On the next morning after breakfast Neville was taken into his uncle's chamber, but there was an understanding that there was to be no conversation on disagreeable subjects on this occasion. His aunt remained in the room while he was there, and the conversation was almost confined to the expression of thanks on the part of the Earl to his nephew for coming, and of hopes on the part of the nephew that his uncle might soon be well. One matter was mooted as to which no doubt much would be said before Neville could get away. "I thought it better to make arrangements to stay a fortnight," said Fred,--as though a fortnight were a very long time indeed.

"A fortnight!" said the Earl.

"We won't talk of his going yet," replied Lady Scroope.

"Supposing I had died, he could not have gone back in a fortnight," said the Earl in a low moaning voice.

"My dear uncle, I hope that I may live to see you in your own place here at Scroope for many years to come." The Earl shook his head, but nothing more was then said on that subject. Fred, however, had carried out his purpose. He had been determined to let them understand that he would not hold himself bound to remain long at Scroope Manor.

Then he wrote a letter to his own Kate. It was the first time he had addressed her in this fashion, and though he was somewhat of a gallant gay Lothario, the writing of the letter was an excitement to him. If so, what must the receipt of it have been to Kate O'Hara! He had promised her that he would write to her, and from the moment that he was gone she was anxious to send in to the post-office at Ennistimon for the treasure which the mail car might bring to her. When she did get it, it was indeed a treasure. To a girl who really loves, the first love letter is a thing as holy as the recollection of the first kiss. "May I see it, Kate?" said Mrs. O'Hara, as her daughter sat poring over the scrap of paper by the window.

"Yes, mamma,--if you please." Then she paused a moment. "But I think that I had rather you did not. Perhaps he did not mean me to shew it." The mother did not urge her request, but contented herself with coming up behind her child and kissing her. The reader, however, shall have the privilege which was denied to Mrs. O'Hara.

DEAREST KATE, I got here all alive yesterday at four. I came on as fast as ever I could travel, and hardly got a mouthful to eat after I left Limerick. I never saw such beastliness as they have at the stations. My uncle is much better,--so much so that I shan't remain here very long. I can't tell you any particular news,--except this, that that old cat down at Castle Quin,--the one with the crisp-curled wig,--must have the nose of a dog and the ears of a cat and the eyes of a bird, and she sends word to Scroope of everything that she smells and hears and sees. It makes not the slightest difference to me,--nor to you I should think. Only I hate such interference. The truth is old maids have nothing else to do. If I were you I wouldn't be an old maid.

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