Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

2. Chapter ii. Containing letters and other matters... (continued)

Lady Bellaston now came from behind the curtain. How shall I describe her rage? Her tongue was at first incapable of utterance; but streams of fire darted from her eyes, and well indeed they might, for her heart was all in a flame. And now as soon as her voice found way, instead of expressing any indignation against Honour or her own servants, she began to attack poor Jones. "You see," said she, "what I have sacrificed to you; my reputation, my honour--gone for ever! And what return have I found? Neglected, slighted for a country girl, for an idiot."--"What neglect, madam, or what slight," cries Jones, "have I been guilty of?"--"Mr Jones," said she, "it is in vain to dissemble; if you will make me easy, you must entirely give her up; and as a proof of your intention, show me the letter."--"What letter, madam?" said Jones. "Nay, surely," said she, "you cannot have the confidence to deny your having received a letter by the hands of that trollop."--"And can your ladyship," cries he, "ask of me what I must part with my honour before I grant? Have I acted in such a manner by your ladyship? Could I be guilty of betraying this poor innocent girl to you, what security could you have that I should not act the same part by yourself? A moment's reflection will, I am sure, convince you that a man with whom the secrets of a lady are not safe must be the most contemptible of wretches."--"Very well," said she--"I need not insist on your becoming this contemptible wretch in your own opinion; for the inside of the letter could inform me of nothing more than I know already. I see the footing you are upon."--Here ensued a long conversation, which the reader, who is not too curious, will thank me for not inserting at length. It shall suffice, therefore, to inform him, that Lady Bellaston grew more and more pacified, and at length believed, or affected to believe, his protestations, that his meeting with Sophia that evening was merely accidental, and every other matter which the reader already knows, and which, as Jones set before her in the strongest light, it is plain that she had in reality no reason to be angry with him.

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