They straggled up the orchard hill in a flutter.
It was snowing a little. The coldness of the air was soft and heavy. Hannah and Hughie held the lanterns high and with a startling attack that made the dirt fly, Kenny began to dig.
The lantern light rayed off grotesquely through the leafless orchard but the silent group, intent upon the energetic digger, watched only the spot where the fan-like rays converged upon the spade. The wind, sharp, intermittent and bringing with it now and then a flurry of snow, flapped their clothes about them. Kenny, pausing to wipe his forehead, thought the night warm. Joan’s eyes, dark, solemn, frightened, spurred him on to greater effort. He dug furiously, flinging earth in all directions. Hughie marvelled at his madcap speed and the strength of his sinewy arms. His jaw was set. His face, dark and vivid in the lantern light, shone with a boy’s excitement. But when the wind came he looked defiant. They could not know that to him, then, the spirit of Adam Craig seemed to come with a sigh and a rustle and hover near them.
Hughie took his turn at the spade but to Kenny his methodical competence proved an irritant. He was glad when Hughie’s back gave out and forced him to surrender.
“Mr. O’Neill,” said Hannah flatly after what seemed an interminable interval of digging, “you’ve dug a hole big enough to bury yourself. Mr. Craig’s money couldn’t be no further down than that. Myself I think you’d better let it go until morning. It’s snowin’ harder every minute and we’ll all get our death of cold.”
Kenny shuddered at the homely phrase. But he wiped the dirt and perspiration from his forehead and went off toward the kitchen in gloomy silence, his energy and optimism gone.
So madness settled down upon the Craig farm.
Futile, flurried days of digging followed for which Kenny, delving desperately in his memory, supplied forgotten clues. Fearful lest the villagers might take it into their heads to climb the hill to Craig Farm and help them dig, he pledged every one to secrecy and went on digging, with Hughie at his heels. The suspense became fearful and depressing.
On the third day Hannah rebelled. The gloom and mystery were getting on her nerves.
“Hetty,” she said irritably, “if you’re standin’ at the window there, figurin’ out where Mr. Craig’s money is likely to be buried, you can stop it this minute and clean the lamps. Your father’s out pulling up the floor-boards in the barn and Mr. O’Neill’s digging up the lilac bush for the third time. And that’s enough. It beats me how Mr. O’Neill can go on rememberin’ so much now he’s got his memory started. He just seems to unravel things out of it overnight. It keeps me all worked up. I feel as if I ought to whisper when I speak and every night the minute I get to sleep