BOOK XV. IN WHICH THE HISTORY ADVANCES ABOUT TWO DAYS.
7. Chapter vii. In which various misfortunes befel poor Jones.
Whether Jones gave strict attention to all the foregoing harangue, or
whether it was for want of any vacancy in the discourse, I cannot
determine; but he never once attempted to answer, nor did she once
stop till Partridge came running into the room, and informed him that
the great lady was upon the stairs.
Nothing could equal the dilemma to which Jones was now reduced. Honour
knew nothing of any acquaintance that subsisted between him and Lady
Bellaston, and she was almost the last person in the world to whom he
would have communicated it. In this hurry and distress, he took (as is
common enough) the worst course, and, instead of exposing her to the
lady, which would have been of little consequence, he chose to expose
the lady to her; he therefore resolved to hide Honour, whom he had but
just time to convey behind the bed, and to draw the curtains.
The hurry in which Jones had been all day engaged on account of his
poor landlady and her family, the terrors occasioned by Mrs Honour,
and the confusion into which he was thrown by the sudden arrival of
Lady Bellaston, had altogether driven former thoughts out of his head;
so that it never once occurred to his memory to act the part of a sick
man; which, indeed, neither the gaiety of his dress, nor the freshness
of his countenance, would have at all supported.
He received her ladyship therefore rather agreeably to her desires
than to her expectations, with all the good humour he could muster in
his countenance, and without any real or affected appearance of the
Lady Bellaston no sooner entered the room, than she squatted herself
down on the bed: "So, my dear Jones," said she, "you find nothing can
detain me long from you. Perhaps I ought to be angry with you, that I
have neither seen nor heard from you all day; for I perceive your
distemper would have suffered you to come abroad: nay, I suppose you
have not sat in your chamber all day drest up like a fine lady to see
company after a lying-in; but, however, don't think I intend to scold
you; for I never will give you an excuse for the cold behaviour of a
husband, by putting on the ill-humour of a wife."