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THE LIFE OF ROXANA

This was my wretched condition, when one morning my husband told me he was sensible he was come to a miserable condition, and he would go and seek his fortune somewhere or other. He had said something to that purpose several times before that, upon my pressing him to consider his circumstances, and the circumstances of his family, before it should be too late; but as I found he had no meaning in anything of that kind, as, indeed, he had not much in anything he ever said, so I thought they were but words of course now. When he had said he would be gone, I used to wish secretly, and even say in my thoughts, I wish you would, for if you go on thus you will starve us all.

He stayed, however, at home all that day, and lay at home that night; early the next morning he gets out of bed, goes to a window which looked out towards the stable, and sounds his French horn, as he called it, which was his usual signal to call his men to go out a-hunting.

It was about the latter end of August, and so was light yet at five o'clock, and it was about that time that I heard him and his two men go out and shut the yard gates after them. He said nothing to me more than as usual when he used to go out upon his sport; neither did I rise, or say anything to him that was material, but went to sleep again after he was gone, for two hours or thereabouts.

It must be a little surprising to the reader to tell him at once, that after this I never saw my husband more; but, to go farther, I not only never saw him more, but I never heard from him, or of him, neither of any or either of his two servants, or of the horses, either what became of them, where or which way they went, or what they did or intended to do, no more than if the ground had opened and swallowed them all up, and nobody had known it, except as hereafter.

I was not, for the first night or two, at all surprised, no, nor very much the first week or two, believing that if anything evil had befallen them, I should soon enough have heard of that; and also knowing, that as he had two servants and three horses with him, it would be the strangest thing in the world that anything could befall them all, but that I must some time or other hear of them.

But you will easily allow, that as time ran on, a week, two weeks, a month, two months, and so on, I was dreadfully frighted at last, and the more when I looked into my own circumstances, and considered the condition in which I was left with five children, and not one farthing subsistence for them, other than about seventy pounds in money, and what few things of value I had about me, which, though considerable in themselves, were yet nothing to feed a family, and for a length of time too.

What to do I knew not, nor to whom to have recourse: to keep in the house where I was, I could not, the rent being too great; and to leave it without his orders, if my husband should return, I could not think of that neither; so that I continued extremely perplexed, melancholy, and discouraged to the last degree.

I remained in this dejected condition near a twelvemonth. My husband had two sisters, who were married, and lived very well, and some other near relations that I knew of, and I hoped would do something for me; and I frequently sent to these, to know if they could give me any account of my vagrant creature. But they all declared to me in answer, that they knew nothing about him; and, after frequent sending, began to think me