Kenny climbed out of bed and dressed, shiveringly conscious that the morning was cold enough to turn his breath to steam. It was that period of indistinctness moreover when farmers and roosters, he knew, were getting up all over the dawn, but Kenny, with little time and no inclination at all for melancholy rebellion, tip-toed down the stairway with his shoes in his hand. He put them on by the kitchen fire. There was water by the window in a milk-pail. He poured some in a basin, washed his face and hands and found the water cold enough to hurt his face. Still his excitement kept him keyed to a pitch of singular and optimistic hilarity. Through the kitchen window came the pale glimmer of snow. He hoped Hughie wouldn’t hear him harnessing Nellie, and shoot at the barn. The possibility sent him to the kitchen stairway. It wound upward in an old-fashioned twist to the room above.
“Hughie!” he called in a low voice. “Hughie!”
There was a noise of many creaks overhead.
“I’m going to hitch up Nellie and drive over to Dr. Cole’s farm. I—I feel sure he buried the money!”
“God Almighty!” exclaimed Hughie.
But Kenny was already on his way to the kitchen door.
Daylight came bleak and cold as Kenny drove rapidly up the doctor’s lane. The aggrieved mare had traveled. Through the farm window, green with potted begonias, Kenny could see the doctor already at his breakfast. A young colored girl was pouring out his coffee. The doctor himself opened the door.
“Well, Mr. O’Neill,” he exclaimed, “who’s sick? Not Joan, I hope?”
“No,” said Kenny, following the doctor back to the table. “No, nobody sick.”
“Sit down,” invited the doctor, “I always figure you can talk as well sitting as standing and you can rest. Won’t you have some breakfast?”
“I couldn’t eat,” said Kenny. “Doctor,” he added hoarsely, “would it—be possible—for me—to speak to you—alone?”
The doctor nodded. In a life made up of emergencies as his was, nothing astonished him.
“Annie,” he said kindly, “just tell Mrs. Cole not to hurry down to breakfast. And close the door.”
Kenny took the will from his pocket and spread it on the table.
The doctor wearily fumbled for his glasses and put them on.
“Hum!” he said. “The old man’s will, eh? I’ve been wondering about it. Well, he didn’t leave much but the farm, did he? And it might have been better for Don and Joan if he’d taken it with him. Nobody around here would buy it. A barn of a place! And the land’s full of stone.”
“Ah!” said Kenny significantly. “But Adam Craig was a miser!”
“Pooh!” said the doctor with a sniff. “Who told you that?”
“I found it out for myself,” he said stiffly. “Since then I have learned that it is common rumor in the village. And the old man, even when I—I spoke of it directly to him, never troubled to deny it.”