Amelia by Henry Fielding - HTML preview
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.
Containing Very Mysterious Matter
Miss Matthews did not in the least fall short of Mr. Booth in expressions of tenderness. Her eyes, the most eloquent orators on such occasions, exerted their utmost force; and at the conclusion of his speech she cast a look as languishingly sweet as ever Cleopatra gave to Antony. In real fact, this Mr. Booth had been her first love, and had made those impressions on her young heart, which the learned in this branch of philosophy affirm, and perhaps truly, are never to be eradicated.
When Booth had finished his story a silence ensued of some minutes; an interval which the painter would describe much better than the writer. Some readers may, however, be able to make pretty pertinent conjectures by what I have said above, especially when they are told that Miss Matthews broke the silence by a sigh, and cried, "Why is Mr. Booth unwilling to allow me the happiness of thinking my misfortunes have been of some little advantage to him? sure the happy Amelia would not be so selfish to envy me that pleasure. No; not if she was as much the fondest as she is the happiest of women." "Good heavens! madam," said he, "do you call my poor Amelia the happiest of women?" "Indeed I do," answered she briskly. "O Mr. Booth! there is a speck of white in her fortune, which, when it falls to the lot of a sensible woman, makes her full amends for all the crosses which can attend her. Perhaps she may not be sensible of it; but if it had been my blest fate--O Mr. Booth! could I have thought, when we were first acquainted, that the most agreeable man in the world had been capable of making the kind, the tender, the affectionate husband--happy Amelia, in those days, was unknown; Heaven had not then given her a prospect of the happiness it intended her; but yet it did intend it her; for sure there is a fatality in the affairs of love; and the more I reflect on my own life, the more I am convinced of it.--O heavens! how a thousand little circumstances crowd into my mind! When you first marched into our town, you had then the colours in your hand; as you passed under the window where I stood, my glove, by accident, dropt into the street; you stoopt, took up my glove, and, putting it upon the spike belonging to your colours, lifted it up to the window. Upon this a young lady who stood by said, 'So, miss, the young officer hath accepted your challenge.' I blushed then, and I blush now, when I confess to you I thought you the prettiest young fellow I had ever seen; and, upon my soul, I believe you was then the prettiest fellow in the world." Booth here made a low bow, and cried, "O dear madam, how ignorant was I of my own happiness!" "Would you really have thought so?" answered she. "However, there is some politeness if there be no sincerity in what you say."--Here the governor of the enchanted castle interrupted them, and, entering the room without any ceremony, acquainted the lady and gentleman that it was locking-up time; and, addressing Booth by the name of captain, asked him if he would not please to have a bed; adding, that he might have one in the next room to the lady, but that it would come dear; for that he never let a bed in that room under a guinea, nor could he afford it cheaper to his father.
No answer was made to this proposal; but Miss Matthews, who had already learnt some of the ways of the house, said she believed Mr. Booth would like to drink a glass of something; upon which the governor immediately trumpeted forth the praises of his rack-punch, and, without waiting for any farther commands, presently produced a large bowl of that liquor.
The governor, having recommended the goodness of his punch by a hearty draught, began to revive the other matter, saying that he was just going to bed, and must first lock up.--"But suppose," said Miss Matthews, with a smile, "the captain and I should have a mind to sit up all night."--"With all my heart," said the governor; "but I expect a consideration for those matters. For my part, I don't enquire into what doth not concern me; but single and double are two things. If I lock up double I expect half a guinea, and I'm sure the captain cannot think that's out of the way; it is but the price of a bagnio."
Miss Matthews's face became the colour of scarlet at those words. However, she mustered up her spirits, and, turning to Booth, said, "What say you, captain? for my own part, I had never less inclination to sleep; which hath the greater charms for you, the punch or the pillow?"--"I hope, madam," answered Booth, "you have a better opinion of me than to doubt my preferring Miss Matthews's conversation to either."--"I assure you," replied she, "it is no compliment to you to say I prefer yours to sleep at this time."
The governor, then, having received his fee, departed; and, turning the key, left the gentleman and the lady to themselves.
In imitation of him we will lock up likewise a scene which we do not think proper to expose to the eyes of the public. If any over-curious readers should be disappointed on this occasion, we will recommend such readers to the apologies with which certain gay ladies have lately been pleased to oblige the world, where they will possibly find everything recorded that past at this interval.
But, though we decline painting the scene, it is not our intention to conceal from the world the frailty of Mr. Booth, or of his fair partner, who certainly past that evening in a manner inconsistent with the strict rules of virtue and chastity.
To say the truth, we are much more concerned for the behaviour of the gentleman than of the lady, not only for his sake, but for the sake of the best woman in the world, whom we should be sorry to consider as yoked to a man of no worth nor honour. We desire, therefore, the good- natured and candid reader will be pleased to weigh attentively the several unlucky circumstances which concurred so critically, that Fortune seemed to have used her utmost endeavours to ensnare poor Booth's constancy. Let the reader set before his eyes a fine young woman, in a manner, a first love, conferring obligations and using every art to soften, to allure, to win, and to enflame; let him consider the time and place; let him remember that Mr. Booth was a young fellow in the highest vigour of life; and, lastly, let him add one single circumstance, that the parties were alone together; and then, if he will not acquit the defendant, he must be convicted, for I have nothing more to say in his defence.