|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||35|
humble such a fellow as that, or else certainly women were the most unhappy creatures in the world.
She was very well pleased with the discourse, and told me seriously that she would be very glad to make him sensible of her resentment, and either to bring him on again or have the satisfaction of her revenge being as public as possible.
I told her, that if she would take my advice, I would tell her how she should obtain her wishes in both those things; and that I would engage I would bring the man to her door again, and make him beg to be let in. She smiled at that, and soon let me see, that if he came to her door, her resentment was not so great to let him stand long there.
However, she listened very willingly to my offer of advice; so I told her that the first thing she ought to do was a piece of justice to herself, namely, that whereas he had reported among the ladies that he had left her, and pretended to give the advantage of the negative to himself, she should take care to have it well spread among the women, which she could not fail of an opportunity to do, that she had inquired into his circumstances, and found he was not the man he pretended to be. 'Let them be told, too, madam', said I, 'that he was not the man you expected, and that you thought it was not safe to meddle with him; that you heard he was of an ill temper, and that he boasted how he had used the women ill upon many occasions, and that particularly he was debauched in his morals', &c. The last of which, indeed, had some truth in it; but I did not find that she seemed to like him much the worse for that part.
She came most readily into all this, and immediately she went to work to find instruments. She had very little difficulty in the search, for telling her story in general to a couple of her gossips, it was the chat of the tea-table all over that part of the town, and I met with it wherever I visited; also, as it was known that I was acquainted with the young lady herself, my opinion was asked very often, and I confirmed it with all the necessary aggravations, and set out his character in the blackest colours; and as a piece of secret intelligence, I added what the gossips knew nothing of, viz., that I had heard he was in very bad circumstances; that he was under a necessity of a fortune to support his interest with the owners of the ship he commanded; that his own part was not paid for, and if it was not paid quickly, his owners would put him out of the ship, and his chief mate was likely to command it, who offered to buy that part which the captain had promised to take.
I added, for I was heartily piqued at the rogue, as I called him, that I had heard a rumour too, that he had a wife alive at Plymouth, and another in the West Indies, a thing which they all knew was not very uncommon for such kind of gentlemen.
This worked as we both desired it, for presently the young lady at the next door, who had a father and mother that governed both her and her fortune, was shut up, and her father forbid him the house. Also in one place more the woman had the courage, however strange it was, to say no; and he could try nowhere but he was reproached with his pride, and that he pretended not to give the women leave to inquire into his character, and the like.
By this time he began to be sensible of this mistake; and seeing all the women on that side of the water alarmed, he went over to Ratcliff, and got access to some of the ladies there; but though the young women