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THE LAKE

BY GEORGE MOORE

1921

LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN

EPITRE DEDICATOIRE

_17 Aout, 1905._

MON CHER DUJARDIN,

Il se trouve que je suis a Paris en train de corriger mes epreuves au
moment ou vous donnez les dernieres retouches au manuscrit de 'La Source
du Fleuve Chretien,' un beau titre--si beau que je n'ai pu m'empecher de
le 'chipper' pour le livre de Ralph Elles, un personnage de mon roman
qui ne parait pas, mais dont on entend beaucoup parler. Pour vous
dedommager de mon larcin, je me propose de vous dedier 'Le Lac.' Il y a
bien des raisons pour que je desire voir votre nom sur la premiere page
d'un livre de moi; la meilleure est, peut-etre, parceque vous etes mon
ami depuis 'Les Confessions d'un Jeune Anglais' qui ont paru dans votre
jolie _Revue Independante;_ et, depuis cette bienheureuse annee, nous
avons cause litterature et musique, combien de fois! Combien d'heures
nous avons passes ensemble, causant, toujours causant, dans votre belle
maison de Fontainebleau, si francaise avec sa terrasse en pierre et son
jardin avec ses gazons maigres et ses allees sablonneuses qui serpentent
parmi les grands arbres forestiers. C'est dans ce jardin a l'oree de la
foret et dans la foret meme, parmi la melancolie de lat nature
primitive, et a Valvins ou demeurait notre vieil ami Mallarme, triste et
charmant bonhomme, comme le pays du reste (n'est-ce-pas que cette
tristesse croit depuis qu'il s'en est alle?) que vous m'avez entendu
raconter 'Le Lac.'

A Valvins, la Seine coule silencieusement tout le long des berges plates
et graciles, avec des peupliers alignes; comme ils sont tristes au
printemps, ces peupliers, surtout avant qu'ils ne deviennent verts,
quand ils sont rougeatres, poses contre un ciel gris, des ombres
immobiles et ternes dans les eaux, dix fois tristes quand les
hirondelles volent bas! Pour expliquer la tristesse de ce beau pays
parseme de chateaux vides, hante par le souvenir des fetes d'autrefois,
il faudrait tout un orchestre. Je l'entends d'abord sur les violons;
plus tard on ajouterait d'autres instruments, des cors sans doute; mais
pour rendre la tristesse de mon pauvre pays la bas il ne faut drait pas
tout cela. Je l'entends tres bien sur une seule flute placee dans une
ile entouree des eaux d'un lac, le joueur assis sur les vagues ruines
d'un reduit gallois ou bien Normand. Mais, cher ami, vous etes Normand
et peut-etre bien que ce sent vos ancetres qui out pille mon pays; c'est
une raison de plus pour que je vous offre ce roman. Acceptez-le sans le
connaitre davantage et n'essayez pas de le lire; ne vous donnez pas la
peine d'apprendre l'anglais pour lire 'Le Lac'; que le lac ne soit
jamais traverse par vous! Et parce que vous allez rester fatalement sur
le bord de 'mon lac' j'ai un double plaisir a vous le dedier. Lorsqu'on
dedie un livre, on prevoit l'heure ou l'ami le prend, jette un coup
d'oeil et dit: 'Pourquoi m'a-t-il dedie une niaiserie pareille?' Toutes
les choses de l'esprit, sauf les plus grandes, deviennent niaiseries tot
ou tard. Votre ignorance de ma langue m'epargne cette heure fatale. Pour
vous, mon livre sera toujours une belle et noble chose. Il ne peut
jamais devenir pour vous banal comme une epouse. II sera pour vous une
vierge, mieux qu'une vierge, il sera pour vous une demi-vierge. Chaque
fois que vous l'ouvrirez, vous penserez a des annees ecoulees, au
jardin ou les rossignols chantent, a la foret ou rien ne se passe sauf
la chute des feuilles, a nos promenades a Valvins pour voir le cher
bonhomme; vous penserez a votre jeunesse et peut-etre un peu a la
mienne. Mais je veux que vous lisiez cette dedicace, et c'est pour cela
que je l'ai ecrite en francais, dans un francais qui vous est tres
familier, le mien. Si je l'ecrivais en anglais et le faisais traduire
dans le langage a la derniere mode de Paris, vous ne retrouveriez pas
les accents barbares de votre vieil ami. Ils sont barbares, je le
concois, mais il y a des chiens qui sont laids et que l'on finit par
aimer.

Une poignee de mains,

GEORGES MOORE.

PREFACE

The concern of this preface is with the mistake that was made when 'The
Lake' was excluded from the volume entitled 'The Untilled Field,'
reducing it to too slight dimensions, for bulk counts; and 'The Lake,'
too, in being published in a separate volume lost a great deal in range
and power, and criticism was baffled by the division of stories written
at the same time and coming out of the same happy inspiration, one that
could hardly fail to beget stories in the mind of anybody prone to
narrative--the return of a man to his native land, to its people, to
memories hidden for years, forgotten, but which rose suddenly out of the
darkness, like water out of the earth when a spring is tapped.

Some chance words passing between John Eglinton and me as we returned
home one evening from Professor Dowden's were enough. He spoke, or I
spoke, of a volume of Irish stories; Tourgueniev's name was mentioned,
and next morning--if not the next morning, certainly not later than a
few mornings after--I was writing 'Homesickness,' while the story of
'The Exile' was taking shape in my mind. 'The Exile' was followed by a
series of four stories, a sort of village odyssey. 'A Letter to Rome' is
as good as these and as typical of my country. 'So on He Fares' is the
one that, perhaps, out of the whole volume I like the best, always
excepting 'The Lake,' which, alas, was not included, but which belongs
so strictly to the aforesaid stories that my memory includes it in the
volume.

In expressing preferences I am transgressing an established rule of
literary conduct, which ordains that an author must always speak of his
own work with downcast eyes, excusing its existence on the ground of his
own incapacity. All the same an author's preferences interest his
readers, and having transgressed by telling that these Irish stories lie
very near to my heart, I will proceed a little further into literary
sin, confessing that my reason for liking 'The Lake' is related to the
very great difficulty of the telling, for the one vital event in the
priest's life befell him before the story opens, and to keep the story
in the key in which it was conceived, it was necessary to recount the
priest's life during the course of his walk by the shores of a lake,
weaving his memories continually, without losing sight, however, of the
long, winding, mere-like lake, wooded to its shores, with hills
appearing and disappearing into mist and distance. The difficulty
overcome is a joy to the artist, for in his conquest over the material
he draws nigh to his idea, and in this book mine was the essential
rather than the daily life of the priest, and as I read for this edition
I seemed to hear it. The drama passes within the priest's soul; it is
tied and untied by the flux and reflux of sentiments, inherent in and
proper to his nature, and the weaving of a story out of the soul
substance without ever seeking the aid of external circumstance seems to
me a little triumph. It may be that I heard what none other will hear,
not through his own fault but through mine, and it may be that all ears
are not tuned, or are too indifferent or indolent to listen; it is
easier to hear 'Esther Waters' and to watch her struggles for her
child's life than to hear the mysterious warble, soft as lake water,
that abides in the heart. But I think there will always be a few who
will agree with me that there is as much life in 'The Lake,' as there is
in 'Esther Waters'--a different kind of life, not so wide a life,
perhaps, but what counts in art is not width but depth.

Artists, it is said, are not good judges of their own works, and for
that reason, and other reasons, maybe, it is considered to be unbecoming
for a writer to praise himself. So to make atonement for the sins I have
committed in this preface, I will confess to very little admiration for
'Evelyn Innes' and 'Sister Teresa.' The writing of 'Evelyn Innes' and
'Sister Teresa' was useful to me inasmuch that if I had not written them
I could not have written 'The Lake' or 'The Brook Kerith.' It seems
ungrateful, therefore, to refuse to allow two of my most successful
books into the canon merely because they do not correspond with my
aestheticism. But a writer's aestheticism is his all; he cannot surrender
it, for his art is dependent upon it, and the single concession he can
make is that if an overwhelming demand should arise for these books
when he is among the gone--a storm before which the reed must bend--the
publisher shall be permitted to print 'Evelyn Innes' and 'Sister Teresa'
from the original editions, it being, however, clearly understood that
they are offered to the public only as apocrypha. But this permission
must not be understood to extend to certain books on which my name
appears--viz., 'Mike Fletcher,' 'Vain Fortune,' Parnell and His Island';
to some plays, 'Martin Luther,' 'The Strike at Arlingford,' 'The Bending
of the Boughs'; to a couple of volumes of verse entitled 'Pagan Poems'
and 'Flowers of Passion'--all these books, if they are ever reprinted
again, should be issued as the work of a disciple--Amico Moorini I put
forward as a suggestion.

G.M.

I

It was one of those enticing days at the beginning of May when white
clouds are drawn about the earth like curtains. The lake lay like a
mirror that somebody had breathed upon, the brown islands showing
through the mist faintly, with gray shadows falling into the water,
blurred at the edges. The ducks were talking in the reeds, the reeds
themselves were talking, and the water lapping softly about the smooth
limestone shingle. But there was an impulse in the gentle day, and,
turning from the sandy spit, Father Oliver walked to and fro along the
disused cart-track about the edge of the wood, asking himself if he were
going home, knowing very well that he could not bring himself to
interview his parishioners that morning.

On a sudden resolve to escape from anyone that might be seeking him, he
went into the wood and lay down on the warm grass, and admired the
thickly-tasselled branches of the tall larches swinging above him. At a
little distance among the juniper-bushes, between the lake and the wood,
a bird uttered a cry like two stones clinked sharply together, and
getting up he followed the bird, trying to catch sight of it, but always
failing to do so; it seemed to range in a circle about certain trees,
and he hadn't gone very far when he heard it behind him. A stonechat he
was sure it must be, and he wandered on till he came to a great silver
fir, and thought that he spied a pigeon's nest among the multitudinous
branches. The nest, if it were one, was about sixty feet from the
ground, perhaps more than that; and, remembering that the great fir had
grown out of a single seed, it seemed to him not at all wonderful that
people had once worshipped trees, so mysterious is their life, so remote
from ours. And he stood a long time looking up, hardly able to resist
the temptation to climb the tree--not to rob the nest like a boy, but to
admire the two gray eggs which he would find lying on some bare twigs.

At the edge of the wood there were some chestnuts and sycamores. He
noticed that the large-patterned leaf of the sycamores, hanging out from
a longer stem, was darker than the chestnut leaf. There were some elms
close by, and their half-opened leaves, dainty and frail, reminded him
of clouds of butterflies. He could think of nothing else. White,
cotton-like clouds unfolded above the blossoming trees; patches of blue
appeared and disappeared; and he wandered on again, beguiled this time
by many errant scents and wilful little breezes.

Very soon he came upon some fields, and as he walked through the ferns
the young rabbits ran from under his feet, and he thought of the
delicious meals that the fox would snap up. He had to pick his way, for
thorn-bushes and hazels were springing up everywhere. Derrinrush, the
great headland stretching nearly a mile into the lake, said to be one of
the original forests, was extending inland. He remembered it as a deep,
religious wood, with its own particular smell of reeds and rushes. It
went further back than the island castles, further back than the Druids;
and was among Father Oliver's earliest recollections. Himself and his
brother James used to go there when they were boys to cut hazel stems,
to make fishing-rods; and one had only to turn over the dead leaves to
discover the chips scattered circlewise in the open spaces where the
coopers sat in the days gone by making hoops for barrels. But iron hoops
were now used instead of hazel, and the coopers worked there no more. In
the old days he and his brother James used to follow the wood-ranger,
asking him questions about the wild creatures of the wood--badgers,
marten cats, and otters. And one day they took home a nest of young
hawks. He did not neglect to feed them, but they had eaten each other,
nevertheless. He forgot what became of the last one.

A thick yellow smell hung on the still air. 'A fox,' he said, and he
trailed the animal through the hazel-bushes till he came to a rough
shore, covered with juniper-bushes and tussocked grass, the extreme
point of the headland, whence he could see the mountains--the pale
southern mountains mingling with the white sky, and the western
mountains, much nearer, showing in bold relief. The beautiful motion and
variety of the hills delighted him, and there was as much various colour
as there were many dips and curves, for the hills were not far enough
away to dwindle to one blue tint; they were blue, but the pink heather
showed through the blue, and the clouds continued to fold and unfold, so
that neither the colour nor the lines were ever the same. The retreating
and advancing of the great masses and the delicate illumination of the
crests could be watched without weariness. It was like listening to
music. Slieve Cairn showing straight as a bull's back against the white
sky, a cloud filling the gap between Slieve Cairn and Slieve Louan, a
quaint little hill like a hunchback going down a road. Slieve Louan was
followed by a great boulder-like hill turned sideways, the top indented
like a crater, and the priest likened the long, low profile of the next
hill to a reptile raising itself on its forepaws.

He stood at gaze, bewitched by the play of light and shadow among the
slopes; and when he turned towards the lake again, he was surprised to
see a yacht by Castle Island. A random breeze just sprung up had borne
her so far, and now she lay becalmed, carrying, without doubt, a
pleasure-party, inspired by some vague interest in ruins, and a very
real interest in lunch; or the yacht's destination might be Kilronan
Abbey, and the priest wondered if there were water enough in the strait
to let her through in this season of the year. The sails flapped in the
puffing breeze, and he began to calculate her tonnage, certain that if
he had such a boat he would not be sailing her on a lake, but on the
bright sea, out of sight of land, in the middle of a great circle of
water. As if stung by a sudden sense of the sea, of its perfume and its
freedom, he imagined the filling of the sails and the rattle of the
ropes, and how a fair wind would carry him as far as the cove of Cork
before morning. The run from Cork to Liverpool would be slower, but the
wind might veer a little, and in four-and-twenty hours the Welsh
mountains would begin to show above the horizon. But he would not land
anywhere on the Welsh coast. There was nothing to see in Wales but
castles, and he was weary of castles, and longed to see the cathedrals
of York and Salisbury; for he had often seen them in pictures, and had
more than once thought of a walking tour through England. Better still
if the yacht were to land him somewhere on the French coast. England
was, after all, only an island like Ireland--- a little larger, but
still an island--and he thought he would like a continent to roam in.
The French cathedrals were more beautiful than the English, and it would
be pleasant to wander in the French country in happy-go-lucky fashion,
resting when he was tired, walking when it pleased him, taking an
interest in whatever might strike his fancy.

It seemed to him that his desire was to be freed for a while from
everything he had ever seen, and from everything he had ever heard. He
merely wanted to wander, admiring everything there was to admire as he
went. He didn't want to learn anything, only to admire. He was weary of
argument, religious and political. It wasn't that he was indifferent to
his country's welfare, but every mind requires rest, and he wished
himself away in a foreign country, distracted every moment by new
things, learning the language out of a volume of songs, and hearing
music, any music, French or German--any music but Irish music. He
sighed, and wondered why he sighed. Was it because he feared that if he
once went away he might never come back?

This lake was beautiful, but he was tired of its low gray shores; he was
tired of those mountains, melancholy as Irish melodies, and as
beautiful. He felt suddenly that he didn't want to see a lake or a
mountain for two months at least, and that his longing for a change was
legitimate and most natural. It pleased him to remember that everyone
likes to get out of his native country for a while, and he had only been
out of sight of this lake in the years he spent in Maynooth. On leaving
he had pleaded that he might be sent to live among the mountains by
Kilronan Abbey, at the north end of the lake, but when Father Conway
died he was moved round to the western shore; and every day since he
walked by the lake, for there was nowhere else to walk, unless up and
down the lawn under the sycamores, imitating Father Peter, whose wont it
was to walk there, reading his breviary, stopping from time to time to
speak to a parishioner in the road below; he too used to read his
breviary under the sycamores; but for one reason or another he walked
there no longer, and every afternoon now found him standing at the end
of this sandy spit, looking across the lake towards Tinnick, where he
was born, and where his sisters lived.

He couldn't see the walls of the convent to-day, there was too much mist
about; and he liked to see them; for whenever he saw them he began to
think of his sister Eliza, and he liked to think of her--she was his
favourite sister. They were nearly the same age, and had played
together; and his eyes dwelt in memory on the dark corner under the
stairs where they used to play. He could even see their toys through the
years, and the tall clock which used to tell them that it was time to
put them aside. Eliza was only eighteen months older than he; they were
the red-haired ones, and though they were as different in mind as it was
possible to be, he seemed nearer Eliza than anyone else. In what this
affinity consisted he couldn't say, but he had always felt himself of
the same flesh and blood. Neither his father nor mother had inspired
this sense of affinity; and his sister Mary and his brothers seemed to
him merely people whom he had known always--not more than that; whereas
Eliza was quite different, and perhaps it was this very mutuality, which
he could not define, that had decided their vocations.

No doubt there is a moment in every man's life when something happens to
turn him into the road which he is destined to follow; for all that it
would be superficial to think that the fate of one's life is dependent
upon accident. The accident that turns one into the road is only the
means which Providence takes to procure the working out of certain ends.
Accidents are many: life is as full of accidents as a fire is full of
sparks, and any spark is enough to set fire to the train. The train
escapes a thousand, but at last a spark lights it, and this spark always
seems to us the only one that could have done it. We cannot imagine how
the same result could have been obtained otherwise. But other ways would
have been found; for Nature is full of resource, and if Eliza had not
been by to fire the idea hidden in him, something else would. She was
the means, but only the means, for no man escapes his vocation, and the
priesthood was his. A vocation always finds a way out. But was he sure
if it hadn't been for Eliza that he wouldn't have married Annie McGrath?
He didn't think he would have married Annie, but he might have married
another. All the same, Annie was a good, comfortable girl, a girl that
everybody was sure would make a good wife for any man, and at that time
many people were thinking that he should marry Annie. On looking back he
couldn't honestly say that a stray thought of Annie hadn't found its way
into his mind; but not into his heart--there is a difference.

At that time he was what is known as a growing lad; he was seventeen.
His father was then dead two years, and his mother looked to him, he
being the eldest, to take charge of the shop, for at that time it was
almost settled that James was to go to America. They had two or three
nice grass farms just beyond the town: Patsy was going to have them; and
his sisters' fortunes were in the bank, and very good fortunes they
were. They had a hundred pounds apiece and should have married well.
Eliza could have married whomever she pleased. Mary could have married,
too, and to this day he couldn't tell why she hadn't married.

The chances his sister Mary had missed rose up in his mind--why, he did
not know; and a little bored by these memories, he suddenly became
absorbed in the little bleat of a blackcap perched on a bush, the only
one amid a bed of flags and rushes; 'an alder-bush,' he said. 'His mate
is sitting on her eggs, and there are some wood-gatherers about; that's
what's worrying the little fellow.' The bird continued to utter its
troubled bleat, and the priest walked on, thinking how different was its
evensong. He meditated an excursion to hear it, and then, without his
being aware of any transition, his thoughts returned to his sister Mary,
and to the time when he had once indulged in hopes that the mills along
the river-side might be rebuilt and Tinnick restored to its former
commercial prosperity. He was not certain if he had ever really believed
that he might set these mills going, or if he had, he encouraged an
illusion, knowing it to be one. He was only certain of this, that when
he was a boy and saw no life ahead of him except that of a Tinnick
shopman, he used to feel that if he remained at home he must have the
excitement of adventure. The beautiful river, with its lime-trees,
appealed to his imagination; the rebuilding of the mills and the
reorganization of trade, if he succeeded in reorganizing trade, would
mean spending his mornings on the wharves by the river-side, and in
those days his one desire was to escape from the shop. He looked upon
the shop as a prison. In those days he liked dreaming, and it was
pleasant to dream of giving back to Tinnick its trade of former days;
but when his mother asked him what steps he intended to take to get the
necessary capital, he lost his temper with her. He must have known that
he could never make enough money in the shop to set the mills working!
He must have known that he would never take his father's place at the
desk by the dusty window! But if he shrank from an avowal it was because
he had no other proposal to make. His mother understood him, though the
others didn't, and seeing his inability to say what kind of work he
would put his hand to, she had spoken of Annie McGrath. She didn't say
he should marry Annie--she was a clever woman in her way--she merely
said that Annie's relations in America could afford to supply sufficient
capital to start one of the mills. But he never wanted to marry Annie,
and couldn't do else but snap when the subject was mentioned, and many's
the time he told his mother that if the mills were to pay it would be
necessary to start business on a large scale. He was an impracticable
lad and even now he couldn't help smiling when he thought of the
abruptness with which he would go down to the river-side to seek a new
argument wherewith to confute his mother, to return happy when he had
found one, and sit watching for an opportunity to raise the question
again.

No, it wasn't because Annie's relations weren't rich enough that he
hadn't wanted to marry her. And to account for his prejudice against
marriage, he must suppose that some notion of the priesthood was
stirring in him at the time, for one day, as he sat looking at Annie
across the tea-table, he couldn't help thinking that it would be hard to
live alongside of her year in and year out. Although a good and a
pleasant girl, Annie was a bit tiresome to listen to, and she wasn't one
of those who improve with age. As he sat looking at her, he seemed to
understand, as he had never understood before, that if he married her
all that had happened in the years back would happen again--more
children scrambling about the counter, with a shopman (himself) by the
dusty window putting his pen behind his ear, just as his father did when
he came forward to serve some country woman with half a pound of tea or
a hank of onions.

And as these thoughts were passing through his mind, he remembered
hearing his mother say that Annie's sister was thinking of starting
dressmaking in the High Street. 'It would be nice if Eliza were to join
her,' his mother added casually. Eliza laid aside the skirt she was
turning, raised her eyes and stared at mother, as if she were surprised
mother could say anything so stupid. 'I'm going to be a nun,' she said,
and, just as if she didn't wish to answer any questions, went on sewing.
Well might they be surprised, for not one of them suspected Eliza of
religious inclinations. She wasn't more pious than another, and when
they asked her if she were joking, she looked at them as if she thought
the question very stupid, and they didn't ask her any more.

She wasn't more than fifteen at the time, yet she spoke out of her own
mind. At the time they thought she had been thinking on the
matter--considering her future. A child of fifteen doesn't consider, but
a child of fifteen may _know_, and after he had seen the look which
greeted his mother's remarks, and heard Eliza's simple answer, 'I've
decided to be a nun,' he never doubted that what she said was true. From
that day she became for him a different being; and when she told him,
feeling, perhaps, that he sympathized with her more than the others did,
that one day she would be Reverend Mother of the Tinnick Convent, he
felt convinced that she knew what she was saying--how she knew he could
not say.

His childhood had been a slumber, with occasional awakenings or half
awakenings, and Eliza's announcement that she intended to enter the
religious life was the first real awakening; and this awakening first
took the form of an acute interest in Eliza's character, and, persuaded
that she or her prototype had already existed, he searched the lives of
the saints for an account of her, finding many partial portraits of her;
certain typical traits in the lives of three or four saints reminded him
of Eliza, but there was no complete portrait. The strangest part of the
business was that he traced his vocation to his search for Eliza in the
lives of the saints. Everything that happened afterwards was the
emotional sequence of taking down the books from the shelf. He didn't
exaggerate; it was possible his life might have taken a different turn,
for up to that time he had only read books of adventure--stories about
robbers and pirates. As if by magic, his interest in such stories passed
clean out of his mind, or was exchanged for an extraordinary enthusiasm
for saints, who by renouncement of animal life had contrived to steal up
to the last bounds, whence they could see into the eternal life that
lies beyond the grave. Once this power was admitted, what interest could
we find in the feeble ambitions of temporal life, whose scope is limited
to three score and ten years? And who could doubt that saints attained
the eternal life, which is God, while still living in the temporal
flesh? For did not the miracles of the saints prove that they were no
longer subject to natural laws? Ancient Ireland, perhaps, more than any
other country, understood the supremacy of spirit over matter, and
strove to escape through mortifications from the prison of the flesh.
Without doubt great numbers in Ireland had fled from the torment of
actual life into the wilderness. If the shore and the islands on this
lake were dotted with fortress castles, it was the Welsh and the Normans
who built them, and the priest remembered how his mind took fire when he
first heard of the hermit who lived in Church Island, and how
disappointed he was when he heard that Church Island was ten miles away,
at the other end of the lake.

For he could not row himself so far; distance and danger compelled him
to consider the islands facing Tinnick--two large islands covered with
brushwood, ugly brown patches--ugly as their names, Horse Island and Hog
Island, whereas Castle Island had always seemed to him a suitable island
for a hermitage, far more so than Castle Hag. Castle Hag was too small
and bleak to engage the attention of a sixth-century hermit. But there
were trees on Castle Island, and out of the ruins of the castle a
comfortable sheiling could be built, and the ground thus freed from the
ruins of the Welshman's castle might be cultivated. He remembered
commandeering the fisherman's boat, and rowing himself out, taking a
tape to measure, and how, after much application of the tape, he had
satisfied himself that there was enough arable land in the island for a
garden; he had walked down the island certain that a quarter of an acre
could grow enough vegetables to support a hermit, and that a goat would
be able to pick a living among the bushes and the tussocked grass: even
a hermit might have a goat, and he didn't think he could live without
milk. He must have been a long time measuring out his garden, for when
he returned to his boat the appearance of the lake frightened him; it
was full of blustering waves, and it wasn't likely he'd ever forget his
struggle to get the boat back to Tinnick. He left it where he had found
it, at the mouth of the river by the fisherman's hut, and returned home
thinking how he would have to import a little hay occasionally for the
goat. Nor would this be all; he would have to go on shore every Sunday
to hear Mass, unless he built a chapel. The hermit of Church Island had
an oratory in which he said Mass! But if he left his island every Sunday
his hermitage would be a mockery. For the moment he couldn't see how he
was to build a chapel--a sheiling, perhaps; a chapel was out of the
question, he feared.

He would have to have vestments and a chalice, and, immersed in the
difficulty of obtaining these, he walked home, taking the path along the
river from habit, not because he wished to consider afresh the problems
of the ruined mills. The dream of restoring Tinnick to its commerce of
former days was forgotten, and he walked on, thinking of his chalice,
until he heard somebody call him. It was Eliza, and as they leaned over
the parapet of the bridge, he could not keep himself from telling her
that he had rowed out to Castle Island, never thinking that she would
reprove him, and sternly, for taking the fisherman's boat without asking
leave. It was no use to argue with Eliza that the fisherman didn't want
his boat, the day being too rough for fishing. What did she know about
fishing? She had asked very sharply what brought him out to Castle
Island on such a day. There was no use saying he didn't know; he never
was able to keep a secret from Eliza, and feeling that he must confide
in somebody, he told her he was tired of living at home, and was
thinking of building a sheiling on the island.

Eliza didn't understand, and she understood still less when he spoke of
a beehive hut, such as the ancient hermits of Ireland lived in. She was
entirely without imagination; but what surprised him still more than her
lack of sympathy with his dream-project was her inability to understand
an idea so inherent in Christianity as the hermitage, for at that time
Eliza's mind was made up to enter the religious life. He waited a long
time for her answer, but the only answer she made was that in the early
centuries a man was either a bandit or a hermit. This wasn't true: life
was peaceful in Ireland in the sixth and seventh centuries; even if it
weren't, she ought to have understood that change of circumstance cannot
alter an idea so inherent in man as the hermitage, and when he asked her
if she intended to found a new Order, or to go out to Patagonia to teach
the Indians, she laughed, saying she was much more interested in a
laundry than in the Indians. Her plea that the Tinnick Convent was
always in straits for money did not appeal to him then any more than it
did to-day.

'The officers in Tinnick have to send their washing to Dublin. A fine
reason for entering a convent,' he answered.

But quite unmoved by the sarcasm, she replied that a woman can do
nothing unless she be a member of a congregation. He shrank from Eliza's
mind as from the touch of something coarse, and his suggestion that the
object of the religious life is meditation did not embarrass her in the
very least, and he remembered well how she had said:

'Putting aside for the moment the important question whether there may
or may not be hermits in the twentieth century, tell me, Oliver, are you
thinking of marrying Annie McGrath? You know she has rich relations in
America, and you might get them to supply the capital to set the mills
going. The mills would be a great advantage. Annie has a good headpiece,
and would be able to take the shop off your hands, leaving you free to
look after the mills.'

'The mills, Eliza! there are other things in the world beside those
mills!'

'A hermitage on Castle Island?'

Eliza could be very impertinent when she liked. If she had no concern in
what was being said, she looked round, displaying an irritating
curiosity in every passer-by, and true to herself she had drawn his
attention to the ducks on the river while he was telling her of the
great change that had come over him. He had felt like boxing her ears.
But the moment he began to speak of taking Orders she forgot all about
the ducks; her eyes were fixed upon him, she listened to his every word,
and when he finished speaking, she reminded him there had always been a
priest in the family. All her wits were awake. He was the one of the
family who had shown most aptitude for learning, and their cousin the
Bishop would be able to help him. What she would like would be to see
him parish priest of Tinnick. The parish was one of the best in the
diocese. Not a doubt of it, she was thinking at that moment of the
advantage this arrangement would be to her when she was directing the
affairs of the convent.

If there was no other, there was at least one woman in Ireland who was
interested in things. He had never met anybody less interested in
opinions or in ideas than Eliza. They had walked home together in
silence, at all events not saying much, and that very evening she left
the room immediately after supper. And soon after they heard sounds of
trunks being dragged along the passage; furniture was being moved, and
when she came downstairs she just said she was going to sleep with Mary.

'Oliver is going to have my room. He must have a room to himself on
account of his studies.'

On that she gathered up her sewing, and left him to explain. He felt
that it was rather sly of her to go away like that, leaving all the
explanation to him. She wanted him to be a priest, and was full of
little tricks. There was no time for thinking it over. There was only
just time to prepare for the examination. He worked hard, for his work
interested him, especially the Latin language; but what interested him
far more than his aptitude for learning whatever he made up his mind to
learn was the discovery of a religious vocation in himself. Eliza feared
that his interest in hermits sprang from a boyish taste for adventure
rather than from religious feeling, but no sooner had he begun his
studies for the priesthood, than he found himself overtaken and
overpowered by an extraordinary religious fervour and by a desire for
prayer and discipline. Never had a boy left home more zealous, more
desirous to excel in piety and to strive for the honour and glory of the
Church.

An expression of anger, almost of hatred, passed over Father Oliver's
face, and he turned from the lake and walked a few yards rapidly, hoping
to escape from memories of his folly; for he had made a great fool of
himself, no doubt. But, after all, he preferred his enthusiasms, however
exaggerated they might seem to him now, to the commonplace--he could not
call it wisdom--of those whom he had taken into his confidence. It was
foolish of him, no doubt, to have told how he used to go out in a boat
and measure the ground about Castle Island, thinking to build himself a
beehive hut out of the ruins. He knew too little of the world at that
time; he had no idea how incapable the students were of understanding
anything outside the narrow interests of an ecclesiastical career.
Anyhow, he had had the satisfaction of having beaten them in all the
examinations; and if he had cared to go in for advancement, he could
have easily got ahead of them all, for he had better brains and better
interest than any of them. When he last saw that ignorant brute Peter
Fahy, Fahy asked him if he still put pebbles in his shoes. It was to
Fahy he had confided the cause of his lameness, and Fahy had told on
him; he was ridiculously innocent in those days, and he could still see
them gathered about him, pretending not to believe that he kept a
cat-o'-nine-tails in his room, and scourged himself at night. It was Tom
Bryan who said that he wouldn't mind betting a couple of shillings that
Gogarty's whip wouldn't draw a squeal from a pig on the roadside. The
answer to that was: 'A touch will make a pig squeal: you should have
said an ass!' But at the moment he couldn't think of an answer.

No doubt everyone looked on him as a ninny, and they persuaded him to
prove to them that his whip was a real whip by letting Tom Bryan do the
whipping for him. Tom Bryan was a rough fellow, who ought to have been
driving a plough; a ploughman's life was too peaceful an occupation for
him--a drover's life would have suited him best, prodding his cattle
along the road with a goad; it was said that was how he maintained his
authority in the parish. The remembrance of the day he bared his back to
that fellow was still a bitter one. With a gentle smile he had handed
the whip to Tom Bryan, the very smile which he imagined the hermits of
old time used to wear. The first blow had so stunned him that he
couldn't cry out, and this blow was followed by a second which sent the
blood flaming through his veins, and then by another which brought all
the blood into one point in his body. He seemed to lose consciousness of
everything but three inches of back. Nine blows he bore without wincing;
the tenth overcame his fortitude, and he had reeled away from Tom Bryan.

Tom had exchanged the whip he had given him for a great leather belt;
that was why he had been hurt so grievously--hurt till the pain seemed
to reach his very heart. Tom had belted him with all his strength; and
half a dozen of Tom's pals were waiting outside the door, and they came
into the room, their wide mouths agrin, asking him how he liked it. But
they were unready for the pain his face expressed, and in the midst of
his agony he noticed that already they foresaw consequences, and he
heard them reprove Tom Bryan, their intention being to dissociate
themselves from him. Cowards! cowards! cowards!

They tried to help him on with his shirt, but he had been too badly
beaten, and Tom Bryan came up in the evening to ask him not to tell on
him. He promised, and he wouldn't have told if he could have helped it.
But some explanation had to be forthcoming--he couldn't lie on his
back. The doctor was sent for....

And next day he was told the President wished to see him. The President
was Eliza over again; hermits and hermitages were all very well in the
early centuries, but religion had advanced, and nowadays a steadfast
piety was more suited to modern requirements than pebbles in the shoes.
If it had been possible to leave for America that day he thought he
would have gone. But he couldn't leave Maynooth because he had been fool
enough to bare his back to Tom Bryan. He couldn't return home to tell
such a story as that. All Tinnick would be laughing at him, and Eliza,
what would she think of him? He wasn't such a fool as the Maynooth
students thought him, and he realized at once that he must stay in
Maynooth and live down remembrance of his folly. So, as the saying goes,
he took the bit between his teeth.

The necessity of living down his first folly, of creating a new idea of
himself in the minds of the students, forced him to apply all his
intelligence to his studies, and he made extraordinary progress in the
first years. The recollection of the ease with which he outdistanced his
fellow-students was as pleasant as the breezes about the lake, and his
thoughts dwelt on the opinion which he knew was entertained, that for
many years no one at Maynooth had shown such aptitude for scholarship.
He only had to look at a book to know more about it than his
fellow-students would know if they were to spend days over it. He won
honours. He could have won greater honours, but his conscience reminded
him that the gifts he received from God were not bestowed upon him for
the mere purpose of humiliating his fellow-students. He often felt then
that if certain talents had been given to him, they were given to him to
use for the greater glory of God rather than for his own glorification;
and his feeling was that there was nothing more hateful in God's sight
than intellectual, unless perhaps spiritual, pride, and his object
during his last years at Maynooth was to exhibit himself to the least
advantage.

It is strange how an idea enters the soul and remakes it, and when he
left Maynooth he used his influence with his cousin, the Bishop, to get
himself appointed to the poorest parish in Connaught. Eliza had to
dissemble, but he knew that in her heart she was furious with him. We
are all extraordinarily different one from another, and if we seem most
different from those whom we are most like, it is because we know
nothing at all about strangers. He had gone to Kilronan in spite of
Eliza, in spite of everyone, their cousin the Bishop included. He had
been very happy in Bridget Clery's cottage, so happy that he didn't know
himself why he ever consented to leave Kilronan.

No, it was not because he was too happy there. He had to a certain
extent outgrown his very delicate conscience.

II

A breeze rose, the forest murmured, a bird sang, and the sails of the
yacht filled. The priest stood watching her pass behind a rocky
headland, knowing now that her destination was Kilronan Abbey. But was
there water enough in the strait at this season of the year? Hardly
enough to float a boat of her size. If she stuck, the picnic-party would
get into the small boat, and, thus lightened, the yacht might be floated
into the other arm of the lake. 'A pleasant day indeed for a sail,' and
in imagination he followed the yacht down the lake, past its different
castles, Castle Carra and Castle Burke and Church Island, the island on
which Marban--Marban, the famous hermit poet, had lived.

It seemed to him strange that he had never thought of visiting the
ruined church when he lived close by at the northern end of the lake.
His time used to be entirely taken up with attending to the wants of his
poor people, and the first year he spent in Garranard he had thought
only of the possibility of inducing the Government to build a bridge
across the strait. That bridge was badly wanted. All the western side of
the lake was cut off from railway communication. Tinnick was the
terminus, but to get to Tinnick one had to go round the lake, either
by. the northern or the southern end, and it was always a question which
was the longer road--round by Kilronan Abbey or by the Bridge of Keel.
Many people said the southern road was shorter, but the difference
wasn't more than a mile, if that, and Father Oliver preferred the
northern road; for it took him by his curate's house, and he could
always stop there and give his horse a feed and a rest; and he liked to
revisit the abbey in which he had said Mass for so long, and in which
Mass had always been said for a thousand years, even since Cromwell had
unroofed it, the celebrant sheltered by an arch, the congregation
kneeling under the open sky, whether it rained or snowed.

The roofing of the abbey and the bridging of the strait were the two
things that the parish was really interested in. He tried when he was in
Kilronan to obtain the Archbishop's consent and collaboration; Moran was
trying now: he did not know that he was succeeding any better; and
Father Oliver reflected a while on the peculiar temperament of their
diocesan, and jumping down from the rock on which he had been sitting,
he wandered along the sunny shore, thinking of the many letters he had
addressed to the Board of Works on the subject of the bridge. The Board
believed, or pretended to believe, that the parish could not afford the
bridge; as well might it be urged that a cripple could not afford
crutches. Without doubt a public meeting should be held; and in some
little indignation Father Oliver began to think that public opinion
should be roused and organized.

It was for him to do this: he was the people's natural leader; but for
many months he had done nothing in the matter. Why, he didn't know
himself. Perhaps he needed a holiday; perhaps he no longer believed the
Government susceptible to public opinion; perhaps he had lost faith in
the people themselves! The people were the same always; the people never
change, only individuals change.

And at the end of the sandy spit, where some pines had grown and seeded,
he stood looking across the silvery lake wondering if his parishioners
had begun to notice the change that had come over him since Nora Glynn
left the parish, and as her name came into his mind he was startled out
of his reverie by the sound of voices, and turning from the lake, he saw
two wood-gatherers coming down a little path through the juniper-bushes.
He often hid himself in the woods when he saw somebody coming, but he
couldn't do so now without betraying his intention, and he stayed where
he was. The women passed on, bent under their loads. Whether they saw
him or not he couldn't tell; they passed near enough for him to
recognize them, and he remembered that they were in church the day he
alluded to Nora in his sermon. A hundred yards further on the women
unburdened and sat down to rest a while, and Father Oliver began to
consider what their conversation might be. His habit of wandering away
by himself had no doubt been noticed, and once it was noticed it would
become a topic of conversation. 'And what they do be saying now is,
"That he has never been the same man since he preached against the
schoolmistress, for what should he be doing by the lake if he wasn't
afraid that she made away with herself?" And perhaps they are right,' he
said, and walked up the shore, hoping that as soon as he was out of
sight the women would forget to tell when they returned home that they
had seen him walking by the lake.

All the morning he had been trying to keep Nora Glynn out of his mind,
but now, as he rambled, he could not put back the memory of the day he
met her for the first time, nearly two years ago, for to-day was the
fifteenth of May; it was about that time a little later in the year; it
must have been in June, for the day was very hot, and he had been riding
fast, not wishing to keep Catherine's dinner waiting, and as he pushed
his bicycle through the gate, he saw the great cheery man, Father Peter,
with a face like an apple, walking up and down under the sycamores
reading his breviary. It must have been in June, for the mowers were in
the field opposite, in the field known as the priest's field, though
Father Peter had never rented it. There had never been such weather in
Ireland before, and the day he rode his bicycle over to see Father Peter
seemed to him the hottest day of all. But he had heard of the new
schoolmistress's musical talents, and despite the heat of the day had
ridden over, so anxious was he to hear if Father Peter were satisfied
with her in all other respects. 'We shall be able to talk better in the
shade of the sycamores,' Father Peter said, and on this they crossed the
lawn, but not many steps were taken back and forth before Father Peter
began to throw out hints that he didn't think Miss Glynn was altogether
suited to the parish.

'But if you're satisfied with her discipline,' Father Oliver jerked out,
and it was all he could do to check himself from further snaps at the
parish priest, a great burly man who could not tell a minor from a major
chord, yet was venting the opinion that good singing distracted the
attention of the congregation at their prayers. He would have liked to
ask him if he was to understand that bad singing tended to a devotional
mood, but wishing to remain on good terms with his superior, he said
nothing and waited for Father Peter to state his case against the new
schoolmistress, which he seemed to think could be done by speaking of
the danger of young unmarried women in the parish. It was when they came
to the break in the trees that Father Peter nudged him and said under
his breath:

'Here is the young woman herself coming across the fields.'

He looked that way and saw a small, thin girl coming towards the stile.
She hopped over it as if she enjoyed the little jump into the road.
Father Peter called to her and engaged her in conversation; and he
continued to talk to her of indifferent things, no doubt with the view
to giving him an opportunity of observing her. But they saw her with
different eyes: whereas Father Peter descried in her one that might
become a mischief in the parish, he could discover no dangerous beauty
in her, merely a crumpled little face that nobody would notice were it
not for the eyes and forehead. The forehead was broad and well shapen
and promised an intelligence that the eyes were quick to confirm; round,
gray, intelligent eyes, smiling, welcoming eyes. Her accent caressed the
ear, it was a very sweet one, only faintly Irish, and she talked easily
and correctly, like one who enjoyed talking, laughing gaily, taking, he
was afraid, undue pleasure in Father Peter's rough sallies, without
heeding that he was trying to entrap her into some slight indiscretion
of speech that he could make use of afterwards, for he must needs
justify himself to himself if he decided to dismiss her.

As he had been asked to notice her he remarked her shining brown hair.
It frizzled like a furze-bush about her tiny face, and curled over her
forehead. Her white even teeth showed prettily between her lips. She was
not without points, but notwithstanding these it could not be said that
she deserved the adjective pretty; and he was already convinced that it
was not good looks that prejudiced her in Father Peter's eyes. Nor was
the excuse that her singing attracted too much attention an honest one.
What Father Peter did not like about the girl was her independent mind,
which displayed itself in every gesture, in the way she hopped over the
stile, and the manner with which she toyed with her parasol--a parasol
that seemed a little out of keeping with her position, it is true. A
very fine parasol it was; a blue silk parasol. Her independence betrayed
itself in her voice: she talked to the parish priest with due respect,
but her independent mind informed every sentence, even the smallest,
and that was why she was going to be dismissed from her post. It was
shameful that a grave injustice should be done to a girl who was
admittedly competent in the fulfilment of all her duties, and he had not
tried to conceal his opinion from Father Peter during dinner and after
dinner, leaving him somewhat earlier than usual, for nothing affronted
him more than injustice, especially ecclesiastical injustice.

As he rode his bicycle down the lonely road to Bridget's cottage, the
thought passed through his mind that if Nora Glynn were a stupid,
intelligent woman no objection would have been raised against her. 'An
independent mind is very objectionable to the ecclesiastic,' he said to
himself as he leaped off his bicycle.... 'Nora Glynn. How well suited
the name is to her. There is a smack in the name. Glynn, Nora Glynn,' he
repeated, and it seemed to him that the name belonged exclusively to
her.

A few days after this first meeting he met her about two miles from
Garranard; he was on his bicycle, she was on hers, and they both leaped
instinctively from their machines. What impressed him this time far more
than her looks was her happy, original mind. While walking beside her he
caught himself thinking that he had never seen a really happy face
before. But she was going to be sent away because she was happy and wore
her soul in her face.

They had seemed unable to get away from each other, so much had they to
say. He mentioned his brother James, who was doing well in America and
would perhaps one day send them the price of a harmonium. She told him
she couldn't play on the wheezy old thing at Garranard, and at the
moment he clean forgot that the new harmonium would avail her little,
since Father Peter was going to get rid of her; he only remembered it as
he got on his bicycle, and he returned home ready to espouse her cause
against anybody.

She must write to the Archbishop, and if he wouldn't do anything she
must write to the papers. Influence must be brought to bear, and Father
Peter must be prevented from perpetrating a gross injustice. He felt
that it would be impossible for him to remain Father Peter's curate if
the schoolmistress were sent away for no fault of hers, merely because
she wore a happy face. What Father Peter would have done if he had lived
no one would ever know. He might have dismissed her; even so the
injustice would have been slight compared with what had happened to her;
and the memory of the wrong that had been done to her put such a pain
into his heart that he seemed to lose sight of everything, till a fish
leaping in the languid lake awoke him, and he walked on, absorbed in the
memory of his mistake, his thoughts swinging back to the day he had met
her on the roadside, and to the events that succeeded their meeting.
Father Peter was taken ill, two days after he was dead, before the end
of the week he was in his coffin; and it was left to him to turn Nora
Glynn out of the parish. No doubt other men had committed faults as
grave as his; but they had the strength to leave the matter in the
hands of God, to say: 'I can do nothing, I must put myself in the hands
of God; let him judge. He is all wise.' He hadn't their force of
character. He believed as firmly as they did, but, for some reason which
he couldn't explain to himself, he was unable to leave the matter in
God's hands, and was always thinking how he could get news of her.

If it hadn't been for that woman, for that detestable Mrs. O'Mara, who
was the cause of so much evil-speaking in the parish!... And with his
heart full of hatred so black that it surprised him, he asked himself if
he could forgive that woman. God might, he couldn't. And he fell to
thinking how Mrs. O'Mara had long been a curse upon the parish. Father
Peter was more than once compelled to speak about her from the altar,
and to make plain that the stories she set going were untrue. Father
Peter had warned him, but warnings are no good; he had listened to her
convinced at the time that it was wrong and foolish to listen to
scandalmongers, but unable to resist that beguiling tongue, for Mrs.
O'Mara had a beguiling tongue--fool that he was, that he had been. There
was no use going over the wretched story again; he was weary of going
over it, and he tried to put it out of his mind. But it wouldn't be put
out of his mind, and in spite of himself he began to recall the events
of the fatal day. He had been out all the morning, walking about with an
engineer who was sent down by the Board of Works to consider the
possibility of building the bridge, and had just come in to rest.
Catherine had brought him a cup of tea; he was sitting by the window,
almost too tired to drink it. The door was flung open. If Catherine had
only asked him if he were at home to visitors, he would have said he
wasn't at home to Mrs. O'Mara, but he wasn't asked; the door was flung
open, and he found himself face to face with the parish magpie. And
before he could bless himself she began to talk to him about the bridge,
saying that she knew all about the engineer, how he had gotten his
appointment, and what his qualifications were. It is easy to say one
shouldn't listen to such gossips, but it is hard to shut one's ears or
to let what one hears with one ear out the other ear, for she might be
bringing him information that might be of use to him. So he listened,
and when the bridge, and the advantage of it, had been discussed, she
told him she had been staying at the convent. She had tales to tell
about all the nuns and about all the pupils. She told him that half the
Catholic families in Ireland had promised to send their daughters to
Tinnick if Eliza succeeded in finding somebody who could teach music and
singing. But Eliza didn't think there was anyone in the country
qualified for the post but Nora Glynn. If Mrs. O'Mara could be believed,
Eliza said that she could offer Nora Glynn more money than she was
earning in Garranard. Until then he had only half listened to Mrs.
O'Mara's chatter, for he disliked the woman--her chatter amused him only
as the chatter of a bird might; but when he heard that his sister was
trying to get his schoolmistress away from him he had flared up. 'Oh,
but I don't think that your schoolmistress would suit a convent school.
I shouldn't like my daughter--' 'What do you mean?' Her face changed
expression, and in her nasty mincing manner she began to throw out hints
that Nora Glynn would not suit the nuns. He could see that she was
concealing something--there was something at the back of her mind. Women
of her sort want to be persuaded; their bits of scandal must be dragged
from them by force; they are the unwilling victims who would say nothing
if they could help it. She had said enough to oblige him to ask her to
speak out, and she began to throw out hints about a man whom Nora used
to meet on the hillside (she wouldn't give the man's name, she was too
clever for that). She would only say that Nora had been seen on the
hillside walking in lonely places with a man. Truly a detestable woman!
His thoughts strayed from her for a moment, for it gave him pleasure to
recollect that he had defended his schoolmistress. Didn't he say: 'Now,
then, Mrs. O'Mara, if you have anything definite to say, say it, but I
won't listen to vague charges.' 'Charges--who is making charges?' she
asked, and he had unfortunately called her a liar. In the middle of the
row she dropped a phrase: 'Anyhow, her appearance is against her.' And
it was true that Nora Glynn's appearance had changed in the last few
months. Seeing that her words had a certain effect, Mrs. O'Mara quieted
down; and while he stood wondering if it could possibly be true that
Nora had deceived them, that she had been living in sin all these
months, he suddenly heard Mrs. O'Mara saying that he was lacking in
experience--which was quite true, but her way of saying it had roused
the devil in him. Who was she that she should come telling him that he
lacked experience? To be sure, he wasn't an old midwife, and that's what
Mrs. O'Mara looked like, sitting before him.

He had lost control of himself, saying, 'Now, will you get out of this
house, you old scandalmonger, or I'll take you by the shoulders and put
you out!' And he had thrown the front-door open. What a look she gave
him as she passed out! At that moment the clock struck three and he
remembered suddenly that the children were coming out of school at that
moment. It would have been better if he had waited. But he couldn't
wait: he'd have gone mad if he had waited; and he recalled how he had
jumped into the road, squeezed through the stile, and run across the
field. 'Why all this hurry?' he had asked himself.

She was locking up the desks; the children went by him, curtseying, and
he had to wait till the last one was past the door. Nora must have
guessed his errand, for her face noticeably hardened. 'I've seen Mrs.
O'Mara,' he blurted out, 'and she tells me that you've been seen walking
with some man on the hillside in lonely places.... Don't deny it if it
is true.' 'I'm not going to deny anything that is true.' How brave she
was! Her courage attracted him and softened his heart. But everything
was true, alas! Everything. She told him that her plans were to steal
out of the parish without saying a word to anyone, for she was
determined not to disgrace him or the parish. She was thinking of him in
all her trouble, and everything might have ended well if he had not
asked her who the man was. She would not say, nor give any reasons why
she wouldn't do so. Only this, that if the man had deserted her she
didn't want anybody to bring him back, if he could be brought back; if
the man were dead it were better to say nothing about him. 'But if it
were his fault?' 'I don't see that that would make any difference.'

They went out of the school-house talking in quite a friendly way. There
was a little drizzle in the air, and, opening her umbrella, she said,
'I'm afraid you'll get wet.' 'Get wet, get wet! what matter?' he had
answered impatiently, for the remark annoyed him. By the hawthorn-bush
he began to tell her again that it would relieve his mind to know who
the man was. She tried to get away from him, but he wouldn't let her go;
and catching her by the arm he besought her, saying that it would
relieve his mind. How many times had he said that? But he wasn't able to
persuade her, notwithstanding his insistence that as a priest of the
parish he had a right to know. No doubt she had some very deep reason
for keeping her secret, or perhaps his authoritative manner was the
cause of her silence. However this might be, any words would have been
better than 'it would relieve my mind to know who the man was.' 'Stupid,
stupid, stupid!' he muttered to himself, and he wandered from the
cart-track into the wood.

It was impossible to say now why he had wished to press her secret from
her. It would be unpleasant for him, as priest of the parish, to know
that the man was living in the parish; but it would be still more
unpleasant if he knew who the man was. Nora's seducer could be none
other than one of the young soldiers who had taken the fishing-lodge at
the head of the lake. Mrs. O'Mara had hinted that Nora had been seen
with one of them on the hill, and he thought how on a day like this she
might have been led away among the ferns. At that moment there came out
of the thicket a floating ball of thistle-down. 'It bloweth where it
listeth,' he said. 'Soldier or shepherd, what matter now she is gone?'
and rising to his feet and coming down the sloping lawn, overflowing
with the shade of the larches, he climbed through the hawthorns growing
out of a crumbled wall, and once at the edge of the lake, he stood
waiting for nothing seemingly but to hear the tiresome clanking call of
the stonechat, and he compared its reiterated call with the words
'atonement,' 'forgiveness,' 'death,' 'calamity,' words always clanking
in his heart, for she might be lying at the bottom of the lake, and some
day a white phantom would rise from the water and claim him.

His thoughts broke away, and he re-lived in memory the very agony of
mind he had endured when he went home after her admission that she was
with child. All that night, all next day, and for how many days? Would
the time ever come when he could think of her without a pain in his
heart? It is said that time brings forgetfulness. Does it? On Saturday
morning he had sat at his window, asking himself if he should go down
to see her or if he should send for her. There were confessions in the
afternoon, and expecting that she would come to confess to him, he had
not sent for her. One never knows; perhaps it was her absence from
confession that had angered him. His temper took a different turn that
evening. All night he had lain awake; he must have been a little mad
that night, for he could only think of the loss of a soul to God, and of
God's love of chastity. All night long he had repeated with variations
that it were better that all which our eyes see--this earth and the
stars that are in being--should perish utterly, be crushed into dust,
rather than a mortal sin should be committed; in an extraordinary
lucidity of mind he continued to ponder on God's anger and his own
responsibility towards God, and feeling all the while that there are
times when we lose control of our minds, when we are a little mad. He
foresaw his danger, but he could not do else than rise from his bed and
begin to prepare his sermon, for he had to preach, and he could only
preach on chastity and the displeasure sins against chastity cause to
God. He could think but of this one thing, the displeasure God must feel
against Nora and the seducer who had robbed her of the virtue God prized
most in her. He must have said things that he would not have said at any
other time. His brain was on fire that morning, and words rose to his
lips--he knew not whence nor how they came, and he had no idea now of
what he had said. He only knew that she left the church during his
sermon; at what moment he did not know, nor did he know that she had
left the parish till next day, when the children came up to tell him
there was no schoolmistress. And from that day to this no news of her,
nor any way of getting news of her.

His thoughts went to the hawthorn-trees, for he could not think of her
any more for the moment, and it relieved his mind to examine the green
pips that were beginning to appear among the leaves. 'The hawthorns will
be in flower in another week,' he said; and he began to wonder at the
beautiful order of the spring. The pear and the cherry were the first;
these were followed by the apple, and after the apple came the lilac,
the chestnut, and the laburnum. The forest trees, too, had their order.
The ash was still leafless, but it was shedding its catkins, and in
another fifteen days its light foliage would be dancing in the breeze.
The oak was last of all. At that moment a swallow flitted from stone to
stone, too tired to fly far, and he wondered whence it had come. A
cuckoo called from a distant hill; it, too, had been away and had come
back.

His eyes dwelt on the lake, refined and wistful, with reflections of
islands and reeds, mysteriously still. Rose-coloured clouds descended,
revealing many new and beautiful mountain forms, every pass and every
crest distinguishable. It was the hour when the cormorants come home to
roost, and he saw three black specks flying low about the glittering
surface; rising from the water, they alighted with a flutter of wings on
the corner wall of what remained of Castle Hag, 'and they will sleep
there till morning,' he said, as he toiled up a little path, twisting
through ferns and thorn-bushes. At the top of the hill was his house,
the house Father Peter had built. Its appearance displeased him, and he
stood for a long time watching the evening darkening, and the yacht
being towed home, her sails lowered, the sailors in the rowing-boat.
'They will be well tired before they get her back to Tinnick;' and he
turned and entered his house abruptly.

III

Catherine's curiosity was a worry. As if he knew why he hadn't come home
to his dinner! If she'd just finish putting the plates on the table and
leave him. Of course, there had been callers. One man, the man he
especially wished to see, had driven ten miles to see him. It was most
unfortunate, but it couldn't be helped; he had felt that morning that he
couldn't stay indoors--the business of the parish had somehow got upon
his nerves, but not because he had been working hard. He had done but
little work since she left the parish. Now was that story going to begin
again? If it did, he should go out of his mind; and he looked round the
room, thinking how a lonely evening breeds thoughts of discontent.

Most of the furniture in the room was Father Peter's. Father Peter had
left his curate his furniture, but the pretty mahogany bookcase and the
engravings upon the walls were Father Oliver's own taste; he had bought
them at an auction, and there were times when these purchases pleased
him. But now he was thinking that Father Peter must have known to whom
the parish would go at his death, for he could not have meant all his
furniture to be taken out of the house--'there would be no room for it
in Bridget Clery's cottage;' and Father Oliver sat thinking of the
evenings he used to spend with Father Peter. How often during those
evenings Father Peter must have said to himself, 'One day, Gogarty, you
will be sitting in my chair and sleeping in my bed.' And Father Oliver
pondered on his affection for the dead man. There were no differences of
opinion, only one--the neglected garden at the back of the house; and,
smiling sadly, Father Oliver remembered how he used to reprove the
parish priest.

'I'm afraid I'm too big and too fat and too fond of my pipe and my glass
of whisky to care much about carnations. But if you get the parish when
I'm gone, I'm sure you'll grow some beauties, and you'll put a bunch on
my grave sometimes, Gogarty.' The very ring of the dead man's voice
seemed to sound through the lonely room, and, sitting in Father Peter's
chair, with the light of Father Peter's lamp shining on his face and
hand, Father Oliver's thoughts flowed on. It seemed to him that he had
not understood and appreciated Father Peter's kindliness, and he
recalled his perfect good nature. 'Death reveals many things to us,' he
said; and he lifted his head to listen, for the silence in the house and
about the house reminded him of the silence of the dead, and he began to
consider what his own span of life might be. He might live as long as
Father Peter (Father Peter was fifty-five when he died); if so,
twenty-one years of existence by the lake's side awaited him, and these
years seemed to him empty like a desert--yes, and as sterile.
'Twenty-one years wondering what became of her, and every evening like
this evening--the same loneliness.'

He sat watching the hands of his clock, and a peaceful meditation about
a certain carnation that unfortunately burst its calyx was interrupted
by a sudden thought. Whence the thought came he could not tell, nor what
had put it into his head, but it had occurred to him suddenly that 'if
Father Peter had lived a few weeks longer he would have found means of
exchanging Nora Glynn for another schoolmistress, more suitable to the
requirements of the parish. If Father Peter had lived he would have done
her a grievous wrong. He wouldn't have allowed her to suffer, but he
would have done her a wrong all the same.' And it were better that a man
should meet his death than he should do a wrong to another. But he
wasn't contemplating his own death nor Nora's when this end to the
difficulty occurred to him. Our inherent hypocrisy is so great that it
is difficult to know what one does think. He surely did not think it
well that Father Peter had died, his friend, his benefactor, the man in
whose house he was living? Of course not. Then it was strange he could
not keep the thought out of his mind that Father Peter's death had saved
the parish from a great scandal, for if Nora had been dismissed he might
have found himself obliged to leave the parish.

Again he turned on himself and asked how such thoughts could come into
his mind. True, the coming of a thought into the consciousness is often
unexpected, but if the thought were not latent in the mind, it would
not arise out of the mind; and if Father Peter knew the base thoughts he
indulged in--yes, indulged in, for he could not put them quite out of
his mind--he feared very much that the gift of all this furniture
might--No, he was judging Father Peter ill: Father Peter was
incapable of a mean regret.

But who was he, he'd like to be told, that he should set himself up as
Father Peter's judge? The evil he had foreseen had happened. If Father
Peter felt that Nora Glynn was not the kind of schoolmistress the parish
required, should he not send her away? The need of the parish, of the
many, before the one. Moreover, Father Peter was under no obligation
whatsoever to Nora Glynn. She had been sent down by the School Board
subject to his approval. 'But my case is quite different. I chose her; I
decided that she was to remain.' And he asked himself if his decision
had come about gradually. No, he had never hesitated, but dismissed
Father Peter's prejudices as unworthy.... The church needed some good
music. But did he think of the church? Hardly at all. His first
consideration was his personal pleasure, and he wished that the best
choir in the diocese should be in his church, and Nora Glynn enabled him
to gratify his vanity. He made her his friend, taking pleasure in her
smiles, and in the fact that he had only to express a desire for it to
be fulfilled. After school, tired though she might be, she was always
willing to meet him in the church for choir practice. She would herself
propose to decorate the altar for feast-days. How many times had they
walked round the garden together gathering flowers for the altar! And it
was strange that she could decorate so well without knowing much about
flowers or having much natural taste for flowers.

Feeling he was doing her an injustice, he admitted that she had made
much progress under his guidance in her knowledge of flowers.

'But how did he treat her in the end, despite all her kindnesses?
Shamefully, shamefully, shamefully!' and getting up from his chair
Father Oliver walked across the room, and when he turned he drew his
hand across his eyes. The clock struck twelve. 'I shall be awake at
dawn,' he said, 'with all this story running in my head,' and he stopped
on the threshold of his bedroom, frightened at the sight of his bed. But
he had reached the stint of his sufferings, and that morning lay awake,
hardly annoyed at all by the black-birds' whistling, contentedly going
over the mistakes he had made--a little surprised, however, that the
remembrance of them did not cause him more pain. At last he fell asleep,
and when his housekeeper knocked at his door and he heard her saying
that it was past eight, he leaped out of bed cheerily, and sang a stave
of song as he shaved himself, gashing his chin, however, for he could
not keep his attention fixed on his chin, but must peep over the top of
the glass, whence he could see his garden, and think how next year he
would contrive a better arrangement of colour. It was difficult to stop
the bleeding, and he knew that Catherine would grumble at the state he
left the towels in (he should not have used his bath-towel); but these
were minor matters. He was happier than he had been for many a day.

The sight of strawberries on his breakfast-table pleased him; the man
who drove ten miles to see him yesterday called, and he shared his
strawberries with him in abundant spirit. The sunlight was exciting, the
lake called him, and it was pleasant to stride along, talking of the
bridge (at last there seemed some prospect of getting one). The
intelligence of this new inspector filled him with hope, and he
expatiated in the advantages of the bridge and many other things. Nor
did his humour seem to depend entirely on the companionship of his
visitor. It endured long after his visitor had left him, and very soon
he began to think that his desire to go away for a long holiday was a
passing indisposition of mind rather than a need. His holiday could be
postponed to the end of the year; there would be more leisure then, and
he would be better able to enjoy his holiday than he would be now.

His changing mind interested him, and he watched it like a vane, unable
to understand how it was that, notwithstanding his restlessness, he
could not bring himself to go away. Something seemed to keep him back,
and he was not certain that the reason he stayed was because the
Government had not yet sent a formal promise to build the bridge. He
could think of no other reason for delaying in Garranard; he certainly
wanted change. And then Nora's name came into his mind, and he meditated
for a moment, seeing the colour of her hair and the vanishing
expression of her eyes. Sometimes he could see her hand, the very
texture of its skin, and the line of the thumb and the forefinger. A cat
had once scratched her hand, and she had told him about it. That was
about two months before Mrs. O'Mara had come to tell him that shocking
story, two months before he had gone down to his church and spoken about
Nora in such a way that she had gone out of the parish. But was he going
to begin the story over again? He picked up a book, but did not read
many sentences before he was once more asking himself if she had gone
down to the lake, and if it were her spell that kept him in Garranard.
'The wretchedness of it all,' he cried, and fell to thinking that Nora's
spirit haunted the lake, and that his punishment was to be kept a
prisoner always. His imagination ran riot. Perhaps he would have to seek
her out, follow her all over the world, a sort of Wandering Jew, trying
to make atonement, and would never get any rest until this atonement was
made. And the wrong that he had done her seemed the only reality. It was
his elbow companion in the evening as he sat smoking his pipe, and every
morning he stood at the end of a sandy spit seeing nothing, hearing
nothing but her. One day he was startled by a footstep, and turned
expecting to see Nora. But it was only Christy, the boy who worked in
his garden.

'Your reverence, the postman overlooked this letter in the morning. It
was stuck at the bottom of the bag. He hopes the delay won't make any
difference.'

_From Father O'Grady to Father Oliver Gogarty._

'_June_ 1, 19--.

'DEAR FATHER GOGARTY,

'I am writing to ask you if you know anything about a young woman called
Nora Glynn. She tells me that she was schoolmistress in your parish and
organist in your church, and that you thought very highly of her until
one day a tale-bearer, Mrs. O'Mara by name, went to your house and told
you that your schoolmistress was going to have a baby. It appears that
at first you refused to believe her, and that you ran down to the school
to ask Miss Glynn herself if the story you had heard about her was a
true one. She admitted it, but on her refusal to tell you who was the
father of the child you lost your temper; and the following Sunday you
alluded to her so plainly in your sermon about chastity that there was
nothing for her but to leave the parish.

'There is no reason why I should disbelieve Miss Glynn's story; I am an
Irish priest like yourself, sir. I have worked in London among the poor
for forty years, and Miss Glynn's story is, to my certain knowledge, not
an uncommon one; it is, I am sorry to say, most probable; it is what
would happen to any schoolmistress in Ireland in similar circumstances.
The ordinary course is to find out the man and to force him to marry the
girl; if this fails, to drive the woman out of the parish, it being
better to sacrifice one affected sheep than that the whole flock should
be contaminated. I am an old man; Miss Glynn tells me that you are a
young man. I can therefore speak quite frankly. I believe the practice
to which I have alluded is inhuman and unchristian, and has brought
about the ruin of many an Irish girl. I have been able to rescue some
from the streets, and, touched by their stories, I have written
frequently to the priest of the parish pointing out to him that his
responsibility is not merely local, and does not end as soon as the
woman has passed the boundary of his parish. I would ask you what you
think your feelings would be if I were writing to you now to tell you
that, after some months of degraded life, Miss Glynn had thrown herself
from one of the bridges into the river? That might very well have been
the story I had to write to you; fortunately for you, it is another
story.

'Miss Glynn is a woman of strong character, and does not give way
easily; her strength of will has enabled her to succeed where another
woman might have failed. She is now living with one of my parishioners,
a Mrs. Dent, of 24, Harold Street, who has taken a great liking to her,
and helped her through her most trying time, when she had very little
money and was alone and friendless in London. Mrs. Dent recommended her
to some people in the country who would look after her child. She
allowed her to pay her rent by giving lessons to her daughter on the
piano. One thing led to another; the lady who lived on the drawing-room
floor took lessons, and Miss Glynn is earning now, on an average, thirty
shillings per week, which little income will be increased if I can
appoint her to the post of organist in my church, my organist having
been obliged to leave me on account of her health. It was while talking
to Mrs. Dent on this very subject that I first heard Miss Glynn's name
mentioned.

'Mrs. Dent was enthusiastic about her, but I could see that she knew
little about her lodger's antecedents, except that she came from
Ireland. She was anxious that I should engage her at once, declaring
that I could find no one like her, and she asked me to see her that
evening. I went, and the young woman impressed me very favourably. She
came to my church and played for me. I could see that she was an
excellent musician, and there seemed to be no reason why I should not
engage her. I should probably have done so without asking any further
questions--for I do not care to inquire too closely into a woman's past,
once I am satisfied that she wishes to lead an honourable life--but Miss
Glynn volunteered to tell me what her past had been, saying it was
better I should hear it from her than from another. When she had told me
her sad story, I reminded her of the anxiety that her disappearance from
the parish would cause you. She shook her head, saying you did not care
what might happen to her. I assured her that such a thing was not the
case, and begged of her to allow me to write to you; but I did not
obtain her consent until she began to see that if she withheld it any
longer we might think she was concealing some important fact. Moreover,
I impressed upon her that it was right that I should hear your story,
not because I disbelieved hers--I take it for granted the facts are
correctly stated--but in the event of your being able to say something
which would put a different complexion upon them.

'Yours very sincerely,

'MICHAEL O'GRADY.'

IV

After reading Father O'Grady's letter he looked round, fearing lest
someone should speak to him. Christy was already some distance away;
there was nobody else in sight; and feeling he was safe from
interruption, he went towards the wood, thinking of the good priest who
had saved her (in saving her Father O'Grady had saved him), and of the
waste of despair into which he would have drifted certainly if the news
had been that she had killed herself. He stood appalled, looking into
the green wood, aware of the mysterious life in the branches; and then
lay down to watch the insect life among the grass--a beetle pursuing its
little or great destiny. But he was too exalted to remain lying down;
the wood seemed to beckon him, and he asked if the madness of the woods
had overtaken him. Further on he came upon a chorus of finches singing
in some hawthorn-trees, and in Derrinrush he stopped to listen to the
silence that had suddenly fallen. A shadow floated by; he looked up: a
hawk was passing overhead, ready to attack rat or mouse moving among the
young birches and firs that were springing up in the clearance. The
light was violent, and the priest shaded his eyes. His feet sank in
sand, he tripped over tufts of rough grass, and was glad to get out of
this part of the wood into the shade of large trees.

Trees always interested him, and he began to think of their great roots
seeking the darkness, and of their branches lifting themselves in love
towards the light. He and these trees were one, for there is but one
life, one mother, one elemental substance out of which all has come.
That was it, and his thoughts paused. Only in union is there happiness,
and for many weary months he had been isolated, thrown out; but to-day
he had been drawn suddenly into the general life, he had become again
part of the general harmony, and that was why he was so happy. No better
explanation was forthcoming, and he did not think that a better one was
required--at least, not to-day.

He noticed with pleasure that he no longer tried to pass behind a
thicket nor into one when he met poor wood-gatherers bent under their
heavy loads. He even stopped to speak to a woman out with her children;
the three were breaking sticks across their knees, and he encouraged
them to talk to him. But without his being aware of it, his thoughts
hearkened back, and when it came to his turn to answer he could not
answer. He had been thinking of Nora, and, ashamed of his
absentmindedness, he left them tying up their bundles and went towards
the shore, stopping many times to admire the pale arch of evening sky
with never a wind in it, nor any sound but the cries of swallows in full
pursuit. 'A rememberable evening,' he said, and there was such a
lightness in his feet that he believed, or very nearly, that there were
wings on his shoulders which he only had to open to float away whither
he might wish to go.

His brain overflowed with thankfulness and dreams of her forgiveness,
and at midnight he sat in his study still thinking, still immersed in
his happiness; and hearing moths flying about the burning lamp he
rescued one for sheer love of her, and later in the evening the illusion
of her presence was so intense that he started up from his chair and
looked round for her. Had he not felt her breath upon his cheek? Her
very perfume had floated past! There ... it had gone by again! No, it
was not she--only the syringa breathing in the window.

_From Father Oliver Gogarty to Father O'Grady._

'GARRANARD, BOHOLA,

'_June_ 2, 19--.

'DEAR FATHER O'GRADY,

'Miss Glynn's disappearance caused me, as you rightly surmise, the
gravest anxiety, and it is no exaggeration to say that whenever her name
was mentioned, my tongue seemed to thicken and I could not speak.

'I wish I could find words to thank you for what you have done. I am
still under the influence of the emotion that your letter caused me, and
can only say that Miss Glynn has told her story truthfully. As to your
reproofs, I accept them, they are merited; and I thank you for your kind
advice. I am glad that it comes from an Irishman, and I would give much
to take you by the hand and to thank you again and again.'

Getting up, he walked out of the room, feeling in a way that a calmer
and more judicious letter would be preferable. But he must answer Father
O'Grady, and at once; the letter would have to go. And in this resolve
he walked out of his house into his garden, and stood there wondering at
the flower-life growing so peacefully, free from pain.

The tall Madonna lilies flourished like sculpture about the porch, and
he admired their tall stems and leaves and carven blossoms, thinking how
they would die without strife, without complaint. The briar filled the
air with a sweet, apple-like smell; and far away the lake shone in the
moonlight, just as it had a thousand years ago when the raiders returned
to their fortresses pursued by enemies. He could just distinguish Castle
Island, and he wondered what this lake reminded him of: it wound in and
out of gray shores and headlands, fading into dim pearl-coloured
distance, and he compared it to a shroud, and then to a ghost, but
neither comparison pleased him. It was like something, but the image he
sought eluded him. At last he remembered how in a dream he had seen Nora
carried from the lake; and now, standing among the scent of the flowers,
he said: 'She has always been associated with the lake in my thoughts,
yet she escaped the lake. Every man,' he continued, 'has a lake in his
heart.' He had not sought the phrase, it had come suddenly into his
mind. Yes, 'Every man has a lake in his heart,' he repeated, and
returned to the house like one dazed, to sit stupefied until his
thoughts took fire again, and going to his writing-table he drew a sheet
of paper towards him, feeling that he must write to Nora. At last he
picked up the pen.

_From Father Oliver Gogarty to Miss Nora Glynn._

'GAHRANARD, BOHOLA,

'_June_ 2, 19--.

'DEAR MISS GLYNN,

'I must write to thank you for your kindness in asking Father O'Grady to
send me a letter. It appears that you were afraid I might be anxious
about you, and I have been very anxious. I have suffered a great deal
since you left, and it is a great relief to my mind to hear that you are
safe and well. I can understand how loath you were to allow Father
O'Grady to write to me; he doesn't say in his letter that you have
forgiven me, but I hope that your permission to him to relieve my
anxiety by a letter implies your forgiveness. Father O'Grady writes very
kindly; it appears that everybody is kind except me. But I am thinking
of myself again, of the ruin that it would have been if any of the
terrible things that have happened to others had happened to you. But I
cannot think of these things now; I am happy in thinking that you are
safe.'

The evening post was lost, but if he were to walk to Bohola he would
catch the morning mail, and his letter would be in her hands the day
after to-morrow. It was just three miles to Bohola, and the walk there,
he thought, would calm the extraordinary spiritual elation that news of
Nora had kindled in his brain. The darkness of the night and the almost
round moon high in the southern horizon suited his mood. Once he was
startled by a faint sigh coming from a horse looking over a hedge, and
the hedgerows were full of mysterious little cracklings. Something white
ran across the road. 'The white belly of a stoat,' he thought; and he
walked on, wondering what its quest might be.

The road led him through a heavy wood, and when he came out at the other
end he stopped to gaze at the stars, for already a grayness seemed to
have come into the night. The road dipped and turned, twisting through
gray fields full of furze-bushes, leading to a great hill, on the other
side of which was Bohola. When he entered the village he wondered at the
stillness of its street. 'The dawn is like white ashes,' he said, as he
dropped his letters into the box; and he was glad to get away from the
shadowy houses into the country road. The daisies and the dandelions
were still tightly shut, and in the hedgerow a half-awakened chaffinch
hopped from twig to twig, too sleepy to chirrup. A streak of green
appeared in the east, and the death-like stillness was broken by
cock-crows. He could hear them far away in the country and close by, and
when he entered his village a little bantam walked up the road shrilling
and clapping his wings, advancing to the fight. The priest admired his
courage, and allowed him to peck at his knees. Close by Tom Mulhare's
dorking was crowing hoarsely, 'A hoarse bass,' said the priest, and at
the end of the village he heard a bird crowing an octave higher, and
from the direction he guessed it must be Catherine Murphy's bird.
Another cock, and then another. He listened, judging their voices to
range over nearly three octaves.

The morning was so pure, the air so delicious, and its touch so
exquisite on the cheek, that he could not bear even to think of a close
bedroom and the heat of a feather bed. He went into his garden, and
walking up and down he appreciated the beauty of every flower, none
seeming to him as beautiful as the anemones, and he thought of Nora
Glynn living in a grimy London lodging, whereas he was here amid many
flowers--anemones blue, scarlet, and purple, their heads bent down on
their stalks. New ones were pushing up to replace the ones that had
blown and scattered the evening before. The gentians were not yet open,
and he thought how they would look in a few hours--bluer than the
mid-day sky. He passed through the wicket, and stood on the hill-top
watching the mists sinking lower. The dawn light strengthened--the sky
filled with pale tints of emerald, mauve, and rose. A cormorant opened
his wings and flew down the lake, his fellows followed soon after; but
Father Oliver stood on the hill-top waiting for daybreak. At last a red
ball appeared behind a reddish cloud; its colour changed to the colour
of flame, paled again, and at four flared up like a rose-coloured
balloon.

The day had begun, and he turned towards his house. But he couldn't
sleep; the house was repellent, and he waited among the thorn-bushes and
ferns. Of what use to lie in one's bed when sleep is far and will not
be beckoned? and his brain being clear as day he went away to the woods
and watersides, saying: 'Life is orientated like a temple; there are in
every existence days when life streams down the nave, striking the
forehead of the God.' And during his long life Father Oliver always
looked back upon the morning when he invaded the pantry and cut large
slices of bread, taking the butter out of the old red crock, with a
little happy sadness in his heart. He wrapped the slices in paper and
wandered without thought for whither he was going, watching the birds in
the branches, interested in everything. He was fortunate enough to catch
sight of an otter asleep on a rock, and towards evening he came upon a
wild-duck's nest in the sedge; many of the ducklings had broken their
shells; these struggled after the duck; but there were two prisoners,
two that could not escape from their shells, and, seeing their lives
would be lost if he did not come to their aid, he picked the shells away
and took them to the water's edge, for he had heard Catherine say that
one could almost see little ducks growing when they had had a drop of
water. The old duck swam about uttering a whistling sound, her cry that
her ducklings were to join her. And thinking of the lives he had saved,
he felt a sudden regret that he had not come upon the nest earlier, when
Christy brought him Father O'Grady's letter.

The yacht appeared between the islands, her sails filled with wind, and
he began to dream how she might cast anchor outside the reeds. A sailor
might draw a pinnace alongside, and he imagined a woman being helped
into it and rowed to the landing-place. But the yacht did not cast
anchor; her helm was put up, her boom went over, and she went away on
another tack. He was glad of his dream, though it lasted but a moment,
and when he looked up a great gull was watching him. The bird had come
so near that he could see the small round head and the black eyes; as
soon as he stirred it wheeled and floated away. Many other little
adventures happened before the day ended. A rabbit crawled by him
screaming, for he could run no longer, and lay waiting for the weasel
that appeared out of the furze. What was to be done? Save it and let the
weasel go supperless? At eight the moon rose over Tinnick, and it was a
great sight to see the yellow mass rising above the faint shores; and
while he stood watching the moon an idea occurred to him that held him
breathless. His sister had written to him some days ago asking if he
could recommend a music-mistress to her. It was through his sister that
he might get Nora back to her country, and it was through his sister
that he might make atonement for the wrong he had done. The letter must
be carefully worded, for nuns understood so little, so estranged were
they from the world. As for his sister Mary, she would not understand at
all--she would oppose him; but Eliza was a practical woman, and he had
confidence in her good sense.

He entered the house, and, waving Catherine aside, who reminded him that
he had had nothing to eat since his dinner the day before, he went to
his writing-table and began his letter.

_From Father Oliver Gogarty to the Mother Abbess, Tinnick Convent._

'GARRANARD, BOHOLA,

'_June 3_, 19--.

'MY DEAR ELIZA,

'I hope you will forgive me for having delayed so long to answer your
letter, but I could not think at the moment of anybody whom I could
recommend as music-mistress, and I laid the letter aside, hoping that an
idea would come to me. Well, an idea has come to me. I do not think you
will find--'

The priest stopped, and after thinking a while he laid down his pen and
got up. The sentence he had been about to write was, 'I do not think you
will find anyone better than Miss Glynn.' But he would have to send
Father O'Grady's letter to his sister, and even with Father O'Grady's
letter and all that he might add of an explanation, she would hardly be
able to understand; and Eliza might show the letter to Mary, who was
prejudiced. Father Oliver walked up and down the room thinking.... A
personal interview would be better than the letter, for in a personal
interview he would be able to answer his sister's objections, and
instead of the long letter he had intended to write he wrote a short
note, adding that he had not seen them for a long time, and would drive
over to-morrow afternoon.

V

The southern road was the shorter, but he wanted to see Moran and to
hear when he proposed to begin to roof the abbey. Father Oliver thought,
moreover, that he would like to see the abbey for a last time in its
green mantle of centuries. The distance was much the same--a couple of
miles shorter by the southern road, no doubt, but what are a couple of
miles to an old roadster? Moreover, the horse would rest in Jimmy
Maguire's stable whilst he and Moran rambled about the ruin. An hour's
rest would compensate the horse for the two extra miles.

He tapped the glass; there was no danger of rain. For thirty days there
had been no change--only a few showers, just enough to keep the country
going; and he fell asleep thinking of the drive round the lake from
Garranard to Tinnick in the sunlight and from Tinnick to Garranard in
the moonlight.

He was out of bed an hour before his usual time, calling to Catherine
for hot water. His shaving, always disagreeable, sometimes painful, was
a joyous little labour on this day. Stropping his razor, he sang from
sheer joy of living. Catherine had never seen him spring on the car with
so light a step. And away went the old gray pulling at the bridle,
little thinking of the twenty-five Irish miles that lay before him.

The day was the same as yesterday, the meadows drying up for want of
rain; and there was a thirsty chirruping of small birds in the
hedgerows. Everywhere he saw rooks gaping on the low walls that divided
the fields. The farmers were complaining; but they were always
complaining--everyone was complaining. He had complained of the
dilatoriness of the Board of Works, and now for the first time in his
life he sympathized a little with the Board. If it had built the bridge
he would not be enjoying this long drive; it would be built by-and-by;
he couldn't feel as if he wished to be robbed of one half-hour of the
long day in front of him; and he liked to think it would not end for him
till nine o'clock.

'These summer days are endless,' he said.

After passing the strait the lake widened out. On the side the priest
was driving the shore was empty and barren. On the other side there were
pleasant woods and interspaces and castles. Castle Carra appeared, a
great ivy-grown ruin showing among thorn-bushes and ash-trees, at the
end of a headland. In bygone times the castle must have extended to the
water's edge, for on every side fragments of arches and old walls were
discovered hidden away in the thickets. Father Oliver knew the headland
well and every part of the old fortress. Many a time he had climbed up
the bare wall of the banqueting-hall to where a breach revealed a secret
staircase built between the walls, and followed the staircase to a long
straight passage, and down another staircase, in the hope of finding
matchlock pistols. Many a time he had wandered in the dungeons, and
listened to old stories of oubliettes.

The moat which once cut the neck of land was now dry and overgrown; the
gateway remained, but it was sinking--the earth claimed it. There were
the ruins of a great house a little way inland, to which no doubt the
descendants of the chieftain retired on the decline of brigandage; and
the rough hunting life of its semi-chieftains was figured by the
gigantic stone fox on a pillar in the middle of the courtyard and the
great hounds on either side of the gateway.

Castle Carra must have been the strongest castle in the district of
Tyrawley, and it was built maybe by the Welsh who invaded Ireland in the
thirteenth century, perhaps by William Barrett himself, who built
certainl y the castle on the island opposite to Father Oliver's house.

William Fion (i.e., the Fair) Barrett landed somewhere on the west
coast, and no doubt came up through the great gaps between Slieve Cairn
and Slieve Louan--it was not likely that he la nded on the east coast;
he could hardly have marched his horde across Ireland--and Father Oliver
imagined the Welshmen standing on the very hill on which his house now
stood, and Fion telling his followers to build a castle on each island.
Patsy Murphy, w ho knew more about the history of the country than
anybody, thought that Castle Carra was of later date, and spoke of the
Stantons, a fierce tribe. Over yonder was the famous causeway, and the
gross tragedy that was enacted there he yesterday heard from the
wood-cutter, William's party of Welshmen were followed by other
Welshmen--the Cusacks, the Petits, and the Brownes; and these in time
fell out with the Barretts, and a great battle fought, the Battle of
Moyne, in 1281, in which William Barrett was killed. But in spite of
their defeat, the Barretts held the upper hand of the country for many a
long year, and the priest began to smile, thinking of the odd story the
old woodman had told him about the Barretts' steward, Sgnorach bhuid
bhearrtha, 'saving your reverence's presence,' the old man said, and,
unable to translate the words into English fit for the priest's ears, he
explained that they meant a glutton and a lewd fellow.

The Barretts sent Sgnorach bhuid bhearrtha to collect rents from the
Lynotts, another group of Welshmen, but the Lynotts killed him and
threw his body into a well, called ever afterwards Tobar na Sgornaighe
(the Well of the Glutton), near the townland of Moygawnagh, Barony of
Tyrawley. To avenge the murder of their steward, the Barretts assembled
an armed force, and, having defeated the Lynotts and captured many of
them, they offered their prisoners two forms of mutilation: they were
either to be blinded or castrated. After taking counsel with their wise
men, the Lynotts chose blindness; for blind men could have sons, and
these would doubtless one day revenge the humiliation that was being
passed upon them. A horrible story it was, for when their eyes were
thrust out with needles they were led to a causeway, and those who
crossed the stepping-stones without stumbling were taken back; and the
priest thought of the assembled horde laughing as the poor blind men
fell into the water.

The story rambled on, the Lynotts plotting how they could be revenged on
the Barretts, telling lamely but telling how the Lynotts, in the course
of generations, came into their revenge. 'A badly told story,' said the
priest, 'with one good incident in it,' and, instead of trying to
remember how victory came to the Lynotts, Father Oli ver's eyes strayed
over the landscape, taking pleasure in the play of light along sides and
crests of the hills.

The road followed the shore of the lake, sometimes turning inland to
avoid a hill or a bit of bog, but returning back again to the shore,
finding its way through the fields, if they could be called fields--a
little grass and some hazel-bushes growing here and there between the
rocks. Under a rocky headland, lying within embaying shores, was Church
Island, some seven or eight acres, a handsome wooded island, the largest
in the lake, with the ruins of a church hidden among the tall trees,
only an arch of it remaining, but the paved path leading from the church
to the hermit's cell could be followed. The hermit who used this paved
path fourteen hundred years ago was a poet; and Father Oliver knew that
Marban loved 'the shieling that no one knew save his God, the ash-tree
on the hither side, the hazel-bush beyond it, its lintel of honeysuckle,
the wood shedding its mast upon fat swine;' and on this sweet day he
found it pleasanter to think of Ireland's hermits than of Ireland's
savage chieftains always at war, striving against each other along the
shores of this lake, and from island to island.

His thoughts lingered in the seventh and eighth centuries, when the arts
were fostered in monasteries--the arts of gold-work and illuminated
missals--'Ireland's halcyon days,' he said; a deep peace brooded, and
under the guidance of the monks Ireland was the centre of learning when
England was in barbarism. The first renaissance was the Irish, centuries
before a gleam showed in Italy or in France. But in the middle of the
eighth century the Danes arrived to pillage the country, and no sooner
were they driven out than the English came to continue the work of
destruction, and never since has it ceased.' Father Oliver fell to
thinking if God were reserving the bright destiny for Ireland which he
withheld a thousand years ago, and looked out for the abbey that
Roderick, King of Connaught, built in the twelfth century.

It stood on a knoll, and in the distance, almost hidden in bulrushes,
was the last arm of the lake. 'How admirable! how admirable!' he said.
Kilronan Abbey seemed to bid him remember the things that he could never
forget; and, touched by the beauty of the legended ruins, his doubts
return ed to him regarding the right of the present to lay hands on
these great wrecks of Ireland's past. He was no longer sure that he did
not side with the Archbishop, who was against the restoration--for
entirely insufficient reasons, it was true. 'Put a roof,' Father Oliver
said, 'on the abbey, and it will look like any other church, and
another link will be broken. "Which is the better--a great memory or
some trifling comfort?"' A few moments after the car turned the corner
and he caught sight of Father Moran, 'out for his morning's walk,' he
said; and he compared Moran's walk up and down the highroad with his own
rambles along the lake shores and through the pleasant woods of
Carnecun.

For seven years Father Oliver had walked up and down that road, for
there was nowhere else for him to walk; he walked that road till he
hated it, but he did not think that he had suffered from the loneliness
of the parish as much as Moran. He had been happier than Moran in
Bridget Clery's cottage--a great idea enabled him to forget every
discomfort; and 'we are never lonely as long as our idea is with us,' he
ejaculated. 'But Moran is a plain man, without ideas, enthusiasms, or
exaltations. He does riot care for reading, or for a flower garden, only
for drink. Drink gives him dreams, and man must dream,' he said.

He knew that his curate was pledged to cure himself, and believed he was
succeeding; but, all the same, it was terrible to think that the
temptation might overpower him at any moment, and that he might st agger
helpless through the village--a very shocking example to everybody.

The people were prone enough in that direction, and for a priest to give
scandal instead of setting a good example was about as bad as anything
that could happen in the parish. But what was he to do? There was no
hard-and-fast rule about anything, and Father Oliver felt that Moran
must have his chance.

'I was beginning to think we were never going to see you again;' and
Father Moran held out a long, hard hand to Father Oliver. 'You'll put up
your horse? Christy, will you take his reverence's horse? You'll stay
and have some dinner with me?'

'I can't stay more than half an hour. I'm on my way to Tinnick; I've
business with my sister, and it will take me some time.'

'You have plenty of time.'

'No, I haven't? I ought to have taken the other road; I'm late as it
is.'

'But you will come into the house, if only for a few minutes.'

Father Oliver had taught Bridget Clery cleanliness; at least, he had
persuaded her to keep the f owls out of the kitchen, and he had put a
paling in front of the house and made a little garden--an unassuming
one, it is true, but a pleasant spot of colour in the summer-time--and
he wondered how it was that Father Moran was not ashamed of its
neglected state, nor of the widow's kitchen. These things were, after
all, immaterial. What was important was that he should find no faintest
trace of whisky in Moran's room. It was a great relief to him not to
notice any, and no doubt that was why Moran insisted on bringing him
into the house. The specifications were a pretext. He had to glance at
them, however.

'No doubt if the abbey is to be roofed at all the best roof is the one
you propose.'

'Then you side with the Archbishop?'

'Perhaps I do in a way, but for different reasons. I know very well that
the people won't kneel in the rain. Is it really true that he opposes
the roofing of the abbey on account of the legend? I have heard the
legend, but there are many variants. Let's go to the abbey and you'll
tell the story on the way.'

'You see, he'll only allow a portion of the abbey to be roofed.'

'You don't mean that he is so senile and superstitious as that? Then the
reason of his opposition really is that he believes his death to be
implicit in the roofing of Kilronan.'

'Yes; he thinks that;' and the priests turned out of the main road.

'How beautiful it looks!' and Father Oliver stopped to admire.

The abbey stood on one of the lower slopes, on a knoll overlooking rich
water-meadows, formerly abbatial lands.

'The legend says that the abbey shall be roofed when a De Stanton is
Abbot, and the McEvillys were originally De Stantons; they changed their
name in the fifteenth century on account of a violation of sanctuary
committed by them. A roof shall be put on those walls, the legend says,
when a De Stanton is again Abbot of Kilronan, and the Abbot shall be
slain on the highroad.'

'And to save himself from a violent death, he will only allow you to
roof a part of the abbey. Now, what reason does he give for such an
extraordinary decision?'

'Are Bishops ever expected to have reasons?'

The priests laughed, and Father Oliver said: 'We might appeal to Rome.'

'A lot of good that would do us. Haven't we all heard the Archbishop say
that any of his priests who appeals to Rome against him will get the
worst of it?'

'I wonder that he dares to defy popular opinion in this way.'

'What popular opinion is there to defy? Wasn't Patsy Donovan saying to
me only yesterday that the Archbishop was a brave man to be letting any
roof at all on the abbey? And Patsy is the best-educated man in this
part of the country.'

'People will believe anything.'

'Yes, indeed.'

And the priests stopped at the grave of Seaghan na Soggarth, or 'John of
the Priests,' and Father Oliver told Father Moran how a young priest,
who had lost his way in the mountains, had fallen in with Seaghan na
Soggarth. Seaghan offered to put him into the right road, but instead of
doing so he led him to his house, and closed the door on him, and left
him there tied hand and foot. Seaghan's sister, who still clung to
religion, loosed the priest, and he fled, passing Seaghan, who was on
his way to fetch the soldiers. Seaghan followed after, and on they went
like hare and hound till they got to the abbey. There the priest, who
could run no further, turned on his foe, and they fought until the
priest got hold of Seaghan's knife and killed him with it.

'But you know the story. Why am I telling it to you?'

'I only know that the priest killed Seaghan. Is there any more of it?'

'Yes, there is more.'

And Father Oliver went on to tell it, though he did not feel that Father
Moran would be interested in the legend; he would not believe that it
had been prophesied that an ash-tree should grow out of the buried head,
and that one of the branches should take root and pierce Seaghan's
heart. And he was right in suspecting his curate's lack of sympathy.
Father Moran at once objected that the ash-tree had not yet sent down a
branch to pierce the priest-killer's heart.

'Not yet; but this branch nearly touches the ground, and there's no
saying that it won't take root in a few years.'

'But his heart is there no longer.'

'Well, no,' said Father Oliver, 'it isn't; but if one is to argue that
way, no one would listen to a story at all.'

Father Moran held his peace for a little while, and then he began
talking about the penal times, telling how religion in Ireland was
another form of love of country, and that, if Catholics were intolerant
to every form of heresy, it was because they instinctively felt that the
questioning of any dogma would mean some slight subsidence from the idea
of nationality that held the people together. Like the ancient Jews, the
Irish believed that the faith of their forefathers could bring them into
their ultimate inheritance; this was why a proselytizer was hated so
intensely.

'More opinions,' Father Oliver said to himself. 'I wonder he can't
admire that ash-tree, and be interested in the story, which is quaint
and interesting, without trying to draw an historical parallel between
the Irish and the Jews. Anyhow, thinking is better than drinking,' and
he jumped on his car. The last thing he heard was Moran's voice saying,
'He who betrays his religion betrays his country.'

'Confound the fellow, bothering me with his preaching on this fine
summer's day! Much better if he did what he was told, and made up his
mind to put the small green slates on the abbey, and not those coarse
blue things which will make the abbey look like a common barn.'

Then, shading his eyes with his hand, he peered through the sun haze,
following the shapes of the fields. The corn was six inches high, and
the potatoes were coming into blossom. True, there had been a scarcity
of water, but they had had a good summer, thanks be to God, and he
thought he had never seen the country looking so beautiful. And he loved
this country, this poor Western plain with shapely mountains enclosing
the horizon. Ponies were feeding between the whins, and they raised
their shaggy heads to watch the car passing. In the distance cattle were
grazing, whisking the flies away. How beautiful was everything--the
white clouds hanging in the blue sky, and the trees! There were some
trees, but not many--only a few pines. He caught glimpses of the lake
through the stems; tears rose to his eyes, and he attributed his
happiness to his native land and to the thought that he was living in
it. Only a few days ago he wished to leave it--no, not for ever, but for
a time; and as his old car jogged through the ruts he wondered how it
was that he had ever wished to leave Ireland, even for a single minute.

'Now, Christy, which do you reckon to be the shorter road?'

'The shorter road, your reverence, is the Joycetown road, but I doubt if
we can get the car through it.'

'How is that?'

And the boy answered that since the Big House had been burnt the road
hadn't been kept in repair.

'But,' said Father Oliver, 'the Big House was burnt seventy years ago.'

'Well, your reverence, you see, it was a good road then, but the last
time I heard of a car going that way was last February.'

'And if a car got through in February, why can't we get through on the
first of June?'

'Well, your reverence, there was the storm, and I do be hearing that the
trees that fell across the road then haven't been removed yet.'

'I think we might try the road, for all that, for though if we have to
walk the greater part of it, there will be a saving in the end.'

'That's true, your reverence, if we can get the car through; but if we
can't we may have to come all the way back again.'

'Well, Christy, we'll have to risk that. Now, will you be turning the
horse up the road? And I'll stop at the Big House--I've never been
inside it. I'd like to see what it is like.'

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