In the same way, she could not bring herself to think that Fanny was doing right, in following the bent of her dearest wishes—in marrying this man she loved so truly. She was weak; she was giving way to temptation; she was going back from her word; she was, she said, giving up her claim to that high standard of feminine character, which it should be the proudest boast of a woman to maintain.
It was in vain that her mother argued the point with her in her own way. “But why shouldn’t she marry him, my dear,” said the countess, “when they love each other—and now there’s plenty of money and all that; and your papa thinks it’s all right? I declare I can’t see the harm of it.”
“I don’t say there’s harm, mother,” said Lady Selina; “not absolute harm; but there’s weakness. She had ceased to esteem Lord Ballindine.”
“Ah, but, my dear, she very soon began to esteem him again. Poor dear! she didn’t know how well she loved him.”
“She ought to have known, mamma—to have known well, before she rejected him; but, having rejected him, no power on earth should have induced her to name him, or even to think of him again. She should have been dead to him; and he should have been the same as dead to her.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said the countess; “but I’m sure I shall be delighted to see anybody happy in the house again, and I always liked Lord Ballindine myself. There was never any trouble about his dinners or anything.”
And Lady Cashel was delighted. The grief she had felt at the abrupt termination of all her hopes with regard to her son had been too much for her; she had been unable even to mind her worsted-work, and Griffiths had failed to comfort her; but from the moment that her husband had told her, with many hems and haws, that Mr Armstrong had arrived to repeat Lord Ballindine’s proposal, and that he had come to consult her about again asking his lordship to Grey Abbey, she became happy and light-hearted; and, before Griffiths had left her for the night, she had commenced her consultations as to the preparations for the wedding.
There was no one at dinner that first evening, but Mr Armstrong, and the family circle; and the parson certainly felt it dull enough. Fanny, naturally, was rather silent; Lady Selina did not talk a great deal; the countess reiterated, twenty times, the pleasure she had in seeing him at Grey Abbey, and asked one or two questions as to the quantity of flannel it took to make petticoats for the old women in his parish; but, to make up the rest, Lord Cashel talked incessantly. He wished to show every attention to his guest, and he crammed him with ecclesiastical conversation, till Mr Armstrong felt that, poor as he was, and much as his family wanted the sun of lordly favour, he would not give up his little living down in Connaught, where, at any rate, he could do as he pleased, to be domestic chaplain to Lord Cashel, with a salary of a thousand a-year.