The priest ventured some conversation with the woman of the house.
“Do you think will Kevin live, Father?”
“He should have more courage,” the Friar said.
“We will all have more courage now that you have read over him.”
“Keep the faith. It is all in the hands of God. It is only what is pleasing to Him that will come to pass.”
“Blessed be His Holy Name.” The woman inclined her head as she spoke the words. The priest rose to go.
The young girl came out of the room. “Kevin will live,” she said. “He spoke to me.” Her eyes were shining as she gazed at her mother.
“Could you tell what words he spoke?”
“I could. He said, ’In the month of April, when the water runs clear in the river, I will be playing the fideog.’ That is what Kevin said.”
“When the river is clear—playing the fideog,” the elder woman repeated, some look of trouble, almost terror, in her face. “The cross of Christ between him and that fideog!”
The priest was moving to the door and I followed. As I did so I got a glimpse, through the partly open room door, of the invalid. I saw the long, pallid, nervous-looking face of a young man on the pillow. A light fell on his brow, and I thought it had the height, and the arch, the good shape sloping backward to the long head, of a musician. The eyes were shining with an unnatural brightness. It was the face of an artist, an idealist, intensified, idealised, by illness, by suffering, by excitement, and I wondered if the vision which Kevin Hooban had of playing the fideog by the river, when it ran clear in April, were a vision of his heaven or his earth.
We left the house. Patch Keetly was taking the loop from a trace as he harnessed the mare in the yellow light of a stable lantern. We mounted the car. The groups of men drew about us, their movements again sounding like the shuffling of shy animals on the sod, and they broke silence for the first time.
There was more said about Kevin Hooban. From various allusions, vague and unsubstantial, little touches in the kind, musical voices, I gathered that they believed him to be under the influence of the Good People. The sense of mystery and ill-omen came back to me, and I carried away a memory of the dark figures of the people grouped about the lonely lighted house, standing there in sorrow for the flute-player, the grass at their feet sparkling with frost.
Obeying a domestic mandate, Padna wrapped a pair of boots in paper and took them to the shoemaker, who operated behind a window in a quiet street.
The shoemaker seemed to Padna a melancholy man. He wore great spectacles, had a white patch of forehead, and two great bumps upon it. Padna concluded that the bumps had been encouraged by the professional necessity of constantly hanging his head over his knees.