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.