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Chapter 38

They set out in company, breakfast at Abbeville, dine at Amiens and, about eleven o’clock, arrive at Chantilly where Peregrine executes a Plan which he had concerted upon Hornbeck.

The whole company by agreement rose and departed before day, and breakfasted at Abbeville, where they became acquainted with the finesse of their Bernay landlord, who had imposed upon them, in affirming that they would not have been admitted after the gates were shut. From thence they proceeded to Amiens, where they dined, and were pestered by begging friars; and the roads being deep, it was eleven o’clock at night before they reached Chantilly, where they found supper already dressed, in consequence of having despatched the valet-de-chambre before them on horseback.

The constitution of Hornbeck being very much impaired by a life of irregularity, he found himself so fatigued with his day’s journey, which amounted to upwards of a hundred miles, that when he sat down at table, he could scarce sit upright; and in less than three minutes began to nod in his chair. Peregrine, who had foreseen and provided for this occasion, advised him to exhilarate his spirits with a glass of wine; and the proposal being embraced, tipped his valet-de-chambre the wink, who, according to the instructions he had received, qualified the Burgundy with thirty drops of laudanum, which this unfortunate husband swallowed in one glass. The dose, cooperating with his former drowsiness, lulled him so fast to sleep, as it were instantaneously, that it was found necessary to convey him to his own chamber, where his footman undressed and put him to bed: nor was Jolter (naturally of a sluggish disposition) able to resist his propensity to sleep, without suffering divers dreadful yawns, which encouraged his pupil to administer the same dose to him, which had operated so successfully upon the other Argus. This cordial had not such gentle effect upon the rugged organs of Jolter as upon the more delicate nerves of Hornbeck; but discovered itself in certain involuntary startings, and convulsive motions in the muscles of his face; and when his nature at length yielded to the power of this medicine, he sounded the trumpet so loud through his nostrils, that our adventurer was afraid the noise would wake his other patient, and consequently the accomplishment of his aim. The governor was therefore committed to the care of Pipes, who lugged him into the next room, and having stripped off his clothes, tumbled him into his nest, while the two lovers remained at full liberty to indulge their mutual passion.

Peregrine, in the impatience of his inclination, would have finished the fate of Hornbeck immediately; but his inamorata disapproved of his intention, and represented that their being together by themselves for any length of time would be observed by her servant, who was kept as a spy upon her actions; so that they had recourse to another scheme which was executed in this manner. He conducted her into her own apartment in presence of her footman, who lighted them thither, and wishing her good rest, returned to his own chamber, where he waited till everything was quiet in the house; then stealing softly to her door, which had been left open for his admission in the dark, he found the husband still secure in the embraces of sleep, and the lady in a loose gown, ready to seal his happiness. He conveyed her to his own chamber; but his guilty passion was not gratified.

The opium which had been given to Jolter, together with the wine he had drunk, produced such a perturbation in his fancy, that he was visited with horrible dreams; and, among other miserable situations, imagined himself in danger of perishing in the flames, which he thought had taken hold on his apartment. This vision made such an impression upon his faculties, that he alarmed the whole house with repeated cries of “Fire! fire!” and even leaped out of his bed, though he still continued fast asleep. The lovers were very disagreeably disturbed by this dreadful exclamation; and Mrs. Hornbeck, running in great confusion to the door, had the mortification to see the footman, with a light in his hand, enter her husband’s chamber, in order to give him notice of this accident. She knew that she would be instantly missed, and could easily divine t............

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