"You are coming back to Ennis?" asked Kate.
"Coming back;--I should think so. Barney Morony wouldn't be quite so quiet if I was not coming back. I'm to dine with Father Marty at Liscannor on the l5th of January, to meet another priest from Milltown Malbay,--the best fellow in the world he says."
"That's Father Creech;--not half such a good fellow, Mr. Neville, as Father Marty himself."
"He couldn't be better. However, I shall be here then, and if I have any luck you shall have another skin of the same size by that time." Then he shook hands with them both, and there was a feeling that the time would be blank till he should be again there in his sailor's jacket.
When the second week in January had come Mrs. O'Hara heard that the gallant young officer of the 20th was back in Ennis, and she well remembered that he had told her of his intention to dine with the priest. On the Sunday she saw Mr. Marty after mass, and managed to have a few words with him on the road while Kate returned to the cottage alone. "So your friend Mr. Neville has come back to Ennis," she said.
"I didn't know that he had come. He promised to dine with me on Thursday,--only I think nothing of promises from these young fellows."
"He told me he was to be with you."
"More power to him. He'll be welcome. I'm getting to be a very ould man, Misthress O'Hara; but I'm not so ould but I like to have the young ones near me."
"It is pleasant to see a bright face like his."
"That's thrue for you, Misthress O'Hara. I like to see 'em bright and ganial. I don't know that I ever shot so much as a sparrow, meself, but I love to hear them talk of their shootings, and huntings, and the like of that. I've taken a fancy to that boy, and he might do pretty much as he plazes wid me."
"And I too have taken a fancy to him, Father Marty."
"Shure and how could you help it?"
"But he mustn't do as he pleases with me." Father Marty looked up into her face as though he did not understand her. "If I were alone, as you are, I could afford, like you, to indulge in the pleasure of a bright face. Only in that case he would not care to let me see it."
"Bedad thin, Misthress O'Hara, I don't know a fairer face to look on in all Corcomroe than your own,--that is when you're not in your tantrums, Misthress O'Hara." The priest was a privileged person, and could say what he liked to his friend; and she understood that a priest might say without fault what would be very faulty if it came from any one else.