February 13 , 2010

Three Men and a Maid


Through the curtained windows of the furnished apartment which Mrs. Horace Hignett had rented for her stay in New York rays of golden sunlight peeped in like the foremost spies of some advancing army. It was a fine summer morning. The hands of the Dutch clock in the hall pointed to thirteen minutes past nine; those of the ormolu clock in the sitting-room to eleven minutes past ten; those of the carriage clock on the bookshelf to fourteen minutes to six. In other words, it was exactly eight; and Mrs. Hignett acknowledged the fact by moving her head on the pillow, opening her eyes, and sitting up in bed. She always woke at eight precisely. Was this Mrs. Hignett the Mrs. Hignett, the world-famous writer on Theosophy, the author of "The Spreading Light," "What of the Morrow," and all the rest of that well-known series? I'm glad you asked me. Yes, she was. She had come over to America on a lecturing tour. The year 1921, it will be remembered, was a trying one for the inhabitants of the United States. Every boat that arrived from England brought a fresh swarm of British lecturers to the country. Novelists, poets, scientists, philosophers, and plain, ordinary bores; some herd instinct seemed to affect them all simultaneously. It was like one of those great race movements of the Middle Ages. Men and women of widely differing views on religion, art, politics, and almost every other subject; on this one point the intellectuals of Great Britain were single-minded, that there was easy money to be picked up on the lecture platforms of America and that they might just as well grab it as the next person. Mrs. Hignett had come over with the first batch of immigrants; for, spiritual as her writings were, there was a solid streak of business sense in this woman and she meant to get hers while the getting was good. She was half way across the Atlantic with a complete itinerary booked before 90 per cent. of the poets and philosophers had finished sorting out their clean collars and getting their photographs taken for the passport
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