Part 7 out of 10
But still the same question recurred,--what was to be done? Venting his
wrath on Lord Cashel would not get him out of the difficulty: going
was out of the question; writing was of little use. Could he not send
somebody else? Some one who could not be refused admittance to Fanny,
and who might at any rate learn what her wishes and feelings were? He
did not like making love by deputy; but still, in his present dilemma,
he could think of nothing better. But whom was he to send? Bingham
Blake was a man of character, and would not make a fool of himself; but
he was too young; he would not be able to make his way to Fanny. No--a
young unmarried man would not do.--Mat Tierney?--he was afraid of
no one, and always cool and collected; but then, Mat was in London;
besides, he was a sort of friend of Kilcullen's. General Bourke?
No one could refuse an _entree_ to his venerable grey hairs, and
polished manner; besides, his standing in the world was so good, so
unexceptionable; but then the chances were he would not go on such
an errand; he was too old to be asked to take such a troublesome
service; and besides, if asked, it was very probable he would say
that he considered Lord Cashel entitled to his ward's obedience. The
rector--the Rev. Joseph Armstrong? He must be the man: there was, at
any rate, respectability in his profession; and he had sufficient
worldly tact not easily to be thrust aside from his object: the
difficulty would be, whether he had a coat sufficiently decent to
appear in at Grey Abbey.
After mature consideration he made up his mind that the parson should
be his ambassador. He would sooner have confided in Bingham Blake, but
an unmarried man would not do. No; the parson must be the man. Frank
was, unfortunately, but little disposed to act in any case without
advice, and in his anxiety to consult some one as to consulting the
parson, returned into the house, to make a clear breast of it to his
mother. He found her in the breakfast-room with the two girls, and the
three were holding council deep.
"Oh, here's Frank," said Sophy; "we'd better tell him all about it at
once--and he'll tell us which she'd like best."
"We didn't mean to tell you," said Guss; "but I and Sophy are going to
work two sofas for the drawing-room--in Berlin wool, you know: they'll
be very handsome--everybody has them now, you know; they have a
splendid pair at Ballyhaunis which Nora and her cousin worked."
"But we want to know what pattern would suit Fanny's taste," said
"Well; you can't know that," said Frank rather pettishly, "so you'd
better please yourselves."
"Oh, but you must know what she likes," continued Guss; "I'm for this,"
and she, displayed a pattern showing forth two gorgeous macaws--each
with plumage of the brightest colours. "The colours are so bright, and
the feathers will work in so well."
"I don't like anything in worsted-work but flowers," said Sophy; "Nora
Dillon says she saw two most beautiful wreaths at that shop in Grafton
Street, both hanging from bars, you know; and that would be so much
prettier. I'm sure Fanny would like flowers best; wouldn't she now,
Frank?--Mamma thinks the common cross-bar patterns are nicer for
"Indeed I do, my dear," said Mrs O'Kelly; "and you see them much more
common now in well-furnished drawing-rooms. But still I'd much sooner
have them just what Fanny would like best. Surely, Frank, you must have
heard her speak about worsted-work?"
All this completely disconcerted Frank, and made him very much out of
love with his own plan of consulting his mother. He gave the trio some
not very encouraging answer as to their good-natured intentions towards
his drawing-room, and again left them alone. "Well; there's nothing for
it but to send the parson; I don't think he'll make a fool of himself,
but then I know he'll look so shabby. However, here goes," and he
mounted his nag, and rode off to Ballindine glebe.
The glebe-house was about a couple of miles from Kelly's Court, and it
was about half-past four when Lord Ballindine got there. He knocked at
the door, which was wide open, though it was yet only the last day of
March, and was told by a remarkably slatternly maid-servant, that her
master was "jist afther dinner;" that he was stepped out, but was about
the place, and could be "fetched in at oncet;"--and would his honour
walk in? And so Lord Ballindine was shown into the rectory drawing-room
on one side of the passage (alias hall), while the attendant of all
work went to announce his arrival in the rectory dining-room on the
other side. Here Mrs Armstrong was sitting among her numerous progeny,
securing the _debris_ of the dinner from their rapacious paws, and
endeavouring to make two very unruly boys consume the portions of fat
which had been supplied to them with, as they loudly declared, an
unfairly insufficient quantum of lean. As the girl was good-natured
enough to leave both doors wide open, Frank had the full advantage of
"Now, Greg," said the mother, "if you leave your meat that way I'll
have it put by for you, and you shall have nothing but potatoes till
"Why, mother, it's nothing but tallow; look here; you gave me all the
"I'll tell your dada, and see what he'll say, if you call the meat
tallow; and you're just as bad, Joe; worse if anything--gracious me,
here's waste! well, I'll lock it up for you, and you shall both of you
eat it to-morrow, before you have a bit of anything else."
Then followed a desperate fit of coughing.
"My poor Minny!" said the mother, "you're just as bad as ever. Why
would you go out on the wet grass?--Is there none of the black currant
"No, mother," coughed Minny, "not a bit."
"Greg ate it all," peached Sarah, an elder sister; "I told him not, but
"Greg, I'll have you flogged, and you never shall come from school
again. What's that you're saying, Mary?"
"There's a jintleman in the drawing-room as is axing afther masther."
"Gentleman--what gentleman?" asked the lady.
"Sorrow a know I know, ma'am!" said Mary, who was a new
importation--"only, he's a dark, sightly jintleman, as come on a
"And did you send for the master?"
"I did, ma'am; I was out in the yard, and bad Patsy go look for him."
"It's Nicholas Dillon, I'll bet twopence," said Greg, jumping up to
rush into the other room: "he's come about the black colt, I know."
"Stay where you are, Greg; and don't go in there with your dirty face
and fingers;" and, after speculating a little longer, the lady went
into the drawing-room herself; though, to tell the truth, her own face
and fingers were hardly in a state suitable for receiving company.
Mrs Armstrong marched into the drawing-room with something of a stately
air, to meet the strange gentleman, and there she found her old friend
Lord Ballindine. Whoever called at the rectory, and at whatever hour
the visit might be made, poor Mrs Armstrong was sure to apologise for
the confusion in which she was found. She had always just got rid of a
servant, and could not get another that suited her; or there was some
other commonplace reason for her being discovered _en deshabille_
. However, she managed to talk to Frank for a minute or two with
tolerable volubility, till her eyes happening to dwell on her own
hands, which were certainly not as white as a lady's should be, she
became a little uncomfortable and embarrassed--tried to hide them in
her drapery--then remembered that she had on her morning slippers,
which were rather the worse for wear; and, feeling too much ashamed of
her _tout ensemble_ to remain, hurried out of the room, saying that she
would go and see where Armstrong could possibly have got himself to.
She did not appear again to Lord Ballindine.
[FOOTNOTE 40: en deshabille--(French) partly or scantily dressed]
Poor Mrs Armstrong!--though she looked so little like one, she had
been brought up as a lady, carefully and delicately; and her lot was
the more miserable, for she knew how lamentable were her present
deficiencies. When she married a poor curate, having, herself, only
a few hundred pounds' fortune, she had made up her mind to a life of
comparative poverty; but she had meant even in her poverty to be
decent, respectable, and lady-like. Weak health, nine children, an
improvident husband, and an income so lamentably ill-suited to her
wants, had however been too much for her, and she had degenerated into
a slatternly, idle scold.
In a short time the parson came in from his farm, rusty and
muddy--rusty, from his clerical dress; muddy from his farming
occupations; and Lord Ballindine went into the business of his embassy.
He remembered, however, how plainly he had heard the threats about the
uneaten fat, and not wishing the household to hear all he had to say
respecting Fanny Wyndham, he took the parson out into the road before
the house, and, walking up and down, unfolded his proposal.
Mr Armstrong expressed extreme surprise at the nature of the mission on
which he was to be sent; secondly at the necessity of such a mission at
all; and thirdly, lastly, and chiefly, at the enormous amount of the
heiress's fortune, to lose which he declared would be an unpardonable
sin on Lord Ballindine's part. He seemed to be not at all surprised
that Lord Cashel should wish to secure so much money in his own family;
nor did he at all participate in the unmeasured reprobation with which
Frank loaded the worthy earl's name. One hundred and thirty thousand
pounds would justify anything, and he thought of his nine poor
children, his poor wife, his poor home, his poor two hundred a-year,
and his poor self. He calculated that so very rich a lady would most
probably have some interest in the Church, which she could not but
exercise in his favour, if he were instrumental in getting her married;
and he determined to go. Then the, difficult question as to the
wardrobe occurred to him. Besides, he had no money for the road. Those,
however, were minor evils to be got over, and he expressed himself
willing to undertake the embassy.
"But, my dear Ballindine; what is it I'm to do?" said he. "Of course
you know, I'd do anything for you, as of course I ought--anything that
ought to be done; but what is it exactly you wish me to say?"
"You see, Armstrong, that pettifogging schemer told me he didn't wish
me to come to his house again, and I wouldn't, even for Fanny Wyndham,
force myself into any man's house. He would not let me see her when I
was there, and I could not press it, because her brother was only just
dead; so I'm obliged to take her refusal second hand. Now I don't
believe she ever sent the message he gave me. I think he has made her
believe that I'm deserting and ill-treating her; and in this way she
may be piqued and tormented into marrying Kilcullen."
"I see it now: upon my word then Lord Cashel knows how to play his
cards! But if I go to Grey Abbey I can't see her without seeing him."
"Of course not--but I'm coming to that. You see, I have no reason
to doubt Fanny's love; she has assured me of it a thousand times. I
wouldn't say so to you even, as it looks like boasting, only it's so
necessary you should know how the land lies; besides, everybody knew
it; all the world knew we were engaged."
"Oh, boasting--it's no boasting at all: it would be very little good my
going to Grey Abbey, if she had not told you so."
"Well, I think that if you were to see Lord Cashel and tell him, in
your own quiet way, who you are; that you are rector of Ballindine,
and my especial friend; and that you had come all the way from County
Mayo especially to see Miss Wyndham, that you might hear from herself
whatever message she had to send to me--if you were to do this, I don't
think he would dare to prevent you from seeing her."
"If he did, of course I would put it to him that you, who were so long
received as Miss Wyndham's accepted swain, were at least entitled to so
much consideration at her hands; and that I must demand so much on your
behalf, wouldn't that be it, eh?"
"Exactly. I see you understand it, as if you'd been at it all your
life; only don't call me her swain."
"Well, I'll think of another word--her beau."
"For Heaven's sake, no!--that's ten times worse."
"Well, her lover?"
"That's at any rate English: but say, her accepted husband--that'll be
true and plain: if you do that I think you will manage to see her, and
"Well, then--for that'll be the difficult part."
"Oh, when you see her, one simple word will do: Fanny Wyndham loves
plain dealing. Merely tell her that Lord Ballindine has not changed his
mind; and that he wishes to know from herself, by the mouth of a friend
whom he can trust, whether she has changed hers. If she tells you that
she has, I would not follow her farther though she were twice as rich
as Croesus. I'm not hunting her for her money; but I am determined that
Lord Cashel shall not make us both miserable by forcing her into a
marriage with his _roue_ of a son."
"Well, Ballindine, I'll go; but mind, you must not blame me if I fail.
I'll do the best I can for you."
"Of course I won't. When will you be able to start?"
"Why, I suppose there's no immediate hurry?" said the parson,
remembering that the new suit of clothes must be procured.
"Oh, but there is. Kilcullen will be there at once; and considering how
long it is since I saw Fanny--three months, I believe--no time should
"How long is her brother dead?"
"Oh, a month--or very near it."
"Well, I'll go Monday fortnight; that'll do, won't it?"
It was at last agreed that the parson was to start for Grey Abbey on
the Monday week following; that he was to mention to no one where he
was going; that he was to tell his wife that he was going on business
he was not allowed to talk about;--she would be a very meek woman if
she rested satisfied with that!--and that he was to present himself at
Grey Abbey on the following Wednesday.
"And now," said the parson, with some little hesitation, "my difficulty
commences. We country rectors are never rich; but when we've nine
children, Ballindine, it's rare to find us with money in our pockets.
You must advance me a little cash for the emergencies of the road."
"My dear fellow! Of course the expense must be my own. I'll send you
down a note between this and then; I haven't enough about me now. Or,
stay--I'll give you a cheque," and he turned into the house, and wrote
him a cheque for twenty pounds.
That'll get the coat into the bargain, thought the rector, as he
rather uncomfortably shuffled the bit of paper into his pocket. He had
still a gentleman's dislike to be paid for his services. But then,
Necessity--how stern she is! He literally could not have gone without
XXVII. MR LYNCH'S LAST RESOURCE
On the following morning Lord Ballindine as he had appointed to do,
drove over to Dunmore, to settle with Martin about the money, and, if
necessary, to go with him to the attorney's office in Tuam. Martin had
as yet given Daly no answer respecting Barry Lynch's last proposal;
and though poor Anty's health made it hardly necessary that any answer
should be given, still Lord Ballindine had promised to see the
attorney, if Martin thought it necessary.
The family were all in great confusion that morning, for Anty was very
bad--worse than she had ever been. She was in a paroxysm of fever, was
raving in delirium, and in such a state that Martin and his sister were
occasionally obliged to hold her in bed. Sally, the old servant, had
been in the room for a considerable time during the morning, standing
at the foot of the bed with a big tea-pot in her hand, and begging in a
whining voice, from time to time, that "Miss Anty, God bless her, might
get a dhrink of tay!" But, as she had been of no other service, and as
the widow thought it as well that she should not hear what Anty said
in her raving, she had been desired to go down-stairs, and was sitting
over the fire. She had fixed the big tea-pot among the embers, and held
a slop-bowl of tea in her lap, discoursing to Nelly, who with her hair
somewhat more than ordinarily dishevelled, in token of grief for Anty's
illness, was seated on a low stool, nursing a candle-stick.
"Well, Nelly," said the prophetic Sally, boding evil in her anger--for,
considering how long she had been in the family, she had thought
herself entitled to hear Anty's ravings; "mind, I tell you, good won't
come of this. The Virgin prothect us from all harum!--it niver war
lucky to have sthrangers dying in the house."
"But shure Miss Anty's no stranger."
"Faix thin, her words must be sthrange enough when the likes o' me
wouldn't be let hear 'em. Not but what I did hear, as how could I help
it? There'll be no good come of it. Who's to be axed to the wake, I'd
like to know."
"Axed to the wake, is it? Why, shure, won't there be rashions of ating
and lashings of dhrinking? The misthress isn't the woman to spare, and
sich a frind as Miss Anty dead in the house. Let 'em ax whom they
"You're a fool, Nelly--Ax whom they like!--that's asy said. Is they to
ax Barry Lynch, or is they to let it alone, and put the sisther into
the sod without a word said to him about it? God be betwixt us and all
evil"--and she took a long pull at the slop-bowl; and, as the liquid
flowed down her throat, she gradually threw back her head till the top
of her mop cap was flattened against the side of the wide fire-place,
and the bowl was turned bottom upwards, so that the half-melted brown
sugar might trickle into her mouth. She then gave a long sigh, and
repeated that difficult question--"Who is they to ax to the wake?"
It was too much for Nelly to answer: she re-echoed the sigh, and more
closely embraced the candlestick.
"Besides, Nelly, who'll have the money when she's gone?--and she's nigh
that already, the Blessed Virgin guide and prothect her. Who'll get all
"Why; won't Mr Martin? Sure, an't they as good as man and wife--all as
"That's it; they'll be fighting and tearing, and tatthering about that
money, the two young men will, you'll see. There'll be lawyering, an'
magisthrate's work--an' factions--an' fighthins at fairs; an' thin, as
in course the Lynches can't hould their own agin the Kellys, there'll
be undherhand blows, an' blood, an' murdher!--you'll see else."
"Glory be to God," involuntarily prayed Nelly, at the thoughts
suggested by Sally's powerful eloquence.
"There will, I tell ye," continued Sally, again draining the tea-pot
into the bowl. "Sorrow a lie I'm telling you;" and then, in a low
whisper across the fire, "didn't I see jist now Miss Anty ketch a hould
of Misther Martin, as though she'd niver let him go agin, and bid him
for dear mercy's sake have a care of Barry Lynch?--Shure I knowed what
that meant. And thin, didn't he thry and do for herself with his own
hands? Didn't Biddy say she'd swear she heard him say he'd do it?--and
av he wouldn't boggle about his own sisther, it's little he'd mind what
he'd do to an out an out inemy like Misther Martin."
"Warn't that a knock at the hall-door, Sally?"
"Run and see, girl; may-be it's the docthor back again; only mostly he
don't mind knocking much."
Nelly went to the door, and opened it to Lord Ballindine, who had left
his gig in charge of his servant. He asked for Martin, who in a short
time, joined him in the parlour.
"This is a dangerous place for your lordship, now," said he: "the fever
is so bad in the house. Thank God, nobody seems to have taken it yet,
but there's no knowing."
"Is she still so bad, Martin?"
"Worse than iver, a dale worse; I don't think It'll last long, now:
another bout such as this last 'll about finish it. But I won't keep
your lordship. I've managed about the money;"--and the necessary
writing was gone through, and the cash was handed to Lord Ballindine.
"You've given over all thoughts then, about Lynch's offer--eh,
Martin?--I suppose you've done with all that, now?"
"Quite done with it, my lord; and done with fortune-hunting too. I've
seen enough this last time back to cure me altogether--at laist, I hope
"She doesn't mean to make any will, then?"
"Why, she wishes to make one, but I doubt whether she'll ever be able;"
and then Martin gave his landlord an account of all that Anty had said
about her will, her wishes as to the property, her desire to leave
something to him (Martin) and his sisters: and last he repeated the
strong injunctions which Anty had given him respecting her poor
brother, and her assurance, so full of affection, that had she lived
she would have done her best to make him happy as her husband.
Lord Ballindine was greatly affected; he warmly shook hands with
Martin, told him how highly he thought of his conduct, and begged him
to take care that Anty had the gratification of making her will as she
had desired to do. "The fact," Lord Ballindine said, "of your being
named in the will as her executor will give you more control over Barry
than anything else could do." He then proposed at once to go, himself,
to Tuam, and explain to Daly what it was Miss Lynch wished him to do.
This Lord Ballindine did, and the next day the will was completed.
For a week or ten days Anty remained in much the same condition.
After each attack of fever it was expected that she would perish from
weakness and exhaustion; but she still held on, and then the fever
abated, and Doctor Colligan thought that it was possible she might
recover: she was, however, so dreadfully emaciated and worn out, there
was so little vitality left in her, that he would not encourage more
than the faintest hope. Anty herself was too weak either to hope or
fear;--and the women of the family, who from continual attendance knew
how very near to death she was, would hardly allow themselves to think
that she could recover.
There were two persons, however, who from the moment of her amendment
felt an inward sure conviction of her convalescence. They were Martin
and Barry. To the former this feeling was of course one of unalloyed
delight. He went over to Kelly's Court, and spoke there of his
betrothed as though she were already sitting up and eating mutton
chops; was congratulated by the young ladies on his approaching
nuptials, and sauntered round the Kelly's Court shrubberies with Frank,
talking over his future prospects; asking advice about this and that,
and propounding the pros and cons on that difficult question, whether
he would live at Dunmore, or build a house at Toneroe for himself and
Anty. With Barry, however, the feeling was very different: he was again
going to have his property wrenched from him; he was again to suffer
the pangs he had endured, when first he learned the purport of his
father's will; after clutching the fruit for which he had striven, as
even he himself felt, so basely, it was again to be torn from him so
He had been horribly anxious for a termination to Anty's sufferings;
horribly impatient to feel himself possessor of the whole. From day to
day, and sometimes two or three times a day, he had seen Dr Colligan,
and inquired how things were going on: he had especially enjoined that
worthy man to come up after his morning call at the inn, and get a
glass of sherry at Dunmore House; and the doctor had very generally
done so. For some time Barry endeavoured to throw the veil of brotherly
regard over the true source of his anxiety; but the veil was much too
thin to hide what it hardly covered, and Barry, as he got intimate
with the doctor, all but withdrew it altogether. When Barry would say,
"Well, doctor, how is she to-day?" and then remark, in answer to the
doctor's statement that she was very bad--"Well, I suppose it can't
last much longer; but it's very tedious, isn't it, poor thing?" it
was plain enough that the brother was not longing for the sister's
recovery. And then he would go a little further, and remark that "if
the poor thing was to go, it would be better for all she went at once,"
and expressed an opinion that he was rather ill-treated by being kept
so very long in suspense.
Doctor Colligan ought to have been shocked at this; and so he was, at
first, to a certain extent, but he was not a man of a very high tone
of feeling. He had so often heard of heirs to estates longing for
the death of the proprietors of them; he had so often seen relatives
callous and indifferent at the loss of those who ought to have been
dear to them; it seemed so natural to him that Barry should want the
estate, that he gradually got accustomed to his impatient inquiries,
and listened to, and answered them, without disgust. He fell too into a
kind of intimacy with Barry; he liked his daily glass, or three or four
glasses, of sherry; and besides, it was a good thing for him to stand
well in a professional point of view with a man who had the best house
in the village, and who would soon have eight hundred a-year.
If Barry showed his impatience and discontent as long as the daily
bulletins told him that Anty was still alive, though dying, it may
easily be imagined that he did not hide his displeasure when he first
heard that she was alive and better. His brow grew very black, his
cheeks flushed, the drops of sweat stood on his forehead, and he said,
speaking through his closed teeth, "D---- it, doctor, you don't mean to
tell me she's recovering now?"
"I don't say, Mr Lynch, whether she is or no; but it's certain the
fever has left her. She's very weak, very weak indeed; I never knew a
person to be alive and have less life in 'em; but the fever has left
her and there certainly is hope."
"Hope!" said Barry--"why, you told me she couldn't live!"
"I don't say she will, Mr Lynch, but I say she may. Of course we must
do what we can for her," and the doctor took his sherry and went his
How horrible then was the state of Barry's mind! For a time he was
absolutely stupified with despair; he stood fixed on the spot where the
doctor had left him, realising, bringing home to himself, the tidings
which he had heard. His sister to rise again, as though it were from
the dead, to push him off his stool! Was he to fall again into that
horrid low abyss in which even the Tuam attorney had scorned him; in
which he had even invited that odious huxter's son to marry his sister
and live in his house? What! was he again to be reduced to poverty,
to want, to despair, by her whom he so hated? Could nothing be
done?--Something must be done--she should not be, could not be allowed
to leave that bed of sickness alive. "There must be an end of her,"
he muttered through his teeth, "or she'll drive me mad!" And then
he thought how easily he might have smothered her, as she lay there
clasping his hand, with no one but themselves in the room; and as the
thought crossed his brain his eyes nearly started from his head, the
sweat ran down his face, he clutched the money in his trousers' pocket
till the coin left an impression on his flesh, and he gnashed his teeth
till his jaws ached with his own violence. But then, in that sick-room,
he had been afraid of her; he could not have touched her then for the
wealth of the Bank of England!--but now!
The devil sat within him, and revelled with full dominion over his
soul: there was then no feeling left akin to humanity to give him one
chance of escape; there was no glimmer of pity, no shadow of remorse,
no sparkle of love, even though of a degraded kind; no hesitation
in the will for crime, which might yet, by God's grace, lead to
its eschewal: all there was black, foul, and deadly, ready for the
devil's deadliest work. Murder crouched there, ready to spring, yet
afraid;--cowardly, but too thirsty alter blood to heed its own fears.
Theft,--low, pilfering, pettifogging, theft; avarice, lust, and
impotent, scalding hatred. Controlled by these the black blood rushed
quick to and from his heart, filling him with sensual desires below the
passions of a brute, but denying him one feeling or one appetite for
aught that was good or even human.
Again the next morning the doctor was questioned with intense anxiety;
"Was she going?--was she drooping?--had yesterday's horrid doubts
raised only a false alarm?" It was utterly beyond Barry's power to make
any attempt at concealment, even of the most shallow kind. "Well,
doctor, is she dying yet?" was the brutal question he put.
"She is, if anything, rather stronger;" answered the doctor, shuddering
involuntarily at the open expression of Barry's atrocious wish, and yet
taking his glass of wine.
"The devil she is!" muttered Barry, throwing himself into an arm-chair.
He sat there some little time, and the doctor also sat down, said
nothing, but continued sipping his wine.
"In the name of mercy, what must I do?" said Barry, speaking more to
himself than to the other.
"Why, you've enough, Mr Lynch, without hers; you can do well enough
"Enough! Would you think you had enough if you were robbed of more than
half of all you have. Half, indeed," he shouted--"I may say all, at
once. I don't believe there's a man in Ireland would bear it. Nor will
Again there was a silence; but still, somehow, Colligan seemed to stay
longer than usual. Every now and then Barry would for a moment look
full in his face, and almost instantly drop his eyes again. He was
trying to mature future plans; bringing into shape thoughts which had
occurred to him, in a wild way at different times; proposing to himself
schemes, with which his brain had been long loaded, but which he had
never resolved on,--which he had never made palpable and definite. One
thing he found sure and certain; on one point he was able to become
determined: he could not do it alone; he must have an assistant; he
must buy some one's aid; and again he looked at Colligan, and again
his eyes fell. There was no encouragement there, but there was no
discouragement. Why did he stay there so long? Why did he so slowly sip
that third glass of wine? Was he waiting to be asked? was he ready,
willing, to be bought? There must be something in his thoughts--he must
have some reason for sitting there so long, and so silent, without
speaking a word, or taking his eyes off the fire.
Barry had all but made up his mind to ask the aid he wanted; but he
felt that he was not prepared to do so--that he should soon quiver and
shake, that he could not then carry it through. He felt that he wanted
spirit to undertake his own part in the business, much less to inspire
another with the will to assist him in it. At last he rose abruptly
from his chair, and said,
"Will you dine with me to-day, Colligan?--I'm so down in the mouth, so
deucedly hipped, it will be a charity."
"Well," said Colligan, "I don't care if I do. I must go down to your
sister in the evening, and I shall be near her here."
"Yes, of course; you'll be near her here, as you say: come at six,
then. By the bye, couldn't you go to Anty first, so that we won't be
disturbed over our punch?"
"I must see her the last thing,--about nine, but I can look up again
afterwards, for a minute or so. I don't stay long with her now: it's
"Well, then, you'll be here at six?"
"Yes, six sharp;" and at last the doctor got up and went away.
It was odd that Doctor Colligan should have sat thus long; it showed
a great want of character and of good feeling in him. He should never
have become intimate, or even have put up with a man expressing such
wishes as those which so often fell from Barry's lips. But he was
entirely innocent of the thoughts which Barry attributed to him. It had
never even occurred to him that Barry, bad as he was, would wish to
murder his sister. No; bad, heedless, sensual as Doctor Colligan might
be, Barry was a thousand fathoms deeper in iniquity than he.
As soon as he had left the room the other uttered a long, deep sigh.
It was a great relief to him to be alone: he could now collect his
thoughts, mature his plans, and finally determine. He took his usual
remedy in his difficulties, a glass of brandy; and, going out into the
garden, walked up and down the gravel walk almost unconsciously, for
above an hour.
Yes: he would do it. He would not be a coward. The thing had been done
a thousand times before. Hadn't he heard of it over and over again?
Besides, Colligan's manner was an assurance to him that he would not
boggle at such a job. But then, of course, he must be paid--and Barry
began to calculate how much he must offer for the service; and, when
the service should be performed, how he might avoid the fulfilment of
his portion of the bargain.
He went in and ordered the dinner; filled the spirit decanters, opened
a couple of bottles of wine, and then walked out again. In giving his
orders, and doing the various little things with which he had to keep
himself employed, everybody, and everything seemed strange to him. He
hardly knew what he was about, and felt almost as though he were in
a dream. He had quite made up his mind as to what he would do; his
resolution was fixed to carry it through but:--still there was the
but,--how was he to open it to Doctor Colligan? He walked up and down
the gravel path for a long time, thinking of this; or rather trying to
think of it, for his thoughts would fly away to all manner of other
subjects, and he continually found himself harping upon some trifle,
connected with Anty, but wholly irrespective of her death; some little
thing that she had done for him, or ought to have done; something she
had said a long time ago, and which he had never thought of till now;
something she had worn, and which at the time he did not even know that
he had observed; and as often as he found his mind thus wandering, he
would start off at a quicker pace, and again endeavour to lay out a
line of conduct for the evening.
At last, however, he came to the conclusion that it would be better to
trust to the chapter of chances: there was one thing, or rather two
things, he could certainly do: he could make the doctor half drunk
before he opened on the subject, and he would take care to be in the
same state himself. So he walked in and sat still before the fire, for
the two long remaining hours, which intervened before the clock struck
It was about noon when the doctor left him, and during those six long
solitary hours no one feeling of remorse had entered his breast. He had
often doubted, hesitated as to the practicability of his present plan,
but not once had he made the faintest effort to overcome the wish to
have the deed done. There was not one moment in which he would not most
willingly have had his sister's blood upon his hands, upon his brain,
upon his soul; could he have willed and accomplished her death, without
making himself liable to the penalties of the law.
At length Doctor Colligan came, and Barry made a great effort to appear
unconcerned and in good humour.
"And how is she now, doctor?" he said, as they sat down to table.
"Is it Anty?--why, you know I didn't mean to see her since I was here
this morning, till nine o'clock."
"Oh, true; so you were saying. I forgot. Well, will you take a glass of
wine?"--and Barry filled his own glass quite full.
He drank his wine at dinner like a glutton, who had only a short
time allowed him, and wished during that time to swallow as much as
possible; and he tried to hurry his companion in the same manner. But
the doctor didn't choose to have wine forced down his throat; he wished
to enjoy himself, and remonstrated against Barry's violent hospitality.
At last, dinner was over; the things were taken away, they both drew
their chairs over the fire, and began the business of the evening--the
making and consumption of punch. Barry had determined to begin upon the
subject which lay so near his heart, at eight o'clock. He had thought
it better to fix an exact hour, and had calculated that the whole
matter might be completed before Colligan went over to the inn. He
kept continually looking at his watch, and gulping down his drink, and
thinking over and over again how he would begin the conversation.
"You're very comfortable here, Lynch," said the doctor, stretching his
long legs before the fire, and putting his dirty boots upon the fender.
"Yes, indeed," said Barry, not knowing what the other was saying.
"All you want's a wife, and you'd have as warm a house as there is in
Galway. You'll be marrying soon, I suppose?"
"Well, I wouldn't wonder if I did. You don't take your punch; there's
brandy there, if you like it better than whiskey."
"This is very good, thank you--couldn't be better. You haven't much
land in your own hands, have you?"
"Why, no--I don't think I have. What's that you're saying?--land?--No,
not much: if there's a thing I hate, it's farming."
"Well, upon my word you're wrong. I don't see what else a gentleman has
to do in the country. I wish to goodness I could give up the gallipots
 and farm a few acres of my own land. There's nothing I wish so
much as to get a bit of land: indeed, I've been looking out for it, but
it's so difficult to get."
[FOOTNOTE 41: gallipots--A gallipot was a small ceramic vessel
used by apothecaries to hold medicines. The term
was also used colloquially to refer to apothecaries
themselves and even physicians (Trollope so uses
the term in later chapters).]
Up to this, Barry had hardly listened to what the doctor had been
saying; but now he was all attention. "So that is to be his price,"
thought he to himself, "he'll cost me dear, but I suppose he must have
Barry looked at his watch: it was near eight o'clock, but he seemed to
feel that all he had drank had had no effect on him: it had not given
him the usual pluck; it had not given him the feeling of reckless
assurance, which he mistook for courage and capacity.
"If you've a mind to be a tenant of mine, Colligan, I'll keep a look
out for you. The land's crowded now, but there's a lot of them cottier
 devils I mean to send to the right about. They do the estate no
good, and I hate the sight of them. But you know how the property's
placed, and while Anty's in this wretched state, of course I can do
[FOOTNOTE 42: cottier--an Irish tenant renting land directly from
the owner, with the price determined by bidding]
"Will you bear it in mind though, Lynch? When a bit of land does fall
into your hands, I should be glad to be your tenant. I'm quite in
earnest, and should take it as a great favour."
"I'll not forget it;" and then he remained silent for a minute. What an
opportunity this was for him to lose! Colligan so evidently wished to
be bribed--so clearly showed what the price was which was to purchase
him. But still he could not ask the fatal question.
Again he sat silent for a while, till he looked at his watch, and found
it was a quarter past eight. "Never fear," he said, referring to the
farm; "you shall have it, and it shall not be the worst land on the
estate that I'll give you, you may be sure; for, upon my soul, I have a
great regard for you; I have indeed."
The doctor thanked him for his good opinion.
"Oh! I'm not blarneying you; upon my soul I'm not; that's not the way
with me at all; and when you know me better you'll say so,--and you may
be sure you shall have the farm by Michaelmas." And then, in a voice
which he tried to make as unconcerned as possible, he continued: "By
the bye, Colligan, when do you think this affair of Anty's _will_ be
over? It's the devil and all for a man not to know when he'll be his
"Oh, you mustn't calculate on your sister's property at all now," said
the other, in an altered voice. "I tell you it's very probable she may
This again silenced Barry, and he let the time go by, till the doctor
took up his hat, to go down to his patient.
"You'll not be long, I suppose?" said Barry.
"Well, it's getting late," said Colligan, "and I don't think I'll be
coming back to-night."
"Oh, but you will; indeed, you must. You promised you would, you know,
and I want to hear how she goes on."
"Well, I'll just come up, but I won't stay, for I promised Mrs Colligan
to be home early." This was always the doctor's excuse when he wished
to get away. He never allowed his domestic promises to draw him home
when there was anything to induce him to stay abroad; but, to tell the
truth, he was getting rather sick of his companion. The doctor took his
hat, and went to his patient.
"He'll not be above ten minutes or at any rate a quarter of an hour,"
thought Barry, "and then I must do it. How he sucked it all in about
the farm!--that's the trap, certainly." And he stood leaning with
his back against the mantel-piece, and his coat-laps hanging over
his arm, waiting for and yet fearing, the moment of the doctor's
return. It seemed an age since he went. Barry looked at his
watch almost every minute; it was twenty minutes past nine,
five-and-twenty--thirty--forty--three quarters of an hour--"By Heaven!"
said he, "the man is not coming! he is going to desert me--and I shall
be ruined! Why the deuce didn't I speak out when the man was here!"
At last his ear caught the sound of the doctor's heavy foot on the
gravel outside the door, and immediately afterwards the door bell was
rung. Barry hastily poured out a glass of raw spirits and swallowed it;
he then threw himself into his chair, and Doctor Colligan again entered
"What a time you've been, Colligan! Why I thought you weren't coming
all night. Now, Terry, some hot water, and mind you look sharp about
it. Well, how's Anty to-night?"
"Weak, very weak; but mending, I think. The disease won't kill her now;
the only thing is whether the cure will."
"Well, doctor, you can't expect me to be very anxious about it:
unfortunately, we had never any reason to be proud of Anty, and it
would be humbug in me to pretend that I wish she should recover, to rob
me of what you know I've every right to consider my own." Terry brought
the hot water in, and left the room.
"Well, I can't say you do appear very anxious about it. I'll just
swallow one dandy of punch, and then I'll get home. I'm later now than
I meant to be."
"Nonsense, man. The idea of your being in a hurry, when everybody knows
that a doctor can never tell how long he may be kept in a sick-room!
But come now, tell the truth; put yourself in my condition, and do you
mean to say you'd be very anxious that Anty should recover?--Would
you like your own sister to rise from her death-bed to rob you of
everything you have? For, by Heaven! it is robbery--nothing less. She's
so stiff-necked, that there's no making any arrangement with her. I've
tried everything, fair means and foul, and nothing'll do but she must
go and marry that low young Kelly--so immeasurably beneath her, you
know, and of course only scheming for her money. Put yourself in my
place, I say; and tell me fairly what your own wishes would be?"
"I was always fond of my brothers and sisters," answered the doctor;
"and we couldn't well rob each other, for none of us had a penny to
"That's a different thing, but just supposing you were exactly in my
shoes at this moment, do you mean to tell me that you'd be glad she
should get well?--that you'd be glad she should be able to deprive you
of your property, disgrace your family, drive you from your own home,
and make your life miserable for ever after?"
"Upon my soul I can't say; but good night now, you're getting excited,
and I've finished my drop of punch."
"Ah! nonsense, man, sit down. I've something in earnest I want to say
to you," and Barry got up and prevented the doctor from leaving the
room. Colligan had gone so far as to put on his hat and great coat, and
now sat down again without taking them off.
"You and I, Colligan, are men of the world, and too wide awake for all
the old woman's nonsense people talk. What can I, or what could you in
my place, care for a half-cracked old maid like Anty, who's better dead
than alive, for her own sake and everybody's else; unless it is some
scheming ruffian like young Kelly there, who wants to make money by
"I'm not asking you to care for her; only, if those are your ideas,
it's as well not to talk about them for appearance sake."
"Appearance sake! There's nothing makes me so sick, as for two men like
you and me, who know what's what, to be talking about appearance sake,
like two confounded parsons, whose business it is to humbug everybody,
and themselves into the bargain. I'll tell you what: had my father--bad
luck to him for an old rogue--not made such a will as he did, I'd 've
treated Anty as well as any parson of 'em all would treat an old maid
of a sister; but I'm not going to have her put over my head this way.
Come, doctor, confound all humbug. I say it openly to you--to please
me, Anty must never come out of that bed alive."
"As if your wishes could make any difference. If it is to be so, she'll
die, poor creature, without your saying so much about it; but may-be,
and it's very likely too, she'll be alive and strong, after the two of
us are under the sod."
"Well; if it must be so, it must; but what I wanted to say to you is
this: while you were away, I was thinking about what you said of the
farm--of being a tenant of mine, you know."
"We can talk about that another time," said the doctor, who began to
feel an excessive wish to be out of the house.
"There's no time like the present, when I've got it in my mind; and, if
you'll wait, I can settle it all for you to-night. I was telling you
that I hate farming, and so I do. There are thirty or five-and-thirty
acres of land about the house, and lying round to the back of the town;
you shall take them off my hands, and welcome."
This was too good an offer to be resisted, and Colligan said he would
take the land, with many thanks, if the rent any way suited him.
"We'll not quarrel about that, you may be sure, Colligan," continued
Barry; "and as I said fifty acres at first--it was fifty acres I think
you were saying you wished for--I'll not baulk you, and go back from my
"What you have yourself, round the house, 'll be enough; only I'm
thinking the rent 'll be too high."
"It shall not; it shall be low enough; and, as I was saying, you shall
have the remainder, at the same price, immediately after Michaelmas, as
soon as ever those devils are ejected."
"Well;" said Colligan, who was now really interested, "what's the
Barry had been looking steadfastly at the fire during the whole
conversation, up to this: playing with the poker, and knocking the
coals about. He was longing to look into the other's face, but he did
not dare. Now, however, was his time; it was now or never: he took one
furtive glance at the doctor, and saw that he was really anxious on the
subject--that his attention was fixed.
"The figure," said he; "the figure should not trouble you if you had no
one but me to deal, with. But there'll be Anty, confound her, putting
her fist into this and every other plan of mine!"
"I'd better deal with the agent, I'm thinking," said Colligan; "so,
"You'll find you'd a deal better be dealing with me: you'll never find
an easier fellow to deal with, or one who'll put a better thing in your
Colligan again sat down. He couldn't quite make Barry out: he suspected
he was planning some iniquity, but he couldn't tell what; and he
remained silent, looking full into the other's face till he should go
on. Barry winced under the look, and hesitated; but at last he screwed
himself up to the point, and said,
"One word, between two friends, is as good as a thousand. If Anty
dies of this bout, you shall have the fifty acres, with a lease for
perpetuity, at sixpence an acre. Come, that's not a high figure, I
"What?" said Colligan, apparently not understanding him, "a lease for
perpetuity at how much an acre?"
"Sixpence--a penny--a pepper-corn--just anything you please. But it's
all on Anty's dying. While she's alive I can do nothing for the best
friend I have."
"By the Almighty above us," said the doctor, almost in a whisper, "I
believe the wretched man means me to murder her--his own sister!"
"Murder?--Who talked or said a word of murder?" said Barry, with a
hoarse and croaking voice--"isn't she dying as she is?--and isn't she
better dead than alive? It's only just not taking so much trouble to
keep the life in her; you're so exceeding clever you know!"--and he
made a ghastly attempt at smiling. "With any other doctor she'd have
been dead long since: leave her to herself a little, and the farm's
your own; and I'm sure there'll 've been nothing at all like murder
"By Heavens, he does!"--and Colligan rose quickly from his seat "he
means to have her murdered, and thinks to make me do the deed! Why, you
vile, thieving, murdering reptile!" and as he spoke the doctor seized
him by the throat, and shook him violently in his strong grasp--"who
told you I was a fit person for such a plan? who told you to come to
me for such a deed? who told you I would sell my soul for your paltry
land?"--and he continued grasping Barry's throat till he was black in
the face, and nearly choked. "Merciful Heaven! that I should have sat
here, and listened to such a scheme! Take care of yourself," said he;
and he threw him violently backwards over the chairs--"if you're to be
found in Connaught to-morrow, or in Ireland the next day, I'll hang
you!"--and so saying, he hurried out of the room, and went home.
"Well," thought he, on his road: "I have heard of such men as that
before, and I believe that when I was young I read of such: but I never
expected to meet so black a villain! What had I better do?--If I go and
swear an information before a magistrate there'll be nothing but my
word and his. Besides, he said nothing that the law could take hold of.
And yet I oughtn't to let it pass: at any rate I'll sleep on it." And
so he did; but it was not for a long time, for the recollection of
Barry's hideous proposal kept him awake.
Barry lay sprawling among the chairs till the sound of the hall door
closing told him that his guest had gone, when he slowly picked himself
up, and sat down upon the sofa. Colligan's last words were ringing
in his ear--"If you're found in Ireland the next day, I'll hang
you."--Hang him!--and had he really given any one the power to speak to
him in such language as that? After all, what had he said?--He had not
even whispered a word of murder; he had only made an offer of what he
would do if Anty should die: besides, no one but themselves had heard
even that; and then his thoughts went off to another train. "Who'd have
thought," he said to himself, "the man was such a fool! He meant it, at
first, as well as I did myself. I'm sure he did. He'd never have caught
as he did about the farm else, only he got afraid--the confounded fool!
As for hanging, I'll let him know; it's just as easy for me to tell
a story, I suppose, as it is for him." And then Barry, too, dragged
himself up to bed, and cursed himself to sleep. His waking thoughts,
however, were miserable enough.
XXVIII. FANNY WYNDHAM REBELS
We will now return to Grey Abbey, Lord Cashel, and that unhappy
love-sick heiress, his ward, Fanny Wyndham. Affairs there had taken
no turn to give increased comfort either to the earl or to his niece,
during the month which succeeded the news of young Harry Wyndham's
The former still adhered, with fixed pertinacity of purpose, to the
matrimonial arrangement which he had made with his son. Circumstances,
indeed, rendered it even much more necessary in the earl's eyes than it
had appeared to be when he first contemplated this scheme for releasing
himself from his son's pecuniary difficulties. He had, as the reader
will remember, advanced a very large sum of money to Lord Kilcullen,
to be repaid out of Fanny Wyndham's fortune, This money Lord Kilcullen
had certainly appropriated in the manner intended by his father, but
it had anything but the effect of quieting the creditors. The payments
were sufficiently large to make the whole hungry crew hear that his
lordship was paying his debts, but not at all sufficient to satisfy
their craving. Indeed, nearly the whole went in liquidation of turf
engagements, and gambling debts. The Jews, money-lenders, and tradesmen
merely heard that money was going from Lord Kilcullen's pocket; but
with all their exertions they got very little of it themselves.
Consequently, claims of all kinds--bills, duns, remonstrances and
threats, poured in not only upon the son but also upon the father. The
latter, it is true, was not in his own person liable for one penny of
them, nor could he well, on his own score, be said to be an embarrassed
man; but he was not the less uneasy. He had determined if possible to
extricate his son once more, and as a preliminary step had himself
already raised a large sum of money which it would much trouble him to
pay; and he moreover, as he frequently said to Lord Kilcullen, would
not and could not pay another penny for the same purpose, until he saw
a tolerably sure prospect of being repaid out of his ward's fortune.
He was therefore painfully anxious on the subject; anxious not only
that the matter should be arranged, but that it should be done at once.
It was plain that Lord Kilcullen could not remain in London, for he
would be arrested; the same thing would happen at Grey Abbey, if he
were to remain there long without settling his affairs; and if he were
once to escape his creditors by going abroad, there would be no such
thing as getting him back again. Lord Cashel saw no good reason why
there should be any delay; Harry Wyndham was dead above a month, and
Fanny was evidently grieving more for the loss of her lover than that
of her brother; she naturally felt alone in the world--and, as Lord
Cashel thought, one young viscount would be just as good as another.
The advantages, too, were much in favour of his son; he would one day
be an earl, and possess Grey Abbey. So great an accession of grandeur,
dignity, and rank could not but be, as the earl considered, very
delightful to a sensible girl like his ward. The marriage, of course,
needn't be much hurried; four or five months' time would do for that;
he was only anxious that they should be engaged--that Lord Kilcullen
should be absolutely accepted--Lord Ballindine finally rejected.
The earl certainly felt some scruples of conscience at the sacrifice
he was making of his ward, and stronger still respecting his ward's
fortune; but he appeased them with the reflection that if his son were
a gambler, a _roue_, and a scamp, Lord Ballindine was probably just as
bad; and that if the latter were to spend all Fanny's money there would
be no chance of redemption; whereas he could at any rate settle on his
wife a jointure, which would be a full compensation for the loss of her
fortune, should she outlive her husband and father-in-law. Besides, he
looked on Lord Kilcullen's faults as a father is generally inclined to
look on those of a son, whom he had not entirely given up--whom he is
still striving to redeem. He called his iniquitous vices, follies--his
licentiousness, love of pleasure--his unprincipled expenditure and
extravagance, a want of the knowledge of what money was: and his worst
sin of all, because the one least likely to be abandoned, his positive,
unyielding damning selfishness, he called "fashion"--the fashion of the
young men of the day.
Poor Lord Cashel! he wished to be honest to his ward; and yet to save
his son, and his own pocket at the same time, at her expense: he
wished to be, in his own estimation, high-minded, honourable, and
disinterested, and yet he could not resist the temptation to be
generous to his own flesh and blood at the expense of another. The
contest within him made him miserable; but the devil and mammon were
too strong for him, particularly coming as they did, half hidden
beneath the gloss of parental affection. There was little of the Roman
about the earl, and he could not condemn his own son; so he fumed and
fretted, and twisted himself about in the easy chair in his dingy
book-room, and passed long hours in trying to persuade himself that it
was for Fanny's advantage that he was going to make her Lady Kilcullen.
He might have saved himself all his anxiety. Fanny Wyndham had much
too strong a mind--much too marked a character of her own, to be made
Lady Anything by Lord Anybody. Lord Cashel might possibly prevent her
from marrying Frank, especially as she had been weak enough, through
ill-founded pique and anger, to lend him her name for dismissing him;
but neither he nor anyone else could make her accept one man, while she
loved another, and while that other was unmarried.
Since the interview between Fanny and her uncle and aunt, which has
been recorded, she had been nearly as uncomfortable as Lord Cashel, and
she had, to a certain extent, made the whole household as much so as
herself. Not that there was anything of the kill-joy character in
Fanny's composition; but that the natural disposition of Grey Abbey
and all belonging to it was to be dull, solemn, slow, and respectable.
Fanny alone had ever given any life to the place, or made the house
tolerable; and her secession to the ranks of the sombre crew was
therefore the more remarked. If Fanny moped, all Grey Abbey might
figuratively be said to hang down its head. Lady Cashel was, in every
sense of the words, continually wrapped up in wools and worsteds. The
earl was always equally ponderous, and the specific gravity of Lady
Selina could not be calculated. It was beyond the power of figures,
even in algebraic denominations, to describe her moral weight.
And now Fanny did mope, and Grey Abbey was triste  indeed.
Griffiths in my lady's boudoir rolled and unrolled those huge white
bundles of mysterious fleecy hosiery with more than usually slow and
unbroken perseverance. My lady herself bewailed the fermentation among
the jam-pots with a voice that did more than whine, it was almost
funereal. As my lord went from breakfast-room to book-room, from
book-room to dressing-room, and from dressing-room to dining-room, his
footsteps creaked with a sound more deadly than that of a death-watch.
The book-room itself had caught a darker gloom; the backs of the books
seemed to have lost their gilding, and the mahogany furniture its
French polish. There, like a god, Lord Cashel sate alone, throned amid
clouds of awful dulness, ruling the world of nothingness around by the
silent solemnity of his inertia.
[FOOTNOTE 43: triste--(French) sad, mournful, dull, dreary]
Lady Selina was always useful, but with a solid, slow activity, a
dignified intensity of heavy perseverance, which made her perhaps more
intolerable than her father. She was like some old coaches which we
remember--very sure, very respectable; but so tedious, so monotonous,
so heavy in their motion, that a man with a spark of mercury in his
composition would prefer any danger from a faster vehicle to their
horrid, weary, murderous, slow security. Lady Selina from day to day
performed her duties in a most uncompromising manner; she knew what was
due to her position, and from it, and exacted and performed accordingly
with a stiff, steady propriety which made her an awful if not a hateful
creature. One of her daily duties, and one for the performance of which
she had unfortunately ample opportunity, was the consolation of Fanny
under her troubles. Poor Fanny! how great an aggravation was this
to her other miseries! For a considerable time Lady Selma had known
nothing of the true cause of Fanny's gloom; for though the two cousins
were good friends, as far as Lady Selina was capable of admitting so
human a frailty as friendship, still Fanny could not bring herself to
make a confidante of her. Her kind, stupid, unpretending old aunt was a
much better person to talk to, even though she did arch her eyebrows,
and shake her head when Lord Ballindine's name was mentioned, and
assure her niece that though she had always liked him herself, he
could not be good for much, because Lord Kilcullen had said so. But
Fanny could not well dissemble; she was tormented by Lady Selina's
condolements, and recommendations of Gibbon, her encomiums on industry,
and anathemas against idleness; she was so often reminded that weeping
would not bring back her brother, nor inactive reflection make his fate
less certain, that at last she made her monitor understand that it was
about Lord Ballindine's fate that she was anxious, and that it was his
coming back which might be effected by weeping--or other measures.
Lady Selina was shocked by such feminine, girlish weakness, such want
of dignity and character, such forgetfulness, as she said to Fanny, of
what was due to her own position. Lady Selina was herself unmarried,
and not likely to marry; and why had she maintained her virgin state,
and foregone the blessings of love and matrimony? Because, as she often
said to herself, and occasionally said to Fanny, she would not step
down from the lofty pedestal on which it had pleased fortune and birth
to place her.
She learned, however, by degrees, to forgive, though she couldn't
approve, Fanny's weakness; she remembered that it was a very different
thing to be an earl's niece and an earl's daughter, and that the same
conduct could not be expected from Fanny Wyndham and Lady Selina Grey.
The two were sitting together, in one of the Grey Abbey drawing-rooms,
about the middle of April. Fanny had that morning again been talking
to her guardian on the subject nearest to her heart, and had nearly
distracted him by begging him to take steps to make Frank understand
that a renewal of his visits at Grey Abbey would not be ill received.
Lord Cashel at first tried to frighten her out of her project by
silence, frowns, and looks: but not finding himself successful, he
commenced a long oration, in which he broke down, or rather, which he
had to cut up into sundry short speeches; in which he endeavoured to
make it appear that Lord Ballindine's expulsion had originated with
Fanny herself, and that, banished or not banished, the less Fanny had
to do with him the better. His ward, however, declared, in rather a
tempestuous manner, that if she could not see him at Grey Abbey she
would see him elsewhere; and his lordship was obliged to capitulate
by promising that if Frank were unmarried in twelve months' time,
and Fanny should then still be of the same mind, he would consent to
the match and use his influence to bring it about. This by no means
satisfied Fanny, but it was all that the earl would say, and she
had now to consider whether she would accept those terms or act for
herself. Had she had any idea what steps she could with propriety take
in opposition to the earl, she would have withdrawn herself and her
fortune from his house and hands, without any scruples of conscience.
But what was she to do? She couldn't write to her lover and ask him to
come back to her!--Whither could she go? She couldn't well set up house
Lady Selina was bending over her writing-desk, and penning most
decorous notes, with a precision of calligraphy which it was painful
to witness. She was writing orders to Dublin tradesmen, and each order
might have been printed in the Complete Letter-Writer, as a specimen of
the manner in which young ladies should address such correspondents.
Fanny had a volume of French poetry in her hand, but had it been Greek
prose it would have given her equal occupation and amusement. It had
been in her hands half-an-hour, and she had not read a line.
"Fanny," said Lady Selina, raising up her thin red spiral tresses from
her desk, and speaking in a firm, decided tone, as if well assured of
the importance of the question she was going to put; "don't you want
some things from Ellis's?"
"From where, Selina?" said Fanny, slightly starting.
"From Ellis's," repeated Lady Selina.
"Oh, the man in Grafton Street.--No, thank you." And Fanny returned to
"Surely you do, Fanny," said her ladyship. "I'm sure you want black
crape; you were saying so on Friday last."
"Was I?--Yes; I think I do. It'll do another time, Selina; never mind
"You had better have it in the parcel he will send to-morrow; if you'll
give me the pattern and tell me how much you want, I'll write for it."
"Thank you, Selina. You're very kind, but I won't mind it to-day."
"How very foolish of you, Fanny; you know you want it, and then you'll
be annoyed about it. You'd better let me order it with the other
"Very well, dear: order it then for me."
"How much will you want? you must send the pattern too, you know."
"Indeed, Selina, I don't care about having it at all; I can do very
well without it, so don't mind troubling yourself."
"How very ridiculous, Fanny! You know you want black crape--and you
must get it from Ellis's." Lady Selina paused for a reply, and then
added, in a voice of sorrowful rebuke, "It's to save yourself the
trouble of sending Jane for the pattern."
"Well, Selina, perhaps it is. Don't bother me about it now, there's a
dear. I'll be more myself by-and-by; but indeed, indeed, I'm neither
well nor happy now."
"Not well, Fanny! What ails you?"
"Oh, nothing ails me; that is, nothing in the doctor's way. I didn't
mean I was ill."
"You said you weren't well; and people usually mean by that, that they
"But I didn't mean it," said Fanny, becoming almost irritated, "I only
meant--" and she paused and did not finish her sentence.
Lady Selina wiped her pen, in her scarlet embroidered pen-wiper, closed
the lid of her patent inkstand, folded a piece of blotting-paper over
the note she was writing, pushed back the ruddy ringlets from her
contemplative forehead, gave a slight sigh, and turned herself
towards her cousin, with the purpose of commencing a vigorous lecture
and cross-examination, by which she hoped to exorcise the spirit
of lamentation from Fanny's breast, and restore her to a healthful
activity in the performance of this world's duties. Fanny felt what was
coming; she could not fly; so she closed her book and her eyes, and
prepared herself for endurance.
"Fanny," said Lady Selina, in a voice which was intended to be both
severe and sorrowful, "you are giving way to very foolish feelings in
a very foolish way; you are preparing great unhappiness for yourself,
and allowing your mind to waste itself in uncontrolled sorrow in a
manner--in a manner which cannot but be ruinously injurious. My dear
Fanny, why don't you do something?--why don't you occupy yourself?
You've given up your work; you've given up your music; you've given up
everything in the shape of reading; how long, Fanny, will you go on in
this sad manner?" Lady Selina paused, but, as Fanny did not immediately
reply, she continued her speech "I've begged you to go on with your
reading, because nothing but mental employment will restore your mind
to its proper tone. I'm sure I've brought you the second volume of
Gibbon twenty times, but I don't believe you've read a chapter this
month back. How long will you allow yourself to go on in this sad
"Not long, Selina. As you say, I'm sad enough."
"But is it becoming in you, Fanny, to grieve in this way for a man whom
you yourself rejected because he was unworthy of you?"
"Selina, I've told you before that such was not the case. I believe him
to be perfectly worthy of me, and of any one much my superior too."
"But you did reject him, Fanny: you bade papa tell him to discontinue
his visits--didn't you?"
Fanny felt that her cousin was taking an unfair advantage in throwing
thus in her teeth her own momentary folly in having been partly
persuaded, partly piqued, into quarrelling with her lover; and she
resented it as such. "If I did," she said, somewhat angrily, "it does
not make my grief any lighter, to know that I brought it on myself."
"No, Fanny; but it should show you that the loss for which you grieve
is past recovery. Sorrow, for which there is no cure, should cease to
be grieved for, at any rate openly. If Lord Ballindine were to die you
would not allow his death to doom you to perpetual sighs, and perpetual
inactivity. No; you'd then know that grief was hopeless, and you'd
"But Lord Ballindine is not dead," said Fanny.
"Ah! that's just the point," continued her ladyship; "he should be dead
to you; to you he should now be just the same as though he were in his
grave. You loved him some time since, and accepted him; but you found
your love misplaced,--unreturned, or at any rate coldly returned.
Though you loved him, you passed a deliberate judgment on him, and
wisely rejected him. Having done so, his name should not be on your
lips; his form and figure should be forgotten. No thoughts of him
should sully your mind, no love for him should be permitted to rest in
your heart; it should be rooted out, whatever the exertion may cost
"Selina, I believe you have no heart yourself."
"Perhaps as much as yourself, Fanny. I've heard of some people who were
said to be all heart; I flatter myself I am not one of them. I trust I
have some mind, to regulate my heart; and some conscience, to prevent
my sacrificing my duties for the sake of my heart."
"If you knew," said Fanny, "the meaning of what love was, you'd know
that it cannot be given up in a moment, as you suppose; rooted out,
as you choose to call it. But, to tell you the truth, Selina, I don't
choose to root it out. I gave my word to Frank not twelve months since,
and that with the consent of every one belonging to me. I owned that
I loved him, and solemnly assured him I would always do so. I cannot,
and I ought not, and I will not break my word. You would think of
nothing but what you call your own dignity; I will not give up my own
happiness, and, I firmly believe his, too, for anything so empty."
"Don't be angry with me, Fanny," said Lady Selina; "my regard for your
dignity arises only from my affection for you. I should be sorry to see
you lessen yourself in the eyes of those around you. You must remember
that you cannot act as another girl might, whose position was less
exalted. Miss O'Joscelyn might cry for her lost lover till she got him
back again, or got another; and no one would be the wiser, and she
would not be the worse; but you cannot do that. Rank and station are
in themselves benefits; but they require more rigid conduct, much more
control over the feelings than is necessary in a humbler position. You
should always remember, Fanny, that much is expected from those to whom
much is given."
"And I'm to be miserable all my life because I'm not a parson's
daughter, like Miss O'Joscelyn!"
"God forbid, Fanny! If you'd employ your time, engage your mind, and
cease to think of Lord Ballindine, you'd soon cease to be miserable.
Yes; though you might never again feel the happiness of loving, you
might still be far from miserable."
"But I can't cease to think of him, Selina;--I won't even try."
"Then, Fanny, I truly pity you."
"No, Selina; it's I that pity you," said Fanny, roused to energy as
different thoughts crowded to her mind. "You, who think more of your
position as an earl's daughter--an aristocrat, than of your nature
as a woman! Thank Heaven, I'm not a queen, to be driven to have other
feelings than those of my sex. I do love Lord Ballindine, and if I had
the power to cease to do so this moment, I'd sooner drown myself than
"Then why were you weak enough to reject him?"
"Because I was a weak, wretched, foolish girl. I said it in a moment of
passion, and my uncle acted on it at once, without giving me one minute
for reflection--without allowing me one short hour to look into my own
heart, and find how I was deceiving myself in thinking that I ought to
part from him. I told Lord Cashel in the morning that I would give him
up; and before I had time to think of what I had said, he had been
here, and had been turned out of the house. Oh, Selina! it was very,
very cruel in your father to take me at my word so shortly!" And Fanny
hid her face in her handkerchief, and burst into tears.
"That's unfair, Fanny; it couldn't be cruel in him to do for you that
which he would have done for his own daughter. He thought, and thinks,
that Lord Ballindine would not make you happy."
"Why should he think so?--he'd no business to think so," sobbed Fanny
through her tears.
"Who could have a business to think for you, if not your guardian?"
"Why didn't he think so then, before he encouraged me to receive him?
It was because Frank wouldn't do just what he was bid; it was because
he wouldn't become stiff, and solemn, and grave like--like--" Fanny was
going to make a comparison that would not have been flattering either
to Lady Selina or to her father, but she did not quite forget herself,
and stopped short without expressing the likeness. "Had he spoken
against him at first, I would have obeyed; but I will not destroy
myself now for his prejudices." And Fanny buried her face among the
pillows of the sofa, and sobbed aloud.
Lady Selina walked over to the sofa, and stood at the head of it
bending over her cousin. She wished to say something to soothe and
comfort her, but did not know how; there was nothing soothing or
comforting in her nature, nothing soft in her voice; her manner was
repulsive, and almost unfeeling; and yet she was not unfeeling. She
loved Fanny as warmly as she was capable of loving; she would have made
almost any personal sacrifice to save her cousin from grief; she would,
were it possible, have borne her sorrows herself; but she could not
unbend; she could not sit down by Fanny's side, and, taking her hand,
say soft and soothing things; she could not make her grief easier by
expressing hope for the future or consolation for the past. She would
have felt that she was compromising truth by giving hope, and dignity
by uttering consolation for the loss of that which she considered
better lost than retained. Lady Selina's only recipe was endurance and
occupation. And at any rate, she practised what she preached; she was
never idle, and she never complained.
As she saw Fanny's grief, and heard her sobs, she at first thought that
in mercy she should now give up the subject of the conversation; but
then she reflected that such mercy might be the greatest cruelty, and
that the truest kindness would be to prove to Fanny the hopelessness of
"But, Fanny," she said, when the other's tears were a little subsided,
"it's no use either saying or thinking impossibilities. What are you to
do? You surely will not willingly continue to indulge a hopeless
"Selina, you'll drive me mad, if you go on! Let me have my own way."
"But, Fanny, if your own way's a bad way? Surely you won't refuse
to listen to reason? You must know that what I say is only from my
affection. I want you to look before you; I want you to summon courage
to look forward; and then I'm sure your common sense will tell you that
Lord Ballindine can never be anything to you."
"Look here, Selina," and Fanny rose, and wiped her eyes, and somewhat
composed her ruffled hair, which she shook back from her face and
forehead, as she endeavoured to repress the palpitation which had
followed her tears; "I have looked forward, and I have determined what
I mean to do. It was your father who brought me to this, by forcing
me into a childish quarrel with the man I love. I have implored him,
almost on my knees, to invite Lord Ballindine again to Grey Abbey: he
has refused to do so, at any rate for twelve months--"
"And has he consented to ask him at the end of twelve months?" asked
Selina, much astonished, and, to tell the truth, considerably shocked
at this instance of what she considered her father's weakness.
"He might as well have said twelve years," replied Fanny. "How can I,
how can any one, suppose that he should remain single for my sake for
twelve months, after being repelled without a cause, or without a word
of explanation; without even seeing me;--turned out of the house, and
insulted in every way? No; whatever he might do, I will not wait twelve
months. I'll ask Lord Cashel once again, and then--" Fanny paused for a
moment, to consider in what words she would finish her declaration.
"Well, Fanny," said Selina, waiting with eager expectation for Fanny's
final declaration; for she expected to hear her say that she would
drown herself, or lock herself up for ever, or do something equally
"Then," continued Fanny,--and a deep blush covered her face as she
spoke, "I will write to Lord Ballindine, and tell him that I am still
his own if he chooses to take me."
"Oh, Fanny! do not say such a horrid thing. Write to a man, and beg him
to accept you? No, Fanny; I know you too well, at any rate, to believe
that you'll do that."
"Indeed, indeed, I will."
"Then you'll disgrace yourself for ever. Oh, Fanny! though my heart
were breaking, though I knew I were dying for very love, I'd sooner
have it break, I'd sooner die at once, than disgrace my sex by becoming
a suppliant to a man."
"Disgrace, Selina!--and am I not now disgraced? Have I not given him my
solemn word? Have I not pledged myself to him as his wife? Have I not
sworn to him a hundred times that my heart was all his own? Have I not
suffered those caresses which would have been disgraceful had I not
looked on myself as almost already his bride? And is it no disgrace,
after that, to break my word?--to throw him aside like a glove that
wouldn't fit?--to treat him as a servant that wouldn't suit me?--to
send him a contemptuous message to be gone?--and so, to forget him,
that I might lay myself out for the addresses and admiration of
another? Could any conduct be worse than that?--any disgrace deeper?
Oh, Selina! I shudder as I think of it. Could I ever bring my lips to
own affection for another, without being overwhelmed with shame and
disgrace? And then, that the world should say that I had accepted, and
rejoiced in his love when I was poor, and rejected it with scorn when I
was rich! No; I would sooner--ten thousand times sooner my uncle should
do it for me! but if he will not write to Frank, I will. And though my
hand will shake, and my face will be flushed as I do so, I shall never
think that I have disgraced myself."
"And if, Fanny--if, after that he refuses you?"
Fanny was still standing, and she remained so for a moment or two,
meditating her reply, and then she answered:--
"Should he do so, then I have the alternative which you say you would
prefer; then I will endeavour to look forward to a broken heart, and
death, without a complaint and without tears. Then, Selina," and
she tried to smile through the tears which were again running down
her cheeks, "I'll come to you, and endeavour to borrow your stoic
endurance, and patient industry;" and, as she said so, she walked to
the door and escaped, before Lady Selina had time to reply.
XXIX. THE COUNTESS OF CASHEL IN TROUBLE
After considerable negotiation between the father and the son, the time
was fixed for Lord Kilcullen's arrival at Grey Abbey. The earl tried
much to accelerate it, and the viscount was equally anxious to stave
off the evil day; but at last it was arranged that, on the 3rd of
April, he was to make his appearance, and that he should commence his
wooing as soon as possible after that day.
When this was absolutely fixed, Lord Cashel paid a visit to his
countess, in her boudoir, to inform her of the circumstance, and
prepare her for the expected guest. He did not, however, say a word of
the purport of his son's visit. He had, at one time, thought of telling
the old lady all about it, and bespeaking her influence with Fanny for
the furtherance of his plan; but, on reconsideration, he reflected that
his wife was not the person to be trusted with any intrigue. So he
merely told her that Lord Kilcullen would be at Grey Abbey in five
days; that he would probably remain at home a long time; that, as he
was giving up his London vices and extravagances, and going to reside
at Grey Abbey, he wished that the house should be made as pleasant for
him as possible; that a set of friends, relatives, and acquaintances
should be asked to come and stay there; and, in short, that Lord
Kilcullen, having been a truly prodigal son, should have a fatted calf
prepared for his arrival.
All this flurried and rejoiced, terrified and excited my lady
exceedingly. In the first place it was so truly delightful that her
son should turn good and proper, and careful and decorous, just at
the right time of life; so exactly the thing that ought to happen. Of
course young noblemen were extravagant, and wicked, and lascivious,
habitual breakers of the commandments, and self-idolators; it was their
nature. In Lady Cashel's thoughts on the education of young men, these
evils were ranked with the measles and hooping cough; it was well that
they should be gone through and be done with early in life. She had
a kind of hazy idea that an opera-dancer and a gambling club were
indispensable in fitting a young aristocrat for his future career;
and I doubt whether she would not have agreed to the expediency
of inoculating a son of hers with these ailments in a mild
degree--vaccinating him as it were with dissipation, in order that he
might not catch the disease late in life in a violent and fatal form.
She had not therefore made herself unhappy about her son for a few
years after his first entrance on a life in London, but latterly she
had begun to be a little uneasy. Tidings of the great amount of his
debts reached even her ears; and, moreover, it was nearly time that he
should reform and settle down. During the last twelve months she had
remarked fully twelve times, to Griffiths, that she wondered when
Kilcullen would marry?--and she had even twice asked her husband,
whether he didn't think that such a circumstance would be advantageous.
She was therefore much rejoiced to hear that her son was coming to live
at home. But then, why was it so sudden? It was quite proper that the
house should be made a little gay for his reception; that he shouldn't
be expected to spend his evenings with no other society than that of
his father and mother, his sister and his cousin; but how was she
to get the house ready for the people, and the people ready for the
house, at so very short a notice?--What trouble, also, it would be
to her!--Neither she nor Griffiths would know another moment's rest;
besides--and the thought nearly drove her into hysterics,--where was
she to get a new cook?
However, she promised her husband to do her best. She received from
him a list of people to be invited, and, merely stipulating that she
shouldn't be required to ask any one except the parson of the parish
under a week, undertook to make the place as bearable as possible to
so fastidious and distinguished a person as her own son.
Her first confidante was, of course, Griffiths; and, with her
assistance, the wool and the worsted, and the knitting-needles, the
unfinished vallances and interminable yards of fringe, were put up and
rolled out of the way; and it was then agreed that a council should be
held, to which her ladyship proposed to invite Lady Selina and Fanny.
Griffiths, however, advanced an opinion that the latter was at present
too lack-a-daisical to be of any use in such a matter, and strengthened
her argument by asserting that Miss Wyndham had of late been quite
mumchance . Lady Cashel was at first rather inclined to insist
on her niece being called to the council, but Griffiths's eloquence
was too strong, and her judgment too undoubted; so Fanny was left
undisturbed, and Lady Selina alone summoned to join the aged female
senators of Grey Abbey.
[FOOTNOTE 44: mumchance--silent and idle]
"Selina," said her ladyship, as soon as her daughter was seated on
the sofa opposite to her mother's easy chair, while Griffiths, having
shut the door, had, according to custom, sat herself down on her own
soft-bottomed chair, on the further side of the little table that
always stood at the countess's right hand. "Selina, what do you think
your father tells me?"
Lady Selina couldn't think, and declined guessing; for, as she
remarked, guessing was a loss of time, and she never guessed right.
"Adolphus is coming home on Tuesday."
"Adolphus! why it's not a month since he was here."
"And he's not coming only for a visit; he's coming to stay here; from
what your father says, I suppose he'll stay here the greater part of
"What, stay at Grey Abbey all May and June?" said Lady Selina,
evidently discrediting so unlikely a story, and thinking it all but
impossible that her brother should immure himself at Grey Abbey during
the London season.
"It's true, my lady," said Griffiths, oracularly; as if her word were
necessary to place the countess's statement beyond doubt.
"Yes," continued Lady Cashel; "and he has given up all his
establishment in London--his horses, and clubs, and the opera, and all
that. He'll go into Parliament, I dare say, now, for the county; at any
rate he's coming to live at home here for the summer."
"And has he sold all his horses?" asked Lady Selina.
"If he's not done it, he's doing it," said the countess. "I declare
I'm delighted with him; it shows such proper feeling. I always knew he
would; I was sure that when the time came for doing it, Adolphus would
not forget what was due to himself and to his family."
"If what you say is true, mamma, he's going to be married."
"That's just what I was thinking, my lady," said Griffiths. "When her
ladyship first told me all about it,--how his lordship was coming down
to live regular and decorous among his own people, and that he was
turning his back upon his pleasures and iniquities, thinks I to myself
there'll be wedding favours coming soon to Grey Abbey."
"If it is so, Selina, your father didn't say anything to me about it,"
said the countess, somewhat additionally flustered by the importance of
the last suggestion; "and if he'd even guessed such a thing, I'm sure
he'd have mentioned it."
"It mightn't be quite fixed, you know, mamma: but if Adolphus is doing
as you say, you may be sure he's either engaged, or thinking of
"Well, my dear, I'm sure I wish it may be so; only I own I'd like to
know, because it makes a difference, as to the people he'd like to
meet, you know. I'm sure nothing would delight me so much as to
receive Adolphus's wife. Of course she'd always be welcome to lie in
here--indeed it'd be the fittest place. But we should be dreadfully put
about, eh, Griffiths?"
"Why, we should, my lady; but, to my mind, this would be the only most
proper place for my lord's heir to be born in. If the mother and child
couldn't have the best of minding here, where could they?"
"Of course, Griffiths; and we wouldn't mind the trouble, on such an
occasion. I think the south room would be the best, because of the
dressing-room being such a good size, and neither of the fireplaces
smoking, you know."
"Well, I don't doubt but it would, my lady; only the blue room is
nearer to your ladyship here, and in course your ladyship would choose
to be in and out."
And visions of caudle cups, cradles, and monthly nurses, floated over
Lady Cashel's brain, and gave her a kind of dreamy feel that the world
was going to begin again with her.
"But, mamma, is Adolphus really to be here on Tuesday?" said Lady
Selina, recalling the two old women from their attendance on the
unborn, to the necessities of the present generation.
"Indeed he is, my dear, and that's what I sent for you for. Your papa
wishes to have a good deal of company here to meet your brother; and
indeed it's only reasonable, for of course this place would be very
dull for him, if there was nobody here but ourselves--and he's always
used to see so many people; but the worst is, it's all to be done at
once, and you know there'll be so much to be got through before we'll
be ready for a house full of company,--things to be got from Dublin,
and the people to be asked. And then, Selina," and her ladyship almost
wept as the latter came to her great final difficulty--"What are we to
do about a cook?--Richards'll never do; Griffiths says she won't even
do for ourselves, as it is."
"Indeed she won't, my lady; it was only impudence in her coming to such
a place at all.--She'd never be able to send a dinner up for eighteen
"What are we to do, Griffiths? What can have become of all the
cooks?--I'm sure there used to be cooks enough when I was first
"Well, my lady, I think they must be all gone to England, those that
are any good; but I don't know what's come to the servants altogether;
as your ladyship says, they're quite altered for the worse since we
"But, mamma," said Lady Selina, "you're not going to ask people here
just immediately, are you?"
"Directly, my dear; your papa wishes it done at once. We're to have
a dinner-party this day week--that'll be Thursday; and we'll get as
many of the people as we can to stay afterwards; and we'll get the
O'Joscelyns to come on Wednesday, just to make the table look not quite
so bare, and I want you to write the notes at once. There'll be a great
many things to be got from Dublin too."
"It's very soon after poor Harry Wyndham's death, to be receiving
company," said Lady Selina, solemnly. "Really, mamma, I don't think it
will be treating Fanny well to be asking all these people so soon. The
O'Joscelyns, or the Fitzgeralds, are all very well--just our own near
neighbours; but don't you think, mamma, it's rather too soon to be
asking a house-full of strange people?"
"Well, my love, I was thinking so, and I mentioned it to your father;
but he said that poor Harry had been dead a month now--and that's true,
you know--and that people don't think so much now about those kind of
things as they used to; and that's true too, I believe."
"Indeed you may say that, my lady," interposed Griffiths. "I remember
when bombazines used to be worn three full months for an uncle or
cousin, and now they're hardly ever worn at all for the like, except
in cases where the brother or sister of him or her as is dead may be
stopping in the house, and then only for a month: and they were always
worn the full six months for a brother or sister, and sometimes the
twelve months round. Your aunt, Lady Charlotte, my lady, wore hers the
full twelve months, when your uncle, Lord Frederick, was shot by Sir
Patrick O'Donnel; and now they very seldom, never, I may say, wear them
the six months!--Indeed, I think mourning is going out altogether; and
I'm very sorry for it, for it's a very decent, proper sort of thing; at
least, such was always my humble opinion, my lady."
"Well; but what I was saying is," continued the countess, "that what
would be thought strange a few years ago, isn't thought at all so now;
and though I'm sure, Selina, I wouldn't like to do anything that looked
unkind to Fanny, I really don't see how we can help it, as your father
makes such a point of it."
"I can't say I think it's right, mamma, for I don't. But if you and
papa do, of course I've nothing further to say."
"Well, my love, I don't know that I do exactly think it's right; and
I'm sure it's not my wish to be having people, especially when I don't
know where on earth to turn for a cook. But what can we do, my dear?
Adolphus wouldn't stay the third night here, I'm sure, if there was
nobody to amuse him; and you wouldn't have him turned out of the house,
"_I_ have him turned out, mamma? God forbid! I'd sooner he should be
here than anywhere, for here he must be out of harm's way; but still I
think that if he comes to a house of mourning, he might, for a short
time, submit to put up with its decent tranquillity."
"Selina," said the mother, pettishly, "I really thought you'd help
me when I've so much to trouble and vex me--and not make any fresh
difficulties. How can I help it?--If your father says the people are
to come, I can't say I won't let them in. I hope you won't make Fanny
think I'm doing it from disrespect to her. I'm sure I wouldn't have a
soul here for a twelvemonth, on my own account."
"I'm sure Miss Wyndham won't think any such thing, my lady," said
Griffiths; "will she, Lady Selina?--Indeed, I don't think she'll matter
it one pin."
"Indeed, Selina, I don't think she will," said the countess; and then
she half whispered to her daughter. "Poor Fanny! it's not about her
brother she's grieving; it's that horrid man, Ballindine. She sent
him away, and now she wants to have him back. I really think a little
company will be the best thing to bring her to herself again." There
was a little degree of humbug in this whisper, for her ladyship meant
her daughter to understand that she wouldn't speak aloud about Fanny's
love-affair before Griffiths; and yet she had spent many a half hour
talking to her factotum on that very subject. Indeed, what subject was
there of any interest to Lady Cashel on which she did not talk to
"Well, mamma," said Lady Selina, dutifully, "I'll not say another word
about it; only let me know what you want me to do, and I'll do it. Who
is it you mean to ask?"
"Why, first of all, there's the Fitzgeralds: your father thinks that
Lord and Lady George would come for a week or so, and you know the
girls have been long talking of coming to Grey Abbey--these two years I
believe, and more."
"The girls will come, I dare say, mamma; though I don't exactly think
they're the sort of people who will amuse Adolphus; but I don't think
Lord George or Lady George will sleep away from home. We can ask them,
however; Mountains is only five miles from here, and I'm sure they'll
go back after dinner."
"Well, my dear, if they will, they must, and I can't help it; only I
must say it'll be very ill-natured of them. I'm sure it's a long time
since they were asked to stay here."
"As you say, mamma, at any rate we can ask them. And who comes next?"
"Why your father has put down the Swinburn people next; though I'm sure
I don't know how they are to come so far."
"Why, mamma, the colonel is a martyr to the gout!"
"Yes, my lady," said Griffiths, "and Mrs. Ellison is worse again, with
rheumatics. There would be nothing to do, the whole time, but nurse the
two of them."
"Never mind, Griffiths; you'll not have to nurse them, so you needn't
be so ill-natured."
"Me, ill-natured, my lady? I'm sure I begs pardon, but I didn't mean
nothing ill-natured; besides, Mrs. Ellison was always a very nice lady
to me, and I'm sure I'd be happy to nurse her, if she wanted it; only
that, as in duty bound, I've your ladyship to look to first, and so
couldn't spare time very well for nursing any one."
"Of course you couldn't, Griffiths; but, Selina, at any rate you must
ask the Ellisons: your papa thinks a great deal about the colonel--he
has so much influence in the county, and Adolphus will very likely
stand, now. Your papa and the colonel were members together for the
county more than forty years since."
"Well, mamma, I'll write Mrs. Ellison. Shall I say for a week or ten
"Say for ten days or a fortnight, and then perhaps they'll stay a
week. Then there's the Bishop of Maryborough, and Mrs. Moore. I'm sure
Adolphus will be glad to meet the bishop, for it was he that christened
"Very well, mamma, I'll write to Mrs. Moore. I suppose the bishop is in
Dublin at present?"
"Yes, my dear, I believe so. There can't be anything to prevent their
"Only that he's the managing man on the Education Board, and he's
giving up his time very much to that at present. I dare say he'll come,
but he won't stay long."
"Well, Selina, if he won't, I can't help it; and I'm sure, now I think
about the cook, I don't see how we're to expect anybody to stay. What
am I to do, Griffiths, about that horrid woman?"
"I'll tell you what I was thinking, my lady; only I don't know whether
your ladyship would like it, either, and if you didn't you could easily
get rid of him when all these people are gone."
"Get rid of who?"
"I was going to say, my lady--if your ladyship would consent to have a
man cook for a time, just to try."
"Then I never will, Griffiths: there'd be no peace in the house with
"Well, your ladyship knows best, in course; only if you thought well
of trying it, of course you needn't keep the man; and I know there's
Murray in Dublin, that was cook so many years to old Lord Galway. I
know he's to be heard of at the hotel in Grafton Street."
"I can't bear the thoughts of a man cook, Griffiths: I'd sooner have
three women cooks, and I'm sure one's enough to plague anybody."
"But none's worse, my lady," said Griffiths.
"You needn't tell me that. I wonder, Selina, if I were to write to my
sister, whether she could send me over anything that would answer?"
"What, from London, my lady?" answered Griffiths--"You'd find a London
woman cook sent over in that way twice worse than any man: she'd be
all airs and graces. If your ladyship thought well of thinking about
Murray, Richards would do very well under him: she's a decent poor
creature, poor woman--only she certainly is not a cook that'd suit for
such a house as this; and it was only impudence her thinking to attempt
"But, mamma," said Lady Selina, "do let me know to whom I am to write,
and then you and Griffiths can settle about the cook afterwards; the
time is so very short that I ought not to lose a post."
The poor countess threw herself back in her easy chair, the picture of
despair. Oh, how much preferable were rolls of worsted and yards of
netting, to the toils and turmoil of preparing for, and entertaining
company! She was already nearly overcome by the former: she didn't dare
to look forward to the miseries of the latter. She already began to
feel the ill effects of her son's reformation, and to wish that it had
been postponed just for a month or two, till she was a little more
"Well, mamma," said Lady Selina, as undisturbed and calm as ever, and
as resolved to do her duty without flinching, "shall we go on?"
The countess groaned and sighed--"There's the list there, Selina, which
your father put down in pencil. You know the people as well as I do:
just ask them all--"
"But, mamma, I'm not to ask them all to stay here:--I suppose some are
only to come to dinner?--the O'Joscelyns, and the Parchments?"
"Ask the O'Joscelyns for Wednesday and Thursday: the girls might
as well stay and sleep here. But what's the good of writing to
them?--can't you drive over to the Parsonage and settle it all
there?--you do nothing but make difficulties, Selina, and my head's
Lady Selina sate silent for a short time, conning the list, and
endeavouring to see her way through the labyrinth of difficulties
which was before her, without further trouble to her mother; while the
countess leaned back, with her eyes closed, and her hands placed on the
arms of her chair, as though she were endeavouring to get some repose,
after the labour she had gone through. Her daughter, however, again
"Mamma," she said, trying by the solemnity of her tone to impress her
mother with the absolute necessity she was under of again appealing to
her upon the subject, "what _are_ we to do about young men?"
"About young men, my dear?"
"Yes, mamma: there'll be a house-full of young ladies--there's the
Fitzgeralds--and Lady Louisa Pratt--and Miss Ellison--and the three
O'Joscelyns--and not a single young man, except Mr O'Joscelyn's
"Well, my dear, I'm sure Mr. Hill's a very nice young man."
"So he is, mamma; a very good young man; but he won't do to amuse such
a quantity of girls. If there were only one or two he'd do very well;
besides, I'm sure Adolphus won't like it."
"Why; won't he talk to the young ladies?--I'm sure he was always fond
of ladies' society."
"I tell you, mamma, it won't do. There'll be the bishop and two other
clergymen, and old Colonel Ellison, who has always got the gout, and
Lord George, if he comes--and I'm sure he won't. If you want to make a
pleasant party for Adolphus, you must get some young men; besides, you
can't ask all those girls, and have nobody to dance with them or talk
"I'm sure, my dear, I don't know what you're to do. I don't know any
young men except Mr. Hill; and there's that young Mr. Grundy, who lives
in Dublin. I promised his aunt to be civil to him: can't you ask him
"He was here before, mamma, and I don't think he liked it. I'm sure we
didn't. He didn't speak a word the whole day he was here. He's not at
all the person to suit Adolphus."
"Then, my dear, you _must_ go to your papa, and ask him: it's quite
clear I can't make young men. I remember, years ago, there always used
to be too many of them, and I don't know where they're all gone to. At
any rate, when they do come, there'll be nothing for them to eat," and
Lady Cashel again fell back upon her deficiencies in the kitchen
Lady Selina saw that nothing more could be obtained from her mother,
no further intelligence as regarded the embryo party. The whole burden
was to lie on her shoulders, and very heavy she felt it. As far as
concerned herself, she had no particular wish for one kind of guest
more than another: it was not for herself that she wanted young men;
she knew that at any rate there were none within reach whom she could
condescend to notice save as her father's guests; there could be no
one there whose presence could be to her of any interest: the gouty
colonel, and the worthy bishop, would be as agreeable to her as any
other men that would now be likely to visit Grey Abbey. But Lady Selina
felt a real desire that others in the house might be happy while there.
She was no flirt herself, nor had she ever been; it was not in her
nature to be so. But though she herself might be contented to twaddle
with old men, she knew that other girls would not. Yet it was not that
she herself had no inward wish for that admiration which is desired
by nearly every woman, or that she thought a married state was an
unenviable one. No; she could have loved and loved truly, and could
have devoted herself most scrupulously to the duties of a wife; but she
had vainly and foolishly built up for herself a pedestal, and there she
had placed herself; nor would she come down to stand on common earth,
though Apollo had enticed her, unless he came with the coronet of a
peer upon his brow.
She left her mother's boudoir, went down into the drawing-room,
and there she wrote her notes of invitation, and her orders to the
tradesmen; and then she went to her father, and consulted him on the
difficult subject of young men. She suggested the Newbridge Barracks,
where the dragoons were; and the Curragh, where perhaps some stray
denizen of pleasure might be found, neither too bad for Grey Abbey, nor
too good to be acceptable to Lord Kilcullen; and at last it was decided
that a certain Captain Cokely, and Mat Tierney, should be asked. They
were both acquaintances of Adolphus; and though Mat was not a young
man, he was not very old, and was usually very gay.
So that matter was settled, and the invitations were sent off. The
countess overcame her difficulty by consenting that Murray the man cook
should be hired for a given time, with the distinct understanding that
he was to take himself off with the rest of the guests, and so great
was her ladyship's sense of the importance of the negotiation, that she