So 'tis that the following morn, I go call at O- House and desire to speak to Mrs Atkins.
I find, when I am admitt’d to the housekeeper's room, that Arabella, that has gone to D- Chase to oversee the kitchens there while the Marquess is in residence, has already writ to her to desire to get in hand certain matters of kitchen supplies against His Lordship’s return and thus she already has the business of ensuring that the house is quite entire ready well under hand.
However, she has a few questions that she is eager address to me about Her Ladyship’s quarters, and where they should put her maid. We therefore go and consider over which is the finest bedchamber that also has an antechamber best suit’d to serve as a dressing-room.
Once these decisions have been made, I go write a little note to Hector, desiring him to send shortly to O- House the carpenters that at present fit out my library, in order that they may put in the necessary presses, dressing-table, &C that the dressing-room will require, noting that also a pier-glass will be requir’d; and dispatch it by one of the O- House footmen.
After all this matter has been conclud’d, I ask her whether she would be so kind as to permit me to copy out some passages from her husband’s letter concerning the work of the T-s in New South Wales, so that I might include it in a pamphlet, and also, does she have no objections, might read 'em out at the drawing-room meeting I hold in aid of their work.
O, she says, somewhat tearfull, she is sure that he would be entire delight’d to be of such assistance in their fine work. So I sit down and copy out some fine extracts praising the T-s and the very salutary effect their endeavours have upon those that were in entire despair at having been transport’d to the distant ends of the earth.
We then have a very amiable tea-drinking and I say that I am in hopes of finding a woman of considerable experience to prefer to the place of lady’s maid, that might, do I find that the one I have in sight answers, most usefull come into residence shortly and advize upon the matters of the dressing-room &C.
She says that she apprehends that Her Ladyship is quite a young lady? Indeed, says I, and I confide has not had a deal of housekeeping experience, but I am sure that you will be able to provide any help she requires while she is learning the ropes. A fine young woman with an excellent heart.
We part with excellent good feeling on both sides, and I return to R- House, where I partake of a fine nuncheon with my dearest Eliza, Agnes S-, the dear girls and Miss N.
As the lady whose interest has been advanc’d to me by Mrs P- and Miss W- for the post of Lady O-'s maid lodges in that suburban part wherein Mr L- edits his newspaper, we take advantage of my going there with Docket to convoke with her to take with us Miss N-, Bess and Meg and Miss S-, to undertake a most exceeding educational excursion to his press.
'Tis an exceeding pretty place and one cannot wonder that there are those would prefer reside there out of the smoke of Town when 'tis so convenient close. We leave Miss N- and her party at the printing-works, saying we will call back later, and go on to where Mrs Lorimer lodges.
She admits us to her rooms, that, tho’ small, are clean and tidy, and we observe her to be a woman of a little under Docket’s own years. She appears a little over-aw’d, tho’ I know not whether this be because of my rank, or because of Docket, that is so fam’d in her profession.
She offers us tea, and we go sit and converse.
She was marry’d to a fellow that was doing exceeding well in the haberdashery line, kept a shop that is now under the hand of their son. At the mention of her son she goes sigh, and say, has marry’d a young lady that is entire business-like and a good housekeeper, but she and I cannot be in the same house without we jar upon one another. And my daughters are good dutyfull girls but they are in service, do not yet have their own households in which I might reside.
And sure, she goes on, I am none so old that I desire to do naught but eat the bread of idleness, even might I afford to do so, would wish to have occupation. Tho’ sure 'tis some while since I was in service myself, I go keep up with the modes by consulting La Belle Assemblée &C at the circulating library. And there is a lady writes pieces in the local paper, under the style of Sheba, that give one a very fine notion of what is in style, even does she write for the wives of the fellows that live in this place, that will not have more than mayhap one new gown in a season, and must go make over and refurbish &C.
Docket and I look at one another with private smiles.
Docket goes interrogate her on some several matters to do with their mysteries. She then gives a little nod, and says, 'tis well. Sure you might go lesson yourself a little with M. Lavalle, the hairdresser – sure he is no more French than I am, but has the matter in him – and Her Ladyship the Marchioness of O- already has the entrée at Mamzelle Bridgette’s. She turns to me and says that My Ladyship has been well-adviz’d and that Lorimer should do very excellent.
Does she, she goes on, come bring her boxes with her to O- House, 'twould be entire her own pleasure to take her around and make introductions.
Mrs Lorimer looks a little daunt’d by this sudden advancement, but nods and says that she is most entire oblig’d for this preference.
Once we are back in the carriage Docket says one may see that there is a woman has the matter in her even has she been shop-keeping these some several years. Will take her call upon Biddy and all the milliners, shoemakers, perfumers &C she will have to have dealings with, and hold a fine tea-drinking with Phillips and Williams and Bellamy &C, before all go out of Town for the summer.
'Tis very good of you, says I.
She gives a small smile and says, why, one that is so prepossesst by Tibby’s writings, one must like her judgement.
I look at her very fond.
When we come to the printing works the visiting party has not yet emerg’d; I get down and go inside to see what goes forth, which is that Mr L- has gone print up a page that purports to be from the paper that reports upon this visit, 'tis very charming in him, and now hands them out to his visitors. He looks exceeding fond at Miss N- and sure I confide that did he think he might offer her a secure living he would take her to church the morrow.
He comes over to me and says, please to excuse the inkyness of his hands, but 'tis a pleasure to see me. And do I go on any travels lately?
Only into the country about house-parties, says I, and to go see about matters upon my Shropshire estate.
He sighs a little, for I confide he is still in hopes of publishing further matter by A Lady of Rank, not knowing that he has lately publisht a very horrid tale about carnivorous flowers by the same hand.
Comes up Bess and says, did I know that they use lead to make the letters for printing? – she turns to Mr L- and says Aunty, that is, I mean Lady B-, has a lead-mine on her estate.
Indeed, says I, I had some such notion that ‘twas employ’d in this trade. 'Tis an entire usefull metal tho’ 'tis not count’d precious.
Indeed, says Miss N coming up to us, there is a fine speech in Shakspeare that we have heard Lady B- read. But tho’ this has been entire pleasant, and extreme instructive for the girls, I confide we should be about our return now?
I consult my pretty little watch – 'twas a gift long since from Sir C- F- at the conclusion of our Brighton summer - and say, indeed should we so.
So we take very civil farewells of Mr L-, and are driven back to R- House.
When I go in to the family room I find my darling looking somewhat askance at a deal of parcels pil’d up upon the floor. Hector, she says, came over with these that have been sent for Lady B-.
I frown at ‘em and say, sure I cannot think of any matter I sent for that is not somewhat that might just as well stay at my house until I return.
My darling rings for tea and I go about undoing string and unwrapping paper, with Mittens' kind assistance in the matter, and discovering what has been sent.
O, says I at length, I apprehend that the intelligence goes about that Lady B- is extending her premises and in particular having a dining-room put in, and there are a deal of tradesmen go consider that sure she will be requiring dinner-sets and silver-plate and her taste is give out most exceeding nice and 'twould give 'em a deal of comsequence was they known to have supply’d my wants in the matter. So they go about to send me samples of their work, and the catalogues of their wares, &C, in hopes of obtaining my interest.
Very civil letters to these gifts, I add, inviting me to call at their showrooms at my pleasure.
My darling goes pick up Mittens, that has been about ensuring that the wrapping paper does not go rise up and attack us, and chasing the naughty string that endeavours escape, &C, and laughs and says, sure our dearest is quite a paragon of good taste.
O, says I, looking at her very fond, indeed I am, Mrs F-.