“Could you spare me half-an-hour in the bookroom first, Kilcullen?”
This request, of course, could not be refused; and the father and son walked off, leaving Mat Tierney to the charity of the ladies.
There was much less of flippant overbearing impudence now, about Lord Kilcullen, much less of arrogance and insult from the son towards the father, than there had been in the previous interview which has been recorded. He seemed to be somewhat in dread, to be cowed, and ill at ease; he tried, however, to assume his usual manner, and followed his father into the book-room with an affected air of indifference, which very ill concealed his real feelings.
“Kilcullen,” began the earl, “I was very sorry to see Tierney with you last night. It would have been much better that we should have been alone together, at any rate for one morning. I suppose you are aware that there is a great deal to be talked over between us?”
“I suppose there is,” said the son; “but I couldn’t well help bringing the man, when he told me he was coming here.”
“He didn’t ask you to bring him, I suppose?—but we will not talk about that. Will you do me the favour to inform me what your present plans are?”
“My present plans, my lord? Indeed, I’ve no plans!—It’s a long time since I had a plan of my own. I am, however, prepared to acquiesce entirely in any which you may propose. I have come quite prepared to throw at Miss Wyndham’s feet myself and my fortune.”
“And do you expect her to accept you?”
“You said she would, my lord: so I have taken that for granted. I, at any rate, will ask her; if she refuses me, your lordship will perhaps be able to persuade her to a measure so evidently beneficial to all parties.”
“The persuading must be with yourself; but if you suppose you can carry her with a high hand, without giving yourself the trouble to try to please her, you are very much mistaken. If you think she’ll accept you merely because you ask her, you might save yourself the trouble, and as well return to London at once.”
“Just as you please, my lord; but I thought I came in obedience to your express wishes.”
“So you did; but, to tell you the truth—your manner in coming is very different from what I would wish it to be. Your—”
“Did you want me to crawl here on my hands and knees?”
“I wanted you to come, Kilcullen, with some sense of what you owe to those who are endeavouring to rescue you from ruin: with some feeling of, at any rate, sorrow for the mad extravagance of your past career. Instead of that, you come gay, reckless, and unconcerned as ever; you pick up the first jovial companion you meet, and with him disturb the house at a most unseasonable hour. You are totally regardless of the appointments you make; and plainly show, that as you come here solely for your own pleasure, you consider it needless to consult my wishes or my comfort. Are you aware that you kept your mother and myself two hours waiting for dinner yesterday?”