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never from my thoughts, I scarce ever think of her beauty, but, when I see it. And can you, my good friend,' cries Nightingale, with such an engagement as this upon your hands, hesitate a moment about quitting such a? Hold,' said Jones, no more abuse of her; I detest the thought of ingratitude. Pugh!" answered the other, you are not the first upon whom she hath conferred obligations of this kind. She is remarkably liberal where she likes; though, let me tell you, her favours are so prudently bestowed, that they should rather raise a man's vanity, than his gratitude.' In short, Nightingale proceeded so far on this head, and told his friend so many stories of the lady, which he swore to the truth of, that he entirely removed all esteem for her from the breast of Jones; and his gratitude was lessened in proportion. Indeed, he began to look on all the favours he had received rather as wages than benefits, which depreciated not only her, but himself too in his own conceit, and put him quite out of humour with both. From this disgust, his mind, by natural transition, turned towards Sophia: her virtue, her purity, her love to him, her sufferings on his account, filled all his thoughts, and made his commerce with Lady Bellaston appear still more odious. The result of all was, that though his turning himself out of her ser vice, in which light he now saw his affair with her, would be the loss of his bread; yet he determined to quit her, if he could but find a handsome pretence; which being communicated to his friend, Nightingale considered a little, and then said, I have it, my boy! I have found out a sure method: propose marriage to her, and I would venture hanging upon the success. Marriage,' cries Jones. Ay, propose marriage,' answered Nightingale, " and she will declare off in a moment. I knew a young fellow whom she kept formerly, who made the offer to her in earnest, and was presently turned off for his pains.'
Jones declared he could not venture the experie ment. Perhaps,' said he, she may be less shocked at this proposal from one man than from another. And if she should take me at my word, where am I then? Caught in my own trap, and undone for ever.' No;' answered Nightingale, not if I can get you an expedient, by which you may, at any time, get out of the trap.'-' What expedient can that be?' replied Jones, This, answered Night ingale. The young fellow I mentioned, who is one of the most intimate acquaintances I have in the world, is so angry with her for some ill officesshe hath since doue him, that I am sure he would, without any difficulty, give you a sight of her letters; upon which you may decently break with her, and declare off before the knot is tied, if she should really be willing to tie it, which I am convinced she will not.'
After some hesitation, Jones, upon the strength of this assurance, consented; but as he swore he wanted the confidence to propose the matter to her face, he wrote the following letter, which Nightingale dictated:
> I am extremely concerned, that, by an unfortunate engagement abroad, I should have missed receiving the honour of your ladyship's commands the moment they came; and the delay which I must now suffer of vindicating myself to your lady. ship, greatly adds to this misfortune. O Lady Bellaston! what a terror have I been in, for fear your reputation should be exposed by these perverse accidents! There is only one way to secure it. I need not name what that is... Only permit me to say, that as your honour is as dear to me as my own; so my sole ambition is to have the glory of laying my liberty at your feet; and believe me when I assure you, I can never be made completely happy, with.
out you generously bestow on me a legal right of calling you mine for ever. 'Madam,
⚫ with most profound respect,
To this she presently returned the following an
When I read over your serious epistle, I could, from its coldness and formality, have sworn that you already had the legal right you mention; nay, that we had, for many years, composed that monstrous animal, a husband and wife. Do you really then imagine me a fool? or do you fancy yourself capable of so entirely persuading me out of my senses, that I should deliver my whole fortune into your power, in order to enable you to support your pleasures at my expense? Are these the proofs of love which I expected? Is this the return for---but I scorn to upbraid you, and am in great admiration of your profound respect.
P. S. I am prevented from revising :--Perhaps I have said more than I meant...Come to me at eight this evening.'
Jones, by the advice of his privy-council, replied:
'It is impossible to express how much I am shocked at the suspicion you entertain of me. Can Lady Bellaston have conferred favours on a man whom she could believe capable of so base a design; or can she treat the most solemn tie of love with contempt? Can you imagine, madam, that if the violence of my passion in an unguarded mo
ment, overcame the tenderness which I have for your honour, I would think of indulging myself in the continuance of an intercourse which could not possibly escape long the notice of the world: and which, wheu discovered, must prove so fatal to your reputation? If such be your opinion of me, I must pray for a sudden opportunity of returning those pecuniary obligations, which I have been so unfor tunate to receive at your hands; and for those of a more tender kind, I shall ever remain, &c.' And so concluded in the very words with which he had concluded the former letter.
The lady answered as follows:
I see you are a villain; and I despise you from my soul. If you come here, I shall not be at home.'
Though Jones was well satisfied with his deliverance from a thraldom which those who have ever experienced it, will, I apprehend, allow to be none of the lightest, he was not, however, perfectly easy in his mind. There was in this scheme too much of fallacy to satisfy one who utterly detested every species of falsehood or dishonesty; nor would he, indeed, have submitted to put it in practice, had he not been involved in a distressful situation, where he was obliged to be guilty of some dishonour, either to the one lady or the other; and surely the reader will allow, that every good principle, as well as love, pleaded strongly in favour of Sophia.
Nightingale highly exulted in the success of his stratagem, upon which he received many thanks, and much applause from his friend. He answered, Dear Tom, we have conferred very different obligations on each other. To me you owe the regaining of your liberty; to you I owe the loss of mine. But if you are as happy in the one instange as I am VOL. II.
in the other, I promise you we are the two happiest fellows in England.'
The two gentlemen were now summoned down to dinner, where Mrs. Miller, who performed herself the office of cook, had exerted her best talents to celebrate the wedding of her daughter. This joy. ful circumstance she ascribed principally, to the friendly behaviour of Jones; her whole soul was fired with gratitude towards him, and all her looks, words, and actions, were so busied in expressing it, that her daughter, and even her new son-in-law, were very little the objects of her consideration.
Dinner was just ended when Mrs. Miller received a letter; but as we have had letters enow in this chapter, we shall communicate the contents in our
THE letter then which arrived at the end of the preceding chapter, was from Mr. Allworthy, and the purport of it was, his intention to come immediately to town, with his nephew Blifil, and a desire to be accommodated with his usual lodgings, which were the first floor for himself, and the se cond for his nephew.
The cheerfulness which had before displayed itself in the countenance of the poor woman, was a little clouded on this occasion. This news did indeed a good deal disconcert her. To requite so disinterested a match with her daughter by presentJy turning her new son-in-law out of doors, appeared to her very unjustifiable on the one hand; and, on the other, she could scarce bear the thoughts of making any excuse to Mr. Allworthy, after all the obligations received from him, for depriving him of lodgings which were indeed strictly his due; for