Part 2 out of 4
Joycetown House was the last link between the present time and the past.
In the beginning of the century a duellist lived there; the terror of
the countryside he, for he was never known to miss his man. For the
slightest offence, real or imaginary, he sent seconds demanding redress.
No more than his ancestors, who had doubtless lived on the islands, in
Castle Island and Castle Hag, could he live without fighting. But when
he completed his round dozen, a priest said, 'If we don't put a stop to
his fighting, there won't be a gentleman left in the country,' and wrote
to him to that effect.
The story runs how Joyce, knowing the feeling of the country was against
him, tried to keep the peace. But the blood fever came on him again, and
he called out his nearest neighbour, Browne of the Neale, the only
friend he had in the world. Browne lived at Neale House, just over the
border, in County Galway, so the gentlemen arranged to fight in a
certain field near the mearing. It was Browne of Neale who was the first
to arrive. Joyce, having to come a dozen miles, was a few minutes late.
As soon as his gig was seen, the people, who were in hiding, came out,
and they put themselves between him and Browne, telling him up to his
face there was to be no fighting that day! And the priest, who was at
the head of them, said the same; but Joyce, who knew his countrymen,
paid no heed, but stood up in the gig, and, looking round him, said,
'Now, boys, which is it to be? The Mayo cock or the Galway cock?' No
sooner did he speak these words than they began to cheer him, and in
spite of all the priest could say they carried him into the field in
which he shot Browne of the Neale.
'A queer people, the queerest in the world,' Father Oliver thought, as
he pulled a thorn-bush out of the doorway and stood looking round. There
were some rough chimney-pieces high up in the grass-grown walls, but
beyond these really nothing to be seen, and he wandered out seeking
traces of terraces along the hillside.
On meeting a countryman out with his dogs he tried to inquire about the
state of the road.
'I wouldn't be saying, your reverence, that you mightn't get the car
through by keeping close to the wall; but Christy mustn't let the horse
out of a walk.'
The countryman said he would go a piece of the road with them, and tell
Christy the spots he'd have to look out for.
'But your work?'
'There's no work doing now to speak of, your reverence.'
The three of them together just managed to remove a fallen tree, which
seemed the most serious obstacle, and the countryman said once they were
over the top of the hill they would be all right; the road wasn't so bad
Half a mile further on Father Oliver found himself in sight of the main
road, and of the cottage that his sister Mary had lived in before she
joined Eliza in the convent.
To have persuaded Mary to take this step proved Eliza's superiority
more completely than anything else she had done, so Father Oliver often
said, adding that he didn't know what mightn't have happened to poor
Mary if she had remained in the world. For her life up to the time she
entered the convent was little else than a series of failures. She was a
shop-assistant, but standing behind the counter gave her varicose veins;
and she went to Dublin as nursery-governess. Father Oliver had heard of
musical studies: she used to play the guitar. But the instrument was not
popular in Dublin, so she gave it up, and returned to Tinnick with the
intention of starting a rabbit and poultry farm. Who put this idea into
her head was her secret, and when he received Eliza's letter telling him
of this last experiment, he remembered throwing up his hands. Of course,
it could only end in failure, in a loss of money; and when he read that
she was going to take the pretty cottage on the road to Tinnick, he had
become suddenly sad.
'Why should she have selected that cottage, the only pretty one in the
county? Wouldn't any other do just as well for her foolish experiment?'
The flowered cottage on the road to Tinnick stood in the midst of trees,
on a knoll some few feet above the roadway, and Father Oliver, when he
was a boy, often walked out by himself from Tinnick to see the
hollyhocks and the sunflowers; they overtopped the palings, the
sunflowers looking like saucy country girls and the hollyhocks like
grand ladies, delicate and refined, in pink muslin dresses. He used to
stand by the gate looking into the garden, delighted by its luxuriance,
for there were clumps of sweet pea and beds of red carnations and roses
everywhere, and he always remembered the violets and pansies he saw
before he went away to Maynooth. He never remembered seeing the garden
in bloom again. He was seven years at Maynooth, and when he came home
for his vacations it was too late or too early in the season. He was
interested in other things; and during his curacy at Kilronan he rarely
went to Tinnick, and when he did, he took the other road, so that he
might see Father Peter.
He was practically certain that the last time he saw the garden in bloom
was just before he went to Maynooth. However this might be, it was
certain he would never see it in bloom again. Mary had left the cottage
a ruin, and it was sad to think of the clean thick thatch and the
whitewashed walls covered with creeper and China roses, for now the
thatch was black and mouldy; and of all the flowers only a few stocks
survived; the rose-trees were gone--the rabbits had eaten them. Weeds
overtopped the currant and gooseberry bushes; here and there was a trace
of box edging. 'But soon,' he said, 'all traces will be gone, the roof
will fall in, and the garden will become part of the waste.' His eyes
roved over the country into which he was going--almost a waste; a meagre
black soil, with here and there a thorn-bush and a peasant's cabin.
Father Oliver knew every potato field and every wood, and he waited for
the elms that lined the roadway a mile ahead of him, a long, pleasant
avenue that he knew well, showing above the high wall that encircled a
nobleman's domain. Somewhere in the middle of that park was a great
white house with pillars, and the story he had heard from his mother,
and that roused his childish imaginations, was that Lord Carra was hated
by the town of Tinnick, for he cared nothing for Ireland and was said to
be a man of loose living, in love with his friend's wife, who came to
Tinnick for visits, sometimes with, sometimes without, her husband. It
may have been his Lordship's absenteeism, as well as the scandal the
lady gave, that had prompted a priest to speak against Lord Carra from
the altar, if not directly, indirectly. 'Both are among the gone,'
Father Oliver said to himself. 'No one speaks of them now; myself hasn't
given them a thought this many a year--' His memories broke off
suddenly, for a tree had fallen, carrying a large portion of the wall
with it, but without revealing the house, only a wooded prospect through
which a river glided. 'The Lord's mistress must have walked many a time
by the banks of that river,' he said. But why was he thinking of her
again? Was it the ugly cottage that put thoughts of her into his mind?
for she had done nothing to alleviate the lives of the poor, who lived
without cleanliness and without light, like animals in a den. Or did his
thoughts run on that woman, whom he had never seen, because Tinnick was
against her and the priest had spoken slightingly of the friends that
Lord Carra brought from England? The cause of his thoughts might be that
he was going to offer Nora Glynn to his sister as music-mistress. But
what connection between Nora Glynn and this dead woman? None. But he was
going to propose Nora Glynn to Eliza, and the best line of argument
would be that Nora would cost less than anyone as highly qualified as
she. Nuns were always anxious to get things cheap, but he must not let
them get Nora too cheap. But the question of price wouldn't arise
between him and Eliza. Eliza would see that the wrong he did to Nora was
preying on his conscience, and that he'd never be happy until he had
made atonement--that was the light in which she would view the matter,
so it would be better to let things take their natural course and to
avoid making plans. The more he thought of what he should say to Eliza,
the less likely was he to speak effectively; and feeling that he had
better rely on the inspiration of the moment, he sought distraction from
his errand by noting the beauty of the hillside. He had always liked
the way the road dipped and then ascended steeply to the principal
street in the town. There were some pretty houses in the dip--houses
with narrow doorways and long windows, built, no doubt, in the beginning
of the nineteenth century--and his ambition was once to live in one of
The bridge was an eighteenth-century bridge, with a foaming weir on the
left, and on the right there was a sentimental walk under linden-trees,
and there were usually some boys seated on the parapet fishing. He would
have liked to stop the car, so remote did the ruined mills seem--so like
things of long ago that time had mercifully weaned from the stress and
struggle of life.
At the corner of the main street was the house in which he was born. The
business had passed into other hands, but the old name--'Gogarty's
Drapery Stores'--remained. Across the way were the butcher and the
grocer, and a little higher up the inn at which the commercial
travellers lodged. He recalled their numerous leather trunks, and for a
moment stood a child again, seeing them drive away on post-cars. A few
more shops had been added--very few--and then the town dwindled quickly,
slated roofs giving way to thatched cottages, and of the same miserable
kind that was wont to provoke his antipathy when he was a boy.
This sinful dislike of poverty he overcame in early manhood. A high
religious enthusiasm enabled him to overcome it, but his instinctive
dislike of the lowly life--intellectual lowliness as well as
physical--gathered within these cottages, seemed to have returned again.
He asked himself if he were wanting in natural compassion, and if all
that he had of goodness in him were a debt he owed to the Church. It was
in patience rather than in pity maybe that he was lacking; and pursuing
this idea, he recalled the hopes he entertained when he railed off a
strip of ground in front of Bridget Clery's house. But that strip of
garden had inspired no spirit of emulation. Eliza was perhaps more
patient than he, and he began to wonder if she had any definite aim in
view, and if the spectacle of the convent, with its show of nuns walking
under the trees, would eventually awaken some desire of refinement in
the people, if the money their farms now yielded would produce some sort
of improvement in their cottages, the removal of those dreadfully heavy
smells, and a longing for colour that would find expression in the
planting of flowers.
They gave their money willingly enough for the adornment of their
chapel, for stained glass, incense, candles, and for music, and were it
not for the services of the Church he didn't know into what barbarism
the people mightn't have fallen: the tones of the organ sustaining clear
voices of nuns singing a Mass by Mozart must sooner or later inspire
belief in the friendliness of pure air and the beauty of flowers.
Flowers are the only beautiful things within the reach of these poor
people. Roses all may have, and it was pleasant to think that there is
nothing more entirely natural or charming in the life of man than his
love of flowers: it preceded his love of music; no doubt an appreciation
of something better in the way of art than a jig played on the pipes
would follow close on the purification of the home.
Nora Glynn was beautiful, and her personality was winning and charming,
her playing delightful, and her singing might have inspired the people
to cultivate beauty. But she was going to the convent. The convent had
gotten her. It was a pity. Mrs. O'Mara's scandalous stories, insinuating
lies, had angered him till he could bear with her no longer, and he had
put her out the door. He didn't believe that Eliza had ever said she
could give Nora more than she was earning in Garranard. It mattered very
little if she had, for it had so fallen out that she was going to get
her. He begrudged them Nora. But Eliza was going to get her, and he'd
have to make the best terms he could.
But he could not constrain his thoughts to the present moment. They
would go back to the fateful afternoon when he ran across the fields to
ask Nora if what Mrs. O'Mara had said of her were true. If he had only
waited! If she had come to him to confession on Saturday, as he expected
she would! If something had prevented him from preaching on Sunday! A
bad cold might have prevented him from speaking, and she might have gone
away for a while, and, when her baby was born, she might have come back.
It could have been easily arranged. But fate had ordered her life
otherwise, and here he was in the Tinnick Convent, hoping to make her
some poor amends for the wrong he had done her. Would Eliza help
him?--that was the question he asked himself as he crossed the
beeswaxed floor and stood looking at the late afternoon sunlight
glancing through the trees, falling across the green sward.
'How do you do, Oliver?'
His face lighted up, but it changed expression and became gray again. He
had expected to see Eliza, tall and thin, with yellow eyebrows and pale
eyes. Hers was a good, clearly-cut face, like his own, whereas Mary's
was quite different. Yet a family likeness stared through Mary's heavy
white face. Her eyes were smaller than his, and she already began to
raise them and lower them, and to look at him askance, in just the way
he hated. Somehow or other she always contrived to make him feel
uncomfortable, and the present occasion was no exception. She was
already reproving him, hoping he was not disappointed at seeing her, and
he had to explain that he expected to see Eliza, and that was why he
looked surprised. She must not confuse surprise with disappointment. He
was very glad to see her.
'I know I am not as interesting as Eliza,' she began, 'but I thought you
might like to see me, and if I hadn't come at once I shouldn't have had
an opportunity of seeing you alone.'
'She has something to confide,' Father Oliver said to himself, and he
hoped that her confidences might be cut short by the timely arrival of
'Eliza is engaged at present. She told Sister Agatha to tell you that
she would be with you presently. I met Sister Agatha in the passage, and
said I would take the message myself. I suppose I oughtn't to have done
so, but if I hadn't I shouldn't have had an opportunity of speaking with
'Why is that?'
'I don't think she likes me to see you alone.'
'My dear Mary!'
'You don't know, Oliver, what it is to live in a convent, and your own
sister the head of it.'
'I should have thought, Mary, that it was especially pleasant, and that
you were especially fortunate. And as for thinking that Eliza is not
wishing you to see me alone, I am sure--'
'You are sure I'm mistaken.'
'What reason could she have?'
'Eliza doesn't wish the affairs of the convent discussed. You know, I
suppose, that the building of the new wing has put a burden of debt on
'I know that; so why should Eliza--'
'Eliza tries to prevent my seeing any of the visitors. Now, do you think
that quite right and fair towards one's sister?'
Father Oliver tried to prevent himself from smiling, but he sympathized
so entirely with Eliza's efforts to prevent Mary from discussing the
affairs of the convent that he could hardly keep down the smile that
rose to his lips. He could see Eliza's annoyance on coming into the
parlour and finding Mary detailing all the gossip and confiding her own
special woes, for the most part imaginary, to a visitor. Nor would Mary
refrain from touching on the Reverend Mother's shortcomings. He was so
much amused that he might have smiled if it had not suddenly come to his
mind that Mary might leave the convent and insist on living with him;
and a little scared he began to think of what he could say to pacify
her, remembering in the midst of his confusion and embarrassment that
Mary was professed last year, and therefore could not leave the convent;
and this knowledge filled him with such joy that he could not keep back
the words, but must remind his sister that she had had ample opportunity
of considering if she were suited to the religious life.
'You see, Mary, you should have thought of all this before you were
'I shan't take my final vows till next year.'
'But, my dear Mary, once a woman has taken the black veil ... it is the
same thing, you know.'
'Not quite, otherwise there would be no meaning in the delay.'
'You don't mean to say that you're thinking of leaving the convent,
'Not exactly, but it is very hard on me, Oliver. I was thinking of
writing to you, but I hoped that you would come to see us. You have been
a long time now without coming.'
'Eliza loves ruling everybody, and just because I am her sister she is
harder on me than anyone else. Only the other day she was furious with
me because I stopped at confession a few minutes longer than usual. "I
think," she said, "you might spare Father Higgins your silly scruples."
Now, how is one to stop in a convent if one's own sister interferes in
'Well, Mary, what are you thinking of doing?'
'There are some French nuns who have just come over and want to open a
school, and are looking for Irish subjects. I was thinking they'd like
to have me. You see, I wouldn't have to go through the novitiate again,
for they want an experienced person to teach them English and to mind
the school for them. It is really a mistake to be under one's own
At that moment the door opened and Eliza came in, apologizing for having
kept her brother so long waiting.
'You see, my dear Oliver, I've had two mothers here this morning, and
you know what parents are. I suppose Mary has told you about our
difficulties. Now, do you mean to say that you have found a person who
will suit us?... It is really very kind of you.'
'I can't say for certain, Eliza. Of course, it is difficult for me to
know exactly what you want, but, so far as I know, I think the person I
have in my mind will suit you.'
'But has she a diploma from the Academy? We must have a certificate.'
'I think she'll suit you, but we'll talk about her presently. Don't you
think we might go into the garden?'
'Yes, it will be pleasanter in the garden. And you, Mary--you've had
your little chat with Oliver.'
'I was just going, Eliza. If I'd known that Oliver wanted to speak
privately to you, I'd have gone sooner.'
'No, no, I assure you, Mary.'
Mary held out her hand to her brother, saying:
'I suppose I shall not see you again, unless, perhaps, you're stopping
the night with Father Higgins. It would be nice if you could do that.
You could say Mass for us in the morning.'
Father Oliver shook his head.
'I'm afraid I must get back to-night.'
'Well, then, good-bye.' And Mary went out of the room regretfully, like
one who knows that the moment her back is turned all her faults will
become the subject of conversation.
'I hear from Mary that some French nuns are coming over, and want to
open a school. I hope that won't interfere with yours, Eliza; you spent
a great deal of money upon the new wing.'
'It will interfere very much indeed; but I'm trying to get some of the
nuns to come here, and I hope the Bishop will not permit a new
foundation. It's very hard upon us Irish women if we are to be eaten out
of house and home by pious foreigners. I'm in correspondence with the
Bishop about it. As for Mary--'
'You surely don't think she's going to leave?'
'No, I don't suppose she'll leave; it would be easier for me if she did,
but it would give rise to any amount of talk. And where would she go if
she did leave, unless she lived with you?'
'My house is too small; besides, she didn't speak of leaving, only that
she hadn't yet taken her final vows. I explained that no one will
distinguish between the black veil and final vows. Am I not right?'
'I think those vows will take a great weight off your mind, Oliver. I
wish I could say as much for myself.'
The Reverend Mother opened a glass door, and brother and sister stood
for some time admiring the flower vases that lined the terrace.
'I can't get her to water the geraniums.'
'If you'll tell me where I can get a can--'
'You'll excuse me, Reverend Mother.'
It was the Sister in charge of the laundry, and, seeing her crippled
arm, Father Oliver remembered that her dress had become entangled in the
machinery. He didn't know, however, that the fault lay with Mary, who
was told off to watch the machinery and to stop it instantly in case of
'She can't keep her attention fixed on anything, not even on her
prayers, and what she calls piety I should call idleness. It's terrible
to have to do with stupid women, and the convent is so full of them that
I often wonder what is the good of having a convent at all.'
'But, Eliza, you don't regret--'
'No, of course I don't regret. I should do just the same again. But
don't let us waste our time talking about vocations. I hear enough of
that here. I want you to tell me about the music-mistress; that's what
And when Father Oliver had told her the whole story and showed her
Father O'Grady's letter, she said:
'You know I always thought you were a little hard on Miss Glynn. Father
O'Grady's letter convinces me that you were.'
'My dear Eliza, I don't want advice; I've suffered enough.'
'Oliver dear, forgive me.' And the nun put out her hand to detain him.
'Well, don't say again, Eliza, that you always thought. It's irritating,
and it does no good.'
'Her story is known, but she could live in the convent; that would
shelter her from any sort of criticism. I don't see why she shouldn't
take the habit of one of the postulants, but--'
The priest waited for his sister to speak, and after waiting a little
while he asked her what she was going to say.
'I was going to ask you,' said the nun, waking from her reverie, 'if you
have written to Miss Glynn.'
'Yes, I wrote to her.'
'And she's willing to come back?'
'I haven't spoken to her about that. It didn't occur to me until
afterwards, but I can write at once if you consent.'
'I may be wrong, Oliver, but I don't think she'll care to leave London
and come back here, where she is known.'
'But, Eliza, a girl likes to live in her own country. Mind you, I am
responsible. I drove her out of her country among strangers. She's
living among Protestants.'
'I don't think that will trouble her very much.'
'I don't know why you say that, Eliza. Do you think that a woman cannot
repent? that because she happens to have sinned once--'
'No; I suppose there are repentant sinners, but I think we most often go
on as we begin. Now, you see, Father O'Grady says that she's getting on
very well in London, and we like to live among those who appreciate us.'
'Well, Eliza, of course, if you start with the theory that no one can
'I didn't say that, Oliver. But she wouldn't tell you who the man was.
She seems a person of character--I mean, she doesn't seem to be lacking
in strength of character.'
'She's certainly a most excellent musician. You'll find no one like her,
and you may be able to get her very cheap. And if your school doesn't
A shade passed across the Reverend Mother's face.
'There's no doubt that the new wing has cost us a great deal of money.'
'Then there are the French nuns--'
'My dear Oliver, if you wish me to engage Miss Glynn as music-mistress
I'll do so. There's no use speaking to me about the French nuns. I'll
engage her because you ask me, but I cannot pay her as much as those who
have diplomas. How much do you think she'd come for?'
'I don't know what she's earning in London, but I suppose you can pay
her an average wage. You could pay her according to results.'
'What you say is quite true, Oliver.' The priest and the nun continued
their walk up and down in front of the unfinished building. 'But you
don't know, Oliver, if she's willing to leave London. You'll have to
write and find out.'
'Very well, Eliza, I'll write. You'll be able to offer her as much as
she was earning in my parish as schoolmistress. That's fifty pounds a
'It's more than we can afford, Oliver, but if you wish it.'
'I do wish it, Eliza. Thank you. You've taken a great weight off my
They passed into the house, and, stopping in front of the writing-table,
the nun looked to see if there were paper and envelopes in the blotter.
'You'll find everything you want, even sealing-wax,' she said. 'Now I'll
_From Father Oliver Gogarty to Miss Nora Glynn._
'_June 4, 19--_.
'DEAR MISS GLYNN,
'I take it for granted that you received the letter I sent you two days
ago, telling you how much I appreciated your kindness in asking Father
O'Grady to write to tell me that you were quite safe and getting on
well. Since writing that letter I feel more keenly than ever that I owe
you reparation, for it was through an error of judgment on my part that
you are now an exile from your own country. Everyone is agreed that I
have committed an error of judgment. My sister, the Mother Superior of
this convent from where I am writing, is of that opinion. The moment I
mentioned your name she began, "I always thought that--" and I begged of
her to spare me advice on the subject, saying that it was not for advice
that I came to her, but to ask her to help me to make atonement, which
she could do by engaging you to teach music in her convent. You see, I
had heard that my sister was in a difficulty. The new wing is nearly
completed, and she could get the best families in Ireland to send their
daughters to be educated in her convent if she could provide sufficient
musical instruction. I thought you might like to live in your own
country, now that your thoughts have again turned towards God, and I can
imagine the unpleasantness it must be to a Catholic to live in a
Protestant country. I told my sister this, and she answered that if you
wish to come over here, and if Father O'Grady advises it, she will take
you as music-mistress. You will live in the convent. You can enter it,
if you wish, as a postulant, or if you should remain an extern teacher
the salary they will give you will be fifty pounds a year. I know you
can make more than that in London, but you can live more cheaply here,
and you will be among friends.
'I shall be glad to hear from you on this subject.
'Very sincerely yours,
'OLIVER GOGARTY, P.P.'
When he looked up, the darkness under the trees surprised him, and the
geraniums so faintly red on the terrace, and his sister passing up and
down like a phantom.
He heard her beads drop, and out of a loose sleeve a slim hand took the
letter. There was not enough light in the room to read by, and she
remained outside, leaning against the glass door.
'You haven't written exactly the letter I should have written, but,
then, we're quite different. I should have written a cold and more
business-like letter.' His face changed expression, and she added: 'I'm
sorry if I'm unsympathetic, Oliver.'
The touch of her hand and the look in her eyes surprised him, for Eliza
was not demonstrative, and he wondered what had called forth this sudden
betrayal of feeling. He expected her to ask him not to send the letter,
but instead of doing so she said:
'If the letter were written otherwise it wouldn't be like yourself,
Oliver. Send it, and if she leaves London and comes back here, I will
think better of her. It will be proof that she has repented. I see
you'll not have an easy mind until you make atonement. You exaggerate, I
think; but everyone for himself in a matter like this.'
'Thank you, Eliza. You always understand.'
'Not always. I failed to understand when you wanted to set up a
hermitage on Castle Island.'
'Yes, you did; you have better sense than I. Yet I feel we are more
alike than the others. You have counted for a great deal in my life,
Eliza. Do you remember saying that you intended to be Reverend Mother?
And now you are Reverend Mother.'
'I don't think I said "I intended." But I felt that if I became a nun,
one day or another I should be Reverend Mother; one knows most often
than not what is going to happen--one's own fate, I mean.'
'I wonder if Mary knows?'
'If she does, I wish she'd tell us.'
'We'll have time to walk round the garden once more. You have no idea
what a pleasure it is for me to see you--to talk with you like this.'
And, talking of Mary, they walked slowly, forgetful of everything but
A bell rang.
'I must be going; it will be late before I get home.'
'Which way are you going? Round by Kilronan or across the Bridge of
'I came by Kilronan. I think I'll take the other way. There will be a
Brother and sister entered the convent.
'You'll enjoy the drive?'
'Yes.' And he fell to thinking of the drive home by the southern road,
the mountains unfolding their many aspects in the gray moonlight, and
melting away in misty perspectives.
_From Miss Nora Glynn to Father Oliver Gogarty._
'4, WILSON STREET, LONDON,
'_June_ 8, 19--,
'I did not answer your first letter because the letters that came into
my mind to write, however they might begin, soon turned to bitterness,
and I felt that writing bitter letters would not help me to forget the
past. But your second letter with its proposal that I should return to
Ireland to teach music in a convent school forces me to break silence,
and it makes me regret that I gave Father O'Grady permission to write to
you; he asked me so often, and his kindness is so winning, that I could
not refuse him anything. He said you would certainly have begun to see
that you had done me a wrong, and I often answered that I saw no reason
why I should trouble to soothe your conscience. I do not wish to return
to Ireland; I am, as Father O'Grady told you, earning my own living, my
work interests me, and very soon I shall have forgotten Ireland. That is
the best thing that can happen, that I should forget Ireland, and that
you should forget the wrong you did me. Put the whole thing, and me,
out of your mind; and now, good-bye, Father Gogarty.
'Good heavens! how she hates me, and she'll hate me till her dying day.
She'll never forget. And this is the end of it, a bitter, unforgiving
letter.' He sat down to think, and it seemed to him that she wouldn't
have written this letter if she had known the agony of mind he had been
through. But of this he wasn't sure. No, no; he could not believe her
spiteful. And he walked up and down the room, trying to quell the
bitterness rising up within him. No other priest would have taken the
trouble; they would have just forgotten all about it, and gone about
congratulating themselves on their wise administration. But he had acted
rightly, Father O'Grady had approved of what he had done; and this was
his reward. She'll never come back, and will never forgive him; and ever
since writing to her he had indulged in dreams of her return to Ireland,
thinking how pleasant it would be to go down to the lake in the
mornings, and stand at the end of the sandy spit looking across the lake
towards Tinnick, full of the thought that she was there with his sisters
earning her living. She wouldn't be in his parish, but they'd have been
friends, neighbours, and he'd have accepted the loss of his organist as
his punishment. Eva Maguire was no good; there would never be any music
worth listening to in his parish again. Such sternness as her letter
betrayed was not characteristic of her; she didn't understand, and
never would. Catherine's step awoke him; the awaking was painful, and he
couldn't collect his thoughts enough to answer Catherine; and feeling
that he must appear to her daft, he tried to speak, but his speech was
'You haven't read your other letter, your reverence.'
He recognized the handwriting; it was from Father O'Grady.
_From Father O'Grady to Father Oliver Gogarty._
'_June_ 8, 19--.
'MY DEAR FATHER GOGARTY,
'I was very glad to hear that Miss Glynn told her story truthfully; for
if she exaggerated or indulged in equivocation, it would be a great
disappointment to me and to her friends, and would put me in a very
difficult position, for I should have to tell certain friends of mine,
to whom I recommended her, that she was not all that we imagined her to
be. But all's well that ends well; and you will be glad to hear that I
have appointed her organist in my church. It remains, therefore, only
for me to thank you for your manly letter, acknowledging the mistake you
'I can imagine the anxiety it must have caused you, and the great relief
it must have been to you to get my letter. Although Miss Glynn spoke
with bitterness, she did not try to persuade me that you were naturally
hard-hearted or cruel. The impression that her story left on my mind was
that your allusions to her in your sermon were unpremeditated. Your
letter is proof that I was not mistaken, and I am sure the lesson you
have received will bear fruit. I trust that you will use your influence
to restrain other priests from similar violence. It is only by
gentleness and kindness that we can do good. I shall be glad to see you
if you ever come to London.
'I am, sir, 'Very sincerely yours, 'MICHAEL O'GRADY.'
'All's well that ends well. So that's how he views it! A different point
of view.' And feeling that he was betraying himself to Catherine, he put
both letters into his pocket and went out of the house. But he had not
gone many yards when he met a parishioner with a long story to tell,
happily not a sick call, only a dispute about land. So he invented an
excuse postponing his intervention until the morrow, and when he
returned home tired with roaming, he stopped on his door-step. 'The
matter is over now, her letter is final,' he said. But he awoke in a
different mood next morning; everything appeared to him in a different
light, and he wondered, surprised to find that he could forget so
easily; and taking her letter out of his pocket, he read it again. 'It's
a hard letter, but she's a wise woman. Much better for us both to forget
each other. "Good-bye, Father Gogarty," she said; "Good-bye, Nora
Glynn," say I.' And he walked about his garden tending his flowers,
wondering at his light-heartedness.
She thought of her own interests, and would get on very well in London,
and Father O'Grady had been lucky too. Nora was an excellent organist.
But if he went to London he would meet her. A meeting could hardly be
avoided--and after that letter! Perhaps it would be wiser if he didn't
go to London. What excuse? O'Grady would write again. He had been so
kind. In any case he must answer his letter, and that was vexatious. But
was he obliged to answer it? O'Grady wouldn't misunderstand his silence.
But there had been misunderstandings enough; and before he had walked
the garden's length half a dozen conclusive reasons for writing occurred
to him. First of all Father O'Grady's kindness in writing to ask him to
stay with him, added to which the fact that Nora would, of course, tell
Father O'Grady she had been invited to teach in the convent; her vanity
would certainly urge her to do this, and Heaven only knows what account
she would give of his proposal. There would be his letter, but she
mightn't show it. So perhaps on the whole it would be better that he
should write telling O'Grady what had happened. And after his dinner as
he sat thinking, a letter came into his mind; the first sentences
formulated themselves so suddenly that he was compelled to go to his
_From Father Oliver Gogarty to Father O'Grady._
'_June_ 12, 19--.
'DEAR FATHER O'GRADY,
'I enclose a letter which I received three days ago from Miss Nora
Glynn, and I think you will agree with me that the letter is a harsh
one, and that, all things considered, it would have been better if she
had stinted herself to saying that I had committed an error of judgment
which she forgave. She did not, however, choose to do this. As regards
my sister's invitation to her to come over here to teach, she was, of
course, quite right to consider her own interests. She can make more
money in London than she could in Ireland. I forgot that she couldn't
bring her baby with her, remembering only that my eldest sister is
Mother Abbess in the Tinnick Convent--a very superior woman, if I may
venture to praise my own sister. The convent was very poor at one time,
but she has made the school a success, and, hearing that she wanted
someone who would teach music and singing, I proposed to her that she
should engage Miss Glynn, with whose story she was already acquainted.
She did not think that Miss Glynn would return to Ireland; and in this
opinion she showed her good judgment. She was always a wonderful judge
of character. But she could see that I was anxious to atone for any
wrong that I might have done Miss Glynn, and after some hesitation she
consented, saying: "Well, Oliver, if you wish it."
'Miss Glynn did not accept the proposal, and I suppose that the episode
now ends so far as I am concerned. She has fallen into good hands; she
is making her living, thanks to your kindness. But I dare not think what
might not have happened if she had not met you. Perhaps when you have
time you will write again; I shall be glad to hear if she succeeds in
improving your choir. My conscience is now at rest; there is a term,
though it may not be at the parish boundary, when our responsibility
'Thanking you again, and hoping one of these days to have the pleasure
of making your acquaintance,
'I am very truly yours,
_From Father O'Grady to Father Oliver Gogarty._
'_June_ 18, 19--.
'DEAR FATHER GOGARTY,
'Thank you for sending me Miss Glynn's letter, and I agree with you when
you describe it as harsh; but I understand it in a way. Miss Glynn came
over to London almost penniless, and expecting the birth of her
illegitimate child. She suffered all that a woman suffers in such
circumstances. I do not want to harass you unnecessarily by going over
it all again, but I do wish you to forgive her somewhat intemperate
letter. I'll speak to her about it, and I am sure she will write to you
in a more kindly spirit later on; meanwhile, rest assured that she is
doing well, and not forgetful of the past. I shall try to keep a
watchful eye over her, seeing that she attends to her duties every
month; there is no better safeguard. But in truth I have no fear for
her, and am unable to understand how she could have been guilty of so
grave a sin, especially in Ireland. She seems here most circumspect,
even strict, in her manner. She is an excellent musician, and has
improved my choir. I have been tempted to comply with her request and
spend some more money upon the singing....
'While writing these lines I was interrupted. My servant brought me a
letter from Miss Glynn, telling me that a great chance had come her way.
It appears that Mr. Walter Poole, the father of one of her pupils, has
offered her the post of secretaryship, and she would like to put into
practice the shorthand and typewriting that she has been learning for
the last six months. Her duties, she says, will be of a twofold nature:
she will help Mr. Poole with his literary work and she will also give
music lessons to his daughter Edith. Mr. Poole lives in Berkshire, and
wants her to come down at once, which means she will have to leave me in
the lurch. "You will be without an organist," she writes, "and will have
to put up with Miss Ellen McGowan until you can get a better. She may
improve--I hope and think she will; and I'm sorry to give trouble to one
who has been so kind to me, but, you see, I have a child to look after,
and it is difficult to make both ends meet on less than three pounds a
week. More money I cannot hope to earn in my present circumstances; I am
therefore going down to Berkshire to-morrow, so I shall not see you
again for some time. Write and tell me you are not angry with me."
'On receiving this letter, I went round to Miss Glynn's lodgings, and
found her in the midst of her packing. We talked a long while, and very
often it seemed to me that I was going to persuade her, but when it came
to the point she shook her head. Offer her more money I could not, but I
promised to raise her wages to two pounds a week next year if it were
possible to do so. I don't think it is the money; I think it is change
that tempts her. Well, it tempts us all, and though I am much
disappointed at losing her, I cannot be angry with her, for I cannot
forget that I often want change myself, and the longing to get out of
London is sometimes almost irresistible. I do not know your part of the
country, but I do know what an Irish lake is like, and I often long to
see one again. And very often, I suppose, you would wish to exchange the
romantic solitude of your parish for the hurly-burly of a town, and for
its thick, impure air you would be willing--for a time only, of
course--to change the breezes of your mountain-tops.
'Very truly yours,
_From Father Oliver Gogarty to Father O'Grady._
'_June_ 22, 19--.
'DEAR FATHER O'GRADY,
'No sooner had I begun to feel easier in my conscience and to dream that
my responsibilities were at an end than your letter comes, and I am
thrown back into all my late anxieties regarding Nora Glynn's future,
for which I am and shall always be responsible.
'It was my words that drove her out of Ireland into a great English city
in which some dreadful fate of misery and death might have befallen her
if you had not met her. But God is good, and he sent you to her, and
everything seems to have happened for the best. She was in your hands,
and I felt safe. But now she has taken her life into her own hands
again, thinking she can manage it without anybody's help!
'The story you tell seems simple enough, but it doesn't sound all right.
Why should she go away to Berkshire to help Mr. Walter Poole with his
literature without giving you longer notice? It seems strange to write
to one who has taken all the trouble you have to find her work--"I have
discovered a post that suits me better and am going away to-morrow." Of
course she has her child to think of. But have you made inquiries? I
suppose you must have done. You would not let her go away to a man of
whom you know nothing. She says that he is the father of one of her
pupils. But she doesn't know him, yet she is going to live in his house
to help him with his literature. Have you inquired, dear Father O'Grady,
what this man's writings are, if he is a Catholic or a Protestant? I
should not like Miss Nora Glynn to go into a Protestant household, where
she would hear words of disrespect for the religion she has been brought
'As I write I ask myself if there is a Catholic chapel within walking
distance; and if there isn't, will he undertake to send her to Mass
every Sunday? I hope you have made all these inquiries, and if you have
not made them, will you make them at once and write to me and relieve my
anxiety? You are aware of the responsibilities I have incurred and will
appreciate the anxiety that I feel.
'Yours very sincerely,
It seemed to Father Oliver so necessary that Father O'Grady should get
his letter as soon as possible that he walked to Bohola; but soon after
dropping the letter in the box he began to think that he might have
written more judiciously, and on his way home he remembered that he had
told Father O'Grady, and very explicitly, that he should have made
inquiries regarding Mr. Walter Poole's literature before he allowed Nora
Glynn to go down to Berkshire to help him with his literary work. Of
course he hoped, and it was only natural that he should hope, that
Father O'Grady had made all reasonable inquiries; but it seemed to him
now that he had expressed himself somewhat peremptorily. Father O'Grady
was an old man--how old he did not know--but himself was a young man,
and he did not know in what humour Father O'Grady might read his letter.
If the humour wasn't propitious he might understand it as an
impertinence. It vexed him that he had shown so much agitation, and he
stopped to think. But it was so natural that he should be concerned
about Nora Glynn. All the same, his anxiety might strike Father O'Grady
as exaggerated. A temperate letter, he reflected, is always better; and
the evening was spent in writing another letter to Father O'Grady, a
much longer one, in which he thanked Father O'Grady for asking him to
come to see him if he should ever find himself in London. 'Of course,'
he wrote, 'I shall be only too pleased to call on you, and no doubt we
shall have a great deal to talk about--two Irishmen always have; and
when I feel the need of change imminent, I will try to go to London,
and do you, Father O'Grady, when you need a change, come to Ireland. You
write: "I do not know your part of the country, but I know what an Irish
lake is like, and I often long to see one again." Well, come and see my
lake; it's very beautiful. Woods extend down to the very shores with
mountain peaks uplifting behind the woods, and on many islands there are
ruins of the castles of old time. Not far from my house it narrows into
a strait, and after passing this strait it widens out into what might
almost be called another lake. We are trying to persuade the Government
to build a bridge, but it is difficult to get anything done. My
predecessor and myself have been in correspondence on this subject with
the Board of Works; it often seems as if success were about to come, but
it slips away, and everything has to be begun again. I should like to
show you Kilronan Abbey, an old abbey unroofed by Cromwell. The people
have gone there for centuries, kneeling in the snow and rain. We are
sadly in need of subscription. Perhaps one of these days you will be
able to help us; but I shall write again on this subject, and as soon as
I can get a photograph of the abbey I will send it.
'Yours very sincerely,
'Now, what will Father O'Grady answer to all this?' he said under his
breath as he folded up his letter. 'A worthy soul, an excellent soul,
there's no doubt about that.' And he began to feel sorry for Father
O'Grady. But his sorrow was suddenly suspended. If he went to London he
wouldn't be likely to see her. 'Another change,' he said; 'things are
never the same for long. A week ago I knew where she was; I could see
her in her surroundings. Berkshire is not very far from London. But who
is Mr. Poole?' And he sat thinking.
A few days after he picked up a letter from his table from Father
O'Grady, a long garrulous letter, four pages about Kilronan Abbey, Irish
London, convent schools--topics interesting enough in themselves, but
lacking in immediate interest. The letter contained only three lines
about her. That Mr. Poole explained everything to her, and that she
liked her work. The letter dropped from his hand; the hand that had held
the letter fell upon his knee, and Father Oliver sat looking through the
room. Awaking suddenly, he tried to remember what he had been thinking
about, for he had been thinking a long while; but he could not recall
his thoughts, and went to his writing-table and began a long letter
telling Father O'Grady about Kilronan Abbey and enclosing photographs.
And then, feeling compelled to bring himself into as complete union as
possible with his correspondent, he sat, pen in hand, uncertain if he
should speak of Nora at all. The temptation was by him, and he found
excuse in the thought that after all she was the link; without her he
would not have known Father O'Grady. And so convinced was he of this
that when he mentioned her he did so on account of a supposed obligation
to sympathize once again with Father O'Grady's loss of his organist.
His letter rambled on about the Masses Nora used to play best and the
pieces she used to sing.
A few days after he caught sight of her handwriting on his
breakfast-table, and he sat reading the letter, to Catherine's
annoyance, who said the rashers were getting cold.
_From Miss Nora Glynn to Father Oliver Gogarty._
'BEECHWOOD HALL, BERKSHIRE,
'_July_ 20, 19--.
'DEAR FATHER GOGARTY,
'One is not always in a mood to give credit to others for good
intentions, especially when one returns home at the close of day
disappointed, and I wrote a hard, perhaps a cruel, letter; but I'm
feeling differently now. The truth is that your letter arrived at an
unfortunate moment when things were going badly with me.'
'I'm forgiven,' Father Oliver cried--'I'm forgiven;' and his joy was so
great that the rest of the letter seemed unnecessary, but he continued
'Father O'Grady has no doubt told you that I have given up my post of
organist in his church, Mr. Poole having engaged me to teach his
daughter music and to act as his secretary. In a little letter which I
received about a fortnight ago from him he told me he had written to
you, and it appears that you have recovered from your scruples of
conscience, and have forgotten the wrong you did me; but if I know you
at all, you are deceiving yourself. You will never forget the wrong you
did me. But I shall forget. I am not sure that it has not already passed
out of my mind. This will seem contradictory, for didn't I say that I
couldn't forget your cruelty in my first letter? I wonder if I meant it
when I wrote, "Put the whole thing and me out of your mind...." I
suppose I did at the time, and yet I doubt it. Does anyone want to be
'I should have written to you before, but we have been busy. Mr. Poole's
book has been promised by the end of the year. It's all in type, but he
is never satisfied. To-day he has gone to London to seek information
about the altars of the early Israelites. It's a wonderful book, but I
cannot write about it to-day; the sun is shining, the country is looking
lovely, and my pupil is begging me to finish my letter and go out with
'Very sincerely yours,
'So forgiveness has come at last,' he said; and as he walked along the
shore he fell to thinking that very soon all her life in Garranard would
be forgotten. 'She seems interested in her work,' he muttered; and his
mind wandered over the past, trying to arrive at a conclusion, if there
was or was not a fundamental seriousness in her character, inclining on
the whole to think there was, for if she was not serious fundamentally,
she would not have been chosen by Mr. Poole for his secretary. 'My
little schoolmistress, the secretary of a great scholar! How very
extraordinary! But why is it extraordinary? When will she write again?'
And every night he wished for the dawn, and every morning he asked if
there were any letters for him. 'No, your reverence, no letters this
morning;' and when Catherine handed him some envelopes they only
contained bills or uninteresting letters from the parishioners or
letters from the Board of Works about the bridge in which he could no
longer feel any interest whatever.
At last he began to think he had said something to offend her, and to
find out if this were so he would have to write to Father O'Grady
telling him that Miss Glynn had written saying she had forgiven him. Her
forgiveness had brought great relief; but Miss Glynn said in her letter
that she was alone in Berkshire, Mr. Poole having gone to London to seek
information regarding the altars of the early Israelites.
_From Father O'Grady to Father Oliver Gogarty._
'_August_ 1, 19--.
'DEAR FATHER GOGARTY,
'I am sorry I cannot give you the information you require regarding the
nature of Mr. Poole's writings, and if I may venture to advise you, I
will say that I do not think any good will come to her by your inquiry
into the matter. She is one of those women who resent all control; and,
if I may judge from a letter she wrote to me the other day, she is bent
now on educating herself regardless of the conclusions to which her
studies may lead her. I shall pray for her, and that God may watch over
and guide her is my hope. I am sure it is yours too. She is in God's
hands, and we can do nothing to help her. I am convinced of that, and it
would be well for you to put her utterly out of your mind.
'I am, very truly yours,
'Put her utterly out of my mind,' Father Oliver cried aloud; 'now what
does he mean by that?' And he asked himself if this piece of advice was
Father O'Grady's attempt to get even with him for having told him that
he should have informed himself regarding Mr. Poole's theological
opinions before permitting her to go down to Berkshire.
It did not seem to him that Father O'Grady would stoop to such meanness,
but there seemed to be no other explanation, and he fell to thinking of
what manner of man was Father O'Grady--an old man he knew him to be, and
from the tone of his letters he had judged him a clever man, experienced
in the human weakness and conscience. But this last letter! In what
light was he to read it? Did O'Grady fail to understand that there is no
more intimate association than that of an author and his secretary. If
we are to believe at all in spiritual influences--and who denies
them?--can we minimize these? On his way to the writing-table he
stopped. Mr. Poole's age--what was it? He imagined him about sixty. 'It
is at that age,' he said, 'that men begin to think about the altars of
the early Israelites,' and praying at intervals that he might be
seventy, he wrote a short note thanking Father O'Grady for his advice
and promising to bear it in mind. He did not expect to get an answer,
nor did he wish for an answer; for he had begun to feel that he and
Father O'Grady had drifted apart, and had no further need one for the
'Are there no letters this morning?' he asked Catherine.
'None, sir. You haven't had one from London for a long time.'
He turned away. 'An intolerable woman--intolerable! I shall be obliged
to make a change soon,' he said, turning away so that Catherine should
not see the annoyance that he felt on his face.
_From Father Oliver Gogarty to Miss Nora Glynn._
'_August_ 6, 19--.
'DEAR MISS GLYNN,
'You said in your very kind letter, which I received a fortnight ago,
and which I answered hastily, that on some future occasion you would
perhaps tell me about the book Mr. Poole is writing. I wonder if this
occasion will ever arise, and, if so, if it be near or far--near, I
hope, for interested as I naturally am in your welfare, I have begun to
feel some anxiety regarding this book. On the day that--'
'Father O'Grady, your reverence.' Father Oliver laid his letter aside,
and then hid it in the blotter, regretting his haste and his fumbling
hands, which perhaps had put the thought into O'Grady's mind that the
letter was to Nora. And so he came forward faintly embarrassed to meet a
small pale man, whom he judged to be seventy or thereabouts, coming
forward nimbly, bent a little, with a long, thin arm and bony hand
extended in a formal languor of welcome. A little disappointing was the
first moment, but it passed away quickly, and when his visitor was
seated Father Oliver noticed a large nose rising out of the pallor and
on either side of it dim blue eyes and some long white locks.
'You're surprised to see me,' Father O'Grady said in a low, winning
voice. 'Of course you're surprised--how could it be otherwise? but I
hope you're glad.'
'Very glad,' Father Oliver answered. 'Glad, very glad,' he repeated; and
begged his visitor to allow him to help him off with his overcoat.
'How pleasant,' Father O'Grady said, as soon as he was back in the
armchair, as if he felt that the duty fell upon him to find a
conversation that would help them across the first five minutes--'how
pleasant it is to see a turf fire again! The turf burns gently, mildly,
a much pleasanter fire than coal; the two races express themselves in
'Oh, we're fiery enough over here,' Father Oliver returned; and the
'I did not feel that I was really in Ireland,' Father O'Grady continued,
'till I saw the turf blazing and falling into white ash. You see I
haven't been in Ireland for many years.'
Father Oliver threw some more sods of turf into the grate, saying: 'I'm
glad, Father O'Grady, that you enjoy the fire, and I'm indeed glad to
see you. I was just thinking--'
'Of me?' Father O'Grady asked, raising his Catholic eyes.
The interruption was a happy one, for Father Oliver would have found
himself embarrassed to finish the sentence he had begun. For he would
not have liked to have admitted that he had just begun a letter to Nora
Glynn, to say, 'There it is on the table.' Father O'Grady's interruption
gave him time to revise his sentence.
'Yes, I was thinking of you, Father O'Grady. Wondering if I might dare
to write to you again.'
'But why should you be in doubt?' Father O'Grady asked; and then,
remembering a certain asperity in Father Oliver's last letter, he
thought it prudent to change the conversation. 'Well, here I am and
unexpected, but, apparently, welcome.'
'Very welcome,' Father Oliver murmured.
'I'm glad of that,' the old man answered; 'and now to my story.' And he
told how a variety of little incidents had come about, enabling him to
spend his vacation in Ireland. 'A holiday is necessary for every man.
And, after all, it is as easy to go from London to Ireland as it is to
go to Margate, and much more agreeable. But I believe you are
unacquainted with London, and Margate is doubtless unknown to you. Well,
I don't know that you've missed much;' and he began to tell of the month
he had spent wandering in the old country, and how full of memories he
had found it--all sorts of ideas and associations new and old. 'Maybe it
was you that beguiled me to Ireland; if so, I ought to thank you for a
very pleasant month's holiday. Now I'm on my way home, and finding that
I could fit in the railway journey I went to Tinnick, and I couldn't go
to Tinnick without driving over to Garranard.'
'I should think not, indeed,' Father Oliver answered quickly. 'It was
very good of you to think of me, to undertake the journey to Tinnick and
the long drive from Tinnick over here.'
'One should never be praised for doing what is agreeable to one to do. I
liked you from your letters; you're like your letters, Father Oliver--at
least I think you are.'
'I'm certain you're like yours,' Father Oliver returned, 'only I
imagined you to speak slower.'
'A mumbling old man,' Father O'Grady interjected.
'You know I don't mean that,' Father Oliver replied, and there was a
trace of emotion in his voice.
'It was really very good of you to drive over from Tinnick. You say that
you only undertook the journey because it pleased you to do so. If that
philosophy were accepted, there would be no difference between a good
and an evil action; all would be attributed to selfishness.' He was
about to add: 'This visit is a kindness that I did not expect, and one
which I certainly did not deserve;' but to speak these words would
necessitate an apology for the rudeness he felt he was guilty of in his
last letter, and the fact that he knew that Father O'Grady had come to
talk to him about Nora increased his nervousness. But their talk
continued in commonplace and it seemed impossible to lift it out of the
rut. Father O'Grady complimented Father Oliver on his house and Oliver
answered that it was Peter Conway that built it, and while praising its
comfort, he enlarged on the improvements that had been made in the
houses occupied by priests.
'Yes, indeed,' Father O'Grady answered, 'the average Irish priest lived
in my time in a cottage not far removed from those the peasants lived
in. All the same, there was many a fine scholar among them. Virgil,
Horace, Ovid, Catullus, Cicero in the bookcases. Do you ever turn to
these books? Do you like reading Latin?'
And Father Oliver replied that sometimes he took down his Virgil. 'I
look into them all sometimes,' he added.
'And you still read Latin, classical Latin, easily?' Father O'Grady
'Fairly,' Father Oliver replied; 'I read without turning to the
dictionary, though I often come to words I have never seen or have
forgotten the meaning of. I read on. The Latin poets are more useful
than the English to me.'
'More useful?' Father O'Grady repeated.
'More useful,' Father Oliver rejoined, 'if your object is a new point of
view, and one wants that sometimes, living alone in the silent country.
One sometimes feels frightened sitting by the fire all alone listening
to the wind. I said just now that I was thinking of you. I often think
of you, Father O'Grady, and envy you your busy parish. If I ever find
myself in London I shall go for long tram drives, and however sordid the
district I shall view the dim congregation of houses with pleasure and
rejoice in the hub of the streets.'
'You would soon weary of London, I promise you that, Father Oliver.'
'A promise for which it would be an affectation to thank you,' Father
Oliver answered. And Father O'Grady spoke of the miles and miles of
'The great murky Thames,' he said, 'wearies, but it is very wonderful.
Ah, Landor's "Hellenics" in the original Latin: how did that book come
'A question I've often asked myself,' Father Oliver returned. 'A most
intellectual volume it is to find in the house of an Irish priest. Books
travel, and my predecessor, Father Peter, is the last man in the world
who would have cared to spend an hour on anything so literary as Landor.
He used to read the newspaper--all the newspapers he could get hold of.'
Father Peter's personality did not detain them long, and feeling
somewhat ashamed of their inability to talk naturally, without thinking
of what they were to say next, Father O'Grady ventured to doubt if
Horace would approve of Landor's Latin and of the works written in
comparatively modern times. Buchanan, for instance. At last the
conversation became so trite and wearisome that Father O'Grady began to
feel unable to continue it any longer.
'You've a nice garden, Father Oliver.'
'You'd like to see my garden?' Father Oliver asked, very much relieved
at having escaped from Buchanan so easily. And the two priests went out,
each hoping that the other would break the ice; and to encourage Father
Oliver to break it, Father O'Grady mentioned that he was going back that
evening to Tinnick--a remark that was intended to remind Father Oliver
that the time was passing by. Father Oliver knew that the time for
speaking of her was passing by, but he could not bring himself to speak,
and instead he tried to persuade Father O'Grady to stay to dinner, but
he could not be persuaded; and they walked to and fro, talking about
their different parishes, Father O'Grady asking Father Oliver questions
about his school and his church. And when Father O'Grady had contributed
a great deal of unnecessary information, he questioned Father O'Grady
about his parish, and gained much information regarding the difficulties
that a Catholic priest met with in London, till religion became as
wearisome as the Latin language. At last it suddenly struck Father
Oliver that if he allowed the talk to continue regarding the
difficulties of the Catholic priest in London, Father O'Grady might
speak of girls that had been driven out of Ireland by the priests, to
become prostitutes in London. A talk on this subject would be too
painful, and to escape from it he spoke of the beauty of the trees about
the garden and the flowers in the garden, calling Father O'Grady's
attention to the chrysanthemums, and, not willing to be outdone in
horticulture, the London priest began to talk about the Japanese mallow
in his garden, Father Oliver listening indifferently, saying, when it
came to him to make a remark, that the time had come to put in the
'Miss Glynn was very fond of flowers,' he said Suddenly, 'and she
helped me with my garden; it was she who told me to plant roses in that
corner, and to cover the wall with rambling robin. Was it not a very
pretty idea to cover that end of the garden with rambling roses?'
'It was indeed. She is a woman of great taste in music and in many other
things. She must have regretted your garden.'
'Why do you think she regretted my garden?' Father Oliver asked.
'Because she always regretted that mine wasn't larger. She helped me
with my garden;' and feeling that they had at last got into a
conversation that was full of interest for them both, Father Oliver
'Shall we go into the house? We shall be able to talk more agreeably by
'I should like to get back to that turf fire; for it is the last that I
shall probably see. Let us get back to it.'
'I'm quite agreeable to return to the fire. Catherine will bring in the
And as soon as they were back in the parlour, Father Oliver said:
'Father O'Grady, that is your chair. It was very good of you to take the
trouble to drive over.'
'I wished to make my correspondent's acquaintance,' Father O'Grady
murmured; 'and there is much that it is difficult to put down on paper
without creating a wrong impression, whereas in talk one is present to
rectify any mistakes one may drop into. I am thinking now of the last
subject dealt with in our correspondence, that I should have informed
myself regarding Mr. Poole's writing before I consented to allow Nora
Glynn to accept the post of secretary.'
'You must forgive me, Father O'Grady,' Father Oliver cried.
'There is nothing to forgive, Father Oliver; but this criticism
surprised me, for you have known Miss Nora Glynn longer than I have, and
it seems strange that you should have forgotten already her
steadfastness. Nothing that I could have said would have availed, and it
seems to me that you were mistaken in asking me to urge Miss Glynn to
decline the chance of improving her circumstances. I could not compel
Miss Glynn even if I had wished to compel her. But we have discussed
that question; let it pass.'
'All the same,' Father Oliver interjected, 'if one sees a woman going
into danger, surely one may warn her. A word of warning dropped casually
is sometimes effective.'
'But it is fatal to insist,' Father O'Grady remarked; 'and one should
not try to bar the way--that is my experience at least.'
'Well, your experiences are longer than mine, Father O'Grady, I submit.
The mistake I made will certainly not be repeated. But since hearing
from you I've heard from Miss Glynn, and the remarks she makes in her
letters about Mr. Poole's literary work, unless indeed he be a Catholic,
'Biblical criticism is not a Catholic characteristic,' Father O'Grady
answered. 'So Miss Glynn has written to you?'
'Yes, but nothing definite about Mr. Poole's work--nothing definite. Do
you know anything, Father O'Grady, about this man's writing? What is his
reputation in the literary world?'
'I've heard a great deal about him,' Father O'Grady answered. 'I've made
inquiries and have read some of Mr. Poole's books, and have seen them
reviewed in the newspapers; I've heard his opinions discussed, and his
opinions are anti-Christian, inasmuch as he denies the divinity of our
'Could anybody be more anti-Christian than that?' Father Oliver asked.
'Yes, very much more,' Father O'Grady replied. 'There have always been
people, and their number is increasing, who say that Christianity is not
only untruthful but, what is worse, a great evil, having set men one
against the other, creating wars innumerable. Millions have owed their
deaths to tortures they have received because they differed regarding
some trifling passage in Scripture. There can be no doubt of that, but
it is equally true that Christianity has enabled many more millions to
live as much from a practical point of view as from a spiritual. If
Christianity had not been a necessity it would not have triumphed;' and
Father O'Grady continued to speak of Mr. Poole's historical accounts of
the history of the rise and influence of Christianity till Father Oliver
interrupted him, crying out:
'And it is with that man her life will henceforth be passed, reading the
books he reads and writes, and, what is worse, listening to his
insidious conversation, to his subtle sophistries, for, no doubt, he is
an eloquent and agreeable talker.'
'You think, then,' Father O'Grady said, 'that a Christian forfeits his
faith if he inquires?'
'No, if I thought that I should cease to be a Christian. She is not
inquiring the matter out of her own account; she is an enforced
listener, and hears only one side. Every day a plausible account is
being poured into her ears, and her circumstances are such as would
tempt her to give a willing ear to Mr. Poole's beliefs that God has not
revealed his existence, and that we are free to live as we please,
nature being our only guide. I cannot imagine a young woman living in a
more dangerous atmosphere than this.
'All you tell me, Father O'Grady, frightens me. I discovered my
suspicions to you in my letters, but I can express myself better in
talking than on paper--far better. It is only now that I realize how
wrongly I acted towards this young woman. I was frightened in a measure
before, but the reality of my guilt has never appeared so distinctly to
me till now. You have revealed it to me, and I'm thinking now of what
account I could give to God were I to die to-morrow. "Thou hast caused a
soul to be lost," he would say. "The sins of the flesh are transitory
like the flesh, the sins of the faith are deeper," may be God's
judgment. Father O'Grady, I'm frightened, frightened; my fear is great,
and at this moment I feel like a man on his deathbed. My agony is worse,
for I'm in good health and can see clearly, whereas the dying man
understands little. The senses numb as death approaches.'
'Have you spoken of the mistake you made in confession, Father Oliver?'
'No, why should I?' he answered, 'for none here would understand me. But
I'll confess to you. You may have been sent to hear me. Who knows? Who
can say?' and he dropped on his knees crying: 'Can I be forgiven if that
soul be lost to God? Tell me if such a sin can be forgiven?'
'We must not fall into the sin of despair,' Father O'Grady answered. And
he murmured the Latin formula _Absolve te_, etc., making the sign of the
cross over the head of his penitent. For a while after the priests knelt
together in prayer, and it was with a feeling that his burden had been
lifted from him that Father Oliver rose from his knees, and, subdued in
body and mind, stood looking through the room, conscious of the green
grass showing through his window, lighted by a last ray of the setting
sun. It was the wanness of this light that put the thought into his mind
that it would soon be time to send round to the stables for his
visitor's car. His visitor! That small, frail man sitting in his
armchair would soon be gone, carrying with him this, Father Oliver's,
confession. What had he confessed? Already he had forgotten, and both
men stood face to face thinking of words wherewith they might break the
'I do not know,' Father O'Grady said, 'that I altogether share your fear
that an anti-Christian atmosphere necessarily implies that the Catholic
who comes into it will lose her faith, else faith would not be a pure
gift from God. God doesn't overload his creatures unbearably, nor does
he put any stress upon them from which they cannot extricate themselves.
I could cite many instances of men and women whose faith has been
strengthened by hostile criticism; the very arguments that have been
urged against their faith have forced them to discover other arguments,
and in this way they have been strengthened in their Catholic
convictions.' And to Father Oliver's question if he discerned any other
influence except an intellectual influence in Mr. Poole, he answered
that he had not considered this side of the question.
'I don't know what manner of man he is in his body,' said Father Oliver,
'but his mind is more dangerous. An intellectual influence is always
more dangerous than a sensual influence, and the sins of faith are worse
than the sins of the flesh. I never thought of him as a possible
seducer. But there may be that danger too. I still think, Father
O'Grady, that you might have warned Nora of her danger. Forgive me; I'm
sure you did all that was necessary. You do forgive me?'
The men's eyes met, and Father O'Grady said, as if he wished to change
'You were born at Tinnick, were you not?'
'Yes, I was born in Tinnick,' Father Oliver repeated mechanically,
almost as if he had not heard the question.
'And your sisters are nuns?'
'Tell me how it all came about.'
'How all what came about?' Father Oliver asked, for he was a little
dazed and troubled in his mind, and was, therefore, easily led to relate
the story of the shop in Tinnick, his very early religious enthusiasms,
and how he remembered himself always as a pious lad. On looking into the
years gone by, he said that he saw himself more often than not by his
bedside rapt in innocent little prayers. And afterwards at school he had
been considered a pious lad. He rambled on, telling his story almost
unconsciously, getting more thoughtful as he advanced into it, relating
carefully the absurd episode of the hermitage in which, to emulate the
piety of the old time, he chose Castle Island as a suitable spot for him
to live in.
Father O'Grady listened, seriously moved by the story; and Father Oliver
continued it, telling how Eliza, coming to see the priest in him, gave
up her room to him as soon as their cousin the Bishop was consulted. And
it was at this point of the narrative that Father O'Grady put a
'Was no attempt,' he asked, 'made to marry you to some girl with a big
And Father Oliver told of his liking for Annie McGrath and of his
aversion for marriage, acquiescing that aversion might be too strong a
word; indifference would more truthfully represent him.
'I wasn't interested in Annie McGrath nor in any woman as far as I can
remember until this unfortunate conduct of mine awakened an interest in
Nora Glynn. And it would be strange, indeed, if it hadn't awakened an
interest in me,' he muttered to himself. Father O'Grady suppressed the
words that rose up in his mind, 'Now I'm beginning to understand.' And
Father Oliver continued, like one talking to himself: 'I'm thinking that
I was singularly free from all temptations of the sensual life,
especially those represented by womankind. I was ordained early, when I
was twenty-two, and as soon as I began to hear confessions, the things
that surprised me the most were the stories relating to those passionate
attachments that men experience for women and women for men--attachments
which sometimes are so intense that if the sufferer cannot obtain relief
by the acquiescence of the object of their affections, he, if it be he,
she, if it be she, cannot refrain from suicide. There have been cases of
men and women going mad because their love was not reciprocated, and I
used to listen to these stories wonderingly, unable to understand, bored
by the relation.'
If Father Oliver had looked up at that moment, Father O'Grady's eyes
would have told him that he had revealed himself, and that perhaps
Father O'Grady now knew more about him than he knew himself. But without
withdrawing his eyes from the fire he continued talking till Catherine's
step was heard outside.
'She's coming to lay the cloth for our tea,' Father Oliver said. And
Father O'Grady answered:
'I shall be glad of a cup of tea.'
'Must you really go after tea?' Father Oliver asked; and again he begged
Father O'Grady to stay for dinner. But Father O'Grady, as if he felt
that the object of his visit had been accomplished, spoke of the drive
back to Tinnick and of the convenience of the branch line of railway. It
was a convenience certainly, but it was also an inconvenience, owing to
the fact that the trains run from Tinnick sometimes missed the mail
train; and this led Father Oliver to speak of the work he was striving
to accomplish, the roofing of Kilronan Abbey, and many other things, and
the time passed without their feeling it till the car came round to take
Father O'Grady away.
'He goes as a dream goes,' Father Oliver said, and a few minutes
afterwards he was sitting alone by his turf fire, asking himself in what
dreams differed from reality. For like a dream Father O'Grady had come
and he had gone, never to return. 'But does anything return?' he asked
himself, and he looked round his room, wondering why the chairs and
tables did not speak to him, and why life was not different from what it
was. He could hear Catherine at work in the kitchen preparing his
dinner, she would bring it to him as she had done yesterday, he would
eat it, he would sit up smoking his pipe for a while, and about eleven
o'clock go to his bed. He would lie down in it, and rise and say Mass
and see his parishioners. All these things he had done many times
before, and he would go on doing them till the day of his death--Until
the day of my death,' he repeated, 'never seeing her again, never seeing
him. Why did he come here?' And he was surprised that he could find no
answer to any of the questions that he put to himself. 'Nothing will
happen again in my life--nothing of any interest. This is the end! And
if I did go to London, of what should I speak to him? It will be better
to try to forget it all, and return, if I can, to the man I was before I
knew her;' and he stood stock still, thinking that without this memory
he would not be himself.
Father O'Grady's coming had been a pleasure to him, for they had talked
together; he had confessed to him; had been shriven. At that moment he
caught sight of a newspaper upon his table. '_Illustrated England_,' he
muttered, his thoughts half away; and he fell to wondering how it had
come into the house. 'Father O'Grady must have left it,' he said, and
began to unroll the paper. But while unrolling it he stopped. Half his
mind was still away, and he sat for fully ten minutes lost in sad
sensations, and it was the newspaper slipping from his hand that awoke
him. The first thing that caught his eye on opening the paper was an
interview with Mr. Walter Poole, embellished with many photographs of
'Did O'Grady leave this paper here for me to read,' he asked himself,
'or did he forget to take it away with him? We talked of so many things
that he may have forgotten it, forgotten even to mention it. How very
The lodge gates and the long drive, winding between different woods,
ascending gradually to the hilltop on which Beechwood Hall was placed by
an early eighteenth-century architect, seemed to the priest to be
described with too much unction by the representative of _Illustrated
England_. To the journalist Beechwood Hall stood on its hill, a sign and
symbol of the spacious leisure of the eighteenth century and the long
tradition that it represented, one that had not even begun to drop into
decadence till 1850, a tradition that still existed, despite the fact
that democracy was finding its way into the agricultural parts of
England. The journalist was impressed, perhaps unduly impressed, by the
noble hall and the quiet passages that seemed to preserve a memory of
the many generations that had passed through them on different errands,
now all hushed in the family vault.
Father Oliver looked down the column rapidly, and it was not until the
footman who admitted the journalist was dismissed by the butler, who
himself conducted the journalist to the library, that Father Oliver
said: 'We have at last arrived at the castle of learning in which the
great Mr. Poole sits sharpening the pen which is to slay Christianity.
But Christianity will escape Mr. Poole's pen. It, has outlived many such
attacks in the past. We shall see, however, what kind of nib he uses,
fine or blunt?' The journalist followed the butler down the long library
overlooking green sward to a quiet nook, if he might venture to speak
of Mr. Walter Poole's study as a quiet nook. It seemed to surprise him
that Mr. Walter Poole should rise from his writing-table and come
forward to meet him, and he expressed his gratitude to Mr. Walter Poole,
whose time was of great importance, for receiving him. And after all
this unction came a flattering description of Mr. Walter Poole himself.
He was, in the interviewer's words, a young man, tall and clean-shaven,
with a high nose which goes well with an eye-glass. The chin is long and
drops straight; his hair is mustard-coloured and glossy, and it curls
very prettily about the broad, well-shapen forehead. He is reserved at
first, and this lends a charm to the promise, which is very soon granted
you, of making the acquaintance with the thoughts and ideas which have
interested Mr. Walter Poole since boyhood--in fine, which have given him
his character. If he seems at first sight to conceal himself from you,
it is from shyness, or because he is reluctant to throw open his mind to
the casual curious. Why should he not keep his mind for his own
enjoyment and for the enjoyment of his friends, treating it like his
pleasure grounds or park? His books are not written for the many but for
the few, and he does not desire a larger audience than those with whom
he is in natural communion from the first, and this without any faintest
appearance of affectation.
'I suppose it isn't fair,' the priest said, 'to judge a man through his
interviewer; but if this interviewer doesn't misrepresent Mr. Walter
Poole, Mr. Walter Poole is what is commonly known as a very superior
person. He would appear from this paper,' the priest said, 'to be a man
between thirty and forty, not many years older than myself.' The
priest's thoughts floated away back into the past, and, returning
suddenly with a little start to the present, he continued reading the
interview, learning from it that Mr. Walter Poole's conversation was
usually gentle, like a quiet river, and very often, like a quiet river,
it rushed rapidly when Mr. Walter Poole became interested in his
'How very superior all this is,' the priest said. 'The river of thought
in him,' the interviewer continued, 'is deep or shallow, according to
the need of the moment. If, for instance, Mr. Walter Poole is asked if
he be altogether sure that it is wise to disturb people in their belief
in the traditions and symbols that have held sway for centuries, he will
answer quickly that if truth lies behind the symbols and traditions, it
will be in the interest of the symbols and traditions to inquire out the
truth, for blind belief--in other words, faith--is hardly a merit, or if
it be a merit it is a merit that cannot be denied to the savages who
adore idols. But the civilized man is interested in his history, and the
Bible deserves scientific recognition, for it has a history certainly
and is a history. "We are justified, therefore," Mr. Walter Poole
pleaded, "in seeking out the facts, and the search is conducted as much
in the interests of theology as of science; for though history owes
nothing to theology, it cannot be denied that theology owes a great deal
'He must have thought himself very clever when he made that remark to
the interviewer,' the priest muttered; and he walked up and down his
room, thinking of Nora Glynn living in this unchristian atmosphere.
He picked up the paper again and continued reading, for he would have to
write to Nora about Father O'Grady's visit and about the interview in
The interviewer inquired if Mr. Walter Poole was returning to Palestine,
and Mr. Walter Poole replied that there were many places that he would
like to revisit, Galilee, for instance, a country that St. Paul never
seemed to have visited, which, to say the least, was strange. Whereupon
a long talk began about Paul and Jesus, Mr. Walter Poole maintaining
that Paul's teaching was identical with that of Jesus, and that Peter
was a clown despised by Paul and Jesus.
'How very superior,' Father Oliver muttered--how very superior.' He read
that Mr. Walter Poole was convinced that the three Synoptic Gospels were
written towards the close of the first century; and one of the reasons
he gave for this attribution was as in Matthew, chapter xxvii., verse 7,
'And they took counsel, and bought with them (the thirty pieces of
silver) the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field
was called, The field of blood, unto this day'--a passage which showed
that the Gospel could not have been written till fifty or sixty years
after the death of Jesus.
'England must be falling into atheism if newspapers dare to print such
interviews,' Father Oliver said; and he threw the paper aside angrily.
'And it was I,' he continued, dropping into his armchair, 'that drove
her into this atheistical country. I am responsible, I alone.'
_From Father Oliver Gogarty to Miss Glynn._
'_August_ 10, 19--.
'DEAR Miss Glynn,
'I have a piece of news for you. Father O'Grady has been here, and left
me a few hours ago. Catherine threw open the door, saying, "Father
O'Grady, your reverence," and the small, frail man whom you know so well
walked into the room, surprising me, who was altogether taken aback by
the unexpectedness of his visit.
'He was the last person in the world I expected at that moment to meet,
yet it was natural that an Irish priest, on the mission in England,
would like to spend his holidays in Ireland, and still more natural
that, finding himself in Ireland, Father O'Grady should come to see me.
He drove over from Tinnick, and we talked about you. He did not seem on
the whole as anxious for your spiritual safety as I am, which is only
what one might expect, for it was not he that drove you out of a
Catholic country into a Protestant one. He tried to allay my fears,
saying that I must not let remorse of conscience get hold of me, and he
encouraged me to believe that my responsibility had long ago ended. It
was pleasant to hear these things said, and I believed him in a way;
but he left by accident or design a copy of _Illustrated England_ on my
table. I am sufficiently broad-minded to believe that it is better to be
a good Protestant than a bad Catholic; but Mr. Walter Poole is neither
Catholic nor Protestant, but an agnostic, which is only a polite word
for an atheist. Week in and week out you will hear every argument that
may be used against our holy religion. It is true that you have the
advantage of being born a Catholic, and were well instructed in your
religion; and no doubt you will accept with caution his statements,
particularly that very insidious statement that Jesus lays no claim to
divinity in the three Synoptic Gospels, and that these were not written
by the apostles themselves, but by Greeks sixty, seventy, or perhaps
eighty years after his death. I do not say he will try to undermine your
faith, but how can he do otherwise if he believe in what he writes?
However careful he may be to avoid blasphemy in your presence, the fact
remains that you are living in an essentially unchristian atmosphere,
and little by little the poison which you are taking in will accumulate,
and you will find that you have been influenced without knowing when or
'If you lose your faith, I am responsible for it; and I am not
exaggerating when I say the thought that I may have lost a soul to God
is always before me. I can imagine no greater responsibility than this,
and there seems to be no way of escaping from it. Father O'Grady says
that you have passed out of our care, that all we can do is to pray for
you. But I would like to do something more, and if you happen upon some
passages in the books you are reading that seem in contradiction to the
doctrines taught by the Catholic Church, I hope you will not conclude
that the Church is without an answer. The Church has an answer ready for
every single thing that may be said against her doctrines. I am not
qualified to undertake the defence of the Church against anyone. I quite
recognize my own deficiency in this matter, but even I may be able to
explain away some doubts that may arise. If so, I beg of you not to
hesitate to write to me. If I cannot do so myself, I may be able to put
you in the way of finding out the best Catholic opinion on matters of
'Very sincerely yours,
_From Miss Nora Glynn to Father Oliver Gogarty._
'BEECHWOOD HALL, BERKSHIRE,
'_August_ 15, 19--.
'I am sorry indeed that I am causing you so much trouble of conscience.
You must try to put it out of your mind that you are responsible for me.
The idea is too absurd. When I was in your parish I was interested in
you, and that was why I tried to improve the choir and took trouble to
decorate the altar. Have you forgotten how anxious I was that you should
write the history of the lake and its castles? Why don't you write it
and send it to me? I shall be interested in it, though for the moment I
have hardly time to think of anything but Jewish history. Within the
next few weeks, for certain, the last chapter of Mr. Poole's book will
be passed for press, and then we shall go abroad and shall visit all the
great men in Europe. Some are in Amsterdam, some are in Paris, some live
in Switzerland. I wish I understood French a little better. Isn't it all
like a dream? Do you know, I can hardly believe I ever was in forlorn
Garranard teaching little barefooted children their Catechism and their
A, B, C.
'Good-bye, Father Gogarty. We go abroad next week. I lie awake thinking
of this trip--the places I shall see and the people I shall meet.
'Very sincerely yours,
It seemed to him that her letter gave very little idea of her. Some can
express themselves on paper, and are more real in the words they write
than in the words they speak. But hardly anything of his idea of her
transpired in that letter--only in her desire of new ideas and new
people. She was interested in everything--in his projected book about
the raiders faring forth from the island castles, and now in the source
of the Christian River; and he began to meditate a destructive criticism
of Mr. Poole's ideas in a letter addressed to the editor of _Illustrated
England_, losing heart suddenly, he knew not why, feeling the task to be
beyond him. Perhaps it would be better not to write to Nora again.
_From Father Oliver Gogarty to Miss Nora Glynn._
'_August_ 22, 19--.
'DEAR MISS GLYNN,
'I gather from your letter that religion has ceased to interest you,
except as a subject for argument, and I will not begin to argue with
you, but will put instead a simple question to you: In what faith do you
intend to bring up your child? and what will be your answer when your
child asks: "Who made me?" Mr. Poole may be a learned man, but all the
learning in the world will not tell you what answer to make to your
child's questions; only the Church can do that.
'I have thought a great deal about the danger that your post of
secretary to Mr. Poole involves and am not sure that the state of
indifference is not the worst state of all. One day you will find that
indifference has passed into unbelief, and you will write to me (if we
continue to write to each other) in such a way that I shall understand
that you have come to regard our holy religion as a tale fit only for
childhood's ears. I write this to you, because I have been suddenly
impelled to write, and it seems to me that in writing to you in this
simple way I am doing better than if I spent hours in argument. You will
not always think as you do now; the world will not always interest you
as much as it does now. I will say no more on this point but will break
off abruptly to tell you that I think you are right when you say that we
all want change. I feel I have lived too long by the side of this lake,
and I am thinking of going to London....'
The room darkened gradually, and, going to the window, he longed for
something to break the silence, and was glad when the rain pattered
among the leaves. The trees stood stark against the sky, in a green that
seemed unnatural. The sheep moved as if in fear towards the sycamores,
and from all sides came the lowing of cattle. A flash drove him back
from the window. He thought he was blinded. The thunder rattled; it was
as if a God had taken the mountains in his arms and was shaking them
together. Crash followed crash; the rain came down; it was as if the
rivers of heaven had been opened suddenly. Once he thought the storm was
over; but the thunder crashed again, the rain began to thicken; there
was another flash and another crash, and the pour began again. But all
the while the storm was wearing itself out, and he began to wonder if a
sullen day, ending in this apocalypse, would pass into a cheerful
evening. It seemed as if it would, for some blue was showing between the
clouds drifting westward, threatening every moment to blot out the blue,
but the clouds continued to brighten at the edges. 'The beginning of the
sunset,' the priest said; and he went out on his lawn and stood watching
the swallows in the shining air, their dipping, swerving flight showing
against a background of dappled clouds. He had never known so
extraordinary a change; and he walked to and fro in the freshened air,
thinking that Nora's health might not have withstood the strain of
trudging from street to street, teaching the piano at two shillings an
hour, returning home late at night to a poky little lodging, eating any
food a landlady might choose to give her. As a music teacher she would
have had great difficulty in supporting herself and her baby, and it
pleased him to imagine the child as very like her mother; and returning
to the house, he added this paragraph:
'I was interrupted while writing this letter by a sudden darkening of
the light, and when I went to the window the sky seemed to have sunk
close to the earth, and there was a dreadful silence underneath it. I
was driven back by a flash of lightning, and the thunder was terrifying.
A most extraordinary storm lasting for no more than an hour, if that,
and then dispersing into a fine evening. It was a pleasure to see the
change--the lake shrouded in mist, with ducks talking softly in the
reeds, and swallows high up, advancing in groups like dancers on a
background of dappled clouds.
'I have come back to my letter to ask if you would like me to go to see
your baby? Father O'Grady and I will go together if I go to London, and
I will write to you about it. You will be glad, no doubt, to hear that
the child is going on well.
'Very sincerely yours,
_From Father Oliver Gogarty to Miss Nora Glynn._
'_September_ 4, 19--.
'Forgive me, my dear friend, but I am compelled to write to apologize
for the introduction of my troubles of conscience and my anxiety for
your spiritual welfare into my last letter. You found a way out of
difficulties--difficulties into which I plunged you. But we will say no
more on that point: enough has been said. You have created a life for
yourself. You have shown yourself to be a strong woman in more ways than
one, and are entitled to judge whether your work and the ideas you live
among are likely to prove prejudicial to your faith and morals. By a
virtue of forgiveness which I admire and thank you for, you write
telling me of the literary work you are engaged upon. If I had thought
before writing the letter I am now apologizing for, I could not have
failed to see that you write to me because you would relieve my
loneliness as far as you are able. But I did not think: I yielded to my
mood, and see now that my letters are disgracefully egotistical, and
very often absurd; for have I not begged of you to remember that since
God will hold me responsible for your soul, it would be well that you
should live a life of virtue and renunciation, so that I shall be saved
the humiliation of looking down from above upon you in hell?
'Loneliness begets sleeplessness, and sleeplessness begets a sort of
madness. I suffer from nightmare, and I cannot find words to tell you
how terrible are the visions one sees at dawn. It is not so much that
one sees unpleasant and ugly things--life is not always pretty or
agreeable, that we know--but when one lies between sleeping and waking,
life itself is shown in mean aspects, and it is whispered that one has
been duped till now; that now, and for the first time, one knows the
truth. You remember how the wind wails about the hilltop on which I
live. The wailing of wind has something to do with my condition of mind;
one cannot sit from eight o'clock in the evening till twelve at night
staring at the lamp, hearing the wind, and remain perfectly sane.
'But why am I writing about myself? I want to escape from myself, and
your letters enable me to do so. The names of the cities you are going
to visit transport me in imagination, and last night I sat a long while
wondering why I could not summon courage to go abroad. Something holds
me back. I think if I once left Garranard, I should never return to the
lake and its island. I hope you haven't forgotten Marban, the hermit who
lived at the end of the lake in Church Island. I visited his island
yesterday. I should have liked to have rowed myself through the strait
and along the shores, seeing Castle Cara and Castle Burke as I passed;
but Church Island is nearly eight miles from here, and I don't know if I
should have been man enough to pull the fisherman's boat so far, so I
put the gray horse into the shafts and went round by road.
'Church Island lies in a bay under a rocky shore, and the farmer who
cuts the grass there in the summer-time has a boat to bring away the
hay. It was delightful to step into it, and as the oars chimed I said to
myself, "I have Marban's poem in my pocket--and will read it walking up
the little path leading from his cell to his church." The lake was like
a sheet of blue glass, and the island lay yellow and red in it. As we
rowed, seeking a landing-place under the tall trees that grow along the
shores, the smell of autumn leaves mingled with the freshness of the
water. We rowed up a beautiful little inlet overhung with bushes. The
quay is at the end of it, and on getting out of the boat, I asked the
boatman to point out to me what remained of Marban's Church. He led me
across the island--a large one, the largest in the lake--not less than
seven acres or nine, and no doubt some parts of it were once cultivated
by Marban. Of his church, however, very little remains--only one piece
of wall, and we had great difficulty in seeing it, for it is now
surrounded by a dense thicket. The little pathway leading from his cell
to the church still exists; it is almost the same as he left it--a
little overgrown, that is all.
'Marban was no ordinary hermit; he was a sympathetic naturalist, a true
poet, and his brother who came to see him, and whose visit gave rise to
the colloquy, was a king. I hope I am not wronging Marban, but the
island is so beautiful that I cannot but think that he was attracted by
its beauty and went there because he loved Nature as well as God. His
poem is full of charming observations of nature, of birds and beasts and
trees, and it proves how very false the belief is that primitive man had
no eyes to see the beauties of the forest and felt no interest in the
habits of animals or of birds, but regarded them merely as food. It
pleases me to think of the hermit sitting under the walls of his church
or by his cell writing the poem which has given me so much pleasure,
including in it all the little lives that cams to visit him--the birds
and the beasts--enumerating them as carefully as Wordsworth would, and
loving them as tenderly. Marban! Could one find a more beautiful name
for a hermit? Guaire is the brother's name. Marban and King Guaire. Now,
imagine the two brothers meeting for a poetic disputation regarding the
value of life, and each speaking from his different point of view! True
that Guaire's point of view is only just indicated--he listens to his
brother, for a hermit's view of life is more his own than a king's. It
pleases me to think that the day the twain met to discourse of life and
its mission was the counterpart of the day I spent on the island. My day
was full of drifting cloud and sunshine, and the lake lay like a mirror
reflecting the red shadow of the island. So you will understand that the
reasons Marban gave for living there in preference to living the life of
the world seemed valid, and I could not help peering into the bushes,
trying to find a rowan-tree--for he speaks of one. The rowan is the
mountain-ash. I found several. One tree was covered with red berries,
and I broke off a branch and brought it home, thinking that perchance it
might have come down to us from one planted by Marban's hand. Of
blackthorns there are plenty. The adjective he uses is "dusky." Could he
have chosen a more appropriate one? I thought, too, of "the clutch of
eggs, the honey and the mast" that God sent him, of "the sweet apples
and red whortleberries," and of his dish of "strawberries of good taste
'It is hard to give in an English translation an idea of the richness of
the verse, heavily rhymed and winningly alliterated, but you will see
that he enumerates the natural objects with skill. The eternal
summer--the same in his day as in ours--he speaks of as "a coloured
mantle," and he mentions "the fragrance of the woods." And seeing the
crisp leaves--for the summer was waning--I repeated his phrase, "the
summer's coloured mantle," and remembered:
"Swarms of bees and chafers, the little musicians of the world--
A gentle chorus."
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