« PreviousContinue »
long from you. Perhaps I ought to be angry with you, that I have neither seen nor heard from you all day; for I perceive your distemper, would have suffered you to come abroad: nay, I suppose you have not sat in your chamber all day, dressed up like a fine lady to see company after a lying. in; but, however, don't think I intend to scold you; for I never will give you an excuse for the cold behaviour of a husband, by putting on the ill-humour of a wife.'
Nay, Lady Bellaston,' said Jones, I am sure your ladyship will not upbraid me with neglect of duty, 'when I only waited for orders. Who, my dear creature, hath reason to complain? Who missed an appointment last night, and left an unhappy man to expect, and wish, and sigh, and languish?",
'Do not mention it, my dear Jones,' cried she. If you knew the occasion, you would pity me. In short, it is impossible to conceive what women of condition are obliged to suffer from the impertinence of fools, in order to keep up the farce of the world. I am glad, however, all your languishing and wishing have done you no harm; for you never looked better in your life. Upon my faith! Jones, you might at this instant sit for the picture of Adonis.'
There are certain words of provocation, which men of honour hold can properly be answered only by a blow. Among lovers, possibly, there may be some expressions which can be answered only by a kiss. The compliment which Lady Bellaston now made. Jones, seems to be of this kind, especially as it was attended with a look, in which the lady conveyed more soft ideas than it was possible to express with her tongue.
-Jones was certainly at this instant in one of the most disagreeable and distressed situations imaginable; for, to carry on the comparison we made use of before, though the provocation was given by the lady, Jones could not receive satisfaction, nor so much as offer to ask it, in the presence of a third
person; seconds in this kind of duels not being ac. cording to the law of arms. As this objection did not occur to Lady Bellaston, who was ignorant of any other woman being there but herself, she waited some time in great astonishment for an answer from Jones, who, conscious of the ridiculous figure he made, stood at a distance, and not daring to give the proper answer, gave none at all. Nothing can be imagined more comic, nor yet more tragical, than this scene would have been, if it had lasted much longer. The lady had already changed colour two or three times; had got up from the bed, and sat down again, while Jones was wishing the ground to sink under him, or the house to fall on his head, when an odd accident freed him from an embarrassment, out of which neither the eloquence of a Cicero, nor the politics of a Machiavel, could have delivered him without utter disgrace.
This was no other than the arrival of young Night. ingale, dead drunk; or rather in that state of drunk. enness, which deprives men of the use of their rea son, without depriving them of the use of their limbs.
..Mrs. Miller and her daughters were in bed, and Partridge was smoking his pipe by the kitchen-fire; so that he arrived at Mr. Jones's chamber door without any interruption. This he burst open, and was entering without any ceremony, when Jones started from his seat, and ran to oppose him, which he did so effectually, that Nightingale never came far enough within the door to see who was sitting on the bed.
Nightingale had, in reality, mistaken Jones's apartment for that in which himself had lodged; he therefore strongly insisted on coming in, often swearing that he would not be kept from his own bed. Jones, however, prevailed over him, and de livered him into the hands of Partridge, whom the noise on the stairs soon summoued to his master's assistance.
And now Jones was unwillingly obliged to return to his own apartment, where, at the very instant of his entrance, he heard Lady Bellaston venting an exclamation, though not a very loud one; and, at the same time, saw her flinging herself into a chair in a vast agitation, which, in a lady of tender constitution, would have been an hysteric fit..
In reality, the lady, frightened with the struggle between the two men, of which she did not know what would be the issue, as she heard Nightingale swear many oaths he would come to his own bed, attempted to retire to her known place of hiding, which, to her great confusion, she found already occupied by another.
Is this usage to be borne, Mr. Jones?' cries the lady. Basest of men! What wretch is this to whom you have exposed me ? Wretch!' cries Honour, bursting in a violent rage from her place of concealment Marry, come up!-Wretch, forsooth! ---as poor a wretch as I am, I am honest; that is more than some folks who are richer can say.'
Jones, instead of applying himself directly to take off the edge of Mrs. Honour's resentment, as a more experienced gallant would have done, fell to cursing his stars, and lamenting himself as the most unfortunate man in the world; and presently after, addressing himself to Lady Bellaston, he fell to some very absurd protestations of innocence. By this time, the lady having recovered the use of her reason, which she had as ready as any woman in the world, especially on such occasions, calmly replied: Sir, you need make no apologies; I see now who the person is: I did not at first know Mrs. Honour; but now I do, I can suspect nothing wrong between her and you; and I am sure she is a woman of too good sense to put any wrong constructions upon my visit to you: I have been always her friend, and it may be in my power to be much more hereafter.'
Mrs. Honour was altogether as placable as she was passionate. Hearing, therefore, Lady Bellas
ton assume the soft tone, she likewise softened hers. I'm sure, madam,' says she, I have been always ready to acknowledge your ladyship's friendships to me: sure I never had so good a friend as your lady. ship; and, to be sure, now I see it is your ladyship that I spoke to, I could almost bite my tongue off for very mad. I constructions upon your ladyship--to be sure it doth not become a servant, as I am, to think about such a great lady-I mean I was a servant: for, indeed, I am nobody's servant now, the more miserable wretch is me; I have lost the best mistress.' Here Honour thought fit to produce a shower of tears. "Don't cry, child,' says the good lady; 'ways, perhaps, may be found to make you amends. Come to me tomorrow morning.' She then took up her fan, which lay on the ground, and, without even looking at Jónes, walked very majestically out of the room; there being a kind of dignity in the impudence of women of quality, which their inferiors vainly aspire to attain to in circumstances of this nature.
Jones followed her down stairs, often offering her his hand, which she absolutely refused him, and got into her chair without taking any notice of him as he stood bowing before her.
At his return up stairs, a long dialogue passed between him and Mrs. Honour, while she was adjusting herself after the discomposure she had undergone. The subject of this was, his infidelity to her young lady; on which she enlarged with great bitterness but Jones at last found means to reconcile her; and not only so, but to obtain a promise of most inviolable secrecy, and that she would the next morning endeavour to find out Sophia, and bring him a further account of the proceedings of the squire.
Thus ended this unfortunate adventure, to the satisfaction only of Mrs. Honour; for a secret (as some of my readers will, perhaps, acknowledge from experience) is often a very valuable possession; and that not only to those who faithfully keep it, but
sometimes to such as whisper it about till it come to the ears of every one, except the ignorant person who pays for the supposed concealing of what is publicly known.
NOTWITHSTANDING all the obligations she
had received from Jones, Mrs. Miller could not forbear in the morning some gentle `remonstrances for the hurricane which had happened the preceding night in his chamber. These were, however, so gentle and so friendly; professing, and indeed truly, to aim at nothing more than the real good of Mr. Jones himself; that he, far from being offended, thankfully received the admonition of the good woman, expressed much concern for what had passed, excused it as well as he could, and promised never more to bring the same disturbances into the house.
But though Mrs. Miller did not refrain from a short expostulation in private at their first meeting; yet the occasion of his being summoned down stairs that morning was of a much more agreeable kind, being indeed to perform the office of a father to Miss Nancy, and to give her in wedlock to Mr. Nightingale, who was now ready dressed, and full as sober as many of my readers will think a man ought to be, who receives a wife in so imprudent a
And here, perhaps, it may be proper to account for the escape which this young gentleman had made from his uncle, and for his appearance in the condition in which we have seen him the night before.
Now, when the uncle had arrived at his lodgings with his nephew, partly to indulge his own inclinations (for he dearly loved his bottle), and partly to