But John Derringham did not respond to this casual invitation for many a long day. He had other potent interests beside his political ambitions—and in any case, never did anything unless he felt inclined.
Mr. Carlyon did not expect him—he knew him very well.
Thus the days passed and by the end of June even, Halcyone had learned more than the Greek alphabet; and had listened to many charming stories of that wonderful people. And the night was her friend, and numerous hours were passed in the shadow of his dark wings, as she flitted like some pale ghost about the park and the deserted, dilapidated garden.
The July of that year was very warm with peculiarly still days, and Halcyone and her master, Cheiron, spent most of their time during their hours of study, under the apple tree. They had got to a stage of complete understanding, and seemed to have fitted into each other’s lives as though they had always been together.
Mr. Carlyon watched his little pupil from under the shadow of his penthouse brows with the deep speculative interest she had aroused in him from the first. He had theories upon several subjects, which she seemed to be going to show the result of in practice—and in his kindly cynic’s heart she was now enshrined in a special niche.
For Halcyone he was “Cheiron,” her master, who had the enchanting quality of being able to see the other side of her head. Every idea of her soul seemed to be developing under this touch of sympathy and understanding. Her heterogeneous knowledge culled from the teachings of her many changing governesses, seemed to regulate itself into distinct branches with an upward shoot for each, and Mr. Carlyon watched and encouraged them all.
It was on one glorious Saturday morning when the fairies and nymphs and gods and goddesses were presumably asleep in the sunlight, that she drew up her knees as she sat on the grass by her Professor’s chair, and pushing away the Greek grammar, said, with grave eyes fixed upon his face:
“Cheiron, to-day something tells me I can show you Aphrodite. When it is cooler, about five o’clock, will you come with me to the second terrace? There I will leave you and go and fetch her, and as William and Priscilla will be at tea, I can open the secret door, and you shall see where she lives—all in the dark!”
Mr. Carlyon felt duly honored—for they had never referred to this subject since she had first mentioned it. The Professor felt it was one of deep religious solemnity to his little friend, and had waited until she herself should feel he was worthy of her complete confidence.
“She speaks to me more than ever,” Halcyone continued. “I took her out in the moonlight on Thursday night, and she seemed to look more lovely than before. It has pleased her that I call her Aphrodite—it was certainly her name.”