Whilst Lord Colambre, to comfort himself for his disappointment, was fixing his eyes upon Miss Nugent’s name, written by her own hand, in the first leaf of the book, the door opened, and the figure of an interesting-looking woman, in deep mourning, appeared—appeared for one moment, and retired.
’Only my Lord Colambre, about a parcel I was bringing for him from England, my lady—my Lady Isabel, my lord,’ said Mrs. Petito. Whilst Mrs. Petito was saying this, the entrance and retreat had been made, and made with such dignity, grace, and modesty; with such innocence, dove-like eyes had been raised upon him, fixed and withdrawn; with such a gracious bend the Lady Isabel had bowed to him as she retired; with such a smile, and with so soft a voice, had repeated ‘Lord Colambre!’ that his lordship, though well aware that all this was mere acting, could not help saying to himself as he left the house:
’It is a pity it is only acting. There is certainly something very engaging in this woman. It is a pity she is an actress. And so young! A much younger woman than I expected. A widow before most women are wives. So young, surely she cannot be such a fiend as they described her to be!’ A few nights afterwards Lord Colambre was with some of his acquaintance at the theatre, when Lady Isabel and her mother came into the box, where seats had been reserved for them, and where their appearance instantly made that sensation which is usually created by the entrance of persons of the first notoriety in the fashionable world. Lord Colambre was not a man to be dazzled by fashion, or to mistake notoriety for deference paid to merit, and for the admiration commanded by beauty or talents. Lady Dashfort’s coarse person, loud voice, daring manners, and indelicate wit, disgusted him almost past endurance, He saw Sir James Brooke in the box opposite to him; and twice determined to go round to him. His lordship had crossed the benches, and once his hand was upon the lock of the door; but attracted as much by the daughter as repelled by the mother, he could move no farther. The mother’s masculine boldness heightened, by contrast, the charms of the daughter’s soft sentimentality. The Lady Isabel seemed to shrink from the indelicacy of her mother’s manners, and seemed peculiarly distressed by the strange efforts Lady Dashfort made, from time to time, to drag her forward, and to fix upon her the attention of gentlemen. Colonel Heathcock, who, as Mrs. Petito had informed Lord Colambre, had come over with his regiment to