Mother! There was another topic! Kirk didn’t even know she was coming home! The talk went off on a new angle, and plan followed plan, till Ken rose and announced that he was fairly starved.
“I’m worn to a wraith,” said he. “I haven’t had the time or the heart for a decent dinner since some time in the last century. Bring out the entire contents of the larder, Phil, and let’s have a celebration.”
Next morning, while the dew still hung in the hollows, Kirk got up and dressed himself without waking Ken. He tiptoed out into the new day, and made his way across the cool, mist-hung meadow to the Maestro’s hedge. For an idea had been troubling him; it had waked with him, and he went now to make a restoration.
All was quiet in the garden. The first fallen leaves rustled beneath Kirk’s feet as he went up the paved path and halted beside the dry fountain. He sat down cross-legged on the coping, with his chin in his hands, and turned his face to the wind’s kiss and the gathering warmth of the sun. Something stirred at the other side of the pool—a blown leaf, perhaps; but then a voice remarked:
“Morning, shipmate.” Kirk sprang up.
“You’re just who I wanted to see,” he said; “and I thought you might be wanting to take a walk in the garden, early.”
“You thought right.”
They had come toward each other around the pool’s rim, and met now at the cracked stone bench where two paths joined. Kirk put his hand through Martin’s arm. He always rather liked to touch people while he talked to them, to be sure that they remained a reality and would not slip away before he had finished what he wanted to say.
“What brings you out so early, when you only fetched port last night?” Martin inquired, in his dry voice.
“I wanted to talk to you,” Kirk said, “about that song.”
“What, about the hat?”
“No, not that one. The birthday one about the roses. You see, the Maestro gave it to me on my birthday, because he said he thought you didn’t need it any more. But you’re here, and you do. It’s your song, and I oughtn’t to have it. So I came to give it back to you,” said Kirk.
“I see,” said Martin.
“So please take it,” Kirk pursued, quite as though he had it in his pocket, “and I’ll try to forget it.”
“I don’t know,” said Martin. “The Maestro loves you now just about as much as he loved me when I was your size. His heart is divided—so let’s divide the song, too. It’ll belong to both of us. You—you made it rather easier for me to come back here; do you know that?”
“Why did you stay away so long?” Kirk asked.
Martin kicked a pebble into the basin of the pool, where it rebounded with a sharp click.
“I don’t know,” he said, after a pause. “It was very far away from the garden—those places down there make you forget a lot. And when the Maestro gave up his public life and retired, word trickled down to the tropics after a year or so that he’d died. And there’s a lot more that you wouldn’t understand, and I wouldn’t tell you if you could.”