“A year, Kenny!” pleaded Joan. “After all, what is a year? And at the end I shall be so much happier and sure.” She came shyly to his chair and slipped her arms around his neck. “I want so much to do whatever you want me to do. And yet—and yet, Kenny, feeling as I do, I shall be—Oh, so much happier if you will wait until I can come and say that I am ready to be your wife.”
“It will make you happier!” he said abruptly.
“Then, mavourneen,” said Kenny, “it shall be as you say. I care more for your happiness than for my own.”
They went back through the darkness hand in hand.
A MISER’S WILL
Kenny lingered moodily over his supper. His evening was casting its shadow ahead. He dreaded the thought of climbing the stairs to Adam’s empty room. If he could have kept his hostile memories in the face of death, he told himself impatiently, it would have been easier. But Garry was right. He was wild and sentimental. Only pitiful memories lingered to haunt him: rain and loneliness and the old man’s hunger for excitement.
He went at last with a sigh, oppressed by the creak of the banister where Adam had sat, sinister and silent in his wheel-chair, listening to the music. Memories were crowding thick upon him. Again and again he wished that he had never opened the door of the sitting room that other night and caught the old man off his guard. It had left a specter in his mind, horrible in its pathos and intense. Strung fiercely to the thought of emptiness, it came upon him nevertheless, as he opened the door, with a curious chill sense of palpability; as if silence and emptiness could strike one in the face and make him falter.
The room was fireless and silent and unspeakably dreary. Hughie had left a lamp burning upon the table. The key he had found in the pocket of the old man’s bathrobe lay beside it.
For an interval Kenny stood stock still, his color gone. He faced strange ghosts. Here in this faded room, with its mystery of books, he had known agonizing pity and torment, gusts of temper, selfish and unselfish, real and feigned, moments of triumphal composure that now in the emptiness it was his fate to remember with a sickening shudder of remorse. Here he had battled in vain for Joan, practicing brutally the telling of much truth; and here with his probing finger, Adam Craig had roused his slumbering conscience into new doubt and new despair. And here he must not forget he had told the tale of the fairy mill . . . and suspicion had come darkly to his mind. Suspicion of what? That, as ever, he refused to face.
A chair stood by the fireplace. Kenny with a shudder moved it to a distant corner. He could not bear the memory of that last night when he had barred the old man out from his joyous mood of sparkle, telling Samhain tales of the fairies and the dead.