She was perfectly silent all the way from London to Upminster—and Mr. Carlyon watched her furtively. He knew very well what was passing in her mind, and admired the will which suppressed the expression of it. She grew very pale indeed in the station-fly when they passed the gates of Wendover. It was about half past three in the afternoon—and the Professor had promised to come to the archway opening of the secret passage at five.
So Halcyone left him and took her way down the garden and through the little gate into the park. It seemed like revisiting some scene in a former life, so deep was the chasm which separated the last time she walked that way from this day. She passed the oak tree without stopping. She would not give way to any weakness or the grief which threatened to overwhelm her. She kept her mind steadily fixed upon the object she had in view, with a power of concentration which only those who live in solitude can ever attain to.
Aphrodite was there still in the bag lying on top of the heavy iron-bound box in the secret passage, and she carried her out into the sunlight and once more took the wrappings from the perfect face.
“You are coming with us, sweet friend,” she whispered, and gazed long into the goddess’s eyes. What she saw there gave her comfort.
“Yes, I know,” she went on gently. “I did say that, whatever came, I would understand that it was life—And I do—and I know this evil pain is only for the time—and so I will not admit its power. I will wait and some day joy will return to me, like the swallow from the south. Mother, I will grieve not.”
And all the softest summer zephyrs seemed to caress her in answer, and there she sat silent and absorbed, looking out to the blue hills for more than an hour.
Then she saw Cheiron advancing up the beech avenue, and covering up Aphrodite she went to meet him.
They came back to the second terrace and started upon their quest.
Mr. Carlyon had the greatest difficulty in keeping his old head bent to get through the very low part of the dark arched place, and he held Halcyone’s hand. But at last they emerged into the one light spot and there saw the breastplate and the box. But at first it seemed as if they could not lift it; it had fallen with the lock downward. Cheiron, although a most robust old man, had passed his seventieth year, and the thing was of extreme heaviness. But at last they pushed and pulled and got it upright, and finally, with tremendous exertions with a chisel Mr. Carlyon had brought, managed to break open the ancient lock.
It gave with a sudden snap, and in breathless excitement they raised the lid.
Inside was another case of wood. This also was locked, but at its side lay an old key. The Professor, as well as his chisel, had prudently brought a small bottle of oil, and eventually was able to make the key turn in the lock, and they found that the box was in two compartments, one entirely filled with gold pieces, and the other containing some smaller heavy object enwound with silk.