“Should he do so, then I have the alternative which you say you would prefer; then I will endeavour to look forward to a broken heart, and death, without a complaint and without tears. Then, Selina,” and she tried to smile through the tears which were again running down her cheeks, “I’ll come to you, and endeavour to borrow your stoic endurance, and patient industry;” and, as she said so, she walked to the door and escaped, before Lady Selina had time to reply.
After considerable negotiation between the father and the son, the time was fixed for Lord Kilcullen’s arrival at Grey Abbey. The earl tried much to accelerate it, and the viscount was equally anxious to stave off the evil day; but at last it was arranged that, on the 3rd of April, he was to make his appearance, and that he should commence his wooing as soon as possible after that day.
When this was absolutely fixed, Lord Cashel paid a visit to his countess, in her boudoir, to inform her of the circumstance, and prepare her for the expected guest. He did not, however, say a word of the purport of his son’s visit. He had, at one time, thought of telling the old lady all about it, and bespeaking her influence with Fanny for the furtherance of his plan; but, on reconsideration, he reflected that his wife was not the person to be trusted with any intrigue. So he merely told her that Lord Kilcullen would be at Grey Abbey in five days; that he would probably remain at home a long time; that, as he was giving up his London vices and extravagances, and going to reside at Grey Abbey, he wished that the house should be made as pleasant for him as possible; that a set of friends, relatives, and acquaintances should be asked to come and stay there; and, in short, that Lord Kilcullen, having been a truly prodigal son, should have a fatted calf prepared for his arrival.
All this flurried and rejoiced, terrified and excited my lady exceedingly. In the first place it was so truly delightful that her son should turn good and proper, and careful and decorous, just at the right time of life; so exactly the thing that ought to happen. Of course young noblemen were extravagant, and wicked, and lascivious, habitual breakers of the commandments, and self-idolators; it was their nature. In Lady Cashel’s thoughts on the education of young men, these evils were ranked with the measles and hooping cough; it was well that they should be gone through and be done with early in life. She had a kind of hazy idea that an opera-dancer and a gambling club were indispensable in fitting a young aristocrat for his future career; and I doubt whether she would not have agreed to the expediency of inoculating a son of hers with these ailments in a mild degree—vaccinating him as it were with dissipation, in order that he might not catch the disease late in life in a violent and fatal form. She had not therefore made herself