I gesture to my darlings to go conceal themselves in the dressing-room, whilst I go see what ado this might be.
Once they have done so very expeditious, I go open the door a crack and see Miss S- standing there in somewhat of a taking. Oh, Lady B-, she cries, forgive me for disturbing your slumbers, but I find my mind in such a whirl that I cannot sleep, I fear I may become quite entire hysterickal, I am in such concern about poor Dora –
She goes on to babble that mayhap she should have defy’d Lord D-, and insist’d upon staying with her sister at this time.
My dear, says I, even was you at P- House 'twould be a deal of anxious waiting rather than anything you might put your hand to. Now, let me convey you back to your own bed, and I will just find the little bottle of brandy I keep by me for emergencies, so that you may take a little to calm this nervous fit and help you sleep.
I put my arm about her waist and we walk along the corridor back to her own bedchamber, and she babbles a little further of how Sophy told her that Lady B- was an entire favourite at R- House, quite one of the family, her own chamber, along with its dressing-room and quarters for Docket and Sophy, kept quite entire for her own use, indeed, one sees that 'tis quite so, that 'tis no matter of some formal visit in state but quite as if you were Mrs F-'s sister.
(Sure I think 'tis not merely her fine sisterly concern for Lady D- that brings about this state, but that 'tis some delay’d effect of her abduction.)
We arrive at her own bedchamber, and I go smooth her pillow and straiten the ruffl’d sheets, and bring her to take a little brandy, for I think 'twill be quite entire sanitive for her condition, and make her go lye down, and sit beside the bed talking in soothing tones of quite indifferent matters that will not go agitate her further. After a little while she grows drowsy and in due course sleeps. I pull up the covers – tho’ sure 'tis a warm night and she is unlike to take a chill - and then return to my own fine reserv’d chamber.
My darlings creep out from the dressing-room with expressions of relief.
Sophy, says I, was boasting upon the fine reserv’d chamber that is kept for me, so I confide 'tis how she knew where to find me.
Why, says Eliza, 'twould look extreme particular to tell the household that they must not disclose where Lady B- sleeps.
Indeed Lady B- may have enemies, says Josiah, but sure one would not be in fears that they might send some assassin to murder her in her bed.
Quite so, says I. But now, my darlings, let us go back to bed and try and sleep a little after these alarums and excursions.
I am therefore perchance not quite so ready to welcome the dear children for the morning levée as I am wont. But I cannot be morose and sullen when my precious Flora comes snuggle up to me to be a wakefull wombatt, the lovely darling.
I go down to the dining-room to take a little breakfast. Josiah is still at table, and tells me that there has been word from P- House but only to say matters are still in hand, no news as yet.
'Tis hard to have to wait upon such matters, says I.
Josiah sighs and says, indeed 'tis: I confide that he recalls not only how he was pacing up and down while I was in labour with darling Flora in Surrey but also similar matters at Eliza’s several accouchements.
Once I have breakfast’d I take my traveling desk and go sit in the small parlour, for I am in some hopes that Mrs N- may come call.
’Tis indeed so: she looks about her and says, sure 'tis not so charming as your parlour, but 'tis exceeding fine.
I ring for coffee and say that the coffee will be of entire similar quality with Seraphine in the kitchens.
Comes up coffee and some very fine cakes.
She looks at me a little roguish and says that she hopes that this residence suits me (I am like to suppose that she shares in the suspicions that I am up some secret stair to go romp with Milord or Sandy or both).
Why, 'tis all extreme comfortable, says I, and quite Liberty Hall, but my dear, is there any news of Miss R-?
Mrs N- sighs and says, has quite of a sudden become enormous and her understudy takes over her parts, but no sign yet of her being brought to bed. My poor Mr J- is quite put about in the matter and wishes she would go get it over with and come back on the stage.
Sure I think he is being somewhat hopefull, for even is she deliver’d shortly she will be oblig’d to lye in.
Mrs N- sighs and says, the poor creature (by which I understand her to mean Mr J- rather than Miss R-).
But, says I, is there any other news?
Oh, indeed, she says, that antient admirer of Mrs O’C- goes at last back to his estates in Ireland, without having attain’d to marrying her, or any of those well-dower’d ladies he was hanging out for. For indeed 'twas rather too obvious that a fellow that was about horse-coping upon all occasions whether proper to such an endeavour or not was in an intention to repair his fortunes. And is not a fellow of such exceeding charms that ladies are like to fall into his arms.
Indeed not, says I, sure Mrs O’C- had fond memories of youthfull flirtations, but found he had gone off considerable.
And sure 'twould be difficult to build up a fine connexion of fellows that desir’d special pleasures was she bury’d in the Irish countryside!
That minds me, says I – more coffee? another cake? – that Lord K- is among her present patrons I apprehend, tho’ sure I know not what his particular special pleasure may be, indeed I had rather not know. But I hear it rumour’d that his mind may at last be turning to a second marriage –
My dear! indeed! I was about to tell you that he is give out to have been showing most markt attentions to Mrs D- K- in Tunbridge Wells. I suppose he does not move in the kind of set where he would hear of her shocking history –
The matter of being requir’d to pay the late Mr D- K-'s gambling debts with her favours? says I – Mrs N- nods – indeed he is not in any gambling set, a sober dull fellow, perchance he has not heard the gossip tho’ sure 'tis very widely circulat’d around the clubs.
Sure he cannot have heard it, says Mrs N-, for is give out such a fastidious fellow that he finds no lady to match his first wife. And then there is his mother, that dragon Lady T-, such an epitome of correct ton –
I sigh. Tho’ says I, had I had such a marriage as Mrs D- K- had, I would not be jumping into another.
'Tis somewhat, says Mrs N-, running to the other extreme.
She passes on to me a few more current on-dits before jumping up and saying indeed she must to the theatre.
Well, I am most exceeding reliev’d to hear that Mr O’N- goes about taking his congé. But I am perturb’d by this matter of Lord K- and cannot untangle it.
I take out my proofs, and determine that I must go see is there a Spanish dixionary in the R- House library, for there are a few words in Spanish I have put in that do not look quite right.
So I go to the west wing and up to the library, and find there Sandy seat’d at the writing desk scowling and scribbling.
How now, says I, I confide that I encounter Deacon Brodie about some stringent matter of criticism.
You do indeed so, says he, pushing the matter away. But sure 'tis a pleasure to see our dear sibyl. Does there come any news from P- House yet?
I shake my head. But I do not think 'tis yet time to worry: except, of course, child-bearing is ever a perilous matter, and thus one cannot help but do so. But, my dear bello scozzese, let me go distract my mind by chiding you for not telling me that the A- house-party is of a quite different nature this summer, and that you go, and that there will be deep philosophickal discussions, tho’ I daresay also cricket &C.
Why, 'tis quite a recent notion that we take, for sure altho’ there is still an empty-head’d wastrel set, 'twill be a little reduc’d this summer, what with the loss of Foliott Fanshawe, Lord A- being about his bridal tour, Danvers D- I daresay entirely took up with new fatherhood - and the somewhat younger fellows that begin join G-'s set are of a somewhat less fribble nature.
Indeed, he has invit’d Sebastian K-, and the Earl’s sons, and – no, dear silly creature, 'twas not Lord Geoffrey expresst a hope that I should be there, 'twas Lord U-, that said sure must be like the antient Greeks, with exercise for the mind and for the body. At which G- took the thought that, after all, here am I most widely accept’d in Society and meeting several of the fribble-set in the clubs, go playing goff with Lord A-, 'tis a quite different matter from what us’d to be, why should I not go?
Why not indeed, says I, providing that you manifest due discretion.
He looks a little dourly Calvinistickal but then laughs and says, even so, 'twill be most agreeable.
I am about looking for the Spanish dixionary when comes in Eliza, saying that she thought she would find me here was I not still in the small parlour and not being a tiger in the nursery. And word has come that Lady D- has borne a fine large healthy boy, and that Lady P- was delay’d coming up from Shropshire by an accident upon the road and is there with her now, and the note was from her, for Lord D- lyes abed with a megrim.