“Always,” said Brian, “I am slated to be somebody’s keeper.”
Could he shirk? Had he shirked when he left the studio in anger? Had he a right to live his life his own way? Had anybody? His common sense endorsed his earlier rebellion. This was different.
“Whenever you tell me I can do a thing and hang around to see me do it, I can seem to make myself do it somehow!”
The words echoed harshly in his ears; and at first Brian refused to hear them. Then inexorably he faced his fact. He and he alone was the spur to the boy’s amazing energy. A year? Well, after all what was a year?
He went back through the autumn moonlight with a sigh.
“Don,” he said, “you’re right. You couldn’t swing it up here alone. I’ll stick and see you through it.”
Don looked up, his face scarlet with emotion. Brian’s hand was on his shoulder. And Brian’s eyes were half humorous, half quizzical and wholly tender.
“No, no, Brian, no!” he choked. “I—I didn’t mean that—”
“Of course you didn’t,” said Brian. “I thought that much of it out for myself.”
Don’s head went down upon his hands with a sob.
That night Brian wrote to Whitaker.
To Kenny in poetic mood the seasons were druidic. There was May Eve with its Bel fires when summer peeped over the hilltops at the cattle driven through the sacred flames to protect them from disease. There was Midsummer’s Eve with more fires, and if St. Patrick in unpagan zeal had chosen to kindle his fires in honor of St. John, he could. To Kenny the festival was still druidic. There was Samhain or summer ending, when the November wind speeded the waning season with a flurry of dead leaves; and to Kenny, Samhain came and drove him forth in the chill dusk to face another problem.
He had come to the farm in blossom time and he had stared ahead to sanity—in September at the latest. Now with branches dark and bare against the glorious sunsets that burned at night in the west long after the valley was in shadow, even with talk in Hannah’s kitchen of early snow, his madness was if anything a trifle more acute. Even the dreaded hours with Adam ceased to trouble him in the joy of his days. There was peace here and, thanks to Mr. Adams, who had simplified his relations with the bank, freedom from work and worry.
The November twilight, scintillant with stars, lay darkly ahead. He forged through it in excitement. He who could forecast with the wisdom of experience the duration of his own enslavement had gone over his time. And, powers of wild-fire, he still kept going! Something emotionally was wrong.
It pleased him in a moody moment to busy himself with mathematics, much as he hated them, and deduce a singular fact. He had spent delicious hours of many a day with many a maid. But days and days and days with one? Not ever!