Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/54

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



Stratford, that you had to come to London to see a child who was born a man.”

He had called on the Harvards—Shakspere admitted it frankly to himself—not so much for old friendship’s sake as in the hope that talk with Harvard would set those diamond-sharp creative wheels in motion. But no such phenomenon manifested itself. Their talk, enthusiastic on Harvard’s side, perfunctory on his own, had resulted in nothing—that is if you called that sudden burning desire, unexpected as it was uncontrolled, for Stratford nothing; that sudden avid itch for the country quiet, the large lustred country stars, the dew-wetted, cooling dark, the country sunshine with its flower smells and summer colouring, nothing. . . .

The game was up!

London had failed him. To-morrow he would go back to New Place.

He did not know—so long and aimlessly had he wandered the Bankside streets—how he came to arrive at the Globe. Habit, of course, he reflected, wearily. He had gone like a homing horse straight to the familiar stall. But once at the Globe, he suddenly found himself fatigued. He went in.

Ah, that was the reason the flag was not up! And, of course, now he remembered that in the course of a long droning talk from his point of view as secretary of the Globe, Hemminge had told him last night-that the theatre was closed temporarily! Some unexpected repairs after the ravages of the winter storms had suddenly become necessary. A pair of carpenters—rough fellows enough—were pulling up the rotten boards in the centre under the big blue patch of open sky. At the side was a pile of fresh boards; tools. Shakspere seated himself on a second pile of boards, surveyed with the lacklustre eyes the empty boxes, the long stage protruding into the body of the house. The carpenters gave one look in his direction; accepted him apparently as a part of this strange theatrical world; went on with their talk. Low-voiced at first, it presently ignored him, rose to a normal tone. The sun lifted higher and higher. An agreeable wood smell emanated from the boards which made his seat. Shakspere fell into a muse that was so without thought that it was almost without consciousness. It was as though his will, ex-