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A Child of the Glens by Edward Newenham Hoare

Michael McAravey was an altered man


McAravey swore positively that he had seen no gold chain, and therefore had not taken one. Though an ugly suspicion was thus created, no further steps could be taken, Hendrick declining to vouch for more than an "impression" that the deceased wore a chain. Evidence of identity there was none. The linen was marked "E. D," and the mourning ring, which guarded a plain gold one, had merely the words, "In memory, H. D., 186--." The only further evidence was that of a public car-driver between Cushendall and Ballycastle, who deposed to having had a passenger who corresponded to the description of the dead woman. She had no luggage, and walked away when the car stopped. A woman was also found who had given deceased a night's lodging. She said she had seemed excited and somewhat flighty--was restless at night, and started off early, having paid a shilling for her lodging and breakfast. This last witness added to the confusion by saying she saw no chain, and did not believe her lodger had a watch, since she had several times asked her the hour, and had annoyed her into saying she ought to have a watch of her own. This witness's "impression" was that deceased had replied, "I wish I had, and I wouldn't trouble you." This was absolutely all that could be ascertained. And accordingly the dead woman was buried by the Rev. Cooper Smith, in Rossleigh graveyard, which she had told Hendrick she had known well in her childhood. All the neighbourhood flocked to the funeral, and even Michael McAravey was for the first time in his life seen inside the doors of a Protestant church. The old man seemed much cut up, probably owing to the doubts cast on his honesty. So sad was the fate of the unknown wanderer, and so great the interest excited, that it was determined to record the mysterious event in a simple headstone, erected by subscription. To the surprise of everybody, McAravey, who had never been known to trouble himself about any one else's affairs, or to give away a shilling, took the matter up warmly, and himself subscribed fifteen shillings, which he paid in three instalments. The stone was erected, bearing this inscription:--

"In Memory"

OF MRS. E. D. (NAME UNKNOWN),

FOUND DROWNED NEAR TOR POINT

_On the 13th of March, 186--_.

This Stone is Erected by Subscription.

CHAPTER V.

The events narrated in the last chapter were not without lasting effects on most of the persons immediately concerned in them. Michael McAravey was an altered man. His proud reserve seemed changing into petulant self-vindication. He began to look fully his age, and, like many other men of so-called iron constitution, when his strength began to give way it collapsed at once. He also conceived a violent antipathy to George Hendrick. The children were forbidden to attend the class, which had now been resumed; and although they came twice surreptitiously, Mr. Hendrick was no sooner aware of this than he felt obliged to tell them that their first duty was obedience to their guardians. It was a hard parting both for teacher and pupils. It cost George Hendrick no slight effort to dismiss his two favourite scholars, nor could he at once see his duty plain in the matter. As for the children they were broken-hearted and rebellious; but the quiet, sympathetic tenderness of their friend at length reconciled them to their lot. Except on this point, McAravey was far more considerate with the children than formerly. He was now a good deal in the house, having become very asthmatic, and often shielded Elsie and Jim from Mrs. McAravey's harsh tongue.


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