§ 20

Daniel Defoe

WE LIVED here very easy and quiet, and yet I cannot say I was so in my mind. I was like a fish out of water; I was as gay and as young in my disposition as I was at five-and-twenty, and as I had always been courted, flattered, and used to love it, so I missed it in my conversation; and this put me many times upon looking back upon things past.

I had very few moments in my life which in their reflection afforded me anything but regret, but of all the foolish actions I had to look back upon in my life, none looked so preposterous and so like distraction, nor left so much melancholy on my mind, as my parting with my friend the merchant of Paris, and the refusing him upon such honourable and just conditions as he had offered; and though on his just (which I called unkind) rejecting my invitation to come to him again I had looked on him with some disgust, yet now my mind ran upon him continually, and the ridiculous conduct of my refusing him, and I could never be satisfied about him. I flattered myself that if I could but see him I could yet master him, and that he would presently forget all that had passed that might be thought unkind; but as there was no room to imagine anything like that to be possible, I threw those thoughts off again as much as I could.

However, they continually returned, and I had no rest night or day for thinking of him whom I had forgot above eleven years. I told Amy of it, and we talked it over sometimes in bed, almost whole nights together. At last Amy started a thing of her own head which put it in a way of management, though a wild one too. “You are so uneasy, madam,” says she, “about this Mr. —— the merchant at Paris; come,” says she, “if you’ll give me leave I’ll go over and see what’s become of him.”

“Not for ten thousand pounds,” said I; “no, nor if you met him in the street, not to offer to speak to him on my account.” “No,” says Amy, “I would not speak to him at all, or if I did, I warrant you it shall not look to be upon your account; I’ll only enquire after him, and if he is in being, you shall hear of him; if not, you shall hear of him still, and that may be enough.”

“Why,” says I, “if you will promise me not to enter into anything relating to me with him, nor to begin any discourse at all unless he begins it with you, I could almost be persuaded to let you go and try.”

Amy promised me all that I desired, and in a word, to cut the story short, I let her go, but tied her up to so many particulars that it was almost impossible her going could signify anything; and had she intended to observe them she might as well have stayed at home as have gone, for I charged her if she came to see him she should not so much as take notice that she knew him again, and if he spoke to her she should tell him she was come away from me a great many years ago and knew nothing what was become of me; that she had been come over to France six years ago, and was married there and lived at Calais, or to that purpose.

Amy promised me nothing indeed, for, as she said, it was impossible for her to resolve what would be fit to do or not to do till she was there upon the spot, and had found out the gentleman or heard of him, but that then, if I would trust her as I had always done, she would answer for it that she would do nothing but what should be for my interest, and what she would hope I should be very well pleased with.

With this general commission, Amy, notwithstanding she had been so frighted at the sea, ventured her carcase once more by water, and away she goes to France. She had four articles of confidence in charge to enquire after for me, and, as I found by her, she had one for herself. I say four for me, because though her first and principal errand was to inform herself of my Dutch merchant, yet I gave her in charge to enquire, secondly, after my husband, whom I left a trooper in the Gendarmes; thirdly, after that rogue of a Jew, whose very name I hated, and of whose face I had such a frightful idea, that Satan himself could not counterfeit a worse; and lastly, after my foreign Prince. And she discharged herself very well of them all, though not so successful as I wished.

Amy had a very good passage over the sea, and I had a letter from her from Calais in three days after she went from London. When she came to Paris she wrote me an account, that as to her first and most important enquiry, which was after the Dutch merchant; her account was that he had returned to Paris, lived three years there and, quitting that city, went to live at Rouen. So away goes Amy for Rouen.

But as she was going to bespeak a place in the coach to Rouen, she meets very accidentally in the street with her gentleman, as I called him, that is to say, the Prince de ——’s gentleman, who had been her favourite, as above.

You may be sure there were several other kind things happened between Amy and him, as you shall hear afterwards. But the two main things were that Amy enquired about his lord, and had a full account of him; of which presently; and in the next place, telling him whither she was going, and for what. He bade her not go yet, for that he would have a particular account of it the next day from a merchant that knew him; and accordingly he brought her word the next day that he had been for six years before that gone for Holland, and that he lived there still.

This, I say, was the first news from Amy for some time—I mean about my merchant. In the meantime, Amy, as I have said, enquired about the other persons she had in her instructions. As for the Prince, the gentleman told her he was gone into Germany, where his estate lay, and that he lived there; that he had made great enquiry after me, that he (his gentleman) had made all the search he had been able, for me, but that he could not hear of me; that he believed if his lord had known I had been in England, he would have gone over to me, but that, after long enquiry, he was obliged to give it over, but that he verily believed if he could have found me he would have married me; and that he was extremely concerned that he could hear nothing of me.

I was not at all satisfied with Amy’s account but ordered her to go to Rouen herself, which she did, and there with much difficulty (the person she was directed to being dead)—I say with much difficulty, she came to be informed that my merchant had lived there two years or something more; but that having met with a very great misfortune, he had gone back to Holland, as the French merchant said, where he had stayed two years; but with this addition, viz. that he came back again to Rouen and lived in good reputation there another year, and afterwards he was gone to England, and that he lived in London. But Amy could by no means learn how to write to him there, till by great accident an old Dutch skipper who had formerly served him, coming to Rouen, Amy was told of it; and he told her that he lodged in Laurence Pountney Lane in London, but was to be seen every day upon the Exchange, in the French Walk.

This, Amy thought, it was time enough to tell me of when she came over, and besides, she did not find this Dutch skipper till she had spent four or five months, and been again at Paris and then come back to Rouen for further information. But in the meantime she wrote me from Paris, that he was not to be found by any means, that he had been gone from Paris seven or eight years, that she was told he had lived at Rouen and she was a-going thither to enquire, but that she had heard afterwards that he was gone also from thence to Holland, so she did not go.

This, I say, was Amy’s first account, and I, not satisfied with it, had sent her an order to go to Rouen to enquire there also, as above.

While this was negotiating, and I received these accounts from Amy at several times, a strange adventure happened to me which I must mention just here. I had been abroad to take the air as usual, with my Quaker, as far as Epping Forest, and we were driving back towards London, when on the road between Bow and Mile End two gentlemen on horseback came riding by, having overtaken the coach and passed it, and went forward towards London.

They did not ride apace, though they passed the coach, for we went very softly, nor did they look into the coach at all, but rode side by side, earnestly talking to one another and inclining their faces sideways a little towards one another, he that went nearest the coach with his face from it, and he that was furthest from the coach with his face towards it, and passing in the very next track to the coach, I could hear them talk Dutch very distinctly. But it is impossible to describe the confusion I was in when I plainly saw that the farthest of the two, him whose face looked towards the coach, was my friend the Dutch merchant of Paris.

If it had been possible to conceal my disorder from my friend the Quaker, I would have done it, but I found she was too well acquainted with such things not to take the hint. “Dost thou understand Dutch?” said she. “Why?” said I. “Why,” says she, “’tis easy to suppose that thou art a little concerned at somewhat those men say, I suppose they are talking of thee.” “Indeed, my good friend,” said I, “thou art mistaken this time, for I know very well what they are talking of, but ’tis all about ships and trading affairs.” “Well,” says she, “then one of them is a man friend of thine, or somewhat is the case, for though thy tongue will not confess it, thy face does.”

I was going to have told a bold lie and said I knew nothing of them, but I found it was impossible to conceal it, so I said, “Indeed, I think I know the farthest of them, but I have neither spoken to him nor so much as seen him for above eleven years.” “Well, then,” says she, “thou hast seen him with more than common eyes when thou didst see him, or else seeing him now would not be such a surprise to thee.” “Indeed,” said I, “’tis true I am a little surprised at seeing him just now, for I thought he had been in quite another part of the world, and I can assure you I never saw him in England in my life.” “Well, then, ’tis the more likely he is come over now on purpose to seek thee.” “No, no,” said I, “knight-errantry is over, women are not so hard to come at that men should not be able to please themselves without running from one kingdom to another.” “Well, well,” says she, “I would have him see thee for all that, as plainly as thou hast seen him.” “No, but he shan’t,” says I, “for I am sure he don’t know me in this dress, and I’ll take care he shan’t see my face if I can help it”; so I held up my fan before my face, and she saw me resolute in that, so she pressed me no further.

We had several discourses upon the subject, but still I let her know I was resolved he should not know me; but at last I confessed so much, that though I would not let him know who I was or where I lived, I did not care if I knew where he lived and how I might enquire about him. She took the hint immediately, and her servant being behind the coach, she called him to the coach side and bade him keep his eye upon that gentleman, and as soon as the coach came to the end of Whitechapel he should get down and follow him closely, so as to see where he put up his horse, and then to go into the inn and enquire, if he could, who he was and where he lived.

The fellow followed diligently to the gate of an inn in Bishopsgate Street, and seeing him go in, made no doubt but that he had him fast, but was confounded when upon enquiry he found the inn was a thoroughfare into another street, and that the two gentlemen had only rode through the inn as the way to the street where they were going, and so, in short, came back no wiser than he went.

My kind Quaker was more vexed at the disappointment, at least apparently so, than I was, and asking the fellow if he was sure he knew the gentleman again if he saw him, the fellow said he had followed him so close, and took so much notice of him in order to do his errand as it ought to be done, that he was very sure he should know him again, and that, besides, he was sure he should know his horse.

This part was indeed likely enough, and the kind Quaker, without telling me anything of the matter, caused her man to place himself just at the corner of Whitechapel Church Wall every Saturday in the afternoon, that being the day when the citizens chiefly ride abroad to take the air, and there to watch all the afternoon and look for him.

It was not till the fifth Saturday that her man came, I with a great deal of joy, and gave her an account that he had found out the gentleman; that he was a Dutchman, but a French merchant; that he came from Rouen, and his name was ——, and that he lodged at Mr. —— on Laurence Pountney Hill. I was surprised, you may be sure, when she came and told me one evening all the particulars, except that of having set her man to watch. “I have found out thy Dutch friend,” says she, “and can tell thee how to find him too.” I coloured again as red as fire. “Then thou hast dealt with the Evil One, friend,” said I very gravely. “No, no,” says she, “I have no familiar; but I tell thee I have found him for thee,” and his name is so-and-so, and he lives as above recited.

I was surprised again at this, not being able to imagine how she should come to know all this. However, to put me out of pain she told me what she had done. “Well,” said I, “thou art very kind, but this is not worth thy pains; for now I know it, ’tis only to satisfy my curiosity, for I shall not send to him upon any account.” “Be that as thou wilt,” says she; “besides,” added she, “thou art in the right to say so to me, for why should I be trusted with it? Though if I were, I assure thee, I should not betray thee.” “That is very kind,” said I, “and I believe thee; and assure thyself, if I do send to him, thou shalt know it, and be trusted with it too.”

During this interval of five weeks I suffered a hundred thousand perplexities of mind. I was thoroughly convinced I was right as to the person, that it was the man; I knew him so well, and saw him so plain, I could not be deceived. I drove out again in the coach (on pretence of air), almost every day, in hopes of seeing him again, but was never so lucky as to see him; and now I had made the discovery, I was as far to seek what measures to take as I was before.

To send to him, or speak to him first if I should see him, so as to be known to him, that I resolved not to do if I died for it; to watch him about his lodging, that was as much below my spirit as the other; so that, in a word, I was at a perfect loss how to act or what to do.

At length came Amy’s letter with the last account which she had at Rouen from the Dutch skipper, which, confirming the other, left me out of doubt that this was my man; but still no human invention could bring me to the speech of him in such a manner as would suit with my resolutions; for, after all, how did I know what his circumstances were? whether married or single? And if he had a wife, I know he was so honest a man he would not so much as converse with me, or so much as know me, if he met me in the street.

In the next place, as he had entirely neglected me, which, in short, is the worst way of slighting a woman, and had given no answer to my letters, I did not know but he might be the same man still; so I resolved that I could do nothing in it unless some fairer opportunity presented which might make my way clearer to me, for I was determined he should have no room to put any more slights upon me.

In these thoughts I passed away near three months, till at last (being impatient) I resolved to send for Amy to come over and tell her how things stood, and that I would do nothing till she came. Amy in answer sent me word she would come away with all speed, but begged of me that I would enter into no engagement with him or anybody till she arrived; but still keeping me in the dark as to the thing itself which she had to say, at which I was heartily vexed, for many reasons.

But while all these things were transacting, and letters and answers passed between Amy and I a little slower than usual, at which I was not so well pleased as I used to be with Amy’s dispatch—I say in this time the following scene opened.

It was one afternoon about four o’clock, my friendly Quaker and I sitting in her chamber upstairs, and very cheerful, chatting together (for she was the best company in the world), when somebody ringing hastily at the door, and no servant just then in the way, she ran down herself to the door; when a gentleman appears with a footman attending, and making some apologies which she did not thoroughly understand, he speaking but broken English. He asked to speak with me by the very same name that I went by in her house; which, by the way, was not the name that he had known me by.

She with very civil language, in her way, brought him into a very handsome parlour below-stairs, and said she would go and see whether the person who lodged in her house owned that name, and he should hear further.

I was a little surprised even before I knew anything of who it was, my mind foreboding the thing as it happened (whence that arises, let the naturalists explain to us), but I was frighted and ready to die when my Quaker came up all gay and crowing. “There,” says she, “is the Dutch French merchant come to see thee.” I could not speak one word to her nor stir off my chair, but sat as motionless as a statue. She talked a thousand pleasant things to me, but they made no impression on me. At last she pulled me and teased me. “Come, come,” says she, “be thyself and rouse up, I must go down again to him; what shall I say to him?” “Say,” said I, “that you have no such body in the house.” “That I cannot do,” says she, “because it is not the truth; besides, I have owned thou art above. Come, come, go down with me.” “Not for a thousand guineas,” said I. “Well,” says she, “I’ll go and tell him thou wilt come quickly.” So, without giving me time to answer her, away she goes.

A million of thoughts circulated in my head while she was gone, and what to do I could not tell. I saw no remedy but I must speak with him, but would have given £500 to have shunned it; yet, had I shunned it, perhaps then I would have given £500 again that I had seen him. Thus fluctuating and unconcluding were my thoughts, what I so earnestly desired I declined when it offered itself, and what now I pretended to decline was nothing but what I had been at the expense of £40 or £50 to send Amy to France for, and even without any view, or indeed any rational expectation, of bringing it to pass; and what for half a year before I was so uneasy about, that I could not be quiet night or day, till Amy proposed to go over to enquire after him. In short, my thoughts were all confused and in the utmost disorder. I had once refused and rejected him, and I repented it heartily; then I had taken ill his silence, and in my mind rejected him again, but had repented that too. Now I had stooped so low as to send after him into France, which if he had known, perhaps he had never come after me; and should I reject him a third time! On the other hand, he had repented too in his turn perhaps, and not knowing how I had acted, either in stooping to send in search after him or in the wickeder part of my life, was come over hither to seek me again; and I might take him perhaps with the same advantages as I might have done before, and would I now be backward to see him! Well, while I was in this hurry, my friend the Quaker comes up again, and, perceiving the confusion I was in, she runs to her closet and fetched me a little pleasant cordial, but I would not taste it. “Oh,” says she, “I understand thee; be not uneasy, I’ll give thee something shall take off all the smell of it; if he kisses thee a thousand times he shall be no wiser.” I thought with myself, “Thou art perfectly acquainted with affairs of this nature, I think you must govern me now,” so I began to incline to go down with her. Upon that I took the cordial, and she gave me a kind of spicy preserve after it, whose flavour was so strong, and yet so deliciously pleasant, that it would cheat the nicest smelling, and it left not the least taint of the cordial on the breath.

Well, after this (though with some hesitation still) I went down a pair of back-stairs with her and into a dining-room, next to the parlour in which he was, but there I halted and desired she would let me consider of it a little. “Well, do so,” says she, and left me with more readiness than she did before; “do consider, and I’ll come to thee again.”

Though I hung back with an awkwardness that was really unfeigned, yet when she so readily left me, I thought it was not so kind, and I began to think she should have pressed me still on to it; so foolishly backward are we to the thing which of all the world we most desire, mocking ourselves with a feigned reluctance when the negative would be death to us. But she was too cunning for me, for while I, as it were, blamed her in my mind for not carrying me to him, though at the same time I appeared backward to see him, on a sudden she unlocks the folding-doors which looked into the next parlour, and throwing them open, “There,” says she, ushering him in, ”is the person whom I suppose thou enquireth for “; and the same moment, with a kind decency she retired, and that so swift that she would not give us leave hardly to know which way she went.

I stood up, but was confounded with a sudden enquiry in my thoughts how I should receive him, and with a resolution as swift as lightning, in answer to it, said to myself, “It shall be coldly “; so on a sudden I put on an air of stiffness and ceremony, and held it for about two minutes, but it was with great difficulty.

He restrained himself too, on the other hand, came towards me gravely, and saluted me in form; but it was, it seems, upon his supposing the Quaker was behind him, whereas she, as I said, understood things too well, and had retired as if she had vanished, that we might have full freedom. For, as she said afterwards, she supposed we had seen one another before, though it might have been a great while ago.

Whatever stiffness I had put on my behaviour to him, I was surprised in my mind and angry at his, and began to wonder what kind of a ceremonious meeting it was to be. However, after he perceived the woman was gone, he made a kind of a hesitation, looking a little round him. “Indeed,” said he, “I thought the gentlewoman was not withdrawn,” and with that he took me in his arms and kissed me three or four times; but I, that was prejudiced to the last degree with the coldness of his first salutes when I did not know the cause of it, could not be thoroughly cleared of the prejudice though I did know the cause, and thought that even his return and taking me in his arms did not seem to have the same ardour with which he used to receive me, and this made me behave to him awkwardly, and I know not how, for a good while. But this by the way.

He began with a kind of ecstasy upon the subject of his finding me out; how it was possible that he should have been four years in England and had used all the ways imaginable, and could never so much as have the least intimation of me or of any one like me; and that it was now above two years that he had despaired of it, and had given over all enquiry; and that now he should chop upon me, as it were, unlooked and unsought for.

I could easily have accounted for his not finding me if I had but set down the detail of my real retirement, but I gave it a new, and indeed a truly hypocritical turn. I told him that any one that knew the manner of life I led might account for his not finding me; that the retreat I had taken up would have rendered it a hundred thousand to one odds that he ever found me at all; that as I had abandoned all conversation, taken up another name, lived remote from London, and had not preserved one acquaintance in it, it was no wonder he had not met with me; that even my dress would let him see that I did not desire to be known by anybody.

Then he asked if I had not received some letters from him. I told him, no, he had not thought fit to give me the civility of an answer to the last I wrote to him, and he could not suppose I should expect a return after a silence in a case where I had laid myself so low and exposed myself in a manner I had never been used to; that indeed I had never sent for any letters after that to the place where I had ordered his to be directed; and that being so justly, as I thought, punished for my weakness, I had nothing to do but to repent of being a fool, after I had strictly adhered to a just principle before. That, however, as what I did was rather from motions of gratitude than from real weakness, however it might be construed by him, I had the satisfaction in myself of having fully discharged the debt. I added that I had not wanted occasions of all the seeming advancements which the pretended felicity of a married life was usually set off with, and might have been what I desired not to name; but that, however low I had stooped to him, I had maintained the dignity of female liberty against all the attacks either of pride or avarice, and that I had been infinitely obliged to him for giving me an opportunity to discharge the only obligation that endangered me, without subjecting me to the consequence; and that I hoped he was satisfied I had paid the debt, by offering myself to be chained, but was infinitely debtor to him another way, for letting me remain free.

He was so confounded at this discourse that he knew not what to say, and for a good while he stood mute indeed, but, recovering himself a little, he said I ran out into a discourse he hoped was over and forgotten, and he did not intend to revive it; that he knew I had not had his letters, for that when he first came to England he had been at the place to which they were directed, and found them all lying there but one, and that the people had not known how to deliver them; that he thought to have had a direction there how to find me, but had the mortification to be told that they did not so much as know who I was; that he was under a great disappointment, and that I ought to know, in answer to all my resentments, that he had done a long, and (he hoped) a sufficient penance for the slight that I had supposed he had put upon me; that it was true (and I could not suppose any other) that upon the repulse I had given him in a case so circumstanced as his was, and after such earnest entreaties and such offers as he had made me, he went away with a mind heartily grieved and full of resentment; that he had looked back on the crime he had committed, with some regret, but on the cruelty of my treatment of the poor infant I went with at that time, with the utmost detestation, and that this made him unable to send an agreeable answer to me, for which reason he had sent none at all for some time; but that in about six or seven months, those resentments wearing off by the return of his affection to me and his concern in the poor child——. There he stopped, and indeed tears stood in his eyes, while in a parenthesis he only added, and to this minute he did not know whether it was dead or alive. He then went on, those resentments wearing off; he sent me several letters, I think he said seven or eight, but received no answer; that then his business obliging him to go to Holland, he came to England, as in his way, but found as above that his letters had not been called for, but that he left them at the house after paying the postage of them, and then going back to France, he was yet uneasy and could not refrain the knight-errantry of coming to England again to seek me, though he knew neither where or of whom to enquire for me, being disappointed in all his enquiries before. That he had yet taken up his residence here, firmly believing that one time or other he should meet me or hear of me, and that some kind chance would at last throw him in my way; that he had lived thus above four years, and though his hopes were vanished, yet he had not any thoughts of removing any more in the world, unless it should be at last, as it is with other old men, he might have some inclination to go home to die in his own country, but that he had not thought of it yet; that if I would consider all these steps I would find some reasons to forget his first resentments, and to think that penance, as he called it, which he had undergone in search of me, an amende honorable in reparation of the affront given to the kindness of my letter of invitation, and that we might at last make ourselves some satisfaction on both sides for the mortifications past.

I confess I could not hear all this without being moved very much, and yet I continued a little stiff and formal too a good while. I told him that before I could give him any reply to the rest of his discourse, I ought to give him the satisfaction of telling him that his son was alive; and that indeed, since I saw him so concerned about it and mention it with such affection, I was sorry that I had not found out some way or other to let him know it sooner, but that I thought, after his slighting the mother, as above, he had summed up his affection to the child, in the letter he had wrote to me about providing for it, and that he had, as other fathers often do, looked upon it as a birth which, being out of the way, was to be forgotten, as its beginning was to be repented of; that in providing sufficiently for it, he had done more than all such fathers used to do, and might be well satisfied with it.

He answered me that he should have been very glad if I had been so good but to have given him the satisfaction of knowing the poor unfortunate creature was yet alive, and he would have taken some care of it upon himself, and particularly by owning it for a legitimate child, which, where nobody had known to the contrary, would have taken off the infamy which would otherwise cleave to it, and so the child should not itself have known anything of its own disaster; but that he feared it was now too late.

He added that I might see by all his conduct since that, what unhappy mistake drew him into the thing at first, and that he would have been very far from doing the injury to me or being instrumental to add une misérable (that was his word) to the world, if he had not been drawn into it by the hopes he had of making me his own; but that, if it was possible to rescue the child from the consequences of its unhappy birth, he hoped I would give him leave to do it, and he would let me see that he had both means and affection still to do it; and that, notwithstanding all the misfortunes that had befallen him, nothing that belonged to him, especially by a mother he had such a concern for as he had for me, should ever want what he was in a condition to do for it.

I could not hear this without being sensibly touched with it. I was ashamed that he should show that he had more real affection for the child, though he had never seen it in his life, than I that bore it, for indeed I did not love the child nor love to see it; and though I had provided for it, yet I did it by Amy’s hand, and had not seen it above twice in four years, being privately resolved that when it grew up, it should not be able to call me mother.

However, I told him the child was taken care of, and that he need not be anxious about it unless he suspected that I had less affection for it than he, that had never seen it in his life; that he knew what I had promised him to do for it, namely, to give it the thousand pistoles which I had offered him, and which he had declined; that I assured him I had made my will, and that I had left it £5,000 and the interest of it till he should come of age if I died before that time; that I would still be as good as that to it, but if he had a mind to take it from me into his government I would not be against it, and to satisfy him that I would perform what I said, I would cause the child to be delivered to him and the £5,000 also for its support, depending upon it that he would show himself a father to it, by what I saw of his affection to it now.

I had observed that he had hinted two or three times in his discourse his having had misfortunes in the world, and I was a little surprised at the expression, especially at the repeating it so often, but I took no notice of that part yet.

He thanked me for my kindness to the child, with a tenderness which showed the sincerity of all he had said before, and which increased the regret with which, as I said, I looked back on the little affection I had shown to the poor child. He told me he did not desire to take him from me, but so as to introduce him into the world as his own, which he could still do, having lived absent from his other children (for he had two sons and a daughter, which were brought up at Nimeguen in Holland with a sister of his) so long, that he might very well send another son of ten years old to be bred up with them and suppose his mother to be dead or alive, as he found occasion; and that as I had resolved to do so handsomely for the child, he would add to it something considerable; though, having had some great disappointments (repeating the words), he could not do for it as he would otherwise have done.

I then thought myself obliged to take notice of his having so often mentioned his having met with disappointments. I told him I was very sorry to hear he had met with anything afflicting to him in the world; that I would not have anything belonging to me add to his loss or weaken him in what he might do for his other children; and that I would not agree to his having the child away, though the proposal was infinitely to the child’s advantage, unless he would promise me that the whole expense should be mine, and that if he did not think £5,000 enough for the child, I would give it more.

We had so much discourse upon this and the old affairs, that it took up all our time at his first visit. I was a little importunate with him to tell me how he came to find me out, but he put it off for that time, and only obtaining my leave to visit me again, he went away; and indeed my heart was so full with what he had said already, that I was glad when he went away. Sometimes I was full of tenderness and affection for him, and especially when he expressed himself so earnestly and passionately about the child; other times I was crowded with doubts about his circumstances. Sometimes I was terrified with apprehensions lest if I should come into a close correspondence with him, he should any way come to hear what kind of life I had led at Pall Mall and in other places, and it might make me miserable afterwards; from which last thought I concluded that I had better repulse him again, than receive him. All these thoughts and many more crowded in so fast, I say, upon me, that I wanted to give vent to them and get rid of him, and was very glad when he was gone away.

We had several meetings after this, in which still we had so many preliminaries to go through, that we scarce ever bordered upon the main subject; once indeed he said something of it, and I put it off with a kind of a jest. “Alas!” says I, “those things are out of the question now; ’tis almost two ages since those things were talked between us,” says I; “you see I am grown an old woman since that.” Another time he gave a little push at it again, and I laughed again. “Why, what dost thou talk of?” said I in a formal way, “dost thou not see I am turned Quaker? I cannot speak of those things now.” “Why,” says he, “the Quakers marry, as well as other people, and love one another as well; besides,” says he, “the Quaker’s dress does not ill become you “; and so jested with me again, and so it went off for a third time. However, I began to be kind to him in process of time, as they call it, and we grew very intimate, and if the following accident had not unluckily intervened, I had certainly married him, or consented to marry him, the very next time he had asked me.

Roxana - Contents    |     § 21

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