“And you want me to tell him so, after having banished him from my house?”
Fanny’s eyes again shot fire at the word “banished”, but she answered, very quietly, and even with a smile,
“No, uncle; but I want you to ask him here again. I might tell him the rest myself.”
“But, Fanny, dear,” said the countess, “your uncle couldn’t do it: you know, he told him to go away before. Besides, I really don’t think he’d come; he’s so taken up with those horrid horses, and that Mr Blake, who is worse than any of ’em. Really, Fanny, Kilcullen says that he and Mr Blake are quite notorious.”
“I think, aunt, Lord Kilcullen might be satisfied with looking after himself. If it depended on him, he never had a kind word to say for Lord Ballindine.”
“But you know, Fanny,” continued the aunt, “he knows everybody; and if he says Lord Ballindine is that sort of person, why, it must be so, though I’m sure I’m very sorry to hear it.”
Lord Cashel saw that he could not trust any more to his wife: that last hit about Kilcullen had been very unfortunate; so he determined to put an end to all Fanny’s yearnings after her lover with a strong hand, and said,
“If you mean, Fanny, after what has passed, that I should go to Lord Ballindine, and give him to understand that he is again welcome to Grey Abbey, I must at once tell you that it is absolutely—absolutely impossible. If I had no personal objection to the young man on any prudential score, the very fact of my having already, at your request, desired his absence from my house, would be sufficient to render it impossible. I owe too much to my own dignity, and am too anxious for your reputation, to think of doing such a thing. But when I also remember that Lord Ballindine is a reckless, dissipated gambler—I much fear, with no fixed principle, I should consider any step towards renewing the acquaintance between you a most wicked and unpardonable proceeding.”
When Fanny heard her lover designated as a reckless gambler, she lost all remaining feelings of fear at her uncle’s anger, and, standing up, looked him full in the face through her tears.
“It’s not so, my lord!” she said, when he had finished. “He is not what you have said. I know him too well to believe such things of him, and I will not submit to hear him abused.”
“Oh, Fanny, my dear!” said the frightened countess; “don’t speak in that way. Surely, your uncle means to act for your own happiness; and don’t you know Lord Ballindine has those horrid horses?”
“If I don’t mind his horses, aunt, no one else need; but he’s no gambler, and he’s not dissipated—I’m sure not half so much so as Lord Kilcullen.”
“In that, Fanny, you’re mistaken,” said the earl; “but I don’t wish to discuss the matter with you. You must, however, fully understand this: Lord Ballindine cannot be received under this roof. If you regret him, you must remember that his rejection was your own act. I think you then acted most prudently, and I trust it will not be long before you are of the same opinion yourself,” and Lord Cashel moved to the door as though he had accomplished his part in the interview.