Summary and Analysis Chapter 13



Moll moved into London the day after Jemmy left. There she reflected happily on the pleasant hours she had spent with him; this happiness was short-lived, however, because she discovered she was pregnant. The one bright light was that, through her correspondence with the bank clerk during these seven months, she knew he was having trouble obtaining his divorce. This was welcome news since Moll was now in no position to resume their relationship.

Moll's problem now consisted of her pregnancy, her friendlessness, and her despondency. Together, these problems made her very ill, and made her think she might have a miscarriage. She says that, although she would not have induced a miscarriage, she would not have minded if she had miscarried naturally.

Luckily, Moll's landlady arranged for Moll to meet a midwife who had a business of caring for pregnant women, particularly unwed ones. Now that Moll's most immediate problem was taken care of, she began to feel much better. The midwife invited her to come to her house, offering her a choice of three variously priced forms of service. When Moll apologetically selected the cheapest rate, the midwife explained there was no need for apology, since many of her customers paid the higher rates, thus balancing out the expenses.

When Moll moved into the midwife's house, where she was treated with great courtesy and care, she was shocked to learn that most of the midwife's patients were prostitutes.

While Moll was at the midwife's, she received a letter from her banker friend, saying that he was nearing the end of his divorce suit and that he still wanted Moll to marry him. Moll sent a reply to the banker by way of Liverpool, wishing him well but not answering his proposal.

Moll had her baby, a boy, about the middle of May; a few weeks later she received another letter from the banker, saying the divorce was final and his wife had committed suicide. He begged Moll to see him so that they could further discuss their relationship. This so complicated life for Moll that she told the midwife about the problem of trying to keep the child under the circumstances. After much talk, the midwife convinced Moll to give up her child for adoption. This Moll agreed to do, if she could see the child from time to time.


At this point, it might help to summarize Moll's marital history to date: she had been married four times and was now contemplating a fifth marriage. Her husbands thus far were Robin, who died; the draper, who left the country because of his debts; her brother, whom she left in Virginia; and Jemmy, whom she dearly loved. Her new prospect was a banker who had just succeeded in obtaining a divorce from his wife. Moll has never divorced anyone.

A midwife is a woman who assists women in childbirth. In no instance yet had Moll had a doctor to deliver her babies. This is evidence of the fact that doctors were scarce in England during the seventeenth century. Therefore, it was the custom for some women to practice midwifery.

Notice the close tie between Moll and the midwife. These two are to meet again.

Notice, too, how Moll sent her letters to the banker by circuitous routes. In this way Moll was able to remain in London while leading the banker to believe she was elsewhere.