Mr. Sycamore, alias the knight of the Griffin, so denominated from a griffin painted on his shield, being armed at all points, and his friend Dawdle provided with a certain implement, which he flattered himself would ensure a victory over the novice Crowe, they set out from the George, with their attendants, in all the elevation of hope, and pranced along the highway that led towards London, that being the road which our adventurer pursued. As they were extremely well mounted, and proceeded at a round pace, they, in less than two hours, came up with Sir Launcelot and his company; and Sycamore sent another formal defiance to the knight by his trumpeter, Dawdle having, for good reasons, declined that office.

Our adventurer hearing himself thus addressed, and seeing his rival, who had passed him, posted to obstruct his progress, armed cap-a-pee, with his lance in the rest, determined to give the satisfaction that was required, and desired that the regulations of the combat might be established. The knight of the Griffin proposed, that the vanquished party should resign all pretensions to Miss Aurelia Darnel, in favour of the victor; that, while the principals were engaged, his friend Dawdle should run a tilt with Captain Crowe; that Squire Crabshaw and Mr. Sycamore’s servant should keep themselves in readiness to assist their respective masters occasionally, according to the law of arms; and that Mr. Clarke should observe the motions of the trumpeter, whose province was to sound the charge to battle.

Our knight agreed to these regulations, notwithstanding the earnest and pathetic remonstrances of the young lawyer, who, with tears in his eyes, conjured all the combatants, in their turns, to refrain from an action that might be attended with bloodshed and murder; and was contrary to the laws both of God and man. In vain he endeavoured to move them by tears and entreaties, by threatening them with prosecutions in this world, and pains and penalties in the next. They persisted in their resolution, and his uncle would have begun hostilities on his carcase, had he not been prevented by Sir Launcelot, who exhorted Clarke to retire from the field, that he might not be involved in the consequences of the combat. He relished this advice so well, that he had actually moved off to some distance; but his apprehensions and concern for his friends co-operating with an insatiable curiosity, detained him in sight of the engagement.

The two knights having fairly divided the ground, and the same precautions being taken by the seconds on another part of the field, Sycamore began to be invaded with some scruples, which were probably engendered by the martial appearance and well-known character of his antagonist. The confidence which he derived from the reluctance of Sir Launcelot now vanished, because it plainly appeared, that the knight’s backwardness was not owing to personal timidity; and he foresaw that the prosecution of this joke might be attended with very serious consequences to his own life and reputation. He therefore desired a parley, in which he observed his affection for Miss Darnel was of such a delicate nature, that, should the discomfiture of his rival contribute to make her unhappy, his victory must render him the most miserable wretch upon earth. He proposed, therefore, that her sentiments and choice should be ascertained before they proceeded to extremity.

Sir Launcelot declared that he was much more afraid of combating Aurelia’s inclination, than of opposing the knight of the Griffin in arms; and that if he had the least reason to think Mr. Sycamore, or any other person, was distinguished by her preference, he would instantly give up his suit as desperate. At the same time, he observed, that Sycamore had proceeded too far to retract; that he had insulted a gentleman, and not only challenged, but even pursued him, and blocked up his passage in the public highway; outrages which he (Sir Launcelot) would not suffer to pass unpunished. Accordingly, he insisted on the combat, on pain of treating Sycamore as a craven, and a recreant. This declaration was reinforced by Dawdle, who told him, that, should he now decline the engagement, all the world would look upon him as an infamous poltroon.

These two observations gave a necessary fillip to the courage of the challenger. The parties took their stations. The trumpet sounded to charge, and the combatants began their career with great impetuosity.— Whether the gleam of Sir Launcelot’s arms affrighted Mr. Sycamore’s steed, or some other object had an unlucky effect on his eyesight, certain it is he started at about midway, and gave his rider such a violent shake as discomposed his attitude, and disabled him from using his lance to the best advantage. Had our hero continued his career, with his lance couched, in all probability Sycamore’s armour would have proved but a bad defence to his carcase; but Sir Launcelot perceiving his rival’s spear unrested, had just time to throw up the point of his own, when the two horses closed with such a shock, that Sycamore, already wavering in the saddle, was overthrown, and his armour crashed around him as he fell.

The victor, seeing him lie without motion, alighted immediately and began to unbuckle his helmet, in which office he was assisted by the trumpeter. When the headpiece was removed, the hapless knight of the Griffin appeared in the pale livery of death, though he was only in a swoon, from which he soon recovered by the effect of the fresh air, and the aspersion of cold water, brought from a small pool in the neighbourhood. When he recognised his conqueror doing the offices of humanity about his person, he closed his eyes from vexation, told Sir Launcelot that his was the fortune of the day, though he himself owed his mischance to the fault of his own horse; and observed, that this ridiculous affair would not have happened, but for the mischievous instigation of that scoundrel Dawdle, on whose ribs he threatened to revenge this mishap.

Perhaps Captain Crowe might have saved him the trouble, had the wag honourably adhered to the institutions of chivalry, in his conflict with our novice. But on this occasion, his ingenuity was more commendable than his courage. He had provided at the inn a blown bladder, in which several smooth pebbles were enclosed; and this he slyly fixed on the head of his pole, when the captain obeyed the signal of battle. Instead of bearing the brunt of the encounter, he turned out of the straight line, so as to avoid the lance of his antagonist, and rattled his bladder with such effect, that Crowe’s horse, pricking up his ears, took to his heels, and fled across some ploughed land with such precipitation, that the rider was obliged to quit his spear, and lay fast hold on the mane, that he might not be thrown out of the saddle. Dawdle, who was much better mounted, seeing his condition, rode up to the unfortunate novice, and belaboured his shoulders without fear of retaliation.

Mr. Clarke, seeing his kinsman so roughly handled, forgot his fears, and flew to his assistance; but, before he came up, the aggressor had retired; and now perceiving that fortune had declared against his friend and patron, very honourably abandoned him in his distress, and went off at full speed for London.

Nor was Timothy Crabshaw without his share in the noble achievements of this propitious day. He had by this time imbibed such a tincture of errantry, that he firmly believed himself and his master equally invincible; and this belief operating upon a perverse disposition, rendered him as quarrelsome in his sphere, as his master was mild and forbearing. As he sat on horseback, in the place assigned to him and Sycamore’s lacquey, he managed Gilbert in such a manner, as to invade with his heels the posteriors of the other’s horse; and this insult produced some altercation which ended in mutual assault. The footman handled the butt-end of his horsewhip with great dexterity about the head of Crabshaw, who declared afterwards, that it sung and simmered like a kettle of cod-fish; but the squire, who understood the nature of long lashes, as having been a carter from his infancy, found means to twine his thong about the neck of his antagonist, and pull him off his horse half strangled, at the very instant his master was thrown by Sir Launcelot Greaves.

Having thus obtained the victory, he did not much regard the punctilios of chivalry; but, taking it for granted he had a right to make the most of his advantage, resolved to carry off the spolia opima. Alighting with great agility, “Brother,” cried he, “I think as haw yawrs bean’t a butcher’s horse, a doan’t carry calves well—I’se make yaw knaw your churning days, I wool—what, yaw look as if yaw was crow-trodden, you do —now, you shall pay the score you have been running on my pate, you shall, brother.”

So saying, he rifled his pockets, stripped him of his hat and coat, and took possession of his master’s portmanteau. But he did not long enjoy his plunder. For the lacquey complaining to Sir Launcelot of his having been despoiled, the knight commanded his squire to refund, not without menaces of subjecting him to the severest chastisement for his injustice and rapacity. Timothy represented, with great vehemence, that he had won the spoils in fair battle, at the expense of his head and shoulders, which he immediately uncovered, to prove his allegation. But his remonstrance having no effect upon his master, “Wounds!” cried he, “an I mun gee thee back the pig, I’se gee thee back the poke also; I’m a drubbing still in thy debt.”

With these words, he made a most furious attack upon the plaintiff with his horsewhip, and, before the knight could interpose, repaid the lacquey with interest. As an appurtenance to Sycamore and Dawdle, he ran the risk of another assault from the novice Crowe, who was so transported with rage at the disagreeable trick which had been played upon him by his fugitive antagonist, that he could not for some time pronounce an articulate sound, but a few broken interjections, the meaning of which could not be ascertained. Snatching up his pole, he ran towards the place where Mr. Sycamore sat on the grass, supported by the trumpeter, and would have finished what our adventurer had left undone, if the knight of the Crescent, with admirable dexterity, had not warded off the blow which he aimed at the knight of the Griffin, and signified his displeasure in a resolute tone. Then he collared the lacquey, who was just disengaged from the chastising hand of Crabshaw, and swinging his lance with his other hand, encountered the squire’s ribs by accident.

Timothy was not slow in returning the salutation with the weapon which he still wielded. Mr. Clarke running up to the assistance of his uncle, was opposed by the lacquey, who seemed extremely desirous of seeing the enemy revenge his quarrel, by falling foul of one another. Clarke, thus impeded, commenced hostilities against the footman, while Crowe grappled with Crabshaw; a battle-royal ensued, and was maintained with great vigour, and some bloodshed on all sides, until the authority of Sir Launcelot, reinforced by some weighty remonstrances applied to the squire, put an end to the conflict. Crabshaw immediately desisted, and ran roaring to communicate his grievances to Gilbert, who seemed to sympathise very little with his distress. The lacquey took to his heels; Mr. Clarke wiped his bloody nose, declaring he had a good mind to put the aggressor in the Crown-office; and Captain Crowe continued to ejaculate unconnected oaths; which, however, seemed to imply that he was almost sick of his new profession. “D—n my eyes, if you call this—start my timbers, brother—look ye, d’ye see—a lousy, lubberly, cowardly son of a—among the breakers, d’ye see—lost my steerage way—split my binnacle; bawl away—O! d—n all arrantry—give me a tight vessel, d’ye see, brother—mayhap you may n’t—snatch my—sea-room and a spanking gale— odds heart, I’ll hold a whole year’s—smite my limbs; it don’t signify talking.”

Our hero consoled the novice for his disaster, by observing that if he had got some blows he had lost no honour. At the same time he observed, that it was very difficult, if not impossible, for a man to succeed in the paths of chivalry, who had passed the better part of his days in other occupations, and hinted that, as the cause which had engaged him in this way of life no longer existed, he was determined to relinquish a profession which, in a peculiar manner, exposed him to the most disagreeable incidents. Crowe chewed the cud upon this insinuation, while the other personages of the drama were employed in catching the horses, which had given their riders the slip. As for Mr. Sycamore, he was so bruised by his fall, that it was necessary to procure a litter for conveying him to the next town, and the servant was despatched for this convenience, Sir Launcelot staying with him until it arrived.

When he was safely deposited in the carriage, our hero took leave of him in these terms: “I shall not insist upon your submitting to the terms you yourself proposed before this rencontre. I give you free leave to use all your advantages, in an honourable way, for promoting your suit with the young lady of whom you profess yourself enamoured. Should you have recourse to sinister practices, you will find Sir Launcelot Greaves ready to demand an account of your conduct, not in the character of a lunatic knight-errant, but as a plain English gentleman, jealous of his honour, and resolute in his purpose.”

To this address Mr. Sycamore made no reply, but with a sullen aspect ordered the carriage to proceed; and it moved accordingly to the right, our hero’s road to London lying in the other direction.

Sir Launcelot had already exchanged his armour for a riding-coat, hat, and boots; and Crowe, parting with his skull-cap and leathern jerkin, regained, in some respects, the appearance of a human creature. Thus metamorphosed, they pursued their way in an easy pace, Mr. Clarke endeavouring to amuse them with a learned dissertation on the law, tending to demonstrate that Mr. Sycamore was, by his behaviour on that day, liable to three different actions, besides a commission of lunacy; and that Dawdle might be prosecuted for having practised subtle craft to the annoyance of his uncle, over and above an action for assault and battery; because, for why? The said Crowe having run away, as might be easily proved, before any blows were given, the said Dawdle, by pursuing him even out of the highroad, putting him in fear, and committing battery on his body, became to all intents and purposes the aggressor; and an indictment would lie in Banco Regis.

The captain’s pride was so shocked at these observations, that he exclaimed with equal rage and impatience, “You lie, you dog, in Bilcum Regis—you lie, I say, you lubber, I did not run away; nor was I in fear, d’ye see. It was my son of a bitch of a horse that would not obey the helm, d’ye see, whereby I cou’d n’t use my metal, d’ye see. As for the matter of fear, you and fear may kiss my—So don’t go and heave your stink-pots at my character, d’ye see, or—agad I’ll trim thee fore and aft with a—I wool.” Tom protested he meant nothing but a little speculation, and Crowe was appeased.

In the evening they reached the town of Bugden without any farther adventure, and passed the night in great tranquillity.

Next morning, even after the horses were ordered to be saddled, Mr. Clarke, without ceremony, entered the apartment of Sir Launcelot, leading in a female, who proved to be the identical Mrs. Dolly Cowslip. This young woman, advancing to the knight, cried, “O Sir Launcelot! my dear leady, my dear leady!”—but was hindered from proceeding by a flood of tears, which the tender-hearted lawyer mingled with a plentiful shower of sympathy.

Our adventurer starting at this exclamation, “O heavens!” cried he, “where is my Aurelia? speak, where did you leave that jewel of my soul? answer me in a moment—I am all terror and impatience!”

Dolly, having recollected herself, told him that Mr. Darnel had lodged his niece in the new buildings by May Fair; that, on the second night after their arrival, a very warm expostulation had passed between Aurelia and her uncle, who next morning dismissed Dolly, without permitting her to take leave of her mistress, and that same day moved to another part of the town, as she afterwards learned of the landlady, though she could not inform her whither they were gone. That, when she was turned away, John Clump, one of the footmen, who pretended to have a kindness for her, had faithfully promised to call upon her, and let her know what passed in the family; but as he did not keep his word, and she was an utter stranger in London, without friends or settlement, she had resolved to return to her mother, and travelled so far on foot since yesterday morning.

Our knight, who had expected the most dismal tidings from her lamentable preamble, was pleased to find his presaging fears disappointed; though he was far from being satisfied with the dismission of Dolly, from whose attachment to his interest, joined to her influence over Mr. Clump, he had hoped to reap such intelligence as would guide him to the haven of his desires. After a minute’s reflection, he saw it would be expedient to carry back Mrs. Cowslip, and lodge her at the place where Mr. Clump had promised to visit her with intelligence; for, in all probability, it was not for want of inclination that he had not kept his promise.

Dolly did not express any aversion to the scheme of returning to London, where she hoped once more to rejoin her dear lady, to whom by this time she was attached by the strongest ties of affection; and her inclination in this respect was assisted by the consideration of having the company of the young lawyer, who, it plainly appeared, had made strange havoc in her heart, though it must be owned, for the honour of this blooming damsel, that her thoughts had never once deviated from the paths of innocence and virtue. The more Sir Launcelot surveyed this agreeable maiden, the more he felt himself disposed to take care of her fortune; and from this day he began to ruminate on a scheme which was afterwards consummated in her favour. In the meantime he laid injunctions on Mr. Clarke to conduct his addresses to Mrs. Cowslip according to the rules of honour and decorum, as he valued his countenance and friendship. His next step was to procure a saddle-horse for Dolly, who preferred this to any other sort of carriage, and thereby gratified the wish of her admirer, who longed to see her on horseback in her green joseph.

The armour, including the accoutrements of the novice and the squire, were left in the care of the inn-keeper, and Timothy Crabshaw was so metamorphosed by a plain livery-frock, that even Gilbert with difficulty recognised his person. As for the novice Crowe, his head had almost resumed its natural dimensions, but then his whole face was so covered with a livid suffusion, his nose appeared so flat, and his lips so tumefied, that he might very well have passed for a Caffre or Ethiopian. Every circumstance being now adjusted, they departed from Bugden in a regular cavalcade, dined at Hatfield, and in the evening arrived at the Bull and Gate Inn in Holborn, where they established their quarters for the night.

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