The Absentee eBook

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

CHAPTER IV

Lady Clonbrony was taken ill the day after her gala; she had caught cold by standing, when much overheated, in a violent draught of wind, paying her parting compliments to the Duke of V—­, who thought her a bore, and wished her in heaven all the time for keeping his horses standing.  Her ladyship’s illness was severe and long; she was confined to her room for some weeks by a rheumatic fever, and an inflammation in her eyes.  Every day, when Lord Colambre went to see his mother, he found Miss Nugent in her apartment, and every hour he found fresh reason to admire this charming girl.  The affectionate tenderness, the indefatigable patience, the strong attachment she showed for her aunt, actually raised Lady Clonbrony in her son’s opinion.  He was persuaded she must surely have some good or great qualities, or she could not have excited such strong affection.  A few foibles out of the question, such as her love of fine people, her affectation of being English, and other affectations too tedious to mention, Lady Clonbrony was really a good woman, had good principles, moral and religious, and, selfishness not immediately interfering, she was good-natured; and though her soul and attention were so completely absorbed in the duties of acquaintanceship that she did not know it, she really had affections—­they were concentrated upon a few near relations.  She was extremely fond and extremely proud of her son.  Next to her son, she was fonder of her niece than of any other creature.  She had received Grace Nugent into her family when she was left an orphan, and deserted by some of her other relations.  She had bred her up, and had treated her with constant kindness.  This kindness and these obligations had raised the warmest gratitude in Miss Nugent’s heart; and it was the strong principle of gratitude which rendered her capable of endurance and exertions seemingly far above her strength.  This young lady was not of a robust appearance, though she now underwent extraordinary fatigue.  Her aunt could scarcely bear that she should leave her for a moment:  she could not close her eyes unless Grace sat up with her many hours every night.  Night after night she bore this fatigue; and yet, with little sleep or rest, she preserved her health, at least supported her spirits; and every morning, when Lord Colambre came into his mother’s room, he saw Miss Nugent look as blooming as if she had enjoyed the most refreshing sleep.  The bloom was, as he observed, not permanent; it came and went, with every emotion of her feeling heart; and he soon learned to fancy her almost as handsome when she was pale as when she had a colour.  He had thought her beautiful when he beheld her in all the radiance of light, and with all the advantages of dress at the gala, but he found her infinitely more lovely and interesting now, when he saw her in a sick-room—­a half-darkened chamber—­where often he could but just discern her form, or distinguish her, except by her graceful motion as she passed, or when, but for a moment, a window-curtain drawn aside let the sun shine upon her face, or on the unadorned ringlets of her hair.

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The Absentee from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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