My darlings are very glad indeed to hear the intelligence of Miss S-'s safe return when they come in after their party, but 'tis not until we are in triangle later that I convey to them the full story. Eliza growls and says, o, was the Admiral in Town; and Josiah says somewhat about punching of noses.
Indeed, my dear ones, your sentiments do you quite the greatest credit, but I think with a little reflexion upon the matter, you will see that 'tis entirely best for Agnes S- that the business be kept close. 'Tis not just a matter of her reputation – tho’ Mr Miles O’N- had not proceed’d to put her into a situation where she might feel she had no alternative but to marry him, mayhap 'twas merely because he had not had the time, for getting her away from Town and on the road to wherever he aim’d at must have been his most urgent thought – but I confide that there are those that would go speculate and whisper behind their fans as to what might have happen’d, and recall the narrative of Clarissa Harlowe.
But aside from that, that is indeed a most material thing for a young woman, even does one confide that her very large dowry might persuade gentlemen to overlook any such scandal, there is the matter of Lord and Lady D-. Already she is wont to chafe under their extreme concern for her, that is indeed entire exaggerat’d – for have we not had this evidence of what a very level-head’d young woman she is, that will not go faint or have a fit of the vapours but be climbing out of windows &C – and do they hear of this, I am in quite the greatest supposition that her condition would be, entire out of quite the greatest care and affection for her, that of a prisoner.
O, cries Eliza, there is our most thoughtfull of C-s, takes a long view in the matter. But might not Mr O’N- go about in some fashion - ?
Hah, says I, does Matt Johnson go lay hands upon him and mind him of the majesty of the law &C, I confide he will be about taking the ferry back across the Irish Sea to his Castle Rackrent and his nags with most extreme expedition.
Why, our dearest, says Josiah, indeed altho’ Mr Johnson has ever show’d exceeding amiable towards you and towards the boys, I quite entirely confide that he must be entire terrifying towards malefactors and 'twill be an entire salutary warning to that scoundrel.
Indeed, says I. But now, my darlings, you must go tell me of this party you were at and how much you were both admir’d.
Eliza, the naughty wild creature, says she has a notion worth two of that.
Comes the morn and after my regular levée chocolate party, that these days includes the mongoose that will, if not hinder’d, go inspect our cups lest there be some serpent goes lurk in 'em that it might fight, I go into my dressing-room.
Docket, says I, I hope you have not been giving Sophy a scold for what happen’d yesterday.
Indeed not, says Docket, sure she conduct’d herself as prudent as might be – stuck the saucy rogue with a hat-pin, went look for Miss S-, and finding her not came back here to let you know what was afoot. I confide I could not have done more myself. Indeed I have told her to sleep in the morn, for yesterday will have tir’d her considerable.
We are like to think, says I, that the saucy fellow was very like a confederate in the matter.
'Tis indeed like, says Docket, tho’ sure there are a deal of coarse scoundrels insult women in the streets, the wretches.
Her face softens and she says that she is glad Sophy came to no greater harm.
Sure I think she grows considerable fond of Sophy. I wonder has she reveal’d her secret to her, but 'tis entirely her business and I do not go interrogate.
We have prevail’d upon Agnes S- to remain in bed, at least during the morn, and had a nice little breakfast took up to her on a tray.
I am mind’d that 'twould be of great benefit to have some discourse with Mrs N- and discover what on-dits go flying around at present, in particular whether she has heard aught of Lord K-'s interest in Mrs D- K-.
My darling, says I to Eliza, you should not mind if I mention’d to old friends that they might call upon me here quite informal of a forenoon?
Indeed not, says my dearest, and there is the small parlour that you might receive 'em in.
'Tis very good of you, says I.
Eliza laughs and says she would not hinder our spymistress general about her work.
I therefore open my traveling desk and write little notes to Mrs N- and Miss A- (I daresay Miss R- is by now not going about very much) as well as to Susannah and Viola that may desire come convoke at some time when we are not like to be broke in upon by formal callers.
I am about that and a little other correspondence when comes Hector with a deal more letters for me. I look thro’ them and sigh a little, for looks like a deal of philanthropick matter that I must be about, as well as those that accept to come to my drawing-room meeting for the benefit of the T-'s work in New South Wales.
But there is one addresst in a hand that seems somewhat familiar, in a cover frankt by Sir B- W-: 'tis from Mrs D- K-. I settle to reading it.
She begins by saying she has again manag’d to discover where the old b---h keeps her frankt covers – never goes offer her one in case there are those she might write to – and has abstract’d one so that she may write to me.
She has lately, she writes, been in receipt of what she can only deem attentions from Lord K-, but they are very unlike the kind of attentions she has been wont to receive from gentlemen. And, indeed, she apprehends from things he has let drop that his intentions would be entire honourable, for he will talk a good deal of the shocking ways some fellows go on towards women, that they should honour and respect, so she apprehends that he is neither about a seduction nor offering her carte blanche. 'Tis not, she confides, that he is some strict Evangelickal fellow like that pompous bore Lord D-, so she knows not what to make of it.
Sure, did he indeed intend an honourable suit to her, 'twould be a most tempting prospect, for besides any matter of rank and wealth, he strikes her as a very kindly gentle fellow; but for the fact that his mother is that implacable dragon Lady T-, that she knows has took her in the greatest dislike. And she will concede that 'tis entire just, for when she was marry’d to that wretch she behav’d in quite the worst of ton herself, as well as being taint’d by her husband’s bad ways.
(I am most prepossesst that she does not quite immediate take to this match as a means of revenge upon Lady T- for her scorn.)
I sit looking upon this and considering over how I might reply, when Matt Johnson is announc’d.
He comes in, makes us a leg, and says he has seen that kidnapping wretch and represent’d to him that he will find Ireland a deal more healthfull and 'twould be to his benefit to return there. And confides that he will do so once has wound up any matters he has on hand in Town.
Has also, says Matt, been persuad’d to write out a full confession, sign’d and witnesst, that Miss S- may wish to keep by her should there be any gossip arise, tho’ I think the matter has been kept quiet enough that I daresay 'twill not.
Why, says Eliza, I confide this is quite above and beyond the duties of a Runner, and that Miss S- will wish to show her gratitude.
At this moment comes in Agnes S- herself, saying that sure she is not ill and feels entire rest’d. Eliza goes ring for coffee, and asks Mr Johnson to repeat his tale to Miss S-.
She takes the confession and reads it over and says, 'tis indeed prudent to have this upon hand, might I find some secure place for it. She bites her lip and says, Lady B-, might you look after it for me?
Why, says I, I should be delight’d to bestow it in some place where 'twould be safe. But was you not having a fine desk made, and does it not have any secret compartment?
Oh, she says with a smile, so it does. But until I am return’d to P- House and may convey it there, might you look after it?
Indeed, says I, taking it and bestowing it into one of the secure compartments of my traveling desk.
Agnes S- then says she knows not what she owes Mr Johnson for the fine offices he has done her, and altho’ gold can hardly be a measure of what she owes, would desire to show generous in the matter.
After he has been persuad’d to take some coffee before departing, and has told us several fine tales of low life, he takes his leave and says is ever at our service. May go see if MacD- is about in t’other wing as had a matter on which would desire his thoughts.
O, says Agnes S-, once he has gone, what a very nice man that is.
I say that I do not suppose that Mr Miles O’N- is of the same opinion.
She laughs and says she confides not. And she should go see Sophy and make sure she was not injur’d by that coarse scoundrel yesterday, and assure her that there can be not the least blame falls upon her.
She then frowns and says, has not the note from P- House come yet?