Came home through the Merchant’s Gate into our garden at the Navy Office. Seeing a person standing there, staring over the picket fence, did make me quake and sweat that it might be a bailiff. Fortunately it was but an old crone, and I got in safely. The servants were late spreading my shirts to dry on the lavender bushes. I admonished them for their laziness and demanded my best one be ready for the morrow.
As I looked out onto the Privy garden, Lady Castlemaine’s maids were laying out to dry her smocks and linen petticoats, the finest I ever saw, with rich lace at the bottom. It did me good to look upon them, imagining the fragrance that would cling to those garments as their mistress dressed. I thought one of the girls waved to me, and shrank back behind the shutter lest they thought me perverse but when I peeped again it was to someone outside on Tower Hill.
About 11 home, it being a fine moonshine, and so my wife and I did come into the garden. It has the best walks of gravel, and a mixture of statues and handsome pots, filled with such a flower or greenery as the season of the year will bear; no borders as spoil the walks in other gardens, just sweet smelling bushes. Hearing a disturbance by the gate, I sent Mrs Pepys home, and went to investigate. From behind a wall, I watched as a maidservant passed something over the fence.
I thought the gardeners had been overly zealous with the pruning today, but then overheard a group of girls near the back door. They talked of rich pickings of lavender and a deal with a grandmother who lives in the almshouses.
Passed the old woman on Seething Lane, selling lavender nosegays to keep the London air sweet for those who carried them. Thought upon rebuking her, then instead considered how my discretion might curry favour with the wenches in Lady C’s household.
And so to the office…..