Indeed, Guiseppina’s brew has a most sanitive effect, and 'tis not really very long afore I feel myself in a condition to rise and wash and dress.
I go out onto the terrace, squinting a little in the bright sunlight, and follow the scent of coffee until I come to where a table has been set up in a shad’d spot that overlooks the sea.
Sandy is sat there already a-drinking coffee, but I daresay his head is harder than mine. We nod amiable to one another but I confide we are neither of us yet ready to engage in conversation
Comes out Guiseppina with fresh coffee and some little newly-bak’d rolls, and sure I feel as if I could manage eat a little. The coffee is indeed gratefull to me.
Sandy looks somewhat shadow-ey’d, but not as green as I felt upon waking.
Comes whistling past us Alf with a packet of papers in his hand, I daresay on the way to set up the press, and buffets Sandy very affectionate upon the shoulder, 'tis a most unwont’d proceeding, but sure, have fellows got very drunk together, 'tis a great promoter of manly friendship. He says he hopes that Lady B- is well the morn, and I say, becoming better, thank you.
I nibble upon a little roll and take some more coffee and indeed begin to feel more myself.
Passes us by Marcello that has in one hand what I confide to be a pruning-knife - 'tis sure not a stiletto. With the other he goes tousle Sandy’s hair, and says, dares say he does not at present feel like coming to see the vines.
Sandy shakes his head and Marcello continues on to his vineyard.
I look across the rim of my coffee-cup and say, how now, o bello scozzese, what came about once I had gone to my chaste bed yestere’en?
Sandy remarks upon the exceeding unchaste song I was singing just before that moment.
La, says I, I confide 'twas a deal less so than the one you grac’d the company with, but as 'twas in broad Scots I would not know. But do not go about to distract me, for I observe remarkable signs of familiarity the morn.
Sandy blushes extremely and says, 'tis entirely to the benefit of the criminal population that Lady B- may not join the Runners, for she is an all-seeing eye and there would have to be a deal more gaols construct’d to hold all she detect’d.
O, poo, says I, you flattering weasel, you take advantage that my hands are occupy’d so that I may not take up my fan and smack you with it. But I go discern that there were, perchance, passages last night 'twixt the three of you? and a very pretty sight must have been: do I not recollect a certain paint’d pot among my late husband’s antiquities that depict’d such a scene?
Sandy emits a sound somewhat 'twixt a sigh and a groan.
Why, says I, I hope they did not go about taking advantage of your state of inebriety.
Sand looks at me with the expression of a Scotsman whose head for liquor has been impugn’d. Most certainly not, he says, with somewhat of a blush.
I look back at him and say, I am like to suppose, Mr MacD-, that there are matters we might discourse of and convoke concerning, do we find ourselves tête-à-tête. Perchance we might go promenade ourselves in the olive grove.
He groans a little, and then nods, and I say, I will just go for my parasol.
Once I have my parasol in hand, and a wide-brimm’d hat convey’d upon my head by Docket, we go stroll in silence towards the olive grove, where we shall have no company but goats.
In due course we are come some way from the villa and I turn to Sandy and say, I hope that 'tis a matter of the furor that is give out to overtake those of the cooler nations in these parts, that are not merely far from home but unaccustom’d to the sun and the warmth, and are thus incit’d to reckless conduct, and does not import that you are at outs with Milord.
Sandy shifts from foot to foot in silence.
O, I cry, pray assure me 'tis not so!
He sighs and says, as ever, the dearest of sibyls hits it off exactly. And sure 'tis entire my own fault –
I raise my eyebrows.
- o, entirely. For I must have been extreme irksome in my going be troubl’d over your action, and puzzling upon it, and whether might be justify’d, and arguing over it – sure 'twas arguing with myself as much as him – until it came to it that His Lordship declar’d that did I take so severe a line with respect to capital offences, he would not continue to solicit me to such matters, that I must find extreme distressing to my tender conscience.
I let out a little squeek of distress.
And then, says Sandy, his stammer overtook him, and instead of hearing him out, I turn’d upon my heel and walkt out.
My dear, says, I, must have crosst your mind that you were both exceeding vulnerable to Mr R- O-'s methods. I would suppose that 'twould be easyer to strike a heroick pose and declare Silence to the death was’t merely yourself in contention, but not did it pose risque to another.
Indeed, on reflecting upon the matter – for I had a deal of time to do so in my journey here – that present’d itself to me. He sighs. Also, he says, there was Eliza F- glaring at me like unto a she-wolf that finds her cubs threaten’d, Josiah F- displaying an unwont’d reserve; the feeling at R- House was very much against me. So I came after you, to apologize and beg you to return.
He sighs again and says, he doubts not that he will find himself out of a place on his return, and hopes that he has gain’d enough interest that he may find another, tho’ doubts 'twill be as congenial.
O, fiddlesticks! Really, Alexander MacD-, MA, you are more of a fool than I suppose you if you do not realize that Milord was in the most exceeding anxiety for you over Mr R- O-'s proceedings. For I am like to suppose that you were the prize that he hop’d lure into his net. I am sure Milord goes pace up and down and is in the greatest of frets that you will fall into the hands of banditti, or take a stroke o’ the sun, or contract the mala aria.
Whilst I go frolick here, cries Sandy, much mov’d at the thought. What a wretch am I, to doubt his affection, entire blind’d by my vile jealousy when he went defend you against my preachings.
Why, says I, I confide he would not grudge you a little recreation: sure, I daresay 'tis most agreeable to him to go lesson Mr Geoffrey M- in driving, and be the object of his melting glances -
You go mock me, says Sandy, but sure, I deserve it.
Why, says I, 'tis not a pretty matter to kill a man, and I had rather not have been oblig’d to, but indeed I could think of no other means to stop him. O, mayhap one might have contriv’d hit him upon the head and convey him unconscious to a madhouse, and tell the keepers to take no mind does he go rave, but I mind that the quondam Mr G-, that is quite assur’dly entire lunatick, escap’d from that fine madhouse in Sussex and made his way to Town, so I should not feel secure in the matter.
Sandy looks at me and smiles with great affection and says, he doubts not that I went consider all alternatives, and he should not have doubt’d me.
I hope I never have to do the like again, says I with a shiver.
Sandy puts a hand upon my shoulder and said, could you not have askt someone – surely there are those would gladly undertake an assassination for you - ?
I sigh, and say that I was in some confidence that he would not have expect’d a silly creature the like of me – o, he did say he did not consider me a silly creature, perchance I should have said, that exquisite creature Lady B-, the epitome of feminine timidity – to essay to shoot him. He was ever cautious enough to take no food or drink from my hands, for is not poison deem’d a woman’s weapon? but he did not anticipate a gun in my delicate white hands. 'Tis a mistake I think would not have fallen into with a man.
Also, says I, I could not put it upon someone else. 'Twas not entire the like of the circumstances that the Contessa has been in, when she would send word along her lines of communication that might bring some fellow to his death.
And, says I, I was in readyness to be arrest’d and bear the penalty, tho’ was greatly reliev’d that did not come to that.
Sandy looks at me and says, I cannot suppose, however fiery the rhetorick brought against her, that any jury seeing Lady B- a lovely and pathetick figure in the dock would believe she could kill a man. Slay with her beauty, perchance –
Flattering weasel! Sure 'tis you should write romantick novels.
- but not with some weapon. He then laughs somewhat immoderate and says, sure Mr Geoffrey M- would sigh and wish he had got on in his legal career far enough to be call’d to the Bar so that he might defend you.
I also laugh and say, but he is not quite entirely Cherubino?
At this moment comes Marcello from whatever he has been about with his vines. He and Sandy smile at one another a little bashfull: Sandy goes touch him upon the shoulder and they smile more freely.
Sure I feel myself somewhat superfluous, but Marcello is in great eagerness to tell us how his vines do, and by some road this leads on to the cultivation of olives, and whether 'tis possibly go improve the breed in goats, &C&C.