This “big force”—this “God” was a real personality to Halcyone. She could not bear it when in church she heard the meanest acts of revenge and petty wounded vanity attributed to Him. She argued it was because the curate did not know. Having come from a town, he could not be speaking of the same wonderful God she knew in the woods and fields—the God so loving and tender in the springtime to the budding flowers, so gorgeous in the summer and autumn and so pure and cold in the winter. With all that to attend to He could not possibly stoop to punish ignorant people and harbor anger and wrath against them. He was the sunlight and the moonlight and the starlight. He was the voice which talked in the night and made her never lonely.
And all the other things of nature and the universe were gods, also—lesser ones obeying the supreme force and somehow fused with Him in a whole, being part of a scheme which He had invented to complete the felicity of the world He had created—not beings to be prayed to or solicited for favors, but just gentle, glorious, sympathetic, invisible friends. She was very much interested in Christ; He was certainly a part of God, too—but she could not understand about His dying to save the world, since the God she heard of in the church was still forever punishing and torturing human beings, or only extending mercy after His vanity had been flattered by offerings and sacrifices.
“I expect,” she said to herself, coming home one Sunday after one of Mr. Miller’s lengthy discourses upon God’s vengeance, “when I am older and able really to understand what is written in the Bible I shall find it isn’t that a bit, and it is either Mr. Miller can’t see straight or he has put the stops all in the wrong places and changed the sense. In any case I shall not trouble now—the God who kept me from falling through the hole in the loft yesterday by that ray of sunlight to show the cracked board, is the one I am fond of.”
It was the simple and logical view of a case which always appealed to her.
“Halcyone” her parents had called her well—their bond of love—their tangible proof of halcyon days. And always when Halcyone read her “Heroes” she felt it was her beautiful father and mother who were the real Halcyone and Ceyx, and she longed to see the blue summer sea and the pleasant isles of Greece that she might find their floating nest and see them sail away happily for ever over those gentle southern waves.
Mr. Carlyon—for such was Cheiron’s real name—knocked the ashes from his long pipe next day at eleven o’clock in the morning, after his late breakfast and began to arrange his books. His mind was away in a land of classical lore; he had almost forgotten the sprite who had invaded his solitude the previous afternoon, until he heard a tap at the window, and saw her standing there—great, intelligent eyes aflame and rosy lips apart.