Lady Pendleton, who is visiting Susana from the 19th century, is the aunt of Damian Ashby, the Earl of Granville, the hero of Treasuring Theresa. In last week’s installment, Lady P agreed to assist Susana in her project of creating a Regency ball gown, and they have included a trip to the linen-draper’s—that is, Joanne’s—in the near future. In the meantime, Lady P, when not experimenting with modern-day gadgets, entertains us with tales of life in Regency England…and a myriad of other things we’d never have thought to ask. Enjoy!
Goodness, I hardly know where to start. I’ve never done this before, of course. I suppose I should mention that Susana could not be with us this morning because she has an appointment with…oh dear, I can’t seem to recall his name—some Italian fellow, a bone doctor, I believe—for a consultation. I told her physicians are nearly always quacks and offered her some of the special elixir my apothecary mixes up for me, but she insisted she’d rather get the quack’s opinion first. Ah well, so be it. I did offer, after all.
Although… I think I’ll have a dose or two of Mr. Mullens’s miraculous potion before I continue my commentary. Always seems to clear my head.
Ah, yes. Much better. Well, Susana thought I might talk about that most excellent novel, Pride and Prejudice, by Miss Austen. As a matter of fact, I started to watch the—uh—play—on that curious picture machine, but I discovered I could not manage to operate it in her absence, so I found a copy of the book instead. Such a delightful story, as I recall.
My good friend Sally Jersey recommended the novel to me as superior over Mrs. Radcliffe’s, so I purchased the three volumes at Hatchard’s. I recall that I was visiting Granville Manor at the time I started reading it—my nephew Damian and his wife had invited me for the Christmas holidays and I was laid up for a time after a fall. Little Amelia’s nursemaid had neglected to put away the child’s toys, you know, and I did give her quite a scolding about it, but Theresa had it in mind to pardon her—she’s far too tenderhearted, especially when she is enceinte, but there it is.
In any event, I took the opportunity to begin reading the first volume, and I found it so engrossing that I did not wish to stop. That Mrs. Bennet—the girls’ mother, you know—was such a character. I suppose most people know someone like that, silly and frivolous and without the least knowledge of how to get on in society. My husband’s mother was such a one. Always railing at someone—usually her husband—although he quite deserved it, the way he treated her. What chance did she have to become anything other than what she was? Pendleton and I avoided her as much as possible, but there were always holidays, and then when she took ill and came to live with us…well, the servants took the brunt of it, I’m afraid. I made sure to give them extra vails at Christmastime.
Of course, I was a much more sensible woman, more like Miss Elizabeth herself, I daresay. Which is undoubtedly why Pendleton and I rubbed along so well together. He enjoyed his clubs and sporting events and left the rest to me. Why, many a time he said to me, “My dear Agatha, I could not have found a better wife had I been looking for one,” and quite true it was, too. His mother was pushing the Notting heiress at him, and had I not stepped in to rescue him, it’s quite probable my daughters would have had a fool for a mother.
Ah well, where was I? Oh yes, Miss Austen’s novel. So true to life. My older sister Edith—Damian’s mother, you know—was much like Elizabeth’s sister Jane, although her husband was a great deal more sensible than Bingley…much more like Mr. Darcy. And Lady Catherine de Bourgh reminded me so much of my Great-Aunt Harriet. Her husband was only a baronet, but you would think she was a duchess for all that she lorded it over the rest of us…boasting about those children of hers—such a shame that she passed away and can’t see what a scapegrace that Richard of hers has turned out to be.
Oh dear, was that the clock chiming? How the time has flown! I’m afraid I must be going now. Susana will be home at any moment and she has agreed to teach me how to drive a motor vehicle! Of course, she wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about it, but I simply would not take no for an answer. These 21st century vehicles are far superior to the horse-drawn carriages from my era. The speed alone…and well, no indelicate odors from the horses to deal with! I insist on learning to operate one. Why, I could drive a curricle with nearly as much skill as my nephew, and he was a member of the Four-in-Hand Club. This is just a machine, after all, not a live horse with a mind of its own. I’m sure I shall be a true proficient after a bit of practice.
After the experience with the Russian exchange student, I promised myself I’d never teach another person to drive again, but Lady P has a mind of her own. I’ll take her over to the shopping center parking lot—early, when no one else is there—and keep my foot as near the brake as I can. There’s no way she’s going anywhere near the road. I’m not that crazy. Besides, she’ll never get a driver’s permit without a birth certificate, and even if they issued them in 1755, there would be a lot of raised eyebrows at the DMV when she produced it.
We’ll be back next week. We’ve decided to hold off on the shopping expedition because Joanne’s has announced a big sale toward the end of the month, so that Lady P can have a new gown as well. I’m afraid her grasp of economizing is bit sketchy…she doesn’t quite grasp that the MasterCard eventually has to be paid and is not just a magical piece of plastic.
As always, please comment if you have anything you’d like Susana to ask Lady P while she’s here.