So I resolved to write. But writing isn’t exactly my job, and it took me a fortnight to get anything done to my satisfaction. By that time we were at Port Said, and from there I posted three letters,—the first to Daniel O’Neill, the second to Bishop Walsh, the third to Father Dan.
Would they reach in time? If so, would they be read and considered or resented and destroyed?
I did not know. I could not guess. And then I was going down into the deep Antarctic night, where no sound from the living world could reach me.
What would happen before I could get back? Only God could say.
Notwithstanding my father’s anxiety to leave Rome we travelled slowly and it was a week before we reached Ellan. By that time my depression had disappeared, and I was quivering with mingled curiosity and fear at the thought of meeting the man who was to be my husband.
My father, for reasons of his own, was equally excited, and as we sailed into the bay at Blackwater he pointed out the developments which had been made under his direction—the hotels, theatres, dancing palaces and boarding houses that lined the sea-front, and the electric railways that ran up to the tops of the mountains.
“See that?” he cried. “I told them I could make this old island hum.”
On a great stone pier that stood deep into the bay, a crowd of people were waiting for the arrival of the steamer.
“That’s nothing,” said my father. “Nothing to what you see at the height of the season.”
As soon as we had drawn up alongside the pier, and before the passengers had landed, four gentlemen came aboard, and my heart thumped with the thought that my intended husband would be one of them; but he was not, and the first words spoken to my father were—
“His lordship’s apologies, sir. He has an engagement to-day, but hopes to see you at your own house to-morrow morning.”
I recognised the speaker as the guardian (grown greyer and even less prepossessing) who had crossed with the young Lord Raa when he was going up to Oxford; and his companions were a smooth-faced man with searching eyes who was introduced as his lordship’s solicitor from London, a Mr. Curphy, whom I knew to be my father’s advocate, and my dear old Father Dan.
I was surprised to find Father Dan a smaller man than I had thought him, very plain and provincial, a little country parish priest, but he had the tender smile I always remembered, and the sweet Irish roll of the vowels that I could never forget.
“God bless you,” he said. “How well you’re looking! And how like your mother, Lord rest her soul! I knew the Blessed Virgin would take care of you, and she has, she has.”
Three conveyances were waiting for us—a grand brougham for the Bishop, a big motor-car for the guardian and the London lawyer, and a still bigger one for ourselves.