|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||115|
amounted to anything considerable, not like that I related just now; but I was cautious of running the great risks which I found others did, and in which they miscarried every day.
The next thing of moment was an attempt at a gentlewoman's gold watch. It happened in a crowd, at a meeting-house, where I was in very great danger of being taken. I had full hold of her watch, but giving a great jostle as if somebody had thrust me against her, and in the juncture giving the watch a fair pull, I found it would not come, so I let it go that moment, and cried as if I had been killed, that somebody had trod upon my foot, and that there was certainly pickpockets there, for somebody or other had given a pull at my watch; for you are to observe that on these adventures we always went very well dressed, and I had very good clothes on, and & gold watch by my side, as like a lady as other folks.
I had no sooner said so but the other gentlewoman cried out 'A pickpocket', too, for somebody, she said, had tried to pull her watch away.
When I touched her watch I was close to her, but when I cried out I stopped as it were short, and the crowd bearing her forward a little, she made a noise too, but it was at some distance from me, so that she did not in the least suspect me & but when she cried out, 'A pickpocket', somebody cried out, 'Ay, and here has been another; this gentlewoman has been attempted too.'
At that very instant, a little farther in the crowd, and very luckily too, they cried out 'A pickpocket' again, and really seized a young fellow in the very fact. This, though unhappy for the wretch, was very opportunely for my case, though I had carried it handsomely enough before; but now it was out of doubt, and all the loose part of the crowd ran that way, and the poor boy was delivered up to the rage of the street, which is a cruelty I need not describe, and which, however, they are always glad of, rather than be sent to Newgate, where they lie often a long time, and sometimes they are hanged, and the best they can look for, if they are convicted, is to be transported.
This was a narrow escape to me, and I was so frighted that I ventured no more at gold watches a great while. There were indeed many circumstances in this adventure which assisted to my escape; but the chief was, that the woman whose watch I had pulled at was a fool; that is to say, she was ignorant of the nature of the attempt, which one would have thought she should not have been, seeing she was wise enough to fasten her watch so that it could not be slipped up; but she was in such a fright that she had no thought about her; for she, when she felt the pull, screamed out, and pushed herself forward, and put all the people about her into disorder, but said not a word of her watch, or of a pickpocket, for at least two minutes, which was time enough for me, and to spare; for as I had cried out behind her, as I have said, and bore myself back in the crowd as she bore forward, there were several people, at least seven or eight, the throng being still moving on, that were got between me and her in that time, and then I crying out 'A pickpocket' rather sooner than she, she might as well be the person suspected as I, and the people were confused in their inquiry; whereas, had she, with a presence of mind needful on such an occasion, as soon as she felt the pull, not screamed out as she did, but turned immediately round and seized the next body that was behind her, she had infallibly taken me.
This is a direction not of the kindest sort to the fraternity, but 'tis