writing-table might have belonged to a professional man of methodical habits.
Gathering together a few papers upon which she was at work, Katharine
proceeded to her own room with the intention of looking through them, perhaps,
in the course of the morning. But she was met on the stairs by Cassandra, who
followed her up, but with such intervals between each step that Katharine began
to feel her purpose dwindling before they had reached the door. Cassandra leant
over the banisters, and looked down upon the Persian rug that lay on the floor of
"Doesn't everything look odd this morning?" she inquired. "Are you really going to
spend the morning with those dull old letters, because if so--"
The dull old letters, which would have turned the heads of the most sober of
collectors, were laid upon a table, and, after a moment's pause, Cassandra,