It might be that the young man was a ravenous wolf, but his manners were not wolfish. Had Mrs. O'Hara been a princess, supreme in her own rights, young Neville could not have treated her or her daughter with more respect. At first Kate had wondered at him, but had said but little. She had listened to him, as he talked to her mother and the priest about the cliffs and the birds and the seals he had shot, and she had felt that it was this, something like this, that was needed to make life so sweet that as yet there need be no longing, no thought, for eternity. It was not that all at once she loved him, but she felt that he was a thing to love. His very appearance on the cliff, and the power of thinking of him when he was gone, for a while banished all tedium from her life. "Why should you shoot the poor gulls?" That was the first question she asked him; and she asked it hardly in tenderness to the birds, but because with the unconscious cunning of her sex she understood that tenderness in a woman is a charm in the eyes of a man.

"Only because it is so difficult to get at them," said Fred. "I believe there is no other reason,--except that one must shoot something."

"But why must you?" asked Mrs. O'Hara.

"To justify one's guns. A man takes to shooting as a matter of course. It's a kind of institution. There ain't any tigers, and so we shoot birds. And in this part of the world there ain't any pheasants, and so we shoot sea-gulls."

"Excellently argued," said the priest.

"Or rather one don't, for it's impossible to get at them. But I'll tell you what, Father Marty,"--Neville had already assumed the fashion of calling the priest by his familiar priestly name, as strangers do much more readily than they who belong to the country,--"I'll tell you what, Father Marty,--I've shot one of the finest seals I ever saw, and if Morony can get him at low water, I'll send the skin up to Mrs. O'Hara."

"And send the oil to me," said the priest. "There's some use in shooting a seal. But you can do nothing with those birds,--unless you get enough of their feathers to make a bed."

This was in October, and before the end of November Fred Neville was, after a fashion, intimate at the cottage. He had never broken bread at Mrs. O'Hara's table; nor, to tell the truth, had any outspoken, clearly intelligible word of love been uttered by him to the girl. But he had been seen with them often enough, and the story had become sufficiently current at Liscannor to make Lady Mary Quin think that she was justified in sending her bad news to her friend Lady Scroope. This she did not do till Fred had been induced, with some difficulty, to pass a night at Castle Quin. Lady Mary had not scrupled to ask a question about Miss O'Hara, and had thought the answer very unsatisfactory. "I don't know what makes them live there, I'm sure. I should have thought you would have known that," replied Neville, in answer to her question.

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