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with them, and like them. Their loose opinions had affected her. There were spots upon her raiment, and worldly lines scored on her face her mouth had used itself to unnatural talk, her knees had grown pliant to base custom. She had been no irreproachable governess of her children, but had let their heritage be filched from them, and had suffered them to hear misstatements, truth perverted, untruth winked at. But with all this admitted, he was told she was alive still, and would mend her faults. She who should have taught her children, was beginning to learn of them: they would patch the holes in her raiment, and renew its beauty for her
If only the child Fernando had clutched at this too flattering tale it would not matter much but thousands have drunk it in with thirsty ears and rooted it in their hearts. As for Fernando it was taught to him about ayear before his first visit to Catholic Ireland; and full in the faith of it he went there, not yet a Catholic himself but valorously believing himself one; as deeply in love as ever with the old Church, but light of heart to think that he really belonged to it.
Those among whom he stayed, his own
kinsfolk, were all Protestant-Irish Protestant, with no nonsense about it! To some of them his "Puseyism" was a mere English vagary, pardonable in a young boy who had unfortunately been brought up in England, where Protestantism flirted with Popery : to most of them it was too objectionable to bear recognition or mention.
With no Catholics was he brought in intimate contact-unfortunately. He was never inside a Convent, or spoke to a priest except in company of Protestants-and hardly ever that. Sometimes he did find his way into a Catholic Church, but it was not easy to make the opportunity, and they were but brief and stolen visits. In this way he managed to visit a few churches in Dublin, and a few other places: in Dublin, St. Andrew's, Westmoreland Row, the Pro-Cathedral in Marlborough Street, and one that he was told was called Adam and Eve. At Malahide he went several times to pray in the Catholic Church, but never spoke to any priest there though he saw the Parish Priest at an auction, bidding for a chest of drawers in which Fernando would have liked to hide, that he might creep forth and talk to his Reverence after it had been carried home. In Youghal
he was able only once to find his way to the Catholic Church. At Cork he was luckier, having several hours to spend there, on his homeward journey, alone. All of the time he gave to three Catholic Churches, though no service was going on in any of them—the Cathedral on Shandon Hill, near to which his mother was born, the Dominicans, St. Mary on the Quay, and the Franciscans. In the first of these someone was softly practising on the organ, and the low, plaintive sounds, like a whisper, often pausing, and now and then repeated, made a sympathetic accompaniment to the child's prayer to the Blessed Sacrament.
Only once did he find himself alone with Catholics of the peasant class; he had ridden up into the mountain, from the castle where his cousin lived down on an "inch "inch" by the matchless Blackwater that is so much lovelier than the greater Rhine; on the flattish table-lands of the mountain top, at a place called, I think, Kilnaclurachorn (I apologise for the spelling), it came on to rain in black torrents, and Fernando took shelter in a cabin, a lad taking the horse under some cover somewhere. There was a very old woman, huddling close to the dull fire of peat,
her daughter, and her son-in-law, and ever so None of them could, or
many boys and girls. would, speak English and all that Fernando had Irish for was "A hundred thousand welcomes "-and that phrase was for them, not him. They doubled it, each of them, in their eyes, but what else they said he could not guess. They were merry and genial in manner -till a blinding lightning-flash came, and lit up the dim corners of the hut for an instant. Then Fernando crossed himself out of a habit
already years old, without thinking. And it made a difference. They, whose guest he was, sat and stood still, with more restraint, and they said no more: but seemed one and all to arm themselves with an impenetrable reserve. They knew who Fernando was, and whence he came; that he was a Protestant was his misfortune, and perhaps not just his fault-a black inheritance he had been born to but that a Protestant should steal a Catholic pass-word-that woke in them a silent watchful suspicion.
Fernando must have been duller than he was not to be instinctively sensible of the suspicion and the change: and it was not, perhaps, strange that he half resented it. But, looking back after four and forty years,
I am not sure that it did not in the long run do him good. That those half-clad, ill-fed peasants in the smoky hovel on the rainy mountain were Catholics he never doubted; he knew already many, many things of which they were as ignorant as a fish is of the sea, but one thing at all events they knew-What their Church was and who belonged to it.