Startled at his manner, Kenny remembered the fairy mill and wondered.
KENNY’S TRUTH CRUSADE
Kenny began his truth crusade the next night.
“Adam,” he said, halting on the threshold of the old man’s sitting room with one hand carelessly behind him and his attitude expectant and determined, “I’ve often wondered why every book in the farmhouse is up here on your shelves.”
Adam cupped his ear with his hand.
“Wh-a-a-a-t?” he asked blankly.
Kenny brought the hand behind his back forward. It held a megaphone.
“I said,” he bellowed through it, “that I’ve often wondered why all the books in the farmhouse are here upon your shelves.”
Adam sat up.
“For God’s sake, Kenny,” he said. “Close the door. Where did you get that thing?” he demanded with a scowl.
“It’s Hughie’s and the very sight of it was an inspiration.”
“Give it to me!”
“On the contrary I intend to cure your deafness.”
“I mean just this: You can hear as well as I can. You pretend to be deaf when you don’t want to hear.”
“What?” snapped the old man with a glance like lightning.
“You told me to practice the truth,” reminded Kenny, dropping into a chair. “I’m merely beginning. I’ve a lot to say. And the health of your hearing, Adam, is an indispensable adjunct to my practice hour and my peace of mind. I’m merely insuring myself against your refusing with a feint of deafness to hear what I have to say.”
“For once,” said Adam insolently, “you’ve scored. But if ever I get my hands on that damned megaphone, I’ll burn it.”
“You won’t get your hands on it,” retorted Kenny. “And if you do I’ll buy a bigger one.”
It was hard to begin but Kenny with his mouth set thought of Joan. He told Adam Craig he was a miser.
In the dreadful silence the tick of the old clock on the mantel seemed to Kenny’s distracted ears a perpetuity of measured taps upon a death-drum. He thought of Poe and the pit and the pendulum. He thought of Joan and told himself fiercely that he did it all for her; for her he was winding around himself a chain foredoomed to clank. And he wondered why on earth the old man did not speak.
The suspense became intolerable. Intensely excited, Kenny swung to his feet.
“Well?” he said.
“Well!” said Adam and smiled a curious, inscrutable, twisted sort of smile. He had never looked so evil-eyed and subtle. “One of your greatest drawbacks, Kenny, is an Irish temper and a habit of excitement.”
“A miser!” repeated Kenny with defiance. He must keep his feet upon the path. It was the prelude to all that he must say for Joan’s emancipation.
“A miser!” said Adam, nodding. “Well, what of it?”