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Chapter 100

These Associates commit an Assault upon Crabtree, for which they are banished from the Fleet — Peregrine begins to feel the effects of Confinement.

Our adventurer having dined at an ordinary, and in the afternoon retired to his own apartment, as usual, with his friend Cadwallader, Hatchway and his associate, after they had been obliged to discuss the provision for which they had paid, renewed their conference upon the old subject. Pipes giving his messmate to understand, that Peregrine’s chief confidant was the old deaf bachelor, whom he had seen at his lodging the preceding day, Mr. Hatchway, in his great penetration, discovered, that the young gentleman’s obstinacy proceeded from the advice of the misanthrope, whom, for that reason, it was their business to chastise. Pipes entered into this opinion the more willingly, as he had all along believed the senior to be a sort of wizard, or some cacodaemon, whom it was not very creditable to be acquainted with. Indeed, he had been inspired with this notion by the insinuations of Hadgi, who had formerly dropped some hints touching Crabtree’s profound knowledge in the magic art; mentioning, in particular, his being possessed of the philosopher’s stone; an assertion to which Tom had given implicit credit, until his master was sent to prison for debt, when he could no longer suppose Cadwallader lord of such a valuable secret, or else he would have certainly procured the enlargement of his most intimate friend.

With these sentiments, he espoused the resentment of Hatchway. They determined to seize the supposed conjurer, with the first opportunity, on his return from his visit to Peregrine, and, without hesitation, exercise upon him the discipline of the pump. This plan they would have executed that same evening, had not the misanthrope luckily withdrawn himself, by accident, before it was dark, and even before they had intelligence of his retreat. But, next day, they kept themselves upon the watch till he appeared, and Pipes lifting his hat, as Crabtree passed, “O d — ye, old Dunny,” said he, “you and I must grapple by and by; and a’gad I shall lie so near your quarter, that your ear-ports will let in the sound, thof they are double caulked with oakum.”

The misanthrope’s ears were not quite so fast closed, but that they received this intimation; which, though delivered in terms that he did not well understand, had such an effect upon his apprehension, that he signified his doubts to Peregrine, observing, that he did not much like the looks of that same ruffian with the wooden leg. Pickle assured him, he had nothing to fear from the two sailors, who could have no cause of resentment against him; or, if they had, would not venture to take any step, which they knew must block up all the avenues to that reconcilement, about which they were so anxious; and, moreover, give such offence to the governor of the place as would infallibly induce him to expel them both from his territories.

Notwithstanding this assurance, the young gentleman was not so confident of the lieutenant’s discretion, as to believe that Crabtree’s fears were altogether without foundation; he forthwith conjectured that Jack had taken umbrage at an intimacy from which he found himself excluded, and imputed his disgrace to the insinuations of Cadwallader, whom, in all likelihood, he intended to punish for his supposed advice. He knew his friend could sustain no great damage from the lieutenant’s resentment, in a place which he could immediately alarm with his cries, and therefore wished he might fall into the snare, because it would furnish him with a pretence of complaint; in consequence of which, the sailors would be obliged to shift their quarters, so as that he should be rid of their company, in which he at present could find no enjoyment.

Everything happened as he had foreseen; the misanthrope, in his retreat from Peregrine’s chamber, was assaulted by Hatchway and his associate, who seized him by the collar without ceremony, and began to drag him towards the pump, at which they would have certainly complimented him with a very disagreeable bath, had not he exalted his voice in such a manner, as in a moment brought a number of the inhabitants, and Pickle himself, to his aid. The assailants would have persisted in their design, had the opposition been such as they could have faced with any possibility of success; nor did they quit their prey, before a dozen, at least, had come to his rescue, and Peregrine with a menacing aspect and air of authority, commanded his old valet to withdraw. Then they thought proper to sheer off, and betake themselves to close quarters, while our hero accompanied the affrighted Cadwallader to the gate, and exhibited to the warden a formal complaint against the rioters, upon whom he retorted the charge of lunacy, which was supported by the evidence of twenty persons, who had been eye-witnesses of the outrage committed against the old gentleman. The governor, in consequence of this information, sent a message to Mr. Hatchway, warning him to move his lodging next day, on pain of being expelled. The lieutenant contumaciously refusing to comply with this intimation, was in the morning, while he amused himself in walking upon the Bare, suddenly surrounded by the constables of the court, who took him and his adherent prisoners, before they were aware, and delivered them into the hands of the turnkeys, by whom they were immediately dismissed, and their baggage conveyed to the side of the ditch.

This expulsion was not performed without an obstinate opposition on the part of the delinquents, who, had they not been surprised, would have set the whole Fleet at defiance, and, in all probability, have acted divers tragedies, before they could have been overpowered. Things being circumstanced as they were, the lieutenant did not part with his conductor without tweaking his nose, by way of farewell; and Pipes, in imitation of such a laudable example, communicated a token of remembrance, in an application to the sole eye of his attendant, who, scorning to be outdone in this kind of courtesy, returned the compliment with such good-will, that Tom’s organ performed the office of a multiplying-glass. These were mutual hints for stripping, and, accordingly, each was naked from the waist upwards in a trice. A ring of butchers from the market was immediately formed; a couple of the reverend flamens, who, in morning gowns, ply for marriages in that quarter of the town, constituted themselves seconds and umpires of the approaching contest, and the battle began without further preparation. The combatants were, in point of strength and agility, pretty equally matched; but the jailor had been regularly trained in the art of bruising: he had more than once signalized himself in public, by his prowess and skill in this exer............

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