We are perchance somewhat sober’d by this occurrence, but still my darlings come to my fine reserv’d chamber and say that sure there cannot be the least objection to their demonstrating their fine affection to one that is such a friend of the family.
Fie, says Eliza, a kiss or so under a kissing bunch, what harm could there be?
But I think she talks to convince herself.
But next morn I cannot linger to find out what’s afoot – should there be any matter afoot – for Ajax comes with my carriage so that I may go distribute boxes to my household on this day consecrate to that business.
'Tis entire agreeable to see my good people and to reward them for their excellent service.
Ajax tells me that young Nick, that is Nell’s younger brother, shows very eager come help him in the stables. Has a pretty hand with horses already.
Why, says I, 'tis I daresay better that he learns somewhat of the trade here rather than at the livery stables, for I confide that there are a deal of coarse fellows frequent them that are no good company for a boy of his years (for I suppose him to be about the same age as Josh, tho’ not so well grown). Do you find that you could use the help, I can see no objection. But I daresay one should go open the matter to his parents?
Ajax conveys to me, I am not sure entirely how, for he does not go be explicit, that 'twould entire embarrass 'em did I go myself, and that he will be about the matter. He is like to suppose that they would entire be delight’d did we just give him his keep: 'twould be a great easing of the family budget.
I say perchance I should convoke with Hector upon the matter. Ajax nods.
Hector thinks 'tis an excellent notion: Timothy has been wont to give an occasional hand in the stable, but sure he has other duties to keep him occupy’d and out of mischief. We may see how Nick answers. He dares say that Ajax’s consequence among those that deal with horses will most greatly prepossess the boy’s parents.
Why, indeed, says I, between those that desire his inside knowledge concerning the turf, and those that seek his skills in horse-doctoring, there is a deal of coming and going to our stableyard.
Hector smiles somewhat and says, 'tis so. He confides that it provides us with usefull interest.
It does so, says I. Do you or Ajax have any occasion to get into more general converse with that fellow from N- House that is ever here about some difficulty they are having with their cattle, perchance you might offer him a mug of ale or so, even a snack of Euphemia’s very fine bread and cheese: for I should be most entire interest’d to hear any intelligence from belowstairs in that establishment. For there seems a deal of not-rightness there.
Hector nods. I apprehend that he understands me.
And, says I, before I return to R- House, I hope all is well 'twixt you and Euphemia?
Hector smiles exceedingly and says, yes, indeed, Your Ladyship. Some of our connexion go wonder that we do not yet see increase: 'tis most interfering of 'em, for 'tis entire none of their business.
(I conceal my amuzement that Hector resents this, when he is so put about concerning matters within his connexion that go not to his liking.)
Well, says I, removing the indignant Pounce and Dandy from their comfortable place in my lap, sure I should be about returning to R- House.
Hector clears his throat and says, should the F- boys desire a little instruction in the pugilistick art, he would be entire happy to come to R- House and convey it to 'em.
Why, says I, I confide they would quite jump up and down at the prospect – save perchance Harry would think it beneath his dignity to do so - and I will go open this kind offer at R- House.
Hector remarks that he hears that these northern industrial places are exceeding rough and 'twould be entire advizable for Master Harry to have some knowledge of the art.
I daresay 'tis so, says I.
When I am return’d to R- House, I go walk up and down a little in the conservatory, for I feel a deal of shyness coming upon me.
However, I find myself not in the solitude I anticipat’d to find, for there is the scent of a fine cigar being smok’d and I discover Sandy, that looks out onto the gardens, where Josh, in spite of the chill, goes romp with the wombatt.
I know not how it may be, says he, but somehow I am like to suppose that you are in the frets.
I snort a little, but indeed, he is not wrong in this surmize.
Harry, he goes on, seems somewhat perturb’d the morn –
I sigh deeply.
Dear silly creature, I confide he saw nothing as startling as a certain scene I once walkt in upon –
Indeed he did not! says I, somewhat indignant.
- and sure I do not go indulge in speculation concerning your intimacies with the F-s –
I scowl at him somewhat ferocious.
- but there is an entire admirable affection and devotion that one may observe 'twixt the three of you.
O, says I, finding myself somewhat tearfull.
Indeed, says Sandy with a slight smile, I was somewhat tempt’d to expatiate upon the matter of the conventions of society, the relations of the sexes, &C, but I refrain’d, and merely remarkt upon the excellent friendship that exists between his parents and yourself, that you are quite the general favourite of the family, and that perchance he should take his concerns to his mother.
'Twas indeed thoughtfull of you, says I.
Dear sibyl, I hope I am entire aware of what we owe you.
O, poo, says I. Let us not talk of owing and debts.
I confide, says he, that you are a deal more utopian in your thoughts than Herr P- is ever like to be.
Tush, says I, I am but a foolish uneducat’d creature, that is oblig’d to live in the world as it is, and not go build a new one in some wilderness. But I have good friends. However, my dear, let us not become mawkish.
I sigh. For indeed I should not dilly-dally here, but go comport myself as becomes an Englishwoman.
I go into the house. One of the footmen says that the mistress has said that when I return to the house, I am desir’d to go to her study.
So I go up to my darling’s family room, where she sits alone, in one of the chairs, looking contemplative.
Dearest, says I, you askt that I should come here?
She takes my hand and presses a kiss upon it.
Loveliest of C-s, she says, sure there is no need to be in the frets. I have disclos’d a little family history to Harry, for indeed he is of an age that he should know, and while I daresay 'twill come to him a little strange, he goes see, I confide, what a very beautifull thing you did for us, and that we are quite natural most exceeding gratefull, and that you are also extreme glad that our precious darling has such a fine family –
I sit plump down in a chair vis-à-vis. You told him about Flora?
Why, our very dearest, I confide that he had already observ’d that there is a certain likeness: and while there are those more generally in society may suppose that our pretty bundle takes after some relative of that colouring, Harry knows that there are none such on either side. He has also observ’d the very pretty fondness that lyes 'twixt the pair of you.
And Josiah now goes talk with him man-to-man.
Sure I am quite entire dumbstruck.
Eliza leans over and takes my hand. Also, she says, I am like to suppose that to one of Harry’s years, it must seem entire the case that with such ag’d creatures as we are, the heyday in the blood is tame, whatever passages there may once have been.
Why, Mrs F-, says I, 'twixt laughter and tears, sure you should write a novel.
My very dearest of C-s, you do know that we should love you quite extreme even was there no matter of our little jewel?
Why, says I, sure I am a shocking untrusting C-, but sometimes, when I am in despondent mood, I am wont to wonder whether my dear ones fear I may take her away and go placate me…
Do we not, says Eliza somewhat dry, have somewhat similar concerns? O, we are a foolish three, are we not?
Sure, says I, would my heart not be entire broke was I cut off from the dear girls, from Josh and Quintus and Harry?
O, says Eliza with a little twist of the lips, sure I could not bear the inquisition, the entire chorus of whys, did we see Aunty C- no more.
We look at one another and laugh a little tho’ our eyes are somewhat damp.
Why, says I, I think I shall go and see our naughty angel.
So, I go to the nursery, and Patty says, sure 'tis an entire liberty, but is My Ladyship here, am I like to stay for a little while, while she goes to the laundry room?
Why, says I, 'twould be an entire pleasure.
Flora greatly desires her tiger and we have a fine romp – sure I daresay Patty goes gossip with the laundry-maids – and then I go sit upon the floor while she shows me how very well she can count.
The door opens and comes in Harry. O, he says, colouring a little, I did not know you were return’d –
Flora jumps and up and runs to him and he picks her up and swings her a little. They smile at one another.
Why, says I, I have a message for you and your brothers, that do you desire, Hector would quite gladly come give you a little instruction in the pugilistick art.
O, prime! cries Harry, and indeed I mind that 'tis not long since he was a schoolboy. And then grows more serious and says, You are very good to us.
O, poo, says I, who would not be?