The Contessa seems sincerely affect’d by the intelligence that we propose to return to our native shores, even weeps a little over me and declares that do I ever return to Naples, her palazzo is entirely open to me. She also conveys to me certain messages and packages for exiles in London. Sure she does excellent work for the revolutionary cause, while appearing to the world as a silly old woman of high rank that takes doating fancies. I kiss her very fondly and say does she ever visit London, I shall make her known to my circle, that includes the sister of the Duke of M- and his new Duchess, and go about to give a soirée in her honour. I also promise to send her some English novels, of which she is very fond, for she reads English quite fluent tho’ speaks it but haltingly.
She sighs that perchance her travelling days are over, to which I laugh and say sure she is quite ageless. We part as excellent friends as well as conspirators.
I think I have gone about to convince Roberto that while a mad English milady may be very fine for an episode of amuzement, such a one is perhaps not what he would desire for any longer acquaintance. For I make scenes, that now we are shortly to depart, he offers to neglect me, sure, he only made up to me in order that I might convey messages for him. (I mind me of Miss A- as a model.) I also complain that he has never endeavour’d to introduce me to his mother - at which thought his colour turns somewhat sickly.
In between making scenes and scolding, I become very passionate towards him, to such a degree that I daresay he would be glad to call upon the aid of the Royal Navy. I am in some confidence that he will not think of me with any great wistfullness and will be very glad of some convent-bred bride, tho’ 'twould not surprize me did he in future go boasting in masculine company concerning our amuzements.
Altho’ I confide that he will be reliev’d to see the back of me, he nonetheless expresses himself very civil concerning the aid I have given to the cause: no doubt he considers that I may yet be of use. I also express myself entirely pleas’d with the way he deals with the various business to do with my late husband’s estate. Thus we part on good terms but without lingering longings.
Marcello also seems affect’d by our intentions to leave. The villa now, indeed, belongs to him, tho’ he most civilly says that do we ever wish to visit again, we are all most entirely welcome.
One morning I come across him standing in the room that was the late Marquess’s study, looking very mournful. He sighs and says he greatly misses his dearest master here, where everything reminds him, as he did not in London where everything was strange. I say to him that should he find it necessary to quit Naples for a time he must know that he will always be welcome to take refuge in London.
I make mention of various continuing matters to do with the Marquess’s estate, such as that certain portions of the annual income that has been left to me for the purpose will be passt along. I also convey to him Euphemia’s request concerning the very excellent olive oil that is made in this part of the world, that she would be most exceeding gratefull could he see his way to sending us a good quantity of after the pressing each year, also some olives. Hector has also desir’d me to remind him to keep his left up and mind that defence is as important as offence in the pugilistick art.
Marcello gives a little laugh, then throws himself to kneel at my feet, takes my hand and kisses it and declares that he will ever be at la bella signora’s service.
That is most extreme kind of you, Marcello – please, rise, sure you go about to embarrass me quite – and do I ever find myself in requirement of your talents, be assur’d that I will let you know.
I look down at him, and add: I apprehend that matters are very different here from what they are in England, and I would not forbid you the use of your stiletto should it be necessary in the cause, but I should be in hopes that you would give due consideration to the employment of other methods and stratagems before you deploy it.
Marcello rises to his feet, and declares that my wish is his command, and indeed, his late master had made some such similar request of him. But that there are times when philosophickal arguments will not answer.
Indeed they will not, says I. I confide, I go on, that Guiseppina is one of your confederates, and that her reputation as a strega, that I understand to be what we would call in English a witch, tho’ of course in England we no longer have any superstitious beliefs in witchcraft, is most materially usefull in keeping the local peasantry away from the villa. I have given her a suitable compliment for her kitchen services, but should there be anything else proper that I should give her, or if any sudden need should arise, I should much desire than you would tell me.
Marcello indicates that la bella signora hits off the matter very precise. He adds that he has already spoke to il bello scozzese about the possibility of setting up a secret printing press, and perchance persuading Alf to come and teach him the business.
I am about to say Alf? and then mind that this must be the journeyman printer of the brotherhood that was so very helpfull in the matter of Mr O’C-.
(I do not reveal my amuzement at the appelation of il bello scozzese but sure I shall go about to teaze Sandy with it.)
That is a most excellent idea, say I, for I had rather Marcello was getting his hands black with ink than red with blood – sure I am really become quite fond of him tho’ my mind will be much easier does he remain in his native parts.
After this interview I go out to the terrace, where Lord G- R- and il bello scozzese (that indeed shows the signs of sunburn from neglecting to wear his hat) are drinking wine. They are quite sighing with relief over having at last dispatcht the late Marquess’s collection, that was a tiresome business requiring considerable amounts of bribery and the intervention of the British Consul. Sure they wish they had thought of seeing whether the Admiral might have been able to contrive sending the cases under naval escort.
Hector brings me a glass of wine, and I look over the olive groves. Sure this has been – in spite of the business with the Junker - a most agreeable change. But now I am entirely hankering to be at home, even tho’ I know that this will not be reacht until we have undergone an exceeding tedious journey at an adverse time of year.
I find my mind making a pretty picture of my darlings and their family in this place – sure I think the children would like it most extremely - and tears come to my eyes, for I miss them so much. But then I think of the dangers from the sun, and the risques of diseases, and really, 'twould not be the best of ideas.
I must ask Euphemia whether she will let me send copies of her fine Neapolitan receipts to my dearest one.
O, pretty fellows with fine eyes are all very well, and the dear Admiral will always be a great favourite, but indeed they cannot compare with my very dearest belov’d F-s, that are the darlings of my heart.
Also I long to see how Flora does.