Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 15, Chapter 9

By Henry Fielding

Book 15, Chapter 9

Containing Love-Letters of Several Sorts

  • When Tom gets home, he finds three letters waiting for him from Lady Bellaston:
  • Letter #1: Should she see Tom again or shouldn't she? She wants to hear his explanations of "this affair" (15.9.2). Come at once!
  • Letter #2: If he doesn't come right now, she is never going to forgive him.
  • Letter #3: Apparently, he was not at home when she sent her previous notes. So the second that he gets this current note, she commands him to come and see her.
  • Mr. Nightingale comes in and asks if Lady Bellaston has anything to say after the disaster last night?
  • It turns out that Mr. Nightingale has known all along that Tom's been sleeping with Lady Bellaston.
  • And Tom is not the first young guy she's seduced, either.
  • Tom decides he can speak freely to Mr. Nightingale about this affair.
  • He says that he loves another woman, but that he owes Lady Bellaston a lot.
  • After all, it's thanks to her that he hasn't starved in London.
  • Mr. Nightingale has an idea: Tom should propose marriage to Lady Bellaston.
  • The minute he proposes, she'll drop him like a hot coal.
  • Apparently, she's done this before, with a young man who really meant it when he proposed.
  • So Tom writes a note to Lady Bellaston asking her to marry him.
  • She writes back asking how he can reward her favors with something so awful as an offer of marriage?
  • Does he believe that he can persuadeher to give up her fortune to him like that?
  • Tom answers (with Mr. Nightingale's advice): How can you (Lady Bellaston) think that I (Tom) would treat your honor so lightly?
  • If that's what you think of me (Tom writes) then we must part.
  • Lady Bellaston writes to Tom that he is a villain.
  • Tom is glad to be free of Lady Bellaston, but he feels a bit of guilt over his dishonesty.
  • They go down to dinner with Mrs. Miller.
  • As dinner ends, Mrs. Miller receives a letter.