18th January 1826

Talked to Percy Muzzle at lunch. He is still moping over his lost mouse and deeply in love with his little barmaid; and he still has not even spoken to her! I told him that he needed to pluck up some manly courage and so we walked back home via the Stray Cat and Mutton, where we saw her through the window. The girl, Jane, wears a ridiculous large necklace and a frilly cap and smiles a good deal at all and sundry. I would not call her interesting; but I told Muzzle that he should go inside and demand a half-pint of their very finest ale and strike up a jolly conversation. He said that he did not know what girls cared to talk about, except perhaps lace bonnets and little dogs. Neither of these seemed very promising, so we stood around for a good while and then went home. I rather think this romance is doomed.

Mama was in fine spirits when I got back. For she had met Selena Hathersage at the milliner’s on the High Street and introduced herself. Moreover, she found Miss Hathersage to be ‘a very polite and charming young woman, if I am to be considered any judge of character and – despite your unfortunate speculations, Charles, mind – with a perfectly pleasing and natural physiogomy.’ Miss Hathersage, during their brief conversation, dropped hints of an invitation to pay a call on them at No.13 – hence Mama’s good humour.

Papa was listening to this female chatter but kept his head down and pretended to be reading the paper. I changed the subject and asked him if we might go to the theatre on Saturday. He raised his head and promised that he would keep an eye on the bills. Mama, I will swear, looked ready to say something very particular, but then thought better of it.

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