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MY LANDLORD DINES WITH ME.
Hitherto I had not only preserved the virtue itself, but the virtuous inclination and resolution; and had I kept myself there I had been happy, though I had perished of mere hunger; for without question, a woman ought rather to die than to prostitute her virtue and honour, let the temptation be what it will.
But to return to my story; he walked about the garden, which was, indeed, all in disorder, and overrun with weeds because I had not been able to hire a gardener to do anything to it, no, not so much as to dig up ground enough to sow a few turnips and carrots for family use.
After he had viewed it, he came in, and sent Amy to fetch a poor man, a gardener, that used to help our man-servant, and carried him into the garden, and ordered him to do several things in it, to put it into a little order; and this took him up near an hour.
By this time I had dressed me as well as I could, for though I had good linen left still, yet I had but a poor head-dress, and no knots, but old fragments; no necklace, no earrings; all those things were gone long ago, for mere bread.
However, I was tight and clean, and in better plight thar. he had seen me in a great while, and he looked extremely pleased to see me so; for he said I looked so disconsolato and so afflicted before, that it grieved him to see me; and he bade me pluck up a good heart, for he hoped to put me in a condition to live in the world, and be beholden to nobody.
I told him that was impossible, for I must be beholden to him "for it, for all the friends I had in the world would not or could not do so much for me as that he spoke of. Well, widow, says he (so he called me, and so indeed I was, in the worst sense that desolate word could be used in), if you are beholden to me, you shall be beholden to nobody else.
By this time dinner was ready, and Amy came in to lay the cloth, and indeed it was happy there was none to dine but he and I, for I had but six plates left in the house, and but two dishes; however, he knew how things were, and bade me make no scruple about bringing cut what I had. Ho hoped to see me in a better plight. He did not come, he said, to be entertained, but to entertain me, and comfort and encourage me. Thus he went on, speaking so cheerfully to me, and such cheerful things, that it was a cordial to my very soul to hear him speak.
Well, we went to dinner: I'm sure I had not eat a good
meal liardly in a twelvemonth ; at least not of such a joint of meat as the loin of veal was. I eat, indeed, very heartily, and so did he, and he made me drink three or four glasses of wine; so that, in short, my spirits were lifted up to a degree I had not been used to, and I was not only cheeeful, but merry; and so he pressed me to be.
I told him I had a great deal of reason to be merry, seeing he had been so kind to me, and had given me hopes of recovering me from the worst circumstances that ever woman of any sort of fortune was sunk into ; that he could not but believe that what he had said to me was like life from the dead; that it was like recovering one sick from the brink of the grave; how I should ever make him a return any way suitable, was what I had not yet had time to think of; I could only say that I should never forget it while I had life, and should be always ready to acknowledge it.
He said that was all he desired of me; that his reward would be the satisfaction of having rescued me from misery ; that he found he was obliging one that knew what gratitude meant; that he would make it his business to make me completely easy, first or last, if it lay in his power; and in the mean time, he bade me consider of anything that I thought he might do for me, for my advantage, and in order to make me perfectly easy.
After we had talked thus, he bade me be cheerful. Come, says he, lay aside these melancholy things, and let us be merry. Amy waited at the table, and she smiled and laughed and was so merry she could hardly contain it, for the girl loved me to an excess hardly to be described; and it was such an urexpected thing to hear any one talk to her mistress, that the wench was besides herself almost, and, as soon as dinner was over, Amy went up stairs, and put on her best clothes too, and came down dressed like a gentlewoman.
We sat together talking of a thousand things, of what had been, and what was to be, all the rest of the day, and in the evening he took his leave of me, with a thousand expressions of kindness and tenderness, and true affection to me, but offered not the least of what my maid Amy had suggested.
At his going away he took me in his arms, protested an honest kindness to me; said a thousand kind things to me, which I cannot now recollect; and after kissing me twenty times or thereabouts, put a guinea into my hand, which he
MY HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE RESTORED.
Baij was for my present supply, and told me that he would see me again before it was out; also he gave Amy half-a
When he was gone, Well, Amy, said I, are you convinced now that he is an honest as well as a true friend, and that there has been nothing, not the least appearance of anything of what you imagined, in his behaviour? Yes, says Amy, I am, but I admire at it; he is such a friend as the world sure has not abundance of to show.
I am sure, says I, he is such a friend as I have long wanted, and as I have as much need of as any creature in the world has, or ever had. And, in short, I was so overcome with the comfort of it, that I sat down and cried for joy a good while, as I had formerly cried for sorrow. Amy and I went to bed that night (for Amy lay with me) pretty early, but lay chatting almost all night about it, and the girl was so transported that she got up two or three times in the night and danced about the room in her shift; in short, the girl was half distracted with the joy of it; a testimony still of her violent affection for her mistress, in which no servant ever went beyond her.
We heard no more of him for two days, but the third day he came again ; then he told me, with the same kindness, that he had ordered me a supply of household goods for the furnishing the house; that in particular he had sent me back all the goods that he had seized for rent, which consisted, indeed, of the best of my former furniture; and now, says he, I'll tell you what I have had in my head for
your present supply, and that is, says he, that the house being well furnished, you shall let it out to lodgings for the summer gentry, says he, by which you will easily get a good comfortable subsistence, especially seeing you shall pay me no rent for two years, nor after neither, unless you can afford it.
This was the first view I had of living comfortably indeed, and it was a very probable way, I must confess, seeing wo had very good conveniences, six rooms on a floor, and three stories high. While he was laying down the scheme of my management, came a cart to the door with a load of goods, and an upholsterer's man to put them up; they were chiefly the furniture of two rooms which he had carried away for his two years' rent, with two fine cabinets, and some pier-glasses out of the parlour, and several other valuable things.
These were all restored to their places, and he told me he
gave them me freely, as a satisfaction for the cruelty he had used me with before; and the furniture of one room being finished and set up, he told me he would furnish one chamber for himselt, and would come and be one of my lodgers, if I would give him leave.
I told him he ought not to ask me leave, who had so much right to make himself welcome; so the house began to look in some tolerable figure, and clean ; the garden also, in about a fortnight's work, began to look something less like a wilderness than it used to do; and he ordered me to put up a bill for letting rooms, reserving one for himself, to come to as he saw occasion.
When all was done to his mind, as to placing the goods, he seemed very well pleased, and we dined together again of his own providing; and, the upholsterer's man gone, after dinner he took me by the hand; Come now, madam, says he, you must show me your house (for he had a mind to see everything over again). No, sir, said I, but I'll go show you your house, if you please; so we went up through all the rooms. and in the room which was appointed for himself, Amy was doing something; Well, Amy, says he, I intend to lie with you to-morrow night. To-night if you please, sir, says Amy, very innocently; your room is quite ready. Well, Amy, says he, I am glad you are so willing. No, says Amy, I mean your chamber is ready to-night, and away she run out of the room, ashamed enough ; for the girl meant no harm, whatever she had said to me in private.
However, he said no more then; but when Amy was gone, he walked about the room, and looked at everything, and taking me by the hand he kissed me, and spoke a great many kind affectionate things to me indeed ; as of his measures for my advantage, and what he would do to raise me again in the world ; told me that my afflictions, and the conduct I had shown in bearing them to such an extremity, had so engaged him to me, that he valued me infinitely above all the women in the world; that though he was under such engagements that he could not marry me (his wife and he had been parted for some reasons, which make too long a story to intermix with mine), yet that he would be everything else that a woman could ask in a husband; and with that he kissed me again, and took me in his arms, but offered not the least uncivil action to me, and told me he hoped I wcald not deny him all
MY LANDLORD DECLARES HIS LOVE.
the favours he should ask, because he resolved to ask nothing of me but what it was fit for a woman of virtue and modesty, for such he knew me to be, to yield.
I confess the terrible pressure of my former misery, the memory of which lay heavy upon my mind, and the surprising kindness with which he had delivered me, and withal, the expectations of what he might still do for me, were powerful things, and made me have scarce the power to deny him anything he would ask; however, I told him thus, with an air of tenderness too, that he had done so much for me, that I thought I ought to deny him nothing; only I hoped and depended upon him, that he would not take the advantage of the infinite obligations I was under to him, to desire anything of me the yielding to which would lay me lower in his esteem than I desired to be; that as I took him to be a man of honour, so I knew he could not like me better for doing anything that was below a woman of honesty and good manners to do.
He told me, that he had done all this for me, without so much as telling me what kindness or real affection he had for me, that I might not be under any necessity of yielding to him in anything for want of bread; and he would no more oppress my gratitude now than he would my necessity before, nor ask anything, supposing he would stop his favours or withdraw his kindness, if he was denied ; it was true, he said, he might tell me more freely his mind now than before, seeing I had let him see that I accepted his assistance, and saw that he was sincere in his design of serving me; that he had gone thus far to show me that he was kind to me, but that now he would tell me that he loved me, and yet would demonstrate that his love was both honourable, and that what he should desire was what he might honestly ask, and I might honestly grant.
I answered, that within those two limitations, I was sure I ought to deny him nothing, and I should think myself not ungrateful only, but very unjust, if I should; so he said no more, but I observed he kissed me more, and took me in his arms in a kind of familiar way, more than usual, and which once or twice put me in mind of my maid Amy's words; and yet, I must acknowledge, I was so overcome with his goodness to me in those many kind things he had done, that I not only was easy at what he did, and made no resistance,