§ 29

Daniel Defoe

MY FAITHFUL AGENT the Quaker failed not to write to me immediately, but as she was a cunning as well as an honest woman, it presently occurred to her that this was a story which, whether true or false, was not very fit to come to my husband’s knowledge; that as she did not know what I might have been, or might have been called in former times, and how far there might have been something or nothing in it, so she thought if it was a secret I ought to have the telling of it myself, and if it was not, it might as well be public afterwards as now; and that, at least, she ought to leave it where she found it, and not hand it forwards to anybody without my consent. These prudent measures were inexpressibly kind as well as seasonable, for it had been likely enough that her letter might have come publicly to me, and though my husband would not have opened it, yet it would have looked a little odd that I should conceal its contents from him when I had pretended so much to communicate all my affairs.

In consequence of this wise caution my good friend only wrote me in a few words that the impertinent young woman had been with her, as she expected she would, and that she thought it would be very convenient that, if I could spare Cherry, I would send her up (meaning Amy), because she found there might be some occasion for her.

As it happened, this letter was enclosed to Amy herself, and not sent by the way I had at first ordered, but it came safe to my hands; and though I was alarmed a little at it, yet I was not acquainted with the danger I was in of an immediate visit from this teasing creature till afterwards; and I ran a greater risk indeed than ordinary, in that I did not send Amy up under thirteen or fourteen days, believing myself as much concealed at Tunbridge as if I had been at Vienna.

But the concern my faithful spy (for such my Quaker was now, upon the mere foot of her own sagacity)—I say her concern for me was my safety in this exigence, when I was, as it were, keeping no guard for myself; for finding Amy not come up, and that she did not know how soon this wild thing might put her designed ramble in practice, she sent a messenger to the captain’s wife’s house, where she lodged, to tell her that she wanted to speak with her. She was at the heels of the messenger, and came eager for some news, and hoped, she said, the lady (meaning me) had been come to town.

The Quaker, with as much caution as she was mistress of, not to tell a downright lie, made her believe she expected to hear of me very quickly; and frequently, by the by, speaking of being abroad to take the air, talked of the country about Bury, how pleasant it was, how wholesome, and how fine the air, how the downs about Newmarket were exceeding fine, and what a vast deal of company there was, now the Court was there; till at last the girl began to conclude that my ladyship was gone thither; for, she said, she knew I loved to see a great deal of company.

“Nay,” says my friend, “thou takest me wrong; I did not suggest,” says she, “that the person thou enquirest after is gone thither, neither do I believe she is, I assure you.” Well, the girl smiled, and let her know that she believed it for all that; so, to clinch it fast, “Verily,” says she with great seriousness, “thou dost not do well, for thou suspectest everything and believest nothing. I speak solemnly to thee that I do not believe they are gone that way; so if thou givest thyself the trouble to go that way, and art disappointed, do not say that I have deceived thee.” She knew well enough that if this did abate her suspicion, it would not remove it, and that it would do little more than amuse her; but by this she kept her in suspense till Amy came up, and that was enough.

When Amy came up she was quite confounded to hear the relation which the Quaker gave her, and found means to acquaint me of it, only letting me know, to my great satisfaction, that she would not come to Tunbridge first, but that she would certainly go to Newmarket or Bury first.

However, it gave me very great uneasiness, for as she resolved to ramble in search after me over the whole country, I was safe nowhere, no, not in Holland itself; so indeed I did not know what to do with her. And thus I had a bitter in all my sweet, for I was continually perplexed with this hussy and thought she haunted me like an evil spirit.

In the meantime Amy was next door to stark mad about her; she durst not see her at my lodgings, for her life, and she went days without number to Spitalfields, where she used to come, and to her former lodging, and could never meet with her. At length she took up a mad resolution that she would go directly to the captain’s house in Redriff and speak with her; it was a mad step, that’s true, but as Amy said she was mad, so nothing she could do could be otherwise. For if Amy had found her at Redriff, she (the girl) would have concluded presently that the Quaker had given her notice, and so that we were all of a knot, and that, in short, all she had said was right. But as it happened, things came to hit better than we expected; for that Amy, going out of a coach to take water at Tower Wharf, meets the girl just come on shore, having crossed the water from Redriff. Amy made as if she would have passed by her, though they met so full that she did not pretend she did not see her, for she looked fairly upon her first; but then, turning her head away. with a slight, offered to go from her, but the girl stopped and spoke first, and made some manners to her.

Amy spoke coldly to her and a little angry, and after some words, standing in the street or passage, the girl saying she seemed to be angry, and would not have spoken to her, “Why,” says Amy, “how can you expect I should have any more to say to you, after I had done so much for you and you have behaved so to me?” The girl seemed to take no notice of that now, but answered, “I was going to wait on you now.” “Wait on me!” says Amy; “what do you mean by that?” “Why,” says she again, with a kind of familiarity, “I was going to your lodgings.”

Amy was provoked to the last degree at her, and yet she thought it was not her time to resent, because she had a more fatal and wicked design in her head against her; which indeed I never knew till after it was executed, nor durst Amy ever communicate it to me, for as I had always expressed myself vehemently against hurting a hair of her head, so she was resolved to take her own measures without consulting me any more.

In order to this Amy gave her good words, and concealed her resentment as much as she could; and when she talked of going to her lodging, Amy smiled and said nothing, but called for a pair of oars to go to Greenwich, and asked her, seeing she said she was going to her lodging, to go along with her, for she was going home and was all alone.

Amy did this with such a stock of assurance that the girl was confounded and knew not what to say; but the more she hesitated the more Amy pressed her to go, and, talking very kindly to her, told her if she did not go to see her lodgings, she might go to keep her company, and she would pay a boat to bring her back again; so, in a word, Amy prevailed on her to go into the boat with her, and carried her down to Greenwich. ’tis certain that Amy had no more business at Greenwich than I had, nor was she going thither; but we were all hampered to the last degree with the impertinence of this creature, and in particular I was horribly perplexed with it.

As they were in the boat Amy began to reproach her with ingratitude in treating her so rudely, who had done so much for her and been so kind to her, and to ask her what she had got by it or what she expected to get. Then came in my share, the Lady Roxana; Amy jested with that, and bantered her a little and asked her if she had found her yet.

But Amy was both surprised and enraged when the girl told her roundly that she thanked her for what she had done for her, but that she would not have her think she was so ignorant as not to know that what she (Amy) had done was by her mother’s order, and who she was beholden to for it. That she could never make instruments pass for principals, and pay the debt to the agent. when the obligation was all to the original. That she knew well enough who she was, and who she was employed by. That she knew the Lady —— very well (naming the name that I now went by), which was my husband’s true name, and by which she might know whether she had found out her mother or no.

Amy wished her at the bottom of the Thames; and had there been no watermen in the boat and nobody in sight, she swore to me she would have thrown her into the river. I was horribly disturbed when she told me this story, and began to think this would at last all end in my ruin; but when Amy spoke of throwing her into the river and drowning her, I was so provoked at her, that all my rage turned against Amy and I fell thoroughly out with her. I had now kept Amy almost thirty years, and found her on all occasions the faithfulest creature to me that ever woman had; I say faithful to me, for however wicked she was, still she was true to me; and even this rage of hers was all upon my account, and for fear any mischief should befall me.

But be that how it would, I could not bear the mention of her murdering the poor girl, and it put me so beside myself that I rose up in a rage and bade her get out of my sight and out of my house; told her I had kept her too long, and that I would never see her face more. I had before told her that she was a murderer and a bloody-minded creature, that she could not but know that I could not bear the thought of it, much less the mention of it, and that it was the impudentest thing that ever was known, to make such a proposal to me, when she knew that I was really the mother of this girl, and that she was my own child; that it was wicked enough in her, but that she must conclude I was ten times wickeder than herself if I could come into it; that the girl was in the right, and I had nothing to blame her for, but that it was owing to the wickedness of my life that made it necessary for me to keep her from a discovery, but that I would not murder my child though I was otherwise to be ruined by it. Amy replied somewhat rough and short, would I not, but she would, she said, if she had an opportunity. And upon these words it was that I bade her get out of my sight and out of my house; and it went so far that Amy packed up her alls and marched off, and was gone for almost good and all. But of that in its order; I must go back to her relation of the voyage which they made to Greenwich together.

They held on the wrangle all the way by water; the girl insisted upon her knowing that I was her mother, and told her all the history of my life in the Pall Mall, as well after her being turned away, as before, and of my marriage since; and which was worse, not only who my present husband was, but where he had lived, viz. at Rouen in France; she knew nothing of Paris or of where we were going to live, namely, at Nimeguen, but told her in so many words that if she could not find me here, she would go to Holland after me.

They landed at Greenwich and Amy carried her into the Park with her, and they walked above two hours there in the farthest and remotest walks; which Amy did because as they talked with great heat, it was apparent they were quarrelling, and the people took notice of it.

They walked till they came almost to the wilderness at the south side of the Park, but the girl, perceiving Amy offered to go in there among the woods and trees, stopped short there and would go no further, but said she would not go in there.

Amy smiled and asked her what was the matter. She replied short, she did not know where she was nor where she was going to carry her, and she would go no further, and without any more ceremony turns back and walks apace away from her. Amy owned she was surprised, and came back too and called to her, upon which the girl stopped, and Amy coming up to her, asked her what she meant.

The girl boldly replied she did not know but she might murder her, and that, in short, she would not trust herself with her, and never would come into her company again alone.

It was very provoking; but, however, Amy kept her temper with much difficulty, and bore it, knowing that much might depend upon it; so she mocked her foolish jealousy and told her she need not be uneasy for her, she would do her no harm, and would have done her good if she would have let her; but since she was of such a refractory humour, she should not trouble herself, for she should never come into her company again, and that neither she nor her brother or sister should ever hear from her or see her any more; and so she should have the satisfaction of being the ruin of her brother and sister, as well as of herself.

The girl seemed a little mollified at that, and said, that for herself she knew the worst of it, she could seek her fortune, but ’twas hard her brother and sister should suffer on her score, and said something that was tender and well enough on that account. But Amy told her it was for her to take that into consideration, for she would let her see that it was all her own; that she would have done them all good, but that having been used thus, she would do no more for any of them; and that she should not need to be afraid to come into her company again, for she would never give her occasion for it any more; by the way, was false in the girl too, for she did venture into Amy’s company again after that, once too much, as I shall relate by itself.

They grew cooler, however, afterwards, and Amy carried her into a house at Greenwich where she was acquainted, and took an occasion to leave the girl in a room awhile, to speak to the people in the house, and so prepare them to own her as a lodger in the house; and then going in to her again, told her there she lodged if she had a mind to find her out, or if anybody else had anything to say to her. And so Amy dismissed her and got rid of her again, and finding an empty hackney-coach in the town, came away by land to London, and the girl going down to the waterside, came by boat.

This conversation did not answer Amy’s end at all, because it did not secure the girl from pursuing her design of hunting me out; and though my indefatigable friend the Quaker amused her three or four days, yet I had such notice of it at last, that I thought fit to come away from Tunbridge upon it, and where to go I knew not; but, in short, I went to a little village upon Epping Forest, called Woodford, and took lodgings in a private house, where I lived retired about six weeks, till I thought she might be tired of her search and have given me over.

Here I received an account from my trusty Quaker that the wench had really been at Tunbridge, had found out my lodgings, and had told her tale there in a most dismal tone; that she had followed us as she thought, to London, but the Quaker had answered her that she knew nothing of it, which was indeed true, and had admonished her to be easy and not hunt after people of such fashion as we were, as if we were thieves; that she might be assured that since I was not willing to see her, I would not be forced to it, and treating me thus would effectually disoblige me. And with such discourses as these she quieted her; and she (the Quaker) added that she hoped I should not be troubled much more with her.

It was in this time that Amy gave me the history of her Greenwich voyage, when she spoke of drowning and killing the girl, in so serious a manner, and with such an apparent resolution of doing it, that, as I said, put me in a rage with her, so that I effectually turned her away from me, as I have said above; and she was gone, nor did she so much as tell me whither or which way she was gone; on the other hand, when I came to reflect on it, that now I had neither assistant nor confidante to speak to or receive the least information, my friend the Quaker excepted, it made me very uneasy.

I waited and expected, and wondered from day to day, still thinking Amy would one time or other think a little and come again, or at least let me hear of her, but for ten days together I heard nothing of her. I was so impatient that I got neither rest by day nor sleep by night, and what to do I knew not. I durst not go to town to the Quaker’s, for fear of meeting that vexatious creature my girl, and I could get no intelligence, where I was; so I got my spouse, upon pretence of wanting her company, to take the coach one day and fetch my good Quaker to me.

When I had her I durst ask her no questions, nor hardly knew which end of the business to begin to talk of; but of her own accord she told me that the girl had been three or four times haunting her for news from me, and that she had been so troublesome that she had been obliged to show herself a little angry with her, and at last told her plainly that she need give herself no trouble in searching after me by her means, for she (the Quaker) would not tell her if she knew; upon which she refrained awhile. But on the other hand, she told me, it was not safe for me to send my own coach for her to come in, for she had some reason to believe that she (my daughter) watched her door night and day, nay, and watched her too every time she went in and out; for she was so bent upon a discovery that she spared no pains, and she believed she had taken a lodging very near their house for that purpose.

I could hardly give her a hearing of all this for my eagerness to ask for Amy, but I was confounded when she told me she had heard nothing of her. ’Tis impossible to express the anxious thoughts that rolled about in my mind and continually perplexed me about her; particularly I reproached myself with my rashness in turning away so faithful a creature, that for so many years had not only been a servant but an agent, and not only an agent but a friend, and a faithful friend too.

Then I considered too that Amy knew all the secret history of my life, had been in all the intrigues of it, and been a party in both evil and good, and at best there was no policy in it; that as it was very ungenerous and unkind to run things to such an extremity with her, and for an occasion too in which all the fault she was guilty of was owing to her excess of care for my safety, so it must be only her steady kindness to me, and an excess of generous friendship for me, that should keep her from ill-using me in return for it, which ill-using me was enough in her power and might be my utter undoing.

These thoughts perplexed me exceedingly, and what course to take I really did not know. I began indeed to give Amy quite over, for she had now been gone above a fortnight, and as she had taken away all her clothes and her money too, which was not a little, and so had no occasion of that kind to come any more, so she had not left any word where she was gone, or to which part of the world I might send to hear of her.

And I was troubled on another account too, viz. that my spouse and I too had resolved to do very handsomely for Amy, without considering what she might have got another way at all; but we had said nothing of it to her, and so I thought as she had not known what was likely to fall in her way, she had not the influence of that expectation to make her come back.

Upon the whole, the perplexity of this girl who hunted me, as if, like a hound, she had had a hot scent but was now at a fault—I say that perplexity, and this other part of Amy being gone, issued in this, I resolved to be gone, and go over to Holland; there I believed I should be at rest. So I took occasion one day to tell my spouse that I was afraid he might take it ill that I had amused him thus long, and that at last I doubted I was not with child, and that since it was so, our things being packed up and all in order for going to Holland, I would go away now when he pleased.

My spouse, who was perfectly easy whether in going or staying, left it all entirely to me; so I considered of it and began to prepare again for my voyage. But, alas! I was irresolute to the last degree; I was, for want of Amy, destitute. I had lost my right hand; she was my steward, gathered in my rents, I mean my interest money, and kept any accounts, and, in a word, did all my business; and without her indeed I knew not how to go away nor how to stay. But an accident thrust itself in here, and that even in Amy’s conduct too, which frighted me away, and without her too, in the utmost horror and confusion.

I have related how my faithful friend the Quaker was come to me, and what account she gave me of her being continually haunted by my daughter, and that, as she said, she watched her very door night and day. The truth was she had set a spy to watch so effectually that she (the Quaker) neither went in nor out but she had notice of it.

This was too evident when, the next morning after she came to me (for I kept her all night), to my unspeakable surprise I saw a hackney-coach stop at the door where I lodged, and saw her (my daughter) in the coach all alone. It was a very good chance in the middle of a bad one that my husband had taken out the coach that very morning and was gone to London; as for me, I had neither life nor soul left in me, I was so confounded I knew not what to do or to say.

My happy visitor had more presence of mind than I, and asked me if I had made no acquaintance among the neighbours. I told her, Yes, there was a lady lodged two doors off, that I was very intimate with. “But hast thou no way out backward to go to her?” says she. Now it happened there was a back door in the garden, by which we usually went and came to and from the house, so I told her of it. “Well, well,” says she, “go out and make a visit then, and leave the rest to me.” Away I ran, told the lady (for I was very free there) that I was a widow to-day, my spouse being gone to London, so I came not to visit her but to dwell with her that day, because also our landlady had got strangers come from London. So having framed this orderly lie, I pulled some work out of my pocket, and added, “I did not come to be idle.”

As I went out one way, my friend the Quaker went the other to receive this unwelcome guest. The girl made but little ceremony, but, having bid the coachman ring at the gate, gets down out of the coach and comes to the door, a country girl going to the door (belonging to the house), for the Quaker forbade any of my maids going. Madam asked for my Quaker by name, and the girl asked her to walk in.

Upon this, my Quaker, seeing there was no hanging back, goes to her immediately, but put on all the gravity upon her countenance that she was mistress of, and that was not a little indeed.

When she (the Quaker) came into the room (for they had shown my daughter into a little parlour), she kept her grave countenance but said not a word, nor did my daughter speak a good while. But after some time my girl began and said, “I suppose you know me, madam?”

“Yes,” said the Quaker, “I know thee”; and so the dialogue went on.

Girl. “Then you know my business too.”

Quaker. “No, verily, I do not know any business thou canst have here with me.”

Girl. “Indeed, my business is not chiefly with you.”

Quaker. “Why then dost thou come after me thus far?”

Girl. “You know who I seek.” (And with that she cried.)

Quaker. “But why shouldst thou follow me for her, since thou knowest that I assured thee more than once that I knew not where she was?”

Girl. “But I hoped you could.”

Quaker. “Then thou must hope that I did not speak truth, which would be very wicked.”

Girl. “I doubt not but she is in this house.”

Quaker. “If those be thy thoughts, thou may’st enquire in the house; so thou hast no more business with me. Farewell.” (Offers to go.)

Girl. “I would not be uncivil; I beg you to let me see her.”

Quaker. “I am here to visit some of my friends, and I think thou art very uncivil in following me hither.”

Girl. “I came in hopes of a discovery in my great affair, which you know of.”

Quaker. “Thou cam’st wildly indeed. I counsel thee to go back again and be easy. I shall keep my word with thee that I would not meddle in it or give thee any account, if I knew it, unless I had her orders.”

Girl. “If you knew my distress, you could not be so cruel.”

Quaker. “Thou hast told me all thy story, and I think it might be more cruelty to tell thee than not to tell thee; for I understand she is resolved not to see thee, and declares she is not thy mother. Willst thou be owned where thou hast no relation?”

Girl. “Oh! if I could but speak to her, I would prove my relation to her so that she could not deny it any longer.”

Quaker. “Well, but thou canst not come to speak with her, it seems.”

Girl. “I hope you will tell me if she is here; I had a good account that you were come out to see her, and that she sent for you.”

Quaker. “I much wonder how thou couldst have such an account; if I had come out to see her, thou hast happened to miss the house, for I assure thee she is not to be found in this house.”

Here the girl importuned her again with the utmost earnestness, and cried bitterly, insomuch that my poor Quaker was softened with it, and began to persuade me to consider of it, and if it might consist with my affairs to see her and hear what she had to say; but this was afterwards. I return to the discourse.

The Quaker was perplexed with her a long time; she talked of sending back the coach and lying in the town all night. This my friend knew would be very uneasy to me, but she durst not speak a word against it; but on a sudden thought she offered a bold stroke, which, though dangerous if it happened wrong, had its desired effect.

She told her, that as for dismissing her coach, that was as she pleased; she believed she would not easily get a lodging in the town, but that as she was in a strange place, she would so much befriend her that she would speak to the people of the house, that if they had a room she might have a lodging there for one night, rather than be forced back to London before she was free to go.

This was a cunning though a dangerous step, and it succeeded accordingly, for it amused the creature entirely, and she presently concluded that really I could not be there, then; otherwise she would never have asked her to lie in the house. So she grew cold again presently as to her lodging there, and said, No, since it was so, she would go back that afternoon, but she would come again in two or three days, and search that and all the towns round in an effectual manner, if she stayed a week or two to do it; for, in short, if I was in England or Holland, she would find me.

“In truth,” says the Quaker, “thou wilt make me very hurtful to thee, then.” “Why so?” says she. “Because wherever I go thou wilt put thyself to great expense, and the country to a great deal of unnecessary trouble.” “Not unnecessary,” says she. “Yes, truly,” says the Quaker, “it must be unnecessary, because ’twill be to no purpose. I think I must abide in my own house, to save thee that charge and trouble.”

She said little to that, except that she said she would give her as little trouble as possible, but she was afraid she should sometimes be uneasy to her, which she hoped she would excuse. My Quaker told her she would much rather excuse her if she would forbear; for that, if she would believe her, she would assure her she should never get any intelligence of me by her.

That set her into tears again; but after a while recovering herself, she told her perhaps she might be mistaken, and she (the Quaker) should watch herself very narrowly, or she might one time or other get some intelligence from her whether she would or no; and she was satisfied she had gained some of her by this journey, for that if I was not in the house I was not far off, and if I did not remove very quickly she would find me out. “Very well,” says my Quaker, “then if the lady is not willing to see thee, thou givest me notice to tell her that she may get out of thy way.”

She flew out in a rage at that, and told my friend that if she did, a curse would follow her and her children after her, and denounced such horrid things upon her as frighted the poor tender-hearted Quaker strangely, and put her more out of temper than ever I saw her before; so that she resolved to go home the next morning, and I, that was ten times more uneasy than she, resolved to follow her and go to London too; which however, upon second thoughts, I did not, but took effectual measures not to be seen or owned if she came any more; but I heard no more of her for some time.

Roxana - Contents    |     § 30

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