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Chapter 19
I lay in the prison near fifteen weeks after this order for transportation was signed. What
the reason of it was, I know not, but at the end of this time I was put on board of a ship
in the Thames, and with me a gang of thirteen as hardened vile creatures as ever
Newgate produced in my time; and it would really well take up a history longer than
mine to describe the degrees of impudence and audacious villainy that those thirteen
were arrived to, and the manner of their behaviour in the voyage; of which I have a very
diverting account by me, which the captain of the ship who carried them over gave me
the minutes of, and which he caused his mate to write down at large.
It may perhaps be thought trifling to enter here into a relation of all the little incidents
which attended me in this interval of my circumstances; I mean, between the final order
of my transportation and the time of my going on board the ship; and I am too near the
end of my story to allow room for it; but something relating to me and my Lancashire
husband I must not omit.
He had, as I have observed already, been carried from the master's side of the ordinary
prison into the press-yard, with three of his comrades, for they found another to add to
them after some time; here, for what reason I knew not, they were kept in custody
without being brought to trial almost three months. It seems they found means to bribe
or buy off some of those who were expected to come in against them, and they wanted
evidence for some time to convict them. After some puzzle on this account, at first they
made a shift to get proof enough against two of them to carry them off; but the other
two, of which my Lancashire husband was one, lay still in suspense. They had, I think,
one positive evidence against each of them, but the law strictly obliging them to have
two witnesses, they could make nothing of it. Yet it seems they were resolved not to
part with the men neither, not doubting but a further evidence would at last come in; and
in order to this, I think publication was made, that such prisoners being taken, any one
that had been robbed by them might come to the prison and see them.
I took this opportunity to satisfy my curiosity, pretending that I had been robbed in the
Dunstable coach, and that I would go to see the two highwaymen. But when I came into
the press-yard, I so disguised myself, and muffled my face up so, that he could see little
of me, and consequently knew nothing of who I was; and when I came back, I said
publicly that I knew them very well.
Immediately it was rumoured all over the prison that Moll Flanders would turn evidence
against one of the highwaymen, and that I was to come off by it from the sentence of
They heard of it, and immediately my husband desired to see this Mrs. Flanders that
knew him so well, and was to be an evidence against him; and accordingly I had leave
given to go to him. I dressed myself up as well as the best clothes that I suffered myself