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Chapter 68

He attends his Uncle with great Affection during a Fit of Illness — Sets out again for London — Meets with his Friend Godfrey, who is prevailed upon to accompany him to Bath; on the Road to which Place they chance to Dine with a Person who entertains them with a curious Account of a certain Company of Adventurers.

Thus determined, he took leave of Emilia and her mother, on pretence of going to London upon some urgent business, and returned to the garrison, leaving the good old lady very much concerned, and the daughter incensed at his behaviour, which was the more unexpected, because Godfrey had told them that the commodore approved of his nephew’s passion.

Our adventurer found his uncle so ill of the gout, which, for the first time, had taken possession of his stomach, that his life was in imminent danger, and the whole family in disorder. He therefore took the reins of government in his own hands, sent for all the physicians in the neighbourhood, and attended him in person with the most affectionate care, during the whole fit, which lasted a fortnight, and then retired before the strength of his constitution.

When the old gentleman recovered his health, he was so penetrated with Peregrine’s behaviour, that he actually would have made over to him his whole fortune, and depended upon him for his own subsistence, had not our youth opposed the execution of the deed with all his influence and might, and even persuaded him to make a will, in which his friend Hatchway, and all his other adherents, were liberally remembered, and his aunt provided for on her own terms. This material point being settled, he, with his uncle’s permission, departed for London, after having seen the family affairs established under the direction and administration of Mr. Jolter and the lieutenant; for, by this time, Mrs. Trunnion was wholly occupied with her spiritual concern.

On his first arrival at London, he sent a card to the lodgings of Gauntlet, in consequence of a direction from his mother; and that young gentleman waited on him next morning, though not with that alacrity of countenance and warmth of friendship which might have been expected from the intimacy of their former connection. Nor was Peregrine himself actuated by the same unreserved affection for the soldier which he had formerly entertained. Godfrey, over and above the offence he had taken at Pickle’s omission in point of corresponding with him, had been informed, by a letter from his mother, of the youth’s cavalier behaviour to Emilia, during his last residence at Winchester; and our young gentleman, as we have already observed, was disgusted at the supposed discovery which the soldier had made in his absence to the commodore. They, perceived their mutual umbrage at meeting, and received each other with that civility of reserve which commonly happens between two persons whose friendship is in the wane.

Gauntlet at once divined the cause of the other’s displeasure, and, in order to vindicate his own character, after the first compliments were passed, took the opportunity, on inquiring after the health of the commodore, to tell Peregrine, that, while he tarried at the garrison, on his return from Dover, the subject of the conversation, one night, happening to turn on our hero’s passion, the old gentleman had expressed his concern about that affair; and, among other observations, said, he supposed the object of his love was some paltry hussy, whom he had picked up when he was a boy at school. Upon which, Mr. Hatchway assured him, that she was a young woman of as good a family as any in the county; and, after having prepossessed him in her favour, ventured, out of the zeal of his friendship, to tell who she was. Wherefore, the discovery was not to be imputed to any other cause; and he hoped Mr. Pickle would acquit him of ail share in the transaction.

Peregrine was very well pleased to be thus undeceived; his countenance immediately cleared up, the formality of his behaviour relaxed into his usual familiarity; he asked pardon for his unmannerly neglect of Godfrey’s letter, which he protested, was not owing to any disregard, or abatement of friendship, but to a hurry of youthful engagements, in consequence of which he bad procrastinated his answer from time to time, until he was ready to return in person.

The young soldier was contented with this apology and, as Pickle’s intention, with respect to his sister, was still dubious and undeclared, he did not think it was incumbent upon him, as yet, to express any resentment on that score; but was wise enough to foresee, that the renewal of his intimacy with our young gentleman might be the means of reviving that flame which had been dissipated by a variety of new ideas. With those sentiments, he laid aside all reserve, and their communication resumed its former channel. Peregrine made him acquainted with all the adventures in which he had been engaged since their parting; and he, with the same confidence, related the remarkable incidents of his own fate; among other things, giving him to understand, that, upon obtaining a commission in the army, the father of his dear Sophy, without once inquiring about the occasion of his promotion, had not only favoured ............

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