‘Grace, my girl!’ said her uncle, ’I’m glad to see you’ve got up your spirits again, though you were not to be bridesmaid. Well, I hope you’ll be bride soon—I’m sure you ought to be—and you should think of rewarding that poor Mr. Salisbury, who plagues me to death, whenever he can catch hold of me, about you. He must have our definitive at last, you know, Grace.’
A silence ensued, which neither Miss Nugent nor Lord Colambre seemed willing, or able, to break.
Very good company, faith, you three!—One of ye asleep, and the other two saying nothing, to keep one awake. Colambre, have you no Dublin news? Grace, have you no Buxton scandal? What was it Lady Clonbrony told us you’d tell us, about the oddness of Miss Broadhurst’s settling her marriage? Tell me that, for I love to hear odd things.’
‘Perhaps you will not think it odd,’ said she. ’One evening—but I should begin by telling you that three of her admirers, beside Sir Arthur Berryl, had followed her to Buxton, and had been paying their court to her all the time we were there; and at last grew impatient for her decision.’
‘Ay, for her definitive!’ said Lord Clonbrony. Miss Nugent was put out again, but resumed—
’So one evening, just before the dancing began, the gentlemen were all standing round Miss Broadhurst; one of them said, “I wish Miss Broadhurst would decide—that whoever she dances with to-night should be her partner for life; what a happy man he would be!”
’"But how can I decide?” said Miss Broadhurst.
’"I wish I had a friend to plead for me!” said one of the suitors, looking at me.
’"Have you no friend of your own?” said Miss Broadhurst.
’"Plenty of friends,” said the gentleman.
’"Plenty!—then you must be a very happy man,” replied Miss Broadhurst. “Come,” said she, laughing, “I will dance with that man who can convince me—that he has, near relations excepted, one true friend in the world! That man who has made the best friend, I dare say, will make the best husband!”
‘At that moment,’ continued Miss Nugent, ’I was certain who would be her choice. The gentlemen all declared at first that they had abundance of excellent friends the best friends in the world! but when Miss Broadhurst cross-examined them, as to what their friends had done for them, or what they were willing to do, modern friendship dwindled into a ridiculously small compass. I cannot give you the particulars of the cross-examination, though it was conducted with great spirit and humour by Miss Broadhurst; but I can tell you the result—that Sir Arthur Berryl, by incontrovertible facts, and eloquence warm from the heart, convinced everybody present that he had the best friend in the world; and Miss Broadhurst, as he finished speaking, gave him her hand, and he led her off in triumph—So you see, Lord Colambre, you were at last the cause of my friend’s marriage!’
She turned to Lord Colambre as she spoke these words, with such an affectionate smile, and such an expression of open, inmost tenderness in her whole countenance, that our hero could hardly resist the impulse of his passion—could hardly restrain himself from falling at her feet that instant, and declaring his love. ’But St. Omar! St. Omar!—It must not be!’