“O! and welcome, Mister Jerry O’Toole; if you think I’m the woman to hide a proctor, look everywhere just as you please.”
The party, headed by Jerry O’Toole, who had taken the light out of Mrs M’Shane’s hand, now ascended the ladder to the upper storey, and as I lay by Kathleen, I felt that she trembled with fear. After examining every nook and cranny they could think of, they came to Mrs M’Shane’s room, “O! go in—go in and look, Mr O’Toole; it’s a very likely thing to insinuate that I should have a tithe proctor in my bed. Search, pray,” and Mrs M’Shane led the way into her own room.
Every part had been examined, except the small sleeping-room of Kathleen; and the party paused before the door. “We must search,” observed O’Toole doggedly.
“Search my daughter’s! very well, search if you please; it’s a fine story you’ll have to tell, how six great men pulled a poor girl out of her bed to look for a tithe proctor. It will be a credit to you anyhow; and you, Corny O’Toole, you’ll stand well in her good graces, when you come to talk about the wedding day; and your wife that is to be, pulled out of her bed by a dozen men. What will ye say to Kathleen, when you affront her by supposing that a maiden girl has a tithe proctor in bed with her? D’ye think that ye’ll ever have the mother’s consent or blessing?”
“No one goes into Kathleen’s room,” cried Corny O’Toole, roused by the sarcasms of Mrs M’Shane.
“Yes, Corny,” replied Mrs M’Shane, “it’s not for a woman like me to be suspected, at all events; so you, and you only, shall go into the room, if that will content ye, Mr Jerry O’Toole.”
“Yes!” replied the party, and Mrs M’Shane opened the door.
Kathleen rose up on her elbow, holding the bed clothes up to her throat, and looking at them, as they entered, said, “O Corny! Corny! this to me?”
Corny never thought of looking for anybody, his eyes were rivetted upon his sweetheart. “Murder, Kathleen, is it my fault? Jerry will have it.”
“Are you satisfied, Corny?” said Mrs M’Shane.
“Sure enough I was satisfied before I came in, that Kathleen would not have any one in her bedroom,” replied Corny.
“Then good-night, Corny, and it’s to-morrow that I’ll talk with ye,” replied Kathleen.
Mrs M’Shane then walked out of the room, expecting Corny to follow; but he could not restrain himself, and he came to the bedside. Fearful that if he put his arms round her, he would feel me, Kathleen raised herself, and allowed him to embrace her. Fortunately the light was not in the room, or I should have been discovered, as in so doing she threw the clothes off my head and shoulders. She then pushed back Corny from her, and he left the room, shutting the door after him. The party descended the ladder, and as soon as Kathleen perceived that they were all down, she sprang out of bed and ran into her mother’s room. Soon after I heard them depart. Mrs