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Chapter 48

Pallet conceives a hearty Contempt for his Fellow-traveller, and attaches himself to Pickle, who, nevertheless, persecutes him with his mischievous Talent upon the Road to Flanders.

In the mean time, his companion, having employed divers pailfuls of water in cleansing himself from the squalor of jail, submitted his face to the barber, tinged his eye-brows with a sable hue, and, being dressed in his own clothes, ventured to visit Peregrine, who was still under the hands of his valet-de-chambre, and who gave him to understand that his escape had been connived at, and that the condition of their deliverance was their departure from Paris in three days.

The painter was transported with joy, when he learned that he ran no risk of being retaken, and, far from repining at the terms of his enlargement, would have willingly set out on his return to England that same afternoon; for the Bastille had made such an impression upon him, that he started at the sound of every coach, and turned pale at the sight of a French soldier. In the fulness of his heart, he complained of the doctor’s indifference, and related what had passed at their meeting with evident marks of resentment and disrespect; which were not at all diminished, when Jolter informed him of the physician’s behaviour when he sent for him, to confer about the means of abridging their confinement. Pickle himself was incensed at his want of bowels; and, perceiving how much he had sank in the opinion of his fellow-traveller, resolved to encourage these sentiments of disgust, and occasionally foment the division to a downright quarrel, which he foresaw would produce some diversion, and perhaps expose the poet’s character in such a light, as would effectually punish him for his arrogance and barbarity. With this view, he leveled several satirical jokes at the doctor’s pedantry and want of taste, which had appeared so conspicuous in the quotation he had got by heart, from ancient authors; in his affected disdain of the best pictures of the world, which, had he been endowed with the least share of discernment, he could not have beheld with such insensibility; and, lastly, in his ridiculous banquet, which none but an egregious coxcomb, devoid of all elegance and sense, would have prepared, or presented to rational beings. In a word, our young gentleman played the artillery of his wit against him with such success, that the painter seemed to wake from a dream, and went home with the most hearty contempt for the person he had formerly adored.

Instead of using the privilege of a friend, to enter his apartment without ceremony, he sent in his servant with a message, importing, that he intended to set out from Paris the next day, in company with Mr. Pickle; and desiring to know whether or not he was, or would be, prepared for the journey. The doctor, struck with the manner as well as the matter of this intimation, went immediately to Pallet’s room and demanded to know the cause of such a sudden determination without his privity or concurrence; and when he understood the necessity of their affairs, rather than travel by himself, he ordered his baggage to be packed up, and signified his readiness to conform to the emergency of the case; though he was not at all pleased with the cavalier behaviour of Pallet, to whom he threw out some hints on his own importance, and the immensity of his condescension in favouring him with such marks of regard. But by this time these insinuations had lost their effect upon the painter who told him, with an arch sneer, that he did not at all question his learning and abilities, and particularly his skill in cookery, which he should never forget while his palate retained its function; but nevertheless advised him, for the sake of the degenerate eaters of these days, to spare a little of his sal ammoniac in the next sillykicaby he should prepare; and abate somewhat of the devil’s dung, which he had so plentifully crammed into the roasted fowls, unless he had a mind to convert his guests into patients, with a view of licking himself whole for the expense of the entertainment.

The physician, nettled at these sarcasms, eyed him with a look of indignation and disdain; and, being, unwilling to express himself in English, lest, in the course of the altercation, Pallet should be so much irritated as to depart without him, he vented his anger in Greek. The painter, though by the sound he supposed this quotation to be Greek, complimented his friend upon his knowledge in the Welsh language, and found means to rally him quite out of temper; so that he retired to his own chamber in the utmost wrath and mortification, and left his antagonist exulting over the victory he had won.

While these things passed between these originals, Peregrine waited upon the ambassador, whom he thanked for his kind interposition, acknowledging the indiscretion of his own conduct with such appearance of conviction and promises of reformation, that his excellency freely forgave him for all the trouble he had been put to on his account, fortified him with sensible advices and, assuring him of his continual favour and friendship, gave him at parting, letters of introduction to several persons of quality belonging to the British court.

Thus distinguished, our young gentleman took leave of all his French acquaintance, and spent the evening with some of those who had enjoyed the greatest share of his intimacy and confidence; while Jolter superintended his domestic concerns, and with infinite joy bespoke a post-chaise and horse, in order to convey him from a place where he lived in continual apprehension of suffering by the dangerous disposition of his pupil. Everything being adjusted according to their plan, they and their fellow-travellers next day dined together, and about four in the afternoon took their departure in two chaises, escorted by the valet-de-chambre, Pipes, and the doctor’s lacquey on horseback, well furnished with arms and ammunition, in case of being attacked by robbers on the road.

It was about eleven o’clock at night when they arrived at Senlis, which was the place at which they proposed to lodge, and where they were obliged to knock up the people of the inn, before they could have their supper prepared. All the provision in the house was but barely sufficient to furnish one indifferent meal: however, the painter consoled himself for the quantity with the quality of the dishes, one of which was a fricassee of rabbit, a preparation that he valued above all the dainties that ever smoked upon the table of the sumptuous Heliogabalus.

He had no sooner expressed himself to this effect, than our hero, who almost incessantly laying traps for diversion at his neighbour’s expense, laid hold on the declaration; and, recollecting the story of Scipio and the muleteer in Gil Blas, resolved to perpetrate a joke upon the stomach of Pallet, which seemed well disposed to a hearty supper. He, accordingly, digested his plan; and the company being seated at table, affected to stare with peculiar eagerness at the painter, who had helped himself to a large portion of the fricassee, and began to swallow it with infinite relish. Pallet, notwithstanding the keenness of his appetite, could not help taking notice of Pickle’s demeanour; and, making a short ............

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