I go look out upon the Channel and remark that looks exceeding rough, and that I confide we should wait and see does it go become calmer shortly.
Docket says somewhat tart that 'tis only a Channel crossing, she dares says that provid’d she may lye down she will contrive to bear the ordeal.
I say that I am in some concern for myself, sure I am a reasonable good sailor but indeed the Channel crossing is entire not’d for its great turbulence.
Docket snorts; but indeed I should prefer to cross in smoother weather.
Sandy says that if wind and tide are adverse, ships will not put out anyway. He will go down to the harbour and see what the state of affairs is, and is like to suppose that there may be those about the place that have a weather-eye and can tell whether 'twill improve very shortly.
He returns in due course and says, cannot contrive to a crossing today, but the morrow, tho’ may be somewhat of a blow, will be a cutter or two sets out for Dover.
Well, says I, let us see does this fine inn that has provid’d us a fine parlour to sit in, also have bedchambers so that we may stay the night.
And indeed, I confide that the colour of our gold is entire acceptable to 'em, and we are provid’d two fine bedchambers and a dressing-room and may also have the parlour.
Sure I find myself in somewhat of a fret now that we are so near home and yet may not at once proceed upon our journey, and go look out of the windows that the rain goes lash against, and sigh a little.
And Sandy looks somewhat agitat’d, and then I say, even did we attain to Dover, should have to spend a night there I daresay, tho’ I confide that there will be some coach can convey us to Town without we delay yet another day.
I take an opportunity to ask Sophy as discreet as maybe how Docket does, to which Sophy responds that she bears up very well, does not go conceal any breathlessness or such, is in good spirits as much as one may be while traveling in a foreign land.
So I think do weather and tide favour we may depart the morrow.
As we go to bed the e’en and I am about to blow out the candle, Sandy says in sombre tones that he supposes 'twould ill befit a philosopher not to return with us, or to leave us once we reach Town –
Indeed 'twould, says I, I do not think you a coward.
I will confess, I am faint at heart at the thought of returning.
Poo, says I, sure 'twill be quite the return of the prodigal, and I confide that Seraphine has many fine receipts for fatt’d calf -
- but I see the expression upon his face and say, sure I am a silly creature that speaks all mirth and no matter, but I am entire like to think you will be welcome.
Why, he says, with an endeavour to look more chearfull, I daresay 'twill count in my favour that I bring back the lost treasure of all hearts in R- House.
I say very firm that I should desire a good night’s rest afore crossing the Channel, and blow out the candle.
But as I lye down a hand creeps take mine and Sandy says, you would still be my friend, should – ?
I squeeze his hand and say, I would still be your friend, whatever comes.
And the morn the weather is not so severe, tho’ 'tis still windy, and we go board for the crossing.
'Tis still very rough, and I draw a veil over the voyage.
Indeed we are in no inclination to quite immediate seek out the next London coach once we are arriv’d at Dover but go find a good inn where we may put Docket, that protests somewhat, to bed with her drops and then go drink a deal of tea, with a little brandy to’t, in the parlour we have bespoke. We have also took the thought that 'tis time to cease the masquerade of matrimony, for there are those may recognize one or other of us and go create scandal.
After we have somewhat recover’d, and Sandy no longer looks green, he says he will go walk to the coaching station – for a little fresh air, provid’d 'tis combin’d with ground that stays steady beneath his feet, would be entire sanitive – and discover when the coaches depart and if necessary reserve places.
Are you sure, my dear? He nods, and leaves.
I go have Sophy take off my travelling garments, brush out my hair, wipe my face with aromatick water &C, and consider that I should see about the matter of dinner, for the thought of food is no longer a thing I am unable contemplate.
Returns Sandy to say, took the thought that we might hire a private conveyance and has bespoke one that will come take us up from here the morn.
'Tis an excellent notion, says I, let us be as comfortable and expeditious as we may now we are in our native land.
I see Sandy in some disposition to dispute that we are in his native land, so I then go on to inform him concerning the arrangements for dining.
Next morn we are away betimes and sure 'tis entire better to have a private carriage than to be cramm’d together with who knows who in the stage, in particular do I consider Docket, that still looks not entire well, tho’ there is no wheezing.
'Tis a good road and the driver keeps up a spanking pace and contrives the changes most expeditious. But we do not go so fast that I may not observe the passing countryside, that is breaking out in green, and lambs that go gambol in the fields about their mothers. And I mind that I have been absent in the spring from my belov’d springtime child. I sigh.
What, says Sandy, melancholick?
I go recite to him the sonnet I think of.
As we come closer to Town I begin feel a certain apprehension about my heart as to whether I shall truly be entire welcome in my return to my darlings; or, indeed, whether, in my absence, all is discover’d and I shall be haul’d to prison and try’d.
I take Sandy’s hand and squeeze it. He squeezes it in return, for I am in supposition that he has a like apprehension.
Docket tells me not to gnaw upon my lip in that unbecoming fashion.
But indeed, we are at last come to R- House, where the coachman has been instruct’d to take us into the stableyard – for are there any visitors, would not wish to be observ’d and the topick of speculations do we draw up before either front door.
Sandy and I look at one another and swallow visibly.
La, says I, I daresay my own pretty house is in such condition that one might go there, if turn’d away from the doors here.
The coach door opens and I go step out, to find my hand in dearest Josiah’s that helps me down.
Lady B-, he says, we are glad to see you return’d in such health.
And I, says I, am exceeding glad to be return’d.
We mind that our hands are still claspt tho’ now I am stood quite steady upon the cobbles, and drop 'em apart.
Rushes up to me my darling wild girl, and for one moment I am in some fears that she will go box my ears as she did Josh when he ran away, but she falls upon my neck and I think sobs a little.
There is a tugging at my skirts and I look down to see my little goddess of the spring, that desires kiss me, o, 'tis the prettyest thing and my eyes are exceeding damp.
And come up only a little in the rearward Bess, Meg, Josh and Quintus, and all gather round, and exclaim, and remark that I do not look as tho’ I have been ill -
La, says I, sure the airs of the South may be very restorative –
I look about for I would have anticipat’d that Miss N- would have come too, if only in giving chase when her pupils of a sudden levant’d.
O, cries Bess, Miss N- has gone marry Mr L-! and they take a little wedding trip to Lyme Regis, will be back within the se’ennight, and o, they go live here in their own set of rooms, is’t not a prime thing?
I confide, says I, that there will have been a deal of changes since I quit Town.
Really, Lady B-, says Josiah, one would suppose you had been in a seven years’ exile rather than not quite so many months.
La, says I, I know how fast matters may move in Town.
'Tis so, says Eliza, that still holds my arm as if I might vanish did she not, here is Miss S- already marry’d to the Reverend Mr L-, and they go on a very fine wedding trip to the continent, where Mr L- has introductions to certain libraries and collectors, and there is a very fine living in prospect from Lord O- on his return –
At this moment appears under the arch into the stableyard Milord. I look behind me and see that Sandy, that has been engag’d in handing down Docket and Sophy, has not yet emerg’d himself from the carriage. I see that he begins come out, backwards, looking about to ensure nothing has been left within.
I look back to see that Milord’s face has quite lit up, and then he schools it into an expression more proper to a gentleman of rank whose valu’d secretary returns to the household.
Sandy straightens up and turns around and his gaze meets Milord’s. They move towards one another – with a considerable deliberation that I confide conceals their mutual desire to run -
Why, MacD-, says Milord, giving a clap of manly affection upon his shoulder, I am most heartyly glad to see you return’d safe and bringing your sheaves with you.
He comes over to bow over my hand. Indeed we have misst Lady B-.
Why, says Eliza, let us not stand about here but go take tea, and I daresay that there will be ale for the coachman in the kitchen.