He knew that he had given a pledge to his uncle to contract no marriage that would be derogatory to his position. He knew also that he had given a pledge to the priest that he would do no harm to Kate O'Hara. He felt that he was bound to keep each pledge. As for that sweet, darling girl, would he not sooner lose his life than harm her? But he was aware that an adventurous life was always a life of difficulties, and that for such as live adventurous lives the duty of overcoming difficulties was of all duties the chief. Then he got into his canoe, and, having succeeded in killing two gulls on the Drumdeirg rocks, thought that for that day he had carried out his purpose as a man of adventure very well.

During February and March he was often on the coast, and hardly one visit did he make which was not followed by a letter from Castle Quin to Scroope Manor. No direct accusation of any special fault was made against him in consequence. No charge was brought of an improper hankering after any special female, because Lady Scroope found herself bound in conscience not to commit her correspondent; but very heavy injunctions were laid upon him as to his general conduct, and he was eagerly entreated to remember his great duty and to come home and settle himself in England. In the mean time the ties which bound him to the coast of Clare were becoming stronger and stronger every day. He had ceased now to care much about seeing Father Marty, and would come, when the tide was low, direct from Lahinch to the strand beneath the cliffs, from whence there was a path through the rocks up to Ardkill. And there he would remain for hours,--having his gun with him, but caring little for his gun. He told himself that he loved the rocks and the wildness of the scenery, and the noise of the ocean, and the whirring of the birds above and below him. It was certainly true that he loved Kate O'Hara.

"Neville, you must answer me a question," said the mother to him one morning when they were out together, looking down upon the Atlantic when the wind had lulled after a gale.

"Ask it then," said he.

"What is the meaning of all this? What is Kate to believe?"

"Of course she believes that I love her better than all the world besides,--that she is more to me than all the world can give or take. I have told her at least, so often, that if she does not believe it she is little better than a Jew."

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