“Yes, my lord, he is dead. I understood you to say that you had already heard it; and, unless my ears deceived me, you explained that his demise was the immediate cause of your present visit. I cannot, however, go so far as to say that I think you have exercised a sound discretion in the matter. In expressing such an opinion, however, I am far from wishing to utter anything which may be irritating or offensive to your feelings.”
“Upon my word then, I never heard a word about it till this moment! Poor Harry! And is Fanny much cut up?”
“Miss Wyndham is much afflicted.”
“I wouldn’t for worlds annoy her, or press on her at such a moment. Pray tell her, Lord Cashel, how deeply I feel her sorrows: pray tell her this, with my kindest—best compliments.”
This termination was very cold—but so was Lord Cashel’s face. His lordship had also risen from his chair; and Frank saw it was intended that the interview should end. But he would now have been glad to stay. He wanted to ask a hundred questions;—how the poor lad had died? whether he had been long ill?—whether it had been expected? But he saw that he must go; so he rose and putting out his hand which Lord Cashel just touched, he said,
“Good bye, my lord. I trust, after a few months are gone by, you may see reason to alter the opinion you have expressed respecting your ward. Should I not hear from you before then, I shall again do myself the honour of calling at Grey Abbey; but I will write to Miss Wyndham before I do so.”
Lord Cashel had the honour of wishing Lord Ballindine a very good morning, and of bowing him to the door; and so the interview ended.
When Lord Cashel had seen Frank over the mat which lay outside his study door, and that there was a six foot servitor to open any other door through which he might have to pass, he returned to his seat, and, drawing his chair close to the fire, began to speculate on Fanny and her discarded lover.
He was very well satisfied with himself, and with his own judgment and firmness in the late conversation. It was very evident that Frank had heard of Harry Wyndham’s death, and of Fanny’s great accession of wealth; that he had immediately determined that the heiress was no longer to be neglected, and that he ought to strike while the iron was hot: hence his visit to Grey Abbey. His pretended ignorance of the young man’s death, when he found he could not see Miss Wyndham, was a ruse; but an old bird like Lord Cashel was not to be caught with chaff. And then, how indelicate of him to come and press his suit immediately after news of so distressing a nature had reached Miss Wyndham! How very impolitic, thought Lord Cashel, to show such a hurry to take possession of the fortune!—How completely he had destroyed his own game. And then, other thoughts passed through his mind. His ward had