I come out upon the terrace with my traveling desk, for I feel most entire dispos’d to writing a little upon my horrid tale, and find Sandy pacing up and down in what I am like to suppose is a fret.
Why, my dear, what’s ado with you?
He sighs deeply and says, has ever been agreed 'twixt the two of 'em to put nothing in writing that might reveal the state of affairs, but indeed 'tis hard not to be able to convey his entire remorse to G-, but cannot come at any way he might do so.
Why, says I, I have the fine device that thro’ the kindness of my friends in the Embassy, I may send letters by way of the Diplomatick Bag - but indeed I think that you are prudent and that 'twould be exceeding incautious to do so.
He sighs again.
But, says I, altho’ I was mind’d to go pass the entire winter in these parts, does there go be malicious gossip that I am crept away to bear a child of shame, I am in some consideration that I should return to Town well afore the nine months be up and display a form that will entire contradict any suppositions that I go increase. Sure I have a little concern that a journey at such season might fall hard upon Docket, but I daresay one might take it as gentle as might be, and indeed we still have a most ample supply of her drops.
Sandy remarks that in such case I should most certain have some fellow in my company, and one, moreover, that has some command of languages.
Why, says I, I know that one may hire such – for did not Mr N- give me a deal of information in the matter when 'twas suppos’d I was bound for Carlsbad? – but indeed 'twould be more agreeable to have your company. Also did one hire one of those fellows, might suppose his duties extend’d a deal further than I intend’d.
But, says Sandy, comes to me that do we travel together may be a cause of gossip.
La, says I, gossip has had us abed with one another this long while, 'twould be an entire stale tale.
He blushes, and says 'twould indeed be agreeable.
Entirely, says I. Tho’ sure I confide that your departure will cause some sorrow here.
He endeavours look dour and Calvinistickal but 'tis entire impossible to him and he smiles. Then looks more sober and says, should it not weigh heavyer upon his conscience?
Why, my dear, there is a deal of felicity maximiz’d and I do not think it takes anything away from your affection towards Milord. Tho’ sure I confide I am no model in the matter – O! I cry as I see behind him in the bay the very fine sight of some several vessels of the Royal Navy, one of which is, unless I am much mistook, the dear Admiral’s flagship.
Sandy turns to see what I am gazing at in such delight. O, says he, I daresay you will now desire stay a little longer in these parts.
I sigh and say that sure the Admiral has ever been one of my dearest friends, but I should not care to be a cause of scandal to him now he is a marry’d man –
Indeed, says Sandy, while I apprehend that Lady J- has a respect for your antient connexion with one another, the generality is not like to understand the full inwardness of the matter.
Precisely, says I. But 'twould be extreme agreeable to see the dear fellow and find out how he does, and whether there is a likelyhood that their hopes may be fullfill’d.
Why, says Sandy, 'twill take a while to have all in order for our journey, and I daresay you will wish to go about society in Naples making your congé before you depart.
'Tis so, says I. Sure I shall at once write a note for the dear Contessa to inform her of our plans, and asking whether I might go stay a little while at her palazzo once more.
I am just inditing this when comes up the road a messenger from the Contessa herself that says she has took a box for the opera tomorrow e’en and would be ecstatick delight’d could we be her guests.
And o, I cry, they go perform Figaro’s Wedding.
So I commence upon a new note, conveying our acceptance of this kind invitation and then proceeding to my purpos’d departure.
I take a thought and look at Sandy and say, perchance he does not have wear suit’d to a box at the opera?
He replies that now he has finds himself so much invit’d about in Society, always takes the precaution of having somewhat for elegant occasions – that is, he continues, except when he goes tramp with the philosophickal set.
Is’t so, says I, I may accept for the both of us.
And now, says I, having dispatch the note with the waiting messenger, I must go conclave with Docket so that I may advance her consequence in these parts.
So the following e’en we join the party in the Contessa’s box, and I notice with some concern, now that I have not seen her for a little while, that she looks a little tir’d, and manifests her age more than is wont. I wonder has she come home to Naples to dye in her own place.
But she greets us both most effusive, desires that we shall take quite the seats of honour beside her, and then says, sure I am most welcome to come stay a little while I go about making my farewells, and indeed she should desire give a farewell entertainment for me.
O, I cry, indeed that is most exceeding kind.
She says sure she is sorry that I must depart, but doubts not that there are those in bella Londra that greatly miss me.
And indeed that I miss, I say.
She asks do I have any recent news of our friends there and I convey a little that I have receiv’d.
Looking about the opera house, I am entire delight’d to observe the dear Admiral, in the splendour of his uniform, in one of the boxes vis-à-vis. Seeing me he stands up and bows, and I kiss my hand to him – 'tis such an accustom’d practice of mine in these parts that none will think it particular.
During an interval in the performance he comes round to the Contessa’s box, makes civil all round, and asks where I am staying so that he may come for an exchange of news of our mutual acquaintanceship.
Why, says I, I am at present staying at my late husband’s villa, but will be decamping to take up the Contessa’s kind invitation to stay a few days afore I leave these shores within the next day or so. Provid’d that you do not have to sail away quite immediate, do you come call upon me at her palazzo, three days hence.
He kisses my hand and says, he will come take tea if he may – sure this sounds exceeding proper and unlike to give rise to scandal – and I say, 'twill be a pleasure, but before that time, I hope he may at least tell me that his dear wife is well.
Flourishing, says he, does very well in this climate. But will talk of their summer at greater length over tea, for he hears the orchestra strike up again and must away back to his own box.
We are seat’d again.
Comes to that fine and moving aria, Dove sono. I hear somewhat of sniffing at my side and Sandy takes my hand in an exceedingly hard grip. With my other hand I contrive to take a handkerchief from my reticule and hand it to him.
Some little while later he hands it back. I am reliev’d to see at the end of the act that there is no sign of how he was affect’d.
The Contessa shows some inclination to invite us back to the palazzo, but indeed I think she looks somewhat fatigu’d and we should not keep her up. We make the excuse that we still have to drive back to the villa, and I remind her that I will be coming to stay very shortly.
And you, Mr MacD-?
La, says I, he goes convoke all day over agrickultural reform and – I look about at where we are and the press of company there is, and confide I should not mention the printing press at all explicit – other matters to do with the place. 'Tis most exceeding dutyfull in him.
When we have at last attain’d to our carriage – for there are a deal of fellows waylay me and desire kiss my hand, and look somewhat jealous at Sandy – Sandy looks at me, and says, did he have a fan about him he would smack me with it for being a naughty mendacious minx.
La, says I, Mr MacD-, do you take to special pleasures?
'Tis too dark to make out his expression but he says, but indeed, I am exceeding gratefull that you found that excuse for me, dearest C-. You are entirely the best of friends and sure I do not deserve your friendship.
O, poo, says I, I can recall a deal of very great services you have undertook for me during the time we have been acquaint’d. But indeed, 'tis not a ledger where one must make the columns balance very strict.
We sit in silence as the carriage goes jolt somewhat over the road.
We are not quite at the villa when we encounter, come along to greet us with lanterns, Marcello and Alf, that declare they became somewhat concern’d at the lateness of the hour –
Why, says I, 'tis somewhat of a lengthy opera – oh, I cry, you did not suppose we had been waylaid by banditti?
They assure us that they had no such fears – I am not sure if 'tis entire true, for Alf says that Guiseppina went bother 'em over some matter she said she saw in the cards. Not, he adds, that we believe in any such peasant superstition, but desir’d set her mind at rest.
Why, says I, the Contessa quite desir’d trepan Mr MacD- to be a guest at her palazzo, but I told her that he had matters to be about here.
They all look at me. I wave my fan and say, matters of revolutionary literature – notions of goat-breeding – sure, why do you all stare so?