How proud and satisfied Lord Ballindine might have been, had he been able to see all this, and could he have known how futile was every effort Lord Cashel could make to drive from Fanny Wyndham’s heart the love she felt for him.
The invitations, however, were, generally speaking, accepted. The bishop and his wife would be most happy; the colonel would come if the gout would possibly allow; Lady George wrote a note to say they would be very happy to stay a few days, and Lord George wrote another soon after to say he was sorry, but that they must return the same evening. The O’Joscelyns would be delighted; Mat Tierney would be very proud; Captain Cokely would do himself the honour; and, last but not least, Mr. Murray would preside below stairs—for a serious consideration.
What a pity so much trouble should have been taken! They might all have stayed at home; for Fanny Wyndham will never become Lady Kilcullen.
On the appointed day, or rather on the night of the appointed day, Lord Kilcullen reached Grey Abbey; for it was about eleven o’clock when his travelling-phaeton rattled up to the door. He had been expected to dinner at seven, and the first attempts of Murray in the kitchens of Grey Abbey had been kept waiting for him till half-past eight; but in vain. At that hour the earl, black with ill-humour, ordered dinner; and remarked that he considered it criminal in any man to make an appointment, who was not sufficiently attached to veracity to keep it.
The evening was passed in moody silence. The countess was disappointed, for she always contrived to persuade herself that she was very anxious to see her son. Lady Selina was really vexed, and began to have her doubts as to her brother’s coming at all: what was to be done, if it turned out that all the company had been invited for nothing? As to Fanny, though very indifferent to the subject of her cousin’s coming, she was not at all in a state of mind to dissipate the sullenness which prevailed. The ladies went to bed early, the countess grumbling at her lot, in not being allowed to see her son, and her daughter and niece marching off with their respective candlesticks in solemn silence. The earl retired to his book-room soon afterwards; but he had not yet sat down, when the quick rattle of the wheels was heard upon the gravel before the house.