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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAmelia - Volume II - BOOK VIII - Chapter IX
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Amelia - Volume II - BOOK VIII - Chapter IX Post by :websmar2 Category :Long Stories Author :Henry Fielding Date :January 2011 Read :2152

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Amelia - Volume II - BOOK VIII - Chapter IX

Chapter IX - A curious chapter, from which a curious reader
may draw sundry observations.


The serjeant retired from the colonel in a very dejected state of
mind: in which, however, we must leave him awhile and return to
Amelia; who, as soon as she was up, had despatched Mrs. Atkinson to
pay off her former lodgings, and to bring off all cloaths and other
moveables.

The trusty messenger returned without performing her errand, for Mrs.
Ellison had locked up all her rooms, and was gone out very early that
morning, and the servant knew not whither she was gone.

The two ladies now sat down to breakfast, together with Amelia's two
children; after which, Amelia declared she would take a coach and
visit her husband. To this motion Mrs. Atkinson soon agreed, and
offered to be her companion. To say truth, I think it was reasonable
enough; and the great abhorrence which Booth had of seeing his wife in
a bailiff's house was, perhaps, rather too nice and delicate.

When the ladies were both drest, and just going to send for their
vehicle, a great knocking was heard at the door, and presently Mrs.
James was ushered into the room.

This visit was disagreeable enough to Amelia, as it detained her from
the sight of her husband, for which she so eagerly longed. However, as
she had no doubt but that the visit would be reasonably short, she
resolved to receive the lady with all the complaisance in her power.

Mrs. James now behaved herself so very unlike the person that she
lately appeared, that it might have surprized any one who doth not
know that besides that of a fine lady, which is all mere art and
mummery, every such woman hath some real character at the bottom, in
which, whenever nature gets the better of her, she acts. Thus the
finest ladies in the world will sometimes love, and sometimes scratch,
according to their different natural dispositions, with great fury and
violence, though both of these are equally inconsistent with a fine
lady's artificial character.

Mrs. James then was at the bottom a very good-natured woman, and the
moment she heard of Amelia's misfortune was sincerely grieved at it.
She had acquiesced on the very first motion with the colonel's design
of inviting her to her house; and this morning at breakfast, when he
had acquainted her that Amelia made some difficulty in accepting the
offer, very readily undertook to go herself and persuade her friend to
accept the invitation.

She now pressed this matter with such earnestness, that Amelia, who
was not extremely versed in the art of denying, was hardly able to
refuse her importunity; nothing, indeed, but her affection to Mrs.
Atkinson could have prevailed on her to refuse; that point, however,
she would not give up, and Mrs. James, at last, was contented with a
promise that, as soon as their affairs were settled, Amelia, with her
husband and family, would make her a visit, and stay some time with
her in the country, whither she was soon to retire.

Having obtained this promise, Mrs. James, after many very friendly
professions, took her leave, and, stepping into her coach, reassumed
the fine lady, and drove away to join her company at an auction.

The moment she was gone Mrs. Atkinson, who had left the room upon the
approach of Mrs. James, returned into it, and was informed by Amelia
of all that had past.

"Pray, madam," said Mrs. Atkinson, "do this colonel and his lady live,
as it is called, well together?"

"If you mean to ask," cries Amelia, "whether they are a very fond
couple, I must answer that I believe they are not."

"I have been told," says Mrs. Atkinson, "that there have been
instances of women who have become bawds to their own husbands, and
the husbands pimps for them."

"Fie upon it!" cries Amelia. "I hope there are no such people. Indeed,
my dear, this is being a little too censorious."

"Call it what you please," answered Mrs. Atkinson; "it arises from my
love to you and my fears for your danger. You know the proverb of a
burnt child; and, if such a one hath any good-nature, it will dread
the fire on the account of others as well as on its own. And, if I may
speak my sentiments freely, I cannot think you will be in safety at
this colonel's house."

"I cannot but believe your apprehensions to be sincere," replied
Amelia; "and I must think myself obliged to you for them; but I am
convinced you are entirely in an error. I look on Colonel James as the
most generous and best of men. He was a friend, and an excellent
friend too, to my husband, long before I was acquainted with him, and
he hath done him a thousand good offices. What do you say of his
behaviour yesterday?"

"I wish," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "that this behaviour to-day had been
equal. What I am now going to undertake is the most disagreeable
office of friendship, but it is a necessary one. I must tell you,
therefore, what past this morning between the colonel and Mr.
Atkinson; for, though it will hurt you, you ought, on many accounts,
to know it." Here she related the whole, which we have recorded in the
preceding chapter, and with which the serjeant had acquainted her
while Mrs. James was paying her visit to Amelia. And, as the serjeant
had painted the matter rather in stronger colours than the colonel, so
Mrs. Atkinson again a little improved on the serjeant. Neither of
these good people, perhaps, intended to aggravate any circumstance;
but such is, I believe, the unavoidable consequence of all reports.
Mrs. Atkinson, indeed, may be supposed not to see what related to
James in the most favourable light, as the serjeant, with more honesty
than prudence, had suggested to his wife that the colonel had not the
kindest opinion of her, and had called her a sly and demure---: it is
true he omitted ill-looking b---; two words which are, perhaps,
superior to the patience of any Job in petticoats that ever lived. He
made amends, however, by substituting some other phrases in their
stead, not extremely agreeable to a female ear.

It appeared to Amelia, from Mrs. Atkinson's relation, that the colonel
had grossly abused Booth to the serjeant, and had absolutely refused
to become his bail. Poor Amelia became a pale and motionless statue at
this account. At length she cried, "If this be true, I and mine are
all, indeed, undone. We have no comfort, no hope, no friend left. I
cannot disbelieve you. I know you would not deceive me. Why should
you, indeed, deceive me? But what can have caused this alteration
since last night? Did I say or do anything to offend him?"

"You said and did rather, I believe, a great deal too much to please
him," answered Mrs. Atkinson. "Besides, he is not in the least
offended with you. On the contrary, he said many kind things."

"What can my poor love have done?" said Amelia. "He hath not seen the
colonel since last night. Some villain hath set him against my
husband; he was once before suspicious of such a person. Some cruel
monster hath belied his innocence!"

"Pardon me, dear madam," said Mrs. Atkinson; "I believe the person who
hath injured the captain with this friend of his is one of the
worthiest and best of creatures--nay, do not be surprized; the person
I mean is even your fair self: sure you would not be so dull in any
other case; but in this, gratitude, humility, modesty, every virtue,
shuts your eyes.

_Mortales hebetant visus,_

as Virgil says. What in the world can be more consistent than his
desire to have you at his own house and to keep your husband confined
in another? All that he said and all that he did yesterday, and, what
is more convincing to me than both, all that he looked last night, are
very consistent with both these designs."

"O Heavens!" cries Amelia, "you chill my blood with horror! the idea
freezes me to death; I cannot, must not, will not think it. Nothing
but conviction! Heaven forbid I should ever have more conviction! And
did he abuse my husband? what? did he abuse a poor, unhappy, distrest
creature, opprest, ruined, torn from his children, torn away from his
wretched wife; the honestest, worthiest, noblest, tenderest, fondest,
best--" Here she burst into an agony of grief, which exceeds the power
of description.

In this situation Mrs. Atkinson was doing her utmost to support her
when a most violent knocking was heard at the door, and immediately
the serjeant ran hastily into the room, bringing with him a cordial
which presently relieved Amelia. What this cordial was, we shall
inform the reader in due time. In the mean while he must suspend his
curiosity; and the gentlemen at White's may lay wagers whether it was
Ward's pill or Dr James's powder.

But before we close this chapter, and return back to the bailiff's
house, we must do our best to rescue the character of our heroine from
the dulness of apprehension, which several of our quick-sighted
readers may lay more heavily to her charge than was done by her friend
Mrs. Atkinson.

I must inform, therefore, all such readers, that it is not because
innocence is more blind than guilt that the former often overlooks and
tumbles into the pit which the latter foresees and avoids. The truth
is, that it is almost impossible guilt should miss the discovering of
all the snares in its way, as it is constantly prying closely into
every corner in order to lay snares for others. Whereas innocence,
having no such purpose, walks fearlessly and carelessly through life,
and is consequently liable to tread on the gins which cunning hath
laid to entrap it. To speak plainly and without allegory or figure, it
is not want of sense, but want of suspicion, by which innocence is
often betrayed. Again, we often admire at the folly of the dupe, when
we should transfer our whole surprize to the astonishing guilt of the
betrayer. In a word, many an innocent person hath owed his ruin to
this circumstance alone, that the degree of villany was such as must
have exceeded the faith of every man who was not himself a villain.

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Chapter X - In which are many profound secrets of philosophy.Booth, having had enough of the author's company the preceding day,chose now another companion. Indeed the author was not very solicitousof a second interview; for, as he could have no hope from Booth'spocket, so he was not likely to receive much increase to his vanityfrom Booth's conversation; for, low as this wretch was in virtue,sense, learning, birth, and fortune, he was by no means low in hisvanity. This passion, indeed, was so high in him, and at the same timeso blinded him to his own demerits, that he hated every man
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Chapter VIII - Consisting of grave matters.While innocence and chearful hope, in spite of the malice of fortune,closed the eyes of the gentle Amelia on her homely bed, and sheenjoyed a sweet and profound sleep, the colonel lay restless all nighton his down; his mind was affected with a kind of ague fit; sometimesscorched up with flaming desires, and again chilled with the coldestdespair.There is a time, I think, according to one of our poets, _when lustand envy sleep_. This, I suppose, is when they are well gorged withthe food they most delight in; but, while either of these are hungry,
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