|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||117|
the hazard—I say, my governess was something impatient of my leading such a useless, unprofitable life, as she called it; and she laid a new contrivance for my going abroad, and this was to dress me up in men's clothes, and so put me into a new kind of practice.
I was tall and personable, but a little too smooth-faced for a man; however, as I seldom went abroad but in the night, it did well enough; but it was long before I could behave in my new clothes. It was impossible to be so nimble, so ready, so dexterous at these things in a dress contrary to nature; and as I did everything clumsily, so I had neither the success or easiness of escape that I had before, and I resolved to leave it off; but that resolution was confirmed soon after by the following accident.
As my governess had disguised me like a man, so she joined me with a man, a young fellow that was nimble enough at his business, and for about three weeks we did very well together. Our principal trade was watching shopkeepers' counters, and slipping off any kinds of goods we could see carelessly laid anywhere, and we made several good bargains, as we called them, at this work. And as we kept always together, so we grew very intimate, yet he never knew that I was not a man, nay, though several times went home with him to his lodgings, according as our business directed, and four or five times lay with him all night. But our design lay another way, and it was absolutely necessary to me to conceal my sex from him, as appeared afterwards. The circumstances of our living, coming in late, and having such business to do as required that nobody should be trusted with coming into our lodgings, were such as made it impossible to me to refuse lying whith him, unless I would have owned my sex; and as it was, I effectually concealed myself.
But his ill, and my good, fortune soon put an end to this life, which I must own I was sick of too. We had made several prizes in this new way of business, but the last would have been extraordinary. There was a shop in a certain street which had a warehouse behind it that looked into another street, the house making the corner.
Through the window of the warehouse we saw lying on the counter or showboard, which was just before it, five pieces of silks, besides other stuffs, and though it was almost dark, yet the people, being busy in the fore-shop, had not had time to shut up those windows, or else had forgot it.
This the young fellow was so overjoyed with, that he could not restrain himself. It lay within his reach, he said, and he swore violently to me that he would have it, if he broke down the house for it. I dissuaded him a little, but saw there was no remedy; so he ran rashly upon it, slipped out a square out of the sash window dexterously enough, and got four pieces of the silks, and came with them towards me, but was immediately pursued with a terrible clutter and noise. We were standing together indeed, but I had not taken any of the goods out of his hand, when I said to him hastily, 'You are undone!' He ran like lightning, and I too, but the pursuit was hotter after him, because he had the goods. He dropped two of the pieces, which stopped them a little, but the crowd increased, and pursued us both. They took him soon after with the other two pieces, and then the rest followed me. I ran for it and got into my governess's house, whither some quick-eyed people followed me so warmly as to fix me there. They did not immediately knock at the door, by which I got time to throw of my disguise and dress me in my own clothes; besides,