|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||133|
heart. 'But, madam', says he, 'let me hear them refuse to let you go, then I may be able to speak the plainer.'
With that, I spoke aloud to the master of the shop, and said, 'Sir, you know in your own conscience that I am not the person you look for, and that I was not in your shop before; therefore I demand that you detain me here no longer, or tell me the reason of your stopping me.' The fellow grew surlier upon this than before, and said he would do neither till he thought fit. 'Very well', said I to the constable and to the porter; 'you will be pleased to remember this, gentlemen, another time.' The porter said, 'Yes, madam'; and the constable began not to like it, and would have persuaded the mercer to dismiss him, and let me go, since, as he said, he owned I was not the person. 'Good sir', says the mercer to him tauntingly, 'are you a justice of peace or a constable? I charged you with her; pray do your duty.' The constable told him, a little moved, but very handsomely, 'I know my duty, and what I am, sir; I doubt you hardly know what you are doing.' They had some other hard words, and in the meantime the journeymen, impudent and unmanly to the last degree, used me barbarously, and one of them, the same that first seized upon me, pretended he would search me, and began to lay hands on me. I spit in his face, called out to the constable, and bade him take notice of my usage. 'And pray, Mr Constable', said I, 'ask that villain's name', pointing to the man. The constable reproved him decently, told him that he did not know what he did, for he knew that his master acknowledged I was not the person; 'and', says the constable, 'I am afraid your master is bringing himself, and me too, into trouble, if this gentlewoman comes to prove who she is, and where she was, and it appears that she is not the woman you pretend to.' 'D——n her', says the fellow again, with an impudent, hardened face; 'she is the lady, you may depend upon it; I'll swear she is the same body that was in the shop, and that I gave the piece of satin that is lost into her own hand. You shall hear more of it when Mr William and Mr Anthony (those were other journeymen) come back; they will know her again as well as I.'
Just as the insolent rogue was talking thus to the constable, comes back Mr William and Mr Anthony, as he called them, and a great rabble with them, bringing along with them the true widow that I was pretended to be; and they came sweating and blowing into the shop, and with a great deal of triumph, dragging the poor creature in a most butcherly manner up towards their master, who was in the back-shop; and they cried out aloud, 'Here's the widow, sir; we have catched her at last.' 'What do you mean by that?' says the master. 'Why, we have her already; there she sits, and Mr —— says he can swear this is she.' The other man, whom they called Mr. Anthony, replied, 'Mr —— may say what he will and swear what he will, but this is the woman, and there's the remnant of satin she stole; I took it out of her clothes with my own hand.'
I now began to take a better heart, but smiled, and said nothing; the master looked pale; the constable turned about and looked at me. 'Let 'em alone, Mr Constable', said I; 'let 'em go on.' The case was plain and could not be denied, so the constable was charged with the right thief, and the mercer told me very civilly he was sorry for the mistake, and hoped I would not take it ill; that they had so many things of this nature put upon them every day that they could not be blamed for being very sharp in doing themselves justice. 'Not take it ill, sir!' said I. 'How