“They are like the Parthenon,” said the child, holding one in her hand and turning it daintily to catch the light on its pink surface. “They grew in Athens.” She set her little teeth firmly in its round side.
AND ACHILLES DREAMS
Achilles, in his little shop, went in and out with the thought of the child in his heart. His thin fingers flitted lightly among the fruit. The sadness in his face had given way to a kind of waking joy and thoughtfulness. As he made change and did up bags and parcels of fruit, his thoughts kept hovering about her, and his lips moved in a soft smile, half-muttering again the words he had spoken to her—praises of Athens, city of light, sky of brightness, smiles, and running talk.... It was all with him, and his heart was free. How the child’s eyes had followed the words, full of trust! He should see her again—and again.... Outside a halo rested on the smoky air—a little child, out of the rattle and din, had spoken to him. As he looked up, the big, sooty city became softly the presence of the child.... The sound of pennies clinking in hurried palms was no longer harsh upon his ears; they tinkled softly—little tunes that ran. Truly it had been a wonderful day for Achilles Alexandrakis.
He paused in his work and looked about the little shop. The same dull-shining rows of fruit, the same spicy smell and the glowing disks of yellow light. He drew a deep, full breath. It was all the same, but the world was changed. His heart that had ached so long with its pent-up message of Greece—the glory of her days, the beauty of temples and statues and tombs—was freed by the tale of his lips. The world was new-born for him. He lifted the empty fig-box, from which the child had set free the butterfly that had hung imprisoned in its grey cocoon throughout the long winter, and placed it carefully on the shelf. The lettering traced along its side was faded and dim; but he saw again the child’s eyes lifted to it—the lips half-parted, the eager question and swift demand—that he should tell her of Athens and the Parthenon—and the same love and the wonder that dwelt in his own heart for the city of his birth. It was a strange coincidence that the child should have come to him. Perhaps she was the one soul in the great, hurrying city who could care. They did not understand—these hurrying, breathless men and women—how a heart could ache for something left behind across the seas, a city of quiet, the breath of the Past—sorrow and joy and sweet life.... No, they could not understand! But the child—He caught his breath a little. Where was she—in the hurry and rush? He had not thought to ask. And she was gone! Only for a moment the dark face clouded. Then the smile flooded again. He should find her. It might be hard—but he would search. Had he not come down the long way of the Piraeus to the sea—blue in the sun. Across the great waters by ship, and the long miles by train. He should find her.... They would talk again. He laughed quietly in the dusky shop.