BOOK IV. CONTAINING THE TIME OF A YEAR.
3. Chapter iii. Wherein the history goes back...
The company, who were sitting in a room next the garden, were
instantly alarmed, and came all forth; but just as they reached the
canal, Tom (for the water was luckily pretty shallow in that part)
arrived safely on shore.
Thwackum fell violently on poor Tom, who stood dropping and shivering
before him, when Mr Allworthy desired him to have patience; and
turning to Master Blifil, said, "Pray, child, what is the reason of
all this disturbance?"
Master Blifil answered, "Indeed, uncle, I am very sorry for what I
have done; I have been unhappily the occasion of it all. I had Miss
Sophia's bird in my hand, and thinking the poor creature languished
for liberty, I own I could not forbear giving it what it desired; for
I always thought there was something very cruel in confining anything.
It seemed to be against the law of nature, by which everything hath a
right to liberty; nay, it is even unchristian, for it is not doing
what we would be done by; but if I had imagined Miss Sophia would have
been so much concerned at it, I am sure I never would have done it;
nay, if I had known what would have happened to the bird itself: for
when Master Jones, who climbed up that tree after it, fell into the
water, the bird took a second flight, and presently a nasty hawk
carried it away."
Poor Sophia, who now first heard of her little Tommy's fate (for her
concern for Jones had prevented her perceiving it when it happened),
shed a shower of tears. These Mr Allworthy endeavoured to assuage,
promising her a much finer bird: but she declared she would never have
another. Her father chid her for crying so for a foolish bird; but
could not help telling young Blifil, if he was a son of his, his
backside should be well flead.
Sophia now returned to her chamber, the two young gentlemen were sent
home, and the rest of the company returned to their bottle; where a
conversation ensued on the subject of the bird, so curious, that we
think it deserves a chapter by itself.