A LIBRARY OF TALES â€“ VOLUME 2
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Comprising THE EXILE
Eveline Cole 1935
ALL FOR THE BEST
E Kielty 1935
CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY SEE
On an evening of the month of February, 1793, a figure was creeping furtively along one of the roads leading from Paris to Calaisâ€Ś
The authors of these stories, Eveline Cole and E Kielty, are otherwise unknown to history.
CTS ONEFIFTIES Originally published as The Exile, 1935; All for the Best, 1935. Published by The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society, 40-46 Harleyford Road London SE11 5AY www.ctsbooks.org All rights reserved. Copyright ÂŠ 2017 The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society.
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ISBN 978 1 78469 546 0
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THE EXILE Eveline Cole
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THE EXILE On an evening of the month of February, 1793, a figure was creeping furtively along one of the roads leading from Paris to Calais. Though this man was dressed as an ordinary French citizen of the poorer class, the workman’s blouse appeared to cover a body anything but stalwart. In fact the Abbé Durand, thus disguised, weary and terror-ridden, was almost at the last gasp, for well knowing himself to be one of those refractory priests denounced by the Revolutionary Tribunal, he was attempting to escape to England. Already he had been robbed of all he possessed and glad at that to be left his life, for had not Danton advised, “Dare all against priests: you will be supported.” The Abbé’s intention was to walk all night in the hope that if he reached Calais at dawn he might board the boat he had been told would be crossing the Channel. During the day he had rested in the woods since he knew how many of his brethren had been killed on the roads to the frontiers; their passports proving but “death-passes.” As he trudged these last few miles, alert in spite of his fatigue to every sound, he reviewed the last year of his life. Like so many of the country clergy he had come to Paris, judging it easier to lie hidden in a great city than in the provinces. There, disguised in lay dress, he had been able for some time to administer the sacraments to his fellow countrymen who would not accept the ministrations of the Civil Clergy. But now that he had been
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tracked down he was forced to flee if he would not share the fate of so many of his brethren: imprisonment or death. For since the execution of the King in January a fury of persecution had arisen against priests, many of whom had been killed at the door of their own churches. Early as he reached Calais it was not without difficulty that he succeeded in securing his passage. He had saved a few coins, sewn into his clothes, wherewith to bribe the captain of the open fishing boat which his friends had discovered would be sailing for England. But even when he was on board, the mob, urged on by some spy who had hunted the AbbĂŠ to the coast, tried to sink the boat suspecting that a victim might be escaping their bayonets. The tossing and wetting which the half-frozen priest endured, seated on a coil of rope, troubled him but little, so overwhelming was the sensation of relief from danger of death. But when after a long and dangerous voyage the brig put in at Brighton he could scarcely crawl ashore for exhaustion. The town, he knew, was famous for its charity to refugees, owing to the influence of Mrs. Fitzherbert with the Prince. But the landing took place at midnight between Ship Street and Middle Street and there was no one, except a few fishermen on the jetty, to note the French stranger who so thankfully stepped on to English soil. So the AbbĂŠ, directed by the Captain, who charitably presented him with a few English pence, crossed the Steine to a tavern for breakfast. The bent figure of the priest, clutching his Breviary, his last and most precious possession, made a striking contrast to the fashionable society usually to be seen there. At the Inn, since there was no longer need to compromise, he requested a room where he could change into his soutane, wound round his waist for security. Emerging once more 6
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befittingly clothed, he was entertained by the landlord with tales of his fellow refugees in Brighton. “You see the Prince’s pleasure house, the Marine Pavilion over there?” the man asked, pointing from the window. “That’s where the nuns were waited upon by the Prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert. They wouldn’t eat much, I heard, though they said a long Latin grace. Must have been funny to see ’em in that gay dining-room, blue ceiling and bright green walls. You ought to visit it, sir, before you leave the town.” But the priest, as he took his frugal breakfast, saw without going there those black figures seated in an apartment which usually re-echoed to roystering drinking songs, loud laughter and free and easy conversation. He had heard something of the follies and excesses of the Prince, but none the less it was a gracious action on his part to minister to the travel-worn nuns and he trusted God would reward him for it. The Abbé, on leaving, presented his citizen’s cap as a memento to the landlord and resumed his broad-brimmed clerical hat so long secreted on his person. The sun was rising as he passed through the hamlet of Hove and in spite of bad roads, full of ruts, which made him realize he would not get far that day, he enjoyed the peace of the countryside. On his right rose green hills, on his left was the sea; before him lay a haven of refuge and safety. Indeed, the knowledge that he would not be molested was a tonic to his weariness and gave strength to his tired limbs. Soon he came in sight of the shipping and marshes of Shoreham and since his walking powers were but feeble, allowed himself an early noonday rest. Before eating the bread he had saved for his midday meal he said his delayed Office and never had his praise and prayer been more heartfelt.
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ALL FOR THE BEST
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ALL FOR THE BEST “This seems to be my only chance of getting a place immediately,” said Nora Meehan wistfully, as she finished reading to her brother a letter which she held in her hand. Brendan glanced affectionately at his sister. They were very alike in appearance, dark hair, dark eyes, regular clear-cut features, only whereas Brendan was tall, even for a man, Nora was slightly built, while her small mouth spoke of determination, of strong will. “I simply hate the idea of your going as a general. Mother had such hopes of your becoming a teacher—it’s rough luck that there’s no money for you to go to college. I wish I could do something, but I’d never be able to meet expenses on my pay, even if I were the most economical chap on earth—which, God knows, I’m not—money seems absolutely to melt in my pocket. Our trade’s not too good either these days.” Brendan smiled ruefully as he leant back against the mantelpiece in the small sitting-room. He had been given a few days’ leave to attend the funeral of his mother, who had died suddenly a few days previously. Mrs. Meehan had been early left a widow with two children. Her husband had been very well-to-do when she married him, but drink soon made her a widow with small means. At her husband’s death she was obliged to leave their large,
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airy house in Fairview and rent three small rooms in a terrace near Sandymount. She had only a small annuity on which to keep herself and her two little ones. When the children were old enough to go to school she managed to increase their exchequer by sewing and simple dressmaking. Always delicate she never confessed to feeling ill, but struggled on, her one aim and endeavour to put the means of a decent livelihood in the hands of her children before she died. But soon after Brendan had secured his first job as commercial traveller for a Dutch firm she collapsed suddenly, and from that time on became a confirmed invalid. Nora had just finished schooling and was about to sit for her college entrance exam. “My poor darling,” Mrs. Meehan would say sadly, “if only God had spared me my health a few years longer—but now your career is ruined. Still God knows it’s all for the best. The Sacred Heart of Jesus will always be our secure refuge,” she would add with a brave smile. Her heart ached with anxiety for Nora’s future. Her annuity died with her and what would the poor child do to earn a living in these hard times? “Don’t worry about me,” Nora would say, as she put her arms caressingly round her mother’s thin, worn frame. “I’ve two hands. I can do plenty of work, no fear that I’ll starve.” The mother turned away her head to hide the tears. She was very ill and needed constant attention, and so all Nora’s time was fully occupied in caring and tending the invalid, with the exception of a few hours on two evenings a week on which she attended night school, and studied typing and shorthand at her mother’s express wish. 32
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“I must not depress her with tears or repining,” Mrs. Meehan would say to herself, “she is in God’s hands.” At her mother’s death, Nora sought for work in Dublin, but failed to obtain anything congenial. “Housework’s evidently to be my career,” Nora said one evening to Brendan when returning from several fruitless interviews with office managers. “Lord! I hate the idea,” said Brendan. “If only we had some relations with whom you could spend a few weeks till something decent turned up. We don’t seem to have a soul in the world. By the way, Nora,” he commenced half shyly, “why not get married? What about George Kleimer? He’s crazy about you and he seems a decent enough fellow….” “Sorry, Brendan, but he’s an atheist, so there’s nothing doing,” said Nora decidedly. “Well, here goes. I’m answering this advertisement: “ ‘Wanted good cook, general, scrupulously clean, methodical, early riser, business house in the West. Apply, Mrs. Duggan, Corrafin, Sligo.’ ” “I’m sure they could not but be pleased with you, Nora, you cook fine—as for tidiness you’re the limit.” The upshot of it all was that Nora received a letter from Mrs. Duggan asking her to come immediately. “The nearest railway station is Sligo,” remarked Nora, referring to her letter again. “The business is situated a little off the main road, convenient to bus route—so, Brendan dear, look up the times of trains for Sligo and I’ll write and let Mrs. Duggan know what time to expect me.” While Brendan consulted the time-table, Nora walked to the window and, drawing aside the curtain, looked on the gathering dusk of a November’s evening.
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The street was silent and deserted, a few people were coming home after a day’s work in the City. Away to the east a thick gathering mist was rapidly descending over the sea, here and there a few fights winked in the gloom, while the horns of the boats in the bay sounded eerily in the distance. Tears rose to Nora’s eyes as she listened to all the dear familiar sounds to which she had been accustomed from childhood. “Why don’t you stay in Dublin?” Brendan’s voice broke in on her thoughts. “I hardly know myself, Brendan. I love Dublin, yet I feel I want to go away awhile…” Her voice quivered. “Besides, you know Mother came from the West. I often long to see Connaught, here’s my chance, and Mother always said things turn out for the best.” “You’re a good kid, and deserve the best,” said Brendan, who had a sincere admiration and affection for his sister. “Praise from a brother is praise indeed,” Nora replied with a brave smile. “Now let me write my letter. While you’re gone to post, I’ll get your tea…our last tea together.” Next day saw Nora en route for Sligo. . . . . . . The business of John James Duggan, Grocery and General Stores, was situated a few yards from the main road. It was a fair-sized and prosperous-looking building, and the only important shop in the neighbourhood. Feeling somewhat nervous, Nora knocked at the door, which was opened by Mrs. Duggan herself. She was a woman well over fifty, thin, wiry, bristling with energy, whose only outlet seemed to consist in issuing orders and making others work. The pallor of her thin face, the tight lines of her pursed lips, were accentuated by the unbecoming fashion of her head-dress, 34
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every wisp of hair was drawn back into a tight bun on the top of her head. “Nora Meehan? Yes, yes, come in. This is the kitchen, this the scullery—your bedroom,” she added, opening a door leading out of the scullery. A wave of loneliness swept over the girl as a damp, musty smell greeted her nostrils. A small grate was in “her bedroom,” but showed signs of disuse. In a flash she visualized the cosy sitting-room at home—her mother in a chair propped up with cushions, Brendan sprawling lazily on the rug, making toast. Mrs. Duggan’s crisp tones broke in on her dreams. “I hope you will keep your room clean, scrupulously clean, also all the kitchen utensils. Cleanliness is so essential. “It is now a little past six. We have tea at seven. At present we are three in family, myself and my husband and my daughter, Miss Angela, who has just finished schooling at the Convent— in the holidays we are four, as my son is here. He is studying to be a doctor in Dublin,” she added with a view to impressing her listener. “I’m sure you will find a good home here. You’ll have no rough outside work. Jack the yard man will bring in coal and so on. He has his meals here, but sleeps at home. The shop boys are outdoors, so you’ll have nothing to do for them. Now, dear, take off your things. The kettle is boiling, have some tea and set to work.” With a brisk smile she disappeared from the kitchen. “So you are the new girl. Well, you are welcome,” drawled a man’s voice at the back door as soon as the mistress left the kitchen. “I’m Jack Feely. Hope you’ll like your new place.” “Thanks,” replied Nora with a quiet smile, as she gave a keen glance at the man’s good-natured countenance. Blue-eyed, shockheaded, uneducated, but willing, was her rapid summing up.
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