“It’s just timpting Providence his reverence is, and it’ll be glory to God if you’ll tell him so.”
“What’s that you’re saying about his reverence, Mrs. Cassidy?” cried Father Dan from the upper landing.
“I’m saying you’re destroying yourself with your fasting and praying and your midnight calls at mountain cabins, and never a ha’porth of anything in your stomach to do it on.”
“Whisht then, Mrs. Cassidy, it’s tay-time, isn’t it? So just step back to your kitchen and put on your kittle, and bring up two of your best china cups and saucers, and a nice piece of buttered toast, not forgetting a thimbleful of something neat, and then it’s the mighty proud woman ye’ll be entoirely to be waiting for once on the first lady in the island. . . . Come in, my daughter, come in.”
He was laughing as he let loose his Irish tongue, but I could see that his housekeeper had not been wrong and that he looked worn and troubled.
As soon as he had taken me into his cosy study and put me to sit in the big chair before the peat and wood fire, I would have begun on my errand, but not a word would he hear until the tea had come up and I had taken a cup of it.
Then stirring the peats for light as well as warmth, (for the room was dark with its lining of books, and the evening was closing in) he said:
“Now what is it? Something serious—I can see that much.”
“It is serious, Father Dan.”
“Tell me then,” he said, and as well as I could I told him my story.
I told him that since I had seen him last, during that violent scene at Castle Raa, my relations with my husband had become still more painful; I told him that, seeing I could not endure any longer the degradation of the life I was living, I had thought about divorce; I told him that going first to the Bishop and afterwards to my father’s advocate I had learned that neither the Church nor the law, for their different reasons, could grant me the relief I required; and finally, in a faint voice (almost afraid to hear myself speak it), I told him my solemn and sacred secret—that whatever happened I could not continue to live where I was now living because I loved somebody else than my husband.
While I was speaking Father Dan was shuffling his feet and plucking at his shabby cassock, and as soon as I had finished he flashed out on me with an anger I had never seen in his face or heard in his voice before.
“I know who it is,” he said. “It’s Martin Conrad.”
I was so startled by this that I was beginning to ask how he knew, when he cried:
“Never mind how I know. Perhaps you think an old priest has no eyes for anything but his breviary, eh? It’s young Martin, isn’t it?”
“The wretch, the rascal, the scoundrel! If he ever dares to come to this house again, I’ll slam the door in his face.”
I knew he loved Martin almost as much as I did, so I paid no heed to the names he was calling him, but I tried to say that I alone had been to blame, and that Martin had done nothing.