Other listeners were crowding upon them now, commending the fire-tipped words, felicitating the man with pretty gesture and soft speech, patronising him for the Parthenon and his country and her art. ... The mistress of the house, moving in and out among them, watched the play with a little look of annoyance.... He would be spoiled—a man of that class. She glanced down at the slip of paper in her hand. It bore the name, “Achilles Alexandrakis,” and below it a generous sum to his order. She made her way toward him, and waited while he disengaged himself from the little throng about him and came to her, a look of pleasure and service in his face.
“You speak to me, madame?”
“I wanted to give you this.” She slipped the check into the thin fingers. “You can look at it later—”
But already the fingers had raised it with a little look of pleased surprise.... Then the face darkened, and he laid the paper on the polished table between them. There was a quick movement of the slim fingers that pushed it toward her.
“I cannot take it, madame—to speak of my country. I speak for the child—and for you.” He bowed low. “I give please to do it.”
The next moment he had saluted her with gentle grace and was gone from the room—from the house—between the stone lions and down the Lake Shore Drive, his free legs swinging in long strides, his head held high to the wind on the opal lake.
A carriage passed him, and he looked up. Two figures, erect in the sun, the breath of a child’s smile, a bit of shimmer and grey, the flash and beat of quick hoofs—and they were gone. But the heart of Achilles sang in his breast, and the day about him was full of light.
BETTY LEAVES HER GODS
Little Betty Harris sat in the big window, bending over her gods and goddesses and temples and ruins. It was months since, under the inspiration of the mysterious, fruit-dealing Greek, she had begun her study of Greek art; and the photographs gathered from every source—were piled high in the window—prints and tiny replicas and casts, and pictures of every kind and size—they overflowed into the great room beyond. She was busy now, pasting the photographs into a big book. To-morrow the family started for the country, and only as many gods could go as could be pasted in the book. Miss Stone had decreed it and what Miss Stone said must be done.... Betty Harris looked anxiously at Poseidon, and laid him down, in favour of Zeus. She took him up in her fingers again, with a little flourish of the paste-tube, and made him fast. Poseidon must go, too. The paste-tub wavered uncertainly over the maze of gods and found another and stuck it in place, and lifted itself in admiring delight.
There was a little rustle, and the child looked up. Miss Stone stood in the doorway, smiling at her.
“I’m making my book for the gods,” said the child, her flushed face lighting. “It’s a kind of home for them.” She slipped down from her chair and came across, holding the book outstretched before her. “You see I’ve put Poseidon in. He never had a home—except just the sea, of course—a kind of wet home.” She gave the god a little pat, regarding him fondly.