to Erin, mavourneen, mavourneen,
Come back, aroon, to the land of your birth.”
In another moment every voice in the crowd seemed to take up the refrain.
That brought Martin on to the captain’s bridge, where he stood bareheaded, struggling to smile.
By this time the last of the ship’s bells had rung, the funnels were belching, and the captain’s voice was calling on the piermen to clear away.
At last the hawsers were thrown off and the steamer started, but, with Martin still standing bareheaded on the bridge, the people rushed to the end of the pier to see the last of him.
There they sang again, louder than ever, the girls’ clear voices above all the rest, as the ship sailed out into the dark sea.
"Come back to Erin,
Come back, aroon, to the land of your birth."
As well as I could, for the mist in my eyes was blinding me, I watched the steamer until she slid behind the headland of the bay, round, the revolving light that stands on the point of it—stretching my neck through the window of the car, while the fresh wind from the sea smote my hot face and the salt air licked my parched lips. And then I fell back in my seat and cried for sheer joy of the love that was shown to Martin.
The crowd was returning down the pier by this time, like a black river running in the darkness and rumbling over rugged stones, and I heard their voices as they passed the car.
One voice—a female voice—said:
“Well, what do you think of our Martin Conrad?”
And then another voice—a male voice—answered:
“By God he’s a Man!”
Within a few minutes the pier was deserted, and the chauffeur was saying:
“Home, my lady?”
“Home,” I answered.
Seeing Martin off had been too much like watching the lifeboat on a dark and stormy night, when the lights dip behind a monstrous wave and for some breathless moments you fear they will never rise.
But as we drove up the head I caught the lights of the steamer again now far out at sea, and well I knew that as surely as my Martin was there he was thinking of me and looking back towards the house in which he had left me behind him.
When we reached the Castle I found to my surprise that every window was ablaze.
The thrum of the automobile brought Price into the hall. She told me that the yachting party had come back, and were now in their bedrooms dressing for dinner.
As I went upstairs to my own apartments I heard trills of laughter from behind several of the closed doors, mingled with the muffled humming of various music-hall ditties.
And then suddenly a new spirit seemed to take possession of me, and I knew that I had become another woman.