I take a thought that does Lady T- show somewhat welcoming to Mrs D- K-, the latter may be entire affright’d when she considers the family and establishment she would go marry into. For while I daresay Lord K- shows tender enough towards her, I am in no confidence that he is the kind of fellow that would defend her when the matter is the slights of social usage rather than some drunken lecherous fellow that offers insult.
(Sure I hope he does not come desiring me to plead like Portia in Mrs D- K-'s behalf with his mother.)
I return to my chamber so that Sophy may put on the hat we had chose, and to take up my parasol, so that I may walk out onto the terrace, for I see that a deal of company are arriv’d and go promenade themselves there and among the flower beds.
Upon the terrace I find Lord and Lady O- along with Lord U- and Lady Emily, the latter looking about her and I daresay concluding that there are a deal of fusties, among whom I confide she would count Lord K-. I should not be inclin’d to lay any bets upon the likelyhood of a match 'twixt 'em however much Lady T- would favour one.
We exchange greetings and I remark to the Marquess that do we find opportunity, we might convoke over his accounts of his adventures, that show quite exceeding answerable; at which he looks mightily reliev’d.
They convey the news of the rest of their family: Geoff has gone join the party of peripatetick philosophers, at which both Nan and Em look exceeding amuz’d, Eddy and Lou remain with their mama at D- Chase. Lord U- says that he has contriv’d a visit to Monks G- and has a deal of matter that he should desire convoke with his godfather concerning –
O, cries Em, interrupting our converse, who is that? She wears an expression I have never seen upon her face before – 'tis somewhat of the like of the Honble Geoffrey when he regards Sandy - and I look over to where she is looking.
Why, says I, that is Lady Rosamund S-, that is the sister of Lord D-. Is about to make her debut in Town Society.
O, says Em, will she be in our set?
Very like, says I. Oh, look, there is Agnes S-, the dear creature.
Em continues to gaze in the direction where Lady Rosamund walks. Lady Rosamund is quite well-looking, but I do not think she compares with the M- sisters, and I cannot like her disdainfull air.
Comes over to us Agnes S-, that is sure looking very well, and almost handsome. There are effusive greetings 'twixt the young ladies, and Em expresses her gratifycation that there are some few in the company that are not dreary old fusties. Sure, she says, I daresay we shall be dragoon’d into spending our time in the drawing-room helping at winding wool, and sorting embroidery silks, and listening to 'em discourse of their grandchildren. O, U-, do not shake your head, I will go be meek and civil to 'em so that they shall not say that the M- children are entire wild savages, but 'twill be an entire bore.
Agnes S- says, there are some exceeding fine rides about the place, and some fine mounts in the stables that Lord T- makes his guests free of, sure we may indulge ourselves thus. Is also a very fine library. And, o, Lady B-, might we beseech you to undertake some readings?
All look a little more chearfull.
Agnes S- goes on to say that altho’ Lord D- has been give permission to go hold morning prayers, Lord and Lady T- do not look upon attendance as an obligation for their guests.
Tho’, says I, may be diplomatick to attend a time or two.
They all look at me as if I had grown a second head.
Em looks about and says, I daresay we could not even get up a sufficient company for charades.
I look about at the company and say, my dear, I observe several gentlemen that might concede to the matter when there are young women in it.
Em makes a disgust’d noise. Oh fie, says she, the wretches. And their wives here as well.
Indeed, says I, for Lord O- and Lord U- begin look somewhat concern’d, I do not suppose that there would be any matter of virtue in danger; but such fellows can be very tiresome to young ladies with pattings and strokings and what they will pretend are fatherly kisses.
Agnes S- gives a sudden giggle and says, Sophy told me that she carry’d a hat-pin to poke fellows that offer’d saucyness; but I daresay 'twould not be consider’d good ton in such company.
Alas, says I, I fear 'twould not.
Lord O- laughs a little and says, do we not have quite the finest guide in this perilous jungle of Society? I am sure if we find any difficulties we may bring them to Lady B-.
La, says I, you go flatter me.
I look over the company and say, sure I would hoist a quarantine warning to young women over Lord F- over there, and also His Grace of H-. Sir T- D- is also somewhat of a menace. But altho’ Lord G- may look very attentive upon female charms, is entire harmless.
Agnes S- goes waves to Lady Rosamund, beckoning her over, saying that she confides 'twould be the civil thing to make introductions. Em looks quite ecstatick.
I am greatly prepossesst by the way that Miss S- goes about the matter, quite entire in accord with the laws of Society as to who should be introduc’d to who. Lady Rosamund contrives to social smiles of no great warmth.
I remark to our company generally that I would greatly commend the quaint knot garden and pleacht walk to their attention, sure one might imagine oneself in a Shakspeare play, also the shell grotto and the rock garden.
The party moves off towards the shell grotto, leaving me with Agnes S-, tho’ Lady Rosamund casts a backward glance as if expecting her to follow.
Anges S- snorts and says, Lady Rosamund will ever find some way of being near her in company, she confides 'tis in order to supply a pleasing contrast of looks.
La, says I, has ever been my motto that does a lady suppose her looks will be improv’d does she take pains to display ‘em next to one that is consider’d plain, she is in little confidence that they are so very fine.
But, says I, I confide that you are not enamour’d of the young lady?
Has quite inordinate conceit of herself, says Agnes S-. Has shown very unamiable in little ways towards Dora – for indeed, they are much of an age, but Lady P- believes that young women should not be brought too early upon the marriage market, and makes a somewhat coarse comparison with heifers.
Not, then, I remark, of her brother’s Evangelickal views? – Not in the least! – but how does Lady D- do?
She sighs and says, still most unwont’d, and Lord D- looks entire miserable. Worries her considerable, for Dora still clings and shows most oppos’d to her marriage: but, she says with a look of happy pride, she will not move me in the matter. Mr L- is the most excellent of men, entirely prepossesses our guardian, 'tis most extreme pleasing.
Why, says I, I will endeavour to come at some private discourse with her – indeed there are some philanthropick matters I might desire open to her – and see might she disclose what 'tis that troubles her so.
You are very good to us, says Agnes S-.
O, poo, says I, am I not give out as that meddlesome marchioness?
Not in my hearing! she says. Oh dear, here comes that miserable fellow Lord K-: I think Lady P- has her sights upon him for Lady Rosamund.
La, says I, he must be twice her years or more. Yet I daresay 'twould be consider’d an excellent match.
Lord K- comes up to us and makes civil. Agnes S- finds some excuse to leave us. Lord K- looks at me and says, the lime-tree avenue is exceeding fine at this season, would I care promenade there?
Since I should wish to know does he have any matter he wishes open to me, I concede that 'twould be entire delightfull, and take his arm.
As we enter upon the avenue, that is quite desert’d, he says that he hears me everywhere spoke well of. His mother has quite the highest opinion of Lady B-'s ton and her understanding of matters, and I am also consider’d in the light of a true friend by that unhappy creature Mrs D- K-.
I say that 'tis very gratifying. Have not seen Mrs D- K- of late, understand she is at Bath, with the dread – with Dowager Lady W-?
Indeed, he says, he was lately at Bath himself, thought he would try the waters there, but sure at this season 'tis more about fashionable society and pleasures (I am like to suppose that 'twas not the waters but Mrs D- K-'s presence that drew him there), and was able to be of some small assistance to Mrs D- K- - sure he was entire shockt that the – that Dowager Lady W- would send her companion out of an e’en upon errands, put her in some danger from a drunken wretch.
Is she not, he continues, a magnificent creature? 'Tis entire wounding to observe her in such a state of servitude, and expos’d to insult, and while he knows 'tis in entirely poor ton to go about the matter while she is still in mourning, has made her an offer.
I maintain a listening silence.
Sure when one considers the character of her late husband one may well suppose her reluctant to enter upon a second union – indeed one hears the most shocking things about his conduct towards her – but she did not show entire unwilling to listen to my suit and consider upon it. But I fear my mother looks upon her with disfavour.
Why, says I, perchance did she have some opportunity to know Mrs D- K- better, see how much she is chang’d now she is no longer chain’d to that dreadfull fellow, has had time to reflect -
Think you so?
Why, says I, 'tis possible.