Summary and Analysis
Moll was alone again without adviser or friend; unable to advise herself, she lost one hundred pounds which she had entrusted to a goldsmith. Knowing that she wanted a settled life but not how to obtain it, she lived frugally on her small store of money. All she wanted was to find "a sober, good husband," and she reminisced that she had given her husbands no trouble on account of her behavior.
Soon, in the house where she lodged, Moll met a north-country woman, thought to be a gentlewoman, who often spoke of the cheapness of living in the country. This woman, believing that she had quite a substantial fortune, invited Moll to visit her in Lancashire. She also told Moll that she had a brother who was "a considerable gentleman." Before accepting the woman's invitation, Moll wanted to put what money she had in a safe place: she didn't want to carry it around with her.
Moll was in great distress because she knew no one in London she could trust to care for her possessions and money. One morning, however, it occurred to Moll to seek help at the bank where she often had gone to receive interest from her savings. There she found a sympathetic clerk who directed her to a friend of his, another bank clerk, who handled cases such as Moll's during his spare time. Impressed by his "sincere disinterested honesty," Moll asked him to handle her financial affairs.
Moll had occasion to meet several times with this bank clerk, and during the course of their conversations she discovered that he was lonely because his wife had left him for another man. Finding Moll a charming and agreeable woman, he asked her advice about what he should do about his wife. On Moll's suggestion that he get a divorce, he proposed that he and Moll marry as soon as he was free. Moll was delighted by the proposal but refused to give him a definite answer. The next evening, while Moll was dining with the clerk, he suggested, first, that Moll "marry" him while they waited for the divorce; on her refusal of this suggestion, he next asked that she sign a contract of agreement to marry him as soon as he won a divorce from his wife. Although tempted, Moll declined to do this; she was thinking of the lady who had invited her to go to Lancashire and who had seemed to promise great fortunes. Therefore, Moll told her clerk that she was going into the north and that he could correspond with her there. She was careful, though, to leave the impression that she would marry him on her return.
Moll went with her acquaintance into Lancashire; on the way the woman's brother met the two ladies in a coach and carried them in great style to Liverpool, where they were handsomely entertained by a merchant. From there they went to the home of an uncle. For six months Moll was seriously courted by her friend's brother, who had been led to believe that Moll had £15,000; in turn, he was said to have a fortune of at least £1500 a year, most of it in Ireland. After an expensive courtship, and his promise to buy, in partnership with Moll, land worth £600 a year, Moll consented to be married in a private ceremony. Giving only a few thoughts to her bank clerk in London, Moll admitted to being dazzled by thoughts of money, expensive presents, a large estate, and other fine things.
Although Moll seemed able to recognize the bank clerk as an honest man, she was less perceptive about the "friend" and the friend's "brother." Both Moll and her suitor act as though a really frank discussion of money would be beneath them; therefore, they are both in for an unpleasant discovery.