Study Guide

Moll Flanders Section 9

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Section 9

Freedom and Travel

  • Time to prepare for exile. The midwife and the chaplain try to get her out of it, but can't. And anyway, Moll thinks it might not be so bad. She can be with her Lancashire husband and stay free of the temptation to return to her life of crime.
  • Eventually, Moll hops aboard a ship to America. The criminals on board her ship are watched closely so they don't escape, but Moll arranges to have a letter sent to the midwife and her husband. She wants to have her possessions brought to the ship and pays off one of the ship's workers, the boatswain, to send the letters.
  • The boatswain mentions that maybe he could help Moll escape from the ship. Tempting, no?
  • The midwife brings Moll what she can take with her to America without arousing suspicion and arranges to send more to her later. She also brings Moll a letter from the Lancashire husband, which says he's worried she'll get to America before he does.
  • So the ever-resourceful midwife works with Moll to get her Lancashire man on the same boat, after Moll tells her about the vision the couple has for their new life in America. This midwife is a real good friend to have around in a jam.
  • Then the voyage begins. Moll and her man assess their situation. Neither one of them has much in the way of money, but Moll tells him that she has a secret stash of goods stowed away on board. She has been planning to sell the stuff when they land in America, so they'll be able to start fresh. Apparently these goods are on board under her real name.
  • Rather than tolerate being treated like animals, as the other criminals are, Moll pays off the boatswain and arranges for she and her husband to share a cabin on the ship. The mate and the captain are both nice to them.
  • Moll tells the midwife what happened and buys supplies for the trip before the boat leaves.
  • The midwife meets with the captain and convinces him to help Moll and her husband make a good start when they reach America. She makes arrangements so the couple can buy a plantation in Virginia. This midwife is seriously the best friend in the world.
  • At long last, the ship departs. First, it makes a short trip to another part of England, where Moll and her husband go on shore for the day. There they part with the midwife and then return to the boat and head for America. The ship pauses in Ireland, where Moll gets more supplies, and then finally makes its way to Virginia.
  • Once they've landed, the captain helps arrange for someone to purchase Moll and her husband as servants, so they can enter the country legally, and then grant them their release. They promptly pay off the captain, too. He really came through for them, after all.
  • The couple starts settling in and assessing their situation. Moll finds out that her mother is dead and her former husband/brother is still alive – and lives nearby. Uh oh.
  • When Moll arranges with a neighbor woman to go and spy on the brother, she learns that their son is still living with him. Upon seeing her child (who goes by "Humphry," by the way) Moll is overwhelmed and cries.
  • The woman tells her the rumors about what had happened to the man and his family, which is of course exactly what did happen. So everyone knows about Moll's incestuous marriage. Awkward.
  • To avoid suspicion, Moll pretends she's just a bystander and learns that her mother has left her a big inheritance.
  • Moll doesn't know what to do, and her husband can tell something is bothering her. They think about moving, but then she won't inherit her mom's money. Finally, she decides they should move to Carolina, because she would like to avoid telling her Lancashire husband about her shameful, incestuous past.
  • But still, that money is awfully tempting. So Moll tries to figure out how to get it without hurting anyone or revealing herself. She comes up empty of ideas, so she and her husband move forward with their plan to move south. She figures that she'll be able to return to Virginia later to see about that inheritance.
  • They have a difficult journey, and only manage to get as far as a place called Philip's Point, where they miss their connection to Carolina and decide to just stay where they are.
  • When a Quaker helps them, and they acquire two servants, they start building a farm and a home.
  • After getting settled, Moll goes north to figure out her inheritance. She writes her old husband/brother a letter about her situation and says in it she just wants the money that it's rightfully hers. She says she'd also like to see Humphry.
  • The son is the one who sees the letter first and soon comes to meet Moll. They have a wonderful reunion and are really glad to see each other.
  • He tells her that his father is too old and out of it to know about the real situation, but he'll see about getting Moll her money.
  • After mother and son fill each other in about their lives, he tells her he wants her to live close by. Eventually, he arranges for her to get her inheritance. Apparently, she has inherited a farm, too. Her son tells her that he can manage it for her, if she would like.
  • This prompts Moll to thank God for making her life work out so darn well. Amen, sister. You're one lucky lady.
  • She and her son form a great relationship and she tells him he'll be her primary heir. They hang out a ton, and she gives him a gold watch, before signing over some of her inheritance to him.
  • After about a month, Moll goes back home, parting on good terms with her son.
  • She tells her husband almost everything, saying her son is actually her cousin, and they discover they're suddenly in excellent financial shape.
  • They are both happy and excited, and have fully repented for their criminal sins.
  • They continue to do well, make money, and look out for those they care for. Soon, even more possessions arrive for them from England. Life is looking pretty darn good.
  • If you think about it, it turns out that, after all this time, Moll's husband did marry a very rich woman. It just took a few years for that to that ship to come in. But now Moll is wealthy, and her husband is, too.
  • One year later, Moll visits her son again. Her husband/brother has died. Moll tells her son she'll probably marry this guy she knows.
  • After returning home, Moll writes to her son that she has married and they invite Humphry to come visit them.
  • At that point, Moll tells her husband the whole story of what really happened, and he's actually pretty cool about it. He says she shouldn't feel guilty and if anyone was to blame it was the other husband.
  • And there you have it, folks. Moll concludes her story by telling us faithful readers that she and her Lancashire man have returned to England and will rest on their laurels, along with their wealth, until they are dead. Now there's a happy ending.

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