Page:Moll Flanders (1906 edition).djvu/36

This page has been validated.

'Then I would have no victuals', says I again, very innocently; 'let me but live with you.'

'Why, can you live without victuals?' says she. 'Yes', again says I, very much like a child, you may be sure, and still I cried heartily.

I had no policy in all this; you may easily see it was all nature; but it was joined with so much innocence and so much passion that, in short, it set the good, motherly creature a-weeping too, and at last she cried as fast as I did, and then took me and led me out of the teaching-room. 'Come', says she, 'you shan't go to service; you shall live with me'; and this pacified me for the present.

After this, she going to wait on the Mayor, my story came up, and my good nurse told Mr Mayor the whole tale; he was so pleased with it, that he would call his lady and his two daughters to hear it, and it made mirth enough among them, you may be sure.

However, not a week had passed over, but on a sudden comes Mrs Mayoress and her two daughters to the house to see my old nurse, and to see her school and the children. When they had looked about them a little, 'Well, Mrs ——', says the Mayoress to my nurse, 'and pray which is the little lass that is to be a gentlewoman?' I heard her, and I was terribly frighted, though I did not know why neither; but Mrs Mayoress comes up to me, 'Well, miss', says she, 'and what are you at work upon?' The word miss was a language that had hardly been heard of in our school, and I wondered what sad name it was she called me; however, I stood up, made a curtsey, and she took my work out of my hand, looked on it, and said it was very well; then she looked upon one of my hands. 'Nay, she may come to be a gentlewoman', says she, 'for aught I know; she has a lady's hand, I assure you.' This pleased me mightily; but Mrs Mayoress did not stop there, but put her hand in her pocket, gave me a shilling, and bid me mind my work, and learn to work well, and I might be a gentlewoman for aught she knew.

All this while my good old nurse, Mrs Mayoress, and all the rest of them, did not understand me at all, for they meant one sort of thing by the word gentlewoman, and I meant quite another; for, alas! all I understood by being a gentlewoman, was to be able to work for myself, and get enough to keep me without going to service, whereas they meant to live great and high, and I know not what.

Well, after Mrs Mayoress was gone, her two daughters came in, and they called for the gentlewoman too, and they talked a long while to me, and I answered them in my innocent way; but always, if they asked me whether I resolved to be a gentlewoman, I answered, 'Yes'. At last they asked me what a gentlewoman was? That puzzled me much. However, I explained myself negatively, that it was one that did not go to service, to do house-work; they were mightily pleased, and liked my little prattle to them, which, it seems, was agreeable enough to them, and they gave me money too.

As for my money, I gave it all to my mistress-nurse, as I called her, and told her she should have all I got when I was a gentlewoman as well as now. By this and some other of my talk, my old tutoress began to understand what I meant by being a gentlewoman, and that it was no more than to be able to get my bread by my own work; and at last she asked me whether it was not so.

I told her, yes, and insisted on it, that to do so was to be a gentlewoman;