The History of Tom Jones—Excerpt

From  The History of Tom Jones

by Henry Fielding

QUARREL

This matter then was no other than a quarrel between Master Blifil and Tom Jones, the consequence of which had been a bloody nosc to the former; for though Master Blifil, notwithstanding hc was the younger, was in size above the other’s match, yet Tom was much his superior at the noble art of boxing.

Tom, however, cautiously avoided a engagements with that youth; for besides that Tommy Jones was an inoffensive lad amidst all his roguery, and really saved Blifil, Mr. Thwackum being always the second of the latter, would have been sufficient to deter him.

But well says a certain author, No man is wise at all hours; it is therefore no wonder that a boy is not so. A difference arising at play between the two lads, Master Blifil called Tom a beggarly bastard. Upon which the latter, who was somewhat passionate in his disposition, immediately caused that phenomenon in the face of the former, which we have above remembered.

Master Blifil now, with his blood running from his nose, and the tears galloping after from his eyes, appeared before his uncle and the trcmendous Thwackum. In which court an indictment of assault, battery, and wounding, was instantly preferred against Tom; who in his excuse only pleaded the provocation, which was indeed all the matter that Master Blifil had omitted.

It is indeed possible that this circumstance might have escaped his memory; for, in his reply, he positivdy insisted, that he had made use of no such appellation; adding, “Heaven forbid such naughty words should ever come out of his mouth!”

Tom, though against all form of law, rejoined in affirmance of the words. Upon which Master Blifil said, “It is no wonder. Those who will tell one fib, will hardly stick at another. If I had told my master such a wicked fib as you have done, I should be ashamed to show my face.”

“What fib, child?” cries Thwackum pretty eagerly.

“Why, he told you that nobody was with him a-shooting when he killcd the partridge; but he knows” (here he burst into a flood of tears), “yes, he knows, for he confessed it to me, that Black George the gamekeeper was there. Nay, he said—yes you did,—deny it if you can, that you would not have confest the truth, though master had cut you to pieces.”

At this the fire flashed from Thwackum’s eyes, and he cried out in triumph”Oh!ho! this is your mistaken notion of honor! This is the boy who was not to be whipped again!” But Mr. Allworthy, with a more gentle aspect, turned towards the lad, and said, “Is this true, child? How came you to persist so obstinately in a falsehood?” Tom said, “He scorned a lie as much as anyone: but he thought his honor engaged him to act as he did; for he had promised the poor fellow to conceal him: which,” he said, “he thought himself farther obliged to, as the gamekeeper had begged him not to go into the gentleman’s manor, and had at last gone himself, in compliance with his persuasions.” He said, “this was the whole truth of the matter, and he would take his oath of it;” and concluded with very passionately begging Mr. Allworthy “to have compassion on the poor fellow’s family, especially as he himself had been only guilty, and the other had been very difficultly prevailed on to do what he did.” “Indeed, sir,” said he, “it could hardly be called a lie that I told; for the poor fellow was entirely innocent of the whole matter. I should have gone alone after the birds; nay, I did go at first, and he only followed me to prevent more mischief. Do, pray, sir, let me be punished; take my little horse away again; but pray, sir, forgive poor George.” Mr. Allworthy hesitated a few moments, and then dismissed the boys, advising them to live more friendly and peaceably together.


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Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 10:05 AM  Leave a Comment  
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