I am about my never-decreasing pile of correspondence, when comes Hector to tell me that Matt Johnson has come to the back door and wonders whether Her Ladyship is at liberty?
Sure, says I, pushing the tiresome business away. Ask him would he like some coffee or should he prefer ale, and indeed whether there is other refreshment we might provide, for I daresay he has been up all hours catching villains.
Shortly after Hector shows in Matt Johnson, follow’d by Celeste with a mug of ale and some bread and cheese. I desire him to make himself comfortable and refresh himself.
He begs my pardon for eating and drinking first, but indeed has been up since very early the morn.
Sure, says I, 'tis understood, you are wakefull about protecting us from malefactors.
He smiles at me and says indeed he endeavours to do so.
Eventual he wipes his mouth, expresses thankfullness, and says he has been about the matter of Molly Binns.
He thought 'twas best not to tell her too much, but to ask certain questions about this Mr Perkins as there is a similar fellow connect’d with certain crimes and these are interrogations we must make to clear his name.
Very prudent, says I.
And she has been being kept by this Perkins some while now, a most respectable fellow, indeed she has some supposition that he is of higher station than gives out, for he wears most exceeding fine underlinen, and would have no need to go around robbing &C.
I say to her, he says, there have been sad cases of aristocratick fellows that had no need turning highwayman.
O, says she, he is a sober prudent fellow of middling years, no wild young mohock, indeed exceeding carefull, not in the least extravagant – at which she sighs a little, for altho’ one can see he keeps her in good style, as these matters go in Covent Garden, I confide he does not lavish wealth upon her; I wonder is she able to save against future want.
Sure does not surprize me! says I. I suppose 'tis too much to hope that his fine linen bears his crest, or that he keeps on any seal ring?
Indeed, she gives him out remarkable cautious in such matters. But I have put certain observers to the matter to see where he goes to when he quits her apartments –
Why, says I, sure that is quite above and beyond, you must let me give you somewhat for the expense of the matter.
He laughs, and says, sure 'tis a matter of certain urchins, that wish to gain interest in his business, and so he gives this out as a test of their skills.
E’en so, says I, you might convey 'em some reward for their exertions.
'Tis very good of you, Your Ladyship.
O, poo, says I, I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth and can remember when I would be gratefull for a silver sixpence. Which, I go on with a smile, many gentlemen that visit’d backstage at the theatre were wont to give for a kiss from little C-; kept me in sweetmeats and trinkets.
But, says I as Matt Johnson scowls somewhat, sure a kiss was all they got, for all at the theatre lookt out for me.
(Thus it was that I preserv’d my maiden treasure until I bestow’d it upon Mr J-, when I was a bouncing girl of some fourteen summers.)
He smiles and says, sure that is quite a pretty tale.
Why, says I, my dear mama was greatly valu’d as wardrobe mistress, which I think went somewhat to the matter.
He sighs and says, well, he should be about his business, and he will see what his watchers find out.
I am most exceeding gratefull, says I.
Sure I feel that I begin to come about to find some means to bring Lord N- to better and more generous behaviour towards his family. I make a little calculation of what 'twould cost to keep a Covent Garden Miss in good style: indeed, 'tis a sum that would go dress his daughters a deal better.
But thinking upon the perils that lurk about young girls, I go convoke with Euphemia as to whether there is anything further we might be doing for Nell’s family.
Oh, Your Ladyship, says Euphemia, they entire bless your name: two of 'em fitt’d out and got into a good place and indeed one where they may be together when their duties allow. Your fine generosity in the matter of coals and food and sending for a surgeon: they do not know how they could ever repay you.
O, tush, says I. Let us not talk of repayment, 'tis quite entire embarrassing. Let us go convoke over what we may serve at this drawing-room meeting.
In the afternoon I have a meeting concerning the optickal dispensary but matters go a deal smoother than they are wont about the orphanage. The on-dit has got about that the Admiral has found occasion to come to these shores in order to go visit poor Lady J- and this is consider’d most entire fitt’d to the very romantick tale of their marriage.
And – 'tis a most rare occurrence – I have a quiet e’en to myself. Euphemia promises me a nice little supper, and I take a little madeira, for 'tis entire sanitive, and read, for this is a pleasure I lately have too little time for.
I am quite engrosst when comes Hector and says Mrs F- comes calling.
O, I cry, leaping up, send her in at once - for I am fear’d that there is some bad news.
Comes in my darling Eliza and I run to her, saying, is there some harm come to one or other of the children? has there been some accident?
My darling kisses me and says indeed not, she just took a notion to come visit, as our dear Grand Turk goes out to some manly gathering.
Why, my dearest, 'tis an entire pleasure to see you – will you take some madeira? or I can send for port – but sure I see a little worry in your expression –
- O my darling, says I, 'tis not about the Admiral, is’t?
No, loveliest of C-s, sure we cannot be jealous of your antient affection for that excellent fellow, especial when he must be in a taking about poor Lady J-.
She sighs. I hand her a glass of madeira, for indeed I think 'twill do her good.
She looks down into the glass and sighs again, then takes a sip.
She then looks up at me and I see a little dampness upon her eyelashes.
O, my dearest love, what is ado?
She puts down her glass upon a little table, and comes over to bury her head in my lap, and I can tell she sobs.
I stroke her hair until she calms a little.
She looks up at me and says, sure she is a wick’d, jealous, doubting creature –
Really, my love? says I.
O, she cries, 'tis almost nothing to her do I perchance spent an agreeable night with some fellow that is an antient favourite, but lately she goes about in Society and she hears how much one or 'tother young lady is quite extreme in love with Lady B- -
Why, my darling, 'tis a mere manner of speaking about girlish enthusiasms, signifies nothing whatsoever.
You do not go incline to any of 'em?
Sure, says I, here is a very foolish wild girl. How can my dearest suppose anything the like?
She sits back on her heels, and says, sure, her hair grows greyer by the day, 'tis no longer a stray thread or so, there come visible wrinkles upon her face, and sure her form shows the ravages of bearing.
I take her face 'twixt my hands and proceed to kissing it. Dearest, I say, dearest, dearest Eliza, you are my best belov’d of all wild girls, what has any of that to do with the matter? I have lov’d you this age: indeed, I confide from when I receiv’d your letter to say you would desire me to ensure that Mr F- put on his muffler when going out in damp chill weather.
O! she cries, I felt such a provincial worryer writing thus to you.
But 'tis true, says I, he does go suffer with his chest in such weather does he not take care, or one take care for him. 'Twas an entire prudent thought.
Now, my darling, says I, let us go sit upon the sopha together and endeavour to fathom the meaning of this distress. For sure, we have both seen many changes within a very few years, and 'tis ever unsettling.
So we sit upon the sopha with our arms about each other and her dear head upon my shoulder.
Sure, says I, 'tis the most agreeable of things when we are in triangle, but indeed, 'tis also most exceeding pleasant to be women together and talk of matters that concern us.
O, cleverest of C-s, says Eliza, nuzzling at my neck, sure I think you quite hit it off, and that that is a thing that we do not have enough of of late. Why, there are times when I quite long to convoke with my darling about Bess, that is an entire pattern of the woes of her time of life, that afflict not just herself but all around her. Will even sometimes go be a little sharp with our precious Flora, that she was wont to entire doat upon, and brangles with Meg far more than us’d to.
Dearest, says I, kissing her upon the cheek, I daresay – sure I would not know myself, not yet – that Bess coming to womanhood renders you a little melancholick? For sure, you have rear’d a most excellent girl, but now she goes become a young woman -
O, wisest of C-s!
Also, says I, was it not for the risque, I confide you would desire another child or two.
My dearest sighs. O, I find myself so exceeding jealous when I see my friends go increase, or have fine babes. But 'twould be entire imprudent to think of it.
Yes, my darling, sure we could not get on without our wild girl. And now, I am like to think Euphemia has an exceeding fine supper for us, and once we are refresht, perchance we might towsell-mowsell a little.