Chapter 9


Allworthy took an opportunity, whilst he was in the chair, of reading the letter from Jones to Sophia, which Western delivered him; and there were some expressions in it concerning himself which drew tears from his eyes. At length he arrived at Mr. Western’s, and was introduced to Sophia.

When the first ceremonies were past, and the gentleman and lady had taken their chairs, a silence of some minutes ensued; during which the latter, who had been prepared for the visit by her father, sat playing with her fan, and had every mark of confusion both in her countenance and behaviour. At length Allworthy, who was himself a little disconcerted, began thus: “I am afraid, Miss Western, my family hath been the occasion of giving you some uneasiness; to which, I fear, I have innocently become more instrumental than I intended. Be assured, madam, had I at first known how disagreeable the proposals had been, I should not have suffered you to have been so long persecuted. I hope, therefore, you will not think the design of this visit is to trouble you with any further solicitations of that kind, but entirely to relieve you from them.”

“Sir,” said Sophia, with a little modest hesitation, “this behaviour is most kind and generous, and such as I could expect only from Mr. Allworthy; but as you have been so kind to mention this matter, you will pardon me for saying, it hath, indeed, given me great uneasiness, and hath been the occasion of my suffering much cruel treatment from a father, who was, till that unhappy affair, the tenderest and fondest of all parents. I am convinced, sir, you are too good and generous to resent my refusal of your nephew. Our inclinations are not in our own power; and whatever may be his merit, I cannot force them in his favour.” “I assure you, most amiable young lady,” said Allworthy, “I am capable of no such resentment, had the person been my own son, and had I entertained the highest esteem for him. For you say truly, madam, we cannot force our inclinations, much less can they be directed by another.” “Oh! sir,” answered Sophia, “every word you speak proves you deserve that good, that great, that benevolent character the whole world allows you. I assure you, sir, nothing less than the certain prospect of future misery could have made me resist the commands of my father.” “I sincerely believe you, madam,” replied Allworthy, “and I heartily congratulate you on your prudent foresight, since by so justifiable a resistance you have avoided misery indeed!” “You speak now, Mr. Allworthy,” cries she, “with a delicacy which few men are capable of feeling! but surely, in my opinion, to lead our lives with one to whom we are indifferent must be a state of wretchedness.—Perhaps that wretchedness would be even increased by a sense of the merits of an object to whom we cannot give our affections. If I had married Mr. Blifil—” “Pardon my interrupting you, madam,” answered Allworthy, “but I cannot bear the supposition.— Believe me, Miss Western, I rejoice from my heart, I rejoice in your escape.—I have discovered the wretch for whom you have suffered all this cruel violence from your father to be a villain.” “How, sir!” cries Sophia—“you must believe this surprizes me.”—“It hath surprized me, madam,” answered Allworthy, “and so it will the world.—But I have acquainted you with the real truth.” “Nothing but truth,” says Sophia, “can, I am convinced, come from the lips of Mr. Allworthy.— Yet, sir, such sudden, such unexpected news—Discovered, you say—may villany be ever so!”—“You will soon enough hear the story,” cries Allworthy;—“at present let us not mention so detested a name.—I have another matter of a very serious nature to propose.—O! Miss Western, I know your vast worth, nor can I so easily part with the ambition of being allied to it.— I have a near relation, madam, a young man whose character is, I am convinced, the very opposite to that of this wretch, and whose fortune I will make equal to what his was to have been. Could I, madam, hope you would admit a visit from him?” Sophia, after a minute’s silence, answered, “I will deal with the utmost sincerity with Mr. Allworthy. His character, and the obligation I have just received from him, demand it. I have determined at present to listen to no such proposals from any person. My only desire is to be restored to the affection of my father, and to be again the mistress of his family. This, sir, I hope to owe to your good offices. Let me beseech you, let me conjure you, by all the goodness which I, and all who know you, have experienced, do not, the very moment when you have released me from one persecution, do not engage me in another as miserable and as fruitless.” “Indeed, Miss Western,” replied Allworthy, “I am capable of no such conduct; and if this be your resolution, he must submit to the disappointment, whatever torments he may suffer under it.” “I must smile now, Mr. Allworthy,” answered Sophia, “when you mention the torments of a man whom I do not know, and who can consequently have so little acquaintance

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