Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 17, Chapter 9

By Henry Fielding

Book 17, Chapter 9

What Happened to Mr. Jones in the Prison

  • Mr. Nightingale comes back a full day later to see Tom in prison.
  • He has tracked down the group of sailors who saw the duel with Mr. Fitzpatrick.
  • Apparently, all the witnesses disagree with Tom's account.
  • They say that Tom was the one who struck first.
  • Tom doesn't understand why they wouldn't tell the truth.
  • And as Mr. Nightingale points out, a jury will definitely not believe Tom's word against a bunch of witnesses.
  • Mrs. Miller comes in just then to say that Sophia refuses to send a letter back to Tom.
  • Tom decides that he doesn't care what happens to him.
  • If he is executed, that's fine—it will also help him to atone for (apparently) killing Mr. Fitzpatrick.
  • A jailer arrives to say that a woman is here to see him.
  • It is absolutely the last person that Tom might have guessed: Mrs. Waters. (Remember, the captain's "wife" from Books 9 and 10?)
  • Ever since that coach ride from Upton, Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mrs. Waters have been living together as man and wife.
  • After the duel, Mr. Fitzpatrick has been a bit confused, and it takes some time for Mrs. Waters to put two and two together.
  • But finally, she realizes that her Tom is the guy who injured Mr. Fitzpatrick.
  • She immediately runs off to the prison to visit him.
  • She asks why Tom is looking so gloomy.
  • She quickly reassures Tom that nothing really bad has happened: Mr. Fitzpatrick isn't going to die.
  • And Mr. Fitzpatrick has been telling everyone that he's the one who attacked Tom.
  • So no one is holding Tom responsible for the duel.
  • Tom is thrilled!
  • Mrs. Waters tells him to cheer up.
  • She's sure he'll be free soon.
  • Mrs. Waters is starting to get a little annoyed with Tom's regretful moralizing about the mistakes of his past.
  • He seems very different now than when they jumped into bed together at Upton.