Inez Haynes Gillmore
Part 3 out of 4
mother-bird's call. At first their voices were faint and weak. But she
kept encouraging them until they sat up - God, it was - ."
Ralph could not go on for a while.
"She gave them a long talk - she was so weak she had to keep stopping -
but she went right on - and they listened. Of course I couldn't
understand a word. But I knew what she said. In effect, it was: 'We
cannot die. We must all live. We cannot leave any one of us here alone.
Promise me that you will get well!' She pledged them to it. She made
them take an oath, one after the other. Oh, they were obedient enough.
They took it."
He stopped again.
"That talk made the greatest difference. After it was all over, I gave
them some water. They were different even then. They looked at me - and
they didn't shrink or shudder. When I handed Julia the cup, she made
herself smile. God, you never saw such a smile. I nearly - " he paused,
"I all but went back to the cabin and cut my throat. But the fight's
over. They'll get well. They're sleeping like children now."
"Thank God!" Merrill groaned. "Oh, thank God!"
"I've felt like a murderer ever since - - " Billy said. He stopped and
his voice leaped with a sudden querulousness. "You didn't wake me up;
you've done double guard duty during the night, Ralph."
"Oh, that's all right. You were all in - I felt that - " Ralph stammered
in a shamefaced fashion. "And I knew I could stand it."
"There's a long sleep coming to you, Ralph," Pete said. "You've hardly
closed your eyes this week. No question but you've saved their lives."
Mid-morning on Angel Island.
The sun had mounted half-way to the zenith; sky and sea and land
glittered with its luster. Like war-horses, the waves came ramping over
the smooth, shimmering sand; war-horses with bodies of jade and manes of
Pete floated inshore on a huge comber, ran up the beach a little way and
sat down. Billy followed.
"I've come out just to get the picture," Pete explained.
"Same here," said Billy.
For an instant, both men contemplated the scene with the narrowed,
critical gaze of the artist.
The flying-girls were swimming; and swimming with the same grace and
strength with which formerly they flew. And as if inevitably they must
take on the quality of the element in which they mixed, they looked like
mermaids now, just as formerly they had looked like birds. They carried
heads and shoulders high out of the water. Webs of sea-spume glittered
on the shining hair and on the white flesh. One behind the other, they
swam in rhythmic unison. Regularly the long, round, strong-looking right
arms reached out of the water, bowed forward, clutched at the wave, and
pulled them on. Simultaneously, the left arms reached back, pushed
against the wave, and shot them forward. Their feet beat the water to a
They were headed down the beach, hugging the shore. Swim as hard as they
could, Honey and Frank managed but to keep up with them. Ralph overtook
them only in their brief resting-periods. Further inshore, carried
ceaselessly a little forward and then a little back, Julia floated;
floated with an unimaginable lightness and yet, somehow, conserved her
aspect of a creature cut in marble.
"I have never seen anything so beautiful in any art, ancient or modern,"
Billy concluded. "When those strange draperies that they affect get wet,
they look like the Elgin marbles."
"If we should take them to civilization," was Pete's answer, "the Elgin
marbles would become a joke."
Billy spoke after a long silence. "It's been an experience that - if I
were - oh, but what's the use? You can't describe it. The words haven't
been invented yet. I don't mean the fact that we've discovered members
of a lost species - the missing link between bird and man. I mean what's
happened since the capture. It's left marks on me. I'll bear them until
I die. If we abandoned this island - and them - and went back to the
world, I could never be the same person. If I woke up and found it was a
dream, I could never be the same person."
"I know," Pete said, "I know. I've changed, too. We all have. Old Frank
is a god. And Honey's grown so that - . Even Ralph's a different man.
Changed - God, I should say I had. It's not only given me a new hold on
things I thought I'd lost-morality, ethics, religion even - but it's
developed something I have no word for - the fourth dimension of
"It's their weakness, I think, and their dependence." Now it was less
that Billy tried to translate Pete's thought and more that he endeavored
to follow his own. "It puts it up to a man so. And their beauty and
purity and innocence and simplicity - ." Billy seemed to be ransacking
his vocabulary for abstract nouns.
"And that sense you have," Pete broke in eagerly, "of molding a virgin
mind. It gives you a feeling of responsibility that's fairly terrifying
at times. But there's something else mixed up with it - the instinct of
the artist. It's as though you were trying to paint a picture on human
flesh. You know that you're going to produce beauty." Pete's face shone
with the look of creative genius. "The production of beauty excuses any
method, to my way of thinking." He spoke half to himself. "God knows,"
he added after a pause, "whatever I've done and been, I could never do
or be again. Sometimes a man knows when he's reached the zenith of his
spiritual development. I've reached mine. I think they're beginning to
trust us," he added after another long interval, in which silently they
contemplated the moving composition. Pete's tone had come back to its
"No question about it," Billy rejoined. "If I do say it as shouldn't, I
think my scheme was the right one - never to separate any one of them
from the others, never to seem to try to get them alone, and in
everything to be as gentle and kind and considerate as we could."
"That look is still in their eyes," Pete said. He turned away from Billy
and his face contracted. "It goes through me like a knife - - . When
that's gone - - ."
"It will go inevitably, Pete," Billy reassured him cheerfully. Suddenly
his own voice lowered. "One queer thing I've noticed. I wonder if you're
affected that way. I always feel as if they still had wings. What I mean
is this. If I stand beside one of them with my eyes turned away I always
get an impression that they're still there, towering above my head -
ghosts of wings. Ever notice it?"
"Oh, Lord, yes!" Pete agreed. "Often. I hate it. But that will go, too.
Here they come."
The bathers had turned; they were swimming up the beach. They passed
Julia, who joined the procession, and turned toward the land. Stretched
in a long line, they rode in on a big wave. Billy and Pete leaped
forward. Assisted by the men, the girls tottered up the sand, gathered
into a little group, talking among themselves. Their wet draperies clung
to them in long, sweeping lines; but they dried with amazing quickness.
The sun grew hotter and hotter. Their transient flash of animation died
down; their conversation gradually stopped.
Chiquita settled herself flat on the sand, the sunlight pouring like a
silver liquid into the blue-black masses of her hair, her narrow brows,
her thick eyelashes. Presently she fell asleep. Clara leaned against a
low ledge of rock and spread her coppery mane across its surface. It
dried almost immediately; she divided it into plaits and coils and wove
it into an elaborate structure. Her fingers seemed to strike sparks from
it; it coruscated. Julia lay on her side, eyes downcast, tracing with
one finger curious tangled patterns in the sand. Her hair blew out and
covered her body as with a silken, honey-colored fabric; the lines of
her figure were lost in its abundance. Peachy sat drooped over, her hand
supporting her chin and her knees supporting her elbows, her eyes fixed
on the horizon-line. Her hair dried, too, but she did not touch it. It
flowed down her back and spread into a pool of gold on the sand. She
might have been a mermaid cast up by that sea on which she gazed with
such a tragic wistfulness - and forever cut off from it.
A little distance from the rest, Honey sat with Lulu. She was shaking
the brown masses of her hair vigorously and Honey was helping her. He
was evidently trying to teach her something because, over and over
again, his lips moved to form two words, and over and over again, her
red lips parted, mimicking them. Gradually, Lulu lost all interest in
her hair. She let it drop. It floated like a furry mantle over her
shoulders. Into her little brown, pointed face came a look of
overpowering seriousness, of tremendous concentration. Occasionally
Honey would stop to listen to her; but invariably her recital sent him
into peals of laughter. Lulu did not laugh; she grew more and more
serious, more and more concentrated.
The other men talked among themselves. Occasionally they addressed a
remark to their captives. The flying-girls replied in hesitating
flutters of speech, a little breathy yes or no whenever those
monosyllables would serve, an occasional broken phrase. Superficially
they seemed calm, placid even. But if one of the men moved suddenly, an
uncontrollable panic overspread their faces.
Honey arose after a long interval, strolled over to the main group.
"I think they're coming to the conclusion that we're regular fellows,"
he declared cheerfully. "Lulu doesn't jump or shriek any more when I run
"Oh, it's coming along all right," Frank said.
"It's surprising how quickly and how correctly they're getting the
"I'm going to begin reading aloud to them next week," Pete announced.
"That'll be a picnic."
"It's been a long fight," Ralph said contentedly. "But we've won out.
We've got them going. I knew we would." His eyes went to Peachy's face,
but once there, their look of triumph melted to tenderness.
"What are we going to read them?" Honey asked idly. He did not really
listen to Pete's answer. His eyes, sparkling with amusement, had gone
back to Lulu, who still sat seriously practising her lesson. Red lips,
little white teeth, slender pink tongue seemed to get into an
inextricable tangle over the simple monosyllables.
"Leave that to me!" Pete was saying mysteriously. "I'll have them
reading and writing by the end of another two months."
"It's curious how long it's taken them to get over that terror of us,"
said Billy. "I cannot understand it."
"Oh, they'll explain why they've been so afraid," said Frank, "as soon
as they've got enough vocabulary. We cannot know, until they tell us how
many of their conventions we have broken, how brutal we may have
"And yet," Billy went on, "I should think they'd see that we wouldn't do
anything that wasn't for their own good. Well, just as soon as I can put
it over with them, I'm going to give them a long spiel on the
gentleman's code. I don't believe they'll ever be frightened of us
Lulu had tottered over to their group, supporting herself by the ledge
of rock. She pulled herself upright, balancing precariously. She put her
sharp little teeth close, parted her lips and produced:
The men burst into roars of laughter. Lulu looked from one face to the
other in perplexity. In perplexity, the other women looked from her to
them and at each other.
"Sounds like the Yale yell!" Pete commented.
"But what I can't understand," Billy said, reverting to his thesis, "is
that they don't realize instantly that we wouldn't hurt them for any
thing - that that's a thing a fellow couldn't do."
Twilight on Angel Island.
The stars were beginning to shoot tiny white, five-pointed flames
through the purple sky. The fireflies were beginning to cut long arcs of
gold in the sooty dusk. The waves were coming up the low-tide beach with
a long roar and retreating with a faint hiss. Afterwards floated on the
air the music of the shingle, hundreds of pebbles pattering with liquid
footsteps down the sand. Peals of laughter, the continuous bass roar of
the men, an occasional uncertain soprano lilting of the women, came from
the group. The girls were reciting their lessons.
"Three little girls from school are we,
Pert as schoolgirls well can be,
Filled to the brim with girlish glee,
Three little maids from school!"
intoned Lulu, Chiquita, and Clara together.
"Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
Silver bells and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row."
"The hounds of spring are on winter's traces," began Julia. With no
effort of the memory, with a faultless enunciation, a natural feeling
for rhythm and apparently with comprehension, she, recited the Atalanta
"That's enough for lessons," Honey demanded.
"Wait a moment!"
He rushed into the bushes and busied himself among the fire-flies. The
other four men, divining his purpose, joined him. They came back with
handkerchiefs tied full of tiny, wriggling, fluttering green creatures.
In a few moments, the five women sat crowned with carcanets of living
"Now read us a story," Lulu begged.
Pete drew a little book from his pocket. Discolored and swollen, the
print was big and still black.
"'Once upon a time,'" he began, "'there was a little girl who lived with
her father and her stepmother - '"
"What's 'stepmother'?" Lulu asked.
"The stepmother had two daughters, and all three of these women were
cruel and proud - - '"
"What's 'cruel and proud'?" Chiquita asked.
"'And so between the three the little girl had a very hard time. She
worked like a slave all day long, and was never allowed to go out of the
kitchen. The stepmother and the proud sisters, used to go to balls every
night, leaving the little girl alone. Because she was always so dusty
and grimy from working over the fire, they called her Cinderella. Now,
it happened that the country was ruled by a very handsome young
"What's 'handsome young prince'?" Clara asked.
"'And all the ladies of the kingdom were in love with him.'"
"What's 'in love'?" Peachy asked.
Pete closed the book.
"Ah, that's a question," he said after an instant of meditation, "that
will admit of some answer. Say, you fellers, you'd better come into
Moonlight on Angel Island.
The sea lay like a carpet of silver stretched taut from the white line
of the waves to the black seam of the sky. The land lay like a crumpled
mass of silver velvet, heaped to tinselled brightness here, hollowed to
velvety shadow there. Over both arched the mammoth silver tent of the
sky. In the cleft in the rock on the southern reef sat Julia and Billy.
Under a tree at the north sat Peachy and Ralph. Scattered in shaded
places between sat the others. The night was quiet; but on the breeze
came murmurs sometimes in the man's voice, sometimes in the woman's.
Fragmentary they were, these murmurs, and inarticulate; but their
composite was ever the same.
Sunrise on Angel Island.
In and out among the trees, wound a procession following the northern
trail. First came Lulu, white-clad, serious, pale, walking with Honey.
The others, crowned with flowers and carrying garlands, followed,
serious and silent, the women clinging with both hands to the men, who
supported their snail-like, tottering progress with one arm about their
waists. On the point of the northern reef, a cabin made of round
beach-stones fronted the ocean. It fronted the rising sun now and a
world, all ocean and sky, over which lay a rose dawnlight. Still silent,
the procession paused and grouped about the house. Frank Merrill stepped
forward and placed himself in front of Honey and Lulu.
"We are gathered here this morning," Frank said in his deep academic
voice, "to marry this man to this woman and this woman to this man. If
there is any reason why you should not enter into the married state,
pause before it is too late." His voice came to a full stop. He waited.
"If not, I pronounce you man and wife."
Silently still, the others placed their garlands and wreaths at the feet
of the wedded pair. Turning, they walked slowly back over the trail.
Midnight on Angel Island.
Julia sat alone on the stone bench at the door of the Honeymoon House.
She gazed straight ahead out on a star-lighted sea, which joined a
star-lighted sky and stretched in pulsating star-gleams to the end of
space. She gazed straight out, but apparently she saw nothing. Her eyes
were abstracted and her brow furrowed. Her shoulders drooped.
A man came bounding up the path.
"Has Ralph been here?" he asked curtly. Billy's face was fiery. His eyes
"He's been here," Julia answered immediately. "He's gone!"
"By God, I'll kill him!" Billy turned white.
Julia's brow smoothed. She smiled a little. "No, you will not kill him,"
she said with her old serene air. "You will not have to kill him. He
will never come again."
"Did he try to make love to you?"
"How did he justify himself?"
"He appealed to me to save him. I did not quite understand from what. He
said I could make a better man of him." Julia laughed a little.
"How did you know he was here?"
"I stopped at their cabin. He was not there. Peachy did not know where
he was. Of course, I guessed at once. I came here immediately."
"Did Peachy seem troubled?"
"No. She doesn't care. Pete was there, examining her drawings. They're
half in love with each other. And then again, Pete doesn't know, or if
he does know, he doesn't care, that Clara is doing her damnedest to
start a flirtation with Honey. And Lulu has walked about like a woman in
a dream for weeks. What are we all coming to? There's nothing but
"It must be so," Julia said, "as long as men and women are idle."
"But how can we be anything but idle? There's nothing to do on this
"I don't know," said Julia slowly; "I don't know."
"Julia," Billy said in a pleading voice, "marry me!"
A strange expression came into Julia's eyes. Part of it was irresolution
and part of it was terror. But a poignant wistful tenderness fused. both
these emotions, shot them with light.
"Not yet," she said in a terrified voice. "Not yet!"
"I don't know - why. Only that I cannot."
"Then, when will you marry me? Julia, I see all the others together and
it - - . You don't know what it does to me."
"Yes, I know! It kills me too."
"Then why wait?"
"Because - - ." The poignant look went for an instant from Julia's eyes.
A strange brooding came in its place. "Because a little voice inside
"Julia, do you love me?"
Julia did not answer. She only looked at him.
"You are sure there is nobody else?"
"I am sure. There could never be anybody else - after that first night
when I waked you from sleep."
"It is forever, then?"
Billy sighed. "I'll wait, then - until eternity shrivels up."
They sat for a long time, silent.
"Here comes somebody," Billy said suddenly. "It's one of the girls," he
added after a moment of listening. "I'll leave you, I guess."
He melted into the darkness.
A woman appeared, dragging herself along by means of the rail. It was
Lulu, a strange Lulu, a Lulu pallid and silent, but a Lulu shining-eyed.
She pulled herself over to Julia's side. "Julia!" "Julia! Oh, Julia!"
Lulu's voice was not voice. It was not speech. Liquid sound flowed from
her lips, crystallizing at the touch of the air, to words. "Julia, I
came to you first, after Honey. I wanted you to know."
"Oh, Lulu," Julia said, "not - - ."
Her eyes reflected the stars in Lulu's eyes. And there they stood, their
two faces throwing gleam for gleam.
"Yes," said Lulu. Suddenly she knelt sobbing on the floor, her face in
Mid-afternoon on Angel Island.
Four women sat in the Honeymoon House, sewing. Outside the world still
lay in sunshine, the land cut by the beginning of shadow, the sea
streaked with purple and green.
"Why didn't you bring the children?" Julia, asked.
Lulu answered. "Honey and Frank were going in swimming this morning, and
they said they'd take care of them. I'm glad to get Honey-Boy off my
hands for an afternoon."
"And why hasn't Peachy come?" Julia asked. I stopped as I went by," Lulu
explained. Oh, Julia, I wish you didn't live way off here - it takes us
an hour of crawling to pull ourselves along the path. Angela hadn't
waked up yet. It was a longer nap than usual. Peachy said she'd come
just as soon as she opened her eyes. I went in to look at her. Oh, she's
such a darling, smiling in her sleep. Oh, I do hope I have a girl-baby
"I do, too," said Clara. "Peterkin's fun, of course. But I can't do the
things for a boy that I could for a girl."
"I'd rather have boys," Chiquita said; "they're less trouble."
"Would you rather have boys or girls, Julia?" Lulu asked.
"Girls!" said Julia decisively. "A big family of girls."
"Then," Lulu began, and a question trembled in her bright eyes and on
her curved lips.
But, "Here's Peachy!" Julia exclaimed before she could go on.
Peachy came toiling up the path, pulling herself along, both hands on
the wooden rail. She tottered, but in spite of her snail-like progress,
it was evident that she hurried. A tiny bundle hung between her
shoulders. It oscillated gently with her haste.
"Let me take Angela," Julia said as Peachy struggled over the threshold.
"Wait!" Peachy panted. She sank on a couch.
There was a strange element in her look, an overpowering eagerness. This
eagerness had brimmed over into her manner; it vibrated in her trembling
voice, her fluttering hands. She sat down. She reached up and lifted the
baby from her shoulders to her lap. Angela still slept, a delicate bud
of a girl-being. But Peachy gave her audience no time to study the
sleeping face. She turned the baby over. She pulled the single light
garment off. Then she looked up at the other women.
The little naked figure lay in the golden sunlight, translucent, like an
angel carved in alabaster. But on the shoulder-blades lay shadow, deep
shadow - no, not shadow, a fluff of feathery down.
"Wings!" Peachy said. "My little girl is going to fly!"
"Wings!" the others repeated. "Wings!"
And then the room seemed to fill with tears that ended in laughter, and
laughter that ended in tears.
They won't be home until very late tonight," announced Lulu. "The work
they're doing now is hard and irritating and fussy. Honey says that they
want to get through with it as soon as possible. He said they'd keep at
it as long as the light lasted."
"It seems as if their working days grew longer all the time," Clara said
petulantly. "They start off earlier and earlier in the morning and they
stay later and later at night. And did you know that they are planning
soon to stay a week at the New Camp - they say the walk back is so
fatiguing after a long day's work."
The others nodded.
"And then the instant they've had their dinner," Lulu continued, "off
they go to that tiresome Clubhouse - for tennis and ball and bocci. It
seems, somehow, as if I never had a chance to talk with Honey nowadays.
I should think they'd get enough of each other, working side by side all
day long, the way they do. But no! The moment they've eaten and had
their smoke, they must get together again. Why is it, I wonder? I should
think they would have said all they had to say in the daytime."
"Pete is worse than any of them," Clara went on. "After he comes back
from the Clubhouse, he wants to sit up and write for an hour or two. Oh,
I get fairly desperate sometimes, sitting there listening to the eternal
scratching of his pen. I cannot understand his point of view, to save my
life. If I talk, it irritates him. My very breathing annoys him; he
cannot have me in the same room with him. But if I leave the cabin, he
can't write a word. He wants me near, always. He says it's the knowing
I'm there that makes him feel like writing. And then Sundays, if he
isn't writing, he's painting. I don't mind his not being there in the
daytime in a way because, of course, there's always Peterkin. But at
night, when I've put Peterkin to bed I do want something different to
happen. As it is, I have to make a scene to get up any excitement. I do
it, too, without compunction. When it gets to the point that I know I
must scream or go crazy, I scream. And I do a good job in screaming,
"What would you like him to do, Clara?" Julia asked.
The petulant frown between Clara's eyebrows deepened. "I don't know,"
she said wearily. "I don't know what it is that I want to do; but I want
to do something. Peterkin is asleep and perfectly safe - and I feel like
going somewhere. Now, if I could fly, it would rest me so, to go for a
long, long journey through the air." As she concluded, some new
expression, some strange hardness of her maturity, melted; her face was
for an instant the face of the old Clara.
Julia made no comment.
It was Chiquita who took it up.
"My husband talks enough. In fact, he talks all the time. But if I tire
of his voice, I let myself fall asleep. He never notices. That is why
I've grown so big. Sometimes " - discontent dulled for an instant the
slow fire of her slumberous eyes - " sometimes my life seems one long
sleep. If it weren't for junior, I'd feel as if I weren't quite alive."
"Ralph talks a great deal," Peachy said listlessly, "by fits and starts,
and he takes me out when he comes home, if he happens to feel like
walking himself. He says, though, that it exhausts him having to help me
along. But it isn't that I want particularly. Often I want to go out
alone. I want to soar. The earth has never satisfied me. I want to
explore the heights. I want to explore them alone, and I want to explore
them when the mood seizes me. And I want to feel when I come back that I
can talk about it or keep silent as he does. But I must make my
discoveries and explorations in my own way. Ralph sometimes gives me
long talks about astronomy - he seems to think that studying about the
stars will quiet me. One little flight straight up would mean more to me
than all that talk. Ralph does not understand it in me, and I cannot
explain it to him. And yet he feels exactly that way himself - he's
always going off by himself through unexplored trails on the island. But
he cannot comprehend how I, being a woman, should have the same desire.
Do you remember when our wings first began to grow strong and our people
kept us confined, how we beat our wings against the wall - beat and beat
and beat? At times now, I feel exactly like that. Why, sometimes I envy
little Angela her wings."
The five women reclined on long, low rustic couches in the big, cleared
half-oval that was the Playground for their children. It began - this
half-oval - in high land among the trees and spread down over a beach to
the waters of a tiny cove. Between the high tapering boles of the pines
at their back the sky dropped a curtain of purple. Between the long
ledges of tawny rock in front the sea stretched a carpet of turquoise.
And between pines and sea lay first a rusty mat of pine-needles, then a,
ribbon of purple stones, then a band of glittering sand. In the air the
resinous smell of the pines competed with the salty tang of the ocean.
High up, silver-winged gulls curved and dipped and called their creaking
At the water's edge four children were playing. Honey-Boy had waded out
waist-deep. A sturdy, dark, strong-bodied, tiny replica of his father,
he stood in an exact reproduction of one of Honey's poses, his arms
folded over his little pouter-pigeon chest, lips pursed, brows frowning,
dimples inhibited, gazing into the water. Just beyond, one foot on the
bottom, Peterkin pretended to swim. Peterkin had an unearthly beauty
that was half Clara's coloring - combination of tawny hair with
gray-green eyes - and half Pete's expression - the look, doubly strange,
of the Celt and the genius. Slender and beautifully formed, graceful, he
was in every possible way a contrast to virile little Billy-Boy; he was
even elegant; he had the look of a story-book prince. Far up the beach,
cuddled in a warm puddle, naked, sat a fat, redheaded baby, Frank
Merrill, junior. He watched the others intently for a while. Then
breaking into a grin which nearly bisected the face under the fiery
thatch, he began an imitative paddle with his pudgy hands and feet.
Flitting hither and yon, hovering one moment at the water's edge and
another at Junior's side, moving with a capricious will-o'-the-wisp
motion that dominated the whole picture, flew Angela.
Beautiful as the other children were, they sank to commonplaces in
contrast with Angela.
For Angela was a being of faery. Her single loose garment, serrated at
the edges, knee-length, and armless, left slits at the back for a pair
of wings to emerge. Tiny these wings were, and yet they were perfect in
form; they soared above her head, soft, fine, shining, delicate as
milkweed-down and of a white that was beginning, near the shoulders, to
deepen to a pale rose. Angela's little body was as slender as a
flower-stem. Her limbs showed but the faintest of curves, her skin but
the faintest of tints. Almost transparent in the sunlight, she had in
the shadow the coloring of the opal, pale rose-pinks and pale
violet-blues. Her hair floated free to her shoulders; and that, more
than any other detail, seemed to accent the quality of faery in her
personality. In calm it clung to her head like a pale-gold mist; in
breeze it floated away like a pale-gold nimbus. It seemed as though a
shake of her head would send it drifting off - a huge thistle-down of
gold. Her eyes reflected the tint of whatever blue they gazed on,
whether it was the frank azure of the sky or the mysterious turquoise of
the sea. And yet their look was strangely intent. When she passed from
shadow to sunshine, the light seemed to dissolve her hair and
wing-edges, as though it were gradually taking her to itself.
"Oh, yes, Peachy," Lulu said, "Angela's wings must be a comfort to you.
You must live it all over again in her."
"I do!" answered Peachy. "I do." There was tremendous conviction in her
voice, as though she were defending herself from some silent accusation.
"But it isn't the same. It isn't. It can't be. Besides, I want to fly
The ripples in the cove grew to little waves, to big waves, to combers.
The women talked and the children played. Honey-Boy and Peterkin waded
out to their shoulders, dipped, and pretended to swim back. Angela flew
out to meet a wave bigger than the others, balanced on its crest. Wings
outspread, she fluttered back, descended when the crash came in a shower
of rainbow drops. She dipped and rose, her feathers dripping molten
silver, flew on to the advancing crest.
"Oh," Lulu sighed, "I do want a little girl. I threatened if this one
was a boy to drown it." "This one" proved to be a bundle lying on the
pine-needles at her side. The bundle stirred and emitted a querulous
protest. She picked it up and it proved to be a baby, just such another
sturdy little dark creature as Honey-Boy must have been. "Your mother
wouldn't exchange you for a million girls now," Lulu addressed him
fondly. "I pray every night, though, that the next one will be a girl."
"I want a girl, too," Clara remarked. "Well, we'll see next spring."
Clara had not been happy at the prospect of her first maternity, but she
was jubilant over her second.
"It will be nice for Angela, too," Peachy said, to have some little girl
to play with. Come, baby!" she called in a sudden access of tenderness.
Angela flew down from the tip of a billow, came fluttering and flying up
the beach. Once or twice, for no apparent reason, her wings fell dead,
sagged for a few moments; then her little pink, shell-like feet would
pad helplessly on the sand. Twice she dropped her pinions deliberately;
once to climb over a big root, once to mount a boulder that lay in her
path. "Don't walk, Angela!" Peachy called sharply at these times. "Fly!
Fly!" And obediently, Angela stopped, waited until the strength flowed
into her wings, started again. She reached the group of mothers, not by
direct flight, but a complicated method of curving, arching, dipping,
and circling. Peachy arose, balanced herself, caught her little daughter
in midair, kissed her. The women handed her from one to the other,
petting and caressing her.
Julia received her last. She sat with Angela in the curve of her arm,
one hand caressing the drooped wings. It was like holding a little wild
bird. With every breeze, Angela's wings opened. And always, hands, feet,
hair, feathers fluttered with some temperamental unrest.
The boys tiring of the waves, came scrambling in their direction.
Half-way up the beach, they too came upon the boulder in the path. It
was too high and smooth for them to climb, but they immediately set
themselves to do it. Peterkin pulled himself half-way up, only
immediately to fall back. junior stood for an instant imitatively
reaching up with his baby hands, then abandoning the attempt waddled off
after a big butterfly. Honey-Boy slipped and slid to the ground, but he
was up in an instant and at it again.
Angela fluttered with baby-violence. Julia opened her arms. The child
leaped from her lap, started half-running, half-flying, caught a seaward
going breeze, sailed to the top of the boulder. She balanced herself
there, gazing triumphantly down on Billy-Boy who, flat on his stomach,
red in the face, his black eyes bulging out of his head, still pulled
and tugged and strained.
"Honey-Boy's tried to climb that rock every day for three months," Lulu
boasted proudly. "He'll do it some day. I never saw such persistence. If
he gets a thing into his head, I can't do anything with him."
"Angela starts to climb it occasionally," Peachy said. "But, of course,
I always stop her. I'm afraid she'll hurt her feet."
Above the rock stretched the bough of a big pine. As she contemplated
it, a look of wonder grew in Angela's eyes, of question, of uncertainty.
Suddenly it became resolution. She spread her wings, bounded into the
air, fluttered upwards, and alighted squarely on the bough.
"Oh, Angela!" Peachy called anxiously. Then, joyously, "Look at my baby.
She'll be flying as high as we did in a few years. Oh, how I love to
think of that!"
She laughed in glee - and the others laughed with her. They continued to
watch Angela's antics, their faces growing more and more gay. Julia
alone did not smile; but she watched the exhibition none the less
Three years had brought some changes to the women of Angel Island; and
for the most part they were devastating changes. They were still
wingless. They wore long trailing garments that concealed their feet.
These garments differed in color and decoration, but they were alike in
one detail-floating, wing-like draperies hung from the shoulders.
Chiquita had grown so large as to be almost unwieldy. But her tropical
coloring retained its vividness, retained its breath-taking quality of
picturesqueness, retained its alluring languor. She sat now holding a
huge fan. Indeed, since the day that Honey had piled the fans on the
beach, Chiquita had never been without one in her hand. Scarlet, the
scarlet of her lost pinions, seemed to be her color. Her gown was
Lulu had not grown big, but she had grown round. That look of the
primitive woman which had made her strange, had softened and sobered.
Her beaute troublante had gone. Her face was, the face of a happy woman.
The maternal look in her eyes was duplicated by the married look in her
figure. She was always busy. Even now, though she chattered, she sewed;
her little fingers fluttered like the wings of an imprisoned bird.
Indeed, she looked like a little sober mother-bird in her gray and brown
draperies. She was the best housewife among them. Honey lacked no
Clara also had filled out; in figure, she had improved; her elfin
thinness had become slimness, delicately curved and subtly contoured.
Also her coloring had deepened; she was like a woman cast in gold. But
her expression was not pleasant. Her light, gray-green eyes had a
petulant look; her thin, red lips a petulant droop. She was restless;
something about her moved always. Either her long slender fingers
adjusted her hair or her long slender feet beat a tattoo. And ever her
figure shifted from one fluid pose to another. She wore jewels in her
elaborately arranged hair, jewels about her neck, on her wrists, on her
fingers. Her green draperies were embroidered in beads. She was, in
fact, always dressed, costumed is perhaps the most appropriate word. She
dressed Peterkin picturesquely too; she was always, studying the
illustrations in their few books for ideas. Clara was one of those women
at whom instinctively other women gaze - and gaze always with a
question in their eyes.
Peachy was at the height of her blonde bloom; all pearl and gold, all
rose and aquamarine. But something had gone out of her face -
brilliance. And something had come into it - pathos. The look of a
mischievous boy had turned to a wild gipsy look of strangeness, a look
of longing mixed with melancholy. In some respects there was more
history written on her than on any of the others. But it was tragic
history. At Angela's birth Peachy had gone insane. There had come times
when for hours she shrieked or whispered, "My wings! My wings! My
wings!" The devoted care of the other four women had saved her; she was
absolutely normal now. Her figure still carried its suggestion of a
potential, young-boy-like strength, but maternity had given a droop,
exquisitely feminine, to the shoulders. She always wore blue - something
that floated and shimmered with every move.
Julia had changed little; for in her case, neither marriage nor
maternity had laid its transmogrifying, touch upon her. Her deep
blue-gray eyes - of which the brown-gold lashes seemed like reeds
shadowing lonely lakes - had turned as strange as Peachy's; but it was a
different strangeness. Her mouth - that double sculpturesque ripple of
which the upper lip protruded an infinitesimal fraction beyond the lower
one - drooped like Clara's; but it drooped with a different expression.
She had the air of one who looks ever into the distance and broods on
what she sees there. Perhaps because of this, her voice had deepened to
a thrilling intensity. Her hair was pulled straight back to her neck
from the perfect oval of her face. It hung in a single, honey-colored
braid, and it hung to the very ground. She always wore white.
"Do you remember" - Chiquita began presently. Her lazy purring voice
grew soft with tenderness. The dreamy, unthinking Chiquita of four years
back seemed suddenly to peer through the unwieldy Chiquita of the
present - "how we used to fly - and fly - and fly - just for the love of
flying? Do you remember the long, bright day-flyings and the long, dark
"And sometimes how we used to drop like stones until we almost touched
the water," Lulu said, a sparkle in her cooing, friendly little voice.
"And the races! Oh, what fun! I can feel the rush of the air now."
"Over the water." Peachy flung her long, slim arms upward and a
delicious smile sent the tragedy scurrying from her sunlit face. "Do you
remember how wonderful it was at sunset? The sky heaving over us, shot
with gold and touched with crimson. The sea pulsing under us lined with
crimson and splashed with gold. And then the sunset ahead - that gold
and crimson hole in the sky. We used to think we could fly through it
some day and come out on another world. And sometimes we could not tell
where sea and sky joined. How we flew - on and on - farther each time -
on and on - and on. The risks we took! Sometimes I used to wonder if
we'd ever have the strength to get home. Yet I hated to turn back. I
hated to turn away from the light. I never could fly towards the east at
sunset, nor towards the west at sunrise. It hurt! I used to think, when
my time came to die, that I would fly out to sea - on and on till I
"I loved it most at noon," Chiquita said, "when the air was soft. It
smelled sweet; a mixture of earth and sea. I used to drift and float on
great seas of heat until I almost slept. That was wonderful; it was like
swimming in a perfumed air or flying in a fragrant sea."
"Oh, but the storms, Julia!" Lulu exclaimed. A wild look flared in her
face, wiped oft entirely its superficial look of domesticity. "Do you
remember the heavy, night-black cloud, the thunder that crashed through
our very bodies, the lightning that nearly blinded us, and the rain that
beat us almost to pieces?"
"Oh, Lulu!" Julia said; "I had forgotten that. You were wonderful in a
storm, How you used to shout and sing and leap through the air like a
wild thing! I used to love to watch you, and yet I was always afraid
that you would hurt yourself."
"I loved the moonlight most. I do now." The petulance went out of
Clara's eyes; dreams came into its place. "The cool softness of the air,
the brilliant sparkle of the stars! And then the magic of the moonlight!
Young child-moon, half-grown girl-moon, voluptuous woman-moon, sallow,
old-hag-moon, it was alike to me. Pete says I'm 'fey' in the moonlight.
He, says I'm Irish then."
"I loved the sunrise," said Julia. "I used to steal out, when you girls
were still sleeping, to fly by dawn. I'd go up, up, up. At first, it was
like a huge dewdrop - that morning world - then, colder and colder - it
was like a melted iceberg. But I never minded that cold and I loved the
clearness. It exhilarated me. I used to run races with the birds. I was
not happy until I had beaten the highest-flying of them all. Oh, it was
so fresh and clean then. The world seemed new-made every morning. I used
to feel that I'd caught the moment when yesterday became to-day. Then
I'd sink back through layer on layer of sunlight and warm,
perfume-laden, dew-damp breeze, down, down until I fell into my bed
again. And all the time the world grew warmer and warmer. And I loved
almost as well that instant of twilight when the world begins to fade. I
used to feel that I'd caught the moment when to-day had become
to-morrow. I'd fly as high as I could go then, too. Then I'd sink back
through layer on layer of deepening dusk, while one by one the stars
would flash out at me - down, down, down until my feet touched the
water. And all the time the air grew cooler and cooler."
"My wings! My wings!" Peachy did not shriek these words with maniacal
despair. She did not whisper them with dreary resignation. She breathed
them with the rapture of one who looks through a narrow, dark tunnel to
measureless reaches of sun-tinted cloud and sea.
"Do you remember the first time we ever saw them?" Lulu asked after a
long time. This was obviously a deliberate harking back to lighter
things. A gleam of reminiscence, both mischievous and tender, fired her
The others smiled, too. Even Peachy's face relaxed from the look of
tension that had come into it. "I often think that was the happiest
time," she sighed, "those weeks before they knew we were here. At least,
they knew and they didn't know. Ralph said that they all suspected that
something curious was going on - but that they were so afraid that the
others would joke about it, that no one of them would mention what was
happening to him. Do you remember what fun it was coming to the camp
when they were asleep? Do you remember how we used to study their faces
to find out what kind of people they were?"
"And do you remember" - Chiquita rippled a low laugh - "how we would
leap into the air if they stirred or spoke in their sleep? Once, Honey
started to wake up - and we were off over the water before he could get
his eyes open."
"Oh, but Honey told me that he heard us laugh that time," Lulu
explained. "He told the men the next day and, oh, how they joked him."
"And then," Chiquita went on, "once Billy actually did wake up. You were
bending over him, Julia. I remember we all kept as still as the dead.
And you - oh, Julia, you were wonderful - you did not even breathe. He
seemed to fade back into sleep again."
"He says now that I hypnotized him," Julia explained.
"Do you remember," Clara took it up, "that we even considered kidnapping
one of them? If we'd known what to do with him, I think we might have
"Yes," said Chiquita. "But I think it was just as well we didn't. We
wouldn't have carried it off well. There's something about them that's
terrifying. Do you remember that time we saved Honey from the shark, how
we trembled all the time we carried him through the air. He knew it, too
- I noticed how triumphantly he smiled."
"Honey told me once" - Lulu lowered her voice - "that it was the fact
that we trembled - that we seemed so much women, in spite of being
creatures of the air - that made him determine to capture us."
"Well, there's something about them that weakens you," Chiquita said in
a puzzled tone. "It's like a spell. At first I always felt quivery and
trembly if I stood near them."
"It's power," Julia explained.
"I used even to be afraid of their voices," Chiquita went on.
"Oh, so was I," Lulu agreed. "I felt as I did when I heard thunder for
the first time. It went through me. It made me shake. I was afraid, but
I wanted to hear it again."
"Do you remember the first time we saw them walk!" Clara said. Her face
twisted with the expression of a past loathing. "How it disgusted us! It
seemed to me the most hideous motion I had ever seen - so unnatural, so
ungraceful, so repellent. It took me a long time to get used to that.
And as for their running - "
"It's curious how that feeling still lingers in us," exclaimed Peachy.
"That contempt for the thing that walks. Occasionally Angela starts to
imitate the boys - it seems as if I would fly out of my skin with
horror. I shall always feel superior to Ralph, I know."
"Do you remember the first talks we ever had after we'd got our first
glimpse of them?" asked Clara. "How astonished we were - and half
frightened and yet - in a queer way - excited and curious?
"And after we got over our fright," Lulu carried the memories along,
"and had made up our minds we didn't care whether they discovered us or
not, what fun we had with them! How we played over the entire island and
yet it took them such a long time to discover us."
"Oh, they're awfully stupid about seeing or guessing things," Peachy
said disdainfully. "My mind always leaps way ahead of Ralph's."
"Do you remember that at first we used to have regular councils," Lulu
asked, "before - before - - "
"Before we agreed each to go her own way," Peachy finished it for her.
"All of us pitted against you, Julia." Chiquita sighed. "I often think
now, Julia, how you used to talk to us. How you used to beg us not to go
to the island. How you argued with us! The prophecies you made! They've
all come true. I can hear you now: 'Don't go to the island.' 'Come away
with me and we will fly back south before it is too late.' 'Come away
while you can!' 'In a little while it will be too late.' In a little
while I shall not be able to help you!"
"And how we fought you, Julia!" Clara said. "How we denied everything
you said, every one of us knowing in her heart that you were right!"
"But," Julia said, "later, I told you that I might not be able to help
myself, and you see I wasn't."
"Did they ever guess that we had quarrelled, I wonder?" Clara asked.
"Yes," Lulu answered eagerly. Honey guessed it. Now, wasn't that clever
"Not so very," Clara replied languidly. "I guessed that they had
quarrelled. And I had a strong suspicion," she added consciously, "that
it was about us."
"I wonder," Peachy said somberly, "what would have happened if we had
taken Julia's advice."
"Are you sorry, Peachy?" Julia asked.
"No, I'm not sorry exactly," Peachy answered slowly. "I have Angela, of
course. Are you sorry, Julia?"
"No," replied Julia.
"Julia," Peachy said, "what was it changed you? I have always wanted to
ask but I have never dared. What brought you to the island finally? What
made you give up the fight with us?"
The far-away look in Julia's eyes grew, if possible, more far-away. She
did not speak for a while. Then, "I'll tell you," she said simply. "It
is something that I have never told anybody but Billy. When you first
began to leave me to come to this island alone, I was very unhappy. And
I grew more and more unhappy. I missed flying with you. And especially
flying by night. Flying alone seemed melancholy. I came here at first,
only because I was driven by my loneliness. I said to myself that I'd
drift with the current. But that did not help any. You were all so
interested in your lovers that it made no difference whether I was with
you or not. I began to think that you no longer cared for me, that you
had out-grown me, that all my influence over you had vanished, that, if
I were out of the way, the one tie which held you to me would break and
you would go to these men. I grew more and more unhappy every instant.
That was not all. I was in love with Billy, but I did not know it. I
only knew that I was moody and strange and in desperate despair. And,
so, one day I decided to kill myself."
There was a faint movement in the group, but it was only the swish of
draperies as the four recumbent women came upright. They stared at
Julia. They did not speak. They seemed scarcely to breathe.
"One day, I flew up and up. Never before had I gone half so high. But I
flew deliberately higher and higher until I became cold and colder and
numb and frozen - until my wings stopped. And then - " She paused.
"What happened?" Clara asked breathlessly.
"I dropped. I dropped like a stone. But - but - the instant I let myself
go, something strange happened - a miracle of self-revelation. I knew
that I loved Billy, that I could not live in any world where he could
not come to me. And the instant that I realized that I loved him, I knew
also that I could not die. I tried to spread my wings but they would not
open. It was terrific. And that sense of despair, that my wings which
had always responded - would not - now - oh, that was hell. How I
fought! How I struggled! It was as though iron bands were about me. I
strained. I tore. Of course, all this was only a moment. But one thinks
a million things in a moment like that - one lives a thousand years. It
seemed an eternity. At last my wings opened and spread. They held. I
floated until I caught my breath. Then I dropped slowly. I threw myself
over the bough of a tree. I lay there."
There was an interval of intense silence.
"Did you faint?" Peachy asked in an awed voice.
"You wept, Julia?" Peachy said. "You!"
"I had not wept since my childhood. It was strange. It frightened me
almost as much as the fall. Oh, how fast the tears came - and in such
floods! Something melted and went away from me then. A softness came
over me. It was like a spell. I have never been the same creature since.
I cry easily now."
"Did you tell Billy?" Clara asked.
"He saw me," Julia answered.
"He saw - ." It came from her four listeners as from one woman.
"That's what changed him. That's what determined him to help capture us.
He said that he was afraid I would try it again. I wouldn't have,
Nobody spoke for a long time.
"Julia! It was Chiquita who broke the silence this time. There is
something I, too, have always wanted to ask you. But I have never dared
before. What was it tempted you to go into the Clubhouse that day? At
first you tried to keep us from going in. You never seemed to care for
any of the things they gave us. You threw away the fans and the slippers
and the scarfs. And you smashed your mirror."
"Billy asked me this same question once," Julia answered. "It was that
big diamond - the Wilmington 'Blue.' I caught a glimpse of it through
the doorway as it lay all by itself on the table, flashing in the
sunlight. I had never before in my life seen any thing that I really
wanted. But this was so exquisite, so chiseled, so tiny, so perfect,
There was so much fire and color in it. It seemed like a living
creature. I was enchanted by it. When I told Billy, he laughed. He said
that the lust for diamonds was a recognized earth-disease among
earth-people, especially earth-women. He said that many women had been
ruined by it. He said that it was a common saying among men that you
could catch any woman in a trap baited with diamonds. I have never got
over the sting of that. I blush always when I think of it. Because -
although I don't exactly understand why - it was not quite true in my
case. That is a thing which always bothers me in conversation with the
men. They talk about us as if they knew all about us. You'd think they'd
invented us. Not that we're not simple enough. We're perfectly simple,
but they've never bothered to study us. They say so many things about
us, for instance, that are only half true - and yet I don't know exactly
how to confute them. None of us would presume to say such things about
them. I'm glad," she ended with a sudden fierceness, "that I threw the
"Julia," and now it was Lulu who questioned, "why do you not marry Billy
when you love him so?" The seriousness of her tone, the warmth of
affection in her little brown face robbed this question of any
appearance of impertinence.
"Lulu," Julia answered simply, "I don't know why. Only that something
inside has always said, 'Wait!'"
"Well, you did well," Peachy said bitterly, for, at least, Billy loves
you just as much as at first. I don't see him racing over to the
Clubhouse the moment his dinner is eaten. I don't see him spending his
Sundays in long exploring tramps. I don't see him making plans to go off
into the interior for a week at a time."
"But he would be just like all the others, Julia," Clara exclaimed
carefully, "if you'd married him. Keep out of it as long as you can!"
"Don't ever marry him, Julia," Chiquita warned. "Keep your life a
"Marry him to-morrow, Julia," Lulu advised. "Oh, I cannot think what my
life would have been without Honey-Boy and Honey-Bunch."
"I shall marry Billy sometime," Julia said. "But I don't know when. When
that little inner voice stops saying, 'Wait!'"
"I wonder," Peachy questioned again, "what would have happened if - "
"It would have come out just the same way. Depend on that!" Chiquita
said philosophically. "It was our fate - the Great Doom that our people
used to talk of. And, after all, it's our own fault. Come to this island
we would and come we did! And this is the end of it - we - we sit
moveless from sun-up to sun-down, we who have soared into the clouds.
But there is a humorous element in it. And if I didn't weep, I could
laugh myself mad over it. We sit here helpless and watch these creatures
who walk desert us daily - desert us - creatures who flew - leave us
here helpless and alone."
"But in the beginning," Lulu interposed anxiously, "they did try to take
us with them. But it tired them so to carry us - for or that's - what in
effect they do."
"And there was one time just after we were married when it was all
wonderful," said Peachy. "I did not even miss the flying, for it seemed
to me that Ralph made up for the loss of my wings by his love and
service. Then, they began to build the New Camp and gradually everything
changed. You see, they love their work more than they do us. Or at least
it seems to interest them more."
"Why not?" Julia interpolated quietly. "We're the same all the time. We
don't change and grow. Their work does change and grow. It presents new
aspects every day, new questions and problems and difficulties, new
answers and solutions and adjustments. It makes them think all the time.
They love to think." She added this as one who announces a discovery,
long pondered over. "They enjoy thinking."
"Yes," Lulu agreed wonderingly, "that's true, isn't it? That never
occurred to me. They really do like thinking. How curious! I hate to
"I never think," Chiquita announced.
"I won't think," Peachy exclaimed passionately. "I feel. That's the way
"I don't have to think," Clara declared proudly. "I've something better
than thought-instinct and intuition."
Julia was silent.
"Julia is like them," Lulu said, studying Julia's absent face tenderly.
"She likes to think. It doesn't hurt, or bother, or irritate, or tire -
or make her look old. It's as easy for her as breathing. That's why the
men like to talk to her."
"Well," Clara remarked triumphantly, "I don't have to think in order to
have the men about me. I'm very glad of that."
This was true. The second year of their stay in Angel Island, the other
four women had rebuked Clara for this tendency to keep men about her -
"It is not necessary for us to think," said Peachy with a sudden,
spirited lift of her head from her shoulders. The movement brought back
some of her old-time vivacity and luster. Her thick, brilliant, springy
hair seemed to rise a little from her forehead. And under her draperies
that which remained of what had once been wings stirred faintly. "They
must think just as they must walk because they are earth-creatures. They
cannot exist without infinite care and labor. We don't have to think any
more than we have to walk; for we are air-creatures. And air-creatures
only fly and feel. We are superior to them."
"Peachy," Julia said again. Her voice thrilled as though some thought,
long held quiescent within her, had burst its way to expression. It rang
like a bugle. It vibrated like a violin-string. "That is the mistake
we've made all our lives; a mistake that has held us here tied to this
camp for or four our years;the idea that we are superior in some way,
more strong, more beautiful, more good than they. But think a moment!
Are we? True, we are as you say, creatures of the air. True, we were
born with wings. But didn't we have to come down to the earth to eat and
sleep, to love, to marry, and to bear our young? Our trouble is that - "
And just then, "Here they come!" Lulu cried happily.
Lulu's eyes turned away from the group of women. Her brown face had
lighted as though somebody had placed a torch beside it. The strings of
little dimples that her plumpness had brought in its wake played about
The trail that emerged from the jungle ran between bushes, and gradually
grew lower and lower, until it merged with a path shooting straight
across the sand to the Playground.
For a while the heads of the file of men appeared above the bushes; then
came shoulders, waists, knees; finally the entire figures. They strode
through the jungle with the walk of conquerors.
They were so absorbed in talk as not to realize that the camp was in
sight. Every woman's eye - and some subtle revivifying excitement
temporarily dispersed the discontent there - had found her mate long
before he remembered to look in her direction.
The children heard the voices and immediately raced, laughing and
shouting, to meet their fathers. Angela, beating her pinions in a very
frenzy of haste, arrived first. She fluttered away from outstretched
arms until she reached Ralph; he lifted her to his breast, carried her
snuggled there, his lips against her hair. Honey and Pete absently swung
their sons to their shoulders and went on talking. Junior, tired out by
his exertions, sat down plumply half-way. Grinning radiantly, he waited
for the procession to overtake him.
"Peachy," Julia asked in an aside, "have you ever asked Ralph what he
intends to do about Angela's wings? "
"What he intends to do?" Peachy echoed. "What do you mean? What can he
intend to do? What has he to say about them, anyway?"
"He may not intend anything," Julia answered gravely. "Still, if I were
you, I'd have a talk with him."
Time had brought its changes to the five men as to the five women; but
they were not such devastating changes.
Honey led the march, a huge wreath of uprooted blossoming plants hanging
about his neck. He was at the prime of his strength, the zenith of his
beauty and, in the semi-nudity that the climate permitted, more than
ever like a young wood-god. Health shone from his skin in a
copper-bronze that seemed to overlay the flesh like armor. Happiness
shone from his eyes in a fire-play that seemed never to die down. One
year more and middle age might lay its dulling finger upon him. But now
he positively flared with youth.
Close behind Honey came Billy Fairfax, still shock-headed, his blond
hair faded to tow, slimmer, more serious, more fine. His eyes ran ahead
of the others, found Julia's face, lighted up. His gaze lingered there
in a tender smile.
Just over Billy's shoulder, Pete appeared, a Pete as thin and nervous as
ever, the incipient black beard still prickling in tiny ink-spots
through a skin stained a deep mahogany. There was some subtle change in
Pete that was not of the flesh but of the spirit. Perhaps the look in
his face - doubly wild of a Celt and of a genius - had tamed a little.
But in its place had come a question: undoubtedly he had gained in
spiritual dignity and in humorous quality.
Ralph Addington followed Pete. And Ralph also had changed. True, he
retained his inalienable air of elegance, an elegance a little too
sartorial. And even after six years of the jungle, he maintained his
picturesqueness. Long-haired, liquid-eyed, still with a beard
symmetrically pointed and a mustache carefully cropped, he was more than
ever like a young girl's idea of an artist. And yet something different
had come into his face, The slight touch of gray in his wavy hair did
not account for it; nor the lines, netting delicately his long-lashed
eyes. The eyes themselves bore a baffled expression, half of revolt,
half of resignation; as one who has at last found the immovable
obstacle, who accepts the situation even while he rebels against it.
At the end of the line came Merrill, a doubly transformed man, looking
at the same time younger and handsomer. Bigger and even more muscular
than formerly, his eyes were wide open and sparkling, his mouth had lost
its rigidity of contour. His look of severity, of asceticism had
vanished. Nothing but his classic regularity remained and that had been
beautifully colored by the weather.
The five couples wound through the trail which led from the Playground
to the Camp, the men half-carrying their wives with one arm about their
waists and the other supporting them.
The Camp had changed. The original cabins had spread by an addition of
one or two or three to sprawling bungalow size. Not an atom of their
wooden structure showed. Blocks of green, cubes of color, only open
doorways and windows betrayed that they were dwelling-places. A tide of
tropical jungle beat in waves of green with crests of rainbow up to the
very walls. There it was met by a backwash of the vines which embowered
the cabins, by a stream of blossoms which flooded and cascaded down
The married ones stopped at the Camp. But Billy and Julia continued up
"How did the work go to-day, Honey?" Lulu asked in a perfunctory tone as
they moved away from the Playground.
"Fine!" Honey answered enthusiastically.
"You wait until you see Recreation Hall." He stopped to light his pipe.
"Lord, how I wish I had some real tobacco! It's going to be a corker.
We've decided to enlarge the plan by another three feet."
"Have you really?" commented Lulu. "Dear me, you've torn your shirt
"Yes," said Honey, puffing violently, "a nail. And we're going to have a
tennis court at one side not a little squeezed-up affair like this - but
a big, fine one. We're going to lay out a golf course, too. That will be
some job, Mrs. Holworthy D. Smith, and don't you forget it."
"Yes, I should think it would be," agreed Lulu. "Do you know, Honey,
Clara's an awful cat! She's dreadfully jealous of Peachy. The things she
says to her! She knows Pete's still half in love with her. Peachy
understands him on his art side as Clara can't. Clara simply hands it to
Pete if he looks at Peachy. Even when she knows that he knows, that we
all know, that she tried her best to start a flirtation with you."
"And to-day," Honey interrupted eagerly, "we doped out a scheme for a
series of canals to run right round the whole place - with gardens on
the bank. You see we can pipe the lake water and - - ."
"That will be great," said Lulu, but there was no enthusiasm in her
tone. "And really, Honey, Peachy's in a dreadful state of nerves. Of
course, she knows that Ralph is still crazy about Julia and always will
be, just because Julia's like a stone to him - oh, you know the kind of
a man Ralph is. The only woman you can depend on him to be faithful to
is the one that won't have him round. I don't think that bothers Peachy,
though. She adores Julia. If she could fly a little while in the
afternoon - an hour, say - I know it would cure her."
"Too bad. But, of course, we couldn't let you girls fly again. Besides,
I doubt very much if, after so many cuttings, your wings would ever grow
big enough. You don't realize it yourself, perhaps, but you're much more
healthy and normal without wings."
"I don't mind being without them so much myself" - Lulu's tone was a
little doubtful - "though I think they would help me with Honey-Boy and
Honey-Bunch. Sometimes - ." She did not finish.
"And then," Honey went on decidedly, "it's not natural for women to fly.
God never intended them to."
"It is wonderful," Lulu said admiringly, "how men know exactly what God
Honey roared. "If you'd ever heard the term sarcasm, my dear, I should
think you were slipping something over on me. In point of fact, we don't
know what God intended. Nobody does. But we know better than you; the
man's life broadens us."
"Then I should think - " Lulu began. But again she did not finish.
"We're going to make a tower of rocks on the central island of the
lake," Honey went on. "We'll drag the stones from the beach - those big,
beauty round ones. When it's finished, we're going to cover it with that
vine which has the scarlet, butterfly flowers. Pete says the reflections
in the water will be pretty neat."
"Really. It sounds charming. And, Honey, Chiquita is so lazy. Little
Junior runs wild. He's nearly two and she hasn't made a strip of
clothing for him yet. It's Frank's fault, though. He never notices
anything. I really think you men ought to do something about that."
"And then," Honey went on. But he stopped. "What's the use? " he
muttered under his breath. He subsided, enveloped himself in a cloud of
smoke and listened, half-amused, half-irritated, to Lulu's pauseless,
"My dear," Frank Merrill said to Chiquita after dinner, "the New Camp is
growing famously. Six months more and you will be living in your new
home. The others - Pete especially - are very much interested in
Recreation Hall. They have just worked out a new scheme for parks and
gardens. It is very interesting, though purely decorative. It offers
many absorbing problems. But, for my own part, I must confess I am more
interested in the library. It will be most gratifying to see all our
books ranged on shelves, classified and catalogued at last. It is a good
little library as amateur libraries go. The others speak again and again
of my foresight during those early months in taking care of the books.
We have many fine books - what people call solid reading - and a really
extraordinary collection of dictionaries. You see, many scholars travel
in the Orient, and they feel they must get up on all kinds of things. I
suggested to-day that we draw up a constitution for Angel Island. For by
the end of twenty years, there will be a third generation growing up
here. And then, the population will increase amazingly. Besides, it
offers many subjects for discussion in our evenings at the Clubhouse,
etc., etc., etc."
Holding the tired-out little junior in her lap, Chiquita rocked and
fanned herself and napped - and woke - and rocked and fanned herself and
"Oh, don't bore me with any talk about the New Camp," Clara was saying
to Pete. "I'm not an atom interested in it."
"But you're going to live there sometime," Pete remonstrated, wrinkling
in perplexity his fiery, freckled face.
"Yes, but I don't feel as if I were. It's all so far away. And I never
see it. If I had anything to say about it, I might feel differently. But
I haven't. So please don't inflict it on me."
"But it's the inspiration of building it for you women," Pete said
gravely, "that makes us men work like slaves. We're only doing it for
your sake. It is the expression of our love and admiration for you."
"Oh, slush!" exclaimed Clara flippantly, borrowing from Honey's
vocabulary. "You're building it to please yourself. Besides, I don't
want to be an inspiration for anything."
"All right, then," Pete said in an aggrieved tone. "But you are an
inspiration, just the same. It is the chief vocation of women." He moved
over to the desk and took up a bunch of papers there.
"Oh, are you going to write again this evening?" Clara asked in a burst
"Yes." Pete hesitated. "I thought I'd work for an hour or two and then
I'd go out."
Clara groaned. "If you leave me another minute of this day, I shall go
mad. I've had nothing but housework all the morning and then a little
talk with the girls, late this afternoon. I want something different
"Well, let me read the third act to you," Pete offered.
"No, I don't feel like being read to. I want some excitement."
Pete sighed, and put his manuscript down.
"All right. Let's go in swimming. But I'll have to leave you after an
"Are you going to see Peachy?" Clara demanded shrilly.
"No." Pete's tone was stern. "I'm going to the Clubhouse."
"How has everything gone to-day, Billy?" Julia asked, as they sat
looking out to sea.
"Rather well," Billy answered. "We were all in a working mood and all in
good spirits. We've done more to-day than we've done in any three days
before. At noon, while we were eating our lunch, I showed them your
"You didn't say - ."
"I didn't peep. I promised, you know. I let them assume that they were
mine. They went wild over them, threw all kinds of fits. You see, Pete
has a really fine artistic sense that's going to waste in all these
minor problems of construction and drainage. I flatter myself that I,
too, have some taste. Addington and Honey are both good workmen - that
is, they work steadily under instruction. Merrill's only an inspired
plumber, of course. Pete and I have been feeling for a long time that we
wanted to do something more creative, more esthetic. This is just the
thing we needed. I'm glad you thought it out; for I was beginning to
grow stale. I sometimes wonder what will happen when the New Camp is
entirely built and there's nothing else to do."
Billy's voice had, in spite of his temperamental optimism, a dull note
of unpleasant anticipation.
"There'll be plenty to do after that." Julia smiled reassuringly. "I'm
working on a plan to lay out the entire island. That will take years and
years and years. Even then you'll need help."
"That, my beloved," Billy said, "until the children grow up, is just
what we can't get - help."
Julia was silent.
"Julia," he went on, after an interval, in which neither spoke, "won't
you marry me? I'm lonely."
The poignant look - it was almost excruciating now - came into Julia's
"Not now, Billy," she answered.
"And yet you say you love me!"
The sadness went. Julia's face became limpid as water, bright as light,
warm as flame. "I love you," she said. "I love you! I love you!" She
went on reiterating these three words. And with every iteration, the
thrill in her voice seemed to deepen. "And, Billy - ."
"I'm not quite sure when - but I know I'm going to marry you some time."
"I'll wait, then," Billy promised. "As long as I know you love me, I can
wait until - the imagination of man has not conceived the limit yet."
"Well, how have you been to-day?" Ralph asked. But before Peachy could
speak, he answered himself in a falsetto voice that parodied her round,
clear accents, I want to fly! I want to fly! I want to fly!" His tone
was not ill-tempered, however; and his look was humorously a
affectionate, as one who has asked the same question many times and
received the same answer.
"I do want to fly, Ralph," Peachy said listlessly. "Won't you let me?
Oh, please let my wings grow again?"
Ralph shook his head inflexibly. "Couldn't do it, my dear. It's not
womanly. The air is no place for a woman. The earth is her home."
"That's not argument," Peachy asserted haughtily. "That's statement. Not
that I want to argue the question. My argument is unanswerable. Why did
we have wings, if not to fly. But I don't want to quarrel - ." Her voice
sank to pleading. "I'd always be here when you came back. You'd never
see me flying. It would not prevent me from doing my duty as your wife
or as Angela's mother. In fact, I could do it better because it would
make me so happy and well. After a while, I could take Angela with me.
Oh, that would be rapture!" Peachy's eyes gleamed.
Ralph shook his head. "Couldn't think of it, my dear. The clouds are no
place for my wife. Besides, I doubt if your wings would ever grow after
the clipping to which we've submitted them. Now, put something on, and
I'll carry you down on the beach."
"Tell me about the New Camp, and what you did to-day!" Peachy asked,
after an interval in which she visibly struggled for control.
"Oh, Lord, ask anything but that," Addington exclaimed with a sudden
gust of his old irritability. "I work hard enough all day. When I get
home, I want to talk about something else. It rests me not to think of
"But, Ralph," Peachy entreated, "I could help you. I know I could. I
have so many ideas about things. You know Pete says I'm a real artist.
It would interest me so much if you would only talk over the building
plans with me."
"I don't know that I am particularly interested in Pete's opinion of
your abilities," Addington rejoined coldly. "My dear little girl," he
went on, palpably striving for patience and gentleness, "there's nothing
you could do to help me. Women are too impractical. This is a man's
work, besides. By the way, after we've had our little outing, I'll leave
you with Lulu. Honey and Pete and I are going to meet at the Clubhouse
to work over some plans."
"All right," Peachy said. She added, "I guess I won't go out, after all.
I feel tired. I think I'll lie down for a while."
"Anything I can do for you, dear?" Addington asked tenderly as he left.
"Nothing, thank you." Peachy's voice was stony. Then suddenly she pulled
herself upright on the couch. "Oh - Ralph - one minute. I want to talk
to you about Angela. Her wings are growing so fast."
"Where's Peachy?" Julia asked casually the next afternoon.
"I've been wondering where she was, too," Lulu answered. "I think she
must have slept late this morning. I haven't seen her all day."
"Is Angela with the children now?" Julia went on.
"I suppose so," Lulu replied. She lifted herself from the couch. Shading
her hands, she studied the group at the water's edge. Honey-Boy and
Peterkin were digging wells in the sand. Junior making futile imitative
movements, followed close at their heels. Near the group of women,
Honey-Bunch crept across the mat of pine-needles, chasing an elusive
sunbeam. "No, she's not there."
"Now that I think of it, Angela didn't come to play with Peterkin this
morning," said Clara. "Generally she comes flying over just after
"You don't suppose Peachy's ill," asked Chiquita, "or Angela."
"Oh, no!" Lulu answered. "Ralph would have told one of us."
"Here she comes up the trail now," Chiquita exclaimed. "Angela's with
"Yes - but what's the matter?" Lulu cried.
"She's all bent over and she's staggering."
"She's crying," said Clara, after a long, intent look.
"Yes," said Lulu. "She's crying hard. And look at Angela - the darling!
She's trying to comfort her."
Peachy was coming slowly towards them; slowly because, although both
hands were on the rail, she staggered and stumbled. At intervals, she
dropped and crawled on hands and knees. At intervals, convulsions of
sobbing shook her, but it was voiceless sobbing. And those silent
cataclysms, taken with her blind groping progress, had a sinister
quality. Lulu and Julia tottered to meet her. "What is it, oh, what is
it, Peachy?" they cried.
Peachy did not reply immediately. She fought to control herself. "Go
down to the beach, baby," she said firmly to Angela. "Stay there until
mother calls you. Fly away!"
The little girl fluttered irresolutely. "Fly away, dear!" Peachy
repeated. Angela mounted a breeze and made off, whirling, circling,
dipping, and soaring, in the direction of the water. Once or twice, she
paused, dropped and, bounding from earth to air, turned her frightened
eyes back to her mother's face. But each time, Peachy waved her on.
Angela joined Honey-Boy and Peterkin. For a moment she poised in the
air; then she sank and began languidly to dig in the sand.
"I couldn't let her hear it," Peachy said. "It's about her. Ralph - ."
She lost control of herself for a moment; and now her sobs had voice. "I
asked him last night about Angela and her flying. I don't exactly know
why I did. It was something you said to me yesterday, Julia, that put it
into my head. He said that when she was eighteen, he was going to cut
her wings just as he cut mine."
There came clamor from her listeners. "Cut Angela's wings!" "Why?" "What
Peachy shook her head. "I don't know yet why, although he tried all
night, to make me understand. He said that he was going to cut them for
the same reason that he cut mine. He said that it was all right for her
to fly now when she was a baby and later when she was a very young girl,
that it was 'girlish' and 'beautiful' and 'lovely' and 'charming' and
'fascinating' and - and - a lot of things. He said that he could not
possibly let her fly when she became a woman, that then it would be
'unwomanly' and 'unlovely' and 'uncharming' and 'unfascinating.' He said
that even if he were weak enough to allow it, her husband never would. I
could not understand his argument. I could not. It was as if we were
talking two languages. Besides, I could scarcely talk, I cried so. I've
cried for hours and hours and hours."
"Sit down, Peachy," Julia advised gently. "Let us all sit down." The
women sank to their couches. But they did not lounge; they continued to
sit rigidly upright. "What are you going to do, Peachy?"
"I don't know. But I'll throw myself into the ocean with Angela in my
arms before I'll consent to have her wings cut. Why, the things he said.
Lulu, he said that Angela might marry Honey-Boy, as they were the
nearest of age. He said that Honey-Boy would certainly cut her wings,
that he, no more than Honey, could endure a wife who flew. He said that
all earth-men were like that. Lulu, would you let your child do - do -
that to my child?"
Lulu's face had changed - almost horribly. Her eyes glittered between
narrowed lids. Her lips had pulled away from each other, baring her
teeth. "You tell Ralph he's mistaken about my son," she ground out.
"That's what I told him," Peachy went on in a breaking voice. "But he
said you wouldn't have anything to do or say about it. He said that
Honey-Boy would be trained in these matters by his father, not by his
mother. I said that you would fight them both. He asked me what chance
you would have against your husband and your son. He - he - he always
spoke as if Honey-Boy were more Honey's child than yours, and as though
Angela were more his child than mine. He said that he had talked this
question over with the other men when Angela's wings first began to
grow. He said that they made up their minds then that her wings must be
cut when she became a woman. I besought him not to do it - I begged, I
entreated, I pleaded. He said that nothing I could say would change him.
I said that you would all stand by me in this, and he asked me what we
five could do against them. He, called us five tottering females. Oh, it
grew dreadful. I shrieked at him, finally. As he left, he said,
'Remember your first day in the Clubhouse, my dear! That's my answer.'"
She turned to Clara. "Clara, you are going to bear a child in the
spring. It may be a girl. Would you let son of mine or any of these
women clip her wings? Will you suffer Peterkin to clip Angela's wings?"
Clara's whole aspect had fired. Flame seemed burst from her gray-green
eyes, sparks to shoot to from her tawny head. "I would strike him dead
Peachy turned to Chiquita. The color had poured into Chiquita's face
until her full brown eyes glared from a purple mask. "You, too,
Chiquita. You may bear girl-children. Oh, will you help me?"
"I'll help you," Chiquita said steadily. She added after a pause, "I
cannot believe that they'll dare, though."
"Oh, they'll dare anything," Peachy said bitterly. Earth-men are devils.
What shall we do, Julia? she asked wearily.
Julia had arisen. She stood upright. Curiously, she did not totter. And
despite her shorn pinions, she seemed more than ever to tower like some
Winged Victory of the air. Her face ace glowed with rage. As on that
fateful day at the Clubhouse, it was as though a fire had been built in
an alabaster vase. But as they looked at her, a rush of tears wiped the
flame from her eyes. She sank back again on the couch. She put her hands
over her face and sobbed. "At last," she said strangely. "At last! At
last! At last!"
"What shall we do, Julia?" Peachy asked stonily.
"Rebel!" answered Julia.
"Refuse to let them cut Angela's wings."
"Oh, I would not dare open the subject with Ralph," Peachy said in a
terror-stricken voice. "In the mood he's in, he'd cut her wings
"I don't mean to tell him anything about it," Julia replied. "Rebel in
secret. I mean - they overcame us once by strategy. We must beat them
now by superior strategy."
"You don't really mean anything secret, do you, Julia?" Lulu
remonstrated. "That wouldn't be quite fair, would it?"
And curiously enough, Julia answered in the exact words that Honey had
used once. "Anything's fair in love or war - and this is both. We can't
be fair. We can't trust them. We trusted them once. Once is enough for
"But how, Julia?" Peachy asked. Her voice had now a note of
querulousness in it. "How are we going to rebel?"
Julia started to speak. Then she paused. "There's something I must ask
you first. Tell me, all of you, what did you do with your wings when the
men cut them off?"
The rage faded out of the four faces. A strange reticence seemed to blot
out expression. The reticence changed to reminiscence, to a deep
Lulu spoke first. "I thought I was going to keep my wings as long as I
lived. I always thought of them as something wonderful, left over from a
happier time. I put them away, done up in silk. And at first I used to
look at them every day. But I was always sad afterwards - and - and
gradually, I stopped doing it. Honey hates to come home and find me sad.
Months went by - I only looked at them occasionally. And after a while,
I did not look at them at all. Then, one day, after Honey built the
fireplace for me, I saw that we needed something - to - to - to sweep
the hearth with. I tried all kinds of things, but nothing was right.
Then, suddenly, I remembered my wings. It had been two years since I'd
looked at them. And after that long time, I found that I didn't care so
much. And so - and so - one day I got them out and cut them into little
brooms for the hearth. Honey never said anything about it - but I knew
he knew. Somehow - ." A strange expression came into the face of the
unanalytic Lulu. "I always have a feeling that Honey enjoys using my
wings about the hearth."
Julia hesitated. "What did you do, Chiquita?"
"Oh, I had all Lulu's feeling at first, of course. But it died as hers
did. You see this fan. You have often commented on how well I've kept it
all these years - I've mended it from month to month with feathers from
my own wings. The color is becoming to me - and Frank likes me to carry
a fan. He says that it makes him think of a country called Spain that he
always wanted to visit when he was a youth."
"And you, Clara?" Julia asked gently.
"Oh, I went through," Clara replied, "just what Lulu and Chiquita did.
Then, one day, I said to myself, 'What's the use of weeping over a, dead
thing?' I made my wings into wall-decorations. You're right about Honey,
Lulu." For a moment there was a shade of conscious coquetry in Clara's
voice. "I know that it gives Pete a feeling of satisfaction - I don't
exactly know why (unless it's a sense of having conquered) - to see my
wings tacked up on his bedroom walls."
Peachy did not wait for Julia to put the question to her. "As soon as I
could move, after they freed us from the Clubhouse, I threw mine into
the sea. I knew I should go mad if I kept them where I could see them
every day. Just to look at them was like a sharp knife going through my
heart. One night, while Ralph was asleep, I crawled out of the house on
my hands and knees, dragging them after me. I crept down to the beach
and threw them into the water. They did not sink - they floated. I
stayed until they drifted out of sight. The moon was up. It shone on
them. Oh, the glorious blue of them - and the glitter - the - the - ."
But Peachy could not go on.
"What did you do with yours, Julia?" Lulu asked at last.
"I kept them until last night," Julia answered.
Among the ship's stuff was a beautiful carved chest. It was packed with
linen. Billy said it was some earth-girl's wedding outfit. I took
everything out of the chest and put my wings in it. Folded carefully,
they just fitted. I used to brood over them every night before I went to
bed. Oh, they were wonderful in the dark - as if the chest were full of
white fire. Many times I've waked up in the middle of the night and gone
to look at them. I don't know why, but I had to do it. After a while, it
hurt me so much that I made up my mind to lock the chest forever; for I
always wept. I could not help it."
Julia wept now. The tears poured down her cheeks. But she went on.
"After yesterday's talk, I thought this situation over for a long time.
Then I went to the chest, took out my wings, brought them downstairs and
- and - and - ."
"What?" somebody whispered.
"Burned them!" Julia's deep voice swelled on the word "burned" as though
she still felt the scorching agony of that moment.
For a long moment, nobody spoke.
Julia asked their question for them. "Do you want to know why I did it?"
And without waiting, she answered, "Because I wanted to mark in some way
the end of my desire to fly. We must stop wanting to fly, we women. We
must stop wasting our energy brooding over what's past. We must stop it
at once. Not only that but - for Angela's sake and for the sake of all
girl-children who will be born on this island - we must learn to walk."
"Learn to walk!" Peachy repeated. "Julia, have you gone mad? We have
always held out against this degradation. We must continue to do so."
Again came that proud lift of her shoulders, the vibrant stir of
wing-stumps. That would lower us to a level with men."
"But are we lowering ourselves?" Julia asked. Are they really on a lower
level? Isn't the earth as good as the air?"
"It's better, Julia," Lulu said unexpectedly. "The earth's a fine place.
It's warm and homelike. Things grow there. There's nothing in the air."
"There are the stars," murmured Peachy.
"Yes," said Julia with a soft tenderness, "but we never reached them."
"The air-life may not have been better or finer," Peachy continued,
"but, somehow, it seemed clearer and purer. The earth's such a cluttered
place. It's so full of things. You can hardly see it for the stuff
that's on it. From above it seems beautiful, but near - ."
"Yet, it is on the earth that we must live - and that Angela must live,"
Julia interpolated gently.
"But what is the use of our learning to walk?" Peachy demanded.
"To teach Angela how to walk and all the other girl-children that are
coming to us."
"But I am afraid," Peachy said anxiously, that if Angela learned to
walk, she would forget how to fly."
"On the contrary," Julia declared, "she would fly better for knowing how
to walk, and walk better for knowing how to fly."
"I don't see it," interposed Clara emphatically. "I don't see what we
get out of walking or what Angela will get out of it. Suppose we learned
to walk? The men would stop helping us along. We'd lose the appeal of
"But what is there about what you call 'the appeal of helplessness' that
makes it worth keeping?" Julia asked, smiling affectionately into
Clara's eyes. "Why shouldn't we lose it?"
"Why, because," Clara exclaimed indignantly, "because - because - why,
because," she ended lamely. Then, with one of her unexpected bursts of
mental candor, "I'm sure I don't know why," she admitted, "except that
we have always appealed to them for that reason. Then again," she took
up her argument from another angle, "if we learn to walk, they won't
wait on us any more. They may even stop giving us things. As it is now,
they're really very generous to us."
The others smiled with varying degrees of furtiveness. Pete, as they all
knew, could always placate an incensed Clara by offering her some loot
of the homeward way: a bunch of flowers, a handful of nuts, beautifully
colored pebbles, shells with the iridescence still wet on them. She soon
tired of these toys, but she liked the excitement of the surprise.
"Generous to us!" Chiquita burst out - and this was as unexpected as
Lulu's face-about. "Well, when you come to that, they're never generous
to us. They make us pay for all they give us. They seem generous - but
they aren't really - any more than we are."
"They are far from generous," said Peachy. "They are ungenerous. They're
tyrants. They're despots. See how they took advantage of our innocence
and ignorance of earth-conditions."
"I protest." A note that they had never heard from Julia made steel of
the thrilling melody of her voice. "You must know that is not true!" she
said in an accusing voice. "Be fair to them! Tell the truth to
yourselves! If they took advantage of our innocence and ignorance, it
was we who tempted them to it in the first place. As for our innocence
and ignorance - you speak as, if they were beautiful or desirable. We
were innocent and ignorant of earth-conditions because we were too proud
to learn about them, because we always assumed that we lowered ourselves
by knowing anything about them. Our mistake was that we learned to fly
before we learned to walk."
"But, Julia, what are we going to do about Angela?" Peachy asked
"I'm coming to that presently," Julia answered. "But before - I want to
ask you a question. Do you remember the big cave in the northern reef -
the one we used to hide in?"
"Oh, I remember," Lulu said, "perfectly."
"Did you ever tell Honey about it?" Julia turned to her directly.
"No. Why, we promised never to tell, didn't we? In case we ever needed a
place of refuge - ."
"Have any of you ever told about it?" Julia turned to the others. "Think
carefully! This is important."
"I never have told," Peachy said wearily. "But about Angela - ."
"Have you, Chiquita?" Julia interrupted with a strange insistence.
"I have never thought of it from that day to this," Chiquita answered.
"Nor I," replied Clara. "I'm not sure that I could go to it now. Could
"Oh, yes," Julia answered eagerly, "I've - ." She stopped abruptly. "But
now I want to talk to you, and I want you to listen carefully. I am
going to tell you why I think we should learn to walk. It is, in brief,
for Angela's sake and for the sake of every girl-child that is born on
this island. For a long time, you will think that I am talking about
other things. But you must be patient. I have seen this situation coming
ever since Angela's wings began to grow. I could not hurry it - but I
knew it must come. Many nights I have lain awake, planning what I should
say to you when the time came. The time has come - and I am going to say
it. It is a long, long speech that I shall deliver; and I am going to
speak very plainly. But you must not get angry - for you know how much I
love you and how much I love your children.
"I'm going back to our young girlhood, to the time when our people were
debating the Great Flight. We thought that we were different from them
all, we five, that we were more original and able and courageous. And we
were different. For when our people decided to go south to the
Snowlands, the courage of rebellion grew in us and we deserted in the
night. Do you remember the wonderful sense of freedom that came to us,
and how the further north we flew, the stronger it became? When we found
these islands, it seemed to us that they must have been created
especially for us. Here, we said, we would live always, free from
earth-ties - five incorruptible air-women.
"Then the men came. I won't go into all that. We've gone over it
hundreds and hundreds of times, just as we did this afternoon, playing
the most pathetic game we know - the do-you-remember game. But after
they came, we found that we were not free from earth-ties. For the Great
Doom overtook us and we fell in love. Then came the capture. And we lost
She paused a moment.
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