Ms Burke was concerned about the payment for the turf . She had mentioned it twice to Mrs Leonard but he woman seemed implacable. Ms Buurke paid her share for the consignment but even at this prompting Mrs Leonard had flatly declined to pay the man.She steeled herself and turning to the artist she put down her Country Life .
- In due course my dear , In due course.
- But I feel its just ..unfair .. its really nor fair you now - said Ms Burke feebly.
- . I see . - Mrs Leonard said and quickly added primly;
- I shall take note of your observations. Thank you
- I really do do think you should reconsider . After all .. Well the chimney was falling down and well .. Well it wasn’t really entirely his fault. ''
Mrs Leonard got up and walked to the window . Leaning on the sill she reminded one of a captain on a ship giving his last orders.
- The man is a sweep .! She said with a theatricality which was unnecessary
-. Sweeps.. - She declared-
-Sweeps sweep chimneys . Sweep ! mark you . I did not engage one to knock mine down. He will be paid in due course. You are far too soft my dear .
When the next rick arrived , the bridge remained closed which required that the turf had to be brought out by boat.
Mrs Leonard had aganin insulated herself from the world , as she usually did mid October . But now she isolated herself from her companion ; Ms Burke . She would very soon now sit the woman down and tell her that the relationship simply was not working. She regretted the affair and would be grateful if Ms Burke made preparations to leave by the end of the month,
Ms Burke , assiduously attentive to etiquette had already written her letter setting out her reasons why she felt the relationship had not been what she had hoped .But it was better they part . She had gone over the letter several times , at all writings desisting from revealing anything of her revulsion at the old crone ; a trumped up old Victorian windbag , selfish , cantankerous wrathful , wilful , and many others . The more she revised the text of her letter of termination the more inspired became her analysis of her mistress. But each time she kept the copy and started anew. It was comforting somehow to put her thoughts down on paper . She tended not to write as she would have written a military report. But the pieces were cathartic and she derived some solace from each new edition .
The last rick of turf finally arrived arrived by boat , To Mrs Leonards surprise it was Mr Keenan who delivered it .
There was no point in delaying it any further so when the matter of payment arose , reluctantly she paid him.
Mr Keenan looked at the cheque and then sheepishly around the room.
- Twas’nt aisy getting that last rick out Maam . The wind does blow the boat all over the lake ..
- yes . Its winter . That tends to happen . Said Mrs Leonard looking a little bemused at the man’s discomfiture.
- twould have been aiser if the bridge was down .-.he said in a whinging voice.
- but it was not.- she said abruptly .
-No .No Maam , so I did have to row her out on me own .
- Look here Mr Keenan , if you think your due some extra remuneration for having to row 200 yards, well you’re simply wasting your time.-The turf was paid for -delivery included and if you persist with haranguing I shall refer you to my solicitors. Now enough of this .He nodded sadly to himself . He put on his cap and having little to lose he said emboldened at the prospect of concluding the matter .
- no tip so?
- absolutely none - out of the question .None .!.
- ahh well , - he sighed and with the next breath he seemed as if he were a convicted man reprieved .His air was nonchalant , and breezy now .He smiled as he towered over Mrs Leonard .
-to tell you the truth maam ,I wasn’t expectin it .. ..- yer a tight auld woman Mrs Leonard . Himself wasn’t a bad aul scout .. But by Jesus did the poor man draw the short straw in yerself for a wife ... But it must’ve been a relief to him goin to an early grave like he did .
Mrs Leonard was speechless and had to clutch the sofa for support . The affront when it came was so.. So Odious..
She started to speak , but Mr Keenan turned his back on her and crossed the room. He was now studying Ms Burke’s work in progress, which was turned towards the wall.
He addressed Dolores
- Ya must make great pantings .. Ya have the lovely view.. .. Is it all water and mountains that ya paint or dya pain any of them smutty ones..but ya have the grandest view in Ireland , and thats a fact.
-oh yes , why indeed yes !- Dolores blushed profusely.
- Have ya any fer sale .. The paintings.. I’d like to see them sometime if ye’d be willin . I do like the art - he said grandly looking quite the expert , his confidence aglow .
Gone was his former obsequiousness. He seemed fearless now . Cavalier almost.
He strutted about the room taking in this and that rather like a horse breeeder swaggering about his paddock of thoroughbreds.
He then left good humouredly passing out the still shocked Mrs Leonard ,. He tilted his cap at a jaunty angle, winked straight into her face, and blew her a kiss.
- dya know .. One of aul Leonard ‘s favourite songs , .. He’d always singing it just before closing time .. What was it ay all.. Ah yes…
''Keep the home fires blazin.. Or was it burning .. And God he had a grand vice .. He’d bring a tear to every eye in the house.. Dy’a ever play it atall
I’ll have to get the words , God it was a power of a song.. - keep ah- the ah home - fires - ablazin… ..
With that he left , without rancour. Without regret , Without his tip . But but each woman detected in his aspect something indefineable ;portentious almost- very peculiar . As if somehow he hadn’t played his last card.
But maybe it was just a whimsy.
The explosion rocked the whole house.
Mrs Leonard rushed up to find Ms Burke already in the lounge. In the swirling smoke the was an acrid smell in the air. The fireplace had been completely blown out. You could see the pier through the hole in the wall as the smoke settled .
They both escaped any serious injury . The shock was quite indescribable , and the were recovering with a frugal sherry glass ful of brandy when the two policemen arrived.
The policemen while sympathetic were plain talking men ; they spoke openly and to Mrs Leonards discontent a little breezily
- I t was an explosion -the sergeant he said rather grandly
- Without any doubt..write it down Pat .. Good man.
- and a bit of the arson his assistance said helpfully
-Arson ? Well don’t be too hasty there Pat me lad, twas an explosion in the first place . We have to deal with the facts of the case . An explosion caused .. let me see.. an explosion caused by an explosive substance - alright so far ,Pat ?
- oh it’s the work of one man, that. He ‘s done the same before - said the assistant .
- Who ? - thundered Mrs Leonard -
- who has done what and whats all this about one man !!- Mrs Leonard expostulated.
-Sergeant I demand an explanation and I expect the full rigors of the law be brought to bear on the culprit .
- Tell me - said the sergeant lighting his pipe and peering out the hole where was once the hearth
- would it be the case that the Thatcher Casey had any old crow to pluck with you if you follow my meaning.?
- No no. I do not know what you mean She looked across at the other woman and continued a little less brusquely.
- there was a Keenan fellow , ...described himself as a roofer or something...
Aha !! - a brother in law of said Casey.- said the sergeant
- Well Pat ? What..
- it’s shaping up now all right said the assistant , he too now sitting down and lighting his pipe.
The two policemen were sitting on the sofa puffing contentedly.
Mrs Leonard’s eyes flittered about like a bird of prey before steadying on the Sergeant again.
- Sergeant , could you kindly stop talking in riddles and tell me what on earth is going on !
- was there .ant what I’ll call any ill feeling between yourself and the aforementioned one Mr Keenan ?- he said squinting through the smoke of his pipe .
-There was a disagreement with regard to a matter of some small fee outstanding , But it was that scoundrel’s interpretation..
The sergeant slapped his thigh , and his assistant did likewise. It was like when two children were playing the card game of ' Snap'
- I thought so- he said a little triumphantly ..
- thought so too meself also as well- added Pat.
- T hought so.. thought so- he puffed on his pipe regally
-Pat make a note .. The plaintiff stated that there was some ill feeling between she the plaintiff and the aforementioned , a Mr Keenan ,he known in the juristiction as being related by marriage to a Mr Casey , herein afterwards referred to as the Thatcher Casey…
He scanned the room and feeling the draft of late afternoon waft in from the lake he said the his assistant,
- Pat make a note of the circumstances , all the usual stuff , and measurements. And so on…Off you go there's a good man , what !.
-Didn’t I take no camera nor no tape..- said Pat.
- too bad .too bad . Well just make a sketch of the crime scene.. And we’ll measure the distance on the way out .. He smiled broadly at the two women then got up to go .
Just a moment - said Mrs Leonard with renewed vehemence
- Are you not going to photograph the crime scene
- a picture is worth a thousand words..- he smiled with a jutting chin and downast eyes . The look required no explanation.and none was sought, but Mrs Leonard took another tack.
- and what about measurements.. ?
-And didn’t the Lord give us two feet .. -he said and chuckled to himself -
- am I right Pat ? what ?
-Hardly a matter for levity - Mrs Leonard scolded.
The sergeant regarded her keenly for a moment . He lit his pipe again , and was silent His look was abstract, but there was a determination again in the jutting jaw which invited no interuption of his contemplations. He puffed until he had decided to proced with this truculant trollop. A trumped up West Brit ,with notions about her station. He'd met them all before . He began in a slow patronising tone .
- Well. Well now let us see . Let us put all our cards on the table .' Tis this way Mrs Leonard - we have our man alright. We had him before we came over to be honest. The devil's done this lark before .
Lark ! - you call this a '''Lark' ? -- well are you going t arrest him.?
- cant - he shook his heavy ruefully.
- why not ?
-Oh the rascal - gone to England .. Vamoosed !! Whooshed over to the brother .. He’s on the buildings over beyond ..
- cant you extradite him ?
- no no no.. - he shook his head gravely as if in sympathy with this woman of enfeebled wit
- Non ooo ! .. wouldn’t do a dam bit of good.. But we can wait
Wait ? Is that all you can suggest -wait ?
Yes Sir mam .. He’ll be back for the summer .. He don’t like worikin in the summers when he can be over here fishin all day and drinkin like a lord..all night .. I do envy him ..I do .
- Such arrant nonsense.!! .This .. This enquiry is an utter sham . I shall write to the minister myself.. You are an idiot and you are dismissed - she said with an agitated haughtier and turning crisply on her heels she walked out.
-well I’ll be off .so - the sergeant said to Ms Burke
-. She’s upset - he said looking out the hole in the wall as Ms burke who stood by like a girl in the ballet awaiting her que.
A grand lady , the sergeant was thinking . You'd never know ..
- dya know what .. I’m just lookin out here and Begod it would make a grand bay window.. You might suggest it to herself only don’t say it came from me..
He picked up his measuring tape and put it in his pocket..
- a hole is a hole is a hole .. Twont make it neither bigger nor smller an us lookin at it ..no point giving them too much info. above in Dublin .- he winked slyly at the fragile artist.
- see I do always say there’s always a silver lining..
- - Sergeant ! Ms Burke said, a touch of desperation in her thin voice
- Are you leaving this instant.- she asked on an impulse , a sudden yearnig urgency to her voice
- well mam I am.. I don’t want to be puttin in on ye..- he said gently looking with an increasing pity at the vulnerable creature. An attractive woman . Effecient type . She'd be alright - he thought fondly , and patted her hand gently .. Ms Burke found no forwardness in the gesture ; rather comforting , it exuded a raw soothing and warm, which quite excited her .She smiled timidly and flushed a little again her heart fluttering , but no not unpleasently so in her breast.
Would you mind waiting .. I wont be a jiff
- certainly mam … no trouble at all ..
- I have to pack- she looked at the sergeant with her frank open eyes .
He noticed the golden brown irises . She'd be near the fifty mark , but she was a well kept woman. The kind of woman who'd have the dinner on the table , and able to iron a shirt , two major criteria in the sergeants assessment of the fair sex..
- Promise - she said softly
- I dont want her to know ..be just a jiff .. I'd be ever so grateful.
- no hurry at all mam .. Take your time ..as the man said the man who made time made plenty of it .
Ms Burke was back in a jiff .