BOOK XVIII. CONTAINING ABOUT SIX DAYS.
13. Chapter the last. In which the history is concluded.
There have not, I believe, been many instances of a number of people
met together, where every one was so perfectly happy as in this
company. Amongst whom the father of young Nightingale enjoyed the
least perfect content; for, notwithstanding his affection for his son,
notwithstanding the authority and the arguments of Allworthy, together
with the other motive mentioned before, he could not so entirely be
satisfied with his son's choice; and, perhaps, the presence of Sophia
herself tended a little to aggravate and heighten his concern, as a
thought now and then suggested itself that his son might have had that
lady, or some other such. Not that any of the charms which adorned
either the person or mind of Sophia created the uneasiness; it was the
contents of her father's coffers which set his heart a longing. These
were the charms which he could not bear to think his son had
sacrificed to the daughter of Mrs Miller.
The brides were both very pretty women; but so totally were they
eclipsed by the beauty of Sophia, that, had they not been two of the
best-tempered girls in the world, it would have raised some envy in
their breasts; for neither of their husbands could long keep his eyes
from Sophia, who sat at the table like a queen receiving homage, or,
rather, like a superior being receiving adoration from all around her.
But it was an adoration which they gave, not which she exacted; for
she was as much distinguished by her modesty and affability as by all
her other perfections.
The evening was spent in much true mirth. All were happy, but those
the most who had been most unhappy before. Their former sufferings and
fears gave such a relish to their felicity as even love and fortune,
in their fullest flow, could not have given without the advantage of
such a comparison. Yet, as great joy, especially after a sudden change
and revolution of circumstances, is apt to be silent, and dwells
rather in the heart than on the tongue, Jones and Sophia appeared the
least merry of the whole company; which Western observed with great
impatience, often crying out to them, "Why dost not talk, boy? Why
dost look so grave? Hast lost thy tongue, girl? Drink another glass of
wine; sha't drink another glass." And, the more to enliven her, he
would sometimes sing a merry song, which bore some relation to
matrimony and the loss of a maidenhead. Nay, he would have proceeded
so far on that topic as to have driven her out of the room, if Mr
Allworthy had not checkt him, sometimes by looks, and once or twice by
a "Fie! Mr Western!" He began, indeed, once to debate the matter, and
assert his right to talk to his own daughter as he thought fit; but,
as nobody seconded him, he was soon reduced to order.