« AnteriorContinuar »
with some concern, that indeed he had a wife, and no wife.
I began to think he had been in the condition of my late lover, and that his wife had been lunatic, or some such thing. However, we had not much more discourse at that time, but he told me he was in too much hurry of business then, but that if I would come home to his house after their business was over, he would consider what might be done for me, to put my affairs in a posture of security. I told him I would come, and desired to know where he lived. He gave me a direction in writing, and when he gave it me he read it to me, and said, “ There 't is, madam, if you dare trust yourself with
“Yes, sir,” said I, “I believe I may venture to trust you with myself, for you have a wife, you say, and I don't want a husband ; besides, I dare trust you with my money, which is all I have in the world, and if that were gone, I may trust myself anywhere."
He said some things in jest that were very handsome and mannerly, and would have pleased me very well if they had been in earnest; but that passed over, I took the directions, and appointed to be at his house at seven o'clock the same evening.
When I came he made several proposals for my placing my money in the bank, in order to my having interest for it; but still some difficulty or other came in the way, which he objected as not safe; and I found such a sincere disinterested honesty in him, that I began to think I had certainly found the honest man I wanted, and that I could never put myself into better hands ; so I told him with a great deal of frankness that I had never met with a man or woman yet that I could trust, or in whom I could think myself safe, but that I saw he was so disinterestedly concerned for my safety, that I would freely trust him with the management of that little I had, if he would accept to be steward for a poor widow that could give him no salary.
He smiled, and, standing up, with great respect saluted me.
He told me he could not but take it very kindly that I had so good an opinion of him ; that he would not deceive me ; that he would do anything in his power to serve me, and expect no salary; but that he could not by any means accept of a trust that might bring him to be suspected of self-interest, and that if I should die he might have disputes with my executors, which he should be very loth to encumber himself with.
I told him if those were all his objections I would soon remove them, and convince him that there was not the least room for any difficulty ; for that, first, as for suspecting him, if ever, now was the time to suspect him, and not to put the trust into his hands; and whenever I did suspect him, he could but throw it up then, and refuse to go on. Then, as to executors, I assured him I had no heirs, nor any relations in England, and I would have neither heirs or executors but himself, unless I should alter my condition, and then his trust and trouble should cease together, which, however, I had no prospect of yet ; but I told him if I died as I was, it should be all his own, and he would deserve it by being so faithful to me, as I was satisfied he would be.
He changed his countenance at this discourse, and asked me how I came to have so much goodwill for him; and looking very much pleased, said he might very lawfully wish he was single for my sake. I smiled, and told him, that as he was not, my offer could have no design upon him, and to wish was not to be allowed, 't was criminal to his wife.
He told me I was wrong; “ for,” says he, “as I said before, I have a wife and no wife, and 't would be no sin to wish her hanged.” “I know nothing of your circumstances that way, sir," said I; “ but it cannot be innocent to wish your wife dead." "I tell you,” says he again," she is a wife and no wife; you don't know what I am, or what she is.”
“That's true," said I, “ sir, I don't know what you are ; but I believe you to be an honest man, and that's the cause of all my confidence in you."
Well, well,” says he, “and so I am; but I am something else too, madam; for,” says he, “to be plain with you, I am a cuckold, and she is a whore."
He spoke it in a kind of jest, but it was with such an awkward smile, that I perceived it stuck very close to him, and he looked dismally when he said it.
“ That alters the case indeed, sir," said I, “as to that part you were speaking of; but a cuckold, you
be an honest man ; it does not alter that case at all. Besides, I think,” said I, “since your wife is so dishonest to you, you are too honest to her to own her for your wife; but that,” said I, “is what I have nothing to do with.” “Nay,” says he, “I do think to clear my hands of her; for, to be plain with you, madam," added he, “I am no contented cuckold neither: on the other hand, I assure you it provokes me to the highest degree, but I can't help myself ; she that will be a whore, will be a whore.”
I waived the discourse, and began to talk of my business; but I found he could not have done with it, so I let him alone, and he went on to tell me all the circumstances of his case, too long to relate here ; particularly, that having been out of England some time before he came to the post he was in, she had had two children in the meantime by an officer in the army; and that when he came to England, and, upon her submission, took her again, and maintained her very well, yet she ran away from him with a linen-draper's apprentice, robbed him of what she could come at, and continued to live from him still; “ so that, madam,” says he, “she is a whore not by you, madam,"
necessity, which is the common bait, but by inclination, and for the sake of the vice."
Well, I pitied him, and wished him well rid of her, and still would have talked of my business, but it would not do. At last he looked steadily at me. “ Look
says he, “ you came to ask advice of me, and I will serve you as faithfully as if you were my own sister ; but I must turn the tables, since you oblige me to do it, and are so friendly to me, and I think I must ask advice of
you. Tell me, what must a poor abused fellow do with a whore? What can I do to do myself justice upon her?"
“ Alas ! sir,” says I, “ 't is a case too nice for me to advise in, but it seems to me she has run away from you, so you are rid of her fairly ; what can you desire more ?” “ Ay, she is gone indeed,” said he, “ but I am not clear of her for all that." " That's true," says I ; "she may indeed run you into debt, but the law has furnished you with methods to prevent that also ; you may cry her down, as they call it.”
No, no,” says he, “ that is not the case ; I have taken care of all that ; 't is not that part that I speak of, but I would be rid of her that I might marry again."
“Well, sir,” says I, “ then you must divorce her ; if you can prove what you say, you may certainly get that done, and then you are free."