Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Inspiring Novel > The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle > Chapter 57
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
Chapter 57

Pallet endeavouring to unravel the Mystery of the Treatment he had received, falls out of the Frying-pan into the Fire.

Nevertheless, Pallet was still confounded and chagrined by one consideration, which was no other than that of his having been so roughly handled in the chamber, belonging, as he found upon inquiry, to the handsome young lady who was under the Capuchin’s direction. He recollected that the door was fast locked when his beast burst it open, and he had no reason to believe that any person followed him in his inruption: on the other hand, he could not imagine that such a gentle creature would either attempt to commit, or be able to execute, such a desperate assault as that which his body had sustained; and her demeanour was so modest and circumspect, that he durst not harbour the least suspicion of her virtue. These reflections bewildered him in the labyrinth of thought: he rummaged his whole imagination, endeavouring to account for what had happened. At length, he concluded, that either Peregrine, or the devil, or both must have been at the bottom of the whole affair, and determined, for the satisfaction of his curiosity, to watch our hero’s motions, during the remaining part of the night, so narrowly, that his conduct, mysterious as it was, should not be able to elude his penetration.

With these sentiments he retired to his own room, after the ass had been restored to the right owners, and the priest had visited and comforted his fair ward, who had been almost distracted with fear. Silence no sooner prevailed again, than he crawled darkling towards her door, and huddled himself up in an obscure corner, from whence he might observe the ingress or egress of any human creature. He had not long remained in this posture, when, fatigued with this adventure and that of the preceding night, his faculties were gradually overpowered with slumber; and, falling fast asleep, he began to snore like a whole congregation of Presbyterians. The Flemish beauty, hearing this discordant noise in the passage, began to be afraid of some new alarm, and very prudently bolted her door; so that when her lover wanted to repeat his visit he was not only surprised and incensed at this disagreeable serenade, the author of which he did not know; but when compelled by his passion, which was by this time wound to the highest pitch, he ventured to approach the entrance, he had the extreme mortification to find himself shut out. He durst not knock or signify his presence in any other manner, on account of the lady’s reputation, which would have greatly suffered had the snorer been waked by his endeavours. Had he known that the person who thus thwarted his views was the painter, he would have taken some effectual step to remove him; but he could not conceive what should induce Pallet to take up his residence in that corner; nor could he use the assistance of a light, to distinguish him, because there was not a candle burning in the house.

It is impossible to describe the rage and vexation of our hero, while he continued thus tantalized upon the brink of bliss, after his desire had been exasperated by the circumstances of his former disappointments. He ejaculated a thousand execrations against his own fortune, cursed all his fellow-travellers without exception, vowed revenge against the painter, who had twice confounded his most interesting scheme, and was tempted to execute immediate vengeance upon the unknown cause of his present miscarriage. In this agony of distraction did he sweat two whole hours in the passage, though not without some faint hope of being delivered from his tormentor, who, he imagined, upon waking, would undoubtedly shift his quarters, and leave the field free to his designs; but when he heard the cock repeat his salutation to the morn, which began to open on the rear of night, he could no longer restrain his indignation. Going to his own chamber, he filled a basin with cold water, and, standing at some distance, discharged it full in the face of the gaping snorer, who, over and above the surprise occasioned by the application, was almost suffocated by the liquor that entered his mouth, and ran down into his windpipe. While he gasped like a person half-drowned, without knowing the nature of his disaster, or remembering the situation in which he fell asleep, Peregrine retired to his own door, and, to his no small astonishment, from a long howl that invaded his ears, learned that the patient was no other than Pallet, who had now, for the third time, balked his good fortune.

Enraged at the complicated trespasses of this unfortunate offender, he rushed from his apartment with a horsewhip, and, encountering the painter in his flight, overturned him in the passage. There he exercised the instrument of his wrath with great severity on pretence of mistaking him for some presumptuous cur, which had disturbed the repose of the inn: nay, when he called aloud for mercy in a supplicating tone, and his chastiser could no longer pretend to treat him as a quadruped, such was the virulence of the young gentleman’s indignation, that he could not help declaring his satisfaction, by telling Pallet he had richly deserved the punishment he had undergone, for his madness, folly, and impertinence, in contriving and executing such idle schemes, as had no other tendency than that of plaguing his neighbours.

Pallet protested, with great vehemence, that he was innocent as the child unborn of an intention to give umbrage to any person whatever, except the Israelite and his doxy, who he knew had incurred his displeasure. “But as God is my Saviour,” said he, “I believe I am persecuted with witchcraft, and begin to think that d — d priest is an agent of the devil; for he has been but two nights in our company, during which I have not closed an eye; but, on the contrary, have been tormented by all the fiends of hell.” Pickle peevishly replied, that his torments had been occasioned by his own foolish imagination; and asked how he came to howl in that corner. The painter, who did not think proper to own the truth, said, that he had been transported thither by some preternatural conveyance, and soused in water by an invisible hand. The youth, in hope of profiting by his absence, advised him to retire immediately to his bed, and by sleep strive to comfort his brain, which seemed to be not a little disordered by the want of that refreshment. Pallet himself began to be very much of the same way of thinking; and, in compliance with such wholesome counsel, betook himself to rest, muttering prayers all the way for the recovery of his own understanding.

Pickle attended him to his chamber, and, locking him up, put the key in his own pocket, that he might not have it in his power to interrupt him again; but in his return he was met by Mr. Jolter and the doctor, who had been a second time alarmed by the painter’s cries, and came to inquire about this new adventure. Half-frantic with such a series of disappointments, he cursed them in his heart for their unseasonable appearance. When they questioned him about Pallet, he told them he had found him stark staring mad, howling in a corner, and wet to the skin, and conducted him to his room, where he was now abed. The physician, hearing this circumstance, made a merit of his vanity; and, under pretence of concern for the patient’s welfare, desired he might have an opportunity of examining the symptoms of his disorder, without loss of time; alleging that many diseases might have been stifled in the birth, which afterwards baffled all the endeavours of the medical art. The young gentleman accordingly delivered the key, and once more withdrew into his own chamber, with a view of seizing the first occasion that should present itself of renewing his application to his Amanda’s door; while the doctor, in his way to Pellet’s apartment, hinted to the governor his suspicion that the patient laboured under that dreadful symptom called the hydrophobia, which he observed had sometimes appeared in persons who were not previously bit by a mad dog. This conjecture he founded upon the howl he uttered when he was soused with water, and began to recollect certain circumstances of the painter’s behaviour for some days past, which now he could plainly perceive had prognosticated some such calamity. He then ascribed the distemper to the violent frights he had lately undergone, affirming that the affair of the Bastille had made such a violent encroachment upon his understanding, that his manner of thinking and speaking was entirely altered. By a theory of his own invention, he explained the effects of fear upon a loose system of nerves, and demonstrated the modus in which the animal spirits operate upon the ideas and power of imagination.

This disquisition, which was communicated at the painter’s door, might have lasted till breakfast, had not Jolter reminded him of his own maxim, Venienti occurrite morbo; upon which he put the key to immediate use, and they walked softly towards the bed, where the patient lay extended at full length in the arms of sleep. The physician took notice of his breathing hard, and his mouth being open; and from these diagnostics declared, that the liquidum nervosum was intimately affected, and the saliva impregnated with the spiculated particles of the virus, howsoever contracted. This sentence was still farther confirmed by the state of his pulse, which, being full and slow, indicated an oppressed circulation, from a loss of elasticity in the propelling arteries. He proposed that he should immediately suffer a second aspersion of water, which would not only contribute to the cure, but also certify them, beyond all possibility of doubt, with regard to the state of the disease; for it would evidently appear, from the manner in which he would bear the application, whether or not his horror of water amounted to a confirmed hydrophobia. Mr. Jolter, in compliance with his proposal, began to empty a bottle of water, which he found in the room in a basin; when he was interrupted by the prescriber, who advised him to use the contents of the chamberpot, which, being impregnated with salt, would operate more effectually than pure element. Thus directed, the governor lifted up the vessel, which was replete with medicine, and with one turn of his hand, discharged the whole healing inundation upon the ill-omened patient, who, waking in the utmost distraction of horror, yelled most hideously, just at the time when Peregrine had brought his mistress to a parley, and entertained hopes of being admitted into her chamber.

Terrified at this exclamation, she instantly broke off the treaty, beseeching him to retire from the door, that her honour might receive no injury from his being found in that place; and he had just enough of recollection left to see the necessity of obeying the order; in conformity to which he retreated well nigh deprived of his senses, and almost persuaded that so many unaccountable disappointments must have proceeded from some supernatural cause, of which the idiot Pallet was no more than the involuntary instrument.

Meanwhile, the doctor having ascertained the malady of th............

Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved