“Stop one moment, uncle,” said Fanny, striving hard to be calm, and hardly succeeding. “I did not ask my aunt to speak to you on this subject, till I had turned it over and over in my mind, and resolved that I would not make myself and another miserable for ever, because I had been foolish enough not to know my mind. You best know whether you can ask Lord Ballindine to Grey Abbey or not; but I am determined, if I cannot see him here, that I will see him somewhere else,” and she turned towards the door, and then, thinking of her aunt, she turned back and kissed her, and immediately left the room.
The countess looked up at her husband, quite dumbfounded, and he seemed rather distressed himself. However, he muttered something about her being a hot-headed simpleton and soon thinking better about it, and then betook himself to his private retreat, to hold sweet converse with his own thoughts—having first rung the bell for Griffiths, to pick up the scattered threads of her mistress’s knitting.
Lord Cashel certainly did not like the look of things. There was a determination in Fanny’s eye, as she made her parting speech, which upset him rather, and which threw considerable difficulties in the way of Lord Kilcullen’s wooing. To be sure, time would do a great deal: but then, there wasn’t so much time to spare. He had already taken steps to borrow the thirty thousand pounds, and had, indeed, empowered his son to receive it: he had also pledged himself for the other fifty; and then, after all, that perverse fool of a girl would insist on being in love with that scapegrace, Lord Ballindine! This, however, might wear away, and he would take very good care that she should hear of his misdoings. It would be very odd if, after all, his plans were to be destroyed, and his arrangements disconcerted by his own ward, and niece—especially when he designed so great a match for her!
He could not, however, make himself quite comfortable, though he had great confidence in his own diplomatic resources.
XV. HANDICAP LODGE
Lord Ballindine left Grey Abbey, and rode homewards, towards Handicap Lodge, in a melancholy and speculative mood. His first thoughts were all of Harry Wyndham. Frank, as the accepted suitor of his sister, had known him well and intimately, and had liked him much; and the poor young fellow had been much attached to him. He was greatly shocked to hear of his death. It was not yet a month since he had seen him shining in all the new-blown splendour of his cavalry regimentals, and Lord Ballindine was unfeignedly grieved to think how short a time the lad had lived to enjoy them. His thoughts, then, naturally turned to his own position, and the declaration which Lord Cashel had made to him respecting himself. Could it be absolutely true that Fanny had determined to give him up altogether?—After all her willing vows, and assurances of unalterable affection, could she be so cold as to content herself with sending him a formal message, by her uncle, that she did not wish to see him again? Frank argued with himself that it was impossible; he was sure he knew her too well. But still, Lord Cashel would hardly tell him a downright lie, and he had distinctly stated that the rejection came from Miss Wyndham herself.