the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

It has been put to me, by those that appreciate this account, that there are those that would desire these memoirs in a more compendious and portable form. With the inestimable services and skills of Mistress [personal profile] clanwilliam, Volumes the First to the Eleventh of these memoirs are now available as what are known among the cognoscenti as, ebooks.

These may be downloaded, by such as desire to read 'em, at Google Docs:

The Comfortable Courtesan: A Memoir by Madame C- C- (that has been a Lady of the Demi-Monde these several years)

Volume the First

Volume the Second

Volume the Third

Volume the Fourth

Volume the Fifth

Volume the Sixth

Volume the Seventh

Volume the Eighth

Volume the Ninth

Volume the Tenth

Volume the Eleventh

A key to the numerous characters may be found in this post, and [personal profile] threeringedmoon has created a GoogleDocs version that can be downloaded here.

Madame C- expresses herself highly indebt’d to those that find amusement, education, mayhap even edification, in these chronicles. Any particular appreciation may be expresst thru’ the good offices of PayPal.

She would also desire to remark that her devot'd amanuensis is about revizing this chronicle with a view to eradicating errours and making it more widely available to the cognoscenti. The amanuensis says, watch this space.

Madem C- also wishes to convey, to those that have expresst a desire to emulate her good friend that goes by the style of HotUtilitarian in writing what is call’d fanfic, that several works can now be found at AO3, and may indeed be added unto by those that so desire. Indeed, words can hardly convey her most exceeding gratification at being a Yuletide fandom.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

Please do let yr humble amanuensis know if there are any omissions or queries.

Volume 1

Madame C- C-: Clorinda Cathcart, the memoirist

Her household: Hector (Wilson), her black manservant; Seraphine (Pyecroft), his mixed-race cousin, the cook; (Thomasina) Docket, a lady's maid; Phoebe, Hector's sister, the housemaid, later advanced to housekeeper; Tibby (Phillips), a housemaid who aspires to become a lady's maid; Euphemia (Bennett), kitchen-maid; Prue (Brown), under-housemaid; Titus (Marshall), Hector's nephew, odd-job boy

The Reverend Mr A-: The Reverend Mr Armitage, parson in the London parish where Clorinda resides

Miss A-: Amelia Addington, actress

Bellamy: Lady Wallace’s lady’s maid

Miss B-: the late Miss Billston, a distant cousin of Lady Jane Beaufoyle, and her lover, a talented amateur composer

Mrs (‘Aunty’) Black: a midwife

*Mr B-: Mr Boxtell, a banker

Mamzelle Bridgette, a supposedly French modiste, real name Biddy Smith, an old friend of Docket

Mr C-: Mr Carter, surgeon to the antipodean expedition

Miss D-: Miss Daniels, a gossip of the demimonde

Mr de C-: Raoul de Cleraut, painter of French émigré origin

Dorcas (Chapman): a cousin to several in Clorinda’s household, maid to Miss Addington

The dreadfull crocodile: Old Lady Wallace, mother to Sir Barton Wallace

M. Duval: Lord Raxdell’s chef de cuisine

The Earl of E-: The Earl of Erringe, an elderly and debauched nobleman

Mr E-: Mr Evenden, FRS, a chemist

*Mr F-: Josiah Ferraby, ironmaster and civic improver; married to Eliza Ferraby; children Harry, Elizabeth (Bess), Margaret (Meg), Josiah (Josh) and Quintus

Frederique: Lord Raxdell’s valet

Mr G-: Mr Gaffney, a second-rate tragedian

Miss G-: Abigail Gowing, a courtesan, dear friend of Clorinda and a noted gamester

Mr G- D-: Mr Gordon Duncan, a singer

*Mr H-: Mr Hacker, FRCS, surgeon, anatomist and man-midwife

*Sir V- H-: Sir Vernon Horrobin, of the Embassy at Washington,

Lady J-: Lady Jane Beaufoyle, sister to the Duke of Mulcaster

*Mr J-: Mr Harold (formerly Hywel) Jenkins, an actor-manager

Dr J-: Dr Jessop, a physician at Harrogate

*Admiral, formerly Captain, K-: Admiral Knighton, RN

The K-s: the Knowles family: Miss Viola Knowles (little V), her twin brother Sebastian, her father, a wealthy City businessman, her mother, her elder half-sister Miss (Martha) Knowles, engaged to Jacob Samuels

Miss L-: Miss Lewis, a professional pianist, devoted friend of Miss McKeown

Madame Lisette, born Bessie Wilcox, another supposedly French modiste

Mr MacD-: Alexander MacDonald, MA, Sandy, secretary to Lord R-

Miss McK-: Miss McKeown, a professional singer, devoted friend of Miss Lewis, kept by Mr Boxtell

Duke of M-: see Lord S-

Maggy: Miss Addington’s dresser

Miss M-: Miss Minton, an actress

The Reverend Mr M-: Mr Morrison, headmaster of a boys’ school attended by the elder Ferraby boys

Mr N-: Mr Nixon, of the Home Office

Mrs O’C-: Mrs O’Callaghan, an Irish supposed widow, neé Mary Theresa O’Grady; Mr O’C-: Mr O’Callaghan, her scoundrel husband

Mr O’D-: Mr O’Donnell, a gentleman about Town with aspirations to Miss Lewis’s favours, under treatment by Mr Hacker for an unmentionable disease

*Mr P-: Mr Pargiter, a dramatic critic who publishes under the style of Aristarchus

Lord P-: The Earl of Pockinford, famed connoisseur of cows

Mr Q-: Mr Quennell, an attorney

*Lord R-: Gervase Reveley, Viscount Raxdell; aka Milord, G

*Mr R-/Sir Z- R-: Mr Robinson, RA, a painter, subsequently Sir Zoffany Robinson

*Lord S-, subsequently Duke of M-: Beaufoyle Beaufoyle, Lord Sallington, heir to the Duke of Mulcaster, succeeds on his father’s sudden death: Biffle to his intimates

Mr S-: Mr (Jacob) Samuels, a Jewish geologist affianced to the elder Miss Knowles

Miss T-: Miss (Katherine) Thorne, a not so very young lady having a London Season, a friend of Susannah Wallace

The Reverend Mr T-: Mr (Thomas) Thorne, a clergyman with scientific and mathematical interests

Signor V-: Signor Vivanti, an Italian violinist and patron of Miss Lewis

*Sir B- W-: Sir Barton Wallace, MP, man about town and gamester, a quondam favourite of Clorinda but enjoying the favours of Miss Gowing prior to his marriage to Lady (Susannah) Wallace

*Major W-: Major (Arbuthnot) Wallace, a cousin of Sir Barton Wallace, lately serving at the Cape

Williams: the Duchess of Mulcaster's lady’s maid

*General Y-: General Yeomans, of the Honourable East India Company’s Madras forces, retired

An as yet unnamed journeyman printer (Alf)

A wombatt, initially in the possession of Mr Thorne, but given by him to Sir Zoffany Robinson before setting out on the antipodean expedition

Volume 2: Changes in station and new characters )

Volume 3: Changes in station and new characters )

Volume 4: Changes in station and new characters )

Volume 5: Changes in station and new characters )

Volume 6: Changes in station and new characters )

Volume 7: Changes in station and new characters )

Volume 8: Changes in station and new characters )

Volume 9: Changes in station and new characters )

Volume 10: Changes in station and new characters )

Volume 11: Changes in station and new characters )

*Gentlemen who have enjoyed, or supposedly enjoyed, Clorinda’s professional favours at some time or other

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

'Tis with some chagrin that I open a letter from dearest Belinda, that writes that she hears that I am return'd to Town, and I mind that I have not writ to her this age. I hope she does not take offense in the matter or suppose I go scorn her.

But she writes in all good humour to mention that they have had dealings with Captain C-, and that she is in correspondence with Chancery over the matter of T-, but she doubts that there will be any immediate action; and she hopes that I may join 'em for the Derby again this year. She also wonders a little whether my jaunt abroad had somewhat to do with that matter I open'd to 'em last summer. But as I am happyly return'd she confides that all's well.

So I address myself at once to inditing a letter to her with as much of my news as 'tis prudent to convey, and declaring that 'twould be an entire pleasure to join their party for the Derby.

'Tis most particular shocking to me to have neglect'd to write to her, when I contemplate that this very e'en I am bound to Lord A-'s ball at B- House, that will sure be a matter of interest to her.

But indeed, I have been entire besieg'd with invitations and callers and the wranglings among the philanthropick set, and trying put my writings in fit condition to be publisht or stag'd, and going furbish up my wardrobe so that Docket will not scold me. Yet 'tis most thoughtless in me.

But I cannot regret the hours spent about my wardrobe when I go have Docket and Sophy array me for the B- House ball: sure I am a vain creature, but it pleases me to look so exceeding well in a fine new satin gown of Maurice's devizing, with my fine Hindoo rubies blazing about my neck and my pearls gleaming in my hair. They stand back and look very approving.

Docket nods and says sure Maurice does excellent fine work.

I arrive at B- House late enough not to be unfashionable early, but not so late as to look haughty. I greet Lord and Lady A- very warm: I confide that she is at that stage of increase where she begins show a little but is like to feel exceeding well. Certainly she looks so, and I remark upon how very much she is in looks. Lord A- looks at her very proud and says, but she should not overdo: I daresay Mrs O- B- has been dispensing cautions.

I say that I hope we may have the pleasure of hearing her sing, if only a little, before I proceed up the stair to see the rest of the company.

Sure one would not know B- House for that desolate wreck that us'd to be, 'tis now a fine fashionable residence entire throng'd with quite the best society, and I can hardly even believe it that same place where I was menac'd by that creeping madman. The chamber in which I was so terroriz'd by that horrid apparition is now a fine musick room in which Mrs O- B- goes delight an audience with her song.

I go in very quiet and sit down to listen for a little while, and find myself next to Sebastian K-. We nod very civil to one another in silence so as not to distract the other listeners.

After Mrs O- B- goes sit down to considerable applause, I stand and leave the room, for tho' tis most agreeable to listen to good singing, I must go improve the shining hour, whilst I also demonstrate that I may still dance a very great deal without I go swoon.

I should perchance have preferr'd not to dance with Mr O- B- so early in the proceedings, for tho' a most amiable fellow is a quite wretch'd dancer that treads upon my feet, but I must show civil. Is most effusive as to what a fine residence this is, how very pleasant Lord A- shows - has took him a time or two to play goff at Blackheath ('tis indeed a great mark of favour); entirely doats upon Charley, and comes about to an apprehension of the duties of his rank.

Why, says I, that is entire pleasing. Was ever an agreeable young fellow but somewhat of a careless fribble.

Goes very meritorious to take up the business of his estates, goes on Mr B-. And is a fellow will listen to advice.

The dance ends and I endeavour not to hobble as I quit the floor. I stand wriggling my toes to ascertain they are not broken.

Comes over Lord O-, that has been dancing with Cousin Lalage – 'tis in exceeding good ton of him – and asks me to dance. I concede with pleasure.

He says, he is entire glad that Lady B- is return’d to Town, along with Mr MacD- - he gives a certain smile by which I confide he supposes that we have been about matters for The Cause; 'tis indeed not entirely mistook – for he comes about to have the manuscript for the book of his travels complet’d, and would scarce dare venture it upon the world without he took it before our judgements.

O, poo, says I, I am like to suppose 'tis quite entire its own recommendation: Mr L- was most entire prepossesst by the preliminary essays he publisht – declar’d they had a fine virile style -

The Marquess’s lips twitch and he says, sure he cannot have suppos’d how much assistance I had from a certain lady of the pen -

Tush, says I, 'tis entire like unto advizing concerning furbishing up a residence: a gentleman’s study and a lady’s boudoir will require a different approach. But, I go on, I see that you have quite another kind of production in progress –

He looks somewhat more sober and says, sure the prospect is exceeding delightfull, but one cannot entire be unfearfull, 'tis a perilous matter for women.

'Tis indeed so, says I, I hope you have her in good hands?

He says that he understands Mr H- to be very well-thought-of in the man-midwife line.

Entirely, says I, tho’ did you prefer a midwife of the more usual sex there is one whose interest I might advance to you.

He looks thoughtfull and says, he will ask his dear Hippolyta what she might prefer.

At the end of the measure I observe Lieutenant H- approaching. He makes me a leg and offers that I might care to dance? As he leads me onto the floor I remark that I had not expect’d to see him still in Town rather than return’d to his ship. He sighs somewhat and says, is at present second’d to duty at the Admiralty, sure had rather be at sea, hears I was lately at Naples, was the fleet there?

O, says I, arriv’d just about as I was about returning to Town, heard the Admiral’s excellent news.

He says somewhat of what a fine fellow is the Admiral, what a privilege 'tis to serve with him, and then his gaze strays to where Em is dancing with some fellow that I do not immediate recognize, and I confide that there are certain attractions ashore, even does he yearn for salt water.

At the end of the dance he goes with great expedition solicit Em, and I look about me and see where Viola is sitting. I go greet her and she says, she confides I have not yet been introduc’d to Rebecca G-, that is dear Jacob’s niece, and Julia P-, from Bombay.

They are indeed very fine-looking young women, of a most out of the common exotick style of beauty, that make exceeding civil. Miss P- in particular has a fine ivory-tint’d complexion and smooth raven hair and finely-cut features; perchance there is a little look of the Orient, that may be attribut’d to her upbringing in Bombay. I am like to think that Sir Z- R- would be quite wild to paint her, and remark on this.

Why, says Viola, perchance we might go to his studio one day, there can be entirely no objection to the matter.

Then come up the gentlemen to whom the young ladies have promis’d the next dance. I sit down beside Viola, ignoring that Sir V- P- endeavours catch my eye to come solicit me.

I mind, says I, that Martha found the scent of paints &C somewhat unsettling when she first went increase with Deborah.

Viola sighs and says, indeed she at present finds there are certain scents do cause a certain qualmishness, 'tis somewhat tiresome. Might you, dear C-, be kind enough to take 'em there? Are they not quite among the belles of the Season?

Entirely, says I, do they yet have any eligible offers?

O, there are several go pay 'em most particular attention, but do not yet come to that point. But 'twixt their looks, their portions, and their very excellent address, I cannot think they will linger upon hand very long. And, she goes on, Miss C- I think has already took, Lord V- shows exceeding smitten.

So 'tis give out, says I. What about Lady Rosamund?

Viola sighs and says, she was anticipating a young woman that would display theologickal objections like unto her brother; and sure she is mind’d to suppose that that would be a deal less exasperating than the ways she shows. But, she goes on, you should not be sitting out with me, dearest C-, I am sure that there are a deal of fellows quite panting to dance with the exquisite Lady B-.

'Tis possible, I concede, so be I may evade the antient ram. Aha, I continue, I observe Mr Geoffrey M- -

Viola laughs somewhat immoderate and says, do you go have a youthfull cicisbeo like unto Lady Z-? 'Twill be said that you have got quite into Italian habits.

O, poo, says I, he is an agreeable and respectfull young fellow.

Indeed, he comes over and makes an elegant leg – one may most certain see the effect of his association with Milord – and offers that I may care to dance?

I rise and curtesy and we go tread a measure, during which he conveys to me some very shocking matters he has lately discover’d in his studies concerning the laws of the nation.

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Comes Sandy one morn to say that The Fearsome Strand, that is my novel of wreckers and sea-monsters, does extreme well, and the publishers are exceeding anxious for anything else I might give 'em.

I sigh and say, 'tis gratifying, but has he had a chance to look over the plays I gave him?

Indeed, says he, as Celeste comes with coffee and shortbreads, and has already been see Mr J- with 'em. Likes 'em exceedingly – in particular the comedy, for hints most alluring at certain late scandals, without it could be suppos’d to refer to specifick persons. Also, there is Miss T-, that undertook Miss R-'s parts while she was unable to be about the business, comes on very promising, and with three fine parts for actresses, there will be no brangling amongst 'em.

I am pleas’d to hear it, says I, but I doubt not that Mr J- has suggestions for telling business that might be includ’d.

Why, says Sandy, taking a shortbread, I have a few notes to the purpose. But I think he may be dissuad’d from including a volcanick eruption in The Antiquarian’s Daughter.

La, says I, I may suppose he has late took on some fellow that manufactures spectacles -

Sandy remarks that he fears 'tis so, for Mr J- put out some feelers as to whether the esteem’d dramatist thought of turning The Fearsome Strand into a play?

I shudder and say, why, had consider’d upon it, but should shrink from matters of vulgar spectacle.

Sandy laughs and says, sure you are in accord with Mr P- for once, for he deplores that practice, as too oft employ’d to distract from the poorness of the play itself. And I myself am in some doubts as to whether brings about anything of enduring value to the drama.

We look at one another very amicable.

But, says Sandy, dear sibyl, you look a little troubl’d.

O, says I, 'tis entire foolish qualmishness about this dinner-party I go give, Lord and Lady T- and their gloomy son, and Sir B- and Susannah, with their house-guests.

Sandy winces and says, including Mrs D- K-, I apprehend. Sure will not be the jollyest of gatherings, but I daresay you have some strategy upon hand?

Why, says I, I am not sure I entirely have a strategy upon hand, but there are matters I hope observe; and sigh. Sure, says I, I can think of more congenial gatherings.

Come, dear C-, consider your soirées, that have brought together in harmony a deal of assort’d society.

La, says I, I would not answer for what might happen did Mr P- ever discover that Deacon Brodie was of the company.

Sandy laughs quite immoderate and says, naming of seconds, for a dawn meeting for the exchange of critickal opinions, at ten paces.

I am brought to laughter myself. My dear, says I, I am delight’d to see you in such restor’d spirits.

Why should not my spirits be lighten’d at receiving such kindness as I do not deserve? Has he not quite the noblest of hearts?

I look at him very fondly and say, harmony entire restor’d, then?

Sandy looks thoughtfull and says, somehow seems that the painfull breach has come to bring about a better understanding.

Long may it endure, says I.

But, dearest C-, I must be about my business: you may laugh when I tell you, Lord A- is mind’d to employ a secretary that may advize him upon such politickal matters as he is call’d upon to deal with in the Lords –

What? I cry.

- 'tis the influence of Mr O- B-, that he finds himself on excellent terms with, has contriv’d to bring him about to think upon his responsibilities and the condition of the nation &C.

I laugh a little, 'tis such a very unexpect’d conjunction of the fribble and the cotton manufacturer: but indeed I am pleas’d to hear it.

- so I go about certain of my acquaintance that might suit.

Why, I would not hinder you in such a task. Kindly leave Mr J-'s notes with me and I will address myself to the matter, ‘twill distract my mind from fretting.

But, alas, when I have done that, and set certain suggestions aside so I may think 'em over further, I am return’d to the frets, so I determine go take a little ride on Jezebel.

When I come to the stableyard I find Nick, Nell, and Sal, that is her sister that tends the mews cottage, that huddle together and I daresay are in concern over the matter of the sale of the livery-stable. They jump apart and Nell and Sal scurry off about their proper business. Nick goes fetch out Jezebel, that Ajax has been saddling &C.

'Tis another matter for me to go fret over as I ride.

But comes at last the time when my guests arrive, and sure 'tis ever pleasing to see Sir B- W- and dear Susannah, and Captain C- looks as tho’ having made his decision to sell out takes a deal of weight from his mind, and Mrs D- K- is looking in good taste. And Lord T- is ever amiable, and Lady T- makes exceeding civil to me, even if Lord K- is the same sad dull fellow, his eyes ever straying towards Mrs D- K-.

Timothy comes with some excellent fine wine - has acquir’d a deal of polish in the matter, I confide he took some lessoning at R- House in such duties – that most fortunate I had already in my cellar, for have been so busy since my return have had no opportunity to convoke with Mr H- concerning his friends of the Trade.

We exchange a little civil conversation – Lady T- wishes to know is there any lace made about Naples, for 'twas once most exceeding not’d for that art. Alas, says I, has declin’d from those days, there is indeed lace hawkt about but 'tis somewhat coarse. However, I go on, the Contessa di S- has some very fine antique lace that has been in her family this long while.

Susannah says, she is ever in the greatest admiration for Lady T-'s skill with the bobbins and the fine lace she makes. Alas, she goes on with a flourish of her lorgnette, I fancy I am too near-sight’d to be able to undertake anything of the like, even did my fingers have the skill.

Lady T- smiles a little and I see this prepossesses her with dear Susannah, that she has been like to suppose a sad bluestocking that rules her husband.

In due course comes Hector to inform us that dinner is serv’d, and we go into the new part of my house and my fine dining-room, and I look about it very pleas’d, for the furniture is all well-polisht and the table laid with my good china and my very fine wine-glasses, and there are candelabra with fine candles burning, and two epergnes that hold pickles and relishes and are deckt with flowers that were especial sent over from R- House.

'Twas no difficult matter to think who should take who in to dinner: Sir B- W- takes Lady T-, Lord K- takes Susannah, Captain C- arms in Mrs D- K-, and I, of course, am took in by Lord T-.

And Hector and Timothy come around laying the dishes that have come fresh and hot by means of that very excellent device from the kitchen beneath, and go round with wine, and I observe Lady T- look most approving at my dinner service. Euphemia has done most exceeding well and all except Lord K-, that looks sorrowfull at Mrs D- K-, look upon the first course with great pleasure.

I hear Sir B- W- offer to carve Lady T- some of this excellent beef, or perchance she would prefer duck, and here are some little new peas, and I see that she becomes amiable towards him. Susannah goes endeavour make conversation with Lord K-, that picks at his food as if fears might be poison’d.

Lord T- says 'tis pleasing to see me return’d to Town in such health, and hopes that the matters of my property at Naples are entire settl’d? – indeed, says I – and hopes they may see me at C- Castle this summer. We discourse a little of mutual acquaintance, and he remarks that Mr C- answers most excellent as secretary.

There is a pleasing little buzz of conversation tho’ one must observe that Lord K- does not say much.

At the remove and the bringing of the second course – Euphemia has contriv’d to obtain a very fine fresh salmon upon which all exclaim, and there is also the excellent early sparrowgrass – Lord K- is at last at liberty to speak to Mrs D- K-, that he does in somewhat of an undertone, waving away the while the offer of the very fine rice pillow with almonds and raisins. (Sir B- W- looks at me, and says, all the more for the rest of us.)

Lady T- goes converse with Captain C-, and very soon they determine upon some family connexion by way of Mrs Robert G-, and she displays a markt increase in civility towards him, and shortly he is telling her about his adventures at the Cape with his regiment, and later in Nova Scotia, and I see her eyes go to Lord K-, that leads such a dull life going about quacking himself for imaginary ailments, and I daresay she makes odorous caparisons.

The ice-pudding is most well-receiv’d, except by Lord K-, that says somewhat about the unwholesomeness of such things. He also eschews the very good cheese, that has been sent by Martha from the dairy on the Admiral’s estate.

At the proper moment I rise to withdraw the ladies to my parlour, so that Hector may bring out the port and brandy and cigars for the gentlemen.

There is tea and ratafia ready for us, along with some little macaroons, and we talk of various matters – what a shame 'twas I misst the M- House ball, 'twas an excellent occasion, but doubtless I saw a deal of society at Naples – until the gentlemen come in, that is not a long while at all.

Lord T-, Sir B- W- and Captain C- are conversing very amiable about Nova Scotia, but Lord K- has somewhat of a sulky look and goes with somewhat uncivil expedition to Mrs D- K-'s side.

I do not think he would drag her from her bed to kick her, but sure I am in some concern about how he would show as a husband.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

Sure there are a deal of matters I feel I must be about, having neglect’d 'em for so long. 'Tis a puzzle which of 'em I should be about first, yet there are some things may not be contriv’d entire immediate.

Altho’ Dorcas reports that matters go on well with Dolly Mutton’s establishment, and my darlings have ensur’d that there is no worry about funds I greatly desire go see Dolly and find out how she does and that all is well.

So I desire Docket to array me in such fashion as I may be taken for an Evangelickal lady that goes about Covent Garden in hope of saving souls, and have Ajax drop me from the carriage several streets distant, and walk to Dolly Mutton’s.

The coffee-house is doing fine business, with some several women about the place taking coffee and in some cases breakfast, and all look down at their plates or into their cups in order not to meet my eye for fear I will go about to start saving 'em. But Pussy comes out from behind the counter and comes make exceeding civil to be pickt up and made much of, and I observe they all relax a little at this sign of favour, for Pussy is a cat of very great discrimination that will not make pleasant to just any that comes into the place. So I stroke her in the fashion she likes and she purrs, and I ask has she been a naughty wanton puss lately, and tell her how her offspring do (sure Dandy and Pounce have only just ceas’d to give me the cut for abandoning 'em to the cruelty of the household for so long; 'tis a slander entire bely’d by how plump and sleek they are).

And as I go make amiable to Pussy, comes out Dolly Mutton with plates of ham and eggs for her customers. She gives me a broad smile and says that she is entire glad to see I am return’d from foreign parts - I daresay the patrons of the coffee-house take this as an allusion to missionary endeavours amongst the heathen - and I am welcome to go step into her parlour.

So I do so and a few moments late she comes in and says 'tis exceeding pleasant to see me in such fine health, for there was a deal of gossip and rumours that I had gone to Naples to dye. La, says I, I suppose I might have done had Vesuvius took a notion to erupt, but indeed 'twas entire sanitive.

She pours me out some coffee and says, she was like to think from what Matt told her that I was not in ill-health, but somewhat shaken in the spirits by some coarse fellow that try’d dig up scandal.

Indeed, says I, 'twas a very nasty business, but I am recover’d now and am able to bring you some funds and am in hopes of more, and I hope all goes well here?

Excellent fine, she says, they are quite full up except for the two little chambers she keeps for emergencies. And tho’ 'tis early yet, she goes consider over taking 'em to some seaside place in the summer, for they are a sufficient number that one would need be beforehand over reserving lodgings, even do they not go to any fashionable resort. And she hopes persuade Molly Binns to come with 'em, for 'tis not as tho’ there will be a great deal of business in hats at that time o’year.

She does well in the matter of hats, then?

Very well indeed, and there was one provid’d her with the means to rent a little shop, answers exceedingly – sure 'twas a good day for her when that dreadfull fellow Perkins gave her the go-by, even did she not think so when he did. And comes join Mrs Dorcas’s congregation and will sing hymns very lustyly.

Why, says I, I am very glad to hear it. And you are well?

She declares that praise God, she still has her health, and then asks how Josh does.

We part in excellent good feeling and satisfaction at the way the endeavour goes.

'Tis perchance a little less agreeable to go hold a drawing-room meeting for the fine work Abby and her husband and Ellie N- are about among the unfortunate convicts in New South Wales, for I daresay that a deal of ladies will come in order to scrutinize Lady B- very close to see whether rumour tells true. But does this work to the benefit of the undertaking, I will concede to be scrutiniz’d.

A deal of good things have been sent to be raffl’d, and I myself have give some pretty lava trinkets from Naples. Meg will play upon the piano, Mrs O- B- with Cissie and Dodo will sing - Charley, that is now Lady A-, I hear already goes about to provide the O- B-s with a grandchild so at present only performs a little at home at B- House. I shall read some suitable extracts from Abby’s latest letters, and Mrs Atkins at O- House has sent me copies of some very telling matter writ from her husband by Ellie N-'s hand, and I am in anticipation that I shall make a tidy sum for the convicts.

There is also an excellent fine spread of sandwiches, savoury patties, cakes and tarts prepar’d by Euphemia, or more like by Celeste under Euphemia’s orders.

I go fidget about the reception room, rearranging the articles for raffle, &C, until Hector shows in my dearest wild girl Eliza with Bess and Meg, follow’d by Mrs O- B- with Cissie and Dodo. She looks at me and says, she hears 'twas in fact some little matter of business to do with my properties at Naples?

La, says I, sometimes naught will avail but to go out there and see what’s ado and deal with it in person: sure I was a little troubl’d at the matter, for 'tis a terrible place for bribery and corruption, but there is a very good notaio - that is, a man of law – understands the intricacies of the legalities of the business, that serv’d the late Marquess.

Cissie says, are there not banditti? they lately read a most thrilling novel –

I laugh gently and say, sure I think some of the lawyers in the place are worse than banditti, but we rout’d 'em. I add that 'twas a great advantage to have the counsel of the Contessa, and of course she is of great renown in those parts, weigh’d the scales in our favour.

Mrs O- B- nods and says, must make a difference, and goes on to tell me about some matter of business Mr O- B- was oblig’d to undertake abroad.

I am quite astonisht to see that Lady J- has come with Viola, attend’d by Lady D-, that indeed merits the description of pretty little dumpling, and I most immediate go desire her to be seat’d. She smiles and says, she hears I left her dear spouse entirely in health?

Quite entirely, says I.

She smiles and looks down at her belly, that shows the results of their conjugal endeavours.

And I daresay, says I to Viola, that you too should sit down? She smiles and says, apart from a little queasyness of the morn, is as well as ever was at present.

I then turn to Lady D-, and say I am delight’d to see her in such good health, and how is little Arthur? – o, she says, a bouncing fellow that can almost stand now – and Lord D-? - Excellent well, she says – and Lady Rosamund? – very well, she says, but I think she does not find her sister-in-law congenial. I also ask have they lately heard from her sister, and am oblig’d to listen to a deal about their travels.

A little flurry of company arrives, including Mrs D- that is the mother of Danvers D-, Lady G- with her goddaughter the Honble Frances C-, Mrs L- J-, Mrs P- and Miss W-, Mrs V-, Lady Z-, Susannah, and a deal of other ladies. All are making their greetings to one another and finding seats as comes in the party from O- House, Nan, Em and little Lou, along with a lady I do not know.

I go over and desire Nan to be seat’d at once – she smiles and says, sure she finds she needs a deal of rest - and Em goes introduce me to Hester’s Cousin Lalage, that is not the drab spinster I had anticipat’d. I doubt that she can yet have quite attain’d the age of thirty, altho’ dresses like one that has put on her cap and retir’d from thoughts of courtship. But I am prepossesst by her dress, that is by no means so provincial as I would have suppos’d, tho’ 'tis in subdu’d colours and might be took for half-mourning. Also has very fine eyes. She declares that this is an entire treat, what a fine house, and she hears we are to hear some excellent musick.

Lou has rusht over to go sit with Bess and Dodo, but I go settle the other ladies of the party, ask Nan should she desire a footstool, &C.

I am just looking about the room and determining that all must be arriv’d by now and 'tis nigh upon time to commence the proceedings, when the door opens and Lady I- is shown in.

Sure, I sent her a card in order to show civil, as I heard that they were in Town, but did not at all expect that she would come. I go over to greet her, and she says, has brought a bundle of baby-clothes for the raffle, 'tis shamefull little but ‘twas all she had at hand.

I go show her to a chair, and hand the bundle to Bess, desiring her to make out a ticket for it, and go stand at the front of the room to say why we are here and what an excellent good cause we provide for. I say somewhat of the entertainment, and the fine things that have been give for the raffle, and then look over to Meg, that goes seat herself at the pianoforte, with Dodo to turn her musick for her.

And sure, I think it goes.

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'Twas somewhat of a vain hope to suppose that a little more calm would reign in the household after the theatre excursion had took place. For Polly and Nell have fallen quite in love with Mr J- and will ever be chattering about him, plotting upon further excursions to the theatre &C. But aside from that, no sooner is this much anticipat’d treat over, than the nuptials of Tibby and Titus are upon us. Sure indeed I am not mistress in my own household, for 'twill be entire impossible to undertake anything in the way of a drawing-room meeting until the matter is over.

Dear Viola comes call one morn, and I go show off my fine library to her, at which she declares herself exceeding impresst. Why, she cries, do I not observe the plays of Wycherley, that I had some desire to look into a while ago? and goes take the volume from the shelf.

O, she says, 'tis from the M- library –

I say, very demure, that she will mind that the Old Duke waxt exceeding generous over my not making a fuss when he dispatcht his heir to serve his country in the Diplomatick at Constantinople, and was kind enough to present me with that volume. (I do not go recount how I would read certain scenes to him in bed.)

But, she says, putting the volume by with a longing glance, I did not come here to discourse of the drama of earlyer times – perchance upon some other occasion – 'tis this matter of Tibby’s marriage. Should wish to demonstrate the great esteem in which we hold her, but should not like to cause awkwardness among the gather’d company that come celebrate the couple, and create a constraint.

I go think upon this and say, 'twould look exceeding well did you attend the ceremony, and might hinder the officiating parson from rattling off the service entire by rote as they are wont to do. And then, did you come to the breakfast just long enough to drink a health to the couple, 'twould be a mark of civility.

She smiles and says, she confid’d that dear C- would know what would be in good ton. And perchance send some wine from the M- House cellars?

Entire well, says I. And you find Jennie answers?

O, excellent well! Of course, I shall always be quite especial fond of Tibby and is there any service we may do her or Titus will be extreme happy to do it.

I say 'tis entire understandable, and ask how the rest of her family do.

Why, she says, Biffle is exceeding well, and goes about very busy at this time of year. Essie is learning his letters and numbers alongside Julius at R- House, what an excellent thing it is, what a fine governess is Mrs L-. Cathy is a fine bouncing girl, has made her curtesy in the R- House nursery set. Lady J- minds that she should rest and the auguries are promising, and – she casts down her eyes with a little smile – I am myself in some hopes that –

My dear Viola, says I, that is delightfull to hear. And how does Martha?

Why, a deal better than we fear’d, keeps in good health and of course Jacob is very carefull to ensure she does not overdo. And Sebastian will shortly be going to the Baltic.

Why, says I, I am pleas’d to hear that you all thrive. I saw a little of the Admiral in Naples, and he was in fine spirits.

The dear good fellow, says Viola. O, and while we are in convockation, what is this new freak of Lady Emily’s to go keep house for her brothers? Sure shows a pretty familial spirit, but 'tis somewhat of a new departure.

La, says I, do they not all go become a deal steadyer lately? She sees her elder sister take up her duties as Lady O-, and Lady Louisa attending to her lessons –

Hmm, says Viola, I fear she goes seek distraction from having her feelings wound’d by that minx Lady Rosamund. I daresay, she goes on, there are those consider that an Earl’s daughter must be in exceeding good ton by nature, but I confide that in any of lesser rank her conduct would be deem’d vulgarity. When I think that I was bother’d as to whether Rebecca G- or Julia P- would be up to the mark! – excellent well-conduct’d creatures.

Tho’, she goes on, perchance with Lady Emily 'tis a stratagem so that she may defer the prospect of marriage under guise of family duty. For indeed I do not see her incline to any suitor at present and sure, a young lady should not be oblig’d to marry just so that she may say she was askt and so that people will not go about saying she hangs upon the family’s hands.

For, she goes on, I have been most exceeding fortunate in my matrimonial venture, and when I think what a very foolish young creature I was when first introduc’d into Society, and what irreparable errours I might have made – is’t not quite widely deplor’d that the present Marquess of B-'s wife may not obtain release from a lunatick that endeavour’d commit bigamy and try’d murder her? – sure I thank heaven fasting.

I smile at her. Why, says I, I think the good fortune goes both ways.

She blushes. But, she says, dear C-, I am sure you have a deal of matters upon hand – and have you had opportunity to write any tales? Martha was asking only lately whether there was anything new from your pen.

Indeed, says I, have been about fair-copying for the printer, and meditate upon a new novel. Perchance I may beg opportunity to come look in the M- House Library, for was not one of the former Dukes very not’d for his studies in history?

She declares that I should be entire welcome, and we part with great affection and good feeling.

But indeed, I cannot go about this matter until the wedding be done, for I am not in that calm that favours study tho’ I find myself able to go about fair-copying.

But comes around the day, when Sophy brings my chocolate along with exhortations not to rise just yet, for Celeste will bring me a nice little breakfast upon a tray so I may take it peacefull in bed. I confide that this is entirely to keep me from underfoot, and so that Docket and Sophy may go array Tibby along with Prue and Celeste, that will attend her to the altar, afore they come dress me.

And when I come to be dresst, that is in a fashion that will display my consequence and be a compliment to the couple, without I distract attention from the bride, Docket says, she confides that I should wear my fine cashmere shawl, for strikes cold in churches when 'tis not a full congregation.

'Tis so, says I, as I rub my face against it and think of dear General Y- that gave it me.

But in due course I set off for the church, and smile a little as I wonder has any gone convey advice upon the wedding night to Tibby or Titus, that I confide are no novices in the business of conjugal embraces. Euphemia I daresay is well-appriz’d of how matters stand but I am not so certain about Hector.

Come we to the church, and outside is one of the M- House carriages, that Viola has plac’d at Tibby’s disposal for the occasion.

And I go into the church, and go sit beside Viola, and look about me. Jennie sits with Docket and Sophy and Euphemia has conced’d leave the kitchen under Seraphine’s hand so she may come see Tibby wed, and there are some of Tibby’s family, tho’ will be more at the breakfast. Titus stands flankt by Hector, that is his best man, looking far more nervous than I have ever observ’d him about performing.

There is a little pause, and then comes Tibby, that might be the Queen of Sheba in her progress.

And observing that there are persons of quality in the assembl’d congregation, the parson goes perform the service in a fine reverent fashion, 'tis very pleasing.

Tho’ I am brought to muse upon the fine mutual aid and comfort that may be found between those that have not been to church and had the words said over 'em, and, indeed, may not go to church and take those vows however much they might desire to. And that there are those that have made those vows for better or for worse &C and do not adhere to 'em, or only very grudging (I consider upon poor Hester’s fate marry’d to Lord N-). And that altho’ the husband declares with all my worldly goods I thee endow, unless a lady has very prudent advizers and lawyers, he may go make free with her worldly goods and leave her entire destitute (like that scoundrel Mr O’C-).

But sure I have no doubts about the sincerity with which Titus and Tibby take the vows: and, I think no harm and a deal of benefit that they have already try’d their affection and do not rush into marriage pell-mell in order to gratify passing lust. Indeed, was I to celebrate marriages in the name of Aphrodite, I would make this a condition.

I smile a little to myself at what a foolish C- am I. For 'twould preclude such a marriage as I had with the late dear Marquess: tho’, thinks I, under the rites of Aphrodite there would be no need for such prudential unions, for all might wed where they lov’d.

I may put a deal of horrid matter in my tales but I confide did I indite any concerning such a happy state 'twould be deem’d entire shocking and immoral and very like burnt by the common hangman. I sigh.

Viola takes and squeezes my hand: I daresay she supposes that I fall into melancholy thoughts of my late husband.

After the ceremony is conclud’d and Titus and Tibby are now one flesh, we proceed back to my house where a merry crowd has already assembl’d to greet the couple.

Viola makes a very pretty speech and drinks to the happy couple, and then departs, not, I am like to think, without a little regret.

There is great conviviality, some fine singing from Mr G- D- and Miss McK-, excellent fine food and wine, and at length Tibby and Titus leave for a brief wedding jaunt to Brighton.

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One morn I go to the stables to give my lovely Jezzie-girl an apple or two, and pat her upon the nose and say, alas, there will be no riding today for I have some several calls to make among the philanthropick set, and then go take tea at N- House. Sure I know not what that will be like in what they call their bachelor establishment.

And as Jezzie and I make amiable to one another, I see from the corner of my eye Ajax, with such an aspect that I confide he desires a word with me, so I pat my lovely mare upon the neck and turn to say, how now, Ajax, was there some matter you wisht open to me?

He indicates that 'tis indeed so, looks about to ensure that Nick is not by – I daresay he goes in take his elevens – and beckons me into an empty stall.

He says that I will mind that Sam Jupp came t’other morn to hold converse with him – I nod – and what is afoot is that the owner of the livery stables takes a mind to sell up and go live as a gentleman in the country.

O, says I, and thus the Jupps will find their occupation gone, and indeed also their home?

Ajax shrugs and says, 'tis like he will try sell it as a going concern - for 'tis an exceeding prime location for a livery-stable – but even that may bring down trouble – would a new owner want to keep on the fellows that are already there, might he have other plans for the accommodation – they are all in a great fret about the matter, just as they were getting back upon their feet, with Mr Jupp recover’d, several of the children now out in good service –

Let me consider upon the matter, says I. I suppose, even had they had some money put by, 'twould not have been enough to buy the place themselves.

I walk away, thinking. Sure I daresay I might go find places as grooms for Mr Jupp and Sam among those with whom I have interest, but 'twould still likely mean breaking up the family.

'Tis a conundrum.

And sure I find other conundrums when I go make my calls among the philanthropick set where a deal of matters gang aft aglay and I am oblig’d to make many notes in my little memorandum book. But, 'tis very agreeable when people will go say that there is none can hold a drawing-room meeting to match Lady B-'s: sure I am a vain creature. Matters go less awry than I fear’d with the optickal dispensaries, for I confide they have been got into good practices: but, even so, there are a few brangles that I must go soothe.

But at length I am done with 'em for the time being, and may instruct Ajax to go convey me to N- House.

The footman at the door is brisk enough in answering and showing me in but as I look about the hall as I enter I observe those signs of a household that has no lady keep her hand upon it. I frown a little at this, for I confide that the housekeeper is still the same, and before, tho’ ‘twas a gloomy place, did not show such signs of neglect.

I am shown into a drawing-room in which sits Lady Emily along with her brothers, that all rise to make me a leg upon my entrance.

La, says I, let us not stand upon ceremony.

Em minds that she should ring for tea and does so. This comes fairly expeditious in a good, tho’ not ostentatious, tea-service, and is a good fresh hot brew.

Mr Geoffrey M- takes a sip and looks up from his cup and says, 'tis not the tea we are accustom’d to be serv’d.

Em says, she doubts not 'tis the best company tea in honour of Lady B-.

Lord U- sighs and says that sure they do not need to make such a difference, but he dares say that the household has got into that miserly habit. But they should not be discoursing of domestick troubles before Lady B-.

Sure, says I, why should you not? For I am in considerable supposition that well-run domestick matters are the basis of a comfortable household, and even do you go furbish up the place so that 'tis brighter and less gloomy, 'twill still be somewhat uneasy do you not have those under hand.

They all sigh, and Lord U- says that they would not oblige Mama to return to this house, that she takes in considerable dislike, even was she not so well-suit’d at O- House.

I see Em frown a little. Mayhap – she begins – o, very like 'tis an entire foolish notion – but sure I have seen how Nan has been oblig’d take up the domestick affairs at O- House and D- Chase, and lamenting that she did not give enough mind to studying upon the matter afore she was wed, and saying that she does not how she might contrive was it not for that pearl amongst housekeepers, Mrs Atkins. And, she goes on with a great sigh, I daresay that one of these days I shall have an establishment of my own to manage, tho’ sure I hope 'tis later rather than sooner. So, might I not move back here, and undertake the matter?

Mr Edward M- bursts into a laugh and says, you would go practise upon your brothers, is that it? For cannot matter does any ill come to 'em from domestick mismanagement -

Lord U- gestures to him and he is silent. Why, Em, he says, 'tis a most generous offer, for I fear 'twould be a tedious thankless business. But indeed I think we might be more comfortable here.

She looks at me and say, O, Lady B-, do you think it might answer?

(Had I not had precisely this thought in my own mind?)

Why, says I, 'tis a likely plan. Perchance you might go lesson yourself a little with some lady that is us’d to the management of an establishment of this size.

I see them all considering over this proposal and then Mr Edward frowns and says, but should Em not have some chaperone?

Em groans loudly and says, what, have some fusty about the place? 'twould be an entire bore.

No, says Lord U-, Eddy has the right of it, you are a young unmarry’d lady, and moreover, we are oblig’d to conduct ourselves most particular proper -

Indeed, says Mr Geoffrey, when I think of the jests we are oblig’d to smile at concerning snakes.

They all sigh.

And then Mr Edward says, but what about Mama’s Cousin Lalage?

They look about one another.

Why, says Em, one could have no objection to Cousin Lalage, tho’ indeed, have not seen her for a very great while. But – o, sure I let family gossip pass over my head – was she not affianc’d to some clergyman?

Really, Em, says Mr Geoffrey, do you not recall the tragick story? The fellow went visit some college friend of his that had gone into the mission field, for he had some notion to that line himself, contract’d a fever out there in the South Seas, and dy’d.

O, cries Em, now I mind me of the tale. And she has had no other offers?

Living as quiet as she does in her papa’s vicarage? says Lord U-. Besides, 'tis give out that her heart is in the grave.

Em turns to me and says, Oh, Lady B-, do you think that might answer? She must be thirty at least, a vicar’s daughter, I daresay she has some knowledge of housekeeping –

Hmm, says I, might your dear mama invite her for a visit to O- House, so that you could look her over then and see if 'twould answer? But, says I, that is in longer prospect – why do you not take me around the house a little so that I might advize upon how it might be furbisht up somewhat more chearfull?

So we do so, and sure I feel does the Earl not go cast a general pall of gloom over the place, may be brought to some very pleasing effects. Will require, I point out, some disbursement of funds; and Lord U- says that he has been in consultation with their men of business, and he confides that they will not come to penury do they so.

I make a deal of little notes in my memorandum book and say, I will write these up fair for 'em.

They say they go dine at O- House, entire informal, just family, will I not join 'em?

Alas, says I, am not free to take up this exceeding kind invitation: perchance upon some other occasion.

Mr Geoffrey remarks that he dares say that now Lady B- is return’d to Town she has a deal of invitations.

'Tis so, says I.

Tho’ 'tis not that I am bidden about in Society: ‘tis that my darlings come visit me for a nice little supper together and triangular matters.

So I return home, and go change my gown, and then go sit in my library a little while inditing my thoughts upon how N- House might be quite vastly improv’d, and when I have done that, spend a little time about arranging my books, and mind that there are some volumes that I must return to Lord O-, and also that I must find out somewhat concerning the history of Sicily in the Middle Ages, without I go enquire of Mr N-.

'Tis most exceeding agreeable, but even more agreeable is to return to my pretty parlour as the time draws near, and take a quick look at the miniatures of my sweet Flora, and 'tis not long at all afore Hector shows in my best belov’ds and we go embrace one another very close.

And they remark that sure, they have not yet seen over all these fine improvements I have made; so I take them into the newer part of the house and show off my dining-room and my fine library, and sure there are a deal of kisses exchang’d and my dear wild girl shows some disposition to becoming saucy.

So I say that I confide we should go meditate a little upon triangles and I daresay 'twill give us a fine appetite for supper. And 'tis conced’d a most excellent plan and we go be about it.

O, 'tis a most happy thing to be thus remet with my darlings.

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When Sophy brings my chocolate the morn, I say to her that I am dispos’d to go take a little ride in the Park afore breakfast, so please to desire Docket to have my riding-habit ready, and go tell Hector to request Ajax to prepare Jezebel.

For I am in great longing to give my sweet Jezzie-girl a little exercize without we are constantly held up by those that desire speak to me, observe whether I am truly in health &C, and 'tis entire not possible at the fashionable hour.

When I am dresst I go out to the stableyard, where I find that Sam Jupp has come convoke with Ajax, I daresay concerning some trouble with one of the nags at the livery stables, while young Nick goes saddle and bridle Jezebel, that is groom’d so exceeding fine that her coat gleams like unto satin. I give her an apple and tell her that she is entire the best of Jezzie-girls.

Sure Sam is growing a fine strong fellow. Seeing me about to mount he comes over most extreme expeditious to hold Jezzie’s head, tho’ I am sure she is too well-manner’d and too us’d to me to go shy.

Thank you, Sam, says I, and smile upon him, at which he blushes somewhat. (One day, I confide, my smile will no longer have that effect upon young fellows.)

There is somewhat of a mist the morn, that is not entire disagreeable, for gives a pleasing softness to the view, while, I daresay, keeping a crowd from the Park. My lovely Jezzie-girl needs no urging to a fine canter and 'tis exceeding delightfull. At length I bring her back to a trot to cool her a little on our way back.

I am turning a few matters over in my mind when I observe another rider, and then see that 'tis Milord, so wave at him with my crop, and he comes over. He remarks, with a little amuz’d twitch of his lips, that it is pleasing to see Lady B- so much in health –

Poo, says I, as if you did not know 'twas an entire tale put about for the generality.

- for he has had little enough occasion to see her at all since her return to Town.

Indeed 'tis so, says I, for I have been about displaying myself in order to confound gossip. But, dear Milord, do you come breakfast with me, 'twould be most entire agreeable.

He declares that nothing could give him greater pleasure, at which I say, alas that one does not carry a fan for the correction of flatterers when upon horseback. He laughs and says, sure he has greatly misst me during my absence.

So we return to my house, and go into my pretty parlour, and Celeste comes bring coffee and muffins and lays the table and says, there will be more very shortly.

So we sit down and fall to, for indeed a fine morning ride gives one an exceeding appetite, and in a very little while comes Celeste again with Nell as an auxiliary carrying further dishes. Indeed 'tis a fine spread that includes kedgeree, devill’d kidneys, some mutton-chops in the style of General Y-'s cook, and more muffins hot from the oven.

At length we are sat’d and sit back with our coffee cups in hand.

Dear C-, says Milord, you must know how exceeding gratefull I am to you –

All is well 'twixt the pair of you? I ask.

O, quite entirely! 'Tis a most happy reunion - but indeed I feel I owe you most particular gratitude –

O, poo, says I, if this concerns a little matter of not taking advantage of a fellow that was in state of distress -

- 'tis a most curious thing, he says with a little frown, putting down his cup with a clink into the saucer, that I should have resent’d that far more than his frolicks at the villa.

I pour him some more coffee. 'Tis indeed curious, says I, for you know his disposition as well as I, and 'twould have been an entire aberration, not the commencement of some new course –

Dear C-, I confide that the east wing of R- House sees strange matters that I daresay none would have predict’d –

'Tis as maybe, says I, but –

- and has ever been a great sympathy 'twixt the two of you.

I look down into my coffee-up and frown in a way that Docket would go chide me for. 'Tis perchance, I say at length, that we both know what 'tis to set out upon the world with naught but those gifts we were born with, with no advantages of birth or wealth or interest: in my case I had a certain style of looks and a natural talent for the arts of Aphrodite, and in his case he had that power of intellect that all remark upon; but were oblig’d to make our own way -

Milord looks upon me with great affection and says, but you also had a deal of native wit -

La, says I, tell no-one, for 'tis a great advantage to be consider’d a silly creature –

- and, he goes on with a grin, I do not think has hinder’d the career of our dear bello scozzese that he is not some huncht and stoopt wizen’d scholar, tho’ perchance we should not mention the matter to him.

I laugh somewhat immoderate and say, I confide 'tis so.

We look at one another very fond.

He goes on to change the subject and remark that, altho’ the terrifying virago minds that she should take matters more easyly than was wont in her present condition, has took to summoning her confederates in various causes to convoke with her at M- House.

Indeed, says I, I hear that she goes makes Lady D- her deputy in certain philanthropick matters –

- and I am consider’d her voice in matters of anti-slavery.

Why, says I, I am glad that she finds herself able delegate some of her business to others.

We exchange a little further gossip about mutual acquaintance and then he takes his leave.

I go to my desk to be about my correspondence.

In the afternoon I mind me that 'tis an entire age since I have visit’d Sir Z- R-'s studio and paid my compliments to the wombatt, so I desire Docket to array me in somewhat suitable for the occasion, and set off in my carriage.

There is as ever a deal of company about the studio, but Sir Z- R- comes most immediate to bow over my hand, say that sure 'tis not spring-time without Lady B- comes like Flora to Town, and that not only do I look quite entire well, sure as ever time has stood still with me. I smack him lightly with my fan and say he was ever a dreadfull flatterer.

No, indeed, he declares, sure the wombatt has grown mightyly since antipodean Flora, but you are fresh as ever.

La, says I, and how does the wombatt? – I look out into the garden where it goes saunter about the shrubbery, taking an occasional mouthfull, delivering the cut to those that endeavour strike up acquaintance – In fine plump condition I see.

Indeed, goes thrive, says Sir Z-. Has lately gratify’d its amorous inclinations tho’ I know not yet whether there will be progeny from its exertions.

I will, says I, just go pay it my respects tho’ I daresay 'twill look upon me as vulgar encroaching.

In the garden I find Lady Emily, along with her brother the Honble Edward, vainly endeavouring attract its attention. They greet me very effusive.

'Tis a deal larger, says Mr M-, than the one at R- House.

Why, says I, 'tis the proud papa of Josh F-'s darling. But I did not anticipate to see you here, do you go be portray’d for posterity?

They shake their heads. Mr M- says I may have heard that he and his brothers go reside at N- House, and they have took a thought that perchance a few paintings might brighten the place up –

Sure 'tis a dreadfull gloomy place, says Em, that we did not fully realize until we had been elsewhere.

- and one hears that Sir Z- R- has paint’d some very fine landscape studies.

Sure, says I, might liven the walls a little –

But, o, cries Em, are you not, Lady B-, give out as having quite the nicest taste in such matters? Does not Tony ever praise your fine efforts at O- House?

Mr M- sighs and says, sure they already owe Lady B- a deal of gratitude for her kindness to the family, 'twould be entire too much to ask her to advize 'em how to render N- House less like the setting for some Gothick novel.

La, says I, 'tis not that bad; but sure I confide that afore one introduces any fine pictures to the place, should be somewhat done in the matter of painting and furbishing, so that they might have a fitting setting.

There! says Em. Did I not say we should seek her thoughts in the matter?

Mr M- looks somewhat embarrasst. Indeed, he says after a pause, U- has remarkt that he doubts not your advice in the matter would be most exceeding usefull, but we would not go beg yet further favours of you.

O, poo, says I, 'tis a matter I find most enjoyable. But let us go look at some of these landscapes.

When we do so, I take the opportunity to remark that one must take into consideration where they will hang, how they will show to best advantage, &C. They sigh and say they can see 'tis not so simple a matter as they suppos’d.

Em remarks, but anything that would make N- House look less of a bachelor establishment would be an improvement.

My dears, says I, 'tis ever better in these matters to go away and think on 'em, and there will be one or other or so painting that sticks in your mind, should not make hasty decisions. And why do you not come have tea with me and tell me all your news?

They look at one another and exchange what I suppose are silent communications and say, 'tis most extreme hospitable of me and they would be delight’d.

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Sure there are a deal of matters I should be about to re-establish myself in Society.

I had intend’d that my first dinner-party in my fine new dining-room would be for very particular close friends, my darlings, Biffle and Viola, Sir B- W- and Susannah, Milord; but I am a true daughter of Eve and rul’d by curiosity and I greatly wish observe Lord K- in company with Mrs D- K- and his own parents. So I purpose invite Lord and Lady T- and Lord K-, along with Sir B- W- and dearest Susannah, Mrs D- K-, and, as he happens be in Town, Captain C-. I have also long wisht bring about some better appreciation 'twixt Lady T- and Susannah of one another’s fine qualities.

So I send Timothy with cards of invitation, and then go have a little discourse with Euphemia about what might be serv’d.

I find the household at elevens, and a deal of excit’d chatter over their purpos’d theatre-party - all show a disposition to jump up and bob, but I wave 'em to sit down and say, I will come later to convoke with Euphemia concerning a dinner-party. Euphemia, I observe, looks extreme gratify’d at this prospect.

Returning to my parlour, I find that the devot’d ladies have come call. I desire 'em to be sent into the parlour and coffee, cake, &C brought.

My dears! says I, this is a pleasure, and go kiss 'em both.

There, says Miss L-, is she not entirely in the pink of health?

Why, says Miss McK-, indeed she is, but I was not surpriz’d she found herself a little pull’d down after the frenzy’d whirl of last Season.

But, she goes on, we came, first to assure ourselves that you were indeed in health, and that report had not been deceiv’d by Docket’s cunning in the matter of rouge, and second, to see whether you purpose anything in the way of soirées, drawing-room meetings and so forth; for altho’ we find ourselves in happy condition of a deal of employment, we would ever consider that any claims of yours came first. O, and thirdly, to say we suppose that you are already appriz’d that Titus goes wed his young lady?

Comes Celeste with coffee and some of Euphemia’s very excellent fruitcake – I see Miss L-'s eyes light up at the sight.

Indeed, says I, I was give to understand that Titus and Tibby desir’d go marry, now that there is one into whose hands she may confide the Duchess. And sure I go consider upon a soirée, and drawing-room meetings, and indeed I have askt Mrs O’C- to come call upon me about taking banque.

Did I not say, says Miss L-, that she would not let the grass grow beneath her feet?

They look at me very affectionate. I ask how matters do with 'em and their musickal set.

Why, says Miss McK-, most excellent well. Lady J- continues hold her select musickal parties - is’t not give out that 'tis entire beneficial to infants in the womb to hear sweet musick? – and Lord and Lady A- have give several musick parties at B- House – and we have a deal of connexions for recitals and the giving of lessons. And 'tis the same for Mr G- D-, and sure he has a less harry’d look now his wife does not go constantly increase.

And as for Titus, says Miss L-, we do not think it at all imprudent that he now goes wed: does very well with his singing, and the songs he writes, and gets on with his cantata, and begins have somewhat of a connexion for giving lessons.

While Signor V-, she goes on, sighs somewhat that the Contessa has left Town, is otherwise in fine spirits.

'Tis all excellent good news to hear, says I. And you still enjoy a little corner of Welsh seclusion in the City?

They exchange affectionate glances and say, 'tis so, still. And while we mind upon such matters, adds Miss McK-, do you not think that Lady Emily M- is of like nature?

I purse up my mouth and say, mayhap, or perchance 'tis that that fashion that comes to those 'twixt girlhood and womanhood to take a great enthusiasm for some other lady, is prolong’d somewhat beyond the usual years.

Mayhap, says Miss L-, somewhat sceptickal. But – she glances over at Miss McK- - sure 'tis coming about time we were at our rehearsing.

I laugh gently and say sure I would not keep 'em from that.

After they have gone I am mind’d to go convoke with Euphemia, but Hector comes to say that Mrs O’C- has call’d, will I see her? Indeed, says I, send her in, and go desire fresh coffee &C.

Mrs O’C- is looking in excellent health. I ask after Mr P- - she sighs and says goes complaining about Mr J-'s ill judgement over his plays, for he did not take 'em and did not even say, did you but do this or that little thing to 'em, but dismisst 'em quite out of hand, but otherwise quite in health – and her son, that she says comes along very well at his lessons –

Celeste comes with fresh coffee and cake.

- and how her business goes.

La, says she, who would ever have suppos’d how many fellows there were desir’d special pleasures? Sure I am in such a position that I may go pick and choose my patrons, 'tis exceeding agreeable. But, my dear Lady B-, if 'tis about taking banque at a soirée, I am ever at your disposal.

That was indeed part of why I wisht see you, for now I am return’d to Town I should be about the matter of a soirée; but I also wisht discover whether Lord K- still comes visit you, and how you find him, for I have heard somewhat troubling intelligence about him.

Why, says Mrs O’C-, indeed I think there is somewhat amiss with him. Still comes most regular tho’ not perhaps so often as was wont – no more than once of a fortnight – but seems, I know not what – somewhat distract’d? As if had some heavy matter upon his mind. Is’t true, do you think, that at last he goes consider a second marriage?

I am like to think so, says I.

She sighs a little and says, a good regular patron is a very desirable thing to have – but, she says, with a more chearfull air, are there not a deal of marry’d men come to my door? Perchance he merely goes be dutyfull and heeds his mama’s exhortations about heirs.

May be so, says I.

We exchange a little more gossip – no-one has heard anything of Mr Miles O’N- since he decampt back to Ireland – and then she says, she has matters to be about, and do I purpose a soirée, to let her know most immediate when 'twill be.

We part on terms of great amiability.

I then go once more to the kitchen to convoke with Euphemia, that sits – I am glad to see her sitting - at the table preparing somewhat, and we go discourse of what we might serve at a dinner-party. I concede that 'twould be quite in order to serve an ic’d pudding, that she is in great desire to do, and to the very early sparrowgrass, and that I quite entire trust her judgement in the matter. She says that there is some excellent fine beef that Sir C- F- sent up from Herefordshire.

I leave her considering over the matter, and go into the newer part of the house to look at the dining-room. I find that Nell and Polly are there, dusting and polishing under the supervision of Prue, that is become a deal more sober and responsible: I confide 'tis the excellent influence of Dorcas. They all make me little bobs and I tell 'em to get along with their work, I just came in to consider over company china. For I think it might be undue ostentatious to use my very finest service, and sure all my china is exceeding good.

Shall also need, says I, to have the silverware clean’d -

Why, says Prue, Hector will not let it go tarnish in the press: takes it out to polish up most regular.

Excellent, says I, but I daresay that do we anticipate company we should give it a final rub over.

And wash the china? asks Prue.

Exactly so, says I, for even does it stand in these excellent cabinets I doubt not some dust creeps in.

Prue tells the girls a little sharp not to stand gaping but get on with their work. She sighs and lowers her voice and says, this promist theatre excursion makes them very excitable.

I nod, and say, pointing, 'twill be that service but need not be took out to wash just yet.

I return to my parlour and look with a little sigh at the pile of letters, and mind that there are still some few that arriv’d whilst I was away that I have not yet perus’d, for did not appear from any that I most particular desir’d news of.

So I take one, and crack the seal, and see that 'tis sign’d Peter Swann, that I know none by the name of, and then I turn it over and see 'twas writ from Boston in Massachusetts, and I smile to think that Mr W- Y- has acquir’d enough sense to employ a pseudonym when writing.

He writes to say that he is arriv’d there, and 'tis more pleasant than he suppos’d, there is even a very fine university that he has some hopes may obtain preference to a post at, but meanwhile occupies himself with some private tutoring. There is a deal of most genteel educat’d society, that cries out considerable against slavery, and he find several households that boast engravings of Mr de C-'s tableaux of the Evils of Slavery.

Reynaldo di S- is quite universally very well-receiv’d: is besought hither and yon throughout those parts to go speak of the Bourbon tyranny, and consider’d an entire romantick hero among young ladies –

I laugh somewhat immoderate.

- so does not yet proceed into the wilderness about Herr P-'s ideal community. He himself finds this spot surprizing congenial, and can he indeed obtain a position at Harvard, is in strong disposition to make the place his home.

Well, thinks I, folding the letter and smiling, perchance he has give up poetry, and 'tis all to the good.

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'Tis most exceeding delightfull to be in triangle once more, and 'tis also a fine opportunity to discourse of a deal of matters in private.

O, cries Eliza, I am in extreme relief that you are return’d in time for the R- House ball, and to be able to advize upon the business. For indeed, upon convoking on the matter with His Lordship, we determin’d 'twould look somewhat particular did we not hold a ball, after the great success of last year’s, and might bring about gossip of a kind we should wish avoid.

La, says I, I confide you would have contriv’d entire excellent; but indeed I am glad that I am arriv’d in time. I confide I have misst the M- House rout -

They go say, alas, 'tis so, and then say somewhat of what a very fine occasion 'twas.

And then there is a little silence and they say at length, sure they have been exceeding worry’d about their dearest C-, for aside from all the perils of travel, they were in the greatest concern that their darling would be about something foolish and reckless -

Alas, my dears, says I, I was indeed a foolish and reckless C- for a while in Naples –

- in particular, goes on Josiah, because His Lordship communicat’d to me somewhat of the activities of the late Marquess in those parts –

- and, continues Eliza, we were mind’d that our lovely third is also spymistress general to our circle and most exceeding apt at the matter –

- and, says Josiah, will mention secrets that are not her own to disclose concerning the Marquess’s legacy.

La, says I, I will confess to you here in private that I was about aiding, as much as I might, being but a feeble timid feminine creature –

They laugh somewhat immoderate.

- those that struggle against the Bourbon tyranny, and indeed became somewhat in love with danger, for sure, 'twas quite intoxicating what one that was consider’d not merely mad - for are not the English all entire mad? – but an extreme silly featherwit, might discover.

Why, says Eliza, hugging me very close, 'tis a very fine thing but we should be exceeding gratefull would you take a little more care for the best belov’d of our hearts, for 'twould most greatly distress us to lose you.

They both embrace me very close.

My dear loves, says I, indeed I hope I shall not be in a like frenzie again, for 'twas most entire unlike me, I was not myself. Or, perchance, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.

They kiss me and then say, they fear that the lovelyest of C-s grows somewhat melancholick, and confide they have a remedy for that.

I love them so very much.

The morn comes the usual chocolate-party levée, with my sweet Flora being a wakefull wombatt, and Bess and Meg I confide now on better terms, and Josh with the mongoose, and Quintus that is such a serious little fellow.

And I look at my precious jewel so carefull in the way she hands the cups and think that sure 'twould be entire the time to give her that tea-service in miniature that I was sent to attach my interest in the matter of china for my dining-room, for I confide that she will not break it.

Then comes Mrs L-, as we must now style her, saying that she is sure they have all had a grand holiday, but 'tis time to return to regular habits. Bess and Meg deny extreme fervent that 'twas anything like a holiday, for they were most dutyfull in hearing the little ones their lessons and looking over their copying &C.

Mrs L- looks at 'em with the greatest affection, and says, even so.

My infant bluestocking shows a most affecting reluctance to quit my side, at which Mrs L- smiles and says, she will leave her a little with her aunty while she gets the others settl’d to their tasks.

So when Williams comes see do I need any assistance in dressing &C, my darling child shows very pretty well-behav’d and says, may I, afore she goes poke about into any matter.

And then I dispatch her with some several kisses 'twixt us to the schoolroom, and go have a nice little breakfast with my darling Eliza in her family room.

We smile at one another very much. O, 'tis so delightfull to be reunit’d after so long.

But sure, it no longer rains and I cannot find any excuse to linger further, so I must be away.

So when I return I go at once to have Docket and Sophy dress me suitable for the forenoon, and go attend to my correspondence in my pretty parlour.

I am about composing a letter to my dearest Abby in New South Wales to say somewhat of how matters have gone the last several months, but that I intend very shortly to hold a drawing-room meeting for their work, that will sure be well-attend’d by those that desire see whether I am in a decline or go increase, when comes Hector to say Mrs D- K- calls, am I at home?

Indeed, says I (for I am in great desire to hear about how Lord K-'s wooing goes and whether she inclines instead to Mr van H-, that is indeed an agreeable fellow), and request some coffee and any buns or such that Euphemia may have upon hand.

Comes in Mrs D- K-, that is looking in health, but one must observe that her garments still bear the sign of being those of some several seasons past, made over.

I ask how she does, and she says, the old lady is ever the same tiresome b---h, but must be said in her favour does not go drag her out of bed is she out of temper and wishes kick someone, or throw about the plates at dinner when displeas’d. 'Tis peacefull, belike.

Comes Celeste with coffee, and some slices of Euphemia’s fine fruit cake. I pour out and desire Mrs D- K- to help herself to cake.

After a little while has gone by in silence, I say, I hear that Lord K- still goes make suit to her?

She licks her fingers, puts down her cup, sighs and says, 'tis so. And that dragon Lady T- shows quite unwont’d civil. But –

I continue listen in silence

- is’t a freak of my own, or can it be that a fellow shows too devot’d? So that I will ever be coming across him do I but go out an errand for the old b---h; and will show exceeding attentive are we met together in Society; sure I think – perchance I go delude myself? – that do I look out of my bedchamber window of an e’en, he will be about the square.

(Indeed this troubles me, for there are fellows will do so and present it as the conduct of an exceeding meek cavalier servente, 'tis entire to demonstrate their devotion; but will go into frenzies of jealousy does the object of their interest show preference elsewhere, or even merely show not so civil towards 'em as they should desire. I confide I must go see can Mrs O’C- supply me with any intelligence in this matter, tho’ may consider that her as 'twere Hippocratick oath prevents her. But sure, she knows me well enough to know that I will not go convey any matter to the scandalmonging set or the printmakers of Holywell Street.)

La, says I, 'tis indeed somewhat out of the common, and is like to feel oppressive: does one not hear of husbands that set the servants to spy upon their wives are they oblig’d to be out of the house –

She shivers a little and says, it comes to her that she wonders how 'twas he knew she was out of the house in Bath and was so near at hand when she was set upon.

I say that I will consider over it, for may just be that he grows anxious that she has not yet give a definite yes to his suit. And, I go on, I hear you are being paint’d by Mr van H-?

’Tis so, she says, and nibbles at another piece of cake. A very civil, well-conduct’d fellow.

Have ever found him so myself, says I.

Perchance 'tis because he is Dutch? she says.

Why, says I, there are even Frenchmen that may be civil well-conduct’d fellows.

She gives a very faint smile, then says, sure she should be on her way about the old b---h’s errands.

After she has gone, I look somewhat covert out into the street to see do I observe Lord K- at all.

Because I think it very prudent to go continue display myself in full health and not increasing I go ride my lovely Jezebel in the Park again at the fashionable hour, where a deal of fellows come and make civil to me.

I observe, on a fine horse I think I recognize, Captain C-, and go over greet him.

Is that not, says I, Nimrod, of Captain P-'s breeding?

Indeed 'tis, says Captain C-, have determin’d upon selling out and going undertake the like business in Nova Scotia and wisht glean his wisdom and that of his lady – sure 'tis a shocking thing she may not get free of her murderous lunatick of a husband even did he purpose bigamy. Confid'd that 'twould be most answerable to raise fine strong work-horses for farming &C, but besides Captain P- having connexions and knowing who would be good honest fellows to deal with, also took the thought that 'twould do no harm to raise a few riding-horses as well and there is no better fellow to put me in the way of providing the beginnings of a stud.

'Tis an excellent plan, says I, I suppose you are come to Town for dealings with the War Office &C.

He concedes that 'tis so.

(I wonder does he also go consider over a wife to take to Nova Scotia with him, but to enquire does he have any intentions of the kind would require most exceeding tact not to seem prying.)

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I am one forenoon in my parlour at my pretty desk about going over my accounts, and finding all in very agreeable state, when Hector comes say Miss A- is at the door, am I at home to her?

Why, indeed, says I, show her in and do you desire coffee and any little cakes or such Euphemia may have about her.

How now, dear rogue, says I, going across the room to kiss Miss A-, do you come solicit my interest in that matter of plays? Sure I have an intention to be about it – have made a note in my little memorandum book – but indeed there are a deal of matters come pouring in upon me now word is gone about that I am in Town once more.

Miss A- laughs as I wave her into a chair, and says, indeed she would be glad to hear any good news concerning plays, for Mr P- continues pester 'em, but that was not why she came the morn.

Comes Celeste with coffee and the little fruit buns that Miss A- likes particularly. Miss A- says that does any in the household desire passes for the play she would be entire delight’d to provide 'em. Celeste bobs and says, O, Miss A-, I confide that Nell and Polly have never been to the play –

I say with some caution that they should go with some sober older person, do they so –

Why, says Miss A-, Dorcas is still of your household, is she not? Why do you not make up a little party and I will send passes.

Celeste, exceeding thrill’d at this prospect, bobs again and makes most effusive thanks.

After she has gone to convey this very delightfull intelligence, I pour coffee and desire Miss A- to make herself free of the buns, and say that I hope 'tis no ill matter concerning Lady J-.

Oh no, cries Miss A-, I am quite in wonderment at how well she bears up: for indeed at her age 'tis no light matter to go with child. But keeps in most excellent good humour. She smiles very affectionate.

No, indeed, she goes on, that is not where my worries lye.

She nibbles on a bun, and then says, she continues give a little instruction in dramatick matters to the Earl of N-'s children and their circle, they come along very pleasing. She then sighs and says, she takes some concern over Lady Emily –

Oh, I cry, 'tis not that she falls at your feet –

Not entirely, says Miss A-, looking very sober. But indeed she did come weep in my lap lately, and I am in some trouble what I should say to her. May have been somewhat that happen’d while you were away, but she took the most exceeding fondness towards Lord D-'s sister –

I was there, says I, when they first met.

- ah, says Miss A-, wrinkling up her nose, and I daresay you entirely penetrat’d into Lady Rosamund’s character –

Nasty little b---h, says I.

Entirely, says Miss A-, but Lady Emily was quite besott’d, one could not say anything, but I am like to suppose she has come about to have the veil torn from across her eyes and to see that little hussy in her true colours. But it render’d her exceeding distressfull, and sure I saw that she was troubl’d by somewhat one day when I went for their instruction, and took an opportunity to ask her privyly what was ado –

And then she went sob in your lap?

Precisely, says Miss A-. And I am very like to think that she is of my dear Lady J-'s nature, but has not come to that consciousness of the matter that she came to thro’ her study of the classicks with her uncle.

Indeed, says I, 'tis a thought that has crosst my own mind.

Miss A- sighs and says that she apprehends that 'tis not with Lady Emily as 'twas with Lady J-, that was left an independence by her uncle and thus not oblig’d to concede to any attempts to make some marriage alliance.

I would suppose not: her family lament that she does not show particular favour to any of her suitors, but 'tis entire assum’d that she will marry, and marry to the advantage of her family.

Miss A- sighs. Do you think she will?

Why, says I, does she not fully understand her own nature, and does she find some fellow she does not altogether dislike, she may go marry him – for her family may be fond of her, but I daresay they will be telling her that 'tis a most unusual matter the very great liking there is 'twixt her sister and Lord O-, or the romantick tale of Their Graces of M-. But she will continue falling in love with other ladies, I confide. And sure there are husbands that would not much mind, because 'tis not somewhat that would bring a cuckoo to the nest, and they might have their own diversions, but there are other fellows that go be very jealous and resentfull even of affection shown unto a lapdog.

'Tis so, says Miss A-. Are there not fellows that will marry actresses and then forbid 'em the stage? 'tis a similar matter.

I sigh myself. 'Tis a tangle, I say. But I will go consider over it.

O, cries Miss A-, if any can unknot it 'tis Lady B-!

La, says I, I do not contrive to miracles.

Miss A- laughs somewhat immoderate and says, that is not what reputation gives out.

She rises to her feet and says that she must be along to the theatre.

We kiss very affectionate and she departs.

I go throw myself into a chair to ponder this conundrum but find no immediate solution. I will go leave it ferment a little.

After I have made some duty calls, I go ride my lovely Jezzie-girl in the Park at the fashionable hour. There is a deal of Society about. I observe that Lord V- goes drive the Honble Frances C- in his phaeton. I also see Mr Geoffrey M- in what I confide is a fine new phaeton: he waves to me with his whip and I ride over to greet him.

La, says I, am surpriz’d to see you here, 'tis give out that you are entire wedd’d to your books –

He blushes a little and says, has been persuad’d that a little healthfull exercize can only be beneficial to studying. And 'tis entire delightfull to see Lady B- return’d to Town in such health.

I say I hear that he and his brothers go live at N- House.

Indeed, he says, but 'tis but a bachelor establishment and they do not entertain - not but what 'tis a sad shabby gloomy place that one would not wish invite any to.

He then is struck with a happy thought and says, U- was saying some months ago, O, could we only get a little advice from Lady B- upon furbishing the house up – his face then falls and he says, sure he dares say 'twould be improper to invite me to come look it over –

Why, says I, did I not do the like for O- House? Took Hector with me for propriety. Or, says I, as a notion begins form in my mind, surely your sisters come visit? Might I not come along some day with Lady Emily, for 'twould be exceeding usefull to her to learn a little of these matters.

Mr M- concedes 'tis an entire bang-up notion and he will open the matter to U- and Eddy as soon as maybe.

He then proceeds to ask would I care for a drive sometime.

Why, says I, I hear you have a very pretty hand with the ribbons and I should be entire delight’d.

He blushes most exceedingly.

'Tis an agreeable encounter.

In the e’en I go to a little family party at R- House, to welcome Mr and Mrs L- home from their wedding journey. I have been in some consideration concerning some suitable present, and have settl’d upon a pretty string of pearls for Mrs L-, that has always greatly admir’d the fine pearls that the Admiral gave me.

All are sitting in the parlour when I arrive, and I observe that Sandy is of the company and thus is no longer in disgrace.

I go congratulate the happy pair, give the gift to the quondam Miss N-, that gasps, O, Lady B-! when she opens the package, say to Mr L- that I have some travel observations that he may like for the paper, and ask how they enjoy’d Lyme Regis. O, quite exceedingly, they say, and expatiate somewhat on their walks along the Cobb, the remarkable fossils for which the place is fam’d &C&C.

Mrs L- desires her husband to help her fasten the pearls about her neck, and he does so with a very doating air.

Eliza says that 'twill be an excellent thing to get back into good schoolroom habits: sure Bess and Meg have shown very well in hearing the younger ones their lessons, but 'tis not the same.

Patty comes take my sweet Flora, that demonstrates some sign of becoming over-excit’d, to bed, and I am desir’d to come be a sleepy wombatt. Sure this has become an occasion upon which my precious jewel recounts me in great detail all that she has lately been about before she may be prevail’d upon to lye down and behave in the fashion proper to sleepy wombatts. But 'tis entire charming.

As I return to the parlour Eliza comes meet me in the corridor. La, Lady B-, she says, have you observ’d how the rain comes down? Sure I think you should stay the night in your fine reserv’d chamber rather than undertake the journey home in these conditions.

I look at my dearest of all wild girls and smile very much. Why, Mrs F-, that is most exceeding thoughtfull of you, and I confide Ajax may find some shakedown in the stables can Seraphine and Roberts not offer him a bed in the gardener’s cottage.

We look at one another with very speaking expressions, and then go behave ourselves most extreme proper in company.

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I mind that dear Hester desir’d some private discourse with me, so one morn I go to O- House and am conduct’d to her private parlour, where she sits alone but for Selina – Miss Millick, I confide, still has schoolroom duties with Lady Louisa.

I go over to kiss her and say how well she looks, for indeed, she looks a deal less drawn than was wont when first I knew her, and quite vastly improv’d in spirits.

O, she says, dear Tony is quite the kindest of sons-in-law – ever thoughtfull, will go ask is there any matter I require – as well as making dear Nan so very happy. Sure I hardly know myself these days.

I ask do they hear from the Earl and she says, there have been a few brief letters, he is very widely receiv’d in Washington, makes a deal of excursions to see gardens and to explore the forests; and desires we will instruct his bankers to remit &C&C. But indeed, I did not hope for a visit from you to talk about him, 'tis some little matters trouble me about the children, and sure you know more of Society than I do.

Comes a footman with coffee, that I confide will be excellent is Arabella still mistress of the kitchen, and a plate of dainty little cakes.

I was in some mind, says I, to ask Euphemia to put up a basket of treats: but I then I bethought me might look as if I had no confidence in Arabella’s capacities.

O, she is an excellent creature! cries Hester, and entire doats upon Selina. But, dear C-, I daresay you will not have heard, being out of Town so long, but I am in very great concern over Eddy.

I put on my listening face and say, sure, I have hear Mr M- entire well spoke off –

O, he is not what they call fast, but there is this matter of Lady Z-, that he is seen so much in company with, and I am in great fear that Sir H- will go call him out, or bring a crim. con. action.

La, says I, sure you have not the least reason to worry that Sir H- will go take some resentment in the matter. Is a fellow very meritorious conscientious about his Parliamentary duties, as well as having a deal of business to be about concerning tin - for is of an antient Cornish family with tin-mining interests. Entirely finds it to answer to have some young fellow squire Lady Z- around somewhat and gain that polish and good ton that may be acquir’d thro’ association with an older lady that knows the usages of Society.

Indeed you relieve my mind! says she with a sigh of relief. Shows a very fine spirit in him.

Indeed it does, says I. But how are the rest of your brood?

O, Nan will go grumble somewhat about the constraints of her condition, but she is very well, none of those signs that would give particular cause for concern. And there is Lou set a most excellent fine example of application by her friends, goes be entire diligent in learning so that she will not appear the dunce of their set. And my only worry over Geoff is that he will overdo in his enthusiasm for this new course, sit up late over his law-books &C: but will also go drive and fence, so I do not suppose he will fall into a decline from too much study.

She then sighs. Did you, she asks, make any acquaintance of Lady Rosamund S- afore you went to Naples?

I say that indeed, was introduc’d to her at Lord P-'s house-party, and encounter’d her again at C-Castle.

Hester sighs again and says, my poor Em took one of her doating fancies to her, has ever been some girl she takes a passion for, but sure, one was hard put to find any merits in this one that might bring it about.

Why, says I, she has somewhat in the way of looks, tho’ considerable temper’d by her disdainfull expressions.

I should not mind, she goes on, was it some mutual girlish enthusiasm such as one sees with Lou and her friends, but seem’d to me that there was an inequality of feeling, and that there was somewhat behind; and we quite soon came to apprehend, all except Em, that she cast her eyes at U-, that would make a most eligible parti for a young lady of her rank.

She looks at me and down at her hands and sighs. I am most exceeding glad that Lord N- is not in the country, for I doubt not he would consider it a prime match and endeavour persuade U- to it –

He does not incline to her? I ask.

Hester snorts and says, can scarcely bear her company. Would show civil, go dance with her, &C, because she is Em’s friend. But now Em comes take against her, that I cannot be sorry at, but that it makes her so distressfull.

I am about to say, 'tis a troublesome time of life, but I mind me that Lady Emily is some years older than Lady Louisa, and might be suppos’d that that particular volatile time 'twixt girlhood and womanhood was past.

I wish, she goes on somewhat fretfull, that Em would go incline towards one or other of her suitors, for there are a deal look upon her with great admiration. Sure I would not go force her to any she lik’d not, but I daresay U- takes the thought that there are alliances that might suit exceedingly.

Why, says I, I mind that during her first few seasons she was greatly constrain’d by her Aunt Laetitia’s notions of correct conduct, and being dresst so out of the style, so I daresay now she goes kick up her heels a little like a filly unbridl’d.

'Tis very like, says Hester, for indeed she chaf’d under Laetitia’s strictures. But, dear C-, I sit here telling over my own troubles, and 'tis give out there was some difficulty over your estate at Naples?

La, says I, 'tis the most entire tedious tale, should not wish to bore anyone with it. 'Tis all entire settl’d now.

We part with great amiability.

I return home, and find that Tibby goes call upon Euphemia, so I desire her to come step to the parlour, so that I may discourse with her upon this matter of marriage.

She comes in and makes her bob and says that she and Titus are ready to be marry’d as soon as maybe, she is in entire confidence that Jennie will prove entire capable of serving Her Grace as lady’s maid, and indeed she would like to be about the matter while Euphemia may still be present, for does she not increase mightyly?

Perchance, says I, 'tis twins; for sure I think it must be a month or two yet afore she may anticipate to lye in. But, says I, do you wish to be expeditious in the matter, might be contriv’d with an ordinary license without the matter of banns.

Tibby says she had some such notion and Titus goes find out about the matter; but, O, Your Ladyship, would it be presuming to ask might we hold the breakfast here?

La, says I, I should be entire insult’d did you desire any other course. Do you go settle when the ceremony may be, and then Euphemia and Seraphine can be about baking a bride-cake and all the other matters of the breakfast.

Tibby is most exceeding mov’d, but I contrive dispatch her to convoke with Euphemia.

I still have a deal of calls 'tis only civil to make, so have Docket dress me suitable for the matter, take up my reticule and card-case, and go about the matter.

Sure 'twould be most incivil to delay any longer in calling upon Lady T-, so I desire Ajax to drive me there first. The footman says he will see whether Her Ladyship be at home, and returns to say, she is at home to you, Lady B-, in the small parlour, by which I apprehend she is not receiving callers more generally.

I am shown into the small parlour, where she is about her lace-making, that she sets aside very carefull before standing up to greet me. She waves me to the chair vis-à-vis herself, and rings for tea.

O, dear Lady B-, I am so glad to see you! And in such excellent health, sure there was a deal of concern expresst for you.

O, poo, says I, I was a little pull’d down; had matters at the late Marquess’s estate that would be the better of my presence; saw the opportunity of traveling with the Contessa rather than having to contrive all myself. I was by no means in a decline.

She says she is pleas’d to hear it, for sure matters in Town would be the better for Lady B-‘s hand upon 'em.

La, says I, I confide you flatter me: but say on.

She opens to me that the matter that most concerns her, as I had anticipat’d, is Lord K-'s suit to Mrs D- K-.

Sure, she says, I think it displays a better ton than I would have expect’d from her not to show too eager in grabbing at such an excellent match, and I am in some consideration that, when I think how dilatory K- has shown over the business of a second marriage, perchance 'twould be gracious to concede to this one if 'tis what he desires. And sure her behaviour is much improv’d.

I have heard it remarkt so, says I.

Also, I have observ’d that minx Lady Rosamund S- goes endeavour establish interest with him: a very ill-conduct’d young woman that her mama should have whippt more often.

She sighs. And sure I think that a determin’d young woman might bring him to an offer, was it not that he takes this yearning for Mrs D- K-.

I wonder is there any lady would entirely suit Lady T- as a bride for Lord K-, but she then goes on to remark on what a very pretty, nice-manner’d young woman is Lady G-'s god-daughter, may not be well-dower’d but of exceeding good family; mayhap not the livelyness of Lady Emily M-, but that might be for the best.

(I mind that I have heard that Lord V- is already making suit to Miss C-.)

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I sleep more soundly for having dispos’d of Mr R- O-'s evidence that he us’d to extort compliance with his intentions. Indeed I am glad 'tis gone, and that, even had he given a hint or so to Lord I-, there will be naught to substantiate the matter. (For indeed there was a copy of the entry in the parish register of my sweet Flora’s baptism, and some scrawl’d calculations of dates.)

I therefore rise with a lighter heart than I have done these many months, and think that I may perchance be about my usual round.

Docket informs me that she has employ’d the interest we have with Biddy Smith to obtain a fitting for me with Maurice this very afternoon, 'tis a most exceeding special favour.

La, Docket, says I, you do not let the grass grow beneath your feet.

She gives me a look and says, have there not been a deal of invitations come already? She and Sophy go furbish up a few gowns so that I will not look an entire dowd, but sure I should have new.

Indeed, says I, I should not go about so that Society will suspect how much time I spend in my library.

She and Sophy look at me in my morning-gown, and nod.

In a consumption indeed! says Docket. Sure Your Ladyship needs no rouge when going into company.

I go downstairs to breakfast in my parlour, and I am still at table when Sandy is shown in, looking in very good spirits.

How now, my dear, says I, sit down and I daresay there will be fresh hot coffee comes most expeditious –

Comes Celeste with this, and also some fresh bak’d muffins.

Dearest C-, says Sandy, after drinking two cups of coffee, as he butters a muffin and endeavours choose 'twixt Euphemia’s quince marmalade and her gooseberry preserve, I am most infinite gratefull that you prevail’d against my cowardly shrinking and brought me home.

Not, he goes on, that I am in any way deserving of the fine generous forgiving spirit in which I have been welcom’d back: does G- not have quite the noblest of hearts?

I look at him with a little smile and say, when you say forgiving -

I have, says Sandy, just before biting into a muffin load’d with preserve, confesst all.

All? says I.

All, says he.

La, says I, I am ever of the opinion that there are some matters that 'tis best draw a veil over, especial do they not lead to anything. Now I daresay I shall be most effusive prais’d for not taking advantage of you.

He blushes.

But, my dear Sandy, have some more coffee and another muffin, for there is a matter I should disclose to you – o, 'tis no ill thing, 'tis excellent news, but you should know.

I tell him of Matt Johnson’s visit and his very forethoughtfull proceedings in discovering Mr R- O-'s hiding-places and his casket of secrets, and my own burning of 'em.

'Twas prudent, says Sandy, to do so. And yet –

Why, says I, 'twas not merely secrets that were not my own to disclose, but secrets I should not even have, 'tis better they are gone.

He sighs and says he is not sure he could have done the same.

Fie, says I, there are those breathe a deal more easyly to think Mr R- O- is vanisht.

Indeed, he says. Do you purpose inform Mr W- Y-?

Poo, says I, I daresay he goes do well enough in Boston, and I cannot come at any way I might inform him very discreet in a letter.

'Tis indeed a puzzle.

Did I go about in some symbolickal fashion – as it might be, in some kind of horrid tale? - I confide he would fail to apprehend my drift.

Did he not come to apprehend that you are that not’d author that has been incognita.

What, says I, a featherwit such as I?

If he does not apprehend by now that you are no featherwit, he is beyond hope.

O, says I, I confide he supposes that there was some fellow was the puppet-master of this silly uneducat’d creature.

Sandy looks at me with great affection and says, 'tis quite the happyest thing to be on restor’d terms of amity with his dearest sibyl. For, he says, growing thoughtfull, quite the worst thing about having brought us into the outs, was that I could not come to you for your sage counsel about mending our friendship.

O, poo, says I, kicking him under the table, let us not grow mawkish. Tho’ I shall confess that I greatly misst our friendship myself, even unto the dour Calvinistickal glare.

We smile at one another. I then open to him the matter of the various tales and plays I have upon hand, and that Agnes L-, as we must now style her, has a new collection of poems that she desires publish. And, says I, I know not if Alf mention’d this to you himself, that would be most appreciative of a few novels besides works on heavyer matters when you send your parcels to 'em.

Sandy grins and says, Alf did indeed open the matter and would be most particular gratefull for any further works by the author of The Antiquarian’s Daughter (that I had chanc’d to have upon hand as I was about turning it into a play); is a fellow of great discrimination.

La, says I, you are ever the same flattering weasel, Mr MacD-, would that I had a fan about me.

He sighs and says 'tis ever delightfull to sit here in convockation but there are a deal of matters he must be about, having left 'em for so long.

Comes Celeste to clear away the breakfast things, follow’d by Timothy with a deal of letters and cards – I confide 'tis a day when Hector goes instruct the R- House nursery-set in the pugilistick art.

I therefore spend some while attending to correspondence at my pretty desk in my parlour, until 'tis time for me to be took to Mamzelle Bridgette’s for Maurice to go consider over replenishing my wardrobe.

Maurice greets me very effusive, declares that I am looking exceeding well, and that – he stands back a little to observe me – indeed my figure is what it ever was, mayhap I have even lost a little flesh, tho’ not so much as to give any credence to rumours that I am in a decline, merely enough to create a very elegant form that he confides will show off to great advantage.

So there are several hours past in being drap’d with stuffs and having pins stuck in &C&C but at the end of it I am in considerable confidence that I shall be entire in the crack of fashion once more, to the great gratification of Docket.

He also conveys to me in between desiring me to turn around, or hold still, or consider this very fine silk, a deal of gossip, some that concerns his family connexions – he goes make Tibby’s trousseau, for she has brought much business their way – and some that, I doubt not, he gleans from the certain club he frequents.

He also remarks that Lady Z- goes take advantage of Biddy’s discreet private chamber again.

'Tis not so very late when I finally emerge that I may not instruct Ajax to go drive me to Phoebe’s house, for I long to see how she and Lucile do.

She comes greet me at the door and I kiss her very warm. She is looking exceeding well. She takes me into the parlour and desires Alice to bring us some tea. Lucile, that is coming along a fine girl, is playing upon the floor in a little pen.

I look at it and Phoebe looks at me and says, she had the notion from Seraphine, for she thought that now Lucile begins get about, may get into all sorts of matter that would be very prejudicial to her – I think of the pigments and turpentine &C that go with her father’s profession – 'tis entire the safest thing. She goes over and lifts her out and says, but is she not a fine girl?

But I see her eyes go a little wistfull towards the painting of Camille upon the wall.

Fine and thriving, says I, taking her into my own arms and kissing her, listening to her babble that does not quite come at being words yet. And, I say, do the de C-s - ?

Phoebe gives a little sigh and says, sure she was in some hopes that when Raoul was elect’d a Royal Academician they might come round, but they still hold distant.

I go put Lucille back into her pen, and ask how Mr de C- does.

Exceeding well, says Phoebe, a deal of commissions upon hand – at this very moment has Lady Z- and her children in the studio – we may soon be oblig’d to turn away work. But, she goes on with a little smile, 'tis very agreeable to have the cushion provid’d by the profits upon my polishes, that go extreme well, young Mr K- came visit lately to say they are in some consideration of expanding the factory.

O, says I, he is not gone to the Baltic? – tho’ I then take a consideration that ice and snow may linger in those parts until quite advanc’d into the year.

There is a sound of voices in the passage and Phoebe goes to the door and says she dares says Lady Z- would care for some tea, and the boys for some lemonade?

Lady Z- comes in, looking most exceeding handsome, saying that that would be indeed gratefull. She greets me very effusive, remarks upon how well I am looking, and that sure I have been greatly misst among our circle. Her boys, that are very well-looking as one might expect with such parents, make me civil bows. Little Cara comes totter up to clutch at my skirts, and becomes a most exceeding pretty child.

I remark that 'tis a charming notion to have themselves paint’d, but will Sir H- not be in the picture?

Lady Z- smiles and says indeed, but cannot always manage the same occasions to come sit, with Parliament in session.

So I confide all is still well 'twixt 'em.

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I do no more than leave cards on my next several calls, for happyly the ladies are out: so I demonstrate civil to Lady T-, Mrs O- B-, Lady Z-, and Lady G- without having to do the polite over the teacups, ‘tis entire agreeable to me.

But as I was like to anticipate, matters are different at O- House, and I am shown into the drawing-room where Hester lyes upon a couch, Nan sits in an easy-chair with her feet up on a footstool, and Em is rising from, I confide, sprawling beside her mother’s couch.

O! cries Hester, sitting up and holding out her hands, is this not the most delightfull unexpect’d thing? Em said you were very lately return’d to Town, but we were not at all sure that you would be about making calls –

La, says I, sure I was never fallen into a consumption, merely a little pull’d down, and also had matters to do with my property near Naples, I see that gossip has made a deal more of the matter than I anticipat’d.

Why, says Nan, 'twas remarkt that you had depart’d very precipitate -

O, poo, says I, 'twas entirely to have the advantages of traveling with the Contessa –

Indeed, she says, Tony said he suppos’d it was somewhat of the sort.

But, says I, my dears, what’s ado with you? – that I cannot already deduce for myself? – with a nod to Nan, that visibly increases.

Hester tells Nan to ring for tea, has she entire forgot the social graces? and Nan does so.

Selina comes across the floor to scrutinize me closely and then demonstrates an inclination to be pickt up and strok’d, so I do so, and sit down in an easy chair so that she may curl up purring in my lap.

Hester says, as she pours us tea and Em goes convey the cups about, U- has thought it proper, and that 'twould look a deal less particular, did he go reside at N- House, so he maintains a bachelor establishment there with Eddy and Geoff, but they dine here very often. And indeed, now you are return’d, dearest C-, might you provide him with some notions about how N- House might be furbisht up? 'Tis a great imposition, I know.

'Twould be an entire pleasure, says I.

They tell me how matters go in their set – dear Agnes S- has marry’d and is on her wedding journey, Lord and Lady A- shortly go hold a ball at B- House, and Cissie has a deal of suitors. Frances C- has been receiving very markt attentions from Lord V- (why, thinks I, has he been smitten by Cupid’s arrow at last? For altho’ Miss C- is well-bred and well-connect’d, has very little dower to her name). Did I ever meet Rebecca G- and Julia P-? Her Grace takes them around a little in Society, they are the most ravishing creatures, create quite a stir -

And is Lady Rosamund still among your circle? I enquire.

They all pull faces and say, indeed she is. I am surpriz’d to see that Em, that was in such a doating state about her, wears a similar expression to her mother and sister.

O, says Em, that little reptile.

Her mother tuts at her a little.

Why, says Nan, 'tis hard not to express oneself somewhat vulgar about her. 'Tis not just that she made up to us entire so that we would promote her interest to U-, for she has no notion to marry beneath her own station, can she not advance it, but she was discover’d to be spreading the most malicious gossip about you, dear C-.

La, says I, comes as no surprize.

Well, says Em, she will be quite confound’d to see you in such fine looks, and certainly not increasing.

I laugh and say sure gossiping tongues will be about wild speculations. And then go say somewhat of the very fine time I had in Naples &C.

Before I go Hester desires me to call upon her one morn, can I spare the time, and I apprehend that she has somewhat to convey to me that she had rather not do afore her daughters.

I return to my own dear house, and as I am so very recent return’d do not yet have a deal of engagements for every e’en, so I desire Euphemia to prepare – or instruct Celeste to prepare – a nice little supper, and then I purpose spend a little time in my library, arranging my books and considering over the various writing I have been at.

So I am in my library, that I am quite falling in love with, deciding upon the best manner of arranging my books, and whether some of 'em ought to be rebound, when comes Hector to say Mr Johnson comes call, will I see him?

O, says I, indeed, and find out what he would like to drink and if he would care for some snack to sustain him in his work of finding out malefactors.

A few moments later he shows in Matt Johnson and I go over clasp his hands in greeting, for indeed I am very pleas’d to see him. He smiles down upon me and says that I am looking entire well from my travels, and then looks about my library and smiles a little and says, there are those would be surpriz’d to see Lady B- in this setting.

La, says I, I am quite the secret bluestocking.

He laughs, and then comes Celeste with a mug of ale and a plate of bread and cheese.

When he has consum’d the latter and settl’d down with the ale, he looks at me and says, the matter is quite entire secure, Your Ladyship, you do not have any reason to worry.

Why, says I, I am pleas’d to hear it, for I had a very curious call just before my departure from one I apprehend to have been Mr O-'s superior in the matter.

Matt smiles somewhat grim and says, he was in some supposition that there were those above Mr R- O-. He also took a thought, when My Ladyship was out of Town last summer and Hector was in some concern that this place was being watcht, that the fellow doubtless had a number of hidey-holes about the place. So he set his young confederates to watch upon him – for does a fellow see an urchin or two go follow him, he will be mindfull of his purse and his watch but will not suppose they spy upon him.

Indeed so, says I. I hope you will permit me to convey 'em some gratitude.

So, Matt goes on, they manag’d find his lairs, and therefore, after the corpse had been dispatcht in the care of young Sam Jupp, he went about 'em to see had the fellow laid away any documents or other evidence that he kept, and in due course came across a little chest, that he has brought with him and put by just outside the door, might I give him leave to bring it in?

Please do, says I, and he goes fetch in a small wooden box, that is, I find when I attempt lift the lid, lockt.

Thought it better so, he says, but had been thro’ his pockets and found several keys about him, and one of 'em is the one for this chest. He takes it out of his own pocket and hands it to me.

Have not, he continues, delv’d very deep into this business, that I confide is entire outside my own commission, thought it best to hold it by until you might look thro’ it, for I daresay there are matters would mean more to you than me.

Perchance, says I, looking at the box and at the key in my hand and feeling entire like unto Pandora.

He then says, has business to be about the night, should be going, but is entire glad to see me well and in spirits. He stands up and I go over to take his hands and kiss him and says, sure there is a deal of gratitude, but I should not hold you from duty. He smiles down at me and says, he hopes he may call upon me again.

Indeed you may, says I, I hope you will.

After he has gone I stand looking at the box and walking around to view it from all angles and telling myself that to open it would not release a cloud of evils. I am also mind’d that 'twould not be prudent to thrust it into Hector’s hands and desire him to see that 'tis burnt, for 'twould be well-adviz’d to see what matters Mr R- O- had garner’d in his pryings.

I insert the key into the lock, turn it, and lift the lid.

There are a deal of papers inside, some of 'em in what I take to be cypher, but by no means all.

I go stir up the fire in the grate, for I confide that these are matters should be dispos’d of. I look most particular for any matters that bear upon members of our coterie: I find, indeed, some poems sign’d P.L. that I confide are those publisht by Mr W- Y- and suppos’d his. There are certain letters that entire demonstrate the prudent habit of Milord and Sandy not to correspond upon anything but such matters of business as lye 'twixt any lord and his secretary.

I also discover the hold he had upon the late Mr D- K-: 'twas a matter of a young woman that he had laid violent hands upon, that was the dear sister of a very villainous fellow, the chief of a gang of criminals, that swore revenge upon whoever had done the deed, and that Mr R- O- threaten’d disclose the matter to.

So I drop page after page into the fire and see the flames shoot up the chimney, and wonder should I keep by the ones in cypher and endeavour decypher 'em? Perchance I might put Sandy to the task? And yet, 'tis all matters that, the fewer know of 'em, the better. May even be such matters that Sandy might consider should be disclos’d, for already I have observ’d some hugger-mugger monetary dealings.

I toss 'em one by one into the fire, turn up and shake the box, feel around to see is there anything in the way of a false bottom, and think I shall go say must be choppt up for kindling.

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I remain in a little concern as to the matter that Miss A- did not have time to open to me; but suppose that did she not quite immediate disclose it upon the departure of Mrs N- - for tho’ we are both very fond of Mrs N-, none can deny that she is entirely the Queen of Gossip – can be no matter of great urgency, and somewhat that may be deferr’d to some other occasion.

Tho’ I also take a consideration that Miss A- is entire a servant of the dramatick muses and telling plays with good strong parts will ever be a business of great moment to her. I must go turn over my latest essays in drama, that I have not yet even shown to Sandy.

Sure I am very tempt’d to sit at my desk and scribble, but I mind that Society imposes its demands and now that I am return’d to Town quite at the height of the Season, should go about making calls and leaving cards.

'Tis somewhat of a tedious prospect: but I think none would blame me was my first calls upon my return paid to very particular good friends.

So I take my reticule and my card-case, and have Docket array me suitable for paying calls, and Ajax has the horses put to my carriage, and I desire him to drive me first to M- House.

I was not sure should I find Little V in, rather than paying calls herself, but she is indeed at home and receiving visitors, and when I am shown into her drawing-room, I see that Lady J- is also there, in a comfortable chair with her feet up upon a footstool, for one quite sees that her endeavours with the Admiral bear fruit.

O, cries Viola, rising to greet me, is this not an entire delightfull treat? Sure I was expecting a deal of bores and fusties the day. But how well you are looking.

I desire Lady J- not to rise. She smiles and says, provid’d one avoids the mala aria and eschews those spots afflict’d with noxious miasmas, sure those parts are exceeding healthfull.

Indeed so, says I, and mention that I saw a little of the Admiral.

And you are quite in health? asks Viola.

O, indeed: mayhap I was a little pull’d down, but 'twas more that I took a whim to travel with the Contessa –

Lady J- raises her eyebrows and remarks that 'twas very unlike Lady B- to rush off upon a whim with so many matters upon hand, sure I must know what malicious tongues are like.

I sigh and say, indeed so. But, my dears, how do matters go on with you?

So they tell me how matters go with 'em, and Lady J- goes complain a little, but in all good humour, upon the constraints her condition imposes, and says that all goes exceeding well upon the Hampshire estate. Viola laughs a little and says that Martha becomes an entire countrywoman, did very well with her hens at an agrickultural show at the local fair.

And they tell me various news of our set, and then – sure I have remain’d entire beyond the proper time for a call – Lady D- is shown in, and 'tis clear she is quite an entire favourite with Lady J-. She greets me very warm, and tells me that Agnes is marry’d and upon her wedding trip, and on their return Mr L- will read himself in to a very fine living has been present’d to by the Marquess of O-, will be rector of the parish and there is a very pretty rectory.

I remark upon how exceeding charming a prospect this is ('tis most exceeding charming to me, for Agnes L- is a young woman of considerable perception, and in Mr L-'s present Surrey parish might hear somewhat about a certain sea-captain’s wife that had been General Y-'s god-daughter, for in such places little enough happens that antient scandals are still fresh food for the gossips).

Lady D- shows some disposition to give the company a very detail’d account of the itinerary of the wedding-trip, so I ask how Lord D- does, at which she gives her pretty dimpling smile and says, o, exceeding well, finds that his megrims are much less troublesome now he goes wear spectacles.

I then say that 'tis excellent fine to hear all her good news, but I have stay’d a shocking long time about my call and should be away. (For I am in some fears that she will go on to matters of the orphanage ladies.)

Lady J- says that she hopes that I will call again at some less formal hour so that we may convoke about various philanthropick matters. Indeed, says I, when I am a little more settl’d.

So I escape, and desire Ajax to take me to call upon Lady W-.

I find dear Susannah alone, for 'tis not her usual day for receiving callers, but I am told, o, she is at home to you, Lady B-.

So I go in to her small parlour, where she is poring over a parliamentary report thro’ her lorgnette, that she immediate puts down to rise and greet me.

Dearest C-! And so much in health! She rings for tea and waves me to a chair.

And, she goes on, since we are unlike to be broke in upon by other callers, I may tell you 'tis now very much consider’d an entire definite matter among our set that that tiresome fellow that was poking and prying about our business has taken his congé, tho’ without leaving PPC cards. Indeed no-one knows what has come to him –

At this moment comes a footman with tea. She pours out for both of us.

When we are alone again she says, so, dear C-, you do not need to worry about being pester’d by him over imaginary plots.

Why, says I, I am pleas’d to hear it. For indeed one felt in a like state to Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, when her husband will by no means believe she has been entire faithfull to him.

Well, my dear, I am glad to see you return’d to us so soon, and not after some sixteen years as a statue. But you had an agreeable sojourn at Naples? Have you been writing anything?

I laugh and say that I was shower’d with so much hospitality whilst I was at the Contessa’s palazzo that I had little enough time for my pen. But then I went visit my villa to see how matters get on there, and the journey home was exceeding leisurely, so I have a few matters upon hand. But, dear Susannah, how are you? and your children? and Sir B-?

She tells me of some very well-thought-of speeches that Sir B- W- has lately made, and that the children are well tho’ Sukey continues show very shy. Barty walks already. She then sighs and says, alas, the dreadfull crocodile is in Town a good deal. I suspect, she says with somewhat of a groan, 'twould bring her a deal of consequence does Mrs D- K- fall to Lord K-‘s siege -

She still holds out? I ask. I am very surpriz’d that she still dithers.

Is’t not remarkable? I cannot fathom it. For while Lady T- does not manifest any great warmth, she is entire civil, shows a very proper conduct towards her – for there is some distant cousinship in the matter – and Lord K- is clearly quite entire besott’d.

Why, says I, may be that she does not want it said that she jumpt with vulgar haste at such an eligible offer –

One might suppose so, says Susannah, but 'tis quite remarkable how little she displays that haughtyness she us’d to manifest, when her late husband was still alive. But, o, there is another thing – that Dutch artist fellow, Mr van H-, goes paint her as some classickal figure - surely one cannot imagine that she inclines to him?

Hmm, says I, he is an amiable enough fellow and does well enough from his painting: was’t not set in the balance against the prospect of being a Countess in due course, 'twould be quite an eligible match. But tell me, does Captain C- still linger in this land?

Alas, yes, the poor fellow: has almost give up any hopes of returning to the colours and goes investigate the matter of selling out and going farm in Nova Scotia.

And, says I, taking a help-meet with him? (For I mind that he show’d considerable attentive to Lady Emily M-, tho’ may consider her above his touch.)

Why, I think 'twould be a good thing for him, the poor fellow, particular could he attach a young lady of fortune. Sure there are some well-dower’d young women in Viola’s set, but I am not sure Miss G- or Miss S- would be suit’d to that life. Very well-looking, nicely-conduct’d young women – have you met 'em? – I shake my head, saying that I left Town before Society began return – as well as bringing a pleasing competence to any match. In particular I cannot suppose that Miss S-, that was bred up in Bombay, would fancy so northerly a residence.

I daresay not, says I, for I recall General Y- would find it chill even in summer here in Town and I fancy 'tis a deal colder in Nova Scotia.

She sighs and says mayhap Cissie B-? But with her sister marry’d so very well, may be hanging out for rank.

La, says I, I do not think Mr and Mrs O- B- would judge a good marriage by that standard: but would it not be a shame did a voice like hers go languish in the wilds?

Susannah says 'tis give out that there is something of the nature of society in Halifax: and then laughs, and says, and as for society on t’other side of the Atlantick, tis report’d that Reynaldo di S- is most greatly fêt’d in Boston society and shows no disposition to go set up an ideal community in the wilderness.

I laugh and say, sure 'tis no surprize. But, my dear Susannah, altho’ 'tis very agreeable to exchange gossip with you, I mind that there are other calls I should make is’t only to leave my card.

She gives her dear crookt smile and says, indeed, society will be agog at the return of Lady B- in such excellent health and displaying her wont’d elegance of figure.

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'Tis very agreeable to be back in my own place, and to see and hear how well matters get on within the household, and to have a nice little supper brought to me by Celeste, with a sanitive glass of madeira to it, and to sleep in my own bed.

I have some little convockation with Dorcas about matters of housekeeping, and she says that Nell and Polly come along very well in taking hold of good practices. She also says that she and Prue continue make regular visits to Covent Garden, and Mrs Mutton and her enterprize go on exceeding well, and they have quite a little congregation there. And one has gone put up the money to rent a little shop for Mrs Binns to be about her hats, and she confides that one may see the workings of grace within her.

(Why, thinks I, I confide that is the work of that excellent young fellow Lord U-, that was so shockt at his father’s miserly proceedings in the matter.)

And in the morn I am woke by Sophy with my chocolate, and put on my wrapper and go take a nice little breakfast in my parlour, and 'tis quite entire the pleasantest thing.

And when I have dresst suit’d to the morning, I say that I will go be in my library.

Hector says, indeed, Your Ladyship, and here is come a deal of letters and invitations &C.

La, says I, I will go deal with 'em there, tho’ had hop’d to spend a little time arranging my books.

Sure 'tis gratifying that, hardly am I return’d to Town, but I am besieg’d with requests to do this or that and invit’d to such and such an occasion; yet I might have relisht a little time before I was whirl’d into the frenzie of the Season.

So I am considering over what I should desire attend, and matters where I might perchance return a civil refusal, when Hector comes and says, there are two ladies come wondering if you might be receiving company.

That, says I, depends most entirely upon what ladies they are.

Hector smiles a little and says, 'tis Mrs N- and Miss A-.

Why, says I, you may send 'em up here at once, and desire coffee, and any buns or such that Euphemia may have upon hand: but she is to send Celeste and not be about carrying trays and running up and down stairs herself.

Hector sighs a little and says, perchance does My Ladyship give the order she will obey, and goes.

A very little while later he shows in to my fine library my dear old friends, who come up and kiss me and exclaim upon how well I look –

See, says Mrs N-, turning to Miss A-, I told you that she was not fallen into a consumption and come home to dye, has been entirely set up by that Mediterranean sun that you say Lady J- speaks so well of –

- indeed, she goes on, turning back to me, Mr H- was poo-pooing the notion that you were in the least out of health to Mr N-; said he thought you lookt a little troubl’d in spirits afore you went away, thought it might be some difficulty to do with your property in those parts. Felt himself entire confirm’d in his hypothesis when Mr MacD- went out to join you.

Why, says I, indeed there were a number of matters to do with the late Marquess’s property out there, but a deal of the reason for my departure was the pleasure of the Contessa’s company, that I fear we may not see again in Town.

Alas, says Mrs N-, did she not give quite the finest ridotti?

Miss A- has been looking about my library and my books and goes crying out upon some fine volumes I have of works of renown’d dramatists.

But you and Mr N- are entire well? and you, dear rogue, how do you?

I am assur’d that Mr N- is in excellent fine condition, that Mr J- is likewise, and that matters at the theatre get on – Miss A- does not risk fate by saying they go well, but offers that they are not as bad as might be.

Comes Celeste with coffee and what I observe to be fine scones quite hot from the oven.

But, says Miss A-, you may not have heard yet, having only just return’d to Town, Lady J- is in happy anticipation of a pledge; and she goes about very carefull in the matter after the unhappy business last time, and will rest very conscientious, and not go rattling up and down to Hampshire but have Mr S- come call upon her with reports –

You will tell me next she has give up brangling with the orphanage ladies!

Alas, says Miss A- with somewhat of a pout, even does one urge that cannot be good for her, cannot bring herself to abandon the orphanage. But she brings on that pretty little dumpling Lady D- as her deputy in the matter, will send her to their meetings with instructions, seems as if answers.

I confide that you knew all about this, says Mrs N- with a meaningfull look, but Lady D-'s sister, that was a prize heiress upon the marriage market, has gone marry a parson - but 'tis give out that he is a fellow of great learning and has a deal of interest and will shortly go in to a very fine living in the Marquess of O-'s disposal.

Why, says I, I think you may have met him, was about a little among our circle, would come up from his Surrey parish to attend meetings of learn’d fellows &C.

And Miss R- still does well, and her babe? I go on.

Miss A- laughs somewhat immoderate and says, she may not have marry’d her devot’d fop Danvers D-, but they go live a most regular life: he has took more extensive lodgings, his mama, that entirely doats upon the child, comes live with 'em, Mr W- continues part of the household, little Puggsiekins goes brangle somewhat with his progenitor, but otherwise 'tis quite the conversation piece of domestick harmony.

I laugh myself.

But my dear! cries Mrs N-, I daresay you were away when this on-dit first start’d, that that sad dull fellow Lord K- goes pay his addresses to Mrs D- K-, she goes about now a little in Society but conducts herself very quiet and well-behav’d – tho’ I daresay that does little enough against the gossip upon her for matters that came about during her marriage. Is still companion to the dreadfull crocodile, that one supposes thinks any fine match the widow K- makes will redound to her own credit so makes more amiable in the matter than one might anticipate. Mrs D- K- must feel herself entire 'twixt Scylla and Charybdis, with the prospect of Lady T- as mother-in-law. She goes show civil and in good ton, does not go about to deliver the cut, 'tis quite remarkable, but sure one would be quite terrify’d.

I say that she has want’d to get Lord K- marry’d again these several years and perchance grows desperate, and is glad that at last his whimsickal fancy lights upon any at all.

Mrs N- sniggers and says, well, he is getting his gratification without he takes any lady to church to have and to hold, &C. Sure Mrs O'C- must do very well out of him.

I can see her then go consider upon current on-dits, and say, Lady Z- does not go wear the willow for her depart’d Neapolitan cavalier servente - is seen much in the company of Mr Edward M-.

Why, says I, I was like to think Sir H- display’d excellent ton in the matter of Reynaldo di S-: for is a fellow with a deal of business upon his hands, cannot take his wife about as she might desire, there can be no harm does some young fellow go squire her around and sigh upon her a little.

Hmmm, says Mrs N-, one hears that matters are give out thus in Italy and 'tis an understood thing, but I am not sure 'tis a custom fully apprehend’d by fellows of our nation.

But, she says, she dares say her own cavalier servente is at the theatre, wondering where she can be, and offers to Miss A- that they may go along together.

Miss A- says that she will be along in a little while, since 'tis not yet time that rehearsal was call’d, but would desire enjoy a little further conversation with Lady B-, that has not been seen in these parts for so very long.

My dear! says I, one would think I had journey’d to the antipodes, circumnavigat’d the great southern continent, and then made the voyage back, rather than past a few months at Naples.

But, o! cries Miss A-, it indeed felt like an age.

Mrs N- laughs and says she will be getting along (I daresay there is some fine adulterous f-----g in a dressing-room in her immediate future).

Miss A- says, that their revival of The Gypsy’s Curse did so well in Harrogate that they revive it in Town; but, dear Lady B-, I wisht open to you, do you know whether the dramatist goes write anything else, whether it be from a novel or some original play like unto A Husband’s Malignity? Mr P- did offer a play out of The Sorceress but 'twas sorry stuff – would have requir’d a deal of work – Mr J- turn’d it down and Mr P- goes take a pet.

Why, says I, I have been out of my wont’d circles but I will go ask about does any know aught in the matter (for indeed, during my travels I complet’d a stage version of The Antiquarian’s Daughter and embarkt upon an entire original play in which some may recognize certain late scandals).

She also looks at my volumes of plays and says, sure there are some excellent fine parts in those old plays, but she confides that there is also a deal of coarseness unsuit’d to modern taste.

'Tis so, says I, and am not sure could readyly be cut without deleterious effect.

She sighs, and then says, was a further matter she desir’d open to me, but she sees it comes on towards the time for rehearsal, must away.

This leaves me in a little perturbation.

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'Tis indeed agreeable to ride my lovely Jezzie-girl again, and to have so many come up to me and exclaim about how very well I look – and tho’ they do not say anything, there are a deal of glances go to quite how admirable my riding-habit fits, as well as ever did.

But when I return to R- House, I mind that 'tis some while since I have been on horseback: but Docket has been entire beforehand of me in the matter and has bespoke a bath of fine hot water that I may soak in, most exceeding pleasant.

Because 'tis Liberty Hall and I am entire one of the family, I do not dress too exceptional fine for family dinner, and wear my string of pretty corals rather than my more splendid jewels.

Before we dine, while we are sat in the family room, Patty comes and says that Miss Flora is in desire for her sleepy wombatt, and 'tis entire delightfull to me to go to my precious child and snuggle and kiss until she falls asleep.

At dinner Josh sits down at my side and begins grumble about dancing-class, 'tis an entire bore and he does not see why 'tis at all necessary –

Meg snorts and says, sure, does he wish to be one of those hobbledehoys that goes trample his partner’s feet and bang into other couples, there is no necessity to go to dancing-class –

Do you, goes on Bess, desire to dance only with wombatts - was you not endeavouring waltz with the creature t’other day? – I daresay you might need no classes, but do you ever come to some occasion when you might be expect’d to dance with young ladies, 'tis quite entire necessary.

I laugh a little and say, were these the young ladies that sigh’d and groan’d when 'twas put forward that they should go to dancing class?

Josh says, there are a deal of girls, that go titter -

Vulgar creatures, says Bess, do you point 'em out to me and I will go give 'em a set-down.

Josiah says that he hopes that she will confine herself to a verbal set-down and not resort to that puglilistick art that has been notic’d she goes practice in the conservatory.

Bess says that she cannot see why girls may not learn the puglilistick art.

Why, says I, I confide 'tis because gentlemen would be extreme abasht did they have one of the fairer sex draw their cork for 'em.

O, 'tis entire delightfull to be among 'em all again, and I look around 'em very happy.

And then later, when I am in my fine reserv’d chamber, come my very dearest darlings and we are all a little tearfull together, for has been too long since we were together in triangle and 'tis a very happy thing to be remet at last.

And our dearest, says Eliza, does not need to go tell us how she contriv’d dispose of that monster, we are entire appriz’d, and sure I would have done the like myself.

Josiah says that he confides that the reason why ladies are not taught the pugilistick art is because they would go be most exceeding ferocious.

Why, was’t a fellow the like of that, 'twould be only natural, says Eliza. She takes my hand and kisses it and Josiah does the like with the other.

But I hope never to have to do the like again, says I.

And then we cease talking and are about other matters.

Oh, that I might be with my darlings always, but alas, ‘twould be somewhat that Society would look at most askance.

The next morn come the children for a chocolate-party levée, 'tis quite the charmingest thing, and they go complain on me for being away, and say why do I not stay for a good long visit, and the mongoose comes investigate me, and my precious child goes snuggle with me in wakefull wombatt fashion.

And she stays with me while I dress, altho’ Bess says 'tis time for her to go to the schoolroom – sure, she adds, I am glad I shall not have to go out as a governess.

Docket and Sophy look upon my sweet Flora very doating.

My beloved wild girl Eliza is already busy at her desk when I go to the family room, holding my lovely child’s hand. She looks at us very fond, and goes ring for one to bring me some breakfast.

My jewel is mind’d to help me consume this, so that I am not oblig’d to eat all that has been sent up. Mittens also comes over with a view to aiding me in this task.

And I am just drinking the last of my coffee, that is somewhat I do not share with Flora, when Meg comes say, sure 'tis time Flora came to the schoolroom, and takes her away, and on her heels comes a footman to say that Hector has come and desires see Lady B-.

O, says I, looking towards Eliza, sure he may come up.

When he goes away, I say in some concern that I hope 'tis no ill news.

Eliza laughs and says, she is like to think that 'tis entirely to say that all is in order for your return, and I daresay that you could have gone straight home for they were entire in readyness.

Indeed, when comes Hector, that is looking exceeding well, and not in the least as if the house caught on fire or was assail’d by burglars, and his burden is entirely that the house is ever ready for my return.

Why, says I, then you may send Ajax with my carriage as soon as maybe and I will return to my own roof; but, Hector, pray tell me at once how all is within the household, and how Euphemia does.

Hector grins mightyly and says that Euphemia does excellent well, tho’ will complain 'tis a lively child that goes kick considerable. But she will sit down and direct Celeste –

I am pleas’d to hear it, says I, for I mind on what a task we found it to make Seraphine do the like before Julius’ birth. But all is well with all the household?

Entirely, he says, and there is now another undermaid, Polly, from among their connexion, goes get into the good practices of the household. Nell comes on exceedingly. And, he goes on, mayhap 'tis not his place to communicate this intelligence, but Titus and Tibby are mind’d to wed, but that Tibby would not go to church without Her Ladyship and Docket are there to witness the ceremony and attend the breakfast.

O, says I, then they may go to church as soon as maybe, and – mayhap Her Grace has some thoughts upon the business, for she is most extreme attacht to Tibby, but sure do they wish to have the breakfast in my reception-room, indeed I should be exceeding delight’d.

Hector nods and says, he is in some supposition that they would desire have it there, that has fond memories.

(I am amuz’d at this, for I recall when Tibby would go about snubbing Titus for his presumption, when he was but the boot-boy and most unpolisht, and she was learning upon being a fine lady’s maid under Docket.)

Well, says I, let it be so, and mayhap one might ask Seraphine to lend a hand in the preparations, for otherwise I daresay Euphemia will be quite done up.

He says that that is a prudent thought, and they are entire us’d to one another in a kitchen. (I daresay he minds that 'tis proverbial that two cooks in the same kitchen will go brangle.) But, he says, while he is here he was in purpose to convey a little instruction in the pugilistick art to the little boys, by our leave?

That would be exceeding kind, says Eliza, for they greatly relish it. And I will just go summon 'em from nursery and schoolroom, and as 'tis fine the morn, may undertake the business on the terrace.

After she has gone I look at Hector and say, is’t true that all is entire well?

He nods, and says, quite entire well. He lately saw Mr Johnson at their club, and he would be desirous of a word at some time with Your Ladyship, but I confide that was it any heavy matter or a need for caution, as it might be watchers about the place, he would have convey’d it to me even did he not tell the whole. No, I am like to suppose that he wishes assure Your Ladyship that all’s well.

Why, says I, I am pleas’d to hear it, for he is one that has a deal of sources of intelligence about Town.

A very good fellow, says Hector, that is one that sure does not give praise lightly.

Returns Eliza, that says the boys are all run down to the terrace and making those preliminary movements that he adviz’d ‘em.

Hector takes his leave to be about this task.

So, Docket and Sophy have my trunks packt ready for departure, and I take a somewhat tearfull leave of my darlings and their family – but, sure, am I assur’d there are no watchers my dearest loves may come visit discreet for triangular matters.

And I arrive at my pretty house, that is not so little as us’d to be, but still shines and sparkles from good tending, and I go in at my own front door, and Hector bows, and takes my hat and gloves and cloak, and shows me into my pretty parlour.

And o, 'tis still my own pretty parlour: I do not see blood streaming down the walls, or a phantasmick figure of Mr R- O-. There is still my pretty desk that Josiah had made for me, and Sir Z- R-'s painting of me in my Hindoo rubies, and the portrait of General Y-'s dear bibi and the little statue of the lady that rides upon a tiger, and my cabinet of china, and a new china cabinet for pieces that were not offer’d to open negotiations for my favours, and there are books upon the shelves. And there are the chairs, and the sopha where I rompt some several times with Biffle, and upon which Josiah and I inadvertent begot darling Flora. Feels quite entire exorciz’d of any lingering ill miasma.

Then comes Euphemia with tea and some particular fine cakes, and I look at her, that manifests Hector’s full tilth and husbandry, and say, sure you should not be carrying that, put it down at once, twixt laughter and tears.

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Docket informs me that I must go visit Mamzelle Bridgette as soon as maybe, for here we are back in Town, the Season well under way, and my wardrobe in the greatest need of furbishing up in the latest styles.

La, says I, I fear that do I go about in Society I shall garner the reputation of a sad dowd, for while I confide that we have substantial interest with Biddy Smith, she cannot conjure up new gowns overnight. But indeed, while I might go seclude myself like an odalisque in a seraglio until all is in readyness, yet 'tis most material to me to go about and be seen somewhat, to show that I am entire in the pink of health, and to confound any malicious rumours that I am gone with child.

Docket looks at me a little exasperat’d and says, sure My Ladyship would never be taken for a dowd, and she dares say that between 'em she and Sophy will contrive with what we have upon hand, but she thinks quite entirely of my consequence as a leader of fashion -

I laugh and say, and your consequence as the one that dresses me!

Comes in Sophy saying, look at these two pretty girls! – for she has been keeping Flora and Hannah occupy’d whilst I dress with various matters of lotions and scent’d waters and ribbons to their hair. 'Tis the charmingest sight.

Why, says I, let us go show off these ladies of fashion to their mamas.

I find my dearest Eliza in the kitchens discoursing with Seraphine, that greets me very warm. They exclaim upon Flora and Hannah. I observe that Joseph still keeps in a little pen in a quiet corner. Seraphine looks over at him and says with a smile, sure 'tis nearly time that he goes join the nursery set.

And, says I, I hear that Julius and Hannah are embarkt upon their education?

She smiles again and says, 'tis so, and come on very pleasing. And then says, but sure you must be entire starving, Your Ladyship, do you go upstairs and I will send you a nice little breakfast as soon as maybe.

O poo, says I, you go talk household business together, sure I might wait.

Indeed not, says Eliza. Let us go convey these fashion-plates to the schoolroom, and then go sit in the family room.

So we do as she says, and I go have a very fine breakfast and a deal of coffee, and Eliza looks at me very fond, and then sighs and says, she quite apprehends that I must very shortly be about going to my own house –

O, indeed, my darling: but in my little note to Hector said I should not be there afore the morrow at the earlyest.

We look at one another very warm. My dearest, says I, sure I should not rush away before we have had time to renew our vows, but I confide that however much I should like to remain, I should return to my own house, display myself at home, go about making calls &C.

Eliza sighs and says, she quite sees the wisdom in that course, but indeed, they have misst their belov’d third very much.

And I have misst my wild girl and our Grand Turk most exceedingly.

We stretch out our hands to one another and clasp 'em.

She then sighs again and says, 'tis her day for convoking with Mrs Wilkins, so she will away to her formal chamber for such matters. But I should mind that this is entire Liberty Hall and I am quite one of the family-

Why, says I, I have not yet properly said hello to my sweet Jezzie-girl – what an excellent idea that was to have Bess ride her –

Eliza laughs and says, o, Bess is quite entire in love with her, will be sorry to give up the pleasure, tho’ I daresay we shall now have dropping of hints that she is grown too great a girl for a pony, and should have a fine horse, and is’t not give out what very fine mounts for ladies are school’d by Captain P-'s lady.

'Tis so, says I. But I shall go see can Seraphine supply me with an apple or so, first.

I find Seraphine in her little sitting-room. She sends one of the kitchenmaids to fetch me an apple. While I wait, I ask how the business of pickles and preserves goes, and Seraphine smiles considerable and says, a deal better than they ever expect’d.

Returns the kitchenmaid with several apples, saying to Seraphine, they have sent down for coffee again for the west wing, and mayhap 'tis time they should go send out for more beans?

'Tis a good thought, says Seraphine, now that Mr MacD- is back in the household. She makes a little note.

I say I can see that she is busy, and would not interrupt her labours, and take myself off to the stableyard. 'Tis most exceeding pleasing that my sweet Jezebel makes a little whickering noise when she sees me and manifests considerable welcoming, that I think is not entire due to the apples. We are renewing our acquaintance when comes into the yard Milord.

He comes over to me and says, how might he ever express his gratitude? he was in fears –

I smile and say sure reunions are quite delightfull.

We both mind that we should probably not say any more at this time and place.

Milord looks at Jezzie and says, perchance we might ride out to the Park at the fashionable hour?

'Tis a good thought, says I, do I wish display myself as in health as ever was and by no means like to be brought to bed.

He sighs and says, none have spoke to him direct upon that topick, but he knows there have been speculations.

'Tis the way of the world, says I.

And I daresay, he says, better that that is where minds go when they speculate upon Lady B-.

Why, says I, I confide that the wildest speculations when count has been lost of how many times the bottle has been round would not come at what transpir’d. Not even were they also indulging like Mr W- Y- in laughing gas or bang.

Most like! says he. There is a deal of news concerning various acquaintance but nothing, he would suppose, of any great urgency or in immediate requirement of Lady B-'s hand upon matters.

When I go down later, array’d in my riding-habit, I find that 'tis just Milord and myself ride out – I had been expecting the girls and mayhap the younger ones as well, but Bess and Meg are at dancing class, to which Josh has also begun go under somewhat of protest, and the entire nursery-set is foregather’d for the funeral of one of the dormice, that took an enterprize to escape its cage and alas, encounter’d Mittens, at which Quintus officiates. I am in fears this purports he will end up a bishop.

So we ride out in company and exchange idle gossip - Reynaldo is arriv’d at Boston where he cuts quite a figure among the Yankees. One apprehends that his companion upon the voyage is also arriv’d safe but there is no particular news. The Earl of N- is report’d at Washington and making botanizing expeditions into the woodlands and forests in those parts: sure matters within his family go a deal better now he is out of the way.

Lord A- is extreme well-suit’d in his marriage, and to great astonishment in Society, is on quite the finest terms with his father-in-law –

We come to the Park, where there is a considerable throng.

I observe that I am observ’d, raise my crop in greeting to several that go bow to me, and look about to see can I perceive any of my particular acquaintance.

Comes over at a very brisk canter what at first I suppose to be Lady O-, for she rides Blackthorn, but then see that 'tis her sister, and indeed, upon reflection I should not expect Nan to be out riding at present.

O, Lady B-! cries Em, sure has been an entire age! O, indeed you are looking well, there were those gave out that you were in a consumption -

La, says I, you are a young healthy creature and have no experience of what croakers the profession may be, giving quite the direst auguries does one feel a little pull’d down.

Indeed not, says Em, tho’ now you say that, I mind Captain C- has said somewhat to the same effect, complains that the quacks will still not pass him fit for active service.

Comes up at a more sober pace Lord U- upon Orion, greets us very civil, remarks that I am looking exceeding well and hopes that I had a pleasing sojourn at Naples. Sure there was an entire gap left in Society by my absence.

O, poo, says I, I am sure Society in the season has a deal more to think about than whether Lady B- be at the parties, balls, routs, &C.

No, indeed, says Em, there was a deal of wondering on the matter, and o, Her Grace and Lady J- went about giving the most tremendous set-downs to malicious gossips.

Lord U- laughs and says he confides there are some have crept off to Bath to take the waters to recover. Indeed Lady J- is a daunting figure even when she is not giving a tremendous set-down.

Milord groans and says, is’t not entirely so? Tho’ Admiral K- be quite entire load’d down with awards for gallantry already, one feels he deserves some special testimonial for daring wed her.

I remark that I had a brief rencontre with the Admiral when the fleet came to Naples –

Sure one would like to meet him, says Lord U-, sounds an exceeding fine fellow.

Quite the finest, says I, just as draws up to us a phaeton in which Lord A- drives out his lady, the quondam Charley B-, and both exclaim upon seeing me and how well I look. Sure, says Lord A-, now you are return’d I daresay you have a deal of invitations, but we give a musick party very shortly and should be delight’d could you honour us with your presence.

La, says I, nothing would give me more pleasure, and will Lady A- be singing?

There begins gather quite a little crowd that desires view me to see that I am neither in a consumption nor increasing.

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So I am conduct’d to the family room so that I may take tea, and I say, sure 'tis an imposition, but might I stay the night, until I am assur’d that my own house is ready to receive me?

Eliza looks at me with a little fond twist of the mouth and says, do we not ever keep a fine reserv’d chamber for Lady B-? I have instruct’d Williams to go make sure Docket goes lye down, and to give Sophy a hand with any unpacking requir’d.

(Sure I am like to suppose as they do not immediate urge me to fly the realm once more, I need be in no great apprehension of arrest.)

They recount a deal of matters that go forward with 'em and among our circle more generally. They are all well, Harry still does well in his apprenticeship, Flora comes on reading very well and is begun in arithmetick, and will not be deny’d to have Hannah with her in the schoolroom, and Miss N- thought she would just play quietly, but no, she comes along to read too. And Julius also comes have lessons.

And o, says Bess, Ajax came tell us that 'twould be best could someone give Jezebel a little exercize while you were away, so we have had her in the stables here and I go ride her when we go out –

Eliza laughs and says, serves exceeding well, for Quintus now goes ride Boots and Flora begins her equestrian education upon Mouse, while Josh rides Brandy and Meg Dapple. Is inclin’d to think that instead of soliciting a first pony from Captain P- and his lady, they should be in consideration of a horse for Bess.

Indeed, says I, 'tis very sensible, if Quintus goes outgrow Mouse.

And, oh, cries Meg, 'tis give out that Lady J- goes with child.

Eliza smiles and says, indeed, and goes very well with her, has been very prudent about resting and not over-doing. And Lady O- also goes increase.

O! I cry, when I saw the Admiral he said they were in hopes. But how go Phoebe and Lucile? And Euphemia?

Oh, says Eliza, Lucile is entire flourishing and so is Phoebe, and Euphemia is entire well. Indeed, I can think of nothing that goes entire aft aglay even without Lady B-'s hand upon it.

La, says I, perchance I should have stay’d at Naples.

Eliza and Josiah look at me very fond and say, but o, the deal of questions – how does she do? when do you anticipate she may return? surely she will not go settle upon the Marquess’s property? – from all quarters. Indeed you have been misst.

Hah, says I, I daresay I shall be an entire stranger do I endeavour re-enter Society after having been absent so long.

Indeed not, says Eliza.

Sophy comes with the box in which I have packt presents and I go distribute 'em to squeals of pleasure. My precious darling comes climb upon my lap to bestow kisses.

Eliza says, sure we are all most extreme glad to see dear Aunty C- back safe from her travels and in health, but I confide that she has been coopt up in a coach all day, and is somewhat tir’d and should be give a little peace.

Indeed, tho’ 'tis so very pleasant to be among 'em all again, should indeed be gratefull of a little period of calm.

Eliza says, she will go bespeak Seraphine for a little light supper for me so that I may go to bed betimes – and she thought Sophy lookt a little weary, should not be kept up late.

So she goes about this, and the children go to the schoolroom and the nursery, or, in the case of Josh, the menagerie, leaving me with Josiah.

He comes take my hand and says, confides their darling third is entire too tir’d for triangle, but, would convey, while we are alone, that there have been no consequences, no questioning, no watchers, I do not need to fret about being arraign’d at the Old Bailey -

He presses a kiss upon my hand. Ever dearest of all C-s, he says. Sure we were in a very great fret about you, but indeed, could understand your desire to get away from your accustom’d round for a while.

O, says I, I so greatly misst my darlings. I should quite long to stay here, but confide 'twould look particular did I linger further than 'twould take to ensure my own house is in order to receive me –

Josiah laughs and says he confides that Hector has made quite sure that my house is ready to receive me whensoever I might return, but indeed, the generality will quite believe the tale. He dares say I should send a little note, tho’ he has not’d that such news blows by some means like unto thistledown 'twixt the two establishments.

Indeed, says I, I would anticipate that Seraphine or Jerome will have found some means to communicate the matter by now. But if I might have the needfull, would indite a little note telling Hector when they may expect me.

So I go sit at Eliza’s desk and write my note, and Josiah rings for a footman to convey it, and then I go lean back in an easy chair and close my eyes a little, for indeed I find myself tir’d from my journeyings.

But then comes Patty to say Miss Flora desires her sleepy wombatt, even tho’ has been told that Aunty C- is very like too weary to be a wombatt.

La, says I, I may be a wombatt goes sleep before she does, but I will come along.

So I go to the nursery and snuggle with my sweet Flora, that is in some disposition to convey a deal of news to me, but at last sleeps. I look down at my darling child and feel somewhat tearfull.

But Eliza comes find me and says, I should come take a little supper, and then go to bed, for tho’ I look entire in restor’d health, she can see that I am nigh exhaust’d.

So I take a little supper and a sanitive glass of madeira, and then Eliza comes with me to my fine reserv’d chamber.

I will not linger, my darling, but o, dearest of C-s – she kisses me very warm – we are so very glad to see you again. For we were in a little concern that you might do somewhat foolish -

(Why, thinks I, they were not entire wrong, when I think how reckless I conduct’d myself in Naples. But 'tis not the time to open that business to her, I confide.)

Oh, poo, says I, there’s a foolish wild girl. Sure I daresay I now have the reputation of being a teazing flirt in Neapolitan society, but there were no passages -

But you saw the Admiral? asks Eliza.

Indeed so, but I do not count the renewal of antient friendship as passages.

Eliza smiles and says, cannot suppose an encounter with the Admiral did me anything but a deal of good.

I rest my head upon her shoulder and say, you do know, do you not, my darling, who are dearest to my heart?

She strokes my hair and says, she likes to suppose they have the preference.

But, she goes on, I see our lovelyest of C-s goes droop and will leave you to Sophy’s tender care.

We kiss, and she leaves, and I stand for a moment 'twixt smile and tears, and then go into the dressing-room. Comes in Sophy, that says she was just seeing did Docket rest peacefull, and sure, she breathes entire regular and quiet.

'Tis extreme delightfull to have my stays unlac’d and my hair brusht out, and to slip into my fine large bed, and tell Sophy that she should go sleep herself.

And I sleep extreme well, and do not have any nightmare, and 'tis well on in the forenoon when Sophy comes with my chocolate.

So I sit up and sip at it, and there is a little noise of scuffling and giggling outside the door and I desire Sophy go see what 'tis.

And come tumbling in at the door my precious Flora along with Hannah, and comes scramble up onto the bed to rub noses in the fashion of wakefull wombatts, 'tis the sweetest most delightfull thing even is there some peril of oversetting my chocolate.

My little jewel comes sit beside me and pats the place next to her for Hannah, and I give 'em both little sips of my chocolate, while Flora tells me of all that is ado with her.

And next comes to the door in somewhat of a flurry Bess, that says that in the absence of Miss N-, that is, Mrs L- as she is now, she and Meg go listen to the little ones read, and look over their writing, and hear 'em their times-table &C, but there in the schoolroom was only Quintus and Julius showing very diligent. So she bethought that this naughty creature would have come bother her Aunty C-, and prevail’d upon Hannah to do the like, and came fetch 'em away.

Flora clings to my arm and pouts at Bess.

O, says I, 'tis extreme delightfull to have their company, might they not stay with me a little and then come be dutyfull scholars?

Bess endeavours look severe and elder-sisterly, but then smiles very doating at Flora and Hannah, and says, sure, she confides that they will be in too much of an excitement to mind their books. And sure there would have been the usual levée had Mama not said very severe that you must be let sleep, for you had not only been all day on the road from Dover, but still somewhat knockt-up from the Channel crossing.

'Twas so, says I, a very nasty crossing. But I am well-rest’d now.

Bess says that perchance one day they will come at balloons that might traverse the Channel, she and Harry and Tom O- had a deal of talk concerning balloons when Harry came over Christmastide.

I say that with the gusty winds I fear balloons would be blown quite awry.

Comes Sophy to say that there is hot water in the dressing-room, and to smile very doating at the little girls.

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I go look out upon the Channel and remark that looks exceeding rough, and that I confide we should wait and see does it go become calmer shortly.

Docket says somewhat tart that 'tis only a Channel crossing, she dares says that provid’d she may lye down she will contrive to bear the ordeal.

I say that I am in some concern for myself, sure I am a reasonable good sailor but indeed the Channel crossing is entire not’d for its great turbulence.

Docket snorts; but indeed I should prefer to cross in smoother weather.

Sandy says that if wind and tide are adverse, ships will not put out anyway. He will go down to the harbour and see what the state of affairs is, and is like to suppose that there may be those about the place that have a weather-eye and can tell whether 'twill improve very shortly.

He returns in due course and says, cannot contrive to a crossing today, but the morrow, tho’ may be somewhat of a blow, will be a cutter or two sets out for Dover.

Well, says I, let us see does this fine inn that has provid’d us a fine parlour to sit in, also have bedchambers so that we may stay the night.

And indeed, I confide that the colour of our gold is entire acceptable to 'em, and we are provid’d two fine bedchambers and a dressing-room and may also have the parlour.

Sure I find myself in somewhat of a fret now that we are so near home and yet may not at once proceed upon our journey, and go look out of the windows that the rain goes lash against, and sigh a little.

And Sandy looks somewhat agitat’d, and then I say, even did we attain to Dover, should have to spend a night there I daresay, tho’ I confide that there will be some coach can convey us to Town without we delay yet another day.

I take an opportunity to ask Sophy as discreet as maybe how Docket does, to which Sophy responds that she bears up very well, does not go conceal any breathlessness or such, is in good spirits as much as one may be while traveling in a foreign land.

So I think do weather and tide favour we may depart the morrow.

As we go to bed the e’en and I am about to blow out the candle, Sandy says in sombre tones that he supposes 'twould ill befit a philosopher not to return with us, or to leave us once we reach Town –

Indeed 'twould, says I, I do not think you a coward.

I will confess, I am faint at heart at the thought of returning.

Poo, says I, sure 'twill be quite the return of the prodigal, and I confide that Seraphine has many fine receipts for fatt’d calf -

- but I see the expression upon his face and say, sure I am a silly creature that speaks all mirth and no matter, but I am entire like to think you will be welcome.

Why, he says, with an endeavour to look more chearfull, I daresay 'twill count in my favour that I bring back the lost treasure of all hearts in R- House.

I say very firm that I should desire a good night’s rest afore crossing the Channel, and blow out the candle.

But as I lye down a hand creeps take mine and Sandy says, you would still be my friend, should – ?

I squeeze his hand and say, I would still be your friend, whatever comes.

And the morn the weather is not so severe, tho’ 'tis still windy, and we go board for the crossing.

'Tis still very rough, and I draw a veil over the voyage.

Indeed we are in no inclination to quite immediate seek out the next London coach once we are arriv’d at Dover but go find a good inn where we may put Docket, that protests somewhat, to bed with her drops and then go drink a deal of tea, with a little brandy to’t, in the parlour we have bespoke. We have also took the thought that 'tis time to cease the masquerade of matrimony, for there are those may recognize one or other of us and go create scandal.

After we have somewhat recover’d, and Sandy no longer looks green, he says he will go walk to the coaching station – for a little fresh air, provid’d 'tis combin’d with ground that stays steady beneath his feet, would be entire sanitive – and discover when the coaches depart and if necessary reserve places.

Are you sure, my dear? He nods, and leaves.

I go have Sophy take off my travelling garments, brush out my hair, wipe my face with aromatick water &C, and consider that I should see about the matter of dinner, for the thought of food is no longer a thing I am unable contemplate.

Returns Sandy to say, took the thought that we might hire a private conveyance and has bespoke one that will come take us up from here the morn.

'Tis an excellent notion, says I, let us be as comfortable and expeditious as we may now we are in our native land.

I see Sandy in some disposition to dispute that we are in his native land, so I then go on to inform him concerning the arrangements for dining.

Next morn we are away betimes and sure 'tis entire better to have a private carriage than to be cramm’d together with who knows who in the stage, in particular do I consider Docket, that still looks not entire well, tho’ there is no wheezing.

'Tis a good road and the driver keeps up a spanking pace and contrives the changes most expeditious. But we do not go so fast that I may not observe the passing countryside, that is breaking out in green, and lambs that go gambol in the fields about their mothers. And I mind that I have been absent in the spring from my belov’d springtime child. I sigh.

What, says Sandy, melancholick?

I go recite to him the sonnet I think of.

As we come closer to Town I begin feel a certain apprehension about my heart as to whether I shall truly be entire welcome in my return to my darlings; or, indeed, whether, in my absence, all is discover’d and I shall be haul’d to prison and try’d.

I take Sandy’s hand and squeeze it. He squeezes it in return, for I am in supposition that he has a like apprehension.

Docket tells me not to gnaw upon my lip in that unbecoming fashion.

But indeed, we are at last come to R- House, where the coachman has been instruct’d to take us into the stableyard – for are there any visitors, would not wish to be observ’d and the topick of speculations do we draw up before either front door.

Sandy and I look at one another and swallow visibly.

La, says I, I daresay my own pretty house is in such condition that one might go there, if turn’d away from the doors here.

The coach door opens and I go step out, to find my hand in dearest Josiah’s that helps me down.

Lady B-, he says, we are glad to see you return’d in such health.

And I, says I, am exceeding glad to be return’d.

We mind that our hands are still claspt tho’ now I am stood quite steady upon the cobbles, and drop 'em apart.

Rushes up to me my darling wild girl, and for one moment I am in some fears that she will go box my ears as she did Josh when he ran away, but she falls upon my neck and I think sobs a little.

There is a tugging at my skirts and I look down to see my little goddess of the spring, that desires kiss me, o, 'tis the prettyest thing and my eyes are exceeding damp.

And come up only a little in the rearward Bess, Meg, Josh and Quintus, and all gather round, and exclaim, and remark that I do not look as tho’ I have been ill -

La, says I, sure the airs of the South may be very restorative –

I look about for I would have anticipat’d that Miss N- would have come too, if only in giving chase when her pupils of a sudden levant’d.

O, cries Bess, Miss N- has gone marry Mr L-! and they take a little wedding trip to Lyme Regis, will be back within the se’ennight, and o, they go live here in their own set of rooms, is’t not a prime thing?

I confide, says I, that there will have been a deal of changes since I quit Town.

Really, Lady B-, says Josiah, one would suppose you had been in a seven years’ exile rather than not quite so many months.

La, says I, I know how fast matters may move in Town.

'Tis so, says Eliza, that still holds my arm as if I might vanish did she not, here is Miss S- already marry’d to the Reverend Mr L-, and they go on a very fine wedding trip to the continent, where Mr L- has introductions to certain libraries and collectors, and there is a very fine living in prospect from Lord O- on his return –

At this moment appears under the arch into the stableyard Milord. I look behind me and see that Sandy, that has been engag’d in handing down Docket and Sophy, has not yet emerg’d himself from the carriage. I see that he begins come out, backwards, looking about to ensure nothing has been left within.

I look back to see that Milord’s face has quite lit up, and then he schools it into an expression more proper to a gentleman of rank whose valu’d secretary returns to the household.

Sandy straightens up and turns around and his gaze meets Milord’s. They move towards one another – with a considerable deliberation that I confide conceals their mutual desire to run -

Why, MacD-, says Milord, giving a clap of manly affection upon his shoulder, I am most heartyly glad to see you return’d safe and bringing your sheaves with you.

He comes over to bow over my hand. Indeed we have misst Lady B-.

Why, says Eliza, let us not stand about here but go take tea, and I daresay that there will be ale for the coachman in the kitchen.

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Since we go make this leisurely progress across France, seems only reasonable to pause to make some observation of sights of interest upon our way, viz: palaces, bridges, ruins of antiquity, chateaux &C. I commence upon keeping a Travel Journal with the thought that mayhap I might turn these observations into pieces for Mr L-'s newspaper. Indeed the slow pace of our journey is such that I require some occupation to pass the time without I become distract’d and fretfull. For I think of my precious child and my darlings and how very long 'tis since I have seen 'em.

So I go visit sights of interest so that I may stretch my legs, and write up the travel journal, and ponder upon turning what the Contessa told me of her earlier life into a fine tale, and read such books as I have to hand, and gaze upon the scene as it passes, and all does not quite come about to distract my mind entirely from worries.

For, besides being in such great impatience to see those dearest to my heart, I am in some concern about the designs of the Earl of I-, that would have desir’d bend me to his purposes. And tho’ he was like to condemn Mr R- O-'s methods of proceeding, instead applying persuasive flattery concerning my talents and my love of my own nation to entice me to the matter, yet I was still not given to trust his overtures. I fear he may renew his suit upon my return.

I am also in some fear that, altho’ he assert’d that Mr R- O- was very close and kept his secrets to himself, that if they go search, as they are like to do has Mr R- O- gone disappear, one or another will come across some place where he had hid the matter concerning the secrets he had ferret’d out. Sure 'twas careless of me not to take a consideration of that likelyhood, for perchance I might have prevail’d upon Matt Johnson to make covert enquiries as to the places Mr O- was wont to frequent in life where he might have conceal’d this trove.

But sure, shooting a fellow will mightyly shake one’s system and disturb one’s thoughts, even does one not go about seeing phantasms and sleep-walking &C, and I confide I was not quite myself after I did the deed. Did not the dear Contessa mark somewhat of the kind?

I am also in some perturbation that I discern some likeness 'twixt myself and Mr R- O-, for do I not hold secrets? Have I not on occasion employ’d my knowledge of secrets to bring about influence upon one or t’other to proceed in some matter or other? Worries me considerable.

Indeed, frets me so much that one night while Sandy and I go read in bed, afore we blow out the candles, I open my concerns to him that I am like unto Mr R- O-.

He puts down his book ('tis somewhat in French) and stares at me. Dearest C-, sure I did once make some comparison 'twixt you and the Marquise in Dangerous Connexions, was’t not in the matter of the quondam Mr G-? - but indeed, you are as her mirror-image and desire contrive to bring about felicity -

'Tis not always so, says I. Have been those to whom I had no desire to convey felicity and I daresay consider me quite the villainess, as with that dreadfull fellow -

- you surely do not place any weight on the opinion of that lunatick bigamist, or Miss M-, Mrs E- as she may still be now and her husband, or Lord N- -

Mayhap not, but I caus’d some injury to Molly Binns –

- that some kind benefactor that wishes go incognito gave the means to set up a very promising line in hats, Matt Johnson told me. Dear sibyl, I have not observ’d you go ferret out secrets that persons would rather not have known: 'tis that your friends will come offer to you their secrets, because of your wise judgement and your extreme discretion.

O, you flattering weasel!

You do not merely keep secrets: you protect 'em. Do you suppose us ungratefull for your contrivances –

- o, poo. Have you not ever been quite the best of friends to me?

I confide that the late Mr O- did not have friends and would not have understood the word.

Why, I daresay you have the right of it. But –

Have I not had a deal of time to ponder upon our friendship, having nigh brought it to ruin? And the thought has come to me that there are those that, finding Docket’s health fail somewhat, would have turn'd her off, oh, mayhap would have found some almshouse or such so that she was not thrown upon the parish, but would not be about keeping her in her place, having some younger woman that can take the heavyer matters out of her hand, being, I doubt not, at the expense of procuring tincture of foxglove, and daresay at some time had her lookt over by some crack physician of the College (for indeed I have never told him Docket’s secret and why she may not be lookt over by medical fellows).

O, says I, sure I think 'twould kill Docket to have to give up working. And sure, her capacities in her position are very widely appreciat’d, it takes a deal from my mind that I do not have to spend time puzzling over what I should wear for some particular occasion or what is in the crack this season.

There are those, goes on Sandy, say you are quite foolish kind and generous to your people in general.

O, poo, says I. Before I was in the state I am now, 'twas a most material matter to me to be well-serv’d – to dress exceeding well, to have a fine cook, and an impressive manservant to the door, &C. And when I was in that former state, 'twas needfull to recompense 'em for serving in a household some might turn up their noses at, and also so that they would not go disclose intelligence to sneaking scandalmonging fellows, or take bribes to advance the interest of fellows I was not inclin’d to. 'Twas, as dear Josiah remarkt, a prudent matter of business, and they were entire essential to the success of the enterprize.

I smile as I recall when dear Josiah found me trying to make up my accounts in my pretty sitting-room and puzzling over 'em with a frown on my pretty face as I try’d put the various bills and notes in order; and then went out and commission’d me my fine pretty desk and provid’d me with ledgers and a little instruction on keeping accounts more systematick.

Sandy says that he had never give thought to the matter, but of course he sees now that 'twas indeed a very prudential course – he himself takes the thought that there was a matter of sleeping on the truckle bed in the dressing-room that it was best not have bruit’d about.

Entirely, says I. Not, I go on, that I had any supposition that there would be anything come of sharing my bed, but Milord – 'twas most exceeding pretty in him – did not wish that I should be disturb’d should he have his nightmare.

Also, says I somewhat thoughtfull, I think being abed with a woman was like to bring back unhappy memories of the time when his father was introducing women into his bed will-he nil-he, and would cause him to sleep very uneasy.

Sandy sighs deeply and says, that wretch of a father of his: is’t not entire to G-'s credit that he is in no way of the like?

Quite entirely, says I.

But, he goes on, we digress somewhat, and I was thinking of the very fine loyalty your household manifests.

La, says I, we have become as 'twere quite a family.

I surmize, says Sandy with somewhat of a grin, that cannot have been anything the like with the late Mr O-. Daresay he was a fellow liv’d at one club or another, and did not even have his own valet.

'Tis most like, says I with a sigh. But, my dear, I did not mean to keep you up all hours discoursing upon household matters, and you may blow out the candle whenever you like.

Sandy reaches across, takes my hand and squeezes it. Dearest silly creature and wisest of women, is’t not an office of friendship as you have so often done for me?

O, poo, says I, do you go blow out the candle, and we may go sleep.

Sure indeed this conjugal masquerade is more agreeable and less embarrassing than I had fear’d.

We also take occasion to convoke over my intention to write up the Contessa’s adventures so that they may make a most thrilling novel.

Sandy says may look somewhat particular and give cause for speculations do I go set 'em during that vext period in the history of the Two Sicilies when the Contessa did such sterling service: perchance one might find some other time or place that would nevertheless convey a fine message of struggle against tyranny.

Indeed, says I, was there not some matter of an uprising against the French monarch that had been impos’d upon Sicily, some time in the Middle Ages?

Sandy looks at me in some surprize.

La, says I, heard Mr N- discourse upon the topick to Mr P-, when Mr P- was mind’d to write a novel -

Sandy sighs and says he hopes Mrs O’C- whippt Mr P- soundly until he abandon’d the notion.

I laugh and say, I confide that Mrs O’C- refusing wield her whip would be more like to bring him to obedience.

This leads Sandy into a lengthy discourse concerning the curious matter of special pleasures -

But, says I, at length, to return to French tyranny in the Middle Ages –

Why, says he, he is like to suppose that there are histories one might consult, or indeed, go ask Mr N- is he so exceeding well-inform’d upon the matter –

I groan.

Thus it is that we pass the time pleasantly enough as we traverse France, and I confide I may make a good thing out of my travel journals, but at last we are come to the Channel.

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Returns Sandy saying that he finds his facility in French proves entire adequate to our purposes, has the direction of a bank that he may visit the morn, intelligence concerning our onward travel, and has bespoke dinner.

My dear, says I, sure you might set up as a courier.

With a gloomy sigh he says, he may yet be oblig’d to. I fear he remains in doubts as to how he may be receiv’d upon his return to R- House.

We are somewhat chear’d by a very excellent dinner with some very fine wine.

We talk a little about the journey – 'twill be somewhat slow, but 'twill doubtless be best for Docket. And indeed, says Sandy with another gloomy sigh, we do not have any urgency that would require greater haste.

(Sure I myself could quite desire to be transport’d instantaneously to my darlings and my belov’d child, as if by that magic ring in my tale in the Oriental manner, but alas, 'twas but a vain imagining. And sure I should not wish imperil Docket’s health. So I will concede to a leisurely progress.)

In due course comes round time to go to bed. I go into the dressing-room so that Sophy may undress me and put on my nightgown – I have sent Docket off to bed already. Sophy remarks that these French fellows are a very saucy lot. So 'tis give out, says I, have a great conceit of their charms.

After I have dispatcht her to her own bed, I go into our bedchamber and observe that Sandy has dispos’d himself at the very far edge.

Really, Mr MacD-, says I, I can assure you that your virtue is in no danger from me.

(Tho’ indeed his conduct at the villa was so unwont’d that I have been in some concern that he may of a sudden desire undertake philosophickal and scientifick exploration of the female oeconomy.)

He says rather crossly that he entire assum’d that to be the case, but does not wish to crowd me.

I climb in at the opposite side, say good night in firm tones and desire him to extinguish the candle.

Sure I thought I was tir’d and would go sleep extreme expeditious, but find 'tis not the case. I am in somewhat of a fret about the journey. I toss about somewhat and after a little while I hear a whisper from Sandy’s side of the bed: C-, are you awake?

Yes, says I rather cross, and I confide so are you.

He sighs and says, sure he knows not whether he should return.

Why should you not? I ask.

Dearest C-, I left G- on quite the worst of terms, why should I suppose he would forgive me?

But you would wish him to?

Surely you do not suppose I am merely in anxiety over losing a most excellent place!

Well, my dear, there were certain passages at the villa, gave me somewhat to wonder.

There is a lengthy silence, but I do not suppose it is because Sandy has gone fall asleep.

At length he says, sure 'twas very agreeable, but I find did not prove what I thought it might.

La, says I, do you go tell me 'twas a philosophickal experiment?

Not entirely, says Sandy, and there is a little further silence. I daresay, he goes on, you will laugh most immoderate at me and tell me I am an entire fool, and indeed I do not think I could deny the charge. But I have been trying to convince myself that matters 'twixt G- and myself were in the nature of an entire prudential arrangement -

I bury my face in the pillow so that he does not hear me giggle.

- two fellows of the disposition, find one another mutually agreeable, have quite out of the common opportunity to indulge their inclinations provid’d they practice reasonable discretion –

O, really, Sandy, says I, 'twas quite obvious you were besott’d with one another: at least, to me who knew the inwardness of matters 'twixt the pair of you.

Sure I was - am - quite besott’d, he responds, as who would not be? He goes expatiate for some considerable time upon Milord’s excellent qualities of character and his entire superiority to himself.

I endeavour not to sigh.

My dear, says I, at length, as he shows no signs of coming to an expeditious halt in his self-accusations, he would not quarrel with you so did he not have the very warmest feelings towards you. Has ever been in considerable anxiety about you running yourself into danger. He cannot help but be gratefull that I remov’d one that put you in great peril, even does he, I daresay, go accuse himself of great carelessness in leaving that pistol with me.

Indeed, says Sandy, said somewhat of the kind, especial as he suppos’d you only intend’d to fright the fellow with it.

Poo, says I, I had desir’d Captain P- to give me a little instruction in marksmanship whilst I was staying with 'em in Northamptonshire, I was not like to think that Mr R- O- would be discourag’d by a mere gesture.

Oh, says Sandy and there is a brief silence before he goes on to argue that, whatever warmth of feelings there may have been on Milord’s side, these are doubtless quite extinguisht by his own ill behaviour. He dares say that does he return to R- House he will find his belongings tidyly packt up and ready for him to take away, doubtless any arrears of his salary paid into the bank -

Well, my dear, says I, if 'tis so, tho’ give me leave to doubt it quite extremely, I have now an excellent fine guest-chamber in my own house and you may come stay there until you have got upon your feet and into a new place.

Sandy says something very low that I do not hear clearly.

What? says I.

Did I so, he says, I fear I should be endeavouring prevail upon you to go plead like Portia to restore me to favour. His voice breaks and I hear him go muffle a sob in the pillow.

Dearest Sandy, says I, slithering across to put an arm about him, you know there is nothing I should more happyly be about, for I would be entire like to suppose that Milord’s heart would already be inclining to the matter.

Sandy goes cling to me weeping. I stroke his hair and murmur soothingly, for I do not think rational argument is desir’d upon this occasion.

His sobs begin dye down, but I become conscious, from the closeness of our bodies as I hold him, that this outpouring of emotion and, I confide, the mere effect of animal warmth, brings about a condition that he must find exceeding embarrassing. I begin wriggle away, but he pulls me closer and far from showing horrify’d, commences upon kissing my neck.

I go be somewhat more emphatick in my endeavours to move away, taking a thought that I do not have any spunges to hand, for had not suppos’d would have any requirement for 'em, and in the end, am oblig’d to push him to release myself from the embrace.

Dearest Sandy, says I, 'twill not do. I daresay 'twould convey a momentary comforting distraction did we proceed in the matter, but I confide that 'twould be follow’d by remorsefull self-reproach. (I do not say, and 'twould be most immense tedious to have to listen to that.) You are in a most unwont’d state of turmoil. 'Twould be entire wrong did I suppose this was any tribute to my own charms.

'Tis, I add, an entire different matter from offering assistance in scientifick understanding.

There is a pause and stillness, and Sandy sits up. D—n, he says, sure I think you have the right of it, do I let myself think upon the matter rather than follow blind instinct. 'Twas entire giving myself over to the urgings of my p---k, and, dearest C-, I think that you go show kind more truly by not conceding to indulge this sudden lust. For I confide that 'tis not even as tho’ there is some mutual desire in the matter –

Why, says I, I daresay I might have found some pleasure in the act (tho’ sure I have some doubts that I should, with a fellow that has no prior knowledge of women, and is in a somewhat desperate state of emotions), but sure I do not find myself consum’d with furor uterinus towards you.

I am most exceeding reliev’d to hear that, says Sandy, for indeed, I fear I would have been using you as a means rather than as an end.

La, says I, I confide that you are feeling a deal better and more yourself do you go think about f------g in the light of universal law; and thump him upon the arm.

Dearest sibyl, he says, putting his arm around me, can you ever forgive me?

I groan loudly and punch him in the ribs. Let us have no such talk, says I, and let us endeavour go sleep.

We retreat to our opposite sides of the bed and, I know not how 'tis with him, but indeed I myself fall into a most agreeable restorative slumber, from which I do not awaken until comes Sophy with my chocolate.

I sit up and take the cup from her and observe that Sandy has already risen. Sophy says that Mr MacD- was up betimes and has breakfast’d, and has now gone about upon business.

'Tis well, says I. Let us be about dressing, and you might bespeak somewhat in the way of breakfast for me.

So when I go into the parlour there is already a most agreeable aroma of coffee, and some nice little rolls, and I make a fine breakfast upon 'em.

Once I have finisht I stretch, and consider that 'twould be agreeable to walk out a little and see the place, but I take a considerable concern that did I walk out with only Sophy for company, the pair of us would be quite mightyly pester’d and 'twould be no pleasure to us.

I do not feel in a mood to scribble, so pick up Tristram Shandy that I still have not got far into, until Sandy’s return.

He looks in good spirits, says he has discharg’d all necessary business, and confides we may depart the morrow.

He then comes over, takes and kisses my hand, and says, o, wisest of all silly creatures. I kick him.

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