Indeed 'tis turning out a most enjoyable occasion. Lord A- comes dance with me and tells me how very well they find B- House to answer: 'tis all very well living at one’s club, but cannot compare to domestick life such as he now enjoys.
He looks over to where Lady A- dances with Milord and says, 'twas a lucky day for me when I heard her sing. And what an excellent fellow is her father, has a deal of sound practickal experience of a deal of matters, and comes about to play goff quite remarkable. Cannot touch MacD-, of course, one apprehends that the Scots take to it quite from infancy. Sure I am glad to see him return’d to Town, is giving me the most valuable assistance in finding a secretary.
I am next solicit’d by Danvers D-, that says 'tis somewhat of a bore, had rather be at the theatre or at home, but A- is such an antient friend, shows civil to come.
I ask how matters go with him and he most immediate tells me what a fine precocious infant is Orlando, how very well Miss R- shows in the latest plays, and hears there is a new comedy coming that will be most amuzing. He also minds to tell me that his mother is exceeding well, an entire doating grandmother, and the pugs are in health.
And what an entertaining fellow is her uncle. They will sometimes be in quite an agony of mirth at him. Sure those are lucky fellows at that club of his.
(I daresay Danvers D- has not the least apprehension of the nature of the club.)
After I have resign’d Danvers D- to his next partner, I have the great pleasure of a waltz with Sir H- Z-, that is sure almost as accomplisht in that art as Sir Vernon H- (that is now install’d at St Petersburg about his diplomatick business). I remark that I hear that Mr de C- goes paint a family group, and he says, indeed, he felt 'twas a politick thing.
I smile and say, why, 'tis a very pretty display of conjugal harmony, is’t not?
He smiles down at me and says, indeed 'tis. And lately his boys have been reading a very fine tale concerning wreckers and sure the author must be one that he has acquaintance of, for there are their family tales concerning that dreadfull business.
La, says I smiling, perchance one of your neighbours in Cornwall finds time hang heavy upon their hands and goes essay authorship. And then I turn the subject to tin-mining.
And then Milord comes claim me for the supper-dance, at which I am exceeding glad, for the antient sheep Sir V- P- still wambles somewhat in my direction.
He smiles at me and says sure I am looking exceeding well. And you, says I. We both glance to where Sandy leads out Eliza.
Why, he says, you may imagine the exceeding great relief I feel.
But then we give ourselves entirely to the dance, for we have ever danc’d together exceeding well, and I see heads turn to look upon us, and I daresay there are whispers that sure we remain entire, tho’ very discreet, devot’d to one another.
('Tis entirely to the good, for there are those have observ’d what an exceeding fine woman Mrs F- is, and such an excellent mistress of the household at R- House, and go make vulgar speculations upon the matter.)
And then he takes me into supper, and smiles and says, hopes I will join the party in his box for the opening night of this fine new comedy The Ladies' Rivalry -
Alas, says I, I suppose 'twould look particular was I not there, and 'twould be suppos’d there was something behind tho’ I doubt would come at the truth of the matter.
He squeezes my hand, and changes the subject to how matters go in the anti-slavery set.
After supper comes up to me Biffle desiring a dance, that I grant with great pleasure. He looks a little preoccupy’d, with constant glances to where Viola sits, and I beg him disclose what’s ado.
Why, he says, I confide 'twould be best did Viola go home now, she droops a little tho’ I daresay those that know her not so well as I would not notice, but Sebastian comes stay with us for a few days afore he departs for the Baltic, and she would not oblige him to leave the ball so early, for one must perceive that he greatly enjoys the occasion.
I look over to where Sebastian K- dances with Rebecca G-, and am like to think 'tis entirely so.
One might, goes on Biffle, send the carriage back for him –
O, poo, says I, as I must stay 'til some very late hour to demonstrate how very much Lady B- is in health, can convey him in my carriage. 'Tis no great matter to come by way of M- House or to send Ajax on after he has left me at home.
'Twould be most exceeding kind, says Biffle smiling down at me, and I am in some suspicion that Sebastian would be grateful of an opportunity to hold converse with you concerning his visit to St Petersburg -
(I sigh inwardly, for my tale concerning Miss G-'s fine marriage to a Russian nobleman of exalted rank and liberal opinions that pose exceeding great risque in those parts, has quite took on a life of its own.)
La, says I, I am like to think that Sir Vernon goes undertake any matters I might be concern’d with in those parts very discreet thro’ his diplomatick connexions.
Biffle smiles again and says, tho’ he is entire sure Lady B- would make quite the epitome of a diplomatick wife, her friends must be exceeding glad that she is not gone to those chilly parts.
I say that Sir Vernon is an excellent fellow that I will ever hold friend, but I am entire content’d in my widowhood.
So comes round the hour when all begin summon their carriages, and not only have I not swoon’d, the mirrors inform me I am in quite excellent looks, and indeed, I do not even feel in particular tir’d, that I attribute partly to Docket’s prudent habit of making me go rest beforehand with a cool cloth over my eyes, and partly to the vivifying effects of a fine ball.
I go up to Sebastian K- that lingers about the hall and say, I hope he is ready to depart, for Ajax is just bringing around my carriage, and he says, 'tis most exceeding kind of me, for he did not want to keep Vi up this late in her present condition, tho’ she would not complain.
And when we are ensconc’d in my carriage, he says to me that there are one or two little matters upon which he would greatly desire my sage counsel afore he sails for Bergen, but he confides that I have a deal of matters upon hand at present –
Poo, says I, but 'tis true, there is a deal of business I have to be about at present. Why do you not come take a glass of brandy with me afore you go on to M- House?
Has become a young fellow of considerable address, but stutters a little when conceding to this proposal.
When we arrive at my pretty house, I desire him to go on into the parlour and stir up the fire, for at this time of night is a little chill, whilst I give my instructions to Hector.
Sebastian K- is still standing before the fire when I go in: I wave him into a chair and sit down vis-à-vis.
Sure, says I, 'tis an entire age since I have seen you to say more than hello or goodbye.
He swallows, and says, before he says anything about himself, he would desire to offer to enquire, should I like, about the former Miss G- at St Petersburg.
Hector comes in with brandy and madeira and a plate of little savoury biscuits.
After he departs I shake my head and say, pray, Mr K-, do not do any such thing. I fear 'twould be entire prejudicial to your own enterprizes. Sir Vernon goes about most exceeding discreet to discover have she and her husband been exil’d to Siberia, and if so, how one might communicate and perchance send somewhat to ease their condition.
He gives a little laugh and says, sure, he should have known Lady B- had that matter entirely under hand. But the other matter is – he clears his throat – Herr P- shows a considerable disposition towards business, that one had not anticipat’d from hearing about his design to go live like a wild Indian in the American forests.
Why, says I, I do not doubt that he is a fellow of considerable intelligence wheresoever he goes apply it (save, thinks I, to certain matters of proper social conduct).
'Tis so, says Sebastian K-. But – he frowns – shows some inclination to be rather too sharp in the recommendations he puts forward. I am not sure one would care to give him too much influence –
I confide, says I, that you are right. Was I you, I should go about to ensure that your father does not come to lean upon him while you are away.
He nods his head and says, he will go warn certain of the senior clerks – for he is like to think that does he express his concern directly to his father he will pooh-pooh it – and mention the matter to Jacob S-.
'Tis well, says I, you come to be a prudent man of business.
I pour him some more brandy, and ask how their business does. He tells me most particular about how well Phoebe’s polishes do, and Seraphine and Euphemia’s pickles and preserves.
Sure can I not tell that a young fellow has a considerable admiration for me, I shall have lost all my wont’d skills.
And in due course I come about to saying how very prepossesst I am with the way he has took up their interest, and he begins stammer again, and I stand and go over to him and take his hands and draw him to his feet and kiss him and say, would wish to show gratitude.
Am like to apprehend that he has acquir’d some experience with women upon his travels, but he shows most extreme gratify’d, adding that sure he would never presume upon this mark of favour.
I wish him well upon his travels.