Summary and Analysis Chapter 10



Three months later, when the season ended at Bath, the gentleman invited Moll to accompany him to London. Before she had decided whether or not to do so, he became quite ill on a business trip, and sent for Moll. She brought him back to Bath and nursed him through his illness. After this, they became quite close, though not lovers, and remained so for two years. One night, however, after drinking too much wine, Moll suggested they make love. Though penitent, they continued this close relationship until Moll became pregnant.

When Moll told her lover and her landlady about her condition, the landlady made arrangements for Moll to meet a midwife and a nurse. Meanwhile, the landlady deceived the town authorities with a tale that Moll was the wife of a wealthy lord. The authorities were satisfied with the story, and Moll was given excellent — and expensive — care when she "was brought to bed of a fine boy." Then Moll's gentleman friend sent for her to come to London where he had provided an apartment for her.

Moll lived six years in this happy state, but then her lover became ill; since some of his wife's relatives were with him, Moll could not go to him. She wrote several letters to her lover, but receiving no answer, she disguised herself as a servant and visited his home. While there she gossiped with a maid who told her the master was very ill and not expected to live. After about two weeks of anxious waiting, Moll learned that his health was improving. She waited four more months to hear from him, but no word came. Finally, she wrote a note reminding her lover of his responsibility to her and their child. She received a formal reply which said their affair was over and suggested she use the enclosed £50 to pay her rent and her travel expenses to Bath. He promised to "take due care of the child" but insisted that he and Moll never see each other again. Greatly upset by the letter, Moll decided that his close brush with death had caused her lover to so much regret his involvement with her that he now hated her.

She sent him another note, saying that she did not plan to return to Bath and promised that if he sent her another £50 she would sign a paper releasing him completely from his obligations to her. She decided to leave her son where he was and told her former lover that she intended to go back to Virginia where, if all turned out well, she would later summon her son. Moll acknowledges that she had no intention of returning to Virginia but thought that the lie would be more convincing. Her note worked, in any case, and she received another £50.

Moll reviewed her position and discovered that her situation was not so bad. She had some goods from her brother, about £430, and a good wardrobe with which to begin a new life. She realized, though, that she was now forty-two years old, which was quite different from twenty-five.


Notice that Moll seemed to like married life. Her account showed no instances where she went astray while her husbands lived.

Note also that Moll had quite extraordinarily bad luck with her husbands or lovers. Some died, one left her, one she left for a good reason, and one left the country to avoid arrest.