“He is not English?”
“No—does that matter?”
“Of course not—but what country does he come from?”
“You must ask him someday.”
“I want to see countries,” and she stretched out her slender arms, “I want to fly away outside the park and see the world.”
“You have time,” said the old man.
“When I am big enough I shall run away—I get very tired of only the Aunts La Sarthe. They never understand a word I say.” “What do you say?”
“I want to say all sorts of things, but if it isn’t what they have heard a hundred times before, they look shocked and pained.”
“You must come and say them to me then, perhaps I might understand, and in any case I should not be shocked or pained.”
“They remind me of the Three Gray Sisters, although there are only two of them—one eye and one tooth between them.”
“I see—there is something we can talk about at all events,” said the old man. “The Three Gray Sisters are friends of yours—are they?”
“Not friends!” Haley one exclaimed emphatically. “I can’t bear them, silly old things nodding there, with their ridiculous answers to Perseus, saying old things were better than new—and their day better than his—I should have thrown their eye into the sea if I had been he. Do all old people do that?—pretend their time was the best?—do you? I don’t mean to.”
“You are right. It is a bad habit.”
“But are they better, the old things?”
The old man did not answer for a moment or two. He looked his visitor through and through with his wise gray eyes—an investigation which might have disconcerted some people, but Halcyone was unabashed.
“I know what you are doing,” she said. “You are seeing the other side of my head—and I wish I could see the other side of yours, I can the Aunts’ La Sarthe and Priscilla’s, in a minute, but yours is different.”
“I am glad of that—you might be disappointed, though, if you did see what was there.”
“I always want to see,” she said simply—“see everything; and sometimes I find the other side not a bit what this is—even in the birds and trees and the beetles. But you must have a huge big one.”
The old man laughed.
“You and I are going to be good acquaintances,” he said. “Tell me some more of Perseus. What more do you know of him?”
“I have only read ‘The Heroes,’” Halcyone admitted, “but I know it by heart—and I know it is all true though my governess says it is fairy-tales and not for girls. I want to learn Greek, but they can’t teach me.”
“That is too bad.”
“When things are put vaguely I always want to know, them—I want to know why Medusa turned into a gorgon? What was her sin?”
The old man smiled.
“I see,” said Halcyone, “you won’t tell me, but some day I shall know.”
“Yes, some day you shall know,” he said.