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Chapter 52

An Adventure happens to Pipes, in consequence of which he is dismissed from Peregrine’s Service — The whole Company set out for Ghent, in the Diligence — Our Hero is captivated by a Lady in that Carriage — Interests her spiritual Director in his behalf.

The doctor being fairly engaged on the subject of the ancients, would have proceeded the Lord knows how far, without hesitation, had not he been interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Jolter, who, in great confusion, told them that Pipes, having affronted a soldier, was then surrounded in the street, and certainly would be put to death if some person of authority did not immediately interpose in his behalf.

Peregrine no sooner learned the danger of his trusty squire, than, snatching up his sword, he ran down-stairs, and was followed by the chevalier, entreating him to leave the affair to his management. Within ten yards of the door they found Tom, with his back to a wall, defending himself with a mopstick against the assault of three or four soldiers, who, at sight of the Maltese cross, desisted from the attack, and were taken into custody by order of the knight. One of the aggressors, being an Irishman, begged to be heard with great importunity before he should be sent to the guard; and, by the mediation of Pickle, was accordingly brought into the hotel with his companions, all three bearing upon their heads and faces evident marks of their adversary’s prowess and dexterity. The spokesman, being confronted with Pipes, informed the company that, having by accident met with Mr. Pipes, whom he considered as his countryman, though fortune had disposed of them in different services, he invited him to drink a glass of wine, and accordingly carried him to a cabaret, where he introduced him to his comrades; but in the course of the conversation, which turned upon the power and greatness of the kings of France and England, Mr. Pipes had been pleased to treat his most Christian Majesty with great disrespect; and when he, the entertainer, expostulated with him in a friendly manner about his impolite behaviour, observing, that he, being in the French service, would be under the necessity of resenting his abuse if he did not put a stop to it before the other gentlemen of the cloth should comprehend his meaning; he had set them all three at defiance, dishonoured him in particular with the opprobrious epithet of rebel to his native king and country, and even drunk, in broken French, to the perdition of Louis and all his adherents; that, compelled by this outrageous conduct, he, as the person who had recommended him to their society, had, in vindication of his own character, demanded of the delinquent, who, on pretence of fetching a sword, had gone to his lodging, from whence he all of a sudden sallied upon them with the mopstick, which he employed in the annoyance of them all without distinction, so that they were obliged to draw in their own defence.

Pipes, being questioned by his master with regard to the truth of this account, owned that every circumstance was justly represented; saying, he did not value their cheese-toasters a pinch of oakum; and that if the gentleman had not shot in betwixt them, he would have trimmed them to such a tune, that they should not have had a whole yard to square. Peregrine reprimanded him sharply for his unmannerly behaviour, and insisted upon his asking pardon of those he had injured upon the spot: but no consideration was efficacious enough to produce such concession; to this command he was both deaf and dumb; and the repeated threats of his master had no more effect than if they had been addressed to a marble statue. At length, our hero, incensed at his obstinacy, started up, and would have chastised him with manual operation, had not he been prevented by the chevalier, who found means to moderate his indignation so far that he contented himself with dismissing the offender from his service; and after having obtained the discharge of the prisoners, gave them a louis to drink, by way of recompense for the disgrace and damage they had sustained.

The knight, perceiving our young gentleman very much ruffled at this accident, and reflecting upon the extraordinary deportment and appearance of his valet, whose hair had by this time adopted a grizzled hue, imagined he was some favourite domestic, who had grown gray in the service of his master’s family, and that, of consequence, he was uneasy at the sacrifice he had made. Swayed by this conjecture, he earnestly solicited in his behalf; but all he could obtain, was a promise of re-admitting him into favour on the terms already proposed, or at least on condition that he should make his acknowledgment to the chevalier, for his want of reverence and respect for the French monarch.

Upon this condescension the culprit was called up-stairs, and made acquainted with the mitigation of his fate; upon which he said, he would down on his marrow-bones to his own master, but would be d — d before he would ask pardon of e’er a Frenchman in Christendom. Pickle, exasperated at this blunt declaration, ordered him out of his presence, and charged him never to appear before his face again; while the officer in vain employed all his influence and address to appease his resentment, and about midnight took his leave with marks of mortification at his want of success.

Next day the company agreed to travel through Flanders in the diligence, by the advice of Peregrine, who was not without hope of meeting with some adventure or amusement in that carriage; and Jolter took care to secure places for them all; it being resolved that the valet-de-chambre and the doctor’s man should attend the vehicle on horseback; and as for the forlorn Pipes, he was left to reap the fruits of his own stubborn disposition, notwithstanding the united efforts of the whole triumvirate, who endeavoured to procure his pardon.

Every previous measure being thus taken, they set out from Lisle about six in the morning, and found themselves in the company of a female adventurer, a very handsome young lady, a Capuchin, and a Rotterdam Jew. Our young gentleman, being the first of this society that entered, surveyed the stranger with an attentive eye, and seated himself immediately behind the beautiful unknown, who at once attracted his attention. Pallet, seeing another lady unengaged, in imitation of his friend, took possession of her neighbourhood; the physician paired with the priest, and Jolter sat down by the Jew.

The machine had not proceeded many furlongs, when Pickle, accosting the fair incognita, congratulated himself upon his happiness, in being the fellow-traveller of so charming a lady. She, without the least reserve or affectation, thanked him for his com............

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