The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, by Tobias Smollett

Chapter IX.

He is found by Lieutenant — Reconducted to his own House — Married to Mrs. Grizzle, who meets with a small misfortune in the Night, and asserts her Prerogative next Morning, in consequence of which her Husband’s Eye is endangered.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Hatchway made shift to hobble to the church, where he informed the company of what had happened to the commodore: and the bride behaved with great decency on the occasion; for, as she understood the danger to which her future husband was exposed, she fainted in the arms of her sister-in-law, to the surprise of all the spectators, who could not comprehend the cause of her disorder; and when she was recovered by the application of smelling-bottles, earnestly begged that Mr. Hatchway and Tom Pipes should take her brother’s coach, and go in quest of their commander.

This task they readily undertook, being escorted by all the rest of his adherents on horseback; while the bride and her friends were invited to the parson’s horse, and the ceremony deferred till another occasion.

The lieutenant, steering his course as near the line of direction in which Trunnion went off, as the coach-road would permit, got intelligence of his track from one farm-house to another; for such an apparition could not fail of attracting particular notice; and one of the horsemen having picked up his hat and wig in a by-path, the whole troop entered the village where he was lodged, about four o’clock in the afternoon. When they understood he was safely housed at the George, they rode up to the door in a body, and expressed their satisfaction in three cheers; which were returned by the company within, as soon as they were instructed in the nature of the salute by Trunnion, who, by this time, had entered into all the jollity of his new friends, and was indeed more than half-seas-over. The lieutenant was introduced to all present as his sworn brother, and had something tossed up for his dinner. Tom Pipes and the crew were regaled in another room; and, a fresh pair of horses being put to the coach, about six in the evening the commodore, with all his attendants, departed for the garrison, after having shook hands with every individual in the house.

Without any further accident, he was conveyed in safety to his own gate before nine, and committed to the care of Pipes, who carried him instantly to his hammock, while the lieutenant was driven away to the place where the bride and her friends remained in great anxiety, which vanished when he assured them that his commodore was safe, being succeeded by abundance of mirth and pleasantry at the account he gave of Trunnion’s adventure.

Another day was fixed for the nuptials; and in order to balk the curiosity of idle people, which had given great offence, the parson was prevailed upon to perform the ceremony in the garrison, which all that day was adorned with flags and pendants displayed; and at night illuminated, by the direction of Hatchway, who also ordered the patereroes to be fired, as soon as the marriage-knot was tied. Neither were the other parts of the entertainment neglected by this ingenious contriver, who produced undeniable proofs of his elegance and art in the wedding-supper, which had been committed to his management and direction. This genial banquet was entirely composed of sea-dishes; a huge pillaw, consisting of a large piece of beef sliced, a couple of fowls, and half a peck of rice, smoked in the middle of the board: a dish of hard fish, swimming in oil, appeared at each end; the sides being furnished with a mess of that savoury composition known by the name of lub’s-course, and a plate of salmagundy. The second course displayed a goose of a monstrous magnitude, flanked with two Guinea-hens, a pig barbacued, a hock of salt pork, in the midst of a pease-pudding, a leg of mutton roasted, with potatoes, and another boiled, with yams. The third service was made up of a loin of fresh pork, with apple-sauce, a kid smothered with onions, and a terrapin baked in the shell; and last of all, a prodigious sea-pie was presented, with an infinite volume of pancakes and fritters. That everything might be answerable to the magnificence of this delicate feast, he had provided vast quantifies of strong beer, flip, rumbo, and burnt brandy, with plenty of Barbadoes water for the ladies; and hired all the fiddles within six miles, which, with the addition of a drum, bagpipe, and Welsh harp, regaled the guests with a most melodious concert.

The company, who were not at all exceptions, seemed extremely well pleased with every particular of the entertainment; and the evening being spent in the most social manner, the bride was by her sister conducted to her apartment, where, however, a trifling circumstance had like to have destroyed the harmony which had been hitherto maintained.

I have already observed, that there was not one standing bed within the walls; therefore the reader will not wonder that Mrs. Trunnion was out of humour, when she found herself under the necessity of being confined with her spouse in a hammock, which, though enlarged with a double portion of canvas, and dilated with a yoke for the occasion, was at best but a disagreeable, not to say dangerous situation. She accordingly complained with some warmth of this inconvenience, which she imputed to disrespect; and, at first, absolutely refused to put up with the expedient; but Mrs. Pickle soon brought her to reason and compliance, by observing that one night will soon be elapsed, and next day she might regulate her own economy.

Thus persuaded, she ventured into the vehicle, and was visited by her husband in less than an hour, the company being departed to their own homes, and the garrison left to the command of his lieutenant and mate. But it seems the hooks that supported this swinging couch were not calculated for the addition of weight which they were now destined to bear; and therefore gave way in the middle of the night, to the no small terror of Mrs. Trunnion, who perceiving herself falling, screamed aloud, and by that exclamation brought Hatchway with a light into the chamber. Though she had received no injury by the fall, she was extremely discomposed and incensed at the accident, which she even openly ascribed to the obstinacy and whimsical oddity of the commodore, in such petulant terms as evidently declared that she thought her great aim accomplished, and her authority secured against all the shocks of fortune. Indeed her bedfellow seemed to be of the same opinion, by his tacit resignation; for he made no reply to her insinuations, but with a most vinegar aspect crawled out of his nest, and betook himself to rest in another apartment; while his irritated spouse dismissed the lieutenant, and from the wreck of the hammock made an occasional bed for herself on the floor, fully determined to provide better accommodation for the next night’s lodging.

Having no inclination to sleep, her thoughts, during the remaining part of the night, were engrossed by a scheme of reformation she was resolved to execute in the family; and no sooner did the first lark bid salutation to the morn, than, starting from her humble couch, and huddling on her clothes, she sallied from her chamber, explored her way through paths before unknown, and in the course of her researches perceived a large bell, to which she made such effectual application as alarmed every soul in the family. In a moment she was surrounded by Hatchway, Pipes, and all the rest of the servants half-dressed; but seeing none of the feminine gender appear, she began to storm at the sloth and laziness of the maids, who, she observed, ought to have been at work an hour at least before she called; and then, for the first time, understood that no woman was permitted to sleep within the walls.

She did not fail to exclaim against this regulation; and being informed that the cook and chambermaid lodged in a small office-house that stood without the gate, ordered the drawbridge to be let down, and in person beat up their quarters, commanding them forthwith to set about scouring the rooms, which had not been hitherto kept in a very decent condition, while two men were immediately employed to transport the bed on which she used to lie from her brother’s house to her new habitation; so that, in less than two hours, the whole economy of the garrison was turned topsy-turvy, and everything involved in tumult and noise. Trunnion, being disturbed and distracted with the uproar, turned out in his shirt like a maniac, and, arming himself with a cudgel of crab-tree, made an irruption into his wife’s apartment, where, perceiving a couple of carpenters at work in joining a bedstead, he, with many dreadful oaths and opprobrious invectives, ordered them to desist, swearing he would suffer no bulkheads nor hurricane-houses to stand where he was master: but finding his remonstrances disregarded by these mechanics, who believed him to be some madman belonging to the family, who had broken from his confinement, he assaulted them both with great fury and indignation, and was handled so roughly, in the encounter, that in a very short time he measured his length on the floor, in consequence of a blow that he received from a hammer by which the sight of his remaining eye was grievously endangered.

Having thus reduced him to a state of subjection, they resolved to secure him with cords, and were actually busy in adjusting his fetters, when he was exempted from the disgrace by the accidental entrance of his spouse, who rescued him from the hands of his adversaries, and, in the midst of her condolence, imputed his misfortune to the inconsiderate roughness of his own disposition.

He breathed nothing but revenge, and made some efforts to chastise the insolence of the workmen, who, as soon as they understood his quality, asked forgiveness for what they had done with great humility, protesting that they did not know he was master of the house. But, far from being satisfied with this apology, he groped about for the bell, the inflammation of his eye having utterly deprived him of sight; and the rope being, by the precaution of the delinquents, conveyed out of his reach, began to storm with incredible vociferation, like a lion roaring in the toil, pouring forth innumerable oaths and execrations, and calling by name Hatchway and Pipes, who, being within hearing, obeyed the extraordinary summons, and were ordered to put the carpenters in irons, for having audaciously assaulted him in his own house.

His myrmidons, seeing he had been evil-treated, were exasperated at the insult he had suffered, which they considered as an affront upon the dignity of the garrison; the more so as the mutineers seemed to put themselves in a posture of defence and set their authority at defiance; they therefore unsheathed their cutlasses, which they commonly wore as badges of their commission; and a desperate engagement in all probability would have ensued, had not the lady of the castle interposed, and prevented the effects of their animosity, by assuring the lieutenant that the commodore had been the aggressor, and that the workmen, finding themselves attacked in such an extraordinary manner, by a person whom they did not know, were obliged to act in their own defence, by which he had received that unlucky contusion.

Mr. Hatchway no sooner learnt the sentiments of Mrs. Trunnion, than, sheathing his indignation, he told the commodore he should always be ready to execute his lawful commands; but that he could not in conscience be concerned in oppressing poor people who had been guilty of no offence.

This unexpected declaration, together with the behaviour of his wife, who in his hearing desired the carpenters to resume their work, filled the breast of Trunnion with rage and mortification. He pulled off his woollen night-cap, pummeled his bare pate, beat the floor alternately with his feet, swore his people had betrayed him, and cursed himself to the lowest pit of hell for having admitted such a cockatrice into his family. But all these exclamations did not avail; they were among the last essays of his resistance to the will of his wife, whose influence among his adherents had already swallowed up his own, and peremptorily told him that he must leave the management of everything within-doors to her, who understood best what was for his honour and advantage. She then ordered a poultice to be prepared for his eye, which being applied, he was committed to the care of Pipes, by whom he was led about the house like a blind bear growling for prey, while his industrious yoke-fellow executed every circumstance of the plan she had projected; so that when he recovered his vision he was an utter stranger in his own house.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59