O, 'tis quite entirely the most agreeable of things to come at last to my darlings and to see the family all drawn up before the door to greet me, quite brings tears to my eyes. Indeed I am in some fear they will fall when my precious Flora comes up to me with a bunch of flowers and a kiss, for I am ever in fears she will go show coquettish and distant.
Josh comes hug me as he is ever wont, the dear creature, and the girls come also and embrace me very hearty.
I go kiss my best of wild girls Eliza very formal and proper upon the cheek, shake hands with Josiah and with Harry, that is now become quite a young man - his voice no longer goes to cracks and squeaks and I discern that by now he may need shave at least once of a se’ennight. Quintus also desires shake hands instead of being kisst like a girl or a baby, at which I sigh a little.
I also go shake hands with Miss N-, that is looking very well.
We go in to the fine parlour and there comes tea, and we talk of what we have been about these weeks and the visits we have made, and the friends we have seen &C&C. And my little jewel comes sit upon my knee and desires be wombatts that rub their noses together to demonstrate amity. Sure she grows a fine girl.
'Tis quite entire the finest thing.
And in due course Eliza says she confides that Aunty C- would desire go wash away the dust of travel and change and dares say Sophy has already got her trunks unpackt.
I daresay, says I, for she is a good diligent creature.
So I go to my fine reserv’d chamber with its exceeding large bed, and while I am washing comes in my belov’d wild girl and we embrace very warm.
Oh, my darling, says she, as she rests her head upon my shoulder, we have misst the lovelyest of C-s so very much. 'Tis so hard that we must be apart, and we must go about and hear people that know you not talk of Lady B-, and even when 'tis praise, rather than some ignorant gossip, somehow 'tis as if they talk of a stranger.
I kiss her hair and stroke her and wish I might show to her how much I too have misst my darlings, but 'tis not the time.
She straightens up and pats her hair and says, sure 'tis foolish in her. But she fears that one day they will be in company and one will say that Lady B- goes marry such and such a one, the lucky fellow –
Here indeed is a foolish wild girl, says I. Do you ever hear such an on-dit you may know that whoever 'tis recounts it knows naught of the matter.
O, sure, do I be reasonable I know that did our dearest go marry, we should be the first to hear, and there would be some very excellent reason why she did it, and –
Indeed there is naught I may do but kiss her very warm and assure her that my darlings are ever first in my heart, and that sure there is a deal of difference 'twixt occasional granting some pleasing fellow my favours are my dear ones not by me, and going marry.
And there is no young woman that is quite entire in love with Lady B- that tempts you?
Indeed not! I cry.
She sighs and says she knows not why that thought should fret her so.
(Indeed neither do I.)
We tidy ourselves a little before we rejoin the company.
She adds that there has been sent on for me by Hector some letters that he thought I should desire see – the note said he had kept back a deal, but was in supposition that I would greatly desire those from friends and those in whom I take a particular interest, and would rather have 'em now than when I eventual return to Town.
O. says I, 'tis most extreme thoughtfull in him. For I quite starve for news of friends, tho’ the orphanage ladies &C may go whistle.
So I go to where she has the packet in her desk in her family room, and glance at 'em quickly before we go dine, and there is one from the antipodes that I must quite immediate at least skim thro’ to see is all well – or was, when dear Abby writ it – and o, I cry, has another little girl, that they call after her, is that not charming? –
But the others I daresay may wait upon the morn, for at that moment comes Patty to say that Miss Flora goes beg for her sleepy wombatt.
So I go to my little darling, that rather than go be sleepy desires convey to me a deal of news and chatters exceedingly upon many matters. But at length we lye down as sleepy wombatts are wont, and kiss and snuggle and I see her eyes close and she sleeps. O, she is indeed the most precious of my jewels.
And then I go join the family for dinner, and hear that Mr D- and Miss A- are now marry’d, and he has been persuad’d to take her upon a wedding-journey, and meanwhile they go furbish up a house where the couple may reside, for his former lodgings are by no means suit’d to wedd’d life.
Without I appear to scrutinize her, I look towards Bess, that seems entire unconcern’d at this matter and is about telling Harry about her visit to D- Chase. I hope she may be past her girlish liking for Mr D-.
Josh, says Josiah with somewhat of a frown, have you brought that mongoose to table again?
No, says Josh, all injur’d innocence, I left him in my bedchamber –
- but, he goes on, I am like to think he has come to contrive to open the door and escape and has come seek me.
Well, says Josiah, that cannot maintain his look of severity very long, sure we owe the mongoose a very great deal – he looks sideways towards me – and therefore I will not say must go out into the shed with the rest of the menagerie or be lockt in a cage, but indeed, should not come to the dinner table.
Perchance, says Harry, Josh should go have his dinner in the menagerie?
Eliza sighs and says, sure she dares say Josh would quite delight to do so: but she confides that he would be about feeding his own supper to the wombatt or the badger; and besides, this having dinner together is intend’d to inculcate civility of manners and good behaviour, so that you will not be suppos’d savages when you go into company.
Bess suddenly gives a great snort and starts to giggle and says, was you not there, Aunty C-, when Mr Geoffrey M- and Lady Emily commenc’d upon throwing bread-rolls at one another?
La, says I, I was not.
Bess then says, o, no, you were not, 'twas when we pique-niqu’d while practising archery.
I sigh and say that indeed the manners of the aristocracy may show exceeding liberal when they are amongst themselves but one should not take that as a model.
After dinner in the parlour Meg goes play us some pieces she has lately learnt upon the piano.
And then at last I am to bed, and my very best belov’d darlings come to me there, and sure 'tis an immense long time, or seems so, since last we were in triangle, but sure we have not forgot the way of matters and 'tis all most exceeding agreeable.
When our first hungers are sated we lye entwin’d together exchanging little kisses and fond endearments and little matters of gossip, and then I mind me of a matter and say to Eliza, sure, my dearest, did you not go prepare Lady D- for what she might anticipate in childbirth?
Why, says she, I did so, for they were brought up, as I apprehend, by a spinster aunt, that was oblig’d to prevail upon some marry’d friend of her own to undertake that business preliminary to marriage that should be a mother’s duty. So really, she had very little apprehension of what might come forth: tho’ Lady P- is such a one for talking of ordeals and horrors, 'tis no sound preparation I confide.
But you led her to apprehend, did you not, I continue, that there may be pain, and that may continue some considerable while, &C? For sure Lady D- seems to me to be behaving like unto some lady that had no expectation at all of what the matter would be like, and was entire shockt.
Why, I convey’d the matter to her in such detail that I fear Lord D- would have been mightyly shockt, but indeed, one has heard that there are carefully brought up young women that have no comprehension of how the babe goes emerge. And what is the usual way of things and what is not, minding on what you told me about poor Martha S-.
Indeed, says I, I could think of none better to instruct her unless 'twas Mrs Black. So I am in somewhat of a puzzle over her state of mind. I sigh.
My darlings put their arms about me and say, 'tis quite the prettyest thing the concern the lovelyest of C-s has over troubles among her acquaintance, but they should desire that she would give a little attention to those that are crept into her bed with designs upon her virtue.
La, says I, sure I do not think I have any virtue left about me, for there was a wild girl did this unto me, and a Grand Turk that did that, and sure I am entire fallen by now. But indeed, since I discover that the heyday in their blood is by no means yet tame, I will be about falling a little further.