Chapter 9


Mr. Jones, at his return home, found the following letters lying on his table, which he luckily opened in the order they were sent.

Letter I

“Surely I am under some strange infatuation; I cannot keep my resolutions a moment, however strongly made or justly founded. Last night I resolved never to see you more; this morning I am willing to hear if you can, as you say, clear up this affair. And yet I know that to be impossible. I have said everything to myself which you can invent.—Perhaps not. Perhaps your invention is stronger. Come to me, therefore, the moment you receive this. If you can forge an excuse, I almost promise you to believe it. Betrayed too—I will think no more.—Come to me directly.—This is the third letter I have writ, the two former are burnt—I am almost inclined to burn this too—I wish I may preserve my senses.—Come to me presently.”

Letter II

“If you ever expect to be forgiven, or even suffered within my doors, come to me this instant.”

Letter III

“I now find you was not at home when my notes came to your lodgings. The moment you receive this let me see you;—I shall not stir out; nor shall anybody be let in but yourself. Sure nothing can detain you long.”

Jones had just read over these three billets, when Mr. Nightingale came into the room. “Well, Tom,” said he, “any news from Lady Bellaston, after last night’s adventure?” (for it was now no secret to any one in that house who the lady was). “The Lady Bellaston?” answered Jones very gravely.—“Nay, dear Tom,” cries Nightingale, “don’t be so reserved to your friends. Though I was too drunk to see her last night, I saw her at the masquerade. Do you think I am ignorant who the queen of the fairies is?” “And did you really then know the lady at the masquerade?” said Jones. “Yes, upon my soul, did I,” said Nightingale, “and have given you twenty hints of it since, though you seemed always so tender on that point, that I would not speak plainly. I fancy, my friend, by your extreme nicety in this matter, you are not so well acquainted with the character of the lady as with her person. Don’t be angry, Tom, but upon my honour, you are not the first young fellow she hath debauched. Her reputation is in no danger, believe me.”

Though Jones had no reason to imagine the lady to have been of the vestal kind when his amour began; yet, as he was thoroughly ignorant of the town, and had very little acquaintance in it, he had no knowledge of that character which is vulgarly called a demirep; that is to say, a woman who intrigues with every man she likes, under the name and appearance of virtue; and who, though some over-nice ladies will not be seen with her, is visited (as they term it) by the whole town, in short, whom everybody knows to be what nobody calls her.

When he found, therefore, that Nightingale was perfectly acquainted with his intrigue, and began to suspect that so scrupulous a delicacy as he had hitherto observed was not quite necessary on the occasion, he gave a latitude to his friend’s tongue, and desired him to speak plainly what he knew, or had ever heard of the lady.

Nightingale, who, in many other instances, was rather too effeminate in his disposition, had a pretty strong inclination to tittle-tattle. He had no sooner, therefore, received a full liberty of speaking from Jones, than he entered upon a long narrative concerning the lady; which, as it contained many particulars highly to her dishonour, we have too great a tenderness for all women of condition to repeat. We would cautiously avoid giving an opportunity to the future commentators on our works, of making any malicious application, and of forcing us to be, against our will, the author of scandal, which never entered into our head.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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