Finding this point upon which he dwelt with some length equally over-nice for Garry’s perception, Kenny in a huff sent him home, watered the fern, without in the least understanding the impulse, and went to bed. And dreaming as usual, he seemed to be hunting cobwebs with a gun made of ferns. He found them draped over huge pillars of ice, marked in Brian’s familiar sunset colors. Truth. And when panting and sweating he had swept them all away with a wedge of cheese he seemed to hear Whitaker’s voice—calling him a failure.
Kenny felt that he had been visited by Far Darrig, the Gaelic bringer of bad dreams.
IN THE GAY AND GOLDEN WEATHER
Spring came early and with the first marsh hawk Brian was on the road, his eager youth crying out to the spring’s hope and laughter. Everywhere he caught the thrill of it. Brooks released from an armor of ice went singing by him. Hill and meadow deepened verdantly into smiles. A little while now and the whole green earth in its tenderness would dimple exquisitely, with every dimple a flower. Mother Earth, moistening the bare brown fields for the plough with a capricious tear or so for the banished winter, was beginning again. And so was he. Hope swelled wistfully within him like song in the throat of the bluebird and sap in the trees. With the sun warm upon his face and the gladness of spring in his veins, he sang with Pippa that “God’s in his Heaven, all’s right with the world!”
Well, New York, thank God, lay to the back of him, veiling her realities and truth in glitter, defying nearness. Every human thing that made for life lay there as surely as it lay here in God’s quieter world, but you never came close to it.
So he tramped away to green fields and hills and winding quiet roads, spring riding into his heart, invincible and bold.
An arbutus filled him with the wonder of things, a sense of eternity, a swift, inexplicable compassion, a longing for service to the needs of men. His ears thrilled to the song of the earth and the whistle of the ploughman turning up the fresh brown earth. He filled his lungs with the wind of the open country, drank in the enchantment of the morning and the dusk, his nostrils joyously alive to the smell of the furrowed ground and a hint of burgeoning wild flowers.
But the first robin brought misgivings and remorse. Brian remembered Kenny’s legend of the thorn ("worst of them all it was,” said Kenny gently, “and prickin’ deepest!”) and the robin who plucked it from the bleeding brow of Christ. So by the blood of the Son of Man had the robin come by his red breast.
The legend filled Brian with yearning. He softened dangerously to the memory of a sketching tramp with Kenny fuming at his heels, his excitement chronic. Adventure had endlessly stalked Kenny for its own, waylaid him at intervals when he passionately proclaimed his desire for peace, and saddled Brian with the responsibilities of constant guardianship.