“I am sure he is.”
“The Aunts’ God isn’t a very kind person,” she went on. “But I expect, since you know about the Greeks, yours and mine are the same.”
“Probably,” said Cheiron.
Then, being assured on this point, Halcyone felt she could almost entrust him with her greatest secret.
“Do you know,” she said, in the gravest voice, “I will tell you something. I have a goddess, too. I found her in the secret staircase. She is broken, even her nose a little, but she is supremely beautiful. It is just her head I have got, and I pretend she is my mother sometimes, really come back to me again. We have long talks. Some day I will show her to you. I have to keep her hidden, because Aunt Ginevra cannot bear rubbish about, and as she is broken she would want to have her thrown away.”
“I shall be delighted to make her acquaintance. What do you call her?”
“That is just it,” said Halcyone. “When I first found her it seemed to me I must call her Pallas Athene, because of that noble lady in Perseus—but as I looked and looked I knew she was not that; it seems she cannot be anything else but just Love—her eyes are so tender, she has many moods, and they are not often the same—but no matter how she looks you feel all the time just love, love, love—so I have not named her yet. You remember when Orpheus took his lyre and sang after Cheiron had finished his song—it was of Chaos and the making of the world, and how all things had sprung from Love—who could not live alone in the Abyss. So I know that is she—just Love.”
“Aphrodite,” said Cheiron.
“It is a pretty name. If that is what it means, I would call her that.”
“It will do,” said Cheiron.
“Aphrodite—Aphrodite,” she repeated it over and over. “It must mean kind and tender, and soft and sweet, and beautiful and glorious, and making you think of noble things, and making you feel perfectly happy and warmed and comforted and blessed. Is it all that?”
“It could be—and more,” said Cheiron.
“Then I will name her so.”
After this there was a long silence. Mr. Carlyon would not interrupt what was evidently a serious moment to his little friend. He waited, and then presently he turned the channel of her thoughts by asking her if she thought he might call on her Aunts that afternoon.
Halcyone hesitated a second.
“We hardly ever have visitors. Aunt Ginevra has always said one must not receive what one cannot return, and they have no carriage or horses now, so they never see anyone. Aunt Roberta would, but Aunt Ginevra does not let her, and she often says in the last ten years they have quite dropped out of everything. I do not know what that means altogether, because I do not know what there was to drop out of. I have scarcely ever been beyond the park, and there do not seem to be any big houses for miles—do there?—except Wendover, but it is shut up; it has been for twenty years.”