My dear Cassandra
We had a very pleasant ride from Canterbury, and reached this place about half-past four, which seemed to bid fair for a punctual dinner at five; but scenes of great agitation awaited us, and there was much to be endured and done before we could sit down to table. Harriot found a letter from Louisa Hatton, desiring to know if she and her brothers were to be at the ball at Deal on Friday, and saying that the Eastwell family had some idea of going to it, and were to make use of Rowling if they did; and while I was dressing she came to me with another letter in her hand, in great perplexity. It was from Captain Woodford, containing a message from Lady Forbes, which he had intended to deliver in person, but have been prevented from doing. The offer of a ticket for this grand ball, with an invitation to come to her house at Dover before and after it, was Lady Forbes’s message. Harriot was at first very little inclined, or rather totally disinclined, to profit by her ladyship’s attention; but at length, after many debates, she was persuaded by me and herself together to accept the ticket. The offer of dressing and sleeping at Dover she determined on Marianne’s account to decline, and her plan is to be conveyed by Lady Elizabeth Hatton. I hope their going is by this time certain, and will be soon known to be so.
I think Miss H. would not have written such a letter if she had not been all but sure of it, and a little more. I am anxious on the subject, from the fear of being in the way if they do not come to give Harriot a conveyance. I proposed and pressed being sent home on Thursday, to prevent the possibility of being in the wrong place, but Harriot would not hear of it. There is no chance of tickets for the Mr Bridgeses, as no gentlemen but of the garrison are invited. With a civil note to be fabricated to Lady F., and an answer written to Miss H., you will easily believe that we could not begin dinner till six. We were agreeably surprised by Edward Bridges’s company to it. He had been, strange to tell, too late for the cricket match, too late at least to play himself, and, not being asked to dine with the players, came home. It is impossible to do justice to the hospitality of his attentions towards me; he made a point of ordering toasted cheese for supper entirely on my account.
We had a very agreeable evening, and here I am before breakfast writing to you, having got up between six and seven; Lady Bridges’s room must be good for early rising. Mr Sankey was here last night, and found his patient better, but I have heard from a maidservant that she has had but an indifferent night.
Tell Elizabeth that I did not give her letter to Harriot till we were in the carriage, when she received it with great delight, and could read it in comfort. As you have been here so lately, I need not particularly describe the house or style of living, in which all seems for use and comfort; nor need I be diffuse on the state of Lady Bridges’s bookcase and corner-shelves upstairs. What a treat to my mother to arrange them! Harriot is constrained to give up all hope of seeing Edward here to fetch me, as I soon recollected that Mr and Mrs Charles Knatchbull’s being at Godmersham on Thursday must put it out of the question. Had I waited till after breakfast, the chief of all this might have been spared.
The Duke of Gloucester’s death sets my heart at ease, though it will cause some dozens to ache. Harriot’s is not among the number of the last; she is very well pleased to be spared the trouble of preparation. She joins me in best love to you all, and will write to Elizabeth soon. I shall be very glad to hear from you, that we may know how you all are, especially the two Edwards. I have asked Sophie if she has anything to say to Lizzy in acknowledgement of the little bird, and her message is that, with her love, she is very glad Lizzy sent it. She volunteers, moreover, her love to little Marianne, with the promise of bringing her a doll the next time she goes to Godmersham. John is just come from Ramsgate, and brings a good account of the people there. He and his brother, you know, dine at Nackington; we are to dine at four, that we may walk afterwards. As it is now two, and Harriot has letters to write, we shall probably not get out before.
Yours affectionately, JA.
Three o’clock. Harriot is just come from Marianne, and thinks her upon the whole better. The sickness has not returned, and a head-ache is at present her chief complaint, which Henry attributes to the sickness.
Edward Austen’s Esq.