Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1150
Kerry’s uncle, Sir Valentine MacFarlane, lord of Destiny Bay, with his great fan-shaped red beard that came to his waist, was the courtliest and most hospitable of men. In twenty minutes, he had persuaded the old Duke of la Mentera and his grandson that he could not allow Spanish royalty to stay at the Widow McGinty’s village hotel when there was plenty of room at Destiny Bay. With the simplicity that comes with great age, the Duke said that his life had been full of many turnings; now he was on the last path, and he had come hoping to find a treasure chest, said to have been lost when one of his ancestors was killed off the Irish coast after Drake’s defeat of the Armada. His grandson must be provided for; he had nowhere else to turn.
Aunt Jenepher, beautiful, blind, but seeming to see people better than anyone, said that the Duke and Don Anthony, his grandson, were noble and good, and she treated them with that kindness of hers that went straight to the heart.
A short time later, the Duke died, leaving his girlish-looking grandson to the MacFarlanes’ several cares—the courtliness of Uncle Valentine, the trust of his valet, James Carabine, the kindness of Aunt Jenepher, and Kerry’s companionship. That friendship was not always pleasing to Don Anthony, since he could not bear to see their prizefights or cockfights, although he was beside himself with joy at their horse races; but it was Jenico for whom the boy conceived a hero worship.
Jenico was not a large man like Uncle Valentine, but he had the look of burnished strength that made women try to get his attention, and he was innately courteous, although his mind might be a thousand miles away. His home was near Destiny Bay and nearer Spanish Men’s Rest, the spot where the Spaniards were buried after their ships had been wrecked. For a long time, the bees and birds had shunned the place, and it was a chill on the heart to go there; but when Jenico and Kerry took Don Anthony to Spanish Men’s Rest, they heard the bees and birds again, and the place seemed sunnier.
Jenico, trying to get the boy’s mind off the settlement of the grandfather’s estate, finally asked him to take off with him on a trip to the Atlas Mountains. The boy was flattered and obviously wanted to go but begged off. Shortly after, as the three walked near the river, Jenico and Kerry decided to go swimming. Jenico went on ahead, and Kerry could see his head like that of a sleek seal in the waves. When Kerry started to strip, Don Anthony begged him not to take off his clothes. Jenico laughed and told Kerry to strip the boy and throw him in. Kerry headed for the boy. Don Anthony flashed a knife and then ducked away. As Kerry turned to follow him, Uncle Valentine appeared, roaring that there was once a time when a lady could be trusted among Irishmen.
With a change of clothes, Ann-Dolly, as she asked to be called, was one of the loveliest girls they had ever seen, and there was a new spirit in her. They made her companion to Aunt Jenepher so that she would feel free to stay. At that time, her relations with Jenico were strained, but whenever they were in a room together, she would look at him when he was not looking, and then he would look at her when she had turned away.
Jenico tried a foolish scheme of planting treasure for her to find, but he and Kerry had a fight about that and he never told her. Finally, she had enough of the MacFarlanes and ran away in the night. Jenico and James Carabine and Kerry used horses, bicycles, and even bloodhounds to follow her. At last, they found her huddled in an old ruin. She was deathly white and scared, and nothing they did could make her move. James Carabine plucked Kerry’s sleeve, suggesting that they return the horses, the bicycles, and the dogs they had borrowed, but Kerry brushed him off. Finally, Carabine picked Kerry up like a feather and forcibly carried him out, to leave Jenico and Ann-Dolly together.
After Ann-Dolly became mistress of Jenico’s house, the birds always sang, and the bees knew it was a fair and happy home.
One never knew what or whom Uncle Valentine might bring back from a trip. One of the kindest of men was Patrick Herne, a man who looked like a double for Digory Pascoe, who was to have married Aunt Jenepher after he made his fortune. Digory had died in a fight, but Uncle Valentine had kept him alive for twelve years by writing letters from him, until he found Patrick Herne and brought him home as Digory. Aunt Jenepher played along for a while until she had to ask who the man really was who thought just as she did. Theirs was a happy wedding.
One time Uncle Valentine went off to America to find James Carabine, who had once saved his life. James Carabine was the Irish champion in the prize ring when he had an urge to sail to America to take care of a drunken friend. Because the friend died at sea, he was lonesome in New York and married a hard-faced and, as it turned out, two-faced singer whose friends ran illegal fights in and around the city. When Uncle Valentine found him, he had taken to drink after losing a bad fight and his wife; but he regained his self-respect and rewon his title before Uncle Valentine took him home. There was no more devoted valet and friend in Ireland than Uncle Valentine’s James Carabine.
It was not only Uncle Valentine who traveled distances to help a friend. Anselo Loveridge, the gypsy whom Uncle Valentine’s brother Cosimo saved from the hangman’s noose, worried about Uncle Cosimo’s heavy drinking; Uncle Cosimo had told him that the drinking had been brought on because of a Chinese girl he called the Fair Maid of Wu, whom he had seen three times and never spoken to. Anselo disappeared for six years, and when he came back, he brought the Chinese girl as a present to Uncle Cosimo. Having lost his heart in those hard years, he would not wait to see Uncle Cosimo but continued his wanderings. When he went to see what Anselo had brought, Uncle Cosimo was happy, and his pocket was bulging with his big flask. After one look, his head cleared, and he turned on his heel and left the country. From that day, he worked to reclaim drunks in the slums of London and became so straightlaced that he was made Bishop of Borneo.
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