Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

10. Chapter x. A chapter which, though short...

A chapter which, though short, may draw tears from some eyes.

Mr Jones was just dressed to wait on Lady Bellaston, when Mrs Miller rapped at his door; and, being admitted, very earnestly desired his company below-stairs, to drink tea in the parlour.

Upon his entrance into the room, she presently introduced a person to him, saying, "This, sir, is my cousin, who hath been so greatly beholden to your goodness, for which he begs to return you his sincerest thanks."

The man had scarce entered upon that speech which Mrs Miller had so kindly prefaced, when both Jones and he, looking stedfastly at each other, showed at once the utmost tokens of surprize. The voice of the latter began instantly to faulter; and, instead of finishing his speech, he sunk down into a chair, crying, "It is so, I am convinced it is so!"

"Bless me! what's the meaning of this?" cries Mrs Miller; "you are not ill, I hope, cousin? Some water, a dram this instant."

"Be not frighted, madam," cries Jones, "I have almost as much need of a dram as your cousin. We are equally surprized at this unexpected meeting. Your cousin is an acquaintance of mine, Mrs Miller."

"An acquaintance!" cries the man.--"Oh, heaven!"

"Ay, an acquaintance," repeated Jones, "and an honoured acquaintance too. When I do not love and honour the man who dares venture everything to preserve his wife and children from instant destruction, may I have a friend capable of disowning me in adversity!"

"Oh, you are an excellent young man," cries Mrs Miller:--"Yes, indeed, poor creature! he hath ventured everything.--If he had not had one of the best of constitutions, it must have killed him."

"Cousin," cries the man, who had now pretty well recovered himself, "this is the angel from heaven whom I meant. This is he to whom, before I saw you, I owed the preservation of my Peggy. He it was to whose generosity every comfort, every support which I have procured for her, was owing. He is, indeed, the worthiest, bravest, noblest; of all human beings. O cousin, I have obligations to this gentleman of such a nature!"

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