“Then what . . . what are we to do?” I asked him.
“Do? Our duty to ourselves, my darling, that’s what we have to do. If we cannot be married according to the law of the Church, we must be married according to the law of the land. Isn’t that enough? This is our own affair, dearest, ours and nobody else’s. It’s only a witness we want anyway—a witness before God and man that we intend to be man and wife in future.”
“But Father Dan?”
“Leave him to me,” said Martin. “I’ll tell him everything. But come into the house now. You are catching a cold. Unless we take care they’ll kill you before they’ve done.”
Next day he leaned over the back of my chair as I sat in the chiollagh with baby in my lap, and said, in a low tone:
“I’ve seen Father Dan.”
“The old angel took it badly. ’God forbid that you should do that same, my boy,’ he said, ’putting both yourself and that sweet child of mine out of the Church for ever.’ ‘It’s the Church that’s putting us out,’ I told him. ‘But God’s holy law condemns it, my son,’ he said. ’God’s law is love; and He has no other law,’ I answered.”
I was relieved and yet nervous, glad and yet afraid.
A week passed, and then the time came for Martin to go to Windsor for his investiture. There had been great excitement in Sunny Lodge in preparation for this event, but being a little unwell I had been out of the range of it.
At the moment of Martin’s departure I was in bed, and he had come upstairs to say good-bye to me.
What had been happening in the meantime I hardly knew, but I had gathered that he thought pressure would be brought to bear on me.
“Our good old Church is like a limpet on the shore,” he said. “Once it gets its suckers down it doesn’t let go in a hurry. But sit tight, little woman. Don’t yield an inch while I’m away,” he whispered.
When he left me I reached up to see him going down the road to the railway station. His old father was walking proudly by his side, bare-headed as usual and still as blithe as a boy.
Next day I was startled by an unexpected telegram. It came from a convent in Lancashire and was addressed to “Mary O’Neill, care of Doctor Conrad.” It ran:
“Am making a round of visits to the houses of our Society and would like to see you on my way to Ireland. May I cross to-morrow? Mother Magdalene.”
She arrived the following afternoon—my dear Reverend Mother with the pale spiritual face and saint-like eyes.
Except that her habit was now blue and white instead of black, she seemed hardly changed in any respect since our days at the Sacred Heart.
Finding that I was in bed, she put up at the “Plough” and came every day to nurse me.
I was naturally agitated at seeing her again after so many years and such various experiences, being uncertain how much she knew of them.