Why, says Eliza to Agnes S-, sure we have not had any come from P- House the morn, do you have any concern about matters there, do you go write your own note to send by one of the footmen and he can ask if anything’s ado.
Agnes S- bites her lip and says 'tis surely the thing to do. I offer her the use of my traveling desk while she scribbles a brief note that says nothing of the adventures she has lately undergone.
Eliza rings for a footman and one comes most expeditious. He is dispatcht with the note and instruct’d to ask how matters go at P- House.
Eliza and I look at one another and we can both quite suppose that has Lady D- gone into labour, Lord D- would be entirely too preoccupy’d between sending for Mr H- and seeing her bestow’d in the birth-chamber &C to remember to write to his sister-in-law. And one may quite imagine that he is like to become exceeding agitat’d over the matter.
Sure, says Agnes, looking worry’d, there have been ladies allud’d to the matter in low voices as an ordeal, and I cannot help but think that 'twould soothe Dora’s mind was I there.
(Sure I confide 'twould, but indeed I am not sure of the propriety of the matter even without Lord D-'s various qualms.)
In order to distract her mind I ask that if 'tis not an imposition she might assist me in seeing who will be coming to my drawing-room meeting and who has sent regrets.( I daresay I shall have the matter to do over again.)
Some little while later the footman returns with a note from P- House. I see Agnes S-'s hands shake a little as she unfolds it. O, she says, Dora is brought to bed and Mr H- has arriv’d. That is all he writes.
Why, says I, she is in most excellent hands, does one have a man-midwife one could not do better than Mr H-.
Sure, says Agnes S-, 'tis indeed encouraging to think so.
But she still looks somewhat concern’d: and indeed I am like to wonder whether Lady D- does not feel the want of the elder sister that has ever stood her protector and champion at this time. I also wonder a little that Lady P- does not come up to Town to attend upon the accouchement.
I know not what I might recommend to her to do to occupy her mind and distract her thoughts, but comes Miss N- to say that this afternoon she purposes to show the girls and Josh a few simple chymical experiments out of the works of Mrs Marcet, and Miss S- is entire welcome to join 'em.
O, she cries, that would be entire delightfull! sure I must be about acquiring my own copy of Mrs Marcet’s excellent works. What a very fine education you provide, Miss N-.
Miss N- looks exceeding gratify’d and says, of course her sister Ellie, that has gone to New South Wales, was the clever one.
So I feel I may leave her in those good hands, and go about the various calls I should make. Tho’ when I am in contemplation that several of those are about soothing ruffl’d feathers among the orphanage ladies, sure I think I had rather be being instruct’d by the wise words of Mrs Marcet.
I also go visit Mrs P-, that usual has Miss W- with her, and mention to 'em that I should be most desirous of knowing whether they would ever have any lady’s maids upon the books of their fine enterprize?
Surely, says Miss W-, you are not come about to replace the fam’d Docket?
Indeed not, says I, and Docket brings on young Sophy in quite the finest way; but there are young ladies in my circle go marry and thus can no longer share their mothers’ or sisters’ maids and so I look about on their behalf.
Mrs P- looks thoughtfull and says, mayhap they do, she will have to look over their records, but – she turns to Miss W-, was there not that lady that had been in that kind of service afore she marry’d, and now is widow’d and her son marry’d to a woman that will not have her live with 'em, and her daughters all out in good service but unable offer her a home –
Would be a somewhat older lady I hazard? says I.
But says, Mrs P- replies, that she keeps up with the modes -
I take a thought that doubtless, did she find a place among my circle, I might prevail upon Docket to admit her to the conclaves of her set.
Was there not also, says Miss W-, that unfortunate young woman that was seduc’d by her employer’s son, and had a child, that her sister looks after for her, but she would wish to be in some place that would enable her to pay somewhat towards its keep? A fine young woman that was beguil’d.
Why, says I, might we convoke further upon this?
After I have done all this, I give myself the pleasure of going call upon Lady N-, that sure is lying upon a sopha with Selina purring upon her chest but looks a deal better in herself than she was wont when first I made her acquaintance.
Dear Lady B-, she cries, sitting up and holding out her arms, at which Selina goes look affront’d and jumps to the floor, 'tis an entire delight to see you! and looking so well!
I go sit beside her and she rings for tea.
She beams at me and says she has had quite the finest letter from dear Nan, 'tis entirely delightfull how happy she shows, nothing but praise for her dear Tony and what a fine place is D- Chase.
She then goes on to tell me of the most exceeding fine excursion her dear boys took her on to Ranelagh, o, the entire difference that having an invalid carriage makes! And such good sons that will push it, and lift it are there any obstructions - indeed, my dear, I am most fortunate in 'em.
They are excellent fellows, says I.
And getting into a very good set, she goes on. I hear, she continues, that Viscount R- has invit’d 'em to a house-party at A- when Society goes out of Town.
Why, an excellent thing, says I, quite in the finest of ton, a deal of manly sports I daresay – for 'tis a bachelor party - tho’ indeed, there is an exceeding fine library at A-, and the most fascinating cabinet of curiosities –
Indeed, says Lady N-, I am to apprehend that there will be exercise for the mind as well as the body, for Geoff tells me that Mr MacD- will be there and he doubts not there will be some fine peripatetick philosophy discusst as they walk about the grounds.
(I feel a certain chagrin even to resentment that neither Milord nor Sandy has inform’d me of this plan, that this year 'twill not be an entirely fribble-set occasion.)
Entire charming! says I.
Also the Marquess has invit’d 'em to go frolick at D- Chase – says 'twill be entire informal, quite Liberty Hall. She sighs a little and I daresay thinks that her summer will doubtless be spent at Monk’s G-. (Sure I have not receiv’d any invitation to any house-party there: indeed, I confide that my invitation last year was so that I might go prefer the Earl’s interest to Roberts.)
I am sure, says I, he would be entire delight’d to see you there as well.
She looks thoughtfull, but before she can say any more come tumbling into the room Ladies Emily and Louisa and their brothers, that all make very effusive towards me.
I hasten home after making my farewells, for a theatre-party in Milord’s box is propos’d for the e’en and I daresay Docket will go scold me for leaving so little time to be dresst suitable.
I am inform’d that there has not yet been any further news from P- House (indeed I did not think this likely). I hope that the play will be one that will engage Miss S-'s attention and distract her mind from worry.
I am in supposition that we all hope that there may be news when we re-enter, but there is still no word. Agnes S- looks worry’d, altho’ we all go say that 'twould be most unusual to expect anything yet, sure we would hear nothing until the morn, and endeavour raise her spirits.
Then all go to bed, and I go to my dressing-room, where I open to Docket the matter of the lady's maids, and she sniffs a little and then says, sure does My Ladyship suppose 'em convenable for the preference I purpose, she would of course do her best to assist the poor creatures to find their feet in quality service.
Why, Docket, says I, I could not suppose that there is any at whose feet they might sit and gain greater wisdom in their calling.
Mayhap! says Docket.
Once I am array’d for bed I step thro’ the door into my fine reserv’d chamber.
'Tis not long until my darlings come to join me, 'tis entire delightfull.
But in a little while we express that mayhap we too are a little concern’d as to how matters may be going with Lady D-. Might you not, says I to Eliza, have some little discourse with Miss S- and ease her mind somewhat?
Mayhap, she says, there will come word the morn. But the first time oft comes hard: I did what I might to soothe the child’s worries, but indeed, I confide ever is somewhat of a shock when it comes about to happen.
We sigh and I think of my own ordeal with my lovely Flora.
As we are settling to comfortable rest, comes a timid knocking at my chamber door.
We all sit up and look at one another.