The maid came to the door. I asked for her mistress. She showed me into one of the parlours; and I sat down with a gouty Oh!—
Your servant, Madam—but you must excuse me; I cannot well stand—I find by the bill at the door, that you have lodgings to let [mumbling my words as if, like my man Will., I had lost some of my fore-teeth]: be pleased to inform me what they are; for I like your situation—and I will tell you my family—I have a wife, a good old woman—older than myself, by the way, a pretty deal. She is in a bad state of health, and is advised into the Hampstead air. She will have two maid servants and a footman. The coach or chariot (I shall not have them put up both together) we can put up any where, and the coachman will be with his horses.
When, Sir, shall you want to come in?
I will take them from this very day; and, if convenient, will bring my wife in the afternoon.
Perhaps, Sir, you would board, as well as lodge?
That as you please. It will save me the trouble of bringing my cook, if we do. And I suppose you have servants who know how to dress a couple of dishes. My wife must eat plain food, and I don’t love kickshaws.
We have a single lady, who will be gone in two or three days. She has one of the best apartments: that will then be at liberty.
You have one or two good ones mean time, I presume, Madam, just to receive my wife; for we have lost time—these damn’d physicians—excuse me, Madam, I am not used to curse; but it is owing to the love I have for my wife—they have kept her in hand, till they are ashamed to take more fees, and now advise her to the air. I wish we had sent her hither at first. But we must now make the best of it.
Excuse me, Madam, [for she looked hard at me,] that I am muffled up in this warm weather. I am but too sensible that I have left my chamber sooner that I ought, and perhaps shall have a return of my gout for it. I came out thus muffled up with a dreadful pain in my jaws; an ague in them, I believe. But my poor dear will not be satisfied with any body’s care but mine. And, as I told thee, we have lost time.
You shall see what accommodations I have, if you please, Sir. But I doubt you are too lame to walk up stairs.
I can make shift to hobble up now I have rested a little. I’ll just look upon the apartment my wife is to have. Any thing may do for the servants: and as you seem to be a good sort of gentlewoman, I shan’t stand for a price, and will pay well besides for the trouble I shall give.