|140||THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS|
So this was a robbery and no robbery, for little was lost by it, and nothing was got by it, and I was quite sick of going out in a beggar's dress; it did not answer at all, and besides, I thought it ominous and threatening.
While I was in this disguise, I fell in with a parcel of folks of a worse kind than any I ever sorted with, and I saw a little into their ways too. These were coiners of money, and they made some very good offers to me, as to profit; but the part they would have had me embark in was the most dangerous. I mean that of the very working of the die, as they call it, which, had I been taken, had been certain death, and that at a stake; I say, to be burnt to death at a stake; so that though I was to appearance but a beggar, and they promised mountains of gold and silver to me to engage, yet it would not do. 'Tis true, if I had been really a beggar, or had been desperate as when I began, I might, perhaps, have closed with it; for what care they to die, that cannot tell how to live? But at present that was not my condition, at least, I was for no such terrible risks as those; besides, the very thought of being burnt at a stake struck terror to my very soul, chilled my blood, and gave me the vapours to such a degree, as I could not think of it without trembling.
This put an end to my disguise too, for though I did not like the proposal, yet I did not tell them so, but seemed to relish it, and promised to meet again. But I durst see them no more; for if I had seen them, and not complied, though I had declined it with the greatest assurances of secrecy in the world, they would have gone near to have murdered me, to make sure work, and make themselves easy, as they call it. What kind of easiness that is, they may best judge that understand how easy men are that can murder people to prevent danger.
This and horse-stealing were things quite out of my way, and I might easily resolve I would have no more to say to them. My business seemed to lie another way, and though it had hazard enough in it too, yet it was more suitable to me, and what had more of art in it, and more chances for a coming off if a surprise should happen.
I had several proposals made also to me about that time, to come into a gang of housebreakers; but that was a thing I had no mind to venture at neither, any more than I had at the coining trade.
I offered to go along with two men and a woman, that made it their business to get into houses by stratagem. I was willing enough to venture, but there were three of them already, and they did not care to part, nor I to have too many in a gang; so I did not close with them, and they paid dear for their next attempt.
But at length I met with a woman that had often told me what adventures she had made, and with success, at the waterside, and I closed with her, and we drove on our business pretty well. One day we came among some Dutch people at St Catharine's, where we went on pretence to buy goods that were privately got on shore. I was two or three times in a house where we saw a good quantity of prohibited goods, and my companion once brought away three pieces of Dutch black silk that turned to good account, and I had my share of it; but in all the journeys I made by myself, I could not get an opportunity to do anything, so I laid it aside, for I had been there so often that they began to suspect something.
This baulked me a little, and I resolved to push at something or other,