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By Jennette Lee
To GERALD STANLEY LEE
"To keep the youth of souls who pitch
Their joy in this old heart of things;
Full lasting is the song, though he,
The singer, passes; lasting too,
For souls not lent in usury,
The rapture of the forward view."
ACHILLES GOES TO CHICAGO
Achilles Alexandrakis was arranging the fruit on his stall in front of
his little shop on Clark Street. It was a clear, breezy morning, cool
for October, but not cold enough to endanger the fruit that Achilles
handled so deftly in his dark, slender fingers. As he built the
oranges into their yellow pyramid and grouped about them figs and
dates, melons and pears, and grapes and pineapples, a look of content
held his face. This was the happiest moment of his day.
Already, half an hour ago Alcibiades and Yaxis had departed with their
pushcarts, one to the north and one to the south, calling antiphonally
as they went, in clear, high voices that came fainter and fainter to
Achilles among his fruit.
They would not return until night, and then they would come with empty
carts, and jingling in their pockets coppers and nickels and dimes.
The breath of a sigh escaped Achilles's lips as he stood back
surveying the stall. Something very like homesickness was in his
heart. He had almost fancied for a minute that he was back once more
in Athens. He raised his eyes and gave a quick, deep glance up and
down the street--soot and dirt and grime, frowning buildings and ugly
lines, and overhead a meagre strip of sky. Over Athens the sky hung
glorious, a curve of light from side to side. His soul flew wide to
meet it. Once more he was swinging along the "Street of the Winds,"
his face lifted to the Parthenon on its Acropolis, his nostrils
breathing the clear air. Chicago had dropped from him like a garment,
his soul rose and floated. . . . Athens everywhere--column and
cornice, and long, delicate lines, and colour of marble and light. He
drew a full, sweet breath.
Achilles moved with quick, gliding step, taking orders, filling bags,
making change--always with his dark eyes seeking, a little wistfully,
something that did not come to them. . . . It was all so different--
this new world. Achilles had been in Chicago six months now, but he
had not yet forgotten a dream that he had dreamed in Athens. Sometimes
he dreamed it still, and then he wondered whether this, about him,
were not all a dream--this pushing, scrambling, picking, hurrying,
choosing crowd, dropping pennies and dimes into his curving palm,
swearing softly at slow change, and flying fast from street to street.
It was not thus in his dream. He had seen a land of new faces, turned
ever to the West, with the light on them. He had known them, in his
dream--eager faces, full of question and quick response. His soul had
gone out to them and, musing in sunny Athens, he had made ready for
them. Each morning when he rose he had lifted his glance to the
Parthenon, studying anew the straight lines--that were yet not
straight--the mysterious, dismantled beauty, the mighty lift of its
presence. When they should question him, in this new land, he must not
fail them. They would be hungry for the beauty of the ancient world--
they who had no ruins of their own. He knew in his heart how it would
be with them--the homesickness for the East--all its wonder and its
mystery. Yes, he would carry it to them. He, Achilles Alexandrakis,
should not be found wanting. This new world was to give him money,
wealth, better education for his boys, a competent old age. But he,
too, had something to give in exchange. He must make himself ready
against the great day when he should travel down the long way of the
Piraeus, for the last time, and set sail for America.
He was in America now. He knew, when he stopped to think, that this
was not a dream. He had been here six months, in the little shop on
Clark Street, but no one had yet asked him of the Parthenon. Sometimes
he thought that they did not know that he was Greek. Perhaps if they
knew that he had been in Athens, had lived there all his life from a
boy, they would question him. The day that he first thought of this,
he had ordered a new sign painted. It bore his name in Greek
characters, and it was beautiful in line and colour. It caused his
stand to become known far and wide as the "Greek Shop," and within a
month after it was put up his trade had doubled--but no one had asked
about the Parthenon.
He had really ceased to hope for it now. He only dreamed the dream, a
little wistfully, as he went in and out, and his thought dwelt always
on Athens and her beauty. The images stamped so carefully on his
sensitive brain became his most precious treasures. Over and over he
dwelt on them. Ever in memory his feet climbed the steps to the
Acropolis or walked beneath stately orange-trees, beating a soft
rhythm to the sound of flute and viol. For Achilles was by nature one
of the lightest-hearted of children. In Athens his laugh had been
quick to rise, and fresh as the breath of rustling leaves. It was only
here, under the sooty sky of the narrow street, that his face had
grown a little sad.
At first the days had been full of hope, and the face of each newcomer
had been scanned with eager eyes. The fruit, sold so courteously and
freely, was hardly more than an excuse for the opening of swift talk.
But the talk had never come. There was the inevitable and never-
varying, "How much?" the passing of coin, and hurrying feet. Soon a
chill had crept into the heart of Achilles. They did not ask of
Athens. They did not know that he was Greek. They did not care that
his name was Achilles. They did not see him standing there with
waiting eyes. He might have been a banana on its stem, a fig-leaf
against the wall, the dirt that gritted beneath their feet, for all
that their eyes took note. . . . Yet they were not cruel or
thoughtless. Sometimes there came a belated response--half surprised,
but cordial--to his gentle "good day." Sometimes a stranger said, "The
day is warm," or, "The breeze from the Lake is cool to-day." Then the
eyes of Achilles glowed like soft stars in their places. Surely now
they would speak. They would say, "Is it thus in Greece?" But they
never spoke. And the days hurried their swift feet through the long,
A tall woman in spectacles was coming toward him, sniffing the air a
little as she moved. "Have you got any bananas?"
"Yes. They nice." He led the way into the shop and reached to the
swinging bunch. "You like some?" he said, encouragingly.
She sniffed a step nearer. "Too ripe," decisively.
"Yes-s. But here and here--" He twirled the bunch skilfully on its
string. "These--not ripe, and these." His sunny smile spread their
gracious acceptableness before her.
She wrinkled her forehead at them. "Well--you might as well cut me off
"A pleasure, madame." He had seized the heavy knife.
"Give me that one." It was a large one near the centre; "and this one
When the six were selected and cut off they were the cream of the
bunch. She eyed him doubtfully, still scowling a little. "Yes. I'll
The Greek bowed gravely over the coin she dropped into his palm.
"Thank you, madame."
It was later now, and the crowd moved more slowly, with longer pauses
between the buyers.
A boy with a bag of books stopped for an apple. Two children with
their nurse halted a moment, looking at the glowing fruit. The eyes of
the children were full of light and question. Somewhere in their
depths Achilles caught a flitting shadow of the Parthenon. Then the
nurse hurried them on, and they, too, were gone.
He turned away with a little sigh, arranging the fruit in his slow
absent way. Something at the side of the stall caught his eye, a
little movement along the board, in and out through the colour and
leaves. He lifted a leaf to see. It was a green and black caterpillar,
crawling with stately hunch to the back of the stall. Achilles watched
him with gentle eyes. Then he leaned over the stall and reached out a
long finger. The caterpillar, poised in midair, remained swaying back
and forth above the dark obstruction. Slowly it descended and hunched
itself anew along the finger. It travelled up the motionless hand and
reached the sleeve. With a smile on his lips Achilles entered the
shop. He took down an empty fig-box and transferred the treasure to
its depths, dropping in after it one or two leaves and a bit of twig.
He fitted the lid to the box, leaving a little air, and taking the pen
from his desk, wrote across the side in clear Greek letters. Then he
placed the box on the shelf behind him, where the wet ink of the
lettering glistened faintly in the light. It was a bit of the heart of
Athens prisoned there; and many times, through the cold and snow and
bitter sleet of that winter, Achilles took down the fig-box and peered
into its depths at a silky bit of grey cradle swung from the side of
the box by its delicate bands.
A BUTTERFLY SPREADS ITS WINGS
It happened, on a Wednesday in May that Madame Lewandowska was ill. So
ill that when Betty Harris, with her demure music-roll in her hand,
tapped at the door of Madame Lewandowska's studio, she found no one
On ordinary days this would not have mattered, for the governess, Miss
Stone, would have been with her, and they would have gone shopping or
sightseeing until the hour was up and James returned. But to-day Miss
Stone, too, was ill, James had departed with the carriage, and Betty
Harris found herself standing, music-roll in hand, at the door of
Madame Lewandowska's studio--alone in the heart of Chicago for the
first time in the twelve years of her life.
It had been a very carefully guarded life, with nurses and servants
and instructors. No little princess was ever more sternly and
conscientiously reared than little Betty Harris, of Chicago. For her
tiny sake, herds of cattle were slaughtered every day; and all over
the land hoofs and hides and by-products and soap-factories lifted
themselves to heaven for Betty Harris. If anything were to happen to
her, the business of a dozen States would quiver to the core.
She tapped the marble floor softly with her foot and pondered. She
might sit here in the hall and wait for James--a whole hour. There was
a bench by the wall. She looked at it doubtfully. . . . It was not
seemly that a princess should sit waiting for a servant--not even in
marble halls. She glanced about her again. There was probably a
telephone somewhere--perhaps on the ground floor. She could telephone
home and they would send another carriage. Yes, that would be best.
She rang the elevator bell and descended in stately silence. When she
stepped out of the great door of the building she saw, straight before
her, the sign she sought--"Pay Station."
But then something happened to Betty Harris. The spirit of the spring
day caught her and lifted her out of herself. Men were hurrying by
with light step. Little children laughed as they ran. Betty skipped a
few steps and laughed softly with them. . . . She would walk home. It
was not far. She had often walked as far in the country, and she knew
the way quite well. . . . And when she looked up again, she stood in
front of the glowing fruit-stall, and Achilles Alexandrakis was
regarding her with deep, sad eyes.
Achilles had been dreaming down the street when the little figure came
in sight. His heart all day had been full of sadness--for the spring
in the air. And all day Athens had haunted his steps--the Athens of
dreams. Once when he had retired into the dark, cool shop, he brushed
his sleeve across his eyes, and then he had stood looking down in
surprise at something that glistened on its worn surface.
Betty Harris looked at him and smiled. She had been so carefully
brought up that she had not learned that some people were her
inferiors and must not be smiled at. She gave him the straight, sweet
smile that those who had cared for her all her life loved so well.
Then she gave a little nod. "I'm walking home," she said.
Achilles leaned forward a little, almost holding his breath lest she
float from him. It was the very spirit of Athens--democratic,
cultured, naive. He gave her the salute of his country. She smiled
again. Then her eye fell on the tray of pomegranates near the edge of
the stall--round and pink. She reached out a hand. "I have never seen
these," she said, slowly. "What are they?"
"Pomegranates-- Yes--you like some? I give you."
He disappeared into the shop and Betty followed him, looking about
with clear, interested eyes. It was like no place she had ever seen--
this cool, dark room, with its tiers on tiers of fruit, and the
fragrant, spicy smell, and the man with the sad, kind face. Her quick
eye paused--arrested by the word printed on a box on the shelf to the
right. . . . Ah, that was it! She knew now quite well. He was a Greek
man. She knew the letters; She had studied Greek for six months; but
she did not know this word. She was still spelling it out when
Achilles returned with the small box of pomegranates in his hand.
She looked up slowly. "I can't quite make it out," she said.
"That?" Achilles's face was alight. "That is Greek."
She nodded. "I know. I study it; but what is it--the word?"
"The word!--Ah, yes, it is-- How you say? You shall see."
He reached out a hand to the box. But the child stopped him. A quick
thought had come to her. "You have been in Athens, haven't you? I want
to ask you something, please."
The hand dropped from the box. The man turned about, waiting. If
heaven were to open to him now--!
"I've always wanted to see a Greek man," said the child, slowly, "a
real Greek man. I've wanted to ask him something he would know about.
Have you ever seen the Parthenon?" She put the question with quaint
A light came into the eyes of Achilles Alexandrakis. It flooded the
"You ask me--the Parthenon?" he said, solemnly. "You wish me--tell
that?" It was wistful--almost a cry of longing.
Betty Harris nodded practically. "I've always wanted to know about it
--the Parthenon. They tell you how long it is, and how wide, and what
it is made of, and who began it, and who finished it, and who
destroyed it, but they never, never"--she raised her small hand
impressively--"they /never/ tell you how it looks!"
Achilles brought a chair and placed it near the open door. "Will it--
kindly--you sit?" he said, gravely.
She seated herself, folding her hands above the music-roll, and
lifting her eyes to the dark face looking down at her. "Thank you."
Achilles leaned back against the counter, thinking a little. He sighed
gently. "I tell you many things," he said at last.
"About the Parthenon, please," said Betty Harris.
"You like Athens?" He said it like a child.
"I should like it--if they would tell me real things. I don't seem to
make them understand. But when they say how beautiful it is--I feel it
here." She laid her small hand to her side.
The smile of Achilles held the glory in its depths. "I tell you," he
The clear face reflected the smile. A breath of waiting held the lips.
Achilles leaned again upon his counter. His face was rapt, and he
spread his finger-tips a little, as if something within them stirred
to be free.
"It stands so high and lifts itself"--Achilles raised his dark hands--
"ruined there--so great--and far beneath, the city lies, drawing near
and near, and yet it cannot reach . . . And all around is light--and
light--and light. Here it is a cellar"--his hands closed in with
crushing touch--"but there--!" He flung the words from him like a
chant of music, and a sky stretched about them from side to side, blue
as sapphire and shedding radiant light upon the city in its midst--a
city of fluted column and curving cornice and temple and arch and
tomb. The words rolled on, fierce and eager. It was a song of triumph,
with war and sorrow and mystery running beneath the sound of joy. And
the child, listening with grave, clear eyes, smiled a little, holding
her breath. "I see it--I see it!" She half whispered the words.
Achilles barely looked at her. "You see--ah, yes--you see. But I--I
have not words!" It was almost a cry. . . . "The air, so clear--like
wine--and the pillars straight and high and big--but light--light--
reaching. . . ." His soul was among them, soaring high. Then it
returned to earth and he remembered the child.
"And there is an olive-tree," he said, kindly, "and a well where
"I've heard about the well and the olive-tree," said the child; "I
don't care so much about them. But all the rest--" She drew a quick
breath. "It is very beautiful. I knew it would be. I knew it would
There was silence in the room.
"Thank you for telling me," said Betty Harris. "Now I must go." She
slipped from the chair with a little sigh. She stood looking about the
dim shop. "Now I must go," she repeated, wistfully.
Achilles moved a step toward the shelf. "Yes--but wait--I will show
you." He reached up to the box and took it down lightly. "I show you."
He was removing the cover.
The child leaned forward with shining eyes.
A smile came into the dark, grave face looking into the box. "Ah, he
has blossomed--for you." He held it out to her.
She took it in shy fingers, bending to it. "It is beautiful," she
said, softly. "Yes--beautiful!"
The dark wings, with shadings of gold and tender blue, lifted
themselves a little, waiting.
The child looked up. "May I touch it?" she asked.
"Yes-- But why not?"
The dark head was bent close to hers, watching the wonderful wings.
Slowly Betty Harris put out a finger and stroked the wings.
They fluttered a little--opened wide and rose--in their first flutter
"Oh!" It was a cry of delight from the child.
The great creature had settled on the bunch of bananas and hung
swaying. The gold and blue wings opened and closed slowly.
Achilles drew near and put out a finger.
The butterfly was on it.
He held it toward her, smiling gently, and she reached up, her very
breath on tiptoe. A little smile curved her lips, quick and wondering,
as the transfer was made, thread by thread, till the gorgeous thing
rested on her own palm.
She looked up. "What shall I do with it?" It was a shining whisper.
Achilles's eyes sought the door.
They moved toward it slowly, light as breath.
In the open doorway they paused. Above the tall buildings the grey rim
of sky lifted itself. The child looked up to it. Her eyes returned to
He nodded gravely.
She raised her hand with a little "p-f-f"--it was half a quick laugh
and half a sigh.
The wings fluttered free, and rose and faltered, and rose again--high
and higher, between the dark walls--up to the sky, into the grey--and
The eyes that had followed it came back to earth. They looked at each
other and smiled gravely--two children who had seen a happy thing.
The child stood still with half-lifted hand. . . . A carriage drove
quickly into the street. The little hand was lifted higher. It was a
regal gesture--the return of the princess to earth.
James touched his hat--a look of dismay and relief battling in his
face as he turned the horses sharply to the right. They paused in
front of the stall, their hoofs beating dainty time to the coursing of
Achilles eyed them lovingly. The spirit of Athens dwelt in their
He opened the door for the child with the quiet face and shining eyes.
Gravely he salaamed as she entered the carriage.
Through the open window she held out a tiny hand. "I hope you will
come and see me," she said.
"Yes, I come," said Achilles, simply. "I like to come."
James dropped a waiting eye.
The horses sprang away. Achilles Alexandrakis, bareheaded in the
spring sunshine, watched the carriage till it was out of sight. Then
he turned once more to the stall and rearranged the fruit. The swift
fingers laughed a little as they worked, and the eyes of Achilles were
filled with light.
BETTY'S MOTHER HEARS A STORY
"Mother-dear!" It was the voice of Betty Harris--eager, triumphant,
with a little laugh running through it. "Mother-dear!"
"Yes--Betty--" The woman seated at the dark mahogany desk looked up, a
little line between her eyes. "You have come, child?" It was half a
caress. She put out an absent hand, drawing the child toward her while
she finished her note.
The child stood by gravely, looking with shining eyes at the face
bending above the paper. It was a handsome face with clear, hard lines
--the reddish hair brushed up conventionally from the temples, and the
skin a little pallid under its careful massage and skilfully touched
To Betty Harris her mother was the most beautiful woman in the world--
more beautiful than the marble Venus at the head of the long
staircase, or the queenly lady in the next room, forever stepping down
from her gilded frame into the midst of tapestry and leather in the
library. It may have been that Betty's mother was quite as much a work
of art in her way as these other treasures that had come from the Old
World. But to Betty Harris, who had slight knowledge of art values,
her mother was beautiful, because her eyes had little points of light
in them that danced when she laughed, and her lips curved prettily,
like a bow, if she smiled.
They curved now as she looked up from her note. "Well, daughter?" She
had sealed the note and laid it one side. "Was it a good lesson?" She
leaned back in her chair, stroking the child's hand softly, while her
eyes travelled over the quaint, dignified little figure. The child was
a Velasquez--people had often remarked it, and the mother had taken
the note that gave to her clothes the regal air touched with
simplicity. "So it was a good lesson, was it?" she repeated, absently,
as she stroked the small dark hand--her own figure graciously outlined
as she leaned back enjoying the lifted face and straight, clear eyes.
"Mother-dear!" The child's voice vibrated with the intensity behind
it. "I have seen a man--a very /good/ man!"
"Yes?" There was a little laugh in the word. She was accustomed to the
child's enthusiasms. Yet they were always new to her--even the old
ones were. "Who was he, daughter--this very good man?"
"He is a Greek, mother--with a long, beautiful name--I don't think I
can tell it to you. But he is most wonderful--!" The child spread her
hands and drew a deep breath.
"More wonderful than father?" It was an idle, laughing question--while
she studied the lifted-up face.
"More wonderful than father--yes--" The child nodded gravely. "I can't
quite tell you, mother-dear, how it feels--" She laid a tiny hand on
her chest. Her eyes were full of thought. "He speaks like music, and
he loves things--oh, very much!"
"I see-- And did Madame Lewandowska introduce you to him?"
"Oh, it was not there." The child's face cleared with swift thought.
"I didn't tell you--Madame was ill--"
The reclining figure straightened a little in its place, but the face
was still smiling. "So you and Miss Stone--"
"But Miss Stone is ill, mother-dear. Did you forget her toothache?"
The tone was politely reproachful.
The woman was very erect now--her small eyes, grown wide, gazing at
the child, devouring her. "Betty! Where have you been?" It was more a
cry than a question--a cry of dismay, running swiftly toward terror.
It was the haunting fear of her life that Betty would some day be
kidnapped, as the child next door had been. . . . The fingers resting
on the arm of the chair were held tense.
"I don't think I did wrong, mother." The child was looking at her very
straight, as if answering a challenge. "You see, I walked home--"
"Where was James?" The woman's tone was sharp, and her hand reached
toward the bell; but the child's hand moved softly toward it.
"I'd like to tell you about it myself, please, mother. James never
waits for the lessons. I don't think he was to blame."
The woman's eyes were veiled with sudden mist. She drew the child
close. "Tell mother about it."
Betty Harris looked down, stroking her mother's sleeve. A little smile
of memory held her lips. "He was a beautiful man!" she said.
The mother waited, breathless.
"I was walking home, and I came to his shop--"
"To his shop!"
She nodded reassuringly. "His fruit-shop--and--oh, I forgot--" She
reached into the little bag at her side, tugging at something. "He
gave me these." She produced the round box and took off the lid,
looking into it with pleased eyes. "Aren't they beautiful?"
The mother bent blindly to it. "Pomegranates," she said. Her lips were
still a little white, but they smiled bravely with the child's
"Pomegranates," said Betty, nodding. "That is what he called them. I
should like to taste one--" She was looking at them a little
"We will have them for luncheon," said the mother. She had touched the
bell with quick decision.
"Marie"--she held out the box--"tell Nesmer to serve these with
"Am I to have luncheon with you, mother-dear?" The child's eyes were
on her mother's face.
"With me--yes." The reply was prompt--if a little tremulous.
The child sighed happily. "It is being a marvellous day," she said,
The mother smiled. "Come and get ready for luncheon, and then you
shall tell me about the wonderful man."
So it came about that Betty Harris, seated across the dark, shining
table, told her mother, Mrs. Philip Harris, a happy adventure wherein
she, Betty Harris, who had never before set foot unattended in the
streets of Chicago, had wandered for an hour and more in careless
freedom, and straying at last into the shop of a marvellous Greek--one
Achilles Alexandrakis by name--had heard strange tales of Greece and
Athens and the Parthenon--tales at the very mention of which her eyes
danced and her voice rippled.
And her mother, listening across the table, trembled at the dangers
the child touched upon and flitted past. It had been part of the
careful rearing of Betty Harris that she should not guess that the
constant attendance upon her was a body-guard--such as might wait upon
a princess. It had never occurred to Betty Harris that other little
girls were not guarded from the moment they rose in the morning till
they went to bed at night, and that even at night Miss Stone slept
within sound of her breath. She had grown up happy and care-free, with
no suspicion of the danger that threatened the child of a marked
millionaire. She did not even know that her father was a very rich man
--so protected had she been. She was only a little more simple than
most children of twelve. And she met the world with straight, shining
looks, speaking to rich and poor with a kind of open simplicity that
won the heart.
Her mother, watching the clear eyes, had a sudden pang of what the
morning might have been--the disillusionment and terror of this
unprotected hour--that had been made instead a memory of delight--
thanks to an unknown Greek named Achilles Alexandrakis, who had told
her of the beauties of Greece and the Parthenon, and had given her
fresh pomegranates to carry home in a round box. The mother's thoughts
rested on the man with a quick sense of gratitude. He should be paid a
thousand times over for his care of Betty Harris--and for
"They are like the Parthenon," said the child, holding one in her hand
and turning it daintily to catch the light on its pink surface. "They
grew in Athens." She set her little teeth firmly in its round side.
AND ACHILLES DREAMS
Achilles, in his little shop, went in and out with the thought of the
child in his heart. His thin fingers flitted lightly among the fruit.
The sadness in his face had given way to a kind of waking joy and
thoughtfulness. As he made change and did up bags and parcels of
fruit, his thoughts kept hovering about her, and his lips moved in a
soft smile, half-muttering again the words he had spoken to her--
praises of Athens, city of light, sky of brightness, smiles, and
running talk. . . . It was all with him, and his heart was free. How
the child's eyes had followed the words, full of trust! He should see
her again--and again. . . . Outside a halo rested on the smoky air--a
little child, out of the rattle and din, had spoken to him. As he
looked up, the big, sooty city became softly the presence of the
child. . . . The sound of pennies clinking in hurried palms was no
longer harsh upon his ears; they tinkled softly--little tunes that
ran. Truly it had been a wonderful day for Achilles Alexandrakis.
He paused in his work and looked about the little shop. The same dull-
shining rows of fruit, the same spicy smell and the glowing disks of
yellow light. He drew a deep, full breath. It was all the same, but
the world was changed. His heart that had ached so long with its pent-
up message of Greece--the glory of her days, the beauty of temples and
statues and tombs--was freed by the tale of his lips. The world was
new-born for him. He lifted the empty fig-box, from which the child
had set free the butterfly that had hung imprisoned in its grey cocoon
throughout the long winter, and placed it carefully on the shelf. The
lettering traced along its side was faded and dim; but he saw again
the child's eyes lifted to it--the lips half-parted, the eager
question and swift demand--that he should tell her of Athens and the
Parthenon--and the same love and the wonder that dwelt in his own
heart for the city of his birth. It was a strange coincidence that the
child should have come to him. Perhaps she was the one soul in the
great, hurrying city who could care. They did not understand--these
hurrying, breathless men and women--how a heart could ache for
something left behind across the seas, a city of quiet, the breath of
the Past--sorrow and joy and sweet life. . . . No, they could not
understand! But the child-- He caught his breath a little. Where was
she--in the hurry and rush? He had not thought to ask. And she was
gone! Only for a moment the dark face clouded. Then the smile flooded
again. He should find her. It might be hard--but he would search. Had
he not come down the long way of the Piraeus to the sea--blue in the
sun. Across the great waters by ship, and the long miles by train. He
should find her. . . . They would talk again. He laughed quietly in
the dusky shop.
Then his eye fell upon it--the music roll that had slipped quietly to
the floor when her eager hand had lifted itself to touch the
butterfly, opening and closing his great wings in the fig-box. He
crossed to it and lifted it almost reverently, brushing a breath of
dust from its leather sides. . . . He bent closer to it, staring at a
little silver plate that swung from the strap. He carried it to the
window, rubbing it on the worn black sleeve, and bending closer,
studying the deep-cut letters. Then he lifted his head. A quick sigh
floated from him. Miss Elizabeth Harris, 108 Lake Shore Drive. He knew
the place quite well--facing the lake, where the water boomed against
the great break-water. He would take it to her--to-morrow--the next
day--next week, perhaps. . . . He wrapped it carefully away and laid
it in a drawer to wait. She had asked him to come.
THE GREEK PROFESSOR LAUGHS
To Mrs. Philip Harris, in the big house looking out across the lake,
the passing days brought grateful reassurance. . . . Betty was safe--
Miss Stone was well again--and the man had not come. . . . She
breathed more freely as she thought of it. The child had told her that
she had asked him. But she had forgotten to give him her address; and
it would not do to be mixed up with a person like that--free to come
and go as he liked. He was no doubt a worthy man. But Betty was only a
child, and too easily enamoured of people she liked. It was strange
how deep an impression the man's words had made on her. Athens and
Greece filled her waking moments. Statues and temples--photographs and
books of travel loaded the school-room shelves. The house reeked with
Greek learning. Poor Miss Stone found herself drifting into
archaeology; and an exhaustive study of Greek literature, Greek life,
Greek art filled her days. The theory of Betty Harris's education had
been elaborately worked out by specialists from earliest babyhood.
Certain studies, rigidly prescribed, were to be followed whether she
liked them or not--but outside these lines, subjects were to be taken
up when she showed an interest in them. There could be no question
that the time for the study of Greek history and Greek civilisation
had come. Miss Stone laboured early and late. Instruction from the
university down the lake was pressed into service. . . . But out of it
all the child seemed, by some kind of precious alchemy, to extract
only the best, the vital heart of it.
The instructor in Greek marvelled a little. "She is only a child," he
reported to the head of the department, "and the family are American
of the newest type--you know, the Philip Harrises?"
The professor nodded. "I know--hide and hoof a generation back."
The instructor assented. "But the child is uncanny. She knows more
about Greek than--"
"Than /I/ do, I suppose." The professor smiled indulgently. "She
wouldn't have to know much for that."
"It isn't so much what she /knows/. She has a kind of /feeling/ for
things. I took up a lot of photographs to-day--some of the /later/
period mixed in--and she picked them out as if she had been brought up
The professor looked interested. "Modern educational methods?"
"As much as you like," said the instructor. "But it is something more.
When I am with the child I am in Athens itself. Chicago makes me blink
when I come out."
The professor laughed. The next day he made an appointment to go
himself to see the child. He was a famous epigraphist and an authority
in his subject. He had spent years in Greece--with his nose, for the
most part, held close to bits of parchment and stone.
When he came away, he was laughing softly. "I am going over for a
year," he said, when he met the instructor that afternoon in the
"Did you see the little Harris girl?" asked the instructor.
The professor paused. "Yes, I saw her."
"How did she strike you?"
"She struck me dumb," said the professor. "I listened for the best
part of an hour while she expounded things to me--asked me questions I
couldn't answer, mostly." He chuckled a little. "I felt like a fool,"
he added, frankly, "and it felt good."
The instructor smiled. "I go through it twice a week. The trouble
seems to be that she's alive, and that she thinks everything Greek is
The professor nodded. "It's never occurred to her it's dead and done
with, these thousand years and more." He gave a little sigh.
"Sometimes I've wondered myself whether it is--quite as dead as it
looks to you and me," he added. "You know that grain--wheat or
something--that Blackman took from the Egyptian mummy he brought over
"Yes, he planted it--"
"Exactly. And all summer he was tending a little patch of something
green up there in his back yard--as fresh as the eyes of Pharaoh's
daughter ever looked on--"
The instructor opened his eyes a little. This was a wild flight for
the head epigraphist.
"That's the way she made me feel--that little Harris girl," explained
the professor--"as if my mummy might spring up and blossom any day if
I didn't look out."
The instructor laughed out. "So you're going over with it?"
"A year--two years, maybe," said the professor. "I want to watch it
ACHILLES CALLS ON BETTY HARRIS
In another week Achilles Alexandrakis had made ready to call on Betty
Harris. There had been many details to attend to--a careful sponging
and pressing of his best suit, the purchase of a new hat, and cuffs
and collars of the finest linen--nothing was too good for the little
lady who had flitted into the dusky shop and out, leaving behind her
the little line of light.
Achilles brushed the new hat softly, turning it on his supple wrist
with gentle pride. He took out the music-roll from the drawer and
unrolled it, holding it in light fingers. He would carry it back to
Betty Harris, and he would stay for a while and talk with her of his
beloved Athens. Outside the sun gleamed. The breeze came fresh from
the lake. As he made his way up the long drive of the Lake Shore, the
water dimpled in the June sun, and little waves lapped the great
stones, touching the ear with quiet sound. It was a clear, fresh day,
with the hint of coming summer in the air. To the left, stone castles
lifted themselves sombrely in the soft day. Grim or flaunting, they
faced the lake--castles from Germany, castles from France and castles
from Spain. Achilles eyed them with a little smile as his swift, thin
feet traversed the long stones. There were turrets and towers and
battlements frowning upon the peaceful, workaday lake. Minarets and
flowers in stone, and heavy marble blocks that gripped the earth.
Suddenly Achilles's foot slackened its swift pace. His eye dropped to
the silver tag on the music-roll in his hand, and lifted itself again
to a gleaming red-brown house at the left. It rose with a kind of
lightness from the earth, standing poised upon the shore of the lake,
like some alert, swift creature caught in flight, brought to bay by
the rush of waters. Achilles looked at it with gentle eyes, a swift
pleasure lighting his glance. It was a beautiful structure. Its red-
brown front and pointed, lifting roof had hardly a Greek line or hint;
but the spirit that built the Parthenon was in it--facing the rippling
lake. He moved softly across the smooth roadway and leaned against the
parapet of stone that guarded the water, studying the line and colour
of the house that faced him.
The man who planned it had loved it, and as it rose there in the light
it was perfect in every detail as it had been conceived--with one
little exception. On either side the doorway crouched massive grey-
pink lions wrought in stone, the heavy outspread paws and firm-set
haunches resting at royal ease. In the original plan these lions had
not appeared. But in their place had been two steers--wide-flanked and
short-horned, with lifted heads and nostrils snuffling free--something
crude, brusque, perhaps, but full of power and quick onslaught. The
house that rose behind them had been born of the same thought. Its
pointed gable and its facades, its lifted front, had the same look of
challenge; the light, firm-planted hoofs, the springing head, were all
there--in the soft, red stone running to brown in the flanks.
The stock-yard owner and his wife had liked the design--with no
suspicion of the symbol undergirding it. The man had liked it all--
steers and red-brown stone and all--but the wife had objected. She had
travelled far, and she had seen, on a certain building in Rome, two
lions guarding a ducal entrance.
Now that the house was finished, the architect seldom passed that way.
But when he did he swore at the lions, softly, as he whirred by. He
had done a mighty thing--conceived in steel and stone a house that
fitted the swift life out of which it came, a wind-swept place in
which it stood, and all the stirring, troublous times about it. There
it rose in its spirit of lightness, head up-lifted and nostrils
sniffing the breeze--and in front of it squatted two stone lions from
the palmy days of Rome. He gritted his teeth, and drove his machine
hard when he passed that way.
But to Achilles, standing with bared head, the breeze from the lake
touching his forehead, the lions were of no account. He let them go.
The spirit of the whole possessed him. It was as if a hand had touched
him lightly on the shoulder, in a crowd, staying him. A quick breath
escaped his lips as he replaced his hat and crossed to the red-brown
steps. He mounted them without a glance at the pink monsters on either
hand. A light had come into his face. The child filled it.
The stiff butler eyed him severely, and the great door seemed ready to
close of itself. Only something in the poise of Achilles's head, a
look in his eyes, held the hinge waiting a grudging minute while he
He lifted his head a little; the look in his eyes deepened. "I am
called--Miss Elizabeth Harris--and her mother--to see," he said,
The door paused a little and swung back an inch. He might be a great
savant . . . some scholar of parts--an artist. They came for the child
--to examine her--to play for her--to talk with her. . . . Then there
was the music-roll. It took the blundering grammar and the music-roll
to keep the door open--and then it opened wide and Achilles entered,
following the butler's stateliness up the high, dark hall. Rich
hangings were about them, and massive pictures, bronzes and statues,
and curious carvings. Inside the house the taste of the mistress had
At the door of a great, high-ceiled room the butler paused, holding
back the soft drapery with austere hand. "What name--for madame?" he
The clear eyes of Achilles met his. "My name is Achilles
Alexandrakis," he said, quietly.
The eyes of the butler fell. He was struggling with this unexpected
morsel in the recesses of his being. Plain Mr. Alexander would have
had small effect upon him; but Achilles Alexandrakis--! He mounted the
long staircase, holding the syllables in his set teeth.
"Alexandrakis?" His mistress turned a little puzzled frown upon him.
"What is he like, Conner?"
The man considered a safe moment. "He's a furriner," he said,
addressing the wall before him with impassive jaw.
A little light crossed her face--not a look of pleasure. "Ask Miss
Stone to come to me--at once," she said.
The man bowed himself out and departed on silken foot.
Miss Stone, gentle and fluttering and fine-grained, appeared a moment
later in the doorway.
"He has come," said the woman, without looking up.
"He--?" Miss Stone's lifted eyebrows sought to place him--
"The Greek--I told you--"
"Oh-- The Greek--!" It was slow and hesitant. It spoke volumes for
Miss Stone's state of mind. Hours of Greek history were in it, and
long rows of tombs and temples--the Parthenon of gods and goddesses,
with a few outlying scores of heroes and understudies. "The--Greek,"
she repeated, softly.
"The Greek," said the woman, with decision. "He has asked for Betty
and for me. I cannot see him, of course."
"You have the club," said Miss Stone, in soft assent.
"I have the club--in ten minutes." Her brow wrinkled. "You will kindly
"And Betty--?" said Miss Stone, waiting.
"The child must see him. Yes, of course. She would be heart-broken--
You drive at three," she added, without emphasis.
"We drive at three," repeated Miss Stone.
She moved quietly away, her grey gown a bit of shimmering in the
gorgeous rooms. She had been chosen for the very qualities that made
her seem so curiously out of place--for her gentleness and unassuming
dignity, and a few ancestors. The country had been searched for a lady
--so much the lady that she had never given the matter a thought. Miss
Stone was the result. If Betty had charm and simplicity and
instinctive courtesy toward those whom she met, it was only what she
saw every day in the little grey woman who directed her studies, her
play, her whole life.
The two were inseparable, light and shadow, morning and night. Betty's
mother in the house was the grand lady--beautiful to look upon--the
piece of bronze, or picture, that went with the house; but Miss Stone
was Betty's own--the little grey voice, a bit of heart-love, and
something common and precious.
They came down the long rooms together, the child's hand resting
lightly in hers, and her steps dancing a little in happy play. She had
not heard the man's name. He was only a wise man whom she was to meet
for a few minutes, before she and Miss Stone went for their drive. The
day was full of light outside--even in the heavily draped rooms you
could feel its presence. She was eager to be off, out in the sun and
air of the great sea of freshness, and the light, soft wind on her
Then she saw the slim, dark man who had risen to meet her, and a swift
light crossed her face. . . . She was coming down the room now, both
hands out-stretched, fluttering a little in the quick surprise and
joy. Then the hands stayed themselves, and she advanced demurely to
meet him; but the hand that lifted itself to his seemed to sing like a
child's hand--in spite of the princess.
"I am glad you have come," she said. "This is Miss Stone." She seated
herself beside him, her eyes on his face, her little feet crossed at
the ankle. "Have you any new fruit to-day?" she asked, politely.
He smiled a little, and drew a soft, flat, white bit of tissue from
his pocket, undoing it fold on fold--till in the centre lay a grey-
The child bent above it with pleased glance. Her eyes travelled to his
He nodded quickly. "I thought of you. It is the Eastern citron. See--"
He lifted the leaf and held it suspended. "It hangs like this--and the
fruit is blue--grey-blue like--" His eye travelled about the elaborate
room. He shook his head slowly. Then his glance fell on the grey gown
of Miss Stone as it fell along the rug at her feet, and he bowed with
gracious appeal for permission. "Like the dress of madame," he said--
"but warmer, like the sun--and blue."
A low colour crept up into the soft line of Miss Stone's cheek and
rested there. She sat watching the two with slightly puzzled eyes. She
was a lady--kindly and gracious to the world--but she could not have
thought of anything to say to this fruit-peddler who had seemed, for
days and weeks, to be tumbling all Greek civilisation about her head.
The child was chatting with him as if she had known him always. They
had turned to each other again, and were absorbed in the silken leaf--
the man talking in soft, broken words, the child piecing out the half-
finished phrase with quick nod and gesture, her little voice running
in and out along the words like ripples of light on some dark surface.
The face of Achilles had grown strangely radiant. Miss Stone, as she
looked at it again, was almost startled at the change. The sombre look
had vanished. Quick lights ran in it, and little thoughts that met the
child's and laughed. "They are two children together," thought Miss
Stone, as she watched them. "I have never seen the child so happy. She
must see him again." She sat with her hands folded in her grey lap, a
little apart, watching the pretty scene and happy in it, but outside
it all, untouched and grey and still.
TO MEET THE "HALCYON CLUB"
Outside the door the horses pranced, champing a little at the bit, and
turning their shining, arching necks in the sun. Other carriages drove
up and drove away. Rich toilets alighted and mounted the red-brown
steps--hats that rose, tier on tier, riotous parterres of flowers and
feathers and fruit, close little bonnets that proclaimed their
elegance by velvet knot or subtle curve of brim and crown. Colours
flashed, ribbon-ends fluttered, delicately shod feet scorned the
pavement. It was the Halcyon Club of the North Side, assembling to
listen to Professor Addison Trent, the great epigraphist, who was to
discourse to them on the inscriptions of Cnossus, the buried town of
Crete. The feathers and flowers and boas were only surface deep.
Beneath them beat an intense desire to know about epigraphy--all about
it. The laughing faces and daintily shod feet were set firmly in the
way of culture. They swept through the wide doors, up the long carved
staircase--from the Caracci Palace in Florence--into the wide library,
with its arched ceiling and high-shelved books and glimpses of busts
and pedestals. They fluttered in soft gloom, and sank into rows of
adjustable chairs and faced sternly a little platform at the end of
the room. The air of culture descended gratefully about them; they
buzzed a little in its dim warmth and settled back to await the
arrival of the great epigraphist.
The great epigraphist was, at this moment, three hundred and sixty-
three and one-half miles--to be precise--out from New York. He was
sitting in a steamer-chair, his feet stretched comfortably before him,
a steamer-rug wrapped about his ample form, a grey cap pulled over his
eyes--dozing in the sun. Suddenly he sat erect. The rug fell from his
person, the visor shot up from his eyes. He turned them blankly toward
the shoreless West. This was the moment at which he had instructed his
subconscious self to remind him of an engagement to lecture on Cretan
inscriptions at the home of Mrs. Philip Harris on the Lake Shore
Drive, Chicago, Illinois. He looked again at the shoreless West and
tried to grasp it. It may have been his subconscious self that
reminded him--it may have been the telepathic waves that travelled
toward him out of the half-gloom of the library. They were fifty
strong, and they travelled with great intensity--"Had any one seen
him--?" "Where was he?" "What was wrong?" "Late!" "/Very/ late!" "Such
a punctual man!" The waves fluttered and spread and grew. The
president of the club looked at the hostess. The hostess looked at the
president. They consulted and drew apart. The president rose to speak,
clearing her throat for a pained look. Then she waited. . . . The
hostess was approaching again, a fine resolution in her face. They
conferred, looking doubtfully at the door. The president nodded
courageously and seated herself again on the platform, while Mrs.
Philip Harris passed slowly from the room, the eyes of the assembled
company following her with a little look of curiosity and dawning
AND GIVE A SIMPLE LECTURE
In the doorway below she paused a moment, a little startled at the
scene. The bowed heads, the bit of folded tissue, the laughing, eager
tones, the look in Miss Stone's face held her. She swept aside the
drapery and entered--the stately lady of the house.
The bowed heads were lifted. The child sprang to her feet. "Mother-
dear! It is my friend! He has come!" The words sang.
Mrs. Philip Harris held out a gracious hand. She had not intended to
offer her hand. She had intended to be distant and kind. But when the
man looked up she somehow forgot. She held out the hand with a quick
The Greek was on his feet, bending above it. "It is an honour, madame
--that you come."
"I have come to ask a favour," she replied, slowly, her eyes
travelling over the well-brushed clothes, the clean linen, the slender
feet of the man. Favour was not what she had meant to say--privilege
was nearer it. But there was something about him. Her voice grew suave
to match the words.
"My daughter has told me of you--" Her hand rested lightly on the
child's curls--a safe, unrumpled touch. "Her visit to you has
enchanted her. She speaks of it every day, of the Parthenon and what
you told her."
The eyes of the man and the child met gravely.
"I wondered whether you would be willing to tell some friends of mine
He had turned to her--a swift look.
She replied with a smile. "Nothing formal--just simple things, such as
you told the child. We should be very grateful to you," she added, as
if she were a little surprised at herself.
He looked at her with clear eyes. "I speak--yes--I like always--to
speak of my country. I thank you."
The child, standing by with eager feet, moved lightly. Her hands
danced in softest pats. "You will tell them about it--just as you told
me--and they will love it!"
"I tell them--yes!"
"Come, Miss Stone." The child held out her hand with a little gesture
of pride and loving. "We must go now. Good-bye, Mr. Achilles. You will
come again, please."
"I come," said Achilles, simply. He watched the quaint figure pass
down the long rooms beside the shimmering grey dress, through an
arched doorway at the end, and out of sight. Then he turned to his
hostess with the quick smile of his race. "She is beautiful, madame,"
he said, slowly. "She is a child!"
The mother assented, absently. She was not thinking of the child, but
of the fifty members of the Halcyon Club in the library. "Will you
come?" she said. "My friends are waiting."
He spread his hands in quick assent. "I come--as you like. I give
She smiled a little. "Yes, you give pleasure." She was somehow at ease
about the man. He was poor--illiterate, perhaps, but not uncouth. She
glanced at him with a little look of approval as they went up the
staircase. It came to her suddenly that he harmonised with it, and
with all the beautiful things about them. The figure of Professor
Trent flashed upon her--short and fat and puffing, and yearning toward
the top of the stair. But this man. There was the grand air about him
--and yet so simple.
It was almost with a sense of eclat that she ushered him into the
library. The air stirred subtly, with a little hush. The president was
on her feet, introducing Mr. Achilles Alexandrakis, who, in the
unavoidable absence of Professor Trent, had kindly consented to speak
to them on the traditions and customs of modern Greek life.
Achilles's eyes fell gently on the lifted faces. "I like to tell you
about my home," he said, simply. "I tell you all I can."
The look of strain in the faces relaxed. It was going to be an easy
lecture--one that you could know something about. They settled to soft
attention and approval.
Achilles waited a minute--looking at them with deep eyes. And suddenly
they saw that the eyes were not looking at them, but at something far
away--something beautiful and loved.
It is safe to say that the members of the Halcyon Club had never
listened to anything quite like the account that Achilles Alexandrakis
gave them that day, in the gloomy room of the red-fronted house
overlooking the lake, of the land of his birth. They scarcely listened
to the actual words at first, but they listened to him all lighted up
from far away. There was something about him as he spoke--a sweeping
rhythm that flew as a bird, reaching over great spaces, and a simple
joy that lilted a little and sang.
He drew for them the Parthenon--the glory of Athens--in column and
statue and mighty temple and crumbling tomb. . . . A sense of beauty
and wonder and still, clear light passed before them.
Then he paused . . . his voice laughed a little, and he spoke of his
people. . . . Nobody could have quite told what he said to them about
his people. But flutes sang. The sound of feet was on the grass--
touching it in tune--swift-flitting feet that paused and held a
rhythmic measure while it swung. Quick-beating feet across the green.
Shadowy forms. The sway of gowns, light-falling, and the call of
voices low and sweet. Greek youth and maid in swiftest play. They
flung the branches wide and trembled in the voiceless light that
played upon the grass. The foot of Achilles half-beat the time. The
tones filled themselves and lifted, slowly, surely. The voice
quickened--it ran with faster notes, as one who tells some eager tale.
Then it swung in cradling-song the twilight of Athens--and the little
birds sang low, twittering underneath the leaves--in softest garb--at
last--rose leaves falling--the dusky bats around her roof-tops, and
the high-soaring sky that arches all--mysterious and deep. Then the
voice sank low, and rang and held the note--stern, splendid--Athens of
might. City of Power! Glory, in changing word, and in the lift of eye.
Athens on her hills, like great Jove enthroned--the shout, the
triumph, the clash of steel, and the feet of Alaric in the streets.
The voice of the Greek grew hoarse now, tiny cords swelled on his
forehead. Athens, city of war. Desolation, fire, and trampling--! His
eye was drawn in light. Vandal hand and iron foot! . . .
Who shall say how much of it he told--how much of it he spoke, and how
much was only hinted or called up--in his voice and his gesture and
his eye. They had not known that Athens was like this! They spoke in
lowered voices, moving apart a little, and making place for the silver
trays that began to pass among them. They glanced now and then at the
dark man nibbling his biscuit absently and looking with unfathomable
eyes into a teacup.
A large woman approached him, her ample bust covered with little beads
that rose and fell and twinkled as she talked. "I liked your talk, Mr.
Alexis, and I am going over just as soon as my husband can get away
from his business." She looked at him with approval, waiting for his.
He bowed with deep, grave gesture. "My country is honoured, madame."
Other listeners were crowding upon them now, commending the fire-
tipped words, felicitating the man with pretty gesture and soft
speech, patronising him for the Parthenon and his country and her art.
. . . The mistress of the house, moving in and out among them, watched
the play with a little look of annoyance. . . . He would be spoiled--a
man of that class. She glanced down at the slip of paper in her hand.
It bore the name, "Achilles Alexandrakis," and below it a generous sum
to his order. She made her way toward him, and waited while he
disengaged himself from the little throng about him and came to her, a
look of pleasure and service in his face.
"You speak to me, madame?"
"I wanted to give you this." She slipped the check into the thin
fingers. "You can look at it later--"
But already the fingers had raised it with a little look of pleased
surprise. . . . Then the face darkened, and he laid the paper on the
polished table between them. There was a quick movement of the slim
fingers that pushed it toward her.
"I cannot take it, madame--to speak of my country. I speak for the
child--and for you." He bowed low. "I give please to do it."
The next moment he had saluted her with gentle grace and was gone from
the room--from the house--between the stone lions and down the Lake
Shore Drive, his free legs swinging in long strides, his head held
high to the wind on the opal lake.
A carriage passed him, and he looked up. Two figures, erect in the
sun, the breath of a child's smile, a bit of shimmer and grey, the
flash and beat of quick hoofs--and they were gone. But the heart of
Achilles sang in his breast, and the day about him was full of light.
BETTY LEAVES HER GODS
Little Betty Harris sat in the big window, bending over her gods and
goddesses and temples and ruins. It was months since, under the
inspiration of the mysterious, fruit-dealing Greek, she had begun her
study of Greek art; and the photographs gathered from every source--
were piled high in the window--prints and tiny replicas and casts, and
pictures of every kind and size--they overflowed into the great room
beyond. She was busy now, pasting the photographs into a big book.
To-morrow the family started for the country, and only as many gods
could go as could be pasted in the book. Miss Stone had decreed it and
what Miss Stone said must be done. . . . Betty Harris looked anxiously
at Poseidon, and laid him down, in favour of Zeus. She took him up in
her fingers again, with a little flourish of the paste-tube, and made
him fast. Poseidon must go, too. The paste-tub wavered uncertainly
over the maze of gods and found another and stuck it in place, and
lifted itself in admiring delight.
There was a little rustle, and the child looked up. Miss Stone stood
in the doorway, smiling at her.
"I'm making my book for the gods," said the child, her flushed face
lighting. "It's a kind of home for them." She slipped down from her
chair and came across, holding the book outstretched before her. "You
see I've put Poseidon in. He never had a home--except just the sea, of
course--a kind of wet home." She gave the god a little pat, regarding
Miss Stone bent above the book, with the smile of understanding that
always lay between them. When Betty Harris thought about God, he
seemed always, somehow, like Miss Stone's smile--but bigger--because
he filled the whole earth. She lifted her hand and stroked the cheek
bending above her book. "I'm making a place for them all," she said.
"It's a kind of story--" She drew a sigh of quick delight.
Miss Stone closed the book decisively, touching the flushed face with
her fingers. "Put it away, child--and the pictures. We're going to
"Yes--Nono." It was her own pet name for Miss Stone, and she gave a
little quick nod, closing the book with happy eyes. But she waited a
moment, lugging the book to her and looking at the scattered gods in
the great window, before she walked demurely across and began
gathering them up--a little puzzled frown between her eyes. "I suppose
I couldn't leave them scattered around?" she suggested politely.
Miss Stone smiled a little head-shake, and the child bent again to her
work. "I don't like to pick up," she said softly. "It's more
interesting not to pick up--ever." She lifted her face from a print of
Apollo and looked at Miss Stone intently. "There might be gods that
could pick up--pick themselves up, perhaps--?" It was a polite
suggestion--but there was a look in the dark face--the look of the
meat-packer's daughter--something that darted ahead and compelled gods
to pick themselves up. She bent again, the little sigh checking itself
on her lip. Miss Stone did not like to have little girls object--and
it was not polite, and besides you /had/ to take care of things--your
own things. The servants took care of the house for you, and brought
you things to eat, and made beds for you, and fed the horses and
ironed clothes . . . but your own things--the gods and temples and
scrapbooks and paste that you left lying about--you had to put away
yourself! Her fingers found the paste-tube and screwed it firmly in
place--with a little twist of the small mouth--and hovered above the
prints with quick touch. The servants did things--other things.
Constance mended your clothes and dressed you, and Marie served you at
table, and sometimes she brought a nice little lunch if you were
hungry--and you and Miss Stone had it together on the school table--
but no one ever--ever--/ever/--picked up your playthings for you. She
thrust the last god into his box and closed the lid firmly. Then she
looked up. She was alone in the big room . . . in the next room she
could hear Miss Stone moving softly, getting ready for the drive. She
slipped from her seat and stood in the window, looking out--far ahead
the lake stretched--dancing with green waves and little white edges--
and down below, the horses curved their great necks that glistened in
the sun--and the harness caught gleams of light. The child's eyes
dwelt on them happily. They were her very own, Pollux and Castor--and
she was going driving--driving in the sun. She hummed a little tune,
standing looking down at them.
Behind her stretched the great room--high-ceiled and wide, and
furnished for a princess--a child princess. Its canopied bed and royal
draperies had come across the seas from a royal house--the children of
kings had slept in it before Betty Harris. The high walls were covered
with priceless decoration--yet like a child in every line. It was
Betty's own place in the great house--and the little room adjoining,
where Miss Stone slept, was a part of it, clear and fine in its lines
and in the bare quiet of the walls. Betty liked to slip away into Miss
Stone's room--and stand very still, looking about her, hardly
breathing. It was like a church--only clearer and sweeter and freer--
perhaps it was the woods--with the wind whispering up there. She
always held her breath to listen in Miss Stone's room; and when she
came back, to her own, child's room--with its canopied bed and royal
draperies and colour and charm, she held the stillness and whiteness
of Miss Stone's room in her heart--it was like a bird nestling there.
Betty had never held a bird, but she often lifted her hands to them as
they flew--and once, in a dream, one had fluttered into the lifted
hands and she had held it close and felt the wind blow softly. It was
like Miss Stone's room. But Miss Stone was not like that. You could
hug Nono and tell her secrets and what you wanted for luncheon.
Sometimes she would let you have it--if you were good--/very/ good--
and Nono knew everything. She knew so much that Betty Harris, looking
from her window, sighed softly. No one could know as much as Nono
"All ready, Betty." It was Miss Stone in the doorway again. And with a
last look down out of the window at the horses and the shimmering
lake, the child came across the room, skipping a little. "I should
like to wear my hat with the cherries, please," she said. "I like to
feel them bob in the sun when it shines--they bob so nicely--" She
paused with a quick look--"They /do/ bob, don't they, Nono?"
"I don't think I ever noticed," said Miss Stone. She was still smiling
as she touched the tumbled hair, putting it in place.
"But they /must/ bob," said Betty. "I think I should have noticed your
cherries bobbing, Miss Stone." She was looking intently at the quiet
cheek close beside her own, with its little flush of pink, and the
greyness of the hair that lay beside it. "I notice all your things,
Nono," she said softly.
Miss Stone smiled again and drew her to her. "I will look to-day,
Betty, when we drive--"
The child nodded--"Yes, they will bob then. I can see them--even with
my eyes not shut, I can see them bob-- Please, Constance--" She turned
to the stiff maid who had come in--"I want my grey coat and red-cherry
hat. We're going to drive--in the sun."
The maid brought the garments and put them on with careful touch,
tying the strings under the lifted chin.
The child nodded to her gaily. "Good-bye, Constance--we're going for a
drive--a long drive--we shall go and go and go-- Come, Miss Stone."
She took the quiet hand, and danced a little, and held it close to her
--down the long staircase and through the wide hall--and out to the
sunshine and the street.
James, from his box, looked up, and the reins tightened in the big
hands. The horses pranced and clicked their hoofs and stood still; and
James, leaning a respectful ear, touched his hat-brim, and they were
off, the harnesses glinting and the little red cherries bobbing in the
FOR A LONG DRIVE
Betty Harris sat very still--her hands in her lap, her face lifted to
the breeze that touched it swiftly and fingered her hair and swept
past. Presently she looked up with a nod--as if the breeze reminded
her. "I should like to see Mr. Achilles," she said.
"Not to-day," answered Miss Stone, "we must do the errands for mother
to-day, you know."
The child's face fell. "I wanted to see Mr. Achilles," she said
simply. She sat very quiet, her eyes on the lake. When she looked up,
the eyes had brimmed over.
"I didn't mean to," said the child. She was searching for her
handkerchief and the little cherries bobbed forward. "I didn't know
they would spill!" She had found the handkerchief now and was wiping
them away, and she smiled at Miss Stone--a brave smile--that was going
to be happy--
Miss Stone smiled back, with a little head-shake. "Foolish, Betty!"
"I didn't expect them," said the child, "I was just thinking about Mr.
Achilles and they came--just came!-- They just came!" she repeated
sternly. She gave a final dab to the handkerchief and stowed it away,
sitting very erect and still.
Miss Stone's eyes studied her face. "We cannot go to-day," she said,
"--and to-morrow we start for the country. Perhaps--" she paused,
thinking it out.
But the child's eyes took it up--and danced. "He can make us a visit,"
she said, nodding--"a visit of three weeks!" She smiled happily.
Miss Stone smiled back, shaking her head. "He could not leave the
But the child ignored it. "He will come," she said quickly, "and we
shall talk--and talk--about the gods, you know--" She lifted her eyes,
"and we shall go in the fields-- He will come!" She drew a deep sigh
of satisfaction and lifted her head.
And Miss Stone, watching her, had a feeling of quick relief. She had
known for a day or two that the child was not well, and they had
hurried to get away to the fields. This was their last drive.
To-morrow the horses would be sent on; and the next day they would all
go--in the great touring car that would eat up the miles, and pass the
horses, and reach Idlewood long before them.
No one except Betty and Miss Stone used the horses now. They would
have been sold long ago had it not been for the child. The carriage
was a part of her--and the clicking hoofs and soft-shining skins and
arching necks. The sound of the hoofs on the pavement played little
tunes for Betty. Her mother had protested against expense, and her
father had grumbled a little; but if the child wanted a carriage
rather than the great car that could whir her away in a breath, it
must be kept.
It made a pretty picture this morning as it turned into the busier
street and took its way among the dark, snorting cars that pushed and
sped. It was like a delicate dream that shimmered and touched the
pavement--or like a breath of the past . . . and the great cars
skimmed around it and pushed on with quick honk and left it far
But the carriage kept its way with unhurried rhythm--into the busy
street and out again into a long avenue where great houses of cement
and grey stone stood guard.
No one was in sight, up and down its clear length--only the morning
sun shining on the grey stones and on the pavement--and the little
jingling in the harness and the joyous child and the quiet grey woman
"I shall not be gone a minute, Betty," said Miss Stone. The carriage
had drawn up before the great shadow of a house. She gave the child's
hand a little pat and stepped from the carriage.
But at the door there was a minute's question and, with a nod to
Betty, she stepped inside.
When the door opened again, and she came out with quick step she
glanced at her watch--the errand had taken more than its minute, and
there were others to be done, and they were late. She lifted her eyes
to the carriage--and stopped.
The coachman, from the corner of his eye, waited for orders. But Miss
Stone did not stir. Her glance swept the quiet street and came back to
the carriage--standing with empty cushions in the shadow of the house.
The coachman turned a stolid eye and caught a glimpse of her face and
wheeled quickly--his eye searching space. "There wa'n't nobody!" he
said. He almost shouted it, and his big hands gripped hard on the
reins. . . . His face was grey--"There wa'n't nobody here!" he
But Miss Stone did not look at him. "Drive to the Greek's. You know--
where she went before." She would not give herself time to think--
sitting a little forward on the seat--of course the child had gone to
the Greek--to Mr. Achilles. . . . They should find her in a minute.
There was nothing else to think about--no shadowy fear that had leaped
to meet the look in James's face when it turned to her. The child
would be there--
The carriage drew up before the shop, with its glowing lines of fruit
under the striped awning, and Miss Stone had descended before the
wheel scraped the curb, her glance searching the door and the dim room
beyond. She halted on the threshold, peering in.
A man came from the rear of the room, his hands outstretched to serve
her. The dark, clear face, with its Greek lines, and the eyes that
looked out at her held a welcome. "You do me honour," he said. "I hope
Madame is well--and the little Lady--?" Then he stopped. Something in
Miss Stone's face held him--and his hand groped a little, reaching
toward her--"You--tell me--" he said.
But she did not speak, and the look in her face grew very still.
He turned sharply--calling into the shop behind him, and a boy came
running, his eyes flashing a quick laugh, his teeth glinting.
"I go," said the man, with quick gesture--"You keep shop--I go." He
had taken off his white apron and seized a hat. He touched the woman
on the shoulder. "Come," he said.
She looked at him with dazed glance and put her hand to her head. "I
cannot think," she said slowly.
He nodded with steady glance. "When we go, you tell--we find her," he
She started then and looked at him--and the clear colour came to her
face. "You know--where--she is!"
But he shook his head. "We find her," he repeated. "You tell."
And as they threaded the streets--into drays and past clanging cars
and through the tangle of wheels and horses and noise--and she told
him the story, shouting it above the rumble and hurry of the streets,
into the dark ear that bent beside her.
The look in Achilles's face deepened, but its steady quiet did not
change. "We find her," he repeated each time, and Miss Stone's heart
caught the rhythm of it, under the hateful noise. "We find her."
Then the great house on the lake faced them.
She looked at him a minute in doubt. Her face broke--"She may have
come--home?" she said.
"I go with you," said Achilles.
There was no sign of life, but the door swung open before them and
they went into the great hall--up the long stairway that echoed only
vacant softness, and into the library with its ranging rows of perfect
books. She motioned him before her. "/I/ must tell them," she said.
She passed through the draperies of another door and the silence of
the great house settled itself about the man and waited with him.
TWO MEN FACE EACH OTHER
He looked about the room with quiet face. It was the room he had been
in before--the day he spoke to the Halcyon Club--the ladies had costly
gowns and strange hats, who had listened so politely while he told
them of Athens and his beloved land. The room had been lighted then,
with coloured lamps and globes--a kind of rosy radiance. Now the
daylight came in through the high windows and filtered down upon him
over brown books and soft, leather-covered walls. There was no sound
in the big room. It seemed shut off from the world and Achilles sat
very quiet, his dark face a little bent, his gaze fixed on the rug at
his feet. He was thinking of the child--and of her face when she had
lifted it to him out of the crowded street, that first day, and smiled
at him . . . and of their long talks since. It was the Child who
understood. The strange ladies had smiled at him and talked to him and
drank their tea and talked again . . . he could hear the soft, keen
humming of their voices and the flitter of garments all about him as
they moved. But the child had sat very still--only her face lifted,
while he told her of Athens and its beauty . . . and he had told her
again--and again. She would never tire of it--as he could never tire.
She was a child of light in the great new world . . . a child like
himself--in the hurry of the noise. A sound came to him in the distant
house--people talking--low voices that spoke and hurried on. The house
was awake--quick questions ran through it--doors sounded and were
still. Achilles turned his face toward the opening into the long wide
hall, and waited. Through the vista there was a glimpse of the
stairway and a figure passing up it--a short, square man who hurried.
Then silence again--more bells and running feet. But no one came to
the library--and no one sought the dark figure seated there, waiting.
Strange foreign faces flashed themselves in the great mirror and out.
The outer door opened and closed noiselessly to admit them--uncouth
figures that passed swiftly up the stairway, glancing curiously about
them--and dapper men who did not look up as they went. The house
settled again to quiet, and the long afternoon, while Achilles waited.
The light from the high windows grew dusky under chairs and tables; it
withdrew softly along the gleaming books and hovered in the air above
them--a kind of halo--and the shadows crept up and closed about him.
Through the open door, a light appeared in the hall. A moving figure
advanced to the library, and paused in the doorway, and came in. There
was a minute's fumbling at the electric button, and the soft lights
came, by magic, everywhere in the room. The servant gave a quick
glance about him, and started sternly--and came forward. Then he
recognised the man. It was the Greek. But he looked at him sternly.
The day had been full of suspicion and question--and the house was
alive to it--"What do you want?" he said harshly.
"I wait," said Achilles.
"Who told you to come?" demanded the man.
"I come. I wait," said Achilles.
The man disappeared. Presently he returned. "You come with me," he
said. His look was less stern, but he raised his voice a little, as if
speaking to a child, or a deaf man. "You come with me," he repeated.
Achilles followed with quick-gliding foot--along the corridor, through
a great room--to a door. The man paused and lifted his hand and
knocked. His back was tense, as if he held himself ready to spring.
A voice sounded and he turned the handle softly, and looked at
Achilles. Then the door opened and the Greek passed in and the man
closed the door behind him.
A man seated at a table across the room looked up. For a minute the
two men looked at each other--the one short and square and red; the
other thin as a reed, with dark, clear eyes.
The short man spoke first. "What do you know about this?" His hand
pressed a heap of papers upon the desk before him and his eyes
searched the dark face.
Achilles's glance rested on the papers--then it lifted itself.
"Your name is Achilles?" said the other sharply.
"Achilles Alexandrakis--yes." The Greek bowed.
"I know--she called you Mr. Achilles," said the man.
A shadow rested on the two faces, looking at each other.
"She is lost," said the father. He said it under his breath, as if
"I find her," said Achilles quietly.
The man leaned forward--something like a sneer on his face. "She is
stolen, I tell you--and the rascals have got at their work quick!" He
struck the pile of papers on the desk. "They will give her up for ten
thousand dollars--to-night." He glanced at the clock on the wall,
ticking its minutes, hurrying to six o'clock.
The dark eyes had followed the glance; they came back to the man's
face--"You pay that--ten thousand dollar?" said Achilles.
"I shall be damned first!" said the man with slow emphasis. "But we
shall find them--" His square, red jaw held the words, "and /they/
shall pay-- God! They shall pay!" The room rang to the word. It was a
small bare room--only a table and two chairs, the clock on the wall
and a desk across the room. "Sit down," said Philip Harris. He
motioned to the chair before him.
But Achilles did not take it, he rested a hand on the back, looking
down at him. "I glad--you not pay," he said.
The other lifted his eyebrows. "I shall pay the man that finds her--
the man that brings her back! You understand that?" His bright, little
glance had keen scorn.
But the face opposite him did not change. "I find her," said Achilles
"Then you get the ten thousand," said the man. He shifted a little in
his chair. They were all alike--these foreigners--money was what they
wanted--and plenty of it. The sneer on his face deepened abruptly.
Achilles's glance was on the clock. "It makes bad--to pay that money,"
he said. "When you pay--more child stole--to-morrow, more child stole
--more money--" His dark hand lifted itself out over the houses of the
great city--and all the sleepy children making ready for bed.
The other nodded. His round, soft paunch pressed against the table and
his quick eyes were on Achilles's face. His great finger leaped out
and shook itself and lay on the table. "I--will--not--give--one cent!"
he said hoarsely.
"You be good man," said Achilles solemnly.
"I will not be bullied by them--and I will not be a fool!" He lifted
his eyes to the clock--and a look passed in his face--a little
whirring chime and the clock was still.
In the silence, the telephone rang sharply. His hand leaped out--and
waited--and his eye sought Achilles--and gathered itself, and he
lifted the dark, burring Thing to his ear.
THE TELEPHONE SPEAKS
Slowly the look on his face grew to something hard and round and
bright. His lips tightened--"is that all?--Good-bye!" His voice
sounded in the tube and was gone, and he hung up the receiver. "They
make it twenty thousand--for one hour," he said drily.
Achilles bent forward, his face on fire, his finger pointing to the
"They are right there!" said the man. He gave a short laugh--"Can't
trace them that way--we have tried-- They've tapped a wire. Central is
after them. But they won't get 'em that way. Sit down and I will talk
to you." He motioned again to the chair and the Greek seated himself,
bending forward a little to catch the murmur and half-incoherent jerks
that the man spoke.
Now and then the Greek nodded, or his dark face lighted; and once or
twice he spoke. But for the most part it was a rapid monologue, told
in breathless words.
The great Philip Harris had no hope that the ignorant man sitting
before him could help him. But there was a curious relief in talking
to him; and as he talked, he found the story shaping itself in his
mind--things related fell into place, and things apart came suddenly
together. The story ran back for years--there had been earlier
attempts, but the child had been guarded with strictest care; and
lately they had come to feel secure. They had thought the band was
broken up. The blow had fallen out of a clear sky. They had not the
slightest clue--all day the detectives had gathered the great city in
their hands--and sifted it through careful fingers. A dozen men had
been arrested, but there was no clue. The New York men were on the
way; they would arrive in the morning, and meantime the great man sat
in his bare room, helpless. He looked into the dark eyes opposite him
and found a curious comfort there. "The child knew you," he said.
"Yes--she know me. We love," said Achilles simply.
The other smiled a little. It would not have occurred to /him/ to say
that Betty loved him. He was not sure that she did--as he thought of
it. She had always the quick smile for him--and for everyone. But
there had been no time for foolishness between him and Betty. He had
hardly known her for the last year or two. He shifted a little in his
place, shading his eyes from the light, and looked at the Greek.
The Greek rose, and stood before him. "I go now," he said.
Philip Harris made no reply. He was thinking, behind his hand; and his
mind, wrenched from its stockyards and its corners and deals, seemed
to be groping toward a point of light that glimmered somewhere--
mistily. He could not focus it. The darkness tricked him, but somehow,
vaguely, the Greek held a clue. He had known the child. "Don't go,"
said Philip Harris, looking up at last.
"I find her," said Achilles.
Philip Harris shook his head. "You cannot find her." He said it
bitterly. "But you can tell me--sit down." He leaned forward. "Now,
tell me--everything--you know--about her."
The face of Achilles lighted. "She was a nice child," he said
The man smiled. "Yes--go on."
So the voice of Achilles was loosened and he told of Betty Harris--to
her father sitting absorbed and silent. The delight of her walk, her
little hands, the very tones of her voice were in his words.
And the big man listened with intent face. Once the telephone rang and
he stopped to take down something. "No clue," he said, "go on." And
Achilles's voice took up the story again.
His hands reached out in the words, quick gestures made a halo about
them, lips and smiles spoke, and ran the words to a laugh that made
the child's presence in the room.
The father listened dumbly. Then silence fell in the room and the
And while the two men sat in silence, something came between them and
knit them. And when Achilles rose to go, the great man held out his
hand, simply. "You have helped me," he said.
"I help--yes--" said Achilles. Then he turned his head. A door across
the room had opened and a woman stood in it--looking at them.
EVERYONE MUST PAY
Achilles saw her, and moved forward swiftly. But she ignored him--her
eyes were on the short, square man seated at the table, and she came
to him, bending close. "You must pay, Phil," she said. The words held
themselves in her reddened eyes, and her fingers picked a little at
the lace on her dress . . . then they trembled and reached out to him.
"You /must/ pay!" she said hoarsely.
But the man did not stir.
The woman lifted her eyes and looked at Achilles. There was no
recognition in the glance--only a kind of impatience that he was
there. The Greek moved toward the door--but the great man stayed him.
"Don't go," he said. He reached up a hand to his wife, laying it on
her shoulder. "We can't pay, dearest," he said slowly.
Her open lips regarded him and the quick tears were in her eyes. She
brushed them back, and looked at him-- "Let /me/ pay!" she said
fiercely, "I will give up--everything--and pay!" She had crouched to
him, her groping fingers on his arm.
Above her head the glances of the two men met.
Her husband bent to her, speaking very slowly . . . to a child.
"Listen, Louie--they might give her back to-day--if we paid . . . but
they would take her again--to-morrow--next week--next year. We shall
never be safe if we pay. Nobody will be safe--"
Her face was on his arm, sobbing close. "I hate--it!" she said
brokenly, "I /hate/--your--money! I want Betty!" The cry went through
the room--and the man was on his feet, looking down at her--
"Don't, Louie," he said--"don't, dear--I can't bear that! See, dear--
sit down!" He had placed her in the chair and was crooning to her,
bending to her. "We shall have her back--soon--now."
The telephone was whirring and he sprang to it.
The woman lifted her face, staring at it.
The Greek's deep eyes fixed themselves on it.
The room was so still they could hear the tiny, ironic words flinging
themselves spitefully in the room, and biting upon the air. "Time's
up," the Thing tittered--"Make it fifty thousand now--for a day. Fifty
thousand down and the child delivered safe--Br-r-r-r!"
The woman sprang forward. "Tell them we'll pay, Phil--give it to me--
Yes--yes--we'll pay!" She struggled a little--but the hand had thrust
her back and the receiver was on its hook.
"We shall /not/ pay!" said the man sternly, "not if they make it a
"I think they make it a million," said Achilles quietly.
They looked up at him with startled eyes.
"They know you--rich--" His hands flung themselves. "So rich! They
/make/ you pay--yes--they make everyone pay, I think!" His dark eyes
were on the woman significantly--
"What do you mean?" she said swiftly.
"If you pay--they steal them everywhere--little children." His eyes
seemed to see them at play in the sunshine--and the dark shadows
stealing upon them. The woman's eyes were on his face, breathless.
"They have taken Betty!" she said. It was a broken cry.
"We find her," said Achilles simply. "Then little children play--
happy." He turned to go.
But the woman stayed him. Her face trembled to hold itself steady
under his glance. "I want to save the children, too," she said. "I
will be brave!"
Her husband's startled face was turned to her and she smiled to it
bravely. "Help me, Phil!" she said. She reached out her hands to him
and he took them tenderly. He had not been so near her for years. She
was looking in his face, smiling still, across the white line of her
lip. "I shall help," she said slowly. "But you must not trust me, dear
--not too far. . . . I want my little girl--"
There were tears in the eyes of the two men--and the Greek went softly
out, closing the door. Down the wide hallway--out of the great door,
with its stately carvings and the two pink stone lions that guarded
the way--out to the clear night of stars. The breeze blew in--a little
breath from the lake, that lapped upon the breakwater and died out.
Achilles stood very still--lifting his face to it. Behind him, in the
city, little children were asleep . . . and in the great house the man
and the woman waited alone--for the help that was coming to them--
running with swift feet in the night. It sped upon iron rails and
crept beneath the ground and whispered in the air--and in the heart of
Achilles it dreamed under the quiet stars.
THE PRICE ACHILLES PAID
The little shop was closed. The fruit-trays had been carried in and
the shutters put up, and from an upper window a line of light gleamed
on the deserted street. Achilles glanced at it and turned into an
alley at the side, groping his way toward the rear. He stopped and
fumbled for a knob and rapped sharply. But a hand was already on the
door, scrambling to undo it, and an eager face confronted him,
flashing white teeth at him. "You come!" said the boy swiftly.
He turned and fled up the stairs and Achilles followed. A faint sense
of onions was in the air. Achilles sniffed it gratefully. He
remembered suddenly that he had not eaten since morning. But the boy
did not pause for him--he was beckoning with mysterious hand from a
doorway and Achilles followed. "Alcie--got hurt," whispered the boy.
He was trembling with fear and excitement, and he pointed to the bed
across the room.
Achilles stepped, with lightest tread, and looked down. A boy, half
asleep, murmured and turned his head restlessly. A red-clotted blur
ran along the forehead, and the face, streaked with mud, was drawn in
a look of pain. As Achilles bent over him, the boy cried out and threw
up a hand; then he turned his head, muttering, and dozed again.
Achilles withdrew lightly, beckoning to the boy beside him.
Yaxis followed, his eyes on the figure on the bed. "All day," he said,
"he lie sick."
Achilles closed the door softly and turned to him. "Tell me, Yaxis,
what happened," he said.
The boy's face opened dramatically. "I look up--I see Alcie--like
that--" his gesture fitted to the room-- "He stand in door--all
covered mud--blood run--cart broke--no fruit--no hat." The boy's hands
were everywhere, as he spoke, dispensing fruit, smashing carts and
filling up the broken words with horror and a flow of blood.
Achilles's face grew grave. The Greeks were not without persecution in
the land of freedom, and his boy had lain all day suffering--while he
had been lost in the great house by the lake.
He took off his coat and turned back his sleeves. "You bring water,"
he said gently. "We will see what hurts him."
But the boy had put his supper on the table and was beckoning him with
swift gesture. "You eat," he said pleadingly. And Achilles ate hastily
and gave directions for the basin of water and towels and a sponge,
and the boy carried them into the room beyond.
Half an hour later Alcibiades lay in bed, his clothes removed and the
blood washed from his face and hair. The clotted line still oozed a
little on the temple and the look of pain had not gone away. Achilles
watched him with anxious eyes. He bent over the bed and spoke to him
soothingly, his voice gentle as a woman's in its soft Greek accents;
but the look of pain in the boy's face deepened and his voice
They watched the ambulance drive away from in front of the striped
awning. Achilles held a card in his thin fingers--a card that would
admit him to his boy. Yaxis's eyes were gloomy with dread, and his
quick movements were subdued as he went about the business of the
shop, carrying the trays of fruit to the stall outside and arranging
the fruit under the striped awning. He was not to go out with the
push-cart to-day. There was too much work to do--and Achilles could
not let the boy go from him. Later, too, Achilles must go to the
hospital--and to the big house on the lake, and someone must be left
with the shop.
So he kept the boy beside him, looking at him, now and then, with
deep, quiet eyes that seemed to see the city taking its toll of life--
of children--the children at play and the children at work. This land
that he had sought with his boys--where the wind of freedom blew fresh
from the prairies and the sea . . . and even little children were not
safe! He seemed to see it--through the day--this great monster that
gathered them in--from all lands--and trod them beneath its great
feet, crushing them, while they lifted themselves to it and threw
themselves--and prayed to it for the new day--that they had come so
far to seek.
But when Achilles presented his ticket for the boy, at the hospital
door, it was a woman of his own race who met him, dark-eyed and
strong--and smiled at him a flash of sympathy. "Yes--he is doing well.
They operated at once. Come and see. But you must not speak to him."
She led him cautiously down the long corridor between the beds. "See,
he is asleep." She bent over him, touching the bandage. Beneath it,