|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||165|
hill?' 'Yes', said I: 'it was I indeed.' Then I told him the particulars which I had observed of him there. Why, then', said he, 'it was you that saved my life at that time, and I am glad I owe my life to you, for I will pay the debt to you now, and I'll deliver you from the present condition you are in, or I will die in the attempt.'
I told him, by no means; it was a risk too great, not worth his running the hazard of, and for a life not worth his saving. 'Twas no matter for that, he said; it was a life worth all the world to him; a life that had given him a new life; 'for', says he, 'I was never in real danger, but that time, till the last minute when I was taken.' Indeed, his danger then lay in his believing he had not been pursued that way; for they had gone off from Hockley quite another way, and had come over the enclosed country into Brickhill, and were sure they had not been seen by anybody.
Here he gave a long history of his life, which indeed would make a very strange history, and be infinitely diverting. He told me that he took the road about twelve years before he married me; that the woman which called him brother, was not any kin to him, but one that belonged to their gang, and who, keeping correspondence with them, lived always in town, having great acquaintance; that she gave them perfect intelligence of persons going out of town, and that they had made several good booties by her correspondence; that she thought she had fixed a fortune for him, when she brought me to him, but happened to be disappointed, which he really could not blame her for; that if I had had an estate, which she was informed I had, he had resolved to leave off the road and live a new life, but never to appear in public till some general pardon had been passed, or till he could, for money, have got his name into some particular pardon, so that he might have been perfectly easy; but that, as it had proved other wise, he was obliged to take up the old trade again.
He gave a long account of some of his adventures, and particularly one where he robbed the West Chester coaches near Lichfield, when he got a very great booty; and after that, how he robbed five graziers in the west, going to Burford Fair, in Wiltshire, to buy sheep. He told me he got so much money on those two occasions that, if he had known where to have found me, he would certainly have embraced my proposal of going with me to Virginia, or to have settled in a plantation, or some other of the English colonies in America.
He told me he wrote three letters to me, directed according to my order, but heard nothing from me. This indeed I knew to be true, but the letters coming to my hand in the time of my latter husband, I could do nothing in it, and therefore gave no answer, that so he might believe they had miscarried.
Being thus disappointed, he said he carried on the old trade ever since, though, when he had gotten so much money, he said, he did not run such desperate risks as he did before. Then he gave me some account of several hard and desperate encounters which he had with gentlemen on the road, who parted too hardly with their money, and showed me some wounds he had received; and he had one or two very terrible wounds indeed, particularly one by a pistol-bullet, which broke his arm, and another with a sword, which ran him quite through the body, but that missing his vitals, he was cured again; one of his comrades having kept with him so faithfully, and so friendly, as that he assisted him in riding near eighty miles before his arm was set, and then got a surgeon in a considerable city,