I mind that dear Hester desir’d some private discourse with me, so one morn I go to O- House and am conduct’d to her private parlour, where she sits alone but for Selina – Miss Millick, I confide, still has schoolroom duties with Lady Louisa.
I go over to kiss her and say how well she looks, for indeed, she looks a deal less drawn than was wont when first I knew her, and quite vastly improv’d in spirits.
O, she says, dear Tony is quite the kindest of sons-in-law – ever thoughtfull, will go ask is there any matter I require – as well as making dear Nan so very happy. Sure I hardly know myself these days.
I ask do they hear from the Earl and she says, there have been a few brief letters, he is very widely receiv’d in Washington, makes a deal of excursions to see gardens and to explore the forests; and desires we will instruct his bankers to remit &C&C. But indeed, I did not hope for a visit from you to talk about him, 'tis some little matters trouble me about the children, and sure you know more of Society than I do.
Comes a footman with coffee, that I confide will be excellent is Arabella still mistress of the kitchen, and a plate of dainty little cakes.
I was in some mind, says I, to ask Euphemia to put up a basket of treats: but I then I bethought me might look as if I had no confidence in Arabella’s capacities.
O, she is an excellent creature! cries Hester, and entire doats upon Selina. But, dear C-, I daresay you will not have heard, being out of Town so long, but I am in very great concern over Eddy.
I put on my listening face and say, sure, I have hear Mr M- entire well spoke off –
O, he is not what they call fast, but there is this matter of Lady Z-, that he is seen so much in company with, and I am in great fear that Sir H- will go call him out, or bring a crim. con. action.
La, says I, sure you have not the least reason to worry that Sir H- will go take some resentment in the matter. Is a fellow very meritorious conscientious about his Parliamentary duties, as well as having a deal of business to be about concerning tin - for is of an antient Cornish family with tin-mining interests. Entirely finds it to answer to have some young fellow squire Lady Z- around somewhat and gain that polish and good ton that may be acquir’d thro’ association with an older lady that knows the usages of Society.
Indeed you relieve my mind! says she with a sigh of relief. Shows a very fine spirit in him.
Indeed it does, says I. But how are the rest of your brood?
O, Nan will go grumble somewhat about the constraints of her condition, but she is very well, none of those signs that would give particular cause for concern. And there is Lou set a most excellent fine example of application by her friends, goes be entire diligent in learning so that she will not appear the dunce of their set. And my only worry over Geoff is that he will overdo in his enthusiasm for this new course, sit up late over his law-books &C: but will also go drive and fence, so I do not suppose he will fall into a decline from too much study.
She then sighs. Did you, she asks, make any acquaintance of Lady Rosamund S- afore you went to Naples?
I say that indeed, was introduc’d to her at Lord P-'s house-party, and encounter’d her again at C-Castle.
Hester sighs again and says, my poor Em took one of her doating fancies to her, has ever been some girl she takes a passion for, but sure, one was hard put to find any merits in this one that might bring it about.
Why, says I, she has somewhat in the way of looks, tho’ considerable temper’d by her disdainfull expressions.
I should not mind, she goes on, was it some mutual girlish enthusiasm such as one sees with Lou and her friends, but seem’d to me that there was an inequality of feeling, and that there was somewhat behind; and we quite soon came to apprehend, all except Em, that she cast her eyes at U-, that would make a most eligible parti for a young lady of her rank.
She looks at me and down at her hands and sighs. I am most exceeding glad that Lord N- is not in the country, for I doubt not he would consider it a prime match and endeavour persuade U- to it –
He does not incline to her? I ask.
Hester snorts and says, can scarcely bear her company. Would show civil, go dance with her, &C, because she is Em’s friend. But now Em comes take against her, that I cannot be sorry at, but that it makes her so distressfull.
I am about to say, 'tis a troublesome time of life, but I mind me that Lady Emily is some years older than Lady Louisa, and might be suppos’d that that particular volatile time 'twixt girlhood and womanhood was past.
I wish, she goes on somewhat fretfull, that Em would go incline towards one or other of her suitors, for there are a deal look upon her with great admiration. Sure I would not go force her to any she lik’d not, but I daresay U- takes the thought that there are alliances that might suit exceedingly.
Why, says I, I mind that during her first few seasons she was greatly constrain’d by her Aunt Laetitia’s notions of correct conduct, and being dresst so out of the style, so I daresay now she goes kick up her heels a little like a filly unbridl’d.
'Tis very like, says Hester, for indeed she chaf’d under Laetitia’s strictures. But, dear C-, I sit here telling over my own troubles, and 'tis give out there was some difficulty over your estate at Naples?
La, says I, 'tis the most entire tedious tale, should not wish to bore anyone with it. 'Tis all entire settl’d now.
We part with great amiability.
I return home, and find that Tibby goes call upon Euphemia, so I desire her to come step to the parlour, so that I may discourse with her upon this matter of marriage.
She comes in and makes her bob and says that she and Titus are ready to be marry’d as soon as maybe, she is in entire confidence that Jennie will prove entire capable of serving Her Grace as lady’s maid, and indeed she would like to be about the matter while Euphemia may still be present, for does she not increase mightyly?
Perchance, says I, 'tis twins; for sure I think it must be a month or two yet afore she may anticipate to lye in. But, says I, do you wish to be expeditious in the matter, might be contriv’d with an ordinary license without the matter of banns.
Tibby says she had some such notion and Titus goes find out about the matter; but, O, Your Ladyship, would it be presuming to ask might we hold the breakfast here?
La, says I, I should be entire insult’d did you desire any other course. Do you go settle when the ceremony may be, and then Euphemia and Seraphine can be about baking a bride-cake and all the other matters of the breakfast.
Tibby is most exceeding mov’d, but I contrive dispatch her to convoke with Euphemia.
I still have a deal of calls 'tis only civil to make, so have Docket dress me suitable for the matter, take up my reticule and card-case, and go about the matter.
Sure 'twould be most incivil to delay any longer in calling upon Lady T-, so I desire Ajax to drive me there first. The footman says he will see whether Her Ladyship be at home, and returns to say, she is at home to you, Lady B-, in the small parlour, by which I apprehend she is not receiving callers more generally.
I am shown into the small parlour, where she is about her lace-making, that she sets aside very carefull before standing up to greet me. She waves me to the chair vis-à-vis herself, and rings for tea.
O, dear Lady B-, I am so glad to see you! And in such excellent health, sure there was a deal of concern expresst for you.
O, poo, says I, I was a little pull’d down; had matters at the late Marquess’s estate that would be the better of my presence; saw the opportunity of traveling with the Contessa rather than having to contrive all myself. I was by no means in a decline.
She says she is pleas’d to hear it, for sure matters in Town would be the better for Lady B-‘s hand upon 'em.
La, says I, I confide you flatter me: but say on.
She opens to me that the matter that most concerns her, as I had anticipat’d, is Lord K-'s suit to Mrs D- K-.
Sure, she says, I think it displays a better ton than I would have expect’d from her not to show too eager in grabbing at such an excellent match, and I am in some consideration that, when I think how dilatory K- has shown over the business of a second marriage, perchance 'twould be gracious to concede to this one if 'tis what he desires. And sure her behaviour is much improv’d.
I have heard it remarkt so, says I.
Also, I have observ’d that minx Lady Rosamund S- goes endeavour establish interest with him: a very ill-conduct’d young woman that her mama should have whippt more often.
She sighs. And sure I think that a determin’d young woman might bring him to an offer, was it not that he takes this yearning for Mrs D- K-.
I wonder is there any lady would entirely suit Lady T- as a bride for Lord K-, but she then goes on to remark on what a very pretty, nice-manner’d young woman is Lady G-'s god-daughter, may not be well-dower’d but of exceeding good family; mayhap not the livelyness of Lady Emily M-, but that might be for the best.
(I mind that I have heard that Lord V- is already making suit to Miss C-.)