The Macdermots of Ballycloran, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter 8.

Miss Macdermot at Home.

At any rate the priest’s admonitions had this effect on Thady, that when he came in to breakfast after his morning avocations, he spoke to Feemy, whom he had not seen since their stormy interview of yesterday, with kindness, and, for him, gentleness. But she seemed only half inclined to accept the proffered olive branch. Thady’s morning salutations couldn’t go far towards putting a young girl in good humour, for even now that he meant to be gracious it was only —“Well, Feemy, how’s yourself this morning; and will you be ready for Mary Brady’s wedding?” But her answer —“Oh, in course; will you take your breakfast there?” showed him that she had not forgiven his aspersions against her lover, and the breakfast passed over in silence, with the exception of Larry’s usual growls. Thady, therefore, when he had swallowed his potatoes and milk, betook himself again to Pat Brady and the fields. Larry was left alone to sleep, if he could, over the fire, and Feemy betook herself to her own parlour, and proceeded to penetrate farther into the mysteries of the “Mysterious Assassin.”

There she sat — a striking contradiction of that proverb which we so often quote with reference to young ladies, and which so seldom can be quoted with truth, “Beauty unadorned, adorned the most.”

Ussher would not come till the evening, and her hair was therefore in papers — and the very papers themselves looked soiled and often used. Her back hair had been hastily fastened up with a bit of old black ribbon and a comb boasting only two teeth, and the short hairs round the bottom of her well-turned head were jagged and uneven, as though bristling with anger at the want of that attention which they required. She had no collar on, but a tippet of different material and colour from her frock was thrown over her shoulders. Her dress itself was the very picture of untidiness; it looked as though it had never seen a mangle; the sleeves drooped down, hanging despondingly below her elbows; and the tuck of her frock was all ripped and torn — she had trod on it, or some one else had done it for her, and she had not been at the trouble of mending it. It was also too tight, or else Feemy had not fastened it properly, for a dreadful gap appeared in the back, showing some article beneath which was by no means as white as it should be; —“but then, wasn’t it only her morning frock?” In front of it, too, was a streaked mark of grease, the long since deposited remains of some of her culinary labours. Her feet were stuffed into slippers — truth compels me to say they would more properly be called shoes down at heel — her stockings were wofully dirty, and, horror of all horrors, out at the heels! There she sat, with her feet on the fender, her face on her hands, and her elbows on her knees, with her thumb-worn novel lying in her lap between them.

There she sat; how little like the girl that had eclipsed Mary Cassidy at the ball at Mohill! Poor though Feemy was, she could make out a dress, and a handsome dress, for such an occasion as that. Then every hair on her fine head had been in its place; the curls of her rich brown hair were enough to win the heart of any man; the collar round her fair neck had been beautifully washed and ironed, for her own hands had been at work on it half the morning; her white long gloves had been new and well fitting, and her only pair of silk stockings had been scrupulously neat; her dress fitted her fine person as though made by Carson, and she had walked as though she knew she need not be ashamed of herself. But now how great was the contrast!

No girls know better how to dress themselves than Irish girls, or can do it with less assistance or less expense; but they are too much given to morning dishevelment. If they would only remember that the change in a man’s opinion and mind respecting a girl will often take place as quick as the change in her appearance, and that the contrast will be quite as striking, they would be more particular. And they never can be sure of themselves, take what precautions they will. Lovers will drop in at most unseasonable hours; they have messages to deliver, plans to propose, or leave to take. They can never be kept out with certainty, and all the good done by a series of brilliant evenings — satin dresses, new flowers for the hair, expensive patterns, and tediously finished toilets — may be, and often is, suddenly counteracted by one untidy head, soiled dress, or dirty stocking.

I will, however, return to my story. There sat Feemy, apparently perfectly contented with her appearance and occupation, till a tap at the door disturbed her, and in walked Mary Brady, the bride elect.

“Well, Miss Feemy, and how’s your beautiful self this morning?”

“And how are you, Mary, now the time is coming so near?”

Mary Brady was a very tall woman, being about the same height as her brother, thirty or thirty-three years of age, with a plain, though good-humoured looking face, over which her coarse hair was divided on the left temple. She had long ungainly limbs, and was very awkward in the use of them, and though not absolutely disagreeable in her appearance, she was so nearly so, that she would hardly have got married without the assistance of the “two small pigs, and thrifle of change,” which had given her charms in the eyes both of Ginty and Denis McGovery.

“Oh! Miss Feemy, and I’m fretting so these two days, that is, ever since Denis said it was to be this blessed day — the Lord help me! — and I with it all on my shouldhers, and the divil a one to lend a hand the laste taste in life.”

“Why, Mary, what can there be so much to do at all?”

“Och! then, hadn’t I my white dress to get made, and the pair of sheets to get hemmed, for Denis said his’n warn’t large enough for him and I,”— and here the Amazon gave a grin of modesty — “and you know it was part of the bargain, I was to have a pair of new sheets” (Denis had kept this back from Father John in his inventory of his bride’s fortune); “and isn’t there the supper to get ready, and the things, and the house to ready and all! — and then when I’d done that, it war all for nothing, for the wedding isn’t to be at Pat’s at all.”

“The wedding not to be at Brady’s, where is it to be then?”

“Oh, jist at Mrs. Mehan’s shop below, at the loch.”

“Oh, that’s better still, Mary; we won’t have so far to go in the mud.”

“That’s jist what the boys war saying, Miss; and there be so much more room, and there be so many to be in it, they couldn’t all be in it, at all at all, at home. So you see we is to be married in the room inside, where the two beds is, and they is to come out of it, and the supper is to be there, Miss, you see, and the most of the dhrinking, and then we’ll have the big kitchen comfortable to oursells for the music and the dancing. And what do you think! Pat has got Shamus na Pe’bria, all the ways out of County Mayo, him that makes all the pipes through the counthry, Miss; and did the music about O’Connell all out of his own head, Miss. Oh, it’ll be the most illigant wedding intirely, Miss, anywhere through the counthry, this long time back! When one is to be married, it’s as well to do it dacently as not; arn’t it, Miss?”

“Oh! that it is Mary, and yours’ll be quite a dash.”

“Yours’ll be the next, you know, Miss Feemy, and that will be the wedding! But there’s one thing that bothers me intirely.”

“Well, out with it at once, Mary; I suppose you want to borrow the plates, and knives, and forks, and things?”

“Oh, that’s in course, Miss Feemy; and it’s very good in you to be offering them that way before I axed the loan of them at all; but that ain’t all. You see I’m so bothered intirely with them big sheets, and they not half finished, and not a taste in life done to the cap of me yet, and the pratees and vegetables to get ready, and the things to dress, and not a sowl to lend me a hand at all, unless jist Mrs. Mehan’s bit of a girl, and she’s busy readying the rooms; and so, Miss Feemy, if you’d jist let Biddy slip up for the afthernoon — you know Katty could be doing for you down here — and then, Miss, I’d be made intirely.”

“Well, Mary, I suppose she must go up then; one thing’s certain, you can’t be getting married every day.”

“Why no, Miss, that is sartain; for even if Denis were to die away like — as in course he must one day, for he ain’t quite so young now — I would have to be waiting a little, Miss, before I got my second.”

Mary Brady had been above thirty years getting one husband; she was, therefore, probably right as to the delay she might experience in obtaining a second.

“Well, Mary, Biddy may go with you.”

“Long life to you, Miss; and about the things then you know — the plates, and the knives, and the glasses?”

“Oh! Mary, I’ll not have you bringing the glasses down there at all; sure Mrs. Mehan’s glasses enough of her own, and she selling whiskey. You may take the knives, and the forks, and the plates; though you must leave us enough for ourselves — and there an’t so many of them in it after all.”

“Well, Miss Feemy, that’s very good of you now. And you’ll be bringing your own sweetheart with you, won’t you, dear? — and it’s I’d be sorry you’d be at my wedding, and no one fit to dance with your father’s daughter.”

“Oh! if you mean Captain Ussher, he told me Pat asked him himself, and he’d sure be there.”

“And who else should I main, alanna; sure isn’t he your own beau, and ain’t you to be married to him, Miss Feemy?”

“Nonsense, Mary.”

“Well, now, but sure you wouldn’t be ashamed of telling me — isn’t you going to have him, Miss?”

“But musn’t I wait to be asked, like another? — Sure, Mary, you didn’t go asking Denis McGovery, did you?”

“No, then, indeed I didn’t, darling; and glad enough he was to be axing me.”

“Well, and musn’t I be the same?”

“Oh! in course; but, Miss Feemy, the Captain’s been up here coorting at Ballycloran now these six months; sure he axed you before this, Miss Feemy?”

Feemy was rather puzzled; she didn’t like to say she was not engaged; she had a presentiment Mary Brady was fishing to find out if the report about the Captain’s inconstancy was true, and as matters stood she did not exactly like to say that the affair was arranged.

“Well, Mary, then I’ll tell you exactly how it is — but mind, I don’t want it talked about yet for rasons; so you won’t say anything about it if I tell you?”

“Och then! is it I? Sorrow a word in life shall any one be the better av me, and you know, Miss Feemy, I wouldn’t tell you a lie for worlds.”

“Well, then, it’s jist this way — I and the Captain is engaged, but there’s rasons for him why we couldn’t be married just immediately; so you see that’s why I don’t want it talked about.”

“Ah! well dear, I knew there was something av that in it, and a nice handsome gentleman like the Captain wouldn’t be trating the likes of you that way.”

“What way, Mary?”

“Why they do be saying —”

“Who do be saying?”

“Why, jist through the counthry — people you know, Miss, who must always have their gag; they do be saying — that’s only some of them you know, Miss, who don’t be quite frindly to Ballycloran — that the Captain don’t main to be married at all, and is only playing his tricks with you, and that he’s a schamer. But I knew you wouldn’t be letting him go on that way, and so I said to Pat.”

Feemy didn’t quite like all this — it was a corroboration of what her brother had said; for though the Captain had certainly promised to marry her, he had never thought it necessary to ask her. She knew the matter did not rest on a proper footing; and though she was hardly aware of it, she felt the indignity of the probability of being jilted being talked over by such persons as Pat Brady.

“Your brother, Mary, might have saved himself the throuble of telling lies about either the Captain or me; not of course that I care.”

“Oh! it warn’t Pat, Miss, said it, only he heard it you know, Miss, through the counthry.”

“Well, it don’t signify who said it, but don’t you be repeating what I told you.”

“Is it I, Miss? Sorrow a word, Miss, will any one hear from me av it. Would I tell a lie about it? But I’ll be glad to see the day you’re married, for that’ll be the great wedding through the counthry. — Oh laws!”

This exclamation was not a part of the last speech, but was a kind of long-drawn, melancholy sigh, which did not take place for some minute or two after she had done speaking, during which time Feemy had been thinking of her own affairs, quite forgetful of Mary Brady and her wedding.

“My! Mary, what are you sighing about?”

“Well then, Miss Feemy, and isn’t it a dreadful thing to be laving one’s home, and one’s frinds like, and to be going right away into another house intirely, Miss; and altogether the thoughts of what is the married life at all frets me greatly.”

“Why, you needn’t be married unless you like it, Mary.”

“Oh! Miss Feemy, that’s in course too; but then a young woman is behove to do something for her family.”

“But you haven’t a family, you know, Mary, now.”

“No, but Miss Feemy alanna, you know the chances is I shall have now I’m to be married; and it’s for them, the little innocents, I does it.”

The strength of this argument did not exactly strike Feemy, but she thought it was all right, and said nothing.

“And then the throubles of a married life, darling — supposing them is too many for me, what’ll I do at all? I wonder, Miss Feemy, will I get any sleep at all?”

“Indeed, Mary, I was never married; but why shouldn’t you sleep?”

“‘Deed then, Miss, I don’t jist know, but they do be saying that Denis is so noisy at nights, a-shoeing all the cattle over again as he shod in the day, and counting the money; and you see, av he was hammering away the blessed live-long night that way, maybe I’d be hurted.”

“It’s too late for you to think of that now; but he’ll be quieter than that, I should think, when you’re with him.”

“Maybe he will, Miss; and as you say, I couldn’t dacently be off it now. But thin — oh laws! — I’m thinking what will poor Pat be doing without me, and no one in it at all to bile the pratees and feed the pigs — the craturs!”

“That’s nonsense, Mary — you and he was always fighting; he’ll have more peace in it when you’re gone.”

“That’s thrue for you, Miss, sartanly, and that’s what breaks the heart of me intirely. Too much pace isn’t good for Pat, no how; he’ll never do no good, you’ll see, when he comes to have so much of his own way. ‘Deed then, the heart’s low within me, to be laving Pat this way!” And Miss Brady put the tail of her gown into the corner of her eye.

“But Mary, you’ll have to be caring more for your husband now. I suppose you love Denis McGovery, don’t you? I’d never marry a man unless I loved him.”

“Oh! that’s in course — I do love him; why wouldn’t I? for he has a nice little room all dacently furnished for any young woman to go into — besides the shop; and he never has the horses at all into the one we sleeps in, as is to be. And he’s a handful of money, and can make any woman comfortable; and in course I love him — so I do. But what’s the use of loving a man, if he’s to be hammering away at a horseshoe all night?”

“Oh, they’re making game of you — they are, Mary; depend upon it, when he’s tired working all day, he’ll sleep sound enough.”

“Well, I s’poses he will; but now, Miss Feemy, I wonder is he a quiet sort of man? will he be fighting at all, do you think?”

“Really then, I can’t tell; but even if he does, they say you can take your own part pretty well, when it’s necessary.”

“For the matter of that, so I can; and I don’t mind a scrimmage jist now and again — sich as I and Pat have — av it’s only to show I won’t be put under; but they do say Denis is very sthrong. I don’t think I’d ever have had him, av’ I’d known afore he’d been so mortial sthrong.”

“Well, that’s all too late now for you to be talking of; and take my advice, Mary, don’t be fighting with him at all if you can help it; for from what people say of him I think your husband, as will be, sticks mostly to his own way, and I don’t think he’ll let his wife interfere. But he’s a hard-working man, and it’ll be a great comfort to you that you’ll never see your children wanting.”

“Oh, the childhren, the little dears! it’s of them I’m thinking. God he knows, it’s chiefly along of them as makes me do it; but — oh laws! Miss, it’s a dreadful thing to come over one all at once. But it’s a great comfort anyway your letting Biddy come down to ready the mutton and pratees, and things; and so, Miss, as I’ve so much to do, you’ll excuse my waiting any longer; and you and Mr. Thady and the Captain — for I’m thinking the Masther won’t be coming — ‘ll not be down later than sivin, for Father John’s to be in it at sivin exact.”

“And who’s to get the kiss, Mary?”

“Oh, Miss!”

“The Captain says he’ll have a try for it anyway.”

“Oh that’d be too much honor intirely, Miss. But av here isn’t Father John coming up the avenue!”

And Mary hurried off into the realms under ground to secure the willing assistance of Biddy, and Father John’s ponderous foot up the hall steps gave Feemy anything but a pleasant sensation. She was very fond of Father John too, but somehow, just at present she did not feel quite pleased to see him.

The doors were all open, and Father John walked into Feemy’s boudoir. However, he was only Father John, and it wasn’t her dress therefore that annoyed her; any dress would do for a priest.

After the common greetings were over, and Father John had asked after the family, and Feemy had surmised that it was either her father or her brother that he wished to see, the priest began his task.

“No, Feemy, my dear, it’s not your father or your brother I want to see this turn, but just your own self.” And Father John sat himself down by the fire. “I’m come just to have a little chat with you, and you musn’t be angry with me for meddling with what, perhaps, you’ll say was no business of mine.”

This exordium made Feemy’s heart palpitate, for she knew it must be about Captain Ussher, but she only said,

“Oh! no, Father John, I won’t be angry with you.”

“That’s my darling, for you know it’s only out of love for you and Thady that I’m speaking, and a real friend to you can’t do you any harm, if after all you shouldn’t take his advice.”

“Oh! no, Father John, and I’m sure I’m very much obliged to you.”

Father John himself hardly knew how to take the sting from the rebuke, which he was aware his mission could not but convey; and he was no less aware, that unless the dose had a little sugar in it, at any rate to hide its unprepossessing appearance even if it did not render it palatable, his patient would never take it.

“Thady, you know, was dining with me yesterday, and we were talking over Ballycloran and old Flannelly’s money matters; and I was, you see, just making a bad tenant’s excuses to him, and so on from one thing to another, till we got talking about you, Feemy; — in short, he didn’t seem quite happy about you.”

“I don’t know I ever did anything to make him unhappy.”

“No, it wasn’t anything you had done to make him unhappy, but he is afraid you ain’t happy in yourself; and Feemy, my dear, you should always remember, that though Thady is rough in his manners, and perhaps not at all times so gentle in his words as he should be, his heart is in the right place — at any rate where you are concerned. Though maybe he doesn’t say so as often as others might, he’s a very fond brother to you.”

“And I’m sure I’m always very fond of him — but then he’s so queer; but, Father John, if I’ve offended Thady, I’ll beg his pardon, for I’m sure I don’t want to be out with him.”

“I’m sure you don’t, Feemy; but that’s not exactly it either. Thady’s not the least in life offended with you; he’s not at all easy to take offence, at least not with you; but he doesn’t think you are just at ease with yourself; and to come to the truth at once, he was telling me what passed between you yesterday.”

Feemy blushed up to her paper curls, but she said nothing.

“Now, I’m thinking Thady didn’t go about saying what he wanted to say yesterday, quite the way he should have done, and I am not sure I shall do it any better myself. But I thought it as well to step up, as I was certain you’d hear whatever your priest had to say to you.”

“I don’t think the better of Thady, though, for going and talking about me. If he’d only let me alone by myself I’d do well enough; it’s all that talking does the harm, Father John.”

Father John didn’t exactly like to tell Feemy that girls in her situation were just the people that ought not to be left alone by themselves — which probably means being left alone with some one of their own choosing; and that he was of opinion that she would not do very well if left alone in that way. That, however, was what he wished to convey to her.

“Oh, but, my dear, you must think better of Thady for wishing to protect you as well as he can, and you left alone so much yourself here. So you know,”— and Father John even blushed a little as he said it — “it’s about this fine lover of yours we are speaking. Now, my dear, I’ve nothing whatever to say against Captain Ussher, for you know he and I are great cronies; indeed, it’s only last night he was taking his punch with your brother and Cullen down at the cottage —”

“You weren’t saying anything to Captain Ussher about me, Father John?”

“You may take your oath of that, my dear. I respect a lady’s secret a great deal too much for that. No; I was only saying that he was down at the cottage last night, to prove that he and I are friends, and it’s not out of any prejudice I’m speaking — about his being a Protestant, and all that; not but that I’d sooner be marrying you to a good Catholic, Feemy — but that’s neither here nor there. But you’ve known him now a long time; it’s now four months since we all heard for certain it was to be a match; and, to tell you the truth, my dear, people are saying that Captain Ussher doesn’t mean anything serious.”

“I think they’ll dhrive me mad with their talk! And what good will it do for you and Thady to be coming telling me what they say?”

“This good, Feemy; if what they say is false and unfounded, as I am sure I hope it is — and if you’re so fond of Captain Ussher — don’t you think it would be as well to put an end to the report by telling your father and brother of your being engaged, and settling something about your marriage, and all that?”

“I did tell my brother I was engaged, Father John; what would you have?”

“I’ll tell you what I’d have. I’d have Captain Ussher ask your father or brother’s consent: there’s no doubt, we all know, but he’d get it; but it’s customary, and, in my mind, it would only be decent.”

“So he will, I dare say; but mayn’t there be rasons why he don’t wish to have it talked about yet?”

“Then, Feemy, in your situation, do you think a long clandestine engagement is quite the thing for you; is quite prudent?”

“And how can it be clandestine, Father John, when you and Thady, and every one else almost, knows all about it?”

Feemy’s sharpness was too much for Father John, so he had to put it on another tack.

“Well, Feemy, now just look at the matter this way, one moment: supposing now — only just for supposition — this lover of yours was not the sort of man we all take him to be, and that he was to turn out false, or inconstant; suppose now it turned out he had another wife somewhere else —”

“Oh, that’s nonsense, you know, Father John.”

“Yes, but just supposing it — or that he took some vagary into his head, and changed his mind! You must have heard of men doing such things, and why shouldn’t your lover as well as another girl’s? We’re all likely to be deceived in people, and why mayn’t we be as well deceived in Captain Ussher, as others have been in those they loved as well? We’ll all hope, and think, and believe it’s not so; but isn’t it as well to be on the safe side, particularly in so important a thing as your happiness, Feemy? You wouldn’t like it to be said through the country that you’d been jilted by the handsome captain, and that you’d been thrown off by your lover as soon as he was tired of you?”

“And that’s thrue for you, Father John; but Myles isn’t tired of me, else why should he be coming up here to see me oftener than ever?”

“But it’s that he never may be tired of you, Feemy; take my word for it, he’ll respect you a great deal more if you’ll show more respect to yourself.”

“Well, Father John, and what is it you’d have me be doing?”

“Why, then, I’d just ask him to speak a word to Thady — just to propose himself in the regular way.”

“But Thady hates him so.”

“No; Thady don’t hate him: he’s only jealous lest Captain Ussher isn’t treating you quite as he ought to do.”

“But Thady is so queer in his manners; and I know Myles wouldn’t like to be asking leave and permission to be courting me.”

“But, Feemy, he must like it; and you shouldn’t like your lover the more for thinking so little of your brother, or, for the matter of that, of yourself either.”

“You know, Father John, I can’t help what he thinks of Thady. As to his thinking of me, I’m quite satisfied with that, and I suppose that’s enough.”

Father John was beginning to wax wroth, partly because he was displeased with Feemy himself, and partly because Feemy answered him too knowingly.

“Well, then, Feemy, it’ll be one of the two: either Captain Ussher will have to speak to Thady, and settle something about the marriage in a proper and decent way; or else Thady will be speaking to him. And now, which do you think will be the best?”

“It’s not like you, Father John, to be making Thady quarrel with Captain Ussher. You know it’d come to a quarrel if Thady was to be spaking to Myles that way; and he would never think of doing so av you didn’t be putting him up to it.”

“And that’s little like you, Feemy, to be saying that to your priest; telling me I put the young men up to be quarrelling: it’s to save you many a heart-ache, and many a sting of sorrow and remorse; it’s to prevent all the evil of unlawful love — bad blood, and false looks — that I’ve come here on a most disagreeable and thankless errand; and now you tell me I’d be putting the young men up to fight!”

Feemy had, by this time, become sullen, but she didn’t dare go farther with her priest.

“I didn’t say you’d be making them fight, Father John. I only said, if you told Thady not to be meddling with Myles, why, in course, they wouldn’t be quarrelling.”

“And how could I tell a brother not to meddle with his sister’s honour, and reputation, and happiness? But now, Feemy, I’ll propose another plan to you. If you don’t think my advice on such a subject likely to be good — and very likely it isn’t, for you see I never had a lover of my own — what do you say to your speaking to your friend, Mrs. McKeon, about it? Or, if you like, I’ll speak to her; and then, perhaps, you won’t be against taking her advice on the subject. Supposing, now, she was to speak to Captain Ussher — from herself, you know, as your friend — do you think he’d love the girl that’s to be his wife worse for having a friend that was willing to stand in the place of a mother to her, when she’d none of her own?”

“Why, I do think it would look odd, Mrs. McKeon meddling with it.”

“Well, then, Feemy, what in the blessed name do you mean to do, if you won’t let any of your friends act for you? I think you must be very much afraid of this lover of yours, when you won’t allow any one speak to him about you. Are you afraid of him, Feemy?”

“Afraid of him? — no, of course I’m not afraid of him; but men don’t like to be bothered about such things.”

“That’s very true; men, when they’re false, and try to deceive young girls, and are playing their own wicked game with them, do not like to be bothered about such things. But I never heard of an honest man, who really wanted to marry a young woman, being bothered by getting her friends’ consent. And you think, then, things should go on just as they are?”

“Now, Father John, only you’ve been scolding me so much, I’d have told you before. I mane to spake to Myles myself to-night, just to arrange things; and then I won’t have Mrs. McKeon cocking over me that she made up the match.”

“There’s little danger of that kind, I fear, Feemy, nor would she be doing so; but if you are actually going to speak to Captain Ussher yourself to-night, I’ll say no more about it now; but I hope you’ll tell Thady tomorrow what passes.”

“Oh, Father John, I won’t promise that.”

“Will you tell me, then, or Mrs. McKeon?”

“Oh, perhaps I’ll be telling you, you know, when I come down to confession at Christmas; but indeed I shan’t be telling Mrs. McKeon anything about it, to go talking over the counthry.”

“Then, Feemy, I may as well tell you at once — if you will not trust to me, to your brother, or any friend who may be able to protect you from insult — nor prevail on your lover to come forward in a decent and respectable way, and avow his purpose — it will become your brother’s duty to tell him that his visits can no longer be allowed at Ballycloran.”

“Ballycloran doesn’t belong to Thady, and he can’t tell him not to come.”

“That’s not well said of you, Feemy; for you know your father is not capable of interfering in this business; but if, as under those circumstances he will do, Thady quietly and firmly desires Captain Ussher to stay away from Ballycloran, I think he’ll not venture to come here. If he does, there are those who will still interfere to prevent him.”

“And if among you all, that are so set up against him because he’s not one of your own set, you dhrive him out of Ballycloran, I can tell you, I’ll not remain in it!”

“Then your sins and your sorrows must be on your own head!”

And without saying anything further, Father John took his hat, and walked off. Feemy snatched her novel into her lap, to show how little what was said impressed her, and resumed her attitude over the fire. But she didn’t read; her spirit was stubborn and wouldn’t bend, but her reason and her conscience were touched by what the priest had said to her, and the bitter thought for the first time came over her, that her lover, perhaps, was not so true to her, as she to him. There she sat, sorrowfully musing; and though she did not repent of what she thought her own firmness, she was bitterly tormented by the doubts with which her brother, Mary Brady, and the priest, had gradually disturbed her happiness.

She loved Ussher as well as ever — yes, almost more than ever, as the idea that she might perhaps lose him came across her — but she began to be discontented with herself, and to think that she had not played her part as well as she might. In fact, she felt herself to be miserable, and, for the time, hated her brother and Father John for having made her so.

Father John walked sorrowfully back to his cottage, thinking Miss Feemy Macdermot the most stiff-necked young lady it had ever been his hard lot to meet.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01