But I was quite of another side, nay, and my judgmemt was right, but my circumstances were my temptation; the terrors behind me looked blacker than the terrors before me, and the dreadful argument of wanting bread, and being run into the horrible distresses I was in before, mastered all my resolution, and I gave myself up, as above.
The rest of the evening we spent very agreeably to me; he was perfectly good-humoured and was at that time very merry. Then he made Amy dance with him, and I told him I would put Amy to bed to him. Amy said, with all her heart; she never had been a bride in her life. In short, he made the girl so merry, that had he not been to lie with me the same night, I believe he would have played the fool with Amy for half an hour, and the girl would no more have refused him than I intended to do. Yet before, I had always found her a very modest wench as any I ever saw in all my life, but, in short, the mirth of that night and a few more such afterwards ruined the girl’s modesty for ever, as shall appear by and by in its place.
So far does fooling and toying sometimes go, that I know nothing a young woman has to be more cautious of. So far had this innocent girl gone in jesting between her and I, and in talking that she would let him lie with her if he would but be kinder to me, that at last she let him lie with her in earnest; and so empty was I now of all principle, that I encouraged the doing it almost before my face.
I say but too justly that I was empty of principle, because, as above, I had yielded to him, not as deluded to believe it lawful, but as overcome by his kindness and terrified at the fear of my own misery if he should leave me. So with my eyes open and with my conscience, as I may say, awake, I sinned, knowing it to be a sin but having no power to resist. When this had thus made a hole in my heart, and I was come to such a height as to transgress against the light of my own conscience, I was then fit for any wickedness, and conscience left off speaking where it found it could not be heard.
But to return to our story. Having consented, as above, to his proposal, we had not much more to do. He gave me my writings, and the bond for my maintenance during his life and for £500 after his death; and so far was he from abating his affection to me afterwards, that two years after we were thus, as he called it, married, he made his will and gave me £1,000 more, and all my household stuff, plate, etc., which was considerable too.
Amy put us to bed, and my new friend (I cannot call him husband) was so well pleased with Amy for her fidelity and kindness to me, that he paid her all the arrears of her wages that I owed her, and gave her five guineas over; and had it gone no further, Amy had richly deserved what she had, for never was a maid so true to a mistress in such dreadful circumstances as I was in. Nor was what followed more her own fault than mine, who led her almost into it at first and quite into it at last; and this may be a further testimony what a hardness of crime I was now arrived to, which was owing to the conviction that was from the beginning upon me, that I was a whore, not a wife, nor could I ever frame my mouth to call him husband or to say “my husband” when I was speaking of him.
We lived surely the most agreeable life, the grand exception only excepted, that ever two lived together. He was the most obliging, gentlemanly man and the most tender of me that ever woman gave herself up to; nor was there ever the least interruption to our mutual kindness, no, not to the last day of his life. But I must bring Amy’s disaster in at once, that I may have done with her.
Amy was dressing me one morning, for now I had two maids, and Amy was my chamber-maid. “Dear madam,” says Amy, “what! ain’t you with child yet?” “No, Amy,” says I, “nor any sign of it.” “Law, madam,” says Amy, ”what have you been doings. Why, you have been married a year and a half; I warrant you master would have got me with child twice in that time.” “It may be so, Amy,” says I, “let him try, can’t you.” “No,” says Amy, “you’ll forbid it now; I told you he should with all my heart, but I won’t now, now he’s all your own.” “Oh,” says I, “Amy, I’ll freely give you my consent, it will be nothing at all to me; nay, I’ll put you to bed to him myself one night or other if you are willing.” “No, madam, no,” says Amy, “not now he’s yours.”
“Why, you fool you,” says I, “don’t I tell you I’ll put you to bed to him myself.”
“Nay, nay,” says Amy, “if you put me to bed to him, that’s another case; I believe I shall not rise again very soon.”
“I’ll venture that, Amy,” says I.
After supper that night, and before we were risen from table, I said to him, Amy being by, “Hark ye, Mr. ——, do you know that you are to lie with Amy to-night?” “No, not I,” says he; but turns to Amy, “Is it so, Amy?” says he. “No, sir,” says she. “Nay, don’t say no, you fool; did not I promise to put you to bed to him?” But the girl said no still, and it passed off.
At night, when we came to go to bed, Amy came into the chamber to undress me, and her master slipped into bed first. Then I began and told him all that Amy had said about my not being with child, and of her being with child twice in that time. “Ay, Mrs. Amy,” says he, “I believe so too; come hither and we’ll try.” But Amy did not go. “Go, you fool,” says I, “can’t you; I freely give you both leave.” But Amy would not go. “Nay, you whore,” says I, “you said if I would put you to bed you would with all your heart “; and with that I sat her down, pulled off her stockings and shoes, and all her clothes, piece by piece, and led her to the bed to him. ”Here,” says I, “try what you can do with your maid Amy.” She pulled back a little, would not let me pull off her clothes at first, but it was hot weather and she had not many clothes on, and particularly no stays on; and at last, when she saw I was in earnest, she let me do what I would; so I fairly stripped her, and then I threw open the bed and thrust her in.
I need say no more; this is enough to convince anybody that I did not think him my husband, and that I had cast off all principle and all modesty and had effectually stifled conscience.
Amy, I dare say, began now to repent, and would fain have got out of bed again, but he said to her, “Nay, Amy, you see your mistress has put you to bed, ’tis all her doing, you must blame her.” So he held her fast, and the wench being naked in the bed with him, ’twas too late to look back, so she lay still and let him do what he would with her.
Had I looked upon myself as a wife, you cannot suppose I would have been willing to have let my husband lie with my maid, much less before my face, for I stood by all the while; but as I thought myself a whore, I cannot say but that it was something designed in my thoughts that my maid should be a whore too, and should not reproach me with it.
Amy, however, less vicious than I, was grievously out of sorts the next morning, and cried and took on most vehemently, that she was ruined and undone, and there was no pacifying her; she was a whore, a slut, and she was undone! undone! and cried almost all day. I did all I could to pacify her. “A whore!” says I; “well, and am not I a whore as well as you?” “No, no,” says Amy, “no, you are not, for you are married.” “Not I, Amy,” says I, “I do not pretend to it; he may marry you to-morrow if he will, for anything I could do to hinder it; I am not married, I do not look upon it as anything.” Well, all did not pacify Amy; she cried two or three days about it, but it wore off by degrees.
But the case differed between Amy and her master exceedingly; for Amy retained the same kind temper she always had, but on the contrary he was quite altered, for he hated her heartily, and could, I believe, have killed her after it; and he told me so, for he thought this a vile action, whereas what he and I had done he was perfectly easy in, thought it just, and esteemed me as much his wife as if we had been married from our youth and had neither of us known any other; nay, he loved me, I believe, as entirely as if I had been the wife of his youth; nay, he told me, it was true in one sense, that he had two wives, but that I was the wife of his affection, the other the wife of his aversion.
I was extremely concerned at the aversion he had taken to my maid Amy, and used my utmost skill to get it altered; for though he had indeed debauched the wench, I know that I was the principal occasion of it, and as he was the best-humoured man in the world, I never gave him over till I prevailed with him to be easy with her; and as I was now become the devil’s agent to make others as wicked as myself, I brought him to lie with her again several times after that, till at last, as the poor girl said, so it happened, and she was really with child.
She was terribly concerned at it, and so was he too. “Come, my dear,” says I, “when Rachel put her handmaid to bed to Jacob she took the children as her own. Don’t be uneasy, I’ll take the child as my own; had not I a hand in the frolic of putting her to bed to you? It was my fault as much as yours.” So I called Amy and encouraged her too, and told her that I would take care of the child and her too, and added the same argument to her. “For,” says I, “Amy, it was all my fault; did not I drag your clothes off your back and put you to bed to him?” Thus I, that had indeed been the cause of all the wickedness between them, encouraged them both when they had any remorse about it, and rather prompted them to go on with it than to repent of it.
When Amy grew big she went to a place I had provided for her, and the neighbours knew nothing but that Amy and I were parted. She had a fine child indeed, a daughter, and we had it nursed, and Amy came again in about half a year to live with her old mistress. But neither my gentleman nor Amy either cared for playing that game over again; for, as he said, the jade might bring him a houseful of children to keep.
We lived as merrily and as happily after this as could be expected, considering our circumstances; I mean as to the pretended marriage, etc. And as to that, my gentleman had not the least concern about him for it; but as much as I was hardened, and that was as much as I believe ever any wicked creature was, yet I could not help it; there was and would be hours of intervals and of dark reflections which came involuntarily in and thrust in sighs into the middle of all my songs, and there would be sometimes a heaviness of heart which intermingled itself with all my joy and which would often fetch a tear from my eye. And let others pretend what they will, I believe it impossible to be otherwise with anybody. There can be no substantial satisfaction in a life of known wickedness; conscience will, and does, often break in upon them at particular times, let them do what they can to prevent it.
But I am not to preach, but to relate; and whatever loose reflections were, and how often soever those dark intervals came on, I did my utmost to conceal them from him, ay, and to suppress and smother them too in myself, and to outward appearance we lived as cheerfully and as agreeably as it was possible for any couple in the world to live.
After I had thus lived with him something above two years, truly I found myself with child too. My gentleman was mightily pleased at it, and nothing could be kinder than he was in the preparations he made for me and for my lying-in, which was, however, very private, because I cared for as little company as possible, nor had I kept up my neighbourly acquaintance, so that I had nobody to invite upon such an occasion.
I was brought to bed very well (of a daughter too, as well as Amy), but the child died at about six weeks old; so all that work was to do over again, that is to say, the charge, the expense, the travel, etc.
The next year I made him amends, and brought him a son, to his great satisfaction. It was a charming child and he did very well. After this, my husband, as he called himself, came to me one evening and told me he had a very difficult thing happened to him, which he knew not what to do in or how to resolve about unless I would make him easy; this was, that his occasions required him to go over to France for about two months.
“Well, my dear,” says I, “and how shall I make you easy?”
“Why, by consenting to let me go,” says he; “upon which condition I’ll tell you the occasion of my going, that you may judge of the necessity there is for it on my side.” Then to make me easy in his going, he told me he would make his will before he went, which should be to my full satisfaction.
I told him the last part was so kind that I could not decline the first part, unless he would give me leave to add that if it was not for putting him to an extraordinary expense I would go over along with him.
He was so pleased with this offer that he told me he would give me full satisfaction for it, and accept of it too. So he took me to London with him the next day, and there he made his will, and showed it to me, sealed it before proper witnesses, and then gave it to me to keep. In this will he gave a thousand pounds to a person that we both knew very well, in trust, to pay it, with the interest from the time of his decease, to me or my assigns; then he willed the payment of my jointure, as he called it, viz. his bond of a hundred pounds, after his death, also he gave me all my household stuff, plate, etc.
This was a most engaging thing for a man to do to one under my circumstances, and it would have been hard, as I told him, to deny him anything or to refuse to go with him anywhere. So we settled everything as well as we could, left Amy in charge of the house, and for his other business, which was in jewels, he had two men he entrusted, whom he had good security for, and who managed for him and corresponded with him.
Things being thus concerted, we went away to France, arrived safe at Calais, and by easy journeys came in eight days more to Paris, where we lodged in the house of an English merchant of his acquaintance and were very courteously entertained.
My gentleman’s business was with some persons of the first rank, and to whom he had sold some jewels of very good value and received a great sum of money in specie, and, as he told me privately, he gained 3,000 pistoles by his bargain, but would not suffer the most intimate friend he had there to know what he had received, for it is not so safe a thing in Paris to have a great sum of money in keeping, as it might be in London.
We made this journey much longer than we intended, and my gentleman sent for one of his managers in London to come over to us to Paris with some diamonds, and sent him back to London again to fetch more. Then other business fell into his hands so unexpectedly, that I began to think we should take up our constant residence there, which I was not very averse to, it being my native country, and I spoke the language perfectly well. So we took a good house in Paris and lived very well there, and I sent for Amy to come over to me; for I lived gallantly, and my gentleman was two or three times going to keep me a coach, but I declined it, especially at Paris; but as they have those conveniences by the day there at a certain rate, I had an equipage provided for me whenever I pleased, and I lived here in a very good figure, and might have lived higher if I pleased.
But in the middle of all this felicity a dreadful disaster befell me, which entirely unhinged all my affairs and threw me back into the same state of life that I was in before; with this one happy exception, however, that whereas before I was poor even to misery, now I was not only provided for, but very rich.
My gentleman had the name in Paris for a very rich man, and indeed he was so, though not so immensely rich as people imagined; but that which was fatal to him was that he generally carried a shagreen case in his pocket, especially when he went to court or to the houses of any of the princes of the blood, in which he had jewels of very great value.
It happened one day, that being to go to Versailles to wait upon the Prince of ——, he came up into my chamber in the morning and laid out his jewel case, because he was not going to show any jewels, but to get a foreign bill accepted which he had received from Amsterdam. So when he gave me the case, he said, “My dear, I think I need not carry this with me, because it may be I may not come back till night, and it is too much to venture.” I returned “Then, my dear, you shan’t go.” “Why?” says he. “Because as they are too much for you, so you are too much for me to venture, and you shall not go unless you will promise me not to stay, so as to come back in the night.”
“I hope there’s no danger,” said he, “seeing I have nothing about me of any value; and therefore, lest I should, take that too,” says he, and gives me his gold watch, and a rich diamond which he had in a ring and always wore on his finger.
“Well, but, my dear,” says I, “you make me more uneasy now than before, for if you apprehend no danger, why do you use this caution? and if you apprehend there is danger, why do you go at all?”
“There is no danger,” says he, “if I do not stay late, and I do not design to do so.”
“Well, but promise me, then, that you won’t,” says I, “or else I cannot let you go.”
“I won’t indeed, my dear,” says he, “unless I am obliged to it. I assure you I do not intend it, but if I should, I am not worth robbing now, for I have nothing about me but about six pistoles in my little purse, and that little ring,” showing me a small diamond ring, worth about ten or twelve pistoles, which he put upon his finger in the room of the rich one he usually wore.
I still pressed him not to stay late, and he said he would not. “But if I am kept late,” says he, “beyond my expectation, I’ll stay all night and come next morning.” This seemed a very good caution, but still my mind was very uneasy about him, and I told him so, and entreated him not to go. I told him I did not know what might be the reason, but that I had a strange terror upon my mind about his going, and that, if he did go, I was persuaded some harm would attend him. He smiled, and returned, “Well, my dear, if it should be so, you are now richly provided for; all that I have here I give to you.” And with that he takes up the casket or case. “Here,” says he, “hold your hand, there is a good estate for you in this case; if anything happens to me, ’tis all your own, I give it you for yourself.” And with that he put the casket, the fine ring, and his gold watch all into my hands, and the key of his escritoire besides, adding, “And in my escritoire there is some money; ’tis all your own.”
I stared at him as if I was frighted, for I thought all his face looked like a death’s head, and then immediately I thought I perceived his head all bloody, and then his clothes looked bloody too; and immediately it all went off and he looked as he really did. Immediately I fell a-crying and hung about him. “My dear,” said I, “I am frighted to death; you shall not go; depend upon it, some mischief will befall you.” I did not tell him how my vapourish fancy had represented him to me; that, I thought, was not proper; besides, he would only have laughed at me, and would have gone away with a jest about it. But I pressed him seriously not to go that day, or, if he did, to promise me to come home to Paris again by daylight. He looked a little graver then than he did before, told me he was not apprehensive of the least danger; but if there was, he would either take care to come in the day or, as he had said before, would stay all night.
But all these promises came to nothing, for he was set upon in the open day and robbed by three men on horseback, masked, as he went; and one of them, who it seems rifled him while the rest stood to stop the coach, stabbed him into the body with a sword, so that he died immediately. He had a footman behind the coach whom they knocked down with the stock or butt end of a carbine. They were supposed to kill him because of the disappointment they met with in not getting his case or casket of diamonds, which they knew he carried about him; and this was supposed, because after they had killed him they made the coachman drive out of the road a long way over the heath till they came to a convenient place, where they pulled him out of the coach and searched his clothes more narrowly than they could do while he was alive.
But they found nothing but his little ring, six pistoles, and the value of about seven livres in small moneys.
This was a dreadful blow to me, though I cannot say I was so surprised as I should otherwise have been; for all the while he was gone my mind was oppressed with the weight of my own thoughts, and I was as sure that I should never see him any more, that I think nothing could be like it; the impression was so strong, that I think nothing could make so deep a wound that was imaginary, and I was so dejected and disconsolate, that when I received the news of his disaster, there was no room for any extraordinary alteration in me. I had cried all that day, ate nothing, and only waited, as I might say, to receive the dismal news, which I had brought to me about five o’clock in the afternoon.