|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||79|
other authority than a hearsay; and then, turning to me again, said very honestly, he was afraid we were both undone; 'for, to be plain, my dear, I have no estate', says he; 'what little I had, this devil has made me run out in putting me into this equipage,' She took the opportunity of his being earnest in talking with me, and got out of the room, and I never saw her more.
I was confounded now as much as he, and knew not what to say. I thought many ways that I had the worst of it; but his saying he was undone, and that he had no estate neither, put me into a mere distraction. 'Why', says I to him, 'this has been a hellish juggle, for we are married here upon the foot of a double fraud: you are undone by the disappointment, it seems; and if I had had a fortune I had been cheated too, for you say you have nothing.'
'You would indeed have been cheated, my dear', says he, 'but you would not have been undone, for £15,000 would have maintained us both very handsomely in this country; and I had resolved to have dedicated every groat of it to you; I would not have wronged you of a shilling, and the rest I would have made up in my affection to you, and tenderness of you, as long as I lived.'
This was very honest indeed, and I really believe he spoke as he intended, and that he was a man that was as well qualified to make me happy, as to his temper and behaviour, as any man ever was; but his having no estate, and being run into debt on this ridiculous account in the country, made all the prospect dismal and dreadful, and I knew not what to say or what to think.
I told him it was very unhappy that so much love and so much good nature as I discovered in him should be thus precipitated into misery; that I saw nothing before us but ruin; for, as to me, it was my unhappiness, that what little I had was not able to relieve us a week, and with that I pulled out a bankbill of £20 and eleven guineas, which I told him I had saved out of my little income, and that by the account that creature had given me of the way of living in that country, I expected it would maintain me three or four years; that if it was taken from me, I was left destitute, and he knew what the condition of a woman must be if she had no money in her pocket; however, I told him, if he would take it, there it was.
He told me with great concern, and I thought I saw tears in his eyes, that he would not touch it; that he abhorred the thoughts of stripping me and making me miserable; that he had fifty guineas left, which was all he had in the world, and he pulled it out and threw it down on the table, bidding me take it, though he were to starve for want of it.
I returned, with the same concern for him, that I could not bear to hear him talk so; that, on the contrary, if he could propose any probable method of living, I would do anything that became me, and that I would live as narrow as he could desire.
He begged of me to talk no more at that rate, for it would make him distracted; he said he was bred a gentleman, though he was reduced to a low fortune, and that there was but one way left which he could think of, and that would not do, unless I could answer him one question, which, however, he said he would not press me to. I told him I would answer it honestly; whether it would be to his satisfaction or no, that I could not tell.