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She soon, however, found her tongue, and began a violent attack upon her son-in-law, declaring that she did not believe one word he had said, and that if he had married her daughter without her consent, or that of her other guardian, she would lose every farthing of her fortune.
“Make yourself easy, my dear madam,” said the young man, with nonchalance. “We had the consent of her other guardian three months ago ; and not only that, but he was so obliging at the same time to give her away himself, as he said that he thought an honest young Irishman would make her a better husband than a frippery French count, which you had often boasted you would provide for her. Here is the certificate of our marriage, and I should have claimed my little darling long ago, but that I was unable to procure the consent of an obstinate old uncle, who luckily died a fortnight since. So now good bye, for we are off for old Ireland this blessed night; but I will wait till to-morrow, if you, my noble rival, have any commands for me.”
“ Point du tout, Monsieur," replied the trembling count, as he shrunk shuddering at the sight of the fiery young Irishman, behind the capacious and crest-fallen Lady Jackson.
The party now of course broke up, Captain O'Brien leading out his blooming, blushing bride in triumph.
The count followed Lady Jackson to her hotel, where, before night, he had persuaded her to accept of him as a lover instead of a sonin-law. She thought it was a great pity that such beautiful cards, with the titles of a comtesse at full length should be lost; and he was au désespoir at the idea of returning to his beggarly lodgings, and still more beggarly barn in the country, which he had for the time ennobled by the title of “ Chateau de Nonancourt."
Unfortunately for the in:patient count, Lady Jackson was taken very ill the following day; caused, as was conjectured, by her violent passions from the disappointment of the preceding morning.
Dr. Saunderson, a Scotch physician settled at Nice, was called in, and finding what a good patient he had got, was in no hurry to cure her. Indeed she became worse under his discipline, and the count began to fear that the widow and her jointure would be stolen from him by death as rapidly as her daughter had been by marriage. He therefore resolved to call in a countryman of his own, who should hold a consultation with the Scotchman.
Dr. Eau-de-vie was summoned, and after visiting the patient, retired into another room with Dr. Saunderson. His friend the count was so anxious about his elderly love, that he accompanied the two doctors to hear their united opinions of the state of his intended.
They had no sooner left the sick room, than Lady Jackson desired her Swiss maid to follow and listen to the consultation, as she was fearful they would conceal from her their opinions as to the state she was in, and she was particularly anxious to discover whether or not they considered her dropsical.
Justine obeyed, and placing herself in the ante-room, heard every word that passed. She
was rather surprised to hear the gentlemen laughing, as she had observed that when they quitted her lady's room, they had looked particularly solemn.
The first words she heard were from the Scotchman, a tall, bony man
“Weel, then, we now quite understand one anither. On the wedding-day ye will give us baith twenty Napoleons a-piece, and employ us baith ever after.”
“ Certainement,” replied the count; “ only make her well enough to get tied to me, so that I can get tied to the English guineas, and you may keep her ill ever after if you like. It is a vulgar old creature, and nothing but her money could induce a man of my rank and appearance to unite himself to such a piece of English gaucherie.”
They then all laughed again very heartily at the idea of curing her so suddenly, and one of them waggishly proposed giving her medicated brandy in place of her present medicine.
This was considered an admirable scheme; and after a little more fun at the expense of the unconscious dowager, they returned to the sick chamber with the same solemn faces with which they had left it.
Lady Jackson, as yet ignorant of what had passed, listened to their advice with profound deference.
The gentlemen then took their leave, having previously been invited to dine at the hotel the next day, as they told the lady that her complaint had assumed so favourable a character, as to justify them in assuring her that she might then leave her room in safety.
No sooner had these miscreants quitted the house, than Justine informed her mistress of every thing that had passed.
Words cannot describe the rage of Lady Jackson, and it was some time before she could listen to the advice of the faithful Swiss. It was this—to send for her daughter and son-inlaw, Mr. O'Brien, who had been detained at Nice by contrary winds; to be reconciled to these natural friends, and leave the punishment of the three needy and unprincipled wretches to Mr. O'Brien.