Alone, Kenny owned, one can not be gay and lunch in glens where the wee folk hide and whisper. And Joan and he himself had chains. He accepted the summer with a wry grimace, reading in its irksome demands a chance for real requital. He found no bitterness in the cup he had set himself to drink. It was the price of Brian’s welfare and Brian’s peace of mind. But he hungered for Joan and the long, gay days of another summer. When had she grown up so, he wondered impatiently. He missed the romping child with the sun shadows in her hair; he missed her eager tears and laughter. To his skillful touch they had been but strings of a beautiful harp, subtly, unfailingly responsive. Ah! she had been a beautiful promise—that starved child of a summer ago—but the promise fulfilled in the woman, he owned with a rush of feeling, he loved more. Her essential tenderness, strumming kindred chords in his sensitive Celtic soul, aroused an unfamiliar sense of the holiness of love.
And he was splendidly afire with dreams.
In July the little doctor found his patient strong enough for crutches and dismissed the nurse. And unexpectedly John Whitaker arrived, growling his opinion of the rural trains.
“Can you walk without your crutches?” he barked, his glasses oddly moist.
“A little,” said Brian.
Whitaker sat down and blinked.
“You don’t deserve a job,” he grumbled, “turning me down for a dynamite spree, but I’m going to send you to Ireland in the fall. There’s a story there—a big one. If,” he added grimly, “you can manage to get in.”
Late August found the tension of worry at an end. Brian at last was walking. And Don had fought a battle with his books and won.
Kenny’s spirits soared.
ARCADY ELUDES A SEEKER
“Come,” Kenny begged one night when the dusk lay thick in the valley. “Let’s pace the Gray Man, Joan, in Garry’s car. Nobody needs you now as much as I.”
His bright dark face pleaded.
The girl smiled.
“Kenny, Kenny, Kenny,” she said, “will you ever grow up?”
“Did Peter Pan? Better get your cloak, dear. You may need it.”
He went off whistling to the barn. Kenny had blessed the car and Garry many times. He blessed them again as the engine throbbed in the dusk. Hot silence lay upon the ridge, broken only by the noise of insects.
“A long road and a straight road and Samhain at the end!” he sang as Joan climbed in. “And bless the Irish heart of me, dear, there’s a moon scrambling up behind the hill and peeping over. Lordy, Lordy!” he added under his breath, “what a moon!”
“’On such a night
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew
And with an unthrift love did run to Venice
As far as—’
“Hum! I’ve forgotten. Wonder why Shakespeare looked ahead and harpooned me with that word unthrift. Where to, Jessica? Where shall the unthrift lover drive on such a night?”