After this the priest was gentler in his manner to the young man, and it almost seemed as though the Earl was driven from his decision. He ceased, at any rate, to assert that Kate should never be Countess of Scroope, and allowed both the mother and Father Marty to fall into a state of doubt as to what his last resolve might be. It was decided that he should go down to Ennistimon and sleep upon it. On the morrow he would come up again, and in the meantime he would see Father Marty at the inn. There were many prayers addressed to him both by the mother and the priest, and such arguments used that he had been almost shaken. "But you will come to-morrow?" said the mother, looking at the priest as she spoke.
"I will certainly come to-morrow."
"No doubt he will come to-morrow," said Father Marty,--who intended to imply that if Lord Scroope escaped out of Ennistimon without his knowledge, he would be very much surprised.
"Shall I not say a word to Kate?" the Earl asked as he was going.
"Not till you are prepared to tell her that she shall be your wife," said the priest.
But this was a matter as to which Kate herself had a word to say. When they were in the passage she came out from her room, and again rushed into her lover's arms. "Oh, Fred, let me told,--let me told. I will go with you anywhere if you will take me."
"He is to come up to-morrow, Kate," said her mother.
"He will be here early to-morrow, and everything shall be settled then," said the priest, trying to assume a happy and contented tone.
"Dearest Kate, I will be here by noon," said Lord Scroope, returning the girl's caresses.
"And you will not desert me?"
"No, darling, no." And then he went, leaving the priest behind him at the cottage.
Father Marty was to be with him at the inn by eight, and then the whole matter must be again discussed. He felt that he had been very weak, that he had made no use,--almost no use at all,--of the damning fact of the Captain's existence. He had allowed the priest to talk him down in every argument, and had been actually awed by the girl's mother, and yet he was determined that he would not yield. He felt more strongly than ever, now that he had again seen Kate O'Hara, that it would not be right that such a one as she should be made Countess of Scroope. Not only would she disgrace the place, but she would be unhappy in it, and would shame him. After all the promises that he had made he could not, and he would not, take her to Scroope as his wife. How could she hold up her head before such women as Sophie Mellerby and others like her? It would be known by all his friends that he had been taken in and swindled by low people in the County Clare, and he would be regarded by all around him as one who had absolutely ruined himself. He had positively resolved that she should not be Countess of Scroope, and to that resolution he would adhere. The foul-mouthed priest had called him a coward, but he would be no coward. The mother had said that she would have his life. If there were danger in that respect he must encounter it. As he returned to Ennistimon he again determined that Kate O'Hara should never become Countess of Scroope.