|164||THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS|
really understand what he meant; and I answered, 'How can you call me cruel?' 'To come to me', says he, 'in such a place at this, is it not to insult me? I have not robbed you, at least not on the highway.'
I perceived by this, that he knew nothing of the miserable circumstances I was in, and thought that, having got intelligence of his being there, I had come to upbraid him with his leaving me. But I had too much to say to him to be affronted, and told him in a few words, that I was far from coming to insult him, but at best I came to condole mutually; that he would be easily satisfied that I had no such view, when I should tell him that my condition was worse than his, and that many ways. He looked a little concerned at the expression of my condition being worse than his, but, with a kind of a smile, said, 'How can that be? When you see me fettered, and in Newgate, and two of my companions executed already, can you say your condition is worse than mine?'
'Come, my dear', says I, 'we have a long piece of work to do, if I should be to relate, or you to hear, my unfortunate history; but if you will hear it, you will soon conclude with me that my condition is worse than yours.' 'How is that possible', says he, 'when I expect to be cast for my life the very next sessions?' 'Yes', says I, '’tis very possible, when I shall tell you that I have been cast for my life three sessions ago, and am now under sentence of death; is not my case worse than yours?'
Then, indeed, he stood silent again, like one struck dumb, and after a little while he starts up. 'Unhappy couple!' says he; 'how can this be possible?' I took him by the hand. 'Come, my dear', said I, 'sit down, and let us compare our sorrows. I am a prisoner in this very house, and in a much worse circumstance than you, and you will be satisfied I do not come to insult you when I tell you the particulars.' And with this we sat down together, and I told him so much of my story as I thought convenient, bringing it at last to my being reduced to great poverty, and representing myself as fallen into some company that led me to relieve my distresses by a way that I had been already unacquainted with, and that, they making an attempt on a tradesman's house, I was seized upon, for having been but just at the door, the maid-servant pulling me in; that I neither had broke any lock or taken anything away, and that, notwithstanding that, I was brought in guilty and sentenced to die; but that the judges having been made sensible of the hardship of my circumstances, had obtained leave for me to be transported.
I told him I fared the worse for being taken in the prison for one Moll Flanders, who was a famous successful thief, that all of them had heard of, but none of them had ever seen; but that, as he knew, was none of my name. But I placed all to the account of my ill fortune, and that under this name I was dealt with as an old offender, though this was the first thing they had ever known of me. I gave him a long account of what had befallen me since I saw him, but told him I had seen him since he might think I had; then gave him an account how I had seen him at Brickhill; how he was pursued, and how, by giving an account that I knew him, and that he was a very honest gentleman, the hue-and-cry was stopped, and the high constable went back again.
He listened most attentively to all my story, and smiled at the particulars, being all of them infinitely below what he had been at the head of; but when I came to the story of Little Brickhill he was surprised. 'And was it you, my dear', said he, 'that gave the check to the mob at Brick-