Page:Moll Flanders (1906 edition).djvu/367

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335
THE LIFE OF ROXANA

I had indeed two assistants to deliver me from this snare, and these were, first, Amy, who knew my disease, but was able to do nothing as to the remedy; the second, the merchant, who really brought the remedy, but knew nothing of the distemper.

I remember, when all these disorders were upon my thoughts, in one of the visits my friend the merchant made me, he took notice that he perceived I was under some unusual disorder; he believed, he said, that my distemper, whatever it was, lay much in my head, and it being summer weather, and very hot, proposed to me to go a little way into the air.

I started at his expression. 'What!' says I; 'do you think, then, that I am crazed? You should, then, propose a madhouse for my cure.' 'No, no', says he, 'I do not mean anything like that; I hope the head may be distempered and not the brain.' Well, I was too sensible that he was right, for I knew I had acted a strange, wild kind of part with him; but he insisted upon it, and pressed me to go into the country. I took him short again. 'What need you', says I, 'send me out of your way? It is in your power to be less troubled with me, and with less inconvenience to us both.'

He took that ill, and told me I used to have a better opinion of his sincerity, and desired to know what he had done to forfeit my charity. I mention this only to let you see how far I had gone in my measures of quitting him that is to say, how near I was of showing him how base, ungrateful, and how vilely I could act; but I found I had carried the jest far enough, and that a little matter might have made him sick of me again, as he was before; so I began by little and little to change my way of talking to him, and to come to discourse to the purpose again as we had done before.

A while after this, when we were very merry and talking familiarly together, he called me, with an air of particular satisfaction, his princess. I coloured at the word, for it indeed touched me to the quick; but he knew nothing of the reason of my being touched with it. 'What d'ye mean by that?' said I. 'Nay', says he, 'I mean nothing but that you are a princess to me.' 'Well', says I, 'as to that I am content, and yet I could tell you I might have been a princess if I would have quitted you, and believe I could be so still.' 'It is not in my power to make you a princess', says he, 'but I can easily make you a lady here in England, and a countess too if you will go out of it.'

I heard both with a great deal of satisfaction, for my pride remained though it had been balked, and I thought with myself that this proposal would make me some amends for the loss of the title that had so tickled my imagination another way, and I was impatient to understand what he meant, but I would not ask him by any means; so it passed off for that time.

When he was gone I told Amy what he had said, and Amy was as impatient to know the manner how it could be as I was; but the next time (perfectly unexpected to me) he told me that he had accidentally mentioned a thing to me last time he was with me, having not the least thought of the thing itself; but not knowing but such a thing might be of some weight to me, and that it might bring me respect among people where I might appear, he had thought since of it, and was resolved to ask me about it.

I made light of it, and told him that, as he knew I had chosen a retired life, it was of no value to me to be called lady or countess either; but