To show that there are quite entire no hard feelings I go call upon Lady D- as soon as maybe.
I find her in her parlour, with Miss S-, and a very small pug.
Lady D- rises – sure she looks a deal happyer - and comes shake my hand, says how very kind 'tis of Lady B- to visit, indeed she is exceeding sorry that there was some misunderstanding -
Why, says I, I confide all is now come to a better understanding.
O, indeed I hope so, she says, looking down quite wreath’d in smiles at the pug that plays about her feet. Then recalls her social duties and rings for tea.
Sure, says Miss S-, we apprehend that Lord D- had been given a quite misleading apprehension of Town society –
Oh, says I, sure one does not like to wax critickal of a fellow’s parent, but indeed I daresay that Lord P-'s fatherly advice might serve one that intend’d go amongst cows, but would not be of any great utility concerning the intricacies of Society.
They both giggle behind their hands.
There will be those that suppose that Society is a spider-web of vice and corruption, but sure there are many elements within Society, 'tis not like some club where all are of the same party or share some interest.
A footman brings tea and Lady D- goes pour out.
Indeed, she says after handing out cups, one may see Her Grace of M-, that is quite devot’d to her husband, and he to her, and to their little girl, and - 'tis give out that Lord S- is in fact her stepson? –
'Tis so, says I, his mother dy’d very shortly after he was born.
- but quite entire behaves with maternal affection towards him. And is such a partner to His Grace’s interests, and ever improving her own mind – Quite the pattern one should wish to emulate.
She is a most excellent young woman, I agree, but, sure there are many kinds of excellence and they are not all of the same pattern. Mayhap yours will be different, just as Her Grace and her sister-in-law Lady J- are both very fine women of different type.
Oh, says Lady D-, looking a little sad, what very distressing news 'twas about Lady J-. Do you know how she does?
Has gone to the Admiral’s fine property in Hampshire, says I, but her friends take a little concern that she sees too much to be about there to rest.
They both sigh.
I hear, says I, in order to restore chear to the company, that you go to the Contessa di S-'s ridotto?
Oh yes, says Lady D, dimpling very pretty, Lord D- says she show’d most extreme hospitable when he was in Naples, 'twould be poor ton to refuse. O, I have heard that her ridotti are most exceeding fine occasions.
Agnes S- smiles fondly at her sister.
The footman comes to announce Mrs P- and Miss W-, that I have besought to establish an interest with Lady D-, to show her that one may go about philanthropick matters and yet not be the gloomyest of Evangelickals.
They greet her very amiable, and she rings for more tea. Miss W- goes admire the pug.
I determine that I have stay’d a polite amount of time, and that I do not greatly wish to remain until any of the Evangelickal set come calling, and rise to depart.
Agnes S- comes with me to the door and says, O, Lady B-, may I come call upon you the morn? I am in some trouble of mind over a matter and I am quite sure that you will be able to advise me on the best course to take.
Why, my dear Miss S-, you quite flatter me, but I will do what I might to resolve your difficulty, do you come call tomorrow morn; and I daresay your groom is in great desire of convoking with Ajax about racing matters.
She laughs without immediate putting her hand to her mouth. Indeed I daresay he is.
So, next morn, while I am about my correspondence, that puts me in mind of the fate of Sisyphus, comes Miss S- to open her concerns to me.
Comes Celeste with good strong coffee and some very pretty little cakes.
I say to Miss S- that I apprehend that matters go more happyly at P- House?
Oh, indeed, she says with a smile, sure 'tis much more agreeable that Dora does not go in constant fear that Lord D- may chide her, and may read novels less clandestine. But 'twas not that I came talk to you about –
I raise my eyebrows and put on my listening face.
'Tis the matter of Lord N-'s daughters, she says, I am become most entire part of the circle of Lady Anna and Lady Emily, they are the most delightfull creatures, we are quite sworn friends, but there is a matter that gives me to ponder –
- I daresay you have not’d, Lady B-, that Lady Anna and Lady Emily are oblig’d to go about in last season’s – or even the previous season’s – gowns, somewhat made over; and one also apprehends that these gowns were chose for them by their aunt, that is now gone to Bombay, and had very antiquat’d notions –
Indeed, says I, has come to my attention that this is the case.
And at present they greatly bemoan that they have nothing suit’d to a ridotto, and are not in a position to have somewhat made, or perchance hire a costume, and it quite detracts from any excitement they might feel over the prospect.
And so, she continues, it has come to me that I am well-provid’d and might offer as an office of friendship to pay for 'em to have some handsome costume?
I lean over and take her hand. Dear Miss S-, 'tis a very generous thought that does you most extreme credit. And yet such matters may lead to difficulties between friends.
But sure, you need not go trouble yourself, for Miss A- has also not’d this matter and purposes to go lend 'em certain old theatrickal costumes that are not requir’d for productions at present on hand –
O, that is a very fine thought! what a most excellent woman she is.
She also had a notion – but you may have had thoughts about your costume already – that you might look most exceeding well in a robe like unto the one she wore as Empress in the play Queen Maud. Sure the play was very poor stuff – Mr P- should stick to criticism - but she show’d so well in it that 'twas quite the making of her reputation. I do not think her costume from the role would fit you, but did you have something made up on the same lines, 'twould be most effective.
O, cries Miss S-, indeed I have been wondering what I might go as. I confide Dora and Lord D- will go as Columbine and Harlequin -
I suppress my amuzement at this prospect, for they will be a deal plumper than those figures are usual present’d.
- but that sounds quite entirely a thing that could be contriv’d.
I daresay, says I, that Miss A- could contrive to give Copping a sight of the robe, and 'twould be no great matter to make up, I confide. And perchance a crown.
O, 'twould quite exceed, she cries.
I pour her some more coffee and urge her to make free of the little cakes, for Euphemia will be most offend’d do any return to the kitchen.
She then falls silent for a little while, and after a pause goes on to say, indeed she is most extreme fond of Lady Anna and Lady Emily and they make quite similar protestations to her, but she becomes a little concern’d when they say, o, would it not be the finest thing did she become their sister thro’ marrying Lord Edward or Lord Geoffrey. And, she says, I have not even seen Lord Edward, that I understand to be about the Grand Tour with their elder brother that is the heir.
(Sure I can suppose that the Earl’s daughters go about to establish an interest for their brothers.)
My dear Miss S-, says I, I hope 'tis not vulgar inquisitive to enquire, but I know you are well-provid’d, and I am like to wonder is your inheritance contingent upon matrimony, or would it be entire at your disposal once you came of age.
O, she says with a grimace, grandfather told us that he was leaving us both well-provid’d, but more for me than Dora, because 'twas – quite rightly – suppos’d that she would readyly catch a fine husband, while, did I desire to marry, some incentive for suitors might be requir’d. But did I fail to find a husband, I should have a fine independence and might live as I would.
And do you, I ask very idly, desire to marry?
Oh! she cries, perchance I might like a husband and children, but I cannot feel any leaning towards fellows that I suppose pay me attention because I am the well-dower’d Miss S-: there is always the feeling that they find themselves oblig’d to shut their eyes and consider their debts, or the need for improvements upon their estate, &C. I am like to suppose that if, as in some play, I had it put about that all my money had been lost in some enterprize, they would fall off very fast.
Indeed, says I, while I think that there are those that consider making suit to you that would behave with entire civility, show the respect due a wife, &C, 'tis because they are kind and mannerly and see the proper ton of the situation.
But, she says in somewhat desperate tones, is’t in the least likely that any fellow would wish to wive me except for prudential consideration?
Dear Miss S-, says I, there are those consider Lady W- a plain creature, but Sir B- W- entire doats upon her. His Grace was quite extreme in love with Lord S-'s poor mother, that was some years beyond those usual for making her debut, and also given out plain.
She looks a little hopefull at this. But, she says with a grimace, the knowledge of my wealth can only be a barrier to fellows such as Mr MacD-, that scorn to marry for advancement.
My dear, says I, was never anything so unexpect’d as my own match with the dear Marquess.