My timing was perfect, although it was nearly dawn, I arrived just after Lord Byron and his guests had retired for the night.
Fortunately for me the candles were still lit, it seemed that the servants were unaware that everyone upstairs had finally drifted off to their beds. Those downstairs would be waking up soon enough for breakfast, no need to rush through their own dreams I suppose.
A bohemian scene greeted me in the library of the Villa Diodati. Silk pillows lay strewn about on a Persian rug in front of the fire. Claret and sack decanters sat haphazardly about and small, half-filled wine glasses teetered on vast piles of books. A fitting scene for a group of young romantic poets determined to write something terrifying yet witty.
A cat sauntered by me. As I absent-mindedly reached down to stroke its head, I was startled by a large bird that flew through the hallway across the open doorway. Apparently Lord Byron’s menagerie had settled in comfortably alongside him at the villa.
So, despite the exceedingly dramatic and monstrously electrifying dreams manifesting themselves in Mary’s head upstairs at that very moment, I decided to wander over and peruse the sideboard.
Lord Byron and his guests spent the stormy evening in the Villa Diodati’s library immersed in conversation and the talk was of metaphysics and experiments in the reanimation of dead things using the newly discovered force of electricity.
Invoking darker horrors, they read stories of ghosts and tales of the dead from a book entitled Fantasmagoriana.
Minds were fertile with imagined terrors and as Lord Byron read aloud a haunting passage from Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelly suddenly leapt up and ran shrieking from the room.
In the smokey candlelight, Percy had hallucinated that Mary’s chest had metamorphosed into a pair of eyes coldly staring at him.