Belinda and I take very affectionate leave of one another, and look forward to our next rencontre when I come to Northamptonshire. I desire her to convey my best regards to Captain P-, and also to go give my sweet Jezebel a pat upon the nose and an apple from me – for my lovely Jezzie-girl goes rusticate for the summer, kicking up her heels a little.
I let it be suppos’d that I proceed onwards to Lord P-'s house-party, but I have an intention to make a little visit somewhat discreet before I arrive there, for sure Sir C- F-'s fine property is entirely upon my way to Shropshire, and I go pass a night or so there.
'Tis no grand mansion, but an entire pleasing manor house in a quaint antique style – sure his family have been squires there these many generations.
He comes out to greet me and make a leg, says How now, very civil to Ajax and hopes they may have some discourse of horseflesh, and tells me that his housekeeper will show me to my chamber.
The bed is also in quaint antique style, but there is fine fresh clean lavender-scent’d linen upon it, and, I confide, a mattress that is not of the same antiquity as the bedstead.
Sophy goes look out of the window and remarks upon the very pretty view. Altho, she goes on, there are a deal of red cows.
Indeed, says I, I apprehend that Sir C- F-'s cattle are very well spoke of.
Hot water has been provid’d and I wash off the dust of travel and Sophy arrays me in a simple muslin and sets a cap upon my head. I go downstairs to the parlour.
Sir C- F- says he dares say I should like some tea?
La, says I, did you not promise me fine cider of your own making? Sure if I may I will take a glass.
A maid comes with two mugs of cider and we sit and drink – sure 'tis excellent fine stuff but I confide 'tis deceptively strong and I should not take a second.
We look at one another with antient affection, and I say, I daresay he would desire news of how Lady N- does.
He sighs somewhat, and says, sure I see into his heart.
'Tis excellent fine news, says I, makes an entire difference now she has an invalid carriage and may get about thus, the Marquess has been about alterations at O- House so that she may contrive to move about it with ease, shows most exceptional welcoming to her. Now they are at D- Chase she will spend hours together in the gardens, watching the children at their pastimes. Her spirits are quite vastly improv’d.
He smiles and says, 'tis quite excellent news, but he confides that one cannot hope for miracles and she will ever have to lead an invalid life.
I agree that 'tis so.
He gives a little groan and says that he is in the strongest suspicion that had matters been attend’d to a deal earlyer she would be a deal less crippl’d, but the Earl –
I daresay, says I. Mr H-, that is quite one of the finest surgeons in Town and a very not’d anatomist, will say that altho’ rest is an entire necessity of the process of healing, will come a time when one goes recover from the initial injury that 'tis desirable to undertake exercize for the good of the muscles and to be encourag’d to make an effort, but of course under the care of one that has professional understandings in the matter.
Lord, he says, H- is still about and not fled the country for fear of arrest over matters of body-snatching?
I say that 'twas fear’d might come to that last year when there was a great to-do over resurrection men, but in the event he was not among those nam’d in the business, altho’ there were whispers.
Once invit’d me to observe a dissection, says Sir C- F-. Sure I was oblig’d to run out mid-way for fear of puking. But I daresay 'tis grown quite the habit with him.
Sure he will say that there is none becomes a surgeon without they go spew once whilst observing an operation, but indeed, becomes a habit to 'em and they will approach the task with entire equanimity.
I return to our former subject and say 'tis quite the prettyest thing to observe the care Lord U- has for his mother. Indeed he is an excellent young man that is widely not’d for his good qualities.
Sir C- F- smiles and says, indeed he is a good boy, and runs entire contrary to his sire’s nature.
La, says I, not entire contrary, for would not that impute wild extravagance?
Sir C- F- confides that 'tis so, and adds that he supposes that they cannot yet have heard aught from the Earl – will not even be in sight of the Americk shore yet.
Supposing, says I, that he would be at the expense of the carriage of a letter!
Sir C- F- laughs and then says, sure that penny-pinching habit of his is no laughing matter. But, dear C- - I beg your pardon, Lady B- - I laugh and say, sure we are old friends and are not in fine society, I hope he will take the liberty to call me as he was us’d during that fine summer in Brighton.
C-, then – now you have refresht yourself you might care to step out a little and see the place?
'Twould be entire delightfull, says I, ever provid’d I do not have to go very close to any cows.
Why, my cattle are the gentlest creatures – 'tis a breed entire not’d for the amiability of its nature – but indeed I would not force you to confront a cow.
I am a sad timid creature, says I.
I go fetch my parasol, and we walk out of the house, thro’ a fine cottage garden of flowers and herbs just outside the door. Alas, he says, that I have misst the very fine sight of the orchards in blossoming-time: but he is like to suppose that come the autumn, there will be an excellent crop - tho’ sure one is ever at the mercy of accidents of weather.
Indeed there are a deal of fruit-trees, apples and pears – besides the cider, he remarks, he makes a very good perry, that we might have with dinner – and one may quite imagine how very beautifull they must be when they are in bloom. He goes talk a deal of the different kinds of apple, and various grafting experiments he makes.
We do pass by several fields of his fine red white-fac’d cattle, but there are stout fences, and sure they present exceeding placid.
These fellows, he says, are fine beef cattle, and you will be tasting how very good beef they come to at dinner. Has a few dairy cows for milk and butter but does not make any business of it. He discourses of matters of breeding, and feeding, and the great improvements there have been of recent generations.
He looks about him and breathes in the fine air, and says, sure he regrets he does not have a son to leave this to, when his family have been here so long. But – Oh, says he, he knows that there are plenty of fellows go marry even if 'tis not to their first choice; but has always felt as if he stood ready to come did she call: 'tis somewhat that would be hard for a wife to understand, 'tis not even as tho’ it could be the common matter 'twixt man and woman –
I take his hand and squeeze it and say that his feelings do him entire credit (sure indeed I feel somewhat tearfull, for 'tis a very beautifull thing), and indeed, she is a very fine woman. One may observe the affection in which her offspring hold her.
Exactly so, says he. He was in some mind to leave the place to Charles, but then he minds that he will fall heir to the very pleasing N- properties, and mayhap should leave it to one of his brothers, that will otherwise have only a younger son’s portion.
An excellent fine thought, says I. I apprehend that Mr Geoffrey M- has some mind to going into law, but I do not know what ambitions Mr Edward M- might have –
Sure, says Sir C- F-, has not show’d any inclination to the Army or the Church – but there is no exceeding hurry, I may sound the matter out further when Charles and his mother come visit.
We turn back towards the house, and he remarks that he keeps country hours and we shall be dining very shortly.
'Tis a most excellent fine dinner that is serv’d up to us, and sure the beef is quite the nonpareil of its kind, and the perry is most delicious, but, like the cider, I suspect somewhat deceptive, so I take it with caution.
Our conversation turns to chearfull reminiscence of our summer in Brighton, that was indeed a most agreeable interlude – I had been feeling a little desolate on account of dear Captain K-, as he then was, being post’d to the China Seas, but indeed my spirits were entirely benefitt’d by the sanitive airs, the many entertainments and amenities of the town, and Sir C- F-'s company.
And indeed, 'twixt these happy memories, and the effect of the perry in livening the blood, we find ourselves looking upon one another as we did in those happy days, when we would be at a ball, or a card-party, and our eyes would meet, and we would take our leave of the company, and return to our very pleasing apartments and go romp with great ardour.
Indeed, says Sir C- F- with a little embarrassment, I did not invite you with any intentions, but sure you are still a lady of most exceeding attractions.
I smile upon him - for indeed, 'tis some while since I have pay’d my dues to Aphrodite, and 'tis yet a tiresome while until I shall be with my darlings – and say that he is still a most appealing fellow.
And so matters are once more between us as they were that happy summer.
So what is it that you've been procrastinating on? What's been hanging over you, weighing you down because you know it ought to be done, but it's just too much? Go on, you know you can beat it into submission (a little at a time!)
Good luck and lots of cheers and good wishes to you all.
Intriguing article in Sunday's Observer which tries to get beyond the knee-jerk shock horror that there has been a demand at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) for the philosophy course to be a bit less dead and white - Are Soas students right to ‘decolonise’ their minds from western philosophers? - even if 'male' still seems to be the default, except for passing mentions of Hannah Arendt, one of which alludes to her as one of several influenced by Heidegger.
And I am all for being less Eurocentric, or at least considering the ways in which its being the occupation of dead white elite males affected the development of philosophy as it is taught in Institutionz of Highah Learninz, and what counts as 'philosophy' -
But I think there are questions there are who does it and what counts as part of the tradition and the canon -
- matters that I have given some thought to in other realms of endeavour, and, of course, bearing in mind the Russ cases as shown forth in How to Suppress Women's Writing of how, if a woman does achieve something, it Doesn't Really Count and it is off in its own separate (and inferior) category.
And thinking of the tendency to the construction of patriarchal genealogies of [intellectual/cultural fields] leaving out those women who were there when it was new and uninstitutionalised (Patricia Fara also pointed out the importance of non-elite male artisans and craftsmen to the Great Men of Science Making Big Important Discoveries: which is not even massively Back Then, see 'Norman Heatley was done out of the Nobel' because he was the lab assistant).
And of course this meant I had stress dreams last night... more not being able to navigate myself around (ostensibly) my neighborhood. Which, for some reason, included a oouple army posts. It was not fun, to be sure.
But I am up, dressed, and have consumed some breakfast. Also loaded lunch and various other things into briefcase and now about to summon a car for the trip into the city... because right now, with various torn pieces of my anatomy, public transport is not wise.
Belinda and I consider the notion of going visit the tenant farmers, but conclude that could only be embarrassing do they go complain upon any matter that is not within our power to remedy, and we entire confide that there are a deal of matters that should have been took in hand long since was the estate under proper hand. We sigh. For altho 'tis not quite in the condition describ’d in Goldsmith’s poem, 'tis by no means the fine estate it might be.
We therefore thank the agent very civil and say that we will go do our utmost to exhort Chancery to find some means to undertake the matter, but sure we are not entire sanguine that they would come to any decision afore the crack o’doom.
The agent sighs and says, at least when the late Marquess was in life one might correspond with him, as his late father did, and he would go authorize any matter that was in need of seeing to, even did he have no closer interest in his estate. But now! – 'twixt the present Marquess being entire lunatick, alas, and his affairs in the hands of Chancery –
Belinda and I exchange glances and I apprehend we both take some thought as to the lunatick Marquess’s notorious stingyness and the likelyhood that, was he in his wits, the estate would most like fare no better and perchance even worse.
We commend the way the agent goes on in such very trying circumstance, and declare that, may we ever be of any service to him, we shall be entire happy &C&C. Belinda indeed gives him some recommendations does he ever go to the races, and says, does he ever require a fine hunter for his own use, she can put him in the way of one at a most agreeable price.
We leave him at his premises, after having taken leave, and drive back to the inn, where we purpose stay another night so that we may convoke upon this business and engage in more general gossip.
We go into our private parlour and desire tea to be brought as soon as maybe.
Tho’, says Belinda, when I consider the rack and ruin that is come to what might be an exceeding fine estate, sure I am like to call for brandy, and plenty of it.
Indeed 'tis a melancholick sight, says I. Tho’ I confide may have been a somewhat gloomy place, low-lying as ‘tis, at its best: but I daresay did one cut back those overhanging trees, pull down some of the ivy that creeps up over the windows, bring the gardens back to what they us’d to be, might appear chearfull enough. But sure 'tis an exceeding great contrast to my late husband’s villa at Naples, that was all light and air, and fine open views.
Comes the tea and we indulge in the cup that chears - indeed it brings us to better spirits, and we go consider over how Belinda might present the matter to Chancery, and what is the least one might do. We are both of the opinion that, since the tenant-farmers have been commend’d, 'tis those matters of drainage &C that ought come first, lest they depart.
Sure, says Belinda, I confide they will consider us remarkable business-like - for ladies.
We both laugh somewhat immoderate, for without having undue conceit of ourselves, I think we may consider that we are prudent businesswomen. Sure, says I, I do not think you, dear Belinda, go giving away fine horses simply because you like the cut of a fellow’s jib.
Indeed not, she says. And sure, I will remark that making a gift to Lady B- has led to a deal of solicitations to us to procure fine looking but gentle mounts for ladies.
I laugh somewhat immoderate. O, indeed, 'tis the like of those fellows that send me samples of their china &C. Really, my dear, 'twas entire kindness in you and I am sure you did not think that 'twould lead to that.
Perchance not! For indeed, we had not been in any thought about mounts for ladies that were not bruising riders to hounds, but indeed, 'tis a pleasing addition to our business.
We look at one another with great affection. She says that they greatly look forward to my visit: they are in a little sadness that could not be contriv’d that Josh might come stay a little.
I laugh and say, why, there is the matter of Josh’s traveling menagerie: 'twas a deal of a business getting all in order so that might be safely convey’d north with 'em. But also, his brother Harry comes home for a little while as a holiday from his apprenticeship in engineering, and Josh would not desire to miss his brother’s company.
Belinda says she dares say they might contrive to house a menagerie: tho’ she knows not whether they might have food fit for a wombatt or a mongoose. I laugh and say, 'tis more a matter of preventing the wombatt from eating the carpets &C, and the mongoose is not particular in its diet – except that, 'tis most peculiar, altho’ they will fight and kill snakes, do not eat 'em. I daresay might were they extreme hungry, but 'tis not a dish they relish. So 'twould not be needfull to lay on a diet of serpents
I go stretch myself a little and say that I will go change, and I daresay 'tis country hours and we dine exceeding early?
Belinda agrees that 'tis so.
So I go have Sophy take off my walking-dress, that is in some need of brushing, and dress me in somewhat loose and comfortable, and then return to the parlour, where they are about laying up the table so that we may dine.
'Tis simple fare but well-cookt and there is plenty of it.
When we are come to the end of the meal and go sit with a little entire sanitive port and madeira, Belinda asks do I care to hear how matters go with her undear lunatick husband?
Why, says I, I should like to be assur’d that he is well secur’d and will not go escape again.
Oh, says Belinda, he is well-watcht after that; for indeed, 'twould do little for their reputation did it get about that one of their lunaticks levant’d and contriv’d to get to Town. No, 'tis mostly to say is surly and filthy in his habits &C. But there was a curious matter in the latest report –
Oh? says I. I hope 'tis not that he goes about to be restor’d to his wits. For has come to my attention that, altho’ he committ’d crimes, as he is a peer of the realm he may go cry privilege over a first offence for anything short of murder or treason, and go entire free from penalty.
Belinda expresses shock and horror over this. No, she goes on, he does not come about to show sane - what 'twas, was that he had a visitor -
What, says I, who would go visit him? I had not suppos’d he had many friends, that would go call upon him in his durance.
Indeed, says Belinda, she confides 'twas not a friend – indeed, she does not collect he had any – but some fellow that the keepers suppos’d conduct’d an investigation into some dubious matter in his Surrey parish. Sure one might quite imagine that he would have been readyly brib’d to undertake the office hugger-mugger over some runaway match – or indeed to tear from the register some birth or marriage that is now found inconvenient to be known of –
Did they, says I, say what the fellow’s name was? (Tho’ was’t Mr R- O-, as I am in considerable suspicion 'twas, I daresay he would give some incognito.)
No, she says, did not say. But his visit greatly agitat’d the poor Marquess, they report, set him off into one of his raving fits about that wanton jezebel, that suppos’d sea-captain’s wife, that temptress that was no better than she should be.
I am struck with a chill, tho’ there is sunlight pours in at the window and the room is by no means cold.
Why, says I, I confide they suppose that the lady is some phantasm of a sickly mind.
Most like, agrees Belinda. My dear, take a little more madeira, 'tis entire good for you.
So Mr H- gives it out, says I, and sure he is reput’d one that understands these matters of the bodily oeconomy. I sigh and go on, tho’ sure he is an imprudent fellow in the pursuit of the understanding of such matters: 'tis not at all long since that scandal about resurrection men, and 'twas very much rumour’d that he had had to do with 'em, but did he so, such dealings never came into court. One would think 'twould render him cautious; but lately his man said somewhat to Hector that leads me to suppose that he still dabbles in the business.
Say you so! a shocking matter.
Indeed, says I, and yet his intention is to advance knowledge, that one would suppose praiseworthy.
We shake our heads: 'tis a tangl’d problem that I daresay was I a philosopher I might unknot and determine the rights and wrong of, but as 'tis, cannot come at what I should think in the light of Universal Law.
To change the subject to something more agreeable, I go show Belinda the little painting of Flora by Mr de C-, that I keep in the secret compartment of my traveling desk, and she exclaims upon what a fine girl she is grown, and says she looks out for a pony for her.
We go to bed betimes but I find myself lying wakefull in somewhat of a fret over the likelyhood that Mr R- O- has been about interrogating the mad Marquess, and what he may suppose he might discover by that means, especial given the craz’d ravings that are report’d. 'Tis greatly worrysome.
But at least, thinks I, I am in some suspicion that he is about this matter, and forewarn’d is forearm’d.
I feel really really blessed by having such wonderful friends, especially when they reach out to me when I'm doing badly at keeping in touch. And several other people have got in touch too and I really do want to get back to them to make plans. And I'm not doing at all well at posting or commenting here (though I'm still reading, definitely, I haven't missed a day.)
( slightly angsty )
Anyway, the only way to restart the habit of posting here is to just go ahead and do so. Have a meme which ghoti sensibly imported from FB: suggest a category and I'll tell you my top five things in that category. Feel free to propagate it if you think it would be a fun thing to do in your own journal.
At the weekend we went to the Tate Modern - where we were underwhelmed by the current Turbine Hall thing.
However - WHY was I not told? I have not seen them there before and didn't even know that they had them - there is a Louise Nevelson room.
When I first saw that there was some Nevelson material in the Materials and Objects section I thought, well, maybe some smaller piece or two or three?
Two LARGE molto-tipico Nevelsons, one in black and one in gold.
I think I may go back just to hang out in there for a bit.
(And we may note that 'one of the most important figures in 20th-century American sculpture' was an immigrant...)
In other news, Out in Print gave my new book Out of This World a very nice review. I'm really pleased since I'm pretty certain that this reviewer is not familiar with my previous work so there's that moment of "Yes! New people reading me!" that's always cool. Out in Print gave my novel Silver Moon one of my all time favorite reviews so I'm really glad to see them up and running again. :-)))
And in appearance news, I've had to drop the Golden Crown Literary Conference trip I was hoping to make this year. I didn't get a workshop or programming items and at this point, pricier out of town conventions have to pay for themselves to one degree or another (no programming = less likely to sell books or be able to use as a tax writeoff). I have added one podcast appearance, a new reading at DreamHaven and am in discussion on some other things so I will be out and about.
The Marquess looks out the letters he sent to his brother and shows 'em to me. Indeed, says I, these will serve exceedingly as a foundation for a fine volume upon your travels. Sure you will need extract passages, and omit allusions to your relatives and childhood friends, for tho’ I suppose your brother was most amuz’d to hear your comparison of a certain great-aunt to a llama, or rather, that the creature reminded you of her greatly, even unto the spitting habit, I apprehend that this would best not be expos’d to a general readership.
'Tis true, he says, and the aunt is yet in life, and still spits when she speaks.
Also, says I, I am most exceeding prepossesst by the little drawings you include and wonder might one by some means incorporate 'em into your narrative. Sure I think we should desire Mr MacD- to join in our convockation, for he has a deal to do with publishing matters.
Sandy is entire delight’d to be of the party, makes many usefull suggestions, discourses knowledgeably concerning the means by which illustrations may be includ’d within a book, and also remarks that there are certain episodes that constitute detacht stories that he wonders might Lord O- considering introducing to the publick in some periodical, that would rouse interest for the complet’d volume.
Why, says I, is not Mr L- always desirous of copy? Particular at this season.
Indeed, says Sandy, would serve quite admirably, his paper becomes exceeding well-thought-of both for its reporting and for its reviews and articles on matters of more general interest.
Sure, says the Marquess, do you propose this journal to me it must be quite the highest recommendation.
We both go descant upon Mr L-'s excellences as an editor and as a journalist.
Sure 'tis extreme agreeable to be here at D- Chase and see all so happy and to be among such good friends, but I am promist to go look over the matter of T- with Belinda so even tho’ I am besought to stay just a day or so longer, I must be off.
Since Docket is not with us, but enjoying the fine sanitive sea airs of Weymouth in Biddy Smith’s company, we make a somewhat long day of travel, and arrive at the inn that Belinda and I have chose for our rendezvous in the evening.
I find her already there, having bespoke their two best bedrooms and a private parlour. We embrace very warm, and she says she has told 'em to send up a little supper against my arrival.
Sure, says I, Arabella put up a fine basket for us to take along with us, but indeed a little refreshment afore I go fall into bed will be exceeding gratefull, especial is there a restorative glass of madeira to it.
As I eat – 'tis plain fare but good and fresh – Belinda discourses of how Captain P- does, how matters go with their business, the very fine colt that Cherry-ripe bore that they have most exceeding hopes of. 'Tis pleasing to hear how well matters go with 'em.
Then she looks at me and laughs and says, dearest C-, I can see your eyelids go droop, there will be time to exchange further news the morrow.
I smile and say, indeed, a day of travel is extreme exhausting even in such a fine carriage as mine with Ajax on the box, and also would not wish to keep Sophy up, is a young thing that needs her rest.
So I go to my bedchamber, and make sure that Sophy has din’d – o yes, she says, they fed us exceeding well in the kitchen, excellent hospitable – and she goes ready me for bed, and sure 'tis a very comfortable one, and I am asleep very soon. I am woke a little by the cock that goes crow upon the dawn, but soon fall back to slumber.
Sophy comes bring my chocolate and opens the shutters and says, 'tis a pretty morning, Your Ladyship: but you were sleeping so sweet and peacefull I did not like to wake you earlyer.
I rise and go look out of the window and observe Belinda that sits upon the mounting-block talking very amiable with Ajax. But I confide that Belinda is entire us’d to be up at cock-crow.
Why, says I, I entirely confide Docket would have done the like. And I daresay that what I should wear today would be some walking-dress, not too fine, but fine enough to demonstrate my consequence to this fellow that is the agent for the estate.
Sophy nods and says, there is hot water entire ready for you to wash, Your Ladyship. So I go wash, and she arrays me entire suitable for the day’s business, saying, perchance not a parasol, but a hat with a fine shady brim?
Entirely so, says I, but will not put it on just yet.
I go into the parlour, where I find Belinda sitting at table and laughing at me as a sore slugabed.
'Tis so, says I, but I hope you had an agreeable convockation with Ajax?
Indeed, says she, pouring us both coffee and taking a muffin.
Sure the eggs they serve are nigh on as good as Martha’s. But we do not linger at table but go to the premises where the agent conducts business and take him up in my carriage so that we may drive out to T-.
He is most anxious that somewhat might be done about the estate: sure there are improvements that would be most desirable, he fears the tenant-farmers may go leave is there not attention given to matters of drainage and hedging &C, and they are good solid fellows, 'twould entire repay any outlay.
Belinda sighs, and says Chancery, alas.
The agent sighs and says, 'tis a word strikes despair, and proceeds to some long account of some local fellow that took a case to Chancery that stretcht out some several generations.
As we come along the drive, that is heavily overhung by trees, he sighs and says, sure they should be cut back, his father can still recall what a fine sight us’d to be, but 'tis a very gloomy prospect now.
We go into the house that strikes extreme chill even tho’ 'tis such a warm day. All is under dust-sheets. One may see that, was it furbisht up, would be very fine, but as 'tis, is a desolate place entire fit for some Gothick novel.
The agent says that they conduct an annual inspection and undertake any necessary repairs, does the roof leak or is some window broke, and if necessary have a ratting - sure there are fellows in the locality would pay bring their terriers to a fine ratting, lay bets upon 'em &C.
Belinda, that I daresay is somewhat of a connoisseur in the matter, says that a ratting may be a fine sight, and they talk terriers for a while.
I remark that 'tis in a deal better repair than B- House in Town before we went furbish that up. But would certainly require work before 'twas fit for habitation.
We go walk out onto the terrace, that is most agreeable after how gloomy 'tis within-doors, and one may see that at one time the gardens were most exceeding fine but now are greatly overgrown, no longer a wild garden but an entire wilderness. In the distance one may perceive the tower of the fam’d folly.
We ask about the folly and the agent sighs and says, 'twas built as a mock-ruin, as was the fancy of that former generation, 'tis now quite a real ruin that one winter storm, I daresay, will entirely bring down.
No hermit? I ask.
He says that a hermit would have to be desperate indeed to live there, the wind whistles thro’ even does the place not go tumble about his ears.
He takes us about the place a little, without we are oblig’d to walk through nettle-beds &C, and there is a fine chapel that must be of considerable antiquity, to which is annex’d the family mausoleum.
O, says I, I should greatly like to go see my late husband’s tomb and lay flowers upon it.
'Tis fortunate that Belinda ever carries a neat little knife in her reticule, that is sharp enough to cut me some roses from the untend’d bushes that overgrow any beds they were previous confin’d to, and also to trim the thorns from the stems so that I may carry them without hurt.
The agent unlocks the grille, that is exceeding rusty and creaks and squeaks mightyly when 'tis open’d.
I go in, and they display excellent ton by leaving me to the matter, as I walk in and peer at the monuments to see which pertains to the dear good Marquess I marry’d.
I find it at length, and kneel down beside it to lay the flowers at its foot, and lean my head a little upon the cold stone that is engrav’d with his name and his dates of birth and death and naught else – sure I wonder, as I kneel there, whether he might have preferr’d a fine funeral pyre in the classickal fashion than to be in this dark gloomy vault so unlike his fine sunlit villa.
I daresay he would not have car’d what happen’d to his corporeal remains after death provid’d his wishes were carry’d out. Indeed, I think, he would be proud of Marcello. I am in no supposition that his spirit lingers, and yet I whisper very low how matters go.
I leave the flowers there and walk out into the sunlight, where Belinda and the agent are talking hunting very amiable together.
The agent enquires is there anything else we should desire see? Belinda and I look at one another and sigh deeply. For indeed, 'tis exceeding discouraging to see the state of the place, and consider how much needs doing, and how much worse 'tis like to get in the time it may take Chancery to come at some decision that work might be authoriz’d.
Sure, thinks I, I had quite entirely the best part of the Marquess’s legacy.
Interactive robotic Twilight Sparkle. Apparently she has a repertory of 90 sound clips: a mix of phrases and songs. She responds to sound and touch and an on/off switch. She's can't walk, but I think she tries to dance the chicken.
Over $100 US.
(Weirdly, it has slowed down my reading speed. Apparently "taking in an entire paragraph at a time" is an ADHD symptom.)
I've had the symptoms my whole life (allllll the way back to elementary school) but was one of the generation of undiagnosed girls because the diagnosis was based on presentation in boys, and my various coping mechanisms have gone to shit in the last few years as my neuroplasticity wanes. It always seemed like way too much effort to pursue the actual diagnosis until now, but holy shit the difference with the goddamn meds.
EDIT: Forgot to add, also, I FINALLY FOUND AN OB-GYN WHO WILL EVICT MY UTERUS FOR ME. Surgery is in 11 days. NO MORE FUCKING CONSTANT UTERINE CRAMPS
Bread made during the week: the basic Tassajarra yeasted loaf (with my usual adaptations as to liquid milk rather than dried, reduction in amount of sweetener + salt, etc), 50/50 approx white and wholemeal spelt flours, a little molasses. Quite nice.
Saturday breakfast rolls: basic buttermilk, 3:1 strong white flour/coarse cornmeal.
Today's lunch: halibut steaks, which I poached in water + salt, peppercorns, bay leave and a dash of sherry vinegar, with samphire sauce, and served with garlic roasted kalettes (ooowoooo-bopbop-shoowaaaah) and Ruby Gem potatoes roasted in beef dripping. Though I say it as shouldn't, this was all rather good.
That e’en after dinner (sure Arabella shows exceedingly) we have a little dancing, with Miss Millick playing the piano for us, 'tis extreme agreeable and I see quite delights Hester to watch us about it.
When 'tis done, Sandy and I are besought to undertake a little reading for the company. I have been about the library to find some plays that are not Shakspeare, to supply a little variety, and give 'em Mrs Malaprop, that is lik’d exceedingly. There is a proposal that mayhap on the morrow, we might read some play, or part of one, together? 'Tis a pleasing thought.
'Tis also desir’d that Lord O- tells us more of his adventures, that mightily impress the company. (Sure the morrow I must convoke with him about this matter of writing 'em down.)
I sleep most exceeding peacefull and wake only when Sophy comes bring my chocolate.
I ask her how she does in the household, and she says, o, Your Ladyship, most excellent well, Lorimer and Brownlee show exceeding hospitable and they sit together about their sewing and talk of their profession. And there is no saucyness from the menservants.
I am pleas’d to hear it, says I. And as 'tis still quite early of the morn, I will go take a little ride afore breakfast.
'Tis most exceeding pleasant, and I return with a fine appetite.
Sebastian K- is also at table. He says, sure 'tis shocking ton to raise such a matter during this very agreeable house-party, but he apprehends that I go visit my lead-mine, and indeed, they, that is, he and his father, would be most interest’d in establishing a business connexion in the matter, so would desire to be beforehand.
Why, says I, those matters are in the hands of the manager, an excellent fellow, one Mr M-, but do you say a little more to me concerning the business, I will open it to him during my visit there. Do you wait but a little while while I go change, and get my little memorandum book, and we may discourse a little on the matter.
So we do so, walking up and down and around the rose-garden, and proceed from a discussion of that very usefull mineral lead to how matters go with the polish factory, and about Euphemia and Seraphine’s preserves and pickles, and how exceeding prepossessing Herr P- comes on in the matter of business in Germany. 'Tis gratifying.
He then says, sure he would greatly enjoy further converse, but has been promis’d a lesson in archery that he should not wish to miss. Seems quite the crack at present.
Indeed, says I, was very popular at the Q- house-party, and Lady Emily is quite entire Maid Marian.
He goes off to where the butt has been set up.
I see that Hester has been wheel’d out in her chair to sit beside the fountain – 'tis clear she relishes this most extreme, and would sit out in the sunlight all day.
I walk over to her. She looks at my pretty muslin and sighs a little and says, you are always so well-dresst, dear C-, but sure must be exceeding dull for Brownlee to have to deal with my dull wardrobe.
Why, my dear Hester, there is no need at all for your wardrobe to be dull, just because you do not go about in Society. Sure does it not greatly elevate the spirits to be pleasingly dresst?
O, she cries, clasping her hands, do you think I might? Is’t possible?
I consider over this for a little. I daresay that one might contrive – a fine dressmaker might I confide come visit rather than you go to her – you are able stand a little, are you not? – she nods – so you might be measur’d and fitt’d at your convenience. Indeed I cannot see why should not answer. I will go about to desire Docket to advance your interest with Mamzelle Bridgette.
I perch upon the rim of the fountain and look at her. One may still see that at one time she must have been exceeding handsome. Sure, says I, perchance you might also have your hair dresst differently? And while I daresay you should not wish to paint, there are very fine washes and lotions for the complexion.
She sighs and says, for so many years has been her only aspiration to be clean and tidy, sure she never thought to primp. But, she says with determination, so be 'tis not vanity, she will be about it.
But, she goes on, now I am quite embarkt upon a course of self-indulgence, I will open to you another matter.
Why, says I, say on.
'Tis Milly, she says – Miss Millick, that has been governess here these many years, but that will be out of that place once Lou leaves the schoolroom. And 'tis not as tho’ we yet have a new generation ready to take up the horn-book &C. And, she continues a little sadly, I am like to suppose that Tony and Nan might desire a somewhat younger person that has more understanding of the modern ways. Now, my dear C-, I was in some notion to ask you was there any in your circles that might require a governess, but indeed, poor Milly’s age is against her and these days it seems more is expect’d. And indeed one hears that the lot of a governess may be very harsh -
Indeed, 'tis so, says I, thinking of that horrid D- family in which Ellie N- was employ’d.
- and already since Nan and Em have gone into Society, she has been acting somewhat as a companion to me, to fetch and carry, read to me am I too tir’d to read to myself, play a little musick, and such. Would it be exceeding selfish in me to desire her to remain in that capacity?
La, says I, did you desire a companion I am sure Lord U- would consider it entire proper, but might suppose you would desire some younger brisker woman –
O, she cries, I am us’d to Milly, and sure I should be distresst to cast her upon the world.
Why, says I, seems entire answerable.
Comes Arabella across the lawn with a tray, and Selina at her heels, saying she doubts not that Lady N- would like a little sustenance at about this time.
Oh, she says, that is so kind. And I hope that naughty puss has not been troubling you.
Indeed not, says Arabella, bending down to stroke Selina’s head. What a fine cat she is to be sure. She and Lady N- smile at one another. She then turns to me and says, there is a collation laid in the drawing-room does Lady B- wish to partake.
Indeed, says I, this very fine air gives one a great appetite, so may I leave you to Selina’s company, my dear?
Hester smiles and says, she doubts not that Selina makes up to her for titbits and not for the pleasure of her company, the naughty creature, but indeed, do you, Lady B-, go partake.
I walk back towards the house with Arabella, that desires me to advance to Lord O- the desirability of certain improvements in the kitchens at D- Chase, for they are by no means as up to the mark as the ones at O- House.
Indeed I shall, says I, and upon going into the house make a little note in my memorandum book.
I find Lord O- in the drawing-room, that says, the archers have carry’d away a pique-nique to sit about and imitate the Merry Men in Sherwood Forest, but he is come to such an age and has spent so much time of necessity eating in such circumstance, that he prefers to sit in a chair, at a table.
I open to him Arabella’s thoughts upon kitchens - tho’ says I, I confide one might not be about improvements while you have company in the house.
Also, seeing that we are alone, I mention the Earl of I-, that was formerly Lord J-, and enquire whether he had any acquaintance with him. He shakes his head, but says he dares says there are some dubious dealings behind and there are fellows he might go sound out to discover more.
After a pause, he says, are you at leisure, Lady B-, perchance we might convoke over this matter of my writings?
Indeed, says I, 'tis an excellent time to do so.
So we go to the very agreeable room in the turret that he has set aside and furnisht as a study, that I exclaim upon considerable – has fine views and one may indeed see the archers. He hands me over some several pages and says, he can see himself that 'tis sad dry stuff, lacks that vigour that he has enjoy’d in the works of a certain Incognita Lady –
O, poo, says I, does one deal of curses and hauntings and horrid experiments the reader will read on very absorb’d.
But I con over his pages and indeed they lack that spark that animates the account when he tells it. I frown a little over the matter and sure I see points where I might present the thing more telling, just as I may when I scrutinize Josiah’s speeches for Parliament.
I then go ponder a little and say, sure I might come about to work this up, but I wonder, has he thought about who he goes address the narrative to? Did he perchance have some general reader in mind, and sit down to write as if conveying the matter in a letter, rather than as a scientifick report, just as when he tells his tales to the company he shapes 'em to their apprehension, might well answer.
Why, he says, indeed I think you hit it off, Lady B-. Sure there are already letters I writ to my poor brother, for altho’ was such a sickly fellow, greatly relisht the tales of my adventures. I had not thought of that, but indeed, do I go look 'em over – for he preserv’d 'em very carefull, the dear fellow. He sighs somewhat.
He then says, sure that is an excellent fine thought, and goes on, but indeed, should still be very gratefull might you look over my manuscript once 'tis more advanc’d, to see whether I have got the knack of the matter.
Gladly, says I.
He then makes a very generous offer of a donation to one or other of my good causes, that I am very pleas’d to accept.