Sir C- F- and I make very fond farewells to one another, for has been a most agreeable couple of days, and then I am bound for Lord P-'s, that sure is not an immense distance away.
Sophy remarks to me, as we are sat in the carriage, sure 'twas a very pretty place, but 'twas exceeding quiet. I confide she is us’d to the bustle of Town, and indeed in great houses there is usually a deal a-doing, a lively servants’ hall &C. She adds that she took advantage of that fine herb plot to put up some lotions and washes, they were entire agreeable to her using the stillroom.
Why, says I, I shall be giving excellent good report of you to Docket. Sophy smiles and says she wonders how Docket goes on in Weymouth. I confide, says I, that she and Biddy Smith will be promenading themselves and waxing extreme critickal over the way other ladies are dresst. Sophy giggles and agrees 'tis very like.
I look at her and think how well she has come on since joining our household. Will never be tall, but has fill’d out, and altho’ her looks cannot match those of Dorcas, that are most out of the common fine, is become a pleasing creature that I daresay already finds those that aspire to a kind glance from her.
She takes out some knitting – sure she is admirable diligent.
I open my traveling desk so that I may go scribble a little upon my novel of wreckers and sea-monsters.
But 'tis not long afore we are arriv’d at Lord P-'s fine place: and this year, I apprehend, there will be no bad poet even are there still horrid swans. I am greet’d by Lady P- that expresses great delight at seeing me, I cannot comprehend why except that it be somewhat effusive civility. She goes introduce her daughter, that looks a little sullen at being oblig’d to stand about the hall in order to greet their guests when she might be in the open air among the company.
This, she says with pride, is my daughter, Lady Rosamund, that makes her debut in the coming season.
Lady Rosamund goes make me a somewhat cursory curtesy. I daresay to one of her years I appear quite entire as already one of the fusties. Lady P- gives out a little sigh, and goes on to say that of course D- is already here, and Arthur grows a fine lusty infant.
But what is this about dear Agnes? she says. Shows an entire inclination to accept this offer from some country parson, when she might do so much better.
La, says I, is’t Mr L- you mean? Has been showing most attentive to her. Is a most not’d scholar that moves in learn’d circles, and also has a deal of interest.
Lady P- concedes a little grudging that this makes some difference, but one that might do as well as Agnes S- - seems that she throws herself away.
Why, says I, perchance he may end up a bishop or gain some other fine ecclesiastical advancement (tho’ I think neither Mr L-, nor Agnes S- on his behalf, have any such ambitions). But the prospect greatly mollyfies Lady P-.
She goes on to say that poor D- has latterly been suffering a deal with his megrim: she confides in these fine country airs he will soon improve.
And how does Lady D-?
Comes about remarkable, allows Lady P-, feeds the boy herself, entirely in health (but there is somewhat a little hesitant in how she conveys this intelligence).
(Indeed I apprehend that there is some kind of trouble with Lady D-, tho sure she seems recover’d and does not show melancholick after the fashion of Susannah after Sukey’s birth.)
I proceed to my chamber, where Sophy is already about unpacking, laying out a fine muslin that I may change into, putting out a very charming hat and my parasol. Sophy, says I, as she goes about to help me out of my traveling garb, do you have any occasion to convoke with Copping, there seems somewhat of trouble concerning Lady D-, should like to know what’s ado.
Sophy says that Copping ever shows agreeable and she dares say there will be some fine tea-drinkings while we are here.
Excellent, says I, looking at myself in the mirror and finding the sight very agreeable: sure I am a vain creature. Well, I will go mingle among the other guests.
There is a deal of company – I mind me that Lord P- takes a desire to get rid of his obligations to Society in a bunch, so that he may then return to his darling cows without distraction – including Sir H- and Lady Z-, that promenade together around the lake in a fine display of conjugal amity.
Comes up to me Agnes S-, that is looking exceeding well and happy, takes my hands and squeezes 'em and says, would be extreme gratefull might we contrive to convoke - o, indeed, all goes well, but there are one or two matters –
Why, my dear, says I, I am quite upon the qui vive to know how things go with you. Think you that did we ascend to the Temple of the Winds we might contrive a little solitude?
She looks about and says, sure there are a deal of what Em calls the fusties that I doubt would be inclin’d for the walk, also 'tis nigh upon the hour for tea that I daresay they will find more pressing than the fine views one may obtain from that vantage-point.
I laugh and say, from Lady Rosamund’s expression I fear I am now among the fusties myself, but I should be delight’d to climb up there – I apprehend that is the weather sufficiently clear one may see Wales.
Agnes S- says very pretty that even was Lady B- eighty years old she would still not be a fusty; but let us essay the walk.
As we make the climb up the winding path, she says that Lord and Lady P- go warn all very serious not to try to take a boat under the bridge, for the swans have another brood of cygnets and both mother and father will show extreme ferocious towards intruders.
We laugh somewhat, and then she says, sure one never sees anything lately of Mr W- Y-, I hope he is in health?
Why, says I, I am for some reason in a supposition that he has gone abroad. Tho’ for what purpose, whether 'twas to take the waters or to fight against tyranny -
Miss S- says 'tis far more like the former.
We come to the gazebo in the form of a temple of the winds, and we look about and observe that no-one comes up the path, and we go point out distant sights to one another, and we perceive that the company that is about the lawn and the terrace moves like unto to a flock of sheep towards the drawing-room, so we feel there is little likelyhood of interruption.
Well, says I, sitting myself down upon the marble bench that runs around the interior of the temple, how go matters with you?
O! cries Agnes S-, all comes about quite exceedingly. For I writ to Mr L- concerning my authorship and had the very finest response – has a vision of the two of us sitting in an agreeable parsonage parlour, he about his studies, me about my verses, 'tis entirely a delightfull prospect, he says.
Why, says I, that is a fine thing in him.
And my guardian wrote to him saying that I was not pennyless but had a portion – tho’ he did not say how large 'twas – and Mr L- wrote back to say, he entirely suppos’d 'twould be settl’d upon me, with he dared say provision for any children.
Indeed, says I, better and better.
But - she says, wringing her hands together – I would not say there is opposition exactly, but I am like to suppose that Lady P- was in some hopes that I would marry one that would be advantageous to their family interests –
'Tis entire likely, says I (for indeed do I consider upon it they must have had some hopes in the matter).
- altho’ Lord D- is not so much put about by Mr L-'s theology and liturgickal practice as I had suppos’d he would be, but I think approves that 'tis not an entire matter of worldly advantage –
Why, says I, shows well of him.
- but, Agnes S- goes on, Dora. I cannot fathom it. Says I could make a much finer match, mentioning various fellows that I do not incline to and that do not incline to me, save for the thought of repairing their fortunes. Will say that at least 'tis not Mr O’N-, and I will not be going to Ireland, but shows very put about by the notion that I shall be quitting their household and no longer living with 'em.
Indeed 'tis curious, says I, for last year she seem’d eager to have you matcht up and marry’d, even was it not to title or antient lineage, tho’, indeed, to one that all say is like to have a fine distinguisht career –
'Twas Dora’s way, she says with a sigh, did she see a fellow but speak to me civil would be asking did I not have a notion to him. But seems entire chang’d and even as if she does not wish me marry at all.
She then sighs again and says, but – sure she will not speak plain of it, because 'tis one of the mysteries of marry’d women that she will not discourse of to me –
I snort somewhat vulgar –
- but there is something, somewhat that troubles her, that makes her nervous and unlike her wont’d self, in particular towards Lord D-, 'tis worrysome.
I take her hand and squeeze it. Perchance I may come about to find out more in the matter –
But 'tis indeed strange, Dora would ever look to me or our aunt to smooth out her way - o, she was not spoilt, or over-indulg’d, ever entire sweet-natur’d –
I say that one sees that still.
- but indeed she was very much our pet. But now – 'tis almost as if was a stranger.
My dear, says I, may be some quite foolish small matter that bothers her, do you leave it in my hands.