The Comfortable Courtesan
Clorinda is becoming increasingly accepted in Society. The F-s are also getting on and it is proposed that Josiah F- should stand as an MP. As a result of Clorinda’s contrivances, the F-s will come to reside with their family in the east wing of R- House, enabling Eliza F- to sort out the ongoing domestic problems in Lord R-’s establishment. However, a device is still needed to prevent any speculations upon the relationship between Lord R- and Mr MacD-…
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Return to Town
We make most excellent time back to Town. Tho’ I am sadden’d by the curtailment of my visit to my dear ones, indeed matters will not stand still and there is much to encompass in the days to come.
Arriving at my own pretty house, the door is open’d unto me by Timothy, that indeed manages the business very fine, is entirely neat and proper in his livery, &C, but ’tis quite a shock to me that I do not go encounter Hector quite immediate upon my return home.
I enquire whether Hector be well, or call’d away upon some troublesome matter, and Timothy communicates to me that ’tis a matter of a recital that Titus gives, that he has sent passes for to Hector.
I mind that indeed I am come somewhat in advance of expectation.
I proceed into the parlour, and indeed all is quite entirely as I might expect, ’tis clean and tidy and there are letters and cards receiv’d during my absence neatly pil’d upon my pretty desk.
I pick up the nearest pile of letters and go sit down.
Comes in Celeste with tea.
There is a letter from my very dearest Mrs T- in the antipodes, that I open with great eagerness for I long to hear how she and her children and her dear husband do; also there may be matter that I may employ to aid their excellent fine work among the unfortunate convicts.
O, I say aloud, o, o. For my dear former Miss G- writes that they are in serious contemplation of returning to England. While they have the utmost appreciation for the work I have gone undertake to make their endeavours known, they feel more and more that they need come themselves with their knowledge and the reports they have compil’d to further interest in improving the dreadfull state of affairs they find. They are encourag’d to such a plan by the consideration that there is now a fine set they have been working with that can continue along the lines they have been laying down, and a few allies that have official positions, and thus the prospect of leaving no longer resembles desertion.
They are further inclin’d to this plan and indeed they do not intend to leave forever, but in due course to return, for they grow quite amazing attacht to the place – because the scientifick expedition has accumulat’d a large quantity of specimens as well as reports upon the phaenomena of the region that they desire to send back to England in safe hands.
This is most excellent good news, for altho’ our lives find us in very different state than in earlyer days, I do most greatly long to see my dear friend again, and also her dear offspring and her admirable spouse.
Tho’ it now comes to me that I would not have suppos’d that Sir B- W- would have still been part of my set following his marriage: indeed I could never have imagin’d that Lady W- would become one of my greatest friends. Still, to go foresee a possible imbroglio is halfway to finding a way out of it, and I daresay I shall find some means of contriving that the identity ’twixt that former reckless gamester and mistress to Sir B- W- and the worthy spouse and helpmeet in scientifick observations to a clergyman will not be discover’d. (Indeed, was the identity of Miss G- with Mrs T- reveal’d, might lead to certain unwant’d speculations about myself and my suppos’d journey to Carlsbad in aid of Miss G‑.)
I look thro’ the rest of my correspondence. There is a little note from Susannah W- to inform me that, as is their habit, they are remov’d to the Somerset estate for some while, during which, she adds, that dread crocodile her mother-in-law, as ever finds that her numerous imaginary ailments require her to sojourn in Bath. Dear Mr and Mrs S- are staying with ’em, tho’ – ’tis very creditable in him – young Sebastian K- remains in Town assisting his father in the business. Does her dearest C- have some notion to a little jaunt to the country, she will ever be welcome to join them, in which invitation, she adds, Sir B- W- most heartyly joins.
There is also a letter from little V, that remains at Q- with His Grace while they attend to the matter of electing the new member for T- in place of the one so sadly of late deceas’d. There has been a deal of dining and generally making civil towards the locality: she finds that my notion of lessoning herself with Phillips concerning the latest Town fashions has quite entirely answer’d and she is now consider’d quite the oracle in matters of style among the ladies she is oblig’d to make civil with. That agreeable friend of mine, Mrs N‑, also provid’d her with a few useful bits of scandal to bring into conversation. Sure she had rather be discoursing of almost anything else – she has try’d raising the topic of novels, as being no heavy matter unsuit’d to the female mind such as politicks, but did not go – but she quite understands her duty is not to act the entire bluestocking but to seem a pleasingly conversable lady that does not stand stiffly upon her rank.
Sure, she adds, His Grace my husband contrives such matters exceeding well, but he attributes this to his training in the Diplomatick. They are, she continues, sorry that Lady J- decid’d remain in Town, but perchance she might be found a little intimidating, tho ’tis entirely only her manner and beneath it has quite the best heart, yet that takes some time to get to know.
(I am not at all convinc’d that Lady J- is of the same politickal sympathies as Biffle, but she will always adhere to the need to defer to the head of their house. I daresay she remains in Town because ’tis not a summer when Mr J- takes the company touring, and therefore Miss A- also remains in Town.)
(This causes me to collect that there was some interest in turning my novel The Fateful Philtre into a play, and do I not do this myself, Mr P- or somebody else will be about it. Sure there will be time on my hands while Town is such a desert, with the majority of my circle on their estates, taking the waters, &C.)
Comes in Dorcas to tell me how the household has done in my absence. Prue and Celeste continue to show diligent, Euphemia feeds ’em all well but with admirable oeconomy, Hector ensures that Timothy is not idle, &C. Phoebe has visit’d a few times to take tea, that she is sure I would quite approve – O, entirely, says I, and have you seen aught of Seraphine? – She replies that she apprehends that Seraphine is down at A- at present and sure must be a deal better for Julius and little Hannah than remaining in Town, that is so very unhealthfull for infants in summer. – Indeed, says I, and I apprehend therefore that Viscount R- is also down at A‑. I daresay there is a note from him somewhere or other among this deal of letters.
(Sure Town is quite entire a desert.)
Enters Hector with apologies for not having been here to greet my arrival. No need for apologies, I say, sure I never thought we should be here so soon: and how show’d Titus? Excellent well, says Hector, and bears himself most pleasing modest. Sure one would hardly know him for that idle lout he was when he first came to this place. I am most pleas’d to hear it, say I.
I say that is there no urgent or pressing business that I need to be about immediate, I shall go change out of these travel-stain’d garments. Hector and Dorcas look from one to another and neither can think of anything that immediate demands my attention, so I go up to my dressing-room.
Prue is about some ironing there, while Docket rests in a chair. How now, Docket, are you feeling quite well? (but I do not see the glass for her drops, so I do not think it can be any great matter).
Quite well, Your Ladyship, says Docket, but that this hot heavy weather is a little trying to all of us, sure a good storm would clear the air. She stands up, looks at my garb, that indeed still has the dust of the road upon it, and tells Prue to go tell Timothy to bring hot water so that Her Ladyship may wash.
O, I was greatly sorrowfull to leave my dearest loves, but indeed, ’tis very pleasant to be in my household among my good people again.