Docket stands back and looks at Mrs T-, and gives a nod. Sure, says I, you are entire fit to dine with an archbishop.
She looks at herself in my fine pier-glass and nods herself. Perchance, she says, I should take this gown back with me should we ever get invit’d to dine at Government House.
Docket sniffs and says 'twill be quite out of style by then.
Mrs T- laughs and remarks that as Port Jackson is woefully behind fashion, she confides that it will be consider’d all the crack. But, she says, have I time to go look at the twins before being on show?
(Because the twins are still at breast, the T-s have brought them along to be in the house as they attend my soirée, so that Mrs T- may feed them if necessary. They rest in the belowstairs sitting-room, where Prue, Celeste, and Euphemia hang over their cradle with doating exclamations, and Dorcas cautions them not to wake the babies up.)
Indeed, says I, do you go look at them. I will go get into the the frets in the reception chamber.
My dear musickal friends are already there, and Miss McK- tells me that she has uncover’d a few other songs in the same vein as the one I request’d, shall she perform those as well? Oh my dear Miss McK-, says I, that is very thoughtfull of you, indeed, I should greatly like to hear them, and 'twill, I hope, convey a message. She gives me a grin. O, that you purpose to be as false and inconstant as he?
Does the occasion come my way! I reply.
Oh, Miss L-, I go on, I hear from Mrs F- that their governess confides that she has taken Meg, that is her daughter that shows musickal promise, as far as she may, and considers that she needs more advanc’d teaching on the pianoforte. I should be delight’d to promote your interest in the matter of lessons when they come to reside at R- House.
Miss L- gives a happy sigh and says, R- House, where Seraphine is now mistress of the kitchens? sure I would be most entirely delight’d to receive preference to that post.
Herr H- comes to make an introduction of Herr F-, the violincellist that is affianc’d to Fraulein H-. He bows extreme pretty over my hand and says some most civil things, but has the air of a young man that is very well-pleas’d with himself, which I confide augurs not well for their marriage.
Comes Signor V- a little behindhand, kisses my hand very flamboyant, and asks do I hear from the bellissima Contessa? I explain that she has gone take the cure at Aix but that I am in great expectation that she will shortly come to Town. He declares that doubtless she is breaking all hearts at Aix, which is a pretty sentiment, but inclines me to suppose that he may be a little shockt when he sets eyes upon the dear Contessa again. Tho’ indeed she possesses that charm that has little to do with youthfull looks.
Mr T- has gone over to the chess-board, that I keep out should any desire a game, and because it is a fine pretty set, and seems to be working out some problem there, tho’ the matter is entire beyond me. Sure I understand the various moves but I have no skill as a player and find myself very soon in check do I venture.
Enters dearest Mrs T-, and he looks up at her, quite entire as he did when first I met him, as if the Biblickal verses upon his mind are those of the Song of Solomon. She goes across and takes his hand and murmurs something, I daresay concerning the twins. They smile at one another in the way that I would never dare smile upon my darlings are we in publick.
Mrs O’C- and Mr P- arrive, along with Mr and Mrs N-: Mrs O’C- goes at once to the card-table to ensure that all is in order there. Mr P- nods to Mr G- D-, that is having a few words with Titus, and goes talk to him, I confide very like about some new notion he has of an opera.
I go make introductions between the T-s and the N-s. Mr N- immediate begins upon talking to them about the importance of the antipodes. Mrs N- looks at Mrs T- and I confide has no recognition of her old friend. Blue spectacles conceal those fine dark eyes that were aforetimes so greatly admir’d.
I turn away to welcome the S-s, who are with the V-s, young Sebastian K-, and Sandy. Martha is wearing her new gown from Mamzelle Bridgette, and looks exceeding fine, indeed I see Mr S- keep glancing at her admiringly.
I hear something strange behind me, and turn to look. It is Mr T- having manag’d most extreme deft to start questioning Mr N- about various matters to do with transportation rather than simply listening to him and wondering will he ever halt.
Mrs N- has already drift’d away to chat to Mrs O’C-, and Mrs T is looking down upon the chess-board. She tilts her head considering and moves a piece, then considers some more. Sandy looks most intrigu’d and moves to join her.
My attention is distract’d by the arrival of Sir Z- R- along with Mr van H-, who both greet me very effusive but I can see that Sir Z- R- has a great wish to discourse of wombatts with Mr T-, so I let them pass without engaging them in conversation.
Enters Mr de C- with Phoebe, that whispers to me as we shake hands that she has just been taking a peep at the darling twins, are they not quite the most adorable things? Can Mrs T- tell which is which?
Mr de C- looks fondly at her. He takes her hand very protective and says he desires a quick word with Titus in hopes that he can persuade him to model for some of these paintings he makes on the Evils of Slavery. They go over to where the musicians are gather’d.
There are a number of further arrivals, including Sir B- and Lady W-. Susannah looks at me and then over to Martha and gives her crookt smile. Indeed she shows well.
Up bustles Mr H-, shakes my hand, mentions that he has late had dealing with the trade, and then sighs and says in a very low voice that he finds none that have quite my old aptitude for personating works of art. I squeeze his hand a little with a commiserating glance.
Next through the door are Biffle and little V, that looks around the room, sees her sister and flies over to her, taking both her hands: O, Martha, how exceeding well you look, quite magnificent! Martha gives a little twitch of her shoulders and then kisses Viola very warm.
I find Sebastian K- standing just behind me, and ask how his father and mother do. He heaves a little sigh and says his mother is still very poorly, and he fears that his father is listening to the wild promises of quacks. He wonders whether he should speak to Mr H- on the topick, but I remark that Mr H- is wont to pooh-pooh a great many entirely reputable members of his profession as quacks, including the entire Royal College of Physicians and even some of his own colleagues at Barts. I express my sympathies. 'Tis a hard life for a young man, his mother so sickly, his father so preoccupy’d, and a business to run.
Mr H-, Mr P-, Mr N- and Sir B- W- are now settl’d at the card-table, and I see Mr T- cast longing glances towards them. However, Sir Z- R- is expatiating to him upon the virtues of his wombatt, its siring of offspring, &C. Mr K-, I say, I think you would be doing a kind office did you go ask Mr T- some questions concerning New South Wales.
There is a general pleasing buzz of conversation.
Comes in Lady J-, greets me and scans the company. I see her look momentarily affront’d at observing that Sandy has become engross’d in playing chess with Mrs T-.
Quite on her heels arrives Milord. He kisses my hand entire in the usual style, but I look a little disdainfull upon him. I beckon Timothy forward with the wine to offer him a glass.
I make a little sign to Mr G- D- to begin some musick.
It is a little later, after the first sortie to the fine supper table that Euphemia has provid’d, that Miss McK- commences upon the songs concerning women who do not fall into a decline do they find a lover faithless.
There are those in the company who do not take any inner meaning, but others that cut their eyes towards Milord or myself. I sit with an expression as of one that scorns to make jealous scenes with a fickle fellow.
Mr T- has finally sat down at the card-table and his fellow-players are looking somewhat distresst as he proceeds to win every hand. (But I see that Mrs T- does not venture near: sure a clergyman’s wife would not play cards in company; moreover, I daresay Miss G-'s style of play might be recogniz’d even if her face is not.)
After the musickal interlude conversation resumes. I look about to make sure that all is well, but there is none looking solitary and ill-at-ease.
However, Lord G- R- quits the group around Mrs T-, comes over to me, bows over my hand and bids me farewell. Another scene in our comedy: 'tis almost the time when the play will be over and it will be suppos'd that he rushes to the stage door. (I can see those among the company that make this calculation.) I bestow a smile that intends to convey that I am not in the least troubl’d by his departure.