They liked Lucy’s pretty face and obliging ways, and were fond of having a young lady in their house; they saw her looking ill and depressed, and thought sea air would be good for her, and though Lucy fancied herself past caring for gaiety, and was very sorry to leave home and mamma, she was not insensible to the refreshment of her wardrobe, and the excitement and honour of the invitation. At night she cried lamentably, and clung round Albinia’a neck, sobbing, ’Oh, mamma, what will become of me without you?’ but in the morning she went off in very fair spirits, and Albinia augured hopefully that soon her type of perfection would be no longer Polysyllabic. Her first letters were deplorable, but they soon became cheerful, as her mornings were occupied by lessons in music and drawing, and her evenings in quiet parties among the friends whom the aunts met at Brighton. Aunt Gertrude wrote to announce that her charge had recovered her looks and was much admired, and this was corroborated by the prosperous complacency of Lucy’s style. Albinia was more relieved than surprised when the letters dwindled in length and number, well knowing that the Family Office was not favourable to leisure; and devoid of the epistolary gift herself, she always wondered more at people’s writing than at their silence, and scarcely reciprocated Lucy’s effusions by the hurried notes which she enclosed in the well-filled envelopes of Gilbert and Sophy, who, like their father, could cover any amount of sheets of paper.
‘There!’ cried Ulick O’More, ’I may wish you all good-bye. There’s an end of it.’
Mr. Kendal stood aghast.
‘He’s insulted my father and my family,’ cried Ulick, ’and does he think I’ll write another cipher for him?’
’Don’t call him my uncle. I wish I’d never set eyes on his wooden old face, to put the family name and honour in the power of such as he.’
‘What has he done to you?’
‘He has offered to take me as his partner,’ cried Ulick, with flashing eyes; and as an outcry arose, not in sympathy with his resentment, he continued vehemently, ’Stay, you have not heard! ’Twas on condition I’d alter my name, leave out the O that has come down to me from them that were kings and princes before his grandfathers broke stones on the road.’
‘He offered to take you into partnership,’ repeated Mr. Kendal.
‘Do you think I could listen to such terms!’ cried the indignant lad. ‘Give up the O! Why, I would never be able to face my brothers!’
’Don’t talk to me, Mr. Kendal; I wouldn’t sell my name if you were to argue to me like Plato, nor if his bank were the Bank of England. I might as well be an Englishman at once.’
‘Then this was the insult?’
’And enough too, but it wasn’t all. When I answered, speaking as coolly, I assure you, as I’m doing this minute, what does he do, but call it a folly, and taunt us for a crew of Irish beggars! Beggars we may be, but we’ll not be bought by him.’