“Make yourself comfortable anywhere,” she said, with a gesture which comprehended all the divans and pillows in the place. “Will you smoke?”
“I have never tried since I was a little boy,” said Theron, “but I think I could. If you don’t mind, I should like to see.”
Lounging at his ease on the oriental couch, Theron experimented cautiously upon the unaccustomed tobacco, and looked at Celia with what he felt to be the confident quiet of a man of the world. She had thrown aside her hat, and in doing so had half released some of the heavy strands of hair coiled at the back of her head. His glance instinctively rested upon this wonderful hair of hers. There was no mistaking the sudden fascination its disorder had for his eye.
She stood before him with the cigarette poised daintily between thumb and finger of a shapely hand, and smiled comprehendingly down on her guest.
“I suffered the horrors of the damned with this hair of mine when I was a child,” she said. “I daresay all children have a taste for persecuting red-heads; but it’s a specialty with Irish children. They get hold somehow of an ancient national superstition, or legend, that red hair was brought into Ireland by the Danes. It’s been a term of reproach with us since Brian Boru’s time to call a child a Dane. I used to be pursued and baited with it every day of my life, until the one dream of my ambition was to get old enough to be a Sister of Charity, so that I might hide my hair under one of their big beastly white linen caps. I’ve got rather away from that ideal since, I’m afraid,” she added, with a droll downward curl of her lip.
“Your hair is very beautiful,” said Theron, in the calm tone of a connoisseur.
“I like it myself,” Celia admitted, and blew a little smoke-ring toward him. “I’ve made this whole room to match it. The colors, I mean,” she explained, in deference to his uplifted brows. “Between us, we make up what Whistler would call a symphony. That reminds me—I was going to play for you. Let me finish the cigarette first.”
Theron felt grateful for her reticence about the fact that he had laid his own aside. “I have never seen a room at all like this,” he remarked. “You are right; it does fit you perfectly.”
She nodded her sense of his appreciation. “It is what I like,” she said. “It expresses me. I will not have anything about me—or anybody either—that I don’t like. I suppose if an old Greek could see it, it would make him sick, but it represents what I mean by being a Greek. It is as near as an Irishman can get to it.”
“I remember your puzzling me by saying that you were a Greek.”
Celia laughed, and tossed the cigarette-end away. “I’d puzzle you more, I’m afraid, if I tried to explain to you what I really meant by it. I divide people up into two classes, you know—Greeks and Jews. Once you get hold of that principle, all other divisions and classifications, such as by race or language or nationality, seem pure foolishness. It is the only true division there is. It is just as true among negroes or wild Indians who never heard of Greece or Jerusalem, as it is among white folks. That is the beauty of it. It works everywhere, always.”