34. Above And Below
"Thank the guid God I see ye alive, Dan," said Mary Kerry.
Having her husband's dressing-gown over her night attire, and her usually neat
hair in great disorder, she stood just within the doorway of the little dining-room at
Spenser Road, her face haggard and the fey light in her eyes. Kerry, seated in the
armchair dressed as he had come in from the street, a parody of his neat self with
mud on his shoes and streaks of green slime on his overall, raised his face from
his hands and stared at her wearily.
"I awakened wi' a cry at some hour afore the dawn," she whispered stretching out
her hands and looking like a wild-eyed prophetess of old. "My hairt beat sair fast
and then grew caud. I droppit on my knees and prayed as I ha' ne'er prayed afore.
Dan, Dan, I thought ye were gene from me."
"I nearly was," said Kerry, a faint spark of his old truculency lighting up the weary
eyes. "The man from Whitehall only missed me by a miracle."
"'Twas the miracle o' prayer, Dan," declared his wife in a low, awe- stricken voice.
"For as I prayed, a great comfort came to me an' a great peace. The second sight
was wi' me, Dan, and I saw, no' yersel' --whereby I seemed to ken that ye were
safe--but a puir dying soul stretched on a bed o' sorrow. At the fuit o' the bed was
standing a fearsome figure o' a man--yellow and wicked, wi' his hands tuckit in his
sleeves. I thought 'twas a veesion that was opening up tee me and that a' was
about to be made clear, when as though a curtain had been droppit before my een,
it went awe' an' I kenned it nae more; but plain--plain, I heerd the howling o' a dog."
Kerry started and clutched the arms of the chair.
"A dog!" he said. "A dog!"
"The howling o' a sma' dog," declared his wife; "and I thought 'twas a portent, an'
the great fear came o'er me again. But as I prayed 'twas unfolder to me that the
portent was no' for yersel' but for her--the puir weak hairt ye ha' tee save."
She ceased speaking and the strange fey light left her eyes. She dropped upon her
knees beside Kerry, bending her head and throwing her arms about him. He
glanced down at her tenderly and laid his hands upon her shoulders; but he was
preoccupied, and the next moment, his jaws moving mechanically, he was staring
straight before him.
"A dog," he muttered, "a dog!"
Mary Kerry did not move; until, a light of understanding coming into Kerry's fierce
eyes, he slowly raised her and stood upright himself.
"I have it!" he said. "Mary, the case is won! Twenty men have spent the night and
early morning beating the river bank so that the very rats have been driven from
their holes. Twenty men have failed where a dog would have succeeded. Mary, I
must be off."
"Ye're no goin' out again, Dan. Ye're weary tee death."
"I must, my dear, and it's you who send me."
"But, Dan, where are ye goin'?"
Kerry grabbed his hat and cane from the sideboard upon which they lay, and: