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THE LIFE OF ROXANA

This amazed him, and he told me I was pleased to be mysterious, but that he was sure it was in nobody's power to hinder him going, if he resolved upon it, except me, who had influence enough upon him to make him do anything.

Yes, I told him, I could hinder him, because I knew he could no more do an unkind thing by me than he could do an unjust one; and to put him out of his pain, I told him I was with child.

He came to me, and taking me in his arms and kissing me a thousand times almost, said, Why would I be so unkind not to tell him that before? I told him 'twas hard that, to have him stay, I should be forced to do as criminals do to avoid the gallows, plead my belly; and that I thought I had given him testimonies enough of an affection equal to that of a wife, if I had not only lain with him, been with child by him, shown myself unwilling to part with him, but offered to go to the East Indies with him; and, except one thing that I could not grant, what could he ask more?

He stood mute a good while, but afterwards told me he had a great deal more to say if I could assure him that I would not take ill whatever freedom he might use with me in his discourse.

I told him he might use any freedom in words with me; for a woman who had given leave to such other freedoms as I had done had left herself no room to take anything ill, let it be what it would.

'Why, then', he said, 'I hope you believe, madam, I was born a Christian, and that I have some sense of sacred things upon my mind. When I first broke in upon my own virtue and assaulted yours; when I surprised, and, as it were, forced you to that which neither you intended or I designed but a few hours before, it was upon a presumption that you would certainly marry me, if once I could go that length with you, and it was with an honest resolution to make you my wife.

'But I have been surprised with such a denial that no woman in such circumstances ever gave to a man; for certainly it was never known that any woman refused to marry a man that had first lain with her, much less a man that had gotten her with child. But you go upon different notions from all the world, and, though you reason upon it so strongly that a man knows hardly what to answer, yet I must own there is something in it shocking to nature, and something very unkind to yourself. But, above all, it is unkind to the child that is yet unborn, who, if we marry, will come into the world with advantage enough, but if not, is ruined before it is born; must bear the eternal reproach of what it is not guilty of; must be branded from its cradle with a mark of infamy, be loaded with the crimes and follies of its parents, and suffer for sins that it never committed. This I take to be very hard, and, indeed, cruel to the poor infant not yet born, who you cannot think of with any patience, if you have the common affection of a mother, and not do that for it which should at once place it on a level with the rest of the world, and not leave it to curse its parents for what also we ought to be ashamed of. I cannot, therefore', says he, 'but beg and entreat you, as you are a Christian and a mother, not to let the innocent lamb you go with be ruined before it is born, and leave it to curse and reproach us hereafter for what may be so easily avoided.

'Then, dear madam', said he, with a world of tenderness (and I thought I saw tears in his eyes), 'allow me to repeat it, that I am a Christian,