As soon as Lady Clonbrony was able to see anybody, her niece sent to Mrs. Broadhurst, who was very intimate with the family; she used to come frequently, almost every evening, to sit with the invalid. Miss Broadhurst accompanied her mother, for she did not like to go out with any other chaperon—it was disagreeable to spend her time alone at home, and most agreeable to spend it with her friend Miss Nugent. In this she had no design, no coquetry; Miss Broadhurst had too lofty and independent a spirit to stoop to coquetry: she thought that, in their interview at the gala, she understood Lord Colambre, and that he understood her—that he was not inclined to court her for her fortune—that she would not be content with any suitor who was not a lover. She was two or three years older than Lord Colambre, perfectly aware of her want of beauty, yet with a just sense of her own merit, and of what was becoming and due to the dignity of her sex. This, she trusted, was visible in her manners, and established in Lord Colambre’s mind; so that she ran no risk of being misunderstood by him; and as to what the rest of the world thought, she was so well used to hear weekly and daily reports of her going to be married to fifty different people, that she cared little for what was said on this subject. Indeed, conscious of rectitude, and with an utter contempt for mean and commonplace gossiping, she was, for a woman, and a young woman, rather too disdainful of the opinion of the world. Mrs. Broadhurst, though her daughter had fully explained herself respecting Lord Colambre, before she began this course of visiting, yet rejoiced that, even on this footing, there should be constant intercourse between them. It was Mrs. Broadhurst’s warmest wish that her daughter should obtain rank, and connect herself with an ancient family: she was sensible that the young lady’s being older than the gentleman might be an obstacle; and very sorry she was to find that her daughter had so imprudently, so unnecessarily, declared her age; but still this little obstacle might be overcome; much greater difficulties in the marriage of inferior heiresses were every day got over, and thought nothing of. Then, as to the young lady’s own sentiments, her mother knew them better than she did herself; she understood her daughter’s pride, that she dreaded to be made an object of bargain and sale; but Mrs. Broadhurst, who, with all her coarseness of mind, had rather a better notion of love matters than Lady Clonbrony, perceived, through her daughter’s horror of being offered to Lord Colambre, through her anxiety that nothing approaching to an advance on the part of her family should be made, that if Lord Colambre should himself advance, he would stand a better chance of being accepted than any other of the numerous persons who had yet aspired to the favour of this heiress. The very circumstance of his having paid no court to her at first, operated in his favour; for it proved that he was not mercenary, and that, whatever attention he might afterwards show, she must be sure would be sincere and disinterested.