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“ That's very tedious and expensive," says he.
Why," says I, “ if you can get any woman you like to take your word, I suppose your wife would not dispute the liberty with you that she takes herself.”
“Ay,” says he, “ but it would be hard to bring an honest woman to do that; and for the other sort," says he, “I have had enough of her to meddle with any more whores.'
It occurred to me presently, “ I would have taken your word with all my heart, if you had but asked me the question ;” but that was to myself. To him I replied, “Why, you shut the door against any honest woman accepting you, for you condemn all that should venture upon you, and conclude that a woman that takes you now can't be honest.”
• Why,” says he, “I wish you would satisfy me that an honest woman would take me ; I'd venture it ;” and then turns short upon me, “ Will you take me, madam ? "
“That's not a fair question,” says I, “after what you have said ; however, lest you should think I wait only a recantation of it, I shall answer you plainly, No, not I; my business is of another kind with you ; and I did not expect you would have turned my serious application to you, in my distracted case, into a comedy.”
“Why, madam,” says he, “my case is as distracted as yours can be, and I stand in as much
need of advice as you do, for I think if I have not relief somewhere I shall be mad myself, and I know not what course to take, I protest to you."
Why, sir,” says I, “ 't is easier to give advice in your case than mine.”
"Speak, then,” says he, “ I beg of you, for now you encourage me.”
• Why," says I, “ if your case is so plain, you may be legally divorced, and then you may find honest women enough to ask the question of fairly; the sex is not so scarce that you can want a wife.”
“Well, then,” said he, “ I am in earnest ; I'll take your advice ; but shall I ask you one question seriously beforehand?"
Any question,” said I; “but that you did before."
“No, that answer will not do,” said he, “ for, in short, that is the question I shall ask.”
“ You may ask what questions you please, but you have my answer to that already,” said I; “besides,
, sir,” said I, “ can you think so ill of me as that I would give any answer to such a question beforehand? Can any woman alive believe you in earnest, , or think you design anything but to banter her ? "
“Well, well,” says he, “ I do not banter you, I am in earnest ; consider of it."
“But, sir,” says I, a little gravely, “ I came to you about my own business; I beg of you to let me know what you will advise me to do?"
“I will be prepared,” says he, “ against you come again.”
“ Nay," says I, “ you have forbid my coming any more."
• Why so ?” said he, and looked a little surprised.
Because," said I, “you can't expect I should visit you on the account you talk of.”
“Well," says he, “ you shall promise to come again, however, and I will not say any more of it till I have the divorce. But I desire you 'll prepare to be better conditioned when that's done, for you shall be the woman, or I will not be divorced at all ; I owe it to your unlooked-for kindness, if to nothing else, but I have other reasons too."
He could not have said anything in the world that pleased me better ; however, I knew that the way to secure him was to stand off while the thing was so remote, as it appeared to be, and that it was time enough to accept of it when he was able to perform it. So I said very respectfully to him, it was time enough to consider of these things when he was in a condition to talk of them ; in the meantime, I told him, I was going a great way from him, and he would find objects enough to please him better. We broke off here for the present, and he made me promise him to come again the next day, for my own business, which after some pressing I did ; though had he seen farther into me, I wanted no pressing on that account.
I came the next evening accordingly, and brought my maid with me, to let him see that I kept a maid. He would have had me let the maid have stayed, but I would not, but ordered her aloud to come for me again about nine o'clock. But he forbid that, and told me he would see me safe home, which I not very well pleased with, supposing he might do that to know where I lived, and inquire into my character and circumstances. However, I ventured that, for all the people there knew of me was to my advantage ; and all the character he had of me was, that I was a woman of fortune, and that I was a very modest, sober body; which, whether true or not in the main, yet you may see how necessary it is for all women who expect anything in the world, to preserve the character of their virtue, even when perhaps they may have sacrificed the thing itself.
I found, and was not a little pleased with it, that he had provided a supper for me.
I found also he lived very handsomely, and had a house very handsomely furnished, and which I was rejoiced at indeed, for I looked upon it as all my own.
We had now a second conference upon the subjectmatter of the last. He laid bis business very home indeed; he protested his affection to me, and indeed I had no room to doubt it; he declared that it began from the first moment I talked with him, and long before I had mentioned leaving my effects
with him. “T is no matter when it began,” thought I; “if it will but hold, 't will be well enough.” He then told me how much the offer I had made of trusting him with my effects had engaged him. I intended it should,” thought I, “but then I. thought you had been a single man too." After we had supped, I observed he pressed me very hard to drink two or three glasses of wine, which, however, I declined, but drank one glass or two. He then told me he had a proposal to make to me, which I should promise him I would not take ill if I should not grant it. I told him I hoped he would make no dishonourable proposal to me, especially in his own house, and that if it was such, I desired he would not mention it, that I might not be obliged to offer any resentment to him that did not become the respect I professed for him, and the trust I had placed in him, in coming to his house; and begged of him he would give me leave to go away, and accordingly began to put on my gloves and prepare to be gone, though at the same time I no more intended it than he intended to let me.
Well, he importuned me not to talk of going; he assured me he was very far from offering any such thing to me that was dishonourable, and if I thought so, he would choose to say no more of it.
That part I did not relish at all. I told him I was ready to hear anything that he had to say, de