The Adventures of Roderick Random HTML version

Chapter 14
We visit Strap's friend--a description of him--his advice--we go to Mr. Cringer's house--
are denied admittance--an Accident befalls Strap--his behaviour thereupon--an
extraordinary adventure occurs, in the course of which I lose all my money
In the afternoon my companion proposed to call at his friend's house, which, we were
informed, was in the neighbourhood, whither we accordingly went, and were so lucky as
to find him at home. This gentleman, who had come from Scotland three or four years
before, kept a school in town, where he taught the Latin, French, and Italian languages;
but what he chiefly professed was the pronunciation of the English tongue, after a
method more speedy and uncommon than any practised heretofore, and, indeed, if his
scholars spoke like their master, the latter part of his undertaking was certainly
performed to a tittle: for although I could easily understand every word of what I had
heard hitherto since I entered England, three parts in four of his dialect were as
unintelligible to me as if he had spoken in Arabic or Irish. He was a middle-sized man,
and stooped very much, though not above the age of forty; his face was frightfully pitted
with the small-pox, and his mouth extended from ear to ear. He was dressed in a night-
gown of plaid, fastened about his middle with a sergeant's old sash, and a tie-periwig
with a foretop three inches high, in the fashion of King Charles the Second's reign.
After he had received Strap, who was related to him, very courteously, he inquired of
him who I was; and being informed, he took me by the hand, telling me he was at
school with my father. When he understood my situation, he assured me that he would
do me all the service in his power, both by his advice and otherwise, and while he spoke
these words eyed me with great attention, walking round me several times, and
muttering, "Oh, dear! Oh, dear! fat a saight is here!" I soon guessed the reason of his
ejaculation, and said, "I suppose, sir, you are not pleased with my dress." "Dress,"
answered he, "you may caal it fat you please in your country, but I vow to Gad 'tis a
masquerade here. No Christian will admit such a figure into his house. Upon my
conscience, I wonder the dogs did not hunt you. Did you pass through St. James's
market? Bless my eyesaight! you are like a cousin-german of an ourangoutang." I
began to be a little serious at this discourse, and asked him, if he thought I should
obtain entrance to-morrow at the house of Mr. Cringer, on whom I chiefly depended for
an introduction into business? "Mr. Cringer, Mr. Cringer," replied he, scratching his
cheek, "may be a very honest gentleman--I know nothing to the contrary; but is your
sole dependence upon him? Who recommended you to him?" I pulled out Mr. Crab's
letter, and told him the foundation of my hopes, at which he stared at me, and repeated
"Oh dear! Oh dear!" I began to conceive bad omens from this behaviour of his, and
begged he would assist me with his advice, which he promised to give very frankly; and
as a specimen, directed us to a periwig warehouse in the neighbourhood, in order to be
accommodated; laying strong injunctions on me not to appear before Mr. Cringer till I
had parted with my carroty locks, which, he said, were sufficient to beget an antipathy