Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

6. Chapter vi. What arrived...

What arrived while the company were at breakfast, with some hints concerning the government of daughters.

Our company brought together in the morning the same good inclinations towards each other, with which they had separated the evening before; but poor Jones was extremely disconsolate; for he had just received information from Partridge, that Mrs Fitzpatrick had left her lodging, and that he could not learn whither she was gone. This news highly afflicted him, and his countenance, as well as his behaviour, in defiance of all his endeavours to the contrary, betrayed manifest indications of a disordered mind.

The discourse turned at present, as before, on love; and Mr Nightingale again expressed many of those warm, generous, and disinterested sentiments upon this subject, which wise and sober men call romantic, but which wise and sober women generally regard in a better light. Mrs Miller (for so the mistress of the house was called) greatly approved these sentiments; but when the young gentleman appealed to Miss Nancy, she answered only, "That she believed the gentleman who had spoke the least was capable of feeling most."

This compliment was so apparently directed to Jones, that we should have been sorry had he passed it by unregarded. He made her indeed a very polite answer, and concluded with an oblique hint, that her own silence subjected her to a suspicion of the same kind: for indeed she had scarce opened her lips either now or the last evening.

"I am glad, Nanny," says Mrs Miller, "the gentleman hath made the observation; I protest I am almost of his opinion. What can be the matter with you, child? I never saw such an alteration. What is become of all your gaiety? Would you think, sir, I used to call her my little prattler? She hath not spoke twenty words this week."

Here their conversation was interrupted by the entrance of a maid-servant, who brought a bundle in her hand, which, she said, "was delivered by a porter for Mr Jones." She added, "That the man immediately went away, saying, it required no answer."

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