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THE LIFE OF ROXANA

He looked pleased, but surprised very much, and inquired of Amy, but with very great respect, what he should go to school to learn, and what trade she would please to put him out to.

Amy said he should put him to learn a little Latin, and then merchants' accounts, and to write a good hand, for she would have him be put to a Turkey merchant.

'Madam', says he, 'I am glad for his sake to hear you talk so; but do you know that a Turkey merchant will not take him under £400 or £500?'

'Yes, sir', says Amy, 'I know it very well.'

'And', says he, 'that it will require as many thousands to set him up?'

'Yes, sir', says Amy, 'I know that very well too'; and, resolving to talk very big, she added, 'I have no children of my own, and I resolve to make him my heir, and if £10,000 be required to set him up, he shall not want it. I was but his mother's servant when he was born, and I mourned heartily for the disaster of the family, and I always said, if ever I was worth anything in the world, I would take the child for my own, and I'll be as good as my word now, though I did not then foresee that it would be with me as it has been since.' And so Amy told him a long story how she was troubled for me, and what she would give to hear whether I was dead or alive, and what circumstances I was in; that if she could but find me, if I was ever so poor, she would take care of me, and make a gentlewoman of me again.

He told her that, as to the child's mother, she had been reduced to the last extremity, and was obliged (as he supposed she knew) to send the children all among her husband's friends; and, if it had not been for him, they had all been sent to the parish; but that he obliged the other relations to share the charge among them; that he had taken two, whereof he had lost the eldest, who died of the smallpox, but that he had been as careful of this as of his own, and had made very little difference in their breeding up, only that, when he came to put him out, he thought it was best for the boy to put him to a trade which he might set up in without a stock, for otherwise his time would be lost; and that, as to his mother, he had never been able to hear one word of her, no, not though he had made the utmost inquiry after her; that there went a report that she had drowned herself, but that he could never meet with anybody that could give him a certain account of it.

Amy counterfeited a cry for her poor mistress; told him she would give anything in the world to see her, if she was alive; and a great deal more such-like talk they had about that; then they returned to speak of the boy.

He inquired of her why she did not seek after the child before, that he might have been brought up from a younger age, suitable to what she designed to do for him.

She told him she had been out of England, and was but newly returned from the East Indies. That she had been out of England, and was but newly returned, was true, but the latter was false, and was put in to blind him, and provide against farther inquiries; for it was not a strange thing for young women to go away poor to the East Indies, and come home vastly rich. So she went on with directions about him, and both agreed in this, that the boy should by no means be told what was intended for him, but only that he should be taken home again to his uncle's, that his uncle thought the trade too hard for him, and the like.