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THE LIFE OF ROXANA

above all that you have seen of it yet. Are you sure you ha'n't got a bite, and that you have not made a beggar a lady?'

'Well', says he, 'have you any more questions to ask? Let's have them all together; perhaps they may be all answered in a few words, as well as these two.' 'No', says I; 'these are the two grand questions at least for the present.' 'Why, then', says he, 'I'll answer you in a few words; that I am fully master of my own circumstances, and, without farther inquiry, can let my wife you speak of know, that, as I have made her a lady, I can maintain her as a lady, wherever she goes with me; and this whether I have one pistole of her portion, or whether she has any portion or no; and, as I have not inquired whether she has any portion or not, so she shall not have the less respect showed her from me, or be obliged to live meaner, or be anyways straitened on that account; on the contrary, if she goes abroad to live with me in my own country, I will make her more than a lady, and support the expense of it too, without meddling with anything she has; and this, I suppose', says he, 'contains an answer to both your questions together.'

He spoke this with a great deal more earnestness in his countenance than I had when I proposed my questions, and said a great many kind things upon it, as the consequence of former discourses, so that I was obliged to be in earnest too. 'My dear', says I, 'I was but in jest in my questions; but they were proposed to introduce what I am going to say to you in earnest; namely, that if I am to go abroad, 'tis time I should let you know how things stand, and what I have to bring you with your wife; how it is to be disposed and secured, and the like; and therefore come', says I, 'sit down, and let me show you your bargain here; I hope you will find that you have not got a wife without a fortune.'

He told me then, that, since he found I was in earnest, he desired that I would adjourn it till tomorrow, and then we would do as the poor people do after they marry, feel in their pockets, and see how much money they can bring together in the world. 'Well', says I, 'with all my heart'; and so we ended our talk for that time.

As this was in the morning, my spouse went out after dinner to his goldsmith's, as he said, and about three hours after returns with a porter and two large boxes with him; and his servant brought another box, which, I observed, was almost as heavy as the two that the porter brought, and made the poor fellow sweat heartily; he dismissed the porter, and in a little while after went out again with his man, and returning at night, brought another porter with more boxes and bundles, and all was carried up, and put into a chamber, next to our bedchamber; and in the morning he called for a pretty large round table, and began to unpack.

When the boxes were opened, I found they were chiefly full of books, and papers, and parchments, I mean books of accounts, and writings, and such things as were in themselves of no moment to me, because I understood them not; but I perceived he took them all out, and spread them about him upon the table and chairs, and began to be very busy with them; so I withdrew and left him; and he was indeed so busy among them, that he never missed me till I had been gone a good while; but, when he had gone through all his papers, and come to open a little box, he called for me again. 'Now', says he, and called me his countess, 'I am ready to answer your first question; if you will sit down till I have opened this box, we will see how it stands.'