The Student Vagabond

All day Niobe sat and sulked by the edge of the pool because Dion had gone away into the mountains and would not return until Autumn. At first she had sobbed and threw herself on the ground and pulled out tufts of grass angrily. Then a beautiful blue butterfly had alighted on a thistle and she had watched it absorbed. For a moment a catapillar's struggle with an ant amused her. Bending over the pool, Niobe combed out her long black hair and admired her small tan shoulders. She had even twisted a garland of lacy white flowers which now lay crumpled in the grass. She pulled out a sweet root to nibble and dabbled her toes in the water, fretting about Dion and why he had gone away.

The afternoon was hot. When Niobe put her ear to the ground she could hear the sound of teeming life even in the grass. From the mountains great waves of heat rolled and collided in the valleys, and the whole plain was shimmering hot and droway with the metallic whirr of crickets. Insensate she merged with the life all around her, and slept remembering her parents and the day Dion had come to take her away, and the dances around the coremonial fires and the eating and drinking. Endless dreamy days they had lived together by the side of the pool that mirrored the rising purple peaks and the changing sky. Three days ago a strange silent man had come out of the south, and made signs to Dion from the other side of the pool. That night Dion told her that he must go; she had consented, and he was gone.

The Vagabond's spirit slid down the scale like a planist's finger on a descending glissando. It sunk back into reality on the Esplanade where the crowd was chattering and chewing. Infinitely far up over in the east, a little star burned and its light pierced the haze and noise like a burnished steel point. The Vagabond stole away softly and followed it.