|162||THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS|
no comments upon the sentence, nor upon the choice I was put to. We all shall choose anything rather than death, especially when 'tis attended with an uncomfortable prospect beyond it, which was my case.
The good minister, whose interest, though a stranger to me, had obtained me the reprieve, mourned sincerely for his part. He was in hopes, he said, that I should have ended my days under the influence of good instruction, that I might not have forgot my former distresses, and that I should not have been turned loose again among such a wretched crew as are thus sent abroad, where, he said, I must have more than ordinary secret assistance from the grace of God, if I did not turn as wicked again as ever.
I have not for a good while mentioned my governess, who had been dangerously sick, and, being in as near a view of death by her disease as I was by my sentence, was a very great penitent; I say, I have not mentioned her, nor indeed did I see her in all this time; but being now recovering, and just able to come abroad, she came to see me.
I told her my condition, and what a different flux and reflux of fears and hopes I had been agitated with; I told her what I had escaped, and upon what terms; and she was present when the minister expressed his fears of my relapsing again into wickedness upon my falling into the wretched company that are generally transported. Indeed I had a melancholy reflection upon it in my own mind, for I knew what a dreadful gang was always sent away together, and said to my governess that the good minister's fears were not without cause. 'Well, well', says she, 'but I hope you will not be tempted with such a horrid example as that.' And as soon as the minister was gone, she told me she would not have me discouraged, for perhaps ways and means might be found to dispose of me in a particular way, by myself, of which she would talk further with me afterward.
I looked earnestly at her, and thought she looked more cheerfully than she usually had done, and I entertained immediately a thousand notions of being delivered, but could not for my life imagine the methods, or think of one that was feasible; but I was too much concerned in it to let her go from me without explaining herself, which, though she was very loth to do, yet, as I was still pressing, she answered me in a few words, thus: 'Why, you have money, have you not? Did you ever know one in your life that was transported and had a hundred pounds in his pocket, I'll warrant ye, child?' says she.
I understood her presently, but told her I saw no room to hope for anything but a strict execution of the order, and as it was a severity that was esteemed a mercy, there was no doubt but it would be strictly observed. She said no more but this: 'We will try what can be done'; and so we parted. I lay in the prison near fifteen weeks after this. What the reason of it was I know not, but at the end of this time I was put on board of a ship in the Thames, and with me a gang of thirteen as hardened vile creatures as ever Newgate produced in my time; and it would really well take up a history longer than mine to describe the degrees of impudence and audacious villainy that those thirteen were arrived to, and the manner of their behaviour in the voyage; of which I have a very diverting account by me, which the captain of the ship who carried them over gave me, and which he caused his mate to write down at large.