I can hear most agreeable sounds of rehearsal that come from the reception room, where Mr G- D- is foregather’d with Miss L-, Meg, and Titus.
But still more agreeable is the fine fat letter I hold in my hand, that comes from my dearest Abby and reports 'em all safe land’d in New South Wales and all quite flourishing. 'Tis exceeding pretty to see Ellie’s N-'s wondering delight at the beauties of the place – sure she has become a deal less stiff and proper now she comes to know 'em, and the benign climate quite works magick upon her.
But she is still very dutyfull about giving little C- and Tommie lessons in the form of play, and already goes teach the convicts their letters and numbers.
There were a few of their little flock that sadly had somewhat of a relapse during their absence, but the most of 'em have been most diligent, and several made the most usefull observations on various phaenomena.
Sure she is entire delight’d to be back where she may dress for her comfort and for practicality, tho’ she and dear Mr T- have had a deal of invitations in what constitutes Port Jackson society, that quite longs to hear how matters go Back Home. And, she confides, to see her dresst in the crack of Town fashion, that leads the ladies to suppose she must be a great authority in the matter of styles - she can quite hear dearest C- laugh quite immoderate as she reads this.
(As indeed I do.)
They take a little concern that there has been no news from the scientifick expedition, but indeed, when one considers the extreme chancyness of communications once they are quite got into the wilderness, one should not fret overmuch.
The dear twins are now wean’d, the pretty darlings, and she is in some supposition that she may be increasing again: sure, my dearest C-, I can see your troubl’d frown, and I daresay you go wonder are there no spunges in the antipodes, but 'tis entire a delight to me.
She hopes that all those that are dear to dearest C- are flourishing, in particular that most beauteous of infants, and also confides that dearest C- has a deal of contrivances upon hand, for 'twould not be her did she not.
I look up from the letter somewhat tearfull. What a deal of matter I have to tell dear Abby when I reply. I put it into the drawer of my desk where I keep letters that must be reply’d to at length, and go be dutyfull about my other correspondence.
Hector shows in Sandy, that is follow’d in very short order by Celeste with coffee and parkin.
How now, dear sibyl, I apprehend that there are letters arriv’d from the antipodes? Miss N- gave out quite a shriek this morn that I was inform’d came from that good news.
Indeed, says I, they all arriv’d safe and are about the business of their days once more. O, but 'tis such a long way, and who know what may have come since they writ?
Why, do not borrow trouble, dearest C-.
Sure I am a foolish creature, says I.
Sandy looks at me very affectionate and says, he doubts not that the matter troubles the silly creature so because there is nothing that she may have her hands upon to contrive, she must be oblig’d to wait upon events.
You quite find me out, o bello scozzese! Action at a distance is not answerable when the distance is so great. But do you have any news the morn?
Why, says he, we are successful in getting Mr D- K-'s heir elect’d to the club of his desire: sure it helpt that he is such an obscure fellow that none knew him well enough to get up a blackballing, so all went off exceeding smooth. So we gradually come round to providing for the widow, tho’ sure she will not be able to live very high, once all the debts are paid off.
I have not, says I, had any recent intelligence from her: but sure had she gone murder the dreadfull crocodile at Tunbridge Wells I daresay we should have heard.
I confide 'twould have been report’d upon.
I pour him some more coffee and ask does he go to this antiquarian conversazione where the Marquess of O- will talk upon the Incas?
Indeed so. Of course one has read of ‘em and what a very remarkable civilisation they had before the Spanish came, but 'twill be exceeding delightfull to see some of the objects they made -
- dearest C-, I see you anticipate that I shall go expatiate upon the Incas. Be assur’d, I have sufficient matters to be about that I may not linger in order to do so.
La, says I, so I shall remain an ignorant silly creature.
Sandy looks about the room and observes that there is a fine book about the Incas, that the Marquess of O- has very kindly lent me, lyes upon a low table. Dear C-, keep your protestations of ignorance for Mr W- Y-.
Have you, he goes on, heard about his latest freak? Goes take the laughing gas, that is given out to produce visions.
Sure, says I, he would do better to go lesson himself with Aristarchus, that has made so many stringent criticisms upon his work, and I do not think giggling visions will correct the matter.
Let us hope, says Sandy, endeavouring to keep a straight face, that he does not have visions of swans.
That would be amuzing, says I, sure I am a bad wick’d C-.
I hope that does he read your tale of a daemonick swan, he does not go speculate upon authorship.
Sure 'twould be a wonder, says I, that such a pretty featherwit could string a sentence together.
Why, we may hope that the masquerade continues to deceive him – but I must be about my business, and must not be detain’d by the agreeableness of our converse.
Indeed, says I, sure I must be about mine, I have been so distract’d the morn.
We part with excellent feeling between us.
I am extreme dutyfull and write a deal of letters in which I act the diplomat among the orphanage ladies. I must also contrive some manner of warning Lady D-, that shows some inclination to taking up the orphanage, which is indeed a most deserving cause, but she would be an entire Babe in the Woods among 'em.
But at length I look up, and stretch myself, and take out from its secret drawer my miniature of my precious Flora and kiss it.
And I mind me that I have the most excellent excuse to go visit R- House, for sure all will be pleas’d to hear that the T-s are arriv’d in New South Wales and are well, and I daresay Miss N- would be extreme delight’d to hear of the very fine things Abby has to say about her sister and how well she gets on.
Sure I quite long to see my darlings even if we may not be in triangle.
So I desire Docket to array me for this visit – Docket sniffs, for she apprehends that this means a gown in which I may go be a tiger am I thus desir’d without I damage it too desperate – and take my carriage, into which Hector has very thoughtfull plac’d a box of coals, to R- House.
The footman that opens the door says that the mistress and the master are in the study, and have company.
O, says I, I shall not disturb 'em, I shall go to the schoolroom.
So I make my way to the schoolroom, where Miss N- cannot stop smiling, even tho’ she endeavours to explain certain matters in arithmetick to Quintus, that it seems is having some difficulty over 'em. The girls are busy about compositions. (Josh, I confide, is somewhere with Mr McN- studying the classicks.)
How now, says I, how do you all?
O, Lady B-, cries Miss N-, I have had such a fine letter from Ellie, that is arriv’d safe at Port Jackson and likes it extremely.
And I, says I, have had a good long letter from Mrs T-, that has very fine things to say about your sister and how she goes get a grip on the work that is need’d out there.
O, cries Bess, how are the twins? (sure she was greatly taken with the twins.)
I sit down and Miss N- and I go almost antiphonal to recount the news we have receiv’d – sure, indeed this is entire educational - the exceeding good feeling that there is 'twixt the T-s and Ellie N- - the very great desire of the convicts of the congregation for learning - the flourishing of the children – the invitations into society among the officers and officials and the free settlers that trade and farm &C – the extreme fine climate - the very curious flora and fauna –
She sounds so exceeding happy, says Miss N- with a little joyfull tearfullness.
I take my leave of em and go peep into the nursery, where my darling jewel shows touchingly affectionate, as well as desiring her tiger.
Sure, thinks I, by now any company must have left, I will go look in upon my darlings.
So I go to the family room, and find that Eliza and Josiah are engag’d in a lively conversation about the polish factory with Sebastian K-.
He rises and makes me a most exceeding polisht leg.
Eliza goes ring for tea.
I say to Sebastian K- that I am glad to see him return’d well from his travels and hope they were agreeable.
Indeed, says Josiah, twould be a great pleasure to hear of 'em – Mr K- came on his father’s behalf about some matters to do with the factory – but I think we are all conclud’d by now and ready to hear of his adventures.
Twould be a pleasure, says Sebastian K-.
We sit looking at him like children that hope for a story.