Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 18, Chapter 7

By Henry Fielding

Book 18, Chapter 7

Continuation of That History

  • Mrs. Waters asks Squire Allworthy to hold off on all scolding until he has heard her story.
  • She reminds Squire Allworthy that he once paid for the schooling of a young man named Mr. Summer.
  • This young man was the son of a friend of Squire Allworthy's.
  • He died of small pox after a year in Squire Allworthy's household.
  • Squire Allworthy remembers him well: he was very handsome and good-natured.
  • Mrs. Waters confirms that Mr. Summer was Tom's father.
  • But Mrs. Waters is not Tom's mother.
  • Technically, the only thing she confessed at her maternity trial was that she was the one who put baby Tom into Squire Allworthy's bed.
  • Tom's real mother is, in fact, Bridget Allworthy!
  • The day that Squire Allworthy began his trip to London (in Book 1, Chapter 3), Bridget came to see Jenny's mother.
  • (For the purposes of this flashback, we're going to go back to calling her Jenny Jones, since it seems ridiculous to call Mrs. Waters by her married name before she's even met Captain Waters.)
  • Bridget has heard of Jenny's intelligence and learning.
  • She swears Jenny to secrecy, and then tells her that she is pregnant.
  • The only people in on this secret are Jenny's mom, Jenny, and (of course) Bridget herself.
  • They arrange for Mrs. Wilkins to be away during the birth, since Mrs. Wilkins can't keep a secret to save her life.
  • After Bridget has her baby (with Jenny and her mom helping out), Jenny's mom takes the infant back to her house.
  • She looks after baby Tom until the night Squire Allworthy returns from London.
  • That's when Jenny smuggles Tom into the squire's bed.
  • So all of Bridget's anti-Tom feeling early in the book is just a mask.
  • She wants to prevent Squire Allworthy from suspecting that Bridget is, in fact, Tom's mom.
  • (End flashback. Back to her adult name of Mrs. Waters.)
  • Mrs. Waters tells Squire Allworthy that Tom is actually his nephew by blood, and that Squire Allworthy should treat him that way.
  • Squire Allworthy can't believe Bridget died without saying anything.
  • Mrs. Waters promises that she meant to tell him.
  • But since Squire Allworthy loved Tom so much without knowing his blood relationship, it didn't seem urgent that he know Tom's true parents.
  • Mrs. Waters has only just learned of all of Tom's disasters here in London.
  • While she was staying with Mr. Fitzpatrick after his duel, a lawyer came to see her, thinking that Mrs. Waters was actually Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
  • This lawyer promised that, if Mr. Fitzpatrick died, he would help her prosecute the murderer.
  • In other words, he offered her a bribe if she went to trial against Tom.
  • Squire Allworthy asks Mrs. Waters to wait a moment; he thinks Mr. Dowling is coming now.
  • But it's not Mr. Dowling who arrives.