The next day arrives Agnes S- with her trunks, her horse, and her groom Davies, expressing most exceeding gratitude for the invitation to come stay for this little while during which her sister lyes in.
We are taking a little coffee in the parlour together while Sophy goes unpack her trunks for her – Copping having remain’d with Lady D- - and Miss S- looks about her and frowns and smiles and says, I cannot help but worry somewhat over Dora, but indeed, 'tis most agreeable to be here.
I smile and say that sure she will not be expect’d to rise very early in order to attend family prayers and set a good example.
There are certainly matters of that sort that I shall be exceeding glad to be free of, she says, but apart from Lord D-'s ways, 'twas most exceeding troublesome the way that Dora would go fret about me. I daresay, she goes on, 'twas some symptom of her condition –
Belike, says I.
- but she did not like me to go out, thought abduction lurkt at every corner, and even was I not abduct’d was in fears that some cutpurse would make away with my reticule. She grimaces. In the end, to reassure her that whatever came to pass, I should not be found pennyless, I was oblig’d to sew a supply of sovereigns into my stays.
I cannot help but laugh at this.
Is’t not quite ridiculous? 'Tis not as tho’ I am some lapdog that might be took up by rogues as with that dog-stealing gang, but she worrys so. And sure I am very fond of her, and she is very young to be in the position where she finds herself, and altho’ Lord D- doats upon her most exceedingly, he does have his ways, even is he not so strictly particular as us’d to be, and I do not like her to be in the frets -
Sure, says I, 'tis most deleterious in her condition.
'Tis a curious thing, says Agnes S-, that as the elder by some years I have ever been the one to take care of Dora, but now she is marry’d and I remain in spinsterhood, 'tis as tho’ this changes our respective positions and she must go take care of me.
Why, 'tis a pretty thing in her to show protective, but 'tis also a thing one would find irksome have matters been t’other way about. I daresay, I go on, that Lord D- has give her some concerns that you might be beguil’d by some fortune-hunter -
She snorts. As if I do not have the wit to see that myself and to be on my guard.
- but sure 'tis a considerable difference 'twixt making false protestations and contriving an abduction. But, my dear, drink up your coffee, and I will change the subject, for I had a very fine thought about Mr L-'s having obtain’d such interest with the Marquess of O-, that I daresay has the presentation of a living or two to his name.
Oh, she cries, indeed, 'tis exceeding like that he does and might go do some good thing for him. For altho’ he is not a fellow that I suppose would ever go neglect his flock, sure he is a fine conscientious shepherd even does Lord D- have doubts about his theology, but there must be burdens that take him away from study that another might legitimate undertake.
I repeat my good thing about Lord D- and the Archangel Gabriel, 'tis very well-receiv’d even tho’ she goes cover her mouth with her hand.
And, dear Miss S-, do you write any poems lately?.
O, she says, there are one or two that she works on –
At this moment come bouncing in Bess and Meg, follow’d by Miss N-, that make their curtesies to her very proper and then desire her to write a little something in their albums. They have brought the latter, along with a pen and ink-pot.
I can see that she goes think carefull before each one, and I confide produces some little verse specifick for each of 'em – for I can see over her shoulder that the one for Meg alludes to piano-playing.
Shortly after, the mongoose enters, follow’d by Josh, that picks it up and lets it curl about his neck.
O, cries Miss S-, what is that?
Josh is entire happy to tell her a deal about mongooses, or mayhap should be mongeese? and then offers that she might care to visit the wombatt and the rest of the menagerie?
Why, she says, she has seen Sir Z- R-'s wombatt - for Lord D- took her with Dora to visit his studio, with some thoughts of commissioning a painting – are they not very torpid creatures?
Oh no, cries Josh, 'tis just that they do not care for crowds, do you come see how 'twill romp.
After the girls have solicit’d her to go ride with 'em in the Park in the afternoon, she follows Josh to go admire his menagerie.
I am exceeding glad that she will be lookt after, for 'tis the day I purpose go see what Herr P- thinks he is about and to bring him to some better apprehension of the pickle he brings upon those that have so very kind offer’d him hospitality.
I mention somewhat of this mission to Eliza, and my darling says sure, she wishes she still had that shotgun about her, for she could find a use for it.
He is a sorry wretch, says I, and not, we must suppose, quite as sickly as he looks. Can he contrive to get a young woman with child, I confide that he is capable to doing somewhat towards earning his keep.
O! cries Eliza, Mr Sebastian K- came visit about the business of the polish factory t’other day, and remarkt that after his late Grand Tour they are doing a deal more business in various Germanick parts and did we know any that had that tongue and were seeking employment could do with another correspondence clerk or two. I had thought to go mention the matter to Mr MacD-, for I daresay there are those among his acquaintance that might suit.
Why, says I, I daresay Herr P- would be better employ’d at such work rather than inditing foolish notions of ideal communities, tho’ he might not think so.
So I take myself to the little house in a respectable but unfashionable district where Herr and Fraulein H- reside with their mother, that is a fine cozy-looking creature that I daresay has some hopes that I come about some philanthropick enterprize to aid Herr P-, for she murmurs, in a very strong Germanick accent, about the most excellent works that Lady B- is known for, as she shows me in.
Herr P- is reclin’d upon a sopha, with tea and some very fine cream-cakes at his elbow.
Why, says I to him, as I seat myself, you make yourself exceeding comfortable, Herr P-. But 'twill not do, the way you go on, I continue. Sure might be a different matter was you in some idyllick community in the wild woods of the Americas, that I hear are very fine and picturesque, tho’ I am also told that there are large wild animals such as bears as well as the Indians native to those parts, that are greatly reput’d extreme savage. But was you there I daresay there would be none to bother had you gone to church with the mother of your child or no.
But, I go on, 'tis a most material matter to a young woman that resides in Town and goes about to earn her living and that of her mother and any lodgers. For I confide that does it become known that she has got with child out of wedlock there are many families will go very expeditious to find some other tutor to come instruct their daughters. And I am like to suppose that altho’ Herr H- does considerable well with his flute, without Fraulein H- also earning this household will be forc’d into more oeconomickal habits – I look somewhat severe at the cream-cakes.
Herr P- takes the liberty to tell me that I have a vulgar concern with the conventions of society and that 'tis the nature of love to be free, and that marriage is a tyrannickal institution.
Indeed 'tis, says I, I have a deal of dislike to marriage myself, for places a deal of power in the hands of the husband and none at all in the hands of the wife.
I perceive that he did not expect this agreement that marriage is not an ideal relation, but also that he has never, I confide, consider’d the shocking inequity of the rights of the husband and the wife. Tho’ I daresay 'tis possible that 'tis different in other nations (I confide Mr N- would know).
However, says I, 'tis a poor recompense to a young woman that has give you her heart and her body to place her in a position where she may be call’d by the very foulest epithets, and depriv’d of any honest means of earning a living.
Also, says I, in this nation we have a considerable prejudice in favour of fellows that go about to earn enough to support their wives and their wives’ relatives and against those that live upon their wives. And I fancy I am in the way to prefer you to a post that would be considerable remunerative that you might undertake, for are you capable of f-----g, I confide you could manage to write letters in your native tongue.
He sneers and says something uncivil about the English.
O, says I, do you dislike the English, sure I have some little interest at the Bavarian Embassy (for the Freiherr von D- shows exceeding attentive whenever I encounter him) –
At which he looks most exceeding sickly indeed.
Well, says I, do you go to the parish church hereabouts and – sure you may marry by ordinary licence, as matters are should go take place as soon as maybe rather than having the banns call’d – put matters in hand to make a honest woman of Fraulein H-, I will not go speak to my acquaintance at the Embassy, and I will go prefer your interest to Mr K- as correspondence clerk.
He looks at me very sulky and says, sure I am very persuasive and he is entire convinc’d by my rhetorick.