'Tis almost time for Harry to take his leave and go to Leeds to learn the mysteries of an engineer. Mr D- goes with him as he desires to take the opportunity to go convoke with his friend there about certain professional matters.
I make an opportunity to go talk to Harry one day in the garden. He is looking over the wall down to the works and the town.
How now, Harry, says I, sure you are about to go out into the world and make your fortune.
Oh, he says, he does not know about fortune, and sure, 'tis a great step.
He sighs somewhat and says that he wishes that he had the chance to see Josh and say goodbye to him –
And, says I with a smile, give him serious elder brotherly advice? Do you go about like Laertes to your sisters?
Harry grins and says, mayhap he will! But, he goes on more serious, he should like to be assur’d that Josh was well again.
Indeed, says I, I think you need have no worrys on that account, he was flourishing already some while ago when I visit’d there and I entirely confide that he has continu’d to improve in health.
But still, says Harry, is my brother and I should like to see him.
Why, says I, you are not going to the antipodes and I daresay you will be seeing him at the Christmas season. But sure your care for him is extreme pretty: one does not always see such affection 'twixt brothers.
Harry blushes. He is a good little fellow, he mumbles, then adds: save when he goes running away and putting everyone into desperate worry.
I confide he will not do the like again! But, Harry, while I am sure that you will not at all be in want while you are in this fine place in Leeds learning your trade, I daresay there may perhaps be particular matters that you might like a little extra by you for –
I take out a little purse in which I have put several guineas.
- so I thought to give you this.
O, that is entirely too kind! he says. Sure I will have an allowance -
All the same, says I, a little to hand for the unexpect’d is never amiss. And should there be any service I may do you, do you call upon me.
You are very kind to us all, he says somewhat gruff.
Indeed, says I, 'tis only an entire proper return for the exceeding kindness I have had from your family. Sure, consider the helpfullness over the business to do with my mine –
Why, cries Harry, 'tis a most excellent fine enterprize: and commences upon telling me about his visit there with Mr D-. What a fine clever fellow is Mr McA-, and Mr M- is a fine tidy manager. Also his wife makes a most excellent lardy-cake. He goes on to inform me about the steam-pump, and the exceeding tall chimney that is requir’d for the smelting works, &C &C, until Bess comes join us and says does Harry have any final commissions in the town, Mama is about to take the gig to undertake errands.
Oh, says Harry, indeed there are a few matters, I will go at once. He rushes off but Bess lingers.
You do not go into town?
O, says Bess, 'tis exceeding dull, when I think that shortly we may be going along Oxford Street with all its fine shops.
She hops up to sit upon the low wall: sure I hope she does not go fall over the other side, but she sits as one that is entire us’d to such a perch.
She looks very thoughtfull and says, Aunty C-, there is a thing I should like to ask you about, but 'tis a secret matter –
(O dear, thinks I, is there some young fellow she takes a fancy to?)
Why, says I, I am quite the soul of discretion -
- Indeed, Mama and Papa have oft remarkt that –
- but there are matters in which you might be well-adviz’d to talk to your Mama.
Only, says Bess, settling herself more firmly and smoothing down her skirts, I apprehend that this business of being brought out and going about the Season &C is somewhat of an expensive matter –
- Well, my dear, your parents are not on the parish -
She gives a little smile and says, indeed they are not! but 'tis very much about being cry’d on the marriage market, is’t not?
Sure, says I, perchance you should ask one or another that has undergone the matter, I daresay Her Grace would be entire happy to answer your questions, but I confide that indeed 'tis somewhat of the Matrimonial Exchange.
But do I already know who I shall marry –
Oh? says I, in some fears that there is some local fellow goes take advantage of her youth and innocence to marry to his advantage.
Oh yes, says Bess, blushing and casting down her eyes, Mr D-.
I am struck into entire dumbness for a moment, and then rouse myself to ask, Has he gone speak to you of the matter? (for if has, I think it a very shocking proceeding.)
O no, says Bess, but indeed I have long had a very great admiration for him, and I have heard Mama and Papa express some concern that he may leave the works, and remark that did he have a wife 'twould settle him: and would it not be a most excellent sensible thing?
(I do not even need to count upon my fingers to reckon that Mr D- must be at least twice her years if not more. Indeed, 'tis a much greater gulph of years than that 'twixt Hector and Euphemia, that Hector was so put about concerning.)
(But sure – do I not know it? – young girls will take some great fancy to an older man, that seems a quite entire different species to the callow boys of their own years.)
Sure, says I, it sounds a most sensible and practickal thing, but indeed there is more than mere practickality that goes to wedlock. And were I your mama – which I am not, and she may think different – because of your youth, I would advize that you should not jump in to matrimony, and should test your affections thro’ going about in Society.
Bess scowls and says, look at Lady J-, that remain’d faithfull to the memory of her Lieutenant K- until he was an Admiral and able honourable to seek her hand. Did she not go about a very great deal in Society before she retir’d into rural seclusion at N-? (I confide that Bess has not been present upon any occasion when Lady J-'s devotion to the one Biffle refers to as that jealous hag Miss B- has been mention’d.)
Even so, my dear. But sure, going about in Society is not merely about catching a husband, 'twill do you a deal of good in other ways. For a lady that has connections of friendship with a deal of other ladies may find them most exceeding valuable to her husband’s interest.
Bess mutters that she supposes so.
And, dear Bess, I go on, 'tis entire deleterious to marry too young. Sure altho’ one talks of a girl coming to womanhood as tho’ 'twas something that happen’d the once, like passing thro’ a door, 'tis a matter that takes some years while the humours are in upheaval. 'Tis entire to be preferr’d that time should be allow’d to let the humours settle. Do you not, my dear, have sudden fits of tearfullness, or temper, or lassitude?
O, says Bess, o, yes. Sure that is sensible.
And while you are waiting for that time, you may as well occupy the interim amuzingly.
(Sure I am a strange figure to be giving this prudent advice to young women. When I was of Bess’s years I was a sad naughty minx, before I was lesson’d in the ways of the demimonde by Madame Z-.)
Bess jumps down from the wall and comes give me a hug. Thank you, Aunty C-! She runs off, and sure one sees that there is still a deal of the hoyden in her. I am like to suppose that this inclination to Mr D- is a girlish fancy, and that in a year or so her views on him will be quite different: but sure one should not teaze her over it, or endeavour to dissuade her but let it wither according to the course of nature.
I walk slowly back thro’ the garden, to where Quintus and my lovely darling Flora play on the swing, and one can hear the sound of Meg’s piano-practice from an open window. Miss N- sits on a bench with a book. I go sit next to her.
She blushes and says sure ‘tis no improving work, but a most exciting novel.
Why, dear Miss N-, I would by no means condemn you for refreshing yourself from your labours with a little light reading; sure I late met with a sad Evangelickal fellow that disapproves greatly of the habit of novel-reading and will not let his wife read them, but I cannot see the harm.
She goes on to say that we have company for dinner this e’en: Mr A- at the hospital has his sister Lavinia visiting, and they come, and also Mr D-. Mr A-'s sister has visit’d before: she takes a thought that Mr D- has a liking to her, and now he is so well-establisht and a partner in the works, perchance he may go make an offer?
Why, says I, a fellow may take a liking to a young woman without immediate proceeding to having the banns call’d –
Miss N- sighs and I daresay thinks that she and Mr L- are not yet in a position to do this.
- may find her company congenial in passing a few hours without desiring to take her to wife.
(O, poor Bess, thinks I, if Miss N- has the right of the matter.)