Since we go make this leisurely progress across France, seems only reasonable to pause to make some observation of sights of interest upon our way, viz: palaces, bridges, ruins of antiquity, chateaux &C. I commence upon keeping a Travel Journal with the thought that mayhap I might turn these observations into pieces for Mr L-'s newspaper. Indeed the slow pace of our journey is such that I require some occupation to pass the time without I become distract’d and fretfull. For I think of my precious child and my darlings and how very long 'tis since I have seen 'em.
So I go visit sights of interest so that I may stretch my legs, and write up the travel journal, and ponder upon turning what the Contessa told me of her earlier life into a fine tale, and read such books as I have to hand, and gaze upon the scene as it passes, and all does not quite come about to distract my mind entirely from worries.
For, besides being in such great impatience to see those dearest to my heart, I am in some concern about the designs of the Earl of I-, that would have desir’d bend me to his purposes. And tho’ he was like to condemn Mr R- O-'s methods of proceeding, instead applying persuasive flattery concerning my talents and my love of my own nation to entice me to the matter, yet I was still not given to trust his overtures. I fear he may renew his suit upon my return.
I am also in some fear that, altho’ he assert’d that Mr R- O- was very close and kept his secrets to himself, that if they go search, as they are like to do has Mr R- O- gone disappear, one or another will come across some place where he had hid the matter concerning the secrets he had ferret’d out. Sure 'twas careless of me not to take a consideration of that likelyhood, for perchance I might have prevail’d upon Matt Johnson to make covert enquiries as to the places Mr O- was wont to frequent in life where he might have conceal’d this trove.
But sure, shooting a fellow will mightyly shake one’s system and disturb one’s thoughts, even does one not go about seeing phantasms and sleep-walking &C, and I confide I was not quite myself after I did the deed. Did not the dear Contessa mark somewhat of the kind?
I am also in some perturbation that I discern some likeness 'twixt myself and Mr R- O-, for do I not hold secrets? Have I not on occasion employ’d my knowledge of secrets to bring about influence upon one or t’other to proceed in some matter or other? Worries me considerable.
Indeed, frets me so much that one night while Sandy and I go read in bed, afore we blow out the candles, I open my concerns to him that I am like unto Mr R- O-.
He puts down his book ('tis somewhat in French) and stares at me. Dearest C-, sure I did once make some comparison 'twixt you and the Marquise in Dangerous Connexions, was’t not in the matter of the quondam Mr G-? - but indeed, you are as her mirror-image and desire contrive to bring about felicity -
'Tis not always so, says I. Have been those to whom I had no desire to convey felicity and I daresay consider me quite the villainess, as with that dreadfull fellow -
- you surely do not place any weight on the opinion of that lunatick bigamist, or Miss M-, Mrs E- as she may still be now and her husband, or Lord N- -
Mayhap not, but I caus’d some injury to Molly Binns –
- that some kind benefactor that wishes go incognito gave the means to set up a very promising line in hats, Matt Johnson told me. Dear sibyl, I have not observ’d you go ferret out secrets that persons would rather not have known: 'tis that your friends will come offer to you their secrets, because of your wise judgement and your extreme discretion.
O, you flattering weasel!
You do not merely keep secrets: you protect 'em. Do you suppose us ungratefull for your contrivances –
- o, poo. Have you not ever been quite the best of friends to me?
I confide that the late Mr O- did not have friends and would not have understood the word.
Why, I daresay you have the right of it. But –
Have I not had a deal of time to ponder upon our friendship, having nigh brought it to ruin? And the thought has come to me that there are those that, finding Docket’s health fail somewhat, would have turn'd her off, oh, mayhap would have found some almshouse or such so that she was not thrown upon the parish, but would not be about keeping her in her place, having some younger woman that can take the heavyer matters out of her hand, being, I doubt not, at the expense of procuring tincture of foxglove, and daresay at some time had her lookt over by some crack physician of the College (for indeed I have never told him Docket’s secret and why she may not be lookt over by medical fellows).
O, says I, sure I think 'twould kill Docket to have to give up working. And sure, her capacities in her position are very widely appreciat’d, it takes a deal from my mind that I do not have to spend time puzzling over what I should wear for some particular occasion or what is in the crack this season.
There are those, goes on Sandy, say you are quite foolish kind and generous to your people in general.
O, poo, says I. Before I was in the state I am now, 'twas a most material matter to me to be well-serv’d – to dress exceeding well, to have a fine cook, and an impressive manservant to the door, &C. And when I was in that former state, 'twas needfull to recompense 'em for serving in a household some might turn up their noses at, and also so that they would not go disclose intelligence to sneaking scandalmonging fellows, or take bribes to advance the interest of fellows I was not inclin’d to. 'Twas, as dear Josiah remarkt, a prudent matter of business, and they were entire essential to the success of the enterprize.
I smile as I recall when dear Josiah found me trying to make up my accounts in my pretty sitting-room and puzzling over 'em with a frown on my pretty face as I try’d put the various bills and notes in order; and then went out and commission’d me my fine pretty desk and provid’d me with ledgers and a little instruction on keeping accounts more systematick.
Sandy says that he had never give thought to the matter, but of course he sees now that 'twas indeed a very prudential course – he himself takes the thought that there was a matter of sleeping on the truckle bed in the dressing-room that it was best not have bruit’d about.
Entirely, says I. Not, I go on, that I had any supposition that there would be anything come of sharing my bed, but Milord – 'twas most exceeding pretty in him – did not wish that I should be disturb’d should he have his nightmare.
Also, says I somewhat thoughtfull, I think being abed with a woman was like to bring back unhappy memories of the time when his father was introducing women into his bed will-he nil-he, and would cause him to sleep very uneasy.
Sandy sighs deeply and says, that wretch of a father of his: is’t not entire to G-'s credit that he is in no way of the like?
Quite entirely, says I.
But, he goes on, we digress somewhat, and I was thinking of the very fine loyalty your household manifests.
La, says I, we have become as 'twere quite a family.
I surmize, says Sandy with somewhat of a grin, that cannot have been anything the like with the late Mr O-. Daresay he was a fellow liv’d at one club or another, and did not even have his own valet.
'Tis most like, says I with a sigh. But, my dear, I did not mean to keep you up all hours discoursing upon household matters, and you may blow out the candle whenever you like.
Sandy reaches across, takes my hand and squeezes it. Dearest silly creature and wisest of women, is’t not an office of friendship as you have so often done for me?
O, poo, says I, do you go blow out the candle, and we may go sleep.
Sure indeed this conjugal masquerade is more agreeable and less embarrassing than I had fear’d.
We also take occasion to convoke over my intention to write up the Contessa’s adventures so that they may make a most thrilling novel.
Sandy says may look somewhat particular and give cause for speculations do I go set 'em during that vext period in the history of the Two Sicilies when the Contessa did such sterling service: perchance one might find some other time or place that would nevertheless convey a fine message of struggle against tyranny.
Indeed, says I, was there not some matter of an uprising against the French monarch that had been impos’d upon Sicily, some time in the Middle Ages?
Sandy looks at me in some surprize.
La, says I, heard Mr N- discourse upon the topick to Mr P-, when Mr P- was mind’d to write a novel -
Sandy sighs and says he hopes Mrs O’C- whippt Mr P- soundly until he abandon’d the notion.
I laugh and say, I confide that Mrs O’C- refusing wield her whip would be more like to bring him to obedience.
This leads Sandy into a lengthy discourse concerning the curious matter of special pleasures -
But, says I, at length, to return to French tyranny in the Middle Ages –
Why, says he, he is like to suppose that there are histories one might consult, or indeed, go ask Mr N- is he so exceeding well-inform’d upon the matter –
Thus it is that we pass the time pleasantly enough as we traverse France, and I confide I may make a good thing out of my travel journals, but at last we are come to the Channel.