|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||89|
I was sorry to tell her that I feared I must be her lowest-rated customer; 'and perhaps, madam', said I, 'you will make me the less welcome upon that account.' 'No, not at all', said she; 'for where I have one of the third sort, I have two of the second and four of the first, and I get as much by them in proportion as by any; but if you doubt my care of you, I will allow any friend you have to see if you are well waited on or no.'
Then she explained the particulars of her bill. 'In the first place, madam', said she, 'I would have you observe that here is three months keeping you at but 10s. a week; I undertake to say you will not complain of my table. I suppose', says she, 'you do not live cheaper where you are now?' 'No, indeed', said I, 'nor so cheap, for I give 6s. per week for my chamber, and find my own diet, which costs me a great deal more.'
'Then, madam', says she, 'If the child should not live, as it sometimes happens, there is the minister's article saved; and, if you have no friends to come, you may save the expense of a supper; so that take those articles out, madam', says she, 'your lying-in will not cost you above £5.3s more than your ordinary charge of living.'
This was the most reasonable thing that I ever heard of; so I smiled, and told her I would come and be a customer; but I told her also, that as I had two months and more to go, I might perhaps be obliged to stay longer with her than three months, and desired to know if she would not be obliged to remove me before it was proper. 'No,' she said; her house was large, and besides, she never put anybody to remove, that had lain in, till they were willing to go; and if she had more ladies offered, she was not so ill-beloved among her neighbours but she could provide accommodation for twenty, if there was occasion.
I found she was an eminent lady in her way, and, in short, I agreed to put myself into her hands. She then talked of other things, looked about into my accommodations where I was, found fault with my wanting attendance and conveniences, and that I should not be used so at her house. I told her I was shy of speaking, for the woman of the house looked stranger, or at least I thought so, since I had been ill, because I was with child; and I was afraid she would put some affront or other upon me, supposing that I had been able to give but a slight account of myself.
'O dear', says she, 'her ladyship is no stranger to these things; she has tried to entertain ladies in your condition, but could not secure the parish; and besides, such a nice lady, as you take her to be. However, since you are a-going, you shall not meddle with her, but I'll see you are a little better looked after while you are here, and it shall not cost you the more neither.'
I did not understand her; however, I thanked her, so we parted. The next morning she sent me a chicken roasted and hot, and a bottle of sherry, and ordered the maid to tell me, that she was to wait on me every day as long as I stayed there.
This was surprisingly good and kind, and I accepted it very willingly. At night she sent to me again, to know if I wanted anything, and to order the maid to come to her in the morning for dinner. The maid had orders to make me some chocolate in the morning before she came away, and at noon she brought me the sweetbread of a breast of veal, whole, and a dish of soup for my dinner; and after this manner she nursed me up at a distance, so that I was mightily well pleased, and quickly well, for indeed my dejections before were the principal part of my illness.