I sleep more soundly for having dispos’d of Mr R- O-'s evidence that he us’d to extort compliance with his intentions. Indeed I am glad 'tis gone, and that, even had he given a hint or so to Lord I-, there will be naught to substantiate the matter. (For indeed there was a copy of the entry in the parish register of my sweet Flora’s baptism, and some scrawl’d calculations of dates.)
I therefore rise with a lighter heart than I have done these many months, and think that I may perchance be about my usual round.
Docket informs me that she has employ’d the interest we have with Biddy Smith to obtain a fitting for me with Maurice this very afternoon, 'tis a most exceeding special favour.
La, Docket, says I, you do not let the grass grow beneath your feet.
She gives me a look and says, have there not been a deal of invitations come already? She and Sophy go furbish up a few gowns so that I will not look an entire dowd, but sure I should have new.
Indeed, says I, I should not go about so that Society will suspect how much time I spend in my library.
She and Sophy look at me in my morning-gown, and nod.
In a consumption indeed! says Docket. Sure Your Ladyship needs no rouge when going into company.
I go downstairs to breakfast in my parlour, and I am still at table when Sandy is shown in, looking in very good spirits.
How now, my dear, says I, sit down and I daresay there will be fresh hot coffee comes most expeditious –
Comes Celeste with this, and also some fresh bak’d muffins.
Dearest C-, says Sandy, after drinking two cups of coffee, as he butters a muffin and endeavours choose 'twixt Euphemia’s quince marmalade and her gooseberry preserve, I am most infinite gratefull that you prevail’d against my cowardly shrinking and brought me home.
Not, he goes on, that I am in any way deserving of the fine generous forgiving spirit in which I have been welcom’d back: does G- not have quite the noblest of hearts?
I look at him with a little smile and say, when you say forgiving -
I have, says Sandy, just before biting into a muffin load’d with preserve, confesst all.
All? says I.
All, says he.
La, says I, I am ever of the opinion that there are some matters that 'tis best draw a veil over, especial do they not lead to anything. Now I daresay I shall be most effusive prais’d for not taking advantage of you.
But, my dear Sandy, have some more coffee and another muffin, for there is a matter I should disclose to you – o, 'tis no ill thing, 'tis excellent news, but you should know.
I tell him of Matt Johnson’s visit and his very forethoughtfull proceedings in discovering Mr R- O-'s hiding-places and his casket of secrets, and my own burning of 'em.
'Twas prudent, says Sandy, to do so. And yet –
Why, says I, 'twas not merely secrets that were not my own to disclose, but secrets I should not even have, 'tis better they are gone.
He sighs and says he is not sure he could have done the same.
Fie, says I, there are those breathe a deal more easyly to think Mr R- O- is vanisht.
Indeed, he says. Do you purpose inform Mr W- Y-?
Poo, says I, I daresay he goes do well enough in Boston, and I cannot come at any way I might inform him very discreet in a letter.
'Tis indeed a puzzle.
Did I go about in some symbolickal fashion – as it might be, in some kind of horrid tale? - I confide he would fail to apprehend my drift.
Did he not come to apprehend that you are that not’d author that has been incognita.
What, says I, a featherwit such as I?
If he does not apprehend by now that you are no featherwit, he is beyond hope.
O, says I, I confide he supposes that there was some fellow was the puppet-master of this silly uneducat’d creature.
Sandy looks at me with great affection and says, 'tis quite the happyest thing to be on restor’d terms of amity with his dearest sibyl. For, he says, growing thoughtfull, quite the worst thing about having brought us into the outs, was that I could not come to you for your sage counsel about mending our friendship.
O, poo, says I, kicking him under the table, let us not grow mawkish. Tho’ I shall confess that I greatly misst our friendship myself, even unto the dour Calvinistickal glare.
We smile at one another. I then open to him the matter of the various tales and plays I have upon hand, and that Agnes L-, as we must now style her, has a new collection of poems that she desires publish. And, says I, I know not if Alf mention’d this to you himself, that would be most appreciative of a few novels besides works on heavyer matters when you send your parcels to 'em.
Sandy grins and says, Alf did indeed open the matter and would be most particular gratefull for any further works by the author of The Antiquarian’s Daughter (that I had chanc’d to have upon hand as I was about turning it into a play); is a fellow of great discrimination.
La, says I, you are ever the same flattering weasel, Mr MacD-, would that I had a fan about me.
He sighs and says 'tis ever delightfull to sit here in convockation but there are a deal of matters he must be about, having left 'em for so long.
Comes Celeste to clear away the breakfast things, follow’d by Timothy with a deal of letters and cards – I confide 'tis a day when Hector goes instruct the R- House nursery-set in the pugilistick art.
I therefore spend some while attending to correspondence at my pretty desk in my parlour, until 'tis time for me to be took to Mamzelle Bridgette’s for Maurice to go consider over replenishing my wardrobe.
Maurice greets me very effusive, declares that I am looking exceeding well, and that – he stands back a little to observe me – indeed my figure is what it ever was, mayhap I have even lost a little flesh, tho’ not so much as to give any credence to rumours that I am in a decline, merely enough to create a very elegant form that he confides will show off to great advantage.
So there are several hours past in being drap’d with stuffs and having pins stuck in &C&C but at the end of it I am in considerable confidence that I shall be entire in the crack of fashion once more, to the great gratification of Docket.
He also conveys to me in between desiring me to turn around, or hold still, or consider this very fine silk, a deal of gossip, some that concerns his family connexions – he goes make Tibby’s trousseau, for she has brought much business their way – and some that, I doubt not, he gleans from the certain club he frequents.
He also remarks that Lady Z- goes take advantage of Biddy’s discreet private chamber again.
'Tis not so very late when I finally emerge that I may not instruct Ajax to go drive me to Phoebe’s house, for I long to see how she and Lucile do.
She comes greet me at the door and I kiss her very warm. She is looking exceeding well. She takes me into the parlour and desires Alice to bring us some tea. Lucile, that is coming along a fine girl, is playing upon the floor in a little pen.
I look at it and Phoebe looks at me and says, she had the notion from Seraphine, for she thought that now Lucile begins get about, may get into all sorts of matter that would be very prejudicial to her – I think of the pigments and turpentine &C that go with her father’s profession – 'tis entire the safest thing. She goes over and lifts her out and says, but is she not a fine girl?
But I see her eyes go a little wistfull towards the painting of Camille upon the wall.
Fine and thriving, says I, taking her into my own arms and kissing her, listening to her babble that does not quite come at being words yet. And, I say, do the de C-s - ?
Phoebe gives a little sigh and says, sure she was in some hopes that when Raoul was elect’d a Royal Academician they might come round, but they still hold distant.
I go put Lucille back into her pen, and ask how Mr de C- does.
Exceeding well, says Phoebe, a deal of commissions upon hand – at this very moment has Lady Z- and her children in the studio – we may soon be oblig’d to turn away work. But, she goes on with a little smile, 'tis very agreeable to have the cushion provid’d by the profits upon my polishes, that go extreme well, young Mr K- came visit lately to say they are in some consideration of expanding the factory.
O, says I, he is not gone to the Baltic? – tho’ I then take a consideration that ice and snow may linger in those parts until quite advanc’d into the year.
There is a sound of voices in the passage and Phoebe goes to the door and says she dares says Lady Z- would care for some tea, and the boys for some lemonade?
Lady Z- comes in, looking most exceeding handsome, saying that that would be indeed gratefull. She greets me very effusive, remarks upon how well I am looking, and that sure I have been greatly misst among our circle. Her boys, that are very well-looking as one might expect with such parents, make me civil bows. Little Cara comes totter up to clutch at my skirts, and becomes a most exceeding pretty child.
I remark that 'tis a charming notion to have themselves paint’d, but will Sir H- not be in the picture?
Lady Z- smiles and says indeed, but cannot always manage the same occasions to come sit, with Parliament in session.
So I confide all is still well 'twixt 'em.