فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

A Sleepless Night for Sophia

The next morning Tom went hunting with Mr Western, and afterwards was invited to dinner.

The lovely Sophia was brighter than usual that day, and if she wanted Tom to notice her, she certainly succeeded.

Another dinner guest was Mr Supple, the priest from the village church. He was a good-natured man who was always silent at table, though his mouth was never shut. In other words, he had one of the best appetites in the world. After dinner, though, he loved to talk, and he had some news.

‘I believe, lady, you saw a young woman at church yesterday, wearing one of your own dresses. After you left, this dress caused a terrible battle. This morning the young woman in question was called to explain the matter to Mr Allworthy. When she appeared, everyone could see that she will soon give birth to a bastard. As she refused to name the father, she will be sent to prison.’

‘Is that your news?’ cried Western. ‘Nothing more important? Come, Tommy, drink up and pass the bottle.’

Tom made a polite excuse and quickly left the table.

‘Aha,’ said Western, after he had gone. ‘I see, I see! Tom is certainly the father of this bastard.’

‘I should be very sorry if that is true,’ said Supple.

‘Why sorry?’ cried Western. ‘Haven’t you been the father of any bastards yourself? You must have been lucky, then.’

‘I am sure you joke, Mr Western,’ replied the priest. ‘And I hope you are wrong about the young gentleman. He is a little wild, perhaps, but a good young man. I would not like to see him lose the good opinion of Mr Allworthy’

‘No, no,’ said Western. ‘He will lose nobody’s good opinion, and the women will like him better. Ask my daughter here. You have no worse opinion of a young man for giving a girl a bastard, have you, Sophy?’

It was a cruel question to ask poor Sophia. She had seen Tom’s colour change when he heard the news, and she thought her father’s suspicions were correct. Her heart at once told her the great secret it had been hiding. Shocked and confused, she excused herself and went to her room.

Tom hurried home, and found Molly was still there. He asked for a private conversation with Mr Allworthy, and said he was the guilty father. He begged Mr Allworthy to let Molly return to her family.

After hesitating for some time, Mr Allworthy agreed. He then spoke for a long time about right and wrong. Tom listened gratefully, and promised to improve.

Mr Allworthy was certainly angry with Tom, but he was also pleased with his honour and honesty, so Thwackum could not persuade him to punish the young man.

Square was more clever. He reminded Mr Allworthy of all the things Tom had done for the gamekeeper and his family.

‘Now we can see, sir, that these things were not done out of friendship, but to get Molly for his wicked ways.’

For the first time, the good Mr Allworthy began to have a bad impression of Tom.

That night, Sophia slept very little. She was already dressed when her maid, Mrs Honour, came to wake her.

‘Oh, madam,’ said Mrs Honour, ‘what do you think?’ And with these words she began to tell Sophia all the gossip from the village about Tom and Molly.

What passed through poor Sophia’s mind? The reader will remember that only yesterday the news of Molly had opened Sophia’s eyes to her heart’s love. Now she decided she felt nothing for Tom. But love is a disease, and the very next time she saw him all her former feelings returned. From that time her heart kept changing from hot to cold to hot again until Sophia was desperate for a cure.

She decided to avoid Tom, and made plans to visit her aunt, but Fortune stopped the plan with an accident.

Every day, Mr Western grew fonder of his daughter, almost more than his precious dogs. Since he could not bring himself to abandon the dogs, he managed cleverly to enjoy both dogs and daughter by taking Sophia hunting with him.

Sophia disliked the sport, which was too rough for her, but she always obeyed her father. She decided not to visit her aunt until the end of the hunting season.

The second time she went hunting her horse started to behave badly. Tom was nearby, and saw that she was in danger. He quickly rode up, jumped off his horse, and was in time to catch Sophia as her horse threw her and ran off.

‘Are you hurt, madam?’ he asked her. When she said she was unhurt he said, ‘Then heaven be praised. If I have broken my arm it is nothing, after the danger you were in.’

‘Broken your arm!’ screamed Sophia.

‘I am afraid I have, madam,’ said Tom. ‘But I still have a good arm to help you home.’

Mr Western then came back with the other riders and Sophia’s horse. Finding his daughter unhurt he was delighted, and everyone returned to the house, where a doctor was called to look at Tom’s arm.

This brave act of Tom’s made a deep impression on Sophia’s heart, and she no longer wanted to visit her aunt.

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