The next day was Sunday; and after church I came over early to Knockcalltecrore, and had a long talk with Norah about her school project. We decided that the sooner she began the better—she because, as she at first alleged, every month of delay made school a less suitable place for her—I because, as I took care not only to allege but to reiterate, as the period had to be put in, the sooner it was begun the sooner it would end, and so the sooner would my happiness come.

Norah was very sweet, and shyly told me that if such was my decided opinion, she must say that she too had something of the same view.

“I do not want you to be pained, dear, by any delay,” she said, “made by your having been so good to me; and I love you too well to want myself to wait longer than is necessary,”—an admission that was an intoxicating pleasure to me.

We agreed that our engagement was, if not to be kept a secret, at least not to be spoken of unnecessarily. Her father was to tell her immediate relatives, so that there would not be any gossip at her absence, and I was to tell one or two of my own connexions—for I had no immediate relatives—and perhaps one or two friends who were rather more closely connected with me than those of my own blood. I asked to be allowed to tell also my solicitor, who was an old friend of my father’s, and who had always had more than merely professional relations with me. I had reasons of my own for telling him of the purposed change in my life, for I had important matters to execute through him, so as to protect Norah’s future in case my own death should occur before the marriage was to take place. But of this, of course, I did not tell her.

We had a happy morning together, and when Joyce came in we told him of the conclusion we had arrived at. He fully acquiesced; and then, when he and I were alone, I asked him if he would prefer to make the arrangements about the schools himself or by some solicitor he would name, or that should all be done by my solicitor? He told me that my London solicitor would probably know what to do better than anyone in his own part of the world; and we agreed that I was to arrange it with him.

Accordingly I settled with Norah that the next day but one I should leave for London, and that when I had put everything on a satisfactory footing I should return to Carnaclif, and so be for a little longer able to see my darling. Then I went back to the hotel to write my letters in time for post.

That afternoon I wrote to my solicitor, Mr. Chapman, and asked him to have inquiries made, without the least delay, as to what was the best school in Paris to which to send a young lady, almost grown up, but whose education had been neglected. I added that I should be myself in London within two days of my letter, and would hope to have the information.

That evening I had a long talk on affairs with Dick, and opened to him a project I had formed regarding Knockcalltecrore. This was that I should try to buy the whole of the mountain, right away from where the sandy peninsula united it to the mainland—for evidently it had ages ago been an isolated sea-girt rock-bound island. Dick knew that already we held a large part of it—Norah the Cliff Fields, Joyce the upper land on the sea side, and myself the part that I had already bought from Murdock. He quite fell in with the idea, and as we talked it over he grew more and more enthusiastic.

“Why, my dear fellow,” he said, as he stood up and walked about the room, “it will make the most lovely residence in the world, and will be a fine investment for you. Holding long leases, you will easily be able to buy the freehold, and then every penny spent will return many fold. Let us once be able to find the springs that feed the bog, and get them in hand, and we can make the place a paradise. The springs are evidently high up on the hill, so that we can not only get water for irrigating and ornamental purposes, but we can get power also! Why, you can have electric light, and everything else you like, at the smallest cost. And if it be, as I suspect, that there is a streak of limestone in the hill, the place might be a positive mine of wealth as well! We have not lime within fifty miles, and if once we can quarry the stone here we can do anything. We can build a harbour on the south side, which would be the loveliest place to keep a yacht in that ever was known—quite big enough for anything in these parts—as safe as Portsmouth, and of fathomless depth.

“Easy, old man!” I cried, for the idea made me excited too.

“But I assure you Art, I am within the truth!”

“I know it, Dick—and now I want to come to business!”

“Eh! how do you mean?” he said, looking puzzled.

Then I told him of the school project, and that I was going to London after another day to arrange it. He was delighted, and quite approved.

“It is the wisest thing I ever heard of!” was his comment. “But how do you mean about business?” he asked.

“Dick, this has all to be done; and it needs some one to do it. I am not a scientist nor an engineer, and this project wants the aid of both, or of one man who is the two. Will you do it for me—and for Norah?”

He seemed staggered for a moment, but said heartily:

“That I will—but it will take some time!”

“We can do it within two years,” I answered, “and that is the time that Norah will be away. It will help to pass it!” and I sighed.

“A long time, indeed, but oh, what a time, Art! Just fancy what you are waiting for; there need be no unhappy moment, please God, in all those months.”

Then I made him a proposition, to which he, saying that my offer was too good, at first demurred. I reasoned with him, and told him that the amount was little to me, as, thanks to my Great Aunt, I had more than I ever could use; and that I wanted to make Norah’s country home a paradise on earth—so far as love and work and the means at command could do it; that it would take up all Dick’s time, and keep him for the whole period from pursuing his studies; and that he would have to be manager as well as engineer, and would have to buy the land for me. I told him also my secret hope that in time he would take all my affairs in hand and manage everything for me.

“Buying the land will, I fancy, be easy enough,” he said. “Two of the farms are in the market now, and all round here land is literally going abegging. However, I shall take the matter in hand at once, and write you to London, in case there should be anything before you get back.” And thus we settled that night that I was, if possible, to buy the whole mountain. I wrote by the next post to Mr. Caicy, telling him that I had a project of purchase in hand, and that Mr. Sutherland would do everything for me during my absence, and that whatever he wished was to be done. I asked him to come over and see Dick before the week was out.

The next day I spoke to Joyce, and asked him if he would care to sell me the lease of the land he now held. He seemed rejoiced at the chance of being able to get away.

“I will go gladly, though, sure enough, I’ll be sad for a while to lave the shpot where I was born, and where I’ve lived all me life. But whin Norah is gone—an’ sure she’ll never be back, for I’m thinkin’ that after her school ye’ll want to get married at once—”

“That we shall!” I interrupted.

“An’ right enough too! But widout her the place will be that lonesome that I don’t think I could abear it! Me sister ’ll go over to Knocknacar to live wid me married sister there, that’ll be only too happy to have her with her; and I’ll go over to Glasgow where Eugene is at work. The boy wants me to come, and whin I wrote and tould him of Norah’s engagement, he wrote at once askin’ me to lave the Hill and come to him. He says that before the year is out he hopes to be able to keep himself—an’ me, too, if we should want it—an’ he wrote such a nice letter to Norah—but the girl will like to tell ye about that herself! I can’t sell ye the Cliff Fields meself, for they belong to Norah; but if ye like to ask her I’m sure she’ll make no objection.”

“I should be glad to have them,” I said, “but all shall be hers in two years!”

And then and there we arranged for the sale of the property. I made Joyce the offer; he accepted at once, but said it was more than it was worth.

“No,” said I, “I shall take the chance! I intend to make improvements.”

Norah did not make any objection to her father selling the Cliff Fields. She told me that as I wanted to have them, I might, of course; but she hoped I would never sell the spot, as it was very dear to her. I assured her that in this as in all other matters I would do as she wished, and we sealed the assurance with——. Never mind! we sealed it!

I spent the afternoon there, for it was to be my last afternoon with Norah until I came back from Paris. We went down for a while to the Cliff Fields and sat on the table rock and talked over all our plans. I told her I had a scheme regarding Knockcalltecrore, but that I did not wish to tell her about it as it was to be a surprise. It needed a pretty hard struggle to be able to keep her in the dark even to this extent—there is nothing more sweet to young lovers than to share a secret. She knew that my wishes were all for her, and was content.

When we got back to the cottage I said good-bye. This naturally took some time—a first good-bye always does!—and went home to get my traps packed ready for an early start in the morning—more especially as I wished, when in Galway, to give Mr. Caicy instructions as to transferring the two properties—Norah’s and her father’s.

When Dick came home, he and I had a long talk on affairs; and I saw that he thoroughly understood all about the purchase of the whole mountain. Then we said good-night, and I retired.

I did not sleep very well. I think I was too happy, and out of the completeness of my happiness there seemed to grow a fear—some dim haunting dread of a change—something which would reverse the existing order of things. And so in dreams the Drowsy God played at ball with me; now throwing me to a dizzy height of joy, and then, as I fell swiftly through darkness, arresting my flight into the nether gloom with some new sweet hope. It seemed to me that I was awake all the night—and yet I knew I must have slept for I had distinct recollections of dreams in which all the persons and circumstances lately present to my mind were strangely jumbled together. The jumble was kaleidoscopic; there was an endless succession of its phases, but the pieces all remained the same. There were moments when all seemed aglow with rosy light, and hard on them, others horrid with the gloom of despair or fear; but in all, the dominating idea was the mountain standing against the sunset, always as the embodiment of the ruling emotion of the scene—and always Norah’s beautiful eyes shone upon me. I seemed to live over again in isolated moments all the past weeks; but in such a way that the legends and myths and stories of Knockcalltecrore which I had heard were embodied in each moment. Thus, Murdock had always a part in the gloomy scenes, and got inextricably mixed up with the King of the Snakes. They freely exchanged personalities, and at one time I could see the Gombeen Man defying St. Patrick, whilst at another the Serpent seemed to be struggling with Joyce, and, after twisting round the mountain, being only beaten off by a mighty blow from Norah’s father, rushing to the sea through the Shleenanaher.

Towards morning, as I suppose the needs of the waking day became more present to my mind in the gradual process of awakening, the bent of my thoughts began to be more practical; the Saint and His Majesty of the Serpents began to disappear, and the two dim cuirassiers who, with the money chest, had through the earlier hours of the night been passing far athwart my dreams—appearing and disappearing equally mysteriously—took a more prominent, or, perhaps, a more real part. Then I seemed to see Murdock working in a grave, whose sides were ever crumbling in as he frantically sought the treasure chest, whilst the gun-carriage, rank with the slime of the bog, was high above him on the brink of the grave, projected blackly against the yellow moon. Every time this scene in its myriad variations came round, it changed to one where the sides of the grave began to tumble in, and Murdock in terror tried to scream out, but could make no sound, nor could he make any effort to approach Norah, whose strong hands were stretched out to aid him.

With such a preparation for waking is it any wonder that I suddenly started broad awake with a strong sense of something forgotten, and found that it was four o’clock, and time to get ready for my journey. I did not lose any time, and after a hot cup of tea, which the cheery Mrs. Keating had herself prepared for me, was on my way under Andy’s care to Recess, where we were to meet the “long car” to Galway.

Andy was, for a wonder, silent, and as I myself felt in a most active frame of mind, this rather gave me an opportunity for some amusement. I waited for a while to see if he would suggest any topic in his usual style; but as there was no sign of a change, I began:—

“You are very silent to-day, Andy. You are sad! What is it?”

“I’m thinkin’!”

“So I thought, Andy. But who are you thinking of?”

“Faix, I’m thinkin’ iv poor Miss Norah there wid ne’er a bhoy on the flure at all, at all; an’ iv the fairy girrul at Knocknacar—the poor craythur waitin’ for some kind iv a leprachaun to come back to her. They do say, yer ’an’r, that the fairies is mighty fond iv thim leprachauns intirely. Musha! but it’s a quare thing that weemen of all natures thinks a power more iv minkind what is hard to be caught nor iv thim that follys thim an’ is had aisy!”

“Indeed! Andy.” I felt he was getting on dangerous ground, and thought it would be as well to keep him to generalities if I could.

“Shure they do tell me so; that the girruls, whether fairies or weemen, is more fond iv lukin’ out fur leprachauns, or min if that’s their kind, than the clargy is iv killin’ the divil—an’ they’ve bin at him fur thousands iv years, an’ him not turned a hair.”

“Well! Andy, isn’t it only natural, too? If we look at the girls and make love to them, why shouldn’t they have a turn too, poor things, and make love to us? Now you would like to have a wife, I know; only that you’re too much afraid of any woman.”

“Thrue for ye! But shure an’ how could I go dhrivin’ about the counthry av I had a wife iv me own in wan place? It’s meself that’s welkim everywhere, jist because any wan iv the weemen might fear I’d turn the laugh on her whin I got her home; but a car-dhriver can no more shpake soft to only wan girrul nor he can dhrive his car in his own shanty.”

“Well! but Andy, what would you do if you were to get married?”

“Faix, surr, an’ the woman must settle that whin she comes. But, begor! it’s not for a poor man like me—nor for the likes iv me—that the fairies does be keepin’ their eyes out. I tell yer ’an’r that poor min isn’t iv much account anyhow! Shure poverty is the worst iv crimes; an’ there’s no hidin’ it like th’ others. Patches is saw a mighty far way off; and shure enough they’re more frightfuller nor even the polis!”

“By George! Andy,” said I, “I’m afraid you’re a cynic.”

“A cynic, sir; an’, faix, what sin am I up to now?”

“You say poverty is a crime.”

“Begor! but it’s worse! Most crimes is forgave afther a bit; an’ the law is done wid ye whin ye’re atin’ yer skilly. But there’s some people—aye! an’ lashins iv thim too—what’d rather see ye in a good shute iv coffin than in a bad shute iv clothes!”

“Why, Andy, you’re quite a philosopher!”

“Bedad, that’s quare; but whisper me now, surr, what kind iv a thing’s that?”

“Well! it’s a very wise man—one who loves wisdom.”

“Begor! yer ’an’r, lovin’ girruls is more in my shtyle; but I thought maybe it was some new kind iv a Protestan’.”

“Why a Protestant?”

“Sorra wan iv me knows! I thought maybe they can believe even less nor the ould wans.”

Andy’s method of theological argument was quite too difficult for me, so I was silent; but my companion was not. He, however, evidently felt that theological disquisition was no more his forte than my own, for he instantly changed to another topic:—

“I’ll be goin’ back to Knockcalltecrore to-morra, yer ’an’r. I’ve been tould to call fur Mr. Caicy, th’ attorney—savin’ yer prisence—to take him back to Carnaclif. Is there any missage ye’d like to send to any wan?” He looked at me so slyly that his meaning was quite obvious.

“Thanks, Andy, but I think not; unless you tell Mr. Dick that we have had a pleasant journey this morning.”

“Nothin’ but that?—to nobody?”

“Who to, for instance, Andy?”

“There’s Miss Norah, now! Shure girruls is always fond iv gettin’ missages, an’ most iv all from people what they’re not fond iv!”

“Meaning me?”

“Oh, yis! oh, yis! if there’s wan more nor another what she hates the sight iv, it’s yer ’an’r! Shure didn’t I notice it in her eye ere yistherday night, beyant at the boreen gate? Faix! but it’s a nice eye Miss Norah has! Now, yer ’an’r, wouldn’t an eye like that be betther for a young gintleman to luk into, than the quare eye iv yer fairy girrul—the wan that ye wor lukin’ for, an’ didn’t find!”

The sly way in which Andy looked at me as he said this was quite indescribable. I have seen sly humour in the looks of children where the transparent simplicity of their purpose was a foil to their manifest intention to pretend to deceive. I have seen the arch glances of pretty young women when their eyes contradicted with resistless force the apparent meaning of their words; but I have never seen any slyness which could rival that of Andy. However, when he had spoken as above, he seemed to have spent the last bolt in his armoury; and for the remainder of the drive to Recess he did not touch again on the topic, or on a kindred one.

When I was in the hotel porch waiting the arrival of the long car, Andy came up to me:—

“What day will I be in Galway for yer ’an’r?”

“How do you mean, Andy? I didn’t tell you I was coming back.”

Andy laughed a merry, ringing laugh:—

“Begor! yer ’an’r, d’ye think there’s only wan way iv tellin’ things? Musha! but spache ’d be a mighty precious kind iv a thing if that was the way!”

“But, Andy, is not speech the way to make known what you wish other people to know?”

“Ah, go to God! I’d like to know if ye take it for granted whin ye ask a girrul a question an’ she says ‘no,’ that she manes it—or that she intends ayther that ye should think she manes it. Faix! it ’d be a harrd wurrld to live in, if that was so; an’ there ’d be mighty few widdys in it ayther!”

“Why widows, Andy?”

“Shure, isn’t wives the shtuff that widdys is made iv!”

“Oh! I see. I’m learning, Andy—I’m getting on!”

“Yis! yer ’an’r. Ye haven’t got on the long cap now; but I’m afeerd it’s only a leather medal ye’d get as yit. Niver mind! surr. Here’s the long car comin’; an’ whin ye tellygraph to Misther Dick to sind me over to Galway fur to bring ye back, I’ll luk up Miss Norah an’ ax her to condescind to give ye some lessons in the differ betwixt ‘yes’ an’ ‘no’ as shpoke by girruls. I’m tould now, it’s a mighty intherestin’ kind iv a shtudy for a young gintleman!”

There was no answering this Parthian shaft.

“Good-bye! Andy,” I said, as I left a sovereign in his hand.

“Good luck! yer ’an’r; though what’s the use iv wishin’ luck to a man, whin the fairies is wid him!”

The last thing I saw was Andy waving his ragged hat as we passed the curve of the road round the lake before Recess was hidden from our view.

When I got to Galway I found Mr. Caicy waiting for me. He was most hearty in his welcome; and told me that as there was nearly an hour to wait before the starting of the Dublin express, he had luncheon on the table, and that we could discuss our business over it. We accordingly adjourned to his house, and after explaining to him what I wanted done with regard to the purchase of the property at Knockcalltecrore, I told him that Dick knew all the details, and would talk them over with him when he saw him on the next evening.

I began my eastward journey with my inner man in a most comfortable condition. Indeed, I concluded that there was no preparation for a journey like a bottle of ‘Sneyd’s 47’ between two. I got to Dublin in time for the night mail, and on the following morning walked into Mr. Chapman’s office at half-past ten o’clock.

He had all the necessary information for me; indeed, his zeal and his kindness were such that then and there I opened my heart to him, and was right glad that I had done so when I felt the hearty grasp of his hand as he wished me joy and all good fortune. He was, of course, on the side of prudence. He was my own lawyer and my father’s friend; and it was right and fitting that he should be. But it was quite evident that in the background of his musty life there was some old romance—musty old attorneys always have romances—so at least say the books. He entered heartily into my plan; and suggested that, if I chose, he would come with me to see the school and the schoolmistress in Paris.

“It will be better, I am sure,” he said, “to have an old man like myself with you, and who can in our negotiations speak for her father. Indeed, my dear boy, from being so old a friend of your father’s, and having no children of my own, I have almost come to look on you as my son, so it will not be much of an effort to regard Miss Norah as my daughter. The schoolmistress will, in the long run, be better satisfied with my standing in loco parentis than with yours.” It was a great relief to me to find my way thus smoothed, for I had half expected some objection or remonstrance on his part. His kind offer was, of course, accepted; and the next morning found us in Paris.

We went to see the school and the schoolmistress. All was arranged as we wished. Mr. Chapman did not forget that Norah wished to have all the extra branches of study, or that I wished to add all that could give a charm to her life. The schoolmistress opened her eyes at the total of Norah’s requirements, which Mr. Chapman summed up as “all extras”—the same including the use of a saddle-horse, and visits to the opera and such performances as should be approved of, under the special care and with the special accompaniment of Madame herself.

I could see that for the coming year Norah’s lines would lie in pleasant places in so far as Madame Lepecheaux could accomplish it. The date of her coming was to be fixed by letter, and as soon as possible.

Mr. Chapman had suggested that it might be well to arrange with Madame Lepecheaux that Norah should be able to get what clothes she might require, and such matters as are wanted by young ladies of the position which she was entering. The genial French woman quite entered into the idea, but insisted that the representative of Norah’s father should come with her to the various magasins and himself make arrangements. He could not refuse; and as I was not forbidden by the unsuspecting lady, I came too.

These matters took up some time, and it was not until the fifth day after I had left Connemara that we were able to start on our return journey. We left at night, and after our arrival in the early morning went, as soon as we had breakfasted, to Mr. Chapman’s office to get our letters.

I found two. The first I took to the window to read, where I was hidden behind a curtain, and where I might kiss it without being seen; for, although the writing was strange to me—for I had never seen her handwriting—I knew that it was from Norah.

Do any of us who arrive at middle life ever attempt to remember our feelings on receiving the first letter from the woman or the man of our love? Can there come across the long expanse of commonplace life, strewn as it is with lost beliefs and shattered hopes, any echo—any after-glow—of that time, any dim recollection of the thrill of pride and joy that flashed through us at such a moment? Can we rouse ourselves from the creeping lethargy of the contented acceptance of things, and feel the generous life-blood flowing through us once again?

I held Norah’s letter in my hand, and it seemed as though with but one more step, I should hold my darling herself in my arms. I opened her letter most carefully; anything that her hands had touched was sacred to me. And then her message—the message of her heart to mine—sent direct and without intermediary, reached me:—

“My dear Arthur,—

“I hope you had a good journey, and that you enjoyed your trip to Paris. Father and I are both well; and we have had excellent news of Eugene, who has been promoted to more important work. We have seen Mr. Sutherland every day. He says that everything is going just as you wish it. Mr. Murdock has taken old Bat Moynahan to live with him since you went; they are always together, and Moynahan seems to be always drunk. Father thinks that Mr. Murdock has some purpose on foot, and that it cannot be a good one. We shall all be glad to see you soon again. I am afraid this letter must seem very odd to you; but you know I am not accustomed to writing letters. You must believe one thing—that whatever I say to you, I feel and believe with all my heart. I got your letters, and I cannot tell you what pleasure they gave me, or how I treasure them. Father sends his love and duty. What could I send that words could carry? I may not try yet. Perhaps I shall be more able to do what I wish, when I know more.


The letter disappointed me! Was any young man ever yet satisfied with written words, when his medium had hitherto been rosy lips, with the added commentary of loving eyes? And yet when I look back on that letter from a peasant girl, without high education or knowledge of the world, and who had possibly never written a letter before except to her father or brother, or a girl friend, and but few even of these—when I read in every word its simplicity and truth, and recognise the arrière pensée of that simple phrase, “whatever I say to you I feel and think with all my heart,” I find it hard to think that any other letter that she or anyone else could have written, could have been more suitable, or could have meant more.

When I had read Norah’s letter over a few times, and feared that Mr. Chapman would take humorous notice of my absorption, I turned to the other letter, which I knew was from Dick. I brought this from the window to the table, beside which I sat to read it, Mr. Chapman being still deep in his own neglected correspondence.

I need not give his letter in detail. It was long and exhaustive, and told me accurately of every step taken and everything accomplished since I had seen him. Mr. Caicy had made his appearance, as arranged, and the two had talked over and settled affairs. Mr. Caicy had lost no time, and fortune had so favoured him that he found that nearly all the tenants on the east side of the hill wished to emigrate, and so were anxious to realize on their holdings. The estate from which they held was in bankruptcy; and as a sale was then being effected, Mr. Caicy had purchased the estate, and then made arrangements for all who wished to purchase to do so on easy terms from me. The nett result was, that when certain formalities should be complied with, and certain moneys paid, I should own the whole of Knockcalltecrore and the land immediately adjoining it, together with certain other parcels of land in the neighbourhood. There were other matters of interest also in his letter. He told me that Murdock, in order to spite and injure Joyce, had completed the damming up of the stream which ran from his land into the Cliff Fields by blocking with great stones the narrow chine in the rocks through which it fell; that this, coupled with the continuous rains had made the bog rise enormously, and that he feared much there would be some disaster. His fear was increased by what had taken place at Knocknacar. Even here the cuttings had shown some direful effects of the rain; the openings, made with so much trouble, had become choked, and as a consequence the bog had risen again, and had even spread downwards on its original course. Alarmed by these things, Dick had again warned Murdock of the danger in which he stood from the position of his house; and further, from tampering with the solid bounds of the bog itself. Murdock had not taken his warnings in good part—not any better than usual—and the interview had, as usual, ended in a row. Murdock had made the quarrel the occasion of ventilating his grievance against me for buying the whole mountain, for by this time it had leaked out that I was the purchaser. His language, Dick said, was awful. He cursed me and all belonging to me. He cursed Joyce and Norah, and Dick himself, and swore to be revenged on us all, and told Dick that he would balk me of finding the treasure—even if I were to buy up all Ireland, and if he had to peril his soul to forestall me. Dick ended his description of his proceedings characteristically:—“In fact, he grew so violent, and said such insulting things of you and others, that I had to give him a good sound thrashing.”

“Others”—that meant Norah, of course—good old Dick! It was just as well for Mr. Murdock’s physical comfort, and for the peace of the neighbourhood, that I did not meet him then and there; for, under these favouring conditions, there would have been a continuance of his experiences under the hands of Dick Sutherland.

Then Dick went on to tell me at greater length what Norah had conveyed in her letter—that, since I had left, Murdock had taken Bat Moynahan to live with him, and kept him continually drunk; that the two of them were evidently trying to locate the whereabouts of the treasure; and that, whenever they thought they were not watched, they trespassed on Joyce’s land, to get near a certain part of the bog.

“I mean to watch them the first dark night,” wrote Dick, at the close of his letter; “for I cannot help thinking that there is some devilment on foot. I don’t suppose you care much for the treasure—you’ve got a bigger treasure from Knockcalltecrore than ever was hidden in it by men—but, all the same, it is yours after Murdock’s time is up; and, as the guardian of your interest, I feel that I have a right to do whatever may be necessary to protect you. I have seen, at times, Murdock give such a look at Moynahan out of the corners of his eyes—when he thought no one was looking—that, upon my soul, I am afraid he means—if he gets the chance—to murder the old man, after he has pumped him of all he knows. I don’t want to accuse a man of such an intention, without being able to prove it, and of course have said nothing to a soul; but I shall be really more comfortable in my mind when the man has gone away.”

By the time I had finished the letter, Mr. Chapman had run through his correspondence—vacation business was not much in his way—and we discussed affairs.

The settlement of matters connected with my estate, and the purchase of Knockcalltecrore, together with the making of certain purchases—including a ring for Norah—kept me a few days in London; but at length all was complete, and I started on my trip to the West of Ireland. Before leaving, I wrote to Norah that I would be at Knockcalltecrore on the morning of the 20th October; and also to Dick, asking him to see that Andy was sent to meet me at Galway on the morning of the 19th—for I preferred rather to have the drive in solitude, than to be subjected to the interruptions of chance fellow-passengers.

At Dublin Mr. Caicy met me, as agreed; and together we went to various courts, chambers, offices, and banks—completing the purchase with all the endless official formalities and eccentricities habitual to a country whose administration has traditionally adopted and adapted every possible development of all belonging to red-tape.

At last, however, all was completed; and very early the next morning Mr. Caicy took his seat in the Galway express, in a carriage with the owner of Knockcalltecrore, to whom he had been formally appointed Irish law agent.

The journey was not a long one, and it was only twelve o’clock when we steamed into Galway. As we drew up at the platform, I saw Dick, who had come over to meet me. He was, I thought, looking a little pale and anxious; but as he did not say anything containing the slightest hint of any cause for such a thing, I concluded that he wished to wait until we were alone. This, however, was not to be for a little while; for Mr. Caicy had telegraphed to order lunch at his house, and thither we had to repair. We walked over; although Andy, who was in waiting outside the station, grinning from ear to ear, offered to “rowl our ’an’rs over in half a jiffey.”

Lunch over, and our bodies the richer for some of Mr. Caicy’s excellent port, we prepared to start. Dick took occasion to whisper to me:—

“Some time on the road propose to walk for a bit, and send on the car. I want a talk with you alone, without making a mystery!”

“All right, Dick. Is it a serious matter?”

“Very serious!”

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