“There is the spring ball next week.”

“No.”

“Be reasonable.”

“I want you to send a telegram tomorrow.” Boldly, Honoré walks past Bernard in the door. “To McGauran O’Dowd.”

“My dear child, please, you are risking your reputation.”

“My reputation?” He scoffs. “Everyone already believes that I’m fit to be interned.”

Bernard sighs and then smiles a little. “Go downstairs and show them just how mad you are, my little pest. Why don’t you play them that terrifying Grieg piece you’ve been practicing all week?”

He cocks a brow. Yes, that could do. In the Hall of the Mountain King. He rarely gets to bang the lower keys with such pleasure.

Bernard comes closer and fixes his silk necktie again. “Remember, Honoré, you’re a special, most talented boy. But some men are like wolves. You must learn to keep up a strong front.”

“I’m not weak.” He turns and walks away.

“No, you’re not,” Bernard says behind him. “But you will make some men feel weak and that’s a dangerous thing.”

* * * *

Chapter 5: An Invitation

On the church steps, McGauran’s mother grabs his elbow. “Not so fast, lad,” she says with a bright smile.

It’s true, he’s in a hurry to get away, but he slows down anyway, looking at her. His mother’s skin is so pale, he can see the thin blue veins pulsing at her temples. She’s been working at Ames & Holden all week, coughing at night, keeping the Leary boys awake, but right now she’s happy, so he tries to smile back. Mary O’Dowd is always happy after church. She doesn’t have anything to fear or be forgiven for. Only Heaven’s rewards to look forward to.

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