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HOME > Short Stories > Light O' The Morning > CHAPTER XXXIV. — A DARING DEED.
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 Having failed to get any help from John Finnigan, Nora returned to the Castle. As she drove quickly home she was very silent. Even loquacious Molly did not care to interrupt her thoughts. As soon as they reached the Castle she turned to her cousin and spoke quickly.  
“Go to the barn and look after father, Molly. Talk as many naughty words as ever you like; make him laugh; keep him occupied. After dinner I shall probably want your aid again. In the meantime you will help me best by taking father off my hands.”
“And I desire nothing better,” answered Molly. “I love the Squire; it is the height of entertainment, as he would call it, to talk to him.”
Molly accordingly ran off. The Squire was now well enough to sit up in a great easy-chair made of straw, which had been carted over from Cronane for his special benefit, for the padded and velvet-covered chairs of the Castle would not at all have suited his inclinations. He sat back in the depths of his chair, which creaked at his every movement, and laughed long and often at Molly's stories.
“But where's Light o' the Morning herself?” he said after a pause. “Why don't she come to visit her old father? Why, it's craving for a sight of her I am.”
“I think Nora is very busy to-day,” answered Molly, “May I read the paper to you, Squire?”
“You read the paper to me?” answered Squire O'Shanaghgan. “Why, bless yer little heart, my pretty girleen, but I must decline with thanks. It is perfect torture to listen to your English accent when you are trying to do the rich Irish brogue. Irish papers should be read by Irish colleens, and then you get the flavor. But what did you say my colleen was after—business, is it? She's very fond of poking that little finger of hers into other people's pies. What is she after now at all, at all?”
“I cannot tell you,” answered Molly, coloring slightly as she spoke.
The Squire looked annoyed and suspicious.
“You go and call her to me,” he said. “Tell her to come along this blessed minute; say it's wanting her I am.”
Molly ran out of the barn. She found Nora in earnest conversation with Angus, while Hannah Croneen stood close by plucking now and then at the girl's skirt, looking eagerly into her face, and uttering such ejaculations as “Oh, glory!” “Be the powers!” “Did ye ever hear the like?” “Well, well, that beats all!”
“Nora,” said Molly, “will you go to your father? He wants you immediately.”
“Have you let out anything?” said Nora, turning and looking anxiously at Molly.
“No; but he asked after you, and I said you were busy. The Squire said then, 'I hope she is not poking her little finger into other people's pies.'”
“Well, I will go to him,” said Nora. “I'll manage him. You stay where you are, Molly.”
Nora's black hair was curling in crisp waves all round her beautiful white forehead. Her dark-blue eyes were darker and more shining than ever, there was a richer bloom on her cheeks, and there were sweeter smiles on her lips than she had ever perhaps worn before as she now entered the Squire's room.
“Well, father?” she said.
Squire O'Shanaghgan, who had been sitting wrapped in thought, roused himself on her entrance, gave her a smile, and motioned her to come to his side.
“Kneel down by me, colleen,” he said.
Nora knelt. The Squire took his big hand and put it under her chin; he raised her blooming face and looked into her eyes, which looked back again at him. As he did so he uttered a quick sigh.
“You're after something, mavoureen,” he said. “What's up, little girl? What's fretting that tender heart of yours?”
“Something, father,” said Nora then.
“And you won't tell your old dad?”
“I would rather not. Won't you trust me?”
“Trust her, is it?” cried the Squire. “I'd trust her with all I possess. I'd trust her with my hopes of heaven itself. Trust her, is it? Nora, you fret me when you talk like that.”
“Then do trust me, father, and don't ask me any questions. I'll tell you by and by—yes, I faithfully promise, but I shall be busy to-day. I may have to be away from you for a great part of to-day, and I may want Molly to help me. Can you do without me?”
“Why, now, the conceit of the creature,” said the Squire. “As if I cannot do without you, you little piece of impertinence. To be sure, and to be sure I can. Why, there is your lady mother; she'll come and sit with me for an hour or so, and let out at me all her grumbles. Nora, my heart, it is dreadful to hear her; but it's good penance too, and maybe it's too comfortable you have been making me, and I ought to have a bit of what I do not like to keep me humble. You go along now, and come back when you have done that which is filling your heart to the brim.”
Nora kissed her father very gravely; she then went out of the barn, and returned to where Angus and Hannah, and also Molly, were waiting for her.
“I have thought how I can manage, Miss Nora,” said Angus. “When those Englishmen—bad cess to 'em!—are at dinner I'll get the long cart out of the yard, and I'll put the white pony to it, and then it's easy to get the big tarpaulin that we have for the hayrick out of its place in the west barn. I have everything handy; and if you could come along with me, Miss Nora, and the other young lady, and if Hannah here will lend a hand, why we'll do up the place a bit, and the poor forsaken crayther can die there at least.”
“Do not forget the basket of provisions, Hannah,” said Nora, “the potatoes, and the bacon, and a tiny bottle of potheen; and do not forget some fagots and bits of turf to kindle up the fire again. Oh, and, Hannah, a blanket if you can manage it; and we might get a few wisps of straw to put in the bottom of the cart. The straw would make a fine bed.”
“To be sure,” said Hannah. “You lave it to me, me beautiful young lady.”
The two servants now departed, and Nora and her cousin went into the house. The early dinner, or rather lunch, as it was now called, was served soon afterwards; and almost immediately after the meal was over Nora and Molly ran down to the bottom of the plantation, where they found Angus, Hannah, the long cart with the pony harnessed to it, and the tarpaulin, straw, basket of provisions, etc., all placed in the bottom.
“Jump in, Molly,” said Nora.
Molly scrambled in as best she could; Nora followed her; and Hannah, climbing in over the left wheel, sat down at the bottom of the cart. Angus jumped on the driver's seat, and whipped up the pony. The pony was stout and very strong, and well accustomed to Irish hills. They were off. Molly had never been so rattled and bumped and shaken in the whole course of her life, but she enjoyed it, as she said, immensely. Only, what was Nora doing? The tarpaulin had been carefully hidden from view by the straw which Angus had cunningly placed over and not under it; and it was well that this was the case, as after the little party had left O'Shanaghgan a couple of miles, they were met by John Finnigan driving on his outside car.
“Why, then, Miss Nora, what are you doing now?” he said.
“Having a drive for my own pleasure,” replied Nora, nodding gayly.
Finnigan looked with suspicion at the party, but as there was nothing contraband in anybody driving in a long cart, and as he could not possibly guess what they were doing, he drove on his own way without saying anything further. After less than an hour's driving they reached the foot of Slieve Nagorna, and here the real toil began, for it was quite impossible for the pony, willing as he was, to lug the cart up the mountain. Where there is a will, however, there is generally a way; and although the pony could not drag the cart up, he could go up himself, being very sure-footed and quite willing to be turned into a beast of burden for the no............
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