The next morn Eliza and I go with Miss S- to pay a call at P- House, with the intention that we shall go distract Lady P- and Lord D- while Agnes S- visits her sister in the lying-in chamber.
We also take a deal of flowers and hot-house fruit with us.
'Tis most entirely an answerable plan: my darling goes discourse of obstetrickal matters with Lady P-, and I go engage in conversation with Lord D-, that still looks pale and sunk-ey’d.
I go about with the usual congratulations on having a fine healthy son &C, and then proceed to say that sure we have most greatly delight’d in Miss S-'s company, and she has been of quite infinite assistance to me in the matter of arranging my drawing-room meeting. Sure, I hope that he and Lady D- may spare her a little longer until this occasion takes place, she makes herself so exceeding helpfull, and I daresay will become entire competent to undertake such an enterprize herself.
He looks me with mournfull eyes and says, sure, Mr H- has told him that Theodora must have a deal of rest and quiet for the next several days, and not be troubl’d with company, and provid’d that Miss S- comes visit from time to time he thinks it entire for the best, if 'tis no bother to the F-s, does she remain at R- House for a little while.
He adds that he is sure that Lady D- will be sorry to miss the drawing-room meeting, but will still be lying-in.
('Twould not, I fear, be entire tactfull to mention the propos’d tiffin-party of Milord’s.)
'Tis entirely an understood thing, says I, no-one would expect her to rise just yet.
He adds that he is sure she would desire him to make some contribution on her behalf to such an excellent cause (I confide he does not entirely mind what cause 'tis, for he looks most exceeding preoccupy’d.)
'Tis most exceeding generous, says I.
He sighs somewhat and looks over to where his mother talks to Eliza, that is only oblig’d to make exclamations in order to keep up her part in it, and says, had never quite encompasst how hard a thing 'tis for women, an entire ordeal. Indeed he was reliev’d to hear from Mr H- that her cries were quite entire in the normal order of things and did not go signify any disaster, but - o, my poor Theodora –
'Tis perhaps not entire proper but I pat his hand very sympathetick as I make some commonplace statement that there is the subsequent joy of the child.
He does not look entire convinc’d.
Comes into the room Agnes S- and says that she sees how very tir’d is her sister and does not wish exhaust her further or keep her from restorative slumber.
Lord D- says he hopes that she will continue to come visit, but he confides that at present 'twill be entire for the best does she remain at R- House, and expresses himself most exceeding gratefull to Eliza for her hospitality.
O, cries Eliza, 'tis quite an pleasure, she makes herself an entire favourite with the children and shows most helpfull to Lady B- over this drawing-room meeting.
We take our leave. In the carriage Eliza says, sure Mr H- will joke that has never yet lost a husband, but sure Lord D- looks in poor case. Cannot help having his mama reciting a deal of horrid tales.
Miss S-, that looks pale and concern’d, says, Dora seem’d disinclin’d to talk much, but there were tears would roll down her face.
Why, says Eliza, 'tis a common matter so shortly after the birth, somewhat to do with the humours. And did you see the babe?
O yes, says Agnes S- with a little smile, a fine fellow tho’ somewhat markt about the face.
'Twill fade, says Eliza.
Oh, Mrs F-, says Agnes S-, leaning over to clutch at her hand, I am so very glad of your good sense and experience in these matters.
Eliza pats her hand and says does she have any concerns she is entire welcome to open 'em to her, for fie upon these notions of preserving maidenly modesty thro’ entire ignorance.
O, thank you! cries Agnes S-, bursting into tears, and saying, sure she has gone about in the library to see might she enlighten herself a little, but 'tis all most exceeding confusing.
When we are arriv’d at R- House, Eliza sends to desire Seraphine to have some of the soothing drink made up, 'tis quite entirely what Miss S- needs.
I see that Hector has been with my correspondence, and I confide is now about giving the little boys some lessoning in the pugilistick art. I determine to leave my darling and Miss S- to convoke together about the mysteries of womanhood, and therefore take my traveling desk and my letters into the small parlour to leave 'em in privacy.
I see that there is a letter from the Marquess of O-. I discover that he and his dearest Hippolyta have determin’d upon returning to Town, for they do not wish to seem to be hanging their heads at D- Chase in fear of the judgements of Society and waiting until the matter has blown over before showing their faces. Sure there is very little of the Season left, but he dares say they may put themselves about a little and defy scandal.
This being so, he dares to take the liberty to desire their benevolent angel, Lady B- -
- O, poo! says I aloud –
- to ascertain that all is in order at O- House. 'Tis indeed an imposition, but he hopes that in due course he may demonstrate their gratitude –
- o, tush! I cry –
- and there was also the matter of a personal maid for his dearest lady. Sure they have contriv’d at D- Chase but his dearest confides that the local society may now have a very strange notion of crack Town style.
Why, says I, do I not contrive this –
The door opens and Josiah looks around and says, he heard me speaking but none reply’d. Is all well?
O, says I, I am a foolish C- that vociferates at a letter I have just had. 'Tis no heavy matter. But, do you come in a moment and close the door, for I had a matter to open to you.
(I have seen that there is also a letter in the pile from dearest Belinda, that I confide deals with the arrangements for the Derby.)
I open to him that I shall be joining Belinda and Captain P- for the occasion, and I daresay I shall dine with 'em and their set at the hostelry where they stay in Epsom. Last year while they were in Town I had 'em to a private dinner at my house, but my pretty parlour is at present under dust-sheets so 'twill not answer. I daresay I might arrange for a private room at M. Duval’s eating-house and treat ‘em there –
Why, says Josiah, I can see no objection in the slightest to having 'em for a private dinner here, when I consider how much we owe 'em for their fine care of Josh last year, and what very excellent people they are. I daresay, Society’s conventions being what they are, one should not invite other guests that might be unwilling to see their merits on account of the irregularity of their connexion, for one would not want 'em insult’d, but an entire private affair – really I can see no objection, tho’ I might just have a word with His Lordship, that has such an exceeding nice sense of the proper ton of any occasion.
O, says I, that is most extreme good of you. Milord has quite the highest esteem for both of 'em. But ‘tis a curious thing, there are many will say what a shocking wretch was the mad Marquess, and express themselves entire sympathetick to dear Belinda’s plight ty’d to such a one, but would not sit down at dinner with her. Whereas, says I with a little grimace, because there was said certain words over my own dear late Marquess and myself by a clergyman, the same ones will quite ignore my own history and indeed go be entire encroaching.
I wish we might have had some acquaintance of the fellow, says Josiah, for not only did he show so exceeding benevolent to the best of C-s, His Lordship and MacD- will ever speak most highly of him.
Indeed, says I, becoming a little tearfull, I should have lik’d to have known him longer myself.
But, says I, rallying myself a little, do the Marquess of O- and his lady return to Town so very soon, I daresay they will arrive in time to attend Milord’s tiffin-party, 'twill be quite entire the thing. Sure I will send him a little note so that he may send cards to O- House.
And, I continue, I will go call at O- House myself this afternoon and ensure that all is in readyness for their arrival. Also, says I, I must contrive most expeditious to interview this lady that Mrs P- and Miss W- think might properly be preferr’d to the post of a lady’s maid for the new marchioness, along with Docket, that will be better able to sound out her capacities.
Josiah grins and murmurs How doth the little busy bee and adds that Satan would be quite bewilder’d by the busyest of C-s, for she never has idle hands for him to find work for.
Fiddlesticks! I cry. Sure I daresay there are plenty would consider that writing horrid tales was quite entire the devil’s work; apart from a deal of other matters that I am about that I confide the Evangelickal interest would not in the least approve.
We look at one another with exceeding fond memories.