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Title: One Hundred Merrie And Delightsome Stories
 - Right Pleasaunte To Relate In All Goodly Companie By Way Of Joyance And Jollity
Author: Various, - To be updated
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "One Hundred Merrie And Delightsome Stories
 - Right Pleasaunte To Relate In All Goodly Companie By Way Of Joyance And Jollity" ***

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[Illustration: cover.jpg  Cover]

[Illustration: spines.jpg  Spines]

[Illustration: titlepage.jpg  Titlepage]



ONE HUNDRED MERRIE AND DELIGHTSOME STORIES

Right Pleasaunte To Relate In All Goodly Companie By Way Of Joyance And Jollity


LES CENT NOUVELLES NOUVELLES

Now First Done Into The English Tongue By Robert B. Douglas


Various Authors


Edited by Antoine de la Salle


Illustrated by Léon Lebèque


Paris

Charles Carrington

13 Faubourg Montmartre

1899



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION


STORY THE FIRST -- THE REVERSE OF THE MEDAL.

_The first story tells of how one found means to enjoy the wife of his
neighbour, whose husband he had sent away in order that he might have
her the more easily, and how the husband returning from his journey,
found his friend bathing with his wife. And not knowing who she was, he
wished to see her, but was permitted only to see her back--, and then
thought that she resembled his wife, but dared not believe it. And
thereupon left and found his wife at home, she having escaped by a
postern door, and related to her his suspicions._


STORY THE SECOND -- THE MONK-DOCTOR.

_The second story, related by Duke Philip, is of a young girl who had
piles, who put out the only eye he had of a Cordelier monk who was
healing her, and of the lawsuit that followed thereon._


STORY THE THIRD -- THE SEARCH FOR THE RING.

_Of the deceit practised by a knight on a miller’s wife whom he made
believe that her front was loose, and fastened it many times. And the
miller informed of this, searched for a diamond that the knight’s lady
had lost, and found it in her body, as the knight knew afterwards: so he
called the miller “fisherman”, and the miller called him “fastener”._


STORY THE FOURTH -- THE ARMED CUCKOLD.

_The fourth tale is of a Scotch archer who was in love with a fair
and gentle dame, the wife of a mercer, who, by her husband’s orders
appointed a day for the said Scot to visit her, who came and treated her
as he wished, the said mercer being hid by the side of the bed, where he
could see and hear all._


STORY THE FIFTH -- The Duel with the Buckle-Strap.

_The fifth story relates two judgments of Lord Talbot. How a Frenchman
was taken prisoner (though provided with a safe-conduct) by an
Englishman, who said that buckle-straps were implements of war, and who
was made to arm himself with buckle-straps and nothing else, and meet
the Frenchman, who struck him with a sword in the presence of Talbot.
The other, story is about a man who robbed a church, and who was made to
swear that he would never enter a church again._


STORY THE SIXTH --THE DRUNKARD IN PARADISE.

_The sixth story is of a drunkard, who would confess to the Prior of the
Augustines at the Hague, and after his confession said that he was then
in a holy state and would die; and believed that his head was cut off
and that he was dead, and was carried away by his companions who said
they were going to bury him._


STORY THE SEVENTH -- THE WAGGONER IN THE BEAR.

_Of a goldsmith of Paris who made a waggoner sleep with him and his
wife, and how the waggoner dallied with her from behind, which the
goldsmith perceived and discovered, and of the words which he spake to
the waggoner._


STORY THE EIGHTH -- TIT FOR TAT.

_Of a youth of Picardy who lived at Brussels, and made his master’s
daughter pregnant, and for that cause left and came back to Picardy to
be married. And soon after his departure the girl’s mother perceived the
condition of her daughter, and the girl confessed in what state she was;
so her mother sent her to the Picardian to tell him that he must undo
that which he had done. And how his new bride refused then to sleep with
him, and of the story she told him, whereupon he immediately left her
and returned to his first love, and married her._


STORY THE NINTH -- THE HUSBAND PANDAR TO HIS OWN WIFE.

_Of a knight of Burgundy, who was marvellously amorous of one of his
wife’s waiting women, and thinking to sleep with her, slept with his
wife who was in the bed of the said tire-woman. And how he caused, by
his order, another knight, his neighbour to sleep with the said woman,
believing that it was really the tirewoman--and afterwards he was not
well pleased, albeit that the lady knew nothing, and was not aware, I
believe, that she had had to do with aught other than her own husband._


STORY THE TENTH -- THE EEL PASTIES.

_Of a knight of England, who, after he was married, wished his mignon to
procuré him some pretty girls, as he did before; which the mignon would
not do, saying that one wife sufficed; but the said knight brought him
back to obedience by causing eel pasties to be always served to him,
both at dinner and at supper._


STORY THE ELEVENTH -- A SACRIFICE TO THE DEVIL.

_Of a jealous rogue, who after many offerings made to divers saints to
curé him of his jealousy, offered a candle to the devil who is usually
painted under the feet of St. Michael; and of the dream that he had and
what happened to him when he awoke._


STORY THE TWELFTH -- THE CALF.

_Of a Dutchman, who at all hours of the day and night ceased not to
dally with his wife in love sports; and how it chanced that he laid her
down, as they went through a wood, under a great tree in which was a
labourer who had lost his calf. And as he was enumerating the charms of
his wife, and naming all the pretty things he could see, the labourer
asked him if he could not see the calf he sought, to which the Dutchman
replied that he thought he could see a tail._


STORY THE THIRTEENTH -- THE CASTRATED CLERK.

_How a lawyer’s clerk in England deceived his master making him believe
that he had no testicles, by which reason he had charge over his
mistress both in the country and in the town, and enjoyed his pleasure._


STORY THE FOURTEENTH -- THE POPE-MAKER, OR THE HOLY MAN.

_Of a hermit who deceived the daughter of a poor woman, making her
believe that her daughter should have a son by him who should become
Pope; and how, when she brought forth it was a girl, and thus was the
trickery of the hermit discovered, and for that cause he had to flee
from that countery._


STORY THE FIFTEENTH -- THE CLEVER NUN.

_Of a nun whom a monk wished to deceive, and how he offered to shoo her
his weapon that she might feel it, but brought with him a companion whom
he put forward in his place, and of the answer she gave him._


STORY THE SIXTEENTH -- ON THE BLIND SIDE.

_Of a knight of Picardy who went to Prussia, and, meanwhile his lady
took a lover, and was in bed with him when her husband returned; and how
by a cunning trick she got her lover out of the room without the knight
being aware of it._


STORY THE SEVENTEENTH -- THE LAWYER AND THE BOLTING-MILL.

_Of a President of Parliament, who fell in love with his chamber-maid,
and would have forced her whilst she was sifting flour, but by fair
speaking she dissuaded him, and made him shake the sieve whilst she
went unto her mistress, who came and found her husband thus, as you will
afterwards hear._


STORY THE EIGHTEENTH -- FROM BELLY TO BACK.

_Of a gentleman of Burgundy who paid a chambermaid ten crowns to sleep
with her, but before he left her room, had his ten crowns back, and
made her carry him on her shoulders through the host’s chamber. And in
passing by the said chamber he let wind so loudly that all was known, as
you will hear in the story which follows._


STORY THE NINETEENTH -- THE CHILD OF THE SNOW.

_Of an English merchant whose wife had a child in his absence, and told
him that it was his; and how he cleverly got rid of the child--for his
wife having asserted that it was born of the snow, he declared it had
been melted by the sun._


STORY THE TWENTIETH -- THE HUSBAND AS DOCTOR.

_Of a young squire of Champagne who, when he married, had never mounted
a Christian creature,--much to his wife’s regret. And of the method her
mother found to instruct him, and how the said squire suddenly wept at
a great feast that was made shortly after he had learned how to perform
the carnal act--as you will hear more plainly hereafter._


STORY THE TWENTY-FIRST -- THE ABBESS CURED

_Of an abbess who was ill for want of--you know what--but would not have
it done, fearing to be reproached by her nuns, but they all agreed to do
the same and most willingly did so._


STORY THE TWENTY-SECOND -- THE CHILD WITH TWO FATHERS.

_Of a gentleman who seduced a young girl, and then went away and joined
the army. And before his return she made the acquaintance of another,
and pretended her child was by him. When the gentleman returned from the
war he claimed the child, but she begged him to leave it with her second
lover, promising that the next she had she would give to him, as is
hereafter recorded._


STORY THE TWENTY-THIRD -- THE LAWYER’S WIFE WHO PASSED THE LINE.

_Of a clerk of whom his mistress was enamoured, and what he promised to
do and did to her if she crossed a line which the said clerk had made.
Seeing which, her little son told his father when he returned that he
must not cross the line; or said he, “the clerk will serve you as he did
mother.”_


STORY THE TWENTY-FOURTH -- HALF-BOOTED.

_Of a Count who would ravish by force a fair, young girl who was one of
his subjects, and how she escaped from him by means of his leggings,
and how he overlooked her conduct and helped her to a husband, as is
hereafter related._


STORY THE TWENTY-FIFTH -- FORCED WILLINGLY.

_Of a girl who complained of being forced by a young man, whereas
she herself had helped him to find that which he sought;--and of the
judgment which was given thereon._


STORY THE TWENTY-SIXTH --THE DAMSEL KNIGHT.

_Of the loves of a young gentleman and a damsel, who tested the loyalty
of the gentleman in a marvellous and courteous manner, and slept three
nights with him without his knowing that it was not a man,--as you will
more fully hear hereafter._


STORY THE TWENTY-SEVENTH -- THE HUSBAND IN THE CLOTHES-CHEST.

_Of a great lord of this kingdom and a married lady, who in order
that she might be with her lover caused her husband to be shut in a
clothes-chest by her waiting women, and kept him there all the night,
whilst she passed the time with her lover; and of the wagers made
between her and the said husband, as you will find afterwards recorded._


STORY THE TWENTY-EIGHTH --THE INCAPABLE LOVER.

_Of the meeting assigned to a great Prince of this kingdom by a damsel
who was chamber-woman to the Queen; of the little feats of arms of the
said Prince and of the neat replies made by the said damsel to the Queen
concerning her greyhound which had been purposely shut out of the room
of the said Queen, as you shall shortly hear._


STORY THE TWENTY-NINTH -- THE COW AND THE CALF.

_Of a gentleman to whom--the first night that he was married, and after
he had but tried one stroke--his wife brought forth a child, and of
the manner in which he took it,--and of the speech that he made to his
companions when they brought him the caudle, as you shall shortly hear._


STORY THE THIRTIETH -- THE THREE CORDELIERS.

_Of three merchants of Savoy who went on a pilgrimage to St. Anthony
in Vienne, and who were deceived and cuckolded by three Cordeliers who
slept with their wives. And how the women thought they had been with
their husbands, and how their husbands came to know of it, and of the
steps they took, as you shall shortly hear._


STORY THE THIRTY-FIRST -- TWO LOVERS FOR ONE LADY.

_Of a squire who found the mule of his companion, and mounted thereon
and it took him to the house of his master’s mistress; and the squire
slept there, where his friend found him; also of the words which passed
between them--as is more clearly set out below._


STORY THE THIRTY-SECOND -- THE WOMEN WHO PAID TITHE.

_Of the Cordeliers of Ostelleria in Catalonia, who took tithe from the
women of the town, and how it was known, and the punishment the lord of
that place and his subjects inflicted on the monks, as you shall learn
hereafter._


STORY THE THIRTY-THIRD -- THE LADY WHO LOST HER HAIR.

Of a noble lord who was in love with a damsel who cared for another
great lord, but tried to keep it secret; and of the agreement made
between the two lovers concerning her, as you shall hereafter hear.


STORY THE THIRTY-FOURTH -- THE MAN ABOVE AND THE MAN BELOW.

_Of a married woman who gave rendezvous to two lovers, who came and
visited her, and her husband came soon after, and of the words which
passed between them, as you shall presently hear._


STORY THE THIRTY-FIFTH -- THE EXCHANGE.

_Of a knight whose mistress married whilst he was on his travels, and on
his return, by chance he came to her house, and she, in order that she
might sleep with him, caused a young damsel, her chamber-maid, to go to
bed with her husband; and of the words that passed between the husband
and the knight his guest, as are more fully recorded hereafter._


STORY THE THIRTY-SIXTH -- AT WORK.

_Of a squire who saw his mistress, whom he greatly loved, between
two other gentlemern, and did not notice that she had hold of both of
them till another knight informed him of the matter as you will hear._


STORY THE THIRTY-SEVENTH -- THE USE OF DIRTY WATER.

_Of a jealous man who recorded all the tricks which he could hear or
learn by which wives had deceived their husbands in old times; but at
last he was deceived by means of dirty water which the lover of the said
lady threw out of window upon her as she was going to Mass, as you shall
hear hereafter._


STORY THE THIRTY-EIGHTH -- A ROD FOR ANOTHER’S BACK.

_Of a citizen of Tours who bought a lamprey which he sent to his wife
to cook in order that he might give a feast to the priest, and the said
wife sent it to a Cordelier, who was her lover, and how she made a woman
who was her neighbour sleep with her husband, and how the woman was
beaten, and what the wife made her husband believe, as you will hear
hereafter._


STORY THE THIRTY-NINTH -- BOTH WELL SERVED.

_Of a knight who, whilst he was waiting for his mistress amused himself
three times with her maid, who had been sent to keep him company that
he might not be dull; and afterwards amused himself three times with
the lady, and how the husband learned it all from the maid, as you will
hear._


STORY THE FORTIETH -- THE BUTCHER’S WIFE WHO PLAYED THE GHOST IN THE
CHIMNEY.

_Of a Jacobin who left his mistress, a butcher’s wife, for another woman
who was younger and prettier, and how the said butcher’s wife tried to
enter his house by the chimney._


STORY THE FORTY-FIRST -- LOVE IN ARMS.

_Of a knight who made his wife wear a hauberk whenever he would do you
know what; and of a clerk who taught her another method which she almost
told her husband, but turned it off suddenly._


STORY THE FORTY-SECOND -- THE MARRIED PRIEST.

_Of a village clerk who being at Rome and believing that his wife was
dead became a priest, and was appointed curé of his own town, and when
he returned, the first person he met was his wife._


STORY THE FORTY-THIRD -- A BARGAIN IN HORNS.

_Of a labourer who found a man with his wife, and forwent his revenge
for a certain quantity of wheat, but his wife insisted that he should
complete the work he had begun._


STORY THE FORTY-FOURTH --THE MATCH-MAKING PRIEST.

_Of a village priest who found a husband for a girl with whom he was in
love, and who had promised him that when she was married she would do
whatever he wished, of which he reminded her on the wedding-day, and the
husband heard it, and took steps accordingly, as you will hear._


STORY THE FORTY-FIFTH -- THE SCOTSMAN TURNED WASHERWOMAN

_Of a young Scotsman who was disguised as a woman for the space of
fourteen years, and by that means slept with many girls and married
women, but was punished in the end, as you will hear._


STORY THE FORTY-SIXTH -- HOW THE NUN PAID FOR THE PEARS.

_Of a Jacobin and a nun, who went secretly to an orchard to enjoy
pleasant pastime under a pear-tree; in which tree was hidden one who
knew of the assignation, and who spoiled their sport for that time, as
you will hear._


STORY THE FORTY-SEVENTH --TWO MULES DROWNED TOGETHER.

_Of a President who knowing of the immoral conduct of his wife, caused
her to be drowned by her mule, which had been kept without drink for a
week, and given salt to eat--as is more clearly related hereafter._


STORY THE FORTY-EIGHTH -- THE CHASTE MOUTH.

_Of a woman who would not suffer herself to be kissed, though she
willingly gave up all the rest of her body except the mouth, to her
lover--and the reason that she gave for this._


STORY THE FORTY-NINTH --THE SCARLET BACKSIDE.

_Of one who saw his wife with a man to whom she gave the whole of her
body, except her backside, which she left for her husband and he made
her dress one day when his friends were present in a woollen gown on the
backside of which was a piece of fine scarlet, and so left her before
all their friends._


STORY THE FIFTIETH -- TIT FOR TAT.

_Of a father who tried to kill his son because the young man wanted to
lie with his grandmother, and the reply made by the said son._


STORY THE FIFTY-FIRST -- THE REAL FATHERS.

_Of a woman who on her death-bed, in the absence of her husband, made
over her children to those to whom they belonged, and how one of the
youngest of the children informed his father._


STORY THE FIFTY-SECOND -- THE THREE REMINDERS.

_Of three counsels that a father when on his deathbed gave his son, but
to which the son paid no heed. And how he renounced a young girl he had
married, because he saw her lying with the family chaplain the first
night after their wedding._


STORY THE FIFTY-THIRD -- THE MUDDLED MARRIAGES.

_Of two men and two women who were waiting to be married at the first
Mass in the early morning; and because the priest could not see well, he
took the one for the other, and gave to each man the wrong wife, as you
will hear._


STORY THE FIFTY FOURTH -- THE RIGHT MOMENT.

_Of a damsel of Maubeuge who gave herself up to a waggoner, and refused
many noble lovers; and of the reply that she made to a noble knight
because he reproached her for this--as you will hear._


STORY THE FIFTY-FIFTH -- A CURÉ FOR THE PLAGUE.

_Of a girl who was ill of the plague and caused the death of three men
who lay with her, and how the fourth was saved, and she also._


STORY THE FIFTY-SIXTH -- THE WOMAN, THE PRIEST, THE SERVANT, AND THE
WOLF.

_Of a gentleman who caught, in a trap that he laid, his wife, the
priest, her maid, and a wolf; and burned them all alive, because his
wife committed adultery with the priest._


STORY THE FIFTY-SEVENTH -- THE OBLIGING BROTHER.

_Of a damsel who married a shepherd, and how the marriage was arranged,
and what a gentleman, the brother of the damsel, said._


STORY THE FIFTY-EIGHTH -- SCORN FOR SCORN.

_Of two comrades who wished to make their mistresses better inclined
towards them, and so indulged in debauchery, and said, that as after
that their mistresses still scorned them, that they too must have played
at the same game--as you will hear._


STORY THE FIFTY-NINTH -- THE SICK LOVER.

_Of a lord who pretended to be sick in order that he might lie with the
servant maid, with whom his wife found him._


STORY THE SIXTIETH -- THREE VERY MINOR BROTHERS.

_Of three women of Malines, who were acquainted with three cordeliers,
and had their heads shaved, and donned the gown that they might not be
recognised, and how it was made known._


STORY THE SIXTY-FIRST -- CUCKOLDED--AND DUPED.

_Of a merchant who locked up in a bin his wife’s lover, and she secretly
put an ass there which caused her husband to be covered with confusion._


STORY THE SIXTY-SECOND -- THE LOST RING.

_Of two friends, one of whom left a diamond in the bed of his hostess,
where the other found it, from which there arose a great discussion
between them, which the husband of the said hostess settled in an
effectual manner._


STORY THE SIXTY-THIRD -- MONTBLERU; OR THE THIEF.

_Of one named Montbleru, who at a fair at Antwerp stole from his
companions their shirts and handkerchiefs, which they had given to the
servant-maid of their hostess to be washed; and how afterwards they
pardoned the thief, and then the said Montbleru told them the whole of
the story._


STORY THE SIXTY-FOURTH -- THE OVER-CUNNING CURÉ.

_Of a priest who would have played a joke upon a gelder named
Trenche-couille, but, by the connivance of his host, was himself
castrated._


STORY THE SIXTY-FIFTH -- INDISCRETION REPROVED, BUT NOT PUNISHED.

_Of a woman who heard her husband say that an innkeeper at Mont St.
Michel was excellent at copulating, so went there, hoping to try for
herself, but her husband took means to prevent it, at which she was much
displeased, as you will hear shortly._


STORY THE SIXTY-SIXTH -- THE WOMAN AT THE BATH.

_Of an inn-keeper at Saint Omer who put to his son a question for which
he was afterwards sorry when he heard the reply, at which his wife was
much ashamed, as you will hear, later._


STORY THE SIXTY-SEVENTH -- THE WOMAN WITH THREE HUSBANDS

_Of a “fur hat” of Paris, who wished to deceive a cobbler’s wife, but
over-reached, himself, for he married her to a barber, and thinking that
he was rid of her, would have wedded another, but she prevented him, as
you will hear more plainly hereafter._


STORY THE SIXTY-EIGHTH -- THE JADE DESPOILED.

_Of a married man who found his wife with another man, and devised
means to get from her her money, clothes, jewels, and all, down to
her chemise, and then sent her away in that condition, as shall be
afterwards recorded._


STORY THE SIXTY-NINTH -- THE VIRTUOUS LADY WITH TWO HUSBANDS.

_Of a noble knight of Flanders, who was married to a beautiful and noble
lady. He was for many years a prisoner in Turkey, during which time his
good and loving wife was, by the importunities of her friends, induced
to marry another knight. Soon after she had remarried, she heard that
her husband had returned from Turkey, whereupon she allowed herself to
die of grief, because she had contracted a fresh marriage._


STORY THE SEVENTIETH -- THE DEVIL’S HORN.

_Of a noble knight of Germany, a great traveller in his time; who after
he had made a certain voyage, took a vow to never make the sign of
the Cross, owing to the firm faith and belief that he had in the holy
sacrament of baptism--in which faith he fought the devil, as you will
hear._


STORY THE SEVENTY-FIRST -- THE CONSIDERATE CUCKOLD

_Of a knight of Picardy, who lodged at an inn in the town of St. Omer,
and fell in lave with the hostess, with whom he was amusing himself--you
know how--when her husband discovered them; and how he behaved--as you
will shortly hear._


STORY THE SEVENTY-SECOND -- NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION.

_Of a gentleman of Picardy who was enamoured of the wife of a knight his
neighbour; and how he obtained the lady’s favours and was nearly caught
with her, and with great difficulty made his escape, as you will hear
later._


STORY THE SEVENTY-THIRD -- THE BIRD IN THE CAGE.

_Of a curé who was in love with the wife of one of his parishioners,
with whom the said curé was found by the husband of the woman, the
neighbours having given him warning--and how the curé escaped, as you
will hear._


STORY THE SEVENTY-FOURTH -- THE OBSEQUIOUS PRIEST.

_Of a priest of Boulogne who twice raised the body of Our Lord whilst
chanting a Mass, because he believed that the Seneschal of Boulogne
had come late to the Mass, and how he refused to take the Pax until the
Seneschal had done so, as you will hear hereafter._


STORY THE SEVENTY-FIFTH -- THE BAGPIPE.

_Of a hare-brained half-mad fellow who ran a great risk of being put
to death by being hanged on a gibbet in order to injure and annoy the
Bailly, justices, and other notables of the city of Troyes in Champagne
by whom he was mortally hated, as will appear more plainly hereafter._


STORY THE SEVENTY-SIXTH -- CAUGHT IN THE ACT.

_Of the chaplain to a knight of Burgundy who was enamoured of the wench
of the said knight, and of the adventure which happened on account of
his amour, as you will hear below._


STORY THE SEVENTY-SEVENTH -- THE SLEEVELESS ROBE.

_Of a gentleman of Flanders, who went to reside in France, but whilst he
was there his mother was very ill in Flanders; and how he often went
to visit her believing that she would die, and what he said and how he
behaved, as you will hear later._


STORY THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH -- THE HUSBAND TURNED CONFESSOR.

_Of a married gentleman who made many long voyages, during which time his
good and virtuous wife made the acquaintance of three good fellows, as
you will hear; and how she confessed her amours to her husband when he
returned from his travels, thinking she was confessing to the curé, and
how she excused herself, as will appear._


STORY THE SEVENTY-NINTH -- THE LOST ASS FOUND.

_Of a good man of Bourbonnais who went to seek the advice of a wise man
of that place about an ass that he had lost, and how he believed that he
miraculously recovered the said ass, as you will hear hereafter._


STORY THE EIGHTIETH -- GOOD MEASURE!

_Of a young German girl, aged fifteen or sixteen or thereabouts who was
married to a gentle gallant, and who complained that her husband had too
small an organ for her liking, because she had seen a young ass of only
six months old which had a bigger instrument than her husband, who was
24 or 26 years old._


STORY THE EIGHTY-FIRST -- BETWEEN TWO STOOLS.

_Of a noble knight who was in love with a beautiful young married lady,
and thought himself in her good graces, and also in those of another
lady, her neighbour; but lost both as is afterwards recorded._


STORY THE EIGHTY-SECOND -- BEYOND THE MARK.

_Of a shepherd who made an agreement with a shepherdess that he should
mount upon her “in order that he might see farther,” but was not to
penetrate beyond a mark which she herself made with her hand upon the
instrument of the said shepherd--as will more plainly appear hereafter._


STORY THE EIGHTY-THIRD -- THE GLUTTONOUS MONK.

_Of a Carmelite monk who came to preach at a village and after his
sermon, he went to dine with a lady, and how he stuffed out his gown, as
you will hear._


STORY THE EIGHTY-FOURTH -- THE DEVIL’S SHARE.

_Of one of his marshals who married the sweetest and most lovable woman
there was in all Germany. Whether what I tell you is true--for I do
not swear to it that I may not be considered a liar--you will see more
plainly below._


STORY THE EIGHTY-FIFTH -- NAILED!

_Of a goldsmith, married to a fair, kind, and gracious lady, and very
amorous withal of a curé, her neighbour, with whom her husband found her
in bed, they being betrayed by one of the goldsmith’s servants, who was
jealous, as you will hear._


STORY THE EIGHTY-SIXTH -- FOOLISH PEAR.

_Of a young man of Rouen, married to a fair, young girl of the age of
fifteen or thereabouts; and how the mother of the girl wished to have
the marriage annulled by the Judge of Rouen, and of the sentence which
the said Judge pronounced when he had heard the parties--as you will
hear more plainly in the course of the said story._


STORY THE EIGHTY-SEVENTH -- WHAT THE EYE DOES NOT SEE.

_Of a gentle knight who was enamoured of a young and beautiful girl,
and how he caught a malady in one of his eyes, and therefore sent for a
doctor, who likewise fell in love with the same girl, as you will
hear; and of the words which passed between the knight and the doctor
concerning the plaster which the doctor had put on the knight’s good
eye._


STORY THE EIGHTY-EIGHTH -- A HUSBAND IN HIDING.

_Of a poor, simple peasant married to a nice, pleasant woman, who did
much as she liked, and who in order that she might be alone with her
lover, shut up her husband in the pigeon-house in the manner you will
hear._


STORY THE EIGHTY-NINTH -- THE FAULT OF THE ALMANAC.

_Of a curé who forgot, either by negligence or ignorance, to inform his
parishioners that Lent had come until Palm Sunday arrived, as you
will hear--and of the manner in which he excused himself to his
parishioners._


STORY THE NINETIETH -- A GOOD REMEDY.

_Of a good merchant of Brabant whose wife was very ill, and he supposing
that she was about to die, after many remonstrances and exhortations for
the salvation of her soul, asked her pardon, and she pardoned him all
his misdeeds, excepting that he had not worked her as much as he ought
to have done--as will appear more plainly in the said story._


STORY THE NINETY-FIRST -- THE OBEDIENT WIFE.

_ Of a man who was married to a woman so lascivious and lickerish, that
I believe she must have been born in a stove or half a league from the
summer sun, for no man, however well he might work, could satisfy her;
and how her husband thought to punish her, and the answer she gave him._


STORY THE NINETY-SECOND -- WOMEN’S QUARRELS.

_Of a married woman who was in love with a Canon, and, to avoid
suspicion, took with her one of her neighbours when she went to visit
the Canon; and of the quarrel that arose between the two women, as you
will hear._


STORY THE NINETY-THIRD -- HOW A GOOD WIFE WENT ON A PILGRIMAGE.

_Of a good wife who pretended to her husband that she was going on
a pilgrimage, in order to find opportunity to be with her lover the
parish-clerk--with whom her husband found her; and of what he said and
did when he saw them doing you know what._


STORY THE NINETY-FOURTH -- DIFFICULT TO PLEASE.

_Of a curé who wore a short gown, like a gallant about to be married,
for which cause he was summoned before the Ordinary, and of the sentence
which was passed, and the defence he made, and the other tricks he
played afterwards--as you will plainly hear._


STORY THE NINETY-FIFTH -- THE SORE FINGER CURED.

_Of a monk who feigned to be very ill and in danger of death, that he
might obtain the favours of a certain young woman in the manner which is
described hereafter._


STORY THE NINETY-SIXTH -- A GOOD DOG.

_Of a foolish and rich village curé who buried his dog in the
church-yard; for which cause he was summoned before his Bishop, ana
how he gave 60 gold crowns to the Bishop, and what the Bishop said to
him--which you will find related here._


STORY THE NINETY-SEVENTH -- BIDS AND BIDDINGS.

_Of a number of boon companions making good cheer and drinking at
a tavern, and how one of them had a quarrel with his wife when he
returned home, as you will hear._


STORY THE NINETY-EIGHTH -- THE UNFORTUNATE LOVERS.

_Of a knight of this kingdom and his wife, who had a fair daughter aged
fifteen or sixteen. Her father would have married her to a rich old
knight, his neighbour, but she ran away with another knight, a young
man who loved her honourably; and, by strange mishap, they both died sad
deaths without having ever co-habited,--as you will hear shortly._


STORY THE NINETY-NINTH -- THE METAMORPHOSIS.

_Relates how a Spanish Bishop, not being able to procure fish, ate
two partridges on a Friday, and how he told his servants that he had
converted them by his prayers into fish--as will more plainly be related
below._


STORY THE HUNDREDTH AND LAST -- THE CHASTE LOVER.

_Of a rich merchant of the city of Genoa, who married a fair damsel,
who owing to the absence of her husband, sent for a wise clerk--a young,
fit, and proper man--to help her to that of which she had need; and
of the fast that he caused her to make--as you will find more plainly
below._



[Illustration: contents.jpg  Contents]


[Illustration: intro.jpg  Introduction]


*****



INTRODUCTION

The highest living authority on French Literature--Professor George
Saintsbury--has said:

“The _Cent Nouvelles_ is undoubtedly the first work of literary prose in
French, and the first, moreover, of a long and most remarkable series of
literary works in which French writers may challenge all comers with the
certainty of victory. The short prose tale of a comic character is the
one French literary product the pre-eminence and perfection of which it
is impossible to dispute, and the prose tale first appears to advantage
in the _Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles_. The subjects are by no means new.
They are simply the old themes of the _fabliaux_ treated in the old way.
The novelty is in the application of prose to such a purpose, and in the
crispness, the fluency, and the elegance, of the prose used.”

Besides the literary merits which the eminent critic has pointed out,
the stories give us curious glimpses of life in the 15th Century. We get
a genuine view of the social condition of the nobility and the middle
classes, and are pleasantly surprised to learn from the mouths of the
nobles themselves that the peasant was not the down-trodden serf that we
should have expected to find him a century after the Jacquerie, and 350
years before the Revolution.

In fact there is an atmosphere of tolerance, not to say _bonhommie_
about these stories which is very remarkable when we consider under what
circumstances they were told, and by whom, and to whom.

This seems to have struck M. Lenient, a French critic, who says:

“Generally the incidents and personages belong to the _bourgeoisée_;
there is nothing chivalric, nothing wonderful; no dreamy lovers,
romantic dames, fairies, or enchanters. Noble dames, bourgeois, nuns,
knights, merchants, monks, and peasants mutually dupe each other. The
lord deceives the miller’s wife by imposing on her simplicity, and the
miller retaliates in much the same manner. The shepherd marries the
knight’s sister, and the nobleman is not over scandalized.

“The vices of the monks are depicted in half a score tales, and the
seducers are punished with a severity not always in proportion to the
offence.”

It seems curious that this valuable and interesting work has never
before been translated into English during the four and a half centuries
the book has been in existence. This is the more remarkable as the work
was edited in French by an English scholar--the late Thomas Wright. It
can hardly be the coarseness of some of the stories which has prevented
the _Nouvelles_ from being presented to English readers when there are
half a dozen versions of the _Heptameron_, which is quite as coarse as
the _Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles_, does not possess the same historical
interest, and is not to be compared to the present work as regards
either the stories or the style.

In addition to this, there is the history of the book itself, and
its connection with one of the most important personages in French
history--Louis XI. Indeed, in many French and English works of
reference, the authorship of the _Nouvelles_ has been attributed to him,
and though in recent years, the writer is now believed--and no doubt
correctly--to have been Antoine de la Salle, it is tolerably certain
that Prince Louis heard all the stories related, and very possibly
contributed several of them. The circumstances under which these stories
came to be narrated requires a few words of explanation.

At a very early age, Louis showed those qualities by which he was later
distinguished. When he was only fourteen, he caused his father, Charles
VII, much grief, both by his unfilial conduct and his behaviour to the
beautiful Agnes Sorel, the King’s mistress, towards whom he felt an
implacable hatred. He is said to have slapped her face, because he
thought she did not treat him with proper respect. This blow was, it is
asserted, the primary cause of his revolt against his father’s authority
(1440). The rebellion was put down, and the Prince was pardoned, but
relations between father and son were still strained, and in 1446, Louis
had to betake himself to his appanage of Dauphiné, where he remained
for ten years, always plotting and scheming, and braving his father’s
authority.

At length the Prince’s Court at Grenoble became the seat of so many
conspiracies that Charles VII was obliged to take forcible measures.
It was small wonder that the King’s patience was exhausted. Louis, not
content with the rule of his province, had made attempts to win over
many of the nobility, and to bribe the archers of the Scotch Guard.
Though not liberal as a rule, he had also expended large sums to
different secret agents for some specific purpose, which was in all
probability to secure his father’s death, for he was not the sort of man
to stick at parricide even, if it would secure his ends.

The plot was revealed to Charles by Antoine de Chabannes, Comte de
Dampmartin. Louis, when taxed with his misconduct, impudently denied
that he had been mixed up with the conspiracy, but denounced all his
accomplices, and allowed them to suffer for his misdeeds. He did not,
however, forget to revenge them, so far as lay in his power. The fair
Agnès Sorel, whom he had always regarded as his bitterest enemy, died
shortly afterwards at Jumièges, and it has always been believed, and
with great show of reason, that she was poisoned by his orders. He was
not able to take vengeance on Antoine de Chabannes until after he became
King.

Finding that his plots were of no avail, he essayed to get together
an army large enough to combat his father, but before he completed his
plans, Charles VII, tired of his endless treason and trickery, sent an
army, under the faithful de Chabannes, into the Dauphiné, with orders to
arrest the Dauphin.

The forces which Louis had at his disposal were numerically so much
weaker, that he did not dare to risk a battle.

“If God or fortune,” he cried, “had been kind enough to give me but half
the men-at-arms which now belong to the King, my father, and will be
mine some day, by Our Lady, my mistress, I would have spared him the
trouble of coming so far to seek me, but would have met him and fought
him at Lyon.”

Not having sufficient forces, and feeling that he could not hope for
fresh pardon, he resolved to fly from France, and take refuge at the
Court of the Duke of Burgundy.

One day in June, 1456, he pretended to go hunting, and then, attended
by only half a dozen friends, rode as fast as he could into Burgundian
territory, and arrived at Saint Claude.

From there he wrote to his father, excusing his flight, and announcing
his intention of joining an expedition which Philippe le Bon, the
reigning Duke of Burgundy was about to undertake against the Turks. The
Duke was at that moment besieging Utrecht, but as soon as he heard the
Dauphin had arrived in his dominions, he sent orders that he was to
be conducted to Brussels with all the honours befitting his rank and
station.

Shortly afterwards the Duke returned, and listened with real or
pretended sympathy to all the complaints that Louis made against
his father, but put a damper on any hopes that the Prince may have
entertained of getting the Burgundian forces to support his cause, by
saying;

“Monseigneur, you are welcome to my domains. I am happy to see you here.
I will provide you with men and money for any purpose you may require,
except to be employed against the King, your father, whom I would on no
account displease.”

Duke Philippe even tried to bring about a reconciliation between Charles
and his son; but as Louis was not very anxious to return to France, nor
Charles to have him there, and a good many of the nobles were far from
desiring that the Prince should come back, the negotiations came to
nothing.

Louis could make himself agreeable when he pleased, and during his stay
in the Duke’s domains, he was on good terms with Philippe le Bon, who
granted him 3000 gold florins a month, and the castle of Genappe as a
residence. This castle was situated on the Dyle, midway between Brussels
and Louvain, and about eight miles from either city. The river, or a
deep moat, surrounded the castle on every side. There was a drawbridge
which was drawn up at night, so Louis felt himself quite safe from any
attack.

Here he remained five years (1456-1461) until the death of his father
placed him on the throne of France.

It was during these five years that these stories were told to amuse his
leisure. Probably there were many more than a hundred narrated--perhaps
several hundreds--but the literary man who afterwards “edited” the
stories only selected those which he deemed best, or, perhaps, those he
heard recounted. The narrators were the nobles who formed the Dauphin’s
Court. Much ink has been spilled over the question whether Louis himself
had any share in the production. In nearly every case the author’s name
is given, and ten of them (Nos. 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 29, 33, 69, 70 and
71) are described in the original edition as being by “Monseigneur.”
 Publishers of subsequent editions brought out at the close of the 15th,
or the beginning of the 16th, Century, jumped to the conclusion that
“Monseigneur” was really the Dauphin, who not only contributed largely
to the book, but after he became King personally supervised the
publication of the collected stories.

For four centuries Louis XI was credited with the authorship of the
tales mentioned. The first person--so far as I am aware--to throw any
doubt on his claim was the late Mr. Thomas Wright, who edited an edition
of the _Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles_, published by Jannet, Paris, 1858. He
maintained, with some show of reason, that as the stories were told in
Burgundy, by Burgundians, and the collected tales were “edited” by a
subject of the Duke (Antoine de la Salle, of whom I shall have occasion
to speak shortly) it was more probable that “Monseigneur” would mean the
Duke than the Dauphin, and he therefore ascribed the stories to Philippe
le Bel. Modern French scholars, however, appear to be of opinion that
“Monseigneur” was the Comte de Charolais, who afterwards became famous
as Charles le Téméraire, the last Duke of Burgundy.

The two great enemies were at that time close friends, and Charles was a
very frequent visitor to Genappe. It was not very likely, they say, that
Duke Philippe who was an old man would have bothered himself to tell
his guest indecent stories. On the other hand, Charles, being then only
Comte de Charolais, had no right to the title of “Monseigneur,” but they
parry that difficulty by supposing that as he became Duke before
the tales were printed, the title was given him in the first printed
edition.

The matter is one which will, perhaps, never be satisfactorily settled.
My own opinion--though I claim for it no weight or value--is that Louis
appears to have the greatest right to the stories, though in support of
that theory I can only adduce some arguments, which if separately weak
may have some weight when taken collectively. Vérard, who published
the first edition, says in the Dedication; “Et notez que par toutes les
Nouvelles où il est dit par Monseigneur il est entendu par Monseigneur
le Dauphin, lequel depuis a succédé à la couronne et est le roy Loys
unsieme; car il estoit lors es pays du duc de Bourgoingne.”

The critics may have good reason for throwing doubt on Vérard’s
statement, but unless he printed his edition from a M.S. made after
1467, and the copyist had altered the name of the Comte de Charolais to
“Monseigneur” it is not easy to see how the error arose, whilst on the
other hand, as Vérard had every facility for knowing the truth, and some
of the copies must have been purchased by persons who were present when
the stories were told, the mistake would have been rectified in the
subsequent editions that Vérard brought out in the course of the next
few years, when Louis had been long dead and there was no necessity to
flatter his vanity.

On examining the stories related by “Monseigneur,” it seems to me that
there is some slight internal evidence that they were told by Louis.

Brantôme says of him that, “he loved to hear tales of loose women,
and had but a poor opinion of woman and did not believe they were all
chaste. (This sounds well coming from Brantôme) Anyone who could relate
such tales was gladly welcomed by the Prince, who would have given all
Homer and Virgil too for a funny story.” The Prince must have heard many
such stories, and would be likely to repeat them, and we find the
first half dozen stories are decidedly “broad,” (No XI was afterwards
appropriated by Rabelais, as “Hans Carvel’s Ring”) and we may suspect
that Louis tried to show the different narrators by personal example
what he considered a really “good tale.”

We know also Louis was subject to fits of religious melancholy, and
evinced a superstitious veneration for holy things, and even wore
little, leaden images of the saints round his hat. In many of the
stories we find monks punished for their immorality, or laughed at
for their ignorance, and nowhere do we see any particular veneration
displayed for the Church. The only exception is No LXX, “The Devil’s
Horn,” in which a knight by sheer faith in the mystery of baptism
vanquishes the Devil, whereas one of the knight’s retainers, armed
with a battle-axe but not possessing his master’s robust faith in the
efficacy of holy water, is carried off bodily, and never heard of again.
It seems to me that this story bears the stamp of the character of
Louis, who though suspicious towards men, was childishly credulous in
religious matters, but I leave the question for critics more capable
than I to decide.

Of the thirty-two noblemen or squires who contributed the other stories,
mention will be made in the notes. Of the stories, I may here mention
that 14 or 15 were taken from Boccaccio, and as many more from Poggio or
other Italian writers, or French _fabliaux_, but about 70 of them appear
to be original.

The knights and squires who told the stories had probably no great skill
as _raconteurs_, and perhaps did not read or write very fluently. The
tales were written down afterwards by a literary man, and they owe “the
crispness, fluency, and elegance,” which, as Prof. Saintsbury remarks,
they possess in such a striking degree, to the genius of Antoine de la
Sale. He was born in 1398 in Burgundy or Touraine. He had travelled much
in Italy, and lived for some years at the Court of the Comte d’ Anjou.
He returned to Burgundy later, and was, apparently, given some sort
of literary employment by Duke Philippe le Bel. At any rate he was
appointed by Philippe or Louis to record the stories that enlivened the
evenings at the Castle of Genappe, and the choice could not have fallen
on a better man. He was already known as the author of two or three
books, one of which--_Les Quinze Joyes de Mariage_--relates the woes
of married life, and displays a knowledge of character, and a quaint,
satirical humour that are truly remarkable, and remind the reader
alternately of Thackeray and Douglas Jerrold,--indeed some of the
Fifteen Joys are “Curtain Lectures” with a mediaeval environment, and
the word pictures of Woman’s foibles, follies, and failings are as
bright to-day as when they were penned exactly 450 years ago. They show
that the “Eternal Feminine” has not altered in five centuries--perhaps
not in five thousand!

The practised and facile pen of Antoine de la Sale clothed the dry bones
of these stories with flesh and blood, and made them live, and move.
Considering his undoubted gifts as a humourist, and a delineator of
character it is strange that the name of Antoine de la Sale is not held
in higher veneration by his countrymen, for he was the earliest exponent
of a form of literary art in which the French have always excelled.

In making a translation of these stories I at first determined to adhere
as closely as possible to the text, but found that the versions differed
greatly. I have followed the two best modern editions, and have made as
few changes and omissions as possible.

Three or four of the stories are extremely coarse, and I hesitated
whether to omit them, insert them in the original French, or translate
them, but decided that as the book would only be read by persons of
education, respectability, and mature age, it was better to translate
them fully,--as has been done in the case of the far coarser passages of
Rabelais and other writers. This course appeared to me less hypocritical
than that adopted in a recent expensive edition of Boccaccio in which
the story of Rusticus and Alibech was given in French--with a highly
suggestive full-page illustration facing the text for the benefit of
those who could not read the French language.

ROBERT B. DOUGLAS.

Paris, 21st October 1899.


*****

     Good friends, my readers, who peruse this book,
     Be not offended, whilst on it you look:
     Denude yourselves of all deprav’d affection,
     For it contains no badness nor infection:
     ‘T is true that it brings forth to you no birth
     Of any value, but in point of mirth;
     Thinking therefore how sorrow might your mind
     Consume, I could no apter subject find;
     One inch of joy surmounts of grief a span;
     Because to laugh is proper to the man.

     (RABELAIS: _To the Readers_).


*****


[Illustration: 01.jpg Story the First -- THE REVERSE OF THE MEDAL.]



STORY THE FIRST --THE REVERSE OF THE MEDAL. [1]

By Monseigneur Le Duc

_The first story tells of how one found means to enjoy the wife of his
neighbour, whose husband he had sent away in order that he might have
her the more easily, and how the husband returning from his journey,
found his friend bathing with his wife. And not knowing who she was, he
wished to see her, but was permitted only to see her back--, and then
thought that she resembled his wife, but dared not believe it. And
thereupon left and found his wife at home, she having escaped by a
postern door, and related to her his suspicions._


In the town of Valenciennes there lived formerly a notable citizen, who
had been receiver of Hainault, who was renowned amongst all others
for his prudence and discretion, and amongst his praiseworthy virtues,
liberality was not the least, and thus it came to pass that he enjoyed
the grace of princes, lords, and other persons of good estate. And this
happy condition, Fortune granted and preserved to him to the end of his
days.

Both before and after death unloosed him from the chains of matrimony,
the good citizen mentioned in this Story, was not so badly lodged in
the said town but that many a great lord would have been content and
honoured to have such a lodging. His house faced several streets, in
one of which was a little postern door, opposite to which lived a good
comrade of his, who had a pretty wife, still young and charming.

And, as is customary, her eyes, the archers of the heart, shot so many
arrows into the said citizen, that unless he found some present remedy,
he felt his case was no less than mortal.

To more surely prevent such a fate, he found many and subtle manners of
making the good comrade, the husband of the said quean, his private and
familiar friend, so, that few of the dinners, suppers, banquets, baths,
and other such amusements took place, either in the hotel or elsewhere,
without his company. And of such favours his comrade was very proud, and
also happy.

When our citizen, who was more cunning than a fox, had gained the
good-will of his friend, little was needed to win the love of his wife,
and in a few days he had worked so much and so well that the gallant
lady was fain to hear his case, and to provide a suitable remedy
thereto. It remained but to provide time and place; and for this she
promised him that, whenever her husband lay abroad for a night, she
would advise him thereof.

The wished-for day arrived when the husband told his wife that he was
going to a chateau some three leagues distant from Valenciennes, and
charged her to look after the house and keep within doors, because his
business would not permit him to return that night.

It need not be asked if she was joyful, though she showed it not either
in word, or deed, or otherwise. Her husband had not journeyed a league
before the citizen knew that the opportunity had come.

He caused the baths to be brought forth, and the stoves to be heated,
and pasties, tarts, and hippocras, and all the rest of God’s good gifts,
to be prepared largely and magnificently.

When evening came, the postern door was unlocked, and she who was
expected entered thereby, and God knows if she was not kindly received.
I pass over all this.

Then they ascended into a chamber, and washed in a bath, by the side of
which a good supper was quickly laid and served. And God knows if they
drank often and deeply. To speak of the wines and viands would be
a waste of time, and, to cut the story short, there was plenty of
everything. In this most happy condition passed the great part of this
sweet but short night; kisses often given and often returned, until they
desired nothing but to go to bed.

Whilst they were thus making good cheer, the husband returned from his
journey, and knowing nothing of this adventure, knocked loudly at the
door of the house. And the company that was in the ante-chamber refused
him entrance until he should name his surety.

Then he gave his name loud and clear, and so his good wife and the
citizen heard him and knew him. She was so amazed to hear the voice of
her husband that her loyal heart almost failed her; and she would have
fainted, had not the good citizen and his servants comforted her.

The good citizen being calm and well advised how to act, made haste
to put her to bed, and lay close by her; and charged her well that she
should lie close to him and hide her face, so that no one could see it.
And that being done as quickly as may be, yet without too much haste,
he ordered that the door should be opened. Then his good comrade sprang
into the room, thinking to himself that there must be some mystery, else
they had not kept him out of the room. And when he saw the table laid
with wines and goodly viands, also the bath finely prepared, and the
citizen in a handsome bed, well curtained, with a second person by
his side, God knows he spoke loudly, and praised the good cheer of his
neighbour. He called him rascal, and whore-monger, and drunkard, and
many other names, which made those who were in the chamber laugh long
and loud; but his wife could not join in the mirth, her face being
pressed to the side of her new friend.

“Ha!” said the husband, “Master whore-monger, you have well hidden from
me this good cheer; but, by my faith, though I was not at the feast, you
must show me the bride.”

And with that, holding a candle in his hand, he drew near the bed, and
would have withdrawn the coverlet, under which, in fear and silence,
lay his most good and perfect wife, when the citizen and his servants
prevented him; but he was not content, and would by force, in spite of
them all, have laid his hand upon the bed.

But he was not master there, and could not have his will, and for good
cause, and was fain to be content with a most gracious proposal which
was made to him, and which was this, that he should be shown the
backside of his wife, and her haunches, and thighs--which were big and
white, and moreover fair and comely--without uncovering and beholding
her face.

The good comrade, still holding a candle in his hand, gazed for long
without saying a word; and when he did speak, it was to praise highly
the great beauty of that dame, and he swore by a great oath that he had
never seen anything that so much resembled the back parts of his own
wife, and that were he not well sure that she was at home at that time,
he would have said it was she.

She had by this somewhat recovered, and he drew back much disconcerted,
but God knows that they all told him, first one and then the other, that
he had judged wrongly, and spoken against the honour of his wife, and
that this was some other woman, as he would afterwards see for himself.

To restore him to good humour, after they had thus abused his eyes, the
citizen ordered that they should make him sit at the table, where he
drowned his suspicions by eating and drinking of what was left of the
supper, whilst they in the bed were robbing him of his honour.

The time came to leave, and he said good night to the citizen and his
companions, and begged they would let him leave by the postern door,
that he might the sooner return home. But the citizen replied that he
knew not then where to find the key; he thought also that the lock was
so rusted that they could not open the door, which they rarely if ever
used. He was content therefore to leave by the front gate, and make a
long detour to reach his house, and whilst the servants of the citizen
led him to the door, the good wife was quickly on her feet, and in a
short time, clad in a simple sark, with her corset on her arm, and come
to the postern. She made but one bound to her house, where she awaited
her husband (who came by a longer way) well-prepared as to the manner in
which she should receive him.

Soon came our man, and seeing still a light in the house, knocked at the
door loudly; and this good wife, who was pretending to clean the house,
and had a besom in her hands, asked -- what she knew well; “Who is
there?”

And he replied; “It is your husband.”

“My husband!” said she. “My husband is not here! He is not in the town!”

With that he knocked again, and cried, “Open the door! I am your
husband.”

“I know my husband well,” quoth she, “and it is not his custom to return
home so late at night, when he is in the town. Go away, and do not knock
here at this hour.”

But he knocked all the more, and called her by name once or twice. Yet
she pretended not to know him, and asked why he came at that hour, but
for all reply he said nothing but, “Open! Open!”

“Open!” said she. “What! are you still there you rascally whore-monger?
By St. Mary, I would rather see you drown than come in here! Go! and
sleep as badly as you please in the place where you came from.”

Then her good husband grew angry, and thundered against the door as
though he would knock the house down, and threatened to beat his wife,
such was his rage,--of which she had not great fear; but at length,
because of the noise he made, and that she might the better speak her
mind to him, she opened the door, and when he entered, God knows whether
he did not see an angry face, and have a warm greeting. For when her
tongue found words from a heart overcharged with anger and indignation,
her language was as sharp as well-ground Guingant razors.

And, amongst other things, she reproached him that he had wickedly
pretended a journey in order that he might try her, and that he was a
coward and a recreant, unworthy to have such a wife as she was.

Our good comrade, though he had been angry, saw how wrong he had been,
and restrained his wrath, and the indignation that in his heart he had
conceived when he was standing outside the door was turned aside. So he
said, to excuse himself, and to satisfy his wife, that he had returned
from his journey because he had forgotten a letter concerning the object
of his going.

Pretending not to believe him, she invented more stories, and charged
him with having frequented taverns and bagnios, and other improper and
dissolute resorts, and that he behaved as no respectable man should, and
she cursed the hour in which she had made his acquaintance, and doubly
cursed the day she became his wife.

The poor man, much grieved, seeing his wife more troubled than he liked,
knew not what to say. And his suspicions being removed, he drew near
her, weeping and falling upon his knees and made the following fine
speech.

“My most dear companion, and most loyal wife, I beg and pray of you
to remove from your heart the wrath you have conceived against me, and
pardon me for all that I have done against you. I own my fault, I see
my error. I have come now from a place where they made good cheer, and
where, I am ashamed to say, I fancied I recognised you, at which I was
much displeased. And so I wrongfully and causelessly suspected you to be
other than a good woman, of which I now repent bitterly, and pray of you
to forgive me, and pardon my folly.”

The good woman, seeing her husband so contrite, showed no great anger.

“What?” said she, “You have come from filthy houses of ill-fame, and you
dare to think that your honest wife would be seen in such places?”

“No, no, my dear, I know you would not. For God’s sake, say no more
about it.” said the good man, and repeated his aforesaid request.

She, seeing his contrition, ceased her reproaches, and little by little
regained her composure, and with much ado pardoned him, after he had
made a hundred thousand oaths and promises to her who had so wronged
him. And from that time forth she often, without fear or regret, passed
the said postern, nor were her escapades discovered by him who was most
concerned. And that suffices for the first story.


*****



STORY THE SECOND -- THE MONK-DOCTOR.

By Monseigneur

_The second story, related by Duke Philip, is of a young girl who had
piles, who put out the only eye he had of a Cordelier monk who was
healing her, and of the lawsuit that followed thereon._


In the chief town of England, called London, which is much resorted to
by many folks, there lived, not long ago, a rich and powerful man who
was a merchant and citizen, who beside his great wealth and treasures,
was enriched by the possession of a fair daughter, whom God had given
him over and above his substance, and who for goodness, prettiness,
and gentleness, surpassed all others of her time, and who when she was
fifteen was renowned for her virtue and beauty.

God knows that many folk of good position desired and sought for her
good grace by all the divers manners used by lovers,--which was no
small pleasure to her father and mother, and increased their ardent and
paternal affection for their beloved daughter.

But it happened that, either by the permission of God, or that Fortune
willed and ordered it so, being envious and discontented at the
prosperity of this beautiful girl, or of her parents, or all of
them,--or may be from some secret and natural cause that I leave to
doctors and philosophers to determine, that she was afflicted with an
unpleasant and dangerous disease which is commonly called piles.

The worthy family was greatly troubled when they found the fawn they so
dearly loved, set on by the sleuth-hounds and beagles of this unpleasant
disease, which had, moreover, attacked its prey in a dangerous place.
The poor girl--utterly cast down by this great misfortune,--could do
naught else than weep and sigh. Her grief-stricken mother was much
troubled; and her father, greatly vexed, wrung his hands, and tore his
hair in his rage at this fresh misfortune.

Need I say that all the pride of that household was suddenly cast down
to the ground, and in one moment converted into bitter and great grief.

The relations, friends, and neighbours of the much-enduring family came
to visit and comfort the damsel; but little or nothing might they profit
her, for the poor girl was more and more attacked and oppressed by that
disease.

Then came a matron who had much studied that disease, and she turned and
re-turned the suffering patient, this way, and that way, to her great
pain and grief, God knows, and made a medicine of a hundred thousand
sorts of herbs, but it was no good; the disease continued to get worse,
so there was no help but to send for all the doctors of the city and
round about, and for the poor girl to discover unto them her most
piteous case.

There came Master Peter, Master John, Master This, Master That--as many
doctors as you would, who all wished to see the patient together, and
uncover that portion of her body where this cursed disease, the piles
had, alas, long time concealed itself.

The poor girl, as much cast down and grieved as though she were
condemned to die, would in no wise agree or permit that her affliction
should be known; and would rather have died than shown such a secret
place to the eyes of any man.

This obstinacy though endured not long, for her father and her mother
came unto her, and remonstrated with her many times,--saying that she
might be the cause of her own death, which was no small sin; and many
other matters too long to relate here.

Finally, rather to obey her father and mother than from fear of death,
the poor girl allowed herself to be bound and laid on a couch, head
downwards, and her body so uncovered that the physicians might see
clearly the seat of the disease which troubled her.

They gave orders what was to be done, and sent apothecaries with
clysters, powders, ointments, and whatsoever else seemed good unto them;
and she took all that they sent, in order that she might recover her
health.

But all was of no avail, for no remedy that the said physicians could
apply helped to heal the distressing malady from which she suffered, nor
could they find aught in their books, until at last the poor girl, what
with grief and pain was more dead than alive, and this grief and great
weakness lasted many days.

And whilst the father and mother, relations, and neighbours sought for
aught that might alleviate their daughter’s sufferings, they met with
an old Cordelier monk, who was blind of one eye, and who in his time
had seen many things, and had dabbled much in medicine, therefore his
presence was agreeable to the relations of the patient, and he having
gazed at the diseased part at his leisure, boasted much that he could
cure her.

You may fancy that he was most willingly heard, and that all the
grief-stricken assembly, from whose hearts all joy had been banished,
hoped that the result would prove as he had promised.

Then he left, and promised that he would return the next day, provided
and furnished with a drug of such virtue, that it would at once remove
the great pain and martyrdom which tortured and annoyed the poor
patient.

The night seemed over-long, whilst waiting for the wished-for morrow;
nevertheless, the long hours passed, and our worthy Cordelier kept his
promise, and came to the patient at the hour appointed. You may guess
that he was well and joyously received; and when the time came when he
was to heal the patient, they placed her as before on a couch, with her
backside covered with a fair white cloth of embroidered damask, having,
where her malady was, a hole pierced in it through which the Cordelier
might arrive at the said place.

He gazed at the seat of the disease, first from one side, then from the
other: and anon he would touch it gently with his finger, or inspect the
tube by which he meant to blow in the powder which was to heal her, or
anon would step back and inspect the diseased parts, and it seemed as
though he could never gaze enough.

At last he took the powder in his left hand, poured upon a small flat
dish, and in the other hand the tube, which he filled with the said
powder, and as he gazed most attentively and closely through the opening
at the seat of the painful malady of the poor girl, she could not
contain herself, seeing the strange manner in which the Cordelier gazed
at her with his one eye, but a desire to burst out laughing came upon
her, though she restrained herself as long as she could.

But it came to pass, alas! that the laugh thus held back was converted
into a f--t, the wind of which caught the powder, so that the greater
part of it was blown into the face and into the eye of the good
Cordelier, who, feeling the pain, dropped quickly both plate and tube,
and almost fell backwards, so much was he frightened. And when he came
to himself, he quickly put his hand to his eye, complaining loudly, and
saying that he was undone, and in danger to lose the only good eye he
had.

Nor did he lie, for in a few days, the powder which was of a corrosive
nature, destroyed and ate away his eye, so that he became, and remained,
blind.

Then he caused himself to be led one day to the house where he had met
with this sad mischance, and spoke to the master of the house, to whom
he related his pitiful case, demanding, as was his right, that there
should be granted to him such amends as his condition deserved, in order
that he might live honourably.

The merchant replied that though the misadventure greatly vexed him, he
was in nowise the cause of it, nor could he in any way be charged with
it, but that he would, out of pity and charity, give him some money, and
though the Cordelier had undertaken to cure his daughter and had not
so done, would give him as much as he would if she had been restored to
health, though not forced to do so.

The Cordelier was not content with this offer, but required that he
should be kept for the rest of his life, seeing that the merchant’s
daughter had blinded him, and that in the presence of many people, and
thereby he was deprived from ever again performing Mass or any of the
services of the Holy Church, or studying what learned men had written
concerning the Holy Scriptures, and thus could no longer serve as a
preacher; which would be his destruction, for he would be a beggar and
without means, save alms, and these he could no longer obtain.

But all that he could say was of no avail, and he could get no other
answer than that given. So he cited the merchant before the Parliament
of the said city of London, which called upon the aforesaid merchant to
appear. When the day came, the Cordelier’s case was stated by a lawyer
well-advised as to what he should say, and God knows that many came to
the Court to hear this strange trial, which much pleased the lords of
the said Parliament, as much for the strangeness of the case as for the
allegations and arguments of the parties debating therein, which were
not only curious but amusing.

To many folk was this strange and amusing case known, and was often
adjourned and left undecided by the judges, as is their custom. And
so she, who before this was renowned for her beauty, goodness, and
gentleness, became notorious through this cursed disease of piles, but
was in the end cured, as I have been since told.


*****


[Illustration: 03.jpg Story the Third -- THE SEARCH FOR THE RING.]



STORY THE THIRD -- THE SEARCH FOR THE RING. [3]

By Monseigneur de la Roche

_Of the deceit practised by a knight on a miller’s wife whom he made
believe that her front was loose, and fastened it many times. And the
miller informed of this, searched for a diamond that the knight’s lady
had lost, and found it in her body, as the knight knew afterwards: so he
called the miller “fisherman”, and the miller called him “fastener”._


In the Duchy of Burgundy lived formerly a noble knight, whose name is
not mentioned in the present story, who was married to a fair and
gentle lady. And near the castle of the said knight lived a miller, also
married to a fair young wife.

It chanced once, that the knight, to pass the time and enjoy himself,
was strolling around his castle, and by the banks of the river on which
stood the house and mill of the said miller, who at that time was not at
home, but at Dijon or Beaune,--he saw and remarked the wife of the said
miller carrying two jars and returning from the river, whither she had
been to draw water.

He advanced towards her and saluted her politely, and she, being
well-mannered, made him the salutation which belonged to his rank. The
knight, finding that the miller’s wife was very fair but had not much
sense, drew near to her and said.

“Of a truth, my friend, I see well that you are in ill case, and
therefore in great peril.”

At these words the miller’s wife replied.

“Alas, monseigneur, and what shall I do?”

“Truly, my dear, if you walk thus, your ‘front piece’ is in danger
of falling off, and if I am not mistaken, you will not keep it much
longer.”

The foolish woman, on hearing these words was astonished and
vexed;--astonished to think how the knight could know, without seeing,
of this unlucky accident, and vexed to think of the loss of the best
part of her body, and one that she used well, and her husband also.

She replied; “Alas! sir, what is this you tell me, and how do you know
that my ‘front piece’ is in danger of falling off? It seems to keep its
place well.”

“There, there! my dear,” replied the knight. “Let it suffice that I have
told you the truth. You would not be the first to whom such a thing had
happened.”

“Alas, sir,” said she. “I shall be an undone, dishonoured and lost
woman; and what will my husband say when he hears of the mischance? He
will have no more to do with me.”

“Be not discomforted to that degree, my friend; it has not happened yet;
besides there is a sure remedy.”

When the young woman heard that there was a remedy for her complaint,
her blood began to flow again, and she begged the knight for God’s sake
that he would teach her what she must do to keep this poor front-piece
from falling off. The knight, who was always most courteous and
gracious, especially towards the ladies, replied;

“My friend, as you are a good and pretty girl, and I like your husband,
I will teach you how to keep your front-piece.”

“Alas, sir, I thank you; and certainly you will do a most meritorious
work: for it would be better to die than to live without my front-piece.
And what ought I to do sir?

“My dear,” he said, “to prevent your front-piece from falling off, you
must have it fastened quickly and often.”

“Fastened, sir? And who will do that? Whom shall I ask to do this for
me?”

“I will tell you, my dear,” replied the knight. “And because I warned
you of this mischance being so near, and told you of the remedy
necessary to obviate the inconveniences which would arise, and which
I am sure would not please you,--I am content, in order to further
increase the love between us, to fasten your front-piece, and put it in
such a good condition that you may safely carry it anywhere, without any
fear or doubt that it will ever fall off; for in this matter I am very
skilful.”

It need not be asked whether the miller’s wife was joyful. She employed
all the little sense she had to thank the knight. So they walked
together, she and the knight, back to the mill, where they were no
sooner arrived than the knight kindly began his task, and with a tool
that he had, shortly fastened, three or four times, the front-piece of
the miller’s wife, who was most pleased and joyous; and after having
appointed a day when he might again work at this front-piece, the knight
left, and returned quickly to his castle.

On the day named, he went again to the mill, and did his best, in the
way above mentioned, to fasten this front-piece; and so well did he work
as time went on, that this front-piece was most safely fastened, and
held firmly and well in its place.

Whilst our knight thus fastened the front-piece of the miller’s wife,
the miller one day returned from his business, and made good cheer, as
also did his wife. And as they were talking over their affairs, this
most wise wife said to her husband.

“On my word, we are much indebted to the lord of this town.”

“Tell me how, and in what manner,” replied the miller.

“It is quite right that I should tell you, that you may thank him, as
indeed you must. The truth is that, whilst you were away, my lord passed
by our house one day that I was carrying two pitchers from the river.
He saluted me and I did the same to him; and as I walked away, he saw,
I know not how, that my front-piece was not held properly, and was
in danger of falling off. He kindly told me so, at which I was as
astonished and vexed as though the end of the world had come. The good
lord who saw me thus lament, took pity on me, and showed me a good
remedy for this cursed disaster. And he did still more, which he would
not have done for every one, for the remedy of which he told me,--which
was to fasten and hold back my front-piece in order to prevent it from
dropping off,--he himself applied, which was great trouble to him, and
he did it many times because that my case required frequent attention.

“What more shall I say? He, has so well performed his work that we can
never repay him. By my faith, he has in one day of this week fastened it
three times; another day, four times; another day, twice; another day,
three times; and he never left me till I was quite cured, and brought
to such a condition that my front-piece now holds as well and firmly as
that of any woman in our town.”

The miller, on hearing this adventure, gave no outward sign of what
was passing in his mind, but, as though he had been joyful, said to his
wife:

“I am very glad, my dear, that my lord hath done us this service, and,
God willing, when it shall be possible, I will do as much for him. But
at any rate, as it is not proper it should be known, take care that you
say no word of this to anyone; and also, now that you are cured, you
need not trouble my lord any further in this matter.”

“You have warned me,” replied his wife, “not to say a word about it and
that is also what my lord bade me.”

Our miller, who was a good fellow, often thought over the kindness that
my lord had done him, and conducted himself so wisely and carefully that
the said lord never suspected that he knew how he had been deceived, and
imagined that he knew nothing. But alas, his heart and all his thoughts
were bent on revenge and how he could repay in like manner the deceit
practised on his wife. And at length he bethought himself of a way by
which he could, he imagined, repay my lord in butter for his eggs.

At last, owing to other circumstances, the knight was obliged to mount
his horse and say farewell to his wife for a month; at which our miller
was in no small degree pleased.

One day, the lady had a desire to bathe, and caused the bath to be
brought forth and the stoves to be heated in her private apartments; of
which our miller knew soon, because he learned all that went on in the
house; so he took a fine pike, that he kept in the ditch near his house,
and went to the castle to present it to the lady.

None of the waiting-women would he let take the fish, but said that he
must present it himself to the lady, or else he would take it back home.
At last, because he was well-known to the household, and a good fellow,
the lady allowed him to enter whilst she was in her bath.

The miller gave his present, for which the lady thanked him, and caused
it to be taken to the kitchen and cooked for supper.

Whilst he was talking, the miller perceived on the edge of the bath, a
fine large diamond which she had taken from her finger, fearing lest the
water should spoil it. He took it so quietly that no one saw him, and
having gained his point, said good night to the lady and her women, and
returned to the mill to think over his business.

The lady, who was making good cheer with her attendants, seeing that
it was now very late, and supper-time, left the bath and retired to
her bed. And as she was looking at her arms and hands, she saw not the
diamond, and she called her women, and asked them where was the diamond,
and to whom she had given it. Each said, “It was not to me;”--“Nor to
me,”--“Nor to me either.”

They searched inside and outside the bath, and everywhere, but it was no
good, they could not find it. The search for this diamond lasted a long
time, without their finding any trace of it, which caused the lady much
vexation, because it had been unfortunately lost in her chamber, and
also because my lord had given it to her the day of their betrothal, and
she held it very precious. They did not know whom to suspect nor whom to
ask, and much sorrow prevailed in the household.

Then one of the women bethought herself, and said.

“No one entered the room but ourselves and the miller; it seems right
that he should be sent for.”

He was sent for, and came. The lady who was much vexed, asked the miller
if he had not seen her diamond. He, being as ready to lie as another is
to tell the truth, answered boldly, and asked if the lady took him for a
thief? To which she replied gently;

“Certainly not, miller; it would be no theft if you had for a joke taken
away my diamond.”

“Madame,” said the miller, “I give you my word that I know nothing about
your diamond.”

Then were they all much vexed, and my lady especially, so that she could
not refrain from weeping tears in great abundance at the loss of this
trinket. They all sorrowfully considered what was to be done. One said
that it must be in the chamber, and another said that they had searched
everywhere, and that it was impossible it should be there or they would
have found it, as it was easily seen.

The miller asked the lady if she had it when she entered the bath; and
she replied, yes.

“If it be so, certainly, madam, considering the diligence you have made
in searching for it, and without finding it, the affair is very strange.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that if there is any man who could give
advice how it should be found, I am he, and because I would not that
my secret should be discovered and known to many people, it would be
expedient that I should speak to you alone.”

“That is easily managed,” said the lady. So her attendants left, but, as
they were leaving, Dames Jehanne, Isabeau, and Katherine said,

“Ah, miller, you will be a clever man if you bring back this diamond.”

“I don’t say that I am over-clever,” replied the miller, “but I venture
to declare that if it is possible to find it I am the man to do so.”

When he saw that he was alone with the lady, he told her that he
believed seriously, that as she had the diamond when she entered the
bath, that it must have fallen from her finger and entered her body,
seeing that there was no one who could have stolen it.

And that he might hasten to find it, he made the lady-get upon her bed,
which she would have willingly refused if she could have done otherwise.

After he had uncovered her, he pretended to look here and there, and
said,

“Certainly, madam, the diamond has entered your body.”

“Do you say, miller, that you have seen it?”

“Truly, yes.”

“Alas!” said she, “and how can it be got out?”

“Very easily, madam. I doubt not to succeed if it please you.”

“May God help you! There is nothing that I would not do to get it
again,” said the lady, “or to advance you, good miller.”

The miller placed the lady on the bed, much in the same position as the
lord had placed _his_ wife when he fastened her front-piece, and with a
like tool was the search for the diamond made.

Whilst resting after the first and second search that the miller made
for the diamond, the lady asked him if he had not felt it, and he said,
yes, at which she was very joyful, and begged that he would seek until
he had found it.

To cut matters short, the good miller did so well that he restored to
the lady her beautiful diamond, which caused great joy throughout the
house, and never did miller receive so much honour and advancement as
the lady and her maids bestowed upon him.

The good miller, who was high in the good graces of the lady after the
much-desired conclusion of his great enterprise, left the house and went
home, without boasting to his wife of his recent adventure, though he
was more joyful over it than though he had gained the whole world.

A short time after, thank God, the knight returned to his castle, and
was kindly received and humbly welcomed by the lady, who whilst
they were enjoying themselves in bed, told him of the most wonderful
adventure of the diamond, and how it was fished out of her body by the
miller; and, to cut matters short, related the process, fashion, and
manner employed by the said miller in his search for the diamond, which
hardly gave her husband much joy, but he reflected that the miller had
paid him back in his own coin.

The first time he met the good miller, he saluted him coldly, and said,

“God save you! God save you, good diamond-searcher!”

To which the good miller replied,

“God save you! God save you, fastener of front-pieces!”

“By our Lady, you speak truly,” said the knight. “Say nothing about me,
and I will say nothing about you.”

The miller was satisfied, and never spoke of it again; nor did the
knight either, so far as I know.


*****


[Illustration: 04.jpg Story the Fourth -- THE ARMED CUCKOLD.]



STORY THE FOURTH -- THE ARMED CUCKOLD. [4]

By Monseigneur

_The fourth tale is of a Scotch archer who was in love with a fair
and gentle dame, the wife of a mercer, who, by her husband’s orders
appointed a day for the said Scot to visit her, who came and treated her
as he wished, the said mercer being hid by the side of the bed, where he
could see and hear all._


When the king was lately in the city of Tours, a Scottish gentleman, an
archer of his bodyguard, was greatly enamoured of a beautiful and gentle
damsel married to a mercer; and when he could find time and place,
related to her his sad case, but received no favourable reply,--at which
he was neither content nor joyous. Nevertheless, as he was much in
love, he relaxed not the pursuit, but besought her so eagerly, that the
damsel, wishing to drive him away for good and all, told him that she
would inform her husband of the dishonourable and damnable proposals
made to her,--which at length she did.

The husband,--a good and wise man, honourable and valiant, as you will
see presently,--was very angry to think that the Scot would dishonour
him and his fair wife. And that he might avenge himself without trouble,
he commanded his wife that if the Scot should accost her again, she
should appoint a meeting on a certain day, and, if he were so foolish as
to come, he would buy his pleasure dearly.

The good wife, to obey her husband’s will, did as she was told. The poor
amorous Scot, who spent his time in passing the house, soon saw the
fair mercer, and when he had humbly saluted her, he besought her love
so earnestly, and desired that she would listen to his final piteous
prayer, and if she would, never should woman be more loyally served and
obeyed if she would but grant his most humble and reasonable request.

The fair mercer, remembering the lesson that her husband had given her,
finding the opportunity propitious, after many subterfuges and excuses,
told the Scot that he could come to her chamber on the following
evening, where he could talk to her more secretly, and she would give
him what he desired.

You may guess that she was greatly thanked, and her words listened to
with pleasure and obeyed by her lover, who left his lady feeling more
joyous than ever he had in his life.

When the husband returned home, he was told of all the words and deeds
of the Scot, and how he was to come on the morrow to the lady’s chamber.

“Let him come,” said the husband. “Should he undertake such a mad
business I will make him, before he leaves, see and confess the evil he
has done, as an example to other daring and mad fools like him.”

The evening of the next day drew near,--much to the joy of the amorous
Scot, who wished to see and enjoy the person of his lady;--and much also
to the joy of the good mercer who was desiring a great vengeance to
be taken on the person of the Scot who wished to replace him in the
marriage bed; but not much to the taste of his fair wife, who expected
that her obedience to her husband would lead to a serious fight.

All prepared themselves; the mercer put on a big, old, heavy suit
of armour, donned his helmet and gauntlets, and armed himself with a
battle-axe. Like a true champion, he took up his post early, and as he
had no tent in which to await his enemy, placed himself behind a curtain
by the side of the bed, where he was so well-hidden that he could not be
perceived.

The lover, sick with desire, knowing the longed-for hour was now at
hand, set out for the house of the mercer, but he did not forget to
take his big, good, strong two-handed sword; and when he was within the
house, the lady went up to her chamber without showing any fear, and
he followed her quietly. And when he came within the room, he asked the
lady if she were alone? To which she replied casually, and with some
confusion, that she was.

“Tell me the truth,” said the Scot. “Is not your husband here?”

“No,” said she.

“Well! let him come! By Saint Aignan, if he should come, I would split
his skull to the teeth. By God! if there were three of them I should not
fear them. I should soon master them!”

After these wicked words, he drew his big, good sword, and brandished it
three or four times; then laid it on the bed by his side.

With that he kissed and cuddled her, and did much more at his leisure
and convenience, without the poor coward by the side of the bed, who was
greatly afraid he should be killed, daring to show himself.

Our Scot, after this adventure, took leave of the lady for a while, and
thanked her as he ought for her great courtesy and kindness, and went
his way.

As soon as the valiant man of arms knew that the Scot was out of the
house, he came out of his hiding place, so frightened that he could
scarcely speak, and commenced to upbraid his wife for having let the
archer do his pleasure on her. To which she replied that it was his
fault, as he had made her appoint a meeting.

“I did not command you,” he said, “to let him do his will and pleasure.”

“How could I refuse him,” she replied, “seeing that he had his big
sword, with which he could have killed me?”

At that moment the Scot returned, and came up the stairs to the chamber,
and ran in and called out, “What is it?” Whereupon the good man, to save
himself, hid under the bed for greater safety, being more frightened
than ever.

The Scot served the lady as he had done before, but kept his sword
always near him. After many long love-games between the Scot and the
lady, the hour came when he must leave, so he said good-night and went
away.

The poor martyr who was under the bed would scarcely come out, so much
did he fear the return of his adversary,--or rather, I should say, his
companion. At last he took courage, and by the help of his wife was,
thank God, set on his feet, and if he had scolded his wife before he was
this time harder upon her than ever, for she had consented, in spite of
his forbidding her, to dishonour him and herself.

“Alas,” said she, “and where is the woman bold enough to oppose a man so
hasty and violent as he was, when you yourself, armed and accoutred and
so valiant,--and to whom he did more wrong than he did to me--did not
dare to attack him, and defend me?”

“That is no answer,” he replied. “Unless you had liked, he would never
have attained his purpose. You are a bad and disloyal woman.”

“And you,” said she, “are a cowardly, wicked, and most blamable man; for
I am dishonoured since, through obeying you, I gave a rendezvous to the
Scot. Yet you have not the courage to undertake the defence of the wife
who is the guardian of your honour. For know that I would rather have
died than consent to this dishonour, and God knows what grief I feel,
and shall always feel as long as I live, whilst he to whom I looked for
help suffered me to be dishonoured in his presence.”

He believed that she would not have allowed the Scot to tumble her if
she had not taken pleasure in it, but she maintained that she was forced
and could not resist, but left the resistance to him and he did not
fulfil his charge. Thus they both wrangled and quarrelled, with many
arguments on both sides. But at any rate, the husband was cuckolded and
deceived by the Scot in the manner you have heard.


*****



STORY THE FIFTH -- THE DUEL WITH THE BUCKLE-STRAP. [5]

By Philippe De Laon.

_The fifth story relates two judgments of Lord Talbot. How a Frenchman
was taken prisoner (though provided with a safe-conduct) by an
Englishman, who said that buckle-straps were implements of war, and who
was made to arm himself with buckle-straps and nothing else, and meet
the Frenchman, who struck him with a sword in the presence of Talbot.
The other, story is about a man who robbed a church, and who was made to
swear that he would never enter a church again._

Lord Talbot (whom may God pardon) who was, as every one knows, so
victorious as leader of the English, gave in his life two judgments
which were worthy of being related and held in perpetual remembrance,
and in order that the said judgments should be known, I will relate
them briefly in this my first story, though it is the fifth amongst the
others. I will tell it thus.

During the time that the cursed and pestilent war prevailed between
France and England, and which has not yet finished, (*) it happened,
as was often the case, that a French soldier was taken prisoner by
an Englishman, and, a ransom having been fixed, he was sent under a
safe-conduct, signed by Lord Talbot, to his captain, that he might
procure his ransom and bring it back to his captor.

As he was on his road, he was met by another Englishman, who, seeing he
was a Frenchman, asked him whence he came and whither he was going? The
other told him the truth.

“Where is your safe-conduct?” asked the Englishman.

“It is not far off,” replied the Frenchman. With that he took the
safe-conduct, which was in a little box hung at his belt, and handed
it to the Englishman, who read it from one end to the other. And, as is
customary, there was written on the safe-conduct, “Forbidden to carry
any implements of warfare.”

The Englishman noted this, and saw that there were _esguillettes_ on
the Frenchman’s doublet. (**) He imagined that these straps were real
implements of war, so he said,

“I make you my prisoner, because you have broken your safe-conduct.”

“By my faith, I have not,” replied the Frenchman, “saving your grace.
You see in what condition I am.”

“No! no!” said the Englishman. “By Saint John you have broken your
safe-conduct. Surrender, or I will kill you.”

The poor Frenchman, who had only his page with him, and was quite
unprovided with weapons, whilst the other was accompanied by three
or four archers, did the best thing he could, and surrendered. The
Englishman led him to a place near there, and put him in prison.

     (*) It had virtually finished, and the English only retained
     the town of Calais when this tale was written (about 1465)
     but they had not relinquished their claim to the French
     Crown, and hostilities were expected to recommence.

     (**) _Esguillettes_ were small straps or laces, used to
     fasten the cuirass to the doublet.

The Frenchman, finding himself thus ill-treated, sent in great haste
to his captain, who when he heard his man’s case, was greatly and
marvellously astonished. Thereupon he wrote a letter to Lord Talbot,
and sent it by a herald, to ask how it was that one of his men had
been arrested by one of Lord Talbot’s men whilst under that general’s
safe-conduct.

The said herald, being well instructed as to what he was to say and do,
left his master, and presented the letters to Lord Talbot. He read them,
and caused them to be read also by one of his secretaries before many
knights and squires and others of his followers.

Thereupon he flew into a great rage, for he was hot-tempered and
irritable, and brooked not to be disobeyed, and especially in matters of
war; and to question his safe-conduct made him very angry.

To shorten the story, he caused to be brought before him both the
Frenchman and the Englishman, and told the Frenchman to tell his tale.

He told how he had been taken prisoner by one of Lord Talbot’s people,
and put to ransom;

“And under your safe-conduct, my lord, I was on my way to my friends to
procure my ransom. I met this gentleman here, who is also one of
your followers, who asked me whither I was going, and if I had a
safe-conduct? I told him, yes, and showed it to him. And when he had
read it he told me that I had broken it, and I replied that I had not,
and that he could not prove it. But he would not listen to me, and I was
forced, if I would not be killed on the spot, to surrender. I know of no
cause why he should have detained me, and I ask justice of you.”

Lord Talbot, when he had heard the Frenchman, was not well content,
nevertheless when the latter had finished, my Lord turned to the
Englishman and asked,

“What have you to reply to this?”

“My lord,” said he, “it is quite true, as he has said, that I met him
and would see his safe-conduct, which when I had read from end to end, I
soon perceived that he had broken and violated; otherwise I should never
have arrested him.”

“How had he broken it?” asked Lord Talbot. “Tell me quickly!”

“My Lord, because in his safe-conduct he is forbidden all implements of
war, and he had, and has still, real implements of war; that is to say
he has on his doublet, buckle-straps, which are real implements of war,
for without them a man cannot be armed.”

“Ah!” said Lord Talbot, “and so buckle-straps are implements of war
are they? Do you know of any other way in which he had broken his
safe-conduct?”

“Truly, my lord, I do not,” replied the Englishman.

“What, you villain!” said Lord Talbot. “Have you stopped a gentleman
under my safe-conduct for his buckle-straps? By St. George, I will show
you whether they are implements of war.”

Then, hot with anger and indignation, he went up to the Frenchman, and
tore from his doublet the two straps, and gave them to the Englishman;
then he put a sword in the Frenchman’s hand, and drawing his own good
sword out of the sheath, said to the Englishman,

“Defend yourself with that implement of war, as you call it, if you know
how!”

Then he said to the Frenchman,

“Strike that villain who arrested you without cause or reason, and we
shall see how he can defend himself with this implement of war. If you
spare him, by St. George I will strike you.”

Thus the Frenchman, whether he would or not, was obliged to strike at
the Englishman with the sword, and the poor Englishman protected himself
as best he could, and ran about the room, with Talbot after him, who
made the Frenchman keep striking the other, and cried out;

“Defend yourself, villain, with your implement of war!” In truth, the
Englishman was so well beaten that he was nearly dead, and cried for
mercy to Talbot and the Frenchman. The latter was released from his
ransom by Lord Talbot, and his horse, harness, and all his baggage, were
given back to him.

Such was the first judgment of Lord Talbot; there remains to be given an
account of the other, which was thus.

He learned that one of his soldiers had robbed a church of the pyx in
which is placed the Corpus Domini, and sold it for ready money--I
know not for how much, but the pyx was big and fine, and beautifully
enamelled.

Lord Talbot, who though he was very brutal and wicked in war, had always
great reverence for the Church, and would never allow a monastery or
church to be set on fire or robbed, heard of this, and he was very
severe on those who broke his regulations.

So he caused to be brought before him the man who had stolen the pyx
from the church; and when he came, God knows what a greeting he had.
Talbot would have killed him, if those around had not begged that his
life might be saved. Nevertheless, as he would punish him, he said.

“Rascal traitor! why have you dared to rob a church in spite of my
orders?”

“Ah, my lord,” said the poor thief, “for God’s sake have mercy upon me;
I will never do it again.”

“Come here, villain,” said Talbot; and the other came up about as
willingly as though he were going to the gallows. And the said Lord
Talbot rushed at him, and with his fist, which was both large and heavy,
struck him on the head, and cried.

“Ha! you thief! have you robbed a church?”

And the other cried,

“Mercy my lord! I will never do it again.”

“Will you do it again?”

“No, my lord!”

“Swear then that you will never again enter a church of any kind. Swear,
villain!”

“Very good, my lord,” said the other.

Then Talbot made the thief swear that he would never set foot in a
church again, which made all who were present and who heard it, laugh,
though they pitied the thief because Lord Talbot had forbidden him
the church for ever, and made him swear never to enter it. Yet we may
believe that he did it with a good motive and intention. Thus you
have heard the two judgments of Lord Talbot, which were such as I have
related to you.


*****



STORY THE SIXTH -- THE DRUNKARD IN PARADISE. [6]

By Monseigneur de Lannoy

_The sixth story is of a drunkard, who would confess to the Prior of the
Augustines at the Hague, and after his confession said that he was then
in a holy state and would die; and believed that his head was cut off
and that he was dead, and was carried away by his companions who said
they were going to bury him._

In the city of The Hague in Holland, as the prior of the Augustine
Monastery was one day saying his prayers on the lawn near the chapel of
St. Antony, he was accosted by a great, big Dutchman who was exceedingly
drunk, and who lived in a village called Schevingen, about two leagues
from there.

The prior, who saw him coming from afar, guessed his condition by his
heavy and uncertain step, and when they met, the drunkard saluted the
prior, who returned the salute, and passed on reading his prayers,
proposing neither to stop nor question him.

The drunkard, being half beside himself, turned and pursued the prior,
and demanded to be confessed.

“Confession!” said the prior. “Go away! Go away! You have confessed
already.”

“Alas, sir,” replied the drunkard, “for God’s sake confess me. At
present, I remember all my sins, and am most contrite.”

The prior, displeased to be interrupted by a drunkard, replied.

“Go your ways; you have no need of confession, for you are in a very
comfortable case as it is.”

“Oh, no,” said the drunkard, “as sure as death you shall confess me,
master Curé, for I am most devout,” and he seized him by the sleeve, and
would have stopped him.

The priest would not listen to him, and made wonderful efforts to
escape, but it was no good, for the other was obstinate in his desire to
confess, which the priest would not hear.

The devotion of the drunkard increased more and more, and when he saw
that the priest still refused to hear his sins, he put his hand on his
big knife and drew it from its sheath, and told the priest he would kill
him, if he did not listen to his confession.

The priest, being afraid of a knife in such dangerous hands, did not
know what to do, so he asked the other,

“What is is you want?”

“I wish to confess,” said he.

“Very well; I will hear you,” said the priest. “Come here.”

Our drunkard,--being more tipsy than a thrush in a vineyard,--began, so
please you, his devout confession,--over which I pass, for the priest
never revealed it, but you may guess it was both novel and curious.

The priest cut short the wearisome utterances of the drunkard, and gave
him absolution, and, to get rid of him, said;

“Go away now; you have made a good confession.”

“Say you so, sir?” he replied.

“Yes, truly,” said the priest, “it was a very good confession. Go, and
sin no more!”

“Then, since I have well confessed and received absolution, if I were to
die now, should I go to paradise?” asked the drunkard.

“Straight! Straight!” replied the priest. “There can be no doubt about
it.”

“Since that is so,” said the drunkard, “and I am now in a holy state, I
would like to die at once, in order that I may go to heaven.”

With that he took and gave his knife to the priest, begging of him to
cut off his head, in order that he might go to paradise.

“Oh, no!” said the priest, much astonished. “It is not my business to do
that--you must go to heaven by some other means.”

“No,” replied the drunkard, “I wish to go there now, and to die here by
your hands. Come, and kill me.”

“I will not do that,” said the prior. “A priest must not kill any one.”

“You shall I swear; and if you do not at once despatch me and send me
to heaven I will kill you with my own hands,” and at these words
he brandished his big knife before the eyes of the priest, who was
terrified and alarmed.

At last, having thought the matter over,--that he might get rid of this
drunkard, who was becoming more and more aggressive, and perchance might
have taken his life, he seized the knife, and said;

“Well! since you wish to die by my hands in order that you may go to
paradise,--kneel down before me.”

The words were hardly uttered before the drunkard fell flat, and with
some trouble raised himself to his knees, and with his hands joined
together, awaited the blow of the sword which was to kill him.

The priest gave the drunkard a heavy blew with the back of the knife,
which felled him to the ground, where he lay, and would not get up,
believing himself to be in paradise.

Then the priest left, not forgetting for his own safety to take the
knife with him, and ere he had gone far he met a waggon full of people
some of whom had been along with the drunkard that day, to whom he
recounted all the story--begging that they would raise him and convey
him home; he also gave them the knife.

They promised to take charge of him, and the priest went away. They had
hardly started on their way, when they perceived the good toper, lying
as though dead, with his face to the ground; and when they were nigh
to him, they all with one voice shouted his name,--but, shout as they
would, he made no reply. Then they cried out again, but it was no use.

Then some of them descended from the waggon, and they took him by the
head, and the feet, and the legs, and raised him from the ground, and so
shook him that he opened his eyes and said,

“Leave me alone! Leave me alone! I am dead!”

“No, you are not,” said his companions. “You must come along with us.”

“I will not,” said the drunkard. “Where should I go? I am dead, and
already in heaven.”

“You must come,” said the others. “We will get some drink.”

“Drink?” said the other. “I shall never drink again; I am dead;” and for
all that his comrades could say or do, they could not get it out of his
head but that he was dead.

The dispute lasted long, and they could not persuade the drunkard to
accompany them; for to all that they said he always replied, “I am
dead”.

At last one of them bethought himself, and said,

“Then since you are dead, you must not lie here and be buried like a
beast of the field. Come! come along with us, and we will carry you
in our waggon to the grave-yard of our town as befits a Christian.
Otherwise you will not go to heaven.”

When the drunkard heard that he must be buried in order that he might
go to heaven, he was satisfied to obey, so he was soon tucked up in
the waggon, where he was quickly asleep. The waggon was drawn by good
cattle, and they were speedily at Schevingen, where the good drunkard was
put down in front of his house. His wife and servants were called, and
the body given to them, for he slept so soundly that he was carried
from the waggon to the house and put in his bed without ever waking, and
being laid between the sheets, at last woke up two days later.


*****


[Illustration: 07.jpg THE WAGGONER IN THE BEAR.]



STORY THE SEVENTH -- THE WAGGONER IN THE BEAR.

By Monseigneur

_Of a goldsmith of Paris who made a waggoner sleep with him and his
wife, and how the waggoner dallied with her from behind, which the
goldsmith perceived and discovered, and of the words which he spake to
the waggoner._


A goldsmith of Paris, once, in order to complete some of his wares in
time for the fair of Lendit, laid in a large stock of willow charcoal.
It happened one day amongst others, that the waggoner who delivered this
charcoal, knowing that the goldsmith was in great haste, brought two
waggons more than he had on any previous day, but hardly had he entered
Paris with the last load than the city gates were shut on his heels.
Nevertheless, he was well received by the goldsmith, and after the
charcoal was unloaded, and the horses stabled, they all supped at their
leisure, and made great cheer, and drank heavily. Just as the meal
finished the clock struck midnight, which astonished them greatly, so
quickly had the time passed at supper.

Each one thanked God, and being heavy-eyed, only asked to go to bed, but
as it was so late, the goldsmith detained the waggoner, fearing that he
might meet the watch, who would have put him into the Châtelet had they
found him at that hour of the night.

At that time the goldsmith had many persons working for him, and he was
obliged to make the waggoner lie with him and his wife, and, not
being of a suspicions nature, he made his wife lie between him and the
waggoner.

He had great trouble to arrange this, for the good waggoner refused his
hospitality, and would rather have slept in the barn or stable, but he
was obliged to obey the goldsmith. And after he had undressed, he got
into bed, in which already were the goldsmith and his wife, as I have
already said.

The wife feeling the waggoner approach her, moved nearer her husband,
both on account of the cold and the smallness of the bed, and, instead
of a pillow, placed her head upon her husband’s breast, whilst her
backside rested on the waggoner’s knees.

Our goldsmith soon went to sleep, and his wife pretended to also,
and the waggoner, being tired from his work, did the same. But as
the stallion grows hot as soon as he approaches the mare, so did this
stallion lift up his head on feeling so near to him the aforesaid woman.

It was not within the power of the waggoner to refrain from attacking
her closely; and this lasted for some time without the woman waking, or
at least pretending to wake. Nor would the husband have awaked, had it
not been that the head of his wife reclined on his breast, and owing to
the assault of this stallion, gave him such a bump that he quickly woke.

He thought at first that his wife was dreaming, but as her dream
continued, and he heard the waggoner moving about and breathing hard,
he gently put down his hand, and found what ravage the stallion of the
waggoner was making in his warren;--at which, as he loved his wife, he
was not well content. He soon made the waggoner with draw, and said to
him,

“What are you doing, you wicked rascal? You must be mad to attack my
wife in that way. Don’t do it again! Morbleu! I declare to you that if
she had woke just now when your machine was pushing her, I don’t know
what she would have done; but I feel certain, as I know her well, that
she would have scratched your face, and torn out your eyes with her
nails. You don’t know what she will do when she loses her temper, and
there is nothing in the world which puts her out more. Take it away, I
beg, for your own sake.”

The waggoner, in a few words, declared that it was unintentional, and,
as day was breaking, he rose and took his leave and went away with his
cart.

You may fancy that the good woman on whom the waggoner made this attempt
was displeased in another way than her husband fancied; and afterwards
it was said that the waggoner met her in the proper way: but I would not
believe it or credit the report.


*****



STORY THE EIGHTH -- TIT FOR TAT. [8]

By Monseigneur de la Roche

_Of a youth of Picardy who lived at Brussels, and made his master’s
daughter pregnant, and for that cause left and came back to Picardy to
be married. And soon after his departure the girl’s mother perceived the
condition of her daughter, and the girl confessed in what state she was;
so her mother sent her to the Picardian to tell him that he must undo
that which he had done. And how his new bride refused then to sleep with
him, and of the story she told him, whereupon he immediately left her
and returned to his first love, and married her._

In the city of Brussels, where a good many adventures have happened in
our time, there lived not long ago a young man of Picardy, who served
his master well and faithfully for a long period. And amongst other
services which he did the said master was this; that by his civil
speech, bearing, and courtesy he so gained the graces of his master’s
daughter, that he lay with her, and owing to his meritorious actions she
became pregnant.

The youth, knowing the lady was in that condition, was not such a fool
as to wait until his master should perceive and know it. So he quickly
asked leave to absent himself for a few days,--albeit he had no
intention to return--pretending that he must go to Picardy to see his
father and mother, and some others of his relations.

Then he took farewell of his master and mistress, and had a most
piteous leave-taking with the daughter; to whom he promised quickly to
return,--which he did not, and for good cause.

When he was in Picardy, at the house of his father, his master’s
daughter grew so big with child that her sad condition could no longer
be concealed; amongst others, her worthy mother, who was experienced in
such matters, was the first to notice it. She took her daughter on one
side, and asked her how she came to be in that condition, and who was
the cause of it. The girl had to be much pressed and scolded before she
would say anything, but at last was forced to confess her sad condition,
and own that it was the Picardian, who, a short while before, had been
servant to her father, who had seduced her, and left her in that pitiful
case.

Her mother was furious, and abused her till she could say no more, which
the poor girl bore so patiently and without saying a word, that it was
enough to excuse her for letting herself be put in the family-way by the
Picardian.

But alas! her patient endurance had no effect upon her mother, who said;

“Go away! go away! disgraceful hussy! and do your best to find the man
who made you pregnant, and tell him to undo that which he has done!
Never come back to me till he has undone the wrong he has done you.”

The poor girl, who was in the condition you have heard, was crushed and
overcome by the wrath of her cruel mother, and set out in search of the
young man who had ruined her; and you may well imagine, had to endure
much trouble and pain before she could hear any news of him.

But at last, as God so willed it, after much wandering about through
Picardy, she came, one Sunday, to a large village in the county of
Artois, and she came most opportunely, for on that day her friend, the
Picardian who had deceived her, was to be married, at which she was very
joyful. And she cared so little about obeying her mother, that, big as
she was, she pressed amongst the crowd, and when she saw her lover, she
saluted him. He, when he saw her, blushed, and returned her salutation,
and said to her;

“You are very welcome! What brings you here at this time, my dear?”

“My mother,” she replied, “sent me to you, and God knows that you have
caused me much upbraiding. She charged and commanded me that I should
tell you that you must undo that which you have done, or, if you do not,
I am never to go back to her.”

The other, when he heard this, to get rid of her as soon as he could,
spoke as follows.

“My dear, I will willingly do that which you ask and your mother
requires me to do, for it is very reasonable, but at this moment I
cannot be seen talking to you. I beg of you to have patience for to-day,
and to-morrow I will attend to your request.”

With that she was content, and then he caused her to be taken and put
in a fair chamber, and commanded that she should be well-treated, as she
deserved to be, after the great trouble and difficulty she had had in
seeking him out.

Now you must know that the bride had kept her eyes open, and when she
saw her husband talking to a woman big with child, she had misgivings,
and was by no means satisfied, but much troubled and vexed in mind.

She nursed her wrath, and said nothing until her husband came to bed.
And when he would have cuddled and kissed her, and done his proper duty
as a husband, and so earned his “caudle”, (*) she turned herself first
on one side and then on the other, so that he could not attain his
purpose, at which he was greatly astonished and angry, and said to her,

     (*) It was the custom in the Middle Ages to bring in the
     middle of the wedding night, a caudle of hot milk, soup, or
     spiced wine to the married couple.

“Why do you do that, my dear?”

“I have good cause,” she replied, “for I see from your acts that you do
not care for me. There are many others you like better than me.”

“By my faith,” said he, “there is no woman in the world I love better
than you.”

“Ah!” she said, “did I not see you after dinner holding discourse for a
long time with a woman who was in the room! I saw you only too plainly,
and you cannot excuse yourself.”

“By our Lady,” he replied, “you have no cause to be jealous about her,”
 and with that he told her that it was the daughter of his master at
Brussels, and how he had lain with her and made her pregnant, and on
that account he had left the place; and how also after his departure,
she became so big with child that it was perceived, and then she had
confessed to her mother who had seduced her, and her mother had sent her
to him that he might undo that which he had done, or else she must never
return home.

When the young man had finished his story, his wife who had been struck
by one portion of it, said;

“What? Do you say that she told her mother you had slept with her?”

“Yes,” he said; “she made it all known to her.”

“On my word!” she replied, “then she proved herself very stupid. The
waggoner at our house slept with me more than forty nights, but you
don’t suppose that I breathed a word of that to my mother. I took good
care to say nothing.”

“Truly,” quoth he, “the devil takes care that the gibbet is not cheated.
(**) Go back to your waggoner if you like; for I care nothing for you.”

     (**) In other words, we are punished for our ill-deeds.

Thereupon he arose and went to the woman he had seduced, and left the
other one; and when the morning came and this news was noised abroad,
God knows that it amused many and displeased many others, especially the
father and mother of the bride.


*****


[Illustration: 09.jpg THE HUSBAND PANDAR TO HIS OWN WIFE]



STORY THE NINTH -- THE HUSBAND PANDAR TO HIS OWN WIFE. [9]

By Monseigneur

_Of a knight of Burgundy, who was marvellously amorous of one of his
wife’s waiting women, and thinking to sleep with her, slept with his
wife who was in the bed of the said tire-woman. And how he caused, by
his order, another knight, his neighbour to sleep with the said woman,
believing that it was really the tirewoman--and afterwards he was not
well pleased, albeit that the lady knew nothing, and was not aware, I
believe, that she had had to do with aught other than her own husband._


In order to properly continue these stories, the incidents of which
happen in divers places and under various circumstances, there should
not be omitted the tale of a gentle knight of Burgundy, who lived in
a castle of his own that was fair and strong, and well provided with
retainers and artillery, as his condition required.

He fell in love with a fair damsel of his household, who was chief
tire-woman to his wife, and his great affection for her took such
hold upon him that he could not be happy without her, and was always
conversing with her and beseeching her, and, in short, life seemed no
good without her, so filled with love of her was he.

The girl, being chaste and prudent, wished to keep her honour, which she
valued as she did her own soul, and would not betray the duty she owed
to her mistress, and therefore she lent no ear to her master when he
importuned her. And whenever he spoke to her, God knows what a rebuff
he met, and how she remonstrated with him as to his boldness and
ill-conduct. Moreover, she told him that if he continued she would
inform her mistress.

But, in spite of her threats, he would not abandon the enterprise, but
pursued her more and more, so that at last the girl was forced to tell
her mistress.

The lady being informed of her lord’s love affair, though she did not
show it, was not well pleased; but she devised a plan, which was this.

She charged the girl that the next time the knight solicited her, that
she should lay aside all reserve, and inform him that on the following
night she would expect him in her chamber and in her bed; “And if he
should accept the rendezvous,” added the lady; “I will take your place;
and leave the rest to me.”

The girl was pleased to obey her mistress, as was her duty, and promised
she would do as she was bid.

It was not long before my lord again returned to the charge, and prayed
her more warmly than before, saying that if she did not grant his
prayer, he would rather die than live longer in this hopeless passion.

What need is there of a long story? The girl, being thoroughly
well-instructed by her mistress, appointed an hour at which he should
come to her the next night, at which he was so well-pleased that his
heart leapt for joy, and he promised himself that he would not fail to
be there.

The desired day arrived, but in the evening, a gentle knight, a
neighbour of my lord and his great friend, came to see him, for whom my
lord made, as he well knew how, great cheer; as did my lady also, and
the rest of the household were not behind-hand, knowing that to be the
good pleasure of my lord and my lady.

After much feasting and a supper and a banquet, it was time to retire
to rest, and having said good-night to the lady and her women, the two
knights began to talk over various matters, and, amongst other
things, the visitor asked my lord if there were any pretty women with
shoulder-knots in the village, (*) for the weather being fine, and
having made good cheer, he had a desire for a woman.

     (*) In some towns of the south of France, in the Middle
     Ages, the courtesans used to wear a knot of coloured ribbon
     on the shoulder.

My lord, on account of the great love he bore his friend, would hide
nothing from him, and told him how he had that night agreed to sleep
with the tire-woman; and that he might do his friend pleasure, when he
had been with her a certain time, he would, he said, rise gently, and go
away, and let the visitor do the rest.

The visitor thanked his host, and God knows that the hour seemed long in
coming. At last the host took leave of his guest, and went to his room,
as was his custom, to undress.

Now you must know that whilst the knights were talking, my lady went to
the bed in which my lord expected to find the tiring-maid, and there she
awaited whatever God might be pleased to send her.

My lord was a long time undressing, to give time to his wife to go to
sleep. He then dismissed his valet, and in his long dressing-gown went
to where his lady awaited him,--he thinking to find some-one else,--and
silently undressed and got into bed.

And as the candle was put out, and the lady uttered no word, he believed
he was with the woman. Hardly had he got into bed before he began to
perform his duty, and so well did he acquit himself, that three, even
four, times did not content him; whereat his wife felt great pleasure,
and thinking that that was all, fell asleep.

My lord, now much lighter than when he came, seeing that the lady slept,
and remembering his promise, rose quietly and went to his friend, who
was awaiting orders to go into action, and told him to take his place,
but that he must not speak a word, and must come away when he had done
all that he wished.

The other, as wide-awake as a rat, and straining at the leash like a
greyhound,--went, and lay down by the lady without her knowing of it.
And though he felt assured that my lord had already worked well, and
he was in haste, he did better, at which my lady was in no small degree
astonished, and after this amusement--which was not distasteful to
her--she again fell asleep.

Then the good knight left her, and returned to my lord, who again
resumed his place by my lady’s side as before, and made a fresh attack
upon her--so well did the exercise please him.

Thus the hours passed,--either in sleeping or doing something
else,--until day broke; and as he turned round in bed, expecting
to behold the tire-woman, he saw and knew that it was his wife, who
thereupon said to him.

“Are you not a recreant, cowardly, and wicked whoremonger? You thought
to have had my tire-woman, and it is upon me that you have so many times
essayed your unbridled and measureless lust. Thank God you have been
deceived, for no one else shall ever have that which belongs to me.”

The good knight was both astonished and angry, and no wonder. And when
he spoke at last, he said.

“My dear, I cannot hide from you my folly, and I greatly grieve ever to
have undertaken such an enterprise. I beg of you to be satisfied with
what you have done, and never mention it for never in all my life shall
it occur again. That I promise you on my honour; and that you may never
have occasion to be reminded of it, I will send away the woman who has
played this trick upon me.”

The lady, who was more satisfied with this adventure than her woman, and
seeing how contrite her husband was, allowed herself to be gained-over,
but not without making some remonstrances and scoldings.

In the end, all was arranged satisfactorily, but the knight, who had a
flea in his ear, as soon as he rose, went to his companion, to whom
he related the adventure at full length, and demanded from him two
promises; the first was that he should strictly promise to say nothing
of the matter, and the second that he should never meet his wife again.

The other, who was much vexed at this unfortunate affair, comforted the
knight as best he could, and promised to perform his very reasonable
requests; then mounted his horse and rode off. The tire-woman, who was
not to blame for the _contretemps_, bore the punishment however, and was
sent away. The knight and the lady lived long together without her ever
being aware that she had had to do with a strange knight.


*****



STORY THE TENTH -- THE EEL PASTIES. [10]

By Monseigneur de la Roche

_Of a knight of England, who, after he was married, wished his mignon to
procure him some pretty girls, as he did before; which the mignon would
not do, saying that one wife sufficed; but the said knight brought him
back to obedience by causing eel pasties to be always served to him,
both at dinner and at supper._


Many wonderful and curious adventures have occurred in England, though
their recital would be out of place amongst these tales. Nevertheless,
the present story is appropriate to be told here to increase the number
of these tales, and is of a great lord of the kingdom of England, who
was very rich and powerful, and who, amongst all his servitors, had
especial trust, confidence, and affection in a young gentleman of his
household, and that for various reasons. And because of his loyalty,
diligence, cunning, and prudence, and other good qualities he found in
him, he hid from him nothing concerning his love-affairs.

As time went on, the said young gentleman, by his cleverness, grew
so much in his master’s favour, that he not only knew his master’s
love-affairs, but acted as emissary and go-between on every occasion, as
long as his master was unmarried.

But a certain time after that, it happened that by the advice of
his relatives, friends, and well-wishers, my lord was married to a
beautiful, noble, good, and rich lady, much to the joy of many persons;
and amongst other our _mignon_ was not the least joyful, as he said to
himself that the marriage would be to his master’s welfare and honour,
and would cause him he hoped to cease from those pleasures of love which
he had hitherto practised.

One day he told the lord how glad he was that he had married a fair and
good lady, for now he would not need to have women sought for him as
before. To which my lord replied that nevertheless he did not intend
to abandon all his love-affairs, and although he was married would
sometimes employ the young man’s services.

The youth was not pleased to hear this, and replied that such amours
should cease now that his love was shared by a lady who excelled all
others in beauty, prudence, and goodness.

“Do as you please, my lord,” said he, “but, for my part, I will never
carry a message to any woman if it is to prejudice my mistress.”

“I know not what you mean by prejudice,” said his master, “but you must
prepare to go to such and such ladies. For I would have you know that
your duties will be as they were before.”

“Oh, my lord,” said the youth, “it seems that you take a pleasure in
abusing women, which is not right; for you know well that all those
you have named are not to be compared in beauty or other respects to my
lady, to whom you are offering a deadly insult if she should ever hear
of your misconduct. And what is more, you cannot be ignorant that in so
doing you damn your own soul.”

“Cease your preaching,” said my lord, “and do as I command.”

“Pardon me, my lord,” said the youth. “I would rather die than, through
my means, trouble should arise between you and my lady; and I beg of you
to be satisfied with me as I am, for certainly I will no more act as I
once used.”

My lord, who saw how obstinate the young man was, pressed him no more
at that time. But three or four days after that, without alluding to the
conversation they had had, he demanded of the young man, amongst other
things, what dish he preferred, and he replied that no dish pleased him
so much as eel pasties.

“By St. John, it is a good dish,” said his master; “you have not chosen
badly.”

That being said, my lord retired, and caused to be sent to him his
major-domo, whom he charged by his obedience that he should serve to the
young man nothing but eel pasties, whatsoever he might say or do; and
the major-domo promised to perform his commands, which he did, for on
the same day, as the said youth was seated at table in his chamber, his
servant brought unto him many fair and large eel pasties which had been
delivered to him from the kitchen,--at which he was pleased, and ate his
fill.

On the morrow it was the same, and the five or six following days he was
brought like pasties, of which he was already weary. So the youth asked
of his servants why they brought him nothing but these pasties?

“By my faith, sir,” they replied, “they will give us nothing else. We
see very well that they send to the hall and elsewhere, other meats; but
for you there is nothing but pasties.”

The young man, being wise and prudent, and caring little for his
stomach, made no complaint, and several days passed; during which he
was still served with these everlasting pies, at which he was not best
pleased.

One day he determined to go and dine with the stewards, where he was
served as before with eel pasties. And when he saw that, he could not
help asking why they served him differently to the others.

“God’s death!” quoth he, “I am so stuffed that I can eat no more. It
seems to me that I see nothing but eel pies. Let me tell you there is no
sense in it,--you carry the joke too far. For more than a month you have
played this trick upon me. I am so worn-out that I have neither health
nor strength. I do not like to be treated in this manner.”

The stewards told him that they only did as their master had bidden
them, and that it was not their own doing. The young man, wearied of
these pies, determined to complain to my lord, and ask him why he had
caused the eel pies to be always served, and forbidden the cooks to
supply any other dish.

In reply, my lord said unto him, “Did you not tell me that eel pie was
the dish that you most liked in all the world?”

“By St. John, yes, my lord,” said the youth.

“Then why do you complain now,” said my lord, “since I cause you to be
served with that which you like?”

“I like them,” replied the young man, “in moderation. I like exceedingly
to have eel pies once, or twice, or three times, or now and then, and
there is no dish I love better. But to eat it always, and nothing else
beside,--by Our Lady I will not. Any man would be sick and weary. My
stomach is so sick of eel pasties, that the moment I smell them I have
already dined. For God’s sake, my lord, command that I be given some
other food that I may recover my appetite; otherwise I am a dead man.”
 “Ah!” said my lord, “Yet it seems that you do not think I shall be a
dead man if I content myself with the charms of my wife. By my soul, you
may believe that I am as weary of them as you are of the pasties,
and would as willingly have a change,--though there is none I love
so much--as you desire another dish, though you like pasties best. In
short, you shall eat no other food until you consent to serve me as you
did before, and bring me a variety of women,--even as you would have a
variety of dishes.”

The young man, when he heard this subtle comparison, was confused, and
promised his master that he would do all that was desired, if he
could but be quit of his pasties, and would carry messages and conduct
intrigues as before. And from that time forth my lord, to spare my lady,
and by the good help of his _mignon_, passed his time with fair and
honest damsels, and the young man was relieved of his eel pasties, and
restored to his old office.


*****



STORY THE ELEVENTH -- A SACRIFICE TO THE DEVIL. [11]

By Monseigneur

_Of a jealous rogue, who after many offerings made to divers saints to
curé him of his jealousy, offered a candle to the devil who is usually
painted under the feet of St. Michael; and of the dream that he had and
what happened to him when he awoke._


A cowardly, jealous old hunks (I will not say that he was a cuckold)
knew not to whom to have recourse to be cured of his jealous grief and
misery. To-day he would make one pilgrimage, and to-morrow another,
and often would send his servants to perform his devotions and make
offerings whilst he was seated in his house to look after his wife, who
passed her time miserably with the most cursed husband and suspicious
grumbler that ever woman married.

One day, as he thought of the many offerings that he had made or was to
make to the various saints in heaven and amongst others to St. Michael,
he bethought him that he would make one to the figure that is under the
feet of the said St. Michael.

With that he commanded one of his servants to light and bring a large
wax candle, and offer it on his behalf. Soon it was reported to him that
his orders had been obeyed.

“Thus,” said he to himself, “I shall see if God or the devil can cure
me,” and in his usual ill-temper he went to bed with his good and honest
wife, and perhaps because he had so many fancies and whims in his head
that nature was restrained, she lay in peace.

In fact he slept soundly, and when he was in the depth of his sleep,
he to whom the candle had that day been offered, appeared unto him in
a vision, and thanked him for his offering, declaring that such a
sacrifice had never before been made to him. Moreover, he told the man
that he had not lost his labour, and should obtain his request, and
whilst the other lay still in deep sleep, it seemed to him that a ring
was placed on his finger, and he was told that whilst that ring was on
his finger he should never be jealous or have any cause for jealousy.

After the vision had vanished, our jealous hunks awoke, and expected to
find on his finger the said ring, and found that one of his fingers
was in the backside of his wife, at which both he and she were much
astonished.

But of the rest of the life of this jealous fool, and of his business
and condition, this story is silent.


*****


[Illustration: 12.jpg Story the Twelfth -- THE CALF.]



STORY THE TWELFTH -- THE CALF. [12]

By Monseigneur de la Roche

_Of a Dutchman, who at all hours of the day and night ceased not to
dally with his wife in love sports; and how it chanced that he laid her
down, as they went through a wood, under a great tree in which was a
labourer who had lost his calf. And as he was enumerating the charms of
his wife, and naming all the pretty things he could see, the labourer
asked him if he could not see the calf he sought, to which the Dutchman
replied that he thought he could see a tail._


In the borders of Holland there formerly lived a foolish fellow, who
determined to do the worst thing he could--that is, get married. And so
entranced was he with the joys of wedlock, that although it was winter,
he was so heated that the night--which at that season was nine or ten
hours--was not sufficiently long to enable him to appease the ardent
desires which he felt.

Wherever he met his wife he put her on her back; whether it was in the
chamber, or in the stable, or any other place, he always attacked her.
And this did not last only one or two months, but longer than I care to
tell, for it would not be convenient that many women should hear of the
zeal of this insatiable worker. What more shall I say? He performed
so often that his memory has never been forgotten, or will be, in that
country. And in truth the woman who formerly complained to the Bailli of
Amiens had not such good cause as this man’s wife, but, notwithstanding
that she could often have dispensed with this pleasant task she was
always obedient to her husband, and never restive under the spur.

It chanced one day, after dinner, when the weather was very fine, and
the sun shot its rays over the flower-embroidered earth, that the fancy
came to this man and his wife that they two would go alone to the woods,
and they started on their road.

Now, in order that you may learn my story, let me tell you that exactly
at the same time as these good folk went forth to play in the wood, it
chanced that a labourer had lost his calf, which he had put to graze in
a field at the edge of the wood; but when he came to search for his calf
he could not find it, at which he was sad at heart.

So he set out to search for the said calf both in the wood and in the
fields, and the places round about, to gather news of it.

He bethought him that perchance it might have wandered into some thicket
to graze, or to some grassy ditch which it would not leave till it had
filled its belly; and to the end that he might the better see, without
running hither and thither, whether his surmise was right, he chose the
highest and thickest tree that he could find, and climbed into it, and
when he had climbed to the top of his tree, from whence he could see all
the adjacent fields and wood, he was sure that he was half-way towards
finding his calf.

Whilst the honest fellow was casting his eyes on all sides to find
his calf, there came through the wood our man and his wife, singing,
playing, and rejoicing, as light hearts will do in a pleasant place. Nor
was it wonderful that the desire came to him to tumble his wife in such
a pleasant and suitable place, and looking now to the right now to the
left for a spot where he might conveniently take his pleasure, he saw
the big tree in which was the labourer--though he knew it not--and under
that tree he prepared to accomplish his pleasant purposes.

And when he came to that place, his desires soon inflamed him, and he
waited not to begin his work, but attacked his wife and threw her on the
ground, for at that time he was very merry and his wife also.

He would fain see her both before and behind, and for that reason took
off her dress, so that she was only in her petticoat, and that he pulled
up very high in spite of her efforts, and that he might the better see
at his ease her beauties, he turned her this way and that, and three
or four times did his strong hand fall upon her big buttocks. Then he
turned her on the other side, and as he had regarded her backside,
so did he her front, to which the good, honest woman would in no wise
consent, and besides the resistance that she made, her tongue was not
idle.

She called him “ungracious”, “a fool”, “a madman”, “disgusting”, and
many other things, but it was no good; he was stronger than she was,
and would make an inventory of all her charms, and she was forced to
let him,--preferring, like a wise woman, to please her husband, than to
annoy him by a refusal.

Having broken down all her defences, this valiant man feasted his eyes
on her front part, and, shame to say, was not content until his hands
had revealed to his eyes all the secrets for which he searched.

And as he was profoundly studying her body, he would say, “I see this!
I see that! Now again this! Now again that!” until whosoever heard him
would have thought he saw all the world and much beside. And, finally,
after a long and thorough examination, he cried, “Holy Mary! what a lot
of things I see!”

“Alas, good people,” then said the labourer in the tree; “you do not
happen to see my calf? It seems to me, sir, that I can see its tail.”

The other was much vexed and astonished, and replied quickly,

“That tail is not the tail of your calf,” and with that he walked away,
and his wife after him.

If it should be asked what moved the labourer to put that question, the
writer of this story would reply that the hair in front of this woman
was very long and thick, as is usual with the Dutch women, and he might
well have thought it was the tail of his calf, and as also her husband
was saying that he could see so many things--nearly everything there was
in the world--the labourer thought to himself that the calf could hardly
be far off, but might be hidden inside along with the other things.


*****


[Illustration: 13.jpg THE CASTRATED CLERK.]



STORY THE THIRTEENTH -- THE CASTRATED CLERK. [13]

By Monseigneur L’amant De Brucelles.

_How a lawyer’s clerk in England deceived his master making him believe
that he had no testicles, by which reason he had charge over his
mistress both in the country and in the town, and enjoyed his pleasure._


At London, in England, there formerly lived a lawyer, who, amongst his
other servitors, had a clerk who was clever, and diligent, wrote well,
and was a handsome lad, and was, moreover, let it be stated, as cunning
as any man of his age.

This gentle and lusty clerk was much smitten with his mistress,--a
beautiful, kind, and gentle dame--who so much admired him that if ever
he had but dared to reveal his affection, the god of love would have led
her to confess that he was the only man on earth who pleased her.

It chanced that once, being in a suitable place, and all fear being
laid aside, he recounted unto the said lady his sad, but not unpleasant,
case; and she by the great courtesy which God had not forgotten to give
her, being already touched as has before been said, did not long delay;
for after she had addressed to him many excuses and remonstrances, she
was glad to let him know that he pleased her well.

The other,--who was no fool--was more joyed than he had ever been, and
determined to hammer the iron while it was hot, and so warmly pursued
her, that ere long he enjoyed her love.

The love of the mistress for the clerk, and of the clerk for the
mistress, was for a long time so ardent, that never were people more
taken with each other; for not seldom did they forget to eat and drink,
and it would not have been in the power of Malbouche or Dangier (*) nor
other such cursed sprites, to have disturbed their happiness.

     (*) Allegorical personages, typifying slander and jealousy,
     mentioned in the Romaunt de la Rose.

In this joyous state and pleasant pastime, they passed many days such
as are rarely given to lovers, and so fond were they of each other, that
they would almost have renounced their share of paradise, to live in the
world in that condition.

It chanced one day they were together, talking of the great affection
they bore each other, and devising how they could safely continue to
take their pleasure without some inkling of their dangerous pastime
being known to her husband, who was as jealous as a man could be.

You may fancy that more than one idea occurred to them, which I here
pass over, but the final conclusion and supreme resolution of the good
clerk, was to vow to act carefully and bring his undertaking to a lucky
termination,--in which he failed not, and this is how he accomplished
his end.

You must know that while the clerk was on intimate and friendly terms
with his mistress, and diligently served and pleased her, he was at
the same time not less diligent to serve and please his master, that
he might the better conceal his own faults and blind the eyes of the
jealous husband, who little suspected what was being prepared for him.

One day soon after, our clerk, seeing that his master was well satisfied
with him, spoke to him when he was alone, most humbly, softly, and with
great respect, and told him that he had a great secret which he would
willingly reveal if he dared.

And, it must be told, that like women, who have tears at their command
and can shed them whenever they like, our clerk, whilst he spoke, let
fall from his eyes tears in great abundance,--which any man would have
taken to be signs of sorrow, pity, and honest purpose.

When the poor abused master heard his clerk, he was much astonished, and
said,

“What is the matter, my son, and why do you weep?”

“Alas, sir, I have much more cause than anyone else to be sorrowful,
but my case is so strange, and not the less pitiful, that it should be
hidden; nevertheless I have determined to tell you, if I can lay aside
the fear which for long has haunted me.”

“Do not weep, my son,” replied his master, “and tell me what it is, and
I assure you that if it is possible for me to aid, you I will willingly
give you all the assistance I can.”

“Master,” said the cunning clerk, “I thank you; but I have thought the
matter over, and I do not think my tongue will be able to relate the
great misfortune that I have long time borne.”

“Leave all your grief and pratings,” replied the master. “Nothing ought
to be hidden from me, as your master, and I wish to know what is the
matter; therefore come here and tell me.”

The clerk, who knew the length of his master’s foot, had to be much
entreated, and pretended to be in great fear, and shed great abundance
of tears before he would accede and say what he had to say, and then
made his master promise that he would reveal the secret to no man, for
he would rather die than have his misfortune known.

The master having given this promise, the clerk--pale, and trembling
like a man who was going to be hanged--told his story.

“My most worthy master, I know that all people, and you amongst them,
imagine that I am a natural man like any other, capable of having
connexion with a woman, and creating children; but I affirm and can
prove that I am not such--to my great sorrow, alas.”

And with these words he pulled out his member and showed his bag. He
had with much time and trouble pushed up his testicles towards his lower
belly, and so well concealed them that it seemed as though he had none.
Then he said,

“Master, you now know my misfortune, which I again beg of you not to let
be known, and, moreover, I humbly beg of you by all the services I have
ever rendered,--which would have been greater if my power had equalled
my will--that you will allow me to pass the rest of my life in some holy
monastery, where I may spend my time in the service of God, for I am of
no use in the world.”

His worthy and much-abused master discoursed unto him of the austerities
of a religious life, and how little merit there was in becoming a monk
out of grief for a misfortune, and by many other means, too numerous to
recount here, prevailed on him to renounce his intention. And you must
know, moreover, that he would on no account lose his clerk, on account
of his skill in writing, and diligence, and the use he intended to make
of him. What need to say more? He so remonstrated that the clerk, in
short, promised to remain for a further time in his service. And as the
clerk had revealed his secret, so also did the master lay bare his own
heart, and said;

“My son, I am not glad to hear of your misfortune; but in the end God
orders all things for the best, and knows what is most suitable for us.
You can in future serve me well, and merit all that is in my power to do
for you. I have a young wife, who is light-hearted and flighty, and I am
old and staid; which might give occasion to some to dishonour me and her
also, if she should prove other than chaste, and afford me matter for
jealousy, and many other things. I entrust her to you that you may watch
over her, and I beg of you to guard her so that I may have no reason to
be jealous.”

After long deliberation, the clerk gave his reply, and when he spoke,
God knows how he praised his most fair and kind mistress, saying that
she excelled all others in beauty and goodness, of that he was sure.
Nevertheless, that service or any other he would perform with all his
heart, and never leave her whatever might happen, but inform his master
of all that occurred, as a good servant should.

The master, pleased and joyful at the new guardian he had found for his
wife, left the house, and went to the town to do his business. And the
good clerk at once entered upon his duties, and, as much as they dared,
employed the members with which they were provided, and made great cheer
over the subtle manner in which the husband had been deceived. For a
long period did they continue thus to enjoy themselves; and if at any
time the good husband was forced to go abroad, he took care to leave
his clerk behind; rather would he borrow a servant from one of his
neighbours than not leave the clerk to mind house. And if the lady
had leave to go on any pilgrimage, she would rather go without her
tire-woman than without the kind and obliging clerk.

In short, as you may suppose, never could clerk boast of a more lucky
adventure, and which--so far as I know--never came to the knowledge of
the husband, who would have been overcome with grief had he learned of
the trick.


*****


[Illustration: 14.jpg THE POPE-MAKER, OR THE HOLY MAN.]



STORY THE FOURTEENTH -- THE POPE-MAKER, OR THE HOLY MAN. [14]

By Monseigneur de Crequy

_Of a hermit who deceived the daughter of a poor woman, making her
believe that her daughter should have a son by him who should become
Pope; and how, when she brought forth it was a girl, and thus was the
trickery of the hermit discovered, and for that cause he had to flee
from that countery._


The borders of Burgundy furnish many adventures worthy to be written and
remembered, and have provided the present story, not to speak of many
others which could be related. I will here only speak of an adventure
which happened formerly in a big village on the river Ousche.

There was, and is still, a mountain near, on which a hermit--of
God knows what sort--made his residence, and who under the cloak of
hypocrisy did many strange things, which did not come to the knowledge
of the common people until the time when God would no longer suffer his
most damnable abuses to continue.

This holy hermit was during all his life as lewd and mischievous as an
old ape, but surpassed all ordinary mortals in cunning. And this is what
he did.

He sought amongst all the women and pretty girls the one most worthy to
be loved and desired, and resolved that it was the daughter of a poor,
simple woman,--a widow who was very devout and charitable--and made up
his mind that, if he could have his way, she should become his prey.

One night, about midnight, when the weather was very rough and stormy,
he descended from the mountain and came to the village, and passing by
bye-roads and footpaths, came to where the mother and daughter lived,
without being seen or heard. He knew the house, which was not large, and
to which he had often been for devotional purposes.

He bored a hole in a part of the wall not exposed, and near the spot
where stood the bed of the simple widow woman, and passing a long,
hollow stick, with which he was provided, and without awaking the widow,
placed it near her ear, and said in a low voiced three times,

“Hear my voice, woman of God. I am an angel of the Creator, and have
been sent to you to announce that for your many good deeds which you
have performed there shall issue from your seed, that is your daughter,
one who shall unite, reform, and restore his bride the Church. And it
shall be in this manner. Thou shalt go to the mountain, to the holy
hermit, and take thy daughter, and relate to him at length that which
God now commands you by me. He shall know thy daughter, and from them
shall spring a son, the elect of God, and destined to fill the Holy Seat
of Rome, who shall do such good deeds that he may fitly be compared to
St. Peter and St. Paul. Hearken to my voice! Obey God!”

The foolish widow, much astonished and surprised, and half ravished with
delight, really believed that God had sent this messenger. She vowed to
herself that she would not disobey, and it was long ere she slept again,
and then not very soundly, so greatly did she desire and await the day.

Meanwhile the good hermit returned to his hermitage in the mountain. The
much-desired day at last dawned, and the sun pierced into the chamber of
the said widow, and both mother and daughter rose in great haste.

When they were up and dressed, and their little household set in order,
the mother asked her daughter if she had heard anything in the night.

The daughter replied, “No, mother; nothing.”

“It was not to you,” said the mother, “that the message was first
delivered, albeit it concerns you greatly.”

Then she related at length the angel’s message which God had sent her,
and asked her what she should reply thereto?

The girl, who was like her mother, simple and devout, replied; “Praise
be to God. Whatever pleases you, mother, shall be done.”

“That is well spoken,” replied the mother. “Let us go to the mountain to
the holy man, as the angel bade us.”

The hermit was on the watch to see whether the foolish woman would bring
her innocent daughter, and beheld them coming. He left his door half
open, and knelt down in prayer in his chamber, in order that he might be
found at his devotions.

It happened as he wished, for the good woman and her daughter, when they
saw the door open, entered at once; and when they beheld the hermit in
holy contemplation, as though he had been a god, they did homage to him.

The hermit, with his eyes bent down to the earth, said in a humble
voice; “God save you both.”

Then the poor, old woman, anxious that he should know the cause of her
coming, took him on one side, and told him from beginning to end the
story--which he knew better than she did. And as she related the tale
with great veneration and respect, the hermit folded his hands and
turned up his eyes to heaven, and the good old woman wept, more for joy
than for grief; and the poor girl also wept when she saw this good and
holy hermit pray with such deep devotion she did not know why.

When the story was finished, the old woman awaited the reply, which he
did not hasten to give. But after a certain time he spoke, and said,

“Praise be to God! But, my dear friend, are you really sure that the
message you say you heard, may not have been some fancy or illusion
created by your own heart? The matter is a serious one.”

“I certainly heard the voice, father, which brought me this joyful
message, as plainly as I now hear you, and I do not think I was asleep.”

“Well,” said he, “I should be unwilling to act against the wishes of my
Creator; but it seems best to me that you and I should again sleep upon
this matter, and if the angel should appear to you again, come back and
tell me, and God will give us good counsel. We should not believe too
readily, good mother. The devil, who is always envious of the good, has
many tricks, and can change himself into an angel of light. Believe me,
mother, it is no light thing you ask of me, and it is no marvel if I
seem to hesitate. Have I not sworn before God, a vow of chastity? And
here you bring me word that I am to break my oath! Return to your house
and pray to God, and to-morrow we shall see what will happen. God be
with you.”

After much discussion, they left the hermit and returned home
thoughtfully.

To cut the story short, our hermit, at the accustomed time set forth,
carrying a hollow stick instead of a staff, and putting it near the
pillow of the foolish woman, delivered much the same message as on the
previous night; and that being done, returned at once to his hermitage.

The good woman, filled with joy, rose early and related all the story
to her daughter, showing how the vision of the previous night had been
confirmed. “There is no time to be lost! We must go to the holy man!”

They went, and he saw them coming, and took his breviary and acted the
hypocrite as before, but God knows he was not thinking of his devotions.
And just as he had finished, and was about to recommence, there were the
two women in front of his hut saluting him, and you may fancy that the
old lady hurried through her narration; whereupon the good man made the
sign of the cross, and feigning great surprise, said,

“Oh God! my Creator! What is this? Do with me as you will--though, if
it were not for thy great grace, I am not worthy to perform such a great
work!”

“But see, father!” said the much-abused and deceived woman: “the message
is true, since the angel has again appeared unto me.”

“In truth, my dear friend, this matter is of great importance and very
difficult and strange, so that I yet can give but a doubtful reply.
Not that I would tempt God by demanding another vision, but there is a
saying ‘The third time is sure’. Therefore I beg and desire of you to
let pass this night also, and await the pleasure of God, and if of His
great mercy it please Him to show us also this night as on the previous
nights, we will do as He bids us to His praise.”

It was not with a good grace that the foolish old woman was induced to
put off this act of obedience to God, but she knew the hermit was wiser
than she was.

When she was in bed, and thinking over all these marvellous visions,
this perverse hypocrite came down from his mountain, placed his hollow
stick to her ear, as before, and commanded her, once for all, to
obey the message and take her daughter to the hermit for the purpose
mentioned.

She did not forget, as soon as it was day, to do her duty, and when
she and her daughter had given thanks to God, they set out for the
hermitage, where the hermit came forth to meet them, and saluted and
blessed them in the name of God.

The good woman, more joyous than ever, informed him of the last vision.
The hermit took her by the hand and led her into the chapel, and
the girl followed them. There they made most devout prayers to the
all-powerful God who had vouchsafed to show them this mystery.

Then the hermit delivered a short sermon, touching dreams, visions,
apparitions, and revelations, which often come to certain people, and
alluded to the cause for which they were there assembled, and God knows
that he preached well and righteously.

“Since God willed and commanded that he should create a successor to the
Pope, and had deigned to reveal His will not once or twice, but three
times, he must needs believe and conclude that great results must follow
from this deed. It is my opinion,” he concluded, “that we should no
longer defer the execution of His orders, seeing that we have already
delayed so long, through refusing to believe in this holy vision.”

“That is well said, father. What would it please you to do?” replied the
old woman.

“You will leave your fair daughter here,” said the hermit, “and she and
I will pray together, and moreover do whatever God shall teach us.”

The good widow was much pleased, and her daughter was content to obey.
When the hermit found himself alone with the damsel, he made her strip
entirely as though he would baptise her, and you may fancy that the
hermit did not long remain dressed. But why make a long story? He lay
with her so long, and so often repeated it both in his cell and at her
home, that at last she could not leave the house for shame, for her
belly began to swell,--at which you need not be told she was overjoyed.

But if the daughter rejoiced to find herself pregnant, the mother
rejoiced a hundred times more, and the hypocritical hermit also
pretended to rejoice at the news, though inwardly he was bitterly vexed.

The poor credulous mother, really believing that her daughter would
bring forth a son who should in due time be Pope of Rome, could not
help relating the story to one of her intimate friends, who was as
much astonished as though she had found horns growing on her head, but,
nevertheless, suspected no trickery.

Ere long the neighbour had told the other male and female neighbours,
how the daughter of such an one was pregnant by the holy hermit of a son
who was to be Pope of Rome.

“And what I tell you,” she said, “the mother of the girl told me, and
God revealed it to her.”

The news soon spread through all the neighbouring towns. Soon afterwards
the girl was brought to bed, and duly delivered of a female child, at
which she and her foolish mother were both astonished and angry, and
the neighbours also, who expected the holy hermit to have been there to
receive the child.

The report spread quite as quickly as the previous one, and the hermit
was one of the first to hear of it, and quickly fled into another
country--I know not where--to deceive another woman or girl, or perhaps
into the desert of Egypt to perform penance, with a contrite heart, for
his sin. However that may be, the poor girl was dishonoured; which was a
great pity, for she was fair, good, and amiable.


*****



STORY THE FIFTEENTH -- THE CLEVER NUN.

By Monseigneur De La Roche

_Of a nun whom a monk wished to deceive, and how he offered to shoo her
his weapon that she might feel it, but brought with him a companion whom
he put forward in his place, and of the answer she gave him._

In the fair country of Brabant, near to a monastery of white monks (*),
is situated a nunnery of devout and charitable nuns, but their name and
order need not be mentioned.

     (*) Either Carthusians, who wear white robes and hoods, or
     Dominicans who wear white robes and black hoods.

The two convents being close together, there was always a barn for
the threshers, as the saying is, for, thank God, the nuns were so
kind-hearted that few who sought amorous intercourse with them were
refused, provided only they were worthy to receive their favours.

But, to come to the story, there was amongst these white monks, a young
and handsome monk who fell in love with one of the nuns, and after some
preliminaries, had the courage to ask her for the love of God to grant
him her favours.

The nun, who knew how he was furnished, though she was by nature
courteous, gave him a harsh and sharp reply. He was not to be rebuffed,
however, but continued to implore her love with most humble requests,
until the pretty nun was forced either to lose her reputation for
courtesy, or give the monk what she had granted to many others as soon
as she was asked.

She said to him; “Truly you weary me with requests for that which
honestly I ought not to give you. But I have heard what sort of weapon
you carry, and if it be so you have not much to thank Nature for.”

“I do not know who told you,” replied the monk, “but I am sure that you
will be satisfied with me, and I will prove to you that I am as good a
man as any other.”

“Oh, yes. I believe you are a man,” said she “but your machine is so
small that if you were to put it in a certain place, I should hardly
know that it was there.”

“It is quite the reverse,” said the monk, “and, if I were in that place,
I would do so well that you would confess that those who gave me that
reputation were liars.”

After these fair speeches, the kind nun, that she might know what he
could do, and perhaps not forgetting her own share in the pleasure, told
him to come to the window of her cell at midnight; for which favour he
thanked her gratefully.

“But at any rate,” said she, “you shall not enter until I really know
what sort of lance you carry, and whether you can be of use to me or
not.”

“As you please,” replied the monk, and with that he quitted his
mistress, and went straight to Brother Conrad, one of his companions,
who was furnished, God knows how well, and for that reason was much
esteemed in the nunnery.

To him the young monk related how he had begged a favour of such an one,
and how she had refused, doubting whether his foot would fit her shoe,
but in the end had consented that he should come to her, but would
first feel and know with what sort of lance he would charge against her
shield.

“I have not,” said he, “a fine thick lance, such as I know she would
desire to meet. Therefore I beg of you with all my heart, to come with
me this night at the hour when I am to meet her, and you will do me the
greatest service that ever one man did to another. I know very well that
she will want to touch and handle the lance, and this is what you must
do. You will be behind me; but do not speak. Then take my place, and put
your great machine in her hand. She will open the door then, I expect,
and you will go away and I will enter in,--and leave the rest to me.”

Brother Conrad greatly doubted whether it would happen as his friend
wished, but he agreed to do as he was asked. At the appointed hour they
set forth to visit the nun. When they came to the window, the young
monk, who was more eager than a stallion, knocked once with his stick,
and the nun did not wait for him to knock a second time, but opened the
window, and said in a low voice;

“Who is there?”

“It is I,” he replied; “Open your door, lest anyone should hear us.”

“By my faith,” quoth she, “you shall not be entered on the roll of my
lovers, until you have passed a review, and I know what equipments you
have. Come hither, and show me what it is like.”

“Willingly,” said he.

Then Brother Conrad took his place, and slipped into the nun’s hand his
fine, powerful weapon, which was thick, long, and round. But as soon as
she felt it she recognized it, and said;

“No! No! I know that well enough. That is the lance of Brother Conrad.
There is not a nun here who does not know it! You thought I should be
deceived, but I know too much for you! Go and try your luck elsewhere!”

And with that she closed the window, being very angry and ill-pleased,
not with Brother Conrad, but with the other monk; and they after this
adventure, returned to their convent, pondering over all that had
happened.


*****


[Illustration: 16.jpg ON THE BLIND SIDE.]



STORY THE SIXTEENTH -- ON THE BLIND SIDE. [16]

By Monseigneur Le Duc.

_Of a knight of Picardy who went to Prussia, and, meanwhile his lady
took a lover, and was in bed with him when her husband returned; and how
by a cunning trick she got her lover out of the room without the knight
being aware of it._

In the County of Artois there lived formerly a noble knight, rich and
powerful, and married to a beautiful dame of high family. These two
lived together for long, and passed their days in peace and happiness.
And because the most powerful Duke of Burgundy, Count of Artois, and
their lord, was then at peace with all the great princes of Christendom,
the knight, who was most devout, reflected that he ought to offer to God
the body which had been given him, and which was fair and strong, and as
well-formed as that of any man in that country, save that he had lost
an eye in a battle. To perform the vow he had made,--after he had taken
leave of his wife and relatives, he betook himself to the noble knights
of Prussia,--the true defenders of the holy-Christian church (*); and in
Prussia he fought valiantly and had many adventures--which I pass over
here--and at the end was safe and sound, though he had shown great
prowess, and the reports of his valour had been widely spread about by
those who had seen them and returned to their own country, or by the
letters they had written to many who had heard of his deeds with much
pleasure.

     (*) Doubtless there was a confusion In the writer’s mind
     between Prussia and Hungary, and he alludes to the Crusade
     against the Turks which ended disastrously for the Crusaders
     in 1396, and in which Jean sans Peur and many Burgundian
     knights took part.

Now you must know that his lady, who stayed at home, had bestowed
her affection on a squire who sought her love, and was glad to have a
substitute for her liege lord, who was away fighting the Saracens.

Whilst my lord was fasting and doing penance, my lady made good cheer
with the squire; often did my lord dine and sup on bread and water,
whilst my lady was enjoying all the good things which God had given her
in plenty; my lord,--if he could do no better,--lay upon straw, and my
lady rested in a fine bed with the squire.

To cut matters short, whilst my lord was fighting the Saracens, my lady
was indulging in another sort of combat with the squire, and did so well
thereat, that if my lord had never returned he would not have been much
missed or regretted.

The knight finding that--thanks be to God--the Saracens were no longer
on the offensive; and that it was a long time since he had seen his
home, and his good wife, who much desired and regretted him, as she had
many times told him in her letters, prepared to return, and started
with the few retainers he had. And he fared so well, owing to the great
desire he had to return to his home, and the arms of his wife, that in a
few days he was near there.

Being more anxious than any of his followers, he was always the first to
rise, and the foremost on the journey. In fact, he made such speed
that he often rode alone, a quarter of a league or more ahead of his
retainers.

One day, it chanced the knight had lodged about six leagues from his
home. He rose early in the morning and mounted his horse, intending to
arrive at his house before his wife, who knew nothing of his coming, was
awake.

He set out as he intended, and, when on the road, he said to his
followers, “Come at your leisure; there is no need for you to follow me.
I will ride on fast that I may surprise my wife in bed.”

His retainers being weary, and their horses also, did not oppose his
wishes, but travelled along at their ease, though they had some fears
for the knight, who rode thus fast in the dark and alone.

He made such speed that soon he was in the courtyard of his castle,
where he found a serving-man, to whom he gave his horse; then, in his
boots and spurs, he went straight, and without meeting any one, for it
was yet early in the morning, towards the chamber where my lady slept,
and where the squire was doing that which the knight longed to do.

You may guess that the squire and the lady were both astonished when the
knight thundered on the door--which was locked--with his staff.

“Who is there?” asked the lady.

“It is I,” replied the knight. “Open the door!”

The lady, who knew her husband’s voice, did not feel comfortable;
nevertheless she caused the squire to dress himself which he did as
quickly as he could, wondering how he should escape from his dangerous
position. She meanwhile pretended to be asleep, and not recognise her
husband’s voice, and when he knocked at the door a second time, she
asked again, “Who is there?” “It is your husband, wife! Open the door
quickly!”

“My husband?” said she. “Alas, he is far from here! May God soon bring
him back in safety.”

“By my soul, wife, I am your husband! Did you not know my voice? I knew
yours as soon as I heard you speak.”

“When he does come, I shall know of it long beforehand, that I may
receive him as I ought, and that I may call together his relations
and friends to wish him a hearty welcome. Go away! Go away! and let me
sleep!”

“By St. John I will take care you do not! Open the door! Do you not know
your own husband?” and with that he called her by her name.

She saw that her lover was by that time quite ready, and made him stand
behind the door. Then she said to the knight.

“Is it really you? For God’s sake pardon me! And are you in good
health?”

“Yes; thank God,” said the knight.

“God be praised!” said the lady. “I will come directly and let you in;
but I am not dressed, and must get a candle.”

“Take your time!” said the knight.

“Truly,” said the lady, “just as you knocked, my lord, I was much
disturbed by a dream I had about you.”

“And what was that, my dear?”

“Faith, my lord! I dreamed that you came back, and talked with me, and
that you saw as well with one eye as with the other.

“Would to God it were so,” said my lord.

“By our Lady,” said his wife, “I believe it is as I say.”

“By my word”, replied the knight, “you are very foolish. How could it be
so?”

“I maintain,” said she, “that it is so.”

“There is nothing of the kind,” said the knight. “You must be mad to
think so.”

“Ah, my lord,” she replied, “you will never make me believe it is not as
I say, and, to set my mind at rest, I ask of you to give me a proof.”

Thereupon she opened the door, holding a lighted candle in her hand, and
he, not displeased at her words, permitted her to make trial, and thus
the poor man allowed her to cover up his eye with her one hand, whilst
with the other she held the candle before his blind eye. Then she said;

“My lord! on your oath, can you not see well?”

“I swear I cannot,” said my lord.

Whilst this trick was being played, my lord’s substitute stole out of
the chamber without being perceived by him.

“Wait a moment, my lord,” said she. “_Now_ cannot you see well? Tell me
the truth!”

“No, by God, my dear,” replied the knight. “How should I see? You have
stopped up my right eye, and the other I lost more than ten years ago.”

“Then,” said she, “I see it was but an idle, foolish dream; but, be that
as it may, God be praised and thanked that you are here.”

“Amen,” said the knight, and with that he kissed and embraced her many
times, and they rejoiced greatly.

And my lord did not forget to tell her how he had left his retainers
behind, and what speed he had made that he might find her in bed.

“Truly,” said my lady, “you are a good husband.”

And with that there came women and other servants, who took off the
knight’s armour, and undressed him. That being done, he got into bed
with the lady, and enjoyed what the squire had left--who, for his part,
meanwhile went his way, happy and joyful to have escaped.

Thus was the knight deceived, as you have heard; nor was he ever
informed of it that I am aware, though it was known to many people.


*****


[Illustration: 17.jpg THE LAWYER AND THE BOLTING-MILL.]



STORY THE SEVENTEENTH -- THE LAWYER AND THE BOLTING-MILL.

By Monseigneur Le Duc.

_Of a President of Parliament, who fell in love with his chamber-maid,
and would have forced her whilst she was sifting flour, but by fair
speaking she dissuaded him, and made him shake the sieve whilst she
went unto her mistress, who came and found her husband thus, as you will
afterwards hear._

There lived formerly at Paris a President of the Court of Accounts, who
was a learned clerk, a knight, and a man of ripe age, but right joyous
and pleasant to both men and women.

This worthy lord had married a woman who was both elderly and sickly,
and by her had divers children. And amongst the other damsels, waiting
women, and servant maids in his house, was a serving-wench whom nature
had made most fair, and who did the household work; made the beds,
baked the bread, and did other low offices. The gentleman, who made
love whenever he found a chance, did not conceal from the fair wench his
intentions towards her, and made attempts upon her virtue, promising her
many rich gifts, and explaining to her that it was her duty to let him
have his way, and trying first this way and then that to seduce her. But
he was grieved to find that he could not induce her to return his love.
The girl was wise and chaste, and not so foolish as to grant her master
any favour, but spoke him so fairly that he did not lose heart, though
he would have preferred a different kind of answer.

When he found that kindness was of no use, he tried harshness and rough
words, but the wench was not frightened, and told him that, “He might
do as he pleased, but whilst she had life she would never let him near
her.”

The gentleman, seeing that her mind was fully made-up, spake no more
to her for some days, but spared not loving looks and signs; which much
annoyed her, and if she had not feared to make discord between husband
and wife, she would have told the latter how unfaithful her spouse was,
but, in the end, she resolved to conceal this as long as she could.

The infatuation of the old man increased every day, and begging and
praying no longer sufficed. He went to her and renewed his entreaties
and vows, which he confirmed by a hundred thousand oaths. But--to cut
matters short--it was all no good; he could not obtain a single word, or
the least shadow of hope, that he would ever attain his purpose.

Thereupon he left her, but he did not forget to say that if ever he
found a favourable opportunity she would have to comply with his wishes,
or it would be the worse for her.

The wench was not much frightened, thought no more of it, and went about
her duties as usual.

Some time afterwards, one Monday morning, the pretty servant, having
some pies to make, was sifting meal. Now you must know that the room
where she was thus engaged, was not far from her master’s bedroom, and
he heard the noise of the sieve, and knew very well that it was made by
the servant-girl at her work.

He thought that perhaps she was not alone, but, if she should be, he
would never find a better chance.

He said to himself, “Though she has often refused me by word of mouth, I
shall succeed at last if I only keep to my purpose.”

It was early dawn, and his wife was not awake, at which he was glad. He
stole quietly out of bed; put on his dressing-gown and his slippers, and
crept to the damsel’s room so quietly that she never knew he was there
until she saw him.

The poor girl was much astonished, and trembled; suspecting that her
master had come to take that which she would never give him.

Seeing she was frightened, he said nothing but attacked her with such
violence that he would soon have taken the place by storm if she had not
sued for peace. She said to him;

“Alas, sir, I beg for mercy! My life and honour are in your hands;--have
pity on me!”

“I care nothing about honour,” said her master, who was very hot and
excited. “You are in my hands and cannot escape me,” and with that he
attacked her more violently than before.

The girl, finding resistance was useless, bethought herself of a
stratagem, and said,

“Sir, I prefer to surrender of free-will than by force. Leave me alone,
and I will do all that you may require.”

“Very well,” said her master, “but be sure that I will not let you go
free.”

“There is but one thing I would beg of you, sir” replied the girl.
“I greatly fear that my mistress may hear you; and if, by chance, she
should come and find you here, I should be lost and ruined, for she
would either beat me or kill me.”

“She is not likely to come,” said he, “she is sleeping soundly.”

“Alas, sir, I am in great fear of her and, as I would be assured, I beg
and request of you, for my peace of mind and our greater security in
what we are about to do, that you let me go and see whether she is
sleeping, or what she is doing.”

“By our Lady! you would never return,” said the gentleman.

“I swear that I will,” she replied, “and that speedily.”

“Very good then,” said he. “Make haste!”

“Ah, sir,” said she. “It would be well that you should take this sieve
and work as I was doing; so that if my lady should by chance awake, she
will hear the noise and know that I am at work.”

“Give it to me, and I will work well;--but do not stay long.”

“Oh, no, sir. Hold this sieve, and you will look like a woman.”

“As to that, God knows I care not,” said he, and with that laid hold of
the sieve and began to work it as best he could.

Meanwhile the virtuous wench mounted to her lady’s room and woke her,
and told her how her husband had attempted her virtue, and attacked her
whilst she was sifting meal, “And if it please you to come and see how I
escaped him,” she said, “come down with me and behold him.”

The lady rose at once, put on her dress, and was soon before the door
of the room where her lord was diligently sifting. And when she saw him
thus employed, and struggling with the sieve, she said to him;

“Ah, master, what is this? Where are now all your learning, your honour,
your knowledge and prudence?”

He saw that he had been deceived, and replied quickly.

“Wife, they are all collected at the end of my c--k.”, and with that,
being much annoyed and angry, he threw down the sieve and went back to
his room.

His wife followed him, and began to lecture him again, but he paid
little heed. When he was ready, he ordered his mule, and went to the
palace, where he related his adventure to divers gentlemen, who laughed
loudly thereat. And, although he was at first angry with the wench,
he afterwards helped her, by his influence and rich gifts, to find a
husband.


*****


[Illustration: 18.jpg FROM BELLY TO BACK.]



STORY THE EIGHTEENTH -- FROM BELLY TO BACK. [18]

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a gentleman of Burgundy who paid a chambermaid ten crowns to sleep
with her, but before he left her room, had his ten crowns back, and
made her carry him on her shoulders through the host’s chamber. And in
passing by the said chamber he let wind so loudly that all was known, as
you will hear in the story which follows._

A gentleman of Burgundy went on some business to Paris, and lodged at a
good inn, for it was his custom always to seek out the best lodgings. He
knew a thing or two, and he noticed that the chambermaid did not look a
sort of woman who was afraid of a man. So, without much ado, or making
two bites at a cherry, he asked if he could sleep with her?

But she set her back up at once. “How dare you make such a proposal
to me,” she said. “I would have you to know that I am not one of those
girls who bring scandal upon the houses in which they live.” And in
short, for all he could say she refused to have anything to do with him
“for any money.”

The gentleman who knew well what all these protestations were worth,
said to her;

“My dear, if fitting time and place were given me, I would tell you
something you would be glad to learn; but as, perhaps, it might hurt
your reputation if you were seen conversing with me, talk to my valet,
and he will arrange matters on my behalf.”

“I have nothing to say either to him or to you,” she replied, and with
that she walked away, and the gentleman called his valet, who was a
clever rogue, and ordered him to follow her and win her over at any
cost.

The valet, who was well trained, promised that he would perform his
task, and, as soon as he found her, set to work to employ honied
phrases, and if she had not been of Paris, and not the least cunning of
the women of that city, his soft speeches and the promises he made on
behalf of his master, would soon have gained her heart.

But as it was, after much talk between them, she cut matters short by
saying;

“I know well what your master wants, but he shall not touch me unless I
have ten crowns.”

The servant reported this to his master, who was not so generous, or
at least not in such a case, as to give ten crowns to enjoy a kitchen
wench.

“Be that as it may,” replied the valet, “she will not budge from that;
and even then you must use precautions in going to her chamber, for you
must pass through that of the host. What do you intend to do?”

“By my oath!” said his master, “I regret sorely having to pay ten
crowns, but I am so smitten with the wench that I cannot give her up. To
the devil with avarice! she shall have the money.”

“Shall I tell her then you will give her the money?”

“Yes, in the devil’s name! Yes!”

The valet found the girl, and told her she should have the money, and
perhaps something more.

“Very good,” she replied.

To cut matters short, a time was arranged for the gentleman to come to
her, but, before she would show him the way to her room, she insisted on
the ten crowns being paid down.

The Burgundian was not over-pleased, and as he was on the way to her
chamber, it struck him that he was paying dearly for his amusement, and
he resolved that he would play her a trick.

He stole into her room so quietly that neither the host nor his wife
awaked. There he undressed, and said to himself that he would at least
have his money’s worth. He did marvels, and got as good as he sent.

What with jesting and other matters, the hours passed quickly, and dawn
was near. He was then more willing to sleep than to do anything else,
but the fair chambermaid said to him;

“Sir, I have heard and seen so much of your nobleness, honour, and
courtesy that I have consented to allow you to take that which I hold
dearest in all the world. I now beg and request of you that you will
at once dress and hasten away, for it is now day, and if by chance my
master or mistress should come here, as is often their custom in the
morning, and should find you here, I should be dishonoured, nor would it
do you any good.”

“I care not,” quoth he, “what good or evil may happen, but here I will
remain, and sleep at my ease and leisure before I leave. I am entitled
to that for my money. Do you think you have so easily earned my ten
crowns? You took them quickly enough. By St. George! I have no fear; but
I will stay here and you shall bear me company, if you please.”

“Oh, sir,” she replied, “by my soul I cannot do this. You must leave. It
will be full day directly, and if you are found here what will become of
me? I would rather die than that should happen; and if you do not make
haste I much fear some one will come.”

“Let them come,” said the gentleman. “I care not, but, I tell you
plainly, that until you give me back my ten crowns, I will not leave
here, happen what may.”

“Your ten crowns?” she answered. “Are you a man of that sort, and so
devoid of any courtesy or grace as to take back from me in that fashion,
that which you have given? By my faith that is not the way to prove
yourself a gentleman.”

“Whatever I am,” said he, “I will not leave here, or shall you either,
until you have given me back my ten crowns; you gained them too easily.”

“May God help me,” she replied, “though you speak thus I do not believe
you would be so ungrateful, after the pleasure I have given you, or so
discorteous, as not to aid me to preserve my honour, and therefore I beg
of you to grant my request, and leave here.”

The gentleman said that he would do nothing of the sort, and in the
end the poor girl was forced--though God knows with what regret--to
hand-over the ten crowns in order to make him go. When the money had
returned to the hand that gave it, the girl was very angry, but the man
was in great glee.

“Now,” said the girl, angrily, “that you have thus tricked and deceived
me, at least make haste. Let it suffice that you have made a fool of me,
and do not by delay bring dishonour upon me by being seen here.”

“I have nothing to do with your honour,” said he. “Keep it as much as
like, but you brought me here and you must take me back to the place
from whence I came, for I do not intend to have the double trouble of
coming and returning.”

The chambermaid, seeing that she only made him more obstinate, and that
day was breaking fast, took the gentleman on her back, and though sick
at heart with fear and anger, began to carry him. And as she was picking
her way carefully and noiselessly, this courteous gentleman, who after
having ridden on her belly was now riding on her back, broke wind so
loudly that the host awoke, and called out in his fright;

“Who is there?”

“It is your chambermaid,” said the gentleman, “who is taking me back to
the place from whence she brought me.”

At these words the poor girl’s heart and strength failed her. She could
no longer bear her unpleasant burden, and she fell on the floor and
rolled one way, whilst the squire went rolling the other.

The host, who knew what was the matter, spoke sharply to the girl, who
soon afterwards left his house; and the gentleman returned to Burgundy,
where he often gleefully related to his gallant companions the above
written adventure.


*****



STORY THE NINETEENTH -- THE CHILD OF THE SNOW. [19]

By Philippe Vignier.

_Of an English merchant whose wife had a child in his absence, and told
him that it was his; and how he cleverly got rid of the child--for his
wife having asserted that it was born of the snow, he declared it had
been melted by the sun._

Moved by a strong desire to see and know foreign countries, and to meet
with adventures, a worthy and rich merchant of London left his fair and
good wife, his children, relations, friends, estates, and the greater
part of his possessions, and quitted the kingdom, well furnished with
money and great abundance of merchandise, such as England can supply
to foreign countries, and with many other things which, for the sake of
brevity, I do not mention here.

On this first voyage, the good merchant wandered about for a space of
five years, during which time his good wife looked after his property,
disposed of much merchandise profitably, and managed so well that her
husband, when he returned at the end of five years, greatly praised her,
and loved her more than ever.

The merchant, not content with the many strange and wonderful things
he had seen, or with the large fortune he had made, four or five months
after his return, again set forth in quest of adventures in foreign
lands, both Christian and pagan, and stayed there so long that ten years
passed before his wife again saw him, but he often wrote to her, that
she might know that he was still alive.

She was young and lusty, and wanted not any of the goods that God could
give, except the presence of her husband. His long absence constrained
her to provide herself with a lover, by whom shortly she had a fine boy.

This son was nourished and brought up with the others, his
half-brothers, and, when the merchant returned, was about seven years
old.

Great were the rejoicings between husband and wife when he came back,
and whilst they were conversing pleasantly, the good woman, at the
demand of her husband, caused to be brought all their children, not
omitting the one who had been born during the absence of him whose name
she bore.

The worthy merchant seeing all these children, and remembering perfectly
how many there should be, found one over and above; at which he was much
astonished and surprised, and he inquired of his wife who was this fair
son, the youngest of their children?

“Who is he?” said she; “On my word, husband, he is our son! Who else
should he be?”

“I do not know,” he replied, “but, as I have never seen him before, is
it strange that I should ask?”

“No, by St. John,” said she; “but he is our son.”

“How can that be?” said her husband. “You were not pregnant when I
left.”

“Truly I was not, so far as I know,” she replied, “but I can swear that
the child is yours, and that no other man but you has ever lain with
me.”

“I never said so,” he answered, “but, at any rate, it is ten years since
I left, and this child does not appear more than seven. How then can it
be mine? Did you carry him longer than you did the others?”

“By my oath, I know not!” she said; “but what I tell you is true.
Whether I carried it longer than the others I know not, and if you
did not make it before you left, I do not know how it could have come,
unless it was that, not long after your departure, I was one day in our
garden, when suddenly there came upon me a longing and desire to eat
a leaf of sorrel, which at that time was thickly covered with snow. I
chose a large and fine leaf, as I thought, and ate it, but it was only
a white and hard piece of snow. And no sooner had I eaten it than I
felt myself to be in the same condition as I was before each of my other
children was born. In fact, a certain time afterwards, I bore you this
fair son.”

The merchant saw at once that he was being fooled, but he pretended to
believe the story his wife had told him, and replied;

“My dear, though what you tell me is hardly possible, and has never
happened to anyone else, let God be praised for what He has sent us. If
He has given us a child by a miracle, or by some secret method of which
we are ignorant, He has not forgotten to provide us with the wherewithal
to keep it.”

When the good woman saw that her husband was willing to believe the tale
she told him, she was greatly pleased. The merchant, who was both wise
and prudent, stayed at home the next ten years, without making any other
voyages, and in all that time breathed not a word to his wife to make
her suspect he knew aught of her doings, so virtuous and patient was he.

But he was not yet tired of travelling, and wished to begin again. He
told his wife, who was very dissatisfied thereat.

“Be at ease,” he said, “and, if God and St. George so will, I will
return shortly. And as our son, who was born during my last voyage, is
now grown up, and capable of seeing and learning, I will, if it seem
good to you, take him with me.”

“On my word”, said she “I hope you will, and you will do well.”

“It shall be done,” he said, and thereupon he started, and took with him
the young man, of whom he was not the father, and for whom he felt no
affection.

They had a good wind, and came to the port of Alexandria, where the good
merchant sold the greater part of his merchandise very well. But he was
not so foolish as to keep at his charge a child his wife had had by
some other man, and who, after his death, would inherit like the other
children, so he sold the youth as a slave, for good money paid down, and
as the lad was young and strong, nearly a hundred ducats was paid for
him.

When this was done, the merchant returned to London, safe and sound,
thank God. And it need not be told how pleased his wife was to see him
in good health, but when she saw her son was not there, she knew not
what to think.

She could not conceal her feelings, and asked her husband what had
become of their son?

“Ah, my dear,” said he, “I will not conceal from you that a great
misfortune has befallen him.”

“Alas, what?” she asked. “Is he drowned?”

“No; but the truth is that the wind and waves wafted us to a country
that was so hot that we nearly died from the great heat of the sun. And
one day when we had all left the ship, in order that we each might dig a
hole in which to shield ourselves from the heat,--our dear son, who, as
you know was made of snow, began to melt in the sun, and in our presence
was turned into water, and ere you could have said one of the seven
psalms, there was nothing left of him. Thus strangely did he come
into the world, and thus suddenly did he leave it. I both was, and
am, greatly vexed, and not one of all the marvels I have ever seen
astonished me so greatly.”

“Well!” said she. “Since it has pleased God to give and to take away,
His name be praised.”

As to whether she suspected anything or not, the history is silent and
makes no mention, but perhaps she learned that her husband was not to be
hood-winked.


*****


[Illustration: 20.jpg THE HUSBAND AS DOCTOR.]



STORY THE TWENTIETH -- THE HUSBAND AS DOCTOR.

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of a young squire of Champagne who, when he married, had never mounted
a Christian creature,--much to his wife’s regret. And of the method her
mother found to instruct him, and how the said squire suddenly wept at
a great feast that was made shortly after he had learned how to perform
the carnal act--as you will hear more plainly hereafter._


It is well known that in the province of Champagne you are sure to meet
heavy and dull-witted persons--which has seemed strange to many persons,
seeing that the district is so near to the country of Mischief. (*)
Many stories could be told of the stupidity of the Champenois, but this
present story will suffice.

     (*) _Mal-Eugen_ in the original. The author probably means
     Picardy or Lorraine.

In this province, there lived a young man, an orphan, who at the death
of his father and mother had become rich and powerful. He was stupid,
ignorant, and disagreeable, but hard-working and knew well how to
take care of himself and his affairs, and for this reason, many
persons,--even people of condition,--were willing to give him their
daughter in marriage.

One of these damsels, above all others, pleased the friends and
relations of our Champenois, for her beauty, goodness, riches, and so
forth. They told him that it was time he married.

“You are now,” they said, “twenty-three years old, and there could not
be a better time. And if you will listen to us, we have searched out
for you a fair and good damsel who seems to us just suited to you. It is
such an one--you know her well;” and they told him her name.

The young man, who cared little whether he was married or not, as
long as he lost no money by it, replied that he would do whatever they
wished. “Since you think it will be to my advantage, manage the business
the best way you can, and I will follow your advice and instructions.”

“You say well,” replied these good people. “We will select your wife as
carefully as though it were for ourselves, or one of our children.”

To cut matters short, a little time afterwards our Champenois was
married; but on the first night, when he was sleeping with his wife,
he, never having mounted on any Christian woman, soon turned his back
to her, and a few poor kisses was all she had of him, but nothing on her
back. You may guess his wife was not well pleased at this; nevertheless,
she concealed her discontent.

This unsatisfactory state of things lasted ten days, and would have
continued longer if the girl’s mother had not put a stop to it.

It should be known to you that the young man was unskilled in the
mysteries of wedlock, for during the lifetime of his parents he had been
kept with a tight hand, and, above all things, had been forbidden to
play at the beast with two backs, lest he should take too much delight
therein, and waste all his patrimony. This was wise of his parents, for
he was not a young man likely to be loved for his good looks.

As he would do nothing to anger his father or mother, and was, moreover,
not of an amorous disposition, he had always preserved his chastity,
though his wife would willingly have deprived him of it, if she had
known how to do so honestly.

One day the mother of the bride came to her daughter, and asked her all
about her husband’s state and condition, and the thousand other things
which women like to know. To all of these questions the bride replied
that her husband was a good man, and she hoped and believed that she
would be happy with him.

But the old woman knew by her own experience that there are more things
in married life than eating and drinking, so she said to her daughter;

“Come here, and tell me, on your word of honour, how does he acquit
himself at night?”

When the girl heard this question she was so vexed and ashamed that she
could not reply, and her eyes filled with tears. Her mother understood
what these tears meant, and said;

“Do not weep, my child! Speak out boldly! I am your mother, and you
ought not to conceal anything from me, or be afraid of telling me. Has
he done nothing to you yet?”

The poor girl, having partly recovered, and being re-assured by
her mother’s words, ceased her tears, but yet could make no reply.
Thereupon, her mother asked again;

“Lay aside your grief and answer me honestly: has he done nothing to you
yet?”

In a low voice, mingled with tears, the girl replied, “On my word,
mother, he has never yet touched me, but, except for that, there is no
more kind or affectionate man.”

“Tell me,” said the mother; “do you know if he is properly furnished
with all his members? Speak out boldly, if you know.”

“By St. John! he is all right in that respect,” replied the bride. “I
have often, by chance, felt his luggage as I turned to and fro in our
bed when I could not sleep.”

“That is enough,” said the mother; “leave the rest to me. This is what
_you_ must do. In the morning you must pretend to be very ill--even as
though your soul were departing from your body. Your husband will, I
fully expect, seek me out and bid me come to you, and I will play my
part so well that your business will be soon settled, for I shall take
your water to a certain doctor, who will give such advice as I order.”

All was done as arranged, for on the morrow, as soon as it was dawn, the
girl, who was sleeping with her husband, began to complain and to sham
sickness as though a strong fever racked her body.

Her booby husband was much vexed and astonished, and knew not what to
say or do. He sent forthwith for his mother-in-law, who was not long in
coming. As soon as he saw her, “Alas! mother!” said he, “your daughter
is dying.”

“My daughter?” said she. “What does she want?” and whilst she was
speaking she walked to the patient’s chamber.

As soon as the mother saw her daughter, she asked what was the matter;
and the girl, being well instructed what she was to do, answered not at
first, but, after a little time, said, “Mother, I am dying.”

“You shall not die, please God! Take courage! But how comes it that you
are taken ill so suddenly?”

“I do not know! I do not know!” replied the girl. “It drives me wild to
answer all these questions.”

The old woman took the girl’s hand, and felt her pulse; then she said to
her son-in-law;

“On my word she is very ill. She is full of fire, and we must find some
remedy. Have you any of her water?”

“That which she made last night is there,” said one of the attendants.

“Give it me,” said the mother.

She took the urine, and put it in a proper vessel, and told her
son-in-law that she was about to show it to such-and-such a doctor, that
he might know what he could do to her daughter to cure her.

“For God’s sake spare nothing,” said she. “I have yet some money left,
but I love my daughter better than money.”

“Spare!” quoth he. “If money can help, you shall not want.”

“No need to go so fast,” said she. “Whilst she is resting, I will go
home; but I will come back if I am wanted.”

Now you must know that the old woman had on the previous day, when she
left her daughter, instructed the doctor, who was well aware of what he
ought to say. So the young man carried his wife’s water to the doctor,
and when he had saluted him, related how sick and suffering his wife
was.

“And I have brought you some of her water that you may judge how ill she
is, and more easily cure her.”

The doctor took the vessel of urine, and turned it about and examined
it, then said;

“Your wife is afflicted with a sore malady, and is in danger of dying
unless help be forthcoming; her water shows it.”

“Ah, master, for God’s sake tell me what to do, and I will pay you well
if you can restore her to health, and prevent her from dying.”

“She need not die,” said the doctor; “but unless you make haste, all the
money in the world will not save her life.”

“Tell me, for God’s sake,” said the other, “what to do, and I will do
it.”

“She must,” said the doctor, “have connection with a man, or she will
die.”

“Connection with a man?” said the other, “What is that?”

“That is to say,” continued the doctor, “that you must mount on the top
of her, and speedily ram her three or four times, or more if you can;
for, if not, the great heat which is consuming her will not be put out.”

“Ah! will that be good for her?”

“There is no chance of her living,” said the doctor, “if you do not do
it, and quickly too.”

“By St. John,” said the other, “I will try what I can do.”

With that he went home and found his wife, who was groaning and
lamenting loudly.

“How are you, my dear?” said he.

“I am dying, my dear,” she replied.

“You shall not die, please God,” said he. “I have seen the doctor, who
has told me what medicine will cure you,” and as he spoke, he undressed
himself, and lay down by his wife, and began to execute the orders he
had received from the doctor.

“What are you doing?” said she. “Do you want to kill me?”

“No! I am going to cure you,” he replied. “The doctor said so;” and
Nature instructing him, and the patient helping, he performed on her two
or three times.

When he was resting from his labours, much astonished at what had
happened, he asked his wife how she was?

“I am a little better than I was before;” she replied.

“God be praised,” said he. “I hope you will get well and that the doctor
told me truly:” and with that he began again.

To cut matters short, he performed so well that his wife was cured in
a few days, at which he was very joyful, and so was her mother when she
knew it.

The young man after this became a better fellow than he was before,
and his wife being now restored to health, he one day invited all his
relations and friends to dinner, and also the father and mother of his
wife, and he served grand cheer after his own fashion. They drank to
him, and he drank to them, and he was marvellous good company.

But hear what happened to him: in the midst of the dinner he began to
weep, which much astonished all his friends who were at table with
him, and they demanded what was the matter, but he could not reply for
weeping scalding tears. At last he spoke, and said;

“I have good cause to weep.”

“By my oath you have not,” replied his mother-in-law. “What ails you?
You are rich and powerful, and well housed, and have good friends; and
you must not forget that you have a fair and good wife whom God brought
back to health when she was on the edge of the grave. In my opinion you
ought to be light-hearted and joyful.”

“Alas!” said he, “woe is me! My father and mother, who both loved me,
and who amassed and left me so much wealth, are both dead, and by my
fault, for they died of a fever, and if I had well towzled them both
when they were ill, as I did to my wife, they would still be on their
feet.”

There was no one at table who, on hearing this, would not have liked to
laugh, nevertheless they restrained themselves as best they could. The
tables were removed, and each went his way, and the young man continued
to live with his wife, and--in order that she might continue in good
health--he failed not to tail her pretty often.


*****



STORY THE TWENTY-FIRST -- THE ABBESS CURED [21]

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of an abbess who was ill for want of--you know what--but would not have
it done, fearing to be reproached by her nuns, but they all agreed to do
the same and most willingly did so._


In Normandy there is a fair nunnery, the Abbess of which was young,
fair, and well-made. It chanced that she fell ill. The good sisters who
were charitable and devout, hastened to visit her, and tried to comfort
her, and do all that lay in their power. And when they found she was
getting no better, they commanded one of the sisters to go to Rouen, and
take her water to a renowned doctor of that place.

So the next day one of the nuns started on this errand, and when she
arrived there she showed the water to the physician, and described at
great length the illness of the Lady Abbess, how she slept, ate, drank,
etc.

The learned doctor understood the case, both from his examination of
the water, and the information given by the nun, and then he gave his
prescription.

Now I know that it is the custom in many cases to give a prescription in
writing, nevertheless this time he gave it by word of mouth, and said to
the nun;

“Fair sister, for the abbess to recover her health there is but one
remedy, and that is that she must have company with a man; otherwise in
a short time she will grew so bad that death will be the only remedy.”

Our nun was much astonished to hear such sad news, and said,

“Alas! Master John! is there no other method by which our abbess can
recover her health?”

“Certainly not,” he replied; “there is no other, and moreover, you must
make haste to do as I have bid you, for if the disease is not stopped
and takes its course, there is no man living who could cure it.”

The good nun, though much disconcerted, made haste to announce the news
to the Abbess, and by the aid of her stout cob, and the great desire she
had to be at home, made such speed that the abbess was astonished to see
her returned.

“What says the doctor, my dear?” cried the abbess. “Is there any fear of
death?”

“You will be soon in good health if God so wills, madam,” said the
messenger. “Be of good cheer, and take heart.”

“What! has not the doctor ordered me any medicine?” said the Abbess.

“Yes,” was the reply, and then the nun related how the doctor had looked
at her water, and asked her age, and how she ate and slept, etc. “And
then in conclusion he ordered that you must have, somehow or other,
carnal connection with some man, or otherwise you will shortly be dead,
for there is no other remedy for your complaint.”

“Connection with a man!” cried the lady. “I would rather die a thousand
times if it were possible.” And then she went on, “Since it is thus, and
my illness is incurable and deadly unless I take such a remedy, let
God be praised! I will die willingly. Call together quickly all the
convent!”

The bell was rung, and all the nuns flocked round the Abbess, and, when
they were all in the chamber, the Abbess, who still had the use of her
tongue, however ill she was, began a long speech concerning the state of
the church, and in what condition she had found it and how she left it,
and then went on to speak of her illness, which was mortal and incurable
as she well knew and felt, and as such and such a physician had also
declared.

“And so, my dear sisters, I recommend to you our church, and that you
pray for my poor soul.”

At these words, tears in great abundance welled from all eyes, and the
heart’s fountain of the convent was moved. This weeping lasted long, and
none of the company spoke.

After some time, the Prioress, who was wise and good, spoke for all the
convent, and said;

“Madam, your illness--what it is, God, from whom nothing is hidden,
alone knows--vexes us greatly, and there is not one of us who would not
do all in her power to aid your recovery. We therefore pray you to spare
nothing, not even the goods of the Church, for it would be better for us
to lose the greater part of our temporal goods than be deprived of the
spiritual profit which your presence gives us.”

“My good sister,” said the Abbess, “I have not deserved your kind offer,
but I thank you as much as I can, and again advise and beg of you to
take care of the Church--as I have already said--for it is a matter
which concerns me closely, God knows; and pray also for my poor soul,
which hath great need of your prayers.”

“Alas, madam,” said the Prioress, “is it not possible that by great
care, or the diligent attention of some physician, that you might be
restored to health?”

“No, no, my good sister,” replied the Abbess. “You must number me among
the dead--for I am hardly alive now, though I can still talk to you.”

Then stepped forth the nun who had carried the water to Rouen, and said;

“Madam, there is a remedy if you would but try it.” “I do not choose
to,” replied the Abbess. “Here is sister Joan, who has returned from
Rouen, and has shown my water, and related my symptoms, to such and such
a physician, who has declared that I shall die unless I suffer some man
to approach me and have connection with me. By this means he hopes, and
his books informed him, that I should escape death; but if I did not do
as he bade me, there was no help for me. But as for me, I thank God that
He has deigned to call me, though I have sinned much. I yield myself to
His will, and my body is prepared for death, let it come when it may.”

“What, madam!” said the infirmary nun, “would you murder yourself? It
is in your power to save yourself, and you have but to put forth your
hand and ask for aid, and you will find it ready! That is not right; and
I even venture to tell you that you are imperilling your soul if you die
in that condition.”

“My dear sister,” said the Abbess, “how many times have I told you that
it is better for a person to die than commit a deadly sin. You know that
I cannot avoid death except by committing a deadly sin. Also I feel sure
that even by prolonging my life by this means, I should be dishonoured
for ever, and a reproach to all. Folks would say of me, ‘There is the
lady who ----‘.

“All of you,--however you may advise me--would cease to reverence and
love me, for I should seem--and with good cause--unworthy to preside
over and govern you.”

“You must neither say nor think that,” said the Treasurer. “There is
nothing that we should not attempt to avoid death. Does not our good
father, St. Augustine, say that it is not permissible to anyone to take
his own life, nor to cut off one of his limbs? And are you not acting in
direct opposition to his teaching, if you allow yourself to die when you
could easily prevent it?”

“She says well!” cried all the sisters in chorus. “Madam, for God’s sake
obey the physician, and be not so obstinate in your own opinion as to
lose both your body and soul, and leave desolate, and deprived of your
care, the convent where you are so much loved.”

“My dear sisters,” replied the Abbess, “I much prefer to bow my head to
death than to live dishonoured. And would you not all say--‘There is the
woman who did so and so’.”

“Do not worry yourself with what people would say: you would never be
reproached by good and respectable people.”

“Yes, I should be,” replied the Abbess.

The nuns were greatly moved, and retired and held a meeting, and passed
a resolution, which the Prioress was charged to deliver to the Abbess,
which she did in the following words.

“Madam, the nuns are greatly grieved,--for never was any convent more
troubled than this is, and you are the cause. We believe that you are
ill-advised in allowing yourself to die when we are sure you could
avoid it. And, in order that you should comprehend our loyal and
single-hearted love for you, we have decided and concluded in a general
assembly, to save you and ourselves, and if you have connection secretly
with some respectable man, we will do the same, in order that you may
not think or imagine that in time to come you can be reproached by any
of us. Is it not so, my sisters?”

“Yes,” they all shouted most willingly.

The Abbess heard the speech, and was much moved by the testimony of the
love the sisters bore her, and consented, though with much regret, that
the doctor’s advice should be carried out. Monks, priests, and clerks
were sent for, and they found plenty of work to do, and they worked
so well that the Abbess was soon cured, at which the nuns were right
joyous.


*****



STORY THE TWENTY-SECOND -- THE CHILD WITH TWO FATHERS. [22]

By Caron.

_Of a gentleman who seduced a young girl, and then went away and joined
the army. And before his return she made the acquaintance of another,
and pretended her child was by him. When the gentleman returned from the
war he claimed the child, but she begged him to leave it with her second
lover, promising that the next she had she would give to him, as is
hereafter recorded._


Formerly there was a gentleman living at Bruges who was so often and so
long in the company of a certain pretty girl that at last he made her
belly swell.

And about the same time that he was aware of this, the Duke called
together his men-at-arms, and our gentleman was forced to abandon his
lady-love and go with others to serve the said lord, which he willingly
did. But, before leaving, he provided sponsors and a nurse against the
time his child should come into the world, and lodged the mother with
good people to whose care he recommended her, and left money for her.
And when he had done all this as quickly as he could, he took leave of
his lady, and promised that, if God pleased, he would return quickly.

You may fancy if she wept when she found that he whom she loved better
than any one in the world, was going away. She could not at first speak,
so much did her tears oppress her heart, but at last she grew calmer
when she saw that there was nothing else to be done.

About a month after the departure of her lover, desire burned in her
heart, and she remembered the pleasures she had formerly enjoyed, and of
which the unfortunate absence of her friend now deprived her. The God of
Love, who is never idle, whispered to her of the virtues and riches of a
certain merchant, a neighbour, who many times, both before and since the
departure of her lover, had solicited her love, so that she decided
that if he ever returned to the charge he should not be sent away
discouraged, and that even if she met him in the street she would behave
herself in such a way as would let him see that she liked him.

Now it happened that the day after she arrived at this determination,
Cupid sent round the merchant early in the morning to present her with
dogs and birds and other gifts, which those who seek after women are
always ready to present.

He was not rebuffed, for if he was willing to attack she was not the
less ready to surrender, and prepared to give him even more than he
dared to ask; for she found in him such chivalry, prowess, and virtue
that she quite forgot her old lover, who at that time suspected nothing.

The good merchant was much pleased with his new lady, and they so loved
each other, and their wills, desires, and thoughts so agreed, that it
was as though they had but a single heart between them. They could
not be content until they were living together, so one night the wench
packed up all her belongings and went to the merchant’s house, thus
abandoning her old lover, her landlord and his wife, and a number of
other good people to whose care she had been recommended.

She was not a fool, and as soon as she found herself well lodged,
she told the merchant she was pregnant, at which he was very joyful,
believing that he was the cause; and in about seven months the wench
brought forth a fine boy, and the adoptive father was very fond both of
the child and its mother.

A certain time afterwards the gentleman returned from the war, and came
to Bruges, and as soon as he decently could, took his way to the house
where he had left his mistress, and asked news of her from those whom he
had charged to lodge her and clothe her, and aid her in her confinement.

“What!” they said. “Do you not know? Have you not had the letters which
were written to you?”

“No, by my oath,” said he. “What has happened?’

“Holy Mary!” they replied, “you have good reason to ask. You had not
been gone more than a month when she packed up her combs and mirrors
and betook herself to the house of a certain merchant, who is greatly
attached to her. And, in fact, she has there been brought to bed of a
fine boy. The merchant has had the child christened, and believes it to
be his own.”

“By St. John! that is something new,” said the gentleman, “but, since
she is that sort of a woman, she may go to the devil. The merchant may
have her and keep her, but as for the child I am sure it is mine, and I
want it.”

Thereupon he went and knocked loudly at the door of the merchant’s
house. By chance, the lady was at home and opened the door, and when
she recognised the lover she had deserted, they were both astonished.
Nevertheless, he asked her how she came in that place, and she replied
that Fortune had brought her there.

“Fortune?” said he; “Well then, fortune may keep you; but I want my
child. Your new master may have the cow, but I will have the calf; so
give it to me at once, for I will have it whatever may happen.”

“Alas!” said the wench, “what will my man say? I shall be disgraced, for
he certainly believes the child is his.”

“I don’t care what he thinks,” replied the other, “but he shall not have
what is mine.”

“Ah, my friend, I beg and request of you to leave the merchant this
child; you will do him a great service and me also. And by God! you will
not be tempted to have the child when once you have seen him, for he is
an ugly, awkward boy, all scrofulous and mis-shapen.”

“Whatever he is,” replied the other, “he is mine, and I will have him.”

“Don’t talk so loud, for God’s sake!” said the wench, “and be calm, I
beg! And if you will only leave me this child, I promise you that I will
give you the next I have.”

Angry as the gentleman was, he could not help smiling at hearing these
words, so he said no more and went away, and never again demanded the
child, which was brought up by the merchant.


*****


[Illustration: 23.jpg THE LAWYER’S WIFE WHO PASSED THE LINE.]



STORY THE TWENTY-THIRD -- THE LAWYER’S WIFE WHO PASSED THE LINE. [23]

By Monseigneur De Commesuram.

_Of a clerk of whom his mistress was enamoured, and what he promised to
do and did to her if she crossed a line which the said clerk had made.
Seeing which, her little son told his father when he returned that he
must not cross the line; or said he, “the clerk will serve you as he did
mother.”_


Formerly there lived in the town of Mons, in Hainault, a lawyer of a
ripe old age, who had, amongst his other clerks, a good-looking and
amiable youth, with whom the lawyer’s wife fell deeply in love, for it
appeared to her that he was much better fitted to do her business than
her husband was.

She decided that she would behave in such a way that, unless he were
more stupid than an ass, he would know what she wanted of him; and, to
carry out her design, this lusty wench, who was young, fresh, and buxom,
often brought her sewing to where the clerk was, and talked to him of a
hundred thousand matters, most of them about love.

And during all this talk she did not forget to practise little tricks:
sometimes she would knock his elbow when he was writing; another time
she threw gravel and spoiled his work, so that he was forced to write it
all over again. Another time also she recommenced these tricks, and took
away his paper and parchment, so that he could not work,--at which he
was not best pleased, fearing that his master would be angry.

For a long time his mistress practised these tricks, but he being young,
and his eyes not opened, he did not at first see what she intended;
nevertheless at last he concluded he was in her good books.

Not long after he arrived at this conclusion, it chanced that the lawyer
being out of the house, his wife came to the clerk to teaze him as was
her custom, and worried him more than usual, nudging him, talking to
him, preventing him from working, and hiding his paper, ink &c.

Our clerk more knowing than formerly, and seeing what all this meant,
sprang to his feet, attacked his mistress and drove her back, and begged
of her to allow him to write--but she who asked for nothing better than
a tussle, was not inclined to discontinue.

“Do you know, madam,” said he, “that I must finish this writing which I
have begun? I therefore ask of you to let me alone or, morbleu, I will
pay you out.”

“What would you do, my good lad?” said she. “Make ugly faces?”

“No, by God!*

“What then?”

“What?”

“Yes, tell me what!”

“Why,” said he, “since you have upset my inkstand, and crumpled my
writing, I will well crumple your parchment, and that I may not be
prevented from writing by want of ink, I will dip into your inkstand.”

“By my soul,” quoth she, “you are not the man to do it. Do you think I
am afraid of you?”

“It does not matter what sort of man I am,” said the clerk, “but if you
worry me any more, I am man enough to make you pay for it. Look here!
I will draw a line on the floor, and by God, if you overstep it, be it
ever so little, I wish I may die if I do not make you pay dearly for
it.”

“By my word,” said she, “I am not afraid of you, and I will pass the
line and see what you will do,” and so saying the merry hussy made a
little jump which took her well over the line.

The clerk grappled with her, and threw her down on a bench, and punished
her well, for if she had rumpled him outside and openly, he rumpled her
inside and secretly.

Now you must know that there was present at the time a young child,
about two years old, the son of the lawyer. It need not be said
either, that after this first passage of arms between the clerk and his
mistress, there were many more secret encounters between them, with less
talk and more action than on the first occasion.

You must know too that, a few days after this adventure, the little
child was in the office where the clerk was writing, when there came in
the lawyer, the master of the house, who walked across the room to
his clerk, to see what he wrote, or for some other matter, and as he
approached the line which the clerk had drawn for his wife, and which
still remained on the floor, his little son cried,

“Father, take care you do not cross the line, or the clerk will lay you
down and tumble you as he did mother a few days ago.”

The lawyer heard the remark, and saw the line, but knew not what to
think; but if he remembered that fools, drunkards, and children always
tell the truth, at all events he made no sign, and it has never come to
my knowledge that he ever did so, either through want of confirmation of
his suspicions, or because he feared to make a scandal.


*****



STORY THE TWENTY-FOURTH -- HALF-BOOTED. [24]

By Monseigneur De Fiennes.

_Of a Count who would ravish by force a fair, young girl who was one of
his subjects, and how she escaped from him by means of his leggings,
and how he overlooked her conduct and helped her to a husband, as is
hereafter related._


I know that in many of the stories already related the names of the
persons concerned are not stated, but I desire to give, in my little
history, the name of Comte Valerien, who was in his time Count of St.
Pol, and was called “the handsome Count”. Amongst his other lordships,
he was lord of a village in the district of Lille, called Vrelenchem,
about a league distant from Lille.

This gentle Count, though of a good and kind nature, was very amorous.
He learned by report from one of his retainers, who served him in these
matters, that at the said Vrelenchem there resided a very pretty girl
of good condition. He was not idle in these matters, and soon after he
heard the news, he was in that village, and with his own eyes confirmed
the report that his faithful servants had given him concerning the said
maiden.

“The next thing to be done,” said the noble Count, “is that I must speak
to her alone, no matter what it may cost me.”

One of his followers, who was a doctor by profession, said, “My lord,
for your honour and that of the maiden also, it seems to me better that
I should make known to her your will, and you can frame your conduct
according to the reply that I receive.”

He did as he said, and went to the fair maiden and saluted her
courteously, and she, who was as wise as she was fair and good, politely
returned his salute.

To cut matters short, after a few ordinary phrases, the worthy messenger
preached much about the possessions and the honours of his master, and
told her that if she liked she would be the means of enriching all her
family.

The fair damsel knew what o’clock it was. (*) Her reply was like
herself--fair and good--for it was that she would obey, fear, and serve
the Count in anything that did not concern her honour, but that she held
as dear as her life.

     (*) A literal translation.   La bonne fille entendit tantost
     quelle heure il estoit.

The one who was astonished and vexed at this reply was our go-between,
who returned disappointed to his master, his embassy having failed. It
need not be said that the Count was not best pleased at hearing of this
proud and harsh reply made by the woman he loved better than anyone in
the world, and whose person he wished to enjoy. But he said, “Let us
leave her alone for the present. I shall devise some plan when she
thinks I have forgotten her.”

He left there soon afterwards, and did not return until six weeks had
passed, and, when he did return it was very quietly, and he kept himself
private, and his presence unknown.

He learned from his spies one day that the fair maiden was cutting grass
at the edge of a wood, and aloof from all company; at which he was very
joyful, and, all booted as he was, set out for the place in company with
his spies. And when he came near to her whom he sought, he sent away his
company, and stole close to her before she was aware of his presence.

She was astonished and confused, and no wonder, to see the Count so
close to her, and she turned pale and could not speak, for she knew by
report that he was a bold and dangerous man to women.

“Ha, fair damsel,” said the Count, “you are wondrous proud! One is
obliged to lay siege to you. Now defend yourself as best you can, for
there will be a battle between us, and, before I leave, you shall suffer
by my will and desire, all the pains that I have suffered and endured
for love of you.”

“Alas, my lord!” said the young girl, who was frightened and surprised.
“I ask your mercy! If I have said or done anything that may displease
you, I ask your pardon; though I do not think I have said or done
anything for which you should owe me a grudge. I do not know what report
was made of me. Dishonourable proposals were made to me in your name,
but I did not believe them, for I deem you so virtuous that on no
account would you dishonour one of your poor, humble subjects like me,
but on the contrary protect her.”

“Drop this talk!” said my lord, “and be sure that you shall not escape
me. I told you why I sent to you, and of the good I intended to do you,”
 and without another word, he seized her in his arms, and threw her down
on a heap of grass which was there, and pressed her closely, and quickly
made all preparations to accomplish his desire.

The young girl, who saw that she was on the point of losing that which
she held most precious, bethought her of a trick, and said,

“Ah, my lord, I surrender! I will do whatever you like, and without
refusal or contradiction, but it would be better that you should do with
me whatever you will by my free consent, than by force and against my
will accomplish your intent.”

“At any rate,” said my lord, “you shall not escape me! What is it you
want?”

“I would beg of you,” said she, “to do me the honour not to dirty me
with your leggings, which are greasy and dirty, and which you do not
require.”

“What can I do with them?” asked my lord.

“I will take them off nicely for you,” said she, “if you please; for
by my word, I have neither heart nor courage to welcome you if you wear
those mucky leggings.”

“The leggings do not make much difference,” said my lord, “nevertheless
if you wish it, they shall be taken off.”

Then he let go of her, and seated himself on the grass, and stretched
out his legs, and the fair damsel took off his spurs, and then tugged
at one of his leggings, which were very tight. And when with much
difficulty she had got it half off, she ran away as fast as her legs
could carry her with her will assisting, and left the noble Count, and
never ceased running until she was in her father’s house.


[Illustration: 24.jpg HALF-BOOTED]


The worthy lord who was thus deceived was in as great a rage as he could
be. With much trouble he got on his feet, thinking that if he stepped
on his legging he could pull it off, but it was no good, it was too
tight, and there was nothing for him to do but return to his servants.
He did not go very far before he found his retainers waiting for him by
the side of a ditch; they did not know what to think when they saw him
in that disarray. He related his story, and they put his boots on for
him, and if you had heard him you would have thought that she who thus
deceived him was not long for this world, he so cursed and threatened
her.

But angry as he was for a time, his anger soon cooled, and was converted
into sincere respect. Indeed he afterwards provided for her, and married
her at his own cost and expense to a rich and good husband, on account
of her frankness and loyalty.


*****



STORY THE TWENTY-FIFTH -- FORCED WILLINGLY. [25]

By Philippe De Saint-Yon.

_Of a girl who complained of being forced by a young man, whereas
she herself had helped him to find that which he sought;--and of the
judgment which was given thereon._


The incident on which I found my story happened so recently that I need
not alter, nor add to, nor suppress, the facts. There recently came
to the provost at Quesnay, a fair wench, to complain of the force and
violence she had suffered owing to the uncontrollable lust of a young
man. The complaint being laid before the provost, the young man accused
of this crime was seized, and as the common people say, was already
looked upon as food for the gibbet, or the headsman’s axe.

The wench, seeing and knowing that he of whom she had complained was
in prison, greatly pestered the provost that justice might be done
her, declaring that without her will and consent, she had by force been
violated and dishonoured.

The provost, who was a discreet and wise man, and very experienced in
judicial matters, assembled together all the notables and chief men, and
commanded the prisoner to be brought forth, and he having come before
the persons assembled to judge him, was asked whether he would confess,
by torture or otherwise, the horrible crime laid to his charge, and the
provost took him aside and adjured him to tell the truth.

“Here is such and such a woman,” said he, “who complains bitterly that
you have forced her. Is it so? Have you forced her? Take care that you
tell the truth, for if you do not you will die, but if you do you will
be pardoned.”

“On my oath, provost,” replied the prisoner, “I will not conceal from
you that I have often sought her love. And, in fact, the day before
yesterday, after a long talk together, I laid her upon the bed, to do
you know what, and pulled up her dress, petticoat, and chemise. But
my weasel could not find her rabbit hole, and went now here now there,
until she kindly showed it the right road, and with her own hands pushed
it in. I am sure that it did not come out till it had found its prey,
but as to force, by my oath there was none.”

“Is that true?” asked the provost.

“Yes, on my oath,” answered the young man.

“Very good,” said he, “we shall soon arrange matters.”

After these words, the provost took his seat in the pontifical chair,
surrounded by all the notable persons; and the young man was seated on
a small bench in front of the judges, and all the people, and of her who
accused him.

‘“Now, my dear,” said the provost, “what have you to say about the
prisoner?”

“Provost!” said she, “I complain that he has forced me and violated me
against my will and in spite of me. Therefore I demand justice.”

“What have you to say in reply?” asked the provost of the prisoner.

“Sir,” he replied, “I have already told how it happened, and I do not
think she can contradict me.”

“My dear!” said the provost to the girl, “think well of what you are
saying! You complain of being forced. It is a very serious charge! He
says that he did not use any force, but that you consented, and indeed
almost asked for what you got. And if he speaks truly, you yourself
directed his weasel, which was wandering about near your rabbit-hole,
and with your two hands--or at least with one--pushed the said weasel
into your burrow. Which thing he could never have done without your
help, and if you had resisted but ever so little he would never have
effected his purpose. If his weasel was allowed to rummage in your
burrow, that is not his fault, and he is not punishable.”

“Ah, Provost,” said the girl plaintively, “what do you mean by that? It
is quite true, and I will not deny it, that I conducted his weasel into
my burrow--but why did I do so? By my oath, Sir, its head was so stiff,
and its muzzle so hard, that I was sure that it would make a large cut,
or two or three, on my belly, if I did not make haste and put it where
it could do little harm--and that is what I did.”

You may fancy what a burst of laughter there was at the end of
this trial, both from the judges and the public. The young man was
discharged,--to continue his rabbit-hunting if he saw fit.

The girl was angry that he was not hanged on a high forked tree for
having hung on her “low forks” (*). But this anger and resentment did
not last long, for as I heard afterwards on good authority, peace was
concluded between them, and the youth had the right to ferret in the
coney burrow whenever he felt inclined.

     (*) A play upon words, which is not easily translatable, in
     allusion to the gallows.


*****



STORY THE TWENTY-SIXTH -- THE DAMSEL KNIGHT. [26]

By Monseigneur De Foquessoles.

_Of the loves of a young gentleman and a damsel, who tested the loyalty
of the gentleman in a marvellous and courteous manner, and slept three
nights with him without his knowing that it was not a man,--as you will
more fully hear hereafter._


In the duchy of Brabant--not so long ago but that the memory of it is
fresh in the present day--happened a strange thing, which is worthy of
being related, and is not unfit to furnish a story. And in order that it
should be publicly known and reported, here is the tale.

In the household of a great baron of the said country there lived and
resided a young, gracious, and kind gentleman, named Gerard, who was
greatly in love with a damsel of the said household, named Katherine.
And when he found opportunity, he ventured to tell her of his piteous
case. Most people will be able to guess the answer he received, and
therefore, to shorten matters, I omit it here.

In due time Gerard and Katherine loved each other so warmly that there
was but one heart and one will between them. This loyal and perfect love
endured no little time--indeed two years passed away. Love, who blinds
the eyes of his disciples, had so blinded these two that they did not
know that this affection, which they thought secret, was perceived by
every one; there was not a man or a woman in the chateau who was not
aware of it--in fact the matter was so noised abroad that all the talk
of the household was of the loves of Gerard and Katherine.

These two poor, deluded fools were so much occupied with their own
affairs that they did not suspect their love affairs were discussed by
others. Envious persons, or those whom it did not concern, brought
this love affair to the knowledge of the master and mistress of the
two lovers, and it also came to the ears of the father and mother of
Katherine.

Katherine was informed by a damsel belonging to the household, who was
one of her friends and companions, that her love for Gerard had been
discovered and revealed both to her father and mother, and also to the
master and mistress of the house.

“Alas, what is to be done, my dear sister and friend?” asked Katherine.
“I am lost, now that so many persons know, or guess at, my condition.
Advise me, or I am ruined, and the most unfortunate woman in the world,”
 and at these words her eyes filled with tears, which rolled down her
fair cheeks and even fell to the edge of her robe.

Her friend was very vexed to see her grief, and tried to console her.

“My sister,” she said, “it is foolish to show such great grief; for,
thank God, no one can reproach you with anything that touches your
honour or that of your friends. If you have listened to the vows of a
gentleman, that is not a thing forbidden by the Court of Honour, it is
even the path, the true road, to arrive there. You have no cause for
grief, for there is not a soul living who can bring a charge against
you. But, at any rate, I should advise that, to stop chattering tongues
which are discussing your love affairs, your lover, Gerard, should,
without more ado, take leave of our lord and lady, alleging that he is
to set out on a long voyage, or take part in some war now going on, and,
under that excuse, repair to some house and wait there until God and
Cupid have arranged matters. He will keep you informed by messages how
he is, and you will do the same to him; and by that time the rumours
will have ceased, and you can communicate with one another by letter
until better times arrive. And do not imagine that your love will
cease--it will be as great, or greater, than ever, for during a long
time you will only hear from each other occasionally, and that is one of
the surest ways of preserving love.”

The kind and good advice of this gentle dame was followed, for as soon
as Katherine found means to speak to her lover, Gerard, she told him
how the secret of their love had been discovered and had come to the
knowledge of her father and mother, and the master and mistress of the
house.

“And you may believe,” she said, “that it did not reach that point
without much talk on the part of those of the household and many of the
neighbours. And since Fortune is not so friendly to us as to permit us
to live happily as we began, but menaces us with further troubles, it is
necessary to be fore-armed against them. Therefore, as the matter much
concerns me, and still more you, I will tell you my opinion.”

With that she recounted at full length the good advice which had been
given by her friend and companion.

Gerard, who had expected a misfortune of this kind, replied;

“My loyal and dear mistress, I am your humble and obedient servant, and,
except God, I love no one so dearly as you. You may command me to
do anything that seems good to you, and whatever you order shall be
joyfully and willingly obeyed. But, believe me, there is nothing left
for me in the world when once I am removed from your much-wished-for
presence. Alas, if I must leave you, I fear that the first news you will
hear will be that of my sad and pitiful death, caused by your absence,
but, be that as it may, you are the only living person I will obey, and
I prefer rather to obey you and die, than live for ever and disobey you.
My body is yours. Cut it, hack it, do what you like with it!”

You may guess that Katherine was grieved and vexed at seeing her lover,
whom she adored more than anyone in the world, thus troubled. Had it not
been for the virtue with which God had largely endowed her, she would
have proposed to accompany him on his travels, but she hoped for happier
days, and refrained from making such a proposal. After a pause, she
replied;

“My friend you must go away, but do not forget her who has given you her
heart. And that you may have courage in the struggle which is imposed
on you, know that I promise you on my word that as long as I live I will
never marry any man but you of my own free-will, provided that you are
equally loyal and true to me, as I hope you will be. And in proof of
this, I give you this ring, which is of gold enamelled with black tears.
If by chance they would marry me to some one else, I will defend myself
so stoutly that you will be pleased with me, and I will prove to you
that I can keep my promise without flinching from it. And, lastly, I beg
of you that wherever you may stop, you will send me news about yourself,
and I will do the same.”

“Ah, my dear mistress,” said Gerard, “I see plainly that I must leave
you for a time. I pray to God that he will give you more joy and
happiness than I am likely to have. You have kindly given me, though I
am not worthy of it, a noble and honourable promise, for which I cannot
sufficiently thank you. Still less do I deserve it, but I venture in
return to make a similar promise, begging most humbly and with all my
heart, that my vow may have as great a weight as if it came from a much
nobler man than I. Adieu, dearest lady. My eyes demand their turn, and
prevent my tongue from speaking.”

With these words he kissed her, and pressed her tightly to his bosom,
and then each went away to think over his or her griefs.

God knows that they wept with their eyes, their hearts, and their heads,
but ere they showed themselves, they concealed all traces of their
grief, and put on a semblance of cheerfulness.

To cut matters short, Gerard did so much in a few days that he obtained
leave of absence from his master--which was not very difficult, not that
he had committed any fault, but owing to his love affair with Katherine,
with which her friends were not best pleased, seeing that Gerard was
not of such a good family or so rich as she was, and could not expect to
marry her.

So Gerard left, and covered such a distance in one day that he came to
Barrois, where he found shelter in the castle of a great nobleman of
the country; and being safely housed he soon sent news of himself to the
lady, who was very joyful thereat, and by the same messenger wrote to
tell him of her condition, and the goodwill she bore him, and how she
would always be loyal to him.

Now you must know that as soon as Gerard had left Brabant, many
gentlemen, knights and squires, came to Katherine, desiring above all
things to make her acquaintance, which during the time that Gerard
had been there they had been unable to do, knowing that her heart was
already occupied.

Indeed many of them demanded her hand in marriage of her father, and
amongst them was one who seemed to him a very suitable match. So he
called together many of his friends, and summoned his fair daughter, and
told them that he was already growing old, and that one of the greatest
pleasures he could have in the world was to see his daughter well
married before he died. Moreover, he said to them;

“A certain gentleman has asked for my daughter’s hand, and he seems to
me a suitable match. If your opinion agrees with mine, and my daughter
will obey me, his honourable request will not be rejected.”

All his friends and relations approved of the proposed marriage, on
account of the virtues, riches, and other gifts of the said gentleman.
But when they asked the opinion of the fair Katherine, she sought to
excuse herself, and gave several reasons for refusing, or at least
postponing this marriage, but at last she saw that she would be in the
bad books of her father, her mother, her relatives, friends, and her
master and mistress, if she continued to keep her promise to her lover,
Gerard.

At last she thought of a means by which she could satisfy her parents
without breaking her word to her lover, and said,

“My dearest lord and father, I do not wish to disobey you in anything
you may command, but I have made a vow to God, my creator, which I must
keep. Now I have made a resolution and sworn in my heart to God that
I would never marry unless He would of His mercy show me that that
condition was necessary for the salvation of my poor soul. But as I do
not wish to be a trouble to you, I am content to accept this condition
of matrimony, or any other that you please, if you will first give me
leave to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Nicolas at Varengeville
(*) which pilgrimage I vowed and promised to make before I changed my
present condition.”

     (*) A town of Lorraine, on the Meurthe, about six miles from
     Kancy. Pilgrims flocked thither from all parts to worship
     the relics of St. Nicolas.

She said this in order that she might see her lover on the road, and
tell him how she was constrained against her will.

Her father was rather pleased to hear the wise and dutiful reply of
his daughter. He granted her request, and wished to at once order her
retinue, and spoke to his wife about it when his daughter was present.

“We will give her such and such gentlemen, who with Ysabeau, Marguerite
and Jehanneton, will be sufficient for her condition.”

“Ah, my lord,” said Katherine, “if it so please you we will order it
otherwise. You know that the road from here to St. Nicolas is not very
safe, and that when women are to be escorted great precautions must be
taken. I could not go thus without great expense; moreover, the road is
long, and if it happened that we lost either our goods or honour (which
may God forfend) it would be a great misfortune. Therefore it seems good
to me--subject to your good pleasure--that there should be made for me a
man’s dress and that I should be escorted by my uncle, the bastard, each
mounted on a stout horse. We should go much quicker, more safely, and
with less expense, and I should have more confidence than with a large
retinue.”

The good lord, having thought over the matter a little while, spoke
about it to his wife, and it seemed to them that the proposal showed
much common sense and dutiful feeling. So everything was prepared for
their departure.

They set out on their journey, the fair Katherine and her uncle, the
bastard, without any other companion. Katherine, who was dressed in
the German fashion very elegantly, was the master, and her uncle, the
bastard, was the serving man. They made such haste that their pilgrimage
was soon accomplished, as far as St. Nicolas was concerned, and, as they
were on their return journey-praising God for having preserved them, and
talking over various matters Katherine said to her uncle,

“Uncle, you know that I am sole heiress to my father, and that I could
bestow many benefits upon you, which I will most willingly do if you
will aid me in a small quest I am about to undertake--that is to go to
the castle of a certain lord of Barrois (whom she named) to see Gerard,
whom you know. And, in order that when we return we may have some news
to tell, we will demand hospitality, and if we obtain it we will stop
there for some days and see the country, and you need be under no fear
but that I shall take care of my honour, as a good girl should.”

The uncle, who hoped to be rewarded some day, and knew she was virtuous,
vowed to himself that he would keep an eye upon her, and promised to
serve her and accompany her wherever she wished. He was much thanked no
doubt, and it was then decided that he should call his niece, Conrad.

They soon came, as they desired, to the wished-for place, and addressed
themselves to the lord’s major-domo, who was an old knight, and who
received them most joyfully and most honourably.

Conrad asked him if the lord, his master, did not wish to have in his
service a young gentleman who was fond of adventures, and desirous of
seeing various countries?

The major-domo asked him whence he came, and he replied, from Brabant.

“Well then,” said the major-domo, “you shall dine here, and after dinner
I will speak to my lord.”

With that he had them conducted to a fair chamber, and ordered the table
to be laid, and a good fire to be lighted, and sent them soup and a
piece of mutton, and white wine while dinner was preparing.

Then he went to his master and told him of the arrival of a young
gentleman of Brabant, who wished to serve him, and the lord was content
to take the youth if he wished.

To cut matters short, as soon as he had served his master, he returned
to Conrad to dine with him, and brought with him, because he was of
Brabant, the aforesaid Gerard, and said to Conrad;

“Here is a young gentleman who belongs to your country.”

“I am glad to meet him,” said Conrad.

“And you are very welcome,” replied Gerard.

But he did not recognise his lady-love, though she knew him very well.

Whilst they were making each other’s acquaintance, the meat was brought
in, and each took his place on either hand of the major-domo.

The dinner seemed long to Conrad, who hoped afterwards to have some
conversation with her lover, and expected also that she would soon be
recognised either by her voice, or by the replies she made to questions
concerning Brabant; but it happened quite otherwise, for during all the
dinner, the worthy Gerard did not ask after either man or woman in all
Brabant; which Conrad could not at all understand.

Dinner passed, and after dinner my lord engaged Conrad in his service;
and the major-domo, who was a thoughtful, experienced man, gave
instructions that as Gerard and Conrad came from the same place, they
should share the same chamber.

After this Gerard and Conrad went off arm in arm to look at their
horses, but as far as Gerard was concerned, if he talked about
anything it was not Brabant. Poor Conrad--that is to say the fair
Katherine--began to suspect that she was like forgotten sins, and had
gone clean out of Gerard’s mind; but she could not imagine why, at
least, he did not ask about the lord and lady with whom she lived. The
poor girl was, though she could not show it, in great distress of mind,
and did not know what to do; whether to still conceal her identity, and
test him by some cunning phrases, or to suddenly make herself known.

In the end she decided that she would still remain Conrad, and say
nothing about Katherine unless Gerard should alter his manner.

The evening passed as the dinner had done, and when they came to their
chamber, Gerard and Conrad spoke of many things, but not of the one
subject pleasing to the said Conrad. When he saw that the other only
replied in the words that were put into his mouth, she asked of what
family he was in Brabant, and why he left there, and where he was when
he was there, and he replied as it seemed good to him.

“And do you not know,” she said, “such and such a lord, and such
another?”

“By St. John, yes!” he replied.

Finally, she named the lord at whose castle she had lived; and he
replied that he knew him well, but not saying that he had lived there,
or ever been there in his life.

“It is rumoured,” she said, “there are some pretty girls there. Do you
know of any?”

“I know very little,” he replied, “and care less. Leave me alone; for I
am dying to go to sleep!”

“What!” she said. “Can you sleep when pretty girls are being talked
about? That is a sign that you are not in love!”

He did not reply, but slept like a pig, and poor Katherine began to have
serious doubts about him, but she resolved to try him again.

When the morrow came, each dressed himself, talking and chattering
meanwhile of what each liked best--Gerard of dogs and hawks, and Conrad
of the pretty girls of that place and Brabant.

After dinner, Conrad managed to separate Gerard from the others, and
told him that the country of Barrois was very flat and ugly, but Brabant
was quite different, and let him know that he (Conrad) longed to return
thither.

“For what purpose?” asked Gerard. “What do you see in Brabant that is
not here? Have you not here fine forests for hunting, good rivers, and
plains as pleasant as could be wished for flying falcons, and plenty of
game of all sorts?”

“Still that is nothing!” said Conrad. “The women of Brabant are very
different, and they please me much more than any amount of hunting or
hawking!”

“By St. John! they are quite another affair,” said Gerard. “You are
exceedingly amorous in your Brabant, I dare swear!”

“By my oath!” said Conrad, “it is not a thing that can be hidden, for
I myself am madly in love. In fact my heart is drawn so forcibly that I
fear I shall be forced to quit your Barrois, for it will not be possible
for me to live long without seeing my lady love.”

“Then it was a madness,” said Gerard, “to have left her, if you felt
yourself so inconstant.”

“Inconstant, my friend! Where is the man who can guarantee that he will
be constant in love. No one is so wise or cautious that he knows for
certain how to conduct himself. Love often drives both sense and reason
out of his followers.”

The conversation dropped as supper time came, and was not renewed till
they were in bed. Gerard would have desired nothing better than to go to
sleep, but Conrad renewed the discussion, and began a piteous, long, and
sad complaint about his ladylove (which, to shorten matters, I omit) and
at last he said,

“Alas, Gerard, and how can you desire to sleep whilst I am so wide
awake, and my soul is filled with cares, and regrets, and troubles. It
is strange that you are not a little touched yourself, for, believe
me, if it were a contagious disease you could not be so close to me and
escape unscathed. I beg of you, though you do not feel yourself, to have
some pity and compassion on me, for I shall die soon if I do not behold
my lady-love.”

“I never saw such a love-sick fool!” cried Gerard. “Do you think that I
have never been in love? I know what it is, for I have passed through
it the same as you--certainly I have! But I was never so love-mad as to
lose my sleep or upset myself, as you are doing now. You are an idiot,
and your love is not worth a doit. Besides do you think your lady is the
same as you are? No, no!”

“I am sure she is,” replied Conrad; “she is so true-hearted.”

“Ah, you speak as you wish,” said Gerard, “but I do not believe that
women are so true as to always remain faithful to their vows; and those
who believe in them are blockheads. Like you, I have loved, and still
love. For, to tell you the truth, I left Brabant on account of a love
affair, and when I left I was high in the graces of a very beautiful,
good, and noble damsel, whom I quitted with much regret; and for no
small time I was in great grief at not being able to see her--though I
did not cease to sleep, drink, or eat, as you do. When I found that
I was no longer able to see her, I cured myself by following Ovid’s
advice, for I had not been here long before I made the acquaintance of a
pretty girl in the house, and so managed, that--thank God--she now likes
me very much, and I love her. So that now I have forgotten the one I
formerly loved, and only care for the one I now possess, who has turned
my thoughts from my old love!”

“What!” cried Conrad. “Is it possible that, if you really loved the
other, you can so soon forget her and desert her? I cannot understand
nor imagine how that can be!”

“It is so, nevertheless, whether you understand it or not.” “That is not
keeping faith loyally,” said Conrad. “As for me, I would rather die
a thousand times, if that were possible, than be so false to my lady.
However long God may let me live, I shall never have the will, or even
the lightest thought, of ever loving any but her.”

“So much the greater fool you,” said Gerard, “and if you persevere in
this folly, you will never be of any good, and will do nothing but dream
and muse; and you will dry up like the green herb that is cast into the
furnace, and kill yourself, and never have known any pleasure, and
even your mistress will laugh at you,--if you are lucky enough to be
remembered by her at all.”

“Well!” said Conrad. “You are very experienced in love affairs. I would
beg of you to be my intermediary, here or elsewhere, and introduce me to
some damsel that I may be cured like you.”

“I will tell you what I will do,” said Gerard. “Tomorrow I will speak to
my mistress and tell her that we are comrades, and ask her to speak to
one of her lady friends, who will undertake your business, and I do not
doubt but that, if you like, you will have a good time, and that the
melancholy which now bears you down will disappear--if you care to get
rid of it.”

“If it were not for breaking my vow to my mistress, I should desire
nothing better,” said Conrad, “but at any rate I will try it.”

With that Gerard turned over and went to sleep, but Katherine was so
stricken with grief at seeing and hearing the falsehood of him whom she
loved more than all the world, that she wished herself dead and more
than dead. Nevertheless, she put aside all feminine feeling, and assumed
manly vigour. She even had the strength of mind to talk for a long time
the next day with the girl who loved the man _she_ had once adored; and
even compelled her heart and eyes to be witnesses of many interviews and
love passages that were most galling to her.

Whilst she was talking to Gerard’s mistress, she saw the ring that she
had given her unfaithful lover, but she was not so foolish as to admire
it, but nevertheless found an opportunity to examine it closely on the
girl’s finger, but appeared to pay no heed to it, and soon afterwards
left.

As soon as supper was over, she went to her uncle, and said to him;

“We have been long enough in Barrois! It is time to leave. Be ready
to-morrow morning at daybreak, and I will be also. And take care that
all our baggage is prepared. Come for me as early as you like.”

“You have but to come down when you will,” replied the uncle.

Now you must know that after supper, whilst Gerard was conversing with
his mistress, she who had been his lady-love went to her chamber and
began to write a letter, which narrated at full length the love affairs
of herself and Gerard, also “the promises which they made at parting,
how they had wished to marry her to another and how she had refused, and
the pilgrimage that she had undertaken to keep her word and come to him,
and the disloyalty and falsehood she had found in him, in word, act,
and deed. And that, for the causes mentioned, she held herself free
and disengaged from the promise she had formerly made. And that she was
going to return to her own country and never wished to see him or meet
him again, he being the falsest man who ever made vows to a woman. And
as regards the ring that she had given him, that he had forfeited it by
passing it into the hands of a third person. And if he could boast that
he had lain three nights by her side, there was no harm, and he might
say what he liked, and she was not afraid.”

_Letter written by a hand you ought to know_, and underneath _Katherine
etc., otherwise known as Conrad_; and on the back, _To the false Gerard_
etc.

She scarcely slept all night, and as soon as she saw the dawn, she rose
gently and dressed herself without awaking Gerard. She took the letter,
which she had folded and sealed, and placed it in the sleeve of Gerard’s
jerkin; then in a vow voice prayed to God for him, and wept gently on
account of the grief she endured on account of the falseness she had met
with.

Gerard still slept, and did not reply a word. Then she went to her
uncle, who gave her her horse which she mounted, and they left the
country, and soon came to Brabant, where they were joyfully received,
God knows.

You may imagine that all sorts of questions were asked about their
adventures and travels, and how they had managed, but whatever they
replied they took care to say nothing about their principal adventure.

But to return to Gerard. He awoke about 10 o’clock on the morning of the
day when Katherine left, and looked to see if his companion Conrad was
already risen. He did not know it was so late, and jumped out of bed
in haste to seek for his jerkin. When he put his arm in the sleeve,
out dropped the letter, at which he was much astonished, for he did not
remember putting it there.

At any rate, he picked it up, and saw that it was sealed, and had
written on the back, _To the false Gerard_. If he had been astonished
before, he was still more so now.

After a little while he opened it and saw the signature, _Katherine
known as Conrad_ etc.

He did not know what to think, nevertheless he read the letter, and in
reading it the blood mounted to his cheeks, and his heart sank within
him, so that he was quite changed both in looks and complexion.

He finished reading the letter the best way he could, and learned that
his falseness had come to the knowledge of her who wished so well to
him, and that she knew him to be what he was, not by the report of
another person, but by her own eyes; and what touched him most to the
heart was that he had lain three nights with her without having thanked
her for the trouble she had taken to come so far to make trial of his
love.

He champed the bit, and was wild with rage, when he saw how he had been
mystified. After much thought, he resolved that the best thing to do was
to follow her, as he thought he might overtake her.

He took leave of his master and set out, and followed the trail of their
horses, but did not catch them up before they came to Brabant, where
he arrived opportunely on the day of the marriage of the woman who had
tested his affection.

He wished to kiss her and salute her, and make some poor excuse for his
fault, but he was not able to do so, for she turned her back on him,
and he could not, all the time that he was there, find an opportunity of
talking with her.

Once he advanced to lead her to the dance, but she flatly refused in the
face of all the company, many of whom took note of the incident. For,
not long after, another gentleman entered, and caused the minstrels to
strike up, and advanced towards her, and she came down and danced with
him.

Thus, as you have heard, did the false lover lose his mistress. If there
are others like him, let them take warning by this example, which is
perfectly true, and is well known, and happened not so very long ago.


*****


[Illustration: 27.jpg THE HUSBAND IN THE CLOTHES-CHEST.]



STORY THE TWENTY-SEVENTH -- THE HUSBAND IN THE CLOTHES-CHEST. [27]

By Monseigneur De Beauvoir.

_Of a great lord of this kingdom and a married lady, who in order
that she might be with her lover caused her husband to be shut in a
clothes-chest by her waiting women, and kept him there all the night,
whilst she passed the time with her lover; and of the wagers made
between her and the said husband, as you will find afterwards recorded._


It is not an unusual thing, especially in this country, for fair dames
and damsels to often and willingly keep company with young gentlemen,
and the pleasant joyful games they have together, and the kind requests
which are made, are not difficult to guess.

Not long ago, there was a most noble lord, who might be reckoned as one
of the princes, but whose name shall not issue from my pen, who was much
in the good graces of a damsel who was married, and of whom report spoke
so highly that the greatest personage in the kingdom might have deemed
himself lucky to be her lover.

She would have liked to prove to him how greatly she esteemed him,
but it was not easy; there were so many adversaries and enemies to be
outwitted. And what more especially annoyed her was her worthy husband,
who kept to the house and played the part of the cursed Dangier, (*) and
the lover could not find any honourable excuse to make him leave.

     (*) Allegorical personage typifying jealousy, taken from _Le
     Romaunt de la Rose_.

As you may imagine, the lover was greatly dissatisfied at having to wait
so long, for he desired the fair quarry, the object of his long chase,
more than he had ever desired anybody in all his life.

For this cause he continued to importune his mistress, till she said to
him.

“I am quite as displeased as you can be that I can give you no better
welcome; but, you know, as long as my husband is in the house he must be
considered.”

“Alas!” said he, “cannot you find any method to abridge my hard and
cruel martyrdom?”

She--who as has been said above, was quite as desirous of being with her
lover as he was with her--replied;

“Come to-night, at such and such an hour, and knock at my chamber
door. I will let you in, and will find some method to be freed from my
husband, if Fortune does not upset our plans.”

Her lover had never heard anything which pleased him better, and after
many gracious thanks,--which he was no bad hand at making--he left her,
and awaited the hour assigned.

Now you must know that a good hour or more before the appointed time,
our gentle damsel, with her women and her husband, had withdrawn to her
chamber after supper; nor was her imagination idle, but she studied
with all her mind how she could keep her promise to her lover. Now she
thought of one means, now of another, but nothing occurred to her by
which she could get rid of her cursed husband; and all the time the
wished-for hour was fast approaching.

Whilst she was thus buried in thought, Fortune was kind enough to do her
a good turn, and her husband a bad one.

He was looking round the chamber, and by chance he saw at the foot of
the bed his wife’s clothes-chest. In order to make her speak, and arouse
her from her reverie, he asked what that chest was used for, and why
they did not take it to the wardrobe, or some other place where it would
be more suitable.

“There is no need, Monseigneur,” said Madame; “no one comes here but us.
I left it here on purpose, because there are still some gowns in it, but
if you are not pleased, my dear, my women will soon take it away.”

“Not pleased?” said he. “No, I am not; but I like it as much here as
anywhere else, since it pleases you; but it seems to me much too small
to hold your gowns well without crumpling them, seeing what great and
long trains are worn now.”

“By my word, sir,” said she, “it is big enough.”

“It hardly seems so,” replied he, “really; and I have looked at it
well.”

“Well, sir,” said she, “will you make a bet with me?”

“Certainly I will,” he answered; “what shall it be?”

“I will bet, if you like, half a dozen of the best shirts against the
satin to make a plain petticoat, that we can put you inside the box just
as you are.”

“On my soul,” said he, “I will bet I cannot get in.”

“And I will bet you can.”

“Come on!” said the women. “We will soon see who is the winner.”

“It will soon be proved,” said Monsieur, and then he made them take
out of the chest all the gowns which were in it, and when it was empty,
Madam and her women put in Monsieur easily enough.

Then there was much chattering, and discussion, and laughter, and Madam
said;

“Well, sir; you have lost your wager! You own that, do you not?”

“Yes,” said he, “you are right.”

As he said these words, the chest was locked, and the girls all
laughing, playing, and dancing, carried both chest and man together, and
put it in a big cupboard some distance away from the chamber.

He cried, and struggled, and made a great noise; but it was no good,
and he was left there all the night. He could sleep, or think, or do the
best he could, but Madam had given secret instructions that he was not
to be let out that day, because she had been too much bothered by him
already.

But to return to the tale we had begun. We will leave our man in his
chest, and talk about Madam, who was awaiting her lover, surrounded
by her waiting women, who were so good and discreet that they never
revealed any secrets. They knew well enough that the dearly beloved
adorer was to occupy that night the place of the man who was doing
penance in the clothes-chest.

They did not wait long before the lover, without making any noise or
scare, knocked at the chamber door, and they knew his knock, and quickly
let him in. He was joyfully received and kindly entertained by Madam and
her maids; and he was glad to find himself alone with his lady love, who
told him what good fortune God had given her, that is to say how she had
made a bet with her husband that he could get into the chest, how he had
got in, and how she and her women had carried him away to a cupboard.

“What?” said her lover. “I cannot believe that he is in the house. By my
word, I believed that you had found some excuse to send him out whilst I
took his place with you for a time.”

“You need not go,” she said. “He cannot get out of where he is. He may
cry as much as he will, but there is no one here likes him well enough
to let him out, and there he will stay; but if you would like to have
him set free, you have but to say so.”

“By Our Lady,” said he, “if he does not come out till I let him out, he
will wait a good long time.”

“Well then, let us enjoy ourselves,” said she, “and think no more about
him.”

To cut matters short, they both undressed, and the two lovers lay down
in the fair bed, and did what they intended to do, and which is better
imagined than described.

When day dawned, her paramour took leave of her as secretly as he could,
and returned to his lodgings to sleep, I hope, and to breakfast, for he
had need of both.

Madam, who was as cunning as she was wise and good, rose at the usual
hour, and said to her women;

“It will soon be time to let out our prisoner. I will go and see what he
says, and whether he will pay his ransom.”

“Put all the blame on us,” they said. “We will appease him.”

“All right, I will do so,” she said.

With these words she made the sign of the Cross, and went nonchalantly,
as though not thinking what she was doing, into the cupboard where her
husband was still shut up in the chest. And when he heard her he began
to make a great noise and cry out, “Who is there? Why do you leave me
locked up here?”

His good wife, who heard the noise he was making replied timidly, as
though frightened, and playing the simpleton;

“Heavens! who is it that I hear crying?”

“It is I! It is I!” cried the husband.

“You?” she cried; “and where do you come from at this time?”

“Whence do I come?” said he. “You know very well, madam. There is no
need for me to tell you--but what you did to me I will some day do to
you,”--for he was so angry that he would willingly have showered abuse
upon his wife, but she cut him short, and said;

“Sir, for God’s sake pardon me. On my oath I assure you that I did not
know you were here now, for, believe me, I am very much astonished that
you should be still here, for I ordered my women to let you out whilst I
was at prayers, and they told me they would do so; and, in fact, one of
them told me that you had been let out, and had gone into the town,
and would not return home, and so I went to bed soon afterwards without
waiting for you.”

“Saint John!” said he; “you see how it is. But make haste and let me
out, for I am so exhausted that I can stand it no longer.”

“That may well be,” said she, “but you will not come out till you have
promised to pay me the wager you lost, and also pardon me, or otherwise
I will not let you out.”

“Make haste, for God’s sake! I will pay you--really.”

“And you promise?”

“Yes--on my oath!”

This arrangement being concluded, Madam opened the chest, and Monsieur
came out, tired, cramped, and exhausted.

She took him by the arm, and kissed him, and embraced him as gently as
could be, praying to God that he would not be angry.

The poor blockhead said that he was not angry with her, because she knew
nothing about it, but that he would certainly punish her women.

“By my oath, sir,” said she, “they are well revenged upon you--for I
expect you have done something to them.”

“Not I certainly, that I know of--but at any rate the trick they have
played me will cost them dear.”

He had hardly finished this speech, when all the women came into the
room, and laughed so loudly and so heartily that they could not say a
word for a long time; and Monsieur, who was going to do such wonders,
when he saw them laugh to such a degree, had not the heart to interfere
with them. Madame, to keep him company, did not fail to laugh also.
There was a marvellous amount of laughing, and he who had the least
cause to laugh, laughed one of the loudest.

After a certain time, this amusement ceased, and Monsieur said;

“Mesdames, I thank you much for the kindness you have done me.”

“You are quite welcome, sir,” said one of the women, “and still we are
not quits. You have given us so much trouble, and caused as so much
mischief, that we owed you a grudge, and if we have any regret it is
that you did not remain in the box longer. And, in fact, if it had not
been for Madame you would still be there;--so you may take it how you
will!”

“Is that so?” said he. “Well, well, you shall see how I will take it.
By my oath I am well treated, when, after all I have suffered, I am only
laughed, at, and what is still worse, must pay for the satin for the
petticoat. Really, I ought to have the shirts that were bet, as a
compensation for what I have suffered.”

“By Heaven, he is right,” said the women. “We are on your side as to
that, and you shall have them. Shall he not have them, Madame?”

“On what grounds?” said she. “He lost the wager.”

“Oh, yes, we know that well enough: he has no right to them,--indeed he
does not ask for them on that account, but he has well deserved them for
another reason.”

“Never mind about that,” said Madame. “I will willingly give the
material out of love for you, mesdames, who have so warmly pleaded for
him, if you will undertake to do the sewing.”

“Yes, truly, Madame.”

Like one who when he wakes in the morning has but to give himself a
shake and he is ready, Monsieur needed but a bunch of twigs to beat his
clothes and he was ready, and so he went to Mass; and Madame and her
women followed him, laughing loudly at him I can assure you.

And you may imagine that during the Mass there was more than one giggle
when they remembered that Monsieur, whilst he was in the chest (though
he did not know it himself) had been registered in the book which has no
name. (*) And unless by chance this book falls into his hands, he will
never,--please God--know of his misfortune, which on no account would I
have him know. So I beg of any reader who may know him, to take care not
to show it to him.

     (*) The Book of Cuckolds.


*****


[Illustration: 28.jpg The incapable Lover.]



STORY THE TWENTY-EIGHTH -- THE INCAPABLE LOVER. [28]

By Messire Miohaut De Changy.

_Of the meeting assigned to a great Prince of this kingdom by a damsel
who was chamber-woman to the Queen; of the little feats of arms of the
said Prince and of the neat replies made by the said damsel to the Queen
concerning her greyhound which had been purposely shut out of the room
of the said Queen, as you shall shortly hear._


If in the time of the most renowned and eloquent Boccaccio, the
adventure which forms the subject of my tale had come to his knowledge,
I do not doubt but that he would have added it to his stories of great
men who met with bad fortune. For I think that no nobleman ever had a
greater misfortune to bear than the good lord (whom may God pardon!)
whose adventure I will relate, and whether his ill fortune is worthy
to be in the aforesaid books of Boccaccio, I leave those who hear it to
judge.

The good lord of whom I speak was, in his time, one of the great
princes of this kingdom, apparelled and furnished with all that befits a
nobleman; and amongst his other qualities was this,--that never was man
more destined to be a favourite with the ladies.

Now it happened to him at the time when his fame in this respect most
flourished, and everybody was talking about him, that Cupid, who casts
his darts wherever he likes, caused him to be smitten by the charms of
a beautiful, young, gentle and gracious damsel, who also had made a
reputation second to no other of that day on account of her great and
unequalled beauty and her good manners and virtues, and who, moreover,
was such a favourite with the Queen of that country that she shared the
royal bed on the nights when the said Queen did not sleep with the king.

This love affair, I must tell you, had advanced to such a point that
each only desired time and place to say and do what would most
please both. They were many days considering how to find a convenient
opportunity, and at last, she--who was as anxious for the welfare of her
lover as she was for the safety of her own reputation--thought of a good
plan, of which she hastened to inform him, saying as follows;

“My dearest friend, you know that I sleep with the Queen, and that it
is not possible for me--unless I would spoil everything--to resign
that honour and position which the noblest lady of the land would think
herself proud and happy to obtain. So that, though I would like to
please you and do your pleasure, I would remain on good terms with her,
and not desert her who can and does give me all the advancement and
honour in the world. I do not suppose that you would have me act
otherwise.”

“No, by my soul, dearest,” replied the worthy lord; “but at any rate I
would beg you that in serving your mistress your devoted lover should
not be forgotten, and that you do for him all that lies in your power,
for he would rather gain your love and good-will than aught else in the
world.”

“This is what I will do for you, Monseigneur,” said she. “The Queen, as
you know, has a greyhound of which she is very fond, that sleeps in
her chamber. I will find means to shut it out of the room without her
knowledge, and when everybody has retired, I will jump out of bed, run
to the reception room, and unbolt the door. Then, when you think that
the Queen is in bed, you must come quietly, and enter the reception room
and close the door after you. There you will find the greyhound, who
knows you well enough, and will let you approach it; pull its ears and
make it cry out, and when the Queen hears that, I expect that she will
make me get out of bed at once to let it in. Then I will come to you,
and fail me not, if ever you would speak to me again.”

“My most dear and loyal sweetheart,” said Monseigneur, “I thank you all
I can. Be sure that I will fail not to be there.”

Then he rose and went away, and the lady also; each thinking and
desiring how to carry out the proposed plan.

What need of a long story? The greyhound wanted to come into the chamber
of his mistress at the usual time, as it had been accustomed, but the
damsel had condemned it to banishment, and it was quickly made to beat a
retreat. The Queen went to bed without noticing the absence of the dog,
and soon afterwards there came to keep her company, the gentle damsel,
who was only waiting to hear the greyhound cry out as the signal for the
battle.

It was not long before the worthy lord set to work, and soon managed to
reach the chamber where the greyhound was sleeping. He felt for it, with
his foot or with his hand, until he found it, then he took it by the
ears and made it cry aloud two or three times.

The Queen, who heard it, soon knew that it was her greyhound, and
thought that it wanted to come in. She called the damsel, and said;

“My dear, my greyhound is howling outside. Get up, and let it in!”

“Willingly, madam,” said the damsel, and as she awaited the battle, the
day and hour of which she had herself appointed, she only armed herself
with her chemise, and in that guise, came to the door and opened it, and
soon met with him who was awaiting her.

He was so delighted and so surprised to see his ladylove so beautiful,
and so well-prepared for the encounter, that he lost his strength and
sense, and had not force enough left to draw his dagger, and try whether
it could penetrate her cuirass. Of kissing, and cuddling, and
playing with her breasts, he could do plenty; but for the grand
operation--nihil.

So the fair damsel was forced to return without leaving him that which
he could not gain by force of arms. But when she would quit him, he
tried to detain her by force and by soft speeches, but she dared not
stay, so she shut the door in his face, and came back to the Queen, who
asked her if she had let the greyhound in? And she said, “No, because
she could not find it though she had looked well for it.”

“Oh, well” said the Queen, “go to bed. It will be all right.”

The poor lover was very dissatisfied with himself, and thought himself
dishonoured and disgraced, for he had up till then had such confidence
in himself that he believed he could in less than one hour have tackled
three ladies, and come off every time with honour.

At last his courage returned, and he said to himself that if he
ever were so fortunate as to find another such opportunity with his
sweetheart, she should not escape as she did the previous time.

Thus animated and spurred on by shame and desire, he again took the
greyhound by the ears, and made it cry out much louder than it had
before.

Awakened by this cry, the Queen again sent her damsel, who opened the
door as before, but had to return to her mistress without getting any
more pleasure than she had the first time.

A third time did the poor gentleman do all in his power to tumble her,
but the devil a bit could he find a lance to encounter her with, though
she awaited his onslaught with a firm foot. And when she saw that she
could not have her basket pierced, and that he could not lay his lance
in rest, whatever advantage she gave him, she knew that the joust had
come to nothing, and had a very poor opinion of the jouster.

She would no longer stay with him for all that he could say or do. She
wished to return to the chamber, but her lover held her by force and
said;

“Alas, sweetheart, stay a little longer, I pray!”

“I cannot,” she said: “let me go! I have stayed too long already,
considering the little I got by it,” and with that she turned towards
the chamber, but he followed her and tried to detain her.

When she saw that--to pay him out, and also hoodwink the Queen--she
called out loud,

“Get out! get out! dirty beast that you are! By God! you shall not come
in here, dirty beast that you are!” and so saying she closed the door.

The Queen, who heard it, asked,

“To whom are you speaking, my dear?”

“To this dirty dog, madam, who has given me such trouble to look for
him. He was lying quite flat, and with his nose on the ground, hidden
under a bench, so that I could not find him. And when I did find him he
would not get up for anything that I could do. I would willingly have
put him in, but he would not deign to lift up his head, so, in disgust,
I have shut the door upon him and left him outside.”

“You did quite right, my dear,” said the Queen. “Come to bed, and go to
sleep!”

Such, as you have heard, was the bad luck of this noble lord; and since
he could not when his lady would, I believe that since then, when he had
the power, his lady’s will was not to be had.


*****



STORY THE TWENTY-NINTH -- THE COW AND THE CALF.

By Monseigneur

_Of a gentleman to whom--the first night that he was married, and after
he had but tried one stroke--his wife brought forth a child, and of
the manner in which he took it,--and of the speech that he made to his
companions when they brought him the caudle, as you shall shortly hear._


It is not a hundred years ago since a young gentleman of this country
wished to know and experience the joys of matrimony, and--to cut matters
short--the much-desired day of his marriage duly came.

After much good cheer and the usual amusements, the bride was put to
bed, and a short time afterwards her husband followed, and lay close to
her, and without delay duly began the assault on her fortress. With some
trouble he entered in and gained the stronghold, but you must understand
that he did not complete the conquest without accomplishing many feats
of arms which it would take long to enumerate; for before he came to the
donjon of the castle he had other outworks, with which it was provided,
to carry, like a place that had never been taken or was still quite new,
and which nature had provided with many defences.

When he was master of the place, he broke his lance, and ceased the
assault. But the fair damsel when she saw herself at the mercy of her
husband, and how he had foraged the greater part of her manor, wished
to show him a prisoner whom she held confined in a secret place,--or to
speak plainly she was delivered on the spot, after this first encounter,
of a fine boy; at which her husband was so ashamed and so astonished
that he did not know what to do except to hold his tongue.

Out of kindness and pity, he did all that he possibly could for both
mother and child, but, as you may believe, the poor woman could not
restrain from uttering a loud cry when the child was born. Many persons
heard this cry, and believed that it was “the cry of the maidenhead,”
 (*) which is a custom of this country.

     (*) A singular custom which obliged the bride to utter a
     loud cry when she lost her virginity, and to which the
     groomsmen replied by bringing a large bowl of caudle or some
     invigorating drink into the bed chamber. From some verses
     written by Clement Marot on the marriage of the Duke of
     Ferrara to Princess Rénée, it would appear that the custom
     existed at the Court of France.

Immediately all the gentlemen in the house where the bridegroom resided,
came and knocked at the door of the chamber, and brought the caudle; but
though they knocked loudly they received no reply, for the bride was in
a condition in which silence is excusable, and the bridegroom had not
much to chatter about.

“What is the matter?” cried the guests. “Why do you not open the door?
If you do not make haste we will break it open; the caudle we have
brought you will be quite cold;” and they began to knock louder than
ever.

But the bridegroom would not have uttered a word for a hundred francs;
at which those outside did not know what to think, for he was not
ordinarily a silent man. At last he rose, and put on a dressing-gown he
had, and let in his friends, who soon asked him whether the caudle had
been earned, and what sort of a time he had had? Then one of them
laid the table-cloth, and spread the banquet, for they had everything
prepared, and spared nothing in such cases. They all sat round to eat,
and the bridegroom took his seat in a high-backed chair placed near his
bed, looking very stupid and pitiful as you may imagine. And whatever
the others said, he did not answer a word, but sat there like a statue
or a carved idol.

“What is the matter?” cried one. “You take no notice of the excellent
repast that our host has provided. You have not said a single word yet.”

“Marry!” said another, “he has no jokes ready.”

“By my soul!” said another, “marriage has wondrous properties. He has
but been married an hour and he has lost his tongue. If he goes on at
that rate there will soon be nothing left of him.”

To tell the truth, he had formerly been known as a merry fellow, fond of
a joke, and never uttered a word but a jest; but now he was utterly cast
down.

The gentlemen drank to the bride and bridegroom, but devil a drop would
either of them quaff in return; the one was in a violent rage, and the
other was far from being at ease.

“I am not experienced in these affairs,” said a gentleman, “but it seems
we must feast by ourselves. I never saw a man with such a grim-looking
face, and so soon sobered by a woman. You might hear a pin drop in his
company. Marry! his loud jests are small enough now!”

“I drink to the bridegroom,” said another, but the bridegroom neither
drank, eat, laughed, or spoke. Nevertheless, after some time that he had
been both scolded and teased by his friends, like a wild boar at bay, he
retorted;

“Gentlemen, I have listened for some time to your jokes and reproofs. I
would like you to understand that I have good reason to reflect and keep
silent, and I am sure that there is no one here but would do the same
if he had the same reasons that I have. By heavens! if I were as rich
as the King of France, or the Duke of Burgundy, or all the princes of
Christendom, I should not be able to provide that which, apparently, I
shall _have_ to provide. I have but touched my wife once, and she has
brought forth a child! Now if each time that I begin again she does the
same, how shall I be able to keep my family?”

“What? a child?” said his friends.

“Yes, yes! Really a child! Look here!” and he turned towards the bed and
lifted up the clothes and showed them.

“There!” said he. “There is the cow and the calf! Am I not well
swindled?”

Many of his friends were much astonished, and quite excused their host’s
conduct, and went away each to his own home. And the poor bridegroom
abandoned his newly-delivered bride the first night, fearing that she
would do the same another time, and not knowing what would become of him
if so.

*****



STORY THE THIRTIETH -- THE THREE CORDELIERS.

By Monsigneur De Beauvoir

_Of three merchants of Savoy who went on a pilgrimage to St. Anthony in
Bienne, (*) and who were deceived and cuckolded by three Cordeliers who
slept with their wives. And how the women thought they had been with
their husbands, and how their husbands came to know of it, and of the
steps they took, as you shall shortly hear._

     (*) This according to M. Lacroix is the old town of La Mothe
     St. Didier in Dauphiné, which took the name of Saint Antoine
     on account of the relics of the Saint, which were brought
     there in the 11th century.

It is as true as the Gospel, that three worthy merchants of Savoy set
out with their wives to go on a pilgrimage to St. Anthony of Vienne. And
in order to render their journey more devout and more agreeable to God
and St. Anthony, they determined that from the time they left their
houses, and all through the journey, they would not sleep with their
wives, but live in continence, both going and returning.

They arrived one night in the town, where they found good lodgings, and
had excellent cheer at supper, like those who have plenty of money and
know well what to do with it, and enjoyed themselves so much that each
determined to break his oath, and sleep with his wife.

However, it happened otherwise, for when it was time to retire to rest,
the women said good night to their husbands and left them, and shut
themselves up in a chamber near, where each had ordered her bed to be
made.

Now you must know that that same evening there arrived in the house
three Cordeliers, who were going to Geneva, and who ordered a chamber
not very far from that of the merchant’s wives.

The women, when they were alone, began to talk about a hundred thousand
things, and though there were only three of them they made enough noise
for forty.

The good Cordeliers, hearing all this womens’ chatter, came out of their
chamber, without making any noise, and approached the door without being
heard. They saw three pretty women, each lying by herself in a fair bed,
big enough to accommodate a second bed-fellow; then they saw and heard
also the three husbands go to bed in another chamber, and they said to
themselves that fortune had done them a good turn, and that they would
be unworthy to meet with any other good luck if they were cowardly
enough to allow this opportunity to escape them.

“So,” said one of them, “there needs no further deliberation as to what
we are to do; we are three and they are three--let each take his place
when they are asleep.”

As it was said, so it was done, and such good luck had the good brothers
that they found the key of the room in which the women were, and opened
the door so gently that they were not heard by a soul, and they were not
such fools when they had gained the outworks as not to close the door
after them and take out the key, and then, without more ado, each picked
out a bed-fellow, and began to ruffle her as well as he could.

One of the women, believing it was her husband, spoke, and said;

“What are you doing? Do you not remember your vow?” But the good
Cordelier answered not a word, but did that for which he came, and did
it so energetically that she could not help assisting in the
performance.

The other two also were not idle, and the good women did not know what
had caused their husbands thus to break their vow. Nevertheless, they
thought they ought to obey, and bear it all patiently without speaking,
each being afraid of being heard by her companions, for really each
thought that she alone was getting the benefit.

When the good Cordeliers had done all they could, they left without
saying a word, and returned to their chamber, each recounting his
adventures. One had broken three lances; another, four; and the other,
six. They rose early in the morning, and left the town.

The good ladies, who had not slept all night, did not rise very early in
the morning, for they fell asleep at daybreak, which caused them to get
up late.

On the other hand, their husbands, who had supped well the previous
night, and who expected to be called by their wives, slept heavily till
an hour so late that on other days they had generally travelled two
leagues by that time.

At last the women got up, and dressed themselves as quickly as they
could, and not without talking. And, amongst other things, the one who
had the longest tongue, said;

“Between ourselves, mesdames--how have you passed the night? Have
your husbands worked like mine did? He has not ceased to ruffle me all
night.”

“By St. John!” said they, “if your husband ruffled you well last night,
ours have not been idle. They have soon forgotten what they promised at
parting; though believe us we did not forget to remind them.”

“I warned mine also,” said the first speaker, “when he began, but he
did not leave off working, and hurried on like a hungry man who had been
deprived of my company for two nights.”

When they were attired, they went to find their husbands, who were
already dressed;

“Good morning, good morning! you sleepers!” cried the ladies.

“Thank you,” said the men, “for having called us.”

“By my oath!” said one lady. “We have no more qualms of conscience for
not calling you than you have for breaking your vow.”

“What vow?” said one of the men.

“The vow,” said she, “that you made on leaving, not to sleep with your
wife.”

“And who has slept with his wife?” asked he. “You know well enough,”
 said she, “and so do I.”

“And I also,” said her companion. “Here is my husband who never gave me
such a tumbling as he did last night--indeed if he had not done his duty
so well I should not be so pleased that he had broken his vow, but I
pass over that, for I suppose he is like young children, who when they
know they deserve punishment, think they may as well be hanged for a
sheep as a lamb.”

“By St. John! so did mine!” cried the third. “But I am not going to
scold him for it. If there was any harm done there was good reason for
it.”

“And I declare by my oath,” cried one of the men, “that you dream, and
that you are drunken with sleep. As for me I slept alone, and did not
leave my bed all night.”

“Nor did I,” said another.

“Nor I, by St. John!” said the third. “I would not on any account break
my oath. And I feel sure that my friend here, and my neighbour there,
who also promised, have not so quickly forgotten.”

The women began to change colour and to suspect some trickery, when one
of the husbands began to fear the truth. Without giving the women time
to reply, he made a sign to his companions, and said, laughing;

“By my oath, madam, the good wine here, and the excellent cheer
last night made us forget our promise; but be not displeased at the
adventure; if it please God we each last night, with your help, made
a fine baby, which is a work of great merit, and will be sufficient to
wipe out the fault of breaking our vow!”

“May God will it so!” said the women. “But you so strongly declared that
you had not been near us that we began to doubt a little.”

“We did it on purpose,” said he, “in order to hear what you would say.”

“And so you committed a double sin; first to break your oath, then to
knowingly lie about it; and also you have much troubled us.”

“Do not worry yourselves about that,” said he; “it is no great matter;
but go to Mass, and we will follow you.”

The women set out towards the church, and their husbands remained
behind, without following them too closely; then they all said together,
without picking their words;

“We are deceived! Those devils of Cordeliers have cuckolded us; they
have taken our places, and shown us the folly of not sleeping with our
wives. They should never have slept out of our rooms, and if it was
dangerous to be in bed with them, is there not plenty of good straw to
be had?”

“Marry!” said one of them, “we are well punished this time; but at any
rate it is better that the trick should only be known to us than to
us and our wives, for there would be much danger if it came to their
knowledge. You hear by their confession that these ribald monks have
done marvels--both more and better than we could do. And, if our wives
knew that, they would not be satisfied with this experience only. My
advice is that we swallow the business without chewing it.”

“So help me God!” cried the third, “my friend speaks well. As for me, I
revoke my vow, for it is not my intention to run any more risks.”

“As you will,” said the other two; “and we will follow your example.”

So all the rest of the journey the wives slept with their husbands,
though the latter took care not to explain the cause. And when the
women saw that, they demanded the cause of this sudden change. And they
answered deceitfully, that as they had begun to break their vow they had
better go on.

Thus were the three worthy merchants deceived by the three good
Cordeliers, without it ever coming to the knowledge of their wives, who
would have died of grief had they known the truth; for every day we see
women die for less cause and occasion.


*****



STORY THE THIRTY-FIRST -- TWO LOVERS FOR ONE LADY. [31]

By Monseigneur De La Barde.

_Of a squire who found the mule of his companion, and mounted thereon
and it took him to the house of his master’s mistress; and the squire
slept there, where his friend found him; also of the words which passed
between them--as is more clearly set out below._


A gentleman of this kingdom--a squire of great renown and
reputation--fell in love with a beautiful damsel of Rouen, and did all
in his power to gain her good graces. But fortune was contrary to
him, and his lady so unkind, that finally he abandoned the pursuit in
despair.

He was not very wrong to do so, for she was provided with a lover--not
that the squire knew of that, however much he might suspect it.

He who enjoyed her love was a knight, and a man of great authority,
and was so familiar with the squire as to tell him much concerning his
love-affair. Often the knight said; “By my faith, friend, I would have
you know that I have a mistress in this town to whom I am devoted; for,
however tired I may be, I would willingly go three or four leagues to
see her--a mere couple of leagues I would run over without stopping to
take breath.”

“Is there no request or prayer that I can make” said the squire, “that
will cause you to tell me her name?”

“No, no!” said the other, “you shall not know that.”

“Well!” said the squire, “when I am so fortunate as to have something
good, I will be as reticent as you are.”

It happened some time after this that the good knight asked the squire
to supper at the castle of Rouen, where he was then lodged. He came, and
they had some talk; the gentle knight, who had an appointment to see his
lady at a certain hour, said farewell to the squire, and added,

“You know that we have various things to see to to-morrow, and that we
must rise early in order to arrange various matters. It is advisable
therefore to go to bed early, and for that reason I bid you goodnight.”

The squire, who was cunning enough, suspected that the good knight
wished to go somewhere, and that he was making the duties of the morrow
an excuse to get rid of him, but he took no notice, and on taking leave
and wishing good-night to his host, said;

“Monseigneur you say well; rise early to-morrow morning, and I will do
the same.”

When the good squire went down, he found a little mule at the foot of
the staircase of the castle, with no one minding it. He soon guessed
that the page he had met as he came down had gone to seek for a
saddle-cloth for his master.

“Ah, ah” he said to himself, “my host did not get rid of me at this
early hour for nothing. Here is his mule, which only waits till I am
gone to carry his master to some place he does not wish me to know. Ah,
mule!” said he, “if you could speak, you could tell me some news. Let me
beg of you to lead me where your master wishes to be.”

With that he made his page hold the stirrup, and mounted the mule,
and laid the reins on the mule’s neck, and let it amble on wherever it
liked.

And the little mule led him by streets and alleys here and there, till
at last it stopped before a little wicket, which was in a side street
where its master was accustomed to come, and which was the garden
gate of the house of the very damsel the squire had so loved and had
abandoned in despair.

He dismounted, and tapped gently at the wicket, and a damsel, who was
watching through a hidden lattice, believing it to be the knight, came
down and opened the door, and said;

“Monseigneur you are welcome; mademoiselle is in her chamber, and awaits
you.”

She did not recognise him, because it was late, and he had a velvet cap
drawn down over his face. And the good squire replied, “I will go to
her.”

The he whispered to his page, “Go quickly and put the mule where we
found it; then go to bed.”

“It shall be done, sir,” he said.

The woman closed the gate, and led the way to the chamber. Our good
squire, much occupied with the business in hand, walked boldly to the
room where the lady was, and he found her simply dressed in a plain
petticoat, and with a gold chain round her neck.

He saluted her politely, for he was kind, courteous and well-spoken, but
she, who was as much astonished as though horns had sprouted out of her
head, did not for the moment know how to reply, but at last she asked
him what he sought there, why he came at that hour, and who had sent
him?

“Mademoiselle,” said he, “you may well imagine that if I had had to rely
on myself alone I should not be here; but, thank God, one who has more
pity for me than you ever had, has done this kindness to me.”

“Who brought you here, sir?” she asked.

“By my oath, mademoiselle, I will not conceal that from you; it was such
and such a lord (and he named the knight who had invited him to supper),
who sent me here.”

“Ah!” she cried. “Traitor and disloyal knight that he is, has he
betrayed my confidence? Well, well! I will be revenged on him some day.”

“Oh, mademoiselle! it is not right of you to say that, for it is no
treason to give pleasure to one’s friend, or to render him aid and
service when one can. You know what a great friendship exists between
him and me, and that neither hides from the other what is in his heart.
It happened that not long ago I related and confessed to him the great
love I bore you, and that because of you I had no happiness left in the
world, for that by no means could I ever win your affection, and that it
was not possible for me to long endure this horrible martyrdom. When the
good knight knew that my words were really true, and was aware of the
sorrow I endured, he was fain to tell me how he stood with regard to
you, and preferred to lose you, and so save my life, than to see me die
miserably and retain your affection. And if you are such a woman as you
should be, you would not hesitate to give comfort and consolation to me,
your obedient servant, who has always loyally served and obeyed you.”

“I beg of you,” she said, “not to speak of that, and to leave here at
once. Cursed be he who made you come!”

“Do you know, mademoiselle,” he replied, “that it is not my intention to
leave here before to-morrow morning?”

“By my oath,” she cried, “you will go now, at once!”

“Morbleu! I will not--for I will sleep with you.”

When she saw that he was not to be got rid of by hard words, she
resolved to try kindness, and said;

“I beg of you with all my heart to leave my house now, and by my oath,
another time I will do whatever you wish.”

“Bah!” said he; “Waste no more words, for I shall sleep here,” and
with that he removed his cloak, and led the damsel to the table, and
finally--to cut the tale short--she went to bed with him by her side.

They had not been in bed long, and he had but broken one lance, when
the good knight arrived on his mule, and knocked at the wicket. When the
squire heard that and knew who it was, he began to growl, imitating a
dog very well.

The knight, hearing this, was both astonished and angry. He knocked
at the door more loudly than before, and the other growled louder than
ever.

“Who is that growling?” said he outside. “Morbleu! but I will soon find
out! Open the door, or I will carry it away!”

The fair damsel, who was in a great rage, went to the window in her
chemise, and said;

“Are you there, false and disloyal knight? You may knock as much as you
like, but you will not come in!”

“Why shall I not come in?” said he.

“Because,” said she, “you are the falsest man that ever woman met, and
are not worthy to be with respectable people.”

“Mademoiselle,” said he, “you blason my arms very well, but I do not
know what excites you, for I have never been false to you that I am
aware of.”

“Yes, you have,” she cried, “done me the greatest wrong that ever man
did to woman.”

“I have not, I swear. But tell me who is in there?”

“You know very well, wretched traitor that you are,” she replied.

Thereupon the squire, who was in bed, began to growl like a dog as
before.

“Marry!” said he outside, “I do not understand this. Who is this
growler?”

“By St. John! you shall know,” cried the other, and jumped out of bed
and came to the window, and said;

“And please you, sir, you have no right to wake us up.”

The good knight, when he knew who spoke to him, was marvellously
astonished, and when at last he spoke, he said.

“How did you come here?”

“I supped at your house and slept here.”

“The fault is mine,” said he. Then addressing the damsel, he added,
“Mademoiselle, do you harbour such guests in your house?”

“Yes, monseigneur,” she replied, “and thank you for having sent him.”

“I?” said he. “By St. John I have nothing to do with it. I came to
occupy my usual place, but it seems I am too late. At least I beg, since
I cannot have anything else, that you open the door and let me drink a
cup of wine.”

“By God, you shall not enter here!” she cried.

“By St. John! he shall,” cried the squire, and ran down and opened the
door, and then went back to bed, and she did also, though, God knows,
much ashamed and dissatisfied.

When the good knight entered the chamber, he lighted a candle, and
looked at the couple in bed and said;

“Good luck to you, mademoiselle, and to you also squire.”

“Many thanks, monseigneur,” said he.

But the damsel could not say a word, her heart was so full, for she felt
certain that the knight had connived at the squire’s coming, and she
felt so angry that she would not speak to him.

“Who showed you the way here, squire?” asked the knight.

“Your little mule, monseigneur,” said he. “I found it at the foot of the
stairs, when I supped with you at the castle. It was there alone, and
seemingly lost, so I asked it what it was waiting for, and it replied
that it was waiting for its saddle-cloth and you. ‘To go where?’ I
asked. ‘Where we usually go,’ replied the mule. ‘I am sure,’ said I,
‘that your master will not leave the house to-night, for he is going
to bed, so take me where you usually go, I beg.’ It was content, so I
mounted on it, and it brought me here, for which I give it thanks.”

“God reward the little beast that betrayed me,” said the good knight.

“Ah, you have fully deserved it, monseigneur,” said the damsel, when at
last she was able to speak. “I know well that you have deceived me,
but I wish you to know that it is not much to your honour. There was
no need, if you would not come yourself, to send some one else
surreptitiously. It was an evil day for me when first I saw you.”

“Morbleu! I never sent him,” he said; “but since he is here I will not
drive him away. Besides there is enough for the two of us; is there not
my friend?”

“Oh, yes, monseigneur, plenty of spoil to divide. Let us celebrate the
arrangement by a drink.”

He went to the side-board and filled a large cup with wine, and said, “I
drink to you, friend.”

“And I pledge you, friend,” said the other, and poured out another cup
for the damsel, who refused to drink, but at last, unwillingly, kissed
the cup.

“Well, friend,” said the knight, “I will leave you here. Ruffle her
well; it is your turn to-day and will be mine to morrow, please God, and
I hope you will be as obliging to me, if ever you find me here, as I am
to you now.”

“By Our Lady, friend, doubt not but I shall be.”

Then the knight went away and left the squire, who did as well as he
could on the first night. And he told the damsel the whole truth of his
adventure, at which she was somewhat relieved to find that he had not
been sent.

Thus was the fair damsel deceived by the mule, and obliged to obey the
knight and the squire, each in his turn--an arrangement to which she
finally became accustomed. The knight and squire grew more attached to
each other than before this adventure; their affection increased, and no
evil counsels engendered discord and hate between them.


*****


[Illustration: 32.jpg THE WOMEN WHO PAID TITHE.]



STORY THE THIRTY-SECOND -- THE WOMEN WHO PAID TITHE. [32]

By Monseigneur De Villiers.

_Of the Cordeliers of Ostelleria in Catalonia, who took tithe from the
women of the town, and how it was known, and the punishment the lord of
that place and his subjects inflicted on the monks, as you shall learn
hereafter._


In order that I may not be excluded from the number of fortunate and
meritorious writers who have worked to increase the number of stories
in this book, I will briefly relate a new story, which will serve as a
substitute for the tale previously required of me.

It is a well-known fact that in the town of Hostelleria, in Catalonia,
(*) there arrived some minor friars of the order of Observance, (**) who
had been driven out of the kingdom of Spain.

     (*) Hostalrich, a town of Catalonia, some 28 miles from
     Girona.

     (**) One of the principal branches of the order of
     Franciscans.


They managed to worm themselves into the good graces of the Lord of that
town, who was an old man, so that he built for them a fair church and a
large convent, and maintained and supported them all his life as best he
could. And after him came his eldest son, who did quite as much for them
as his worthy father had done.

In fact they prospered so, that, in a few years they had everything that
a convent of mendicant friars could desire. Nor were they idle during
all the time they were acquiring these riches; they preached both in the
town and in the neighbouring villages, and had such influence over the
people that there was not a good christian who did not confess to them,
they had such great renown for pointing out faults to sinners.

But of all who praised them and held them in esteem, the women were
foremost, such saints did they deem them on account of their charity and
devotion.

Now listen to the wickedness, deception, and horrible treason which
these false hypocrites practised on the men and women who every day gave
them so many good gifts. They made it known to all the women in the town
that they were to give to God a tenth of all their goods.

“You render to your Lord such and such a thing; to your parish and
priest such and such a thing; and to us you must render and deliver the
tithe of the number of times that you have carnal connection with your
husband. We will take no other tithe from you, for, as you know, we
carry no money--for the temporal and transitory things of this world are
nothing to us. We ask and demand only spiritual goods. The tithes
which we ask and which you owe us are not temporal goods; as the Holy
Sacrament, which you receive, is a divine and holy thing, so no one may
receive the tithe but us, who are monks of the order of the Observance.”

The poor simple women, who believed the good friars were more like
angels than terrestrial beings, did not refuse to pay the tithe. There
was not one who did not pay in her turn, from the highest to the lowest,
even the wife of the Lord was not excused.

Thus were all the women of the town parcelled out amongst these rascally
monks, and there was not a monk who did not have fifteen or sixteen
women to pay tithes to him, and God knows what other presents they had
from the women, and all under cover of devotion.

This state of affairs lasted long without its ever coming to the
knowledge of those who were most concerned in the payment of the new
tithe; but at last it was discovered in the following manner.

A young man who was newly married, was invited to supper at the house of
one of his relations--he and his wife--and as they were returning home,
and passing the church of the above-mentioned good Cordeliers, suddenly
the bell rang out the _Ave Maria_, and the young man bowed to the ground
to say his prayers.

His wife said, “I would willingly enter this church.”

“What would you do in there at this hour?” asked her husband. “You can
easily come again when it is daylight; to-morrow, or some other time.”

“I beg of you,” she said, “to let me go: I will soon return.”

“By Our Lady!” said he, “you shall not go in now.”

“By my oath!” she replied, “it is compulsory. I must go in, but I will
not stay. If you are in a hurry to get home, go on, and I will follow
you directly.”

“Get on! get forward!” he said, “you have nothing to do here. If you
want to say a _Pater noster_, or an _Ave Maria_, there is plenty of room
at home, and it is quite as good to say it there as in this monastery,
which is now as dark as pitch.”

“Marry!” said she, “you may say what you like, but by my oath, it is
necessary that I should enter here for a little while.”

“Why?” said he. “Do you want to sleep with any of the brothers.”

She imagined that her husband knew that she paid the tithe, and replied;

“No, I do not want to sleep with him; I only want to pay.”

“Pay what?” said he.

“You know very well,” she answered; “Why do you ask?”

“What do I know well?” he asked, “I never meddle with your debts.”

“At least,” she said, “you know very well that I must pay the tithe.”

“What tithe?”

“Marry!” she replied. “It always has to be paid;--the tithe for our
nights together. You are lucky--I have to pay for us both.”

“And to whom do you pay?” he asked.

“To brother Eustace,” she replied. “You go on home, and let me go in and
discharge my debt. It is a great sin not to pay, and I am never at ease
in my mind when I owe him anything.”

“It is too late to-night,” said he, “he has gone to bed an hour ago.”

“By my oath,” said she, “I have been this year later than this. If one
wants to pay one can go in at any hour.”

“Come along! come along!” he said. “One night makes no such great
matter.”

So they returned home; both husband and wife vexed and displeased--the
wife because she was not allowed to pay her tithe, and the husband
because he had learned how he had been deceived, and was filled with
anger and thoughts of vengeance, rendered doubly bitter by the fact that
he did not dare to show his anger.

A little later they went to bed together, and the husband, who was
cunning enough, questioned his wife indirectly, and asked if the other
women of the town paid tithes as she did?

“By my faith they do,” she replied. “What privilege should they have
more than me? There are sixteen to twenty of us who pay brother Eustace.
Ah, he is so devout. And he has so much patience. Brother Bartholomew
has as many or more, and amongst others my lady (*) is of the number.
Brother Jacques also has many; Brother Anthony also--there is not one of
them who has not a number.”

     (*) The wife of the Seigneur.

“St. John!” said the husband, “they do not do their work by halves. Now
I understand well that they are more holy than I thought them; and truly
I will invite them all to my house, one after the other, to feast them
and hear their good words. And since Brother Eustace receives your
tithes, he shall be the first. See that we have a good dinner to-morrow,
and I will bring him.”

“Most willingly,” she replied, “for then at all events I shall not have
to go to his chamber to pay him; he can receive it when he comes here.”

“Well said,” he replied; “give it him here;” but as you may imagine he
was on his guard, and instead of sleeping all night, thought over at his
leisure the plan he intended to carry out on the morrow.

The dinner arrived, and Brother Eustace, who did not know his host’s
intentions stuffed a good meal under his hood. And when he had well
eaten, he rolled his eyes on his hostess, and did not spare to press her
foot under the table--all of which the host saw, though he pretended not
to, however much to his prejudice it was.

After the meal was over and grace was said, he called Brother Eustace
and told him that he wanted to show him an image of Our Lady that he had
in his chamber, and the monk replied that he would willingly come.

They both entered the chamber, and the host closed the door so that
he could not leave, and then laying hold of a big axe, said to the
Cordelier.

“By God’s death, father! you shall never go out of this room--unless it
be feet foremost--if you do not confess the truth.”

“Alas, my host, I beg for mercy. What is it you, would ask of me?”

“I ask,” said he, “the tithe of the tithe you have received from my
wife.”

When the Cordelier heard the word tithes, he began to think that he was
in a fix, and did not know what to reply except to beg for mercy, and to
excuse himself as well as he could.

“Now tell me,” said the husband, “what tithe it is that you take from my
wife and the others?”

The poor Cordelier was so frightened that he could not speak, and
answered never a word.

“Tell me all about it,” said the young man, “and I swear to you I will
let you go and do you no harm;--but if you do not confess I will kill
you stone dead.”

When the other felt convinced that he had better confess his sin and
that of his companions and escape, than conceal the facts and be in
danger of losing his life, he said;

“My host, I beg for mercy, and I will tell you the truth. It is true
that my companions and I have made all the women of this town believe
that they owe us tithes for all the times their husbands sleep with
them. They believed us, and they all pay--young and old--when once they
are married. There is not one that is excused--my lady even pays like
the others--her two nieces also--and in general there is no one that is
exempt.”

“Marry!” said the other, “since my lord and other great folks pay it, I
ought not to be dissatisfied, however much I may dislike it. Well! you
may go, worthy father, on this condition--that you do not attempt to
collect the tithe that my wife owes you.”

The other was never so joyous as when he found himself outside the
house, and said to himself that he would never ask for anything of the
kind again, nor did he, as you will hear.

When the host of the Cordelier was informed by his wife of this new
tithe, he went to his Lord and told him all about the tax and how it
concerned him. You may imagine that he was much astonished, and said;

“Ah, cursed wretches that they are! Cursed be the hour that ever my
father--whom may God pardon--received them! And now they take our spoils
and dishonour us, and ere long they may do worse. What is to be done?”

“By my faith, Monseigneur” said the other, “if it please you and seem
good to you, you should assemble all your subjects in this town, for
the matter touches them as much as you. Inform them of this affair, and
consult with them what remedy can be devised before it is too late.”

Monseigneur approved, and ordered all his married subjects to come to
him, and in the great hall of his castle, he showed them at full length
why he had called them together.

If my lord had been astonished and surprised when he heard the news,
so also were all the good people who were there assembled. Some of them
said, “We ought to kill them,” others “They should be hanged!” others
“Drown them!” Others said they could not believe it was true--the monks
were so devout and led such holy lives. One said one thing, another said
another.

“I will tell you,” said the Seigneur, “what we will do. We will bring
our wives hither, and Master John, or some other, shall preach a little
sermon in which he will take care to make allusion to tithes, and ask
the women, in the name of all of us, whether they discharge their debts,
as we are anxious they should be paid, and we shall hear their reply.”

After some discussion they all agreed to the Seigneur’s proposal. So
orders were issued to all the married women of the town, and they all
came to the great hall, where their husbands were assembled. My lord
even brought my lady, who was quite astonished to see so many persons.
An usher of my lord’s commanded silence, and Master John, who was
slightly raised above the other people, began the address which follows;

“Mesdames and mesdemoiselles, I am charged by my lord and those of his
council to explain briefly the reason why you are called together. It
is true that my lord, his council, and all his people who are here met
together, desire to make a public examination of their conscience,--the
cause being that that they wish (God willing) to make ere long a holy
procession in praise of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and His Glorious Mother,
and from the present moment to be in such a devout frame of mind that
they may the better praise him in their prayers, and that all the works
which they do may be most agreeable to God. You know that there have
been no wars in our time, and that our neighbours have been terribly
afflicted both by pestilence and famine. Whilst others have been cast
down, we have nothing to complain of, and we must own that God has
preserved us. There is good reason that we should acknowledge that this
is not due to our own virtues, but to the great and liberal mercy of
our Blessed Redeemer, who cries, calls, and invites us to put up in our
parish church, devout prayers, to which we are to add great faith and
firm devotion. The holy convent of the Cordeliers in this town has
greatly aided, and still aids us in preserving the above-mentioned
benefits. Moreover, we wish to know if you women also perform that
which you have undertaken, and whether you sufficiently remember the
obligation you owe the Church, and therefore it will be advisable that,
by way of precaution, I should mention the principal points. Four times
a year,--that is to say at the four Natales (*) you must confess to some
priest or monk having the power of absolution, and if at each festival
you receive your Creator that will be well done, but twice, or at least
once a year, you ought to receive the Communion. Bring an offering every
Sunday to each Mass; those who are able should freely give tithes to
God--as fruit, poultry, lambs, pigs, and other accustomed gifts. You owe
also another tithe to the holy monks of the convent of St. Francis, and
which we earnestly desire to see paid. It greatly concerns us, and we
desire it to be continued, nevertheless there are many of you who
have not acted properly in this respect, and who by negligence, or
backwardness, have neglected to pay in advance. You know that the good
monks cannot come to your houses to seek their tithes;--that would
disturb and trouble them too much; it is quite enough if they take the
trouble to receive it. It is important that this should be mentioned--it
remains to see who have paid, and who still owe.”

     (*) The four principal festivals in the life of Christ--
     Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide, and Ascension.

Master John had no sooner finished his discourse, than more than twenty
women began to cry at the same time, “I have paid!” “I have paid!”
 “I owe nothing!” “Nor I,” “Nor I.” A hundred other voices chimed
in--generally to say that they owed nothing--and four or six pretty
young women were even heard to declare that they had paid well in
advance, one four times; one, six; and another, ten.

There were also I know not how many old women who said not a word, and
Master John asked them if they had paid their tithe, and they replied
that they had made an arrangement with the Cordeliers.

“What!” said he, “you do not pay? You ought to advise and persuade the
others to do their duty, and you yourselves are in default!”

“Marry!” said one of them, “I am not to blame. I have been several times
to perform my duty, but my confessor would not listen to me: he always
says he is too busy.”

“St. John!” said the other old women, “we have compounded with the monks
to pay them the tithe we owe them in linen, cloth, cushions, quilts,
pillow-cases and such other trifles; and that by their own instructions
and desire, for we should prefer to pay like the others.”

“By Our Lady!” said Master John, “there is no harm done; it is quite
right.

“I suppose they can go away now; can they not?” said the Seigneur to
Master John.

“Yes!” said he, “but let them be sure and not forget to pay the tithe.”

When they had all left the hall, the door was closed, and every man
present looked hard at his neighbour.

“Well!” said the Seigneur. “What is to be done? We know for certain what
these ribald monks have done to us, by the confession of one of them,
and by our wives; we need no further witness.”

After many and various opinions, it was resolved to set the convent on
fire, and burn both monks and monastery.

They went to the bottom of the town, and came to the monastery, and took
away the _Corpus Domini_ and all the relics and sent them to the parish
church. Then without more ado, they set fire to the convent in several
places, and did not leave till all was consumed--monks, convent, church,
dormitory, and all the other buildings, of which there were plenty. So
the poor Cordeliers had to pay very dearly for the new tithe they had
levied. Even God could do nothing, but had His house burned down.


*****



STORY THE THIRTY-THIRD -- THE LADY WHO LOST HER HAIR.

By Monseigneur.

_Of a noble lord who was in love with a damsel who cared for another
great lord, but tried to keep it secret; and of the agreement made
between the two lovers concerning her, as you shall hereafter hear._


A noble knight who lived in the marches of Burgundy, who was wise,
valiant, much esteemed, and worthy of the great reputation he had, was
so much in the graces of a fair damsel, that he was esteemed as her
lover, and obtained from her, at sundry times, all the favours that she
could honourably give him. She was also smitten with a great and noble
lord, a prudent man, whose name and qualities I pass over, though if I
were to recount them there is not one of you who would not recognise the
person intended, which I do not wish.

This gentle lord, I say, soon perceived the love affair of the valiant
gentleman just named, and asked him if he were not in the good graces of
such and such a damsel,--that is to say the lady before mentioned.

He replied that he was not, but the other, who knew the contrary to be
case, said that he was sure he was,

“For whatever he might say or do, he should not try to conceal such a
circumstance, for if the like or anything more important had occurred to
him (the speaker) he would not have concealed it.”

And having nothing else to do, and to pass the time, he found means to
make her fall in love with him. In which he succeeded, for in a very
short time he was high in her graces and could boast of having obtained
her favours without any trouble to win them.

The other did not expect to have a companion, but you must not think
that the fair wench did not treat him as well or better than before,
which encouraged him in his foolish love. And you must know that the
brave wench was not idle, for she entertained the two at once, and would
with much regret have lost either, and more especially the last-comer,
for he was of better estate and furnished with a bigger lance than her
first lover; and she always assigned them different times to come, one
after the other, as for instance one to-day and the other to-morrow.

The last-comer knew very well what she was doing, but he pretended
not to, and in fact he cared very little, except that he was rather
disgusted at the folly of the first-comer, who esteemed too highly a
thing of little value.

So he made up his mind that he would warn his rival, which he did. He
knew that the days on which the wench had forbidden him to come to
her (which displeased him much) were reserved for his friend the
first-comer. He kept watch several nights, and saw his rival enter by
the same door and at the same hour as he did himself on the other days.

One day he said to him, “You well concealed your amours with such an
one. I am rather astonished that you had so little confidence in me,
considering what I know to be really the case between you and her. And
in order that you may understand that I know all, let me tell you that
I saw you enter her house at such and such an hour, and indeed no longer
ago than yesterday I had an eye upon you, and from a place where I was,
I saw you arrive--you know whether I speak the truth.”

When the first-comer heard this accusation, he did not know what to say,
and he was forced to confess what he would have willingly concealed,
and which he thought no one knew but himself; and he told the last-comer
that he would not conceal the fact that he was in love, but begged him
not to make it known.

“And what would you say,” asked the other, “if you found you had a
companion?”

“Companion?” said he; “What companion? In a love affair? I never thought
of it.”

“By St. John!” said the last-comer, “I ought not to keep you longer in
suspense--it is I. And since I see that you are in love with a woman
who is not worth it, and if I had not more pity on you than you have on
yourself I should leave you in your folly, but I cannot suffer such a
wench to deceive you and me so long.”

If any one was astonished at this news it was the first-comer who
believed himself firmly established in the good graces of the wench, and
that she loved no one but him. He did not know what to say or think, and
for a long time could not speak a word. When at last he spoke, he said,

“By Our Lady! they have given me the onion (*) and I never suspected it.
I was easily enough deceived. May the devil carry away the wench, just
as she is!”

      (*) i.e. “they have made a fool of me.”

“She has fooled the two of us,” said the last-comer;

“at least she has begun well,--but we must even fool her.”

“Do so I beg,” said the first. “St. Anthony’s fire burn me if ever I see
the jade again.”

“You know,” said the second, “that we go to her each in turn. Well, the
next time that you go, you must tell her that you well know that I am
in love with her, and that you have seen me enter her house at such an
hour, and dressed in such a manner, and that, by heaven, if ever you
find me there again you will kill me stone dead, whatever may happen to
you. I will say the same thing about you, and we shall then see what she
will say and do, and then we shall know how to act.”

“Well said, and just what I would wish,” said the first.

As it was arranged, so was it done, for some days later it was the
last-comer’s turn to go and visit her; he set out and came to the place
appointed.

When he was alone with the wench, who received him very kindly and
lovingly it appeared, he put on--as he well knew how--a troubled,
bothered air, and pretended to be very angry. She, who had been
accustomed to see him quite otherwise, did not know what to think, and
she asked what was the matter, for his manner showed that his heart was
not at ease.

“Truly, mademoiselle,” said he, “you are right; and I have good cause to
be displeased and angry. Moreover, it is owing to you that I am in this
condition.”

“To me?” said she. “Alas, I have done nothing that I am aware of, for
you are the only man in the world to whom I would give pleasure, and
whose grief and displeasure touch my heart.”

“The man who refuses to believe that will not be damned,” said he. “Do
you think that I have not perceived that you are on good terms with
so-and-so (that is to say the first-comer). It is so, by my oath, and
I have but too often seen him speak to you apart, and, what is more, I
have watched and seen him enter here. But by heaven, if ever I find him
here his last day has come, whatever may happen to me in consequence. I
could not allow him to be aware that he has done me this injury--I would
rather die a thousand times if it were possible. And you are as false as
he is for you know of a truth that after God I love no one but you, and
yet you encourage him, and so do me great wrong!”

“Ah, monseigneur!” she replied, “who has told you this story? By my
soul! I wish that God and you should know that it is quite otherwise,
and I call Him to witness that never in my life have I given an
assignation to him of whom you speak, nor to any other whoever he may
be--so you have little enough cause to be displeased with me. I will not
deny that I have spoken to him, and speak to him every day, and also to
many others, but I have never had aught to do with him, nor do I believe
that he thinks of me even for a moment, or if so, by God he is mistaken.
May God not suffer me to live if any but you has part or parcel in what
is yours entirely.”

“Mademoiselle,” said he, “you talk very well, but I am not such a fool
as to believe you.”

Angry and displeased as he was, he nevertheless did that for which he
came, and on leaving, said,

“I have told you, and given you fair warning that if ever I find any
other person comes here, I will put him, or cause him to be put, in such
a condition that he will never again worry me or any one else.”

“Ah, Monseigneur,” she replied, “by God you are wrong to imagine such
things about him, and I am sure also that he does not think of me.”

With that, the last-comer left, and, on the morrow, his friend, the
first-comer did not fail to come early in the morning to hear the news,
and the other related to him in full all that had passed, how he had
pretended to be angry and threatened to kill his rival, and the replies
the jade made.

“By my oath,” said the first, “she acted the comedy well! Now let me
have my turn, and I shall be very much surprised if I do not play my
part equally well.”

A certain time afterwards his turn came, and he went to the wench, who
received him as lovingly as she always did, and as she had previously
received her other lover. If his friend the last-comer had been cross
and quarrelsome both in manner and words, he was still more so, and
spoke to her in this manner;

“I curse the hour and the day on which I made your acquaintance, for
it is not possible to load the heart of a poor lover with more sorrows,
regrets, and bitter cares than oppress and weigh down my heart to-day.
Alas! I chose you amongst all others as the perfection of beauty,
gentleness, and kindness, and hoped that I should find in you truth and
fidelity, and therefore I gave you all my heart, believing in truth that
it was safe in your keeping, and I had such faith in you that I would
have met death, or worse, had it been possible, to save your honour.
Yet, when I thought myself most sure of your faith, I learned, not only
by the report of others but by my own eyes, that another had snatched
your love from me, and deprived me of the hope of being the one person
in the world who was dearest to you.”

“My friend,” said the wench, “I do not know what your trouble is, but
from your manner and your words I judge that there is something
the matter, but I cannot tell what it is if you do not speak more
plainly--unless it be a little jealousy which torments you, and if so, I
think, if you are wise, that you will soon banish it from your mind. For
I have never given you any cause for that, as you know me well enough
to be aware, and you should be sorry for having used such expressions to
me.”

“I am not the sort of man,” said he, “to be satisfied with mere words.
Your excuses are worth nothing. You cannot deny that so-and-so (that
is to say the last-comer) does not keep you. I know well he does, for I
have noticed you, and moreover, have watched, and saw him yesterday come
to you at such an hour, dressed in such and such a manner. But I swear
to God he has had his last pleasure with you, for I bear him a grudge,
and were he ten times as great a man as he is, when I meet him I will
deprive him of his life, or he shall deprive me of mine; one of us two
must die for I cannot live and see another enjoy you. You are false and
disloyal to have deceived me, and it is not without cause that I curse
the hour I made your acquaintance, for I know for a certainty that you
will cause my death if my rival knows my determination, as I hope he
will. I know that I am now as good as dead, and even if he should spare
me, he does but sharpen the knife which is to shorten his own days, and
then the world would not be big enough to save me, and die I must.”

The wench could not readily find a sufficient excuse to satisfy him in
his present state of mind. Nevertheless, she did her best to dissipate
his melancholy, and drive away his suspicions, and said to him;

“My friend, I have heard your long tirade, which, to tell the truth,
makes me reflect that I have not been so prudent as I ought, and have
too readily believed your deceitful speeches, and obeyed you in all
things, which is the reason you now think so little of me. Another
reason why you speak to me thus, is that you know that I am so much in
love with you that I cannot bear to live out of your presence. And for
this cause, and many others that I need not mention, you deem me your
subject and slave, with no right to speak or look at any but you. Since
that pleases you, I am satisfied, but you have no right to suspect me
with regard to any living person, nor have I any need to excuse myself.
Truth, which conquers all things, will right me in the end!”

“By God, my dear,” said the young man, “the truth is what I have already
told you--as both and he will find to your cost if you do not take
care.”

After these speeches, and others too long to recount here, he left, and
did not forget on the following morning to recount everything to his
friend the last-comer; and God knows what laughter and jests they had
between them.

The wench, who still had wool on her distaff (*), saw and knew very well
that each of her lovers suspected the other, nevertheless she continued
to receive them each in his turn, without sending either away. She
warned each earnestly that he must come to her in the most secret
manner, in order that he should not be perceived.

     (*) i.e. plenty of tricks or resources.

You must know that when the first-comer had his turn that he did not
forget to complain as before, and threatened to kill his rival should he
meet him. Also at his last meeting, he pretended to be more angry than
he really was, and made very light of his rival, who, according to him,
was as good as dead if he were caught with her. But the cunning and
double-dealing jade had so many deceitful speeches ready that her
excuses sounded as true as the Gospel. For she believed that, whatever
doubts and suspicions they had, the affair would never really be found
out, and that she was capable of satisfying them both.

It was otherwise in the end, for the last-comer, whom she was greatly
afraid to lose, one day read her a sharp lesson. In fact he told
her that he would never see her again, and did not for a long time
afterwards, at which she was much displeased and dissatisfied.

And in order to embarrass and annoy her still more, he sent to her a
gentleman, a confidential friend, to point out how disgusted he was to
find he had a rival, and to tell her, in short, that if she did not send
away this rival, that he would never see her again as long as he lived.

As you have already heard, she would not willingly give up his
acquaintance, and there was no male or female saint by whom she did
not perjure herself in explaining away her love passages with her other
lover, and at last, quite beside herself, she said to the squire;

“I will show your master that I love him; give me your knife.”

Then, when she had the knife, she took off her headdress, and with the
knife cut off all her hair--not very evenly.

The squire, who knew the facts of the case, took this present, and said
he would do his duty and give it to his master, which he soon did. The
last-comer received the parcel, which he undid, and found the hair of
his mistress, which was very long and beautiful. He did not feel much at
ease until he had sent for his friend and revealed to him the message he
had sent, and the valuable present she had given him in return, and then
he showed the beautiful long tresses.

“I fancy,” said he, “I must be very high in her good graces. You can
scarcely expect that she would do as much for you.”

“By St. John!” said the other, “this is strange news. I see plainly that
I am left out in the cold. It is finished! You are the favoured one. But
let us” he added, “think what is to be done. We must show her plainly
that we know what she is.”

“That’s what I wish,” said the other.

They thought the matter over, and arranged their plan as follows.

The next day, or soon afterwards, the two friends were in a chamber
where there were assembled their fair lady and many others. Each took
his place where he liked; the first-comer sat near the damsel, and after
some talk, he showed her the hair which she had sent to his friend.

Whatever she may have thought, she was not startled, but said she did
not know whose hair it was, but it did not belong to her.

“What?” he said. “Has it so quickly changed that it cannot be
recognised?”

“That I cannot say,” she replied, “but it does not belong to me.”

When he heard that, he thought it was time to play his best card, and,
as though by accident, gave her _chaperon_ (*) such a twitch that it
fell to the ground, at which she was both angry and ashamed. And all
those who were present saw that her hair was short, and had been badly
hacked.

     (*) The chaperon, in the time of Charles VII, was fastened
     to the shoulder by a long band which sometimes passed two or
     three times round the neck, and sometimes hung down the
     back.

She rose in haste, and snatched up her head-dress, and ran into another
chamber to attire herself, and he followed her. He found her angry and
ashamed, and weeping bitterly with vexation at being thus caught. He
asked her what she had to weep about, and at what game she had lost her
hair?

She did not know what to reply, she was so vexed and astonished; and he,
who was determined to carry out the arrangement he had concluded with
his friend, said to her;

“False and disloyal as you are, you have not cared that I and my
friend were deceived and dishonoured. You wished,--as you have plainly
shown--to add two more victims to your list, but, thank God, we were on
our guard. And, in order that you may see that we both know you, here is
your hair which you sent him, and which he has presented to me; and do
not believe that we are such fools as you have hitherto thought us.”

Then he called his friend, who came, and the first said,

“I have given back this fair damsel her hair, an have begun to tell her
how she has accepted the love of both of us, and how by her manner of
acting she has shown us that she did not care whether she disgraced us
both--may God save us!”

“Truly--by St. John!” said the other, and thereupon he made a long
speech to the wench, and God knows he talked to her well, remonstrating
with her on her cowardice and disloyal heart. Never was woman so well
lectured as she was at that time, first by one then by the other.

She was so taken by surprise that she did not know what to reply, except
by tears, which she shed abundantly.

She had never had enough pleasure out of both her lovers to compensate
for the vexation she suffered at that moment.

Nevertheless, in the end they did not desert her, but lived as they did
before, each taking his turn, and if by chance they both came to her
together, the one gave place to the other, and they were both good
friends as before, without ever talking of killing or fighting.

For a long time the two friends continued this pleasant manner of
loving, and the poor wench never dared to refuse either of them. And
whenever the one wished to have intercourse with her, he told the other,
and whenever the second went to see her, the first stayed at home. They
made each other many compliments, and sent one another rondels and
songs which are now celebrated, about the circumstances I have already
related, and of which I now conclude the account.


*****


[Illustration: 34.jpg THE MAN ABOVE AND THE MAN BELOW.]



STORY THE THIRTY-FOURTH -- THE MAN ABOVE AND THE MAN BELOW. [34]

By Monsigneur De La Roche.

_Of a married woman who gave rendezvous to two lovers, who came and
visited her, and her husband came soon after, and of the words which
passed between them, as you shall presently hear._


I knew in my time a brave and worthy woman, deserving to be remembered
and respected, for her virtues should not be hidden and kept dark, but
publicly blazoned to the world. You will shortly hear, if you will, in
this story something which will increase and magnify her fame.

This gallant wench was married to a countryman of ours, and had many
lovers seeking and desiring her favours,--which were not over difficult
to obtain, for she was so kind and compassionate that she both would and
could bestow herself freely whenever she liked.

It happened one day that two men came to see her, as both were
accustomed, to ask for a rendezvous. She would not have retreated before
two or even three, and appointed a day and hour for each to come to
her--the one at eight o’clock the morrow morning, and the other at
nine, and charged each one expressly that he should not fail to keep his
appointed hour.

They promised on their faith and honour that if they were alive they
would keep their assignation.

When the morrow came, at about 6 o’clock in the morning, the husband
of this brave wench rose, dressed himself, and called his wife, but she
bluntly refused to get up when ordered.

“Faith!” she said, “I have such a headache that I cannot stand on my
feet, or if I did get up I should die, I am so weak and worn-out; and,
as you know, I did not sleep all the night. I beg of you to leave me
here, and I hope that when I am alone I shall get a little rest.”

Her husband, though he suspected something, did not dare to contradict
her or reply, but went about his business in the town, whilst his wife
was not idle at home, for eight o’clock had no sooner struck than the
honest fellow, to whom on the previous day an assignation had been
given, came and knocked at the door, and she let him in. He soon took
off his long gown and his other clothes, and joined madame in bed, in
order to cheer her up.

Whilst these two were locked in each other’s arms, and otherwise
engaged, the time passed quickly without her noticing it, when she heard
some one knock loudly at the door.

“Ah!” she said, “as I live, there is my husband; make haste and take
your clothes.”

“Your husband?” he said, “Why, do you know his knock?”

“Yes,” she replied, “I know it very well. Make haste lest he find you
here.”

“If it be your husband, he must find me here, for I know not where I can
hide.”

“No, please God, he must not find you here, for you would be killed and
so should I, he is so terrible. Get up into this little attic, and keep
quite quiet and do not move, that he may not find you here.”

The other climbed into the garret as he was told, and found the planks
stripped away in many places, and the laths broken.

As soon as he was safe, mademoiselle made one bound to the door, knowing
very well that it was not her husband who was there, and let in the
man who had promised to come to her at nine o’clock. They came into
the chamber, where they were not long on their feet, but laid down and
cuddled and kissed in the same manner as he in the garret had done,
whilst he, through a chink, kept his eye on the couple, and was not best
pleased. He could not make up his mind whether he should speak or hold
his tongue. At last he determined to keep silence, and not say a word
till the opportunity came,--and you may guess that he had plenty of
patience.

Whilst he was waiting and looking at the lady engaged with the last
comer, the worthy husband came home to enquire after the health of his
good wife, as it was very proper of him to do.

She soon heard him, and as quickly as may be, made her lover get out of
bed, and as she did not know where to hide him, since she could not put
him in the garret, she made him lie down between the bed and the wall,
and covered him with his clothes, and said to him.

“I have no better place to put you--have a little patience.”

She had hardly finished speaking when her husband came into the room,
and though he had heard nothing, he found the bed all rumpled and tossed
about, the quilt dirty and soiled, and looking more like the bed of a
bride than the couch of an invalid.

The doubts he had formerly entertained, combined with the appearance of
the bed, made him call his wife by her name, and say.

“Wicked whore that you are! I did not believe you when you shammed
illness this morning! Where is the whoremonger? I swear to God, if I
find him, he will have a bad end, and you too.” Then, putting his hand
on the quilt, he went on. “This looks nice, doesn’t it? It looks as
though the pigs had slept on it!”

“What is the matter with you, you nasty drunkard?” she replied. “Why
make me suffer when you get too much wine in your belly? That’s a nice
salutation, to call me a whore! I would have you to know that I am
nothing of the kind, but much too virtuous and too honest for a rascal
like you, and my only regret is that I have been so good to you, for
you are not worth it. I do not know why I do not get up and scratch
your face in such a manner that you would remember it all your life, for
having abused me without cause.”

If you ask how she dared reply to her husband in this manner, I should
answer there were two reasons,--that is she had both right and might on
her side. For, as you may guess, if it had come to blows, both the
lover in the garret, and the one by the bed, would have come to her
assistance.

The poor husband did not know what to say when he heard his wife abuse
him thus, and as he saw that big words were of no use, he left the
matter to God, who does justice to all, and replied;

“You make many excuses for your palpable faults, but I care little what
you say. I am not going to quarrel and make a noise; there is One above
who will repay all!”

By “One above”, he meant God,--as though he had said,

“God, who gives everyone his due, will repay you according to your
deserts.” But the gallant who was in the garret, and heard these words,
really believed they were meant for him, and that he was expected to pay
for the misdeeds of another besides himself, and he replied aloud;

“What? Surely it will suffice if I pay half! The man who is down by the
side of the bed can pay the other half--he is as much concerned as I
am!”

You may guess that the husband was much astonished, for he thought that
God was speaking to him; and the man by the bed did not know what to
think, for he knew nothing about the existence of the other man. He
quickly jumped up, and the other man came down, and they recognised each
other.

They went off together, and left the couple looking vexed and angry, but
they did not trouble much about that and for good reason.


*****



STORY THE THIRTY-FIFTH -- THE EXCHANGE.

By Monseigneur De Villiers.

_Of a knight whose mistress married whilst he was on his travels, and on
his return, by chance he came to her house, and she, in order that she
might sleep with him, caused a young damsel, her chamber-maid, to go to
bed with her husband; and of the words that passed between the husband
and the knight his guest, as are more fully recorded hereafter._


A gentleman, a knight of this kingdom, a most virtuous man, and of great
renown, a great traveller and a celebrated warrior, fell in love with a
very beautiful damsel, and so advanced in her good graces that nothing
that he demanded was refused him. It happened, I know not how long after
that, this good knight, to acquire honour and merit, left his castle,
in good health and well accompanied, by the permission of his master, to
bear arms elsewhere, and he went to Spain and various places, where he
did such feats that he was received in great triumph at his return.

During this time the lady married an old knight who was courteous and
wise, and who in his time had been a courtier, and--to say truth--was
known as the very mirror of honour. It was a matter for regret that he
did not marry better, but at any rate he had not then discovered his
wife’s misconduct, as he did afterwards, as you shall hear.

The first-named knight, returning from the war, as he was travelling
through the country, arrived by chance one night at the castle where his
mistress lived, and God knows what good cheer she and her husband made
for him, for there had been a great friendship between them.

But you must know that whilst the master of the house was doing all
he could to honour his guest, the guest was conversing with his former
lady-love, and was willing to renew with her the intimacy that had
existed before she married. She asked for nothing better, but excused
herself on account of want of opportunity.

“It is not possible to find a chance.”

“Ah, madam,” he said, “by my oath, if you want to, you will make a
chance. When your husband is in bed and asleep, you can come to my
chamber, or, if you prefer it, I will come to you.”

“It cannot be managed so,” she replied; “the danger is too great; for
monseigneur is a very light sleeper, and he never wakes but what he
feels for me, and if he did not find me, you may guess what it would
be.”

“And when he does find you,” he said, “what does he do to you?”

“Nothing else,” she replied; “he turns over on the other side.”

“Faith!” said he, “he is a very bad bed-fellow; it is very lucky for you
that I came to your aid to perform for you what he cannot.”

“So help me God,” she said, “when he lies with me once a month it is the
best he can do. I may be difficult to please, but I could take a good
deal more than that.

“That is not to be wondered at,” he said; “but let us consider what we
shall do.”

“There is no way that I see,” she replied, “that it can be managed.”

“What?” he said; “have you no woman in the house to whom you can explain
the difficulty?”

“Yes, by God! I have one,” she said, “in whom I have such confidence
that I would tell her anything in the world I wanted kept secret?
without fearing that she would ever repeat it.”

“What more do we want then?” he said. “The rest concerns you and her.”

The lady who was anxious to be with her lover, called the damsel, and
said,

“My dear, you must help me to-night to do something which is very dear
to my heart.”

“Madam,” said the damsel, “I am ready and glad, as I ought to be, to
serve you and obey you in any way possible; command me, and I will
perform your orders.”

“I thank you, my dear,” said madam, “and be sure that you will lose
nothing by it. This is what is the matter. The knight here is the man
whom I love best in all the world, and I would not that he left here
without my having a few words with him. Now he cannot tell me what is
in his heart unless we be alone together, and you are the only person to
take my place by the side of monseigneur. He is accustomed, as you know,
to turn in the night and touch me, and then he leaves me and goes to
sleep again.”

“I will do your pleasure, madam; there is nothing that you can command
that I will not do.”

“Well, my dear,” she said, “you will go to bed as I do, keeping a good
way off from monseigneur, and take care that if he should speak to you
not to reply, and suffer him to do whatever he may like.”

“I will do your pleasure, madam.”

Supper-time came. There is no need to describe the meal, suffice it to
say there was good cheer and plenty of it, and after supper, sports, and
the visitor took madam’s arm, and the other gentlemen escorted the other
damsels. The host came last, and enquired about the knight’s travels
from an old gentleman who had accompanied him.

Madame did not forget to tell her lover that one of her women would take
her place that night, and that she would come to him; at which he was
very joyful, and thanked her much, and wished that the hour had come.

They returned to the reception hall, where monseigneur said good
night to his guest, and his wife did the same. The visitor went to
his chamber, which was large and well-furnished, and there was a fine
sideboard laden with spices and preserves, and good wine of many sorts.

He soon undressed, and drank a cup, and made his attendants drink also,
and then sent them to bed, and remained alone, waiting for the lady, who
was with her husband. Both she and her husband undressed and got into
bed.

The damsel was in the _ruelle_, and as soon as my lord was in bed, she
took the place of her mistress, who--as her heart desired--made but one
bound to the chamber of the lover, who was anxiously awaiting her.

Thus were they all lodged--monseigneur with the chambermaid, and his
guest with madame--and you may guess that these two did not pass all the
night in sleeping.

Monseigneur, as was his wont, awoke an hour before day-break, and turned
to the chamber-maid, believing it to be his wife, and to feel her he put
out his hand, which by chance encountered one of her breasts, which were
large and firm, and he knew at once that it was not his wife, for she
was not well furnished in that respect.

“Ha, ha!” he said to himself, “I understand what it is! They are playing
me a trick, and I will play them another.”

He turned towards the girl, and with some trouble managed to break a
lance, but she let him do it without uttering a word or half a word.

When he had finished, he began to call as loudly as he could to the man
who was sleeping with his wife.

“Hallo! my lord of such a place! Where are you? Speak to me!”

The other, when he heard himself called, was much astonished, and the
lady quite overwhelmed with shame.

“Alas!” she said, “our deeds are discovered: I am a lost woman!”

Her husband called out,

“Hallo, monseigneur! hallo, my guest! Speak to me.”

The other ventured to speak, and said,

“What is it, so please you, monsiegneur?”

“I will make this exchange with you whenever you like.”

“What exchange?” he asked.

“An old, worn-out false, treacherous woman, for a good, pretty, and
fresh young girl. That is what I have gained by the exchange and I thank
you for it.”

None of the others knew what to reply, even the poor chamber-maid wished
she were dead, both on account of the dishonour to her mistress and the
unfortunate loss of her own virginity.

The visitor left the lady and the castle as soon as could, without
thanking his host, or saying farewell. And never again did he go there,
so he never knew how she settled the matter with her husband afterwards,
so I can tell you no more.


*****



STORY THE THIRTY-SIXTH -- AT WORK.

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a squire who saw his mistress, whom he greatly loved, between
two other gentlemern, and did not notice that she had hold of both of
them till another knight informed him of the matter as you will hear._


A kind and noble gentleman, who wished to spend his time in the service
of the Court of Love, devoted himself, heart, body, and goods, to a fair
and honest damsel who well deserved it, and who was specially suited to
do what she liked with men; and his amour with her lasted long. And he
thought that he stood high in her good graces, though to say the truth,
he was no more a favourite than the others, of whom there were many.

It happened one day that this worthy gentleman found his lady, by
chance, in the embrasure of a window, between a knight and a squire, to
whom she was talking. Sometimes she would speak to one apart and not let
the other hear, another time she did the same to the other, to please
both of them, but the poor lover was greatly vexed and jealous, and did
not dare to approach the group.

The only thing to do was to walk away from her, although he desired her
presence more than anything else in the world. His heart told him that
this conversation would not tend to his advantage, in which he was not
far wrong. For, if his eyes had not been blinded by affection, he could
easily have seen what another, who was not concerned, quickly perceived,
and showed him, in this wise.

When he saw and knew for certain that the lady had neither leisure nor
inclination to talk to him, he retired to a couch and lay down, but he
could not sleep.

Whilst he was thus sulking, there came a gentleman, who saluted all the
company, and seeing that the damsel was engaged, withdrew to the recess
where the squire was lying sleepless upon the couch; and amongst other
conversation the squire said,

“By my faith, monseigneur, look towards the window; there are some
people who are making themselves comfortable. Do you not see how
pleasantly they are talking.”

“By St. John, I see them,” said the knight, “and see that they are doing
something more than talking.”

“What else?” said the other.

“What else? Do you not see that she has got hold of both of them?”

“Got hold of them!”

“Truly yes, poor fellow! Where are your eyes? But there is a great
difference between the two, for the one she holds in her left hand is
neither so big nor so long as that which she holds in her right hand.”

“Ha!” said the squire, “you say right. May St. Anthony burn the wanton;”
 and you may guess that he was not well pleased.

“Take no heed,” said the knight, “and bear your wrong as patiently
as you can. It is not here that you have to show your courage: make a
virtue of necessity.”

Having thus spoken, the worthy knight approached the window where the
three were standing, and noticed by chance that the knight on the left,
hand, was standing on tip-toe, attending to what the fair damsel and the
squire were saying and doing.

Giving him a slight tap on his hat, the knight said,

“Mind your own business in the devil’s name, and don’t trouble about
other people.”

The other withdrew, and began to laugh, but the damsel, who was not the
sort of woman to care about trifles, scarcely showed any concern, but
quietly let go her hold without brushing or changing colour, though she
was sorry in her heart to let out of her hand what she could have well
used in another place.

As you may guess, both before and after that time, either of those two
would most willingly have done her a service, and the poor, sick lover
was obliged to be a witness of the greatest misfortune which could
happen to him, and his poor heart would have driven him to despair,
if reason had not come to his help, and caused him to abandon his love
affairs, out of which he had never derived any benefit.


*****


[Illustration: 37.jpg THE USE OF DIRTY WATER.]



STORY THE THIRTY-SEVENTH -- THE USE OF DIRTY WATER.

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a jealous man who recorded all the tricks which he could hear or
learn by which wives had deceived their husbands in old times; but at
last he was deceived by means of dirty water which the lover of the said
lady threw out of window upon her as she was going to Mass, as you shall
hear hereafter._


Whilst others are thinking and ransacking their memories for adventures
and deeds fit to be narrated and added to the present history, I will
relate to you, briefly, how the most jealous man in this kingdom, in his
time, was deceived. I do not suppose that he was the only one who ever
suffered this misfortune, but at any rate I will not omit to describe
the clever trick that was played upon him.

This jealous old hunks was a great historian, and had often read and
re-read all sorts of stories; but the principal end and aim of all his
study was to learn and know all the ways and manners in which wives had
deceived their husbands. For--thank God--old histories like Matheolus
(*), Juvenal, the Fifteen Joys of Marriage (**), and more others than I
can count, abound in descriptions of deceits, tricks, and deceptions of
that sort.

     (*) _Le Lime_, de Matheolus, a poem of the early part of the
     15th Century, written by Jean le Febvre, Bishop of
     Therouenne. It is a violent satire against women.

     (**) A curious old work the authorship of which is still
     doubtful. It is often ascribed to Antoine de la Sale, who is
     believed to have partly written and edited the _Cent
     Nouvelles Nouvelles_. The allusion is interesting as showing
     that the Quinze Joyes de mariage was written before the
     present work.

Our jealous husband had always one or other of these books in his hand,
and was as fond of them as a fool is of his bauble,--reading or studying
them; and indeed he had made from these books a compendium for his own
use, in which all the tricks and deceits practised by wives on their
husbands were noted and described.

This he had done in order to be forewarned and on his guard, should
his wife perchance use any of the plans or subterfuges chronicled or
registered in his book. For he watched his wife as carefully as the most
jealous Italian would, and still was not content, so ruled was he by
this cursed passion of jealousy.

In this delectable state did the poor man live three or four years with
his wife, and the only amusement she had in that time was to escape
out of his hateful presence by going to Mass, and then she was always
accompanied by an old servant, who was charged to watch over her.

A gentle knight, who had heard how the fair lady was watched, one day
met the damsel, who was both beautiful and witty, and told her how
willing he was to do her a service, that he sighed for her love, and
condoled with her evil fortune in being allied to the most jealous
wretch there was on the face of the earth, and saying, moreover, that
she was the sole person on earth for whom he cared.

“And since I cannot tell you here how much I love you, and many other
things which I hope you will be glad to hear, I will, if you wish, put
it all in writing and give it you to-morrow, begging also that any small
service that I most willingly do for you, be not refused.”

She gladly listened, but owing to the presence of Dangier, (*) who was
near, hardly replied; nevertheless she said she would be glad to have
his letter when it came.

      (*) See note page 159.

Her lover was very joyful when he took leave of her, and with good
cause, and the damsel said farewell to him in a kind and gracious
manner, but the old woman, who watched her, did not fail to ask her what
conversation had taken place between her and the man who had just left.

“He brought me news of my mother,” she replied; “at which I am very
joyful, for she is in good health.”

The old woman asked no more, and they returned home.

On the morrow, the lover, provided with a letter written God knows
in what terms, met the lady, and gave her this letter so quickly and
cunningly that the old servant, who was watching, saw nothing.

The letter was opened by her most joyfully when she was alone. The gist
of the contents was that he had fallen in love with her, and that he
knew not a day’s happiness when he was absent from her, and finally
hoped that she would of her kindness appoint a suitable place where she
could give him a reply to this letter.

She wrote a reply in which she said she could love no one but her
husband, to whom she owed all faith and loyalty; nevertheless, she was
pleased to know the writer was so much in love with her, but, though she
could promise him no reward, would be glad to hear what he had to say,
but certainly that could not be, because her husband never left her
except when she went to church, and then she was guarded, and more than
guarded, by the dirtiest old hag that ever interfered with anybody.

The lover, dressed quite differently to what he had been the preceding
day, met the lady, who knew him at once, and as he passed close to her,
received from her hand the letter already mentioned. That he was anxious
to know the contents was no marvel. He went round a corner, and there,
at his leisure, learned the condition of affairs, which seemed to be
progressing favourably.

It needed but time and place to carry out his enterprise, and he thought
night and day how this was to be accomplished. At last he thought of
a first-rate trick, for he remembered that a lady friend of his lived
between the church where his lady went to Mass and her house, and he
told her the history of his love affair, concealing nothing from her,
and begging her to help him.

“Whatever I can do for you, I will do with all my heart,” she said.

“I thank you,” said he. “Would you mind if I met her here?”

“Faith!” she said, “to please you, I do not mind!”

“Well!” he replied, “if ever it is in my power to do you a service, you
may be sure that I will remember this kindness.”

He was not satisfied till he had written again to his lady-love and
given her the letter, in which he said that he had made an arrangement
with a certain woman, “who is a great friend of mine, a respectable
woman, who can loyally keep a secret, and who knows you well and loves
you, and who will lend us her house where we may meet. And this is the
plan I have devised. I will be to-morrow in an upper chamber which looks
on the street, and I will have by me a large pitcher of water mingled
with ashes, which I will upset on you suddenly as you pass. And I shall
be so disguised that neither your old woman, nor anyone else in the
world, will recognise me. When you have been drenched with this water,
you will pretend to be very angry and surprised, and take refuge in the
house, and send your Dangier to seek another gown; and while she is on
the road we will talk together.”

To shorten the story, the letter was given, and the lady, who was very
well pleased, sent a reply.

The next day came, and the lady was drenched by her lover with a pitcher
of water and cinders, in such fashion that her kerchief, gown, and other
habiliments were all spoiled and ruined. God knows that she was very
astonished and displeased, and rushed into the house, as though she were
beside herself, and ignorant of where she was.

When she saw the lady of the house, she complained bitterly of the
mischief which had been done, and I cannot tell you how much she grieved
over this misadventure. Now she grieved for her kerchief, now for her
gown, and another time for her other clothes,--in short, if anyone had
heard her, they would have thought the world was coming to an end.

The old woman, who was also in a great rage, had a knife in her hand,
with which she scraped the gown as well as she could.

“No, no, my friend! you only waste your time. It cannot be cleaned as
easily as that: you cannot do any good. I must have another gown and
another kerchief-there is nothing else to be done. Go home and fetch
them, and make haste and come back, or we shall lose the Mass in
addition to our other troubles.”

The old woman seeing that there was imperative need of the clothes, did
not dare to refuse her mistress, and took the gown and kerchief under
her mantle, and went home.

She had scarcely turned on her heels, before her mistress was conducted
to the chamber where her lover was, who was pleased to see her in a
simple petticoat and with her hair down.

Whilst they are talking together, let us return to the old woman, who
went back to the house, where she found her master, who did not wait for
her to speak, but asked her at once,

“What have you done with my wife? where is she?”

“I have left her,” she replied, “at such a person’s house, in such a
place.”

“And for what purpose?” said he.

Then she showed him the gown and the kerchief, and told him about the
pitcher of water and ashes, and said that she had been sent to seek
other clothes, for her mistress could not leave the place where she was
in that state.

“Is that so?” said he. “By Our Lady! that trick is not in my book! Go!
Go! I know well what has happened.”

He would have added that he was cuckolded, and I believe he was at that
time, and he never again kept a record of the various tricks that had
been played on husbands. Moreover, it is believed that he never forgot
the trick which had been played on him. There was no need for him to
write it down--he preserved a lively memory of it the few good days that
he had to live.


*****


[Illustration: 38.jpg A ROD FOR ANOTHER’S BACK.]



STORY THE THIRTY-EIGHTH -- A ROD FOR ANOTHER’S BACK. [38]

By The Seneschal Of Guyenne.

_Of a citizen of Tours who bought a lamprey which he sent to his wife
to cook in order that he might give a feast to the priest, and the said
wife sent it to a Cordelier, who was her lover, and how she made a woman
who was her neighbour sleep with her husband, and how the woman was
beaten, and what the wife made her husband believe, as you will hear
hereafter._


There was formerly a merchant of Tours, who, to give a feast to his
curé and other worthy people, bought a large lamprey, and sent it to his
house, and charged his wife to cook it, as she well knew how to do.

“And see,” said he, “that the dinner is ready at twelve o’clock, for I
shall bring our curé, and some other people” (whom he named).

“All shall be ready,” she replied, “bring whom you will.”

She prepared a lot of nice fish, and when she saw the lamprey she wished
that her paramour, a Cordelier, could have it, and said to herself,

“Ah, Brother Bernard, why are you not here? By my oath, you should not
leave till you had tasted this lamprey, or, if you liked, you should
take it to your own room, and I would not fail to keep you company.”

It was with great regret that the good woman began to prepare the
lamprey for her husband, for she was thinking how the Cordelier could
have it. She thought so much about it that she finally determined to
send the lamprey by an old woman, who knew her secret. She did so, and
told the Cordelier that she would come at night, and sup and sleep with
him.

When the Cordelier heard that she was coming, you may guess that he was
joyful and contented, and he told the old woman that he would get some
good wine to do honour to the lamprey. The old woman returned, and
delivered his message.

About twelve o’clock came our merchant, the curé, and the other guests,
to eat this lamprey, which had now gone far out of their reach. When
they were all in the merchant’s house, he took them all into the kitchen
to show them the big lamprey that he was going to give them, and called
his wife, and said,

“Show us our lamprey, I want to tell our guests how cheap I bought it.”

“What lamprey?” she asked.

“The lamprey that I gave you for our dinner, along with the other fish.”

“I have seen no lamprey,” she said; “I think you must be dreaming. Here
are a carp, two pike, and I know not what fish beside, but I have seen
no lamprey to day.”

“What?” said he. “Do you think I am drunk?”

“Yes,” replied the curé and the other guests, “we think no less. You are
too niggardly to buy such a lamprey.”

“By God,” said his wife, “he is either making fun of you or he is
dreaming--for certainly I have never seen this lamprey.”

Her husband grew angry, and cried,

“You lie, you whore! Either you have eaten it, or you have hidden it
somewhere. I promise you it will be the dearest lamprey you ever had.”

With that he turned to the curé and the others, and swore by God’s death
and a hundred other oaths, that he had given his wife a lamprey which
had cost him a franc; but they, to tease him and torment him still more,
pretended not to believe him, and that they were very disappointed, and
said;

“We were invited to dinner at such houses, but we refused in order to
come here, thinking we were going to eat this lamprey; but, as far as we
can see, there is no chance of that.”

Their host, who was in a terrible rage, picked up a stick, and advanced
towards his wife to thrash her, but the others held him back, and
dragged him by force out of the house, and with much trouble appeased
him as well as they could. Then, since they could not have the lamprey,
the curé had the table laid, and they made as good cheer as they could.

The good dame meanwhile sent for one of her neighbours, who was a widow,
but still good-looking and lively, and invited her to dinner; and when
she saw her opportunity, she said;

“My dear neighbour, it would be very kind of you to do me a great
service and pleasure, and if you will do this for me, I will repay you
in a manner that will please you.”

“And what do you want me to do?” asked the other.

“I will tell you,” said she. “My husband is so violent in his night-work
that it is astounding, and, in fact, last night he so tumbled me, that
by my oath I am afraid of him to-night. Therefore I would beg of you to
take my place, and if ever I can do anything for you in return, you may
command me--body and goods.”

The good neighbour, to oblige her, promised to take her place--for which
she was greatly thanked.

Now you must know that our merchant when he returned from dinner, laid
in a good stock of birch rods, which he carried secretly into his house,
and hid near his bed, saying to himself that if his wife worried him she
should be well paid.

But he did not do this so secretly but what his wife was on her guard
and prepared, for she knew by long experience her husband’s brutality.

He did not sup at home, but stopped out late, and came home when he
expected she would be in bed and naked. But his design failed, for late
that evening she made her neighbour undress and go to bed in her place,
and charged her expressly not to speak to her husband when he came, but
pretend to be dumb and ill. And she did more, for she put out the fire
both in the chamber and in the kitchen. That being done, she told her
neighbour that as soon as ever her husband rose in the morning, she was
to leave and return to her own house, and she promised that she would.

The neighbour being thus put to bed, the brave woman went off to the
Cordelier to eat the lamprey and gain her pardons, as was her custom.

While she was feasting there, the merchant came home after supper, full
of spite and anger about the lamprey, and to execute the plan he had
conceived, took his rods in his hand and then searched for a light for
the candle, but found no fire even in the chimney.

When he saw that, he went to bed without saying a word, and slept till
dawn, when he rose and dressed, and took his rods, and so thrashed his
wife’s substitute, in revenge for the lamprey, till she bled all over,
and the sheets of the bed were as bloody as though a bullock had been
flayed on them, but the poor woman did not dare to say a word, or even
to show her face.

His rods being all broken, and his arm tired, he left the house, and the
poor woman, who had expected to enjoy the pleasant pastime of the
sports of love, went home soon afterwards to bemoan her ill-luck and
her wounds, and not without cursing and threatening the woman who had
brought this upon her.

Whilst the husband was still away from home, the good woman returned
from seeing the Cordelier, and found the bed-chamber all strewn with
birch twigs, the bed all crumpled, and the sheets covered with blood,
and she then knew that her neighbour had suffered bodily injury, as she
had expected. She at once remade the bed, and put on fresh and clean
sheets, and swept the chamber, and then she went to see her neighbour,
whom she found in a pitiable condition, and it need not be said was not
able to give her any consolation.

As soon as she could, she returned home, and undressed, and laid down
on the fair white bed that she had prepared, and slept well till her
husband returned from the town, his anger quite dissipated by the
revenge he had taken, and came to his wife whom he found in bed
pretending to sleep.

“What is the meaning of this, mademoiselle?” he said. “Is it not time
to get up?”

“Oh dear!” she said, “is it day yet? By my oath I never heard you get
up. I was having a dream which had lasted a long time.”

“I expect,” he replied, “that you were dreaming about the lamprey,
were you not? It would not be very wonderful if you did, for I gave you
something to remember it by this morning.”

“By God!” she said, “I never thought about you or your lamprey.”

“What?” said he. “Have you so soon forgotten?”

“Forgotten?” she answered. “Why not? a dream is soon forgotten.”

“Well, then, did you dream about the bundle of birch rods I used on you
not two hours ago?”

“On me?” she asked.

“Yes, certainly; on you,” he said. “I know very well I thrashed you
soundly, as the sheets of the bed would show.”

“By my oath, dear friend,” she replied, “I do not know what you did
or dreamed, but for my part I recollect very well that this morning you
indulged in the sports of love with much desire; I am sure that if you
dreamed you did anything else to me it must be like yesterday, when you
made sure you had given me the lamprey.”

“That would be a strange dream,” said he. “Show yourself that I may see
you.”

She turned down the bed-clothes and showed herself quite naked, and
without mark or wound. He saw also that the sheets were fair and white,
and without any stain. It need not be said that he was much astonished,
and he thought the matter over for a long time, and was silent. At last
he said;

“By my oath, my dear, I imagined that I gave you a good beating this
morning, even till you bled--but I see well I did nothing of the kind,
and I do not know exactly what _did_ happen.”

“Marry!” she said “Get the idea that you have beaten me out of your
head, for you never touched me, as you can see. Make up your mind that
you dreamed it.”

“I am sure you are right,” said he, “and I beg of you to pardon me,
for I did wrong to abuse you before all the strangers I brought to the
house.”

“That is easily pardoned,” she replied; “but at any rate take care that
you are not so rash and hasty another time.”

“No, I will not be, my dear!” said he.

Thus, as you have heard, was the merchant deceived by his wife, and
made to believe that he had dreamed that he had bought the lamprey; also
in the other matters mentioned above.


*****


[Illustration: 39.jpg BOTH WELL SERVED.]



STORY THE THIRTY-NINTH -- BOTH WELL SERVED. [39]

By Monseigneur De Saint Pol.

_Of a knight who, whilst he was waiting for his mistress amused himself
three times with her maid, who had been sent to keep him company that
he might not be dull; and afterwards amused himself three times with
the lady, and how the husband learned it all from the maid, as you will
hear._


A noble knight of the Marches of Haynau--rich, powerful, brave, and a
good fellow--was in love with a fair lady for a long time, and was so
esteemed and secretly loved by her, that whenever he liked he repaired
to a private and remote part of her castle, where she came to visit him,
and they conversed at their leisure of their pleasant mutual love.

Not a soul knew of their pleasant pastime, except a damsel who served
the lady, and who had kept the matter secret for a long time, and had
served the dame so willingly in all her affairs that she was worthy of a
great reward. Moreover, she was such a good girl, that not only had she
gained the affection of her mistress for her services in this and other
matters, but the husband of the lady esteemed her as much as his wife
did, because he found her good, trustworthy, and diligent.

It chanced one day that the lady knew her aforesaid lover to be in
the house, but could not go to him as soon as she wished, because her
husband detained her; at which she was much vexed, and sent the damsel
to tell him that he must yet have patience, and that, as soon as she
could get rid of her husband, she would come to him.

The damsel went to the knight, who was awaiting the lady, and delivered
her message, and he, being a courteous knight, thanked her much for her
message, and made her sit by him; then tenderly kissed her two or
three times. She did not object, which gave the knight encouragement to
proceed to other liberties, which also were not refused him.

This being finished, she returned to her mistress, and told her that her
lover was anxiously awaiting her.

“Alas!” said the lady, “I know full well he is, but my husband will not
go to bed, and there are a lot of people here whom I cannot leave. God
curse them! I would much rather be with him. He is very dull, is he
not--all alone up there?”

“Faith! I believe he is,” replied the damsel, “but he comforts himself
as well as he can with the hope of your coming.’’

“That I believe, but at any rate he has been all alone, and without a
light, for more than two hours; it must be very lonely. I beg you, my
dear, to go back to him again and make excuses for me, and stay with
him. May the devil take the people who keep me here!”

“I will do what you please, madam, but it seems to me that he loves you
so much you have no need to make excuses; and also, that, if I go, you
will have no woman here, and perhaps monseigneur may ask for me and I
cannot be found.”

“Do not trouble about that,” said the lady. “I will manage that all
right if he should ask for you. But it vexes me that my friend should be
alone--go and see what he is doing, I beg.”

“I will go, since you wish it,” she replied.

That she was pleased with her errand need not be said, though to conceal
her willingness she had made excuses to her mistress. She soon came to
the knight, who was still waiting, and said to him;

“Monseigneur, madame has sent me to you again to make her excuses for
keeping you so long waiting, and to tell you how vexed she is.”

“You may tell her,” said he, “that she may come at her leisure, and not
to hurry on my account, for you can take her place.”

With that he kissed and cuddled her, and did not suffer her to depart
till he had tumbled her twice, which was not much trouble to him, for he
was young and vigorous, and fond of that sport.

The damsel bore it all patiently, and would have been glad to often have
the same luck, if she could without prejudice to her mistress.

When she was about to leave, she begged the knight to say nothing to her
mistress.

“Have no fear,” said he.

“I beg of you to be silent,” she said.

Then she returned to her mistress, who asked what her friend was doing?

“He is still,” the damsel replied, “awaiting you.”

“But,” said the lady, “is he not vexed and angry?”

“No,” said the damsel, “since he had company. He is much obliged to you
for having sent me, and if he often had to wait would like to have me to
talk to him to pass the time,--and, faith! I should like nothing better,
for he is the pleasantest man I ever talked to. God knows that it
was good to hear him curse the folks who detained you--all except
monseigneur; he would say nothing against him.”

“St. John! I wish that he and all his company were in the river, so that
I could get away.”

In due time monseigneur--thank God--sent away his servants, retired
to his chamber, undressed, and went to bed. Madame, dressed only in
a petticoat, put on her night-dress, took her prayer-book, and
began,--devoutly enough God knows--to say her psalms and paternosters,
but monseigneur, who was as wide awake as a rat, was anxious for a
little conversation, and wished madame to put off saying her prayers
till the morrow, and talk to him.

“Pardon me,” she replied, “but I cannot talk to you now--God comes first
you know. Nothing would go right in the house all the week if I did not
give God what little praise I can, and I should expect bad luck if I did
not say my prayers now.”

“You sicken me with all this bigotry,” said monseigneur. “What is
the use of saying all these prayers? Come on, come on! and leave
that business to the priests. Am I not right, Jehannette?” he added,
addressing the damsel before mentioned.

“Monseigneur,” she replied, “I do not know what to say, except that as
madame is accustomed to serve God, let her do so.”

“There, there!” said madame to her husband, “I see well that you want
to argue, and I wish to finish my prayers, so we shall not agree. I will
leave Jehannette to talk to you, and will go to my little chamber behind
to petition God.”

Monseigneur was satisfied, and madame went off at full gallop to her
friend, the knight, who received her with God knows how great joy, and
the honour that he did her was to bend her knees and lay her down.

But you must know that whilst madame was saying her prayers with her
lover, it happened, I know not how, that her husband begged Jehannette,
who was keeping him company, to grant him her favours.

To cut matters short, by his promises and fine words she was induced to
obey him, but the worst of it was that madame, when she returned from
seeing her lover, who had tumbled her twice before she left, found her
husband and Jehannette, her waiting-woman, engaged in the very same work
which she had been performing, at which she was much astonished; and
still more so were her husband and Jehannette at being thus surprised.

When madame saw that, God knows how she saluted them, though she would
have done better to hold her tongue; and she vented her rage so on poor
Jehannette that it seemed as though she must have a devil in her belly,
or she could not have used such abominable words.

Indeed she did more and worse, for she picked up a big stick and laid
it across the girl’s shoulders, on seeing which, monseigneur, who was
already vexed and angry, jumped up and so beat his wife that she could
not rise.

Having then nothing but her tongue, she used it freely God knows, but
addressed most of her venomous speeches to poor Jehannette, who no
longer able to bear them, told monseigneur of the goings-on of his wife,
and where she had been to say her prayers, and with whom.

The whole company was troubled--monseigneur because he had good cause to
suspect his wife, and madame, who was wild with rage, well beaten, and
accused by her waiting-woman.

How this unfortunate household lived after that, those who know can
tell.


*****



STORY THE FORTIETH -- THE BUTCHER’S WIFE WHO PLAYED THE GHOST IN THE
CHIMNEY.

By Michault De Changy.

_Of a Jacobin who left his mistress, a butcher’s wife, for another woman
who was younger and prettier, and how the said butcher’s wife tried to
enter his house by the chimney._


It happened formerly at Lille, that a famous clerk and preacher of the
order of St. Dominic, converted, by his holy and eloquent preaching,
the wife of a butcher; in such wise that she loved him more than all the
world, and was never perfectly happy when he was not with her.

But in the end Master Monk tired of her, and wished that she would not
visit him so often, at which she was as vexed as she could be, but the
rebuff only made her love him the more.

The monk, seeing that, forbade her to come to his chamber, and charged
his clerk not to admit her, whatever she might say; at which she was
more vexed and infuriated than ever, and small marvel.

If you ask me why the monk did this, I should reply that it was not from
devotion, or a desire to lead a chaste life, but that he had made the
acquaintance of another woman, who was prettier, much younger, and
richer, and with whom he was on such terms that she had a key to his
chamber.

Thus it was that the butcher’s wife never came to him, as she had been
accustomed, so that his new mistress could in all leisure and security
come and gain her pardons and pay her tithe, like the women of
Ostelleria, of whom mention has been made.

One day, after dinner, there was a great feast held in the chamber of
Master Monk, and his mistress had promised to come and bring her
share both of wine and meat. And as some of the other brothers in that
monastery were of the same kidney, he secretly invited two or three of
them; and God knows they had good cheer at this dinner, which did not
finish without plenty of drink.

Now you must know that the butcher’s wife was acquainted with many of
the servants of these preachers, and she saw them pass her house, some
bearing wine, some pasties, some tarts, and so many other things that it
was wonderful.

She could not refrain from asking what feast was going forward at
their house? And the answer was that all this dainties were for such an
one,--that is to say her monk--who had some great people to dinner.

“And who are they?” she asked.

“Faith! I know not,” he said. “I only carry my wine to the door, and
there our master takes it from us. I know not who is there!”

“I see,” she said, “that it is a secret. Well, well! go on and do your
duty.”

Soon there passed another servant, of whom she asked the same questions,
and he replied as his fellow had done, but rather more, for he said,

“I believe there is a damsel there;--but she wishes her presence to be
neither seen nor known.”

She guessed who it was, and was in a great rage, and said to herself
that she would keep an eye upon the woman who had robbed her of the love
of her friend, and, no doubt, if she had met her she would have read her
a pretty lesson, and scratched her face.

She set forth with the intention of executing the plan she had
conceived. When she arrived at the place, she waited long to meet the
person she most hated in the world, but she had not the patience to wait
till her rival came out of the chamber where the feast was being held,
so at last she determined to use a ladder that a tiler, who was at work
at the roof, had left there whilst he went to dinner.

She placed this ladder against the kitchen chimney of the house, with
the intention of dropping in and saluting the company, for she knew well
that she could not enter in any other way.

The ladder being placed exactly as she wished it, she ascended it to
the chimney, round which she tied a fairly thick cord that by chance she
found there. Having tied that firmly, as she believed, she entered the
said chimney and began to descend; but the worst of it was that she
stuck there without being able to go up or down, however much she
tried--and this was owing to her backside being so big and heavy, and to
the fact that the cord broke, so that she could not climb back. She was
in sore distress, God knows, and did not know what to say or do. She
reflected that it would be better to await the arrival of the tiler, and
make an appeal to him when he came to look for his ladder and his rope;
but this hope was taken from her, for the tiler did not come to work
until the next morning, on account of the heavy rain, of which she had
her share, for she was quite drenched.

When the evening grew late, the poor woman heard persons talking in
the kitchen, whereupon she began to shout, at which they were much
astonished and frightened, for they knew not who was calling them,
or whence the voice came. Nevertheless, astonished as they were, they
listened a little while, and heard the voice now in front and now
behind, shrieking shrilly. They believed it was a spirit, and went to
tell their master, who was in the dormitory, and was not brave enough to
come and see what it was, but put it off till the morning.

You may guess what long hours the poor woman spent, being all night in
the chimney. And, by bad luck, it rained heavily for a long time.

The next day, early in the morning, the tiler came to work, to make
up for the time the rain had made him lose on the previous day. He was
quite astonished to find his ladder in another place than where he left
it, and the rope tied round the chimney, and did not know who had done
it. He determined to fetch the rope, and mounted the ladder and came
to the chimney, and undid the cord, and put his head down the chimney,
where he saw the butcher’s wife, looking more wretched than a drowned
cat, at which he was much astonished.

“What are you doing here, dame?” he asked. “Do you want to rob the poor
monks who live here?”

“Alas, friend,” she replied, “by my oath I do not. I beg of you to help
me to get out, and I will give you whatever you ask.”

“I will do nothing of the kind,” he said, “if I do not know who you are
and whence you come.”

“I will tell you if you like,” she said, “but I beg of you not to repeat
it.”

Then she told him all about her love affair with the monk, and why she
had come there. The tiler took pity on her, and with some trouble,
and by means of his rope, pulled her out, and brought her down to the
ground. And she promised him that if he held his tongue she would give
him beef and mutton enough to supply him and his family all the year,
which she did. And the other kept the matter so secret that everybody
heard of it.


*****


[Illustration: 41.jpg Love in Arms.]



STORY THE FORTY-FIRST -- LOVE IN ARMS.

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a knight who made his wife wear a hauberk whenever he would do you
know what; and of a clerk who taught her another method which she almost
told her husband, but turned it off suddenly._


A noble knight of Haynau, who was wise, cunning, and a great traveller,
found such pleasure in matrimony, that after the death of his good
and prudent wife, he could not exist long unmarried, and espoused a
beautiful damsel of good condition, who was not one of the cleverest
people in the world, for, to tell the truth, she was rather dull-witted,
which much pleased her husband, because he thought he could more easily
bend her to his will.

He devoted all his time and study to training her to obey him, and
succeeded as well as he could possibly have wished. And, amongst other
matters, whenever he would indulge in the battle of love with her--which
was not as often as she would have wished--he made her put on a splendid
hauberk, at which she was at first much astonished, and asked why she
was armed, and he replied that she could not withstand his amorous
assaults if she were not armed. So she was content to wear the hauberk;
and her only regret was that her husband was not more fond of making
these assaults, for they were more trouble than pleasure to him.

If you should ask why her lord made her wear this singular costume,
I should reply that he hoped that the pain and inconvenience of the
hauberk would prevent his wife from being too fond of these amorous
assaults; but, wise as he was, he made a great mistake, for if in each
love-battle the hauberk had broken her back and bruised her belly, she
would not have refused to put it on, so sweet and pleasant did she find
that which followed.

They thus lived together for a long time, till her husband was ordered
to serve his prince in the war, in another sort of battle to that
above-mentioned, so he took leave of his wife and went where he was
ordered, and she remained at home in the charge of an old gentleman, and
of certain damsels who served her.

Now you must know that there was in the house a good fellow, a clerk,
who was treasurer of the household, and who sang and played the
harp well. After dinner he would often play, which gave madame great
pleasure, and she would often come to him when she heard the sound of
his harp.

She came so often that the clerk at last made love to her, and she,
being desirous to put on her hauberk again, listened to his petition,
and replied;

“Come to me at a certain time, in such a chamber, and I will give you a
reply that will please you.”

She was greatly thanked, and at the hour named, the clerk did not fail
to rap at the door of the chamber the lady had indicated, where she was
quietly awaiting him with her fine hauberk on her back.

She opened the door, and the clerk saw her armed, and thinking that some
one was concealed there to do him a mischief, was so scared that, in his
fright, he tumbled down backwards I know not how many stairs, and might
have broken his neck, but luckily he was not hurt, for, being in a good
cause, God protected him.

Madame, who saw his danger, was much vexed and displeased; she ran down
and helped him to rise, and asked why he was in such fear? He told her
that truly he thought he had fallen into an ambush.

“You have nothing to fear,” she said, “I am not armed with the intention
of doing you any hurt,” and so saying they mounted the stairs together,
and entered the chamber.

“Madame,” said the clerk, “I beg of you to tell me, if you please, why
you have put on this hauberk?”

She blushed and replied, “You know very well.”

“By my oath, madame, begging your pardon,” said he, “if I had known I
should not have asked.”

“My husband,” she replied, “whenever he would kiss me, and talk of love,
makes me dress in this way; and as I know that you have come here for
that purpose, I prepared myself accordingly.”

“Madame,” he said, “you are right, and I remember now that it is the
manner of knights to arm their ladies in this way. But clerks
have another method, which, in my opinion is much nicer and more
comfortable.”

“Please tell me what that is,” said the lady.

“I will show you,” he replied. Then he took off the hauberk, and the
rest of her apparel down to her chemise, and he also undressed himself,
and they got into the fair bed that was there, and--both being disarmed
even of their chemises--passed two or three hours very pleasantly. And
before leaving, the clerk showed her the method used by clerks, which
she greatly praised, as being much better than that of knights. They
often met afterwards, also in the same way, without its becoming known,
although the lady was not over-cunning.

After a certain time, her husband returned from the war, at which she
was not inwardly pleased, though outwardly she tried to pretend to be.
His coming was known, and God knows how great a dinner was prepared.
Dinner passed, and grace being said, the knight--to show he was a good
fellow, and a loving husband--said to her,

“Go quickly to our chamber, and put on your hauberk.” She, remembering
the pleasant time she had had with her clerk, replied quickly,

“Ah, monsieur, the clerks’ way is the best.”

“The clerks’ way!” he cried. “And how do you know their way?” and he
began to fret and to change colour, and suspect something; but he never
knew the truth, for his suspicions were quickly dissipated.

Madame was not such a fool but what she could see plainly that her
husband was not pleased at what she had said, and quickly bethought
herself of a way of getting out of the difficulty.

“I said that the clerks’ way is the best; and I say it again.”

“And what is that?” he asked.

“They drink after grace.”

“Indeed, by St. John, you speak truly!” he cried. “Verily it is their
custom, and it is not a bad one; and since you so much care for it, we
will keep it in future.”

So wine was brought and they drank it, and then Madame went to put on
her hauberk, which she would willingly have done without, for the gentle
clerk had showed her another way which pleased her better.

Thus, as you have heard, was Monsieur deceived by his wife’s ready
reply. No doubt her wits had been sharpened by her intercourse with the
clerk, and after that he showed her plenty of other tricks, and in the
end he and her husband became great friends.


*****



STORY THE FORTY-SECOND -- THE MARRIED PRIEST. [42]

By Meriadech.

_Of a village clerk who being at Rome and believing that his wife was
dead became a priest, and was appointed curé of his own town, and when
he returned, the first person he met was his wife._


In the year ‘50 (*) just passed, the clerk of a village in the diocese
of Noyon, that he might gain the pardons, which as every one knows were
then given at Rome (**), set out in company with many respectable people
of Noyon, Compeigne, and the neighbouring places.

     (*) 1450

     (**) Special indulgences were granted that year on account
     of the Jubilee

But, before leaving, he carefully saw to his private affairs, arranged
for the support of his wife and family, and entrusted the office of
sacristan, which he held, to a young and worthy clerk to hold until his
return.

In a fairly brief space of time, he and his companions arrived at Rome,
and performed their devotions and their pilgrimage as well as they knew
how. But you must know that our clerk met, by chance, at Rome, one of
his old school-fellows, who was in the service of a great Cardinal, and
occupied a high position, and who was very glad to meet his old friend,
and asked him how he was. And the other told him everything--first of
all that he was, alas! married, how many children he had, and how that
he was a parish clerk.

“Ah!” said his friend, “by my oath! I am much grieved that you are
married.”

“Why?” asked the other.

“I will tell you,” said he; “such and such a Cardinal has charged me to
find him a secretary, a native of our province. This would have suited
you, and you would have been largely remunerated, were it not that your
marriage will cause you to return home, and, I fear, lose many benefits
that you cannot now get.”

“By my oath!” said the clerk, “my marriage is no great consequence,
for--to tell you the truth--the pardon was but an excuse for getting out
of the country, and was not the principal object of my journey; for
I had determined to enjoy myself for two or three years in travelling
about, and if, during that time, God should take my wife, I should only
be too happy. So I beg and pray of you to think of me and to speak well
for me to this Cardinal, that I may serve him; and, by my oath, I
will so bear myself that you shall have no fault to find with me; and,
moreover, you will do me the greatest service that ever one friend did
another.”

“Since that is your wish,” said his friend, “I will oblige you at once,
and will lodge you too if you wish.”

“Thank you, friend,” said the other.

To cut matters short, our clerk lodged with the Cardinal, and wrote and
told his wife of his new position, and that he did not intend to return
home as soon as he had intended when he left. She consoled herself, and
wrote back that she would do the best she could.

Our worthy clerk conducted himself so well in the service of the
Cardinal, and gained such esteem, that his master had no small regret
that his secretary was incapable of holding a living, for which he was
exceedingly well fitted.

Whilst our clerk was thus in favour, the curé of his village died, and
thus left the living vacant during one of the Pope’s months. (*)
The Sacristan who held the place of his friend who had gone to Rome,
determined that he would hurry to Rome as quickly as he could, and do
all in his power to get the living for himself. He lost no time, and in
a few days, after much trouble and fatigue, found himself at Rome, and
rested not till he had discovered his friend--the clerk who served the
Cardinal.

After mutual salutations, the clerk asked after his wife, and the other,
expecting to give him much pleasure and further his own interests in
the request he was about to make, replied that she was dead--in which
he lied, for I know that at this present moment (**) she can still worry
her husband.

     (*) During eight months of the year, the Pope had the right
     of bestowing all livings which became vacant.

     (**) That is when the story was written.

“Do you say that my wife is dead?” cried the clerk. “May God pardon her
all her sins.”

“Yes, truly,” replied the other; “the plague carried her off last year,
along with many others.”

He told this lie, which cost him dear, because he knew that the clerk
had only left home on account of his wife, who was of a quarrelsome
disposition, and he thought the most pleasant news he could bring was
to announce her death, and truly so it would have been, but the news was
false.

“And what brings you to this country?” asked the clerk after many and
various questions.

“I will tell you, my friend and companion. The curé of our town is dead;
so I came to you to ask if by any means I could obtain the benefice. I
would beg of you to help me in this matter. I know that it is in your
power to procure me the living, with the help of monseigneur, your
master.”

The clerk, thinking that his wife was dead, and the cure of his native
town vacant, thought to himself that he would snap up this living, and
others too if he could get them. But, all the same, he said nothing to
his friend, except that it would not be his fault if the other were not
curé of their town,--for which he was much thanked.

It happened quite otherwise, for, on the morrow, our Holy Father, at the
request of the Cardinal, the master of our clerk, gave the latter the
living.

Thereupon this clerk, when he heard the news, came to his companion, and
said to him,

“Ah, friend, by my oath, your hopes are dissipated, at which I am much
vexed.”

“How so?” asked the other.

“The cure of our town is given,” he said, “but I know not to whom.
Monseigneur, my master, tried to help you, but it was not in his power
to accomplish it.”

At which the other was vexed, after he had come so far and expended so
much. So he sorrowfully took leave of his friend, and returned to his
own country, without boasting about the lie he had told.

But let us return to our clerk, who was as merry as a grig at the news
of the death of his wife, and to whom the benefice of his native town
had been given, at the request of his master, by the Holy Father, as
a reward for his services. And let us record how he became a priest at
Rome, and chanted his first holy Mass, and took leave of his master for
a time, in order to return and take possession of his living.

When he entered the town, by ill luck the first person that he chanced
to meet was his wife, at which he was much astonished I can assure you,
and still more vexed.

“What is the meaning of this, my dear?” he asked. “They told me you were
dead!”

“Nothing of the kind,” she said. “You say so, I suppose, because you
wish it, as you have well proved, for you have left me for five years,
with a number of young children to take care of.”

“My dear,” he said, “I am very glad to see you in good health, and I
praise God for it with all my heart. Cursed be he who brought me false
news.”

“Amen!” she replied.

“But I must tell you, my dear, that I cannot stay now; I am obliged to
go in haste to the Bishop of Noyon, on a matter which concerns him; but
I will return to you as quickly as I can.”

He left his wife, and took his way to Noyon; but God knows that all
along the road he thought of his strange position.

“Alas!” he said, “I am undone and dishonoured. A priest! a clerk! and
married! I suppose I am the first miserable wretch to whom that ever
occurred!”

He went to the Bishop of Noyon, who was much surprised at hearing his
case, and did not know what to advise him, so sent him back to Rome.

When he arrived there, he related his adventure at length to his master,
who was bitterly annoyed, and on the morrow repeated it to our Holy
Father, in the presence of the Sacred College and all the Cardinals.

So it was ordered that he should remain priest, and married, and curé
also; and that he should live with his wife as a married man, honourably
and without reproach, and that his children should be legitimate and not
bastards, although their father was a priest. Moreover, that if it was
found he lived apart from his wife, he should lose the living.

Thus, as you have heard, was this gallant punished for believing the
false news of his friend, and was obliged to go and live in his own
parish, and, which was worse, with his wife, with whose company he would
have gladly dispensed if the Church had not ordered it otherwise.


*****


[Illustration: 43.jpg A BARGAIN IN HORNS.]



STORY THE FORTY-THIRD -- A BARGAIN IN HORNS.

By Monseigneur De Fiennes.

_Of a labourer who found a man with his wife, and forwent his revenge
for a certain quantity of wheat, but his wife insisted that he should
complete the work he had begun._


There lived formerly, in the district of Lille, a worthy man who was a
labourer and tradesman, and who managed, by the good offices of himself
and his friends, to obtain for a wife a very pretty young girl, but who
was not rich, neither was her husband, but he was very covetous, and
diligent in business, and loved to gain money.

And she, for her part, attended to the household as her husband desired;
who therefore had a good opinion of her, and often went about his
business without any suspicion that she was other than good.

But whilst the poor man thus came and went, and left his wife alone,
a good fellow came to her, and, to cut the story short, was in a short
time the deputy for the trusting husband, who still believed that he
had the best wife in the world, and the one who most thought about the
increase of his honour and his worldly wealth.

It was not so, for she gave him not the love she owed him, and cared not
whether he had profit or loss by her. The good merchant aforesaid, being
out as usual, his wife soon informed her friend, who did not fail to
come as he was desired, at once. And not to lose his time, he approached
his mistress, and made divers amorous proposals to her, and in short
the desired pleasure was not refused him any more than on the former
occasions, which had not been few.

By bad luck, whilst the couple were thus engaged, the husband arrived,
and found them at work, and was much astonished, for he did not know
that his wife was a woman of that sort.

“What is this?” he said. “By God’s death, scoundrel, I will kill you on
the spot.”

The other, who had been caught in the act, and was much scared, knew
not what to say, but as he was aware that the husband was miserly and
covetous, he said quickly:

“Ah, John, my friend, I beg your mercy; pardon me if I have done you any
wrong, and on my word I will give you six bushels of wheat.”

“By God!” said he, “I will do nothing of the kind. You shall die by my
hands and I will have your life if I do not have twelve bushels.”

The good wife, who heard this dispute, in order to restore peace, came
forward, and said to her husband.

“John, dear, let him finish what he has begun, I beg, and you shall have
eight bushels. Shall he not?” she added, turning to her lover.

“I am satisfied,” he said, “though on my oath it is too much, seeing how
dear corn is.”

“It is too much?” said the good man. “Morbleu! I much regret that I did
not say more, for you would have to pay a much heavier fine if you were
brought to justice: however, make up your mind that I will have twelve
bushels, or you shall die.”

“Truly, John,” said his wife, “you are wrong to contradict me. It seems
to me that you ought to be satisfied with eight bushels, for you know
that is a large quantity of wheat.”

“Say no more,” he replied, “I will have twelve bushels, or I will kill
him and you too.”

“The devil,” quoth the lover; “you drive a bargain; but at least, if I
must pay you, let me have time.”

“That I agree to, but I will have my twelve bushels.”

The dispute ended thus, and it was agreed that he was to pay in two
instalments,--six bushels on the morrow, and the others on St. Remy’s
day, then near.

All this was arranged by the wife, who then said to her husband.

“You are satisfied, are you not, to receive your wheat in the manner I
have said?”

“Certainly,” he replied.

“Then go,” she said, “whilst he finishes the work he had begun when you
interrupted him; otherwise the contract will not be binding.”

“By St. John! is it so?” said the lover.

“I always keep my word,” said the good merchant. “By God, no man shall
say I am a cheat or a liar. You will finish the job you have begun, and
I am to have my twelve bushels of wheat on the terms agreed. That was
our contract--was it not?”

“Yes, truly,” said his wife.

“Good bye, then,” said the husband, “but at any rate be sure that I have
six bushels of wheat to-morrow.”

“Don’t be afraid,” said the other. “I will keep my word.” So the good
man left the house, quite joyful that he was to have twelve bushels of
wheat, and his wife and her lover recommenced more heartily than ever. I
have heard that the wheat was duly delivered on the dates agreed.


*****


[Illustration: 44.jpg The match-making Priest.]



STORY THE FORTY-FOURTH -- THE MATCH-MAKING PRIEST.

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a village priest who found a husband for a girl with whom he was in
love, and who had promised him that when she was married she would do
whatever he wished, of which he reminded her on the wedding-day, and the
husband heard it, and took steps accordingly, as you will hear._


In the present day they are many priests and curés who are good fellows,
and who can as easily commit follies and imprudences as laymen can.

In a pretty village of Picardy, there lived formerly a curé of a
lecherous disposition. Amongst the other pretty girls and women of his
parish, he cast eyes on a young and very pretty damsel of nubile age,
and was bold enough to tell her what he wanted.

Won over by his fair words, and the hundred thousand empty promises he
made, she was almost ready to listen to his requests, which would have
been a great pity, for she was a nice and pretty girl with pleasant
manners, and had but one fault,--which was that she was not the most
quick-witted person in the world.

I do not know why it occurred to her to answer him in that manner, but
one day she told the curé, when he was making hot love to her, that she
was not inclined to do what he required until she was married, for if
by chance, as happened every day, she had a baby, she would always be
dishonoured and reproached by her father, mother, brothers, and all her
family, which she could not bear, nor had she strength to sustain the
grief and worry which such a misfortune would entail.

“Nevertheless, if some day I am married, speak to me again, and I will
do what I can for you, but not otherwise; so give heed to what I say and
believe me once for all.”

The cure was not over-pleased at this definite reply, bold and sensible
as it was, but he was so amorous that he would not abandon all hope, and
said to the girl;

“Are you so firmly decided, my dear, not to do anything for me until you
are married?”

“Certainly, I am,” she replied.

“And if you are married, and I am the means and the cause, you will
remember it afterwards, and honestly and loyally perform what you have
promised?”

“By my oath, yes,” she said, “I promise you.”

“Thank you,” he said, “make your mind easy, for I promise you faithfully
that if you are not married soon it will not be for want of efforts or
expense on my part, for I am sure that you cannot desire it more than
I do; and in order to prove that I am devoted to you soul and body, you
will see how I will manage this business.”

“Very well, monsieur le curé,” she said, “we shall see what you will
do.”

With that she took leave of him, and the good curé, who was madly in
love with her, was not satisfied till he had seen her father. He talked
over various matters with him, and at last the worthy priest spoke to
the old man about his daughter, and said,

“Neighbour, I am much astonished, as also are many of your neighbours
and friends, that you do not let your daughter marry. Why do you keep
her at home when you know how dangerous it is? Not that--God forbid--I
say, or wish to say, that she is not virtuous, but every day we see
girls go wrong because they do not marry at the proper age. Forgive me
for so openly stating my opinion, but the respect I have for you, and
the duty I owe you as your unworthy pastor, require and compel me to
tell you this.”

“By the Lord, monsieur le curé,” said the good man, “I know that your
words are quite true, and I thank you for them, and do not think that
I have kept her so long at home from any selfish motive, for if her
welfare is concerned I will do all I can for her, as I ought. You would
not wish, nor is it usual, that I should buy a husband for her, but if
any respectable young man should come along, I will do everything that a
good father should.”

“Well said,” replied the curé, “and on my word, you could not do better
than marry her off quickly. It is a great thing to be able to see your
grandchildren round you before you become too old. What do you say
to so-and-so, the son of your neighbour?--He seems to me a good,
hard-working man, who would make a good husband.”

“By St. John!” said the old man, “I have nothing but good to say about
him. For my own part, I know him to be a good young man and a good
worker. His father and mother, and all his relatives, are respectable
people, and if they do me the honour to ask my daughter’s hand in
marriage for him, I shall reply in a manner that will satisfy them.”

“You could not say more,” replied the curé, “and, if it please God, the
matter shall be arranged as I wish, and as I know for a fact that this
marriage would be to the benefit of both parties, I will do my best to
farther it, and with this I will now say farewell to you.”

If the curé had played his part well with the girl’s father, he was
quite as clever in regard to the father of the young man. He began with
a preamble to the effect that his son was of an age to marry, and ought
to settle down, and brought a hundred thousand reasons to show that the
world would be lost if his son were not soon married.

“Monsieur le curé,” replied also the second old man, “there is much
truth in what you say, and if I were now as well off as I was, I know
not how many years ago, he would not still be unmarried; for there is
nothing in the world I desire more than to see him settled, but want
of money has prevented it, and so he must have patience until the Lord
sends us more wealth than we have at present.”

“Then,” said the curé, “if I understand you aright, it is only money
that is wanting.”

“Faith! that is so,” said the old man. “If I had now as much as I had
formerly, I should soon seek a wife for him.”

“I have concerned myself,” said the curé, “because I desire the welfare
and prosperity of your son, and find that the daughter of such an one
(that is to say his ladylove) would exactly suit him. She is pretty and
virtuous, and her father is well off, and, as I know, would give
some assistance, and--which is no small matter--is a wise man of good
counsel, and a friend to whom you and your son could have recourse. What
do you say?”

“Certainly,” said the good man, “if it please God that my son should be
fortunate enough to be allied to such a good family; and if I thought
that he could anyhow succeed in that, I would get together what money I
could, and would go round to all my friends, for I am sure that he could
never find anyone more suitable.”

“I have not chosen badly then,” said the curé. “And what would you say
if I spoke about this matter to her father, and conducted it to its
desired end, and, moreover, lent you twenty francs for a certain period
that we could arrange?”

“By my oath, monsieur le curé,” said the good man, “you offer me more
than I deserve. If you did this, you would render a great service to me
and mine.”

“Truly,” answered the curé, “I have not said anything that I do not mean
to perform; so be of good cheer, for I hope to see this matter at an
end.”

To shorten matters, the curé, hoping to have the woman when once she
was married, arranged the matter so well that, with the twenty francs he
lent, the marriage was settled, and the wedding day arrived.

Now it is the custom that the bride and bridegroom confess on that day.
The bridegroom came first, and when he had finished, he withdrew to a
little distance saying his orisons and his paternosters. Then came the
bride, who knelt down before the curé and confessed. When she had said
all she had to say, he spoke to her in turn, and so loudly, that the
bridegroom, who was not far off, heard every word, and said,

“My dear, I beg you to remember now the promise you formerly made me.
You promised me that when you were married that I should ride you; and
now you are married, thank God, by my means and endeavours, and through
the money that I have lent.”

“Monsieur le curé,” she said, “have no fear but what I will keep the
promise I have made, if God so please.”

“Thank you,” he replied, and then gave her absolution after this devout
confession, and suffered her to depart.

The bridegroom, who had heard these words, was not best pleased, but
nevertheless thought it not the right moment to show his vexation.

After all the ceremonies at the church were over, the couple returned
home, and bed-time drew near. The bridegroom whispered to a friend of
his whom he dearly loved, to fetch a big handful of birch rods, and hide
them secretly under the bed, and this the other did.

When the time came, the bride went to bed, as is the custom, and kept
to the edge of the bed, and said not a word. The bridegroom came soon
after, and lay on the other edge of the bed without approaching her, or
saying a word and in the morning he rose without doing anything else,
and hid his rods again under the bed.

When he had left the room, there came several worthy matrons who found
the bride in bed, and asked her how the night had passed, and what she
thought of her husband?

“Faith!” she said, “there was his place over there”--pointing to the
edge of the bed--“and here was mine. He never came near me, and I never
went near him.”

They were all much astonished, and did not know what to think, but
at last they agreed that if he had not touched her, it was from some
religious motive, and they thought no more of it for that once.

The second night came, and the bride lay down in the place she had
occupied the previous night, and the bridegroom, still furnished with
his rods, did the same and nothing more; and this went on for two more
nights, at which the bride was much displeased, and did not fail to tell
the matrons the next day, who knew not what to think.

“It is to be feared he is not a man, for he has continued four nights in
that manner. He must be told what he has to do; so if to-night he does
not begin,”--they said to the bride--“draw close to him and cuddle
and kiss him, and ask him if married people do not do something else
besides? And if he should ask you what you want him to do? tell him that
you want him to ride you, and you will hear what he will say.”

“I will do so,” she said.

She failed not, for that night she lay in her usual place, and her
husband took up his old quarters, and made no further advances than he
had on the previous nights. So she turned towards him, and throwing her
arms round him, said;

“Come here husband! Is this the pleasant time I was to expect? This is
the fifth night I have slept with you, and you have not deigned to come
near me! On my word I should never have wished to be married if I had
not thought married people did something else.”

“And what did they tell you married people did?” he asked.

“They say,” she replied, “that the one rides the other. I want you to
ride me.”

“Ride!” he said. “I would not like to do that.--I would not be so
unkind.”

“Oh, I beg of you to do it--for that is what married people do.”

“You want me to do it?” he asked.

“I beg of you to do it,” she said, and so saying she kissed him
tenderly.

“By my oath!” he said, “I will do it, since you ask me to though much
to my regret, for I am sure that you will not like it.”

Without saying another word he took his stock of rods, and stripped his
wife, and thrashed her soundly, back and belly, legs and thighs, till
she was bathed in blood. She screamed, she cried, she struggled, and
it was piteous to see her, and she cursed the moment that she had ever
asked to be ridden.

“I told you so,” said her husband, and then took her in his arms and
“rode” her so nicely that she forgot the pain of the beating.

“What do you call that you have just done?” she asked.

“It is called,” he said, “‘to blow up the backside’.”

“Blow up the backside!” she said. “The expression is not so pretty as
‘to ride’, but the operation is much nicer, and, now that I have learned
the difference, I shall know what to ask for in future.”

Now you must know that the curé was always on the look-out for when the
newly married bride should come to church, to remind her of her promise.
The first time she appeared, he sidled up to the font, and when she
passed him, he gave her holy water, and said in a low voice,

“My dear! you promised me that I should ride you when you were married!
You are married now, thank God, and it is time to think when and how you
will keep your word.”

“Ride?” she said. “By God, I would rather see you hanged or drowned!
Don’t talk to me about riding. But I will let you blow up my backside if
you like!”

“And catch your quartain fever!” said the curé, “beastly dirty,
ill-mannered whore that you are! Am I to be rewarded after all I have
done for you, by being permitted to blow up your backside!”

So the curé went off in a huff, and the bride took her seat that she
might hear the holy Mass, which the good curé was about to read.

And thus, in the manner which you have just heard, did the curé lose his
chance of enjoying the girl, by his own fault and no other’s, because he
spoke too loudly to her the day when he confessed her, for her husband
prevented him, in the way described above, by making his wife believe
that the act of ‘riding’ was called ‘to blow up the backside’.


*****



STORY THE FORTY-FIFTH -- THE SCOTSMAN TURNED WASHERWOMAN

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a young Scotsman who was disguised as a woman for the space of
fourteen years, and by that means slept with many girls and married
women, but was punished in the end, as you will hear._


None of the preceding stories have related any incidents which happened
in Italy, but only those which occurred in France, Germany, England,
Flanders, and Brabant,--therefore I will relate, as something new, an
incident which formerly happened in Rome, and was as follows.

At Rome was a Scotsman of the age of about 22, who for the space of
fourteen years had disguised himself as a woman, without it being
publicly known all that time that he was a man. He called himself
Margaret, and there was hardly a good house in Rome where he was
not known, and he was specially welcomed by all the women, such as
waiting-women, and wenches of the lower orders, and also many of the
greatest ladies in Rome.

This worthy Scotsman carried on the trade of laundress, and had learned
to bleach sheets, and called himself the washerwoman, and under that
pretence frequented, as has been said, all the best houses in Rome, for
there was no woman who could bleach sheets as he did.

But you must know that he did much else beside, for when he found
himself with some pretty girl, he showed her that he was a man. Often,
in order to prepare the lye, he stopped one or two nights in the
aforesaid houses, and they made him sleep with the maid, or sometimes
with the daughter; and very often, if her husband were not there, the
mistress would have his company. And God knows that he had a good time,
and, thanks to the way he employed his body, was welcome everywhere, and
many wenches and waiting maids would fight as to who was to have him for
a bedfellow.

The citizens of Rome heard such a good account of him from their wives,
that they willingly welcomed him to their houses, and if they went
abroad, were glad to have Margaret to keep house along with their wives,
and, what is more, made her sleep with them, so good and honest was she
esteemed, as has been already said.

For the space of fourteen years did Margaret continue this way of
living, but the mischief was at last brought to light by a young girl,
who told her father that she had slept with Margaret and been assaulted
by her, and that in reality she was a man. The father informed the
officers of justice, and it was found that she had all the members and
implements that men carry, and, in fact, was a man and not a woman.

So it was ordered that he should be put in a cart and led through all
the city of Rome, and at every street corner his genitals should be
exposed.

This was done, and God knows how ashamed and vexed poor Margaret was.
But you must know that when the cart stopped at a certain corner, and
all the belongings of Margaret were being exhibited, a Roman said out
loud;

“Look at that scoundrel! he has slept more than twenty nights with my
wife!”

Many others said the same, and many who did not say it knew it well,
but, for their honours sake, held their tongue. Thus, in the manner you
have heard, was the poor Scotsman punished for having pretended to be
a woman, and after that punishment was banished from Rome; at which the
women were much displeased, for never was there such a good laundress,
and they were very sorry that they had so unfortunately lost her.


*****


[Illustration: 46.jpg How the Nun paid for the Pears.]



STORY THE FORTY-SIXTH -- HOW THE NUN PAID FOR THE PEARS. [46]

By Monseigneur De Thianges (*).

_Of a Jacobin and a nun, who went secretly to an orchard to enjoy
pleasant pastime under a pear-tree; in which tree was hidden one who
knew of the assignation, and who spoiled their sport for that time, as
you will hear._

     (*) The name of the author of this story is spelled in four
     different ways in different editions of these tales--Viz,
     Thieurges, Thienges, Thieuges and Thianges.

It is no means unusual for monks to run after nuns. Thus it happened
formerly that a Jacobin so haunted, visited, and frequented a nunnery in
this kingdom, that his intention became known,--which was to sleep with
one of the ladies there.

And God knows how anxious and diligent he was to see her whom he loved
better than all the rest of the world, and continued to visit there so
often, that the Abbess and many of the nuns perceived how matters stood,
at which they were much displeased. Nevertheless, to avoid scandal, they
said not a word to the monk, but gave a good scolding to the nun, who
made many excuses, but the abbess, who was clear-sighted, knew by her
replies and excuses that she was guilty.

So, on account of that nun, the Abbess restrained the liberty of all,
and caused the doors of the cloisters and other places to be closed,
so that the poor Jacobin could by no means come to his mistress. That
greatly vexed him, and her also, I need not say, and you may guess that
they schemed day and night by what means they could meet; but could
devise no plan, such a strict watch did the Abbess keep on them.

It happened one day, that one of the nieces of the Abbess was married,
and a great feast was made in the convent. There was a great assemblage
of people from the country round, and the Abbess was very busy receiving
the great people who had come to do honour to her niece.

The worthy Jacobin thought that he might get a glimpse of his mistress,
and by chance be lucky enough to find an opportunity to speak to her. He
came therefore, and found what he sought; for, because of the number of
guests, the Abbess was prevented from keeping watch over the nun, and
he had an opportunity to tell his mistress his griefs, and how much he
regretted the good time that had passed; and she, who greatly loved him,
gladly listened to him, and would have willingly made him happy. Amongst
other speeches, he said;

“Alas! my dear, you know that it is long since we have had a quiet talk
together such as we like; I beg of you therefore, if it is possible,
whilst everyone is otherwise engaged than in watching us, to tell me
where we can have a few words apart.”

“So help me God, my friend,” she replied, “I desire it no less than you
do. But I do not know of any place where it can be done; for there are
so many people in the house, and I cannot enter my chamber, there are so
many strangers who have come to this wedding; but I will tell you what
you can do. You know the way to the great garden; do you not?”

“By St. John! yes,” he said.

“In the corner of the garden,” she said, “there is a nice paddock
enclosed with high and thick hedges, and in the middle is a large
pear-tree, which makes the place cool and shady. Go there and wait for
me, and as soon as I can get away, I will hurry to you.”

The Jacobin greatly thanked her and went straight there. But you must
know there was a young gallant who had come to the feast, who was
standing not far from these lovers and had heard their conversation,
and, as he knew the paddock, he determined that he would go and hide
there, and see their love-making.

He slipped out of the crowd, and as fast as his feet could carry him,
ran to this paddock, and arrived there before the Jacobin; and when
he came there, he climbed into the great pear-tree--which had large
branches, and was covered with leaves and pears,--and hid himself so
well that he could not be easily seen.

He was hardly ensconced there when there came trotting along the worthy
Jacobin, looking behind him to see if his mistress was following; and
God knows that he was glad to find himself in that beautiful spot, and
never lifted his eyes to the pear-tree, for he never suspected that
there was anyone there, but kept his eyes on the road by which he had
come.

He looked until he saw his mistress coming hastily, and she was soon
with him, and they rejoiced greatly, and the good Jacobin took off his
gown and his scapulary, and kissed and cuddled tightly the fair nun.

They wanted to do that for which they came thither, and prepared
themselves accordingly, and in so doing the nun said;

“Pardieu, Brother Aubrey, I would have you know that you are about
to enjoy one of the prettiest nuns in the Church. You can judge for
yourself. Look what breasts Î what a belly! what thighs! and all the
rest.”

“By my oath,” said Brother Aubrey, “Sister Jehanne, my darling, you also
can say that you have for a lover one of the best-looking monks of our
Order, and as well furnished as any man in this kingdom,” and with these
words, taking in his hand the weapon with which he was about to fight,
he brandished it before his lady’s eyes, and cried, “What do you say?
What do you think of it? Is it not a handsome one? Is it not worthy of a
pretty girl?”

“Certainly it is,” she said.

“And you shall have it.”

“And you shall have,” said he who was up in the pear-tree, “all the best
pears on the tree;” and with that he took and shook the branches with
both hands, and the pears rattled down on them and on the ground, at
which Brother Aubrey was so frightened that he hardly had the sense to
pick up his gown, but ran away as fast as he could without waiting, and
did not feel safe till he was well away from the spot.

The nun was as much, or more, frightened, but before she could set off,
the gallant had come down out of the tree, and taking her by the hand,
prevented her leaving, and said; “My dear, you must not go away thus:
you must first pay the fruiterer.”

She saw that a refusal would appear unseasonable, and was fain to let
the fruiterer complete the work which Brother Aubrey had left undone.


*****



STORY THE FORTY-SEVENTH -- TWO MULES DROWNED TOGETHER. [47]

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a President who knowing of the immoral conduct of his wife, caused
her to be drowned by her mule, which had been kept without drink for a
week, and given salt to eat--as is more clearly related hereafter._


In Provence there lived formerly a President of great and high renown,
who was a most learned clerk and prudent man, valiant in arms, discreet
in counsel, and, in short, had all the advantages which man could enjoy.
(*)

     (*) Though not mentioned here by name, the principal
     character in this story has been identified with Chaffrey
     Carles, President of the Parliament of Grenoble. On the
     front of a house in the Rue de Cleres, in Grenoble is carved
     a coat of arms held by an angel who has her finger on her
     lips. The arms are those of the Carles family and the figure
     is supposed to refer to this story. At any rate the secret
     was very badly kept, for the story seems to have been widely
     known within a few years of its occurrence.

One thing only was wanting to him, and that was the one that vexed him
most, and with good cause--and it was that he had a wife who was far
from good. The good lord saw and knew that his wife was unfaithful, and
inclined to play the whore, but the sense that God had given him, told
him that there was no remedy except to hold his tongue or die, for he
had often both seen and read that nothing would cure a woman of that
complaint.

But, at any rate, you may imagine that a man of courage and virtue,
as he was, was far from happy, and that his misfortune rankled in his
sorrowing heart. Yet as he outwardly appeared to know or see nothing of
his wife’s misconduct, one of his servants came to him one day when he
was alone in his chamber, and said,

“Monsieur, I want to inform you, as I ought, of something which
particularly touches your honour. I have watched your wife’s conduct,
and I can assure you that she does not keep the faith she promised, for
a certain person (whom he named) occupies your place very often.”

The good President, who knew as well or better than the servant who made
the report, how his wife behaved, replied angrily;

“Ha! scoundrel, I am sure that you lie in all you say! I know my wife
too well, and she is not what you say--no! Do you think I keep you to
utter lies about a wife who is good and faithful to me! I will have
no more of you; tell me what I owe you and then go, and never enter my
sight again if you value your life!”

The poor servant, who thought he was doing his master a great service,
said how much was due to him, received his money and went, but the
President, seeing that the unfaithfulness became more and more evident,
was as vexed and troubled as he could be. He could not devise any plan
by which he could honestly get rid of her, but it happened that God
willed, or fortune permitted that his wife was going to a wedding
shortly, and he thought it might be made to turn out lucky for him.

He went to the servant who had charge of the horses, and a fine mule
that he had, and said,

“Take care that you give nothing to drink to my mule either night or
day, until I give you further orders, and whenever you give it its hay,
mix a good handful of salt with it--but do not say a word about it.”

“I will say nothing,” said the servant, “and I will do whatever you
command me.”

When the wedding day of the cousin of the President’s wife drew near,
she said to her husband,

“Monsieur, if it be your pleasure, I would willingly attend the wedding
of my cousin, which will take place next Sunday, at such a place.”

“Very well, my dear; I am satisfied: go, and God guide you.”

“Thank you, monsieur,” she replied, “but I know not exactly how to go.
I do not wish to take my carriage; your nag is so skittish that I am
afraid to undertake the journey on it.”

“Well, my dear, take my mule--it looks well, goes nicely and quietly,
and is more sure-footed than any animal I ever saw.”

“Faith!” she said, “I thank you: you are a good husband.”

The day of departure arrived, and all the servants of Madame were ready,
and also the women who were to serve her and accompany her, and two or
three cavaliers who were to escort Madame, and they asked if Madame were
also ready, and she informed them that she would come at once.

When she was dressed, she came down, and they brought her the mule which
had not drank for eight days, and was mad with thirst, so much salt had
it eaten. When she was mounted, the cavaliers went first, making their
horses caracole, and thus did all the company pass through the town into
the country, and on till they came to a defile through which the great
river Rhone rushes with marvellous swiftness. And when the mule which
had drank nothing for eight days saw the river, it sought neither bridge
nor ford, but made one leap into the river with its load, which was the
precious body of Madame.

All the attendants saw the accident, but they could give no help; so was
Madame drowned, which was a great misfortune. And the mule, when it had
drunk its fill, swam across the Rhone till it reached the shore, and was
saved.

All were much troubled and sorrowful that Madame was lost, and they
returned to the town. One of the servants went to the President, who
was in his room expecting the news; and with much sorrow told him of the
death of his wife.

The good President, who in his heart was more glad than sorry, showed
great contrition, and fell down, and displayed much sorrow and regret
for his good wife. He cursed the mule, and the wedding to which his wife
was going.

“And by God!” he said, “it is a great reproach to all you people that
were there that you did not save my poor wife, who loved you all so
much; you are all cowardly wretches, and you have clearly shown it.”

The servant excused himself, as did the others also, as well as they
could, and left the President, who praised God with uplifted hands that
he was rid of his wife.

He gave his wife’s body a handsome funeral, but--as you may
imagine--although he was of a fit and proper age, he took care never to
marry again, lest he should once more incur the same misfortune.


*****



STORY THE FORTY-EIGHTH -- THE CHASTE MOUTH.

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a woman who would not suffer herself to be kissed, though she
willingly gave up all the rest of her body except the mouth, to her
lover--and the reason that she gave for this._


A noble youth fell in love with a young damsel who was married, and
when he had made her acquaintance, told her, as plainly as he could, his
case, and declared that he was ill for love of her,--and, to tell truth,
he was much smitten.

She listened to him graciously enough, and after their first interview,
he left well satisfied with the reply he had received. But if he
had been love sick before he made the avowal, he was still more
so afterwards. He could not sleep night or day for thinking of his
mistress, and by what means he could gain her favour.

He returned to the charge when he saw his opportunity, and God knows,
if he spoke well the first time, he played his part still better on
the second occasion, and, by good luck, he found his mistress not
disinclined to grant his request,--at which he was in no small degree
pleased. And as he had not always the time or leisure to come and see
her, he told her on that occasion of the desire he had to do her a
service in any manner that he could, and she thanked him and was as kind
as could be.

In short, he found in her so great courtesy, and kindness, and fair
words, that he could not reasonably expect more, and thereupon wished to
kiss, but she refused point-blank; nor could he even obtain a kiss when
he said farewell, at which he was much astonished.

After he had left her, he doubted much whether he should ever gain her
love, seeing that he could not obtain a single kiss, but he comforted
himself by remembering the loving words she had said when they parted,
and the hope she had given him.

He again laid siege to her; in short, came and went so often, that his
mistress at last gave him a secret assignation, where they could say
all that they had to say, in private. And when he took leave of her, he
embraced her gently and would have kissed her, but she defended herself
vigorously, and said to him, harshly;

“Go away, go away! and leave me alone! I do not want to be kissed!”

He excused his conduct as he best could, and left.

“What is this?” he said to himself. “I have never seen a woman like
that! She gives me the best possible reception, and has already given
me all that I have dared to ask--yet I cannot obtain one poor, little
kiss.”

At the appointed time, he went to the place his mistress had named, and
did at his leisure that for which he came, for he lay in her arms all
one happy night, and did whatsoever he wished, except kiss her, and that
he could never manage.

“I do not understand these manners,” he said to himself; “this woman
lets me sleep with her, and do whatever I like to her; but I have no
more chance of getting a single kiss than I have of finding the true
Cross! Morbleu! I cannot make it out; there is some mystery about it,
and I must find out what it is.”

One day when they were enjoying themselves, and were both gay, he said,

“My dear, I beg of you to tell me the reason why you invariably refuse
to give me a kiss? You have graciously allowed me to enjoy all your fair
and sweet body--and yet you refuse me a little kiss!”

“Faith! my friend,” she replied, “as you say, a kiss I have always
refused you,--so never expect it, for you will never get it. There is
a very good reason for that, as I will tell you. It is true that when
I married my husband, I promised him--with the mouth only--many fine
things. And since it is my mouth that swore and promised to be chaste,
I will keep it for him, and would rather die than let anyone else touch
it--it belongs to him and no other, and you must not expect to have
anything to do with it. But my backside has never promised or
sworn anything to him; do with that and the rest of me--my mouth
excepted--whatever you please; I give it all to you.”

Her lover laughed loudly, and said;

“I thank you, dearest! You say well, and I am greatly pleased that you
are honest enough to keep your promise.”

“God forbid,” she answered, “that I should ever break it.”

So, in the manner that you have heard, was this woman shared between
them; the husband, had the mouth only, and her lover all the rest,
and if, by chance, the husband ever used any other part of her, it was
rather by way of a loan, for they belonged to the lover by gift of the
said woman. But at all events the husband had this advantage, that his
wife was content to let him have the use of that which she had given to
her lover; but on no account would she permit the lover to enjoy that
which she had bestowed upon her husband.


*****


[Illustration: 49.jpg The scarlet Backside.]



STORY THE FORTY-NINTH -- THE SCARLET BACKSIDE.

By Pierre David.

_Of one who saw his wife with a man to whom she gave the whole of her
body, except her backside, which she left for her husband and he made
her dress one day when his friends were present in a woollen gown on the
backside of which was a piece of fine scarlet, and so left her before
all their friends._

I am well aware that formerly there lived in the city of Arras, a worthy
merchant, who had the misfortune to have married a wife who was not the
best woman in the world, for, when she saw a chance, she would slip as
easily as an old cross-bow.

The good merchant suspected his wife’s misdeeds, and was also informed
by several of his friends and neighbours. Thereupon he fell into a great
frenzy and profound melancholy; which did not mend matters. Then he
determined to try whether he could know for certain that which was
hardly likely to please him--that is to see one or more of those who
were his deputies come to his house to visit his wife.

So one day he pretended to go out, and hid himself in a chamber of his
house of which he alone had the key. The said chamber looked upon the
street and the courtyard, and by several secret openings and chinks upon
several other chambers in the house.

As soon as the good woman thought her husband had gone, she let one of
the lovers who used to come to her know of it, and he obeyed the summons
as he should, for he followed close on the heels of the wench who was
sent to fetch him.

The husband, who as has been said, was in his secret chamber, saw the
man who was to take his place enter the house, but he said not a word,
for he wished to know more if possible.

“When the lover was in the house, the lady led him by the hand into her
chamber, conversing all the while. Then she locked the door, and they
began to kiss and to cuddle, and enjoy themselves, and the good woman
pulled off her gown and appeared in a plain petticoat, and her companion
threw his arms round her, and did that for which he came. The poor
husband, meanwhile, saw all this through a little grating, and you may
imagine was not very comfortable; he was even so close to them that he
could hear plainly all they said. When the battle between the good woman
and her lover was over, they sat upon a couch that was in the chamber,
and talked of various matters. And as the lover looked upon his
mistress, who was marvellously fair, he began to kiss her again, and as
he kissed her he said;

“Darling, to whom does this sweet mouth belong?”

“It is yours, sweet friend,” she replied.

“I thank you. And these beautiful eyes?”

“Yours also,” she said.

“And this fair rounded bosom-does that belong to me?” he asked.

“Yes, by my oath, to you and none other,” she replied.

Afterwards he put his hand upon her belly, and upon her “front” and each
time asked, “Whose is this, darling?”

“There is no need to ask; you know well enough that it is all yours.”

Then he put his hand upon her big backside, and asked smiling,

“And whose is this?”

“It is my husband’s,” she said. “That is his share; but all the rest is
yours.”

“Truly,” he said, “I thank you greatly. I cannot complain, for you have
given me all the best parts. On the other hand, be assured that I am
yours entirely.”

“I well know it,” she said, and with that the combat of love began again
between them, and more vigorously than ever, and that being finished,
the lover left the house.

The poor husband, who had seen and heard everything, could stand no
more; he was in a terrible rage, nevertheless he suppressed his wrath,
and the next day appeared, as though he had just come back from a
journey.

At dinner that day, he said that he wished to give a great feast on
the following Sunday to her father and mother, and such and such of
her relations and cousins, and that she was to lay in great store of
provisions that they might enjoy themselves that day. She promised to do
this and to invite the guests.

Sunday came, the dinner was prepared, those who were bidden all
appeared, and each took the place the host designated, but the merchant
remained standing, and so did his wife, until the first course was
served.

When the first course was placed on the table, the merchant who had
secretly caused to be made for his wife a robe of thick duffle grey with
a large patch of scarlet cloth on the backside, said to his wife, “Come
with me to the bedroom.”

He walked first, and she followed him. When they were there, he made her
take off her gown, and showing her the aforesaid gown of duffle grey,
said, “Put on this dress!”

She looked, and saw that it was made of coarse stuff, and was much
surprised, and could not imagine why her husband wished her to dress in
this manner.

“For what purpose do you wish me to put this on?” she asked. “Never
mind,” he replied, “I wish you to wear it.” “Faith!” she replied,
“I don’t like it! I won’t put it on! Are you mad? Do you want all your
people and mine to laugh at us both?”

“Mad or sane,” he said, “you will wear it.” “At least,” she answered,
“let me know why.” “You will know that in good time.” In short, she was
compelled to put on this gown, which had a very strange appearance, and
in this apparel she was led to the table, where most of her relations
and friends were seated.

But you imagine they were very astonished to see her thus dressed, and,
as you may suppose, she was very much ashamed, and would not have come
to the table if she had not been compelled.

Some of her relatives said they had the right to know the meaning of
this strange apparel, but her husband replied that they were to enjoy
their dinner, and afterwards they should know.

The poor woman who was dressed in this strange garb could eat but
little; there was a mystery connected with the gown which oppressed her
spirits. She would have been even more troubled if she had known the
meaning of the scarlet patch, but she did not.

The dinner was at length over, the table was removed, grace was said,
and everyone stood up. Then the husband came forward and began to speak,
and said;

“All you who are here assembled, I will, if you wish, tell you briefly
why I have called you together, and why I have dressed my wife in this
apparel. It is true that I had been informed that your relative here
kept but ill the vows she had made to me before the priest, nevertheless
I would not lightly believe that which was told me, but wished to learn
the truth for myself, and six days ago I pretended to go abroad, and hid
myself in an upstairs chamber. I had scarcely come there before there
arrived a certain man, whom my wife led into her chamber, where they
did whatsoever best pleased them. And amongst other questions, the man
demanded of her to whom belonged her mouth, her eyes, her hands, her
belly, her ‘front’, and her thighs? And she replied, ‘_To you, dear_’.
And when he came to her backside, he asked, ‘_And whose is this,
darling?_’ ‘_My husband’s_’ she replied. Therefore I have dressed her
thus. She said that only her backside was mine, and I have caused it it
to be attired as becomes my condition. The rest of her have I clad in
the garb which is befitting an unfaithful and dishonoured woman, for
such she is, and as such I give her back to you.”

The company was much astonished to hear this speech, and the poor
woman overcome with shame. She never again occupied a position in her
husband’s house, but lived, dishonoured and ashamed, amongst her own
people.


*****



STORY THE FIFTIETH -- TIT FOR TAT. [50]

By Anthoine De La Sale.

_Of a father who tried to kill his son because the young man wanted to
lie with his grandmother, and the reply made by the said son._


Young men like to travel and to seek after adventures; and thus it was
with the son of a labourer, of Lannoys, who from the age of ten until
he was twenty-six, was away from home; and from his departure until
his return, his father and mother heard no news of him, so they often
thought that he was dead.

He returned at last, and God knows what joy there was in the house, and
how he was feasted to the best of such poor means as God had given them.

But the one who most rejoiced to see him was his grandmother, his
father’s mother. She was most joyful at his return, and kissed him more
than fifty times, and ceased not to praise God for having restored her
grandson in good health.

After the feasting was over, bed-time came. There were in the cottage
but two beds--the one for the father and mother, and the other for
the grandmother. So it was arranged that the son should sleep with
his grandmother, at which she was very glad, but he grumbled, and only
complied to oblige his parents, and as a makeshift for one night.

When he was in bed with his grandmother, it happened, I know not how,
that he began to get on the top of her.

“What are you doing?” she cried.

“Never you mind,” he replied, “and hold your tongue.” When she saw that
he really meant to ravish her, she began to cry out as loud as she could
for her son, who slept in the next room, and then jumped out of bed and
went and complained to him, weeping bitterly meanwhile.

When the other heard his mother’s complaint, and the unfilial conduct
of his son, he sprang out of bed in great wrath, and swore that he would
kill the young man.

The son heard this threat, so he rose quickly, slipped out of the house,
and made his escape. His father followed him, but not being so light of
foot, found the pursuit hopeless, so returned home, where his mother was
still grieving over the offence her grandson had committed.

“Never mind, mother!” he said. “I will avenge you.”

I know not how many days after that, the father saw his son playing
tennis in the town of Laon, and drawing his dagger, went towards him,
and would have stabbed him, but the young man slipped away and his
father was seized and disarmed.

There were many there who knew that the two were father and son; so one
said to the son,

“How does this come about? What have you done to your father that he
should seek to kill you?”

“Faith! nothing,” he replied. “He is quite in the wrong. He wants to do
me all the harm in the world, because, just for once, I would ride his
mother--whereas he has mounted mine more than five hundred times, and I
never said a word about it.”

All those who heard this reply began to haugh heartily, and swore that
he must be a good fellow. So they did their best to make peace for him
with his father, and at last they succeeded, and all was forgiven and
forgotten on both sides.


*****



STORY THE FIFTY-FIRST -- THE REAL FATHERS.

By The Editor.

_Of a woman who on her death-bed, in the absence of her husband, made
over her children to those to whom they belonged, and how one of the
youngest of the children informed his father._


There formerly lived in Paris, a woman who was married to a good and
simple man--he was one of our friends and it would have been impossible
to have had a better. This woman was very beautiful and complaisant,
and, when she was young, she never refused her favours to those who
pleased her, so that she had as many children by her lovers as by her
husband--about twelve or thirteen in all.

When at last she was very ill, and about to die, she thought she would
confess her sins and ease her conscience. She had all her children
brought to her, and it almost broke her heart to think of leaving them.
She thought it would not be right to leave her husband the charge of
so many children, of some of which he was not the father, though he
believed he was, and thought her as good a woman as any in Paris.

By means of a woman who was nursing her, she sent for two men who in
past times had been favoured lovers. They came to her at once, whilst
her husband was gone away to fetch a doctor and an apothecary, as she
had begged him to do.

When she saw these two men, she made all her children come to her, and
then said;

“You, such an one, you know what passed between us two in former days. I
now repent of it bitterly, and if Our Lord does not show me the mercy
I ask of Him, it will cost me dear in the next world. I have committed
faults, I know, but to add another to them would be to make matters
worse. Here are such and such of my children;--they are yours, and my
husband believes that they are his. You cannot have the conscience to
make him keep them, so I beg that after my death, which will be very
soon, that you will take them, and bring them up as a father should, for
they are, in fact, your own.”

She spoke in the same manner to the other man, showing him the other
children:

“Such and such are, I assure you, yours. I leave them to your care,
requesting you to perform your duty towards them. If you will promise me
to care for them, I shall die in peace.”

As she was thus distributing her children, her husband returned home,
and was met by one of his little sons, who was only about four years
old. The child ran downstairs to him in such haste that he nearly lost
his breath, and when he came to his father, he said,

“Alas, father! come quickly, in God’s name!”

“What has happened?” asked his father. “Is your mother dead?”

“No, no,” said the child, “but make haste upstairs, or you will have no
children left. Two men have come to see mother, and she is giving them
most of my brothers and sisters. If you do not make haste, she will give
them all away.”

The good man could not understand what his son meant, so he hastened
upstairs, and found his wife very ill, and with her the nurse, two of
his neighbours, and his children.

He asked the meaning of the tale his son had told him about giving away
his children.

“You will know later on,” she said; so he did not trouble himself
further, for he never doubted her in the least.

The neighbours went away, commending the dying woman to God, and
promising to do all she had requested, for which she thanked them.

When the hour of her death drew near, she begged her husband to pardon
her, and told him of the misdeeds she had committed during the years she
had lived with him, and how such and such of the children belonged to
a certain man, and such to another--that is to say those
before-mentioned--and that after her death they would take charge of
their own children.

He was much astonished to hear this news, nevertheless he pardoned her
for all her misdeeds, and then she died, and he sent the children to the
persons she had mentioned, who kept them.

And thus he was rid of his wife and his children, and felt much
less regret for the loss of his wife than he did for the loss of the
children.


*****


[Illustration: 52.jpg The three Reminders.]



STORY THE FIFTY-SECOND -- THE THREE REMINDERS. [52]

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of three counsels that a father when on his deathbed gave his son, but
to which the son paid no heed. And how he renounced a young girl he had
married, because he saw her lying with the family chaplain the first
night after their wedding._


Once upon a time there was a nobleman who was wise, prudent, and
virtuous. When he was on his deathbed, he settled his affairs, eased
his conscience as best he could, and then called his only son to whom he
left his worldly wealth.

After asking his son to be sure and pray for the repose of his soul and
that of his mother, to help them out of purgatory, he gave him three
farewell counsels, saying; “My dear son, I advise you first of all
never to stay in the house of a friend who gives you black bread to eat.
Secondly, never gallop your horse in a valley. Thirdly, never choose a
wife of a foreign nation. Always bear these three things in mind, and I
have no doubt you will be fortunate,--but, if you act to the contrary,
be sure you would have done better to follow your father’s advice.”

The good son thanked his father for his wise counsels, and promised that
he would heed them, and never act contrary to them.

His father died soon after, and was buried with all befitting pomp
and ceremony; for his son wished to do his duty to one to whom he owed
everything.

Some time after this, the young nobleman, who was now an orphan and did
not understand household affairs, made the acquaintance of a neighbour,
whom he constantly visited, drinking and eating at his house.

This friend, who was married and had a beautiful wife, became very
jealous, and suspected that our young nobleman came on purpose to see
his wife, and that he was in reality her lover.

This made him very uncomfortable but he could think of no means of
getting rid of his guest, for it would have been useless to have told
him what he thought, so he determined that little by little he would
behave in such a way that, if the young man were not too stupid, he
would see that his frequent visits were far from welcome.

To put this project into execution, he caused black bread to be served
at meals, instead of white. After a few of these repasts, the young
nobleman remembered his father’s advice. He knew that he done wrong, and
secretly hid a piece of the black bread in his sleeve, and took it home
with him, and to remind himself, he hung it by a piece of string from a
nail in the wall of his best chamber, and did not visit his neighbour’s
house as formerly.

One day after that, he, being fond of amusement, was in the fields, and
his dogs put up a hare. He spurred his horse after them, and came
up with them in a valley, when his horse, which was galloping fast,
slipped, and broke its neck.

He was very thankful to find that his life was safe, and that he had
escaped without injury. He had the hare for his reward, and as he held
it up, and then looked at the horse of which he had been so fond, he
remembered the second piece of advice his father had given him, and
which, if he had kept in mind, he would have been spared the loss of his
horse, and also the risk of losing his life.

When he arrived home, he had the horse’s skin hung by a cord next to the
black bread; to remind him of the second counsel his father had given
him.

Some time after this, he took it in his head to travel and see foreign
countries, and having arranged all his affairs, he set out on his
journey, and after seeing many strange lands, he at last took up his
abode in the house of a great lord, where he became such a favourite
that the lord was pleased to give him his daughter in marriage, on
account of his pleasant manners and virtues.

In short, he was betrothed to the girl, and the wedding-day came. But
when he supposed that he was to pass the night with her, he was told
that it was not the custom of the country to sleep the first night with
one’s wife, and that he must have patience until the next night.

“Since it is the custom of the country,” he said, “I do not wish it
broken for me.”

After the dancing was over, his bride was conducted to one room, and
he to another. He saw that there was only a thin partition of plaster
between the two rooms. He made a hole with his sword in the partition,
and saw his bride jump into bed; he saw also the chaplain of the
household jump in after her, to keep her company in case she was afraid,
or else to try the merchandise, or take tithes as monks do.

Our young nobleman, when he saw these goings on, reflected that he still
had some tow left on his distaff, and then there flashed across his mind
the recollection of the counsel his good father had given him, and which
he had so badly kept.

He comforted himself with the thought that the affair had not gone so
far that he could not get out of it.

The next day, the good chaplain, who had been his substitute for the
night, rose early in the morning, but unfortunately left his breeches
under the bride’s bed. The young nobleman, not pretending to know
anything, came to her bedside, and politely saluted her, as he well knew
how, and found means to surreptitiously take away the priest’s breeches
without anyone seeing him.

There were great rejoicings all that day, and when evening came, the
bride’s bed was prepared and decorated in a most marvellous manner, and
she went to bed. The bridegroom was told that that night he could sleep
with his wife. He was ready with a reply, and said to the father and
mother, and other relations.

“You know not who I am, and yet you have given me your daughter, and
bestowed on me the greatest honour ever done to a foreign gentleman,
and for which I cannot sufficiently thank you. Nevertheless, I have
determined never to lie with my wife until I have shown her, and you
too, who I am, what I possess, and how I am housed.”

The girl’s father immediately replied,

“We are well aware that you are a nobleman, and in a high position, and
that God has not given you so many good qualities without friends and
riches to accompany them. We are satisfied, therefore do not leave
your marriage unconsummated; we shall have time to see your state and
condition whenever you like.”

To shorten the story, he vowed and swore that he would never sleep
with her if it were not in his own house, and he conducted thither the
bride’s father and mother, and many of her relations and friends. He
put his house in order to receive them, and to do so arrived there a day
before them. And as soon as he alighted, he took the priest’s breeches,
and hung them in the chamber, by the black bread and the horse’s skin.

Most cordially received were the relations and friends of the fair
bride, and they were much astonished to see the house of the young
gentleman so well furnished with vessels, carpets, and all other kinds
of furniture, and they thought themselves lucky to have procured such a
husband for the girl.

As they were looking round, they came to the great chamber, which was
all hung round with fair tapestry, and they perceived the brown bread,
the horse’s skin, and a pair of breeches hanging there; at which they
were much astonished, and asked their host the meaning.

He replied that he would willingly, and for a very good reason, tell
them the meaning,--but after they had eaten.

Dinner was prepared, and God knows that it was well served, They had no
sooner dined, than they demanded the interpretation of the mystery of
the black bread, the horse’s skin etc., and the worthy young gentleman
related the story at length, and told how his father,--being on his
death-bed as has been already narrated,--gave him three counsels.

“The first was never to remain in a house where they gave me black
bread. I paid no heed to this advice, for, after his death, I frequented
the house of a neighbour, who became jealous of his wife, and in place
of the white bread with which I was always served, gave me black; so in
recollection and acknowledgment of the truth of that advice, I hung that
piece of black bread there. The second counsel that my father gave me,
was never to gallop my horse in a valley. I did not bear that in mind,
and suffered for it, for one day, when riding in a valley after a hare
pursued by my dogs, my horse fell and broke its neck, and it is a wonder
I was not badly hurt. To remind me of my escape from death, the skin of
the horse I then lost is hung there. The third counsel and advice that
my father--whose soul is with God--gave me, was never to marry a woman
of a strange nation. In this also I failed, and I will tell you what
happened to me. The first night after I was married to your daughter,
and you refused to let me sleep with her, I was lodged in a chamber
close to hers, and as the partition between her and me was but thin, I
pierced a hole with my sword, and I saw the chaplain of your household
come and lie with her; but he left his breeches under the bed when he
rose in the morning--which breeches I obtained possession of, and
have hung them there as evidence of the everlasting truth of the third
counsel that my late father gave me, and which I had not duly remembered
and borne in mind; but in order that I may not again fall into the same
errors, have placed here these three objects to render me prudent. And
because--thank God--I am not so much committed to your daughter that she
cannot now leave me, I would ask of you to take her back, and return to
your own country, for as long as I live I will never come near her. But,
because I have made you come a long way to show you that I am not the
sort of man to take a priest’s leavings, I am prepared to pay your
expenses.”

The others did not know what to say, but seeing that their misdeeds were
discovered, and seeing also that being far from their own country, force
would not be on their side, were content to take the money for their
expenses, and return whence they came; for if they had staked more they
would have lost more.

Such, as you have heard, were the three counsels which the good father
gave his son, and which should not be forgotten; let everyone remember
them, so far as they concern himself.


*****



STORY THE FIFTY-THIRD -- THE MUDDLED MARRIAGES.

By The Archivist Of Brussels.

_Of two men and two women who were waiting to be married at the first
Mass in the early morning; and because the priest could not see well, he
took the one for the other, and gave to each man the wrong wife, as you
will hear._

One morning there were assembled in the cathedral of Sainte Gudule at
Brussels, many men and women who wished to be married at the first Mass,
which is said between four and five o’clock; and amongst others who
wished to enter this sweet and happy condition, and promise before the
priest to live honestly and uprightly, were a young man and a young
woman who were not rich, who were standing near each other, waiting for
the priest to call them to marry them.

Near them were an old man and an old woman, who had great possessions
and wealth, but who, out of covetousness and the desire to have more,
had also promised troth to one another, and were also waiting to be
married at this first Mass.

The priest came and recited this much-desired Mass, and at the end
thereof, as is the custom, had ranged before him those who wished to
be married, of whom there were many, without counting the four I have
mentioned.

Now you must know that the good priest who was standing ready before the
altar to accomplish the wedding rites, was blind of one eye, having lost
an eye by some mischance a little time before. Also there was hardly any
light in the chapel or on the altar, and, as it was winter, it was very
dark. So he could not see the couples properly, and when he came to
marry them, he took the rich old man and the poor, young girl, and
joined them together with the wedding ring.

On the other hand, he also took the poor, young man and married him to
the rich, old woman,--without any of those in the church noticing it,
either men or women--which was very strange, especially on the part of
the men, for they dare to raise their heads and their eyes when they are
on their knees before the priest, whilst the women who are modest and
shy, always look down on the ground.

It is the custom on leaving the church for the friends of the bride to
meet her, and conduct her to her husband’s house. So it was that the
poor, young girl was taken to the house of the rich man, and also the
rich, old woman was escorted to the cottage of the young man.

When the young bride found herself in the court, and then in the great
hall of the house of the man she had married by mistake, she was much
astonished, and knew well that was not the house she had left that
morning. When she was in the dressing-room, which was hung round with
rich tapestries, she saw a large fire, a table well covered, on which a
good breakfast was all ready, and a handsome sideboard, well garnished
with vessels of all sorts, and was more astonished than ever, and
thought it strange she did not know a soul present to whom she could
speak.

She was soon relieved of the cloak in which she was huddled-up, and when
the bridegroom and the others who were there saw her uncovered, you
may guess they were as much surprised as though horns had cropped up on
their heads.

“What?” said the bridegroom. “Is that my wife? By Our Lady, I am very
lucky. She is much changed since yesterday; I think she must have been
to the fountain of youth.”

“We do not know,” replied those who had brought her, “whence she comes,
or what she has done; but we are certain that is the woman you have
married, for we took her at the altar, and since then she has never left
our hands.”

They were all much astonished, and remained long without saying a word,
but the most foolish-looking and surprised of all was the poor bride;
she was quite downcast and wept gently, for she would have much
preferred to be with her lover, whom she had expected to marry that day.

The bridegroom, seeing her so miserable, had pity on her, and said,

“My dear, do not be downcast; you are in a good house, please God, and
no one is going to do you any harm. But tell me, if you please, who you
are, and what information you can as to how you came here.”

When she heard herself spoken to so courteously, she regained a little
courage, and gave the names of her father and mother, and said that
she was of Brussels, and was betrothed to a certain young man, whom she
named, and whom she had expected to have married.

The bridegroom, and all those who were there, began to laugh, and said
that the priest had played them this trick.

“Well, God be praised for the change!” said the bridegroom at last. “I
do not greatly regret that God sent you to me, and I promise you on my
word to make you a good husband.”

“No, no,” she said, weeping. “You are not my husband. I wish to go back
to him to whom my father gave me.”

“That shall not be,” said he. “I married you in the holy church, and you
cannot deny it. You are, and you will remain, my wife; and be content,
for you are very lucky. I have, thank God, riches enough, of which you
shall be the lady and mistress, and you will be very comfortable.”

He, and the others who were there, talked her over till at last she
consented. So they had a light breakfast together, and then went to bed,
and the old man did the best he knew how.

But let us return to the old woman, and the young man.

When she found herself in the house, she was in a great rage, and said;

“What am I doing here? Why do you not take me either to my own house, or
to the house of my husband?”

The bridegroom, when he saw the old woman, and heard her speak, was much
surprised, and so were his father and mother, and all who were there
assembled. Then came out the father and mother, who knew the old woman,
and the father spoke to his son, and said,

“My son, they have given you the wife of some one else, and it is to be
supposed he has your wife. It is all the fault of our curé, who sees
so badly, and--God help me--I was so far away from you when you were
married that I never perceived the change.”

“What must I do?” asked the bridegroom.

“Upon my word,” said his father, “I do not well know, but I greatly
doubt if you can have any other wife than this.”

“St. John!” said the old woman, “I will not have him. I do not care for
such a sorry fellow! I should be very happy, should I not? with a young
fellow who did not care for me and would spend all my money, and if, I
ventured to say a word would give me a crack on the head. Go away! go
away! and fetch your wife, and let me go where I ought to be.”

“By Our Lady!” said the bridegroom, “if I can get her back, I would
rather have her than you, however poor she may be; but if I cannot
obtain her, you will not go.”

His father, and some of his relations, went to the house where the
old woman wished to be, and found the company breakfasting well, and
preparing the caudle for the bride and bridegroom.

The father stated the case, but the others replied,

“You come too late; each must keep what he has; the master of the house
is content with the wife that God has given him; he wedded her, and he
does not want any other. And do not complain, for you would never have
been so fortunate as to get your daughter married so well; now you will
all be rich.”

The father returned home, and reported the answer he had, at which the
old woman was in a great rage.

“Indeed!” she said, “am I to be deceived in this manner? By God, the
matter shall not rest here; justice shall be done me!”

If the old woman was displeased, as much, or more, was the young man,
who was deprived of his ladylove. Still, he might have looked over that
if he could have had the old woman, and all her money, but it was no
good, she made herself so disagreeable that he was obliged to let her
return home.

So he was advised to summon her before the Bishop of Cambrai; and she
also summoned the old man who had married the young woman, and a great
lawsuit began, judgment in which is not given yet, so I can tell you no
more about it.


*****


[Illustration: 54.jpg The right Moment.]



STORY THE FIFTY FOURTH -- THE RIGHT MOMENT.

By Mahiot D’auquesnes.

_Of a damsel of Maubeuge who gave herself up to a waggoner, and refused
many noble lovers; and of the reply that she made to a noble knight
because he reproached her for this--as you will hear._

A noble knight of Flanders--young, lusty, and a good jouster, dancer,
and singer, was once living in the county of Hainault with another
noble knight of the same rank then living there, though he had a fine
residence in Flanders. Love--as often happens--was the cause that he
remained there, for he was much smitten by a damsel of Maubeuge, and God
knows what he did for her; often giving jousts, masquerades, banquets,
and whatever else was possible, and that he thought would please his
mistress.

He was to some extent in her good graces for a time, but not so much
as he wished to be. His friend, the knight of Hainault, who knew of his
love affair, did all he could to assist him, and it was not his fault
that his friend did not succeed better. But why make a long story? The
good knight of Flanders, do all he would, and his friend also, could
never obtain from the lady the supreme favour, but found her still
harsh and unkind.

At last he was compelled to return to Flanders; so he took leave of his
mistress, and left his friend there, and promised that if he did not
return shortly he would often write to her, and give news about himself;
and she promised the same on her side.

Now it came to pass that a few days after the knight had returned to
Flanders, that the lady wished to go on a pilgrimage, and made her
arrangements accordingly.

And when the carriage was in front of her house, and the waggoner, who
was a lusty fellow, strong and active, in it, preparing it for her, that
she threw a cushion on his head, which caused him to fall on his hands
and knees, at which she laughed loud and long.

“By God, mademoiselle, you made me fall, but I will have my revenge, and
before night I will make you tumble.”

“You would not be so unkind,” she replied, and so saying she took another
cushion, and when the waggoner was off his guard, she knocked him down
again, and then laughed more heartily than ever.

“What is this, mademoiselle?” cried the waggoner. “Do you want to hurt
me? I swear that if I were near you I would take my revenge at once.”

“What would you do?” said she.

“If I were up there I would show you,” he replied.

“You would do miracles--to hear you talk; but you would never dare to
come.”

“No?” said he. “You shall see.”

He jumped out of the vehicle, entered the house, and ran upstairs, where
he found the damsel in her petticoat, and as happy as she could be.
He at once began to assail her, and--to cut matters short--she was not
sorry to let him take what she could not in honour have given him.

At the end of the appointed time she brought forth a fine little
waggoner. The matter was not so secret but what the knight of Hainault
heard of it, and was much surprised.

He wrote in haste, and sent the letter by a messenger to his friend in
Flanders, to say that his mistress had had a child with the help of a
waggoner.

You may guess that the other was much surprised at the news, and he
quickly came to Hainault to his friend, and begged of him to come and
see his mistress and upbraid her with her misdeeds.

Although she was keeping herself concealed at the time, the two knights
found means to come to her. She was much ashamed and vexed to see them,
as she well knew she would hear nothing pleasant from them, but she
plucked up her courage, and put on the best countenance she could.

They began by talking of various matters; and then the good knight of
Flanders began his tirade, and called her all the names he could think
of.

“You are,” he said, “the most shameful and depraved woman in the world,
and you have shown the wickedness of your heart by abandoning yourself
to a low villain of a waggoner; although many noble persons offered you
their services and you refused them all. For my own part, you know what
I did to gain your love, and was I not more deserving of reward than a
rascally waggoner who never did anything for you?”

“I beg of you, monsieur,” she replied, “to say no more about it--what
is done cannot be undone--but I tell you plainly that if you had come at
the moment when the waggoner did, that I would have done for you what I
did for him.”

“Is that so?” he said. “By St. John! he came at a lucky moment! Devil
take it! why was I not so fortunate as to know the right time to come.”

“Truly,” she said, “he came just at the moment when he ought to have
come.”

“Oh, go to the devil!” he cried, “your moments, and you, and your
waggoner as well.”

And with that he left, and his friend followed him, and they never had
anything more to do with her,--and for a very good reason.


*****


[Illustration: 55.jpg A cure for the Plague.]



STORY THE FIFTY-FIFTH -- A CURE FOR THE PLAGUE.

By Monseigneur De Villiers.

_Of a girl who was ill of the plague and caused the death of three men
who lay with her, and how the fourth was saved, and she also._


In the year of the pardons of Rome (*) just past, the plague was
so great and terrible in Dauphiné, that the greater part of the
better-class people left the country.

     (*) The great Jubilee of 1450.

At that time a fair, young damsel felt herself stricken with the malady,
and at once repaired to a neighbour, a woman of good condition, and
rather old, and related her piteous condition.

The neighbour, who was a wise and prudent woman, was not frightened
at what the told her, and had even sufficient courage and assurance
to comfort her with words, and what little she could do in the way of
medicine. “Alas!” said the young girl who was sick, “my good neighbour,
I greatly grieve that I must now leave the world and all the happinesses
and amusements I have long enjoyed! But, by my oath! and between
ourselves, my greatest sorrow is that I must die before I have known and
tasted the good things of this world; such and such young men have often
solicited me, and I bluntly refused them, for which I am now sorry; and
if I die I shall never have another chance to let a man show me how to
lose my maidenhead. They have told me that it is so pleasant and good,
that I sorrow for my fair and tender body, which must rot without
having had this much desired pleasure. And, to tell the truth, my good
neighbour, it seems to me that if I once tasted this delight before my
death, my end would be easier--I should die more easily, and with less
regret. And, what is more, my heart is so set upon this that it might be
medicine to me, and the cause of my cure.”

“Would to God!” said the old woman, “that nothing else were needed; you
would be soon cured it seems to me, for--thank God--our town is not yet
so destitute of of men that we cannot find a good fellow to do this job
for you.”

“My good neighbour,” said the young girl, “I would beg of you to go
to such an one”--whom she named, who was a fine gentleman, and who had
formerly been in love with her--“and tell him to come here and speak to
me.”

The old woman set out, and found the gentleman, whom she sent to the
house. As soon as he came there, the young girl, who, on account of her
disease had a high colour, threw her arms round his neck, and kissed him
twenty times. The young man, more joyful than ever to find her whom he
had so much loved abandon herself to him, seized her without more ado,
and showed her that which she so much desired to know.

She was not ashamed to beg and pray him to continue as he had commenced;
and, in short, she made him begin again so often that he could do no
more. When she saw that, as she had not yet had her fill, she was bold
enough to say;

“My friend you have often beseeched for that which I ask you now. You
have done all that in you is, I know well. Nevertheless, I know that I
have not all I want, and I am sure that I cannot live unless some one
else comes and does to me what you have done, and therefore I beg of
you, if you value my life, to go to such an one and bring him hither.”

“It is true, my dear, that I know well he will do what you want.”

The gentleman was much astonished at the request; nevertheless, though
he had worked till he could do no more, he went off and found his
companion, and brought him to her, and he soon set to work as the other
had done.

When he was played out as his friend had been, she was not ashamed to
ask him, as she had done the first, to bring to her another gentleman,
and he did so.

This made three with whom she had fought a love battle and defeated them
all; but you must know that the first gentleman felt ill, and stricken
with the plague, as soon as he had sent his friend to take his place; so
he hastened to the priest, and confessed as best he could, and then died
in the priest’s arms.

His friend also, the second comer, as soon as he had given up his place
to the third, felt very ill, and asked everywhere after the one who was
already dead. He met the priest, weeping and exhibiting great grief, who
told him of the death of his friend.

“Ah, monsieur le curé, I am stricken as he was; hear my confession.”

The curé, in a great fright, made haste to hear his confession, and,
when that was finished, the gentleman, though within two hours of his
end, went to her from whom he and his friend had taken the contagion,
and found with her the man he had fetched, and said to her;

“Cursed woman! you have killed me and my friend also. You ought to be
burned to death! Nevertheless I pardon you, and may God pardon you!
You have the plague, and have given it to my friend, who died in the
priest’s arms, and I shall soon follow him.” With that he left, and died
an hour later in his own house.

The third gentleman, who had run the same risks as his companions, who
were both dead, did not feel very safe. Nevertheless, he took courage,
and cast aside all fear, and bethought him that he had often been in
perils and dangerous battles before, and went to the father and mother
of the girl who had killed his two companions, and told them that their
daughter was ill, and that they must take care of her. That being done,
he so conducted himself that he escaped the danger of which his two
friends had died.

Now you must know that when this slayer of men was brought back to her
father’s house, whilst they were making a bed ready in which she could
repose and sweat, she sent secretly for the son of a shoe-maker, a
neighbour, and had him brought to her father’s stable, where she made
him work as she had done the others, but he did not live four hours
after.

She was put to bed, and they made her sweat greatly. And soon there
appeared upon her body four buboes, of which she was afterwards cured.
And I believe that you will find her now amongst the prostitutes at
Avignon, Vienne, Valence, or some other place in Dauphiné.

And the doctors said that she had escaped death because she had tasted
the joys of this life; which is a notable and true example to many young
girls to never refuse a good thing when it comes in their way.


*****



STORY THE FIFTY-SIXTH -- THE WOMAN, THE PRIEST, THE SERVANT, AND THE
WOLF.

By Monseigneur De Villiers.

_Of a gentleman who caught, in a trap that he laid, his wife, the
priest, her maid, and a wolf; and burned them all alive, because his
wife committed adultery with the priest._


In a town in this kingdom, in the duchy of Auvergne, there formerly
lived a gentleman, who, to his misfortune, had a very pretty young wife.

This damsel was acquainted with a priest, a neighbour, who lived half a
league off, and they were so neighbourly together that the good priest
took the gentleman’s place whenever he was absent.

And this damsel had a waiting-maid who was acquainted with all their
doings, and often carried messages to the priest, and advised him of the
place and hour when he could safely come to her mistress.

The matter was not so well hid as the lovers would have liked, for a
gentleman, who was a near relative of him to whom this dishonour was
done, was informed of the affair, and told the person most concerned all
that he knew.

You may fancy that the good gentleman, when he heard that in his absence
his wife was helped by the priest, was not overpleaaed, and if it had
not been for his cousin would have taken terrible vengeance as soon as
he heard the news; but consented to put it off until he had taken them
both in the act.

He and his cousin arranged to go on a pilgrimage, four or six leagues
from home, and take his wife and the priest, in order to take note how
they behaved towards each other.

As they were returning from this pilgrimage, during which the curé had
made love as he best could,--that is to say by glances and other little
devices--the husband caused himself to be sent for by a messenger he had
instructed, to come at once to a lord of that country.

He pretended to be very vexed, and to leave with much regret,
--nevertheless, since the lord had sent for him he could not disobey. So
he went his way, and his cousin, the other gentleman, said that he would
keep him company, as that was his way to return home.

The priest and the lady much rejoiced to hear this news; they consulted
together and decided that the priest should take leave and quit the
house, in order that none of the people there might suspect him, and
about midnight he would return to the lady, as he was accustomed. No
sooner was this determined on than the priest said farewell, and left
the house.

Now you must know that the husband and his relative were hidden in a
gorge through which the priest would have to pass, and could neither go
or return any other way, without going out of the right road.

They saw the priest pass, and judged that he would return that night--as
indeed was his intention. They let him pass without saying a word, and
then prepared a large pitfall, with the help of some peasants who aided
them in the task. The trap was quickly and well made, and it was not
long before a wolf, passing that way, fell into the pit.

Soon after came the priest, clad in a short gown, and with a curtle axe
hung round his neck; and when he came to where the pitfall had been dug,
he fell into it on the wolf, at which he was much alarmed, and the wolf,
who was down there first, was as much afraid of the priest as the priest
was of it.

When the two gentlemen saw the priest lodged along with the wolf, they
were much delighted, and he who was most concerned, declared that the
priest should never come out alive, for he would kill him there. The
other blamed him for this, and did not wish the priest killed, and was
of opinion they should rather cut off his genitals; but the husband
wanted him killed, and this discussion lasted for a long time, while
they were awaiting the dawn, when they could see clearly.

Whilst they were thus waiting, the lady, who expected the priest, and
did not know why he tarried so long, sent her servant-maid in order to
make him hurry.

The maid, whilst on her road to the cure’s house, fell into the trap
with the wolf and the curé. She was much astonished to find herself in
such company.

“Alas!” said the priest, “I am lost. We have been found out, and someone
has laid this trap for us.”

The husband and his cousin, who heard and saw all, were both as pleased
as they could be; and they felt as sure as though the Holy Spirit had
revealed it to them, that the mistress would fellow the maid, for they
had heard the maid say that her mistress had sent her to the priest to
know why he had failed to come at the hour agreed upon between them.

The mistress, finding that neither the curé or the maid came, and that
dawn was approaching, suspected that there was something, and that she
should find them in a little wood there was on the road--which was where
the trap was laid--and determined to go there and try and find out if
there was any news.

She walked along towards the priest’s house, and when she came to the
spot where the trap was laid, she tumbled in along with the others.

When they found themselves all assembled, it need not be said that they
were much astonished, and each did his or her utmost to get out of the
pit, but it was no good, and they looked upon themselves as being as
good as dead, as well as dishonoured.

Then the two prime movers in the affair--that is to say the husband of
the lady, and his cousin--came to the edge of the pit, and saluted the
company, and told them to be comfortable, and asked them if they were
ready for breakfast.

The husband, who was anxious for his revenge, managed to send his cousin
to look after their horses, which were at a house near by, and when he
had got rid of him, he made all the haste he could, and threw a
quantity of brushwood into the pit, and set it on fire, and burned them
all--wife, priest, waiting-woman and wolf.

After that he left that part of the country, and went to the King to ask
his pardon, which he easily obtained.

And some say that the King remarked that it was a pity the poor wolf
should have been burned alive for the faults of the others.


*****


[Illustration: 57.jpg The obliging Brother.]



STORY THE FIFTY-SEVENTH -- THE OBLIGING BROTHER.

By Monsieur De Villiers.

_Of a damsel who married a shepherd, and how the marriage was arranged,
and what a gentleman, the brother of the damsel, said._


As you are all ready to listen to me, and no one comes forward at the
present moment to continue this glorious and edifying book of a Hundred
Stories, I will relate an instance which happened formerly in Dauphiné,
fit to be included in the number of the said novels.

A gentleman who lived in Dauphiné, had in his house a sister, aged
about eighteen or twenty, who was a companion to his wife, who loved her
dearly, so that they agreed together like two sisters.

It happened that this gentleman was bidden to the house of a neighbour,
who lived a couple of short leagues away, to visit him, and took with
him his wife and sister. They went, and God knows how cordially they
were received.

The wife of the neighbour who invited them, took the wife and sister of
the said gentleman for a walk after supper, talking of various matters,
and they came to the hut of the shepherd, which was near a large and
fine park in which the sheep were kept, and found there the chief
shepherd looking after his flock. And--as women will--they enquired
about many and various things, and amongst others they asked if he was
not cold in his cottage? He replied he was not, and that he was more
comfortable in his hut than they were in their glazed, matted, and
well-floored chambers.

They talked also of other matters, and some of their phrases had a
bawdy meaning; and the worthy shepherd, who was neither a fool nor a
blockhead, swore to them that he was prepared to undertake to do the job
eight or nine times in one night.

The sister of our gentleman cast amorous glances at the shepherd when
she heard this, and did not fail to tell him, when she found a fitting
opportunity, that he had made an impression on her, and that he was
to come to see her at her brother’s house, and that she would make him
welcome.

The shepherd, who saw she was a pretty girl, was not a little pleased at
this news, and promised to come and see her. And, in short, he did as he
had promised, and at the hour arranged between his lady-love and him was
in front of her window; and though it was a high and dangerous ascent,
nevertheless he accomplished it by means of a cord which she let down,
and a vine there was there, and was soon in her chamber, where, it need
not be said, he was heartily welcomed.

He showed that it was no empty boast he had made, for before daylight,
the stag had eight horns, at which the lady was greatly pleased. And
you must know that before the shepherd could come to the lady, he had
to walk two leagues, and swim the broad river, Rhone, which was close to
the house where his mistress lived; and when day came he had to recross
the Rhone, and return to his sheepfold; and he continued to do this for
a long time without being discovered.

During this time many gentlemen of that country demanded the hand of
this damsel turned shepherdess, in marriage, but not one of them was to
her taste; at which her brother was not best pleased, and said so many
times, but she was always well provided with answers and excuses.
She informed her lover, the shepherd, of all this, and one night she
promised him that, if he wished, she would never have any other husband
but him. He replied that he desired nothing better;

“But it can never be,” he said; “on account of your brother and your
other friends.”

“Do not trouble yourself about that,” she said, “let me manage as I like
and it will be all right.”

So they plighted troth to one another. But soon after that there came a
gentleman to make a last request for the hand of the lady shepherdess,
and who said he would marry her if she were only dressed in the manner
becoming her station without any other portion. Her brother would have
willingly listened to this demand, and tried to persuade his sister to
give her consent, pointing out to her what her duty was in such a case;
but he could not succeed, at which he was much displeased.

When she saw that he was angry with her, she took him on one side, and
said;

“Brother, you have long lectured me, and pressed me to marry such and
such a man, and I would never consent. Now I beg of you not to be angry
with or bear any resentment towards me, and I will tell you what has
prevented my acceding to any of these requests, if you will promise not
to be still more enraged against me.”

Her brother willingly promised. When she had obtained this assurance,
she told him that she was as good as married already, and that as long
as she lived she would never have for husband any other man than the one
she would show him that night if he wished.

“I should much like to see him,” replied her brother, “but who is he?”

“You will see in good time,” she said.

At the accustomed hour the shepherd came, and climbed to the lady’s
chamber, God knows how wet from having crossed the river. The brother
looked at him, and saw it was his neighbour’s shepherd, and was in no
small degree astonished; and still more so was the shepherd, who would
have fled when he saw him.

“Stay! Stay!” said the gentleman, “there is nothing to fear.”

“Is this,” he added turning to his sister, “the man of whom you spoke to
me?”

“Yes, truly, brother,” said she.

“Then make a good fire for him to warm himself,” said the gentleman,
“for he much needs it. And do you regard him as your husband; and truly
you are not wrong to like him, for he has run great dangers for love of
you. And since the matter has gone so far, and you have the courage to
take him for a husband, never mind me, and cursed be he who does not
hurry on the marriage.”

“Amen!” she said. “It shall be to-morrow, if you wish.”

“I do wish,” he replied; then turning to the shepherd.

“What do you say?”

“Whatever you wish.”

“There is nothing else for it then,” said the gentleman. “You are, and
shall be, my brother-in-law. Not so long ago our family was not noble;
so I may well have a shepherd for a brother-in-law.”

To cut the story short, the gentleman consented to the marriage of his
sister to the shepherd; and it was performed, and they both continued
to live in his house, though it was much talked about throughout the
country.

And when he was in some place where the affair was being talked
about, and surprise was expressed that he had not killed or beaten the
shepherd, the gentleman replied that he would never harm one whom his
sister loved; and that he would rather have for a brother-in-law, a
shepherd his sister liked, than some great man she did not like.

All this was said as a joke, and sportingly; for he was, and has always
been, a courteous and pleasant gentleman, and liked not to hear
his sister’s name bandied about, even amongst his friends and boon
companions.


*****



STORY THE FIFTY-EIGHTH -- SCORN FOR SCORN.

By Monseigneur.

_Of two comrades who wished to make their mistresses better inclined
towards them, and so indulged in debauchery, and said, that as after
that their mistresses still scorned them, that they too must have played
at the same game--as you will hear._


I knew, in the time of my green and virtuous youth, two gentlemen, good
comrades, accomplished, and provided with every quality to be praised
in a virtuous gentleman. They were friends, and were alike each other
in every respect, not only bodily, but as regarded their clothes, their
servants, and their horses.

It happened that they fell in love with two fair young damsels of good
family and gracious, and they did for these fair ladies’ sake a hundred
thousand little courtesies. Their vows were listened to--but nothing
more. Perhaps the damsels had lovers already, or did not wish to have
a love affair on their hands, for in truth the youths were both good
fellows, such as many a noble lady would have liked for a lover.

Be that as it may, they could not win their ladies’ love, which caused
them to pass many nights in God knows what sorrow, now cursing fortune,
now love, and most often their mistresses for being so unkind. Whilst
they were suffering this rage and grief, one of them said one day to his
friend,

“We can see with half an eye that our mistresses do not care for us,
and yet we more madly desire them than ever, and the more scorn and
harshness they show us the more we desire to please, serve, and obey
them! Upon my word this seems to me the height of folly. Let us, I pray
you, think no more of them than they do of us, and you will see that
when they know that, it will be their turn to seek and importune us.”

“Ah!” said the other, “very good advice, no doubt, but how can it be
carried out?”

“I have found the means,” said the first. “I have always heard it said,
and Ovid puts it in his book, The Remedy of Love, that to do--you know
what--much and often, makes you forget or think little of the person
with whom you are in love. I will tell you what we will do. We will take
home with us a couple of nice young ‘cousins’ (*), and we will sleep
with them, and commit every folly with them that our strength will
permit, and then we will go and see our ladies, and the devil is in it
if they do not then care for us.”

     (*) Prostitutes.   The word is doubtless derived from
     _coussin_.

The other agreed, and the proposal was carried out, and each took home a
nice wench. And after that they went to a great feast where their ladies
were, and they flaunted in front of the damsels, chattering carelessly
here and there, and seeming to say in a hundred thousand ways, “We do
not care for you”, believing that, as they had devised, their mistresses
would be displeased, and would try to make their lovers return to their
allegiance.

But it happened quite otherwise, for if the youths appeared to think but
little of the ladies, they on the other hand, showed openly that they
cared nothing for the young men, which the latter perceived, and were
much amazed at. The one said to his friend;

“Do you know what is the matter? Morbleu! our mistresses have done
exactly what we have done. Do you not see how scornful they are? They
carry themselves exactly as we do--and, believe me, for the very same
reason. They have each chosen a paramour and indulged in folly to the
utmost. Devil take the bitches! Let us leave them alone!”

“By my oath!” replied the other, “I believe it is as you say. I never
expected to find them like this.”

So the two friends thought that their mistresses had done the same as
they had done themselves, because the damsels took no more heed of them
than they did of the damsels--which may not have been true, but was not
difficult to believe.


*****



STORY THE FIFTY-NINTH -- THE SICK LOVER. [59]

By Poncelet.

_Of a lord who pretended to be sick in order that he might lie with the
servant maid, with whom his wife found him._


In the town of St. Omer there lived formerly a a good fellow, sergeant
to the king, who was married to a good and chaste woman, who had, by a
former marriage, a son grown up and married.

This good fellow, notwithstanding that he had a virtuous and prudent
wife, made love day and night with whomsoever he had a chance, and as
often as possible. And as in winter it was often inconvenient to go far
to seek for his love affairs, he bethought himself and reflected that he
need not leave home for a mistress, for that his wife’s maid was a very
pretty, young, and well-mannered girl, and he might manage to become her
lover.

In short, by gifts and promises, he obtained the girl’s permission to
do whatever he wished, but there were difficulties in the way, for his
wife, knowing her husband’s character, always kept an eye upon him.

Nevertheless, Cupid, who always comes to the help of his true followers,
inspired his good and loyal worshipper with an idea by which he could
accomplish his ends; for he pretended to be very sick of a chill, and
said to his wife;

“My dear helpmate, come here! I am as ill as I can be; I must go to bed,
and I beg of you to make all the servants go to bed too, in order that
there may be no noise or disturbance, and then come to our chamber.”

The worthy woman, who was much vexed at her husband’s illness, did as
she was ordered, and took fair sheets and warmed them, and put them over
her husband after he was in bed. And when he had been well warmed for a
long time, he said.

“My dear, that will suffice. I am well enough now, thanks be to God and
to you for the trouble you have taken; and I beg of you to come and lie
down by my side.”

She only desired her husband’s health and repose, and did as she
was desired, and went to sleep as quickly as possible. As soon as he
perceived she was asleep, he slipped quietly out of bed, and went to the
servant’s bed, where he was well received, and broke so many lances that
he was tired and worn out, and dropped off to sleep in her fair arms.

It often happens that when we go to bed vexed or melancholy we are
easily awakened,--indeed that may be the cause of our waking, and so it
happened to the wife. And as she took great care of her husband, she put
out her hand to touch him, and discovered that he was not in the bed;
and on feeling the pillow and the place where he had been lying, she
found that they were cold, and that he had been out of bed a long time.

Then, in despair, she jumped out of bed and put on a chemise and a
petticoat, and said to herself;

“Idle and worthless wretch that you are, you have much to reproach
yourself with, for by your neglect you have let your husband die. Alas!
why did I come to bed to-night and fall asleep; O Virgin Mary! I pray
that nothing has happened to him through my fault, or I shall deem
myself guilty of his death.”

After these regrets and lamentations, she went off to seek a light, and
in order that the servant-maid might help her to find her lost husband,
she went to her room to arouse her, and there found the happy pair,
asleep locked in each other’s arms, and it seemed that they must have
worked well that night, for they were not awakened by her coming into
the room or by the light she carried.

She was glad that her husband was not as ill as she had feared or
expected; and went to seek her children and all the servants of the
household, and brought them to see the couple, and asked them in a
low voice, who that was in the maid’s bed, sleeping with her? And the
children replied that it was their father, and the servants that it was
their master. Then she led them out, and made them go to bed again, for
it was too early to get up, and she also went back to bed, but did not
sleep again till it was time to rise.

Soon after she had left the lovers, they woke up, and took leave of each
other amorously. The master returned to bed, to his wife’s side, without
saying a word, nor did she, but pretended to be asleep, at which he
was very glad, thinking that she knew nothing of his adventure, for he
greatly feared her, both for his peace and that of the girl. So he slept
soundly, and his wife, as soon as it was time to get up, rose, and to
please her husband, and give him something comforting after the laxative
medicine that he had taken that night, woke up her servants, and called
her maid, and told her to kill the two fattest capons in the fowl-house,
and prepare them nicely, and then go to the butcher and buy the best bit
of beef she could procure, and put it in water to make a good soup, as
she well knew how, for she was a capital cook.

The girl, who heartily desired to please her mistress and her master,
the one for love and the other from fear, said that she would willingly
do all that was commanded.

Then the wife went to Mass, and on her return passed by the house of
her son, of whom I have spoken, and asked him to come and dine with
her husband, and to bring with him three or four good fellows whom she
named, and whom she and her husband wished invited.

Then she returned home to see after the dinner, and found that her
husband had gone to church. Meanwhile, her son had gone round to invite
the guests his mother had named, and who were the greatest jokers in St.
Omer.

The good man came back from Mass, and embraced his wife, and she did the
same to him, and, in order that he should not suspect anything, she said
that she rejoiced at his recovery, for which he thanked her, and said;

“Indeed I am in fairly good health, my dear, after last night, and I
think I have a very good appetite, so we will have dinner at once if you
like.”

She replied, “I am very glad to hear, it but you must wait a little till
the dinner is ready; and until such and such people, whom I have invited
to dine with you, have arrived.”

“Invited!” said he, “and for what reason? I do not care about them and
would rather they stayed where they are; for they jest at everything,
and if they know I have been ill, they will tease me about it. At least,
my dear, let me beg of you to say nothing about it. And there is another
thing--what will they eat?”

She said he need not trouble about that; they would have enough to eat,
for she had dressed the two best capons, as well as a fine piece of
beef, and all in his honour, at which he was very glad, and said it was
well done.

Soon after came those who had been invited, and the woman’s son.
And when all was ready, they sat at the table and made good cheer,
especially the host, and they drank often one to another.

The host said to his stepson;

“John, my friend, drink with your mother, and enjoy yourself.”

And he replied that he would willingly do so; and when he drank to his
mother, the maid, who was waiting at table came into the room.

Then the wife called her, and said,

“Come here, my dear friend and companion! drink to me, and I will pledge
thee.”

“Friend and companion!” said the host. “What is the meaning of all this
affection? What mischief is brewing now? This is something new!”

“Indeed, she is truly my honest and trusted companion! Why do you wonder
at that?”

“Oh, the devil, Joan! take care what you say! Any one would think there
was something between her and me.”

“And why should they not?” she said. “Did I not find you last night
lying in her bed, and sleeping in her arms?”

“In her bed?” he said.

“Truly, yes,” she replied.

“On my honour, gentlemen, it is not true, and she only says so to spite
me, and bring shame on the poor girl, for she never saw me there.”

“The devil I did not!” she replied. “You shall hear the statement again
from those of your own household.”

With that she called the children, and the servants who were standing
there, and asked them if they had not seen their father lying with the
maid, and they answered, yes.

“You lie, you naughty boys,” replied their father. “Your mother told you
to say it.”

“Begging your pardon, father, we saw you there; and so did the
servants.”

“Is that so?” asked the lady of the servants.

“That is quite true,” they replied.

Then all who were present laughed loudly, and teased him terribly, for
his wife related all about his pretended illness, and what he had done,
and how she had prepared the dinner and invited his friends in order to
make the story known, at which he was so ashamed that he hardly dared
hold up his head, and did not know what to reply except to say,

“Go on! you are all against me, so I will hold my tongue and let you
have your own way, for I can’t contend against the lot of you.”

Afterwards he ordered the table to be removed, and when grace was said,
he called his stepson and whispered to him;

“John, my friend, although the others accuse me, I know that you believe
me. See how much is owing to that poor girl, and pay her so liberally
that she will have no cause to complain, and send her away; for I know
well that your mother will never permit her to stay in the house.”

The stepson went and did as he was ordered, then he returned to the
friends whom he had brought, whom he found talking to his mother, then
they thanked her for their entertainment, and took leave and went.

The husband and wife remained at home, and it is to be supposed that he
did not hear the last of it for some time. For the poor husband did
not drain his cup of bitterness at the dinner-table, but found that the
proverb about dogs, hawks, war, and love, which says, “Every pleasure
has a thousand sorrows,” is true. But none should run the risk if
they are not prepared to pay the penalty. Thus did it happen that the
adventure of this worthy fellow ended in the manner related.


*****


[Illustration: 60.jpg Three very minor Brothers.]



STORY THE SIXTIETH -- THREE VERY MINOR BROTHERS. [60]

By Poncelet.

_Of three women of Malines, who were acquainted with three cordeliers,
and had their heads shaved, and donned the gown that they might not be
recognised, and how it was made known._


Formerly there were in the town of Malines three damsels, the wives of
three burghers of the town,--rich, powerful, and of good position, who
were in love with three Minor Friars; and to more secretly and covertly
manage their amours under the cloak of religion, they rose every day an
hour or two before dawn, and when it appeared a fit time to go and see
their lovers, they told their husbands they were going to matins to the
first Mass.

Owing to the great pleasure that they took in these exercises and the
monks also, it often happened that it was broad daylight, and they
could not leave the convent without being perceived by the other monks.
Therefore, fearing the great perils and inconveniences which might
arise, they arranged between them that each should wear a monk’s gown,
and have a tonsure made on her head, as though they belonged to the
convent. So finally one day that they were in the convent, and whilst
their husbands suspected nothing of it, a barber,--that is to say a
monk belonging to the convent--was sent for secretly to the cells of the
three brothers, and he cut a tonsure on the head of each.

And when the time came to leave, they put on the friars’ gowns with
which they were provided, and in that state returned to their respective
homes, and undressed, and left their disguise with certain discreet
matrons, and then returned to their husbands; and this continued for a
long while, without any person being aware of it.

But since it would have been a great pity that such excessive devotion
should not be known, fortune so willed that as on a certain day one
of these ladies was on her road to the accustomed haunt, her trick was
discovered, and she was caught in her disguise by her husband, who had
followed her, and who said:

“Good brother, I am glad to have met you! I would beg of you to return
to my house, for I have many things to say to you,” and with that he
took her back, at which she hardly felt joyful.

When they were in the house, the husband said, in a joking manner;

“My dear helpmate, can you swear on your honour that it is true piety,
which in the middle of winter, causes you to don the habit of St.
Francis, and have your head shaved like the good monks? Tell me the name
of your confessor, or by St. Francis you shall suffer for it,”--and he
pretended to draw his dagger.

The poor woman threw herself on her knees, and cried;

“Have mercy upon me, husband! for I have been led astray by bad
companions! I know that you could kill me if you liked, and that I have
not behaved as I should, but I am not the only one the monks have led
astray, and, if you promise that you will do nothing to me, I will tell
you all.”

To this her husband agreed; and then she told him how she often went to
the monastery with two of her cronies who were in love with two of the
monks, and they often breakfasted together in the monks’ cells. “A third
monk was in love with me,” she continued, “and made such humble and
impassioned requests to me that I could not excuse myself, and by the
instigation and example of my companions, I did as they did, they all
saying that we should have a good time together, and no one would know
about it.”

Then the husband demanded the names of her female friends, and she told
him. He was acquainted with their husbands, and they had often eaten and
drunk together. Finally, he asked who was the barber, and the names of
the three monks.

The good husband, after considering all things, and moved by the piteous
groans and sad regrets of his wife, said;

“Take care that you tell no one that you have spoken to me on this
matter, and I promise you that I will do you no harm.”

She promised that she would do whatever he wished. With that he went
away at once, and invited to dinner the two husbands and their wives,
the three Cordeliers, and the barber, and they all promised to come.

The next day they all came, and sat at table, and enjoyed themselves
without expecting any bad news. After the table was removed, they had
many joyous jests and devices to discover who should pay scot for all,
and as they could not agree, the host said;

“Since we cannot agree as to who is to pay the reckoning, I will tell
you what we will do. The one who has the baldest crown to his head shall
pay--of course excluding these good monks, who pay nothing--at present.”

To which they all agreed, and were content that it should be thus, and
that the barber should be the judge. And when all the men had shown
their heads, the host said that they ought to look at their wives’
heads.

It need not be asked if there were not some there present who felt their
hearts sink within them. Without an instant’s delay, the host uncovered
his wife’s head, and when he saw the tonsure he pretended to admire it
greatly, pretending that he knew nothing about it, and said,

“We must see if the others are the same.”

Then their husbands made them remove their head-dresses, and they were
found to be tonsured like the first one, at which the men were not best
pleased, notwithstanding that they laughed loudly, and declared that the
question had been settled, and that it was for their wives to pay the
reckoning.

But they wished to know how these tonsures came there, and the host,
rejoicing to be able to divulge such a secret, related the whole affair,
on condition that they would pardon their wives this time, after they
had been witnesses of the penance the good monks were to undergo in
their presence,--and to this both husbands agreed.

Then the host caused four or five sturdy varlets to come out of a
chamber near by, and they, knowing what they had to do, seized the
worthy monks and gave them as many blows as they could find room for
on their shoulders, and then turned them out of the house. The others
remained for a certain space, and it is to be supposed that a good deal
of conversation passed between them, but as it would take too long to
recount, I pass it over here, for the sake of brevity.


*****


[Illustration: 61.jpg Cuckolded--and Duped.]



STORY THE SIXTY-FIRST -- CUCKOLDED--AND DUPED. [61]

By Poncelet.

_Of a merchant who locked up in a bin his wife’s lover, and she secretly
put an ass there which caused her husband to be covered with confusion._


It happened once that in a large town of Hainault there lived a good
merchant married to a worthy woman. He travelled much, to buy and
sell his merchandise, and this caused his wife to have a lover in his
absence, and this continued for a long time.

Nevertheless, the secret was at last discovered by a neighbour, who was
a relative of the husband, and lived opposite the merchant’s house, and
who often saw a gallant enter the merchant’s house at night and leave in
the morning. Which matter was brought to the knowledge of the person to
whose prejudice it was, by this neighbour.

The merchant was much vexed, nevertheless he thanked his relative and
neighbour, and said that he would shortly see into the matter, and for
that purpose would shut himself up one night in his neighbour’s house,
that he might see if anyone visited his wife.

Lastly, he pretended to start on a journey, and told his wife and his
servants that he did not know when he should return. He started in the
early morning, but returned the same evening, and having left his horse
at some house, came secretly to his cousin, and peeped through a little
lattice, expecting to see that which would hardly have pleased him.

He waited till about nine o’clock, when the gallant, whom the damsel
had informed that her husband was away, passed once or twice before his
lady-love’s house, and looked at the door to see if he might enter,
but found it closed. He guessed that it was not yet time, and whilst he
strolled about waiting, the good merchant, who thought that this was the
man he wanted, came down, and went to his door, and said,

“Friend, the lady heard you, and as she is afraid that the master may
come back, she sent me down to let you in, if you please.”

The gallant, thinking it was the servant, followed him, the door was
opened gently, and he was conducted into a chamber in which there was
a large bin, which the merchant unlocked and made the young man enter,
that he should not be discovered if the husband returned. “My mistress
will come and talk to you and let you out,” added the merchant as he
turned the key in the lock.

The gallant suffered all this for the sake of what was to follow, and
because he believed that the other spoke the truth.

Then the merchant started off at once as quickly as he could, and went
to the cousin and his wife, and said to them:

“The rat is caught; but now we must consider what to do.”

The cousin, and more particularly his wife--for there was no love lost
between the two women--were very glad to hear this, and said that it
would be best for him to show the gallant to all his wife’s relations in
order that they might know how she conducted herself.

This being determined on, the merchant went to the house of his wife’s
father and mother, and told them that if ever they wished to see their
daughter alive they must come at once to his house.

They jumped up at once, and, whilst they were preparing, he also went
off to two of her brothers and her sisters, and told them the same
thing. Then he took them all to the cousin’s house, and related the
whole history, and how the rat had been caught.

Now you must know what the gallant did in the bin all the time, until
he was luckily released. The damsel, who wondered greatly that her lover
did not come, went backwards and forwards to the door, to see if he
were coming. The young man, who heard her pass close to him without ever
speaking to him, began to thump with his fist on the side of the bin.
The damsel heard it, and was greatly frightened; nevertheless she asked
who was there, and the gallant replied;

“Alas, my dearest love, I am dying here of heat and doubt, for I am much
surprised that I have been shut in here, and that no one has yet come to
me.”

“Virgin Mary! who can have put you there, my dear?”

“By my oath I know not,” he replied; “but your varlet came to me and
told me that you had asked him to bring me into the house, and that
I was to get into this bin, that the husband might not find me if by
chance he should come back to-night.”

“Ah!” said she, “by my life that must have been my husband. I am a lost
woman; and our secret has been discovered.”

“Do you know what is to be done?” he said. “In the first place you must
let me out, or I will break everything, for I can no longer endure being
shut up.”

“By my oath!” said the damsel, “I have not the key; and if you break
through, I am undone, for my husband will say that I did it to save
you.”

Finally, the damsel searched about, and found a lot of old keys, amongst
which was one that delivered the poor captive. As soon as he was out,
he tumbled the lady, to show her what a grudge he had against her, which
she bore patiently. After that her lover would have left her, but the
damsel hung round his neck, and told him that if he went away like that,
she would be as much dishonoured as though he had broken out of the bin.

“What is to be done then?” said the gallant.

“We must put something there for my husband to find, or he will think
that I have let you out.”

“And what shall we put there?” asked the lover. “For it is time for me
to go.”

“We have in the stable,” she said, “an ass, that we will put in if you
will help me.”

“Certainly, I will,” he answered.

The ass was driven into the bin, and it was locked again, and then her
lover took leave of her with a sweet kiss, and left by a back-door,
whilst the damsel quickly got into bed.

Whilst these things were happening, her husband had assembled all his
wife’s relatives, and brought them to his cousin’s house, as has been
said, where he informed them of what he had done, and how he had caught
the gallant, and had him under lock and key.

“And in order that you shall not say,” he added, “that I blame your
daughter without cause, you shall both see and touch the scoundrel who
has done us this dishonour, and I beg that he may be killed before he
can get away.”

Every one present declared that it should be so.

“And then,” said the merchant, “I will send you back your daughter for
such as she is.”

With that they all accompanied him, though sorrowing much at the news,
and they took with them torches and flambeaux, so as to be better able
to search, and that nothing should escape them.

They knocked so loudly that the damsel came before anyone else in the
house was awakened, and opened the door, and when they had come in, she
abused her husband, her father, her mother, and the others, and declared
that she wondered greatly what could have brought them all at that hour
of the night. At these words her husband stepped forward, and gave her a
good buffet, and said,

“You shall know soon enough, false such and such that you are.”

“Ah! take care what you say. Was it for that you brought my father and
mother here?”

“Yes,” said the mother, “false wench that you are. We will drag forth
your paramour directly.”

And her sisters said,

“By God, sister you did not learn at home to behave like this.”

“Sisters,” she replied, “by all the saints of Rome, I have done nothing
that a good woman should not do. I should like to see anyone prove the
contrary.”

“You lie!” said her husband. “I can prove it at once, and the rascal
shall be killed in your presence. Up quickly! and open me this bin.”

“I?” she replied. “In truth I think you must be dreaming, or out of your
senses, for you know well that I have never had the key, but that it
hangs at your belt along with the others, ever since the time that you
locked up your goods. If you want to open it, open it. But I pray to God
that, as truly as I have never kept company with whoever is in that box,
that He will deliver me, to my great joy, and that the evil spite that
you have against me may be clearly proved and demonstrated--and I have
full hope and confidence that it will be so.”

“And I hope,” said her husband, addressing the crowd, “that you will see
her on her knees, weeping and groaning, and squalling like a drenched
cat. She would deceive anybody who was fool enough to believe her, but
I have suspected her for a long time past. Now I am going to unlock the
bin, and I beg you, gentlemen, to lay hands on the scoundrel, that he
escape us not, for he is strong and bold.”

“Have no fear!” they cried in chorus. “We will give a good account of
him.”

“With that they drew their swords, and brandished their hammers to knock
down the poor lover, and they shouted to him,

“Confess your sins! for you will never have a priest nearer you.”

The mother and sisters, not wishing to witness the murder, drew on one
side, and then the good man opened the bin, and as soon as the ass saw
the light, it began to bray so hideously that the boldest person there
was affrighted.

And when they saw that it was an ass, and that they had been befooled,
they cursed the merchant, and showered more abuse on him than ever St.
Peter had praise, and even the women inveighed against him. In fact, if
he had not fled, his wife’s brothers would have killed him, in revenge
for the blame and dishonour he had wrongly tried to bring on the family.

There was such ado between him and his wife’s family that peace had to
be made between them by the chief burghers of the town, and this was
not effected without much trouble, and many demands on the part of her
friends, and many strict promises on his part. But ever after that he
was all kindness and consideration, and never did a man conduct himself
better to his wife than he did all his life; and thus they passed their
days together.


*****


[Illustration: 62.jpg The lost Ring.]



STORY THE SIXTY-SECOND -- THE LOST RING.

By Monseigneur De Commesuram.

_Of two friends, one of whom left a diamond in the bed of his hostess,
where the other found it, from which there arose a great discussion
between them, which the husband of the said hostess settled in an
effectual manner._


About the month of July (*) a great meeting and assembly was held
between Calais and Gravelines, and near the castle of Oye, at which were
assembled many princes and great lords, both of France and of England,
to consider the question of the ransom of the Duke of Orléans, (**) then
prisoner to the king of England. Amongst the English representatives
was the Cardinal of Winchester, who had come to the said assembly in
great and noble state, with many knights, and squires and ecclesiastics.

     (*) 1440.

     (**) Charles, Duke of Orléans, was taken prisoner at the
     battle of Agincourt in 1415, and, as his ransom was not
     forthcoming was detained a captive for 25 years, when the
     Duke and Duchess of Burgundy intervened to procure his
     freedom. Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, accepted a
     ransom of 200,000 gold crowns, payment of which was
     guaranteed by the Dauphin of France, Duke Philip of
     Burgundy, and other princes, with the consent of the King of
     France.   The agreement was signed 22 Nov. 1440.

And amongst the other noblemen were two named John Stockton, squire, and
carver, and Thomas Brampton, cup-bearer to the said Cardinal--which said
John and Thomas loved each other like two brothers, for their clothes,
harness, and arms were always as nearly alike as possible, and they
usually shared the same room and the said bed, and never was there heard
any quarrel, dispute, or misunderstanding between them.

When the said Cardinal arrived at the said town of Calais, there was
hired for him to lodge the said noblemen, the house of Richard Fery,
which is the largest house in the town of Calais, and it is the custom
of all great lords passing through the town to lodge there.

The said Richard was married to a Dutchwoman; who was beautiful,
courteous, and well accustomed to receive guests.

While the treaty was being discussed, which was for more than two
months, John Stockton and Thomas Brampton, who were both of the age
of 26 or 28 years, wore bright crimson clothes, (*) and were ready for
feats of arms by night or day--during this time, I say, notwithstanding
the intimacy and friendship which existed between these two
brothers-in-arms, the said John Stockton, unknown to the said Thomas,
found means to visit their hostess, and often conversed with her, and
paid her many of those attentions customary in love affairs, and finally
was emboldened to ask the said hostess if he might be her friend, and
she would be his lady-love.

     (*) Shakespeare several times in the course of the First
     Part of Henry VI mentions “the tawny robes of Winchester.”
      Which is right?

To which, as though pretending to be astonished at such a request, she
replied coldly that she did not hate him, or anyone, nor wish to, but
that she loved all the world as far as in honour she could, but if she
rightly understood his request, she could not comply with it without
great danger of dishonour and scandal, and perhaps risk to her life, and
for nothing in the world would she consent thereto.

John replied that she might very well grant his request, for that he
would rather perish, and be tormented in the other world, than that she
should be dishonoured by any fault of his, and that she was in no wise
to suspect that her honour would not be safe in his keeping, and he
again begged her to grant him this favour, and always deem him her
servant and loving friend.

She pretended to tremble, and replied that truly he made all the blood
freeze in her veins, such fear and dread had she of doing that which he
asked. Then he approached her and requested a kiss, which the ladies and
damsels of the said country of England are ready enough to grant, (*)
and kissing her, begged her tenderly not to be afraid, for no person
living should ever be made acquainted with what passed between them.

     (*) Is this a libel on the English ladies of the 16th
     century, or is it true--as Bibliophile Jacob asserts in the
     foot-note to this passage--that “English prudery is a
     daughter of the Reformation?”

Then she said;

“I see that there is no escape, and that I must do as you wish, and as
this must be so, in order to guard my honour, let me tell you that a
regulation has been made by all the lords now living in Calais that
every householder shall watch one night a week on the town walls. But as
my husband has done so much, either himself or by his friends, for the
lords and noblemen of the Cardinal, your master, who lodge here, he has
only to watch half the night, and he will do so on Thursday next, from
the time the bell rings in the evening until midnight; and whilst my
husband is away on his watch, if you have anything to say to me, you
will find me in my chamber, quite willing to listen to you, and along
with my maid;”--who was quite ready to perform whatever her mistress
wished.

John Stockton was much pleased with this answer, and thanked his
hostess, and told her that it would not be his fault if he did not come
at the appointed hour.

This conversation took place on the Monday, after dinner. But it should
here be stated that Thomas Brampton had, unknown to his friend John
Stockton, made similar requests to their hostess, but she would not
grant his desire, but now raised his hopes and then dashed them to the
ground, saying that he must have but a poor idea of her virtue, and
that, if she did what he wished, she was sure that her husband and his
relations and friends would take her life.

To this Thomas replied;

“My beloved mistress and hostess, I am a nobleman, and for no
consideration would I bring upon you blame or dishonour, or I should be
unworthy of the name of a gentleman. Believe me, that I would guard your
honour as I do my own, and would rather die than reveal your secret; and
that there is no friend or other person in the world, however dear to
me, to whom I would relate our love-affair.”

She, therefore, noting the great affection and desire of the said
Thomas, told him, on the Wednesday following the day on which she had
given John the gracious reply recorded above--that, as he had a great
desire to do her any service, she would not be so ungrateful as not to
repay him. And then she told him how it was arranged that her husband
should watch the morrow night, like the other chief householders of the
town, in compliance with the regulation made by the lords then staying
in Calais. But as--thank God--her husband had powerful friends to speak
to the Cardinal for him, he had only to watch half the night, that is to
say from midnight till the morning, and that if Thomas wished to speak
to her during that time, she would gladly hear him, but, for God’s sake
let him come so secretly that no blame could attach to her.

Thomas replied that he desired nothing better, and with that he took
leave of her.

On the morrow, which was Thursday, at vespers, after the bell had rung
for the watch, John Stockton did not forget to appear at the hour his
hostess had appointed. He went to her chamber, and found her there quite
alone, and she received him and made him welcome, for the table was
laid.

John requested that he might sup with her, that they might the better
talk together,--which she would not at first grant, saying that it might
cause scandal if he were found with her. But she finally gave way, and
the supper--which seemed to John to take a long time--being finished, he
embraced his hostess, and they enjoyed themselves together, both naked.

Before he entered the chamber, he had put on one of his fingers, a gold
ring set with a large fine diamond, of the value of, perhaps, thirty
nobles. And in playing together, the ring slipped from his finger in the
bed without his knowing it.

When it was about 11 o’clock, the damsel begged him kindly to dress and
leave, that he might not be found by her husband, whom she expected as
soon as midnight sounded, and that he would guard her honour as he had
promised.

He, supposing that her husband would return soon, rose, dressed,
and left the chamber as soon as the clock struck twelve, and without
remembering the diamond he had left in the bed.

Not far from the door of the chamber John Stockton met Thomas Brampton,
whom he mistook for his host, Richard. Thomas,--who had come at the hour
the lady appointed,--made a similar mistake, and took John Stockton for
Richard, and waited a few moments to see which way he would go.

Having watched the other disappear, Thomas went to the chamber, found
the door ajar, and entered. The lady pretended to be much frightened and
alarmed, and asked Thomas, with doubt and fear, whether he had met her
husband who had just left to join the watch? He replied that he had met
a man, but did not know whether it was her husband or another, and had
waited a little in order to see which way he would go.

When she heard this, she kissed him boldly, and told him he was welcome,
and Thomas, without more ado, laid her on the bed and tumbled her. When
she found what manner of man he was, she made haste to undress, and he
also, and they both got into bed, and sacrificed to the god of love, and
broke several lances.

But in performing these feats, Thomas met with an adventure, for he
suddenly felt under his thigh, the diamond that John Stockton had left
there, and without saying anything, or evincing any surprise, he picked
it up, and put it on his finger.

They remained together until the morning, when the watch bell was about
to ring, when, at the request of the damsel he rose, but before he
left they embraced with a long, loving kiss. He had scarcely gone when
Richard came off the watch, on which he had been all night, very cold
and sleepy, and found his wife just getting up. She made him a fire, and
then he went to bed, for he had worked all night,--and so had his wife
though not in the same fashion.

It is the custom of the English, after they have heard Mass, to
breakfast at a tavern, with the best wine; and about two days after
these events, John and Thomas were in a company of other gentlemen and
merchants, who were breakfasting together, and Stockton and Brampton
were seated opposite each other.

Whilst they were eating, John looked at Thomas, and saw on one of
his fingers the diamond. He gazed at it a long time, and came to the
conclusion that it was the ring he had lost, he did not know where or
when, and he begged Thomas to show him the diamond, who accordingly
handed it to him, and when he had it in his hand he saw that it was his
own, and told Thomas so, and asked him how he came by it. To this Thomas
replied that it belonged to _him_. Stockton maintained, on the contrary,
that he had lost it but a short time before, and that if Thomas had
found it in the chamber where they slept, it was not right of him to
keep it, considering the affection and fraternity which had always
existed between them. High words ensued, and both were angry and
indignant with each other.

Thomas wished to get the diamond back, but could not obtain it. When
the other gentlemen and merchants heard the dispute, all tried to bring
about a reconciliation, but it was no good, for he who had lost the
diamond would not let it out of his hands, and he who had found it
wanted it back, as a memento of his love-encounter with his mistress, so
that it was difficult to settle the dispute.

Finally, one of the merchants, seeing that all attempts to make up the
quarrel were useless, said that he had hit upon a plan with which both
John and Thomas ought to be satisfied, but he would not say what it was
unless both parties promised, under a penalty of ten nobles, to abide
by what he said. All the company declared that the merchant had spoken
well, and persuaded John and Thomas to abide by this decision, which
they at last consented to do.

The merchant ordered the diamond to be placed in his hands, then that
all those who had tried to settle the difference should be silent, and
that they should leave the house where they were, and the first man they
met, whatever his rank or condition should be told the whole matter of
the dispute between the said John and Thomas, and, whatever he decided,
his verdict should be accepted without demur by both parties.

Thereupon all the company left the house, and the first person they met
was Richard, the host of both disputants, to whom the merchant narrated
the whole of the dispute.

Richard--after he had heard all, and had asked those, who were present
if the account was correct, and the two were unwilling to let
this dispute be settled by so many notable persons,--delivered his
verdict--namely that the diamond should remain his, and that neither of
the parties should have it.

When Thomas saw himself deprived of the diamond he had found, he was
much vexed; and most probably so also was John Stockton, who had lost
it.

Then Thomas requested all the company, except their host, to return to
the house where they had breakfasted, and he would give them a dinner in
order that they might hear how the diamond had come into his hands,
to which they all agreed. And whilst the dinner was being prepared,
he related the conversation he had had with his hostess, how she had
appointed him an hour for him to visit her, whilst her husband was out
with the watch, and how the diamond was found.

When John Stockton heard this he was astonished, and declared that
exactly the same had occurred to him, and on the same night, and that
he was convinced that he must have dropped his diamond where Thomas had
found it, and that it was far worse for him to lose it than it was for
Thomas, for it had cost him dear, whereas Thomas had lost nothing.

To which Thomas replied that he ought not to complain that their host
had adjudged it to be his, considering what their hostess had had to
suffer, and that he (John) had had first innings, whilst Thomas had had
to act as his page or squire, and come after him.

So John Stockton was tolerably reconciled to the loss of his ring, since
he could not otherwise help it. And all those who were present laughed
loudly at the story of this adventure; and after they had all dined,
each returned whithersoever he wished.


*****



STORY THE SIXTY-THIRD -- MONTBLERU; OR THE THIEF. [63]

By G. De Montbleru.

_Of one named Montbleru, who at a fair at Antwerp stole from his
companions their shirts and handkerchiefs, which they had given to the
servant-maid of their hostess to be washed; and how afterwards they
pardoned the thief, and then the said Montbleru told them the whole of
the story._


Montbleru found himself about two years ago at the fair of Antwerp, in
the company of Monseigneur d’Estampes, who paid all his expenses--which
was much to the liking of Montbleru.

One day amongst others, by chance he met Masters Ymbert de Playne,
Roland Pipe, and Jehan Le Tourneur, who were having a merry time; and
as he is pleasant and obliging, as everyone knows, they desired his
company, and begged him to come and lodge with them, and then they would
have a merrier time than ever.

Montbleru at first excused himself, on the ground that he ought not to
quit Monseigneur d’Estampes who had brought him there;

“And there is a very good reason,” he said, “for he pays all my
expenses.”

Nevertheless, he was willing to leave Monseigneur d’Estampes if the
others would pay his expenses, and they, who desired nothing better than
his company, willingly and heartily agreed to this. And now hear how he
paid them out.

These three worthy lords, Masters Ymbert, Roland, and Jehan Le Tourneur,
stayed at Antwerp longer than they expected when they left Court, and
each had brought but one shirt, and these and their handkerchiefs etc.
became dirty, which was a great inconvenience to them, for the weather
was very hot, it being Pentecost. So they gave them to the servant-maid
at their lodgings to wash, one Saturday night when they went to bed, and
they were to have them clean the following morning when they rose.

But Montbleru was on the watch. When the morning came, the maid, who
had washed the shirts and handkerchiefs, and dried them, and folded them
neatly and nicely, was called away by her mistress to go to the butcher
to seek provisions for the dinner. She did as her mistress ordered, and
left all these clothes in the kitchen, on a stool, expecting to find
them on her return, but in this she was disappointed, for Montbleru,
when he awoke and saw it was day, got out of bed, and putting on a
dressing gown over his shirt, went downstairs.

He went into the kitchen, where there was not a living soul, but only
the shirts, handkerchiefs, and other articles, asking to be taken.
Montbleru saw his opportunity, and took them, but was much puzzled to
know where he could hide them. Once he thought of putting them amongst
the big copper pots and pans which were in the kitchen; then of hiding
them up his sleeve; but finally he concealed them in the hay in the
stable, with a big heap of straw on the top, and that being done, he
returned to bed and lay down by the side of Jehan Le Tourneur.

When the servant maid came back from the butcher’s, she could not find
the shirts, at which she was much vexed, and she asked everybody she met
if they had seen them? They all told her they knew nothing about them,
and God knows what a time she had. Then came the servants of these
worthy lords, who expected the shirts and were afraid to go to their
masters without them, and grew angry because the shirts could not be
found, and so did the host, and the hostess, and the maid.

When it was about nine o’clock, these good lords called their servants,
but none of them answered, for they were afraid to tell their masters
about the loss of their shirts; but at last, however, when it was
between 11 and 12 o’clock, the host came, and the servants, and told
the gentlemen how their shirts had been stolen, at which news two of
them--Masters Ymbert and Roland--lost patience, but Jehan Le Tourneur
took it easily, and did nothing but laugh, and called Montbleru, who
pretended to be asleep, but who heard and knew all, and said to him,

“Montbleru, we are all in a nice mess. They have stolen our shirts.”

“Holy Mary! what do you say?” replied Montbleru, pretending to be only
just awake. “That is bad news.”

When they had discussed the robbery of their shirts for a long
time--Montbleru well knew who was the thief--these worthy lords said;

“It is late, and we have not yet heard Mass, and it is Sunday, and we
cannot very well go without a shirt. What is to be done?”

“By my oath!” said the host, “I know of nothing better than to lend you
each one of my shirts, such as they are. They are not as good as yours,
but they are clean, and there is nothing better to be done.”

They were obliged to take their host’s shirts which were too short and
too small, and made of hard, rough linen, and God knows they were a
pretty sight in them.

They were soon ready, thank God, but it was so late that they did not
know where they could hear Mass. Then said Montbleru, in his familiar
way,

“As for hearing Mass, it is too late to-day; but I know a church in this
town where at least, we shall not fail to see God.”

“That is better than nothing,” said the worthy lords. “Come, come! let
us get away, for it is very late, and to lose our shirts, and not to
hear Mass to-day would be a double misfortune; and it is time we went to
church if we want to hear Mass.”

Montbleru took them to the principal church in Antwerp, where there is
a God on an ass (*).

     (*) A picture or bas-relief, representing Christ’s entry
     into Jerusalem, is probably meant.

When they had each said a paternoster, they said to Montbleru, “Where
shall we see God?”

“I will show you,” he replied. Then he showed them God mounted on an
ass, and added, “You will never fail to find Him here at whatever hour
you come.”

They began to laugh in spite of the discomfort their shirts caused them.
Then they went back to dinner, and were after that I know not how many
days at Antwerp, and left without their shirts, for Montbleru had hidden
them in a safe place, and afterwards sold them for five gold crowns.

Now God so willed that in the first week of Lent, Montbleru was at
dinner with the three worthy gentlemen before named, and in the course
of his talk he reminded them of the shirts they had lost at Antwerp, and
said,

“Alas, the poor thief who robbed you will be damned for that, unless God
and you pardon him. Do you bear him any ill-will?”

“By God!” said Master Ymbert, “my dear sir, I have thought no more about
it,--I had forgotten it long since.”

“At least,” said Montbleru, “you pardon him, do you not?”

“By St. John!” he replied, “I would not have him damned for my sake.”

“By my oath, that is well said,” answered Montbleru. “And you Master
Roland,--do you also pardon him?”

After a good deal of trouble, he agreed to pardon the thief, but as the
theft rankled in his mind, he found the word hard to pronounce.

“And will you also pardon him, Master Roland?” said Montbleru. “What
will you gain by having a poor thief damned for a wretched shirt and
handkerchief?”

“Truly I pardon him,” said he. “He is quit as far as I am concerned,
since there is nothing else to be done.”

“By my oath, you are a good man,” said Montbleru.

Then came the turn of Jehan Le Tourneur. Montbleru said to him,

“Now, Jehan, you will not be worse than the others. Everything will be
pardoned to this poor stealer of shirts unless you object.”

“I don’t object,” he replied. “I have long since pardoned him, and I
will give him absolution into the bargain.”

“You could not say more,” rejoined Montbleru, “and by my oath I am
greatly obliged to you for having pardoned the thief who stole your
shirts, as far as I personally am concerned, for I am the thief who
stole your shirts at Antwerp. So I profit by your free pardon, and thank
you for it, as I ought to do.”

When Montbleru confessed this theft, and had been forgiven by all the
party as you have heard, it need not be asked if Masters Ymbert, Roland,
and Jehan Le Tourneur were astonished, for they had never suspected
that it was Montbleru who had played that trick upon them, and they
reproached him playfully with the theft. But he, knowing his company,
excused himself cleverly for having played such a joke upon them,
and told them that it was his custom to take whatever he found
unprotected,--especially with people like them.

They only laughed, but asked him how he had managed to effect the theft,
and he told them the whole story, and said also that he had made five
crowns out of his booty, after which they asked him no more.


*****



STORY THE SIXTY-FOURTH -- THE OVER-CUNNING CURÉ. [64]

By Michault De Changy.

_Of a priest who would have played a joke upon a gelder named
Trenche-couille, but, by the connivance of his host, was himself
castrated._


There formerly lived in this country, in a place that I have a good
reason for not mentioning (if any should recognise it, let him be silent
as I am) a curé who was over-fond of confessing his female parishioners.
In fact, there was not one who had not had to do with him, especially
the young ones--for the old he did not care.

When he had long carried on this holy life and virtuous exercise, and
his fame had spread through all the country round, he was punished
in the way that you will hear, by one of his parishioners, to whom,
however, he had done nothing concerning his wife.

He was one day at dinner, and enjoying himself, at the inn kept by his
parishioner, and as they were in the midst of their dinner, there came
a man named Trenchecouille, whose business it was to cut cattle, pull
teeth, and other matters, and who had come to the inn for one of these
purposes.

The host received him well, and asked him to sit down, and, without
being much pressed, he sat down with the curé and the others, to eat.

The curé, who was a great joker, began to talk to this gelder and asked
him a hundred thousand questions about his business, and the gelder
replied as he best could.

At the end, the curé turned to the host, and whispered in his ear,

“Shall we play a trick upon this gelder?”

“Oh, yes, let us,” replied the host. “But how shall we do it?”

“By my oath,” said the curé, “we will play him a pretty trick, if you
will help me.”

“I am quite willing,” replied the host.

“I will tell you what we will do,” said the curé. “I will pretend to
have a pain in the testicle, and bargain with him to cut it out; then I
will be bound and laid on the table all ready, and when he comes near to
cut me, I will jump up and show him my backside.”

“That is well said,” replied my host, who at once saw what he had to
do. “We shall never hit on anything better. We will all help you with
the joke.”

“Very well,” said the curé.

After this the curé began again to rally the gelder, and at last told
him that he had want of a man like him, for that he had a testicle all
diseased and rotten, and would like to find a man who would extract it,
and he said it so quietly and calmly that the gelder believed him, and
replied;

“Monsieur le curé, I would have you know that without either disparaging
myself or boasting, there is not a man in this country who can do the
job better than I can, and for the sake of the host here, I will do my
best to satisfy you.”

“Truly, that is well said;” replied the curé.

In short, all was agreed, and when the dinner had been removed, the
gelder began to make his preparations, and on the other hand the curé
prepared to play the practical joke, (which was to turn out no joke for
him) and told the host and the others what they were to do.

Whilst these preparations were being made on both sides, the host went
to the gelder, and said,

“Take care, and, whatever the priest may say, cut out both his
testicles, clean,--and fail not, if you value your carcass.”

“By St. Martin, I will,” replied the gelder, “since you wish it. I have
ready a knife so sharp that I will present you with his testicles before
he has time to say a word.”

“We shall see what you can do,” said the host, “but if you fail, I will
never again have anything to do with you.”

All being ready, the table was brought, and the curé, in his doublet,
pretended to be in great pain, and promised a bottle of good wine to the
gelder.

The host and his servants laid hold of the curé so that he could not get
away, and for better security they tied him tightly, and told him that
was to make the joke better, and that they would let him go when he
wished, and he like a fool believed them. Then came the brave gelder,
having a little rasor concealed in his hand, and began to feel the
cure’s testicles.

“In the devil’s name,” said the curé, “do it well and with one cut.
Touch them first as you can, and afterwards I will tell you which one I
want taken out.”

“Very well,” he replied, and lifting up the shirt, took hold of the
testicles, which were big and heavy and without enquiring which was the
bad one, cut them both out at a single stroke.

The good curé began to yell, and make more ado than ever man made.

“Hallo, hallo!” said the host; “have patience. What is done, is done.
Let us bandage you up.”

The gelder did all that was necessary, and then went away, expecting a
handsome present from the host.

It need not be said that the curé was much grieved at this deprivation,
and he reviled the host, who was the cause of the mischief, but God
knows he excused himself well, and said that if the gelder had not
disappeared so quickly, he would have served him so that he would never
have cut any one again.

“As you imagine,” he said, “I am greatly grieved at your misfortune, and
still more that it should have happened in my inn.”

The news soon spread through the town, and it need not be said that many
damsels were vexed to find themselves deprived of the cure’s instrument,
but on the other hand the long-suffering husbands were so happy that I
could neither speak nor write the tenth part of their joy.

Thus, as you have heard, was the curé, who had deceived and duped so
many others, punished. Never after that did he dare to show himself
amongst men, but soon afterwards ended in grief and seclusion his
miserable life.


*****


[Illustration: 65.jpg Indiscretion reproved, but not punished.]



STORY THE SIXTY-FIFTH -- INDISCRETION REPROVED, BUT NOT PUNISHED.

By The Provost Of Wastennes.

_Of a woman who heard her husband say that an innkeeper at Mont St.
Michel was excellent at copulating, so went there, hoping to try for
herself, but her husband took means to prevent it, at which she was much
displeased, as you will hear shortly._


Often a man says things for which he is sorry afterwards, and so it
happened formerly that a good fellow who lived in a village near Mont
St. Michel, talked one night at a supper, at which were present his
wife, and several strangers and neighbours, of an inn-keeper of Mont
St. Michel, and declared, affirmed, and swore on his honour, that this
inn-keeper had the finest, biggest, and thickest member in all the
country round, and could use it so well that four, five, or six times
cost him no more trouble than taking off his hat. All those who were at
table listened to this favourable account of the prowess of mine host
of Mont St. Michel, and made what remarks they pleased about it, but the
person who took the most notice was the lady of the house, the wife of
the man who related the story, who had listened attentively, and to
whom it seemed that a woman would be most happy and fortunate who had a
husband so endowed.

And she also thought in her heart that if she could devise some cunning
excuse she would some day go to Mont St. Michel, and put up at the inn
kept by the man with the big member, and it would not be her fault if
she did not try whether the report were true.

To execute what she had so boldly devised, at the end of six or eight
days she took leave of her husband, to go on a pilgrimage to Mont St.
Michel; and she invented some clever excuse for her journey, as women
well know how to do. Her husband did not refuse her permission to go,
though he had his suspicions.

At parting, her husband told her to make an offering to Saint Michael,
and that she was to lodge at the house of the said landlord, and he
recommended her to him a hundred thousand times.

She promised to accomplish all he ordered, and upon that took leave and
went away, much desiring, God knows, to find herself at Mont St. Michel.
As soon as she had left, the husband mounted his horse, and went as fast
as he could, by another road to that which his wife had taken, to Mont
St. Michel, and arrived secretly, before his wife, at the inn kept by
the man already mentioned, who most gladly welcomed him. When he was in
his chamber, he said to his host,

“My host, you and I have been friends for a long time. I will tell you
what has brought me to your town now. About five or six days ago, a lot
of good fellows were having supper at my house, and amongst other talk,
I related how it was said throughout the country that there was no man
better furnished than you”--and then he told him as nearly as possible
all that had been said. “And it happened,” he continued, “that my wife
listened attentively to what I said, and never rested till she obtained
permission to come to this town. And by my oath, I verily suspect that
her chief intention is to try if she can, if my words were true that
I said about your big member. She will soon be here I expect, for she
longs to come; so I pray you when she does come you will receive her
gladly, and welcome her, and do all that she asks. But at all events do
not deceive me; take care that you do not touch her. Appoint a time
to come to her when she is in bed, and I will go in your place, and
afterwards I will tell you some good news.”

“Let me alone,” said the host. “I will take care and act my part well.”

“At all events,” said the other, “be sure and serve me no trick, for I
know well enough that she will be ready to.”

“By my oath,” said the host, “I assure you I will not come near her,”
 and he did not.

Soon after came our wench and her maid, both very tired, God knows;
and the good host came forth, and received his guests as he had been
enjoined, and as he had promised. He caused mademoiselle to be taken to
a fair chamber, and a good fire to be made, and brought the best wine
in the house, and sent for some fine fresh cherries, and came to banquet
with her whilst supper was getting ready. When he saw his opportunity,
he began to make his approaches to her, but in a roundabout way. To cut
matters short, an agreement was made between them that he should come
secretly at midnight to sleep with her.

This being arranged, he went and told the husband of the dame, who, at
the hour named, went in mine host’s instead, and did the best he could,
and rose before daybreak and returned to his own bed.

When it was day, the wench, quite vexed and melancholy, called her maid,
and they rose, and dressed as hastily as they could, and would have paid
the host, but he said he would take nothing from her. And with that
she left without hearing Mass, or seeing St. Michael, or breakfasting
either; and without saying a single word, returned home. But you must
know that her husband was there already, and asked her what good news
there was at Mont St. Michel. She, feeling as annoyed as she could be,
hardly deigned to reply.

“And what sort of welcome,” asked her husband, “did mine host give you?
By God, he is a good fellow!”

“A good fellow!” she said. “Nothing very wonderful! I will not give him
more praise than is his due.”

“No, dame?” he replied. “By St. John, I should have thought that for
love of me he would have given you a hearty welcome.”

“I care not about his welcome,” she said. “I do not go on a pilgrimage
for the sake of his, or any one else’s welcome. I only think of my
devotion.”

“Devotion, wife!” he answered. “By Our Lady, you had none! I know very
well why you are so vexed and sorrowful. You did not find what you
expected--that is the exact truth. Ha, ha, madam! I know the cause of
your pilgrimage. You wanted to make trial of the physical gifts of our
host of St. Michel, but, by St. John, I was on my guard, and always will
be if I can help it. And that you may not think that I lied when I told
you that he had such a big affair, by God, I said nothing but what is
true. But you wanted something more than hearsay evidence, and, if I had
not stopped you, you would in your ‘devotion’ have tried its power for
yourself. You see I know all, and to remove any doubts you may have
on the subject, I may tell you that I came last night at the appointed
hour, and took his place--so be content with what I was able to do, and
remain satisfied with what you have. This time I pardon you, but take
care that it never occurs again.”

The damsel, confused and astonished at being thus caught, as soon as she
could speak, begged his pardon, and promised never to do anything of the
sort again. And I believe that she never did.


*****



STORY THE SIXTY-SIXTH -- THE WOMAN AT THE BATH.

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of an inn-keeper at Saint Omer who put to his son a question for which
he was afterwards sorry when he heard the reply, at which his wife was
much ashamed, as you will hear, later._


Some time ago I was at Saint Omer with a number of noble companions,
some from the neighbourhood and Boulogne, and some from elsewhere, and
after a game of tennis, we went to sup at the inn of a tavern-keeper,
who is a well-to-do man and a good fellow, and who has a very pretty and
buxom wife, by whom he has a fine boy, of the age of six or seven years.

We were all seated at supper, the inn-keeper, his wife, and her son,
who stood near her, being with us, and some began to talk, others to
sing and make good cheer, and our host did his best to make himself
agreeable.

His wife had been that day to the warm baths, and her little son with
her. So our host thought, to make the company laugh, to ask his son
about the people who were at the baths with his mother, (*) and said;

“Come here, my son, and tell me truly which of all the women at the
baths had the finest and the biggest c----?”

     (*) The public baths were then much frequented, especially
     by the lower classes.   Men, women, and children all bathed
     together.

The child being questioned before his mother, whom he feared as children
usually do, looked at her, and did not speak.

The father, not expecting to find him so quiet, said again;

“Tell me, my son; who had the biggest c---- Speak boldly.”

“I don’t know, father,” replied the child, still glancing at his mother.

“By God, you lie,” said his father. “Tell me! I want to know.”

“I dare not,” said the boy, “my mother would beat me.”

“No, she will not,” said the father. “You need not mind. I will see she
does not hurt you.”

Our hostess, the boy’s mother, not thinking that her son would tell (as
he did) said to him.

“Answer boldly what your father asks you.”

“You will beat me,” he said.

“No, I will not,” she replied.

The father, now that the boy had permission to speak, again asked;

“Well, my son, on your word, did you look at the c----s of all the women
who were at the baths?”

“By St. John, yes, father.”

“Were there plenty of them? Speak, and don’t lie.”

“I never saw so many. It seemed a real warren of c----s.”

“Well then; tell us now who had the finest and the biggest?”

“Truly,” replied the boy, “mother had the finest and biggest--but _he_
had such a large nose.”

“Such a large nose?” said the father. “Go along, go along! you are a
good boy.”

We all began to laugh and to drink, and to talk about the boy who
chattered so well. But his mother did not know which way to look, she
was so ashamed, because her son had spoken about a nose, and I expect
that he was afterwards well beaten for having told tales out of school.
Our host was a good fellow, but he afterwards repented having put
a question the answer to which made him blush. That is all for the
present.


*****



STORY THE SIXTY-SEVENTH -- THE WOMAN WITH THREE HUSBANDS.

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of a “fur hat” of Paris, who wished to deceive a cobbler’s wife, but
over-reached, himself, for he married her to a barber, and thinking that
he was rid of her, would have wedded another, but she prevented him, as
you will hear more plainly hereafter._


About three years ago a noteworthy adventure happened to one of the
fur hats of the Parliament of Paris. (*) And that it should not be
forgotten, I relate this story, not that I hold all the “fur caps” to
be good and upright men; but because there was not a little, but a large
measure of duplicity about this particular one, which is a strange and
peculiar thing as every one knows.

     (*) The councillors of Parliament wore a cap of fur,
     bordered with ermine.

To come to my story, this fur hat,--that is to say this councillor of
Parliament,--fell in love with the wife of a cobbler of Paris,--a good,
and pretty woman, and ready-witted. The fur hat managed, by means of
money and other ways, to get an interview with the cobbler’s fair wife
on the quiet and alone, and if he had been enamoured of her before he
enjoyed her, he was still more so afterwards, which she perceived and
was on her guard, and resolved to stand off till she obtained her price.

His love for her was at such fever heat, that by commands, prayers,
promises, and gifts, he tried to make her come to him, but she would
not, in order to aggravate and increase his malady. He sent ambassadors
of all sorts to his mistress, but it was no good--she would rather die
than come.

Finally--to shorten the story--in order to make her come to him as she
used formerly to do, he promised her in the presence of three or four
witnesses, that he would take her to wife if her husband died.

As soon as she obtained this promise, she consented to visit him
at various times when she could get away, and he continued to be as
love-sick as ever. She, knowing her husband to be old, and having the
aforesaid promise, already looked upon herself as the Councillor’s wife.

But a short time afterwards, the much-desired death of the cobbler was
known and published, and his fair widow at once went with a bound to
the abode of the fur cap, who received her gladly, and again promised to
make her his wife.

These two good people--the fur cap, and his mistress, the cobbler’s
widow--were now together; But it often happens that what can be got
without trouble is not worth the trouble of getting, and so it was in
this case, for our fur cap soon began to weary of the cobbler’s widow,
and his love for her grew cold. She often pressed him to perform the
marriage he had promised, but he said;

“By my word, my dear, I can never marry, for I am a churchman, and hold
such and such benefices, as you know. The promise I formerly made you is
null and void, and was caused by the great love I bear you, to win you
to me the more easily.”

She, believing that he did belong to the Church, and seeing that she was
as much mistress of his house as though she had been his wedded wife,
went her accustomed way, and never troubled more about the marriage; but
at last was persuaded by the fine words of our fur cap to leave him, and
marry a barber, their neighbour, to whom the Councillor gave 300
gold crowns, and God knows that the woman also was well provided with
clothes.

Now you must know that our fur cap had a definite object in arranging
this marriage, which would never have come off if he had not told
his mistress that in future he intended to serve God, and live on his
benefices, and give up everything to the Church. But he did just the
contrary, as soon as he had got rid of her by marrying her to the
barber; for about a year later, he secretly treated for the hand of the
daughter of a rich and notable citizen of Paris.

The marriage was agreed to and arranged, and a day fixed for the
wedding. He also disposed of his benefices, which were only held by
simple tonsure.

These things were known throughout Paris, and came to the knowledge of
the cobbler’s widow, now the barber’s wife, and, as you may guess, she
was much surprised.

“Oh, the traitor,” she said; “has he deceived me like this? He deserted
me under pretence of serving God, and made me over to another man. But,
by Our Lady of Clery, the matter shall not rest here.”

Nor did it, for she cited our fur cap before the Bishop, and there her
advocate stated his case clearly and courteously, saying that the
fur cap had promised the cobbler’s wife, in the presence of several
witnesses, that if her husband died he would make her his wife. When
her husband died, the Councillor had kept her for about a year, and then
handed her over to a barber.

To shorten the story, the witnesses having been heard, and the case
debated, the Bishop annulled the marriage of the cobbler’s widow to the
barber, and enjoined and commanded the fur cap to take her as his wife,
for so she was by right, since he had carnal connection with her after
the aforesaid promise.

Thus was our fur cap brought to his senses. He missed marrying the
citizen’s fair daughter, and lost the 300 crowns, which the barber had
for keeping his wife for a year. And if the Councillor was ill-pleased
to have his old mistress again, the barber was glad enough to get rid of
her.

In the manner that you have heard, was one of the fur caps of the
Parliament of Paris once served.


*****


[Illustration: 68.jpg The Jade despoiled.]



STORY THE SIXTY-EIGHTH -- THE JADE DESPOILED.

By Messire Chrestien De Dygoigne.

_Of a married man who found his wife with another man, and devised
means to get from her her money, clothes, jewels, and all, down to
her chemise, and then sent her away in that condition, as shall be
afterwards recorded._


It is no new and strange thing for wives to make their husbands
jealous,--or indeed, by God, cuckolds. And so it happened formerly,
in the city of Antwerp, that a married woman, who was not the chastest
person in the world, was desired by a good fellow to do--you know what.
And she, being kind and courteous, did not like to refuse the request,
but gladly consented, and they two continued this life for a long time.

In the end, Fortune, tired of always giving them good luck, willed that
the husband should catch them in the act, much to his own surprise.
Perhaps though it would be hard to say which was the most surprised--the
lover, or his mistress, or the husband. Nevertheless, the lover, with
the aid of a good sword he had, made his escape without getting any
harm. There remained the husband and wife, and what they said to each
other may be guessed. After a few words on both sides, the husband,
thinking to himself that as she had commenced to sin it would be
difficult to break her of her bad habits, and that if she did sin
again it might come to the knowledge of other people, and he might be
dishonoured; and considering also that to beat or scold her would be
only lost labour, determined to see if he could not drive her out, and
never let her disgrace his house again. So he said to his wife;

“Well, I see that you are not such as you ought to be; nevertheless,
hoping that you will never again behave as you have behaved, let no more
be said. But let us talk of another matter. I have some business on
hand which concerns me greatly, and you also. We must put in it all our
jewels; and if you have any little hoard of money stored away, bring it
forth, for it is required.”

“By my oath,” said the wench, “I will do so willingly, if you will
pardon me the wrong I have done you.”

“Don’t speak about it,” he replied, “and no more will I.”

She, believing that she had absolution and remission of her sins, to
please her husband, and atone for the scandal she had caused, gave him
all the money she had, her gold rings, rich stuffs, certain well-stuffed
purses, a number of very fine kerchiefs, many whole furs of great
value--in short, all that she had, and that her husband could ask, she
gave to do him pleasure.

“The devil!” quoth he; “still I have not enough.”

When he had everything, down to the gown and petticoat she wore, he
said, “I must have that gown.”

“Indeed!” said she. “I have nothing else to wear. Do you want me to go
naked?”

“You must,” he said, “give it me, and the petticoat also, and be quick
about it, for either by good-will or force, I must have them.”

She, knowing that force was not on her side, stripped off her gown and
petticoat, and stood in her chemise.

“There!” she said; “Have I done what pleases you?”

“Not always,” he replied. “If you obey me now, God knows you do so
willingly--but let us leave that and talk of another matter. When I
married you, you brought scarcely anything with you, and the little that
you had you have dissipated or forfeited. There is no need for me to
speak of your conduct--you know better than anyone what you are, and
being what you are, I hereby renounce you, and say farewell to you for
ever! There is the door! go your way; and if you are wise, you will
never come into my presence again.”

The poor wench, more astounded than ever, did not dare to stay after
this terrible reproof, so she left, and went, I believe, to the house of
her lover, for the first night, and sent many ambassadors to try and get
back her apparel and belongings, but it was no avail. Her husband was
headstrong and obstinate, and would never hear her spoken about, and
still less take her back, although he was much pressed both by his own
friends and those of his wife.

She was obliged to earn other clothes, and instead of her husband live
with a friend until her husband’s wrath is appeased, but, up to the
present, he is still displeased with her, and will on no account see
her.


*****



STORY THE SIXTY-NINTH -- THE VIRTUOUS LADY WITH TWO HUSBANDS. [69]

By Monseigneur.

_Of a noble knight of Flanders, who was married to a beautiful and noble
lady. He was for many years a prisoner in Turkey, during which time his
good and loving wife was, by the importunities of her friends, induced
to marry another knight. Soon after she had remarried, she heard that
her husband had returned from Turkey, whereupon she allowed herself to
die of grief, because she had contracted a fresh marriage._


It is not only known to all those of the city of Ghent--where the
incident that I am about to relate happened not long ago--but to all
those of Flanders, and many others, that at the battle fought between
the King of Hungary and Duke Jehan (whom may God absolve) on one side,
and the Grand Turk and all his Turks on the other, (*) that many noble
knights and esquires--French, Flemish, German, and Picardians--were
taken prisoners, of whom some were put to death in the presence of the
said Great Turk, others were imprisoned for life, and others condemned
to slavery, amongst which last was a noble knight of the said country of
Flanders, named Clayz Utenhoven.

     (*) The battle of Nicopolis (28th September, 1396) when
     Sigismond, King of Hungary, and Jean-sans-Peur, son of the
     Duke of Burgundy, who had recruited a large army for the
     purpose of raising the siege of Constantinople, were met and
     overthrown by the Sultan, Bajazet I.

For many years he endured this slavery, which was no light task but an
intolerable martyrdom to him, considering the luxuries upon which he had
been nourished, and the condition in which he had lived.

Now you must know that he had formerly married at Ghent a beautiful and
virtuous lady, who loved him and held him dear with all her heart, and
who daily prayed to God that shortly she might see him again if he were
still alive; and that if he were dead, He would of His grace pardon his
sins, and include him in the number of those glorious martyrs, who to
repel the infidel, and that the holy Catholic faith might be exalted,
had given up their mortal lives.

This good lady, who was rich, beautiful, virtuous, and possessed of many
noble friends, was continually pressed and assailed by her friends to
remarry; they declaring and affirming that her husband was dead, and
that if he were alive he would have returned like the others; or if he
were a prisoner, she would have received notice to prepare his ransom.
But whatever reasons were adduced, this virtuous lady could not be
persuaded to marry again, but excused herself as well as she was able.

These excuses served her little or nothing, for her relatives and
friends so pressed her that she was obliged to obey. But God knows
that it was with no small regret, and after she had been for nine
years deprived of the presence of her good and loyal husband, whom she
believed to be long since dead, as did most or all who knew him; but
God, who guards and preserves his servants and champions, had otherwise
ordered it, for he still lived and performed his arduous labours as a
slave.

To return to our story. This virtuous lady was married to another
knight, and lived with him for half a year, without hearing anything
further about her first husband.

By the will of God, however, this good and true knight, Messire Clays,
who was still in Turkey, when his wife married again, and there working
as a slave, was, by means of some Christian gentlemen and merchants,
delivered, and returned in their galley.

As he was on his return, he met and found in passing through various
places, many of his acquaintance, who were overjoyed at his delivery,
for in truth he was a most valiant man, of great renown and many
virtues; and so the most joyful rumour of his much wished-for
deliverance spread into France, Artois, and Picardy, where his virtues
were not less known than they were in Flanders, of which country he was
a native. And from these countries it soon reached Flanders, and came
to the ears of his beauteous and virtuous lady and spouse, who was
astounded thereat, and her feelings so overcame her as to deprive her of
her senses.

“Ah,” she said, as soon as she could speak, “my heart was never willing
to do that which my relations and friends forced me to do. Alas! what
will my most loving lord and husband say? I have not kept faith with him
as I should, but--like a frail, frivolous, and weak-minded woman,--have
given to another part and portion of that of which he alone should
be lord and master! I cannot, and dare not await his coming. I am
not worthy that he should look at me, or that I should be seen in his
company,” and with these words her most chaste, virtuous, and loving
heart failed her, and she fell fainting.

She was carried and laid upon a bed, and her senses returned to her, but
from that time it was not in the power of man or woman to make her eat
or sleep, and thus she continued three days, weeping continually, and
in the greatest grief of mind that ever woman was. During which time she
confessed and did all that a good Christian should, and implored pardon
of all, and most especially of her husband.

Soon afterwards she died, which was a great misfortune; and it need not
be told what grief fell upon the said lord, her husband, when he heard
the news. His sorrow was such that he was in great danger of dying as
his most loving wife had done; but God, who had saved him from many
other great perils, preserved him also from this.


*****



STORY THE SEVENTIETH -- THE DEVIL’S HORN.

By Monseigneur.

_Of a noble knight of Germany, a great traveller in his time; who after
he had made a certain voyage, took a vow to never make the sign of
the Cross, owing to the firm faith and belief that he had in the holy
sacrament of baptism--in which faith he fought the devil, as you will
hear._


A noble knight of Germany, a great traveller, distinguished in arms,
courteous, and largely endowed with all good virtues, had just returned
from a long journey, and was in his castle, when he was asked by one of
his vassals living in the same town, to be godfather to his child, which
had been born on the same day that the knight returned.

To which request the knight willingly acceded, and although he had
during his life held many children at the font, he had never before
listened to the holy words pronounced by the priest at this holy and
excellent sacrament as he did this time, and they seemed to him--as
indeed they are-full of high and divine mystery.

The baptism being finished, he being liberal and courteous and willing
to oblige his vassals, remained to dine in the town, instead of
returning to his castle, and with him dined the curé, his fellow
sponsor, and other persons of renown.

The discourse turned on various matters, when the knight began to
greatly praise the excellent sacrament of baptism, and said in a loud
and clear voice that all might hear;

“If I knew for a truth that at my baptism had been pronounced the great
and holy words which I heard to-day at the baptism of my latest god-son,
I would not believe that the devil could have any power or authority
over me, except to tempt me, and I would refrain from ever making the
sign of the Cross, not that--let it be well understood--I do not well
know that sign is sufficient to repel the devil, but because I believe
that the words pronounced at the baptism of every Christian (if they are
such as I have to-day heard) are capable of driving away all the devils
of hell, however many they might be.”

“Truly then, monseigneur,” replied the curé, “I assure you _in verbo
sacerdotis_ that the same words which were said to-day at the baptism
of your god-son were pronounced at your baptism. I know it well, for
I myself baptised you, and I remember it as well as though it were
yesterday. God be merciful to monseigneur your father--he asked me the
day after your baptism, what I thought of his son; such and such were
your sponsors, and such and such were present,” and he related all
particulars about the baptism, and showed that it was certain that in
not a word did it differ from that of his god-son.

“Since it is thus,” then said the noble knight, “I vow to God, my
creator, that I have such firm faith in the holy sacrament of baptism
that never again, for any danger, encounter, or assault that the devil
may make against me, will I make the sign of the Cross, but solely by
the memory of the sacrament of baptism I will drive him behind me;
such a firm belief have I in this divine mystery, that it does not seem
possible to me that the devil can hurt a man so shielded, for that rite
needs no other aid if accompanied by true faith.”

The dinner passed, and I know not how many years after, the good knight
was in a large town in Germany, about some business which drew him
thither, and was lodged in an inn. As he was one night along with his
servants, after supper, talking and jesting with them, he wished to
retire, but as his servants were enjoying themselves he would not
disturb them, so he took a candle and went alone. As he entered the
closet he saw before him a most horrible and terrible monster, having
large and long horns, eyes brighter than the flames of a furnace, arms
thick and long, sharp and cutting claws,--in fact a most extraordinary
monster, and a devil, I should imagine.

And for such the good knight took it, and was at first greatly startled
at such a meeting. Nevertheless, he boldly determined to defend himself
if he were attacked, and he remembered the vow he had made concerning
the holy and divine mystery of baptism. And in this faith he walked up
to the monster, whom I have called a devil, and asked him who he was and
what he wanted?

The devil, without a word, attacked him, and the good knight defended
himself, though he had no other weapons than his hands (for he was in
his doublet, being about to go to bed) and the protection of his firm
faith in the holy mystery of baptism.

The struggle lasted long, and the good knight was so weary that it was
strange he could longer endure such an assault. But he was so well-armed
by his faith that the blows of his enemy had but little effect. At last,
when the combat had lasted a full hour, the good knight took the devil
by the horns, and tore one of them out, and beat him therewith soundly.

Then he went away victorious, leaving the devil writhing on the ground,
and went back to his servants, who were still enjoying themselves, as
they had been doing when he left. They were much frightened to see their
master sweating and out of breath, and with his face all scratched, and
his doublet, shirt, and hose disarranged and torn.

“Ah, sir,” they cried; “whence come you, and who has thus mauled you?”

“Who?” he replied. “Why it was the devil, with whom I have fought so
long that I am out of breath, and in the condition in which you see
me; and I swear to you that I truly believe he would have strangled and
devoured me, if I had not at that moment remembered my baptism, and the
great mystery of that holy sacrament, and the vow that I made I know not
how many years ago. And, believe me, I have kept that vow, and though I
was in danger, I never made the sign of the Cross, but remembering the
aforesaid holy sacrament, boldly defended myself, and have escaped scot
free; for which I praise and thank our Lord who with the shield of faith
hath preserved me safely. Let all the other devils in hell come; as long
as this protection endures, I fear them not. Praise be to our blessed
God who is able to endue his knights with such weapons.”

The servants of the good knight, when they heard their master relate
this story, were very glad to find he had escaped so well, and much
astonished at the horn he showed them, and which he had torn out of the
devil’s head. And they could not discover, neither could any person who
afterwards saw it, of what it was formed; if it were bone or horn, as
other horns are, or, what it was.

Then one of the knight’s servants said that he would go and see if this
devil were still where his master had left it, and if he found it he
would fight it, and tear out its other horn. His master told him not to
go, but he said he would.

“Do not do it,” said his master; “the danger is too great.”

“I care not,” replied the other; “I will go.”

“If you take my advice,” said his master, “you will not go.”

But he would disobey his master and go. He took in one hand a torch, and
in the other a great axe, and went to the place where his master had met
and fought the devil. What happened no one knows, but his master, who,
fearing for his servant, followed him as quickly as he could, found
neither man nor devil, nor ever heard what became of the man.

Thus, in the manner that you have heard, did this good knight fight
against the devil, and overcome him by the virtue of the holy sacrament
of baptism.


*****


[Illustration: 71.jpg The considerate Cuckold]



STORY THE SEVENTY-FIRST -- THE CONSIDERATE CUCKOLD

By Monseigneur Le Duc.

_Of a knight of Picardy, who lodged at an inn in the town of St. Omer,
and fell in love with the hostess, with whom he was amusing himself--you
know how--when her husband discovered them; and how he behaved--as you
will shortly hear._


At Saint Omer, not long ago, there happened an amusing incident, which
is as true as the Gospel, and is known to many notable people worthy of
faith and belief. In short, the story is as follows.

A noble knight of Picardy, who was lively and lusty, and a man of great
authority and high position, came to an inn where the quartermaster of
Duke Philip of Burgundy had appointed him to lodge. (*)

     (*) The _fourrier_--which, for want of a better word, I have
     translated as “quartermaster,”--was an officer of the
     household of a prince or great lord. One of his duties was
     to provide lodgings for all the retinue whenever his master
     was travelling.

As soon as he had jumped off his horse, and put foot to the ground,
his hostess--as is the custom in that part of the country--came forward
smiling most affably, and received him most honourably, and, as he
was the most kind and courteous of men, he embraced her and kissed
her gently, for she was pretty and nice, healthy-looking and nattily
dressed--in fact very tempting to kiss and cuddle--and at first sight
each took a strong liking to the other.

The knight wondered by what means he could manage to enjoy the person
of his hostess, and confided in one of his servants, who in a very short
time so managed the affair that the two were brought together.

When the noble knight saw his hostess ready to listen to whatever he
had to say, you may fancy that he was joyful beyond measure; and in his
great haste and ardent desire to discuss the question he wanted to argue
with her, forgot to shut the door of the room, which his servant, when
he departed after bringing the woman in, had left half open.

The knight, without troubling about preludes, began an oration in
dumb-show; and the hostess, who was not sorry to hear him, replied to
his arguments in such a manner that they soon agreed well together, and
never was music sweeter, or instruments in better tune, than it was for
those two, by God’s mercy.

But it happened, by I know not what chance, that the host of the inn,
the husband of the woman, was seeking his wife to tell her something,
and passing by chance by the chamber where his wife and the knight were
playing the cymbals, heard the sound. He turned towards the spot where
this pleasant pastime was going on, and pushing open the door, saw the
knight and his wife harnessed together, at which he was by far the most
astonished of the three, and drew back quickly, fearing to prevent and
disturb the said work which they were performing. But all that he did
by way of menace or remonstrance was to call out from behind the door;
“Morbleu! you are not only wicked but thoughtless. Have you not the
sense, when you want to do anything of that sort, to shut the door
behind you? Just fancy what it would have been if anyone else had
found you! By God, you would have been ruined and dishonoured, and your
misdeeds discovered and known to all the town! In the devil’s name, be
more careful another time!” and without another word, he closed the
door and went away; and the honest couple re-tuned their bagpipes, and
finished the tune they had begun.

And when this was finished, each went his or her own way as
unconcernedly as though nothing had happened; and the circumstance would
I believe have never been known--or at least not so publicly as to come
to your ears, and the ears of so many other people,--had it not been
that the husband vexed himself so little about the matter that he
thought less of being cuckolded than he did of finding the door
unbolted.


*****



STORY THE SEVENTY-SECOND -- NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION.

By Monseigneur De Commensuram.

_Of a gentleman of Picardy who was enamoured of the wife of a knight his
neighbour; and how he obtained the lady’s favours and was nearly caught
with her, and with great difficulty made his escape, as you will hear
later._


Apropos of the previous story, there lived formerly in Picardy--and I
believe he is living there now--a gentlemen who was so enamoured of the
wife of a knight, his neighbour, that he deemed no day or hour happy if
he were not with her, or at least had news of her;--and he was quite as
dear to her--which is no small matter.

But the misfortune was that they could find no means of meeting secretly
to open their hearts to each other, and in no case would they do so in
the presence of a third person, however good a friend he or she might
be. At last, after many sad nights and days, Love, who aids and succours
his loyal servants when he pleases, procured for them the much-desired
day, when the poor husband,--the most jealous man living--was obliged to
leave his house on account of some pressing business by which he would
gain a large sum if he were present, and would lose his money if he were
absent. By gaining which sum he reaped an even better reward--that of
being called a cuckold as well as a jealous man--for he had no sooner
left his house than the gentleman, who was watching for no other quarry,
popped into the house, and without staying long, at once performed that
for which he came, and received from his lady all that a lover can and
dare demand; as pleasantly and as leisurely as they could both wish.

And they did not suppose that the husband would surprise them, but
looked forward to a time of unalloyed pleasure, hoping that the night
would complete that which the most joyful day--by far too short--had
begun, and really believing that the poor devil of a husband could not
return before dinner-time the following day at the earliest.

But it happened otherwise, for the devil brought him home. I know not,
and care not to know how it was that he could get through his business
so quickly, suffice it to say that he came back that night, at which the
company--that is to say the two lovers--was much alarmed, and so taken
by surprise, (for they did not expect this inopportune return) that the
poor gentleman could think of nothing else to do than to hide in the
privy which was close to the chamber, hoping to escape by some means
that his mistress would find before the knight came into the chamber.

It chanced that our knight, who that day had ridden sixteen or eighteen
long leagues, was so tired and stiff that he would sup in his chamber,
where he had his boots taken off, and would not go to the dining-hall.

You may guess that the poor gentleman paid dear for the pleasure he had
had that day, for he was half dead with hunger, cold, and fear; and, to
aggravate his misfortune, he was taken with such a horrible cough
that it was wonderful that it was not heard in the chamber, where were
assembled, the knight, the lady, and the other knights of the household.

The lady, whose eyes and ears were open for any sign of her lover, heard
him by chance, and her heart sank within her, for she feared that her
husband would hear also. Soon after supper she found an opportunity to
go to the privy, and told her lover to take care, for God’s sake, and
not cough like that.

“Alas, my dear,” he said, “I cannot help it. God knows how I am
punished. And for God’s sake think of some way of getting me out of
this.”

“I will,” she said, and with that she went away, and the good squire
began his song over again, so loud indeed that he was much afraid he
would be heard in the chamber; and might have been had not the lady
talked very loudly in order to drown the noise.

When the squire had this fresh attack of coughing, he knew of nothing
better to do to prevent being heard than to stuff his head down the
hole of the privy, where he was well “incensed”, God knows, by the stuff
therein, but he preferred that to being heard. In short, he was there a
long time, with his head down the hole, spitting, sniffing, and coughing
so much that it seemed as though he would never do anything else.

After this fit finished, the cough left him, and then he tried to draw
out his head, but it was not in his power, so far had he pushed his
shoulders through, and you may fancy that he was not very comfortable.
In short he could not find means to get out, try as he would. He scraped
his neck, and nearly pulled his ears off, and in the end, by God’s will,
he pulled so hard that he tore away the seat of the privy, which
hung round his neck. It was beyond his power to get out of it, but
troublesome as it was, he preferred that to his previous position:

His mistress came and found him in that state, and was much astonished.
She could not help him, and all the consolation she could give him
was to tell him that she could find no means of getting him out of the
house.


[Illustration: 72.jpg Necessity is the Mother of Invention.]


“Is that so?” he said. “Morbleu! I am well armed to fight any one, but I
must have a sword in my hand.”

He was soon provided with a good one, and the lady, seeing his
extraordinary appearance, although her heart was lull of doubt and
uncertainty, could not refrain from laughing, and the squire also.

“Now I commend myself to God,” he said. “I am going to try if I can get
out of the house; but first black my face well.”

She did so, and recommended him to God, and the poor fellow, with the
seat of the privy round his neck, a drawn sword in his hand, and his
face blacker than charcoal, sallied out into the room, and by luck the
first person he met was the husband, who was in such mortal fear at the
sight of him--believing it was the Devil himself--that he tumbled full
length on the floor and nearly broke his neck, and was for a long time
in a swoon.

His wife, seeing him in this condition, came forward, and pretending to
show much more fear than she really felt, supported him in her arms, and
asked him what was the matter. As soon as he came to himself, he said in
broken accents, and with a piteous air; “Did you see that devil I met.”

“Yes, I did,” she replied, “and I nearly died of fright at the sight.”

“Why does it come to our house?” he asked, “And who could have sent
it? I shall not recover myself for a year or two, I have been so
frightened.”

“Nor shall I, by God,” said the pious lady. “I believe it must mean
something. May God keep us, and protect us from all evil fortune. My
heart forebodes some mischief from this vision.”

Every one in the castle gave his or her version of the devil with a
drawn sword, and they all believed it was a real devil. The good lady,
who held the key of the mystery, was very glad to see them of that
opinion. Ever after that the said devil continued to do the work that
everyone does so willingly, though the husband, and everybody except a
discreet waiting woman, were ignorant of the fact.


*****


[Illustration: 73.jpg The Bird in the Cage.]



STORY THE SEVENTY-THIRD -- THE BIRD IN THE CAGE.

By Jehan Lambin.

_Of a curé who was in love with the wife of one of his parishioners,
with whom the said curé was found by the husband of the woman, the
neighbours having given him warning--and how the curé escaped, as you
will hear._


In the district of Saint Pol, in a village near that town, there
formerly resided a worthy man, a labourer, married to a fair and buxom
woman with whom the curé of the village was in love. He was burning with
love for her, but he foresaw that his intentions might be suspected,
and thought that the best way to win her would be to first gain the
friendship of her husband.

He confided this opinion to the woman, and asked her advice, and she
replied that it was a very good plan to enable them to carry out their
amorous intentions.

The curé, by flattery and subtle means, made the acquaintance of the
good man, and managed him so well that he was always talking of “his
curé”, and would not eat or do anything else without him. Every day he
would have him to dinner and supper, in short there was nothing done at
the good man’s house without the curé being present. By this means he
could come to the house as often as he pleased, and whatever time he
liked.

But the neighbours of this foolish labourer, seeing what he could not
see, his eyes being bandaged by weakness and confidence,--told him that
it was not right and proper to have the curé at his house every day,
and that, if it continued, his wife’s reputation would suffer, these
frequent visits having been noticed and spoken about by his neighbours
and friends.

When the good man found himself thus sharply reproved by his neighbours
for the frequent visits of the curé to his house, he was obliged to
tell the curé that he must cease his constant calls, and forbade him
by strict orders and menaces ever to come again until he was invited;
affirming by a great oath that if ever he found the curé in his house
there would be an account to settle between them, and it would not be
pleasant for the visitor.

This prohibition displeased the curé more than I can tell you, but
though vexed, he would not break off his love affair, for it was so
deeply rooted in the hearts of both parties that it could not be easily
eradicated. But hear how the curé managed after this prohibition. By an
agreement with his mistress, he used to be informed of the times when
her husband was absent, and then visit her. But he managed clumsily, for
he could not pay his visits without the knowledge of the neighbours, who
had been the cause of the interdict, and who were as much displeased at
the cure’s acts as though they had been personally concerned.

The good man was again informed that the curé used to come and put out
the fire at his house every night, (*) as he did before he was
forbidden. The foolish husband, hearing that, was much astonished and
also angry, and to remedy this state of affairs, thought of the means
which I will relate.

     (*) That is to say came at curfew time.

He told his wife that he was going, on a certain day which he named, to
take to St. Orner a waggon-load of corn, and that the work might be well
done, was going himself. When the day named for his departure arrived,
he did, as is usual in Picardy, especially round St. Omer, that is
loaded his waggon of corn at midnight, and at that hour took leave of
his wife and departed with his waggon.

As soon as he was gone, his wife closed all the doors of the house. Now
you must know that the St. Omer to which our merchant was going was the
house of one of his friends who lived at the other end of the
village. He arrived there, put his waggon in the courtyard of the said
friend--who knew all the business--and sent him to keep watch and listen
round the house to see if any thief might come.

When he arrived, he concealed himself at the corner of a thick hedge,
from which spot he could see all the doors of the house of the merchant,
of whom he was the friend and servant.

Hardly had he taken his place than there arrived the curé, who had come
to light his candle--or rather to put it out--and softly and secretly
knocked at the door, which was soon opened by one who was not inclined
to sleep at that time, who came down in her chemise, and let in her
confessor, and then closed the door and led him to the place where her
husband ought to have been.

The watcher, when he perceived what was done, left his post, and went
and informed the husband. Upon which news, the following plan was
quickly arranged between them. The corn-merchant pretended to have
returned from his journey on account of certain adventures which had, or
might have, happened to him.

He knocked at the door, and shouted to his wife, who was much alarmed
when she heard his voice, and made haste to conceal her lover, the curé,
in a _casier_ that was in the chamber; and you must know that a _casier_
is a kind of pantry-cupboard, long and narrow and fairly deep, and very
much like a trough.

As soon as the curé was concealed amongst the eggs, butter cheese, and
other such victuals, the brave housewife, pretending to be half awake
half asleep, let in her husband, and said.

“Oh, my dear husband, what can have happened that you have returned
so quickly? There must be some reason why you did not go on your
journey--for God’s sake tell it me quickly!”

The good man, who was as angry as he could be, although he did not show
it, insisted on going to their bedroom and there telling her the cause
of his sudden return. When he was where he expected to find the curé,
that is to say in the bedroom, he began to relate his reasons for
breaking his journey. Firstly, he said he had such suspicion of her
virtue that he feared much to be numbered amongst the blue vestments,
(*) or “our friends” as they are commonly called, and that it was
because of this suspicion that he had returned so quickly. Also that
when he was out of the house it had occurred to his mind that the curé
was his deputy whilst he was away. So to put his suspicions to the test,
he had come back, and now wanted the candle to see whether his wife had
been sleeping alone during his absence.

     (*) In the present day, yellow is the emblematic colour for
     jealous or cuckolded husbands, but it would appear from this
     passage that in the 15th century it was blue-possibly,
     Bibliophile Jacob thinks, from its being the colour of the
     _maquereau_.

When he had finished relating the causes of his return, the good woman
cried,

“Oh, my dear husband, whence comes this baseless jealousy? Have you ever
seen in my conduct anything that should not be seen in that of a good,
faithful, and virtuous wife? Cursed be the hour I first knew you, since
you suspect me of that which my heart could never imagine. You know
me badly if you do not know how clean and pure my heart is, and will
remain.”

The good man paid little heed to these words, but said that he wished to
allay his suspicions, and to at once inspect every corner of the chamber
as well as possible,--but he did not find what he sought.

Then he caught sight of the _casier_, and he guessed that the man he
wanted was inside, but he made no sign, and calling his wife said;

“My dear, I was wrong to presume that you were untrue to me, and such
as my false suspicions imagined. Nevertheless, I am so obstinate in my
opinions, that it would be impossible for me to live comfortably with
you henceforth. And therefore I hope you will agree that a separation
should be made between us, and that we divide our goods equally in a
friendly manner.”

The wench, who was pleased with this arrangement, in order that she
might more easily see her curé, agreed with scarcely any difficulty to
her husband’s request, but she made it a condition that in the division
of the furniture she should have first choice.

“And why,” said the husband, “should you have first choice? It is
against all right and justice.”

They were a long time squabbling about first choice, but in the end
the husband won, and took the _casier_ in which there was nothing but
custards, tarts, cheeses, and other light provisions, amongst which was
the good curé buried, and he heard all the discussion that went on.

When the husband chose the _casier_, his wife chose the copper; then the
husband chose another article then she chose; and so on until all the
articles were apportioned out.

After the division was made, the husband said;

“I will allow you to live in my house until you have found another
lodging, but I am going now to take my share of the furniture, and put
it in the house of one of my neighbours.”

“Do so,” she said, “when you like.”

He took a good cord and tightly tied up the _casier_; then sent for his
waggoner and told him to put the _casier_ on a horse’s back and take it
to the house of a certain neighbour.

The good woman heard these orders, but did not dare to interfere, for
she feared that if she did it would not advance matters, but perhaps
cause the _casier_ to be opened, so she trusted to luck.

The _casier_ was placed on the horse, and taken through the streets to
the house the good man had mentioned. But they had not gone far before
the curé, who was choked and blinded with eggs and butter, cried,

“For God’s sake! mercy!”

The waggoner hearing this piteous appeal come out of the _casier_,
jumped off the horse much frightened, and called the servants and his
master, and they opened the _casier_, and found the poor prisoner all
smeared and be-yellowed with eggs, cheese, milk, and more than a hundred
other things, indeed it would have been hard to say which there was most
of,--in such a pitiable condition was the poor lover.

When the husband saw him in that state, he could not help laughing,
although he felt angry; He let him go, and then went back to his wife to
tell her that he had not been wrong in suspecting her of unchastity. She
seeing herself fairly caught, begged for mercy, and was pardoned on this
condition, that if ever the case occurred again, she should be better
advised than to put her lover in the _casier_, for the curé had stood a
good chance of being killed.

After that they lived together for a long time, and the husband brought
back his _casier_, but I do not think that the curé was ever found in
it again, but ever after that adventure he was known, and still is, as
“Sire Vadin Casier”.


*****



STORY THE SEVENTY-FOURTH -- THE OBSEQUIOUS PRIEST.

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of a priest of Boulogne who twice raised the body of Our Lord whilst
chanting a Mass, because he believed that the Seneschal of Boulogne
had come late to the Mass, and how he refused to take the Pax until the
Seneschal had done so, as you will hear hereafter._


Once when the Seneschal of the County of Boulogne was travelling through
the district visiting each town, he passed through a hamlet where the
bell was ringing for Mass, and as he expected that he should not reach
the town to which he was going in time to hear Mass, for the hour was
then nearly noon, he thought that he would dismount at this hamlet to
see God in passing.

He left his horse at the door of the church, and took a seat near the
altar, where high Mass was being celebrated, and placed himself so
near the priest, that the latter could see his profile whilst he was
celebrating the Mass.

When he raised the cup, and other things that he should, he thought to
himself that he had noticed the Seneschal behind him, and not knowing
whether he had come early enough to see the elevation, but believing
that he had come too late, the priest called his clerk, and made him
light the candles, and, performing all the ceremonies that he should,
he again raised the Host, saying that that was for Monseigneur le
Seneschal.

And after that he proceeded until he came to the _Agnus Dei_ which,
when he had said three times, and his clerk gave him the Pax to kiss, he
refused, approaching his clerk and saying that he should first present
it to the Seneschal, who refused it two or three times.

When the priest saw that the Seneschal would not take the Pax before
him, he put down the Host which he had in his hands, and took the Pax,
which he carried to my lord the Seneschal, and told him that if my lord
did not take it first, he would not take it himself.

“For it is not right,” said the priest, “that I should take the Pax
before you.”

Then the Seneschal, seeing that wisdom was not to be found in that
place, gave in to the curé and took the Pax first, and the curé followed
him; and that being done he returned to perform the rest of the Mass.

And this is all that was related to me.


*****



STORY THE SEVENTY-FIFTH -- THE BAGPIPE. [75]

By Monseigneur De Thalemas.

_Of a hare-brained half-mad fellow who ran a great risk of being put
to death by being hanged on a gibbet in order to injure and annoy the
Bailly, justices, and other notables of the city of Troyes in Champagne
by whom he was mortally hated, as will appear more plainly hereafter._


In the time of the war between the Burgundians; and the Armagnacs, (*)
there happened at Troyes in Champagne, a rather curious incident which
is well worth being recorded, and which was as follows. The people of
Troyes, though they had been Burgundians, had joined the Armagnacs, and
amongst them there had formerly lived a fellow who was half mad, for he
had not entirely lost his senses, though his words and actions showed
more folly than good sense--nevertheless he would sometimes say and do
things which a wiser than he could not have bettered.

     (*) The reign of Charles VI, after the assassination of the
     Duc d’Orléans by Jean-sans-Peur, was marked by along civil
     war between the factions here named, and who each in turn
     called in the aid of the English.

To begin the story, however; this fellow who was in garrison with the
Burgundians at Sainte Menehould, one day told his companions that if
they would listen to him, he would teach them how to catch a batch of
the yokels of Troyes, whom, in truth, he hated mortally, and they hardly
loved him, for they had always threatened to hang him if they caught
him. This is what he said:

“I will go to Troyes and will approach the fortifications, and will
pretend to be spying round the town, and will measure the moat with my
lance, and will get so near the town that I shall be taken prisoner.
I am sure that as soon as the good _bailli_ gets hold of me, he will
condemn me to be hanged, and there is no one in the town who will take
my part for they all hate me. So, early the next morning, I shall be
taken out to the gibbet, (*) and you will all be hidden in the thicket
which is near the gibbet. And as soon as you see me arrive with the
procession, you will spring out upon them, and take whom you like, and
deliver me out of their hands.” All his companions in garrison with
him agreed to this willingly, and told him that if he would dare this
adventure, they would assist him to the best of their power.

     (*) The gibbet was usually outside the town, often at some
     considerable distance from the walls.

To shorten the story, the simpleton went to Troyes as he had said, and,
as he desired, he was taken prisoner. The report soon spread through the
town, and there was no one who did not say he ought to be hanged; even
the Bailli, as soon as he saw him, swore by all his gods that he should
be hanged by the neck.

“Alas! monseigneur,” said the poor fool, “I pray for mercy. I have done
nothing wrong.”

“You lie, scoundrel,” said the Bailly. “You have guided the Burgundians
into this district, and you have accused the citizens and merchants
of this city. You shall have your reward, for you shall be hanged on a
gibbet.”

“For God’s sake then, monseigneur,” said the poor fellow; “since I must
die, at least let it please you that it be in the early morning; so
that, as I have many acquaintances in the town, I may not be held up to
public opprobrium.”

“Very well,” said the Bailly, “I will think about it.”

The next morning at day-break, the hangman with his cart came to the
prison, and hardly had he arrived than there came the Bailly with his
sergeants, and a great crowd of people to accompany them, and the poor
fellow was laid, bound, on the cart, and still holding the bagpipe he
was accustomed to play. Thus he was led to the gibbet, accompanied by
a larger crowd than most have at their hanging, so much was he hated in
the town.

Now you must know that his comrades of the garrison of Sainte Menehould
had not forgotten their ambuscade, and ever since midnight had been
collected near the gibbet, to save their friend, although he was not
overwise, and also to capture prisoners and whatever else they could.
When they arrived they took up their position, and put a sentinel in a
tree to watch when the Troyes folk should be gathered round the gibbet.
The sentinel was placed in his position, and promised that he would keep
a good watch.

Then all the crowd came to the gibbet, and the Bailli gave order to
despatch the poor fool, who for his part wondered where his comrades
were, and why they did not rush out on these rascally Armagnacs.

He did not feel at all comfortable, and he looked all round, but chiefly
towards the wood, but he heard nothing. He made his confession last as
long as he could, but at last the priest went away, and the poor fellow
had to mount the ladder, and from this elevated position, God knows
that he looked often towards the wood; but it was of no avail, for the
sentinel, who was to give the signal when the men were to rush out, had
gone to sleep in the tree.

The poor fellow did not know what to say or do, and verily believed that
his last hour had come. The hangman began to make preparations to put
the noose round the victim’s neck, who, when he saw that, bethought him
of a trick, which turned out well for him, and said;

“Monseigneur le Bailli, I beg you for God’s sake, that before the
hangman lays hands on me, I may be allowed to play a tune on my bagpipe.
That is all I ask; after that I shall be ready to die, and I pardon you
and all the others for having caused my death.”

His request was granted, and the bagpipe was handed up to him. As soon
as he had it, he began, as leisurely as he could, to play an air which
all his comrades knew very well, and which was called. “You stay too
long, Robin; you stay too long.”

At the sound of the bagpipe the sentinel woke, and was so startled that
he tumbled out of the tree to the ground, and cried,

“They are hanging our comrade! Forward! Forward! make haste!”

His comrades were ready, and at the sound of the trumpet they sallied
out of the wood, and rushed upon the Bailly and all the others who were
round the gibbet.

The hangman was too frightened to put the rope round the man’s neck and
push him off the ladder, but begged for his own life, which the other
would willingly have granted but it was not in his power. The victim,
however, did something better, for from his place on the ladder he
called out to his comrades, “Capture that man, he is rich; and that one,
he is dangerous.”

In short, the Burgundians killed a great number of those who had come
out of Troyes, and captured many others, and saved their man, as you
have heard, but he said that never in all his life had he had such a
narrow escape as on that occasion.


*****


[Illustration: 76.jpg Caught in the Act.]



STORY THE SEVENTY-SIXTH -- CAUGHT IN THE ACT. [76]

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of the chaplain to a knight of Burgundy who was enamoured of the wench
of the said knight, and of the adventure which happened on account of
his amour, as you will hear below._


I have often heard related, by people worthy of credit, a curious
history, which will furnish me a tale without my adding or suppressing
one word that is not needed.

Amongst the knights of Burgundy was formerly one, who, contrary to the
custom of the country, kept in his castle--which I will not name--a fair
wench to serve as his mistress.

His chaplain, who was young and frisky, seeing this nice wench, was not
so virtuous but that he felt tempted, and fell in love with her, and
when he saw his opportunity, told her of his love. The damsel, who was
as sharp as mustard, for she had knocked about so much that no one in
the world knew more than she did, thought to herself that if she granted
the priest’s request her master would hear of it, however much she tried
to conceal it, and thus she would lose the greater for the less.

So she determined to relate the affair to her master, who when he heard
of it did nothing but laugh, for he had partly suspected it, having
noticed the looks, conversation and little love-tricks that passed
between the two. Nevertheless, he ordered the wench to lead the priest
on, without, however, granting him her favours; and she did it so well
that the priest fell into the trap. The knight used often to say him;

“By God, sir, you are too friendly with my chamber-wench. I do not know
what there is between you two, but if it is anything to my prejudice, by
Our Lady, I will punish the two of you.”

“In truth, monseigneur,” replied the Dominie. “I do not pretend to
expect anything from her. I talk to her to pass the time, as everyone
else in the house does, but never in my life would I seek her love, or
anything of the kind.”

“Very well,” said the lord, “if it were otherwise I should not be best
pleased.”

If the Dominie had importuned her before, he now pursued her more than
ever, and wherever he met the wench he pressed her so closely that she
was obliged, whether she would or not, to listen to his requests,
and, being cunning and deceitful, she so played with the priest and
encouraged his love, that for her sake he would have fought Ogier the
Dane himself.

As soon as she had left him, the whole conversation that had passed
between them was related to her master.

To make the farce more amusing, and to deceive his chaplain, he ordered
the girl to appoint a night for him to be in the _ruelle_ of the bed
where they slept. She was to say to him. “As soon as monseigneur is
asleep, I will do what you want; come quietly into the _ruelle_ of the
bed.”

“And you must,” he said, “let him do what he likes, and so will I; and
I am sure that when he believes I am asleep, that he will soon have his
arms round you, and I will have ready, near your ----, a noose in which
he will be nicely caught.”

The wench was very joyful and satisfied with this arrangement, and
gave the message to the Dominie, who never in his life had been more
delighted, and, without thinking of or imagining peril or danger,
entered his master’s chamber, where the wench and his master slept. He
cast all sense and decency to the winds, and only thought of satisfying
his foolish lust,--albeit it was quite natural.

To cut the story short, Master Priest came at the hour appointed, and
crept quietly enough, God knows, into the _ruelle_ of the bed, and his
mistress whispered to him;

“Don’t say a word: when monsieur is fast asleep I will touch you, and
then come to me.”

“Very good,” he replied.

The good knight, who was not asleep, had a great inclination to laugh,
but checked himself, in order not to spoil the joke. As he had proposed
and arranged, he spread his noose where he wished, that is to say round
the spot where the priest wanted to get.

All being ready, the Dominie was called, and as gently as he could,
slipped into the bed, and without more ado, mounted on the heap in order
to see the further. (*)

     (*) A proverbial expression founded perhaps on some old
     story which may be alluded to also in the 12th and 82nd
     stories.

As soon as he was lodged there, the good knight drew the cord tightly,
and said aloud,

“Ha! scoundrelly priest, is that the sort of man you are?” The priest
tried to run away, but he could not go far, for the instrument he had
tried to tune to the girl’s fiddle was caught in the noose, at which
he was much frightened, and did not know what had happened to him. His
master pulled the cord more tightly, which would have given him great
pain if his fear and alarm had not conquered all other sentiments.

In a few moments he came to himself, and felt the pain and cried
piteously for mercy to his master, who had such a strong desire to laugh
that he could scarcely speak. He pulled the priest into the room and
said;

“Get out, and never come here again! I pardon you in this occasion, but
the second time I shall be inexorable.”

“Oh, monsieur,” he replied, “I will never do it again. It is all her
fault,” and with that he ran away and the knight went to bed again, and
finished what the other had begun.

But you must know that never again was the priest found trespassing on
his master’s preserves. Perhaps, as a recompense for his misfortunes the
girl afterwards took pity on him, and to ease her conscience lent him
her fiddle, and he tuned it so well that the master suffered both in
goods and honour. But now I will say no more, and end my story.


*****



STORY THE SEVENTY-SEVENTH -- THE SLEEVELESS ROBE.

By Alardin.

_Of a gentleman of Flanders, who went to reside in France, but whilst he
was there his mother was very ill in Flanders; and how he often went
to visit her believing that she would die, and what he said and how he
behaved, as you will hear later._


A gentleman of Flanders had a mother who was very old and much weakened
by disease, and more sick and infirm than any woman of her age. Hoping
that she would get better, and be cured, he often came to see her,
although he resided in France, and each time that he came he found her
suffering so much that he thought her soul was about to leave her body.

On one occasion that he came to see her, she said to him at his
departure.

“Adieu, my son; I am sure that you will never see me again for I am
about to die.”

“Devil take it, mother, you have said that so often that I am sick of
it. For three years past you have been repeating that, but you have done
nothing of the kind. Choose a day, I beg, and keep to it.”

The good woman, when she heard her son’s reply, smiled, though she was
so sick and old, and said farewell.

One year, then two years, passed, and still she lingered on. She was
again visited by her son, and one night when he was in bed in her house,
and she was so ill that all believed she was about to go to Mortaigne,
(*) those who watched her called her son, and told him to come to his
mother quickly, for that certainly she was about to die.

     (*) Mild puns on the names of places were very common in the
     Middle Ages.

“Do you say that she is about to die?” he replied. “By my soul, I will
not believe it; she always says that, but she never does it.”

“No, no,” said the nurses; “this time it is certain. Come quickly for it
is sure that she is dying.”

“Very well, you go first and I will follow you; and tell my mother that
if she must go, not to go by Douai, for the road is so bad that I and my
horses were nearly swallowed up yesterday.”

Nevertheless he rose, and put on his dressing-gown, and went off to see
his mother give her last grin. When he came he found her very ill, for
she had been in a swoon which all thought would carry her off, but,
thank God, she was now a little better.

“Did I not tell you so?” said this good son. “Every body in this house
declares, and she does herself, that she is dying--but nothing comes of
it. For God’s sake choose a day--as I have often told you--and see that
you keep to it! I am going to return whence I came, and I recommend you
not to call me again. If she does die she must die alone, for I will not
keep her company.”

Now I must tell you the end of this history. The lady, ill as she was,
recovered from this extreme sickness, and lived and languished as before
for the space of three years, during which time her good son visited her
once, and that was just as she was about to give up the ghost. But when
they came to seek him to come to her deathbed, he was trying on a new
habit and would not come. Message after message was sent to him, for his
good mother, who was nearing her end, wished to recommend her soul to
her son’s care,--but to all the messages he replied;

“I am sure there is no hurry: she will wait till my habit is finished.”

At last so many remonstrances were made to him that he went to his
mother, wearing a doublet with no sleeves to it, which, when she saw,
she asked him where were the sleeves.

“They are within there,--waiting to be finished as soon as you clear out
of the place.”

“Then they will be soon finished,” she replied; “for I go to God, to
whom I humbly recommend my soul; and to you also, my son.”

Without another word she rendered her soul to God, with the Cross
between her arms; on seeing which her good son began to weep so loudly
that no one had ever heard the like; he could not be comforted, and at
the end of a fortnight he died of grief.


*****


[Illustration: 78.jpg The Husband turned Confessor.]



STORY THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH -- THE HUSBAND TURNED CONFESSOR. [78]

By Jehan Martin.

_Of a married gentleman who made many long voyages, during which time
his good and virtuous wife made the acquaintance of three good fellows,
as you will hear; and how she confessed her amours to her husband when
he returned from his travels, thinking she was confessing to the curé,
and how she excused herself, as will appear._


The province of Brabant is a fair and pleasant land, well provided with
pretty girls, who are generally clever and good; but as for the men, it
is said of them, with a good deal of truth, that the longer they live
the greater fools they become.

There was formerly a gentleman of this land who--being thereunto born
and destined--travelled much beyond seas to various places, as Cyprus,
Rhodes, and the adjacent parts, and at last came to Jerusalem, where he
received the order of knighthood.

During the time that he was away, his good wife was not idle, but took
her _quoniam_ with three lovers, who like courtiers, each had audience
in turn and for a certain time.

First came a gentle squire, fresh and frisky, and in good health, who
spent so much upon her, physically and pecuniarily (for in truth
she plucked him well) that at last he was sick of it, and left her
altogether.

The one who came after him was a knight, and a man of a great
reputation, who was very glad to have acquired the succession, and
worked her as well as he could, paying his _quibus_ (*), which no one
knew better than this lusty wench how to get out of a man. In short, if
the squire, who had previously held the position, had been plucked, the
knight was not less so, until at last he turned tail, took leave of her,
and left the place open to the next comer.

     (*) Property or wealth; the expression is still used in
     familiar conversation.

As a tit-bit to finish with, the damsel made the acquaintance of a rich
priest, and although he was cunning enough, and not over liberal with
money, he was despoiled of rich gowns, vessels, and other valuables.

Now it happened, thank God, that the husband of the wench let her know
that he was coming home; and how he had been made a knight at Jerusalem.
His good wife had the house cleaned and prepared as well as possible.
Everything was ready for his return, except the lady, and she was
somewhat disturbed on account of the vast quantity of booty--tapestry,
furniture, vessels, and other valuables--which she had gained upon her
back.

When her husband arrived, God knows what a joyful reception he had,
especially from the one who cared least about him, that is to say his
worthy wife.

I pass over all the welcomings, but her husband, although he was a fool,
could not help quickly noticing the heap of furniture, which was not
there at his departure. He went to the coffers, the buffets, and a
number of other places, and everywhere he found his store increased, and
the sight of all this booty filled his mind with evil thoughts, and in a
hot temper he called for his wife, and demanded to know whence had come
all these goods I have already-named.

“By St. John,” said the lady, “that is a nice question. You have good
reason to go on like this and get so warm. To look at you one would
think you were cross.”

“I am not in the best of tempers,” he replied; “for I did not leave
you so much money that you could have saved enough to buy all these
utensils, hangings, and the other things that I find here. I suspect,
with good reason, that our household has been increased by some friend
of yours during my absence.”

“By God!” replied the lady, “you are wrong to suspect me of such
misconduct. I would have you to know that I am not a woman of that kind,
but a better wife in every respect than you deserve; and it is not
right that after all the trouble I have taken to save and economise to
embellish and adorn your house and mine, that I should be reproved
and scolded. That is not at all the sort of reward that a good husband
should give to a chaste wife such as you have, you wicked wretch. It is
a great pity I have not been unfaithful to you, and I would be if I did
not value my honour and my soul.”

This quarrel, though it lasted a long while, ceased for a time, for the
husband thought of a plan how to find out the truth about his wife. He
arranged with the curé, who was a great friend of his, that he should
hear her confession, and this he did with the help of the curé, who
managed the whole affair, for one morning in Easter week, the curé made
the husband put on the priest’s robe, and then sent word to the lady to
come and confess.

It need not be asked if the husband was glad when he found himself thus
disguised. He went to the chapel, and entered the confessional without
saying a word; his wife approached and knelt at his feet, really
believing she was confessing to the curé, and said _Benedicite_. To this
her husband replied _Dominus_, as the curé had taught him, and whatever
else was necessary, as well as he could manage it.

After the good woman had made a general confession, she descended to
particulars, and told how, during the time that her husband had been
away, a squire had been his deputy, and from him she had acquired much
property, in gold, in silver, and in furniture.

God knows that the husband, when he heard this confession did not feel
very comfortable; he would willingly have killed her on the spot if he
had dared, nevertheless he was patient in order that he might hear the
rest.

When she had said all there was to say about the squire, she accused
herself of misconduct with the knight, who, like his predecessor, had
paid her well. The good husband, nearly bursting with grief, had a good
mind to discover himself and give her absolution without more ado, but
he did nothing of the kind, and waited to hear what more she would say.

After the knight came the turn of the priest, and at this the good
husband lost patience and would hear no more; he threw aside hood and
gown, and, showing himself said;

“False and perfidious woman! now I see and know your treason! And would
not a squire and a knight suffice you, but you must give yourself up
to a priest? This vexes me more than all the other sins you have
committed.”

For a moment this brave dame was taken aback, but soon recovered her
confidence, and with a face as calm as though she had been the most just
and virtuous woman in the world, saying her prayers to God, she replied
as calmly as though the Holy Spirit had inspired her,

“Poor fool! why do you thus worry yourself, you know not wherefore?
Listen to me, if you please; and be assured that I knew perfectly well
that I was confessing to you. I served you as you deserved, and without
one word of falsehood confessed to you the real circumstances. These are
the facts: you are the squire who slept with me, for when I married you,
you were a squire, and did with me as you wished; you are the knight
of whom I spoke, for on your return you made me a lady; and you are the
priest also, for no one who is not a priest can hear a confession.”

“By my oath, my dear,” he replied, “you have convinced me, and proved to
me that you are a virtuous woman and that I was wrong to accuse you. I
repent, and ask your pardon, and promise never to suspect you again.”

“I willingly pardon you,” said his wife, “since you confess your fault.”

Thus, as you have heard, was the good knight deceived by the ready wit
of his wife.


*****



STORY THE SEVENTY-NINTH -- THE LOST ASS FOUND. [79]

By Michault De Changy.

_Of a good man of Bourbonnais who went to seek the advice of a wise man
of that place about an ass that he had lost, and how he believed that he
miraculously recovered the said ass, as you will hear hereafter._


In the fair land of Bourbonnais, where many good professions are carried
on, there lived, not long ago, a doctor of God knows what sort, for
never Hippocrates or Galen practised the science as he did. For instead
of syrups, decoctions, electuaries, and the hundred thousand other
things that physicians order to preserve the health of man, or restore
it if it is lost, this good doctor of whom I am speaking had only one
method of procedure, and that was to order clysters. Whatever matter was
brought to him, (*) he always exhibited clysters, and generally so well
did this remedy turn out that everyone was satisfied with him, and he
cured them all, so that his fame spread abroad and increased in such
a manner that he was called “Master” Jehan (**) by all, both in the
houses of princes and lords, and in the great abbeys, and in the towns,
and never was Aristotle or Galen so honoured, especially by the common
people, as was our said Master. And his fame so increased that his
advice was asked on every subject, and he was so incessantly in demand
that he did not know what to do. If a woman had a bad, or whimsical, or
capricious husband, she went to this good master for a remedy. In short,
if any could give good advice it was thought that our physician was at
the top of the tree in that respect, and people came to him from all
parts to enquire about lost property.

     (*) It was usual to bring the urine of an invalid to the
     physician.

     (**) “Master” was then a title of honour.

It happened one day that a poor foolish countryman had lost his ass, and
after seeking for it a long time, he determined to go to the wise man,
who when he arrived was so surrounded by people that the countryman
could not make himself heard. At last he broke through the crowd, and,
in the presence of many persons, related his case, that is to say that
he had lost his ass, and asked the doctor to get it back for him.

The master, who was listening to others more than to him, just heard the
sound of the words, and thinking he had some infirmity, turned towards
him, and in order to get rid of him, said to his servants,

“Give him a clyster!”

The poor man who had lost his ass, did not know what the master had
said, but he was seized by the physician’s servants, who led him away
and gave him a clyster--at which he was much astonished, for he did not
know what it was.

When he had this clyster in his belly, he went away, without saying
anything more about his ass, which he fully believed he should recover.

He had not gone far when his belly was so tossed about that he was
forced to turn aside into a deserted hut, because of the clyster which
demanded to be let out. And when he began, he made such a terrible
noise, that his ass, which chanced to be straying near, began to bray,
and the good man rose up and cried, _Te Deum laudamus_, and went to his
ass, which he believed he had found by means of the clyster which he had
had from the Master, who after that had incomparably more renown than
ever; for he was looked-upon as the sure finder of all lost goods,
and the perfect master of all science, and all this fame sprang from a
single clyster.

Thus have you heard how the ass was found by means of a clyster; it is a
manifest fact, and one that often happens.


*****


[Illustration: 80.jpg Good Measure!]



STORY THE EIGHTIETH -- GOOD MEASURE! [80]

By Michault De Changy.

_Of a young German girl, aged fifteen or sixteen or thereabouts who was
married to a gentle gallant, and who complained that her husband had too
small an organ for her liking, because she had seen a young ass of only
six months old which had a bigger instrument than her husband, who was
24 or 26 years old._


I have heard it related as true by two noble lords worthy of faith and
belief, that in the borders of Germany there lived a young girl, who at
the age of about 15 or 16 years was married to a worthy gentleman, who
did his best to satisfy the demands which, without saying a word, all
girls of that age and condition earnestly ask for. But though the
poor man did his duty well, and indeed more often than he should, the
performance was never agreeable to his wife, who was always sulky,
and often wept as sadly as though all her friends were dead. Her good
husband, seeing her thus lament, could not imagine what she could want,
and asked her tenderly;

“What is the matter, my dear? Are you not as well clothed, lodged, and
served, as people in our position of life can reasonably expect to be?”

“It is not that which vexes me,” she replied.

“Then what can it be?” he asked. “Tell me, and if I can remedy it, I
will, at whatever cost to my purse or person.”

Generally, she did not reply, but still sulked, and looked miserable, at
which her husband lost his patience, finding she would not tell him the
cause of her grief. But he enquired so often that at last he learned
partly what was the matter, for she told him that she was vexed because
he was so poorly furnished with you-know-what--that is to say the stick
with which you plant men, as Boccaccio calls it.

“Indeed!” said he, “and is that why you grieve? By St. Martin you have
good cause! At any rate it cannot be other than it is, and you must put
up with it, since you cannot change it.”

This condition of affairs lasted a long time, till the husband, tired of
her obstinacy, one day invited to dinner a great number of her friends,
and stated the facts which have been already related, and said that
it seemed to him that she had no particular cause to grieve, for he
believed he was as well furnished with a natural instrument as any of
his neighbours.

“And that I may be the better believed,” he said, “and that you may see
how wrong she is, I will show it you all.”

With that he laid his furniture on the table before all the men and
women there assembled, and said; “There it is!” and his wife wept louder
than ever.

“By St. John!” said her mother, her sister, her aunt, her cousin, and
her neighbour, “you are wrong, my dear! What do you ask? Do you expect
more? Who would not be satisfied with a husband so furnished? So help me
God I should deem myself very happy to have as much, or indeed less. Be
comforted and enjoy yourself in future! By God, you are better off than
any of us I believe.”

The young bride, hearing all the women thus speak, replied, still
weeping loudly.

“There is a little ass in the house, hardly half a year old, and who has
an instrument as big, as thick, and as long as your arm,”--and so saying
she held her arm by the elbow and shook it up and down--“and my husband,
who is quite 24 years old has but that little bit he has shown you. Do
you think I ought to be satisfied?” Everyone began to laugh, and she to
weep the more, so that for a long time not a word was said by any of
the company. Then her mother took the girl aside, and said one thing and
another to her, and left her satisfied after a great deal of trouble.

That is the way with the girls in Germany--if God pleases it will soon
be the same also in France.


*****



STORY THE EIGHTY-FIRST -- BETWEEN TWO STOOLS. [81]

By Monseigneur De Waurin.

_Of a noble knight who was in love with a beautiful young married lady,
and thought himself in her good graces, and also in those of another
lady, her neighbour; but lost both as is afterwards recorded._


As all the stories of asses are now finished, I will relate shortly a
true story of a knight whom many of you noble lords have long known. It
is true that this knight was greatly in love--as is often the way with
young men--with a beautiful and noble young lady, who, in that part of
the country where she lived was renowned for her beauty. Nevertheless,
try what means he could to obtain her favours, and become her accepted
lover, he could not succeed--at which he was much displeased, seeing
that never was woman loved more ardently, loyally, and wholly than she
was. Nor should I omit to say that he did as much for her as ever
lover did for his lady, such as jousts, expensive habiliments,
etc.--nevertheless, as has been said, he found her always brusque and
averse, and showing him less love than she reasonably should, for she
knew for a fact that she was loyally and dearly loved by him. And,
to say truth, she was too harsh to him, which, it is to be believed,
proceeded from pride, of which she had too much--it might even be said,
with which she was filled.

Matters were in this condition, when another lady, a friend and
neighbour of the first-named damsel, seeing how enamoured the knight
was, fell in love with him herself, and by various honest ways and means
which would take too long to describe, so subtly managed that in a short
time the knight perceived her love, at which he was much vexed, his
heart being wholly given to his harsh and cruel mistress.

Being not only kind, but possessed of much common sense he managed
adroitly not to compromise himself, so that if his second love affair
had come to the knowledge of his first mistress, she would have no cause
to blame his conduct.

Now listen to the end of his amours. Owing to the distance at which
he lived, he could not so often see his lady-love as his trusting and
loving heart desired. So he determined one day to ask certain knights
and squires, good friends of his, but who knew nothing about his love
affairs, to fly their hawks, and hunt the hare in the district in which
the lady resided, knowing for a fact by his spies, that her husband was
away, having gone to Court, as he often did.

As had been arranged, the love-sick knight and his companions started
the next day, early in the morning, from the town where the Court was,
and passed the time until the late afternoon in hunting the hare, and
without eating or drinking. They snatched a hasty repast in a little
village, and after the dinner, which was short and simple, remounted
their horses and continued to hunt the hare.

The good knight, who had only one object in view, led his companions
from the city, to which they always wished to return and said to him,
“The hour of vespers is near and it is time to return to the town. If we
do not take care we shall be locked out, and have to stay the night in
some miserable village and all die of hunger.”

“Don’t be alarmed,” said the lover; “there is plenty of time, and at
the worst I know a place near here where we shall be very welcome, and I
suppose you will have no objection to meeting ladies.”

Being all courtiers, thy were not at all disinclined to meet ladies, and
were satisfied to leave the matter in his hands, and continued to hunt
the hare and the partridge as long as daylight lasted.

When it was time to think of finding lodgings, the knight said to his
companions,

“Come along, come along! I will lead you to the place.” About an hour or
two after nightfall, the knight and his comrades arrived at the place
where lived the lady with whom the guide of this little band was so
enamoured that he could not sleep o’nights. They knocked at the door of
the castle, and the varlets quickly came and asked them what they
wanted. And he who was the most deeply concerned, answered and said;
“Gentlemen, are my lord and my lady at home?” “Truly,” replied one of
the attendants for all the others, “my lord is not here, but my lady
is.”

“Tell her if you please, that such and such knights and squires of the
Court, and I, so-and-so, have been hunting the hare in this part of the
country, and have lost our way, and now it is too late to return to the
town. We beg her therefore to receive us as her guests for this night.”

“Willingly will I tell her,” said the other.

He went and delivered this message to his mistress, who, instead
of coming to the gentlemen, sent a message, which the servant thus
delivered.

“Monseigneur,” said the varlet, “my lady wishes me to inform you that
her husband is not here; at which she is much vexed, for if he had been
he would have given you a hearty welcome; but in his absence she does
not dare to receive visitors, and begs you therefore to pardon her.”

The knight, who had led the expedition, was, you may imagine, much
vexed and ashamed to hear this reply, for he expected to have seen his
mistress, and had a pleasant time with her, and emptied his heart to
her, and he was annoyed that he had brought his companions to a place
where he had boasted they would be well received.

Like a wise and noble knight, he did not show what he felt in his heart,
but with a calm countenance said to his comrades,

“Gentlemen, pardon me that I have lured you with false hopes. I did not
believe that the ladies of this part of the country were so wanting in
courtesy as to refuse a lodging to wandering knights. But have a little
patience. I promise you on my word, to take you somewhere--not far from
here--where we shall have quite a different welcome.”

“Forward then!” said all the others. “May God give us good luck.”

They set off, under the direction of their guide, to take them to the
house of the lady by whom he was esteemed, though he did not return her
affection as he ought to have done; but now he determined to devote to
her the love which had been so roughly refused by his first mistress,
and he determined to love, serve, and obey her who loved him so, and
with whom, please God, he would soon be.

To shorten the story, after riding for a good hour and a half with the
drenching rain on their backs, they came to the house of the lady who
has previously being mentioned, and gaily knocked at the door, for it
was very late,--between nine and ten o’clock at night, and they much
feared that all the household would be in bed. Varlets and servant maids
at once came forth, and asked, “Who is there?” and they were told.

They went at once to their mistress, who was then in her petticoat, and
had put on her nightcap, and said,

“Madame, my lord so-and-so is at the gate and would fain enter; and with
him certain knights and squires of the Court to the number of three.”

“They are very welcome,” she said. “Up quickly, all of you! Kill some
capons and fowls, and let us have a good supper, and quickly.”

In short, she gave her orders like the great lady that she was--and
still is,--and all obeyed her commands. She quickly put on her
night-dress, and thus attired, came forward, as courteously as possible,
to meet the gentlemen, with two torches carried before her, and only
accompanied by one waiting woman, and her beautiful daughter--all the
other women being employed in preparing the chambers.

She met her guests upon the drawbridge of the castle, and the noble
knight who was the guide and spokesman of the others, came forward and
expressed his gratitude for her kindness, and kissed her, and all the
others did the same after him.

Then like a courteous woman of the world, she said to the lords,

“Gentlemen, you are very welcome. Monseigneur So-and-so (that is to say
their guide) I have known a long time. He is very welcome here, and I
should be glad to make the acquaintance of you other gentlemen.”

These introductions were made, the supper was soon ready, and each of
the gentlemen lodged in a fair and fine chamber, well appointed and
furnished with hangings and everything necessary.

It should be mentioned also, that whilst supper was preparing, the lady
and the good knight had a long talk together, and arranged that they
would only require one bed between them that night; her husband by good
luck not being in the house, but forty leagues away.

We will leave them enjoying their supper after the adventures of the
day, and return to the lady who refused to receive the little band, even
the man whom she knew loved her better than anyone else in the world,
and had shown herself so discourteous.

She asked her servants, when they returned from delivering her message,
what the knight had said?

One of them replied: “Madame he said very little; only that he would
take his friends to a place where they would have a hearty welcome and
good cheer.”

She quickly guessed where they had gone, and said to herself, “Ah, he
has gone to the house of such an one, who, I know, will not be sorry to
see him, and no doubt they are now plotting against me.”

Whilst she was thinking thus, the harshness and un-kindness which she
had felt towards her faithful lover, melted away or was transformed into
hearty affection and good-will, and she longed to bestow upon her
lover whatever he might ask or require. So she at once set to work and
suspecting that the lady to whom they had gone was now enjoying the
society of the man she had treated so rudely, she penned a letter to
her lover, most of the lines of which were written in her most precious
blood, to the effect that as soon as he saw this letter, he should set
all other matters aside, and follow the bearer of the missive, and he
would be so kindly received that no lover in the world could expect more
from his mistress. And as a token of her truth, she placed inside the
letter a diamond ring he well knew.

The bearer of this missive, who was a trustworthy man, went to the
castle where the knight was sitting at supper next to the hostess, and
with all the guests seated round the table. As soon as grace had been
said, the messenger drew the knight aside and handed him the letter.

Having perused it, the good knight was much amazed, and still more
joyous, for though he had determined in his own mind no longer to seek
the love or acquaintance of the writer of the letter, he still felt
tempted when the letter promised him that which he most desired in the
world.

He took his hostess aside, and told her that his master had sent an
urgent message, and that he must leave at once--at which he pretended
to feel much vexed,--and she, who had before been so joyful in the
expectation of that she so much desired, became sad and sorrowful.

He quietly mounted his horse, and leaving all his comrades behind,
arrived with the messenger, soon after midnight, at the castle of the
lady, but her husband had just arrived from Court and was then preparing
to go to bed, and she, who had sent specially to fetch her lover, was
disappointed enough, God knows.

The good knight, who had been all day in the saddle, either hunting the
hare or seeking for lodgings, heard at the door that the lady’s husband
had arrived, and you may guess how joyful he was at the news.

He asked his guide what was to be done? They consulted together, and it
was decided that he should pretend to have lost his companions, and, by
good chance, met this messenger, who had brought him to the castle. This
being arranged, he was brought before my lord and my lady, and acted his
part as he well knew how. After having quaffed a cup of wine--which did
him very little good--he was led to his bed-chamber, where he scarcely
slept all night, and, early the next morning, returned with his host to
Court, without having tasted any of the delights which were promised him
in the letter.

And I may add that he was never able to return there again, for soon
afterwards the Court left that part of the country, and he went with it,
and soon forgot all about the lady--as often happens.


*****



STORY THE EIGHTY-SECOND -- BEYOND THE MARK. [82]

By Monseigneur De Lannoy.

_Of a shepherd who made an agreement with a shepherdess that he should
mount upon her “in order that he might see farther,” but was not to
penetrate beyond a mark which she herself made with her hand upon the
instrument of the said shepherd--as will more plainly appear hereafter._


Listen, if you please, to what happened, near Lille, to a shepherd and
young shepherdess who tended their flocks together, or near each other.

Nature had already stirred in them, and they were of an age to know “the
way of the world”, so one day an agreement was made between them
that the shepherd should mount on the shepherdess “in order to see
farther”,--provided, however, that he should not penetrate beyond a
mark which she made with her hand upon the natural instrument of the
shepherd, and which was about two fingers’ breadth below the head; and
the mark was made with a blackberry taken from the hedge.

That being done, they began God’s work, and the shepherd pushed in as
though it had cost him no trouble, and without thinking about any mark
or sign, or the promise he had made to the shepherdess, for all that he
had he buried up to the hilt, and if he had had more he would have found
a place to put it.

The pretty shepherdess, who had never had such a wedding, enjoyed
herself so much that she would willingly have done nothing else all her
life. The battle being ended, both went to look after their sheep, which
had meanwhile strayed some distance. They being brought together again,
the shepherd, who was called Hacquin, to pass the time, sat in a swing
set up between two hedges, and there he swung, as happy as a king.

The shepherdess sat by the side of a ditch, and made a wreath of
flowers. She sang a little song, hoping that it would attract the
shepherd, and he would begin the game over again--but that was very far
from his thoughts. When she found he did not come, she began to call,
“Hacquin! Hacquin!”

And he replied, “What do you want?”

“Come here! come here! will you?” she said.

But Hacquin had had a surfeit of pleasure and he replied;

“In God’s name leave me alone. I am doing nothing; and enjoying myself.”

Then the shepherdess cried;

“Come here, Hacquin; I will let you go in further, without making any
mark.”

“By St. John,” said Hacquin, “I went far beyond the mark, and I do not
want any more.”

He would not go to the shepherdess, who was much vexed to have to remain
idle.


*****


[Illustration: 83.jpg The gluttonous Monk.]



STORY THE EIGHTY-THIRD -- THE GLUTTONOUS MONK.

By Monseigneur De Vaurin.

_Of a Carmelite monk who came to preach at a village and after his
sermon, he went to dine with a lady, and how he stuffed out his gown, as
you will hear._


It is the custom of all countries for religious mendicants--Jacobins,
Cordeliers, Carmelites, and Augustinians--to go through all the towns
and villages, preaching against vice, and exalting and praising virtue.

It happened once that a Carmelite, from the convent of Arras, arrived
one Sunday morning, at Libers, a pretty, little town of Artois, to
preach--which he could do piously and eloquently, for he was a learned
man and a good orator.

Whilst the curé was chanting high Mass, our Carmelite wandered about,
hoping to find some one who wanted a Mass said, whereby the monk could
earn a few pence, but no one came forward.

Seeing this, an old widow lady took compassion on him, allowed him to
say a Mass, and then sent her servant to give him two _patars_, and to
beg him to come to dinner with her that day.

Master monk snapped up the money, and accepted the invitation, and as
soon as he had preached his sermon, and high Mass was finished, he came.

The lady for whom he had said Mass, and who had invited him, left the
church with her maid, and went home to make all ready for the preacher,
who was conducted to the house by one of her servants, and most
courteously received. After he had washed his hands, the lady assigned
him a place by her side, and the varlet and the maid-servant prepared to
serve the repast, and first they brought in leek soup, with a good piece
of bacon, a dish of pig’s chitterlings, and an ox tongue, roasted.

God knows that as soon as the monk saw the viands he drew forth from
his girdle a fine, long, large, and very sharp knife, and, as he said
_Benedicite_, he set to work in the leek soup.

Very soon he had finished that and the bacon as well, and drew towards
him the fine, fat chitterlings, and rioted amongst them like a wolf
amongst a flock of sheep; and before his hostess had half finished her
soup there was not the ghost of a chitterling left in the dish. Then he
took the ox tongue, and with his sharp knife cut off so many slices that
not a morsel remained.

The lady, who watched all this without saying a word, often glanced at
the varlet and the servant-maid, and they smiled quietly and glanced at
her. Then they brought a piece of good salt beef, and a capital piece
of mutton, and put them on the table. And the good monk, who had an
appetite like a hungry dog, attacked the beef, and if he had had little
pity for the chitterlings and the ox tongue, still less had he for this
fine piece of larded beef.

His hostess who took great pleasure in seeing him eat--which was more
than the varlet and the maid, did for they cursed him beneath their
breath--always filled his cup as soon as it was empty; and you may guess
that if he did not spare the meat neither did he spare the drink.

He was in such a hurry to line his gown that he would hardly say a word.
When the beef was all finished, and great part of the mutton--of which
his hostess had scarcely eaten a mouthful--she, seeing that her guest
was not yet satisfied, made a sign to the servant-maid to bring a huge
ham which had been cooked the day before for the household.

The maid--cursing the priest for gorging so--obeyed the order of her
mistress, and put the ham on the table. The good monk, without staying
to ask “who goes there”, fell upon it tooth and nail, and at the very
first attack he carried off the knuckle, then the thick end, and so
dismembered it that soon there was nothing left but the bone.

The serving man and woman did not laugh much at this, for he had
entirely cleared the larder, and they were half afraid that he would eat
them as well.

To shorten the story--after all these before mentioned dishes, the lady
caused to be placed on the table a fine fat cheese, and a dish well
furnished with tarts, apples, and cheeses, with a good piece of fresh
butter--of all which there was not a scrap left to take away.

The dinner which has been described being thus finished, our preacher,
who was now as round as a tick, pronounced grace, and then said to his
hostess;

“Damsel, I thank you for your good gifts; you have given me a hearty
welcome, for which I am much obliged to you. I will pray to Him who
fed five thousand men with a few loaves of barley bread and two small
fishes, and after they were all filled there remained over twelve
basketfuls--I will pray to Him to reward you.”

“By St. John!” said the maid-servant coming forward, “you may well talk
about that. I believe that if you had been one of that multitude there
would not have been anything left over; for you would have eaten up
everything, and me into the bargain, if I had happened to have been
there.”

“No, truly, my dear,” replied the monk, who was a jovial fellow with a
ready wit, “I should not have eaten you, but I should have spitted you,
and put you down to roast--that is what I should have done to you.”

The lady began to laugh, and so did the varlet and the maid-servant, in
spite of themselves. And our monk, who had his belly well stuffed,
again thanked his hostess for having so well filled him, and went off to
another village to earn his supper--but whether that was as good as his
dinner I cannot say.


*****


[Illustration: 84.jpg The Devil’s Share.]



STORY THE EIGHTY-FOURTH -- THE DEVIL’S SHARE. [84]

By The Marquis De Rothelin.

_Of one of his marshals who married the sweetest and most lovable woman
there was in all Germany. Whether what I tell you is true--for I do
not swear to it that I may not be considered a liar--you will see more
plainly below._


Whilst we are waiting tor some one to come forward and tell us a good
story, I will relate a little one which will not detain you long, but is
quite true, and happened lately.

I had a marshal, who had served me long and faithfully, and who
determined to get a wife, and was married to the most ill-tempered woman
in all the country; and when he found that neither by good means or bad
could he cure her of her evil temper, he left her, and would not live
with her, but avoided her as he would a tempest, for if he knew she was
in any place he would go in the contrary direction. When she saw that
he avoided her, and that he gave her no opportunity of displaying her
temper, she went in search of him, and followed him, crying God knows
what, whilst he held his tongue and pursued his road, and this only
made her worse and she bestowed more curses and maledictions on her poor
husband than a devil would on a damned soul.

One day she, finding that her husband did not reply a word to anything
she said, followed him through the street, crying as loud as she could
before all the people;

“Come here, traitor! speak to me. I belong to you. I belong to you!”

And my marshal replied each time; “I give my share to the devil! I give
my share to the devil.”

Thus they went all through the town of Lille, she crying all the while
“I belong to you,” and the other replying “I give my share to the
devil.”

Soon afterwards, so God willed, this good woman died, and my marshal was
asked if he were much grieved at the loss of his wife, and he replied
that never had such a piece of luck occurred to him, and if God had
promised him anything he might wish, he would have wished for his wife’s
death; “for she,” he said, “was so wicked and malicious that if I knew
she were in paradise I would not go there, for there could be no peace
in any place where she was. But I am sure that she is in hell, for never
did any created thing more resemble a devil than she did.” Then they
said to him;

“Really you ought to marry again. You should look out for some good,
quiet, honest woman.”

“Marry?” said he. “I would rather go and hang myself on a gibbet than
again run the danger of finding such a hell as I have--thank God--now
escaped from.”

Thus he lived, and still lives--but I know not what he will be.


*****



STORY THE EIGHTY-FIFTH -- NAILED! [85]

By Monseigneur De Santilly.

_Of a goldsmith, married to a fair, kind, and gracious lady, and very
amorous withal of a curé, her neighbour, with whom her husband found her
in bed, they being betrayed by one of the goldsmith’s servants, who was
jealous, as you will hear._


A hundred years ago, or thereabouts, there happened in a town on the
borders of France a curious incident, which I will relate, to increase
my number of stories, and also because it deserves to rank with the
others.

In this town there was a man whose wife was fair, kind, and gracious,
and much enamoured of a churchman, her own curé and near neighbour, who
loved her as much as she did him, but to find an opportunity to come
together amorously was difficult, but it was at last found by the
ingenuity of the lady, in the manner I will describe.

Her husband was a goldsmith, and so greedy of gain that he would never
sleep an hour in which he could work.

Every day he would rise an hour or two before dawn, and let his wife
take a long rest till eight or nine o’clock, or as long as she pleased.

This amorous dame seeing how diligent her husband was, and that he rose
early every day to hammer and work, determined to employ with the curé
the time during which she was neglected by her husband, and arranged
that at such and such an hour her lover could visit her without her
husband’s knowledge, for the cure’s house stood next to hers.

This happy expedient was proposed to the curé, who gladly accepted
it, for it seemed to him that his amour could be carried on easily and
secretly. So as soon as the proposal was made it was executed, and thus
they continued to live for a long time; but fortune--envious perhaps of
their happiness and sweet enjoyment--willed that their amours should be
unfortunately discovered in the manner you will hear.

This goldsmith had an assistant, who was in love with his master’s wife,
and very jealous of her, and he perceived the curé often talking to the
lady, and he guessed what was the matter. But he could not imagine how
and when they met, unless it was that the curé came in the morning when
he and his master were in the workshop. These suspicions so ran in his
head that he watched and listened in order that he might find out the
truth, and he watched so well that he learned the facts of the case, for
one morning he saw the curé come, soon after the goldsmith had left the
chamber, and enter and close the door after him.

When he was quite sure that his suspicions were confirmed, he informed
his master of his discovery in these terms.

“Master, I serve you, not only that I may earn your money, eat your
bread, and do your work well and honestly, but also to protect your
honour and preserve it from harm. If I acted otherwise I should not be
worthy to be your servant. I have long had a suspicion that our curé was
doing you a grievous wrong, but I said nothing to you until I was sure
of the facts. That you may not suppose I am trumping up an idle story, I
would beg of you to let us go now to your chamber, for I am sure that we
shall find him there.”

When the good man heard this news, he was much inclined to laugh, but he
agreed to go to his chamber along with his assistant--who first made
him promise that he would not kill the curé, or otherwise he would not
accompany him, but consented that the curé should be well punished.

They went up to the chamber, and the door was soon opened. The husband
entered first, and saw his wife in the arms of the curé who was forging
as hard as he could.

The goldsmith cried;

“Die, die, scoundrel! What brings you here?”

The curé was surprised and alarmed, and begged for mercy.

“Silence, rascally priest, or I will kill you on the spot!”

“Oh, neighbour have mercy, for God’s sake,” said the curé; “do with me
whatever you like.”

“By my father’s soul! before I let you go I will make you so that you
will never want to hammer on any feminine anvil again. Get up, and let
yourself be bound, unless you wish to die!”

The poor wretch allowed himself to be fastened by his two enemies to a
bench, face upwards, and with his legs hanging down on each side of the
bench. When he was well fastened, so that he could move nothing but
his head, he was carried thus trussed (*) into a little shed behind the
house, which the goldsmith used as a melting-room.

     (*) The word in the original is _marescaucié_, which
     presumably means,--treated as the soldiers of the
     _maréchaussée_ treated their prisoners. Bibliophile Jacob
     avoided philological pitfalls of this sort by omitting the
     phrase altogether.

When the curé was safely placed in this shed, the goldsmith sent for two
long nails with large heads, and with these he fastened to the bench
the two hammers which had in his absence forged on his wife’s anvil,
and after that undid all the ropes which fastened the poor wretch. Then
taking a handful of straw, he set fire to the shed, and leaving the curé
to his fate, rushed into the street, crying “Fire!”

The priest, finding himself surrounded by flames, saw that he must
either lose his genitals or be burned alive, so he jumped up and ran
away, leaving his purse nailed there.

An alarm was soon raised in the street, and the neighbours ran to put
out the fire. But the curé sent them back, saying that he had just come
from the spot, and all the harm that could occur had already been done,
so that they could give no assistance--but he did not say that it was he
who had suffered all the harm.

Thus was the poor curé rewarded for his love, through the false and
treacherous jealousy of the goldsmith’s assistant, as you have heard.


*****


[Illustration: 86.jpg Foolish Fear.]



STORY THE EIGHTY-SIXTH -- FOOLISH FEAR.

By Monseigneur Philippe Vignier.

_Of a young man of Rouen, married to a fair, young girl of the age of
fifteen or thereabouts; and how the mother of the girl wished to have
the marriage annulled by the Judge of Rouen, and of the sentence which
the said Judge pronounced when he had heard the parties--as you will
hear more plainly in the course of the said story._


In the good town of Rouen, not long ago, a young man was married to a
fair and tender virgin, aged fifteen, or thereabouts. On the day of the
great feast--that is to say, the wedding--the mother of the young girl,
as is customary in such cases, instructed the bride in all the mysteries
of wedlock, and taught her how to behave to her husband on the first
night.

The young girl, who was looking forward to the time when she could put
these doctrines into practice, took great pains and trouble to remember
the lesson given her by her good mother, and it seemed to her that when
the time came for her to put these counsels into execution, that she
would perform her duties so well that her husband would praise her, and
be well pleased with her.

The wedding was performed with all honour and due solemnity, and the
desired night came; and soon after the feast was ended, and the young
people had withdrawn after having taken leave of the newly married
couple,--the mother, cousins, neighbours, and other lady friends led
the bride to the chamber where she was to spend the night with her
husband, where they joyfully divested her of her raiment, and put her to
bed, as was right and proper. Then they wished her good-night, and one
said;

“My dear, may God give you joy and pleasure in your husband, and may you
so live with him as to be for the salvation of both your souls.”

Another said: “My dear, God give you such peace and happiness with your
husband, that the heavens may be filled with your works.”

After they all had expressed similar wishes, they left. The bride’s
mother, who remained the last, questioned her daughter to see whether
she remembered the lesson she had been taught. And the girl, who, as the
proverb goes, did not carry her tongue in her pocket, replied that
she well remembered all that had been told her, and--thank God--had
forgotten nothing.

“Well done,” said the mother. “Now I will leave you, and recommend
you to God, and pray that He may give you good luck. Farewell, my dear
child.”

“Farewell, my good and wise mother.”

As soon as the schoolmistress had finished, the husband who was outside
the door expecting something better, came in. The mother closed the
door, and told him that she hoped he would be gentle with her daughter.
He promised that he would, and as soon as he had bolted the door,
he--who had on nothing on but his doublet,--threw it off, jumped on
the bed, drew as close as he could to his bride, and, lance in hand,
prepared to give battle.

But when he approached the barrier where the skirmish was to take place,
the girl laid hold of his lance, which was as straight and stiff as a
cowkeeper’s horn, and when she felt how hard and big it was, she was
very frightened, and began to cry aloud, and said that her shield was
not strong enough to receive and bear the blows of such a huge weapon.

Do all he would, the husband could not persuade her to joust with
him, and this bickering lasted all night, without his being able to do
anything, which much displeased our bridegroom. Nevertheless, he was
patient, hoping to make up for lost time the next night, but it was
the same as the first night, and so was the third, and so on up to the
fifteenth, matters remaining just as I have told you.

When fifteen days had passed since the young couple had been married,
and they had still not come together, the mother came to visit her
pupil, and after a thousand questions, spoke to the girl of her husband,
and asked what sort of man he was, and whether he did his duty well? And
the girl said that he was a nice, young man, quiet and peaceable.

“But,” said the mother; “does he do what he ought to do?”

“Yes,” said the girl, “but-----”

“But _what?_” said the mother. “You are keeping something back I am
sure. Tell me at once, and conceal nothing; for I must know now. Is he a
man capable of performing his marital duties in the way I taught you?”

The poor girl, being thus pressed, was obliged to own that he had not
yet done the business, but she did not say that she was the cause of the
delay, and that she had always refused the combat.

When her mother heard this sad news, God knows what a disturbance she
made, swearing by all her gods that she would soon find a remedy for
that, for she was well acquainted with the judge of Rouen, who was her
friend, and would favour her cause.

“The marriage must be annulled,” she said, “and I have no doubt that I
shall be able to find out the way, and you may be sure, my child, that
before two days are over you will be divorced and married to another man
who will not let you rest in peace all that time. You leave the matter
to me.”

The good woman, half beside herself, went and related her wrong to her
husband, the father of the girl, and told him that they had lost their
daughter, and adducing many reasons why the marriage should be annulled.

She pleaded her cause so well that her husband took her side, and was
content that the bridegroom, (who knew no reason why a complaint should
be lodged against him) should be cited before the Judge. But, at any
rate, he was personally summoned to appear before the Judge, at his
wife’s demand, to show cause why he should not leave her, and permit her
to marry again, or explain the reasons why, in so many days that he had
lived with her, he had not demonstrated that he was a man, and performed
the duties that a husband should.

When the day came, the parties presented themselves at the proper time
and place, and they were called upon to state their case. The mother of
the bride began to plead her daughter’s cause, and God knows the laws
concerning marriage which she quoted, none of which, she maintained,
had her son-in-law fulfilled; therefore she demanded that he should be
divorced from her daughter at once without any more ado.

The young man was much astonished to find himself thus attacked, but
lost no time in replying to the allegations of his adversary, and
quietly stated his case, and related how his wife had always refused to
allow him to perform his marital duties.

The mother, when she heard this reply, was more angry than ever, and
would hardly believe it, and asked her daughter if that was true which
her husband had said?

“Yes, truly, mother,” she replied.

“Oh, wretched girl,” said her mother, “why did you refuse? Did I not
teach you your lesson many times?”

The poor girl could not reply, so ashamed was she.

“At any rate,” said her mother, “I must know the reason why you have
refused. Tell it me at once, or I shall be horrible angry.”

The girl was obliged to confess that she had found the lance of the
champion so big that she had not dared to present her shield, fearing
that he would kill her; and so she still felt, and was not re-assured
upon that point, although her mother had told her not be afraid. After
this the mother addressed the Judge, and said:

“Monseigneur, you have heard the confession of my daughter, and the
defence of my son-in-law. I beg of you to give judgment at once.”

The judge ordered a bed to be prepared in his house, and the couple to
lie on it together, and commanded the bride to boldly lay hold of the
stick or instrument, and put it where it was ordered to go. When this
judgment was given, the mother said;

“Thank you, my lord; you have well judged. Come along, my child, do what
you should, and take care not to disobey the judge, and put the lance
where it ought to be put.”

“I am satisfied,” said the daughter, “to put it where it ought to go,
but it may rot there before I will take it out again.”

So they left the Court, and went and carried out the sentence
themselves, without the aid of any sergeants. By this means the young
man enjoyed his joust, and was sooner sick of it than she who would not
begin.


*****



STORY THE EIGHTY-SEVENTH -- WHAT THE EYE DOES NOT SEE.

By Monsieur Le Voyer.

_Of a gentle knight who was enamoured of a young and beautiful girl,
and how he caught a malady in one of his eyes, and therefore sent for a
doctor, who likewise fell in love with the same girl, as you will
hear; and of the words which passed between the knight and the doctor
concerning the plaster which the doctor had put on the knight’s good
eye._


In the pleasant and fertile land of Holland, not a hundred years ago, a
noble knight lodged in a fair and good inn, where there was a young and
very pretty chamber-maid, with whom he was greatly enamoured, and for
love of her had arranged with the Duke of Burgundy’s quartermaster that
he should be lodged in this inn, in order that he might better carry out
his intentions with regard to this girl.

After he had been at this inn five or six days, there happened to him a
misfortune, for he had a disease in one of his eyes so that he could not
keep it open, so sharp was the pain. And as he much feared to lose it,
and it was an organ that required much care and attention, he sent for
the Duke’s surgeon, who was at that time in the the town. And you must
know that the said surgeon was a good fellow, and much esteemed and
spoken about throughout all the country.

As soon as the surgeon saw this eye, he declared that it could not be
saved, which is what they customarily say, so that if they do cure the
disease they may gain more praise and profit.

The good knight was greatly vexed at this news, and asked if there were
no means of cure, and the other replied that it would be very difficult,
nevertheless he might, with God’s aid, cure it, if the knight would obey
all his instructions.

“If you can cure me and save my eye,” said the knight, “I will pay you
well.”

The bargain was made, and the surgeon undertook with God’s aid to cure
the bad eye, and arranged at what hour he would come every day to apply
the dressings.

You must know that every time the surgeon came to see his patient, the
pretty chambermaid accompanied him, to hold his box or basin, or help to
move the poor patient, who forgot half his pain in the presence of his
lady-love.

If the good knight had been struck by the beauty of the chambermaid,
so also was the surgeon; who, each time that he paid a visit, could not
help casting sheep’s eyes at the fair face of the chambermaid, and at
last passionately declared his love, which was well received, for she
immediately granted his requests, but it was not easy to find means to
carry out their ardent desires.

At last, after some trouble, a plan was hit on by the prudent and
cunning surgeon, and it was this:

“I will tell my patient,” he said, “that his eye cannot be cured unless
his other eye is bandaged, for by throwing all the work on the sound
eye he prevents the other from getting well. If he will allow it to be
bandaged up, we shall have a capital means of taking our pleasure, even
in his chamber, without his having any suspicion of it.”

The girl, whose desires were quite as warm as those of the surgeon, was
quite agreeable, provided the plan could be carried out.

“We will try,” said the surgeon.

He came at the usual hour to see the bad eye, and when he had uncovered
it, pretended to be much surprised.

“What!” he cried. “I never saw such a disease; the eye is worse than it
was fifteen days ago. You must have patience, monsieur.”

“In what way?” said the knight.

“Your good eye must be bandaged and concealed, so that no light can
reach it, for an hour or so after I have applied this plaster and
ordered another--for, no doubt, it prevents the other from healing.
Ask,” he said, “this pretty girl, who sees it every day, how it is
getting on.”

The girl said that it looked worse than before.

“Well,” said the knight, “I leave myself in your hands; do with me
whatever you please. I am content to be blindfolded as much as you like,
provided I am cured in the long run.”

The two lovers were very joyful when they saw that the knight allowed
his eyes to be bandaged. When all the arrangements had been made, and
the knight had his eyes bandaged, master surgeon pretended to leave as
usual, promising to come back soon to take off the bandage.

He did not go very far, for he threw the girl on a couch not far from
the patient, and with quite a different instrument to that which he had
employed on the knight, visited the secret cloisters of the chambermaid.

Three, four, five, six times did he perform on the pretty girl without
the knight noticing it, for though he heard the storm he did not know
what it was; but as it still continued, his suspicions were aroused,
and this time, when he heard the noise of the combat, he tore off
the bandages and plasters and threw them away, and saw the two lovers
struggling together, and seeming as though they would eat each other, so
closely united were their mouths.

“What is this, master surgeon?” cried he. “Have you blindfolded me in
order to do me this wrong. Is my eye to be cured by this means? Tell
me--did you prepare this trick for me? By St. John, I suspect I was more
often visited for love of my chambermaid than for my eyes. Well! well!
I am in your hands now, sir, and cannot yet revenge myself, but the day
will come when I will make you remember me.”

The surgeon, who was a thoroughly good fellow, began to laugh, and made
his peace with the knight, and I believe that, after the eye was cured,
they agreed to divide the work between them.


*****


[Illustration: 88.jpg A Husband in hiding.]



STORY THE EIGHTY-EIGHTH -- A HUSBAND IN HIDING. [88]

By Alardin.

_Of a poor, simple peasant married to a nice, pleasant woman, who did
much as she liked, and who in order that she might be alone with her
lover, shut up her husband in the pigeon-house in the manner you will
hear._


In a pretty, little town near here, but which I will not name, there
recently occurred an incident which will furnish a short story. There
lived there a good, simple, unlettered peasant, married to a nice,
pleasant woman, and as long as he had plenty to eat and drink he cared
for little else. He was accustomed to often go into the country to
a house he had there, and stay, three, or four days--sometimes more,
sometimes less, as suited his pleasure, and left his wife to enjoy
herself in the town, which she did, for, in order that she might not be
frightened, she had always a man to take her husband’s place, and look
after the workshop and see that the tools did not rust. Her method was
to wait until her husband was out of sight, and not until she was quite
sure that he would not return did she send for his deputy, in order that
she might not be surprised.

But she could not always manage so well as not to be surprised, for once
when her husband had remained away two or three days, and on the fourth
day she had waited as long as possible until the gates of the town were
closed; thinking he would not come that day, she closed the doors and
the windows as on the other days, brought her lover into the house, and
they began to drink and enjoy themselves.

They were scarcely seated at the table, when her husband came and
thundered at the door, which he was much surprised to find closed.

When the good woman heard it, she hid her lover under the bed; then went
to the door and demanded who knocked?

“Open the door,” replied her husband.

“Ah, husband, is that you?” she said. “I was going to send a message to
you to-morrow morning to tell you not to come back.”

“Why; what is the matter?” asked her husband.

“What is the matter? God in heaven!” she replied. “The sergeants were
here two hours and a half, waiting to take you to prison.”

“To prison!” said he; “Why to prison? Have I done anything wrong? To
whom do I owe any money? Who brings any charge against me?”

“I know nothing about it,” said the cunning wench, “but they evidently
wanted to do you harm.”

“But did they not tell you,” asked her husband, “why they wanted me?”

“No,” she replied; “nothing, except that if they laid hands on you, you
would not get out of prison for a long time.”

“Thank God they haven’t caught me yet. Good bye, I am going back.”

“Where are you going?” she asked--though she was glad to get rid of him.

“Whence I came,” he replied.

“I will come with you,” she said.

“No, don’t. Stay and take care of the house, and do not tell anyone that
I have been here.”

“Since you will return to the country,” she said, “make haste and get
away before they close the gates: it is already late.”

“If they should be shut, the gate-keeper will do anything for me and he
will open them again.”

With these words he left, and when he came to the gate, he found it
closed, and, beg and pray as he might, the gate-keeper would not open it
for him.

He was very annoyed that he should have to return to his house, for he
feared the sergeants; nevertheless, he was obliged to go back, or sleep
in the streets.

He went back, and knocked at the door, and the woman who had again sat
down with her lover, was much surprised, but she jumped up, and ran to
the door, and called out,

“My husband has not come back; you are wasting your time.”

“Open the door, my dear,” said the good man. “I am here.”

“Alas! alas! the gate was closed: I feared as much,” she said. “You will
certainly be arrested; I see no hope for escape, for the sergeants told
me, I now remember, that they would return to-night.”

“Oh, well,” he said, “there is no need of a long sermon. Let us consider
what is to be done.”

“You must hide somewhere in the house,” she said, “and I do not know of
any place where you would be safe.”

“Should I be safe,” he asked, “in our pigeon house? Who would look for
me there?”

She was, of course, highly delighted at the suggestion, but pretended
not to be, and said; “It is not a very nice place; it stinks too much.”

“I don’t mind that,” he said. “I would rather be there an hour or two,
and be safe, than be in a better place and be caught.”

“Oh, well, if you are brave enough to go there, I am of your opinion
that it would be a good hiding-place.”

The poor man ascended into the pigeon-house, which fastened outside,
and was locked in, and told his wife that if the sergeants did not come
soon, that she was to let him out.

She left him to coo with the pigeons all night, which he did not much
like, and he was afraid to speak or call, for fear of the sergeants.

At daybreak, which was the time when her lover left the house, the good
woman came and called her husband and opened the door; and he asked her
why she had left him so long along with the pigeons. And she, having
prepared her reply, said that the sergeants had watched round their
house all night, and spoken to her several times, and had only just
gone, but they said that they would come back at a time when they were
likely to find him.

The poor fellow, much wondering what the sergeants could want with him,
left at once, and returned to the country, vowing that he would not
come back for a long time. God knows how pleased the wench was at
this, though she pretended to be grieved. And by this means she enjoyed
herself more than ever, for she had no longer any dread of her husband’s
return.


*****



STORY THE EIGHTY-NINTH -- THE FAULT OF THE ALMANAC.

By Poncelet.

_Of a curé who forgot, either by negligence or ignorance, to inform his
parishioners that Lent had come until Palm Sunday arrived, as you
will hear--and of the manner in which he excused himself to his
parishioners._


In a certain little hamlet or village in this country, far from any good
town, there happened an incident, which is worth hearing, my good sirs.

This village or hamlet was inhabited by a handful of rough and simple
peasants, who knew nothing except how to gain their livelihood. Rough
and ignorant as they were, their curé was not less so, for he did not
know things of common knowledge, as I will show you by relating an
incident that happened to him.

You must know that this curé was so simple and ignorant that he could
not announce the feasts of the saints, which come every year on a fixed
day, as every one knows; and when his parishioners asked when such and
such a feast would fall, he could not, right off, answer them correctly.

Amongst other such mistakes, which often occurred, he made one which
was by no means slight, for he allowed the five weeks of Lent to slip by
without informing his parishioners.

But hear how he discovered his error. On the Saturday which was the eve
before Palm Sunday, he had need to go to the nearest town for something
that he required. When he had entered the town, and was riding along
the streets, he saw that the priests were purchasing palms and other
greenstuff, which were being sold at the market for the procession the
next day.

If anyone was astonished it was our good curé, though he pretended not
to be. He went to the woman who sold the palms and boughs, and bought
some--pretending that he had come to town specially for that purpose.
Then he hastily mounted his horse, which was loaded with his purchases,
galloped to the village, and arrived there as quickly as possible.

As soon as he had dismounted, he met several of his parishioners, whom
he commanded to go and ring the bells for every one to come to church
at once, for he had certain things necessary for the salvation of their
souls to tell them.

A meeting was soon called, and all were assembled in the church, where
the curé, booted and spurred, came, much flustered, God knows. He
mounted into the pupil, and said the following words,

“Good sirs, I have to signify and inform you that to-day was the eve of
the solemn feast of Palm Sunday, and this day next week will be the eve
of Easter Sunday, the day of Our Lord’s Resurrection.”

When these good people heard this news they began to murmur, and were so
astonished they did not know what to do.

“Silence!” said the curé, “I will soon satisfy you, and will tell
you the true reasons why you have only eight days of Lent in which to
perform your penitences this year, and marvel not at what I am about
to tell you, as to why Lent came so late. I suppose there is not one
amongst you who does not know and remember that the frosts were very
long and sharp this year--much worse than ever they were--and that for
many weeks it was dangerous to ride, on account of the frost and the
snow, which lasted a long time.”

“Every one here knows that is as true as the Gospel, therefore be not
astonished that Lent has been so long coming, but rather wonder that it
was able to come at all, seeing how long the road is from here to his
house. I would ask, and even beg of you, to excuse him, for I dined with
him to day” (and he named the place--that is to say the town to which he
had been).

“However,” he added, “manage to come and confess this week, and appear
to morrow in the procession, as is customary. And have patience this
time; the coming year will be milder, please God, and then Lent will
come quicker, as it usually does.”

Thus did the curé find means to excuse his simple ignorance. Then he
pronounced the benediction saying,

“Pray to God for me, and I will pray to God for you.”

After that he came down out of the pulpit, and went to his house to
prepare the boughs and palms which were to be used in the procession the
next day.

And that is all.


*****


[Illustration: 90.jpg A good Remedy.]



STORY THE NINETIETH -- A GOOD REMEDY. [90]

By Monseigneur De Beaumont.

_Of a good merchant of Brabant whose wife was very ill, and he supposing
that she was about to die, after many remonstrances and exhortations for
the salvation of her soul, asked her pardon, and she pardoned him all
his misdeeds, excepting that he had not worked her as much as he ought
to have done--as will appear more plainly in the said story._


To increase the number of stories that I promised to tell, I will relate
a circumstance that occurred lately.

In the fair land of Brabant--the place in the world where adventures
most often happen--there lived a good and honest merchant, whose
wife was very ill, and had to keep her bed continually because of her
disease.

The good man, seeing his wife so ill and weak, led a sad life; he was so
vexed and distressed and he much feared she would die. In this state
of grief, and believing that he was about to lose her, he came to her
bedside, and gave her hopes of being cured, and comforted her as best
he could. And after that he had talked with her a little time, and ended
his admonitions and exhortations, he begged her pardon, and requested
that if he had ever wronged her in any way that she would pardon him.

Amongst other instances of things which he knew had annoyed her, he
mentioned that he had not polished up her armour (that part which is
called the _cuirass_) as often as she would have liked, and therefore he
humbly begged her pardon.

The poor invalid, as soon as she could speak, pardoned him all his minor
offences, but this last she would not willingly pardon without knowing
the reasons which had induced her husband to neglect polishing up her
armour when he knew well what a pleasure it was to her, and that she
asked for nothing better.

“What?” he said; “Will you die without pardoning those who have done you
wrong?”

“I do not mind pardoning you,” she said, “but I want to know your
reasons--otherwise I will not pardon you.”

The good husband thought he had hit on a good excuse, and one that would
obtain his pardon, and replied;

“My dear, you know that very often you were ill and weak--although not
so ill as I see you now--and I did not dare to challenge you to combat
whilst you were in that condition, fearing that it might make you worse.
But be sure that if I refrained from embracing you, it was only out of
love and affection to you.”

“Hold your tongue, liar that you are! I was never so ill and weak that
I should have refused the battle. You must seek some other reason if
you would obtain your pardon, for that one will not help you; and since
there is now nothing to be done, I will tell you, wicked and cowardly
man that you are, that there is no medicine in the world which will so
quickly drive away the maladies of us women as the pleasant and amorous
society of men. Do you see me now weakened and dried up with disease?
Well! all that I want is your company.”

“Ho, ho!” said the other; “then I will quickly cure you.”

He jumped on the bed and performed as well as he could, and, as soon as
he had broken two lances, she rose and stood on her feet.

Half an hour later she was out in the street, and her neighbours, who
all looked upon her as almost dead, were much astonished, until she told
them by what means she had been cured, when they at once replied that
that was the only remedy.

Thus did the good merchant learn how to cure his wife; but it turned out
to his disadvantage in the long run, for she often pretended to be sick
in order to get her physic.


*****



STORY THE NINETY-FIRST -- THE OBEDIENT WIFE. [91]

By The Editor.

_ Of a man who was married to a woman so lascivious and lickerish, that
I believe she must have been born in a stove or half a league from the
summer sun, for no man, however well he might work, could satisfy her;
and how her husband thought to punish her, and the answer she gave him._


When I was lately in Flanders, in one of the largest towns in the
province, a jovial fellow told me a good story of a man married to a
woman so given to venery and concupiscence that she would have let a
man lie with her in the public streets. Her husband knew well how she
misbehaved herself, but he was not clever enough to prevent it, so
cunning and depraved was she. He threatened to beat, to leave her, or to
kill her, but it was all a waste of words; he might as well have tried
to tame a mad dog or some other animal. She was always seeking fresh
lovers with whom to fornicate, and there were few men in all the country
round who had not tried to satisfy her lust; anyone who winked at her,
even if he were humpbacked, old, deformed, or disfigured in any way,
could have her favours for nothing.

Her unfortunate husband, seeing that she still continued this life in
spite of all his menaces, tried to hit upon a method to frighten her.
When he was alone with her in the house, he said;

“Well, Jehanne (or Beatrix, for so he called her) I see that you are
determined to continue this life of vice, and, however much I may
threaten to punish you, you take no more heed of me than though I held
my tongue.”

“Alas, husband,” she replied, “I am much to be pitied, but there is no
help for it, for I was born under a planet which compels me to go with
men.”

“Oh, indeed,” said the husband, “is that your destiny? I swear I will
soon find a remedy for that.”

“You will kill me then,” she said, “for nothing else will cure me.”

“Never mind,” he said. “I know the best way.”

“What is it?” she asked. “Tell me.”

“Morbleu!” he said, “I will give you such a doing some day, that I will
put a quartette of babies in your belly, and then I will leave you to
get your own living.”

“You will?” she cried. “Indeed! Well, you have but to begin. Such
threats frighten me very little, I do not care a farthing for them. May
I have my head shaved if I attempt to run away. (*) If you think you are
capable of making four babies at once, come on, and begin at once--the
mould is ready.”

     (*) Long hair was considered honourable, and to have the
     head shaved or cropped was a mark of disgrace.

“The devil take the woman,” said the husband; “there is no way of
punishing her.”

He was obliged to let her fulfil her destiny, for nothing short of
splitting her head open would have kept her backside quiet; so he let
her run about like a bitch on heat amongst a couple of dozen dogs, and
accomplish all her inordinate desires.


*****


[Illustration: 92.jpg Women’s Quarrels.]



STORY THE NINETY-SECOND -- WOMEN’S QUARRELS.

By The Editor.

_Of a married woman who was in love with a Canon, and, to avoid
suspicion, took with her one of her neighbours when she went to visit
the Canon; and of the quarrel that arose between the two women, as you
will hear._


In the noble city of Metz in Lorraine, there lived, some time ago a
woman who was married, but also belonged to the confraternity of the
_houlette_ (*); nothing pleased her more than that nice amusement we all
know: she was always ready to employ her arms, and prove that she was
right valiant, and cared little for blows.

     (*) “The frail sisterhood”.

Now hear what happened to her whilst she was exercising her profession.
She was enamoured of a fat canon, who had more money than an old dog has
fleas. But as he lived in a place where people came at all hours, she
did not know how she was to come to her canon un-perceived.

She pondered over the matter, and at last determined to take into her
confidence a neighbour of hers, a sister-in-arms also of the _houlette_,
for it seemed to her that she might go and see her canon, if accompanied
by her neighbour, without causing any suspicion.

As it was devised, so was it done, and she went to see the canon, as
though on an affair of great importance, and honourably escorted, as has
been said.

To shorten the story, as soon as our _bourgeoises_ arrived, after all
due salutations, the principal personage shut herself up with her lover,
the canon, and he gave her a mount, as he well knew how.

The neighbour, seeing the other have a private audience with the master
of the house, had no small envy, and was much displeased that she could
not do the same.

When the first-named woman came out of the room, after receiving what
she came for, she said to her neighbour;

“Shall We go?”

“Oh, indeed,” said the other, “am I to go away like that? If I do not
receive the same courtesy that you did, by God I will reveal everything.
I did not come to warm the wax for other people.”

When they saw what she wanted, they offered her the canon’s clerk, who
was a stout and strong gallant well suited for the work, but she refused
him point blank, saying that she deserved his master and would have none
other.

The canon was obliged, to save his honour, to grant her request, and
when that was accomplished, she wished to say farewell and leave.

But then the other would not, for she said angrily that it was she
who had brought her neighbour, and for whom the meeting was primarily
intended, and she ought to have a bigger share than the other, and that
she would not leave unless she had another “truss of oats.”

The Canon was much alarmed when he heard this, and, although he begged
the woman who wanted the extra turn not to insist, she would not be
satisfied.

“Well,” he said, “I am content, since it needs must be; but never come
back under similar conditions--I shall be out of town.”

When the battle was over, the damsel who had had an additional turn,
when she took leave, asked the canon to give her something as a
keepsake.

Without waiting to be too much importuned, and also to get rid of
them, the good canon handed them the remainder of a piece of stuff for
kerchiefs, which he gave them, and the “principal” received the gift,
and they said farewell.

“It is,” he said, “all that I can give you just now; so take it in good
part.”

They had not gone very far, and were in the street, when the neighbour,
who had had nothing more than one turn, told her companion that she
wanted her share of the gift.

“Very well,” said the other, “I have no objection. How much do you
want?”

“Need you ask that,” said she. “I am going to have half, and you the
same.”

“How dare you ask,” said the other, “more than you have earned? Have you
no shame? You know well that you only went once with the canon, and I
went twice, and, pardieu, it is not right that you should have as much
as I.”

“Pardieu! I will have as much as you,” said the second.

“Did I not do my duty as well as you?”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Is not once as good as ten times? And now that you know my will,
instead of standing here squabbling over a trifle, I recommend you to
give me my half, or you will soon see a fight. Do you think you can do
as you like with me?”

“Oh, indeed!” said the other, “will you try force? By God’s power you
shall only have what is right,--that is to say one third part--and I
will have the rest. Did I not have twice as much trouble as you?”

With that the other doubled up her fist and landed it in the face of
her companion, the one for whom the meeting had been first arranged,
who quickly returned the blow. In short they fought as though they would
have killed each other, and called one another foul names. When the
people in the street saw the fight between the two companions, who a
short while previously had been so friendly, they were much astonished,
and came and separated the combatants. Then the husbands were called,
and each asked his wife the cause of the quarrel. Each tried to make
the other in the wrong, without telling the real cause, and set their
husbands against each other so that they fought, and the sergeants came
and sent them to cool their heels in prison.

Justice intervened, and the two women were compelled to own that the
fight was about a piece of stuff for a kerchief. The Council, seeing
that the case did not concern them, sent it to the “King of the
Bordels”, because the women were his subjects. And during the affair the
poor husbands remained in gaol awaiting sentence, which, owing to the
infinite number of cases, is likely to remain unsettled for a long time.


*****



STORY THE NINETY-THIRD -- HOW A GOOD WIFE WENT ON A PILGRIMAGE. [93]

By Messire Timoleon Vignier.

_Of a good wife who pretended to her husband that she was going on
a pilgrimage, in order to find opportunity to be with her lover the
parish-clerk--with whom her husband found her; and of what he said and
did when he saw them doing you know what._


Whilst I have a good audience, let me relate a funny incident which
happened in the district of Hainault.

In a village there, lived a married woman, who loved the parish clerk
much more than she did her own husband, and in order to find means to be
with the clerk, she feigned to her husband that she owed a pilgrimage to
a certain saint, whose shrine was not far from there; which pilgrimage
she had vowed to make when she was in travail with her last child,
begging the saint that he would be content that she should go on a
certain day she named. The good, simple husband, who suspected nothing,
allowed her to go on this pilgrimage; and as he would have to remain
alone he told her to prepare both his dinner and supper before she left,
or else he would go and eat at the tavern.

She did as he ordered, and prepared a nice chicken and a piece of
mutton, and when all these preparations were complete, she told her
husband that everything was now ready, and that she was going to get
some holy water, and then leave.

She went to church, and the first man she met was the one she sought,
that is to say the clerk, to whom she told the news, that is to say how
she had been permitted to go on a pilgrimage for the whole day.

“And this is what will occur,” she said. “I am sure that as soon as I
am out of the house that he will go to the tavern, and not return until
late in the evening, for I know him of old; and so I should prefer to
remain in the house, whilst he is away, rather than go somewhere else.
Therefore you had better come to our house in half an hour, and I will
let you in by the back door, if my husband is not at home, and if he
should be, we will set out on our pilgrimage.”

She went home, and there she found her husband, at which she was not
best pleased.

“What! are you still here?” he asked.

“I am going to put on my shoes,” she said, “and then I shall not be long
before I start.”

She went to the shoemaker, and whilst she was having her shoes put on,
her husband passed in front of the cobbler’s house, with another man, a
neighbour, with whom he often went to the tavern.

She supposed that because he was accompanied by this neighbour that they
were going to the tavern; whereas he had no intention of the kind, but
was going to the market to find a comrade or two and bring them back to
dine with him, since he had a good dinner to offer them--that is to say
the chicken and the mutton.

Let us leave the husband to find his comrades, and return to the woman
who was having her shoes put on. As soon as that was completed, she
returned home as quickly as she could, where she found the scholar
wandering round the house, and said to him;

“My dear, we are the happiest people in the world, for I have seen
my husband go to the tavern, I am sure, for one of his neighbours was
leading him by the arm, and I know is not likely to let my man come
back, and therefore let us be joyful. We have the whole day, till night,
to ourselves. I have prepared a chicken, and a good piece of mutton,
and we will enjoy ourselves;” and without another word they entered
the house, but left the door ajar in order that the neighbours should
suspect nothing.

Let us now return to the husband, who had found a couple of boon
companions besides the one I have mentioned, and now brought them to his
house to devour the chicken, and drink some good Beaune wine--or better,
if they could get it.

When he came to the house, he entered first, and immediately saw our two
lovers, who were taking a sample of the good work they had to do. And
when he saw his wife with her legs in the air, he told her that she need
not have troubled to bother the cobbler about her shoes, since she was
going to make the pilgrimage in that way.

He called his companions, and said;

“Good sirs, just see how my wife looks after my interests. For fear
that she should wear out her new shoes, she is making the journey on her
back:--no other woman would have done that.”

He picked up the remainder of the fowl, and told her that she might
finish her pilgrimage; then closed the door and left her with her clerk,
without saying another word, and went off to the tavern. He was not
scolded when he came back, nor on the other occasions either that
he went there, because he had said little or nothing concerning the
pilgrimage which his wife had made at home with her lover, the parish
clerk.


*****



STORY THE NINETY-FOURTH -- DIFFICULT TO PLEASE.

     (*) There is no author’s name to this story in any of the
     editions.

_Of a curé who wore a short gown, like a gallant about to be married,
for which cause he was summoned before the Ordinary, and of the sentence
which was passed, and the defence he made, and the other tricks he
played afterwards--as you will plainly hear._


In Picardy, in the diocese of Therouenne, there lived about a year and
a half ago, in one of the large towns, a curé who aped the fashionable
youth of the time. He wore a short gown, and high boots, as was the
fashion at Court, and, in short, was as great a gallant as you would
see,--which gave no small offence to all good Churchmen.

The Ordinary of Therouenne--who is generally known as the “big devil”
 --was informed of the behaviour of this curé, and cited him to appear to
be punished, and ordered to change his method of dressing.

He appeared in his short gown, as though he cared little for the
Ordinary, or thinking, perhaps, that he was going to be let off for his
good looks, but this did not happen, for when he was before the judge,
the “promoter” related the case at full length, and demanded that these
clothes and other vanities should be forbidden him, and that he should
be condemned to pay certain fines.

The judge, seeing at a glance what sort of man our curé was, forbade
him, by all the penalties of canon law, to disguise himself in the way
he had done, and ordered that he was to wear long gowns and long hair,
and moreover, to pay a good sum of money.

The curé promised that he would do so, and never again be summoned for a
similar offence. He left the Court and returned to his cure, and as soon
as he came there, he called the draper and the tailor, and he had a gown
made which trailed three quarters of an ell on the ground; for he
told the tailor how he had been reproved for wearing a short gown, and
ordered to wear a long one.

He put on this long robe, and allowed his beard and hair to grow, and in
this habit performed his parochial duties, sang Mass, and did everything
that a priest has to do.

The promoter was soon informed that the curé behaved in a way not
compatible with good morals, whereupon a fresh summons was issued, and
the priest appeared in his long gown.

“What is this?” asked the judge when the curé appeared before him. “It
seems that you make fun of the statutes and ordinances of the Church!
Why do you not dress like the other priests? If it were not for some of
your friends I should send you to prison.”

“What, monseigneur!” said the curé. “Did you not order me to wear a long
gown, and long hair? Have I not done as I was commanded? Is not my gown
long enough? Is not my hair long? What do you wish me to do?”

“I wish,” said the judge, “and I command that your gown and hair should
be half long, neither too much nor too little, and for this great fault
that you have committed, I condemn you to pay a fine of ten pounds to
the Prosecutor, twenty pounds to the Chapter, and as much to the Bishop
of Therouenne for his charities.”

Our curé was much astonished, but there was nothing for it but
to comply. He took leave of the judge, and returned to his house,
considering how he should attire himself in order to obey the judge’s
sentence. He sent for the tailor, whom he ordered to make a gown as long
on one side as that we have mentioned, and, as short as the first one
on the other side, then he had himself shaved on one side only--that on
which the gown was short--and in this guise went about the streets, and
performed his sacred duties; and although he was told this was not right
of him, he paid no attention.

The Prosecutor was again informed, and cited him to appear a third
time. When he appeared, God knows how angry the judge was--he was almost
beside himself, and, could scarcely sit on the Bench when he saw the
curé dressed like a mummer. If the priest had been mulcted before he was
still more so this time, and was condemned to pay very heavy fines.

Then the curé, finding himself thus amerced in fines and amends, said to
the judge.

“With all due respect, it seems to me that I have obeyed your orders.
Hear what I have to say, and I will prove it.”

Then he covered his long beard with his hand, and said;

“If you like, I have no beard.” Then, covering the shaved side of his
face, he said, “If you like, I have a long beard. Is not that what you
ordered?”

The judge, seeing that he had to do with a joker, who was making fun of
him, sent for a barber and a tailor, and before all the public, had
the cure’s hair and beard dressed, and his gown cut to a proper and
reasonable length; then he sent him back to his cure where he conducted
himself properly--having learned the right manner at the expense of his
purse.


*****


[Illustration: 95.jpg The sore Finger cured.]



STORY THE NINETY-FIFTH -- THE SORE FINGER CURED. [95]

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of a monk who feigned to be very ill and in danger of death, that he
might obtain the favours of a certain young woman in the manner which is
described hereafter._


It is usually the case, thank God, that in many religious communities
there are certain good fellows who can play “base instruments”.

Apropos of this, there was formerly in a convent at Paris, a good
brother, a preacher, who was accustomed to visit his female neighbours.
One day his choice lighted on a very pretty woman, a near neighbour,
young, buxom, and spirited, and but recently married to a good fellow.

Master monk fell in love with her, and was always thinking and devising
ways and means by which he could compass his desires--which were, in
short, to do you know what. Now he decided, “That is what I’ll do.” Then
he changed his mind. So many plans came into his head that he could not
decide on any; but of one thing he was sure, and that was that words
alone would never seduce her from the paths of virtue. “For she is too
virtuous, and too prudent. I shall be obliged, if I want to gain my
ends, to gain them by cunning and deception.”

Now listen to the plan the rascal devised, and how he dishonestly
trapped the poor, little beast, and accomplished his immoral desires, as
he proposed.

He pretended one day to have a bad finger--that which is nearest to the
thumb, and is the first of the four on the right hand--and he wrapped it
in linen bandages, and anointed it with strong-smelling ointments.

He went about with it thus for a day or two, hanging about the church
porch, when he thought the aforesaid woman was coming, and God knows
what pain he pretended to suffer.

The silly wench looked on him with pity, and seeing by his face that he
appeared to be in great pain, she asked him what was the matter; and the
cunning fox pitched up a piteous tale.

The day passed, and on the morrow, about the hour of vespers, when the
good woman was at home alone, the patient came and sat by her, and acted
the sick man, that anyone who had seen him would have believed that he
was in great danger. Sometimes he would walk to the window, then back
again to the woman, and put on so many strange tricks that you would
have been astonished and deceived if you had seen him. And the poor
foolish girl, who pitied him so that the tears almost started from her
eyes, comforted him as best she could,

“Alas, Brother Aubrey, have you spoken to such and such physicians?”

“Yes, certainly, my dear,” he replied. “There is not a doctor or surgeon
in Paris who has not studied my case.”

“And what do they say? Will you have to suffer this pain for a long
time?”

“Alas! yes; until I die, unless God helps me; for there is but one
remedy for ray complaint, and I would rather die than reveal what
that is,--for it is very far from decent, and quite foreign to my holy
profession.”

“What?” cried the poor girl. “Then there is a remedy! Then is it not
very wrong and sinful of you to allow yourself to suffer thus? Truly it
seems so to me, for you are in danger of losing sense and understanding,
so sharp and terrible is the pain.”

“By God, very sharp and terrible it is,” said Brother Aubrey, “but
there!--God sent it; praised be His name. I willingly suffer and
bear all, and patiently await death, for that is the only remedy
indeed--excepting one I mentioned to you--which can cure me.”

“But what is that?”

“I told you that I should not dare to say what it is,--and even if I
were obliged to reveal what it is, I should never have the will or power
to put it in execution.”

“By St. Martin!” said the good woman, “it appears to me that you are
very wrong to talk like that. Pardieu! tell me what will cure you, and
I assure you that I will do my utmost to help you. Do not wilfully throw
away your life when help and succour can be brought. Tell me what it is,
and you will see that I will help you--I will, pardieu, though it should
cost me more than you imagine.” The monk, finding his neighbour was
willing to oblige him, after a great number of refusals and excuses,
which, for the sake of brevity, I omit, said in a low voice.

“Since you desire that I should tell you, I will obey. The doctors all
agreed that there was but one remedy for my complaint, and that was to
put my finger into the secret place of a clean and honest woman, and
keep it there for a certain length of time, and afterwards apply a
certain ointment of which they gave me the receipt. You hear what the
remedy is, and as I am by disposition naturally modest, I would rather
endure and suffer all my ills than breathe a word to a living soul. You
alone know of my sad lot, and that in spite of me.”

“Well!” said the good woman, “what I said I would do I will do. I will
willingly help to cure you, and am well pleased to be able to relieve
you of the terrible pain which torments you, and find you a place in
which you can put your sore finger.”

“May God repay you, damsel,” said the monk. “I should never have dared
to make the request, but since you are kind enough to help me, I shall
not be the cause of my own death. Let us go then, if it please you, to
some secret place where no one can see us.”

“It pleases me well,” she replied.

So she led him to a fair chamber, and closed the door, and laid upon the
bed, and the monk lifted up her clothes, and instead of the finger
of his hand, put something hard and stiff in the place. When he had
entered, she feeling that it was very big, said,

“How is it that your finger is so swollen? I never heard of anything
like it.”

“Truly,” he replied, “it is the disease which made it like that.”

“It is wonderful,” she said.

Whilst this talk was going on, master monk accomplished that for which
he had played the invalid so long. She when she felt--et cetera--asked
what that was, and he replied,

“It is the boil on my finger which has burst. I am cured I think--thank
God and you.”

“On my word I am pleased to hear it,” said the woman as she rose
from the bed. “If you are not quite cured, come back as often as you
like;--for to remove your pain there is nothing I would not do. And
another time do not be so modest when it is a question of recovering
your health.”


*****



STORY THE NINETY-SIXTH -- A GOOD DOG. [96]

_Of a foolish and rich village curé who buried his dog in the
church-yard; for which cause he was summoned before his Bishop, and
how he gave 60 gold crowns to the Bishop, and what the Bishop said to
him--which you will find related here._


Listen if you please to what happened the other day to a simple village
curé. This good curé had a dog which he had brought up, and which
surpassed every other dog in the country in fetching a stick out of the
water, or bringing a hat that his master had forgotten, and many other
tricks. In short, this wise and good dog excelled in everything, and his
master so loved him that he never tired of singing his praises.

At last, I know not how, whether he ate something that disagreed with
him, or whether he was too hot or too cold, the poor dog became very
ill, and died, and went straightway to wherever all good dogs do go.

What did the honest curé do? You must know that his vicarage adjoined
the church-yard, and when he saw his poor dog quit this world, he
thought so wise a beast ought not to be without a grave, so he dug
a hole near the door of his house, and in the church-yard, and there
buried his dog. I do not know if he gave the dog a monument and an
epitaph, I only know that the news of the good dog’s death spread over
the village, and at last reached the ears of the Bishop, together with
the report that his master had given him holy burial.

The curé was summoned to appear before the Bishop, who sent a sergeant
to fetch him.

“Alas!” said the curé, “what have I done, and why have I to appear
before the Bishop? I am much surprised at receiving this summons.”

“As for me,” said the sergeant, “I do not know what it is for, unless it
is because you buried your dog in the holy ground which is reserved for
the bodies of Christians.”

“Ah,” thought the curé to himself, “that must be it,” and it occurred
to him that he had done wrong, but he knew that he could easily escape
being put into prison, by paying a fine, for the Lord Bishop--God be
praised--was the most avaricious prelate in the Kingdom, and only kept
those about him who knew how to bring grist to the mill.

“At any rate I shall have to pay, and it may as well be soon as late.”

On the appointed day, he appeared before the Bishop, who immediately
delivered a long sermon about the sin of burying a dog in consecrated
ground, and enlarged on the offence so wonderfully that he made it
appear that the curé had done something worse than deny God; and at the
end he ordered the curé to be put in prison.

When the curé found that he was to be shut up in the stone box, he
demanded permission to be heard, and the Bishop gave him leave to speak.

You must know that there were a number of notable persons at this
convocation--the judge, the prosecutor, the secretaries, and notaries,
advocates, and procureurs, who were all much amused at this unusual case
of the poor curé who had buried his dog in consecrated ground.

The curé spoke briefly in his defence, to this effect.

“Truly, my Lord Bishop, if you had known my poor dog as well as I did,
you would not be surprised that I gave him Christian burial, for his
like was never seen;” and then he began to recount his doings.

“And as he was so good and wise when he was living, he was still more so
at his death; for he made a beautiful will, and, as he knew your poverty
and need, he left you fifty golden crowns, which I now bring you.”

So saying, he drew the money from his bosom and gave it to the Bishop,
who willingly received it, and greatly praised the good dog, and
approved of his will, and was glad to know that he had received
honourable sepulture.


*****


[Illustration: 97.jpg Bids and Biddings.]



STORY THE NINETY-SEVENTH -- BIDS AND BIDDINGS.

By Monseigneur De Launoy.

_Of a number of boon companions making good cheer and drinking at
a tavern, and how one of them had a quarrel with his wife when he
returned home, as you will hear._


A number of good fellows had once assembled to make good cheer at the
tavern and drink as much as they could. And when they had eaten and
drunk to God’s praise and _usque ad Hebreos_ (*), and had paid their
reckoning, some of them began to say, “How shall we be received by our
wives when we return home?” “God knows if we shall be excommunicated.”
 “They will pluck us by the beard.” “By Our Lady!” said one, “I am afraid
to go home.” “God help me! so am I,” said another. “I shall be sure
to hear a sermon for Passion Sunday.” “Would to God that my wife were
dumb--I should drink more boldly than I do now.”

     (*) A pun on the word _ebreos_ (drunken).

So spoke all of them with one exception, and that was a good fellow who
said,

“How now, good sirs? You all seem every miserable, and each has a wife
who forbids him to go to the tavern, and is displeased if you drink.
Thank God my wife is not one of that sort, for if I drink ten--or even
a hundred-times a day that is not enough for her,--in short I never knew
an instance in which she did not wish I had drunk as much again. For,
when I come back from the tavern she always wishes that I had the rest
of the barrel in my belly, and the barrel along with it. Is not that a
sign that I do not drink enough to please her?”

When his companions heard this argument they began to laugh, and all
praised his wife, and then each one went his own way.

The good fellow we have mentioned, went home, where he found his wife
not over friendly, and ready to scold him; and as soon as she saw him
she began the usual lecture, and, as usual, she wished the rest of the
barrel in his belly.

“Thank you, my dear, you are always much kinder than all the other women
in the town for they all get wild if their husbands drink too much, but
you--may God repay you--always wish that I may have a good draught that
would last me all my days.”

“I don’t know that I wish that,” she said, “but I pray to God that you
may drink such a lot some day that you may burst.”

Whilst they were conversing thus affectionately, the soup-kettle on the
fire began to boil over, because the fire was too hot, and the good man,
who noticed that his wife did not take it off the fire, said;

“Don’t you see, wife, that the pot is boiling over?”

She was still angry and indignant, and replied;

“Yes, master, I see it.”

“Well then, take it off, confound you! Do as I bid you.”

“I will,” she replied, “I will bid twelve pence.” (*)

     (*) There is a pun in the French on the two meanings of the
     verb _hausser_,--“to raise” and to “augment” or “run up.”

“Oh, indeed, dame,” said he, “is that your reply? Take off that pot, in
God’s name!”

“Well!” she said. “I will put it at seven _sous_. Is that high enough?”

“Ha, ha!” he said. “By St. John that shall not pass without three blows
with a good stick.”

He picked up a thick stick, and laid it with all his might across her
back, saying as he did so,

“The lot is knocked down to you.”

She began to cry, and the neighbours all assembled and asked what was
the matter? The good man told them and they all laughed--except the
woman who had had the lot knocked down to her.


*****



STORY THE NINETY-EIGHTH -- THE UNFORTUNATE LOVERS.

By The Editor.

_Of a knight of this kingdom and his wife, who had a fair daughter aged
fifteen or sixteen. Her father would have married her to a rich old
knight, his neighbour, but she ran away with another knight, a young
man who loved her honourably; and, by strange mishap, they both died sad
deaths without having ever co-habited,--as you will hear shortly._


In the frontiers of France, there lived, amongst other nobles, a knight
who was rich and noble, not only by illustrious descent, but by his own
virtuous and honourable deeds, who had, by the wife he had married, an
only daughter, a very beautiful virgin, well-educated as her condition
required, and aged fifteen or sixteen years, or thereabouts.

This good and noble knight, seeing that his daughter was of a fit and
proper age for the holy sacrament of wedlock, much wished to give her
in marriage to a knight, his neighbour, who was powerful, not so much by
noble birth as by great possessions and riches, and was also from 60 to
80 years old, or thereabouts.

This wish so filled the head of the father of whom I spoke, that he
would not rest until formal promises were made between him and his
wife, the mother of the girl, and the aforesaid old knight, touching his
marriage to the girl, who, for her part, knew and suspected nothing of
all these arrangements, promises, and treaties.

Not far from the castle of the knight, the father of this damsel, there
lived another knight, a young man, valiant and brave, and moderately
rich, but not so rich as the old man of whom I spoke, and this youth was
greatly in love with the fair damsel. She also was much attached to him,
on account of his fame and great renown, and they often spoke to each
other, though with much trouble and difficulty, for her father, who
suspected their love, tried by all ways and means to prevent their
seeing each other. Nevertheless, he could not destroy the great and pure
love which united their hearts, and when fortune favoured them with an
opportunity, they discussed nothing but the means whereby they might
accomplish their whole and sole desire and marry each other.

The time approached when the damsel was to be given to the old knight,
and her father told her of the contract he had made, and named the day
on which she was to be married; at which she was greatly angered, but
thought to herself that she might find a way out of the difficulty.

She sent a message to her lover, the young knight, to tell him to come
to her secretly as soon as he could; and when he came she told him how
she was betrothed to the old knight, and asked her lover’s advice as to
how this marriage was to be broken off, for that she would never have
any other man but him.

The knight replied,

“My dearest lady, since of your kindness you offer me that which I
should never have dared to ask without great shame, I thank you humbly,
and if it be your will, I will tell you what we will do. We will appoint
a day for me to come to this town accompanied by many of my friends,
and at a given hour you will repair to a certain place, both of which we
will arrange now that I am alone with you. You will mount on my horse,
and I will conduct you to my castle. And then, if we can manage to
pacify your father and mother, we will fulfil our promises of plighted
troth.”

She replied that the plan was a good one, and she would carry it out
properly. She told him that on such a day, at such an hour, he would
find her at a certain place, and that she would do all that he had
arranged.

The appointed day arrived, and the young knight appeared at the place
mentioned, and there he found the lady, who mounted on his horse, and
they rode fast until they were far from there.

The good knight, fearing that he should fatigue his dearly beloved
mistress, slackened his speed, and spread his retainers on every road to
see that they were not followed, and he rode across the fields, without
keeping to any path or road, and as gently as he could, and charged his
servants that they should meet at a large village which he named, and
where he intended to stop and eat. This village was remote, and away
from the high road.

They rode until they came to this village, where the local _fête_ was
being held, which had brought together all sorts of people. They entered
the best tavern in the place, and at once demanded food and drink, for
it was late after dinner, and the damsel was much fatigued. A good fire
was made, and food prepared for the servants of the knight who had not
yet arrived.

Hardly had the knight and the lady entered the tavern than there came
four big swashbucklers--waggoners or drovers, or perhaps worse--who
noisily entered the tavern, and demanded where was the _bona roba_ that
some ruffian had brought there, riding behind him on his horse, for they
would drink with her, and amuse themselves with her.

The host who knew the knight well, and was aware that the rascals
spake not the truth, told them gently that the girl was not what they
imagined.

“Morbleu!” they replied; “if you do not bring her at once, we will
batter down the door, and bring her by force in spite of the two of
you.”

When the host heard this, and found that his explanation was no use,
he named the knight, who was renowned through all that district, but
unknown to many of the common people, because he had long been out of
the country, acquiring honour and renown in wars in distant countries.
The host told them also that the damsel was a young virgin, a relative
of the knight, and of noble parentage.

“You can, messieurs,” he said, “without danger to yourself or others,
quench your lust with many of the women who have come to the village on
the occasion of the _fête_ expressly for you and the like of you, and
for God’s sake leave in peace this noble damsel, and think of the great
danger that you run, the evil that you wish to commit and the small hope
that you have of success.”

“Drop your sermons,” shouted the rascals, inflamed with carnal lust,
“and bring her to us quietly; or if not we will cause a scandal, for we
will bring her down openly, and each of us four will do as he likes with
her.”

These speeches being finished, the good host went up to the chamber
where the knight and the damsel were, and called the knight apart, and
told him this news, which when he had heard, without being troubled
in the least, he went down wearing his sword, to talk to the four
swashbucklers, and asked them politely what they wanted?

And they, being foul-mouthed and abusive blackguards, replied that they
wanted the _bona roba_ that he kept shut up in his chamber, and that, if
he did not give her up quietly, they would take her from him by force.

“Fair sirs,” said the knight, “if you knew me well you would be aware
that I should not take about women of that sort. I have never done such
a folly, thank God. And even if I ever did--which God forbid--I
should never do it in this district, where I and all my people are well
known--my nobility and reputation would not suffer me to do it. This
damsel is a young virgin, a near relative, related also to a noble
house, and we are travelling for our pleasure, accompanied by my
servants, who although they are not here at present, will come directly,
and I am waiting for them. Moreover, do not flatter yourselves that I
should be such a coward as to let her be insulted, or suffer injury
of any kind; but I would protect and defend her as long as my strength
endured, and until I died.”

Before the knight had finished speaking, the villains interrupted him,
and in the first place denied that he was the person he said, because
he was alone, and that knight never travelled without a great number of
servants. Therefore they recommended him, if he were wise, to bring the
girl down, otherwise they would take her by force, whatever consequences
might ensue.

When this brave and valiant knight found that fair words were of no use,
and that force was the only remedy, he summoned up all his courage, and
resolved that the villains should not have the damsel, and that he was
ready to die in her defence.

At last one of the four advanced to knock with his bludgeon at the door
of the chamber, and the others followed him, and were bravely beaten
back by the knight. Then began a fight which lasted long, and although
the two parties were so unequally matched, the good knight vanquished
and repulsed the four villains, and as he pursued them to drive them
away, one of them, who had a sword, turned suddenly and plunged it in
the body of the knight, and pierced him through, so that he fell dead
at once, at which they were very glad. Then they compelled the host to
quietly bury the body in the garden of the inn.

When the good knight was dead, the villains came and knocked at the door
of the chamber where the damsel was impatiently awaiting the return of
her lover, and they pushed open the door.

As soon as she saw the brigands enter, she guessed that the knight was
dead, and said;

“Alas, where is my protector? Where is my sole refuge? What has become
of him? Why does he thus wound my heart and leave me here alone?”

The scoundrels, seeing that she was much troubled, thought to falsely
deceive her by fair words, and told her the knight had gone to another
house, and had commanded them to go to her and protect her; but she
would not believe them, for her heart told her that they had killed him.
She began to lament, and to cry more bitterly than ever.

“What is this?” they said. “Why all these tricks and manners? Do you
think we don’t know you? If you imagine your bully is still alive, you
are mistaken--we have rid the country of him. Therefore make your mind
up that we are all four going to enjoy you.” At these words one of them
advanced, and seized her roughly, saying that he would have her company.

When the poor damsel saw herself thus forced, and that she could not
soften their hearts, she said;

“Alas! sirs, since you will force me, and my humble prayers cannot
soften you, at least have this decency; that if I abandon myself to
you it shall be privately, that is to say each separately without the
presence of the others.”

They agreed to this, though with a bad grace, and then they made her
choose which of the four should first have her company. She chose the
one that she fancied was the mildest and best-tempered, but he was
the worst of all. The door was closed, and then the poor damsel threw
herself at the scoundrel’s feet, and with many piteous appeals, begged
that he would have pity on her. But he was obstinate, and declared that
he would have his will of her.

When she saw that he was so cruel, and that her prayers could not melt
him, she said.

“Well then, since so it must be, I am content; but I beg of you to close
the windows that we may be more secret.”

He willingly consented, and whilst he was closing them, she drew a
little knife that she wore at her girdle, and uttering one long, piteous
cry, she cut her throat, and gave up the ghost.

When the scoundrel saw her lying on the ground, he fled along with his
companions, and it is to be supposed that they were afterwards punished
according to their deserts.

Thus did these two sweet lovers end their days, one directly after the
other, without ever having tasted of the joys and pleasures in which
they hoped to have lived together all their days.


*****



STORY THE NINETY-NINTH -- THE METAMORPHOSIS. [99]

By The Editor.

_Relates how a Spanish Bishop, not being able to procure fish, ate
two partridges on a Friday, and how he told his servants that he had
converted them by his prayers into fish--as will more plainly be related
below._


If you wish, you shall hear now, before it is too late, a little story
about a brave Spanish Bishop who went to Rome to transact some business
for his master the King of Castille.

This brave prelate, whom I intend to make furnish this last story,
arrived one day at a little village in Lombardy, it being then early on
a Friday evening, and ordered his steward to have supper early, and to
go into the town and buy what he could, for he (the Bishop) was very
hungry, not having broken his fast all that day.

His servant obeyed him, and went to the market, and to all the
fishmongers in the town, to procure some fish, but, to make the story
short, not a single fish, in spite of all the efforts made by the
steward, could be found.

But, on returning to the inn, he met a countryman, who had two fine
partridges which he would sell very cheaply. The steward thought he
would secure them, and they would serve to make the Bishop a feast on
Sunday.

He bought them, a great bargain, and came to his master with the two
partridges in his hand, all alive, and fat, and plump, and told him of
his failure to get any fish, at which my Lord was not best pleased.

“And what can we have for supper?”

“My Lord,” replied the steward, “I will get them to prepare you eggs in
a hundred thousand different ways, and you can have apples and pears.
Our host has also some rich cheese. We will do our best; have patience,
a supper is soon over, and you shall fare better to-morrow, God willing.
We shall be in a town which is much better provided with fish than this,
and on Sunday you cannot fail to dine well, for here are two partridges
which are plump and succulent.”

The Bishop looked at the two partridges, and found them as the steward
said, plump, and in good condition, so he thought they would take the
place of the fish which he had lost. So he caused them to be killed and
prepared for the spit.

When the steward saw that his master wished to have them roasted, he was
astounded, and said to his master;

“My lord, it is well to kill them, but to roast them now for Sunday
seems a pity.”

But the steward lost his time, for, in spite of his remonstrances, they
were put on the spit and roasted.

The good prelate watched them cooking, and the poor steward was
scandalized, and did not know what to make of his master’s ill-ordered
appetite.

When the partridges were roasted, the table laid, the wine brought in,
eggs cooked in various ways, and served to a turn, the prelate seated
himself, said grace, and asked for the partridges, with mustard.

His steward wished to know what his master would do with these birds,
and brought them to him fresh from the fire, and emitting an odour
enough to make a friar’s mouth water.

The good Bishop attacked the partridges, and began to cut and eat with
such haste, that he did not give his squire, who came to carve for him,
sufficient time to lay his bread, and sharpen his knife.

When the steward saw his master eating the birds, he was so amazed that
he could no longer keep silent, and said to him;

“Oh, my lord, what are you doing? Are you a Jew or a Saracen, that you
do not keep Friday? By my faith, I am astonished at such doings.”

“Hold your tongue! Hold your tongue!” said the good prelate, who had
his hands and his beard covered with fat and gravy. “You are a fool,
and know not what you are saying. I am doing no harm. You know well and
believe, that by the words spoken by me and other priests, we make of
the host, which is nothing but flour and water, the precious body of
Jesus Christ. Can I not by the same means?--I who have seen so many
things at the court of Rome and many other places--know by what words
I may transform these partridges, which are flesh, into fish, although
they still retain the form of partridges? So indeed I have done. I have
long known how to do this. They were no sooner put to the fire than by
certain words I know, I so charmed them that I converted them into the
substance of fish, and you might--all of you who are here--eat, as I do,
without sin. But as you would still believe them to be flesh, they would
do you harm, so I alone will commit the sin.”

The steward and the other attendants began to laugh, and pretended to
believe the highly-coloured story that their master had told them, and
ever after that were up to the trick, and related it joyously in many
places.


*****


[Illustration: 100.jpg The chaste Lover.]



STORY THE HUNDREDTH AND LAST -- THE CHASTE LOVER.

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of a rich merchant of the city of Genoa, who married a fair damsel,
who owing to the absence of her husband, sent for a wise clerk--a young,
fit, and proper man--to help her to that of which she had need; and
of the fast that he caused her to make--as you will find more plainly
below._


In the powerful and well-populated city of Genoa, there, lived some
time ago, a merchant who was very rich, and whose business consisted
in sending much merchandise by sea to foreign lands, and especially to
Alexandria. So occupied was he with the management of his ships, and in
heaping up riches, that during all his days, from his tender youth till
the time that he was fifty years of age, he never cared or wanted to do
anything else.

When he had arrived at this last mentioned age, he began to think about
his condition, and to see that he had spent and employed all his days
and years in heaping up riches without ever having for a single minute
or moment been inclined to think of marrying and having children, to
whom the great wealth, that he had by great diligence and labour amassed
and acquired, would succeed. This thought caused him much mental sorrow,
and he was greatly vexed that he had thus spent his youth.

This grief and regret lasted many days, during which time it happened
that in the above-named city, the young children, after they had
solemnized some festival, did as they were accustomed each year, and
variously apparelled and disguised, some this way and some that, came in
great numbers to the place where the public rejoicings of the city are
usually held, to play in the presence of their fathers and mothers, and
to have their costumes praised and admired.

At this assembly was our merchant, still moody and vexed, and the
sight of so many fathers and mothers taking pleasure in watching their
children dance and sport, increased the grief that was preying on his
mind, and, unable to watch them any longer, he returned to his house,
sad and vexed, and retired to his lonely chamber, where he remained some
time, uttering complaints of this kind;

“Ah, poor, miserable, old man that I am and always have been, and for
whom fate and destiny are hard, bitter, and unpleasant. Oh, wretched
man! worn out and weary by watching and work, suffered and borne by
land and sea. Your great riches and heaped-up treasures, which with
many perilous adventures, hard work, and sweat you have amassed, and for
which you have expended all your time, are but vain, for you have never
thought who will possess them, and to whom by human law you should leave
your memory and your name when you are dead and gone. Oh, wicked man,
how could you have been careless of that of which you should have taken
most heed? Marriage never pleased you, and you always feared and refused
it, and even disliked and scorned the good and just counsels of those
who would have found you a wife, in order that you might have offspring
who would perpetuate your name, your praise, and your renown. Oh, how
happy are those parents who leave good and wise children to succeed
them! How many fathers have I seen to-day playing with their children,
who would call themselves most happy, and think they had well employed
their time, if, after their decease, they could leave their children but
one small part of the great wealth that I possess! But what pleasure and
solace can I ever have? What name or fame shall I leave after my death?
Where is the son who will cherish my memory when I am dead? Blessed be
that holy condition of marriage by which the memory and recollection of
fathers is preserved, and by which fiefs, possessions, and heritages are
permanently secured to their happy children!”

When the good merchant had thus argued to himself for a long time, he
suddenly thought of a remedy for his misfortunes, saying;

“Well, I am in future determined, notwithstanding the number of my
years, not to trouble or torment myself with grief, or remorse. At the
worst I have but been like the birds, which prepare their nests before
they begin to lay their eggs. I have, thank God, riches sufficient for
myself, wife, and many children, if it should happen that I have any,
nor am I so old, or so devoid of natural vigour, as to lose hope of even
having any offspring. What I have to do is to watch and work, and use
every endeavour to discover where I shall find a wife fit and proper for
me.”

Having finished his soliloquy, he left his chamber, and sent for two of
his comrades--merchant-mariners like himself,--and to them he plainly
stated his case, and requested them to help to find him a wife, for that
was the thing he most desired in the world.

The two merchants, having heard what their comrade had to say, much
applauded his determination, and undertook to make all possible
endeavours to find him a wife.

Whilst they were making enquiries, our merchant,--as hot to get married
as he could be--played the gallant, and sought throughout the city all
the youngest and prettiest girls--to the others he paid small heed.

He searched so well that he found one such as he required,--born
of honest parents, marvellously beautiful, aged only fifteen or
thereabouts, gentle, good-tempered, and well brought up in every
respect.

As soon as he knew her virtues and good qualities, he felt such
affection and desire that she should be his lawful wife, that he
asked her hand of her parents and friends; which, after some slight
difficulties that were quickly removed, was given, and the same hour
they were betrothed, and security given by him for the dower he was to
bestow upon her.

If the good merchant had taken pride and pleasure in his merchandise
during the time that he was amassing a fortune, he felt still more when
he saw himself certain of being married, and that to a wife by whom he
could have fine children.

The wedding was honourably celebrated, with all due pomp, and that feast
being over and finished, he forgot all about his former life,--that is
to say on the sea--but lived happily and in great pleasure with his fair
and fond wife.

But this way of life did not last long, for he soon became tired and
bored, and before the first year had expired took a dislike to living at
home in idleness and a humdrum domestic existence, and pined for his
old business of merchant-mariner, which seemed to him easier and more
pleasant than that which he had so willingly undertaken to manage night
and day.

He did nothing but devise how he could get to Alexandria, as he used in
the old days, and it seemed to him that it was not only difficult but
impossible for him to abstain from going to sea. Yet though he firmly
resolved to return to his old profession, he concealed his intention
from his wife, fearing that she might be displeased.

There were also fears and doubts which disturbed him, and prevented him
from executing his designs, for he knew the youth and character of his
wife, and he felt sure that if he were absent she would not be able to
control herself; and he considered also the mutability and variability
of the feminine character, and that the young gallants were accustomed
to pass in front of his house to see his wife, even when he was at
home,--whence he imagined that in his absence they might come closer,
and peradventure even take his place.

For a long time he was tormented by these difficulties and suspicions
without saying a word but as he knew that he had lived the best part of
his life, he now cared little for wife, marriage, and all that concerned
domestic life, and to the arguments and theories which filled his head,
provided a speedy solution by saying;--

“It is better to live than to die, and, if I do not quit my household
very shortly, it is very certain that I shall not live. But then, shall
I leave my fair and affectionate wife? Yes, I will leave her;--she
shall henceforth manage for herself as she pleases; it will no longer
be incumbent on me. Alas, what shall I do? What a dishonour, what
an annoyance it would be for me if she did not continue to guard her
chastity. Ah, yes, it is better to live than to die, that I may be able
to look after her! But God cannot wish that I should take such care
and pains about a woman’s belly without any pay or reward, and receive
nothing in return but torture of soul and body. I will not bear all the
trouble and anguish of mind that many suffer in living with their wives.
It angers me and saddens me to think that God only permits me to live
to enjoy the trifling incidents of married life. I want full liberty and
freedom to do what I please.”

When the good merchant had finished these sage reflections, he went and
found some of his old comrades, and told them that he wished to visit
Alexandria with a cargo of merchandise, as he had often previously done
in their company,--but he did not tell them of the trouble and anxiety
which his married life caused him.

He soon made all arrangements with them, and they told him to be ready
to start when the first fair wind came. The sailors and cargo were soon
ready, and awaited in a safe place, a fair wind to start.

The good merchant, still firm in his determination, as on the previous
days, found his wife alone in her chamber, and that she should not be
sad at his departure, addressed her in these words.

“My dearest wife, whom I love better than my life, I beg of you to be
of good heart, and show yourself joyful, and be not sad or cast down at
what I am about to say to you. I propose--if it be God’s pleasure--to
once more visit Alexandria, as I have long been in the habit of doing;
and it seems to me that you should not be vexed thereat, seeing that
you are aware that that is my business and profession, by which I have
acquired riches, houses, name, and fame, and many good friends. The
handsome and rich ornaments, rings, garments, and other things with
which you are apparelled and ornamented as is no other woman in the
city, as you well know, I have acquired by the profit I have made on my
merchandise. This journey of mine therefore should not trouble you,
for I shall shortly return. And I promise you that if this time,--as I
hope,--Fortune should smile upon me, never will I return there again,
but this time will take leave of it for ever. You must therefore be
of good courage, and I will leave in your hands the disposition,
administration, and management of all the goods which I possess; but
before I leave I have some requests to make of you.

“The first is, I beg of you to be happy whilst I am on my voyage, and
live comfortably; for if I know that such is the case I shall have
greater pleasure in my voyage. For the second, you know that nothing
should be hidden or concealed between us two, and all honour, profit,
and renown should be--as I know they are--common to both of us, and
the praise and honour of the one cannot exist without the glory of the
other, and similarly the dishonour of the one would be the shame of us
both. I wish you to understand that I am not so devoid of sense that I
am not aware that I leave you young, beautiful, kind, fresh, and tender,
and without the consolation of a husband; and that many men will desire
you. And although I firmly believe that you are now fully resolved,
nevertheless, when I think of your age and inclinations and the warmth
of your desires, it does not seem possible to me that you should not,
out of pure necessity and compulsion, enjoy the company of a man during
my absence. It is my will and pleasure therefore to permit you to grant
those favours which nature compels you to grant. I would beg of you
though to respect our marriage vow unbroken as long as you possibly can.
I neither intend nor wish to leave you in the charge of any person, but
leave you to be your own guardian. Truly, there is no duenna, however
watchful, who can prevent a woman from doing what she wishes. When
therefore your desires shall prick and spur you on, I would beg you, my
dear wife, to act with such circumspection in their execution that they
may not be publicly known,--for if you do otherwise, you, and I, and all
our friends will be infamous and dishonoured.

“If then you cannot remain chaste, at least take pains to retain your
reputation. I will teach you how that is to be done, if the need should
arise. You know that in our good city there are plenty of handsome
men. From amongst these choose one only, and be content to do with him
whatever nature may incline you to do. At all events, I wish that in
making your choice you should take particular care that he is not a
vagabond, or dishonest, or disreputable person, for great dangers might
arise from your acquaintance with such a person, inasmuch as he would,
without doubt publish your secret.

“You will select one therefore who is, you are sure, both wise and
prudent, and who will take as much pains to conceal your amour as you do
yourself. This I beg of you, and that you will promise me honestly and
loyally to remember this lesson. I do not advise you to reply in the way
that other women are accustomed to when similar proposals are made
to them. I know what they would say, which would be somewhat to this
effect. ‘Oh, husband! what do you mean by speaking like that? How could
you have such a cruel, unjust opinion of me? How can you imagine that I
should commit such an abominable crime? No! no! God forbid that I should
make you such a promise. I will rather wish that the earth may open and
swallow me up alive the day and hour--I will not say commit--but even
think of committing such a sin.

“My dear wife, I have shown you this way of replying in order that you
may not use the same to me. I firmly and truly believe that at the
present moment you are fully determined to remain chaste, and I desire
you to remain of that opinion as long as nature will permit you. And
understand that I do not wish you to break your vows unless you are
unable to battle against the appetites of your frail and weak youth.”

When the good merchant had finished his speech, his fair, kind, and
gentle wife, her face all suffused with blushes, trembled, and could not
for some moments reply to what her husband had said. Soon her blushes
vanished, her confidence returned, and calling up all her courage, she
replied in these words;

“My kind, and greatly beloved husband, I assure you that never have I
been so disturbed and troubled by any speech I have ever heard, as I
am now by your words, by which I learn something that I never heard or
guessed. You know my simplicity, youth, and innocence, and you say that
it is not possible at my age to avoid committing such a fault, and that
you are sure and know positively that when you are away I shall not be
able to preserve our marriage vow in its integrity. That speech greatly
vexed my heart, and made me tremble, and I do not know how I can reply
to your arguments. You have deprived me of the reply I should have made,
but I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that with joined hands I
beg most humbly of God that he may cause an abyss to open in which I may
be thrown, that my limbs may be torn off, and that I may suffer a most
cruel death, if ever the day comes when I shall not only be disloyal to
our marriage vow, but even think for a brief moment of being disloyal.
How, and in what manner I could be brought to commit such a crime, I am
unable to comprehend. And as you have forbidden me to reply as I should,
telling me that women are accustomed to make elusive and false excuses,
I will to give you pleasure, and allay your suspicions, and that you
may see that I am ready to obey and keep your commands, promise you this
moment with firm and immutable faith and constancy, to await the day
of your return in true, pure, and entire chastity of body, and may God
forbid that the contrary should happen. Be fully assured that I will
obey your orders in every respect. If there is anything else you wish
or command, I beg of you to inform me, and I will perform your will (I
desire nothing else) and not my own.”

Our merchant, when he heard his wife’s reply, was so overjoyed that he
could not refrain from weeping, and said:

“My dearest spouse, since you have of your great kindness given me the
promise that I required, I beg of you to keep it.”

The following morning, the good merchant was sent for by his comrades to
put to sea. So he took leave of his wife, and commended her to the care
of God. Then he put to sea to sail to Alexandria where they arrived in
a few days, the wind being favourable, at which place they stayed a long
time both to deliver their merchandise and take in fresh cargoes.

During this time the gracious damsel of whom I have spoken remained in
the house with, as her only companion, a little girl who served her. As
I have said, this fair damsel was but fifteen years of age, therefore
any fault that she committed must be imputed, not to a vicious
character, but to youth and inexperience.

When the merchant had been absent many days, little by little she
began to forget him. As soon as the young men of the city knew of his
departure, they came to visit her. At first she would neither leave the
house nor show herself, but as they continued to come daily, she, on
account of the great pleasure she took in sweet and melodious songs and
harmonies of all instruments, which they played outside her door, peeped
through the crevices of the windows and the trellis so that she could
see the musicians, and they for their part were quite willing to be
seen.

In hearing these songs and dances she took so much pleasure, that her
mind was filled with love, and the natural warmth of her affections
often tempted her to incontinence. So often was she visited in this
manner, that in the end her concupiscence and carnal desires conquered,
and she was fairly hit by the dart of love. She often thought how easy
it was for her to find time and place for any lover, for no one guarded
her, and no one could prevent her putting her designs in execution, and
she came to the conclusion that her husband was very wise when he said
he was positive that she could not preserve continence and chastity,
although she wished to keep the promise she had made to him.

“It is right then,” she said to herself, “for me to follow my husband’s
advice; by doing which I shall incur no dishonour, since he himself
gave me permission, and I shall not violate the promise I made him.
I remember rightly that he charged me that if ever I broke my vow of
chastity, that I should choose a man who was wise, of good fame, and
great virtues, and no other. That is what I will really do, as I may
without disobeying my husband’s instructions, and by following his good
advice which was ample for my purpose. I suppose that he did not intend
that the man should be old, and it seems to me that he should be young,
but having as good a reputation for learning and science as any old man.
Such was my husband’s advice, I remember.”

At the same time that the damsel was making these reflections, and was
searching for a wise and prudent, young man to cool her bowels, there
fortunately arrived in the city a very wise young clerk, who had newly
arrived from the university of Bologna, where he had been several years
without once returning to his native city. Such attention had he given
to his studies that there was not in all the country a clerk who enjoyed
such a reputation amongst the learned men of the city, whom he assisted
continually.

He was accustomed to go every day to the Town Hall on the market-place,
and was obliged to pass before the house of the said damsel, who was
much struck by his appearance and pleasant manners. And although he had
never filled any clerical office, she came to the conclusion that he
was a very learned clerk, and fell deeply in love with him, saying to
herself that he would be the man to guard her husband’s secret; but
how she was to inform him of her great and ardent love, and reveal the
secret desires of her mind she knew not,--at which she was much vexed.

She bethought herself that as every day he passed before her house on
his way to the market place, that she would be upon her balcony, dressed
as handsomely as possible, in order that when he passed he might notice
her beauty, and so be led to desire those favours which would not be
refused him.

Many times did the damsel so show herself, although that had not
previously been her custom, and though she was pleasant to gaze upon,
and her youthful mind was filled with thoughts of love, the wise clerk
never perceived her, for in walking he glanced neither to the right nor
left.

This plan of the damsel’s was not as successful as she imagined it would
be. She was very sorrowful, and the more she thought of the clerk, the
more ardent did her desires become. At last, after a number of plans had
suggested themselves to her, and which for the sake of brevity I pass
over, she determined to send her little servant-maid to him. So she
called her, and ordered her to go and ask for such-an-one,--that is to
say, the learned clerk--and when she had found him, to tell him to come
in haste to the house of such a damsel, the wife of so-and-so; and if he
should ask what the damsel wanted, she was to reply that she knew not,
but only knew that he was urgently required to come at once.

The little girl learned her message, and went forth to seek him; and she
was soon shown a house where he was at dinner with a great company of
his friends, and other people of high degree.

The girl entered the house, and saluting all the company, asked for the
clerk, and delivered her message properly. The good clerk, who had been
acquainted since his youth with the merchant of whom the girl spoke, and
knew his house as he did his own, but was not aware that he was married
or who was his wife, imagined that during the husband’s absence, the
wife had need of advice on some weighty matter, for he knew that the
husband was away, and had no suspicion of the cause of his invitation.
He said to the girl;

“My dear, go and tell your mistress that as soon as dinner is over I
will come to her.”

The messenger duly delivered these words, and God knows how she was
received by her mistress. When she heard that the clerk, her lover,
would come, she was more joyful than ever woman was, and owing to the
great joy she felt at having the clerk in the house, she trembled and
did not know what to do. She caused the house to be well swept, and fair
herbage to be spread in her chamber, covered the bed and the couch with
rich tapestry and embroidery, and dressed and adorned herself with her
most precious belongings.

Then she waited a little time, which seemed to her marvellous long on
account of the great desire she had, and so impatient was she for his
arrival, and that she might perceive him coming afar off, she went up to
her chamber and then came down again, and went now hither, now thither,
and was so excited that it seemed as though she were out of her senses.

At last she went up to her chamber, and there laid out all the riches
and delicacies that she had prepared to feast her lover. She made the
little servant-maid stay below to let the clerk in, and conduct him to
her mistress.

When he arrived, the servant-maid received him, and let him in and
closed the door, leaving his servants outside, whom she told that they
were to await their master’s return.

The damsel, hearing that her lover had arrived, could not refrain from
running down stairs to meet him, and she saluted him politely. Then she
took his hand and led him to the chamber which she had prepared. He
was much astonished when he arrived there, not only by the diversity of
splendours that he saw, but also by the great beauty of the fair girl
who conducted him.

As soon as they were in the chamber, she sat down on a stool by the
couch, and made him sit on another by her side, and there they both sat
for a certain time, without saying a word, for each waited for the other
to speak, though in very different ways, for the clerk imagined that the
damsel would consult him on some great and difficult matter, and wished
her to begin; whilst she, on the other hand, knowing how wise and
prudent he was, believed that he would know why he had been sent for
without her telling him.

When she saw that he made no attempt to speak, she began, and said;

“My very dear and true friend, and learned man, I will tell you at once
why I have sent for you. I believe that you are well-acquainted and
familiar with my husband. He has left me, in the condition you now see
me, whilst he goes to Alexandria to bring back merchandise, as he has
long been used. Before his departure, he told me that when he was away,
he was sure that my weak and fragile nature would cause me to lose my
chastity, and that necessity would compel me to have intercourse with
a man to quench the natural longings I should be sure to feel after
his departure. And truly I deem him a very wise man, for that which I
thought impossible I find has happened, for my youth, beauty, and nature
rebel against wasting away in vain. That you may understand me plainly
I will tell you that my wise and thoughtful husband when he left, knew
that as all young and tender plants dry and wither when they cannot
fulfil the needs of their nature, so it was likely to be with me.
And seeing clearly that my nature and constitution were likely to be
controlled by my natural desires, which I could not long resist, he made
me swear and promise that, if nature should force me to become unchaste,
I would choose a wise man of good position, who would carefully guard
our secret. I do not think there is in all the city a man more worthy
than yourself, for you are young and very wise. I do not suppose then
that you will refuse me or repel me. You see me as I am, and you may,
during the absence of my husband, supply his place if you wish, and
without the knowledge of any one; place, time, and opportunity all
favour us.”

The gentleman was much surprised and moved at what the lady said, but
he concealed his emotion. He took her right hand and with a smiling face
addressed her in these words:

“I ought to render infinite thanks to Dame Fortune, who has to-day given
me so much pleasure, and the attainment of the greatest happiness
I could have in this world; never in my life will I call myself
unfortunate, since Fortune has granted me this great favour. I may
certainly say that I am to-day the happiest of men, for when I consider,
my beautiful and kind mistress, how we may joyously pass our days
together, without any person’s knowledge or interference, I almost faint
with joy. Where is the man more favoured by Fortune than I am? If it
were not for one thing which forms a slight obstacle to our love affair,
I should be the luckiest man on earth, and I am greatly vexed and
annoyed that I cannot overcome that difficulty.”

When the damsel, who had never imagined that any difficulty could arise,
heard that there was an obstacle which would prevent her indulging her
passions, she was very sad and sorrowful, and begged him to say what it
was, in order that she might find a remedy if possible.

“The obstacle,” he said, “is not so great that it cannot be removed in a
little time, and, since you are kind enough to wish to know what it is,
I will tell you. When I was studying at the University of Bologna,
the people of the city rose in insurrection against their ruler. I was
accused, along with some others, my companions, of having stirred up
this insurrection, and I was closely imprisoned. When I found myself in
prison, and in danger of losing my life, though I knew I was innocent, I
made a vow to God, promising that if He would deliver me from prison and
restore me to my friends and relations in this city, I would, for love
of Him, fast for a whole year on bread and water, and during that fast
would not allow my body to sin. Now I have, by His aid, accomplished
the greater part of the year and but little remains. I would beg of you
therefore, since it is your pleasure to choose me as your lover, not to
change again for any man in the world, and not to fret over the little
delay that is necessary for me to accomplish my fast, and which is now
but a very short time, and would have been long since over if I had
dared to confide in some one else who could help me, for any days that
others will fast for me are counted as though I fasted myself. And as I
perceive the great love and confidence you have for me, I will, if you
wish, place a trust in you that I have never put in my brothers, nor
my friends, nor relations. I will ask you to help me with the remaining
part of the fast to accomplish the year, that I may the sooner aid you
in the matter you have desired of me. My kind friend, I have but sixty
days to fast, which--if it is your will and pleasure--I will divide in
two parts, of which you shall have one and I will have the other, on
condition that you promise to perform your part honestly and without
fraud, and when all is completed, we will pass our days pleasantly. If
therefore, you are willing to help me in the manner I have said, tell me
at once.”

It is to be supposed that this long delay was hardly pleasing to the
young woman, but as her lover had asked her so kindly, and also because
she wished the fast to be finished, that she might accomplish her
desires with her lover, and thinking also that thirty days would not
much interfere with her intentions, she promised to perform her share
without fraud, deception, or imposition.

The good gentleman, seeing that he had won his case and that his affairs
were prospering, took leave of the damsel, (who suspected no harm) and
told her that as it was on his road from his home to the market-place to
pass by her house, he would, without fail, often come and visit her, and
so he departed.

The fair damsel began the next day her fast, making a rule for herself
that during all the time of the fast she would eat nothing but bread and
water until the sun had set.

When she had fasted three days, the wise clerk, as he was going to the
market-place at the accustomed time, called upon the lady, with whom he
talked long, and then, as he was saying farewell, asked her if she had
commenced the fast? She replied she had.

“Can you continue,” he said, “and keep your promise until all is
finished?”

“I can entirely,” she replied; “do not fear.”

He took leave and departed, and she went on from day to day with her
fast, and kept her vow as she had promised, such being her good-nature.
Before she had fasted eight days, her natural heat began to decrease so
much that she was forced to change her clothes and put on furs and thick
garments, which are usually only worn in winter, instead of the light
robes which she wore before she began the fast.

On the fifteenth day, she received a visit from her lover, who found
her so weak that she could hardly move about the house, but the poor
simpleton was firmly resolved not to practise any trickery, so deeply
in love was she, and so firmly resolved to persevere with this fast,
for the sake of the joys and pleasant delights which awaited her at the
termination.

The clerk, when he entered the house, and saw her so feeble, said;

“What kind of face is that, and how is your health? Now I see that you
are sorry you undertook this long fast! Ah, my sweetest love! have a
firm and constant mind. We have to-day achieved the half of our task: if
your nature is weak, conquer it by firmness and constancy of heart, and
do not break your faithful promise.”

He admonished her so kindly, that she took courage, so that it seemed to
her that the remaining fifteen days would hardly be noticed.

The twentieth came, and the poor simpleton had lost all colour and
seemed half dead, and felt no more desires of concupiscence than if she
had been really dead. She was obliged to take to her bed and continually
remain there, and then, it occurred to her mind that the clerk had
caused her to fast to punish her carnal appetites, and she came to the
conclusion that his methods were ingenious and effective, and would not
have been thought of by a less clever and good man.

Nevertheless, she was not less resolved to go on to the ead, and
thoroughly fulfil her promise.

On the last day but one of the fast, she sent for the clerk, who, when
he saw her in bed asked her if she had lost courage now that there was
only one day more to run?

But she, interrupting him, replied;

“Ah, my good friend, you loved me with a true and perfect love, and not
dishonourably, as I dared to love you. Therefore I shall esteem you, as
long as God gives life to me and to you, as my dearest and best friend,
who protected, and taught me to protect, my chastity, and the honour and
good name, of me, my husband, my relatives, and my friends. Blessed also
be my dear husband, whose advice and counsels I have kept, to the great
solace of my heart. But for you, my friend, I render you such thanks as
I may, for your honourable conduct and your great kindness to me, for
which I can never sufficiently requite you, nor can my friends.”

The good and wise clerk, seeing that he had achieved his object, took
leave of the fair damsel, and gently admonished her and advised her that
she should in future correct her body by abstinence and fasting whenever
she felt any prickings of lust. By which means she lived chastely until
the return of her husband, who knew nothing of the matter, for she
concealed it from him--and so also did the clerk.

THE END.


[Illustration: footnotes.jpg  Footnotes]


NOTES.


[Footnote 1: This story is taken from an old _fabliau_ entitled _Les
Deux Changeurs_, and has been copied by Malespini, Straparolla, and
other Italian writers. Brantôme, in _Les Dames Galantes_, records that,
“Louis, Duc d’Orléans was a great seducer of Court ladies, and always
the greatest. A beautiful and noble lady was sleeping with him when
her husband came into the chamber to wish the Duke good-day. The Duke
covered the lady’s head with the sheet, and uncovered the rest of her
body, and allowed the husband to look and touch as much as he liked, but
forbade him, as he valued his life, to uncover her head--And the best of
it was, that the next night, the husband being in bed with his wife told
her that the Duke had shown him the most beautiful naked woman that ever
he saw, but as to her face he could not report, being forbidden to
see it. I leave you to imagine what his wife thought!” The lady
was,--scandal averred--Mariette d’Enghien, the mother of the brave and
handsome Comte de Dunois, known in French history as “the bastard of
Orléans.” In the M. S. discovered by Mr. Thomas Wright in the Hunterian
Library at Glasgow, this story is ascribed to “Monseigneur le Duc,” as
is also the following one.]



[Footnote 3: Taken from the _Facetiae_ of Poggio. It has been imitated
by Straparolo, Malespini--whom it will be unnecessary to mention each
time as he has copied the whole of the _Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles_ with
hardly one exception--Estienne (_Apologie pour Hérodote_) La Fontaine
(_Contes_, lib II, conte II) and others.

Monseigneur de la Roche, the author of the story, was Chamberlain to the
Duke of Burgundy, at a salary of 36 _sols_ per month. He was one of the
wisest councillors of Philippe le Bel and Charles le Téméraire, and
after the death of the latter was created Grand Seneschal of Burgundy.
He died about 1498. He was one of the most prolific of all the
contributors to the _Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles_, and related Nos 3, 8,
10, 12, 15, 18, 36, 37, 41, 44, 45, 47, 48, and 52.]



[Footnote 4: This and the three following stories are all original.]



[Footnote 5: An interesting anecdote of the “warlike and martial
Talbot.” Philippe de Laon was “squire of the stables” to the Duke of
Burgundy in 1461. He contributed also Nos. 20, 21, 66, 67, 74, and 76.]



[Footnote 6: Jean de Lanoy (Launoy, in Vérard’s 1st ed.) created a
knight of the Golden Fleece in 1451; an officer of the household of
the D. of Burgundy. Louis XI, on his accession, created him Governor
of Lille, and Bailli of Amiens, and sent him on a secret mission to the
King of England. Charles le Téméraire, indignant with Lanoy for having
gone over to his enemy, confiscated all his possessions in Brabant.
After the death of Charles, Lanoy went back to Burgundy, and took an
important share in the political events of the time. In some editions
stories Nos 82, and 92 are ascribed to him; in others, the one is by
Jehan Marten, and the other by “the Editor.”]



[Footnote 8: Taken from Poggio (_Repensa merces_). Has been imitated by
La Fontaine (_Contes_ lib III, conte V.)]



[Footnote 9: An old story which forms the subject of a “fable”
 by Enguerrand d’Oisi (_Le Meunier d’Aleu_) also used by Boccaccio
(Decameron 8th Day, 4th Story) and Poggio. Has since been imitated by
Margaret of Navarre (story VIII) Boucher, Chapuys, and La Fortaine (_les
Quiproquos_).]



[Footnote 10: So far as I am aware, this story first appeared in _Les
Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles_. It was subsequently imitated by the Author of
_Les Joyeuses Adventures_, and La Fontaine (_Contes_ lib I. _conte_ XII.)]



[Footnote 11: Taken from Poggio; afterwards used by Rabelais as “Hans
Carvel’s Ring”, _Pantagruel_, lib 3, chap 28.]



[Footnote 12: The story is found in Poggio and the _Cente Nouvelle
Antiche_. There have been many modern imitations, culminating in La
Fontaine (_Contes_, lib 2. conte XII).]



[Footnote 13: By Jean d’Enghien, Sieur de Kessergat, an official at
the Court of Burgundy, and also “Amant” or keeper of the Archives at
Brussels. See also No. 53.]



[Footnote 14: Can be traced back to Josephus (_History of the Jews_ lib
XVIII. chap XIII.) Also found in Boccaccio, La Fontaine, and Marmontel
(_La Mari sylphe_).

Jean de Crequy was a knight of the Golden Fleece, and one of the twelve
nobles who carried the Duke’s body at the funeral of Philippe le Bel.
This is the only story he contributed.]



[Footnote 16: A very old story, probably of Eastern origin. It has been
used by many story-tellers and is found in Boccaccio (_Dec_. day VII,
story VI) the _Gesta Romanorum_, and in several of the collections of
fabliaux. As for the versions of later date than the _Cent Nouvelles
Nouvelles_, they are still more numerous. At least four of the followers
of Boccaccio, also Marguerite of Navarre (_Heptameron_), Estienne
(_Apologie pour Hérodote_) and several others have used it, to my
knowledge.]



[Footnote 18: Found in Boccaccio, Poggio, and several of the _fabliaux_.
Copied several times during the 17th and 18th centuries, French writers
apparently thinking that “the gentleman of Burgundy” acted up to his
title, and was not a mean and contemptible scoundrel as most Englishmen
would deem him.]



[Footnote 19: An amusing story, borrowed from the troubadours, and since
copied by Sansovino, Chapuys, Grécourt, and the author of _Joueuses
Adventures_.

Philippe Vignier was _valet de chambre_ to the Duke of Burgundy in 1451.
No. 86 is also ascribed to him in Mr. Wright’s edition.]



[Footnote 21: From Poggio (_Priapus vis_) and also forms the subject of
one of La Fontaine’s _Contes_.]



[Footnote 22: Caron was “clerk of the chapel” to the Duke of Burgundy.]



[Footnote 23: From an old _fabliau_; since copied by several writers,
French and Italian.

The author’s name is given as Commesuram by Verard  and as de Qucevrain
in Mr. Wright’s edition. He is possibly identical with Louis de
Luxembourg, Count of St. Pol, whose name appears at the head of story
39. He also contributed Nos. 62 and 72.]



[Footnote 24: Taken from an old English ballad included in Percy’s
Reliques. It is curious that the author--de Fiennes--bears the same name
as an English nobleman--Lord Saye and Sele.

Thebaut de Luxembourg (Monseigneur de Fiennes) after the death of his
wife, Phillipine de Melun, turned monk, and lived to be Abbot of Igny
and Orcamp, and finally Bishop of Mans. He died in 1477. He also wrote
No. 43.]



[Footnote 25: Monseigneur de Saint Yon Was cup-bearer to Philippe le
Bel, with a salary of 100 francs a year.]



[Footnote 26: Nothing is known of M. de Foquessoles the writer of this
story.]



[Footnote 27: The name of de Beauvoir attached to this story proves
that the tales were not edited till after 1461. For Jean de Montespedan
followed Louis when he returned to take the throne, and was created by
him seigneur of Beauvoir. He was a faithful follower of Louis, and in
1460 carried a letter from the Dauphin to Charles VII--no pleasant, or
even safe, task. He also wrote No. 30.]



[Footnote 28: Michault de Changy was a Privy Councillor, Chamberlain,
Chief Carver, and afterwards Steward, to Dukes Philip and Charles. He
was the trusty confidant and adviser of the latter, who loaded him with
favours. After the death of Charles le Téméraire, Louis XI confirmed de
Changy in all the offices which he held in Burgundy. See also Nos. 40,
64, 79, and 80.]



[Footnote 31: An almost identical story is told of Henri de Guise in the
_Historiettes_ of Tallemant des Réaux.]

Jean d’Estuer, Seigneur de la Barde was a trusty servant of Louis XI and
successively Seneschal of Limousin, Ambassador (or rather secret agent)
to England, Seneschal of Lyon, and Governor of Perpignan.]



[Footnote 32: Taken from Poggio, and used afterwards by La Fontaine.
De Villiers became one of the most trusted servants of Louis XI, and
conducted many difficult and delicate negotiations for him.]



[Footnote 34: The original of this story is an old _fabliau_. It has
been often imitated in more recent times.]



[Footnote 38: From Boccaccio (_Dec_., day VII, nov VIII) but is of
Eastern origin, and is found in Bidpai. It was probably brought to
France by the Crusaders, for it is met with in the _fabliaux_.

Antoine de Chateauneuf, Baron de Lau, was a favourite of Louis XI, who
bestowed on him some important offices, and large sums of money. He
afterwards fell into disgrace, and was imprisoned in the castle of
Usson, in Auvergne, but managed to escape in 1468, retired to Burgundy,
and seems to have made his peace with Louis and been restored to favour,
for he was Governor of Perpignan in 1472. He died before 1485.]



[Footnote 39: The Comte de Saint Pol has been thought to be identical
with M. de Commesuram, the author of several of the _Cent Nouvelles
Nouvelles_. Saint Pol occupied an important part in history, and was
Constable of France, but he tried to play a double game, and betrayed
in turn both Louis and Charles the Bold. At last he was arrested,
condemned, and executed, December, 1475.]



[Footnote 42: Hervé Meriadech, a Breton squire and gallant soldier, who
performed several gallant feats of arms. Louis XI named him Governor of
Tournay in 1461.]



[Footnote 46: Much resembles No. XII. The author is believed to be
Chrestien de Dygoigne, whose name appears at the head of story No. 68.]



[Footnote 47: This is believed to be a true story. The person who got
rid of his wife in this cunning way was Caffrey Carles, President of the
Parliament of Grenoble. He was skilled in Latin and “the humanities”--in
the plural only it would appear--and was chosen by Anne of Brittany, the
wife of Louis XII, to teach her daughter, Renée, afterwards Duchess of
Perrara.

The story is so dramatic that it has been often imitated.]



[Footnote 50: By Antoine de la Sale, a short appreciation of whose
literary merits appears in the Introduction. He has appended his own
name to this story; in other cases he appears as “L’Acteur” that is to
say the “Editor.” (See No. 51). The story is taken from Sacchetti
or Poggio. The idea has suggested itself to many writers, including
Lawrence Sterne, in Tristram Shandy.]



[Footnote 52: Taken from Sacchetti.]



[Footnote 59: by Poncelet, or Pourcelet, one of the Council of the Duke
of Burgundy.]



[Footnote 60: by Poncelet, or Pourcelet, one of the Council of the Duke
of Burgundy. No. 60 is from an old fabliau, (_Frère Denise, cordelier_)
and is to be found in the _Heptameron_, the _Apologie pour Hérodote_
etc.]



[Footnote 61: by Poncelet, or Pourcelet, one of the Council of the Duke
of Burgundy. No. 61 is also from an old _fabliau_, (_Les Cheveux
coupe’s_). Mr. Wright also credits him with No. 89.]



[Footnote 63: is related by Montbleru himself, according to Mr. Wright’s
edition, but in Vérard there is no author’s name.]



[Footnote 64: From an old _fabliau_, and often imitated.]



[Footnote 69: M. Leroux de Lincy believes that Le Sage took the story of
Dona Mencia,--intercalated in _Gil Blas_--from this tale.]



[Footnote 75: Gui, Seigneur de Thalemas died, without issue, in 1463.]



[Footnote 76: Taken from the _Facetiae_ of Poggio.]



[Footnote 78: This story is originally found in Boccaccio (_Dec_. day
VII, nov V) and in an old _fabliau_. (_Le Chevalier qui fist sa femme
confesser_). La Fontaine has imitated it. See note on No. 82.]



[Footnote 79: Taken from the _Facetiae_ of Poggio.]



[Footnote 80: Taken from the _Facetiae_ of Poggio.]



[Footnote 81: By M. de Waulvrin (Vaurin), Chamberlain to the Duke of
Burgundy. He wrote a history of England and France from the earliest
times to 1471. Also contributed No. 83.]



[Footnote 82: In the Table of Contents of Vérard’s edition, this story
is ascribed to Monseigneur de Lannoy, but at the head of the story
itself the name of the author is given as Jean Martin, who also wrote
No. 78. Jean Martin was chief _sommelier du corps_ to Philippe le Bel.
After the death of that Duke he did not remain in the service of Charles
le Téméraire, but retired to Dijon, where he died, 28th Nov. 1475.]



[Footnote 84: In the Table of Contents this story is ascribed to the
Marquis de Rothelin. He was Marquis de Hocheberg, Comte de Neufchâtel
(Switzerland) Seigneur de Rothelin etc. Marshal of Burgundy, and Grand
Seneschal of Provence. In 1491, he was appointed Grand Chamberlain of
France. He died in 1503.]



[Footnote 85: The story is taken from an old _fabliau (Le Forgeron de
Creil)_ and has been used also by Sachetti, Des Periers and others. No
author’s name is given in Vêrard, but in the M.S. from which Mr. Wright
worked, the name of M. de Santilly is found at the head of this tale.]



[Footnote 88: Found also in Boccaccio (_Dec_. day VIII, nov. VII).
Poggio (_Fraus mulieris_) and in several of the collections of _fabliaux
(La Bourgeoise d’Orléans)_.

Mr. Wright gives Alardin (who also contributed No. 77) as the author. An
Alardin Bournel returned to France with Louis XI in 1461.]



[Footnote 90: Taken from the _Facetiae_ of Poggio.]



[Footnote 91: Taken from the _Facetiae_ of Poggio.]



[Footnote 93: Taken from the _Facetiae_ of Poggio. According to Mr.
Wright, by Timoléon Vignier, possibly a brother of Philippe Vignier.]



[Footnote 95: Taken from the _Facetiae_ of Poggio.]



[Footnote 96: An exceedingly old story, found in a _fabliau_ by
Rutebeuf, Poggio’s _Facetiae (Canis testamentum)_ etc. It also occurs in
a collection of Russian folk-lore tales.]



[Footnote 99: Also from Poggio’s _Facetiae (Sacerdotis virtus)_.
Several of the saints have performed the same miracle in order to
avoid the terrible sin of eating meat on a Friday. It was amongst the
meritorious acts of one--St. Johannes Crucis--who was canonized as
recently as 1840.]


[Illustration: endplate.jpg  Endplate]

[Illustration: gilded-top.jpg ]





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