Light O' The Morning
L. T. Meade
Part 2 out of 6
She sipped the potheen, ate a little bacon and cold potatoes, and
presently declared herself well again.
"Oh, I am perfectly all right!" she said; "it was coming home in the
boat in my wet things. I wish I had taken a pair of sculls again;
then I wouldn't even have been cold."
"Now you'll tell me," said Biddy, who sat on the edge of the bed
munching great chunks of bacon and eating her cold potatoes with
extreme relish. "Oh! it's hungry I am; but I want to hear all about
the lady Banshee. Did she come? Did you see her, Nora?"
"No, she didn't come," said Nora very shortly.
"Didn't come? But they say she never fails when the moon is at the
full. She rises up out of that pool--the bottomless pool it is
called--and she floats over the water and waves her hand. It's awful
to see her if you don't belong to her; but to those who belong to
her she is tender and sweet, like a mother, they say; and her breath
is like honey, and her kiss the sweetest you ever got in all your
life. You mean to say you didn't see her? Why, Nora, what has come
to you? You're trembling again."
"I cannot tell you, Biddy; don't ask me any more. I didn't see the
Banshee. It was very, very cold standing up to my knees in the
water. I suppose I did wrong to go; but that's done and over now.
Oh, I am so tired and sleepy! Do get into bed, Biddy, and let us
have what little rest we can."
Early the next morning Nora returned to O'Shanaghgan. All trace of
ill effects had vanished under Biddy's prompt treatment. She had
lain under her eight blankets until she found them intolerable, had
then tossed most of them off, and fallen into deep slumber. In the
morning she looked much as usual; but no entreaties on the part of
Biddy, joined in very heartily by Squire Murphy and also by Mrs.
Murphy, could induce her to prolong her visit.
"It's a message I'll take over myself to your father if you'll but
stay, Nora," said the Squire.
"No, no; I must really go home," answered Nora.
"It's too fine you are for us, Nora, and that's the truth; and don't
go for to be denying it," said Mrs. Murphy.
"No; I hope I may never be too fine for my real friends," said Nora
a little sadly. "I must go back. I believe I am wanted at home."
"You're a very conceited colleen; there's no girl that can't be
spared from home sometimes," said Mrs. Murphy. "I thought you would
help Biddy and me to pick black currants. There are quarts and
quarts of 'em in the garden, and the maids can't do it by
themselves, poor things. Well, Biddy, you have got to help me
"Oh, mammy, I just can't," answered Biddy. "I'm due down at the
shore, and I want to go a bit of the way back with Nora. You can't
expect me to help you today, mammy."
"There she is, Nora--there she is!" exclaimed the good lady, her
face growing red and her eyes flashing fire; "not a bit of good, not
worth her keep, I tell her. Why shouldn't she stay at home and help
her mother? Do you hear me, Squire Murphy? Give your orders to the
girl; tell her to stay at home and help her mother."
"Ah, don't be bothering me," said Squire Murphy. "It's out I'm going
now. I have enough on my own shoulders without attending to the
tittle-tattle of women."
He rose from the table, and the next moment had left the room.
"Dear, dear! there are bad times ahead for poor Old Ireland," said
Mrs. Murphy. "Children don't obey their parents; husbands don't
respect their wives; it's a queer state of the country. When I was
young, and lived at my own home in Tipperary, we had full and
plenty. There was a bite and a sup for every stranger who came to
the door, and no one talked of money, nor thought of it neither. The
land yielded a good crop, and the potatoes--oh, dear! oh, dear! that
was before the famine. The famine brought us a lot of bad luck, that
"But the potatoes have been much better the last few years, and this
year they say we're going to have a splendid crop," said Nora. "But
I must go now, Mrs. Murphy. Thank you so much for asking me."
"You're looking a bit pale; but you're a beautiful girl," said the
good woman admiringly. "I'd give a lot if Biddy could change places
with you--that is, in appearance, I mean. She's not a credit to
anybody, with her bumpy forehead and her cocked nose, and her rude
ways to her mother."
"Mammy, I really cannot help the way I am made," said Biddy; "and as
to staying in this lovely day picking black currants and making jam,
and staining my fingers, it's not to be thought of. Come along out,
Nora. If you must be off back to O'Shanaghgan, I mean to claim the
last few moments of your stay here."
The girls spent the morning together, and early in the afternoon
Nora returned to O'Shanaghgan. Terence met her as she was driving
down the avenue.
"How late you are!" he said; "and you have got great black shadows
under your eyes. You know, of course, that I have to catch the early
train in the morning?"
"To be sure I do, Terry; and it is for that very reason I have come
back so punctually. I want to pack your things my own self."
"Ah, that's a good girl. You'll find most of them laid out on the bed.
Be sure you see that all my handkerchiefs are there--two dozen--and
all marked with my initials."
"I never knew you had so many."
"Yes; mother gave me a dozen at Christmas, and I have not used them
yet. I shall want every bit of decent clothing I possess for my
visit to my rich Uncle Hartrick."
"How is mother, Terence?"
"Mother? Quite well, I suppose; she is fretting a bit at my going;
you'll have to comfort her. The place is very rough for her just
"I don't see that it is any rougher than it has ever been," said
Nora a little fiercely. "You're always running down the place,
"Well, I can't help it. I hate to see things going to the dogs," said
the young man. He turned on his heel, called a small fox-terrier, who
went by the name of Snap, to follow him, and went away in the direction
of the shore.
Nora whipped up her pony and drove on to the house. Here she was
greeted by her father. He was standing on the steps; and, coming
down, he lifted her bodily out of the dog-cart, strained her to his
heart, and looked full into her eyes.
"Ah, Light o' the Morning, I have missed you," he said, and gave a
The girl nestled up close to him. She was trembling with excess of
"And I have missed you," she answered. "How is the mother?"
"I suppose she is all right, Nora; but there, upon my word, she does
vex me sometimes. Take the horse to the stables, and don't stand
staring there, Peter Jones." The Squire said these latter words on
account of the fixed stare of a pair of bright black eyes like sloes
in the head of the little chap who had brought the trap for Nora. He
whipped up the pony, turned briskly round, and drove away.
"Come out for a bit with me round the grounds, Nora. It's vexed I
am, sometimes; I feel I cannot stand things. I wish my lady would
not have all those fine airs. But there, I have no right to talk
against your mother to you, child; and of course she is your mother,
and I am desperately proud of her. There never was her like for
beauty and stateliness; but sometimes she tries me."
"Oh! I know, father; I know. But let's go round and look at the new
calf and the colt. We can spare an hour--can we not?"
"Yes; come along quick, Nora," answered the Squire, all smiles and
jokes once more. "The mother doesn't know you have come back, and we
can have a pleasant hour to ourselves."
THE SQUIRE'S TROUBLE.
Nora and her father went slowly down a shady walk, which led in the
direction of the shore. Soon they found themselves in a hay-field. The
crop here was not particularly good. The hay had been spoiled by rains,
which had soaked down on the lands a fortnight ago. It was stunted in
height, and in some parts had that impoverished appearance which is so
painful to the heart of the good farmer.
Squire O'Shanaghgan, notwithstanding his somewhat careless ways, was
really a capital farmer. He had the best interests of the land at
heart, and did his utmost to get profit out of his many acres. He
now shook his head over the hay-crop.
"It's just like all the rest, Norrie--everything going to ruin--the
whole place going to the dogs; and yet--and yet, colleen, it's about
the sweetest bit of earth in all God's world. I wouldn't give
O'Shanaghgan for the grandest place in the whole of England; and I
told your lady-mother so this morning."
"Why did you say it, father? Had mother been--"
"Oh, nothing, child--nothing; the old grumbles. But it's her way,
poor dear; she can't help herself; she was born so. It's not to be
expected that she who was brought up in that prim land over yonder,
where everything is cut and dry, and no one ever thinks of managing
anything but by the rule of three, would take to our wild ways. But
there, Norrie, it's the freedom of the life that suits me; when I am
up and away on Black Bess or on Monarch, I don't think there is a
happier fellow in the world. But there, when I come face to face
with money, why, I'm bothered--I'm bothered entirely, child."
"Father," said Nora, "won't you tell me what is worrying you?"
"How do you know I am worried about anything, colleen?"
"How do I know, father?" answered Nora a little playfully. She turned
and faced him. "I know," she said; "that is enough; you are worried.
What is it?"
The Squire looked at her attentively. He was much the taller of the
two, and his furrowed face seemed to the girl, as she looked up at
him, like a great rock rising above her. She was wont to sun herself
in his smile, and to look to him always as a sure refuge in any
perplexity. She did not love anyone in the whole world as she loved
her father. His manliness appealed to her; his generous ways suited
her; but, above all these things, he was her father; he was Irish to
his backbone, and so was she.
"You must tell me," she said. "Something is troubling you, and Nora
has to know."
"Ah, my Light o' the Morning! what would I do without you?" answered
"Prove that you trust me," said Nora, "and tell me what worries
"Well, Nora, you cannot understand; and yet if you could it would be a
relief to unburden my mind. But you know nothing about mortgages--do
you, little woman?"
"More than you think," said Nora. "I am not a child--I am nearly
seventeen; and I have not lived at O'Shanaghgan all my life for
nothing. Of course we are poor! I don't know that I want to be
"I'll tell you what I want," said the Squire; "I want to forget that
there is such a thing as money. If it were not for money I would say
to myself, 'There's not a better lot than mine.' What air we have
here!" He opened his mouth and took in a great breath of the pure
Atlantic breezes. "What a place it is! Look at the beauty of it!
Look round, Norrie, and see for yourself; the mountains over there;
and the water rolling up almost to our doors; and the grand roar of
the waves in our ears; and those trees yonder; and this field with
the sun on it; and the house, though it is a bit of a barrack, yet
it is where my forebears were born. Oh, it's the best place on
earth; it's O'Shanaghgan, and it's mine! There, Nora, there; I can't
The Squire dashed his hand to his brow. Nora looked up at him; she
was feeling the exposure and excitement of last night. Her pallor
suddenly attracted his attention.
"Why, what's the matter with you, colleen?" he said. "Are you well--are
you sure you're well?"
"Absolutely, perfectly well, father. Go on--tell me all."
"Well, you know, child, when I came in for the estate it was not to
"What does that mean, father?"
"It was my father before me--your grandfather--the best hunter in
the county. He could take his bottle of port and never turn a hair;
and he rode to hounds! God bless you, Nora! I wish you could have
seen your grandfather riding to hounds. It was a sight to remember.
Well, he died--God bless him!--and there were difficulties. Before
he died those difficulties began, and he mortgaged some of the outer
fields and Knock Robin Farm--the best farm on the whole estate; but
I didn't think anything of that. I thought I could redeem it; but
somehow, child, somehow rents have been going down; the poor folk
can't pay, and I'm the last to press them; and things have got worse
and worse. I had a tight time of it five years ago; I was all but
done for. It was partly the fact of the famine; we none of us ever
got over that--none of us in this part of Ireland, and many of the
people went away. Half the cabins were deserted. There's half a mile
of 'em down yonder; every single one had a dead man or woman in it
at the time of the famine, and now they're empty. Well of course,
you know all about that?"
"Oh, yes, father; Hannah has told me of the famine many, many
"To be sure--to be sure; but it is a dark subject, and not fit for a
pretty young thing like you. But there, let me go on. It was five
years ago I mortgaged some of the place, a good bit, to my old
friend Dan Murphy. He lent me ten thousand pounds--not a penny more,
I assure you. It just tided me over, and I thought, of course, I'd
pay him back, interest and all, by easy stages. It seemed so easy to
mortgage the place to Murphy, and there was nothing else to be
The Squire had been walking slowly; now he stopped, dropped Nora's
hand from his arm, and faced her.
"It seemed so easy to mortgage the land to Dan Murphy," he said,
dropping his voice, "so very easy, and that money was so handy, and
"Yes, father?" said Nora in a voice of fear. "You said these words
before. Go on--it was so easy. Well?"
"Well, a month ago, child, I got a letter from Murphy's lawyer in
Dublin, to say that the money must be paid up, or they would
"Foreclose, father. What is that?"
"Take possession, child--take possession."
"A month ago you got that letter? They would take possession--possession
of the land you have mortgaged. Does that mean that it would belong
to Squire Murphy, father?"
"So I thought, my dear colleen, and I didn't fret much. The fact is,
I put the letter in the fire and forgot it. It was only three days
ago that I got another letter to know what I meant to do. I was
given three months to pay in, and if I didn't pay up the whole ten
thousand, with the five years' interest, they'd foreclose. I hadn't
paid that, Nora; I hadn't paid a penny of it; and what with interest
and compound interest, it mounted to a good round sum. Dan charged
me six per cent, on the money; but there, you don't understand
figures, child, and your pretty head shan't be worried. Anyhow, I
was to pay it all up within the three months--I, who haven't even
fifty pounds in the bank. It was a bit of a staggerer."
"I understand," said Nora; "and that was why you went the day before
yesterday to see Squire Murphy. Of course, he'll give you time;
though, now I come to think of it, he is very poor himself."
"He is that," said the Squire. "I don't blame him--not a bit."
"But what will you do, father?"
"I must think. It is a bit of a blow, my child, and I don't quite
see my way. But I am sure to, before the time comes; and I have got
"But won't he let you off, father? Must you really pay it in three
"God help me, Norrie! I can't, not just now; but I will before the
"But what did he say, father? I don't understand."
"It's this, Nora. Ah, you have a wise little head on your shoulders,
even though you are an Irish colleen. He said that he had sold my
mortgage to another man, and had got money on it; and the other man--he
is an Englishman, curse him!--and he wants the place, Nora, and he'll
take it in lieu of the mortgage if I don't pay up in three months."
"The place," said Nora; "O'Shanaghgan--he wants O'Shanaghgan?"
"Yes, yes; that's it; he wants the land, and the old house."
"But he can't," said Nora. "You have not--oh! you have not mortgaged
"Bless you, Nora! it is I that have done it; the house that you were
born in, and that my father, and father before him, and father before
him again, were born in, and that I was born in--it goes, and the
land goes, the lake yonder, all these fields, and the bit of the shore;
all the bonny place goes in three months if we cannot pay the mortgage.
It goes for an old song, and it breaks my heart, Nora."
"I understand," said Nora very gravely. She did not cry out; the
tears pressed close to the back of her eyes, and scalded her with
cruel pain; but she would not allow one of them to flow. She held
her head very erect, and the color returned to her pale cheeks, and
a new light shone in her dark-blue eyes.
"We'll manage somehow; we must," she said.
"I was thinking of that," said the Squire. "Of course we'll manage."
He gave a great sigh, as if a load were lifted from his heart. "Of
course we'll manage," he repeated; "and don't you tell your mother,
for the life of you, child."
"Of course I will tell nothing until you give me leave. But how do
you mean to manage?"
"I am thinking of going up to Dublin next week to see one or two old
friends of mine; they are sure to help me at a pinch like this. They
would never see Patrick O'Shanaghgan deprived of his acres. They
know me too well; they know it would break my heart. I was thinking
of going up next week."
"But why next week, father? You have only three months. Why do you
put it off to next week?"
"Why, then, you're right, colleen; but it's a job I don't fancy."
"But you have got to do it, and you ought to do it at once."
"To be sure--to be sure."
"Take me with you, father; let us go tomorrow."
"But I have not got money for us both. I must go alone; and then
your mother must not be left. There's Terence gallivanting off to
England to visit his fine relations, and that will take a good bit.
I had to give him ten pounds this morning, and there are only forty
now left in the bank. Oh, plenty to tide us for a bit. We shan't
want to eat much; and there's a good supply of fruit and vegetables
on the land; and the poor folk will wait for their wages. Of course
there will be more rents coming in, and we'll scrape along somehow.
Don't you fret, colleen. I declare it's light as a feather my heart
is since I told you the truth. You are a comfort to me, Norrie."
"Father," said Nora suddenly, "there's one thing I want to say."
"What is that, pet?"
"You know Andy Neil?"
"What! Andrew Neil--that scoundrel?" The Squire's brow grew very
black. "Yes, yes. What about him? You have not seen him, have you?"
"Yes, father, I have."
"Over at Murphy's? He knew he dare not show his face here. Well,
what about him, Nora?"
"This," said Nora, trembling very much; "he--he does not want you to
"He'll pay his rent, or he'll go," thundered the Squire. "No more of
this at present. I can't be worried."
"But, oh, father! he--he can't pay it any more than you can pay the
mortgage. Don't be cruel to him if you want to be dealt with mercifully
yourself; it would be such bad luck."
"Good gracious, Nora, are you demented? The man pays his rent, or he
goes. Not another word."
"Father, dear father!"
"Not another word. Go in and see your mother, or she'll be wondering
what has happened to you. Yes, I'll go off to Dublin to-morrow. If
Neil doesn't pay up his rent in a week, off he goes; it's men like
Andrew Neil who are the scum of the earth. He has put my back up;
and pay his rent he will, or out he goes."
EDUCATION AND OTHER THINGS.
The next day the Squire and Terence went off together. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan
was very angry with her husband for going, as she expressed it, to amuse
himself in Dublin. Dirty Dublin she was fond of calling the capital of
"What do you want to go to Dirty Dublin for?" she said. "You'll spend a
lot of money, and God knows we have little enough at the present moment."
"Oh, no, I won't, Ellen," he replied. "I'll be as careful as careful
can be; the colleen can witness to that. There's a little inn on the
banks of the Liffey where I'll put up; it is called the 'Green Dragon,'
and it's a cozy, snug little place, where you can have your potheen
and nobody be any the wiser."
"I declare, Patrick," said his lady, facing him, "you are becoming
downright vulgar. I wish you wouldn't talk in that way. If you have
no respect for yourself and your ancient family, you ought to
remember your daughter."
"I'm sure I'm not doing the colleen any harm," said the Squire.
"That you never could, father," replied Nora, with a burst of
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan surveyed her coldly.
"Go upstairs and help Terence to pack his things," she said; and
Nora left the room.
The next day the travelers departed. As soon as they were gone Mrs.
O'Shanaghgan sent for Nora to come and sit in the room with her.
"I have been thinking during the night how terribly neglected you
are," she said; "you are not getting the education which a girl in
your position ought to receive. You learn nothing now."
"Oh, mother, my education is supposed to be finished," answered
"Finished indeed!" said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan.
"Since Miss Freeman left I have had no governess; but I read a good
bit alone. I am very fond of reading," answered Nora.
"Distasteful as it all is to me," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, "I must
take you in hand myself. But I do wish your Uncle George would
invite you over to stay with them at The Laurels. It will do Terence
a wonderful lot of good; but you want it more, you are so unkempt
and undignified. You would be a fairly nice-looking girl if any
justice was done to you; but really the other day, when I saw you
with that terrible young person Bridget Murphy, it gave my heart
quite a pang. You scarcely looked a lady, you were laughing in such
a vulgar way, and quite forgetting your deportment. Now, what I have
been thinking is that we might spend some hours together daily, and
I would mark out a course of instruction for you."
"Oh, mammy," answered Nora, "I should be very glad indeed to learn;
you know I always hated having my education stopped, but father
"I don't want to hear what your father said," interrupted Mrs.
"Oh, but, mother dear, I really must think of father, and I must
respect what he says. He told me that my grandmother stopped her
schooling at fourteen, and he said she was the grandest lady, and the
finest and bonniest, in the country, and that no one could ever put
her to shame; for, although she had not much learning to boast of,
she had a smart answer for every single thing that was said to her.
He said you never could catch her tripping in her words, never--never;
and he thinks, mother," continued Nora, sparkling and blushing, "that
I am a little like my grandmother. There is her miniature upstairs.
I should like to be like her. Father did love her so very, very much."
"Of course, Nora, if those are your tastes, I have nothing further
to say," answered Mrs. O'Shanaghgan; "but while you are under my
roof and under my tuition, I shall insist on your doing a couple of
hours' good reading daily."
"Very well, mother; I am quite agreeable."
"I suppose you have quite forgotten your music?"
"No, I remember it, and I should like to play very much indeed; but
the old piano--you must know yourself, mother dear, that it is
impossible to get any music out of it."
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan uttered a groan.
"We seem to be beset with difficulties at every step," she said. "It
is such a mistake your father going to Dublin now, and throwing away
his little capital. Has he said anything to you about the mortgage,
by the way, Nora?"
"A little," she answered in a low voice.
"Ah, I see--told it as a secret; so like the Irish, making mysteries
about everything, and then blabbing them out the next minute. I
don't want, my dear, to encroach upon your father's secrets, so
don't be at all afraid. Now, bring down your Markham's History of
England and Alison's History of Europe, and I will set you a task to
prepare for me for to-morrow."
Nora went slowly out of the room. She hated Markham's History of
England. She had read it five or six times, and knew it by heart.
She detested George and Richard and Mary, and their conversations
with their mother were simply loathsome to her. Alison's History,
however, was tougher metal, and she thought she would enjoy a good
stiff reading of it. She was a very intelligent girl, and with
advantages would have done well.
She returned with the books. Her mother carelessly marked about
twenty pages in each, told her to read them in the course of the
day, and to come to her the next morning to be questioned.
"You can go now," she said. "I was very busy yesterday, and have a
headache. I shall lie down and go to sleep."
"Shall I draw down the blind, mother?"
"Yes, please; and you can put that rug over me. Now, don't run
shouting all over the house; try to remember you are a young lady.
Really and truly, no one would suppose that you and Terence were
brother and sister. He will do great credit to my brother George; he
will be proud of such a handsome young fellow as his nephew."
Nora said nothing; having attended to her mother's comforts, she left
the room. She went out into the sunshine. In her hand she carried the
two books. Her first intention was to take them down to one end of the
dilapidated garden and read them steadily. She was rather pleased than
otherwise at her mother's sudden and unlooked-for solicitude with
regard to her education. She thought it would be pleasant to learn
even under her mother's rather peculiar method of tutelage; but, as
she stood on the terrace looking across the exquisite summer scene,
two of the dogs, Creena and Cushla, came into view. They rushed up to
Nora with cries and barks of welcome. Down went the books on the
gravel, and off ran the Irish girl, followed by the two barking dogs.
A few moments later she was down on the shore. She had run out without
her hat or parasol. What did that matter? The winds and sea-breezes
had long ago taken their own sweet will on Nora's Irish complexion;
they could not tan skin like hers, and had given up trying; they could
only bring brighter roses into her cheeks and more sweetness into her
dark-blue eyes. She forgot her troubles, as most Irish girls will when
anything calls off their attention, and ran races with the dogs up and
down the shore. Nora was laughing, and the dogs were barking and
gamboling round her, when the stunted form of Hannah Croneen was seen
approaching. Hannah wore her bedgown and her short blue serge
petticoat; her legs and feet were bare; the breezes had caught up
her short gray locks, and were tossing them wildly about. She looked
very elfin and queer as she approached the girl.
"Why, then, Miss Nora, it's a word I want with you, a-colleen."
"Yes--what is it, Hannah?" answered Nora. She dropped her hands to
her sides and turned her laughing, radiant face upon the little
"Ah, then, it's a sight for sore eyes you are, Miss Nora. Why, it is
a beauty you are, Miss Nora honey, and hondsomer and hondsomer you
gets every time I see yez. It's the truth I'm a-telling yez, Miss
Nora; it's the honest truth."
"I hope it is, Hannah, for it is very pleasant hearing," answered
Nora. "Do I really get handsomer and handsomer? I must be a beauty
like my grandmother."
"Ah, she was a lady to worship," replied Hannah, dropping a courtesy
to the memory; such ways as she had, and her eyes as blue and dark
as the blessed night when the moon's at the full, just for all the
world like your very own. Why, you're the mortal image of her; not a
doubt of it, miss, not a doubt of it. But there, I want to say a
word to yez, and we need not spend time talking about nothing but
mere looks. Looks is passing, miss; they goes by and leaves yez
withered up, and there are other things to think of this blessed
"To be sure," answered Nora.
"And it's I that forgot to wish yez the top of the morning,"
continued the little woman. "I hear the masther and Masther Terry
has gone to foreign parts--is it true, miss?"
"It is not true of my father," replied Nora; "he has only gone to
"Ah, bless him! he's one in a thousand, is the Squire," said Hannah.
"But what about the young masther, him with the handsome face and
the ways?--aye, but he aint got your nice, bonny Irish ways, Miss
Nora--no, that he aint."
"He has gone to England for a time to visit some of my mother's
relations," replied Nora. "I am, sure it will do him a great deal of
good, and dear mother is so pleased. Now, then, Hannah, what is it?"
Hannah went close to the girl and touched her on her arm.
"What about your promise to Andy Neil?" she asked.
"My promise to Andy Neil," said Nora, starting and turning pale.
"How do you know about it?"
"A little bird told me," replied Hannah. "This is what it said:
'Find out if Miss Nora, the bonniest and handsomest young lady in
the place, has kept her word to Andy.' Have you done it, Miss Nora?
for it's word I have got to take the crayther, and this very night,
"Where?" said Nora. "Where are you going to meet him?"
"In the haunted glen, just by the Druid's Stone," replied the woman.
"At what hour?"
"Tin o'clock, deary. Aw, glory be to God! it's just when the clock
strikes tin that he'll be waiting for me there."
"I have no message," said Nora.
"Are you sure, Miss Nora?"
"When will you have?"
"Miss Nora, you don't mane it?"
"Yes, I do, Hannah. I have nothing to do with Andy Neil. I did what
I could for him, but that little failed. You can tell him that if
"But is it in earnest you are, Miss Nora? Do you mane to say that
you'll let the poor crayther have the roof taken off his cabin? Do
you mane it miss?"
"I wouldn't have the roof taken off his cabin," said Nora; "but
father is away, and he is Andy's landlord, and Andy has done
something to displease him. He had better come and talk to father
himself. I kept my word, and spoke; but I couldn't do anything. Andy
had better talk to father himself; I can do no more."
"You don't guess as it's black rage is in the crayther's heart, and
that there's no crime he wouldn't stoop to," whispered Hannah in a
low, awestruck voice.
"I can't help it, Hannah; I am not going to be frightened. Andy
would not really injure me, not in cold blood."
"Oh, wouldn't he just? The man's heart is hot within him; it's the
thought of the roof being taken off his cabin. I have come as his
messenger. You had best send some sort of message to keep him on the
quiet for a bit. Don't you send a hard message of that sort, heart
asthore; you'll do a sight of mischief if you do."
"I can only send him a true message," replied the girl.
"Whisht now, Miss Nora! You wouldn't come and see him yourself
tonight by the Druid's Stone?"
Nora stood for a moment considering. She was not frightened; she had
never known that quality. Even in the cave, when her danger was
extreme, she had not succumbed to fear; it was impossible for her to
feel it now, with the sunlight filling her eyes and the softest of
summer breezes blowing against her cheeks. She looked full at Hannah.
"I won't go," she said shortly.
"Miss Nora, I wouldn't ask yez if I could help myself. It's bothered I
am entirely, and frightened too. You'll come with me, Miss Nora--won't
"I will not come," answered Nora. "My mother is alone, and I cannot
leave her; but I tell you what I will do. Just to show Andy that I
am not afraid of him, when father returns I will come. Father will
be back in a couple of days; when he returns I will speak to him
once more about Andy, and I will bring Andy the message; and that is
all I can promise. If that is all you want to say to me, Hannah, I
will go home now, for mother is all alone."
Hannah stood with her little, squat figure silhouetted against the
sky; she had placed both her arms akimbo, and was gazing at Nora
with a half-comical, half-frightened glance.
"You're a beauty," she said, "and you has the courage of ten women.
I'll tell Andy what you say; but, oh, glory! there's mischief in
that man's eyes, or I'm much mistook."
"You can't frighten me," said Nora, with a laugh. "How are the
"Oh, bless yez, they're as well and bonny as can be. Little Mike, he
said he'd stand and wait till you passed by the gate, he's that took
up with you, Miss Nora. You'd be concaited if you heard all he says
Nora thrust her hand into her pocket.
"Here," she said, "is a bright halfpenny; give it to Mike, and tell
him that Nora loves him very much. And now I am going home. Hannah,
you'll remember my message to Andy, and please let him understand
that he is not going to frighten me into doing anything I don't
Squire O'Shanaghgan came home in a couple of days. He entered the
house in noisy fashion, and appeared to be quite cheerful. He had a
great deal to say about Dublin, and talked much of his old friends
during the evening that followed. Nora, however, try as she would,
could never meet his eye, and she guessed, even before he told her,
that his mission had been a failure. It was early the next morning
that he gave her this information.
"I tried them, one and all, colleen," he said, "and never were fellows
more taken aback. 'Is it you to lose your property, O'Shanaghgan?' they
said. They wouldn't believe me at first."
"Well, father, and will they help?" said Nora.
"Bless you, they would if they could. There's not a better-natured
man in the length and breadth of Ireland than Fin O'Hara; and as to
John Fitzgerald, I believe he would take us all into his barrack of
a house; but they can't help with money, Nora, because, bedad, they
haven't got it. A man can't turn stones into money, even for his
best and dearest friends."
"Then what is to be done, father?"
"Oh, I'll manage somehow," said Squire O'Shanaghgan; "and we have
three months all but a week to turn round in. We'll manage by hook
or by crook. Don't you fret your pretty little head. I wouldn't have
a frown on the brow of my colleen for fifty O'Shanaghgans, and
that's plain enough. I couldn't say more, could I?"
"No, father dear," answered Nora a little sadly.
"And tell me what you were doing while I was away," said the Squire.
"Faith! I thought I could never get back fast enough, I seemed to
pine so for you, colleen; you fit me down to the ground."
Nora began to relate the small occurrences which had taken place.
The Squire laughed at Mrs. O'Shanaghgan's sudden desire that Nora
should be an educated lady.
"I don't hold with these new fashions about women," he said; "and
you are educated enough for me."
"But, father, I like to read, I like to learn," said the girl. "I am
very, very anxious to improve myself. I may be good enough for you,
dear father, for you love me with all my faults; but some day I may
pine for the knowledge which I have not got."
"Eh! is it that way with you?" said the Squire, looking at her
anxiously. "They say it's a sort of a craze now amongst women, the
desire to beat us men on our own ground; it's very queer, and I
don't understand it, and I am sorry if the craze has seized my
"Oh! never mind, father dear; I wouldn't fret you for all the
learning in Christendom."
"And I wouldn't fret you for fifty estates like O'Shanaghgan," said
the Squire, "so it strikes me we are both pretty equal in our
sentiments." He patted her cheek, she linked her hand in his, and
they walked together down one of the sunny meadows.
Nora thought of Neil, but determined not to trouble her father about
him just then. Notwithstanding her cheerfulness, her own heart was
very heavy. She possessed, with all her Irish ways, some of the
common sense of her English ancestors, and knew from past experience
that now there was no hope at all of saving the old acres and the
old house unless something very unexpected turned up. She understood
her father's character too well; he would be happy and contented
until a week before the three months were up, and then he would
break down utterly--go under, perhaps, forever. As to turning his
back on the home of his ancestors and the acres which had come to
him through a long line, Nora could not face such a possibility.
"It cannot be; something must happen to prevent it," she thought.
She thought and thought, and suddenly a daring idea came into her
mind. All her life long her mother's relations had been brought up
to her as the pink of propriety, the souls of wealth. Her uncle,
George Hartrick, was, according to her mother, a wealthy man. Her
mother had often described him. She had said that he had been very
angry with her for marrying the Squire, but had confessed that at
times he had been heard to say that the O'Shanaghgans were the
proudest and oldest family in County Kerry, and that some day he
would visit them on their own estate.
"I have prevented his ever coming, Nora," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan;
"it would be such a shock to him. He thinks we live in a castle such
as English people live in, with suites of magnificent rooms, and
crowds and crowds of respectably dressed servants, and that we have
carriages and horses. I have kept up this delusion; he must never
come over to see the nakedness of the land."
But now the fact that her Uncle George had never seen the nakedness
of the land, and that he was attached to her mother, and proud of
the fact that she had married an Irish gentleman of old descent,
kept visiting Nora again and again. If she could only see him! If
she could only beg of him to lend her father a little money just to
avert the crowning disgrace of all--the O'Shanaghgans leaving their
home because they could not afford to stop there, Nora thought, and
the wild idea which had crept into her head gathered strength.
"There is nothing for it; something desperate must be done," she
thought. "Father won't save himself, because he does not know how.
He will just drift on until a week of the fatal day, and then he
will have an illness. I cannot let father die; I cannot let his
heart be broken. I, Nora, will do something."
So one day she locked herself in her room. She stayed there for a
couple of hours, and when she came out again a letter was thrust
into her pocket. Nora was not a good letter-writer, and this one had
taken nearly two hours to produce. Tears had blotted its pages, and
the paper on which it was written was of the poorest, but it was
done at last. She put a stamp on it and ran downstairs. She went to
Hannah's cabin. Standing in front of the cabin was her small admirer
Mike. He was standing on his head with the full blaze of the
sunlight all over him, his ragged trousers had slipped down almost
to his knees, and his little brown bare legs and feet were twinkling
in the sun. His bright sloe-black eyes were fixed on Nora as she
"Come here, Mike," said the girl. Mike instantly obeyed, and gave a
violent tug to one of his front locks by way of salutation. He then
stood with his legs slightly apart, watching Nora.
"Mike, I want you to go a message for me."
"To be sure, miss," answered Mike.
"Take this letter to the post-office; put it yourself into the
little slit in the wall. I will give you a penny when you have done
"Yes, miss," answered Mike.
"Here is the letter; thrust it into your pocket. Don't let anyone
see it; it's a secret."
"A saycret, to be sure, miss," answered Mike.
"And you shall have your penny if you come up to the Castle tonight.
Now good-by; run off at once and you will catch the mail."
"Yes, to be sure," said Mike. He winked at Nora, rolled his tongue
in his cheek, and disappeared like a flash down the dusty road.
The next few days seemed to drag themselves somehow. Nora felt limp,
and not in her usual spirits. The Squire was absent a good deal, too.
He was riding all over the country trying to get a loan from his
different friends. He was visiting one house after another. Some of
the houses were neat and well-to-do, but most of them sadly required
funds to put them in order. At every house Squire O'Shanaghgan
received a hearty welcome, an invitation to dinner, and a bed for
the night; but when he made his request the honest face that looked
into his became sorrowful, the hands stole to the empty pockets, and
refusals, accompanied by copious apologies, were the invariable result.
"There's no one in all the world I would help sooner, Pat, if I
could," said Squire O'Grady; "but I have not got it, my man. I am as
hard pressed as I can be myself. We don't get in the rents these
times. Times are bad--very bad. God help us all! But if you are
turned out, what an awful thing it will be! And your family the
oldest in the place. You're welcome, every one of you, to come here.
As long as I have a bite and sup, you and yours shall share it with
me." And Squire Malone said the same thing, and so did the other
squires. There was no lack of hospitality, no lack of good will, no
lack of sorrow for poor Squire O'Shanaghgan's calamities; but funds
to avert the blow were not forthcoming.
The Squire more and more avoided Nora's eyes; and Nora, who now had
a secret of her own, and a hope which she would scarcely dare to
confess even to herself, avoided looking at him.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan was a little more fretful than usual. She forgot
all about the lessons she had set her daughter in her laments over
her absent son, over the tattered and disgraceful state of the
Castle, and the ruin which seemed to engulf the family more and
Nora, meanwhile, was counting the days. She had made herself quite
_au fait_ with postal regulations during these hours of waiting.
She knew exactly the very time when the letter would reach Mr. Hartrick
in his luxurious home. She thought she would give him, perhaps, twelve
hours, perhaps twenty-four, before he replied. She knew, then, how
long the answer would take on its way. The night before she expected
her letter she scarcely slept at all. She came down to breakfast with
black shadows under her eyes and her face quite wan.
The Squire, busy with his own load of trouble, scarcely noticed her.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan took her place languidly at the head of the board.
She poured out a cup of tea for her daughter and another for her
"I must send to Dublin for some better tea," she said, looking at
the Squire. "Can you let me have a pound after breakfast, Pat? I may
as well order a small chest while I am about it."
The Squire looked at her with lack-luster eyes. Where had he got one
pound for tea? But he said nothing.
Just then the gossoon Mike was seen passing the window with the
post-bag hung over his shoulder. Mike was the postman in general for
the O'Shanaghgan household for the large sum of twopence a week. He
went daily to fetch the letters, and received his money proudly each
Saturday night. Nora now jumped up from the table.
"The letters!" she gasped.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan surveyed her daughter critically.
"Sit down again, Nora," she said. "What is the matter with you? You
know I don't allow these manners at table."
"But it is the post, mammy," said the girl.
"Well, my dear, if you will be patient, Margaret will bring the post
Nora sat down again, trembling. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan gave her a cold
stare, and helped herself languidly to a small snippet of leathery
"Our cook gets worse and worse," she said as she broke it. "Dear,
dear! I think I must make a change. I have heard of an excellent
cook just about to leave some people of the name of Wilson in the
town. They are English people, which accounts for their having a
At that moment the redoubtable Pegeen did thrust in her head,
holding the post-bag at arm's length away from her.
"Here's the post, Miss Nora," she said; "maybe you'll fetch it,
miss. I'm a bit dirty."
Nora could not restrain herself another moment. She rushed across the
room, seized the bag, and laid it by her father's side. As a rule,
the post-bag was quickly opened, and its small contents dispersed.
These consisted of the local paper for the Squire, which was always
put up with the letters, a circular or two, and, at long intervals, a
letter for Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, and perhaps one from an absent friend
for the Squire. No one was excited, as a rule, about the post at the
Castle, and Nora's ill-suppressed anxiety was sufficiently marked now
to make even her father look at her in some surprise. To the girl's
relief, her mother unexpectedly came to the rescue.
"She thinks, perhaps, Terence will write," she said; "but I told him
not to worry himself writing too often. Stamps cost money, and the
boy will need every penny to keep up a decent appearance at my
"All the same, perhaps he will be an Irish boy enough to write a
letter to his own sister," said the Squire. "So here goes; we'll
look and see if there is anything inside here for you, my little
The Squire unlocked the bag and emptied the contents on the table.
They were very meager contents; nothing but the newspaper and one
letter. The Squire took it up and looked at it.
"Here we are," he said; "it is for you, my dear."
"For me," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, holding out her hand. "Pass it
"No, it is not for you, my lady, as it happens. It is for Nora.
Here, Norrie, take it."
Nora took it up. She was shivering now, and her hand could scarcely
hold it. It was addressed to her, beyond doubt: "Miss O'Shanaghgan,
Castle O'Shanaghgan," etc.
"Read it at once, Nora," said her mother. "I have not yet had any
letter to speak of from Terry myself. If you read it aloud it will
entertain us. It seems to be a thick letter."
"I don't think--I don't think it--it is from Terence," answered
"Nonsense, my dear."
"Open it, Norrie, and tell us," said the Squire. "It will be
refreshing to hear a bit of outside news."
Nora now opened the envelope, and took a very thick sheet of paper
out. The contents of the letter ran as follows:
"My Dear Nora--Your brother Terence came here a week ago, and has
told us a great deal about you. We are enjoying having him
extremely; but he has made us all anxious to know you also. I write
now to ask if you will come and pay us a visit at once, while your
brother is here. Ask your mother to spare you. You can return with
Terence whenever you are tired of us and our ways. I have business
at Holyhead next Tuesday, and could meet you there, if you could
make it convenient to cross that day. I inclose a paper with the
hours that the boats leave, and when they arrive at Holyhead. I
could then take you up with me to London, and we could reach here
that same evening. Ask my sister to spare you. You will be heartily
welcome, my little Irish niece.--Your affectionate uncle,
Nora could scarcely read the words aloud. When she had finished she
let the sheet of paper flutter to the floor, and looked at her
mother with glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes.
"I may go? I must go," she said.
"My dear Nora," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, "why that must?"
"Oh, mammy! oh, daddy! don't disappoint me," cried the girl. "Do--do
let me go, please, please."
"Nora," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan again, "I never saw you so unreasonable
in your life; you are quite carried away. Your uncle, after long years,
has condescended to send you an invitation, and you speak in this
impulsive, unrestrained fashion. Of course, it would be extremely nice
for you to go; but I doubt for a single moment if it can be afforded."
"Oh, daddy, daddy! please take my part!" cried Nora. "Please let me
go, daddy--oh, daddy!" She rushed up to her father, flung her arms
round his neck, and burst into tears.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan rose from the table in cold displeasure. "Give me
your uncle's letter," she said.
Nora did not glance at her; she was past speaking. So much hung on
this; all the future of the O'Shanaghgans; the Castle, the old
Castle, the home of her ancestors, the place in which she was born,
the land she loved, the father she adored--all, all their future
hung upon Nora's accepting the invitation which she had asked her
uncle to give her. Oh! if they ever found out, what would her father
and mother say? Would they ever speak to her again? But they must
not find out, and she must go; yes, she must go.
"What is it, Nora? Do leave her alone for a moment, wife," said the
Squire. "There is something behind all this. I never saw Light o'
the Morning give way to pure selfishness before."
"It isn't--it isn't," sobbed Nora, her head buried on the Squire's
"My darling, light of my eyes, colleen asthore, acushla machree!"
said the Squire. He lavished fond epithets upon the girl, and
finally took her into his arms, and clasped her tight to his breast.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, after staring at the two in speechless
indignation for a moment, left the room. When she reached the door
she turned round.
"I cannot stand Irish heroics," she said. "This is a disgraceful
scene. Nora, I am thoroughly ashamed of you."
She carried her brother's letter away with her, however, and retired
into the drawing room. There she read it carefully.
How nice it would be if Nora could go! And Nora was a beauty, too--an
Irish beauty; the sort of girl who always goes down in England. She
would want respectable dress; and then--with her taking ways and those
roguish, dark-blue eyes of hers, with that bewitching smile which
showed a gleam of the whitest and most pearly teeth in the world, with
the light, lissome figure, and the blue-black hair--what could not
Irish Nora achieve? Conquests innumerable; she might make a match
worthy of her race and name; she might--oh, she might do anything. She
was only a child, it is true; but all the same she was a budding woman.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan sat and pondered.
"It seems a great pity to refuse," she said to herself. "And Nora
does need discipline badly; the discipline of England and my
brother's well-ordered home will work wonders with her. Poor child,
her father will miss her. I really sometimes think the Squire is
getting into his dotage. He makes a perfect fool of that girl; to
see her there speaking in that selfish way, and he petting her, and
calling her ridiculous names, with no meaning in them, and folding
her in his arms as if she were a baby, and all for pure, downright
selfishness, is enough to make any sensible person sick. Nora, too,
who has always been spoken of as the unselfish member of the family,
who would not spend a penny to save her life if she thought the
Squire was going to suffer. Now she wants him to put his hand into
his pocket for a considerable amount; for the child cannot go to my
brother without suitable clothes--that is a foregone conclusion.
But, dear me! all women are selfish when it comes to mere pleasure,
and Nora is no better than the rest. For my part, I admire dear
Terence's downright method of asking for so-and-so, and getting it.
Nora is deceitful. I am much disappointed in her."
THE DIAMOND CROSS.
But although Mrs. O'Shanaghgan spoke of her daughter to herself as
deceitful, she did not at all give up the idea of her accepting her
uncle's invitation. George Hartrick had always had an immense
influence over his sister Ellen. He and she had been great friends
long ago, when the handsome, bright girl had been glad to take the
advice of her elder brother. They had almost quarreled at that brief
period of madness in Ellen Hartrick's life, when she had fallen in
love with handsome Squire O'Shanaghgan; but that quarrel had long been
made up. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan had married the owner of O'Shanaghgan Castle,
and had rued her brief madness ever since. But her pride had prevented
her complaining to her brother George. George still imagined that she
kept her passionate love intact for the wild Irishman. Only one thing
she had managed ever since their parting, many years ago, and that
was, that her English brother should not come to see her in her Irish
home. One excuse after the other she had offered, and at last she had
told him frankly that the ways of the Irish were not his ways; and
that, when he really wanted to see his sister, he must invite her to
come to England to visit him.
Hartrick was hurt at Ellen's behavior, and as he himself had married
about the same time, and his own young family were growing up around
him, and the making of money and the toil of riches were claiming
him more and more, he did not often think of the sister who was away
in the wilds of Ireland. She had married one of the proud old Irish
chiefs. She had a very good position in her way; and when her son
and daughter required a little peep into the world, Hartrick
resolved that they should have it. He had invited Terence over; and
now Nora's letter, with its perplexity, its anguish, its bold
request, and its final tenderness, had come upon him with a shock of
George Hartrick was a much stronger character than his sister. He was
a very fine man, indeed, with splendid principles and downright ways;
and there was something about this outspoken and queer letter which
touched him in spite of himself. He was not easily touched; but he
respected the writer of that letter. He felt that if he knew her he
could get on with her. He resolved to treat her confidence with the
respect it seemed to him it deserved; and, without hesitation, he
wrote her the sort of letter she had asked him to write. She should
pay him a visit, and he would find out for himself the true state of
things at Castle O'Shanaghgan. Whether he would help the Squire or
not, whether there was any need to help him, he could not say, for
Nora had not really revealed much of the truth in her passionate
letter. She had hinted at it, but she had not spoken; she would wait
for that moment of outpouring of her heart until she arrived at The
Now, Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, standing alone in her big, empty drawing
room, and looking out at the summer landscape, thought of how Nora
might enter her brother's house. Fond as Mrs. O'Shanaghgan was of
Terence--he was in truth a son after her own heart--she had a queer
kind of pride about her with regard to Nora. Wild and untutored as
Nora looked, her mother knew that few girls in England could hold a
candle to her, if justice were done her. There was something about
the expression in Nora's eyes which even Mrs. O'Shanaghgan could
scarcely resist at times, and there were tones and inflections of
entreaty in Nora's voice which had a strange power of melting the
hearts of those who listened to her.
After about an hour Mrs. O'Shanaghgan went very slowly upstairs. Her
bedroom was over the drawing room. It was just as large as the
drawing room--a great bare apartment. The carpet which covered the
floor was so threadbare that the boards showed through in places;
the old, faded chintz curtains which hung at the windows were also
in tatters; but they were perfectly clean, for Mrs. O'Shanaghgan did
her best to retain that English cleanliness and order which she felt
were so needed in the land of desolation, as she was pleased to call
A huge four-post bedstead occupied a prominent place against one of
the walls; there was an enormous mahogany wardrobe against another;
but the whole center of the room was bare. The dressing-table,
however, which stood right in the center of the huge bay, was full
of pretty things--silver appointments of different kinds, brushes
and combs heavily mounted in silver, glass bottles with silver
stoppers, perfume bottles, pretty knick-knacks of all sorts. When
Nora was a little child she used to stand fascinated, gazing at her
mother's dressing-table. It was the one spot where any of the
richness of the Englishwoman's early life could still be found. Mrs.
O'Shanaghgan went up now and looked at her dressing-table, sweeping
her eyes rapidly over its contents. The brushes and combs, the
bottles of scent, the button-hooks, the shoe-horns, the thousand-
and-one little nothings, polished and bright, stood upon the
dressing-table; and besides these there was a large, silver-mounted
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan was not at all afraid to leave this jewel-case
out, exposed to view day after day, for no one all round the place
would have touched so much as a pin which belonged to the Squire's
lady. The people were poor, and would think nothing of stealing half
a bag of potatoes, or helping themselves to a good sack of fruit out
of the orchard; but to take the things from the lady's bedroom or
anything at all out of the house they would have scorned. They had
their own honesty, and they loved the Squire too much to attempt
anything of the sort.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan now put a key into the lock of the jewel-case
and opened it. When first she was married it was full of pretty
things--long strings of pearls, a necklet of very valuable diamonds,
a tiara of the same, rings innumerable, bracelets, head ornaments
of different kinds, buckles for shoes, clasps for belts, pins,
brooches. Mrs. O'Shanaghan, when Nora was a tiny child, used on
every one of the little girl's birthdays to allow her to overhaul
the jewel case; but of late years Nora had never looked inside it,
and Mrs. O'Shanaghgan had religiously kept it locked. She opened it
now with a sigh. The upper tray was quite empty; the diamonds had
long ago been disposed of. They had gone to pay for Terence's
schooling, for Terence's clothes, for one thing and another that
required money. They had gone, oh! so quickly; had melted away so
certainly. That first visit of her son's to England had cost Mrs.
O'Shanaghgan her long string of pearls, which had come to her as an
heirloom from her mother before her. They were very valuable pearls,
and she had sold them for a tenth, a twentieth part of their value.
The jeweler in Dublin, who was quite accustomed to receiving the
poor lady's trinkets, had sent her a check for fifty pounds for the
pearls, knowing well that he could sell them himself for at least
three hundred pounds.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan now once more rifled the jewel case. There were
some things still left--two or three rings and a diamond cross. She
had never wanted to part with that cross. She had pictured over and
over how it would shine on Nora's white neck; how lovely Nora would
look when dressed for her first ball, having that white Irish cross,
with its diamonds and its single emerald in the center, shining on
her breast. But would it not be better to give Nora the chance of
spending three or four months in England, the chance of educating
herself, and let the cross go by? It was so valuable that the good
lady quite thought that she ought to get seventy pounds for it. With
seventy pounds she could fit Nora up for her English visit, and have
a little over to keep in her own pocket. Only Nora must not go next
Tuesday; that was quite impossible.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan quickly determined to make the sacrifice. She
could still supply Nora with a little, very simple pearl necklet, to
wear with her white dress during her visit; and the cross would have
to go. There would be a few rings still left; after that the jewel
case would be empty.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan packed the precious cross into a little box, and
took it out herself to register it, and to send it off to the
jeweler who always bought the trinkets she sent him. She told him
that she expected him to give her, without the smallest demur,
seventy pounds for the cross, and hoped to have the money by the
next day's post.
Having done this and dispatched her letter, she walked briskly back
to the Castle. She saw Nora wandering about in the avenue. Nora,
hatless and gloveless, was playing with the dogs. She seemed to have
forgotten all about her keen disappointment of the morning. When she
saw her mother coming up the avenue she ran to meet her.
"Why, mammy," she said, "how early you are out! Where have you
"I dislike extremely that habit you have, Nora, of calling me mammy;
mother is the word you should address your parent with. Please
remember in future that I wish to be called mother."
"Oh, yes, mother!" answered Nora. The girl had the sweetest temper
in the world, and no amount of reproof ever caused her to answer
angrily. "But where have you been?" she said, her curiosity getting
the better of her prudence.
"Again, Nora, I am sorry to say I must reprove you. I have been to
the village on business of my own. It is scarcely your affair where
I choose to walk in the morning."
"Oh, of course not, mam--I mean mother."
"But come with me down this walk. I have something to say to you."
Nora eagerly complied. There was something in the look of her
mother's eyes which made her guess that the usual subject of
conversation--her own want of deportment, her ignorance of
etiquette--was not to be the theme. She felt her heart, which had
sunk like lead within her, rise again to the surface. Her eyes
sparkled and smiles played round her rosy lips.
"Yes, mother," she said; "yes."
"All impulse," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan--she laid her hand on Nora's
arm--"all impulse, all Irish enthusiasm."
"I cannot help it, you know," said Nora. "I was born that way. I am
Irish, you know, mammy."
"You are also English, my dear," replied her mother. "Pray remember
that fact when you see your cousins."
"My cousins! My English cousins! But am I to see them? Mother,
mother, do you mean it?"
"I do mean it, Nora. I intend you to accept your uncle's invitation.
No heroics, please," as the girl was about to fling her arms round
her mother's neck; "keep those for your father, Nora; I do not wish
for them. I intend you to go and behave properly; pray remember that
when you give way to pure Irishism, as I may express your most
peculiar manners, you disgrace me, your mother. I mean you to go in
order to have you tamed a little. You are absolutely untamed now,
"I never want to be broken in," whispered Nora, tears of mingled
excitement and pain at her mother's words brimming to her eyes. "Oh,
mother!" she said, with a sudden wail, "will you never, never
"I understand her quite well," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, her voice
assuming an unwonted note of softness; "and because I do understand
Nora so well," she added--and now she patted the girl's slender arm--"I
want her to have this great advantage, for there is much that is good
in you, Nora. But you are undisciplined, my dear; wild, unkempt.
Little did I think in the old days that a daughter of mine should have
to have such things said to her. Our more stately, more sober ways
will be a revelation to you, Nora. To your brother Terence they will
come as second nature; but you, my dear, will have to be warned
beforehand. I warn you now that your Uncle George will not understand
the wild excitement which you seem to consider the height of good
breeding at O'Shanaghgan."
"Mother, mother," said Nora, "don't say anything against
"Am I doing so?" said the poor lady. She stood for a moment and
looked around her. Nora stopped also and when she saw her mother's
eyes travel to the rambling old house, to the neglected lawn, the
avenue overgrown with weeds, it seemed to her that a stab of the
cruelest pain was penetrating her heart.
"Mother sees all the ugliness; she is determined to," thought Nora;
"but I see all the beauty. Oh! the dear, dear old place, it shan't
go if Nora can save it." Then, with a great effort, she controlled
"How am I to go?" she said. "Where is the money to come from?"
"You need not question me on that point," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan. "I
will provide the means."
"Oh, mother!" said Nora; "no, I would rather stay." But then she
remembered all that this involved; she knew quite well that her
mother had rifled the jewel-case; but as she had done so over and
over again just for Terence's mere pleasure, might she not do so
once more to save the old place?
"Very well," she said demurely; "I won't ask any questions."
"You had better not, for I have not the slightest idea of replying
to them," answered Mrs. O'Shanaghgan. "I shall write to your uncle
to-day. You cannot go next week, however."
"Oh! why not? He said Tuesday; he would meet me at Holyhead on
"I will try and provide a fit escort for you to England; But you
cannot go next Tuesday; your wardrobe forbids it," answered Mrs.
"My wardrobe! Oh, mother, I really need not bother about clothes!"
"You may not bother about them, Nora; but I intend to," replied Mrs.
O'Shanaghgan. "I must buy you some suitable dress."
"But how will you do it?"
"I have not been away from Castle O'Shanaghgan for a long time,"
said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, "and it will be a nice change for me. I
shall take you to Dublin, and get you what things are necessary. I
will then see you off on board the steamer."
"But would not father be best?"
"Your father can come with us or not, just as he pleases; but I am
the person who will see to your wardrobe for your English visit,"
replied her mother.
Nora, excited, bewildered, charmed, had little or nothing to oppose
to this plan. After all, her mother was coming out in a new light.
How indifferent she had been about Nora's dress in the past! For
Terence were the fashionable coats and the immaculate neckties and
the nice gloves and the patent-leather boots. For Nora! Now and then
an old dress of her mother's was cut down to fit the girl; but as a
rule she wore anything she could lay hands on, made anyhow. It is
true she was never grotesque like Biddy Murphy; but up to the
present dress had scarcely entered at all as a factor into her life.
The next few days passed in a whirl of bewildered excitement. Mrs.
O'Shanaghgan received, as she expected, by return of post, seventy
pounds from the Dublin jeweler for her lovely diamond cross. This
man was rapidly making his fortune out of poor Mrs. O'Shanaghgan,
and he knew that he had secured a splendid bargain for himself when
he bought the cross.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, therefore, with a full purse, could give
directions to her household during her brief absence, and altogether
was much brightened and excited at the thought of Nora's visit. She
had written herself to her brother, saying that she would be very
glad to spare her daughter, and giving him one or two hints with
regard to Nora's manners and bringing up.
"The Irish have quite different ideas, my dear brother," she wrote,
"with regard to etiquette to those which were instilled into us; but
you will bear patiently with my little wild Irish girl, for she has
a very true heart, and is also, I think you will admit, nice-looking."
Mr. Hartrick, who read between the lines of his sister's letter,
wrote to say that business would bring him to Holyhead on the
following Tuesday week also, and, therefore, it would be quite
convenient for him to meet Nora on that day.
The evening before she was to depart arrived at last. The Squire had
spent a busy day. From the moment when Nora had told him that her
mother had provided funds, and that she was to go to England, he had
scarcely reverted to the matter. In truth, with that curious Irish
phase in his character which is more or less the inheritance of
every member of his country, he contrived to put away the
disagreeable subject even from his thoughts. He was busy, very busy,
attending to his farm and riding round his establishment. He was
still hoping against hope that some money would come in his way long
before the three months were up, when the mortgagee would foreclose
on his property. He was not at all unhappy, and used to enter his
house singing lustily or whistling loudly. Nora sometimes wondered
if he also forgot how soon she was going to leave him. His first
call when he entered the house had always been "Light o' the
Morning, where are you? Come here, asthore; the old dad has
returned," or some such expression. It came to the excited girl's
heart with a pang how he would miss her when she was no longer
there; how he would call for her in vain, and feel bewildered for a
moment, and then remember that she was far away.
"But I shan't be long away," she thought; "and when I come back and
save him and the old place, oh, how glad he will be! He will indeed
then think me his Light o' the Morning, for I shall have saved him
and the old home."
But the last evening came, and Nora considered whether she ought to
recall the fact that she was going away, perhaps for a couple of
months, to her father. He came in as usual, sat down heavily on the
nearest settee, and stretched out his long legs.
"I wonder if I am getting old?" he said. "I declare I feel a bit
tired. Come along here, Nora, and cheer me up. What news have you
this evening, little woman?"
"Oh, father! don't you know?"
"Well, your eyes look bright enough. What is it, girleen?"
"I am going away to Dublin to-morrow."
"You? Bless you! so you are," said the Squire, with a hearty laugh.
"Upon my soul I forgot all about it. Well, and you are going to have
a good time, and you'll forget the old dad--eh?--you'll forget all
about the old dad?"
"Father, father, you know better," said Nora--she flung her arms
round his neck and laid her soft cheek against his--"as if I could
ever forget you for a single moment," she said.
"I know it, a-colleen; I know it, heart's asthore. Of course you
won't. I am right glad you are going; it will be a nice change for
you. And what about the bits of duds--eh?--and the pretty trinkets?
Why, you'll be going into grand society; you'll be holding your
little head like a queen. Don't you forget, my pet, that you're
Irish through and through, and that you come of a long line of brave
ancestors. The women of your house never stooped to a shabby action,
Nora; and never one of them sacrificed her honor for gold or
anything else; and the men were brave, girleen, very brave, and had
never fear in one of them. You remember that, and keep yourself
upright and brave and proud, and come back to the old dad with as
pure and loving a heart as you have now."
"Oh, father, of course, of course. But you will miss me? you will
"Bedad! I expect I shall," said the Squire; "but I am not going to
fret, so don't you imagine it."
"Have you," said Nora in a low whisper--"have you done anything
about-about the mortgage?"
"Oh, you be aisy," said the Squire, giving her a playful poke; "and
if you can't be aisy, be as aisy as you can," he continued,
referring to the old well-known saying. "Things will come right
enough. Why, the matter is weeks off yet. It was only yesterday I
heard from an old friend, Larry M'Dermott, who has been in
Australia, and has made a fine pile. He is back again, and I am
thinking of seeing him and settling up matters with him. Don't you
have an uneasy thought in your head, my child. I'll write to you
when the thing is fixed up, as fixed it will be by all that's likely
in a week or fortnight from now. But look here, Norrie, you'll want
something to keep in your pocket when you are away. I had best give
you a five-pound note."
"No, no," said Nora. "I wouldn't touch it; I don't want it."
"Why not? Is it too proud you are?"
"No; mother is helping me to this visit. I don't know how she has
got money. I suppose in the old way."
"Poor soul!" said the Squire. "To tell you the truth, Norrie, I
can't bear to look at that jewel-case of hers. I believe, upon my
word, that it is nearly empty. She is very generous, is your mother.
She's a very fine woman, and I am desperate proud of her. When
M'Dermott helps me to tide over this pinch I'll have all those
jewels back again by hook or by crook. Your mother shan't suffer in
the long run, and I'll do a lot to the old place--the old house
wants papering and painting. We'll dance a merry jig at O'Shanaghgan
at your wedding, my little girl; and now don't keep me, for I have
got to go out to meet Murphy. He said he would look around about
Nora left her father, and wandered out into the soft summer
gloaming. She went down the avenue, and leaned for a time over the
gate. The white gate was sadly in need of paint, but it was not
hanging off its hinges as the gate was which led to the estate of
Cronane. Nora put her feet on the last rung, leaned her arms on the
top one, and swayed softly, as she thought of all that was about to
happen, and the glorious adventures which would in all probability
be hers during the next few weeks. As she thought, and forgot
herself in dreams of the future, a low voice calling her name caused
her to start. A man with shaggy hair and wild, bright eyes had come
up to the other side of the gate.
"Why, then, Miss Nora, how are ye this evening?" he said. He pulled
his forelock as he spoke.
Nora felt a sudden coldness come over all her rosy dreams; but she
was too Irish and too like her ancestors to feel any fear, although
she could not help remembering that she was nearly half a mile away
from the house, and that there was not a soul anywhere within call.
"Good-evening, Andy," she said. "I must be going home now."
"No, you won't just yet," he answered. He came up and laid his dirty
hand on her white sleeve.
"No, don't touch me," said Nora proudly. She sprang off the gate,
and stood a foot or two away. "Don't come in," she continued; "stay
where you are. If you have anything to say, say it there."
"Bedad! it's a fine young lady that it is," said the man. "It aint
afeared, is it?"
"Afraid!" said Nora. "What do you take me for?"
"Sure, then, I take yez for what you are," said the man--"as fine
and purty a slip of a girleen as ever dwelt in the old Castle; but
be yez twice as purty, and be yez twice as fine, Andy Neil is not
the man to forget his word, his sworn word, his oath taken to the
powers above and the powers below, that if his bit of a roof is
taken off his head, why, them as does it shall suffer. It's for you
to know that, Miss Nora. I would have drowned yez in the deep pool
and nobody would ever be the wiser, but I thought better of that;
and I could here--yes, even now--I could choke yez round your pretty
soft neck and nobody would be any the wiser, and I'd think no more
of it than I'd think of crushing a fly. I won't do it; no I won't,
Miss Nora; but there's _thim_ as will have to suffer if Andy
Neil is turned out of his hut. You spake for me, Miss Nora; you
spake up for me, girleen. Why, the Squire, you're the light of his
eyes; you spake up, and say, 'Lave poor Andy in his little hut; lave
poor Andy with a roof over him. Don't mind the bit of a rint.' Why,
then, Miss Nora, how can I pay the rint? Look at my arrum, dear." As
the man spoke he thrust out his arm, pushing up his ragged shirt
sleeve. The arm was almost like that of a skeleton's; the skin was
starting over the bones.
"Oh, it is dreadful!" said Nora, all the pity in her heart welling
up into her eyes. "I am truly, truly sorry for you, Andy, I would do
anything in my power. It is just this: you know father?"
"Squire? Yes, I guess I know Squire," said the man.
"You know," continued Nora, "that when he takes what you might call
the bit between his teeth nothing will move him. He is set against
you, Andy. Oh, Andy! I don't believe he will listen."
"He had betther," said the man, his voice dropping to a low growl;
"he had betther, and I say so plain. There's that in me would stick
at nothing, and you had best know it, Miss Nora."
"Can you not go away, Andy?"
"I--and what for?"
"But can you?"
"I could, but I won't."
"I don't believe father will yield. I will send you some money from
England if you will promise to go away."
"Aye; but I don't want it. I want to stay on. Where would my old
bones lie when I died if I am not in my own counthry? I'm not going
to leave my counthry for nobody. The cot where I was born shall see
me die; and if the roof is took off, why, I'll put it back again.
I'll defy him and his new-fangled ways and his English wife to the
death. You'll see mischief if you don't put things right, Miss Nora.
It all rests with yez, alannah."
"I am awfully sorry for you, Andy; but I don't believe you would
seriously injure father, for you know what the consequences would
"Aye; but when a man like me is sore put to it he don't think of
consequences. It's just the burning wish to avenge his wrongs;
that's what he feels, and that's what I feel, Miss Nora, and so you
had best take warning."
"Well, I am going away to-morrow," said the girl. "My father is in
great trouble, and wants money very badly himself, and I am going to
"To be out of the way when the ruin comes. I know," said the man,
with a loud laugh.
"No; you are utterly mistaken. Andy, don't you remember when I was a
little girl how you used to let me ride on your shoulder, and once
you asked me for a tiny bit of my hair, that time when it was all in
curls, and I gave you just the end of one of my curls, and you said
you would keep it to your dying day? Would you be cruel to Nora now,
and just when her heart is heavy?"
"Your heart heavy? You, one of the quality--'taint likely," said the
"It is true; my heart is very heavy. I am so anxious about father; you
won't make me more anxious--will you? You won't do anything--anything
wrong--while I am away? Will you make me a promise that you will let
me go with an easy mind?"
"You ask your father to give me three months' longer grace, and then
"I will speak to him," said Nora very slowly. "I am sorry, because
he is worried about other things, and he does not take it kindly
when I interfere in what he considers his own province; but I'll do
my best. I cannot stay another moment now, Andy. Good-by."
She waved her hand to him, and ran down the avenue, looking like a
white wraith as she disappeared into the darkness.
A FEATHER-BED HOUSE.
Before she went to sleep that night Nora wrote a tiny note to her
"For the sake of your Light o' the Morning, leave poor Andy Neil in
his little cottage until I come back again from England. Do, dear
dad; this is the last wish of Nora before she goes away.
She thought and thought, and felt that she could not have expressed
herself better. Fear would never influence the Squire; but he would
do a good deal for Nora. She laid the letter just where she knew he
would see it when he entered his ramshackle study on the following
day; and the next morning, with her arms clasped round his neck and
her kisses on his cheeks, she gave him one hearty hug, one fervent
"God bless you, dad," and rushed after her mother.
The outside car was ready at the door. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan was already
mounted. Nora sprang up, and they were rattling off into the world,
"to seek my fortune," thought the girl, "or rather the fortune of
him I love best."
The Squire, with his grizzled locks and his deep-set eyes, stood in
the porch to watch Nora and her mother as they drove away.
"I'll be back in a twinkling, father; never you fret," called out
his daughter, and then a turn in the road hid him from view.
"Why, Nora, what are you crying for?" said her mother, who turned
round at that moment, and encountered the full gaze of the large
dark-blue eyes swimming in tears.
"Oh, nothing. I'll be all right in a moment," was the answer, and
then the sunshine broke all over the girl's charming face; and
before they reached the railway station Nora was chatting to her
mother as if she had not a care in the world.
Her first visit to Dublin and the excitement of getting really
pretty dresses made the next two or three days pass like a flash.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan with money in her pocket was a very different
woman from Mrs. O'Shanaghgan without a penny. She enjoyed making
Nora presentable, and had excellent taste and a keen eye for a
bargain. She fitted up her daughter with a modest but successful
wardrobe, bought her a proper trunk to hold her belongings, and saw
her on board the steamer for Holyhead.
The crossing was a rough one, but the Irish girl did not suffer from
seasickness. She stood leaning over the taffrail chatting to the captain,
who thought her one of the most charming passengers he ever had to
cross in the _Munster_; and when they arrived at the opposite
side, Mr. Hartrick was waiting for his niece. He often said since
that he would never forget his first sight of Nora O'Shanaghgan.
She was wearing a gray tweed traveling dress, with a little gray cap
to match; the slender young figure, the rippling black hair, and the
brilliant face flashed for an instant on the tired vision of the man
of business; then there came the eager outstretching of two hands, and
Nora had kissed him because she could not help herself.
"Oh, I am so glad to see you, Uncle George!" The words, the action,
the whole look were totally different from what his daughters would
have said or done under similar circumstances. He felt quite sure
that his sister's description of Nora was right in the main; but he
thought her charming. Drawing her hand through his arm, he took her
to the railway station, where the train was already waiting to
receive its passengers. Soon they were flying in _The Wild Irish
Girl_ to Euston. Nora was provided with innumerable illustrated
papers. Mr. Hartrick took out a little basket which contained
sandwiches, wine, and different cakes, and fed her with the best he
could procure. He did not ask her many questions, not even about the
Castle or her own life. He was determined to wait for all these
things. He read something of her story in her clear blue eyes; but
he would not press her for her confidence. He was anxious to know
her a little better.
"She is Irish, though, and they all exaggerate things so
dreadfully," was his thought. "But I'll be very good to the child.
What a contrast she is to Terence! Not that Terence is scarcely
Irish; but anyone can see that this child has more of her father
than her mother in her composition."
They arrived at Euston; then there were fresh changes; a cab took
them to Waterloo, where they once again entered the train.
"Tired, my dear niece?" said her uncle as he settled her for the
final time in another first-class compartment.
"Not at all. I am too excited to be tired," was her eager answer.
And then he smiled at her, arranged the window and blind to her
liking, and they started once more on their way.
Mr. Hartrick lived in a large place near Weybridge, and Nora had her
first glimpse of the lovely Surrey scenery. A carriage was waiting
for the travelers when they reached their destination--a carriage
drawn by a pair of spirited grays. Nora thought of Black Bess, and
secretly compared the grays to the disadvantage of the latter. But
she was determined to be as sweet and polite and English as her
mother would desire. For the first time in her whole existence she
was feeling a little shy. She would have been thoroughly at home on
a dog cart, or on her favorite outside car, or on the back of Black
Bess, who would have carried her swift as the wind; but in the
landau, with her uncle seated by her side, she was altogether at a
"I don't like riches," was her inward murmur. "I feel all in silken
chains, and it is not a bit pleasant; but how dear mammy--oh, I must
think of her as mother--how mother would enjoy it all!"
The horses were going slowly uphill, and now they paused at some
handsome iron gates. These were opened by a neatly dressed woman,
who courtesied to Mr. Hartrick, and glanced with curiosity at Nora.
The carriage bowled rapidly down a long avenue, and drew up before a
front door. A large mastiff rose slowly, wagged his tail, and
sniffed at Nora's dress as she descended.
"Come in, my dear; come in," said her uncle. "We are too late for
dinner, but I have ordered supper. You will want a good meal and
then bed. Where are all the others? Where are you, Molly? Where are
you, Linda? Your Irish cousin Nora has come."
A door to the left was quickly opened, and a graceful-looking lady,
in a beautiful dress of black silk and quantities of coffee lace,
stood on the threshold.
"Is this Nora?" she said. "Welcome, my dear little girl." She went
up to Nora, laid one hand on her shoulder, and kissed her gravely on
the forehead. There was a staid, sober sort of solemnity about this
kiss which influenced Nora and made a lump come into her throat.
This gracious English lady was very charming, and she felt at once
that she would love her.
"The child is tired, Grace," said her husband to Mrs. Hartrick.
"Where are the girls? Why are they not present?"
"Molly has been very troublesome, and I was obliged to send her to
her room," was her reply; "but here is Terence. Terence, your sister
"Oh, Terry!" cried Nora.
The next moment Terence, in full evening dress, and looking
extremely manly and handsome, appeared upon the scene. Nora forgot
everything else when she saw the familiar face; she ran up to her
brother, flung her arms round his neck, and kissed him over and
"Oh, it is a sight for sore eyes to see you!" she cried. "Oh, Terry,
how glad, how glad I am that you are here!"
"Hush! hush! Nonsense, Nora. Try to remember this is an English
house," whispered Terence; but he kissed her affectionately. He was
glad to see her, and he looked at her dress with marked approval.
"She will soon tame down, and she looks very pretty," was his
Just then Linda was seen coming downstairs.
"Has Nora come?" called out her sweet, high-bred voice. "How do you
do, Nora? I am so glad to see you. If you are half as nice as
Terence, you will be a delightful addition to our party."
"Oh, but I am not the least bit like Terence," said Nora. She felt
rather hurt; she did not know why.
Linda was a very fair girl. She could not have been more than
fifteen years of age, and was not so tall as Nora; but she had
almost the manners of a woman of the world, and Nora felt
unaccountably shy of her.
"Now take your cousin up to her room. Supper will be ready in a
quarter of an hour," said Mrs. Hartrick. "Come, George; I have
something to say to you."
Mr. and Mrs. Hartrick disappeared into the drawing-room. Linda took
Nora's hand. Nora glanced at Terence, who turned on his heel and
"See you presently, sis," he called out in what he considered a very
manly tone; and Nora felt her heart, as she expressed it, sink down
into her boots as she followed Linda up the richly carpeted stairs.
Her feet sank into the velvety pile, and she hated the sensation.
"It is all a sort of feather-bed house," she said to herself, "and I
hate a feather-bed house. Oh, I can understand my dad better than
ever to-night; but how mother would enjoy this!"
As they were going upstairs Linda suddenly turned and looked full at
"How very grave you are! And why have you that little frown between
your brows? Are you vexed about anything?"
"Only I thought Terry would be more glad to see me," replied Nora.
"More glad!" cried Linda. "I saw you hugging him as I ran
downstairs. He let you. I don't know how any one could show gladness
more. But come along; this is your room. It is next to Molly's and
mine. Isn't it pretty? Molly and I chose it for you this morning,
and we arranged those flowers. You will have such a lovely view, and
that little peep of the Thames is so charming. I hope you will like
Nora entered one of the prettiest and most lovely bedrooms she had
ever seen in her life. Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined
anything so cozy. The perfectly chosen furniture, the elegant
appointments of every sort and description, the view from the partly
opened windows, the view of winding river and noble trees--all
looked rich and cultivated and lovely; and the Irish girl, as she
gazed around, found suddenly a great, fierce hatred rising up in her
heart against what she called the mere prettiness. She turned and
faced Linda, who was watching her with curiosity in her somewhat
small blue eyes Linda was essentially English, very reserved and
quiet, very self-possessed, quite a young lady of the world. She
looked at Nora as if she meant to read her through.
"Well, don't you think the view perfect?" she said.
"Have you ever been in Ireland?" was Nora's answer.
"Never. Oh, dear me! have you anything as pretty as this in
"No," said Nora fiercely--"no." She left the window, turned back,
and began to unpin her hat.
"You look as if you did not care for your room."
"It is a very, very pretty room," said Nora, "and the view is very,
very pretty, but I am tired to-night. I did not know it; but I am. I
should like to go to bed soon."
"So you shall, of course, after you have had supper. Oh, how awfully
thoughtless of me not to know that you must be very tried and
hungry! Molly and I are glad you have come."
"But where is Molly? I should like to see her."
Linda went up to Nora and spoke in a low whisper.
"She is in disgrace."
"In disgrace? Has she done anything naughty?"
"Yes, fearfully naughty. She is in hot water as usual."
"I am sorry," said Nora. She instantly began to feel a strong
sensation of sympathy for Molly. She was sure, in advance, that she
would like her.
"But is she in such dreadful disgrace that I may not see her?" she
asked after a pause.
"Oh, I don't know. I don't suppose so."
Just then there was heard at the room door a gay laugh and a kind of
scamper. A knock followed, but before Nora could answer the door was
burst open, and a large, heavily made, untidy-looking girl, with a
dark face and great big black eyes, bounded into the apartment.
"I have burst the bonds, and here I am," she said. "How do you do,
Nora? I'm Molly. I am always and always in hot water. I like being
in hot water. Now, tell-tale-tit, you can go downstairs and acquaint
mother with the fact that I have burst the bonds, for kiss little
Irish Nora I will."
"Oh, I am glad to see you," said Nora. Her depression vanished on
the spot. She felt that, naughty as doubtless Molly was, she could
get on with her.
"Come, let's take a squint at you," said the eldest Miss Hartrick;
"come over here to the light."
Molly took Nora by both hands over to the window.
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