That e’en after dinner (sure Arabella shows exceedingly) we have a little dancing, with Miss Millick playing the piano for us, 'tis extreme agreeable and I see quite delights Hester to watch us about it.
When 'tis done, Sandy and I are besought to undertake a little reading for the company. I have been about the library to find some plays that are not Shakspeare, to supply a little variety, and give 'em Mrs Malaprop, that is lik’d exceedingly. There is a proposal that mayhap on the morrow, we might read some play, or part of one, together? 'Tis a pleasing thought.
'Tis also desir’d that Lord O- tells us more of his adventures, that mightily impress the company. (Sure the morrow I must convoke with him about this matter of writing 'em down.)
I sleep most exceeding peacefull and wake only when Sophy comes bring my chocolate.
I ask her how she does in the household, and she says, o, Your Ladyship, most excellent well, Lorimer and Brownlee show exceeding hospitable and they sit together about their sewing and talk of their profession. And there is no saucyness from the menservants.
I am pleas’d to hear it, says I. And as 'tis still quite early of the morn, I will go take a little ride afore breakfast.
'Tis most exceeding pleasant, and I return with a fine appetite.
Sebastian K- is also at table. He says, sure 'tis shocking ton to raise such a matter during this very agreeable house-party, but he apprehends that I go visit my lead-mine, and indeed, they, that is, he and his father, would be most interest’d in establishing a business connexion in the matter, so would desire to be beforehand.
Why, says I, those matters are in the hands of the manager, an excellent fellow, one Mr M-, but do you say a little more to me concerning the business, I will open it to him during my visit there. Do you wait but a little while while I go change, and get my little memorandum book, and we may discourse a little on the matter.
So we do so, walking up and down and around the rose-garden, and proceed from a discussion of that very usefull mineral lead to how matters go with the polish factory, and about Euphemia and Seraphine’s preserves and pickles, and how exceeding prepossessing Herr P- comes on in the matter of business in Germany. 'Tis gratifying.
He then says, sure he would greatly enjoy further converse, but has been promis’d a lesson in archery that he should not wish to miss. Seems quite the crack at present.
Indeed, says I, was very popular at the Q- house-party, and Lady Emily is quite entire Maid Marian.
He goes off to where the butt has been set up.
I see that Hester has been wheel’d out in her chair to sit beside the fountain – 'tis clear she relishes this most extreme, and would sit out in the sunlight all day.
I walk over to her. She looks at my pretty muslin and sighs a little and says, you are always so well-dresst, dear C-, but sure must be exceeding dull for Brownlee to have to deal with my dull wardrobe.
Why, my dear Hester, there is no need at all for your wardrobe to be dull, just because you do not go about in Society. Sure does it not greatly elevate the spirits to be pleasingly dresst?
O, she cries, clasping her hands, do you think I might? Is’t possible?
I consider over this for a little. I daresay that one might contrive – a fine dressmaker might I confide come visit rather than you go to her – you are able stand a little, are you not? – she nods – so you might be measur’d and fitt’d at your convenience. Indeed I cannot see why should not answer. I will go about to desire Docket to advance your interest with Mamzelle Bridgette.
I perch upon the rim of the fountain and look at her. One may still see that at one time she must have been exceeding handsome. Sure, says I, perchance you might also have your hair dresst differently? And while I daresay you should not wish to paint, there are very fine washes and lotions for the complexion.
She sighs and says, for so many years has been her only aspiration to be clean and tidy, sure she never thought to primp. But, she says with determination, so be 'tis not vanity, she will be about it.
But, she goes on, now I am quite embarkt upon a course of self-indulgence, I will open to you another matter.
Why, says I, say on.
'Tis Milly, she says – Miss Millick, that has been governess here these many years, but that will be out of that place once Lou leaves the schoolroom. And 'tis not as tho’ we yet have a new generation ready to take up the horn-book &C. And, she continues a little sadly, I am like to suppose that Tony and Nan might desire a somewhat younger person that has more understanding of the modern ways. Now, my dear C-, I was in some notion to ask you was there any in your circles that might require a governess, but indeed, poor Milly’s age is against her and these days it seems more is expect’d. And indeed one hears that the lot of a governess may be very harsh -
Indeed, 'tis so, says I, thinking of that horrid D- family in which Ellie N- was employ’d.
- and already since Nan and Em have gone into Society, she has been acting somewhat as a companion to me, to fetch and carry, read to me am I too tir’d to read to myself, play a little musick, and such. Would it be exceeding selfish in me to desire her to remain in that capacity?
La, says I, did you desire a companion I am sure Lord U- would consider it entire proper, but might suppose you would desire some younger brisker woman –
O, she cries, I am us’d to Milly, and sure I should be distresst to cast her upon the world.
Why, says I, seems entire answerable.
Comes Arabella across the lawn with a tray, and Selina at her heels, saying she doubts not that Lady N- would like a little sustenance at about this time.
Oh, she says, that is so kind. And I hope that naughty puss has not been troubling you.
Indeed not, says Arabella, bending down to stroke Selina’s head. What a fine cat she is to be sure. She and Lady N- smile at one another. She then turns to me and says, there is a collation laid in the drawing-room does Lady B- wish to partake.
Indeed, says I, this very fine air gives one a great appetite, so may I leave you to Selina’s company, my dear?
Hester smiles and says, she doubts not that Selina makes up to her for titbits and not for the pleasure of her company, the naughty creature, but indeed, do you, Lady B-, go partake.
I walk back towards the house with Arabella, that desires me to advance to Lord O- the desirability of certain improvements in the kitchens at D- Chase, for they are by no means as up to the mark as the ones at O- House.
Indeed I shall, says I, and upon going into the house make a little note in my memorandum book.
I find Lord O- in the drawing-room, that says, the archers have carry’d away a pique-nique to sit about and imitate the Merry Men in Sherwood Forest, but he is come to such an age and has spent so much time of necessity eating in such circumstance, that he prefers to sit in a chair, at a table.
I open to him Arabella’s thoughts upon kitchens - tho’ says I, I confide one might not be about improvements while you have company in the house.
Also, seeing that we are alone, I mention the Earl of I-, that was formerly Lord J-, and enquire whether he had any acquaintance with him. He shakes his head, but says he dares says there are some dubious dealings behind and there are fellows he might go sound out to discover more.
After a pause, he says, are you at leisure, Lady B-, perchance we might convoke over this matter of my writings?
Indeed, says I, 'tis an excellent time to do so.
So we go to the very agreeable room in the turret that he has set aside and furnisht as a study, that I exclaim upon considerable – has fine views and one may indeed see the archers. He hands me over some several pages and says, he can see himself that 'tis sad dry stuff, lacks that vigour that he has enjoy’d in the works of a certain Incognita Lady –
O, poo, says I, does one deal of curses and hauntings and horrid experiments the reader will read on very absorb’d.
But I con over his pages and indeed they lack that spark that animates the account when he tells it. I frown a little over the matter and sure I see points where I might present the thing more telling, just as I may when I scrutinize Josiah’s speeches for Parliament.
I then go ponder a little and say, sure I might come about to work this up, but I wonder, has he thought about who he goes address the narrative to? Did he perchance have some general reader in mind, and sit down to write as if conveying the matter in a letter, rather than as a scientifick report, just as when he tells his tales to the company he shapes 'em to their apprehension, might well answer.
Why, he says, indeed I think you hit it off, Lady B-. Sure there are already letters I writ to my poor brother, for altho’ was such a sickly fellow, greatly relisht the tales of my adventures. I had not thought of that, but indeed, do I go look 'em over – for he preserv’d 'em very carefull, the dear fellow. He sighs somewhat.
He then says, sure that is an excellent fine thought, and goes on, but indeed, should still be very gratefull might you look over my manuscript once 'tis more advanc’d, to see whether I have got the knack of the matter.
Gladly, says I.
He then makes a very generous offer of a donation to one or other of my good causes, that I am very pleas’d to accept.