The working title for Barbara Cleverly’s last book was A Pale Swan. The swan in question came from a description of a corpse early on in the book, a line borrowed from Shakespeare.
“And so white,” murmured Doris. “I’ve never seen a dead body before. I thought at first it must be a bird—a swan perhaps. You do see them on the river sometimes.”
“And now this pale swan in her watery nest
Begins the sad dirge of her certain ending.”
Creepy once you read the scene, less so if you don’t know the context.
Soon, we settled on A Spider in the Cup, from another passage by Shakespeare—this time, The Winter’s Tale.
“There may be in the cup
A spider steeped, and one may drink, depart,
And yet partake no venom, for his knowledge
Is not infected; but if one present
The abhorred ingredient to his eye, make known
How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides,
With violent hefts. I have drunk, and seen the spider.”
I can now confirm just how unsettling this title, A Spider in the Cup, is.
A few nights ago this foreboding image invaded my dream. A friend and I were at dinner, and somehow in the short period of time that he was up from the table, a spider built a web in his wine glass. A brown recluse, by the look of it. Naturally, the dream did not end well for him.