“Go on, Dot, go on. You want to provoke me, but you won’t. I wonder whether you’d bear it as well, if I told you you’d die a broken-down black-leg, without a friend or a shilling to bless you.”
“I don’t think I should, because I should know that you were threatening me with a fate which my conduct and line of life would not warrant any one in expecting.”
“Upon my word, then, I think there’s quite as much chance of that as there is of my getting shut up by bailiffs in Kelly’s Court, and dying drunk. I’ll bet you fifty pounds I’ve a better account at my bankers than you have in ten years.”
“Faith, I’ll not take it. It’ll be hard work getting fifty pounds out of you, then! In the meantime, come and play a game of billiards before dinner.”
To this Lord Ballindine consented, and they adjourned to the billiard-room; but, before they commenced playing, Blake declared that if the names of Lord Cashel or Miss Wyndham were mentioned again that evening, he should retreat to his own room, and spend the hours by himself; so, for the rest of that day, Lord Ballindine was again driven back upon Brien Boru and the Derby for conversation, as Dot was too close about his own stable to talk much of his own horses and their performances, except when he was doing so with an eye to business.
About two o’clock on the following morning, Lord Ballindine set off for Grey Abbey, on horseback, dressed with something more than ordinary care, and with a considerable palpitation about his heart. He hardly knew, himself, what or whom he feared, but he knew that he was afraid of something. He had a cold, sinking sensation within him, and he felt absolutely certain that he should be signally defeated in his present mission. He had plenty of what is usually called courage; had his friend recommended him instantly to call out Lord Kilcullen and shoot him, and afterwards any number of other young men who might express a thought in opposition to his claim on Miss Wyndham’s hand, he would have set about it with the greatest readiness and aptitude; but he knew he could not baffle the appalling solemnity of Lord Cashel, in his own study. Frank was not so very weak a man as he would appear to be when in the society of Blake. He unfortunately allowed Blake to think for him in many things, and he found a convenience in having some one to tell him what to do; but he was, in most respects, a better, and in some, even a wiser man than his friend. He often felt that the kind of life he was leading—contracting debts which he could not pay, and spending his time in pursuits which were not really congenial to him, was unsatisfactory and discreditable: and it was this very feeling, and the inability to defend that which he knew to be wrong and foolish, which made him so certain that he would not be able successfully to persist in his claim to Miss Wyndham’s hand