Martin came. In due course I read in the insular newspapers of his arrival on the island—how the people had turned out in crowds to cheer him at the pier, and how, on reaching our own village the neighbours (I knew the names of all of them) had met him at the railway station and taken him to his mother’s house, and then lighted fires on the mountains for his welcome home.
It cut me to the heart’s core to think of Martin amid thrilling scenes like those while I was here among degrading scenes like these. My love for Martin was now like a wound and I resolved that, come what might, before he reached Castle Raa I should liberate myself from the thraldom of my false position.
Father Dan’s counsels had faded away by this time. Though I had prayed for strength to bear my burden there had been no result, and one morning, standing before the figure of the Virgin in my bedroom, I felt an impulse to blow out her lamp and never to light it again.
The end of it all was that I determined to see the Bishop and my father’s advocate, Mr. Curphy, and perhaps my father himself, that I might know one way or the other where I was, and what was to become of me. But how to do this I could not see, having a houseful of people who were nominally my guests.
Fortune—ill-fortune—favoured me. News came that my father had suddenly fallen ill of some ailment that puzzled the doctors, and making this my reason and excuse I spoke to my husband, asking if I might go home for two or three days.
“Why not?” he said, in the tone of one who meant, “Who’s keeping you?”
Then in my weakness I spoke to Alma, who answered:
“Certainly, my sweet girl. We shall miss you dreadfully, but it’s your duty. And then you’ll see that dear Mr. . . . What d’ye callum?”
Finally, feeling myself a poor, pitiful hypocrite, I apologised for my going away to the guests also, and they looked as if they might say: “We’ll survive it, perhaps.”
The night before my departure my maid said:
“Perhaps your ladyship has forgotten that my time’s up, but I’ll stay until you return if you want me to.”
I asked her if she would like to stay with me altogether and she said:
“Indeed I should, my lady. Any woman would like to stay with a good mistress, if she is a little quick sometimes. And if you don’t want me to go to your father’s I may be of some use to you here before you come back again.”
I saw that her mind was still running on divorce, but I did not reprove her now, for mine was turning in the same direction.
Next morning most of the guests came to the hail door to see me off, and they gave me a shower of indulgent smiles as the motor-car moved away.
Before going to my father’s house I went to the Bishop’s. Bishop’s Court is at the other side of the island, and it was noon before I drove under its tall elm trees, in which a vast concourse of crows seemed to be holding a sort of general congress.