BOOK VI. CONTAINING ABOUT THREE WEEKS.
3. Chapter iii. Containing two defiances to the critics.
Containing two defiances to the critics.
The squire having settled matters with his sister, as we have seen in
the last chapter, was so greatly impatient to communicate the proposal
to Allworthy, that Mrs Western had the utmost difficulty to prevent
him from visiting that gentleman in his sickness, for this purpose.
Mr Allworthy had been engaged to dine with Mr Western at the time when
he was taken ill. He was therefore no sooner discharged out of the
custody of physic, but he thought (as was usual with him on all
occasions, both the highest and the lowest) of fulfilling his
In the interval between the time of the dialogue in the last chapter,
and this day of public entertainment, Sophia had, from certain obscure
hints thrown out by her aunt, collected some apprehension that the
sagacious lady suspected her passion for Jones. She now resolved to
take this opportunity of wiping out all such suspicion, and for that
purpose to put an entire constraint on her behaviour.
First, she endeavoured to conceal a throbbing melancholy heart with
the utmost sprightliness in her countenance, and the highest gaiety in
her manner. Secondly, she addressed her whole discourse to Mr Blifil,
and took not the least notice of poor Jones the whole day.
The squire was so delighted with this conduct of his daughter, that he
scarce eat any dinner, and spent almost his whole time in watching
opportunities of conveying signs of his approbation by winks and nods
to his sister; who was not at first altogether so pleased with what
she saw as was her brother.
In short, Sophia so greatly overacted her part, that her aunt was at
first staggered, and began to suspect some affectation in her niece;
but as she was herself a woman of great art, so she soon attributed
this to extreme art in Sophia. She remembered the many hints she had
given her niece concerning her being in love, and imagined the young
lady had taken this way to rally her out of her opinion, by an
overacted civility: a notion that was greatly corroborated by the
excessive gaiety with which the whole was accompanied. We cannot here
avoid remarking, that this conjecture would have been better founded
had Sophia lived ten years in the air of Grosvenor Square, where young
ladies do learn a wonderful knack of rallying and playing with that
passion, which is a mighty serious thing in woods and groves an
hundred miles distant from London.