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.