|136||THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS|
The justice then heard the mercer and his man. The mercer indeed made a long harangue of the great loss they have daily by the lifters and thieves; that it was easy for them to mistake, and that when he found it, he would have dismissed me, &c., as above. As to the journeyman, he had very little to say, but that he pretended other of the servants told him that I was really the person.
Upon the whole, the justice first of all told me very courteously I was discharged; that he was very sorry that the mercer's man should, in his eager pursuit, have so little discretion as to take up an innocent person for a guilty; that if he had not been so unjust as to detain me afterwards, he believed I would have forgiven the first affront; that, however, it was not in his power to award me any reparation, other than by openly reproving them, which he should do; but he supposed I would apply to such methods as the law directed; in the meantime he would bind him over.
But as to the breach of the peace committed by the journeyman, he told me he should give me some satisfaction for that, for he should commit him to Newgate for assaulting the constable, and for assaulting of me also.
Accordingly he sent the fellow to Newgate for that assault, and his master gave bail, and so we came away; but I had the satisfaction of seeing the mob wait upon them both, as they came out, hallooing and throwing stones and dirt at the coaches they rode in; and so I came home.
After this hustle, coming home and telling my governess the story, she falls a-laughing at me. 'Why are you so merry?' says I; 'the story has not so much laughing-room in it as you imagine. I am sure I have had a great deal of hurry and fright too, with a pack of ugly rogues.' 'Laugh!' says my governess; 'I laugh, child, to see what a lucky creature you are; why, this job will be the best bargain to you that ever you made in your life, if you manage it well. I warrant you, you shall make the mercer pay £500 for damages, besides what you shall get of the journeyman.'
I had other thoughts of the matter than she had; and especially, because I had given in my name to the justice of peace; and I knew that my name was so well known among the people at Hick's Hall, the Old Bailey, and such places, that if this cause came to be tried openly, and my name came to be inquired into, no court would give much damages, for the reputation of a person of such a character. However, I was obliged to begin a prosecution in form, and accordingly my governess found me out a very creditable sort of man to manage it, being an attorney of very good business, and of good reputation, and she was certainly in the right of this; for had she employed a pettifogging hedge solicitor, or a man not known, I should have brought it to but little.
I met this attorney, and gave him all the particulars at large, as they are recited above; and he assured me it was a case, as he said, that he did not question but that a jury would give very considerable damages; so taking his full instructions, he began the prosecution, and the mercer being arrested, gave bail. A few days after his giving bail, he comes with his attorney to my attorney, to let him know that he desired to accommodate the matter; that it was all carried on in the heat of an unhappy passion; that his client, meaning me, had a sharp provoking tongue, and that I used them ill, gibing at them and jeering them, even while they believed me to be the very person, and that I had provoked them, and the like.
My attorney managed as well on my side; made them believe I was a