Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

3. Chapter iii. A project of Mrs Fitzpatrick... (continued)

Mrs Fitzpatrick made many apologies for an early, abrupt visit, at an hour when, she said, "she should not have thought of disturbing her ladyship, but upon business of the utmost consequence." She then opened the whole affair, told all she had heard from Betty; and did not forget the visit which Jones had paid to herself the preceding evening.

Lady Bellaston answered with a smile, "Then you have seen this terrible man, madam; pray, is he so very fine a figure as he is represented? for Etoff entertained me last night almost two hours with him. The wench I believe is in love with him by reputation." Here the reader will be apt to wonder; but the truth is, that Mrs Etoff, who had the honour to pin and unpin the Lady Bellaston, had received compleat information concerning the said Mr Jones, and had faithfully conveyed the same to her lady last night (or rather that morning) while she was undressing; on which accounts she had been detained in her office above the space of an hour and a half.

The lady indeed, though generally well enough pleased with the narratives of Mrs Etoff at those seasons, gave an extraordinary attention to her account of Jones; for Honour had described him as a very handsome fellow, and Mrs Etoff, in her hurry, added so much to the beauty of his person to her report, that Lady Bellaston began to conceive him to be a kind of miracle in nature.

The curiosity which her woman had inspired was now greatly increased by Mrs Fitzpatrick, who spoke as much in favour of the person of Jones as she had before spoken in dispraise of his birth, character, and fortune.

When Lady Bellaston had heard the whole, she answered gravely, "Indeed, madam, this is a matter of great consequence. Nothing can certainly be more commendable than the part you act; and I shall be very glad to have my share in the preservation of a young lady of so much merit, and for whom I have so much esteem."

"Doth not your ladyship think," says Mrs Fitzpatrick eagerly, "that it would be the best way to write immediately to my uncle, and acquaint him where my cousin is?"

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