Josiah asks Eliza, very quietly, is she sure about this? Clorinda is almost sleepwalking, a dazed expression on her lovely face. Eliza only knows that they are all three together in one place at last and she does not want them flying apart. And somehow, with a certain amount of awkwardness, here they are, all three of them, in Clorinda’s very large bed. Perhaps, she thinks, they will just all sleep in a pile like kittens, and that would be comforting, but it’s not quite what she wants, that she hasn’t dared to dream of…
The wild girl, absent these many years while Eliza has been bearing and rearing children, running the household and taking care of the ironworks, that she thought perhaps would never return, after Quintus was born and she was so ill, lifts herself up onto one elbow and says, my dears, I have always wondered what it is that a crack courtesan does with a fellow, might you bring yourselves to demonstrate? (For this is something she has longed to find out.)
Clorinda sits up with a soft giggle and there is an endearing little dimple beside her mouth as she says, o, our dearest Mr F- does not really require enormous exertion of my professional skills, I do not have to go about making immense efforts to arouse his interest -
Indeed, says Josiah, that first time 'twas quite the reverse problem. Sure I thought 'twould be all over before it began. They look at one another and indeed, Eliza can observe that there is no need to arouse his interest.
Clorinda looks at her. Are you sure, my dearest? For I should not like you to be distresst at all.
She reaches over and squeezes Clorinda’s hand. Sure she does not know what it is that she feels, but she loves them both so very much. My darling, I long to see.
It is really a very pretty thing to observe, in particular those final moments as Clorinda throws her lovely head back with gasping cries, then flops down laughing onto the groaning Josiah.
She rolls off and into Eliza’s waiting arms. Eliza kisses her dear friend, who makes her dear husband so very happy, who lights up her own life. And goes on kissing, not knowing what is happening, or what to do, because she has never in her life felt anything like this and yet it feels as though it is why she has brought all this about.
My dearest darling, murmurs Clorinda through kissing, there should be entirely no objection did you move your hand a little, did it please you to do so. And did you shift your leg, thus -
This is indeed a very fine suggestion that brings thoughts of her own towards other things, that have Clorinda making little squeeks. Looking up, she sees Josiah smiling at them.
The wild girl looks back at him. He must have thought she had gone forever, but now she has come back.
And then she is entirely lost in what is happening.
Afterwards they all embrace together very warmly, kisses being placed wherever lips find a spot: travellers who have crossed into a new country but there together.