Garry, with the husk still in his throat, wandered off to the window.
Garry wheeled and found a wistful, boyish Kenny with his fingers in his hair.
“I’m no longer a failure as a parent?”
“No!” said Garry with decision.
“And God knows I haven’t been a failure as a lover. I’m prayin’ I shan’t always be a failure as a painter. It’s the one thing left. Somewhere in Ireland, Garry, nine silent fairies blow beneath a caldron. They know the secrets of the future. I’d like to be peepin’.”
He was to know in time that the caldron held for him peace and big achievement.
“I wish I could help!” said Garry.
“Garry, could you—would you drive me home to-night?”
“You’ll not be mindin’?”
“No. It’s better.”
“Come,” said Kenny, his color high. “We’ll be facin’ it now.”
They went in silence through the pines.
THE END OF KENNY’S SONG
A light flickered on the porch where Hannah hovered around the supper table, puzzled and annoyed.
“I’m glad somebody’s come at last,” she exclaimed a trifle tartly. “Every bug on the ridge has been staring at the supper table through the screens. And I promised Mis’ Owen to drive over there to-night with Hughie.”
“He went down to the village with Joan.”
“Don said he’d eat his supper when he came. It might be late.”
Kenny, whistling a madcap hornpipe, glinted at the table with approval.
“Off with ye, now, Hannah, darlin’,” he said. “I’ll stare the bugs down until they come.”
“They ought to be here now.” Hannah’s eyes strained, frowning, toward the lane.
“Ho, Brian!” Kenny called.
“Ho!” came a distant shout. And then: “Coming, Kenny.”
Had Kenny’s call been one of reassurance? To Garry, miserably intent upon the ordeal ahead, the big Irishman, whistling softly in his chair, had sent a message through the dark to ease the tension. Already the daredevil light danced wantonly in his eyes.
Hannah trotted off in better humor.
Dreading the supper hour, dreading the sound of steps upon the walk, Garry smoked and gnawed his lips. The meeting must be painful. . . . Now they were coming along the gravel . . . and now . . . He had undervalued Kenny’s tact.
The latch of the screen door clicked. Kenny rummaged for cigarettes and struck a match. Joan had slipped to her place at the table before he threw the match away. Then he smiled. His eyes were a curious droll confessional that Brian seemed at once to understand. They deplored the fickle strain in his blood that doomed all madness of the heart to end in time. Brian had seen that look too many times to doubt it now.