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37. CHAPTER XXXVII: THE SIGNORA NERONI, THE COUNTESS DE COURCY, AND MRS PROUDIE MEET EACH OTHER AT ULLATHORNE
And now there were new arrivals. Just as Eleanor reached the drawing-room the signora was being wheeled into it. She had been brought out of the carriage into the dining-room and there placed on a sofa, and was now in the act of entering the other room, by the joint aid of her brother and sister, Mr Arabin, and two servants in livery. She was all in her glory, and looked so pathetically happy, so full of affliction and grace, was so beautiful, so pitiable, and so charming, that it was almost impossible not to be glad she was there.
Miss Thorne was unaffectedly glad to welcome her. In fact, the signora was a sort of lion; and though there was no drop of the Leohunter blood in Miss Thorne's veins, she nevertheless did like to see attractive people at her house.
The signora was attractive, and on her first settlement in the dining-room she had whispered two or three soft feminine words into Miss Thorne's ear, which, at the moment, had quite touched that lady's heart.
'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.
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