'Tis indeed most exceeding agreeable to pass this time out of Town and away from my customary concerns, but I must return to my own place and the troubles that beset me. Belinda embraces me very warm and Captain P- squeezes my hand very firm, and say that they will be sending my sweet Jezzie-girl very shortly, for they have other cattle to bring to Town.
So off we drive and arrive back at my own pretty house that I love so much and that shows the care that has been took while I have been away, and I look upon it with tears starting to my eyes, for I am a foolish creature.
Hector greets me looking very sober and says, he is of the opinion that the house is being watcht again and has consult’d with Mr Johnson, that confides that 'tis so, and goes about to see can he come at what’s ado.
He pauses and says, he dares say 'tis some matter to do with that sneaking fellow, and, My Ladyship, his pugilistick art is ever at my disposal, and he knows a blow or two that would put an end to the nuisance.
Oh, Hector, says I, 'tis a most thoughtfull offer and I am exceeding toucht, but I confide 'twill not be requir’d of you.
I go into my parlour and look about and say, did you have any chimney-sweep come call while I was away?
Hector gives somewhat of a snort and says, had the chimneys swept a while ago.
Why, says I, you will think I am a foolish whimsickal creature, but I should desire you to take out the rugs and put dust-sheets about the parlour as if we had sent for a sweep and wisht to be in readyness.
He looks at me and says, as Your Ladyship desires.
He goes, and I go take my traveling desk over to the pretty desk that dear Josiah had made for me, and begin transfer the contents of one to t’other.
Comes Euphemia with tea.
I sit down in one of the easy-chairs and find that the cup that chears fails somewhat of its purpose when I take it.
I am in some supposition that Mr R- O- takes a fear I may levant, or may even have done so already.
Dorcas, Prue and Timothy come and roll up the rugs and take 'em out, and then cover all but my desk and two chairs with dust-sheets and leave more drap’d about that they may put on in due course. They look at me somewhat sidelong but say nothing.
Celeste comes with a nice little supper for me, but I find I have little appetite. I take a small sanitive glass of madeira.
'Tis some while on of the e’en when there is a knock at the door and Hector comes in with the expression of one that with great effort restrains himself from the use of the pugilistick art, saying that Mr R- O- would desire come speak to you, Your Ladyship,.
O, says I, send him in.
He comes in and looks about and sees the dust-sheets and raises his eyebrows. I am like to think he supposes I go close the place up with the intention of leaving.
La, says I in pettish tones, did you ever hear of so ill-manag’d a household? Here have I been away over a se’ennight when they could have had the sweep in any day, but no, he comes the morn, is’t not the greatest inconvenience? But do sit down, would you care for some brandy? Tea?
Thank you, no, says Mr R- O-, I came for what you said you would deliver.
O, I cry with a very pathetick effect, must I? Indeed, I have writ the matter out, now I have had the time to consider over it, but indeed it distresses me a deal to betray matters give in confidence.
Indeed you must, says he, unless you want your own confidential matters made publick.
I whimper affectingly as I move towards my desk, and bend over it so that he cannot see what I am about but will suppose I go take some memorandum of my friends’ secrets from it.
I turn around with the little pistol in my hand and say Silence to the death!
Mr R- O- rises with a testy sigh, saying, he might have anticipat’d one of my origins would be prone to melodramatick gestures. He confides that I do not have the courage to shoot myself, and even did I so, he will not be at stand, knowing what he does. Sure, Lady B-, you were the easiest path into the business, but 'tis not your secret alone and there are others will not wish it known.
He approaches closer, I daresay with the desire to remove the little pistol from my hand.
Sure at this range I cannot miss.
Not my death, says I, and squeeze the trigger as Captain P- instruct’d me.
And o, I am not startl’d by the shot itself, but indeed I have not shot a man before and did not know what 'twould be like. 'Tis by no means like an actor affectingly expiring upon the stage.
I sit plump down in my chair and put my head down 'twixt my knees, for I feel extreme faint.
Comes in Hector, I think in some concern that matters were t’other way about. He looks from Mr R- O-, that may not yet be quite dead but I think 'twill not be long until he is, to me, and back again.
Hector, says I – and then I halt, for I feel a little sick – and then comes thro’ the door Matt Johnson.
I go into a hysterickal giggling fit.
Hector says, I askt Mr Johnson to come for I thought the fellow intend’d you some ill –
Why, says Matt, going over and looking at Mr R- O- - dead, he adds, taking up the arm to feel the pulse – sure 'tis quite transparent what happen’d here. This low fellow try’d force his attentions upon Lady B-, the wretch, and she endeavour’d discourage him by threatening him with a pistol, and he went try take it from her and it went off. An accident as ever was, she cannot have known 'twas load’d.
We all look around at one another and I bring myself back into a more sober condition. What, says I, you do not go arrest me?
Matt says, why, he supposes a determin'd prosecutor might bring it in manslaughter, that is a verdict for which Your Ladyship might plead the privilege of her rank. Seems a tiresome business to put you thro’ court proceedings that would bring a deal of adverse attention and scandal. Sure was there some way we might dispose of the body –
Hector says that 'twixt the two of 'em they might contrive to convey it some distance away.
He then says, but he dares say that there may be those knew that the fellow was coming here, or had some notion of his design –
They both look thoughtfull.
I begin giggle again. O, says I, is’t not give out that does one take a body to Mr H-'s back door there will be no questions askt? – Hector presses a glass of brandy into my hand and I drink some – The fellow would do fine service to anatomickal science.
Hector says, has certainly spoke lately with Hoskins (that is Mr H-'s man) that says indeed there are fellows that dye in the street unmourn’d, or have been kill’d in some falling-out of thieves and rogues, have been convey’d to their dissecting-room.
They look at one another and without a word spoke start wrapping up the corpse in the dust-sheets.
One might, says Matt, see do they have a cart for hire at the livery stables.
I put down the brandy glass, for Hector has pour’d me a very great deal, and I wish keep my mind clear for the present.
'Twould be best, says I, was neither of you there handing it over to Hoskins – they look at me and nod – but I confide that did you depute the task to young Sam Jupp, he would discharge it very discreet.
Hector remarks that that entire family would do a deal more for Lady B-. But he will just go across the mews to the livery stables and be about the matter.
Matt squats down beside my chair and takes my hand. Cold fingers, he says, and then puts an arm around me, and sure you are shivering, ‘tis the shock.
I begin to weep.
'Tis, he says thoughtfull, one of those times when one sees that law and justice are not the same thing and may be at odds. I doubt not the fellow deserv’d his fate. 'Tis better do you not give in to any urge to confess.
Why, says I, blowing my nose, I had as rather not be took away in chains to gaol might I avoid it.
Matt smiles a little and says, did he so, he confides that there would soon come about Holywell Street prints showing the brutality of the Runners to a wrong'd lady, and pamphlets upon the topick in Mr MacD-'s most scathing manner, and he might even suppose speeches in Parliament, like unto that famous defence of the French Queen.
La, says I, 'twould more like be Sir V- P- got up upon his hind legs and speaking, or rather bleating, there for once, and would only be listen’d to as an entire wonder.
Matt says I have better friends than that foolish fellow.
Returns Hector and says, young Sam is entire eager to undertake the business, even without I said he might keep whatever 'tis Hoskins is commission’d to pay out for a fresh body.
Pray does not incline him to the profession of resurrection man, says I.
They take up the well-wrappt-up corpse, and take it from the room. Hector then returns and says, he goes send for Docket to come prepare me for bed, and has told Euphemia to prepare a mug of the soothing drink.
Sure I am not mistress in my own household.
Docket comes and looks at me very gentle and says, Your Ladyship, let us get you upstairs and your stays unlac’d and your hair let down and brusht, you will feel a deal better.
I begin weep again.