Lord Cashel’s plans were certainly not lucky. It was not that sufficient care was not used in laying them, nor sufficient caution displayed in maturing them. He passed his time in care and caution; he spared no pains in seeing that the whole machinery was right; he was indefatigable in deliberation, diligent in manoeuvring, constant in attention. But, somehow, he was unlucky; his schemes were never successful. In the present instance he was peculiarly unfortunate, for everything went wrong with him. He had got rid of an obnoxious lover, he had coaxed over his son, he had spent an immensity of money, he had undergone worlds of trouble and self-restraint; and then, when he really began to think that his ward’s fortune would compensate him for this, his own family came to him, one after another, to assure him that he was completely mistaken that it was utterly impossible that such a thing as a family marriage between the two cousins could never take place, and indeed, ought not to be thought of.
Lady Selina gave him the first check. On the morning on which Lord Kilcullen made his offer, she paid her father a solemn visit in his book-room, and told him exactly what she had before told her mother; assured him that Fanny could not be induced, at any rate at present, to receive her cousin as her lover; whispered to him, with unfeigned sorrow and shame, that Fanny was still madly in love with Lord Ballindine; and begged him to induce her brother to postpone his offer, at any rate for some months.
‘I hate Lord Ballindine’s very name,’ said the earl, petulant with irritation.
‘We none of us approve of him, papa: we don’t think of supposing that he could now be a fitting husband for Fanny, or that they could possibly ever be married. Of course it’s not to bethought of. But if you would advise Adolphus not to be premature, he might, in the end, be more successful.’
‘Kilcullen has made his own bed and he must lie in it; I won’t interfere between them,’ said the angry father.
‘But if you were, only to recommend delay,’ suggested the daughter; ‘a few months’ delay; think how short a time Harry Wyndham has been dead!’
Lord Cashel knew that delay was death in this case, so he pished, and hummed, and hawed; quite lost the dignity on which he piqued himself, and ended by declaring that he would not interfere; that they might do as they liked; that young people would not be guided, and that he would not make himself unhappy about them. And so, Lady Selina, crestfallen and disappointed, went away.
Then, Lady Cashel, reflecting on what her daughter had told her, and yet anxious that the marriage should, if possible, take place at some time or other, sent Griffiths down to her lord, with a message ‘Would his lordship be kind enough to step up-stairs to her ladyship?’ Lord Cashel went up, and again had all the difficulties of the case opened out before him.
‘But you see,’ said her ladyship, ‘poor Fanny she’s become so unreasonable I don’t know what’s come to her I’m sure I do everything I can to make her happy: but I suppose if she don’t like to marry, nobody can make her.’
‘Make her? who’s talking of making her?’ said the earl.
‘No, of course not,’ continued the countess; ‘that’s just what Selina says; no one can make her do anything, she’s got so obstinate, of late: but it’s all that horrid Lord Ballindine, and those odious horses. I’m sure I don’t know what business gentlemen have to have horses at all; there’s never any good comes of it. There’s Adolphus he’s had the good sense to get rid of his, and yet Fanny’s so foolish, she’d sooner have that other horrid man and I’m sure he’s not half so good-looking, nor a quarter so agreeable as Adolphus.’
All these encomiums on his son, and animadversions on Lord Ballindine, were not calculated to put the earl into a good humour; he was heartily sick of the subject; thoroughly repented that he had not allowed his son to ruin himself in his own way; detested the very name of Lord Ballindine, and felt no very strong affection for his poor innocent ward. He accordingly made his wife nearly the same answer he had made his daughter, and left her anything but comforted by the visit.
It was about eleven o’clock on the same evening, that Lord Kilcullen, after parting with Fanny, opened the book-room door. He had been quite sincere in what he had told her. He had made up his mind entirely to give over all hopes of marrying her himself, and to tell his father that the field was again open for Lord Ballindine, as far as he was concerned.
There is no doubt that he would not have been noble enough to do this, had he thought he had himself any chance of being successful; but still there was something chivalrous in his resolve, something magnanimous in his determination to do all he could for the happiness of her he really loved, when everything in his own prospects was gloomy, dark, and desperate. As he entered his father’s room, feeling that it would probably be very long before he should be closeted with him again, he determined that he would not quietly bear reproaches, and even felt a source of satisfaction in the prospect of telling his father that their joint plans were overturned their schemes completely at an end.
‘I’m disturbing you, my lord, I’m afraid,’ said the son, walking into the room, not at all with the manner of one who had any hesitation at causing the disturbance.
‘Who’s that?’ said the earl ‘Adolphus? no yes. That is, I’m just going to bed; what is it you want?’ The earl had been dozing after all the vexations of the day.
‘To tell the truth, my lord, I’ve a good deal that I wish to say: will it trouble you to listen to me?’
‘Won’t tomorrow morning do?’
‘I shall leave Grey Abbey early tomorrow, my lord; immediately after breakfast.’
‘Good heavens, Kilcullen! what do you mean? You’re not going to run off to London again?’
‘A little farther than that, I’m afraid, will be necessary,’ said the son. ‘I have offered to Miss Wyndham have been refused and, having finished my business at Grey Abbey, your lordship will probably think that in leaving it I shall be acting with discretion.’
‘You have offered to Fanny and been refused!’
‘Indeed I have; finally and peremptorily refused. Not only that: I have pledged my word to my cousin that I will never renew my suit.’
The earl sat speechless in his chair so much worse was this catastrophe even than his expectations. Lord Kilcullen continued.
‘I hope, at any rate, you are satisfied with me. I have not only implicitly obeyed your directions, but I have done everything in my power to accomplish what you wished. Had my marriage with my cousin been a project of my own, I could not have done more for its accomplishment. Miss Wyndham’s affections are engaged; and she will never, I am sure, marry one man while she loves another.’
‘Loves another psha!’ roared the earl. ‘Is this to be the end of it all? After your promises to me after your engagement! After such an engagement, sir, you come to me and talk about a girl loving another? Loving another! Will her loving another pay your debts?’
‘Exactly the reverse, my lord,’ said the son. ‘I fear it will materially postpone their payment.’
‘Well, sir,’ said the earl. He did not exactly know how to commence the thunder of indignation with which he intended to annihilate his son, for certainly Kilcullen had done the best in his power to complete the bargain. But still the storm could not be stayed, unreasonable as it might be for the earl to be tempestuous on the occasion. ‘Well, sir,’ and he stood up from his chair, to face his victim, who was still standing and, thrusting his hands into his trowsers’ pockets, frowned awfully ‘Well, sir; am I to be any further favoured with your plans?’
‘I have none, my lord,’ said Kilcullen; ‘I am again ready to listen to yours.’
‘My plans? I have no further plans to offer for you. You are ruined, utterly ruined: you have done your best to ruin me and your mother; I have pointed out to you, I arranged for you, the only way in which your affairs could be redeemed; I made every thing easy for you.’
‘No, my lord: you could not make it easy for me to get my cousin’s love.’
‘Don’t contradict me, sir. I say I did. I made every thing straight and easy for you: and now you come to me with a whining story about a girl’s love! What’s her love to me, sir? Where am I to get my thirty thousand pounds, sir? and my note of hand is passed for as much more, at this time twelve-month! Where am I to raise that, sir? Do you remember that you have engaged to repay me these sums? do you remember that, or have such trifles escaped your recollection?’
‘I remember perfectly well, my lord, that if I married my cousin, you were to repay yourself those sums out of her fortune. But I also remember, and so must you, that I beforehand warned you that I thought she would refuse me.’
‘Refuse you,’ said the earl, with a contortion of his nose and lips intended to convey unutterable scorn; ‘of course she refused you, when you asked her as a child would ask for an apple, or a cake! What else could you expect?’
‘I hardly think your lordship knows ’
‘Don’t you hardly think? then I do know; and know well too. I know you have deceived me, grossly deceived me induced me to give you money to incur debts, with which I never would have burdened myself had I not believed you were sincere in your promise. But you have deceived me, sir taken me in; for by heaven it’s no better! it’s no better than downright swindling and that from a son to his father! But it’s for the last time; not a penny more do you get from me: you can ruin the property; indeed, I believe you have; but, for your mother’s and sister’s sake, I’ll keep till I die what little you have left me.’
Lord Cashel had worked himself up into a perfect frenzy, and was stamping about the room as he uttered this speech; but, as he came to the end of it, he threw himself into his chair again, and buried his face in his hands.
Lord Kilcullen was standing with his back resting against the mantel-piece, with a look of feigned indifference on his face, which he tried hard to maintain. But his brow became clouded, and he bit his lips when his father accused him of swindling; and he was just about to break forth into a torrent of recrimination, when Lord Cashel turned off into a pathetic strain, and Kilcullen thought it better to leave him there.
‘What I’m to do, I don’t know; what I am to do, I do not know!’ said the earl, beating the table with one hand, and hiding his face with the other. ‘Sixty thousand pounds in one year; and that after so many drains! And there’s only my own life there’s only my own life!’ and then there was a pause for four or five minutes, during which Lord Kilcullen took snuff, poked the fire, and then picked up a newspaper, as though he were going to read it. This last was too much for the father, and he again roared out, ‘Well, sir, what are you standing there for? If you’ve nothing else to say; why don’t you go? I’ve done with you you can not get more out of me, I promise you!’
‘I’ve a good deal to say before I go, my lord,’ said Kilcullen. ‘I was waiting till you were disposed to listen to me. I’ve a good deal to say, indeed, which you must hear; and I trust, therefore, you will endeavour to be cool, whatever your opinions may be about my conduct.’
‘Cool? no, sir, I will not be cool. You’re too cool yourself!’
‘Cool enough for both, you think, my lord.’
‘Kilcullen,’ said the earl, ‘you’ve neither heart nor principle: you have done your worst to ruin me, and now you come to insult me in my own room. Say what you want to say, and then leave me.’
‘As to insulting language, my lord, I think you need not complain, when you remember that you have just called me a swindler, because I have been unable to accomplish your wish and my own, by marrying my cousin. However, I will let that pass. I have done the best I could to gain that object. I did more than either of us thought it possible that I should do, when I consented to attempt it. I offered her my hand, and assured her of my affection, without falsehood or hypocrisy. My bargain was that I should offer to her. I have done more than that, for I have loved her. I have, however, been refused, and in such a manner as to convince me that it would be useless for me to renew my suit. If your lordship will allow me to advise you on such a subject, I would suggest that you make no further objection to Fanny’s union with Lord Ballindine. For marry him she certainly will.’
‘What, sir?’ again shouted Lord Cashel.
‘I trust Fanny will receive no further annoyance on the subject. She has convinced me that her own mind is thoroughly made up; and she is not the person to change her mind on such a subject.’
‘And haven’t you enough on hand in your own troubles, but what you must lecture me about my ward? Is it for that you have come to torment me at this hour? Had not you better at once become her guardian yourself, sir, and manage the matter in your own way?’
‘I promised Fanny I would say as much to you. I will not again mention her name unless you press me to do so.’
‘That’s very kind,’ said the earl.
‘And now, about myself. I think your lordship will agree with me that it is better that I should at once leave Grey Abbey, when I tell you that, if I remain here, I shall certainly be arrested before the week is over, if I am found outside the house. I do not wish to have bailiffs knocking at your lordship’s door, and your servants instructed to deny me.’
‘Upon my soul, you are too good.’
‘At any rate,’ said Kilcullen, ‘you’ll agree with me that this is no place for me to remain in.’
‘You’re quite at liberty to go,’ said the earl. ‘You were never very ceremonious with regard to me; pray don’t begin to be so now. Pray go tonight if you like. Your mother’s heart will be broken, that’s all.’ ‘I trust my mother will be able to copy your lordship’s indifference.’
‘Indifference! Is sixty thousand pounds in one year, and more than double within three or four, indifference? I have paid too much to be indifferent. But it is hopeless to pay more. I have no hope for you; you are ruined, and I couldn’t redeem you even if I would. I could not set you free and tell you to begin again, even were it wise to do so; and therefore I tell you to go. And now, good night; I have not another word to say to you,’ and the earl got up as if to leave the room.
‘Stop, my lord, you must listen to me,’ said Kilcullen.
‘Not a word further. I have heard enough;’ and he put out the candles on the book-room table, having lighted a bed candle which he held in his hand.
‘Pardon me, my lord,’ continued the son, standing just before his father, so as to prevent his leaving the room; ‘pardon me, but you must listen to what I have to say.’
‘Not another word not another word. Leave the door, sir, or I will ring for the servants to open it.’
‘Do so,’ said Kilcullen, ‘and they also shall hear what I have to say. I am going to leave you tomorrow, perhaps for ever; and you will not listen to the last word I wish to speak to you?’
‘I’ll stay five minutes,’ said the earl, taking out his watch, ‘and then I’ll go; and if you attempt again to stop me, I’ll ring the bell for the servants.’
‘Thank you, my lord, for the five minutes it will be time enough. I purpose leaving Grey Abbey tomorrow, and I shall probably be in France in three days’ time. When there, I trust I shall cease to trouble you; but I cannot, indeed I will not go, without funds to last me till I can make some arrangement. Your lordship must give me five hundred pounds. I have not the means even of carrying myself from hence to Calais.’
‘Not one penny. Not one penny if it were to save you from the gaol tomorrow! This is too bad!’ and the earl again walked to the door, against which Lord Kilcullen leaned his back.
‘By Heaven, sir, I’ll raise the house if you think to frighten me by violence!’
‘I’ll use no violence, but you must hear the alternative: if you please it, the whole house shall hear it too. If you persist in refusing the small sum I now ask ’
‘I will not give you one penny to save you from gaol. Is that plain?’
‘Perfectly plain, and very easy to believe. But you will give more than a penny; you would even give more than I ask, to save yourself from the annoyance you will have to undergo.’
‘Not on any account will I give you one single farthing.’
‘Very well. Then I have only to tell you what I must do. Of course, I shall remain here. You cannot turn me out of your house, or refuse me a seat at your table.’
‘By Heavens, though, I both can and will!’
‘You cannot, my lord. if you think of it, you’ll find you cannot, without much disagreeable trouble. An eldest son would be a very difficult tenant to eject summarily: and of my own accord I will not go without the money I ask.’
‘By heavens, this exceeds all I ever heard. Would you rob your own father?’
‘I will not rob him, but I’ll remain in his house. The sheriff’s officers, doubtless, will hang about the doors, and be rather troublesome before the windows; but I shall not be the first Irish gentleman that has remained at home upon his keeping. And, like other Irish gentlemen, 1 will do so rather than fall into the hands of these myrmidons. I have no wish to annoy you; I shall be most sorry to do so; most sorry to subject my mother to the misery which must attend the continual attempts which will be made to arrest me; but I will not put my head into the lion’s jaw.’
‘This is the return for what I have done for him!’ ejaculated the earl, in his misery.
‘Unfortunate reprobate! unfortunate reprobate! that I should be driven to wish that he was in gaol!’
‘Your wishing so won’t put me there, my lord. If it would I should not be weak enough to ask you for this money. Do you mean to comply with my request?’
‘I do not, sir: not a penny shall you have not one farthing more shall you get from me.’
‘Then good night, my lord. I grieve that I should have to undergo a siege in your lordship’s house, more especially as it is likely to be a long one. In a week’s time there will be a ‘ne exeat’ issued against me, and then it will be too late for me to think of France.’ And so saying, the son retired to his own room, and left the father to consider what he had better do in his distress.
Lord Cashel was dreadfully embarrassed. What Lord Kilcullen said was perfectly true; an eldest son was a most difficult tenant to eject; and then, the ignominy of having his heir arrested in his own house, or detained there by bailiffs lurking round the premises! He could not determine whether it would be more painful to keep his son, or to give him up. If he did the latter, he would be driven to effect it by a most disagreeable process. He would have to assist the officers of the law in their duty, and to authorise them to force the doors locked by his son. The prospect, either way, was horrid. He would willingly give the five hundred pounds to be rid of his heir, were it not for his word’s sake, or rather his pride’s sake. He had said he would not, and, as he walked up and down the room he buttoned up his breeches pocket, and tried to resolve that, come what come might, he would not expedite his son’s departure by the outlay of one shilling.
The candles had been put out, and the gloom of the room was only lightened by a single bed-room taper, which, as it stood near the door, only served to render palpable the darkness of the further end of the chamber. For half an hour Lord Cashel walked to and fro, anxious, wretched, and in doubt, instead of going to his room. How he wished that Lord Ballindine had married his ward, and taken her off six months since! all this trouble would not then have come upon him. And as he thought of the thirty thousand pounds that he had spent, and the thirty thousand more that he must spend, he hurried on with such rapidity that in the darkness he struck his shin violently against some heavy piece of furniture, and, limping back. to the candlestick, swore through his teeth ‘No, not a penny, were it to save him from perdition! I’ll see the sheriff’s officer. I’ll see the sheriff himself, and tell him that every door in the house every closet every cellar, shall be open to him. My house shall enable no one to defy the law.’ And, with this noble resolve, to which, by the bye, the blow on his shin greatly contributed, Lord Cashel went to bed, and the house was at rest.
About nine o’clock on the following morning Lord Kilcullen was still in bed, but awake. His servant had been ordered to bring him hot water, and he was seriously thinking of getting up, and facing the troubles of the day, when a very timid knock at the door announced to him that some stranger was approaching. He adjusted his nightcap, brought the bed-clothes up close to his neck, and on giving the usual answer to a knock at the door, saw a large cap introduce itself, the head belonging to which seemed afraid to follow.
‘Who’s that?’ he called out.
‘It’s me, my lord,’ said the head, gradually following the cap. ‘Griffiths, my lord.’
‘Lady Selina, my lord; her ladyship bids me give your lordship her love, and would you see her ladyship for five minutes before you get up?’
Lord Kilcullen having assented to this proposal, the cap and head retired. A second knock at the door was soon given, and Lady Selina entered the room, with a little bit of paper in her hand.
‘Good morning, Adolphus,’ said the sister.
‘Good morning, Selina,’ said the brother. ‘It must be something very particular, which brings you here at this hour.’
‘It is indeed, something very particular. I have been with papa this morning, Adolphus: he has told me of the interview between you last night.’
‘Oh, Adolphus! he is very angry he’s ’
‘So am I, Selina. I am very angry, too so we’re quits. We laid a plan together, and we both failed, and each blames the other; so you need not tell me anything further about his anger. Did he send any message to me?’
‘He did. He told me I might give you this, if I would undertake that you left Grey Abbey today:’ and Lady Selina held up, hut did not give him, the bit of paper.
‘What a dolt he is.’
‘Oh, Adolphus!’ said Selina, ‘don’t speak so of your father.’ ‘So he is: how on earth can you undertake that I shall leave the house?’
‘I can ask you to give inc your word that you will do so; and I can take back the check if you refuse,’ said Lady Selina, conceiving it. utterly impossible that one of her own family could break his word.
‘Well, Selina, I’ll answer you fairly. If that bit of paper is a cheque for five hundred pounds, I will leave this place in two hours. If it is not ’
‘It is,’ said Selina. ‘It is a cheque for five hundred pounds, and I may then give it to you?’
‘I thought as much,’ said Lord Kilcullen; ‘I thought he’d alter his mind. Yes, you may give it me, and tell my father I’ll dine in London tomorrow evening.’
‘He says, Adolphus, he’ll not see you before you go.’
‘Well, there’s comfort in that, anyhow.’
‘Oh, Adolphus! how can you speak in that manner now? how can you speak in that wicked, thoughtless, reckless manner?’ said his sister.
‘Because I’m a wicked, thoughtless, reckless man, I suppose. I didn’t mean to vex you, Selina; but my father is so pompous, so absurd, and so tedious. In the whole of this affair I have endeavoured to do exactly as he would have me; and he is more angry with me now, because his plan has failed, than he ever was before, for any of my past misdoings. But let me get up now, there’s a good girl; for I’ve no time to lose.’
‘Will you see your mother before you go, Adolphus?’
‘Why, no; it’ll be no use only tormenting her. Tell her something, you know; anything that won’t vex her.’
‘But I cannot tell her anything about you that will not vex her.’
‘Well, then, say what will vex her least. Tell her tell her. Oh, you know what to tell her, and I’m sure I don’t.’
‘And Fanny: will you see her again?’
‘No,’ said Kilcullen. ‘I have bid her good bye. But give her my kindest love, and tell her that I did what I told her I would do.’
‘She told me what took place between you yesterday.’
‘Why, Selina, everybody tells you everything! And now, I’ll tell you something. If you care for your cousin’s happiness, do not attempt to raise difficulties between her and Lord Ballindine. And now, I must say good bye to you. I’ll have my breakfast up here, and go directly down to the yard. Good bye, Selina; when I’m settled I’ll write to you, and tell you where I am.’
‘Good bye, Adolphus; God bless you, and enable you yet to retrieve your course. I’m afraid it is a bad one;’ and she stooped down and kissed her brother.
He was as good as his word. In two hours’ time he had left Grey Abbey. He dined that day in Dublin, the next in London, and the third in Boulogne; and the sub-sheriff of County Kildare in vain issued half-a-dozen writs for his capture.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:14