intricacies of Nineteenth Century Christianity, were absent.，
'Oh, Miss Thorne; where is Miss Thorne?' she said, as soon as her attendants had placed her in her position just before one of the windows, from whence she could see all that was going on upon the lawn; 'How am I to thank you for permitting a creature like me to be here? But if you knew the pleasure you give me, I am sure you would excuse the trouble I bring with me.' And as she spoke she squeezed the spinster's little hand between her own.
'We are delighted to see you here,' said Miss Thorne; 'you give us no trouble at all, and we think it a great favour conferred by you to come and see us; don't we, Wilfred?'
'A very great favour indeed,' said Mr Thorne, with a gallant bow, but of somewhat less cordial welcome than that conceded by his sister. Mr Thorne had learned perhaps more of the antecedents of his guest than his sister had done, and not as yet undergone the power of the signora's charms.
But while the mother of the last of the Neros was thus in he full splendour, with crowds of people gazing at her and the elite of the company standing round her couch, her glory was paled by the arrival of the Countess De Courcy. Miss Thorne had now been waiting three hours for the countess, and could not therefore but show very evident gratification when the arrival at last took place. She and her brother of course went off to welcome the titled grandee, and with them, alas, went many of the signora's admirers.
'Oh, Mr Thorne,' said the countess, while the act of being disrobed of her fur cloaks, and re-robed in her gauze shawls, 'what dreadful roads you have; perfectly frightful.'
It happened that Mr Thorne was way-warden for the district, and not liking the attack, began to excuse his roads.
'Oh yes, indeed they are,' said the countess, not minding him in the least, 'perfectly dreadful; are they not, Margaretta? Why, dear Miss Thorne, we left Courcy Castle just at eleven; it was only just past eleven, was it not, John? and--'
'Just past one, I think you mean,' said the Honourable John, turning from the group and eyeing the signora through his glass. The signora gave him back his own, as the saying is, and more with it; so that the young nobleman was forced to avert his glance, and drop his glass.
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