Chapter 13


Sophia had passed the last twenty-four hours in no very desirable manner. During a large part of them she had been entertained by her aunt with lectures of prudence, recommending to her the example of the polite world, where love (so the good lady said) is at present entirely laughed at, and where women consider matrimony, as men do offices of public trust, only as the means of making their fortunes, and of advancing themselves in the world. In commenting on which text Mrs. Western had displayed her eloquence during several hours.

These sagacious lectures, though little suited either to the taste or inclination of Sophia, were, however, less irksome to her than her own thoughts, that formed the entertainment of the night, during which she never once closed her eyes.

But though she could neither sleep nor rest in her bed, yet, having no avocation from it, she was found there by her father at his return from Allworthy’s, which was not till past ten o’clock in the morning. He went directly up to her apartment, opened the door, and seeing she was not up, cried, “Oh! you are safe then, and I am resolved to keep you so.” He then locked the door, and delivered the key to Honour, having first given her the strictest charge, with great promises of rewards for her fidelity, and most dreadful menaces of punishment in case she should betray her trust.

Honour’s orders were, not to suffer her mistress to come out of her room without the authority of the squire himself, and to admit none to her but him and her aunt; but she was herself to attend her with whatever Sophia pleased, except only pen, ink, and paper, of which she was forbidden the use.

The squire ordered his daughter to dress herself and attend him at dinner; which she obeyed; and having sat the usual time, was again conducted to her prison.

In the evening the gaoler Honour brought her the letter which she received from the gamekeeper. Sophia read it very attentively twice or thrice over, and then threw herself upon the bed, and burst into a flood of tears. Mrs. Honour expressed great astonishment at this behaviour in her mistress; nor could she forbear very eagerly begging to know the cause of this passion. Sophia made her no answer for some time, and then, starting suddenly up, caught her maid by the hand, and cried, “O Honour! I am undone.” “Marry forbid,” cries Honour: “I wish the letter had been burnt before I had brought it to your la’ship. I’m sure I thought it would have comforted your la’ship, or I would have seen it at the devil before I would have touched it.” “Honour,” says Sophia, “you are a good girl, and it is vain to attempt concealing longer my weakness from you; I have thrown away my heart on a man who hath forsaken me.” “And is Mr. Jones,” answered the maid, “such a perfidy man?” “He hath taken his leave of me,” says Sophia, “for ever in that letter. Nay, he hath desired me to forget him. Could he have desired that if he had loved me? Could he have borne such a thought? Could he have written such a word?” “No, certainly, ma’am,” cries Honour; “and to be sure, if the best man in England was to desire me to forget him, I’d take him at his word. Marry, come up! I am sure your la’ship hath done him too much honour ever to think on him;—a young lady who may take her choice of all the young men in the country. And to be sure, if I may be so presumptuous as to offer my poor opinion, there is young Mr. Blifil, who, besides that he is come of honest parents, and will be one of the greatest squires all hereabouts, he is to be sure, in my poor opinion, a more handsomer and a more politer man by half; and besides, he is a young gentleman of a sober character, and who may defy any of the neighbours to say black is his eye; he follows no dirty trollops, nor can any bastards be laid at his door. Forget him, indeed! I thank Heaven I myself am not so much at my last prayers as to suffer any man to bid me forget him twice. If the best he that wears a head was for to go for to offer to say such an affronting word to me, I would never give him my company afterwards, if there was another young man in the kingdom. And as I was a saying, to be sure, there is young Mr. Blifil.” “Name not his detested name,” cries Sophia. “Nay, ma’am,” says Honour, “if your la’ship doth not like him, there be more jolly handsome young men that would court your la’ship, if they

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