It was when the three men who had conducted the search had finished, when the boxes of ammunition had been gathered in the hall, and the chattering sewing-girls had gone back to work, that Harmony, on her way to her dismantled room, passed through the upper passage.
She glanced down the staircase where little Georgiev had so manfully descended.
“I carry always in my heart your image. Always so long as I live.”
The clatter of soldiers on their way down to the street came to her ears; the soft cooing of the pigeons, the whirr of sewing-machines from the workroom. The incident was closed, except for the heap of ammunition boxes on the landing, guarded by an impassive soldier.
Harmony glanced at him. He was eying her steadily, thumbs in, heels in, toes out, chest out. Harmony put her hand to her heart.
“You!” she said.
The conversation of a sentry, save on a holiday is, “Yea, yea,” and “Nay, nay.”
Harmony put her hands together, a little gesture of appeal, infinitely touching.
“You will not say that you have found, have seen me?”
It was in Harmony’s mind to ask all her hungry heart craved to learn—of Peter, of Jimmy, of the Portier, of anything that belonged to the old life in the Siebensternstrasse. But there was no time. The sentry’s impassive face became rigid; he looked through her, not at her. Harmony turned.
The man in the green hat was coming up the staircase. There was no further chance to question. The sentry was set to carrying the boxes down the staircase.
Full morning now, with the winter sun shining on the beggars in the market, on the crowds in the parks, on the flower sellers in the Stephansplatz; shining on Harmony’s golden head as she bent over a bit of chiffon, on the old milkwoman carrying up the whitewashed staircase her heavy cans of milk; on the carrier pigeon winging its way to the south; beating in through bars to the exalted face of Herr Georgiev; resting on Peter’s drooping shoulders, on the neglected mice and the wooden soldier, on the closed eyes of a sick child—the worshiped sun, peering forth—the golden window of the East.
Jimmy was dying. Peter, fighting hard, was beaten at last. All through the night he had felt it; during the hours before the dawn there had been times when the small pulse wavered, flickered, almost ceased. With the daylight there had been a trifle of recovery, enough for a bit of hope, enough to make harder Peter’s acceptance of the inevitable.
The boy was very happy, quite content and comfortable. When he opened his eyes he smiled at Peter, and Peter, gray of face, smiled back. Peter died many deaths that night.
At daylight Jimmy fell into a sleep that was really stupor. Marie, creeping to the door in the faint dawn, found the boy apparently asleep and Peter on his knees beside the bed. He raised his head at her footstep and the girl was startled at the suffering in his face. He motioned her back.