|108||THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS|
to have my little son by my last husband taken off; and this she made easy too, reserving a payment only of £5 a year, if I could pay it. This was such a help to me, that for a good while I left off the wicked trade that I had so newly taken up; and gladly I would have got work, but that was very hard to do for one that had no acquaintance.
However, at last I got some quilting work for ladies' beds, petticoats, and the like; and this I liked very well, and worked very hard, and with this I began to live; but the diligent devil, who resolved I should continue in his service, continually prompted me to go out and take a walk, that is to say, to see if anything would offer in the old way.
One evening I blindly obeyed his summons, and fetched a long circuit through the streets, but met with no purchase; but not content with that, I went out the next evening too, when, going by an alehouse, I saw the door of a little room open, next the very street, and on the table a silver tankard, things much in use in public-houses at that time. It seems some company had been drinking there, and the careless boys had forgot to take it away.
I went into the box frankly, and setting the silver tankard on the corner of the bench, I sat down before it, and knocked with my foot; a boy came presently, and I bade him fetch me a pint of warm ale, for it was cold weather; the boy ran, and I heard him go down the cellar to draw the ale. While the boy was gone, another boy came, and cried, 'D'ye call?' I spoke with a melancholy air, and said, 'No; the boy is gone for a pint of ale for me.'
While I sat here, I heard the woman in the bar say, 'Are they all gone in the five?' which was the box I sat in, and the boy said, 'Yes.' 'Who fetched the tankard away?' says the woman.' I did', says another boy; 'that's it', pointing, it seems, to another tankard, which he had fetched from another box by mistake; or else it must be, that the rogue forgot that he had not brought it in, which certainly he had not.
I heard all this much to my satisfaction, for I found plainly that the tankard was not missed, and yet they concluded it was fetched away; so I drank my ale, called to pay, and as I went away I said, 'Take care of your plate, child', meaning a silver pint mug which he brought me to drink in. The boy said, 'Yes, madam, very welcome', and away I came.
I came home to my governess, and now I thought it was a time to try her, that if I might be put to the necessity of being exposed she might offer me some assistance. When I had been at home some time, and had an opportunity of talking to her, I told her I had a secret of the greatest consequence in the world to commit to her, if she had respect enough for me to keep it a secret. She told me she had kept one of my secrets faithfully; why should I doubt her keeping another? I told her the strangest thing in the world had befallen me, even without any design, and so told her the whole story of the tankard. 'And have you brought it away with you, my dear?' says she. 'To be sure I have', says I, and showed it her. 'But what shall I do now?' says I; 'must not I carry it again?'
'Carry it again!' says she. 'Ay, if you want to go to Newgate.' 'Why', says I, 'they can't be so base to stop me, when I carry it to them again?' You don't know those sort of people, child', says she; 'they'll not only carry you to Newgate, but hang you too, without any regard to the honesty of returning it; or bring in an account of all the other tankards as they