let me come upstairs. I hope he hath not the same reason to keep me from you as he had at Upton.— I suppose you hardly expected to see me; but you have certainly bewitched my lady. Poor dear young lady! To be sure, I loves her as tenderly as if she was my own sister. Lord have mercy upon you, if you don’t make her a good husband! and to be sure, if you do not, nothing can be bad enough for you.” Jones begged her only to whisper, for that there was a lady dying in the next room. “A lady!” cries she; “ay, I suppose one of your ladies. —O Mr. Jones, there are too many of them in the world; I believe we are got into the house of one, for my Lady Bellaston, I darst to say, is no better than she should be.”—“Hush! hush!” cries Jones, “every word is overheard in the next room.”—“I don’t care a farthing,” cries Honour, “I speaks no scandal of any one; but to be sure the servants make no scruple of saying as how her ladyship meets men at another place—where the house goes under the name of a poor gentlewoman; but her ladyship pays the rent, and many’s the good thing besides, they say, she hath of her.”—Here Jones, after expressing the utmost uneasiness, offered to stop her mouth:—“Hey-day! why sure, Mr. Jones, you will let me speak; I speaks no scandal, for I only says what I heard from others—and thinks I to myself, much good may it do the gentlewoman with her riches, if she comes by it in such a wicked manner. To be sure it is better to be poor and honest.” “The servants are villains,” cries Jones, “and abuse their lady unjustly.”—“Ay, to be sure, servants are always villains, and so my lady says, and won’t hear a word of it.”—“No, I am convinced,” says Jones, “my Sophia is above listening to such base scandal.”—“Nay, I believe it is no scandal, neither,” cries Honour, “for why should she meet men at another house?— It can never be for any good: for if she had a lawful design of being courted, as to be sure any lady may lawfully give her company to men upon that account: why, where can be the sense?”—“I protest,” cries Jones, “I can’t hear all this of a lady of such honour, and a relation of Sophia; besides, you will distract the poor lady in the next room.—Let me entreat you to walk with me down stairs.”—“Nay, sir, if you won’t let me speak, I have done.—Here, sir, is a letter from my young lady— what would some men give to have this? But, Mr. Jones, I think you are not over and above generous, and yet I have heard some servants say——but I am sure you will do me the justice to own I never saw the colour of your money.” Here Jones hastily took the letter, and presently after slipped five pieces into her hand. He then returned a thousand thanks to his dear Sophia in a whisper, and begged her to leave him to read her letter: she presently departed, not without expressing much grateful sense of his generosity.

Lady Bellaston now came from behind the curtain. How shall I describe her rage? Her tongue was at first incapable of utterance; but streams of fire darted from her eyes, and well indeed they might, for her heart was all in a flame. And now, as soon as her voice found way, instead of expressing any indignation against Honour or her own servants, she began to attack poor Jones. “You see,” said she, “what I have sacrificed to you; my reputation, my honour—gone for ever! And what return have I found? Neglected, slighted for a country girl, for an idiot.”—“What neglect, madam, or what slight,” cries Jones, “have I been guilty of?”—“Mr. Jones,” said she, “it is in vain to dissemble; if you will make me easy, you must entirely give her up; and as a proof of your intention, show me the letter.”— “What letter, madam?” said Jones. “Nay, surely,” said she, “you cannot have the confidence to deny your having received a letter by the hands of that trollop.”—“And can your ladyship,” cries he, “ask of me what I must part with my honour before I grant? Have I acted in such a manner by your ladyship? Could I be guilty of betraying this poor innocent girl to you, what security could you have that I should not act the same part by yourself? A moment’s reflection will, I am sure, convince you, that a man with whom the secrets of a lady are not safe must be the most contemptible of wretches.”—“Very well,” said she— “I need not insist on your becoming this contemptible wretch in your own opinion; for the inside of the letter could inform me of nothing more than I know already. I see the footing you are upon.”—Here ensued a long conversation, which the reader, who is not too curious, will thank me for not inserting at length. It shall suffice, therefore, to inform him, that Lady Bellaston grew more and more pacified, and at length believed, or affected to believe, his protestations, that his meeting with Sophia that evening was merely accidental, and every other matter which the reader already knows, and which as Jones set before her in the strongest light, it is plain that she had in reality no reason to be angry with him.

She was not, however, in her heart perfectly satisfied with his refusal to show her the letter; so deaf are we to the clearest reason, when it argues against our prevailing passions. She was, indeed, well convinced that Sophia possessed the first place in Jones’s affections; and yet, haughty and amorous as this lady

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.