“Hurrah! I’ve got ‘Rosalind.’ I wanted her most of all.”
Jock and Mhor had a room with two beds, rather incongruously called “Anthony and Cleopatra.” Jock was inclined to be affronted, and said it was a silly-looking thing to put him in a room called after such an amorous couple. If it had been Touchstone or Mercutio, or even Shylock, he would not have minded, but the pilgrims of love got scant sympathy from that sturdy misogynist.
“It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o’er the green corn-fields did pass,
In the spring-time, the only pretty ring time....”
As You Like It.
Next morning Jean’s eyes wandered round the dining-room as if looking for someone, but there was no one she had ever seen before among the breakfasters at the little round tables in the pretty room with its low ceiling and black oak beams. To Jean, unused to hotel life and greatly interested in her kind, it was like a peep into some thrilling book. She could hardly eat her breakfast for studying the faces of her neighbours and trying to place them.
Were they all Shakespeare lovers? she wondered.
The people at the next table certainly looked as if they might be: a high-browed, thin-faced clergyman with a sister who was clever (from her eye-glasses and the way her hair was done, Jean decided she must be very clever), and a friend with them who looked literary—at least he had a large pile of letters and a clean-shaven face; and they seemed, all three, like Lord Lilac, to be “remembering him like anything.”
There were several clergymen in the room; one, rather fat, with a smug look and a smartly dressed wife, Jean decided must have married an heiress; another, with very prominent teeth and kind eyes, was accompanied by an extremely aged mother and two lean sisters.
One family party attracted Jean very much: a young-looking father and mother, with two girls, very pretty and newly grown up, and a boy like Davie. They were making plans for the day, deciding what to see and what to leave unseen, laughing a great deal, and chaffing each other, parents and children together. They looked so jolly and happy, as if they had always found the world a comfortable place. They seemed rather amused to find themselves at Stratford among the worshippers. Jean concluded that they were of those “not bad of heart” who “remembered Shakespeare with a start.”
Jock and Mhor were in the highest spirits. It seemed to them enormous fun to be staying in a hotel, and not an ordinary square up-and-down hotel, but a rambling place with little stairs in unexpected places, and old parts and new parts, and bedrooms owning names, and a long, low-roofed drawing-room with a window at the far end that opened right out to the stable-yard through which pleasantries could be exchanged with grooms and chauffeurs. There was a parlour, too, off the hall—the cosiest of parlours with cream walls and black oak beams and supports, two fireplaces round which were grouped inviting arm-chairs, tables with books and papers, many bowls of daffodils. And all over the house hung old prints of scenes in the plays; glorious pictures, some of them—ghosts and murders over which Mhor gloated.