I confide 'twould be a little vulgar to go call upon Hester quite immediate, with O- House, I doubt not, in turmoil, and all the business of mourning to be contriv’d on top of everything. But 'tis but a day afore I go there, for I wish to find out how Nan does – 'tis give out has borne a fine girl - and also how Hester bears with this sudden shocking news.
When I arrive the morn at O- House, that is very proper deckt to demonstrate its mourning condition, I am shown to Hester’s sitting-room, where she is dresst entire proper as a recent widow, but her face tells an entire different story.
O, dearest C-, she cries. Quite the prettyest infant, that will be christen’d Diana, and Nan doing so well, says 'twas less of an ordeal than she fear’d. And, oh my dear, is’t wrong that I cannot feel that sorrow that society would expect?
The wrong, says I, is on the side of one that was such a husband as any would find it hard to mourn. But I daresay you may contrive to look suitable sober when callers come condole.
She laughs, and says, there is a hymn that Little Lou pickt up from being in the kitchens learning cooking from Arabella: my chains fell off, my heart was free -
Do I not know it myself? says I, 'tis an entire favourite with Dorcas and Prue, will go singing it about their work.
She smiles, and says she doubts not that Lady B-'s servants go singing about their tasks.
But, she says, this will all bring about a great change.
Why, says I, I confide that Lord N-, as we must now style him, will entire adorn his station, is very well-spoke of in our circles –
She dabs at her eyes with a lace handkerchief and says, he is quite the best of sons. Has already writ to his godfather, that he would wish advize him at this time, and has gone assure Em that he will by no means force her to marry some hideous old hunks: but sure would be most improper to go talk of matrimony at this time anyway.
Quite so, says I. And does she continue purpose keep house for him?
Indeed, says Hester, along with that dear good creature Cousin Lalage. She sighs. Would have wisht to do somewhat for her before – but I was in no position to take her about in Society and give her a season when she was younger, and did not then have any friend that might have done so. But perchance now - for she is not at all gone off, is she? –
('Tis by no means the occasion to enlighten dear Hester upon Cousin Lalage’s disposition.) I say that she is a fine-looking young woman, and has a very nice taste in dress.
Hester smiles a little and says, sure you are not so old yourself, dear C-, and I hear are ever in demand at balls &C.
O, poo, says I, once one has the reputation as the exquisite or the fascinating Lady B- there will be a deal of fellows come about, so that they may go say to their friends, not so remarkable as give out, mayhap in her hey-day 'twas another matter.
Hester laughs a little. 'Tis not what I hear, she says. But, my dear, I daresay you will like to go see Nan and Diana?
Most certain, says I, so she rings for a footman to take me to the lying-in chamber, where I find Nan sitting up in bed with her child in her arms, talking nonsense to her.
O, Lady B-! she cries, how good of you to come. Do come look at my sweet Diana, is a most amiable infant and takes the breast entire well.
I say the proper things – tho’ indeed, have never seen any infant as lovely as my sweet Flora, so tiny and so perfect – and remark that there are a deal of babies at present, my cook has just had twins, I hear Mrs S- is come up from Hampshire so that she may have her lying-in at M- House, and sure 'tis give out that any day now Lady J- is like to present the Admiral with a pledge.
And, Lady B-, I should very much like it would you concede to be one of her godmothers.
That is most exceeding flattering, says I, but sure there must be other ladies –
I was intending asking Her Grace as well, but sure, you have been such a fairy godmother to us – I observe that she demonstrates that volatility of the lying-in time by becoming a little tearfull.
Why, says I, do you put it thus, I shall be entire enchant’d.
She smiles and then says, 'tis a pity she must come into a house that we must shroud in entire hypocritickal gloom for the proper period. But we are still oblig’d to be most exceeding particular.
Fie, says I, I confide that you will be going down to D- Chase afore long, and 'twill be entirely Liberty Hall.
She smiles down at Diana and says, sure you will like that, will you not? and then sighs a little and says, she supposes U-, she means N-, will be oblig’d go to Monks’ G-, poor thing.
I say that I will not linger and tire her, but 'tis good to see her in such health and spirits and with such an excellent fine daughter, and how does her husband?
O, entire delight’d, is not like to groan over her not being a son. I am sure he would have lik’d to see you, but N- desir’d him to go over to N- House to give some brotherly advice.
I take my leave and look in again on Hester, that has Selina upon her lap, purring mightyly. I say that can I be of any service, I am quite entire at her disposal, and will call again.
I also look in upon Mrs Atkins, that has lately heard from her husband in the antipodes and is in very good spirits as a result.
In the afternoon I am bidden to a convockation at M- House concerning what might be done about Herr P-. 'Tis a somewhat formal matter conduct’d in Biffle’s office, with Viola and Mr K- in attendance.
Mr K- makes most exceeding civil to me, remarks upon the exceeding good business I have put him in the way of with Phoebe’s polishes and Seraphine and Euphemia’s preserves, and then we all sit about a table and tea is brought.
Well, says Biffle, this is somewhat of a tangle and we do not quite see our way forward yet.
Mr K- says, he would be entire reluctant to go to law over the matter: lawsuits are very uncertain things, can come at a very high price even does one win, and may drag on for inordinate long times. He hears that there are those in the Bavarian government would be exceeding eager to talk to Herr P- -
I confide, says I, 'tis entirely so, but I am in some concern that, in such a case, he would rat and go inform upon his former comrades.
I observe that Mr K- is perchance of the opinion that this would be none such a bad thing, but fortunately, Biffle and Viola consider 'tis not an acceptable matter.
There is a general pause of silent cogitation and then I say, I am like to suppose that we may entirely punish Herr P- by giving him what he formerly gave out as his highest desire: a passage to America where he has a deal of disciples, or so 'tis give out, most entire eager to go live close to nature in an ideal community such as he has describ’d so very telling.
And sure, has not Reynaldo di S-, his great acolyte, gain’d a very great number of admirers in Boston and the parts thereabouts? The soil is, as 'twere, prepar’d in readyness.
I go on, and sure, at this early stage of such an enterprize, 'twould not be prudent to take his wife and a babe still at breast –
They all look at me and I see that Biffle is endeavouring suppress a grin.
But, says Viola, how will his wife and her family live?
Why, says I, Herr H- makes a more than passable living with his flute, and, was she not prohibit’d by her husband’s edicts, I am sure that Frau P- would be able to pick up her connexion in German lessons, making translations, &C.
Mr K- interjects that he ever found her work as German correspondence clerk quite entire satisfactory and would have no objections to putting her in the way of such work. (I think he may still have a little hankering for the fair Gretchen himself.)
Why, he says, after we have all turn’d over and consider’d the plan, when I consider how much I was like to lose from his shocking sly behaviour, the fare to Boston is an entire bagatelle.
We are agreed, then? asks Biffle. I will go instruct Fosticue to present this matter to Herr P- -
Perchance, says I, with his authority to sail ready in his hand –
Thus we are come to a very agreeable conclusion over the matter, and 'tis with a sense of some satisfaction I go call upon Martha S-, that is now ensconc’d in a suite of rooms in M- House to await her lying-in, that she does not anticipate yet a while, but has been thought entire prudent for her to travel now rather than later.
I find her in an agreeable little parlour with her feet upon a footstool and Deborah playing about and chattering on the floor.
I beg her not to get up, and mayhap I might ring for tea? And what a fine girl Deborah grows.
Martha looks at her extreme doating and says, she does that. She then sighs a little and says, she sees the sense in the matter, and that 'tis entire prudent an undertaking and sure Little V shows most extreme hospitable, but she was a little sorry to leave her hens, tho’ has left very carefull instructions about 'em.
La, says I, you become the entire country-woman.
She laughs and says, but 'tis an entire age since I saw you, dear C-, how are matters with you?