|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||31|
says I, 'shall we go? I am no horsewoman, and 'tis too far for a coach.' 'Too far!' says he; 'no place is too far for a coach-and-six. If I carry you out, you shall travel like a duchess.' 'Hum', says I, 'my dear, 'tis a frolic; but if you have a mind to it, I don't care.' Well, the time was appointed; we had a rich coach, very good horses, a coachman, postillion, and two footmen in very good liveries; a gentleman on horseback, and a page with a feather in his hat upon another horse. The servants all called him my lord, and I was her honour the Countess, and thus we travelled to Oxford, and a pleasant journey we had; for, give him his due, not a beggar alive knew better how to be a lord than my husband. We saw all the rarities at Oxford; talked with two or three fellows of colleges about putting a nephew, that was left to his lordship's care, to the university, and of their being his tutors. We diverted ourselves with bantering several other poor scholars, with the hopes of being at least his lordship's chaplain and putting on a scarf; and thus having lived like quality indeed, as to expense, we went away for Northampton, and, in a word, in about twelve days' ramble came home again, to the tune of about £93 expense.
Vanity is the perfection of a fop. My husband had this excellence, that he valued nothing of expense. As his history, you may he sure, has very little weight in it, 'tis enough to tell you that in about two years and a quarter he broke, got into a sponging-house, being arrested in an action too heavy for him to give bail to, so he sent for me to come to him.
It was no surprise to me, for I had foreseen some time before that all was going to wreck, and had been taking care to reserve something, if I could, for myself; but when he sent for me, he behaved much better than I expected. He told me plainly he hadthe fool, and suffered himself to be surprised, which he might have prevented; that now he foresaw he could not stand it, and therefore he would have me go home, and in the night take away everything I had in the house of any value, and secure it; and after that, he told me that if I could get away £100 or £200 in goods out of the shop, I should do it; 'only', says he, 'let me know nothing of it, neither what you take or whither you carry it; for as for me', says he, 'I am resolved to get out of this house and be gone; and if you never hear of me more, my dear', says he, 'I wish you well; I am only sorry for the injury I have done you.' He said some very handsome things to me indeed at parting; for I told you he was a gentleman, and that was all the benefit I had of his being so; that he used me very handsomely, even to the last, only spent all I had, and left me to rob the creditors for something to subsist on.
However, I did as he bade me, that you may be sure; and having thus taken my leave of him, I never saw him more, for he found means to break out of the bailiff's house that night, or the next; how, I knew not, for I could come at no knowledge of anything, more than this, that he came home about three o'clock in the morning, caused the rest of his goods to be removed into the Mint, and the shop to be shut up; and having raised what money he could, he got over to France, from whence I had one or two letters from him, and no more.
I did not see him when he came home, for he having given me such Instructions as above, and I having made the best of my time, I had no more business back again at the house, not knowing but I might have been stopped there by the creditors; for a commission of bankrupt being soon after issued, they might have stopped me by orders from the commissi-