“Of course I won’t. When will you be able to start?”
“Why, I suppose there’s no immediate hurry?” said the parson, remembering that the new suit of clothes must be procured.
“Oh, but there is. Kilcullen will be there at once; and considering how long it is since I saw Fanny—three months, I believe—no time should be lost.”
“How long is her brother dead?”
“Oh, a month—or very near it.”
“Well, I’ll go Monday fortnight; that’ll do, won’t it?”
It was at last agreed that the parson was to start for Grey Abbey on the Monday week following; that he was to mention to no one where he was going; that he was to tell his wife that he was going on business he was not allowed to talk about;—she would be a very meek woman if she rested satisfied with that!—and that he was to present himself at Grey Abbey on the following Wednesday.
“And now,” said the parson, with some little hesitation, “my difficulty commences. We country rectors are never rich; but when we’ve nine children, Ballindine, it’s rare to find us with money in our pockets. You must advance me a little cash for the emergencies of the road.”
“My dear fellow! Of course the expense must be my own. I’ll send you down a note between this and then; I haven’t enough about me now. Or, stay—I’ll give you a cheque,” and he turned into the house, and wrote him a cheque for twenty pounds.
That’ll get the coat into the bargain, thought the rector, as he rather uncomfortably shuffled the bit of paper into his pocket. He had still a gentleman’s dislike to be paid for his services. But then, Necessity—how stern she is! He literally could not have gone without it.
On the following morning Lord Ballindine as he had appointed to do, drove over to Dunmore, to settle with Martin about the money, and, if necessary, to go with him to the attorney’s office in Tuam. Martin had as yet given Daly no answer respecting Barry Lynch’s last proposal; and though poor Anty’s health made it hardly necessary that any answer should be given, still Lord Ballindine had promised to see the attorney, if Martin thought it necessary.
The family were all in great confusion that morning, for Anty was very bad—worse than she had ever been. She was in a paroxysm of fever, was raving in delirium, and in such a state that Martin and his sister were occasionally obliged to hold her in bed. Sally, the old servant, had been in the room for a considerable time during the morning, standing at the foot of the bed with a big tea-pot in her hand, and begging in a whining voice, from time to time, that “Miss Anty, God bless her, might get a dhrink of tay!” But, as she had been of no other service, and as the widow thought it as well that she should not hear what Anty said in her raving, she had been desired to go down-stairs, and was sitting over the fire. She had fixed the big tea-pot among the embers, and held a slop-bowl of tea in her lap, discoursing to Nelly, who with her hair somewhat more than ordinarily dishevelled, in token of grief for Anty’s illness, was seated on a low stool, nursing a candle-stick.