فصل 19

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فصل 19

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  • زمان مطالعه 7 دقیقه
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CHAPTER NINETEEN

Tom Proposes Marriage

Sophia had another admirer, an English lord, who had met her more than once at Lady Bellaston’s. He had noticed her at the theatre, and was disappointed when she left early. Next morning he called to say he hoped she was not unwell. He stayed for two hours, and in that time he fell in love. Lady Bellaston was pleased to see her noble friend paying so much attention to Sophia. She took him to one side and said, ‘Lord Fellamar, are you in love with my young cousin from the country?’

‘I believe I am, madam,’ said Lord Fellamar. ‘Will you tell her father that I wish to marry her?’

‘I will indeed,’ answered the lady, ‘and I am sure he will agree. But there is one problem. You have a rival.’

Lord Fellamar looked disappointed.

‘But,’ added the lady, ‘though she loves this rival, he is a beggar and a bastard. I believe you can solve this problem, but not by gentle methods.’

‘What do you mean, my lady?’ asked Lord Fellamar.

‘If you are willing to be bold, my lord, you could be married to my cousin within a week,’ said Lady Bellaston.

Lady Bellaston and Lord Fellamar then made a plan.

At seven that evening, when Sophia was alone in her room, reading a tragic novel, the door suddenly opened and in came Lord Fellamar. Sophia dropped her book, and Lord Fellamar made a low bow.

‘Madam,’ he said, ‘as you have my heart, you cannot be surprised by a visit from its owner.’

‘Are you out of your senses, my lord?’ answered Sophia.

‘I am, madam,’ cried Lord Fellamar, taking her hand. ‘You are my angel, and you must be mine.’

Sophia pulled her hand away and tried to leave, but Lord Fellamar caught her in his arms and said, ‘I cannot live without you, so I must make you mine.’

‘I will scream,’ said Sophia, and she did, but Lady Bellaston had taken care to send the servants away.

Suddenly, an enormous noise filled the house, and help came to poor Sophia in a very unexpected way. ‘Where is she?’ cried the loud voice of Mr Western. ‘Where is my daughter? I know she’s in this house!’ And the door flew open to let in Sophia’s father and all his followers.

I shall never be able to describe the situation that followed, unless the reader’s imagination helps me. Sophia fell into a chair, pale, frightened and full of relief. Lord Fellamar sat down near her, amazed, frightened and ashamed. Mr Western’s clothes were rather untidy. He was, in plain English, drunk.

Lady Bellaston now entered the room.

After an unsteady bow, Mr Western said, ‘Sophy, here is your cousin. In front of her, won’t you tell me that you will marry one of the best young men in England?’

‘Sir,’ said Lord Fellamar, thinking Mr Western meant him. ‘I am the happy man who will marry your daughter.’

‘You are a son of the devil,’ shouted Western. ‘She will not marry you, in spite of your fine clothes. Come, madam!’

And Mr Western rushed his daughter into a carriage and ordered it to drive to his lodgings. When her maid, Honour, tried to come too, he refused, saying, ‘No more escapes, Sophy. I will get you a better maid.’

Luckily, Honour knew where to find Tom, and she went straight to his lodgings to tell him what had happened. She had no idea how Mr Western had found Sophia, or where he had taken her.

In fact, Harriet Fitzpatrick had written to her aunt, Mrs Western, to tell her that Sophia was in London, staying with Lady Bellaston. As soon as she received the letter, Mrs Western told her brother where to find his lost sheep. He immediately sent word to Mr Allworthy and Mr Blifil, told his servants to get the horses ready and set off for London, taking Mr Supple, the priest, with him.

Fortune seemed determined to be Tom’s enemy. He now had two rivals, and once again he had lost his dear Sophia.

Tom now tried to avoid Lady Bellaston, but letters from her were delivered every hour. When his friend Nightingale saw how worried Tom was, he wanted to help him.

‘Dear Tom,’ said Nightingale. ‘Are you troubled by the Queen of the Fairies? Oh, please don’t be angry with me for mentioning what the whole town knows. Are you in love with her?’

Tom sighed and said, ‘No, my friend, but I owe so much to her that I don’t know how to end our affair.’

‘You are not the first young man she has captured like this,’ said Nightingale, ‘so you needn’t worry about her reputation. But as you are a man of honour, let me tell you a way. Propose marriage to her.’

‘Marriage!’ cried Tom.

‘Yes, marriage,’ answered Nightingale. ‘She will refuse.’

Nightingale persuaded Tom that there was no danger that the lady would accept his proposal, so he wrote her a charming letter. He soon received a short answer.

Sir, I see your purpose. You wish me to put my whole fortune in your power. Do you imagine that I am a fool? If you come to my house again I shall not be at home.

‘Well,’ said Nightingale, ‘you now have your freedom!’

Tom could not thank him enough.

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