Read CHAPTER VII.  “THE ZOOLYOGICAL GARDEN” of Wild Youth, free online book, by Gilbert Parker, on ReadCentral.com.

Patsy Kernaghan regarded Tralee as a kind of Lost Paradise, for the most part because it had passed from the hands of a son of the Catholic Church into those of the “prayin’ Methodys,” as he called them, and also because he had a “black heart ag’in” Joel Mazarine.

The spark was struck in him with some vigour one day at Tralee.  It was caused by the flamboyant entrance of Mrs. Guise into the front garden, as the Young Doctor was getting into his buggy for the return journey to Askatoon, after attending Orlando, whose enforced visit to Tralee had already extended over a week.

“Aw, Doctor dear,” said Patsy, as Orlando’s mother fluttered into the garden like a gorgeous hen with wings outspread, her clothes a riot of contradictory colours, all of them insistently bright, “d’ye know what this place is ­this terry firmy on which we stand, that’s wan mile wan way, an’ half a mile the other?  Ye don’t?  Well, I’ll tell ye:  it’s a zoolyogical gardin.  Is it like a human bein’ she is, the dear ould wumman there?  Isn’t she just some gay ould bird from the forests of the Equaytor, wherivir it is?  Look at the beautiful little white curls hanging down her cheek, tied with ribbon-pink ribbon too ­an’ the bonnet on her head!  Did ye iver see anything like it outside a zoolyogical gardin?  Isn’t it like the topknot of some fine old parakeet from Pernambukoko ­and oh, Father Rainbow, the maginta dress of her!  Now I tell you, Doctor dear, I tell you the truth, what I know!  She wears hoops, she does, the same as y’r grandmother used to.  An’ the bit of rose ribbon round her waist, hanging down behind ­now I ask y’r anner, is it like a wumman at all?  See the face of her, with the little snappin’ eyes an’ the yellow beak of a nose, an’ the sunset in her cheeks that’s put on wid a painter’s brush!  Look at her trippin’ about!  Floatin’ ­shure, that’s what she’s doin’!  If you listened hard, you’d hear her buzzin’.  It’s the truth I tell ye.  D’ye follow me?”

The Young Doctor liked talking to Patsy Kernaghan better than to any other person in Askatoon.  He was always sure to be stimulated by a new point of view, but he never failed to provoke Kernaghan by scepticism.

“One wild bird from ‘Pernambukoko’ does not make a zoological garden, Patsy,” he said with an air of dissent.

“Well, that’s true for you, Doctor dear,” answered Kernaghan, “but this gardin’s got a bunch of specimens for all that.  Listen to me now.  Did ye ever notice the likeness between the faces of people and of animals an’ things that fly?  You never did?  Well, be thinkin’ of it now.  Ivry man and wumman here at Tralee looks like an animal or a bird in a zoolyogical gardin.  Shure, there’s no likeness between anny two of them; it’s as if they was gathered from ivry corner of the wide wurruld.  There’s a Mongolian in the kitchen an’ slitherin’ about outside, doin’ the things that’s part for man and part for wumman.  Li Choo they call him.  Isn’t his the face of a bald-headed baboon?  An’ the half-breed crature ­she might ha’ come from Patagony.  An’ the ould man Mazarine ­part rhinoceros and part Methody, he is.  An’ what do ye be thinkin’ of him they call Giggles, that almost guv his life to save the ould behemoth!  Doesn’t he remind you of the zebra, where the wild Hottentots come from ­smart and handsome, but that showy, all stripes and tail and fetlock!  D’ye unnerstand what I mean, y’r anner?”

“Have you finished calling names, Kernaghan?” asked the Young Doctor in a low tone.  “Have you really finished your zoological list?”

Kernaghan’s eye flashed.  “Aw, Doctor dear,” said he, “manny’s the time in County Inniskillen, where you come from, you’ve seen a wild thing, bare-footed, springin’ from stone to stone on the hillside, wid her hair flyin’ behind like the daughter of a witch or somethin’ only half human-so belongin’ to the hills an’ the bogs an’ the cromlechs was she.  Well, that’s the maid that’s mistress of Tralee ­belongin’ as much to the Gardin of Eden as to this place here.  There’s none of them here that belongs.  Every wan of them’s been caught away from where he ought to be into this zoolyogical gardin.”

“Well, there’s one good thing about a zoological garden, Patsy Kernaghan,” said the Young Doctor; “it’s generally a safe place for the birds and animals in it.”

“But suppose some wan ­suppose, now, the Keeper got drunk and let loose the popylashin’ of the gardin upon each other, d’ye think would it be a Gardin of Eden?” Suddenly Patsy’s manner changed.  “Aw, I tell you this, then:  I don’t like what I see here, an’ I like it less an’ less ivry day.”

“What don’t you like, Patsy?” asked the other quizzically.

“I don’t like the way the old fella watches that child he calls his wife.  I don’t like the young fella bein’ the cause of the old man’s watchin’.”

“What has happened?  What has he done?” asked the Young Doctor a little anxiously.

“Divils me own, it isn’t what he’s done; it’s his bein’ here.  It’s his bein’ what he is.  It doesn’t need doin’ to bring wild youth together.  Look at her, y’r anner!  A week ago she was like wan that ’d be called to the Land of Canaan anny minnit.  Wasn’t you here tendin’ her, as if she was steppin’ intil her grave, an’ look at her now!  She’s like a rose in the garden, like a lark’s lilt in the air.  What has done it?  The young man’s done it.  You’ll be tellin’ the ould fella it’s the tonic you’ve guv her.  Tonic!  How long d’ye think he’ll belave it?’

“But she never sees Mr. Guise, does she, Patsy?  Isn’t his mother always with him?  Hasn’t Mazarine forbidden his wife to enter the room?”

Kernaghan threw out his hands.  “An’ you’re the man they say’s the cleverest steppin’ between Winnipeg and the Mountains ­an’ ­an’ ­you talk to me like that!  Is the ould fella always in the house?  Is he always upstairs?  I ask you now.  I’ll tell you this, y’r anner ­”

The Young Doctor interrupted him.  “Don’t you suppose that there’s somebody always watching, Patsy ­the half-breed, the Chinaman?”

Kernaghan snapped a finger.  “Aw, must I be y’r schoolmaster in the days of your dotage!  Of course the ould fella has someone to watch, an’ I dunno which it is ­the Chinaman or the half-breed wumman.  But I’ll tell you this:  they’ll take his pay and lie to him about whatever’s goin’ on inside the house.  That girl has them both in the palms of her hands.  Let him set what spies he will, she’ll do what she wants, if the young man lets her.”

“His mother ­” interjected the Young Doctor.  “Her of the plumage ­her!  Shure, she’s not livin’ in this wurruld.  She’s only visitin’ it.  She’s got no responsibility.  If iver there was a child of a fairy tale, that wumman’s the child.  I belave she’d think her son was doin’ right if he tied the ould fella up to a tree an’ stuck him as full of Ingin arrows as a pin-cushion, an’ rode off with the lovely little lady in beyant there.  That’s my mind about her.  It isn’t on her you can rely.  If ye want the truth, y’r anner, them two young people have had words together and plenty of them, whether it’s across the hall ­her room from his; or in his room; or through the windy or down the chimney-shure, I don’t care!  They’ve spoke.  There’s that between them wants watchin’.  Not that there’s wrong in aither of them ­divil a bit!  I’ve got me own mind about Mr. Orlando Giggles.  As for her, the purty thing, she doesn’t know what wrong is ­that’s the worst of it!”

The Young Doctor tapped Kernaghan’s head gently with his whip.  “Patsy,” said he, “you talk a lot.  There’s no greater talker between here and Donegal.  But still I think you know what to say and whom to say it to.”

Kernaghan’s cap came off.  He ran his fingers through his hair and looked at the other with a primitive intelligence which showed him to be what the Young Doctor knew him to be ­better than his looks, or his place in the world, or his reputation.

“Thank you kindly, y’r anner,” he said, softly.  “I’m troubled about things here, I am.  That’s why I spoke to ye.  I’m afraid of the old fella, for his place is not in the pen wid that young thing, an’ he’ll break her heart, or kill her, if he gets to know the truth.”

“What do you mean by ‘the truth,’ Patsy?” was the sharp query.

“I mean nothin’ at all, save that in there wild youth is spakin’ to wild youth ­honest and dacint and true.  But there’s manny a tragedy comes out of that, y’r anner.”

“Orlando has been sitting up for two days,” said the Young Doctor meditatively, “and in two days more he can be removed.  Patsy, you are staying on here. ­I know, and I trust you.  The girl and the young man have both been my patients.  I think as much of both of them as I can think of any man or woman.  He’s straight and ­”

“But a girl’s mad when the love-song rises in her heart,” interjected Kernaghan.

“Yes, I know, Patsy, but it isn’t so bad as you think.  I had a talk with her to-day.  Perhaps we can get him away to-morrow.  Meanwhile, there can’t much happen.”

“Can’t much happen, wid that ould wuman in the garden there, an’ the young wife upstairs, an’ the fine young fella sittin’ alone in his room achin’ for the sound of her voice!  Shure, they’re together at this minnit, p’r’aps.”

The Young Doctor tapped Kernaghan again on the head with his whip.  “You’re a wild Irishman still,” he said, “but I think none the worse of you for that.  Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.  Keep your head, Patsy.”  And whipping up his horse, he nodded and drove on.

It may be that Kernaghan’s instinct was no truer than his own.  It may be the Young Doctor knew Kernaghan’s instinct to be true; and it also may be that what Kernaghan thought possible, the Young Doctor thought possible; but he also felt that things must be as they must be.

In any case Kernaghan was right; for while the little flamboyant lady from Slow Down Ranch was busy in the front garden, Louise Mazarine was with her wounded guest, with the man who had saved her husband’s money and perhaps his life.  The wounded guest regarded his wound as a blessing almost.  Perhaps that was why he did not notice that his host had only been silently grateful.