“Don’t you know, mother, he was head and ears in debt?”
“Don’t tell me,” said the widow. “Parson Armstrong’s not a sheriff’s officer, that he should be looking after folks in debt.”
“No, mother, he’s not, that I know of; but he don’t like, for all that, to see his tithes walking out of the country.”
“Don’t be coming over me that way, Martin. Barry Lynch, nor his father before him, never held any land in Ballindine parish.”
“Didn’t they—well thin, you know more than I, mother, so it’s no use my telling you,” and Martin walked off to bed.
“I’ll even you, yet, my lad,” said she, “close as you are; you see else. Wait awhile, till the money’s wanting, and then let’s see who’ll know all about it!” And the widow slapped herself powerfully on that part where her pocket depended, in sign of the great confidence she had in the strength of her purse.
“Did I manage that well?” said the parson, as Lord Ballindine drove him home to Kelly’s Court, as soon as the long interview was over. “If I can do as well at Grey Abbey, you’ll employ me again, I think!”
“Upon my word, then, Armstrong,” said Frank, “I never was in such hot water as I have been all this day: and, now it’s over, to tell you the truth, I’m sorry we interfered. We did what we had no possible right to do.”
“Nonsense, man. You don’t suppose I’d have dreamed of letting him off, if the law could have touched him? But it couldn’t. No magistrates in the county could have committed him; for he had done, and, as far as I can judge, had said, literally nothing. It’s true we know what he intended; but a score of magistrates could have done nothing with him: as it is, we’ve got him out of the country: he’ll never come back again.”
“What I mean is, we had no business to drive him out of the country with threats.”
“Oh, Ballindine, that’s nonsense. One can keep no common terms with such a blackguard as that. However, it’s done now; and I must say I think it was well done.”
“There’s no doubt of your talent in the matter, Armstrong: upon my soul I never saw anything so cool. What a wretch—what an absolute fiend the fellow is!”
“Bad enough,” said the parson. “I’ve seen bad men before, but I think he’s the worst I ever saw. What’ll Mrs O’Kelly say of my coming in this way, without notice?”
The parson enjoyed his claret at Kelly’s Court that evening, after his hard day’s work, and the next morning he started for Grey Abbey.