When he came up to the cottage the little gate was open, and he knew that somebody was there besides the usual inmates. His heart at once told him that it was the priest. His fate had brought him face to face with his two enemies at once! His breath almost left him, but he knew that he could not run away. However bitter might be the vials of wrath he must encounter them. So he knocked at the outer door and, after his custom, walked into the passage. Then he knocked again at the door of the one sitting-room,--the door which hitherto he had always passed with the conviction that he should bring delight,--and for a moment there was no answer. He heard no voice and he knocked again. The door was opened for him, and as he entered he met Father Marty. But he at once saw that there was another man in the room, seated in an arm chair near the window. Kate, his Kate, was not there, but Mrs. O'Hara was standing at the head of the sofa, far away from the window and close to the door. "It is Mr. Neville," said the priest. "It is as well that he should come in."
"Mr. Neville," said the man rising from his chair, "I am informed that you are a suitor for the hand of my daughter. Your prospects in life are sufficient, sir, and I give my consent."
The man was a thing horrible to look at, tall, thin, cadaverous, ill-clothed, with his wretched and all but ragged overcoat buttoned close up to his chin, with long straggling thin grizzled hair, red-nosed, with a drunkard's eyes, and thin lips drawn down at the corners of the mouth. This was Captain O'Hara; and if any man ever looked like a convict returned from work in chains, such was the appearance of this man. This was the father of Fred's Kate;--the man whom it was expected that he, Frederic Neville, the future Earl of Scroope, should take as his father-in-law! "This is Captain O'Hara," said the priest. But even Father Marty, bold as he was, could not assume the voice with which he had rebuked Neville as he walked with him, now nearly a month ago, down to the beach.
Neville did feel that the abomination of the man's appearance strengthened his position. He stood looking from one to another, while Mrs. O'Hara remained silent in the corner. "Perhaps," said he, "I had better not be here. I am intruding."
"It is right that you should know it all," said the priest. "As regards the young lady it cannot now alter your position. This gentleman must be--arranged for."