Achilles and the boy returned to the shop. “I want to go home,” the boy had said, as the car turned away, “I—go—home—with you, father.” So they had drawn up at the little fruit shop; and Yaxis in the door, his teeth gleaming, had darted out to meet them, hovering about them and helping his brother up the stairs and out to the verandah that ran across the windows at the rear. Down below, in tin-can backyards of the neighbours, old bottles and piles of broken lumber filled the place; but along the edge of the verandah, boxes of earth had been set, and the vines ran to the top, shutting out the glare of the brick walls opposite and making a cool spot in the blank heat.
Alcibiades looked at the vines with happy eyes. “They grow,” he said softly.
Yaxis nodded and produced a pot of forget-me-nots. He had been tending them for three weeks—for Alcie. They bent over the pot, blue with blossoms, talking eager words and little gestures and quick laughs. And Achilles, coming out, smiled at the two heads bending above the plant. Yaxis had been lonely—but now the little laughs seemed to stir softly in the close rooms and wake something happy there.
ACHILLES HAS A PLAN
The next day, life in the little shop went on as if there had been no break. With the early light, Yaxis was off, to the south, pushing his tip-cart before him and calling aloud—bananas and fruit and the joy of Alcibiades’s return, in his clear, high voice.... In the shop, Achilles arranged the fruit—great piles of oranges, and grape fruit and figs—and swung the heavy bunches of bananas to their hooks outside, and opened crates and boxes and made ready for the day. By and by, when trade slackened a little, he would slip away and leave Alcibiades in charge of the shop. His mind was busy as he worked. He had something to do that would take him away from the shop—every day for a while, it might be—but the shop would not suffer. Alcibiades was strong—not well enough, perhaps, to go out with the new push-cart that had replaced the old one, and waited outside, but strong enough to make change and fill up the holes in the piles of oranges as they diminished under the swift rush of trade.
Achilles’s eyes rested on him fondly. It had been lonely in the shop—but now the long days of waiting were repaid... they had their clue. Even now the detectives might have followed it up. The little lady would be found. He hurried over the last things—his heart singing—and called the boy to him.
“I go away,” he said, looking at him kindly. “You stay in shop—till I come.”
“Yes, father.” The boy’s eyes were happy. It was good to be in the close, dark, home place with its fruity smell and the striped awning outside. “I do all right!” he said gaily.
The father nodded. “To-morrow you go with push-cart—little way—every day little way—” He waited a moment while the boy’s face took in the words—he spoke with slow significance—“Some day you see—those men—then you run—like devil!” he said quickly, “you tell me!”