The Marquess looks out the letters he sent to his brother and shows 'em to me. Indeed, says I, these will serve exceedingly as a foundation for a fine volume upon your travels. Sure you will need extract passages, and omit allusions to your relatives and childhood friends, for tho’ I suppose your brother was most amuz’d to hear your comparison of a certain great-aunt to a llama, or rather, that the creature reminded you of her greatly, even unto the spitting habit, I apprehend that this would best not be expos’d to a general readership.
'Tis true, he says, and the aunt is yet in life, and still spits when she speaks.
Also, says I, I am most exceeding prepossesst by the little drawings you include and wonder might one by some means incorporate 'em into your narrative. Sure I think we should desire Mr MacD- to join in our convockation, for he has a deal to do with publishing matters.
Sandy is entire delight’d to be of the party, makes many usefull suggestions, discourses knowledgeably concerning the means by which illustrations may be includ’d within a book, and also remarks that there are certain episodes that constitute detacht stories that he wonders might Lord O- considering introducing to the publick in some periodical, that would rouse interest for the complet’d volume.
Why, says I, is not Mr L- always desirous of copy? Particular at this season.
Indeed, says Sandy, would serve quite admirably, his paper becomes exceeding well-thought-of both for its reporting and for its reviews and articles on matters of more general interest.
Sure, says the Marquess, do you propose this journal to me it must be quite the highest recommendation.
We both go descant upon Mr L-'s excellences as an editor and as a journalist.
Sure 'tis extreme agreeable to be here at D- Chase and see all so happy and to be among such good friends, but I am promist to go look over the matter of T- with Belinda so even tho’ I am besought to stay just a day or so longer, I must be off.
Since Docket is not with us, but enjoying the fine sanitive sea airs of Weymouth in Biddy Smith’s company, we make a somewhat long day of travel, and arrive at the inn that Belinda and I have chose for our rendezvous in the evening.
I find her already there, having bespoke their two best bedrooms and a private parlour. We embrace very warm, and she says she has told 'em to send up a little supper against my arrival.
Sure, says I, Arabella put up a fine basket for us to take along with us, but indeed a little refreshment afore I go fall into bed will be exceeding gratefull, especial is there a restorative glass of madeira to it.
As I eat – 'tis plain fare but good and fresh – Belinda discourses of how Captain P- does, how matters go with their business, the very fine colt that Cherry-ripe bore that they have most exceeding hopes of. 'Tis pleasing to hear how well matters go with 'em.
Then she looks at me and laughs and says, dearest C-, I can see your eyelids go droop, there will be time to exchange further news the morrow.
I smile and say, indeed, a day of travel is extreme exhausting even in such a fine carriage as mine with Ajax on the box, and also would not wish to keep Sophy up, is a young thing that needs her rest.
So I go to my bedchamber, and make sure that Sophy has din’d – o yes, she says, they fed us exceeding well in the kitchen, excellent hospitable – and she goes ready me for bed, and sure 'tis a very comfortable one, and I am asleep very soon. I am woke a little by the cock that goes crow upon the dawn, but soon fall back to slumber.
Sophy comes bring my chocolate and opens the shutters and says, 'tis a pretty morning, Your Ladyship: but you were sleeping so sweet and peacefull I did not like to wake you earlyer.
I rise and go look out of the window and observe Belinda that sits upon the mounting-block talking very amiable with Ajax. But I confide that Belinda is entire us’d to be up at cock-crow.
Why, says I, I entirely confide Docket would have done the like. And I daresay that what I should wear today would be some walking-dress, not too fine, but fine enough to demonstrate my consequence to this fellow that is the agent for the estate.
Sophy nods and says, there is hot water entire ready for you to wash, Your Ladyship. So I go wash, and she arrays me entire suitable for the day’s business, saying, perchance not a parasol, but a hat with a fine shady brim?
Entirely so, says I, but will not put it on just yet.
I go into the parlour, where I find Belinda sitting at table and laughing at me as a sore slugabed.
'Tis so, says I, but I hope you had an agreeable convockation with Ajax?
Indeed, says she, pouring us both coffee and taking a muffin.
Sure the eggs they serve are nigh on as good as Martha’s. But we do not linger at table but go to the premises where the agent conducts business and take him up in my carriage so that we may drive out to T-.
He is most anxious that somewhat might be done about the estate: sure there are improvements that would be most desirable, he fears the tenant-farmers may go leave is there not attention given to matters of drainage and hedging &C, and they are good solid fellows, 'twould entire repay any outlay.
Belinda sighs, and says Chancery, alas.
The agent sighs and says, 'tis a word strikes despair, and proceeds to some long account of some local fellow that took a case to Chancery that stretcht out some several generations.
As we come along the drive, that is heavily overhung by trees, he sighs and says, sure they should be cut back, his father can still recall what a fine sight us’d to be, but 'tis a very gloomy prospect now.
We go into the house that strikes extreme chill even tho’ 'tis such a warm day. All is under dust-sheets. One may see that, was it furbisht up, would be very fine, but as 'tis, is a desolate place entire fit for some Gothick novel.
The agent says that they conduct an annual inspection and undertake any necessary repairs, does the roof leak or is some window broke, and if necessary have a ratting - sure there are fellows in the locality would pay bring their terriers to a fine ratting, lay bets upon 'em &C.
Belinda, that I daresay is somewhat of a connoisseur in the matter, says that a ratting may be a fine sight, and they talk terriers for a while.
I remark that 'tis in a deal better repair than B- House in Town before we went furbish that up. But would certainly require work before 'twas fit for habitation.
We go walk out onto the terrace, that is most agreeable after how gloomy 'tis within-doors, and one may see that at one time the gardens were most exceeding fine but now are greatly overgrown, no longer a wild garden but an entire wilderness. In the distance one may perceive the tower of the fam’d folly.
We ask about the folly and the agent sighs and says, 'twas built as a mock-ruin, as was the fancy of that former generation, 'tis now quite a real ruin that one winter storm, I daresay, will entirely bring down.
No hermit? I ask.
He says that a hermit would have to be desperate indeed to live there, the wind whistles thro’ even does the place not go tumble about his ears.
He takes us about the place a little, without we are oblig’d to walk through nettle-beds &C, and there is a fine chapel that must be of considerable antiquity, to which is annex’d the family mausoleum.
O, says I, I should greatly like to go see my late husband’s tomb and lay flowers upon it.
'Tis fortunate that Belinda ever carries a neat little knife in her reticule, that is sharp enough to cut me some roses from the untend’d bushes that overgrow any beds they were previous confin’d to, and also to trim the thorns from the stems so that I may carry them without hurt.
The agent unlocks the grille, that is exceeding rusty and creaks and squeaks mightyly when 'tis open’d.
I go in, and they display excellent ton by leaving me to the matter, as I walk in and peer at the monuments to see which pertains to the dear good Marquess I marry’d.
I find it at length, and kneel down beside it to lay the flowers at its foot, and lean my head a little upon the cold stone that is engrav’d with his name and his dates of birth and death and naught else – sure I wonder, as I kneel there, whether he might have preferr’d a fine funeral pyre in the classickal fashion than to be in this dark gloomy vault so unlike his fine sunlit villa.
I daresay he would not have car’d what happen’d to his corporeal remains after death provid’d his wishes were carry’d out. Indeed, I think, he would be proud of Marcello. I am in no supposition that his spirit lingers, and yet I whisper very low how matters go.
I leave the flowers there and walk out into the sunlight, where Belinda and the agent are talking hunting very amiable together.
The agent enquires is there anything else we should desire see? Belinda and I look at one another and sigh deeply. For indeed, 'tis exceeding discouraging to see the state of the place, and consider how much needs doing, and how much worse 'tis like to get in the time it may take Chancery to come at some decision that work might be authoriz’d.
Sure, thinks I, I had quite entirely the best part of the Marquess’s legacy.