Page:Moll Flanders (1906 edition).djvu/320

This page has been validated.

concluded with moving me to reflect, with the same regret as he did, on our follies we had committed together; asked me forgiveness for being the aggressor in the fact, and forgave me everything, he said, but the cruelty of refusing him, which he owned he could not forgive me so heartily as he should do, because he was satisfied it was an injury to myself, would be an introduction to my ruin, and that I would seriously repent of it. He foretold some fatal things which, he said, he was well assured I should fall into, and that, at last, I would be ruined by a bad husband; bid me be the more wary, that I might render him a false prophet; but to re member that, if ever I came into distress, I had a fast friend at Paris, who would not upbraid me with the unkind things past, but would be always ready to return me good for evil.

This letter stunned me. I could not think it possible for any one that had not dealt with the devil to write such a letter, for he spoke of some particular things which afterwards were to befall me with such an assurance that it frighted me beforehand; and when those things did come to pass, I was persuaded he had some more than human knowledge. In a word, his advices to me to repent were very affectionate, his warnings of evil to happen to me were very kind, and his promises of assistance, if I wanted him, were so generous that I have seldom seen the like; and, though I did not at first set much by that part because I looked upon them as what might not happen, and as what was improbable to happen at that time, yet all the rest of his letter was so moving that it left me very melancholy, and I cried four-and-twenty hours after, almost without ceasing, about it; and yet even all this while, whatever it was that bewitched me, I had not one serious wish that I had taken him. I wished heartily, indeed, that I could have kept him with me, but I had a mortal aversion to marrying him, or indeed anybody else, but formed a thousand wild notions in my head that I was yet gay enough, and young and handsome enough, to please a man of quality, and that I would try my fortune at London, come of it what would.

Thus, blinded by my own vanity, I threw away the only opportunity I then had to have effectually settled my fortunes, and secured them for this world; and I am a memorial to all that shall read my story, a standing monument of the madness and distraction which pride and infatuation from hell run us into, how ill our passions guide us, and how dangerously we act when we follow the dictates of an ambitious mind.

I was rich, beautiful, and agreeable, and not yet old. I had known something of the influence I had had upon the fancies of men even of the highest rank. I never forgot that the Prince de —— had said, with an ecstasy, that I was the finest woman in France. I knew I could make a figure at London, and how well I could grace that figure. I was not at a loss how to behave, and, having already been adored by princes, I thought of nothing less than of being mistress to the king himself. But I go back to my immediate circumstances at that time.

I got over the absence of my honest merchant but slowly at first. It was with infinite regret that I let him go at all; and when I read the letter he left I was quite confounded. As soon as he was out of call and irrecoverable, I would have given half I had in the world for him back again; my notion of things changed in an instant, and I called myself a thousand fools for casting myself upon a life of scandal and hazard, when, after the shipwreck of virtue, honour, and principle, and sailing at the