Marcel and the Shakespeare Letters

Stephen Rabley

Marcel is a French mouse. He's a detective and he lives in Paris. But Marcel doesn't live in Paris all year. Every November he visits London. His old friend - Henry - has a small flat there.

Marcel loves London. The beautiful buildings... the big, black taxis... the museums and shops. He loves Paris, but he loves London too.

This story is about one of Marcel's November holidays. It starts at three o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon. Marcel is walking from Knightsbridge station to Henry's flat. He has two heavy bags with him.

Henry's address is 42 Old Wilton Street. Marcel looks at the numbers - 36 - 38 - 40. Yes, here it is. Number 42.

He sees a sign. It says: 'Professor J. T. Barton'. Marcel looks at it and thinks, 'That's new.' Then he goes down to Henry's flat.

Henry opens the door and smiles.

'Marcel!' he says. 'Come in, come in!'

'Hello, Henry,' Marcel says.

'How are you?' (His English is very good.)

'I'm very well. And you?'

'Yes, thanks.'

'Good, good.' Henry takes Marcel's coat. 'Now,' he says, 'let's have some tea.'

The two friends sit in big chairs. They drink tea and talk.

At five o'clock Marcel says, 'There's a new person in number 42. What's his name? Burton? Barnam?'

'Barton,' Henry says. 'Professor Barton. He's very, very clever. And that's not all. After tomorrow he's going to be famous, too!'

'Famous?!' Marcel looks at his English friend. 'Why?'

'It's a very interesting story,' Henry says. 'He has some letters. They were under the floor of an old woman's house in Oxford.'

'And...?' Marcel says.

'And they're from Shakespeare to his son,' Henry says.

'Shakespeare!'

'Yes.' Henry smiles. 'Shakespeare. The old lady telephoned Professor Barton, and the Professor visited her. They talked about the letters and she said, "I want to give them to the British Museum in London. Can you do that for me?"'

'And Professor Barton said yes?'

'That's right.'