Chapter 3


Jones was no sooner alone, than he eagerly broke open his letter, and read as follows:—

“Sir, it is impossible to express what I have suffered since you left this house; and as I have reason to think you intend coming here again, I have sent Honour, though so late at night, as she tells me she knows your lodgings, to prevent you. I charge you, by all the regard you have for me, not to think of visiting here; for it will certainly be discovered; nay, I almost doubt, from some things which have dropt from her ladyship, that she is not already without some suspicion. Something favourable, perhaps, may happen; we must wait with patience; but I once more entreat you, if you have any concern for my ease, do not think of returning hither.”

This letter administered the same kind of consolation to poor Jones, which Job formerly received from his friends. Besides disappointing all the hopes which he promised to himself from seeing Sophia, he was reduced to an unhappy dilemma, with regard to Lady Bellaston; for there are some certain engagements, which, as he well knew, do very difficultly admit of any excuse for the failure; and to go, after the strict prohibition from Sophia, he was not to be forced by any human power. At length, after much deliberation, which during that night supplied the place of sleep, he determined to feign himself sick: for this suggested itself as the only means of failing the appointed visit, without incensing Lady Bellaston, which he had more than one reason of desiring to avoid.

The first thing, however, which he did in the morning, was, to write an answer to Sophia, which he inclosed in one to Honour. He then despatched another to Lady Bellaston, containing the above-mentioned excuse; and to this he soon received the following answer:—

“I am vexed that I cannot see you here this afternoon, but more concerned for the occasion; take great care of yourself, and have the best advice, and I hope there will be no danger.— I am so tormented all this morning with fools, that I have scarce a moment’s time to write to you. Adieu.

“P.S.—I will endeavour to call on you this evening, at nine.— Be sure to be alone.”

Mr. Jones now received a visit from Mrs. Miller, who, after some formal introduction, began the following speech:—“I am very sorry, sir, to wait upon you on such an occasion; but I hope you will consider the ill consequence which it must be to the reputation of my poor girls, if my house should once be talked of as a house of ill-fame. I hope you won’t think me, therefore, guilty of impertinence, if I beg you not to bring any more ladies in at that time of night. The clock had struck two before one of them went away.”—“I do assure you, madam,” said Jones, “the lady who was here last night, and who staid the latest (for the other only brought me a letter), is a woman of very great fashion, and my near relation.”—“I don’t know what fashion she is of,” answered Mrs. Miller; “but I am sure no woman of virtue, unless a very near relation indeed, would visit a young gentleman at ten at night, and stay four hours in his room with him alone; besides, sir, the behaviour of her chairmen shows what she was; for they did nothing but make jests all the evening in the entry, and asked Mr. Partridge, in the hearing of my own maid, if madam intended to stay with his master all night; with a great deal of stuff not proper to be repeated. I have really a great respect for you, Mr. Jones, upon your own account; nay, I have a very high obligation to you for your generosity to my cousin. Indeed, I did not know how very good you had been till lately. Little did I imagine to what dreadful courses the poor man’s distress had driven him. Little did I think, when you gave me the ten guineas, that you had given them to a highwayman! O heavens! what goodness have you shown! How have you preserved this family!—The character which Mr. Allworthy hath formerly given me of you was, I find, strictly true.—And indeed, if I had no obligation to you, my obligations to him are such, that, on his account, I should shew you the utmost respect in my power.—Nay, believe me, dear Mr. Jones, if my daughters’ and my own reputation were out of the case, I should, for your own sake, be sorry that so pretty a young gentleman should converse with these women; but if you are resolved to do it, I must beg you to take another lodging; for I do not myself like to have such things carried on under my roof; but more especially upon the account of my girls, who have little, heaven knows,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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