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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 Ninth 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

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)

In order not to look particular or give any reason for unwant’d gossip, I go ride my lovely Jezzie-girl in the Park at the fashionable hour. Tho’ I see a number of little groups engag’d in exchanging some fresh on-dit, none turn to look somewhat conscious at myself, so I confide that my own matter remains under the cover of discretion.

I see Lord A- driving Charley B- and go greet 'em, and ask do they go to the Z-s’ rout the e’en? Indeed, says Lord A-, would not miss it for the world, Sir H- ever knows what’s what and ‘twill be a fine affair.

They then go on to speak of the various matters that go on at B- House – sure they proceed a little slowly, but they do not intend go live there until Society begins return to Town in the autumn, all should be in hand by then – and Lord A- adds, there is one chamber rather curious fitt’d out, confides ‘tis a tennis-court. Was not the late Marquess once a most renown’d tennis-player?

I sigh, and say that, by the time of our marriage, was in no condition to pursue such sports, and 'twas not a thing we ever discours’d of. But I daresay there may be a court somewhere about B- House. I confide that Lord R- would certainly know, for they were quite the greatest of friends.

Why, indeed, exclaims Lord A-, R- would of a certainty know. I daresay will be at the Z-s the e’en, shall go ask him then. Sure 'tis a fine game and one that one may play year round.

I ride on and see Mrs O’C- walking without her son, that I daresay is at school. I go greet her and dismount to converse. She says she supposes I will be holding no more soirées until the autumn, and I say that I confide not, I am invit’d out such a deal at present, even tho’ Society begins leave Town.

She says that one may hardly call him Society but Mr O’N- lately took his congé, goes running back to Ireland. She sighs and says, sure he was once the most agreeable of young fellows, but has become a sad feckless creature that hangs out for a wealthy wife. Why, she says, in the manner of one that has made a success in business – as indeed she has, tho’ ‘tis a very curious one – did he go address himself more regular and business-like to his horses, she dares says he might do exceeding well, for he has an excellent eye and a fine hand in schooling, tho’ 'tis a matter to wonder at that his eye somehow fails him when comes to betting on races, that is, she doubts not, why he finds himself in difficulties.

Why, Mrs O’C-, says I with a smile, perchance did you go school him to the bridle, he might come around.

Mrs O’C- laughs and then says, sure that would be a most tedious matter in a marriage. Did she have any mind to remarry, 'twould be a husband that was for a straightforward gallop very occasional. But she cannot like to give her boy a step-father. She adds that they are for Margate as usual this summer, sure he greatly loves Margate.

We take an amiable leave of one another and I turn dear Jezebel towards R- House.

There is sure a great throng at the Z-s the e’en, so at first I do not think anything to the matter do I not immediate lay eyes upon the Marquess and Marchioness of O- and Her Ladyship’s brothers and sister.

I go remark to Lady Z- that I do not see her new cicisbeo - for the Honble Edward M- has been showing most markt attentions – and she smiles and then frowns and says, indeed, she hopes all is well at N- House, for was a note came most apologetick that none of them may come, and the same from O- House. She fears the poor Countess may have taken some adverse turn and thus they do not like to go into company.

Poor lady, says I. (Tho’ I wonder considerable at this, for I have heard nothing.)

But there is a deal of other society and a number of matters wherein I must improve the shining hour in this company and I do not have time to think more upon this.

And sure, then I return to my fine reserv’d chamber at R- House, and none are so tir’d by life in Society that we may not spend some little time in the contemplation of triangles.

’Tis therefore somewhat later than usual when Sophy brings my chocolate, and says, sure there is some to-do the morn but none knows quite what 'tis about.

When I am dresst and go to the family room I find not only my darling Eliza, but also Josiah, Sandy and Milord, that are all in a state of considerable excitement. I desire to be give some coffee and inform’d of what the news may be.

Why, 'tis a most exceeding brangle! says Milord. Should strongly advize that you sit down before we go about recounting the matters to you.

I do as bidden, and drink my coffee, and say, well, then, inform me.

Joisah says, 'tis report’d that Lord N-'s family have all gone quit his roof and depart’d to take up residence at O- House –

What, says I, Lady N- as well?

All of 'em, says Josiah, and have not said why, but must be some serious matter that leads 'em to such a step.

'Tis perchance a business that certain low scurrilous rags may shed some light upon, says Sandy. For there appear pieces that refer to a certain larcenous lord, that has long been rumour’d to be light-finger’d in certain matters to do with hortickulture, but now expands his operations to the ophidian creation. For there is late come to Town a gallant officer of the Hon Company’s Bengal forces with a fine collection of serpents of those parts, has been about the clubs accusing this lord of making off with one of his pets. And indeed 'tis not consider’d an improbable tale, for His Lordship’s eccentricity is widely-known, but was it confin’d to filching flowers, 'twas consider’d no more than that, but does he go be more general in his pilfering, Society may become reluctant to extend invitations to one that may walk off with the spoons, or mayhap some pretty piece of china that lyes about.

And, he continues, there is already in circulation a very badly-drawn print of a fellow that must be taken as the Earl that goes create an Eden of stolen plants, and introduces a snake to make the picture complete.

I look at him and he looks back and shrugs and says, indeed, had nothing whatsoever to do with the matter, Major S- has been going to and fro, and walking up and down, in great indignation telling any that would hearken about the Earl stealing his fine cobra; and indeed the Earl is none so popular a fellow that none would pay attention to such a tale, but would at once themselves recount occasions upon which he had visit’d their hothouses or those of some relative or friend, and 'twas strongly suppos’d that he had taken cuttings or seedlings or bulbs.

Comes a tray with a nice little breakfast for me, and I fall to’t.

Why, says I, hoist with his own petard, is’t not so? Has digg’d a pit, and fallen therein himself. Sure 'tis quite entirely proverbial.

I then go think over matters a little and say, sure, 'twould be entire the civil thing to go call upon Lady N- at O- House: and I daresay I could find out more of the matter concerning this decampment.

None can see any objection to the matter, but then comes a footman saying that the Marquess of O- and Lord U- have call’d and beg a moment of Lady B-‘s time.

Why, says I, taking some more coffee, do you show 'em into the small parlour, and send 'em up some coffee and I will convoke with 'em as soon as maybe.

So I go to the small parlour, where the Marquess and Lord U- are standing with the air of fellows that would desire pace up and down.

How now, says I, I understand that Lord U- has sought sanctuary at O- House for his mother and his brothers and sisters – 'tis quite scandal enough, but there is also a deal of scurrility goes about concerning the stealing of a serpent.

Lord U- sighs deeply and says, sure he feels his father’s conduct justifies this exodus even does one not disclose his murderous intentions, and His Lordship shows most exceeding kind and hospitable in putting 'em up in O- House, but –

Why, says I, let me think on this a little – sure, I go on after a moment’s cogitation, I confide that 'tis now the time to enter into diplomatick negotiations. Would it not serve very well did the Earl go out of the country for some while, until the gossip dyes down and is forgot, tho’ sure I think 'twill take some considerable while, for stealing some fellow’s snake is really quite out of the common.

But, says I, 'twould be prudent to make some provision for the management of his estates in his absence –

He will never agree, says Lord U- very gloomy.

What you require, says I, is one that may act the diplomat and go undertake negotiations as a neutral party that desires bring about concord; mayhap, I go on, you have heard of His Grace of M-'s abilities in that direction?

They look at one another. 'Twould be somewhat of an imposition, says the Marquess, but indeed he is a very fine fellow and 'tis give out has resolv’d a deal of matters that might have come to serious fallings-out or open scandal, and that had his father not dy’d so suddenly, would have advanc’d considerably in the Diplomatick, likely become an ambassador.

Let me, says I, write him a little note advancing your interests in the matter, for we are quite the oldest of friends.

They look at me a little uneasy, and then I confide mind that dear Viola and I are on quite the best of terms, and look somewhat less worry’d.

I sand and seal the note and hand it to the Marquess and say that I purpose come call at O- House the afternoon.

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

'Tis most agreeable to go to O- House for a small dinner-party with good friends, even do I still feel somewhat shaken.

I find occasion to speak privyly to Lord U- and desire him to call upon me the next morn, for I have an exceeding troubling matter to communicate to him, and he declares himself quite entire at my disposal in the matter. I then go on to enquire as to how his mother does, and after his sisters and brothers.

He says that his mother does exceeding well, and he is pleas’d to see his brothers getting into such a good set, and Lou would ever be at R- House with Bess F- was she permitt’d, and Em has a deal of admirers but inclines to none of 'em so far –

Indeed, says I, she is consider’d quite one of the toasts of this Season.

He looks gratify’d.

We then discourse a little of our summer plans, and he sighs and says usually his father will consider it the proper thing to hold a house-party at some time while they are at Monks’ G- but he is still so much in the sulks that does not seem as if he would wish society. But O- has invit’d 'em come stay at D- Chase that would quite be entire Liberty Hall, and sure 'tis a tempting prospect, can they ensure that dear Mama may be of the party, for they would not leave her with Papa does he continue in this grumpy condition.

And, he adds, of course he and his brothers are to go to the very well-spoke of bachelor-party at A-, 'twill be quite the most agreeable thing.

The first course is remov’d and I turn to Biffle, that is at my other side, and say that sure we are quite strangers. He smiles and says indeed we have not contriv’d to have much discourse even have we found ourselves in the same places of late. But sure, now I have engag’d myself to come to their house-party at Q-, perchance we may convoke there, for he is quite sure that Lady B- has a deal of news.

Mayhap! says I.

'Tis all most entire delightfull to be with such friends, and most exceeding soothing to my ruffl’d spirits.

Over the teacups in the drawing-room after the gentlemen have come in, the Marquess says to me in a low voice, does the Earl really filch cuttings when he visits other fellows’ hothouses, or is’t that 'tis suppos’d I now should delight in hearing incivil gossip about him?

Why, says I, 'tis give out by those that are no malicious gossips – Roberts, that is a Methodist lay-preacher o’ Sundays, has had suspicions – but formerly you were consider’d quite his greatest friend and that he was your patron and might even go tittle-tattle to him was you told.

He grimaces and says, sure 'tis a needless matter when most would give him cuttings out of civility or because of his rank.

Quite so, says I, 'tis some strange freak.

He sighs and says, sure one would wish to restore diplomatick relations, but –

Perchance, says I, you should convoke with His Grace, that is greatly esteem’d for diplomacy.

The next morn I am up betimes so that I may be in the small parlour ready to receive Lord U-. Also I have retriev’d the bag containing the snake from the ice-house.

He comes in, makes me a leg, and I ring for coffee to be brought. While we wait we exchange some indifferent converse concerning the dinner-party, and I remark upon how well Lady O- lookt.

He smiles and says, 'tis a happy thing to see, and also how very affectionate the Marquess shows to her.

After the coffee has come and I have pour’d us each a cup, I begin open to Lord U- the reason for summoning him here.

Yesterday, says I, I receiv’d a most unwont’d gift, a snake -

A live snake? cries Lord U-.

Live, and venomous, says I. By great good fortune Josh F-'s mongoose came into the room and dispatcht it most expeditious. The corpse, I add, lyes in that bag there: 'twas a cobra that was stole from Major S-'s snakery -

One hears, says Lord U-, that he has a deal of the creatures and considers 'em quite in the light of pets. But, Lady B-, why would anyone send you a venomous snake?

Indeed, says I, I am not in the condition of Cleopatra, to desire one to send me an asp conceal’d in a basket of figs so that I may cheat the Roman triumph. But, I sigh, I have enemies -

Enemies, Lady B-? You? and then I observe an expression cross his face that I daresay is the recollection of some most incivil remark about me that his father has made. He swallows. Sure, he says, I know Papa remains most extreme put about concerning Nan’s elopement, will not come to reconcile, almost pouts like unto a child in the nursery that has not yet learn’d better, and has been heard to suppose that that sly trollop Lady B- was mixt up in it –

Well, says I, indeed I was, for the Marquess and your sister are my dear friends, and he is not. But, you will recollect that there was a matter of bringing him to see the requirements of good ton in providing for the ladies of his household –

Indeed, says Lord U-, I am still like to suppose that there was more behind that than you would disclose.

'Tis so, says I. I had come to discover quite by chance a matter somewhat discreditable to your father –

- This sneaking business of taking cuttings surreptitious when he goes visit hothouses? –

Indeed, says I, that does him no credit whatsoever, but there was another matter. I pause for a moment and say, sure 'tis not a thing one likes to disclose to a fellow’s son, in particular one that has such a fine fondness for his mother –

Womanizing? exclaims Lord U-. (Sure he is a young fellow of excellent apprehension.)

Why, says I, I do not think keeping one Covent Garden Miss is what is normally consider’d womanizing, demonstrates a certain fidelity, but 'tis what he was about, giving himself out a prosperous middling sort of fellow nam’d Perkins, and maintaining an establishment in those parts, until, taking a pet at having it known, even tho’ I am silent as the grave, goes cast her off and leaves her in penury.

The wretch! cries Lord U-. The poor creature – is there anything one may do to keep her from the poorhouse?

I smile upon him and say, 'tis a concern does him great credit, but I am appriz’d that some benefactor has set her up with the means to establish a connexion in millinery -

Sure, he says with a frown, you know a deal more than one would expect concerning what goes forth in Covent Garden.

O, says I, I have some charitable interests in that area, and my housekeeper Dorcas, that is a very pious Methodist, goes read the Bible and have prayer-meetings with some of the poor creatures there.

But, says I, tho’ I had promis’d silence did he show somewhat more generous towards your mama and sisters, I think that the agreement has been breacht upon his side – indeed, had I expir’d of snakebite, or from any other suspicious cause, my manservant Hector had letters to hand that I had instruct’d should be sent to certain of my acquaintance, for the Earl did look upon me very grim and as if he would be happy to serve me some ill turn – even tho’ I still live, thanks to Josh F-‘s fondness for the animal creation that led him to introduce a mongoose into the household.

But what will you do now? asks Lord U-.

I sigh and say, tho’ I confide that a trial of an earl for attempt’d murder before his peers in the House of Lords must be a very fine and remarkable thing, I take a consideration that 'twould be a very hard thing to prove upon him, and I have no doubt that many imputations would be cast upon my character, and antient scandals rak’d up.

We are silent for a while, and then he says, mayhap he will go convoke with his brother-in-law the Marquess on the matter, for he confides that 'twould only distress Mama to go tell all this to her, and would not lay it upon his brothers, that are yet young and reckless. Sure he would be glad of his godfather’s counsel, but Sir C- F- will be bury’d in Herefordshire at present watching his apple trees bloom.

I am further inclin’d, says I – but you must tell me do you like it not – that did one go spread the intelligence of his covert proceedings in Covent Garden 'twould I daresay become quite gossipt upon, and indeed there are low scurrilous fellows that purvey scandalous matter about Holywell Street would go have prints made with, mayhap, doggerel verse upon the matter compos’d by the low hacks about those parts.

Lord U- purses up his lips and says, sure he cannot say that 'twould be undeserv’d, but has a mind to the more general reputation of the family and thinks that, could it be kept quiet they would be much indebt’d.

Why, says I, I will go keep entire mum, tho’ with a thought that the matter may came out by some other route that I do not have my hand upon.

'Tis entire fair, says Lord U-. But do you provide me with the direction of the unfortunate creature in Covent Garden I shall go discreetly about making some provision.

That is exceeding good of you, says I.

Why, says he, I have some notion of who may be her benefactor.

La, says I, there is some Evangelickal lady goes about in those parts endeavouring to save souls and 'tis suppos’d she aims at preventing Mrs Binns from falling back into sinfull paths.

Lord U- looks at me and his lips twitch and he says, he wonders is the lady what Lord D- would consider theologickally sound, even is she of the Evangelickal persuasion.

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

I go lye down for a little with my stays loosen’d and Docket places slices of cowcumber upon my eyes, 'tis most extreme restfull. Sophy goes tend my hands the while.

After some several hours comes in Eliza to say that Mr MacD- is come in and looks exceeding fierce.

O, says I, sitting up and removing the cowcumber slices, I shall be down once I am decently clad.

I go down to the small parlour, where I find tea and some sandwiches; sure, I now find myself a little hungry.

Sandy is pacing up and down and swearing beneath his breath in what I take to be Scots.

Well, my dear, says I, pouring myself some tea and taking a sandwich, you may tell me your news.

He sits down and says, sure 'tis an eccentricity in Major S- to keep so many snakes about him, but he takes considerable measures to keep 'em secure, if only so that the servants may be reassur’d and not leave in a body. At his lodgings has a large chamber with a stout door and fine lock in which he has a set of glass-sid’d tanks, such as one will sometimes see fancy fish kept in, with tops that he may slide off in order to convey sustenance to his pets, keep 'em clean &C. For which task he prudently wears very stout leather gauntlets, for he says that they will strike does somewhat startle 'em.

But one may see that 'twould not be possible for a snake to escape unless there was some great carelessness, and he would not entrust the matter to any but himself.

Anyhow, I show’d him the corpse, at which he tutt’d and said 'twas indeed a cobra, the like of one that he had himself, a particular kind, and lookt it over very carefull and frown’d and said something concerning the distinctive markings, and then offer’d take me into his snakery.

And indeed 'tis very secure, keeps the keys about him, an exceeding stout door, construct’d so that even did a snake contrive to escape from its tank, could not get under it. And inside there are these tanks containing his serpentine favourites along with a couple of cages of white mice, that serve as their diet -

- Let us, says I, by no means communicate that particular matter to Josh -

- Indeed not. And he show’d me the tanks, that are very cunningly made, thick glass, lids that will slide open, and took me over to the one that had these particular cobras in, and lookt in and said, bless my soul, there is one missing. And then put on his gauntlets and open’d the lid a little and felt about – for there are rocks and branches within for the snakes to twine about, and do they remain very still are very much like rocks or branches themselves – and said, no, 'tis not one that looks a deal like one of mine, 'tis the exact same one.

And then we lookt at one another and he made a puzzl’d face and says, someone must have took it, but he cannot suppose that any of the servants – for they will not even go near the door unless they have to –

So I said, does he not have visitors from among the cognoscenti, that take a scientifick and philosophickal interest in ophidians; to which he frown’d, and then reply’d that sure it must have been since their last feeding, for surely he would have notic’d at that time, and they only require to be fed once of a se’ennight at the most. The only recent visitor he had was the Earl of N-, at which he was a little surpriz’d, for he thought the fellow only interest’d in the vegetable creation: but display’d a considerable desire to see the snakes, and was most interest’d in which were venomous and the degrees of venom – for, he add’d, there are some that crush their prey in their coils rather than by biting – sure, says Sandy, 'twas quite an education in the matter –

I raise my eyebrows at him somewhat and say, I am glad that he enlarges his understanding of reptiles, but should be exceeding gratefull did he come at the point, supposing there be one.

But, he goes on, I said that I presum’d he would not leave guests alone there. And he said, indeed 'twas not his practice, but that there was some matter he was momentarily call’d away for while the Earl was there, could not have been above a minute or two.

At this moment breaks in upon Sandy’s recital Josiah, in a quite towering rage, saying, what is this he hears about venomous snakes and mongooses?

So I tell him what happen’d the morn, and he says, what villain is this?

Why, says Sandy, the finger of suspicion at present points to the Earl of N-, but that I am not sure how he would contrive to carry away a serpent without Major S- seeing what he was about.

Hah, says I, a fellow that is give out to filch cuttings from other folks’ hothouses doubtless has light fingers that a common pickpocket would envy –

Josiah gives a start and says, we will recall the wild ways of his youth, and he is mind’d of the certain secret inner pockets in poachers’ jackets, and perchance, given the Earl’s larcenous habits, he has somewhat similar in his garments.

But, says I, a snake? Would it not bite?

Sandy looks thoughtfull and says, Major S- will say quite early on in his recital about his pets, of which the burden is that they are not as dangerous as one may suppose, that does one pick 'em up just behind the head they cannot strike at the hand that holds 'em; and did the Earl go there with some intention I daresay he would have provid’d himself with a stout leather bag or some such.

And then we all three look about at one another and I say, but I doubt could be prov’d upon him, ‘tis entire supposition.

Circumstantial evidence, says Sandy. I do not think 'twill make a strong enough thread to tye him up.

We all sigh. They look at me a little worry’d, and Sandy says, perchance did we bring Matt Johnson into our counsels he might come at some way to lay this to His Lordship’s account?

And then I sigh. Sure may not be proof enough for the courts of law, I should greatly dislike to try and bring it before a magistrate, 'tis all too like unto some Gothick tale -

Sandy says, he has some notion that as 'twould be a matter of a jury of his peers, the Earl would be arraign’d before the House of Lords -

- but 'tis proof enough for me. And the Earl is a fool does he suppose I did not have anything in store did some unusual accident come to me. Hector had letters to give out in such case. And I feel myself now no longer oblig’d to keep silence.

But, says I, this e’en I go dine at O- House and Lord U- is, I confide, to be of the company, and I may solicit him to a private interview, for he is a young man of excellent sense and sound intentions.

You will go out to dine? cries Josiah. Are you in any condition to go out? Sure you should go rest and recover yourself.

O, fiddlesticks, says I. I have rest’d already, do I stay at home I shall only go fret. And, o, I cry, as a thought takes me, do you still have the dead snake about you, Mr MacD-?

Sandy raises his eyebrows and says it perchances that he does, for he considers it in the light of evidence.

Then, says I, I would advize that you go ask Seraphine may you place it in the ice-house, 'twill go somewhat to preserve it from decay.

'Tis prudent, says Josiah, but will it not alarm any of the kitchenmaids that go there?

One might leave it in the bag, says I, and mayhap not mention what 'tis.

But, says Josiah, what is this matter that you had in store concerning the Earl? For indeed I think many of your friends have been inclin’d to suppose that you had somewhat to do with a late elopement, but is there some other dealing you have had with him?

He and Sandy both look at me somewhat speculative.

Why, says I, permit me to put suspicious minds at rest: there have never been any passages 'twixt the Earl and myself. But indeed I found out some matter not like to do any good to his reputation, but I decid’d that 'twould do better to trade my silence in the matter for his better behaviour towards the Countess and his daughters, the penny-pinching wretch.

Oh, says Sandy, and that is why Lady Anna and Lady Emily ceas’d to be the titter’d-at dowds of the Season and instead became most envy’d for being in quite the crack of fashion? And Lady N- goes about in a crack invalid carriage?

Precisely, says I.

And may we know, asks Josiah, what this disreputable matter was? Sure filching cuttings is poor ton –

Indeed 'tis, says I, does him no credit at all, but the matter I quite perchance came at was that he was, under the name of Perkins and presenting himself as a middling prosperous fellow, keeping a Covent Garden Miss very clandestine. That he has now, I go on, thrown over and left pennyless.

They both go roll their eyes. Sandy remarks that sure, one could make a deal of coarse jokes upon the fam’d amateur of hortickulture that cultivates a fallen blossom, would make a pretty Holywell Street print –

’Twas indeed my thought, says I, and the Earl is not the most popular of fellows, respect’d enough but not much lik’d.

Why, says Josiah, one may see why he may bear some grudge against the lovely Lady B-, but indeed 'tis taking the matter entire too far to resort to assassination –

- And by so clumsy a device, interjects Sandy –

Quite so, says I, and I will not take the matter meekly.

Dearest of C-s, says Josiah with an anxious expression, I beg you to be cautious in this matter.

O, says I, surely you are appriz’d that you may count upon my prudence and discretion?

They sigh deeply.

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Volume the Ninth now available for your collated reading enjoyment. Any particular appreciation may be expresst in the usual manner by way of PayPal.

Your amanuensis also wishes to mention that we are fast coming to the end of yet another volume. However, as there are several matters that remain unresolved, and upon which there is speculation, it is hoped that another volume of these memoirs may surface in due course.

Work proceeds apace upon the task of editing these memoirs with a view to a wider audience.

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

Sure, my dearest, says I, you should open a school for young ladies that go marry into the responsibilities of a large household, 'twould be quite as usefull as deportment and dancing and whatever matters are taught at fine schools for young ladies.

Perchance! says Eliza. And anyway, neither Lady O- nor Miss B- were sent to school: had governesses so I am told. And a lady of any intelligence could surely contrive to pick up the matter – look at Her Grace.

I wonder, says I, how much she undertakes in the matter: for His Grace will say, when Lord T- goes praise up the importance of having a fine politickal secretary, that some fellows will marry a lady that serves exceeding well in that capacity, tho’ so not to seem as if he boasts on his own wife, will speak of Susannah W-.

One must collect, says Eliza, that the M- establishments have been under the hand of Lady J- and have good practices; sure once there are good practices, does not take all day for a lady to keep her hand upon the household.

Quite so, says I, for here is my darling that becomes quite as necessary to the Grand Turk’s politickal career as she ever is to his ironworks, and has the R- House households running like clockwork that only need a little winding once a day.

My dearest love blushes and tells me that I am a flattering weasel C-.

So, says I, will you go instruct the young Marchioness?

Of a surety: a nice young creature, and the Marquess is like to become entire part of our coterie, so 'tis felicity maximiz’d all around I daresay.

Why, says I, I will go write her at once, and I have some other agreeable letters to be about: have had a fine bundle from Hampshire: Phoebe is exceeding delight’d to be there, Mr de C- goes paint little Deborah, Martha has extreme fine hens that lay a deal of double-yolkt eggs, and the V-s go visit as well in order to see the rare orchids &C in the flower line there.

Eliza smiles and says, a deal more agreeable than the orphanage ladies.

So I go to the small parlour and open my traveling desk, and commence about my correspondence with more chear than usual because the letters I write are such pleasing matter. 'Tis in particular agreeable that Mrs V- has expresst how romantick she finds this tale concerning the Marquess: sure she should have consider’d her own knowledge of his excellent character rather than the tongues of scandal.

As I am about this delightfull task, comes a footman with a parcel for me. I sigh, for I daresay 'tis yet more samples of china or some such. I desire him to place it upon one of the low tables, for I am in no haste to go inspect it and had rather finish my letters first.

At length I look up from this task, having sand’d and seal’d ‘em all ready to go be post’d.

The parcel still sits upon the table. I go pick it up and look at it to see is there any sign of the sender, but 'tis an entire blank. Feels somewhat curious in my hands, as if the weight of it shifts about: perchance ‘tis some piece of china that has broke and the pieces rattle around. 'Tis no encouraging sign of the purveyor’s quality, can he not ensure that the goods are packt securely.

I begin about untying the string and unwrapping the paper to find the box within. I start to open the lid, and comes pouring out a serpent.

I stagger back, and then hold extreme still, for I have heard that their eyesight is poor, and unless they see movement, may not strike.

It raises up its head – 'tis one of those hood’d kind –

And the door of the room begins to open.

Stay out! I cry, and see the snake’s head start to turn towards me.

But comes in at the door the mongoose, that seeing its traditional adversary, puffs up its tail, rises upon its hinder legs, and lets out a chittering cry that I daresay is a challenge.

And is follow’d by Josh.

I dart across to the door – the snake is already about turning its attention upon the mongoose – quite thrust Josh back past the door and push myself after him, slam the door shut and lean against it. And then mind that a snake may contrive to creep under it, so pull Josh away and move away myself.

A snake, says I, panting somewhat, I confide 'tis a venomous kind.

O! cries Josh, and the mongoose goes fight it, o, prime. He shows a disposition to go peer thro’ the keyhole to observe the match but I pull him back.

Josh F-! says I. 'Tis not always the mongoose that triumphs, and I had rather not have to be oblig'd go suck venom from the wound did the snake bite you.

Oh, says he. Should I go fetch someone?

Go tell your mother, says I, while looking about me for somewhat that I might use did the snake endeavour escape.

He goes, looking rather pale, and I pull at one of the standing candle-holders, that mayhap I might contrive to push over so that it fell upon the serpent, that would hinder it if not crush it entirely.

I am standing beside the door holding this weapon when comes up Eliza with two footmen holding fire-tongs.

Well, how now, here’s an ado! says she. 'Tis still in the room?

I nod.

She puts her ear to the door, and says, she confides she hears the mongoose go chatter, then falls to her knees so she may look through the keyhole – sure she is braver by far than I.

Hah! says she. The mongoose goes dance about the room, I confide has won the fight and celebrates its victory. Very cautious she goes open the door and looks in. And, says she, there is a snake upon the floor that looks exceeding dead.

The footmen go in and one of them very cautious picks up the snake in his tongs. It hangs entire limp. The mongoose goes, one may suppose, jeer at it.

The footman turns to Mrs F- and says, should they dispose of it.

I lean against the wall with my legs a-tremble and say, no, 'tis a mystery where it came from that we need resolve, and the corpse may prove material.

Lady B-, says Eliza, you should sit down at once and put your head between your knees before you faint.

Indeed I do not protest.

She dispatches one of the footmen to be about fetching brandy, and tells the other to go over to the west wing to see if Mr MacD- be there, and if so, tell him 'tis a matter of urgency.

I go sit plump down and put my head between my knees until I feel that I shall not go swoon away, while Eliza goes examine the box.

Only one snake, at least, she says.

Comes the footman with brandy, follow’d by Josh that goes make much of the mongoose and feeds it treats. He sighs a little and says he wishes he might have watcht.

I see Eliza in some mind to rebuke him for this curiosity, and then consider that we owe a deal to the mongoose. But nonetheless she tells Josh to run off to the schoolroom.

I am sipping of brandy when comes Sandy in a state of considerable agitation. What is this about a snake? he asks. Did it come in from the garden?

'Tis not, says I, tho’ I have made no great study of the matter, any serpent native to this soil.

I wave at where the dead snake lyes and Sandy goes scrutinize it. Indeed, says he, I confide 'tis what they call a cobra, that is found in India. I cannot, he adds, suppose that there are a deal of these around Town. 'Tis not like parrots or mongooses or monkeys that sailors may bring in to sell as pets. I wonder, he continues, whether Major S- might know about it. Do you provide me with somewhat I may carry it in, I will go visit him and ask.

While Eliza goes about this, he stands staring down at the snake with an expression as of John Knox encountering the serpent of Eve’s temptation.

Sure, he says at length, 'tis an exceeding careless method of assassination compar’d to a stiletto. For altho’ 'twas, we must confide, aim’d at you, dear sibyl, the package might have been open’d by some servant; or after had attackt you, might have run loose about the house or got into the garden –

I take a rather larger mouthfull of brandy.

We must suppose, goes on Sandy, that there was an desire for action at a distance.

What, says I, are there no Italian assassins to be hir’d? Fellows that might shoot me in the street?

Why, does one hire an assassin, there is a fellow has knowledge of somewhat that the fellow who commission’d him would, one must dare say, rather have not known.

True, says I. One may also consider, that even is there no demand for continu’d reward for keeping silence, cannot come cheap to hire an assassin.

We look very thoughtfull at one another.

Sure, says I, may be that I am being entirely the author of horrid tales on most unlikely matters, but there is a certain nobleman, bears me considerable resentment – no, Mr MacD-, not for the reason that I have been wont to find fellows bearing resentment, as in the instance of the late Mr O’C- - and is also not’d for his extreme carefullness with his gold. But perchance I misjudge him.

Comes Eliza with a bag that she confides will keep the snake secure and hidden while being borne about the streets. We go convey the corpse into the bag with the tongs, and Sandy says he will be about convoking with Major S- about the matter.

After he goes Eliza comes sit upon the arm of my chair, puts her arm around me and rests her face against my hair. O my darling, she says, her voice shaking, 'twas a very bad thing.

Indeed, says I, 'twas unforgiveable. (For I think of the children and in particular my darling Flora.)

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Agnes S- comes to Eliza and myself as we sit in the family room exchanging impressions and gossip after the tiffin-party – did not the Honble Edward M- seem very taken with Lady Z-? – and says, has been most exceeding agreeable staying here, but she feels that she should return to P- House.

She does not look entirely glad to be doing so but I confide considers that 'tis the proper sisterly thing.

Why, says Eliza, we shall be sorry to lose you, for you have become quite the greatest favourite within the family, but indeed, I daresay your sister will be missing you.

Agnes S- looks a little tearfull and says, sure, everyone here is so kind and pleasant, such excellent company, and she hopes that she may go ride with the girls some time in the Park, and mayhap come undertake some chymical experiments, and Josh has said that when the baby dormice are able to leave their mother I may have one of 'em –

- Eliza and I look entire doating -

- and, o, in time perchance little Arthur might come join the nursery set?

Eliza remarks that 'twould be quite the finest thing could he so, tho’ she is not sure their theologickal principles are what Lord D- would approve of, from what she has heard of Quintus’s fine sermons at the funerals of the mice and birds that Mittens goes slaughter.

Miss S- is brought to laughter at this. They are a fine set, she says.

So 'tis sadly not long after that Sophy comes and makes her dip and says Miss S-'s trunks are all packt and she is having them convey’d to the carriage.

Agnes S- looks tearfull once more, but then smiles at Sophy and thanks her very heartyly, says she hopes that she suffers no ill-effects from that wretch that assail’d her in Cheapside, and conveys to her what I confide is an exceeding generous compliment.

We exchange very warm farewells and she leaves us.

My darling and I look at one another and sigh. Well, says Eliza, can you not be about finding her a suitable husband?

Sure, says I, I know not why all suppose I may contrive miracles and conjure up fine husbands that are not sneaking fortune-hunters and will appreciate her fine qualities of character and think it a very excellent matter that she writes poetry –

Indeed, says Eliza, I see that 'tis somewhat of a task.

'Tis so, says I.

Comes peeking into the room to see what’s ado, the mongoose, close follow’d by Josh, that is a little put about that he did not get the chance to say his own farewells to Agnes S- and conduct her to make a formal congé of the menagerie, because Mr McN- was about giving him some classickal tuition.

Oh, says Josh, was there not a fellow at His Lordship’s tiffin-party that was give out to have a deal of snakes? Would it not be a prime thing could one be set to fight with the mongoose?

I fancy, says I, that Major S-, that I apprehend to be the gentlemen in the question, is such an admirer of the serpentine creation that I would dare say he has quite the lowest opinion of mongooses – mongeese? – and would not concede to any such thing.

Josh sighs. (I am a little amuz’d that one that will express such antipathy to matters as badger-baiting and dog-fighting takes such a desire to see the mongoose in combat: but I do not think his fondness for the animal creation extends to snakes, that are indeed somewhat of a special taste.)

I am entire happy to be with my dear ones and their family. The work upon my new premises proceeds apace, 'tis most agreeable to hear, even tho’ the work on my library was put back somewhat by the diversion of the carpenters to O- House to fit out a dressing-room for Lady O-.

I am still being deliver’d a deal of solicitations for my attention to matters of china, plate, table-linen, &C, and the small parlour has become the place in which I keep these, where 'tis less likely than in the family room that small fingers will go poke about and mayhap break things. There is an exceeding pretty tea-set suit’d to dolls that demonstrates in miniature the fine craft of the maker, that I quite long to see my darling Flora play with, but perchance should be put by for a few years until she may play with it with due care.

Thus it perchances that one morn I am about looking at this bounty and endeavouring to decide which showrooms I should go visit – for assur’dly I may not visit 'em all do I wish to get my fine new dining room fitt’d out any time this present year – when is announc’d to me Lady O-, that I am most exceeding glad to see.

She shows no formal manner but comes embrace and kiss me and say sure I am quite the architect of their entire happyness, how may they ever recompense me, &C&C; also she is quite entire delight’d with Lorimer -

Indeed, says I, stepping back a little so that I may take in how she is dresst, she has a very nice way with her.

Of course, says Lady O-, I shall have a deal of fittings at Mamzelle Bridgette’s and so forth.

And you are also quite entire delight’d with your lawfull wedd’d spouse? I ask with a smile.

She gives a deep happy sigh and says, oh, he is quite the finest of fellows, I am a most fortunate woman. And then she gives a naughty grin and says, and sure, when dear Tony discourses to me of plants, 'tis most exceeding agreeable, not that Papa ever thought his daughters worth talking to upon such a subject.

And then she gives a less happy sigh and says, Papa still has not come round – sure I may sneak in to N- House so that I may visit dear Mama, but he still refuses receive us, tis exceeding worrying.

Why, says I, 'tis in the way of things that gentlemen are like to take pets are their wishes thwart’d, in particular are they made to look foolish besides. But I daresay he may eventually come into a better frame of mind.

She does not look entire hopefull that this may come about, says that altho’ he is oblig’d to have dealings concerning her portion &C, 'tis all conduct’d via that fusty fellow Fosticue the attorney.

Indeed, dear Lady O-, says I, I confide it pains him considerable that he may not cut you off without a shilling for disobeying his wishes, but you are of age, have marry’d into rank, 'twould be more of a scandal to endeavour withhold it. Also going to law is an exceeding costly business.

She laughs and says, there is one thing she would desire, I have been such a friend to 'em, must we be so stiff and formal and will I not call her Nan as her family and friends do? At least when we are not in company where we must observe les convenances - sure she is little enough acquaint’d with those –

I should advize, says I, to go lesson yourself with Her Grace of M-, that is already your great friend. But, my dear, do I go call you Nan, you must do likewise and call me C-.

Oh, she says blushing greatly, that is exceeding kind of you. But might you not instruct me in the ways of Society?

Why, says I, I confide that my situation is rather different from that of a young lady just marry’d, and that the Duchess has been in a like position – and was not born in the purple so was oblig’d to study upon the conduct proper to her station, with the advice of Lady J- -

Nan shivers and says, sure one knows that Lady J- is a most estimable lady but indeed, I should not like to have to go ask her to her face.

Has not Lady J-, says I, become quite the romantick heroine? And even tho’ the Admiral is a fellow well-regard’d for his gallantry in warfare, and now has a tidy property, there are those were a little scandaliz’d that a Duke’s sister would stoop - for he is of no great birth.

Even so, she says with a smile, and even tho’ Miss A- will speak so well of her, I ever feel she regards me as an ill-conduct’d creature.

Why, says I, 'tis a most admirable thing I have observ’d in Lady J-, that she will concede to change her mind: do you go enquire of Her Grace I confide she will tell you the like.

Nan pulls a little face and says, well, mayhap she will speak to Her Grace, that all agree is quite the finest model for young ladies. But, she goes on, I forget the matter that dear Tony taskt me with, that was to say that he purposes a small dinner party at O- House, entirely good friends such as yourself and His and Her Grace, dear U- - is he not the finest brother a lady might have? – and mayhap Sir B- and Lady W-, and would greatly desire your company.

Why, 'tis most exceeding civil, says I. Sure I am bid about to a deal of Society occasions, but 'tis come the time when some already begin leave Town and go to their estates and I need no longer contrive to be in two places at once of an e’en so as not to show myself haughty. And indeed 'twould be entire congenial to dine at O- House in such company, and to see how Arabella comes along so that I may report to Seraphine.

There was one other thing, she says, casting down her eyes. Mrs Atkins is most extreme kind to my ignorance, but Charley was telling me how most exceeding helpfull 'twas to have some converse with Mrs F- on matters of housekeeping in a large establishment, and sure I am very ill-instruct’d in such matters, for I was a heedless creature that did not attend when dear Mama went about to give us some notions in the business, when her health permitt’d –

My dear Nan, says I, I confide that Mrs F- would be entire delight’d to convey her wisdom to you.

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Sure there are enough matters ado at R- House the while to occupy Agnes S-'s mind and keep her from brooding overmuch upon her sister, that she goes visit daily and says remains well in body and recovering health, but still seems lower’d in spirits.

(I hope that Lady P- does not go recount to her her deal of shocking tales concerning ills that come to children, that is what she will converse of as a variation from horrid obstetrickal tales. 'Twould lower anyone’s spirits.)

Eliza or I ever accompany her when she visits, so that we may distract Lady P-, or go converse with Lord D-, that I think has come into some theologickal tangle concerning the pains of childbirth, for there is his sweet innocent Theodora, quite the least sinfull of women and always concern’d to do good, suffer’d so exceeding. And he know that 'tis in the Bible concerning the initial sin of Eve, but –

I say, but have you not consider’d that even the brute creation goes travail to bring forth young (for sure, both Lord and Lady P- will discourse of the matter as it comes to cows even over the dinner-table) and that 'tis somewhat in the way of nature? But, I go on, seeing his somewhat shockt expression, I am an uneducat’d creature that did not even have the benefit of a Sunday School.

He says gloomyly that education will oft lead fellows astray. Sure Mr H- is a fine surgeon and the most expert of man-midwives, but he doubts not from things he says that he is a Deist if not an entire freethinker. (He may not have said so to Lord D-, but has expresst to me that one that had study’d anatomy might have made a better job of creation, for there are improvements might be made.)

Why, 'tis common among his profession, says I. But, Lord D-, do you purpose to come to the R- House tiffin-party? Pray, do not scowl at me so: meseems that 'twould be most entirely sanitive for you to go out and about a little and mingle in company, not at all a matter of self-indulgence. And I daresay you would come back with matter that you might talk of to Lady D- concerning the world outside her lying-in chamber, that would also be exceeding healthfull.

Well - , he says in considering tones, do you put it thus –

Why, then, says I, we shall hope to see you there. Is the weather fine, there is some thought of holding it upon the terrace, for the gardens are showing most exceedingly at present.

I succeed in obtaining his acceptance of the invitation, just as Agnes S- comes into the drawing-room.

We take our leave. In the carriage Agnes S- says that Dora seems a deal better in health but still somewhat mopish.

I say somewhat to the effect that Lady P-'s conversation would make Wellington mopish, 'tis quite the reverse of chearing even does she rehearse it in such hearty tones.

Miss S- covers her mouth with her hand, and then says, indeed 'tis so, cannot be good for poor Dora.

Indeed I think she means kindly, says I.

Sure, says Miss S-, she is exceeding good-natur’d. And then sighs.

But indeed I think she is somewhat distract’d, if not chear’d, by the matter of the drawing-room meeting and being desir’d by Meg to advize upon what she should play, making out cards for the raffle, &C.

The occasion itself is most exceeding successfull: sure there are a deal of ladies that desire see inside R- House, and even tho’ there is a larger room than my own pretty reception chamber to hold it in, 'tis well fill’d.

There is musick from Meg and from Mrs O- B- and her daughters, I read the extracts from Mr Atkins’s letter and further intelligence upon the work of the T-s in New South Wales, there is a most exceeding fine spread from Seraphine’s kitchens, the raffle goes well, and there is a very substantial collection.

I would be a little surpriz’d at the absence of Mrs D- that is the mother of Danvers D-, but has sent a little note to say that Miss R- is brought to bed and she goes be with her in place of her own mother. 'Tis a very kind thought, will also allow her to soothe Danvers D-'s concern that I am sure will be exceeding great.

Lady J- comes up to me and says that she would desire conclave at some time before she sails for the Mediterranean. Why, says I, I am at home to particular friends of a forenoon in the small parlour here, did you care to call. We may be entire private (for I daresay this is about the dear Admiral’s tastes).

She looks considering and says, sure she has a deal on hand at the moment to put matters in order before she departs, might she call the morn of the day His Lordship gives his tiffin-party?

Why, says I, 'tis entire answerable.

So on that morn she comes call upon me, and a footman brings us some of Seraphine’s excellent coffee and some fine biscuits, and I say to her, I have already prevail’d upon Seraphine to provide me with some pots of preserves and pickles and a particular sauce that the Admiral relishes, that she may take with her.

That is exceeding kind, she says, sure I know I am a curious kind of wife but I can at least study upon what will give my lawfull spouse pleasure -

She pauses, and I am like to suppose she thinks upon those pleasures that are lawfull within marriage –

She swallows and puts on a determin’d face and says, she would greatly desire that he did not think that she merely consider’d him as a means to increase -

Why, dear Lady J-, I confide that you have already discover’d that the Admiral is not a fellow that desires merely wifely submission -

There is a little colour in her cheeks as she says, so she discover’d –

- and what delights him is mutual pleasures and equal passion. (For does she wonder does the dear Admiral have any special pleasure, sure I have never found it out, beyond this quite admirable taste in amorous proceedings.)

O, she says, with an increas’d blush and the beginnings of a smile, sure I think I can come at that, tho’ 'tis a thing I never suppos’d I should like.

I am very pleas’d to hear it, says I.

She gives herself a little shake, and says, she purposes call at the estate on her way to Portsmouth, and dares say I know that Mr and Mrs de C- go make a visit there, with the intention that Mrs de C- may lye in in those healthfull surroundings.

Indeed, says I, Phoebe disclos’d this plan to me, a most excellent thing, and 'tis no great distance, she may readyly summon Mrs Black when the time comes. 'Tis exceeding kind in the S-s to invite ‘em.

Oh, dear Martha will cry that ’tis little enough after Mrs de C-'s most exemplary generosity last year.

O, says I, I am entire delight’d that they find the place so agreeable and that it answers for 'em so exceedingly, but sure one misses their company in Town.

But, I go on, I confide that we have been talking long enough that the tiffin-party must be gathering. I will, I continue, get one of the footmen to put this parcel in your carriage against your departure.

She stands and says, she will go join the company, and is quite infinite oblig’d to you, Lady B-, takes my hands and kisses me upon the cheek.

I am already dresst in the gown Docket had pickt out as suit’d to the occasion – 'tis quite warm enough the day for me to wear a fine muslin – but I go upstairs to my dressing-room so that she may fasten my fine pearls around my neck and secure a very pretty hat upon my head.

'Tis indeed a fine enough day that the party may take place upon the terrace of the west wing, that provides such a fine vista over the gardens.

There is already a deal of company arriv’d, and a fine table is spread as well as footmen going about with platters of currie-puffs and savoury fritters, cooling drinks, &C.

I see Sir B- W- talking to Lord D-, I daresay rallying him by discoursing of the joys of fatherhood.

I also see that the Marquess and Marchioness of O- are of the company, and I go up to greet them. Lady O-, as we must now style her, is looking quite entire radiant and makes most effusive towards me, desires that I will go visit 'em at D- Chase during the summer, they are in hopes to have an entire family party there. The Marquess looks on exceeding fond.

He then looks round and says, is that not S-, of the Bengal service? I heard he was come to Town along with his serpents -

Serpents? Says Lady O- with a frown, looking around as if they may be sliding about our feet.

O, says the Marquess, I do not suppose he brings his pets into company, but is a fellow that has took advantage of being in a place where there are a deal of 'em, to study snakes, that he declares have a very ill reputation that he doubts is deserv’d, are meek shy creatures that will hasten away if disturb’d, only bite when provokt, 'tis entire a matter of knowing how to deal with 'em.

So, says I, I have heard those with vicious dogs declare that they are quite the best of creatures, loyal, devot’d, will only attack evil-doers; one must suppose that they have some unusual ability at sniffing out evil in the most benign of hearts, for 'twill appear to any but their masters that they attack quite willy-nilly.

The Marquess laughs and says, indeed he is somewhat of the same opinion himself, and that he confides that snakes are touchy creatures that are like those fellows that are always seeing some insult.

I say that I am like to think 'twas after he had left Town that Josh F- acquir’d a mongoose -

I look about and observe that that exceeding curious creature has come see what is this ado.

Josh comes running out to pick it up and take it away.

The Marquess laughs and says doubtless it hears the discourse of snakes and hop’d to join battle.

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So 'tis that the following morn, I go call at O- House and desire to speak to Mrs Atkins.

I find, when I am admitt’d to the housekeeper's room, that Arabella, that has gone to D- Chase to oversee the kitchens there while the Marquess is in residence, has already writ to her to desire to get in hand certain matters of kitchen supplies against His Lordship’s return and thus she already has the business of ensuring that the house is quite entire ready well under hand.

However, she has a few questions that she is eager address to me about Her Ladyship’s quarters, and where they should put her maid. We therefore go and consider over which is the finest bedchamber that also has an antechamber best suit’d to serve as a dressing-room.

Once these decisions have been made, I go write a little note to Hector, desiring him to send shortly to O- House the carpenters that at present fit out my library, in order that they may put in the necessary presses, dressing-table, &C that the dressing-room will require, noting that also a pier-glass will be requir’d; and dispatch it by one of the O- House footmen.

After all this matter has been conclud’d, I ask her whether she would be so kind as to permit me to copy out some passages from her husband’s letter concerning the work of the T-s in New South Wales, so that I might include it in a pamphlet, and also, does she have no objections, might read 'em out at the drawing-room meeting I hold in aid of their work.

O, she says, somewhat tearfull, she is sure that he would be entire delight’d to be of such assistance in their fine work. So I sit down and copy out some fine extracts praising the T-s and the very salutary effect their endeavours have upon those that were in entire despair at having been transport’d to the distant ends of the earth.

We then have a very amiable tea-drinking and I say that I am in hopes of finding a woman of considerable experience to prefer to the place of lady’s maid, that might, do I find that the one I have in sight answers, most usefull come into residence shortly and advize upon the matters of the dressing-room &C.

She says that she apprehends that Her Ladyship is quite a young lady? Indeed, says I, and I confide has not had a deal of housekeeping experience, but I am sure that you will be able to provide any help she requires while she is learning the ropes. A fine young woman with an excellent heart.

We part with excellent good feeling on both sides, and I return to R- House, where I partake of a fine nuncheon with my dearest Eliza, Agnes S-, the dear girls and Miss N.

As the lady whose interest has been advanc’d to me by Mrs P- and Miss W- for the post of Lady O-'s maid lodges in that suburban part wherein Mr L- edits his newspaper, we take advantage of my going there with Docket to convoke with her to take with us Miss N-, Bess and Meg and Miss S-, to undertake a most exceeding educational excursion to his press.

'Tis an exceeding pretty place and one cannot wonder that there are those would prefer reside there out of the smoke of Town when 'tis so convenient close. We leave Miss N- and her party at the printing-works, saying we will call back later, and go on to where Mrs Lorimer lodges.

She admits us to her rooms, that, tho’ small, are clean and tidy, and we observe her to be a woman of a little under Docket’s own years. She appears a little over-aw’d, tho’ I know not whether this be because of my rank, or because of Docket, that is so fam’d in her profession.

She offers us tea, and we go sit and converse.

She was marry’d to a fellow that was doing exceeding well in the haberdashery line, kept a shop that is now under the hand of their son. At the mention of her son she goes sigh, and say, has marry’d a young lady that is entire business-like and a good housekeeper, but she and I cannot be in the same house without we jar upon one another. And my daughters are good dutyfull girls but they are in service, do not yet have their own households in which I might reside.

And sure, she goes on, I am none so old that I desire to do naught but eat the bread of idleness, even might I afford to do so, would wish to have occupation. Tho’ sure 'tis some while since I was in service myself, I go keep up with the modes by consulting La Belle Assemblée &C at the circulating library. And there is a lady writes pieces in the local paper, under the style of Sheba, that give one a very fine notion of what is in style, even does she write for the wives of the fellows that live in this place, that will not have more than mayhap one new gown in a season, and must go make over and refurbish &C.

Docket and I look at one another with private smiles.

Docket goes interrogate her on some several matters to do with their mysteries. She then gives a little nod, and says, 'tis well. Sure you might go lesson yourself a little with M. Lavalle, the hairdresser – sure he is no more French than I am, but has the matter in him – and Her Ladyship the Marchioness of O- already has the entrée at Mamzelle Bridgette’s. She turns to me and says that My Ladyship has been well-adviz’d and that Lorimer should do very excellent.

Does she, she goes on, come bring her boxes with her to O- House, 'twould be entire her own pleasure to take her around and make introductions.

Mrs Lorimer looks a little daunt’d by this sudden advancement, but nods and says that she is most entire oblig’d for this preference.

Once we are back in the carriage Docket says one may see that there is a woman has the matter in her even has she been shop-keeping these some several years. Will take her call upon Biddy and all the milliners, shoemakers, perfumers &C she will have to have dealings with, and hold a fine tea-drinking with Phillips and Williams and Bellamy &C, before all go out of Town for the summer.

'Tis very good of you, says I.

She gives a small smile and says, why, one that is so prepossesst by Tibby’s writings, one must like her judgement.

I look at her very fond.

When we come to the printing works the visiting party has not yet emerg’d; I get down and go inside to see what goes forth, which is that Mr L- has gone print up a page that purports to be from the paper that reports upon this visit, 'tis very charming in him, and now hands them out to his visitors. He looks exceeding fond at Miss N- and sure I confide that did he think he might offer her a secure living he would take her to church the morrow.

He comes over to me and says, please to excuse the inkyness of his hands, but 'tis a pleasure to see me. And do I go on any travels lately?

Only into the country about house-parties, says I, and to go see about matters upon my Shropshire estate.

He sighs a little, for I confide he is still in hopes of publishing further matter by A Lady of Rank, not knowing that he has lately publisht a very horrid tale about carnivorous flowers by the same hand.

Comes up Bess and says, did I know that they use lead to make the letters for printing? – she turns to Mr L- and says Aunty, that is, I mean Lady B-, has a lead-mine on her estate.

Indeed, says I, I had some such notion that ‘twas employ’d in this trade. 'Tis an entire usefull metal tho’ 'tis not count’d precious.

Indeed, says Miss N coming up to us, there is a fine speech in Shakspeare that we have heard Lady B- read. But tho’ this has been entire pleasant, and extreme instructive for the girls, I confide we should be about our return now?

I consult my pretty little watch – 'twas a gift long since from Sir C- F- at the conclusion of our Brighton summer - and say, indeed should we so.

So we take very civil farewells of Mr L-, and are driven back to R- House.

When I go in to the family room I find my darling looking somewhat askance at a deal of parcels pil’d up upon the floor. Hector, she says, came over with these that have been sent for Lady B-.

I frown at ‘em and say, sure I cannot think of any matter I sent for that is not somewhat that might just as well stay at my house until I return.

My darling rings for tea and I go about undoing string and unwrapping paper, with Mittens' kind assistance in the matter, and discovering what has been sent.

O, says I at length, I apprehend that the intelligence goes about that Lady B- is extending her premises and in particular having a dining-room put in, and there are a deal of tradesmen go consider that sure she will be requiring dinner-sets and silver-plate and her taste is give out most exceeding nice and 'twould give 'em a deal of comsequence was they known to have supply’d my wants in the matter. So they go about to send me samples of their work, and the catalogues of their wares, &C, in hopes of obtaining my interest.

Very civil letters to these gifts, I add, inviting me to call at their showrooms at my pleasure.

My darling goes pick up Mittens, that has been about ensuring that the wrapping paper does not go rise up and attack us, and chasing the naughty string that endeavours escape, &C, and laughs and says, sure our dearest is quite a paragon of good taste.

O, says I, looking at her very fond, indeed I am, Mrs F-.

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The next morn Eliza and I go with Miss S- to pay a call at P- House, with the intention that we shall go distract Lady P- and Lord D- while Agnes S- visits her sister in the lying-in chamber.

We also take a deal of flowers and hot-house fruit with us.

'Tis most entirely an answerable plan: my darling goes discourse of obstetrickal matters with Lady P-, and I go engage in conversation with Lord D-, that still looks pale and sunk-ey’d.

I go about with the usual congratulations on having a fine healthy son &C, and then proceed to say that sure we have most greatly delight’d in Miss S-'s company, and she has been of quite infinite assistance to me in the matter of arranging my drawing-room meeting. Sure, I hope that he and Lady D- may spare her a little longer until this occasion takes place, she makes herself so exceeding helpfull, and I daresay will become entire competent to undertake such an enterprize herself.

He looks me with mournfull eyes and says, sure, Mr H- has told him that Theodora must have a deal of rest and quiet for the next several days, and not be troubl’d with company, and provid’d that Miss S- comes visit from time to time he thinks it entire for the best, if 'tis no bother to the F-s, does she remain at R- House for a little while.

He adds that he is sure that Lady D- will be sorry to miss the drawing-room meeting, but will still be lying-in.

('Twould not, I fear, be entire tactfull to mention the propos’d tiffin-party of Milord’s.)

'Tis entirely an understood thing, says I, no-one would expect her to rise just yet.

He adds that he is sure she would desire him to make some contribution on her behalf to such an excellent cause (I confide he does not entirely mind what cause 'tis, for he looks most exceeding preoccupy’d.)

'Tis most exceeding generous, says I.

He sighs somewhat and looks over to where his mother talks to Eliza, that is only oblig’d to make exclamations in order to keep up her part in it, and says, had never quite encompasst how hard a thing 'tis for women, an entire ordeal. Indeed he was reliev’d to hear from Mr H- that her cries were quite entire in the normal order of things and did not go signify any disaster, but - o, my poor Theodora –

'Tis perhaps not entire proper but I pat his hand very sympathetick as I make some commonplace statement that there is the subsequent joy of the child.

He does not look entire convinc’d.

Comes into the room Agnes S- and says that she sees how very tir’d is her sister and does not wish exhaust her further or keep her from restorative slumber.

Lord D- says he hopes that she will continue to come visit, but he confides that at present 'twill be entire for the best does she remain at R- House, and expresses himself most exceeding gratefull to Eliza for her hospitality.

O, cries Eliza, 'tis quite an pleasure, she makes herself an entire favourite with the children and shows most helpfull to Lady B- over this drawing-room meeting.

We take our leave. In the carriage Eliza says, sure Mr H- will joke that has never yet lost a husband, but sure Lord D- looks in poor case. Cannot help having his mama reciting a deal of horrid tales.

Miss S-, that looks pale and concern’d, says, Dora seem’d disinclin’d to talk much, but there were tears would roll down her face.

Why, says Eliza, 'tis a common matter so shortly after the birth, somewhat to do with the humours. And did you see the babe?

O yes, says Agnes S- with a little smile, a fine fellow tho’ somewhat markt about the face.

'Twill fade, says Eliza.

Oh, Mrs F-, says Agnes S-, leaning over to clutch at her hand, I am so very glad of your good sense and experience in these matters.

Eliza pats her hand and says does she have any concerns she is entire welcome to open 'em to her, for fie upon these notions of preserving maidenly modesty thro’ entire ignorance.

O, thank you! cries Agnes S-, bursting into tears, and saying, sure she has gone about in the library to see might she enlighten herself a little, but 'tis all most exceeding confusing.

When we are arriv’d at R- House, Eliza sends to desire Seraphine to have some of the soothing drink made up, 'tis quite entirely what Miss S- needs.

I see that Hector has been with my correspondence, and I confide is now about giving the little boys some lessoning in the pugilistick art. I determine to leave my darling and Miss S- to convoke together about the mysteries of womanhood, and therefore take my traveling desk and my letters into the small parlour to leave 'em in privacy.

I see that there is a letter from the Marquess of O-. I discover that he and his dearest Hippolyta have determin’d upon returning to Town, for they do not wish to seem to be hanging their heads at D- Chase in fear of the judgements of Society and waiting until the matter has blown over before showing their faces. Sure there is very little of the Season left, but he dares say they may put themselves about a little and defy scandal.

This being so, he dares to take the liberty to desire their benevolent angel, Lady B- -

- O, poo! says I aloud –

- to ascertain that all is in order at O- House. 'Tis indeed an imposition, but he hopes that in due course he may demonstrate their gratitude –

- o, tush! I cry –

- and there was also the matter of a personal maid for his dearest lady. Sure they have contriv’d at D- Chase but his dearest confides that the local society may now have a very strange notion of crack Town style.

Why, says I, do I not contrive this –

The door opens and Josiah looks around and says, he heard me speaking but none reply’d. Is all well?

O, says I, I am a foolish C- that vociferates at a letter I have just had. 'Tis no heavy matter. But, do you come in a moment and close the door, for I had a matter to open to you.

(I have seen that there is also a letter in the pile from dearest Belinda, that I confide deals with the arrangements for the Derby.)

I open to him that I shall be joining Belinda and Captain P- for the occasion, and I daresay I shall dine with 'em and their set at the hostelry where they stay in Epsom. Last year while they were in Town I had 'em to a private dinner at my house, but my pretty parlour is at present under dust-sheets so 'twill not answer. I daresay I might arrange for a private room at M. Duval’s eating-house and treat ‘em there –

Why, says Josiah, I can see no objection in the slightest to having 'em for a private dinner here, when I consider how much we owe 'em for their fine care of Josh last year, and what very excellent people they are. I daresay, Society’s conventions being what they are, one should not invite other guests that might be unwilling to see their merits on account of the irregularity of their connexion, for one would not want 'em insult’d, but an entire private affair – really I can see no objection, tho’ I might just have a word with His Lordship, that has such an exceeding nice sense of the proper ton of any occasion.

O, says I, that is most extreme good of you. Milord has quite the highest esteem for both of 'em. But ‘tis a curious thing, there are many will say what a shocking wretch was the mad Marquess, and express themselves entire sympathetick to dear Belinda’s plight ty’d to such a one, but would not sit down at dinner with her. Whereas, says I with a little grimace, because there was said certain words over my own dear late Marquess and myself by a clergyman, the same ones will quite ignore my own history and indeed go be entire encroaching.

I wish we might have had some acquaintance of the fellow, says Josiah, for not only did he show so exceeding benevolent to the best of C-s, His Lordship and MacD- will ever speak most highly of him.

Indeed, says I, becoming a little tearfull, I should have lik’d to have known him longer myself.

But, says I, rallying myself a little, do the Marquess of O- and his lady return to Town so very soon, I daresay they will arrive in time to attend Milord’s tiffin-party, 'twill be quite entire the thing. Sure I will send him a little note so that he may send cards to O- House.

And, I continue, I will go call at O- House myself this afternoon and ensure that all is in readyness for their arrival. Also, says I, I must contrive most expeditious to interview this lady that Mrs P- and Miss W- think might properly be preferr’d to the post of a lady’s maid for the new marchioness, along with Docket, that will be better able to sound out her capacities.

Josiah grins and murmurs How doth the little busy bee and adds that Satan would be quite bewilder’d by the busyest of C-s, for she never has idle hands for him to find work for.

Fiddlesticks! I cry. Sure I daresay there are plenty would consider that writing horrid tales was quite entire the devil’s work; apart from a deal of other matters that I am about that I confide the Evangelickal interest would not in the least approve.

We look at one another with exceeding fond memories.

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Eliza and I dissuade Agnes S- from most immediate going visit Lady D-, for we confide that at present she lyes in exhaust’d sleep and that 'tis most needfull to her to do so. No, say we, she will be about recovering and 'twould be a deal better to go tomorrow, especial is Lord D- laid up with an attack of the megrim.

(I collect also that Lady P- is one that finds relish in talking of obstetrickal horrors both in cows and the human animal, and am not entire certain that she will mind on Agnes S-'s state and not talk of such matters while she is there.)

Miss S- is showing somewhat reluctant to hearken to our wisdom in this matter, when comes calling most extreme civil Mr H-, that wishes assure her that her sister is entire well but most exceeding tir’d, for you know, my dear, do you not, that 'tis quite justly known as labour? For I confide there are few tasks that make such demands upon the corporeal frame as bearing a child.

Miss S-, somewhat tearfull, thanks him very much for this kindness – 'tis indeed exceeding thoughtfull, especial in one that has, we daresay, been up all night himself attending upon the accouchement.

He adds, a fine large boy, that cries lustyly, an excellent sign.

Eliza walks with him to the door, having offer’d coffee that he has declin’d.

Sure, says I, for all his blunt ways, Mr H- is quite one of the kindest of men.

O, indeed, says Agnes S-, that then goes weep somewhat upon my shoulder.

My dear, says I, you have had a deal of turmoil these last few days, but I am like to suppose that what would do you a deal of good would be to undertake a little healthfull exercise by going riding with the children when His Lordship takes 'em to the Park.

She looks up and says, o, 'twould be very agreeable, does it not offer to look heartless.

I am ever confus’d, says I, that there are those that think because another suffers or is in some bad case, 'twill aid at all to go make themselves suffer quite needless. A little recreation is entire sanitive in your case, why, I am somewhat astonisht that Mr H- did not go advize it, must be because he is so tir’d himself.

After the riding-party go out, I go sit with my darling in the family room and she says that Mr H- convey’d to her some matter about the case that he was not sure was suitable to tell Miss S-: viz: that 'twas indeed a large infant and he was oblig’d to resort to forceps at the end –

Well, says I, at least he did not proceed to the Caesarean operation -

- that will leave certain signs on the child that should dissipate. And he confides that Lady D- took the business badly – for she is so very young – and he hopes that she will mind that 'twould be entire deleterious to go telling her sister the details of the ordeal.

I sigh. I wonder, says I, whether we might prevail upon her to stay a little longer, while her sister lyes in.

'Twould be an excellent thing – provid’d, says Eliza with a little grimace, that she does not go night-walking again – but she may consider that we tempt her with parties of pleasure away from her duty.

Why, says I, His Lordship’s tiffin-party – a drawing-room meeting for the benefit of the T-s’ work in New South Wales – 'tis hardly wild dissipation.

But, says my darling, she takes such a deal of enjoyment about everything – helping Josh in feeding his menagerie and keeping it clean, doing chymickal experiments with the girls and Miss N-, playing with the nursery-set. Sure she is a very agreeable guest.

She is an excellent young woman, says I.

Would that one might find her a husband of matching excellence, says my best wild girl, because does she not marry I fear she will be condemn’d to the life of a maiden aunt in her sister’s household.

That is a very good thought, I reply, for altho’ she could quite afford to live alone, or at least with some suitable companion, I think she would be reluctant to leave her sister for any other reason than that for which one forsakes all others. And I confide that Lord D- is entire happy that she lives with 'em –

I am like to think, says Eliza looking thoughtfull, that she must give a deal of assistance in household matters.

Most like! But the trouble is to find one that likes her for herself and not for her fortune or her family connexions. And one that she would believe was in all sincerity in his protestations, for she has a deal of suspicions about fellows that make suit to her, and one cannot consider it misguid’d.

We sigh.

There is a little tap upon the door and comes in Miss N-, that has had the day off so that she might attend Fraulein H-'s wedding.

We ask her how all went off, and she says, entire satisfactory, they are now man and wife, and Frau H- put up a very fine breakfast – very much, she adds, in a Germanick style or so she would confide – but they do not make any wedding journey, because she has classes to give, and he is to undertake correspondence for Mr K-'s enterprizes. She looks a little sadden’d by this.

'Twas all, she adds, a very quiet occasion.

I daresay she thinks a little mournfull of the still distant prospect of her own marriage to Mr L-.

I remark that sure 'twould be a deal more agreeable did one marry a husband that by his own merits and efforts had got himself into such a position that he might take one on some fine wedding trip. Does not need to be some Grand Tour - Martha S- will ever remark on how agreeable they found theirs to Weymouth.

Why, says Eliza, we had no wedding journey: or rather, we took a delay’d excursion to Scarborough after Harry was born. But at the time we wed 'twould have been exceeding imprudent for Mr F- to leave the works. (She most discreet says nothing of her own condition at the time, that would not have been favourable to travel.)

Miss N- says it must be a very fine thing to see the castles of the Rhine or the palaces of Venice, but 'tis surely who one sees ‘em with that matters.

Entirely so! says Eliza.

Miss N- then says she purposes go and write up a few pieces for the paper, and Mr L- has had some thought that the little things she writes might be put up in a book.

An excellent thing, says I, sure there are those that do not aspire to be Miss Herschel and discover new comets, but would appreciate some little guide to what one may see in the night sky at particular seasons.

Miss N- smiles very pretty and takes her leave.

Eliza sighs and says, sure 'tis most exceeding selfish of her, but Miss N- answers so well that she cannot help hoping that Mr L- finds he may not go marry her for some years yet.

I laugh and say the world must be peopl’d!

Eliza laughs. The most Shakspearean of C-s will find somewhat in the Bard to any occasion!

We look at one another with exceeding affection.

Then comes a footman to say that the younger Mr K- has call’d, are we at home to him?

Indeed, says Eliza, show him in, and I will ring for tea.

Enters Sebastian K- and makes us a leg. Says he has some papers to leave about the pickle factory. could have left those with the footman, but came in to see whether Miss S- would like to join Vi and her other chicks at the theatre this e’en.

Why, says Eliza, she has gone ride in the Park with the children at present, but I confide she would be delight’d. Indeed answers exceeding well, for we are bidden, and so is Lady B-, to a dinner-party at the O- B-'s, and did not like to leave her alone here when she must still be fretting somewhat over her sister.

He asks have we had any news from P- House, and we recount to him the state of affairs.

He then says, he is most exceeding gratefull that we have put them in the way of acquiring a further German correspondence clerk, for indeed there is a deal more work in that line than they could expect Fraulein H- to manage. Have reacht an agreement with the fellow – sure he does not have the most gracious manner, but displays considerable apprehension, so mayhap there might be advancement for him in due course.

Is he not, he goes on with a slight frown, some connexion of Jacob S-?

No, says I, 'tis the U-s, that are associates of Mr S-'s father, the tenants of my little place in Surrey, that are some connexion. But I am like to think, I continue, that unlike the U-s, he does not adhere to ancestral ways, indeed, I would suppose him somewhat of a freethinker.

Sebastian K- then says, sure, he heard that the fellow went to church with Fraulein H- to be wed the day.

(I observe that he looks somewhat gratify’d by the thought, and I daresay has been in some concern that he might find the fair Fraulein in a stepmother’s place.)

Eliza says, indeed, they have just heard all about it from Miss N-, that stood bridesmaid.

'Tis somewhat sudden, he comments, but I daresay Vi will be about giving 'em some present, for she is very fond of the Fraulein. Do you know whether she will still be going about giving lessons &C, or will she be devoting herself to keeping house?

As they continue reside with her mother, says I, that is consider’d an entire paragon of the domestick arts, I confide she will still be about her accustom’d round, tho’ may come a time –

(That I daresay will be sooner rather than later.)

Of course, says Sebastian K-.

My dear naughty Eliza smiles and says the world must be peopl’d!

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I gesture to my darlings to go conceal themselves in the dressing-room, whilst I go see what ado this might be.

Once they have done so very expeditious, I go open the door a crack and see Miss S- standing there in somewhat of a taking. Oh, Lady B-, she cries, forgive me for disturbing your slumbers, but I find my mind in such a whirl that I cannot sleep, I fear I may become quite entire hysterickal, I am in such concern about poor Dora –

She goes on to babble that mayhap she should have defy’d Lord D-, and insist’d upon staying with her sister at this time.

My dear, says I, even was you at P- House 'twould be a deal of anxious waiting rather than anything you might put your hand to. Now, let me convey you back to your own bed, and I will just find the little bottle of brandy I keep by me for emergencies, so that you may take a little to calm this nervous fit and help you sleep.

I put my arm about her waist and we walk along the corridor back to her own bedchamber, and she babbles a little further of how Sophy told her that Lady B- was an entire favourite at R- House, quite one of the family, her own chamber, along with its dressing-room and quarters for Docket and Sophy, kept quite entire for her own use, indeed, one sees that 'tis quite so, that 'tis no matter of some formal visit in state but quite as if you were Mrs F-'s sister.

(Sure I think 'tis not merely her fine sisterly concern for Lady D- that brings about this state, but that 'tis some delay’d effect of her abduction.)

We arrive at her own bedchamber, and I go smooth her pillow and straiten the ruffl’d sheets, and bring her to take a little brandy, for I think 'twill be quite entire sanitive for her condition, and make her go lye down, and sit beside the bed talking in soothing tones of quite indifferent matters that will not go agitate her further. After a little while she grows drowsy and in due course sleeps. I pull up the covers – tho’ sure 'tis a warm night and she is unlike to take a chill - and then return to my own fine reserv’d chamber.

My darlings creep out from the dressing-room with expressions of relief.

Sophy, says I, was boasting upon the fine reserv’d chamber that is kept for me, so I confide 'tis how she knew where to find me.

Why, says Eliza, 'twould look extreme particular to tell the household that they must not disclose where Lady B- sleeps.

Indeed Lady B- may have enemies, says Josiah, but sure one would not be in fears that they might send some assassin to murder her in her bed.

Quite so, says I. But now, my darlings, let us go back to bed and try and sleep a little after these alarums and excursions.

I am therefore perchance not quite so ready to welcome the dear children for the morning levée as I am wont. But I cannot be morose and sullen when my precious Flora comes snuggle up to me to be a wakefull wombatt, the lovely darling.

I go down to the dining-room to take a little breakfast. Josiah is still at table, and tells me that there has been word from P- House but only to say matters are still in hand, no news as yet.

'Tis hard to have to wait upon such matters, says I.

Josiah sighs and says, indeed 'tis: I confide that he recalls not only how he was pacing up and down while I was in labour with darling Flora in Surrey but also similar matters at Eliza’s several accouchements.

Once I have breakfast’d I take my traveling desk and go sit in the small parlour, for I am in some hopes that Mrs N- may come call.

’Tis indeed so: she looks about her and says, sure 'tis not so charming as your parlour, but 'tis exceeding fine.

I ring for coffee and say that the coffee will be of entire similar quality with Seraphine in the kitchens.

Comes up coffee and some very fine cakes.

She looks at me a little roguish and says that she hopes that this residence suits me (I am like to suppose that she shares in the suspicions that I am up some secret stair to go romp with Milord or Sandy or both).

Why, 'tis all extreme comfortable, says I, and quite Liberty Hall, but my dear, is there any news of Miss R-?

Mrs N- sighs and says, has quite of a sudden become enormous and her understudy takes over her parts, but no sign yet of her being brought to bed. My poor Mr J- is quite put about in the matter and wishes she would go get it over with and come back on the stage.

Sure I think he is being somewhat hopefull, for even is she deliver’d shortly she will be oblig’d to lye in.

Mrs N- sighs and says, the poor creature (by which I understand her to mean Mr J- rather than Miss R-).

But, says I, is there any other news?

Oh, indeed, she says, that antient admirer of Mrs O’C- goes at last back to his estates in Ireland, without having attain’d to marrying her, or any of those well-dower’d ladies he was hanging out for. For indeed 'twas rather too obvious that a fellow that was about horse-coping upon all occasions whether proper to such an endeavour or not was in an intention to repair his fortunes. And is not a fellow of such exceeding charms that ladies are like to fall into his arms.

Indeed not, says I, sure Mrs O’C- had fond memories of youthfull flirtations, but found he had gone off considerable.

And sure 'twould be difficult to build up a fine connexion of fellows that desir’d special pleasures was she bury’d in the Irish countryside!

That minds me, says I – more coffee? another cake? – that Lord K- is among her present patrons I apprehend, tho’ sure I know not what his particular special pleasure may be, indeed I had rather not know. But I hear it rumour’d that his mind may at last be turning to a second marriage –

My dear! indeed! I was about to tell you that he is give out to have been showing most markt attentions to Mrs D- K- in Tunbridge Wells. I suppose he does not move in the kind of set where he would hear of her shocking history –

The matter of being requir’d to pay the late Mr D- K-'s gambling debts with her favours? says I – Mrs N- nods – indeed he is not in any gambling set, a sober dull fellow, perchance he has not heard the gossip tho’ sure 'tis very widely circulat’d around the clubs.

Sure he cannot have heard it, says Mrs N-, for is give out such a fastidious fellow that he finds no lady to match his first wife. And then there is his mother, that dragon Lady T-, such an epitome of correct ton –

I sigh. Tho’ says I, had I had such a marriage as Mrs D- K- had, I would not be jumping into another.

'Tis somewhat, says Mrs N-, running to the other extreme.

She passes on to me a few more current on-dits before jumping up and saying indeed she must to the theatre.

Well, I am most exceeding reliev’d to hear that Mr O’N- goes about taking his congé. But I am perturb’d by this matter of Lord K- and cannot untangle it.

I take out my proofs, and determine that I must go see is there a Spanish dixionary in the R- House library, for there are a few words in Spanish I have put in that do not look quite right.

So I go to the west wing and up to the library, and find there Sandy seat’d at the writing desk scowling and scribbling.

How now, says I, I confide that I encounter Deacon Brodie about some stringent matter of criticism.

You do indeed so, says he, pushing the matter away. But sure 'tis a pleasure to see our dear sibyl. Does there come any news from P- House yet?

I shake my head. But I do not think 'tis yet time to worry: except, of course, child-bearing is ever a perilous matter, and thus one cannot help but do so. But, my dear bello scozzese, let me go distract my mind by chiding you for not telling me that the A- house-party is of a quite different nature this summer, and that you go, and that there will be deep philosophickal discussions, tho’ I daresay also cricket &C.

Why, 'tis quite a recent notion that we take, for sure altho’ there is still an empty-head’d wastrel set, 'twill be a little reduc’d this summer, what with the loss of Foliott Fanshawe, Lord A- being about his bridal tour, Danvers D- I daresay entirely took up with new fatherhood - and the somewhat younger fellows that begin join G-'s set are of a somewhat less fribble nature.

Indeed, he has invit’d Sebastian K-, and the Earl’s sons, and – no, dear silly creature, 'twas not Lord Geoffrey expresst a hope that I should be there, 'twas Lord U-, that said sure must be like the antient Greeks, with exercise for the mind and for the body. At which G- took the thought that, after all, here am I most widely accept’d in Society and meeting several of the fribble-set in the clubs, go playing goff with Lord A-, 'tis a quite different matter from what us’d to be, why should I not go?

Why not indeed, says I, providing that you manifest due discretion.

He looks a little dourly Calvinistickal but then laughs and says, even so, 'twill be most agreeable.

I am about looking for the Spanish dixionary when comes in Eliza, saying that she thought she would find me here was I not still in the small parlour and not being a tiger in the nursery. And word has come that Lady D- has borne a fine large healthy boy, and that Lady P- was delay’d coming up from Shropshire by an accident upon the road and is there with her now, and the note was from her, for Lord D- lyes abed with a megrim.

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Why, says Eliza to Agnes S-, sure we have not had any come from P- House the morn, do you have any concern about matters there, do you go write your own note to send by one of the footmen and he can ask if anything’s ado.

Agnes S- bites her lip and says 'tis surely the thing to do. I offer her the use of my traveling desk while she scribbles a brief note that says nothing of the adventures she has lately undergone.

Eliza rings for a footman and one comes most expeditious. He is dispatcht with the note and instruct’d to ask how matters go at P- House.

Eliza and I look at one another and we can both quite suppose that has Lady D- gone into labour, Lord D- would be entirely too preoccupy’d between sending for Mr H- and seeing her bestow’d in the birth-chamber &C to remember to write to his sister-in-law. And one may quite imagine that he is like to become exceeding agitat’d over the matter.

Sure, says Agnes, looking worry’d, there have been ladies allud’d to the matter in low voices as an ordeal, and I cannot help but think that 'twould soothe Dora’s mind was I there.

(Sure I confide 'twould, but indeed I am not sure of the propriety of the matter even without Lord D-'s various qualms.)

In order to distract her mind I ask that if 'tis not an imposition she might assist me in seeing who will be coming to my drawing-room meeting and who has sent regrets.( I daresay I shall have the matter to do over again.)

Some little while later the footman returns with a note from P- House. I see Agnes S-'s hands shake a little as she unfolds it. O, she says, Dora is brought to bed and Mr H- has arriv’d. That is all he writes.

Why, says I, she is in most excellent hands, does one have a man-midwife one could not do better than Mr H-.

Sure, says Agnes S-, 'tis indeed encouraging to think so.

But she still looks somewhat concern’d: and indeed I am like to wonder whether Lady D- does not feel the want of the elder sister that has ever stood her protector and champion at this time. I also wonder a little that Lady P- does not come up to Town to attend upon the accouchement.

I know not what I might recommend to her to do to occupy her mind and distract her thoughts, but comes Miss N- to say that this afternoon she purposes to show the girls and Josh a few simple chymical experiments out of the works of Mrs Marcet, and Miss S- is entire welcome to join 'em.

O, she cries, that would be entire delightfull! sure I must be about acquiring my own copy of Mrs Marcet’s excellent works. What a very fine education you provide, Miss N-.

Miss N- looks exceeding gratify’d and says, of course her sister Ellie, that has gone to New South Wales, was the clever one.

So I feel I may leave her in those good hands, and go about the various calls I should make. Tho’ when I am in contemplation that several of those are about soothing ruffl’d feathers among the orphanage ladies, sure I think I had rather be being instruct’d by the wise words of Mrs Marcet.

I also go visit Mrs P-, that usual has Miss W- with her, and mention to 'em that I should be most desirous of knowing whether they would ever have any lady’s maids upon the books of their fine enterprize?

Surely, says Miss W-, you are not come about to replace the fam’d Docket?

Indeed not, says I, and Docket brings on young Sophy in quite the finest way; but there are young ladies in my circle go marry and thus can no longer share their mothers’ or sisters’ maids and so I look about on their behalf.

Mrs P- looks thoughtfull and says, mayhap they do, she will have to look over their records, but – she turns to Miss W-, was there not that lady that had been in that kind of service afore she marry’d, and now is widow’d and her son marry’d to a woman that will not have her live with 'em, and her daughters all out in good service but unable offer her a home –

Would be a somewhat older lady I hazard? says I.

But says, Mrs P- replies, that she keeps up with the modes -

I take a thought that doubtless, did she find a place among my circle, I might prevail upon Docket to admit her to the conclaves of her set.

Was there not also, says Miss W-, that unfortunate young woman that was seduc’d by her employer’s son, and had a child, that her sister looks after for her, but she would wish to be in some place that would enable her to pay somewhat towards its keep? A fine young woman that was beguil’d.

Why, says I, might we convoke further upon this?

After I have done all this, I give myself the pleasure of going call upon Lady N-, that sure is lying upon a sopha with Selina purring upon her chest but looks a deal better in herself than she was wont when first I made her acquaintance.

Dear Lady B-, she cries, sitting up and holding out her arms, at which Selina goes look affront’d and jumps to the floor, 'tis an entire delight to see you! and looking so well!

I go sit beside her and she rings for tea.

She beams at me and says she has had quite the finest letter from dear Nan, 'tis entirely delightfull how happy she shows, nothing but praise for her dear Tony and what a fine place is D- Chase.

She then goes on to tell me of the most exceeding fine excursion her dear boys took her on to Ranelagh, o, the entire difference that having an invalid carriage makes! And such good sons that will push it, and lift it are there any obstructions - indeed, my dear, I am most fortunate in 'em.

They are excellent fellows, says I.

And getting into a very good set, she goes on. I hear, she continues, that Viscount R- has invit’d 'em to a house-party at A- when Society goes out of Town.

Why, an excellent thing, says I, quite in the finest of ton, a deal of manly sports I daresay – for 'tis a bachelor party - tho’ indeed, there is an exceeding fine library at A-, and the most fascinating cabinet of curiosities –

Indeed, says Lady N-, I am to apprehend that there will be exercise for the mind as well as the body, for Geoff tells me that Mr MacD- will be there and he doubts not there will be some fine peripatetick philosophy discusst as they walk about the grounds.

(I feel a certain chagrin even to resentment that neither Milord nor Sandy has inform’d me of this plan, that this year 'twill not be an entirely fribble-set occasion.)

Entire charming! says I.

Also the Marquess has invit’d 'em to go frolick at D- Chase – says 'twill be entire informal, quite Liberty Hall. She sighs a little and I daresay thinks that her summer will doubtless be spent at Monk’s G-. (Sure I have not receiv’d any invitation to any house-party there: indeed, I confide that my invitation last year was so that I might go prefer the Earl’s interest to Roberts.)

I am sure, says I, he would be entire delight’d to see you there as well.

She looks thoughtfull, but before she can say any more come tumbling into the room Ladies Emily and Louisa and their brothers, that all make very effusive towards me.

I hasten home after making my farewells, for a theatre-party in Milord’s box is propos’d for the e’en and I daresay Docket will go scold me for leaving so little time to be dresst suitable.

I am inform’d that there has not yet been any further news from P- House (indeed I did not think this likely). I hope that the play will be one that will engage Miss S-'s attention and distract her mind from worry.

I am in supposition that we all hope that there may be news when we re-enter, but there is still no word. Agnes S- looks worry’d, altho’ we all go say that 'twould be most unusual to expect anything yet, sure we would hear nothing until the morn, and endeavour raise her spirits.

Then all go to bed, and I go to my dressing-room, where I open to Docket the matter of the lady's maids, and she sniffs a little and then says, sure does My Ladyship suppose 'em convenable for the preference I purpose, she would of course do her best to assist the poor creatures to find their feet in quality service.

Why, Docket, says I, I could not suppose that there is any at whose feet they might sit and gain greater wisdom in their calling.

Mayhap! says Docket.

Once I am array’d for bed I step thro’ the door into my fine reserv’d chamber.

'Tis not long until my darlings come to join me, 'tis entire delightfull.

But in a little while we express that mayhap we too are a little concern’d as to how matters may be going with Lady D-. Might you not, says I to Eliza, have some little discourse with Miss S- and ease her mind somewhat?

Mayhap, she says, there will come word the morn. But the first time oft comes hard: I did what I might to soothe the child’s worries, but indeed, I confide ever is somewhat of a shock when it comes about to happen.

We sigh and I think of my own ordeal with my lovely Flora.

As we are settling to comfortable rest, comes a timid knocking at my chamber door.

We all sit up and look at one another.

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My darlings are very glad indeed to hear the intelligence of Miss S-'s safe return when they come in after their party, but 'tis not until we are in triangle later that I convey to them the full story. Eliza growls and says, o, was the Admiral in Town; and Josiah says somewhat about punching of noses.

Indeed, my dear ones, your sentiments do you quite the greatest credit, but I think with a little reflexion upon the matter, you will see that 'tis entirely best for Agnes S- that the business be kept close. 'Tis not just a matter of her reputation – tho’ Mr Miles O’N- had not proceed’d to put her into a situation where she might feel she had no alternative but to marry him, mayhap 'twas merely because he had not had the time, for getting her away from Town and on the road to wherever he aim’d at must have been his most urgent thought – but I confide that there are those that would go speculate and whisper behind their fans as to what might have happen’d, and recall the narrative of Clarissa Harlowe.

But aside from that, that is indeed a most material thing for a young woman, even does one confide that her very large dowry might persuade gentlemen to overlook any such scandal, there is the matter of Lord and Lady D-. Already she is wont to chafe under their extreme concern for her, that is indeed entire exaggerat’d – for have we not had this evidence of what a very level-head’d young woman she is, that will not go faint or have a fit of the vapours but be climbing out of windows &C – and do they hear of this, I am in quite the greatest supposition that her condition would be, entire out of quite the greatest care and affection for her, that of a prisoner.

O, cries Eliza, there is our most thoughtfull of C-s, takes a long view in the matter. But might not Mr O’N- go about in some fashion - ?

Hah, says I, does Matt Johnson go lay hands upon him and mind him of the majesty of the law &C, I confide he will be about taking the ferry back across the Irish Sea to his Castle Rackrent and his nags with most extreme expedition.

Why, our dearest, says Josiah, indeed altho’ Mr Johnson has ever show’d exceeding amiable towards you and towards the boys, I quite entirely confide that he must be entire terrifying towards malefactors and 'twill be an entire salutary warning to that scoundrel.

Indeed, says I. But now, my darlings, you must go tell me of this party you were at and how much you were both admir’d.

Eliza, the naughty wild creature, says she has a notion worth two of that.

Comes the morn and after my regular levée chocolate party, that these days includes the mongoose that will, if not hinder’d, go inspect our cups lest there be some serpent goes lurk in 'em that it might fight, I go into my dressing-room.

Docket, says I, I hope you have not been giving Sophy a scold for what happen’d yesterday.

Indeed not, says Docket, sure she conduct’d herself as prudent as might be – stuck the saucy rogue with a hat-pin, went look for Miss S-, and finding her not came back here to let you know what was afoot. I confide I could not have done more myself. Indeed I have told her to sleep in the morn, for yesterday will have tir’d her considerable.

We are like to think, says I, that the saucy fellow was very like a confederate in the matter.

'Tis indeed like, says Docket, tho’ sure there are a deal of coarse scoundrels insult women in the streets, the wretches.

Her face softens and she says that she is glad Sophy came to no greater harm.

Sure I think she grows considerable fond of Sophy. I wonder has she reveal’d her secret to her, but 'tis entirely her business and I do not go interrogate.

We have prevail’d upon Agnes S- to remain in bed, at least during the morn, and had a nice little breakfast took up to her on a tray.

I am mind’d that 'twould be of great benefit to have some discourse with Mrs N- and discover what on-dits go flying around at present, in particular whether she has heard aught of Lord K-'s interest in Mrs D- K-.

My darling, says I to Eliza, you should not mind if I mention’d to old friends that they might call upon me here quite informal of a forenoon?

Indeed not, says my dearest, and there is the small parlour that you might receive 'em in.

'Tis very good of you, says I.

Eliza laughs and says she would not hinder our spymistress general about her work.

I therefore open my traveling desk and write little notes to Mrs N- and Miss A- (I daresay Miss R- is by now not going about very much) as well as to Susannah and Viola that may desire come convoke at some time when we are not like to be broke in upon by formal callers.

I am about that and a little other correspondence when comes Hector with a deal more letters for me. I look thro’ them and sigh a little, for looks like a deal of philanthropick matter that I must be about, as well as those that accept to come to my drawing-room meeting for the benefit of the T-'s work in New South Wales.

But there is one addresst in a hand that seems somewhat familiar, in a cover frankt by Sir B- W-: 'tis from Mrs D- K-. I settle to reading it.

She begins by saying she has again manag’d to discover where the old b---h keeps her frankt covers – never goes offer her one in case there are those she might write to – and has abstract’d one so that she may write to me.

She has lately, she writes, been in receipt of what she can only deem attentions from Lord K-, but they are very unlike the kind of attentions she has been wont to receive from gentlemen. And, indeed, she apprehends from things he has let drop that his intentions would be entire honourable, for he will talk a good deal of the shocking ways some fellows go on towards women, that they should honour and respect, so she apprehends that he is neither about a seduction nor offering her carte blanche. 'Tis not, she confides, that he is some strict Evangelickal fellow like that pompous bore Lord D-, so she knows not what to make of it.

Sure, did he indeed intend an honourable suit to her, 'twould be a most tempting prospect, for besides any matter of rank and wealth, he strikes her as a very kindly gentle fellow; but for the fact that his mother is that implacable dragon Lady T-, that she knows has took her in the greatest dislike. And she will concede that 'tis entire just, for when she was marry’d to that wretch she behav’d in quite the worst of ton herself, as well as being taint’d by her husband’s bad ways.

(I am most prepossesst that she does not quite immediate take to this match as a means of revenge upon Lady T- for her scorn.)

I sit looking upon this and considering over how I might reply, when Matt Johnson is announc’d.

He comes in, makes us a leg, and says he has seen that kidnapping wretch and represent’d to him that he will find Ireland a deal more healthfull and 'twould be to his benefit to return there. And confides that he will do so once has wound up any matters he has on hand in Town.

Has also, says Matt, been persuad’d to write out a full confession, sign’d and witnesst, that Miss S- may wish to keep by her should there be any gossip arise, tho’ I think the matter has been kept quiet enough that I daresay 'twill not.

Why, says Eliza, I confide this is quite above and beyond the duties of a Runner, and that Miss S- will wish to show her gratitude.

At this moment comes in Agnes S- herself, saying that sure she is not ill and feels entire rest’d. Eliza goes ring for coffee, and asks Mr Johnson to repeat his tale to Miss S-.

She takes the confession and reads it over and says, 'tis indeed prudent to have this upon hand, might I find some secure place for it. She bites her lip and says, Lady B-, might you look after it for me?

Why, says I, I should be delight’d to bestow it in some place where 'twould be safe. But was you not having a fine desk made, and does it not have any secret compartment?

Oh, she says with a smile, so it does. But until I am return’d to P- House and may convey it there, might you look after it?

Indeed, says I, taking it and bestowing it into one of the secure compartments of my traveling desk.

Agnes S- then says she knows not what she owes Mr Johnson for the fine offices he has done her, and altho’ gold can hardly be a measure of what she owes, would desire to show generous in the matter.

After he has been persuad’d to take some coffee before departing, and has told us several fine tales of low life, he takes his leave and says is ever at our service. May go see if MacD- is about in t’other wing as had a matter on which would desire his thoughts.

O, says Agnes S-, once he has gone, what a very nice man that is.

I say that I do not suppose that Mr Miles O’N- is of the same opinion.

She laughs and says she confides not. And she should go see Sophy and make sure she was not injur’d by that coarse scoundrel yesterday, and assure her that there can be not the least blame falls upon her.

She then frowns and says, has not the note from P- House come yet?

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At first we do not take too much concern that Agnes S- has not return’d from her shopping excursion – sure she may have gone look about for Sophy and misst her in the press – or may have determin’d on concluding her errands afore returning to R- House – but as the hours tick on we become considerable worry’d.

'Tis a material matter that we know her a prudent and sensible young woman, that would not desire cause worry to her hosts, and would be able take measures to return home expeditious was she able, not some silly creature that might not take thought.

Josiah and Eliza are in a considerable fret, but I tell them that they should go to the party to which they are bidden, for has aught come to Miss S-, the less gossip about it, the better, and did they not go to this occasion, that is held by some Parliamentary acquaintance of Josiah’s, 'twould look somewhat particular.

I dispatch a footman to the west wing with a note for Sandy, that comes at once. I open the business to him and say that sure I have been in concern over fortune-hunters that make suit to her, but there are alas cases where such fellows proceed to abduction. Sure I should be entire reliev’d did you tell me these are the fancys of a Gothick novelist and that this is England -

Sandy sighs and says, alas, 'tis a practice not unknown in this realm, and he will go at once and see whether he may put Matt Johnson to the task of finding out more.

'Tis possible, I say, with a rather pathetick hopefullness, that she felt herself faint, and – but, I continue, she is a good sensible girl and I confide in such case even was she in no state to write a note herself, would have sent word.

He leaves at once, and I find myself in a tendency to go pace up and down, until comes Patty to say that Miss Flora is demanding her sleepy wombatt. So I go to my precious darling, and hope that I do not appear distract’d as I go snuggle and kiss as sleepy wombatts are wont. Indeed, could anything distract me from my present worry 'tis my belov’d Flora.

After she sleeps – o, 'tis quite the prettyest sight – I go back to the small parlour where I have been sitting, ope my travelling desk, and address myself to the proofs of my tale of the Inca curse as 'tis better to undertake somewhat usefull rather than fretting.

I am sent up a nice little supper that I am in no great disposition to eat, but I endeavour take a little.

Sooner than I was in expectation returns Sandy along with Matt Johnson, that takes my hands and says reassuring that sure there will have been witnesses to this matter, and could he go talk to the maid that was with her, 'twould be most exceeding usefull.

So I send for Sophy, that comes looking as if she has been weeping a good deal – sure I hope Docket has not been at scolding her, for 'twas in no way her fault. I desire her to sit down and she does so, very timorous, right at the edge of the seat.

Matt Johnson looks upon her very kindly and says, 'tis entirely a matter of knowing where in particular you were at the time, and where you last saw Miss S-.

Sophy swallows and begins say where they were on Cheapside at the time the fellow grabb’d at her – sure, thinks I, may have been a confederate in the plot set to distract her – and becomes calmer as Matt Johnson praises her observation in the matter and the clear way she presents the evidence.

He is just about sketching out a little map of the scene, when there is a noise outside the door and comes in Agnes S-, looking a little dishevell’d but by no means as if she had been subject’d to any violence, altho’ I see she does not have her reticule about her.

I jump up and embrace her and say sure we are glad to see her safe, but we were in considerable concern over what had come to her.

I lead her to a chair and go pour her some brandy, that makes her cough somewhat but brings a little colour into her cheeks. I say I daresay she would also like a little supper, indeed, let us all have a little supper to restore ourselves and then you may tell your story.

After she had eaten somewhat, she looks up and says, 'twas Mr Miles O’N-, the scoundrel, wisht force marriage upon me.

But, she goes on, I do not think 'twas a carefull deep-laid plan, but that he saw me and thought to take the opportunity. For I was looking around to see what had come to Sophy, and had just seen her fighting off some low fellow, and as I was thus distract’d, one bundl’d me into a coach and drove off.

She frowns and says, and sure I was quite stunn’d by the suddenness of the attack, and did not cry out or protest, and by the time I had come to myself, 'twas going too fast for me to jump out. And I bang’d upon the roof but nothing happen’d.

One must have took my reticule, for 'twas no longer in my hand.

And sure I knew not where I was or where we were going.

But, she says with a sudden smile, most fortunate, one of the horses cast a shoe and thus we were oblig’d to halt somewhere along the road. And I was hustl’d into some inn and convey’d into a private parlour, and there 'twas that I saw that my kidnapper was Mr O’N-.

He made protestations of love towards me, and his fears that Lord D- would deny any suit he made on account of his Romish faith – I think he misapprehends Lord D-'s position in regard to me, for 'tis not in his power to say yea or nay to any match of mine, 'tis in my guardian’s, tho’ sure I would hesitate to consider any marriage that might lead to a breach with him and thus with my sister – and similar foolishness, when I was quite entire persuad’d that 'twas entirely my fortune at which he aim’d.

But I pretend’d to be quite entirely taken in by these beguilements, and desir’d that I might have the means to make myself a little comfortable while we wait’d, and in due course he came also with some tea so that I might, he said, refresh myself.

She grimaces and says, tho’ Mr O’N- is hardly a Lovelace, I was in some concern that he intend’d to deal with me as that rogue did with Clarissa Harlowe and drug me, to ensure docility even did he not purpose a ravishment - so after he had gone I went pour the tea out of the window rather than drink it, and perceiv’d that the parlour, altho’ 'twas on the first floor, gave out onto a penthouse thrown out behind the main building.

So I thought that I could contrive to climb out and make my way to the ground without I riskt breaking a limb or doing any great damage but for a scrape or a bruise or so. I went to the parlour door and ascertain’d that had been lockt upon me – for Mr O’N- is not quite entire foolish, I confide – but to prevent an unwant’d entry I went push furniture up against it that should at least hinder any pursuit.

We all look at her quite in amazement and I remark that had Clarissa Harlowe been as resourcefull 'twould have been a deal shorter of a book.

Agnes S- snorts and says she ever thought Clarissa a great fool. But, she says, to my tale. I climb’d out of the window and crawl’d down the penthouse roof, that indeed terminat’d not so far from the ground that I might not let myself down with any more than a slight jolt. And then I lookt about me very cautious and made my way around to the front of the place, and sure almost opposite was a coaching inn and a crowd there that made me think was a stage very shortly due.

And, she says, I will not mock Dora’s fears again, as tho’ I had lost my reticule, I was provid’d with the means to pay my fare by the sovereigns I had sewn into my stays to allay her apprehensions of just such an event.

There were those, she says, lookt a little askance at a young lady travelling unaccompany’d, but I made up a tale of a carriage accident, with my maid injur’d and left under the care of a local surgeon, and my pressing necessity to return to Town the e’en, and all went commiserate, and hope I was not myself too badly shaken, &C, and offer’d me brandy. Sure I felt quite the imposter.

And then, she says, came we to Town and I took a cab from the coaching station to R- House, and here you behold me, as unmarry’d a maiden as ever was. And Sophy, I hope that fellow did not hurt you?

O, says Sophy, took me some little while to come at my hat-pin so that I might poke him, but once I did he went running.

My dear, says I, what a wretch is Mr O’N- and what shocking behaviour he manifest’d. But how extreme courageous and resourcefull you show’d yourself, quite entire an example to womankind.

She looks about her and I see that, in the aftermath of this adventure, she looks a little tearfull, 'tis quite understandable. She says, rather urgent, but none need know, need they? 'Twould cast poor Dora quite into hystericks, and I know not what Lord D- might do.

Matt Johnson gives a grim smile and says, does one give him the direction of this fellow he will go frighten him with the rigours of the law so that he will not go talk of the matter – for tho’, indeed, 'tis naught he might boast of, he might claim that he did more than he accomplisht in respect of Miss S-.

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Takes a deal less than a day for Agnes S- to become entire part of the household. Josh finds that she has quite the soundest opinions about wombatts and badgers. She is entire happy to join Bess and Meg in practising batting and bowling and also endears herself to Miss N- by becoming most passionate enthrall’d by the study of microscopy and the other matters of the girls’ lessons and sighs that she never had any such fine well-instruct’d governess herself.

While quite declaring that she is no such pianist as Meg, offers play a few duets with her. Is most gratifyingly envious of the toy theatre. Will happyly play simple games with the nursery-set. Mittens condescends to come sit purring upon her lap.

Has been arrang’d that each day a footman will bring a message of how matters go at P- House – that is still in a state of anticipation - and will convey back a message from her as to how she does herself.

She nibbles upon the end of her pen and says, sure, she confides she should not reveal how much she enjoys herself here, but alas, that means that what may she write but that she is well?

Why, says I, you may say somewhat of the excellent understanding of certain matters in Parliament that you acquir’d from Mr F-'s dinner-time conversation, you may mention that you observe Mrs F-‘s fine household practices, and did you not go visit the kitchens?

She laughs and says, sure she did, but she was quite distract’d by that adorable babe, took no notice in the least of the fine range and all the excellent contrivances.

And then she bends to her task and writes a little note that conveys that she is well, and does not pine and is entire well-treat’d in the household. But sure, she says, I cannot write the same note day after day.

O, says I, I daresay you may mention that you went riding with the girls and His Lordship, mayhap somewhat about the very excellent library there is here; 'tis entire unnecessary to detail how the mongoose climb’d all over you to ascertain what kind of a thing you might be.

Sure 'tis more curious even than a cat! she exclaims.

Also, says I, sure I would not oblige you to undertake the matter, but I have a deal of notices to send out respecting my drawing-room meeting and 'twould be greatly helpfull to have another hand to it.

She laughs once more and says she would be entire delight’d.

We are most agreeable about this task for some hours until comes Eliza, follow’d by Sebastian K-, that has been visiting about the business of Seraphine and Euphemia’s pickles and preserves, and says that they will have laid the usual collation that would serve an entire regiment in the dining-room, do we wish come and partake.

I observe that Agnes S- finds herself quite at ease with Sebastian K-: 'tis I daresay partly due to encountering him in the company of Little V, but also, I confide, because she cannot in the least suppose him to be a fortune-hunting scoundrel, as the son of an exceeding wealthy man and a diligent fellow in the pursuit of business in his own right.

'Tis most particular obvious when come in Milord, Sandy and Lords Edward and Geoffrey: I think she is still conscious that the latters’ sisters have been eager to match-make and it renders her somewhat shy.

However, she asks very civil have they heard from their sister the new Marchioness of O- and we are all oblig’d to hear how much she likes D- Chase, the exceeding fine horse that is a wedding-gift from her husband, the very great merits of her husband &C.

And, says Lord Geoffrey, he has extend’d a most civil invitation to us to go visit during the summer months, 'twill not be any formal house-party, but he dares say we may find it more agreeable than Monks G- at present.

They make grimaces at one another and then, I confide, come to the thought that they should not be going talk of family difficulties in company, and change the subject somewhat obvious to various balls &C that go forth shortly.

Sandy takes the opportunity to mention to me, under cover of various other conversation that goes on, that the vessel containing Reynaldo di S- and his retinue should by now have sail’d from Liverpool.

Let us pray, says I, that has not only done so, but with the full complement of passengers.

Indeed, he says very meaningfull.

The Earl’s sons shortly take their leave, Milord has some business to be about, and Sandy has some other business upon hand.

Agnes S- says to Eliza that she would greatly desire to go undertake a few errands this afternoon –

Why, says Sebastian K-, exceeding civil, providing that Cheapside would serve your purpose I should be entire happy to drop you there when I drive back to the City.

She says that Cheapside would be quite entire suitable for her intend’d purchases; but, she turns to Eliza and me, she supposes she should take a maid with her?

Indeed, says I, 'twould be entire proper and I should not like it to get back to Lord and Lady D- that we let you go about shopping entire unescort’d – sure I would come with you myself but that I have calls to make – I daresay Sophy might be spar’d and 'twould be somewhat in the way of a diversion for her.

I go consult with Docket that says indeed, 'twould make a nice little excursion for her, and while she is there, there is a commission or two she might undertake.

Sophy quite jumps up and down at this proposal, and she and Agnes S- depart for what I confide will be a merry afternoon promenading along Cheapside and going into its fine shops.

I say to my darling that I had had a most curious note from Lady T- desiring me to call upon her, so I daresay I should go and see what is ado with her. I therefore go and have Docket array me suitable for such a call.

As I cross the hallway, Miss N- darts out to me to say, did not want to say anything before company, but, o, Lady B-, Fraulein H- has askt her to be her bridesmaid, for Herr P- has propos’d and they will go be marry’d as soon as maybe. And she looks a deal more chearfull now.

(Sure I should not be particular chear’d by the prospect of marriage to that wretch Herr P-, but in her present circumstance 'tis a deal better than the alternative.)

I take myself to call upon Lady T-, in some curiosity as to what the matter may be.

She is seat’d in her small parlour – 'tis a considerable mark of favour to be receiv’d there rather than more formal in the drawing-room – and rings for tea at once. She looks a little agitat’d.

Once the tea has come and been pour’d, she discloses that she has had some very worrying intelligence concerning Lord K-.

Indeed, says I, looking sympathetick and hoping that 'tis not reveal’d about his patronage of Mrs O’C-.

I have had a troubling letter from an acquaintance of mine in Tunbridge Wells, she goes on, and sure may merely be malicious troublemaking, for indeed she is somewhat given to that, but –

Lord K- lately visit’d there to go quack himself with the waters, or so he gave out. And 'tis notic’d, or so this lady makes it out, that he makes extreme civil to Mrs D- K-, that is there in the capacity of companion to the – to Dowager Lady W-. That shocking ill-bred creature, makes me quite ill to think of it.

Why, says I, may be somewhat that does naught but show exceeding well of Lord K-'s ton, for he may consider that here she is, but lately widow’d – for 'tis nothing like a year since her husband fell down dead – and left nigh on destitute by his extravagant ways and improvidence, and oblig’d to take a companion’s post to a lady that is, alas, not not’d for the benignity of her character –

Frightfull creature! says Lady T-. It does Lady W- the greatest credit that she has never poison’d her mother-in-law’s tea.

- and one hears that there are those that go scorn Mrs D- K-, so I think it shows very well in him to demonstrate a proper civility and set an example.

Why, perchance, for he has been brought up to behave well; but 'tis also said that he looks on her with a certain admiration.

Indeed she has a fine presence, I remark, I daresay 'tis admir’d by many fellows.

But K-, that has shown no interest in any woman since his wife dy’d, sure 'tis worrying.

I sit silent for a moment or two in order to gather my thoughts. One must bear in mind, says I, that her husband was a quite dreadfull fellow and that his influence must have been quite the worst thing for her, and that she may come back to better ways now that is remov’d.

She looks extreme dubious at this proposition. I therefore say that may be entire nothing to the tale, and I will go about to see whether I might gain some better knowledge.

She leans over and clasps my hands and says 'tis indeed kind in me.

(But I fear he takes a fancy towards her.)

I return to R- House mulling this over.

I go into the family room, quite in the mood to take a little tea and speculation with my darling, and find that Sophy is there, in a most exceeding taking.

Why, how now, what’s ado?

Sophy turns a tear-stain’d face to me and says, she lost Miss S- in the crowds on Cheapside. Was a coarse fellow offer’d to grab at her, and by the time she had got free, had lost sight of Miss S-, and went up and down looking for her at the shops where she might have been, and then suppos’d that she must have taken a cab back to R- House.

But she has not return’d, says Eliza, with a frown.

(I am like to wonder whether Agnes S-, finding herself of a sudden alone, took a notion to relish the experience before returning.)

Why, says I, we may yet expect her quite shortly.

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The next day arrives Agnes S- with her trunks, her horse, and her groom Davies, expressing most exceeding gratitude for the invitation to come stay for this little while during which her sister lyes in.

We are taking a little coffee in the parlour together while Sophy goes unpack her trunks for her – Copping having remain’d with Lady D- - and Miss S- looks about her and frowns and smiles and says, I cannot help but worry somewhat over Dora, but indeed, 'tis most agreeable to be here.

I smile and say that sure she will not be expect’d to rise very early in order to attend family prayers and set a good example.

There are certainly matters of that sort that I shall be exceeding glad to be free of, she says, but apart from Lord D-'s ways, 'twas most exceeding troublesome the way that Dora would go fret about me. I daresay, she goes on, 'twas some symptom of her condition –

Belike, says I.

- but she did not like me to go out, thought abduction lurkt at every corner, and even was I not abduct’d was in fears that some cutpurse would make away with my reticule. She grimaces. In the end, to reassure her that whatever came to pass, I should not be found pennyless, I was oblig’d to sew a supply of sovereigns into my stays.

I cannot help but laugh at this.

Is’t not quite ridiculous? 'Tis not as tho’ I am some lapdog that might be took up by rogues as with that dog-stealing gang, but she worrys so. And sure I am very fond of her, and she is very young to be in the position where she finds herself, and altho’ Lord D- doats upon her most exceedingly, he does have his ways, even is he not so strictly particular as us’d to be, and I do not like her to be in the frets -

Sure, says I, 'tis most deleterious in her condition.

'Tis a curious thing, says Agnes S-, that as the elder by some years I have ever been the one to take care of Dora, but now she is marry’d and I remain in spinsterhood, 'tis as tho’ this changes our respective positions and she must go take care of me.

Why, 'tis a pretty thing in her to show protective, but 'tis also a thing one would find irksome have matters been t’other way about. I daresay, I go on, that Lord D- has give her some concerns that you might be beguil’d by some fortune-hunter -

She snorts. As if I do not have the wit to see that myself and to be on my guard.

- but sure 'tis a considerable difference 'twixt making false protestations and contriving an abduction. But, my dear, drink up your coffee, and I will change the subject, for I had a very fine thought about Mr L-'s having obtain’d such interest with the Marquess of O-, that I daresay has the presentation of a living or two to his name.

Oh, she cries, indeed, 'tis exceeding like that he does and might go do some good thing for him. For altho’ he is not a fellow that I suppose would ever go neglect his flock, sure he is a fine conscientious shepherd even does Lord D- have doubts about his theology, but there must be burdens that take him away from study that another might legitimate undertake.

I repeat my good thing about Lord D- and the Archangel Gabriel, 'tis very well-receiv’d even tho’ she goes cover her mouth with her hand.

And, dear Miss S-, do you write any poems lately?.

O, she says, there are one or two that she works on –

At this moment come bouncing in Bess and Meg, follow’d by Miss N-, that make their curtesies to her very proper and then desire her to write a little something in their albums. They have brought the latter, along with a pen and ink-pot.

I can see that she goes think carefull before each one, and I confide produces some little verse specifick for each of 'em – for I can see over her shoulder that the one for Meg alludes to piano-playing.

Shortly after, the mongoose enters, follow’d by Josh, that picks it up and lets it curl about his neck.

O, cries Miss S-, what is that?

Josh is entire happy to tell her a deal about mongooses, or mayhap should be mongeese? and then offers that she might care to visit the wombatt and the rest of the menagerie?

Why, she says, she has seen Sir Z- R-'s wombatt - for Lord D- took her with Dora to visit his studio, with some thoughts of commissioning a painting – are they not very torpid creatures?

Oh no, cries Josh, 'tis just that they do not care for crowds, do you come see how 'twill romp.

After the girls have solicit’d her to go ride with 'em in the Park in the afternoon, she follows Josh to go admire his menagerie.

I am exceeding glad that she will be lookt after, for 'tis the day I purpose go see what Herr P- thinks he is about and to bring him to some better apprehension of the pickle he brings upon those that have so very kind offer’d him hospitality.

I mention somewhat of this mission to Eliza, and my darling says sure, she wishes she still had that shotgun about her, for she could find a use for it.

He is a sorry wretch, says I, and not, we must suppose, quite as sickly as he looks. Can he contrive to get a young woman with child, I confide that he is capable to doing somewhat towards earning his keep.

O! cries Eliza, Mr Sebastian K- came visit about the business of the polish factory t’other day, and remarkt that after his late Grand Tour they are doing a deal more business in various Germanick parts and did we know any that had that tongue and were seeking employment could do with another correspondence clerk or two. I had thought to go mention the matter to Mr MacD-, for I daresay there are those among his acquaintance that might suit.

Why, says I, I daresay Herr P- would be better employ’d at such work rather than inditing foolish notions of ideal communities, tho’ he might not think so.

So I take myself to the little house in a respectable but unfashionable district where Herr and Fraulein H- reside with their mother, that is a fine cozy-looking creature that I daresay has some hopes that I come about some philanthropick enterprize to aid Herr P-, for she murmurs, in a very strong Germanick accent, about the most excellent works that Lady B- is known for, as she shows me in.

Herr P- is reclin’d upon a sopha, with tea and some very fine cream-cakes at his elbow.

Why, says I to him, as I seat myself, you make yourself exceeding comfortable, Herr P-. But 'twill not do, the way you go on, I continue. Sure might be a different matter was you in some idyllick community in the wild woods of the Americas, that I hear are very fine and picturesque, tho’ I am also told that there are large wild animals such as bears as well as the Indians native to those parts, that are greatly reput’d extreme savage. But was you there I daresay there would be none to bother had you gone to church with the mother of your child or no.

But, I go on, 'tis a most material matter to a young woman that resides in Town and goes about to earn her living and that of her mother and any lodgers. For I confide that does it become known that she has got with child out of wedlock there are many families will go very expeditious to find some other tutor to come instruct their daughters. And I am like to suppose that altho’ Herr H- does considerable well with his flute, without Fraulein H- also earning this household will be forc’d into more oeconomickal habits – I look somewhat severe at the cream-cakes.

Herr P- takes the liberty to tell me that I have a vulgar concern with the conventions of society and that 'tis the nature of love to be free, and that marriage is a tyrannickal institution.

Indeed 'tis, says I, I have a deal of dislike to marriage myself, for places a deal of power in the hands of the husband and none at all in the hands of the wife.

I perceive that he did not expect this agreement that marriage is not an ideal relation, but also that he has never, I confide, consider’d the shocking inequity of the rights of the husband and the wife. Tho’ I daresay 'tis possible that 'tis different in other nations (I confide Mr N- would know).

However, says I, 'tis a poor recompense to a young woman that has give you her heart and her body to place her in a position where she may be call’d by the very foulest epithets, and depriv’d of any honest means of earning a living.

Also, says I, in this nation we have a considerable prejudice in favour of fellows that go about to earn enough to support their wives and their wives’ relatives and against those that live upon their wives. And I fancy I am in the way to prefer you to a post that would be considerable remunerative that you might undertake, for are you capable of f-----g, I confide you could manage to write letters in your native tongue.

He sneers and says something uncivil about the English.

O, says I, do you dislike the English, sure I have some little interest at the Bavarian Embassy (for the Freiherr von D- shows exceeding attentive whenever I encounter him) –

At which he looks most exceeding sickly indeed.

Well, says I, do you go to the parish church hereabouts and – sure you may marry by ordinary licence, as matters are should go take place as soon as maybe rather than having the banns call’d – put matters in hand to make a honest woman of Fraulein H-, I will not go speak to my acquaintance at the Embassy, and I will go prefer your interest to Mr K- as correspondence clerk.

He looks at me very sulky and says, sure I am very persuasive and he is entire convinc’d by my rhetorick.

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Comes at last the time when I may decamp from my own pretty little house and go to R- House to stay with my darlings. Indeed has not been long at all, a day or so, but that I was in such great longing to be with 'em and see my belov’d Flora and the other dear children.

Sure we still have a deal of going about into Society, but now we may come home and find ourselves in triangle in my fine reserv’d chamber. Also I am able to go be a sleepy wombatt with my precious child before I go out into the world.

'Tis entire delightfull.

Hector brings my letters &C, and takes the opportunity to go give a little instruction in the pugilistick art to the younger set upon the east wing terrace.

After I have lookt thro’ the letters to see is there anything of great importance – there is a letter from the Marquess of O- and his bride that are now at D- Chase, 'tis not very long but conveys their great happyness in their new state and their gratitude to those that contriv’d their elopement.

This gives me to mind that perchance the Marquess has rights of presentation to some snug living that might suit the Reverend Mr L-, that has gain’d such considerable interest with him. ('Tis a thought I think I shall not open to Sandy, that will go perorate upon the evils of the Establisht Church and that preference goes by interest and not by merit, and from thence to the evils of religion more generally.) But I daresay 'tis not at present the time to mention the matter.

But there is naught else of any great moment, and I may go out into the garden and see where the little girls go romp - that is, my naughty bundle and her belov’d Hannah will romp, but little Sukey is shy and hangs back.

As I step onto the lawn I see that, while Hector goes convey instruction on the east wing terrace, upon the terrace to the west wing Milord is engag’d in swordplay with Lord Edward and Lord Geoffrey, 'tis an exceeding fine sight. I observe that the brothers are a little distract’d by the sight of what goes forward concerning the pugilistick art.

My sweet darling runs up to me and desires play hide and seek, so I go cover my eyes and count while she and Hannah go conceal themselves, and then I take a deal of time to find 'em altho’ they are not at all well-hid and go whisper to one another.

The fencing lesson concludes, as I sit down upon the grass to tell a tale or two to the little girls – Sukey comes creep a little closer – and Hector goes commend the work that that little boys are doing, for indeed, all show themselves considerable serious in the matter of this instruction.

The Earl’s sons come across the lawn to make their leg to me, remark upon the fineness of the weather, and by gradual means work around to their own interest in studying the pugilistick art. I say that I apprehend there are certain places where gentlemen may be instruct’d in the art, 'tis quite entirely a done thing. I daresay His Lordship may have some recommendations in the matter. 'Tis quite entire a matter of kindness that Hector comes instruct the little fellows.

They look somewhat envious.

I ask after their dear mother and their sisters, and they commence tell me about the excursion they contriv’d to Ranelagh with Lady N- in her invalid chair, sure 'twas most exceeding fine.

Flora takes a concern that none pays attention to her and attempts attract my attention by pulling upon my sleeve and saying, tiger, very imperative.

Fortunately at this moment comes out my darling, follow’d by Charley B-, and a little further off by Bess and Meg with Miss N-.

Why, she says, to the nursery-set, I confide 'tis time for you to go take a little luncheon. They set off quite pell-mell towards their nurses that are coming out of the house to fetch 'em.

I see – o, 'tis exceeding charming - Quintus go over to where Sukey W- is shyly lurking, and take her by the hand and encourage her to come along. She is a timid creature that I daresay is render’d a little nervous by the boisterousness of the others. Eliza also looks upon him very fond.

She turns to Lord Edward and Lord Geoffrey and says she dares say they go lunch with His Lordship but do they not, are entire welcome to join in our collation. But I have just seen Lord Geoffrey stiffen like unto a pointer, as he observes Sandy come out onto the terrace of the west wing, and wave to 'em.

Indeed, says Lord Edward, His Lordship most kindly invit’d us, we only came over to greet Lady B- seeing her in the garden.

Why, says I, I will not then detain you.

They make civil farewells and go back across the lawn.

We go in to the east wing, where the usual very large collation has been laid in the dining-room. I ask Charley B- how she gets on. She sighs and says sure there is a deal to keep in mind.

But, says Eliza, you have a good firm foundation in what your mama taught you.

'Tis so, says Charley.

I ask if the date for the wedding has been set, and do they go on a wedding-journey?

She tells me when – sure 'tis not long, they purpose wed before the end of the Season – and that they go spend a little time on his estate and then go make visits.

No doubt, says I, Sir P- O-'s fine annual cricket party among 'em.

Charley smiles most exceeding pretty and says, yes, will that not be a treat?

(Sure indeed there is no accounting for taste.)

And then, she says, Lord A- will come with 'em to the Music Meetings: imagine! has never been to 'em before, o, there will be a deal of very fine singing. So they do not suppose they shall be in residence at B- House much before Society returns to Town in the autumn, should be plenty of time for it to be put in order.

Indeed, says I, 'tis a great deal better than what 'twas, but should be new decorat’d does one intend live there. Sure I never liv’d there myself – 'twas by no means in such order that my late husband might have gone reside there on his return from Naples.

I observe that Miss N- is endeavouring catch my attention, and after a few more civil exchanges with Charley, move away – I see Bess approach, doubtless to hear more about the cricket party – and go see what’s afoot with Miss N-.

O, Lady B-, she says, 'tis Fraulein H-'s afternoon to come for the girls’ German class: are you in the house – mayhap you have calls to make? – might I bring her to talk to you somewhere discreet after she has done?

Why, says I, of course, there are several concern’d at her present state and could I discover the ado might be somewhat that one could do something about.

She says that she will bring the Fraulein to me in the conservatory.

After this refreshment Charley leaves – she has fittings she says – and the girls are chas’d back to the schoolroom.

I go sit with my dearest in the family room. I remark to her what a fine thoughtfull boy is Quintus, and how shy Sukey shows.

Why, says Eliza, she is at present the baby of the nursery, must make her a little timorous. For most of 'em are not yet of an age to be tender towards their juniors, they are too close to her own years and too much caught up in their own ploys. 'Tis when they are a little older that they show the kind of care that Bess and Meg show’d towards Flora. But indeed 'tis very pretty in Quintus.

We both smile, and then I say that I hope I may sound out this matter of Fraulein H-. We both sigh.

I go sit in the conservatory with a book, and wait for Miss N- to bring the Fraulein.

In due course comes Miss N- almost dragging the fair Gretchen to come convoke with me. She leaves us alone together, saying that she goes undertake a little microscopy with Josh and the girls.

Indeed Fraulein H- does not manifest her usual fine looks, and looks at me with the expression of one who declares Silence to the Death!

How now, Fraulein, says I, I hope I am misled in supposing that you may have taken some notion to Reynaldo di S-, that I hear was a most frequent visitor to Herr P- until he lately left to sail to Boston.

Reynaldo di S-? cries Fraulein H- in scornfull tones. An Italian? Sure I did not.

Why, says I, 'tis only that has been mention’d to me that you have the air of one that is disappoint’d in love of late –

Fraulein H- bursts into tears and says somewhat that I apprehend to be that she is not disappoint’d in love – but – but –

But? I ask.

Why, she goes on, sure he has entire sworn his love to me –


Karl, that is, Herr P-.

- but, she goes on, he says that love must be free, should have naught to do with tyes, should not need licensing by society -

And now, says I, I confide that you find yourself with child.

O! She lifts her head and looks at me. How did you know?

Why, says I, 'tis all very well to say love must be free, but in society as 'tis presently constitut’d, there is a deal of adverse judgement upon young women that bear the consequences of such fine sentiments. Mamas of daughters would not want such teaching 'em.

The Fraulein looks at me very woebegone, for I daresay she has already had this thought.

I think, says I, that ‘twould be desirable did I go call upon your household sometime very shortly.

She does not protest this proposal.

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Sure, I confide that my soirée was by no means a disaster - there was none came knocking upon the door for Lord D- and Mr H- to go most expeditious to Lady D, that I had been in some fears of – yet I would not count it among my most successful.

Apart from my concerns about the V-s - mayhap I might see does Jacob S- have some knowledge in the matter – I am somewhat worry’d that the Contessa did not attend.

Indeed, I am so worry’d that I determine that whatever business I may have upon hand, I should go call and see is she well – for she is by no means a young woman however ageless her spirit.

But when I am admitt’d at her fine mansion I find her seat’d in the parlour reading. On enquiring as to her health, she laughs and says, there were friends of hers at the Embassy, supposing she must be entire melancholick at Reynaldo’s departure, came call for her yestere’en to convey her with their party to the opera, quite impromptu. And since, she goes on, I daresay 'twill serve best that 'tis believ’d his departure saddens me, rather than giving me quite the greatest relief, I thought it prudent not to disclose that I was already bound about a party of pleasure by pausing to send a note of apology.

My dear, says I, your thought was as ever apt. And how was the opera?

She wrinkles her nose and says, she does not wish to dispraise my country, but indeed 'tis not the opera as we know it at Naples.

I laugh and say, as for that, as I collect she was not in Town when Mr P-'s and Mr G- D-'s opera Finn the Fair was produc’d? There were some pretty airs – sure you may have heard Titus sing 'em – but 'twas a sorry business if not as bad as Mr P-'s play of Queen Maud, for all are like to suppose that Mr G- D- curb’d his excesses.

She laughs and says, indeed, she would have no great hopes of any matter in which Mr P- might have a hand. She knows not why that nice Irishwoman puts up with him.

Why, says I, she will give it out that her first husband was a charming beguiling fellow that was an entire scoundrel – indeed, I know it myself, a shocking fellow, bad enough in himself but also one that delight’d in leading young men astray – dy’d in debtors’ prison. And Mr P- may be a sour creature, but he is a fellow of considerable probity.

Was he not, asks the Contessa, at one time a patron of Lady J-'s little actress?

O, says I, 'twas a matter of desiring to say that he had quite entire made the career of a second Siddons. Will still be heard occasional to grumble that she should become a great tragedienne.

And she with such a fine comick gift!

Indeed, says I. But since I apprehend that you are quite entire well, I should take my leave – oh, I cry, struck with a thought. I daresay Reynaldo would not have notic’d anything to the matter, but I am led to suppose that Herr P- goes take advantage of the fine sympathetick feelings of Frau and Fraulein H- that he lodges with, and may even have gone so far as to seduce the fair Fraulein. I confide he would not have said aught to you upon the subject?

Only, says the Contessa, disclos’d to me some of Herr P-'s thinking upon the freedom of the affections that should not be constrain’d by the conventions of society: and that he even advances some notions that in his ideal community there would be a plurality of loves.

Why, I say, giving her a sidelong look, 'tis very unlike the life of Society as we know it.

We both laugh somewhat immoderate.

Tho’ sure, I say more soberly, 'tis very curious the laws one may break, and still remain in Society, and the ones that one may not.

We both sigh somewhat.

And indeed, says the Contessa, tho’ the laws of this ideal society might allow a plurality of partners, I am not sure they will do away with jealousy.

I confide not. But does a fellow have such views, may consider he acts in entire accordance with the highest morality when he goes undertake a seduction. And indeed that might be no great matter in his ideal society in the wilderness, but for a respectable young woman that tries make a living in Town, 'tis a deal heavyer.

We sigh again.

And now, says I, I will indeed be gone.

We part with great amiability and I go home.

I am in the greatest suspicion that Hector and Dorcas are greatly mind’d to get me out of the house as soon as maybe in order to begin upon the works, but 'tis an afternoon when I am at home to visitors and 'tis by no means convenable that they should start putting my books into boxes and very carefully packing away my china so that 'twill not be damag’d during this upheaval.

And so I tell 'em, before going sit in my parlour in case of callers.

Very shortly comes Mrs V- that makes most apologetick about not attending my soirée, but they were sent at very short notice a card for a lecture by Mr V-'s old friend, Major S- of the Hon Company’s Bengal forces, that has made a great study of the snakes of those parts. And they are such antient acquaintances that, quite apart from the fascination of the subject matter, 'twould have been most incivil not to attend.

I remark that I was told by General Y-, of the Madras forces, that the snakes in those parts are extreme venomous?

O, says Mrs V-, not all, by any means, and Major S- declares that does one understand how to handle 'em, there is very little danger. Had some exceeding fine specimens.

(I daresay that are these his pet serpents he would not be agreeable to having one battle Josh’s mongoose, that the dear General said was an extreme fine sight.)

Why, says I, I certainly should not expect you to give up such a feast of knowledge in favour of my soirée.

Comes in Mrs D-, that is the mother of Danvers D-, makes civil to Mrs V- and myself. There is some exchange of general gossip, including the very romantick tale of the Marquess of O-'s elopement.

Mrs V- draws her brows into a frown and says, sure she cannot understand why Lord N- continues look so grim – did he not promote this match himself?

I confide that moving as she does in scientifick and philosophickal circles she is not inform’d on the progress of this tale. Mrs D-, however, enlightens her and remarks that Miss R- quite sighs for one to turn it into a play.

Mrs V- minds that she has spent the proper period for a call, and I daresay has others to make. She adds, before departing, that she is told by Jacob S- that there is somewhat very remarkable in the way of a rare orchid on the Admiral’s Hampshire estate.

I remark to Mrs D- that she does not bring the pug into company – no, she says, I have calls to make upon those that will go sneeze at the sight of the poor little fellow. Before she departs about these calls she gives me news of Miss R-‘s condition, that is what one would expect now she is this far advanc’d; and adds a remark as to what an entertaining fellow is Mr W-, so I confide that they are quite a family group.

After a few more callers I may expect no more, and go change into my riding habit so that I may go out upon my lovely Jezebel for a little while.

There is a deal of company in the Park, for 'tis the fashionable hour and exceeding fine weather. As ever there are fellows wish attract the attention of the fascinating Lady B-, but I quite entire ignore 'em.

I see Agnes S- riding with her groom alongside her, and go up to greet her. How go matters with Lady D-, I ask?

Agnes S- says she knows not, 'tis a matter entire mysterious to her and she confides that Lord D- thinks 'twould be improper for her to know more. Indeed, she says with a profound sigh, he is endeavouring persuade me to go stay with some relations of his – sure I am daresay they are kind and hospitable but they are rather old and fusty. Was matters different at N- House I am sure I might go stay with dear Lady Emily, does he want me out of the house, but from what I hear from 'em, they do not like at present to invite guests.

Indeed, says I, matters there are still unsettl’d. But, my dear! My own house is but a small house and I am just about to have building works put in hand, and I go stay at R- House with the F-s for a few weeks while the matter is undertook. Sure that is a fine large house and I confide that they would be entire delight’d did you go visit 'em for a few days.

Sure I could not presume, says Miss S-, but looks somewhat longing.

My dear, they would be charm’d! Sure the younger set there is of years a little below your own –

O, those nice lively creatures Bess and Meg F-, that came to Vauxhall? Indeed 'twould be a pleasure to improve our acquaintance.

Why, says I, I will go home at once and write a little note to Mrs F-, and I confide that the morn you will have an invitation to go visit at R- House.

'Twould be exceeding delightfull, she says: and oh, I have heard it give out that there is a wombatt?

O, an entire menagerie! says I.

Sure she looks exceeding well when she smiles so. But I will say nothing, she says, to Lord D- until the invitation comes.

Extreme prudent, says I.

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

Comes Hector while I am at my desk at my correspondence, in what I may observe is an extreme genial state. Has been, says he, about opening negotiations with various tradesmen concerning this matter of our improvements, and he finds that there is great eagerness to have the commission for Lady B-'s works, for her taste and understanding in such matters is most widely prais'd and they confide 'twill be of considerable value to 'em to be known as those that undertook works for her.

Inclines 'em, he goes on, to offer us most agreeable terms.

Also, he says, unable to resist breaking into a grin, there are cabinetmakers and carpenters wonder might they enter into some wholesale arrangements over Phoebe's polishes.

Why, says I, 'tis exceeding agreeable news. Of course, we shall not let ourselves be beguil’d but judge 'em entirely by the quality of their work, for sure, I find I have a reputation to sustain -

Quite so, Your Ladyship, says Hector. He adds that sure he is considerable confidence that we may begin as soon as maybe once my soirée is over.

'Tis excellent news.

Further excellent news is the letter from dear Belinda that I discover at the top of the pile upon my desk, saying that as ever, they go make up a party for the Derby and should be quite ecstatick could I join 'em. She adds that the news of the runaway match of the Marquess of O- has reacht even into Northamptonshire and now she apprehends why he desir’d her to send Blackthorn to D- Chase. Hopes that the lady in question is one that entire deserves such an excellent fellow.

Indeed 'twill be delightfull to see the dear creature again. I go write to her at once even do I have other pressing matters to be about.

There is also a note from Reynaldo di S-: sure most fellows would leave a card with PPC in one corner, but no, he will go write a letter that, altho’ 'tis discreet enough – for did it fall into hands other than mine, he does not name the lady of his heart that he is oblig’d to leave, when desiring me to give her what consolation I may – is perchance not quite entire so, by revealing that there is any lady in the case at all. However, I confide that the Contessa, dear creature, has not disclos’d to him that Mr W- Y- will be a fellow-traveller of his: does any revelation occur – for I fancy Mr W- Y- has little inclination to present as a livery’d servant once 'tis no longer a necessary masquerade - I hope that 'twill not do so until they are on shipboard and well clear of these shores.

I sigh a little, for I am in some concern that Mr R- O- will not cease troubling us just yet, and indeed, does he believe that there is some deep matter very cunning conceal’d, I know not how we may stop him. Also I fear we may have to be extreme carefull about those that desire interest with our coterie for fear they may be his informers.

Sure 'tis a nasty business.

In the afternoon I distract my mind from the prospect of my soirée by attending a meeting concerning the optickal dispensaries. The two we already have in operation do so exceeding well in the matter of supplying spectacles to the weak-sight’d poor that there is some consideration that mayhap we should go open a third. But I am somewhat inclin’d to fear that we may over-extend.

But today we have visitors from the provinces that are exceeding prepossesst by what we have done and wish to learn how they might go about somewhat similar. All go about to be entire diplomatick and present an appearance of harmony in our discussions and Lady J-, indeed, seems to have gone lesson herself with Biffle upon diplomacy.

When tea is serv’d I go take a cup to Lady D-, that I am surpriz’d to see has turn’d out at all for this meeting, for she is by now most exceeding great with child. I say somewhat to this, exceeding tactfull, and she says that she does not want to be one that makes excuses for not being about good works (I fear this may be her husband’s influence).

('Twould not, I confide, be proper to say that 'tis probable not advizable to go to meetings of philanthropick enterprizes in such a condition that all must be in some fret lest she go into labour.)

I say somewhat soothing that no-one would suppose being so advanc’d towards childbed an excuse rather than prudence.

But sure, she says a little pettish, 'tis most exceeding tedious, will there ever be an end?

Why, says I, 'tis what I have heard all the ladies of my acquaintance say in such case, and indeed, they have all borne fine offspring in due course.

She manages a little smile and says, she is glad 'tis not just because she is young and silly that she feels thus.

I take a quick look about me and say, why, I daresay did Lady J- go bear a pledge of her affections to the Admiral, she would say quite the same thing at this time.

Lady D- chokes a little upon her tea.

(Sure she is indeed very young. Mr H- has been heard go mutter about girls that are barely come to their full growth being got with child as a most undesirable thing. I should like to know Mrs Black’s thoughts upon the matter. But, younger than she are happy mothers made.)

At this moment comes over Lady J- herself, very solicitous and hoping Lady D- does not go overdo. We look a little conscious.

(I daresay either of us might be more soothing to her spirits was we known to have borne a child ourselves: but to mention in even the vaguest terms that I had done so would be like to cause speculations. Sure I should not mind it remarkt upon me, but that it might lead to my belov’d Flora.)

The meeting at last breaks up, with expressions of great appreciation from our visitors.

As we wait for our carriages, Lady J- tells me that she goes to the Mediterranean once more, and do I have any messages I should like her to carry to the Admiral she will be entire happy to do so.

'Tis very kind, says I. Sure I am not sure that I have any particular matter – o! I cry, mayhap I might send a pot or two of Euphemia’s strawberry preserves, that he relishes extremely. And there is a pickle, that she had of General Y-'s cook, that he greatly lik’d.

Lady J- looks at me and smiles and says, sure there must be a deal of his likes that you would know from your long acquaintance, we should talk of this some time.

Her carriage comes up and she gets in. I stand blinking somewhat at this conversation until Ajax brings round my own carriage.

Once I am home I go fidget a little at my desk, until 'tis time to go be dresst for my soirée. By the time 'tis accomplisht to Docket’s satisfaction, when I go into my reception room the musicians are already there, and so is Mrs O’C- with Mr P-.

I ask Herr H- after his sister and he indicates more by expression than word that matters have not improv’d. 'Tis a matter that I daresay I should be about.

Come Mr H- and Sir Z- R-, with Mr and Mrs N- on their heels, follow’d very shortly by Mrs P- and Miss W-, that come express their gratitude for the business that has been put their way for O- House and B- House. Why, says I, I purpose a little expansion myself, and can Hector’s connexion not provide the extra hands I shall require, I will most certain come to you.

Is’t not, says Miss W-, most excellent news that Mrs Atkins has had?

Quite the best, says I, and I apprehend has some thought to going out to the antipodes when her husband has serv’d his term.

Arrives the R- House party along with Sir B- W- and Susannah, and then almost immediate after Biffle, Little V, and Lady J-. Viola looks at me with a meaning expression and says, sure, she was as surpriz’d as any at this romantick elopement.

Were we not all quite astonisht? says I.

Why, Martha must have known somewhat beforehand if Jacob was in the plot, but she kept it very close. Indeed one is sorry to have so misjudg’d the Marquess –

O, says I, sure the business did cast him in a bad light.

Biffle remarks that tho’ 'twas not as shocking a matter as at first thought, there was a certain disregard for les convenances -

I raise my eyebrows.

- sure, he says, when I was a young fool I did a deal worse, but the Marquess is a man of mature years, should know better.

Come, Beaufoyle, says Lady J-, he spent little time in Society before his succession. Even tho’, she goes on, I had undergone several Seasons as a young woman, when I return’d from N- I had to relearn a deal of proper conduct.

We all look at her in amazement.

She adds that her husband, that has very fine judgement of character, had only the highest commendation for the Marquess, thought him quite one of the finest of fellows.

We continue to look at her in amazement.

Enters Lord D-, that comes up and makes apologies for Lady D-, but indeed he did not think it prudent for her to come out this e’en.

Lady J- remarks on how meritorious in her 'twas to come to the optickal dispensary meeting, so charmingly conscientious. Lord D- looks most gratify’d by this praise of his wife.

The room begins fill up most satisfactory and there is a genial buzz of conversation. I am a little worry’d that the V-s have sent apologies that they cannot be present and wonder does the Earl of N- go set them against me.

I did indeed send a card to the Earl, but his sons arrive without him, and say he will not come – continues, says Lord Edward, to imitate Achilles and sulk in his tent –

Tho’ 'tis in this case a hothouse, says Lord Geoffrey.

I see Lord U- take a consideration that aiming elder-brotherly cuffs at 'em would not be in the best of ton.

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

The next morn I go call at R- House.

Why, says my wick’d girl, sure you are quite a stranger –

Sure, says I, I am about a philanthropick mission to provide distresst bad poets with the means of emigration to the Americas, where they may build a new life for themselves. Preferably one that is not about writing poetry.

O, cries Eliza, 'tis indeed a worthy cause, but sure I must consult with my husband on the matter. Do you leave me any pamphlets you may have about it and I will desire his attention to the matter.

We smile at one another very affectionate, and sure I would jump up and kiss her, but that she has lately rung for coffee and we may expect a footman very shortly.

And, she goes on, do these poets know any deep secrets?

They would not recognize a secret did it go dance the carmagnole outside their door, letting off fireworks the while, says I, for which we may be most immense glad. But sure they were looking for secrets that do not exist, so perchance have not notic’d any matters requiring discretion that do.

Comes the coffee, that I taste and say, I confide that Seraphine is return’d to the kitchens.

Indeed: keeps Joseph in his cradle in a corner, where all the kitchenmaids &C go doat upon him. Sure is a fine child, she says with that little longing in her voice that I know.

O my darling, says I, I know 'tis a grief to you, but indeed, we do not like the thought of our darling putting herself in danger.

I know, she says, 'tis entire foolish and I have a round half-dozen fine children about me, am not in the condition of the poor Contessa, or even Lady T-, that only has that sad fellow Lord K- left of all she bore. And there is the constant delight of the nursery-set, and so many of my friends go have babies, and will let me hold 'em, and ask my advice, sure I should not repine. For 'twould be worse to be cold under ground and Josiah marry’d to some second wife that would be a cruel stepmother, and no lovely C- to lighten his spirits.

I take her hand and squeeze it. But, my darling, besides this excellent intelligence concerning bad poets, I have some most chearing news.

O, my love, tell on!

So I open to her that I had been in mind for some time to do somewhat about my pretty but somewhat too small house, and that now I have had the greatest generosity from His Grace –

- why, I should expect no less from him –

- and am fallen owner of the next-door house, and have great plans on hand. So I have been convoking with Hector on the matter, that has also been about preliminary negotiations with builders and carpenters, and the thought is that when Society goes out of Town 'tis oft the time that matters of furbishing &C of Town houses go be undertaken, so that those fellows that are known of exceeding competence will be bespoke.

But, Hector minds that 'tis still some weeks before Society starts leave Town, and was one beforehand, the work could be well underway in the hands of the very best fellows in that line. And sure, cannot be put in hand afore my soirée, but after that – sure a poor widow’d creature like myself should not like to be sat in a house with walls being knockt down and a deal of hammering and banging and the smell of paint –

O, loveliest of C-s, says my darling beginning to laugh, you need not put on your pathetick Dido in the ruins of Carthage face, you know that 'twould be quite entire delightfull did you come spend a little time here in your fine reserv’d chamber. Do I not hear constant plaints of, O, we never see anything of Aunty C-, does she not like us any more? &C. And our Grand Turk grumbling that he requires your hand upon his speeches so they may be truly telling. And sure I am greatly missing certain little squeeks.

Why, says I, I will go believe that I may not be entire unwelcome here, and ask Docket to consider over what I may bring, and Hector will bring my letters and I daresay provide instruction in the pugilistick art to the little boys: and, o my darling, there is time yet before Town is a desert to go hold a drawing-room meeting.

Eliza gives me a look.

Sure, my darling, I have ever confid’d that a deal of ladies come to my house on such occasions in hopes that they may come across somewhat scandalous concerning my former life, but I am like to suppose that there are also a deal of ladies that would very much like to see inside R- House.

Eliza looks at me and laughs and says, she dares say 'tis so, for Lady B- is one that entire understands such matters. Mayhap one might ask Mr MacD- to read some Burns? 'Twould certainly entice a deal of ladies.

Wick’d creature, says I. 'Tis entire enough to entice ladies that they will have heard of Seraphine.

O, my very dearest love, she says, a little tearfull, we have misst our darling so much.

Indeed, says I, 'tis all very well to be fêt’d by Society, but becomes somewhat tiresome. But my dearest, I confide that you have a deal of household and business matters upon hand that I should not go obstruct, so might I go call upon the schoolroom and ask Meg whether she will perform? I also had a little matter I wisht speak to Miss N- about.

And then, says Eliza with a fond look, I daresay there will be a tiger goes call upon the nursery set.

Perchance! says I.

So I go to the schoolroom, where I confide the girls are very glad to have a little distraction, and Meg is most entirely agreeable to playing at a drawing-room meeting here at R- House – o, 'tis an excellent fine pianoforte! she says.

Bess says that they put those beastly girls in the place by telling about going to Vauxhall with the Duchess and the Earl’s daughters, and o, is’t true that Lady Anna has gone marry the Marquess of O- and 'tis all an entire romantick tale?

Miss N- makes little tutting noises but I apprehend that she too would like to hear somewhat of the matter. So I say that indeed 'tis true, they are as marry’d as ever was and 'twas indeed a most fine romantick tale.

Does that not exceed? exclaims Meg.

Indeed 'tis a fine tale, says I, but I hope that when you girls go marry there will be less of the dramatique about it.

(Miss N- may be heard to give a little sigh, for altho’ Mr L-'s paper does well at present, he wishes to be sure that 'twill continue to do so and that he does not go offer her any precarious living. 'Tis sensible and prudent and has a deal of sound affection in’t, but indeed 'tis no romantick tale.)

But, says I, was a matter I desir’d convoke a little with Miss N- concerning.

She tells them to be about getting on with their work, and she will just step into the corridor with Lady B-, in case 'tis no matter they should hear.

Indeed, says I when we are sat in the window-seat at the end of the corridor overlooking the gardens, I do not think it a matter to open before 'em. But there are those that have of late expresst some concern about Fraulein H-, and I wonder’d had she perchance give you any hint of what’s ado? For you are much of an age and station, and both women, and she might disclose to you matter that she would be in some reserve about telling the Duchess or even her brother.

Miss N- looks down upon her twisting hands. Indeed, Lady B-, she does seem exceeding troubl’d of late, has not made any full confession but I think 'tis somewhat to do with that Bavarian fellow Herr P- that lodges with the family. I did urge her to give sorrow words -

(I go make certain figures with my fingers behind my back, for I am a child of the theatre about quoting from The Scottish Play.)

- but she said 'twas no matter that she should tell me, and became somewhat lachrymose.

(O dear, thinks I, has that fellow, that goes about looking a bare step away from his death-bed, gone seduce Fraulein H-? Did he so he is not so sickly a fellow as appears.)

I did urge her, says Miss N-, that should talk to Lady B- on the matter, for had you not been most entire helpfull in that other fret of hers? and she says, 'tis an entire different matter, that quite for shame could not reveal to Lady B-, and so I say sure Lady B- is ever kind, but she just went on getting into really in quite a taking.

(Sure, thinks I, is’t what I suspect 'tis no matter should feel shame about afore one with my history, but mayhap matters go different in Bavaria.)

Why, says I, mayhap I can make some opportunity to speak with her, especial as I purpose coming stay a little while here at R- House while there is some building work done upon my own.

O, says Miss N-, looking very pleas’d, that will be delightfull. The girls are ever wishing they might hear you read and of course you are the entire favourite of the nursery-set.

Indeed, says I, I was about to go see 'em, and I daresay you should be getting back to Bess and Meg.

She says that they are good trustworthy girls that will get on with their tasks even does one not hang over 'em, but indeed they should have finisht the matter she set 'em by now.

So I go on to the nursery, where I am greet’d with great delight by the nursery society, that is in great disposition to play tiger, even sober Quintus, that still only spends half the day in the schoolroom.

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