Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 7, Chapter 14

By Henry Fielding

Book 7, Chapter 14

A Most Dreadful Chapter Indeed; And Which Few Readers Ought to Venture Upon In An Evening, Especially When Alone

  • Tom now feels totally recovered.
  • Tom is still in bed, but he wants to arrange for a sword so that he can go fight Northerton.
  • The regiment's sergeant has heard that Tom is at death's door.
  • So he thinks Tom is asking for a sword out of delirium.
  • The sergeant decides this is a chance for him to make some cash.
  • The sergeant asks for a huge price—twenty guineas—for his spare sword.
  • Tom is so offended by that price that he threatens to tell the lieutenant that the sergeant tried to cheat him.
  • Suddenly, the sergeant realizes that he's got this whole thing totally wrong: Tom's not hallucinating.
  • He pretends that he was asking twenty shillings for the sword.
  • Tom hands the sergeant a single guinea and takes the sword.
  • Tom gets up, dresses, and slips out, ready to face down Northerton.
  • Now, remember: (a) his clothes are covered in blood, (b) his head is heavily wrapped in bandages; and (c) he's carrying a sword in one hand and a candle in the other.
  • In fact, he looks like a horrifying ghost.
  • The guard at Northerton's door spots Tom and panics.
  • He shoots at Tom (luckily, he misses) and falls face-first to the ground.
  • As Tom looks around for Northerton (who seems to be missing), this guard lies on the ground writhing and thinking that Tom's ghost is prowling around.
  • Eventually, some other soldiers notice that the guard appears to be lying on the floor groaning.
  • The guard swears up and down that he saw the murdered ghost of Tom come to get revenge on Northerton.
  • The lieutenant doesn't believe in ghosts, unluckily for this guard.
  • So now, the guard gets arrested for letting Northerton escape.