The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom HTML version

Chapter 28
Some Account Of His Fellow-Travellers.
Those who had taken places for the coach, understanding the sixth seat was
engaged by a foreigner, determined to profit by his ignorance; and, with that
politeness which is peculiar to this happy island, fixed themselves in the vehicle,
in such a manner, before he had the least intimation of their design, that he found
it barely practicable to insinuate himself sidelong between a corpulent quaker
and a fat Wapping landlady, in which attitude he stuck fast, like a thin quarto
between two voluminous dictionaries on a bookseller's shelf. And, as if the pain
and inconvenience of such compression was not sufficient matter of chagrin, the
greatest part of the company entertained themselves with laughing at his
ludicrous station.
The jolly dame at his left hand observed, with a loud exclamation of mirth, that
monsieur would be soon better acquainted with a buttock of English beef; and
said, by that time they should arrive at their dining-place, he might be spitted
without larding. "Yes, verily," replied Obadiah, who was a wag in his way, "but the
swine's fat will be all on one side."--"So much the better for you," cried mine
hostess, "for that side is all your own." The quaker was not so much disconcerted
by the quickness of this repartee, but that he answered with great deliberation, "I
thank thee for thy love, but will not profit by thy loss, especially as I like not the
savour of these outlandish fowls; they are profane birds of passage, relished only
by the children of vanity, like thee."
The plump gentlewoman took umbrage at this last expression, which she
considered as a double reproach, and repeated the words, "Children of vanity!"
with an emphasis of resentment. "I believe, if the truth were known," said she,
"there's more vanity than midriff in that great belly of yours, for all your pretending
to humility and religion. Sirrah! my corporation is made up of good, wholesome,
English fat; but you are puffed up with the wind of vanity and delusion; and when
it begins to gripe your entrails, you pretend to have a motion, and then get up
and preach nonsense. Yet you'll take it upon you to call your betters children.
Marry come up, Mr. Goosecap, I have got children that are as good men as you,
or any hypocritical trembler in England."
A person who sat opposite to the quaker, hearing this remonstrance, which
seemed pregnant with contention, interposed in the conversation with a
conscious leer, and begged there might be no rupture between the spirit and the
flesh. By this remonstrance he relieved Obadiah from the satire of this female
orator, and brought the whole vengeance of her elocution upon his own head.
"Flesh!" cried she, with all the ferocity of an enraged Thalestris; "none of your
names, Mr. Yellowchaps. What! I warrant you have an antipathy to flesh,
because you yourself are nothing but skin and bone. I suppose you are some
poor starved journeyman tailor come from France, where you have been learning
to cabbage, and have not seen a good meal of victuals these seven years. You
have been living upon rye-bread and soup-maigre, and now you come over like a