|160||THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS|
I wondered much that I did not see him all the next day, it being but the day before the time appointed for execution; and I was greatly discouraged and dejected, and indeed almost sank for want of that comfort which he had so often, and with such success, yielded me in his former visits. I waited with great impatience, and under the greatest oppression of spirits imaginable, till about four o'clock, when he came to my apartment; for I had obtained the favour, by the help of money, nothing being to be done in that place without it, not to be kept in the condemned hole, among the rest of the prisoners who were to die, but to have a little dirty chamber to myself.
My heart leaped within me for joy when I heard his voice at the door, even before I saw him; but let any one judge what kind of motion I found in my soul, when, after having made a short excuse for his not coming, he showed me that his time had been employed on my account, that he had obtained a favourable report from the Recorder in my case, and, in short, that he had brought me a reprieve.
He used all the caution that he was able in letting me know what it would have been double cruelty to have concealed; for as grief had overset me before, so did joy overset me now, and I fell into a more dangerous swooning than at first, and it was not without difficulty that I was re covered at all.
The good man having made a very Christian exhortation to me not to let the joy of my reprieve put the remembrance of my past sorrow out of my mind, and told me that he must leave me, to go and enter the reprieve in the books, and show it to the sheriffs, he stood up just before his going away, and in a very earnest manner prayed to God for me, that my repentance might be made unfeigned and sincere; and that my coming back, as it were, into life again might not be a returning to the follies of life, which I had made such solemn resolutions to forsake. I joined heartily in that petition, and must needs say I had deeper impressions upon my mind all that night, of the mercy of God in sparing my life, and a greater detestation of my sins, from a sense of that goodness, than I had in all my sorrow before.
This may be thought inconsistent in itself, and wide from the business of this book; particularly, I reflect that many of those who may be pleased and diverted with the relation of the wicked part of my story may not relish this, which is really the best part of my life, the most advantageous to myself, and the most instructive to others. Such, however, will I hope, allow me liberty to make my story complete. It would be a severe satire on such to say they do not relish the repentance as much as they do the crime; and they had rather the history were a complete tragedy, as it was very likely to have been.
But I go on with my relation. The next morning there was a sad scene indeed in the prison. The first thing I was saluted with in the morning was the tolling of the great bell at St Sepulchre's, which ushered in the day. As soon as it began to toll, a dismal groaning and crying was heard from the condemned hole, where there lay six poor souls, who were to be executed that day, some for one crime, some for another, and two for murder.
This was followed by a confused clamour in the house, among the several prisoners, expressing their awkward sorrows for the poor creatures that were to die, but in a manner extremely differing one from another. Some cried for them; some brutishly huzzaed, and wished them a good journey; some