Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones, a foundling

8. Chapter viii. In which fortune seems...

In which fortune seems to have been in a better humour with Jones than we have hitherto seen her.

As there is no wholesomer, so perhaps there are few stronger, sleeping potions than fatigue. Of this Jones might be said to have taken a very large dose, and it operated very forcibly upon him. He had already slept nine hours, and might perhaps have slept longer, had he not been awakened by a most violent noise at his chamber-door, where the sound of many heavy blows was accompanied with many exclamations of murder. Jones presently leapt from his bed, where he found the master of the puppet-show belabouring the back and ribs of his poor Merry-Andrew, without either mercy or moderation.

Jones instantly interposed on behalf of the suffering party, and pinned the insulting conqueror up to the wall: for the puppet-show man was no more able to contend with Jones than the poor party-coloured jester had been to contend with this puppet-man.

But though the Merry-Andrew was a little fellow, and not very strong, he had nevertheless some choler about him. He therefore no sooner found himself delivered from the enemy, than he began to attack him with the only weapon at which he was his equal. From this he first discharged a volley of general abusive words, and thence proceeded to some particular accusations--"D--n your bl--d, you rascal," says he, "I have not only supported you (for to me you owe all the money you get), but I have saved you from the gallows. Did you not want to rob the lady of her fine riding-habit, no longer ago than yesterday, in the back-lane here? Can you deny that you wished to have her alone in a wood to strip her--to strip one of the prettiest ladies that ever was seen in the world? and here you have fallen upon me, and have almost murdered me, for doing no harm to a girl as willing as myself, only because she likes me better than you."

Jones no sooner heard this than he quitted the master, laying on him at the same time the most violent injunctions of forbearance from any further insult on the Merry-Andrew; and then taking the poor wretch with him into his own apartment, he soon learned tidings of his Sophia, whom the fellow, as he was attending his master with his drum the day before, had seen pass by. He easily prevailed with the lad to show him the exact place, and then having summoned Partridge, he departed with the utmost expedition.

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