After a sound sleep Anty got up, much strengthened and refreshed, and found the two Kelly girls ready to condole with, or congratulate her, according to her mood and spirits. In spite of their mother’s caution, they were quite prepared for gossiping, as soon as Anty showed the slightest inclination that way; and, though she at first was afraid to talk about her brother, and was even, from kindly feeling, unwilling to do so, the luxury of such an opportunity of unrestrained confidence overcame her; and, before the three had been sitting together for a couple of hours, she had described the whole interview, as well as the last drunken midnight visit of Barry’s to her own bed-room, which, to her imagination, was the most horrible of all the horrors of the night.
Poor Anty. She cried vehemently that morning—more in sorrow for her brother, than in remembrance of her own fears, as she told her friends how he had threatened to shut her up in a mad-house, and then to murder her, unless she promised him not to marry; and when she described how brutally he had struck her, and how, afterwards, he had crept to her room, with his red eyes and swollen face, in the dead of the night, and, placing his hot mouth close to her ears, had dreadfully sworn that she should die, if she thought of Martin Kelly as her husband, she trembled as though she was in an ague fit.
The girls said all they could to comfort her, and they succeeded in a great degree; but they could not bring her to talk of Martin. She shuddered whenever his name was mentioned, and they began to fear that Barry’s threat would have the intended effect, and frighten her from the match. However, they kindly talked of other things—of how impossible it was that she should go back to Dunmore House, and how comfortable and snug they would make her at the inn, till she got a home for herself; of what she should do, and of all their little household plans together; till Anty, when she could forget her brother’s threats for a time, seemed to be more comfortable and happy than she had been for years.
In vain did the widow that morning repeatedly invoke Meg and Jane, first one and then the other, to assist in her commercial labours. In vain were Sally and Kate commissioned to bring them down. If, on some urgent behest, one of them darted down to mix a dandy of punch, or weigh a pound of sugar, when the widow was imperatively employed elsewhere, she was upstairs again, before her mother could look about her; and, at last, Mrs Kelly was obliged to content herself with the reflection that girls would be girls, and that it was “nathural and right they shouldn’t wish to lave Anty alone the first morning, and she sthrange to the place.”
At five o’clock, the widow, as was her custom, went up to her dinner; and Meg was then obliged to come down and mind the shop, till her sister, having dined, should come down and relieve guard. She had only just ensconced herself behind the counter, when who should walk into the shop but Barry Lynch.