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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesLight O' The Morning - Chapter 12. A Feather-Bed House
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Light O' The Morning - Chapter 12. A Feather-Bed House Post by :upnorth Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :3220

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Light O' The Morning - Chapter 12. A Feather-Bed House

CHAPTER XII. A FEATHER-BED HOUSE

Before she went to sleep that night Nora wrote a tiny note to her father:

"DEAREST DAD:

"For the sake of your Light o' the Morning, leave poor Andy Neil in his little cottage until I come back again from England. Do, dear dad; this is the last wish of Nora before she goes away.

"YOUR COLLEEN."

She thought and thought, and felt that she could not have expressed herself better. Fear would never influence the Squire; but he would do a good deal for Nora. She laid the letter just where she knew he would see it when he entered his ramshackle study on the following day; and the next morning, with her arms clasped round his neck and her kisses on his cheeks, she gave him one hearty hug, one fervent "God bless you, dad," and rushed after her mother.

The outside car was ready at the door. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan was already mounted. Nora sprang up, and they were rattling off into the world, "to seek my fortune," thought the girl, "or rather the fortune of him I love best."

The Squire, with his grizzled locks and his deep-set eyes, stood in the porch to watch Nora and her mother as they drove away.

"I'll be back in a twinkling, father; never you fret," called out his daughter, and then a turn in the road hid him from view.

"Why, Nora, what are you crying for?" said her mother, who turned round at that moment, and encountered the full gaze of the large dark-blue eyes swimming in tears.

"Oh, nothing. I'll be all right in a moment," was the answer, and then the sunshine broke all over the girl's charming face; and before they reached the railway station Nora was chatting to her mother as if she had not a care in the world.

Her first visit to Dublin and the excitement of getting really pretty dresses made the next two or three days pass like a flash. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan with money in her pocket was a very different woman from Mrs. O'Shanaghgan without a penny. She enjoyed making Nora presentable, and had excellent taste and a keen eye for a bargain. She fitted up her daughter with a modest but successful wardrobe, bought her a proper trunk to hold her belongings, and saw her on board the steamer for Holyhead.

The crossing was a rough one, but the Irish girl did not suffer from seasickness. She stood leaning over the taffrail chatting to the captain, who thought her one of the most charming passengers he ever had to cross in the _Munster_; and when they arrived at the opposite side, Mr. Hartrick was waiting for his niece. He often said since that he would never forget his first sight of Nora O'Shanaghgan. She was wearing a gray tweed traveling dress, with a little gray cap to match; the slender young figure, the rippling black hair, and the brilliant face flashed for an instant on the tired vision of the man of business; then there came the eager outstretching of two hands, and Nora had kissed him because she could not help herself.

"Oh, I am so glad to see you, Uncle George!" The words, the action, the whole look were totally different from what his daughters would have said or done under similar circumstances. He felt quite sure that his sister's description of Nora was right in the main; but he thought her charming. Drawing her hand through his arm, he took her to the railway station, where the train was already waiting to receive its passengers. Soon they were flying in _The Wild Irish Girl to Euston. Nora was provided with innumerable illustrated papers. Mr. Hartrick took out a little basket which contained sandwiches, wine, and different cakes, and fed her with the best he could procure. He did not ask her many questions, not even about the Castle or her own life. He was determined to wait for all these things. He read something of her story in her clear blue eyes; but he would not press her for her confidence. He was anxious to know her a little better.

"She is Irish, though, and they all exaggerate things so dreadfully," was his thought. "But I'll be very good to the child. What a contrast she is to Terence! Not that Terence is scarcely Irish; but anyone can see that this child has more of her father than her mother in her composition."

They arrived at Euston; then there were fresh changes; a cab took them to Waterloo, where they once again entered the train.

"Tired, my dear niece?" said her uncle as he settled her for the final time in another first-class compartment.

"Not at all. I am too excited to be tired," was her eager answer. And then he smiled at her, arranged the window and blind to her liking, and they started once more on their way.

Mr. Hartrick lived in a large place near Weybridge, and Nora had her first glimpse of the lovely Surrey scenery. A carriage was waiting for the travelers when they reached their destination--a carriage drawn by a pair of spirited grays. Nora thought of Black Bess, and secretly compared the grays to the disadvantage of the latter. But she was determined to be as sweet and polite and English as her mother would desire. For the first time in her whole existence she was feeling a little shy. She would have been thoroughly at home on a dog cart, or on her favorite outside car, or on the back of Black Bess, who would have carried her swift as the wind; but in the landau, with her uncle seated by her side, she was altogether at a loss.

"I don't like riches," was her inward murmur. "I feel all in silken chains, and it is not a bit pleasant; but how dear mammy--oh, I must think of her as mother--how mother would enjoy it all!"

The horses were going slowly uphill, and now they paused at some handsome iron gates. These were opened by a neatly dressed woman, who courtesied to Mr. Hartrick, and glanced with curiosity at Nora. The carriage bowled rapidly down a long avenue, and drew up before a front door. A large mastiff rose slowly, wagged his tail, and sniffed at Nora's dress as she descended.

"Come in, my dear; come in," said her uncle. "We are too late for dinner, but I have ordered supper. You will want a good meal and then bed. Where are all the others? Where are you, Molly? Where are you, Linda? Your Irish cousin Nora has come."

A door to the left was quickly opened, and a graceful-looking lady, in a beautiful dress of black silk and quantities of coffee lace, stood on the threshold.

"Is this Nora?" she said. "Welcome, my dear little girl." She went up to Nora, laid one hand on her shoulder, and kissed her gravely on the forehead. There was a staid, sober sort of solemnity about this kiss which influenced Nora and made a lump come into her throat.

This gracious English lady was very charming, and she felt at once that she would love her.

"The child is tired, Grace," said her husband to Mrs. Hartrick. "Where are the girls? Why are they not present?"

"Molly has been very troublesome, and I was obliged to send her to her room," was her reply; "but here is Terence. Terence, your sister has come."

"Oh, Terry!" cried Nora.

The next moment Terence, in full evening dress, and looking extremely manly and handsome, appeared upon the scene. Nora forgot everything else when she saw the familiar face; she ran up to her brother, flung her arms round his neck, and kissed him over and over.

"Oh, it is a sight for sore eyes to see you!" she cried. "Oh, Terry, how glad, how glad I am that you are here!"

"Hush! hush! Nonsense, Nora. Try to remember this is an English house," whispered Terence; but he kissed her affectionately. He was glad to see her, and he looked at her dress with marked approval. "She will soon tame down, and she looks very pretty," was his thought.

Just then Linda was seen coming downstairs.

"Has Nora come?" called out her sweet, high-bred voice. "How do you do, Nora? I am so glad to see you. If you are half as nice as Terence, you will be a delightful addition to our party."

"Oh, but I am not the least bit like Terence," said Nora. She felt rather hurt; she did not know why.

Linda was a very fair girl. She could not have been more than fifteen years of age, and was not so tall as Nora; but she had almost the manners of a woman of the world, and Nora felt unaccountably shy of her.

"Now take your cousin up to her room. Supper will be ready in a quarter of an hour," said Mrs. Hartrick. "Come, George; I have something to say to you."

Mr. and Mrs. Hartrick disappeared into the drawing-room. Linda took Nora's hand. Nora glanced at Terence, who turned on his heel and went away.

"See you presently, sis," he called out in what he considered a very manly tone; and Nora felt her heart, as she expressed it, sink down into her boots as she followed Linda up the richly carpeted stairs. Her feet sank into the velvety pile, and she hated the sensation.

"It is all a sort of feather-bed house," she said to herself, "and I hate a feather-bed house. Oh, I can understand my dad better than ever to-night; but how mother would enjoy this!"

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