Some trees had strange personalities, she said. You could never guess the other side of their heads, until you knew them very well. But all had good in them, and it was wisest never even to see the bad.
“I always find if you are afraid of things they become real and hurt you, but if you are sure they are kind and true they turn gentle and love you. I am hardly ever afraid of anything now—only I do not like a thunderstorm. It seems as if God were really angry then, and were not considering sufficiently just whom He meant to hit.”
Justice to her appeared to hold chief place among the virtues.
“Do you stay here all the year round?” asked Cheiron, presently, “or do you sometimes have a trip to the seaside?”
“I have never been away since I first came—I would love to see the sea,” and her eyes became dreary. “I can just remember long ago with my mother, we went once—she and I alone—” then she turned to her old companion and looked up in his face.
“Had you a mother? Of course you had, but I mean one that you knew?”
The late Mrs. Carlyon had not meant anything much to her son in her lifetime, and was now a far-off memory of forty years ago, so Cheiron answered truthfully upon the subject, and Halcyone looked grave.
“When we have been friends for a long time I will tell you of my beautiful mother—and I could let you share my memory of her perhaps—but not to-day,” she said.
And then she was silent for a while as they walked on. But when they were turning back towards the orchard house she suddenly began to laugh, glancing at the old gentleman with eyes full of merriment.
“It is funny,” she said, “I don’t even know your name! I would like to call you Cheiron—but you have a real name, of course.”
“It is Arnold Carlyon, and I come from Cornwall,” the old gentleman said, “but you are welcome to call me Cheiron, if you like.”
Halcyone thanked him prettily.
“I wish you had his body—don’t you? How we could gallop about, could we not? But I can imagine you have, easily. I always can see things I imagine, and sometimes they become realities then.”
“Heaven forbid!” exclaimed Cheiron. “What would my four legs and my hoofs do in the little orchard house, and how should I sit in my armchair?”
Halcyone pealed with merry laughter; her laughs came so rarely and were like golden bells. The comic side of the picture enchanted her.
“Of course it would only do if we lived in a cave, as the real Cheiron did,” she admitted. “I was silly, was not I?”
“Yes,” said Mr. Carlyon, “but I don’t think I mind your being so—it is nice to laugh.”
She slipped her thin little hand into his for a moment, and caught hold of one of his fingers.
“I am so glad you understand that,” she said. “How good it is to laugh! That is what the birds sing to me, it is no use ever to be sad, because it draws evil and fear to yourself, and even in the winter one must know there is always the beautiful spring soon coming. Don’t you think God is full of love for this world?”