(Fielding has some harsh things to say about Methodism. See our "Character Analyses" of Elizabeth and Richard Whitefield for a discussion of his prejudice. We also talk more about Fielding's blending of real places and fictional events in our section on "Setting.")
Mrs. Whitefield invites Tom to dinner, along with a lawyer from Salisbury and a "petty-fogger."
(A "petty-fogger," or "pettifogger" now, is a low-grade, unethical lawyer who deals only in minor cases—in other words, an ambulance chaser.)
The lawyer from Salisbury (Dowling is his name) is the same guy who delivered the news of Bridget's death to Mr. Blifil that one time (back in Book 5, Chapter 9).
Dowling recognizes Tom vaguely, and starts asking lots of questions about Squire Allworthy and his family.
Dowling keeps acting as though the squire is some great friend of his.
As soon as Tom finishes eating and leaves the table, the two lawyers tear into him.
The petty-fogger shares all of the rumors he has ever heard about Tom and his behavior.
He claims that Tom broke Mr. Thwackum's arm and then fired a pistol at Mr. Blifil's back.
After the lawyers take off, Tom asks if Mrs. Whitefield will have tea with him.
She refuses coldly, since she now believes that Tom is a violent rascal.
Tom is so offended by Mrs. Whitefield's sudden change of manner that he pays his bill and leaves right then.