When Frank had read his two letters from Grey Abbey, he was in such a state of excitement as to be unable properly to decide what he would immediately do. His first idea was to gallop to Tuam, as fast as his best horse would carry him; to take four horses there, and not to stop one moment till he found himself at Grey Abbey: but a little consideration showed him that this would not do. He would not find horses ready for him on the road; he must take some clothes with him; and it would be only becoming in him to give the earl some notice oh his approach. So he at last made up his mind to postpone his departure for a few hours.
He was, however, too much overcome with joy to be able to do anything rationally. His anger against the earl totally evaporated; indeed, he only thought of him now as a man who had a house in which he could meet his love. He rushed into the drawing-room, where his mother and sisters were sitting, and, with the two letters open in his hand, proclaimed his intention of leaving home that day.
‘Goodness gracious, Frank! and where are you going?’ said Mrs O’Kelly.
‘To Grey Abbey.’
‘No!’ said Augusta, jumping up from her chair.
‘I am so glad!’ shouted Sophy, throwing down her portion of the worsted-work sofa.
‘You have made up your difference, then, with Miss Wyndham?’ said the anxious mother. ‘I am so glad! My own dear, good, sensible Frank!’
‘I never had any difference with Fanny,’ said he. ‘I was not able to explain all about it, nor can I now: it was a crotchet of the earl’s only some nonsense; however, I’m off now I can’t wait a day, for I mean to write to say I shall be at Grey Abbey the day after tomorrow, and I must go by Dublin. I shall be off in a couple of hours; so, for Heaven’s sake, Sophy, look sharp and put up my things.’
The girls both bustled out of the room, and Frank was following them, but his mother called him back. ‘When is it to be, Frank? Come tell me something about it. I never asked any questions when I thought the subject was a painful one.’
‘God bless you, mother, you never did. But I can tell you nothing only the stupid old earl has begged me to go there at once. Fanny must settle the time herself: there’ll be settlements, and lawyer’s work.’
‘That’s true, my love. A hundred thousand pounds in ready cash does want looking after. But look here, my dear; Fanny is of age, isn’t she?’
‘She is, mother.’
‘Well now, Frank, take my advice; they’ll want to tie up her money in all manner of ways, so as to make it of the least possible use to you, or to her either. They always do; they’re never contented unless they lock up a girl’s money, so that neither she nor her husband can spend the principal or the interest. Don’t let them do it, Frank. Of course she will be led by you, let them settle whatever is fair on her; but don’t let them bother the money so that you can’t pay off the debts. It’ll be a grand thing, Frank, to redeem the property.’
Frank hemmed and hawed, and said he’d consult his lawyer in Dublin before the settlements were signed; but declared that he was not going to marry Fanny Wyndham for her money.
‘That’s all very well, Frank,’ said the mother; ‘but you know you could not marry her without the money, and mind, it’s now or never. Think what a thing it would be to have the property unencumbered!’
The son hurried away to throw himself at the feet of his mistress, and the mother remained in her drawing-room, thinking with delight on the renovated grandeur of the family, and of the decided lead which the O’Kellys would again be able to take in Connaught.
Fanny’s joy was quite equal to that of her lover, but it was not shown quite so openly. Her aunt congratulated her most warmly; kissed her twenty times; called her her own dear, darling niece, and promised her to love her husband, and to make him a purse if she could get Griffiths to teach her that new stitch; it looked so easy she was sure she could learn it, and it wouldn’t tease her eyes. Lady Selina also wished her joy; but she did it very coldly, though very sensibly.
‘Believe me, my dear Fanny, I am glad you should have the wish of your heart. There were obstacles to your union with Lord Ballindine, which appeared to be insurmountable, and I therefore attempted to wean you from your love. I hope he will prove worthy of that love, and that you may never have cause to repent of your devotion to him. You are going greatly to increase your cares and troubles; may God give you strength to bear them, and wisdom to turn them to advantage!’
The earl made a very long speech to her, in which there were but few pauses, and not one full stop. Fanny was not now inclined to quarrel with him; and he quite satisfied himself that his conduct, throughout, towards his ward, had been dignified, prudent, consistent, and disinterested.
These speeches and congratulations all occurred during the period of Mr Armstrong’s visit, and Fanny heard nothing more about her lover, till the third morning after that gentleman’s departure; the earl announced then, on entering the breakfast-room, that he had that morning received a communication from Lord Ballindine, and that his lordship intended reaching Grey Abbey that day in time for dinner.
Fanny felt herself blush, but she said nothing; Lady Selina regretted that he had had a very wet day yesterday, and hoped he would have a fine day today; and Lady Cashel was overcome at the reflection that she had no one to meet him at dinner, and that she had not yet suited herself with a cook.
‘Dear me,’ exclaimed her ladyship; ‘I wish we’d got this letter yesterday; no one knows now, beforehand, when people are coming. I’m sure it usen’t to be so. I shall be so glad to see Lord Ballindine; you know, Fanny, he was always a great favourite of mine. Do you think, Selina, the O’Joscelyns would mind coming again without any notice? I’m sure I don’t know I would not for the world treat Lord Ballindine shabbily; but what can I do, my dear?’
‘I think, my lady, we may dispense with any ceremony now, with Lord Ballindine,’ said the earl. ‘He will, I am sure, be delighted to be received merely as one of the family. You need not mind asking the O’Joscelyns today.’
‘Do you think not? Well, that’s a great comfort: besides, Lord Ballindine never was particular. But still, Fanny, had I known he was coming so soon, I would have had Murray down from Dublin again at once, for Mrs Richards is not a good cook.’
During the remainder of the morning, Fanny was certainly very happy; but she was very uneasy. She hardly knew how to meet Lord Ballindine. She felt that she had treated him badly, though she had never ceased to love him dearly; and she also thought she owed him much for his constancy. It was so good of him to send his friend to her and one to whom her uncle could not refuse admission; and then she thought she had treated Mr Armstrong haughtily and unkindly. She had never thanked him for all the trouble he had taken; she had never told him how very happy he had made her; but she would do so at some future time, when he should be an honoured and a valued guest in her own and her husband’s house.
But how should she receive her lover? Would they allow her to be alone with him, if only for a moment, at their first meeting? Oh! How she longed for a confidante! but she could not make a confidante of her cousin. Twice she went down to the drawing-room, with the intention of talking of her love; but Lady Selina looked so rigid, and spoke so rigidly, that she could not do it. She said such common-place things, and spoke of Lord Ballindine exactly as she would of any other visitor who might have been coming to the house. She did not confine herself to his eating and drinking, as her mother did; but she said, he’d find the house very dull, she was afraid especially as the shooting was all over, and the hunting very nearly so; that he would, however, probably he a good deal at the Curragh races.
Fanny knew that her cousin did not mean to be unkind; but there was no sympathy in her: she could not talk to her of the only subject which occupied her thoughts; so she retreated to her own room, and endeavoured to compose herself. As the afternoon drew on, she began to wish that he was not coming till tomorrow. She became very anxious; she must see him, somewhere, before she dressed for dinner; and she would not, could not, bring herself to go down into the drawing-room, and shake hands with him, when he came, before her uncle, her aunt, and her cousin.
She was still pondering on the subject, when, about four o’clock in the afternoon, she got a message from her aunt, desiring her to go to her in her boudoir.
‘That’ll do, Griffiths,’ said the countess, as Fanny entered her room; ‘you can come up when I ring. Sit down, Fanny; sit down, my dear. I was thinking Lord Ballindine will soon be here.’
‘I suppose he will, aunt. In his letter to Lord Cashel, he said he’d be here before dinner.’ ‘I’m sure he’ll be here soon. Dear me; I’m so glad it’s all made up between you. I’m sure, Fanny, I hope, and think, and believe, you’ll be very, very happy.’
‘Dear aunt’ and Fanny kissed Lady Cashel. A word of kindness to her then seemed invaluable.
‘It was so very proper in Lord Ballindine to give up his horses, and all that sort of thing,’ said the countess; ‘I’m sure I always said he’d turn out just what he should be; and he is so good-tempered. I suppose, dear, you’ll go abroad the first thing?’
‘I haven’t thought of that yet, aunt,’ said Fanny, trying to smile.
‘Oh, of course you will; you’ll go to the Rhine, and Switzerland, and Como, and Rome, and those sort of places. It’ll be very nice: we went there your uncle and I and it was delightful; only I used to be very tired. It wasn’t then we went to Rome though. I remember now it was after Adolphus was born. Poor Adolphus!’ and her ladyship sighed, as her thoughts went back to the miseries of her eldest born. ‘But I’ll tell you why I sent for you, my dear: you know, I must go downstairs to receive Lord Ballindine, and tell him how glad I am that he’s come back; and I’m sure I am very glad that he’s coming; and your uncle will be there. But I was thinking you’d perhaps sooner see him first alone. You’ll be a little flurried, my dear that’s natural; so, if you like, you can remain up here, my dear, in my room, quiet and comfortable, by yourself; and Griffiths shall show Lord Ballindine upstairs, as soon as he leaves the drawing-room.’
‘How very, very kind of you, dear aunt!’ said Fanny, relieved from her most dreadful difficulty. And so it was arranged. Lady Cashel went down into the drawing-room to await her guest, and Fanny brought her book into her aunt’s boudoir, and pretended she would read till Lord Ballindine disturbed her.
I need hardly say that she did not read much. She sat there over her aunt’s fire, waiting to catch the sound of the wheels on the gravel at the front door. At one moment she would think that he was never coming the time appeared to be so long; and then again, when she heard any sound which might be that of his approach, she would again wish to have a few minutes more to herself.
At length, however, she certainly did hear him. There was the quick rattle of the chaise over the gravel, becoming quicker and quicker, till the vehicle stopped with that kind of plunge which is made by no other animal than a post-horse, and by him only at his arrival at the end of a stage. Then the steps were let down with a crash she would not go to the window, or she might have seen him; she longed to do so, but it appeared so undignified. She sat quite still in her chair; but she heard his quick step at the hail door; she was sure she could have sworn to his step and then she heard the untying of cords, and pulling down of luggage.
Lord Ballindine was again in the house, and the dearest wish of her heart was accomplished. She felt that she was trembling. She had not yet made up her mind how she would receive him what she would first say to him and certainly she had no time to do so now. She got up, and looked in her aunt’s pier-glass. It was more a movement of instinct than one of premeditation; but she thought she had never seen herself look so wretchedly. She had, however, but little time, either for regret or improvement on that score, for there were footsteps in the corridor. He couldn’t have stayed a moment to speak to anyone downstairs however, there he certainly was; she heard Griffiths’ voice in the passage, ‘This way, my lord in my lady’s boudoir;’ and then the door opened, and in a moment she was in her lover’s arms.
‘My own Fanny! once more my own!’
‘Oh, Frank! dear Frank!’
Lord Ballindine was only ten minutes late in coming down to dinner, and Miss Wyndham not about half an hour, which should be considered as showing great moderation on her part. For, of course, Frank kept her talking a great deal longer than he should have done; and then she not only had to dress, but to go through many processes with her eyes, to obliterate the trace of tears. She was, however, successful, for she looked very beautiful when she came down, and so dignified, so composed, so quiet in her happiness, and yet so very happy in her quietness. Fanny was anything but a hypocrite; she had hardly a taint of hypocrisy in her composition, but her looks seldom betrayed her feelings. There was a majesty of beauty about her, a look of serenity in her demeanour, which in public made her appear superior to all emotion.
Frank seemed to be much less at his ease. He attempted to chat easily with the countess, and to listen pleasantly to the would-be witticisms of the earl; but he was not comfortable, he did not amalgamate well with the family; had there been a larger party, he could have talked all dinner-time to his love; but, as it was, he hardly spoke a word to her during the ceremony, and indeed, but few during the evening. He did sit next to her on the sofa, to be sure, and watched the lace she was working; but he could not talk unreservedly to her, when old Lady Cashel was sitting close to him on the other side, and Lady Selina on a chair immediately opposite. And then, it is impossible to talk to one’s mistress, in an ordinary voice, on ordinary subjects, when one has not seen her for some months. A lover is never so badly off as in a family party: a tˆte-…-tˆte, or a large assembly, are what suit him best: he is equally at his ease in either; but he is completely out of his element in a family party. After all, Lady Cashel was right; it would have been much better to have asked the O’Joscelyns.
The next morning, Frank underwent a desperate interview in the book-room. His head was dizzy before Lord Cashel had finished half of what he had to say. He commenced by pointing out with what perfect uprightness and wisdom he had himself acted with regard to his ward; and Lord Ballindine did not care to be at the trouble of contradicting him. He then went to the subject of settlements, and money matters: professed that he had most unbounded confidence in his young friend’s liberality, integrity, and good feeling; that he would be glad to listen, and, he had no doubt, to accede to any proposals made by him: that he was quite sure Lord Ballindine would make no proposal which was not liberal, fair, and most proper; and he said a great deal more of the kind, and then himself proposed to arrange his ward’s fortune in such a way as to put it quite beyond her future husband’s control. On this subject, however, Frank rather nonplussed the earl by proposing nothing, and agreeing to nothing; but simply saying that he would leave the whole matter in the hands of the lawyers.
‘Quite right, my lord, quite right,’ said Lord Cashel, ‘my men of business, Green and Grogram, will manage all that. They know all about Fanny’s property; they can draw out the settlements, and Grogram can bring them here, and we can execute them: that’ll be the simplest way.’
‘I’ll write to Mr Cummings, then, and tell him to wait on Messrs. Green and Grogram. Cummings is a very proper man: he was recommended to me by Guinness.’
‘Oh, ah yes; your attorney, you mean?’ said the earl. ‘Why, yes, that will be quite proper, too. Of course Mr Cummings will see the necessity of absolutely securing Miss Wyndham’s fortune.’
Nothing further, however, was said between them on the subject; and the settlements, whatever was their purport, were drawn out without any visible interference on the part of Lord Ballindine. But Mr Grogram, the attorney, on his first visit to Grey Abbey on the subject. had no difficulty in learning that Miss Wyndham was determined to have a will of her own in the disposition of her own money.
Fanny told her lover the whole episode of Lord Kilcullen’s offer to her; but she told it in such a way as to redound rather to her cousin’s credit than otherwise. She had learned to love him as a cousin amid a friend, and his ill-timed proposal to her had not destroyed the feeling. A woman can rarely be really offended at the expression of love, unless it be from some one unfitted to match with her, either in rank or age. Besides, Fanny thought that Lord Kilcullen had behaved generously to her when she so violently repudiated his love: she believed that it had been sincere; she had not even to herself accused him of meanness or treachery; and she spoke of him as one to be pitied, liked, and regarded; not as one to be execrated and avoided. And then she confessed to Frank all her fears respecting himself; how her heart would have broken, had he taken her own rash word as final, and so deserted her. She told him that she had never ceased to love him, for a day; not even on that day when, in her foolish spleen, she had told her uncle she was willing to break off the match; she owned to him all her troubles, all her doubts; how she had made up her mind to write to him, but had not dared to do so, lest his answer should be such as would kill her at once. And then she prayed to be forgiven for her falseness; for having consented, even for a moment, to forget the solemn vows she had so often repeated to him.
Frank stopped her again and again in her sweet confessions, and swore the blame was only his. He anathematised himself, his horses, and his friends, for having caused a moment’s uneasiness to her; but she insisted on receiving his forgiveness, and he was obliged to say that he forgave her. With all his follies, and all his weakness, Lord Ballindine was not of an unforgiving temperament: he was too happy to be angry with any one, now. He forgave even Lord Cashel; and, had he seen Lord Kilcullen, he would have been willing to give him his hand as to a brother.
Frank spent two or three delightful weeks, basking in the sunshine of Fanny’s love, and Lord Cashel’s favour. Nothing could be more obsequiously civil than the earl’s demeanour, now that the matter was decided. Every thing was to be done just as Lord Ballindine liked; his taste was to be consulted in every thing; the earl even proposed different, visits to the Curragh; asked after the whereabouts of Fin M’Coul and Brien Boru; and condescended pleasantly to inquire whether Dot Blake was prospering as usual with his favourite amusement.
At length, the day was fixed for the marriage. It was to be in the pleasant, sweet-smelling, grateful month of May the end of May; and Lord and Lady Ballindine were then to start for a summer tour, as the countess had proposed, to see the Rhine, and Switzerland, and Rome, and those sort of places. And now, invitations were sent, far and wide, to relatives and friends. Lord Cashel had determined that the wedding should be a great concern. The ruin of his son was to be forgotten in the marriage of his niece. The bishop of Maryborough was to come and marry them; the Ellisons were to come again, and the Fitzgeralds: a Duchess was secured, though duchesses are scarce in Ireland; and great exertions were made to get at a royal Prince, who was commanding the forces in the west. But the royal Prince did not see why he should put himself to so much trouble, and he therefore sent to say that he was very sorry, but the peculiar features of the time made it quite impossible for him to leave his command, even on so great a temptation; and a paragraph consequently found its way into the papers, very laudatory of his Royal Highness’s military energy and attention. Mrs O’Kelly and her daughters received a very warm invitation, which they were delighted to accept. Sophy and Augusta were in the seventh heaven of happiness, for they were to form a portion of the fair bevy of bridesmaids appointed to attend Fanny Wyndham to the altar. Frank rather pished and poohed at all these preparations of grandeur; he felt that when the ceremony took place he would look like the ornamental calf in the middle of it; but, on the whole, he bore his martyrdom patiently. Four spanking bays, and a new chariot ordered from Hutton’s, on the occasion, would soon carry him away from the worst part of it.
Lord Cashel was in the midst of his glory: he had got an occupation and he delighted in it. Lady Selina performed her portion of the work with exemplary patience and attention. She wrote all the orders to the tradesmen, and all the invitations; she even condescended to give advice to Fanny about her dress; and to Griffiths, about the arrangement of the rooms and tables. But poor Lady Cashel worked the hardest of all her troubles had no end. Had she known what she was about to encounter, when she undertook the task of superintending the arrangements for her niece’s wedding, she would never have attempted it: she would never have entered into negotiations with that treacherous Murray that man cook in Dublin but have allowed Mrs Richards to have done her best or her worst in her own simple way, in spite of the Duchess and the Bishop, and the hopes of a royal Prince indulged in by Lord Cashel. She did not dare to say as much to her husband, but she confessed to Griffiths that she was delighted when she heard His Royal Highness would not come. She was sure his coming would not make dear Fanny a bit happier, and she really would not have known what to do with him after the married people were gone.
Frank received two letters from Dot Blake during his stay at Grey Abbey. In the former he warmly congratulated him on his approaching nuptials, and strongly commended him on his success in having arranged matters. ‘You never could have forgiven yourself,’ he said, ‘had you allowed Miss Wyndham’s splendid fortune to slip through your hands. I knew you were not the man to make a vain boast of a girl’s love, and I was therefore sure that you might rely on her affection. I only feared you might let the matter go too far. You know I strongly advised you not to marry twenty thousand pounds. I am as strongly of opinion that you would be a fool to neglect to marry six times as much. You see I still confine myself to the money part of the business, as though the lady herself were of no value. I don’t think so, however; only I know you never would have lived happily without an easy fortune.’ And then he spoke of Brien Boru, and informed Lord Ballindine that that now celebrated nag was at the head of the list of the Derby horses; that it was all but impossible to get any odds against him at all that the whole betting world were talking of nothing else; that three conspiracies had been detected, the object of which was to make him safe that is, to make him very unsafe to his friends; that Scott’s foreman had been offered two thousand to dose him; and that Scott himself slept in the stable with him every night, to prevent anything like false play.
The second letter was written by Dot, at Epsom, on the 4th of May, thirty minutes after the great race had been run. It was very short; and shall therefore be given entire.
Epsom, Derby Day,
Race just over.
God bless you, my dear boy Brien has done the trick, and done it well! Butler rode him beautifully, but he did not want any riding; he’s the kindest beast ever had a saddle on. The stakes are close on four thousand pounds: your share will do well to pay the posters, &c., for yourself and my lady, on your wedding trip. I win well very well; but I doubt the settling. We shall have awful faces at the corner next week. You’ll probably have heard all about it by express before you get this.
In greatest haste, yours,
The next week, the following paragraph appeared in ‘Bell’s Life in London.’
‘It never rains but it pours. It appears pretty certain, now, that Brien Boru is not the property of the gentleman in whose name he has run; but that he is owned by a certain noble lord, well known on the Irish turf, who has lately, however, been devoting his time to pursuits more pleasant and more profitable than the cares of the stable pleasant and profitable as it doubtless must be to win the best race of the year. The pick-up on the Derby is about four thousand pounds, and Brien Boru is certainly the best horse of his year. But Lord Ballindine’s matrimonial pick-up is, we are told, a clear quarter of a million; and those who are good judges declare that no more beautiful woman than the future Lady Ballindine will have graced the English Court for many a long year. His lordship, on the whole, is not doing badly.’
Lord Cashel, also, congratulated Frank on his success on the turf, in spite of the very decided opinion he had expressed on the subject, when he was endeavouring to throw him on one side.
‘My dear Ballindine,’ he said, ‘I wish you joy with all my heart: a most magnificent animal, I’m told, is Brien, and still partly your own property, you say. Well; it’s a great triumph to beat those English lads on their own ground, isn’t it? And thorough Irish blood, too! thorough Irish blood! He has the “Paddy Whack” strain in him, through the dam the very best blood in Ireland. You know, my mare “Dignity”, that won the Oaks in ‘29, was by “Chanticleer”, out of “Floribel”, by “Paddy Whack.” You say you mean to give up the turf, and you know I’ve done so, too. But, if you ever do change your mind-should you ever run horses again take my advice, and stick to the “Paddy Whack” strain. There’s no beating the real “Paddy Whack” blood.’
On the 21st of May, 1844, Lord Ballindine and Fanny Wyndham were married. The bishop ‘turned ’em off iligant,’ as a wag said in the servants’ hall. There was a long account of the affair in the ‘Morning Post’ of the day; there were eight bridesmaids, all of whom, it was afterwards remarked, were themselves married within two years of the time; an omen which was presumed to promise much continued happiness to Lord and Lady Ballindine, and all belonging to them.
Murray, the man cook, did come down from Dublin, just in time; but he behaved very badly. He got quite drunk on the morning of the wedding. He, however, gave Richards an opportunity of immortalising herself. She behaved, on the trying occasion, so well, that she is now confirmed in her situation; and Lady Cashel has solemnly declared that she will never again, on any account, be persuaded to allow a man cook to enter the house.
Lady Selina she would not officiate as one of the bridesmaids is still unmarried; but her temper is not thereby soured, nor her life embittered. She is active, energetic, and good as ever: and, as ever, cold, hard, harsh, and dignified. Lord Kilcullen has hardly been heard of since his departure from Grey Abbey. It is known that he is living at Baden, but no one knows on what. His father never mentions his name; his mother sometimes talks of ‘poor Adolphus;’ but if he were dead and buried he could not give less trouble to the people of Grey Abbey.
No change has occurred, or is likely to take place, in the earl himself nor is any desirable. How could he change for the better? How could he bear his honours with more dignity, or grace his high position with more decorum? Every year since the marriage of his niece, he has sent Lord and Lady Ballindine an invitation to Grey Abbey; but there has always been some insuperable impediment to the visit. A child had just been born, or was just going to be born; or Mrs O’Kelly was ill; or one of the Miss O’Kellys was going to be married. It was very unfortunate, but Lord and Lady Ballindine were never able to get as far as Grey Abbey.
Great improvements have been effected at Kelly’s Court. Old buildings have been pulled down, and additions built up; a great many thousand young trees have been planted, and some miles of new roads and walks constructed. The place has quite an altered appearance; and, though Connaught is still Connaught, and County Mayo is the poorest part of it, Lady Ballindine does not find Kelly’s Court unbearable. She has three children already, and doubtless will have many more. Her nursery, therefore, prevents her from being tormented by the weariness of the far west.
Lord Ballindine himself is very happy. He still has the hounds, and maintains, in the three counties round him, the sporting pre-eminence, which has for so many years belonged to his family. But he has no race-horses. His friend, Dot, purchased the lot of them out and out, soon after the famous Derby; and a very good bargain, for himself, he is said to have made. He is still intimate with Lord Ballindine, and always spends a fortnight with him at Kelly’s Court during the hunting-season.
Sophy O’Kelly married a Blake, and Augusta married a Dillon; and, as they both live within ten miles of Kelly’s Court. and their husbands are related to all the Blakes and all the Dillons; and as Ballindine himself is the head of all the Kellys, there is a rather strong clan of them. About five-and-twenty cousins muster together in red coats and top-boots, every Tuesday and Friday during the hunting-season. It would hardly be wise, in that country, to quarrel with a Kelly, a Dillon, or a Blake.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:14