“We none of us approve of him, papa: we don’t think of supposing that he could now be a fitting husband for Fanny, or that they could possibly ever be married. Of course it’s not to be thought of. But if you would advise Adolphus not to be premature, he might, in the end, be more successful.”
“Kilcullen has made his own bed and he must lie in it; I won’t interfere between them,” said the angry father.
“But if you were only to recommend delay,” suggested the daughter; “a few months’ delay; think how short a time Harry Wyndham has been dead!”
Lord Cashel knew that delay was death in this case, so he pished, and hummed, and hawed; quite lost the dignity on which he piqued himself, and ended by declaring that he would not interfere; that they might do as they liked; that young people would not be guided, and that he would not make himself unhappy about them. And so, Lady Selina, crestfallen and disappointed, went away.
Then, Lady Cashel, reflecting on what her daughter had told her, and yet anxious that the marriage should, if possible, take place at some time or other, sent Griffiths down to her lord, with a message—“Would his lordship be kind enough to step up-stairs to her ladyship?” Lord Cashel went up, and again had all the difficulties of the case opened out before him.
“But you see,” said her ladyship, “poor Fanny—she’s become so unreasonable—I don’t know what’s come to her—I’m sure I do everything I can to make her happy: but I suppose if she don’t like to marry, nobody can make her.”
“Make her?—who’s talking of making her?” said the earl.
“No, of course not,” continued the countess; “that’s just what Selina says; no one can make her do anything, she’s got so obstinate, of late: but it’s all that horrid Lord Ballindine, and those odious horses. I’m sure I don’t know what business gentlemen have to have horses at all; there’s never any good comes of it. There’s Adolphus—he’s had the good sense to get rid of his, and yet Fanny’s so foolish, she’d sooner have that other horrid man—and I’m sure he’s not half so good-looking, nor a quarter so agreeable as Adolphus.”
All these encomiums on his son, and animadversions on Lord Ballindine, were not calculated to put the earl into a good humour; he was heartily sick of the subject; thoroughly repented that he had not allowed his son to ruin himself in his own way; detested the very name of Lord Ballindine, and felt no very strong affection for his poor innocent ward. He accordingly made his wife nearly the same answer he had made his daughter, and left her anything but comforted by the visit.
It was about eleven o’clock on the same evening, that Lord Kilcullen, after parting with Fanny, opened the book-room door. He had been quite sincere in what he had told her. He had made up his mind entirely to give over all hopes of marrying her himself, and to tell his father that the field was again open for Lord Ballindine, as far as he was concerned.