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drolly like a big, overgrown boy at his first dancing-school. There was something boyish, too, in his square, dark face, with its heavy features, its dark, tired eyes. Past my terrified boggles at light conversation I caught Gwendolen's low, staccato
"If you'll stop gazing at Granny in that sentimental manner, Peter, and collect your guests-"
"Well. If I'm to drive the pall-bearers' carriage, I ought to put on a longtailed coat
"And large cotton gloves-"
But Gwendolen had borne her recreant son away. Two minutes later she came trailing back.
"Mrs. Sands sends word that she will be half an hour late,"-Gwendolen smiled, ineffably serene, "so we must wait. But Sir Christopher may enjoy a glimpse of the city. Will you drive with him half an hour, Mother, then join us on the Tower Hill road? Yes, the car is ready."
I quailed, but Gwendolen's eye did not beseech; it commanded.
"And, say, Granny,"-Peter, deftly dodging his mother's grasp, caught my arm. All his mischief vanished. His laughing face grew eager and intent, "if you love me, show him the Farragut statue. Don't let him miss that. See?"
I nodded reassuringly. Peter and I share certain things, just as Frederic, my husband, and I used to share things, and our most prideful possession is the Farragut statue. To Peter it stands for his young life's idol, the lordly commander, the pirate-slayer, the strategist, the allglorious conqueror. To me it pictures not a conqueror, but a man; one of the world's great gentlemen, though I don't believe I've ever told Peter that story.
We swung away down the avenue. It was a superb spring morning. The car ran as smoothly as a carpet of the jinn. That was a relief to my mind, for Gwendolen's new and impressive French chauffeur was driving, and I 'd felt doubtful as to his seamanship.
"St. Patrick's Cathedral on your left," I intoned conscientiously, like the bottlegreen gentleman on the sight-seeing car. "The library on your right. Yes, those are lions. (And much more convincing than your homely old lions at Trafalgar,"
I added, with inward vim.) "Statuary? Yes, I'm just about to show you the one monument that, to my mind, outranks all other sculpture this side of the world. Turn into Twenty-sixth Street, Benoit, and stop, please."
The car halted at the northwest corner of Madison Square. Sir Christopher looked with sober interest at the great memorial: the stately bench, with its carved waves in low relief; the bold, heroic figure that stands above, alert, intent, the steady eyes forever gazing to the west. Then he glanced at the dim inscription, a part of which read:
THE MEMORY OF A DARING AND SAGACIOUS COMMANDER
AND GENTLE GREATSOULED MAN DAVID GLASGOW FARRAGUT MD CCC LXXXI
"A very noble memorial," remarked Sir Christopher in his slow, absent voice.
I looked up at him quickly. Somehow the note in his voice, his quiet, lifted glance, brought a far-away memory glimmering like a shadow-picture across my mind. But before I could grasp the association that this look of his had brought the memory had flown.
"Yes, it is a very noble memorial to a very noble gentleman-my own particular hero."
Then I stopped short, with a shamefaced gulp, and turned away. It's the eternal, blue-nosed old Puritan streak in me, I suppose, the tight-mouthed AngloSaxon, that can never speak out its deep enthusiasms, its lifelong reverence, but must forever choke up, instead, and keep still. "This is the best that we can do with our half-hour, Sir Christopher. We must go on to Tower Hill.”
We sped back up the avenue, threaded the park, all green and amber in the sunshine, then on to the drive. As we whirled away up the beautiful river road, my spirits rose. I need not keep up my hospitable prattle. Obviously Sir Christopher was enjoying this respite from being entertained. His heavy face was unchanging; but his dark, meditative eyes lighted
as he gazed from blue, shining river to climbing, emerald hills. Even worldfamous playwrights may like to draw a free breath now and then.
At last he spoke:
"Where are all the children?" "The children?"
He motioned up toward the velvet sweep of lawns, the blossomy vistas. I understood. These radiant gardens were meant for children's feet. Then I remembered that of Sir Christopher's ten lovely romance-plays five have been fairy-plays for children, and I felt an odd pulse of kinship with this gray, quiet, famous man.
"You'll see a-plenty children in a minute or so," said I. We had turned from that royal highway, and were spinning through fields and market gardens. "This field road is a short cut to Tower Hill, and I love it. Somehow the snug little houses look so neighborly. Dear me, what can be wrong?"
For our carpet of the jinn was flying slowly, slowly. Even as I spoke, with a long, weary sigh it stopped-stopped dead.
We need not make inquiry of the jinn, for Gwendolen's haughty new chauffeur was expressing his emotions in West-Indian French that sounded like sandpaper rubbed on a new-plastered wall. Some unspeakable menial had neglected the petrol; therefore we were marooned in this desert until he himself could return two entire miles to the village store, which we had skimmed past a moment since, and procure a supply.
"Surely some of Gwen's party will happen along," I said anxiously as we watched the irate chauffeur stalk up the dusty road, "else we 'll be late to luncheon. However," I added to myself, "Gwen won't say a word. One calamity more or less can't mar this unearthly day."
I saw that he was not only slow of movement, but a little lame.
"The gardeners must be away in the fields," said I when we had jangled the bell at the nearest trim yellow door for several minutes. But as I spoke we heard the occupant of the house approaching. Not his footsteps; his voice. Inside the screen door appeared a small, square child of three, dewy pink from his nap, adhesive with molasses, and shrieking at the top of his powerful infant lungs.
"Oh, poor lamb! We 've waked him, and frightened him cruelly." I snatched the roaring cherub into my arms. "Did he wake up all scared to death? There, there!"
Never in my experienced days have I heard any child yell like that one. Charles Edward, in early youth, had what Gwendolen would call a flair for stubbing his toe, and his wails used to rend high heaven. But against this baby's howls Charles Edward's bravest efforts were as a penny whistle to a siren.
"Mercy, what a tempest! Come, Sonny Boy, tell us what you want, and we 'll get it for you, and get it quick."
Sonny Boy obliged. Between vast, but ebbing, sobs, he explained that while he slept his family had basely deserted him for the strawberry patch. for the strawberry patch. Furthermore, he desired not only his kinsfolk, but his Noah 'n' dark and his bread and 'lasses at
once. Luckily, Gwendolen's emergency hamper proved to hold a packet of small, but efficient, sandwiches. The sobs ceased as if the first mouthful had pushed some merciful button. In the heavenly lull that ensued Sir Christopher sat down on the porch step and viewed the littered floor.
"I predict, Mrs. Wentworth, that this calm will last as long as the sandwiches will. That gives one minute, flat, to prepare for the next squall. Let us see: one shoe-box, one newspaper, three lead soldiers, one toy horse. Listen, Sonny Boy. Let's make fairy-land."
The last fat tear vanished from Sonny Boy's pudding cheek. He sat on my knee, wide-eyed, rapt. He almost forgot to munch the last sandwich. And I looked on, more rapt, more enchanted, for Sir Christopher had set the shoe-box on end, and was hanging strips of paper before it, like curtains before a dais. He had sta
tioned a grim lead soldier on each side, and he was chanting in a beautiful, strange, deep voice:
"There sat the seniors of the Trojan race, Old Priam's chiefs, and most in Priam's
"Here, we must have our Spartan Helen. Can't run the show without her. Son, can you find mother's scissors?"
Son bolted indoors, and returned with a snug little work-basket, scissors, pins, and all.
"'Long ago," ," Sir Christopher's deep voice mused on. Yes, it was far back in
These, as the Spartan queen approach'd the old days, misty far. "And very far
"Precisely." Sir Christopher produced a scrap of paper and a pencil. A snip or two, a thrust of the pencil, and before us stood a pixy Helen, tinier than my thumb.
"Her handmaids Clymene and Ethra wait-' now, her maidens." Again the wizard scissors flashed. Maybe Clymene and Ethra were a bit stocky for Grecian daughters of high degree, yet Sonny Boy and I could only stare at those big, lean, flying hands. No, we were n't oppressed by the consciousness that England's foremost dramatic genius was stooping to cut out paper dolls for us. Not a bit of it. We were bewitched, that was all. With every movement a new marvel appeared. An empty strawberry box or so, a branch of lilac from the hedge, and Troy town rose on its wide plain, with gray wall and somber tower, the blue sea before it, the dim, gray olive slopes behind. Away down the sandy shore (real sand, mind you) the toy horse loomed upon our sight, reared in triumph before the temple of Zeus the Thunderer, stuffed to his pink chenille collar with treacherous Greeks. And the twelve black fragments, ranked on the porch step-gravel from the path? Never! These were the twelve black ships of Salamanca, "whom the gigantic Telamon commands." Fanciful? Preposterous? To be sure; and yet those big, lean hands were weaving for us the very cloth of dreams.
"How does the man do it? How can he know?"
ness, a look of race and power, building just such pictures of delight for an eager little child?
Across my mind there flitted a queer, vague recollection. Where had I seen another such worker in magic? Where had I watched another pair of hands, gaunt, sinewy, yet with a finer shapeli
Helplessly I groped and fumbled for the thread.
away'-" Ah, but where? Where?
Like pebbles cast in a deep pool, the words spread broadening ripples of memory, year on year on year. I could not capture those hazy gleams. Yet that faint, uncertain memory caught at my heart with a stabbing pang.
I saw a worn, stooped old man sitting in flickering lamplight close to a dingy wall. This was a public place of some sort, it seemed; dirty, cold, miserable, with a tremor of haste and fear upon it, and yet a sense of endless, dreary waiting. On the old man's knee cuddled a little child. With eyes aglow, cheeks scarlet, this small person sat watching the splendors wrought by the old man's big, gaunt hands. Up and down flashed those deft fingers, back and forth like wise shuttles, making shadow-pictures on the wallsuch shadow-pictures as you'll see only once in a lifetime. With no "properties" save his handkerchief and an envelop and a penknife, he was marshalling all the goodly company of fairy across that grimy stage. First there strode forth a haughty lord in robes of state, his penknife sword dangling from his hip. Behind him minced a medieval princess, grand in her peaked-envelop head-dress and flowing kerchief train. A ravishing pair of clowns pranced after. Then, tossing aside knife, handkerchief, and all, those cunning fingers sent all the beloved convocation of the rabbit race dancing and frolicking down their elfin road. On they romped, a winsome crew, humping their furry backs, bobbing frisky ears, skipping on silky cleft toes, while the drowsy baby on his knee fought off the sandman with both stubborn little fists, and chuckled in rapturous content. All this I saw as clearly as if it flashed before me on a lighted screen; but past it, around it, I could see nothing. For the mists of many years rolled deep between. Who could he be, this wise, tender old necromancer? And where? Where?
"Now for the shoe-box once more."
There was a silence.
"She was only a little girl," he went on meditatively. "She never really grew up. Her back was bad, you know. She never took a step after she was seventeen, and she died when she was twenty-one. You 'd never have thought that she knew what pain meant. She was the gentlest, gayest creature that ever breathed, always full of fun, the best pal you ever saw. We were going to do so many things together! We were always planning and dreaming." He threw me a slow, whimsical glance. "You know, even beggars can dream.”
"Yes, I know," said I-I who have dreamed-dreamed, planned, possessed, and now can only dream once more.
"To find Lucie meant a good deal to me." He worked on, shaping the tower. "My mother had died when I was a baby. Father-well, father had a rough time of it, I dare say. There were six of us youngsters. I was the youngest. Father gave us a year or so schooling. Then he married again when I was nine, and turned us out. For a while I sold papers in front of the municipal library. It was sharp those winter nights. When I'd get stiffened up, I 'd sneak inside and pretend to read a bit for the chance of thawing out. One night I got my hands on a book left on the table by accident. Grimm's 'Fairy-Tales' it was. My word! I blundered through it at one swoop. After that I read everything I could lay my hands on, though I had n't much spare time.
"By the time I was seventeen I was a strong, well-grown chap. I found a place as scene-shifter at the Empire. Lucie was a little girl then; fifteen, say. She sewed in a shop near by. She was wild for the theater. I took her to the very first pantomime she ever saw, and she was fair' crazy with delight. She was wild for story-books, too. I'd buy the penny papers every Saturday, and when I could get an hour off, we 'd go to the park and read them together. But the fairy-tales she loved best of all. Those were our good times, the best times I ever knew."
His quiet voice ceased. He drew our little host to his knee, and set the leaden Perseus and my dragon to furious combat. The little lad screamed with joy. I looked on, but I did not see that gory field. I was listening.