‘Perhaps,’ continued Sir James Brooke, ’now that I am going to marry into an Irish family, I may feel, with peculiar energy, disapprobation of this mother and daughter on another account; but you, Lord Colambre, will do me the justice to recollect that, before I had any personal interest in the country, I expressed, as a general friend to Ireland, antipathy to those who return the hospitality they received from a warm-hearted people, by publicly setting the example of elegant sentimental hypocrisy, or daring disregard of decorum, by privately endeavouring to destroy the domestic peace of families, on which, at last, public as well as private virtue and happiness depend. I do rejoice, my dear Lord Colambre, to hear you say that I had any share in saving you from the siren; and now, I will never speak of these ladies more. I am sorry you cannot stay in town to see—but why should I be sorry—we shall meet again, I trust, and I shall introduce you; and you, I hope, will introduce me to a very different charmer. Farewell!—you have my warm good wishes wherever you go.’
Sir James turned off quickly to the street in which Lady Oranmore lived, and Lord Colambre had not time to tell him that he knew and admired his intended bride. Count O’Halloran promised to do this for him. ‘And now,’ said the good count, ’I am to take leave of you; and I assure you I do it with so much reluctance that nothing less than positive engagements to stay in town would prevent me from setting off with you to-morrow; but I shall be soon, very soon, at liberty to return to Ireland; and Clonbrony Castle, if you will give me leave, I will see before I see Halloran Castle.’
Lord Colambre joyfully thanked his friend for this promise.
’Nay, it is to indulge myself. I long to see you happy—long to behold the choice of such a heart as yours. Pray do not steal a march upon me—let me know in time. I will leave everything—even the siege of—for your wedding. But I trust I shall be in time.’
‘Assuredly you will, my dear count; if ever that wedding—’
‘If,’ repeated the count.
‘If,’ repeated Lord Colambre. ’Obstacles which, when we last parted, appeared to me invincible, prevented my having ever even attempted to make an impression on the heart of the woman I love; and if you knew her, count, as well as I do, you would know that her love could “not unsought be won."’
’Of that I cannot doubt, or she would not be your choice; but when her love is sought, we have every reason to hope,’ said the count, smiling, ’that it may, because it ought to be won by tried honour and affection. I only require to be left in hope.’
‘Well, I leave you hope,’ said Lord Colambre; ’Miss Nugent—Miss Reynolds, I should say, has been in the habit of considering a union with me as impossible; my mother early instilled this idea into her mind. Miss Nugent thought that duty forbad her to think of me; she told me so: I have seen it in all her conduct and manners. The barriers of habit, the ideas of duty, cannot, ought not, to be thrown down or suddenly changed in a well-regulated female mind. And you, I am sure, know enough of the best female hearts, to be aware that time—’