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

The Story of Tangerine, The Gentleman Gypsie.

I took my Name, said he, from that renowned Garrison of Tangier; where I was a Soldier. When the good and gracious King Charles was driven to a necessity of demolishing that Fort, and dismantling the Garrison, which was much against his Inclination, it being a greater Loss to England than that of Dunkirk; though not so much taken notice of, as lying so much farther off. The parting with either was very grievous to the King: But the great Machine of State at that time between Court and Country partly moved in such manner, that his Majesty had not Money to support the said Garrisons, so that bon−gre, mal−gre he was forced to part with them. But to return to what appertains to my self, State−affairs being neither your, nor my province at this time.

I was born a Gentleman, and educated accordingly, but the Havock Cromwell's Party had made in my Father's Substance, forced me (as well as many other younger Brothers) to seek my Fortune; and so I went with a Friend of my Father's, (an Officer of Note) to Tangier, where, I doubt not, but he would have endeavour'd for my Preferment, in time.

But now, give me leave to go back a little; Before my going to Tangier, the Beauty of a young Lady had fir'd my Heart to that degree, that I knew not how to go, or stay. I shall not repeat to you the manner of our Courtship, the many Hopes, Tears, Joys and Fears, which agitated our Interiours. In short, the Lady was willing to promise me Marriage, and to stay for me till my Return, or till I should be in a condition to send for her; but that was not sufficient; nothing would serve my turn, but to espouse her e'er my Departure; and this with the utmost Sincerity. I had great Difficulty to gain her Consent to this; and many Arguments passed backward and forward on both sides; but at last her Affections were so prevalent, as to make her submit to my Importunities, and so married we were, very privately, about a Week before my Departure. I will not repeat to you what tenderness pass'd between us that Week; it breaks my aged Heart to think of it; nor is my faltring Tongue able to express the Sorrows of this our Separation.

I got well to Tangier, lived happy with my Friend, and made my self many more in the Garrison, &c. but it was not long e'er we were all sent for home, the Garrison being to be destroy'd as I before said. When I got to England, the first News I heard, was, that my Father was dead, and my elder Brother married to this my Wife. I cannot express how greatly I was afflicted and amazed, even to Distraction; I knew not which way to go, nor to address my self; Father I had none, Heaven and the Course of Nature had depriv'd me of that Happiness; my Father's House a Den of Incest; my Brother my Rival; my Wife an incestuous Prostitute. To go near, or reproach them, was to make them miserable, and my self not happy.

In the mean time, I wanted Bread: For the King, who was not able to maintain us in Garrison, when we did him and the Nation Service, was as little able, when we did him none. In such Afflictions, I joyned my self with some others of these my distressed Tangier−Companions, and so went to seek Adventures on the High−way. Sometimes we went in little Parties, sometimes single. It was my luck one time to attack a Coach, whilst another or two remain'd perdue at a distance: But how was I surpriz'd, when I found in this Coach my Brother and his Wife, or rather my Wife! Tho' I knew them, they knew not me: For the Weather had much alter'd me in travelling by Sea and Land, beside the little Disguise I wore. They readily gave me me what they had, which was considerable, and with which I departed, without demanding Watches, Rings, Necklace, or any thing else. But Hue and Cry was soon out after me; which pursued me so close every way, that I had no hopes of escaping. At this juncture 'twas I met with this Band of Strollers, and gave them all my Booty to receive me into their Gang; which they soon did, and as soon disguised me from being known by my most intimate Acquaintance: And thus I have lived amongst them ever since, till Old Age has put me on another Disguise more undiscoverable than the former.

He had scarce finish'd his Discourse, when a mourning Coach came driving on with a slow Pace, and in it an elderly Lady, with two young Ladies. The latter perceiving our two Gypsies, called out to stop the Coach, that they might divert themselves, by having their Fortune told. The old Gypsie approaching the Coach, saw his Wife in her Widow's Dress: He told them, that their Fortune was so extraordinary, that he desir'd a little longer time to consider of it, before he could inform them; so they let him know where they intended to lodge that Night, which was to be at the same great Town where our Gang of Strollers were going; then the Coach passed on, he promising to come to 'em.

Indeed, said the Old Gypsie, I shall tell them strange Fortune, when I let the Lady know, that I am her true and lawful Husband, and Father to that young Gentleman that rode by the Coach: For I have heard, that she was delivered of this her Son some Weeks too soon for her Credit; so that I doubt not but I left my Brother an Heir ready for his Estate, before I went to Tangier.

Thus, methinks, I see an End of this miserable Way of living, which always seemed odious to me; but the Shelter it gave me from the foremention'd Pursuit made me undergo it with Patience: For I am not vicious or unworthy in my Nature, having always had a constant Abhorrence of the other, as well as this vile Course; but a fatal Necessity compell'd me to it. I have often thought it a Defect in our Government, that there is not some method thought on or contriv'd for distressed young Gentlemen and Gentlewomen, to employ, and secure them from these or other wicked Actions, to which they are often exposed by hard fortune, or ill management, or the Cruelty or Caprice of Parents; the latter of which I take to be your case (continuing his speech to the young Lady Gypsie) But, he assur'd, when I get to my Estate, which I shall now soon do, my Brother being dead, (by making my Wife own this her Son to be my Son;) Be assured, I say, that I shall then take care of you, in my own House, and make your Beauty shine in the Eyes of this my Son (if he be not otherwise engaged) so as to make you become my Daughter: For which Kindness our Young Gypsie was very thankful: But Providence determined otherwise, as appears by the Sequel.

By this time our Strollers came to them, having pillaged the Hedges and Farmers Yards of what they could conveniently come at So one Party of them was to go with their Booty to the next Town, whilst the other went into this Village, to cant lye, tell fortunes, pick Pockets, &c. and so they were to meet all at their Rendezvous at the Place appointed.

Here they came to a Lady's House, where they began (as usual) to tell fortunes among the Servants, who listned to them as so many divine Oracles. In the mean time the Lady of the House came to chide them for hearkening to those deceitful Vagabonds. Now, so it hapned, that this Lady had sore Eyes; which our Gypsie remark'd; and having before learnt many fine Receits of her Mother, took notice to the Lady of the Indisposition of her Eyes, telling her that she could cure them. Alas, said the Lady, I have try'd almost all things, without Effect and therefore have little reason to put any confidence in what you offer. But our Young Gypsie press'd her with such agreeable Arguments, couch'd in modest respectful Terms, that the Lady was persuaded to make use of this poor Stroller's Receit. Now, the Preparation being to take some days time, the Lady received the Girl into her House, till the Medicine could be made. This was a great comfort to our Gypsie hoping, perhaps, to have an Opportunity of ingratiating her self with the Lady.

Things succeeded well; the Lady's Eyes were cured, and then her Ladyship asked the Maid, why such a young Girl as she, did not rather betake her self to Service, than lead such a vagrant scandalous Life, and offered her to remain amongst the Servants, till some Place might fall for her; in the mean time she was appointed to assist in the Kitchen.

Here she behaved her self with great Discretion, and was so ready at all Sauces and savory Meats, all manner of Pickling and Pastry, with whatsoever belong'd to a compleat Cook, that she amaz'd all who beheld the manner of her proceeding.

She had not been there many Weeks, e'er the Lady's House−keeper was married; after which the Lady prefer'd our Gypsie to her Place. Here she performed all to admiration, whether Sweetmeats, Distillations, Infusions, or whatever else belong'd to a Person in that Station: she was a Stranger to nothing, but ill−manners; all Curiosities of the House−keeper's Closet was familiar to her, that her Lady and every body were amaz'd not knowing what to conjecture.

By this time the false Complexion the Gypsies had put on her was worn off; and in this genteel Post she began to get Cloath suitable to her station; that now our Gypsie appear'd beautiful in her Person, as well as knowing in her Business, and prudent in her Actions. Now, as this Brightness of Person and Parts was visible to all, so in a peculiar manner it struck the eyes, of the young Gentleman her Lady's Son, who was lately come from Travel, he had seen the World, with its various sort of Beauties; but none had touch'd him like our Gypsie's. However, he thought of no other Favours, but what might be, purchased at the price of a Guinea, or so.

But, alas, when he came to make attacks, he quickly found his mistake; For our Gypsie, was so affronted, that she told her Lady, that she must take her leave of her Ladyship, and desired to be dismissed The Lady was surprized, and would not permit her to depart, till she asked her the reason of this her sudden Resolution; Much she press'd, and loath the Girl was to discover: But in the end, she told the real Truth. The Lady rebuked her Son for having such an unworthy thought towards the poor young Creature; and one that she loved and esteemed. The Gentleman promised that he would no more attack the Gypsie's Vertue; nevertheless, a while after, the Gypsie press'd for her Departure, which the young Gentleman oppos'd.

At last our Fair One told her Lady, that she could not stay in the House with the young Gentleman; so once more beg'd her Ladyship to dismiss her. The Lady importun'd her to let her know the reason, and whether her Son was troublesome to her or not: She said, no; but her own Weakness was so. Then casting her self at her Lady's feet; beg'd pardon for having dar'd to cast her Eyes, on her Ladyship's Son, a Person so much above her: But alas, continued she, I am but a poor helpless Maid, He a glorious Youth, whose Birth, Person, and Education, all combine to storm my Heart, guarded with nothing but Vertue and Innocence; wherefore, Madam, I beseech you to consent to my Departure, whilst I am innocent. The good Lady was greatly touch'd, and found a necessity to part with her; but withal resolv'd to provide for her, putting her into some way suitable to her Merits. This she revealed to her Son, which he absolutely oppos'd, telling his Mother, that he was so far from parting with his Gypsie, that he was resolv'd to unite himself to her in the holy Bonds of Matrimony. The Lady was struck with Horrour and Amazement at this her Son's Declaration, much reproaching him for the Meanness of his Thoughts, in divers sorts of Expressions suitable to the occasion. He, on the other side, defended himself with what Arguments he could, without breaking the bonds of Duty and Respect.

He alledged the Gypsie's Deserts both in Mind and Person, his own Affections, which he found impossible to conquer, or bring into any bounds of Reason; the Gypsie's vertuous and generous Deportment, in desiring to be dismissed, rather than blemish her Lady's Family with such an unworthy Alliance; With many other Arguments which he produced in favour of his beloved Gypsie; none of which his Mother could gainsay or disallow: But in fine, she was far unfit for his Quality or Fortune. Beside, said the Lady, your Father enjoyn'd me at his Death to promote a Marriage between you and Mr. Truman's Daughter, when you should return from your Travels. And now I have sent my Steward to make Proposals on that Subject, how can I absolve my self of my Promise made to your dear Father deceas'd? I wonder not at your loving the Gypsie; for 'tis certain, I love and esteem her in a great degree; nevertheless Reason must be my Guide, and ought to be yours: And though it be extreamly against my Inclination to part with her, yet now your Folly compels me, Duty to my honourable dead Husband's Memory commands me, Respect to your Family obliges me, and maternal Affection to you, finishes the Chain of all the indispensible Reasons. Then calling for the Gypsie, told her, she had at last resolv'd to comply with her Desires, of letting her go; therefore commanded her to dispose her self for her departure next Morning.

Hereupon our Gypsie cast her self at the Lady's Feet, assuring her Ladyship that she had no ways contributed to any of this Disorder, which had happened in her Family; Your Son, Madam, is here to testifie, that I never encourag'd his Passion, nor concealed any thing from you Ladyship; but behav'd my self openly and aboveboard in all things, except letting your Son know my Inclinations; but always refus'd his Proposals, though never so honourable, being without and against your Ladyship's Consent.

The young Gentleman was about to reply, by way of witness to her Assertion, when behold the Steward (which the Lady had sent to her Friend Mr. Truman) approached, and with him, Mr.Truman's Steward, bringing a Letter containing the following words:

Madam, Heaven has justly punish'd me in the Loss of my Daughter, for the breach of that Promise, I made to my worthy Friend your Husband in behalf of your Son: When Riches tempted me I had no power to refuse; for a certain rich neighbouring Gentleman gain'd so far upon me, that I lay'd my Commands upon her to dispose her Person and Affections for him; which she receiv'd with such Displeasure, that I have never seen her since, nor ever hope to see her more; That I am now, Madam, as afflicted as guilty; one, implores your Pity, the other, your Pardon, which I hope for from the abundance of that Goodness which made you at first comply with this propos'd Alliance with your unworthy Friend and most obedient Servant,

J. Truman.

Whilst the Lady was perusing this Letter, Truman's Steward cast his Eyes on the Gypsie, and knew her to be his Master's Daughter, and with a suitable Obeisance, saluted her by her Name, withal reproaching her for the many and great Afflictions she had caused her Father by this her long Absence.

This Discovery was the most pleasing and agreeable Surprize that could happen to a Family. The Lady and her Son were delighted beyond expression; our young Lady Gypsie was lost in a pleasing Confusion; a Mixture of Shame and Satisfaction appear'd in her; one for having committed such a ridiculous piece of Extravagance in leaving her Father's House, the other, for being discover'd to her Lover, and her good, after such a long Concealment. The elder Lady put a period to all, by ordering her Equipage to be made ready to carry them all to her Friend Mr. Truman's; where they celebrated the Marriage, to the great Satisfaction of all Parties.

Thus was this young Lady deliver'd out of that Ocean of Disgrace, into which her Folly and Rashness had cast her; and for an Augmentation of Happiness. Mr. Tangerine and his Family came to make them a Visit, he being reconciled to his Wife, and lived with her as his Brother's Widow; it being convenient on all accounts to keep the rest secret. To these two Families one may very well apply the Proverb,

Give Folks Luck, and throw 'em into the Sea.

The Company were very much diverted at this Story, tho' they blamed the Young Lady for her strange unparallel'd Enterprize, saying, that surely she had been reading some ridiculous Romance, or Novel, that inspired her with such a vile Undertaking, from whence she could rationally expect nothing but Misery and Disgrace. But Heaven was gracious and merciful, in preserving her from sinking into the most odious Infamy.

Thus having pass'd the short Winter's Afternoon, in Tea and Chat, the approaching Evening called them to their respective Habitations.

Galesia was no sooner got to her Lodging, but a Gentleman, an Acquaintance she had at St. Germain's, came to make her a Visit; and being seated, she began to enquire what good fortune had attended him since she left him there, and since his Arrival in England. To which he answer'd, I have been too strict an Adherent to Honour and Honesty, to hope for good fortune on this side Heaven. However, since you enquire, I will tell you a Romantick Adventure which fell in my way a few Days ago.

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