Part 7 out of 10
'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
'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
'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
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 the room.
'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
'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 lose.'
'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 her?'
'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 maybe, and
it' 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 own word.'
'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 figure?'
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, good
'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 way.'
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 think.'
'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
'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 between us.'
'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 1ong 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 thoughts' 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 death.
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
roué, 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.
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 for herself.
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 her
'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 now.'
'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 things.'
'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
'Not well, Fanny! What ails you?'
'Oh, nothing ails me; that is, nothing in the doctor's way. I didn't mean I
'You said you weren't well; and people usually mean by that, that they are
'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 manner?'
'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 you.'
'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
'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 exercise it.'
'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 her passion.
'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 passion?'
'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 absurd.
'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
he 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.
'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 the
'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
'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 becoming so.'
'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
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 or
'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 married.'
'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 were young.'
'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
'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 I 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
'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 my.'
'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, would you?'
'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
'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 Griffiths!
'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
'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
'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
'Never mind, Griffiths; you'll not have to nurse them, so you needn't be so
'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 days?'
'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 him.'
'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
'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 him!'
'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
'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 it.'
'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 settled.
'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 racking.'
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 disturbed her.
'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 curate!'
'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
'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 to them.'
'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 down?'
'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 bin: 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 establishment.
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
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
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 absolutely despatched
Griffiths to Dublin to arrange it, though thereby she was left two whole
days in solitary misery at Grey Abbey; and had to go to bed, and get up,
she really hardly knew how, with such assistance as Lady Selina's maid
could give her.
When these things were all arranged, Selina told her cousin that Adolphus
was coming home, and that a house full of company had been asked to meet
him. She was afraid that Fanny would be annoyed and offended at being
forced to go into company so soon after her brother's death, but such was
not the case. She felt, herself, that her poor brother was not the cause of
the grief that was near her heart; and she would not pretend what she
didn't really feel.
'You were quite right, Selina,' she said, smiling, 'about the things you
said yesterday I should want from Dublin: now, I shall want them; and, as I
wouldn't accept of your good-natured offer, I must take the trouble of
'If you like it, Fanny, I'll write for you,' said Selina.
'Oh no, I'm not quite so idle as that' and she also began her preparations
for the expected festivities. Little did either of them think that she,
Fanny Wyndham, was the sole cause of all the trouble which the household
and neighbourhood were to undergo the fatigue of the countess; Griffiths's
journey; the arrival of the dread man cook; Richards's indignation at being
made subordinate to such authority; the bishop's desertion of the Education
Board; the colonel's dangerous and precipitate consumption of colchicum;
the quarrel between Lord and Lady George as to staying or not staying; the
new dresses of the Miss O'Joscelyns, which their worthy father could so ill
afford; and, above all, the confusion, misery, rage, and astonishment which
attended Lord Kilcullen's unexpected retreat from London, in the middle of
the summer. And all in vain!
How proud and satisfied Lord Ballindine might have been, had he been able
to see all this, and could he have known how futile was every effort Lord
Cashel could make to drive from Fanny Wyndham's heart the love she felt for
The invitations, however, were, generally speaking, accepted. The bishop
and his wife would be most happy; the colonel would come if the gout would
possibly allow; Lady George wrote a note to say they would be very happy to
stay a few days, and Lord George wrote another soon after to say he was
sorry, but that they must return the same evening. The O'Joscelyns would be
delighted; Mat Tierney would be very proud; Captain Cokely would do himself
the honour; and, last but not least, Mr. Murray would preside below
stairs for a serious consideration.
What a pity so much trouble should have been taken! They might all have
stayed at home; for Fanny Wyndham will never become Lady Kilcullen.
XXX LORD KILCULLEN OBEYS HIS FATHER
On the appointed day, or rather on the night of the appointed day, Lord
Kilcullen reached Grey Abbey; for it was about eleven o'clock when his
travelling-phaëton rattled up to the door. He had been expected to dinner
at seven, and the first attempts of Murray in the kitchens of Grey Abbey
had been kept waiting for him till half-past eight; but in vain. At that
hour the earl, black with ill-humour, ordered dinner; and remarked that he
considered it criminal in any man to make an appointment, who was not
sufficiently attached to veracity to keep
The evening was passed in moody silence. The countess was disappointed, for
she always contrived to persuade herself that she was very anxious to see
her son. Lady Selina was really vexed, and began to have her doubts as to
her brother's coming at all: what was to be done, if it turned out that all
the company had been invited for nothing? As to Fanny, though very
indifferent to the subject of her cousin's coming, she was not at all in a
state of mind to dissipate the sullenness which prevailed. The ladies went
to bed early, the countess grumbling at her lot, in not being allowed to
see her son, and her daughter and niece marching off with their respective
candlesticks in solemn silence. The earl retired to his book-room soon
afterwards; but he had not yet sat down, when the quick rattle of the
wheels was heard upon the gravel before the house.
Lord Cashel walked out into the hall, prepared to meet his son in a
befitting manner; that is, with a dignified austerity that could not fail
to convey a rebuke even to his hardened heart. But he was balked in his
purpose, for he found that Lord Kilcullen was not alone; Mat Tierney had
come down with him. Kilcullen had met his friend in Dublin, and on learning
that he also was bound for Grey Abbey on the day but one following, had
persuaded him to accelerate his visit, had waited for him, and brought him
down in his own carriage. The truth was, that Lord Kilcullen had thought
that the shades of Grey Abbey would be too much for him, without some
genial spirit to enlighten them: he was delighted to find that Mat Tierney
was to be there, and was rejoiced to be able to convey him with him, as a
sort of protection from his father's eloquence for the first two days of
'Lord Kilcullen, your mother and I ' began the father, intent on at once
commenting on the iniquity of the late arrival; when he saw the figure of a
very stout gentleman, amply wrapped up in travelling habiliments, follow
his son into the inner hall.
'Tierney, my lord,' said the son, 'was good enough to come down with me. I
found that he intended to be here to-morrow, and I told him you and my
mother would be delighted to see him to-day instead.'
The earl shook Mr. Tierney's hand, and told him how very welcome he was at
all times, and especially at present unexpected pleasures were always the
most agreeable; and then the earl bustled about, and ordered supper and
wine, and fussed about the bedrooms, and performed the necessary rites of
hospitality, and then went to bed, without having made one solemn speech to
his son. So far, Lord Kilcullen had been successful in his manoeuvre; and
he trusted that by making judicious use of Mat Tierney, he might be able to
stave off the evil hour for at any rate a couple of days.
But he was mistaken. Lord Cashel was now too much in earnest to be put off
his purpose; he had been made too painfully aware that his son's position
was desperate, and that lie must at once be saved by a desperate effort, or
given over to utter ruin. And, to tell the truth, so heavy were the new
debts of which he heard from day to day, so insurmountable seemed the
difficulties, that he all but repented that he had not left him to his
fate. The attempt, however, must again be made; he was there, in the house,
and could not be turned out; but Lord Cashel determined that at any rate no
time should be lost.
The two new arrivals made their appearance the next morning, greatly to
Lady Cashel's delight; she was perfectly satisfied with her son's apology,
and delighted to find that at any rate one of her expected guests would not
fail her in her need. The breakfast went over pleasantly enough, and
Kilcullen was asking Mat to accompany him into the stables, to see what
novelties they should find there, when Lord Cashel spoiled the arrangement
'Could you spare me half-an-hour in tile bookroom first, Kilcullen?'
This request, of course, could not be refused; and the father and son
walked off, leaving Mat Tierney to the charity of the ladies.
There was much less of flippant overbearing impudence now, about Lord
Kilcullen, much less of arrogance and insult from the son towards the
father, than there had been in the previous interview which has been
recorded. He seemed to be somewhat in dread, to be cowed, and ill at ease;
he tried, however, to assume his usual manner, and followed his father into
the book-room with an affected air of indifference, which very ill
concealed his real feelings.
'Kilcullen,' began the earl, 'I was very sorry to see Tierney with you last
night. It would have been much better that we should have been alone
together, at any rate for one morning. I suppose you are aware that there
is a great deal to be talked over between us?'
'I suppose there is,' said the son; 'but I couldn't well help bringing the
man, when he told me he was coming here.'
'He didn't ask you to bring him, I suppose? but we will not talk about
that. Will you do me the favour to inform me what your present plans are?'
'My present plans, my lord? Indeed, I've no plans! It's a long time since I
had a plan of my own. I am, however, prepared to acquiesce entirely in any
which you may propose. I have come quite prepared to throw at Miss
Wyndham's feet myself and my fortune.'
'And do you expect her to accept you?'
'You said she would, my lord: so I have taken that for granted. I, at any
rate, will ask her; if she refuses me, your lordship will perhaps be able
to persuade her to a measure so evidently beneficial to all parties.'
'The persuading must be with yourself; but if you suppose you can carry her
with a high hand, without giving yourself the trouble to try to please her,
you are very much mistaken. If you think she'll accept you merely because
you ask her, you might save yourself the trouble, and as well return to
London at once.'
'Just as you please, my lord; but I thought I came in obedience to your
'So you did; but, to tell you the truth your manner in coming is very
different from what I would wish it to be. Your '
'Did you want me to crawl here on my hands and knees?'
'I wanted you to come, Kilcullen, with some sense of what you owe to those
who are endeavouring to rescue you from ruin: with some feeling of, at any
rate, sorrow for the mad extravagance of your past career. Instead of that,
you come gay, reckless, and unconcerned as ever; you pick up the first
jovial companion you meet, and with him disturb the house at a most
unseasonable hour. You are totally regardless of the appointments you make;
and plainly show, that as you come here solely for your own pleasure, you
consider it needless to consult my wishes or my comfort .Are you aware that
you kept your mother and myself two hours waiting for dinner yesterday?'
The pathos with which Lord Cashel terminated his speech and it was one the
thrilling effect of which he intended to be overwhelming almost restored
Lord Kilcullen to his accustomed effrontery.
'My lord,' he said, 'I did not consider myself of sufficient importance to
have delayed your dinner ten minutes.'
'I have always endeavoured, Kilcullen, to show the same respect to you in
my house, which my father showed to me in his; but you do not allow me the
opportunity. But let that pass; we have more important things to speak of.
When last we were here together why did you not tell me the whole truth?'
'What truth, my lord?'
'About your debts, Kilcullen: why did you conceal from me their full
amount? Why, at any rate, did you take pains to make me think them so much
less than they really are?'
'Conceal, my lord? that is hardly fair, considering that 1 told you
expressly I could not give you any idea what was the amount I owed. I
concealed nothing; if you deceived yourself, the fault was not mine.'
'You could not but have known that the claims against you were much larger
than I supposed them to be double, I suppose. Good heaven! why in ten years
more, at this rate, you would more than consume the lee simple of the whole
property! What can I say to you, Kilcullen, to make you look on your own
conduct in the proper light?'
'I think you have said enough for the purpose; you have told me to marry,
and I have consented to do so.'
'Do you think, Kilcullen, you have spent the last eight years in a way
which it can please a father to contemplate? Do you think I can look back
on your conduct with satisfaction or content? And yet you have no regret to
express for the past no promises to make for the future. I fear it is all
in vain. I fear that what I am doing what I am striving to do, is now all
in vain. I fear it is hopeless to attempt to recall you from the horrid,
reckless, wicked mode of life you have adopted.' The sombre mantle of
expostulatory eloquence had now descended on the earl, and he continued,
turning full upon his victim, and raising and lowering his voice with
monotonous propriety. 'I fear it is to no good purpose that I am subjecting
your mother and myself to privation, restraint, and inconvenience; that I
am straining every nerve to place you again in a position of
respectability, a position suitable to my fortune and your own rank. I am
endeavouring to retrieve the desperate extravagance the I must say though I
do not wish to hurt your feelings, yet I must say, disgraceful ruin of your
past career. And how do you help me? what regret do you show? what promises
of amendment do you afford? You drive up to my hall-door at midnight with
your boon companion; you disturb the whole household at most unseasonable
hours, and subject my family to the same disreputable irregularity in which
you have yourself so long indulged. Can such doings, Kilcullen, give me any
hopes for the future? Can '
'My lord I am extremely sorry for the dinner: what can I say more? And as
for Mat Tierney, he is your own guest or her ladyship's not mine. It is my
misfortune to have come in the same carriage with him, but that is the
extent of my offence.'
'Well, Kilcullen; if you think your conduct has always been such as it
ought to be, it is of little use for me to bring up arguments to the
'I don't think so, my lord. What can I say more? I have done those things
which I ought not to have done. Were I to confess my transgressions for the
hour together, I could not say more; except that I have left undone the
things which I ought to have done. Or, do you want me to beat my breast and
tear my hair?'
'I want you, Lord Kilcullen, to show some sense of decency some filial
'Well, my lord, here I am, prepared to marry a wife of your own choosing,
and to set about the business this morning, if you please. I thought you
would have called that decent, filial, and respectable.'
The earl could hardly gainsay this; but still he could not bring himself to
give over so soon the unusual pleasure of blowing up his only son. It was
so long since Lord Kilcullen had been regularly in his power, and it might
never occur again. So he returned from consideration of the future to a
further retrospect on the past.
'You certainly have played your cards most foolishly; you have thrown away
your money rather, I should say, my money, in a manner which nothing can
excuse or palliate. You might have made the turf a source of gratifying
amusement; your income was amply sufficient to enable you to do so; but you
have possessed so little self-control, so little judgment, so little
discrimination, that you have allowed yourself to be plundered by every
blackleg, and robbed by every everybody in short, who chose to rob you. The
same thing has been the case in all your other amusements and pursuits '
'Well, my lord, I confess it all; isn't that enough?'
'Enough, Kilcullen!' said the earl, in a voice of horrified astonishment,
'how enough? how can anything be enough after such a course so wild, so
mad, so ruinous!'
'For Heaven's sake, my lord, finish the list of my iniquities, or you'll
make me feel that I am utterly unfit to become my cousin's husband.'
'I fear you are indeed I fear you are. Are the horses disposed of yet,
'Indeed they are not, my lord; nor can I dispose of them. There is more
owing for them than they are worth; you may say they belong to the trainer
'Is the establishment in Curzon Street broken up?'
'To tell the truth, not exactly; but I've no thoughts of returning there.
I'm still under rent for the house.'
The cross-examination was continued for a considerable time till the earl
had literally nothing more to say, and Lord Kilcullen was so irritated that
he told his father he would not stand it any longer. Then they went into
money affairs, and the earl spoke despondingly about ten thousands and
twenty thousands, and the viscount somewhat flippantly of fifty thousands
and sixty thousands; and this was continued till the earl felt that his son
was too deep in the mire to be pulled out, and the son thought that, deep
as he was there, it would be better to remain and wallow in it than undergo
so disagreeable a process as that to which his father subjected him in
extricating him from it. It was settled, however, that Mr. Jervis, Lord
Cashel's agent, should receive full authority to deal summarily in all
matters respecting the horses and their trainers, the house in Curzon
Street, and its inhabitants, and all other appendages and sources of
expense which Lord Kilcullen had left behind him; and that he, Kilcullen,
should at once commence his siege upon his cousin's fortune. And on this
point the son bargained that, as it would be essentially necessary that his
spirits should be light and easy, he was not, during the operation, to be
subjected to any of his father's book-room conversations: for this he
stipulated as an absolute sine qua non in the negotiation, and the clause
was at last agreed to, though not without much difficulty.
Both father and son seemed to think that the offer should be made at once.
Lord Cashel really feared that his son would be arrested at Grey Abbey, and
he was determined to pay nothing further for him, unless he felt secure of
Fanny's fortune; and whatever were Lord Kilcullen's hopes and fears as to
his future lot, he was determined not to remain long in suspense, as far as
his projected marriage was concerned. He was determined to do his best to
accomplish it, for he would have done anything to get the command of ready
money; if he was not successful, at any rate he need not remain in the
purgatory of Grey Abbey. The Queen's Bench would be preferable to that. He
was not, however, very doubtful; he felt but little confidence in the
constancy of any woman's affection, and a great deal in his own powers of
fascination: he had always been successful in his appeals to ladies'
hearts, and did not doubt of being so now, when the object of his adoration
must, as he thought, be so dreadfully in want of some excitement, something
to interest her. Any fool might have her now, thought he, and she can't
have any violent objection to being Lady Kilcullen for the present, and
Lady Cashel in due time. He felt, however, something like remorse at the
arrangement to which he was a party; it was not that he was about to make a
beautiful creature, his own cousin, miserable for life, by uniting her to a
spendthrift, a roué, and a gambler such was the natural lot of women in the
higher ranks of life but he felt that he was robbing her of her money. He
would have thought it to be no disgrace to carry her off had another person
been her guardian. She would then have had fair play, and it would be the
guardian's fault if her fortune were not secure. But she had no friend now
to protect her: it was her guardian himself who was betraying her to ruin.
However, the money must he had, and Lord Kilcullen was not long in quieting
'Tierney,' said Kilcullen, meeting his friend after his escape from the
book-room; 'you are not troubled with a father now, I believe do you
recollect whether you ever had one?'
'Well, I can't say I remember just at present,' said Mat; 'but I believe I
had a sort of one, once.'
'I'm a more dutiful son than you,' said the other; 'I never can forget
mine. I have no doubt an alligator on the banks of the Nile is a fearful
creature a shark when one's bathing, or a jungle tiger when one's out
shooting, ought, I'm sure, to be avoided; but no creature yet created,
however hungry, or however savage, can equal in ferocity a governor who has
to shell out his cash! I've no wish for a tête-à-tête with any bloody-
minded monster; but I'd sooner meet a starved hyena, single-handed in the
desert, than be shut up for another hour with my Lord Cashel in that room
of his on the right-band side of the hall. If you hear of my having beat a
retreat from Grey Abbey, without giving you or any one else warning of my
intention, you will know that I have lacked courage to comply with a second
summons to those gloomy realms. If I receive another invite such as that I
got this morning, I am off.'
Lady Cashel's guests came on the day appointed; the carriages were driven
up, one after another, in quick succession, about an hour before dinner-
time; and, as her ladyship's mind became easy on the score of
disappointments, it was somewhat troubled as to the multitude of people to
be fed and entertained. Murray had not yet forgiven the injury inflicted on
him when the family dinner was kept waiting for Lord Kilcullen, and
Richards was still pouting at her own degraded position. The countess had
spent the morning pretending to make arrangements, which were in fact all
settled by Griffiths; and when she commenced the operation of dressing
herself, she declared she was so utterly exhausted by what she had gone
through during the last week, as to be entirely unfit to entertain her
company. Poor dear Lady Cashel! Was she so ignorant of her own nature as to
suppose it possible that she should ever entertain anybody?
However, a glass of wine, and some mysterious drops, and a little paint; a
good deal of coaxing, the sight of her diamonds, and of a large puce-
coloured turban, somewhat revivified her; and she was in her drawing-room
in due time, supported by Lady Selina and Fanny, ready to receive her
visitors as soon as they should descend from their respective rooms.
Lady Cashel had already welcomed Lord George, and shaken hands with the
bishop: and was now deep in turnips and ten-pound freeholders with the
gouty colonel, who had hobbled into the room on a pair of crutches, and was
accommodated with two easy chairs in a corner one for himself, and the
other for his feet.
'Now, my dear Lady George,' said the countess, 'you must not think of
returning to Mountains tonight: indeed, we made sure of you and Lord George
for a week.'
'My dear Lady Cashel, it's impossible; indeed, we wished it of all things,
and tried it every way: but we couldn't manage it; Lord George has so much
to do: there's the Sessions to-morrow at Dunlavin, and he has promised to
meet Sir Glenmalure Aubrey, about a road, or a river, or a bridge I forget
which it is; and they must attend to those things, you know, or the tenants
couldn't get their corn to market. But you don't know how sorry we are, and
such a charming set you have got here!'
'Well, I know it's no use pressing you; but I can't tell you how vexed I
am, for I counted on you, above all, and Adolphus will be so sorry. You
know Lord Kilcullen's come home, Lady George?'
'Yes; I was very glad to hear we were to meet him.'
'Oh, yes! He's come to stay here some time, I believe; he's got quite fond
of Grey Abbey lately.
He and his father get on so well together, it's quite a delight to me.'
'Oh, it must be, I'm sure,' said Lady George; and the countess sidled off
to the bishop's fat wife.
'Well, this is very kind of you and the bishop, to come at so short a
notice: indeed I hardly dared expect it. I know he has so much to do in
Dublin with those horrid boards and things.'
'He is busy there, to be sure, Lady Cashel; but he couldn't deny himself
the pleasure of coming to Grey Abbey; he thinks so very much of the earl.
Indeed, he'd contrive to be able to come here, when he couldn't think of
going anywhere else.'
'I'm sure Lord Cashel feels how kind he is; and so do I, and so does
Adolphus. Lord Kilcullen will be delighted to meet you and the bishop.'
The bishop's wife assured the countess that nothing on earth, at the
present moment, would give the bishop so much pleasure as meeting Lord
'You know the bishop christened him, don't you?' said Lady Cashel.
'No! did he though?' said the bishop's wife; 'how very interesting!'
'Isn't it? And Adolphus longs to meet him. He's so fond of everything
that's high-minded and talented, Adolphus is: a little sarcastic perhaps I
don't mind saying so to you; but that's only to inferior sort of people not
talented, you know: some people are stupid, and Adolphus can't bear that.'
'Indeed they are, my lady. I was dining last week at Mrs. Prijean's, in
Merrion Square; you know Mrs. Prijean?'
'I think I met her at Carton, four years ago.'
'Well, she is very heavy: what do you think, Lady Cashel, she '
'Adolphus can't bear people of that sort, but he'll be delighted with the
bishop: it's so delightful, his having christened him. Adolphus means to
live a good deal here now. Indeed, he and his father have so much in common
that they can't get on very well apart, and I really hope he and the
bishop'll see a good deal of each other;' and the countess left the
bishop's wife and sat herself down by old Mrs. Ellison.
'My dear Mrs. Ellison, I am so delighted to see you once again at Grey
Abbey; it's such ages since you were here!'
'Indeed it is, Lady Cashel, a very long time; but the poor colonel suffers
so much, it's rarely he's fit to be moved; and, indeed, I'm not much better
myself. I was not able to move my left shoulder from a week before
Christmas-day till a few days since!'
'You don't say so! Rheumatism, I suppose?'
'Oh, yes all rheumatism: no one knows what I suffer.'
'And what do you use for it?'
'Oh, there's nothing any use. I know the very nature of rheumatism now,
I've had it so long and it minds nothing at all: there's no preventing it,
and no curing it. It's like a bad husband, Lady Cashel; the best way is to
put up with it.'
'And how is the dear colonel, Mrs. Ellison?'
'Why, he was just able to come here, and that was all; but he was dying to
see Lord Cashel. He thinks the ministers'll be shaken about this business
of O'Connell's; and if so, that there'll be a general election, and then
what'll they do about the county?'
'I'm sure Lord Cashel wanted to see the colonel on that very subject; so
does Adolphus Lord Kilcullen, you know. I never meddle with those things;
but I really think Adolphus is thinking of going into Parliament. You know
he's living here at present: his father's views and his own are so exactly
the same on all those sort of things, that it's quite delightful. He's
taking a deal of interest about the county lately, is Adolphus, and about
Grey Abbey too: he's just the same his father used to be, and that kind of
thing is so pleasant, isn't it, Mrs Ellison?'
Mrs Ellison said it was, and at the same moment groaned, for her shoulder
gave her a twinge.
The subject of these eulogiums, in the meantime, did not make his
appearance till immediately before dinner was announced, and certainly did
not evince very strongly the delight which his mother had assured her
friends he would feel at meeting them, for he paid but very little
attention to any one but Mat Tierney and his cousin Fanny; he shook hands
with all the old gentlemen, bowed to all the old ladies, and nodded at the
young ones. But if he really felt that strong desire, which his mother had
imputed to him, of opening his heart to the bishop and the colonel
respecting things temporal and spiritual, he certainly very successfully
suppressed his anxiety.
He had, during the last two or three days, applied himself to the task of
ingratiating himself with Fanny. He well knew how to suit himself to
different characters, and to make himself agreeable when he pleased; and
Fanny, though she had never much admired her dissipated cousin, certainly
found his conversation a relief after the usual oppressive tedium of Grey
He had not begun by making love to her, or expressing admiration, or by
doing or saying anything which could at all lead her to suspect his
purpose, or put her on her guard. He had certainly been much more attentive
to her, much more intimate with her, than he usually had been in his flying
visits to Grey Abbey; but then he was now making his first appearance as a
reformed rake; and besides, he was her first cousin, and she therefore felt
no inclination to repel his advances.
He was obliged, in performance of a domestic duty, to walk out to dinner
with one of Lady George's daughters, but he contrived to sit next to
Fanny and, much to his father's satisfaction, talked to her during the
'And where have you hidden yourself all the morning, Fanny,' said he, 'that
nobody has seen anything of you since breakfast?'
'Whither have you taken yourself all the day, rather, that you had not a
moment to come and look after us? The Miss O'Joscelyns have been expecting
you to ride with them, walk with them, talk with them, and play la grace
with them. They didn't give up the sticks till it was quite dark, in the
hope of you and Mr Tierney making your appearance.'
'Well, Fanny, don't tell my mother, and I'll tell you the truth: promise
'Oh, I'm no tell-tale.'
'Well then,' and he whispered into her ear 'I was running away from the
'But that won't do at all; don't you know they were asked here for your
especial edification and amusement?'
'Oh, I know they were. So were the bishop, and the colonel, and Lord
George, and their respective wives, and Mr Hill. My dear mamma asked them
all here for my amusement; but, you know, one man may lead a horse to
water a hundred can't make him drink. I cannot, cannot drink of the Miss
O'Joscelyns, and the Bishop of Maryborough.'
'For shame, Adolphus! you ought at any rate to do something to amuse them.'
'Amuse them! My dear Fanny, who ever heard of amusing a bishop? But it's
very easy to find fault; what have you done, yourself, for their
'I didn't run away from them; though, had I done so, there would have been
more excuse for me than for you.'
'So there would, Fanny,' said Kilcullen, feeling that she had alluded to
her brother's death; 'and I'm very, very sorry all these people are here to
bore you at such a time, and doubly sorry that they should have been asked
on my account. They mistake me greatly, here. They know that I've thought
Grey Abbey dull, and have avoided it; and now that I've determined to get
over the feeling, because I think it right to do so, they make it ten times
more unbearable than ever, for my gratification! It's like giving a child
physic mixed in sugar; the sugar's sure to be the nastiest part of the
dose. Indeed I have no dislike to Grey Abbey at present; though I own I
have no taste for the sugar in which my kind mother has tried to conceal
its proper flavour.'
'Well, make the best of it; they'll all be gone in ten days.'
'Ten days! Are they to stay ten days? Will you tell me, Fanny, what was the
object in asking Mat Tierney to meet such a party?'
'To help you to amuse the young ladies.'
'Gracious heavens! Does Lady Cashel really expect Mat Tierney to play la
grace with the Miss O'Joscelyns? Well, the time will come to an end, I
suppose. But in truth I'm more sorry for you than for any one. It was very
ill-judged, their getting such a crowd to bore you at such a time,' and
Lord Kilcullen contrived to give his voice a tone of tender solicitude.
'Kilcullen,' said the earl, across the table, 'you don't hear the bishop.
His lordship is asking you to drink wine with him.'
'I shall be most proud of the honour,' said the son, and bobbed his head at
the bishop across the table.
Fanny was on the point of saying something respecting her brother to Lord
Kilcullen, which would have created a kind of confidence between them, but
the bishop's glass of wine broke it off, and from that time Lord Kilcullen
was forced by his father into a general conversation with his guests.
In the evening there was music and singing. The Miss O'Joscelyns, and Miss
Fitzgeralds, and Mr Hill, performed: even Mat Tierney condescended to amuse
the company by singing the 'Coronation', first begging the bishop to excuse
the peculiar allusions to the 'clargy', contained in one of the verses; and
then Fanny was asked to sing. She had again become silent, dull, and
unhappy, was brooding over her miseries and disappointments, and she
declined. Lord Kilcullen was behind her chair, and when they pressed her,
he whispered to her, 'Don't sing for them, Fanny; it's a shame that they
should tease you at such a time; I wonder how my mother can have been so
Fanny persisted in declining to sing and Lord Kilcullen again sat down
beside her. 'Don't trouble yourself about them, Fanny,' said he, 'they're
just fit to sing to each other; it's very good work for them.'
'I should think it very good work, as you call it, for myself, too, another
time; only I'm hardly in singing humour at present, and, therefore, obliged
to you for your assistance and protection.'
'Your most devoted knight as long as this fearful invasion lasts! your
Amadis de Gaul your Bertrand du Guesclin! And no paladin of old ever
attempted to defend a damsel from more formidable foes.'
'Indeed, Adolphus, I don't think them so formidable. Many of them are my
'Is Mrs Ellison your own friend? or Mrs Moore?'
'Not exactly those two, in particular.'
'Who then? Is it Miss Judith O'Joscelyn? or is the Reverend Mr Hill one of
those to whom you give that sweetest of all names?'
'Yes; to both of them. It was only this morning I had a long tête-à-tête
'What, with Mr Hill?'
'No, not with Mr Hill though it wouldn't be the first even with him, but
with Judith O'Joscelyn. I lent her a pattern for worsted work.'
'And does that make her your friend? Do you give your friendship so
'You forget that I've known her for years.'
'Well, now, I've not. I've seen her about three times in my life, and
spoken two words to her perhaps twice; and yet I'll describe her character
to you; and if you can say that the description is incorrect, I will permit
you to call her your friend.'
'Well, let's hear the character.'
'It wouldn't be kind in me, though, to laugh at your friend.'
'Oh, she's not so especially and particularly my friend that you need mind
'Then you'll promise not to be angry?'
'Oh no, I won't be angry.'
'Well, then; she has two passions: they are for worsted and hymn-books. She
has a moral objection to waltzing. Theoretically she disapproves of
flirtations: she encourages correspondence between young ladies; always
crosses her letters, and never finished one for the last ten years without
expressing entire resignation to the will of God as if she couldn't be
resigned without so often saying so. She speaks to her confidential friends
of young men as a very worthless, insignificant race of beings; she is,
however, prepared to take the very first that may be unfortunate enough to
come in her way; she has no ideas of her own, but is quick enough at
borrowing those of other people; she considers herself a profound
theologian; dotes on a converted papist, and looks on a Puseyite as
something one shade blacker than the devil. Now isn't that sufficiently
like for a portrait?'
'It's the portrait of a set, I fear, rather than an individual. I don't
know that it's particularly like Miss O'Joscelyn, except as to the worsted
'What, not as to the waltzing, resignation, and worthless young men? Come,
are they not exactly her traits? Does she waltz?'
'No, she does not.'
'And haven't you heard her express a moral objection to it?'
'Well, I believe I have.'
'Did you ever get a letter from her, or see a letter of hers?'
'I don't remember; yes, I did once, a long time ago.'
'And wasn't she very resigned in it?'
'Well, I declare I believe she was; and it's very proper too; people ought
to be resigned.'
'Oh, of course. And now doesn't she love a convert and hate a Puseyite?'
'All Irish clergyman's daughters do that.'
'Well, Fanny, you can't say but that it was a good portrait; and after
that, will you pretend to say you call Miss O'Joscelyn your friend?'
'Not my very friend of friends; but, as friends go, she's as good as most
'And who is the friend of friends, Fanny?'
'Come, you're not my father confessor. I'm not to tell you all. If I told
you that, you'd make another portrait.'
'I'm sure I couldn't draw a disparaging picture of anybody you would really
call your friend. But indeed I pity you, living among so many such people.
There can be nobody here who understands you.'
'Oh, I'm not very unintelligible.'
'Much more so than Miss O'Joscelyn. I shouldn't wish to have to draw your
'Pray don't; if it were frightful I should think you uncivil; and if you
made it handsome, I should know you were flattering. Besides, you don't
know enough of me to tell me my character.'
'I think I do; but I'll study it a little more before I put it on the
canvass. Some likenesses are very hard to catch.'
Fanny felt, when she went to bed, that she had spent a pleasanter evening
than she usually did, and that it was a much less nuisance to talk to her
cousin Adolphus than to either his father, mother, or sister; and as she
sat before her fire, while her maid was brushing her hair, she began to
think that she had mistaken his character, and that he couldn't be the
hard, sensual, selfish man for which she had taken him. Her ideas naturally
fell back to Frank and her hove, her difficulties and sorrows; and, before
she went to sleep, she had almost taught herself to think that she might
make Lord Kilcullen the means of bringing Lord Ballindine back to Grey
She had, to be sure, been told that her cousin had spoken ill of Frank;
that it was he who had been foremost in decrying Lord Ballindine's folly
and extravagance; but she had never heard him do so; she had only heard of
it through Lord Cashel; and she quite ceased to believe anything her
guardian might say respecting her discarded lover. At any rate she would
try. Some step she was determined to take about Lord Ballindine; and, if
her cousin refused to act like a cousin and a friend, she would only be
exactly where she was before.
XXXI THE TWO FRIENDS
The next three days passed slowly and tediously for most of the guests
assembled at Grey Abbey.
Captain Cokely, and a Mr Battersby, came over from Newbridge barracks, but
they did not add much to the general enjoyment of the party, though their
arrival was hailed with delight by some of the young ladies. At any rate
they made the rooms look less forlorn in the evenings, and made it worth
the girls' while to put on their best bibs and tuckers.
'But what's the use of it at all?' said Matilda Fitzgerald to little Letty
O'Joscelyn, when she had spent three-quarters of an hour in adjusting her
curls, and setting her flounces properly, on the evening before the arrival
of the two cavalry officers; 'not a soul to look at us but a crusty old
colonel, a musty old bishop, and a fusty old beau!'
'Who's the old beau?' said Letty.
'Why, that Mr Tierney. I can't conceive how Lady Cashel can have asked us
to meet such a set,' and Matilda descended, pouting, and out of humour.
But on the next day she went through her work much more willingly, if not
'That Captain Cokely's a very nice fellow,' said Matilda; 'the best of that
Newbridge set, out and out.'
'Well now, I really think he's not so nice as Mr Battersby,' said Letty.
'I'm sure he's not so good-looking.'
'Oh, Battersby's only a boy. After all, Letty, I don't know whether I like
officers so much better than other men,' and she twisted her neck round to
get a look at her back in the pier-glass, and gave her dress a little pull
just above her bustle.
'I'm sure I do,' said Letty; 'they've so much more to say for themselves,
and they're so much smarter.'
'Why, yes, they are smarter,' said Matilda; 'and there's nothing on earth
so dowdy as an old black coat, But, then, officers are always going away:
you no sooner get to know one or two of a set, and to feel that one of them
is really a darling fellow, but there, they are off to Jamaica, China,
Hounslow barracks, or somewhere; and then it's all to do over again.'
'Well, I do wish they wouldn't move them about quite so much.'
'But let's go down. I think I'll do now, won't I?' and they descended, to
begin the evening campaign.
'Wasn't Miss Wyndham engaged to some one?' said old Mrs Ellison to Mrs
Moore. 'I'm sure some one told me so.'
'Oh, yes, she was,' said Mrs Moore; 'the affair was settled, and everything
arranged; but the man was very poor, and a gambler Lord Ballindine: he has
the name of a property down in Mayo somewhere; but when she got all her
brother's money, Lord Cashel thought it a pity to sacrifice it so he got
her out of the scrape. A very good thing for the poor girl, for they say
he's a desperate scamp.'
'Well, I declare I think,' said Mrs Ellison, 'she'll not have far to look
'What, you think there's something between her and Lord Kilcullen?' said
'It looks like it, at any rate, don't it?' said Mrs Ellison.
'Well, I really think it does,' said Mrs Moore; 'I'm sure I'd be very glad
of it. I know he wants money desperately, and it would be such a capital
thing for the earl.'
'At any rate, the lady does not look a bit unwilling,' said Mrs Ellison. 'I
suppose she's fond of rakish young men. You say Lord Ballindine was of that
set; and I'm sure Lord Kilcullen's the same he has the reputation, at any
rate. They say he and his father never speak, except just in public, to
avoid the show of the thing.'
And the two old ladies set to work to a good dish of scandal.
'Miss Wyndham's an exceedingly fine girl,' said Captain Cokely to Mat
Tierney, as they were playing a game of piquet in the little drawing-room.
'Yes,' said Mat; 'and she's a hundred thousand exceedingly fine charms too,
independently of her fine face.'
'So I hear,' said Cokely; 'but I only believe half of what I hear about
'She has more than that; I know it.'