|24||THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS|
naming a place where he was sure it was not, that she might be a little while a-looking for it.
As soon as she was gone, he related the whole story to me of the discourse his brother had about me, and his concern about it, which was the reason of his contriving this visit. I assured him I had never opened my mouth either to his brother or to anybody else. I told him the dreadful exigence I was in; that my love to him, and his offering to have me forget that affection and remove it to another, had thrown me down; and that I had a thousand times wished I might die rather than recover, and to have the same circumstances to struggle with as I had before. I added that I foresaw that as soon as I was well I must quit the family, and that, as for marrying his brother, I abhorred the thoughts of it after what had been my case with him, and that he might depend upon it I would never see his brother again upon that subject; that if he would break all his vows, and oaths, and engagements with me, be that between his conscience and himself; but he should never be able to say that I, whom he had persuaded to call myself his wife, and who had given him the liberty to use me as a wife, was not as faithful to him as a wife ought to be, whatever he might be to me.
He was going to reply, and had said that he was sorry I could not be persuaded, and was a-going to say more, but he heard his sister a-coming, and so did I; and yet I forced out these few words as a reply, that I could never be persuaded to love one brother and marry the other. He shook his head, and said, 'Then I am ruined', meaning himself; and that moment his sister entered the room, and told him she could not find the flute. 'Well', says he merrily, 'this laziness won't do'; so he gets up, and goes himself to look for it, but comes back without it too; not but that he could have found it, but he had no mind to play; and, besides, the errand he sent his sister on was answered another way; for he only wanted to speak to me, which he had done, though not much to his satisfaction.
I had, however, a great deal of satisfaction in having spoken my mind to him in freedom, and with such an honest plainness, as I have related; and though it did not at all work the way I desired, that is to say, to oblige the person to me the more, yet it took from him all possibility of quitting me but by a downright breach of honour, and giving up all the faith of a gentleman, which he had so often engaged by, never to abandon me, but to make me his wife as soon as he came to his estate.
It was not many weeks after this before I was about the house again, and began to grow well; but I continued melancholy and retired, which amazed the whole family, except he that knew the reason of it; yet it was a great while before he took any notice of it, and I, as backward to speak as he, carried as respectfully to him, but never offered to speak a word that was particular of any kind whatsoever; and this continued for sixteen or seventeen weeks; so that, as I expected every day to be dismissed the family, on account of what distaste they had taken another way, in which I had no guilt, I expected to hear no more of this gentleman, after all his solemn vows, but to be ruined and abandoned.
At last I broke the way myself in the family for my removing; for being talking seriously with the old lady one day, about my own circumstances, and how my distemper had left a heaviness upon my spirits, the old lady said, 'I am afraid, Betty, what I have said to you about my son