So I decamp to the Contessa’s palazzo, and Docket goes remind the servants there of my consequence lest they have forgot in our absence, and there are certain of the the menservants show most exceeding obliging does Sophy have any request, and 'tis entire agreeable.
As previous, I have an exceeding fine suite to myself, so when the dear Admiral arrives, I am in a fine drawing-room, and have a spirit-lamp upon the table for making tea. The Contessa has said with a most meaning look that she dares say that, since the Admiral and I are such old friends, we shall have a deal to discourse of and she will leave us entire private - and indeed, 'tis that time of day when she is wont to go lye down for a little rest.
The Admiral is shown in by one of the footmen, looks about the room and says, sure when he first saw me at Vauxhall he never anticipat’d to find me in a palace, however much he thought I would entire grace one (the dear creature). But indeed 'tis a setting entire fitt’d to the finest woman &C&C.
La, says I, rising to kiss him very hearty, that is no way for a marry’d man to go on. And how go matters with Lady J-?
Why, he says, sitting down and accepting a cup of tea, excellent well. We were like to suppose by the time she return’d to Town that our endeavours had attain’d success, and she has writ that all the signs are auspicious. And that she minds what came about last time from her rushing about, so she endeavours make herself rest, and that excellent little actress will ever be reminding her in the matter, and all goes well so far.
'Tis excellent news, says I, and particular that she minds that she needs take care of herself.
Tho’, he adds, I do not think she will ever sit idle – still keeps a deal of matter upon hand. But has writ that she does not purpose go up and down to Hampshire, for she has quite the greatest confidence in Mr S-'hand upon the estate, and he comes to Town quite regular, to go to scientifick meetings and so forth, and will call upon her to report upon how matters go. Excellent fellow, fine wife, m’wife tells me she goes increase again.
Indeed, says I, I had heard was consider’d might be the case, 'tis excellent news that they are blesst again.
We exchange a deal more intelligence about our circle, for we both have news that the other has not had, and 'tis very agreeable.
And in due course the dear creature looks at me and says, have heard 'twas give out that Lady B- came south for her health. And while to my eyes you look entire in health as ever, there seems as if there might be some trouble hangs upon you.
O, says I, I was pester’d with the attentions of a very unpleasant fellow, and altho’ he was at length finally discourag’d, I found the matter somewhat oppressive to my spirits.
Why, he says, there is nothing so disgusting as fellows that will not see when a lady does not desire their advances.
La, says I, there are very few fellows who have your very fine apprehension in such matters, and give him a look.
He looks back at me, and we smile, and sure we are entire private and there can be no scandal arises from old friends taking tea together, and matters are between us as they ever were, and indeed, 'tis quite as that first time, that the dear Admiral has some soothing power that has a most healthfull effect upon my spirits. Sure Aphrodite smiles upon me again.
But then I find I go weep a little upon his manly bosom, and he pats my shoulder and strokes my hair and says, he doubts not, from what Lady J- said to him, that I went about to entire over-do, and that is why that wretch’d fellow was able overset my spirits so.
Why, says I, with a tearfull laugh, indeed having to be about the orphanage ladies and their brangles is enough to cause a saint to swear like a trooper.
So m’wife says! I daresay they are all the better for having your hand upon their business along with hers, but they sound a most troublesome crew.
La, says I, at times 'tis nigh on mutiny. Would that one might take the cat o’ nine tails and make 'em kiss the gunner’s daughter when they are so troublesome.
He laughs and says that Lady J- has expresst similar sentiments.
Some while later, after we have had a most satisfactory further engagement, and we go dress ourselves – sure in years past I gain’d some of the skills of a valet – he remarks that he hears that there is some youthfull connexion of Mr S-'s greatly desires a naval career, and would be entire happy to offer him a midshipman’s berth, but that he takes a consideration that a fellow that may not eat salt pork would be in a hard case –
Why, says I, tho’ I believe that there are some in Mr S-'s connexion adhere to the ancestral ways, his own family have been members of the Establisht Church these several generations and I daresay 'tis the like with this young fellow.
The Admiral nods and says, sure he has seen Mr S- in church. Tho’ he dares say the lad would have to put up with a deal of teazing, but what guinea-pig does not?
And then he puts his hands about my head so that he may turn my face up to be kisst, and says, he knows I have good friends and that if there was any question of calling out that shocking scrub Lord R- would be ever at my service, but is there anything he may ever do – (I confide his horsewhip is ever ready to my defence.)
Why, says I, sure your company is ever sanitive to me, does me more good than a month in Bath or a summer at Brighton. Alas that I shall be departing shortly, but indeed, we should not desire to provoke any malicious gossip and are we seen much in company in these parts, why, I do not think that we could readyly conceal our affection for one another.
He says somewhat gruff that 'tis so, and the world is not as understanding of these matters as his lady wife.
But, I say, at least I may hope that you will come to this fête the Contessa purposes to mark my departure.
Hah! says he, unless we are of a sudden at war with some power, you will see me there.
We kiss very warm, and then he departs. I feel a little tearfull, but also comfort’d.
Meanwhile Sandy goes address himself to the intriguing problem of the best way for us to return home, that will be the least deleterious to Docket’s health. This leads us to determine that 'twould be exceeding imprudent to undertake the journey entirely by sea, for the Admiral will tell horrid tales of the ferocity of the storms in the Bay of Biscay, that I do not like the sound of myself, and would certainly be exceeding bad for Docket. Sure even the Admiral, that will ever praise the sanitive nature of sea-voyages, cannot consider this at all heathfull.
The dear creature says that he confides that he can come about to contrive to put us upon a cutter that carries despatches, and have it put us ashore at Marseilles or some other port along that coast, whence one may cross France most convenable by water and road, may not be the most expeditious mode of travel, but 'twill be a deal less tumultuous.
Therefore Sandy becomes most exceedingly happyly occupy’d with maps, guidebooks, and going about enquiring of those that have lately travell’d in those regions for their recollections and advice, in a most thoro’ investigation of the matter. Sure, says I, you will be able to cast an entire damper over Mr N- do you ever come to discourse of the matter.
'Tis entire heartening to see the dour Calvinistickal glare in quite the old fashion that greets this sally.
Why, my dear, says I, I am entire sensible that did you have only yourself to consider you would brave the rages of the Atlantick in order to be home faster –
He grimaces and says, he doubts not that he would get a very chilly reception at R- House did he not bring the exquisite Lady B- with him.
La, says I, like a Roman conqueror in triumph with his captive, perchance very affecting in chains.
He scowls horribly at me and says, do we wish to reach our native shores afore next Christmastide, he should be extreme gratefull would I not go distract him from his labours. Have I no horrid tales to be about inditing, or letters to write? No tea-party with the Admiral?
Indeed, there have been several agreeable discreet passages with the dear creature. But I spend a deal of my time with the dear Contessa, mindfull that we may not see one another for a very long time, if at all. For I am in some concern over her health – has ever been most extreme vigorous for her age, but now goes take a little rest of an afternoon, and will sit more than she was ever wont are we about in Society.
Why, she says, as we sit taking tea one day, perchance do I tell you a few tales of my wild youth you might convey somewhat of 'em to your friend that writes those fine Gothick novels - she looks at me very meaningfull - for I think they might provide as 'twere an inspiration.
That is a very happy thought, says I, for indeed she has come about to complete her latest work, that may even by now be printed in three pretty volumes. I will ensure that you are sent a copy. But do you just let me take out my little memorandum book, and a pencil, so that I may note any particular telling incidents.