"I suppose he'll come up here again," said the mother; but to this Kate made no answer. "He is to sleep at Father Marty's I fancy, and he can hardly do that without paying us a visit."
"The days are short and he'll want all his time for the boating," said Kate with a little pout.
"He'll find half-an-hour, I don't doubt. Shall you be glad to see him, Kate?"
"I don't know, mother. One is glad almost to see any one up here. It's as good as a treat when old Corcoran comes up with the turf."
"But Mr. Neville is not like old Corcoran, Kate."
"Not in the least, mother. I do like Mr. Neville better than Corcoran, because you see with Corcoran the excitement is very soon over. And Corcoran hasn't very much to say for himself."
"And Mr. Neville has?"
"He says a great deal more to you than he does to me, mother."
"I like him very much. I should like him very much indeed if there were no danger in his coming."
"That he should steal your heart away, my own, my darling, my child." Then Kate, instead of answering, got up and threw herself at her mother's knees, and buried her face in her mother's lap, and Mrs. O'Hara knew that that act of larceny had already been perpetrated.
And how should it have been otherwise? But of such stealing it is always better that no mention should be made till the theft has been sanctified by free gift. Till the loss has been spoken of and acknowledged, it may in most cases be recovered. Had Neville never returned from Scroope, and his name never been mentioned by the mother to her daughter, it may be that Kate O'Hara would not have known that she had loved him. For a while she would have been sad. For a month or two, as she lay wakeful in her bed she would have thought of her dreams. But she would have thought of them as only dreams. She would have been sure that she could have loved him had any fair ending been possible for such love; but she would have assured herself that she had been on her guard, and that she was safe in spite of her dreams. But now the flame in her heart had been confessed and in some degree sanctioned, and she would foster it rather than quench it. Even should such a love be capable of no good fortune, would it not be better to have a few weeks of happy dreaming than a whole life that should be passionless? What could she do with her own heart there, living in solitude, with none but the sea gulls to look at her? Was it not infinitely better that she should give it away to such a young god as this than let it feed upon itself miserably? Yes, she would give it away;--but might it not be that the young god would not take the gift?