On the morning in question, the widow and her daughters were engaged in the shop, putting up pen’norths of sugar, cutting bits of tobacco, tying bundles of dip candles, attending to chance customers, and preparing for the more busy hours of the day. It was evident that something had occurred at the inn, which had ruffled the even tenor of its way. The widow was peculiarly gloomy. Though fond of her children, she was an autocrat in her house, and accustomed, as autocrats usually are, to scold a good deal; and now she was using her tongue pretty freely. It wasn’t the girls, however, she was rating, for they could answer for themselves;—and did, when they thought it necessary. But now, they were demure, conscious, and quiet. Mrs. Kelly was denouncing one of the reputed sins of the province to which she belonged, and describing the horrors of “schaming.”
“Them underhand ways,” she declared, “niver come to no good. Av’ it’s thrue what Father Connel’s afther telling me, there’ll harum come of it before it’s done and over. Schaming, schaming, and schaming for iver! The back of my hand to such doings! I wish the tongue had been out of Moylan’s mouth, the ould rogue, before he put the thing in his head. Av’ he wanted the young woman, and she was willing, why not take her in a dacent way, and have done with it. I’m sure she’s ould enough. But what does he want with a wife like her?—making innimies for himself. I suppose he’ll be sitting up for a gentleman now—bad cess to them for gentry; not but that he’s as good a right as some, and a dale more than others, who are ashamed to put their hand to a turn of work. I hate such huggery muggery work up in a corner. It’s half your own doing; and a nice piece of work it’ll be, when he’s got an ould wife and a dozen lawsuits!—when he finds his farm gone, and his pockets empty; for it’ll be a dale asier for him to be getting the wife than the money—when he’s got every body’s abuse, and nothing else, by his bargain!”
It was very apparent that Martin’s secret had not been well kept, and that the fact of his intended marriage with Anty Lynch was soon likely to be known to all Dunmore. The truth was, that Moylan had begun to think himself overreached in the matter—to be afraid that, by the very measure he had himself proposed, he would lose all share in the great prize he had put in Martin’s way, and that he should himself be the means of excluding his own finger from the pie. It appeared to him that if he allowed this, his own folly would only be equalled by the young man’s ingratitude; and he determined therefore, if possible, to prevent the match. Whereupon he told the matter as a secret, to those whom he knew would set it moving. In a very short space of time it reached the ears of Father Connel; and he lost none in stepping down to learn the truth of so important a piece of luck to one of his parishioners, and to congratulate the widow. Here, however, he was out in his reckoning, for she declared she did not believe it,—that it wasn’t, and couldn’t be true; and it was only after his departure that she succeeded in extracting the truth from her daughters.