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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about The Absentee.

’Good heavens!  Lady Langdale, Mrs. Dareville, Lady Pococke, Lady Chatterton, Lady D—­, Lady G—­, his Grace of V—­; what would they think of him?  And Miss Broadhurst to see him going about with my Lord Clonbrony!’—­It could not be.  No; her ladyship made the most solemn and desperate protestation, that she would sooner give up her gala altogether—­tie up the knocker—­say she was sick—­rather be sick, or be dead, than be obliged to have such a creature as Sir Terence O’Fay at her gala.

‘Have it your own way, my dear, as you have everything else!’ cried Lord Clonbrony, taking up his hat, and preparing to decamp; ’but, take notice, if you won’t receive him you need not expect me.  So a good morning to you, my Lady Clonbrony.  You may find a worse friend in need, yet, than that same Sir Terence O’Fay.’

‘I trust I shall never be in need, my lord,’ replied her ladyship.  ’It would be strange, indeed, if I were, with the fortune I brought.’

‘Oh! that fortune of hers!’ cried Lord Clonbrony, stopping both his ears as he ran out of the room; ’shall I never hear the end of that fortune, when I’ve seen the end of it long ago?’

During this matrimonial dialogue, Grace Nugent and Lord Colambre never once looked at each other.  Grace was very diligently trying the changes that could be made in the positions of a china-mouse, a cat, a dog, a cup, and a Brahmin, on the mantelpiece; Lord Colambre as diligently reading the newspaper.

‘Now, my dear Colambre,’ said Lady Clonbrony, ’put down the paper, and listen to me.  Let me entreat you not to neglect Miss Broadhurst to-night, as I know that the family come here chiefly on your account.’

’My dear mother, I never can neglect any deserving young lady, and particularly one of your guests; but I shall be careful not to do more than not to neglect, for I never will pretend what I do not feel.’

’But, my dear Colambre, Miss Broadhurst is everything you could wish, except being a beauty.’

‘Perhaps, madam,’ said Lord Colambre, fixing his eyes on Grace Nugent, ‘you think that I can see no farther than a handsome face?’

The unconscious Grace Nugent now made a warm eulogium of Miss Broadhurst’s sense, and wit, and independence of character.

’I did not know that Miss Broadhurst was a friend of yours, Miss Nugent?’

’She is, I assure you, a friend of mine; and, as a proof, I will not praise her at this moment.  I will go farther still—­I will promise that I never will praise her to you till you begin to praise her to me.’

Lord Colambre smiled, and now listened, as if he wished that Grace should go on speaking, even of Miss Broadhurst.

‘That’s my sweet Grace!’ cried Lady Clonbrony.  ’Oh! she knows how to manage these men—­not one of them can resist her!’

Lord Colambre, for his part, did not deny the truth of this assertion.

‘Grace,’ added Lady Clonbrony, ’make him promise to do as we would have him.’

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