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Amelia

IV.4
In Which Amelia Appears In No Unamiable Light
Amelia, with the assistance of a little girl, who was their only servant, had drest
her dinner, and she had likewise drest herself as neat as any lady who had a
regular sett of servants could have done, when Booth returned, and brought with
him his friend James, whom he had met with in the Park; and who, as Booth
absolutely refused to dine away from his wife, to whom he had promised to
return, had invited himself to dine with him. Amelia had none of that paultry pride
which possesses so many of her sex, and which disconcerts their tempers, and
gives them the air and looks of furies, if their husbands bring in an unexpected
guest, without giving them timely warning to provide a sacrifice to their own
vanity. Amelia received her husband's friend with the utmost complaisance and
good humour: she made indeed some apology for the homeliness of her dinner;
but it was politely turned as a compliment to Mr. James's friendship, which could
carry him where he was sure of being so ill entertained; and gave not the least
hint how magnificently she would have provided had she expected the favour of
so much good company. A phrase which is generally meant to contain not only
an apology for the lady of the house, but a tacit satire on her guests for their
intrusion, and is at least a strong insinuation that they are not welcome.
Amelia failed not to enquire very earnestly after her old friend Mrs. James,
formerly Miss Bath, and was very sorry to find that she was not in town. The truth
was, as James had married out of a violent liking of, or appetite to, her person,
possession had surfeited him, and he was now grown so heartily tired of his wife,
that she had very little of his company; she was forced therefore to content
herself with being the mistress of a large house and equipage in the country ten
months in the year by herself. The other two he indulged her with the diversions
of the town; but then, though they lodged under the same roof, she had little
more of her husband's society than if they had been one hundred miles apart.
With all this, as she was a woman of calm passions, she made herself contented;
for she had never had any violent affection for James: the match was of the
prudent kind, and to her advantage; for his fortune, by the death of an uncle, was
become very considerable; and she had gained everything by the bargain but a
husband, which her constitution suffered her to be very well satisfied without.
When Amelia, after dinner, retired to her children, James began to talk to his
friend concerning his affairs. He advised Booth very earnestly to think of getting
again into the army, in which he himself had met with such success, that he had
obtained the command of a regiment to which his brother-in-law was lieutenant-
colonel. These preferments they both owed to the favour of fortune only; for,
though there was no objection to either of their military characters, yet neither of
them had any extraordinary desert; and, if merit in the service was a sufficient
 
 
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