They roamed in the dark silver of the star-light to the cabin in the pines and the hours that Joan had spent with Mr. Abbott or the books she loved, fell tinkling now with new melody into the lap of time. In the rude room, bright with lamplight and the trophies of childhood, the girl listened tirelessly to a musical Irish voice that read to her with brogue and tenderness enough to insure her interest in the reader no less than in his task. Kenny blessed the village congregation that had sent Mr. Abbott forth upon his needed month of recreation.
When the nights were cool enough, they built a fire of pine cones in the cabin stove and made tea and Kenny talked of Brian to ease his troubled heart. Joan listened wide-eyed to tales of the son Kenny said was all things in one.
“And you quarreled!” said Joan.
“Yes,” said Kenny.
“So did Donald and I. How queer that is! Was it your fault, Kenny? Or was it Brian’s?”
“It was my fault,” said Kenny and lost his color. “But I know now that it wasn’t the quarrel then that counted. It was the things that had gone before.”
“How much you love him!” said Joan gently.
“Yes,” said Kenny. “In this world of hideous complexities and uncertainty and—chains—of that at least I am sure.”
“That,” said Joan, “I like.”
Mingled inextricably with this new fervor in his soul for truth, was the memory of the inspirational stage mother. The idle claim bothered him more and more. But there he was never brave enough to tell the truth.
Well, it was a queer world and he—Kennicott O’Neill—was thrall to a pitiful old fiend with the soul of a Caliban. He was unspeakably grateful for the relief of the hours when, with his conscience up in arms, he could talk to Joan of Brian and ease his misdeeds of the past by praise and appreciation.
A jewel of a lad! Everybody loved his humor, his compassion and his common sense.
IN SOMEBODY’S BOAT
The moon came silver in the valley and mingled with shadow among the trees. Owl’s-light was nowhere, Kenny said, and the pines stood like shaggy druids in the silver dusk. The twilight of the moon he called it. Restless and poetic he begged Joan to help him find the lake down yonder in the valley. It was gleaming, to his fancy, with fairies’ fire.
They found the lake and somebody’s boat. Both were in a lonely glen. Kenny unwillingly conceded the existence of somebody with a claim upon the boat stronger than his own.
“But,” he went on with an air of inspiration, “somebody is in the world or he wouldn’t be somebody; and the world’s my friend. Therefore by moon-mad deduction somebody’s my friend and I may take his boat.”
He released the painter, smiling up into Joan’s face.
“Beside,” he added, “he’s either a young dub who doesn’t know the moon is shining or an old cynic who doesn’t care.”