Mr. Kendal used to stride away from the sight of her swollen eyes, and ask Albinia why she did not tell her that the only good thing that could happen to her would be, that she should never see nor hear of the fellow again.
Why he did not tell her so himself was a different question.
‘Well, Albinia,’ said Mr. Kendal, after seeing Mr. Dusautoy on his return from London.
There was such a look of deprecation about him, that she exclaimed, ‘One would really think you had been accepting this charming son-in-law.’
‘Suppose I had,’ he said, rather quaintly; then, as he saw her hands held up, ’conditionally, you understand, entirely conditionally. What could I do, when Dusautoy entreated me, with tears in his eyes, not to deprive him of the only chance of saving his nephew?’
‘Umph,’ was the most innocent sound Albinia could persuade herself to make.
‘Besides,’ continued Mr. Kendal, ’it will be better to have the affair open and avowed than to have all this secret plotting going on without being able to prevent it. I can always withhold my consent if he should not improve, and Dusautoy declares nothing would be such an incentive.’
‘May it prove so!’
‘You see,’ he pursued, ’as his uncle says, nothing can be worse than driving him to these resorts, and when he is once of age, there’s an end of all power over him to hinder his running straight to ruin. Now, when he is living at the Vicarage, we shall have far more opportunity of knowing how he is going on, and putting a check on their intercourse, if he be unsatisfactory.’
‘If we can.’
’After all, the young man has done nothing that need blight his future life. He has had great disadvantages, and his steady attachment is much in his favour. His uncle tells me he promises to become all that we could wish, and, in that case, I do not see that I have the right to refuse the offer, when things have gone so far— conditionally, of course.’ He dwelt on that saving clause like a salve for his misgivings.
’And what is to become of Gilbert and Maurice, with him always about the house?’ exclaimed Albinia.
’We will take care he is not too much here. He will soon be at Oxford. Indeed, my dear, I am sorry you disapprove. I should have been as glad to avoid the connexion as you could be, but I do not think I had any alternative, when Mr. Dusautoy pressed me so warmly, and only asked that he should be taken on probation; and besides, when poor Lucy’s affections are so decidedly involved.’
Albinia perceived that there had been temper in her tone, and could object no further, since it was too late, and as she could not believe that her husband had been weak, she endeavoured to acquiesce in his reasoning, and it was a strong argument that they should see Lucy bright again.
‘I suppose,’ he said, ’that you would prefer that I should announce my decision to her myself!’