So, having dispatcht this matter into the hands of one that I confide will be better able to bring the Earl around to see that 'twould be the wisest thing for him to quit these shores – why, are there not flowers and plants in all quarters of the globe, save, I suppose, the Polar regions; for I have heard that even in deserts, is there even a little rain there will be a sudden blossoming - and make over the management of his estates to that excellent young man, Lord U-, that I confide would have the fine advice of his godfather Sir C- F-, and would not be one of these reckless fellows that supposes he understands the entire matter already, but would go seek counsel of his elders, &C –
Having, I say, put this matter in hand, I go call at O- House to see how Lady N- does.
I find her in a fine parlour with all her children save Lord U- about her, all in quite the highest of spirits.
O, dear Lady B-, she cries, sitting up and holding out her hands, you find us in the most agreeable exile here.
Lady O- smiles and says to me that sure, the household took the matter very calm, had bedchambers prepar’d &C as if 'twas quite an everyday matter, Mrs Atkins is a pearl of great price.
I smile upon her and the rest of 'em and say, I am glad to see 'em in such spirits.
Why, says the Honble Edward, one is always being exhort’d to show filial reverence &C towards fathers, but when it comes to a father that goes around thieving and the matter coming into low rags of scandal sheets, well, one must think of one’s own good name and the situation of one’s sisters and consider that 'tis a business might go stain us all.
And such pointless thievery too, cries the Honble Geoffrey, for what would he do with a venomous snake? The matter of cuttings and seeds one might comprehend, tho’ 'twas in shocking poor ton.
I say that I apprehend that snakes may have very handsome skins, indeed, lately at Lord R-'s tiffin-party I heard Major S- expatiate upon the subject, saying that tho’ there are many will admire tigers for the elegance of their pelt, tho’ they are quite entire as dangerous as any snake, will not appreciate reptile beauty.
But a live snake with fangs and venom? cries Lady Emily.
'Tis indeed curious, says I, but 'tis give out that 'tis a known eccentricity, that there are those will steal items that they do not need and could well afford, indeed sometimes entire trash.
Lady O- stands up and says, she dares say Mama would like to talk to Lady B- in a little privacy, and sure that is a fine billiard table has lately been set up, and there can be no objection to ladies playing at home with their brothers, so come along and let us have a match.
They leave with very civil remarks.
Dear Lady N-, says I, when they have gone, are you quite sure you feel well enough for company?
O, Lady B-, I do not count you as company, for you are an entire refreshment to my spirits. And, indeed, I hear from my dear Nan that she has begg’d you to call her by her name when you are not in formal company, and should greatly desire that you would call me Hester.
Why, says I, gladly, and you must call me C-.
Such a pretty name, she says.
And, by the way, says I, Mrs F- extends an invitation for Lady Louisa to come spend a few days at R- House with Bess.
O, so very kind, I am sure my little Lou will be quite wild to go. For altho’ 'tis so exceeding agreeable to be out of the gloomy surroundings of N- House – she looks about the very pretty parlour with great appreciation – there is a deal of heavy matter upon hand. For altho’ U- shows a very proper discretion over what he communicates to the other children, he felt it only right to disclose the whole to me, so that I would appreciate the entire propriety of this move.
She frowns and says, a snake, introduc’d to R- House, where I hear one sees the very pretty sight of several infants disporting in the gardens, why, what can he have been thinking?
I sigh and say, that Lady B- is a meddlesome trollop, I daresay. And sure I am quite as curious as our foremother Eve: do I see a fellow I recognize going about in disguise in some part of Town he would not usual frequent, I will go wonder about it.
And this poor creature in Covent Garden! Is there aught one might do?
Why, says I, 'tis give out – as you may know, my housekeeper Dorcas is a woman of most exemplary piety and goes hold Bible-readings and prayer-meetings at an entire respectable coffee-house in those parts, and brings me intelligence of what goes forth – that Mrs Binns is in the way to establish a very promising connexion in the matter of hat-trimming. Perchance, now 'tis seen that she has the matter in her, a little shop might answer.
'Tis no more than he should have done, says she, did he wish terminate their association after so many years without making some settlement. Sure I would not have grudg’d him consolation, when I am unable to be a full wife, but there are proper ways of going about the business.
Of a sudden there is some banging as of carpentry work taking place and I look up startl’d.
O, cries Hester, the Marquess is quite the finest of fellows. He goes to have slopes put in about the house so that I may go about in my invalid chair and not be confin’d to a single room or needing to be carry’d.
That is most exceeding thoughtfull, says I.
He says he saw the like when he was in Brazil - o, 'tis a very fine thing to hear him discourse of his travels, tho’ he will be so modest over 'em – where there was a senora in like case to myself, and her husband had fitt’d out their place thus.
One wishes he would write up his travels, says I, for I confide there would be a deal of interest.
Indeed, she says, I see my boys quite rapt at the accounts he gives.
The door opens and comes in Lord U-. He comes over to kiss his mama and make me a leg.
La, says I, I daresay you have private family matter to discuss, I will be away.
Indeed not, he says, I cannot think of any that has better right to be privy to these matters than you, Lady B-. I confide 'tis entirely due to your note that His Grace made time to convoke with O- and myself today. What an excellent fellow he is – I have ever found him a most amiable fellow in company, but such grasp of matters, such apprehension, I have every confidence that might anyone bring Papa to see the reasonable course, he could.
Did he not us’d to be that very wild young fellow Lord S-? asks Hester.
Sure, says I, was deep in follies in his extreme youth, but pull’d round most remarkable.
Why, Mama, exclaims Lord U-, you know what an excellent lady is Her Grace of M-, and sure he is quite entire devot’d to her, and to their offspring.
Of course, she says. I have been so out of Society. She sighs. But then rallies, and says, do you go fetch Lou so that I may convey to her this kind invitation to go visit at R- House –
An excellent thing! cries Lord U-, I shall go at once.
So shortly afterwards comes Lady Louisa, quite in ecstasy at the thought of going visit Bess, and Lady N- goes ring for Brownlee, so that she may make up a valise and a trunk may be sent the morn. Lady Louisa goes with her, I daresay to make sure that the dresses she desires are sent for her.
I begin to suggest that 'tis entire time I was on my way, must be greatly tiring for dear Hester when she has but lately seen such changes, when comes in Nan with Selina in her arms, saying, this naughty puss jumpt up upon the billiard table as if she desir’d play, and sure one fears for the baize from her claws.
Hester takes her and says, alas, C- is just leaving, mayhap you might show her to the door?
I am pleas’d at this for I had a word or two I wisht to say to Nan.
O, she cries, I have not seen dear Mama so happy this age! And Tony says she may live with us as long as she likes, and we will make the journey to D- Chase very gentle in well-sprung carriages –
'Tis exceeding good in him, says I. But, my dear Nan, 'twould be advizable did you go about leaving cards and making calls – I see her expression and go on, sure 'tis exceeding tiresome, but 'twill do you and your family a deal of good in Society –
O! she exclaims with a little laugh, is this about les convenances?
Precisely so, says I. 'Tis to show you do not hang your head and that you observe these proper usages. And sure you need not undertake it alone, I am sure Her Grace would be entire delight’d did you accompany her, and you may gossip upon the fusties together afterwards. And, I continue, I will go put it about that you and your mama will be receiving callers here, and see can I get Lady T- to come call, for that would do a deal to establish your position.
Lady T-? That looks so fierce? Oh, I should be quite terror-struck!
'Twill do you a deal of good, however, says I. Alas that Lady J- is bound for the Mediterranean.
Runs up Lady Louisa, follow’d by a footman with her valise, entire ready to depart.