I am unable to come about any conclave with Lady D-, that will sit with little Arthur among a deal of ladies that convey maternal advice &C and not be drawn into anything concerning philanthropick matters.
I take opportunity to enquire of Agnes S- is there some reason for this strange reserve in her sister towards me. She says sure puzzles her: perchance 'tis because you favour Mr L-'s suit and are consider’d somewhat in the light of a patron to him? But 'tis somewhat childish, if so. Have you not ever stood quite the greatest of friends to her? Have you not guid’d her steps thro’ the curious ways of philanthropick ladies? Did you not show most extreme generous of spirit after Lord D- behav’d so ill at your soirée? Sure shows in very poor ton.
Why, says I, I will not make myself particular by running after her. But you might go about to discover does she intend return to her excellent work in philanthropick causes, might you do so discreet.
Agnes S- sighs and says, she was never us’d to be this tiresome. 'Tis very unlike Dora.
We look down from the ornamental bridge at the pretty little cygnets. I do not say to Agnes S- that the change in her sister is like unto that from a pretty downy little cygnet to a nasty grown hissing swan. And indeed, 'tis not a general line of conduct in her, for she will show a pretty deference to the opinions of experienc’d mothers.
Sophy tells me that Copping says that Lord D- shows a very admirable forbearance towards Lady D- at this time; but that Copping does not think that Lady D- shows a due appreciation and gratitude for it. Tho’ at least she does show extreme doating towards the babe.
'Tis about what I have come to apprehend.
I will leave it be the while: perchance 'twill all come sort itself out without I have to take it in hand.
But comes the time when the party is to break up and I still have not come at any rencontre with Lady D-. I mind that 'tis likely that she will be among the guests at C- Castle when I am there and I may find occasion then.
However, at present I am bound for my property: will stay a few nights in the exceeding comfortable and clean inn where I stay’d last year, take the opportunity to have the agent show me over the house, so that I may more effective go cry it up to those that might desire take it as a hunting box (I daresay one might go advertize, but one knows not who that might bring), inspect the dispensary and the dame school that Mr R-'s wife has set up, view the fine new steam-pump &C, and convoke with Mr M- more generally about matters. I have also give instructions to provide a feast for the whole of the community that resides within the parish, and there will be a roast’d ox.
I have been very kindly invit’d to go stay with the M-s, most exceeding civil of 'em, but I had far rather stay at an inn where of an e’en after dinner I may write a little upon my novel, that I come about to see some end to. Also I am like to think 'twould put that excellent woman Mrs M- in somewhat of a fret to be oblig’d to accommodate me along with Sophy. But I have said I will go take tea with her.
So Sophy and I sit exceeding comfortable in our private parlour, and I sit scribbling at my traveling desk, and she undertakes a little mending, and 'tis entire agreeable.
The morn comes the agent call for me so that we may go look over the house, and I take Sophy with me so that I shall be attend’d as befits my station.
'Tis a pleasing enough small house I find, but indeed one could not go hold grand house-parties there, and 'tis by no means in the fine modern way of things like unto my Surrey property. (Sophy indeed wrinkles her nose somewhat, I hope she does not become spoilt with all this grand living.) 'Twould do, I daresay, for bachelor parties that would be out all day shooting or hunting. Or one that desir’d be a hermit, for there is not a deal of society in the district. 'Tis, however, all in very good order, and I commend the agent.
(I wonder might one go about improvements with indoor accommodations, a fine range in the kitchen &C: but sure I should not go be extravagant.)
I then take the agent back to his offices, and have Ajax take me to Mr M-'s so that we may convoke on mine-business. 'Tis all, I find, most extreme satisfactory, the steam-pump answers extremely, the various matters of the smelting works have been got in hand; and he finds it most gratifying that Mr K- would desire enter into some arrangement.
I say that is there no other matter we need discourse of, I will go visit the dispensary and then come take tea with Mrs M- (sure I can smell that she goes bake some fine lardy-cake).
He says, that indeed, now there is one will authorize necessary works so expeditious, and they have such fine fellows as Mr D- and Mr F- to call upon for any advice, sure all goes exceeding merryly.
'Tis very agreeable to hear, and I am also most extreme prepossesst by how Mr R- conducts the dispensary. I look over the register of cases he keeps and his accounts and the record of the deliberations of the committee, all very well-kept. His wife is about her dame-school, but I peep in to the chamber in which she holds this, and 'tis entire orderly and the children are learning rather than being merely kept from mischief out o’doors.
I mention to her Miss N-'s notion of little rhymes that will introduce matters of letters and numbers to infant minds and she says, o, what a very fine idea, would greatly desire correspond upon the matter. And, she does not wish presume, but there are matters of slates and slate-pencils… Why, says I, sure you require the tools necessary just as Mr R- requires lancets and scalpels.
She smiles and says, she also goes hold evening-classes for those of greater age that wish to learn.
'Tis all most commendable, says I, you do not find it tires you? – for I perceive she goes increase.
Why, she says, there is such interest in the matter that does not tire me – perchance later – she glances down – but 'tis a matter one may sit to.
I say that I wonder, is there such a wish for learning in the place, one might set up a reading-room?
Oh, she cries, 'twould be the finest thing! but, Your Ladyship, do I not go back into the classroom there will be uproar I fear.
Most like! says I. Perchance we may talk further of this?
Indeed, she says, she has been invit’d come take tea by Mrs M-, and confides that there are other ladies might favour such a plan.
I go back into the dispensary, and Mr R- discloses that he thinks 'twould answer to take an apprentice, and I say does he think so, should be about the matter.
Next Mr M- and Mr McA- go show me from a prudent distance the steam-pump, and the smelting works that does indeed have a most extreme tall chimney, and I am able to make suitable remarks from having talkt with Josiah and Mr D- upon the matter.
Then I go take tea with Mrs M- and the other ladies of the middling sort in these parts, and there is a little shyness that I confide I break by consuming Mrs M-‘s lardy-cake with great relish and licking my fingers after, and I open the matter of a reading-room and there is a deal of interest. They overcome their timidity so far as to ask me about Town fashions and various matters of gossip that have very much after the fact come to their ears.
The next day is set aside for the feast. Most fortunately, 'tis a fine day, and tables are laid out upon the village green, where the ox is already roasting and a deal of other matters are in preparation. There is a band. There is beer and also cider, tho’ I do not think the latter is as fine as Sir C- F-'s.
When all are come, there is a group of little girls that come sing to me and one that presents me a nosegay. 'Tis entire charming. I say a few words in which I convey, I hope, that any at all may direct themselves to me is there any matter they would wish disclose, and then I desire the parson to say grace - I confide that 'tis diplomatick to do so, even tho’ there are a deal of Methodists in the place. I have give the parson somewhat towards charitable purposes in the parish, but have also done the like to the minister at the chapel.
There is a fine deal of eating and drinking, and some singing.
I have desir’d Ajax and Sophy to join in this revel do they so desire. I look down the tables and see Ajax yarning to a group of fellows. When the meal draws to a close, the younger folk take to dancing, the band playing suitable melodies. I observe that there are several young fellows stand and gaze upon Sophy and go nudge one another, to see if one dares go ask her to dance.
One that is bolder than the rest goes approach her, and she concedes to join him in a boisterous country dance, after which she is in entire demand in that set, for she dances exceeding lively. I daresay she might wish stay, but indeed, we must take our leave, for I am like to think my presence may somewhat constrain the revelry.
Sophy is quite panting when we get into the carriage – for country fellows, she says, they are no bad dancers.
(I wonder would Docket approve of this, but 'tis agreeable to see Sophy enjoying herself.)