Second Sight

Second Sight by Neil M. Gunn

Book: Second Sight by Neil M. Gunn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Neil M. Gunn
himself—and vaguely frightened, too, possibly as one is when one has done something wrong—and he found a diversion in the idea of baiting Alick! And he found it, by heaven!”
But Helen was smiling. “Dear old Geoff! Human of him, wasn’t it? And to think I got the ghostly shudder when Alick said, you know, that he hadn’t been there! Yet he didn’t rub it into Geoffrey. Rather delicate of him wasn’t it?”
“Particularly when you think how Geoffrey rubbed it into him! By the lord, Geoffrey must not know we know!”
But Helen was thinking again. Out of a pause, she said, looking at Harry, “Were most of our sympathies misplaced last night?”
Harry shook his head. “When he had told me how he had hoodwinked Geoffrey, I did have one minute’s profound doubt, and looked at him, and gave him an oblique opening, and he looked back and saw what was in my mind—and only smiled as if he were tired.”
“Where did he go last night?”
“To the inn, and, as Geoffrey forecasted, got blind drunk. Then he found himself somewhere on the hill, wakening in the cold dawn, with King Brude calmly inspecting his exhausted corpse. I doubt if the Devil knows what moves in the haunted abysses of that mind. And, by Jove, he could be dangerous!”
“I’ll tell you one thing that moves in his mind,” said Helen practically. “Mairi is in love with him. She doesn’t like him having this gift. Anyway, I think she hates that we found out.” Then she added simply, and profoundly, “And so I know—beyond any evidence of yours or his—that what he said he saw to you, he did see.”
Harry nodded slowly, trying to take it in. “That—I think—is important.”
“Think? You’re taking a risk.”
“Is Alick in love with her?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Ah-h.”
“Never did have much luck, did I?”
“And yet your hand is stacked with trumps—every one a trick. It is tough.”
“Perhaps if I really tried enchanting him—with the wild flowers and the birds and——”
“And yourself. Perhaps. Only—answer this one. Would you like to be married to a man with that gift?”
“I—wonder?” said Helen thoughtfully.
“If Alick could tell you your future now beyond any doubt —would you ask him?”
“People go to crystal-gazers and palmists.”
“So would you or I to see how we’d fare in love or war or fortune or how many children we’d have.”
“Why shouldn’t I ask?”
“Because of one thing—the one only thing—that is certain.”
“You mean?”
“Death.”
She looked at him steadily and in silence.
“I’m glad”, said Harry, “that you didn’t say the obvious thing: that that’s morbid. Though they say that when you’re young you can talk of death because it seems so far away; and when you’re old because it is so near. It’s the great middle-aged crowd, busy with success and——”
But Helen, hardly listening to him, interrupted directly: “Did he say who the dead person was?”
Her searching manner and the sound of the car scattered his wits for a moment. “Not really,” he said.
She went towards him. “Harry, tell me.”
“I can’t. I don’t know.”
“Harry!”
“And in any case, don’t you see I couldn’t tell——”
“Is it you?”
“No.”
“Father or Mother?”
“Good heavens, no.”
“Geoffrey?”
“Oh, come now, Helen, play fair.” He heard voices.
But she had him by the lapels of the coat. Clutching them tightly, she breathed—“Geoffrey!”
And to confound him fully, the memory of Alick’s silent pause came upon him.
“You can’t jump to conclusions like that. You mustn’t! Oh,

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