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.