Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 7, Chapter 13

By Henry Fielding

Book 7, Chapter 13

Containing the Great Address of the Landlady; the Great Learning of a Surgeon, and the Solid Skill in Casuistry of the Worthy Lieutenant

  • Once Tom has been taken to bed to recover, the landlady of the inn strikes up a conversation with the lieutenant.
  • She assumes that it all must be Tom's fault that he's had his head broken, since he's just a recruit and the other men at the table are all officers.
  • The lieutenant tells her she's wrong: Tom is a greater gentleman than his attacker.
  • As the landlady and the lieutenant are chatting, the surgeon arrives.
  • The surgeon talks (a lot) and tries to sound like he knows what he's talking about.
  • But basically, he is a complete fraud.
  • The lieutenant thinks (from this quack's report) that Tom may be on the verge of death.
  • So he makes sure that Northerton is under guard.
  • If Tom dies, he plans to prosecute the man for murder.
  • The lieutenant goes to visit Tom on his deathbed.
  • But in fact, Tom's pretty much fine.
  • His head's a bit sore, but he's only staying in bed because the doctor insists he has to.
  • The lieutenant offers him the chance to challenge Northerton to a duel as soon as he's up to it.
  • Tom's a hothead, so of course he jumps at the chance.
  • He wants to duel right now—his honor is at stake!
  • But Tom is a bit worried that it's against his religion to be so unmerciful.
  • The lieutenant scoffs: religion is important, but honor is even more vital.
  • Tom still hasn't totally resolved this violence-vs.-the-demands-of-his-religion thing.