Book VI - Chapter VIII
The meeting between Jones and Sophia.
Jones departed instantly in quest of Sophia, whom he found just risen from the ground, where her father had left her, with the tears trickling from her eyes, and the blood running from her lips. He presently ran to her, and with a voice full at once of tenderness and terrour, cried, "O my Sophia, what means this dreadful sight?" She looked softly at him for a moment before she spoke, and then said, "Mr Jones, for Heaven's sake how came you here?--Leave me, I beseech you, this moment."--"Do not," says he, "impose so harsh a command upon me--my heart bleeds faster than those lips. O Sophia, how easily could I drain my veins to preserve one drop of that dear blood."--"I have too many obligations to you already," answered she, "for sure you meant them such." Here she looked at him tenderly almost a minute, and then bursting into an agony, cried, "Oh, Mr Jones, why did you save my life? my death would have been happier for us both."--"Happier for us both!" cried he. "Could racks or wheels kill me so painfully as Sophia's--I cannot bear the dreadful sound. Do I live but for her?" Both his voice and looks were full of inexpressible tenderness when he spoke these words; and at the same time he laid gently hold on her hand, which she did not withdraw from him; to say the truth, she hardly knew what she did or suffered. A few moments now passed in silence between these lovers, while his eyes were eagerly fixed on Sophia, and hers declining towards the ground: at last she recovered strength enough to desire him again to leave her, for that her certain ruin would be the consequence of their being found together; adding, "Oh, Mr Jones, you know not, you know not what hath passed this cruel afternoon."--"I know all, my Sophia," answered he; "your cruel father hath told me all, and he himself hath sent me hither to you."--"My father sent you to me!" replied she: "sure you dream."--"Would to Heaven," cries he, "it was but a dream! Oh, Sophia, your father hath sent me to you, to be an advocate for my odious rival, to solicit you in his favour. I took any means to get access to you. O speak to me, Sophia! comfort my bleeding heart. Sure no one ever loved, ever doated like me. Do not unkindly withhold this dear, this soft, this gentle hand--one moment, perhaps, tears you for ever from me--nothing less than this cruel occasion could, I believe, have ever conquered the respect and awe with which you have inspired me." She stood a moment silent, and covered with confusion; then lifting up her eyes gently towards him, she cried, "What would Mr Jones have me say?"--"O do but promise," cries he, "that you never will give yourself to Blifil."--"Name not," answered she, "the detested sound. Be assured I never will give him what is in my power to withhold from him."--"Now then," cries he, "while you are so perfectly kind, go a little farther, and add that I may hope."--"Alas!" says she, "Mr Jones, whither will you drive me? What hope have I to bestow? You know my father's intentions."--"But I know," answered he, "your compliance with them cannot be compelled."--"What," says she, "must be the dreadful consequence of my disobedience? My own ruin is my least concern. I cannot bear the thoughts of being the cause of my father's misery."--"He is himself the cause," cries Jones, "by exacting a power over you which Nature hath not given him. Think on the misery which I am to suffer if I am to lose you, and see on which side pity will turn the balance."--"Think of it!" replied she: "can you imagine I do not feel the ruin which I must bring on you, should I comply with your desire? It is that thought which gives me resolution to bid you fly from me for ever, and avoid your own destruction."--"I fear no destruction," cries he, "but the loss of Sophia. If you would save me from the most bitter agonies, recall that cruel sentence. Indeed, I can never part with you, indeed I cannot."
The lovers now stood both silent and trembling, Sophia being unable to withdraw her hand from Jones, and he almost as unable to hold it; when the scene, which I believe some of my readers will think had lasted long enough, was interrupted by one of so different a nature, that we shall reserve the relation of it for a different chapter.Next