Sure 'tis a sad troubling thing that the toy theatre seems entire neglect’d and gathering dust, and we are in no prospect of a performance for the family, while I am not besought for my advice upon this or that matter of the stage. But Bess and Meg are considerable at outs over this or that matter and I daresay mounting a production would only lead to brangling and end with both in tears.
I ask Eliza is there any particular matter causes this unwont’d breach and she sighs and says no, 'tis, she confides, that they are both come to that troublesome time 'twixt girl and woman, and while she dares say 'tis to be preferr’d to falling into green-sickness 'tis exceeding trying and upsets the entire household.
I say that sure Bess show’d most extreme well-conduct’d when she was at D- Chase – o, there was a deal of girlish shrieking and giggling and boisterousness but entire good-humour’d, and show’d very pretty-behav’d to Lady N-.
Eliza sighs and says she doubts not that Bess misses the company of her friends and that makes her a little melancholy; but she goes write to 'em at great length. But Meg – 'tis very naughty in her, and I think comes of some jealousy - will go say that Bess has been spoilt by going into fine company and aristocratick house parties -
I laugh and say, 'twas all most informal at D- Chase and all were told 'twas entire Liberty Hall - O, says I as a thought strikes me, I suppose 'tis not that Bess goes take a secret liking to one or other of the M- boys? 'Tis a great cause of volatility in young women.
Why, did she so I doubt she would go tell her mama. But you, dearest of C-s, might come to have her confide in you, and I daresay you could soothe her troubl’d heart was’t so.
(Indeed I hope 'tis merely one of the Earl’s sons that she goes fancy herself in love with, and not that she is one more victim of a hopeless longing for il bello scozzese.)
And as to Meg, goes on Eliza, I wonder if might answer to send her to school, somewhere where she would not be Bess’s little sister, the one that plays the piano, and might make her own friends.
Why, says I, one hears that some girls’ school are very bad places, would give her very undesirable notions on wealth and rank &C; but there are also, I confide, schools that would not be entire concern’d with deportment and social advancement and preparing girls for a good marriage.
O, fie upon such matters! cries Eliza. Sure there must be schools that will consider girls to be reasonable creatures – tho’ lately sure I have gone doubt’d that! – and give 'em proper education along with decent manners.
Was not Mr A-'s sister, that we must now remember to style Mrs D-, in just such a school? Might be just the place.
'Tis an excellent thought. My dear, I purpose drive into town this afternoon: might you care for the jaunt?
O, indeed I should, for I have not yet contriv’d to call upon Minnie and exclaim over her new babe; and I might go look in upon Mr A- at the hospital so that I may put him in touch with Mr R-, for I confide that they must find a deal in common.
Eliza laughs somewhat and says, has watcht Lady T- at her lace and thinks that the lovelyest of C-s goes do somewhat similar 'twixt her acquaintance.
I laugh and say, 'tis somewhat of the like. But did I not just see Bess go into the garden? I will go walk out there myself and see can I mayhap sound what is ado with her.
So I take my parasol – for 'twould be imprudent to walk in the garden on such a sunny day without, Docket would most certain chide me for doing any such thing – and go walk a little in the sunlight about the place as if idly, until I come to where Bess sits in the swing, but only moving it a little, not swinging herself up to the sky.
How now, my dear, says I, do I interrupt your meditations?
Bess denies that I do, and I sit down upon the nearby bench. After a little while Bess says sure 'tis entire agreeable to see Harry after so long, but otherwise 'tis very dull here and Meg goes be tiresome.
I do not say anything, and Bess goes on in aggriev’d tones to say that indeed she is not spoilt by grand society, but she misses Lou and Dodo, and 'tis not in the least the case that she has gone fall in love with Mr Geoffrey M- -
I am glad to hear it, says I.
- a fellow that will go lecture me upon matters of the theatre even tho’ he knows a deal less than I do on the matter, 'tis entire vexatious. 'Tis worse than Mr Bellairs telling me all about the fine hunting he had and the fine society he was in, as if I should care.
'Tis, alas, says I, somewhat of a habit with fellows, especially young ones that have not been lesson’d into some greater humbleness concerning their attainments by going about in company.
Tom O- does not, says Bess, is a sensible creature that does not suppose that because I am a girl I know nothing of steam, and will go ask my opinion on things. Is a very agreeable fellow.
Indeed, says I, I found him a most a civil young man when I was at his papa’s cricket-party last year.
Bess sighs and says, sure she would like to go to a cricket-party, but did I not say that ladies were not allow’d to play? ‘twould be extreme tiresome if so.
We sit in silence for a little while, for indeed, 'tis a matter of the discontent of her age and no matter I may go find a contrivance for.
She then stretches herself and says, sure 'tis an excellent thing that Mr D- has gone marry, Mama and Papa say 'twill settle him so that he will not leave the works, and she shall not need to marry him herself – for, sure, when she was younger she had a great admiration for him, yet somehow she no longer feels so inclin’d to the prospect, but had it been necessary –
Oh, Bess, says I, sure that is no good reason to swear to have and to hold &C. Tho’ indeed shows a very meritorious thoughtfullness for the good of the ironworks that you were in contemplation of the matter.
She then goes on to remark that perchance one might set up a target and purchase a bow and some arrows? I say she must ask her mama about that.
Neither of the girls wishes come into town the day, so Eliza and I cram into the gig with Flora and Quintus, that desire the expedition, especial as we shall be calling upon Minnie and I confide they are in hopes of some cake or other sweetmeat.
Minnie is looking very well indeed – sure she grows a fine comfortable figure, from the poor scrawny creature that we first knew – and has a fine little boy to show us, that the baker also comes out into the shop to receive our congratulations upon. They both wonder do Seraphine or Euphemia have any new receipts, for the ones they already have answer exceedingly. I remark that they are somewhat took up at present over this matters of preserves and pickles.
They go take some contemplation of having these to sell, but are in concern that the grocer may consider that 'tis beyond their commission.
After Flora and Quintus have been allow’d to have a cake each, my dearest asks may she leave 'em with Minnie while she undertakes a few errands with Lady B-? Why, says Minnie, no trouble at all.
Outside the shop, we go our own ways, I to the hospital and she about her errands.
I find Mr A- writing up a ledger; he jumps to his feet and greets me very effusive. I say that I hear that the hospital gets on exceeding well, and advance to him the mutual benefits that would come thro’ setting up a correspondence with Mr R-. He would be most exceeding glad to enter into such communication, perchance they might even work up some study of ailments particularly incident to certain occupations.
'Tis an excellent plan, says I, and does he still correspond with Mr H-?
Indeed, says Mr A-, 'tis of entire benefit to have such accounts as his. He has most kindly offer’d that, does Mr A- ever come to Town, that, should he have a body to hand, he will send him a card to view the dissection – for he goes undertake these very private and discreet to a select audience that will have a proper appreciation of the matter, after the to-do there was last year.
(Sure I am not sure how private and discreet the business is, for 'tis not the first time I have heard tell that he does so, and I am in some concern as to how he may come at the necessary bodies. But 'tis his business that he has been about these many years, is an old hand at the matter, and never yet took up rather than whisper’d upon for dealings with resurrection men.)
I add that it must be agreeable to see his sister so well-marry’d, to one that is so well spoke-of in his profession. 'Tis so, he says, but sure he wonder’d was D- ever going to come up to scratch, and whether he would have to have words with him about his intentions.
I make him a contribution for the hospital, and go back to Minnie’s, where Flora and Quintus are both somewhat sticky of the face and I am like to guess that she has been giving 'em more cakes. I am about trying to wipe them a little cleaner with my handkerchief when comes Eliza with her shopping basket full.