They walked back to the house together, and as they went down the path very little was said. Just as they were about to come out upon the open lawn, while they were still under cover of the rocks and shrubs, Phineas stopped his companion by standing before her, and then he made his farewell speech to her.
“I must say good-bye to you. I shall be away early in the morning.”
“Good-bye, and God bless you,” said Lady Laura.
“Give me your hand,” said he. And she gave him her hand. “I don’t suppose you know what it is to love dearly.”
“I hope I do.”
“But to be in love! I believe you do not. And to miss your love! I think,—I am bound to think that you have never been so tormented. It is very sore;—but I will do my best, like a man, to get over it.”
“Do, my friend, do. So small a trouble will never weigh heavily on shoulders such as yours.”
“It will weigh very heavily, but I will struggle hard that it may not crush me. I have loved you so dearly! As we are parting give me one kiss, that I may think of it and treasure it in my memory!” What murmuring words she spoke to express her refusal of such a request, I will not quote; but the kiss had been taken before the denial was completed, and then they walked on in silence together,—and in peace, towards the house.
On the next morning six or seven men were going away, and there was an early breakfast. There were none of the ladies there, but Mr. Kennedy, the host, was among his friends. A large drag with four horses was there to take the travellers and their luggage to the station, and there was naturally a good deal of noise at the front door as the preparations for the departure were made. In the middle of them Mr. Kennedy took our hero aside. “Laura has told me,” said Mr. Kennedy, “that she has acquainted you with my good fortune.”
“And I congratulate you most heartily,” said Phineas, grasping the other’s hand. “You are indeed a lucky fellow.”
“I feel myself to be so,” said Mr. Kennedy. “Such a wife was all that was wanting to me, and such a wife is very hard to find. Will you remember, Finn, that Loughlinter will never be so full but what there will be a room for you, or so empty but what you will be made welcome? I say this on Lady Laura’s part and on my own.”
Phineas, as he was being carried away to the railway station, could not keep himself from speculating as to how much Kennedy knew of what had taken place during the walk up the Linter. Of one small circumstance that had occurred, he felt quite sure that Mr. Kennedy knew nothing.
Phineas Finn Returns to Killaloe