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

The Story of Philinda,

Related by the Lady Allgood.

This Gentlewoman (said my Lady) had out of her Frugality saved a little private purse to her self, unknown to her Husband; a way which many an excellent good Wife takes, whether to have something of their own fancied Property, and more directly at their Service, or only to have a little Cash to look on, matters not; but thus it happened: There was a Gentleman that wanted a little Sum of forty or fifty Pounds, wherewith to make up a Payment of Money unknown to his Wife. Philinda being this Gentleman's Friend, he applied himself to her to help him to this Sum; to which she accorded, and lent him the Money privately.

After a while she having occasion to dispose thereof advantageously, writ a Letter desiring him to meet her at the Abby, where she would be at Morning−prayers. His Wife hapned to receive the Note, and had the Curiosity to open it, and was seiz'd with a Jealousie, which destroy'd her Quiet. However, she made it up again, gave it her Husband without taking any notice he went to the Church as appointed, and there he met with this his Friend; she whispered to him, that she had now an Opportunity to dispose of her Money to advantage, and therefore desired him to help her to it if he could, without too great Inconveniency. He told her, that he had the Money ready at home, and would go and fetch it, and come back to her by such time as prayers were ended. So said, so done: He went home, and fetch'd it, and came back to her e'er the Congregation was dispers'd. They went into a publick House to pay and receive this Money: But as ill luck would have it, chop'd into a House of ill Repute, and so unlucky it was, that in that critical Juncture there came Constables and Officers of Justice to search for Lewd People; and finding him and her together by themselves, carried her before a Justice of Peace: Where, she not reflecting on the Consequence, told a wrong Name, being loth to be known, in that odd Circumstance; and happen'd on a Name that had lately been before the same Justice. Wherefore, without delay he sent her to Bridewell. Thus was this good Woman brought into Distress, Disgrace, Horror and the utmost Confusion, before she was aware; For at their being first seiz'd, she desir'd the Gentleman to slip away, and take no notice of her; but to leave her without concern, as if she had been a common Woman; thinking to deal well enough with the Constables: For all that she aim'd at was but to keep it from her Husband's Knowledge: But matters going on as I told you before, she was reduced to this Distress and shameful Condition, not knowing which way to turn her self, to whom to address, or what method to take for her Enlargement: She thought, if she told her true Name, and sent for her Husband, she could hope for nothing but to be abandon'd, if not prosecuted by him as an Adulteress. To remain there, and undergo the Rigour of the Law, allotted for such Offenders, was hard, or rather insupportable for an innocent Person: Besides, it could not be; for her Absence from her House would soon stir up her Husband's Enquiry to find her out.

Thus she weigh'd every thing, but could pitch upon nothing that had any Face of probability, to do her any Service; At last, she resolv'd on the plain Truth, that being generally the best Advocate for Innocence; and so sent for her Husband, and told him the true State of the Case: But alas, it was all Words to a Storm, or the North Wind. He resolv'd, and actually put in execution the utmost that Law could do in such a case; Not only being content to abandon her to the Disgrace which would naturally ensue; but persecuted her from Place to Place, from Prison to Prison; so that Poverty, Prosecution and Punishment of all sorts, was her lot; nay, even her own Friends and Relations were her Enemies, so grossly foul was the Appearance of this Transaction.

Thus this good Gentlewoman suffer'd with great patience, her manifold Afflictions, attended with the utmost soul Disgrace; But good Heaven at last made way for her Justification. The Gentleman that had borrow'd the money of her, had been hurried by his superiour Officer to his Post in Flanders. Which was the Cause he could not appear in her behalf, when things came to that great extremity. This Gentleman receiv'd a cruel Wound in some Skirmish, which happen'd there; so that the Surgeons despair'd of his Recovery. Hereupon he call'd some of his Friends, Gentlemen of undoubted Honour and Probity, and begg'd them to receive the Attestation of a dying Man; which was, that Philinda was a perfect vertuous Woman, to the utmost degree that he knew of her; and that for his own Part, he never had a thought towards her, other than towards a Mother or a Sister; And so he related to them the whole occasion and manner of that Transaction, which had made so much Noise in the World, calling the Gentleman to witness, to whom he had paid the Money he had thus borrow'd of Philinda, and had been present when she lent it to him; without which the said Gentleman could not have made his Campaign. This he charged them all on the Word of a dying Man, to report to Philida's Husband and Friends; which they did with the utmost Sincerity.

Now this News, with the great danger the Gentleman was in, rous'd his Wife out of her Jealousie or Delirium; she went to Philinda's Husband, beg'd pardon for all the trouble she had caused him and his Wife, declar'd how she had intercepted the Letter, made them be dog'd to that place where the Constable found them, and that she sent him there to seize them, and at the same time caused her Husband to be commanded into Flanders; For all which profess'd her self truly sorry: and earnestly beg'd, that as she had contriv'd their Separation, she might cause their Re−union: which she was willing to cement with her Tears and constant Vows offer'd to Heaven for their Happiness.

Thus was the married Couple happily reconcil'd, and have liv'd together ever since in great Tranquillity. The Gentleman recovered of his Dangerous Wound, came home to pertake of, and increase their Happiness by reiterated Attestations of the Innocence of all the proceeding. On the other side, his Wife promis'd never to intercept his or any body's Letters, perceiving now it was not only a great Indignity and Breach of good manners, but a Crime that deserves a Punishment, equal to that of picking Pockets, breaking a Lock, or the like.

Philinda and her Husband resolv'd to have no more separate Purses each from other, whereby to cause Contention. Thus were these two Families reunited, and the Cause of their Disturbance wholly remov'd; in which the Proverb was fulfill'd,

After a Storm comes a Calm.

Breakfast being ready the Company call'd Philinda from her old Book, in which she was much engag'd, in particular in one Story, which (said she) being extraordinary, I will repeat to the Company as soon as we have done our Tea, which accordingly she did, as follows:

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:51