“As the tree falls so shall it lie,” seemed to be the motto of La Sarthe Chase. For none were removed.
Halcyone stretched out her arms and beckoned to her fairy friends.
“Queen Mab,” she called, “come and dance nearer to me—I can see your wings and I want to talk to you to-day!”
And as if in answer to this invitation, the rays of the lowered sun shifted to an opening almost at her feet, and with a cry of joy the child began to dance in the gorgeous light.
“Come follow, follow me, ye fairy elves that be,” she sang softly.
And the sprites laughed with gladness, and gilded her mouse hair with gold, and lit up her eyes, and wove scarves about her with gossamer threads, and beneath her feet tall bluebells offered their heads as a carpet.
But Halcyone sprang over them, she would not have crushed the meanest weed.
“Queen Mab!” she said at last, as she sat down in the middle of the sunlight, “I have found an old gentleman—and he is Cheiron, and if one could see it in the right light, he may have a horse’s body, and he is going to teach me just what Jason learnt—and then I shall tell it to you.”
The rays shifted again to a path beyond, and Halcyone bounded up and went on her way.
Old William was drawing the elder Miss La Sarthe in a dilapidated basket-chair, up and down on the highest terrace. She held a minute faded pink silk parasol over her head—it had an ivory handle which folded up when she no longer needed the parasol as a shade. She wore one-buttoned gloves, of slate-colored kid, and a wrist-band of black velvet clasped with a buckle. An inverted cake-tin of weather-beaten straw, trimmed with rusty velvet, shadowed her old, tired eyes; an Indian shawl was crossed upon her thin bosom.
“Halcyone!” she called querulously. “Where have you been, child? You must have missed your tea.”
And Halcyone answered:
“In the orchard.”
For of what use to inform Aunt Ginevra about that enchanting visit to Cheiron! Aunt Ginevra who knew not of such beings!
“The orchard’s let,” grunted old William—“they do say it’s sold—”
“I had rather not hear of it, William,” said Miss La Sarthe frowning. “It does not concern one what occurs beyond one’s gates.”
Old William growled gently, and continued his laborious task—one of the wheels squeaked as it turned on the flags.
“Aunt Ginevra, you must have that oiled,” said Halcyone, as she screwed up her face. “How can you bear it? You can’t see the lovely spring things, with that noise.”
“One does not see with one’s ears, Halcyone,” quavered Miss La Sarthe. “Take me in now, William.”
“And she can’t even see them with her eyes—poor Aunt Ginevra!” Halcyone said to herself, as she walked respectfully by the chair until it passed the front door on its way to the side. Then she bounded up the steps and through the paneled, desolate hall, taking joy in climbing the dog-gates at the turn of the stairs, which she could easily have opened—and she did not pause until she reached her own room in the battered south wing, and was soon curled up in the broad window sill, her hands clasped round her knees.