Summary and Analysis
Chapter 14 - A Surprising Event
Moll now began to correspond regularly with her friend at the bank. About the beginning of July she wrote him that she planned to be in town in August. The banker said he would arrange to meet her. Because she wanted the banker to believe that she had been in the country all of this time, Moll arranged her trip in such a way as to deceive him about her true whereabouts. When they did meet, the banker insisted on Moll's staying at an inn to rest up from her journey. While they were in the inn, the banker persuaded Moll to marry him. She reproached herself for her past life but, nevertheless, decided to marry the banker. After further eager persuasion by the banker, they were married that evening in the inn.
The next day as Moll was looking out the window, she saw Jemmy, her Lancashire husband, drive up to an inn next to the one Moll was staying at. He and two companions went in and took a room. All this thoroughly frightened Moll, for she feared Jemmy might see her. Before this could happen, though, Jemmy and his companions rode off in a great hurry. That night there was a great uproar in the street, as several men came riding by in pursuit of three highwaymen. The inn where Jemmy and his two companions had stayed was searched. In order to throw the chasers off the track, Moll said she knew one of the men to be a very honest person with a large estate in Lancashire. She also told this story to the policeman, explaining that she had seen the three gentlemen when they arrived, when they were at their dinner, and later when they left the inn. She explained that she could make the identification since she herself had just left Lancashire.
This information stopped the mob and the police. Moll did not know exactly what had happened, but she did hear that some coaches had been robbed at Dunstable Hill.
Moll and her husband remained at the inn four more days in spite of his insistence that it was safest to travel right after a robbery, for the thieves would have fled to evade pursuers. Moll resisted leaving immediately for fear she would chance to see her old husband on the road. She was quite happy about her husband's treatment of her, although her remorse about her past life recurred periodically.
On the fifth day, they left the inn with their landlord, his son, and three armed companions who guarded their coach into Dunstable.
Because Moll was now married, she had no worries about where to stay in London, where she now knew no one. It was possible for her to go directly to her new husband's home with him and take possession at once of a well-furnished house and a man with money.
Now Moll was very happy about her anticipated life with the banker. She reflected on her past life and felt repentance for the things she had done. She remembered her lover at Bath who had abandoned her in spite of his love, and how from fear of poverty she had resorted to using her beauty to get what she wanted, a secure existence. In her own words, "Now I seemed landed in a safe harbour, after the stormy voyage of life past was at an end, and I began to be thankful for my deliverance." She spent many hours weeping over her past follies and her wicked life, and sometimes flattered herself that she had really repented. But she wound up condoning her actions, saying that her fear of poverty was so great that it weakened her ability to resist the temptation to sin.
Moll expressed remorse in this chapter about the trick she was about to play on the banker, a kind good man who had just divorced a whore and was about to marry her, who was not much better. She called attention to the fact that her mother had been a whore and a thief, Moll herself had been born in Newgate Prison, had lain with two brothers, had had three children by her own brother, had slept with thirteen men, and had married and had a child since she met her present husband. After reproaching herself for a time, she resolved to be true to the banker and make him a good wife.
Notice how Moll played hard to get in order to make herself a more desirable catch.
All of Moll's marriages have been very private affairs. Why is she so concerned about keeping her affairs private? Remember the move to the Mint, the name-change to Mrs. Flanders, the seclusion during her pregnancies, as well as the secret marriages. In this chapter Moll contrasted a life of virtue and sobriety with one of looseness, extravagance, and wickedness. What excuse does she offer for the need to live a life of wickedness and evil?