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134 THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS

can I take it well? If you had dismissed me when your insolent fellow seized on me in the street and brought me to you, and when you yourself acknowledged I was not the person, I would have put it by, and not have taken it ill, because of the many ill things I believe you have put upon you daily; but your treatment of me since has been insufferable, and especially that of your servant; I must and will have reparation for that.'

Then he began to parley with me, said he would make me any reason able satisfaction, and would fain have had me told him what it was I expected. I told him I should not be my own judge; the law should decide it for me; and as I was to be carried before a magistrate, I should let him hear there what I had to say. He told me there was no occasion to go before the justice now; I was at liberty to go where I pleased; and calling to the constable, told him he might let me go, for I was discharged. The constable said calmly to him, 'Sir, you asked me just now if I knew whether I was a constable or a justice, and bade me do my duty, and charged me with this gentlewoman as a prisoner. Now, sir, I find you do not understand what is my duty, for you would make me a justice indeed; but I must tell you it is not in my power; I may keep a prisoner when I am charged with him, but 'tis the law and the magistrate alone that can discharge that prisoner; therefore, 'tis a mistake, sir; I must carry her before a justice now, whether you think well of it or not.' The mercer was very high with the constable at first; but the constable happening to be not a hired officer, but a good, substantial kind of man (I think he was a corn-chandler), and a man of good sense, stood to his business, would not discharge me without going to a justice of the peace, and I insisted upon it too. When the mercer saw that, 'Well', says he to the constable, 'you may carry her where you please; I have nothing to say to her.' 'But, sir', says the constable, 'you will go with us, I hope, for 'tis you that charged me with her.' 'No, not I', says the mercer; 'I tell you I have nothing to say to her.' 'But pray, sir, do', says the constable; 'I desire it of you for your own sake, for the justice can do nothing without you.' 'Prithee, fellow', says the mercer, 'go about your business; I tell you I have nothing to say to the gentlewoman. I charge you in the king's name to dismiss her.' 'Sir', says the constable, 'I find you don't know what it is to be a constable; I beg of you, don't oblige me to be rude to you.' 'I think I need not; you are rude enough already', says the mercer. 'No, sir', says the constable, 'I am not rude; you have broken the peace in bringing an honest woman out of the street, when she was about her lawful occasions, confining her in your shop, and ill-using her here by your servants; and now can you say I am rude to you? I think I am civil to you in not commanding you in the king's name to go with me, and charging every man I see that passes your door to aid and assist me in carrying you by force; this you know I have power to do, and yet I forbear it, and once more entreat you to go with me.' Well, he would not for all this, and gave the constable ill language. However, the constable kept his temper, and would not be provoked; and then I put in and said, 'Come, Mr. Constable, let him alone; I shall find ways enough to fetch him before a magistrate, I don't fear that; but there's that fellow', says I, 'he was the man that seized on me as I ways innocently going along the street, and you are a witness of his violence with me since; give me leave to charge you with him, and carry him before a justice.' 'Yes, madam', says the constable; and, turning to the fellow, 'Come, young gentleman',