So I am conduct’d to the family room so that I may take tea, and I say, sure 'tis an imposition, but might I stay the night, until I am assur’d that my own house is ready to receive me?
Eliza looks at me with a little fond twist of the mouth and says, do we not ever keep a fine reserv’d chamber for Lady B-? I have instruct’d Williams to go make sure Docket goes lye down, and to give Sophy a hand with any unpacking requir’d.
(Sure I am like to suppose as they do not immediate urge me to fly the realm once more, I need be in no great apprehension of arrest.)
They recount a deal of matters that go forward with 'em and among our circle more generally. They are all well, Harry still does well in his apprenticeship, Flora comes on reading very well and is begun in arithmetick, and will not be deny’d to have Hannah with her in the schoolroom, and Miss N- thought she would just play quietly, but no, she comes along to read too. And Julius also comes have lessons.
And o, says Bess, Ajax came tell us that 'twould be best could someone give Jezebel a little exercize while you were away, so we have had her in the stables here and I go ride her when we go out –
Eliza laughs and says, serves exceeding well, for Quintus now goes ride Boots and Flora begins her equestrian education upon Mouse, while Josh rides Brandy and Meg Dapple. Is inclin’d to think that instead of soliciting a first pony from Captain P- and his lady, they should be in consideration of a horse for Bess.
Indeed, says I, 'tis very sensible, if Quintus goes outgrow Mouse.
And, oh, cries Meg, 'tis give out that Lady J- goes with child.
Eliza smiles and says, indeed, and goes very well with her, has been very prudent about resting and not over-doing. And Lady O- also goes increase.
O! I cry, when I saw the Admiral he said they were in hopes. But how go Phoebe and Lucile? And Euphemia?
Oh, says Eliza, Lucile is entire flourishing and so is Phoebe, and Euphemia is entire well. Indeed, I can think of nothing that goes entire aft aglay even without Lady B-'s hand upon it.
La, says I, perchance I should have stay’d at Naples.
Eliza and Josiah look at me very fond and say, but o, the deal of questions – how does she do? when do you anticipate she may return? surely she will not go settle upon the Marquess’s property? – from all quarters. Indeed you have been misst.
Hah, says I, I daresay I shall be an entire stranger do I endeavour re-enter Society after having been absent so long.
Indeed not, says Eliza.
Sophy comes with the box in which I have packt presents and I go distribute 'em to squeals of pleasure. My precious darling comes climb upon my lap to bestow kisses.
Eliza says, sure we are all most extreme glad to see dear Aunty C- back safe from her travels and in health, but I confide that she has been coopt up in a coach all day, and is somewhat tir’d and should be give a little peace.
Indeed, tho’ 'tis so very pleasant to be among 'em all again, should indeed be gratefull of a little period of calm.
Eliza says, she will go bespeak Seraphine for a little light supper for me so that I may go to bed betimes – and she thought Sophy lookt a little weary, should not be kept up late.
So she goes about this, and the children go to the schoolroom and the nursery, or, in the case of Josh, the menagerie, leaving me with Josiah.
He comes take my hand and says, confides their darling third is entire too tir’d for triangle, but, would convey, while we are alone, that there have been no consequences, no questioning, no watchers, I do not need to fret about being arraign’d at the Old Bailey -
He presses a kiss upon my hand. Ever dearest of all C-s, he says. Sure we were in a very great fret about you, but indeed, could understand your desire to get away from your accustom’d round for a while.
O, says I, I so greatly misst my darlings. I should quite long to stay here, but confide 'twould look particular did I linger further than 'twould take to ensure my own house is in order to receive me –
Josiah laughs and says he confides that Hector has made quite sure that my house is ready to receive me whensoever I might return, but indeed, the generality will quite believe the tale. He dares say I should send a little note, tho’ he has not’d that such news blows by some means like unto thistledown 'twixt the two establishments.
Indeed, says I, I would anticipate that Seraphine or Jerome will have found some means to communicate the matter by now. But if I might have the needfull, would indite a little note telling Hector when they may expect me.
So I go sit at Eliza’s desk and write my note, and Josiah rings for a footman to convey it, and then I go lean back in an easy chair and close my eyes a little, for indeed I find myself tir’d from my journeyings.
But then comes Patty to say Miss Flora desires her sleepy wombatt, even tho’ has been told that Aunty C- is very like too weary to be a wombatt.
La, says I, I may be a wombatt goes sleep before she does, but I will come along.
So I go to the nursery and snuggle with my sweet Flora, that is in some disposition to convey a deal of news to me, but at last sleeps. I look down at my darling child and feel somewhat tearfull.
But Eliza comes find me and says, I should come take a little supper, and then go to bed, for tho’ I look entire in restor’d health, she can see that I am nigh exhaust’d.
So I take a little supper and a sanitive glass of madeira, and then Eliza comes with me to my fine reserv’d chamber.
I will not linger, my darling, but o, dearest of C-s – she kisses me very warm – we are so very glad to see you again. For we were in a little concern that you might do somewhat foolish -
(Why, thinks I, they were not entire wrong, when I think how reckless I conduct’d myself in Naples. But 'tis not the time to open that business to her, I confide.)
Oh, poo, says I, there’s a foolish wild girl. Sure I daresay I now have the reputation of being a teazing flirt in Neapolitan society, but there were no passages -
But you saw the Admiral? asks Eliza.
Indeed so, but I do not count the renewal of antient friendship as passages.
Eliza smiles and says, cannot suppose an encounter with the Admiral did me anything but a deal of good.
I rest my head upon her shoulder and say, you do know, do you not, my darling, who are dearest to my heart?
She strokes my hair and says, she likes to suppose they have the preference.
But, she goes on, I see our lovelyest of C-s goes droop and will leave you to Sophy’s tender care.
We kiss, and she leaves, and I stand for a moment 'twixt smile and tears, and then go into the dressing-room. Comes in Sophy, that says she was just seeing did Docket rest peacefull, and sure, she breathes entire regular and quiet.
'Tis extreme delightfull to have my stays unlac’d and my hair brusht out, and to slip into my fine large bed, and tell Sophy that she should go sleep herself.
And I sleep extreme well, and do not have any nightmare, and 'tis well on in the forenoon when Sophy comes with my chocolate.
So I sit up and sip at it, and there is a little noise of scuffling and giggling outside the door and I desire Sophy go see what 'tis.
And come tumbling in at the door my precious Flora along with Hannah, and comes scramble up onto the bed to rub noses in the fashion of wakefull wombatts, 'tis the sweetest most delightfull thing even is there some peril of oversetting my chocolate.
My little jewel comes sit beside me and pats the place next to her for Hannah, and I give 'em both little sips of my chocolate, while Flora tells me of all that is ado with her.
And next comes to the door in somewhat of a flurry Bess, that says that in the absence of Miss N-, that is, Mrs L- as she is now, she and Meg go listen to the little ones read, and look over their writing, and hear 'em their times-table &C, but there in the schoolroom was only Quintus and Julius showing very diligent. So she bethought that this naughty creature would have come bother her Aunty C-, and prevail’d upon Hannah to do the like, and came fetch 'em away.
Flora clings to my arm and pouts at Bess.
O, says I, 'tis extreme delightfull to have their company, might they not stay with me a little and then come be dutyfull scholars?
Bess endeavours look severe and elder-sisterly, but then smiles very doating at Flora and Hannah, and says, sure, she confides that they will be in too much of an excitement to mind their books. And sure there would have been the usual levée had Mama not said very severe that you must be let sleep, for you had not only been all day on the road from Dover, but still somewhat knockt-up from the Channel crossing.
'Twas so, says I, a very nasty crossing. But I am well-rest’d now.
Bess says that perchance one day they will come at balloons that might traverse the Channel, she and Harry and Tom O- had a deal of talk concerning balloons when Harry came over Christmastide.
I say that with the gusty winds I fear balloons would be blown quite awry.
Comes Sophy to say that there is hot water in the dressing-room, and to smile very doating at the little girls.