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At length I put in a word. Sir, says I, to the Dutch merchant, what is all this discourse to my business? What is this gentleman in all these passions about? I wish, if he is to treat with me, he would speak that I may understand him; or if you have business of your own between you that is to be done first, let me withdraw, and I'll come again when you are at leisure,
No, no, madam, says the Dutchman, very kindly, you must not go; all our discourse is about
your jewels, and
you shall hear it presently; it concerns you very much, I assure you.
Concern me, says I, what can it concern me so much as to put this gentleman into such agonies, and what makes him give me such devil's looks as he does ? Why, he looks as if he would devour me.
The Jew understood me presently, continuing in a kind of rage, and spoke in French, Yes, madam, it does concern you much, very much, very much, repeating the words, shaking his head; and then turning to the Dutchman, Sir, says he, pray tell her what is the case? No, says the merchant, not yet, let us talk a little farther of it by ourselves ; upon which they withdrew into another room, where still they talked very high, but in a language I did not understand. I began to be a little surprised at what the Jew had said, you may be sure, and eager to know what he meant, and was very impatient till the Dutch merchant came back, and that so impatient, that I called one of his servants to let him know I desired to speak with him. When he came in, I asked his pardon for being so impatient, but told him I could not be easy till he had told me what the meaning of all this was. Why, madam, says the Dutch merchant, in short, the meaning is what I am surprised at too. This man is a Jew, and understands jewels perfectly well, and that was the reason I sent for him, to dispose of them to him for you; but as soon as he saw them, he knew the jewels very distinctly, and flying out in a passion, as you see he did, told me, in short, that they were the very parcel of jewels which the English jeweller had about him, who was robbed going to Versailles, about eight years ago, to show them the Prince de
-, and that it was for these very jewels that the poor gentleman was murdered ; and he is in all this agony to make me ask you how you came by them ; and he says you ought to be charged with the robbery and murder, and put to the question to
SINGULAR ACCUSATION BY A JEW.
discover who were the persons that did it, that they might be brought to justice. While he said this, the Jew came impudently back into the room without calling, which a little surprised me again.
The Dutch merchant spoke pretty good English, and he knew that the Jew did not understand English at all, so he told me the latter part when the Jew came into the room in English, at which I smiled, which put the Jew into his mad fit again, and, shaking his head and making his devil's faces again, he seemed to threaten me for laughing, saying, in French, this was an affair I should have little reason to laugh at, and the like. At this I laughed again, and flouted him, letting him see that I scorned him; and, turning to the Dutch merchant, sir, says I, that those jewels were belonging to
the English jeweller (naming his name readily); in that, says I, this person is right; but that I should be questioned how I came to have them, is a token of his ignorance, which, however, he might have managed with a little more good manners, till I had told him who I am; and both he and you too will be more easy in that part, when I should tell
you that I am the unhappy widow of that Mr. who was so barbarously murdered going to Versailles; and that he was not robbed of those jewels, but of others ; Mr. having left those behind him with me lest he should be robbed. Had I, sir, come otherwise by them, I should not have been weak enough to have exposed them to sale here, where the thing was done, but have carried them farther off.
This was an agreeable surprise to the Dutch merchant, who, being an honest man himself, believed everything I said, which, indeed, being all really and literally true, except the deficiency of my marriage, I spoke with such an unconcerned easiness, that it might plainly be seen that I had no guilt upon me, as the Jew suggested.
The Jew was confounded when he heard that I was the jeweller's wife; but as I had raised his passion with saying he looked at me with the devil's face, he studied mischief in his heart, and answered, that should not serve my turn; so called the Dutchman out again, when he told him that he resolved to prosecute this matter farther.
There was one kind chance in this affair, which, indeed, was my deliverance, and that was, that the fool could not restrain his passion, but must let it fly to the Dutch merchaning
to whom, when they withdrew a second time, as above, he told that he would bring a process against me for the murder, and that it should cost me dear for using him at that rate; and away he went, desiring the Dutch merchant to tell him when I would be there again. Had he suspected that the Dutchman would have communicated the particulars to me, he would never have been so foolish as to have mentioned that part to him.
But the malice of his thoughts anticipated him, and the Dutch merchant was so good as to give me an accouut of his design, which, indeed, was wicked enough in its nature ; but to me it would have been worse than otherwise it would to another; for, upon examination, I could not have proved myself to be the wife of the jeweller, so the suspicion might have been carried on with the better face; and then I should also have brought all his relations in England upon me, who, finding by the proceedings, that I was not his wife, but a mistress, or, in English, a whore, would immediately have laid claim to the jewels, as I had owned them to be his.
This thought immediately rushed into my head as soon as the Dutch merchant had told me what wicked things were in the head of that cursed Jew; and the villain (for so I must call him) convinced the Dutch merchant that he was in earnest, by an expression which showed the rest of his design, and that was, a plot to get the rest of the jewels into his hand.
When first he hinted to the Dutchman that the jewels were such a man's (meaning my husband's), he made wonderful exclamations on account of their having been concealed so long; where must they have lain; and what was the woman that brought them ? and that she (meaning me) ought to be immediately apprehended, and put into the hands of justice; and this was the time that, as I said, he made such horrid gestures, and looked at me so like a devil.
The merchant hearing him talk at that rate, and seeing him in earnest, said to him, Hold your tongue a little, this is a thing of consequence ; if it be so, let you and I go into the next room and consider of it there; and so they withdrew, and left me.
Here, as before, I was uneasy, and called him out, and, having heard how it was, gave him that answer, that I was his wife, or widow, which the malicious Jew said should not 3crve my turn; and then it was that the Dutchman called
SCHEME TO DEFRAUD ME OF THE JEWELS.
him out again; and in this time of his withdrawing the merchant, finding, as above, that he was really in earnest, counterfeited a little to be of his mind, and entered into proposals with him for the thing itself.
In this they agreed to go to an advocate, or counsel, for directions how to proceed, and to meet again the next day, against which time the merchant was to appoint me to come again with the jewels, in order to sell them: No, says the merchant, I will go farther with her than so; I will desire her to leave the jewels with me, to show to another person, in order to get the better price for them. That's right, says the Jew, and l'll engage she shall never be mistress of them again; they shall either be seized by us, says he, in the king's name, or she shall be glad to give them up to us to prevent her being put to the torture.
The merchant said yes to everything he offered, and they agreed to meet the next morning about it, and I was to be persuaded to leave the jewels with him, and come to them the next day at four o'clock, in order to make a good bargain for them; and on these conditions they parted; but the honest Dutchman, filled with indignation at the barbarous design, came directly to me, and told me the whole story; And now, madam, says he, you are to consider immediately what you have to do.
I told him, if I was sure to have justice, I would not fear all that such a rogue could do to me; but how such things were carried on in France I knew not. I told him, the greatest difficulty would be to prove our marriage, for that it was done in England, and in a remote part of England too, and, which was worse, it would be hard to produce authentic vouchers of it, because we were married in private. But as to the death of your husband, madam, what can be said to that? said he. Nay, said I, what can they say to it? In England, added I, if they would offer such an injury to any one, they must prove the fact, or give just reason for their suspicions. That
every knows; but that he was robbed, or of what, or how much, that none knows, no, not myself; and why was I not questioned for it then? I have lived in Paris ever since, lived publicly, and no man had yet the impudence to suggest such a thing of me.
I am fully satisfied of that, says the merchant; but as this
is a rogue, who will stick at nothing, what can we say ? And who knows what he may swear? Suppose he should swear that he knows your husband had those particular jewels with him the morning when he went out, and that he showed them to him, to consider their value, and what price he should ask the Prince de for them?
Nay, by the same rule, said I, he may swear that I murdered
husband, if he finds it for his turn. That's true, said he, and if he should, I do not see what could save you ; but added, I have found out his more immediate design ; his design is to have you carried to the Châtelet, that the suspicion may appear just, and then to get the jewels out of your hands, if possible; then, at last, to drop the prosecution, on your consenting to quit the jewels to him; and how you will do to avoid this, is the question which I would have you consider of.
My misfortune, sir, said I, is, that I have no time to consider, and I have no person to consider with, or advise about it. I find that innocence may be oppressed by such an impudent fellow as this; he that does not value perjury, has any man's life at his mercy; but, sir, said I, is the justice such here, that while I may be in the hands of the public, and under prosecution, he may get hold of my effects, and get my jewels into his hands ?
I don't know, says he, what may be done in that case; but if not he, if the court of justice should get hold of them, I do not know but you may find it as difficult to get them out of their hands again, and, at least, it may cost you half as much as they are worth; so I think it would be a much better way to prevent their coming at them at all.
But what course can I take to do that, says I, now they have got notice that I have them ? If they get me into their hands, they will oblige me to produce them, or perhaps sentence me to prison till I do.
Nay, says he, as this brute says, too, put you to the question ; that is, to the torture, on pretence of making you confess who were the murderers of your husband.
Confess! said I, how can I confess what I know nothing of.
If they come to have you to the rack, said he, they will make you confess you did it yourself, whether you did it or no, and then you are cast.
The very word rack frightened me to death almost, and I