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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesLight O' The Morning - Chapter 2. "Some More Of The Land Must Go"
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Light O' The Morning - Chapter 2. 'Some More Of The Land Must Go' Post by :upnorth Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :1645

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Light O' The Morning - Chapter 2. "Some More Of The Land Must Go"

CHAPTER II. "SOME MORE OF THE LAND MUST GO"

Squire O'Shanaghgan was a tall, powerfully built man, with deep-set eyes and rugged, overhanging brows; his hair was of a grizzled gray, very thick and abundant; he had a shaggy beard, too, and a long overhanging mustache. He entered the north parlor still more noisily than Nora had done. The dogs yelped with delight, and flung themselves upon him.

"Down, Creena! down, Cushla!" he said. "Ah, then, Nora, they are as bewitching as yourself, little woman. What beauties they are growing, to be sure!"

"I reared them," said Nora. "I am proud of them both. At one time I thought Creena could not live; but look at her now--her coat as black as jet, and so silky."

"Shut the door, won't you, Patrick?" said his wife.

"Bless me! I forgot," said the Squire. He crossed the room, and, with an effort after quietness, closed the door with one foot; then he seated himself by his wife's side.

"Better, Eileen?" he said, looking at her anxiously.

"I wish you would not call me Eileen," she said. "I hate to have my name Irishized."

The Squire's eyes filled with suppressed fun.

"Ah, but you are half-Irish, whether you like it or not," he said. "Is not she, colleen? Bless me, what a day it has turned out! We are getting summer weather at last. What do you say to going for a drive, Eileen--Ellen, I mean? Black Bess is eating her head off in the stables. I want to go as far as Murphy's place, and you might as well come with me."

"And I too?" said Nora.

"To be sure, child. Why not? You run round to the stables, Norrie, and give the order."

Nora instantly left the room, the dogs following her.

"What ails her?" said the Squire, looking at his wife.

"Ails her, Pat? Nothing that I know of."

"Then you know very little," was his answer. "I never see that sort of anxious frown between the colleen's brows without knowing there's mischief in the wind. Somebody has been worrying her, and I won't have it." He put down his great hand with a thump on the nearest table.

"Don't, Pat. You quite shatter my nerves."

"Bless you and your nerves, Ellen. I want to give them all possible consideration; but I won't have Light o' the Morning worried."

"You'll spoil that girl; you'll rue it yet."

"Bless her heart! I couldn't spoil her; she's unspoilable. Did you ever see a sweeter bit of a thing, sound to the core, through and through?"

"Sweet or not," said the mother, "she has got to learn her lesson of life; and it is no good to be too tender with her; she wants a little bracing."

"You have been trying that on--eh?"

"Well, not exactly, Pat; but you cannot expect me to keep all our troubles to ourselves. There's that mortgage, you know."

"Bother the mortgage!" said the Squire. "Why do you harp on things the way you do? I'll manage it right enough. I am going round to see Dan Murphy now; he won't be hard on an old friend."

"Yes; but have you not to pay up?"

"Some day, I suppose."

"Now listen, Patrick. Do be reasonable. Whenever I speak of money you fight shy of the subject."

"I don't--I don't," said the Squire restlessly; "but I am dead tired. I have had a ride of thirty miles; I want my tea. Where is Nora? Do you mind my calling her? She'll order Pegeen to bring the tea here."

"No; I won't have it. We'll have tea in the dining room presently. I thought you objected to afternoon tea."

"So I do, as a rule; but I am mighty dhry--thirsty, I mean, Ellen. Well, all the better; I'll get more to drink in the dining room. Order the tea as soon as you please."

"Ring the bell, Patrick."

The Squire strode to the mantelpiece, pulled a bell-cord which hung from the ceiling, a distant bell was heard ringing in noisy fashion, and a moment afterward Pegeen put in her head.

"Come right in, Margaret," said her mistress.

"Aw! then, I'm sorry, ma'am, I forgot," said the girl. She came in, hiding both her hands under her apron.

Mrs. O'Shanaghgan uttered an impatient sigh.

"It is impossible to train these creatures," she said under her breath. Aloud, she gave her order in quiet, impassive tones:

"Tea as soon as possible in the west parlor, and sound the gong when it is ready."

"Why, then, wasn't I getting it?" said Pegeen. She left the room, leaving the door wide open.

"Just like them," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan. "When you want the door open they invariably shut it, and when you want it shut they leave it open."

"They do that in England too, as far as I can tell," said the Squire, with a slightly nettled tone in his voice.

"Well, now, Patrick, while we have a few moments to ourselves, I want to know what you mean to do about that ten thousand pounds?"

"I am sure, Ellen, it is more than I can tell you."

"You will have to pay it, you know."

"I suppose so, some day. I'll speak to Dan to-night. He is the last man to be hard on a chap."

"Some more of the land must go," said the wife in a fretful tone. "Our rent-roll will be still smaller. There will be still less money to educate Terence. I had set my heart on his going to Cambridge or Oxford. You quite forget that he is eighteen now."

"Cambridge or Oxford!" said the Squire. "Not a bit of it. My son shall either go to Old Trinity or he does without a university education. Cambridge or Oxford indeed! You forget, Ellen, that the lad is my son as well as yours."

"I don't; but he is half an Englishman, three parts an Englishman, whatever his fatherhood," said the Squire's wife in a tone of triumph.

"Well, well! he is Terence O'Shanaghgan, for all that, and he will inherit this old place some day."

"Much there will be for him to inherit."

Eager steps were heard on the gravel, and the next instant Nora entered by the open window.

"I have given the order," she said; "Angus will have the trap round in a quarter of an hour."

"That's right, my girl; you didn't let time drag," said her father.

"Angus wants you and mother to be quite ready, for he says Black Bess is nearly off her head with spirit. Now, then, mother, shall I go upstairs and bring down your things?"

"I don't mind if you do, Nora; my back aches a good bit."

"We'll put the air-cushion in the trap," said the Squire, who, notwithstanding her fine-lady airs, had a great respect and admiration for his wife. "We'll make you right cozy, Ellen, and a rattle through the air will do you a sight of good."

"May I drive, father?" said Nora.

"You, little one? Suppose you bring Black Bess down on her knees? That horse is worth three hundred pounds, if she's worth a penny."

"Do you think I would?" said the girl reproachfully. "Now, dad, that is about the cruelest word you have said to your Nora for many a day."

"Come and give me a hug, colleen," said the Squire.

Nora ran to him, clasped her arms round his neck, and kissed him once or twice. He had moved away to the other end of the room, and now he looked her full in the face.

"You are fretting about something?"

"Not I--not I," said the girl; but she flushed.

"Listen to me, colleen," said the Squire; "if it is that bit of a mortgage, you get it right out of your head. It's not going to worry _me_. I am going this very evening to have a talk with Dan."

"Oh, if it is Dan Murphy you owe it to," said the girl.

"Ah, he's all right; he's the right sort; a chip of the old block--eh? He wouldn't be hard on a brother in adversity?"

"He wouldn't if he could help it," said Nora; but the cloud had not left her sensitive face. Then, seeing that father looked at her with intense anxiety, she made a valiant effort.

"Of course, I believe in you," she said; "and, indeed, what does the loss of money matter while we are together?"

"Right you are! right you are!" said the Squire, with a laugh. He clapped her on the shoulder. "Trust Light o' the Morning to look at things in the right direction," he said.

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