Gooseberry Fool

Sydney Walk
June 17th 1853

I fear my confidence regarding Papa’s happiness may be misplaced. He has developed a small obsession with Mrs Doughty which it has become my duty to manage. Ever since that astonishing evening in the Octagon Rooms he has insisted that I procure a meeting with Mrs Doughty at her earliest convenience. He talks of little else but her ability to satisfy his needs – quite what those needs might be I am not sure but he is adamant they must be met. I tried to tell him that she is not a woman who takes a man’s needs much into consideration, but he gave me a pitying look and told me she was better equipped for such a task than I thought. Quite what he meant by that I could not deduce. He has mentioned in the past that his dealings with her have been most satisfying so she clearly holds some fascination for him.

I had been wondering why he should be so keen to transact his business with Mrs Doughty – he is most definitely unaware of her antipathy towards the male sex – and after some careful thought, the answer came to me. It is Mama, speaking to him through Mrs Hayden! Mama wants him to marry Mrs Doughty, thus providing him with a redoubtable wife and me with a mother as well as a friend. God Bless Mama and Mrs Hayden!

I am as excited as a new lamb and have invited Mrs Doughty to tea with us. I have tried to give her some prior notice of his intentions, such as I understand them. I feel unqualified to chaperone either of them but cannot bear the thought of her spurning his affection and causing him heart pain. I could not stand to see Papa rejected by such a fine person – and I know Mama will be watching us all with whatever anticipation is manifest in the disembodied. Oh, I could almost wish I had never challenged him to find us some new entertainment – and more so than that, I wish Josiah were here to tell me what I should do!

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