’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.’