Ashamed of the whole transaction, Miss Nugent earnestly wished that a refusal should be sent, and reminded her aunt of her rheumatism; but rheumatism and all other objections were overruled—Lady Clonbrony would go. It was just when this affair was thus, in her opinion, successfully settled, that Lord Colambre came in, with a countenance of unusual seriousness, his mind full of the melancholy scenes he had witnessed in his friend’s family.
‘What is the matter; Colambre?’
He related what had passed; he described the brutal conduct of Mordicai; the anguish of the mother and sisters; the distress of Mr. Berryl. Tears rolled down Miss Nugent’s cheeks. Lady Clonbrony declared it was very shocking; listened with attention to all the particulars; but never failed to correct her son, whenever he said Mr. Berryl.
‘Sir Arthur Berryl, you mean.’
She was, however, really touched with compassion when he spoke of Lady Berryl’s destitute condition; and her son was going on to repeat what Mordicai had said to him, but Lady Clonbrony interrupted—
’Oh, my dear Colambre! don’t repeat that detestable man’s impertinent speeches to me. If there is anything really about business, speak to your father. At any rate, don’t tell us of it now, because I’ve a hundred things to do,’ said her ladyship, hurrying out of the room, ‘Grace—Grace Nugent! I want you!’
Lord Colambre sighed deeply.
‘Don’t despair,’ said Miss Nugent, as she followed to obey her aunt’s summons. ’Don’t despair; don’t attempt to speak to her again till to-morrow morning. Her head is now full of Lady St. James’s party. When it is emptied of that, you will have a better chance. Never despair.’
‘Never, while you encourage me to hope—that any good can be done.’
Lady Clonbrony was particularly glad that she had carried her point about this party at Lady St. James’s; because, from the first private intimation that the Duchess of Torcaster was to be there, her ladyship flattered herself that the long-desired introduction might then be accomplished. But of this hope Lady St. James had likewise received intimation from the double-dealing Miss Pratt; and a warning note was