|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||161|
damned and cursed those that had brought them to it, many pitying them, and some few, but very few, praying for them.
There was hardly room for so much composure of mind as was required for me to bless the merciful Providence that had, as it were, snatched me out of the jaws of this destruction. I remained, as it were, dumb and silent, overcome with the sense of it, and not able to express what I had in my heart; for the passions on such occasions as these are certainly so agitated as not to be able presently to regulate their own motions.
All the while the poor condemned creatures were preparing for death, and the ordinary, as they call him, was busy with them, disposing them to submit to their sentence—I say, all this while I was seized with a fit of trembling, as much as I could have been if I had been in the same condition as I was the day before; I was soagitated by this surprising fit that I shook as if it had been an ague, so that I could not speak or look but like one distracted. As soon as they were all put into the carts and gone, which, however, I had not courage enough to see—I say, as soon as they were gone, I fell into a fit of crying involuntarily, as a mere distemper, and yet so violent, and it held me so long, that I knew not what course to take, nor could I stop, or put a check to it, no, not with all the strength and courage I had.
This fit of crying held me near two hours, and, as I believe, held me till they were all out of the world, and then a most humble, penitent, serious kind of joy succeeded; a real transport it was, or passion of thankfulness, and in this I continued most part of the day.
In the evening the good minister visited me again, and fell to his usual good discourses. He congratulated my having a space yet allowed me for repentance, whereas the state of those six poor creatures was determined, and they were now past the offers of salvation; he pressed me to retain the same sentiments of the things of life that I had when I had a view of eternity; and, at the end of all, told me that I should not conclude that all was over, that a reprieve was not a pardon, that he could not answer for the effects of it; however, I had this mercy, that I had more time given me, and it was my business to improve that time.
This discourse left a kind of sadness on my heart, as if I might expect the affair would have a tragical issue still, which, however, he had no certainty of; yet I did not at that time question him about it, he having said he would do his utmost to bring it to a good end, and that he hoped he might, but he would not have me be secure; and the consequence showed that he had reason for what he said.
It was about a fortnight after this, that I had some just apprehensions that I should be included in the dead warrant at the ensuing sessions; and it was not without great difficulty, and at last an humble petition for transportation, that I avoided it, so ill was I beholding to fame, and so prevailing was the report of being an old offender; though in that they did not do me strict justice, for I was not in the sense of the law an old offender, whatever I was in the eye of the judge, for I had never been before them in a judicial way before; so the judges could not charge me with being an old offender, but the Recorder was pleased to represent my case as he thought fit.
I had now a certainty of life indeed, but with the hard conditions of being ordered for transportation, which was, I say, a hard condition in itself, but not when comparatively considered; and therefore I shall make