She looked up. “What shall I do with it?” It was a shining whisper.
Achilles’s eyes sought the door.
They moved toward it slowly, light as breath.
In the open doorway they paused. Above the tall buildings the grey rim of sky lifted itself. The child looked up to it. Her eyes returned to Achilles.
He nodded gravely.
She raised her hand with a little “p-f-f”—it was half a quick laugh and half a sigh.
The wings fluttered free, and rose and faltered, and rose again—high and higher, between the dark walls—up to the sky, into the grey—and through.
The eyes that had followed it came back to earth. They looked at each other and smiled gravely—two children who had seen a happy thing.
The child stood still with half-lifted hand.... A carriage drove quickly into the street. The little hand was lifted higher. It was a regal gesture—the return of the princess to earth.
James touched his hat—a look of dismay and relief battling in his face as he turned the horses sharply to the right. They paused in front of the stall, their hoofs beating dainty time to the coursing of their blood.
Achilles eyed them lovingly. The spirit of Athens dwelt in their arching necks.
He opened the door for the child with the quiet face and shining eyes. Gravely he salaamed as she entered the carriage.
Through the open window she held out a tiny hand. “I hope you will come and see me,” she said.
“Yes, I come,” said Achilles, simply. “I like to come.”
James dropped a waiting eye.
The horses sprang away. Achilles Alexandrakis, bareheaded in the spring sunshine, watched the carriage till it was out of sight. Then he turned once more to the stall and rearranged the fruit. The swift fingers laughed a little as they worked, and the eyes of Achilles were filled with light.
BETTY’S MOTHER HEARS A STORY
“Mother-dear!” It was the voice of Betty Harris—eager, triumphant, with a little laugh running through it. “Mother-dear!”
“Yes—Betty—” The woman seated at the dark mahogany desk looked up, a little line between her eyes. “You have come, child?” It was half a caress. She put out an absent hand, drawing the child toward her while she finished her note.
The child stood by gravely, looking with shining eyes at the face bending above the paper. It was a handsome face with clear, hard lines—the reddish hair brushed up conventionally from the temples, and the skin a little pallid under its careful massage and skilfully touched surface.
To Betty Harris her mother was the most beautiful woman in the world—more beautiful than the marble Venus at the head of the long staircase, or the queenly lady in the next room, forever stepping down from her gilded frame into the midst of tapestry and leather in the library. It may have been that Betty’s mother was quite as much a work of art in her way as these other treasures that had come from the Old World. But to Betty Harris, who had slight knowledge of art values, her mother was beautiful, because her eyes had little points of light in them that danced when she laughed, and her lips curved prettily, like a bow, if she smiled.