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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAmelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter VIII
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Amelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter VIII Post by :The_Renegade Category :Long Stories Author :Henry Fielding Date :January 2011 Read :2955

Click below to download : Amelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter VIII (Format : PDF)

Amelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter VIII

Chapter VIII - In which our readers will probably be divided
in their opinion of Mr. Booth's conduct.


Booth proceeded as follows:--

"The first months of our marriage produced nothing remarkable enough
to mention. I am sure I need not tell Miss Matthews that I found in my
Amelia every perfection of human nature. Mrs. Harris at first gave us
some little uneasiness. She had rather yielded to the doctor than
given a willing consent to the match; however, by degrees, she became
more and more satisfied, and at last seemed perfectly reconciled. This
we ascribed a good deal to the kind offices of Miss Betty, who had
always appeared to be my friend. She had been greatly assisting to
Amelia in making her escape, which I had no opportunity of mentioning
to you before, and in all things behaved so well, outwardly at least,
to myself as well as her sister, that we regarded her as our sincerest
friend.

"About half a year after our marriage two additional companies were
added to our regiment, in one of which I was preferred to the command
of a lieutenant. Upon this occasion Miss Betty gave the first
intimation of a disposition which we have since too severely
experienced."

"Your servant, sir," says Miss Matthews; "then I find I was not
mistaken in my opinion of the lady.--No, no, shew me any goodness in a
censorious prude, and--"

As Miss Matthews hesitated for a simile or an execration, Booth
proceeded: "You will please to remember, madam, there was formerly an
agreement between myself and Mrs. Harris that I should settle all my
Amelia's fortune on her, except a certain sum, which was to be laid
out in my advancement in the army; but, as our marriage was carried on
in the manner you have heard, no such agreement was ever executed. And
since I was become Amelia's husband not a word of this matter was ever
mentioned by the old lady; and as for myself, I declare I had not yet
awakened from that delicious dream of bliss in which the possession of
Amelia had lulled me."

Here Miss Matthews sighed, and cast the tenderest of looks on Booth,
who thus continued his story:--

"Soon after my promotion Mrs. Harris one morning took an occasion to
speak to me on this affair. She said, that, as I had been promoted
gratis to a lieutenancy, she would assist me with money to carry me
yet a step higher; and, if more was required than was formerly
mentioned, it should not be wanting, since she was so perfectly
satisfied with my behaviour to her daughter. Adding that she hoped I
had still the same inclination to settle on my wife the remainder of
her fortune.

"I answered with very warm acknowledgments of my mother's goodness,
and declared, if I had the world, I was ready to lay it at my Amelia's
feet.--And so, Heaven knows, I would ten thousand worlds.

"Mrs. Harris seemed pleased with the warmth of my sentiments, and said
she would immediately send to her lawyer and give him the necessary
orders; and thus ended our conversation on this subject.

"From this time there was a very visible alteration in Miss Betty's
behaviour. She grew reserved to her sister as well as to me. She was
fretful and captious on the slightest occasion; nay, she affected much
to talk on the ill consequences of an imprudent marriage, especially
before her mother; and if ever any little tenderness or endearments
escaped me in public towards Amelia, she never failed to make some
malicious remark on the short duration of violent passions; and, when
I have expressed a fond sentiment for my wife, her sister would kindly
wish she might hear as much seven years hence.

"All these matters have been since suggested to us by reflection; for,
while they actually past, both Amelia and myself had our thoughts too
happily engaged to take notice of what discovered itself in the mind
of any other person.

"Unfortunately for us, Mrs. Harris's lawyer happened at this time to
be at London, where business detained him upwards of a month, and, as
Mrs. Harris would on no occasion employ any other, our affair was
under an entire suspension till his return.

"Amelia, who was now big with child, had often expressed the deepest
concern at her apprehensions of my being some time commanded abroad; a
circumstance, which she declared if it should ever happen to her, even
though she should not then be in the same situation as at present,
would infallibly break her heart. These remonstrances were made with
such tenderness, and so much affected me, that, to avoid any
probability of such an event, I endeavoured to get an exchange into
the horse-guards, a body of troops which very rarely goes abroad,
unless where the king himself commands in person. I soon found an
officer for my purpose, the terms were agreed on, and Mrs. Harris had
ordered the money which I was to pay to be ready, notwithstanding the
opposition made by Miss Betty, who openly dissuaded her mother from
it; alledging that the exchange was highly to my disadvantage; that I
could never hope to rise in the army after it; not forgetting, at the
same time, some insinuations very prejudicial to my reputation as a
soldier.

"When everything was agreed on, and the two commissions were actually
made out, but not signed by the king, one day, at my return from
hunting, Amelia flew to me, and eagerly embracing me, cried out, 'O
Billy, I have news for you which delights my soul. Nothing sure was
ever so fortunate as the exchange you have made. The regiment you was
formerly in is ordered for Gibraltar.'

"I received this news with far less transport than it was delivered. I
answered coldly, since the case was so, I heartily hoped the
commissions might be both signed. 'What do you say?' replied Amelia
eagerly; 'sure you told me everything was entirely settled. That look
of yours frightens me to death.'--But I am running into too minute
particulars. In short, I received a letter by that very post from the
officer with whom I had exchanged, insisting that, though his majesty
had not signed the commissions, that still the bargain was valid,
partly urging it as a right, and partly desiring it as a favour, that
he might go to Gibraltar in my room.

"This letter convinced me in every point. I was now informed that the
commissions were not signed, and consequently that the exchange was
not compleated; of consequence the other could have no right to insist
on going; and, as for granting him such a favour, I too clearly saw I
must do it at the expense of my honour. I was now reduced to a
dilemma, the most dreadful which I think any man can experience; in
which, I am not ashamed to own, I found love was not so overmatched by
honour as he ought to have been. The thoughts of leaving Amelia in her
present condition to misery, perhaps to death or madness, were
insupportable; nor could any other consideration but that which now
tormented me on the other side have combated them a moment."

"No woman upon earth," cries Miss Matthews, "can despise want of
spirit in a man more than myself; and yet I cannot help thinking you
was rather too nice on this occasion."

"You will allow, madam," answered Booth, "that whoever offends against
the laws of honour in the least instance is treated as the highest
delinquent. Here is no excuse, no pardon; and he doth nothing who
leaves anything undone. But if the conflict was so terrible with
myself alone, what was my situation in the presence of Amelia? how
could I support her sighs, her tears, her agonies, her despair? could
I bear to think myself the cruel cause of her sufferings? for so I
was: could I endure the thought of having it in my power to give her
instant relief, for so it was, and refuse it her?

"Miss Betty was now again become my friend. She had scarce been civil
to me for a fortnight last past, yet now she commended me to the
skies, and as severely blamed her sister, whom she arraigned of the
most contemptible weakness in preferring my safety to my honour: she
said many ill-natured things on the occasion, which I shall not now
repeat.

"In the midst of this hurricane the good doctor came to dine with Mrs.
Harris, and at my desire delivered his opinion on the matter."

Here Mr. Booth was interrupted in his narrative by the arrival of a
person whom we shall introduce in the next chapter.

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NEXT BOOKS

Amelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter IX Amelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter IX

Amelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter IX
Chapter IX - Containing a scene of a different kind from any of the preceding.The gentleman who now arrived was the keeper; or, if you please (forso he pleased to call himself), the governor of the prison.He used so little ceremony at his approach, that the bolt, which wasvery slight on the inside, gave way, and the door immediately flewopen. He had no sooner entered the room than he acquainted MissMatthews that he had brought her very good news, for which he demandeda bottle of wine as his due.This demand being complied with, he acquainted Miss Matthews that thewounded gentleman was
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Amelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter VII Amelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter VII

Amelia - Volume I - BOOK II - Chapter VII
Chapter VII - The story of Booth continued.--More surprising adventures.From what trifles, dear Miss Matthews," cried Booth, "may some of ourgreatest distresses arise! Do you not perceive I am going to tell youwe had neither pen, ink, nor paper, in our present exigency?"A verbal message was now our only resource; however, we contrived todeliver it in such terms, that neither nurse nor her son couldpossibly conceive any suspicion from it of the present situation ofour affairs. Indeed, Amelia whispered me, I might safely place anydegree of confidence in the lad; for he had been her foster-brother,and she had a great opinion
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