She turned over the page, and there was the address he had mentioned—a Mr. Cathcart. Surely he did not expect her to write to this stranger....
She walked up and down with her spud for another half-hour before she could come to any conclusion. Certainly she agreed with Mr. James Morton that the whole thing was nonsense; yet, further, that this nonsense was capable of doing a good deal of harm to an excitable person. Besides, Laurie obviously had a bad conscience about it, or he would have mentioned it.
She caught sight of Mrs. Baxter presently through the thick hedge, walking with her dainty, dignified step along the paths of the kitchen garden; and a certain impatience seized her at the sight. This boy’s mother was so annoyingly serene. Surely it was her business, rather than Maggie’s own, to look after Laurie; yet the girl knew perfectly well that if Laurie was left to his mother nothing at all would be done. Mrs. Baxter would deplore it all, of course, gently and tranquilly, in Laurie’s absence, and would, perhaps, if she were hard pressed, utter a feeble protest even in his presence; and that was absolutely all....
“Maggie! Maggie!” came the gentle old voice, calling presently; and then to some unseen person, “Have you seen Miss Deronnais anywhere?”
Maggie put the letter in her pocket and hurried through from the orchard.
“Yes?” she said, with a half hope.
“Come in, my dear, and tell me what you think of those new teacups in the Bon Marche catalogue,” said the old lady. “There seem some beautiful new designs, and we want another set.”
Maggie bowed to the inevitable. But as they passed up the garden her resolution was precipitated.
“Can you let me go by twelve,” she said. “I rather want to see Father Mahon about something.”
“My dear, I shall not keep you three minutes,” protested the old lady.
And they went in to talk for an hour and three-quarters.
Father Mahon was a conscientious priest. He said his mass at eight o’clock; he breakfasted at nine; he performed certain devotions till half-past ten; read the paper till eleven, and theology till twelve. Then he considered himself at liberty to do what he liked till his dinner at one. (The rest of his day does not concern us just now.)
He, too, was looking round his garden this morning—a fine, solid figure of a man, in rather baggy trousers, short coat, and expansive waistcoat, with every button doing its duty. He too, like Mr. James Morton, had his beat, an even narrower one than the barrister’s, and even better trodden, for he never strayed off it at all, except for four short weeks in the summer, when he hurried across to Ireland and got up late, and went on picnics with other ecclesiastics in straw hats, and joined in cheerful songs in the evening. He was a priest, with perfectly defined duties, and