Lord Cashel certainly felt a considerable degree of relief when his daughter told him that Lord Kilcullen had left the house, and was on his way to Dublin, though he had been forced to pay so dearly for the satisfaction, had had to falsify his solemn assurance that he would not give his son another penny, and to break through his resolution of acting the Roman father . He consoled himself with the idea that he had been actuated by affection for his profligate son; but such had not been the case. Could he have handed him over to the sheriff’s officer silently and secretly, he would have done so; but his pride could not endure the reflection that all the world should know that bailiffs had forced an entry into Grey Abbey.
[FOOTNOTE 50: Roman father—Lucius
Junius Brutus, legendary
founder of the Roman republic, was said to have
passed sentence of death on his two sons for
participating in a rebellion.]
He closely questioned Lady Selina, with regard to all that had passed between her and her brother.
“Did he say anything?” at last he said—“did he say anything about—about Fanny?”
“Not much, papa; but what he did say, he said with kindness and affection,” replied her ladyship, glad to repeat anything in favour of her brother.
“Affection—pooh!” said the earl. “He has no affection; no affection for any one; he has no affection even for me.—What did he say about her, Selina?”
“He seemed to wish she should marry Lord Ballindine.”
“She may marry whom she pleases, now,” said the earl. “I wash my hands of her. I have done my best to prevent what I thought a disgraceful match for her—”
“It would not have been disgraceful, papa, had she married him six months ago.”
“A gambler and a roue!” said the earl, forgetting, it is to be supposed, for the moment, his own son’s character. “She’ll marry him now, I suppose, and repent at her leisure. I’ll give myself no further trouble about it.”
The earl thought upon the subject, however, a good deal; and before Mr Armstrong’s arrival he had all but made up his mind that he must again swallow his word, and ask his ward’s lover back to his house. He had at any rate become assured that if he did not do so, some one else would do it for him.
Mr Armstrong was, happily, possessed of a considerable stock of self-confidence, and during his first day’s journey, felt no want of it with regard to the delicate mission with which he was entrusted. But when he had deposited his carpet-bag at the little hotel at Kilcullen bridge, and found himself seated on a hack car, and proceeding to Grey Abbey, he began to feel that he had rather a difficult part to play; and by the time that the house was in sight, he felt himself completely puzzled as to the manner in which he should open his negotiation.
He had, however, desired the man to drive to the house, and he could not well stop the car in the middle of the demesne, to mature his plans; and when he was at the door he could not stay there without applying for admission. So he got his card-case in his hand, and rang the bell. After a due interval, which to the parson did not seem a bit too long, the heavy-looking, powdered footman appeared, and announced that Lord Cashel was at home; and, in another minute Mr Armstrong found himself in the book-room.