We go into breakfast upon our return to the house, and find the Honble Edward and Geoffrey sitting with Sandy and Sebastian K- and all expatiating upon the very excellent swimming they have just enjoy’d, quite entire got into the habit at A- and find there is a stretch of the stream here that will serve for the purpose.
Lord U- looks at 'em and says, he hopes 'tis a well-shelter’d stretch of the stream. (I confide they go bathe in an entire state of nature, and a very pleasing sight must be, for are all well-set-up fellows: but indeed there are matters of protecting maidenly modesty to be consider’d.)
O, indeed, says the Honble Edward, 'tis well away from the footpath and willows grow along the bank. But is’t not prime sport?
Sandy smiles and says, one of the best, but sure there is no comparison to swimming in the sea. They look envious.
Come in Lord and Lady O-, that I daresay may have been about some most enjoyable indoor exercize, for they set to the fine spread laid with most excellent appetite.
I pour myself some more coffee – sure Arabella entire has the knack of it, for 'tis excellent – and say, 'tis really shocking poor ton, but might I beg an opportunity to convoke with Mr MacD- upon a matter of business? For, says I, I purpose go visit my Shropshire estate after I have been at Lord P-'s, and there are one or two little matters upon which I should desire his advice.
The Marquess says that there can be entirely no objection, and we could have the library to ourselves this forenoon, he supposes, do we like.
That is most exceeding kind, says I, if 'tis agreeable to Mr MacD-?
Sandy looks at me in some amuzement and says, how could it be otherwise? He is ever quite entire at Lady B-'s service. (Sure he sits too far away for me to kick him.)
So after breakfast is done, and I have had Sophy put me on some suitable morning-dress, I go sit in the library, that sure indeed is a very fine one, that I should desire to explore further when I have leisure to it.
Enters Sandy, saying, how now, dearest sibyl, what problem of business do you have that I may solve? – and, by the way, Mr K- is in some desire to convoke with you over matters of lead that are pertinent to their interests.
La, says I, 'twas but a plausible excuse for some private convockation without Mr Geoffrey M- bursting in upon us or Bess desiring me to tell the girls about the theatre or some such interruption. No, 'twas not about my mine, 'twas a troubling matter that came about while I was at Q-.
Sandy looks at me and says, he supposes 'tis no matter that would require G- to call out Sir V- P-, is it?
Sure, can I not avoid the attentions of an antient ram, I shall have lost all my wont’d skills. No, 'twas the Earl of I-.
I open to him the matter, and what the Contessa had told me, and the Earl’s connexion to Mr R- O-.
Sandy looks thoughtfull. I wonder, he says – sure one has the highest esteem for the Contessa and the acuity of her judgement, but is’t possible that she did not interrogate too close into the politickal leanings of a fine amuzing young fellow that was an English milord? If I am not out in my calculations, I confide that she must have known him at about the time when Naples was under the Napoleonick yoke -
Why, says I, when he might have been entire sincere in any sympathies he expresst towards rising up against 'em, might he not?
We look at one another and remark that sure one would be interest’d to learn further of his itinerary upon his Grand Tour.
And then he goes succeed as Earl and is oblig’d to live according to his rank, says I, all entire proper, but –
Perchance, says I, I should contrive to go make friendly to Lady I-: talk to her about charity &C. That is do I have occasion to meet her again, for sure we are not in the same circles. Tho’ I daresay she has no notion what her husband is about, might nonetheless provide some intelligence.
Another thought, says Sandy, is to enquire of Lord O- whether in his days as Lord Anthony he ever came across the gentleman.
Indeed, says I, mayhap 'tis somewhat I may raise do I go be his amanuensis.
What? Sandy raises his eyebrows exceedingly.
He goes write some account of his travels, but finds it comes not easy to his pen, that is more us’d to writing of stamens and pistils and calyxes for gentlemen that are interest’d in scientifick matters.
Why, he tells his tales very well does he so verbally. But sure there are those that go halt does it come to turning a matter into written words.
We look at one another with great fondness, for sure has been some considerable time since we convok’d. And how, says I, was the fribble-set party at A-?
Oh, says Sandy with a smile, 'twas very congenial, quite surprizing so. Sure there is nothing wrong with manly sports, provid’d they do not take up all one’s time, and exercize for the body is as imperative as for the mind. And most excellent discourse, we were quite the symposium over the dinner-table.
Why, says I, I am quite delight’d to hear it. And, I go on, all is well 'twixt you and Milord?
Sandy blushes in such a fashion that even the dour Calvinistickal glare that he puts on cannot convince me that they are otherwise than extreme happy.
I look about me and say, sure this is a library that quite exceeds, should greatly desire explore it a little.
Sure, says Sandy, are we not told that this is Liberty Hall? There could surely be no objection whatsoever. There are some fine classickal works that I daresay would rouse Lady J-'s envy.
Alas, says I, those would be beyond the reach of a silly uneducat’d creature such as I, but I daresay there may be some simple tale for children or such that would be fitt’d to my capacities.
Sandy snorts and says, perchance in antient Etrusckan.
He then sighs and says, he should go make civil – has been desir’d by both Lord O- and Lord U- to convoke over the matter of secretaries, sure 'tis entire encouraging.
'Tis so, says I, walking over to the shelves so that I may examine 'em more closely.
'Tis some while later that I emerge, having found a very fine volume of the works of Chaucer, that I go puzzle at, for have heard exceeding well of this antient work in the English tongue, but indeed has chang’d a deal since those days.
A collation has been laid in the dining-room. Bess, Lady Louisa and Dodo are about making a fine feast of it, sure indeed they are healthy young women and getting their growth. Bess goes express to me a certain resentment that they may not go swim.
Why, my dears, sure I hear 'tis very agreeable exercize, but have you not learnt the way of it, must be some concern that you would be like to become three Ophelias in the stream.
Bess sees the sense in this, and says 'twould be most uncivil to one’s host to go drown.
I ask Dodo whether they hear from her sister Lady A-?
Oh yes, says Dodo, they have gone stay at F- Grange, that is Lord A-'s fine house and estate, before they go make visits, and then join us for the Music Meetings. She has writ that 'tis all most agreeable, tho’ matters have been in a somewhat unbusiness-like way she confides. But will be time to turn a hand to that, at present she goes about acquaint herself with the place, &C.
I am pleas’d to hear it, says I, 'tis their honeymoon, there will be time enough for business.
And, says Dodo, they purpose go have a fine house-party over Yuletide at F- Grange for the whole family, will that not be entire prime?
Quite bang-up, says Bess. But, o, Lou says there are fawns in the deer-park, we purpose go look at 'em.
I smile and say I daresay one must go exceeding quiet to come up upon deer.
Lady Louisa says they are quite tame, but sure one must not fright 'em.
The three of 'em go bouncing off.
I go out with my parasol onto the lawn, where Hester sits near the fountain in her invalid chair. One has brought her a nice little plateful that she may enjoy quite pique-nique fashion. I perch upon the fountain rim and ask how she does.
O, she sighs, 'tis such a fine summer as I have never had – able to come out into the sunlight, my dear children around me, good company, such thoughtfullness generally.
She looks around and says, have I yet essay’d the maze? There is a fine maze in the gardens, had been a little over-grown but dear Tony has had the hedges clippt back so that it may be traverst.
Why, says I, not yet, but I must certainly do so. I daresay there is some trick to it so that one may not get complete lost?
She says she dares say, but alas she did not note how one contriv’d to come at the centre, where there is a very quaint sun-dial, and out again at t’other side, when U- was kind enough to push her thro’ it.
He is an excellent son, says I.
Oh, quite entirely, she says, becoming a little tearfull. They are all such good children to me, and I have been so wanting as a mother.
I take her hand. Dear Hester, says I, I do not think that one that is so belov’d by her children can have been at all wanting as a mother. Do they not all come to you quite entire as their first confidante? Sure you might not romp with 'em or take 'em about in Society, but you have, I confide, ever shown 'em a very fine affection and they have seen that.
She lays my hand against her cheek. Was there not some Roman lady said of her children, these are my jewels? Sure they are.