BOOK XI. CONTAINING ABOUT THREE DAYS.
8. Chapter viii. A dreadful alarm in the inn...
A dreadful alarm in the inn, with the arrival of an unexpected friend
of Mrs Fitzpatrick.
Sophia now, at the desire of her cousin, related--not what follows,
but what hath gone before in this history: for which reason the reader
will, I suppose, excuse me for not repeating it over again.
One remark, however, I cannot forbear making on her narrative, namely,
that she made no more mention of Jones, from the beginning to the end,
than if there had been no such person alive. This I will neither
endeavour to account for nor to excuse. Indeed, if this may be called
a kind of dishonesty, it seems the more inexcusable, from the apparent
openness and explicit sincerity of the other lady.--But so it was.
Just as Sophia arrived at the conclusion of her story, there arrived
in the room where the two ladies were sitting a noise, not unlike, in
loudness, to that of a pack of hounds just let out from their kennel;
nor, in shrillness, to cats, when caterwauling; or to screech owls;
or, indeed, more like (for what animal can resemble a human voice?) to
those sounds which, in the pleasant mansions of that gate which seems
to derive its name from a duplicity of tongues, issue from the mouths,
and sometimes from the nostrils, of those fair river nymphs, ycleped
of old the Naiades; in the vulgar tongue translated oyster-wenches;
for when, instead of the antient libations of milk and honey and oil,
the rich distillation from the juniper-berry, or, perhaps, from malt,
hath, by the early devotion of their votaries, been poured forth in
great abundance, should any daring tongue with unhallowed license
prophane, i.e., depreciate, the delicate fat Milton oyster, the
plaice sound and firm, the flounder as much alive as when in the
water, the shrimp as big as a prawn, the fine cod alive but a few
hours ago, or any other of the various treasures which those
water-deities who fish the sea and rivers have committed to the care
of the nymphs, the angry Naiades lift up their immortal voices, and
the prophane wretch is struck deaf for his impiety.