There was a great porch at the rear of the rooms, with locust-trees in the yard below, and Nora had already put flowers in pots about it, to make a “nearly garden,” she explained. Here, for over a month, Katrine enjoyed the homemaking; the arranging of her Paris belongings; the transformation of the shabby surroundings into a delightful spot of restful color and peace.
The day after her arrival from the Van Rensselaer’s, Nora announced, with a twinkle in her eye, that there was a gentleman below whom she had told to come right up, and Barney O’Grady entered before his mother had ceased speaking.
Katrine greeted him with affectionate remembrance, smiling as she did so at the change in this boy whom she had helped to New York. He was flashily dressed, after the style of a college freshman, and conversed, as she discovered, in a language known only to the New York newspaper man, who, as some one told her later, has a “slanguage” all his own.
No one could have been more helpful than he, in their present situation, however, and Katrine learned anew day by day the gratitude he cherished toward her for the help given so long before.
Slender and tall, with red face and high cheek-bones, thin nose turned upward, showing the inside of the nostril, and the lines like a parenthesis mark on either side of the mouth, he scanned the world alertly with his pale-blue eyes, scenting news like a human hunter-dog.
But he had many of the faults of his race, for with fine insight and ability to forecast events, he fell short in the execution of his brave schemes; failed to keep the respect of others after he had won it; accepted insufficient proof on all subjects, relying dangerously on a much-vaunted intuition, a fault in him which changed Katrine’s whole life. In a way, he had become a power in the newspaper world, and had, as she discovered, a knowledge of the private affairs of prominent people which seemed supernatural; and it was a habit of his to look over the names in a newspaper, remarking cheerfully at intervals:
“There’s another man that I could put in jail.”
But there was an unworded matter which gave Katrine a kinder feeling toward Barney than either her love for Nora or any past acquaintance between them might have done, and this was his admiration for Frank Ravenel.
If Barney had any knowledge, directly, through Nora, or indirectly through his intuition, of the interwovenness of Katrine’s life with Ravenel’s, he had the taste and the ability to conceal it.
But his literary temperament got the better of him where Katrine was concerned, and before a week was past he set up a hopeless passion for her, as she laughingly put it.
“He’d die for you, Miss Katrine,” Nora explained one evening.
“Sure I don’t doubt it for a minute, if there were enough people by to see him do it,” Katrine answered, with Irish comprehension.