Miss N- offers that I might like to hear Flora read, a thing I have desir’d so much I have not dar’d to speak of it or express my wish to do so. So I go to the schoolroom at the time when she conveys instruction to Flora for an hour or two of a day, and Flora is entire delight’d to demonstrate to me how exceeding well she reads.
'Tis entire like to bring me to tears to see my precious child such an infant bluestocking, and to think that she will not be put to copying parts or giving cues as soon as she can read and write but may have a fine education, mayhap even the classicks.
Miss N- looks at her very proud.
La, says I, here is one grown such a fine learn’d big girl, I am like to suppose that she no longer cares for playing tigers -
At which my darling quite throws down her book and desires romp as she has so often delight’d to. O, 'tis quite the sweetest thing.
And then she demands a new tale of the elephants.
She is quite the dearest love of my heart, I think when I go leave her, and has the prospect of such a fine life before her.
I go sit in the swing in the garden myself, and swing a little to and fro, and think of the cloud upon the horizon that may be naught, may be a matter I trouble myself about entire unnecessary, but may be a storm that threatens my dear jewel and my darlings.
O, thinks I, that Marcello was not so distant, for I could find a fine use for his stiletto.
I am shockt to find myself in contemplation of assassination. But indeed, what else might I do does Mr R- O- come hound me with the knowledge of my sweet child’s birth to make me betray my friends, and doubtless go spy for him? – for I daresay he knows as well as I how little a pretty feather-wit is like to be suspect’d in such matters. Sure I have no secret of his that I might set in the balance against him. I daresay one might go about to contrive that he was crimpt aboard some ship bound upon a distant voyage, but 'tis a risky undertaking and besides, I confide that he is a fellow goes about very cautious and 'twould be a difficult matter to convey some matter of laudanum into his tea or some such stratagem.
Come, C-, says I to myself, are you not entire not’d for the cunning devices in your horrid tales? Do you consider what you might do did you put Mr R- O- into a story.
But alas, I am not able to conjure up a curse or a vengefull spirit or a sea-monster or even a statue that might drag him down into Hell. Must work with such materials as I have to hand.
Have I not seen how very effective a hat-pin may prove – tho’ I daresay that does one intend a murder, rather than come to an unanticipat’d fatal accident, one would need to know very exact where one should strike.
I tell myself that sure I should not borrow trouble and perchance I fret myself entire unnecessary.
I sigh a little and then see that Miss N- comes out to the garden, so I put an expression of more chear upon my face. She says that she comes out, seeing that 'tis such a fine afternoon, to undertake her piece for Mr L-'s paper.
Why, says I, I confide that you will not cease to undertake such matters once you are marry’d.
Indeed not, she says with a pretty dimpling smile, and also she goes look over the pieces she has already writ following Mr L-'s thought that they might make up into a book to see whether 'twould be answerable.
I say that 'twould be a most usefull endeavour. Indeed you might become quite the Mrs Marcet.
O, says she with a blush, I should not aspire to such heights. But what I at present do is go put together some of Ellie’s observations of New South Wales, because one could not publish her letters as they are, for there is personal matter in 'em.
Sure, says I, 'tis somewhat of the same thing with the Marquess of O- that goes write up his travels – sent a deal of letters to his invalid brother, very lively written but some comments on friends and acquaintance that should be omitt’d. That minds me, I go on, that when convoking upon the matter 'twas suggest’d that there are particular episodes that might suit Mr L- as detacht pieces.
'Twould be a very fine thing, she says, will write of it in her next letter. She then sighs a little and says, she apprehends Bess had a most exceeding agreeable time at D- Chase, but perchance she should not be speaking of it so much, as if she no longer car’d for her own family home.
Why, says I, did not Josh, I daresay, talk a very great deal about the very excellent time he had at Captain P-'s and what a very fine woman is Aunty Belinda, &C? And I confide he still cares for being with his own family.
She remarks that Josh is a bright little fellow, an entire pleasure to teach – but then says, there seems somewhat discontent about Bess at present –
Dear Miss N-, says I, 'tis the common matter with girls of her age, I hazard 'twas entire the same with you, being neither one thing nor t’other, no longer a girl, not yet a woman
She smiles and says indeed 'twas somewhat of the like.
At this moment we hear the sound of Meg at her playing: sure 'tis exceeding fine.
Miss N- sighs and says sure she shows a praiseworthy dedication to her playing but mayhap 'tis a little excessive. There are a deal of things she will not do, in order to keep her hands fit for it. 'Twould be better did she have some other pastimes.
I say that I will go in and have some converse with her, have not done so yet. (Sure can it be has been avoiding me?)
So I go into the parlour, where Meg is alone playing upon the piano, but jumps up upon seeing me enter crying, O, Aunty C- and coming give me a hug.
Why, how now, Meg, says I, drawing her to sit next to me upon a sopha, how do you? Your mama tells me you have come to womanhood lately.
Meg groans and says, and very tiresome 'tis too. And she hopes she will not go be so fractious as Bess.
Oh? says I.
She leans her head upon my shoulder and bursts into tears, saying that Bess has become entire different, no longer wishes do the things they have always done together, goes boast upon her fine friends and all the things they go do, 'tis quite horrible.
Why, says I, do you not have friends of your own?
Not like that, says she, and 'twas always us’d to be the two of us together.
Indeed, says I, you were always confederates. But, dear Meg – I put my arm around her – is not your musick somewhat that Bess does not share with you? 'Tis not a matter you do together. Perchance she feels that makes a difference 'twixt the two of you.
But, says I – sure I never had a sister myself, tho’ I was as fond of Mrs T- when we were girls together as if we had been – altho’ it comes about that you may find yourselves upon different paths, you do not need to lose that fine affection you have for one another. For I confide that you are indeed still very fond of Bess.
But she no longer likes me! cries Meg with more sobs.
Oh, poo, says I, just because the two of you go brangle – and have you not ever done so, and then gone make up again – does not mean you have no liking for one another. 'Tis a known matter that girls at your time of life are more than common volatile and touchy, especially when teaz’d –
Meg, I see, takes a thought that she has not been entire guiltless in their brangles and blushes a little.
- so you should endeavour to be kind and thoughtfull and to remain calm.
Meg sighs and says, 'tis very hard.
At this moment comes in Bess herself, that pauses in the doorway and says, Sophy was just asking her would they like her to furbish up the costumes for the toy theatre –
(The dear good girl.)
- and you know, Meg, we ought to put on somewhat of a production while Harry is here, do you not think so, we have been sadly neglectfull in the matter?
Meg blows her nose and says, indeed 'twould be a prime thing to have a fine theatrickal performance for Harry, and 'tis very kind of Sophy, for 'tis a deal of a while since Tibby did the like and one can see that the costumes go somewhat shabby by now.
Let us, says Bess, go look the theatre and see what we might do.
Meg jumps up and they go out of the room together arm in arm and chattering as they were wont. I daresay will be at outs again before long, but 'tis most agreeable to see 'em reconcil’d for the moment.
I stretch a little and mind me that I left my traveling desk in the family room, and have I naught else to put my hand to at the moment, might try get on with my novel. So I go there, and find my darling Eliza sat at her desk about business matters. I go give her a kiss and say, the girls are come to a diplomatick accord, but I know not how long that may endure.
She laughs and groans and says she is most heartyly glad to hear it. Had Bess with her for a while to distract her with business, but there was a deal of complaining upon sisters.
'Tis the way of the world, says I.