Cityspeed, Marianna used to call it, the speed at which
I walk to get not from one village pub to the next but that
Which I use to make things--often travel arrangements--
Happen faster, so I can make connections between coaches
And ships, between one set of high-flown friends and another.
Now I rush, feeling exhilarated, toward the rooms that
Vere and Donald have let, to show off tiny Anne Hobart
To their aristocratic acquaintances in the City. I hurry
Between puddles in the street, take the townhouse's
Steps two at a time and rap the knocker. Inside their
Well-apportioned home, I also take the many stairs
Two at a time in my eagerness to see Vere, congratulate
Her on that achievement <as she sees it> that required her
To risk her life and bet on the child for her future security.
<Do I sound jaded, testy? Perhaps. Well, let it be so.>
I manage a huge smile when I see her and the small, bald
Progeny. Her hair braided to the side <as I always imagined
She did it for bed>, she holds the swaddled babe, smiling
With that look women often get after surviving a birth:
Breathtaking in this case... I tell her of Donald's note,
And she says she would have rather laid an egg. I laugh,
Until she says, "Here, have a go." My gloves and greatcoat
Still on, I take up the blanketed Verelette tagged with my--
I mean, his grandmother's name. I sit, pull my gloves off
With my teeth and hold and examine the child, who has
Vere's exquisite pearl ears. Vere laughs at my expression,
Asks, "How are you? How long in London?" "A fortnight,
Then to Paris, and after that, who knows? South to Rome,
Or north to Copenhagen and--" "Oh, you must go there!
My half-sister lives in Copenhagen, would be delighted
If you turned up there, couldn't do enough for you.
She's gagging for decent company. Her husband does have
Those handy connections at court. Who are you traveling
With?" And she doesn't ask, when I say, a man and my maid,
But I keep waiting for someone to say, "Do ladies do that?"