“Anty, here’s a letter for ye,” began the widow. “Terry’s brought it down from the house, and says it’s from Misther Barry. I b’lieve he was in the right not to bring it hisself.”
“A letther for me, Mrs Kelly? what can he be writing about? I don’t just know whether I ought to open it or no;” and Anty trembled, as she turned the epistle over and over again in her hands.
“What for would you not open it? The letther can’t hurt you, girl, whatever the writher might do.”
Thus encouraged, Anty broke the seal, and made herself acquainted with the contents of the letter which Daly had dictated; but she then found that her difficulties had only just commenced. Was she to send an answer, and if so, what answer? And if she sent none, what notice ought she to take of it? The matter was one evidently too weighty to be settled by her own judgment, so she handed the letter to be read, first by the widow, and then by Martin, and lastly by the two girls, who, by this time, were both in the room.
“Well, the dethermined impudence of that blackguard!” exclaimed Mrs Kelly. “Conspiracy!—av’ that don’t bang Banagher! What does the man mean by ‘conspiracy,’ eh, Martin?”
“Faith, you must ask himself that, mother; and then it’s ten to one he can’t tell you.”
“I suppose,” said Meg, “he wants to say that we’re all schaming to rob Anty of her money—only he daren’t, for the life of him, spake it out straight forrard.”
“Or, maybe,” suggested Jane, “he wants to bring something agen us like this affair of O’Connell’s—only he’ll find, down here, that he an’t got Dublin soft goods to deal wid.”
Then followed a consultation, as to the proper steps to be taken in the matter.
The widow advised that father Geoghegan should be sent for to indite such a reply as a Christian ill-used woman should send to so base a letter. Meg, who was very hot on the subject, and who had read of some such proceeding in a novel, was for putting up in a blank envelope the letter itself, and returning it to Barry by the hands of Jack, the ostler; at the same time, she declared that “No surrender” should be her motto. Jane was of opinion that “Miss Anastasia Lynch’s compliments to Mr Barry Lynch, and she didn’t find herself strong enough to move to Dunmore House at present,” would answer all purposes, and be, on the whole, the safest course. While Martin pronounced that “if Anty would be led by him, she’d just pitch the letter behind the fire an’ take no notice of it, good, bad, or indifferent.”
None of these plans pleased Anty, for, as she remarked, “After all, Barry was her brother, and blood was thickher than wather.” So, after much consultation, pen, ink, and paper were procured, and the following letter was concocted between them, all the soft bits having been great stumbling-blocks, in which, however, Anty’s quiet perseverance carried the point, in opposition to the wishes of all the Kellys. The words put in brackets were those peculiarly objected to.