The Comfortable Courtesan
Shaken by her action in thwarting the malign intentions of Mr R- O-, and saddened by the breach this has caused in her friendship with Sandy, Clorinda has fled to Naples with the Contessa, leaving matters in Town out of her hands. Can matters among her set get along without her? Can her friendship with Sandy ever be repaired?
Buy Felicities Maximized
from these stores, paperbacks from Amazon, all DRM free
on Twitter for the latest gossip about Clorinda CathcartFollow Madame Clorinda
Read Chapter 1 ...
Most unwont’d disinclin’d
Our progress towards Naples was at a leisurely pace, for however young in spirit the Contessa may be, her body is not that of a young woman and she can no longer withstand travel as once she could. ’Twas therefore quite entire suit’d to Docket’s requirements, and greatly sooth’d my mind as to the imprudence of bringing her with me, tho’ indeed I know not how I might have prevent’d her.
Sophy show’d most pretty and meritorious attentive to sparing Docket trouble, even did she also enjoy the exchange of flirtatious glances with fellows in the Contessa’s retinue along the way.
’Twas a deal different staying at the Contessa’s fine palazzo in Naples from when I spent those months at the Marquess’s villa in the company of dear friends.
As I take up my pen once more to this account, that I had abandon’d this while — sure altho’ I did not go sleepwalk or cry out upon chimerickal blood or even have nightmares, yet I confide my spirits were extreme disturb’d after I had put so definite a halt to Mr R‑ O‑’s horrible schemes, even can I not entire regret an action that protect’d my sweet child and preserv’d my friends. For I found my pen inapt to inditing any chronicle of the some several weeks I past in Naples whilst I was there, and also discover’d myself most unwont’d disinclin’d to offering any service to Aphrodite.
Perchance I should have felt different had there been any occasion upon which I might have entertain’d the dear Admiral, but — altho’ I confide that Lady J‑ had depart’d upon her return to Town by the time I reacht Mediterranean shores, and we might have contriv’d some discreet assignation, that indeed she would not mind — he had had orders that took him a deal distant from Neapolitan waters, to my great sorrow.
Sure there were suitors to my favours, for I was much in society and a whirl of balls, ridotti, the opera, parties of pleasure &C, a mad English milady that was invit’d everywhere by both the Neapolitan ton, and those of my compatriots that reside in those parts.
This provid’d me great opportunity to undertake matters for the Cause, especial as ’twas very generally suppos’d that I had no great apprehension of Italian: whereas altho’ I have never attain’d to a fluency in speaking that tongue, I find myself quite able to comprehend when ’tis spoke, unless it be in the very rapid as ’twere cant of the lower orders. I was therefore privy to a deal of converse that would have been entire indiscreet had the truth of the matter been known, as well as fellows gazing into my eyes or down at my bosom and talking very impressive about themselves and their endeavours and the need for order and the very shocking revolutionary spirit that may be found in certain parts.
I was thus able to convey a deal of intelligence to the Contessa and her confederates — Roberto C‑ is still a fine adherent to the Cause, but alas, with marriage and fatherhood has grown plump and sleek and shows the beginning of a double chin, altho’ lookt upon me with some wistfullness.
Sure I found the matter somewhat exhilarating like unto a wild gallopp upon horseback.
So I went on in this way, and fear I now have a reputation about those parts as a lady that promises much but performs little.
And ’twas when I had been in those parts nigh on two months, that the Contessa summon’d me to her, and said, dear Lady B‑, you have done most valuable service to our Cause, but I fear — ’tis a thing that I have seen come about with others, and was like to fall into it myself when younger — that you grow in love with risque, that danger becomes like unto laudanum. ’Tis perilous for you, and brings peril upon your confederates.
O, I cry, with tears coming to my eyes, indeed you are right, dearest Contessa, I as ’twere drug myself upon dangers and ’tis very wrong of me.
She pats my hand and says that tho’ she knows I will not be about acts of publick defiance like unto Reynaldo, yet the way that I go on, am like to be discover’d and ’twould be prudent to, mayhap, go out of Naples a little while —
Why, says I, I have quite shockingly neglect’d attention to the Marquess’s fine estate. Perchance did I go there and find out how matters go with the agrickultural improvements &C, might be give out that I go recruit a little, being somewhat wore out by so much society? Could stay there a little while.
There, she says, kissing me, that is the sensible prudent Lady B‑, sure I wonder’d what had happen’d to her, for has been very unlike your habitual conduct —
La, says I, is’t not the fashion of my nation when we come to foreign parts, in particular foreign parts where the sun goes shine upon us and stirs up our sluggish native humours?
She laughs somewhat immoderate and says ’tis entire not’d of those gentlemen that come upon the Grand Tour.
Well, says I, I will go write a little note for Marcello, to apprize him that I intend visit and to make sure the beds are air’d in readyness, and perchance I might call upon one of your footmen to go take it and wait upon a reply.
So I do this and returns to me a very agreeable note from Marcello that declares that they would be entire delight’d at a visit from the bella signora and indeed, ’tis yet early days but matters come along with the improvements.
Therefore Docket and Sophy are about packing up my things — I am like to think that Sophy regrets this move a little, for in spite of their having no language in common she has creat’d considerable interest among the menservants in the Contessa’s establishment. To my great astonishment Docket entire smiles upon this proceeding, declaring that Sophy is a good sensible girl and unlike to be beguil’d by fellows.
And in due course we are driven along the coast to the villa, that is looking in very fine repair. Marcello comes out to greet me very effusive, and to make known to me Alf, that is a well‑looking fellow that, altho’ his face is burnt brown by the sun, still looks the Englishman.
They regret that il bello scozzese does not also visit, and ask about how he does.
Sure I am still wound’d that matters ’twixt myself and Sandy are in such ill condition: for altho’ others of my acquaintance have writ to me — for my contrivance over letters comes about to convey these to me with Hector as intermediary — there has been no letter from Sandy, that causes me considerable grief.
But ’tis entire a matter ’twixt him and me and I therefore convey to Marcello and Alf the matters he is about, how very well he is thought of in ever widening circles &C&C.
Comes out Giuseppina, that makes exceeding civil and desires know how Euphemia goes on. I tell her about the marriage that came about ’twixt Euphemia and Hector — at which she goes look knowing for I confide she supposes that ’twas entirely her spell that brought about that happy conclusion and not the deal of trouble I was oblig’d to undertake. I also mention that Euphemia goes increase, and while she shows some astonishment that she is not already the mama of a fine brood, is most gratify’d to hear it, and I daresay will be about preparing some cantrip to ensure a healthy son.
She also offers that la signora might care to have her fortune told. Mayhap, says I, when I have recruit’d myself a little, in a day or so (but even tho’ I consider the matter entire superstition, feel somewhat disinclin’d to have Giuseppina lay out a suppos’d fortune for me in the most curious cards of that region, that are call’d tarocco).
I go wash the dust of the roads from me and change into somewhat suit’d to the occasion, have a fine wide‑brimm’d hat put on, and walk out to the fine terrace that gives such an excellent view of the sea.
Marcello comes up to me and remarks that he dares say that there will be most ample time to go look over the agrickultural improvements, see the printing press, &C, and at present I should prefer to be a little idle and rest from the journey.
’Tis so, says I, and then tell Marcello about my visit to the Marquess’s tomb in the family mausoleum, disclosing my somewhat foolish superstitious conduct in whispering there how matters went.
Marcello takes my hand and kisses it and says that he himself is in the habit of having masses said on the anniversary of the Marquess’s death tho’ he no longer considers himself a true son of the Church.
Perchance, says I, it eases the spirits of those left behind.
I daresay, thinks I, ’twould not be in good ton to ask does he have occasion to go about using his stiletto.
Marcello says that by my leave, he has a number of matters should be about, and I say that sure ’tis an entire pleasure to stand here gazing upon the beauties of nature and not being pester’d by a deal of fellows.
So I lean upon the low wall and consider the beauties of nature, tho’ what would make the bay even lovelyer to me would be the sight of the dear Admiral’s flagship, that there is little prospect of.
Comes up Alf, that says sure he would not trouble me, but would greatly like to hear how matters go in London these days, might I have time to do so some time while I am here.
Why, says I, ’twould be a pleasure.
He also says, do I have any novels about me he would dearly love to read ’em, for altho’ Mr MacD‑ is ever beforehand in sending the latest works on philosophy and oeconomicks &C, there are times when he should like to take his ease with a fine tale or so.
Why, says I, so happens that I do, and you would be very welcome to take your pick of ’em.