Joseph Andrews By Henry Fielding Book II: Chapter 5

The traveller, addressing himself to Mrs Grave-airs, desired her not to be frightened; for here had been only a little boxing, which he said, to their disgracia, the English were accustomata to: adding, it must be, however, a sight somewhat strange to him, who was just come from Italy; the Italians not being addicted to the cuffardo but bastonza, says he. He then went up to Adams, and telling him he looked like the ghost of Othello, bid him not shake his gory locks at him, for he could not say he did it. Adams very innocently answered, "Sir, I am far from accusing you." He then returned to the lady, and cried, "I find the bloody gentleman is uno insipido del nullo senso. Dammato di me, if I have seen such a spectaculo in my way from Viterbo."

One of the gentlemen having learnt from the host the occasion of this bustle, and being assured by him that Adams had struck the first blow, whispered in his ear, "He'd warrant he would recover." — "Recover! master," said the host, smiling: "yes, yes, I am not afraid of dying with a blow or two neither; I am not such a chicken as that." — "Pugh!" said the gentleman, "I mean you will recover damages in that action which, undoubtedly, you intend to bring, as soon as a writ can be returned from London; for you look like a man of too much spirit and courage to suffer any one to beat you without bringing your action against him: he must be a scandalous fellow indeed who would put up with a drubbing whilst the law is open to revenge it; besides, he hath drawn blood from you, and spoiled your coat; and the jury will give damages for that too. An excellent new coat upon my word; and now not worth a shilling! I don't care," continued he, "to intermeddle in these cases; but you have a right to my evidence; and if I am sworn, I must speak the truth. I saw you sprawling on the floor, and blood gushing from your nostrils. You may take your own opinion; but was I in your circumstances, every drop of my blood should convey an ounce of gold into my pocket: remember I don't advise you to go to law; but if your jury were Christians, they must give swinging damages. That's all." — "Master," cried the host, scratching his head, "I have no stomach to law, I thank you. I have seen enough of that in the parish, where two of my neighbours have been at law about a house, till they have both lawed themselves into a gaol." At which words he turned about, and began to inquire again after his hog's puddings; nor would it probably have been a sufficient excuse for his wife, that she spilt them in his defence, had not some awe of the company, especially of the Italian traveller, who was a person of great dignity, withheld his rage.

Whilst one of the above-mentioned gentlemen was employed, as we have seen him, on the behalf of the landlord, the other was no less hearty on the side of Mr Adams, whom he advised to bring his action immediately. He said the assault of the wife was in law the assault of the husband, for they were but one person; and he was liable to pay damages, which he said must be considerable, where so bloody a disposition appeared. Adams answered, If it was true that they were but one person, he had assaulted the wife; for he was sorry to own he had struck the husband the first blow. "I am sorry you own it too," cries the gentleman; "for it could not possibly appear to the court; for here was no evidence present but the lame man in the chair, whom I suppose to be your friend, and would consequently say nothing but what made for you." — "How, sir," says Adams, "do you take me for a villain, who would prosecute revenge in cold blood, and use unjustifiable means to obtain it? If you knew me, and my order, I should think you affronted both." At the word order, the gentleman stared (for he was too bloody to be of any modern order of knights); and, turning hastily about, said, "Every man knew his own business."

Matters being now composed, the company retired to their several apartments; the two gentlemen congratulating each other on the success of their good offices in procuring a perfect reconciliation between the contending parties; and the traveller went to his repast, crying, "As the Italian poet says —

'Je voi very well que tutta e pace, So send up dinner, good Boniface.'"

The coachman began now to grow importunate with his passengers, whose entrance into the coach was retarded by Miss Grave-airs insisting, against the remonstrance of all the rest, that she would not admit a footman into the coach; for poor Joseph was too lame to mount a horse. A young lady, who was, as it seems, an earl's grand-daughter, begged it with almost tears in her eyes. Mr Adams prayed, and Mrs Slipslop scolded; but all to no purpose. She said, "She would not demean herself to ride with a footman: that there were waggons on the road: that if the master of the coach desired it, she would pay for two places; but would suffer no such fellow to come in." — "Madam," says Slipslop, "I am sure no one can refuse another coming into a stage-coach." — "I don't know, madam," says the lady; "I am not much used to stage-coaches; I seldom travel in them." — "That may be, madam," replied Slipslop; "very good people do; and some people's betters, for aught I know." Miss Grave-airs said, "Some folks might sometimes give their tongues a liberty, to some people that were their betters, which did not become them; for her part, she was not used to converse with servants." Slipslop returned, "Some people kept no servants to converse with; for her part, she thanked Heaven she lived in a family where there were a great many, and had more under her own command than any paultry little gentlewoman in the kingdom." Miss Grave-airs cried, "She believed her mistress would not encourage such sauciness to her betters." — "My betters," says Slipslop, "who is my betters, pray?" — "I am your betters," answered Miss Grave-airs, "and I'll acquaint your mistress." — At which Mrs Slipslop laughed aloud, and told her, "Her lady was one of the great gentry; and such little paultry gentlewomen as some folks, who travelled in stagecoaches, would not easily come at her."

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After Adams returns penniless from Pastor Trulliber's, who pays his bills at the inn?