Read CHAPTER XXXV - AND CLANGING CARS of Mr. Achilles, free online book, by Jennette Lee, on

He looked up into the darkness and waited. He would let her sleep a minute... there was little danger now. The city waited, over there, with its low lights; and the friendly night shut them in. Before the morning dawned he should bring her home safe home.... A kind of simple pride held him, and his heart leaped a little to the stars and sang with them as he squatted in the low grass, keeping guard.

Presently he leaned and touched her.

She started with a shiver and sprang up, rubbing her eyes and crying out, “I had a dream ” she said softly “a beautiful dream!” Then her eyes caught the stars and blinked to them through dusty sleep and she turned to him with swift cry, “You’re here!” she said. “It’s not a dream! It’s you!”

And Achilles laughed out. “We’re going home,” he said, “when you’re rested a little.”

“But I’m rested now!” she cried. “Come!” She sprang to her feet, and they journeyed again through the night. About them, the plain breathed deep sleeping power and the long road stretched from the west to the east and brought them home.

Each step, the city lights grew larger, and sparkled more, and spread apart farther, and a low rumble came creeping on the plain jarring with swift jolts the clang of cars and lifting life... and, in the distance, a line of light ran fire swiftly on the air, and darted, red and green, and trailed again in fire... and Achilles’s finger pointed to it. “That fire will take us home,” he said.

The child’s eye followed the flashing cars and she smiled out. The first light of the city’s rim touched her face.

“Just a little farther!” said Achilles.

“But I am not tired!” said the child, and she ran a little, beside him, on the stone pavement, her small shoes clumping happily.

Achilles lifted a swift hand to a waiting car. The car clanged its gone impatient. A big conductor reached down his hand to the child. The bell clanged again and they were off “Clang-clang, clear the track! Betty Harris is going home This is the people’s carriage Going home! Going home! Clear the track clang-clang!” Through the blinking city streets they rode. Safe among the friendly houses, and the shops and the stores, and the people sleeping behind their blinds all the people who had loved the child and scanned the paper for her, every day and asked, “Is Betty Harris found?"... Going home! Going home!... They would waken in the morning and read the news and shout across the way “She’s been found yes a Greek! He brought her home! Thank God. She’s found!”

And little Betty Harris, leaning against the great shoulder beside her, nodded in the car, and dreamed little dreams and looked about her hazily.

The conductor came and stood in front of them with extended hand, and rang the fares, and cast an indifferent, kindly glance at the Greek and his child travelling by night.... He did not guess the “scoop” that his two little nickels rang out. The child with roughened hair and clumsy, hanging shoes, was nothing to him nor to the policeman that boarded the car at the next corner and ran his eye down its empty length to the Greek, sitting erect with the child sleeping beside him her dark, tousled head against his arm.

The conductor came again, and touched Achilles on the shoulder and bent to him. “You change here,” he said. He was pointing to a car across the square “You take that,” he said. “You understand?” He shouted a little because the man was a foreigner and dark but his tone was friendly. And Achilles got to his feet, guiding the sleepy child down the rib-floored car that shook beneath them.... And the conductor and policeman watched the two figures vanish through the door and smiled to each other a friendly smile at foreign folks who travel in strange ways and go among us with eager, intent faces fixed on some shining goal we cannot see... with the patience of the centuries leaning down to them, and watching them.