Belinda and I take very affectionate leave of one another, and look forward to our next rencontre when I come to Northamptonshire. I desire her to convey my best regards to Captain P-, and also to go give my sweet Jezebel a pat upon the nose and an apple from me – for my lovely Jezzie-girl goes rusticate for the summer, kicking up her heels a little.
I let it be suppos’d that I proceed onwards to Lord P-'s house-party, but I have an intention to make a little visit somewhat discreet before I arrive there, for sure Sir C- F-'s fine property is entirely upon my way to Shropshire, and I go pass a night or so there.
'Tis no grand mansion, but an entire pleasing manor house in a quaint antique style – sure his family have been squires there these many generations.
He comes out to greet me and make a leg, says How now, very civil to Ajax and hopes they may have some discourse of horseflesh, and tells me that his housekeeper will show me to my chamber.
The bed is also in quaint antique style, but there is fine fresh clean lavender-scent’d linen upon it, and, I confide, a mattress that is not of the same antiquity as the bedstead.
Sophy goes look out of the window and remarks upon the very pretty view. Altho, she goes on, there are a deal of red cows.
Indeed, says I, I apprehend that Sir C- F-'s cattle are very well spoke of.
Hot water has been provid’d and I wash off the dust of travel and Sophy arrays me in a simple muslin and sets a cap upon my head. I go downstairs to the parlour.
Sir C- F- says he dares say I should like some tea?
La, says I, did you not promise me fine cider of your own making? Sure if I may I will take a glass.
A maid comes with two mugs of cider and we sit and drink – sure 'tis excellent fine stuff but I confide 'tis deceptively strong and I should not take a second.
We look at one another with antient affection, and I say, I daresay he would desire news of how Lady N- does.
He sighs somewhat, and says, sure I see into his heart.
'Tis excellent fine news, says I, makes an entire difference now she has an invalid carriage and may get about thus, the Marquess has been about alterations at O- House so that she may contrive to move about it with ease, shows most exceptional welcoming to her. Now they are at D- Chase she will spend hours together in the gardens, watching the children at their pastimes. Her spirits are quite vastly improv’d.
He smiles and says, 'tis quite excellent news, but he confides that one cannot hope for miracles and she will ever have to lead an invalid life.
I agree that 'tis so.
He gives a little groan and says that he is in the strongest suspicion that had matters been attend’d to a deal earlyer she would be a deal less crippl’d, but the Earl –
I daresay, says I. Mr H-, that is quite one of the finest surgeons in Town and a very not’d anatomist, will say that altho’ rest is an entire necessity of the process of healing, will come a time when one goes recover from the initial injury that 'tis desirable to undertake exercize for the good of the muscles and to be encourag’d to make an effort, but of course under the care of one that has professional understandings in the matter.
Lord, he says, H- is still about and not fled the country for fear of arrest over matters of body-snatching?
I say that 'twas fear’d might come to that last year when there was a great to-do over resurrection men, but in the event he was not among those nam’d in the business, altho’ there were whispers.
Once invit’d me to observe a dissection, says Sir C- F-. Sure I was oblig’d to run out mid-way for fear of puking. But I daresay 'tis grown quite the habit with him.
Sure he will say that there is none becomes a surgeon without they go spew once whilst observing an operation, but indeed, becomes a habit to 'em and they will approach the task with entire equanimity.
I return to our former subject and say 'tis quite the prettyest thing to observe the care Lord U- has for his mother. Indeed he is an excellent young man that is widely not’d for his good qualities.
Sir C- F- smiles and says, indeed he is a good boy, and runs entire contrary to his sire’s nature.
La, says I, not entire contrary, for would not that impute wild extravagance?
Sir C- F- confides that 'tis so, and adds that he supposes that they cannot yet have heard aught from the Earl – will not even be in sight of the Americk shore yet.
Supposing, says I, that he would be at the expense of the carriage of a letter!
Sir C- F- laughs and then says, sure that penny-pinching habit of his is no laughing matter. But, dear C- - I beg your pardon, Lady B- - I laugh and say, sure we are old friends and are not in fine society, I hope he will take the liberty to call me as he was us’d during that fine summer in Brighton.
C-, then – now you have refresht yourself you might care to step out a little and see the place?
'Twould be entire delightfull, says I, ever provid’d I do not have to go very close to any cows.
Why, my cattle are the gentlest creatures – 'tis a breed entire not’d for the amiability of its nature – but indeed I would not force you to confront a cow.
I am a sad timid creature, says I.
I go fetch my parasol, and we walk out of the house, thro’ a fine cottage garden of flowers and herbs just outside the door. Alas, he says, that I have misst the very fine sight of the orchards in blossoming-time: but he is like to suppose that come the autumn, there will be an excellent crop - tho’ sure one is ever at the mercy of accidents of weather.
Indeed there are a deal of fruit-trees, apples and pears – besides the cider, he remarks, he makes a very good perry, that we might have with dinner – and one may quite imagine how very beautifull they must be when they are in bloom. He goes talk a deal of the different kinds of apple, and various grafting experiments he makes.
We do pass by several fields of his fine red white-fac’d cattle, but there are stout fences, and sure they present exceeding placid.
These fellows, he says, are fine beef cattle, and you will be tasting how very good beef they come to at dinner. Has a few dairy cows for milk and butter but does not make any business of it. He discourses of matters of breeding, and feeding, and the great improvements there have been of recent generations.
He looks about him and breathes in the fine air, and says, sure he regrets he does not have a son to leave this to, when his family have been here so long. But – Oh, says he, he knows that there are plenty of fellows go marry even if 'tis not to their first choice; but has always felt as if he stood ready to come did she call: 'tis somewhat that would be hard for a wife to understand, 'tis not even as tho’ it could be the common matter 'twixt man and woman –
I take his hand and squeeze it and say that his feelings do him entire credit (sure indeed I feel somewhat tearfull, for 'tis a very beautifull thing), and indeed, she is a very fine woman. One may observe the affection in which her offspring hold her.
Exactly so, says he. He was in some mind to leave the place to Charles, but then he minds that he will fall heir to the very pleasing N- properties, and mayhap should leave it to one of his brothers, that will otherwise have only a younger son’s portion.
An excellent fine thought, says I. I apprehend that Mr Geoffrey M- has some mind to going into law, but I do not know what ambitions Mr Edward M- might have –
Sure, says Sir C- F-, has not show’d any inclination to the Army or the Church – but there is no exceeding hurry, I may sound the matter out further when Charles and his mother come visit.
We turn back towards the house, and he remarks that he keeps country hours and we shall be dining very shortly.
'Tis a most excellent fine dinner that is serv’d up to us, and sure the beef is quite the nonpareil of its kind, and the perry is most delicious, but, like the cider, I suspect somewhat deceptive, so I take it with caution.
Our conversation turns to chearfull reminiscence of our summer in Brighton, that was indeed a most agreeable interlude – I had been feeling a little desolate on account of dear Captain K-, as he then was, being post’d to the China Seas, but indeed my spirits were entirely benefitt’d by the sanitive airs, the many entertainments and amenities of the town, and Sir C- F-'s company.
And indeed, 'twixt these happy memories, and the effect of the perry in livening the blood, we find ourselves looking upon one another as we did in those happy days, when we would be at a ball, or a card-party, and our eyes would meet, and we would take our leave of the company, and return to our very pleasing apartments and go romp with great ardour.
Indeed, says Sir C- F- with a little embarrassment, I did not invite you with any intentions, but sure you are still a lady of most exceeding attractions.
I smile upon him - for indeed, 'tis some while since I have pay’d my dues to Aphrodite, and 'tis yet a tiresome while until I shall be with my darlings – and say that he is still a most appealing fellow.
And so matters are once more between us as they were that happy summer.