« PreviousContinue »
by the very fellow who had attended the ladies. thither the day before.
Nothing more aggravates ill success than the near approach to good. The gamester, who loses his party at piquet by a single point, laments his bad luck ten times as much as he who never came within a prospect of the game. So in a lottery, the proprietors of the next numbers to that which wins the great prize are apt to account themselves much more unfortunate than their fellow-sufferers. In short, these kind of hair-breadth missings of happiness look like the insults of fortune, who may be considered as thus playing tricks with us, and wantonly diverting herself at our expense.
Jones, who more than once already had experienced this frolicksome disposition of the heathen goddess, was now again doomed to be tantalized in the like manner; for he arrived at the door of Mrs. Fitzpatrick about ten minutes after the departure of Sophia. He now addressed himself to the waiting-woman belonging to Mrs. Fitzpatrick; who told him the disagreeable news, that the lady was gone; but could not tell him whither; and the same answer he afterwards received from Mrs. Fitzpatrick herself. For as that lady made no doubt but that Mr. Jones was a person detached from her uncle. Western, in pursuit of his daughter, so she was too generous to betray her.
Though Jones had never seen Mrs. Fitzpatrick, yet he had heard that a cousin of Sophia was inarried to a gentleman of that name. This, however, in the present tumult of his mind, never once recurred to his memory; but when the footman, who had conducted him from his lordship's, acquainted him with the great intimacy between the ladies, and with their calling each other cousin, he then recollected the story of the marriage which he had formerly heard; and, as he was presently convinced that this was the same woman, he became more surprised at the answer which he had received,
and very earnestly desired leave to wait on the lady herself; but she as positively refused him that honour.
Jones, who, though he had never seen a court, was better bred than most who frequent it, was incapable of any rude or abrupt behaviour to a lady. When he had received, therefore, a peremptory denial, he retired for the present, saying to the waiting-woman, That if this was an improper hour to wait on her lady, he would return in the afternoon; and that he then hoped to have the honour of seeing her. The civility with which he uttered this, added to the great comeliness of his person, made an impression on the waiting-woman, and she could not help answering, Perhaps, sir, you may:' and, indeed, she afterwards said every thing to her mistress, which she thought most likely to prevail on her to admit a visit from the handsome young gentleman; for so she called him.
Jones very shrewdly suspected, that Sophia herself was now with her cousin, and was denied to him; which he imputed to her resentment of what had happened at Upton. Having, therefore, dispatched Partridge to procure him lodgings, he remained all day in the street, watching the door where he thought his angel lay concealed; but no person did he see issue forth, except a servant of the house, and in the evening he returned to pay his visit to Mrs. Fitzpatrick, which that good lady at last condescended to admit.
in t kno
There is a certain air of natural gentility, which it is neither in the power of dress to give, nor to conceal. Mr. Jones, as hath been before hinted, was possessed of this in a very eminent degree. He met, therefore, with a reception from the lady somewhat different from what his apparel seemed to demand; and, after he had paid her his proper respects, was desired to sit down.
The reader will not, I believe, be desirous of knowing all the particulars of this conversation, which
ended very little to the satisfaction of poor Jones. For though Mrs. Fitzpatrick soon discovered the lover (as all women have the eyes of hawks in those matters), yet she still thought it was such a lover, as a generous friend of the lady should not betray her to. In short, she suspected this was the very Mr. Blifil, from whom Sophia had flown; and all the answers which she artfully drew from Jones, concerning Mr. Allworthy's family, confirmed her in this opinion. She therefore strictly denied any knowledge concerning the place whither Sophia was gone; nor could Jones obtain more than a permission to wait on her again the next evening.
When Jones was departed, Mrs. Fitzpatrick communicated her suspicion concerning Mr. Blifil to her maid; who answered, Sure, madam, he is too pretty a man, in my opinion, for any woman in the world to run away from. I had rather fancy it is Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones,' said the lady, what Jones For Sophia had not given the least hint of any such person in all their conversation: but Mrs. Honour had been much more communicative, and had acquainted her sister Abigail with the whole history of Jones, which this now again related to her mistress.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick no sooner received this information, than she immediately agreed with the opinion of her maid; and, what is very unaccountable, saw charms in the gallant, happy lover, which she had overlooked in the slighted 'squire. Betty,' says she, you are certainly in the right: he is a very pretty fellow, and I don't wonder that my cousin's maid should tell you so many women are fond of him. I am sorry now I did not inform him where my cousin was; and yet, if he be so terrible a rake as you tell me, it is a pity she should ever see him. any more; for what but her ruin can happen from marrying a rake and a beggar against her father's consent. I protest, if he be such a man as the wench described him to you, it is but an office of
charity to keep her from him; and, I am sure, it would be unpardonable in me to do otherwise, who have tasted so bitte: ly of the misfortunes attending such marriages.'
Here she was interrupted by the arrival of a visitor, which was no other than his lordship; and, as nothing passed at this visit either new or extraor dinary, or any ways material to this history, we shall here put an end to this chapter.
WHEN Mrs. Fitzpatrick retired to rest, her
thoughts were entirely taken up by her cousin Sophia and Mr. Jones. She was, indeed, a little offended with the former, for the disingenuity which she now discovered. In which meditation she had not long exercised her imagination, before the following conceit suggested itself: that could she possibly become the means of preserving Sophia from this man, and of restoring her to her father, she should, in all human probability, by so great a ser vice to the family, reconcile herself both to her uncle and her aunt Western.
As this was one of her most favourite wishes, so the hope of success seemed so reasonable, that nothing remained but to consider of proper me. thods to accomplish her scheme. To attempt to reason the case with Sophia, did not appear to her one of those methods; for as Betty had reported from Mrs. Honour, that Sophia had a violent inclination to Jones, she conceived, that to dissuade her from the match was an endeavour of the same. kind as it would be very heartily and earnestly to entreat a moth not to fly into a candle.
If the reader will please to remember, that the acquaintance which Sophia had with Lady Bellaston was contracted at the house of Mrs. Western, and
must have grown at the very time when Mrs. Fitzpatrick lived with this latter lady, he will want no information, that Mrs. Fitzpatrick must have been acquainted with her likewise. They were, besides, both equally her distant relations.
After much consideration, therefore, she resolved to go early in the morning to that lady, and endea vour to see her, unknown to Sophia, and to acquaint her with the whole affair. For she did not in the least doubt, but that the prudent lady, who had often ridiculed romantic love, and indiscreet mar. riages, in her conversation, would very readily con. cur in her sentiments concerning this match, and would lend her utmost assistance to prevent it.
This resolution she accordingly executed; and the next morning before the sun she huddled on her clothes, and, at a very unfashionable, unseasonable, unvisitable hour, went to Lady Bellaston, to whom she got access, without the least knowledge or suspicion of Sophia, who, though not asleep, lay at that time awake in her bed, with Honour snoring by her side.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick made many apologies for an early, abrupt visit, at an hour when, she said, "she should not have thought of disturbing her lady. ship, but upon business of the utmost consequence. She then opened the whole affair, told all she had heard from Betty; and did not forget the visit which Jones had paid to herself the preceding evening.
Lady Bellaston answered with a, smile, Then you have seen this terrible man, madam; pray, is he so very fine a figure as he is represented? for Etoff entertained me last night almost two hours. with him. The wench, I believe, is in love with him by reputation.' Here the reader will be apt to wonder; but the truth is, that Mrs. Etoff, who had the honour to pin and unpin the Lady Bellaston, had received complete information concerning the said Mr. Jones, and had faithfully conveyed the VOL. II.