I sit at my correspondence and dispatch letters to Lady W- and Mrs S- but find my pen halt when it comes to replying to Mrs F- and a sudden tendency to tearfullness, which is yet another sign of my condition I daresay. There is my dear friend that I can see longs for another child were it not for the peril that would put her in, and here am I, in a most unwonted state of swithering 'twixt yea or nay.
I even pose to myself, come, Madame C-, suppose one of your friends came to you in a like dilemma, what should you say to them? but still have no answer.
Comes Hector to say that Mr MacD- is at the door, will I see him? Of course, say I, and go ask Seraphine to prepare him some coffee.
Enters Sandy, with yet another bouquet, saying that Mr Q- thinks it entirely prudent a course to look over the Surrey property and ensure that it is in good condition before seeking other tenants. There is a local agent that has the keys &C, and G-, he means, Lord G- R-, has expressed himself very willing to take you to view the place.
That is very kind, say I, and I suppose that, as a woman of property, it is my duty to do so. I am just a little fear'd that I shall find myself made foolishly sad about poor dear old General Y-.
Your sensibility does you credit, but I am sure the General intended your happiness rather than that you should continue to mourn.
Euphemia comes in with the coffee tray. I hand her the flowers and ask her to get them into water, and gesture Mr MacD- to sit down. I find myself much averse to coffee at present, and indeed, as I fill his cup, I find myself overcome with such nausea that I am oblig'd to spring up, go to the window, throw it open and breathe the fresh air, or the air of the street which at least does not smell of coffee.
Madame C-, are you ill? What is the matter? He comes over to me and I burst into tears and cast myself on his bosom sobbing wildly and explaining my situation (sure this must be most embarrassing to him).
He conducts me back to my chair and sees me seated and removes the coffee service to the sideboard on the opposite side of the room. He sits himself down and looks at me cautiously. I can see that he has many questions but hesitates to ask.
Oh, I say, waving my hand, ask away, for maybe some other mind on the subject may assist me in this predicament.
He removes his spectacles, polishes them, and puts them back on. Not looking directly at me, he asks: This may be particularly impertinent to enquire, but do you know who the father might be?
O, say I somewhat bitterly, shall you advise me to go the magistrate and swear a bastard upon him?
My dear Madame C-, from what I know of your patrons you would not need to take any such action for they would naturally do the honourable thing by you and make suitable provision - oh, 'tis not the Duke of M-, is it? For I can see that that might cause you some hesitation in the matter, he being so newly wed.
No, I say, 'tis not His Grace, 'tis Mr F-: and start sobbing again.
But Mr F- is a most excellent and conscientious man that cares for you a good deal, I cannot see why you are in such distress in the matter. While he cannot, of course, make an honest woman of you I am sure that he will do all that is proper.
I continue to weep.
If it is a question of giving a name to the child that concerns you, he says, and his voice suddenly wavers, I know G-, His Lordship, has often said that you are the only woman he could ever consider marrying, because you know the inwardness of the matter.
I blow my nose and wipe my eyes and sit up straighter, gathering my wits about me. That would not in the least answer, I reply, for reasons I have previously given him. If he needs must marry, it should either be some lady of a Sapphick disposition, or one that considers the conjugal rites the occasional toll she must pay for motherhood.
While 'tis entirely selfish of me, I am gratified to hear that response, says Sandy. However, you should inform Mr F- of the situation.
Why, say I, should I lay upon him a care due entirely to my own carelessness? (for I am daunted at trying to explain the inwardness of things between myself and Mr and Mrs F-.)
Mr MacD- looks at me with frustrated bafflement, and indeed, he is probably thinking that an advantage of his own nature is that he is not usually oblig'd to deal with feminine vapourishness and contrariety.
I should not, say I, be burdening you with my womanly troubles, it is only that I have no female confidante at present that I feel that I can trust not to whisper the matter about, that makes me burst forth thus. Were my dear Miss G- not so distant I could have confided in her discretion. Please do not be alarmed about me, I am sure I shall come into a calmer frame of mind and that this upheaval is sure merely due to my condition.
Sandy gives me one of his looks and says he knows not why it should be, but he trusts my being reasonable rather less than my tears, yet he cannot argue over these matters to do with the female constitution.
He then says he must take his leave: o, I say, pray do not worry Lord G- R- with my troubles, but tell him that I shall be most grateful for a drive into Surrey some time.