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´╗┐Title: Paddy-The-Next-Best-Thing
Author: Page, Gertrude, 1873-1922
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Paddy-The-Next-Best-Thing" ***

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Paddy-The-Next-Best-Thing
By Gertrude Page
Published by Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York.
This edition dated 1916.

Paddy-The-Next-Best-Thing, by Gertrude Page.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
PADDY-THE-NEXT-BEST-THING, BY GERTRUDE PAGE.

CHAPTER ONE.

CONCERNING PADDY'S BLOUSE.

Paddy Adair, the "next-best-thing," as she was fond of calling herself,
and the reason for which will appear hereafter, sat at the table, and
spread all around her were little square books of "patterns for
blouses," from which she was vainly endeavouring to make a selection.
Meanwhile she kept up a running conversation with the only other
occupant of the room, a girl with dreamy eyes of true Irish blue, who
sat in the window, motionless, gazing across the Loch at the distant
mountains.  She heard no word of all her sister was saying, but that did
not appear to trouble Paddy in the least, so doubtless it was not an
unusual state of affairs.

"This one with green spots and pink roses would look the best with my
blue skirt," Paddy said, holding one pattern at arm's length and
surveying it critically, "but the blue one with the white border would
look better with my grey.  I wonder which you would choose, Eily?  I
wonder which would be the most becoming to my peculiar style of beauty,
or," with a twinkle in her eyes, "I should say the most concealing to my
unique lack of it.  I think I'll risk the green spots and pink roses,
because it doesn't really look half bad with the grey.

"Oh, but my hat!" with a comical exclamation of dismay, "there's my
silly old hat has got pansies in it, and they'd look just awful with the
green and pink, Eileen!  What _am_ I to do, with all my things different
colours, that don't seem any of them to go together?  I wonder if I'd
better bring out my whole wardrobe and go through the hundred and one
patterns again?  Or shall I have a white-bordered thing, that is not
particular and will go with just all of them?  Only I'd have to start at
the beginning to find it, and I'm so sick of the very sight of them.
Here have I had these patterns three days, and I've already spent about
five pounds' worth of brain-power upon a blouse that will cost five
shillings.  If only you'd help, Eileen!" looking up toward the figure in
the window, "instead of staring at those silly old mountains like a
stuffed goose!

"Eileen!"--as the dreamer took no notice--"Eileen! do you hear that I'm
floundering in a sea of patterns!  Your one and only sister, and you sit
there like an Egyptian mummy stuffed with dried peas!

"I'll make you help--so there,"--and with a sudden movement she swept
all the books of patterns into her arms and deposited them,
helter-skelter, upon her sister's head, laughing gayly at the picture of
solemn-faced Eileen with the little square books scattered all around
and upon her.

"Now, Miss Sphinx," she said, "do you think you could come down from the
clouds for five minutes and discuss anything so distressingly earthy as
clothes?"

Eileen's face broke into a very sweet smile.  She had not in the least
intended to be indifferent, but long before Paddy commenced consulting
her she had been in the middle of composing a lovely poem about
mountains and streams and birds and things, and she had not really heard
any of her remarks at all.

"What's the matter, Paddy?" she asked, eyeing the scattered patterns
with amusement.

"Matter!" cried Paddy, "everything's the matter!  How on earth am I to
select a blouse that will go with a blue dress, a green dress, a grey
dress, a hat with pansies in, and a scarlet tam-o'-shanter!  I've been
worrying with those stupid patterns for days, and instead of getting any
nearer a decision, I keep on thinking of something fresh that nothing
seems to go with.  Now it's your turn to worry; you ought to, you know,
because Charity begins at home."

"Why not have something in cream?" suggested Eileen; "it saves a lot of
bother."

"Yes, and what do I look like in cream, with my sallow skin?  It's all
very well for you with your ivory and roses, you look well in anything.
I don't think it was at all fair for you to have everything nice while I
am burdened for life with a sallow skin and a snub nose.  Cream flannel
would be nearly as bad as brown holland for me, and when I wear brown
holland you can't tell where the dress ends and I begin," and the
corners of Paddy's mischievous mouth were momentarily drawn down in
great disgust.

"You could wear bright-coloured ties," suggested Eileen, "and have one
of every colour you wanted."

"Why so I could," brightening up, "and provided I don't always lose the
colour I want at the moment of requiring it, it will save a lot of
bother."

"But you always will, you know," said a gay masculine voice; "you'll
keep every one waiting five minutes longer than usual hunting for the
required colour, and then turn up in a red tie with a green hat," and
before either of them could speak, Jack O'Hara, from the Parsonage, was
coming through the window, head first, trailing his long legs after him.
"I've just had a little practice at this sort of thing," he ran on.  "I
came from Newry, with the Burtons, a whole carriage full of them, and we
had a great time.  The train was just going to start when I arrived, and
the station master had locked their compartment, and when I asked him to
let me in, he tried to put me into a smoker next door.  I said, `No,
thanks, not for Jack this journey.'  He murmured something about the
Burton's carriage being full up, and I couldn't go in it, so I said,
`You see if I can't,' and took a header through the window, right on to
their laps."

"But you don't know them!" exclaimed Paddy, whose face at the same time
expressed the greatest relish at the episode.

"I've been introduced," was the calm reply.  "Fletcher introduced me in
Hill Street a week ago."

"Whatever did they think of you?" asked Eileen, unable to resist
smiling.

"Oh, we had a ripping time.  They're awfully jolly girls, and they had
that little imp Basil with them.  He amused himself trying to throw
everything he could get at out of the window as we went along.  But
touching this blouse," with a sudden change of voice, "why don't you ask
my advice?  You haven't either of you a grain of taste compared to
mine."

"Yours!" exclaimed Paddy scornfully, "and there you sit with emerald
green in your stockings, a yellow waistcoat, and a terra cotta tie."

"What's the matter with my stockings?" surveying his fine pair of legs
with an air of pride.  "That's the O'Hara tartan; I'm very proud of it.
You're not supposed to look at me all at once.  You should enjoy the
stockings first, and then gradually work up to the waistcoat, and
afterward to the tie."

"Get thoroughly seasoned and strengthened before reaching the face, I
suppose you mean!" said Paddy, for which a well-aimed cushion brought
her rippling red-brown hair half-way down her back.

Not that Jack had any occasion to feel insulted, because after
twenty-four years' acquaintance with a looking glass, it was hardly
likely he could be totally oblivious to the fact that Nature had been
almost prodigal to him in her good gifts.  One might go far to find a
more sunny pair of blue eyes, a brighter smile, or a more handsome
specimen of manhood generally.  And to this was added a rare fineness of
disposition, so full of sincerity and sweetness, that there was no room
for anything small at all, not even the personal vanity that one would
have felt obliged to forgive him.  But, then, as a matter of fact, every
one forgave Jack anything, and there was scarcely a house within a
radius of twelve miles where he did not come in and out just as he
pleased, finding an unfailing welcome when he entered, and leaving the
same regret when he left.  Yet he did things that would not have been
suffered, by one in a thousand, in anyone else.  He shot over every
one's moors and covers uninvited, he fished every one's stream, he
sailed every one's yacht, and rode most people's horses.  He was, in
fact, an arrant poacher, and yet neither gamekeeper nor owner could
withstand his witty sallies, nor the laughter in his blue eyes when he
was caught, and the young sinner himself used to say that though he was
a poor clergyman's son with scarcely a penny to his name, he had some of
the finest shooting and fishing in Ireland, and lived a life a prince
might envy.  Of course he ought to have been worrying about his future,
and what would eventually become of him, but he was far too thoroughly
Irish to do anything so foolish.  "What's the use of worrying yet!" he
would say.  "Can't a fellow have a good time in peace, while he has the
chance!  I'll start worrying presently--if I don't forget"; then he
would probably give his last sixpence to a beggar, and immediately
afterward go into a shop to buy something for Aunt Jane that he thought
would please her; and when he discovered, with surprise, that he was
unable to pay for it, he would get the shopkeeper to put it down to his
father and promise to call in another day with the money.  But that
would generally be the very last he would remember of it, and two or
three months later the Rev Patrick O'Hara would wonder when and why he
had bought that copy of "The Eternal City," or that work-basket with red
lining.  It was no use asking Jack, because he had always forgotten; and
though he would immediately empty his pockets into his father's lap, so
to speak, there was never enough in them to make it worth while.  It was
quite the exception for Jack ever to remember anything.  If he rowed
across to Warrenpoint to buy the sausages for Sunday's breakfast, he
would be quite as likely as not to return without them; and if he took a
note, it was a hundred to one it came back in his pocket unopened, and
remained there several days.

"Now I wonder what I came across for, Pat!" was a usual remark to the
old boatman, when on the point of rowing himself back again.

"Faith!  Ye've a head like a sieve, Mr Jack," Pat would reply.  "Was it
they sausages agen? or maybe something at the grocers? or some shoe
laces for 'is riverence?"

"I don't know, I'm sure, Pat, but I'll just have to go and ask what I've
forgotten.  Begorra! if I'd no head at all to put these things into,
they couldn't slip out again, could they! and then I shouldn't vex Aunt
Jane's soul with my forgetfulness.  If it was sausages, Pat, I'll fire
my gun three times off the landing-stage, and you must just go up to the
butcher yourself and bring them across;" with which he would whistle a
merry tune and row leisurely back across the Loch.  But long before he
reached the other side, he would again have forgotten, and instead of
going at once to the Parsonage, he would stroll into the garden of The
Ghan House, which adjoined, to see if Paddy were available for the
afternoon, or if by chance Eileen wandered dreamily under the trees
gazing at the mountains.

One of the great problems of Jack's existence at that time, indeed, the
only one that he ever took seriously, was whether he liked Paddy or
Eileen the best.  Ever since he was two years old, the Adairs had lived
in The Ghan House, next door to the Parsonage, and he always declared he
had distinct recollections of a long white bolster-like apparition in a
nurse's arms, from the first day it appeared in the garden.  He could
just get about sufficiently well alone, then, to be always in mischief,
and at his first opportunity, when the two nurses were deeply engaged in
conversation, he got hold of the long clothes and tugged with all his
might and main, to pull the baby on to the ground, a feat which he very
nearly achieved.  That was Eileen, and just as she had looked at him
with big, calm, thoughtful eyes, then, not in the least disturbed by his
vigorous attempts to unseat her, so she looked at him now in the first
bloom of her beauty, quelling his over-exuberance of spirit, calming his
boyish audacity, and making him sometimes feel as if he wanted to lie
down and let her walk over him.  But then on the other hand Paddy was
such good fun!  When the second bolster-like apparition appeared, he was
four, and being somewhat weary of the solemn two-year-old Eileen he took
rapidly to the ugly little brown-faced baby, whose eyes already began to
dance with a suggestion of the mischievous tendency which only developed
steadily year by year and claimed them kindred spirits from their
earliest infancy.  What the nurses at The Ghan House and the Parsonage
suffered over those two imps of wickedness would fill a whole book; and
why they were not drowned over and over again, or killed falling from
trees, or run over on the railway that skirted the grounds, or
suffocated in mountain bogs, remains forever one of the mysteries of
their existence.  And things were much the same still, though the nurses
were no more and they had reached the mature ages of twenty-four and
twenty, respectively.  Where Jack went Paddy went, or very usually
followed; and there was scarcely an act of daring even their busy brains
could conceive, that they two had not achieved together--much to General
Adair's delight and Mrs Adair's disquiet, for she felt that if her
scapegrace daughter were ever to grow up at all she really ought to
begin at once; and yet was quite at a loss by what procedure the change
should commence.  Boarding school had been tried, but there the girl had
drooped and pined to such an extent that when the General went one day
to see her, he had been so shocked and upset that he had had her trunk
packed at once, and taken her straight back to Ireland without telling
her mother anything about it, until they walked into the hall of The
Ghan House.

"I can't help it," was all he had said, in reply to maternal
remonstrances.  "She wasn't meant for boarding school life.  I expect
when the Lord made her, He fashioned her for running wild by the
mountains and Loch, and well just have to let her grow up in her own
way."  And an hour later he laughed till he nearly made himself ill over
the spectacle of a small boat upside down in the bay, with Paddy
clinging to it, while a coal barge waited alongside to pick her up and
presently landed her close by the General's landing-stage, a mass of mud
and water and coal dust.

"Better not let your mother see you," he managed to gasp.  "Faith!  I've
wanted a boy all my life, but there's no doubt I've got the very next
best thing."  Then he went off to the Parsonage to tell Miss Jane and
Miss Mary O'Hara, while Paddy slipped in the back way and was smuggled
up to the bathroom by a faithful old housekeeper who worshipped any
flesh and blood related to the General, whom she had known ever since he
joined the Dublin Fusiliers, and embarked on the career that made his
old regiment as proud and as fond of him, as he, to his last gasp, was
of them.

But to return to the vexed question of the blouse, the three young
people, having settled the difficulty concerning each other's taste to
their satisfaction, though in a somewhat unflattering fashion, Jack and
Paddy sat on the table swinging their feet and discussed the delicate
question of what would best suit the latter's complexion.

Then suddenly Jack looked up with an innocent expression.  "What's the
good of wasting all this time about a body's complexion when they
haven't got one!" he said.

"How dare you!  I've a beautiful olive tinge!"

"Olive!" teasingly; "why you look as if you'd washed your face with my
brown boot polish!  It must be rather awful to be so ugly that you look
much the same in anything," he finished.

"Oh, you scoundrel!--you long-legged kangaroo!--you big-footed
elephant!--you--you--" and failing words altogether to express her
feelings, Paddy commenced belabouring him over the head with a small
sofa bolster, calling out to Eileen to "be a man and come and help her."

"No, no," gasped Jack, struggling to protect himself, "remain a woman,
Eileen, and be ready to bandage my wounds when this vixen has worn
herself out.  Who would have dreamt I was letting myself in for this!
Why I thought she knew she was ugly, it didn't seem possible she could
help knowing it!--I--I--" but just then the door opened and in the midst
of the racket Miss Jane and Miss Mary O'Hara stepped daintily into the
room.

CHAPTER TWO.

THE MISSES O'HARA.

In all the neighbourhood of the Mourne Mountains there was probably
neither priest, nor peasant, nor layman so generally known and respected
as the Rev Patrick O'Hara's two maiden sisters.  Miss Jane and Miss
Mary they were known as generally, but among the young men and girls
whom they loved, they were Aunt Jane and Aunt Mary always, and they were
familiar figures at every gathering and every party for miles round!  If
anyone was in trouble, they went over to the Parsonage at Omeath as soon
as they could; and if they could not manage this, it was practically a
certainty that the two little ladies would very shortly look in upon
them.  The oldest inhabitants remembered them as two little girls, when
their father was at the Parsonage before their brother; and later, as
two very pretty, very charming young women, but why they were still at
the Parsonage, and still the Misses O'Hara, was the one thing nobody did
know.  Certainly, they had been very much admired, and there had been
some talk about Miss Mary and young Captain Quinn, of Omeath Park, but
nothing had apparently come of it, for the Captain went away on active
service, and came no more to Omeath.  Several months after he left, both
the sisters had gone abroad, and been away a year, but no one knew where
they went to, and they never offered any enlightenment on the point.
When they came back, however, they were very changed in many ways.
Gaiety, which had been spontaneous before, seemed to have become an
effort to both of them, and for some little time neither appeared to
care to accept the invitations showered upon them as usual.  Later on
something of their old brightness came back, and they were once more the
familiar figures everywhere that they had previously been.  But though
their joyousness came back, there was still an indefinable change and
the suggestion of something hidden which none could solve, and to every
one's surprise each "would-be" suitor was sent resolutely away.
Finally, it became evident that the Misses O'Hara meant to remain the
Misses O'Hara to their dying day, and live at the Parsonage as long as
it was possible--the dearest little pair of old maids that ever gave
their fellow-creatures cause to bless the Guiding Hand, that gave some
women to one home and one family, and reserved others to belong to every
one about them.

"My dear," they said to any of the myriad nieces who plied them with
wondering questions why they had never married, and whether it was that
they did not believe in matrimonial happiness, "there is no happiness in
the world quite like that of a happy wife and mother, but it is not
given to everyone to know it, and many come to a crossway in life, where
they know they must mould their future without any hope of it.  But for
such, the Good Father has another happiness waiting, if they will take
it and trust Him, and not repine because they might not choose.  It is
the happiness of a life filled with serving, and rich in the love of
one's fellow-creatures of every sex and age and station.  Our lives are
filled to overflowing with, this happiness, and we are content to
believe that what is lost to a woman in this life will be made up to her
an hundredfold in some other life beyond."

"And then there is Jack!" one of them would add softly, and the other
would reply with like softness, "Yes, sister, there is Jack."

By which one can easily gather, how, when the poor little baby at the
Parsonage was left motherless at ten months old, he at once became the
fortunate possessor of two new mothers, who would have gone through fire
and water rather than let a hair of his sunny curls be hurt.

"We must not spoil him, sister," Jane, the elder, had said once, as they
stood gazing rapturously at their new treasure.

"No, sister," Mary had replied, "it is only unkind mothers who spoil
children, and so unfit them for the rough usage of the world and rob
them of many a good friend they might afterward have won."

"That is exactly my view, sister; we will endeavour to act up to it, and
yet make him as happy as the day is long."

Nevertheless, a more spoilt boy than little Jack O'Hara it would have
been difficult to find, and, if Nature had not blessed him particularly
with a nature proof against spoiling, he would probably have grown up
the reverse of the adored young scamp he was.  But then, possibly, it
was just this that caused his aunts to swerve so widely from their fixed
principle, for it would have required a heart of cast-iron to withstand
such a boy as he.  All his naughtiness was pure love of mischief, and he
was always so genuinely sorry and penitent afterward, and so forlornly
unhappy when he was in disgrace, that he made every one else in the
house feel miserable until he was forgiven.  No sooner was he undergoing
a term of punishment than Aunt Mary would ask Aunt Jane to forgive him
this once, or the cook would "make so bold" as to plead with Miss Jane,
or the gardener would "mention it respectfully to 'is riverence."

"I think, perhaps, we might let him off just this time," one of the
aunts would say, anxiously looking at her sister, and the other would
reply gravely, "Yes, just this time, perhaps, but we must not do it
again."

And if there happened to be anything he particularly wanted, much the
same proceeding ensued.

"I'm afraid we mustn't let him have it sister!"  Miss Mary would say
wistfully.  "We mustn't spoil him, must we?"

"No, sister, we mustn't spoil him," would be the reply with like
wistfulness.

"Or, do you think, perhaps, just this once, sister?" half timidly.

"Well, perhaps, just this once," with a show of reluctance, "only it
mustn't happen again, must it?"

"No, certainly not, sister, another time we will be firm for his good."

And so it went on for twenty-four years, and always "another time" was
reserved for firmness on Jack's account, until "life" took the matter
into her own hands, and threw an obstacle across his easy, flower-strewn
path, that even his devoted aunts could not smooth away for him, and
over which he must needs prove himself a man and fight his own battle.
But of that anon.

"My dears, we have had some news!" began Miss Jane, "and we think you
will be pleased, so we came across at once to tell you."

"Yes," murmured Miss Mary, nodding her small head gravely while her
sister spoke, to show that the sentiment was equally hers, "we thought
you would be pleased."

By this time, Jack and Paddy were again seated on the table, swinging
their feet, in front of the two little ladies who sat side by side on
the sofa looking rather like two little Dutch dolls.  Eileen had
returned to her window seat, where she could keep one eye and one half
of her mind on the mountains, and the other eye and the other half for
more mundane reflections.

"News!" exclaimed Paddy, clasping her hands ecstatically.  "Oh!
scrumptious; I just love news!" while Eileen and Jack looked up
expectantly.

"We have heard from Mrs Blake this morning, and they are coming back to
Mourne Lodge," continued Miss Jane, while Miss Mary, looking very
pleased, murmured "Yes, coming back."

"Hurray!" cried Paddy, "Hurray!  Hurray!  Just think of the dances and
picnics and things.  Why don't you say you're glad, Jack--or do
something to show it?"--and before he quite realised it, she had caught
him by his coat and pulled him half round the room.  Roused instantly,
Jack proceeded to pick her up and deposit her in the corner behind the
sofa, amid frantic struggles on his victim's part and a general flutter
of the two little ladies to protect anything breakable in their
vicinity.  This, indeed, they did, partly from force of habit, for it
was a standing joke in their circle that whenever Paddy and Jack were in
the room together, Miss Jane kept her eye on one half of the room and
Miss Mary on the other, and at the first symptoms of one of their
customary "rough and tumbles," one little lady fluttered off collecting
breakables from one side and standing guard over them, while the other
little lady did likewise on the other side.

"It's all right!" said Jack, seeing their alert attitude, "I was only
teaching her not to take liberties with my coat.  Did you ever see such
a scarecrow?" looking with delighted relish at Paddy's generally
dishevelled appearance as she emerged from her corner.  "You'd think she
ought to make a fortune with a face like that as an artist's model for a
comic paper, wouldn't you?"

"My dear, he's very rude," said little Miss Mary, patting the
dishevelled one's hand.

"Yes, aunt, but he can't help it, and we have to be kind to people's
failings, haven't we?  It is something to be thankful for that you have
been able to keep him out of an asylum so long, isn't it?" and then she
ducked hastily to escape a shower of missiles, and the two little ladies
flew off once more to the breakables.

Order being again restored, however, the news was further discussed, and
the three young people learnt with varying degrees of eagerness that
Mrs Blake intended both her girls to "come out" the next winter, and
that Lawrence Blake, the only son, was going to remain at home for a
time.  This last piece of information contained in a measure the gist of
the whole for the young people, but they each received it differently.
Eileen turned her head, and with a slight flush in her cheeks gazed
steadily across the Loch.  Jack looked as near being annoyed as he felt
at all warrantable, or as his insistently sunny face would permit, and
Paddy, screwing an imaginary eyeglass into her eye, remarked in a drawl,
"Remarkable! really remarkable!  You are a credit to your charming sex."

"In whatever capacity was that?" asked Jack, as if he marvelled.

"Never mind," retorted Paddy; "because you have not the discernment to
know a good thing when you see it, you need not suppose every one else
is similarly afflicted.  How delightful it will be to have a _man_ among
us again.  One gets so tired of boys!"

"You don't mean to say you're going to uphold Lawrence Blake!" he
exclaimed, apparently too disgusted to parry her thrust.

"Why not?" stoutly.  "I'm sure he's a most superior young man."

"A pity he's such a conceited ass, then," muttered Jack, at which the
two little ladies looked pained, and while one said gently, "My dear
Jack, you must remember he is always extremely nice to us," the other
echoed with like gentleness, "Yes, Jack, dear, remember he is always
nice to us."

"Then I'll say he's a thundering good chap," was the ready response;
"though that man or woman living could be other than nice to you passes
my comprehension."

"Of course they couldn't," put in Paddy; "why I want to hug both of you
every ten minutes whenever I am with you.

"Fancy if every one else did!" she ran on, "and our feelings got the
better of us!  How should you like it, aunties, if every one wanted to
keep hugging you every time they saw you, and couldn't help themselves!
You would never dare to wear your best bonnets at all, should you?--and
I expect your caps would be everywhere but on your heads, or else would
have a perpetually rakish tilt."

The two little ladies smiled without the least resentment, for they had
long known that the varying angle of their caps was a source of great
amusement to their large army of nephews and nieces, who stoutly
maintained that when Aunt Jane's cap slipped awry, Aunt Mary's quickly
did the same of its own accord, and _vice versa_, and therefore, it was
more often the cap's fault than the owner's.

Jack, however, stood up promptly, and pulling himself to his full
height, said, with a whimsical recollection of childhood, "Shall I be a
man, aunties, and spank her?"  This highly amused both little ladies, as
it reminded them of a little mischievous girl who had pushed over her
sister on purpose, and a sturdy, blue-eyed boy, who had promptly asked
with a fiery resoluteness of purpose, "Shall I be a man, aunties, and
spank her?"  It was memorable also how disappointed he had been when
told that "being a man" never meant spanking little girls at all, even
when they were mischievous.

He would, doubtless, not have waited for any verdict on the present
occasion, only just then the hearty old General entered the room, and
Paddy, the father's darling, flew to him for protection.  A general
chattering and laughing ensued, and, presently seeing her opportunity,
Eileen rose from her seat in the window, and with a curious subdued glow
in her wonderful eyes glided silently from the room.

A few minutes later she was pulsing up the mountain with a free, eager
step that not only proclaimed her an experienced climber, but bespoke a
deep delight in thus climbing to the upland solitudes alone.

"I say, daddy," Paddy was saying, "isn't it ripping, we're going to have
a man-about-town here!  The real, genuine thing, you know, eyeglass and
all, and as _blase_ as they're made.  Won't Jack look like a countrified
Irish lout with bats in his belfry!"

The General said afterward, it was nearly as good as a bit of
Tipperary's extra-special, best Orangemen night.

CHAPTER THREE.

EILEEN THE DREAMER.

There was one spot on the mountains near The Ghan House where, if you
climbed high enough and were not afraid of an almost perpendicular path,
you could get a glorious view, not only of the Loch and mountains, but
of a wide stretch of sparkling silver, or dreaming turquoise, which was
the sea.

It was here that Eileen Adair loved to sit and dream dreams and weave
romances, such as only the true Celt knows how.  What she put into them
was known to none, and, indeed, probably never could be known, for they
possessed that unfathomable, mysterious, yearning quality which is so
present in Celtic blood, and were of those hidden thoughts and things
which defy words to express them.  Not that Eileen ever wanted to
express them.  She had not as yet met a kindred soul whom she felt could
in any wise understand, and meanwhile, having the mountains, and the
lake, and the sea, for companions, it did not seem that she needed a
listener.  She could talk to these in a rapturous silence as she could
talk to no other, and feel that her spirit was one with their spirit,
and that what men call "solitude" is in reality a wealth of deep
companionship for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.  There
was a good deal of the pagan about Eileen, for, though she always went
to church, and tried to be earnest and attentive, it seemed so much
easier to her to worship out in the open air among the upland solitudes
of the mountain.  And so real and intense to her in these solitudes was
the consciousness of an All-pervading God-presence, that fear of any
kind was impossible, and she was less lonely than under any other
conditions.

It was doubtless these solitary climbs and silent musings, when she
either thought deep, mysterious thoughts, or sitting motionless,
absorbed into all her being the spirit of beauty around, that had
deepened in her face year by year its dream-like loveliness.  Eileen was
rarely gay, but her smile was indescribably beautiful and impressed
everyone who saw it.  Paddy was her father's darling, and had been, in
spite of his disappointment, ever since he learned that his second child
was another girl and not the fondly longed-for boy.  With a sense of
vain regret he had looked dubiously at the small bundle with the cause
of his regret somewhere inside it, and retired without further
inspection.  A few days later he got a full and uninterrupted view of an
ugly little brown face, with a pair of particularly bright eyes, and a
suggestion of roguishness that was entirely alluring.  "Bedad!" he said,
looking back into the bright eyes, "I badly wanted a boy, but you look
as if you'd be the next best thing."  And that was how Paddy got her
self-chosen nickname.

The General was, however, very proud of Eileen, though
half-unconsciously a little afraid of her.  But what she missed in her
father Eileen found amply in her mother, whose only fear was that she
might worship this sweet-eyed, fair-faced daughter too much.  Mrs Adair
was a woman with whom few ever felt quite at home.  Distinguished in
bearing, and still with the remains of considerable beauty, she was in
general an object of awe to her acquaintances.  Those who once got to
know her and were admitted into her friendship ever after loved her
dearly--but these were few and far between.  Foremost among them were
the little ladies at the Parsonage, who had been waiting at The Ghan
House to welcome their old friend's bride the day he brought her home
from India.  She had been just the same white-faced, reserved woman
then, and for a little while they had been non-plussed; but one day a
letter from India had told them her story, and soon afterward the three
women had cemented a lifelong friendship in tears of common sympathy.

"I hear General Adair has married Miss Brindley and is taking her to
your neighbourhood," the letter had run.  "She was governess with a
friend of ours in India, and we know her well and are very fond of her.
Do all you can for her; she has had a very sad life, and lately, on the
top of all the rest, saw her love killed before her eyes guarding her
from a band of Afghans on the frontier.  He was a cousin of General
Adair's, and they were very devoted to each other, and the latter nearly
lost his life also going to their assistance.  Afterward he fell in love
with Miss Brindley himself, and we helped to persuade her to marry him,
because she was so friendless, and poor, and broken-hearted."

This, then, surely had something to do with the wistful expression in
the little sad-eyed Eileen's face, and in later years so deeply entwined
her round her mother's heart.  Only Mrs Adair rarely showed it, for she
was eminently a just woman, and in the peaceful waters of her after-life
she put her sad past resolutely aside, and tried to live only for the
husband who was so good to her, and for her harum-scarum tom-boy
daughter, as much as for the child who would always possess the largest
share of her heart.

But Eileen's eyes were not sad when she hurried up the mountain on the
day the Misses O'Hara called with their piece of news.  She carried a
small packet of sandwiches and a flask which the cook had hastily
prepared for her, and revelled inwardly at the prospect of at least five
hours all to herself.  She knew they would not be anxious at home, for
both she and Paddy often took their lunch with them and vanished for a
day, though it must be confessed nothing in the world would ever have
induced the latter to waste an afternoon, as she would put it, mooning
about on the mountains alone.  No, Paddy would be off in the yacht,
fishing or sailing, with or without Jack, or she would be away to Newry
for tennis, or to Greenore for golf, or to Warrenpoint to see her great
friend, Kitty Irvine, and listen to the Pierrots on the front; and in
any case no one would dream of worrying about her, for had she not
possessed a charmed life she must surely have ended her short career in
some sudden fashion long ago.

But to-day it was not the five hours only that lit that glow in Eileen's
eyes.  It was something quite different--quite apart, indeed, from the
whole tenor of her life, except for a few short months three years ago.

That was the summer when Lawrence Blake, instead of going off to foreign
climes as usual, remained at his home, Mourne Lodge, a beautiful place
in the mountains about two miles from The Ghan House.  He kept his yacht
that summer moored by the General's landing-stage, so each time he went
out in it he passed through the grounds of The Ghan House, and one of
his sisters usually ran in to fetch Paddy or Eileen if they chanced to
be at home.  Paddy, as it happened, much preferred the greater
excitement, not to say danger, of taking her pleasures with Jack O'Hara,
so it usually chanced that Eileen went in the Blakes' boat.  In the
middle of September Kathleen and Doreen Blake had to go back to Paris,
where they were still finishing their educations, but somehow it had
seemed perfectly natural for Lawrence still to go down to his yacht and
for Eileen to keep him company.  On the first occasion Jack and Paddy
went with them, but an indefinable, strained feeling, owing doubtless to
Jack's antipathy to the wealthy, polished University man, had caused the
lively pair to come to the conclusion that it was too tame a proceeding
altogether, and they could better amuse themselves elsewhere.  In this
decision Lawrence and Eileen were secretly glad to acquiesce, for there
was never any peace for anybody when Paddy was on board.  She would not
sit still herself, nor let anybody else if she could help it, and was
altogether a most dangerous young person to take on a small sailing
yacht.

So sweet September glided into a sunny, warm October, and still Lawrence
went through the grounds to the bay and Eileen met him at the water's
edge.

To him she was a beautiful girl with poetical ideas, which he found
rather amusing.

To her he was a revelation.

In all her nineteen years Eileen had never met any one so cultured as
Lawrence Blake, except Jack's father, and he, since his wife's death,
had grown so reserved and retiring that no one was able ever to bring
him out of himself.  There seemed to be nothing that Lawrence did not
know and had not studied, and so eager was she to learn from him that
she was blind altogether to the defects which made him an object of
aversion to honest, outspoken Jack.  It must be confessed, however, that
Lawrence, when he liked, could be as charming a companion as any one
need wish, and if it so pleased him, and he were not too lackadaisical,
could make his way into almost any one's heart.  It was generally said
of him that he had the most disarming smile in the world, and from
wearing a cynical, morose expression, could change in an instant to a
polished courtier if he so wished, and turn an enemy into an ally after
half an hour's conversation.

And it pleased him during that sunny October to stand well with Eileen.
He liked her.  She was not only beautiful to look at, but interesting to
talk to, and a delightful listener, and for the rest--well, what harm in
it?

So it chanced in the end that a certain subdued love-light drove much of
the usual wistfulness from Eileen's eyes, and when unoccupied she would
steal oftener to the mountains or sit longer in the starlight on her
favourite seat by the Loch.  Her mother watched her a little anxiously,
but feared to do harm by speaking.  Paddy treated it all as a great
joke, and Jack, without in the least knowing why, felt a quite
unaccountable longing to duck Lawrence in the bay whenever he heard him
mentioned.  Then suddenly Mr Blake died, and everything was changed.
Lawrence, being very fond of his mother, rarely left her in her terrible
grief.  Finally, by the doctor's advice, he took her abroad, and the
beautiful, hospitable house was closed, to the loss of the whole
neighbourhood.  That was three years ago, and now they were coming back
once more, and it seemed likely that the old _regime_ would recommence.

To Eileen it was simply "he" was coming back.

She told the birds about it as she hastened up to her beloved nook, and
the little trickling streams, and the flowers, and the mountains that
towered all round.

She was so sure he was coming back to her.  Had he not lived in her
thoughts and been the central figure of her dreams ever since he went
away three years ago?  Was it likely it could have been otherwise with
him, after the way he had looked at her and sought her companionship?...
And now he was to love her so much more than before, for had she not
read and thought and studied, to make herself a fitter companion?  She
smiled to think what a little ignoramus she must have seemed to him
three years ago.  Of course she was that, compared to him, still, but
she had at least tried to educate herself to a higher plane and knew
that she had not tried altogether in vain.  "Will he know it at once, I
wonder?" she whispered to herself, sitting in her favourite attitude,
with her elbows on her knees and her chin sunk deep in her hands, gazing
at the deep blue of the distant sea.  "Will he be glad?  Is he feeling
as I feel now?--as if Heaven had somehow come down to earth and shed a
new loveliness over the mountains, and the valleys, and the sea?--as if
one must always be good because of the joy in the world, and make
everyone so happy that evil must eventually die out?"

Then she fell to dreaming golden dreams of love, and wonder, and
tenderness, till her eyes shone, and losing all consciousness of time
and space her soul carried her away into an unreal dreamland of ecstasy.

From this she was somewhat suddenly and forcibly awakened by the
apparition of a stalwart form, not in the least ethereal or dream-like,
with a gun on his shoulder and two brace of snipe in his hand.  He had,
moreover, emerald green on his stockings, a tan waistcoat, and a pale
green tie instead of a terra cotta one that had raised such objections
in the morning; and whatever Paddy or anyone else might like to say, he
formed as pleasing a picture of a typical young Briton as any one need
wish.  He expressed surprise at seeing Eileen, but not being a good
actor, any experienced ear would easily have detected that he had come
to that spot with the express hope of finding her.

"Have you been up here long?" he asked, throwing down the gun and the
birds in the heather and telling his spaniel to keep guard over them.

"About three hours, I should think," she replied, looking a little
askance at the gun.  "Is it unloaded?"

"Yes.  You're not afraid of it, are you?"

"N-no," slowly.  "Isn't it rather early to shoot snipe?"

"Yes, but there wasn't anything else."

"I thought you and Paddy were going across to Rostrevor this afternoon?"

"So we were, but we fell out."

"Has Paddy gone alone, then?"

"Yes.  She said she'd rather swim across than have to go in the same
boat with me."  And he smiled at the recollection.

Eileen smiled vaguely also, but she was not listening very attentively,
so she was not quite sure what she was smiling at.  She had
unconsciously slipped into her old attitude again, and, chin in hand,
was gazing out to sea.

Jack, having thrown himself down beside her, pulled at the heather in
silence, watching her secretly.  "What do you think about when you sit
here by yourself?" he asked suddenly.  "It seems as if it must be so
awfully slow."

"Oh, no, it isn't at all slow," she answered simply.

"But what do you think about?" he reiterated.

"I don't think I could explain," slowly, "except that it's just
everything."

There was a short silence, then he said:

"You and Paddy are very different, aren't you?"  And she smiled as she
answered in the affirmative.

"I shouldn't think sisters are often so different," he went on.  "Aunt
Jane and Aunt Mary are almost exactly alike.  There isn't much
difference between Kathleen and Doreen Blake, either," he added, as if
leading up to something, and then blurted out a little awkwardly, "I
suppose you're very glad they're coming back?"

"Yes," Eileen replied simply; "aren't you?"

Jack did not reply, but remarked instead:

"I don't suppose Lawrence will stay at home long.  This place is much
too tame for him."

Eileen only gazed fixedly at the distant sea.

"I can't say I think it will be much loss to the neighbourhood,"
continued outspoken Jack.  "He does fancy himself so."

"I don't think he does," she said.  "It is only that the people about
here do not appeal to him in some way, and so he stands aloof."

"We're not clever enough, I suppose; but we could give him points in a
good many things, all the same," a little savagely, biting at a piece of
string with his strong white teeth.  "What has he ever done beyond
taking a few degrees at Oxford?"

"You haven't even done that."  And Eileen turned to him suddenly, with
serious eyes.  She was the only one of all about him who ever took him
to task seriously about his idle life.  His aunts were too fond and too
indulgent, his father too wrapped up in his books and his loss, and
Paddy, being as irresponsible and happy-go-lucky herself, only thought
about the good time they were having in the present.  Eileen, however,
saw further, and sometimes tried to influence him.

He was silent now before the veiled reproach in her words, but
presently, with an irresistible little smile, he said.

"You wouldn't have me go away and leave Aunt Jane and Aunt Mary weeping
over my empty chair and old shoes and things, would you?"

"Perhaps you will have to go some day," she said.

"Yes, but why worry about it now?  Sufficient unto the day--"

"Yes; only you are wasting your best years."

"Oh, I don't think so, and I'm not doing any harm to anyone."

"You may be harming yourself."

"How?"

Eileen gazed dreamily before her, and presently said:

"You see, I don't think life is altogether meant to be just a playtime
for anyone.  We have to make our five talents ten talents."

"But not all in a great hurry at the beginning."

"It is possible to put things off too long, though."

"That's what Paddy said because I kept her waiting nearly half an hour
this afternoon.  She was very uppish," and again he smiled at the
recollection, and Eileen gave him up.

"You are quite incorrigible," she said.  "I might as well try and
inspire Kitty," and she patted the spaniel, now curled up beside them.

"Perhaps, but it really isn't worth while to worry now, it is?
Everything's so jolly, it would be a pity to spoil it.  You're so
serious and solemn, Eileen.  Paddy never bothers her head about any
mortal thing--why do you?"

"I expect I'm made that way.  It would not do for everyone to be the
same.  Shall we go home now?  We shall be just in time for tea."

He got up at once and shouldered his gun, starting ahead of her to clear
the brambles and stones out of her path, and turning to give her his
hand where the descent became difficult.  Had it been Paddy they would
have scrambled down at a breakneck pace together, and he would have
given no thought at all to her progress, for the simple reason that she
would only have scorned it if he had.

But Eileen, somehow, was different.  She was really quite as good a
climber as Paddy, and probably a much surer one, but on the other hand
she seemed more frail and dependent, and Jack liked helping her, even
though he knew she would get along quite as well by herself.

At the lodge gates they met the two aunts, and Eileen was promptly
carried off to the Parsonage to tea, the two little ladies at once
commencing to pour into her sympathetic ears an account of the sad fate
of one of their favourite cats as they went along.

"My dear, when we started out this afternoon," began Miss Jane, "we
heard a most heartrending cry in the bushes, and after hunting about, we
found such a pitiful object.  It was scarcely recognisable even to us."

"Not even to us," echoed Miss Mary sadly.

"It was actually poor dear Lionel, one of Lady Dudley's last kittens,"
continued Miss Jane, "and what do you think had happened to him?"

"Was he caught in a trap!" asked Eileen.

"Oh, far worse," in a tearful voice.  "Mary and I are feeling terribly
upset about it."

"Yes; quite upset," came the sad echo.

"Has he singed the end of his tail?" asked Jack with due solemnity, "or
has Lady Dudley been giving him a bad time because he stole her milk as
usual?"

"Worse, my dear Jack, worse still," with a mournful shake of both heads.
"He has fallen into a barrel of tar."  And the two little ladies stood
still suddenly, to further impress the terrible nature of the calamity.

"Oh, Christmas!" exclaimed Jack, unable to resist laughing, while Eileen
asked most anxiously, "But he got out again?"

"Yes, my dear, but think of the poor darling's condition!"

"What a home-coming!" said Jack irrelevantly.

"He was coated all over with tar," went on Miss Jane, now addressing
Eileen only, and ignoring Jack with contempt, "and he had tried to clean
himself, and of course, in licking his fur, had swallowed a lot of tar."

"Actually swallowed it," put in Miss Mary on the point of tears.

"And of course he was in a dreadful state, and probably in great pain,
so we put him in a basket and took his straight away to Dr Phillips."

"Tar must be very indigestible," murmured Jack.

"And did he cure him?" asked Eileen kindly.

"Alas, no: he said nothing could be done for him at all, and the kindest
thing would be to poison him at once."

A big tear rolled down Miss Mary's cheek.

"Poor Lionel," she murmured tenderly.

"_We_ buried him ourselves," finished Miss Jane, "under the cedar tree,
as close to the churchyard gate as we could put him."

"Much better have put him by the rhubarb," said Jack, for which Eileen
frowned at him over their heads, but instead of being in the least
ashamed of himself, he looked up at the clouds and murmured feelingly:
"Lady Dudley has still five living--let us be thankful for small
mercies."

CHAPTER FOUR.

PADDY'S ADVENTURE.

Meanwhile in a very ruffled frame of mind, not only because Jack had
kept her waiting half an hour, but also because she knew he had gone off
quite contentedly up the mountain to look for Eileen, when he found he
was in disgrace with her, Paddy trimmed her sail and sped across the
Loch to Rostrevor.  There was a fairly strong breeze, and the management
of the boat kept her busy, but when she landed at Rostrevor alone, she
had time to further anathematise Jack in her heart, and was in two minds
about going up to the Hendersons at all.  They had arranged to come over
for tennis, but somehow Paddy did not think she wanted to play.  She
felt as if she wanted to work off her ill-humour by doing something
daring, that would take her out of herself.  So it happened that she
stood on the quay irresolute and looked out to sea.  Her quick eye was
taking note of the wind and the tide, while her brain considered the
advisability of taking a little trip toward Greenore.  One half of her,
the wise half, said, "Don't go; the wind is too choppy."  The other half
said coolly, "All the more fun!  At the worst it would only mean a
ducking, as you can keep near enough to the land to swim ashore."  Then,
however, came the thought that Jack would certainly find out she had
given up the tennis because of him, and feel ever so pleased with
himself.  That, of course, would never do.  Whatever she had to put up
with in the way of tennis was better than giving Jack such a triumph
after his behaviour.

"I guess I'll do both," she said, "and I'll tell Jack it was the finest
tennis I ever had in my life."

Consequently she made fast the painter, reached her racquet, and made
her way briskly to the Hendersons, meaning to play one set and then get
back to the boat and have her sail.

Directly she appeared, she was hailed with a chorus of delight, and was
instantly claimed for a partner by four or five different players, from
whom she calmly made her choice like a young queen.

"I'm not going to play with you, Harry Armstrong," she said, "because
you poach too much.  Nor with you, Dick, because you're so slow--you
always reach the ball a second too late, and it's bad for my nerves.
And Basil Whitehead won't be serious enough.  I guess I'll play with
you, Bob," and she nodded to a shock-headed schoolboy of about fourteen,
all arms and legs, and feet.

"How just jolly, thundering fine!" he exclaimed excitedly.  "You are a
brick, Paddy; we'll knock them into a cocked hat, won't we!"

"You know the other girls here are such awful sillies," he remarked to
her confidentially, as they walked toward a vacant court.  "A fellow
can't have half a good time with a set like this.  They're no better
than a pack of schoolgirls," and he turned up his snub nose
contemptuously.

"Oh, well, of course! when a `man-about-town' like you comes along,"
said Paddy, "we all feel horribly countrified and shy and awkward.  It's
only natural, living away out here among the mountains."

"I suppose so," said Bob, hesitatingly, not quite sure whether she was
laughing at him or not.  "Still," brightening up, "they might be more
like you if they tried.  You know I think you're just an awfully jolly
girl," he finished with great condescension.

Paddy made him a mock bow.  "I'm sure I feel highly honoured," she said,
"but you mustn't tell the other girls, or they'd be frightfully jealous,
and hate me like anything."

"Well, you needn't mind that," he replied stoutly.  "I'll look after
you, and settle them pretty quick if they're cheeky."

"That's all right, then.  Let's set to work and win this set, because I
have an important engagement directly after tea."

Bob's face fell a little at this, but he quickly decided to make the
best of the prevailing good, and not worry about what came next.

But Paddy did not get away quite so quickly as she had intended, as
Kitty Irvine came and pulled her on one side to tell her an important
piece of news in confidence.

"Have you seen him?" she exclaimed in an eager undertone.  "Isn't he
perfectly scrumptious?"

"Seen who!" asked Paddy in bewilderment--"Who's perfectly scrumptious?"

"Why, Colonel Masterman's nephew, of course.  You must have heard about
him?"

"The Mastermans at Carlingford?" still unenlightened.

"Yes, Colonel Masterman has a nephew come to stay with them, from
London.  Fancy you not knowing!"

"Well, I think I did hear Jack say something about it; but I had quite
forgotten.  When did he come?"

"Only yesterday, but he was in Newry this morning, and bought a picture
post-card at the same time that I did."

"Ump!" expressively.  "I loathe picture post-cards.  He must be a
nincompoop, if he actually buys them."

"Not at all," asserted Kitty.  "He's probably going to send them home.
He's not exactly handsome, but he has got the loveliest smile, and such
a nice voice."

"Rubbish!" exclaimed Paddy, whose ill-humour was still not very far-off.
"A man with a lovely smile and a sweet voice is always a silly ass.  I
expect he curls his hair, and wears patent-leather boots, and lavender
kid gloves."

"You're very cross," from Kitty in an aggrieved tone; "I thought you'd
be pleased to hear there was likely to be some one fresh at the tennis
parties, to talk to."

"So I should be if they were jolly, but I'm sure this man isn't.  He
sounds just awful.  I loathe him already."

Kitty was silent for a moment, then she asked suddenly, "Where's Jack?"

"I don't know," with a fine air of indifference.  "He was so long
getting ready, that I just came across without him.  I must go back now,
as I'm alone, and if the wind gets up, I mightn't be able to manage the
boat.  Say good-by to Mrs Henderson for me--she's just in the middle of
a set," and without waiting for more, she slipped away unobserved, and
hurried down to the water's edge.

Loosening her boat quickly, she sprang in and pushed off, the light of
an adventure glowing in her eyes.

"Now to `breast the waves,' as Eileen puts it in her poetry," she said
gleefully, and headed for the open sea.

For about half an hour everything went well, in spite of the continued
freshening of the breeze.  Paddy trimmed her sail in a masterly fashion,
and felt so elated that she quite forgot her grievance of the afternoon,
and sang little "coon" songs to herself from joyousness.

Two or three times she met some old skipper who knew her well by sight,
and shouted a word of warning, about the breeze being very stiff out
beyond the bay--but she only called back a friendly good-day, and held
on her way.

As she neared Greenore she met another boat, not much bigger than her
own, which a young man was sailing, like herself, single-handed, and as
they passed he watched her with no small wonder.  He had himself started
off at mid-day in spite of various warnings concerning the choppiness of
the wind, but being a first-rate yachtsman he had no fear, and had even
gone out into the open sea beyond Greenore.  When, however, he met this
other small skiff, handled only by a mere girl, he could hardly believe
his own eyes, and could not help staring hard to make sure he was right.

"Upon my word!" he ejaculated mentally--"these Irish girls have some
pluck,"--but he instinctively loosened his sail, and let it flap idly,
while he turned with a half-anxious expression to watch her movements.

Paddy, already intoxicated with excitement, and what she had already
achieved, was becoming more and more rash; and when a sudden strong gust
caught her sail and nearly capsized her, the occupant of the other boat
gave a muttered exclamation, and prepared at once to turn round, with a
vague idea of hanging about in her vicinity.

He had scarcely got his bow toward her, when a second gust, a still
stronger one, caught her before she had quite recovered from the last,
and in less time than one can write, her boat was upside down, and she
herself struggling in the water.

"Hold on to the boat," shouted a voice near at hand; "I'll be with you
in a few seconds."

Paddy's first idea had been to swim for the shore, but at the sound of
the voice, she was glad enough to turn and cling to her capsized boat,
though with no small wonderment that anyone should be so near.

Then she recognised the little yacht bearing down on her, and saw that
the occupant must have turned some minutes before, and probably been
watching her.  A moment later he was helping her up the side, and she
stood before him, like a half-drowned rat--with the water pouring off
her in all directions.

For one moment they looked at each other silently, not quite sure how to
proceed, and then the humour of the situation became too much for Paddy,
and she burst out laughing, he immediately following suit, quite unable
to help himself.

"What in the name of wonder do I look like?" she said, glancing down at
her dripping skirt, and the streams of water all round.

"A little damp!" he suggested, and they laughed again.  "But you must be
awfully plucky and awfully rash," he added, not without admiration.

"Oh, yes!  I'm all that," asserted Paddy; "but I've got a charmed life,
so it doesn't matter.  I must look perfectly awful, though," and she
laughed again.

"Not at all," gallantly; "but I'm afraid you'll take cold.  Do you live
near?"

"Only at Omeath, but we shall have to tack, so it will take rather a
long time."

"I should think so," impressively.  "We'll go into Carlingford, and I'll
take you to my aunt's to get some dry clothes."

"Who is your aunt?" asked Paddy, inwardly admiring the skill with which
he managed his boat; and not a little also his broad shoulders and
frank, pleasant face.

"Mrs Masterman, at Dunluce."

"Goodness!" she exclaimed in surprise, without stopping to think.  "Are
you Colonel Masterman's nephew who came yesterday?"

"Yes, why?" looking up curiously.

Paddy found herself in a fix, and she flushed crimson, feeling ready to
bite her tongue out for being so hasty.

"Why?" he asked again, in a way that made her feel she must answer.

"Only that I heard something about you this afternoon," she stammered.

"And what did you hear?"

His grey eyes had an amused twinkle in them now, and there was something
so disarming about his smile; that with an answering twinkle in her own,
Paddy looked at him slyly and said:

"Oh! nothing much--only that you bought picture post-cards."

CHAPTER FIVE.

TED MASTERMAN.

"Was that all?" asked Ted Masterman, reaching across to tuck his
rain-proof coat, which he fortunately had with him, closer round her,
and looking still more amused.

"Not quite, but it's all I'm going to tell you," said Paddy.

"Oh, no, it isn't," with a smile; "you're going to tell me the rest."

"How do you know I am?" archly.

"Because people always have to do what I want them to."

"How very odd!" in feigned surprise; "that is exactly how it is with
me!"

"So I should imagine," looking into her laughing eyes with growing
interest.

"That's pretty of you," she said, "so I'll go on.  I was told you had a
lovely smile."

"Someone was a kindly judge then.  I wonder what you said."

The twinkle in Paddy's eyes literally shone.

"I said that if you bought picture post-cards and had a lovely smile you
must be a nincompoop."

Ted threw his head back and shouted with laughter, exclaiming, "That's
the best of all, and I quite agree with you!"  Then they ran up against
the landing-stage, and he hurried her out of the boat and along the road
to his aunt's as fast as she would go.

"My dear child!" was all Mrs Masterman said, when she saw her, and
without another word bustled her off upstairs, and flew to prepare a hot
bath.

"It's nothing new," she explained in answer to Ted's queries later,
shaking her head drolly.  "She's just the wildest harum-scarum that ever
breathed, and her father positively delights in it.  I must take you to
call.  He'll laugh himself nearly ill over this escapade, but for my
part, I think he would do better returning thanks for the multitudinous
times she has been given back to him, from the very gates of death."

"But she wouldn't have been drowned to-day, aunt.  She could have swum
ashore."

"She might have had cramp, or caught her death of cold, or a hundred
other things.  It's dreadful, to my thinking, for a girl to be so
absolutely a boy in everything.  But there! she's young yet, and I
daresay she'll improve by and by."

Ted, standing at the window with his hands in his pockets, staring
across the Loch, had an odd, inward conviction that there was no room
for improvement, but this he kept to himself, asking instead of her
father and home.

A little later, he made their acquaintance, as his aunt decided to keep
Paddy all night, and sent him to The Ghan House with a note of
explanation.  Jack and Eileen were just returning from the Parsonage as
he arrived, and while Mrs Adair read the note aloud to the General, out
on the lawn where they were sitting, the two young people sauntered up.

"Lord love us!" exclaimed the General gleefully; "was there ever such a
girl before!  Capsized, did she?--right out by Greenore!--managing the
boat alone, too!--and out there a day like this--by my faith a
good-plucked one!  Here, Jack! you young scoundrel! why weren't you out
with Paddy this afternoon?  Here she's been getting capsized right out
by Greenore and fished out of the water by this young man, while you
were wasting cartridges trying to hit snipe.

"Here's my hand, sir," turning to Ted and giving him a hearty
hand-shake, "and an old soldier's thanks and blessing, and if there's
anything I can do for you at any time just name it.  Lord! what a girl
she is!" he finished, and held his sides and shook with laughter.

Meanwhile Mrs Adair added her thanks in a low, eager voice, asking
anxiously after Paddy's welfare; and Jack took stock of the stranger
generally.

When he had finished reassuring Mrs Adair concerning her daughter, and
reasserting that he had really done nothing at all deserving of thanks,
Ted returned Jack's scrutiny with almost as great interest, wondering if
this handsome young Irishman were Paddy's brother.

"Let me introduce you to _my_ eldest daughter," said Mrs Adair.
"Eileen, this is Mr Masterman from Dunluce."

Eileen shook hands with her usual charming smile, and then Mrs Adair
introduced Jack, who, after a little further scrutiny, started on his
favourite topics of shooting and sailing, and finding Ted as interested
as himself, they quickly became good friends.

"Your daughter called out something about returning in the morning," Ted
said to Mrs Adair, as he prepared to leave.  "Some fishermen have been
out for the boat this afternoon, so very likely she will return in it."

"Perhaps you will accompany her," said Mrs Adair at once.  "_We_ shall
be delighted to see you to lunch if you will."

Ted thanked her and accepted the invitation gladly, then hurried back
with various portions of Paddy's belongings to Carlingford, hoping
vaguely that she might have insisted upon getting up and coming down to
dinner.  Manlike, he had quite forgotten she could hardly appear without
a dress, and he felt quite unreasonably disappointed when he found the
table only laid for three, and he and his uncle and aunt sat down
together.

"I took the precaution of locking Paddy's door," Mrs Masterman
remarked, as they sat down.  "I know what a terror she is to manage, and
after such a wetting it is most important that she should remain in bed
for the rest of the day."

She had scarcely finished speaking when an apparition in the doorway,
clothed in an assortment of odds and ends of borrowed garments, and with
a face wreathed in smiles, remarked: "I wish roses hadn't thorns.
Coming down the spout was child's play, but the beastly thorns on the
rose creeper have quite spoilt my elegant hands."

Mrs Masterman's arms went up in horror, but the depressed rescuer was
instantly all smiles likewise, while he made room for her in his seat.

"If you'd known me as well as my own father does," Paddy replied to her
hostess' expostulations, "you'd as soon have thought of putting me down
the well, as locking me in a `common or garden' bedroom.  There's always
a spout, or a coping, or a bow-window with leads, or something.  How do
you do, Colonel Masterman?" extending her hand graciously.  "I couldn't
be expected to stay upstairs, with such delicious odours coming from the
kitchen, could I now?"

"Why, of course not, of course not," exclaimed her host, who vied with
her father in enjoying all her adventures; "you must be very hungry
after such an adventure."

"I should just think I am--_ravenous_!"

"But my dear, there is a tray all ready for you, and I was just going to
send your dinner upstairs."

"I know you were, and you are very sweet and kind, but I've got an odd
failing about meals.  I simply can't eat, however hungry I am, if I'm
alone.  It's quite terrible, you know," looking abnormally serious.  "I
might be ready to eat myself with hunger, and if I'm all alone I
couldn't take one single bite."

"A lucky thing for yourself," laughed Colonel Masterman, "though not,
perhaps, for anyone who chanced to be with you--for you'd be quite
certain to begin on them first."

"It would depend upon who it was, and if they were nice and plump."

"Oh, my dear," exclaimed Mrs Masterman in a shocked voice; "what a
dreadful idea!"

"Then we'll change the subject," said Paddy, adding roguishly, "Do you
like picture post-cards, Mr Masterman?"

"I think people are very wanting in taste and very out-of-date who
don't," he answered promptly; "but perhaps in an out-of-the-way place
like this you have not yet seen many?"

"On the contrary," sweetly, "we have seen so many that we are positively
sick of the very sight of them.  I'm thinking of starting a society,
like the one in New York, for suppressing the tune called `Hiawatha,'
only mine will be directed against the post-card craze."

"But I think they are so beautiful," said Mrs Masterman, looking up
from her plate with a puzzled expression.  "Really! sometimes I can
hardly tear myself away from Linton's, they have such beautiful
specimens."

"No?  Well, you must take Mr Masterman with you to-morrow.  He'll
simply love it, and he won't know how to tear himself away either.
Colonel Masterman will have to come by the next train to try and lure
you both home again."

Ted Masterman's expression had a "wait-till-I-catch-you" air, but she
only went off into an airy description of her youthful admirer on the
tennis court, which lasted until the two elder ones retired to their
books, leaving her and Ted to amuse each other over their coffee in the
conservatory.  Paddy at once opened fire with a cross-examination.

"So you live in London?" she remarked; "seems to me one might as well
live in a coal mine."

"Oh, come! that's rather strong; London is a grand place."

"It's a good thing you think so, since you live there.  I loathe the
very name of it."

"But why?"

"Why?  Everything's why.  Look at the dirt, and the smoke, and the
smuts," in a tone of unutterable disgust.  "On a fine day the poor sun
struggles to shine through the atmosphere, and only succeeds in giving a
pale, sickly glow, and on a wet day the clouds appear to literally rest
on the house-tops and rain-smuts.  If you look up, you see nothing but
roofs and chimneys, and if you look down, you see nothing but
paving-stones and basements, and if you look round generally, you see
little else but pale, sickly, tired people all trampling on each other
to live."

"Didn't you ever look in the shops?"

"Yes, and I got so sick of them, I just longed to go inside the windows
and jumble everything up into a heap anyhow, and then write a big 1
shilling 11 pence farthing over the whole lot.

"The only thing I really enjoyed," running on, "was the front seat on
the top of an omnibus, with a talkative driver.  That was always funny,
whether he discoursed on politics, or religion, or the aristocracy; or
expressed himself forcibly on motor-cars and the `Twopenny Tube.'  Do
you use the Tube much?"

"Nearly every day of my life."

"Goodness!--and you still live!  Don't you think Dante must wish he had
thought of a Tube for his Inferno?  It must be like Heaven to come here
and sniff our lovely mountain air all day long.  I wonder you don't go
about with your nose in the air too busy sniffing to speak."

"It reminds one of what one might imagine Heaven, in various ways," he
said, with smiling innuendo.

"Eileen and mother might stand for the angels," she ran on, "and Jack
for the prodigal son or penitent sinner."

"And where would you be?"

"Well, I guess I'd be most useful helping Saint Peter keep the door,"
looking wicked, "but perhaps I shouldn't be admitted at all.

"Not but that I'd stand as good a chance as Jack," she finished with a
decisive air.

"Is Jack Mr O'Hara?"

"Yes.  He lives at the Parsonage next door to us."

"And you've known him all your life?"

"Every single bit of it.  I can remember hitting him in the face, and
kicking at him generally, as soon as I can remember anything."

"Then I suppose you've made up for it all since."

"Oh, dear no! except to hit harder as I grew stronger."

"He's very handsome," said Ted a little thoughtfully.  "He's Irish,"
replied Paddy promptly.

"Ah, yes!  I forgot," slyly; "it covers a multitude of sins, doesn't it,
to be Irish?"

"We usually call them virtues!" she rapped out, quick as lightning, and
then they both laughed, and a moment later the Colonel was heard calling
to them to come and play Bridge with him.

The following morning they sailed back together, and Ted was made to
remain, much to his delight, for the rest of the day.  They played
tennis all the afternoon, and then, after having tea on the lawn, rowed
across the Loch to Warrenpoint to listen to the Pierrots.  When they
came to sit quietly, however, everything did not continue quite so
smoothly.  Jack had been playing tennis with Paddy most of the
afternoon, because it made more even games, but now he manifested a
marked desire to talk to Eileen, just as Ted, who had been playing with
Eileen, wanted now to talk to Paddy.  With the usual contrariness of
events, Eileen was perfectly indifferent which of the two she talked to,
but Paddy, a little upset by her old playfellow's growing predilection
for her quiet sister, wanted to talk to Jack.

The time had hardly come yet for Paddy to realise just why she was
upset.  She only knew that Jack somehow stood alone in her little world,
and felt vaguely that no future could be happy without him.

For a little while she succeeded in keeping the conversation general,
but as Eileen grew more and more dreamy, and Jack silent, she finally
tossed her head, told them they were the dullest pair she had ever the
misfortune to be out with, and went for a walk along the front with Ted.

Meanwhile, left to themselves, Jack again introduced a certain topic
constantly in his mind.

"The Blakes came back to-day," he said suddenly; "they crossed last
night."

Eileen gave a little start, and was silent a moment.

"How do you know?" she asked at last.

"Barrett, at the station, told me they were in the boat train."

"How many of them?" trying to speak naturally.

"All, Mrs Blake, Kathleen, Doreen, and Lawrence."

There was a pause, then he added, "I suppose Lawrence has just come to
settle them in."

Eileen remained silent.  The news had taken her by surprise, as she had
not expected them for a week or two, and she felt her pulses throbbing
oddly.

Then an unaccountable presentiment that Lawrence was somewhere near took
possession of her, and, making some excuse about feeling cold, she got
up to follow Paddy and Ted Masterman along the front.  Jack, wishing
very much to remain as they were, was obliged to get up also, and they
walked briskly in the direction of Rostrevor.

They had not gone far before Eileen caught her breath a little, at the
sight of two figures coming toward them.

Nearer they came and nearer, the girl chatting merrily, and the man
listening with languid amusement.  Eileen felt herself watching--
watching--for the upward glance, the recognition, the pleased greeting.

They were almost together now--he looked up--the recognition came
instantly, but a second later, Lawrence Blake had raised his hat and
passed on with a bow.

CHAPTER SIX.

LAWRENCE BLAKE.

While Paddy and Jack were sitting on the table a week previously,
swinging their feet and discussing the news of the Blakes' home-coming,
just brought by Aunt Mary and Aunt Jane, Lawrence Blake, in his own
special sanctum in Cadogan Place, lounged in a big arm-chair, and
considered the interesting subject of his own boredom.  He was
particularly bored with his mother and his two sisters.  Having seen a
good deal of them in the last three years, he was anxious for a spell of
existence without them.

And now his mother wanted him to go across to Ireland with them before
his projected tour to India.  And it was so beastly damp and dull in
Ireland--so altogether unpleasant.  Then there would be this tiresome
"coming-out" dance of the girls; such a fatuously idiotic idea to have a
preliminary "coming-out" at home, and then repeat it in grander measure
in London.  He didn't mind going out of his way occasionally to please
his mother, but to be bothered with Doreen and Kathleen was too much to
expect.  To his august personality they were so young, and crude, and
foolish.  He told himself he was bored to death with their aimless
vapourings, and this time he must really follow his own inclinations,
and let them go to Ireland without him--at which decision he got up
leisurely, and prepared to stroll round to the club.

But almost at the same moment, the door opened, and a soft voice said,
"Are you here, Lawrence?"

An antique Egyptian screen of beautiful workmanship hid the interior of
the room from the door, and it was not until an intruder had passed it,
he could tell if the room were occupied or not.

"I am," replied Lawrence casually; "but I am just going out."

Mrs Blake closed the door and advanced into the room, seating herself
in the big chair he had vacated.

"I want you to come to Ireland with us," she began at once, with a note
of persuasion in her voice.  "There is so much you ought to see to on
the estate, before you start off again travelling."

Lawrence remained standing on the hearthrug.

"May I smoke!" he asked, with a mixture of indifference and courtesy
that was entirely typical of him.

His mother inclined her head, and looked anxiously into his face.

It was, perhaps, noticeable that, in spite of his non-responsive manner,
she in no wise appeared abashed, merely reiterating her request.

But then who should know a man better than his mother, if she happen to
have been blessed with discernment?  With Lawrence and Mrs Blake this
was emphatically the case, hence the direct opening of the subject,
without any preliminary leading up.  Mrs Blake knew when she came to
the smoke-room that he had made up his mind not to go; she knew that he
would be politely unresponsive and calmly difficult.  As a matter of
fact, he almost always was, but she had found that directness was better
than any amount of circumvention, and, though he could not be driven, he
could just occasionally be led.

"Why do you want me to go?" he asked.  "It only causes dissension, and
you know more about the estate than I do."

"Perhaps.  But I ought not.  Do you never intend to take it in hand?"

"I did not think of doing so, until most other things had failed."

She was a clever woman, who had won through a good deal of stress and
difficulty, with a husband she adored and a son she worshipped, both of
whom had been what is generally described as "peculiar tempered."  If
she had cared for either of them less, the home would have been
pandemonium.  Fortunately for all concerned, her love had stood every
test, and her natural cleverness had been content to expend itself on
tactfully managing her male belongings.  The people who had only a
superficial insight, and were at considerable pains to pity her, might
have saved their sympathy.  Mrs Blake was eminently no object for
condolence.  A clever woman must have some outlet for her cleverness,
and why not direct it toward managing two interesting, if difficult,
specimens of the male sex?  If she truly loves them, what could be more
engrossing, and what reward more enthralling, than the intervals of
devotion and tenderness won by consummate tact?  Certainly, these had
never been missing; both men, below the surface awkwardness and
obstinacy, unswervingly returned her devotion.

It was the other members of the household who suffered generally, and
felt aggrieved at the male belongings with which they had been saddled.
It was in allusion to this that Mrs Blake now remarked:

"Kathleen and Doreen would not quarrel with you, if you spared them your
sarcasms."

"Kathleen and Doreen are silly little fools," coldly.

"It is only that they don't understand you," she told him, "and you must
remember they are very young.  Of course you often aggravate them
purposely, when you are not pointedly indifferent to their very
existence, and they are quite justified in resenting it."

"Then why not let well alone, and go to Ireland without me?"

"This dance is to be a sort of family affair, and I want you to be
present."

He shrugged his shoulders, and his thin, clever face broke into a
half-satirical smile; "You don't want me to aggravate the girls with my
presence, but you want me to be there.  Couldn't I please you best by
promising to be there in spirit?"

"Why don't you want to come?" ignoring his flippant air.

"Why do you want to go?" he retaliated.

"We have been absent so long and I must bring the girls back to town for
the winter.  It is a good opportunity to put in two months there."

"My dear mother, Mourne Lodge has got on so nicely without us for three
years, it will quite safely manage to exist until July.  I dislike
rushing about needlessly.  In an age of exclamation stops and
interrogation marks, couldn't you support me in trying to be a semicolon
for a little while?"

She smiled, but refused to humour him.

"You are to come, Lawrie," she said, getting up, "and you are to try and
be nice to the girls.  Perhaps if you were to forget they were sisters?"
significantly.

"They will not allow me to.  No one but sisters would go out of their
way to be so persistently aggravating."

"Except a brother," with a little smile.

"Perhaps; but the brother, you must remember, is not always there from
choice."

"Well, you won't see much of each other in Ireland, as they will be out
all day with their own friends.  Come, Lawrence--put up with us for a
few weeks longer; your companionship will mean so much to me."

And it was then one of those swift and sudden changes transformed his
face, as it had done the face of his father, and made everything worth
while.  He bent down with a look of fond amusement, and kissed her
forehead.

"I don't know why in the world I went to the trouble of making up my
mind not to come," he said; "I should have saved my energy, realising
that a wilful woman always has her way."

Mrs Blake smiled a little wistfully, and moved toward the door, which
he hastened to open for her.  She was thinking if only she could conjure
up that lightning smile, with its extraordinary charm, a little oftener,
or if only he would--

But what was the use of expecting Lawrence to be rational and
considerate.  Had he ever been?  He was tired of gaiety, yet he hated
monotony.  Tired of idleness, yet indifferent to his estate.  Tired of
flirting, yet averse to considering marriage.  Full of latent
possibilities of achieving, that he was too indolent to develop.  She
hoped someone, or something, would sting him alive some day, but at
present he persisted in adopting the _role_ of the _blase_ looker-on,
and no one appeared to have any influence over him whatever.

For his part, left alone, Lawrence once more sank into the roomy,
inviting-looking chair, instead of going out, and watched his cigarette
smoke with a cogitating air.

He was thinking of Eileen Adair.

She had probably grown prettier than ever since he last saw her, and he
had an artist's appreciation of beauty.  He was glad that she would be
there.  Her high-flown idealistic sentiments would probably be somewhat
boring, but, on the other hand, she was simple and natural, with a
simpleness and naturalness that were decidedly refreshing for a change.
And then there was that young fool, Jack O'Hara, at the rectory, who
could look such outspoken dislike, and seemed to develop rather a sudden
fancy for Eileen whenever Lawrence was winning her smiles, and he,
himself, overlooked.  It would be rather amusing to annoy him.

Yes, since he must go to humour his mother, he was glad Eileen would be
there.  They would go on where they left off for a little while.  He was
not quite sure at what stage that was, but it involved many very sweet,
serious upward glances from a pair of exceedingly beautiful eyes, and
some enlightening on his part that was entertaining, because so
surprising.  Of course he would be circumspect, and not intentionally
mislead her.  He would, in fact, make a point of shocking her, partly
for her own sake, and partly, because, when a girl became fond of him,
she usually bored him to extinction at once.  After which, he once more
got up and prepared to go to the club.

"I shall not be in to dinner," he told the butler as he went out, having
forgotten to mention the fact to his mother, and half an hour later he
was making a fourth at bridge at a table called the Monte Carlo table,
because the players always played for specially high stakes; and, except
with an interval for dinner, would continue until the early hours of the
morning.

And on the mountain side, Eileen was dreaming, and Jack was trying to
fathom her, and both were alike in vain.

CHAPTER SEVEN.

LAWRENCE FINDS EILEEN ON THE SHINGLES.

For several paces after the encounter at Warrenpoint, neither Jack nor
Eileen spoke, and though he tried hard to see her face, she kept it
resolutely turned from him toward the Loch.

"Is Mr Blake's friend someone staying with them?" she asked at last.

"I expect so," he answered.  "I don't remember ever seeing her before."

Eileen was feeling a little sick and dazed, so when they met Paddy and
Ted Masterman, she suggested at once that they should return home, and
Paddy, feeling irritated with things in general, agreed with alacrity.

"Oh, by the way," she remarked later, as they were going up to bed, "Mr
Masterman and I met Lawrence Blake with that Harcourt girl, who used to
stay with them.  She's a cousin or something, don't you remember?
Lawrence used to say she could talk as fast as three ordinary women in
one, but that as she never expected to be answered, it was rather a
rest, because you needn't listen.  That's how he looked to-night; as if
he were taking a rest."

"Are you sure it was Miss Harcourt?  I didn't recognise her."

"Quite sure.  She looks very different with her hair up, that's all.  I
should have stopped them, but I heard her say they were very late, and
they seemed in a hurry, so I didn't."

Eileen turned away in silence, but a weight was lifted off her mind.

The following day, as she was sitting reading by the water, while Jack
and Paddy were out fishing, a firm step on the shingle suddenly roused
her, and Lawrence himself approached.

"How do you do?" he said, with a pleasant smile.  "I came down here
before going up to the house, rather expecting to find some of you such
a beautiful afternoon."

Eileen shook hands simply, with the usual greetings, but a lovely flood
of colour, that she could not control, spread over her face, and was
noted with a certain amount of gratification by Lawrence's experienced
eye.

"It's pleasant to be seeing old friends again," he said.  "May I sit
down?"

She moved to make more room for him, and asked at once after his mother
and sisters.

"Mother is very well," he said, "and the girls are full of frocks and
hair-dressing.  There's to be a big dance next month, and I suppose I
shall have to stay for it."

"Were you going away again, then?"

"I rarely stay long anywhere," a little ambiguously.

"Have you decided where to go?"

"Not quite.  I shall not decide until a few days before starting, I
expect.  But how is everybody at The Ghan House?  Does his lordship of
the rectory hate me as cordially as ever?  I see Paddy has not yet
managed to get herself transported to a better clime."

While Eileen replied to his questions, her slender white hands played a
little nervously with a flower, and her deep eyes fluttered between the
distant mountains and her companion's face.  She felt he was studying
her, and knew there was admiration in his eyes, and her heart felt
foolishly glad.

"Have we been away three whole years?" he said presently.  "How strange!
It seems like three months now I am back.  Shall I find everyone as
unchanged as you, Eileen?"

"I am three years older," she said, with a little smile.

"Yes, but there are some people to whom the years make very little
difference.  I think you are one of them."

"Yet I feel different."

"How?" looking at her keenly.

"It wouldn't be easy to describe.  It is just different, that's all,"
and she gazed a little wistfully toward the mountains.

"I expect you are getting too thoughtful," he said.

"You ought to go away somewhere, and see something of the world outside
these mountains."

"I am very fond of the mountains," she told him simply.  "I don't want
to go away.  I do not think any place could be as lovely as this."

"That is where you are wrong.  I acknowledge the scenery among these
mountains is very beautiful, but there are heaps of equally and indeed
more beautiful places in the world.

"The only thing is one gets tired," relapsing into a languid manner,
that Eileen could not but see had gained upon him during his absence.
"I'd give something not to have seen, nor heard, nor learned, more than
you have.  To have it all before me, instead of all behind."

"But surely,"--leaning forward with ill-concealed eagerness--"the future
is just brimming over with interest and possibilities for you."

"Why for me particularly?"

"I was thinking of your brains, and your money, and your position--why
you have everything to make life interesting."

He shrugged his shoulders, and the expression on his thin cynical mouth
was not pleasant.

"Oh, I don't know about that.  It's too much bother altogether.  I've
seen behind the scenes too much to care; it's all rather rotten at the
core, you know--everything is."

Eileen looked pained, and gazed away to her beloved mountains.  "I am
sorry you feel like that," she said simply; "it is all so beautiful to
me."

"Just at present perhaps--but by and by--"

"I hope it will be, by and by also.  Anyhow, I shall still have my
mountains."

"And after all they're nothing in the world but indentations and
corrosions on the crust of a planet, that is one in millions."

There was a pause, then she asked slowly: "Is that how you look upon
human beings?"

"Yes, more or less.  You can't deny we are only like midges, coming from
nowhere, and vanishing nowhere; or at best, ants hurrying and scurrying
over an ant-hill.  `Life is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and
fury, signifying nothing.'"

"Ah, no! no!" she cried, turning to him with a beseeching look in her
eyes.  "If that were so, where would be the use of all its sacrifices,
and conquests, and nobleness?"

"Where is the use of them?" in callous tones.

She looked at him blankly a moment, then got up and walked to the
water's edge, feeling almost as if he had struck her.

After a moment he followed, and stood beside her, idly tossing pebbles
into the water.

"Take my advice, Eileen," he said, "and don't get into the way of caring
too much about things.  It's a mistake.  Later on, your feelings will
only turn, and hit you in the face."

"And what is it your favourite poet, Browning, says?" she repeated half
to herself--

  "One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward,
          Never doubted clouds would break,
  Never dreamed though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
      Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
          Sleep to wake."

"It sounded well," he sneered.  "No doubt if I were to write a novel it
would be full of beautiful sentiments that sounded well--and I should
care that for them in my heart," and he snapped his fingers carelessly.

She looked up and descried Jack and Paddy coming over the Loch toward
them.

"Here are the others," she said, almost with an air of relief.  "They
have just seen us and are coming in."

"Hullo!" cried Paddy, as they came within earshot.  "I hope your Serene
Highness is well."

"Very well, thank you," replied Lawrence, giving her his hand as the
boat reached the landing-stage.  "I was just remarking to your sister,
that you had not succeeded in getting yourself transported to a better
clime yet!"

"No, the old proverb seems to be reversed in my case, I am not too good
to live, but too good to die."

"Or else too bad, and so you are always getting another chance given
you," remarked Jack.

"Be quiet, Jack O'Hara, for the pot to call the kettle black is the
height of meanness.  Come out of that boat and say `how do you do'
prettily to this great man from abroad," and her brown eyes shone
bewitchingly.

Everybody in the neighbourhood teased Paddy, and Lawrence was no
exception.

"'Pon my soul!" he exclaimed with feigned surprise, "I believe you're
growing pretty, Paddy."

"Nothing so commonplace," tossing her small head jauntily.  "What you
take for mere prettiness is really _soul_.  I am developing a
high-minded, noble, sanctified expression; as I consider it very
becoming to my general style of conversation.  Father thinks it is
`liver,' but that unfortunately is his lack of appreciation, and also
his saving grace for all peculiarities."

"I should call it pique," said Jack, "if by any chance I was ever
treated to a glimpse of anything so utterly foreign in the way of
expressions, on your physiognomy."

"Oh, _you_ wouldn't recognise it," was the quick retort.  "`Like to
like' they say; and I never find it is any use employing anything but my
silliest and most idiotic manner and expression with you.

"But with Lawrence, of course," running on mischievously, "it is only
the high-souled and the deeply intellectual that he is in the least at
home with.  Witness his companion last night, with whom he was so
engrossed he could not even stop and shake hands with old friends from
cradlehood."

"To tell you the honest truth," said Lawrence, "my cousin, Miss
Harcourt, had got so thoroughly into the swing of some extraordinary
harangue, which required nothing but an ejaculation every five minutes
from me, and seemed to go delightfully on without any further attention
whatever, that it would have been downright cruelty to interrupt such a
happy state of affairs.  I knew I should be seeing you all to-day, and
at the last moment my heart failed me.  I might add that the harangue
lasted until we got home, and a final ejaculation on the door-step, with
a fervent `by Jove,' satisfied, her beyond my best expectations.  If my
life had depended upon it, I could not have told anyone what she had
been talking about."

"It must simplify life tremendously, to have such a perfect indifference
to good manners," said Paddy, who could never resist a possible dig at
Lawrence.

To her, he was the essence of self-satisfied superiority, and she
apparently considered it one of her missions in life to bring him down
to earth as much as possible.  Lawrence found it on the whole amusing,
and was not above sparring with her.

"You are improving," he remarked, with a condescension he knew would
annoy her; "that is a really passable retort for you."

"I am glad that you saw the point.  I was a little afraid you might have
grown more dense than ever, after being absent from Ireland so long."

"Ah!  Lawrence Blake!" exclaimed a voice close at hand, as the General
and Mrs Adair joined them from a side walk.  "How are you?  I'm very
glad to see you back again.  We all are, I'm sure," and he bowed with
old-world courtliness.

Lawrence thanked him, and walked on a few paces with Mrs Adair to
answer her warm inquiries for his mother and sisters.

Afterward he told them about the dance to take place shortly, for his
sisters' "coming out" and left Paddy doing a sort of Highland Fling with
Jack round the tennis court to let off her excitement.  She tried to
make her sister join in, but Eileen only smiled a little wistfully, and
when no one was looking, stole off by herself to the seat down by the
water, where Lawrence had found her in the afternoon.

There she sat down and leaned her chin on her hand, and gazed silently
at the whispering Loch.

Was she glad or sad?

She hardly knew.

She could not forget the unmistakable admiration in his eyes, and yet--
and yet--

"Like midges coming from nowhere and vanishing nowhere, or wits hurrying
and scurrying over an ant-hill," she repeated vaguely.  "Ah! he could
not have meant that--surely--surely he could not...  For if so, what
could one ant be to him more than another?"

For a moment her heart was heavy, then she remembered his fondness for
his mother and took comfort again.

"It is only that someone or something has disappointed him," she told
herself, "and it has made him bitter and cynical, but it is only a
passing mood.  By and by he will change again, and perhaps I can help
him.

"Yes," her eyes glowed softly, "perhaps I can help him to find faith
again, and to be happy instead of hard and indifferent."

The stars came out and a crescent moon hung over the mountains.

The night was gloriously beautiful--gloriously still--and a deep
restfulness stole over her spirit.  In the deep, silent depths of her
Celtic imagination, in which dwelt ever paramount, before all, that
divine love of beauty which imbues a too often prosaic world with a
vague wonder of loveliness, and fair promise, she saw only the heights
to which men might rise, and the power of goodness, and held to her
ideals in the face of all destroying.

She was aroused at last by a step approaching over the shingle that was
so like the step of the afternoon that she started and held her breath
in wondering expectation.

But it was only Jack, seeking for her with anxious qualms about the damp
night air, and a certain glow in his eyes when he found her, which might
have told her many things, had she had leisure to observe it.

"You had better come in, Eileen," he said simply.  "It is too damp to
sit by the water.  I have been looking for you everywhere; I was so
afraid you would take cold."

She got up at once, and with a murmured word of thanks, followed him
silently to the house, still lost in a far-off dream of happiness.

CHAPTER EIGHT.

PADDY'S PIGS.

A spell of beautiful autumn weather brought Lawrence often to the beach
as of old to get his boat, but Kathleen and Doreen no longer accompanied
him.  They were not asked, and had they been would have declined the
honour.  A nameless feud was waging between the _dilettante_ brother and
the two lively Irish girls, scarcely less wild than Paddy, who resented
his cool superiority and cutting sarcasms to their inmost core.

It did not interfere with anyone's pleasure, however, as they had hosts
of friends all over the countryside, and Lawrence preferred having
Eileen to himself.  It was hardly realised by the elders that with so
many young folks about two should have much opportunity of being alone,
or a little more discretion might have been shown.  They were all
supposed to be out together, and probably were at the start-off, but a
moment's thought might have suggested Paddy and Jack most unlikely
occupants of Lawrence's trim yacht.

However, they were mellow, dreaming days, and an atmosphere of peaceful
dreaminess seemed to pervade them all--like the calm before a storm.

To do Lawrence justice, he did not go out of his way to win Eileen's
love.  On the contrary, he did go a little out of his way to shock her,
but since she possessed divination enough to realise something of this,
it had the opposite effect.  She was so simple and natural herself that
she was incapable of understanding deception.  She believed Lawrence
wanted her to know him at his worst--to know all the thoughts he
harboured so directly opposed to her dearest beliefs--and so let her
love him as he was instead of as she would have him.

And the mere idea only stimulated her love.  Pained she inevitably was,
but the offered up her pain at the shrine of Love, and went deeper into
the maze.

If Lawrence dimly perceived this, he blinded himself to it.  To him
love-making was a very different process to this calm interchange of
ideas, and he certainly refrained from much that he would not have
thought twice about with any other pretty girl who interested and
pleased him.  Could any more be expected?  No one could ever say he made
love to Eileen.  He did not make love to her, but he sought her
companionship beyond all other, and looked his admiration of her quiet
loveliness, regardless that to such as she these delicate attentions
were almost a declaration.  For the rest, a man must have something to
amuse him, and her _naivete_ really was rather refreshing, and of course
it wouldn't hurt her to learn a little more about the world generally
from a less narrowed horizon.  So he sought her day by day, and made no
further allusion to that projected Eastern tour, till Eileen forgot all
about it, and waited in a dreaming ecstasy for her joy to take actual
shape.

The only two who seemed at first to scent danger were the harum-scarums,
Paddy and Jack.  Such glorious days could not, of course, be wasted in a
piffling little sail on the Loch or mooning on the beach, but there was
time occasionally for a passing thought of the two who sailed and mooned
so contentedly.

"I can't think why Eileen doesn't pack him off," Paddy said once.  "He
makes me want to stamp, with his calm superiority.  Fancy spending hours
listening to the drivel he talks when she might be ratting with us,"--
which somewhat remarkable comparison would no doubt have rather
astonished the Oxford B.A.

As a matter of fact, he was enlightened with it the following day, for
while leaving The Ghan House to go home, he was suddenly knocked nearly
silly by a flying, furious apparition, who charged into him round a
sharp corner, carrying a blackthorn in one hand and a ferret in the
other.

For one second Paddy regarded him with unmistakable disgust for staying
her progress, then her face suddenly grew excited again, as she
exclaimed: "There! there, see, there it goes.  Come on--we'll have him
yet," and dragging the astonished Lawrence after her, charged on down
the hill.  "Here! you take the ferret," she gasped, "but mind how you
hold him.  He bites like old Nick," and she thrust the offensive little
beast into his hand.  Lawrence took it with as good a grace as he could!
command, and when they ran the rat to earth exhibited a momentary
enthusiasm nearly equal to hers.

"There!" said Paddy, holding up the slaughtered vermin, with shining
eyes.  "Wasn't that a good catch?"

"Very.  What shall I do with this!" and Lawrence held up the ferret,
with which he had again been unceremoniously saddled, with a comical air
of martyrdom.

"Put it in your pocket for the present," promptly "or are you afraid of
spoiling the shape of your coat?" with a scornful inflection, as he
looked vaguely disgusted.

"You can put it so, if you like," he retorted, "though.  I have many
other coats."

"What's the matter with Peter?" eyeing the ferret affectionately.  "He's
a beauty--if only he didn't bite so.  I'll take him, if you like.  Come
along back to the barn and I'll find you another blackthorn.  You can't
think what sport it is.  Fancy sitting in a spick and span little yacht,
that could hardly turn over if it tried, and talking about stuffy,
uninteresting people like Browning and Carlyle, when you might be
_ratting_!"  Leading the way up the hill again.

"Fancy!" ejaculated Lawrence.  "You must really take me in hand.  I'm
afraid my education has been guided into foolish and worthless
channels."

"You needn't bother to be sarcastic," hurrying on, with her eyes eagerly
on the barn.  "It's all wasted on me.  I know what's life and fun.  You
only know a lot of useless stuff that someone thought about life a long
time ago, I don't know how Eileen has the patience to listen to you.
Come on,"--growing more excited--"Jack and Mr Masterman have evidently
unearthed some more!"

"I bow to your superior wisdom," with a little smile that made his face
suddenly almost winsome, and straightway threw himself heart and soul
into the ethics of ratting, noting with a slight amusement, the big,
cheery Ted Masterman's evident predilection for the fair ratter.

But it was over Paddy's adventure with the pigs that he won his first
real spark of approval from her.

Paddy and Jack had a great friend near by in the person of one Patrick
O'Grady, who farmed a small farm with an Irishman's dilatoriness, helped
therein by the two playmates.  Paddy had sown seed for him, ploughed,
harrowed, and dug potatoes--Jack likewise--both considering it their
due, in return, to be consulted on all matters pertaining to the farm.
This was how it came about that Paddy was mixed up in the sale of the
pigs.  She was at the farm when the disposal of those forty-five young
pigs was discussed, and naturally took an active part in the impending
decision.  It was finally decided they should be sold by auction at the
next market, and Paddy should mingle with the crowd--Jack also, if
procurable,--to run up the prices.  She also undertook to turn up the
previous afternoon, bringing Jack with her, to help to catch the
forty-five little pigs and put them in a wagon.  When they arrived on
the day in question they were first of all regaled with tea by Patrick
O'Grady's housekeeper, who was commonly called Dan'el, though whether
from her transparent fearlessness of all things living, or because her
enormous bulk was supported on feet that could only, under ordinary
circumstances, belong to a big man, remains a mystery.  Paddy had once
remarked that if you were out in a storm with Dan'el it didn't matter
about having no umbrella, because if you got to the leeward side you
were sheltered same as if you were up against a house, but that, of
course, was a little of Paddy's Irish exaggeration.  Howbeit, having
finished tea, the farmer piloted them all to the big barn into which he
had driven the pigs ready for catching.

"I thought we'd have 'em all together here," he remarked, "but 'tis a
pity there's no door to close the entrance."

"Never mind," said Paddy slyly, "Perhaps if there had been you couldn't
have got them in."  At which Patrick scratched his head and looked
thoughtful a moment before he replied:

"Why, no, begorra!  I'd never thought o' that; but how's we goin' to
keep 'em in whiles we catches 'em?"

"We must have Dan'el," said Paddy promptly.  "She shall be Horatio and
keep the bridge," whereupon poor Dan'el was duly installed to fill up
the doorway with her accommodating bulk.  Then began a rare scrimmage.
Bound, and over, and through dashed those young pigs, with Paddy and
Jack and Patrick after them--shrieking with laughter--till Paddy finally
leaned up against the wall on the verge of hysterics and begged for a
halt.

"Don't let me see Dan'el for a few minutes," she prayed Jack.  "Come and
stand in front of me.  When I see Dan'el rolling about in that doorway,
like a German sausage on a pivot, it makes me feel as if I should
burst."

By this time half the pigs were safely installed in the wagon, but this,
instead of lightening their labour, considerably increased it, for the
remaining half had more room to escape their pursuers.  Finally a farm
youth was called in to help, and the work progressed until only a dozen
remained.  A brief halt was again called, and then they all returned to
the fray feeling refreshed.  Unfortunately the pigs were refreshed also,
and had apparently taken advantage of the halt to concoct some plan of
concerted action.  They slipped and scuttled between legs with a
lightning speed that suggested a reinforcement of the devils of old
time, until the moment came for the grand coup.  This consisted in a
dash at Paddy's legs, which took her entirely by surprise and tripped
her up, she emitting a shriek that made everyone pause a second to see
if she was getting killed.  In that same second, while the moment of
unguarded surprise still held their captors, another concerted rush was
made for the mountainous apparition in the doorway.  The breach was
carried gloriously.  Dan'el came down like an avalanche, and in the
pandemonium that followed it was discovered she had entrapped one small
pig under her person, and its shrill screams were mingled stridently
with the helpless laughter of the outwitted captors.  Paddy lay on the
floor, buried her face, and gave it up.  Tears poured down her cheeks,
and for very exhaustion she could not look on while the two men, nearly
as helpless as she, tried to hoist poor Dan'el on to her feet and
release the screaming little pig.  They got her to a sitting posture,
and then they had to take a rest while Jack leant up against the wall of
the barn, hid his face on his arm, and shook with convulsive laughter.
The pigs meanwhile, in a distant corner of the yard, held another
council of war, squeaked and grunted their glee and awaited
developments.  When Jack was moderately calm again, and Paddy
recovering, Dan'el was finally hoisted to her feet and prevailed upon to
do a little more entry blocking while the pigs were chased round the
yard, and after a terrific hunt they were all safely collected in the
wagon, ready to start for market at daybreak.

So far all was well, but the next day Paddy's praiseworthy intentions of
getting her farmer friend good prices did not have quite the result she
had anticipated.  Again and again the clear young voice rang out with a
higher bid, to be outdone satisfactorily by some pig-desiring Pat; but
occasionally there was no higher bid, and then the pig was
surreptitiously replaced among the rest, to be re-offered presently.
How long, in consequence, the sale of pigs might have proceeded, it is
impossible to say.  Jack, who was having a little fun on his own,
sometimes mingled with the buyers, and disguising his voice, made
careful bids after solemnly advising Paddy to go one higher, till a
system of buying in and re-offering was in progress that seemed likely
to last until doomsday.

At last Jack came up to Paddy with an inquiring air.

"What in the world are you going to do with fifteen pigs, Paddy?" he
asked.  "I shouldn't buy any more if I were you."

"I--buy--fifteen--pigs!" she exclaimed.  "What in the world--"

"Well, of course, you have," he urged.  "They're all in the wagon
waiting for you.  Patrick just asked me if you were going to drive them
home yourself," omitting, however, to mention that he had previously
impressed upon the doubtful Patrick that the pigs belonged to the fair
buyer.  "After robbing him of purchasers, you can't very well leave them
on his hands.  I don't suppose he'll want you to pay in a hurry, but you
must take charge of them."

Paddy regarded him with a haughty stare, and then turned to encounter
the visibly perturbed Patrick.

"They fifteen pigs, miss," he began hesitatingly.  "Are they to go to
The Ghan House?"

"They're not mine," she declared stoutly.  "I bought them for you."

"Very good of you, miss; but what would I be wanting with 'em, when I be
selling 'em?"

Paddy looked perplexed.  "Whose in the world are they?" she asked
doubtfully.  "They're not mine--and they're not yours--I give it up."

"Begorra!  I'm shure I dunno, miss," and Patrick fell to scratching his
head in great perplexity; "but it seems as if, seeing I sold 'em and you
bought 'em--"

"But I bought them for you."

"But if I was selling 'em, how could I want for to buy 'em?"

"If Patrick doesn't want them," put in Jack, "of course you must take
them home, Paddy.  I'll help you drive them."

"Oh! don't be an idiot!" stamping her foot.  "They don't belong to me."

"But you've just said you bought them."

"I didn't."

"You did; you said you had bought them for Patrick."

Paddy stamped her foot more impatiently still and grew more perplexed.

"Share, and it's beyond me," and Patrick fell again to his
head-scratching.  "If you bought 'em it seems as if they ought to be
yours, don't it?"

Paddy looked round with a worried air, and at that dreadful moment
descried Lawrence, in the very act of dodging two small pigs that had
escaped their owner and were making tracks back to the wagon as fast as
they could go.  She signalled to him, and he came up at once.

"I don't know what's happened to Newry," he said, "but every third
person seems to have acquired a small pig.  I've been dodging them for
the last half-hour.  They're all over everywhere."

Jack began to chuckle in a most annoying manner.

"Paddy's bought fifteen," he said.

"I haven't.  Be quiet, you--you--great, silly clown."

"Now, don't get cross, Paddy," soothingly; "and you've said so many
times that you did buy them that it sounds dreadfully like a fib."

Paddy looked as if she were not quite sure whether to laugh or cry, and
Lawrence asked:

"What's the matter, Paddy?  Why does he say you've bought fifteen pigs?"

"It's just this way--" began poor Paddy.

"The real trouble," put in Jack, "is that Patrick O'Grady doesn't know
whether he's been _selling_ pigs or, buying them, and Paddy doesn't know
whether she's been _buying_ pigs or selling them.  For the last two
hours they've been doing both in a sort of cycle, and now they're left
with fifteen on their hands, and we want a Solomon to say who they
belong to," and he exploded again.

"If you don't shut up, Jack--I'll--I'll throw a pig at your head," said
Paddy furiously.

"And I offered to help you drive them home," in an aggrieved voice.

"I'll help instead," volunteered Lawrence.  "I'm a positive genius at
pig-driving."

"Or I could take them to The Ghan House on my way back," said Patrick
cheerfully.

"But they're not mine, I tell you.  I don't want the things.  What in
the world could I do with fifteen pigs?"

"They certainly wouldn't be very nice in your bedroom, and I don't see
where else you could hide them," put in Jack.

"Come, what's it all about?--don't mind him," as Paddy again looked
furiously at her tormentor.  "Perhaps I can help?"

Wherewith, turning her back on the delinquent, who continued to chuckle
audibly, Paddy related the history of the fifteen pigs, and the Gordian
knot she and Patrick had managed to tie between them.

Lawrence had a good laugh--not the least at Paddy's mystified air as to
whether she had bought the pigs or not--and then he nobly offered to
solve the difficulty by taking them off her hands.

"You can take them to the Mourne Lodge farm," he told the no less
bewildered Patrick, "and call for the money in the morning."

Paddy was instantly all smiles.  "And don't forget my commission, Pat!"
she cried.

"Your commission was for _selling_," was Jack's parting shot.  "You
_bought_ these, so you can't claim it."

"Let's all go and have coffee at the cafe," suggested Lawrence.  And ten
minutes later Paddy and Jack were again chuckling uproariously over the
relation of the whole episode from first to last.

And it was then that Paddy, under the spell of a certain sense of
gratitude, decided Lawrence was very nice when he liked, and, of course,
if Eileen was growing to care for him, and thought she would be happy
with him, it was no use worrying about things.  It was, of course, too
much to expect that Lawrence could do other than love Eileen if she
would let him.

CHAPTER NINE.

CONCERNING A SUPPER-DANCE.

As the date fixed for the great dance drew near, no other topic of
conversation was of any real interest.  Even the two little ladies at
the Parsonage got quite excited over it, and confided to Paddy and
Eileen one afternoon, that they were each having new dresses on purpose.

"Oh! how splendid!"  Paddy cried ecstatically; "do tell us what they are
like."

"Black silk," said Miss Jane.  "And Honiton lace," added Miss Mary.

"Lovely!" cried Paddy.  "I am certain you will be the belles of the
ball.  No one will look at Eileen and me."

"Nonsense, my dear," shaking her head; "two old things like Mary and
myself belles of the ball indeed!  No, no; you and Eileen will be that,
and we shall rejoice to see it."

"Now you are sarcastic, auntie," shaking a threatening finger at her;
"as if any belle of a ball ever had a sallow skin and snub nose like
mine.  No, if I am a belle at all it will have to be from a back view
only.  I really do think my hair is prettier than Eileen's, so with the
front of her and the back of me, we ought to carry off the palm."

"What about Kathleen and Doreen?" put in Eileen, "they have improved
wonderfully."

"Yes, and their dresses were bought in Paris.  It's not fair," and Paddy
pulled a face.  "We all ought to have started equally with dresses made
in Ireland."

"My dear, dress makes very little difference," said little Miss Mary;
"expression and manner are everything, and Kathleen and Doreen, though
charming girls, are both a little stiff at present.  I haven't a doubt
your programmes will be full almost before you are in the ball-room."

"I guess so," said Paddy mischievously.  "I've promised twice the number
of dances there are already, but as I've forgotten who they were all to,
it doesn't matter.  I am thinking of arriving with two boards like a
sandwich man, and on one side I shall have in large letters `Please note
all previous engagements cancelled,' and on the other `Book early as a
great rush is anticipated.'"

The two little ladies laughed merrily, and then suddenly grew serious
and looked at each other, as if preparing for some pre-arranged
announcement.

"My dears!" began Miss Jane, the spokeswoman, while Miss Mary nodded her
head in solemn agreement.

"Mary and I have each been looking through certain of our old treasures
to see if we could find anything suitable to give you for this happy
occasion, and we have decided upon the two fans our uncle, General
Alvers, gave to us for our first ball in Dublin.  They are
old-fashioned, perhaps, but they are very good and we hope you will
value them for our sakes."

"Yes, that is it, sister," murmured Miss Mary; "we hope you will value
them for our sakes."

"How good of you!" cried Paddy and Eileen together, and then Paddy flew
straight at each little lady and hugged them both in turn.  When she had
released them, Miss Jane rose and went to a drawer, and took from it two
parcels which she slowly began to unfold.  At last, from enough tissue
paper to have kept half a dozen fans in, she drew two beautiful
hand-painted ivory ones, and presented them to the two girls.

"Oh! lovely! lovely!" and Paddy was almost beside herself.  "But how can
you bear to part with them!"

"Are you sure you would not rather lend them?" asked Eileen gently.

"No, my dear, Mary and I have thought it over, and we have decided it is
folly to hoard up pretty things that might be giving pleasure to someone
we love.  We had our time when we were young, and we were very happy,
and loved pretty things as you do.  Now it is your turn, and we must sit
and look on."

"You seem to have been doing that always," exclaimed Paddy with a sudden
burst, "just sitting and looking on at other people's happiness," while
Eileen slipped a hand into little Miss Mary's with her slow sweet smile.

"Oh, no, my dear," Aunt Jane answered at once, "we had just as gay a
time as you and Eileen when we were your age."

She paused.

"And then!" said Paddy, with half-veiled eagerness.

The two sisters looked at each other a moment, and then Miss Mary said a
little nervously:

"Not just yet, sister.  Some day, if they still care to know we will
tell them, but not just yet."

Eileen pressed the hand in hers with silent sympathy, while warm-hearted
Paddy took the opportunity to administer two more hugs in the middle of
which Jack entered and claimed that it was his turn next.

"Look what aunties have given us," cried Paddy, ignoring his request.
"Their own beautiful fans that they had for their first ball."

Jack duly admired, and then asked what they were going to give him that
they had worn at their first ball.

"Hadn't you two sashes!" asked Paddy of the little ladies; "he could
wear one round his waist, and one for a tie, and just think how pleased
he would be, and how he would strut about in the ball-room, like a dog
with two tails."

"I'll strut you about in a few minutes," remarked the maligned one,
"speaking of your elders and betters in that light fashion."

"Betters!" echoed Paddy scornfully.  "Did you say _betters_?"

"I did, Madam.  Do you mean to dispute it!"

"It is so utterly silly, it is hardly worth while," and then she ducked
hastily to avoid the missile aimed at her head, and a second later they
were flying round the room after each other.

Instantly there was a flutter of skirts, and the two little ladies were
collecting breakables, while Miss Jane gasped to Eileen in a
horror-struck voice:

"The fans, my dear!  The fans!"

Eileen rescued the two heaps of tissue paper with their precious
contents, and then held the door open for Paddy to fly out.  The next
moment they saw her scrambling over the wall between the two gardens,
with Jack at her heels.

Eileen remained with the two little ladies, and presently they all went
down to the beach together.  Here they sat and worked, while Eileen read
aloud to them, until they were disturbed by a footstep on the shingle
and looked up to see Lawrence Blake approaching.

Instantly, in spite of herself, a crimson flush dyed Eileen's cheeks,
and an anxious look passed between the two little ladies.

Lawrence came up with his pleasantest smile, and greeted all alike with
his polished charm, and though the two little ladies had long felt an
instinctive mistrust of him, they could not but be impressed, and
received him graciously.  A boat was pulled up on the beach, beside
where they were sitting, and with the same perfect ease, he seated
himself upon it, and drew them into conversation.  For one moment they
made an effort to maintain a formal atmosphere; but since it pleased
Lawrence to be gracious, they could no more resist him than anyone else,
and almost before they knew it, they were deep in an eager discussion on
the picture galleries of Europe.

At the most interesting part a maid from the Parsonage came to say they
were wanted, and with real reluctance they rose to go.

Nevertheless, as they walked across the garden their faces grew serious.

"He talks wonderfully well," said Miss Mary at last, anxious to know
what was in her sister's mind.

"Yes; wonderfully.  He is no doubt an extremely cultured young man.  And
yet--" she paused.

"And yet?" asked Miss Mary.

"I cannot help it," answered Miss Jane gravely, "but there is something
in his face that makes me distrust him.  I--I think I wish he had never
come back to Omeath."

"I wish so, too, sister," said Miss Mary, with like gravity.  "I wish it
very much;" then they passed into the house.

Meanwhile Eileen sat on, and Lawrence leaned against the boat and looked
into her beautiful eyes.  He had a way of doing this that was vaguely a
caress in itself, and that made poor Eileen's heart flutter almost
fearfully, at the mere thought of all it, perhaps, involved.  When he
looked at her like that, it made no difference that he might be seated
some little distance away, and their conversation of the most
matter-of-fact order; the whole atmosphere was electric to her young
ingenuousness.  Lawrence might tell himself he meant no harm; and
console himself at occasional uneasy moments with the reflection that he
had uttered no word of love, nor drawn any nearer to her than was
entirely circumspect; yet he, of all others, could not fail to know just
what power of magnetism he was able to throw into a glance, and what
inflection of unnamed tenderness could delicately colour his voice,
though he spoke of only the most commonplace things.  Had he not
practiced the fine art half over the world; and quietly walked in to
conquest, over the heads of far better looking and more attractive men.
Yet he remained unattached: a circumstance sufficiently dangerous in
itself.  Never in all these years had he gone one inch too far; never
become more than lightly entangled; yet always a conqueror.  The
personality that imbued him to his finger-tips, coupled with a certain
indifference, against which women who loved him flung themselves in
vain, yet could not break away, had undoubtedly worked far more harm and
misery than the honest, gay flirtations of many a more censured man.
Yet he had good points and could be lovable.  Was it, perhaps, the age
he lived in? the _blase_, free-thinking, free-living set he had become
identified with, tipping the delicately adjusted balance to the wrong
side.  However, that might be, the hour had gone by when anyone could
save Eileen; it must now be either radiant joy or heart-broken misery.
And meanwhile, into her beautiful eyes, noting also the delicately
moulded form and exquisite skin, Lawrence looked that vague caress, with
a willfully blind indifference to the future.  He only knew that she was
entrancingly fair to gaze upon; and he had not by any means suffered
from the boredom he had anticipated, before yielding to his mother's
persuasions.

He chatted on a little while casually now, and then suddenly brought the
colour flaming to her cheeks by saying, with a charming air of
persuasion:

"If I am not too premature, Eileen, will you promise me the first dance,
and the supper-dance on Thursday?  I feel it's rather cheek asking you
so soon; but I shall get so bored doing the host all the evening; I
wanted to make quite sure of the two dances that matter the most."

Under the lowered lids her eyes shone.  She had so hoped he would ask
her for the supper-dance; the event of the evening at their merry
dances, and yet had hardly dared to hope.  Still, with an exquisite
flush, she bantered him a little.  "But you may change your mind by
Thursday!  It seems a long way off yet, and it would be so awkward for
you if you did."

He laughed lightly.  "I'll promise to tell you if I do, I'll go down on
my knees and implore your pity and clemency, and your permission to ask
someone else."

She laughed with him, and then he added, "Mind, I don't say I shall be
content with those two only, but I daren't claim another now.  Perhaps,
if my duties as host allow me another opportunity, you will again be
kind?"

She said nothing, but glanced away from him, feeling deliriously happy;
and at the same moment Paddy emerged from the garden, with Jack and Ted
Masterman, one on either side of her.

Lawrence got up at once.  "Here comes your sister," he remarked, "with
her usual train of admirers.  If you will not mind making excuses for
me, I will say good-by, as I have to ride on to Carlingford;" and he
hurried away.

"Where's his august majesty off to, in such a hurry?" asked Paddy, as
she came up.  "I was just going to ask him to reserve the supper-dance
for me, as I always like a supper-partner who thinks it is too much
trouble to talk, and so leaves more time for eating."

"He had to ride on to Carlingford," said Eileen, rising, "so he asked me
to excuse him to you.  How do you do, Mr Masterman?  I am glad to hear
you are going to remain for the ball after all."

"Thank you," Ted answered heartily.  "I wouldn't have missed it for
anything, if I could possibly help it."

"Mr Masterman has just saved my life, or at any rate my beauty,"
remarked Paddy.  "What do you think I ought to do?"

"How?" questioned Eileen.

"Well, you see, I caught my foot on the top of the wall, when I somewhat
hastily left the Parsonage just now, and he happened to be on the other
side, in just the right spot to catch me."

"I expect the poor chap was nearly crushed to death," remarked Jack.
"He'll go home with a nice opinion of wild Irish girls."

"I shall, indeed," was the fervent rejoinder, looking hard at Paddy; but
as usual she was already attending to something quite different, and the
remark, with its double meaning was entirely lost upon her.

Later on, they all four strolled down to the water after dinner, and
Jack managed to detain Eileen a little behind the others.

He was a trifle awkward and shy as if he had something on his mind, and
at last, without much preliminary, he blurted out, "You'll give me the
supper-dance, won't you, Eileen?  I wanted to ask you before, but I
thought you'd think I was so silly to be asking so soon."

"Oh!  I'm sorry, Jack," with genuine regret for his sake; "I've promised
it."

"You've promised it!" he echoed in astonishment.

"Yes, this afternoon."

"To whom?" looking hard into her face.

"To Lawrence Blake," and she did not meet his eyes.

Jack stood still suddenly, without quite knowing it, and stared across
to the mountains.  It seemed to him all in a moment as if some grim
phantom had suddenly risen, and menaced him for the first time in his
life, with a vision of striving and failure.

He ground his teeth together angrily.

"Curse Lawrence Blake," he muttered, and kicking some pebbles angrily
into the lake, strode forward.

CHAPTER TEN.

A LETTER FROM CALCUTTA.

Paddy sat on the morning-room table swinging her feet, and Jack leaned
against the mantelpiece with his hands in his pockets, biting at the end
of an empty pipe fitfully, as was his wont when all did not fall out as
he wished.

  "There was a little girl
  And she had a little curl
  Right in the middle of her forehead,"

sang Paddy.

  "And when she was good
  She was very, very good;
  And when she was naughty, she was 'orrid."

"Are you going to save me the supper-dance, Paddy!" he asked, without
moving.

Paddy put her head on one side like a little bird, and eyed him
quizzically a moment in silence.

"How many people have you already asked!" she said suddenly.

He coloured a little under his sunburn.

"Why should you suppose I have asked anyone!"

"I only wanted to know if you had.  You have got a very tell-tale face,
and now I can see for myself.  Was it Eileen!"

"Are you going through this cross-examination with all your partners?"
with a touch of sarcasm.

"It wouldn't be necessary.  You are the only one likely to use me as a
makeshift."

"You are in a beastly temper this morning."

"Oh no, I'm not," good-naturedly.  "I only had reasons of my own for
wanting to know.  I suppose Eileen was already promised to Lawrence
Blake!"

"It was like his impudence," savagely.

"I don't see that.  `First come, first served,' is a perfectly fair
rule.  You should have been sharper and got there before him.  You see
you're too late in this quarter also."

"What!  Have you promised too?"

"Yes; yesterday."

Jack bit his lip and felt furious with himself and all the world.

"What in the name of fortune am I to do?" he asked.  "With neither you
nor Eileen for the supper-dance, I shan't know myself."

"You must ask Kathleen Blake, of course.  It is what you ought to have
done all along," and then suddenly Paddy swung herself half across the
room and stepped out of the French window into the garden, and vanished
in the direction of the shore.  It was unpleasantly present in her mind
that Jack had not been sufficiently interested to ask to whom she had
promised the dance; and it left her in that mood when the only relief is
occupation.  So she untied the boat, stepped in, and proceeded to take a
steady row.  If Jack continued blind, she wondered vaguely, what would
become of them all?

"Heigho!" she murmured, resting on her oars.  "It seems to me we're all
changing.  Jack's getting serious, and Eileen is getting serious, and if
I don't mind I shall get serious too.  What a pity we can't stay
children another ten years."  She looked a little dreamily to the
horizon.  "I wonder if something's going to happen," she mused.  "I've
an odd feeling somewhere, either in my head, or in my boots--I don't
quite know which--that there's something in the air; an `Ides of
March'--sort of feeling that makes me inclined to be quite tragic and
Julius Caesarish.  Well! well!"--gripping her oars again--"if it comes,
it comes, Paddy Adair, and you'll just have to make the best of it.
Meanwhile you had better make hay while the sun shines, and go out with
the boys shooting as you promised," and she turned homeward again.

Eileen, from far up in the mountain, watched her a little wonderingly,
recognising the boat and Paddy's vigorous strokes, even from that
distance.  But she was too engrossed with her own thoughts to wonder
long, and presently gained her own favourite nook, in which the October
sun was shining warmly.  Here, sitting down in her favourite attitude,
she leant her chin in her hands and gazed at the turquoise sea on the
horizon.  But the old soft dreaminess was changed to-day for that
wistful, troubled look that had grown of late, and in the depths of the
deep blue eyes there was a new sadness.

"I cannot help it," she said at last.  "Whether he is a good man or not;
whether it is right or wrong, I love him, I love him."

Then, raising her eyes to the deep vault of the blue above, she breathed
softly, "Oh God! help me to help him; teach me, teach me, that if the
time comes that he should want me, I may be ready and strong to lead him
back to love, and faith, and happiness.  For the rest, if there must be
suffering, I will try to be brave and content."

Then she got up and started down the mountain, and when she was about
half-way home she turned a boulder and came suddenly upon Lawrence Blake
with his gun and his dogs.

Instantly his thin face lit up with a smile.

"I saw your sister with Masterman and O'Hara about fifteen minutes ago,"
he said, "and I wondered where you were.  Your sister shot a rabbit
running in fine style."

"She is a splendid shot," replied Eileen warmly.  "She killed her first
snipe this summer."

"Did she, indeed!  That's excellent for a girl.  But then she ought to
have been a boy, really, oughtn't she?  One can't help feeling there's
good material wasted."

"Why wasted?" she asked.

"Well, to be rather rudely candid, I am not an admirer of your sex at
all."

"Isn't it rather poor to judge the many by a few who may have
disappointed you?"

"It would be more correct to say the `few' by the many who have
disgusted me."

"I am sorry," she said simply: "I wish it had not been so."

"If you knew the world as I do, you would see that it could hardly be
otherwise."

"Still, I am sorry," she reiterated; "dreadfully sorry."

He watched her a moment covertly.

She was looking her best, with the freshness of the mountain air glowing
in her eyes and cheeks.  He was thinking she looked as well in her
tam-o'-shanter, short skirt, and blouse, with linen collar and cuffs, as
anything he had ever seen her in.  Compared with some of the resplendent
beauties he had admired, she was as the cosy fireside is to the marble
palace, or the fragrant violet is to the dazzling poppies.  And then for
a moment on the mountain side, with the fresh blowing winds, and the
fragrance, and the loveliness of the lake and mountains, an unusually
soft mood seemed to take possession of him, and something apart from her
beauty to stir his pulses and rest his senses.  As they moved on, he
dropped the bitter, sneering tone so habitual to him, and chatted to her
frankly and charmingly with unmistakably an assumption of some special
link between them.

Later on, Eileen went in home with shining eyes and light footsteps,
feeling as if already her prayer had been answered; and Lawrence's
mother glanced at him across the luncheon table, wondering to what good
angel they were indebted for his amiability, instead of his more usual
taciturn moodiness.

In the afternoon he drove her out himself to pay a call some miles
distant, chatting pleasantly all the way; and at dinner, he condescended
to discuss various matters connected with the dance, instead of
preserving his customary silence.

Then he went into his den for a smoke, and so preoccupied was he for a
few moments that he did not notice a large, flat piece of pasteboard
lying on the table, which had evidently arrived by the evening post.
Instead, he glanced with a casual air of appreciation round his beloved
bachelor domain, wondering, half-unconsciously, if perhaps the time were
coming for him to settle down and give up his wanderings.

His eye roved dreamily over his fine collection of foreign swords,
picked up in all quarters of the globe, and many other strange weapons
of warfare, arranged fantastically upon the walls--his sporting prints,
worth large sums of money as originals--his guns and riding stocks--his
trophies of big game shooting.

Lastly, his books, of which he had also a fine collection, though it
could not altogether be said to be a credit to his taste; and his prints
and photographs strewn in all directions.

"I wonder what Eileen would think of them?" was the involuntary thought
in his mind, and his thin lips parted in a slight smile.

Then he caught sight of the carefully tied pasteboard, and stepping
forward picked it up with a curious expression.

"By Jove!--Queenie," he muttered, seeing the writing, and proceeded to
cut the string.

Then he drew from its wrappers the full-length portrait of a beautiful
girl in fancy dress.

For a long time he stood perfectly still looking at it, then he held it
at arm's length, trying it in different lights, and surveying it with
keenly criticising eyes.

"Superb," was his final verdict, muttered under his breath; then he
leaned it up against another photograph in the place of honour on his
writing desk, and turned his attention to a little scented note that had
accompanied it.  A printed slip of newspaper was enclosed in the letter,
but first he read, in a bold, girlish handwriting:

  "Dear Old Lawrie,--

  "Read the enclosed slip and bow down--even your cynical old head owes
  homage to such a paragon, and foreseeing my victory, in gracious
  acceptance of the same homage, I send you the latest portrait of this
  Queen of Beauty.

  "When shall we prepare your den for you, and duly banish your
  favourite enemies?  You said you would come again in the autumn--and
  consequently Calcutta waits.

  "Earl Selloyd haunts our door-step, and mamma has a fancy for a peer
  as son-in-law.  _Comprenez_?

  "Queenie."

On the slip of newspaper he read:

"At the fancy dress ball last night, given in honour of Lord Kitchener,
one of the most striking among the younger women was the beautiful Miss
Gwendoline Grant-Carew, only daughter of the Hon. and Mrs Jack
Grant-Carew.  She is undoubtedly one of the reigning queens of English
beauty, and as charming and vivacious as she is fair to look upon."

Holding the letter in his hand, Lawrence again gazed critically at the
portrait on his desk, and the suggestion of a pleased expression dawned
on his face.

"So Selloyd's trying to get in the running there, is he?" he mused.
"Beastly cad!  I owe him one or two since our college days.  It will be
almost as good sport as tiger shooting to spoil his game for him.  I
think I'll start for India next month."

Then he put the little note carefully into his pocket-book, and,
lighting a cigar, sank into a deep arm-chair and stared into the fire,
dreaming of Gwendoline Grant-Carew.

CHAPTER ELEVEN.

THE SCRIMMAGE PARTY.

Yet the very next morning he was again at Eileen's side, again looking
that unspoken homage into her eyes.

It was the occasion of what was generally known as a Scrimmage Party at
The Ghan House, to which he has been inveigled partly on false
pretences.

"Are you coming to my birthday party?"  Paddy had shouted to him as he
was riding past in the morning, from the top of a hen-house where she
was busily endeavouring to mend leakages in the roof.

He reined in his horse, and came as near as he could get.

"What in the name of fortune are you doing up there?"

"I'm fixing on a few odd slates to keep out the rain.  Don't you admire
my handiwork?"

"Why don't you let your man do it?  Lord!" with amusement, "I never saw
such a position."

Paddy glanced at her somewhat generous display of ankle, and her feet
trying to hang on to the roof.

"To tell you the honest truth, Jack was supposed to be going to do it,
while I handed up the slates, but we quarrelled."

"You seem to enjoy quarrelling with your friends beyond anything.  I
wonder you have any left."

Now that he had come near, he was in no violent hurry to go on, for
Paddy, perched on her hen-house roof, had a roguish, dare-devil look
that was distinctly alluring.

"Oh! they come round again," airily.  "It would often be more fun if
they didn't.  That's why I like quarrelling with you.  Your
thunder-clouds last longer."

"Then in future I shall suppress them altogether."

"Not you.  You wouldn't know yourself amiable too long."

"Am I so very bad-tempered?"

Paddy glanced up from her work.

"You're the most detestable person I know, as a rule," she informed him.

Lawrence could not help laughing, though she was evidently quite
serious.

"I suppose the few intervals when I bask in the sunlight of your favour,
are when I buy pigs to oblige you, and that kind of thing!  I shouldn't
have taken you for a time-server, Paddy--only liking people for what you
can get out of them."

"Daddy was ill over the pigs," she remarked, ignoring his thrust.  "I
told him while we were at tea, and he choked, and got dreadfully ill,
because every time he was just calming down, he remembered about Dan'el
on the floor, or about you having to buy my fifteen.  I daren't even
mention such a thing as a pig in his hearing now.  He isn't strong
enough for it.  You see he hadn't quite got over my charging into you
when I was after that rat, and then making you carry the little beast of
a ferret and join in," and her eyes shone bewitchingly.

"If you think I'm detestable, what do you suppose I think of you?" he
asked.

"Oh, no one thinks at all when it's me," with a funny little pursing up
of her lips, and a sweeping disregard of grammar.  "You see, I can't be
judged after any ordinary standard, as I'm not ordinary.  I'm not a
girl, and I'm not a boy--I'm Paddy--`Paddy-the-next-best-thing.'"

He laughed again.  "Oh no! you're not ordinary," he agreed, "and I'm
rather sorry there are not some more Paddys--I like the breed."

"Jack doesn't," calmly going on with her tinkering.  "He started helping
me to do this job, and then he got wild, and when I suggested he took
the slates off the good part to mend the bad, he went off in a huff.  He
implied that he could do with me when I was funny, but not when I was
silly," and she chuckled to herself with a remembering relish.

"He has very bad taste.  He should like you in any mood."

"His taste is apparently much the same as yours."  Paddy looked up with
a queer expression in her eyes, before which he glanced away.  He knew
she was alluding to Eileen.  "Unfortunately for him," she finished
calmly.

Lawrence glanced at her again, and when he did so he blew that she had
spoken with intent.  She had given him either a hint or a warning; he
could not quite say which; but he understood at once, that in her eyes
he was already her sister's recognised suitor.  He touched up his horse
to ride on.  "Well, good-by," lightly.  "May I bring you a birthday
present this evening?"

"No," she laughed back, "bring a few thunder-clouds to entertain me."

It was not until the evening began, that he discovered what kind of a
party he had accepted an invitation for.

Paddy enlightened him.

"You've got to begin by sitting on the floor, and playing, `Brother, I'm
bobbed!'" she announced.  "You'll find it rather hot work, but you can
cool down afterward, while someone takes your place."

"I've a great admiration for you, Paddy," he answered calmly.  "But not
for all the Paddys in the world will I sit on the floor and play,
`Brother, I'm bobbed!'"

"Tut tut!" mimicked, Paddy, screwing up an imaginary eyeglass.  "Your--
your--shoe a little too tight--did you say!--or was it your--ahem--
divided skirt...?"

"I said I should not play `Brother, I'm bobbed,'" repeated Lawrence,
laughing; "but if a score has to be kept of the bobbing--whatever
process that may be--I am at your service."

"You can go and sit with Daddy, and the old people," scathingly.  "You
might have guessed my birthday party wasn't very likely to be reclining
in arm-chairs, and conversing politely."

"May I, as a special favour, be allowed first to mention a package in
the hall, intended for your Serene Highness--?"

"A package!--in the hall!--Oh! go and sit where you like, and do what
you like," and she flew off to look for it, returning triumphantly with
the finest production in confectionery that Newry could boast.

After that Lawrence was left in peace, to sit by the delighted old
soldier, who laughed till he was again ill, at the wild scenes which
ensued; until the climax of Paddy on the floor, with a small table of
bric-a-brac, and the coal box on top of her, with the coals flying in
all directions, proved too much for him.  When she at last scrambled to
her feet, with a face Jack and Doreen Blake had surreptitiously smudged
with coal dust, he had to be led away to his own den for a smoke,
whither Lawrence accompanied him.  "These Scrimmage Parties are too much
for me now-a-days," said the fine old warrior, sinking back into his big
chair.  "Lord! what a girl she is!--what a girl she is!" and there was a
ring of delight and pride in his voice, which his gentle, beautiful
daughter never inspired.

"She informed me this morning she was not a girl," remarked Lawrence.
"She said she was neither a girl, nor a boy, she was Paddy!"

The father chuckled in delight.  "It's about true, for there's not her
like anywhere.  Begorra, lad!--if she'd been a boy--there'd not have
been a soldier in the British army to touch her.  But she'll go far
yet," nodding his head sagely.  "I'll give any beautiful woman points in
another two or three years, and back Paddy against her.  While the other
woman's doing her hair, and arranging her dress, and thinking what to
say, Paddy'll be getting there.  She won't need to stop and think.
She'll be just herself, and if I'm not much mistaken, the men'll go down
before her like ninepins.  O Lord!--and she'll snap her fingers in their
faces, and go rampaging on, like a real, thoroughbred Irish Fusilier.

"But I shall not be there to see," dropping his voice suddenly to a note
of sadness.  "Take my advice, Lawrence, and marry young.  I married too
late, and when everything is just at its best, I shall get my summons to
go."  He shook his head mournfully, and sank for a moment into a
reverie, seeing his heart's darling, his boy that was a girl, queening
it over an admiring throng, and he no longer at hand to rejoice.
Lawrence commenced to chat with him of his travelling adventures, in his
most engaging manner, to cheer him up; smiling inwardly a little at his
estimate of the tom-boy, whom he could hardly conceive as yet,
compelling anything but the indulgent fondness for an amusing child.

A little later she broke in upon them herself, to say they were all
going for a row on the Loch by starlight, to finish up with an impromptu
open-air concert, with Ted Masterman's banjo, and Kathleen's guitar.
They rose to follow her, and soon after the whole night seemed to ring
with merry choruses from the two boats; a rowdy one containing Jack and
Paddy, and a few other kindred spirits; and a quiet one with Lawrence
and Eileen, little Miss Mary, and one or two other less boisterous
members of the party.

Eileen was very quiet.  Owing to the number in the boat, she and
Lawrence, he rowing and she in the bow, were nearer than they had ever
been before, and only the alluring darkness around them.  The rowers
shipped their oars for a little to listen to the others, and Lawrence
turned round to the silent figure, half-sitting, half-reclining, beside
him.

It was an entrancing night, warm and luscious and still, but for the
lapping of the water against the boat, and the merry sounds from the
other party.  Overhead gleamed and glittered a million stars.  All
round, mysteriously grand, mysteriously lovely, towered the Mourne
Mountains.  Eileen felt herself breathing fitfully, under the spell of
some ravishing, dream-like ecstasy.  He was so close to her that his
coat brushed against her arm, and the touch thrilled through all her
being.  Yet she never moved nor spoke, looking out into the fathomless,
mystical depths of the night, one little hand resting lightly on the
edge of the boat, unconsciously near to her companion.

And something in the enervating atmosphere, and the dream-like charm,
again had that dangerously soothing effect upon Lawrence.  Look where he
would, think as he would, he could not turn his consciousness from the
sense of that little soft hand so temptingly close to him in the
darkness.  What would she do if he followed his impulse, and clasped his
own over it.

He tried to think of other things and forget it.  If it had been any
other girl--but not Eileen--no, he dare not trifle with Eileen.  Yet it
was such a little thing, and he wanted desperately at the moment to feel
the touch of the little warm fingers in his.  One more effort to
forget--one more failure--and in the shadows his thin, artistic fingers
closed over those others.

Eileen did not move nor speak.  For the moment she was too much taken
aback, and then she was only aware of a swiftly beating heart, and a
heavenly sense of delight.  But in a few moments, out of the shadows,
shot the other boat straight toward them, with Paddy leaning over the
side.  She reached out her hand, and grasping at the bow that held
Lawrence and Eileen.  Her grasp closed over a dim white object, two
hands--a man and a woman's--clasped together.

"Ah!" said Paddy to the darkness, with rather startling suddenness, and
then subsided into silence.

CHAPTER TWELVE.

THE BALL.

Paddy was dressed first, because Eileen did her hair for her, and when
she was ready she surveyed herself with critical eyes in the long pier
glass.

"I rather think Paddy will surprise them to-night," she remarked.
"They'll be coming round and asking her where her snub nose and sallow
skin are.  I shall say, `They are still there, good people, but don't
you observe that her hair has entirely effaced everything but itself?'"

In truth she was right, for it would be hard to find lovelier hair than
Paddy's, and under Eileen's skillful handling it had, indeed,
overshadowed everything else.

It was of a rich auburn tint, as fine as silk, and had a way of waving
and curling in thick masses, with a beautiful natural wave, when given
sufficient freedom.  Paddy, in her perpetual haste, usually spoilt it by
twisting it too tightly, but to-night Eileen had given the rich coils
full play, and they curled themselves lovingly round Paddy's pretty
forehead and slender neck in a way that somehow concealed her failings
by drawing all attention to themselves.  And then, too, she had the fine
eyes of her country, and to-night they sparkled and danced in a way that
was wholly bewitching.  "Daddy," she called through into her father's
room, "you just won't know me I look so beautiful.  You never thought I
could look even pretty, did you?--but just wait till you see!"

Then she danced into his dressing-room, and swept him a low courtesy.

"Begorra!" exclaimed the old General delightedly, "you'll take 'em all
by storm yet.  Get out your scouts, young men, and lay your plan of
action, for there's a prize to be captured and carried off to-night, and
no mistake."

"No, there isn't, then, daddy, for I don't mean to be captured nor
carried off, nor anything else, as long as I can just stay here at The
Ghan House with you and the motherkins," and she threw her arms round
the old soldier's neck and hugged him until he cried out that he would
be suffocated.

Then she smilingly surveyed her crumpled lace.

"I guess we'll get into trouble if we don't mind!" she remarked.  "See
what you've done to my lace!"

"What _I've_ done, indeed!  I should like to know who had a finger in
that pie beside yourself."

Paddy smoothed her lace and went downstairs a little thoughtfully, to
see if Jack had come across yet from the rectory.

She found him standing in the hall, and when he saw her he exclaimed,
"Is that you, Paddy?--is that really you?"

"Yes," with a little nod, "it's really me.  You've always been at great
pains to impress upon me that I'm hopelessly plain, Jack.  Perhaps, now,
you'll have the politeness to own you were wrong," and she looked up at
him with her brilliant smile.

"I don't somehow feel sure that it's you yet, though," he answered.
"Where did you get all that hair from?"

"It's been there all along, but I couldn't be bothered to do it
properly, so to-night Eileen did it."

"Isn't she dressed yet?"

"No; so I took the opportunity of coming down to be admired before I am
outshone."  She tripped across the hall and stood where the full light
of the lamps shone upon her, throwing back her small head triumphantly,
and unconsciously striking an attitude full of grace and piquancy.

There was a dark wainscoting round the hall, and Jack saw with no small
surprise that, thrown into relief by the dark background, her dainty
dress becoming her perfectly, she formed a really lovely picture.  His
admiration showed in his eyes, and suddenly a beautiful flush spread
over her somewhat colourless cheeks.

"That's the first time you've ever seen anything in me but a
harum-scarum tom-boy, isn't it, Jack?" she said, and there was an
unaccountable note of wistfulness in her tone.  "Look again--Eileen will
be here directly, and then you will forget."

A light footstep sounded at the top of the stairs, and instantly she
dashed her hand across her eyes as if to drive away some unwelcome
recollection, and laughing gayly, called:

"Come along, Eileen; I've been playing your _role_ of family beauty for
nearly ten minutes, just to see how it felt, but `harum-scarum Paddy'
suits me best, and you've come just at the right time to save me from a
total collapse."

Jack took a step forward to the staircase, with all his soul in his
eyes, as Eileen came slowly down, saying:

"Don't be silly, Paddy.  I'm sure the first place is yours to-night."

Jack said nothing, but he thought he had never in all his life seen
anything so beautiful as Eileen Adair.  She wore white only, and the
fluffy, lacy style that was so becoming to Paddy was replaced in her
dress by an almost severe simplicity, that suited perfectly her
Madonna-like sweetness, and deep, calm, wonderful eyes.

"Well, we won't let Jack be a second Paris, anyhow," laughed Paddy,
"because he would not give a perfectly unbiased judgment, being already
prejudiced.  But where are the aunties?" turning to the drawing-room,
from which came a sound of voices; "are they here yet?"

"Rather!" exclaimed Jack impressively.  "You just see!  I tell you, you
and Eileen are not in it," and they all crossed the hall together.

Paddy threw open the drawing-room door with a flourish, and, as they
entered, exclaimed, "Behold!--not the meeting of the two great monarchs
of old, but the meeting of the reigning beauties of Omeath to-day."

Then she darted forward toward the two little ladies, crying, "Oh, you
look just lovely!--lovely!  I really must hug you."

"Oh! my dear! my dear!" they both gasped, and Miss Jane got quickly
behind her chair, while Miss Mary fluttered across the room and
ensconced herself behind the sofa.

"What's the matter!" cried Paddy.  "I won't touch you--I promise I
won't.  Do come out and let us have a full view."

After thoroughly reassuring themselves that she really meant it, Miss
Jane stepped forward, and Miss Mary timidly followed suit, and then
began a general criticising and admiring all round, in which Jack joined
in his usual lively fashion.

"Aunties, don't you think Cinderella's Fairy Godmother must have been
here with her magic wand!" he exclaimed, "and turned Paddy into as much
of a beauty as she could possibly get her?  I shall take care not to be
dancing with her at twelve o'clock, because I feel quite certain on the
first stroke of the hour she will become herself again, and her hair
will be coming down, her dress torn, and she will look just like she
does in ordinary life."

"Then we shall only be better paired than we were before," retorted
Paddy, "because you do not look in the least like a prince.  Aunt Mary,
you are lovely!" running on with eager warmth.  "Oh!  I should like to
know what you looked like at my age."

"She was very beautiful, my dear," said Aunt Jane proudly.  "I always
dressed her for balls myself."

"Oh; no, not quite that, sister," murmured Miss Mary, in anxious
self-deprecation; "just pretty, perhaps, sister, but that was all."

"No; beautiful," asserted Miss Jane again, in a voice that allowed no
contradiction.

"And you the same, Aunt Jane, I expect!" said Eileen, smiling.

"No, I was more like Paddy here.  I knew that my chief charm lay in my
expression and spirits, and so I did not worry any more than she about
my appearance and clothes."

"Do I understand you to say you didn't bother to wear clothes, Aunt
Jane?" asked Jack in solemn surprise, at which the two little ladies
looked horrified and Paddy and Eileen laughed, and just then the
General, who had at last managed to get into his extra-special best
dress suit, bustled into the room.

"Jack, my boy," he said, taking the younger man's arm, "take my advice
and don't let yourself get stout.  If you only knew what I have gone
through, trying to get into these clothes!--I wonder I didn't have a fit
of apoplexy!  There!  I do indeed!  And five years ago they fitted me
perfectly.  Bedad!  I'm not sure now the coat won't split all up the
back before the evening is half over, and I'm afraid to see if I can sit
down for fear it might result in my not being able to go to the ball at
all."

"We wouldn't go without you, daddy, anyhow," exclaimed Paddy.  "Don't
the aunties look lovely?  Aren't you just dreadfully in love with both
of them?  I'm sure mother will be jealous before the evening is over."

"Certainly I am; I always have been!  Didn't you know that, you minx!
If they hadn't both been so obdurate long ago all sorts of things might
have happened, eh, Jane?" and the old man laughed heartily.  "Do you
remember boxing my ears under the mulberry tree one Sunday afternoon?
Faith! you were a vixen," and he laughed so heartily that Mrs Adair
hurried forward with anxious reminders concerning his clothes.

"They weren't made to laugh in, daddy," cried Paddy delightedly, "and I
feel a little like that about mine, so we'd better keep together, and
remind each other occasionally, hadn't we?"

Carriage wheels were heard then, and the roomy omnibus engaged to carry
them all to the Lodge drove up to the door.

The two little ladies got in first, holding their new silk dresses very
high above their ankles, and carefully folding shawls all round them
before they ventured to sit down, in case there was a speck of dirt on
the seats.  Then Mrs Adair and Eileen, whose eyes were shining already
with a new happiness; and lastly Paddy and Jack hoisted the General up
between them, so that there was the least possible strain upon his
clothes.

Then they set off amid the usual sparring between Jack and Paddy, a
gentle sort of purring from the two little ladies, and sundry loud
guffaws from the General.  Only Eileen and her mother were silent--the
one lost in a dear dreamland of delicious anticipation, and the other
anxiously, watching with vague misgivings in her heart.

There were no misgivings for Eileen that night.  The last week had held
so many dear moments, her mind was only too ready to be blinded to all
else and wait dreamily for her joy.

But a mother's eyes see so much, and Mrs Adair knew her world--likewise
little Miss Mary, who, in the midst of her soft purring, now and then
threw wistful glances toward Eileen's shining eyes and beautiful face.

Mrs Blake and Lawrence received their guests in the large
billiard-room, which had been cleared for dancing, and by the time the
party from The Ghan House arrived quite a large number had already
collected.  When General Adair led Miss Jane into the room with
old-fashioned courtly grace, followed closely by Mrs Adair and Miss
Mary, and the young folks at their heels, there was quite a little stir
among the chatting groups.  For though they did not entertain in a big
way themselves, General and Mrs Adair were known and respected
throughout the county, while the two girls were favourites wherever they
went; and, as has already been said, the little ladies from the rectory
were almost an institution.

When Mrs Blake and Lawrence had shaken hands with them, others
clustered round eagerly, but Lawrence had time to look hard into
Eileen's eyes, and murmur, "Don't forget the first dance is mine,"
before she was carried off by other friends.  Paddy and Jack were almost
immediately seized upon by Kathleen and Doreen, who were in great glee
over their own coming-out.

"How does it feel?" asked Jack.  "Anything like a snail squeezing out of
a shell, or like falling out of a tree?"

"Neither," they exclaimed; "more like being crowned queen."

"And expecting everyone to bow down to you," added Doreen gayly.  "I
hope you are prepared to be finely ordered about?"

"That won't be anything new.  It seems to me I have been at yours and
Kathleen's beck and call ever since I can remember--to say nothing of
Paddy and Eileen, who treat me as if I was only created to wait on them.
I suppose I shall be expected to lead off the ball with one of you!"
feigning disgust.

"What impudence!" they cried together.  "Here are we impressing upon you
that in future you are to treat us with great respect, and you start off
by coolly claiming one of the greatest favours we can confer."

"Not at all," quoth Jack.  "I merely await your orders.  I know that one
of you will expect me to have the first dance with you, and all I ask
is, which?"

"Then you are just wrong," said Doreen, tossing her head.  "I wouldn't
lead the dance off with you--if--if--my kingdom depended upon it."

"Well, I never asked you to," wickedly.  "You shouldn't be in such a
hurry to decline before you're asked."

"You wretch," with a laugh.  "Well, I'll just take you to pay you out.
There--write `Jack' on the first line at once," and she handed him her
programme.

Jack took it readily, for of the two he preferred Doreen, the younger,
and he calmly proceeded to write his name faintly the whole way down the
cardboard.

"Goodness!" she cried, when he gave it back to her.  "Look at this,
Paddy!  Did you ever see such cool impudence?"

"They're nearly all promised to me," said Paddy calmly, "so it's of no
consequence, and now we can both treat him as we like.  He'll be very
useful if we get partners we don't like, and, of course, he can't dance
with anyone else."

"No of course not--what fun," and Doreen and Paddy went of gayly, while
Jack sought Eileen.

"He's put the supper-dance very black, so he means that," said Doreen.
"Why isn't he having it with you as usual?"

"I guess he thought he'd like a change," Paddy replied loyally, "and
quite time," and Doreen was satisfied.

The next moment a voice in Paddy's ear, with a ring in it that she could
not well mistake, said quietly:

"I've been looking everywhere for you, Miss Adair."

"Then you must be very blind," she answered brightly, "for in my own
estimation I've been very much _en evidence_ all the time so far.  But
perhaps you did not recognise me?"

"Perhaps," with a little smile, and Ted Masterman surveyed her in that
quiet, masterly way of his, that always made Paddy feel rebellious, with
the most unmistakable admiration written on his face.

"You look like the Great Mogul," she exclaimed, "criticising me in that
calmly superior way.  It's all my own hair; don't be alarmed."

"It's the most beautiful hair I have ever seen," he said, in a quiet way
that could not possibly offend her.  "I always thought it was a pity you
did not treat it better."

"Then you had no business to think about it at all, or to criticise me."

"A cat may look at a queen.  How many dances are you going to give me,
now I have risked losing my berth to be here!"

"Perhaps two," hiding a twinkle in her eyes.

"More," he answered.

"No," resolutely.

"I say _more_."

"I don't care what you say."

"I am going to have my dances all the same," and he gained possession of
her programme.

"I've a great mind to cancel the supper-dance, and not have any with
you," trying to look annoyed.

"Now you look angry," he said; "but don't be cross to-night.  After
to-morrow I shall not trouble you again for a long time, so you can well
afford to be magnanimous."

Paddy evidently agreed, for she took back her programme and only feigned
a slight frown when she saw his name on four different lines.

Without meaning to be unkind, the thought, "perhaps it will vex Jack,"
entered into her mind and stayed there.

And so the game at cross-purposes went on.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

PADDY'S VIEWS ON SENTIMENTALITY.

When the music for the first dance commenced, General Adair led out Mrs
Blake, and almost simultaneously Kathleen and Doreen with their
partners, and Lawrence with Eileen followed suit.  Paddy, however,
waited breathless, to watch her father.

"I'm all on thorns," she explained to her partner.  "I simply can't
dance for a minute or two.  Daddy's clothes are too tight for him to
laugh in with any safety, so goodness knows what will happen if he
dances long!--I must warn him."

She succeeded in getting within earshot, and at a loss for an
appropriate warning, remarked in an audible whisper, with feigned
anxiety: "Daddy--remember Lot's wife," which so tickled the old soldier
that he nearly come to grief through her, instead of being saved from
it.

"How well she looks to-night!"  Mrs Blake said warmly, following Paddy
with admiring eyes.  "You must be very proud of your girls, General.
One is beautiful, and the other full of originality and charm."

"I am, Madam," he said.  "I am, indeed.  There's not an officer in the
British Army knows less about fear than Paddy--she'd storm any
stronghold in the face of any guns, and never turn a hair.  If she'd
been a man, she'd have written her name in English History.  I used to
fret about it a little, but Lord!  I wouldn't change her now for all the
fame in Europe.  I'm thinking there's just as much need in the world for
brave women as brave men, and none too many of them."

"Indeed, you are right, General.  Paddy will find her vocation yet, and
perhaps write her name in history too."

Meanwhile, Lawrence and Eileen glided round almost in silence.  Both
were perfect dancers, and content while the music continued to leave all
conversation alone.  Afterward they rested in a small alcove, and
Lawrence took the opportunity to feast his eyes on his partner's
loveliness.

"You are looking splendid, Eileen," he said, with unwonted warmth for
him, "that dress suits you perfectly.  Did you choose it yourself?"

"Yes," lowering her eyes, that they might not tell too plainly their
tale of gladness.

He hatched her a moment, thinking of her perfect naturalness, and then
across his mind floated the picture and remembrance of Gwendoline Carew.
How different they were, these two girls, who, for the present at any
rate, held sway in his fickle affections.

Against Eileen's simplicity, he could not help a little inward smile at
the thought of Gwendoline's past-masterdom in the art of attracting, and
holding, and queening it generally over the opposite sex.  He thought he
would like to see them together, and supposing Gwendoline should take it
into her head to be jealous, he smiled inwardly at the notion of what
her summing up of her rival might be.

Then Eileen looked up into his face, and somehow again his defences grew
weak.

"Out of sight, out of mind," had ever been his motto, and while the
image of Gwendoline faded, a recklessness took possession of him to
enjoy the evening to the full.  It was so seldom he found anything to
enjoy now, and he easily persuaded himself Eileen was too sensible to
jump to rash conclusions.

And for the rest! well! he was going to India directly, and things would
easily smooth themselves out again.

So he leaned forward and talked to her just in the way she liked best,
and the way that brought the colour quickest to her cheeks, and the
changing lights to her eyes that were so good to look upon.

"Now I must go and give myself up to duty," he finished with a sigh,
when the second dance was about to commence.  "It feels rather like
journeying through a sandy desert, with an occasional oasis when I dance
with you."

"Oh, no!" she said quickly.  "There are such a lot fit nice people here,
you will enjoy it all ever so much."

"Opinions differ," with a slight shrug of his shoulders.  "But I shall
certainly get half an hour's amusement out of Paddy."

The supper-dance at all private dances in the neighbourhood of Newry was
looked upon as the dance of the evening, because it was the one in which
any two young people who had a special preference for each other could
be quite sure of a _tete-a-tete_.  Things were arranged very leisurely,
as it was customary for the hand to follow to supper after the guests,
and meanwhile the young folks amused themselves.

On this particular occasion, however, there chanced to be several young
folks to whom circumstances had not been kind, and consequently,
contrary to all precedent, the time hung heavily.

Of these, Jack perhaps was the greatest sufferer.  If he could have been
with Eileen he would have been in a seventh heaven, but not only was he
debarred of this, but he saw with raging heart two vanishing forms in
the direction of one of the conservatories, unmistakably those of Eileen
and Lawrence Blake.  At supper he had been near them, and in one or two
brief passages, his honest outspoken antipathy to Lawrence has been
neatly turned upon himself by the accomplished society man, and there
had at the same time been a half-tolerant, amused expression in his eyes
that made Jack feel like a caged wild beast.  This naturally had only
given his enemy the greater secret satisfaction.

Then if only he had had Paddy, he thought he might have relieved his
feelings a little; but having Lawrence's own sister for a partner, there
was nothing for it but to try and hide his chagrin under a show of
hilarity.  In this he at least entertained such of those who remained
chatting in groups by the fire.

He little dreamed, however, that poor Paddy was in scarcely better
plight.  Not that she disliked Ted Masterman in any way, indeed she
liked him immensely, but when he was lover-like it fidgeted her, feeling
just that soreness over Eileen, that made any other man's attentions
unwelcome and irritating.

Nevertheless, she found herself sitting in the little alcove half-way up
the big staircase with him, where the moonlight came through the
stained-glass window and made a pattern on the floor, shaded by the
heavy curtains from the glare of the lights.

Below them in the bright comfortable hall near a large log fire, they
could see the little groups, that laughed and applauded, while Jack in
company with a youth as lively and irresponsible as himself, feigned a
merriment he was far from feeling.  Paddy watched, and in her own quaint
way, rebelled against a Fate that made puppets of herself and her
friends, for she understood exactly what was passing in Jack's mind.

Indeed, she was so engrossed that she gave quite a start when her
companion, after watching her in silence for some minutes, remarked
quietly:

"I'd give something to know what you are thinking of, Miss Adair."

"Why! the group down there, of course," she answered.  "They look so
pretty, don't they, in evening dress, with the big old hall for
background and the firelight on their faces?"

"Yes," quietly, "but personally I can find a still more pleasing picture
close at hand."

"Oh, the moonlight!" with a gesture of impatience.  "It's making you
look quite sentimental.  Please don't give way to it, though, because if
so, I shall be obliged, to give up this comfortable chair and go to the
hall.  I can't bear sentimental people; they irritate me frightfully."

The man smiled a little in the shadow, and the look of innate strength
and resoluteness of purpose deepened on his face.  There was that in Ted
Masterman's eyes to-night, as from the vantage ground of shadow, they
jested unceasingly on Paddy's face, which suggested a preparation for a
struggle in which he meant to win.

How long or how short seemed a matter of little importance just then;
for one instinctively saw in him the steady perseverance of the man who
knows how to wait.

And it is generally to such the victory is given; for greater than the
power of riches, or learning, is the power of knowing how to wait.

Ever since Ted Masterman helped a drenched, dripping figure of a girl
into his little sailing yacht, and met that frank face that ended in
laughter, in spite of her sorry plight, he had known himself her slave,
and that henceforth the purpose of his life would be to win her.  If the
winning was to be hard, and suffering entailed, he was prepared to face
it, because he knew that Paddy was worth the cost, whatever it proved,
from the first time that he saw her in her own home.

His keen eyes noted instantly that the charm and brightness, which made
her so popular abroad, were just as freely lavished upon her own circle,
and that if she were beloved by her outside friends, she was yet more
beloved and idolised there.

Then, when he found her perfectly indifferent to his attentions, the
spirit of conquest was roused within him tenfold, and he loved her yet
more for her airy independence.

He half guessed her feeling for Jack O'Hara; but Jack's devotion to
Eileen had recently become so plaint to all except Eileen herself, that
he did not let it trouble him.  In this he was wrong, for Paddy was,
before all thing, staunch, and having given her affections, she would
not easily change.

"I'm not getting sentimental at all," he replied.  "I know better, for I
don't want to have my head bitten off my last evening."

Paddy smiled, and was mollified.

"It's awfully silly, isn't it?" she said.  "I hate anything sentimental.
I like people who call a spade a spade."

"And I wonder what you like them to call love?" he suggested.

"Oh, `love,' I suppose, only they needn't look like sick sheep over it,
and prefix half a dozen idiotic adjectives."

"I thought perhaps the mere word was too sentimental," with a little
smile, "and you would prefer to invent some term of your own."

"Very likely I shall, when the time comes for it.  At present I have a
great deal too much on my hands to have time to think of anything of the
kind."

"In what way?"

"Why! every way of course!  There's Daddy, and mother, and Eileen, and
the aunties."  She paused a moment, but something in his eyes made her
run on recklessly.  "Oh! and the Sunday School, and the garden, and the
hockey club, and the aunties' cats, and Jack--!"

"It's quite a long list," looking amused, "and O'Hara at the far end."

"He's in good form to-night," she said, gazing down at the group in the
hall.

Ted followed her eyes.

"He seems to have cheered up since supper."

"He can't bear Lawrence Blake, he never could, and they were sitting
rather near together at supper."

"I fancy there's a little rivalry," he suggested.

"Oh, I don't know!" with an attempt at unconcern.  "He never did like
him at any time."

"Blake is a very clever man," thoughtfully.

"Yes--but he's awfully conceited.  I'm always trying to take him down a
little."

There was a short silence, then Ted remarked very quietly:

"This time to-morrow I shall be on my way home, and my holiday will be
over--the very best holiday I ever had in my life.  I suppose I shall
not see you again until next summer, when I hope to come back!"

"I guess not."

"I'm sorry Omeath is so far from London--"

Paddy began to fidget, and kept her eyes fixed on the group in the hall.

Ted watched here again with that keen gaze of his; and a great
tenderness all unknown to himself spread over his strong face.  He
seemed to see instinctively, that in some way, a hard time lay ahead for
this eager, impulsive girl; and that with all his love and devotion, he
would have to stand aside and look on, without being able to help her.
If so, he knew that whatever it proved for her, it could not be less
hard for him, and his heart sank a little.  He wanted very much to tell
her about his love before he went home, but her very attitude told him
the uselessness of it, and he did not want to vex her their last
evening.

So instead, he asked with a smile: "Would it be too sentimental to say
`thank you' for all you've done to make my holiday the best I've ever
had?"

"Yes, decidedly.  Besides, I haven't done anything at all except torment
you occasionally.  Let us go down to the hall.  I want to know what
they're all laughing at," and she got up without another word and led
the way downstairs.

Jack glanced toward them as they approached, and Paddy saw vaguely an
expression of pain underlying the gaiety of his manner, that hurt her
like a blow.  She could not bear to be miserable herself, but she could
bear it still less if those she loved were miserable.  She looked round
vaguely for Eileen, feeling an impulse to annihilate Lawrence, and make
Eileen see how things stood.  But neither were to be seen.  Under the
large palm by the fountain in the conservatory, Lawrence was again
feasting his eyes on his partner's loveliness, and skillfully drawing
that changing colour to her cheeks, and those lights and shadows to her
beautiful eyes.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

THE CONSERVATORY AND THE DEN.

The fountain had a little tinkling, singing sound, and there was a
delicious odour of flowers, which mingled entrancingly with the shaded
lights and graceful bending ferns.  Eileen felt it rather than saw it,
as though all her senses had become one deep appreciation and enjoyment.

Long afterward, when recalling every moment of that quiet half-hour, she
was conscious of exactly the light, and the scent, and the sound, and
would shrink away from certain hot-house flowers as if they hurt her.

But for the present there was only a deep content in her heart and a
vague dream of happiness, shedding a soft light over all her future.  In
all their intercourse, it seemed to her that Lawrence had never been
quite so fascinating before, and though now and then he seemed to draw
himself up sharply and suddenly adopt a very matter-of-fact tone, she
scarcely heeded it.  In truth, though Lawrence meant to enjoy his
half-hour to the full, he had no intention of becoming lover-like; and
when he found her charm growing too much for him, he did indeed pull
himself up with a jerk and try to resist.  Yet he could not bring
himself to be sufficiently honest to speak of his approaching departure
for India.  He felt there was time enough, and if he told her now, he
might be led into explanations that would be troublesome.

And Lawrence hated anything at all disturbing or troublesome, or in the
nature of an explanation.

Eileen was not blind to his failings, and many a time his callousness
had hurt her, but, like so many good women, she had a boundless faith in
the power of goodness, and believed she could make anything of him once
he loved her.  In this she was doubtless right, but she was too
pure-minded and honest herself to perceive double-dealing in others, and
she did not realise that a man like Lawrence might act one thing and
feel another.

_If_ he had loved her, she might have made anything of him; yet--but
what if he did not?  Lawrence admired her beauty and respected her
goodness, but he did not love her--he only pretended to himself that he
liked her better than any one else when they happened to be together.
Possibly, if "love" came at will, he would have chosen then and there to
love her with his whole heart and make her his wife.  But Love is a
fugitive, wild thing--bold as a robin, and timid as a lark--and usually
none can fit any "why" or "wherefore" to its erratic wanderings.  And
hand in hand with Love is usually Pain--pain against which we cry out
blindly, and wrestle and struggle to escape--childishly indifferent to
the teaching of the Ages--that Pain alone is the soil in which grow
Strength, and Courage, and Joy.

In the worst hour of her suffering afterward, Eileen was yet, in a
sense, happier and richer than the man who caused the pain.

But now the fountain tinkled and the lights glowed softly, and the scent
of hot-house flowers filled the air.

"I thought it would be deadly at Omeath," Lawrence was saying.  "If it
had not been for the mater, I should not have come, and, instead, it has
been very pleasant.  How often it happens that we start off on some trip
we expect to enjoy thoroughly, and are disappointed all through; whereas
we make martyrs of ourselves and undertake something we detest, and it
turns out a pleasure from beginning to end."

Eileen looked a little thoughtful.  The thought crossed her mind that he
had not, then, came back for her.

"Yet you seemed happy enough here before?" she remarked at last.

"So I was," he replied at once; "and I had just the same feeling about
coming in the first place.  But then I did not know about you, Eileen."

"But you did this time," smiling.

"Three years is so long," he answered unblushingly; "and I imagined, of
course, you would have changed, or got married, or something.  Most
girls change very much in three years."

"Do they?" quietly.

"Yes; but you and Paddy are evidently different.  I might have known you
would be."  He turned the subject deftly to a less dangerous theme,
speaking of mutual friends, until a sudden cutting censure brought a
remonstrance to her lips.

He looked into her face and changed his tone suddenly.

"All the black sheep are white to you, Eileen.  You are too ideal.  You
look at everything through the spectacles of idealism, and expect too
much of life.  You would be wiser to try and harden your heart, and care
a little less about everything.  You seem to regard most of your
fellow-creatures as possible angels, and all the time we are most of us
rogues and scoundrels."

"I don't believe it," firmly.

"That's because you don't want to.  All the same it is true.  Half the
world knows it, and makes no fuss; and the other half pretends to be
blind for their own satisfaction."

"You only talk like this to tease me," she said; "but I like your
honesty.  A man who pretends to nothing and is something is so much
nicer than the man who is nothing and pretends much."

"I am neither," he answered, "for I combine the two.  I pretend nothing,
and I don't care."  She smiled a little in spite of herself.  "You do
pretend something, for you pretend that you do not care."

He looked into her eyes a moment, with a curious expression in his, and
Eileen glanced away with embarrassment.  He was thinking for the
hundredth time how sweet she was, and how--if only--?

He knew vaguely that the man who won her would win a treasure; but he
loved his liberty, and his heart said "not yet," and so he contented
himself with a look that might mean volumes, or nothing.

And Eileen was satisfied.  He had paid no real attention to anyone but
her, merely doing his duty as host to the rest of his guests, and,
undoubtedly, that meant a good deal.

As a matter of fact it was so.  Lawrence was nearer proposing that
evening than he had ever been in his life before, and he could hardly
himself have told what deterred him.  Perhaps it was a question of the
bandsmen finishing their supper five minutes earlier than was expected--
upon so slight a thread hang the issues of life.  Certainly, leaning
forward with his arms resting on his knees, and his whole soul drawn
toward the sweet-faced girl beside him, he felt himself on the brink of
the plunge that would have changed all her life and his, when, quite
unexpectedly, the band struck up in the distance.

At the first note, he sat up suddenly, as if he had been awakened, and
instead of the question trembling on his lips he smiled a little, and
said: "How cruelly the time has flown!  I had no idea we had been here
half an hour!" and then they both got up, and he gave her his arm back
to the ball-room.

Eileen felt a queer little tremor that was almost fear, but she only
answered in her usual quiet tone, and smiled up at the partner who came
forward to claim her for the dance.

But the evening was not over yet, and another incident had still to add
its mark upon the unfolding of the hours.  Lawrence had still to have
his dance with Paddy.

It came toward the end, when some of the guests, who had a long drive,
had already departed, and the formality of the commencement of the
evening had merged into a more free and easy air for all.  Paddy had had
a set of lancers with Jack, and Doreen and Kathleen and their partners,
that had bordered upon a romp, and had made her eyes shine, and her
cheeks glow with radiant enjoyment, for she had the happy knack of
throwing herself heart and soul into the moment, and in this instance
the moment had been full of delight.

Lawrence found her trying to get cool again, while carrying on her usual
flow of chatter, to the amusement of the others; and with a smile, he
remarked:

"I'm sorry to deprive you all, but this is my dance with Miss Adair."

"Goodness!" exclaimed Paddy in alarm.  "Do I dance with you next?"

"According to my programme you do."

"Oh, that's all right," frankly.  "I was only thinking my hair was
rather untidy, and my face somewhat highly coloured for such an august
occasion as a dance with your majesty."

"Your hair never looked better," he replied, "and your colour is most
becoming."

"Really!" with a gay laugh.  "If you keep this up for five minutes I
shan't know myself.  You must be careful, for the high honour of dancing
with you alone is almost sufficient to unhinge my giddy brain."

"You could hardly dance with me and someone else at the same time," with
corresponding lightness; "but I'm glad that you appreciate the honour so
thoroughly."

"Appreciate it!  Why, my dear man, I've been dying for this dance all
the evening."

"May you be forgiven," he retorted as they glided away.  Paddy was quite
as good a dancer as Eileen when she gave herself up to it, and, with
such a perfect waltzer as Lawrence, she could not fail to do so, even if
she could not be prevailed upon to enjoy it in silence.  So, as they
glided round, she plied him with a string of eager questions relating to
dancing and gayeties in far-off lands.

"You ought to get your father to take you abroad," he told her
presently! "you'd enjoy all the novelty so tremendously."

"Should I meet a lot of nice, superior, cultured young men like you?"

"Well, hardly up to my standard," he laughed.

"Then I don't want to go.  When I can talk to you, and dance with you,
and gaze upon you here, why cross the sea to other climes?"

"I was thinking more of the countries."

"And have you ever seen anything in all the world so beautiful as the
Mourne Mountains and Carlingford Loch?"

"Yes, many things."

"I don't believe it," stoutly.

"Well, come and see some of my photographs in my den."

"What!  Enter the throne-room!" in mock amaze.

"Yes; why not?"

"Oh no `why not' at all.  I'm simply dying to go.  I have been, ever
since I can remember.--I'm wild with curiosity to know what kind of
things an animal of your lofty nature collects in its den," and she
followed him eagerly down a long passage, and through a little
conservatory into the large, airy room known as Lawrence's den.

When he had switched on the electric light, her eyes grew wide with
interest and admiration.

"Well! if this isn't just all right," she exclaimed.  "How daddy would
love it!"

"It's somewhat warlike," glancing at his swords and weapons, "so you
ought to feel at home."

"I?--Why?" in surprise.

"Because you are always trying to quarrel with me."

"Nonsense!  I only tell you a few home truths for your good."

"I hope you find your pupil progressing favourably."

"Very middling," with a shake of her head.  "You know perfectly well you
have been bored to death nearly the whole evening, because there were
only two or three people you thought worth talking to."

"And if so--it is hardly my fault."

"Why, of course it is!  The people were just as nice as you, really--
rather nicer in fact--the only difference is a mere question of having
studied Browning, and Darwin, and a lot of musty old German and French
writers, whom, I'll be bound to say, you don't half understand."

"Possibly not.  But they have a way of developing the mind."

"Developing the mind!" scornfully.  "What's the matter with my mind?--it
develops itself.  I don't pore over musty books."

"Perhaps you are naturally more gifted," with light satire.

"Sarcasm is wasted on me," she retorted.  "It flows off like water from
a duck's back.  Why not tell me straight I'm an ignoramus?  Just as I
tell you straight that all your learning and experience does not give
you the right to think yourself so superior to other people, and give
yourself such airs."

"You are very outspoken," smiling a little in spite of himself.

"Yes; but I can take plain speaking, too, so if you want to have your
revenge, fire away.  I know that I've got a snub nose and no complexion,
and am always more or less untidy, because I've been told so often, but
you can tell me again if you like."

"I'd rather set you an example in good manners."

"That's good," appreciating it at once.

"Besides," he added slyly, "I don't see that it isn't just as bad to be
proud of a snub nose and untidiness, as of a beautiful nose or book
learning, and from the way you speak you positively revel in them."

"You have me again," she replied frankly.  "I guess we'll be friends for
ten minutes and you shall show me your views."

They sat down, and he opened an enormous album, but after the first few
pages she looked up at him entreatingly, and said with a delightful
little air of pathos:

"I'm so sorry, but if you only knew how I hate sitting still.  I--I'm
just dying to prowl round, and look at all the queer things on the
walls."

He closed the book with a laugh, and she sprang up at once, saying:

"I'll look at the views when I'm old and rheumaticky.  You must save
them for me," and then she went into raptures over a beautiful case of
foreign butterflies, afterward fingering with delight his guns and
swords.

"You ought to have been a man," he said almost regretfully.

"Why, of course I ought.  I've known that ever since they put Jack in
trousers, and not me.  But I guess I'll have to stay a woman now to the
end of the chapter, and make the best of it."

"Then you're sorry?" he asked, with interest.

"Sorry!" she repeated impressively.  "Oh, yes, I'm that all right, but I
don't believe in crying over spilt milk."

He watched her silently a moment.

"I shouldn't wonder if you haven't got a future, Paddy," he remarked.
"There's something about you that has the ring of achievement--only
there's not much room here," signifying the surrounding neighbourhood.
"Quite room enough," picking up a Mauser pistol and examining it with
the eye of a connoisseur.  "Can't I ride straight, and shoot straight,
and sail anything with a rag and a mast--that's achievement enough for
me.  What more do you want?"

He drew a bow at a venture, out of idle curiosity.  "I wonder where the
opposite sex will come in?  Don't you want to have adoring males at your
feet by and by!--most women do."

She looked frankly into his eyes with a gay laugh.  "Not me!  I haven't
time.  I'll leave that for Eileen.  Of course, if your lordship--!" with
a sudden irresistible twinkle.

He could not help laughing, and watched her with growing interest as she
wandered on from one curio to another, until she came to his writing
table.  Here she came to a sudden standstill, and a little involuntary
exclamation escaped her.  Lawrence looked past her quickly, to find she
was gazing with wide eyes, and a strangely mingled expression, at the
beautiful full-length portrait of Gwendoline Carew, noticeably in the
position of honour on his table.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

DREAD AND WRATH.

"Who is she?" she asked at last, with her customary out-spokenness.

"Do you mean the big portrait?" carelessly.

"Yes."

"Miss Gwendoline Grant-Carew."

Paddy gazed at the portrait silently for another space, and then
remarked:

"She is very beautiful."

"Yes, very," dryly.

Again Paddy was silent.

If she had tried she could not have analysed her feelings just then.
She was only conscious that in some way the photograph was a shock to
her.  Though she had scarcely confessed it to herself, she undoubtedly
shared the opinion of the neighbourhood, that Lawrence was paying Eileen
such marked attention with a view to marriage, and since the incident of
the clasped hands she had grown to think of him as a prospective
brother-in-law.  Unaccountable divination told her the rest.

"Why do you look at her like that?" asked Lawrence at last.  "Don't you
like her?"

"No," said Paddy slowly, "I hate her."

"But how can you," he laughed, "when you don't even know her?  As a
matter of fact she is just your sort.  Up to any fun, full of life, and
not the least bit conceited, though half Calcutta is at her feet."

"Calcutta," echoed Paddy a little sharply.

"Yes, why not?"

Again there was a moment's silence.

"Doreen told me you were going to India," she said at last.  "Is it
true?"

"Yes."

He picked up a paper knife and toyed with it.  Something in Paddy's
honest face made him avoid her gaze.

"When are you going?" she asked.

"In about three weeks."

She gulped down an exclamation.

"For long?"

"What a list of questions!" with light sarcasm; "it feels like an
examination paper."

But Paddy would not be put off.  She fidgeted restlessly with a letter
weight, and then asked again:

"Are you going for long?"

"I haven't the least idea."

"And this--er--Miss Gwendoline Grant-Carew," with a slight curl of her
lips, "you are engaged to her, or--going to be?"

"Can't a man have a chum's photograph on his table without being engaged
to her?"

"I don't know.  I am not a man."

There was a long pause, then she added: "I don't know much about men,
either, but I believe a good many of them think it very amusing and
entertaining to make love to three or four girls at once, and not care a
snap of their fingers for any one of them.  It may be amusing, but to my
thinking, it is the trick of a scoundrel.  I'd hate such a man," and she
tossed her head and drew up her slight form, with a defiance that was
almost a challenge.

Lawrence paled slightly, but he watched her with his keen eyes in a way
that bespoke a sudden and unusual interest.

He tried, however, to counteract the sense of strain in the situation,
by chaffing her.

"I believe your real name is Patricia," he said, "but this is the first
time I have seen you look the part.  I shall have to start calling you
`Patricia the Great.'"

She flashed a glance of scorn at him.

"`Patricia,' to me, means loyalty," she said, with significance.  "You
may call me what you like, but whether it is Paddy or Patricia,
`loyalty' is my watchword."

He felt almost as if she had struck him.  As if a glove, flung
passionately down, should lie on the floor between them.  He got up from
his chair, and half turned away, at a momentary loss for words.

"I hear the band," she said, and moved toward the door.

And it was noticeable this time that Lawrence had not heard it, and
instead of leading he followed.  Moreover, there was something about
Paddy's manner that forebade him offering his arm, and at the ball-room
door she turned her back on him without a word, and commenced chattering
to her next partner.

It would be difficult to describe the feelings of the different
occupants of the omnibus which took the party from the Vicarage and the
Ghan House home again that night, but undoubtedly the elder folks were
now the gayest.

The General was very lively, doubtless because he had got through the
evening without the dreaded mishap to his clothes, and was at the same
time relieved from the weight of anxiety they occasioned.

Miss Jane had enjoyed herself immensely, and was lively also, and even
little Miss Mary was aroused to an unusual gaiety for her.  Mrs Adair
saw the subdued light of happiness glowing in Eileen's eyes, and anxiety
gave place to hopefulness.

But for Paddy and Jack, there was only increased dread, though they both
strove bravely to continue to hide it beneath an assumed merriment.

Paddy saw, as her mother, the light in Eileen's eyes, and something
seemed to grow cold within her, and she bit her teeth together,
murmuring savagely, "I'll kill him, if he's been trifling with her."

Jack saw it, too, and his hopes grew weak, for he believed he was
already worsted; and he saw, with an inward yearning, the vision of all
the happy, careless, sunny days at Omeath passing slowly and surely
away.  "What should he do?" he asked, "and where should he go?"

His two devoted aunts noticed there was something wrong later on, before
separating for the night, and in Miss Jane's bedroom, they asked each
other anxiously.

"What is it?--what is wrong with our boy?"

Miss Mary having the greater intuition, was the first to offer a
solution.  "Can it be Eileen?" she asked with dread--"Eileen and
Lawrence Blake?"

They looked into each other's eyes with a sudden sense of awakening.

"Surely not--" murmured Miss Jane, but her face belied her words.

"Oh, sister," breathed little tender-hearted Miss Mary, "if it is true
he will suffer so.  I can't bear to think of our boy suffering," and two
big tears gathered in her eyes.

"Don't fret, sister," said Miss Jane bravely, blinking back a suspicious
moisture in her own eyes, "I don't think it can have gone far enough for
that.  You see we have lately somehow associated Eileen and Lawrence,
and Jack, of course, knew, so he would be guarded against caring too
much.  Probably it is just the sudden realisation that a change must
come over their old happy life, and he will quickly get accustomed to
it.  There is still Paddy, and I have always hoped so--" she paused, and
then concluded with a little smile, "What a dear, wild, irresponsible
pair they would make!"

Across at The Ghan House, in a room from which a bright light shone
through the trees, in view of Jack's window, the two other sisters were
taking off their pretty dresses, and preparing to slip into their two
dainty little white beds.  Now and then they laughed over something that
had happened at the ball, but for the most part Eileen was dreamy and
Paddy preoccupied.

"Was Lawrence very nice to-night?" asked the latter at last, longing to
know what had transpired.

"Yes," Eileen answered simply.  Paddy looked round suddenly and opened
her lips to speak, but something in her sister's face held her back.

She was going to ask if he had told her about going to India, but
realising how it might hurt Eileen if he had not, she changed her mind.

"I can't--I can't," she said to herself.  "She looks so happy.  I can't
damp it; if he has been playing with her, I will kill him--kill him--
kill him," and she clenched her hands together and tumbled into bed,
forgetting for the time her own trouble in her wrath against Lawrence.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

THE FIRST AWAKENING.

It was through her father, a few days later, that Eileen first heard of
Lawrence's plans.  He came blustering in from his usual daily walk one
morning and exclaimed:

"That fellow Lawrence is off again--going back to India to kill a few
more tigers--never knew such a chap--can't stay quiet scarcely a month--
pity he doesn't look after his estate at home, I think, instead of
gadding off over the seas again, and I nearly told him so."

Mrs Adair, at the first words, had looked up in surprise, but Paddy,
who was interested in a small sailing boat at the window, turned and
covertly watched Eileen.  As she half expected, she saw her turn deadly
pale, as if the news were a shock, and Paddy knew at once that Lawrence
had not told her the evening of the dance, although his plans were
already formed, and she hated him yet more vigorously.

Meanwhile, Mrs Adair asked wonderingly:

"Are you sure you are right, dear!  Nothing was said about it the
evening of the dance."

"I had it from Lawrence himself half an hour ago.  I asked him if he
would aid me in getting something done to the drainage in Omeath, and he
said he would give me a subscription, but he was going away himself for
some time.  He then told me he was going to India in three weeks."

Eileen looked up.  A sudden thought had come to her.

"It must have been decided in a great hurry?" she said a little
questioningly, and hung on the General's reply.

"No," came only too promptly.  "It was all arranged before he came back
to Omeath.  I don't know why he did not mention it sooner, but he is
never one to talk of his arrangements.  If I had only known, I would
have hurried on this scheme of sanitation, for I want his personal
support as well as his money.  It is very tiresome.  Bless the man! he's
like a wandering organ-grinder."

There was a pause, and presently Eileen rose and left the room.  Her
mother's eyes followed her with a look of suffering, but Paddy bit her
teeth together and said under her breath: "I'll kill him yet."

Half an hour later they all sat down to lunch, and Eileen joined them
with just her usual calm manner; only the shadows under her eyes had
deepened, and she seemed to avoid every one's glance.

After lunch she and Paddy were alone for a few minutes, and Paddy asked
with seeming carelessness:

"Didn't Lawrence tell you he was going to India, shortly?"

"I don't think so," very quietly.  "He may have, but if so I didn't
catch what he was saying.

"I am not very surprised," she continued with an effort, "as he said
something about not staying at home long when they first returned."

Paddy was non-plussed.

She had hardly expected Eileen to take it so calmly, and being at a loss
for an answer she wisely dropped the subject.

Presently she went in search of Jack.

"Have you heard that Lawrence is going to India in three weeks?" she
asked him.

"The General told me this morning," replied Jack.  "I can't say I'm
particularly sorry."

He was sitting on a gate that overlooked the bay, and Paddy leaned
against the top rail beside him.

"I didn't suppose you would be," she retorted; "but it's not very nice
for Eileen."

"Why not?" setting his mouth squarely, with an obstinate expression.

"Well, you know a lot of the people about here think they're engaged."

"And if they do--isn't it a thundering good thing they're wrong?"

"No, it isn't," getting nettled.  "If Lawrence has been trifling with
Eileen I'll kill him."

"Eileen has too much sense to care for a man who would behave so."

"You don't know anything about it.  You're just a great, big, blundering
baby," and Paddy looked as if she were on the point of tears.

"Whew!" whistled Jack.  "What have I been doing now?"

"Nothing, and that's just it.--If I were a man--if I were Eileen's
brother, I'd shoot Lawrence.  She hasn't got a brother, but you're the
next best thing and you ought to do it."

"I fail to see how I could benefit Eileen by getting myself hanged."

"I don't care," exclaimed Paddy.  "I don't care for any of you.  I'll
have it out with Lawrence some day, and make him pay for this."

"My dear child! you're making no end of a fuss about nothing,"
sententiously.

"Child!" echoed Paddy derisively.  "And I should like to know what
you've ever done to prove yourself a man."

Jack was so astonished, for a moment he could hardly speak.  In all
their lives he had never known Paddy adopt that tone to him, and he
regarded her as if she had suddenly developed into a new species of wild
animal.

"Oh, you needn't look like that," ran on poor Paddy, getting more and
more beside herself with exasperation; "you know perfectly well you are
little better than a mere boy.  If you had gone out into the world like
other men, and made a way for yourself, you might have come back and won
Eileen, and saved her from all that's coming.  And instead, you have
just sat still and stared at her, and let another man come in and spoil
everything!--and you call that loving!  If you'd any possible chance of
providing a home in a year or two, you might be able to do something
even now, but there you sit a mere boy at twenty-five years, and nothing
achieved except a good aim and a good yachtsman."

Jack was struck dumb.

For a moment they both forgot that Paddy herself had been one of the
principal supporters in his idleness--each in his own way saw only his
pain.

He got down from the gate slowly.

"Good Lord, Paddy!" he said, "I believe you're right," and without
stopping or looking back, he strode off across the garden toward the
mountains with his forehead wrinkled into two perpendicular lines.

Paddy watched him a moment, and then rushed away to a lovely little cove
by the shore, and throwing herself down on a bank burst into tears.

She did not quite know what she was crying about, but when she finally
sat up and dried her eyes she felt better, and was able to review the
situation more calmly.

"Perhaps, after all, Lawrence would soon be back," she argued, "and she
was making a great fuss needlessly.  Or perhaps Eileen did not care so
much as she imagined, and things would all come right yet."

At this point she was aroused by voices, and along the little path
through the trees, she descried Eileen and Lawrence coming toward her.

"Lawrence was just telling me about his trip," Eileen said pleasantly.
"He is going to have a splendid tour.  I think he is very wise to go
about and see the world while he can, don't you?"

Paddy did not answer, and somehow Lawrence carefully avoided meeting her
eyes.  Eileen's pluck was making him feel less pleased with himself than
anything else could have done.  They had met accidentally in the
afternoon, and she had immediately, in a charming way, congratulated him
upon his good fortune in being able to start off travelling again.

He had been a little surprised and a little chagrined, but he had been
nearer loving her then, than ever before.

Paddy's quick eyes saw at once how matters stood, and she followed
Eileen's lead.

Thus for the present, Eileen managed to blind the loving, watchful eyes
of the home circle.

Only to her beloved mountains, and that distant strip of turquoise,
which was the sea, she remained still herself and hid nothing.  In her
lonely little nook, high up on the mountain side, with the dear wonder
of loveliness that she so loved, spread out around her, she passed
through the first of those weary Gethsemanes, that sap the joy out of
young lives for a season.

At first it was so incredible to her.  Had he not looked his love so
often!--shown it in so many ways!--done everything, in fact, except
confessed it!  And if it were all a mistake, if he had meant none of it,
how base then he must be.

This hurt her the most.  She had never idealised him, she had rigidly
made herself see his failings, but because she had believed them only
the result of past circumstances and companions, and believed his love
would soon lift him above them, she had given him of her best in spite
of all.

But now everything was changed.  Of a surety he did not love her.

Sometimes, remembering a passage here and a passage there--a look here,
a look there--a touch, a tone, a sentence--her whole soul rose up and
cried: "It is false, it is a mistake, he does love me, oh! he does--he
does--he does--"

There would be a short space of passionate hope, and then calm reason
would step in and say with inexorable firmness: "How can that be, since
he goes away for no particular reason to the other side of the world,
when everything at home needs his presence?"

Then would follow a period of terrible self-depreciation, when poor
Eileen's sensitive nature shrank back horrified from the thought of all
she had given unasked--and her cheeks burned with a deep sense of shame
that she had allowed herself to believe in love where apparently no love
was.

Small wonder that her heart grew faint within her.  The mountains
understood, and the bay, and the lights and shadows, and the strip of
turquoise--or it seemed to the sad dreamer that they did--and so upon
every possible occasion she stole away to the solitude, to look out upon
them all with a world of pain in her beautiful eyes, suffering mutely
and alone.

Once or twice her mother had been about to speak, but with quick
divination Eileen had seen and stayed her.  The wound was too sore yet
to bear any probing.  She felt, at least, she must suffer alone.

"My child, you are looking ill," her mother said at last, and there was
a tremor in her voice that went to Eileen's heart.

"I am quite well, mother dear," she answered in that patient way of
hers.  "You must not trouble about me; there is no need for it."

For answer Mrs Adair put her hand on the bright head beside her.

"I understand, my girlie," she said in a pain-wrung voice.  "I
understand so well.  God bless and help you and comfort you."

Eileen could not trust herself to speak, but afterward she thanked God
that He had given her so dear a mother.

So the three weeks passed, and Lawrence came to say good-by.  He would
gladly have escaped the ordeal, but that he saw was impossible, so he
drove over with his mother the last afternoon, at her suggestion.  He
need not have minded, for there was no change in anyone.  Mrs Adair was
far too proud to show by word or sign any symptom of her feelings, and
both she and Eileen went through the afternoon with brave, smiling faces
and perfectly natural manners.

Only when he was alone with Eileen for a few moments was there any
constraint.  Then, in spite of herself, she was white to the lips, and
her hands played nervously.

Lawrence watched her covertly, and for the first time in his life felt a
cur.

"Good-by," she said, to break the almost unbearable silence, looking up
with an effort at brightness.

He took her outstretched hand and looked hard into her eyes.

"Good-by, Eileen," he answered, and hesitated a moment as if he would
fain say something else.  Then he suddenly dropped her hand, and went
out to see about the horses.

Paddy was in the stables petting them with sugar and apples, and
stroking lovingly their smooth, glossy coats, for she had a passionate
love for all animals.  When Lawrence came in she glanced over her
shoulder, and, seeing who it was, turned her back to him, and continued
playing with the horses.

Lawrence watched her a moment, and the thought crossed his mind that in
fire and spirit she was a good match for them.

The man went to pull out the phaeton, and Lawrence loosened the
headstalls, speaking in a low, winsome voice to his pets.  Both horses
immediately looked round, and playfully bit at his coat-sleeve.  Paddy
at the same time drew aside.  The voice that enticed them, evidently
repulsed her.

Lawrence glanced over one glossy back, with a slightly amused
expression, and remarked:

"I am not universally hated; you see.  Castor and Pollux put up with me,
in spite of my manifest shortcomings."

"You feed them," she retorted.  "All animals love the hand that gives
them food."

"Ah!  I see we are to part enemies!"

"Better an honest enemy than a false friend," icily.

"Yet I'm rather sorry," he went on.  "I like you much too well to want
to look upon you as my enemy."

"I do not feel as flattered as you may suppose.  It seems to me there is
little enough to gain in being your friend."

"Very likely," and he shrugged his shoulders with a sudden return of his
old cynicism.  "This seems likely to prove a striking illustration of my
pet theory that it is wisest not to care.  I had, forgotten it for the
moment."

The horses were harnessed and the man stood at their heads ready to lead
them round to the door.

"Go on," said Lawrence, "I will follow."

He turned again to Paddy.

"You have far more occasion to be glad than angry," he said, "but it is
hardly likely you will see it yet.  By and by--say in five years' time--
you will understand.  At present you do not know your world."

"Nothing will change my estimate of you," she answered cuttingly.  "I
wish Miss Gwendoline, what's-her-name--Carew, joy of her bargain."

"Now we are descending to personalities," with a fine sneer, "so perhaps
I had better depart."

"A most excellent notion, O Theophilus!" tossing her small head.

A gleam of admiration came unbidden to his eyes.

"You're good stuff, Paddy," he said, almost under his breath.  "I like
your fieryness uncommon well."

"That is how I like your absence," came quick as lightning.

"Well, good-by," and he held out his hand.

She put hers behind her, with unmistakable meaning.

He shrugged his shoulders expressively, and turned away.

When he had gone a few paces, he looked back.  She was still standing
where he had left her.  A sudden instinct brought him again to her side.
"Don't be a little fool, Paddy!  Come, be friends.  I may never come
back."

"It is not of the smallest consequence to me whether you do or not."
She still stood with her hands behind her, and her eyes never once
wavered before his.  He could not choose but admire her dauntless
attitude, now she had declared war.  He hesitated a moment, unwilling to
show himself beaten.  Then he gave a little laugh.

"I declare--I believe you've given me an object in life.  It will be
quite entertaining, some day, to break down your defences."  He looked
into her face.  "Do you hear, Patricia, when I come back, I shall storm
the fortress, and make you cry Peace yet.  Will you have a bet on it?"

"No," unbendingly, "I do not care to bet with you."  She hesitated a
second, and then finished with unflinching gaze: "I despise you."

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

BROODING CLOUDS.

There was a shadow upon the Parsonage.  The two little ladies looked at
each other with vague dismay, and asked wonderingly, "What is this that
has come upon us?"

At meal times Jack was nearly always gloomy and preoccupied, or if he
was gay his merriment was evidently forced.  Between meals he went for
long, lonely tramps, and constantly those two perpendicular lines
wrinkled his forehead.  Strangest of all, he seemed to avoid The Ghan
House, and Paddy was no longer his constant companion.

"Could we ask him, do you think, sister?" little Miss Mary suggested
timidly.

But Miss Jane shook her head mournfully.  They were feeling rather as
the hen who has reared ducklings when they first take to water.  This
docile, careless-hearted, affectionate boy they had reared, had suddenly
become a man, and in one stride passed beyond their tender, watchful
care.  Illness and weakness alone could ever bring him back as he had
been.  His troubles, his warfare, his striving, he would henceforth
wrestle with alone.

Moreover, there was Eileen's white face and deeply shadowed eyes also.
Nothing was said--what was there to say?  Only anxious, watchful nights
and yearning pain for another mother, whose fledgling was feeling the
first cold blast of Life's sorrow.

Mrs Adair's abundant hair, that had been turning grey of late, seemed
to go white suddenly in those weeks that followed the dance.  She had
borne so much; from a very early age Life had held the cup of pain to
her lips, and she had tried to drink and ask no questions.  But now, it
seemed to her that she had met the hardest blow of all.  Eileen was all
the world to her.  Long ago, when life was full of sadness in spite of
her good husband and beautiful home--for the sake of the man whose blood
had stained the ground on that far-off Afghan frontier, Eileen's baby
face had come as her first real comforter, and been life and joy and
sweetness to her ever since.  Perhaps it was a vague, inward
consciousness of this that made the father's heart turn with equal
devotion to his high-spirited, boisterous second daughter; while never
swerving for a moment from his devotion to her mother.

But now Eileen's cheeks grew white, and her beautiful eyes developed an
expression of quiet suffering that went to her mother's heart as little
else could have done, and made Paddy rage inwardly.

Until Lawrence had gone away again, and the old routine recommenced, she
had not known how much she had thought of him during his three years'
absence.  All that time she had cared for him secretly, though she had
hardly admitted it to herself.  Then when he came, and again sought her
before all others, and gave her of the best of his charm, it was only as
the match needed for the whole to burst into flame.

Vanishing once more, in silence and suddenness, he had left her with all
her dreams and hopes and happiness scattered broadcast at her feet.

There were moments when she could not understand, when even her
mountains and sky and sea could do nothing to soothe the whirlpool of
conflicting emotions in her heart.

"Why?--why?--why?"--she asked, and raised despairing eyes to the heavens
that only seemed to smile mockingly down.

She could not vent her feelings in anger like Paddy--least of all anger
with Lawrence--so in her misery she became a prey to those questionings
and reasonings which torment each soul confronted suddenly by some
strange enigma of existence.  Questions of faith, questions of doubt,
all the boundless "why and wherefore" of daily being thronged round and
hammered unceasingly at her brain, stealing the delicate colour from her
cheeks, the light from her eyes, and the elasticity from her steps.

In those first troubled days it was curious how Jack and Eileen both
turned to the mountains, the one for their companionship, and the other
for air.  Jack's troubled horizon made him feel as if he could not
breathe--it was like something gripping at his throat; so he strode off
up the mountain, where he felt there was more air and a wider sense of
freedom.  It was torture to him to see Eileen's white face and flagging
health, and not be able to do anything; and ever since Paddy's outburst
he had been ravaged by the thought that had he accepted a man's
responsibilities sooner, instead of frittering away his life, he might
possibly have been in a position to oust Lawrence before matters had
grown serious.

Paddy watched the two of them, and the ache in her heart deepened also;
the ache for herself, the ache for Eileen, the ache for him.  And with
it widened and deepened also her bitterness toward Lawrence.

Suddenly in the midst of their joyous life, it was as though a cloud of
darkest menace had descended, and she blamed him entirely.  Hopeful by
nature, she still cherished the belief that things would come all right
by and by, and meanwhile she spent nearly all her time with the General.

In some way he seemed ailing, and one or two spasms, like heart
seizures, had given them all a fright.  Mrs Adair did not like him to
go about too much alone for fear of another attack, so, as she was not
strong enough to walk far herself, Paddy quickly fell into the habit of
going with him every day.  Eileen would gladly have gone, but she could
not chatter like Paddy, and she knew, without feeling the smallest pang
of jealousy, which of them the father liked best for a companion.  It
only seemed natural to her that it should be so, for she had such an
admiration for Paddy's brightness that she felt everyone must in their
hearts prefer her.

So while sorrow drew Eileen and her mother closer together, failing
health did the same for Paddy and her father.  Day after day, in any
weather, the pair might be seen pacing the road either to Carlingford or
Newry--the grey-haired, soldierly man, somewhat bent now, leaning on
Paddy's arm, and the bright-eyed girl chattering briskly all the time
about anything or nothing.

Sometimes the General would tell her about his campaigns, of which she
never wearied, or he would go further back still and tell her of the old
days at Sandhurst and Aldershot and all the wild things he had done
then.  Once he brought the quick tears to her eyes by saying:

"Ah, Paddy! they were grand times, and I'd have liked you to go through
them; yet where would I have been for a walking stick now?  I expect the
Almighty knew best.  I married too late in life to be trusted with a
son.  Boys want a father who can be a boy with them, and not a crotchety
old man who needs caring for like a child.  It's hard, enough on the
girls--eh, Paddy!--a father who's too old and decrepit to take them
anywhere or be anything but a burden!"

Paddy stood still suddenly.  There were tears in her eyes, but she
frowned like some ferocious Medusa.

"How dare you!" she said sternly.  "How dare you speak to me like that!
If you ever say anything of the kind again, you bad, wicked daddy, I
shall just march you back home and not speak to you for a week."

The General smiled tenderly.

"Do you now, Paddy," he said a little wistfully, "before you came, I
used sometimes to think I'd done the wrong thing in persuading your
mother to many me.  You see, I loved her so; I was certain I could soon
make her forget and love again.  But women's hearts are wonderful
things.  I'm thinking God didn't make anything else quite as wonderful,
and it wasn't her fault that she couldn't forget.  But she was always
just goodness itself to me, and there was no sacrifice she would not
have made willingly to please me; but after a time I found it wasn't any
good, for I still felt she was mourning secretly.  I couldn't bear her
to be unhappy, you see, and feel I couldn't help it.  At first I thought
if she would only come to me, and let me have the right to take care of
her always, that in itself would be a world of happiness.  Afterward I
found it wasn't enough.  I wanted more of her love.  When Eileen was
born she was brighter and happier altogether, and at first I was
content.  Then I began to feel a little jealous of the newcomer who had
succeeded where I had failed, and to feel a new sense of loneliness."

"Poor daddy," Paddy said lovingly.  "I expect God said to Himself, `I
must send him something now that won't leave him time to think--the very
naughtiest, unmanageable child that can possibly live; and I'll make it
a girl instead of a boy, so that she'll be a good walking stick later
on.'  And behold! there was Paddy."

"Yes, yes, that's just it," he exclaimed delightedly, "the naughtiest,
unmanageable child imaginable--that's just what you were--and Lord! how
I revelled in it!  The first time I saw your bright, blinking brown
eyes, and your ugly little face--for you were a very ugly baby, Paddy--
my heart just went straight out to you, for I felt you at least were
absolutely my own.  Eileen was afraid of me; she wouldn't leave her
mother if she could help it, but you seemed to like the old man the best
from the start.  You would lie in my arms and stare up at me with the
sauciest expression, as much as to say, `Just wait till I'm a bit
bigger, I'll lead you a dance.'  Then you would grab at my moustache and
hang on like grim death; or you would start kicking out of pure
mischief, and land out right and left like a little demon, till I was
afraid I'd drop you.  When you could toddle I was little better than a
nursemaid, for there wasn't a dangerous spot you wouldn't immediately
make for.  The moment anyone's back was turned you were missing, and it
was a dead certainty you had found your way on to the quay, or taken a
stroll along the railway, or tumbled into the cucumber frame.  I
couldn't bear to go far for fear you would get into danger, and there'd
be no one at hand to save you, so I just hung round the grounds all the
time; and ever since then, Paddy, I've been as happy as a man need be,
for somehow things drew your mother and me closer together."

"Then we've all been happy, daddy, and that's good, isn't it?  The
aunties, and Jack, and you and mother, and Eileen and me, just the
jolliest family party in the world."

The General was silent a few moments, then he said, with a little tremor
in his voice, "I'm thinking it can't go on, Paddy."

"Can't go on!" with a sharp spasm of unknown dread.  "Why not?--O why
not?"

The old man did not answer.  Instead, after another pause, he continued:

"When anything happens to me, Paddy, you'll try and look after your
mother just as if you were a son, won't you?  It will be hard on you,
but you're so plucky.  I know you'll do your best.  You'll always
remember your old daddy worshipped her, and nothing'll be too hard then
for a brave girl like you."

"Daddy, you are not to talk like this," laughing that she might not cry.
"We'll be all together years and years yet."

"I hope so, Paddy--I hope so, but I'm an old man and there's no making
the old young again in this world.  You'll remember about being a good
son, eh!"

"Of course I will, daddy.  I'll just work like a slave to give her
everything she wants, but we won't talk about it now," and she cleverly
changed the subject.

That evening a third seizure took the General, and Jack was called in
hurriedly to help to get him upstairs to his bed.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

THE ANGEL OF DEATH.

Through four long, weary days, and four long, weary nights, the brave
old soldier fought his last and hardest fight; and all the time Paddy
never left him.

When the others broke down under the strain, she was strong still;
strong and calm, as she felt he would have been had he been in her
place.  She knew it was the last thing she could do for him to prove her
devotion, and the thought nerved her for a strain that might well have
vanquished older and stronger hearts.  Never once did the dying man open
his eyes and look yearningly round without seeing the young, strong,
pitying face of his heart's darling.

But when it was all over--and with a long-drawn sigh as of great content
the brave old General had passed away--she stood up and looked vaguely
round with a dazed air.  Her eyes met Jack's, and with a sudden low cry
she held out her arms to him.  Then, as he hastened to her, she broke
down in a paroxysm of weeping, all the more terrible from the long
restraint.

With great tears in his own eyes he carried her to her own room, and
laid her down on her own little bed, while he tried to soothe her in
broken sentences; until little Miss Mary sent him away, saying softly it
was better she should cry unrestrainedly.

Four days later, in the presence of several hundred people, General
Adair was laid to rest in the little churchyard of Omeath.  Every effort
had been made to keep the funeral quiet and simple, but so familiar and
beloved had he been, that from far and near young and old came to pay
their last tribute of love and respect.  There was no uncalled-for
weeping and lamenting; a spirit of solemn farewell seemed to spread over
all, encouraged by the brave, white faces of the widow and her two
fatherless girls.  The widow leaned on the arm of their only relative, a
brother of the General's, Dr Adair, from London, and Eileen and Paddy
followed together.  Jack and the two aunts came next, and that was all
the funeral procession.

It was one of those soft, sunny days that come sometimes in late
November, as if they had been left over from summer, and must be fitted
in somewhere; and early in the evening a young moon looked tenderly down
through the trees upon the bereaved home and the new-made grave with the
white wreaths spread all around.

The little waves of the Loch murmured tremulously against the beach, as
if they would fain be silent, but, since that was not possible, they
would make their rippling upon the shingle as gentle and soothing as
they could.  The tall trees stood like sentinels; now and then a little
breathing whisper passed through their scanty leaves, but there was no
unseemly tossing or creaking to mar the solemn silence.  In the
distance, all around, the Mourne Mountains reared their heads to the
starlit heavens in a sublimity of majestic steadfastness.  It was,
indeed, an eve of surpassing loveliness that commenced the watch of that
first night around the flower-strewn grave, lulling with ineffable
sweetness the last, long sleep of the fine old warrior.

It crept with a tender soothing into Paddy's aching heart also as she
silently threaded her way through the shrubs and gravestones to the spot
where the flowers lay.  The peacefulness of it all, the sense of a work
well done and all Nature offering tribute--her sure and certain hope
that it was indeed well with her father--kept her eyes serene and her
face calm, although there was a drawn look about her mouth that went to
the aunties' hearts.

When she reached the grave, she stopped and tenderly re-arranged the
flowers, freeing some that had become twisted or crushed, and giving
others more room to breathe.

"Daddy would not like any of you to get hurt through him," she
whispered, "and you must just try and keep fresh as long as possible."

When she had finished she stood up, and a sudden terrible sense of loss
enfolded her.

"Oh, daddy, perhaps you'll be lonely in Heaven," she whispered brokenly.
"It doesn't seem possible you can be happy without mother and Eileen
and me.  We're so terribly lonely without you here.  I'm so afraid God
won't be able to comfort you without us up there.  Only, perhaps, in
some way, you are with us still.  I expect you will be our guardian
angel now, and you'll understand all the things that are so strange and
mysterious to us; and you'll know about the glad meeting coming, and how
beautiful it will all be some day.  I know you won't forget or change,
daddy, and I'm glad we should have the pain instead of you; yet, how I'd
love you just to come and tell me that it's all beautiful, and you're
not lost and lonely among so many strange angels.

"I know it's all right, daddy, I mustn't talk like this, and you're not
really far away at all.  I can feel you quite close, only I can't see
you.  Daddy! daddy! how shall I bear to live for years and years without
seeing your dear face," and she broke down into low, pitiful weeping.

In the moonlight another form could be seen approaching, but Paddy was
not aware of it until an arm was slipped through hers, and a big,
sunburnt hand closed over her small one.  She knew at once that it was
Jack, but for some moments neither of them spoke.  At last he cleared
his throat and said huskily:

"Your uncle has been asking for you, Paddy.  I came to look for you."

"What does he want?" she asked wonderingly.  Jack hesitated a little.
At last he said: "I think it is something you have to be told.  I'm a
little afraid it's bad news."

She started and turned a shade paler.  Then she glanced down at the
flowers.

"It seems as this were surely enough," she breathed half to herself.

"I wish I could help you, Paddy," he burst out.  "I wish I could help
you all.  If you only knew how I hate and loathe myself for having
wasted all these years."

"Poor Jack!" she said gently, and stroked the big brown hand.

"You must go now," he said.  "Your uncle is waiting in the library.
Will you come out again afterward?"

"Yes.  Wait for me by the boat-house," and she turned away and crossed
the churchyard.

In the library her uncle, a kindly, strong-faced man, was anxiously
looking for her, and when she entered he glanced keenly into her face.
He had been hearing a good deal about her from one and another during
the last two or three days, and it was because of a plan he had in his
mind that his glance held such searching interest.

"Did you want me, uncle?"

"Yes, dear."

He hesitated, then went on: "You slipped away this afternoon the moment
I had finished reading your father's will, didn't you?"

"Yes, uncle.  Ought I have stayed?"

"It did not make any difference, my child, except that I must explain
now what has passed since.  You heard, I suppose, that your father lived
almost entirely on his pension, and that the greater part of that ceased
at his death?"

"Yes," wonderingly.

"In fact, he seems to have had nothing left of his private property
except this house and grounds, and even upon this there is a mortgage.
At some period, though not within recent years, I think, with his usual
kind-heartedness, he has put his name to bills for one or two brother
officers, and they have not been met, and your father has had to pay.
In short, my dear, your father was a noble-hearted man, but he had no
business capacities, and what with one thing and another, you and your
mother and sister are left very badly off."

A sudden fear seemed to seize Paddy, and with dread in her eyes, she
half whispered:

"Yes, uncle.  Go on."

The doctor cleared his throat and played nervously with his watch-chain.

"There does not seem to be anything except your mother's pension now,
and that is barely enough to support three."

"And The Ghan House--!"

What was it in Paddy's voice that made him turn away a moment and apply
his handkerchief vigorously to his nose?  What was it in the aching
pause that opened those eyes, wont to brim over with fun and laughter,
wider and wider with dread?  But nothing was to be gained by delay, and
at last the doctor said slowly:

"You will have to leave The Ghan House."

Paddy sat as if she had been suddenly turned to stone.  On the top of
all the rest, this last blow fell like a death-stroke.  Her uncle gave
her a little time to recover, and then he sat down and, resting his arms
upon the table, leaned toward her.

"Paddy, my child, it's terribly hard for you all," he said in a gentle
voice, "but I'm so hoping you will help me to do the best for your
mother and sister."

He had touched the right chord; no other method could have gone so
straight to Paddy's heart.  She gulped down the hard, dry sobs that
threatened to choke her, and looking up with an effort said:

"I promised daddy I would be a good son."

"And I'm sure you will!" her uncle exclaimed.  "You will prove yourself
a true Adair--your father's own flesh and blood.  You see," he continued
more seriously, "what I am most troubled about is your future and
Eileen's.  While your mother lives there is the pension, such as it is,
but when she dies, you two little girls will have practically nothing--
except an old uncle who will always do what he can."

Paddy looked up gratefully, but he gave her no opportunity to speak,
continuing immediately:

"If I were a rich man, you should none of you want _for_ anything, but I
am far from it.  We Adairs have a fatal gift of getting through money--a
truly Irish trait--and a great part of my private means have gone in
medical research, and my practice is in a poor parish, where I have to
get what fees I can and leave the rest.  As you know, your aunt has a
little money, but she has insisted upon giving Basil a most expensive
education, and now he is only half through his exams.  He may not pass
his final for two or three years, and meanwhile he is a great expense."

He paused and there was a long silence, then Paddy looked up, and,
steadying her voice with an effort, said:

"I must earn money, uncle.  I must do something at once."

The doctor knit his forehead together.  He knew only too well how, in
spite of the widening opportunities for women of earning a livelihood,
it is desperately hard for a young girl, fresh from the country, who has
done nothing but play most of her life, to gain any kind of a footing in
the ranks of women workers.

"It is difficult to begin," he said, "and you have had no training."

Paddy was silent.

"I think it will be better to go away from this neighbourhood first," he
began, as if feeling his way a little.

"Oh, must we?" she cried.  "I think I could teach or something.  It
would break our hearts to go away from the mountains."

The doctor shook his head.

"I have a plan," he said, "and you must talk it over together and let me
know your answer in a week or two.  Comparatively recently, it has
become usual for doctors to employ women, instead of men, as dispensers.
There is a certain amount of studying necessary and an examination to
be passed, but this once over, they are able to demand very good
salaries.  You are a smart little woman, Paddy, and I have been thinking
it would be an excellent arrangement for you all to come to London, and
for you to fit yourself to be my dispenser.  I would pay you a hundred a
year, and that would not only be a help to your mother, but it would
mean that you had something substantial to fall back upon when she is
gone."

"A hundred a year!"  Paddy half gasped.  "Isn't that a great deal?"

"Oh, no!" carelessly.  "It is what most dispensers get."  He knew that
it was considerably above the salary of the average lady-dispenser, but
he did not want Paddy or her mother to know, and in any case he believed
she would be well worth it to him.

"You must just think it over well," he said, "and let me know later what
you decide.  If your mother does not approve, I will try to think of
something else, but if she does, there is no time to be lost.  You must
begin to study in January, with a view to getting through in July, and I
will pay all the fees for you.  I was obliged to speak to you to-night,
my dear, because I must return to London to-morrow, and I may not have
another opportunity.  You are a brave girl.  God will help you to do the
right," and with a suspicious moisture in his eyes he stooped and kissed
her forehead, and went out leaving her alone.

Then it was that the flood-gates were opened, and throwing herself down
in the chair where her father had been wont to sit so often, she gave
way to hopeless, heart-broken weeping.  She had said little enough to
her uncle, but in reality the news had been a terrible shock to her; it
had never entered her head for a moment that they must leave the old
home.  Even now it seemed utterly impossible--as if it were better that
they should all three lie quietly in the churchyard beside their beloved
dead, than go away from the loch and the mountains and leave him there
in the churchyard alone!

When he weeping had spent itself, she remembered Jack and how he was
waiting for her at the boat-house, but just for the moment she felt too
exhausted to rise.  Presently, however, she dragged herself up, and with
a long, sobbing breath, turned to the door and crept noiselessly through
the hall to the garden, and made her way down across the railway track
to the spot where she and Jack had met so often to go upon one of their
many madcap escapades.  He was leaning against a post, lost in thought,
and he started a little when her light footstep sounded on the shingle.

"Is that you Paddy!" he asked.

"Yes, Jack!" came the answer, and he felt vaguely that there were tears
in her voice.

He went forward with outstretched hands, and took her unresisting ones,
trying to see into her face.

"I thought you were never coming," he said.

She gulped down a sob, and big tears splashed upon his hand.

"What is it!" he asked, feeling cold suddenly.

The little wavelets hushed their singing, a twittering bird stopped to
listen; over the majestic sleeping mountains, the shining stars, the
steadfast heavens, the sentinel trees, the shimmering, wistful loch,
there seemed to spread the hush of a spirit of pain, as he heard her say
in a trembling voice:

"We have to leave The Ghan House, and the mountains, and the loch, and
go and begin over again somewhere else."

He said nothing--what was there to say!  To both of them the words were
like a sentence of doom.

CHAPTER NINETEEN.

IN WHICH THE WORST CAME.

The shadow upon the Parsonage had become actual distress--deep,
poignant, all-absorbing distress.  The two little ladies still looked
mutely at each other, while this thing that had come upon them began to
take actual shape.  First there had been the vague anxiety for Eileen
and Jack--then the loss of their old friend the General--then the bitter
news that The Ghan House must be given up; and it seemed for the time
that their cup of trouble was full.  And yet the worst was still to
come.

But it is necessary first to go back and review the events of the weary
week that has dragged past since the flowers were laid upon the new-made
grave in the little churchyard.

There had been many consultations, and many tears, and much pain, ere it
was finally decided the good doctor's offer must indeed be accepted, and
early in the new year the mother and her daughters must start for London
in order that Paddy might begin her studies at once.

Meanwhile, Jack had been absent a great deal in Newry, and had returned
always with a deeply thoughtful expression, and moved about in the
preoccupied manner of one having some project weighing heavily upon his
mind.

One evening he had come in quickly and gone straight to his room without
saying a word to anyone, and he had not come down again, though Miss
Jane had gone upstairs and begged him to come and have some supper, or
let her carry it to his room for him.

"I couldn't eat anything to-night, auntie," he had answered, "but I am
quite well.  Please don't worry about me," and poor Miss Jane had gone
back to the dining-room with tears in her eyes, wondering what had
happened to make their boy shut himself away even from them.

"Perhaps he has seen Eileen," little Miss Mary suggested.  "I know he
went across to The Ghan House, and as Mrs Adair is laid up, and Paddy
had to go to Newry, there would be only Eileen about."

And little Mary was right.

Jack had seen Eileen.  He had had his first uninterrupted talk with her
since her father died.  He had found her sitting alone over the library
fire, leaning back with a tired, wasted look on her face, and a closed
book on her knee.

"May I stay!" he asked her, and she had mutely acquiesced, and he had
closed the door, with a strange throbbing in his heart.

"Won't you sit down!" she said, and he had shaken his head without
speaking, and remained standing with his back to the fire, leaning
against the mantelpiece, where he could watch her face the better.  He
could see that she was looking ill, and the sight smote him.  He
realised that, perhaps, she was suffering even more than the others.
Indeed, it was so, if possible, for in her longing for her father, her
heart would turn and turn piteously to Lawrence, and only feel the
greater desolation.  Yet no word or sign escaped her.  Only that frail,
wasted expression grew on her face, and the unchanging sadness deepened
in her eyes.

"It seems impossible that only a few weeks ago we were all so happy," he
said at last.  "It's very hard when Life lets you go on being careless
and light-hearted for years and years; and then, without any warning,
suddenly grips you by the throat and makes you feel half strangled by
the weight of it all."

She did not speak, and looking straight before him he ran on:

"It seems as if the death of the dear old General would have been enough
in itself, but on the top of that comes this awful separation.  Do you
know, Eileen, sometimes I think it can't be true--that it is too awful
to be true--that The Ghan House should stand here and none of you in it,
and that the sounds craning over to the Parsonage should be from other
voices than yours.  Sometimes I feel I can't bear it; and yet I know it
will have to be borne."

Still she did not speak.  She was so tired--so tired--and what was there
to say?

"And that isn't all, Eileen," in a voice that would tremble in spite of
himself.  "It seems somehow as if it were my fault that you have to go
to London, and Paddy must work."

"Your fault!" she asked wonderingly.

"Yes, Eileen, in a way.  You see if I had taken the opportunities that I
might have had for the asking when I was eighteen, I should probably
have been doing very well indeed now, and been in a position to do
something for you all."

"You are very good, Jack, but it isn't likely that we should have let
you, though we should have loved you for thinking of it."

"I don't know," he said.  "Everything might have been different."  He
paused, then added: "You know.  I think I have always loved you, Eileen,
ever since you were a solemn-faced little girl; though it is only lately
I have realised just all it meant.  I know I have generally ran about
with Paddy, and been far more with her, but she was like a boy friend,
while you were always my ideal of all that is best and sweetest in a
woman.  It is only lately I have actually understood that all my life I
should love you better than the whole world."

"Oh, Jack!" she breathed, in a distressed voice, "please don't go on."

He smiled down at her, and there was something strangely beautiful in
his smile.

"Yes, let me go on," he said.  "It does me good to speak of it.  I am
not one of those men who feel bitter about loving when it is not
returned, and too vain to acknowledge that it is so.  To me it is such a
simple, natural thing to love you; and such an unlikely possibility that
you should return my love.  Perhaps, if I had been more of a man the
last nine years, and had started to make my way in the world, and then
come to you with something to offer, it might have been different; but
now! ah! that is just the hard part of it all."

"No, no, you mustn't feel like that," she cried.  "What should we have
done without you?--what would the aunties have done?--and I don't think
it would have made any difference, Jack."

He looked at her searchingly.

"If there is someone else, Eileen, perhaps not, and yet--and yet--how
often have you lectured me about being idle and good-for-nothing!  Would
to Heaven I had awakened, and listened to you sooner."

She buried her face in her hands.

"I suppose I ought not to ask if there is someone else," he said,
watching her.  "It would sound like an impertinence, wouldn't it?"

"Oh, Jack, don't talk like this," she begged.  "Please, please forget
about me.  It hurts me so much to feel that I am hurting you."

"No, I can't forget," he answered very firmly.  "I don't want to; but I
have no right to bother you with my love, when I have nothing in the
world to offer.  But I am going away, Eileen.  I am going right away out
of the country altogether, and some day, if I have succeeded, I shall
come back; and if you are free I shall tell you again what I have told
you to-day."

"You are going away!" she repeated incredulously, sitting up and gazing
at him with questioning eyes.  "Going away!--out of the country!"

"Yes.  I ought to have gone before."

"But the aunties, Jack!--whatever will the aunties do?"

"I am afraid they will feel it very much, but I know they will
understand, and I must go."

"But where to?  Have you actually arranged it?"

"Yes.  There is a man is Newry named Wilkinson--I don't know if you know
him.  He is home from the Argentine for a few months' holiday.  He has a
large cattle ranch out there, and he wants me to go back with him.  I
have decided to go."

"Oh, Jack!" was all she could say.  "Need it have been so far?"

"Beggars can't be choosers," with a wintry smile.  "I believe it is a
good thing.  Wilkinson is a nice fellow, and he has done very well in
the ten years he has been out there.  We were chums at school, you know,
and he offers me a better job than anyone else would."

"Poor aunties!  It will half kill them."

There was a long silence, then Jack spoke again:

"I hoped--perhaps--that is," he began hesitatingly--"Eileen, couldn't
you give me one word of hope to live on all the years I must be away?"
He drew nearer and sat on the arm of her chair, as he had so often done
through the time they had grown up together.  "You'll miss me a little,
perhaps, and wish I could come back sooner--tell me, Eileen, that you'll
miss me."

"We shall miss you terribly, Jack," she answered, struggling to keep
back the tears.  "England will not be the same without you.  Mother and
Paddy and I will miss you terribly."

"Is that all?"

He leant forward and clasped one hand over both hers, looking hard into
her face.

"Is that all, Eileen!" and his voice was a prayer.

"I'm afraid so, Jack.  Oh!  I wouldn't have hurt you like this for the
world.  I never dreamt!  I never thought!  Are you sure you mean it,
Jack?--Isn't it just a dream or something?"

"No, it is not a dream--I mean every word of it--but there is nothing
for you to blame yourself about, and you must never do so.  I think,
perhaps, there is someone else--I was half afraid--only I wanted so to
think it was a mistake."

There was another long pause, and tears rolled slowly down Eileen's
white cheeks.

"I wish I could think that you were happy," he said painfully.  "It
makes things worse going away and feeling that you are breaking your
heart.  It isn't as if he were worth it.  I don't even think he could
make you happy if he tried; he's too set in his own ways and opinions."

"Don't, Jack, please," she said.  "It is better not to bring any other
name into our talk."

"I am sorry.  Forgive me.  Only it's so much more terrible than you can
know.  It's like a raging fire in one's heart to feel as I do about it
all.  Only it does not make any difference to my feelings for you, and I
do not think it ever will, even if you marry him.  In any case I want
you to feel that I am your slave wherever I am, and that nothing would
be too much to ask me to do for you.  I shall hear of all that happens
from the aunties, and, perhaps, Paddy will write if she has time, and
after a few years I shall come back to see you all."

He stood up, and there was a new look of determination in his handsome,
boyish face.

"I mean to try and make up for all the time I have wasted," he said,
"and prove that there is some good stuff in me yet."

"Oh, Jack! you know we all think the world of you," she urged.

"I know you have all combined to spoil me ever since I was a little
chap," with a wistful smile, "and I guess it was about time Mother Fate
took me by the shoulders, so to speak, and pushed me out into the cold.

"She seems to have started off with the hardest blows first though," he
added.  "It just feels like a clean sweep of everything I cared for
most.  To-morrow I must tell the aunts.  I keep putting it off, because
I can't bear to begin, but it won't make it any easier in the end.  I
think I'll go for a tramp now.  Trudging over the mountains helps a
little and I feel--oh!  I feel as if nothing in heaven or earth mattered
much because of you, Eileen," and he ground his teeth together to keep
his self-command.  A second later, feeling himself giving way, he strode
across the room, and, passing out, closed the door quietly behind him.

Eileen rested her arms on the table, and leaning her tired head down
upon them, sobbed her heart out in the old library.

That was the night Jack went up to his room and shut himself in without
appearing at the supper-table, and the two little ladies clasped each
other's hands in mutely questioning distress, vaguely conscious that
some new blow was about to fall.  The next evening he told them.

They were sitting as usual, one on either side of the big, old-fashioned
fireplace, and Miss Jane's cap had got tilted a little to one side when
she went to the door to speak to Eliza Spencer, whose baby had the
whooping-cough.  Miss Mary's looked to be preparing itself to follow
suit.  They both wore little white shawls folded crosswise on their
breasts and pinned with large Cairngorm brooches, which looked as if
they might have come out of the Ark; and black silk mittens over their
pretty little hands.  In the morning the shawls were grey or black, and
the mittens of fine wool, but in the evening, all through the winter,
they sat on each side of the fireplace, dressed precisely the same, with
the same species of knitting in their fingers, reminding one of two
china ornaments.  Almost ever since Jack could remember it had been the
same, and he took in each little detail now with a new tenderness, from
the quaint little elastic-side boots just showing on each footstool, to
the softly waving white hair growing perceptibly thinner each year and
the dainty caps that had such a habit of getting awry.  Until that
evening he felt he had never quite known how dear his two second mothers
had become to him.

He sat now over by the table with his arms on a newspaper he was
supposed to be reading.  He felt as if he could control his voice better
if he did not come too near.

For a little while they talked in their kind, sympathetic way of Eliza
Spencer and her sick child, and then there was a breathing silence.  All
felt that something unusual was in the air.  At last Miss Jane looked up
from her knitting, and saw that Jack was not reading at all, but sitting
with his eyes upon their faces, and a deeply troubled expression on his
own.

"Is there anything wrong, dear?" she asked.

He cleared his throat, but the rising lump would not go, and he waited
several moments before he answered.  A pained look came into each
little, wrinkled face.  They knew then that something fresh was to come
upon them.

"I'm afraid you'll both be very upset," he said at last, and again he
had to pause.

"Go on, dear," said Aunt Jane encouragingly, seeing what ah effort it
was to him.

"I am going away," he blurted out, almost like a schoolboy.  "I am going
to South America to earn my own living," and then he buried his face on
his arms, for he could not bear to see the distress come into their
eyes.

"Going away!"  He heard Miss Jane repeat it as if she could not believe
her own ears; and then: "South America--going away--to South America--"

Each piece of knitting went down into each lap, and two wrinkled faces
looked at each other as if they could not understand, and then turned
slowly to the man's bowed head--the fair head that it seemed only
yesterday had nestled to their hearts in babyhood.

"He can't mean it," breathed little Miss Mary.  "Indeed, sister, he
can't mean it--" There was a long silence, and then with tears coursing
silently down her cheeks Miss Jane said very quietly:

"Yes, he means it, sister.  The time has come for our bird to leave the
nest and fly away."

CHAPTER TWENTY.

EXPLANATIONS.

"It's just this way, aunties," he explained.  "Somehow, while you and
father made me feel you only wanted me to stay at home with you, I was
too easy-going and happy to care about the future at all."

He had come over to the fire place now and pulled a chair between them,
so that he was quite close to each.  The ice being once broken, it was
easier, and Miss Jane was helping him by her brave self-control.

"Then, a little while ago something happened which made me suddenly
think of what I meant to be or do in the future, and I realised how I
was wasting the years.  Since the dear old General died, and we heard
that Paddy and Eileen and their mother were poor, I have felt awful
about it, as if, had I only been making the most of these years, I might
have been able to help them now."

"Poor Jack," murmured Miss Jane gently, and little Miss Mary laid her
small withered hand upon one of his big ones.  "I am afraid it is
chiefly our fault, sister," she said sadly.  "In our love we have been
selfish."

Miss Jane pressed her lips together tightly.  She was thinking the same
thing, but it was hard to say it.

"You will have all that we have some day, Jack," she said presently.
"You will not be poor."

"I know you will do all you can for me, aunties," he answered, "but I
hope it will be a long, long time before anything that is your becomes
mine."

Then he told them all about his plans and about his friend, and they
tried to listen as if they were glad for his sake, and finally arranged
that Mr Wilkinson should be brought over to the Parsonage the following
day, so that they might get to know him and hear all about the country
he had come from.  It was quite late when they finally went upstairs to
bed, and no one spoke as they kissed their usual good-night in the
sisters' room, for their hearts were too full.  Five minutes later,
however, there was a gentle tap upon Jack's door, and in answer to his
voice little Miss Mary slipped into the room and softly pushed the door
to behind her.

Jack was sitting on his bed, feeling utterly wretched, and he had
remained so since he came upstairs.  Miss Mary sat down beside him and
slipped one arm through his.

"Jack dear," she said, "you know that sister and I don't really care for
anything in the world except you and your happiness, and that if we
thought you were unhappy it would be impossible for us to be otherwise?"

"Yes, auntie, I know," he answered, with a catch in his voice.  "You are
just too good to me, that's all."

"No, dear, because no words could ever tell all you have done for us.
If you had not come into our lives to keep us young and hopeful, a
sorrow that nearly broke my heart, and Jane's for my sake, would
probably have ended in making us sour, embittered old maids."

Jack shook his head; he knew how impossible that would have been.

"But it might, Jack," the little lady urged; "and so we must always feel
we cannot ever do enough for you."

That Jack had had no choice in the matter of coming into their lives did
not appear to strike her; but what of that?--she could not love him less
or more either way.

"What I want to say, Jack dear," she continued, "is that sister and I
have often thought how foolish it was that you should have to wait until
we are dead to have our money when we would much rather you had it now.
As you know, we have three hundred pounds a year each, and however much
we try we cannot spend more than fifty pounds each, living in this quiet
country parsonage.  So we think if you would take the remaining five
hundred pounds a year you might be able to win something of all you
want, and we should never miss it at all."

"How good you are--how good you both are," was all he could say.

"And you will take it?" with unconcealed eagerness.

"No, no," hastily.  "It is impossible--quite, quite impossible.  Oh,
auntie! how could I--a great strong fellow such as I--with my health and
strength, take away the income of two frail women?"

"Jack dear," she urged tearfully, "don't look at it in that way.  It is
only that we long to repay you for all the happiness you have brought
into our lives."

"It is impossible, auntie," he said, and his eyes glistened.

"Jack,"--there was a new note of tenderness in Miss Mary's voice--"is
there anything between you and Eileen?"

For answer he dropped his face in his hands with a low groan.  For some
moments Miss Mary was silent.  She could not trust herself to speak.

"Don't think your old auntie over-curious, Jack," she said at last.  "I
love you so.  It is just as if the pain was mine again, as it was long
ago.  It is because I suffered so once, and understand it all, I came to
you to-night.  Perhaps if you could tell me about it--"

"You are an angel, auntie," he murmured, and gripped the little hand in
his until he hurt it.

Miss Mary waited.

"She doesn't care, auntie," he said at last, as if the words were wrung
from him.  "It just seems as if nothing in heaven or earth matters since
Eileen does not care."

"Poor boy; poor laddie," and a hot tear fell on his hand.

"And I don't know why she should care," he ran on, finding relief in
speaking.  "What have I ever done or been that she should care for me?
I must always have seemed just a great, lazy schoolboy, and not a man at
all.  And yet I have loved her since she was a little serious-faced
thing in pinafores.  I can't think why I did not realise it sooner, and
try to do something that might teach her to care.  Instead, I have just
waited until the wolf came and stole her heart away, and found out how
terribly I cared when the mischief was all done."

"Poor laddie, poor laddie," the little lady said again, letting her
tears flow freely.  "I don't think it was so much your fault as sister's
and mine.  We ought to have let you go out into the world sooner.  It
would probably have made all the difference.  Are you quite sure there
is no hope?"

"There is none now, but if he does not come back I shall still hope in
the future.  She will not care for anyone else, I think, and by and by,
perhaps, she will forget.  I shall go on hoping that if such a time
comes she will turn to me."

"I believe it will come, Jack," Miss Mary said hopefully, "and that in
the end she will indeed turn to you."

"But I must do something to feel more worthy of her auntie, and when I
come back I must come with something to offer.  I feel as if I had yet
to prove to her that I am a man," and he half smiled with a very wistful
expression.  "She has lectured me so often on being idle and wasting my
life; and I always meant to begin at something but somehow it got put
off.  Perhaps it was just staying in Omeath spoilt everything.  I feel
as if I should be different altogether when I get away from the fishing,
and shooting, and boating, among hardworking chaps."  He paused, then
added: "You must tell me everything about her that you possibly can, and
perhaps--perhaps when I come back she will be waiting for me."

"I believe she will, Jack, I do, indeed," and then the little lady
kissed him lovingly and went back to tell her sister.

But it was a long, weary night for all of them.  Jack's hopefulness was
only intermittent and vanished again almost as soon as it came, leaving
him a prey to vain, pitiless regret and longing.

As for the two little ladies, it was many years since they had spent
sadder hours.  Far into the night they wept silently, quite unable to
comfort each other.  That he must go away was so terrible to them; that
he must go away in trouble was only worse.  In a few weeks The Ghan
House would be empty and their birdling flown, and the desolation in
Omeath would be terrible beyond words.  Once before life had dealt them
a bitter blow, and for years joy had been crushed beneath it.  Then Jack
had come, and their old friend the General with his young wife, and life
had smiled on them again, and it had seemed that they had found a
"desired haven" for the remainder of their years.  And now, suddenly,
the cup was dashed from their lips again, and the old, old bitterness
offered, instead, and for that one night poor human nature rebelled.

Only the next morning it was as if the words, "Peace be still," had been
spoken through the silence of the starlit heavens, and two sweet, calm
faces greeted Jack at the breakfast-table.  For sorrow does not come
_so_ hard upon the old as upon the young, since when half the journey is
over and can be looked back upon, for those who have eyes to see there
is ever the God-light visible shining through the darkest hours.

That day Jack told Paddy, and the news began to spread swiftly, until it
was known in all the neighbourhood that not only was The Ghan House to
be let to strangers, but Jack O'Hara, everybody's favourite, was going
away across the sea to seek his fortune in foreign lands.  And in every
direction there was manifold sorrow and regret.  People did not like to
intrude upon Mrs Adair yet, but every day someone drove or bicycled to
the Parsonage to know if it was indeed true, and tried the two little
ladies sorely with their exclamations and questionings.

Moreover they were extremely busy.  Going away to a foreign land--for
all they knew, of heathens and cannibals--where there was never a woman
to sew on a button nor darn a sock, it was, of course, necessary for
Jack to have a regular trousseau.  Everything had to be new, everything
of the best, and every button and every tape sewed and sewed until it
would really have puzzled Jack to get them off if he had wanted to.

In vain he expostulated and pleaded as the heap of clothes grew bigger
and bigger.  They would not listen to him, and were deaf to his plea
that it would necessitate chartering a private ship if he were really to
take ill the things they were preparing for him.  When there was the
slightest indecision about anything, it was always, "What do you think,
sister?--will he want this?" or "Will he want a dozen suits of pyjamas"
or "Three dozen pairs of socks?" or "Do you think he would be likely to
require silk handkerchiefs?"  And always, whichever sister asked the
question, the other answered gravely, "He _might_," and that was
considered final.

The Parsonage rapidly assumed the appearance of a clothing warehouse or
permanent jumble sale, and Paddy's first real laugh broke out one
afternoon when she came over to help sew on name-tapes.  The order for
the socks had accidentally been repeated four times, with the result
that they were so literally swamped in socks that it seemed quite
impossible to get away from them go where you would.  All over the
drawing-room socks lay everywhere.  They hid in corners of the
dining-room, disported themselves in the kitchen, smiled at you from the
stairs, where they had been dropped in driblets when Miss Mary carried
one armful to the first story, to spread themselves over the bedroom.
In many places they were hopelessly mixed up with woollen underclothes,
which also lay broadcast around, waiting for name-tapes; while flannel
shirts and sleeping-suits of every hue and description draped
themselves, gracefully and otherwise, over chairs and on the dining-room
sideboard.  The half-dozen cholera belts, that he _might_ want, managed
even to get into the rector's study, though how or when no one knew, and
it was only after a frantic search they were discovered.  His suits of
clothes he had always left lying about since he left off petticoats,
also his boots; and now, as if unwilling to see old friends outdone,
these were tossed pell-mell among the rest, and walk where one would you
were pretty certain to stumble over boots or get entangled in trouser
legs.

When Paddy first saw it all there was a sort of aching pause, and then
she laughed till the tears ran down her cheeks.  Indeed, being somewhat
out of practice, she laughed so much that she could not stop, and
finally Jack attempted to stuff socks, and cholera belts, and woollen
garments down her throat, to help her, while, governed by instinct, the
two little ladies once more flew round collecting the breakables.

"I'm--I'm--so afraid you won't have enough things to keep you warm,"
gasped Paddy between her struggles.  "It's only about ninety degrees in
the shade, you know, in South America; you really ought to have two or
three fur coats and caps and a dozen nice warm blankets."

Two minutes later nothing was to be seen of her except a pair of feet,
emerging from a promiscuous heap of coats, waistcoats, socks, woollens,
shirts, handkerchiefs, and an odd boot here and there.

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

TWO LOVE STORIES.

Christmas Day broke clear and frosty--the last Christmas Day of the old
order.  Everyone woke up with an oppressed feeling and a vague wish that
for just this once the season of merry-making and gladness might have
been omitted.  For The Ghan House and the Parsonage it had always been
such a particularly joyous time, the aunties always spoiling the young
folks in every possible way, and Mrs Adair had been wont to say
laughingly when they were children, that she had to develop into a sort
of griffin armed with salts and soothing draughts, and follow them all
around.  And there had always been such presents too--ever since Jack,
as a four-year-old youngster, managed to slip out of the Parsonage in
his night-clothes and no shoes, on a cold Christmas morning, to get over
to The Ghan House to show Paddy and Eileen his wooden horse.  The
gardener found him trying to drag the animal over the breach in the
wall, his poor little feet blue with cold, but his eagerness was so
great that he could think of nothing but getting to The Ghan House with
that precious horse before any of the Parsonage folk caught him.  So the
gardener picked him up, horse and all, and carried him into The Ghan
House kitchen to be warmed, and then went back to tell the aunties and
fetch his clothes.  Meanwhile Eileen had heard him in the kitchen, and
managed to drag herself, burdened with an enormous doll, to the head of
the stairs, where she was only just rescued in the nick of time from
going down head first, doll and all.

But at breakfast-time things had looked a little more cheerful, for a
delightful surprise awaited everyone.  The two families had arranged to
spend the whole day together, and The Ghan House had been selected, so
that quite a large party sat down to the table.  Two minutes later the
postman arrived and Jack and Paddy once more raced and fell over each
other to the door.  They came back with their arms loaded.  It just
seemed as if everyone who knew them had seized the opportunity of
expressing their sympathy by means of a little present.

There were books, and handkerchiefs, and pictures, and purses--never had
there been such a Christmas before as far as presents were concerned,
and even Mrs Adair smiled to think her girls were so genuinely beloved.
The greatest surprise of all came last, in the form of an envelope on
each of the three young folk's plates.  With eager fingers Paddy got
hers open first, and then uttered a little cry of amazement, and in two
seconds was hugging both aunties at the same time with a vigour that
added consternation to their discomfort.

Each of the three envelopes contained a cheque for twenty pounds, and
the three recipients could find no words to express their thanks.

Later they all went to church, the Adairs sitting as usual in the top
pew on one side of the little aisle, and the Parsonage folks in the top
pew on the other side; just as they had sat ever since Jack and Paddy as
children had had to be closely watched, because they would peep at each
other and make signs behind their elders' backs.  Vivid recollections
thronged the aunties' minds that last Christmas before the boy left
them.  They remembered how he and Paddy would try to see who could sing
the loudest, all out of tune of course, and had considerably disturbed
the music of the whole congregation; how Jack, as a little chap, loved
to slip out of the pew when his father was reading the Lessons, and
stand beside him--and how once, when Paddy had happened to be sitting on
the outside of the Adair's pew as a reward for being a good girl, the
temptation had been too much for her and she had slipped after Jack; of
the Sunday Jack had put a little frog in her pocket, and she had found
it and screamed out in church; and of another time when Paddy,
exasperated because he would not look at her, had deliberately, in a fit
of naughtiness, thrown a hymn book across the aisle at his head.

For one and all there were recollections that saddened and gladdened at
once, but perhaps for Eileen were the saddest of all, because the most
hopeless.

Close behind, on one side, where his thin profile had been distinctly
visible, was the spot where Lawrence had often sat on a Sunday evening
after coming to church, as she could not but know, especially to see
her.  The Blakes' parish church was at Newry, but Lawrence was never
seen there; if he went to church at all he walked over to Omeath, and
went in to The Ghan House to supper afterward.

It was in vain Eileen told herself he was unworthy, fickle; struggle as
she would she could not tear him out of her heart, nor forget for a
moment all he had been to her.  The effort to do so, combined with her
mourning for her father, and the dreariness of the future, had seriously
affected her health the last few weeks, and just as they were finishing
the first prayers, everyone was startled by the sound of a fall, and
discovered Eileen in a dead faint.  A second later, with a set,
compressed expression, Jack had picked her up as when she was a child,
and carried her out, across the churchyard and into the Parsonage.  When
he laid her down on the sofa, his own face was scarcely less white than
the face on the cushions, and he smothered a sound that was almost a
sob, as he turned away to make room for Mrs Adair and Aunt Jane.

So the day ended in sadness after all, for though Eileen came round
quickly, she was almost too weak to stand, and in the evening Jack
helped her across to The Ghan House, and then went to fetch the doctor.
It had been arranged for her and Paddy and their mother to start for
London the first week in January, where Dr Adair had already taken a
house for them, and they were to stay with him while the furniture
followed, but in Eileen's state of health this seemed very unwise, and
it was finally decided Jack and Paddy should start off together, and
Mrs Adair and Eileen should move over to the Parsonage, and remain
there for a week or two following to London when their own home was
ready.

Mrs Adair and Aunt Jane and Paddy and Jack planned it all in a
consultation that Christmas evening, while little Miss Mary sat upstairs
with Eileen.  It was an opportunity she had wished for some time, for
her understanding heart saw that Eileen would be better if she could be
induced to speak of her pain, and she believed that she held a key that
would unlock her confidence.  She carefully closed the door and made up
the fire, before she drew an arm-chair beside the bed, and sat down,
saying:

"I think we shall have a quiet hour now, dearie, for the others are
talking business, and that will be so nice, won't it?"

Eileen smiled her consent, and Miss Mary went on talking softly, in a
soothing way that was natural to her.  Presently she laid a little
wasted hand on the invalid's and said simply:

"Eileen, my dear, you have always been especially precious to me.  It
goes to my heart to feel that you are unhappy and none of us can do
anything."

The quick tears sprang to Eileen's eyes, but she made no reply.

"I have been thinking, perhaps, if you could trust me--" Miss Mary
continued a little hesitatingly.  "I know how difficult it is to speak
of anything like this--I know how terrible it is to bear.  I once
suffered in just the same way myself, dearie, only perhaps for me it was
a little harder, for we were actually engaged."

Eileen was crying quietly now, wholly undone by Miss Mary's tenderness,
and made no attempt to speak.

"I always meant to tell you about it some day, if you cared to hear,"
Miss Mary went on, softly stroking the girl's hand, "and I have been
thinking I would like to tell you now, or shall I weary you?"

"No, please tell me," murmured Eileen, and her fingers closed lovingly
over her companion's.

"My dear, as you know, many people about here wonder why sister and I
have never married, but I doubt if anyone knows the real reason except
just she and I."  She paused a moment, and then continued simply: "You
have heard of old General Quinn, who used to live at Omeath Park?  He
was a hard-drinking, hard-living old man, and he had three sons, two of
whom took after him in everything.  The third son was quieter, but he
was terribly weak, though none of us quite knew it at the time.  He took
after his mother, who was a beautiful Irish girl from the South, but she
died young, and none of the boys had anyone much to look after them as
they grew up.  There was no real harm in any of them, but the two elder
were terribly wild, and the younger was very handsome and very fond of
popularity, though he followed none of the excesses of his brothers.

"They all three went into the army and were away some time, and then
Patrick, the eldest, and Allan, the youngest, came home on furlough.  My
sister and I were twenty and twenty-one then, and I believe we were
considered very pretty, but we had never been away from the Parsonage
much, and we knew nothing of the world beyond the mountains.

"Patrick fell in love with Jane, and Allan with me, and you can
understand, I think, how easily and naturally we were conquered, though
sister never actually got so far as Allan and I, who were secretly
engaged after a few weeks.  We were afraid to tell my father, because he
was angry with the old General about something, and we knew well it was
wiser to wait until his anger had blown over, as it always did pretty
quickly.  The only person who knew was my godmother, and she happened to
come and stay with us just then.  Fortunately for me she liked Allan,
though indeed she was certain to, for he was just as handsome and
popular as Jack, only without Jack's backbone.  She promised to help us
if she could, and advised us not to say anything to father just yet.  Of
Patrick and Jane she thought less, perhaps because they quarrelled so
often, and it seemed so very doubtful if they would ever be actually
engaged; though, when they were good friends, no one need wish to meet
with a happier pair.  Looking back since, I have not been able to help
feeling deeply sorry for Patrick.  Though he was wild he was not bad,
and Jane could have done as she liked with him.  I know now that he was
far the best of the three brothers, and it seems strange that he should
have been the one who had to suffer for the other's sins.

"Things were going on in this way when the Egyptian War broke out, and
Allan's regiment was ordered on active service.  It was a terrible time,
my dear.  Getting Jack's things ready now brings to my mind so clearly
that last week with Allan, and the misery of the parting when at last he
sailed away.

"Had I known what was to follow I could not have borne it all.  My only
fear, night and day, was that he would be killed in battle, and yet
before so very long my cry was changed to--`Oh, God I would that he had
been killed fighting for his country!'

"We did not hear from him for some time, and then his name appeared
among the wounded, and I was nearly distraught.  My godmother was
staying with us again, and through her influence we managed to get many
details we could not otherwise have done, and we heard he had been
rather seriously hurt, and as it might prove a long case he was going to
be taken to the hospital at Cairo.  I was not very strong at that time,
dear, and what with worry and dread, the winter tried me exceedingly,
and godmother grew anxious.  Then she hit upon a plan.  I must tell you
she was rich and she had no children of her own, which doubtless made
her care so deeply for me.  When she saw how I was suffering about
Allan, she made up her mind to take me to him--and when she made up her
mind about anything she always carried it through.  It took her some
time to talk my father round, but in the end he agreed to let Jane and
myself go away with her for three months, and a few days later we
started for Cairo."

She stopped, and remained thoughtful for a few minutes, as if recalling
all the facts more vividly to her mind.  Eileen did not speak, and
presently she added:

"It was nine months after Allan first sailed that we reached Cairo.  It
is no use to weary you with the details of the trip, or of what happened
when we arrived.  All that matters is, that in three days we discovered
he was married."

"Married!" gasped Eileen incredulously.

"Yes, dear, he was married to a great friend of the hospital nurse who
had nursed him--a rich heiress."

"Oh! auntie, what did you do?  How terrible for you, how terrible!"

"I was very ill for some time, there at the hotel in Cairo, and my
godmother and Jane nursed me night and day.  Afterward, as soon as I
could be moved, they got me away to Switzerland, and there I gradually
grew well again.  I thought it was hard at the time, Eileen, for I
wanted so to die, but I have lived to understand how poor and weak that
was."  She stroked the girl's hand tenderly.

"It is cowardly to want to turn and run away directly the path gets hard
and stony.  I was a coward.  I see it clearly now, and I have lived to
feel ashamed.  I am thankful that God did not hear my passionate pleas,
for it has comforted me often to feel I am trying to make up for the
weakness of that terrible year.  But it was so hard at the time; oh! my
dear, I know so well, when the future looks all black and hopeless.  But
it is never really so.  What God takes away from us with one hand, He
repays with the other.  I was quite certain no joy was left in all the
world for me--nothing but a long, lonely single life.  And instead, it
has all been so blessed and so sweet.  What I have lost in husband and
child, I seem to have found again a thousand times in you and Paddy and
Jack, and all the young folks and children around that I love so well.
It has been the same with Jane, I think.  For twenty-five years--that is
since Jack was born--we have been intensely happy in this dear, quiet
spot.  It is hard to lose him now, and you and Paddy also, and most of
our happiness will go with you, but we shall still have each other, and
it is not right to repine when one is drawing near old age and the
portals of the great New Day.  I only pray I may live to see you all
happy, for yours is not the only aching heart, Eileen--My poor boy!" she
added softly.

"I wonder you don't feel angry with me," Eileen whispered.

"My dear, how should I?--though it hurts us to know that Jack is
unhappy, we have lived long enough to see that sorrow is a great teacher
and a great helper, and we believe that by and by he will be glad again,
and bless the Hand that let the sorrow come."

"How good you are!"  Eileen breathed.  "It helps me only to hear you
talk."

"I want very much to help you," the little lady said sadly.  "You are
going away to a hard change, my child, and carrying more than one heavy
cross with you.  I wish I could bear something for you.  But you must
try not to brood, lest it injure your health and add to your mother's
sorrow; and you must try to be bright to help poor Paddy.  London will
be terrible to her, poor child I fancy I see her now straining her eyes
to the horizon, dreaming of her dear mountains and loch."

There was a short silence, and she said in a changed voice:

"But I have not finished my story yet.  I have not told you what
happened to Jane and Patrick.  It was not until we came back to England,
a year later, that I knew, and then it was a shock to me.  I am afraid I
was very selfish all through that year, or I should have drawn it from
Jane sooner.  It seems that Allan's conduct made her very angry with the
whole family, and while in Cairo nursing me she learnt a great deal
about the world generally that she had never known before.  Among other
things she heard how wild Patrick and his brother had been, and she made
up her mind she would have no more to do with anyone of the name of
Quinn, for my sake.  By a strange chance, Patrick's regiment came to
Cairo, and he sought her out at once and asked her to marry him.  A very
stormy scene followed, in which Jane vented her wrath against Allan upon
poor Patrick and denounced the whole family.  Then she accused him of
drinking and betting, told him she believed no one of his name could
keep faith, and sent him away.

"Poor Patrick; poor Jane--looking back now, I believe theirs was, after
all, the saddest case.  You see she loved him all the time, though she
did not know how much until she had sent him away.  And he loved her,
too.  For her sake he would have changed, and there was much good in
him; only when she sent him away like that he just gave in and sank
deeper, and not very long afterward he died of sunstroke in India.  For
a long time Jane never breathed a word concerning him, and then one day
I found her accidentally with her head down on his photograph, and I
made her tell me all.

"It was a strange mystery how one man's perfidy should be permitted to
spoil three lives, but it is good to think that what looks so mysterious
to our dim eyes is perfectly clear to Him, and in the end we shall
understand and be satisfied.

"That is all, dear!  Now you know why sister and I have never married,
yet are rich because we have known the deep wonder of Love.  It is worth
some sorrow to have that knowledge, and there is no life so barren,
whatever else it holds, as the life that has not known a deep and true
Love."

She got up, and in the firelight it seemed to Eileen that some inner
radiance lit up her sweet, lined face, reflecting a faint aureole round
her silver hair.

"I hear them coming upstairs.  God bless you, dear," and she stooped to
kiss Eileen's forehead before the others stepped softly into the room.

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

GOOD-BYE.

It was the early January twilight the day before they left that Jack and
Paddy went round to take their last farewells.  They slipped out quietly
and went alone on purpose, as neither felt particularly sure of
themselves, and they were determined not to upset the others.  This very
fact made Paddy remark resolutely, as they walked down to the quay:

"Now, we're not going to be sentimental, Jack, and we're not going to
act as if saying good-by was awful.  We've just got to pretend we like
it, do you see!"

"I'm with you," he answered at once, "only you'll have to show me the
way."

"Let's take hands and pretend we're children again to begin with," was
the prompt reply, and then, hand in hand, they stood and looked across
the water to Warrenpoint.

"We've had some fun there, haven't we!" said Paddy.  "Do you remember
the first time we crossed alone, when you were about ten and I was six,
and what a row we got into afterward!--and three weeks later we decided
it was worth it and went again?  Jack! what a scoundrel you were!" and
she laughed up into his face.

"I, a scoundrel indeed!  I like that!  Why, you put me up to nearly
everything, and called me a coward if I held back."

"Did I?" innocently.  "How wrong of me!  Good-by, my dear loch, we're
only going away for a little while, and well soon be back.  Mind you
don't forget."  And she turned briskly away, pulling Jack after her.

All through the grounds of The Ghan House and the Parsonage, path by
path, they trampled, laughing at a recollection here, an escapade there,
each pretending not to notice how near to tears they both felt.  Last of
all they came to the churchyard, and the hand in Jack's tightened
involuntarily.

"It will be the making of us, you know, Jack," she said, throwing back
her head with an odd little jerk, and speaking at random.  "I can see it
well enough now.  If you had not been suddenly awakened to the true
state of things, you'd just have hung on here, and never been anything
at all but two dear little old maids' spoiled darling.  By and by you
would have taken to sipping tea, and knitting, and having your slippers
warmed, and a hot-water bottle at nights, and grown very stout, and
quite forgotten you were ever meant to be a man.  You'd have been for
all the world like one of Lady Dudley's precious kittens, that are not
allowed out in the rain for fear of getting their feet wet.  You
wouldn't have been able to help yourself--just everything would have
tended to it.

"Oh! of course it's a splendid thing for both of us," running on.  "I'd
have developed into an oddity of some sort, you may be sure, and been a
kind of show person of the neighbourhood.  Or perhaps I'd never have
grown up at all.  I'd just have remained a rowdy kid--and fancy a rowdy
kid of thirty-five! wouldn't it be awful!  Now I'm going to be a good
son--it sounds lovely, doesn't it?  I'm so glad daddy put it that way.
Being a good daughter sounds namby-pamby and Sunday-schoolish, but being
a good son, when you happen to be a girl, sounds just fine.  And then
it's splendid not having to teach, isn't it?  Not that I could, for I
don't know anything; but I might have had to be a nursery governess and
worry about after tiresome children.  Mixing medicines sounds much more
exciting, though, I think, if I might have had my choice of anything,
I'd have been one of the keepers at the Zoo.  It would be just lovely to
be with the animals all day long, and find out all their funny little
ways, and make friends of them.  But best of all would have been to come
to the Argentine with you," hurrying on without giving him time to
speak.  "You'll ride bare-headed over endless grass plains, and have
great times with the cattle, and shoot and fish, and have wide-spreading
skies all around you still, while I'll be suffocated among the smuts and
chimney-pots.  Oh, Jack, Jack!" clinging to him with sudden weakness,
"God might have made me a man, mightn't He?  Then I could have come and
been a cowboy with you, instead of mixing silly medicines among the
smuts and chimney-pots."

Jack put his arm round her, but for a few moments he could not trust
himself to speak.

"It'll be all right by and by, Paddy," he said at last.  "You'll get
married, you know, to some awfully nice chap, who'll take you back to
the country again and just spoil you all day long."

She shrank away from him suddenly, almost with an angry gesture.

"No, I won't get married," she said.  "I tell you I won't--I won't--I
won't!"

Jack looked taken aback.

"Why ever not!" he asked.

"Because I won't, that's why.  You're no better than the other men,
Jack--and you're all a lot of blind owls.  You think a girl can't do
without getting married--that just that, and nothing else, is her idea
of happiness!  Such rubbish--you ought to have more sense."

Jack was quite at a loss to understand in what way he had so
unexpectedly offended, and for the matter of that Paddy was not much
wiser but under her show of determination and spirit her heart was just
breaking, and she felt she must go to one extreme or another to keep up
at all.  And then that he could talk so calmly of her getting married
and belonging to someone else?  Was it possible he would not care the
least little bit if his old playfellow could be the same to him no
longer?  Did his love for Eileen make her no more of any account at all?
Of course it was so--she could see it plainly now; he did not really
mind leaving anything or anybody except Eileen; the rest of them were
all in a bunch--just people he had been fond of once.  Her goaded heart
ran on, exaggerating every little detail in its misery, and adding
tenfold to its own loneliness; while in every thought she wronged Jack.

Before all things he was intensely affectionate and true; and so deep
was his distress at leaving his aunts and the old home and each inmate
of The Ghan House, that he had given less thought to Eileen than usual,
as the day of departure approached.

"What have I done, Paddy?" he said, seeing the wild, strained look in
her eyes.

"Go away," she said.  "Go away to Eileen, and leave me with daddy."

The tears rained down her cheeks, as she turned from him to her father's
grave, and leaning against a tombstone behind it buried her face in her
hands, murmuring passionately:

"Why did you go away, daddy, when I wanted you so?  Didn't you know I
hadn't anyone else?--that I'd be just all alone?  Mother loves Eileen
best, and Jack and the aunties love her best, but you and I belonged to
each other, and we didn't mind.  It wasn't kind to go away and leave me.
It wasn't good of God--it was cruel.  I'll be a good son, because I
promised, but I'd much rather come to you, and no one would mind.
Daddy, daddy, can't you hear me?  Ah!  I know you can't or you'd come to
me.  You couldn't stay in Heaven or anywhere else if you knew your Paddy
had this awful--awful lonely feeling--you'd just make God let you come
back to me.  Only you can't hear, you can't hear, and I'm all alone--
alone.  What shall I do through all the long years to come?"

She was now in a paroxysm of weeping, all the more intense that she had
kept up so long, and Jack was frightened.  His impulse was to run and
fetch one of the aunts, but something held him back.  Instinct told him
that there was in Paddy a kindred soul, which would shrink from letting
anyone see her in tears if she could possibly help it.  So he stood and
waited beside her silently, as he would have wished her to do had he
been in her place.  And when Paddy grew quieter, this action in itself
appealed to her more than anything else could have done, and all her
anger against him died away.

"I'm awfully silly, Jack.  I don't know what you'll think of me," she
said, trying to stay the tears.

"I think you're rather unkind," he answered.

She seemed surprised and asked "Why?"

"You know I think the world of you," he blurted out, feeling very near
tears himself.  "You know you're just the best pal a chap ever had."

Paddy gave a little crooked smile.

"Then you ought not to want me to get married," she said.

"You know I only want you to have a good time, and that I'd rather a
thousand time you were a man and could come with me to the Argentine."

Paddy slipped her arm through his and rubbed her face against his
coat-sleeve caressingly.  "I know you would, Jack.  I'm just horrid, but
you must forget and make allowances.  I feel--oh, I don't know what I
feel--it's so positively awful."

"I know," he said feelingly.  "That's just it, positively awful.  But
it's not any good minding, so we'd better go on trying to pretend we
don't.  I'll be glad when we're started now.  I dread to-morrow so."

The next evening they stood together leaning on the ship rail, and
straining their eyes up the loch while they steamed away from Greenore.
The terrible day was over at last, and both felt quite exhausted.  "How
had they ever kept up at all?" they wondered, through those three meals
of forced conversations, forced smiles, and poor attempts at merriment.
How had the aunties ever kept up?  Of a certainty they were sobbing
their hearts out now in the empty, empty Parsonage.  There had been no
tears until the final good-by and then the strain had become too much
for them.  But Jack had still held on manfully.

"Don't you fret, aunties," he said, with an odd little crack in his
voice.  "I'll be back almost before you've had time to tidy up after me,
with pockets full of gold; and Paddy and I will be flying over the
furniture again, and you'll both be collecting the ornaments, and you'll
just forget we've ever been away at all."

"That's if I don't poison somebody and get hanged meanwhile," said Paddy
in a cheerful way that made them all laugh in spite of themselves.  "I'm
sure I'll never know one medicine from another."

And now the ship is steaming away, and the two travellers strain their
eyes to the familiar mountains, outlined distinctly against the
star-spangled sky in the bright moonlight.

"I'm glad we can see the old giant on Carlingford Mountain," Paddy said.
"I've always had a kind of fondness for him.  He lies there so calmly
through all weathers, and when it's bright and sunny and not too hot I
can always imagine him heaving a sigh of content that it's not raining,
or snowing, or anything unpleasant.  Good-by, old man," waving her hand
to him.  "I'll be back again soon, and mind you don't change in any way.
I want you to look exactly the same when I come again.

"There are the lights at Warrenpoint," she ran on.  "Isn't it odd to
think that the people there are going about just as usual; and next
summer the Pierrots will come again, and we shall all be so far away?
The mountains look specially beautiful to-night, don't they?  My dear
Mourne Mountains, it's just as if they put on their very best dresses,
to look their nicest for our sake.  I'm quite sure they're sorry, Jack.
They're just awfully sorry, but they can't say it.  You see they've
watched us grow up, and we must have amused them a good deal at times.
They know all about that first rabbit we shot, when we stole daddy's
gun.  How proud we were, weren't we?  And they were so angry at home,
instead of delighted as we thought they ought to be, when we carried in
the trophies of our big game expedition.  You were Selous, you know, and
I was Captain Bailey.  We had been reading about them just before.  I
expect they know about every time we have got capsized in the loch, and
each time we were lost and nearly got in bogs, and just all about
everything.  Good-by again!" and she waved her handkerchief slowly.  A
bitter sea wind struck them.

"You'll catch cold," said Jack.  "Come in."

"All right," and she turned away.  At the entrance to the salon she
looked back once more.  "Good-by," she said softly to the night.
"Good-by, daddy's grave--try and keep nice.  Daddy himself will be in
London with me."

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

GWENDOLINE CAREW.

Lawrence Blake found Calcutta even more to his liking than he expected.
When he left England what conscience he possessed pricked him rather
severely, but when he reached India he was able to plunge into a round
of gaieties that left him little enough time to think.  Still, whenever
he remembered Eileen he felt the same twinge.  He recognised that she
was not quite like other girls.  She had not in any way laid herself
open to the blow he had dealt her, and she had certainly not led him on.
All through she had been just her own natural self, and he could not
but know this only placed his conduct in a still less pleasant light.
It would have been nothing to be proud of with any girl, but it does
sometimes happen that a man is not wholly to blame when he has gone
further than he meant.

At the same time Lawrence was a little surprised.  He had several times
paid quite as much and even more attention to members of the fair sex
without meaning it, and gone quietly away, but he never before
remembered experiencing the unpleasant sensation that he had acted like
a cad.  Did he then care more than he supposed? he asked once or twice.
No, this was not the solution, for if anything, he felt relief as the
distance between them lengthened.  It was then, perhaps, the fearless
measure of scorn that Paddy had dealt out to him, forcing him to see
himself as he looked in the eyes of anyone who loved truth and
sincerity.  This, and the growing consciousness of how infinitely above
him in all that matters most, was the girl whose heart he had carelessly
trifled with.

The passengers on that particular P. and O. steamboat bound for India
found Lawrence taciturn and morose to a degree, and in the end left him
severely alone.  When he arrived in Calcutta he revived, for there was
so much to distract his attention.  Gwendoline was charming.  Earl
Selloyd's attentions were more pronounced than ever, and playing at
rivals amused him.  And there was no risk of any serious harm this time
either, for Gwen was a wholly different type of girl from Eileen, and
perfectly well able to take care of herself.  She liked queening it over
him, and he was useful to her, and for the rest she was more likely to
trifle with him, than give him a chance to trifle with her.

They saw a great deal of each other because Lawrence was a great friend
of both her father's and mother's, and their doors were always open to
him.  So, while living at his club in Calcutta, he spent a part of each
day with the Carews, either lounging in the morning-room in the morning,
or dining with them in the evening, or accompanying them to some of the
endless social festivities they attended.

People soon began to talk, and generally designated him the Earl's chief
rival, but neither Gwendoline nor Lawrence paid any attention, only
amusing themselves with the Earl's discomfiture.  Mrs Carew was rather
set upon the coronet, however, and endeavoured to enlist Lawrence upon
her side.  The topic was brought up in the drawing-room one afternoon
about a month after he arrived, and just in the middle of it Gwen
herself burst into the room.

"He is an extremely nice man, and it is such an excellent position," her
mother was saying, and then, she stopped short to find her daughter
standing before her with laughter in her splendid dark eyes.

"So mamma is making a countess of me off-hand, is she?" she asked,
turning to Lawrence, who was looking on with an amused smile from the
depths of a big easy-chair.

"We were just considering how a coronet would become you," he replied.

"Oh! the coronet's all right," shrugging her shoulders, "but the man!
Heaven preserve me from marrying a woolly lamb with a spring inside,
that says `Baa-a-a' when you squeeze it."

"I didn't think you had got so far as that," said Lawrence wickedly.

"Don't try to be funny," retorted Gwen; "it doesn't suit your peculiar
style of cleverness.  Look here, mother," turning to Mrs Carew again
with the air of a young queen, "don't you go setting your heart on
Selloyd for a son-in-law, because I won't have him.  I won't have
anybody yet.  I'm having a glorious time, and I mean to keep on.  It's
all rot wanting to tie a girl up her first season.  I mean to have three
seasons, and then, if no one else will have me, I'll take Lawrence," and
she flashed a bewitching glance at him.

"Lawrence won't want a wife who's been in the lists three seasons," said
her mother.

"Lawrence will do as he's told," promptly.  "It will be a new
experience, and very good for him."

"And afterward I suppose you'll allow me the same beneficial course with
you," he remarked.

"Oh, no," laughing.  "Women who are reigning types of English beauty
never have to do as they are told.  They simply reign."

"All the same I'm afraid Lawrence would know you far too well to put his
head in such a noose," said Mrs Carew.  "If any man would let you do as
you liked, Selloyd would, and they say he is fabulously rich."

"I don't care.  He can keep his old riches and his old title: I tell you
I'm having a good time, and I don't mean to change it.  With half
Calcutta at your feet abroad, and Lawrence at your feet at home, what
could I possibly want more?"

"You will wake up one day and find Lawrence gone, and the others rapidly
getting tired of stooping."

"I don't care--and Lawrence would have to come back."

"That wouldn't be much good if he were married."

"Married!--Lawrence married!" and a ringing laugh sounded through the
room.  "Why, he'd never have the energy to propose, much less be
bothered to get fixed up.  He'll just lounge about in easy-chairs all
his life, smiling his cynical old smile, and rousing himself
occasionally to make cutting speeches.  The only way to marry Lawrence
would be to propose yourself, and arrange everything, because he'd give
in rather than have the bother of refusing.  That's how it will probably
end, and I shall take pity on him and be the victim.  I shall say, `Wake
up, Lawrie, you've got to marry me,' and I shall have the licence all
ready and drag him off then and there."

"Who did you say would be the victim!" he asked.

The butler entered with a letter, and, after hastily reading it, Mrs
Carew explained that she must send an answer that evening, and excusing
herself to Lawrence went out, leaving the young folks alone.  Gwendoline
seated herself on the arm of a chair near him and commenced a running
conversation.

"How did you like that photograph I sent you?" she asked presently.  "I
don't believe you ever had the manners to write and thank me."

"If I didn't it was because I knew I should be seeing you so soon."

"Well, how did you like it?  You don't seem inclined to go into raptures
over it, as you ought."

"All the same, I thought it excellent."

"What did you do with yourself in that deadly little Irish hamlet?
Wasn't it perfectly awful?  Why didn't you come away sooner?"

"I rather enjoyed it than otherwise."

"Oh! you rather enjoyed it, did you?" pricking up her ears.  "I thought
you never could be bothered to enjoy anything."

"I can't say I put myself out much over this."

"Are there any nice girls there?"

"Yes."

"Many?"

"Two."

"So ho!" impressively.  "Yet I didn't think country bumpkins were much
in your line."

"One of them is as good-looking as you."

"Is she dark?" with a little pout.

"No, fair."

"Umph--Insipid?"

"No, good."

"Good!" she echoed in a tone of laughing derision.  "How amusing!  Have
you really been able to find entertainment in a goody-goody girl?"

"I didn't say `goody-goody.'"

"Well, you implied it, and that's the same thing."

"Not in this case."

"And I say it is.  We'll change the subject.  Goody-goody girls don't
interest me in the least.  What's the other like?"

"Like you."

"Like me!"--in surprise.  "Then she's pretty, too?"

"No.  On the whole she is plain."

"You wretch!  I protest she is not in the least like me!"

"And I tell you she is."

"But how?"

"In manner and ways."

"My dear Lawrence, you are talking nonsense.  Do you mean to tell me
that after my Parisian education, and presentation in London, and year
of travel, and the gayeties of India, I resemble a little, countrified
Irish girl?"

"I said that she resembled you, which is quite a different thing."

"Well, go on."

"She is quite your equal at repartee.  She has quite your number of
admirers, though they may not be of the same social position, and she
treats them with precisely the same disdain."

"I hate her," said Gwendoline pettishly.

"That is exactly what she said about you."

Gwen sprang up.  "Oh, she did, did she!" she exclaimed, "and pray why!"

"I don't know."

"Yes you do.  Don't try and back out of it now, after telling me that
much.  What have you been saying to her about me!"

"I haven't been saying anything."

Gwen clenched her hand and bit her teeth together.

"In two minutes I shall shake you.  There is nothing either funny or
clever in being exasperating."

"I am sorry," he replied, with imperturbable humour.  "If you will tell
me what you want to know, I will try to enlighten you."

"Then `why' and `when' did this country bumpkin say she hated me!"

"The incident took place in a sanctum at Mourne Lodge, known as my den,
upon the evening when Kathleen and Doreen `came out.'"

"And what was she doing in your den, pray, in the middle of a dance!"

Gwen spoke peremptorily.  She had somehow, unconsciously, grown to
consider Lawrence her property, although there had never been anything
but good-fellowship between them.  Ever since she was ten and he was
twenty she had ordered him about, and Lawrence, while teasing her, had
usually acquiesced because she amused him.

"To the best of my recollection she was playing with my foreign swords."

"And how could that have anything to do with me?"

"She chanced to weary of the swords, and on a voyage of further
discovery came across your photograph, in the place of honour, on my
desk."

A pleased gleam passed through her eyes.

"Ah!" she said, "and she was angry because she is in love with you."

"On the contrary, she hates me even more than you."

Owen frowned and looked incredulous.

"Now you are talking riddles again--how silly you are!  If she hates
you, why did she go into your den, and why was she angry with me?  I
believe you are making the whole thing up."

"I am not.  I do not think she spoke half a dozen civil words to me
after the dance, and when I came away she would not shake hands.  She
told me she much preferred my room to my company."

"Really?" with dawning interest.

"Really," emphatically.

"Well, she's rather interesting after all," said Gwen, "for no doubt you
are the eligible man of the neighbourhood."

"She wouldn't care a snap of the fingers for that."

"Not any more than I do for the woolly lamb's coronet?"

"Exactly.  Now you are getting at the resemblance."

"But you haven't yet told me why she hates you and me."

He shrugged his shoulders.  "I'm not very clear," he answered, "and
anyhow it would be too tedious to try and explain.  It's a trifle enough
anyway.  Hullo!" breaking off, "isn't that your baa-lamb I hear?"

Gwen listened with her head on one side.

"Yes, that's his bleat," she said.  "Mamma will lead him in by a blue
ribbon, so to speak, in a minute, and I shall want desperately to
recite:

  "`Mummie had a woolly lamb,
  Its fleece was white as snow,
  But 'twas everywhere that Gwennie went
  That lamb would always go.'"

She jumped up and commenced patting her hair into place and
straightening the lace of her dress, remarking that, after all said and
done, there was no harm in captivating.  A moment later her mother came
in looking worried.

"My dear," she said, "Earl Selloyd wishes to speak to you alone.  He is
in the library."

"Good Heaven!" exclaimed Gwen.  "Has it come to this!"

"It's very wrong to speak of it in that way," said her mother
reprovingly.  "I'm sure I don't know where the girls of the present day
get their queer manners from.  Do try and realise that Earl Selloyd has
come here this afternoon to pay you the greatest honour it is in the
power of any man to pay to any woman."

"Baa--a--a--a," mimicked Gwen wickedly, and Lawrence bit his lip.

"At least then, remember that you are a gentlewoman," continued Mrs
Carew severely, "or that Providence intended you for one."

"Now you're getting sarcastic, mummie."  Gwen went up and put her arm
round her mother's neck.  "Don't you get sarcastic with Gwennie, mummie,
because she's just all right underneath.  It's only on the top die's
queer.  Because you thought you were going to rear a stately swan, and
found you had only a wicked duckling, you needn't frown and pucker up in
that fashion.  Stately swans are very tedious, and wicked ducklings do
at least keep you going; so you ought really to go down on your knees
and thank the good Providence that spared you the monotony of
perpetually sailing about with your neck at an uncomfortable angle.
Don't you think so, Lawrie?  Now, I'll go and see his Earlship and be
good.  To him I shall put the case differently, and explain how
infinitely preferable the calm of the stately swan is, beside the
tiresome duckling,"--and she crossed the large drawing-room to the door.
Here, however, she turned again.

"Lawrie."

"Yes."

"Do you know, I've an odd notion that if you haven't already fallen in
love with that Irish, country-bumpkin girl, you very shortly will!" and
without giving him time to reply she vanished.

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

LAWRENCE HEARS SOME NEWS.

"Now, you know this is very foolish," said Gwen.

When she entered the library Earl Selloyd had hastened to meet her with
exaggerated courtesy, and dragged forward a big arm-chair, begging her
to be seated.  Gwen poised herself on the arm of it, and swung one foot.

"Very foolish, indeed!" she repeated, eyeing gravely the thin, nervous,
foolish-looking young man, who, nevertheless, represented one of the
oldest and most illustrious families of England.

"I hope you don't mean that," he said.  "Indeed, Miss Carew, it is only
your happiness I have at heart."

"And a little your own, I hope," with a faint smile.  Then she went on
before he could interrupt: "You know I have the name for being very
original, Lord Selloyd, and I'm going to be original now.  You've
evidently come here this evening to propose to me, and I'm not going to
let you propose.  I'm not the sort of girl who likes to count up her
conquests and tell all the other girls.  All I ask of things generally
just now is, let me have a good time, and I don't care whether I get any
proposal or not.  Of course I think it is awfully good of you to want to
give me your name and title and all that, but since I can't accept them,
we won't say any more about it."

"But my dear Miss Carew," he implored, "your mother led me to suppose
that she--"

"That doesn't count," interrupted Gwen.  "To be very candid, you know as
well as I do that no mother can help fancying a coronet for her
daughter, and it's just the same the world over.  Now, although I'm
supposed to be very up to date, I'm really positively antique about some
things, and one of them is the question of matrimony.  I'm so
old-fashioned that I mean to marry for love, even if I marry a plain Mr
Nobody.  There! now you must see that it is a mistake to continue this
interview."

His lordship fidgeted nervously.  "But couldn't you?" he
began--"couldn't you--don't you think--?"

"I'm afraid not," Gwen said kindly, helping him out.  "Isn't there
anything I could do?" pleadingly.  "Perhaps if you would tell me what
you want in a man--?"

Gwen felt inclined to say it was a _man_, just that, pure and simple:
that she wanted, but she was naturally a kind hearted girl and had no
desire to hurt his feelings.

"It's no use," she said frankly.  "Let's part friends, and you'll soon
find someone you can care for heaps more than me, who won't worry the
life out of you a bit like I should have done."

His lordship shook his head sorrowfully, and looked very woebegone.

"No," he said, "I shall never love another, and I shall never be happy
again.  I might as well go and shoot myself at once."

Gwen felt desperately inclined to laugh, but managed to keep her face
sufficiently to say:

"Oh no, I wouldn't do that.  When you've got a fine estate, and a title,
and all that sort of thing, it's a pity to clear out and let someone
else snatch it up."

His lordship seemed rather struck with the idea, for he said no more
about shooting as he dragged himself to the door.  He did, however,
contrive to look the picture of wretchedness, though somehow not in a
manner that appealed to Gwen's heart, and when the door finally closed
behind him she hid her face in her hands a moment as if she would hide
her smile even from herself.  She had to pause to straighten her face
again before she reappeared in the drawing-room, though Lawrence read
everything directly in her eyes.

"Well," said her mother, "have you sent him away?"

"I didn't send him, mummie--he went," she answered coaxingly.

"He wouldn't have gone if you had answered him sensibly."

"Answered him about what?"

"Why, his proposal, of course."

"But he didn't propose."

"Didn't propose!" dropping her work on her knee, and lifting her eyes in
astonishment.

"No, mummie.  I advised him not to."

Lawrence's rare smile spread over his face.

"My dear, what do you mean?" said Mrs Carew with a helpless look.

"Well, mother, what was the good of Lord Selloyd making a fool of
himself any more than he could help by asking me to marry him, when I
was certain to decline with thanks?  I didn't put it to him quite like
that, but it came to the same thing in the end, and he had the sense to
see it and go away."

"You are hopeless, quite hopeless; and I believe you make her worse,
Lawrence."

"No, indeed," answered Lawrence from the depths of his easy-chair.  "I
have been at great pains to point out to her the ineffable benefits of a
coronet, to say nothing of a husband who is--well--like cotton-wool in
the hands of a strong-minded woman."

"You are both leagued against me," continued the mother, shaking her
head.  "If the same thing happens again, Lawrence, I shall just expect
you to marry her yourself, and what will happen to your quiet Irish home
then I'm afraid to think."  She spread out her hands with a gesture of
hopelessness, but there was a twinkle in her eyes that made the mother
and daughter for a moment wonderfully alike.  "Gwen buried in the Mourne
Mountains would result in a social tornado, and a year of libel actions.
She'd just scandalise the whole countryside and set every one
quarrelling to break the monotony, and though you think you are very
strong-minded, Lawrence, you'd find your match in Gwen; and I ought to
know, being her mother."

Owen laughed gayly, without the smallest shadow of self-consciousness,
for marriage between herself and Lawrence had been so long talked of
with jesting freedom that it embarrassed neither of them in the smallest
degree, although there were many who firmly believed it would eventually
ensue.

"We'd get mummie to come and smooth things over, wouldn't we?" she
laughed, and sauntered to the piano, afterward singing several songs in
a rich and beautiful contralto.  When she was tired of singing she came
back to the fireplace and, seating herself upon a low footstool,
remarked to her mother with a side-glance at Lawrence: "Has Lawrie told
you about his Irish friend yet, mummie?"

"No," looking up questioningly.  "Hasn't he?" in feigned surprise.  "I
am astounded.  He's just full of her."

"Her?" repeated Mrs Carew, raising her eyebrows significantly.

"Yes, _her_--and she _hates_ me, mummie.  What do you think of that?"

"But surely she doesn't know you?"

"That's of no account at all.  She's rather given to hating, for she
hates Lawrie too--at least she says she does."

"I hardly see how she can be his friend then."

"Oh, yes! it's simple enough.  If I say I hate a man, I find it's
generally a sure sign I rather like him.  Only I'm surprised she's found
the trick out, buried among those old mountains."

"All the mountain ranges in the world piled up round a woman wouldn't
make her other than contrary," remarked Lawrence.  "I can imagine her
wrestling and struggling to get away, and then a deliverer of the male
sex comes along and proceeds to help her, says something she doesn't
like, or doesn't say something she does like, and she would promptly sit
down and say she adored mountain ranges and wouldn't be in any other
spot for the world."

"Of course," exclaimed Gwen, "you wouldn't have us grow as milk and
watery and monotonous as the male sex, would you?  That's just what
makes us so interesting."

"Irritating would be nearer the mark."

"Well, both if you like.  One is just as good for you as the other.  But
touching this Irish girl, what's her name, Lawrie?"

"There were two I told you of.  Which do you mean?"

"Why, the one who hates, of course.  The other doesn't count, especially
if she's goody-goody."

"The hater is Paddy Adair."

"Paddy!" cried Gwen in amusement.  "What a name, but I rather like it!
I'm beginning to feel quite interested in this Paddy.  At first I was
furious with her for daring to hate me, but now I rather like her for
it.  Tell me something about her."

"There isn't anything to tell."

"Of course there is.  What does she do all day long, living in that
deadly place!"

"Fishes, and shoots, and sails."

"Oh, does she shoot!" with eagerness.

"She's the finest shot of her sex that I've ever come across, and she
can sail a boat as well as any man.  She gets capsized into the loch
periodically, but thinks nothing of it.  Her father is a soldier, and
the wilder the things she does, the better he likes it, because then he
is half able to persuade himself that she is a boy.  I believe the dream
of his life was to have a son, but as it is he considers Paddy the next
best thing and dotes on her."

"She must be very jolly," said Gwen.  "What a pity she isn't pretty
too."

"I never knew anyone who cared less.  She won't even take the trouble to
make the most of her hair, and yet, with a little pains, it is so
beautiful that she could easily pass for a good-looking girl."

"I'd like to know her," said Gwen.

"I daresay you will when you find there's nothing for it but to take me
and reign at Mourne Lodge instead of Selloyd Castle," with a twinkle.

"I wonder if she'd still hate me," thoughtfully.

Lawrence said nothing, but he was of the opinion that Paddy would hate
more than ever.

Owen's father came in then from an official interview with Lord
Kitchener, during which grave matters concerning the welfare of India
had been discussed.  The Hon.  Jack Carew, as he still continued to be
called, in spite of his forty-three years, held a Government post in
India, and was one of the popular rising men of his day, great things
being predicted for him in the future.  Like all the rest, he idolised
Gwen, and when told of the Earl's visit and its result he took her side
entirely, secretly only too glad to feel the question of a wedding once
more thrust in the background.  The subject was quickly dismissed, and
affairs of state, as far as was permissible, discussed with great
interest between the father and daughter and Lawrence, until the latter
departed for his club.

Here he was surprised to find a letter with a thin black edge awaiting
him, in his mother's handwriting, and, once more sinking into the depths
of a big easy-chair, he proceeded to read it.  As he did so his brow
contracted somewhat, and once or twice he glanced over the top of the
paper with a half-anxious, worried expression.  Then he folded it up
slowly, and sat for a long time lost in thought.

So the General was dead--the kind old soldier he could remember almost
as soon as he could remember anything--and, beyond doubt, Omeath and its
neighbourhood was greatly the poorer.  And The Ghan House was to be let,
was probably already let, and Mrs Adair and her daughters were going to
London.  This was the news that set him thinking the most deeply--at
first it seemed so utterly incredible.  Omeath without the Adairs was
like a problem he could not solve.  Omeath without Jack O'Hara--without
the Adairs or Jack--was only more extraordinary still.

And then to go to London!  Eileen and Paddy cooped up in a little stuffy
London house, after their lovely home among the mountains on the
loch-side.  It was not possible--surely it was not possible that this
had to be.

He read the letter again, lingering over the part that explained how all
the General's private means had gone and there was nothing left but the
widow's pension, and how the post of dispenser had been offered to
Paddy, and rather than be separated they were all going to London
together.

So Paddy was to be dispenser?  What in the name of fortune could have
put such an idea into their heads?  Paddy dispensing was so ludicrous to
him that he could scarcely forbear to smile.  But he soon grew serious
again.  The Adairs' misfortunes touched him more nearly than he would
have thought.  His mind ran on.  If he went back and persuaded Eileen to
marry him, he wondered if there would be any difficulty about his
renting The Ghan House, and installing Mrs Adair and Paddy there for
good.  He believed not.  If it were arranged that the gift came from
Eileen, they could hardly object, and, for the matter of that, why
should they?

Far into the night Lawrence sat in his big easy-chair, oblivious to all
that was going on around him, thinking out his new idea.

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

A CURIOUS ENGAGEMENT.

For several days Lawrence had only a flying interview with Gwen, so
occupied was she with balls and receptions and gayeties of all kinds,
and meanwhile he still pondered the question of the Adairs.  At last
Gwen noticed he was unusually quiet, and taxed him in her customary
outspoken fashion.

"There's something the matter with you, Lawrie," she said.  "You've been
looking as solemn as a boiled owl for days.  Is it an attack of liver,
or the hundred-and-ninety-ninth love episode?  Come, out with it, and
let me give you the benefit of my sage advice."

They were standing on the large staircase at the Viceroy's, having met
at a reception there, and she had detained him in passing.

"Why not choose a more public spot?"  Lawrence asked.  "Only half
Calcutta would hear us here, and they might as well all know."

"You goose," she laughed.  "I suppose you want a _tete-a-tete_.  Oh,
dear!" with a sigh; "and I've got such a lot of special friends here
to-night.  Never mind, I'll manage it.  I'll go with you to have
refreshments at eleven o'clock, and then we'll--well, we'll go and look
at the idols and mummies and things," and she passed gayly on.

Later they found their way into a quiet alcove that overlooked the big
reception rooms, and Gwen at once plunged into the subject.

"Is it anything to do with the little Irish girl?" she asked.

"Partly."

"Well, what's happened."

"Her father is dead."

"Dead!" echoed Gwen, in a shocked voice.

"Yes.  He died after a few days' illness, about six weeks ago, of some
heart attack."

"Goodness!  How sudden it seems.  When did you hear?"

"The night I told you about them."

"Fancy!  And I've never given you a chance to speak of it."

Lawrence was silent.

"I can see that's not all," she said.

"No.  The money all seems to have gone, and they have to leave their
home and go and live in London, and Paddy's going to be a dispenser."

"What in the name of wonder is a dispenser?"

"A person who makes up prescriptions."

"In a chemist's shop!" opening her eyes wide.

"Sometimes; but in this case it would be in a private doctor's surgery."

"What an extraordinary occupation!  What on earth put it into their
heads!  If I had to earn money I'd go into a big establishment where you
did nothing all day long except try on lovely dresses and pat yourself
on the back because you knew you looked infinitely better in them than
the annoying people who had the money to buy them."

"That wouldn't suit Paddy.  She'd probably end by throwing the dresses
at the people's heads.  It's quite likely that's what she'll eventually
do with the bottles of medicine."

"Poor Paddy," said Gwen softly.  "Do you know, I don't hate her a bit
now!  I'm just awfully sorry."

Lawrence was silent a moment.

"It will be terrible for those girls to have to live in London," he said
at last.

"What--are they sisters?" she cried.  "Do you mean Paddy and the
goody-goody girl?"

"Yes."

"But you didn't say they were sisters before."

"Didn't I?" carelessly.  "Well, probably I didn't think about it."

Gwen watched him thoughtfully.

"Do you know," she said at last, "I think you'll just have to go home
and marry Paddy, and make the mother and the other one a present of
their old home."

"Paddy would almost as soon marry the Sultan of Turkey."

Gwen looked at him with a sudden light of understanding.

"Lawrie," she exclaimed, "you don't mean to tell me that you've been
foolish enough to make love to the goody-goody one!"

"I told you she was not goody-goody," shortly.

"Well, what is she, then!"

There was a pause.

"She's like my mother," he said slowly; "only mother was never as
good-looking."

"Yes, that's all very well," quoth Gwen; "but men never want to marry
their mothers, even when they worship them.  I can just see the whole
thing now, and you've behaved like an idiot, for all your brains and
cleverness.  If I had been there to look after you it wouldn't have
happened.  A man of your type does not _love_ a girl of her type; he
only admires and respects from a distance.  If you had married her you
wouldn't have made her happy, so it's a very good thing for her you've
come away.  Why! your morose, taciturn moods would have broken her
heart, and your temper would have been like an icy blast to a delicate
hot-house flower.  She would never have understood you at all; and being
sweet-tempered and unselfish herself would only have left her more
hopelessly in the dark, and in the end have irritated you awfully.  Oh!
I am very wise, Lawrie, about some things.  I don't know how I got it,
but it's there, and possibly father spared me a biggish slice of his
brains.  Now the other girl, Paddy, would suit you well, but it's a pity
she's plain.  If you were moody and sullen with her I expect she'd throw
something at your head, and that's just about what you need."

"You are very kind."

"Glad you think so," with a little laugh; "but meanwhile, what's to be
done with your friends!"

Lawrence was annoyed with her plain speaking, probably because she was
so distinctly in the right.

"I think," he said coolly, "that I shall return to England and marry
Paddy's sister."

Gwen looked into his face, and saw with her usual intuition exactly how
matters stood.

"Very well," she said airily, getting up.  "Go and make the funeral pile
of your own happiness and hers as well.  I'm sure I don't care, and I've
got quite as much on my hands out here just now as I can well attend to,
so I'll be quite relieved to leave you to look after your own affairs
entirely.  But when you've managed to fit a square block into a round
hole by becoming a pattern, stay-at-home country squire, just let me
know, as by that time I shall be wanting to see something unique.
Good-by!  I have an important engagement," and without giving him time
to offer his escort she was off.

Lawrence remained where he was, and thought of Eileen, drawing back into
deep shadow, and staring moodily down at the gay throng below him.
After a long time, getting no nearer to a decision, he went below again
and joined a small coterie of men about the Hon.  Jack Carew, discussing
the probability of disturbances on the Afghan frontier in the spring.

A few days later, while still in a state of indecision, he made the
discovery that Gwen was in a fix.  He came upon her unexpectedly in the
morning-room, and caught her with tears in her eyes before she had time
to brush them away.  She did so angrily enough directly he entered, but
by that time he had seen them.  Lawrence looked at her a moment, and
then crossed and carefully closed the door and came back again.

"What's the matter?" he asked, as if he meant to be told.

"Nothing," she answered shortly.

"When I came in your were crying."

"No, I wasn't!" and she tossed her head.

"Fibber," from Lawrence.

"Well, I suppose I can please myself."

"Not much good though, when I know the truth."

"I tell you I wasn't crying," stamping her foot.

"Very well, then, we'll begin again.  How did you manage to get such a
cold, Gwen?"

"I haven't a cold."

"Indeed!  I thought your eyes were running."

She made no reply.  Lawrence drew near and leaned on the table beside
her.

"What's the matter, chum?" he said coaxingly.

"Oh! just everything," she broke out.  "I can't think why Heaven made
men such fools."

"Admirers getting entangled?" he asked.

"Yes," pettishly.  "I believe Captain O'Connor is going to make Lord
Selloyd fight."

"You needn't worry.  Woolly lambs don't fight--they run away."

"Oh, but can't you see how silly it is!" she cried in exasperation.  "It
is bound to get round to the clubs, and then to the women, and mother
will be furious.  I must make them come to their senses somehow."

"What's it all about?"

"Oh, I don't know," expressively.  "A storm in a tea-cup, of course, but
you Irishmen are so ridiculously hot-headed.  Take a hot-headed Irishman
and an Englishman who is a fool, and they're sure to do something silly.

"I don't mind about them," running on, "but I do want to keep it from
mother and father.  You see, they give me a lot of liberty, and they'll
think I've been abusing it, and it really wasn't my fault this time,"
and the tears sprang to her eyes again.

"What happened?"

"Well, it was at the Inglis' dance.  Lord Selloyd would follow me about,
and Captain O'Connor got angry.  I think they had both had too much
champagne for supper, and in the end they had a row."

"Probably it has all blown over by now."

"No, it hasn't.  They will both be at the Markhams' to-night, and it
will be very unpleasant."

"I shall be there," said Lawrence.  "Can't I see you through!"

Gwen was thoughtful a few moments, and suddenly she looked up with an
idea.

"Look here, Lawrence," she said, "if I could once for all convince both
of them it wasn't the least use thinking any more about me, I believe
they'd just leave Calcutta, and no one would ever know there had been
this bother."

"And can't you?"

"I can't by merely talking.  I must try and prove it--and I have an
idea, Lawrence."

"Say on."

"If I could tell them I was engaged it would just simplify everything."
Lawrence nodded, to show he was following, and waited.  "I can only do
that with someone to corroborate it, and I've been thinking, Lawrence,
if you wouldn't mind helping me, you're just the man."

"I am ready for anything.  What do you want?"

"I want you to be secretly engaged to me for this evening."

Lawrence looked up, and there was amusement in his eyes.

"It's a splendid idea," she exclaimed, warming to her subject.  "I shall
tell Captain O'Connor and make him understand it can't be announced for
some particular reason, and he'll be flattered at being told, and just
keep it to himself and say no more.  You must, of course, be there
yourself to sanction it or he might not believe it."

Gwen talked on, and Lawrence listened, falling in with her plans easily
enough because he saw no harm in the trick and it was the least trouble.
When Mrs Carew joined them later, Gwen was radiant again and rather
looking forward to her evening.  Afterward she was still more radiant,
for everything had gone well.  Captain O'Connor, a fiery young officer,
spending a month's leave in Calcutta before starting to England, was
quickly brought to reason by Gwen's charming way of confiding in him,
and, while announcing his intention of running himself through, in the
same moment grasped Lawrence's hand, and told him he was the luckiest
chap on earth.

The next morning he did actually start for England, a week sooner than
he intended, leaving Lord Selloyd to congratulate himself upon having
got out of the quarrel so simply.

The incident dispersed Gwen's passing displeasure with Lawrence also,
and she condescended once more to mention the subject of the Adairs,
asking him if he had decided what to do.  He was standing with his hands
in his pockets looking out of the window, and for a moment he did not
reply.  Gwen came and leaned against the window-frame beside him.

"If you go, Lawrie, are you quite certain it would have to be the pretty
one?" she asked.

"Yes--quite," he answered.

"Then stay here.  I'm awfully sorry for them--at least I'm sorry for
Paddy," she continued, as he did not speak, "but I'm absolutely certain
it would be a mistake for you to marry the other one.  Deep down in your
heart you think so yourself, don't you?"

"I have long been under the impression that I had no heart."

"Rubbish!  Why, that's what people say about me, and do you think I
don't know better!  When `John Right' comes along you'll all see I've
got just as much heart as any one else, but until he does--a short life
and a merry one, say I!  That's how it will be with you, Lawrie.  When
Mary Jane Right turns up you'll tear your hair--what there is of it--and
stamp, and rave, and storm, just like any other love-sick male.  Till
then, if it pleases you to be cynical and _blase_, and all that
nonsense, why, be cynical and _blase_; it doesn't hurt any one else--in
fact, it's rather amusing," and she rested her hand on his arm and
looked into his face with roguish, laughing eyes.  "I'd have just loved
to have a brother," she said, "but, like that nice old General Adair who
wanted a son, I guess I've got the next best thing."

So, in the end, Lawrence did not return to England, and nothing happened
to avert the hard change for Paddy and Eileen and their mother.

CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

PADDY MAKES HER COUSIN'S ACQUAINTANCE.

One of the first things Paddy did when she got to London was to quarrel
with her cousin, Basil Adair.  Basil was a medical student, a young man
who had somehow got a notion that the world would be in no end of a
queer fix without him; but that, as long as he remained in it, he had no
occasion to work or strive after anything except having a good time,
spending a great deal of money and talking big.  He was rather curious
about this new cousin who was coming to stay a few weeks with them, and
inclined to be pleased at the idea of some one quite fresh to impress
daily with his new clothes, immaculate boots, glossy head-gear, and
generally magnificent appearance.  When he saw a black-robed,
sallow-faced girl, with serious eyes and badly dressed hair, he was
inclined to be satirical.  Paddy's mourning, hastily procured in Newry,
did not meet with his approval at all, as indeed it was hardly likely to
do, and black was the most unbecoming colour she could possibly wear.
Still, he had a great idea of always doing the correct thing, so he came
home to dinner the flint evening, and addressed various polite remarks
to her, in a grandiloquent, not to say condescending, tone.

Paddy looked at him as if he were a clothes-horse, and Basil was not
pleased.  Half divining the same, Paddy looked again.  After dinner,
when she had the opportunity of a nearer inspection, she looked with
interest at the immaculate patent-leather boots, and took a calm survey
of the whole effect.  Basil felt he was making an impression, and though
he thought she was very plain and dowdy, he was a young man who could
not have resisted trying to make an impression on a crossing sweeper.
He took up his stand on the hearthrug, with his legs astride and his
hands behind him, and looked down at her over his two-and-a-half-inch
collar, prepared to continue his magnanimity.

"Er--you don't know London, I believe--er--Miss Adair?" he began.

"I have been here before," Paddy answered.  "I was at school here for
about four months."

"It is unfortunate," he continued, "that father's practice happens to
be--er--in Shepherd's Bush, and that, therefore, you should have to
become acquainted with London from such a--er--plebeian locality."

"I don't see that it matters where you are, if you've got to be in
London," said Paddy more bluntly than grammatically.

"But London is a glorious place," he cried.  "To be in London is life,
to be out of it is death.  London is--er--the centre of the world.  The
centre of learning, and commerce, and--er--art, and--er--progress."

"Don't they say the same about Paris, and Berlin, and New York, and lots
of other places?" she asked calmly.

"If they do, it is a lie.  London stands at the top of the pyramid built
by the cities of the world."

"Well, anyhow, I'd sooner have Omeath," said Paddy.

"It is heresy," he cried, "rank heresy--and you an Englishwoman."

"Irish," corrected Paddy, very decidedly.

"Ah, yes, to be sure!  And I suppose you're--er--very proud of it.
Funny thing how the Irish fancy their nationality."

"Not half so funny as some of the things you fancy yourselves for over
in England," she retorted, getting a little exasperated.

Basil glanced down over his collar rather as if he were taking stock of
a curious kind of animal, and Paddy began to fidget.  She was becoming
more and more conscious of a desperate impulse to ruffle his hair, and
tumble his collar, and disarrange generally this painfully well-dressed
young man, with his air of extreme condescension.

"Ah!" he said satirically, "you cultivate the art of repartee in
Ireland--as well as potatoes."

"We cultivate men, too," with scorn.  "You ought to go over there and
finish your education."

This rather took his breath away for a minute, and while he was
recovering Paddy's mood changed.

"That was rude," she said.  "I'm sorry."

This surprised him still more, and he mentally designated her the oddest
fish he had come across.

"Oh, don't mention it," he replied with a paternal air.  "I like people
who say what they think."  There was a pause, then he asked: "I suppose
you are fond of theatres?"

"I have never been to one."

"Never been to a theatre!" he gasped.  "Impossible!  Why you haven't
done anything!"

Paddy leaned forward suddenly.  "Have you ever shot a snipe?" she said.

"No," wonderingly.

"Well, I have," and she closed her lips with an expressive snap, and
there was a slight pause.

"You're a--er--sportswoman then?" at last.

"I don't shoot my bird sitting, if that's what you mean."

Basil had no mind to reveal his ignorance upon sport generally, so he
tried another tack, asking: "I suppose you have read all the new
novels."

"I have ready scarcely anything, except `The Jungle Tales,' `A Voyage in
the Cachalot,' and the Bible.  I never had time to read."

"Never had time!" he echoed.  "I thought people who lived in the country
had no other way to kill time."

Paddy did not reply, so he asked, "What did you do beside shoot, then!"

"Oh, I could sail a bit, and fish a bit, and climb a bit.  Then there
was the hockey club, and tennis club, and golf club.  The days weren't
as a rule half long enough."

Basil looked down with some show of interest.

"You'll rather miss all that in London," he suggested.

"I guess so," was Paddy's short, laconic response, and she fixed her
eyes on the fire.

"Still, there'll be lots of other things," he went on.  "Dances, and
theatres, and--er--shops.  The guv'nor's awfully easy-going, you know--
you won't have to do much work."

"Do you mean Uncle Frank?" raising her eyebrows a little.

"Yes, of course.  Why?"

Paddy did not answer, and just then her aunt come back.

"Basil, my dear," said his mother anxiously, "I don't like to think you
are working so hard.  I'm sure you're not strong enough.  Last night it
was quite one o'clock when I heard you moving about overhead."

"Oh, that won't hurt me," carelessly, "and it's so much easier to read
at night."

Paddy looked at him keenly.

"But, my dear boy, you must remember your health," continued his mother
fondly.  "You must not let your zeal make you rash."

Paddy grew meditative.  She had distinct recollections of her uncle
saying Basil could not get through his exams, and implying that he did
not work.  Her aunt turned to her.

"You know the medical profession is such a hard one to get on in, my
dear," she said, "and Basil has to be nearly always working.  I assure
you it is a most unusual thing for him to spend an evening in the
drawing-room like this.  He nearly always goes to the hospital, or works
at a friend's rooms.  It is entirely for your sake, my dear, and I was
very glad when I heard him say he could manage it."

Paddy murmured something about being honoured, and a little later asked
if she might be excused and go to bed, as she was very tired.

Basil had something of a shock.  It was incredible for any girl to want
to go to bed at nine o'clock when he was there.  When Paddy actually
stood up and prepared to go, he concluded she had a headache and could
not bear the light.  As a matter of fact poor Paddy was momentarily
getting nearer breaking down altogether, and the instant her aunt closed
the door and left her alone, she went down on her knees by the bedside
and burst into tears.

It had been such a terrible day--she thought she would never forget it
as long as she lived.

She and Jack had breakfasted together at Holyhead, where they remained
until morning, and then he had seen her safely into the train to London.
There had been tears in his sunny eyes, and Paddy had felt awful, but
it had to be borne, and now he was on the sea sailing away--away from
England and all of them.  It did, indeed, seem as if all the hard things
possible had come upon them at once, and when she at last slipped into
bed, she cried herself to sleep.

The next day she went with her uncle to see about her dispensing and was
fortunately able to start working at once, which left her less time to
think.

Nevertheless, often across her studies would steal the memory of the
mountains and loch.  In fancy she would smell the heather or the peat,
hear the curlews calling or the cry of the plover, the lapping of the
little waves against the keel of the boat, or their light murmuring on
the shingle; she would wonder what the aunties were doing, and how the
hockey club was getting on with its new captain, and whether they all
thought of her sometimes and missed her!  One big tear would gather and
then another, and she would dash them angrily away, fighting day by day
with steady persistence the passionate longing, the sometimes passionate
determination, to throw everything to the winds and go back and live on
crusts, if need be, beside her beloved lake.  Sometimes these fits left
her very sore and irritable, and it was in such a mood she had her first
real quarrel with Basil, about three weeks after her arrival.  She
hardly knew what it was all about, neither did he, but he started
holding forth in his usual high fashion upon London and Londoners being
the salt of the earth, with certain vague innuendoes about well-cut,
tailor-made dresses and a smart style, until Paddy grew exasperated
beyond endurance, and informed him, none too politely, that he was only
fitted to stand in tailor's window, as a model of an empty-headed,
well-dressed, curled and pampered modern young man, with about as much
real manhood in him as a wax doll.

Having delivered herself of this somewhat pointed speech, in a highly
impressive fashion, she flung out of the room and slammed the door
behind her in a way that shook the jerry-built Shepherd's Bush villa to
its very foundation.  It shook his lordship, Basil Adair, gasping into a
large arm-chair with open mouth and eyes, for the onslaught had very
literally taken his breath away.

"By Jove," he breathed, "I hope the roof's securely fastened on.  What
in the name of fortune did the guv'nor bring this whirlwind--this
tornado--this positive monsoon--into a suburban villa for?"

CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

PADDY HAS A VISITOR.

When Paddy was alone in her room her anger quickly evaporated, and was
as quickly replaced by an overpowering sense of loneliness.  Why, oh
why, had they let her come to London alone?  Why had Fate dealt her this
double blow!  "Daddy, daddy," she breathed piteously, and buried her
face in her hands.  For a moment she longed to be away there in the
quiet churchyard beside him.  It seemed to her quite impossible that
life would ever be glad again, since he was gone, and Jack was gone, and
strangers were probably already moving into The Ghan House.

But presently the mood passed and she was calmer, remembering all the
responsibility on her shoulders.

"Don't forget you're an Irish Fusilier's daughter, Paddy," she
admonished herself severely, "and you promised to be a good son.  Irish
Fusiliers' daughters don't cry like babies, just because everything
seems to have gone wrong; and a good son is more sorry for his mother
than himself."

A few minutes later there was a knock at her door, and the maid told her
a gentleman had called to see her.

"A gentleman?" asked Paddy in surprise.  "What is his name?"

"I'm afraid I didn't catch it," the maid answered.  "It was a long
name."

"Are you sure he asked for me?"

"Yes."

"Where is he?"

"In the drawing-room.  Mr Basil has gone out, and Mrs Adair is in the
master's surgery."

Paddy smoothed her hair and bathed her eyes, feeling very curious, but
when she walked into the drawing-room her visitor saw at a glance that
she had been crying.

"Mr Masterman!" she exclaimed in glad surprise, and Ted came forward
eagerly enough.  After the first greetings, however, there was a
slightly awkward pause.

"I only heard about everything last week," said Ted at last.  "My aunt
is a very bad correspondent.  I need hardly say how her letter shocked
me."

Paddy had motioned to him to take a chair, and sat down on the sofa; but
Ted, being no less masterful than of old, and quite as certain as to his
mind, sat down on the sofa beside her instead.

"I can't tell you just all I feel," he said, in that quiet, convincing
way of his.  "I wish I could, but I think you must know it has all been
like a personal sorrow."

"You are very good," Paddy murmured gratefully.  She was so glad to see
him--he was like the first link from the old home since she parted from
Jack at Holyhead.

"How did you know I was here!"

"I wired to my aunt for your address directly I received the letter.  I
wanted to call sooner, but was prevented by business.  We have been kept
late at the works every night for a week.  I'm afraid this London
arrangement will be very hard on you," he said, so kindly that Paddy
felt the tears coming back.

"A little," she answered, trying to pull herself together, "but it won't
be so bad when I'm used to it."

She tried to meet his eyes, but could not, and instead looked away,
blinking hard.

"Poor little girl," said Ted in a very low voice, half to himself, and
covered his eyes with his hand a moment, as if there was something in
them he felt he must hide from her.  She little knew how that pair of
strong arms beside her ached to fold her tight, and take her away then
and there from this London she so hated.

"I wish I could do something," he said at last.  "It's hard to have to
sit still, and feel as I feel, and see no way to help."

"You mustn't take it like that," trying to speak brightly.  "Mother and
Eileen will be here soon, and then it will be much better for me."

"What has become of O'Hara?" he asked.  "Will you tell me all about
everything?"

Paddy was only too glad to have someone who knew all about Omeath and
The Ghan House, and she readily described all that had happened since he
left.  Ted listened quietly, leaning back a little, as once before, that
he might the better watch her, with his own strong face in the shadow.

"It will be the making of him," was his comment when she came to Jack's
plans, and Paddy agreed with alacrity.

When she had finished he looked at her, with a slightly wistful look in
his grey eyes, and said:

"Now may I tell you about my affairs?"

"Yes, do."

"I'm following O'Hara's lead and leaving England," and he looked hard
into her face.

"Leaving England!" she repeated, with frank dismay--indeed, far too
frank for Ted, who was sufficiently wise in these matters to know that
such a complete absence of self-consciousness left but little room for
him to hope in.

"Yes," dropping his eyes gloomily to the carpet.  "At once."

"I _am_ sorry," she said expressively.  "Why do you go?  What is
happening to England that you and Jack and Lawrence Blake and everyone
must all go abroad?"

"Lawrence Blake?" he asked, in some surprise.

Paddy coloured painfully.

"Yes, didn't you know?  He went to India a month after the dance."

Ted watched her inquiringly, uncertain whether or not to ask a
particular question.

Paddy settled the matter for him.

"It was rather a good thing," she said, trying to speak naturally.  "He
and Eileen were hovering on the brink of an engagement, and it would not
have been a suitable match.  He would never have made a girl like Eileen
happy."

Ted drew his own conclusions, but all he said, was:

"O'Hara will get his chance now--lucky beggar," and then suddenly
relapsed into thought, as it dawned upon him it might in the end mean
his own chance, too.

"You have not told me why you are going abroad?" she said, after a
pause.

"I am going to South Africa for the firm I am with."

"For good?"

"For several years, I expect."

"Why do you go?"

"Well, you see," he began slowly, "it's a very good opening for a man
who wants to get on, and I want that even more now than I ever wanted it
before."  She waited, and he continued: "Engineering is rather overdone
in England, and it's very hard work to get any kind of a real footing at
all.  The firm is opening a big, new branch in Africa, and they have
offered me the managership.  It is a very good thing, and I have
accepted it."

"But still," reasoned Paddy, "you were all right as you were before."

He smiled a little.

"No, that's just it.  I wasn't all right.  You see, Miss Adair, there
comes a time in a man's life when he suddenly wakes up to the fact that
he'd desperately like a home of his own, and that makes him think more
seriously of the pounds, shillings, and pence.  I want my home to be
right in the country, too," he added whimsically, half to himself, "if
possible, where there are mountains and a loch and plenty of fishing and
shooting."

Paddy said nothing, but she felt a queer little thrill all down her
back.  She turned her head away and stared hard into the glowing coals.
She knew his eyes were fixed searchingly on her face, but she would not
look round, nor give him the chance to see the consciousness in her own.
He leaned back presently with a little sigh.

"I'd rather have thought of you running wild at Omeath still," he said,
"but it can't be helped, and I shall have to make the best of it.
Perhaps, sometimes you'll be glad to feel there's some one thinking of
you, some one awfully sorry for you, across the sea.  At least, I hope
you won't forget altogether?"

Still Paddy kept her face averted.

"I shall not forget," was all she would say.

"I wonder if it would be too much to ask for an occasional letter," he
went on.  "Perhaps, if you remembered what a boon it would be to the
exile--?"

"Oh, yes, I'll write to you sometimes," with frankness.  "I dare say I
shall be glad to air my opinions upon London and things generally, now
and again."

"Not so glad as I shall be to get them.  How I wish I could have been
here and, perhaps, helped you all a little, and still had the good
position.  I could at least have taken you to theatres, and down the
river."

"It would have been nice," she assented.

"I may get back in four years," he continued, "but hardly before."

"When do you sail?"

"Next week."

"Next week!" in astonishment.  "How near it seems."

"Yes."  He hesitated.  "May I come and see you again!"

"Of course you must come and say good-by."

"Very well then.  Next Friday evening!"

It was agreed so, and just then Mrs Adair and the doctor came in, and
after a little Ted rose to go.

The following Friday, as luck would have it, Basil took it into his head
to remain at home, and ensconced himself in the drawing-room as if he
meant to stay.  When Ted arrived he was still there, and Paddy felt
vexed.  Her feelings, however, were nothing to Ted's.  He would gladly
have picked the young man up by his collar and dropped him out of the
window into the street below.  After half-an-hour of vain efforts to
keep the conversation going naturally, the kindly doctor himself came to
the rescue.

"I'm sure these young people would like to talk over old times together
without us," he said, "as they're not to meet again for so long.  Come
along, my dear, we'll go to my room as usual, and Basil can come too."

Basil looked annoyed, but could hardly do other than follow the others
from the room, though he loftily declined the invitation to the surgery.

"Is that young man your cousin!" asked Ted when they were alone.

"Yes, but I'm not proud of the relationship," said outspoken Paddy.

Ted only smiled.  He could afford to be more magnanimous now he had
gone.  He got up and strolled round the room, not because he was tired
of sitting at all, but because he was thus enabled to make an entirely
free choice of where he would sit down again.  Paddy was on the sofa, so
as it is much easier to talk to anyone from the same sofa, instead of
shouting from another chair, he chose the vacant space beside her.
Paddy fidgeted with her hands, and again took to studying the glowing
coals as if she had never seen a fire before.

"Do you know I have taken a great liberty?" he said presently.

"Yes!" looking up.

"I've--well, I've taken upon myself to bring you a small talisman.  You
won't be angry with me?"

"I think it is very nice of you."

"And you'll accept it?" eagerly.

"What is it?" turning to the coals again.

Ted took a little parcel from his pocket, and unfolded a very valuable
old gold coin with a hole in it.

"It's a lucky coin," he said.  "I noticed you had a chain bracelet and I
thought, perhaps, you wouldn't mind letting me fix it on for you.  It's
rather a rare one.  My father was a great collector, and it used to
belong to him."

"Oh! but you mustn't give it to me then," she cried.

"Yes, I want to," firmly, "and I am going to fix it on myself."

She gave him her bracelet, impelled by some unseen force, and watched
him silently while he carefully fixed the coin to one of the links.  A
little while afterward he wrung her hand, looked a whole world of love
into her eyes, and hurried away.

When Paddy was alone, she became unusually thoughtful, and fingered the
coin gently.  Then for the first time she discovered something had been
engraved on it, and held it curiously to the light.  In small writing,
across the centre, were the two words, "Dinna forget," and underneath
the date of the morrow when his ship would sail.

"Poor Ted," murmured Paddy softly, and a little flush crept into her
white cheeks.

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

THE NEW HOME.

It was not until March, when Paddy had been in London over two months,
that her mother and Eileen joined her.  By that time she and the doctor
had the furniture all in place and everything ready.  A letter Paddy
received the last day rather surprised her.

"Do not meet us," Eileen wrote, "nor wait at uncle's for us.  We
particularly want to receive you in our own little home, and shall be
eagerly watching for you about six o'clock."

Paddy thought it rather queer, but fell in with their wishes, and went
off as usual to her classes.  When she reached home in the evening
Eileen was watching at the little front bow-window and flew to the door,
her mother following closely, and none of the three knew quite whether
to laugh or cry, they were all so glad and so sad together.

"It's just good to have a home again," said Paddy, and bustled into the
little sitting-room while her mother and Eileen exchanged glances.  No
sooner had she entered than she gave a cry of delight, for there, on
each side of the fireplace, in their usual manner, sat the two aunties.
The next moment they were both pleading for mercy in stifled tones
beneath her vigorous hugs.

"You dear, _dear_, dear aunties!" she cried; "to come all this long way
at such a cold time of year.  How I just love you both!  I shall have to
go on hugging you all the evening.  However did you make up your minds
to come?"

"Well, you see, dear," said Aunt Jane, "we could never have rested
content without being quite sure you were all as comfortable as
circumstances would permit, and so we felt the only thing to do was to
come and see for ourselves."

"Yes," nodded little Miss Mary, "we have come to see for ourselves."

The tea-table caught Paddy's eye then, and she had to go into raptures
over again.

"Omeath eggs!" she cried.  "Omeath ham!--cream! honey!--marmalade!--
parsonage tea cakes!--parsonage scones--parsonage apple pie!  Oh,
goodness! how ill I shall be to-morrow!  Was ever such a
delicious-looking meal!  I shall be practising dispensing upon the whole
household, I expect, in a few hours."  And then, just to relieve her
feelings, she started hugging everybody over again, until the two poor
little ladies' caps were at such an impossible angle they were obliged
to retire to put them straight.

"If only Jack were here," Paddy said longingly, as they sat down, "what
a lovely occasion for a scramble it would be!"

"We have had a letter from him," said Miss Jane, in a glad voice.  "You
shall see it afterward.  He has reached Buenos Aires safely and had a
good voyage, and he gives a wonderful description of the flowers and
loveliness of Montevideo.  It is nice to think that the boy is seeing
something of the world at last.  We ought to have sent him abroad
before.  I am afraid we were very selfish."  And little Miss Mary chimed
in with mournful agreement.

"Oh, no, you weren't," asserted Paddy; "nothing of the kind.  Jack was
lazy, and I encouraged him, and it just serves us both right to have to
work hard now."

They asked her how she was getting on with her studying, and she looked
gravely mischievous and said, "Pretty middling."

"You see," she continued, "medicines are very confusing.  They're nearly
all water, with a little colouring, but the various colourings have long
Latin names to give them an air of importance, and it's very hard to
remember which high-sounding name belongs to which colouring.  I have to
study a very learned book called the `Materia Medica,' but I haven't yet
succeeded in making any sense of a single page and I have my doubts
whether there is really any sense in the whole book.  But I like going
to the hospital," she ran on.  "The matron is nice and the nurses are
jolly.  The dispenser and I generally contrive to get tea in the
dispensary in the afternoon, and whichever of them can manage it slips
down and has a cup with us.  Both the tea and bread and butter usually
get flavoured with the nastiest drug lying about, but that is a mere
detail."

"What is Aunt Edith like, and how do you get on with Basil?" they asked.

"Aunt Edith is like Mrs Masterman, and looks as if she was left over
from a hundred years ago.  She always speaks of Basil as `_dear_ Basil'
or `_poor dear_ Basil,' according as he has been over-working or
over-spending, and she spends a great deal of time in church, and talks
about the `poor dear clergyman' and the `poor dear choir boys,' and
discusses a different guild every evening in the week.  She has only two
real ideas in the world--one is the church and the other is Basil; and
they agree in one thing--they never stop asking her for money.  Uncle is
a sort of fixture, like the blinds or the kitchen range, but he doesn't
seem to mind so long as he can follow his profession in peace, and he is
just the dearest and kindest man in the world."

"And how do you get on with Basil?" they asked again.

"Well, I don't get on at all," and Paddy looked amused.  "I don't think
we're on speaking terms just now--we are not as a rule.  Before I had
been there a month I told him he was not fitted for anything but a
dressed-up mummy in a tailor's window, and a few other similar things,
and for a time our relations were very strained.  We indulge in home
truths concerning each other so often that I find it difficult to
remember when we are on speaking terms and when not.  He is rather fond
of making sarcastic reflections upon Irish dressmakers and countrified
style, and of course I have to hit back from the shoulder for the sake
of the old country."

They could not help laughing, but her mother quickly grew grave and
looked a little anxious.

"I hope you don't carry it too far, my dear," she said.  "I would not
like to hurt your uncle's and aunt's feelings after all their kindness."

"Don't you be afraid, mother," cheerfully.  "Uncle enjoys it, and aunt
doesn't understand half we say.  She generally misses the point, you
see, and thinks I am paying Basil compliments.  Uncle, on the other
hand, sees that it is only his welfare I have at heart."

She then went on to tell them about Ted Masterman--all except the
incident of the coin--and the doctor at the classes, and her friends the
'bus drivers, chattering away like her old self again for very happiness
at having them all round her.  They sat in a semicircle over the fire
until late into the night, and finally went to bed too tired after their
long day, and too pleased at being together again, to have time to be
miserable.

Only when they were alone Paddy asked Eileen if she had heard from
Lawrence, and with a faint blush Eileen acknowledged that she had.
After a moment's hesitation she produced the letter and gave it to Paddy
to read.

"It is a nice one," was all Paddy said, as she folded it up afterward.
"He could always be nice if it happened to please him."

Eileen made no reply.  It was not a subject she could discuss, and she
knew, moreover, that it was one upon which she and Paddy could never
agree.  For she had not forgotten Lawrence at all, and still, deep down
in her heart, lived a hope that she could not extinguish.  When we
desire a thing with a great and terrible longing, it is very hard to
honestly and squarely face the fact that it can never be ours.  If there
is any possible chance of fitting in a "perhaps," that "perhaps" is
pretty sure to be there.  Eileen had managed to find more than one
chance, and the really nice letter that Lawrence had written her
directly he heard of the General's death, and while the news still had a
softening effect upon him, had only more firmly entrenched them.

It was unfortunate, but it was the way of the world.  The fine-strung
nervous system that holds the deepest capacity for suffering is oftenest
jarred upon and hurt by rough, careless hands and cold, selfish hearts.
And always, too, are these the sufferers who hope and remember the
longest in spite of all.

Paddy felt vaguely that Eileen still loved and still hoped and her loyal
heart was furious with Lawrence.  But she was obliged to content herself
with scathingly picking his letter to pieces in her own mind, for she
recognised that no good could some of saying these kind of things to
Eileen, and she would just have to stand aside and let matters take
their own course.

"I suppose he might come back," she reasoned, with a worried feeling;
"but it is not very likely, and a very questionable benefit if he did."

Yet, when, as the days went by, she saw the quiet sadness still
paramount in Eileen's eyes, and knew that all her happiness was forced,
she felt a great longing to have it settled one way or another for all
their sakes.  The shadow hung heavily upon the mother also, and Paddy
easily saw that it was not London and her loss only that kept her so
worn and ill-looking.

It was just when things were in this state, by a most strange
coincidence, that Paddy heard news of Lawrence partly through her cousin
Basil.  Now that they did not five under the same roof, they managed to
keep better friends, though Paddy never missed the smallest opportunity
of a taunt at Basil's effeminacy, and Basil still persisted in veiled
hints at her general lack of elegance.  However, as both were already
profiting by the other's plain speaking, it was very harmless.  Paddy,
on her part, had become very friendly with another girl student, who, in
the matter of appearance, was the exact opposite of herself, and she was
beginning to benefit by the friendship.  Ethel Matheson was a true
Londoner of the modern type, which represents a girl quite as fond of
outdoor games as a country girl, but at the same time having the
unmistakable cut of London about her clothes.  Well-cut tailor-mades,
simple, smart hats, hair well dressed, gloves and boots always neat,
made Ethel a pleasing picture in any weather and at any time, and before
long Paddy began to envy her.  After a time she got so far as to mention
it, and from that day the change commenced.  Ethel took her in hand
altogether, and guaranteed that in a few months, if Paddy would give her
mind to it seriously, she would turn her out as neat and smart as
herself, and only spend a fraction more money.  Consequently, when the
spring was well advanced, Paddy invested in her first smart
"tailor-made," a very pretty hat, and began to take pains with her hair.
The very first time she was out in them, feeling not a little
conscious, but on the whole well pleased with herself, she ran into
Basil going home on the top of a 'bus.

"By Jove!" said Basil.  "If it isn't Paddy!--all in new clothes!"

"Well, there's no occasion to be rude," retorted Paddy.  "Any one would
think you were not accustomed to new clothes instead of dreaming and
thinking of little else."

Two men, who, unknown to her, were accompanying Basil, began to laugh,
and Paddy blushed a fiery red when her cousin, with considerable
enjoyment, proceeded to introduce them to her.

CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

A STRANGE COINCIDENCE.

"Let me introduce my friends to you," he said.  "This is Pat O'Connor,
of your own proud nationality, known as the lady-killer of Middlesex
Hospital, and this is his brother, Captain O'Connor, of Dargai renown,
now home on leave from India.  Gentlemen," he added wickedly, "allow me
to introduce you to Miss Paddy Adair, the snipe-shooter."

Paddy blushed again, which was most becoming to her, and Basil could not
help looking candidly surprised, though he forbore from any more
personalities at present.  The individual introduced as Captain O'Connor
was sitting next to Paddy, and she was rather glad, as "lady-killers"
were not in her line, and she liked the look of this sunburnt soldier.
She commenced chatting to him at once in her pleasant, friendly way, and
Captain O'Connor was more than pleased.  With the delightful humility of
his nation, his first thought was--"Any one would have known she's
Irish, she's so nice."

Presently the topic of India was introduced, that of their respective
Irish counties and the general perfection of the Emerald Isle becoming a
little exhausted, and the Captain told her about the gayeties of the
hill stations, and of Calcutta during the season.

"I stayed two or three weeks in Calcutta," he told her, "on my way home,
as I knew I should have quite as good a time there as in England."  He
suddenly became thoughtful, as if struck by some memory, and with equal
suddenness turned upon her with the startling remark:

"By the way, Lawrence Blake comes from near Omeath.  Do you know him?"

Paddy was so taken aback, she caught her breath with a little gasp
before she answered.

"Yes, very well indeed."

"How odd," said the Captain and paused.

"Why?" eyeing him keenly.

He coloured under his sunburn.

"Oh, nothing," and then after a moment--as if changing his mind--"He's
engaged to a great friend of mine."

"Engaged!" exclaimed Paddy, too taken aback to hide her astonishment.

"Yes; why!" and this time it was Captain O'Connor's turn to look with
keen eyes.

"Oh, nothing!" she answered, "only I'm rather surprised I hadn't heard
of it.  Whom is he engaged to?"

"The Hon.  Grant-Carew's daughter.  She's well known over there."

"Do you know her?" unable to hide her curiosity.

"Yes, very well."

"What is she like?"

He paused a moment.

"She's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen," he said at last, with
conviction.

For some minutes Paddy was silent.

"Are you quite sure they're engaged?" she asked presently.

"Quite.  I had it from her own lips, and congratulated the two of them
the same evening.  It hadn't been publicly announced yet, but she had
her own reasons for telling me then.  He's rich, isn't he?  I hope so,
because she's the sort of girl who ought to have just everything she
wants.  He's a thundering lucky chap," and poor Guy looked sufficiently
miserable to make his own part in the story very plain.

"Yes, he's rich," Paddy answered, "and he has a lovely place near
Omeath.  I wonder when they will be married?  I don't like the idea of
somebody fresh coming there at all.  I'm sure I shan't like her."

"I think you will.  She's very popular in India.  Everybody likes her."

"I'm rather difficult to please," asserted Miss Paddy with her nose in
the air and Guy O'Connor wondered why she seemed so unnecessarily down
upon both Gwendoline and Lawrence.

At Lancaster Gate the two brothers got off, and Paddy and Basil
proceeded alone.  Paddy was very thoughtful, and Basil wanted to talk,
which made her somewhat cross.

"I don't know what's happened to you," he said.  "You're looking real
stunning!  I could scarcely believe my eyes when I first saw you."

"Don't talk nonsense," snapped Paddy.  "I've only got a new dress on,
and there's nothing so very extraordinary in that."

"But there is," he insisted, "it's all very extraordinary.  The last
time I saw you, you were just dressed anyhow, and suggested
milking-stools and hayfields; now you're--well, you're a Londoner."

"I'm _not_," emphatically.  "I wouldn't be a Londoner for all the
world--grasping, conceited, money-grubbing lot."

"Whew!" whistled Basil softly.  "What's Captain O'Connor been saying to
get her little temper up?"

"Nothing, only you're so silly, and I haven't the patience to talk to
boys."

Basil proceeded to do a little sum on his fingers, looking abnormally
grave.

"Umph! thirty-five I should think," he said musingly, "though you hardly
look it.  No chicken that! eh--what?"

Paddy was obliged to burst out laughing.

"Do you know I think you're improving rather," she told him.  "You
aren't half such a namby-pamby coxcomb as you were when I first came to
London at Christmas."

"Not easy when you're about," he commented, adding, "I think we might be
said to have formed a mutual improvement society.  If you only knew what
you looked like that first night!  A sort of antediluvian Joan of Arc!
I thought you were the oddest fish I had ever come across."

"Why Joan of Arc?"

"Because you had war in your eyes from the first moment we met.  I
didn't recognise it so quickly then as I should now, but I couldn't help
seeing you didn't mean to waste much cousinly affection on me."

"I thought you were an awful idiot," she remarked, with smiling candour.

"And you tried to show it with more force than politeness; which was
cheek when you weren't anything much to boast of yourself."

They had reached the terminus and now climbed down, walking off homeward
together at a brisk pace.

"By the way, how's that long-legged, broad-shouldered British bull-dog
specimen who came to say good-by before going to South Africa?" he
asked.

"Umph! sour grapes!" with a little snort.

Basil was pleased.  He felt as if he were getting a little of his own
back again.

"Feeling a bit love-sick, eh?" he asked.

"If I were, I should think I had caught it from you," scathingly.

"Oh, I've given all that sort of thing up now; but I'm naturally
interested in your affairs, being a cousin.  When did he say he should
be back?"

"I didn't ask him."

"Ah!  I expect he had already told you."

"He had not."

"What! not when he asked you if you'd have diamonds or emeralds?"

"He wouldn't be likely to be so silly, and if you can't talk sense,
Basil Adair, for heaven's sake don't talk at all."

Basil laughed outright then with great enjoyment.

"It's such fun to tease you, Paddy," he said.  "You do get so
deliriously wild about nothing.  Good-night," as they reached her door.
"Don't fling the plates about when you get in, it's such an expensive
amusement," and he went off down the road.

All evening Paddy remained moody and preoccupied, revolving in her mind
how to tell Eileen about Lawrence.  In the end she waited until
bed-time, and they were alone.  She then began a long rigmarole about
the extraordinariness of coincidence, which made Eileen look at her with
wonderment, and question in her own mind if she had a bad headache or
anything.  Paddy noticed it, but held on until she was hopelessly and
inextricably mixed up, and then, after all her fine preparation, she
suddenly blurted out:

"Lawrence Blake is engaged.  I heard it from a friend of his this
afternoon."

Eileen turned deathly white and gripped a table near her.  She looked as
if she were going to faint.

"Oh, Eily! don't look like that!" cried poor Paddy.  "What a blundering
idiot I am.  Oh! don't take it to heart dreadfully--he isn't worth it--
really, really, he isn't."

It was too late for Eileen to prevaricate, so she just sat down and
leaned her face in her hands and said, "Tell me about it."

Paddy told her all she knew, and how she had heard of Gwendoline Carew
before and seen her photograph, but how, when she taxed Lawrence, he had
denied there was anything between them.

"I suppose he was just hesitating," she finished, "and as soon as he got
back to her he made up his mind."

Eileen said nothing.  It was a bitter blow to her, but no words could
ease it now.  Paddy, however, slipped down on her knees and threw her
arms round her.

"Eily, Eily!" she cried.  "I'll kill him, I will indeed, if you take it
to heart so.  I don't know how he dare hurt you, but you are well rid of
him; he is just a scoundrel and no gentleman at all, and he would never
have made you happy.  I am quite sure he never would.  You didn't know
him so well as I did.  I used to hear from Kathleen how queer he was at
home.  Sometimes he would scarcely speak for days, and he just damped
everything for them all; but he was so selfish he did not care.  And I
hate to tell tales, but I am not sure that he doesn't drink, Eileen.  He
used to at one time.  I feel awful to think you are unhappy through him,
but I'd feel more awful still, I think, if you were going to marry him."

Eileen kissed her, but still remained silent.  What was there to say?
She had loved this man, she had given him of her best, encouraged and
attracted by his attentions, and now at last she knew indeed that what
he had won he did not want, and all he had said meant nothing.  She
remembered the incident in the boat--she remembered the half-hour in the
conservatory at the dance--ah! she would not easily forget that; but how
it hurt her, oh! how it _hurt_ that this man she loved had proved
himself fickle and false.  She hid her face in her hands--her eyeballs
burnt and scorched, her head throbbed wildly, but she could not cry.
She felt as if all her tears were dried up for good.

"Don't say anything to mother, Paddy," she managed to plead at last.
"Keep it just between you and me.  By and by I shall feel better about
it, and then I will tell her myself."

Paddy was crying quietly now; she was devoted to her only sister and
cared as much as if the pain had been hers.  For the time all thought of
her own feelings went out of her mind, and with true unselfishness she
pleaded for Jack.  But Eileen only shook her head.

"I couldn't love Jack in that way," she said with quiet resolve.  In her
heart she felt she could never love any one in that way again, but she
did not say so to Paddy.  She waited until her sister's regular
breathing told her she was asleep, and then had it out by herself in the
kindly darkness of the night.

And Paddy went to sleep vowing vengeance black and overwhelming upon the
cause of her sister's misery.

"He shall suffer for it yet," she told herself.  "I, for one, will never
forgive him; and if I can make him pay, I will."

CHAPTER THIRTY.

AN ENCOUNTER.

In July Paddy had to go up for her examination, and for days she was in
a fever of nervous anxiety about it.

"What's it matter!"  Basil said.  "Examinations never worry me."

"They wouldn't me if I didn't care whether I passed or not."

"Well, why do you?  It's silly, I think."

"Umph!" expressively.  "If I were a man I'd sooner sweep a crossing than
live on my mother."

Basil flushed and bit his lip.  Things had been going so easily and
pleasantly with him for years, that it was extremely trying to have
these pointed remarks hurled at his head.

"The mater likes it," he grunted.

"Well, you see, she has your delicate health so much at heart,"
sarcastically.  "I wonder she let you come out without an overcoat this
morning.  I do hope you won't take cold."

"Chuck it!" and he frowned gloomily.  Presently he glanced up.

"Look here, Paddy!" he said.  "If you get through your exam, I'm hanged
if I don't buck up, and get through mine, too."

"You'd better begin working to-night," she answered, "for I mean to
pass," and she shut her lips with a determination that spoke volumes.

And she did pass too--one of the three girls out of the whole number who
had only worked for six months, and there was great rejoicing in the
little jerry-built villa.  Eileen went with her to the hall where the
examination was held, and waited all the time she was there.  Before
Paddy appeared Basil joined her.

"It matters a good deal to me," he told Eileen, "because if she passes
I've got to start working to pass too."

When Paddy came her eyes shone so, there was no occasion to ask her
anything.

"Oh, Eileen," she said, "do you think I might dance a jig right here!
Faith! and indaid!--I'm that plaized--!"

Basil was pleased too, though he would have thought it bad form to show
it too much.

"Let's go and have a beano," he said.  "We'll dine at the Trocadero and
then go to Daly's."

"Oh, but I must rush home and tell mother."

"We can wire," and he succeeded in persuading them to go with him to the
nearest telegraph office and dispatch telegrams to Mrs Adair and the
aunties; and then they trooped away delightedly to the Trocadero.  Paddy
dearly loved dining out in this way, and all those sitting near them
could not refrain from glancing again and again at the table from which
such a genuinely happy laugh rang out.  Even Eileen was gay that
evening, and Basil surpassed himself with tales of the medical students
and the comic side of hospital life.

When they at last got home they found Mrs Adair waiting with tears of
gladness, for she knew how bitterly Paddy would have felt it had she
failed.  The following week they all went off to Seaforth for a month,
neither Mrs Adair nor Eileen being well, and consequently the long
journey to Omeath was pronounced too trying, and the nearer English
seaside place decided upon.

When they came back Paddy was duly installed as dispenser in her uncle's
surgery; and her hours being nine to eleven and half-past five to eight,
she was kept fairly busy.  This was fortunate, as it left her little
time to mope, as she would otherwise have done.  For as the weeks sped
by Paddy could not in any degree grow reconciled to London, and when
they first returned from Seaforth it seemed more hideous to her than
ever.  She hated Shepherd's Bush with all her strength, and secretly
much missed the daily journey to Chancery Lane, which had at least been
interesting.  To this free-born mountain-child the cramped streets, the
dingy rows of ugly little houses, the whole atmosphere of this London
suburb, were positively repulsive; and she felt as if she were in a
cage, against which she was ever beating and bruising her wings in a
vain longing to escape.  It was much the same to Eileen and her mother,
only they were made in a less vigorous mould, and it was not so hard for
them to bear up, helped as they were by a religion which was very real
and very true.  Paddy's religion, it must be confessed, was chiefly her
father.  She stuck to her dispensing manfully because she had promised
to be a good son, but deep in her heart she nursed a silent soreness
against God that He had let things come to this pass.  It was, perhaps,
wrong of her, but no doubt that brave loyalty to her promise, covered
much weakness in the eyes of Him who understandeth the secrets of every
heart, their soreness as well as their patience.  Also, when Eileen's
defences did break down, she suffered even more for the time being.
Paddy could fling about and hurl out vigorous sarcasms, in which poor
Shepherd's Bush got even more than its due of opprobrium, but which
relieved her feelings a good deal, while Eileen could only fight it out
silently alone.  And whereas the mountains and loch represented so much
fun and adventure to Paddy, they had been actual friends and companions
to Eileen, and no one knew how terribly she missed them, nor what an
utter loneliness there was in her heart.  At these times she could not
but turn gladly to Jack's occasional letters.  They were not brilliant
specimens of either penmanship or composition, but there was the true
ring of the man himself about them, with his breeziness and humour and
unmistakable sincerity.  He made no direct allusion to anything that had
passed between them before he left, filling them chiefly with
descriptions of the free, wild life on an Argentine cattle ranch, but
there was something in the way he put things, and in the fact of each
letter being addressed to her, that whispered a secret message to
Eileen's heart.  She was not ready for the message yet, but when she was
very lonely it was a soothing thought and she let it linger in her mind
gladly.  Paddy, meanwhile, with true pertinacity, remained staunch to
her old chum.  What Jack had been to her he still remained, and seemed
likely to do at present, to the detriment of any other would-be suitor.
Paddy felt she liked them all, but not any one more than another, except
Jack O'Hara.  Poor Ted Masterman only came in for an equal share with
the rest, though she still continued to wear his coin, and he never
ceased to think of her, night and day, in his far-off African home.
Then there were the two O'Connors, to say nothing of Cousin Basil.  At
first it had been the gallant Captain, who soon found himself in a ripe
condition to be consoled for the loss of Owen Carew; but he had made no
headway whatever, not even as much as with the gay society belle, and
finally had to return to India needing consolation all over again.  Then
his brother Pat, the Middlesex lady-killer, took a turn, but with still
less success, for Paddy would not even bother to amuse him, and
pitilessly summed him up in the same breath with the meek young curate,
who had meanwhile become hopelessly enamoured of Eileen's lovely face.

Basil, on the whole, she began to rather like, though she still taunted
and teased him mercilessly; but if he got at all sentimental, as he very
much wanted to do, he was shut up in such a very summary fashion that it
was quite an exercise in courage ever to approach the dangerous ground
at all.

With the doctor's patients she was a great favourite.  Being a poor
practice, those who could usually fetched their medicines themselves,
and others sent children; and for one and all Paddy had a cheery
greeting, or a merry jest, from behind her rows of neatly-wrapped
bottles.  To a police sergeant, who started airing all his grievances at
things in general at great length, she once said: "What's the good of
grumbling; it doesn't really help matters a bit.  Do you know, if I
stopped to think now, and then tried to express my feelings, I should
just hurl all these bottles at your head, and anyone else's head who
happened to come to the surgery."

The sergeant of police was so impressed that he went away quite
thoughtfully, and the next time he fetched medicine he brought her half
a score of new-laid eggs from his own fowl run.

"I was thinkin' about you findin' it dull work corkin' up them bottles,"
he said a little shamefacedly, "and them'll be as good as you got in the
country, which you can't say of many eggs in London."

But it was one day the following spring, fifteen months after she had
first come to London, that a chance meeting in Regent street brought
about the beginning of a great change in Paddy's life.  It was amazing
how trim, and neat, and smart she had become now; London must certainly
have been said to suit her, for she had rounded and filled out into a
charming figure; and, while taking pains with her dress and appearance,
she still walked with the old light, free step of her country days, her
head thrown well back and her eyes clear and frank as of old.  Without
the least effort or wish on her part, wherever she went she was almost
sure to be noticed, even when with Eileen, who, however, must always
absorb the lion's share of passing homage.  Mrs Adair was, indeed,
justly proud of her two girls' increasing charms; while far away, under
the sunny South American sky, across endless reaches of rolling grass,
raced Jack--the other part of the Irish trio--likewise developing into a
fine, strong, deep-hearted specimen of his sex, immeasurably the better
for his hard work and various hard experiences in the matter of roughing
it generally.

On that particular spring afternoon, however, it is with a thin-faced,
clean-shaven man, and a very striking, dark-eyed girl, who passed up
Regent Street and went into Fuller's to tea, that we have now to do.
The man was mostly silent, as was his wont; but the girl was chattering
gayly, now and then drawing a smile to his lips; and from the amount of
nods she dispensed in different directions it was very evident she knew
and was known very well.  After they had commenced their tea, the girl
bethought her of some special kind of cream bun she particularly wanted,
and her companion must needs go and hunt for it.  While he was gone she
looked round casually, and was presently enjoying in no small degree a
lively altercation between two girls seated near as to which should pay
for their tea.  There was not much question from the beginning as to
which would win, for the girl who first caught and held the watcher's
fancy was unmistakably a young person who usually got her own way by
hook or crook, and in this case she informed her companion of her
intention in quite as original and outspoken a way as she did most
things.  Finally, they departed, and the dark-eyed stranger was quite
sorry to see them go.

When her attendant knight returned with the cream buns in question, his
usually impassive face wore the faintest suspicion of surprise, but he
only placed her delicacies before her and said: "There! now you can make
yourself ill to your heart's content."

"You ought to have been here a minute ago," she said.  "There was such
an amusing discussion between two girls about which should pay.  I was
immensely taken with one of them--she wasn't exactly pretty, but she
looked so jolly, and she just carried everything before her in a most
entertaining fashion.  She's just the sort of girl I'd fall in love with
if I were a man.  Did you notice her?  She was paying at the desk while
you hunted up these cakes."

"I did.  It was Paddy Adair."

"Paddy Adair!" in tones of amazement.  "Was that really Paddy Adair,
Lawrence?"

"It was."

"Goodness!" and Gwen grew quite contemptuous.  "Why you said she was
plain and dowdy!"

Lawrence calmly continued his tea.

"So she was the last time I saw her."

"Well, she isn't now, anyway.  I call her quite striking, and she was
distinctly well dressed."  There was a pause, then she added: "Perhaps
she's married, and got a man to choose her things for her.  That's one
thing husbands are sometimes good for; and some of them know a fair
amount about hair-dressing too."

"No, she's not married," said Lawrence.  "Doreen was talking about them
only the other day.  They're living in Shepherd's Bush."

"Shepherd's Bush!" echoed Gwendoline.  "How awful, after their country
home.  But how London has smartened her up, hasn't it?"

"Astonishingly."

"I wish you had come back in time to speak to her," continued Gwen.
"I'd like to be introduced."

Meanwhile, Paddy walked down to Piccadilly Circus with Ethel Matheson,
and then hurried back to get her 'bus in Oxford Street.  On the way she
dashed into a shop and bought some tomatoes, a favourite dish of her
mother's--true to her nationality, acting on the spur of the moment,
blissfully regardless of the fact that she could have got the same
article for half the money at the other end of her 'bus ride.  As she
hurried past Fuller's Lawrence and Gwendoline came out, the latter
catching sight of her instantly.

"There's Paddy Adair!" she exclaimed.  "Do stop her."

Lawrence hesitated and in that second Paddy brushed too near a boy with
a basket, the basket caught against her bag of tomatoes--carried no
doubt in somewhat careless fashion--the paper split, and out sprawled
the tomatoes all across the pavement in the midst of the rank and
fashion of Regent Street.

"Christopher Columbus!" exclaimed Paddy under her breath and blushing
crimson, but quite unable to help laughing, as she commenced diving for
her belongings among the feet of the passers-by.  A dark-eyed girl,
enjoying the scrimmage immensely, rescued one from the gutter, while the
man with her succeeded in getting three from various directions, and
when Paddy at last turned to thank them, a lovely colour in her cheeks
and a bewitching roguishness in her eyes, she found herself face to face
with Lawrence Blake and his companion, each offering her a tomato.

CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

PADDY MAKES A NEW FRIEND.

For one moment Paddy was utterly at a loss, and bit her lips in evident
vexation, while the colour deepened still further in her face.

"How do you do, Paddy?" said Lawrence.  "You seem to be in difficulties
as usual.  May I introduce you to your other timely helper, Miss
Grant-Carew?"

Paddy bowed very stiffly, but as Gwen promptly held out her hand, she
was obliged to take it.  She managed, however, to avoid doing likewise
with Lawrence.  Gwen pretended not to notice her coldness, and remarked
laughingly:

"I'm so glad I didn't miss that.  You can't think how funny it looked--
in Regent Street of all places, too?"

Paddy was constrained to laugh again at the recollection, but she busied
herself trying to rearrange the tomatoes in a secure fashion, and
absolutely refused to look at Lawrence.

"I think they will be all right now," she said.  "Thank you so much for
helping me to pick them up.  I'm in rather a hurry, as I have to be at
the surgery by half-past five--if you will excuse my running off.
Good-by!" and in two seconds she was vanishing in the crowd.

Gwen looked at Lawrence drolly.

"She's a good hater," she remarked.  "Gwen isn't used to being put off
in that summary fashion.  She doesn't like it, Lawrie."

"It's your own fault.  You practically pushed me into the introduction."

"Because I wanted to know her.  It isn't often people don't want to know
Gwennie.  I don't understand!--me _ne comprenez pas_, Lawrie.  This is
going to be interesting," she ran on.  "I shall insist upon Doreen
inviting me to meet her in Cadogan Place."

Paddy meanwhile scrambled on to her 'bus, tomatoes held safely this
time, and started homeward feeling furious.

"How dare he introduce me!" she mused angrily.  "He knows I hate her.
How dare he stop me at all in that cool fashion!" calmly ignoring the
fact that the tomatoes and her own carelessness, not Lawrence, had done
the stopping.  "How pretty she is!" she went on in the same angry way.
"She's as pretty as Eileen.  I wouldn't have cared so much if she had
been plain, I think, but she's just lovely.  Oh, I hate her, I hate
her--I just hate them both!"

The bottles got rather banged about that evening, and the good doctor
looked up once or twice from his writing, in his little inner sanctuary,
and gently marvelled.  Basil happened to be at home, and strolled into
his father's den, though only with the idea of strolling out again
through the surgery door upon suitable pretext.  While hovering round
there was a sudden crash, which made the doctor start somewhat
violently.  Basil looked amused.

"Rather stormy this evening, eh?" he suggested.  "Perhaps I'd better go
and help to pick up the pieces," and he strolled out at the other door.

"Is it blowing great guns and glass bottles, to-night?" he asked of
Paddy, showing himself somewhat gingerly.

Paddy vouchsafed no reply.

"I understand it rained tomatoes in Regent Street this afternoon," he
went on, nothing daunted.

She could not forbear to smile.

"Who told you so?"

"Pat nearly lost his life trying to scramble off the top of a 'bus in
time to pick them up for you.  As far as I can make out, when he arrived
on the scene a gay Lothario and a wonderful Diana were in possession of
the field, and he thought well to decamp, and nearly broke his neck over
again boarding another 'bus, with his eyes occupied in the wrong
direction."

"Tell Mr O'Connor he shouldn't tell tales out of school."

"Is it the tomato incident that is making you cross?"

"I'm not cross."

"Well, of course I can't contradict you, but, like the parrot, I can
still think a lot."

"I shouldn't if I were you.  The unusual strain may hurt your brain."

"Whew--as bad as all that, is it?  No letter from Africa this mail, I
suppose?"

Paddy preserved a contemptuous silence.

"Too bad," said Basil.

"What's too bad?" said Paddy.  "Your last attempt at a joke?"

"The pater's getting anxious." he went on without heading her.  "He's
sitting in there," nodding toward the surgery, "strung up to an awful
pitch of nervousness lest you should be blind with--er--well, we'll call
it annoyance, and poison someone by accident."

"Go away," said Paddy.

"I've nowhere to go."

"Go and look for a picture book to keep you quiet."

"Don't be a silly kid, Paddy," persuasively.  "What's the matter?  I've
a strong right arm you can command as you wish.  Do you want someone
hit?"

"No."

"Well, let, me help anyway.  I'll wrap up the bottles for you."

She demurred, but he finally ensconced himself on a high stool beside
her and presently talked her into a better humour, afterward going home
with her, which was really rather kind of him after the manner of his
reception.

Three days later, Paddy received a most affectionate letter from Doreen
Blake, begging her to come to tea, as she was quite alone.

"Mother and Kathleen are slaying in Eastbourne," she wrote, "as Kathleen
has been ill, and I had to remain in London because I had accepted so
many invitations.  Miss Wells is here to look after the house, but you
and I can have a long, cosy chat all to ourselves.  If you don't come I
shall be dreadfully disappointed and hurt.  I want to hear all about the
dispensing and everything."

As Doreen had always been Paddy's special chum, there was nothing
unusual in Eileen being left out of the invitation, but Paddy tried to
make it an excuse not to go.  Her mother would not hear of it, however.

"I want you to go, dear," she said, "because I like Mrs Blake and
Doreen and Kathleen very much, and if they are going to remain in town
for the season it will be nice for you to go and see them sometimes
while Eileen and I are away."

It had been arranged that they two should go to Omeath and stay at the
Parsonage for three months, leaving Paddy at the doctor's, and later on
Paddy was to join them for her summer holiday, and Mrs Adair and Eileen
to come back.  This arrangement had been made owing to Eileen's
ill-health and the doctor's advice that they should not remain in London
all the summer, and as there was barely room for three visitors together
at the Parsonage, they decided to go in detachments.

In the end Paddy gave in and accepted the invitation, and at half-past
three on the appointed day presented herself at the Blakes' house in
Cadogan Place.  A butler ushered her in, in a lordly fashion, which
Paddy afterward mimicked much to Eileen's and her mother's amusement,
and she presently found herself alone in an enormous drawing-room, which
seemed to her just a conglomeration of fantastic chairs and
looking-glasses.  A few seconds later there was a swish-swish outside
and Doreen appeared.  For one second the girls looked at each other with
the unspoken question, "Are you changed?" and then with little
exclamations of delight they literally flew at each other.

"Paddy, this is just lovely!" exclaimed Doreen when they had finished
embracing.  "I've been longing to see you for months."

"Silk linings!" said Paddy, walking round Doreen quizzically.  "We are
grand nowadays!  If there's one thing I want more than another, it's to
go swish-swish as I walk."

"Nonsense!" said Doreen.  "I know better.  You don't care a fig about
it, and neither do I for the matter of that.  It's as much Lawrence's
fad as anyone's.  When Kathleen and I go out with him he likes us to be
lined with silk," and she laughed merrily, adding, "But what a swell you
are, Paddy, and how pretty you have grown!"

"It's only my hair," answered Paddy.  "I spend ten minutes on it now
instead of two.  It's awfully jolly to find you just the same, Doreen.
What a heap we've got to tell each other.  Are we going to say in this
`throne-room' or what?"

"Don't you like it?  We can sit on the rug by the fire, and no one will
come.  I told James to say `not at home.'"

"Is James the overpowering individual who condescended to show me
upstairs?  I nearly said `Thank you, sir!' by mistake."

Doreen pulled up two big cosy chairs, and they were soon talking
nineteen to the dozen, or rather Paddy twenty to Doreen's ten, with such
vigour, that neither of than heard the door open and a light footstep
enter.  At the sound of a bracelet jingling, however, they looked round
in surprise, to find Gwendoline, resplendent in a lovely new spring
costume, standing watching them with laughter in her glorious eyes.

"I knew you would be `not at home,' Doreen," she said, "so I just made
Lawrence lend me his latchkey.  Don't be vexed.  I'm sick of private
views, and spring shows and things, and I just wanted awfully to come
and see you and Miss Adair."

Doreen sprang up and made room for her eagerly, not noticing Paddy's
sudden stiffness.

"Come along," she exclaimed, "I'm delighted to see you.  I know you and
Paddy will get on first-rate."

Gwen held out her hand to Paddy and looked frankly into her face, as
much as to say, "I know you hate me, but I mean to change all that," and
Paddy, slightly disarmed, shook hands and said, "How do you do," with a
little less starchiness.

For ten minutes, results hung in the balance.  Gwen was at her best; she
was indeed most charming; but Paddy was obstinate, not to say somewhat
pig-headed, and when she was in that mood, to quote Basil, you might
almost as well try to persuade a lamp-post to walk across the road.

But Basil was not Gwen, and if he had tried for a life-time, he could
not have cultivated such powers of persuasion as hers and in this she
meant to win.  Paddy would have needed to be made of adamant to
withstand her.  In the end, of course, she gave in, and by the time the
stately butler condescended to serve them with tea, a merrier trio it
would have been difficult to find.

Lawrence heard their gay laughter down in the hall, as he hung up his
hat, and smiled a little grimly.

"Gwen's won," he said to himself.  "I wonder what sort of a reception I
shall get?"

He walked slowly upstairs, and as slowly entered the drawing-room.
Paddy was entertaining the other two with some of her dispensing
adventures and for a moment he remained unnoticed.  Paddy saw him first.

"I was reaching to a high shelf--" she was saying, and then she stopped
short suddenly, with her eyes on the door.

The other two looked round quickly, as Lawrence advanced, saying, "Yes,
you were reaching to a high shelf, and--"

"Nothing," said Paddy, "or at least nothing that would interest you."

"Try me."

"Come along, Lawrie," cried Gwen.  "We're having a regular, jolly old
school-girl afternoon.  You'll find it an education gratis, and you can
eat as much cake as you like.  We are all eating as if we had never ate
before, to make up for the times we went hungry at school."

Lawrence sat down by Doreen, opposite to Paddy.

"Delighted," he murmured.  "Always thought the _role_ of school-girl
would suit me down to the ground.  Touching this high shelf--don't let
me interrupt you, Paddy."

Paddy looked furious and got scarlet in the face.  She was determined
she _would not_ be friendly with Lawrence, and yet here she was, almost
on intimate terms with his _fiancee_, and fairly caught as regards
himself.

Gwen dropped her long lashes to hide a decided gleam of amusement, while
Doreen, pouring out tea and noticing nothing, said, "Go on, Paddy, you
needn't mind Lawrence."

"Of course not," he said, keeping his eyes fixed on her.  "Why should
she?"

Still Paddy bit her lip and hesitated.  "It's time I was going," she
said at last, very lamely, looking around for her gloves.

Gwen's mouth twitched desperately at the corners and Doreen looked up in
surprise.  Doreen's expression made Paddy pull herself together.

"It wasn't really anything worth telling," she said, "only that, instead
of standing on something to make myself taller as I ought to have done,
I tried to tilt the jar over into my hand, and while doing so the
stopper flew out.  The jar was full of black powder, and before I could
help myself I had most of it in my face and over my hair.  You never saw
anything so awful as I looked.  Brushing it off left long black streaks
in all directions, and the taste on my lips was filthy; the three people
waiting for their medicine nearly had convulsions, and the doctor came
out to see what was the matter."

"Oh, how delicious!" cried Gwen in enjoyment.  "Whatever did he say?"
while Doreen, laughing heartily, gasped:

"Oh, Paddy, you must have looked piebald!"

"Goodness only knows what I did look like," she said.  "I thought the
doctor was going to faint.  I tried to explain, but I was laughing so
myself, and meanwhile getting such horrid tastes of the wretched stuff,
that I couldn't frame a sensible sentence.  Finally, he grasped the
situation for himself, and stayed to get on with the dispensing, while I
went to try and get my face clean."  While they were still laughing, she
got up to go.

"I'm coming to call on you if I may?" said Gwen as they shook hands.

Paddy looked doubtful.

"It's rather an awful place to come to," she explained, "the ugliest
part of Shepherd's Bush.  You'd never find it."

"Oh, yes, I will.  I'll have a taxi, and refuse to get out until he
stops at your door.  He'll find it after a time."

"I'm only a visitor at my uncle's now, though," she continued in the
same doubtful voice, "and--well, to tell you the honest truth, my aunt
is rather tedious.  She's quite sure to help me entertain you, and
she'll give you a detailed history of every church work in the parish,
from its earliest infancy."

"I know!" cried Gwen with a sudden idea.  "We'll go to the surgery,
Doreen.  We'll hunt up some old prescriptions, and pretend we're poor
people come for medicine.  Yes, that will be much better fun!  I've
never seen a dispensary, and I'd love to poke about in all the drawers
and bottles," to which Doreen agreed readily and Paddy turned, to the
door.

Lawrence followed her.

"Shall I get my head bitten off if I venture to escort you to the hall?"
he asked, so that she alone could hear.

"I would not trouble you for the world," she replied frigidly, and
offered her hand.

Lawrence looked into her eyes, and something like a flash of sword-play
passed between them.

"All the same," he remarked, coolly, "I am going to send you home in a
hansom, and see you into it myself."

Paddy saw it was useless to object there and did not want to make a
scene, so went stiffly downstairs.  In the hall the lordly James stood
waiting.

"Call a hansom," said Lawrence briefly.

"Not for me," said Paddy, with her nose in the air.  "I am going in a
'bus."

"But it is raining fast, and you will only get wet."  Lawrence spoke a
little urgently, while the butler waited with impassive face.

"I love getting wet," icily.

The faintest suspicion of a smile hovered over Lawrence's lips, but he
only turned to the butler and said, "Go and ask Miss Doreen's maid for a
cloak and umbrella."

Paddy was unpleasantly aware that she could not afford to risk getting
her one smart costume spoiled, so she yielded with a bad grace.

When they were alone he turned to her again, and his thin lips
compressed into a straight line.

"I see you are a good hater," he said, "but I only like you the better
for it.  Do you remember--I said you had given me a new interest in
life, and that I would subdue you some day?  I am going to begin now."

"And I replied that I despised you.  I have seen no reason to change my
mind.  It is not of the least consequence to me what you do."

There was a gleam in his eyes that might have meant either admiration or
war, but Paddy, a moment later, only flung out of the house without
deigning him so much as a glance.

When she had gone, Lawrence did not return to the drawing-room.  He went
into his den and closed the door.  On the hearthrug he stood looking
silently at the floor.

"By Jove," he muttered a last, "who would have thought she would develop
like this.  Paddy-the-next-best-thing," with a little smile, "has become
Patricia-the-Great."

CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

PADDY LEARNS HER MISTAKE.

True to her word, Gwen called for Doreen a few days later, and the two
drove in a taxi to Shepherd's Bush and found their way to the surgery,
where Paddy, in a large black apron, was busy with her prescriptions.
They stayed about ten minutes and then drove away again, leaving Paddy
less able than ever to resist Gwen's overtures.  At the same time, she
felt no less incensed against Lawrence and anxious to avoid meeting him,
which was the cause of her reluctance to accept an invitation to a small
dance at Gwen's beautiful home in Grosvenor Place.

"I have no dress good enough," she told Doreen when they talked it over,
"and I can't afford to get a new one on purpose."

"Nonsense," asserted Doreen promptly.  "I know quite well you have.
Why, that pretty dress you had for our coming-out dance is not two years
old, and you have scarcely worn it at all.  You must just send it to me,
and I will get Jean to do it up for you.  You simply must come.  It will
be such a jolly dance.  Not a grand one at all, but one of Gwen's
impromptu hops, as she calls them."

In the end Paddy gave in, and on the evening of the dance arrived at
Cadogan Place in time to go with Doreen and Lawrence in their brougham.
She knew Lawrence would be there, but was prepared for it, and chatted
merrily to Doreen without ever including him if she could help it.

Lawrence took no notice, merely sitting forward, opposite to them, with
his arms across his knees, casually glancing through an evening paper.

When Paddy first arrived Doreen had made her take off her cloak and show
herself, and he had then, as she well knew, though he said nothing,
criticised her keenly.  Doreen had been enraptured.

"You look splendid!" was her verdict.  "I don't know what it is about
you, Paddy, but somehow you always manage to look striking nowadays.
Don't you think so, Lawrence?  Here am I, got up at endless expense,
mentioned in the fashionable papers as `pretty Miss Doreen Blake,' and
yet, when we go into the room together, I'm sure everyone will look at
you."

"If they do, it will only be my hair," laughed Paddy.  "It's so
difficult not to stare at carroty hair."

"Stuff!" from Doreen.  "But am I not right, Lawrence?"

Lawrence was standing a little apart, lighting a cigarette, and he did
not answer for a moment.

"Paddy has a lot of original ideas," he said at last, "and they somehow
cling about her.  The crowd is always struck with anything original."

Paddy was pulling on a long glove.  "I guess I'll have this stocking in
half before I've done," she remarked, with studied unconcern, "and then
I shall have to pin it to my sleeve to show I possess it, which is,
after all, the main thing about it."

When they reached the Hon.  Grant-Carew's, however, and had got rid of
their cloaks, Lawrence came up to them while chatting with Gwen and
asked Paddy how many dances she would give him.

Paddy tried to prevaricate, but both Gwen and Doreen were watching, and
Lawrence persisted.  He had purposely chosen that moment, knowing she
could hardly refuse before the other two.

"Give him three," said Gwen decisively.  "I'll allow that number, as
he's a lovely waltzer, and you're sure to enjoy them; but the rest of
your programme I'm going to superintend myself and see that you don't
get any tiresome partners at all."

Paddy bit her lip and flashed a look at Lawrence that seemed to dare him
to take advantage of her position.  He, however, only smiled slightly
with his usual impassivity, and wrote her name three times upon his
programme.  He then glanced at Gwen significantly, and she, in an easy,
natural fashion, possessed herself of Paddy's programme and handed it to
him.

Paddy was inwardly furious, but obliged to take it with a good grace.
When they had their first dance, however, she hardly spoke, and
afterward insisted upon remaining in the dance-room, so that she could
watch the other guests instead of keeping up a conversation.  Lawrence
pretended not to notice, but chatted pleasantly about the people and
pointed out any one of note to her.  The same thing happened at each of
his dances, and whereas Paddy was brilliant with enjoyment with all her
other partners, she immediately became constrained and silent with him.
And each time Lawrence chatted in his pleasantest way, and pretended not
to notice it.

Later, however, he suddenly dropped his pretence, and took the bull by
the horns in his most resolute fashion.  It had been arranged that Paddy
should return home in a hansom straight from Grosvenor Place, and after
saying good-by to Doreen she turned and nodded a casual good-by to
Lawrence, standing near.

"I am coming with you," he said calmly.

"Oh, no, certainly not," and Paddy looked very resolute.  "There is not
the least necessity to drag you all that way.  Besides, you must see
Doreen home."

"Doreen will go home in the brougham.  I am coming with you."

For one moment there was a dangerous look in Paddy's eyes; then Doreen
chimed in with:

"Don't be silly, Paddy.  Of course Lawrie will take you home.  As if he
were likely to do otherwise."

Paddy saw there was no help for it, and tripped down the steps and into
the hansom without giving him a chance to offer his hand.  Lawrence gave
the address and stepped in after her.

"Do you mind my cigarette?" he asked, to which Paddy replied coldly,
"Not in the least," and drew further back into her corner.

"You seem more angry with me than ever to-night," he began presently.

By this time Paddy had just about exhausted her none too large supply of
cold hauteur, so, feeling she must vent her anger somehow, she turned
upon him suddenly, which secretly pleased Lawrence because it was so
much more natural to her.

"Of course I am angry with you," she exclaimed.  "I think you have
behaved abominably.  You have simply laid traps for me, first over the
dances and then over this drive.  You know perfectly well I would have
refused both if Doreen and Miss Carew had not been with us."

"That was strategy.  They say all is fair in love and war."

"I don't care what they say; you are a paltry enemy, because you take a
mean advantage."

"And supposing I weren't an enemy at all?"

"But you are; you can't help being.  You only did it purely and simply
to annoy me.  You knew I did not want to dance with you, so you thought
you would make me, just for an amusement for yourself--because it's a
new experience to have an unwilling partner, or something equally silly.
It was only on a par with most of your actions."

Lawrence slowly knocked some ash off his cigarette.

"I can't understand Miss Carew helping you," Paddy ran on.  "If she is
going to marry you, it is no reason why she should encourage you in
annoying other people."

Lawrence raised his eyebrows slightly.

"What makes you think Miss Carew is going to marry me?" he asked.

"Well, when people are engaged to each other, don't they usually marry!"

There was a faint gleam of amusement in his eyes, but he managed to hide
it by studying the end of his cigarette.

"And what makes you think Miss Carew and I are engaged to each other?"

Paddy shook herself with an irritable movement.

"Because you are, of course!  I have known it a long time."

"Longer than we have, I suspect," with provoking calmness.

Paddy puckered her forehead into a frown, and condescended to look at
him.

"Of course, I don't know whether it is announced or not yet, and I'm
sure I don't care, but I heard from a mutual friend of yours and hers
that it was settled when you were in India over a year ago."

"Might I ask you the mutual friend's name?"

"It was Captain O'Connor.  He met you both in Calcutta.  But really,
except that I like Miss Carew very much, this is a most uninteresting
topic."

"On the contrary, considering we have never been engaged at all, and it
is very unlikely that we ever shall be, I find it extremely
interesting."

"Never been engaged at all!" gasped Paddy.

"Never to my knowledge," with the same provoking calmness.

"Impossible!  Captain O'Connor told me he had congratulated you both,
and that he heard it from Miss Carew herself."

A sudden light broke on Lawrence.  "Did he tell you it happened a year
last Christmas?" he asked.

"About then.  He was passing through Calcutta on his way home."

"Ah!" significantly.

"Then you were engaged," scathingly, "and with your customary
changeableness have broken it off again?"

"Yes, that's about it.  But this was a record in quick changes."

"Why?--how?" irritably, feeling there was something she did not
understand.

"Merely that it only lasted one evening."

"One evening!" incredulously.

"Yes.  But, of course, you do not care to hear about it.  I quite
understand that my affairs in any shape or form are not of the slightest
interest to you," which was quite a long sentence for Lawrence.

For a few minutes Paddy felt squashed; then her curiosity got the better
of her.

"Did Miss Carew do it?" she asked.

"She did.  She asked me to be her tool for one evening, having got into
a scrape with a hot-headed Irishman and a woolly-lamb Englishman.
Since, almost as long as I can remember, I have been at Gwendoline's
beck and call, I was perfectly willing.  I presume the hot-headed
Irishman was your friend Captain O'Connor."

For some minutes Paddy was struck dumb.  It had never entered her head
to question the engagement, and she had not mentioned it to Doreen
because it was such a sore subject.  Hastily reviewing the past year,
however, she could not but see that, on the whole, the news, though
incorrect, had been most beneficial to Eileen.  Undoubtedly, from the
time she learnt of Lawrence's supposed engagement, she had been better
able to pull herself together and set steadily about forgetting him.
Only this could not, to a girl like Paddy, in any measure abate what had
gone.  For every tear Lawrence's heartlessness had made her sister shed,
she felt she had an undying grudge against him, and she would not
forget.  Presently, to break the silence, she remarked:

"I don't know how you can help falling in love with Miss Carew.  Why
aren't you engaged to her?"

"Well, one very good reason, perhaps, is the fact that she is
practically engaged to someone else."

"Is she?" with ill-concealed eagerness.  "Who is he!"

"Unfortunately he happens to be a younger son, which is a heinous and
not easily-overcome offence in her mother's eyes, and hence the delay."

"What a pity!  Is he nice?"

"One of the nicest chaps I ever met."

"Oh, I do hope it will come out right in the end."

"There is not much doubt.  Gwen has her father on her side, and I think
it is chiefly a question of time with the mother.  But, for the matter
of that, Gwen always gets her own way in the end.  Her mother arranged
for her to be a countess eighteen months ago, but at the last moment she
advised the earl not to propose to her, and sent him flying."

"How splendid of her!" cried Paddy, forgetting her anger for a moment.
"And she is going to marry a plain Mr Somebody now?"

"Well, he holds a captain's commission in the Guards, and considerably
distinguished himself in South Africa.  I'm not sure it wasn't his V.C.
that took Gwen's fancy first."

"How nice!  I do like her so much.  I hope she'll be able to marry him
soon and be awfully happy.  Do you think I might mention it to her?"

"I'm surprised she hasn't already told you herself.  She is not in the
least reserved about it, and she is awfully in love with him.  She is as
good at loving as you are at hating, Paddy," and suddenly he was looking
into her eyes, with an expression she had never seen on his face before,
and which stirred her pulses unaccountably.  She fidgeted with her
hands, compressed her lips, and stared straight before her, feeling in
every corner of her being that he was still looking at her with those
calm, compelling eyes.

"Well!" he asked at last, and his voice was full of that winning quality
which had gained him such easy conquests in the past.  But it only made
Paddy hotly distrustful, and she gripped the front of the hansom and
called up every fighting instinct she possessed.

"Miss Carew would hate in my place."  She drew a long breath, as if
gathering herself together for a special thrust.  "Since she loves as
strongly as I hate, I am glad it is some one else, and not you, to whom
she has given her love."  She was unconsciously sitting rigidly upright,
and from his corner, with his compelling eyes still watching her face,
that gleam that might have been either love or war again passed through
them.

"You hit hard," he said at last; and then, with the slightest inflection
of a taunt in his voice, added: "Why don't you look at me--are you
afraid?"

Paddy bit her teeth together hard, and her breath came a little
fitfully.  She was not afraid--that was quite certain; but, on the other
hand, she had not quite the calm assurance she usually felt.  She would
greatly have preferred not to look at him.

"Well?" he said again.

Paddy took her courage in both hands.

"No, I am not afraid," and she turned her head a moment and looked full
and deep into his eyes.

Suddenly he gave a low, harsh laugh.

"My God!" he muttered.  "Patricia the Great!"  And then he flung his
half-smoked cigarette away and stared into the night.

Neither spoke again, and a few minutes later the cab drew up at her
uncle's door.  He sprang out first and offered her his aid, but she
gathered up her dress with both hands and ignored him.  At the door she
fitted the latchkey into the lock herself.  While she fumbled a little
in the dim light, she felt his eyes again fixed on her, and before she
managed to get the door open he said, in low, distinct tones, "The new
interest you have given me is growing apace, Patricia.  I see it is
going to be war to the knife, but, if I'm worth my name, I'll win yet."

"Good-night," she said jauntily, as the door at last opened, then
slammed it in his face.

CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

PATRICIA THE GREAT.

It would be difficult to say when the awakening first came to Lawrence.
Before it came he felt it growing every day.  After it came, it seemed
to have been there all along.  At first he blinded himself with the
belief that he was only piqued.  That it would on the whole be
entertaining to break down her defences and subdue her.  He was grateful
to her for giving him even that much new interest in life.

Afterward he faced the situation with entire honesty.  He admitted
frankly to himself that he loved her, and he knew, without going any
further, that it was the love of his life.  All the past peccadilloes,
entanglements, fancies, were nothing--were mere episodes--nothing seemed
real any longer except that he loved Paddy Adair.  He, the graceful
_dilettante_, the highly eligible society man, the casual, cynical
scholar--she, the harum-scarum tom-boy, the fearless Irish
romp--"Paddy-the-next-best-thing."

When the awakening had come, and he faced the facts squarely, he
believed he had loved her ever since the night of the Omeath dance,
when, in his den, she had flung defiance at him, and marched off with
her head in the air, in lofty disdain.

He reviewed what had transpired between them since, and; his thoughts
were gloomy enough.  Most emphatically the defiance and the disdain were
still the dominant notes she was at no further pains now, than then, to
hide her contempt.  He knew that since the night of Gwen's dance she had
resorted to strategy to avoid him.  Since his mother and Kathleen
returned home there had been much sight-seeing and entertaining, and
Paddy was continually requisitioned.  Yet she contrived to turn up on
the occasions when he had another engagement, and remain absent when he
made a victim of himself for the express purpose of seeing her.  Even at
a second dance she had outwitted him.

"Lawrence will take you home," Doreen had said in his presence, and
Paddy had politely replied: "Thank you."  Yet when he sought her neat
the end of the evening, it was to find she had already gone--undoubtedly
missing two dances rather than accept his escort.

The third time, however, he was one too many for her.  He watched from a
safe vantage ground until he saw her give a quiet glance round, and then
surreptitiously slip away.  Instantly he accosted Doreen.

"It is raining in torrents," he told her, "and I don't want the horses
to wait to-night.  I shall go home now, and send a taxi for you and
Kathleen at one o'clock."

Doreen thought it a little odd, but was immediately claimed by a
partner, and Lawrence gave her no time to reply.

When Paddy slipped cautiously out of the cloak-room and made for the
door, she stopped short before a coated figure unmistakably waiting for
her, and said: "Oh!"

"I'm going to take you home in the carriage," said Lawrence, with a
resolution against which she felt powerless.  "I've arranged with the
others to be fetched in a taxi."

Paddy flashed defiance at him, bit her teeth together, and descended the
steps with the air of an outraged princess.  Lawrence reflected that it
was a long way to Shepherd's Bush, and smiled grimly to himself--partly
at the feelings of his coachman, and partly at the success of his ruse.

So they bowled along in a comfortable brougham, though Paddy disdained
the padded cushions, and sat bolt upright like a terrier on guard.
Lawrence sat back in his corner and watched her, feeling for the moment
almost content.  It was something, at least, to have captured her for a
few minutes and have her all to himself.  Her skirts brushed against his
foot, her flowers exhaled a delicate perfume in the carriage, her cloak,
falling open, slipped back a little on to his knee.  Lawrence had
reached the stage when a man is thankful for very small mercies, and he
was vaguely thankful for these.

"Am I permitted to express an old friend's congratulations on your
appearance?" he asked presently, in a voice that held no mockery.

"When I am with you I seem to do nothing but repeat myself," was the
crushing reply.  "How often am I to tell you that what you do, say, or
think, is not of the smallest consequence to me."

"You could not please me better than by repeating yourself," a little
whimsically.  She stared in front of her.

"Can any one come to your surgery for medicine?" presently.  "If I came
with an ill, would you try to administer healing to me?"

"I should try to administer a rebuff that would prevent your ever coming
again."

He smiled a little.  "You couldn't hit harder than you have; and yet I
still come."

"That is your colossal obstinacy.  Nothing in your life has ever
attracted you except the unattainable.  I understand perfectly, that
because I happen to have the hardihood to withstand your overtures, and
the originality," with finely toned satire, "to prefer your room to your
company, it amuses you to thrust your attentions upon me, just to see
how soon I shall give in and bow down with the rest.  You may save
yourself the trouble.  I shall never give in.  It is only because of
your mother and sisters that I assume any degree of friendliness
whatever."

"And what if I say I will never give in either?  I am a strong man,
Paddy, when I make up my mind about anything."

"You are nothing of the kind.  You are a coward, or you would not
persist in taking unfair advantages of me."

He flushed, but refused to get angry.

"I have taken no unfair advantage to-night.  Only yesterday you accepted
my escort before Doreen."

"Only because I was cornered, and you knew it."

He was silent for a space, then returned to the charge.

"Why won't you cry a truce, Paddy?" and his voice was strangely winsome.
"No one is hurt now, and you cannot choose but feel in your heart that
it was a good thing I went away in time."

To any one less unsophisticated than Paddy, less direct in all her
thoughts and actions, less fearlessly independent, such a tone of voice
must have been dangerously alluring--coming, moreover, from such as he,
with all his advantages, to such as she with all her losses.  But Paddy
was a soldier to the backbone.  Having thrown down the glove and entered
the combat, she would give and take no quarter.  Personal gain was
nothing--personal loss still less--Lawrence was the enemy--the enemy she
had declared war against, and until the conduct that had so infuriated
her was amply atoned for, she would not only stick to her guns, but was
of the stuff to die uselessly beside them for a lost cause.  She was her
father over again at the sternest moments of his brilliant career.  No
parleying with the enemy--War.  The old charm for once fell on heedless
ears.  She continued to look rigidly out into the night, with her face
averted, and did not even condescend to reply.

She was thinking with no small satisfaction that he would no doubt soon
be leaving London for a long time.  Already arrangements were in
progress for Mrs Blake and the girls to go to Mourne Lodge, and it was
not in the least likely that Lawrence would accompany them.  At any time
he had only gone under protest, and that very evening Doreen had
expressed curiosity as to where he would go when they departed.  The
thought that she would probably not see him again for months after
to-night, further gladdened and fortified her.

When he spoke again she was ready for him.

"Well?" he asked, in that most beguiling of voices.  "Is it to be a
truce, Paddy--for the sake of the old days!"

She stared straight before her.

"It is only when the old days cease to exist there can be a truce
between you and me," in measured tones.  "On account of the old days,
and because they will live to our last gasp, I shall never again be your
friend."

Then a surprising thing happened--a thing that took her breath away, and
left her speechless.  Suddenly, from leaning back in his corner, he
started up, and bent forward, and seized both her hands in his in a grip
of iron.

"I don't want you to be my friend!" he exclaimed, almost roughly.  "Good
God! as if I should put myself out, and go to the lengths I have, just
to gain a friend!"  He gave a little harsh laugh.  "A friend, indeed!--
no, I don't want your friendship, listen, Paddy--" the hands gripping
hers tightened, and she saw in the dim light that he was very white, and
his eyes gleamed strangely, and masterful resolve filled his face.  "It
is a _wife_ I want--not a friend--and a _wife_ I mean to have.  This
feud is nonsense.  It is mere obstinacy now.  If I behaved wrongly to
Eileen I am sorry.  I can't say any more, and you can see for yourself
it was a good thing we never got engaged.  Are you going to let an
ancient thing like that come between us--punish two people for a third
one who is unhurt?  I say `two,' because I know I could make you happy,
if you would drop this--this--prejudice, and be your old self again."

While he was speaking Paddy herself turned very pale and for a moment
there was a bewildered expression in her eyes, as she continued to gaze
fixedly before her.  Then once again she rallied her forces for a final
blow.  She wrenched her hands from his and faced him squarely.

"You must be mad!" she said.  "You can't know what you are talking
about.  How many times am I to tell you that I hate you?--Listen! hate
you--_hate_ you.  I do not know what you mean by a prejudice.  I know
that you dared to trifle with one of my house--I know that you nearly
broke my sister's heart--I know that you are heartless, and cruel, and
selfish--and then you talk to me of love and marriage,"--she paused for
very indignation.

"Yes, I do," he interrupted decisively, "and I shall again, in spite of
your kind summing up."

"Then thank goodness you are going away, and, at least, we shall not
meet any more for a long time!"

"Who told you I was going away!"

"Don't you always go away in the summer?--and besides the others are
leaving for Mourne Lodge directly."

"And what if they are?"

"You must go somewhere."

"Certainly.  I am going to Mourne Lodge with them."

Paddy was momentarily staggered, then she peered out of the window at
the street.  "We are just arriving," she said, "I can let myself in.
You need not get out in the rain."

He only gave a low laugh, and took the latchkey out of her hand.

As he opened the door, he looked once more hard into her eyes:

"Good-night, Patricia the Great.  We shall meet again at Omeath."

Paddy went upstairs feeling a little dazed, and then commenced throwing
things about to relieve her feelings.

"How he dare!--how he dare--!" a slipper crashed into the fireplace.
"Anything for novelty.  I suppose he thinks he will amuse himself with
me next!  He talks as if he imagines I am merely playing--as if a little
coaxing and cajolery--he's--he's--bother these tangles!" and the
beautiful hair began to suffer badly from its owner's perturbed frame of
mind.  "But he'll soon find he's mistaken,"--the hairbrush missed the
window by half-an-inch, and fell into the water-jug: "Oh! if only I were
a man and could fight him!--But I'm a Dublin Fusilier General's
daughter--and I ought to know something about fighting!"  Over went a
chair backward, bringing down a small table laden with photo frames.
"I'll be even with him yet--the sweep!" with which she dived under the
bedclothes, as if she were a whole regiment of Fusiliers storming a
position.

CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

ROBERT MORONY ON CHURCH RESTORATION.

It was not until the second week in August that Paddy was able to start
on her summer holiday, and then she journeyed to Omeath to pay her
long-counted-on visit to the Parsonage.

Eileen and her mother and the two aunties were all at the little station
awaiting her, when the train drew up soon after seven in the morning,
and, like some small terrier beside itself with excitement, Paddy almost
fell headlong, upon the top of them all.  From the very instant she
caught sight of her old friend the giant on Carlingford Mountain she
threw off all cares, all recollections of London, all responsibilities,
and stepped into the Omeath train almost the identical, headstrong,
happy-go-lucky Paddy of eighteen months ago.  Such a hand-shaking there
had been at Greenore, for she knew all the railway porters and the
station officials and everyone connected with the hotel, and, judging
from the greetings, they were as pleased to see her as she them.  At
Omeath the others began to wonder what time they would manage to get her
as far as the Parsonage, for every man, woman, and child had to be
talked to and shaken hands with.

There was a great spread for breakfast--everything that they knew she
liked best and poor Paddy had to taste something of each dish to please
them, until she was obliged to impress them politely that she had
reached the utmost limit of her capacity.  After breakfast she and
Eileen went off on an exploring expedition through the village.  At the
church gate they met the sexton, old Robert Morony, a sort of monument
of longevity to the village.

"I've been to see the restorations, Robert," cried Paddy joyously.
"Doesn't the church look lovely!"

"It do, indaid, Miss Paddy," answered the old man, shaking hands with
unmistakable pleasure.  "Faith! did ye iver see sich a luvely place o'
warship afore?  An' everythin' so compact lik'!  What I mean, nothin'
stunted."

"I should think not, Robert.  Trust Aunt Jane and Aunt Mary to do a
thing thoroughly if they undertake it.  When I heard the church was to
be restored by them, I said, `Begorra! that'll be an edifice to be proud
of now!'"

Robert chuckled with delight.

"But shure, an' you don't see the half," he explained eagerly.  "It's
all them nice things you don't see as so pleases me.  Now would you
belaive--there's actually twelve new dusters! positively bran' new, all
folded as neat an' trim-lik' an' put away where no one can see 'em.  Now
that's what I call restoring a church properly--indaid, I just luve the
sight of 'em."

"I quite agree with you, Robert," and Paddy's eyes twinkled rarely.
"It's the things I can't see, that I love to look at."

"Egzactly," with growing excitement.  "_I_ ought to 'a' showed you
roun', Miss Paddy, 'cos I knows where everythin' bides.  Why, there's
six new lamp glasses, all a-lying there case o' accidents, wrapped up in
beautiful tissue paper.  I'd a-lik' you to see they lamp glasses.  Oh!
an' the new iron safe," getting almost beside himself.  "Did ye see 'im
a-sittin there in the vestry, on all they hymn books, all neatly stacked
underneath, looking as important like as if 'e knew 'e was livin' in one
o' the foinest churches in ould Oireland?"

"When an iron safe sits on hymn books, what do you suppose hatches out?"
murmured Paddy wickedly to Eileen.

"Did ye see the new bell rope?" ran on Robert, waving his stick about in
a somewhat dangerous fashion to eyes and noses.  "A brave wee bit o'
rope that--strong 'nough to hang a man, as I says to Andrew Murphy.  The
blue ceiling with the yellow stars is all very well, and the new altar,
and the winder with the angels playin' on real Oirish harps--but 'tis
all a bit popish to my thinkin'--and I lik' that brave wee rope, and
they lamp glasses in tissue paper, and they twelve bran' new dusters the
best.  Faith! 'tis meeself should have shown ye roun'.  I'm shure ye
didn't see the half.  Did ye notice the new tumbler o' wather for 'is
rivirence to drink from when 'is sermons is too long-winded for 'im?
Faith! we did make a job of it.  Ivery 'ole and corner turned out and
clained.  Shure, it's meeself did the back seat by the font, and to my
sartin knowledge it 'adn't been cleaned out this ten or twelve year.
Niver more'n about once since I've had the cue o' the edifice this forty
year."

This finished Paddy, and with a hasty farewell she sped off to the beach
for her first sail; later on in the day writing Jack a long epistle upon
Robert Morony and the church restoration, which Jack read lying at
full-length on his back on the grass a month later; and his shouts of
laughter brought his colleagues round to beg a share of the fun.

Two days later Eileen and her mother left for Dublin, and Paddy became
the spoiled darling of the Parsonage.

She went everywhere just as of old, and though for a little while she
avoided Mourne Lodge, not wishing to meet Lawrence, she soon found her
strategic position untenable, and was obliged to yield to the insistent
persuasions of Kathleen and Doreen, who began to look genuinely puzzled
and distressed over her extraordinary reluctance to visit them.

Then she decided to take the bull by the horns, and instead of putting
their first encounter off any longer, seek it purposely, and _get_ it
over.  With this end in view she bicycled to Mourne Lodge, in a more or
less ferocious frame of mind, once more to confound the enemy.  As it
happened, however, the enemy had seen fit to change its tactics, and
instead of the new graciously polite Lawrence, there was only the old
casual, indifferent looker-on.  Paddy, with all her artillery in
readiness, was for once non-plussed.  "How do, Paddy!" he said coolly,
when he joined them at tea, and sat down as far from her as possible,
and commenced playing with his dogs, taking no further notice.  Of
course it is one thing to have all your guns in readiness and get a few
good round shots in, and quite another to be calmly and loftily ignored,
and Paddy's instant impulse was to hurl every portable article within
reach at his head.  To make matters worse, she was furiously aware that
she had blushed crimson when he first appeared, and that he had probably
seen it, and drawn his own conclusions.  To show him she did not care,
she fired one or two shots at him at random, but the result, as she
ought to have foreseen, was only a further assumption of the very
indifference that irritated her.  He looked at her as if she were not
there, and maintained, for the most part, his habitual silence.

Neither did it prove to be for that day only, but each time she came.
There was just a casual greeting, and then silence, and he declined all
part in their daily excursions.

Paddy told herself she was relieved he had at last realised it was
useless to try and make friends; but at the same time it was rather dull
without Jack, or Eileen, as she could not always be off to friends, and
she almost wished they could have just one battle-royal to liven things
up a little.  It was all very well to have no parleying with the enemy,
but that did not mean one would be content to sit down quietly in sight
of the enemy's lines, and never so much as fire a shot; certainly not
for an Irish Fusilier's daughter.  She was vaguely wishing for this
encounter the day she paddled about alone in Jack's little skiff,
because it had been too wet to bicycle to Newry, and she looked a little
doleful, until another skiff, impelled by long, smooth strokes came out
of the sunlight and drew near.

She watched it coming, admiring the long, even strokes, and wondering a
little fitfully, who was its occupant.  As it came nearer, she
recognised Lawrence's thin profile, and lean, muscular figure, she felt
a sudden quickening of her pulse, and a half hope that there was a
chance of a skirmish.  Or would he row straight past and merely throw
her a casual greeting?

On and on came the skiff, and still the long even strokes--evidently he
was going straight by.  Two strokes away, however, he suddenly stopped
pulling and leaned on his oars.  The boat drifted up beside hen.  Paddy
got her guns ready.

"Hullo!" he said casually.  "I thought you were playing in the tennis
tournament this afternoon."

"I was knocked out first round," trying to speak as casually as he, but
with a sudden inflection of regret she could not wholly stifle.

"Were you?" in some surprise; "that's a new experience for you!"

"I am out of practice."

"Don't you play in London?"

"No."

"Why not?" rolling himself a cigarette.

"I have no opportunity."

"You must miss it a good deal."

She was silent.

"I suppose you'll be going back soon?" going on with his cigarette with
a resolutely cold, impassive air.

"Yes!  I haven't much more than a week left."  She fidgeted restlessly.
This impassivity was too maddening.

"You won't like that?"

It was because the mere thought nearly made her cry, that she replied
jauntily:

"Oh!  I don't mind much.  I'm getting used to London now."

Still he would not look up.

"Shepherd's Bush is hardly London," a little cruelly.

"Anything is London that is not Omeath," she retorted.

He smiled a little to himself.  "I thought you had just implied that you
rather liked London."

"I said I didn't mind going back.  I don't; Mother and Eileen will be
there."  She flashed one of her old glances at him, but he was still too
much occupied to look up.  It made her vaguely angry.  There was no
necessity to treat her as if she were a wooden post.  She cast about in
her mind for a bone of contention, and at just that moment Lawrence
finished rolling his cigarette, struck a match, and lit it.

"Well, I must be off," in the same careless tone.  "See you at the
picnic, I suppose,"--and almost before she could reply he had pulled
away, and gone without once looking at her.

Paddy rowed to the shore, feeling that she wanted to hit some one.
"He's growing as dull as ditch-water!" she exclaimed snappishly, as she
tied up her boat.

CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

THE PICNIC.

A few days later came the great picnic up the mountain.  The Blakes gave
the picnic, and the guests numbered about seventy, half of them
proceeding to the climbing-place upon bicycles and the other half
driving.  The weather was not very promising from the first, but it was
too large an undertaking to put off, and they accordingly started out.

Paddy went in the Mastermans' carriage with the two aunts.  As they
drove along she wished, a little unaccountably, that Ted Masterman was
one of the party.  "After all," she mused, "he was better than no one,
and it was so very tame without Jack.  Really, there was no one in the
least adventuresome or enterprising."

Then she fell to wondering what line Lawrence would take, and whether,
perhaps, to-day, he would rise to a quarrel.  Once more she hoped he
would.

It was, in consequence, more irritating than ever that Lawrence not only
proved quite amenable, but appeared in a wholly new light that separated
them effectually the whole day.  For the first time in any one's
recollection, he assumed, with his most ingratiating charm, the _role_
of host.  He was absolutely indefatigable in attending to the wants of
his guests, most particularly all the elderly ladies and quiet ones.
The rowdy faction, with Paddy at their head, he ignored just as far as
was compatible with his new _role_.  Paddy herself he never once
addressed.  She might, indeed, not have been there.

About five o'clock a slight mistiness frightened most of the older folks
home out of the damp, but the younger ones, headed by Paddy, who was
beginning to get desperate, started off on a climbing expedition.  After
a short time most of them gave in and came back again, but a few went
on, Paddy still leading.  Then these few gave in also, owing to the
increasing dampness, and shouted to Paddy to come back.

"Don't wait--I'll soon catch you up," she called, and then she climbed
on a little higher to see if she could find the wonderful earthwork
entrenchments she and Jack had once thrown up for a miniature sham
fight.

The others leaned against rocks and waited, chatting gayly to pass the
time.  After a little while, as she did not come, they concluded she had
returned to the starting-place by another path, and trooped back without
feeling the least concern.  Lawrence and Doreen were helping people into
their carriages and saying good-by to various guests, when the former
heard some one ask casually:

"Isn't Paddy Adair here?"

He glanced round.

"She went with your party up the mountain," he said.

"Yes, but we missed her, and concluded she had come back here ahead of
us by another route."

"She is probably with the Parsonage party," and he vent at once to find
out.

Meanwhile the mistiness was fast developing into a thick fog, and to
linger on the mountain in such was extremely dangerous, owing to the
deep bogs in many places, so everyone hastened to depart.  Lawrence,
without causing any alarm, managed to find out that nothing had been
seen of Paddy, and hastened to draw Doreen aside.

"I am going to look for Paddy," he said.  "Don't let her absence get to
mother's ears or the aunts'.  She is not likely to be far away, and they
would only worry unnecessarily.  You had better go home and we will
either follow or go to the Parsonage."

He spoke so quietly and calmly that Doreen felt no misgivings whatever,
and most of the others somehow had the idea that Paddy had gone home to
Omeath in the Masterman's carriage with her aunts, so that the picnic
broke up quite naturally, and the young folks started off on their
bicycles in haste to get through the ever-thickening fog, little
dreaming that one of their number was risking his life to find another.

Lawrence thought afterward how foolish he had been to go alone, only he
had not really imagined Paddy to be more than two or three hundred yards
away.  He knew the mountain better than most of them, and how there was
but one passable path from above the spot where they had picnicked, so
he kept carefully along this, picking his way step by step with
difficulty in the enshrouding fog.  After half an hour he stopped to
consider.  He was now certain Paddy had taken a wrong turn and strayed
aside somewhere, but in what direction it was almost impossible to tell.
Should he go back and get help, he wondered.  Either course was full of
danger, but it was not the danger he feared.  So dense was the fog that
in going back he knew there was a possibility of losing his own way, and
then Paddy would be worse off than ever, the probability being that no
one would think of searching for them for hours.  No, he decided
finally, he would go on and look for her rather than risk getting lost
or losing time in returning.  Again and again he stood and shouted, but
the heavy atmosphere drowned his voice, and there was no answering
shout.  Then gradually a great fear grew up in his heart.  What if harm
had come to her?  What if this, one of her beloved mountains, had turned
upon her in pitiless treachery and swallowed her up in one of its
treacherous bogs?  He held his breath with horror at the thought.

Surely, surely, no harm could come to her--it could not be; even stern,
inexorable Nature could surely let no hair of her head be hurt!  Yet all
around was unseen danger, that direst of all foes, and he knew that,
even if she were alive, to struggle through that mountain mist was to
hold one's life by a thread.

Yet he pressed forward, the nameless fear growing ever stronger in his
heart and filling all his being with an anguish of intolerable suspense.
By the help of a walking stick he carried he was enabled to find the
path and keep to it, otherwise he would have been likely to stray aside
into a bog himself.  But the thought of personal danger found no room in
his brain; he would have risked his life a hundred times for Paddy and
thought nothing of it.

He must have been out nearly an hour, going further and further from
home all the time, when, in answer to his call, he fancied he heard a
distant reply.

"Paddy!" he shouted again.  "Paddy!--Paddy!  Are you there?"

He listened with painful intentness, and then with a sudden thrill of
almost ungovernable joy, as he heard a faint voice call "Here!" and
afterward give the cry they had used when searching for each other since
childhood.

"I am coming!" he shouted.  "Don't move!" and he began picking his steps
in the direction from whence the voice came.

After great difficulty and many stumbles, he at last found himself in
close proximity to the call that sounded from time to time to guide him,
and then through the thickness he saw the wood of a little kind of
shelter probably used at some time for tethering goats, and a second
later he had gripped hold of Paddy herself.

And she made no effort to resist him as, carried away by a rush of
feeling, he could not control, he strained her, half-fainting, to his
heart.

Paddy trembled violently from weakness.  Her cotton blouse was wet
through, and she was perished with cold and dread, for she had passed
through a terrible time trying to find her way back to the others before
she came across the little shelter and sank down worn out.  Without
quite knowing it, she clung to Lawrence for a few moments, and under the
sudden reaction broke down into a few gasping sobs.

He soothed her with the utmost tenderness, and then slipped off his coat
and made her put it on, buttoning it up himself.  He next arranged a
kind of seat for her, where she could lean back against the framework of
the hut, and then set to work at once to make a fire, cursing himself
inwardly that he had not had the sense to bring a flask of brandy.

Fortunately he had plenty of matches and some old letters, so that, by
pulling down pieces of the shelter, he was quickly able to light a
comforting fire, and busied himself keeping it going while Paddy had
time to recover herself.

When she did so, however, her first impulse was to shrink away, and
there was a questioning expression in her eyes as she watched him.

He noticed it at once, and sought to give her confidence by carefully
keeping his face turned away from her.

"Are you warmer now?" he asked.  "I'm so vexed I came away without a
flask."

"I am quite warm," she said, and then suddenly discovered he was in his
shirtsleeves, and exclaimed, "Where is your coat?"

"I got so hot climbing," he replied unblushingly, "and then, after
lighting the fire, I could not bear it on."

She looked down at herself.

"No, no, you have given it to me," she cried.  "Oh, how could you--you
will be frozen!" and she began to take it off.

"No, Paddy," and a firm hand closed over hers; "you are not to take it
off."

"But I must," she cried.  "I can't see you catching your death of cold.
Let go, Lawrence."

The hand only held more firmly.

"Listen to me.  I have got twice the hardihood that you have, and there
is not the least fear of my catching cold.  You are in my care until
someone comes to look for us or we are able to find our way back, and I
shall not allow you to take off that coat."

He smiled, and in the firelight his thin face was very winning.

"If you are obstinate, I shall just sit beside you and hold it on."

Paddy buried her face in her hands and became suddenly silent.

Lawrence stood and looked at her bent head in the firelight, and a
yearning expression that made his face more attractive than ever stole
over his features.  He longed to fold her in his arms once more and
cheer and soothe her, but, even if it were possible, he had no longer
the excuse of a sudden uncontrollable rush of feeling.  So, instead, he
folded his arms very tightly, bit his teeth together, and, moving to the
further side of the fire, stood leaning against the wall.  At least
there was no harm in looking at her, as long as his gaze did not
embarrass her.  He would play fair--a great many undesirable things he
might be, but he would never have dreamed of taking any advantage of
such a circumstance as this which threw them alone together in peril on
the mountain.  He would only look when he knew she was unaware of it.
He was glad that she elected to sit thus, with her face buried on her
arms.  At least it made it possible for him to gaze and gaze.  He forgot
that he was getting chilled to the bone from the damp in spite of the
fire.  Why should he remember so slight a thing as that?--why, until it
was necessary, remember anything but that they two were alone together,
shut off from all the world, in the little hut on the mountain.  And,
sweetest thought of all, for the time being she was in his care,
dependent on him for warmth and safety, perhaps for life itself?  So he
stood silently on the far side of the hut, tending the fire when it
needed it, and watching, with his soul in his eyes, how the little
flames shone on her beautiful hair.  He was afraid to think of the
moment when he had first found her and she had half-clung to him.  It
unmanned him.  If he let his mind dwell on it, he might forget that
under no circumstances must he take advantage of their position.  He
wondered if she had heard what he said in those first moments, and if
that was why she so persistently kept her face hidden?  It occurred to
him that he had never really known before how beautiful her hair was.
The damp had only made it wave and curl more luxuriantly, and when a
specially bright flame shot up, it shone like burnished copper.  He felt
a sudden longing to touch it--to run his fingers through it, and let the
little stray tendrils curl round them.  It required all his strength to
stay patiently there on the other side of the hut.

After a time he stepped across to her.

"You must be getting cramped," he said.  "Let me try and make you more
comfortable."

She let him help her to her feet, and afterward try to find a new
position.  While doing so, he paused a moment and seemed to be
hesitating.  Then he bent toward her and said very quietly:

"If you would lean on me, Paddy, I could keep you so warm and
comfortable."

He waited for her to speak.

"I would rather not," she answered, in a low, strained voice, and he
said no more about it.

Presently, however, when she seemed to be settled as comfortably as
circumstances would permit, he asked: "Would you rather I left you, and
tried to get down the mountain to fetch help?"

She caught her breath with a queer little gulp, and he leaned lower to
catch her answer.

"I don't want to bother you, Paddy, and I'm not afraid.  I will go and
try, if you would rather."

Still there was no answer.  Paddy was wrestling between a wish for him
to stay and a feeling that, to be true to herself, she ought to tell him
to go.

Lawrence stood upright and looked down at her a few moments in silence.
At last he spoke again, and there was a suggestion of pain in his voice:

"I won't worry you, Paddy, if you'll let me stay.  I--I would much
rather not leave you here alone."  He leaned down.  "What shall I do,
Paddy?"

"Don't go," she said in a low voice he could only just distinguish, but
his face brightened all over instantly, as he turned away to busy
himself again with the fire, afterward taking up his stand once more on
the far side from her.

CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

THE RESCUE.

Meanwhile the little ladies at the Parsonage looked anxiously out into
the fog, and wondered that Paddy should have gone to Mourne Lodge on
such a night.

"I suppose they will keep her until to-morrow," Miss Jane remarked; "but
I am rather sorry she went.  It is just the weather to take cold."

And at Mourne Lodge Mrs Blake said: "How odd of Lawrence to stay at the
Parsonage so late.  Did you say he went home with Paddy, Doreen?"

Doreen looked worried, but she only replied:

"Yes; he said he should not be late."

Another half-hour passed, and then Mrs Blake asked; "What made him go
home with Paddy at all, Doreen?"

Doreen was now fidgeting nervously, glancing constantly at the clock,
and at last she decided to tell her mother exactly what had passed.
Almost before she had finished, Mrs Blake was out in the hall
peremptorily ordering one of the stable-boys to be sent for at once, and
she waited at the open door until he came.

"Take a bicycle," she cried, in the same decisive manner, "and ride as
hard as you can to Omeath Parsonage.  Go to the back door, and, without
making any noise, find out from the servants if Mr Lawrence has been
there this evening.  If he is there it is all right! but if not, come
back here as quickly as possible, and tell them not to let the Misses
O'Hara know that you came.  Do you understand?"

"Yes, m'm," and in two seconds the boy was gone.

Another anxious half-hour passed, during the whole of which Mrs Blake
paced the drawing-room, quite unable to sit still a moment.  When she
heard a step on the gravel, she hurried instantly to the front door.

"Is he there?" she asked, quite unable to conceal her anxiety.

"No, m'm--he has not been there at all, and they all think Miss Adair is
here.  I told them not to say anything, but cook is so anxious she is
coming here on foot now."

Mrs Blake blanched a death-like hue, but never for an instant lost her
head.

"Rouse George at once," she exclaimed, naming the head coachman, who had
been with them for years, "and tell him not to lose a second in coming
here.  Stay--tell him Mr Lawrence and Miss Adair are lost on the
mountains, and he must get a search party at once; then come to me."

The boy rushed off, and she turned quickly to the housekeeper, now
anxiously waiting near.

"Blankets, Mrs Best," with almost unnatural calmness, "and a flask of
brandy, and candles for the lanterns.  There is nothing else we can
prepare.  I think."

George had gone to bed, which made it only the more incredible how he
got up and got his party together in the short space before he was at
the hall door; but there they stood, four alert men, with poles and
lanterns, perfectly ready to risk their lives at a moment's notice for
the master and Miss Adair.  Mrs Blake explained in a few short
sentences what had occurred and which way they had better take, but it
was only at the very last she faltered.

"Don't come back without them, George," she said, in a low, husky voice,
to the faithful old servant, and, with a like huskiness in his own
throat, he answered:

"I will not, m'm."

Then commenced another terrible watch for the mother and her two
daughters, when each tried in vain to frame words that might help the
others.

There was nothing for it but to endure in silence and continue that
restless pacing to and fro.  At twelve o'clock the housekeeper came in
with hot cocoa and biscuits, but all turned away at once.  Mrs Best was
another old and privileged servant, however, so she would take no
refusal.

"Shure, 'tis no good gettin' fainting," she said, trying to speak
cheerily.  "Indeed, m'm, it's meeself will have to give it ye if ye
won't take it."  And then they tried to drink the cocoa to please her.

"There's Eliza downstairs," she continued.  "About as much use as a
child, rocking to and fro under her apron and moaning about little Miss
Paddy, and what a wonderful baby she was, as if that would do any one
any good.  Relating all the mischief she used to be up to in one breath,
and what a sainted angel she is in the next."

"Poor Eliza," said Mrs Blake, with a smile.  "She is a faithful old
soul.  To think of her walking all this way from Omeath upon such a
night!"

Still the time crept on and no footsteps sounded on the gravel, and away
up the mountain Lawrence tended his little fire and began to look round
anxiously for the fuel which was fast dwindling away.  From time to time
he stepped out into the fog and shouted, but sound could scarcely pierce
the dense air, and he knew he would not be heard any distance away.
Each time when he stepped out Paddy raised her head and watched him,
instead of continuing her gaze at the flickering fire, but the last time
he noticed that she did not stir.

He bent down over her and said her name softly, but there was no answer,
and he saw that, worn out with exhaustion, she had fallen into a
troubled sleep.  For a few moments he was at his wits' end to know what
to do for the best.  The fire could not be kept going much longer, and
meanwhile the damp cold increased hourly.  Should he rouse her and try
to make the descent?  Which course was the least dangerous?--to crouch
in the cold, damp shelter, or try and pierce the black gloom of the
night?  He looked at the sleeping form a moment, and then made up his
mind.  In such a strait, all things must be disregarded except whatever
might diminish the danger.  Whereupon, having come to a decision, he
immediately set about carrying it out to the exclusion of all else.
First he hunted round for every scrap of possible fuel and made up the
fire; then, very tenderly and gently, he gathered Paddy into his arms,
as if she had been a child and soothed her into a deep, dreamless
slumber.

How long they remained thus he did not know.  Paddy never stirred after
the first half-unconscious resistance, but just slept on in the calmest,
childlike sleep, and rather than disturb her he kept the same position,
regardless of the severe cramp that seized him first in one limb and
then another.

The only movement he made was to bend occasionally and touch her hair
with his lips, but, apart from this, the fire went out and they remained
in absolute silence and stillness--Paddy kept warm and comfortable and
soothed into a restful slumber, while he sat upright, without even a
coat, numbed with the damp and cold and a martyr to cramp.

Only what of it?  While she lay in his arms, and every nerve of his body
was strained in serving her, could he ask more?  Lawrence looked out
into the awful gloom, felt the creeping cold through all his bones and
the sharp, shooting pains in his limbs, and was content.  Of a truth he
was not a man to do his loving by halves when it was real.

But human nature is not infallible, and it is doubtful if he could have
endured much longer by the time a vague sound over the mountain fell on
his ear.  He raised his head and listened intently.

Yes--there it was again--a shout!  Good God! some one was coming to
them.  With the utmost gentleness he managed to disengage himself and
then struggle to his feet, but only to collapse ignominiously on to the
ground, overcome by cramp through his whole body.  He made another
effort, and dragged himself up by the wall; then, still clinging to it,
shouted with all his might.

Instantly rang back an answering shout, and within five minutes the
little search party stood in the tumbled-down shelter, almost too
overjoyed for words.

Old George gripped his young master's hand and the tears rained down his
face.

"We were losing heart," he said.  "We were almost giving you up, but I'd
never have gone back to face the mistress without you."

"Have you blankets?"  Lawrence asked, trying not to show what he was
suffering, and still quite unable to stand alone.

George took in the situation at a glance, seeing him in shirtsleeves and
the deadly pallor on his face.

"The young lady won't hurt for a minute or two," he said with sudden
sharpness to the others.  "Come and help me chafe the master's limbs,"
and he almost lifted Lawrence bodily, laying him down on a blanket and
setting to work with a will, after first giving him some brandy.  After
a little while the pain gave and the colour came back to his lips, but
meanwhile Paddy had awakened, and, without making any sound, sat
watching.  She knew instinctively what had happened, and she would not
for worlds have attracted any attention to herself until Lawrence was
better, his drawn face and blue lips going straight to her heart.

After a little, with George's help, Lawrence managed to get to his feet
and stand upright, and then he turned at once to Paddy.

"Give me the flask," he said, and the others waited while he poured out
some brandy and held it to her lips.  Then he seemed quite himself
again, and prepared to start for home, arranging everything, and, as
usual, compelling acquiescence.  Paddy wanted to try and walk, but he
would not hear of it, and finally she had to get into the litter he
contrived for her with blankets and be carried down the steep and
dangerous slope.

At three in the morning the sound of footsteps at last fell on the
straining ears at Mourne Lodge, and Mrs Blake hastened wildly to the
door, her composure fast giving way.

"Lawrence!" she called out into the night.  "Lawrence!"  And only a
mother could have spoken the name so.

"We're all right, mother," came back the answer cheerily; but as he came
up, overcome at last, Mrs Blake fainted into his arms.

CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

"STAY HERE WITH ME."

Paddy lay on the drawing-room sofa at the Parsonage and watched the
birds skimming over the loch with a strained, anxious expression in her
usually laughing eyes.  Her aunts had fetched her from Mourne Lodge that
morning, and there had been a great scene of general weeping and
embracing and exclaiming.  The news had somehow got all round the
neighbourhood in an incredibly short time, and when Miss Mary was
watching casually for Paddy to come home on her bicycle about eleven,
there came instead a boy with the news that she and Lawrence had been
lost in the fog all night and carried home in the morning.

Instantly there was great consternation in the Parsonage, and the small
boy sent flying off for the one conveyance available in Omeath, in
which, immediately afterward, the two sisters set out for Mourne Lodge.
They found Paddy still a little dazed and shaken, but otherwise none the
worse for her adventure.

"Lawrence saved me," she said as soon as they gave her time to speak.
"If it had not been for him, I should probably have died of cold.  He
risked his life for me."

That was quite enough, and away rushed Miss Jane, with Miss Mary
hurrying after her, to look for Lawrence.  They found him in his den,
with newspapers lying round him, apparently reading calmly.  Only could
they have looked in unobserved a moment sooner, they would have seen the
newspapers were all out of reach, and, with compressed lips and knitted
forehead he was staring gloomily at the floor lost in thought.  However,
he heard footsteps, and snatched up a paper just as the door opened, and
neither of them had good enough eyesight to see that the sheet he held
before him was covered with advertisements for housemaids and cooks.

Miss Jane came up to him with an almost sublime expression of gratitude.

"Paddy says you saved her life, Lawrence," she said simply.  "I feel as
if I must go down on my knees to you."

"Pray don't," he answered in his usual manner.  "I won't answer for the
floor being particularly clean.  I simply hate the room being dusted,
you know."

He got up, and with a little laugh tried to change the conversation.
But neither of the ladies had the least intention of being put off in
this manner, and they tried his patience considerably before they had
finished their outpouring of grateful thanks.  Then they retired again,
and Lawrence closed the door after them with a momentary relief, only to
be quickly superseded by his previous gloom.  It was as though he had
aged since yesterday.  Several times last night, and again this morning
when he sat beside her a little while in her bedroom, his mother had
watched him covertly, and wondered what there was in his face that
seemed strange to her.  Now, when left alone again, he threw the papers
aside and, sitting down at his writing table, buried his face in his
hands.

He had been up early in spite of his awful night, had seen George and
the other three men, and sat with his mother, and sent the loveliest
flowers Mourne Lodge could produce to Paddy's bedroom; and now it was
only mid-day, though it seemed half a life-time since he had sat in the
hut holding Paddy, regardless of all things in heaven and earth but his
precious burden.  He went over everything again and again, moment by
moment, unable to bring his mind to anything else.  The night of such
horror to all others was already to him the most precious memory of his
life.

Only what was to come next?  It was this thought that caused that moody,
unheeding stare into vacancy.

"I will not live without her--she shall come to me," he muttered
half-fiercely, and dreamt of all he would say to win her when they met.

Meanwhile the aunties took Paddy back with them, insisting upon watching
over her as if she were an invalid, and finally inveigling her to the
drawing-room sofa to lie quietly with closed blinds.

In this Paddy was not sorry to acquiesce.  She wanted to be alone, and
the shaded light was soothing.  Through a dim sense of confusion--a
confusion that she felt incapable of unravelling as to what had, and
what had not, taken place--there were certain recollections that made
her cheeks burn, and caused her to hide shrinking eyes in the cushions.
How, oh how, was she ever to face him with those recollections lying
between them?  She half knew that in the first moment she had clung to
him, and she had an indistinct remembrance that he had kissed her hair,
and spoken in a low, passionate voice, calling her soft, endearing
names.

Afterward, certainly, they had regained their old footing, but what
about that long sleep?  Under what conditions had she been able to sleep
thus peacefully in the midst of such discomfort?  That was the question
Paddy dare not face, remembering his pallid cheeks and blue lips, while
the old coachman brought the circulation back into his cramped limbs.
She half hoped he would come to-day, while she was lying in the darkened
room.  It would be easier to get through the interview in the dark.  But
he did not come, and she lay restlessly, puzzling out the enigma in
which their adventure had placed her.

What about that hate of hers!  Can one--_may_ one--hate one's preserver!
She half prayed he would let her thank him quietly, and then go away.
For hate or no hate, she perhaps owed him her life, and gratitude was
his due.

But two days passed, and Lawrence did not come, and as she recovered
further from the shock, she rallied herself, and felt more equal to the
interview.  She believed it was consideration for her that kept him
away, and was grateful.  In two days more her holiday would be up and
she must return to London, and once away the adventure could be put
aside.  If only it had not been so hard to go--

On the afternoon of the third day Paddy wandered alone to a little creek
by the loch, and, sitting down on a fallen tree, sank her chin in her
hands and gazed across the water with a whole world of yearning longing
in her eyes at the thought of leaving it all and returning to the
streets, and chimney-pots, and smuts.  So rapt was she that she did not
hear some one approach over the moss and stand silently beside her--some
one who saw the yearning, and read it aright with mingled feelings of
regret and gladness.

"I began to think I'd never find you," he said at last in his quietest
way, and Paddy started violently, and flushed to the roots of her hair,
while she continued gazing across the loch, quite unable to meet his
eyes.

He sat down on the log beside her, and leaned forward with his arms
across his knees, playing idly with a twig he had picked up.

"I went to the Parsonage first," he continued, "and they told me you had
gone out directly after lunch, and they believed you were sailing.  I
went down to the beach and found the boat, and decided you had taken a
walk instead, and came to look for you.  I was lucky to find you in such
an out-of-the-way corner.  Are you quite all right again!"

He was still keeping his eyes from her, playing with the twig, and Paddy
unconsciously clenched her hands hard in her effort to feel collected.

"Yes, thank you!"  She hesitated, still looking hard at the loch.  Then
she gulped down a long breath and took the plunge.  "I am glad you have
come.  I have been wanting to see you."  She noticed suddenly that he
looked white and ill, and his face was a little drawn.  "Have you been
ill?"

"No, I have not been ill, only worried.  I should have come sooner--
only--" he hesitated.

"I wanted to see you to thank you," she interrupted.  "Of course I know
you risked your life to save mine.  I might easily have died up there
with the cold--and you might easily have slipped into a bog looking for
me.  No--" as he tried to stop her, "I must go on.  Don't you see how
it's just strangling me to remember that you risked so much--after--
after--" her voice died away, she could find no words.  She knew all in
a moment that the casual acquaintance of the last three weeks was once
more the lover, and the further complication unnerved her.

"As if that made any difference," a little harshly.  "Haven't I told you
that your scorn and threats cannot in any way change me--and never will.
Good God! do you suppose I care two straws about risking my
twopenny-halfpenny life when it is for you?"

She shrank away visibly, and he changed his manner.

"There, I don't want to worry you--but for Heaven's sake don't thank me.
I can't stand it.  There can be no question of thanks between you and
me."

"But how can I help it?" she cried a little piteously.  "Don't you
understand that I _must_ thank you--that it is the one and only return I
can make?"

He looked into her face a moment and decided to humour her.

"Very well, only let us consider it finished.  If it eases your mind, I
will accept your gratitude; but I must be allowed to add it is
absolutely uncalled-for, seeing I would risk a dozen lives for you
cheerfully any day."

Her eyes fell before his, and she clenched her hands yet harder.  Then
he quite suddenly changed the subject.

"They tell me you are going back to London in two days.  Is that so?"

"Yes."

"How you must hate it?"  He looked round at the gleaming, beautiful loch
and the mountains beyond.  "It must be desperately hard to go back."
She could not trust herself to speak, and he continued in a voice that
had suddenly grown dangerously sympathetic.  "I always think it is
harder for you than the others.  Your mother and Eileen always have each
other, and any one can see how much that means to both.  But you,
somehow--since the dear old General died--seem to have had no one to
take his place."

Great tears gathered in her eyes, and fell on her clasped hands.  Why,
or why, did he unman her!  He was playing with the twig again, and
pretending not to notice.  "Isn't that so?" he asked.

She caught her breath and steadied her voice with an effort.

"I have been very fortunate," she said.  "I might have had to go right
away from everybody as a nursery governess, instead of having so many
friends, and such a nice post, and plenty of liberty."

"But it is still London, isn't it?  And after all, even friends are
hardly to you what the mountains, and the loch, and the country life
were.  Be honest, Paddy," suddenly looking into her face.  "Don't you
just hate to have to go away and leave it all again?--don't you just
hate it like the devil?"

She threw back her head with a sudden jerk, as if from some unendurable
thought.

"Oh, yes--yes," she breathed, "like the devil, there is no other word.
But what of it?  I am going--I must go--I am not the only one who has
had to give up a country home.  Why do you make it harder for me?  Why
do you remind me of it at all?"

He leaned toward her, and she felt his eyes looking through into her
soul.  "I remind you, because I don't want you to go.  Do you think it
doesn't hurt me too--_now_?  I, with all that I have--you with nothing--
not even your own special chum since the General died."

She drew her hand across her eyes hurriedly.

"And it isn't as if you were obliged to go."  He was leaning nearer--
nearer.  "Paddy, dear little woman, don't go.  Give it all up and stay
here with me."

"No, no.  It is impossible.  Please leave off.  Why won't you
understand?" and she wrung her hands together.

"It is _not_ impossible," resolutely, "and it must be.  It has got to
be, Paddy.  It is you who won't understand."  Then he ran on
whimsically, giving her time to collect herself: "Good Lord! it seems
only the other day I was carrying you round on my shoulder, when I came
home from Eton for the holidays.  I remember I thought, you were the
ugliest little creature I had ever set eyes on.  You were so ugly, you
fascinated; I couldn't take my eyes off you.  But even then you had a
way with you.  Every one always did exactly as you wanted.  If they
didn't, you got into no end of a fury, and hit out right and left.  It
was awful sport making you wild, Paddy.  Sometimes, when I've got hold
of you, you've kicked at me as hard as you could with your fat little
legs, but I always enjoyed the fun of it.  I didn't think I'd ever want
to marry you, though," with a whimsical smile; "it would have seemed too
much like inviting a hurricane to one's fireside.  It's quite the very
last thing that would ever have entered my head, until--until--" he
paused.  "I don't know when it began, Paddy, but now I want nothing else
in heaven or earth."

"Please don't go on," she managed to say; "please don't."

"Ah, but I want to; and after all it needn't hurt you.  It's so good to
have you all alone like this and tell you about it.  Ever since the
night on the mountain, I've been talking and smiling in my usual inane
fashion, and all the time there was a seething volcano underneath.  It
hasn't been a pleasant two days; I wouldn't care about having them over
again.  Hour after hour I have longed to start off to the Parsonage;
sometimes I have got as far as the lodge.  But I felt I ought to give
you time to recover thoroughly, and so I forced myself to turn back.
When I awoke this morning I knew I should come to day.  I had reached
the utmost limit of my patience.  Did you expect me?  Did you, perhaps,
hope I should come to-day!"  She had put her hands up to her face, and
now he tried to draw one of them away.  "Why won't you look at me,
Paddy!  Why won't you let me see your face!  Come, be your own bright
self again.  Chuck all this cursed nonsense about being impossible.
Don't you know that my arms are aching for you?  Do you hear,
Paddy!--_aching_ for you--and you sit there so silent and distant.  Are
you thinking of London and that beastly dispensary!  Why, it's all done
with, little woman; your home is going to be here in the future.  Mourne
Lodge is yours, and the horses are yours, and the boats, and the
shooting, and everything.  Ah!  I'll make you so happy--"

She got up swiftly, suddenly, and thrust her hands out before her, as if
warding off something.  Her face was deathly white, and she looked only
at the loch.

"Oh, stop! stop!  Don't you realise it is _impossible_?"  He changed
colour visibly.

"Perhaps I have been too sudden after all," he said.  "Perhaps by and
by--"

"No, _newer_," and she mustered all her powers for the final word.

He gave a queer little laugh.

"`Never' is a long time," with a touch of the old cynical manner.

"I mean it," resolutely.

"You mean you prefer London--and the dispensary--and the loneliness to
Mourne Lodge, and the loch, and the mountains?"

She was silent.

"Is that what you mean, Paddy!"

She tried to evade the question, but he would not let her.  He stood up
close to her, his face a little stern, his lips rigid.  "Look at me,
Paddy," in a tone of command.

She hesitated a second, then once again summoned all her courage, and
looked steadily into his eyes.

"Now, why won't you stay here and be happy, instead of going back?"

"Because I hate you," and though her voice was low it contained no
shadow of faltering.

Lawrence turned away sharply, and stood looking at the loch.  His face
grew, if anything, a little sterner, but showed no symptoms of defeat.
Paddy could only wait, feeling vaguely wretched.

When he spoke his voice had changed somewhat.  "You are candid as ever,
but I am not convinced.  It is because I believe I can turn your hate
into love, I will not give in.  Tell me one thing--is it the old bone of
contention that stands between us!"

Paddy was silent.

"Tell me," he reiterated.

She answered hesitatingly.  "I--I--don't want to be unkind after--"

"Spare me that," with a slight sneer.  "Try and pretend the mountain
incident is a myth."

She looked wretched.

"Well, what were you going to say?  You needn't mind about being unkind.
You forget I am used to it."

"I was going to say--" She hesitated again, searching about for words.
"Oh, don't you realise that I don't trust you?  Why do you put me in the
difficult position of having to say this, just now of all times!  Can't
we leave it at that?  Won't you believe I am grateful for the other
night, and leave it there?"

"No.  By God!  I won't," and there was something almost fierce about
him.  The very fact that she shrank from him, only seemed to madden him,
and it was as though he tried to soothe his own goaded feelings by
goading hers.  "The other night has only made it more impossible to
leave it there.  Why, when I found you, I took you in my arms--you know
I did."  The colour flashed in her cheeks, and he ran on: "Just as if--
feeling as I do--having once had you in my arms, I'm going to tamely let
you go again.  Why, I never took my eyes off you the whole time.  When I
couldn't see your face, I watched your hair.  It was freezingly cold,
and I never knew it.  It might just as well have been overpoweringly
hot.  I had got you--there--all alone--in my care--dependent on me--
icebergs and volcanoes themselves couldn't have crushed me."  He stopped
as if he could hardly trust himself to say any more, and with a
desperate attempt to bring him back to a commonplace level she said,
"Please don't go on.  You've managed to be cold enough the last three
weeks.  Let us go back to that again."

"You silly little goose!"--and he laughed harshly--"cold--to you! ah,
ah!  I was no more cold then than I am now, of course I wasn't.  When we
have been together you haven't said a word that I have not heard, nor
moved an inch without my knowing.  It was a subterfuge to see if you
noticed; and you did.  Ah, ah, Paddy, that's one to me.  You know you
wanted me to quarrel, and I wouldn't.  Now own up."

He tried to take her hand, but she drew away, and stood with them both
clasped behind her.  She began to feel that the whole situation was
getting beyond her.

Then suddenly, with his customary variableness, Lawrence grew quiet
again.

"You say you don't trust me.  Well, I will show you I can be trusted.  I
have never cared enough before.  Is that altogether my fault?  I care
enough now, and I will show you.  Is it that alone that stands between
us?  If you could trust me, you would let yourself go?  Paddy!"--he
moved suddenly nearer, and looked squarely into her eyes--"just as if I
didn't know that under ordinary circumstances I should win you easily
enough.  I'm not bragging.  Heaven knows I've faults enough, but
bragging is not among them.  It's because, somehow, I know that under
ordinary circumstances it would be natural for your love to surrender to
mine, before anyone else you know, that I snap my fingers when you
protest that you hate me, and refuse to be daunted.  If I could slay the
spectre between us, and show you that I was to be trusted, would you
marry me?"

Paddy looked hard at the loch, and said, "No."

"Why not?"

"When I have said a thing, I have said it.  I will not marry you,
because I hate you."

"Now you are merely absurd.  Why do you hate me?"

"Because I cannot forget the past."

He gave an impatient gesture.  "Heroics!  Heroics!--_you_ were never
hurt.  I tell you it is a spectre, and you ought to have the sense to
slay it.  Instead, you enlarge on it--positively drape it in visionary
attributes, and offer yourself as a sort of burnt offering to it.  You
ought to have lived a few hundred years ago.  By Gad!  Paddy, you'd have
made a fine Joan of Arc!" and he laughed with a touch of bitterness.

Paddy stared at the loch and remained silent.

"Patricia the Great at the head of an avenging army--leading on fools
and knights-errant--devastating a peaceful, harmless land for the sake
of a Dream--a Prejudice--a Chimera.  I see it all."

She looked helplessly unhappy, but he would not spare her.

"Listen to me, Patricia the Great.  You shall keep your feud, and cling
to your prejudice a little longer, but _I will not give in_.  I want
you.  That at least is a plain, ungarnished truth.  Perhaps if you knew
me as well as some, you would realise that it is the sort of truth I
have a little habit of making into a fact, in spite of dreams and
prejudices.  This thing has got to be, Paddy.  I repeat what I said
before.  If I am worth my name, I will win you yet."

"Ah, why will you talk like this, when it is so useless," she cried.
"Why will you not be friends?  Lawrence, let us be friends.  Let me
thank you for the other night, and, for the sake of it, drop the old
feud.  I will try to do this to show you I am sincere in my gratitude."

His face grew suddenly whiter than ever with concentrated passion and
determination.  "We will do nothing of the kind.  I don't want your
friendship.  You can take it back.  Do you hear?  I refuse your kindly
pat on the shoulder, and your offer to be a good girl because you think
you owe me thanks.  You can keep your feud and your hatred--anything is
better than a soppy middle course.  It is my turn now, and I refuse your
offer of sisterly affection, which is what it amounts to.  I will have
your love some day, but until then, your hate, please.  As long as you
go on hating I shall know at least that you are not indifferent, and
that the sound of my name does not pass unheeded by your ears.  And we
will continue to cross swords--we will be as we were before.  If you
want to show this gratitude you talk of, show it that way; it is the
only thing I ask of you."

She shrank from him a little bewildered.  The strength of his passion
stirred every fibre of her being, and the thought crossed her--would she
be able to withstand him for long?  But Lawrence cooled suddenly.  He
had said his say; for the present, there was nothing further to be
gained.  In two minutes his face was almost as impassive as of old, as
he remarked cynically:

"Trust an old fool for being a big fool.  I am ranting like a street
preacher.  Well, I will go home and find my level again.  Good-by,
Paddy."  He gripped her hand with such force that she uttered a little
cry.

"There, I didn't mean to hurt you, only to show you how I can grip, if I
make up my mind to anything.  Remember I am your enemy.  Go on hating as
hard as you like, until I make you love.  We shall meet again soon in
London."

Then he strode off through the wood, and left her by the loch alone.

CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT.

GWEN'S VIEWS ON MATRIMONY.

When Paddy got back to London, her mother, and Eileen, and the doctor,
and even Basil thought she was changed in some way, but they did not
know how.  She was quieter than she used to be, or at any rate given to
moods, bursting out now and then into unusual spirits which had yet a
ring of not being perfectly genuine.

Curiously enough, perhaps, Gwendoline Carew was the only one who
actually knew what was affecting her.  She had met Lawrence in the
autumn at a shooting party at a mutual friend's, and quickly recognised
some change in him too.  Of course she had taken the first opportunity
to tax him with it, and absolutely refused to be put off with cynicism
or scoffing or anything else.

"Don't waste time talking to me like this, Lawrie," she had said, "as if
I didn't know you too well by this time.  Just have the grace to bow
your superior old head for once, and own you've reached a fence you
can't clear."

"Wouldn't it be better to make sure first?  I wouldn't for the world
tell you an untruth."

"I'll risk it.  Besides, Lawrie, who knows!  I might be able to help."

"I have rather a weakness for managing my own affairs."

"I know you have, and on the whole they do you credit, but it seems to
me there's something on foot now, that you're just not quite so dead
certain sure about as usual."

Lawrence was silent.

"Once before it was the same," said Gwen.  "Don't you remember when a
certain father died, and you were in doubt?  Well, didn't Gwen manage
you then and help to keep you from running off the track!"

"I am not in doubt now," he answered.

"No, but I strongly suspect that you are in love."

He only looked steadily before him and made no sign.

"If it's Paddy," said candid Gwen, "I'll just move heaven and earth to
help you.  If it isn't you can `gang yer ain gait.'"

She waited, and presently Lawrence said quietly: "It is Paddy."

Whereupon Gwen forgot she was a young personage of importance mentioned
often in the fashionable papers, and danced a little jig all round the
room.

"Lovely!" she cried, "just lovely!  You must get married before me so
that I can be a bridesmaid, Lawrie."

"You are somewhat premature," dryly.  "Paddy has refused to marry me."

Gwen came to a sudden standstill.

"Refused," she repeated, as if she were not quite sure she had heard
aright.

"Yes, plain, ungarnished, unmistakable refusal."

"Little idiot!" said Gwen, "what's she dreaming of!"

"I don't know, but she was at considerable pains to impress upon me that
even medicine bottles and that beastly dispensary were preferable to
Mourne Lodge with me."

Gwen made a curious whistling sound with her lips--again not in the
least what one would expect from a young lady mentioned in fashionable
papers, and sat down beside Lawrence looking quite subdued.

"Well, don't look so blue," she said presently.  "Where there's a will
there's a way.  What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to win."

"That's right.  Never say die.  I expect you've taken her rather too
much by surprise.  I'm quite sure when I last saw Paddy, it had never
entered her head for a moment that you cared a fig about her except to
tease.  Give her time to come round a bit.  It sounds like playing a
salmon, doesn't it?  I'm sure it will be heaps more interesting than if
she'd said `yes' right away, and you'll both care more in the end.
That's what I tell Bob sometimes.  I was much too easily won, and I want
to go back and begin again, I just dropped right off the tree into his
hands like an over-ripe cherry.  Disgusting to think of--isn't it?  I
ought to have let him mope and pine a bit, and pretended I didn't care.
Only I'd have been so horribly afraid he thought I meant it, and gone
off, or something.  I guess that sort of thing is all very fine to talk
about and in story books, but when it comes to pretending you don't like
a man, when you're just dying to have him all for your own--why it isn't
human nature.  Them's my sentiments!"

Lawrence could not help smiling, but it was poor enough comfort for him,
though before they separated Gwen did really cheer him a little by her
determined hopefulness and sanguinity.

With Paddy, however, she did not get on in the matter quite so well as
she had expected.  At the very first allusion Paddy simply drew back
into herself, and refused to be coaxed or cajoled into uttering a single
word.  Gwen tried several times and then had to give in.

"Oh, well, if you won't, you won't," she said.  "I always thought I took
the biscuit for pure, downright obstinacy, but I hand it on to you now."

Lawrence himself did not come to London until the end of October, having
decided it was best not to be in too great a hurry, and he had better
have a turn at the pheasants first.  When he came he stayed with the
Grant-Carews, and it was here he met Paddy through a little subterfuge
of Gwen's.

"My poppa and momma," she wrote to Paddy, "are going to a terrible,
overpowering, grand-turk, political luncheon party, to which flighty
young persons like myself are not admitted, but have to remain at home
alone and bear the weight of the distinction of belonging to some one
who has been admitted.  Do be a dear girl and come and bear the weight
with me.  With your company and a liberal supply of De Brei's chocolates
I anticipate getting through the afternoon all right.  In case of
accidents, however, I may just mention the fact of our loneliness to one
of His Majesty's Horse Guards, but you will have no occasion to be
uneasy anyway--_Comprenez_?"

Paddy accepted the invitation, but as Gwen fluttered across the
drawing-room to receive her, her quick eyes instantly descried in the
far window the back of a well-cut masculine coat, that was somehow
familiar.

"Who is here?" she asked at once.

"Only Lawrence," said Gwen, in the most casual fashion.  "He is staying
with us.  Didn't I tell you?"

Paddy made no reply.  The plot was too apparent, but this very fact put
her on her mettle, and helped her more than anything else would have
done.

"How do you do?" she said to him, trying to seem perfectly at ease.  "I
thought you were shooting pheasants in Suffolk."

"So I was until both they and the shooting grew too tame."

"That's his way of saying his aim was either too sure, or too wide, I
don't know which," put in Gwen.  "Or possibly he got into one of his
bear-like moods and no one could put up with him, so they sent him on to
us.  Have you ever seen Lawrence when he's like a bear with a sore
head?" running on.  "He's just lovely!  I think that's my favourite of
all his hundred-and-one moods.  Most people are afraid of him, which is
silly.  If you don't care a fig, and do a little bear-baiting, you can
get no end of fun out of it.  I wish you would dispose of a few of your
moods to Bob, Lawrie.  I'm dreadfully afraid he'll turn out hopelessly
tame as a husband.  Still he can hardly go on worshipping for a whole
life-time without a break of some kind.  He's bound to turn cranky one
day.  Won't it be interesting to see the first symptoms!  That must be
one of the most entertaining parts about getting married, I think--to
find out what you each get cranky about, and how you do it."

"I'm afraid you'll keep poor old Bob so busy," said Lawrence, "he'll
have no time to indulge in cranks for himself."

"Oh, yes, he will.  I like fair play, and I'll see that, he gets his
chance.  It's only cricket, you know, to let your husband have a good
old round-up occasionally, and pretend you're much impressed, and all
that."

She dashed off into another subject.  "What a delicious hat, Patricia!
Where did you get it?  My! what a swell we are to-day.  Is it all put on
for me, or for Lawrence?--or have you designs on my poor darling
Goliath?  Doesn't she look charming, Lawrie?"

"Don't be silly, Gwen," a little crossly.

"Quite charming," said Lawrence quietly, and opened the door for them to
go down to lunch.

At lunch Gwen plunged into a very sore subject without knowing it.

Paddy was treating Lawrence with polite affability, as if to imply that
for the sake of what had happened on the mountain, she would, as a
special concession, at any rate not be rude.  Lawrence was
lackadaisically entertaining, with his old callous air, when Gwen
suddenly said:

"Why won't your sister ever come here with you, Paddy?  What a funny
girl she is.  She seldom goes to see Kathleen and Doreen either."

Paddy looked vexed and uncomfortable, but Gwen ran heedlessly on: "Do
you know I think she has one of the loveliest faces I've ever seen in my
life.  I'd like to sit and look at her.  Doesn't she like going out?"

Now it was Paddy's most firm and invincible belief, that the reason
Eileen had so persistently declined all Owen's friendly overtures and
invitations, was from nothing in the world but a dread of meeting
Lawrence.  Of course she no longer fretted--it was easy to see that;
but, judging from her own staunch heart, Paddy argued to herself that
though she did not fret, she still remembered, and could not face the
pain of a single meeting that could easily be avoided.  Consequently a
great many delightful gaieties had been sacrificed to the old wound.
And when Paddy called this to mind, her anger with Lawrence's
heartlessness received fresh fuel.

As a matter of fact, it was not Eileen's reason at all.  When Gwen first
showed her unmistakable liking for Paddy, and shortly afterward included
both sisters in an invitation, Eileen had made up her mind resolutely to
stand aside.  She foresaw that were she once to join in their outings,
it must inevitably mean fewer invitations for Paddy, as one can always
be so much more easily asked than two, and as she was not particularly
fond of gaiety, and would as soon remain at home with her mother, she
made her decision in the beginning and stood by it, without, however,
entering into explanations.  Paddy probed her once or twice, and then
drew her own conclusions.

"She has never been to see me once," Gwen ran on.  "I think it is too
bad of her."

She seemed to expect Paddy to say something, so Paddy remarked casually:
"She hates leaving mother alone.  It has always been the same," and then
she shot a sidelong glance at Lawrence.  The fact that he was calmly
going on with his lunch without the very smallest symptoms of
embarrassment, or consciousness, vexed her unreasonably, and she wished
with all her heart he had not come.  Her polite affability from being
genuine took a sarcastic turn that was not lost on Lawrence, but he
deviated in no measure from his unperturbed, lackadaisical serenity.

"He hasn't as much heart as a plaster cast," was Paddy's inward comment,
which, had she stopped to think of it, showed a distinct lack of
discernment in herself, considering what he had endured for her on the
mountain.

Very shortly after lunch they were joined by the redoubtable Guardsman,
who captivated Paddy at once, with the delightful boyishness that
somehow mingled so irresistibly with his splendid proportions, and his
almost pathetic devotion to Gwen--who dubbed him alternately, the Babe,
or the Giant, or Goliath.

"We're all going for a walk in the park now," she informed her assembled
guests, "and then, perhaps, we'll have tea at the `Hyde Park Hotel,' and
Paddy can go back to her precious bottles."

Paddy could only acquiesce, and of course Gwen and her giant were very
quickly steaming ahead, with that expression of blissful satisfaction
which is to be seen in the very backs of some amorous couples.

Paddy once more commenced to converse with affable politeness to her
somewhat incommunicative companion.

At last her small stock of patience gave out.

"It's your turn now," she said a trifle witheringly.  "I've thought of
the last half-dozen remarks."

Lawrence gave a low laugh.  "I hope you don't want me to think they were
any strain," he said.

Of course no self-respecting daughter of an Irish Fusilier could stand
that.  "I wished to be polite," she retorted, "so I tried to suit my
remarks to my company."

"Then I wonder you don't discourse on villains, and ogres, and
blood-thirsty monsters, and that sort of thing."

"I am quite sorry I couldn't," with a little snort.  "Only inane
platitudes seemed adaptable."

Again Lawrence laughed.

"You're a stunner at repartee, Paddy.  I never knew such a fighter in my
life.  First it was fists, then feet, and now it's tongue."

"I am Irish," with naive simplicity.

"So am I, but it doesn't make me want to lay every one out in about
half-an-hour."

"Of course not," scornfully.  "You are the sort of Irishman who goes
about the world getting your countrymen a bad name.  You only shine when
you are doing what you ought not."

"Another injustice to Ireland," with mock pathos--adding: "and when you
shoot barbed arrows, and fiery glances broadcast, with a reckless
indifference to inflicting hurt, you are shining at doing what you
ought--is that it?"

"Oh, don't be an idiot!" with impatience.  "You make an effort at being
polite now, and talk sense."

"But if being polite rests in suiting one's conversation to one's
companion?" significantly.

"Then we won't be polite," laughing in spite of herself.  "You can be
natural and talk drivel, and I'll be warlike."  She glanced round the
park with a sudden expression, half-longing, and half-humorous--"Heaven!
how I wish we could go ratting!" she said.

But before they parted they had one of their old tussles.  Lawrence
suddenly taxed her with looking pale and tired: "Are you ill?" he asked.
"Is it that beastly dispensary?"

"I was never so well in my life before," obstinately.

"I know better.  You see, I've known you every single bit of your life,
so I'm in a position to judge."

"You have not," with flat contradiction.  She felt instinctively he was
getting lover-like, and felt she must repress him at any cost.

"How have I not?  I certainly knew you when you were a month old.  I was
offered the supreme privilege of carrying you round the garden, but you
were so like a black-beetle I funked it."

"There were the three years when you were abroad," with a show of
indifference.

"Ah, to be sure, I didn't know you then."  He smiled a little--that old
whimsical smile.  "Had I done so there would probably have been no
second trip abroad, and no deadly feud, and Mourne Lodge might have had
a second Boadicea rampaging through its stately rooms as mistress."

She quickened her steps.  "I must get my 'bus now, or I shall be late.
It is no use attempting to attract the attention of Gwen and her giant."

"You bring me down to earth with such thuds," with a plaintive air.  "I
dream of stately halls, and modern heroines gracing ancient shrines, and
you annihilate both the vision and the poetry in one merciless blow,
metaphorically flinging a Shepherd's Bush 'bus at my head.  As it is
quite out of the question for me to inflict myself upon the lovers, I
must take you home in a taxi."

"I am going in a 'bus," willfully.  "If you want a cab drive, go to your
club," and she turned her steps resolutely toward the road.

"I see you mean to be unmanageable--but I can wait--my time will come.
If I see you getting pale and ill-looking, it will come sooner than you
think."

"I don't think at all.  I haven't time--at least not to think of you.
My bottles and prescriptions interest me far more."

"Liar," he murmured humorously--looking hard into her face--and her
mobile mouth twitched irresistibly as she crossed the road to her 'bus.

She climbed on the top to get the air, in spite of the moist November
atmosphere, and though she had been spirited to the last with Lawrence,
her heart grew heavy as they trundled down Notting Hill toward the
enveloping greyness of Shepherd's Bush, and she wondered if she had been
wise to go.  It was not the first time that Paddy had had misgivings
about the wisdom of seeing much of Gwen.  She always hated the
commonplace, middle-class streets so afterward, the stuffy little
dispensary, with its rows of foolish, inane-looking jars, and monotonous
medicine bottles; the hopeless mediocrity of her whole surroundings.  At
moments she longed passionately to be with Jack galloping over the grass
plains of the Argentine; and her heart was sore at the fate which had
condemned her of all people to mixing medicines in a dingy suburb.  She
even ruminated a little wistfully, if only Lawrence had not been
Lawrence.  If some other man had lived at Mourne Lodge, and wanted her
to make her home there, what a heaven on earth she might have had!  Or
if even Lawrence had been different--and there had been no dividing
memory.  How strange it seemed that he should combine such charm with
such heartlessness.  She understood better now, how it was Eileen had
become a victim.  It was natural enough, since it had pleased him to
please her.  But she knew more of the other side, had known it all
along, through her greater friendship with his sisters.  Only that
morning, in a letter from home, Doreen had written: "Lawrence has been
shooting pheasants in Suffolk.  Long may he stay there.  Before he went,
and just after you left the Parsonage he was in one of his most bearish
moods.  If he wasn't sullen he was cutting.  He either sulked or sneered
till we were sick of him in the house.  Of course Kathleen quarrelled
with him about the way he spoke to mother, which is so silly of her, as
mother understands him, and doesn't really take any notice; whereas
Kathleen ends in making us all miserable.  However, he had the goodness
to take himself off after the 12th, and it's been peaceful ever since."

Paddy stared into the greyness.  Of course Eileen had been spared; such
a nature must surely have broken her heart--but that was no excuse
whatever--merely a reflection.

CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.

A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE.

The few weeks to Christmas passed uneventfully.  The Blakes came to
London and Lawrence joined them, and they all seemed to slip back into
their old groove for the time being.  Paddy came and went much the same
as before, and Lawrence strove to possess his soul in patience.  Once
more he resorted to subterfuge to find out when she was likely to be
coming, and in general she succeeded in outwitting him.  If she was half
expected he would sit in his smoke-room with the door ajar, and listen
to hear if the stately James opened the door to a familiar voice.  If
she came he would casually join them all at tea.  If she did not he went
to his club.  Once he inveigled her into the sanctum itself.  That was a
red-letter day.  He went downstairs to see her out, and in the hall told
her in a voice of most disarming naturalness, that he had a beautiful
little setter pup in his room--wouldn't she like to see it?

Paddy hesitated, and was lost.

She could never resist dogs.  The little creature was in a basket near
the fireplace, and she took it up in undisguised delight, going eagerly
over its points with him.  Then she put it back and turned to the door.

"Don't hurry," in that same disarming voice.  "There are a good many
things that will interest you here, if you will only look at them."

Paddy murmured something about the dispensary, with one eye on the door,
and the other on a model yacht.  With great diplomacy Lawrence turned
his head away, and said simply, "Oh, well, another time perhaps."

Paddy said: "Is that a model of the _Shamrock_?  What a little beauty it
is!"

They went over the points of the yacht, and she became engrossed in it.
Then she suddenly made an unaccountable movement for the door.  It had
dawned on her that she was parleying with the enemy.  That the enemy was
dangerously alluring.  Feeling a little mad with herself, she made her
exit ungracefully.  A jerky good-by--a feeble explanation of her sudden
haste--and she was gone.

Then Lawrence smiled.  His extremely wide and varied experience with the
opposite sex had made him correspondingly wise.  In that moment he saw
victory in sight.  Far enough away still, perhaps, but yet there.  It
was becoming a duel of wills.  To him it was his strength of will and
personality, against her fanaticism.  He had chosen a strong word, but
fallen short in grasping all it involved.  How many a strong will has
been worsted even by a weak fanatic!  How many a weak will, under the
influence of fanaticism has achieved the deeds of the strong!

He knew that day that in some way she was not wholly indifferent to him.
He believed she was just a little bit afraid, and that, to him, was the
sweetest thought of all.

Paddy hurried home, and wondered why she had been so stupidly weak as to
go and see the puppy.  She was genuinely vexed, and the incident had the
present result of making her absent herself longer than usual, and be
more difficult, when at last she came.

Lawrence went to his store of understanding, and said: "She has
discovered that she is afraid."

Then Christmas approached.  It had been arranged for Mrs Adair, and
Eileen, and Paddy to cross to Omeath for a week, somewhat to the
latter's surprise, for it seemed to her extremely rash for Eileen and
her mother to take such a journey at that time of the year.  However,
her remonstrances were quickly swept aside, and the plans made.  Then
came a letter from Aunt Jane begging Mrs Adair and Eileen to start a
week before Christmas, and if Paddy could not come with them, for her to
follow on Christmas eve.  To Paddy's amazement Mrs Adair immediately
showed signs of consenting.  For one moment it was almost a shock to
her--it seemed so strange that they should go off like that without her,
when they knew she could not possibly go before Christmas eve.  Seeing
her mute surprise, her mother hastened to explain that the aunties had a
very special reason for wishing it, and then Paddy decided there was
something in the air of which she was entirely ignorant.  A year ago she
would have promptly asked innumerable questions, but somehow a secret in
her own life had raised a dim barrier between her and her mother and
sister, and she felt, with a vague sense of loneliness, that, perhaps,
they likewise had a secret they kept from her.  She made no demur about
their hurried departure, but kissed them good-by with a bright face,
though something in her eyes made Eileen remark as the train steamed out
of Euston:

"It's rather too bad, mother, isn't it?"

"She will understand all right on Christmas Day," Mrs Adair answered,
and a beautiful colour stole over Eileen's face.

Beyond doubt, as Paddy had conjectured, there was something in the wind.
There were two others, however, who were much pleased by the
arrangement, namely, Gwendoline and Lawrence.

"It's just capital, isn't it?"  Gwen exclaimed.  "Now you'll have to
take Paddy over on Christmas eve."

Lawrence said little, but Gwen saw a light come into his eyes that he
could not altogether hide.  Paddy at first was vexed, and showed it.

"Don't be an idiot," quoth Gwen.  "Why, it stands to reason it's
pleasanter to have an escort for a long, cold, dark journey like that,
and Lawrence is splendid to travel with.  He just looks after you all
the time and doesn't bother to talk.  I shall come and fetch you in the
brougham in the afternoon and go to Euston, and see you both off
myself."

She did so, and Paddy's good aunt was immensely impressed by the
magnificence of the livery and horses of the equipage, that drew up in
the dingy Shepherd's Bush street that December afternoon, outside the
doctor's highly coloured front door.  Gwen herself she only saw dimly
through the drawing-room curtains, inside the brougham, but even that
glimpse so impressed her that for several days the church guilds and
things had a rest, in favour of this vision from the far-off fashionable
world.

Paddy took it all very coolly.  She did not even wear her best hat,
which greatly scandalised her aunt, but as Paddy explained, it was too
heavy on her forehead to travel in and the other would do quite as well.

When they reached Euston, Lawrence was waiting, having artfully reached
the station first in order to procure not only their tickets, but, by a
substantial tip, the first-class compartment for themselves.

"What! here already!" cried Gwen.  "Ye gods and fishes, is the world
coming to an end!  Mark it down on your cuff, Lawrence, that you once
caught a train with five minutes to spare, instead of leisurely
strolling up after it was already on the move, and having to scramble
into the guard's van."

Lawrence took no notice.

"Do you prefer the dining-car or dinner baskets?" he asked Paddy.

"I don't need either, thanks.  I never feel hungry on a journey."

"Have the baskets, Lawrie," said Gwen.  "Then you are not tied to any
time, and you don't have the bother of going to the restaurant car."

Paddy turned away.  "I must get my ticket," said she.

Gwen looked highly amused.  Indeed the whole performance was tickling
her so, she could hardly refrain from bursting out laughing at the two
of them.

"I took the liberty of getting your ticket when I got my own," said
Lawrence.  "I thought it would save you the trouble."

Paddy murmured a word of thanks, and opened her purse.

"How much do I owe you!" she asked.

Lawrence caught the gleam in Gwen's eyes, and could not help an
answering gleam.

"I'm not quite sure," he said.  "May we leave it for the present?"

A little demon possessed Gwen.  "Don't forget the tips for the porters
when you're settling-up," she said.

Paddy looked rather black, and Lawrence had to turn away to buy some
papers.

"You are a wretch, Gwen," said Paddy.  "You know perfectly well you
wouldn't let anyone pay for you."

"Oh! wouldn't I!" with emphasis.  "I'd just think how jolly lucky I was
to be all that much to the good."

Lawrence came back with his arm full of illustrated magazines.

"Nothing like plenty of literature to keep one from getting dull," said
Gwen wickedly.  "But my! won't it complicate the settling-up!"

A guard came along and told Lawrence they would be starting in two
minutes, and so obsequious and marked was his deference that Gwen was
again taken with an unaccountable spasm of amusement.

"You scoundrel, Lawrence," she murmured, in an aside, "that cost you
nothing short of a sovereign."

Lawrence pretended not to hear, but led the way to their compartment and
placed the magazines on the seat.  Paddy was thoughtful a moment, and
again a little black.

"I don't want to travel first," she said.  "I can't afford it.  Let us
meet at Holyhead and cross on the steamer together."

"It's a pity to waste the ticket," said Lawrence, "and the thirds are so
crowded.  Besides there is no time now."

"No, they're just off," put in Gwen quickly.  "Good-by, Paddy.  Sorry I
can't be in for that settling-up.  I'm so afraid Lawrence will cheat
you.  Have a good time.  See you on Thursday," and a few seconds later
the train was steaming out of the station.

Gwen's last remark with reference to Thursday was an allusion to a visit
she and her adoring Goliath were paying to the Blakes in a few days.
They were to have gone over with Lawrence, but at the last her parents
refused to part with her for Christmas Day, and they were not starting
till the twenty-seventh.

"It will be lovely to have Gwen in Ireland," Paddy said, as they settled
themselves, "but she ought to have paid her first visit in the summer."

Lawrence gave a little laugh.

"I don't suppose the seasons make much difference to people in her and
Bob's happy state of mind.  It's just likely she will hardly know
whether it is December or July,"--then he proceeded to shake out his
big, warm rug and tuck it all round Paddy.

She tried to remonstrate, but she might as well have talked to the rug.

"I won't worry you the whole way if you're good, Paddy," he said, with a
smile, in which there was a touch of wistfulness; "but you'll just have
to let me take care of you; it would be any man's right who had known
you as long as I have."

She coloured and lowered her eyes, but made no further demur.  When he
was satisfied he had done everything possible, and again sat down, she
opened one of the papers, and buried her face in it, pretending to be
carefully studying the illustrations.  But in reality something of a
tumult was stirring in her heart.  It was so good to be taken care of--
poor Paddy.  The way her mother and Eileen had gone on ahead had hurt
her more than any one knew, and Lawrence's careful attentions only made
her feel the contrast.  If it had only been Jack--or indeed anyone but
Lawrence.

He had opened a paper also and now sat quietly reading opposite to her,
not attempting to worry her with conversation.  Once or twice Paddy
ventured to glance covertly into his thin, keen face after discovering
she could do so without his knowledge.

She was wondering a little why, occasionally of late, she had
experienced a wholly new and unaccountable sensation, something like
dread.  How could she be afraid?... she the fearless!  Was it the subtle
suggestion of strength?  Hardly so, for Ted Masterman was no less
strong, and she had never had any anxious qualms with him, nor remotest
suggestion of loss of self-confidence.  Was it the thin, cynical lips!
Was it the something indescribable that suggested unscrupulousness?  In
repose it was not a reassuring face.  The mouth was a little cruel, the
jaw had an obstinate set, and there were fine lines of irritability
round the keen eyes.  Only when he smiled was there real charm, and even
then it depended on the measure of his wish to please; though, because
his smile was rare, it was invariably attractive.

Paddy watched him covertly, feeling interested.  She realised that he
had the look of a man who could not be thwarted with impunity.  A man
strong enough to be patient up to a certain point, and then capable of
being unscrupulous rather than give in.  She wished vaguely that he had
been different, and at that moment, before she had time to lower her
gaze, Lawrence looked up suddenly from his paper straight into her eyes.

There was no time for subterfuge, and a sudden flood of colour in her
cheeks told its own tale.

Lawrence smiled his sudden, fascinating smile, and resting his arms
across his knees, leaned toward her.

"What were you thinking about, Patricia!"

"Nothing," said Paddy, and shut her mouth with a little snap.

"Come!" coaxingly, "you may as well tell me."

But she would not be inveigled, and picked up her papers again, saying
that she had forgotten.  Lawrence, however, was not so easily put off.

"Do you know you have such a funny mouth, Paddy," he said.  "It doesn't
shut properly, and when you want to be very firm you have to use great
pressure.  It almost looks as if it had a spring that didn't work quite
properly, and sometimes, although you are very determined to be severe,
it persists in getting unmanageable and twitching.  It's quite the most
fascinating, irresistible mouth I ever saw in my life."

"Don't be silly," trying not to see how altogether engaging his manner
had become.  "In about two seconds I shall put up my umbrella."

"Don't do that," he laughed.  "It would be too unkind.  I don't mind
your firing bombs at me in your conversation, but I should mind very
much if you hid yourself."

"That is the reason that would have more weight with me than any other
for doing so," promptly.

Lawrence sat back and laughed outright.

"Clean bowled!" he said.  "'Pon my word, Paddy, there's no getting in
edgeways with you."

"Give up trying," dryly.  "Read a book and improve your mind instead."

"Does it need it so badly?"

"Never too old to learn," without looking up.

"You needn't say it as if I were your grandfather.  I'm only
thirty-five, and what are you?  Let me see, Doreen is twenty-five, and
you are eighteen months younger, therefore you must be either
twenty-three or twenty-four.  Time you were growing wiser, Paddy, and
suiting yourself to your world, and its exigencies."

"I suppose you mean _your_ world!"

"Mine and yours.  It's got to come some day, Patricia.  Why not now?"

She shut her lips more tightly, and pretended to be buried in her paper.

"You can't possibly know what you are reading about.  Put the paper down
and talk for a little.  You will only damage your eyesight."

Still no answer.

He ventured further.  "Do you remember the last time we were alone in a
small space between four walls at this hour!"

She put the paper down suddenly, and looked straight into his eyes.
"You are not playing fair," she said.

He sat up quickly, and drew his hand across his face, and then said
quite simply: "You are right.  I apologise."

Paddy was instantly mollified, and he saw it, and took the opportunity
to get up and rearrange her rug.

"It is all right," she urged, but he only smiled, and persisted in
tucking her up more cozily.  Once again Paddy had that fleeting sense of
the satisfaction of masculine protection, and looked a little wistfully
down at her book.

"If I promise to play fair, will you talk?" he asked.  "It is so tiring
to read."

She could not but agree with him, and they spent the rest of the journey
talking about Lawrence's travels, and the wonders of far-off lands.
When he would take the trouble he was a delightful conversationalist,
and Paddy gave an exclamation of astonishment when she found they were
nearing Holyhead.

Lawrence smiled inwardly, but was far too clever to mar his momentary
triumph by seeming to notice it, and they remained good friends until
the train steamed into Omeath station.

Paddy, of course, was hanging out of the window, watching for each
familiar landmark, but when the train drew up, she uttered an
exclamation of such boundless amazement, incredulity, and delight
mingled, that Lawrence was quite startled.

Coming running down the platform was Jack O'Hara.

CHAPTER FORTY.

A BUDGET OF NEWS.

Paddy was out on the platform in half a twinkling, and with a little cry
of "Jack!" darted to meet him with hands outstretched.  Jack caught hold
of both, and shook them until she was quite exhausted, and cried for
mercy.  Lawrence stood looking on, and his brow grew black as thunder.
If Jack had only known it, in that one minute he had practically all the
revenge he need wish, for any fancied contempt in the past.

"Can I give you a lift?"  Lawrence said, when they would listen.  "My
motor is here.  How do, O'Hara!  You look as if South America suited
you."

"It did A1," answered Jack, not even noticing Lawrence's ill-concealed
anger--as indeed he had small occasion to.  "What shall we do, Paddy,
walk or drive?"

"Oh, ride on the back of the train, of course!" she cried, "and home
through the garden, just like we did as children.  Oh, Jack, I've had to
be so grown-up for two years.  I absolutely refuse to be grown-up this
Christmas holiday--we will--we _must_ be children."

"Anything you like," he cried, with the utmost readiness.  "Come along,"
as the train moved.  "Send up Miss Paddy's portmanteau.  Good-by,
Lawrence!" and they sprang on to the step of the guard's van and rode
the short distance of railway to the Parsonage garden, leaving Lawrence
to go home in the most unenviable frame of mind imaginable, which he
later vented upon the household generally in his cold and cutting
fashion, regardless of the fact that he was damping every one's
Christmas.

But what cared Jack and Paddy?--least of all Paddy--for whom a joy
seemed to have dropped straight from, the skies.  What a noise there
was, to be sure! and how Jack and Paddy _would_ talk at once, and make
it impossible for any single sentence to be coherent.

At last, in desperation, Paddy picked up the little table-bell and rang
it lustily.  "If I can't be heard, you shan't, Jack," she said, and, the
moment he opened his mouth, started ringing it again.  Jack immediately
flew round the table to get the bell, and behold! if the two little
ladies weren't collecting the breakables again, and casting agonising
glances at the cups and saucers and plates on the breakfast-table--just
for all the world as if two long years of separation had not rolled by
since the last scrimmage, and these two mad things were not a day older.
If Paddy had not been in such a state of eager excitement, she must
certainly have noticed sooner than she did an air of portent that still
prevailed, as of some momentous event not yet revealed.

As it was, they all went to the little church as usual, Jack and the
aunties sitting one side, and the Adairs on the other side, for the sake
of old times; and came home again, and had their Christmas dinner,
before Paddy got an inkling that further news was in the air.  Up to
then the whole conversation nearly had run upon Jack's adventures in the
Argentine, and she had plied him with such an endless string of
questions that there had really not been much opportunity for any other
subject.

After dinner, however, they collected round a big log fire for a cozy
afternoon, and a few minutes later a letter and parcel arrived by hand
for Paddy.  Both were from Doreen Blake, the parcel containing a
handsome Christmas present, and the letter a piece of news that made her
give a little exclamation of pleased surprise.

"Only fancy!" she cried.  "Doreen Blake is engaged.  What fun!  How I
wonder what he is like!"

The others looked up with interest.

"Evidently he has come over for Christmas, and it is only just settled,"
Paddy ran on.  "I am pleased.  Dear old Dorrie.  He is a barrister, and
they met last September, in Scotland.  Really, engagements seem to be in
the air.  First Gwen Carew, then Doreen--and now I wonder who will be
the third."

A kind of subdued murmur made her look up quickly, and something about
Jack and Eileen caught her attention for the first time.  In spite of
herself, it sent a little chill to her heart.  She folded her letter and
sat down on the floor, leaning against Aunt Jane's lap.

"Now," she remarked, "I'm ready to be told why Jack has come home in
this unexpected manner.  You don't any of you seem to have been very
communicative so far."

"I like that!" exclaimed Jack, "when you haven't given anybody a chance
to get a word in edgeways all day--but there! you always did monopolise
the whole conversation."

"You've come back more uppish than ever, Jack," she retorted.  "Anybody
would think you had come in; for a fortune at least."

This seemed to tickle them all quite unnecessarily, and Jack burst into
a hearty laugh.

"You all seem rather easily amused," said Paddy, "or else I am getting
very dense.  What is the joke?"

"Only that you fired a shot at random and made a bull's-eye," laughed
Jack.

Paddy looked more puzzled than ever, but suddenly she leaned forward and
exclaimed:

"You don't mean that you have come in for a fortune, Jack?"

"Not exactly," he answered, "only a trifle of 20,000 pounds."

"_You've_ got 20,000 pounds?" incredulously.

"Yes.  An obliging relative of my mother's, I had scarcely heard of,
died a little while ago and left no other heirs but me."

For a moment Paddy was too astonished to speak, and they all watched her
with eager happiness in their eyes.  Undoubtedly there was more to come.
At last she looked up with a twinkle.

"My! if you'd only had it a bit sooner, Jack," she said, "we might have
bought up all the chocolate in Mrs White's shop, and all the
bull's-eyes, and all the licorice.  Goodness! what a feast we would have
had."

"We'll do lots better than that," he cried.  "We'll have new boats, and
new rifles, and new fishing-rods."

"I'm thinking that isn't quite what brought Jack home after all,"
remarked Miss Jane.

"Ask Eileen," said Jack, in a way that made Eileen blush.

"What, more secrets!" cried Paddy.  "It seems to me you'd better just
start at the beginning, and tell me everything that has been going on
behind my back in this barefaced fashion."

"Yes, only unfortunately we don't quite know where the beginning is, do
we, Eileen?"

"It's too bad, Paddy, to tease you so," put in Eileen quickly.  "The
real truth is that last summer, when you didn't happen to be at home to
see, letters from the Argentine began to come much oftener, and were not
handed round for public perusal as usual.  And then--You go on Jack,"
smiling at him.

"And then," said Jack readily enough, "some one wanted desperately to go
along with the letters, and for some time could not find a way.  At
last, some one wrote and asked if he might come if he could find ways
and means, and all unbeknown to every one but themselves, letter-writer
and recipient arranged a little plan, if they could only manage to bring
it off.  While still in doubt as to ways and means, distant relative
most obligingly dies, and then it is hey presto! and catch the next
boat."

Paddy crossed the fireside circle in a flash, and flung herself upon
Eileen.

"Oh, Eily, Eily," she cried, "you are engaged?--are you really engaged
to Jack?"

"Yes, Paddy," and her voice and eyes spoke all she could not say.

"Oh, I'm so glad, I'm so glad, I feel as if I must just hug you both!
and the aunties too, and every one.  What a lovely Christmas present, a
new brother."

"But that isn't really all," cried Jack.  "We're going to live at The
Ghan House.  Only think of it! and you and your mother are to have the
west wing all to yourselves, and live there with us just as long as ever
you will."

After that every one joined in, and the rest of the afternoon was spent
in discussing numerous projects, interesting to all alike.  Paddy joined
in likewise with seeming eagerness, but deep down in her heart, minute
by minute, a certain dragging weight made itself more and more apparent.
She would not for worlds have said so yet, for fear she might damp
their happiness, but she knew quite well she would not go and live at
The Ghan House with Jack and Eileen.  An indefinable something, she
hardly knew what, made her shrink instinctively and very certainly from
such an arrangement.  No, she would prefer to go back to her dispensing,
and be independent, even if it was London, and she had to go alone.

There were tears on Paddy's eyelashes that night when she fell asleep.
It seemed to her as if a sudden, most unlooked-for weight of loneliness
were crushing her, and her whole soul longed and longed for the father
sleeping quietly in the churchyard close beside her.  She did not for
one moment grudge Jack and Eileen their happiness--only just at first,
just until she had got used to the new order and readjusted her own
feelings a little--it was not easy to rejoice without one single qualm
of painful remembrance.

The following day a lively call from Doreen and her _fiance_ on
horseback cheered her considerably and helped her still better to hide
everything from the rest; and the day after there was a little teasing
and good-humoured raillery about a parcel from South Africa which had
been forwarded from England.  It contained a beautiful white
ostrich-feather boa, and there was a delightful letter with it, begging
her to accept it as a Christmas token, all of which told its own tale of
constancy and steady persistence on the part of the lonely Englishman
exiled there, and still dreaming of her when he had time to dream at
all.  Jack made most of such an opportunity and gave her little peace,
and Paddy took it in excellent part, because she was glad of anything
that would help to blind them to a certain circumstance nearer home.

In the evening they had one of their wild "scrimmage" parties, for the
sake of old times, and to every one's astonishment, Lawrence arrived
with the Mourne Lodge party.  He had, of course, heard the news, and
professed to have accepted his invitation for the express purpose of
congratulating the happy pair.  This certainly was open to doubt, though
the genuineness of his congratulations was equally certainly not so.

Paddy fought shy of him from the first moment, and as she was naturally
the ringleader of the scrimmage party, whereas he played Bridge in the
study, it was perfectly easy to avoid an encounter.  Only, as it
happened, for that evening at least, Fortune was on Lawrence's side.
The scrimmage party were playing a game in which one of their number had
to go out of the room, and it chanced to be Paddy's turn just when
Lawrence, being "dummy," strolled into the hall for a smoke.

Before she knew of his presence, he had walked up to her and said:
"Paddy, do you know you are sitting under the mistletoe?"

Paddy gave a start, blushed in a way that made her inwardly furious, and
moved to the other end of the oak chest upon which she had been seated.

"You needn't be so haughty," he laughed.  "You know perfectly well I've
kissed you lots of times, only unfortunately it was when I didn't want
to.  I remember once the master scolding me because I made such a point
of kissing Eileen, and ignoring you.  I argued that you were such an
ugly little brute, and invented the fable that you hated kissing."

"It was no fable."

"Wasn't it?" humorously.  "Nature never gave a mouth like that to a
woman who hated kissing.  Some day I'll remind you of that, Paddy."

"I loathed you," she remarked, refusing to be drawn.  "You were the most
objectionable, bad-tempered, conceited little beast that ever wore a
silly little top hat and Eton suit."

He laughed with a relish.

"That's better!" approvingly.  "It's impossible not to think there is
something the matter with you, when you are not dealing out bombs of
some sort.  Why were you looking so woebegone when I came from the
study, out here all alone in the hall?"

"I was not looking woebegone."

"Oh, yes, you were--just as if I shouldn't know."  There was a pause,
then he said with unexpected gentleness: "You were thinking about Eileen
and O'Hara getting engaged, and you being left out in the cold."  He put
his hand on hers suddenly: "Mavourneen," he said in a voice of
enthralling softness, "you were lonesome."

For one moment she left her hand in his, and then sprang to her feet
with a bound: "An objectionable, bad-tempered, conceited little beast,
that's what you were," and she slipped past him back to the
drawing-room.

Lawrence remained a few seconds longer, and in his face was a strange
mingling of yearning and satisfaction.  That one moment had been passing
sweet, the very most he had had to encourage him all through--yet how it
made him hunger for more!  And she had looked sad when he found her, he
had seen it distinctly--the little droop about the lips--the little air
of unwonted thoughtfulness.

Ah! she must come now--there must be no more delay--surely with Eileen's
engagement a recognised fact he could make headway at last.  Surely this
was the moment to strike hard.  He would take his opportunity.

There were again tears on Paddy's lashes that night, and she tossed
restlessly.  She shut her eyes, and shut her ears, and tried to shut her
mind--but nothing would wholly drown those few words, coming as they did
in her first hours of loneliness--nor the ravishing sweetness of the
tones: "Mavourneen, you were lonesome."

It was like a spell upon her.  Some unreal enchantment that possessed
her spirit.  Of course it must be broken.  Things could not go as they
were.  Once for all she must _make_ him see the uselessness of his
quest, and it must be soon.  That Eileen was healed and comforted did
not make the smallest difference.  The past was still the past.  The
handwriting still glowed on the wall.  Over his coveted happiness--over
any happiness for them together--was writ large the sentence of old:
"Tekel--Found Wanting."

In this mood, and feeling very resolute, Paddy started out two days
later, to deliver judgment.

CHAPTER FORTY ONE.

IN LAWRENCE'S DEN.

It was to a small luncheon party, given especially for the three pairs
of lovers at Mourne Lodge, that Eileen and Paddy and Jack set out that
bright, crisp morning.  Gwen and her giant, Doreen and her barrister,
Eileen and her stalwart rancher--these were the three amorous couples
whom Lawrence, Kathleen and Paddy had to severally and together keep
within the bounds of rational dinner-table conversation for a whole
hour.  After that they were prepared to wash their hands of them and let
them hide away and discuss delightful nothings to their own delectation
until tea-time.  Doreen and the pump-handle court representative
announced their intention of playing billiards, which no one thought it
worth while to contradict, however sceptical he felt, and anyhow they
bent their steps in the direction of the billiard-room.  Eileen and Jack
decided upon a quick walk, and the giant, of course, merely waited
orders.  At first they seemed to hang fire.  Gwen was manoeuvring in a
way that certainly meant something, but it was very difficult to tell
exactly what.  As a matter of fact, she was waiting on the off chance of
Kathleen being called away.  Directly the hoped-for call came she was
prompt to act.

"Come along, Paddy," she said, putting her arm through hers; "let's go
and rummage round in Lawrence's den.  I think it's just the loveliest
spot in the whole house!  Did you ever see such a rag-tag and bobtail of
odds and ends before?  I just love poking round there."  And she led the
way at once, Lawrence and the giant following.

For several minutes she really did poke round, and then she discovered
she had lost her handkerchief, and promptly dispatched the giant in
search.  As he was naturally as close to her as he could be she had no
difficulty in adding in a tone that he only could hear, "Don't come
back."  After three minutes she looked up in the most natural way
imaginable and remarked, "Whatever can Goliath be doing?  My
handkerchief must be in the dining-room.  Perhaps he can't see so far as
the floor."

Paddy had seated herself in a large easy-chair, and, scenting nothing of
the plot, was idly watching the fire.  She had, in consequence, no time
to realise what was on foot until it was too late.

"I shall have to go and help him search," said Gwen with a pretence at
annoyance.  "He is a terrible muff at finding any thing."

Whereupon she calmly departed and closed the door behind her, leaving
Paddy sitting in the big arm-chair, and Lawrence leaning against the
mantelpiece, looking down at her with an odd little twinkle in his eyes.

In the dining-room Gwen found Kathleen, but she was quite prepared for
the emergency.

"Where has everybody gone?"  Kathleen asked wonderingly.

"All gone out, I think," Gwen replied unblushingly, and then went off
with her Giant to the drawing-room, knowing perfectly well Lawrence's
sisters never went into his den, and that therefore her strategy was
quite successful.

Meanwhile, when Paddy saw that Gwen had closed the door after her, she
leaned forward with a doubtful expression and appeared about to follow.

"Don't run away," said Lawrence, "or I shall think you are afraid of
me."

"I am not afraid of anyone," stoutly, still looking toward the door.

"No, I know you are not.  Still, the others most certainly don't want
us; we should only be in the way."

It was too true.  Paddy leaned back and stared into the fire, and that
little droop hovered round her lips again.  Kathleen was sure to be with
her mother, and the others all dispersed.

"Not even anyone to go ratting with," he said, with a tender little
smile.

The lips twitched and then settled again to the droop, while she tried
to reinforce herself for the struggle that loomed ahead.  No use to run
away now.  The time had come for a final understanding, and it must be
faced.

Lawrence watched her a little while in silence, and there was absolute
stillness in the room except for the cheery crackling of the fresh log
he had just thrown on the fire.

"You look, somehow, as if you were prepared for the worst," he told her,
smiling.  "Am I such a terrible ogre?"

She did not speak, and he pulled up a chair beside her and sat down,
holding his thin white hands out to the blaze.

"Do you remember the last time you were in my den?" running on.  "It was
the night of the girls' `coming-out' dance--the ultimatum, so to speak,
when you declared war.  I remember it perfectly--I always shall.  You
were all in white, Paddy--a fluffy kind of dress that suited you,
admirably.  I remember being surprised to see how pretty you _could_
look.  But, of course, it was your hair--you had always treated it so
abominably before.  I sometimes think it is the loveliest hair I have
ever seen in my life--and I've seen a good deal," with a humorous little
shrug.  "And then, of course, your eyes are good, and there's the
fascinating mouth."

Paddy could not resist a smile.  "When you've done going over my
points?"

"Your points are A1, Patricia," with admiration in his eyes.  "You are a
thoroughbred to your finger-tips."

"Well, don't be personal, or I shall go.  You know I don't like it."

"No, don't go.  I'll try to be good."

He was silent a moment, and slowly that same air of the previous
evening, suggestive of sadness, crept over her face again, and there was
a weariness in her attitude as she sat back watching the flames and
clasping each arm of the chair with delicate, tapering fingers.

"Paddy," he said simply, "chuck all those foolish doubts and fancies of
yours, and give in.  I can't bear to see you looking forlorn."

"I will not: I will never give in."

He squared his shoulders unconsciously, and her fingers gripped the arms
of her chair more tightly.

"You can't help yourself in the end.  Why prolong my suspense?
Everything is against you.  Even Fate is pairing off the others and
leaving you and me alone.  I know quite well you are lonely--desperately
lonely--but it is your own fault.  If you would only be sensible and let
yourself follow the dictates of your heart, instead of a warped
conscience, you could be happy with the rest.  I say your heart, because
somewhere, hidden away, there's a soft corner for me you are afraid of.
Isn't that so, Paddy!" and he looked searchingly into her face.

She made no reply, staring into the fire with a perplexed, unhappy
expression.

He put one hand over the fingers nearest him and held them fast.  She
attempted to draw them away, but he retained his hold, and for the
moment she went with the flood.

"You have not answered me, mavourneen."

"I have only one answer--I will not give in."

"And I say you will.  This new loneliness has come to help me.  Already
you are nearer to me than ever before."

She drew a long breath.

"It is only because I see we must come to a real understanding once for
all.  We can't just go on as we have.  That's chiefly why I remained
here now.  I want to make you understand."

She sat up and drew her hand away.  "Lawrence, you must leave me in
peace.  A man cannot honestly want to marry a girl who--who--" Ah! why
did she falter?

"Well, little woman!  Who--who--!"

"Doesn't love him," a trifle lamely.

"Ah, Paddy! you were going to say `hate,' and the lie died on your
lips."

She flushed in the firelight, but continued bravely:

"It makes very little difference.  The fact remains that I do not love
you and I will not marry you."

"Marry me first, and I will soon teach you to love."

She felt her breath coming fitfully and her pulses leaping strangely,
and she bit her teeth together to steady herself as she still stared
into the fire.  Oh! why did he give her that unnerved feeling!  What in
the world was the matter with her!  She felt as if she only waited to
hide her face in the cushion.  He seemed to understand, for he turned
his eyes away, and, leaning forward, softly kissed her hand.  "It would
be difficult, little woman--you were made for love, and I--well, I
somehow seem to just worship you, and that's all about it."

Once more she tried to rally herself, pressing her hands to her eyes as
if to shut out everything that distracted her from her one purpose.

"It is no use," resolutely.  "Of course, I understand you have a certain
power when you like, and that you are so confident because sooner or
later you have always won.  But that is just what fortifies me now.  I
don't want to go into the old arguments.  I want you to understand once
for all that I _am_ fortified, and I _do_ mean what I say, and not all
the loneliness in the world will change me.  It is no use talking as you
do, and hoping as you do, because there are barriers which neither of us
could move, even if we were both agreed.  Be sensible and be kind.  It
would be kind to leave me alone in future, and sensible to be content
that you have, to a certain extent, broken down my hate."

"Content!--_content_!" and there was a low, vibrating passion in his
voice that stirred her to her depths.  "Content to give in when I have
come within sight of my goal!  Content to lose my wife for a whim--a
prejudice--a quixotic idea of righting a wrong that, has long since been
wiped out in the most satisfactory way in the world!  Do you hear,
Paddy?--_my wife_?--no, by God, because I choose to think of you like
that now, I will not be content and I will not give in."

His violence frightened her, and she shivered a little.  He saw it, and,
with one of his swift changes, became suddenly penitent.

"There--I didn't mean to frighten you.  You look quite bewildered, and
so pale.  I am a brute.  Poor little woman.  Don't take any notice--
don't remember anything except that I won't give in, because I know you
are not as indifferent to me as you pretend, and also because you are
lonely and forlorn."  His voice grew entrancingly gentle, "Patricia the
Brave, Patricia the Independent, left out in the cold, and no one to
realise that she feels it except the Mourne Lodge Bear.  Mavourneen--
mavourneen--bears have understanding when they love as I love you."

Big tears gathered in her eyes and splashed down unheeded on her hands.
He leaned nearer, and a tremor passed through her.  When he spoke in
that enthralling, wholly gentle cadence, it was as though her thoughts
and faculties became numb.  It was as though solid ground were slipping
away beneath her feet--branches breaking to which she was clinging for
safety.  She could only clutch with a spasmodic grasp at the grim
spectre of her old resolve.  She hid her face in her hands, staggered at
the growing feebleness of her own resistance.

"Paddy--dear little girl--my arms are still aching--_come_."

She sprang up, white and trembling.

"Oh, Lawrence, please stop--I am not quite myself to-day.  Let us go and
look for the others."

He hesitated a moment, then said:

"They don't want us, and you look too tired to walk.  I expect you've
been lying awake instead of going to sleep the last two or three nights,
worrying about future plans.  Perhaps it isn't quite fair to press you
any more now.  Anyhow, I've had more to-day than ever before, and I feel
I can afford to wait.  If I don't say any more about the future, dear,
will you just sit quietly there and rest until tea-time?  See, I'll give
you two more days to get thoroughly readjusted to the new order of
events, then I shall come to the Parsonage and claim you.  Will you
agree to stay here quietly, Paddy, if I promise not to worry you?"

She murmured an assent.

"That's a sensible little woman.  I'll clean my gun--do you see?  I like
doing it myself occasionally, and I've often thought how I'd love to do
those sorts of things in here with you--I fiddling round with my hobbies
and you sitting there--no need to say anything, but just to see your
skirts, and your little feet, and your hair, and feel in every breath of
me, not only that you are there, but that you _belong_ there."  He moved
away.  "I suppose we're all family men at heart, directly we pass the
frivolous stage and have wearied of banal excitements.  I never meant to
be anything but a bachelor, but now I want a home and a fireside that is
the real thing the same as all the rest of them.  I want
you--_belonging_ there.

"But I'm trespassing already.  If I don't mind you'll fly yet--you're
such a wild little bird.  Don't take any notice; you can go to sleep if
you like.  There's just half an hour before tea-time.  No one will know
you are here; they are all too taken up with each other to think of
anything else."

Paddy closed her eyes gratefully, wondering why she felt so deathly
tired.

CHAPTER FORTY TWO.

"WHAT WOULD AN IRISH FUSILIER DO?"

They thought her a little strange at home that evening, but after a time
Jack and Eileen vanished, and making a tremendous effort, she contrived
to chatter to the aunties about her dispensing in a fairly brisk
fashion.  She did not, however, altogether blind them, and she was glad
enough when the need ceased, and she could go to bed.

Eileen was sleeping with her mother, and Jack at the inn, so that she
had his little room all to herself, and as soon as she was alone she
flung herself down on the bed and burst into tears, overstrained nature
finding no other mode of relief.

When she had had her cry out, she lay quite still and tried to think--
tried to understand how it was that the question she had meant to settle
once for all in the afternoon was more unsettled than ever.  Why was it
more unsettled?  There could not possibly be any temptation of giving
in.  Giving in meant only one solution.  It meant that she, Patricia
Adair, would marry Lawrence Blake.

Oh! it was impossible--impossible!--the man she had over and over again
asserted that she hated, and declared she would kill.

Then why was there any difficulty?  Why this growing sense of a problem
she could not solve?

Supposing Patricia Adair did marry Lawrence Blake.  What of it?

But she tore the thought out of her mind.  She would not suppose it.

It came back in another form--a series of mental pictures cruelly
contrasting Shepherd's Bush and the dispensary with Mourne Lodge.  For
Paddy knew well enough that under no circumstances would she accept a
home from Jack and her sister--under no circumstances give up her work
and her independence, to be dependent on any one's bounty.  No, she
would go back to her work alone, and they would live at The Ghan House
without her.

But how it hurt to think of it!

The dingy suburb, the grey street, her aunt's everlasting platitudes,
for of course she would live again at the doctor's house--just grey,
lifeless monotony, instead of the lake and the mountains.

And how he had understood!

"_Mavourneen, mavourneen, bears have understanding when they love as I
love you_."

She tried to crush out the recollection, conscious that her soul was
sounding indefinable warnings as a far-off accompaniment.  Oh, of
course, he was fascinating--had she not always known it--known all her
life that there were two Lawrence Blakes, and one as alluring as the
other was repellant.  Resolutely, she turned her thoughts to the
unpleasing one; she who had somehow had special opportunities of clear
sight.  She remembered the old rumours of excess and extravagance.  Had
not her own father shaken his head gravely long ago, and said things he
imagined she would not understand.  Perhaps she did not then--but now!
Unprincipled, unscrupulous, fast, wild, a gambler.  "Wild oats," she
told herself--"Wild oats."  It was not that that built the barrier--this
barrier that was as a grim spectre, waving ghostly arms between them.
Could anything, even mercifully, write "wild oats" over his
heartlessness?  When she thought of those locked hands in the boat on
the loch, her blood still boiled--of how very nearly Eileen's delicate
constitution had broken down altogether under her silent fretting--of
how her mother had grieved and fretted likewise.  She thought of his
moods at home.  How often--oh, how often--she had longed to strike him
for the tone in which he sometimes spoke to his mother and sisters.  For
his selfishness, his coldness, his sneers.  How often she had gone home
pitying the girls such a brother, hating him with all her young
enthusiasm.  And then, further complicating everything, flashed again
the recollection, even in those days, of his charm, if he happened to be
in the right mood.  Why, even Doreen and Kathleen were influenced by it;
every one was.  If Lawrence were in his charming mood, the whole house
was sunny and gay, and Paddy had quickly enough forgotten old feuds, and
immensely enjoyed a good-natured, wordy battle with him.  When she hated
him most, he had still had a lurking attraction for her, or she would
not have bothered to cross swords.  Only a lurking attraction is not
love.  The old spectre still stood firm, waving ghostly arms between
them.  And even if it were love, the feud still stood.  Eileen might
have forgiven and found other happiness.  She might have trampled down
all bitterness, but did that make the wrong less wrong--did it affect
her, Paddy's, view of the case?  A personal wrong may be forgiven by the
sufferer without in any way affecting an outside judgment.  There is
still the wrong in the abstract.  True, vengeance is unchristian--but it
was not vengeance she wanted any longer; could she--dare she--fly in the
face of her own passionate sense of Loyalty?  It seemed to Paddy that if
she yielded to the wave that seemed like to sweep her off her feet, she
not only let go her watchword of Loyalty, but she compromised with her
half-formed, dimly seen ideal of Love.  Always before her mind, if she
thought of love in the future, had been the image of such men as the
grand old General--the gentle, kindly doctor--the simple, manly,
open-hearted Jack.  Among such as these, how could she give such as
Lawrence the place of honour?  It was incredible that she should think
of it.  To do so, she must surely be disloyal to the past and disloyal
to herself.  But how resist him?  Who could help her?  She got up at
last and went to the window.  In the light of the stars, glimmering
faintly across the garden, were the headstones--"where the dead people
wait till God calls."

Feeling suffocated by the four walls of the little room, she hastily
threw a shawl round her head, slipped into a big coat, and crept
noiselessly out of the house, down the little path, and through the
wicket-gate into the churchyard, where a beautiful Maltese cross marked
the spot where the brave old soldier was taking his well-earned rest.

"Daddy," she whispered, "daddy, try and help me now.  There isn't any
one else who would understand."

She leaned her face against the cold granite.  It was comforting to be
there.  "What shall I do, daddy?  I know you understand all about it,
and how it is so difficult.  Daddy--darling old daddy--what would an
Irish Fusilier do?"

She clung against the cross yearningly, and in the night air, with the
calm stars looking down, the waves whispering on the beach, and her
beloved mountains all around, she grew calmer and stronger.  It pleased
her to whisper her thoughts to the night, as if the unseen spirit of her
beloved dead listened near.

"Ought I to run away, daddy?  I remember how often you have said only a
selfish, vain-glorious officer will risk his men against desperate odds,
rather than retreat.  `Retreat, if wiser, and take up a better
position--never mind the dispatches home--save your men and win the
glory as well; it is sometimes nobler to retreat than to go on.'  Is
that what I must do, daddy?  I feel there are desperate odds against me.
Would it be braver to retreat?  Is that what an Irish Fusilier would
do?  You, at least, will understand that I was not a coward."

She pressed her lips against the granite for love of the grand and
simple soul it stood to commemorate.

"Daddy," she whispered, and there was a tiny, wistful smile on the
fascinating mouth.  "I'm not an Irish Fusilier, but, perhaps, I'm
the-next-best-thing."

Then she went quietly back to bed, with her mind made up.

But the next morning, it was only by a great physical and mental effort
that she was able to appear at all like herself at the breakfast-table,
and when the meal was finished she was glad to slip away unobserved.

Eileen's suspicions, however, had been previously roused in the night by
a light step in the passage, and, afterward, a dim figure crossing the
garden.  She was tactful enough to say nothing of this, but at the same
time determined to try and find out if anything was wrong, and how she
could help.  In this Paddy had cause to be grateful, because her plans
could scarcely he carried out without Eileen's help.

When her sister sought her upstairs, and asked in a quiet, firm way,
"What is the matter, Paddy?  Something has happened to you," she only
hesitated a second, and then replied with as much calmness as she could
muster:

"Yes, Eily, I'm in rather a difficulty.  I was going to ask you and Jack
to help me."

"Paddy, we will do anything--anything," Eileen cried earnestly.

"I know you will, but it isn't much I want--only that I am going back to
London to-night, and I want you to help me manage it without any more
questions and explanations than can possibly be helped."

At first, Eileen was dumbfounded and greatly distressed, but Paddy was
evidently desperately in earnest and meant to go.

"Don't ask me anything, Eily, if you really want to help," she said
wearily.  "Just break it to mother and the aunties a little while before
I start and help to arrange some excuse for me to any others who ask
questions."

In the end it was all managed so, and Jack prepared to go to Greenore
with her and see her safely on the boat for Holyhead, from whence she
would go straight back to her uncle's.

At the last moment Aunt Jane stole softly into her bedroom--Aunt Jane,
whose heart had always leaned to Paddy, just as Aunt Mary's had leaned
to Eileen.

"My child," she said very tenderly, "I can see that you are in some
great trouble, and I shall not know how to keep from fretting about you,
because you have always been as my own child to me, and I would rather
suffer myself than see you suffer.  Only we may not choose who shall be
glad and who sad, and no doubt if we could, things would only be worse
in the end.  But you won't forget your `old maid' auntie by the loch,
darling, whose heart will ache silently, thinking of you day and night."

The tears gushed from Paddy's eyes, and for a moment she seemed about to
break down altogether, but in a few minutes she had managed to pull
herself together again.

"Are you sure you must go away alone like this?"  Aunt Jane asked
yearningly.

"Yes, auntie, quite sure.  I love you so much for coming to me now, but
you mustn't make me break down.  Please help me to keep up, auntie, just
until I get away."

And Miss Jane did--having her own cry out later by herself--while the
steamer started into the black, wintry night, and Jack stood watching it
from Greenore pier, with a mist before his eyes and a queer huskiness in
his throat.  Just when life was opening for him with all its sweetest
and best, it seemed hard, indeed, that Paddy--his old chum and
playmate--should be assailed with this trouble of which she would not
speak, and in which apparently none of them could help her.  Jack cared
just as much as his present happiness made it possible for him to care
about anything.  Long ago, though he only remembered it with a smile,
the sole problem of his life had been which of the sisters he loved the
best.  Fate had tipped the balance to the elder's side, without in any
measure depreciating the other; but Jack never knew, and never would
know, what a difference that final choice had made to Paddy.

CHAPTER FORTY THREE.

A MAN'S PAIN.

Lawrence received his first intimation of what had happened through
Gwen; as Paddy had foreseen.

He had been sitting most of the morning in his den, with the London
newspapers, the lovers having all taken themselves off, with an air that
forbade any one to follow on their peril, but he had not done much
reading.  Small wonder, indeed!  Why read of stocks and shares, of wars
and rumours of Wars, of the vagaries of Cabinet Ministers, and the
sweet, childlike levity of Irish members--when the happiness for which
your whole life seems to have been waiting is coming to you to-day?

No, Lawrence did not read, he sat instead, gazing into the fire, making
delightful plans for the future, in which Paddy was all in all.  The
chair she had sat in was pulled up to the hearth, but he had not used it
since; he felt it was her chair now, and his fancy loved to see her
sitting there still, with her two little hands clasping the two arms,
and her head leaning back with that slight air of weariness which
somehow made her only the more enchanting.

He was strangely happy that one morning, there had never been anything
in all his life before in the least like it.  In the afternoon he meant
to go and look for her by the loch; he believed she would be waiting for
him--and if not, well he would go to the Parsonage and claim her.

He went over the interview in his fancy, detail by detail, as it might
be, as he would like it to be.

Paddy would be shy, that was a delicious thought to him.  He had known
too many of the women who meet a man half-way without the slightest
qualm, and practically thrust his first kiss upon him, thinking of it
only as one of many to follow.  How different it would be with Paddy!
He even wondered, with a little inward smile, whether she would let him
kiss her at all this first interview, or at any rate before they were
just parting.  He did not mean to press her or hurry her in any way.
Once having her promise, he could afford to wait.

Still it was deliriously sweet to think of, and he sat forward with his
arms across his knees picturing the sacred moment.  He thought how he
would coax her, and how she would yield gradually, and then he would
fold her in his arms and hold her tight against his heart while their
lips met.

He was roused by a step coming along the passage to his door, a hurried
step, that had a suggestion of being agitated in some way.  Then the
door opened, and Gwen put her head in to see if he was there.  Finding
he was, she came in and shut the door quietly behind her, and something
in the quiet of her usually radiant face was ominous.

"What has happened between you and Paddy, Lawrence?" she asked, coming
close up to him.  "I thought everything was all right; that it was
practically settled."  He clenched his hands suddenly.

"It is.  Why?"

Gwen looked at him, and a wave of painful feeling passed over her face.

"She has run away," she said; "she went back to London alone last
night."

Instantly, as in a flash, he understood.  He did not speak, he did not
utter a sound, but sat there in a silence that became terrible, his
hands clenched and his mouth rigid.  Gwen gave a little shiver.

At last to break the awful tension she continued:

"We called to see her this morning--Bob and I, and they told us she had
crossed last night.  They told us some sort of a tale about her uncle
wanting her, but of course I didn't believe it.  I just pretended to,
and then came back here feeling as if I'd had a shock."

Still he did not speak nor move, only staring with that fixed gaze into
vacancy.  If there was any difference at all, he was grinding his teeth
together, to hold in check some inner tumult, rising momentarily higher.

Gwen grew a little frightened.  She had never seen him like this, never
seen any man, in the first deadly throes of an anguish that was as life
and death to him.

"What are you going to do, Lawrie?" she said.  "Perhaps, she has not
really run away from you."

Still no word or sign.

She put her hand on his shoulder to rouse him.

"What are you going to do, Lawrie?" she asked again.

"Go to the devil!" in a low, bitter voice of unmistakable meaning, and
without raising his eyes.

She slipped down on her knees beside him and clasped her hands round his
arm.

"Don't, Lawrie--don't," she prayed, all her long affection for him
crystallising, and grasping just all that his bitter words might mean.
"I can't bear you to take it like this.  Oh! it is terrible, and just
when I am so happy.  I will go to Paddy, she will listen to me--I will
make her see things differently.  Lawrie, don't look like that--she
shall be yours, I promise you she shall.  You shall have your
happiness."

But he only shook her off roughly.

"Leave me alone.  You! you have got your happiness, what do you know
about mine?"

It was the first time in her life that he had spoken roughly to her, and
Gwen shrank back almost as if she had been struck.

"You can't--you can't--mean to speak to me like that, Lawrie--"

"I think you had better go away," was all he said.  "I might do you an
injury."

For a moment she was transfixed, then she rose to her feet, and turned
slowly to the door.  Here she paused a moment.

"I will tell them you are not well, and do not want any lunch," she
said.  "Later on I will come back."

After lunch Mrs Blake rose quickly from the table, and went toward the
door.  Gwen was immediately in a fever of anxiety.  What should she do?
In desperation she put a detaining hand upon the mother's arm:

"You--you--are not going to Lawrence?" she stammered.

"My dear," answered Mrs Blake, "didn't you say he was not well?"

"I know--I know--but--indeed, it would be better to leave him alone for
a little."  Mrs Blake regarded her with surprise.  "I don't understand
you," she said a little haughtily.  "I only wish to see if I can do
anything for him."

"He said he did not want to be disturbed," murmured poor Gwen
distractedly.

"My dear, I am his mother," and Mrs Blake passed out of the room.

Gwen stood a moment watching her cross the hall with a fascinated gaze,
and then suddenly darted across to the drawing-room, and burying her
face in a sofa-cushion burst into tears, to the unutterable
consternation of her faithful giant, who followed immediately, and had
much ado to soothe her.  They were startled presently by the sound of a
door being violently slammed, as only a man could slam it, and then
halting footsteps approached the hall.  Gwen went to the door, but drew
back horror-struck.  Mrs Blake was going toward the stairs, and her
face was the colour of a corpse.  She looked as if she were dazed and
petrified.  Then Kathleen, who had been waiting nervously in the
dining-room, crossed quickly to her with open arms, and a little cry of,
"Mother!  Mother! what is it?--are you ill?"

Her mother looked at her as if she could hardly understand, and then
dropped senseless.  A second later Bob Russell carried her upstairs, and
laid her on her bed.  Gwen stayed with Kathleen until she had come
round, and then slipped away to the drawing-room again, feeling utterly
unstrung.  Doreen and her _fiance_ were fortunately out to lunch.

"It was Lawrence," she said, in reply to Bob's anxious questions; "he
must have been terrible, and to her, his own mother!  Oh, it is awful,
Bob," and the tears streamed down her face again.  Bob sprang to his
feet.

"Shall I go and throttle him!--the worm!  A man who can behave like that
to his mother, isn't fit to live.  I'll go and tell him so--I'll--
I'll--"

"Oh, no, no, no," cried Gwen, "you don't understand.  It is dreadful of
him, but he is mad about something.  I knew it, and I tried to stop
her."

The giant went on muttering imprecations, however, and Owen had hard
work to hold him when presently that distant door slammed again.  She
crossed to the window quickly, and was just in time to see Lawrence
stride down the drive, with that terrible fixed look still on his face.

No one sat down to dinner that night, except Kathleen, and Gwen, and Bob
Russell.  Mrs Blake was too ill, and Lawrence did not come back.
Doreen and her barrister were still away.

Kathleen was in a state of pent-up fury, which now and then burst its
bounds in passionate indictment against her brother.  "Why can't he stay
away," she said, "if he can't behave like a gentleman?  I'm sure we
don't want him here, he is always a wet blanket, and upsets mother about
something or other every day.  It has been the same ever since he went
to college.  He doesn't care for anything in heaven or earth except
himself; I'm sick of it.  If he doesn't go away and stay away, I'll just
take mother to live somewhere else altogether."

Gwen was much too fond of Lawrence and much too staunch to her friends
not to speak a word for him in spite of her own inward anger.

"There is a reason for it, Kit," she said.  "Don't judge him to-day.
He'll be all right again presently."

"Until the next time," with an angry sneer, very like her brother's.  "I
tell you it isn't good enough, Owen.  He's not going to behave like this
to mother again, I'll get between them if he kills me for it.  What has
he ever been to her but a curse?--drinking, and gambling, and idling
about the world.  Oh, I dare say he's charming enough to you always! we
all know there isn't a man could be more fascinating when he likes, but
how much does that go for beside scenes like this?"

Gwen set her teeth.

"You are not fair," she said.  "Lawrence has behaved like a brute
to-day, and I dare say it isn't the first time, but he has neither
gambled nor drunk for years, and there have been times when he was
goodness itself to his mother."

"And few and far enough between too," sneered Kathleen.  "I'm only
thankful that he hasn't got engaged to any friend of mine; for if I
cared for her very much, I'd sooner see her in her grave than married to
Lawrence."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Gwen sharply, and then stopped short, suddenly
remembering she was a guest, and the dinner finished in a constrained
silence.

"Bob and I will go on to Dublin to-morrow," she told Kathleen later,
"and don't bother about us this evening.  We will look after each other,
and you stay with Mrs Blake."

When Doreen and her _fiance_ returned, she made up some sort of a tale
to them, and then persuaded every one to go to bed early, that Lawrence,
if he returned, might come in and go to his room unnoticed.

She did not go to bed herself, however, but sat up with her door open,
waiting for him.  At two o'clock in the morning she heard his latchkey
in the front door, and went down bravely to meet him.

When Lawrence saw her he glared at her angrily, but she took no notice,
though inwardly shocked at the unspeakable change on his face since the
morning.  He was deathly white, with an almost tigerish expression, and
she knew he had been drinking.

"I couldn't rest until I knew you had come in," she said, trying to
speak naturally.

"What did you suppose I should do?" with a bitter sneer.  "Go and drown
myself, or cross to England with a pistol!  No, thank you!  I'm not that
sort.  I shall not oblige any _Police News_ with a paragraph."

"What are you going to do, Lawrie?" unheeding him.  "Bob and I are going
on to Dublin to-morrow--you come too--"

He strode into the dining-room without answering--and she followed him.
On the sideboard stood the spirit decanters as usual, and she saw his
eye instantly turn to them, and a second later he had his hand upon the
whisky.

Quickly she was at his side:

"Don't have any more, Lawrie," pleadingly.  "You have had quite enough,"
and she placed her hand over his.  For one moment he glared at her
again, then let go, and sinking into a chair by the table, buried his
face in his hands.

"Have you been playing billiards?" she asked, resting her hand on his
shoulder.

"Yes."

"For high sums, I suppose?"

"Yes."

"I hope there isn't misery in some other house in Newry to-night,
through you."

"On the contrary, some of them must feel quite rich."

"Then you lost?"

"Yes."

"I'm very glad."

"Thank you," dryly.

Gwen stood looking at him, noting vaguely the lines that had deepened in
his face, and wondering what to do.

"Lawrie."

"Yes."

"Your mother is ill.  She fainted, and Bob carried her upstairs."

He winced, but his face did not soften.

"You must have behaved like a blackguard to her," and there was a tremor
of intense feeling in Gwen's voice.

"It's quite likely.  But I warned her--why did she come in?  I told her
not to, and she has known me long enough."

"I wonder what Paddy would think of it?"

He ground his teeth.

"What does it matter?--what does anything matter?  I used not to care,
and I will be the same again.  I have been a fool to let myself get set
upon anything--" He got up, and pushed his chair aside roughly.  "I am
going away to-morrow!  I don't know where, except that I shall go to
London first--afterward, to the devil, as I said before."

He turned to the door, and she could not but follow.

"You needn't worry any more to-night.  I won't touch the whisky again,
and I won't shoot myself," and without waiting for her, he strode off up
the stairs.

CHAPTER FORTY FOUR.

"I CANNOT COME."

For a whole week Lawrence knocked about London, and it was just as well
for their peace of mind that none of those who cared for him saw him.

One Sunday afternoon he suddenly called a taxi and drove off to
Shepherd's Bush.

On asking for Miss Adair he was ushered in and led to the dingy,
old-fashioned drawing-room.  It was some time before a step approached,
and then the doctor, with a keen look in his kindly eyes, entered alone.

Lawrence was watching the door with a fixed intentness that scarcely
gave when the unexpected comer entered.

"My niece has a very bad headache," the doctor said simply, as he shook
hands.  "She does not feel equal to seeing any one to-day.  I am sorry
you should have had this long drive for nothing."

"Is she ill?"  Lawrence asked bluntly.

"Oh, no, only ailing a little.  The weather has been very trying the
last week."

The doctor studied the visitor carefully.  Paddy's hurried return had
caused him much food for anxious thought, coupled with her evident low
spirits and loss of appetite.  He shot a bow at a venture.

"I think you come from Omeath?" he said.

Lawrence assented, but seemed lost in thought.

"Wouldn't she see me just for a few minutes?" he asked.  "I don't want
to worry her, but I have come from Omeath, and she might like to hear
about them all at home."

The doctor went away, but came back again alone.

"She is not well enough to-day," he repeated.  "She thanks you for
calling and is sorry she cannot see you."

And Lawrence was obliged to call a cab again and drive away.  As he went
down the steps he met a slim youth who regarded him somewhat fixedly,
but Lawrence never even saw him.  He would have been a little amused,
perhaps, had he known that the same youth shook his fist threateningly
after him from behind the safe shelter of the doctor's front door.

"If you're the cuss who's worrying Paddy's life out of her," he mentally
apostrophised Lawrence's back, "I'd uncommonly like to have you in the
dissecting-room," which blood-curdling threat Basil was fortunately
quite unable to carry out.

Lawrence went back to his club and wrote a letter to Paddy.

It was a beautiful letter.  Nature had, of a truth, been erratic with
this one of her children, for it seemed impossible that the writer of
this letter and the man who could speak to his mother in a way that made
her really ill for days could be one and the same.

It distressed Paddy beyond words.  In spite of everything she might say,
his suffering tore her heart.  Yet her will held firm, and she would not
tell him to come.  She wrote him a little letter, however, in which he
perceived that she no longer pretended to be repulsed by him, and that
absence might be serving him better than a meeting just then.  He held
the letter long in his hand, and was conscious of a sudden swift regret.
"If there were more girls like her," was his thought, "how much better
it would be for us men and for all the world.  If I had only loved her
sooner, or some one like her, I should have been a different man
to-day."

Ah, that eternal "if--if."  And meanwhile all things march on the same.
The girls will not see, so the men do not heed, and there is folly and
wrong and weakness where there might be strength and rich content.
Where there is a great man there was a great woman before; and so it
would seem Nature is always trying to point out to us that, though the
Men have the strength, the Women have the power, and where they are
strong and true all things are possible--for the fireside, the
household, the sphere of influence at hand, the greatness of the nation
itself.  Be smart, be comely, be gay--why not?--only ring true also, and
the men who admire you for your comeliness, will worship you for your
goodness.

Lawrence kept his letter and read it often, but he did not go away.  He
liked feeling that he was there in the same city, breathing the same
air, although she remained inexorable about seeing him.  Often, in fits
of despair, he thought he would go away, but always in the end he
decided to remain.

He bought a racing motor, and seemed to find some relief in flying madly
over the county at a terrible pace.  Three times he was had up for
furious driving, and the third time his fine was the heaviest ever
exacted for a like cause, and he received a strong reprimand as well and
a threat that a fourth offence would be even more strenuously dealt
with.

He left the court laughing, and his friends began to wonder anxiously
where his recklessness would end.

Gwen returned to town about the time of the third offence, and
remonstrated forcibly with him, but made no visible effect.

"Have you seen Paddy again?" she asked him.

"She will not see me."

Gwen knit her forehead in perplexity.

"I have written, and she has not answered," she said.  "I don't know
what to make of her.  I must go and see her."

"Not yet," he said, and she looked up in surprise.  His face, however,
expressed nothing.

"I wrote to her, and she answered it," he continued, "and I do not want
her to be worried about me for the present.  Stay away for a little
while, Gwen.  I think she would rather you did."

So Gwen possessed her soul in patience for three weeks, to please
Lawrence, and then went upon an unexpected errand.

Paddy was roaming about restlessly that dreary winter afternoon at the
beginning of February when Gwen came.  She had been out in the morning,
and she kept trying to make up her mind to go out again for something to
do, but instead she continued to roam about with that odd feeling of
unrest, quite unable to settle down to anything.

Eileen and her mother had come back to London again now, but only until
the spring quarter, when, the lease of their house was up, and they
hoped to have done with London for good.

The wedding was to take place in April, there was nothing to wait for,
and several hearts eager enough to see it happily become a fact.

The Ghan House was being renovated throughout, and Eileen was busy with
her trousseau--no time to spare between January and April.

Paddy helped a great deal.  She did not like plain sewing--indeed, she
very much disliked it, always contriving to prick herself badly and
leave little danger signals, so to speak, where she had stitched.  She
might have been said to be preparing Eileen's trousseau with her heart's
blood, only not with the meaning this phrase, beloved of serial writers,
is generally intended to convey.

She had her own views as to quantities, which, however, as they did not
at all fit in with her mother's and Eileen's, she wisely kept to
herself.  No use warring against the majority, and little matter either
way.  If the others thought dozens of everything necessary Paddy
supposed it was all right, but, for her part, she wondered how so many
clothes could possibly ever get worn, and where Eileen was going to keep
them all when she was not wearing them.

"We might be making clothes for Jack as well," she remarked once,
surveying the growing piles; and when they told her laughingly Jack was
getting his own dozens and half-dozens, she fairly gasped.

Nothing much had been said about that speedy flight of hers at
Christmas.  Both Eileen and the mother had attempted to win her
confidence, but Paddy would not speak.  Eileen had finally guessed.

"It is Lawrence, Paddy, isn't it?" she asked.

Paddy, driven in a corner, consented, but would not go on.

Eileen had then fidgeted a little, and, blushing painfully, stammered:

"You would not let anything in reference to me two years ago influence
you, I hope, Paddy."

Paddy made no reply.

"Because, as it happened, you see, it was such a good thing.  I could
never have been as happy with any one else as I am with Jack.  Tell me,
Paddy?" looking hard into her sister's eyes.

Paddy shook her head.

"I can't tell you anything, Eily," she answered.  "Please don't ask me."
And Eileen had to give in.

Jack tried when he came for a flying visit about wall-papers and paint
and things, and it was then for the first time that they learnt of
Paddy's unlooked-for decision.

"What colour is your room to be, Paddy?" he asked.  "I am waiting your
orders."

"You are very good," a little uncomfortably, "but I'm not coming to live
at The Ghan House."

"Not coming to live at The Ghan House!" as if he could not believe his
own ears, while Eileen and her mother looked up in amazement.

Paddy had to brace herself with the utmost determination.

"I have thought it all over carefully," she said, "and I have decided to
stay in London.  I have developed a very independent spirit of late,
somehow," with a little smile, "and I mean to stick to my post."

"But, my dear child--" began Mrs Adair in great distress, while Jack
threw a newspaper at her head and said:

"Don't talk rubbish, Paddy."

Eileen looked dumbfounded.

"It is not rubbish," Paddy went on bravely, "and nothing you can say
will alter me.  I have spoken to uncle about it, and he is going to let
me live with them and pay something."  She paused a moment, drawing a
pattern on the tablecloth.  "He does not want me to pay," she went on,
"he says he will be only too glad to have me, but I would like to feel
perfectly independent.  He is lonely sometimes, and he always wanted a
daughter."

A mistiness crossed her eyes, and she smiled a little crooked smile as
she added:

"Daddy always wanted a son, and I did my best.  He is daddy's brother,
and he wants a daughter--I am going to do my best again.  I never seem
to quite `get there,' do If--I am evidently destined only to shine as a
substitute--to be only the-next-best-thing."

"But, Paddy," coming behind her and leaning over the table with his arm
across her shoulders, "you hate London so," coaxed Jack.  "How are
Eileen and I to be perfectly happy, thinking of you pining for fresh air
here?"

"You must not think--it would only be silly--you will have each other
and,"--there was a little catch in her voice--"mother."

Mrs Adair looked up quickly; hitherto she had not spoken.

"No, Paddy," she said, "I shall stay with you.  I do not mind London at
all now I have got used to it, and I could not leave you behind alone.
I should not be happy at Omeath without you."

But Paddy would not hear of it, and after a long discussion it was
finally decided that she should remain with her uncle for six months.
Having gained her point, she quickly drew their attention back to the
wall-papers, which were eagerly discussed in their turn, amid the usual
amount of nonsense and twitting on her part and Jack's.

The next day she told her uncle that she had won her point, and was
coming to them, at any rate for the present.  Something like tears
instantly dimmed the kindly doctor's eyes; he had grown more than fond
of his young dispenser and niece.

"It will be as good as having a daughter," he said, a little huskily.

Paddy laughed.  "It is my particular _forte_," she said, "to be
the-next-best-thing."

Her aunt was no less pleased.

"Really, my dear," she remarked, folding her hands contentedly upon her
ample front, "I shall be very pleased to have you.  I don't like girls,
as a rule--they're all so flighty and flirty, and fond of gew-gaws and
things, but you are somehow different.  You are not as interested in the
church guilds and parish meetings as I could wish, and you are a little
wanting in respect to poor Mr Dickinson," naming the meek young curate;
"but you are young yet, and by and by you will see how empty and shallow
and vain are all amusements compared with church work and the beautiful
church services."

Paddy had her doubts, but she kept them to herself, and just then Basil
came in to give his opinion.

"The guv'nor says you're going to stay here after March," he exclaimed.
"How beastly, jolly, thundering nice!"

"My dear boy!" gasped his mother, horror-struck; "what an extraordinary
way of expressing yourself."

"Says what I mean pretty straight, anyhow.  I guess I'll have a key of
the dispensary and only allow Paddy in at her proper hours.  If we don't
mind she'll go messing about with those silly old medicines half the
day."

So it was all arranged, and Paddy was somewhat relieved, but her heart
was unusually heavy on that February afternoon, with the weight of a
longing that, in its steady insistence, was beginning to undermine those
strong defences of hers, built up by that spirit of fanaticism so
strangely blended with her open, generous nature.

It had been there for some time now, this creeping, growing longing, but
until the Christmas holiday it had been given such short shrift, it
scarcely dared to hold up its head.  Whenever it did, seizing advantage
of some soft moment, it was almost immediately stamped on by the
warrior-like, fanatical Paddy, nursing her sense of injury, and
armour-plating herself against a softness her heart clamoured more and
more strongly to yield to.

But during the Christmas holiday the longing had developed an ache,
which gave it a new power.  The ache of an incredible loneliness, which
seemed to come down suddenly out of nowhere.  And always when the ache
was strongest, it seemed to sound insistently in her ears and in her
soul just one sentence: "Mavourneen, mavourneen, bears have
understanding when they love as I love you..."

And with the sentence came other thoughts.  Thoughts that thrilled and
frightened her both at once, setting her heart beating to a strange new
measure.  It was a measure she had experienced for the first time that
afternoon in his den, when all the others were paired off, and they two
left alone together.  When, sitting quietly at his fireside, she had
felt as if her little world were entirely changed, and she left in a
position that required much readjusting all round.  And it was so
difficult to readjust herself.  With Eileen and Jack married and living
at The Ghan House, and her mother with them, what was to be her place in
the general scheme?  Was there, indeed, nothing for her but that
independent spirit, and the dispensary, and this fighting against an
ache that threatened to overpower her heart?  And then would come the
thought, suppose she gave up fighting?... suppose... suppose...  But
there Paddy usually stopped short--a strange new world she was shyly
afraid of lay beyond that word, and the fanatical spirit was promptly
re-enforced.  Of course she could not give up fighting.  It was
monstrous to think it; and for a little while the old flash would be in
her eyes, and the old resolute set of the lips.

And then, at the first "letting go," back would come the same engrossing
memory: "Mavourneen, mavourneen, bears have understanding when they love
as I love you."

Ah, what understanding he had, what wild allurement!

Fancy played with her then, laughing at the fanatic, snapping light
fingers at the warrior-spirit.  "Supposing you were to let yourself go,"
said Fancy, "and to swim out into the comforting warmth of that
understanding, shutting away the loneliness with it, and letting all the
readjusting solve itself into just sitting by a fireside that was all
your own for ever...!"

How the ache and the longing grew when Fancy triumphed, how alluringly
the voice sounded.

So it came to a day when Paddy the Fearless asked herself a question,
and left it unanswered because she was afraid.  But though she spoke no
reply, perhaps it was given just as poignantly in a bright head buried
in a pillow, and a little reluctant whisper, breathed to the feathers:
"Oh, Lawrence, I can't help it.  I want you.  I want you."

And the next afternoon, that sombre February day, she stood in the
window still remembering, still vainly wrestling and puzzling, when a
taxi drew up at the door, and Gwen stepped out.

"Wait," she said to the driver and ran up the steps with a haste that
was somewhat startling.

Paddy went out into the hall and opened the door herself, and
immediately Gwen exclaimed: "Oh, I'm so glad you're in, Paddy.  Lawrence
has been hurt in a motor smash.  He wants to see you badly, and I said I
would take you.  Be quick, won't you?  I don't like leaving him.  He is
in great pain, and one never knows..."

CHAPTER FORTY FIVE.

THE INVALID.

Paddy hesitated a moment, looking straight into Gwen's eyes, almost with
a challenge.

"How much is he hurt?"

"I don't know.  It happened three days ago, and he was taken to a
hospital, but father had him brought in an ambulance to our house
to-day.  Surely you are not going to refuse to come...!"

"No," said Paddy slowly, "I am coming;" but her instinct told her he
would not have been moved if he had been very badly hurt, and she
believed that Gwen knew it.  Still, when she saw him, her heart smote
her indefinably; for Lawrence lying on a sofa with his arm in a splint,
and a white, exhausted air of endurance, was something she could not
steel herself against.  She wished vaguely that Gwen had not left them
alone so quickly, and moved away a little further, uncertain of herself.

"I'm not much hurt," he told her carelessly, though even as he spoke she
saw that a spasm of sharp pain made him clench his hands and teeth.
"But I expect I'm in for a bad time with my arm, and may have to have it
off in the end.  Serves me right, I suppose."  Then he added: "I don't
want the mater to know anything about it yet.  She would only worry
herself ill.  How are you?  It was nice of you to come."  He was looking
at her as if he could read her soul, and Paddy felt her colour rising,
and was unable to meet his eyes.  She longed suddenly to go to him in
his pain-wrung helplessness and touch his bandaged arm, and the fear
that she would show it held her silent and constrained and aloof.  With
his quick intuition Lawrence noted everything.

"Why, I believe you're quite sorry about this stupid smash!" with a
little callous laugh; "sorry in spite of yourself, eh, Paddy?"  She did
not answer, feeling vaguely hurt, and he ran on: "You're allowed to pity
me, then, and to come and see me out of charity as the poor invalid!
Well, I don't know that there's anything in the world I hate more than
charity, but I seem to be with the beggars every time now, and called
upon to be thankful for anything I can get."

"You know it is not charity," she blurted out.  "It is unkind of you to
say so.  I hate to see you lying there, looking so ill.  I--I--" She
stopped short suddenly--pitfalls lay ahead that might engulf her.

"Let it be charity if it brings you nearer.  I can't afford pride any
longer.  Charity should bring you close beside my couch of suffering,
laying your hand on my fevered brow, and all that stuff.  You are not a
very good district visitor, Paddy."  There was a taunt in his voice, and
he saw that he was hurting her more and more, and because in some way it
gave him pleasure, he drove the barbs in.  "Don't look so resentful.  Do
you feel you've been trapped here under false pretences?  Did Gwen tell
you I was dying or something?  How wicked of her!  And now you find I've
only a smashed-up arm, and all that beautiful Christian spirit of pity
is like to be wasted on an unworthy object.  Well, the arm hurts pretty
badly, if that is any help to you.  They give me morphia now and then,
but I wouldn't have it to-day."

But that was a little too much, and a flash of the old Paddy came back.
"You have no right to speak to me like this," she declared hotly; "it is
ungenerous of you.  I have done nothing to deserve it.  Gwen told me
that you were hurt, and that you wanted me; that was all."

"And haven't I wanted you for weeks and months!...  Yet you only ran
away.  Paddy, why did you run away from Omeath!  It wasn't quite fair.
You made me behave like a brute; and to mother.  I'm expiating it in my
mind every hour, but, thank heaven, a mother like mine always
understands.  I wrote afterward and told her how it happened.  I'd have
gone across if I hadn't had this smash."  His voice changed suddenly, as
with a quick, keen expression he leaned toward her and asked: "Paddy,
why did you run away?...  Why do you treat me like this, _when you love
me_?"

Again the tell-tale colour flooded her face, and she could not meet his
eyes; but pulling herself together quickly, she answered in a voice that
had borrowed some of the taunt from his: "I thought you said it was just
charity."

He smiled as if the taunt pleased him.  "It is certainly about the same
temperature just now.  But there, I won't tease you any more.  You were
a dear thing to come.  I'll get you a cozy, inviting chair if I can,
then perhaps you'll stay."  He attempted to rise, but the effort brought
on a sharp spasm that turned him faint, and Paddy sprang forward.

"Oh, you mustn't move, you mustn't move," she cried.  "Why did you try
to?...  Can I get you anything...!"

His rigid lips broke into the ghost of a smile, and a great tenderness
came into his eyes.  "Sit where I can see you, mavourneen; it is all the
healing I need."

Paddy pulled up a footstool, and sat beside him, and quietly began to
run her fingers with a light touch up and down his uninjured arm.  She
had seen his mother do it, and knew he found it soothing.  Thus for some
time neither spoke, and gradually the drawn, blue look left his face.
At last, from gazing into the fire, she looked up suddenly into his
face, and found he was watching her intently.

"Mavourneen," he said very quietly, "I suspected that you were beginning
to care at Christmas.  I know it now.  What are you going to do about
it?"

She hid her face against his hand, and did not reply.

"What is your own idea, anyway?" he asked, in a winsome, humorous voice.

"Oh, if you could only run away with me by force," she murmured
intensely.  "If only I needn't decide at all.  I'm just a lump of
obstinacy, and I don't want to climb down and meekly give in; don't you
see how I hate that part of it?  You could always say `I told you so,'"
and she smiled a little.

"Bravo, Patricia!  I like that spirit in you.  Curse it all, a few
hundred years ago, I'd just have brought along my men-at-arms and
captured you.  What good old days they must have been.  And here we are
hemmed in all round by barriers, and I haven't even got a couple of good
arms to drag you onto my horse.  But anyhow, the gods are evidently
relenting, so I'll take heart and think out a plan."  He saw her glance
at the clock.

"Must you go now?  Are the beastly medicine bottles squirming on the
shelf?  Well, I won't keep you.  It isn't good enough with a crocked-up
arm.  In fact, it isn't good at all; it's merely maddening.  You see, I
want to kiss you, Paddy, and I dare say if I asked very appealingly and
pathetically, you would lean over and give me a sort of benevolent,
motherly salute."  He gave a low laugh with a note of masterfulness in
it.  "But I'll have none of it.  To dream as I have dreamed, and then
begin with a mild caress!  _Never_.  I forbid you to come near me again
until I'm on my feet with, at any rate, one strong arm.  Then I'll show
you.  I had always a weakness for the best."

She stood up, a little non-plussed and uncertain, but he only smiled
into her eyes with something of the old mocking light.

"Good-by, mavourneen, I'll let you know when you must come again.  I've
had enough healing for a little--and I'm sure the bottles are
clamouring."

"Good-by," she answered, and went slowly out of the room.

But as she trundled back to Shepherd's Bush on a motor 'bus, she saw no
greyness and shabbiness and desolation any more--saw nothing at all--
only knew that in her heart there was a sort of shy, fierce, bewildering
gladness.

CHAPTER FORTY SIX.

THE SOLUTION.

A week passed, and no message of any sort reached Paddy, so that,
finally, in desperation she rang up Gwen on the telephone to ask for
news.  Gwen's voice sounded a little cold and constrained, and Paddy
learned nothing beyond the fact that Lawrence was progressing very well.
Gwen said that she would tell him Paddy had inquired, but he was
sleeping now.

Paddy hung up the receiver, feeling as if a weight had come down upon
her.  What did it mean?  Evidently he had no message for her, and Gwen
no longer dreamt of coming to fetch her.  She went out for a walk, and
found herself in a 'bus going toward Gwen's home.  She walked down
Grosvenor Place, and saw Gwen come out, looking very gay and lovely with
her giant, and the two of them sped away together in a motor.  So
Lawrence was alone.  Yet she could not go to him.  The situation seemed
impossible, almost absurd.  Surely he had not suddenly ceased to want
her!  Yet not for the world would she cross the road and present herself
unasked.  So there was nothing for it but to go back to the bottles and
prescriptions, and to the making of that endless trousseau for Eileen.
They--Eileen and her mother--had heard about Lawrence's accident at
last, and told her of it as a piece of news.  It seemed Mrs Blake had
come over, and was established at Gwen's home with him.  So, of course,
he did not particularly want her now.  When the pain was bad, his mother
would soothe him with that running touch; and when he felt better, Gwen
was there to make him laugh.  She told herself she did not mind.  That
fortunately she had known him too well to let herself go in any real
sense.  He was just fickle as ever, that was all.

Nevertheless, a yet duller ache began to be her portion.  An ache that
was akin to sheer misery.  The future began to frighten her a little.
Was it possible the making up of medicines was to be her portion
indefinitely?  Perhaps for many more of the glad, joyous, youthful years
now speeding by.  One day a letter came from Ted Masterman, and when
Paddy had read it, she stood long and silently gazing at the blank,
uninteresting windows opposite.  He was prospering now, and seemed full
of content with his surroundings.  Too full of content.  In her present
mood Paddy resented it.  She resented it a little because she knew he
possessed those traits which make for happiness which Lawrence lacked.
If there had been no Lawrence, she might have grown to care for Ted.  As
it was, she could not care for either.  At least, so she told herself,
waiting day after day for the message which did not come.  Sometimes she
told herself she had disappointed him in some way, and he had decided to
withdraw while he could.  Another time, she remembered what he had said
about the kiss, and her cheeks burned, and her eyes fell.  Was it
possible he was really waiting until he could stand with ease, and was
himself again!  And if so...

She wondered a little whether she would have the courage to go,
supposing the message came in the end.  Something in her seemed to have
lost confidence.  She was the same--yet different.  She wanted again to
run away, only now she also wanted still more to stay.  She read Ted
Masterman's letter again, and told herself he was a man to make any
woman happy, and that if she said the word, he would come back at once,
whereas Lawrence...

The uncertainty made her moody and restless, and her mother and Eileen
looked at her a little perplexedly.  Eileen asked her about the letter
from Ted, but she only said he was prosperous and happy.  "Is he coming
home?"  Eileen suggested, and she answered: "Not that I know of," in a
way that had a final ring.  Mrs Blake called one day, and told them
Lawrence had made a remarkable recovery, and she was returning to
Ireland at once.  "Of course his arm will be practically useless for
some time," she said, "but it will not have to come off.  So fortunate
it was his left, and not his right.  I want him to come back with me,
but he won't just at present.  He insists he has some business to attend
to in town."  She laughed a little.  She seemed wonderfully happy about
him.  Evidently, as ever, the very memory of that black afternoon had
been wiped out by his later charm.  Paddy thought about it lingeringly.
How strong he was when he chose.  How he compelled love and forgiveness
if it pleased him to do so.  Was it possible, she asked again, that he
only wanted to break her will, and bend her as he bent all others?

The ache grew, and with it a manufactured anger against him.  Surely he
might have spared her.  What did it profit him to make other men seem
tame and colourless in her life?

It was March before the message came.  Eileen's trousseau was finished
and wedding day fixed, and Paddy had a growing dread of what lay ahead.
Of course she was to be chief bridesmaid, and all the countryside would
be there--and among them, Lawrence.

How was she to meet him on that day, after the manner of their parting?
See perhaps the mocking light in his eyes, and hear his veiled taunts.
But the message dropped like a shaft from the skies, suddenly,
unpreparedly, and for the moment dispelled all else.  It came in a note
from Gwen.  "Lawrence is taking motor drives every day now, but hates
going alone.  He wants you to go to-morrow morning, as I have many
engagements.  He will call for you at the surgery at half-past eleven.
Do be a dear about it.  I know you will--and have arranged accordingly."

There was not much sleep for Paddy that night--mostly a troubled,
tossing restlessness, and in the morning she looked eagerly at the
weather.  It was a lovely early spring day, when the little birds were
chirping lustily, and the little buds swelling to bursting point.

And something about Lawrence seemed to match them, when at last he came.
A veiled light in his eyes, as of some hidden joy swelling to bursting
point.  A light gaiety of manner.  He walked into the dispensary, and
laughed at the bottles, telling her it was the untidiest dispensary in
London, and he was quite sure all her prescriptions included an
appalling supply of microbes.  She tried to laugh lightly back, but she
could not meet his eyes.  Something in his manner--something quite new--
unnerved her.  He seemed perfectly well again, except for the slung arm,
and when she inquired after that, he only said: "Oh, it will soon be
equal to its work, and, anyhow, the other is strong enough now for two."
And then he looked into her eyes and laughed a humorous, teasing,
tender little laugh, adding: "Come along.  I've an appointment I mustn't
miss."

She was conscious of a sudden dampening.  Then he was going to see some
one else.  Her company was not sufficient in itself.  He said something
to the chauffeur, and they sped away, out through Acton and Ealing into
the country, and made a wide circuit, and came back to Richmond.

At half-past twelve they drew up before a quaint old-fashioned church,
and the chauffeur got out to open the door.

"Is your appointment at a church?"  Paddy asked, looking amused.  "I
hope you won't be long, because we lunch at one."

"Come in with me," he said; "I want to show you a curious old chained
Bible here.  One of the oldest known."

She alighted, still looking amused, and followed him through the big old
door.

On the threshold he was greeted by the sexton with the astonishing
words: "Mr Elkins has just come, sir.  He is in the vestry;" and almost
at the same moment a clergyman appeared in the chancel.

Lawrence turned and looked into Paddy's eyes--and immediately she
understood.

For a breathless moment neither spoke, and she seemed to sway a little
with the suddenness of it.  The sexton moved away and they stood
together alone, but Paddy, was still speechless.  Then Lawrence's hand
closed firmly over hers with a clasp that seemed to claim her for all
eternity.  "It was the best way I could think of, mavourneen," he said;
then he added humorously: "but it took me all my time to get the special
licence necessary."

She tried to speak, but no words would frame themselves, and her lips
twisted queerly.

"Mavourneen, are you ready?...  The one strong arm is growing
impatient."  It was the old voice of ineffable tenderness, and it swept
her unresistingly into his keeping.

A mistiness in her eyes blotted out everything for a moment, and then
she turned to him with a sudden uplifting of her head and squaring of
her shoulders that gave him great joy in seeing the old dauntless Paddy
equal to the moment.

"Yes," she said simply, "I'm quite ready."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Finis.





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