So next morn I go call upon the Contessa, and indeed I observe a certain bustle about the place that speaks of a purpos’d decampment.
We go greet one another very effusive, and kiss, and look one another over with great affection, and I say, alas, Town will be entire duller without her and without her fine ridottos to enliven us.
She smacks me lightly with her fan and says, sure 'tis not true that the English are incapable of pretty speeches, but she entire confides that we shall get on without her. Indeed, she has made good friends here as well as the ones she already had, but now that she need no longer be concern’d over Reynaldo’s lack of discretion, feels that 'tis entire her duty to return.
La, says I, 'tis I am like to suppose a matter of fie upon this quiet life, I want work!
Why, she says, casting down her eyes, there may be some things a silly old lady may do, still.
Not silly, says I very affectionate, and entire ageless: have you not been to Guiseppina to make you up some elixir of enduring youth? sure one might think so.
I go tell her of the very excellent device I have for conveying communications, that there is a fellow in the Embassy quite entire delight’d to relieve that poor silly creature Lady B-'s mind of her anxieties about messages from her estate going astray, by popping 'em into the Diplomatick Bag.
She laughs quite immoderate, and says, 'twill be an opportunity to go look upon that very handsome fellow that looks after your estate –
Altho’, says I, 'tis give out that he is my steward the Marquess left it to him, with the thought that 'twould be prudent to let it be suppos’d that I was the owner.
Such a prudent thoughtfull fellow, says the Contessa with a sigh. Sure, my dear, 'tis some weeks yet before I leave, but you are so much in demand and out of Town that I was quite in fear that I should miss you.
I should be very sorry not to have some opportunity to bid you farewell, says I.
We sit and look at one another with great affection as we drink our coffee.
My dear, says I after a pause, has it ever come to you in the course of your revolutionary proceedings that you were oblig’d to kill a man?
The Contessa looks at me very thoughtfull and says, sure she was never oblig’d to undertake the matter with her own hands, but indeed there have been matters she put in hand that led to a death, one way or another, and she must bear the responsibility. She goes tell herself that had she not done as she did, 'twould have led to other deaths, or captivity and torture, and it ever seem’d a lesser evil; but 'tis a heavy matter.
Sure it must be, says I, I was quite distresst enough when that Prussian fellow went startle at me and fell down and broke his neck.
She says, was no loss, a nasty fellow by all reports, dares say he had a guilty conscience.
But, she goes on, my dear Lady B-, did you desire to come visit Naples for a little I should be entire delight’d to give you hospitality.
Why, says I, I was in no immediate thought of doing so, but yet, 'twould be very agreeable, I might go see how matters go on with these agrickultural improvements upon the estate, and I daresay 'tis possible I might be able give a little assistance to the Cause.
The Contessa says she made the offer with no such thought, only the pleasure of my company, but do I mention it, indeed there are matters that a mad English milady may contrive most exceeding usefull.
I will go consider over it, says I, sure I have a deal of matters upon hand, but I confide that they may go on without me, 'twould be pridefull in me to suppose that naught may get on without me.
The Contessa laughs somewhat immoderate and says, indeed, she herself is like to suppose that the Cause in Naples manages to continue without she is there.
From the letters I receive from Marcello, I confide they contrive! says I.
The Contessa says, a most excellent young man. Sure when the Marquess first took up with him I suppos’d he had been beguil’d by fine looks and a form like unto some antient Greek statue, but he has a deal of less apparent qualities.
I shall miss her greatly when she leaves Town, and make her very effusive farewells.
When I return to my own pretty house, where Euphemia brings me a pleasing little nuncheon, I find that a message has been deliver’d from Milord, that finds himself in Town and has learnt that I too may at present be found here. Should I care for a little drive out of Town, he is entire at my service.
Falls out most convenable: I write a little note that I should be entire delight’d and dispatch it with Timothy.
I go dress suitable for a drive - sure I daresay the roads will be exceeding dusty - with a fine wide-brimm’d hat.
'Tis exceeding agreeable to see Milord, that is looking exceeding well.
We drive off and do not engage in converse until we are out of the brangles of Town, where there is a deal of going to and fro in the streets. Once we are upon a good turnpike, I turn to Milord and remark that I did not anticipate to see him in Town this while, sure I suppos’d he would be about a deal of visits or down at A-.
He says that there was various business that oblig’d him to come up to Town, somewhat tiresome.
Sure I cannot help but smile, and say, sure, Your Lordship, is that not quite entire why a fellow in your position employs a secretary? So that he will not need to undertake such tedious excursions?
Milord laughs somewhat immoderate and then says more sober that he dares say that did Sandy consider that 'twas his duty would stay at R- House the entire summer long, but, dear C-, I am entire beguil’d by the pleasure that comes upon his face at the prospect of this philosophickal tramping and how much he enjoys the matter.
'Tis very good of you.
Why, as we cannot be together while I go about the deal of visits I am invit’d upon, I should like him to spend some time in the enjoyment of life. Not only would it look particular did he accompany me everywhere, I confide he would not enjoy many of the house-parties to which I am bidden.
Tho’, says I, I hear that your bachelor-party at A- this year was a most resounding success.
Indeed, he says, was not sure how 'twould go, but went off very well. What excellent young fellows are the M- boys, not in the least like unto their father. And sure we could never have suppos’d when we first encounter’d him how very well Mr Sebastian K- would turn out. As for the fribble-set, they are come to years, I hazard, when they start thinking of settling down and taking up responsibilities – Lord A- has set them quite the example.
I am like to think so, says I. There was young Lord V- spoke to me of turning over the notion of marriage in his mind.
We go ask one another whether we have heard aught of how Danvers D- gets on in Harrogate. I say that his mother has writ me of what a very fine child Miss R- has borne, and Miss A- writes that Miss R- is now back in her old parts, and some that were once Miss M-'s, and Danvers D- is at every performance. And Mr W- is showing most pleasing sober and well-conduct’d. Milord says Danvers is no great correspondent but has sent a scrawl or two concerning the joys of fatherhood &C.
This is all agreeable matter, but since I am able to convoke with Milord, that I had not suppos’d I should have the opportunity to do, I am mind’d that I should disclose to him the heavyer matter that weighs upon my mind concerning Mr R- O-'s pryings.
I therefore tell him that I am sorry to spoil our happy mood and agreeable thoughts of friends, but I should apprize him that that dreadfull fellow Mr R- O-, that has been endeavouring spy upon our set, has gone discover what went forth in Surrey some years since, and while he is somewhat out in what he imagines the truth of the matter was, still knows enough that I should not wish to come out, and holds it over me to go about as Mr W- Y- did, but with a deal more apprehension concerning our clique than the poet ever attain’d to.
My dear C-, cries Milord, what do you intend to do about the fellow? I suppose 'twould not answer for me to find some excuse to call him out and shoot him down like a mad dog?
I confide not, says I, for I am like to suppose that he is a fellow goes very cautious and evasive and would not come up to the mark. But I go consider upon the matter and how I might contrive.
Dearest C-, should you mind did I drive very fast for a little while?
Just let me grasp firm hold, and close my eyes, and do you so.
After he has slow’d down once more, to my great relief, he says, he is sure I have already come at the thought that Sandy stands in most exceeding danger from this fellow’s exertions.
Yes, my dear, troubles me exceedingly, and sure I fear that even did I declare Silence to the death! Mr O- would find some other means to come at him.
Do you think he - ?
Has not made any insinuations, but perchance has suspicions he keeps in reserve and does not yet throw into play, waiting upon what I reveal. But sure Mr Y- had no apprehension in the matter.
We both sigh, and Milord says, tho’ 'tis heavy news, he is glad I have told him. And can he be of any assistance in any stratagem I devize –