pinesandmaples: A silver necklace in the shape of a Louisiana with a heart cutout. (New Orleans: heart)
([personal profile] pinesandmaples Aug. 16th, 2017 10:26 pm)
Highlights of my day include:
  • leaving my lover in Atlanta while I am back in New Orleans for the summer.
  • having two of my knives stolen from my knife roll while it was checked baggage. (I fucking know, right?!)
  • saving myself some serious cash by switching from one insurance agency to another for my renters insurance.
  • figuring out how to get my fall grad school experience together after a really weird summer of...well, that deserves to be unpacked. But not now.

    But I'm home. My house isn't a disaster. My housemate is in good spirits and is not the Bro. I didn't spontaneously move to Atlanta. Everything will be okay. My Christmas tree might even recover from being unwatered for far too long.

    It's not all disaster and pain. Just some head-scratching weirdness.
  • Dearest Lucy

    It was the most delightful of pleasures to receive your letter and to hear that you had been safely delivered of a fine baby boy, that I daresay will be walking and talking by the time you receive this. What a very fine man Mr Lowndes sounds to be, I am most greatly sorry I never met him. It is immensely reassuring to me to think that you have the companionship of such an excellent lady with such wisdom in matters of maternity as Mrs Ferraby. I only hope that you do not go about to overdo, betwixt motherhood, your responsibilities towards your pupils, and your writing for Mr Lowndes’ paper.

    But, indeed, I am not one to preach upon the matter, for I am quite constantly kept busy here: not only do I begin the Thornes’ dear children on the rudiments, but I continue to find a great desire for education among the convicts of our community, and a wish to have letters written by those that do not yet feel confident in writing them themselves, although there are now some few that have come on to be able to instruct their fellows. I also assist the Thornes with their observations.

    And besides that, Abby Mrs Thorne and I find ourselves assisting Mr Carter in matters of nursing the sick. I do not recollect whether I wrote to you before about Mr Carter? – he came to this land in the capacity of surgeon to the scientific expedition, but has fallen so in love with the country that he has determined to stay, to collaborate with the Thornes in their scientific enterprizes, and also to run a dispensary for our people. But I daresay even I had not mentioned this to you, you would have heard somewhat of the matter from Lady Bexbury, for we have applied to her for the provision of surgical instruments, drugs, &C, that are very hard to come by here. There is not a deal of injury and disease, for we practice sound measures of hygiene, but there will always be some accidents and ailments.

    Mr Carter is a most excellent man, a most adept surgeon – oh, Lucy, I try to write of him in a sober fashion, but I must tell you, that we find ourselves in a most happy condition of mutual admiration, and purpose to marry very shortly. He is the dearest of fellows, and it is no wonder that he is so greatly esteemed by Mr and Mrs Thorne. Sure I have found myself, to my astonishment and sometimes embarrassment, courted by several gentlemen in this place, from government officers to free settlers, some of whom grow exceeding wealthy on the backs of sheep: but I have found none that I could like as much as Mr Carter.

    He is the finest of men, has a most humane spirit – there is very bad treatment goes on of the aboriginal peoples of the land, that he has a great admiration for, saying that when he was with the scientific expedition all were most prepossessed with their abilities in tracking and hunting and finding sustenance in what appeared a barren wilderness, where the products of civilization would have wandered in circles, or sat down and waited for death. He is writing up a memorandum on the subject, and wondered if, did we send it to you when completed, Mr Lowndes might publish it?

    Indeed those years with the Duggetts seem like some nightmare from which I have now awakened. I am sure you would laugh and teaze me unmercifully did I tell you how wonderful I find the Thornes; they are quite the finest companions one could have.

    But I mind that there was a thing I meant to ask you, about whether there was any in your circles that might pursue the matter. There has lately come about these parts two gentlemen – I say gentlemen because although they show the effect of hardships and are burnt very brown by the sun, they are clearly well-bred educated fellows does one speak to them – Mr Perry and Mr Derringe, that have some intention to set up a school for boys, for there is a considerable desire among the settlers &C to have their sons educated as gentlemen. While they go about to raise interest for this enterprize, they undertake some private tutoring. And one day came to us Mr Perry, half-carrying Mr Derringe that had some fever or other about him, seeking Mr Carter’s aid in this extremity.

    We have a few beds attached to the dispensary, and he was laid in one of them, and examined by Mr Carter, who determined that ‘twas some fever very like unto the mala aria: most fortunate he keeps some fever bark about the dispensary, so quite immediate went about preparing a tincture. Meanwhile, he desired me to sponge the fellow to cool his fever.

    So I went about this, and Mr Carter managed to convey him some of the tincture, and he seemed a little better, but then Mr Carter was called away, and said to me, dear Miss Netherne, would you greatly mind sitting by Mr Derringe and continuing to sponge him and keep him quiet, giving him a little of the tincture every few hours? Why, said I, I was about to ask was there anything I might do, so he left me with careful instructions.

    I sat by Mr Derringe for some hours, and it seemed to me that he was troubled in his mind, and it did not seem entire delirium, and in due course he disclosed to me very halting and in between shivering fits, that he had on his conscience that he had allowed a young lady to whom he was affianced to suppose that he was dead of a fever in the South Seas, and it would have been a better and more honourable course to communicate to her that he had found that he was such a fellow as would not make her a good husband and thus set her at liberty with no obligation to mourn. She was, he said, a Miss Fenster, her father was the vicar of Upper Stobbing.

    So to reassure him I said that the Thornes and I had numerous connexions in England that might be able to go about to find the present condition of the lady, but was it not like that she had by now married another? Very like, he said, she was a quite excellent young woman. So, dear Lucy, I write to you to ask are there any in your circles might go about with discretion to discover the present whereabouts of this lady, for it is clear that the business continues to prey upon Mr Derringe’s mind even though he has recovered from his fever, and Mr Carter fears 'twill bring about some relapse.

    Oh, my dear Lucy, the only spot upon my happiness is that you may not be present at my wedding, that Mr Thorne will perform, and that I cannot see you and little Andrew and your excellent husband. Please convey my very greatest respects to Mr and Mrs Ferraby and to Lady Bexbury, that great patroness of our enterprize here: oh what a foolish misguided narrow-minded creature I was to so misjudge her fine qualities.

    With every affection, your loving sister, Ellie

    pinesandmaples: Cartoon cupcake with chocolate frosting and many hearts.  (us: sweet gifts)
    ([personal profile] pinesandmaples Aug. 15th, 2017 07:22 pm)

    I am, by some magical fluke and a few mystical moonlit nights, the apple of this lady's eye. We've spent the summer just...together. All of July, most of August, a hint of June. Nearly 2 months of going from a time-zone away to being across the room from each other most of the day. She's lovely and smitten. Today, because I felt pretty crummy, we spent a few hours sitting in the sun on the Chattahoochee River. Our last day of summer. Back to replying to emails and updating the blog and keeping up with my life instead of just being an unreachable, low-key mess. Back to...not being with her.

    A little motivation for The Intern, who just f'ing loves nature, you know? Also, my view for the afternoon. What a treat!
    copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
    ([personal profile] copperbadge Aug. 14th, 2017 08:12 am)
    Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

    Ways To Give:

    Anon linked to a fundraiser for Mike "Mictlan" Marquez, one of the MCs in the rap co-op Doomtree (featured several times on Welcome to Night Vale's weather reports). He was recently diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes and like many artists is uninsured; he's expecting significant expenses for treatment he's already had (an ER visit and Diabetic Ketoacidosis) as well as ongoing treatment. You can read more and support his medical fundraiser here.

    [profile] demond119 is raising funds with husband Jeremy to help with after-care costs of his heart transplant; he's currently on the waiting list at the Mayo Clinic, and once he has the transplant, he will need an extended stay at a transplant house (Gift of Life) for several months. You can read more and reblog here and support the fundraiser here.

    [profile] emeraldonyxdragon is raising funds to support herself while studying in London this fall. She was accepted to a graduate program there but her savings have gone to help her parents with debts; in joining the program she would also be able to escape an abusive household. To help raise awareness, she is holding a contest -- reblogs and likes on her fundraising post could win you a fanfic of your choice. You can support the fundraiser directly here.

    [ profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.


    We're all aware of what happened in Charlottesville this weekend; there are some concrete ways to take action here and orgs to support here and just in case you need a little encouragement here is Asiatic Clam Man to remind you that you can do it.

    Buy Stuff, Help Out:

    [ profile] magpiesmiscellany has a selection of tree-of-life pendants in various shapes, colors, and sizes for sale, with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, Doctors Without Borders, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, and the National Immigration Law Center. You can read more and purchase them here.

    News To Know:

    Leverage Big/Mini Bang signups are open! I ran RFM items letting people know about the Bang for a few weeks, and now you can register to participate. You can read more and sign up here (sign up links are at the bottom of the post -- at least on my screen they don't actually look like links but they are, I promise!)

    And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
    I am home! 

    I broke camp around six this morning, and when I started the hike it was 6:35 exactly, because I for once had the presence of mind to log it. Just getting to the trailhead was a couple of miles, due to some unforeseen obstructions (I did not get lost, there were just two unexpected fences, and also a long stretch of “closed” road that was a weird little detour through a post-apocalyptic landscape), so while I had planned to do about six miles, I ended up doing a little over eight and a half in three and a half hours, which considering I was carrying a 40lb pack I think was pretty good. 

    I missed the 9:49 train to Chicago by two minutes. I literally saw it pulling away from the station as I arrived. The next train was at 1:15, but it’s just as well I was delayed, since it meant I got to rest my feet for a while and also got to help at least a half dozen people figure out a) how the train worked, b) how much tickets were, and c) which train to get on. 

    So, I think the trip was a success. I worked out how the camp-reservation system at Dunewood functions, I tested out all my equipment (all remarkably functional, though I think I need to work on sleeping comfort issues), and I measured my endurance limit for hiking with a weighted pack. 

    It is about eight miles. That last half mile nearly killed me. 

    Also I got to return the Diane Mott Davidson book to the donation rack so someone else can enjoy it, and I added a book or two as well, which is a good thing since someone just offloaded a shitload of Clive Barker and it’s nice to have a little variety. 

    Now I am going to sit on the sofa, possibly order a pizza, and deliberately not empty out my pack until tomorrow. 

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    Yr humble amanuensis is most entire grateful for the comments on the recently concluded novella.

    There are still a few snippets in hand and - possibly - one or two longer pieces.

    Watch this space.

    So I got my new temporary crown put on my molar today.  

    Me before the procedure: So are you taking off the old one and putting on a new one, or just like, remolding the old one?

    Dentist: We’re putting on a new one. Unless we can somehow fit your head in an eight thousand degree oven.

    Me: Don’t do that. I sunburn easily. 

    At which point the dental assistant lost her shit and let out the loudest cackle I’ve ever heard in a dental office. 

    They put the temporary crown on and told me to bite down to affix the glue, but when I bit down I cracked the damn crown in half. Apparently it was a defective crown, but many jokes were made about my jaw strength and how maybe I should fuckin’ relax a little if I can bite through a crown while off my face on nitrous. 

    Even with insurance it ran me $400 for the temporary crown, the permanent crown, and a surcharge for nitrous (because fuck having dental procedures without nitrous). That hurt worse than my tooth does. Fortunately for my pocketbook I have a medical flex-spending card, but I used up the last of it today, so let’s all hope I don’t break any limbs between now and January. I’ve gone over a year without having to have surgery upon my insides or a cast affixed to my person, so I think we can keep the streak alive. Traditionally I only get seriously injured in the summer months at any rate, so there’s that at least. 

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    Geoffrey’s confusion over the owner of the library brings to Sandy’s mind that there are still several trunks of his stored somewhere about the house, containing his own books and other matters, and does he intend staying here, he might unpack them and see is there some place he might keep them more convenient.

    He mentions this to Clorinda. O, indeed, she cries, I daresay one might put up more shelves in the library, mayhap a few about your chamber – I wonder might we come about to make a study for you –

    No, no, I am quite contented to be about philosophizing in the library –

    Do I not disturb you am I in and out?

    Not in the least, dearest Clorinda. And, my dear, do I continue to be part of this household, you have been treating me entirely as a guest in Liberty Hall, but I should wish to pay my way -

    Clorinda looks as if she might object, and then says, with a lopsided smile, that sure he would not wish to be a kept man and 'twould be somewhat to reassure the dear children that he does not take advantage of a poor lonesome creature –

    Exactly. I do not wish to acquire the reputation of a parasite.

    O, poo. But let us go summon Hector about this matter of shelves: I doubt not he will say that do we have carpenters in there are other matters that would require their attention.

    This is indeed so. Hector also shows some disposition towards bringing down the trunks from the attic in which they are stored for Sandy’s examination, but is finally prevailed upon to concede that this may take place in the attic, and only such matters as turn out to be required need be brought down.

    So the next morn, he ascends to the attic and looks at the boxes that hold his past life, and tells himself that he must be philosophical about the business, for it is entirely foolish to leave all these things stowed away.

    And is almost undone at the outset, flinging open a lid and finding, resting on top of everything, his worn volume of Burns’ poems. That had been with him so long and to so many places, and from which he had read at so many gatherings.

    He picks it up as if it might bite. Closes his eyes and lets it fall open (entire superstition) and then opens his eyes to read

    Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
    Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
    Never met or never parted,
    We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

    Tears spring to his eyes, as he is overwhelmed by the memories of how indeed he and Gervase had loved so kindly, had enjoyed happiness for so many years in a world so very hostile to men like them. And he would not have given that up in spite of the grief he feels now. Gervase at his fencing practice. Gervase frowning thoughtfully at his mirrored reflection and adjusting his cravat. Gervase teaching him to dance. Gervase clinging to him in the aftermath of nightmare. Gervase’s face when he returned from Naples. Gervase laughing at some sally of Clorinda’s. Gervase practising a speech so that he might give it in the Lords without stammering. Gervase in that masquerade costume as a Jacobite out of Scott.

    He lets the memories flood over him.

    Some hours later, though he has not quite finished the task, for each box opened releases further clouds of memories, the antithesis of the evils that emerged from Pandora’s box, he goes downstairs to the parlour, clutching the volume of Burns in his hand.

    Clorinda looks up. You have cobwebs in your hair, o bello scozzese. She stands up and comes over and reaches up to brush them away.

    Listen! he says, and begins to read the lines to her, realising as he does so that his voice is softening out of the English intonation it has acquired over the years –

    - and Clorinda bursts into heaving sobs quite unlike the affecting tearfulness she will sometimes manifest, and leaning on his chest, gasps out, O, Sandy, I miss them so much.

    He puts his arms around her, reminded of the time she disclosed in similar fashion that she was with child. Dear Clorinda, he says.

    At length her sobs diminish and she leans away from him, fumbling for her handkerchief, blowing her nose, and making apologies, saying, La, you are not obliged to endeavour go soothe a lady that succumbs to a fit of hysterics.

    He hugs her to him again and says, Perchance it might ease your mind to talk sometimes of happy times with one that knows somewhat of the inwardness?

    She gives a shaky laugh and says, Fie, Mr MacDonald, I confide you would be mightily shocked did I so.

    Must be of considerable philosophical and scientific interest, he says.

    They both fall into a fit of somewhat hysterical giggling.

    Clorinda sits down and dabs at her eyes and says, does she look calm enough that the household will not get into a fret does any observe her? For she confides that they could both do with some good strong coffee.

    When she has tidied herself a little she rings the bell to request coffee.

    As they sit drinking it, he looks across at his friend and says, Dearest Clorinda, I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange? Sure I do not know how I would have contrived without you. You have always been so kind to one that I fear can be a very tiresome fellow.

    La, my dear, you have ever shown more than civil to a silly creature of no education, spoke to me as if I was a rational being, been the kindest of friends. Sure we have been through a deal of difficulties together: though none, she adds thoughtfully, as trying as this present one.

    They both sigh and gaze mournfully into their cups. And then look up again and smile at one another.

    The door opens and Josh comes in, dishevelled and weary-eyed. I have, he says, been attending upon the accouchement of Lady Raxdell’s wanton doggie. Do we know any that would like a puppy of extreme dubious ancestry?

    Why, says, Clorinda, let us go think over those of our acquaintance that have children that would greatly desire a puppy, and would not go be nice over matters of breeding -

    The two men look at her fondly and smile.

    - I suppose one cannot yet tell are they like to be fine ratters, sure Sam will always be glad of ratters for the stables – but I could not offer take one myself, Motley and Fribble would object most vehement –

    Through the half-open door Prue can be heard singing hymns about her work - I woke: the dungeon flamed with light.

    And Sandy thinks that his own dungeon of loss does not flame yet with light: but there is the small steady candle of Clorinda’s love and concern driving away the worst of the shadows.

    I am going CAMPING this weekend, I am DETERMINED, and I take it as a sign that after having bought a whistle and promptly lost it, when repacking my backpack tonight I FOUND IT AGAIN. (It was, for some reason, in the very bottom of the bag. Why would I put it there? Nobody knows.) 

    I have the third Diane Mott Davidson book from the library, ready for reading, and also I’ve packed the second book and an additional book to leave at the Dune Park train stop, to repay the world for the joy I had from reading Dying For Chocolate. 

    I have spent all summer doing recon and building up my supply stash, and now I AM READY. 

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    Somehow, he is not sure how, he cannot feel that he has made some definite decision in the matter, it seems easier to do than not to, Sandy finds himself dining somewhat more frequently than once a week with Geoffrey Merrett. Occasionally he thinks that there is somewhat ironic about this arrangement: for is that not what he at first supposed there was with Gervase? A matter of convenience for two fellows of like desires to gratify them most discreet. It is only now that he apprehends what a difference there was.

    He is sitting having a peaceful quiet evening with Clorinda, both of them reading, and he looks up and says, somewhat to his own surprize, that he cannot fathom how that trick of substituting one person for another in bed could work –

    Well, my dear, I think we may suppose that Angelo had not had carnal knowledge of Mariana, nor Bertram of Helena, and that both encounters took place in the dark. And perchance there was a matter of sprinkling with some perfume – she gives a small private smile – that was that of one lady rather than another. But sure one would suppose that Count Almaviva would know his own wife! Indeed, 'tis like the convention that does one put on a domino, even one’s intimates will be deceived.

    I am not persuaded, she goes on, that 'tis entire true that all cats are grey at night - for there are other distinctions in the matter, the size, the length of the hair, do they have an ear missing, the sound of the purring – by which one might distinguish one cat from another even in the dark. Should never confuse Motley with Fribble.

    He smiles at her.

    It begins to dawn upon him that Geoffrey is not taking the matter in the same prudential spirit as himself. Will mention gentlemen that have set up a joint household for the convenience and economy of the thing – says that he dares suppose they may see a deal of one another over the summer even is Society out of Town, for he hears that Sandy is invited to Dambert Chase? And he is sure that he can prevail upon his brother to extend an invitation to Monks Garrowby – sure there are opportunities they may make –

    He does not know why this should cast him into such gloom, but it does so. Had been thinking of the invitation to Hampshire, where he might talk classics with Lady Jane, and the latest discoveries in science with Jacob Samuels, and whatever came into Martha Samuels' head. And watch Raoul de Clérault painting, and would all be soothing to his spirits. At Dambert Chase it was the prospect of good talk with Tony Offgrange, walks to the Rectory and fine conversation with the Lucases. Not spaniel devotion –

    My dear, says Clorinda one morn as they are at the breakfast table, I should not be perturbed did I see the dour Calvinistical glare, but latterly you look most extreme miserable – not, she goes on, that I should expect you to look lightsome and cheerful, but you do appear out of the common distressed about somewhat. Was you not a freethinker I should suppose you had come to some consideration that you were eternally damned.

    Dear sibyl, he says at length, I am in an entire muddle, but you have disentangled mayhap worse muddles of mine in former days. And proceeds to lay the matter before her.

    Clorinda begins to laugh quite immoderate, and then forces herself into sobriety. My dear, I do not laugh at you and your predicament, but I daresay I should disclose that some years ago Mr Merrett asked for my hand in marriage –


    La, I had shown kind to him, and perchance – 'twas a time when Society was but slowly returning to Town, you and Milord had gone that jaunt to the Highlands, there was some matter to do with the ironworks detained my darlings from their return – I paid him a little more attention than I might otherwise have done. And listened most sympathetic to the account of his very particular difficulties, &C. And it came to him that marrying a lady that knew what's what and had seen life might answer, for these young women on the marriage market are very ignorant and one could not raise the matter before the wedding –

    Indeed, Sandy finds himself surprized into laughter. Did he so? he gasps at length.

    Clorinda puts on a demure expression. He did so. So, I said that I apprehended that he would claim a certain liberty within those bonds, and sure, was I ever minded to remarry, should desire a similar liberty, would tie up my fortune, and moreover the profession have give it out that I am unlike to see increase but that might be of no moment to him –

    To be just, she adds, I do not think he had any particular thought to my pleasing competence; but he then looked at me and I think went consider what 'twould mean to marry a woman with a mind and will of her own that has seen the things I have seen, and that we had had a most agreeable and amusing interlude but that marriage was a very different proposition.

    You were not obliged to go about as you did with that fellow Croce in Naples?

    Clorinda giggles and says, most fortunately, no. But, she goes on, putting on a serious expression, I think I must go speak to Mr Merrett, about taking advantage of a fellow that still grieves – for indeed, 'tis like unto widows, that may show pliant to suitors not because they are so used to having a man, as idle tongues will have it, but because they are in a daze.

    What, I am a readily beguiled widow?

    Dearest Sandy, you were together with Milord nigh upon thirty years. 'Twould reflect poorly upon the both of you did you not mourn. But 'tis the worse for you that you may not show it, dress in weeds, eschew society, &C –

    You must know somewhat of that.

    'Tis true, she says a little tearfully, but I had my good people about me, took care of me. But I will go write Mr Merrett a note desiring him to call upon me. Can be nothing exceptionable in summoning him: I daresay he will suppose I wish put some deserving case in his way. I might also go suggest to him that although his family quite accepts the pretty devotion of the Ladies of Attervale, might be somewhat of a different matter when 'tis gentlemen –

    Do you go tell me that Lady Emily and Miss Fenster are of the Sapphic disposition?

    La, my dear, had you not guessed?

    Indeed I am a fool, dear sibyl, but - sure women are entire a mystery to me.

    O, poo, Mr MacDonald, sure you have not been immured in some monastery, you have several good female friends, women cannot be so entire a mystery to you –

    Oh, I see what 'tis – I do not think women of them, I think Hannah or Lady Jane or Susannah Wallace.

    She smiles at him. Did you not, o, many years ago, write to me of those among your peripatetic philosophical set that talked of women as if they had never met one and as if they were some rare creature of which they had heard report? There are indeed certain aspects of women you have not encountered, but as a sex they are not strangers to you.

    I will also concede, he says, that I have at times been out in my judgements of my own sex.

    They smile at one another.

    Sandy is greatly tempted to be out of the house when Geoffrey Merrett calls, but merely goes seclude himself in the library. Where he finds himself in a considerable curiosity as to what Clorinda is telling him, indeed is unable to settle to anything.

    At length, Hector comes in to ask whether he is at home to Mr Merrett?

    It would be cowardly, unmanly and a little cruel to shirk this interview.

    Comes in Geoffrey most chastened and quite abject apologetic for the very poor ton he has manifested. Alas, the admiration he had so long borne towards Mr MacDonald led him into this unmannerly imposition.

    This is so pretty and touching a sight that Sandy pulls Geoffrey into his arms, kisses him fondly and apologises that he himself, alas, is yet unable to love again.

    Indeed, cries Geoffrey, how could it be otherwise?

    (Sandy wonders, not for the first time, whether Gervase had succumbed to that melting adoration during that time the two of them were so horribly at outs and he had fled to Naples to beg Clorinda to return to her wonted haunts. Fencing lessons – instruction in driving – considerable opportunities. )

    But, he continues, perchance, someday - ?

    Sandy makes some non-committal reply. Adoration and admiration are all very well, but he cannot envision Geoffrey teazing him out of his gloomy moods, or having Gervase’s way of dealing with a dour Calvinistical glare.

    Geoffrey steps back and looks about their surroundings. I see you have your library around you already.

    'Tis Lady Bexbury's, he says.

    Oh – an inheritance from her late husband?

    (It pleases Sandy more than it should to apprehend that Mr Merrett may have shared Clorinda’s bed – in a far more conventional sense than he himself ever has – but has no notion that she is a lady keeps a fine library for use rather than ornament.)

    Sandy has already made the deduction that although Josh lacks those feelings of aversion towards carnal embraces with his own sex that are so dreadfully common, his inclinations are predominantly towards the fairer one. It is therefore with somewhat of a bitter amusement that he discovers himself feeling some resentment, not on his own behalf but on that of Hannah, when Josh begins to spend a deal of time in the company of the Dowager Duchess of Humpleforth, and he cannot suppose that their discourse is entirely concerned with the fauna of India and the habits of the mongoose.

    He mentions the matter to Clorinda. Who smiles and says, sure freedom in the heart’s affections may be claimed by men as a license to be amorous butterflies and commit seductions – one may recall that dreadful fellow Herr Paffenrath, that indeed, one still hears occasional intelligence of and thus can never be presumed dead so his poor wife might be released (Gretchen Paffenrath, he collects, was left very comfortably situated upon the demise of the late Mr Knowles) – but my dear, women may also follow that creed, sure I am no entire unique creature.

    And, she goes on, Julia is a childless widow of considerable fortune that was married to a doating but somewhat tedious elderly husband, I do not suppose that mongeese take up all her heart. Can do her no harm to be seen as a patroness of a famed explorer and zoologist.

    Do you think so, dearest Clorinda, I will defer to your fabled understanding of the human heart –

    - O, poo, Mr MacDonald, you take advantage that I have no fan in hand to smite flatterers –

    - provided that you are assured that Hannah will not be upset in the matter. (How easy it is, he realizes, to slip back into their old teazing converse.)

    I confide not. 'Tis very pretty in you to be concerned for her.

    She is an excellent young woman, he says.

    You do not need convince me of her merits! and, by way of an association by pun, is’t not tonight you go dine with that beacon of the Bar, Mr Geoffrey Merrett?

    Indeed it is: and, why, dear silly creature, should that make you smile thus?

    I cannot imagine what you mean: how is’t that I smile? And why should I not smile do you go dine with a fellow that has ever had the greatest admiration for you?

    But, somehow, the quite antient joke about the Honble Geoffrey’s very great, positively worshipful, admiration for him no longer seems as amusing as it used to be.

    It is, perhaps, a little to wonder at that so eligible a bachelor as Mr Merrett has not yet married: brother of the Earl of Nuttenford, a most highly-spoke of barrister, exceeding well-looking, a good deal of address…

    And not indifferent to the charms of womanhood, does gossip not lie –

    But indeed, 'tis a topic Mr Merrett has no hesitation in raising himself when making entire unnecessary apologies for his bachelor establishment: indeed, marriage may be an excellent fine thing, but he takes the thought that one marries, and there are a deal of social obligations, and then one has to keep up a certain style of living, and the next thing one knows is that one is taking on cases because they will be well-remunerated, and not because of the justice of the thing –

    (For indeed, Mr Merrett already has a reputation for taking on cases that will not be remunerative, but will defend the defenceless; it is entirely admirable in him.)

    - and furthermore, he has been brought to an apprehension of the very inequitable nature of marriage, he cannot suppose that MacDonald has not read the very fine writings of the youngest Miss Ferraby and Miss Roberts upon the subject, gives men a deal of quite tyrannical power; but does one consider a free union, may have quite the most adverse effects for the woman and any offspring unless one goes live among Owenites or such –

    The port – it is really most excellent port – has been back and forth several times. There are also excellent cigars.

    - and then – the eloquence falters for a little while – there are also matters of the exclusiveness that goes with that institution, that may trouble one.

    Oh? says Sandy, raising his eyebrows.

    Not that I incline to the vulgar way that my father went on –

    Why, responds Sandy, he was at least discreet in his pleasures, could have been a deal worse.

    ’Tis true, but one cannot like the way he went about the business. And surely 'tis possible to have affection for more than one –

    (Sandy cannot see how this follows, but he listens on.)

    And perchance there might be one that, in the present state of society, one may not offer those open manifestations of feeling approved by convention –

    Because, suggests Sandy, those feelings are looked on with great severity by the law?

    I see you apprehend me, says the Honble Geoffrey, pouring himself more port and pushing the decanter across the table. And yet one sees that although there are very degraded manifestations of such feelings – alas, have I not seen evidence of that in the courtroom? – they may also rise to quite the highest form of human affection.

    My dear Merrett, says Sandy in his driest tones, you do not need to convince me. You are of sufficient acuity to have deduced how matters stood 'twixt myself and Lord Raxdell.

    Indeed, 'twas an entirely admirable thing. Sure he is a great loss.

    Sandy pours himself another glass of port to have somewhat to do, and then takes and lights a cigar. Immense, he says at length.

    There must have been some other words between them? How is it – how many times did the port go to and fro? – that the Honble Geoffrey Merrett is kneeling before him and giving considerable proof that this is by no means the first time he has done the like. And Sandy finds parts of him entire relishing the procedure, he cannot claim any reluctant shrinking. 'Twould be the poorest of ton to call a halt to the matter –

    And sure 'twould be in the poorest of ton not to provide some reciprocation –

    And 'tis morning when he leaves, having – somehow – promised to dine again within the week, and yet feeling a cloud of gloomy despondency settling over him as he walks – 'tis light, the streets these days are a deal safer, he feels that he needs the exercise –

    The cloud will not be outrun.

    It is with relief that he comes at last to Clorinda’s door.

    Hector looks not in the least discomposed by his arrival, and says that Her Ladyship is breakfasting in the parlour, does he care to join her.

    He can hear that Clorinda is not alone, but supposes that her companion must be Josh.

    But going in, sees that across the table from her, eating a mutton-chop, is Matt Johnson.

    Clorinda looks around. Do sit down, Sandy, I confide Hector has gone bustle Euphemia into bringing more food and fresh coffee.

    Matt Johnson grins and says, Hector is an even braver fellow than he supposed does he dare bustle Euphemia. A fine formidable woman.

    Sandy sits down and says, is there some trouble?

    La, says Clorinda, must it ever be some matter of trouble brings Mr Johnson to our door? Was simply passing by and called see how we did.

    Matt looks somewhat relieved at this account, and then Euphemia comes in with devilled kidneys and more eggs and a pot of fresh coffee.

    As he eats and drinks coffee he finds himself looking from one to the other of them and wondering. Could it really be - ? Clorinda in her wrapper, Matt very much at his ease, and indeed, there has been a certain sympathy betwixt the two of them ever since their first meeting.

    In due course Matt takes his leave.

    Just passing by? asks Sandy.

    Clorinda sighs. I hope, o bello scozzese, you are not going to turn upon me a frown quite worthy of John Knox and chide me for my wanton behaviour –

    Sure I should be quite the greatest hypocrite did I so, but –

    La, is not rank but the guinea’s stamp, and are not my own origins humble indeed? But, my dear, is’t so?

    He sighs. Indeed it is.

    I stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way home tonight and bought a box of mushrooms, two chicken breasts, a bottle of General Tso’s sauce, and a ciabatta baguette. (Bet some of you didn’t even know you could get a ciabatta baguette, but you can! Delicious cultural blasphemy!) 

    I came home, chopped up the chicken and mushroom, stir-fried them with some roasted garlic, added the sauce, and ate the results with avocado slices on the ciabatta baguette. I am telling you all this in the spirit of bragging because it was AMAZING. 

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    ([personal profile] copperbadge Aug. 7th, 2017 08:05 am)
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    Sandy cannot truthfully say that he looks forward to anything these days, but he confides that a small dinner party at Mulcaster House is unlikely to prove an entire ordeal; there will be a good deal of tacit understanding of the situation, he will be among kind friends.

    Did you not, he says to Josh, have a great admiration for the Duchess in your youth?

    That was Harry, says Josh. He sighs somewhat.

    You must look upon these occasions, says Clorinda, as scratching Society in the places it finds agreeable, do you wish gain patronage for the various causes you are about.

    Josh sighs again and says, indeed he understands the necessity, and he apprehends His Grace has already done a considerable amount to advance the cause of more humane treatment of animals.

    Also, Clorinda goes on, Jacob and Martha Samuels will be there, and dear Martha writes a deal in the agricultural press, her thoughts upon poultry are most highly esteemed, and might do somewhat there.

    The carriage draws up at Mulcaster House and they are shown into the drawing-room.

    Josh pauses upon the threshold, with his my-very-own-infant-wombatt? expression.

    O, cries Clorinda with delight, 'tis dear Julia. One was in great fears she would decide remain at Bombay – the Dowager Duchess of Humpleforth, she adds, turning to Josh.

    I collect, he says. She came visit the mongoose one day. I did not know she had been widowed.

    O, some considerable while, says Clorinda, her husband was much older – 'twas a second marriage.

    They go make civil to the rest of the party.

    Admiral Knighton and Lady Jane are of the party: the Admiral comes wring Josh by the hand, remark that he looks very well for his travels, sure Africa may be a very unhealthful place. Josh smiles and says, sure Africa is exceeding large, and he went nowhere near the Bight of Benin of such ill-fame. The Admiral recounts his own experiences in that unhappy spot.

    He then bows over Clorinda’s hand, murmuring, still the finest woman in Town. Clorinda taps him lightly with her fan, but looks gratified.

    Josh says, looking about, that he wonders whether he might persuade Mrs Samuels to come draw some of his beasts? Has never become truly adept with pencil and brush.

    Sandy cannot suppose that Martha Samuels would be anything but delighted, and indeed, when Josh goes address her on the matter, shows in some disposition to cut dinner and go at once to the warehouse. He himself takes opportunity to make some preliminary soundings as to whether Jacob Samuels knows aught of the scientific set in Philadelphia.

    Clorinda has gone talk to the Dowager Duchess, that is saying somewhat to the effect that Bombay is not what it was in her childhood, to which Her Grace of Mulcaster remarks that have not poets writ of the enchanted haze that recollection casts over childhood scenes?

    (He cannot recall any enchanted scenes from his own childhood.)

    He is to take Lady Jane into dinner: a very agreeable prospect. Clorinda is being approached by Lord Sallington, that does not at all have the air of one dutifully doing the civil to a friend of his parents, but of one that will doubtless go boast to his friends of having been at table with the fascinating Lady Bexbury. He is given out to be something of a connoisseur of art, and while there is a fine tradition of collecting in the ducal family, it may be supposed that he gets some of his eye from his late mother, His Grace’s first duchess.

    At dinner, he can hear that Her Grace of Mulcaster quizzing Josh about the languages of Africa; he mentions running across certain missionaries that are about compiling dictionaries of the various tongues.

    Lady Jane says to Sandy with a small smile that she will not venture beyond Latin and Greek: hears that there are given out to be excellent fine works in Sanskrit and Persian, but confides that she is perchance too old to start putting her mind to the study of new tongues. Never had dear Viola’s facility. Does he find time for any study in the classics lately?

    They fall to an agreeable discussion, until the course is removed and they must turn to their other sides. He turns to Martha, that has been having a lively convocation with the Admiral about better ways of keeping chickens on shipboard. She looks at him commiserating and says, sure must be a great change - by which he hopes she intends, from being a confidential secretary to an extremely busy member of the House of Lords, to being a gentleman of leisure and tame philosopher – but indeed, she confides that it must answer a deal better where he is than having the trouble of setting up in his own household, even if 'tis but a bachelor establishment. She sighs a little and says, sure housekeeping is an entire burden, but they have a most excellent housekeeper, a connexion of dear Phoebe de Clérault, at the Hampshire property, makes a most immense difference.

    She then looks across the table to where Clorinda and the Duke are talking with the amiability of very old friends and says, does he not think that Lady Bexbury begins come round? 'Twas a very fine thing she did, taking poor Lady Ferraby into her own house, providing nurses around the clock &C – for one must consider, her own children were just at that time of their lives when they had small children of their own, were about inheriting businesses and property or setting up in their profession, 'twould have fallen very hard upon any of 'em: and of course they were very old and dear friends. But sure it took its toll upon her.

    He confides that Martha does not apprehend the extent of the friendship between Clorinda and Eliza Ferraby, even does she have the very finest understanding of the depth of their affection for one another. Indeed, he is not sure that he himself would ever have sounded it out without having been inadvertent confronted with the evidence of their feelings.

    Indeed, he says, though His Lordship’s demise came as a blow to her.

    Sure it must have done, Martha agrees. He manages to divert the conversation onto her children.

    He observes that Josh is gazing in quite besotted fashion at Her Grace of Humpleforth as they discourse of mongooses and other fauna of India.

    After the ladies have withdrawn, and the port goes around, there is some good serious talk about how one might come about improving the treatment of animals. Legislation can only go so far, remarks the Duke. He adds with a sigh that sure there are fellows in the Lords that take one for an entire Evangelical killjoy does one endeavour to move against their favoured pursuits.

    Jacob Samuels remarks that there are neighbours of his will declare that the fox enjoys being hunted. The Admiral says that he has resorted to the excuse about sailors on horseback when asked why he does not ride to hounds; though indeed his lady wife finds some relish in it, but more for the fine riding it affords, is entire happy does the fox escape.

    Josh says, with a little frown, that he sometimes takes a concern that 'tis very hard upon animals to be took from their homes and brought to this land, but yet, there is a deal of scientific interest, and 'twould be exceeding hard to contrive to study 'em in their native places.

    Sandy finds himself making some contribution to the discussion, but not so much as he was formerly wont.

    They look about one another and the Duke suggests that they go to join the ladies. This proposal is received with enthusiasm: indeed Lord Sallington has been looking somewhat restless.

    In the drawing-room, Josh goes with remarkable expedition to talk mongeese with the Dowager Duchess, and Lord Sallington shows some tendency to monopolize Clorinda, until she is besought to delight the company with a little reading from Shakspeare: she smiles and complies.

    Sandy is in some fret that he may be asked to read Burns, but the Duchess goes to the piano.

    In the carriage returning Josh observes that Sallington seemed entire smitten with Clorinda.

    La, she says, 'tis an entire family tradition: and then puts her hand to her mouth. In earlier days, she says, before his first marriage, His Grace and I were on excellent terms.

    When they reach her house, Josh says he must be up betimes to go over to the warehouse to see how the animals do, he hopes they may now be in fit condition to be moved.

    Clorinda and Sandy go into the parlour. Clorinda raises her hands to her face. Sure I should not have had a second glass of ratafia, I grow careless.

    Surely the young Ferrabys have some apprehension of your life afore your elevation.

    O, most like! But, 'twas not just that I was His Grace’s mistress aforetimes, there were some passages with his father the Old Duke. She sighs.

    Why, says Sandy, I confide that Josh is the one you have the least to worry about in the matter, does he even think on it.

    Belike! Indeed Harry in particular grows somewhat censorious, I daresay 'tis the weight of the responsibilities he did not anticipate to take up just yet. But, my dear, unless you have any matter that was opened over the port to convey to me – sure there was nothing of any urgency conveyed over ratafia and teacups – I should go to bed myself, and not keep Sophy up.

    Indeed, Sandy finds the few days in Surrey more agreeable than he anticipated. It is ever a delight to have converse with Hannah and Flora, good sharp minds that have not gone through the grinding mill driving them into the paths of conventional thought to which so many male minds are subject, but that have read and studied and thought for themselves.

    But it is also pleasant to return to Clorinda’s comfortable pretty house and the companionship of his dearest friend. That he finds seated at the pretty desk in her parlour, that is showing a little sign of wear, but that she will never replace, because 'twas quite the thoughtfullest gift from Josiah Ferraby. Indeed there must be few men who would recognise that what their mistress would greatly desire is a fine writing desk with many compartments, some of them concealed. She is scribbling away in an absorbed fashion that he confides is naught to do with philanthropic business or social matters.

    Mayhap 'tis a letter to New South Wales, where the Thornes continue to flourish, but he hopes she has took up her pen to a tale or two again.

    She finishes the immediate sentence she was writing, lays down her pen, and turns around smiling. My dear, I hope you enjoyed yourself in Surrey?

    'Twas surprisingly pleasant: and indeed Beatrice is a fine girl.

    She is so, says Clorinda. But did Josh not return with you?

    He did, but there was a message for him, some matter of the hippopotamus that he desired to be about at once.

    Indeed, I collect Hector mentioned somewhat of the matter. I daresay the creature goes pine for Josh to scratch it behind its ears, for there is none knows the exact spot but him. She sighs. Sure one might hope that Josh would stay a little while among us, but already talks of South America, or so I apprehend from Tony Offgrange, that he spoke to on the matter.

    She is silent for a moment and says, But, my dear, I daresay you have oft longed to travel, and indeed there must be much of interest in those parts, I would apprehend that Tony’s former comrades in the Cause are now well-placed and entire respectable and you would have the entrée to some very good sets.

    Dearest sibyl! Do you purpose drive me away?

    La, my dear, 'tis quite exceptional delightful to have your company, but you must not feel that a pet philosopher is entire like unto a lapdog, that must not roam for fear of some dog-stealing gang that will go take it up for ransom. And I apprehend that you and Josh find a most congenial companionship.

    Her expression is quite entirely innocent, but he confides that she has some understanding that Josh knows the spots to scratch upon philosophers as well as hippopotami.

    Perchance, he says, was I a somewhat younger man I might be tempted to such an expedition, but I do not find the prospect greatly enticing. (Mayhap 'tis indeed as he was accused in earlier days, that he has been entire softened through luxurious living?)

    Dear Sandy, I confide my sweet wombatt child has been about telling you some tale that I go droop and secretly wear the willow and am entirely Dido in the ruins of Carthage but would not let it be known, and 'twould entire put minds at rest did you remain with me to ensure that I did not fall into some melancholic decline or set myself afire like a Hindoo widow or some such. Sure 'tis very pretty in 'em all to be so concerned over a silly creature -

    My dearest Clorinda, he says, drawing up his chair closer to her and taking her hands, I am always given quite the greatest concern do you go calling yourself a silly creature, and indeed I have heard quite enough about fits of low spirits from those that care about you to be in considerable anxiety myself that you go about as Patience on a monument, smiling at grief, letting concealment, like a worm i’ the bud, feed on your damask cheek.

    O, poo, says Clorinda, with rather less conviction than usual when voicing this exclamation. Would not impose such megrims of the spirit upon those about me.

    He observes a little moistness about her eyes.

    Sure, he said, did any of your friends say the like, you would urge them to – well, not in the words of the Scottish play, that I daresay you still have a superstitious feeling about –

    Indeed I am the foolishest Clorinda in the matter –

    But in words to very similar effect.

    But, dearest Sandy, I would not burden you in your sorrow with my own griefs –

    Why, did you not say yourself, that it comforted you to comfort me?

    Why, indeed, 'tis entirely true. But, o bello scozzese, sure I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange? - that is, my darling precious child ever excepted. My dear, do not look so worried, 'tis quite entire a platonic affection. But has been, even though 'tis for such a sad reason, most agreeable to have your company, has indeed soothed my spirits -

    He draws back a little and looks at her. I am in some suspicion, he says, that a certain queen of contrivers went about to put this tale around, to persuade me to stay for my own benefit.

    La, my dear, 'tis a plot entire too intricate for me to devize! No, I will confess, have found myself in the dumps more than occasional now both my darlings are gone. Indeed I still have good friends about me, and my good people in the household, but –

    He considers that doubtless it is said among her circles that sure it must have been hard for her to have lost such excellent good friends as the Ferrabys, and to have nursed Eliza Ferraby through that prolonged illness as she had so kindly done must have been a hard thing: but there are few indeed that know the inwardness of the matter.

    Hector comes in with tea, saying that they were expecting Her Ladyship to ring for it, but doubtless she was too caught up in Mr MacDonald’s news of Miss Flora and Hannah and the children to think of ringing the bell.

    Clorinda’s mouth twitches a little as she remarks that sure she is not mistress in her household.

    When Hector has gone, she goes over to the table upon which he has set down the tray and pours them both tea. Well, my dear, indeed you might tell me how the dear girls do and how the children come on.

    Why, he says, indeed it seems to answer very well for them, and I am minded of the old days of the Raxdell House nursery set. I suppose I am in some curiosity as to how the fathers are chosen, and how they feel about the business.

    Clorinda looks down into her cup and says that she sometimes takes a little concern over the matter, for not all fellows, she confides, are like to take the matter in the fine generous spirit manifested by Milord or Josh. She dares say that Flora and Hannah are careful in who their choice rests upon, but she cannot help but recall that monster Evenden, that wanted naught to do with Julius until he had some use for him himself.

    Does Julius - ?

    She shrugs and shakes her head. I do not go interrogate Seraphine upon the matter. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof and we may hope that that scoundrel remains in Philadelphia.

    Indeed we may. Is there ever any news of how he does, and whether the quondam Miss Minton, or perchance Mrs Gaffney? remained married to him?

    Alas, I do not have lines of communication that reach that far. Though, indeed, do I not recall that Reynaldo di Serrante and that excellent Quaker wife of his go visit fellow-abolitionists there? Also Sir Vernon may still have connexions in Washington that might be able discover somewhat to the matter, and there may be those that Jacob Samuels has dealings with over fossils &C –

    Sure, he says, I have correspondents myself that mayhap could –

    They pause and look at one another. 'Tis quite like the old days.

    Clorinda makes a little gulping sound, half laughter, half sob. I daresay this is what dear Belinda described when she was endeavouring convince me of the joys of hunting, when the hounds would go start a fox. She looks thoughtful and says, and these days a deal of actors will go try their luck for a while in those parts without they intend settle there. Though I confide had Miss Addington heard aught of Miss Minton she would have said somewhat to the matter…

    Let us be about it, he says. I will go see has he lately published anything on his chemical researches.

    Sure, says Clorinda, the posts are a deal faster these days – indeed matters all go a deal faster. I have sat quite at my ease in a railway train and gone think how I was so terrified of much lesser speed in Milord’s curricle, is’t not strange? – I will go write letters.

    As Sandy finds in himself a considerable curiosity concerning Beatrice, and 'twould be agreeable to get out of Town a little, he accompanies Josh to the Surrey property, Yeomans: had been named Seringapatam Lodge by old General Yeomans, but was so widely known in the locality under his name that it has been assumed.

    Josh finds a discreet moment to inform him that he is accustomed, when he visits there, to pass the nights with Hannah.

    Why, Sandy says, after a short pause during which he does not find any jealous passion raging in his bosom, indeed she has the older claim – the mother of your child, &C.

    Not, says Josh, that we have any purpose to beget another, just yet, but 'tis an antient affection.

    Indeed, when he comes to consider over the matter, he minds that there are memories attached to the place, that indeed he has not visited, except for brief calls upon matters of business, since Clorinda was in exile there waiting to lie-in with Flora.

    He finds, when they arrive, that he has even been assigned the bedchamber that has most particular memorable associations for him. He sits down upon the bed as the recollections flood upon him. Had been the scene of a most particular significant encounter.

    'Twas after he had nigh made a great fool of himself with Clorinda, but instead had had her unravel matters to him like disentangling knotted embroidery silks, in quite the finest office of friendship. His heart had been mightily eased and she had also, with her offer to demonstrate matters 'twixt woman and man as a matter of scientific interest, given him a notion even did he not take her up on it.

    There was a thing he had wanted to do for Gervase, that was like to suppose he would find most agreeable, but would by no means demand; and would not, Sandy supposed, concede to it did he have any suspicion that it was being offered merely as a kindness, against his own inclination. But, did he present it as a thing that he undertook out of scientific curiosity, to obtain understanding -

    The stratagem had proved entire successful: it also revealed to him things about himself that he had not in the least suspected, that had nothing to do with science or philosophy.

    He closes his eyes and bites his lip. He will never again find some excuse to pass by the Raxdell House gallery while Gervase is engaged in fencing practice; and there will never again be that feeling of being possessed by him.

    He looks out of the window. The fountain still plays. Flora is walking with her arm tucked into Josh’s: they look entirely brother and sister. Indeed, he thinks, while Flora has her colouring from Clorinda, her features recall Josiah, and her mannerisms are all Eliza. He wonders whether seeing their copies in the younger Ferrabys is something that pleases Clorinda or is distressful to her. He then considers that this reflection mayhap has some bearing on his own reluctance to go down and greet Hannah and the child she plays with upon the lawn.

    When he goes down to the garden, and greets Hannah, Beatrice at first shows shy and hides behind her mother. Gradually she comes to peep around a little, and at length is brought to come shake hands with her mother’s great friend Mr MacDonald.

    At first glance she is a deal more like Hannah than Gervase, though somewhat lighter-skinned and with her hair going to waves rather than tight curls. But then she finally looks at him, and she has Gervase’s eyes, that could look brown or green or even sometimes gold, and much of the same shape, under brows that show promise of growing in the same winged fashion. But she is not a copy: she is her own particular self.

    What a fine girl she is, he says to Hannah, who smiles and says, sure she thinks so, but ‘tis the known habit of mothers to suppose their infants the finest that ever were.

    ’Tis not the painful thing he expected: there is indeed some gladness that some little part of Gervase survives.

    And in spite of the memories, it is agreeable to get out of Town for a little.

    One day he is sitting on the grass, listening to Josh tell the children the tales of the very particular haughty hedgehogs that reside in the Park, and the adventures of the ivory elephants, when Flora comes up and says would wish a word or two with him.

    He is entire willing to concede to her, stands up, offers her his arm, and they walk towards the little wilderness beyond the formal gardens.

    I hope, Mr MacDonald, says Flora, that you do not purpose leave Clorinda just yet.

    She entirely has the forthright blunt manner of Eliza Ferraby. Sure Clorinda herself would have gone a deal more roundabout in the matter.

    You do not object? he says.

    Flora snorts. We have been worried this while about her: will ever go about to conceal her low spirits, will assure us that she is entire happy, but –

    First Hector and now Flora: has everybody but himself noticed this? But he considers that did Clorinda truly feel herself Dido in the ruins of Carthage, she would not voice that complaint.

    Has ever been observed among us, she goes on, how beneficial was your company to her: would show her old self in your presence. So had you no other plans, we should be most infinite grateful if you would stay with her.

    You do not fear scandal?

    O, may be those try get up malicious gossip, but she has such friends that command such influence, I think all will quite accept that you stay with her for the convenience of writing some philosophical treatise without domestic distractions.

    And you, by which I apprehend your brothers and sisters, are in agreement over this?

    Are not all entire conscious of what we owe her? But indeed, ‘tis not a matter of debt: 'tis a matter of love.

    He is distressed to consider that he had failed to notice that his dearest friend was in low spirits, and must have been so even before he could plead a like distress of his own for not noticing. What a wretched creature he is to be sure.

    But, continues Flora, was an entire other matter we, that is, Hannah and I, wished open to you. Pray, Mr MacDonald, do not look in so much panic fear – we should desire nothing of you that you would not willingly give, sure we are not about to enact a reversal of Lovelace’s entrapment of Clarissa.

    I am greatly relieved to hear it.

    But may be there is a way might be contrived – tho’ indeed, 'tis but a passing mention of a thing that eminent surgeon John Hunter undertook, that Hannah found while perusing proceedings of the Royal Society. Sure we know not has it become much took up as a practice among the profession; we try to come about at some way we might interrogate Quintus upon the matter. But, according to the report, he found a way to contrive bringing the generative seed into the place where it should go, by artificial means.

    Dear Flora, you quite bring me to the blush. (But, is she not Clorinda’s daughter? Have she and Hannah not read most exceeding widely? Are they not both mothers, even are they not wives? They are probably better informed than most Fellows of the Colleges on generative matters.)

    Flora laughs. O, I daresay Clorinda would chide me exceedingly for taking the Nelson line and going straight ahead in this way, but I have not her skills in taking the roundabout way.

    There is a pause and at length he says, My dear Flora, I am entire flattered that you offer me this opportunity of fatherhood, but as 'tis a thing that I thought would never come my way, will need some time to consider over it.

    Entire reasonable, says Flora, as they turn back towards the formal garden. A woman must bear the child within her those tedious months, I dearly wish men would consider over the business rather more than they are wont to do.

    Sandy most dutifully goes about the various occasions to which he has been solicited. He discovers that Lord Abertyldd is exceeding eager to have his thoughts on various matters that currently go forward in Parliament, and realizes that now that there is no longer the regular morning convocation upon the matter, he no longer has these things at his fingertips. Has not even been perusing the press with his usual avidity.

    Having made some passable attempt at giving Abertyldd some answer, he goes home and asks do they still have old copies of the various papers that come into the house? Dorcas says indeed they do, store 'em up against the time that fires are lit again, mostly, or laying down for muddy feet, or wrapping matters.

    William delivers several arms-full to the library, and Sandy begins to educate himself again. These are not things that go away; these are the things that Gervase would have wanted him to continue concerning himself with; and he has taken not the slightest notice these past weeks.

    He should see if he may make some occasion to converse with Lady Wallace.

    Clorinda comes into the library. Fie, she says, 'tis time you went dress for this music party – o, do not pull that face, my dear.

    But - , he begins.

    La, I am invited too and shall go, and have spoke privily to Meg that I should be grateful was there no songs sung of a kind that would be like, in my present bereaved state, to move me to public tears.

    He looks at her 'twixt exasperation and affection. So you go wear the willow?

    I was oblig’d, says Clorinda crossly, to undertake the full rites of mourning for an entire year for a husband that I had known a mere matter of weeks, and that even had he inclined to my sex was in no state to consummate our union. At least I may show some respect for the memory of one that I had known these many years and ever stood my friend, even if matters were not as gossip supposes.

    Dearest Clorinda, I did not mean to dismiss your loss. And 'twas an entire prudent thought.

    She smiles a little tearfully. Go dress, she says.

    There is a considerable crowd already assembled in the Knowles’ exceedingly fine music room when they arrive. Sebastian Knowles comes up and shakes his hand and says, 'tis not the time or place, but now he has come in to this independence, may desire some information and advice upon investments? Is ever quite entirely at his disposal in the matter.

    'Tis a kind thought, and he says so. Is still, he adds, coming about to the realization of this new state.

    Sebastian nods. 'Twas an entire different matter, he says, though I had been working so long with my father, after he died and I had to take over the entire business myself.

    Sandy looks about the room, and sees that Clorinda is as ever in the midst of a little throng, and he dares say about a deal of contrivances. Looking further he observes to his surprize that Lady Jane is of the company: she rises and comes over to him and takes his hands and says all the proper things, although he has already had quite the kindest letter of condolence from her. Though she has never said in so many words, he knows that she was long apprized of the situation.

    A hush falls upon the company and they all take their seats as Meg goes to the pianoforte. Indeed, the music is all very fine, but there is nothing played or sung that is like to evoke tears, fortunately.

    Over supper, where he perceives Clorinda still about stratagems, Lady Jane tells him she comes up to Town about various philanthropic matters, and to enjoy a little music, go to the play &C (and, he supposes, visit her beloved Miss Addington). The Admiral stays upon the estate: 'tis no great distance to the coast, and he keeps a boat there, cannot be kept long from salt-water. Horatio was able pay them a short visit before he took up this fine opportunity of sailing under Captain Gold about this survey he is commissioned to. She sighs a little and adds that she thinks he has a notion to Deborah Samuels – excellent young woman that she is, she adds. But seems like only yesterday was setting off as a midshipman, and here he is, lieutenant and in such a good ship.

    He says it must be agreeable to see her son so well-settled in a career.

    She smiles and says, indeed he finds the Navy most congenial, but she confides that he also greatly takes to the notion of being a propertied gentleman in due course, has been lessoning himself with Jacob Samuels.

    He smiles back and says, does he also take to the study of the classics? She sighs and says shows no inclination in that direction, alas. But mayhap they two might find occasion to converse on the matter, while she is in Town?

    He concedes that this would be agreeable.

    These are not parties that last on into the small hours of the morning, and 'tis still quite early when he and Clorinda return to her pretty house. My dear, she says, I purpose take a small sanitive glass of madeira afore I go to bed, should you care to join me there is port or brandy.

    He agrees, and Hector comes to her parlour with the tray, and leaves a glass and the decanter of port beside him upon a small table. I hope, he says, that Hector does not suppose I go drown my sorrows.

    She laughs a little and says she confides not, but considers it proper to let gentlemen make their own judgements concerning their indulgence.

    They sip at their glasses in silence for a little while, and then Clorinda looks at him and says, my dear, you bore yourself excellent well the e’en.

    He sighs and says, has a deal more sympathy than used to for actors that find themselves obliged to perform in a bad play, as it might be Queen Maud of dread memory, and must manifest their skills even though the matter gives ‘em little to work upon.

    Clorinda grins and says, have we not heard Miss Addington being besought to present her For England speech from that play, or that very touching monologue at the end when she entrusts the realm to her son, that 'tis only her talents render telling? But indeed, she goes on, growing sober, indeed 'tis very much the like.

    Still? he asks.

    She looks reflective and says, No, 'tis no longer quite the like with her. Tho’, she continues, is not a day during which there is not some thought that I wish I might tell one or other or both of 'em. And sighs.

    I had supposed, he says, that we should grow old together. But indeed, dearest Clorinda, I do not wish to make you melancholic, or impose my own melancholy upon you.

    O, fiddlesticks! there are few enough to whom we may admit our sorrow. With one another we may take off the masks. Has it not ever been so?

    It has, he realizes, ever been so.

    They sit once more in silence.

    I apprehend, says Clorinda at length, that Josh has some intention of going visit Flora and Hannah – 'tis still a se’ennight or so until the Mulcaster House dinner-party, and I confide he would wish to get out of Town a little. Did you wish go as well?

    He considers over this and indeed it would be agreeable. But, he says, I am promised to dine with Geoffrey Merrett –

    Poo, says Clorinda, I will give it out that Flora has some legal matter that she desires your advice on that will not wait, and I am sure he will not mind.

    Dear sibyl, indeed I am not sure I am yet ready to encounter Mr Merrett’s enthusiasm. 'Tis an excellent fine mind, and meritorious ideals, but -

    He is really a most remarkable advocate, she says, but sure there are still times he minds me of an eager puppy.

    He finds the old quizzical look upon his face as he looks at her. For he quite apprehends that Clorinda will ever find it in her heart to show kind to fellows that demonstrate an admiration for her, so be they do not consider kindness owed to them. She smiles back and murmurs, secrets that are not all mine to disclose.

    And then says, but sure I must to bed and not keep Sophy up any longer. Tho’ she stays in the household at present as Sam is off on a buying trip.

    How many stables does he have now?

    Three, says Clorinda, all doing exceeding well. She covers a yawn with her hand. Sure, she goes on, I am no longer able to wake long into the night as I was used in younger years.

    They rise and make their separate ways to bed.

    William, that has some thought to training up as a valet, waits for him, though Sandy confides that he can still manage to do for himself. But it is doubtless a kindness to let the young man practice upon him.

    Lying in bed, he thinks that sometimes matters are as he described it to Clorinda, and sometimes 'tis like some mansion with a genteel party that goes forth in the public rooms, and in the cellar some gothic horror wails and moans.

    daegaer: (writing by hermitsoul)
    ([personal profile] daegaer Aug. 4th, 2017 07:47 am)
    A lot of excellent drabbles were posted in the Multifandom Drabble Exchange recently!

    I received the wonderful Absent-Minded by [personal profile] lady_ganesh, At Rest by [personal profile] lady_ganesh, and Convalescence by [personal profile] lebateleur (All Saiyuki, Hakkai/Gojyo) Thank you so much!

    I wrote The Works of Warfare (Greek Myth - Klytemnestra, Penelope) and Socking Up (Saiyuki - Hakkai/Gojyo).

    Whee, a thing )


    derien: It's a cup of tea and a white mouse.  The mouse is offering to buy Arthur's brain and replace it with a simple computer. (Default)
    Curried Goat in a paper cup

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