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His Presence of Mind

I never saw such a chain of providences before, so many convincing proofs that the hand of God is on every person and thing and overruling all as it seemeth Him good.

The poor woman of Darlaston, who had headed that mob and sworn that no one should touch me, when she saw her followers give way, ran into the thickest of the throng and knocked down three or four men, one after another. But many assaulting her at once, she was soon overpowered and had probably been killed in a few minutes (three men keeping her down and beating her with all their might) had not a man called to one of them, “Hold, Tom, hold!” “Who is there?” said Tom: “what, honest Munchin?  Nay, then, let her go.” So they held their hand and let her get up and crawl home as well as she could.

From the beginning to the end I found the same presence of mind as if I had been sitting in my own study. But I took no thought for one moment before another; only once it came into my mind that if they should throw me into the river, it would spoil the papers that were in my pocket. For myself, I did not doubt but I should swim across, having but a thin coat and a light pair of boots.

The circumstances that follow, I thought, were particularly remarkable: 1) that many endeavored to throw me down while we were going downhill on a slippery path to the town; as well judging, that if I was once on the ground, I should hardly rise any more. But I made no stumble at all, nor the least slip till I was entirely out of their hands. 2) That although many strove to lay hold on my collar or clothes, to pull me down, they could not fasten at all: only one got fast hold of the flap of my waistcoat, which was soon left in his hand; the other flap, in the pocket of which was a bank note, was torn but half off. 3) That a lusty man just behind struck at me several times with a large oaken stick, with which if he had struck me once on the back part of my head, it would have saved him all further trouble. But every time the blow was turned aside, I know not how; for I could not move to the right hand or left.

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