Wednesday, November 17, 2010

L'Estrange: A Woman trusted with a Secret.

There was a Good Woman (in the Days when Good Women were in Fashion) that valu'd her self Wonderfully upon the Faculty of Retention, or (for the sake of Good Manners) upon the Admirable Gift she had in the keeping of a Secret. The Toy took her Husband in the Head once, to make Tryal of her Vertue that way; and so he told her One Morning upon Waking, in the greatest Confidence Imaginable, one of the Strangest Things perhaps that ever was heard of, which had that Night Befall'n him: But my Dear, says he, if you should Speak on't again, I'm utterly Ruin'd; and Women are generally so Leaky, that in the whole Course of my Life, I have hardly met with any one of the Sex that could not hold her Breath longer then she should keep a Secret. Ah, my Life (says she) but your Woman I assure ye, is none of that Number. What? Betray my Husbands Secrets, I'd Dye a Thousand Deaths first. No my Heart, if ever I do, may..." Her Husband at that word, stop'd her Mouth, for fear of some Bloody Imprecation, and so told her. Come Wife, says he, They that will Swear will Lye, and so I'll rather tell you upon Honour. Look ye here what has befall'n me; I have laid an Egg to night; and so he took the Egg from his Backside, and bad her Feel on't; but if this should ever come to Light now, People would say that I was Hen-Trod, and the Disgrace of it would make me a Scandal to Mankin. This Secret lay Burning in the Breast of the Poor Woman, and kept her Waking, till she had Day-light enough to Rise by; and then softly out of the Bed she steals, for fear of Waking her Husband, and so away Post-hast to a Gossipping Neighbour of her Acquaintance; Hurries her out of her Bed; Charms and Swears her to Privacy; and then out comes the Secret, That her Husband had laid two Eggs that very Night. This Confident had another Confident; and there 'twas Three Eggs. The next made it Four; and so it went on (Encreasing still;) from one Gossip to another, till by Six a Clock in the Afternoon they had made it Forty Eggs.

Three may Keep Counsel, when Two are away.

Source: L'Estrange 427.
Uxor et Mariti Occulta

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