Part 3 out of 10
"I didn't know the amount; but I believe she has half whatever there
"Exactly: half the land, half the cash, half the house, half
everything, except the debts! and those were contracted in my name, and
I must pay them all. Isn't that hard, Mr Daly?"
"I didn't know your father had debts."
"Oh, but he had--debts which ought to have been his; though, as I said,
they stand in my name, and I must pay them."
"And, I suppose, what you now want is to saddle the debts on the entire
property? If you can really prove that the debts were incurred for your
father's benefit, I should think you might do that. But has your sister
refused to pay the half? They can't be heavy. Won't Miss Lynch agree to
pay the half herself?"
This last lie of Barry's--for, to give the devil his due, old Sim
hadn't owed one penny for the last twenty years--was only a bright
invention of the moment, thrown off by our injured hero to aggravate
the hardships of his case; but he was determined to make the most of
"Not heavy?--faith, they _are_ heavy, and d----d heavy too, Mr
Daly!--what'll take two hundred a-year out of my miserable share of the
property; divil a less. Oh! there's never any knowing how a man'll cut
up till he's gone."
"That's true; but how could your father owe such a sum as that, and no
one know it? Why, that must be four or five thousand pounds?"
"About five, I believe."
"And you've put your name to them, isn't that it?"
"Something like it. You know, he and Lord Ballindine, years ago, were
fighting about the leases we held under the old Lord; and then, the old
man wanted ready money, and borrowed it in Dublin; and, some years
since--that is, about three years ago,--sooner than see any of the
property sold, I took up the debt myself. You know, it was all as good
as my own then; and now, confound it! I must pay the whole out of the
miserable thing that's left me under this infernal will. But it wasn't
even about that I sent for you; only, I must explain exactly how
matters are, before I come to the real point."
"But your father's name must be joined with yours in the debt; and, if
so, you can come upon the entire property for the payment. There's no
difficulty about that; your sister, of course, must pay the half."
"It's not so, my dear fellow. I can't explain the thing exactly,
but it's I that owe the money, and I must pay it. But it's no good
talking of that. Well, you see, Anty that's my sister, has this
property all in her own hands. But you don't drink your punch," and
Barry mixed his third tumbler.
"Of course she has; and, surely she won't refuse to pay half the claims
on the estate?"
"Never mind the claims!" answered Barry, who began to fear that he
had pushed his little invention a thought too far. "I tell you, I
must stand to them; you don't suppose I'd ask her to pay a penny as a
favour? No; I'm a little too proud for that. Besides, it'd be no use,
not the least; and that's what I'm coming to. You see, Anty's got
this money, and--You know, don't you, Mr Daly, poor Anty's not just
like other people?"
"No," said Mr Daly--"I didn't. I can't say I know much about Miss
Lynch. I never had the pleasure of seeing her."
"But did you never hear she wasn't quite right?"
"Indeed, I never did, then."
"Well that's odd; but we never had it much talked about, poor
creature. Indeed, there was no necessity for people to know much about
it, for she never gave any trouble; and, to tell the truth, as long as
she was kept quiet, she never gave us occasion to think much about it.
But, confound them for rogues--those who have got hold of her now, have
quite upset her."
"But what is it ails your sister, Mr Lynch?"
"To have it out, at once, then--she's not right in her upper story.
Mind, I don't mean she's a downright lunatic; but she's cracked, poor
thing, and quite unable to judge for herself, in money-matters, and
such like; and, though she might have done very well, poor thing,
and passed without notice, if she'd been left quiet, as was always
intended, I'm afraid now, unless she's well managed, she'd end her
life in the Ballinasloe Asylum."
The attorney made no answer to this, although Barry paused, to allow
him to do so. Daly was too sharp, and knew his employer's character
too well to believe all he said, and he now began to fancy that he saw
what the affectionate brother was after. "Well, Daly," continued Barry,
after a minute's pause; "after the old man died, we went on quiet
enough for some time. I was up in Dublin mostly, about that confounded
loan, and poor Anty was left here by herself; and what should she do,
but take up with a low huxter's family in the town here."
"That's bad," said the attorney. "Was there an unmarried young man
among them at all?"
"Faith there was so; as great a blackguard as there is in Connaught."
"And Miss Lynch is going to marry him?"
"That's just it, Daly; that's what we must prevent. You know, for the
sake of the family, I couldn't let it go on. Then, poor creature, she'd
be plundered and ill-treated--she'd be a downright idiot in no time;
and, you know, Daly, the property'd go to the devil; and where'd I be
Daly couldn't help thinking that, in all probability, his kind host
would not be long in following the property; but he did not say so. He
merely asked the name of the "blackguard" whom Miss Anty meant to
"Wait till I tell you the whole of it. The first thing I heard was,
that Anty had made a low ruffian, named Moylan, her agent."
"I know him; she couldn't have done much worse. Well?"
"She made him her agent without speaking to me, or telling me a word
about it; and I couldn't make out what had put it into her head, till I
heard that this old rogue was a kind of cousin to some people living
here, named Kelly."
"What, the widow, that keeps the inn?"
"The very same! confound her, for an impertinent scheming old hag, as
she is. Well; that's the house that Anty was always going to; drinking
tea with the daughters, and walking with the son--an infernal young
farmer, that lives with them, the worst of the whole set."
"What, Martin Kelly?--There's worse fellows than him, Mr Lynch."
"I'll be hanged if I know them, then; but if there are, I don't choose
my poor sister--only one remove from an idiot, and hardly that--to be
carried off from her mother's house, and married to such a fellow as
that. Why, it's all the same infernal plot; it's the same people that
got the old man to sign the will, when he was past his senses!"
"Begad, they must have been clever to do that! How the deuce could they
have got the will drawn?"
"I tell you, they _did_ do it!" answered Barry, whose courage was now
somewhat raised by the whiskey. "That's neither here nor there, but
they did it; and, when the old fool was dead, they got this Moylan
made Anty's agent: and then, the hag of a mother comes up here, before
daylight, and bribes the servant, and carries her off down to her
filthy den, which she calls an inn; and when I call to see my sister,
I get nothing but insolence and abuse."
"And when did this happen? When did Miss Lynch leave the house?"
"Yesterday morning, about four o'clock."
"She went down of her own accord, though?"
"D----l a bit. The old hag came up here, and filched her out of her
"But she couldn't have taken your sister away, unless she had wished to
"Of course she wished it; but a silly creature like her can't be let to
do all she wishes.. She wishes to get a husband, and doesn't care what
sort of a one she gets; but you don't suppose an old maid--forty years
old, who has always been too stupid and foolish ever to be seen or
spoken to, should be allowed to throw away four hundred a-year, on the
first robber that tries to cheat her? You don't mean to say there isn't
a law to prevent that?"
"I don't know how you'll prevent it, Mr Lynch. She's her own
"What the d----l! Do you mean to say there's nothing to prevent an
idiot like that from marrying?"
"If she _was_ an idiot! But I think you'll find your sister has sense
enough to marry whom she pleases."
"I tell you she _is_ an idiot; not raving, mind; but everybody knows
she was never fit to manage anything."
"Who'd prove it!"
"Why, I would. Divil a doubt of it! I could prove that she never could,
all her life."
"Ah, my dear Sir! you couldn't do it; nor could I advise you to
try--that is, unless there were plenty more who could swear positively
that she was out of her mind. Would the servants swear that? Could you
yourself, now, positively swear that she was out of her mind?"
"Why--she never had any mind to be out of."
"Unless you are very sure she is, and, for a considerable time back,
has been, a confirmed lunatic, you'd be very wrong--very ill-advised,
I mean, Mr Lynch, to try that game at all. Things would come out which
you wouldn't like; and your motives would be--would be--" seen through
at once, the attorney was on the point of saying, but he stopped
himself, and finished by the words "called in question".
"And I'm to sit here, then, and see that young blackguard Kelly, run
off with what ought to be my own, and my sister into the bargain? I'm
blessed if I do! If you can't put me in the way of stopping it, I'll
find those that can."
"You're getting too much in a hurry, Mr Lynch. Is your sister at the
"To be sure she is."
"And she is engaged to this young man?"
"Why, then, she might be married to him to-morrow, for anything you
"She might, if he was here. But they tell me he's away, in Dublin."
"If they told you so to-day, they told you wrong: he came into Dunmore,
from Tuam, on the same car with myself, this very afternoon."
"What, Martin Kelly? Then he'll be off with her this night, while we're
sitting here!" and Barry jumped up, as if to rush out, and prevent the
immediate consummation of his worst fears.
"Stop a moment, Mr Lynch," said the more prudent and more sober lawyer.
"If they were off, you couldn't follow them; and, if you did follow and
find them, you couldn't prevent their being married, if such were their
wish, and they had a priest ready to do it. Take my advice; remain
quiet where you are, and let's talk the matter over. As for taking out
a commission 'de lunatico', as we call it, you'll find you couldn't do
it. Miss Lynch may be a little weak or so in the upper story, but she's
not a lunatic; and you couldn't make her so, if you had half Dunmore
to back you, because she'd be brought before the Commissioners herself,
and that, you know, would soon settle the question. But you might still
prevent the marriage, for a time, at any rate--at least, I think so;
and, after that, you must trust to the chapter of accidents."
"So help me, that's all I want! If I got her once up here again, and
was sure the thing was off, for a month or so, let me alone, then, for
bringing her to reason!"
As Daly watched his comrade's reddening face, and saw the malicious
gleam of his eyes as he declared how easily he'd manage the affair,
if poor Anty was once more in the house, his heart misgave him, even
though he was a sharp attorney, at the idea of assisting such a cruel
brute in his cruelty; and, for a moment, he had determined to throw up
the matter. Barry was so unprincipled, and so wickedly malicious in
his want of principle, that he disgusted even Daly. But, on second
thoughts, the lawyer remembered that if he didn't do the job, another
would; and, quieting his not very violent qualms of conscience with the
idea that, though employed by the brother, he might also, to a certain
extent, protect the sister, he proceeded to give his advice as to the
course which would be most likely to keep the property out of the hands
of the Kellys.
He explained to Barry that, as Anty had left her own home in company
with Martin's mother, and as she now was a guest at the widow's, it was
unlikely that any immediate clandestine marriage should be resorted
to; that their most likely course would be to brazen the matter out,
and have the wedding solemnised without any secrecy, and without any
especial notice to him, Barry. That, on the next morning, a legal
notice should be prepared in Tuam, and served on the widow, informing
her that it was his intention to indict her for conspiracy, in enticing
away from her own home his sister Anty, for the purpose of obtaining
possession of her property, she being of weak mind, and not able
properly to manage her own affairs; that a copy of this notice should
also be sent to Martin, warning him that he would be included in the
indictment if he took any proceedings with regard to Miss Lynch; and
that a further copy should, if possible, be put into the hands of Miss
"You may be sure that'll frighten them," continued Daly; "and then, you
know, when we see what sort of fight they make, we'll be able to judge
whether we ought to go on and prosecute or not. I think the widow'll be
very shy of meddling, when she finds you're in earnest. And you see, Mr
Lynch," he went on, dropping his voice, "if you _do_ go into court, as
I don't think you will, you'll go with clean hands, as you ought to do.
Nobody can say anything against you for trying to prevent your sister
from marrying a man so much younger than herself, and so much inferior
in station and fortune; you won't seem to gain anything by it, and
that's everything with a jury; and then, you know, if it comes out that
Miss Lynch's mind is rather touched, it's an additional reason why you
should protect her from intriguing and interested schemers. Don't you
Barry did see, or fancied he saw, that he had now got the Kellys
in a dead fix, and Anty back into his own hands again; and his
self-confidence having been fully roused by his potations, he was
tolerably happy, and talked very loudly of the manner in which he would
punish those low-bred huxters, who had presumed to interfere with him
in the management of his family.
Towards the latter end of the evening, he became even more
confidential, and showed the cloven foot, if possible, more
undisguisedly than he had hitherto done. He spoke of the impossibility
of allowing four hundred a year to be carried off from him, and
suggested to Daly that his sister would soon drop off,--that there
would then be a nice thing left, and that he, Daly, should have the
agency, and if he pleased, the use of Dunmore House. As for himself, he
had no idea of mewing himself up in such a hole as that; but, before he
went, he'd take care to drive that villain, Moylan, out of the place.
"The cursed villany of those Kellys, to go and palm such a robber as
that off on his sister, by way of an agent!"
To all this, Daly paid but little attention, for he saw that his host
was drunk. But when Moylan's name was mentioned, he began to think that
it might be as well either to include him in the threatened indictment,
or else, which would be better still, to buy him over to their side,
as they might probably learn from him what Martin's plans really were.
Barry was, however, too tipsy to pay much attention to this, or to
understand any deep-laid plans. So the two retired to their beds, Barry
determined, as he declared to the attorney in his drunken friendship,
to have it out of Anty, when he caught her; and Daly promising to go to
Tuam early in the morning, have the notices prepared and served, and
come back in the evening to dine and sleep, and have, if possible, an
interview with Mr Moylan. As he undressed, he reflected that, during
his short professional career, he had been thrown into the society of
many unmitigated rogues of every description; but that his new friend,
Barry Lynch, though he might not equal them in energy of villany and
courage to do serious evil, beat them all hollow in selfishness, and
utter brutal want of feeling, conscience, and principle.
X. DOT BLAKE'S ADVICE
In hour or two after Martin Kelly had left Porto Bello in the
Ballinasloe fly-boat, our other hero, Lord Ballindine, and his friend
Dot Blake, started from Morrison's hotel, with post horses, for
Handicap Lodge; and, as they travelled in Blake's very comfortable
barouche, they reached their destination in time for a late dinner,
without either adventure or discomfort. Here they remained for some
days, fully occupied with the education of their horses, the attention
necessary to the engagements for which they were to run, and with their
Lord Ballindine's horse, Brien Boru, was destined to give the Saxons
a dressing at Epsom, and put no one knows how many thousands into his
owner's hands, by winning the Derby; and arrangements had already been
made for sending him over to John Scott, the English trainer, at an
expense, which, if the horse should by chance fail to be successful,
would be of very serious consequence to his lordship. But Lord
Ballindine had made up his mind, or rather, Blake had made it up for
him, and the thing was to be done; the risk was to be run, and the
preparations--the sweats and the gallops, the physicking, feeding, and
coddling, kept Frank tolerably well employed; though the whole process
would have gone on quite as well, had he been absent.
It was not so, however, with Dot Blake. The turf, to him, was not an
expensive pleasure, but a very serious business, and one which, to give
him his due, he well understood. He himself, regulated the work, both
of his horses and his men, and saw that both did what was allotted to
them. He took very good care that he was never charged a guinea, where
a guinea was not necessary; and that he got a guinea's worth for every
guinea he laid out. In fact, he trained his own horses, and was thus
able to assure himself that his interests were never made subservient
to those of others who kept horses in the same stables. Dot was in his
glory, and in his element on the Curragh, and he was never quite happy
This, however, was not the case with his companion. For a couple of
days the excitement attending Brien Boru was sufficient to fill Lord
Ballindine's mind; but after that, he could not help recurring to other
things. He was much in want of money, and had been civilly told by
his agent's managing clerk, before he left town, that there was some
difficulty in the way of his immediately getting the sum required. This
annoyed him, for he could not carry on the game without money. And
then, again, he was unhappy to be so near Fanny Wyndham, from day to
day, without seeing her. He was truly and earnestly attached to her,
and miserable at the threat which had been all but made by her
guardian, that the match should be broken off.
It was true that he had made up his mind not to go to Grey Abbey, as
long as he remained at Handicap Lodge, and, having made the resolution,
he thought he was wise in keeping it; but still, he continually felt
that she must be aware that he was in the neighbourhood, and could not
but be hurt at his apparent indifference. And then he knew that her
guardian would make use of his present employment--his sojourn at such
a den of sporting characters as his friend Blake's habitation--and his
continued absence from Grey Abbey though known to be in its vicinity,
as additional arguments for inducing his ward to declare the engagement
at an end.
These troubles annoyed him, and though he daily stood by and saw Brien
Boru go through his manoeuvres, he was discontented and fidgety.
He had been at Handicap Lodge about a fortnight, and was beginning to
feel anything but happy. His horse was to go over in another week,
money was not plentiful with him, and tradesmen were becoming obdurate
and persevering. His host, Blake, was not a soothing or a comfortable
friend, under these circumstances: he gave him a good deal of practical
advice, but he could not sympathise with him. Blake was a sharp, hard,
sensible man, who reduced everything to pounds shillings and pence.
Lord Ballindine was a man of feeling, and for the time, at least, a man
of pleasure; and, though they were, or thought themselves friends, they
did not pull well together; in fact, they bored each other terribly.
One morning, Lord Ballindine was riding out from the training-ground,
when he met, if not an old, at any rate an intimate acquaintance, named
Tierney. Mr or, as he was commonly called, Mat Tierney, was a bachelor,
about sixty years of age, who usually inhabited a lodge near the
Curragh; and who kept a horse or two on the turf, more for the sake of
the standing which it gave him in the society he liked best, than from
any intense love of the sport. He was a fat, jolly fellow, always
laughing, and usually in a good humour; he was very fond of what he
considered the world; and the world, at least that part of it which
knew him, returned the compliment.
"Well, my lord," said he, after a few minutes of got-up enthusiasm
respecting Brien Boru, "I congratulate you, sincerely."
"What about?" said Lord Ballindine.
"Why, I find you've got a first-rate horse, and I hear you've got rid
of a first-rate lady. You're very lucky, no doubt, in both; but I think
fortune has stood to you most, in the latter."
Lord Ballindine was petrified: he did not know what to reply. He was
aware that his engagement with Miss Wyndham was so public that Tierney
could allude to no other lady; but he could not conceive how any one
could have heard that his intended marriage was broken off--at any rate
how he could have heard it spoken of so publicly, as to induce him to
mention it in that sort of way, to himself. His first impulse was to be
very indignant; but he felt that no one would dream of quarrelling with
Mat Tierney; so he said, as soon as he was able to collect his thoughts
"I was not aware of the second piece of luck, Mr Tierney. Pray who is
"Why, Miss Wyndham," said Mat, himself a little astonished at Lord
"I'm sure, Mr Tierney," said Frank, "you would say nothing,
particularly in connection with a lady's name, which you intended
either to be impertinent, or injurious. Were it not that I am quite
certain of this, I must own that what you have just said would appear
to be both."
"My dear lord," said the other, surprised and grieved, "I beg ten
thousand pardons, if I have unintentionally said anything, which you
feel to be either. But, surely, if I am not wrong in asking, the match
between you and Miss Wyndham is broken off?"
"May I ask you, Mr Tierney, who told you so?"
"Certainly--Lord Kilcullen; and, as he is Miss Wyndham's cousin, and
Lord Cashel's son, I could not but think the report authentic."
This overset Frank still more thoroughly. Lord Kilcullen would never
have spread the report publicly unless he had been authorised to do so
by Lord Cashel. Frank and Lord Kilcullen had never been intimate; and
the former was aware that the other had always been averse to the
proposed marriage; but still, he would never have openly declared that
the marriage was broken off, had he not had some authority for saying
"As you seem somewhat surprised," continued Mat, seeing that Lord
Ballindine remained silent, and apparently at a loss for what he ought
to say, "perhaps I ought to tell you, that Lord Kilcullen mentioned
it last night very publicly--at a dinner-party, as an absolute fact.
Indeed, from his manner, I thought he wished it to be generally made
known. I presumed, therefore, that it had been mutually agreed between
you, that the event was not to come off--that the match was not to
be run; and, with my peculiar views, you know, on the subject of
matrimony, I thought it a fair point for congratulation. If Lord
Kilcullen had misled me, I heartily beg to apologise; and at the same
time, by giving you my authority, to show you that I could not intend
anything impertinent. If it suits you, you are quite at liberty to tell
Lord Kilcullen all I have told you; and, if you wish me to contradict
the report, which I must own I have spread, I will do so."
Frank felt that he could not be angry with Mat Tierney; he therefore
thanked him for his open explanation, and, merely muttering something
about private affairs not being worthy of public interest, rode off
towards Handicap Lodge.
It appeared very plain to him that the Grey Abbey family must have
discarded him--that Fanny Wyndham, Lord and Lady Cashel, and the whole
set, must have made up their minds to drop him altogether; otherwise,
one of the family would not have openly declared the match at an end.
And yet he was at a loss to conceive how they could have done so--how
even Lord Cashel could have reconciled it to himself to do so, without
the common-place courtesy of writing to him on the subject. And then,
when he thought of her, "his own Fanny," as he had so often called her,
he was still more bewildered: she, with whom he had sat for so many
sweet hours talking of the impossibility of their ever forgetting,
deserting, or even slighting each other; she, who had been so entirely
devoted to him--so much more than engaged to him--could she have lent
her name to such a heartless mode of breaking her faith?
"If I had merely proposed for her through her guardian," thought Frank,
to himself--"if I had got Lord Cashel to make the engagement, as many
men do, I should not be surprised; but after all that has passed
between us--after all her vows, and all her--" and then Lord Ballindine
struck his horse with his heel, and made a cut at the air with his
whip, as he remembered certain passages more binding even than
promises, warmer even than vows, which seemed to make him as miserable
now as they had made him happy at the time of their occurrence. "I
would not believe it," he continued, meditating, "if twenty Kilcullens
said it, or if fifty Mat Tierneys swore to it!" and then he rode on
towards the lodge, in a state of mind for which I am quite unable to
account, if his disbelief in Fanny Wyndham's constancy was really as
strong as he had declared it to be. And, as he rode, many unusual
thoughts--for, hitherto, Frank had not been a very deep-thinking
man--crowded his mind, as to the baseness, falsehood, and iniquity of
the human race, especially of rich cautious old peers who had beautiful
wards in their power.
By the time he had reached the lodge, he had determined that he must
now do something, and that, as he was quite unable to come to any
satisfactory conclusion on his own unassisted judgment, he must consult
Blake, who, by the bye, was nearly as sick of Fanny Wyndham as he would
have been had he himself been the person engaged to marry her.
As he rode round to the yard, he saw his friend standing at the door of
one of the stables, with a cigar in his mouth.
"Well, Frank, how does Brien go to-day? Not that he'll ever be the
thing till he gets to the other side of the water. They'll never be
able to bring a horse out as he should be, on the Curragh, till they've
regular trained gallops. The slightest frost in spring, or sun in
summer, and the ground's so hard, you might as well gallop your horse
down the pavement of Grafton Street."
"Confound the horse," answered Frank; "come here, Dot, a minute. I want
to speak to you."
"What the d----l's the matter?--he's not lame, is he?"
"Who?--what?--Brien Boru? Not that I know of. I wish the brute had
never been foaled."
"And why so? What crotchet have you got in your head now? Something
wrong about Fanny, I suppose?"
"Why, did you hear anything?"
"Nothing but what you've told me."
"I've just seen Mat Tierney, and he told me that Kilcullen had
declared, at a large dinner-party, yesterday, that the match between me
and his cousin was finally broken off."
"You wouldn't believe what Mat Tierney would say? Mat was only taking a
rise out of you."
"Not at all: he was not only speaking seriously, but he told me what
I'm very sure was the truth, as far as Lord Kilcullen was concerned. I
mean, I'm sure Kilcullen said it, and in the most public manner he
could; and now, the question is, what had I better do?"
"There's no doubt as to what you'd better do; the question is what
you'd rather do?"
"But what had I _better_ do? call on Kilcullen for an explanation?"
"That's the last thing to think of. No; but declare what he reports
to be the truth; return Miss Wyndham the lock of hair you have in your
desk, and next your heart, or wherever you keep it; write her a pretty
note, and conclude by saying that the 'Adriatic's free to wed
another'. That's what I should do."
"It's very odd, Blake, that you won't speak seriously to a man for a
moment. You've as much heart in you as one of your own horses. I wish
I'd never come to this cursed lodge of yours. I'd be all right then."
"As for my heart, Frank, if I have as much as my horses, I ought to be
contented--for race-horses are usually considered to have a good deal;
as for my cursed lodge, I can assure you I have endeavoured, and, if
you will allow me, I will still endeavour, to make it as agreeable to
you as I am able; and as to my speaking seriously, upon my word, I
never spoke more so. You asked me what I thought you had better do--and
I began by telling you there would be a great difference between that
and what you'd rather do."
"But, in heaven's name, why would you have me break off with Miss
Wyndham, when every one knows I'm engaged to her; and when you know
that I wish to marry her?"
"Firstly, to prevent her breaking off with you--though I fear there's
hardly time for that; and secondly, in consequence--as the newspapers
say, of incompatibility of temper."
"Why, you don't even know her!"
"But I know you, and I know what your joint income would be, and I
know that there would be great incompatibility between you, as Lord
Ballindine, with a wife and family--and fifteen hundred a year, or so.
But mind, I'm only telling you what I think you'd better do."
"Well, I shan't do that. If I was once settled down, I could live as
well on fifteen hundred a year as any country gentleman in Ireland.
It's only the interference of Lord Cashel that makes me determined
not to pull in till I am married. If he had let me have my own way, I
shouldn't, by this time, have had a horse in the world, except one or
two hunters or so, down in the country."
"Well, Frank, if you're determined to get yourself married, I'll give
you the best advice in my power as to the means of doing it. Isn't that
what you want?"
"I want to know what you think I ought to do, just at this minute."
"With matrimony as the winning-post?"
"You know I wish to marry Fanny Wyndham."
"And the sooner the better--is that it?"
"Of course. She'll be of age now, in a few days," replied Lord
"Then I advise you to order a new blue coat, and to buy a
"Confusion!" cried Frank, stamping his foot; and turning away in a
passion; and then he took up his hat, to rush out of the room, in which
the latter part of the conversation had taken place.
"Stop a minute, Frank," said Blake, "and don't be in a passion. What I
said was only meant to show you how easy I think it is for you to marry
Miss Wyndham if you choose."
"Easy! and every soul at Grey Abbey turned against me, in consequence
of my owning that brute of a horse! I'll go over there at once, and
I'll show Lord Cashel that at any rate he shall not treat me like a
child. As for Kilcullen, if he interferes with me or my name in any
"You'll what?--thrash him?"
"Indeed, I'd like nothing better!"
"And then shoot him--be tried by your peers--and perhaps hung; is that
"Oh, that's nonsense. I don't wish to fight any one, but I am not
going to be insulted."
"I don't think you are: I don't think there's the least chance of
Kilcullen insulting you; he has too much worldly wisdom. But to come
back to Miss Wyndham: if you really mean to marry her, and if, as I
believe, she is really fond of you, Lord Cashel and all the family
can't prevent it. She is probably angry that you have not been over
there; he is probably irate at your staying here, and, not unlikely,
has made use of her own anger to make her think that she has quarrelled
with you; and hence Kilcullen's report."
"And what shall I do now?"
"Nothing to-day, but eat your dinner, and drink your wine. Ride over
to-morrow, see Lord Cashel, and tell him--but do it quite coolly, if
you can--exactly what you have heard, and how you have heard it, and
beg him to assure Lord Kilcullen that he is mistaken in his notion that
the match is off; and beg also that the report may not be repeated. Do
this; and do it as if you were Lord Cashel's equal, not as if you were
his son, or his servant. If you are collected and steady with him for
ten minutes, you'll soon find that he will become bothered and
"That's very easy to say here, but it's not so easy to do there. You
don't know him as I do: he's so sedate, and so slow, and so
dull--especially sitting alone, as he does of a morning, in that large,
dingy, uncomfortable, dusty-looking book-room of his. He measures his
words like senna and salts, and their tone is as disagreeable."
"Then do you drop out yours like prussic acid, and you'll beat him at
his own game. Those are all externals, my dear fellow. When a man knows
he has nothing within his head to trust to,--when he has neither sense
nor genius, he puts on a wig, ties up his neck in a white choker, sits
in a big chair, and frightens the world with his silence. Remember, if
you were not a baby, he would not be a bugbear."
"And should I not ask to see Fanny?"
"By all means. Don't leave Grey Abbey without seeing and making your
peace with Miss Wyndham. That'll be easy with you, because it's your
_metier_. I own that with myself it would be the most difficult part of
the morning's work. But don't ask to see her as a favour. When you've
done with the lord (and don't let your conference be very long)--when
you've done with the lord, tell him you'll say a word to the lady; and,
whatever may have been his pre-determination, you'll find that, if
you're cool, he'll be bothered, and he won't know how to refuse; and if
he doesn't prevent you, I'm sure Miss Wyndham won't."
"And if he asks about these wretched horses of mine?"
"Don't let him talk more about your affairs than you can help; but, if
he presses you--and he won't if you play your game well--tell him that
you're quite aware your income won't allow you to keep up an
establishment at the Curragh after you're married."
"But about Brien Boru, and the Derby?"
"Brien Boru! You might as well talk to him about your washing-bills!
Don't go into particulars--stick to generals. He'll never ask you those
questions unless he sees you shiver and shake like a half-whipped
After a great deal of confabulation, in which Dot Blake often repeated
his opinion of Lord Ballindine's folly in not rejoicing at an
opportunity of breaking off the match, it was determined that Frank
should ride over the next morning, and do exactly what his friend
proposed. If, however, one might judge from his apparent dread of the
interview with Lord Cashel, there was but little chance of his
conducting it with the coolness or assurance insisted on by Dot. The
probability was, that when the time did come, he would, as Blake said,
shiver and shake like a half-whipped school-boy.
"And what will you do when you're married, Frank?" said Blake; "for I'm
beginning to think the symptoms are strong, and you'll hardly get out
of it now."
"Do! why, I suppose I'll do much the same as others--have two children,
and live happy ever afterwards."
"I dare say you're right about the two children, only you might say two
dozen; but as to the living happy, that's more problematical. What do
you mean to eat and drink?"
"Eggs--potatoes and bacon--buttermilk, and potheen . It's odd if I
can't get plenty of them in Mayo, if I've nothing better."
[FOOTNOTE 21: pootheen--illegal (untaxed) whiskey, "moonshine"]
"I suppose you will, Frank; but bacon won't go down well after venison;
and a course of claret is a bad preparative for potheen punch. You're
not the man to live, with a family, on a small income, and what the
d----l you'll do I don't know. You'll fortify Kelly's Court--that'll be
the first step."
"Is it against the Repealers?"
"Faith, no; you'll join them, of course: but against the sub-sheriff,
and his officers--an army much more likely to crown their enterprises
"You seem to forget, Dot, that, after all, I'm marrying a girl with
quite as large a fortune as I had any right to expect."
"The limit to your expectations was only in your own modesty; the
less you had a right--in the common parlance--to expect, the more
you wanted, and the more you ought to have looked for. Say that Miss
Wyndham's fortune clears a thousand a year of your property, you would
never be able to get along on what you'd have. No; I'll tell you what
you'll do. You'll shut up Kelly's Court, raise the rents, take a
moderate house in London; and Lord Cashel, when his party are in, will
get you made a court stick of, and you'll lead just such a life as your
grandfather. If it's not very glorious, at any rate it's a useful
kind of life. I hope Miss Wyndham will like it. You'll have to christen
your children Ernest and Albert, and that sort of thing; that's the
worst of it; and you'll never be let to sit down, and that's a bore.
But you've strong legs. It would never do for me. I could never stand
out a long tragedy in Drury Lane, with my neck in a stiff white choker,
and my toes screwed into tight dress boots. I'd sooner be a porter
myself, for he can go to bed when the day's over."
"You're very witty, Dot; but you know I'm the last man in Ireland, not
excepting yourself, to put up with that kind of thing. Whatever I may
have to live on, I shall live in my own country, and on my own
"Very well; if you won't be a gold stick, there's the other
alternative: fortify Kelly's Court, and prepare for the sheriff's
officers. Of the two, there's certainly more fun in it; and you can go
out with the harriers on a Sunday afternoon, and live like a 'ra'al
O'Kelly of the ould times';--only the punch'll kill you in about ten
"Go on, Dot, go on. You want to provoke me, but you won't. I wonder
whether you'd bear it as well, if I told you you'd die a broken-down
black-leg, without a friend or a shilling to bless you."
"I don't think I should, because I should know that you were
threatening me with a fate which my conduct and line of life would not
warrant any one in expecting."
"Upon my word, then, I think there's quite as much chance of that as
there is of my getting shut up by bailiffs in Kelly's Court, and dying
drunk. I'll bet you fifty pounds I've a better account at my bankers
than you have in ten years."
"Faith, I'll not take it. It'll be hard work getting fifty pounds out
of you, then! In the meantime, come and play a game of billiards before
To this Lord Ballindine consented, and they adjourned to the
billiard-room; but, before they commenced playing, Blake declared that
if the names of Lord Cashel or Miss Wyndham were mentioned again that
evening, he should retreat to his own room, and spend the hours by
himself; so, for the rest of that day, Lord Ballindine was again driven
back upon Brien Boru and the Derby for conversation, as Dot was too
close about his own stable to talk much of his own horses and their
performances, except when he was doing so with an eye to business.
XI. THE EARL OF CASHEL
About two o'clock on the following morning, Lord Ballindine set off for
Grey Abbey, on horseback, dressed with something more than ordinary
care, and with a considerable palpitation about his heart. He hardly
knew, himself, what or whom he feared, but he knew that he was afraid
of something. He had a cold, sinking sensation within him, and he felt
absolutely certain that he should be signally defeated in his present
mission. He had plenty of what is usually called courage; had his
friend recommended him instantly to call out Lord Kilcullen and shoot
him, and afterwards any number of other young men who might express a
thought in opposition to his claim on Miss Wyndham's hand, he would
have set about it with the greatest readiness and aptitude; but he knew
he could not baffle the appalling solemnity of Lord Cashel, in his own
study. Frank was not so very weak a man as he would appear to be when
in the society of Blake. He unfortunately allowed Blake to think for
him in many things, and he found a convenience in having some one to
tell him what to do; but he was, in most respects, a better, and in
some, even a wiser man than his friend. He often felt that the kind of
life he was leading--contracting debts which he could not pay, and
spending his time in pursuits which were not really congenial to him,
was unsatisfactory and discreditable: and it was this very feeling, and
the inability to defend that which he knew to be wrong and foolish,
which made him so certain that he would not be able successfully to
persist in his claim to Miss Wyndham's hand in opposition to the trite
and well-weighed objections, which he knew her guardian would put
forward. He consoled himself, however, with thinking that, at any rate,
they could not prevent his seeing her; and he was quite sanguine as to
her forgiveness, if he but got a fair opportunity of asking it. And
when that was obtained, why should the care for any one? Fanny would be
of age, and her own mistress, in a few days, and all the solemn earls
in England, and Ireland too, could not then prevent her marrying whom
and when she liked.
He thought a great deal on all his friend had said to his future
poverty; but then, his ideas and Blake's were very different about
life. Blake's idea of happiness was, the concentrating of every thing
into a focus for his own enjoyment; whereas he, Frank, had only had
recourse to dissipation and extravagance, because he had nothing to
make home pleasant to him. If he once had Fanny Wyndham installed as
Lady Ballindine, at Kelly's Court, he was sure he could do his duty as
a country gentleman, and live on his income, be it what it might, not
only without grumbling, but without wishing for anything more. He
was fond of his country, his name, and his countrymen: he was fully
convinced of his folly in buying race-horses, and in allowing himself
to be dragged on the turf: he would sell Brien Boru, and the other two
Irish chieftains, for what they would fetch, and show Fanny and her
guardian that he was in earnest in his intention of reforming. Blake
might laugh at him if he liked; but he would not stay to be laughed
at. He felt that Handicap Lodge was no place for him; and besides, why
should he bear Dot's disagreeable sarcasms? It was not the part of a
real friend to say such cutting things as he continually did. After
all, Lord Cashel would be a safer friend, or, at any rate, adviser;
and, instead of trying to defeat him by coolness or insolence, he would
at once tell him of all his intentions, explain to him exactly how
matters stood, and prove his good resolutions by offering to take
whatever steps the earl might recommend about the horses. This final
determination made him easier in this mind, and, as he entered the
gates of Grey Abbey Park, he was tolerably comfortable, trusting to his
own good resolutions, and the effect which he felt certain the
expression of them must have on Lord Cashel.
Grey Abbey is one of the largest but by no means one of the most
picturesque demesnes in Ireland. It is situated in the county of
Kildare, about two miles from the little town of Kilcullen, in a
flat, uninteresting, and not very fertile country. The park itself is
extensive and tolerably well wooded, but it wants water and undulation,
and is deficient of any object of attraction, except that of size and
not very magnificent timber. I suppose, years ago, there was an Abbey
here, or near the spot, but there is now no vestige of it remaining. In
a corner of the demesne there are standing the remains of one of those
strong, square, ugly castles, which, two centuries since, were the real
habitations of the landed proprietors of the country, and many of which
have been inhabited even to a much later date. They now afford the
strongest record of the apparently miserable state of life which even
the favoured of the land then endured, and of the numberless domestic
comforts which years and skill have given us, apt as we are to look
back with fond regret to the happy, by-gone days of past periods.
This old castle, now used as a cow-shed, is the only record of
antiquity at Grey Abbey; and yet the ancient family of the Greys have
lived there for centuries. The first of them who possessed property in
Ireland, obtained in the reign of Henry II, grants of immense tracts of
land, stretching through Wicklow, Kildare, and the Queen's and King's
Counties; and, although his descendants have been unable to retain,
through the various successive convulsions which have taken place in
the interior of Ireland since that time, anything like an eighth of
what the family once pretended to claim, the Earl of Cashel, their
present representative, has enough left to enable him to consider
himself a very great man.
The present mansion, built on the site of that in which the family had
lived till about seventy years since, is, like the grounds, large,
commodious, and uninteresting. It is built of stone, which appears as
if it had been plastered over, is three stories high, and the windows
are all of the same size, and at regular intervals. The body of the
house looks like a huge, square, Dutch old lady, and the two wings
might be taken for her two equally fat, square, Dutch daughters.
Inside, the furniture is good, strong, and plain. There are plenty of
drawing-rooms, sitting-rooms, bed-rooms, and offices; a small gallery
of very indifferent paintings, and a kitchen, with an excellent
kitchen-range, and patent boilers of every shape.
Considering the nature of the attractions, it is somewhat strange that
Lord Cashel should have considered it necessary to make it generally
known that the park might be seen any day between the hours of nine and
six, and the house, on Tuesdays and Fridays between the hours of eleven
and four. Yet such is the case, and the strangeness of this proceeding
on his part is a good deal diminished by the fact that persons,
either induced by Lord Cashel's good nature, or thinking that any big
house must be worth seeing, very frequently pay half-a-crown to the
housekeeper for the privilege of being dragged through every room in
There is a bed there, in which the Regent slept when in Ireland, and a
room which was tenanted by Lord Normanby, when Lord Lieutenant. There
is, moreover, a satin counterpane, which was made by the lord's aunt,
and a snuff-box which was given to the lord's grandfather by Frederick
the Great. These are the lions of the place, and the gratification
experienced by those who see them is, no doubt, great; but I doubt if
it equals the annoyance and misery to which they are subjected in being
obliged to pass one unopened door--that of the private room of Lady
Selina, the only daughter of the earl at present unmarried.
It contains only a bed, and the usual instruments of a lady's toilet;
but Lady Selina does not choose to have it shown, and it has become
invested, in the eyes of the visitors, with no ordinary mystery. Many a
petitionary whisper is addressed to the housekeeper on the subject, but
in vain; and, consequently, the public too often leave Grey Abbey
As Lord Ballindine rode through the gates, and up the long approach
to the house, he was so satisfied of the wisdom of his own final
resolution, and of the successful termination of his embassy under such
circumstances, that he felt relieved of the uncomfortable sensation of
fear which had oppressed him; and it was only when the six-foot high,
powdered servant told him, with a very solemn face, that the earl was
alone in the book-room--the odious room he hated so much--that he began
again to feel a little misgiving. However, there was nothing left
for him now, so he gave up his horse to the groom, and followed the
sober-faced servant into the book-room.
Lord Cashel was a man about sixty-three, with considerable external
dignity of appearance, though without any personal advantage, either in
face, figure, or manner. He had been an earl, with a large income, for
thirty years; and in that time he had learned to look collected, even
when his ideas were confused; to keep his eye steady, and to make a few
words go a long way. He had never been intemperate, and was, therefore,
strong and hale for his years,--he had not done many glaringly foolish
things, and, therefore, had a character for wisdom and judgment. He had
run away with no man's wife, and, since his marriage, had seduced no
man's daughter; he was, therefore, considered a moral man. He was not
so deeply in debt as to have his affairs known to every one; and hence
was thought prudent. And, as he lived in his own house, with his own
wife, paid his servants and labourers their wages regularly, and nodded
in church for two hours every Sunday, he was thought a good man. Such
were his virtues; and by these negative qualities--this _vis inertiae_,
he had acquired, and maintained, a considerable influence in the
When Lord Ballindine's name was announced, he slowly rose, and, just
touching the tip of Frank's fingers, by way of shaking hands with him,
hoped he had the pleasure of seeing him well.
The viscount hoped the same of the earl--and of the ladies. This
included the countess and Lady Selina, as well as Fanny, and was,
therefore, not a particular question; but, having hoped this, and the
earl remaining silent, he got confused, turned red, hummed and hawed
a little, sat down, and then, endeavouring to drown his confusion in
volubility, began talking quickly about his anxiety to make final
arrangements concerning matters, which, of course, he had most deeply
at heart; and, at last, ran himself fairly aground, from not knowing
whether, under the present circumstances, he ought to speak of his
affianced to her guardian as "Fanny", or "Miss Wyndham".
When he had quite done, and was dead silent, and had paused
sufficiently long to assure the earl that he was going to say nothing
further just at present, the great man commenced his answer.
"This is a painful subject, my lord--most peculiarly painful at the
present time; but, surely, after all that has passed--but especially
after what has _not_ passed"--Lord Cashel thought this was a dead
hit--"you cannot consider your engagement with Miss Wyndham to be still
"Good gracious!--and why not, my lord? I am ready to do anything her
friends--in fact I came solely, this morning, to consult yourself,
about--I'm sure Fanny herself can't conceive the engagement to
be broken off. Of course, if Miss Wyndham wishes it--but I can't
believe--I can't believe--if it's about the horses, Lord Cashel, upon
my word, I'm ready to sell them to-day."
This was not very dignified in poor Frank, and to tell the truth, he
was completely bothered. Lord Cashel looked so more than ordinarily
glum; had he been going to put on a black cap and pass sentence of
death, or disinherit his eldest son, he could not have looked more
stern or more important. Frank's lack of dignity added to his, and made
him feel immeasurably superior to any little difficulty which another
person might have felt in making the communication he was going to
make. He was really quite in a solemn good humour. Lord Ballindine's
confusion was so flattering.
"I can assure you, my lord, Miss Wyndham calls for no such sacrifice,
nor do I. There was a time when, as her guardian, I ventured to
hint--and I own I was taking a liberty, a fruitless liberty, in doing
so--that I thought your remaining on the turf was hardly prudent.
But I can assure you, with all kindly feeling--with no approach to
animosity--that I will not offend in a similar way again. I hear,
by mere rumour, that you have extended your operations to the other
kingdom. I hope I have not been the means of inducing you to do so;
but, advice, if not complied with, often gives a bias in an opposite
direction. With regard to Miss Wyndham, I must express--and I really
had thought it was unnecessary to do so, though it was certainly my
intention, as it was Miss Wyndham's wish, that I should have written
to you formally on the subject--but your own conduct--excuse me, Lord
Ballindine--your own evident indifference, and continued, I fear I must
call it, dissipation--and your, as I considered, unfortunate selection
of acquaintance, combined with the necessary diminution of that
attachment which I presume Miss Wyndham once felt for you--necessary,
inasmuch as it was, as far as I understand, never of a sufficiently
ardent nature to outlive the slights--indeed, my lord, I don't wish to
offend you, or hurt your feelings--but, I must say, the slights which
it encountered--." Here the earl felt that his sentence was a little
confused, but the viscount looked more so; and, therefore, not at
all abashed by the want of a finish to his original proposition, he
continued glibly enough:
"In short, in considering all the features of the case, I thought
the proposed marriage a most imprudent one; and, on questioning Miss
Wyndham as to her feelings, I was, I must own, gratified to learn that
she agreed with me; indeed, she conceived that your conduct gave ample
proof, my lord, of your readiness to be absolved from your engagement;
pardon me a moment, my lord--as I said before, I still deemed it
incumbent on me, and on my ward, that I, as her guardian, should give
you an absolute and written explanation of her feelings:--that would
have been done yesterday, and this most unpleasant meeting would have
been spared to both of us, but for the unexpected--Did you hear of the
occurrence which has happened in Miss Wyndham's family, my lord?"
"Occurrence? No, Lord Cashel; I did not hear of any especial
There had been a peculiarly solemn air about Lord Cashel during the
whole of the interview, which deepened into quite funereal gloom as he
asked the last question; but he was so uniformly solemn, that this had
not struck Lord Ballindine. Besides, an appearance of solemnity agreed
so well with Lord Cashel's cast of features and tone of voice, that a
visage more lengthened, and a speech somewhat slower than usual, served
only to show him off as so much the more clearly identified by his own
characteristics. Thus a man who always wears a green coat does not
become remarkable by a new green coat; he is only so much the more than
ever, the man in the green coat.
Lord Ballindine, therefore, answered the question without the
appearance of that surprise which Lord Cashel expected he would feel,
if he had really not yet heard of the occurrence about to be related to
him. The earl, therefore, made up his mind, as indeed he had nearly
done before, that Frank knew well what was going to be told him, though
it suited his purpose to conceal his knowledge. He could not, however,
give his young brother nobleman the lie; and he was, therefore,
constrained to tell his tale, as if to one to whom it was unknown. He
was determined, however, though he could not speak out plainly, to let
Frank see that he was not deceived by his hypocrisy, and that he, Lord
Cashel, was well aware, not only that the event about to be told had
been known at Handicap Lodge, but that the viscount's present visit to
Grey Abbey had arisen out of that knowledge.
Lord Ballindine, up to this moment, was perfectly ignorant of this
event, and it is only doing justice to him to say that, had he heard of
it, it would at least have induced him to postpone his visit for some
time. Lord Cashel paused for a few moments, looking at Frank in a most
diplomatic manner, and then proceeded to unfold his budget.
"I am much surprised that you should not have heard of it. The
distressing news reached Grey Abbey yesterday, and must have been well
known in different circles in Dublin yesterday morning. Considering the
great intercourse between Dublin and the Curragh, I wonder you can have
been left so long in ignorance of a circumstance so likely to be widely
discussed, and which at one time might have so strongly affected your
own interests." Lord Cashel again paused, and looked hard at Frank. He
flattered himself that he was reading his thoughts; but he looked as if
he had detected a spot on the other's collar, and wanted to see whether
it was ink or soot.
Lord Ballindine was, however, confounded. When the earl spoke of
"a circumstance so likely to be widely discussed", Mat Tierney's
conversation recurred to him, and Lord Kilcullen's public declaration
that Fanny Wyndham's match was off.--It was certainly odd for Lord
Cashel to call this an occurrence in Miss Wyndham's family, but then,
he had a round-about way of saying everything.
"I say," continued the earl, after a short pause, "that I cannot but be
surprised that an event of so much importance, of so painful a nature,
and, doubtless, already so publicly known, should not before this have
reached the ears of one to whom, I presume, Miss Wyndham's name was not
always wholly indifferent. But, as you have not heard it, my lord, I
will communicate it to you," and again he paused, as though expecting
another assurance of Lord Ballindine's ignorance.
"Why, my lord," said Frank, "I did hear a rumour, which surprised me
very much, but I could not suppose it to be true. To tell the truth, it
was very much in consequence of what I heard that I came to Grey Abbey
It was now Lord Cashel's turn to be confounded. First, to deny that he
had heard anything about it--and then immediately to own that he had
heard it, and had been induced to renew his visits to Grey Abbey in
consequence! Just what he, in his wisdom, had suspected was the case.
But how could Lord Ballindine have the face to own it?
I must, however, tell the reader the event of which Frank was ignorant,
and which, it appears, Lord Cashel is determined not to communicate to
Fanny Wyndham's father had held a governorship, or some golden
appointment in the golden days of India, and consequently had died
rich. He left eighty thousand pounds to his son, who was younger than
Fanny, and twenty to his daughter. His son had lately been put into the
Guards, but he was not long spared to enjoy his sword and his uniform.
He died, and his death had put his sister in possession of his money;
and Lord Cashel thought that, though Frank might slight twenty thousand
pounds, he would be too glad to be allowed to remain the accepted
admirer of a hundred thousand.
"I thought you must have heard it, my lord," resumed the senior, as
soon as he had collected his shreds of dignity, which Frank's open
avowal had somewhat scattered, "I felt certain you must have heard it,
and you will, I am sure, perceive that this is no time for you--excuse
me if I use a word which may appear harsh--it is no time for any one,
not intimately connected with Miss Wyndham by ties of family, to
intrude upon her sorrow."
Frank was completely bothered. He thought that if she were so
sorrowful, if she grieved so deeply at the match being broken off, that
was just the reason why he should see her. After all, it was rather
flattering to himself to hear of her sorrows; dear Fanny! was she so
grieved that she was forced to part from him?
"But, Lord Cashel," he said, "I am ready to do whatever you please.
I'll take any steps you'll advise. But I really cannot see why I'm to
be told that the engagement between me and Miss Wyndham is off, without
hearing any reason from herself. I'll make any sacrifice you please, or
she requires; I'm sure she was attached to me, and she cannot have
overcome that affection so soon."
"I have already said that we require--Miss Wyndham requires--no
sacrifice from you. The time for sacrifice is past; and I do not think
her affection was of such a nature as will long prey on her spirits."
"My affection for her is, I can assure you--"
"Pray excuse me--but I think this is hardly the time either to talk of,
or to show, your affection. Had it been proved to be of a lasting, I
fear I must say, a sincere nature, it would now have been most valued.
I will leave yourself to say whether this was the case."
"And so you mean to say, Lord Cashel, that I cannot see Miss Wyndham?"
"Assuredly, Lord Ballindine. And I must own, that I hardly appreciate
your delicacy in asking to do so at the present moment."
There was something very hard in this. The match was to be broken off
without any notice to him; and when he requested, at any rate, to hear
this decision from the mouth of the only person competent to make it,
he was told that it was indelicate for him to wish to do so. This put
his back up.
"Well, my lord," he said with some spirit, "Miss Wyndham is at present
your ward, and in your house, and I am obliged to postpone the exercise
of the right, to which, at least, I am entitled, of hearing her
decision from her own mouth. I cannot think that she expects I should
be satisfied with such an answer as I have now received. I shall write
to her this evening, and shall expect at any rate the courtesy of an
answer from herself."
"My advice to my ward will be, not to write to you; at any rate for the
present. I presume, my lord, you cannot doubt my word that Miss Wyndham
chooses to be released from an engagement, which I must say your own
conduct renders it highly inexpedient for her to keep."
"I don't doubt your word, of course, Lord Cashel; but such being the
case, I think Miss Wyndham might at least tell me so herself."
"I should have thought, Lord Ballindine, that you would have felt
that the sudden news of a dearly loved brother's death, was more than
sufficient to excuse Miss Wyndham from undergoing an interview which,
even under ordinary circumstances, would be of very doubtful
"Her brother's death! Good gracious! Is Harry Wyndham dead!"
Frank was so truly surprised--so effectually startled by the news,
which he now for the first time heard, that, had his companion
possessed any real knowledge of human nature, he would at once have
seen that his astonishment was not affected. But he had none, and,
therefore, went on blundering in his own pompous manner.
"Yes, my lord, he is dead. I understood you to say that you had already
heard it; and, unless my ears deceived me, you explained that his
demise was the immediate cause of your present visit. I cannot,
however, go so far as to say that I think you have exercised a sound
discretion in the matter. In expressing such an opinion, however, I am
far from wishing to utter anything which may be irritating or offensive
to your feelings."
"Upon my word then, I never heard a word about it till this moment!
Poor Harry! And is Fanny much cut up?"
"Miss Wyndham is much afflicted."
"I wouldn't for worlds annoy her, or press on her at such a moment.
Pray tell her, Lord Cashel, how deeply I feel her sorrows: pray tell
her this, with my kindest--best compliments."
This termination was very cold--but so was Lord Cashel's face. His
lordship had also risen from his chair; and Frank saw it was intended
that the interview should end. But he would now have been glad to stay.
He wanted to ask a hundred questions;--how the poor lad had died?
whether he had been long ill?--whether it had been expected? But he saw
that he must go; so he rose and putting out his hand which Lord Cashel
just touched, he said,
"Good bye, my lord. I trust, after a few months are gone by, you may
see reason to alter the opinion you have expressed respecting your
ward. Should I not hear from you before then, I shall again do myself
the honour of calling at Grey Abbey; but I will write to Miss Wyndham
before I do so."
Lord Cashel had the honour of wishing Lord Ballindine a very good
morning, and of bowing him to the door; and so the interview ended.
XII. FANNY WYNDHAM
When Lord Cashel had seen Frank over the mat which lay outside his
study door, and that there was a six foot servitor to open any other
door through which he might have to pass, he returned to his seat, and,
drawing his chair close to the fire, began to speculate on Fanny and
her discarded lover.
He was very well satisfied with himself, and with his own judgment and
firmness in the late conversation. It was very evident that Frank had
heard of Harry Wyndham's death, and of Fanny's great accession of
wealth; that he had immediately determined that the heiress was no
longer to be neglected, and that he ought to strike while the iron was
hot: hence his visit to Grey Abbey. His pretended ignorance of the
young man's death, when he found he could not see Miss Wyndham, was a
ruse; but an old bird like Lord Cashel was not to be caught with chaff.
And then, how indelicate of him to come and press his suit immediately
after news of so distressing a nature had reached Miss Wyndham! How
very impolitic, thought Lord Cashel, to show such a hurry to take
possession of the fortune!--How completely he had destroyed his own
game. And then, other thoughts passed through his mind. His ward had
now one hundred thousand pounds clear, which was, certainly, a great
deal of ready money. Lord Cashel had no younger sons; but his heir,
Lord Kilcullen, was an expensive man, and owed, he did not exactly
know, and was always afraid to ask, how much. He must marry soon, or he
would be sure to go to the devil. He had been living with actresses and
opera-dancers quite long enough for his own respectability; and, if he
ever intended to be such a pattern to the country as his father, it was
now time for him to settle down. And Lord Cashel bethought himself that
if he could persuade his son to marry Fanny Wyndham and pay his debts
with her fortune--(surely he couldn't owe more than a hundred thousand
pounds?)--he would be able to give them a very handsome allowance to
To do Lord Cashel justice, we must say that he had fully determined
that it was his duty to break off the match between Frank and his ward,
before he heard of the accident which had so enriched her. And Fanny
herself, feeling slighted and neglected--knowing how near to her her
lover was, and that nevertheless he never came to see her--hearing
his name constantly mentioned in connection merely with horses and
jockeys--had been induced to express her acquiescence in her guardian's
views, and to throw poor Frank overboard. In all this the earl had been
actuated by no mercenary views, as far as his own immediate family was
concerned. He had truly and justly thought that Lord Ballindine, with
his limited fortune and dissipated habits, was a bad match for his
ward; and he had, consequently, done his best to break the engagement.
There could, therefore, he thought, be nothing unfair in his taking
advantage of the prudence which he had exercised on her behalf. He
did not know, when he was persuading her to renounce Lord Ballindine,
that, at that moment, her young, rich, and only brother, was lying
at the point of death. He had not done it for his own sake, or Lord
Kilcullen's; there could, therefore, be nothing unjust or ungenerous in
their turning to their own account the two losses, that of her lover
and her brother, which had fallen on Miss Wyndham at the same time. If
he, as her guardian, would have been wrong to allow Lord Ballindine to
squander her twenty thousands, he would be so much the more wrong to
let him make ducks and drakes of five times as much. In this manner he
quieted his conscience as to his premeditated absorption of his ward's
fortune. It was true that Lord Kilcullen was a heartless roue, whereas
Lord Ballindine was only a thoughtless rake; but then, Lord Kilcullen
would be an earl, and a peer of parliament, and Lord Ballindine was
only an Irish viscount. It was true that, in spite of her present
anger, Fanny dearly loved Lord Ballindine, and was dearly loved by him;
and that Lord Kilcullen was not a man to love or be loved; but then,
the Kelly's Court rents--what were they to the Grey Abbey rents? Not
a twentieth part of them! And, above all, Lord Kilcullen's vices were
filtered through the cleansing medium of his father's partiality, and
Lord Ballindine's faults were magnified by the cautious scruples of
The old man settled, therefore, in his own mind, that Fanny should be
his dear daughter, and the only difficulty he expected to encounter was
with his hopeful son. It did not occur to him that Fanny might object,
or that she could be other than pleased with the arrangement. He
determined, however, to wait a little before the tidings of her future
destiny should be conveyed to her, although no time was to be lost in
talking over the matter with Lord Kilcullen. In the meantime, it would
be necessary for him to tell Fanny of Lord Ballindine's visit; and
the wily peer was glad to think that she could not but be further
disgusted at the hurry which her former lover had shown to renew his
protestations of affection, as soon as the tidings of her wealth had
reached him. However, he would say nothing on that head: he would
merely tell her that Lord Ballindine had called, had asked to see her,
and had been informed of her determination to see him no more.
He sat, for a considerable time, musing over the fire, and
strengthening his resolution; and then he stalked and strutted into the
drawing-room, where the ladies were sitting, to make his communication
to Miss Wyndham.
Miss Wyndham, and her cousin, Lady Selina Grey, the only unmarried
daughter left on the earl's hands, were together. Lady Selina was not
in her _premiere jeunesse_ , and, in manner, face, and disposition,
was something like her father: she was not, therefore, very charming;
but his faults were softened down in her; and what was pretence in
him, was, to a certain degree, real in her. She had a most exaggerated
conception of her own station and dignity, and of what was due to her,
and expected from her. Because her rank enabled her to walk out of a
room before other women, she fancied herself better than them, and
entitled to be thought better. She was plain, red-haired, and in no
ways attractive; but she had refused the offer of a respectable country
gentleman, because he was only a country gentleman, and then flattered
herself that she owned the continuance of her maiden condition to her
high station, which made her a fit match only for the most exalted
magnates of the land. But she was true, industrious, and charitable;
she worked hard to bring her acquirements to that pitch which she
considered necessary to render her fit for her position; she truly
loved her family, and tried hard to love her neighbours, in which she
might have succeeded but for the immeasurable height from which she
looked down on them. She listened, complacently, to all those serious
cautions against pride, which her religion taught her, and considered
that she was obeying its warnings, when she spoke condescendingly to
those around her. She thought that condescension was humility, and that
her self-exaltation was not pride, but a proper feeling of her own and
her family's dignity.
[FOOTNOTE 22: premiere jeunesse--(French) prime of youth]
Fanny Wyndham was a very different creature. She, too, was proud, but
her pride was of another, if not of a less innocent cast; she was proud
of her own position; but it was as Fanny Wyndham, not as Lord Cashel's
niece, or anybody's daughter. She had been brought out in the
fashionable world, and liked, and was liked by, it; but she felt that
she owed the character which three years had given her, to herself, and
not to those around her. She stood as high as Lady Selina, though on
very different grounds. Any undue familiarity would have been quite as
impossible with one as with the other. Lady Selina chilled intruders to
a distance; Fanny Wyndham's light burned with so warm a flame, that
butterflies were afraid to trust their wings within its reach. She was
neither so well read, nor so thoughtful on what she did read, as her
friend; but she could turn what she learned to more account, for the
benefit of others. The one, in fact, could please, and the other could
Fanny Wyndham was above the usual height; but she did not look tall,
for her figure was well-formed and round, and her bust full. She had
dark-brown hair, which was never curled, but worn in plain braids,
fastened at the back of her head, together with the long rich folds
which were collected there under a simple comb. Her forehead was high,
and beautifully formed, and when she spoke, showed the animation of her
character. Her eyes were full and round, of a hazel colour, bright and
soft when she was pleased, but full of pride and displeasure when her
temper was ruffled, or her dignity offended. Her nose was slightly
_retrousse_ , but not so much so as to give to her that pertness,
of which it is usually the index. The line of her cheeks and chin
was very lovely: it was this which encouraged her to comb back that
luxuriant hair, and which gave the greatest charm to her face. Her
mouth was large, too large for a beauty, and therefore she was not a
regular beauty; but, were she talking to you, and willing to please
you, you could hardly wish it to be less. I cannot describe the shade
of her complexion, but it was rich and glowing; and, though she was not
a brunette, I believe that in painting her portrait, an artist would
have mixed more brown than other colours.
[FOOTNOTE 23: retrousse--(French) turned-up]
At the time of which I am now speaking, she was sitting, or rather
lying, on a sofa, with her face turned towards her cousin, but her eyes
fixed on vacancy. As might have been expected, she was thinking of her
brother, and his sudden death; but other subjects crowded with that
into her mind, and another figure shared with him her thoughts. She had
been induced to give her guardian an unqualified permission to reject,
in her name, any further intercourse with Frank; and though she had
doubtless been induced to do so by the distressing consciousness that
she had been slighted by him, she had cheated herself into the belief
that prudence had induced her to do so. She felt that she was not
fitted to be a poor man's wife, and that Lord Ballindine was as ill
suited for matrimonial poverty. She had, therefore, induced herself to
give him up; may-be she was afraid that if she delayed doing so, she
might herself be given up. Now, however, the case was altered; though
she sincerely grieved for her brother, she could not but recollect the
difference which his death made in her own position; she was now a
great heiress, and, were she to marry Lord Ballindine, if she did
not make him a rich man, she would, at any rate, free him from all
Besides, could she give him up now? now that she was rich? He would
first hear of her brother's death and her wealth, and then would
immediately be told that she had resolved to reject him. Could she bear
that she should be subjected to the construction which would fairly be
put upon her conduct, if she acted in this manner? And then, again, she
felt that she loved him; and she did love him, more dearly than she
was herself aware. She began to repent of her easy submission to her
guardian's advice, and to think how she could best unsay what she had
already said. She had lost her brother; could she afford also to lose
her lover? She had had none she could really love but those two. And
the tears again came to her eyes, and Lady Selina saw her, for the
twentieth time that morning, turn her face to the back of the sofa,
and heard her sob.
Lady Selina was sitting at one of the windows, over her carpet-work
frame. She had talked a great deal of sound sense to Fanny that
morning, about her brother, and now prepared to talk some more.
Preparatory to this, she threw back her long red curls from her face,
and wiped her red nose, for it was February.
"Fanny, you should occupy yourself, indeed you should, my dear. It's no
use your attempting your embroidery, for your mind would still wander
to him that is no more. You should read; indeed you should. Do go on
with Gibbon. I'll fetch it for you, only tell me where you were."
"I could not read, Selina; I could not think about what I read, more
than about the work."
"But you should try, Fanny,--the very attempt would be work to your
mind: besides, you would be doing your duty. Could all your tears bring
him back to you? Can all your sorrow again restore him to his friends?
No! and you have great consolation, Fanny, in reflecting that your
remembrance of your brother is mixed with no alloy. He had not lived
to be contaminated by the heartless vices of that portion of the
world into which he would probably have been thrown; he had not
become dissipated--extravagant--and sensual. This should be a great
consolation to you."
It might be thought that Lady Selina was making sarcastic allusions
to her own brother and to Fanny's lover; but she meant nothing of the
kind. Her remarks were intended to be sensible, true, and consolatory;
and they at any rate did no harm, for Fanny was thinking of something
else before she had half finished her speech.
They had both again been silent for a short time, when the door opened,
and in came the earl. His usual pomposity of demeanour was somewhat
softened by a lachrymose air, which, in respect to his ward's grief, he
put on as he turned the handle of the door; and he walked somewhat more
gently than usual into the room.
"Well, Fanny, how are you now?" he said, as he crept up to her. "You
shouldn't brood over these sad thoughts. Your poor brother has gone to
a better world; we shall always think of him as one who had felt no
sorrow, and been guilty of but few faults. He died before he had wasted
his fortune and health, as he might have done:--this will always be a
It was singular how nearly alike were the platitudes of the daughter
and the father. The young man had not injured his name, or character,
in the world, and had left his money behind him: and, therefore, his
death was less grievous!
Fanny did not answer, but she sat upright on the sofa as he came up to
her--and he then sat down beside her.
"Perhaps I'm wrong, Fanny, to speak to you on other subjects so soon
after the sad event of which we heard last night; but, on the whole,
I think it better to do so. It is good for you to rouse yourself, to
exert yourself to think of other things; besides it will be a comfort
to you to know that I have already done, what I am sure you strongly
wished to have executed at once."
It was not necessary for the guardian to say anything further to induce
his ward to listen. She knew that he was going to speak about Lord
Ballindine, and she was all attention.
"I shall not trouble, you, Fanny, by speaking to you now, I hope?"
"No;" said Fanny, with her heart palpitating. "If it's anything I ought
to hear, it will be no trouble to me."
"Why, my dear, I do think you ought to know, without loss of time that
Lord Ballindine has been with me this morning."
Fanny blushed up to her hair--not with shame, but with emotion as to
what was coming next.
"I have had a long conversation with him," continued the earl, "in the
book-room, and I think I have convinced him that it is for your mutual
happiness"--he paused, for he couldn't condescend to tell a lie; but in
his glib, speechifying manner, he was nearly falling into one--"mutual
happiness" was such an appropriate prudential phrase that he could not
resist the temptation; but he corrected himself--"at least, I think I
have convinced him that it is impossible that he should any longer look
upon Miss Wyndham as his future wife."
Lord Cashel paused for some mark of approbation. Fanny saw that she was
expected to speak, and, therefore, asked whether Lord Ballindine was
still in the house. She listened tremulously for his answer; for she
felt that if her lover were to be rejected, he had a right, after what
had passed between them, to expect that she should, in person, express
her resolution to him. And yet, if she had to see him now, could she
reject him? could she tell him that all the vows that had been made
between them were to be as nothing? No! she could only fall on his
shoulder, and weep in his arms. But Lord Cashel had managed better than
"No, Fanny; neither he nor I, at the present moment, could expect
you--could reasonably expect you, to subject yourself to anything so
painful as an interview must now have been. Lord Ballindine has left
the house--I hope, for the last time--at least, for many months."
These words fell cold upon Fanny's ears, "Did he leave any--any message
"Nothing of any moment; nothing which it can avail to communicate to
you: he expressed his grief for your brother's death, and desired I
should tell you how grieved he was that you should be so afflicted."
"Poor Harry!" sobbed Fanny, for it was a relief to cry again, though
her tears were more for her lover than her brother. "Poor Harry! they
were very fond of each other. I'm sure he must have been sorry--I'm
sure he'd feel it"--and she paused, and sobbed again--"He had heard of
Harry's death, then?"
When she said this, she had in her mind none of the dirty suspicion
that had actuated Lord Cashel; but he guessed at her feelings by his
own, and answered accordingly.
"At first I understood him to say he had; but then, he seemed to wish
to express that he had not. My impression, I own, is, that he must have
heard of it; the sad news must have reached him."
Fanny still did not understand the earl. The idea of her lover coming
after her money immediately on her obtaining possession of it, never
entered her mind; she thought of her wealth as far as it might have
affected him, but did not dream of its altering his conduct towards
"And did he seem unhappy about it?" she continued. "I am sure it would
make him very unhappy. He could not have loved Harry better if he had
been his brother," and then she blushed again through her tears, as she
remembered that she had intended that they should be brothers.
Lord Cashel did not say anything more on this head; he was fully
convinced that Lord Ballindine only looked on the young man's death as
a windfall which he might turn to his own advantage; but he thought it
would be a little too strong to say so outright, just at present.
"It will be a comfort for you to know that this matter is now settled,"
continued the earl, "and that no one can attach the slightest blame to
you in the matter. Lord Ballindine has shown himself so very imprudent,
so very unfit, in every way, for the honour you once intended him, that
no other line of conduct was open to you than that which you have
This treading on the fallen was too much for Fanny. "I have no right
either to speak or to think ill of him," said she, through her tears;
"and if any one is ill-treated in the matter it is he. But did he not
ask to see me?"
"Surely, Fanny, you would not, at the present moment, have wished to
"Oh, no; it is a great relief, under all the circumstances, not
having to do so. But was he contented? I should be glad that he were
satisfied--that he shouldn't think I had treated him harshly, or
rudely. Did he appear as if he wished to see me again?"
"Why, he certainly did ask for a last interview--which, anticipating
your wishes, I have refused."
"But was he satisfied? Did he appear to think that he had been badly
"Rejected lovers," answered the earl with a stately smile, "seldom
express much satisfaction with the terms of their rejection; but I
cannot say that Lord Ballindine testified any strong emotion." He rose
from the sofa as he said this, and then, intending to clinch the nail,
added as he went to the door--"to tell the truth, Fanny, I think Lord
Ballindine is much more eager for an alliance with your fair self now,
than he was a few days back, when he could never find a moment's
time to leave his horses, and his friend Mr Blake, either to see his
intended wife, or to pay Lady Cashel the usual courtesy of a morning
visit." He then opened the door, and, again closing it, added--"I
think, however, Fanny, that what has now passed between us will secure
you from any further annoyance from him."
Lord Cashel, in this last speech, had greatly overshot his mark; his
object had been to make the separation between his ward and her lover
permanent; and, hitherto, he had successfully appealed to her pride and
her judgment. Fanny had felt Lord Cashel to be right, when he told her
that she was neglected, and that Frank was dissipated, and in debt. She
knew she should be unhappy as the wife of a poor nobleman, and she felt
that it would break her proud heart to be jilted herself. She had,
therefore, though unwillingly, still entirely agreed with her, guardian
as to the expediency of breaking off, the match; and, had Lord Cashel
been judicious, he might have confirmed her in this resolution; but his
last thunderbolt, which had been intended to crush Lord Ballindine, had
completely recoiled upon himself. Fanny now instantly understood the
allusion, and, raising her face, which was again resting on her hands,
looked at him with an indignant glance through her tears.
Lord Cashel, however, had left the room without observing the
indignation expressed in Fanny's eyes; but she was indignant; she
knew Frank well enough to be sure that he had come to Grey Abbey that
morning with no such base motives as those ascribed to him. He might
have heard of Harry's death, and come there to express his sorrow, and
offer that consolation which she felt she could accept from him sooner
than from any living creature:--or, he might have been ignorant of it
altogether; but that he should come there to press his suit because her
brother was dead--immediately after his death--was not only impossible;
but the person who could say it was possible, must be false and untrue
to her. Her uncle could not have believed it himself: he had basely
pretended to believe it, that he might widen the breach which he had
Fanny was alone, in the drawing-room--for her cousin had left it as
soon as her father began to talk about Lord Ballindine, and she sat
there glowering through her tears for a long time. Had Lord Ballindine
been able to know all her thoughts at this moment, he would have felt
little doubt as to the ultimate success of his suit.
XIII. FATHER AND SON
Lord Cashel firmly believed, when he left the room, that he had shown
great tact in discovering Frank's mercenary schemes, and in laying them
open before Fanny; and that she had firmly and finally made up her mind
to have nothing more to do with him. He had not long been re-seated in
his customary chair in the book-room, before he began to feel a certain
degree of horror at the young lord's baseness, and to think how
worthily he had executed his duty as a guardian, in saving Miss Wyndham
from so sordid a suitor. From thinking of his duties as a guardian, his
mind, not unnaturally, recurred to those which were incumbent on him
as a father, and here nothing disturbed his serenity. It is true that,
from an appreciation of the lustre which would reflect back upon
himself from allowing his son to become a decidedly fashionable young
man, he had encouraged him in extravagance, dissipation, and heartless
worldliness; he had brought him up to be supercilious, expensive,
unprincipled, and useless. But then, he was gentlemanlike, dignified,
and sought after; and now, the father reflected, with satisfaction,
that, if he could accomplish his well-conceived scheme, he would pay
his son's debts with his ward's fortune, and, at the same time, tie
him down to some degree of propriety and decorum, by a wife. Lord
Kilcullen, when about to marry, would be obliged to cashier his
opera-dancers and their expensive crews; and, though he might not leave
the turf altogether, when married he would gradually be drawn out of
turf society, and would doubtless become a good steady family nobleman,
like his father. Why, he--Lord Cashel himself--wise, prudent, and
respectable as he was--example as he knew himself to be to all peers,
English, Irish, and Scotch,--had had his horses, and his indiscretions,
when he was young. And then he stroked the calves of his legs, and
smiled grimly; for the memory of his juvenile vices was pleasant to
Lord Cashel thought, as he continued to reflect on the matter, that
Lord Ballindine was certainly a sordid schemer; but that his son was a
young man of whom he had just reason to be proud, and who was worthy
of a wife in the shape of a hundred thousand pounds. And then, he
congratulated himself on being the most anxious of guardians and the
best of fathers; and, with these comfortable reflections, the worthy
peer strutted off, through his ample doors, up his lofty stairs, and
away through his long corridors, to dress for dinner. You might have
heard his boots creaking till he got inside his dressing-room, but you
must have owned that they did so with a most dignified cadence.
It was pleasant enough, certainly, planning all these things; but there
would be some little trouble in executing them. In the first place,
Lord Kilcullen--though a very good son, on the whole, as the father
frequently remarked to himself--was a little fond of having a will of
his own, and may-be, might object to dispense with his dancing-girls.
And though there was, unfortunately, but little doubt that the money
was indispensably necessary to him, it was just possible that he might
insist on having the cash without his cousin. However, the proposal
must be made, and, as the operations necessary to perfect the marriage
would cause some delay, and the money would certainly be wanted as soon
as possible, no time was to be lost. Lord Kilcullen was, accordingly,
summoned to Grey Abbey; and, as he presumed his attendance was required
for the purpose of talking over some method of raising the wind, he
obeyed the summons.--I should rather have said of raising a storm, for
no gentle puff would serve to waft him through his present necessities.
Down he came, to the great delight of his mother, who thought him
by far the finest young man of the day, though he usually slighted,
snubbed, and ridiculed her--and of his sister, who always hailed with
dignified joy the return of the eldest scion of her proud family to the
ancestral roof. The earl was also glad to find that no previous
engagement detained him; that is, that he so far sacrificed his
own comfort as to leave Tattersall's and the _Figuranti_ of the
Opera-House, to come all the way to Grey Abbey, in the county of
Kildare. But, though the earl was glad to see his son, he was still a
little consternated: the business interview could not be postponed,
as it was not to be supposed that Lord Kilcullen would stay long at
Grey Abbey during the London season; and the father had yet hardly
sufficiently crammed himself for the occasion. Besides, the pressure
from without must have been very strong to have produced so immediate a
compliance with a behest not uttered in a very peremptory manner, or,
generally speaking, to a very obedient child.
On the morning after his arrival, the earl was a little uneasy in his
chair during breakfast. It was rather a sombre meal, for Fanny had by
no means recovered her spirits, nor did she appear to be in the way to
do so. The countess tried to chat a little to her son, but he hardly
answered her; and Lady Selina, though she was often profound, was never
amusing. Lord Cashel made sundry attempts at general conversation, but
as often failed. It was, at last, however, over; and the father
requested the son to come with him into the book-room.
When the fire was poked, and the chairs were drawn together over the
rug, there were no further preliminaries which could be decently
introduced, and the earl was therefore forced to commence.
"Well, Kilcullen, I'm glad you're come to Grey Abbey. I'm afraid,
however, we shan't induce you to stay with us long, so it's as well
perhaps to settle our business at once. You would, however, greatly
oblige your mother, and I'm sure I need not add, myself, if you could
make your arrangements so as to stay with us till after Easter. We
could then return together."
"Till after Easter, my lord! I should be in the Hue and Cry before that
time, if I was so long absent from my accustomed haunts. Besides I
should only put out your own arrangements, or rather, those of Lady
Cashel. There would probably be no room for me in the family coach.".
"The family coach won't go, Lord Kilcullen. I am sorry to say, that the
state of my affairs at present renders it advisable that the family
should remain at Grey Abbey this season. I shall attend my
parliamentary duties alone."
This was intended as a hit the first at the prodigal son, but Kilcullen
was too crafty to allow it to tell. He merely bowed his head, and
opened his eyes, to betoken his surprise at such a decision, and
"Indeed," continued Lord Cashel, "I did not even intend to have gone
myself, but the unexpected death of Harry Wyndham renders it necessary.
I must put Fanny's affairs in a right train. Poor Harry!--did you see
much of him during his illness?"
"Why, no--I can't say I did. I'm not a very good hand at doctoring or
nursing. I saw him once since he got his commission, glittering with
his gold lace like a new weather-cock on a Town Hall. He hadn't time to
polish the shine off."
"His death will make a great difference, as far as Fanny is
"Indeed it will: her fortune now is considerable;--a deuced pretty
thing, remembering that it's all ready money, and that she can touch it
the moment she's of age. She's entirely off with Ballindine, isn't
"Oh, entirely," said the earl, with considerable self-complacency;
"that affair is entirely over."
"I've stated so everywhere publicly; but I dare say, she'll give him
her money, nevertheless. She's not the girl to give over a man, if
she's really fond of him."
"But, my dear Kilcullen, she has authorised me to give him a final
answer, and I have done so. After that, you know, it would be quite
impossible for her to--to--"
"You'll see;--she'll marry Lord Ballindine. Had Harry lived, it might
have been different; but now she's got all her brother's money, she'll
think it a point of honour to marry her poor lover. Besides, her
staying this year in the country will be in his favour: she'll see no
one here--and she'll want something to think of. I understand he has
altogether thrown himself into Blake's hands--the keenest fellow in
Ireland, with as much mercy as a foxhound. He's a positive fool, is
"I'm afraid he is--I'm afraid he is. And you may be sure I'm too fond
of Fanny--that is, I have too much regard for the trust reposed in me,
to allow her to throw herself away upon him."
"That's all very well; but what can you do?"
"Why, not allow him to see her; and I've another plan in my head for
"Ah!--but the thing is to put the plan into _her_ head. I'd be sorry
to hear of a fine girl like Fanny Wyndham breaking her heart in a
half-ruined barrack in Connaught, without money to pay a schoolmaster
to teach her children to spell. But I've too many troubles of my own
to think of just at present, to care much about hers;" and the son and
heir got up, and stood with his back to the fire, and put his arms
under his coat-laps. "Upon my soul, my lord, I never was so hard up in
Lord Cashel now prepared himself for action. The first shot was fired,
and he must go on with the battle.
"So I hear, Kilcullen; and yet, during the last four years, you've had
nearly double your allowance; and, before that, I paid every farthing
you owed. Within the last five years, you've had nearly forty thousand
pounds! Supposing you'd had younger brothers, Lord Kilcullen--supposing
that I had had six or eight sons instead of only one; what would you
have done? How then would you have paid your debts?"
"Fate having exempted me and your lordship from so severe a curse, I
have never turned my mind to reflect what I might have done under such
"Or, supposing I had chosen, myself, to indulge in those expensive
habits, which would have absorbed my income, and left me unable to do
more for you, than many other noblemen in my position do for their
sons--do you ever reflect how impossible it would then have been for me
to have helped you out of your difficulties?"
"I feel as truly grateful for your self-denial in this respect, as I do
in that of my non-begotten brethren."
Lord Cashel saw that he was laughed at, and he looked angry; but he did
not want to quarrel with his son, so he continued:
"Jervis writes me word that it is absolutely necessary that thirty
thousand pounds should be paid for you at once; or, that your remaining
in London--or, in fact, in the country at all, is quite out of the
"Indeed, my lord, I'm afraid Jervis is right."
"Thirty thousand pounds! Are you aware what your income is?"
"Why, hardly. I know Jervis takes care that I never see much of it."
"Do you mean that you don't receive it?"
"Oh, I do not at all doubt its accurate payment. I mean to say, that
I don't often have the satisfaction of seeing much of it at the right
side of my banker's book."
"Thirty thousand pounds! And will that sum set you completely free in
"I am sorry to say it will not--nor nearly."
"Then, Lord Kilcullen," said the earl, with most severe, but still most
courteous dignity, "may I trouble you to be good enough to tell me
what, at the present moment, you do owe?"
"I'm afraid I could not do so with any accuracy; but it is more than
double the sum you have named."
"Do you mean, that you have no schedule of your debts?--no means of
acquainting me with the amount? How can you expect that I can assist
you, when you think it too much trouble to make yourself thoroughly
acquainted with the state of your own affairs?"
"A list could certainly be made out, if I had any prospect of being
able to settle the amount. If your lordship can undertake to do so at
once, I will undertake to hand you a correct list of the sums due,
before I leave Grey Abbey. I presume you would not require to know
exactly to whom all the items were owing."
This effrontery was too much, and Lord Cashel was very near to losing
"Upon my honour, Kilcullen, you're cool, very cool. You come upon me
to pay, Heaven knows how many thousands--more money, I know, than I'm
able to raise; and you condescendingly tell me that you will trouble
yourself so far as to let me know how much money I am to give you--but
that I am not to know what is done with it! No; if I am to pay your
debts again, I will do it through Jervis."
"Pray remember," replied Lord Kilcullen, not at all disturbed from his
equanimity, "that I have not proposed that you should pay my debts
without knowing where the money went; and also that I have not yet
asked you to pay them at all."
"Who, then, do you expect will pay them? I can assure you I should be
glad to be relieved from the honour."
"I merely said that I had not yet made any proposition respecting them.
Of course, I expect your assistance. Failing you, I have no resource
but the Jews. I should regret to put the property into their hands;
especially as, hitherto, I have not raised money on post obits ."
[FOOTNOTE 24: post obit--a loan that need not be repaid until
the death of a specified individual, usually
someone from whom the borrower expected to inherit
enough to repay the loan]
"At any rate, I'm glad of that," said the father, willing to admit any
excuse for returning to his good humour. "That would be ruin; and I
hope that anything short of that may be--may be--may be done something
The expression was not dignified, and it pained the earl to make it;
but it was expressive, and he didn't wish at once to say that he had a
proposal for paying off his son's debts. "But now, Kilcullen, tell me
fairly, in round figures, what do you think you owe?--as near as you
can guess, without going to pen and paper, you know?"
"Well, my lord, if you will allow me, I will make a proposition to you.
If you will hand over to Mr Jervis fifty thousand pounds, for him to
pay such claims as have already been made upon him as your agent, and
such other debts as I may have sent in to him: and if you will give
myself thirty thousand, to pay such debts as I do not choose to have
paid by an agent, I will undertake to have everything settled."
"Eighty thousand pounds in four years! Why, Kilcullen, what have you
done with it?--where has it gone? You have five thousand a-year, no
house to keep up, no property to support, no tenants to satisfy, no
rates to pay--five thousand a-year for your own personal expenses--and,
in four years, you have got eighty thousand in debt! The property
never can stand that, you know. It never can stand at that rate. Why,
Kilcullen, what have you done with it?"
"Mr Crockford has a portion of it, and John Scott has some of it. A
great deal of it is scattered rather widely--so widely that it would be
difficult now to trace it. But, my lord, it has gone. I won't deny that
the greater portion of it has been lost at play, or on the turf. I
trust I may, in future, be more fortunate and more cautious."
"I trust so. I trust so, indeed. Eighty thousand pounds! And do you
think I can raise such a sum as that at a week's warning?"
"Indeed, I have no doubt as to your being able to do so: it may be
another question whether you are willing."
"I am not--I am not able," said the libelled father. "As you know well
enough, the incumbrances on the property take more than a quarter of my
"There can, nevertheless, be no doubt of your being able to have the
money, and that at once, if you chose to go into the market for it. I
have no doubt but that Mr Jervis could get it for you at once at five
"Four thousand a-year gone for ever from the property!--and what
security am I to have that the same sacrifice will not be again
incurred, after another lapse of four years?"
"You can have no security, my lord, against my being in debt. You can,
however, have every security that you will not again pay my debts, in
your own resolution. I trust, however, that I have some experience to
prevent my again falling into so disagreeable a predicament. I think I
have heard your Lordship say that you incurred some unnecessary
expenses yourself in London, before your marriage!"
"I wish, Kilcullen, that you had never exceeded your income more than
I did mine. But it is no use talking any further on this subject. I
cannot, and I will not--I cannot in justice either to myself or to you,
borrow this money for you; nor, if I could, should I think it right to
"Then what the devil's the use of talking about it so long?" said the
dutiful son, hastily jumping up from the chair in which he had again
sat down. "Did you bring me down to Grey Abbey merely to tell me that
you knew of my difficulties, and that you could do nothing to assist
"Now, don't put yourself into a passion--pray don't!" said the father,
a little frightened by the sudden ebullition. "If you'll sit down, and
listen to me, I'll tell you what I propose. I did not send for you
here without intending to point out to you some method of extricating
yourself from your present pecuniary embarrassment; and, if you have
any wish to give up your course, of--I must say, reckless profusion,
and commence that upright and distinguished career, which I still hope
to see you take, you will, I think, own that my plan is both a safer
and a more expedient one than that which you have proposed. It is quite
time for you now to abandon the expensive follies of youth; and,"--Lord
Cashel was getting into a delightfully dignified tone, and felt himself
prepared for a good burst of common-place eloquence; but his son looked
impatient, and as he could not take such liberty with him as he could
with Lord Ballindine, he came to the point at once, and ended abruptly
by saying, "and get married."
"For the purpose of allowing my wife to pay my debts?"
"Why, not exactly that; but as, of course, you could not marry any
woman but a woman with a large fortune, that would follow as a matter