The Lining of the Patch-Work Screen, by Jane Barker

The Cause of the Moors Over−running Spain.

King of Spain at his Death, committed the Government of his Kingdom to his Brother Don till his little Son should come of Age, to take the Government upon himself. But Don prov'd a Traytor to his Trust; and by many false Stories invented against the Queen and the Prince, so brought things about, as to make himself be acknowledg'd and Crown'd King of Spain. Hereupon the distress'd Queen made her Escape to the Moors,imploring that King's Protection; which he not only generously gave her, but also aided her with a formidable Army wherewith to invade Spain, in right of the young Prince.

The Usurper of Spain, in the mean time, made great Preparations to oppose his Enemy and secure his Kingdom. He had a Noble General, a Person truly worthy in all things, excepting his adhering to the Usurper, and sustaining his unjust Pretentions: This General he sent with a well−appointed Army, to oppose the Moors; where we will leave him for the present, and return to what passed at Court.

This General had a very beautiful Daughter, whom the King took into his Protection in a pecular manner, both for her Father's Sake, and her own, promising her Father to marry her to one of the chief Grandees of Spain, if not to a Prince of the Blood Royal; in order to which, he plac'd her in a noble Appartment in the Royal Palace, gave her Equipage and Attendance suitable to a young Princess, that her Beauty might appear with greater Lustre to draw the Eyes and Hearts of those of the highest Rank and Quality. But the Success prov'd otherwise; this over−doing undid all: For every body began to look upon her as one prepared to be the King's Mistress, not the Wife of any Subject. Her Jewels, Riches, and Grandeur were look'd upon as the Garlands to dress her up a Sacrifice to the King's Pleasure. Now whither these Whispers first put it into his thoughts, or that it was his Design all along, is unknown; but the event makes it look more like the latter: For he began to make his amorous Inclinations known to her, with the utmost Gallantry and Assiduity, which she rejected with true Vertue and Modesty, beseeching his Majesty to dismiss her the Court, and give her leave to retire into a Convent, or any distant Country−retreat, where her Vertue and Honour might be secure, and his Majesty released from the Sight of that Face which was a Snare to his Honour and Christian Profession, with divers Arguments from time to time to the same purpose. All which served to render her the more amiable, and the more inflam'd that wicked Passion; which already was become unextinguishable; insomuch that he resolv'd bon−gre mal−gre to enjoy her; and accordingly executed his wicked Resolution. It is not recorded whether he subborn'd her Slaves, or used open Force; but 'tis certain he had not her Consent; but on the contrary, she was so enraged in her mind, that she thought on nothing but revenge; in order to which she disguised herself in form of a Slave and so went directly to the Army, to her Father; where casting her self at his feet, she told him the whole Indignity: Whereupon the General summoned many of the principal Officers of the Army, to hear the Story of this young Lady his Daughter! who upon her Knees begg'd them, for the sake of their own Children, to repair the Dishonour done to her and her Family. This so touch'd the General, and those noble Officers about him, that with one accord they resolv'd on a Revolt, and to joyn with the Moors, to dethrone the Usurper, and establish their young lawful King. In this state we will leave the Army, and return to Court.

The King having news of this Revolt, was greatly embarrass'd, not knowing which way to turn himself: He endeavour'd to raise new Troops; but alas to little purpose; for the Hearts of the People were estranged, and the vile Act which caused the General, and other Persons of Honour to draw the Army into a Revolt, opened the Eyes of all, even his chief Adherents, both in Town, Country and Court, so that he was reduced to the utmost Distress, being contemned by his Servants, abhorr'd by his People, and the Army in open rebellion. In the midst of these Dilemma's, like King Saul of old, he betook himself to consult the Devil.

There was a Hill on which stood a strong−built Tower; But by whom, or when erected, or how it came there, no Record, or Tradition, gave account; only in general, 'twas called the Devil's Tower. The Entrance was so fast lock'd and barricaded, as render'd it very difficult to open, if attempted, which was never done, as being supposed a dangerous Enterprize. However, in this great Exigence to which this Usurper was reduced, he resolves to open this Place, be the event what it will; which was perform'd with great difficulty, and divers Persons entered, who were immediately suffocated, and fell down dead; which was surprizing at first; but on second thoughts, it was easily concluded to be the unwholsome Vapours, so long shut up from Air, which caus'd that sudden Stop of the vital Spirits.

Wherefore it was resolved to let it stand open a few Days, placing a Guard to prevent any body's Entrance. In the mean time, provision was made of many Flambeaux and Torches, not only for the Service of their Light, but to help extenuate those poysonous Particles there gather'd by means of the want of Air. Thus they entered the Habitation of the Devil, or the Devil's Tower, vulgarly so called.

They went but a little space till it seem'd to wind on both hands, but they struck towards the left; where they beheld with great Horror a vast Cauldron full of Blood, which kept continually boiling, but no Fire was to be perceived: At the same time they heard a strange Noise of a distinct Thump, perform'd in exact time and measure. Then going a little farther, they met two Monsters dragging one another, who were lash'd on by other Monsters behind them, making them cry and howl in a dismal manner: For they were both to be put into that Cauldron of boiling Blood. The Passengers stood aside to give them way, and then pass'd on, meeting divers frightful Figures, whether real Monsters grown out of the foul Particles of that odious Enclosure, or Phantoms, or Spectres, they could not tell: But, amongst the many Yellings and Cries which they heard; the continual Thump ceased not. Sometimes they heard a Noise like the Falling of Water; and going on they perceiv'd a Machine like a vast Mill which was a most horrible Sight; for the Grist that was here ground, seem'd to be Human Creatures. At another place was a vast fiery Furnace, wherein were many Monsters marching about, whether Salamanders, or what, they could not tell. There were many more strange and monstrous Appearances, not easily to be remember'd, much less to be describ'd; nor could any body conceive the true natural Cause of these Productions, whether a subterraneous Fire heated that Red Liquor, which appear'd like Blood, (which Liquor, perhaps, was only Water, so coloured by passing through Red Earth) no body could conclude; tho' every one made their several Conjectures thereon.

After many strange and astonishing Appearances, they came at last to a Gate, whereon were written in great Letters the following Lines:

Mortal, whoe'er thou art, beware,
Thou go not in this Place too far:
Yet bear this Warning in thy Mind,
Be sure thou dost not look behind.

When they had read these Verses, they were not only much frighted, but found the Words reduced them to great Difficulties, seeming to forbid them to go back: For they could not do that, without looking behind; and then again, importing Danger if they went forward. They weighed these Considerations a while, till the King's Inclinations, together with their own Curiosity, turned the Balance to a Resolution of entring in, and proceeding farther. They soon conquered the Difficulties of getting the Gate open; so on they went, and found themselves within the Body of a large round Room, which was the Tower that appeared above−ground, the rest being a subterraneous Circle round this Tower.

In the midst of this Place stood a great Image of Time, with a huge long Club in his Hand, which he raised and let fall in due measure; and this caused that astonishing Thump which they heard from the first Moment of their Entry. They kept in their mind, that they must not look behind them, so resolved to walk round the Place; where on the Walls they found divers Inscriptions, all importing Warnings, Menaces and Miseries to those that came there. In reading which, they sometimes stopt to consider the Purport and dubious Meanings of these uncouth Writings. At last being got round a good part of the Circle, they cast their Eyes on the Shoulders of the Image, and there found the following Words, which the King read with an audible Voice:

All Tribulation shall they find,
Who needs will look on me behind.

At the reading hereof they all fell into a great Consternation, especially the King. They now very well understood what was meant by those Words written on the Gate, Not look behind; which they had mistaken, thinking they were prohibited looking behind themselves, or turning back the same way. Thus, the Devil's Oracles are always double and delusive, and such are all his Temptations, as this wretched King and all his Adherents soon afterwards found.

They hasted out of the Tower as fast as they could, fastned and barricaded it up close, as they found it, and so left it. The King returned home greatly troubled, and more embarrass'd now than ever. The next Day the Tower was totally sunk into the Ground, and no sign left to demonstrate there had ever been such an Edifice. Thus the little Story ended, without telling what Misery befel the King and Kingdom, by the Moors, who over−ran the Country for many Years after. To which, we may well apply the Proverb,

Who drives the Devil's Stages,
Deserves the Devil's Wages.

The reading this Trifle of a Story detained Galecia from her Rest beyond her usual Hour; for she slept so sound the next Morning, that she did not rise, till a Lady's Footman came to tell her, that his Lady and another or two were coming to breakfast with her: Whereupon she hastned to get her self and her Tea−Table ready for her Reception.

It was not many Moments e'er they arriv'd, and the good friendly Lady presented one to Galecia, asking her if she remember'd this her old Friend, after so many Years Absence? Which at first a little surpriz'd her; but she soon call'd her to mind. Ah, said Philinda, (for that was her Name) I do not wonder you could not know me, my Afflictions having made me almost a Stranger to my self: To which the good Lady replied, That whilst the Tea−Kettle was on the Fire, she might tell Galecia her short Story e'er it boyl'd: But Philinda beg'd the Lady to pardon the Confusion which might occur in this Relation, and recount it to Galecia her self, her Ladyship knowing every the minutest Circumstance. To which the good Lady accorded. Philinda, in the mean time seeing the little Old Book lying on the Table, in which Galecia had been reading over Night, took the same, and went into the next Room, and left them to their Story, being willing to be out of the hearing of those Calamities, in which she had been so great a Sufferer.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/barker/jane/lining/chapter3.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31