Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

8. Chapter viii. Containing scenes of altercation...

Containing scenes of altercation, of no very uncommon kind.

Mrs Honour had scarce sooner parted from her young lady, than something (for I would not, like the old woman in Quevedo, injure the devil by any false accusation, and possibly he might have no hand in it)--but something, I say, suggested itself to her, that by sacrificing Sophia and all her secrets to Mr Western, she might probably make her fortune. Many considerations urged this discovery. The fair prospect of a handsome reward for so great and acceptable a service to the squire, tempted her avarice; and again, the danger of the enterprize she had undertaken; the uncertainty of its success; night, cold, robbers, ravishers, all alarmed her fears. So forcibly did all these operate upon her, that she was almost determined to go directly to the squire, and to lay open the whole affair. She was, however, too upright a judge to decree on one side, before she had heard the other. And here, first, a journey to London appeared very strongly in support of Sophia. She eagerly longed to see a place in which she fancied charms short only of those which a raptured saint imagines in heaven. In the next place, as she knew Sophia to have much more generosity than her master, so her fidelity promised her a greater reward than she could gain by treachery. She then cross-examined all the articles which had raised her fears on the other side, and found, on fairly sifting the matter, that there was very little in them. And now both scales being reduced to a pretty even balance, her love to her mistress being thrown into the scale of her integrity, made that rather preponderate, when a circumstance struck upon her imagination which might have had a dangerous effect, had its whole weight been fairly put into the other scale. This was the length of time which must intervene before Sophia would be able to fulfil her promises; for though she was intitled to her mother's fortune at the death of her father, and to the sum of L3000 left her by an uncle when she came of age; yet these were distant days, and many accidents might prevent the intended generosity of the young lady; whereas the rewards she might expect from Mr Western were immediate. But while she was pursuing this thought the good genius of Sophia, or that which presided over the integrity of Mrs Honour, or perhaps mere chance, sent an accident in her way, which at once preserved her fidelity, and even facilitated the intended business.

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