Joseph Andrews By Henry Fielding Book I: Chapters 14-15

He was proceeding in this learned manner, when a mighty noise interrupted him. Some young fellows in the neighbourhood had taken one of the thieves, and were bringing him into the inn. Betty ran upstairs with this news to Joseph, who begged they might search for a little piece of broken gold, which had a ribband tied to it, and which he could swear to amongst all the hoards of the richest men in the universe.

Notwithstanding the fellow's persisting in his innocence, the mob were very busy in searching him, and presently, among other things, pulled out the piece of gold just mentioned; which Betty no sooner saw than she laid violent hands on it, and conveyed it up to Joseph, who received it with raptures of joy, and, hugging it in his bosom, declared he could now die contented.

Within a few minutes afterwards came in some other fellows, with a bundle which they had found in a ditch, and which was indeed the cloaths which had been stripped off from Joseph, and the other things they had taken from him.

The gentleman no sooner saw the coat than he declared he knew the livery; and, if it had been taken from the poor creature above-stairs, desired he might see him; for that he was very well acquainted with the family to whom that livery belonged.

He was accordingly conducted up by Betty; but what, reader, was the surprize on both sides, when he saw Joseph was the person in bed, and when Joseph discovered the face of his good friend Mr Abraham Adams!

It would be impertinent to insert a discourse which chiefly turned on the relation of matters already well known to the reader; for, as soon as the curate had satisfied Joseph concerning the perfect health of his Fanny, he was on his side very inquisitive into all the particulars which had produced this unfortunate accident.

To return therefore to the kitchen, where a great variety of company were now assembled from all the rooms of the house, as well as the neighbourhood: so much delight do men take in contemplating the countenance of a thief.

Mr Tow-wouse began to rub his hands with pleasure at seeing so large an assembly; who would, he hoped, shortly adjourn into several apartments, in order to discourse over the robbery, and drink a health to all honest men. But Mrs Tow-wouse, whose misfortune it was commonly to see things a little perversely, began to rail at those who brought the fellow into her house; telling her husband, "They were very likely to thrive who kept a house of entertainment for beggars and thieves."

The mob had now finished their search, and could find nothing about the captive likely to prove any evidence; for as to the cloaths, though the mob were very well satisfied with that proof, yet, as the surgeon observed, they could not convict him, because they were not found in his custody; to which Barnabas agreed, and added that these were bona waviata, and belonged to the lord of the manor.

"How," says the surgeon, "do you say these goods belong to the lord of the manor?" — "I do," cried Barnabas. — "Then I deny it," says the surgeon: "what can the lord of the manor have to do in the case? Will any one attempt to persuade me that what a man finds is not his own?" — "I have heard," says an old fellow in the corner, "justice Wise-one say, that, if every man had his right, whatever is found belongs to the king of London." — "That may be true," says Barnabas, "in some sense; for the law makes a difference between things stolen and things found; for a thing may be stolen that never is found, and a thing may be found that never was stolen: Now, goods that are both stolen and found are waviata; and they belong to the lord of the manor." — "So the lord of the manor is the receiver of stolen goods," says the doctor; at which there was an universal laugh, being first begun by himself.

While the prisoner, by persisting in his innocence, had almost (as there was no evidence against him) brought over Barnabas, the surgeon, Tow-wouse, and several others to his side, Betty informed them that they had overlooked a little piece of gold, which she had carried up to the man in bed, and which he offered to swear to amongst a million, aye, amongst ten thousand. This immediately turned the scale against the prisoner, and every one now concluded him guilty. It was resolved, therefore, to keep him secured that night, and early in the morning to carry him before a justice.

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