“You’re late!” he said.
“Yes,” said Kenny happily, “I am.” Even now with Adam’s piercing eyes upon him, he had a feeling of invincibility; as if, aloof in the aerial sphere in which he seemed to float, he could shut the old man out.
Adam stared at him with eagle-like intentness and a puzzled frown. His face said plainly that Kenny’s mood was without precedent and therefore strategical. It behooved him to get to the bottom of it at once and be on his guard.
“’Tis Samhain, Adam,” said Kenny, “the summer ending of the druids. And to-night the hills are open and the fairies are all out a-temptin’ mortals. I myself have heard the fairy pipes showerin’ sweetness everywhere. Wonderful music, Adam! Silver-soft and allurin’ and the kind you can’t forget! It throws you into a trance and fills you with beautiful longing. I forgot to come home. There! I must tell Hannah to put a light under the churn to-night. Then the fairies, hating fire, can’t bewitch it.”
[Illustration: “’Tis Samhain, Adam,” said Kenny, “the summer ending of the druids.”]
Adam stared at him blankly. He was in mad mood, this Irishman. His eyes, ardently blue and tender and intense, danced with incautious gleams of laughter. His color was high. He was gay and utterly friendly.
An odd jealous hunger sprang up in the invalid’s eyes.
“Are you mad?” he demanded.
“Quite!” said Kenny.
“More like,” said the old man tartly, “you’re drunk.”
“Drunk,” nodded Kenny, “with heather ale. Only the fairies know how to make it now. And who wouldn’t be drunk in the head of him to-night with the Good People dancing on the hills and the dead dancing with them.”
Adam frowned and shivered.
“You Irish,” he said harshly, “are as morbid as you are poetic.”
“’Tis all a part of the night,” cried Kenny gayly and poured himself some brandy. “The druids,” he remembered, “poured libations on the ground to propitiate the evil spirits and the spirits of the dead; but, Adam, I’m drinking to-night to Destiny! To Destiny,” he added under his breath, “and the foreverness of her gift!”
“What gift,” demanded Adam Craig, “are you trying to clinch with a gift to yourself of my brandy?”
“The gift,” said Kenny cryptically, “of—Life!”
Well, he had spoken truth there. Life was love and love was life and perhaps until now he’d known neither.
Still the old man stared at him in dazed and sullen envy. His wild vitality seemed a barrier impossible to surmount.
“And it isn’t just Samhain,” said Kenny, setting down his glass. “Ugh, Adam, your brandy’s abominable! It’s the Eve of All Souls. To-night the dead revisit their homes. Once I remember when I was tramping through Ireland, an old woman left a chair by the fireside that the spirit of her son might come back to her. She even left some embers in the fire.”