Takes a deal less than a day for Agnes S- to become entire part of the household. Josh finds that she has quite the soundest opinions about wombatts and badgers. She is entire happy to join Bess and Meg in practising batting and bowling and also endears herself to Miss N- by becoming most passionate enthrall’d by the study of microscopy and the other matters of the girls’ lessons and sighs that she never had any such fine well-instruct’d governess herself.
While quite declaring that she is no such pianist as Meg, offers play a few duets with her. Is most gratifyingly envious of the toy theatre. Will happyly play simple games with the nursery-set. Mittens condescends to come sit purring upon her lap.
Has been arrang’d that each day a footman will bring a message of how matters go at P- House – that is still in a state of anticipation - and will convey back a message from her as to how she does herself.
She nibbles upon the end of her pen and says, sure, she confides she should not reveal how much she enjoys herself here, but alas, that means that what may she write but that she is well?
Why, says I, you may say somewhat of the excellent understanding of certain matters in Parliament that you acquir’d from Mr F-'s dinner-time conversation, you may mention that you observe Mrs F-‘s fine household practices, and did you not go visit the kitchens?
She laughs and says, sure she did, but she was quite distract’d by that adorable babe, took no notice in the least of the fine range and all the excellent contrivances.
And then she bends to her task and writes a little note that conveys that she is well, and does not pine and is entire well-treat’d in the household. But sure, she says, I cannot write the same note day after day.
O, says I, I daresay you may mention that you went riding with the girls and His Lordship, mayhap somewhat about the very excellent library there is here; 'tis entire unnecessary to detail how the mongoose climb’d all over you to ascertain what kind of a thing you might be.
Sure 'tis more curious even than a cat! she exclaims.
Also, says I, sure I would not oblige you to undertake the matter, but I have a deal of notices to send out respecting my drawing-room meeting and 'twould be greatly helpfull to have another hand to it.
She laughs once more and says she would be entire delight’d.
We are most agreeable about this task for some hours until comes Eliza, follow’d by Sebastian K-, that has been visiting about the business of Seraphine and Euphemia’s pickles and preserves, and says that they will have laid the usual collation that would serve an entire regiment in the dining-room, do we wish come and partake.
I observe that Agnes S- finds herself quite at ease with Sebastian K-: 'tis I daresay partly due to encountering him in the company of Little V, but also, I confide, because she cannot in the least suppose him to be a fortune-hunting scoundrel, as the son of an exceeding wealthy man and a diligent fellow in the pursuit of business in his own right.
'Tis most particular obvious when come in Milord, Sandy and Lords Edward and Geoffrey: I think she is still conscious that the latters’ sisters have been eager to match-make and it renders her somewhat shy.
However, she asks very civil have they heard from their sister the new Marchioness of O- and we are all oblig’d to hear how much she likes D- Chase, the exceeding fine horse that is a wedding-gift from her husband, the very great merits of her husband &C.
And, says Lord Geoffrey, he has extend’d a most civil invitation to us to go visit during the summer months, 'twill not be any formal house-party, but he dares say we may find it more agreeable than Monks G- at present.
They make grimaces at one another and then, I confide, come to the thought that they should not be going talk of family difficulties in company, and change the subject somewhat obvious to various balls &C that go forth shortly.
Sandy takes the opportunity to mention to me, under cover of various other conversation that goes on, that the vessel containing Reynaldo di S- and his retinue should by now have sail’d from Liverpool.
Let us pray, says I, that has not only done so, but with the full complement of passengers.
Indeed, he says very meaningfull.
The Earl’s sons shortly take their leave, Milord has some business to be about, and Sandy has some other business upon hand.
Agnes S- says to Eliza that she would greatly desire to go undertake a few errands this afternoon –
Why, says Sebastian K-, exceeding civil, providing that Cheapside would serve your purpose I should be entire happy to drop you there when I drive back to the City.
She says that Cheapside would be quite entire suitable for her intend’d purchases; but, she turns to Eliza and me, she supposes she should take a maid with her?
Indeed, says I, 'twould be entire proper and I should not like it to get back to Lord and Lady D- that we let you go about shopping entire unescort’d – sure I would come with you myself but that I have calls to make – I daresay Sophy might be spar’d and 'twould be somewhat in the way of a diversion for her.
I go consult with Docket that says indeed, 'twould make a nice little excursion for her, and while she is there, there is a commission or two she might undertake.
Sophy quite jumps up and down at this proposal, and she and Agnes S- depart for what I confide will be a merry afternoon promenading along Cheapside and going into its fine shops.
I say to my darling that I had had a most curious note from Lady T- desiring me to call upon her, so I daresay I should go and see what is ado with her. I therefore go and have Docket array me suitable for such a call.
As I cross the hallway, Miss N- darts out to me to say, did not want to say anything before company, but, o, Lady B-, Fraulein H- has askt her to be her bridesmaid, for Herr P- has propos’d and they will go be marry’d as soon as maybe. And she looks a deal more chearfull now.
(Sure I should not be particular chear’d by the prospect of marriage to that wretch Herr P-, but in her present circumstance 'tis a deal better than the alternative.)
I take myself to call upon Lady T-, in some curiosity as to what the matter may be.
She is seat’d in her small parlour – 'tis a considerable mark of favour to be receiv’d there rather than more formal in the drawing-room – and rings for tea at once. She looks a little agitat’d.
Once the tea has come and been pour’d, she discloses that she has had some very worrying intelligence concerning Lord K-.
Indeed, says I, looking sympathetick and hoping that 'tis not reveal’d about his patronage of Mrs O’C-.
I have had a troubling letter from an acquaintance of mine in Tunbridge Wells, she goes on, and sure may merely be malicious troublemaking, for indeed she is somewhat given to that, but –
Lord K- lately visit’d there to go quack himself with the waters, or so he gave out. And 'tis notic’d, or so this lady makes it out, that he makes extreme civil to Mrs D- K-, that is there in the capacity of companion to the – to Dowager Lady W-. That shocking ill-bred creature, makes me quite ill to think of it.
Why, says I, may be somewhat that does naught but show exceeding well of Lord K-'s ton, for he may consider that here she is, but lately widow’d – for 'tis nothing like a year since her husband fell down dead – and left nigh on destitute by his extravagant ways and improvidence, and oblig’d to take a companion’s post to a lady that is, alas, not not’d for the benignity of her character –
Frightfull creature! says Lady T-. It does Lady W- the greatest credit that she has never poison’d her mother-in-law’s tea.
- and one hears that there are those that go scorn Mrs D- K-, so I think it shows very well in him to demonstrate a proper civility and set an example.
Why, perchance, for he has been brought up to behave well; but 'tis also said that he looks on her with a certain admiration.
Indeed she has a fine presence, I remark, I daresay 'tis admir’d by many fellows.
But K-, that has shown no interest in any woman since his wife dy’d, sure 'tis worrying.
I sit silent for a moment or two in order to gather my thoughts. One must bear in mind, says I, that her husband was a quite dreadfull fellow and that his influence must have been quite the worst thing for her, and that she may come back to better ways now that is remov’d.
She looks extreme dubious at this proposition. I therefore say that may be entire nothing to the tale, and I will go about to see whether I might gain some better knowledge.
She leans over and clasps my hands and says 'tis indeed kind in me.
(But I fear he takes a fancy towards her.)
I return to R- House mulling this over.
I go into the family room, quite in the mood to take a little tea and speculation with my darling, and find that Sophy is there, in a most exceeding taking.
Why, how now, what’s ado?
Sophy turns a tear-stain’d face to me and says, she lost Miss S- in the crowds on Cheapside. Was a coarse fellow offer’d to grab at her, and by the time she had got free, had lost sight of Miss S-, and went up and down looking for her at the shops where she might have been, and then suppos’d that she must have taken a cab back to R- House.
But she has not return’d, says Eliza, with a frown.
(I am like to wonder whether Agnes S-, finding herself of a sudden alone, took a notion to relish the experience before returning.)
Why, says I, we may yet expect her quite shortly.