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with the words of Sophia herself in her letter, that he made not the least doubt but that she had disclosed his letter to her aunt, and had taken a fixed resolution to abandon him. The torments this thought gave him, were to be equalled only by a piece of news which Fortune had yet in store for him, and which we shall communicate in the second chapter of the ensuing book.
Containing about six Days.
E are now, reader, arrived at the last stage of our long journey. As we have, therefore travelled together through so many pages, let us behave to one another like fellow-travellers in a stage.coach, who have passed several days in the company of each other; and who, notwithstanding any bickerings or little animosities which may have occurred on the road, generally make all up at last, and mount, for the last time, into their vehicle with cheerfulness aud good-humour; since after this one stage, it may possibly happen to us, as it commonly happens to them, never to meet more.
As I have here taken up this simile, give me leave to carry it a little farther. I intend then, in this last book, to imitate the good company I have mentioned in their last journey. Now, it is well known, that all jokes and raillery are at this time laid aside : whatever characters any of the passengers have, for
the jest's sake, personated on the road, are now thrown off, and the conversation is usually plain and serious.
In the same manner, if I have now and then, in the course of this work, indulged any pleasantry for thy entertainment, I shall here lay it down. The variety of matter, indeed, which I shall be obliged to cram into this book, will afford no room for any of those ludicrous observations which I have elsewhere made, and which may, sometimes, perhaps, have prevented thee from taking a nap when it was beginning to steal upon thee. In this last book, thou wilt find nothing (or at most very little) of that nature; all will be plain narrative only; and, indeed, when thou hast perused the many great events which this book will produce, thou wilt think the number of pages contained in it searce sufficient to tell the story.
And now, my friend, I take this opportunity (as I shall have no other) of heartily wishing thee well. If I have been an entertaining companion to thee, I promise thee it is what I have desired. If in any thing I have offended, it was really without any intention. Some things, perhaps, here said may have hit thee or thy friends; but I do most solemnly declare they were not pointed at thee or them. I question not but thou hast been told, among other stories of me, that thou wast to travel with a very scurrilous fellow; but whoever told thee so, did me an injury. No man detests and despises scurrility more than myself; nor hath any man more reason; for none hath ever been treated with more; and what is a very severe fate, I have had some of the abusive writings of those very men fathered upon me, who in other of their works have abused me themselves with the utmost virulence.
All these works, however, I am well convinced, will be dead long before this page shall offer itself to thy perusal; for, however short the period may
be of my own performances, they will most probably outlive their own infirm author, and the weekly productions of his abusive contemporaries.
WHILE Jones was employed in those unpleasant meditations, with which we left him tormenting himself, Partridge came stumbling into the room with his face paler than ashes, his eyes fixed in his head, his hair standing an end, every limb trembling. I short, he looked as he would have done had he seen a spectre, or had he, indeed, been a spectre himself.
Jones, who was little subject to fear, could not avoid being somewhat shocked with this sudden ap pearance. He did, indeed, himself change colour, and his voice a little faltered, while he asked him, What was the matter!
I hope, sir,' said Partridge, you will not be angry with me. Indeed, I did not listen, but I was obliged to stay in the outward room. I am sure I I wish I had been a hundred miles off, rather than have heard what I have heard. Why what is the matter?" said Jones. The matter, sir? O good Heaven!' answered Partridge; was that woman who is just gone out, the woman who was with you at Upton? She was, Partridge,' cries Jones. And did you really, sir, go to bed with that woman? said he, trembling. I am afraid, what passed between us is no secret,' said Jones. Nay, but pray, sir, for Heaven's sake, sir, answer me,' cries Partridge. You know I did,' cries Jones. Why, then, the Lord have mercy upon your soul, and forgive you,' cries Partridge; but as sure as I stand here alive, you have been abed with your own mother.'
Upon these words, Jones became in a moment a greater picture of horror than Partridge himself.
He was, indeed, for some time, struck dumb withi amazement, and both stood staring wildly at each other. At last his words found way, and in an interrupted voice, he said, 'How! how! what's this you tell me? Nay, sir,' cries Partridge, I have not breath enough left to tell you now; but what I have said is most certainly true.That woman who now went out is your own mother. How unlucky was it for you, sir, that I did not happen to see her at that time, to have prevented it! Sure the devil himself must have contrived to bring about this wickedness."
'Sure,' cries Jones, Fortune will never have done with me, till she hath driven me to distraction. But why do I blame Fortune? I am myself the cause of all my misery. All the dreadful mischiefs, which have befallen me, are the consequences only of my own folly and vice. What thou hast told me, Partridge, hath almost deprived me of my senses. And was Mrs. Waters, then--But why do I ask? for thou must certainly know her. If thou hast any affection for me; nay, if thou hast any pity, let me beseech thee to fetch this miserable woman back again to me. O, good Heavens! to what am I reserved? He then fell into the most violent and frantic agonies of grief and despair, in which Partridge declared he would not leave him; but at last, having vented the first torrent of passion, he came a little to himself; and then, having acquainted Partridge, that he would find this wretched woman in the same house where the wounded gentleman was lodged, he dispatched him in quest of her.
If the reader will please to refresh his memory, by turning to the scene at Upton, in the ninth book, he will be apt to admire the many strange accidents which unfortunately prevented any interview be tween Partridge and Mrs. Waters, when she spent a whole day there with Mr. Jones. Instances of this kind we may frequently observe in life, where the greatest events are produced by a nice train of