|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||141|
for I was not used to come back so often without purchase; so the next day I dressed myself up fine, and took a walk to the other end of the town. I passed through the Exchange in the Strand, but had no notion of finding anything to do there, when on a sudden I saw a great clutter in the place, and all the people, shopkeepers as well as others, standing up and staring; and what should it be but some great duchess coming into the Exchange, and they said the queen was coming. I set myself close up to a shop-side with my back to the counter, as if to let the crowd pass by, when, keeping my eye on a parcel of lace which the shopkeeper was showing to some ladies that stood by me, the shopkeeper and her maid were so taken up with looking to see who was a-coming, and what shop they would go to, that I found means to slip a paper of lace into my pocket, and come clear off with it; so the lady-milliner paid dear enough for her gaping after the queen.
I went off from the shop, as if driven along by the throng, and, mingling myself with the crowd, went out at the other door of the Exchange, and so got away before they missed their lace; and, because I would not be followed, I called a coach, and shut myself up in it. I had scarce shut the coach doors, but I saw the milliner's maid and five or six more come running out into the street, and crying out as if they were frighted. They did not cry 'Stop, thief!', because nobody ran away, but I could hear the word, 'robbed' and 'lace' two or three times, and saw the wench wringing her hands, and run staring to and again, like one scared. The coachman that had taken me up was getting up into the box, but was not quite up, and the horses had not begun to move, so that I was terrible uneasy, and I took the packet of lace and laid it ready to have dropped it out at the flap of the coach, which opens before, just behind the coachman; but to my great satisfaction, in less than a minute the coach began to move, that is to say, as soon as the coachman had got up and spoken to his horses; so he drove away, and I brought off my purchase, which was worth near £20.
The next day I dressed me up again, but in quite different clothes, and walked the same way again, but nothing offered till I came into St James's Park. I saw abundance of fine ladies in the park, walking in the Mall, and among the rest there was a little miss, a young lady of about twelve or thirteen years old, and she had a sister, as I supposed, with her, that might be about nine. I observed the biggest had a fine gold watch on, and a good necklace of pearl, and they had a footman in livery with them; but, as it is not usual for the footmen to go behind the ladies in the Mall, so I observed the footman stopped at their going into the Mall, and the biggest of the sisters spoke to him, to bid him be just there when they came back.
When I heard her dismiss the footman, I stepped up to him, and asked him what little lady that was? and held a little chat with him, about what a pretty child it was with her, and how genteel and well carriaged the eldest would be: how womanish, and how grave; and the fool of a fellow told me presently who she was; that she was Sir Thomas —— 's eldest daughter, of Essex, and that she was a great fortune; that her mother was not come to town yet; but she was with Sir William —— 's lady at her lodgings in Suffolk Street, and a great deal more; that they had a maid and a woman to wait on them, besides Sir Thomas's coach, the coachman, and himself; and that young lady was governess to the whole family, as