Tales and Novels — Volume 06

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TALES AND NOVELS

VOL. 6
BY
MARIA EDGEWORTH

THE ABSENTEE.

CHAPTER I.

“Are you to be at Lady Clonbrony’s gala next week?” said Lady Langdale
to Mrs. Dareville, whilst they were waiting for their carriages in the
crush-room of the opera-house.

“Oh, yes! every body’s to be there, I hear,” replied Mrs. Dareville.

“Your ladyship, of course?”

“Why, I don’t know; if I possibly can. Lady Clonbrony makes it such
a point with me, that I believe I must look in upon her for a few
minutes. They are going to a prodigious expense on this occasion. Soho
tells me the reception rooms are all to be new furnished, and in the
most magnificent style.”

“At what a famous rate those Clonbronies are dashing on,” said colonel

Heathcock. “Up to any thing.”

“Who are they?—these Clonbronies, that one hears of so much of
late?” said her grace of Torcaster. “Irish absentees, I know. But
how do they support all this enormous expense?” “The son will have
a prodigiously fine estate when some Mr. Quin dies,” said Mrs.
Dareville.

“Yes, every body who comes from Ireland will have a fine estate when
somebody dies,” said her grace. “But what have they at present?”

“Twenty thousand a year, they say,” replied Mrs. Dareville.

“Ten thousand, I believe,” cried Lady Langdale.

“Ten thousand, have they?—possibly,” said her grace. “I know nothing
about them—have no acquaintance among the Irish. Torcaster knows
something of Lady Clonbrony; she has fastened herself by some means
upon him; but I charge him not to commit me. Positively, I could not
for any body, and much less for that sort of person, extend the circle
of my acquaintance.”

“Now that is so cruel of your grace,” said Mrs. Dareville, laughing,
“when poor Lady Clonbrony works so hard, and pays so high to get into
certain circles.”

“If you knew all she endures, to look, speak, move, breathe, like an

Englishwoman, you would pity her,” said Lady Langdale.

“Yes, and you cawnt conceive the peens she teekes to talk of the
teebles and cheers, and to thank Q, and with so much teeste to
speak pure English,” said Mrs. Dareville.

“Pure cockney, you mean,” said Lady Langdale.

“But does Lady Clonbrony expect to pass for English?” said the
duchess.

“Oh, yes! because she is not quite Irish bred and born—only bred,
not born,” said Mrs. Dareville. “And she could not be five minutes
in your grace’s company, before she would tell you that she was
Henglish, born in Hoxfordshire.”

“She must be a vastly amusing personage—I should like to meet her
if one could see and hear her incog.,” said the duchess. “And Lord
Clonbrony, what is he?”

“Nothing, nobody,” said Mrs. Dareville: “one never even hears of him.”

“A tribe of daughters, too, I suppose?”

“No, no,” said Lady Langdale; “daughters would be past all endurance.”

“There’s a cousin, though, a Miss Nugent,” said Mrs. Dareville, “that

Lady Clonbrony has with her.”

“Best part of her, too,” said Colonel Heathcock—”d——d fine
girl!—never saw her look better than at the opera to-night!”

“Fine complexion! as Lady Clonbrony says, when she means a high
colour,” said Lady Langdale.

“Miss Nugent is not a lady’s beauty,” said Mrs. Dareville. “Has she
any fortune, colonel?”

“‘Pon honour, don’t know,” said the colonel.

“There’s a son, somewhere, is not there?” said Lady Langdale.

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