“But I cannot, I cannot,” I said. “I love him, and I cannot give him up!”
“Let us ask God to help you,” said Father Dan, and still holding my hand he drew me down to my knees and knelt beside me. The room was dark by this time, and only the sullen glow from the peat fire was on our faces.
Then in a low voice, so low that it was like his throbbing whisper before the altar, when he raised the Sacred host, Father Dan prayed for me (calling me his dear child whom God had committed to his care) that I might keep my marriage vow and be saved from the temptation to break it.
His beautiful prayer or his throbbing voice, or both together, had a great effect upon me, and when I rose to my feet, I felt stronger. Although Martin was as dear to me as ever, I thought I saw my way at last. If he loved me as I loved him, I had to be brave for both of us. I had to oppose to the carnal instinct of love the spiritual impulse of renunciation. Yes, yes, that was what I had to do.
Father Dan saw me to the door.
“Give my love to my boy,” he said, “and don’t forget what I told you to tell him.”
“I’ll tell him,” I replied, for though I knew my heart was bleeding I felt calm and more courageous.
It was milking time and the cows were lowing in the byre when I crossed the fields and the farm-yard on my way back to my father’s house.
Early next morning I left it for Castle Raa.
Although it was mid-day before I reached the Castle, the gate to the park had not been opened, the drive was deserted and even the great door to the house itself was closed.
And when, in answer to my ringing, one of the maids came after a certain delay, wearing neither apron nor cap, I found the hall empty and no sign of life in the house, except a shrill chorus of laughter which came from the servants’ quarters.
“What’s the meaning of this?” I asked, but before the girl could reply, Price who had come down to take my wraps said:
“I’ll tell your ladyship presently.”
As we were going upstairs she told me that the entire house-party had that morning gone off on a cruise in Mr. Eastcliff’s yacht, that they would be away several days, and that Madame had left a letter for me which was supposed to explain everything.
I found it on the mantelpiece in my boudoir under an open telegram which had been stuck into the edge of the bevelled glass. The telegram, which was addressed to me, was from Martin.
"Expect to arrive
to-morrow evening. Staying until Wednesday
afternoon. If not convenient wire Principal’s House, King George’s
“That means to-day,” said Price. “The telegram came yesterday. Madame opened it and she told me to say—”
“Let me read her letter first,” I said.