§ 30

Daniel Defoe

I STAYED there about a fortnight, and in all that time I heard no more of her or of my Quaker about her. But after about two days more I had a letter from my Quaker, intimating that she had something of moment to say that she could not communicate by a letter, but wished I would give myself the trouble to come up; directing me to come with the coach into Goodman’s Fields and then walk to her back door on foot, which being left open on purpose, the watchful lady, if she had any spies, could not well see me.

My thoughts had for so long time been kept, as it were, waking, that almost everything gave me the alarm, and this especially, so that I was very uneasy; but I could not bring matters to bear to make my coming to London so clear to my husband as I would have done, for he liked the place and had a mind, he said, to stay a little longer, if it was not against my inclination. So I wrote my friend the Quaker word that I could not come to town yet, and that besides I could not think of being there under spies and afraid to look out of doors; and so, in short, I put off going for near a fortnight more.

At the end of that time she wrote again, in which she told me that she had not lately seen the impertinent visitor which had been so troublesome, but that she had seen my trusty agent Amy, who told her she had cried for six weeks without intermission; that Amy had given her an account how troublesome the creature had been, and to what straits and perplexities I was driven by her hunting after and following me from place to place. Upon which Amy had said, that notwithstanding I was angry with her and had used her so hardly for saying something about her of the same kind, yet there was an absolute necessity of securing her and removing her out of the way; and that, in short, without asking my leave or anybody’s leave, she would take care she should trouble her mistress (meaning me) no more, and that after Amy had said so, she had indeed never heard any more of the girl; so that she supposed Amy had managed it so well as to put an end to it.

The innocent well-meaning creature, my Quaker, who was all kindness and goodness in herself, and particularly to me, saw nothing in this but she thought Amy had found some way to persuade her to be quiet and easy and to give over teasing and following me, and rejoiced in it for my sake; as she thought nothing of any evil herself, so she suspected none in anybody else, and was exceeding glad of having such good news to write to me. But my thoughts of it ran otherwise.

I was struck as with a blast from Heaven at the reading her letter. I fell into a fit of trembling from head to foot, and I ran raving about the room like a mad-woman. I had nobody to speak a word to, to give vent to my passion, nor did I speak a word for a good while, till after it had almost overcome me. I threw myself on the bed and cried out, “Lord, be merciful to me, she has murdered my child “; and with that a flood of tears burst out, and I cried vehemently for above an hour.

My husband was very happily gone out a-hunting, so that I had every opportunity of being alone, and to give my passions some vent, by which I a little recovered myself. But after my crying was over, then I fell in a new rage at Amy. I called her a thousand devils and monsters and hard-hearted tigers; I reproached her with her knowing that I abhorred it, and had let her know it sufficiently, in that I had, as it were, kicked her out of doors, after so many years’ friendship and service, only for naming it to me.

Well, after some time my spouse came in from his sport, and I put on the best looks I could to deceive him; but he did not take so little notice of me as not to see I had been crying and that something troubled me, and he pressed me to tell him. I seemed to bring it out with reluctance, but told him my backwardness was more because I was ashamed that such a trifle should have any effect upon me, than for any weight that was in it. So I told him I had been vexing myself about my woman Amy not coming again, that she might have known me better than not to believe I should have been friends with her again, and the like; and that, in short, I had lost the best servant by my rashness that ever woman had.

“Well, well,” says he, “if that be all your grief, I hope you will soon shake it off; I’ll warrant you in a little while we shall hear of Mrs. Amy again “; and so it went off for that time. But it did not go off with me, for I was uneasy and terrified to the last degree, and wanted to get some further account of the thing. So I went away to my sure and certain comforter the Quaker, and there I had the whole story of it; and the good innocent Quaker gave me joy of my being rid of such an unsufferable tormentor.

“Rid of her! Ay,” says I, “if I was rid of her fairly and honourably; but I don’t know what Amy may have done; sure she hasn’t made her away?” “Oh, fie!” says my Quaker, “how canst thou entertain such a notion? No, no, made her away! Amy didn’t talk like that; I dare say thou may’st be easy in that, Amy has nothing of that in her head, I dare say,” says she; and so threw it, as it were, out of my thoughts.

But it would not do; it ran in my head continually, night and day I could think of nothing else; and it fixed such a horror of the fact upon my spirits, and such a detestation of Amy, who I looked upon as the murderer, that, as for her, I believe if I could have seen her, I should certainly have sent her to Newgate, or to a worse place, upon suspicion; indeed I think I could have killed her with my own hands.

As for the poor girl herself, she was ever before my eyes. I saw her by night and by day; she haunted my imagination, if she did not haunt the house; my fancy showed her me in a hundred shapes and postures; sleeping or waking, she was with me. Sometimes I thought I saw her with her throat cut, sometimes with her head cut and her brains knocked out, other times hanged up upon a beam, another time drowned in the great pond at Camberwell. And all these appearances were terrifying to the last degree; and that which was still worse, I could really hear nothing of her. I sent to the captain’s wife in Redriff, and she answered me she was gone to her relations in Spitalfields. I sent thither, and they said she was there about three weeks ago, but that she went out in a coach with the gentlewoman that used to be so kind to her, but whither she was gone they knew not, for she had not been there since. I sent back the messenger for a description of the woman she went out with, and they described her so perfectly that I knew it to be Amy, and none but Amy.

I sent word again that Mrs. Amy, who she went out with, left her in two or three hours, and that they should search for her, for I had reason to fear she was murdered. This frighted them all intolerably. They believed Amy had carried her to pay her a sum of money, and that somebody had watched her after her having received it, and had robbed and murdered her.

I believed nothing of that part; but I believed as it was, that whatever was done, Amy had done it, and that, in short, Amy had made her away; and I believed it the more because Amy came no more near me, but confirmed her guilt by her absence.

Upon the whole, I mourned thus for her for above a month, but finding Amy still come not near me, and that I must put my affairs in a posture that I might go to Holland, I opened all my affairs to my dear trusty friend the Quaker, and placed her, in matters of trust, in the room of Amy, and with a heavy, bleeding heart for my poor girl, I embarked with my spouse, and all our equipage and goods, on board another Holland trader, not a packet-boat, and went over to Holland, where I arrived as I have said.

I must put in a caution, however, here, that you must not understand me as if I let my friend the Quaker into any part of the secret history of my former life; nor did I commit the grand reserved article of all to her, viz. that I was really the girl’s mother, and the Lady Roxana. There was no need of that part being exposed, and it was always a maxim with me that secrets should never be opened without evident utility. It could be of no manner of use to me or her to communicate that part to her; besides, she was too honest herself, to make it safe to me. For though she loved me very sincerely, and it was plain by many circumstances that she did so, yet she would not lie for me upon occasion, as Amy would, and therefore it was not advisable on any terms to communicate that part; for if the girl, or anyone else, should have come to her afterwards and put it home to her, whether she knew that I was the girl’s mother or not, or was the same as the Lady Roxana or not, she either would not have denied it or would have done it with so ill a grace, such blushing, such hesitations, and falterings in her answers, as would have put the matter out of doubt, and betrayed herself and the secret too.

For this reason, I say, I did not discover anything of that kind to her; but I placed her, as I have said, in Amy’s stead, in the other affairs of receiving money, interests, rents, and the like, and she was as faithful as Amy could be, and as diligent.

But there fell out a great difficulty here which I knew not how to get over, and this was, how to convey the usual supply or provision and money to the uncle and the other sister, who depended, especially the sister, upon the said supply for her support; and indeed, though Amy had said rashly that she would not take any more notice of the sister, and would leave her to perish, as above, yet it was neither in my nature nor Amy’s either, much less was it in my design, and therefore I resolved to leave the management of what I had reserved for that work with my faithful Quaker, but how to direct her to manage them was the great difficulty.

Amy had told them in so many words that she was not their mother, but that she was the maid Amy that carried them to their aunt’s; that she and their mother went over to the East Indies to seek their fortune, and that there good things had befallen them, and that their mother was very rich and happy; that she (Amy) had married in the Indies, but being now a widow, and resolving to come over to England, their mother had obliged her to enquire them out and do for them as she had done, and that now she was resolved to go back to the Indies again; but that she had orders from their mother to do very handsomely by them, and, in a word, told them she had £2,000 apiece for them upon condition that they proved sober, and married suitably to themselves, and did not throw themselves away upon scoundrels.

The good family in whose care they had been, I had resolved to take more than ordinary notice of; and Amy, by my order, had acquainted them with it and obliged my daughters to promise to submit to their government as formerly, and to be ruled by the honest man as by a father and counsellor, and engaged him to treat them as his children; and to oblige him effectually to take care of them, and to make his old age comfortable both to him and his wife, who had been so good to the orphans, I had ordered her to settle the other £2,000, that is to say, the interest of it, which was £120 a year, upon them, to be theirs for both their lives, but to come to my two daughters after them. This was so just, and was so prudently managed by Amy, that nothing she ever did for me pleased me better. And in this posture, leaving my two daughters with their ancient friend, and so coming away to me (as they thought to the East Indies) she had prepared everything in order to her going over with me to Holland; and in this posture that matter stood when that unhappy girl whom I have said so much of broke in upon all our measures, as you have heard; and by an obstinacy never to be conquered or pacified, either with threats or persuasions, pursued her search after me (her mother) as I have said, till she brought me even to the brink of destruction, and would in all probability have traced me out at last, if Amy had not by the violence of her passion, and by a way which I had no knowledge of, and indeed abhorred, put a stop to her, of which I cannot enter into the particulars here.

However, notwithstanding this, I could not think of going away and leaving this work so unfinished as Amy had threatened to do, and for the folly of one child, to leave the other to starve, or to stop my determined bounty to the good family I have mentioned. So, in a word, I committed the finishing it all to my faithful friend the Quaker, to whom I communicated as much of the old story as was needful to empower her to perform what Amy had promised, and to make her talk so much to the purpose, as one employed more remotely than Amy had been, needed to do.

To this purpose she had first of all a full possession of the money, and went first to the honest man and his wife and settled all the matter with them. When she talked of Mrs. Amy she talked of her as one that had been empowered by the mother of the girls in the Indies, but was obliged to go back to the Indies, and had settled all sooner if she had not been hindered by the obstinate humour of the other daughter; that she had left instructions with her for the rest, but that the other had affronted her so much that she was gone away without doing anything for her; and that now, if anything was done, it must be by fresh orders from the East Indies.

I need not say how punctually my new agent acted; but which was more, she brought the old man and his wife, and my other daughter, several times to her house, by which I had an opportunity, being there only as a lodger and a stranger, to see my other girl, which I had never done before since she was a little child.

The day I contrived to see them I was dressed up in a Quaker’s habit, and looked so like a Quaker that it was impossible for them, who had never seen me before, to suppose I had ever been anything else; also my way of talking was suitable enough to it, for I had learned that long before.

I have not time here to take notice what a surprise it was to me to see my child; how it worked upon my affections; with what infinite struggle I mastered a strong inclination that I had to discover myself to her; how the girl was the very counterpart of myself, only much handsomer, and how sweetly and modestly she behaved; how on that occasion I resolved to do more for her than I had appointed by Amy, and the like.

’Tis enough to mention here that as the settling this affair made way for my going on board, notwithstanding the absence of my old agent Amy, so however I left some hints for Amy too, for I did not yet despair of my hearing from her; and that if my good Quaker should ever see her again, she should let her see them; wherein particularly ordering her to leave the affair of Spitalfields just as I had done, in the hands of my friend, she should come away to me, upon this condition nevertheless, that she gave full satisfaction to my friend the Quaker that she had not murdered my child; for if she had, I told her, I would never see her face more; how, notwithstanding this, she came over afterwards without giving my friend any of that satisfaction or any account that she intended to come over.

I can say no more now, but that, as above, being arrived in Holland with my spouse and his son, formerly mentioned, I appeared there with all the splendour and equipage suitable to our new prospect, as I have already observed.

Here, after some few years of flourishing and outwardly happy circumstances, I fell into a dreadful course of calamities, and Amy also; the very reverse of our former good days. The blast of Heaven seemed to follow the injury done the poor girl by us both, and I was brought so low again that my repentance seemed to be only the consequence of my misery, as my misery was of my crime.


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