Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

7. Chapter vii. Containing a remark or two... (continued)

After Partridge, therefore, had enlarged greatly on the vast fortune to which Mr Jones was heir, he very freely communicated an apprehension, which he had begun to conceive the day before, and for which, as we hinted at that very time, the behaviour of Jones seemed to have furnished a sufficient foundation. In short, he was now pretty well confirmed in an opinion that his master was out of his wits, with which opinion he very bluntly acquainted the good company round the fire.

With this sentiment the puppet-show man immediately coincided. "I own," said he, "the gentleman surprized me very much, when he talked so absurdly about puppet-shows. It is indeed hardly to be conceived that any man in his senses should be so much mistaken; what you say now accounts very well for all his monstrous notions. Poor gentleman! I am heartily concerned for him; indeed he hath a strange wildness about his eyes, which I took notice of before, though I did not mention it."

The landlord agreed with this last assertion, and likewise claimed the sagacity of having observed it. "And certainly," added he, "it must be so; for no one but a madman would have thought of leaving so good a house to ramble about the country at that time of night."

The exciseman, pulling his pipe from his mouth, said, "He thought the gentleman looked and talked a little wildly;" and then turning to Partridge, "if he be a madman," says he, "he should not be suffered to travel thus about the country; for possibly he may do some mischief. It is a pity he was not secured and sent home to his relations."

Now some conceits of this kind were likewise lurking in the mind of Partridge; for, as he was now persuaded that Jones had run away from Mr Allworthy, he promised himself the highest rewards if he could by any means convey him back. But fear of Jones, of whose fierceness and strength he had seen, and indeed felt, some instances, had however represented any such scheme as impossible to be executed, and had discouraged him from applying himself to form any regular plan for the purpose. But no sooner did he hear the sentiments of the exciseman than he embraced that opportunity of declaring his own, and expressed a hearty wish that such a matter could be brought about.

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