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THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS 27

your consent? But this I will say, I am earnest, that I will never have anybody else, if I can help it. Betty or nobody is the word, and the question, which of the two, shall be in your breast to decide, madam, provided only, that my good-humoured sisters here may have no vote in it.'

All this was dreadful to me, for the mother began to yield, and Robin pressed her home in it. On the other hand, she advised with the eldest son, and he used all the arguments in the world to persuade her to consent; alleging his brother's passionate love for me, and my generous regard to the family, in refusing my own advantages upon such a nice point of honour, and a thousand such things. And as to the father, he was a man in a hurry of public affairs and getting money, seldom at home, thoughtful of the main chance, but left all those things to his wife.

You may easily believe, that when the plot was thus, as they thought, broke out, it was not so difficult or so dangerous for the elder brother, whom nobody suspected of anything, to have a freer access than before; nay, the mother, which was just as he wished, proposed it to him to talk with Mrs Betty. 'It may be, son', said she, 'you may see farther into the thing than I, and see if she has been so positive as Robin says she has been, or no.' This was as well as he could wish, and he, as it were, yielding to talk with me at his mother's request, she brought me to him into her own chamber, told me her son had some business with me at her request, and then she left us together, and he shut the door after her.

He came back to me and took me in his arms, and kissed me very tenderly; but told me it was now come to that crisis, that I should make myself happy or miserable as long as I lived; that if I could not comply to his desire, we should both be ruined. Then he told me the whole story between Robin, as he called him, and his mother, and his sisters, and himself, as above. 'And now, dear child', says he, 'consider what it will be to marry a gentleman of a good family, in good circumstances, and with the consent of the whole house, and to enjoy all that the world can give you; and what, on the other hand, to be sunk into the dark circumstances of a woman that has lost her reputation; and that though I shall be a private friend to you while I live, yet as I shall be suspected always, so you will be afraid to see me, and I shall be afraid to own you.'

He gave me no time to reply, but went on with me thus: 'What has happened between us, child, so long as we both agree to do so, may be buried and forgotten. I shall always be your sincere friend, without any inclination to nearer intimacy when you become my sister; and we shall have all the honest part of conversation without any reproaches between us of having done amiss. I beg of you to consider it, and do not stand in the way of your own safety and prosperity; and to satisfy you that I am sincere', added he, 'I here offer you five hundred pounds to make you some amends for the freedoms I have taken with you, which we shall look upon as some of the follies of our lives, which 'tis hoped we may repent of.'

He spoke this in so much more moving terms than it is possible for me to express, that you may suppose as he held me above an hour and a half in this discourse; so he answered all my objections, and fortified his discourse with all the arguments that human wit and art could devise.

I cannot say, however, that anything he said made impression enough upon me so as to give me any thought of the matter, till he told me at last very plainly, that if I refused, he was sorry to add that he could never go on with me in that station as we stood before; that, though he loved