Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

5. Chapter v. Containing more adventures...

Containing more adventures which Mr Jones and his companion met on the road.

Our travellers now walked so fast, that they had very little time or breath for conversation; Jones meditating all the way on Sophia, and Partridge on the bank-bill, which, though it gave him some pleasure, caused him at the same time to repine at fortune, which, in all his walks, had never given him such an opportunity of showing his honesty. They had proceeded above three miles, when Partridge, being unable any longer to keep up with Jones, called to him, and begged him a little to slacken his pace: with this he was the more ready to comply, as he had for some time lost the footsteps of the horses, which the thaw had enabled him to trace for several miles, and he was now upon a wide common, where were several roads.

He here therefore stopt to consider which of these roads he should pursue; when on a sudden they heard the noise of a drum, that seemed at no great distance. This sound presently alarmed the fears of Partridge, and he cried out, "Lord have mercy upon us all; they are certainly a coming!" "Who is coming?" cries Jones; for fear had long since given place to softer ideas in his mind; and since his adventure with the lame man, he had been totally intent on pursuing Sophia, without entertaining one thought of an enemy. "Who?" cries Partridge, "why, the rebels: but why should I call them rebels? they may be very honest gentlemen, for anything I know to the contrary. The devil take him that affronts them, I say; I am sure, if they have nothing to say to me, I will have nothing to say to them, but in a civil way. For Heaven's sake, sir, don't affront them if they should come, and perhaps they may do us no harm; but would it not be the wiser way to creep into some of yonder bushes, till they are gone by? What can two unarmed men do perhaps against fifty thousand? Certainly nobody but a madman; I hope your honour is not offended; but certainly no man who hath mens sana in corpore sano----" Here Jones interrupted this torrent of eloquence, which fear had inspired, saying, "That by the drum he perceived they were near some town." He then made directly towards the place whence the noise proceeded, bidding Partridge "take courage, for that he would lead him into no danger;" and adding, "it was impossible the rebels should be so near."

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