I am about my correspondence one morn when comes Hector to say Mrs D- K- is at the door, seems somewhat agitat’d, am I at home to her. Why, says I, send her in, and go desire coffee and any buns or so that Euphemia may have about.
Enters Mrs D- K- that indeed looks exceeding agitat’d. I wave her into a chair and go sit down vis-à-vis.
Arrives Celeste with coffee and some fruitcake.
I pour coffee and desire Mrs D- K- to help herself to cake.
Well, says I, what’s ado?
There is a silence and then she says, she scarce knows how to begin upon what has fallen out.
I put on my listening face.
'Twas only yesterday, she says, and yet - She takes a drink of coffee – I had gone out, she goes on, about an errand for the old b---h, and as I came back thro’ the square, there was Lord K-, that goes about dogging my heels, and I am so weary’d by this pursuit that I went be very short with him and said somewhat about finding him underfoot wherever I go –
And he became very strange in manner, declar’d that he had offend’d me, was a wretch’d fellow should be punisht, I was in some concern he would make a publick spectacle by falling to his knees and begging forgiveness –
And I quite ran back to the house, in a considerable state, and arriv’d just as Captain C- was about to go out, for is us’d to go take a constitutional stroll in the Park at about that hour. He perceiv’d that I was in a considerable taking, and drew me aside into the small parlour, that was quite desert’d, to ask me what was ado, and whether some fellow had insult’d me. Sure I was in such upset that I commenc’d weep upon him and told him somewhat of how I am so beleagur’d by Lord K-'s attentions that I know not what to do.
So he rang for some tea, and made me sit down, and provid’d me with a handkerchief and said that has heard whispers that Lord K- has curious tastes and was in some concern whether he should go disclose the matter to me, or mayhap see could he discover more on the subject –
La, says I, is the cat out of the bag thus far, I will go say that has come to my knowledge that he is a patron of a certain lady not’d for the provision of special pleasures to gentlemen.
Oh, says Mrs D- K- with a somewhat bewilder’d look. But, as I became calmer, Captain C- said, he confid’d that the middle of the afternoon with the household in a bustle around us was not the time to discuss this business, and might we contrive to some occasion when we might be assur’d of a little privacy? So, we arrang’d that we might convoke at night after the old b---h was abed, and Sir B- and Lady W- would be out at a party.
And we therefore met together as had arrang’d, and –
She falls silent again and then says, o, what a very fine man he is. Said he was like to suppose that Lord K- was not like to make a wife happy, but indeed, sees that he is what is consider’d a very eligible match on account of his rank and position. Says he has come to great admiration for me, but consider’d that he is but an invalid’d officer, that is dependent upon his own efforts for a living, has an independence that would enable him live in reasonable comfort in Nova Scotia, but did not feel that he could offer -
So, she says, I know not how 'twas, but I felt myself able to ask him, had he not heard the gossip about me in my marriage?
And, she goes on, he spoke so very kind of what I must have suffer’d with such a wretch as my late husband, that none has a good word for, and should not like to see me make another marriage that might be equally unhappy tho’ he supposes Lord K-‘s defects considerable dissimilar. Dares say I might have come to an entire disinclination to marry at all, but, could I look on him with any liking, would be most delight’d to give me the protection of his name and a refuge in Nova Scotia.
She raises her head from where she has been gazing up upon her hands twisting together, and says, 'twas so decent, so honourable a proposal, that I felt I could not conceal the truth, and told him of how my husband’s death came about.
And o, he said that 'twas no more than the fellow deserv’d, and that he would hope that he would never put a wife into such desperation that she struck out blindly.
So, she says, the outcome is, that we purpose be marry’d and go there together, but we are both sensible that 'twould be prudent go about the business exceeding discreet.
I rise and go over to my pretty desk, and, concealing how I do so, open the secret drawer and take out the hatpin.
Here, says I, offering it to her, you may wish dispose of this yourself.
She looks upon it with a little shudder, and looks at me and says, might you do so, Lady B-?
I nod. I also desire her to consider me entire a confederate in making their plans for escape. Why, says I, perchance you might go stay in entire secrecy with Captain P- and his lady, that I apprehend are about gathering up the wherewithal for Captain C-'s purpost horse-farm, until such time as the two of you make take your passage to Halifax. (For Belinda knows a deal about having a bad husband.)
Might I so? she asks. For do I remain in Town I confide that Lord K- will still be about a-bothering me. And 'twill be hard to be about the W-s and not let anything slip as to how matters stand.
I say that I will write post-haste in the matter, and, sure, I wish her happy, Captain C- is an excellent fellow.
After she has gone – after sobbing a little upon my shoulder – I go at once to my desk to indite a letter on the matter to dear Belinda, sand it, seal it, and ring for Hector so that I may desire him to send Timothy at once to the post office. Sure I think this propos’d match will answer very well.
In the afternoon I go take my promist ride with the F- children in the Park, along with Milord that has desir’d accompany us. 'Tis the entire prettyest sight: Bess quite queenly upon Radegund, but holding very firm to the leading rein of Mouse, that my sweet Flora sits upon quite as if born to’t, and looks around at the company that is about, but minds where she is and that she should show attentive. I observe that there are some fellows that already mark Bess, that is become a fine well-grown girl.
Come trotting up to greet us Lady Louisa along with Em and Cousin Lalage, that says, are these all the F-s’ brood? At which Lady Louisa tells her that there is also Harry that is learning be an engineer in Leeds, and Bess goes say somewhat of how he does.
And then comes up to us Tom O-, that is still Bess’s devot’d boyish admirer, and there is some general exchange of gossip about how matters go among their dancing-class set. Milord shows an example of excellent ton by engaging Cousin Lalage in conversation, and she comes about to mind that Eddy and Geoff are ever speaking of him, and that is no doubt where they have had their manners polisht.
While all are engag’d in agreeable converse, Em brings Blackthorn up beside me and says in lower’d tones, might she come call upon me one morn? Indeed you may, says I.
We all return to R- House, where I have been bidden to come to family dinner the e’en, and I go to my fine reserv’d chamber where I have a change of clothes kept so that I need not go around in my riding-habit, and Williams comes along to assist me and to furbish up my hair &C.
I go along to the school-room, where I find Mrs L- alone about the task of marking lessons. She jumps up, saying, O, Lady B-, did not expect you here.
I wave to her to be seat’d again and say, just came by in order to give her these, that is cards for Mr L- and herself for my soirée.
O, Lady B-, she says, sure we could never have anticipat’d –
O, poo, says I, should have wisht to have invit’d Mr L- afore now, but consider’d that as he was not living in Town, might pose difficulties for him. And sure you have been about a deal in the scientifick set, and I have heard several of 'em speak very favourable of your columns conveying scientifick knowledge to the publick.
But – she continues.
Tush, says I, 'tis a free and easy occasion for my friends, among whom I hope I may include Mr L- and yourself?
O- ! she cries, blushing very pretty. 'Tis most exceeding kind.
'Twill be an entire pleasure to see you there, says I. O, hark? Is that Meg goes practise?
Mrs L- nods and I say I will just go have a word or two with her (for I have been askt to sound out how she considers this school proposition).
So I go to where Meg is very conscientious undertaking exercizes, and say, how now, and how do matters with her?
O, she says, has Mama told you this notion that I should be sent away to school?
La, says I, I do not think 'tis a matter of sending, but ‘twas thought you might like it.
She looks at me with a little quiver of the mouth and says, 'tis not to get me out of the way while Bess makes her come-out?
O, poo, says I. I daresay there may be some thought that Mrs L- now has a deal on her hands with the nursery-set – Meg nods – and that you might find it agreeable to be somewhere where you are not the middle F- sister but Meg F- in her own right.
She jumps up from the piano-stool and comes hug me. 'Twould indeed be so, she says.