William Walter Elliot to Colonel Wallis
Sydney-place. February 23
My apologies for a cavalier dismissal of your invitation to cards on two occasions in a week. You are well aware that my personal preference would certainly be for an evening of male company but must at present give way to the continuing career of Beau Elliot.
I am become the escort par excellence but confess that the role becomes not only irksome but occasionally a matter for comedy. On Monday last I was to be found attending both my cousins and the faithful Penelope to shops in Milsom-street and ridiculously standing in the rain arbitrating on the matter of whose boots were the thicker; the delicate point at issue, my dear Wallis, being that the owner of the thicker boots would have the honour and pleasure of my company tramping through the muddy streets while the other rode dry in Lady Dalrymple’s carriage.
Your sardonic eye at the concert did not, I may say, manage to discompose me as I skillfully maneuvered between three women – nay! four, if one could count Miss Carteret – to the shrill accompaniment of La Sessi. As a securely married man, you may well laugh at my peculiarly unlucky predicament: to escort at once the woman I am expected to marry, the woman I wish to marry, and the woman who wishes to marry me – but for whom I have other plans.
That last lady becomes restive, and I have observed with some amusement and alarm a reopening of the campaign on Sir Walter, who is ever vulnerable to outrageous flattery. An energetic renewal of my own persuasive charm seems to be indicated.
I am to be out of Bath until Saturday night, but I shall exact another invitation from you. Relief is needed.