Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

7. Chapter vii. In which Mr Western pays a visit...

In which Mr Western pays a visit to his sister, in company with Mr Blifil.

Mrs Western was reading a lecture on prudence, and matrimonial politics, to her niece, when her brother and Blifil broke in with less ceremony than the laws of visiting require. Sophia no sooner saw Blifil than she turned pale, and almost lost the use of all her faculties; but her aunt, on the contrary, waxed red, and, having all her faculties at command, began to exert her tongue on the squire.

"Brother," said she, "I am astonished at your behaviour; will you never learn any regard to decorum? Will you still look upon every apartment as your own, or as belonging to one of your country tenants? Do you think yourself at liberty to invade the privacies of women of condition, without the least decency or notice?"----"Why, what a pox is the matter now?" quoth the squire; "one would think I had caught you at--"--"None of your brutality, sir, I beseech you," answered she.----"You have surprized my poor niece so, that she can hardly, I see, support herself.----Go, my dear, retire, and endeavour to recruit your spirits; for I see you have occasion." At which words Sophia, who never received a more welcome command, hastily withdrew.

"To be sure, sister," cries the squire, "you are mad, when I have brought Mr Blifil here to court her, to force her away."

"Sure, brother," says she, "you are worse than mad, when you know in what situation affairs are, to----I am sure I ask Mr Blifil's pardon, but he knows very well to whom to impute so disagreeable a reception. For my own part, I am sure I shall always be very glad to see Mr Blifil; but his own good sense would not have suffered him to proceed so abruptly, had you not compelled him to it."

Blifil bowed and stammered, and looked like a fool; but Western, without giving him time to form a speech for the purpose, answered, "Well, well, I am to blame, if you will, I always am, certainly; but come, let the girl be fetched back again, or let Mr Blifil go to her.----He's come up on purpose, and there is no time to be lost."

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