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HOME > Short Stories > Light O' The Morning > CHAPTER XII. — A FEATHER-BED HOUSE.
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 Before she went to sleep that night Nora wrote a tiny note to her father:  
“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.
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.
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