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And now reader, taking these hints along with you, you may, if you please, proceed to the sequel of this our true history.
A night scene, wherein several wonderful adventures befel Adams and his fellow-travellers.
It was so late when our travellers left the inn or alehouse (for it might be called either), that they had not travelled many miles before night overtook them, or met them, which you please. The reader must excuse me, if I am not particular as to the way they took; for as we are now drawing near the seat of the Boobies, and as that is a ticklish name, which malicious persons may apply, according to their evil inclinations, to several worthy country squires, a race of men whom we look upon as entirely inoffensive, and for whom we have an adequate regard, we shall lend no assistance to any such malicious purposes. Darkness had now overspread the hemisphere, when Fanny whispered Joseph, that she begged to rest herself a little; for that she was so tired she could walk no farther. Joseph immediately prevailed with parson Adams, who was as brisk as a bee, to stop. He had no sooner seated himself, than he lamented the loss of his dear AEschylus; but was a little comforted, when reminded, that, if he had it in his possession, he could not see to read. The sky was so clouded, that not a star appeared. It was indeed, according to Milton, darkness visible. This was a circumstance, however, very favourable to Joseph; for Fanny, not suspicious of being overseen by Adams, WOL. W. Q
gave a loose to her passion which she had never done before, and, reclining her head on his bosom, threw her arm carelessly round him, and suffered him to lay his cheek close to hers. All this infused such happiness into Joseph, that he would not have changed his turf for the finest down in the finest palace in the universe. Adams sat at some distance from the lovers, and being unwilling to disturb them, applied himself to meditation; in which he had not spent much time, before he discovered a light at some distance, that seemed approaching towards him. He immediately hailed it ; but, to his sorrow and surprise, it stopped for a moment, and then disappeared. He then called to Joseph, asking him, if he had not seen the light. Joseph answered, he had. —“And did you not mark how it vanished ?’ returned he: ‘though I am not afraid of ghosts, I do not absolutely ‘ disbelieve them.’ He then entered into a meditation on those unsubstantial beings; which was soon interrupted by several voices, which he thought almost at his elbow, though in fact they were not so extremely near. However, he could distinctly hear them agree on the murder of any one they met. And a little after heard one of them say, He had killed a dozen since that day fortnight. Adams now fell on his knees, and committed himself to the care of Providence; and poor Fanny, who likewise heard those terrible words, embraced Joseph so closely, that had not he, whose ears were also open, been apprehensive on her account, he would have thought no danger which threatened only himself too dear a price for such embraces. Joseph now drew forth his penknife, and Adams having finished his ejaculations, grasped his crabstick, his only weapon, and coming up to Joseph, would have had him quit Fanny, and place her in the rear; but his advice was fruitless, she clung closer to him, not at all regarding the presence of Adams, and in a soothing voice declared, she would die in his arms. Joseph, clasping her with inexpressible eagerness, whispered her, that he preferred death in hers to life out of them. Adams, brandishing his crabstick, said, he despised death as much as any man, and then repeated aloud,
Est hic, est animus lucis contemptor et illum,
Qui vita bene credat emi quo tendis, honorem. Upon this the voices ceased for a moment, and then one of them called out, ‘D-n you, who is there ?' To which Adams was prudent enough to make no reply ; and of a sudden he observed half a dozen lights, which seemed to rise all at once from the ground and advance briskly towards him. This he immediately concluded to be an apparition; and now beginning to conceive that the voices were of the same kind, he called out, “In the
name of the L-d, what wouldst thou have?' He had no sooner spoke than he heard one of the voices cry out, ' D-n them, here they come;' and soon after heard several hearty blows, as if a number of men had been engaged at quarterstaff. He was just advancing towards the place of combat, when Joseph, catching him by the skirts, begged him that they might take the opportunity of the dark to convey away Fanny from the danger which threatened her. He presently complied, and Joseph lifting up Fanny, they all three made the best of their way; and without looking behind them, or being overtaken, they had travelled full two miles, poor Fanny not once complaining of being tired, when they saw far off several lights scattered at a small distance from each other, and at the same time found themselves on the descent of a very steep hill. Adams's foot slipping, he instantly disappeared, which greatly frightened both
Joseph and Fanny: indeed, if the light had permitted them to see it, they would scarce have refrained laughing to see the parson rolling down the hill; which he did from top to bottom, without receiving any harm. He then halloed as loud as he could to inform them of his safety, and relieve them from the fears which they had conceived for him. Joseph and Fanny halted some time, considering what to do; at last they advanced a few paces, where the declivity seemed least steep; and then Joseph, taking his Fanny in his arms, walked firmly down the hill, without making a false step, and at length landed her at the bottom, where Adams soon came to them.
Learn hence, my fair countrywomen, to consider your own weakness, and the many occasions on which the strength of a man may be useful to you; and duly weighing this, take care that you match not yourselves with the spindle-shanked beaus and petit-maitres of the age, who, instead of being able, like Joseph Andrews, to carry you in lusty arms through the rugged ways and downhill steeps of life, will rather want to support their feeble limbs with your strength and assistance.
Our travellers now moved forwards where the nearest light presented itself; and having crossed a common field, they came to a meadow, where they seemed to be at a very little distance from the light, when, to their grief, they arrived at the banks of a river. Adams here made a full stop, and declared he could swim, but doubted how it was possible to get Fanny over: to which Joseph answered, If they walked along its banks, they might be certain of soon finding a bridge, especially as by the number of lights they might be assured a parish was near. -- Odso, that's true indeed,' said Adams; I did not think of that.'
Accordingly, Joseph's advice being taken, they passed
over two meadows, and came to a little orchard, which led them to a house. Fanny begged of Joseph to knock at the door, assuring him she was so weary that she could hardly stand on her feet. Adams, who was foremost, performed this ceremony; and, the door being immediately opened, a plain kind of man appeared at it: Adams acquainted him that they had a young woman with them, who was so tired with her journey that he should be much obliged to him if he would suffer her to come in and rest herself. The man, who saw Fanny by the light of the candle which he held in his hand, perceiving her innocent and modest look, and having no apprehensions, from the civil behaviour of Adams, presently answered, That the young woman was very welcome to rest herself in his house, and so were her company. He then ushered them into a very decent room, where his wife was sitting at a table: she immediately rose up, and assisted them in setting forth chairs, and desired them to sit down; which they had no sooner done than the man of the house asked them if they would have anything to refresh themselves with. Adams thanked him, and answered, He should be obliged to him for a cup of his ale, which was likewise chosen by Joseph and Fanny. Whilst he was gone to fill a very large jug with this liquor, his wife told Fanny she seemed greatly fatigued, and desired her to take something stronger than ale; but she refused with many thanks, saying it was true she was very much tired, but a little rest she hoped would restore her. As soon as the company were all seated, Mr. Adams, who had filled himself with ale, and by public permission had lighted his pipe, turned to the master of the house, asking him, If evil spirits did not use to walk in that neighbourhood, to which receiving no answer, he began to inform him of the adventure which they had met with on the downs;