While this passed Mr. Prettyman was by no means in an enviable condition. From the operation of fear and vexation he perspired very profusely. Vanity, as we have said, might almost be termed his ruling passion, and he would never have sacrificed it so publicly to any consideration less immediate than that of personal safety. Ardently did he long to have the terrible scene concluded. But he had neither strength nor spirits to advance a step, or even to rise from his seat.
Sir William Twyford now came up to him, and took hold of his hand. “My dear friend,” said he, “be not dispirited. It is no more than a flea-bite, and it will be over in a moment. You will acquire the friendship of the first personage in the county, and far from losing any thing in the public esteem, you will be more respected than ever.” “Morbleu,” cried the beau, “my shoulders ake for it already. But, mon tres cher & tres excellent ami, do not desert me, and remind the peer of the generosity you talked of.”
Sir William now raised him from his seat, and led him to the middle of the room. Lord Martin, with a stately air, advanced a few steps. In spite however of all the heroism he could assume, as the important affair drew towards a crisis, he began to tremble. Mr. Prettyman fell upon his knees, and sir William put a cane into his hand. But in this posture the beau remained still somewhat taller than his antagonist. “Most worthy lord,” cried he in a tremulous voice, “I am truly sorry for the misunderstanding that has happened, and I am filled with the most ardent”——While he was yet speaking he advanced the cane in the attitude of presenting it. “Villain,” said lord Martin, who between fear and rage could no longer contain himself, and snatched it from his hand. But he could scarcely reach beyond the shoulder of his enemy, and blinded with emotion and exertion, instead of directing his blows as he ought to have done, he struck him two or three very severe strokes on the head and face. The beau bore it as long as he could. But at length bellowing out, “Mon Dieu, je suis meurtrie, I am beaten to a jelly,” he rose from his knees. His antagonist being between him and the door, he fairly threw him upon his back, and flying out of the room he stopped not till he arrived at the inn, where, ordering his phaeton and six, he ascended without a moment’s pause, and drove off for London.
In the mean time, every thing in the public room was in confusion and disorder. Sir William flew to support the discomfited hero, who had received a grievous contusion in his shoulder. Miss Griskin giggled, the other ladies screamed, and Miss Languish, as usual, fainted away. “Bless me,” cried Miss Fletcher, “it is the queerest affair”—“By my troth,” said Miss Gawky, “it is vastly fine.” “But not half so fine,” cried Miss Griskin, “as the buttocks of beef.”