But at length all is as in readyness as may be for our departure and our journey home.
Sure 'tis a most exceeding splendid fête the Contessa arranges to mark my departure. There is a deal of entertainment, sure 'tis like unto Vauxhall or Ranelagh - for besides the fine orchestra for dancing there are most excellent musicians and singers, as well as tumblers, rope-dancers, jugglers, and conjurors. There will be fireworks. Sure it wants naught but the ascent of a balloon.
Docket and Sophy have array’d me most exceeding fine, and I wear the emerald and diamond parure with the conceal’d compartment containing my precious child’s hair – o, I miss my darlings so very much – and the dear Admiral’s pearls entwin’d in my hair. They go look upon me and give little nods.
I descend the fine staircase to where the Contessa goes greet her guests – there are a deal of the notables of that region, several of those of my own nation and others that go reside in these parts, the dear Admiral and his officers, and Sandy has also been prevail’d upon to attend (I confide that the Contessa still sighs that he will not concede to wear the picturesque garb of his native land).
Sure there almost comes about a brawl of contesting fellows that wish to be beforehand in asking me to dance, and I confide there is a deal of national honour bound up in the matter.
I mind that I should wish to be thought kindly of in these parts lest I do ever return, so I say, la, here are fellows I shall not have any opportunity to take the floor with again, unless fortune favours another return to this lovely city.
And, sure, there are even now several solicitations to me to show kind afore I depart, but I am in no inclination to at last go grant favours. Especial as even do I go show so much favour as to grant a further dance to some particular fellow, there will be flashing eyes and low growls and manifestations of jealousy (for fellows in these parts are most exceeding given to that vice) so that I am in some concern that there may be challenges made if not encounters with a stiletto upon some back-stair.
So in due course I say, la, I would not neglect the officers of the Royal Navy, for I am as patriotick an Englishwoman as ever drew breath, and go step out with fellows that do not make passionate declarations, and indeed, are not always as fine dancers as the Neapolitans, but show very civil. And I go very prudent to ask whether they encounter’d my dear friend Lady J- when she came visit her husband lately, and did they think she was in health, and say a deal about how entire necessary she is to philanthropick matters in Town, so that they will confide that I am entire well-dispos’d towards her and no rival.
And then comes the Contessa to say that the fireworks are about to begin and I should come find a fine viewpoint to observe ‘em from, and we go out upon a balcony, where I observe the dear Admiral and Sandy smoaking cigars and in deep conversation, and I say I hope they will cease their discussion for the while 'twill take to see this display, for 'twould be a pity to miss it.
They come stand to either side of me, and Sandy says he is ever delight’d to hear such good news of Lady J- as the Admiral has been telling him. And then all fall silent as the fireworks begin and 'tis a most magnificent show. I cannot help but think how much my sweet Flora would like the sight.
O, 'tis sad to leave good friends, and the Contessa and I go weep somewhat upon one another’s shoulders, while promising to exchange any news we hear as to whether Reynaldo has attain’d to Boston and how he goes on in that place. I look into her dear face and we say The Cause: confusion to tyranny!, and kiss.
The dear Admiral and I behave very proper and civil to one another when we say our publick farewells: I make quite my court curtesy and he bows over my hand, entire as if we had not just enjoy’d a final and most agreeable romp.
Marcello and Alf come to the dockside to see us depart, along with a basket made up by Guiseppina lest we go starve upon shipboard, along with various matters of oil and herbs &C that she sends for Euphemia (I daresay there may be some charm or so for safe delivery in the package). (I also daresay that there may have been some matter of final romps with il bello scozzese, for they look a little desolat’d to lose his company.)
Lieutenant Q- shows exceeding civil as we go on board his vessel, has give up his cabin to me along with Docket and Sophy, 'tis very kind in him, says he does not anticipate a rough voyage and indeed, shall not be long at all until we make the French coast.
Sure I do not feel in the least sick, for which I am exceeding gratefull. Sophy puts me on a wide-brimm’d hat, and secures it very firm with a hat-pin, and we go promenade ourselves a little upon the deck, 'tis most agreeable and I daresay most sanitive.
Sandy I see goes discourse with one of the sailors, that is pointing up at the sails and explaining somewhat, and I think goes ask may he climb up to the crow’s nest.
Sandy and I dine at the captain’s table, and 'tis only good ton to offer the dainties that Guiseppina sent with us, that are greatly appreciat’d by Lieutenant Q-.
Indeed I am mind’d to suppose that this little cruise is entire beneficial to Docket, that looks very well for it.
But 'tis not at all long afore we attain to the southern coast of France, where we are set ashore at the extremely bustling port of Marseilles, and Lieutenant Q- most kindly deputes several of his seamen to carry our baggage to the inn where we purpose stay. Even escort’d as we are by the Royal Navy, I become aware of a deal more attention than I should like, and Sophy, I perceive, has her hat-pin conceal’d in one fist.
I go nudge Sandy, that looks about the sights, and say, I think 'twould be prudent to give out that we are marry’d, for otherwise I am like to suppose I shall have a deal of trouble with fellows upon our travels. Sure I daresay I shall still have some trouble even am I give out a marry’d lady, from what I hear of the reputation of Frenchmen, but 'twould be a deal worse otherwise.
Sandy looks down at me with a slight frown, and I say, La, Mr MacD-, sure I will not be going take advantage of you, is that what you fear.
He blushes somewhat, but concurs that 'twould indeed be a prudent course. I go communicate this stratagem to Docket and Sophy.
So when we are come to the inn we bespeak therefore one conjugal bedchamber with dressing-room, a chamber for Docket and Sophy, and a private parlour.
I say to Docket that I do not suppose that we shall be staying here very long – shall need to be having dealings with a bank over my letters of credit so that we may be supply’d with French money, and find out when we may depart and how –
Sandy says, he thinks that we should be best serv’d to take a water-coach at least as far as Lyons, and he has a deal of information upon the matter. But 'tis all business that may be left to the morrow, including the banking matters.
- but, anyway, Docket, I continue, I do not think we need unpack all the trunks, I confide that there is that smaller one that contains as much as I should need for the time we are here.
She and Sophy go into the dressing-room.
I go take a further consideration and say that I confide that 'twould be best did we desire to dine privately in our parlour. For, Sandy dear, I am not sure that we might be able maintain the masquerade of wedlock did we do so publickly.
Sandy looks at me somewhat quizzickal and says, can it be so difficult?
La, says I, I would not put upon you a task of demonstrating doating uxuriousness that I am in supposition you would find it hard to sustain. And a chill yet civil indifference such as I daresay the French suppose to be entire the common thing among English marry’d couples would also be hard to sustain, for 'twould require an entire silence except to say kindly oblige me with the salt &C. I suppose we might contrive to personate a couple that is at outs and brangles -
Hah, says Sandy, have I not observ’d Mr W- play Sir John Brute?
- but I am in some concern that does it appear that my husband goes show to me in such fashion, 'twill entire encourage fellows to think that the walls of my citadel may be readyly breacht. No, I cannot see it answerable, even does dining private give you the reputation of a jealous fellow that keeps his wife very close, tho’ – sure I am a vain creature – none will wonder at that.
Sandy gives me a look and says that he will go bespeak dinner and also supposes that M. le patron of this establishment will be able to aid in providing intelligence on matters of banks &C, so he may be some little time.
Once he has gone I open my traveling desk and go look at the miniatures of my precious darling.
I then go into the dressing-room, where Docket and Sophy have unpackt the small trunk and furbisht up the garments it contains. Sophy is laying out various matters upon the dressing-table, while Docket goes convey to her warnings concerning Frenchmen.
La, says I, Docket is entire correct, Sophy, and was I you would keep my hat-pin handy. And now, perchance I might change this travel-stain’d garb and put on somewhat fresh?