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Title: Droll Stories — Complete
 - Collected from the Abbeys of Touraine
Author: Balzac, Honoré de
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Droll Stories — Complete
 - Collected from the Abbeys of Touraine" ***

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                           DROLL STORIES

               COLLECTED FROM THE ABBEYS OF TOURAINE

                                 BY

                          HONORE DE BALZAC



                         TRANSLATORS PREFACE

When, in March, 1832, the first volume of the now famous _Contes
Drolatiques_ was published by Gosselin of Paris, Balzac, in a short
preface, written in the publisher’s name, replied to those attacks
which he anticipated certain critics would make upon his hardy
experiment. He claimed for his book the protection of all those to
whom literature was dear, because it was a work of art--and a work of
art, in the highest sense of the word, it undoubtedly is. Like
Boccaccio, Rabelais, the Queen of Navarre, Ariosto, and Verville, the
great author of _The Human Comedy_ has painted an epoch. In the fresh
and wonderful language of the Merry Vicar Of Meudon, he has given us a
marvellous picture of French life and manners in the sixteenth
century. The gallant knights and merry dames of that eventful period
of French history stand out in bold relief upon his canvas. The
background in these life-like figures is, as it were, “sketched upon
the spot.” After reading the _Contes Drolatiques_, one could almost find
one’s way about the towns and villages of Touraine, unassisted by map
or guide. Not only is this book a work of art from its historical
information and topographical accuracy; its claims to that distinction
rest upon a broader foundation. Written in the nineteenth century in
imitation of the style of the sixteenth, it is a triumph of literary
archaeology. It is a model of that which it professes to imitate; the
production of a writer who, to accomplish it, must have been at once
historian, linguist, philosopher, archaeologist, and anatomist, and
each in no ordinary degree. In France, his work has long been regarded
as a classic--as a faithful picture of the last days of the moyen age,
when kings and princesses, brave gentlemen and haughty ladies laughed
openly at stories and jokes which are considered disgraceful by their
more fastidious descendants. In England the difficulties of the
language employed, and the quaintness and peculiarity of its style,
have placed it beyond the reach of all but those thoroughly acquainted
with the French of the sixteenth century. Taking into consideration
the vast amount of historical information enshrined in its pages, the
archaeological value which it must always possess for the student, and
the dramatic interest of its stories, the translator has thought that
an English edition of Balzac’s chef-d’oeuvre would be acceptable to
many. It has, of course, been impossible to reproduce in all its
vigour and freshness the language of the original. Many of the quips
and cranks and puns have been lost in the process of Anglicising.
These unavoidable blemishes apart, the writer ventures to hope that he
has treated this great masterpiece in a reverent spirit, touched it
with no sacrilegious hand, but, on the contrary, given as close a
translation as the dissimilarities of the two languages permit. With
this idea, no attempt had been made to polish or round many of the
awkwardly constructed sentences which are characteristic of this
volume. Rough, and occasionally obscure, they are far more in keeping
with the spirit of the original than the polished periods of modern
romance. Taking into consideration the many difficulties which he has
had to overcome, and which those best acquainted with the French
edition will best appreciate, the translator claims the indulgence of
the critical reader for any shortcomings he may discover. The best
plea that can be offered for such indulgence is the fact that,
although _Les Contes Drolatiques_ was completed and published in 1837,
the present is the first English version ever brought before the
public.

London, January, 1874



                              VOLUME I
                        THE FIRST TEN TALES



                              CONTENTS

PROLOGUE
THE FAIR IMPERIA
THE VENIAL SIN
   HOW THE GOOD MAN BRUYN TOOK A WIFE
   HOW THE SENESCHAL STRUGGLED WITH HIS WIFE’S MODESTY
   THAT WHICH IS ONLY A VENIAL SIN
   HOW AND BY WHOM THE SAID CHILD WAS PROCURED
   HOW THE SAID LOVE-SIN WAS REPENTED OF AND LED TO GREAT MOURNING
THE KING’S SWEETHEART
THE DEVIL’S HEIR
THE MERRIE JESTS OF KING LOUIS THE ELEVENTH
THE HIGH CONSTABLE’S WIFE
THE MAID OF THILOUSE
THE BROTHER-IN-ARMS
THE VICAR OF AZAY-LE-RIDEAU
THE REPROACH
EPILOGUE



                              PROLOGUE

This is a book of the highest flavour, full of right hearty merriment,
spiced to the palate of the illustrious and very precious tosspots and
drinkers, to whom our worthy compatriot, Francois Rabelais, the
eternal honour of Touraine, addressed himself. Be it nevertheless
understood, the author has no other desire than to be a good
Touranian, and joyfully to chronicle the merry doings of the famous
people of this sweet and productive land, more fertile in cuckolds,
dandies and witty wags than any other, and which has furnished a good
share of men of renown in France, as witness the departed Courier of
piquant memory; Verville, author of _Moyen de Parvenir_, and others
equally well known, among whom we will specially mention the Sieur
Descartes, because he was a melancholy genius, and devoted himself
more to brown studies than to drinks and dainties, a man of whom all
the cooks and confectioners of Tours have a wise horror, whom they
despise, and will not hear spoken of, and say, “Where does he live?”
 if his name is mentioned. Now this work is the production of the
joyous leisure of good old monks, of whom there are many vestiges
scattered about the country, at Grenadiere-les-St.-Cyr, in the village
of Sacche-les-Azay-le-Rideau, at Marmoustiers, Veretz, Roche-Cobon,
and the certain storehouses of good stories, which storehouses are the
upper stories of old canons and wise dames, who remember the good old
days when they could enjoy a hearty laugh without looking to see if
their hilarity disturbed the sit of your ruffle, as do the young women
of the present day, who wish to take their pleasure gravely--a custom
which suits our Gay France as much as a water jug would the head of a
queen. Since laughter is a privilege granted to man alone, and he has
sufficient causes for tears within his reach, without adding to them
by books, I have considered it a thing most patriotic to publish a
drachm of merriment for these times, when weariness falls like a fine
rain, wetting us, soaking into us, and dissolving those ancient
customs which make the people to reap public amusement from the
Republic. But of those old pantagruelists who allowed God and the king
to conduct their own affairs without putting of their finger in the
pie oftener than they could help, being content to look on and laugh,
there are very few left. They are dying out day by day in such manner
that I fear greatly to see these illustrious fragments of the ancient
breviary spat upon, staled upon, set at naught, dishonoured, and
blamed, the which I should be loath to see, since I have and bear
great respect for the refuse of our Gallic antiquities.

Bear in mind also, ye wild critics, you scrapers-up of words, harpies
who mangle the intentions and inventions of everyone, that as children
only do we laugh, and as we travel onward laughter sinks down and dies
out, like the light of the oil-lit lamp. This signifies, that to laugh
you must be innocent, and pure of a heart, lacking which qualities you
purse your lips, drop your jaws, and knit your brow, after the manner
of men hiding vices and impurities. Take, then, this work as you would
take a group of statue, certain features of which an artist could
omit, and he would be the biggest of all big fools if he puts leaves
upon them, seeing that these said works are not, any more than is this
book, intended for nunneries. Nevertheless, I have taken care, much to
my vexation, to weed from the manuscripts the old words, which, in
spite of their age, were still strong, and which would have shocked
the ears, astonished the eyes, reddened the cheeks and sullied the
lips of trousered maidens, and Madame Virtue with three lovers; for
certain things must be done to suit the vices of the age, and a
periphrase is much more agreeable than the word. Indeed, we are old,
and find long trifles, better than the short follies of our youth,
because at that time our taste was better. Then spare me your
slanders, and read this rather at night than in the daytime and give
it not to young maidens, if there be any, because this book is
inflammable. I will now rid you of myself. But I fear nothing from
this book, since it is extracted from a high and splendid source, from
which all that has issued has had a great success, as is amply proved
by the royal orders of the Golden Fleece, of the Holy Ghost, of the
Garter, of the Bath, and by many notable things which have been taken
therefrom, under shelter of which I place myself.

_Now make ye merry, my hearties, and gayly read with ease of body and
rest of reins, and may a cancer carry you if you disown me after
having read me._

These words are those of our good Master Rabelais, before whom we must
also stand, hat in hand, in token of reverence and honour to him,
prince of all wisdom, and king of Comedy.



                          THE FAIR IMPERIA

The Archbishop of Bordeaux had added to his suite when going to the
Council at Constance quite a good-looking little priest of Touraine
whose ways and manner of speech was so charming that he passed for a
son of La Soldee and the Governor. The Archbishop of Tours had
willingly given him to his confrere for his journey to that town,
because it was usual for archbishops to make each other presents, they
well knowing how sharp are the itchings of theological palms. Thus
this young priest came to the Council and was lodged in the
establishment of his prelate, a man of good morals and great science.

Philippe de Mala, as he was called, resolved to behave well and
worthily to serve his protector, but he saw in this mysterious Council
many men leading a dissolute life and yet not making less, nay
--gaining more indulgences, gold crowns and benefices than all the
other virtuous and well-behaved ones. Now during one night--dangerous
to his virtue--the devil whispered into his ear that he should live
more luxuriously, since every one sucked the breasts of our Holy Mother
Church and yet they were not drained, a miracle which proved beyond
doubt the existence of God. And the priest of Touraine did not
disappoint the devil. He promised to feast himself, to eat his
bellyful of roast meats and other German delicacies, when he could do
so without paying for them as he was poor. As he remained quite
continent (in which he followed the example of the poor old archbishop
who sinned no longer because he was unable to, and passed for a
saint,) he had to suffer from intolerable desires followed by fits of
melancholy, since there were so many sweet courtesans, well developed,
but cold to the poor people, who inhabited Constance, to enlighten the
understanding of the Fathers of the Council. He was savage that he did
not know how to make up to these gallant sirens, who snubbed
cardinals, abbots, councillors, legates, bishops, princes and
margraves just as if they have been penniless clerks. And in the
evening, after prayers, he would practice speaking to them, teaching
himself the breviary of love. He taught himself to answer all possible
questions, but on the morrow if by chance he met one of the aforesaid
princesses dressed out, seated in a litter and escorted by her proud
and well-armed pages, he remained open-mouthed, like a dog in the act
of catching flies, at the sight of sweet countenance that so much
inflamed him. The secretary of a Monseigneur, a gentleman of Perigord,
having clearly explained to him that the Fathers, procureurs, and
auditors of the Rota bought by certain presents, not relics or
indulgences, but jewels and gold, the favour of being familiar with
the best of these pampered cats who lived under the protection of the
lords of the Council; the poor Touranian, all simpleton and innocent
as he was, treasured up under his mattress the money given him by the
good archbishop for writings and copying--hoping one day to have
enough just to see a cardinal’s lady-love, and trusting to God for the
rest. He was hairless from top to toe and resembled a man about as
much as a goat with a night-dress on resembles a young lady, but
prompted by his desires he wandered in the evenings through the
streets of Constance, careless of his life, and, at the risk of having
his body halberded by the soldiers, he peeped at the cardinals
entering the houses of their sweethearts. Then he saw the wax-candles
lighted in the houses and suddenly the doors and the windows closed.
Then he heard the blessed abbots or others jumping about, drinking,
enjoying themselves, love-making, singing _Alleluia_ and applauding the
music with which they were being regaled. The kitchen performed
miracles, the Offices said were fine rich pots-full, the Matins sweet
little hams, the Vespers luscious mouthful, and the Lauhes delicate
sweetmeats, and after their little carouses, these brave priests were
silent, their pages diced upon the stairs, their mules stamped
restively in the streets; everything went well--but faith and religion
was there. That is how it came to pass the good man Huss was burned.
And the reason? He put his finger in the pie without being asked. Then
why was he a Huguenot before the others?

To return, however to our sweet little Philippe, not unfrequently did
he receive many a thump and hard blow, but the devil sustained him,
inciting him to believe that sooner or later it would come to his turn
to play the cardinal to some lovely dame. This ardent desire gave him
the boldness of a stag in autumn, so much so that one evening he
quietly tripped up the steps and into one of the first houses in
Constance where often he had seen officers, seneschals, valets, and
pages waiting with torches for their masters, dukes, kings, cardinals
and archbishops.

“Ah!” said he, “she must be very beautiful and amiable, this one.”

A soldier well armed allowed him to pass, believing him to belong to
the suite of the Elector of Bavaria, who had just left, and that he
was going to deliver a message on behalf of the above-mentioned
nobleman. Philippe de Mala mounted the stairs as lightly as a
greyhound in love, and was guided by delectable odour of perfume to
certain chamber where, surrounded by her handmaidens, the lady of the
house was divesting herself of her attire. He stood quite dumbfounded
like a thief surprised by sergeants. The lady was without petticoat or
head-dress. The chambermaid and the servants, busy taking off her
stockings and undressing her, so quickly and dextrously had her
stripped, that the priest, overcome, gave vent to a long Ah! which had
the flavour of love about it.

“What want _you_, little one?” said the lady to him.

“To yield my soul to you,” said he, flashing his eyes upon her.

“You can come again to-morrow,” said she, in order to be rid of him.

To which Philippe replied, blushing, “I will not fail.”

Then she burst out laughing. Philippe, struck motionless, stood quite
at his ease, letting wander over her his eyes that glowed and sparkled
with the flame of love. What lovely thick hair hung upon her ivory
white back, showing sweet white places, fair and shining between the
many tresses! She had upon her snow-white brow a ruby circlet, less
fertile in rays of fire than her black eyes, still moist with tears
from her hearty laugh. She even threw her slipper at a statue gilded
like a shrine, twisting herself about from very ribaldry and allowed
her bare foot, smaller than a swan’s bill, to be seen. This evening
she was in a good humour, otherwise she would have had the little
shaven-crop put out by the window without more ado than her first
bishop.

“He has fine eyes, Madame,” said one of her handmaids.

“Where does he comes from?” asked another.

“Poor child!” cried Madame, “his mother must be looking for him. Show
him his way home.”

The Touranian, still sensible, gave a movement of delight at the sight
of the brocaded bed where the sweet form was about to repose. This
glance, full of amorous intelligence, awoke the lady’s fantasy, who,
half laughing and half smitten, repeated “To-morrow,” and dismissed
him with a gesture which the Pope Jehan himself would have obeyed,
especially as he was like a snail without a shell, since the Council
had just deprived him of the holy keys.

“Ah! Madame, there is another vow of chastity changed into an amorous
desire,” said one of her women; and the chuckles commenced again thick
as hail.

Philippe went his way, bumping his head against a wall like a hooded
rook as he was. So giddy had he become at the sight of this creature,
even more enticing than a siren rising from the water. He noticed the
animals carved over the door and returned to the house of the
archbishop with his head full of diabolical longings and his entrails
sophisticated.

Once in his little room he counted his coins all night long, but could
make no more than four of them; and as that was all his treasure, he
counted upon satisfying the fair one by giving her all he had in the
world.

“What is it ails you?” said the good archbishop, uneasy at the groans
and “oh! ohs!” of his clerk.

“Ah! my Lord,” answered the poor priest, “I am wondering how it is
that so light and sweet a woman can weigh so heavily upon my heart.”

“Which one?” said the archbishop, putting down his breviary which he
was reading for others--the good man.

“Oh! Mother of God! You will scold me, I know, my good master, my
protector, because I have seen the lady of a cardinal at the least,
and I am weeping because I lack more than one crown to enable me to
convert her.”

The archbishop, knitting the circumflex accent that he had above his
nose, said not a word. Then the very humble priest trembled in his
skin to have confessed so much to his superior. But the holy man
directly said to him, “She must be very dear then--”

“Ah!” said he, “she has swallowed many a mitre and stolen many a
cross.”

“Well, Philippe, if thou will renounce her, I will present thee with
thirty angels from the poor-box.”

“Ah! my lord, I should be losing too much,” replied the lad,
emboldened by the treat he promised himself.

“Ah! Philippe,” said the good prelate, “thou wilt then go to the devil
and displease God, like all our cardinals,” and the master, with
sorrow, began to pray St. Gatien, the patron saint of Innocents, to
save his servant. He made him kneel down beside him, telling him to
recommend himself also to St. Philippe, but the wretched priest
implored the saint beneath his breath to prevent him from failing if
on the morrow that the lady should receive him kindly and mercifully;
and the good archbishop, observing the fervour of his servant, cried
out him, “Courage little one, and Heaven will exorcise thee.”

On the morrow, while Monsieur was declaiming at the Council against
the shameless behaviour of the apostles of Christianity, Philippe de
Mala spent his angels--acquired with so much labour--in perfumes,
baths, fomentations, and other fooleries. He played the fop so well,
one would have thought him the fancy cavalier of a gay lady. He
wandered about the town in order to find the residence of his heart’s
queen; and when he asked the passers-by to whom belonged the aforesaid
house, they laughed in his face, saying--

“Whence comes this precious fellow that has not heard of La Belle
Imperia?”

He was very much afraid he and his angels were gone to the devil when
he heard the name, and knew into what a nice mess he had voluntarily
fallen.

Imperia was the most precious, the most fantastic girl in the world,
although she passed for the most dazzling and the beautiful, and the
one who best understood the art of bamboozling cardinals and softening
the hardiest soldiers and oppressors of the people. She had brave
captains, archers, and nobles, ready to serve her at every turn. She
had only to breathe a word, and the business of anyone who had
offended her was settled. A free fight only brought a smile to her
lips, and often the Sire de Baudricourt--one of the King’s Captains
--would ask her if there were any one he could kill for her that day
--a little joke at the expense of the abbots. With the exception of the
potentates among the high clergy with whom Madame Imperia managed to
accommodate her little tempers, she ruled everyone with a high hand in
virtue of her pretty babble and enchanting ways, which enthralled the
most virtuous and the most unimpressionable. Thus she lived beloved
and respected, quite as much as the real ladies and princesses, and
was called Madame, concerning which the good Emperor Sigismund replied
to a lady who complained of it to him, “That they, the good ladies,
might keep to their own proper way and holy virtues, and Madame
Imperia to the sweet naughtiness of the goddess Venus”--Christian
words which shocked the good ladies, to their credit be it said.

Philippe, then thinking over it in his mind that which on the
preceding evening he had seen with his eyes, doubted if more did not
remain behind. Then was he sad, and without taking bite or sup,
strolled about the town waiting the appointed hour, although he was
well-favoured and gallant enough to find others less difficult to
overcome than was Madame Imperia.

The night came; the little Touranian, exalted with pride caparisoned
with desire, and spurred by his “alacks” and “alases” which nearly
choked him, glided like an eel into the domicile of the veritable
Queen of the Council--for before her bowed humbly all the authority,
science, and wisdom of Christianity. The major domo did not know him,
and was going to bundle him out again, when one of the chamber-women
called him from the top of the stairs--“Eh, M. Imbert, it is Madame’s
young fellow,” and poor Philippe, blushing like a wedding night, ran
up the stairs, shaking with happiness and delight. The servant took
him by the hand and led into the chamber where sat Madame, lightly
attired like a brave woman who awaits her conqueror.

The dazzling Imperia was seated near a table covered with a shaggy
cloth ornamented with gold, and with all the requisites for a dainty
carouse. Flagons of wine, various drinking glasses, bottles of the
hippocras, flasks full of good wine of Cyprus, pretty boxes full of
spices, roast peacocks, green sauces, little salt hams--all that would
gladden the eyes of the gallant if he had not so madly loved Madame
Imperia.

She saw well that the eyes of the young priest were all for her.
Although accustomed to the curl-paper devotion of the churchmen, she
was well satisfied that she had made a conquest of the young priest
who all day long had been in her head.

The windows had been closed; Madame was decked out in a manner fit to
do honours to a prince of the Empire. Then the rogue, beatified by the
holy beauty of Imperia, knew that Emperor, burgraf, nay, even a
cardinal about to be elected pope, would willingly for that night have
changed places with him, a little priest who, beneath his gown, had
only the devil and love.

He put on a lordly air, and saluted her with a courtesy by no means
ungraceful; and then the sweet lady said to him, regaling with a
piercing glance--

“Come and sit close to me, that I may see if you have altered since
yesterday.”

“Oh yes,” said he.

“And how?” said she.

“Yesterday,” replied the artful fellow, “I loved you; today, we love
each other, and from a poor sinner I have become richer than a king.”

“Oh, little one, little one!” cried she, merrily; “yes, you are indeed
changed, for from a young priest I see well you have turned into an
old devil.”

And side by side they sat down before a large fire, which helped to
spread their ecstasy around. They remained always ready to begin
eating, seeing that they only thought of gazing into each other’s
eyes, and never touched a dish. Just as they were beginning to feel
comfortable and at their ease, there came a great noise at Madame’s
door, as if people were beating against it, and crying out.

“Madame,” cried the little servant hastily, “here’s another of them.”

“Who is it?” cried she in a haughty manner, like a tyrant, savage at
being interrupted.

“The Bishop of Coire wishes to speak with you.”

“May the devil take him!” said she, looking at Philippe gently.

“Madame he has seen the light through the chinks, and is making a
great noise.”

“Tell him I have the fever, and you will be telling him no lie, for I
am ill of this little priest who is torturing my brain.”

But just as she had finished speaking, and was pressing with devotion
the hand of Philippe who trembled in his skin, appeared the fat Bishop
of Coire, indignant and angry. The officers followed him, bearing a
trout canonically dressed, fresh from the Rhine, and shining in a
golden platter, and spices contained in little ornamental boxes, and a
thousand dainties, such as liqueurs and jams, made by the holy nuns at
his Abbey.

“Ah, ah!” said he, with his deep voice, “I haven’t time to go to the
devil, but you must give me a touch of him in advance, eh! my little
one.”

“Your belly will one day make a nice sheath for a sword,” replied she,
knitting her brows above her eyes, which from being soft and gentle
had become mischievous enough to make one tremble.

“And this little chorus singer is here to offer that?” said the
bishop, insolently turning his great rubicund face towards Philippe.

“Monseigneur, I’m here to confess Madame.”

“Oh, oh, do you not know the canons? To confess the ladies at this
time of night is a right reserved to bishops, so take yourself off; go
and herd with simple monks, and never come back here again under pain
of excommunication.”

“Do not move,” cried the blushing Imperia, more lovely with passion
than she was with love, because now she was possessed both with
passion and love. “Stop, my friend. Here you are in your own house.”
 Then he knew that he was really loved by her.

“It is it not in the breviary, and an evangelical regulation, that you
should be equal with God in the valley of Jehoshaphat?” asked she of
the bishop.

“‘Tis is an invention of the devil, who has adulterated the holy
book,” replied the great numskull of a bishop in a hurry to fall to.

“Well then, be equal now before me, who am here below your goddess,”
 replied Imperia, “otherwise one of these days I will have you
delicately strangled between the head and shoulders; I swear it by the
power of my tonsure which is as good as the pope’s.” And wishing that
the trout should be added to the feast as well as the sweets and other
dainties, she added, cunningly, “Sit you down and drink with us.” But
the artful minx, being up to a trick or two, gave the little one a
wink which told him plainly not to mind the German, whom she would
soon find a means to be rid of.

The servant-maid seated the Bishop at the table, and tucked him up,
while Philippe, wild with rage that closed his mouth, because he saw
his plans ending in smoke, gave the archbishop to more devils than
ever were monks alive. Thus they got halfway through the repast, which
the young priest had not yet touched, hungering only for Imperia, near
whom he was already seated, but speaking that sweet language which the
ladies so well understand, that has neither stops, commas, accents,
letters, figures, characters, notes, nor images. The fat bishop,
sensual and careful enough of the sleek, ecclesiastical garment of
skin for which he was indebted to his late mother, allowed himself to
be plentifully served with hippocras by the delicate hand of Madame,
and it was just at his first hiccough that the sound of an approaching
cavalcade was heard in the street. The number of horses, the “Ho, ho!”
 of the pages, showed plainly that some great prince hot with love, was
about to arrive. In fact, a moment afterwards the Cardinal of Ragusa,
against whom the servants of Imperia had not dared to bar the door,
entered the room. At this terrible sight the poor courtesan and her
young lover became ashamed and embarrassed, like fresh cured lepers;
for it would be tempting the devil to try and oust the cardinal, the
more so as at that time it was not known who would be pope, three
aspirants having resigned their hoods for the benefit of Christianity.
The cardinal, who was a cunning Italian, long bearded, a great
sophist, and the life and soul of the Council, guessed, by the
feeblest exercise of the faculties of his understanding, the alpha and
omega of the adventure. He only had to weigh in his mind one little
thought before he knew how to proceed in order to be able to
hypothecate his manly vigour. He arrived with the appetite of a hungry
monk, and to obtain its satisfaction he was just the man to stab two
monks and sell his bit of the true cross, which were wrong.

“Hulloa! friend,” said he to Philippe, calling him towards him. The
poor Tourainian, more dead than alive, and expecting the devil was
about to interfere seriously with his arrangements, rose and said,
“What is it?” to the redoubtable cardinal.

He taking him by the arm led him to the staircase, looked him in the
white of the eye and said without any nonsense--“Ventredieu! You are a
nice little fellow, and I should not like to have to let your master
know the weight of your carcass. My revenge might cause me certain
pious expenses in my old age, so choose to espouse an abbey for the
remainder of your days, or to marry Madame to-night and die tomorrow.”

The poor little Tourainian in despair murmured, “May I come back when
your passion is over?”

The cardinal could scarcely keep his countenance, but he said sternly,
“Choose the gallows or a mitre.”

“Ah!” said the priest, maliciously; “a good fat abbey.”

Thereupon the cardinal went back into the room, opened an escritoire,
and scribbled upon a piece of parchment an order to the envoy of
France.

“Monseigneur,” said the Tourainian to him while he was spelling out
the order, “you will not get rid of the Bishop of Coire so easily as
you have got rid of me, for he has as many abbeys as the soldiers have
drinking shops in the town; besides, he is in the favour of his lord.
Now I fancy to show you my gratitude for this so fine Abbey I owe you
good piece of advice. You know how fatal has been and how rapidly
spread this terrible pestilence which has cruelly harassed Paris. Tell
him that you have just left the bedside of your old friend the
Archbishop of Bordeaux; thus you will make him scutter away like straw
before a whirl-wind.

“Oh, oh!” cried the cardinal, “thou meritest more than an abbey. Ah,
Ventredieu! my young friend, here are 100 golden crowns for thy
journey to the Abbey of Turpenay, which I won yesterday at cards, and
of which I make you a free gift.”

Hearing these words, and seeing Philippe de Mala disappear without
giving her the amorous glances she expected, the beautiful Imperia,
puffing like a dolphin, denounced all the cowardice of the priest. She
was not then a sufficiently good Catholic to pardon her lover
deceiving her, by not knowing how to die for her pleasure. Thus the
death of Philippe was foreshadowed in the viper’s glance she cast at
him to insult him, which glance pleased the cardinal much, for the
wily Italian saw he would soon get his abbey back again. The
Touranian, heeding not the brewing storm avoided it by walking out
silently with his ears down, like a wet dog being kicked out of a
Church. Madame drew a sigh from her heart. She must have had her own
ideas of humanity for the little value she held in it. The fire which
possessed her had mounted to her head, and scintillated in rays about
her, and there was good reason for it, for this was the first time
that she had been humbugged by priest. Then the cardinal smiled,
believing it was all to his advantage: was not he a cunning fellow?
Yes, he was the possessor of a red hat.

“Ah, ah! my friend,” said he to the Bishop, “I congratulate myself on
being in your company, and I am glad to have been able to get rid of
that little wretch unworthy of Madame, the more so as if you had gone
near him, my lovely and amiable creature, you would have perished
miserably through the deed of a simple priest.”

“Ah! How?”

“He is the secretary of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. The good man was
seized this morning with the pestilence.”

The bishop opened his mouth wide enough to swallow a Dutch cheese.

“How do you know that?” asked he.

“Ah!” said the cardinal, taking the good German’s hand, “I have just
administered to him, and consoled him; at this moment the holy man has
a fair wind to waft him to paradise.”

The Bishop of Coire demonstrated immediately how light fat man are;
for when men are big-bellied, a merciful providence, in the
consideration of their works, often makes their internal tubes as
elastic as balloons. The aforesaid bishop sprang backwards with one
bound, burst into a perspiration and coughed like a cow who finds
feathers mixed with her hay. Then becoming suddenly pale, he rushed
down the stairs without even bidding Madame adieu. When the door had
closed upon the bishop, and he was fairly in the street, the Cardinal
of Ragusa began laughing fit to split his sides.

“Ah! my fair one, am I not worthy to be Pope, and better than that,
thy lover this evening?”

But seeing Imperia thoughtful he approached her to take her in his
arms, and pet her after the usual fashion of cardinals, men who
embrace better than all others, even the soldiers, because they are
lazy, and do not spare their essential properties.

“Ha!” said she, drawing back, “you wish to cause my death, you
ecclesiastical idiot. The principal thing for you is to enjoy
yourself; my sweet carcass, a thing accessory. Your pleasure will be
my death, and then you’ll canonise me perhaps? Ah, you have the
plague, and you would give it to me. Go somewhere else, you brainless
priest. Ah! touch me not,” said she, seeing him about to advance, “or
I will stab you with this dagger.”

And the clever hussy drew from her armoire a little dagger, which she
knew how to use with great skill when necessary.

“But my little paradise, my sweet one,” said the other, laughing,
“don’t you see the trick? Wasn’t it necessary to be get rid of that
old bullock of Coire?”

“Well then, if you love me, show it” replied she. “I desire that you
leave me instantly. If you are touched with the disease my death will
not worry you. I know you well enough to know at what price you will
put a moment of pleasure at your last hour. You would drown the earth.
Ah, ah! you have boasted of it when drunk. I love only myself, my
treasures, and my health. Go, and if tomorrow your veins are not
frozen by the disease, you can come again. Today, I hate you, good
cardinal,” said she, smiling.

“Imperia!” cried the cardinal on his knees, “my blessed Imperia, do
not play with me thus.”

“No,” said she, “I never play with blessed and sacred things.”

“Ah! ribald woman, I will excommunicate thee tomorrow.”

“And now you are out of your cardinal sense.”

“Imperia, cursed daughter of Satan! Oh, my little beauty--my love--!”

“Respect yourself more. Don’t kneel to me, fie for shame!”

“Wilt thou have a dispensation in articulo mortis? Wilt thou have my
fortune--or better still, a bit of the veritable true Cross?--Wilt
thou?”

“This evening, all the wealth of heaven above and earth beneath would
not buy my heart,” said she, laughing. “I should be the blackest of
sinners, unworthy to receive the Blessed Sacrament if I had not my
little caprices.”

“I’ll burn the house down. Sorceress, you have bewitched me. You shall
perish at the stake. Listen to me, my love,--my gentle Dove--I promise
you the best place in heaven. Eh? No. Death to you then--death to the
sorceress.”

“Oh, oh! I will kill you, Monseigneur.”

And the cardinal foamed with rage.

“You are making a fool of yourself,” said she. “Go away, you’ll tire
yourself.”

“I shall be pope, and you shall pay for this!”

“Then you are no longer disposed to obey me?”

“What can I do this evening to please you?”

“Get out.”

And she sprang lightly like a wagtail into her room, and locked
herself in, leaving the cardinal to storm that he was obliged to go.
When the fair Imperia found herself alone, seated before the fire, and
without her little priest, she exclaimed, snapping angrily the gold
links of her chain, “By the double triple horn on the devil, if the
little one has made me have this row with the Cardinal, and exposed me
to the danger of being poisoned tomorrow, unless I pay him over to my
heart’s content, I will not die till I have seen him burned alive
before my eyes. Ah!” said she, weeping, this time real tears, “I lead
a most unhappy life, and the little pleasure I have costs me the life
of a dog, let alone my salvation.”

As she finished this jeremiad, wailing like a calf that is being
slaughtered, she beheld the blushing face of the young priest, who had
hidden himself, peeping at her from behind her large Venetian mirror.

“Ah!” said she, “Thou art the most perfect monk that ever dwelt in
this blessed and amorous town of Constance. Ah, ah! Come my gentle
cavalier, my dear boy, my little charm, my paradise of delectation,
let me drink thine eyes, eat thee, kill thee with my love. Oh! my
ever-flourishing, ever-green, sempiternal god; from a little monk I
would make a king, emperor, pope, and happier than either. There, thou
canst put anything to fire and sword, I am thine, and thou shalt see
it well; for thou shalt be all a cardinal, even when to redden thy
hood I shed all my heart’s blood.” And with her trembling hands all
joyously she filled with Greek wine the golden cup, brought by the
Bishop of Coire, and presented it to her sweetheart, whom she served
upon her knee, she whose slipper princes found more to their taste
than that of the pope.

But he gazed at her in silence, with his eye so lustrous with love,
that she said to him, trembling with joy “Ah! be quiet, little one.
Let us have supper.”



                           THE VENIAL SIN


HOW THE GOOD MAN BRUYN TOOK A WIFE.

Messire Bruyn, he who completed the Castle of Roche-Corbon-les-Vouvray,
on the banks of the Loire, was a boisterous fellow in his
youth. When quite little, he squeezed young ladies, turned the house
out of windows, and played the devil with everything, when he was
called upon to put his Sire the Baron of Roche-Corbon some few feet
under the turf. Then he was his own master, free to lead a life of
wild dissipation, and indeed he worked very hard to get a surfeit of
enjoyment. Now by making his crowns sweat and his goods scarce,
draining his land, and a bleeding his hogsheads, and regaling frail
beauties, he found himself excommunicated from decent society, and had
for his friends only the plunderers of towns and the Lombardians. But
the usurers turned rough and bitter as chestnut husks, when he had no
other security to give them than his said estate of Roche-Corbon,
since the Rupes Carbonis was held from our Lord the king. Then Bruyn
found himself just in the humour to give a blow here and there, to
break a collar-bone or two, and quarrel with everyone about trifles.
Seeing which, the Abbot of Marmoustiers, his neighbour, and a man
liberal with his advice, told him that it was an evident sign of
lordly perfection, that he was walking in the right road, but if he
would go and slaughter, to the great glory of God, the Mahommedans who
defiled the Holy Land, it would be better still, and that he would
undoubtedly return full of wealth and indulgences into Touraine, or
into Paradise, whence all barons formerly came.

The said Bruyn, admiring the great sense of the prelate, left the
country equipped by the monastery, and blessed by the abbot, to the
great delight of his friends and neighbours. Then he put to the sack
enough many towns of Asia and Africa, and fell upon the infidels
without giving them warning, burning the Saracens, the Greeks, the
English, and others, caring little whether they were friends or
enemies, or where they came from, since among his merits he had that
of being in no way curious, and he never questioned them until after
he had killed them. At this business, agreeable to God, to the King
and to himself, Bruyn gained renown as a good Christian and loyal
knight, and enjoyed himself thoroughly in these lands beyond the seas,
since he more willingly gave a crown to the girls than to the poor,
although he met many more poor people than perfect maids; but like a
good Touranian he made soup of anything. At length, when he was
satiated with the Turks, relics, and other blessings of the Holy Land,
Bruyn, to the great astonishment of the people of Vouvrillons,
returned from the Crusades laden with crowns and precious stones;
rather differently from some who, rich when they set out, came back
heavy with leprosy, but light with gold. On his return from Tunis, our
Lord, King Philippe, made him a Count, and appointed him his seneschal
in our country and that of Poitou. There he was greatly beloved and
properly thought well of, since over and above his good qualities he
founded the Church of the Carmes-Deschaulx, in the parish of
Egrignolles, as the peace-offering to Heaven for the follies of his
youth. Thus was he cardinally consigned to the good graces of the
Church and of God. From a wicked youth and reckless man, he became a
good, wise man, and discreet in his dissipations and pleasures; rarely
was in anger, unless someone blasphemed God before him, the which he
would not tolerate because he had blasphemed enough for every one in
his wild youth. In short, he never quarrelled, because, being
seneschal, people gave up to him instantly. It is true that he at that
time beheld all his desires accomplished, the which would render even
an imp of Satan calm and tranquil from his horns to his heels. And
besides this he possessed a castle all jagged at the corners, and
shaped and pointed like a Spanish doublet, situated upon a bank from
which it was reflected in the Loire. In the rooms were royal
tapestries, furniture, Saracen pomps, vanities, and inventions which
were much admired by people of Tours, and even by the archbishop and
clerks of St. Martin, to whom he sent as a free gift a banner fringed
with fine gold. In the neighbourhood of the said castle abounded fair
domains, wind-mills, and forests, yielding a harvest of rents of all
kinds, so that he was one of the strongest knights-banneret of the
province, and could easily have led to battle for our lord the king a
thousand men. In his old days, if by chance his bailiff, a diligent
man at hanging, brought before him a poor peasant suspected of some
offence, he would say, smiling--

“Let this one go, Brediff, he will count against those I
inconsiderately slaughtered across the seas”; oftentimes, however, he
would let them bravely hang on a chestnut tree or swing on his
gallows, but this was solely that justice might be done, and that the
custom should not lapse in his domain. Thus the people on his lands
were good and orderly, like fresh veiled nuns, and peaceful since he
protected them from the robbers and vagabonds whom he never spared,
knowing by experience how much mischief is caused by these cursed
beasts of prey. For the rest, most devout, finishing everything
quickly, his prayers as well as good wine, he managed the processes
after the Turkish fashion, having a thousand little jokes ready for
the losers, and dining with them to console them. He had all the
people who had been hanged buried in consecrated ground like godly
ones, some people thinking they had been sufficiently punished by
having their breath stopped. He only persecuted the Jews now and then,
and when they were glutted with usury and wealth. He let them gather
their spoil as the bees do honey, saying that they were the best of
tax-gatherers. And never did he despoil them save for the profit and
use of the churchmen, the king, the province, or himself.

This jovial way gained for him the affection and esteem of every one,
great and small. If he came back smiling from his judicial throne, the
Abbot of Marmoustiers, an old man like himself, would say, “Ho, ha!
messire, there is some hanging on since you laugh thus!” And when
coming from Roche-Corbon to Tours he passed on horseback along the
Fauborg St. Symphorien, the little girls would say, “Ah! this is the
justice day, there is the good man Bruyn,” and without being afraid
they would look at him astride on a big white hack, that he had
brought back with him from the Levant. On the bridge the little boys
would stop playing with the ball, and would call out, “Good day, Mr.
Seneschal” and he would reply, jokingly, “Enjoy yourselves, my
children, until you get whipped.” “Yes, Mr. Seneschal.”

Also he made the country so contented and so free from robbers that
during the year of the great over-flowing of the Loire there were only
twenty-two malefactors hanged that winter, not counting a Jew burned
in the Commune of Chateau-Neuf for having stolen a consecrated wafer,
or bought it, some said, for he was very rich.

One day, in the following year about harvest time, or mowing time, as
we say in Touraine, there came Egyptians, Bohemians, and other
wandering troupes who stole the holy things from the Church of St.
Martin, and in the place and exact situation of Madam the Virgin, left
by way of insult and mockery to our Holy Faith, an abandoned pretty
little girl, about the age of an old dog, stark naked, an acrobat, and
of Moorish descent like themselves. For this almost nameless crime it
was equally decided by the king, people, and the churchmen that the
Mooress, to pay for all, should be burned and cooked alive in the
square near the fountain where the herb market is. Then the good man
Bruyn clearly and dextrously demonstrated to the others that it would
be a thing most profitable and pleasant to God to gain over this
African soul to the true religion, and if the devil were lodged in
this feminine body the faggots would be useless to burn him, as said
the said order. To which the archbishop sagely thought most canonical
and conformable to Christian charity and the gospel. The ladies of the
town and other persons of authority said loudly that they were cheated
of a fine ceremony, since the Mooress was crying her eyes out in the
jail and would certainly be converted to God in order to live as long
as a crow, if she were allowed to do so, to which the seneschal
replied that if the foreigner would wholly commit herself to the
Christian religion there would be a gallant ceremony of another kind,
and that he would undertake that it should be royally magnificent,
because he would be her sponsor at the baptismal font, and that a
virgin should be his partner in the affair in order the better to
please the Almighty, while himself was reputed never to have lost the
bloom or innocence, in fact to be a coquebin. In our country of
Touraine thus are called the young virgin men, unmarried or so
esteemed to distinguish them from the husbands and the widowers, but
the girls always pick them without the name, because they are more
light-hearted and merry than those seasoned in marriage.

The young Mooress did not hesitate between the flaming faggots and the
baptismal water. She much preferred to be a Christian and live than be
Egyptian and be burned; thus to escape a moment’s baking, her heart
would burn unquenched through all her life, since for the greater
surety of her religion she was placed in the convent of nuns near
Chardonneret, where she took the vow of sanctity. The said ceremony
was concluded at the residence of the archbishop, where on this
occasion, in honour of the Saviour or men, the lords and ladies of
Touraine hopped, skipped and danced, for in this country the people
dance, skip, eat, flirt, have more feasts and make merrier than any in
the whole world. The good old seneschal had taken for his associate
the daughter of the lord of Azay-le-Ridel, which afterwards became
Azay-le-Brusle, the which lord being a Crusader was left before Acre,
a far distant town, in the hands of a Saracen who demanded a royal
ransom for him because the said lord was of high position.

The lady of Azay having given his estate as security to the Lombards
and extortioners in order to raise the sum, remained, without a penny
in the world, awaiting her lord in a poor lodging in the town,
without a carpet to sit upon, but proud as the Queen of Sheba and
brave as a mastiff who defends the property of his master. Seeing this
great distress the seneschal went delicately to request this lady’s
daughter to be the godmother of the said Egyptian, in order that he
might have the right of assisting the Lady of Azay. And, in fact, he
kept a heavy chain of gold which he had preserved since the
commencement of the taking of Cyprus, and the which he determined to
clasp about the neck of his pretty associate, but he hung there at the
same time his domain, and his white hairs, his money and his horses;
in short, he placed there everything he possessed, directly he had
seen Blanche of Azay dancing a pavan among the ladies of Tours.
Although the Moorish girl, making the most of her last day, had
astonished the assembly by her twists, jumps, steps, springs, and
elevations and artistic efforts, Blanche had the advantage of her, as
everyone agreed, so virginally and delicately did she dance.

Now Bruyn, admiring this gentle maiden whose toes seemed to fear the
boards, and who amused herself so innocently for her seventeen years
--like a grasshopper trying her first note--was seized with an old
man’s desire; a desire apoplectic and vigorous from weakness, which
heated him from the sole of foot to the nape of his neck--for his head
had too much snow on the top of it to let love lodge there. Then the
good man perceived that he needed a wife in his manor, and it appeared
more lonely to him than it was. And what then was a castle without a
chatelaine? As well have a clapper without its bell. In short, a wife
was the only thing that he had to desire, so he wished to have one
promptly, seeing that if the Lady of Azay made him wait, he had just
time to pass out of this world into the other. But during the
baptismal entertainment, he thought little of his severe wounds, and
still less of the eighty years that had stripped his head; he found
his eyes clear enough to see distinctly his young companion, who,
following the injunctions of the Lady of Azay, regaled him well with
glance and gesture, believing there could be no danger near so old a
fellow, in such wise that Blanche--naive and nice as she was in
contradistinction to the girls of Touraine, who are as wide-awake as a
spring morning--permitted the good man first to kiss her hand, and
afterwards her neck, rather low-down; at least so said the archbishop
who married them the week after; and that was a beautiful bridal, and
a still more beautiful bride.

The said Blanche was slender and graceful as no other girl, and still
better than that, more maidenly than ever maiden was; a maiden all
ignorant of love, who knew not why or what it was; a maiden who
wondered why certain people lingered in their beds; a maiden who
believed that children were found in parsley beds. Her mother had thus
reared her in innocence, without even allowing her to consider, trifle
as it was, how she sucked in her soup between her teeth. Thus she was
a sweet flower, and intact, joyous and innocent; an angel, who needed
but the wings to fly away to Paradise. When she left the poor lodging
of her weeping mother to consummate her betrothal at the cathedral of
St. Gatien and St. Maurice, the country people came to a feast their
eyes upon the bride, and on the carpets which were laid down all along
the Rue de la Scellerie, and all said that never had tinier feet
pressed the ground of Touraine, prettier eyes gazed up to heaven, or a
more splendid festival adorned the streets with carpets and with
flowers. The young girls of St. Martin and of the boroughs of
Chateau-Neuf, all envied the long brown tresses with which doubtless
Blanche had fished for a count, but much more did they desire the gold
embroidered dress, the foreign stones, the white diamonds, and the
chains with which the little darling played, and which bound her for
ever to the said seneschal. The old soldier was so merry by her side,
that his happiness showed itself in his wrinkles, his looks, and his
movements. Although he was hardly as straight as a billhook, he held
himself so by the side of Blanche, that one would have taken him for a
soldier on parade receiving his officer, and he placed his hand on his
diaphragm like a man whose pleasure stifles and troubles him.
Delighted with the sound of the swinging bells, the procession, the
pomps, and the vanities of the said marriage, which was talked of long
after the episcopal rejoicings, the women desired a harvest of Moorish
girls, a deluge of old seneschals, and baskets full of Egyptian
baptisms. But this was the only one that ever happened in Touraine,
seeing that the country is far from Egypt and from Bohemia. The Lady
of Azay received a large sum of money after the ceremony, which
enabled her to start immediately for Acre to go to her spouse,
accompanied by the lieutenant and soldiers of the Count of
Roche-Corbon, who furnished them with everything necessary. She set out
on the day of the wedding, after having placed her daughter in the hands
of the seneschal, enjoining him to treat her well; and later on she
returned with the Sire d’Azay, who was leprous, and she cured him,
tending him herself, running the risk of being contaminated, the which
was greatly admired.

The marriage ceremony finished and at an end--for it lasted three
days, to the great contentment of the people--Messire Bruyn with great
pomp led the little one to his castle, and, according to the custom of
husbands, had her put solemnly to bed in his couch, which was blessed
by the Abbot of Marmoustiers; then came and placed himself beside her
in the great feudal chamber of Roche-Corbon, which had been hung with
green blockade and ribbon of golden wire. When old Bruyn, perfumed all
over, found himself side by side with his pretty wife, he kissed her
first upon the forehead, and then upon the little round, white breast,
on the same spot where she had allowed him to clasp the fastenings of
the chain, but that was all. The old fellow had too great confidence
in himself in fancying himself able to accomplish more; so then he
abstained from love in spite of the merry nuptial songs, the
epithalamiums and jokes which were going on in the rooms beneath where
the dancing was still kept up. He refreshed himself with a drink of
the marriage beverage, which according to custom, had been blessed and
placed near them in a golden cup. The spices warned his stomach well
enough, but not the heart of his dead ardour. Blanche was not at all
astonished at the demeanour of her spouse, because she was a virgin in
mind, and in marriage she saw only that which is visible to the eyes
of young girls--namely dresses, banquets, horses, to be a lady and
mistress, to have a country seat, to amuse oneself and give orders;
so, like the child that she was, she played with the gold tassels on
the bed, and marvelled at the richness of the shrine in which her
innocence should be interred. Feeling, a little later in the day, his
culpability, and relying on the future, which, however, would spoil a
little every day that with which he pretended to regale his wife, the
seneschal tried to substitute the word for the deed. So he entertained
his wife in various ways, promised her the keys of his sideboards, his
granaries and chests, the perfect government of his houses and domains
without any control, hanging round her neck “the other half of the
loaf,” which is the popular saying in Touraine. She became like a
young charger full of hay, found her good man the most gallant fellow
in the world, and raising herself upon her pillow began to smile, and
beheld with greater joy this beautiful green brocaded bed, where
henceforward she would be permitted, without any sin, to sleep every
night. Seeing she was getting playful, the cunning lord, who had not
been used to maidens, but knew from experience the little tricks that
women will practice, seeing that he had much associated with ladies of
the town, feared those handy tricks, little kisses, and minor
amusements of love which formerly he did not object to, but which at
the present time would have found him cold as the obit of a pope. Then
he drew back towards the end of the bed, afraid of his happiness, and
said to his too delectable spouse, “Well, darling, you are a
seneschal’s wife now, and very well seneschaled as well.”

“Oh no!” said she.

“How no!” replied he in great fear; “are you not a wife?”

“No!” said she. “Nor shall I be till I have had a child.”

“Did you while coming here see the meadows?” began again the old
fellow.

“Yes,” said she.

“Well, they are yours.”

“Oh! Oh!” replied she laughing, “I shall amuse myself much there
catching butterflies.”

“That’s a good girl,” says her lord. “And the woods?”

“Ah! I should not like to be there alone, you will take me there.
But,” said she, “give me a little of that liquor which La Ponneuse has
taken such pains to prepare for us.”

“And why, my darling? It would put fire in your body.”

“Oh! That’s what I should like,” said she, biting her lip with
vexation, “because I desire to give you a child as soon as possible;
and I’m sure that liquor is good for the purpose.”

“Ah! my little one,” said the seneschal, knowing by this that Blanche
was a virgin from head to foot, “the goodwill of God is necessary for
this business, and women must be in a state of harvest.”

“And when should I be in a state of harvest?” asked she, smiling.

“When nature so wills it,” said he, trying to laugh.

“What is it necessary to do for this?” replied she.

“Ah! A cabalistical and alchemical operation which is very dangerous.”

“Ah!” said she, with a dreamy look, “that’s the reason why my mother
cried when thinking of the said metamorphosis; but Bertha de Breuilly,
who is so thankful for being made a wife, told me it was the easiest
thing in the world.”

“That’s according to the age,” replied the old lord. “But did you see
at the stable the beautiful white mare so much spoken of in Touraine?”

“Yes, she is very gentle and nice.”

“Well, I give her to you, and you can ride her as often as the fancy
takes you.”

“Oh, you are very kind, and they did not lie when they told me so.”

“Here,” continued he, “sweetheart; the butler, the chaplain, the
treasurer, the equerry, the farrier, the bailiff, even the Sire de
Montsoreau, the young varlet whose name is Gauttier and bears my
banner, with his men at arms, captains, followers, and beasts--all are
yours, and will instantly obey your orders under pain of being
incommoded with a hempen collar.”

“But,” replied she, “this mysterious operation--cannot it be performed
immediately?”

“Oh no!” replied the seneschal. “Because it is necessary above all
things that both the one and the other of us should be in a state of
grace before God; otherwise we should have a bad child, full of sin;
which is forbidden by the canons of the church. This is the reason
that there are so many incorrigible scapegraces in the world. Their
parents have not wisely waited to have their souls pure, and have
given wicked souls to their children. The beautiful and the virtuous
come of immaculate fathers; that is why we cause our beds to be
blessed, as the Abbot of Marmoustiers has done this one. Have you not
transgressed the ordinances of the Church?”

“Oh no,” said she, quickly, “I received before Mass absolution for all
my faults and have remained since without committing the slightest
sin.”

“You are very perfect,” said the cunning lord, “and I am delighted to
have you for a wife; but I have sworn like an infidel.”

“Oh! and why?”

“Because the dancing did not finish, and I could not have you to
myself to bring you here and kiss you.”

Thereupon he gallantly took her hands and covered them with kisses,
whispering to her little endearments and superficial words of
affection which made her quite pleased and contented.

Then, fatigued with the dance and all the ceremonies, she settled down
to her slumbers, saying to the seneschal--

“I will take care tomorrow that you shall not sin,” and she left the
old man quite smitten with her white beauty, amorous of her delicate
nature, and as embarrassed to know how he should be able to keep her
in her innocence as to explain why oxen chew their food twice over.
Although he did not augur to himself any good therefrom, it inflamed
him so much to see the exquisite perfections of Blanche during her
innocent and gentle sleep, that he resolved to preserve and defend
this pretty jewel of love. With tears in his eyes he kissed her sweet
golden tresses, the beautiful eyelids, and her ripe red mouth, and he
did it softly for fear of waking her. There was all his fruition, the
dumb delight which still inflamed his heart without in the least
affecting Blanche. Then he deplored the snows of his leafless old age,
the poor old man, that he saw clearly that God had amused himself by
giving him nuts when his teeth were gone.


HOW THE SENESCHAL STRUGGLED WITH HIS WIFE’S MODESTY.

During the first days of his marriage the seneschal imprinted many
fibs to tell his wife, whose so estimable innocence he abused.
Firstly, he found in his judicial functions good excuses for leaving
her at times alone; then he occupied himself with the peasants of the
neighbourhood, and took them to dress the vines on his lands at
Vouvray, and at length pampered her up with a thousand absurd tales.

At one time he would say that lords did not behave like common people,
that the children were only planted at certain celestial conjunctions
ascertained by learned astrologers; at another that one should abstain
from begetting children on feast days, because it was a great
undertaking; and he observed the feasts like a man who wished to enter
into Paradise without consent. Sometimes he would pretend that if by
chance the parents were not in a state of grace, the children
commenced on the date of St. Claire would be blind, of St. Gatien had
the gout, of St. Agnes were scaldheaded, of St. Roch had the plague;
sometimes that those begotten in February were chilly; in March, too
turbulent; in April, were worth nothing at all; and that handsome boys
were conceived in May. In short, he wished his child to be perfect, to
have his hair of two colours; and for this it was necessary that all
the required conditions should be observed. At other times he would
say to Blanche that the right of a man was to bestow a child upon his
wife according to his sole and unique will, and that if she pretended
to be a virtuous woman she should conform to the wishes of her
husband; in fact it was necessary to await the return of the Lady of
Azay in order that she should assist at the confinement; from all of
which Blanche concluded that the seneschal was annoyed by her
requests, and was perhaps right, since he was old and full of
experience; so she submitted herself and thought no more, except to
herself, of this so much-desired child, that is to say, she was always
thinking of it, like a woman who has a desire in her head, without
suspecting that she was behaving like a gay lady or a town-walker
running after her enjoyment. One evening, by accident, Bruyn spoke of
children, a discourse that he avoided as cats avoid water, but he was
complaining of a boy condemned by him that morning for great misdeeds,
saying for certain he was the offspring of people laden with mortal
sins.

“Alas!” said Blanche, “if you will give me one, although you have not
got absolution, I will correct so well that you will be pleased with
him.”

Then the count saw that his wife was bitten by a warm desire, and that
it was time to dissipate her innocence in order to make himself master
of it, to conquer it, to beat it, or to appease and extinguish it.

“What, my dear, you wish to be a mother?” said he; “you do not yet
know the business of a wife, you are not accustomed to being mistress
of the house.”

“Oh! Oh!” said she, “to be a perfect countess, and have in my loins a
little count, must I play the great lady? I will do it, and
thoroughly.”

Then Blanche, in order to obtain issue, began to hunt the fawns and
stags, leaping the ditches, galloping upon her mare over valleys and
mountain, through the woods and the fields, taking great delight in
watching the falcons fly, in unhooding them and while hunting always
carried them gracefully upon her little wrist, which was what the
seneschal had desired. But in this pursuit, Blanche gained an appetite
of nun and prelate, that is to say, wished to procreate, had her
desires whetted, and could scarcely restrain her hunger, when on her
return she gave play to her teeth. Now by reason of reading the
legends written by the way, and of separating by death the embraces of
birds and wild beasts, she discovered a mystery of natural alchemy,
while colouring her complexion, and superagitating her feeble
imagination, which did little to pacify her warlike nature, and
strongly tickled her desire which laughed, played, and frisked
unmistakably. The seneschal thought to disarm the rebellious virtue of
his wife by making her scour the country; but his fraud turned out
badly, for the unknown lust that circulated in the veins of Blanche
emerged from these assaults more hardy than before, inviting jousts
and tourneys as the herald the armed knight.

The good lord saw then that he had grossly erred and that he was now
upon the horns of a dilemma; also he no longer knew what course to
adopt; the longer he left it the more it would resist. From this
combat, there must result one conquered and one contused--a diabolical
contusion which he wished to keep distant from his physiognomy by
God’s help until after his death. The poor seneschal had already great
trouble to follow his lady to the chase, without being dismounted; he
sweated under the weight of his trappings, and almost expired in that
pursuit wherein his frisky wife cheered her life and took great
pleasure. Many times in the evening she wished to dance. Now the good
man, swathed in his heavy clothing, found himself quite worn out with
these exercises, in which he was constrained to participate either in
giving her his hand, when she performed the vaults of the Moorish
girl, or in holding the lighted fagot for her, when she had a fancy to
do the torchlight dance; and in spite of his sciaticas, accretions,
and rheumatisms, he was obliged to smile and say to her some gentle
words and gallantries after all the evolutions, mummeries, and comic
pantomimes, which she indulged in to divert herself; for he loved her
so madly that if she had asked him for an impossibility he would have
sought one for her immediately.

Nevertheless, one fine day he recognised the fact that his frame was
in a state of too great debility to struggle with the vigorous nature
of his wife, and humiliating himself before his wife’s virtue he
resolved to let things take their course, relying a little upon the
modesty, religion, and bashfulness of Blanche, but he always slept
with one eye open, for he suspected that God had perhaps made
virginities to be taken like partridges, to be spitted and roasted.
One wet morning, when the weather was that in which the snails make
their tracks, a melancholy time, and suitable to reverie, Blanche was
in the house sitting in her chair in deep thought, because nothing
produces more lively concoctions of the substantive essences, and no
receipt, specific or philter is more penetrating, transpiercing or
doubly transpiercing and titillating than the subtle warmth which
simmers between the nap of the chair and a maiden sitting during
certain weather.

Now without knowing it the Countess was incommoded by her innocence,
which gave more trouble than it was worth to her brain, and gnawed her
all over. Then the good man, seriously grieved to see her languishing,
wished to drive away the thoughts which were ultra-conjugal principles
of love.

“Whence comes your sadness, sweetheart?” said he.

“From shame.”

“What then affronts you?”

“The not being a good woman; because I am without a child, and you
without lineage! Is one a lady without progeny? Nay! Look! . . . All
my neighbours have it, and I was married to have it, as you to give it
to me; the nobles of Touraine are all amply furnished with children,
and their wives give them lapfuls, you alone have none, they laugh at
you there. What will become of your name and your fiefs and your
seigniories? A child is our natural company; it is a delight to us to
make a fright of it, to fondle it, to swaddle it, to dress and undress
it, to cuddle it, to sing it lullabies, to cradle it, to get it up, to
put it to bed, and to nourish it, and I feel that if I had only the
half of one, I would kiss it, swaddle it, and unharness it, and I
would make it jump and crow all day long, as the other ladies do.”

“Were it not that in giving them birth women die, and that for this
you are still too delicate and too close in the bud, you would already
be a mother,” replied the seneschal, made giddy with the flow of
words. “But will you buy one ready-made?--that will cost you neither
pain nor labour.”

“But,” said she, “I want the pain and labour, without which it will
not be ours. I know very well it should be the fruit of my body,
because at church they say that Jesus was the fruit of the Virgin’s
womb.”

“Very well, then pray God that it may be so,” cried the seneschal,
“and intercede with the Virgin of Egrignolles. Many a lady has
conceived after the neuvaine; you must not fail to do one.”

Then the same day Blanche set out towards Notre-Dame de l’Egrignolles,
decked out like a queen riding her beautiful mare, having on her a
robe of green velvet, laced down with fine gold lace, open at the
breast, having sleeves of scarlet, little shoes and a high hat
ornamented with precious stones, and a gold waistband that showed off
her little waist, as slim as a pole. She wished to give her dress to
Madame the Virgin, and in fact promised it to her, for the day of her
churching. The Sire de Montsoreau galloped before her, his eye bright
as that of a hawk, keeping the people back and guarding with his
knights the security of the journey. Near Marmoustiers the seneschal,
rendered sleepy by the heat, seeing it was the month of August,
waggled about in his saddle, like a diadem upon the head of a cow, and
seeing so frolicsome and so pretty a lady by the side of so old a
fellow, a peasant girl, who was squatting near the trunk of a tree and
drinking water out of her stone jug inquired of a toothless old hag,
who picked up a trifle by gleaning, if this princess was going to bury
her dead.

“Nay,” said the old woman, “it is our lady of Roche-Corbon, wife of
the seneschal of Poitou and Touraine, in quest of a child.”

“Ah! Ah!” said the young girl, laughing like a fly just satisfied;
then pointing to the handsome knight who was at the head of the
procession--“he who marches at the head would manage that; she would
save the wax-candles and the vow.”

“Ha! my little one,” replied the hag, “I am rather surprised that she
should go to Notre-Dame de l’Egrignolles seeing that there are no
handsome priests there. She might very well stop for a short time
beneath the shadow the belfry of Marmoustiers; she would soon be
fertile, those good fathers are so lively.”

“By a nun’s oath!” said a tramp walking up, “look; the Sire de
Montsoreau is lively and delicate enough to open the lady’s heart, the
more so as he is well formed to do so.”

And all commenced a laugh. The Sire de Montsoreau wished to go to them
and hang them in lime-tree by the road as a punishment for their bad
words, but Blanche cried out quickly--

“Oh, sir, do not hang them yet. They have not said all they mean; and
we shall see them on our return.”

She blushed, and the Sire de Montsoreau looked at her eagerly, as
though to shoot into her the mystic comprehensions of love, but the
clearing out of her intelligence had already been commenced by the
sayings of the peasants which were fructifying in her understanding
--her innocence was like touchwood, there was only need for a word
to inflame it.

Thus Blanche perceived now the notable and physical differences
between the qualities of her old husband and perfections of the said
Gauttier, a gentleman who was not over affected with his twenty-three
years, but held himself upright as a ninepin in the saddle, and as
wide-awake as the matin chimes, while in contrast to him, slept the
seneschal; he had courage and dexterity there where his master failed.
He was one of those smart fellows whom the jades would sooner wear at
night than a leathern garment, because they then no longer fear the
fleas; there are some who vituperate them, but no one should be
blamed, because every one should sleep as he likes.

So much did the seneschal’s lady think, and so imperially well, that
by the time she arrived at the bridge of Tours, she loved Gauttier
secretly, as a maiden loves, without suspecting that it is love. From
that she became a proper woman, that is to say, she desired the good
of others, the best that men have, she fell into a fit of
love-sickness, going at the first jump to the depth of her misery,
seeing that all is flame between the first coveting and the last desire,
and she knew not how she then learned that by the eyes can flow in a
subtle essence, causing such powerful corrosions in all the veins of
the body, recesses of the heart, nerves of the members, roots of the
hair, perspiration of the substance, limbo of the brain, orifices of
the epidermis, windings of the pluck, tubes of the hypochondriac and
other channels which in her was suddenly dilated, heated, tickled,
envenomed, clawed, harrowed, and disturbed, as if she had a basketful
of needles in her inside. This was a maiden’s desire, a
well-conditioned desire, which troubled her sight to such a degree that
she no longer saw her old spouse, but clearly the young Gauttier, whose
nature was as ample as the glorious chin of an abbot. When the good
man entered Tours the Ah! Ah! of the crowd woke him up, and he came
with great pomp with his suite to the Church of Notre-Dame de
l’Egrignolles, formerly called la greigneur, as if you said that which
has the most merit. Blanche went into the chapel where children are
asked to God and of the Virgin, and went there alone, as was the
custom, always however in the presence of the seneschal, of his
varlets and the loiterers who remained outside the grill. When the
countess saw the priest come who had charge of the masses said for
children, and who received the said vows, she asked him if there were
many barren women. To which the good priest replied, that he must not
complain, and that the children were good revenue to the Church.

“And do you often see,” said Blanche, “young women with such old
husbands as my lord?”

“Rarely,” said he.

“But have those obtained offspring?”

“Always,” replied the priest smiling.

“And the others whose companions are not so old?”

“Sometimes.”

“Oh! Oh!” said she, “there is more certainty then with one like the
seneschal?”

“To be sure,” said the priest.

“Why?” said she.

“Madame,” gravely replied priest, “before that age God alone
interferes with the affair, after, it is the men.”

At this time it was a true thing that all the wisdom had gone to the
clergy. Blanch made her vow, which was a very profitable one, seeing
that her decorations were worth quite two thousand gold crowns.

“You are very joyful!” said the old seneschal to her when on the home
journey she made her mare prance, jump, and frisk.

“Yes, yes!” said she. “There is no longer any doubt about my having a
child, because any one can help me, the priest said: I shall take
Gauttier.”

The seneschal wished to go and slay the monk, but he thought that was
a crime which would cost him too much, and he resolved cunningly to
arrange his vengeance with the help of the archbishop; and before the
housetops of Roche-Corbon came in sight he had ordered the Sire de
Montsoreau to seek a little retirement in his own country, which the
young Gauttier did, knowing the ways of the lord. The seneschal put in
the place of the said Gauttier the son of the Sire de Jallanges, whose
fief was held from Roche-Corbon. He was a young boy named Rene,
approaching fourteen years, and he made him a page, awaiting the time
when he should be old enough to be an equerry, and gave the command of
his men to an old cripple, with whom he had knocked about a great deal
in Palestine and other places. Thus the good man believed he would
avoid the horned trappings of cuckoldom, and would still be able to
girth, bridle, and curb the factious innocence of his wife, which
struggled like a mule held by a rope.


THAT WHICH IS ONLY A VENIAL SIN.

The Sunday following the arrival of Rene at the manor of Roche-Corbon,
Blanche went out hunting without her goodman, and when she was in the
forest near Les Carneaux, saw a monk who appeared to be pushing a girl
about more than was necessary, and spurred on her horse, saying to her
people, “Ho there! Don’t let him kill her.” But when the seneschal’s
lady arrived close to them, she turned her horse’s head quickly and
the sight she beheld prevented her from hunting. She came back
pensive, and then the lantern of her intelligence opened, and received
a bright light, which made a thousand things clear, such as church and
other pictures, fables, and lays of the troubadours, or the domestic
arrangements of birds; suddenly she discovered the sweet mystery of
love written in all languages, even in that of the Carps’. Is it not
silly thus to seal this science from maidens? Soon Blanche went to
bed, and soon said she to the seneschal--

“Bruyn, you have deceived me, you ought to behave as the monk of the
Carneaux behaved to the girl.”

Old Bruyn suspected the adventure, and saw well that his evil hour was
at hand. He regarded Blanche with too much fire in his eyes for the
same ardour to be lower down, and answered her softly--

“Alas! sweetheart, in taking you for my wife I had more love than
strength, and I have taken advantage of your clemency and virtue. The
great sorrow of my life is to feel all my capability in my heart only.
This sorrow hastens my death little by little, so that you will soon
be free. Wait for my departure from this world. That is the sole
request that he makes of you, he who is your master, and who could
command you, but who wishes only to be your prime minister and slave.
Do not betray the honour of my white hairs! Under these circumstances
there have been lords who have slain their wives.

“Alas! you will not kill me?” said she.

“No,” replied the old man, “I love thee too much, little one; why,
thou art the flower of my old age, the joy of my soul. Thou art my
well-beloved daughter; the sight of thee does good to mine eyes, and
from thee I could endure anything, be it a sorrow or a joy, provided
that thou does not curse too much the poor Bruyn who has made thee a
great lady, rich and honoured. Wilt thou not be a lovely widow? And
thy happiness will soften the pangs of death.”

And he found in his dried-up eyes still one tear which trickled quite
warm down his fir-cone coloured face, and fell upon the hand of
Blanche, who, grieved to behold this great love of her old spouse who
would put himself under the ground to please her, said laughingly--

“There! there! don’t cry, I will wait.”

Thereupon the seneschal kissed her hands and regaled her with little
endearments, saying with a voice quivering with emotion--

“If you knew, Blanche my darling, how I devour thee in thy sleep with
caresses, now here, now there!” And the old ape patted her with his
two hands, which were nothing but bones. And he continued, “I dared
not waken the cat that would have strangled my happiness, since at
this occupation of love I only embraced with my heart.”

“Ah!” replied she, “you can fondle me thus even when my eyes are open;
that has not the least effect upon me.”

At these words the poor seneschal, taking the little dagger which was
on the table by the bed, gave it to her, saying with passion--

“My darling, kill me, or let me believe that you love me a little!”

“Yes, yes,” said she, quite frightened, “I will try to love you much.”

Behold how this young maidenhood made itself master of this old man
and subdued him, for in the name of the sweet face of Venus, Blanche,
endowed with the natural artfulness of women, made her old Bruyn come
and go like a miller’s mule.

“My good Bruyn, I want this! Bruyn, I want that--go on Bruyn!” Bruyn!
Bruyn! And always Bruyn in such a way that Bruyn was more worn-out by
the clemency of his wife than he would have been by her unkindness.
She turned his brain wishing that everything should be in scarlet,
making him turn everything topsy-turvy at the least movement of her
eyebrow, and when she was sad the seneschal distracted, would say to
everything from his judicial seat, “Hang him!” Another would have died
like a fly at this conflict with the maid’s innocence, but Bruyn was
of such an iron nature that it was difficult to finish him off. One
evening that Blanche had turned the house upside-down, upset the men
and the beasts, and would by her aggravating humour have made the
eternal father desperate--he who has such an infinite treasure of
patience since he endures us--she said to the seneschal while getting
into bed, “My good Bruyn, I have low down fancies, that bite and prick
me; thence they rise into my heart, inflame my brain, incite me
therein to evil deeds, and in the night I dream of the monk of the
Carneaux.”

“My dear,” replied the seneschal, “these are devilries and temptations
against which the monks and nuns know how to defend themselves. If you
will gain salvation, go and confess to the worthy Abbot of
Marmoustiers, our neighbour; he will advise you well and will holily
direct you in the good way.”

“Tomorrow I will go,” said she.

And indeed directly it was day, she trotted off to the monastery of
the good brethren, who marvelled to see among them so pretty a lady;
committed more than one sin through her in the evening; and for the
present led her with great ceremony to their reverend abbot.

Blanche found the said good man in a private garden near the high rock
under a flower arcade, and remained stricken with respect at the
countenance of the holy man, although she was accustomed not to think
much of grey hairs.

“God preserve you, Madame; what can you have to seek of one so near
death, you so young?”

“Your precious advice,” said she, saluting him with a courtesy; “and
if it will please you to guide so undutiful a sheep, I shall be well
content to have so wise a confessor.”

“My daughter,” answered the monk, with whom old Bruyn had arranged
this hypocrisy and the part to play, “if I had not the chills of a
hundred winters upon this unthatched head, I should not dare to listen
to your sins, but say on; if you enter paradise, it will be through
me.”

Then the seneschal’s wife set forth the small fry of her stock in
hand, and when she was purged of her little iniquities, she came to
the postscript of her confession.

“Ah! my father!” said she, “I must confess to you that I am daily
exercised by the desire to have a child. Is it wrong?”

“No,” said the abbot.

But she went on, “It is by nature commanded to my husband not to draw
from his wealth to bring about his poverty, as the old women say by
the way.”

“Then,” replied the priest, “you must live virtuously and abstain from
all thoughts of this kind.”

“But I have heard it professed by the Lady of Jallanges, that it was
not a sin when from it one derived neither profit nor pleasure.”

“There always is pleasure,” said the abbot, “but don’t count upon the
child as a profit. Now fix this in your understanding, that it will
always be a mortal sin before God and a crime before men to bring
forth a child through the embraces of a man to whom one is not
ecclesiastically married. Thus those women who offend against the holy
laws of marriage, suffer great penalties in the other world, are in
the power of horrible monsters with sharp and tearing claws, who
thrust them into flaming furnaces in remembrance of the fact that here
below they have warmed their hearts a little more than was lawful.”

Thereupon Blanche scratched her ear, and having thought to herself for
a little while, she said to the priest, “How then did the Virgin
Mary?”

“Ah!” replied abbot, “that it is a mystery.”

“And what is a mystery?”

“A thing that cannot be explained, and which one ought to believe
without enquiring into it.”

“Well then,” said she, “cannot I perform a mystery?”

“This one,” said the Abbot, “only happened once, because it was the
Son of God.”

“Alas! my father, is it then the will of God that I should die, or
that from wise and sound comprehension my brain should be turned? Of
this there is a great danger. Now in me something moves and excites
me, and I am no longer in my senses. I care for nothing, and to find a
man I would leap the walls, dash over the fields without shame and
tear my things into tatters, only to see that which so much excited
the monk of the Carneaux; and during these passions which work and
prick my mind and body, there is neither God, devil, nor husband. I
spring, I run, I smash up the wash-tubs, the pots, the farm
implements, a fowl-house, the household things, and everything, in a
way that I cannot describe. But I dare not confess to you all my
misdeeds, because speaking of them makes my mouth water, and the thing
with which God curses me makes me itch dreadfully. If this folly bites
and pricks me, and slays my virtue, will God, who has placed this
great love in my body, condemn me to perdition?”

At this question it was the priest who scratched his ear, quite
dumbfounded by the lamentations, profound wisdom, controversies and
intelligence that this virginity secreted.

“My daughter,” said he, “God has distinguished us from the beasts and
made us a paradise to gain, and for this given us reason, which is a
rudder to steer us against tempests and our ambitious desires, and
there is a means of easing the imaginations of one’s brain by fasting,
excessive labours, and other virtues; and instead of frisking and
fretting like a child let loose from school, you should pray to the
virgin, sleep on a hard board, attend to your household duties, and
never be idle.”

“Ah! my father, when I am at church in my seat, I see neither the
priest nor the altar, only the infant Jesus, who brings the thing into
my head. But to finish, if my head is turned and my mind wanders, I am
in the lime-twigs of love.”

“If thus you were,” said the abbot, imprudently, “you would be in the
position of Saint Lidoire, who in a deep sleep one day, one leg here
and one leg there, through the great heat and scantily attired, was
approached by a young man full of mischief, who dexterously seduced
her, and as of this trick the saint was thoroughly ignorant, and much
surprised at being brought to bed, thinking that her unusual size was
a serious malady, she did penance for it as a venial sin, as she had
no pleasure in this wicked business, according to the statement of the
wicked man, who said upon the scaffold where he was executed, that the
saint had in nowise stirred.”

“Oh, my father,” said she, “be sure that I should not stir more than
she did!”

With this statement she went away prettily and gracefully, smiling and
thinking how she could commit a venial sin. On her return from the
great monastery, she saw in the courtyard of her castle the little
Jallanges, who under the superintendence of an old groom was turning
and wheeling about on a fine horse, bending with the movements of the
animal, dismounting and mounting again with vaults and leaps most
gracefully, and with lissome thighs, so pretty, so dextrous, so
upright as to be indescribable, so much so, that he would have made
the Queen Lucrece long for him, she who killed herself from having
been contaminated against her will.

“Ah!” said Blanche, “if only this page were fifteen, I would go to
sleep comfortably very near to him.”

Then, in spite of the too great youth of this charming servitor,
during the collation and supper, she eyed frequently the black hair,
the white skin, the grace of Rene, above all his eyes, where was an
abundance of limpid warmth and a great fire of life, which he was
afraid to shoot out--child that he was.

Now in the evening, as the seneschal’s wife sat thoughtfully in her
chair in the corner of the fireplace, old Bruyn interrogated her as to
her trouble.

“I am thinking.” said she, “that you must have fought the battles of
love very early, to be thus completely broken up.”

“Oh!” smiled he, smiling like all old men questioned upon their
amorous remembrances, “at the age of thirteen and a half I had
overcome the scruples of my mother’s waiting woman.”

Blanche wished to hear nothing more, but believed the page Rene should
be equally advanced, and she was quite joyous and practised little
allurements on the good man, and wallowed silently in her desire, like
a cake which is being floured.


HOW AND BY WHOM THE SAID CHILD WAS PROCURED.

The seneschal’s wife did not think long over the best way quickly to
awaken the love of the page, and had soon discovered the natural
ambuscade in the which the most wary are taken. This is how: at the
warmest hour of the day the good man took his siesta after the Saracen
fashion, a habit in which he had never failed, since his return from
the Holy Land. During this time Blanche was alone in the grounds,
where the women work at their minor occupations, such as broidering
and stitching, and often remained in the rooms looking after the
washing, putting the clothes tidy, or running about at will. Then she
appointed this quiet hour to complete the education of the page,
making him read books and say his prayers. Now on the morrow, when at
the mid-day hour the seneschal slept, succumbing to the sun which
warms with its most luminous rays the slopes of Roche-Corbon, so much
so that one is obliged to sleep, unless annoyed, upset, and
continually roused by a devil of a young woman. Blanche then
gracefully perched herself in the great seignorial chair of her good
man, which she did not find any too high, since she counted upon the
chances of perspective. The cunning jade settled herself dextrously
therein, like a swallow in its nest, and leaned her head maliciously
upon her arm like a child that sleeps; but in making her preparations
she opened fond eyes, that smiled and winked in advance of the little
secret thrills, sneezes, squints, and trances of the page who was
about to lie at her feet, separated from her by the jump of an old
flea; and in fact she advanced so much and so near the square of
velvet where the poor child should kneel, whose life and soul she
trifled with, that had he been a saint of stone, his glance would have
been constrained to follow the flexousities of the dress in order to
admire and re-admire the perfections and beauties of the shapely leg,
which moulded the white stocking of the seneschal’s lady. Thus it was
certain that a weak varlet would be taken in the snare, wherein the
most vigorous knight would willingly have succumbed. When she had
turned, returned, placed and displaced her body, and found the
situation in which the page would be most comfortable, she cried,
gently. “Rene!” Rene, whom she knew well was in the guard-room, did
not fail to run in and quickly thrust his brown head between the
tapestries of the door.

“What do you please to wish?” said the page. And he held with great
respect in his hand his shaggy scarlet cap, less red than his fresh
dimpled cheeks.

“Come hither,” replied she, under her breath, for the child attracted
her so strongly that she was quite overcome.

And forsooth there were no jewels so sparkling as the eyes of Rene, no
vellum whiter than his skin, no woman more exquisite in shape--and so
near to her desire, she found him still more sweetly formed--and was
certain that the merry frolics of love would radiate well from this
youth, the warm sun, the silence, et cetera.

“Read me the litanies of Madame the Virgin,” said she to him, pushing
an open book him on her prieu-dieu. “Let me see if you are well taught
by your master.”

“Do you not think the Virgin beautiful?” asked she of him, smiling
when he held the illuminated prayer-book in which glowed the silver
and gold.

“It is a painting,” replied he, timidly, and casting a little glance
upon his so gracious mistress.

“Read! read!”

Then Rene began to recite the so sweet and so mystic litanies; but you
may imagine that the “Ora pro nobis” of Blanche became still fainter
and fainter, like the sound of the horn in the woodlands, and when the
page went on, “Oh, Rose of mystery,” the lady, who certainly heard
distinctly, replied by a gentle sigh. Thereupon Rene suspected that
his mistress slept. Then he commenced to cover her with his regard,
admiring her at his leisure, and had then no wish to utter any anthem
save the anthem of love. His happiness made his heart leap and bound
into his throat; thus, as was but natural, these two innocents burned
one against the other, but if they could have foreseen never would
have intermingled. Rene feasted his eyes, planning in his mind a
thousand fruitions of love that brought the water into his mouth. In
his ecstasy he let his book fall, which made him feel as sheepish as a
monk surprised at a child’s tricks; but also from that he knew that
Blanche was sound asleep, for she did not stir, and the wily jade
would not have opened her eyes even at the greatest dangers, and
reckoned on something else falling as well as the book of prayer.

There is no worse longing than the longing of a woman in certain
condition. Now, the page noticed his lady’s foot, which was delicately
slippered in a little shoe of a delicate blue colour. She had
angularly placed it on a footstool, since she was too high in the
seneschal’s chair. This foot was of narrow proportions, delicately
curved, as broad as two fingers, and as long as a sparrow, tail
included, small at the top--a true foot of delight, a virginal foot
that merited a kiss as a robber does the gallows; a roguish foot; a
foot wanton enough to damn an archangel; an ominous foot; a devilishly
enticing foot, which gave one a desire to make two new ones just like
it to perpetuate in this lower world the glorious works of God. The
page was tempted to take the shoe from this persuasive foot. To
accomplish this his eyes glowing with the fire of his age, went
swiftly, like the clapper of a bell, from this said foot of
delectation to the sleeping countenance of his lady and mistress,
listening to her slumber, drinking in her respiration again and again,
it did not know where it would be sweetest to plant a kiss--whether on
the ripe red lips of the seneschal’s wife or on this speaking foot. At
length, from respect or fear, or perhaps from great love, he chose the
foot, and kissed it hastily, like a maiden who dares not. Then
immediately he took up his book, feeling his red cheeks redder still,
and exercised with his pleasure, he cried like a blind man--“_Janua
coeli,: gate of Heaven_.” But Blanche did not move, making sure that
the page would go from foot to knee, and thence to “_Janua coeli,: gate
of Heaven_.” She was greatly disappointed when the litanies finished
without any other mischief, and Rene, believing he had had enough
happiness for one day, ran out of the room quite lively, richer from
this hardy kiss than a robber who has robbed the poor-box.

When the seneschal’s lady was alone, she thought to herself that this
page would be rather a long time at his task if he amused himself with
the singing of the Magnificat at matins. Then she determined on the
morrow to raise her foot a little, and then to bring to light those
hidden beauties that are called perfect in Touraine, because they take
no hurt in the open air, and are always fresh. You can imagine that
the page, burned by his desire and his imagination, heated by the day
before, awaited impatiently the hour to read in this breviary of
gallantry, and was called; and the conspiracy of the litanies
commenced again, and Blanche did not fail to fall asleep. This time
the said Rene fondled with his hand the pretty limb, and even ventured
so far as to verify if the polished knee and its surroundings were
satin. At this sight the poor child, armed against his desire, so
great was his fear, dared only to make brief devotion and curt
caresses, and although he kissed softly this fair surface, he remained
bashful, the which, feeling by the senses of her soul and the
intelligence of her body, the seneschal’s lady who took great care not
to move, called out to him--“Ah, Rene, I am asleep.”

Hearing what he believed to be a stern reproach, the page frightened
ran away, leaving the books, the task, and all. Thereupon, the
seneschal’s better half added this prayer to the litany--“Holy Virgin,
how difficult children are to make.”

At dinner her page perspired all down his back while waiting on his
lady and her lord; but he was very much surprised when he received
from Blanche the most shameless of all glances that ever woman cast,
and very pleasant and powerful it was, seeing that it changed this
child into a man of courage. Now, the same evening Bruyn staying a
little longer than was his custom in his own apartment, the page went
in search of Blanche, and found her asleep, and made her dream a
beautiful dream.

He knocked off the chains that weighed so heavily upon her, and so
plentifully bestowed upon her the sweets of love, that the surplus
would have sufficed to render to others blessed with the joys of
maternity. So then the minx, seizing the page by the head and
squeezing him to her, cried out--“Oh, Rene! Thou hast awakened me!”

And in fact there was no sleep could stand against it, and it is
certain that saints must sleep very soundly. From this business,
without any other mystery, and by a benign faculty which is the
assisting principle of spouses, the sweet and graceful plumage,
suitable to cuckolds, was placed upon the head of the good husband
without his experiencing the slightest shock.

After this sweet repast, the seneschal’s lady took kindly to her
siesta after the French fashion, while Bruyn took his according to the
Saracen. But by the said siesta she learned how the good youth of the
page had a better taste than that of the old seneschal, and at night
she buried herself in the sheets far away from her husband, whom she
found strong and stale. And from sleeping and waking up in the day,
from taking siestas and saying litanies, the seneschal’s wife felt
growing within her that treasure for which she had so often and so
ardently sighed; but now she liked more the commencement than the
fructifying of it.

You may be sure that Rene knew how to read, not only in books, but in
the eyes of his sweet lady, for whom he would have leaped into a
flaming pile, had it been her wish he should do so. When well and
amply, more than a hundred times, the train had been laid by them, the
little lady became anxious about her soul and the future of her friend
the page. Now one rainy day, as they were playing at touch-tag, like
two children, innocent from head to foot, Blanche, who was always
caught, said to him--

“Come here, Rene; do you know that while I have only committed venial
sins because I was asleep, you have committed mortal ones?”

“Ah, Madame!” said he, “where then will God stow away all the damned
if that is to sin!”

Blanche burst out laughing, and kissed his forehead.

“Be quiet, you naughty boy; it is a question of paradise, and we must
live there together if you wish always to be with me.”

“Oh, my paradise is here.”

“Leave off,” said she. “You are a little wretch--a scapegrace who does
not think of that which I love--yourself! You do not know that I am
with child, and that in a little while I shall be no more able to
conceal it than my nose. Now, what will the abbot say? What will my
lord say? He will kill you if he puts himself in a passion. My advice
is little one, that you go to the abbot of Marmoustiers, confess your
sins to him, asking him to see what had better be done concerning my
seneschal.

“Alas,” said the artful page, “if I tell the secret of our joys, he
will put his interdict upon our love.”

“Very likely,” said she; “but thy happiness in the other world is a
thing so precious to me.”

“Do you wish it my darling?”

“Yes,” replied she rather faintly.

“Well, I will go, but sleep again that I may bid you adieu.”

And the couple recited the litany of Farewells as if they had both
foreseen that their love must finish in its April. And on the morrow,
more to save his dear lady than to save himself, and also to obey her,
Rene de Jallanges set out towards the great monastery.


HOW THE SAID LOVE-SIN WAS REPENTED OF AND LED TO GREAT MOURNING.

“Good God!” cried the abbot, when the page had chanted the Kyrie
eleison of his sweet sins, “thou art the accomplice of a great felony,
and thou has betrayed thy lord. Dost thou know page of darkness, that
for this thou wilt burn through all eternity? and dost thou know what
it is to lose forever the heaven above for a perishable and changeful
moment here below? Unhappy wretch! I see thee precipitated for ever in
the gulfs of hell unless thou payest to God in this world that which
thou owest him for such offence.”

Thereupon the good old abbot, who was of that flesh of which saints
are made, and who had great authority in the country of Touraine,
terrified the young man by a heap of representations, Christian
discourses, remembrances of the commandments of the Church, and a
thousand eloquent things--as many as a devil could say in six weeks to
seduce a maiden--but so many that Rene, who was in the loyal fervour
of innocence, made his submission to the good abbot. The said abbot,
wishing to make forever a good and virtuous man of this child, now in
a fair way to be a wicked one, commanded him first to go and prostrate
himself before his lord, to confess his conduct to him, and then if he
escaped from this confession, to depart instantly for the Crusades,
and go straight to the Holy Land, where he should remain fifteen years
of the time appointed to give battle to the Infidels.

“Alas, my reverend father,” said he, quite unmoved, “will fifteen
years be enough to acquit me of so much pleasure? Ah! If you knew, I
have had joy enough for a thousand years.”

“God will be generous. Go,” replied the old abbot, “and sin no more.
On this account, _ego te absolvo_.”

Poor Rene returned thereupon with great contrition to the castle of
Roche-Corbon and the first person he met was the seneschal, who was
polishing up his arms, helmets, gauntlets, and other things. He was
sitting on a great marble bench in the open air, and was amusing
himself by making shine again the splendid trappings which brought
back to him the merry pranks in the Holy Land, the good jokes, and the
wenches, et cetera. When Rene fell upon his knees before him, the good
lord was much astonished.

“What is it?” said he.

“My lord,” replied Rene, “order these people to retire.”

Which the servants having done, the page confessed his fault,
recounting how he had assailed his lady in her sleep, and that for
certain he had made her a mother in imitation of the man and the
saint, and came by order of the confessor to put himself at the
disposition of the offended person. Having said which, Rene de
Jallanges cast down his lovely eyes, which had produced all the
mischief, and remained abashed, prostrate without fear, his arms
hanging down, his head bare, awaiting his punishment, and humbling
himself to God. The seneschal was not so white that he could not
become whiter, and now he blanched like linen newly dried, remaining
dumb with passion. And this old man who had not in his veins the vital
force to procreate a child, found in this moment of fury more vigour
than was necessary to undo a man. He seized with his hairy right hand
his heavy club, lifted it, brandished it and adjusted it so easily you
could have thought it a bowl at a game of skittles, to bring it down
upon the pale forehead of the said Rene, who knowing that he was
greatly in fault towards his lord, remained placid, and stretching his
neck, thought that he was about to expiate his sin for his sweetheart
in this world and in the other.

But his fair youth, and all the natural seductions of this sweet
crime, found grace before the tribunal of the heart of this old man,
although Bruyn was still severe, and throwing his club away on to a
dog who was catching beetles, he cried out, “May a thousand million
claws, tear during all eternity, all the entrails of him, who made
him, who planted the oak, that made the chair, on which thou hast
antlered me--and the same to those who engendered thee, cursed page of
misfortune! Get thee to the devil, whence thou camest--go out from
before me, from the castle, from the country, and stay not here one
moment more than is necessary, otherwise I will surely prepare for
thee a death by slow fire that shall make thee curse twenty times an
hour thy villainous and ribald partner!”

Hearing the commencement of these little speeches of the seneschal,
whose youth came back in his oaths, the page ran away, escaping the
rest: and he did well. Bruyn, burning with a fierce rage, gained the
gardens speedily, reviling everything by the way, striking and
swearing; he even knocked over three large pans held by one of his
servants, was carrying the mess to the dogs, and he was so beside
himself that he would have killed a labourer for a “thank you.” He
soon perceived his unmaidenly maiden, who was looking towards the road
to the monastery, waiting for the page, and unaware that she would
never see him again.

“Ah, my lady! By the devil’s red three-pronged fork, am I a swallower
of tarradiddles and a child, to believe that you are so fashioned that
a page can behave in this manner and you not know it? By the death! By
the head! By the blood!”

“Hold!” she replied, seeing that the mine was sprung, “I knew it well
enough, but as you had not instructed me in these matters I thought
that I was dreaming!”

The great ire of the seneschal melted like snow in the sun, for the
direst anger of God himself would have vanished at a smile from
Blanche.

“May a thousand millions of devils carry off this alien child! I swear
that--”

“There! there! do not swear,” said she. “If it is not yours, it is
mine; and the other night did you not tell me you loved everything
that came from me?”

Thereupon she ran on with such a lot of arguments, hard words,
complaints, quarrels, tears, and other paternosters of women; such as
--firstly the estates would not have to be returned to the king; that
never had a child been brought more innocently into the world, that
this, that that, a thousand things; until the good cuckold relented,
and Blanche, seizing a propitious interruption said--

“And where it is the page?”

“Gone to the devil!”

“What, have you killed him?” said she. She turned pale and tottered.

Bruyn did not know what would become of him when he saw thus fall all
the happiness of his old age, and he would to save her have shown her
this page. He ordered him to be sought, but Rene had run off at full
speed, fearing he should be killed; and departed for the lands beyond
the seas, in order to accomplish his vow of religion. When Blanche had
learned from the above-mentioned abbot the penitence imposed upon her
well beloved, she fell into a state of great melancholy, saying at
times, “Where is he, the poor unfortunate, who is in the middle of
great dangers for love of me?”

And always kept on asking, like a child who gives its mother no rest
until its request be granted it. At these lamentations the poor
seneschal, feeling himself to blame, endeavoured to do a thousand
things, putting one out of the question, in order to make Blanche
happy; but nothing was equal to the sweet caresses of the page.
However, she had one day the child so much desired. You may be sure
that was a fine festival for the good cuckold, for the resemblance to
the father was distinctly engraved upon the face of this sweet fruit
of love. Blanche consoled herself greatly, and picked up again a
little of her old gaiety and flower of innocence, which rejoiced the
aged hours of the seneschal. From constantly seeing the little one run
about, watching its laughs answer those of the countess, he finished
by loving it, and would have been in a great rage with anyone who had
not believed him its father.

Now as the adventure of Blanche and her page had not been carried
beyond the castle, it was related throughout Touraine that Messire
Bruyn had still found himself sufficiently in funds to afford a child.
Intact remained the virtue of Blanche, and by the quintessence of
instruction drawn by her from the natural reservoir of women, she
recognised how necessary it was to be silent concerning the venial sin
with which her child was covered. So she became modest and good, and
was cited as a virtuous person. And then to make use of him she
experimented on the goodness of her good man, and without giving him
leave to go further than her chin, since she looked upon herself as
belonging to Rene, Blanche, in return for the flowers of age which
Bruyn offered her, coddled him, smiled upon him, kept him merry, and
fondled him with pretty ways and tricks, which good wives bestow upon
the husbands they deceive; and all so well, that the seneschal did not
wish to die, squatted comfortably in his chair, and the more he lived
the more he became partial to life. But to be brief, one night he died
without knowing where he was going, for he said to Blanche, “Ho! ho!
My dear, I see thee no longer! Is it night?”

It was the death of the just, and he had well merited it as a reward
for his labours in the Holy Land.

Blanche held for his death a great and true mourning, weeping for him
as one weeps for one’s father. She remained melancholy, without
wishing to lend her ear to the music of a second wedding, for which
she was praised by all good people, who knew not that she had a
husband in her heart, a life in hope; but she was the greater part of
her time a widow in fact and widow in heart, because hearing no news
of her lover at the Crusades, the poor Countess reputed him dead, and
during certain nights seeing him wounded and lying at full length, she
would wake up in tears. She lived thus for fourteen years in the
remembrance of one day of happiness. Finally, one day when she had
with her certain ladies of Touraine, and they were talking together
after dinner, behold her little boy, who was at that time about
thirteen and a half, and resembled Rene more than it is allowable for
a child to resemble his father, and had nothing of the Sire Bruyn
about him but his name--behold the little one, a madcap and pretty
like his mother, who came in from the garden, running, perspiring,
panting, jumping, scattering all things in his way, after the uses and
customs of infancy, and who ran straight to his well-beloved mother,
jumping into her lap, and interrupting the conversation, cried out--

“Oh, mother I want to speak to you, I have seen in the courtyard a
pilgrim, who squeezed me very tight.”

“Ah!” cried the chatelaine, hurrying towards one of the servants who
had charge of the young count and watched over his precious days, “I
have forbidden you ever to leave my son in the hands of strangers, not
even in those of the holiest man in the world. You quit my service.”

“Alas! my lady,” replied the old equerry, quite overcome, “this one
wished him no harm for he wept while kissing him passionately.”

“He wept?” said she; “ah! it’s the father.”

Having said which, she leaned her head of upon the chair in which she
was sitting, and which you may be sure was the chair in which she has
sinned.

Hearing these strange words the ladies was so surprised that at first
they did not perceive that the seneschal’s widow was dead, without its
ever been known if her sudden death was caused by her sorrow at the
departure of her lover, who, faithful to his vow, did not wish to see
her, or from great joy at his return and the hope of getting the
interdict removed which the Abbot of Marmoustiers had placed upon
their loves. And there was a great mourning for her, for the Sire de
Jallanges lost his spirits when he saw his lady laid in the ground,
and became a monk of Marmoustiers, which at that time was called by
some Maimoustier, as much as to say Maius Monasterium, the largest
monastery, and it was indeed the finest in all France.



THE KING’S SWEETHEART

There lived at this time at the forges of the Pont-aux-Change, a
goldsmith whose daughter was talked about in Paris on account of her
great beauty, and renowned above all things for her exceeding
gracefulness. There were those who sought her favours by the usual
tricks of love and, but others offered large sums of money to the
father to give them his daughter in lawful wedlock, the which pleased
him not a little.

One of his neighbours, a parliamentary advocate, who by selling his
cunning devices to the public had acquired as many lands as a dog has
fleas, took it into his head to offer the said father a domain in
consideration of his consent to this marriage, which he ardently
desired to undertake. To this arrangement our goldsmith was nothing
loth. He bargained away his daughter, without taking into
consideration the fact that her patched-up old suitor had the features
of an ape and had scarcely a tooth in his jaws. The smell which
emanated from his mouth did not however disturb his own nostrils,
although he was filthy and high flavoured, as are all those who pass
their lives amid the smoke of chimneys, yellow parchment, and other
black proceedings. Immediately this sweet girl saw him she exclaimed,
“Great Heaven! I would rather not have him.”

“That concerns me not,” said the father, who had taken a violent fancy
to the proffered domain. “I give him to you for a husband. You must
get on as well as you can together. That is his business now, and his
duty is to make himself agreeable to you.”

“Is it so?” said she. “Well then, before I obey your orders I’ll let
him know what he may expect.”

And the same evening, after supper, when the love-sick man of law was
pleading his cause, telling her he was mad for her, and promising her
a life of ease and luxury, she taking him up, quickly remarked--

“My father had sold me to you, but if you take me, you will make a bad
bargain, seeing that I would rather offer myself to the passers-by
than to you. I promise you a disloyalty that will only finish with
death--yours or mine.”

Then she began to weep, like all young maidens will before they become
experienced, for afterwards they never cry with their eyes. The good
advocate took this strange behaviour for one of those artifices by
which the women seek to fan the flames of love and turn the devotion
of their admirers into the more tender caress and more daring
osculation that speaks a husband’s right. So that the knave took
little notice of it, but laughing at the complaints of the charming
creature, asked her to fix the day.

“To-morrow,” replied she, “for the sooner this odious marriage takes
place, the sooner I shall be free to have gallants and to lead the gay
life of those who love where it pleases them.”

Thereupon the foolish fellow--as firmly fixed as a fly in a glue pot
--went away, made his preparations, spoke at the Palace, ran to the
High Court, bought dispensations, and conducted his purchase more
quickly than he ever done one before, thinking only of the lovely girl.
Meanwhile the king, who had just returned from a journey, heard
nothing spoken of at court but the marvellous beauty of the jeweller’s
daughter who had refused a thousand crowns from this one, snubbed that
one; in fact, would yield to no one, but turned up her nose at the
finest young men of the city, gentlemen who would have forfeited their
seat in paradise only to possess one day, this little dragon of
virtue.

The good king, was a judge of such game, strolled into the town, past
the forges, and entered the goldsmith’s shop, for the purpose of
buying jewels for the lady of his heart, but at the same time to
bargain for the most precious jewel in the shop. The king not taking a
fancy to the jewels, or they not being to his taste, the good man
looked in a secret drawer for a big white diamond.

“Sweetheart,” said he, to the daughter, while her father’s nose was
buried in the drawer, “sweetheart, you were not made to sell precious
stones, but to receive them, and if you were to give me all the little
rings in the place to choose from, I know one that many here are mad
for; that pleases me; to which I should ever be subject and servant;
and whose price the whole kingdom of France could never pay.”

“Ah! sire!” replied the maid, “I shall be married to-morrow, but if
you will lend me the dagger that is in your belt, I will defend my
honour, and you shall take it, that the gospel made be observed
wherein it says, ‘_Render unto Caesar the things which be
Caesar’s’ . . ._”

Immediately the king gave her the little dagger, and her brave reply
rendered him so amorous that he lost his appetite. He had an apartment
prepared, intending to lodge his new lady-love in the Rue a
l’Hirundelle, in one of his palaces.

And now behold my advocate, in a great hurry to get married, to the
disgust of his rivals, the leading his bride to the altar to the clang
of bells and the sound of music, so timed as to provoke the qualms of
diarrhoea. In the evening, after the ball, comes he into the nuptial
chamber, where should be reposing his lovely bride. No longer is she a
lovely bride--but a fury--a wild she-devil, who, seated in an
armchair, refuses her share of her lord’s couch, and sits defiantly
before the fire warming at the same time her ire and her calves. The
good husband, quite astonished, kneels down gently before her,
inviting her to the first passage of arms in that charming battle
which heralds a first night of love; but she utters not a word, and
when he tries to raise her garment, only just to glance at the charms
that have cost him so dear, she gives him a slap that makes his bones
rattle, and refuses to utter a syllable.

This amusement, however, by no means displeased our friend the
advocate, who saw at the end of his troubles that which you can as
well imagine as he did; so played he his share of the game manfully,
taking cheerfully the punishment bestowed upon him. By so much
hustling about, scuffling, and struggling he managed at last to tear
away a sleeve, to slit a petticoat, until he was able to place his
hand upon his own property. This bold endeavour brought Madame to her
feet and drawing the king’s dagger, “What would you with me?” she
cried.

“Everything,” answered he.

“Ha! I should be a great fool to give myself against my inclination!
If you fancied you would find my virtue unarmed you made a great
error. Behold the poniard of the king, with which I will kill you if
you make the semblance of a step towards me.”

So saying, she took a cinder, and having still her eyes upon her lord
she drew a circle on the floor, adding, “These are the confines of the
king’s domain. Beware how you pass them.”

The advocate, with whose ideas of love-making the dagger sadly
interfered, stood quite discomfited, but at the same time he heard the
cruel speech of his tormentor he caught sight through the slits and
tears in her robe of a sweet sample of a plump white thigh, and such
voluptuous specimens of hidden mysteries, et cetera, that death seemed
sweet to him if he could only taste of them a little. So that he
rushed within the domain of the king, saying, “I mind not death.” In
fact he came with such force that his charmer fell backwards onto the
bed, but keeping her presence of mind she defended herself so
gallantly that the advocate enjoyed no further advantage than a knock
at the door that would not admit him, and he gained as well a little
stab from the poniard which did not wound him deeply, so that it did
not cost him very dearly, his attack upon the realm of his sovereign.
But maddened with this slight advantage, he cried, “I cannot live
without the possession of that lovely body, and those marvels of love.
Kill me then!” And again he attacked the royal preserves. The young
beauty, whose head was full of the king, was not even touched by this
great love, said gravely, “If you menace me further, it is not you but
myself I will kill.” She glared at him so savagely that the poor man
was quite terrified, and commenced to deplore the evil hour in which
he had taken her to wife, and thus the night which should have been so
joyous, was passed in tears, lamentations, prayers, and ejaculations.
In vain he tempted her with promises; she should eat out of gold, she
should be a great lady, he would buy houses and lands for her. Oh! if
she would only let him break one lance with her in the sweet conflict
of love, he would leave her for ever and pass the remainder of his
life according to her fantasy. But she, still unyielding, said she
would permit him to die, and that was the only thing he could do to
please her.

“I have not deceived you,” said she. “Agreeable to my promise, I shall
give myself to the king, making you a present of the peddler, chance
passers, and street loungers with whom I threatened you.”

When the day broke she put on her wedding garments and waited
patiently till the poor husband had to depart to his office client’s
business, and then ran out into the town to seek the king. But she had
not gone a bow-shot from the house before one of the king’s servants
who had watched the house from dawn, stopped her with the question--

“Do you seek the king?”

“Yes,” said she.

“Good; then allow me to be your good friend,” said the subtle
courtier. “I ask your aid and protection, as now I give you mine.”

With that he told her what sort of a man the king was, which was his
weak side, that he was passionate one day and silent the next, that
she would luxuriously lodged and well kept, but that she must keep the
king well in hand; in short, he chatted so pleasantly that the time
passed quickly until she found herself in the Hotel de l’Hirundelle
where afterwards lived Madame d’Estampes. The poor husband shed
scalding tears, when he found his little bird had flown, and became
melancholy and pensive. His friends and neighbours edified his ears
with as many taunts and jeers as Saint Jacques had the honour of
receiving in Compostella, but the poor fellow took it so to heart,
that at last they tried rather to assuage his grief. These artful
compeers by a species of legal chicanery, decreed that the good man
was not a cuckold, seeing that his wife had refused a consummation,
and if the planter of horns had been anyone but the king, the said
marriage might have been dissolved; but the amorous spouse was
wretched unto death at my lady’s trick. However, he left her to the
king, determining one day to have her to himself, and thinking that a
life-long shame would not be too dear a payment for a night with her.
One must love well to love like that, eh? and there are many worldly
ones, who mock at such affection. But he, still thinking of her,
neglected his cases and his clients, his robberies and everything. He
went to the palace like a miser searching for a lost sixpence, bowed
down, melancholy, and absent-minded, so much so, that one day he
relieved himself against the robe of a counsellor, believing all the
while he stood against a wall. Meanwhile the beautiful girl was loved
night and day by the king, who could not tear himself from her
embraces, because in amorous play she was so excellent, knowing as
well how to fan the flame of love as to extinguish it--to-day snubbing
him, to-morrow petting him, never the same, and with it a thousand
little tricks to charm the ardent lover.

A lord of Bridore killed himself through her, because she would not
receive his embraces, although he offered her his land, Bridore in
Touraine. Of these gallants of Touraine, who gave an estate for one
tilt with love’s lance, there are none left. This death made the fair
one sad, and since her confessor laid the blame of it upon her, she
determined for the future to accept all domains and secretly ease
their owner’s amorous pains for the better saving of their souls from
perdition. ‘Twas thus she commenced to build up that great fortune
which made her a person of consideration in the town. By this means
she prevented many gallant gentlemen from perishing, playing her game
so well, and inventing such fine stories, that his Majesty little
guessed how much she aided him in securing the happiness of his
subjects. The fact is, she has such a hold over him that she could
have made him believe the floor was the ceiling, which was perhaps
easier for him to think than anyone else seeing that at the Rue
d’Hirundelle my lord king passed the greater portion of his time
embracing her always as though he would see if such a lovely article
would wear away: but he wore himself out first, poor man, seeing that
he eventually died from excess of love. Although she took care to
grant her favours only to the best and noblest in the court, and that
such occasions were rare as miracles, there were not wanting those
among her enemies and rivals who declared that for 10,000 crowns a
simple gentleman might taste the pleasures of his sovereign, which was
false above all falseness, for when her lord taxed her with it, did
she not reply, “Abominable wretches! Curse the devils who put this
idea in your head! I never yet did have man who spent less than 30,000
crowns upon me.”

The king, although vexed could not repress a smile, and kept her on a
month to silence scandal. And last, la demoiselle de Pisseleu, anxious
to obtain her place, brought about her ruin. Many would have liked to
be ruined in the same way, seeing she was taken by a young lord, was
happy with him, the fires of love in her being still unquenched. But
to take up the thread again. One day that the king’s sweetheart was
passing through the town in her litter to buy laces, furs, velvets,
broideries, and other ammunition, and so charmingly attired, and
looking so lovely, that anyone, especially the clerks, would have
believed the heavens were open above them, behold, her good man, who
comes upon her near the old cross. She, at that time lazily swinging
her charming little foot over the side of the litter, drew in her head
as though she had seen an adder. She was a good wife, for I know some
who would have proudly passed their husbands, to their shame and to
the great disrespect of conjugal rights.

“What is the matter?” asked one M. de Lannoy, who humbly accompanied
her.

“Nothing,” she whispered; “but that person is my husband. Poor man,
how changed he looks. Formerly he was the picture of a monkey; today
he is the very image of a Job.”

The poor advocate stood opened-mouthed. His heart beat rapidly at the
sight of that little foot--of that wife so wildly loved.

Observing which, the Sire de Lannoy said to him, with courtly
innocence--

“If you are her husband, is that any reason you should stop her
passage?”

At this she burst out laughing, and the good husband instead of
killing her bravely, shed scalding tears at that laugh which pierced
his heart, his soul, his everything, so much that he nearly tumbled
over an old citizen whom the sight of the king’s sweetheart had driven
against the wall. The aspect of this weak flower, which had been his
in the bud, but far from him had spread its lovely leaves; of the
fairy figure, the voluptuous bust--all this made the poor advocate
more wretched and more mad for her than it is possible to express in
words. You must have been madly in love with a woman who refuses your
advances thoroughly to understand the agony of this unhappy man. Rare
indeed is it to be so infatuated as he was. He swore that life,
fortune, honour--all might go, but that for once at least he would be
flesh-to-flesh with her, and make so grand a repast off her dainty
body as would suffice him all his life. He passed the night saying,
“oh yes; ah! I’ll have her!” and “Curses am I not her husband?” and
“Devil take me,” striking himself on the forehead and tossing about.
There are chances and occasions which occur so opportunely in this
world that little-minded men refuse them credence, saying they are
supernatural, but men of high intellect know them to be true because
they could not be invented. One of the chances came to the poor
advocate, even the day after that terrible one which had been so sore
a trial to him. One of his clients, a man of good renown, who had his
audiences with the king, came one morning to the advocate, saying that
he required immediately a large sum of money, about 12,000 crowns. To
which the artful fellow replied, 12,000 crowns were not so often met
at the corner of a street as that which often is seen at the corner of
the street; that besides the sureties and guarantees of interest, it
was necessary to find a man who had about him 12,000 crowns, and that
those gentlemen were not numerous in Paris, big city as it was, and
various other things of a like character the man of cunning remarked.

“Is it true, my lord, the you have a hungry and relentless creditor?”
 said he.

“Yes, yes,” replied the other, “it concerns the mistress of the king.
Don’t breathe a syllable; but this evening, in consideration of 20,000
crowns and my domain of Brie, I shall take her measure.”

Upon this the advocate blanched, and the courtier perceived he touched
a tender point. As he had only lately returned from the wars, he did
not know that the lovely woman adored by the king had a husband.

“You appear ill,” he said.

“I have a fever,” replied the knave. “But is it to her that you give
the contract and the money?”

“Yes.”

“Who then manages the bargain? Is it she also?”

“No,” said the noble; “her little arrangements are concluded through a
servant of hers, the cleverest little ladies’-maid that ever was.
She’s sharper than mustard, and these nights stolen from the king have
lined her pockets well.”

“I know a Lombard who would accommodate you. But nothing can be done;
of the 12,000 crowns you shall not have a brass farthing if this same
ladies’-maid does not come here to take the price of the article that
is so great an alchemist that turns blood into gold, by Heaven!”

“It will be a good trick to make her sign the receipt,” replied the
lord, laughing.

The servant came faithfully to the rendezvous with the advocate, who
had begged the lord to bring her. The ducats looked bright and
beautiful. There they lay all in a row, like nuns going to vespers.
Spread out upon the table they would have made a donkey smile, even if
he were being gutted alive; so lovely, so splendid, were those brave
noble young piles. The good advocate, however, had prepared this view
for no ass, for the little handmaiden look longingly at the golden
heap, and muttered a prayer at the sight of them. Seeing which, the
husband whispered in her ear his golden words, “These are for you.”

“Ah!” said she; “I have never been so well paid.”

“My dear,” replied the dear man, “you shall have them without being
troubled with me;” and turning her round, “Your client has not told
you who I am, eh? No? Learn then, I am the husband of the lady whom
the king has debauched, and whom you serve. Carry her these crowns,
and come back here. I will hand over yours to you on a condition which
will be to your taste.”

The servant did as she was bidden, and being very curious to know how
she could get 12,000 crowns without sleeping with the advocate, was
very soon back again.

“Now, my little one,” said he, “here are 12,000 crowns. With this sum
I could buy lands, men, women, and the conscience of three priests at
least; so that I believe if I give it to you I can have you, body,
soul, and toe nails. And I shall have faith in you like an advocate, I
expect that you will go to the lord who expects to pass the night with
my wife, and you will deceive him, by telling him that the king is
coming to supper with her, and that to-night he must seek his little
amusements elsewhere. By so doing I shall be able to take his place
and the king’s.”

“But how?” said she.

“Oh!” replied he; “I have bought you, you and your tricks. You won’t
have to look at these crowns twice without finding me a way to have my
wife. In bringing this conjunction about you commit no sin. It is a
work of piety to bring together two people whose hands only been put
one in to the other, and that by the priest.”

“By my faith, come,” said she; “after supper the lights will be put
out, and you can enjoy Madame if you remain silent. Luckily, on these
joyful occasions she cries more than she speaks, and asks questions
with her hands alone, for she is very modest, and does not like loose
jokes, like the ladies of the Court.”

“Oh,” cried the advocate, “look, take the 12,000 crowns, and I promise
you twice as much more if I get by fraud that which belongs to me by
right.”

Then he arranged the hour, the door, the signal, and all; and the
servant went away, bearing with her on the back of the mules the
golden treasure wrung by fraud and trickery from the widow and the
orphan, and they were all going to that place where everything
goes--save our lives, which come from it. Now behold my advocate, who
shaves himself, scents himself, goes without onions for dinner that
his breath may be sweet, and does everything to make himself as
presentable as a gallant signor. He gives himself the airs of a young
dandy, tries to be lithe and frisky and to disguise his ugly face; he
might try all he knew, he always smelt of the musty lawyer. He was not
so clever as the pretty washerwoman of Portillon who one day wishing
to appear at her best before one of her lovers, got rid of a
disagreeable odour in a manner well known to young women of an
inventive turn of mind. But our crafty fellow fancied himself the
nicest man in the world, although in spite of his drugs and perfumes
he was really the nastiest. He dressed himself in his thinnest clothes
although the cold pinched him like a rope collar and sallied forth,
quickly gaining the Rue d’Hirundelle. There he had to wait some time.
But just as he was beginning to think he had been made a fool of, and
just as it was quite dark, the maid came down and opened alike the
door to him and good husband slipped gleefully into the king’s
apartment. The girl locked him carefully in a cupboard that was close
to his wife’s bed, and through a crack he feasted his eyes upon her
beauty, for she undressed herself before the fire, and put on a thin
nightgown, through which her charms were plainly visible. Believing
herself alone with her maid she made those little jokes that women
will when undressing. “Am I not worth 20,000 crowns to-night? Is that
overpaid with a castle in Brie?”

And saying this she gently raised two white supports, firm as rocks,
which had well sustained many assaults, seeing they had been furiously
attacked and had not softened. “My shoulders alone are worth a
kingdom; no king could make their equal. But I am tired of this life.
That which is hard work is no pleasure.” The little maid smiled, and
her lovely mistress said to her, “I should like to see you in my
place.” Then the maid laughed, saying--

“Be quiet, Madame, he is there.”

“Who?”

“Your husband.”

“Which?”

“The real one.”

“Chut!” said Madame.

And her maid told her the whole story, wishing to keep her favour and
the 12,000 crowns as well.

“Oh well, he shall have his money’s worth. I’ll give his desires time
to cool. If he tastes me may I lose my beauty and become as ugly as a
monkey’s baby. You get into bed in my place and thus gain the 12,000
crowns. Go and tell him that he must take himself off early in the
morning in order that I may not find out your trick upon me, and just
before dawn I will get in by his side.”

The poor husband was freezing and his teeth were chattering, and the
chambermaid coming to the cupboard on pretence of getting some linen,
said to him, “Your hour of bliss approaches. Madame to-night has made
grand preparations and you will be well served. But work without
whistling, otherwise I shall be lost.”

At last, when the good husband was on the point of perishing with
cold, the lights were put out. The maid cried softly in the curtains
to the king’s sweetheart, that his lordship was there, and jumped into
bed, while her mistress went out as if she had been the chambermaid.
The advocate, released from his cold hiding-place, rolled rapturously
into the warm sheets, thinking to himself, “Oh! this is good!” To tell
the truth, the maid gave him his money’s worth--and the good man
thought of the difference between the profusion of the royal houses
and the niggardly ways of the citizens’ wives. The servant laughing,
played her part marvellously well, regaling the knave with gentle
cries, shiverings, convulsions and tossings about, like a newly-caught
fish on the grass, giving little Ah! Ahs! in default of other words;
and as often as the request was made by her, so often was it complied
with by the advocate, who dropped of to sleep at last, like an empty
pocket. But before finishing, the lover who wished to preserve a
souvenir of this sweet night of love, by a dextrous turn, plucked out
one of his wife’s hairs, where from I know not, seeing I was not
there, and kept in his hand this precious gauge of the warm virtue of
that lovely creature. Towards the morning, when the cock crew, the
wife slipped in beside her husband, and pretended to sleep. Then the
maid tapped gently on the happy man’s forehead, whispering in his ear,
“It is time, get into your clothes and off you go--it’s daylight.” The
good man grieved to lose his treasure, and wished to see the source of
his vanished happiness.

“Oh! Oh!” said he, proceeding to compare certain things, “I’ve got
light hair, and this is dark.”

“What have you done?” said the servant; “Madame will see she has been
duped.”

“But look.”

“Ah!” said she, with an air of disdain, “do you not know, you who
knows everything, that that which is plucked dies and discolours?” and
thereupon roaring with laughter at the good joke, she pushed him out
of doors. This became known. The poor advocate, named Feron, died of
shame, seeing that he was the only one who had not his own wife while
she, who was from this was called La Belle Feroniere, married, after
leaving the king, a young lord, Count of Buzancois. And in her old
days she would relate the story, laughingly adding, that she had never
scented the knave’s flavour.

This teaches us not to attach ourselves more than we can help to wives
who refuse to support our yoke.



                          THE DEVIL’S HEIR

There once was a good old canon of Notre Dame de Paris, who lived in a
fine house of his own, near St. Pierre-aux-Boeufs, in the Parvis. This
canon had come a simple priest to Paris, naked as a dagger without its
sheath. But since he was found to be a handsome man, well furnished
with everything, and so well constituted, that if necessary he was
able to do the work of many, without doing himself much harm, he gave
himself up earnestly to the confessing of ladies, giving to the
melancholy a gentle absolution, to the sick a drachm of his balm, to
all some little dainty. He was so well known for his discretion, his
benevolence, and other ecclesiastical qualities, that he had customers
at Court. Then in order not to awaken the jealousy of the officials,
that of the husbands and others, in short, to endow with sanctity
these good and profitable practices, the Lady Desquerdes gave him a
bone of St. Victor, by virtue of which all the miracles were
performed. And to the curious it was said, “He has a bone which will
cure everything;” and to this, no one found anything to reply, because
it was not seemly to suspect relics. Beneath the shade of his cassock,
the good priest had the best of reputations, that of a man valiant
under arms. So he lived like a king. He made money with holy water;
sprinkled it and transmitted the holy water into good wine. More than
that, his name lay snugly in all the et ceteras of the notaries, in
wills or in caudicils, which certain people have falsely written
_codicil_, seeing that the word is derived from cauda, as if to say the
tail of the legacy. In fact, the good old Long Skirts would have been
made an archbishop if he had only said in joke, “I should like to put
on a mitre for a handkerchief in order to have my head warmer.” Of all
the benefices offered to him, he chose only a simple canon’s stall to
keep the good profits of the confessional. But one day the courageous
canon found himself weak in the back, seeing that he was all
sixty-eight years old, and had held many confessionals. Then thinking
over all his good works, he thought it about time to cease his
apostolic labours, the more so, as he possessed about one hundred
thousand crowns earned by the sweat of his body. From that day he only
confessed ladies of high lineage, and did it very well. So that it was
said at Court that in spite of the efforts of the best young clerks
there was still no one but the Canon of St. Pierre-aux-Boeufs to
properly bleach the soul of a lady of condition. Then at length the
canon became by force of nature a fine nonagenarian, snowy about the
head, with trembling hands, but square as a tower, having spat so much
without coughing, that he coughed now without being able to spit; no
longer rising from his chair, he who had so often risen for humanity;
but drinking dry, eating heartily, saying nothing, but having all the
appearance of a living Canon of Notre Dame. Seeing the immobility of
the aforesaid canon; seeing the stories of his evil life which for
some time had circulated among the common people, always ignorant;
seeing his dumb seclusion, his flourishing health, his young old age,
and other things too numerous to mention--there were certain people
who to do the marvellous and injure our holy religion, went about
saying that the true canon was long since dead, and that for more than
fifty years the devil had taken possession of the old priest’s body.
In fact, it seemed to his former customers that the devil could only
by his great heat have furnished these hermetic distillations, that
they remembered to have obtained on demand from this good confessor,
who always had le diable au corps. But as this devil had been
undoubtedly cooked and ruined by them, and that for a queen of twenty
years he would not have moved, well-disposed people and those not
wanting in sense, or the citizens who argued about everything, people
who found lice in bald heads, demanded why the devil rested under the
form of a canon, went to the Church of Notre Dame at the hours when
the canons usually go, and ventured so far as to sniff the perfume of
the incense, taste the holy water, and a thousand other things. To
these heretical propositions some said that doubtless the devil wished
to convert himself, and others that he remained in the shape of the
canon to mock at the three nephews and heirs of this said brave
confessor and make them wait until the day of their own death for the
ample succession of this uncle, to whom they paid great attention
every day, going to look if the good man had his eyes open, and in
fact found him always with his eye clear, bright, and piercing as the
eye of a basilisk, which pleased them greatly, since they loved their
uncle very much--in words. On this subject an old woman related that
for certain the canon was the devil, because his two nephews, the
procureur and the captain, conducting their uncle at night, without a
lamp, or lantern, returning from a supper at the penitentiary’s, had
caused him by accident to tumble over a heap of stones gathered
together to raise the statue of St. Christopher. At first the old man
had struck fire in falling, but was, amid the cries of his dear
nephews and by the light of the torches they came to seek at her house
found standing up as straight as a skittle and as gay as a weaving
whirl, exclaiming that the good wine of the penitentiary had given him
the courage to sustain this shock and that his bones were exceedingly
hard and had sustained rude assaults. The good nephews believing him
dead, were much astonished, and perceived that the day that was to
dispatch their uncle was a long way off, seeing that at the business
stones were of no use. So that they did not falsely call him their
good uncle, seeing that he was of good quality. Certain scandalmongers
said that the canon found so many stones in his path that he stayed at
home not to be ill with the stone, and the fear of worse was the cause
of his seclusion.

Of all these sayings and rumours, it remains that the old canon, devil
or not, kept his house, and refused to die, and had three heirs with
whom he lived as with his sciaticas, lumbagos, and other appendage of
human life. Of the said three heirs, one was the wickedest soldier
ever born of a woman, and he must have considerably hurt her in
breaking his egg, since he was born with teeth and bristles. So that
he ate, two-fold, for the present and the future, keeping wenches
whose cost he paid; inheriting from his uncle the continuance,
strength, and good use of that which is often of service. In great
battles, he endeavoured always to give blows without receiving them,
which is, and always will be, the only problem to solve in war, but he
never spared himself there, and, in fact, as he had no other virtue
except his bravery, he was captain of a company of lancers, and much
esteemed by the Duke of Burgoyne, who never troubled what his soldiers
did elsewhere. This nephew of the devil was named Captain Cochegrue;
and his creditors, the blockheads, citizens, and others, whose pockets
he slit, called him the Mau-cinge, since he was as mischievous as
strong; but he had moreover his back spoilt by the natural infirmity
of a hump, and it would have been unwise to attempt to mount thereon
to get a good view, for he would incontestably have run you through.

The second had studied the laws, and through the favour of his uncle
had become a procureur, and practised at the palace, where he did the
business of the ladies, whom formerly the canon had the best
confessed. This one was called Pille-grue, to banter him upon his real
name, which was Cochegrue, like that of his brother the captain.
Pille-grue had a lean body, seemed to throw off very cold water, was
pale of face, and possessed a physiognomy like a polecat.

This notwithstanding, he was worth many a penny more than the captain,
and had for his uncle a little affection, but since about two years
his heart had cracked a little, and drop by drop his gratitude had run
out, in such a way that from time to time, when the air was damp, he
liked to put his feet into his uncle’s hose, and press in advance the
juice of this good inheritance. He and his brother, the soldier found
their share very small, since loyally, in law, in fact, in justice, in
nature, and in reality, it was necessary to give the third part of
everything to a poor cousin, son of another sister of the canon, the
which heir, but little loved by the good man, remained in the country,
where he was a shepherd, near Nanterre.

The guardian of beasts, an ordinary peasant, came to town by the
advice of his two cousins, who placed him in their uncle’s house, in
the hope that, as much by his silly tricks and his clumsiness, his
want of brain, and his ignorance, he would be displeasing to the
canon, who would kick him out of his will. Now this poor Chiquon, as
the shepherd was named, had lived about a month alone with his old
uncle, and finding more profit or more amusement in minding an abbot
than looking after sheep, made himself the canon’s dog, his servant,
the staff of his old age, saying, “God keep you,” when he passed wind,
“God save you,” when he sneezed, and “God guard you,” when he belched;
going to see if it rained, where the cat was, remaining silent,
listening, speaking, receiving the coughs of the old man in his face,
admiring him as the finest canon there ever was in the world, all
heartily and in good faith, knowing that he was licking him after the
manner of animals who clean their young ones; and the uncle, who stood
in no need of learning which side the bread was buttered, repulsed
poor Chiquon, making him turn about like a die, always calling him
Chiquon, and always saying to his other nephews that this Chiquon was
helping to kill him, such a numskull was he. Thereupon, hearing this,
Chiquon determined to do well by his uncle, and puzzled his
understanding to appear better; but as he had a behind shaped like a
pair of pumpkins, was broad shouldered, large limbed, and far from
sharp, he more resembled old Silenus than a gentle Zephyr. In fact,
the poor shepherd, a simple man, could not reform himself, so he
remained big and fat, awaiting his inheritance to make himself thin.

One evening the canon began discoursing concerning the devil and
the grave agonies, penances, tortures, etc., which God will get warm
for the accursed, and the good Chiquon hearing it, began to open his
eyes as wide as the door of an oven, at the statement, without
believing a word of it.

“What,” said the canon, “are you not a Christian?”

“In that, yes,” answered Chiquon.

“Well, there is a paradise for the good; is it not necessary to have a
hell for the wicked?”

“Yes, Mr. Canon; but the devil’s of no use. If you had here a wicked
man who turned everything upside down; would you not kick him out of
doors?”

“Yes, Chiquon.”

“Oh, well, mine uncle; God would be very stupid to leave in the this
world, which he has so curiously constructed, an abominable devil
whose special business it is to spoil everything for him. Pish! I
recognise no devil if there be a good God; you may depend upon that. I
should very much like to see the devil. Ha, ha! I am not afraid of his
claws!”

“And if I were of your opinion I should have no care of my very
youthful years in which I held confessions at least ten times a day.”

“Confess again, Mr. Canon. I assure you that will be a precious merit
on high.”

“There, there! Do you mean it?”

“Yes, Mr. Canon.”

“Thou dost not tremble, Chiquon, to deny the devil?”

“I trouble no more about it than a sheaf of corn.”

“The doctrine will bring misfortune upon you.”

“By no means. God will defend me from the devil because I believe him
more learned and less stupid than the savans make him out.”

Thereupon the two other nephews entered, and perceiving from the voice
of the canon that he did not dislike Chiquon very much, and that the
jeremiads which he had made concerning him were simple tricks to
disguise the affection which he bore him, looked at each other in
great astonishment.

Then, seeing their uncle laughing, they said to him--

“If you will make a will, to whom will you leave the house?

“To Chiquon.”

“And the quit rent of the Rue St. Denys?”

“To Chiquon.”

“And the fief of Ville Parisis?”

“To Chiquon.”

“But,” said the captain, with his big voice, “everything then will be
Chiquon’s.”

“No,” replied the canon, smiling, “because I shall have made my will
in proper form, the inheritance will be to the sharpest of you three;
I am so near to the future, that I can therein see clearly your
destinies.”

And the wily canon cast upon Chiquon a glance full of malice, like a
decoy bird would have thrown upon a little one to draw him into her
net. The fire of his flaming eye enlightened the shepherd, who from
that moment had his understanding and his ears all unfogged, and his
brain open, like that of a maiden the day after her marriage. The
procureur and the captain, taking these sayings for gospel prophecies,
made their bow and went out from the house, quite perplexed at the
absurd designs of the canon.

“What do you think of Chiquon?” said Pille-grue to Mau-cinge.

“I think, I think,” said the soldier, growling, “that I think of
hiding myself in the Rue d’Hierusalem, to put his head below his feet;
he can pick it up again if he likes.”

“Oh, oh!” said the procureur, “you have a way of wounding that is
easily recognised, and people would say ‘It’s Cochegrue.’ As for me, I
thought to invite him to dinner, after which, we would play at putting
ourselves in a sack in order to see, as they do at Court, who could
walk best thus attired. Then having sewn him up, we could throw him
into the Seine, at the same time begging him to swim.”

“This must be well matured,” replied the soldier.

“Oh! it’s quite ripe,” said the advocate. “The cousin gone to the
devil, the heritage would then be between us two.”

“I’m quite agreeable,” said the fighter, “but we must stick as close
together as the two legs of the same body, for if you are fine as
silk, I as strong as steel, and daggers are always as good as traps
--you hear that, my good brother.”

“Yes,” said the advocate, “the cause is heard--now shall it be the
thread or the iron?”

“Eh? ventre de Dieu! is it then a king that we are going to settle?
For a simple numskull of a shepherd are so many words necessary? Come!
20,000 francs out of the Heritage to the one of us who shall first cut
him off: I’ll say to him in good faith, ‘Pick up your head.’”

“And I, ‘Swim my friend,’” cried the advocate, laughing like the gap
of a pourpoint.

And then they went to supper, the captain to his wench, and the
advocate to the house of a jeweller’s wife, of whom he was the lover.

Who was astonished? Chiquon! The poor shepherd heard the planning of
his death, although the two cousins had walked in the parvis, and
talked to each other as every one speaks at church when praying to
God. So that Chiquon was much coupled to know if the words had come up
or if his ears had gone down.

“Do you hear, Mister Canon?”

“Yes,” said he, “I hear the wood crackling in the fire.”

“Ho, ho!” replied Chiquon, “if I don’t believe in the devil, I believe
in St. Michael, my guardian angel; I go there where he calls me.”

“Go, my child,” said the canon, “and take care not to wet yourself,
nor to get your head knocked off, for I think I hear more rain, and
the beggars in the street are not always the most dangerous beggars.”

At these words Chiquon was much astonished, and stared at the canon;
found his manner gay, his eye sharp, and his feet crooked; but as he
had to arrange matters concerning the death which menaced him, he
thought to himself that he would always have leisure to admire the
canon, or to cut his nails, and he trotted off quickly through the
town, as a little woman trots towards her pleasure.

His two cousins having no presumption of the divinatory science, of
which shepherds have had many passing attacks, had often talked before
him of their secret goings on, counting him as nothing.

Now one evening, to amuse the canon, Pille-grue had recounted to him
how had fallen in love with him a wife of a jeweller on whose head he
had adjusted certain carved, burnished, sculptured, historical horns,
fit for the brow of a prince. The good lady was to hear him, a right
merry wench, quick at opportunities, giving an embrace while her
husband was mounting the stairs, devouring the commodity as if she was
swallowing a a strawberry, only thinking of love-making, always
trifling and frisky, gay as an honest woman who lacks nothing,
contenting her husband, who cherished her so much as he loved his own
gullet; subtle as a perfume, so much so, that for five years she
managed so well with his household affairs, and her own love affairs,
that she had the reputation of a prudent woman, the confidence of her
husband, the keys of the house, the purse, and all.

“And when do you play upon this gentle flute?” said the canon.

“Every evening and sometimes I stay all the night.”

“But how?” said the canon, astonished.

“This is how. There is a room close to, a chest into which I get. When
the good husband returns from his friend the draper’s, where he goes
to supper every evening, because often he helps the draper’s wife in
her work, my mistress pleads a slight illness, lets him go to bed
alone, and comes to doctor her malady in the room where the chest is.
On the morrow, when my jeweller is at his forge, I depart, and as the
house has one exit on to the bridge, and another into the street, I
always come to the door when the husband is not, on the pretext of
speaking to him of his suits, which commence joyfully and heartily,
and I never let them come to an end. It is an income from cuckoldom,
seeing that in the minor expenses and loyal costs of the proceedings,
he spends as much as on the horses in his stable. He loves me well, as
all good cuckolds should love the man who aids them, to plant,
cultivate, water and dig the natural garden of Venus, and he does
nothing without me.”

Now these practices came back again to the memory of the shepherd, who
was illuminated by the light issuing from his danger, and counselled
by the intelligence of those measures of self-preservation, of which
every animal possesses a sufficient dose to go to the end of his ball
of life. So Chiquon gained with hasty feet the Rue de la Calandre,
where the jeweller should be supping with his companion, and after
having knocked at the door, replied to question put to him through the
little grill, that he was a messenger on state secrets, and was
admitted to the draper’s house. Now coming straight to the fact, he
made the happy jeweller get up from his table, led him to a corner,
and said to him: “If one of your neighbours had planted a horn on your
forehead and he was delivered to you, bound hand and foot, would you
throw him into the river?”

“Rather,” said the jeweller, “but if you are mocking me I’ll give you
a good drubbing.”

“There, there!” replied Chiquon, “I am one of your friends and come to
warn you that as many times as you have conversed with the draper’s
wife here, as often has your own wife been served the same way by the
advocate Pille-grue, and if you will come back to your forge, you will
find a good fire there. On your arrival, he who looks after your
you-know-what, to keep it in good order, gets into the big clothes
chest. Now make a pretence that I have bought the said chest of you,
and I will be upon the bridge with a cart, waiting your orders.”

The said jeweller took his cloak and his hat, and parted company with
his crony without saying a word, and ran to his hole like a poisoned
rat. He arrives and knocks, the door is opened, he runs hastily up the
stairs, finds two covers laid, sees his wife coming out of the chamber
of love, and then says to her, “My dear, here are two covers laid.”

“Well, my darling are we not two?”

“No,” said he, “we are three.”

“Is your friend coming?” said she, looking towards the stairs with
perfect innocence.

“No, I speak of the friend who is in the chest.”

“What chest?” said she. “Are you in your sound senses? Where do you
see a chest? Is the usual to put friends in chests? Am I a woman to
keep chests full of friends? How long have friends been kept in
chests? Are you come home mad to mix up your friends with your chests?
I know no other friend then Master Cornille the draper, and no other
chest than the one with our clothes in.”

“Oh!” said the jeweller, “my good woman, there is a bad young man,
who has come to warn me that you allow yourself to be embraced by our
advocate, and that he is in the chest.”

“I!” said she, “I would not put up with his knavery, he does
everything the wrong way.”

“There, there, my dear,” replied the jeweller, “I know you to be a
good woman, and won’t have a squabble with you about this paltry
chest. The giver of the warning is a box-maker, to whom I am about to
sell this cursed chest that I wish never again to see in my house, and
for this one he will sell me two pretty little ones, in which there
will not be space enough even for a child; thus the scandal and the
babble of those envious of your virtue will be extinguished for want
of nourishment.”

“You give me great pleasure,” said she; “I don’t attach any value to
my chest, and by chance there is nothing in it. Our linen is at the
wash. It will be easy to have the mischievous chest taken away
tomorrow morning. Will you sup?”

“Not at all,” said he, “I shall sup with a better appetite without the
chest.”

“I see,” said she, “that you won’t easily get the chest out of your
head.”

“Halloa, there!” said the jeweller to his smiths and apprentices;
“come down!”

In the twinkling of an eye his people were before him. Then he, their
master, having briefly ordered the handling of the said chest, this
piece of furniture dedicated to love was tumbled across the room, but
in passing the advocate, finding his feet in the air to the which he
was not accustomed, tumbled over a little.

“Go on,” said the wife, “go on, it’s the lid shaking.”

“No, my dear, it’s the bolt.”

And without any other opposition the chest slid gently down the
stairs.

“Ho there, carrier!” said the jeweller, and Chiquon came whistling his
mules, and the good apprentices lifted the litigious chest into the
cart.

“Hi, hi!” said the advocate.

“Master, the chest is speaking,” said an apprentice.

“In what language?” said the jeweller, giving him a good kick between
two features that luckily were not made of glass. The apprentice
tumbled over on to a stair in a way that induced him to discontinue
his studies in the language of chests. The shepherd, accompanied by
the good jeweller, carried all the baggage to the water-side without
listening to the high eloquence of the speaking wood, and having tied
several stones to it, the jeweller threw it into the Seine.

“Swim, my friend,” cried the shepherd, in a voice sufficiently jeering
at the moment when the chest turned over, giving a pretty little
plunge like a duck.

Then Chiquon continued to proceed along the quay, as far as the
Rue-du-port, St. Laudry, near the cloisters of Notre Dame. There he
noticed a house, recognised the door, and knocked loudly.

“Open,” said he, “open by order of the king.”

Hearing this an old man who was no other than the famous Lombard,
Versoris, ran to the door.

“What is it?” said he.

“I am sent by the provost to warn you to keep good watch tonight,”
 replied Chiquon, “as for his own part he will keep his archers ready.
The hunchback who has robbed you has come back again. Keep under arms,
for he is quite capable of easing you of the rest.”

Having said this, the good shepherd took to his heels and ran to the
Rue des Marmouzets, to the house where Captain Cochegrue was feasting
with La Pasquerette, the prettiest of town-girls, and the most
charming in perversity that ever was; according to all the gay ladies,
her glance was sharp and piercing as the stab of a dagger. Her
appearance was so tickling to the sight, that it would have put all
Paradise to rout. Besides which she was as bold as a woman who has no
other virtue than her insolence. Poor Chiquon was greatly embarrassed
while going to the quarter of the Marmouzets. He was greatly afraid
that he would be unable to find the house of La Pasquerette, or find
the two pigeons gone to roost, but a good angel arranged there
speedily to his satisfaction. This is how. On entering the Rue des
Marmouzets he saw several lights at the windows and night-capped heads
thrust out, and good wenches, gay girls, housewives, husbands, and
young ladies, all of them are just out of bed, looking at each other
as if a robber were being led to execution by torchlight.

“What’s the matter?” said the shepherd to a citizen who in great haste
had rushed to the door with a chamber utensil in his hand.

“Oh! it’s nothing,” replied the good man. “We thought it was the
Armagnacs descending upon the town, but it’s only Mau-cinge beating La
Pasquerette.”

“Where?” asked the shepherd.

“Below there, at that fine house where the pillars have the mouths of
flying frogs delicately carved upon them. Do you hear the varlets and
the serving maids?”

And in fact there was nothing but cries of “Murder! Help! Come some
one!” and in the house blows raining down and the Mau-cinge said with
his gruff voice:

“Death to the wench! Ah, you sing out now, do you? Ah, you want your
money now, do you? Take that--”

And La Pasquerette was groaning, “Oh! oh! I die! Help! Help! Oh! oh!”
 Then came the blow of a sword and the heavy fall of a light body of
the fair girl sounded, and was followed by a great silence, after
which the lights were put out, servants, waiting women, roysterers,
and others went in again, and the shepherd who had come opportunely
mounted the stairs in company with them, but on beholding in the room
above broken glasses, slit carpets, and the cloth on the floor with
the dishes, everyone remained at a distance.

The shepherd, bold as a man with but one end in view, opened the door
of the handsome chamber where slept La Pasquerette, and found her
quite exhausted, her hair dishevelled, and her neck twisted, lying
upon a bloody carpet, and Mau-cinge frightened, with his tone
considerably lower, and not knowing upon what note to sing the
remainder of his anthem.

“Come, my little Pasquerette, don’t pretend to be dead. Come, let me
put you tidy. Ah! little minx, dead or alive, you look so pretty in
your blood I’m going to kiss you.” Having said which the cunning
soldier took her and threw her upon the bed, but she fell there all of
a heap, and stiff as the body of a man that had been hanged. Seeing
which her companion found it was time for his hump to retire from the
game; however, the artful fellow before slinking away said, “Poor
Pasquerette, how could I murder so good of girl, and one I loved so
much? But, yes, I have killed her, the thing is clear, for in her life
never did her sweet breast hang down like that. Good God, one would
say it was a crown at the bottom of a wallet. Thereupon Pasquerette
opened her eyes and then bent her head slightly to look at her flesh,
which was white and firm, and she brought herself to life by a box on
the ears, administered to the captain.

“That will teach you to beware of the dead,” said she, smiling.

“And why did he kill you, my cousin?” asked the shepherd.

“Why? Tomorrow the bailiffs seize everything that’s here, and he who
has no more money than virtue, reproached me because I wished to be
agreeable to a handsome gentlemen, who would save me from the hands of
justice.

“Pasquerette, I’ll break every bone in your skin.”

“There, there!” said Chiquon, whom the Mau-cinge had just recognised,
“is that all? Oh, well, my good friend, I bring you a large sum.”

“Where from?” asked the captain, astonished.

“Come here, and let me whisper in your ear--if 30,000 crowns were
walking about at night under the shadow of a pear-tree, would you not
stoop down to pluck them, to prevent them spoiling?”

“Chiquon, I’ll kill you like a dog if you are making game of me, or I
will kiss you there where you like it, if you will put me opposite
30,000 crowns, even when it shall be necessary to kill three citizens
at the corner of the Quay.”

“You will not even kill one. This is how the matter stands. I have for
a sweetheart in all loyalty, the servant of the Lombard who is in the
city near the house of our good uncle. Now I have just learned on
sound information that this dear man has departed this morning into
the country after having hidden under a pear-tree in his garden a good
bushel of gold, believing himself to be seen only by the angels. But
the girl who had by chance a bad toothache, and was taking the air at
her garret window, spied the old crookshanks, without wishing to do
so, and chattered of it to me in fondness. If you will swear to give
me a good share I will lend you my shoulders in order that you may
climb on to the top of the wall and from there throw yourself into the
pear-tree, which is against the wall. There, now do you say that I am
a blockhead, an animal?”

“No, you are a right loyal cousin, an honest man, and if you have ever
to put an enemy out off the way, I am there, ready to kill even one of
my own friends for you. I am no longer your cousin, but your brother.
Ho there! sweetheart,” cried Mau-cinge to La Pasquerette, “put the
tables straight, wipe up your blood, it belongs to me, and I’ll pay
you for it by giving you a hundred times as much of mine as I have
taken of thine. Make the best of it, shake the black dog, off your
back, adjust your petticoats, laugh, I wish it, look to the stew, and
let us recommence our evening prayer where we left it off. Tomorrow
I’ll make thee braver than a queen. This is my cousin whom I wish to
entertain, even when to do so it were necessary to turn the house out
of windows. We shall get back everything tomorrow in the cellars.
Come, fall to!”

Thus, and in less time than it takes a priest to say his Dominus
vobiscum, the whole rookery passed from tears to laughter as it had
previously from laughter to tears. It is only in these houses of
ill-fame that love is made with the blow of a dagger, and where
tempests of joy rage between four walls. But these are things ladies
of the high-neck dress do not understand.

The said captain Cochegrue was gay as a hundred schoolboys at the
breaking up of class, and made his good cousin drink deeply, who
spilled everything country fashion, and pretended to be drunk,
spluttering out a hundred stupidities, as, that “tomorrow he would buy
Paris, would lend a hundred thousand crowns to the king, that he would
be able to roll in gold;” in fact, talked so much nonsense that the
captain, fearing some compromising avowal and thinking his brain quite
muddled enough, led him outside with the good intention, instead of
sharing with him, of ripping Chiquon open to see if he had not a
sponge in his stomach, because he had just soaked in a big quart of
the good wine of Suresne. They went along, disputing about a thousand
theological subjects which got very much mixed up, and finished by
rolling quietly up against the garden where were the crowns of the
Lombard. Then Cochegrue, making a ladder of Chiquon’s broad shoulders,
jumped on to the pear-tree like a man expert in attacks upon towns,
but Versoris, who was watching him, made a blow at his neck, and
repeated it so vigorously that with three blows fell the upper portion
of the said Cochegrue, but not until he had heard the clear voice of
the shepherd, who cried to him, “Pick up your head, my friend.”
 Thereupon the generous Chiquon, in whom virtue received its
recompense, thought it would be wise to return to the house of the
good canon, whose heritage was by the grace of God considerably
simplified. Thus he gained the Rue St. Pierre-Aux-Boeufs with all
speed, and soon slept like a new-born baby, no longer knowing the
meaning of the word “cousin-german.” Now, on the morrow he rose
according to the habit of shepherds, with the sun, and came into his
uncle’s room to inquire if he spat white, if he coughed, if he had
slept well; but the old servant told him that the canon, hearing the
bells of St Maurice, the first patron of Notre Dame, ring for matins,
he had gone out of reverence to the cathedral, where all the Chapter
were to breakfast with the Bishop of Paris; upon which Chiquon
replied: “Is his reverence the canon out of his senses thus to disport
himself, to catch a cold, to get rheumatism? Does he wish to die? I’ll
light a big fire to warm him when he returns;” and the good shepherd
ran into the room where the canon generally sat, and to his great
astonishment beheld him seated in his chair.

“Ah, ah! What did she mean, that fool of a Bruyette? I knew you were
too well advised to be shivering at this hour in your stall.”

The canon said not a word. The shepherd who was like all thinkers, a
man of hidden sense, was quite aware that sometimes old men have
strange crotchets, converse with the essence of occult things, and
mumble to themselves discourses concerning matters not under
consideration; so that, from reverence and great respect for the
secret meditations of the canon, he went and sat down at a distance,
and waited the termination of these dreams; noticing, silently the
length of the good man’s nails, which looked like cobbler’s awls, and
looking attentively at the feet of his uncle, he was astonished to see
the flesh of his legs so crimson, that it reddened his breeches and
seemed all on fire through his hose.

He is dead, thought Chiquon. At this moment the door of the room
opened, and he still saw the canon, who, his nose frozen, came back
from church.

“Ho, ho!” said Chiquon, “my dear Uncle, are you out of your senses?
Kindly take notice that you ought not to be at the door, because you
are already seated in your chair in the chimney corner, and that it is
impossible for there to be two canons like you in the world.”

“Ah! Chiquon, there was a time when I could have wished to be in two
places at once, but such is not the fate of a man, he would be too
happy. Are you getting dim-sighted? I am alone here.”

Then Chiquon turned his head towards the chair, and found it empty;
and much astonished, as you will easily believe, he approached it, and
found on the seat a little pat of cinders, from which ascended a
strong odour of sulphur.

“Ah!” said he merrily, “I perceive that the devil has behaved well
towards me--I will pray God for him.”

And thereupon he related naively to the canon how the devil had amused
himself by playing at providence, and had loyally aided him to get rid
of his wicked cousins, the which the canon admired much, and thought
very good, seeing that he had plenty of good sense left, and often had
observed things which were to the devil’s advantage. So the good old
priest remarked that ‘as much good was always met with in evil as evil
in good, and that therefore one should not trouble too much after the
other world, the which was a grave heresy, which many councils have
put right’.

And this was how the Chiquons became rich, and were able in these
times, by the fortunes of their ancestors, to help to build the bridge
of St. Michael, where the devil cuts a very good figure under the
angel, in memory of this adventure now consigned to these veracious
histories.



            THE MERRIE JESTS OF KING LOUIS THE ELEVENTH

King Louis The Eleventh was a merry fellow, loving a good joke, and
--the interests of his position as king, and those of the church on
one side--he lived jovially, giving chase to soiled doves as often as
to hares, and other royal game. Therefore, the sorry scribblers who
have made him out a hypocrite, showed plainly that they knew him not,
since he was a good friend, good at repartee, and a jollier fellow
than any of them.

It was he who said when he was in a merry mood, that four things are
excellent and opportune in life--to keep warm, to drink cool, to stand
up hard, and to swallow soft. Certain persons have accused him of
taking up with a dirty trollops; this is a notorious falsehood, since
all his mistresses, of whom one was legitimised, came of good houses
and had notable establishments. He did not go in for waste and
extravagance, always put his hand upon the solid, and because certain
devourers of the people found no crumbs at his table, they have all
maligned him. But the real collector of facts know that the said king
was a capital fellow in private life, and even very agreeable; and
before cutting off the heads of his friends, or punishing them--for he
did not spare them--it was necessary that they should have greatly
offended him, and his vengeance was always justice; I have only seen
in our friend Verville that this worthy sovereign ever made a mistake;
but one does not make a habit, and even for this his boon companion
Tristan was more to blame than he, the king. This is the circumstance
related by the said Verville, and I suspect he was cracking a joke. I
reproduce it because certain people are not familiar with the
exquisite work of my perfect compatriot. I abridge it and only give
the substance, the details being more ample, of which facts the savans
are not ignorant.

Louis XI. had given the Abbey of Turpenay (mentioned in ‘Imperia’) to
a gentleman who, enjoying the revenue, had called himself Monsieur de
Turpenay. It happened that the king being at Plessis-les-Tours, the
real abbot, who was a monk, came and presented himself before the
king, and presented also a petition, remonstrating with him that,
canonically and a monastically, he was entitled to the abbey and that
the usurping gentleman wronged of his right, and therefore he called
upon his majesty to have justice done to him. Nodding his peruke, the
king promised to render him contented. This monk, importunate as are
all hooded animals, came often at the end of the king’s meals, who,
bored with the holy water of the convent, called friend Tristan and
said to him: “Old fellow, there is here a Turpenay who angers me, rid
the world of him for me.” Tristan, taking a frock for a monk, or a
monk for a frock, came to this gentleman, whom all the court called
Monsieur de Turpenay, and having accosted him managed to lead him to
one side, and taking him by the button-hole gave him to understand
that the king desired he should die. He tried to resist, supplicating
and supplicating to escape, but in no way could he obtain a hearing.
He was delicately strangled between the head and shoulders, so that he
expired; and, three hours afterwards, Tristan told the king that he
was discharged. It happened five days afterwards, which is the space
in which souls come back again, that the monk came into the room where
the king was, and when he saw him he was much astonished. Tristan was
present: the king called him, and whispered into his ear--

“You have not done that which I told you to.”

“Saving your Grace I have done it. Turpenay is dead.”

“Eh? I meant this monk.”

“I understood the gentleman!”

“What, is it done then?”

“Yes, sire,”

“Very well then”--turning towards the monk--“come here, monk.” The
monk approached. The king said to him, “Kneel down!” The poor monk
began to shiver in his shoes. But the king said to him, “Thank God
that he has not willed that you should be killed as I had ordered. He
who took your estates has been instead. God has done you justice. Go
and pray God for me, and don’t stir out of your convent.”

The proves the good-heartedness of Louis XI. He might very well have
hanged the monk, the cause of the error. As for the said gentleman, he
died in the king’s service.

In the early days of his sojourn at Plessis-les-Tours king Louis, not
wishing to hold his drinking-bouts and give vent to his rakish
propensities in his chateau, out of respect to her Majesty (a kingly
delicacy which his successors have not possessed) became enamoured of
a lady named Nicole Beaupertuys, who was, to tell the truth, wife of a
citizen of the town. The husband he sent into Ponent, and put the said
Nicole in a house near Chardonneret, in that part which is the Rue
Quincangrogne, because it was a lonely place, far from other
habitations. The husband and the wife were thus both in his service,
and he had by La Beaupertuys a daughter, who died a nun. This Nicole
had a tongue as sharp as a popinjay’s, was of stately proportions,
furnished with large beautiful cushions of nature, firm to the touch,
white as the wings of an angel, and known for the rest to be fertile
in peripatetic ways, which brought it to pass that never with her was
the same thing encountered twice in love, so deeply had she studied
the sweet solutions of the science, the manners of accommodating the
olives of Poissy, the expansions of the nerves, and hidden doctrines
of the breviary, the which much delighted the king. She was as gay as
a lark, always laughing and singing, and never made anyone miserable,
which is the characteristic of women of this open and free nature, who
have always an occupation--an equivocal one if you like. The king
often went with the hail-fellows his friends to the lady’s house, and
in order not to be seen always went at night-time, and without his
suite. But being always distrustful, and fearing some snare, he gave
to Nicole all the most savage dogs he had in his kennels, beggars that
would eat a man without saying “By your leave,” the which royal dogs
knew only Nicole and the king. When the Sire came Nicole let them
loose in the garden, and the door of the house being sufficiently
barred and closely shut, the king put the keys in his pocket, and in
perfect security gave himself up, with his satellites, to every kind
of pleasure, fearing no betrayal, jumping about at will, playing
tricks, and getting up good games. Upon these occasions friend Tristan
watched the neighbourhood, and anyone who had taken a walk on the Mall
of Chardonneret would be rather quickly placed in a position in which
it would have been easy to give the passers-by a benediction with his
feet, unless he had the king’s pass, since often would Louis send out
in search of lasses for his friends, or people to entertain him with
the amusements suggested by Nicole or the guests. People of Tours were
there for these little amusements, to whom he gently recommended
silence, so that no one knew of these pastimes until after his death.
The farce of “_Baisez mon cul_” was, it is said, invented by the said
Sire. I will relate it, although it is not the subject of this tale,
because it shows the natural comicality and humour of this merry
monarch. They were at Tours three well known misers: the first was
Master Cornelius, who is sufficiently well known; the second was
called Peccard, and sold the gilt-work, coloured papers, and jewels
used in churches; the third was hight Marchandeau, and was a very
wealthy vine-grower. These two men of Touraine were the founders of
good families, notwithstanding their sordidness. One evening that the
king was with Beaupertuys, in a good humour, having drunk heartily,
joked heartily, and offered early in the evening his prayer in
Madame’s oratory, he said to Le Daim his crony, to the Cardinal, La
Balue, and to old Dunois, who were still soaking, “Let us have a good
laugh! I think it will be a good joke to see misers before a bag of
gold without being able to touch it. Hi, there!”

Hearing which, appeared one of his varlets.

“Go,” said he, “seek my treasurer, and let him bring hither six
thousand gold crowns--and at once! And you will go and seize the
bodies of my friend Cornelius, of the jeweller of the Rue de Cygnes,
and of old Marchandeau, and bring them here, by order of the king.”

Then he began to drink again, and to judiciously wrangle as to which
was the better, a woman with a gamy odour or a woman who soaped
herself well all over; a thin one or a stout one; and as the company
comprised the flower of wisdom it was decided that the best was the
one a man had all to himself like a plate of warm mussels, at that
precise moment when God sent him a good idea to communicate to her.
The cardinal asked which was the most precious thing to a lady; the
first or the last kiss? To which La Beaupertuys replied: “that it was
the last, seeing that she knew then what she was losing, while at the
first she did not know what she would gain.” During these sayings, and
others which have most unfortunately been lost, came the six thousand
gold crowns, which were worth all three hundred thousand francs of
to-day, so much do we go on decreasing in value every day. The king
ordered the crowns to be arranged upon a table, and well lighted up,
so that they shone like the eyes of the company which lit up
involuntarily, and made them laugh in spite of themselves. They did
not wait long for the three misers, whom the varlet led in, pale and
panting, except Cornelius, who knew the king’s strange freaks.

“Now then, my friends,” said Louis to them, “have a good look at the
crowns on the table.”

And the three townsmen nibbled at them with their eyes. You may reckon
that the diamond of La Beaupertuys sparkled less than their little
minnow eyes.

“These are yours,” added the king.

Thereupon they ceased to admire the crowns to look at each other; and
the guests knew well that old knaves are more expert in grimaces than
any others, because of their physiognomies becoming tolerably curious,
like those of cats lapping up milk, or girls titillated with marriage.

“There,” said the king, “all that shall be his who shall say three
times to the two others, ‘_Baisez mon cul_’, thrusting his hand into the
gold; but if he be not as serious as a fly who had violated his
lady-love, if he smile while repeating the jest, he will pay ten crowns
to Madame. Nevertheless he can essay three times.”

“That will soon be earned,” said Cornelius, who, being a Dutchman, had
his lips as often compressed and serious as Madame’s mouth was often
open and laughing. Then he bravely put his hands on the crowns to see
if they were good, and clutched them bravely, but as he looked at the
others to say civilly to them, “_Baisez mon cul_,” the two misers,
distrustful of his Dutch gravity, replied, “Certainly, sir,” as if he
had sneezed. The which caused all the company to laugh, and even
Cornelius himself. When the vine-grower went to take the crowns he
felt such a commotion in his cheeks that his old scummer face let
little laughs exude from its pores like smoke pouring out of a
chimney, and he could say nothing. Then it was the turn of the
jeweller, who was a little bit of a bantering fellow, and whose lips
were as tightly squeezed as the neck of a hanged man. He seized a
handful of the crowns, looked at the others, even the king, and said,
with a jeering air, “_Baisez mon cul_.”

“Is it dirty?” asked the vine-dresser.

“Look and see,” replied the jeweller, gravely.

Thereupon the king began to tremble for these crowns, since the said
Peccard began again, without laughing, and for the third time was
about to utter the sacramental word, when La Beaupertuys made a sign
of consent to his modest request, which caused him to lose his
countenance, and his mouth broke up into dimples.

“How did you do it?” asked Dunois, “to keep a grave face before six
thousand crowns?”

“Oh, my lord, I thought first of one of my cases which is tried
tomorrow, and secondly, of my wife who is a sorry plague.”

The desire to gain this good round sum made them try again, and the
king amused himself for about an hour at the expression of these
faces, the preparations, jokes, grimaces, and other monkey’s
paternosters that they performed; but they were bailing their boats
with a sieve, and for men who preferred closing their fists to opening
them it was a bitter sorrow to have to count out, each one, a hundred
crown to Madame.

When they were gone, and Nicole said boldly to the king, “Sire will
you let me try?”

“Holy Virgin!” replied Louis; “no! I can kiss you for less money.”

That was said like a thrifty man, which indeed he always was.

One evening the fat Cardinal La Balue carried on gallantly with words
and actions, a little farther than the canons of the Church permitted
him, with this Beaupertuys, who luckily for herself, was a clever
hussy, not to be asked with impunity how many holes there were in her
mother’s chemise.

“Look you here, Sir Cardinal!” said she; “the thing which the king
likes is not to receive the holy oils.”

Then came Oliver le Daim, whom she would not listen to either, and to
whose nonsense she replied, that she would ask the king if he wished
her to be shaved.

Now as the said shaver did not supplicate her to keep his proposals
secret, she suspected that these little plots were ruses practised by
the king, whose suspicions had perhaps been aroused by her friends.
Now, for being able to revenge herself upon Louis, she at least
determined to pay out the said lords, to make fools of them, and amuse
the king with the tricks she would play upon them. One evening that
they had come to supper, she had a lady of the city with her, who
wished to speak with the king. This lady was a lady of position, who
wished asked the king pardon for her husband, the which, in
consequence of this adventure, she obtained. Nicole Beaupertuys having
led the king aside for a moment into an antechamber, told him to make
their guests drink hard and eat to repletion; that he was to make
merry and joke with them; but when the cloth was removed, he was to
pick quarrels with them about trifles, dispute their words, and be
sharp with them; and that she would then divert him by turning them
inside out before him. But above all things, he was to be friendly to
the said lady, and it was to appear as genuine, as if she enjoyed the
perfume of his favour, because she had gallantly lent herself to this
good joke.

“Well, gentlemen,” said the king, re-entering the room, “let us fall
to; we have had a good day’s sport.”

And the surgeon, the cardinal, a fat bishop, the captain of the Scotch
Guard, a parliamentary envoy, and a judge loved of the king, followed
the two ladies into the room where one rubs the rust off one’s jaw
bones. And there they lined the mold of their doublets. What is that?
It is to pave the stomach, to practice the chemistry of nature, to
register the various dishes, to regale your tripes, to dig your grave
with your teeth, play with the sword of Cain, to inter sauces, to
support a cuckold. But more philosophically it is to make ordure with
one’s teeth. Now, do you understand? How many words does it require to
burst open the lid of your understanding?

The king did not fail to distill into his guests this splendid and
first-class supper. He stuffed them with green peas, returning to the
hotch-potch, praising the plums, commending the fish, saying to one,
“Why do you not eat?” to another, “Drink to Madame”; to all of them,
“Gentlemen, taste these lobsters; put this bottle to death! You do not
know the flavour of this forcemeat. And these lampreys--ah! what do
you say to them? And by the Lord! The finest barbel ever drawn from
the Loire! Just stick your teeth into this pastry. This game is my own
hunting; he who takes it not offends me.” And again, “Drink, the
king’s eyes are the other way. Just give your opinion of these
preserves, they are Madame’s own. Have some of these grapes, they are
my own growing. Have some medlars.” And while inducing them to swell
out their abdominal protuberances, the good monarch laughed with them,
and they joked and disputed, and spat, and blew their noses, and
kicked up just as though the king had not been with them. Then so much
victuals had been taken on board, so many flagons drained and stews
spoiled, that the faces of the guests were the colour of cardinals
gowns, and their doublets appeared ready to burst, since they were
crammed with meat like Troyes sausages from the top to the bottom of
their paunches. Going into the saloon again, they broke into a profuse
sweat, began to blow, and to curse their gluttony. The king sat
quietly apart; each of them was the more willing to be silent because
all their forces were required for the intestinal digestion of the
huge platefuls confined in their stomachs, which began to wabble and
rumble violently. One said to himself, “I was stupid to eat of that
sauce.” Another scolded himself for having indulged in a plate of eels
cooked with capers. Another thought to himself, “Oh! oh! The forcemeat
is serving me out.” The cardinal, who was the biggest bellied man of
the lot, snorted through his nostrils like a frightened horse. It was
he who was first compelled to give vent to a loud sounding belch, and
then he soon wished himself in Germany, where this is a form of
salutation, for the king hearing this gastric language looked at the
cardinal with knitted brows.

“What does this mean?” said he, “am I a simple clerk?”

This was heard with terror, because usually the king made much of a
good belch well off the stomach. The other guests determined to get
rid in another way of the vapours which were dodging about in their
pancreatic retorts; and at first they endeavoured to hold them for a
little while in the pleats of their mesenteries. It was then that some
of them puffed and swelled like tax-gatherers. Beaupertuys took the
good king aside and said to him--

“Know now that I have had made by the Church jeweller Peccard, two
large dolls, exactly resembling this lady and myself. Now when
hard-pressed by the drugs which I have put in their goblets, they
desire to mount the throne to which we are now about to pretend to go,
they will always find the place taken; by this means you will enjoy
their writhings.”

Thus having said, La Beaupertuys disappeared with the lady to go and
turn the wheel, after the custom of women, and of which I will tell
you the origin in another place. And after an honest lapse of water,
Beaupertuys came back alone, leaving it to be believed that she had
left the lady at the little laboratory of natural alchemy. Thereupon
the king, singling out the cardinal, made him get up, and talked with
him seriously of his affairs, holding him by the tassel of his amice.
To all that the king said, La Balue replied, “Yes, sir,” to be
delivered from this favour, and slip out of the room, since the water
was in his cellars, and he was about to lose the key of his back-door.
All the guests were in a state of not knowing how to arrest the
progress of the fecal matter to which nature has given, even more than
to water, the property of finding a certain level. Their substances
modified themselves and glided working downward, like those insects
who demand to be let out of their cocoons, raging, tormenting, and
ungrateful to the higher powers; for nothing is so ignorant, so
insolent as those cursed objects, and they are importunate like all
things detained to whom one owes liberty. So they slipped at every
turn like eels out of a net, and each one had need of great efforts
and science not to disgrace himself before the king. Louis took great
pleasure in interrogating his guests, and was much amused with the
vicissitudes of their physiognomies, on which were reflected the dirty
grimaces of their writhings. The counsellor of justice said to Oliver,
“I would give my office to be behind a hedge for half a dozen
seconds.”

“Oh, there is no enjoyment to equal a good stool; and now I am no
longer astonished at sempiternal droppings of a fly,” replied the
surgeon.

The cardinal believing that the lady had obtained her receipt from the
bank of deposit, left the tassels of his girdle in the king’s hand,
making a start as if he had forgotten to say his prayers, and made his
way towards the door.

“What is the matter with you, Monsieur le Cardinal?” said the king.

“By my halidame, what is the matter with me? It appears that all your
affairs are very extensive, sire!”

The cardinal had slipped out, leaving the others astonished at his
cunning. He proceeded gloriously towards the lower room, loosening a
little the strings of his purse; but when he opened the blessed little
door he found the lady at her functions upon the throne, like a pope
about to be consecrated. Then restraining his impatience, he descended
the stairs to go into the garden. However, on the last steps the
barking of the dogs put him in great fear of being bitten in one of
his precious hemispheres; and not knowing where to deliver himself of
his chemical produce he came back into the room, shivering like a man
who has been in the open air! The others seeing the cardinal return,
imagined that he had emptied his natural reservoirs, unburdened his
ecclesiastical bowels, and believed him happy. Then the surgeon rose
quickly, as if to take note of the tapestries and count the rafters,
but gained the door before anyone else, and relaxing his sphincter in
advance, he hummed a tune on his way to the retreat; arrived there he
was compelled, like La Balue, to murmur words of excuse to this
student of perpetual motion, shutting the door with as promptitude as
he opened it; and he came back burdened with an accumulation which
seriously impeded his private channels. And in the same way went to
guests one after the other, without being able to unburden themselves
of their sauces, as soon again found themselves all in the presence of
Louis the Eleventh, as much distressed as before, looking at each
other slyly, understanding each other better with their tails than
they ever understood with their mouths, for there is never any
equivoque in the transactions of the parts of nature, and everything
therein is rational and of easy comprehension, seeing that it is a
science which we learn at our birth.

“I believe,” said the cardinal to the surgeon, “that lady will go on
until to-morrow. What was La Beaupertuys about to ask such a case of
diarrhoea here?”

“She’s been an hour working at what I could get done in a minute. May
the fever seize her” cried Oliver le Daim.

All the courtiers seized with colic were walking up and down to make
their importunate matters patient, when the said lady reappeared in
the room. You can believe they found her beautiful and graceful, and
would willingly have kissed her, there where they so longed to go; and
never did they salute the day with more favour than this lady, the
liberator of the poor unfortunate bodies. La Balue rose; the others,
from honour, esteem, and reverence of the church, gave way to the
clergy, and, biding their time, they continued to make grimaces, at
which the king laughed to himself with Nicole, who aided him to stop
the respiration of these loose-bowelled gentlemen. The good Scotch
captain, who more than all the others had eaten of a dish in which the
cook had put an aperient powder, became the victim of misplaced
confidence. He went ashamed into a corner, hoping that before the
king, his mishap might escape detection. At this moment the cardinal
returned horribly upset, because he had found La Beaupertuys on the
episcopal seat. Now, in his torments, not knowing if she were in the
room, he came back and gave vent to a diabolical “Oh!” on beholding
her near his master.

“What do you mean?” exclaimed the king, looking at the priest in a way
to give him the fever.

“Sire,” said La Balue, insolently, “the affairs of purgatory are in my
ministry, and I am bound to inform you that there is sorcery going on
in this house.”

“Ah! little priest, you wish to make game of me!” said the king.

At these words the company were in a terrible state.

“So you treat me with disrespect?” said the king, which made them turn
pale. “Ho, there! Tristan, my friend!” cried Louis XI. from the
window, which he threw up suddenly, “come up here!”

The grand provost of the hotel was not long before he appeared; and as
these gentlemen were all nobodies, raised to their present position by
the favour of the king, Louis, in a moment of anger, could crush them
at will; so that with the exception of the cardinal who relied upon
his cassock, Tristan found them all rigid and aghast.

“Conduct these gentleman to the Pretorium, on the Mall, my friend,
they have disgraced themselves through over-eating.”

“Am I not good at jokes?” said Nicole to him.

“The farce is good, but it is fetid,” replied he, laughing.

This royal answer showed the courtiers that this time the king did not
intend to play with their heads, for which they thanked heaven. The
monarch was partial to these dirty tricks. He was not at all a bad
fellow, as the guests remarked while relieving themselves against the
side of the Mall with Tristan, who, like a good Frenchman, kept them
company, and escorted them to their homes. This is why since that time
the citizens of Tours had never failed to defile the Mall of
Chardonneret, because the gentlemen of the court had been there.

I will not leave this great king without committing to writing this
good joke which he played upon La Godegrand, who was an old maid, much
disgusted that she had not, during the forty years she had lived, been
able to find a lid to her saucepan, enraged, in her yellow skin, that
she still was as virgin as a mule. This old maid had her apartments on
the other side of the house which belonged to La Beaupertuys, at the
corner of the Rue de Hierusalem, in such a position that, standing on
the balcony joining the wall, it was easy to see what she was doing,
and hear what she was saying in the lower room where she lived; and
often the king derived much amusement from the antics of the old girl,
who did not know that she was so much within the range of his
majesty’s culverin. Now one market day it happened that the king had
caused to be hanged a young citizen of Tours, who had violated a noble
lady of a certain age, believing that she was a young maiden. There
would have been no harm in this, and it would have been a thing
greatly to the credit of the said lady to have been taken for a
virgin; but on finding out his mistake, he had abominably insulted
her, and suspecting her of trickery, had taken it into his head to rob
her of a splendid silver goblet, in payment of the present he had just
made her. This young man had long hair, and was so handsome that the
whole town wished to see him hanged, both from regret and out of
curiosity. You may be sure that at this hanging there were more caps
than hats. Indeed, the said young man swung very well; and after the
fashion and custom of persons hanged, he died gallantly with his lance
couched, which fact made a great noise in the town. Many ladies said
on this subject that it was a murder not to have preserved so fine a
fellow from the scaffold.

“Suppose we were to put this handsome corpse in the bed of La
Godegrand,” said La Beaupertuys to the king.

“We should terrify her,” replied Louis.

“Not at all, sire. Be sure that she will welcome even a dead man, so
madly does she long for a living one. Yesterday I saw her making love
to a young man’s cap placed on the top of a chair, and you would have
laughed heartily at her words and gestures.”

Now while this forty-year-old virgin was at vespers, the king sent to
have this young townsman, who had just finished the last scene of his
tragic farce, taken down, and having dressed him in a white shirt, two
officers got over the walls of La Godegrand’s garden, and put the
corpse into her bed, on the side nearest the street. Having done this
they went away, and the king remained in the room with the balcony to
it, playing with Beaupertuys, and awaiting an hour at which the old
maid should go to bed. La Godegrand soon came back with a hop, skip,
and jump, as the Tourainians say, from the church of St Martin, from
which she was not far, since the Rue de Hierusalem touches the walls
of the cloister. She entered her house, laid down her prayer-book,
chaplet, and rosary, and other ammunition which these old girls carry,
then poked the fire, and blew it, warmed herself at it, settled
herself in her chair, and played with her cat for want of something
better; then she went to the larder, supping and sighing, and sighing
and supping, eating alone, with her eyes cast down upon the carpet;
and after having drunk, behaved in a manner forbidden in court
society.

“Ah!” the corpse said to her, “‘_God bless you_!’”

At this joke of luck of La Beaupertuys, both laughed heartily in their
sleeves. And with great attention this very Christian king watched the
undressing of the old maid, who admired herself while removing her
things--pulling out a hair, or scratching a pimple which had
maliciously come upon her nose; picking her teeth, and doing a
thousand little things which, alas! all ladies, virgins or not, are
obliged to do, much to their annoyance; but without these little
faults of nature, they would be too proud, and one would not be able
to enjoy their society. Having achieved her aquatic and musical
discourse, the old maid got in between the sheets, and yelled forth a
fine, great, ample, and curious cry, when she saw, when she smelt the
fresh vigour of this hanged man and the sweet perfume of his manly
youth; then sprang away from him out of coquetry. But as she did not
know he was really dead, she came back again, believing he was mocking
her, and counterfeiting death.

“Go away, you bad young man!” said she.

But you can imagine that she proffered this requests in a most humble
and gracious tone of voice. Then seeing that he did not move, she
examined him more closely, and was much astonished at this so fine
human nature when she recognised the young fellow, upon whom the fancy
took her to perform some purely scientific experiments in the
interests of hanged persons.

“What is she doing?” said La Beaupertuys to the king.

“She is trying to reanimate him. It is a work of Christian humanity.”

And the old girl rubbed and warmed this fine young man, supplicating
holy Mary the Egyptian to aid her to renew the life of this husband
who had fallen so amorously from heaven, when, suddenly looking at the
dead body she was so charitably rubbing, she thought she saw a slight
movement in the eyes; then she put her hand upon the man’s heart, and
felt it beat feebly. At length, from the warmth of the bed and of
affection, and by the temperature of old maids, which is by far more
burning then the warm blasts of African deserts, she had the delight
of bringing to life that fine handsome young fellow who by lucky
chance had been very badly hanged.

“See how my executioners serve me!” said Louis, laughing.

“Ah!” said La Beaupertuys, “you will not have him hanged again? he is
too handsome.”

“The decree does not say that he shall be hanged twice, but he shall
marry the old woman.”

Indeed, the good lady went in a great hurry to seek a master leech, a
good bleeder, who lived in the Abbey, and brought him back directly.
He immediately took his lancet, and bled the young man. And as no
blood came out: “Ah!” said he, “it is too late, the transshipment of
blood in the lungs has taken place.”

But suddenly this good young blood oozed out a little, and then came
out in abundance, and the hempen apoplexy, which had only just begun,
was arrested in its course. The young man moved and came more to life;
then he fell, from natural causes, into a state of great weakness and
profound sadness, prostration of flesh and general flabbiness. Now the
old maid, who was all eyes, and followed the great and notable changes
which were taking place in the person of this badly hanged man, pulled
the surgeon by the sleeve, and pointing out to him, by a curious
glance of the eye, the piteous cause, said to him--

“Will he for the future be always like that?”

“Often,” replied the veracious surgeon.

“Oh! he was much nicer hanged!”

At this speech the king burst out laughing. Seeing him at the window,
the woman and the surgeon were much frightened, for this laugh seemed
to them a second sentence of death for their poor victim. But the king
kept his word, and married them. And in order to do justice he gave
the husband the name of the Sieur de Mortsauf in the place of the one
he had lost upon the scaffold. As La Godegrand had a very big basket
of crowns, they founded a good family in Touraine, which still exists
and is much respected, since M. de Mortsauf faithfully served Louis
the Eleventh on different occasions. Only he never liked to come
across gibbets or old women, and never again made amorous assignations
in the night.

This teaches us to thoroughly verify and recognise women, and not to
deceive ourselves in the local difference which exists between the old
and the young, for if we are not hanged for our errors of love, there
are always great risks to run.



                     THE HIGH CONSTABLE’S WIFE

The high constable of Armagnac espoused from the desire of a great
fortune, the Countess Bonne, who was already considerably enamoured of
little Savoisy, son of the chamberlain to his majesty King Charles the
Sixth.

The constable was a rough warrior, miserable in appearance, tough in
skin, thickly bearded, always uttering angry words, always busy
hanging people, always in the sweat of battles, or thinking of other
stratagems than those of love. Thus the good soldier, caring little to
flavour the marriage stew, used his charming wife after the fashion of
a man with more lofty ideas; of the which the ladies have a great
horror, since they like not the joists of the bed to be the sole
judges of their fondling and vigorous conduct.

Now the lovely Countess, as soon as she was grafted on the constable,
only nibbled more eagerly at the love with which her heart was laden
for the aforesaid Savoisy, which that gentleman clearly perceived.

Wishing both to study the same music, they would soon harmonise their
fancies, and decipher the hieroglyphic; and this was a thing clearly
demonstrated to the Queen Isabella, that Savoisy’s horses were oftener
stabled at the house of her cousin of Armagnac than in the Hotel St.
Pol, where the chamberlain lived, since the destruction of his
residence, ordered by the university, as everyone knows.

This discreet and wise princess, fearing in advance some unfortunate
adventure for Bonne--the more so as the constable was as ready to
brandish his broadsword as a priest to bestow benedictions--the said
queen, as sharp as a dirk, said one day, while coming out from
vespers, to her cousin, who was taking the holy water with Savoisy--

“My dear, don’t you see some blood in that water?”

“Bah!” said Savoisy to the queen. “Love likes blood, Madame.”

This the Queen considered a good reply, and put it into writing, and
later on, into action, when her lord the king wounded one of her
lovers, whose business you see settled in this narrative.

You know by constant experience, that in the early time of love each
of two lovers is always in great fear of exposing the mystery of the
heart, and as much from the flower of prudence as from the amusement
yielded by the sweet tricks of gallantry they play at who can best
conceal their thoughts, but one day of forgetfulness suffices to inter
the whole virtuous past. The poor woman is taken in her joy as in a
lasso; her sweetheart proclaims his presence, or sometimes his
departure, by some article of clothing--a scarf, a spur, left by some
fatal chance, and there comes a stroke of the dagger that severs the
web so gallantly woven by their golden delights. But when one is full
of days, he should not make a wry face at death, and the sword of a
husband is a pleasant death for a gallant, if there be pleasant
deaths. So may be will finish the merry amours of the constable’s
wife.

One morning Monsieur d’Armagnac having lots of leisure time in
consequence of the flight of the Duke of Burgundy, who was quitting
Lagny, thought he would go and wish his lady good day, and attempted
to wake her up in a pleasant enough fashion, so that she should not be
angry; but she sunk in the heavy slumbers of the morning, replied to
the action--

“Leave me alone, Charles!”

“Oh, oh,” said the constable, hearing the name of a saint who was not
one of his patrons, “I have a Charles on my head!”

Then, without touching his wife, he jumped out of the bed, and ran
upstairs with his face flaming and his sword drawn, to the place where
slept the countess’s maid-servant, convinced that the said servant had
a finger in the pie.

“Ah, ah, wench of hell!” cried he, to commence the discharge of his
passion, “say thy prayers, for I intend to kill thee instantly,
because of the secret practices of Charles who comes here.”

“Ah, Monseigneur,” replied the woman, “who told you that?”

“Stand steady, that I may rip thee at one blow if you do not confess
to me every assignation given, and in what manner they have been
arranged. If thy tongue gets entangled, if thou falterest, I will
pierce thee with my dagger!”

“Pierce me through!” replied the girl; “you will learn nothing.”

The constable, having taken this excellent reply amiss, ran her
through on the spot, so mad was he with rage; and came back into his
wife’s chamber and said to his groom, whom, awakened by the shrieks of
the girl, he met upon the stairs, “Go upstairs; I’ve corrected
Billette rather severely.”

Before he reappeared in the presence of Bonne he went to fetch his
son, who was sleeping like a child, and led him roughly into her room.
The mother opened her eyes pretty widely, you may imagine--at the
cries of her little one; and was greatly terrified at seeing him in
the hands of her husband, who had his right hand all bloody, and cast
a fierce glance on the mother and son.

“What is the matter?” said she.

“Madame,” asked the man of quick execution, “this child, is he the
fruit of my loins, or those of Savoisy, your lover?”

At this question Bonne turned pale, and sprang upon her son like a
frightened frog leaping into the water.

“Ah, he is really ours,” said she.

“If you do not wish to see his head roll at your feet confess yourself
to me, and no prevarication. You have given me a lieutenant.”

“Indeed!”

“Who is he?”

“It is not Savoisy, and I will never say the name of a man that I
don’t know.”

Thereupon the constable rose, took his wife by the arm to cut her
speech with a blow of the sword, but she, casting upon him an imperial
glance, cried--

“Kill me if you will, but touch me not.”

“You shall live,” replied the husband, “because I reserve you for a
chastisement more ample then death.”

And doubting the inventions, snares, arguments, and artifices familiar
to women in these desperate situations, of which they study night and
day the variations, by themselves, or between themselves, he departed
with this rude and bitter speech. He went instantly to interrogate his
servants, presenting to them a face divinely terrible; so all of them
replied to him as they would to God the Father on the Judgment Day,
when each of us will be called to his account.

None of them knew the serious mischief which was at the bottom of
these summary interrogations and crafty interlocutions; but from all
that they said, the constable came to the conclusion that no male in
his house was in the business, except one of his dogs, whom he found
dumb, and to whom he had given the post of watching the gardens; so
taking him in his hands, he strangled him with rage. This fact incited
him by induction to suppose that the other constable came into his
house by the garden, of which the only entrance was a postern opening
on to the water side.

It is necessary to explain to those who are ignorant of it, the
locality of the Hotel d’Armagnac, which had a notable situation near
to the royal houses of St. Pol. On this site has since been built the
hotel of Longueville. Then as at the present time, the residence of
d’Armagnac had a porch of fine stone in Rue St. Antoine, was fortified
at all points, and the high walls by the river side, in face of the
Ile du Vaches, in the part where now stands the port of La Greve, were
furnished with little towers. The design of these has for a long time
been shown at the house of Cardinal Duprat, the king’s Chancellor. The
constable ransacked his brains, and at the bottom, from his finest
stratagems, drew the best, and fitted it so well to the present case,
that the gallant would be certain to be taken like a hare in the trap.
“‘Sdeath,” said he, “my planter of horns is taken, and I have the time
now to think how I shall finish him off.”

Now this is the order of battle which this grand hairy captain who
waged such glorious war against Duke Jean-sans-Peur commanded for the
assault of his secret enemy. He took a goodly number of his most loyal
and adroit archers, and placed them on the quay tower, ordering them
under the heaviest penalties to draw without distinction of persons,
except his wife, on those of his household who should attempt to leave
the gardens, and to admit therein, either by night or by day, the
favoured gentleman. The same was done on the porch side, in the Rue St
Antoine.

The retainers, even the chaplain, were ordered not to leave the house
under pain of death. Then the guard of the two sides of the hotel
having been committed to the soldiers of a company of ordnance, who
were ordered to keep a sharp lookout in the side streets, it was
certain that the unknown lover to whom the constable was indebted for
his pair of horns, would be taken warm, when, knowing nothing, he
should come at the accustomed hour of love to insolently plant his
standard in the heart of the legitimate appurtenances of the said lord
count.

It was a trap into which the most expert man would fall unless he was
seriously protected by the fates, as was the good St. Peter by the
Saviour when he prevented him going to the bottom of the sea the day
when they had a fancy to try if the sea were as solid as terra firma.

The constable had business with the inhabitants of Poissy, and was
obliged to be in the saddle after dinner, so that, knowing his
intention, the poor Countess Bonne determined at night to invite her
young gallant to that charming duel in which she was always the
stronger.

While the constable was making round his hotel a girdle of spies and
of death, and hiding his people near the postern to seize the gallant
as he came out, not knowing where he would spring from, his wife was
not amusing herself by threading peas nor seeking black cows in the
embers. First, the maid-servant who had been stuck, unstuck herself
and dragged herself to her mistress; she told her that her outraged
lord knew nothing, and that before giving up the ghost she would
comfort her dear mistress by assuring her that she could have perfect
confidence in her sister, who was laundress in the hotel, and was
willing to let herself be chopped up as small as sausage-meat to
please Madame. That she was the most adroit and roguish woman in the
neighbourhood, and renowned from the council chamber to the Trahoir
cross among the common people, and fertile in invention for the
desperate cases of love.

Then, while weeping for the decease of her good chamber woman, the
countess sent for the laundress, made her leave her tubs and join her
in rummaging the bag of good tricks, wishing to save Savoisy, even at
the price of her future salvation.

First of all the two women determined to let him know their lord and
master’s suspicion, and beg him to be careful.

Now behold the good washerwoman who, carrying her tub like a mule,
attempts to leave the hotel. But at the porch she found a man-at-arms
who turned a deaf ear to all the blandishments of the wash-tub. Then
she resolved, from her great devotion, to take the soldier on his weak
side, and she tickled him so with her fondling that he romped very
well with her, although he was armour-plated ready for battle; but
when the game was over he still refused to let her go into the street
and although she tried to get herself a passport sealed by some of the
handsomest, believing them more gallant: neither the archers,
men-at-arms, nor others, dared open for her the smallest entrance of
the house. “You are wicked and ungrateful wretches,” said she, “not to
render me a like service.”

Luckily at this employment she learned everything, and came back in
great haste to her mistress, to whom she recounted the strange
machinations of the count. The two women held a fresh council and had
not considered, the time it takes to sing _Alleluia_, twice, these
warlike appearances, watches, defences, and equivocal, specious, and
diabolical orders and dispositions before they recognised by the sixth
sense with which all females are furnished, the special danger which
threatened the poor lover.

Madame having learned that she alone had leave to quit the house,
ventured quickly to profit by her right, but she did not go the length
of a bow-shot, since the constable had ordered four of his pages to be
always on duty ready to accompany the countess, and two of the ensigns
of his company not to leave her. Then the poor lady returned to her
chamber, weeping as much as all the Magdalens one sees in the church
pictures, could weep together.

“Alas!” said she, “my lover must then be killed, and I shall never see
him again! . . . he whose words were so sweet, whose manners were so
graceful, that lovely head that had so often rested on my knees, will
now be bruised . . . What! Can I not throw to my husband an empty and
valueless head in place of the one full of charms and worth . . . a
rank head for a sweet-smelling one; a hated head for a head of love.”

“Ah, Madame!” cried the washerwoman, “suppose we dress up in the
garments of a nobleman, the steward’s son who is mad for me, and
wearies me much, and having thus accoutered him, we push him out
through the postern.”

Thereupon the two women looked at each other with assassinating eyes.

“This marplot,” said she, “once slain, all those soldiers will fly
away like geese.”

“Yes, but will not the count recognise the wretch?”

And the countess, striking her breast, exclaimed, shaking her head,
“No, no, my dear, here it is noble blood that must be spilt without
stint.”

Then she thought a little, and jumping with joy, suddenly kissed the
laundress, saying, “Because I have saved my lover’s life by your
counsel, I will pay you for his life until death.”

Thereupon the countess dried her tears, put on the face of a bride,
took her little bag and a prayer-book, and went towards the Church of
St. Pol whose bells she heard ringing, seeing that the last Mass was
about to be said. In this sweet devotion the countess never failed,
being a showy woman, like all the ladies of the court. Now this was
called the full-dress Mass, because none but fops, fashionables, young
gentlemen and ladies puffed out and highly scented, were to be met
there. In fact no dresses was seen there without armorial bearings,
and no spurs that were not gilt.

So the Countess of Bonne departed, leaving at the hotel the laundress
much astonished, and charged to keep her eyes about her, and came with
great pomp to the church, accompanied by her pages, the two ensigns
and men-at-arms. It is here necessary to say that among the band of
gallant knights who frisked round the ladies in church, the countess
had more than one whose joy she was, and who had given his heart to
her, after the fashion of youths who put down enough and to spare upon
their tablets, only in order to make a conquest of at least one out of
a great number.

Among these birds of fine prey who with open beaks looked oftener
between the benches and the paternosters than towards the altar and
the priests, there was one upon whom the countess sometimes bestowed
the charity of a glance, because he was less trifling and more deeply
smitten than all the others.

This one remained bashful, always stuck against the same pillar, never
moving from it, but readily ravished with the sight alone of this lady
whom he had chosen as his. His pale face was softly melancholy. His
physiognomy gave proof of fine heart, one of those which nourish
ardent passions and plunge delightedly into the despairs of love
without hope. Of these people there are few, because ordinarily one
likes more a certain thing than the unknown felicities lying and
flourishing at the bottommost depths of the soul.

This said gentleman, although his garments were well made, and clean
and neat, having even a certain amount of taste shown in the
arrangement, seemed to the constable’s wife to be a poor knight
seeking fortune, and come from afar, with his nobility for his
portion. Now partly from a suspicion of his secret poverty, partly
because she was well beloved by him and a little because he had a good
countenance, fine black hair, and a good figure, and remained humble
and submissive in all, the constable’s wife desired for him the favour
of women and of fortune, not to let his gallantry stand idle, and from
a good housewifely idea, she fired his imagination according to her
fantasies, by certain small favours and little looks which serpented
towards him like biting adders, trifling with the happiness of this
young life, like a princess accustomed to play with objects more
precious than a simple knight. In fact, her husband risked the whole
kingdom as you would a penny at piquet. Finally it was only three days
since, at the conclusion of vespers, that the constable’s wife pointed
out to the queen this follower of love, said laughingly--

“There’s a man of quality.”

This sentence remained in the fashionable language. Later it became a
custom so to designate the people of the court. It was to the wife of
the constable d’Armagnac, and to no other source, that the French
language is indebted for this charming expression.

By a lucky chance the countess had surmised correctly concerning this
gentleman. He was a bannerless knight, named Julien de Boys-Bourredon,
who not having inherited on his estate enough to make a toothpick, and
knowing no other wealth than the rich nature with which his dead
mother had opportunely furnished him, conceived the idea of deriving
therefrom both rent and profit at court, knowing how fond ladies are
of those good revenues, and value them high and dear, when they can
stand being looked at between two suns. There are many like him who
have thus taken the narrow road of women to make their way; but he,
far from arranging his love in measured qualities, spend funds and
all, as soon as he came to the full-dress Mass, he saw the triumphant
beauty of the Countess Bonne. Then he fell really in love, which was a
grand thing for his crowns, because he lost both thirst and appetite.
This love is of the worst kind, because it incites you to the love of
diet, during the diet of love; a double malady, of which one is
sufficient to extinguish a man.

Such was the young gentlemen of whom the good lady had thought, and
towards whom she came quickly to invite him to his death.

On entering she saw the poor chevalier, who faithful to his pleasure,
awaited her, his back against a pillar, as a sick man longs for the
sun, the spring-time, and the dawn. Then she turned away her eyes, and
wished to go to the queen and request her assistance in this desperate
case, for she took pity on her lover, but one of the captains said to
her, with great appearance of respect, “Madame, we have orders not to
allow you to speak with man or woman, even though it should be the
queen or your confessor. And remember that the lives of all of us are
at stake.”

“Is it not your business to die?” said she.

“And also to obey,” replied the soldier.

Then the countess knelt down in her accustomed place, and again
regarding her faithful slave, found his face thinner and more deeply
lined than ever it had been.

“Bah!” said she, “I shall have less remorse for his death; he is half
dead as it is.”

With this paraphrase of her idea, she cast upon the said gentleman one
of those warm ogles that are only allowable to princesses and harlots,
and the false love which her lovely eyes bore witness to, gave a
pleasant pang to the gallant of the pillar. Who does not love the warm
attack of life when it flows thus round the heart and engulfs
everything?

Madame recognised with a pleasure, always fresh in the minds of women,
the omnipotence of her magnificent regard by the answer which, without
saying a word, the chevalier made to it. And in fact, the blushes
which empurpled his cheeks spoke better than the best speeches of the
Greek and Latin orators, and were well understood. At this sweet
sight, the countess, to make sure that it was not a freak of nature,
took pleasure in experimentalising how far the virtue of her eyes
would go, and after having heated her slave more than thirty times,
she was confirmed in her belief that he would bravely die for her.
This idea so touched her, that from three repetitions between her
orisons she was tickled with the desire to put into a lump all the
joys of man, and to dissolve them for him in one single glance of
love, in order that she should not one day be reproached with having
not only dissipated the life, but also the happiness of this
gentleman. When the officiating priest turned round to sing the _Off
you go_ to this fine gilded flock, the constable’s wife went out by the
side of the pillar where her courtier was, passed in front of him and
endeavoured to insinuate into his understanding by a speaking glance
that he was to follow her, and to make positive the intelligence and
significant interpretation of this gentle appeal, the artful jade
turned round again a little after passing him to again request his
company. She saw that he had moved a little from his place, and dared
not advance, so modest was he, but upon this last sign, the gentleman,
sure of not being over-credulous, mixed with the crowd with little and
noiseless steps, like an innocent who is afraid of venturing into one
of those good places people call bad ones. And whether he walked
behind or in front, to the right or to the left, my lady bestowed upon
him a glistening glance to allure him the more and the better to draw
him to her, like a fisher who gently jerks the lines in order to hook
the gudgeon. To be brief: the countess practiced so well the
profession of the daughters of pleasure when they work to bring grist
into their mills, that one would have said nothing resembled a harlot
so much as a woman of high birth. And indeed, on arriving at the porch
of her hotel the countess hesitated to enter therein, and again turned
her face towards the poor chevalier to invite him to accompany her,
discharging at him so diabolical a glance, that he ran to the queen of
his heart, believing himself to be called by her. Thereupon, she
offered him her hand, and both boiling and trembling from the contrary
causes found themselves inside the house. At this wretched hour,
Madame d’Armagnac was ashamed of having done all these harlotries to
the profit of death, and of betraying Savoisy the better to save him;
but this slight remorse was lame as the greater, and came tardily.
Seeing everything ready, the countess leaned heavily upon her vassal’s
arm, and said to him--

“Come quickly to my room; it is necessary that I should speak with
you.”

And he, not knowing that his life was in peril, found no voice
wherewith to reply, so much did the hope of approaching happiness
choke him.

When the laundress saw this handsome gentleman so quickly hooked,
“Ah!” said she, “these ladies of the court are best at such work.”
 Then she honoured this courtier with a profound salutation, in which
was depicted the ironical respect due to those who have the great
courage to die for so little.

“Picard,” said the constable’s lady, drawing the laundress to her by
the skirt, “I have not the courage to confess to him the reward with
which I am about to pay his silent love and his charming belief in the
loyalty of women.”

“Bah! Madame: why tell him? Send him away well contented by the
postern. So many men die in war for nothing, cannot this one die for
something? I’ll produce another like him if that will console you.”

“Come along,” cried the countess, “I will confess all to him. That
will be the punishment for my sins.”

Thinking that this lady was arranging with her servant certain
trifling provisions and secret things in order not to be disturbed in
the interview she had promised him, the unknown lover kept at a
discreet distance, looking at the flies. Nevertheless, he thought that
the countess was very bold, but also, as even a hunchback would have
done, he found a thousand reasons to justify her, and thought himself
quite worthy to inspire such recklessness. He was lost in those good
thoughts when the constable’s wife opened the door of her chamber, and
invited the chevalier to follow her in. There his noble lady cast
aside all the apparel of her lofty fortune, and falling at the feet of
this gentleman, became a simple woman.

“Alas, sweet sir!” said she, “I have acted vilely towards you. Listen.
On your departure from this house, you will meet your death. The love
which I feel for another has bewildered me, and without being able to
hold his place here, you will have to take it before his murderers.
This is the joy to which I have bidden you.”

“Ah!” Replied Boys-Bourredon, interring in the depths of his heart a
dark despair, “I am grateful to you for having made use of me as of
something which belonged to you. . . . Yes, I love you so much that
every day you I have dreamed of offering you in imitation of the
ladies, a thing that can be given but once. Take, then, my life!”

And the poor chevalier, in saying this, gave her one glance to suffice
for all the time he would have been able to look at her through the
long days. Hearing these brave and loving words, Bonne rose suddenly.

“Ah! were it not for Savoisy, how I would love thee!” said she.

“Alas! my fate is then accomplished,” replied Boys-Bourredon. “My
horoscope predicted that I should die by the love of a great lady. Ah,
God!” said he, clutching his good sword, “I will sell my life dearly,
but I shall die content in thinking that my decease ensures the
happiness of her I love. I should live better in her memory than in
reality.” At the sight of the gesture and the beaming face of this
courageous man, the constable’s wife was pierced to the heart. But
soon she was wounded to the quick because he seemed to wish to leave
her without even asking of her the smallest favour.

“Come, that I may arm you,” said she to him, making an attempt to kiss
him.

“Ha! my lady-love,” replied he, moistening with a gentle tear the fire
of his eyes, “would you render my death impossible by attaching too
great a value to my life?”

“Come,” cried she, overcome by this intense love, “I do not know what
the end of all this will be, but come--afterwards we will go and
perish together at the postern.”

The same flame leaped in their hearts, the same harmony had struck for
both, they embraced each other with a rapture in the delicious excess
of that mad fever which you know well I hope; they fell into a
profound forgetfulness of the dangers of Savoisy, of themselves, of
the constable, of death, of life, of everything.

Meanwhile the watchman at the porch had gone to inform the constable
of the arrival of the gallant, and to tell him how the infatuated
gentleman had taken no notice of the winks which, during Mass and on
the road, the countess had given him in order to prevent his
destruction. They met their master arriving in great haste at the
postern, because on their side the archers of the quay had whistled to
him afar off, saying to him--

“The Sire de Savoisy has passed in.”

And indeed Savoisy had come at the appointed hour, and like all the
lovers, thinking only of his lady, he had not seen the count’s spies
and had slipped in at the postern. This collision of lovers was the
cause of the constable’s cutting short the words of those who came
from the Rue St. Antoine, saying to them with a gesture of authority,
that they did not think wise to disregard--

“I know that the animal is taken.”

Thereupon all rushed with a great noise through this said postern,
crying, “Death to him! death to him!” and men-at-arms, archers, the
constable, and the captains, all rushed full tilt upon Charles
Savoisy, the king’s nephew, who they attacked under the countess’s
window, where by a strange chance, the groans of the poor young man
were dolorously exhaled, mingled with the yells of the soldiers, at
the same time as passionate sighs and cries were given forth by the
two lovers, who hastened up in great fear.

“Ah!” said the countess, turning pale from terror, “Savoisy is dying
for me!”

“But I will live for you,” replied Boys-Bourredon, “and shall esteem
it a joy to pay the same price for my happiness as he has done.”

“Hide yourself in the clothes chest,” cried the countess; “I hear the
constable’s footsteps.”

And indeed M. d’Armagnac appeared very soon with a head in his hand,
and putting it all bloody on the mantleshelf, “Behold, Madame,” said
he, “a picture which will enlighten you concerning the duties of a
wife towards her husband.”

“You have killed an innocent man,” replied the countess, without
changing colour. “Savoisy was not my lover.”

And with the this speech she looked proudly at the constable with a
face marked by so much dissimulation and feminine audacity, that the
husband stood looking as foolish as a girl who has allowed a note to
escape her below, before a numerous company, and he was afraid of
having made a mistake.

“Of whom were you thinking this morning?” asked he.

“I was dreaming of the king,” said she.

“Then, my dear, why not have told me so?”

“Would you have believed me in the bestial passion you were in?”

The constable scratched his ear and replied--

“But how came Savoisy with the key of the postern?”

“I don’t know,” she said, curtly, “if you will have the goodness to
believe what I have said to you.”

And his wife turned lightly on her heel like a weather-cock turned by
the wind, pretending to go and look after the household affairs. You
can imagine that D’Armagnac was greatly embarrassed with the head of
poor Savoisy, and that for his part Boys-Bourredon had no desire to
cough while listening to the count, who was growling to himself all
sorts of words. At length the constable struck two heavy blows over
the table and said, “I’ll go and attack the inhabitants of Poissy.”
 Then he departed, and when the night was come Boys-Bourredon escaped
from the house in some disguise or other.

Poor Savoisy was sorely lamented by his lady, who had done all that a
woman could do to save her lover, and later he was more than wept, he
was regretted; for the countess having related this adventure to Queen
Isabella, her majesty seduced Boys-Bourredon from the service of her
cousin and put him to her own, so much was she touched with the
qualities and firm courage of this gentleman.

Boys-Bourredon was a man whom danger had well recommended to the
ladies. In fact he comported himself so proudly in everything in the
lofty fortune, which the queen had made for him, that having badly
treated King Charles one day when the poor man was in his proper
senses, the courtiers, jealous of favour, informed the king of his
cuckoldom. Boys-Bourredon was in a moment sewn in a sack and thrown
into the Seine, near the ferry at Charenton, as everyone knows. I have
no need add, that since the day when the constable took it into his
head to play thoughtlessly with knives, his good wife utilised so well
the two deaths he had caused and threw them so often in his face, that
she made him as soft as a cat’s paw and put him in the straight road
of marriage; and he proclaimed her a modest and virtuous constable’s
lady, as indeed she was. As this book should, according to the maxims
of great ancient authors, join certain useful things to the good
laughs which you will find therein and contain precepts of high taste,
I beg to inform you that the quintessence of the story is this: That
women need never lose their heads in serious cases, because the God of
Love never abandons them, especially when they are beautiful, young,
and of good family; and that gallants when going to keep an amorous
assignation should never go there like giddy young men, but carefully,
and keep a sharp look-out near the burrow, to avoid falling into
certain traps and to preserve themselves; for after a good woman the
most precious thing is, certes, a pretty gentleman.



                        THE MAID OF THILOUSE

The lord of Valennes, a pleasant place, of which the castle is not far
from the town of Thilouse, had taken a mean wife, who by reason of
taste or antipathy, pleasure or displeasure, health or sickness,
allowed her good husband to abstain from those pleasures stipulated
for in all contracts of marriage. In order to be just, it should be
stated that the above-mentioned lord was a dirty and ill-favoured
person, always hunting wild animals and not the more entertaining than
is a room full of smoke. And what is more, the said sportsman was all
sixty years of age, on which subject, however, he was a silent as a
hempen widow on the subject of rope. But nature, which the crooked,
the bandy-legged, the blind, and the ugly abuse so unmercifully here
below, and have no more esteem for her than the well-favoured,--since,
like workers of tapestry, they know not what they do,--gives the same
appetite to all and to all the same mouth for pudding. So every beast
finds a mate, and from the same fact comes the proverb, “There is no
pot, however ugly, that does not one day find a cover.” Now the lord
of Valennes searched everywhere for nice little pots to cover, and
often in addition to wild, he hunted tame animals; but this kind of
game was scarce in the land, and it was an expensive affair to
discover a maid. At length however by reason of much ferreting about
and much enquiry, it happened that the lord of Valennes was informed
that in Thilouse was the widow of a weaver who had a real treasure in
the person of a little damsel of sixteen years, whom she had never
allowed to leave her apronstrings, and whom, with great maternal
forethought, she always accompanied when the calls of nature demanded
her obedience; she had her to sleep with her in her own bed, watched
over her, got her up in the morning, and put her to such a work that
between the twain they gained about eight pennies a day. On fete days
she took her to the church, scarcely giving her a spare moment to
exchange a merry word with the young people; above all was she strict
in keeping hands off the maiden.

But the times were just then so hard that the widow and her daughter
had only bread enough to save them from dying of hunger, and as they
lodged with one of their poor relations, they often wanted wood in
winter and clothes in summer, owing enough rent to frighten sergeants
of justice, men who are not easily frightened at the debts of others;
in short, while the daughter was increasing in beauty, the mother was
increasing in poverty, and ran into debt on account of her daughter’s
virginity, as an alchemist will for the crucible in which his all is
cast. As soon as his plans were arranged and perfect, one rainy day
the said lord of Valennes by a mere chance came into the hovel of the
two spinners, and in order to dry himself sent for some fagots to
Plessis, close by. While waiting for them, he sat on a stool between
the two poor women. By means of the grey shadows and half light of the
cabin, he saw the sweet countenance of the maid of Thilouse; her arms
were red and firm, her breasts hard as bastions, which kept the cold
from her heart, her waist round as a young oak and all fresh and clean
and pretty, like the first frost, green and tender as an April bud; in
fact, she resembled all that is prettiest in the world. She had eyes
of a modest and virtuous blue, with a look more coy than that of the
Virgin, for she was less forward, never having had a child.

Had any one said to her, “Come, let us make love,” she would have
said, “Love! What is that?” she was so innocent and so little open to
the comprehensions of the thing.

The good old lord twisted about upon his stool, eyeing the maid and
stretching his neck like a monkey trying to catch nuts, which the
mother noticed, but said not a word, being in fear of the lord to whom
the whole of the country belonged. When the fagot was put into the
grate and flared up, the good hunter said to the old woman, “Ah, ah!
that warms one almost as much as your daughter’s eyes.”

“But alas, my lord,” said she, “we have nothing to cook on that fire.”

“Oh yes,” replied he.

“What?”

“Ah, my good woman, lend your daughter to my wife, who has need of a
good handmaiden: we will give you two fagots every day.”

“Oh, my lord, what could I cook at such a good fire?”

“Why,” replied the old rascal, “good broth, for I will give you a
measure of corn in season.”

“Then,” replied the old hag, “where shall I put it?”

“In your dish,” answered the purchaser of innocence.

“But I have neither dish nor flower-bin, nor anything.”

“Well I will give you dishes and flower-bins, saucepans, flagons, a
good bed with curtains, and everything.”

“Yes,” replied the good widow, “but the rain would spoil them, I have
no house.”

“You can see from here,” replied the lord, “the house of La
Tourbelliere, where lived my poor huntsmen Pillegrain, who was ripped
up by a boar?”

“Yes,” said the old woman.

“Well, you can make yourself at home there for the rest of your days.”

“By my faith;” cried the mother, letting fall her distaff, “do you
mean what you say?”

“Yes.”

“Well, then, what will you give my daughter?”

“All that she is willing to gain in my service.”

“Oh! my lord, you are a joking.”

“No,” said he.

“Yes,” said she.

“By St. Gatien, St. Eleuther, and by the thousand million saints who
are in heaven, I swear that--”

“Ah! Well; if you are not jesting I should like those fagots to pass
through the hands of the notary.”

“By the blood of Christ and the charms of your daughter am I not a
gentleman? Is not my word good enough?”

“Ah! well I don’t say that it is not; but as true as I am a poor
spinner I love my child too much to leave her; she is too young and
weak at present, she will break down in service. Yesterday, in his
sermon, the vicar said that we should have to answer to God for our
children.”

“There! There!” said the lord, “go and find the notary.”

An old woodcutter ran to the scrivener, who came and drew up a
contract, to which the lord of Valennes then put his cross, not
knowing how to write, and when all was signed and sealed--

“Well, old lady,” said he, “now you are no longer answerable to God
for the virtue of your child.”

“Ah! my lord, the vicar said until the age of reason, and my child is
quite reasonable.” Then turning towards her, she added, “Marie Fiquet,
that which is dearest to you is your honour, and there where you are
going everyone, without counting my lord, will try to rob you of it,
but you see well what it is worth; for that reason do not lose it save
willingly and in proper manner. Now in order not to contaminate your
virtue before God and before man, except for a legitimate motive, take
heed that your chance of marriage be not damaged beforehand, otherwise
you will go to the bad.”

“Yes, dear mother,” replied the maid.

And thereupon she left the poor abode of her relation, and came to the
chateau of Valennes, there to serve my lady, who found her both pretty
and to her taste.

When the people of Valennes, Sache, Villaines, and other places,
learned the high price given for the maid of Thilouse, the good
housewives recognising the fact that nothing is more profitable than
virtue, endeavoured to nourish and bring up their daughters virtuous,
but the business was as risky as that of rearing silkworms, which are
liable to perish, since innocence is like a medlar, and ripens quickly
on the straw. There were, however, some girls noted for it in
Touraine, who passed for virgins in the convents of the religious, but
I cannot vouch for these, not having proceeded to verify them in the
manner laid down by Verville, in order to make sure of the perfect
virtue of women. However, Marie Fiquet followed the wise counsel of
her mother, and would take no notice of the soft requests, honied
words, or apish tricks of her master, unless they were flavoured with
a promise of marriage.

When the old lord tried to kiss her, she would put her back up like a
cat at the approach of a dog, crying out “I will tell Madame!” In
short at the end of six months he had not even recovered the price of
a single fagot. From her labour Marie Fiquet became harder and firmer.
Sometimes she would reply to the gentle request of her master, “When
you have taken it from me will you give it me back again?”

Another time she would say, “If I were as full of holes as a sieve not
one should be for you, so ugly do I think you.”

The good old man took these village sayings for flowers of innocence,
and ceased not make little signs to her, long harangues and a hundred
vows and sermons, for by reason of seeing the fine breasts of the
maid, her plump hips, which at certain movements came into prominent
relief, and by reason of admiring other things capable of inflaming
the mind of a saint, this dear men became enamoured of her with an old
man’s passion, which augments in geometrical proportions as opposed to
the passions of young men, because the old men love with their
weakness which grows greater, and the young with their strength which
grows less. In order to leave this headstrong girl no loophole for
refusal, the old lord took into his confidence the steward, whose age
was seventy odd years, and made him understand that he ought to marry
in order to keep his body warm, and that Marie Fiquet was the very
girl to suit him. The old steward, who had gained three hundred pounds
by different services about the house, desired to live quietly without
opening the front door again; but his good master begged him to marry
to please him, assuring him that he need not trouble about his wife.
So the good steward wandered out of sheer good nature into this
marriage. The day of the wedding, bereft of all her reasons, and not
able to find objections to her pursuer, she made him give her a fat
settlement and dowry as the price of her conquest, and then gave the
old knave leave to wink at her as often as he could, promising him as
many embraces as he had given grains of wheat to her mother. But at
his age a bushel was sufficient.

The festivities over, the lord did not fail, as soon as his wife had
retired, to wend his way towards the well-glazed, well-carpeted, and
pretty room where he had lodged his lass, his money, his fagots, his
house, his wheat, and his steward. To be brief, know that he found the
maid of Thilouse the sweetest girl in the world, as pretty as
anything, by the soft light of the fire which was gleaming in the
chimney, snug between the sheets, and with a sweet odour about her, as
a young maiden should have, and in fact he had no regret for the great
price of this jewel. Not being able to restrain himself from hurrying
over the first mouthfuls of this royal morsel, the lord treated her
more as a past master than a young beginner. So the happy man by too
much gluttony, managed badly, and in fact knew nothing of the sweet
business of love. Finding which, the good wench said, after a minute
or two, to her old cavalier, “My lord, if you are there, as I think
you are, give a little more swing to your bells.”

From this saying, which became spread about, I know not how, Marie
Fiquet became famous, and it is still said in our country, “She is a
maid of Thilouse,” in mockery of a bride, and to signify a
“fricquenelle.”

“Fricquenelle” is said of a girl I do not wish you to find in your
arms on your wedding night, unless you have been brought up in the
philosophy of Zeno, which puts up with anything, and there are many
people obliged to be Stoics in this funny situation, which is often
met with, for Nature turns, but changes not, and there are always good
maids of Thilouse to be found in Touraine, and elsewhere. Now if you
asked me in what consists, or where comes in, the moral of this tale?
I am at liberty to reply to the ladies; that the Cent Contes
Drolatiques are made more to teach the moral of pleasure than to
procure the pleasure of pointing a moral. But if it were a used up old
rascal who asked me, I should say to him with all the respect due to
his yellow or grey locks; that God wishes to punish the lord of
Valennes, for trying to purchase a jewel made to be given.



                        THE BROTHERS-IN-ARMS

At the commencement of the reign of King Henry, second of the name,
who loved so well the fair Diana, there existed still a ceremony of
which the usage has since become much weakened, and which has
altogether disappeared, like an infinity of the good things of the
olden times. This fine and noble custom was the choice which all
knights made of a brother-in-arms. After having recognised each other
as two loyal and brave men, each one of this pretty couple was married
for life to the other; both became brothers, the one had to defend the
other in battling against the enemies who threatened him, and at Court
against the friends who slandered him. In the absence of his companion
the other was expected to say to one who should have accused his good
brother of any disloyalty, wickedness or dark felony, “You have lied
by your throat,” and so go into the field instantly, so sure was the
one of the honour of the other. There is no need to add, that the one
was always the second of the other in all affairs, good or evil, and
that they shared all good or evil fortune. They were better than the
brothers who are only united by the hazard of nature, since they were
fraternised by the bonds of an especial sentiment, involuntary and
mutual, and thus the fraternity of arms has produced splendid
characters, as brave as those of the ancient Greeks, Romans, or
others. . . . But this is not my subject; the history of these things
has been written by the historians of our country, and everyone knows
them.

Now at this time two young gentlemen of Touraine, of whom one was the
Cadet of Maille, and the other Sieur de Lavalliere, became
brothers-in-arms on the day they gained their spurs. They were leaving
the house of Monsieur de Montmorency, where they had been nourished with
the good doctrines of this great Captain, and had shown how contagious
is valour in such good company, for at the battle of Ravenna they
merited the praises of the oldest knights. It was in the thick of this
fierce fight that Maille, saved by the said Lavalliere, with whom he
had had a quarrel or two, perceived that this gentleman had a noble
heart. As they had each received slashes in the doublets, they
baptised their fraternity with their blood, and were ministered to
together in one and the same bed under the tent of Monsieur de
Montmorency their master. It is necessary to inform you that, contrary
to the custom of his family, which was always to have a pretty face,
the Cadet of Maille was not of a pleasing physiognomy, and had
scarcely any beauty but that of the devil. For the rest he was lithe
as a greyhound, broad shouldered and strongly built as King Pepin, who
was a terrible antagonist. On the other hand, the Sieur de Lavalliere
was a dainty fellow, for whom seemed to have been invented rich laces,
silken hose, and cancellated shoes. His long dark locks were pretty as
a lady’s ringlets, and he was, to be brief, a child with whom all the
women would be glad to play. One day the Dauphine, niece of the Pope,
said laughingly to the Queen of Navarre, who did not dislike these
little jokes, “that this page was a plaster to cure every ache,” which
caused the pretty little Tourainian to blush, because, being only
sixteen, he took this gallantry as a reproach.

Now on his return from Italy the Cadet of Maille found the slipper of
marriage ready for his foot, which his mother had obtained for him in
the person of Mademoiselle d’Annebaut, who was a graceful maiden of
good appearance, and well furnished with everything, having a splendid
hotel in the Rue Barbette, with handsome furniture and Italian
paintings and many considerable lands to inherit. Some days after the
death of King Francis--a circumstance which planted terror in the
heart of everyone, because his said Majesty had died in consequence of
an attack of the Neapolitan sickness, and that for the future there
would be no security even with princesses of the highest birth--the
above-named Maille was compelled to quit the Court in order to go and
arrange certain affairs of great importance in Piedmont. You may be
sure that he was very loath to leave his good wife, so young, so
delicate, so sprightly, in the midst of the dangers, temptations,
snares and pitfalls of this gallant assemblage, which comprised so
many handsome fellows, bold as eagles, proud of mein, and as fond of
women as the people are partial to Paschal hams. In this state of
intense jealousy everything made him ill at ease; but by dint of much
thinking, it occurred to him to make sure of his wife in the manner
about to be related. He invited his good brother-in-arms to come at
daybreak on the morning of his departure. Now directly he heard
Lavalliere’s horse in the courtyard, he leaped out of bed, leaving his
sweet and fair better-half sleeping that gentle, dreamy, dozing sleep
so beloved by dainty ladies and lazy people. Lavalliere came to him,
and the two companions, hidden in the embrasure of the window, greeted
each other with a loyal clasp of the hand, and immediately Lavalliere
said to Maille--

“I should have been here last night in answer to thy summons, but I
had a love suit on with my lady, who had given me an assignation; I
could in no way fail to keep it, but I quitted her at dawn. Shall I
accompany thee? I have told her of thy departure, she has promised me
to remain without any amour; we have made a compact. If she deceives
me--well a friend is worth more than a mistress!”

“Oh! my good brother” replied the Maille, quite overcome with these
words, “I wish to demand of thee a still higher proof of thy brave
heart. Wilt thou take charge of my wife, defend her against all, be
her guide, keep her in check and answer to me for the integrity of my
head? Thou canst stay here during my absence, in the green-room, and
be my wife’s cavalier.”

Lavalliere knitted his brow and said--

“It is neither thee nor thy wife that I fear, but evil-minded people,
who will take advantage of this to entangle us like skeins of silk.”

“Do not be afraid of me,” replied Maille, clasping Lavalliere to his
breast. “If it be the divine will of the Almighty that I should have
the misfortune to be a cuckold, I should be less grieved if it were to
your advantage. But by my faith I should die of grief, for my life is
bound up in my good, young, virtuous wife.”

Saying which, he turned away his head, in order that Lavalliere should
not perceive the tears in his eyes; but the fine courtier saw this
flow of water, and taking the hand of Maille--

“Brother,” said he to him, “I swear to thee on my honour as a man,
that before anyone lays a finger on thy wife, he shall have felt my
dagger in the depth of his veins! And unless I should die, thou shalt
find her on thy return, intact in body if not in heart, because
thought is beyond the control of gentlemen.”

“It is then decreed above,” exclaimed Maille, “that I shall always be
thy servant and thy debtor!”

Thereupon the comrade departed, in order not to be inundated with the
tears, exclamations, and other expressions of grief which ladies make
use of when saying “Farewell.” Lavalliere having conducted him to the
gate of the town, came back to the hotel, waited until Marie
d’Annebaut was out of bed, informed her of the departure of her good
husband, and offered to place himself at her orders, in such a
graceful manner, that the most virtuous woman would have been tickled
with a desire to keep such a knight to herself. But there was no need
of this fine paternoster to indoctrinate the lady, seeing that she had
listened to the discourse of the two friends, and was greatly offended
at her husband’s doubt. Alas! God alone is perfect! In all the ideas
of men there is always a bad side, and it is therefore a great science
in life, but an impossible science, to take hold of everything, even a
stick by the right end. The cause of the great difficulty there is in
pleasing the ladies is, that there is it in them a thing which is more
woman than they are, and but for the respect which is due to them, I
would use another word. Now we should never awaken the phantasy of
this malevolent thing. The perfect government of woman is a task to
rend a man’s heart, and we are compelled to remain in perfect
submission to them; that is, I imagine, the best manner in which to
solve the most agonising enigma of marriage.

Now Marie d’Annebaut was delighted with the bearing and offers of this
gallant; but there was something in her smile which indicated a
malicious idea, and, to speak plainly, the intention of putting her
young guardian between honour and pleasure; to regale him so with
love, to surround him with so many little attentions, to pursue him
with such warm glances, that he would be faithless to friendship, to
the advantage of gallantry.

Everything was in perfect trim for the carrying out of her design,
because of the companionship which the Sire de Lavalliere would be
obliged to have with her during his stay in the hotel, and as there is
nothing in the world can turn a woman from her whim, at every turn the
artful jade was ready to catch him in a trap.

At times she would make him remain seated near her by the fire, until
twelve o’clock at night, singing soft refrains, and at every
opportunity showed her fair shoulders, and the white temptations of
which her corset was full, and casting upon him a thousand piercing
glances, all without showing in her face the thoughts that surged in
her brain.

At times she would walk with him in the morning, in the gardens of the
hotel, leaning heavily upon his arm, pressing it, sighing, and making
him tie the laces of her little shoes, which were always coming undone
in that particular place. Then it would be those soft words and things
which the ladies understand so well, little attentions paid to a
guest, such as coming in to see if he were comfortable, if his bed
were well made, the room clean, if the ventilation were good, if he
felt any draughts in the night, if the sun came in during the day, and
asking him to forgo none of his usual fancies and habits, saying--

“Are you accustomed to take anything in the morning in bed, such as
honey, milk, or spice? Do the meal times suit you? I will conform mine
to yours: tell me. You are afraid to ask me. Come--”

She accompanied these coddling little attentions with a hundred
affected speeches; for instance, on coming into the room she would
say--

“I am intruding, send me away. You want to be left alone--I will go.”
 And always was she graciously invited to remain.

And the cunning Madame always came lightly attired, showing samples of
her beauty, which would have made a patriarch neigh, even were he as
much battered by time as must have been Mr. Methusaleh, with his nine
hundred and sixty years.

That good knight being as sharp as a needle, let the lady go on with
her tricks, much pleased to see her occupy herself with him, since it
was so much gained; but like a loyal brother, he always called her
absent husband to the lady’s mind.

Now one evening--the day had been very warm--Lavalliere suspecting the
lady’s games, told her that Maille loved her dearly, that she had in
him a man of honour, a gentleman who doted on her, and was ticklish on
the score of his crown.

“Why then, if he is so ticklish in this manner, has he placed you
here?”

“Was it not a most prudent thing?” replied he. “Was it not necessary
to confide you to some defender of your virtue? Not that it needs one
save to protect you from wicked men.”

“Then you are my guardian?” said she.

“I am proud of it!” exclaimed Lavalliere.

“Ah!” said she, “he has made a very bad choice.”

This remark was accompanied by a little look, so lewdly lascivious
that the good brother-in-arms put on, by way of reproach, a severe
countenance, and left the fair lady alone, much piqued at this refusal
to commence love’s conflict.

She remained in deep meditation, and began to search for the real
obstacle that she had encountered, for it was impossible that it
should enter the mind of any lady, that a gentleman could despise that
bagatelle which is of such great price and so high value. Now these
thoughts knitted and joined together so well, one fitting into the
other, that out of little pieces she constructed a perfect whole, and
found herself desperately in love; which should teach the ladies never
to play with a man’s weapons, seeing that like glue, they always stick
to the fingers.

By this means Marie d’Annebaut came to a conclusion which she should
have known at the commencement--viz., that to keep clear of her
snares, the good knight must be smitten with some other lady, and
looking round her, to see where her young guest could have found a
needle-case to his taste, she thought of the fair Limeuil, one of
Queen Catherine’s maids, of Mesdames de Nevers, d’Estree, and de Giac,
all of whom were declared friends of Lavalliere, and of the lot he
must love one to distraction.

From this belief, she added the motive of jealousy to the others which
tempted her to seduce her Argus, whom she did not wish to wound, but
to perfume, kiss his head, and treat kindly.

She was certainly more beautiful, young, and more appetising and
gentle than her rivals; at least, that was the melodious decree of her
imaginations. So, urged on by the chords and springs of conscience,
and physical causes which affect women, she returned to the charge, to
commence a fresh assault upon the heart of the chevalier, for the
ladies like that which is well fortified.

Then she played the pussy-cat, and nestled up close to him, became so
sweetly sociable, and wheedled so gently, that one evening when she
was in a desponding state, although merry enough in her inmost soul,
the guardian-brother asked her--

“What is the matter with you?”

To which she replied to him dreamily, being listened to by him as the
sweetest music--

That she had married Maille against her heart’s will, and that she was
very unhappy; that she knew not the sweets of love; that her husband
did not understand her, and that her life was full of tears. In fact,
that she was a maiden in heart and all, since she confessed in
marriage she had experienced nothing but the reverse of pleasure. And
she added, that surely this holy state should be full of sweetmeats
and dainties of love, because all the ladies hurried into it, and
hated and were jealous of those who out-bid them, for it cost certain
people pretty dear; that she was so curious about it that for one good
day or night of love, she would give her life, and always be obedient
to her lover without a murmur; but that he with whom she would sooner
than all others try the experiment would not listen to her; that,
nevertheless, the secret of their love might be kept eternally, so
great was her husband’s confidence in him, and that finally if he
still refused it would kill her.

And all these paraphrases of the common canticle known to the ladies
at their birth were ejaculated between a thousand pauses, interrupted
with sighs torn from the heart, ornamented with quiverings, appeals to
heaven, upturned eyes, sudden blushings and clutchings at her hair. In
fact, no ingredient of temptation was lacking in the dish, and at the
bottom of all these words there was a nipping desire which embellished
even its blemishes. The good knight fell at the lady’s feet, and
weeping took them and kissed them, and you may be sure the good woman
was quite delighted to let him kiss them, and even without looking too
carefully to see what she was going to do, she abandoned her dress to
him, knowing well that to keep it from sweeping the ground it must be
taken at the bottom to raise it; but it was written that for that
evening she should be good, for the handsome Lavalliere said to her
with despair--

“Ah, madame, I am an unfortunate man and a wretch.”

“Not at all,” said she.

“Alas, the joy of loving you is denied to me.”

“How?” said she.

“I dare not confess my situation to you!”

“Is it then very bad?”

“Ah, you will be ashamed of me!”

“Speak, I will hide my face in my hands,” and the cunning madame hid
her face is such a way that she could look at her well-beloved between
her fingers.

“Alas!” said he, “the other evening when you addressed me in such
gracious words, I was so treacherously inflamed, that not knowing my
happiness to be so near, and not daring to confess my flame to you, I
ran to a Bordel where all the gentleman go, and there for love of you,
and to save the honour of my brother whose head I should blush to
dishonour, I was so badly infected that I am in great danger of dying
of the Italian sickness.”

The lady, seized with terror, gave vent to the cry of a woman in
labour, and with great emotion, repulsed him with a gentle little
gesture. Poor Lavalliere, finding himself in so pitiable state, went
out of the room, but he had not even reached the tapestries of the
door, when Marie d’Annebaut again contemplated him, saying to herself,
“Ah! what a pity!” Then she fell into a state of great melancholy,
pitying in herself the gentleman, and became the more in love with him
because he was fruit three times forbidden.

“But for Maille,” said she to him, one evening that she thought him
handsomer than unusual, “I would willingly take your disease. Together
we should then have the same terrors.”

“I love you too well,” said the brother, “not to be good.”

And he left her to go to his beautiful Limeuil. You can imagine that
being unable to refuse to receive the burning glances of the lady,
during meal times, and the evenings, there was a fire nourished that
warmed them both, but she was compelled to live without touching her
cavalier, otherwise than with her eyes. Thus occupied, Marie
d’Annebaut was fortified at every point against the gallants of the
Court, for there are no bounds so impassable as those of love, and no
better guardian; it is like the devil, he whom it has in its clutches
it surrounds with flames. One evening, Lavalliere having escorted his
friend’s wife to a dance given by Queen Catherine, he danced with the
fair Limeuil, with whom he was madly in love. At that time the knights
carried on their amours bravely two by two, and even in troops. Now
all the ladies were jealous of La Limeuil, who at that time was
thinking of yielding to the handsome Lavalliere. Before taking their
places in the quadrille, she had given him the sweetest of
assignations for the morrow, during the hunt. Our great Queen
Catherine, who from political motives fermented these loves and
stirred them up, like pastrycooks make the oven fires burn by poking,
glanced at all the pretty couples interwoven in the quadrille, and
said to her husband--

“When they combat here, can they conspire against you, eh?”

“Ah! but the Protestants?”

“Bah! have them here as well,” said she, laughing. “Why, look at
Lavalliere, who is suspected to be a Huguenot; he is converted by my
dear little Limeuil, who does not play her cards badly for a young
lady of sixteen. He will soon have her name down in his list.”

“Ah, Madame! do not believe it,” said Marie d’Annebaut, “he is ruined
through that same sickness of Naples which made you queen.”

At this artless confession, Catherine, the fair Diana, and the king,
who were sitting together, burst out laughing, and the thing ran round
the room. This brought endless shame and mockery upon Lavalliere. The
poor gentleman, pointed at by everyone, soon wished somebody else in
his shoes, for La Limeuil, who his rivals had not been slow laughingly
to warn of her danger, appeared to shrink from her lover, so rapid was
the spread, and so violent the apprehensions of this nasty disease.
Thus Lavalliere found himself abandoned by everyone like a leper. The
king made an offensive remark, and the good knight quitted the
ball-room, followed by poor Marie in despair at the speech. She had in
every way ruined the man she loved: she had destroyed his honour, and
marred his life, since the physicians and master surgeons advance as a
fact, incapable of contradiction, that persons Italianised by this
love sickness, lost through it their greatest attractions, as well as
their generative powers, and their bones went black.

Thus no woman would bind herself in legitimate marriage with the
finest gentlemen in the kingdom if he were only suspected of being one
of those whom Master Frances Rabelais named “his very precious scabby
ones. . . . .”

As the handsome knight was very silent and melancholy, his companion
said to him on the road home from Hercules House, where the fete had
been held--

“My dear lord, I have done you a great mischief.”

“Ah, madame!” replied Lavalliere, “my hurt is curable; but into what a
predicament have you fallen? You should not have been aware of the
danger of my love.”

“Ah!” said she, “I am sure now always to have you to myself; in
exchange for this great obloquy and dishonour, I will be forever your
friend, your hostess, and your lady-love--more than that, your
servant. My determination is to devote myself to you and efface the
traces of this shame; to cure you by a watch and ward; and if the
learned in these matters declare that the disease has such a hold of
you that it will kill you like our defunct sovereign, I must still
have your company in order to die gloriously in dying of your
complaint. Even then,” said she, weeping, “that will not be penance
enough to atone for the wrong I have done you.”

These words were accompanied with big tears; her virtuous heart waxed
faint, she fell to the ground exhausted. Lavalliere, terrified, caught
her and placed his hand upon her heart, below a breast of matchless
beauty. The lady revived at the warmth of this beloved hand,
experiencing such exquisite delights as nearly to make her again
unconscious.

“Alas!” said she, “this sly and superficial caress will be for the
future the only pleasure of our love. It will still be a hundred times
better than the joys which poor Maille fancies he is bestowing on me.
. . . Leave your hand there,” said she; “verily it is upon my soul,
and touches it.”

At these words the knight was in a pitiful plight, and innocently
confessed to the Lady that he experienced so much pleasure at this
touch that the pains of his malady increased, and that death was
preferable to this martyrdom.

“Let us die then,” said she.

But the litter was in the courtyard of the hotel, and as the means of
death was not handy, each one slept far from the other, heavily
weighed down with love, Lavalliere having lost his fair Limeuil, and
Marie d’Annebaut having gained pleasures without parallel.

From this affair, which was quite unforeseen, Lavalliere found himself
under the ban of love and marriage and dared no longer appear in
public, and he found how much it costs to guard the virtue of a woman;
but the more honour and virtue he displayed the more pleasure did he
experience in these great sacrifices offered at the shrine of
brotherhood. Nevertheless, his duty was very bitter, very ticklish,
and intolerable to perform, towards the last days of his guard. And in
this way.

The confession of her love, which she believed was returned, the wrong
done by her to her cavalier, and the experience of an unknown
pleasure, emboldened the fair Marie, who fell into a platonic love,
gently tempered with those little indulgences in which there is no
danger. From this cause sprang the diabolical pleasures of the game
invented by the ladies, who since the death of Francis the First
feared the contagion, but wished to gratify their lovers. To these
cruel delights, in order to properly play his part, Lavalliere could
not refuse his sanction. Thus every evening the mournful Marie would
attach her guest to her petticoats, holding his hand, kissing him with
burning glances, her cheek placed gently against his, and during this
virtuous embrace, in which the knight was held like the devil by a
holy water brush, she told him of her great love, which was boundless
since it stretched through the infinite spaces of unsatisfied desire.
All the fire with which the ladies endow their substantial amours,
when the night has no other lights than their eyes, she transferred
into the mystic motions of her head, the exultations of her soul, and
the ecstasies of her heart. Then, naturally, and with the delicious
joy of two angels united by thought alone, they intoned together those
sweet litanies repeated by the lovers of the period in honour of
love--anthems which the abbot of Theleme has paragraphically saved
from oblivion by engraving them on the walls of his Abbey, situated,
according to master Alcofribas, in our land of Chinon, where I have
seen them in Latin, and have translated them for the benefit of
Christians.

“Alas!” said Marie d’Annebaut, “thou art my strength and my life, my
joy and my treasure.”

“And you,” replied he “you are a pearl, an angel.”

“Thou art my seraphim.”

“You my soul.”

“Thou my God.”

“You my evening star and morning star, my honour, my beauty, my
universe.”

“Thou my great my divine master.”

“You my glory, my faith, my religion.”

“Thou my gentle one, my handsome one, my courageous one, my dear one,
my cavalier, my defender, my king, my love.”

“You my fairy, the flower of my days, the dream of my nights.”

“Thou my thought at every moment.”

“You the delights of my eyes.”

“Thou the voice of my soul.”

“You my light by day.”

“Thou my glimmer in the night.”

“You the best beloved among women.”

“Thou the most adored of men.”

“You my blood, a myself better than myself.”

“Thou art my heart, my lustre.”

“You my saint, my only joy.”

“I yield thee the palm of love, and how great so’er mine be, I believe
thou lovest me still more, for thou art the lord.”

“No; the palm is yours, my goddess, my Virgin Marie.”

“No; I am thy servant, thine handmaiden, a nothing thou canst crush to
atoms.”

“No, no! it is I who am your slave, your faithful page, whom you see
as a breath of air, upon whom you can walk as on a carpet. My heart is
your throne.”

“No, dearest, for thy voice transfigures me.”

“Your regard burns me.”

“I see but thee.”

“I love but you.”

“Oh! put thine hand upon my heart--only thine hand--and thou will see
me pale, when my blood shall have taken the heat of thine.”

Then during these struggles their eyes, already ardent, flamed still
more brightly, and the good knight was a little the accomplice of the
pleasure which Marie d’Annebaut took in feeling his hand upon her
heart. Now, as in this light embrace all their strength was put forth,
all their desires strained, all their ideas of the thing concentrated,
it happened that the knight’s transport reached a climax. Their eyes
wept warm tears, they seized each other hard and fast as fire seizes
houses; but that was all. Lavalliere had promised to return safe and
sound to his friend the body only, not the heart.

When Maille announced his return, it was quite time, since no virtue
could avoid melting upon this gridiron; and the less licence the
lovers had, the more pleasure they had in their fantasies.

Leaving Marie d’Annebaut, the good companion in arms went as far as
Bondy to meet his friend, to help him to pass through the forest
without accident, and the two brothers slept together, according to
the ancient custom, in the village of Bondy.

There, in their bed, they recounted to each other, one of the
adventures of his journey, the other the gossip of the camp, stories
of gallantry, and the rest. But Maille’s first question was touching
Marie d’Annebaut, whom Lavalliere swore to be intact in that precious
place where the honour of husbands is lodged; at which the amorous
Maille was highly delighted.

On the morrow, they were all three re-united, to the great disgust of
Marie, who, with the high jurisprudence of women, made a great fuss
with her good husband, but with her finger she indicated her heart in
an artless manner to Lavalliere, as one who said, “This is thine!”

At supper Lavalliere announced his departure for the wars. Maille was
much grieved at this resolution, and wished to accompany his brother;
that Lavalliere refused him point blank.

“Madame,” said he to Marie d’Annebaut, “I love you more than life, but
not more than honour.”

He turned pale saying this, and Madame de Maille blanched hearing him,
because never in their amorous dalliance had there been so much true
love as in this speech. Maille insisted on keeping his friend company
as far as Meaux. When he came back he was talking over with his wife
the unknown reasons and secret causes of this departure, when Marie,
who suspected the grief of poor Lavalliere said, “I know: he is
ashamed to stop here because he has the Neapolitan sickness.”

“He!” said Maille, quite astonished. “I saw him when we were in bed
together at Bondy the other evening, and yesterday at Meaux. There’s
nothing the matter with him; he is as sound as a bell.”

The lady burst into tears, admiring this great loyalty, the sublime
resignation to his oath, and the extreme sufferings of this internal
passion. But as she still kept her love in the recesses of her heart,
she died when Lavalliere fell before Metz, as has been elsewhere
related by Messire Bourdeilles de Brantome in his tittle-tattle.



                    THE VICAR OF AZAY-LE-RIDEAU

In those days the priests no longer took any woman in legitimate
marriage, but kept good mistresses as pretty as they could get; which
custom has since been interdicted by the council, as everyone knows,
because, indeed, it was not pleasant that the private confessions of
people should be retold to a wench who would laugh at them, besides
the other secret doctrines, ecclesiastical arrangements, and
speculations which are part and parcel of the politics of the Church
of Rome. The last priest in our country who theologically kept a woman
in his parsonage, regaling her with his scholastic love, was a certain
vicar of Azay-le-Ridel, a place later on most aptly named as
Azay-le-Brule, and now Azay-le-Rideau, whose castle is one of the
marvels of Touraine. Now this said period, when the women were not
averse to the odour of the priesthood, is not so far distant as some
may think, Monsieur D’Orgemont, son of the preceding bishop, still
held the see of Paris, and the great quarrels of the Armagnacs had not
finished. To tell the truth, this vicar did well to have his vicarage
in that age, since he was well shapen, of a high colour, stout, big,
strong, eating and drinking like a convalescent, and indeed, was
always rising from a little malady that attacked him at certain times;
and, later on, he would have been his own executioner, had he
determined to observe his canonical continence. Add to this that he
was a Tourainian, id est, dark, and had in his eyes flame to light,
and water to quench all the domestic furnaces that required lighting
or quenching; and never since at Azay has been such vicar seen! A
handsome vicar was he, square-shouldered, fresh coloured, always
blessing and chuckling, preferred weddings and christenings to
funerals, a good joker, pious in Church, and a man in everything.
There have been many vicars who have drunk well and eaten well; others
who have blessed abundantly and chuckled consumedly; but all of them
together would hardly make up the sterling worth of this aforesaid
vicar; and he alone has worthily filled his post with benedictions,
has held it with joy, and in it has consoled the afflicted, all so
well, that no one saw him come out of his house without wishing to be
in his heart, so much was he beloved. It was he who first said in a
sermon that the devil was not so black as he was painted, and who for
Madame de Cande transformed partridges into fish saying that the perch
of the Indre were partridges of the river, and, on the other hand,
partridges perch in the air. He never played artful tricks under the
cloak of morality, and often said, jokingly, he would rather be in a
good bed then in anybody’s will, that he had plenty of everything, and
wanted nothing. As for the poor and suffering, never did those who
came to ask for wool at the vicarage go away shorn, for his hand was
always in his pocket, and he melted (he who in all else was so firm)
at the sight of all this misery and infirmity, and he endeavoured to
heal all their wounds. There have been many good stories told
concerning this king of vicars. It was he who caused such hearty
laughter at the wedding of the lord of Valennes, near Sacche. The
mother of the said lord had a good deal to do with the victuals, roast
meats and other delicacies, of which there was sufficient quantity to
feed a small town at least, and it is true, at the same time, that
people came to the wedding from Montbazon, from Tours, from Chinon,
from Langeais, and from everywhere, and stopped eight days.

Now the good vicar, as he was going into the room where the company
were enjoying themselves, met the little kitchen boy, who wished to
inform Madame that all the elementary substances and fat rudiments,
syrups, and sauces, were in readiness for a pudding of great delicacy,
the secret compilation, mixing, and manipulation of which she wished
herself to superintend, intending it as a special treat for her
daughter-in-law’s relations. Our vicar gave the boy a tap on the
cheek, telling him that he was too greasy and dirty to show himself to
people of high rank, and that he himself would deliver the said
message. The merry fellow pushes open the door, shapes the fingers of
his left hand into the form of a sheath, and moves gently therein the
middle finger of his right, at the same time looking at the lady of
Valennes, and saying to her, “Come, all is ready.” Those who did not
understand the affair burst out laughing to see Madame get up and go
to the vicar, because she knew he referred to the pudding, and not to
that which the others imagined.

But a true story is that concerning the manner in which this worthy
pastor lost his mistress, to whom the ecclesiastical authorities
allowed no successor; but, as for that, the vicar did not want for
domestic utensils. In the parish everyone thought it an honour to lend
him theirs, the more readily because he was not the man to spoil
anything, and was careful to clean them out thoroughly, the dear man.
But here are the facts. One evening the good man came home to supper
with a melancholy face, because he had just put into the ground a good
farmer, whose death came about in a strange manner, and is still
frequently talked about in Azay. Seeing that he only ate with the end
of his teeth, and turned up his nose at a dish of tripe, which had
been cooked in his own special manner, his good woman said to him--

“Have you passed before the Lombard (see _Master Cornelius, passim_), met
two black crows, or seen the dead man turn in his grave, that you are
so upset?”

“Oh! Oh!”

“Has anyone deceived you?”

“Ha! Ha!”

“Come, tell me!”

“My dear, I am still quite overcome at the death of poor Cochegrue,
and there is not at the present moment a good housewife’s tongue or a
virtuous cuckold’s lips that are not talking about it.”

“And what was it?”

“Listen! This poor Cochegrue was returning from market, having sold
his corn and two fat pigs. He was riding his pretty mare, who, near
Azay, commenced to caper about without the slightest cause, and poor
Cochegrue trotted and ambled along counting his profits. At the corner
of the old road of the Landes de Charlemagne, they came upon a
stallion kept by the Sieur de la Carte, in a field, in order to have a
good breed of horses, because the said animal was fleet of foot, as
handsome as an abbot, and so high and mighty that the admiral who came
to see it, said it was a beast of the first quality. This cursed horse
scented the pretty mare; like a cunning beast, neither neighed nor
gave vent to any equine ejaculation, but when she was close to the
road, leaped over forty rows of vines and galloped after her, pawing
the ground with his iron shoes, discharging the artillery of a lover
who longs for an embrace, giving forth sounds to set the strongest
teeth on edge, and so loudly, that the people of Champy heard it and
were much terrified thereat.

“Cochegrue, suspecting the affair, makes for the moors, spurs his
amorous mare, relying upon her rapid pace, and indeed, the good mare
understands, obeys, and flies--flies like a bird, but a bowshot off
follows the blessed horse, thundering along the road like a blacksmith
beating iron, and at full speed, his mane flying in the wind, replying
to the sound of the mare’s swift gallop with his terrible pat-a-pan!
pat-a-pan! Then the good farmer, feeling death following him in the
love of the beast, spurs anew his mare, and harder still she gallops,
until at last, pale and half dead with fear, he reaches the outer yard
of his farmhouse, but finding the door of the stable shut he cries,
‘Help here! Wife!’ Then he turned round on his mare, thinking to avoid
the cursed beast whose love was burning, who was wild with passion,
and growing more amorous every moment, to the great danger of the
mare. His family, horrified at the danger, did not go to open the
stable door, fearing the strange embrace and the kicks of the
iron-shod lover. At last, Cochegrue’s wife went, but just as the good
mare was half way through the door, the cursed stallion seized her,
squeezed her, gave her a wild greeting, with his two legs gripped her,
pinched her and held her tight, and at the same time so kneaded and
knocked about Cochegrue that there was only found of him a shapeless
mass, crushed like a nut after the oil has been distilled from it. It
was shocking to see him squashed alive and mingling his cries with the
loud love-sighs of the horse.”

“Oh! the mare!” exclaimed the vicar’s good wench.

“What!” said the priest astonished.

“Certainly. You men wouldn’t have cracked a plumstone for us.”

“There,” answered the vicar, “you wrong me.” The good man threw her so
angrily upon the bed, attacked and treated her so violently that she
split into pieces, and died immediately without either surgeons or
physicians being able to determine the manner in which the solution of
continuity was arrived at, so violently disjointed were the hinges and
mesial partitions. You can imagine that he was a proud man, and a
splendid vicar as has been previously stated.

The good people of the country, even the women, agreed that he was not
to blame, but that his conduct was warranted by the circumstances.

From this, perhaps, came the proverb so much in use at that time, Que
l’aze le saille! The which proverb is really so much coarser in its
actual wording, that out of respect for the ladies I will not mention
it. But this was not the only clever thing that this great and noble
vicar achieved, for before this misfortune he did such a stroke of
business that no robbers dare ask him how many angels he had in his
pocket, even had they been twenty strong and over to attack him. One
evening when his good woman was still with him, after supper, during
which he had enjoyed his goose, his wench, his wine, and everything,
and was reclining in his chair thinking where he could build a new
barn for the tithes, a message came for him from the lord of Sacche,
who was giving up the ghost and wished to reconcile himself with God,
receive the sacrament, and go through the usual ceremonies. “He is a
good man and loyal lord. I will go.” said he. Thereupon he passed into
the church, took the silver box where the blessed bread is, rang the
little bell himself in order not to wake the clerk, and went lightly
and willingly along the roads. Near the Gue-droit, which is a valley
leading to the Indre across the moors, our good vicar perceived a high
toby. And what is a high toby? It is a clerk of St. Nicholas. Well,
what is that? That means a person who sees clearly on a dark night,
instructs himself by examining and turning over purses, and takes his
degrees on the high road. Do you understand now? Well then, the high
toby waited for the silver box, which he knew to be of great value.

“Oh! oh!” said the priest, putting down the sacred vase on a stone at
the corner of the bridge, “stop thou there without moving.”

Then he walked up to the robber, tipped him up, seized his loaded
stick, and when the rascal got up to struggle with him, he gutted him
with a blow well planted in the middle of his stomach. Then he picked
up the viaticum again, saying bravely to it: “Ah! If I had relied upon
thy providence, we should have been lost.” Now to utter these impious
words on the road to Sacche was mere waste of breath, seeing that he
addressed them not to God, but to the Archbishop of Tours, who have
once severely rebuked him, threatened him with suspension, and
admonished him before the Chapter for having publicly told certain
lazy people that a good harvest was not due to the grace of God, but
to skilled labour and hard work--a doctrine which smelt of the fagot.
And indeed he was wrong, because the fruits of the earth have need
both of one and the other; but he died in this heresy, for he could
never understand how crops could come without digging, if God so
willed it--a doctrine that learned men have since proved to be true,
by showing that formerly wheat grew very well without the aid of man.
I cannot leave this splendid model of a pastor without giving here one
of the acts of his life, which proves with what fervour he imitated
the saints in the division of their goods and mantles, which they gave
formerly to the poor and the passers-by. One day, returning from
Tours, where he had been paying his respects to the official, mounted
on his mule, he was nearing Azay. On the way, just out side Ballan, he
met a pretty girl on foot, and was grieved to see a woman travelling
like a dog; the more so as she was visibly fatigued, and could
scarcely raise one foot before the other. He whistled to her softly,
and the pretty wench turned round and stopped. The good priest, who
was too good a sportsman to frighten the birds, especially the hooded
ones, begged her so gently to ride behind him on his mule, and in so
polite a fashion, that the lass got up; not without making those
little excuses and grimaces that they all make when one invites them
to eat, or to take what they like. The sheep paired off with the
shepherd, the mule jogged along after the fashion of mules, while the
girl slipped now this way now that, riding so uncomfortably that the
priest pointed out to her, after leaving Ballan, that she had better
hold on to him; and immediately my lady put her plump arms around the
waist of her cavalier, in a modest and timorous manner.

“There, you don’t slip about now. Are you comfortable?” said the
vicar.

“Yes, I am comfortable. Are you?”

“I?” said the priest, “I am better than that.”

And, in fact, he was quite at his ease, and was soon gently warmed in
the back by two projections which rubbed against it, and at last
seemed as though they wished to imprint themselves between his
shoulder blades, which would have been a pity, as that was not the
place for this white merchandise. By degrees the movement of mule
brought into conjunction the internal warmth of these two good riders,
and their blood coursed more quickly through their veins, seeing that
it felt the motion of the mule as well as their own; and thus the good
wench and the vicar finished by knowing each other’s thoughts, but not
those of the mule. When they were both acclimatised, he with her and
she with him, they felt an internal disturbance which resolved itself
into secret desires.

“Ah!” said the vicar, turning round to his companion, “here is a fine
cluster of trees which has grown very thick.”

“It is too near the road,” replied the girl. “Bad boys have cut the
branches, and the cows have eaten the young leaves.”

“Are you not married?” asked the vicar, trotting his animal again.

“No,” said she.

“Not at all?”

“I’faith! No!”

“What a shame, at your age!”

“You are right, sir; but you see, a poor girl who has had a child is a
bad bargain.”

Then the good vicar taking pity on such ignorance, and knowing that
the canons say among other things that pastors should indoctrinate
their flock and show them the duties and responsibilities of this
life, he thought he would only be discharging the functions of his
office by showing her the burden she would have one day to bear. Then
he begged her gently not be afraid, for if she would have faith in his
loyalty no one should ever know of the marital experiment which he
proposed then and there to perform with her; and as, since passing
Ballan the girl had thought of nothing else; as her desire had been
carefully sustained, and augmented by the warm movements of the
animal, she replied harshly to the vicar, “if you talk thus I will get
down.” Then the good vicar continued his gentle requests so well that
on reaching the wood of Azay the girl wished to get down, and the
priest got down there too, for it was not across a horse that this
discussion could be finished. Then the virtuous maiden ran into the
thickest part of the wood to get away from the vicar, calling out,
“Oh, you wicked man, you shan’t know where I am.”

The mule arrived in a glade where the grass was good, the girl tumbled
down over a root and blushed. The good vicar came to her, and there as
he had rung the bell for mass he went through the service for her, and
both freely discounted the joys of paradise. The good priest had it in
his heart to thoroughly instruct her, and found his pupil very docile,
as gentle in mind as soft in the flesh, a perfect jewel. Therefore was
he much aggrieved at having so much abridged the lessons by giving it
at Azay, seeing that he would have been quite willing to recommence
it, like all of precentors who say the same thing over and over again
to their pupils.

“Ah! little one,” cried the good man, “why did you make so much fuss
that we only came to an understanding close to Azay?”

“Ah!” said she, “I belong to Bellan.”

To be brief, I must tell you that when this good man died in his
vicarage there was a great number of people, children and others, who
came, sorrowful, afflicted, weeping, and grieved, and all exclaimed,
“Ah! we have lost our father.” And the girls, the widows, the wives
and little girls looked at each other, regretting him more than a
friend, and said, “He was more than a priest, he was a man!” Of these
vicars the seed is cast to the winds, and they will never be
reproduced in spite of the seminaries.

Why, even the poor, to whom his savings were left, found themselves
still the losers, and an old cripple whom he had succoured hobbled
into the churchyard, crying “I don’t die! I don’t!” meaning to say,
“Why did not death take me in his place?” This made some of the people
laugh, at which the shade of the good vicar would certainly not have
been displeased.



                            THE REPROACH

The fair laundress of Portillon-les-Tours, of whom a droll saying has
already been given in this book, was a girl blessed with as much
cunning as if she had stolen that of six priests and three women at
least. She did not want for sweethearts, and had so many that one
would have compared them, seeing them around her, to bees swarming of
an evening towards their hive. An old silk dyer, who lived in the Rue
St. Montfumier, and there possessed a house of scandalous
magnificence, coming from his place at La Grenadiere, situated on the
fair borders of St. Cyr, passed on horseback through Portillon in
order to gain the Bridge of Tours. By reason of the warmth of the
evening, he was seized with a wild desire on seeing the pretty
washerwoman sitting upon her door-step. Now as for a very long time he
had dreamed of this pretty maid, his resolution was taken to make her
his wife, and in a short time she was transformed from a washerwoman
into a dyer’s wife, a good townswoman, with laces, fine linen, and
furniture to spare, and was happy in spite of the dyer, seeing that
she knew very well how to manage him. The good dyer had for a crony a
silk machinery manufacturer who was small in stature, deformed for
life, and full of wickedness. So on the wedding-day he said to the
dyer, “You have done well to marry, my friend, we shall have a pretty
wife!”; and a thousand sly jokes, such as it is usual to address to a
bridegroom.

In fact, this hunchback courted the dyer’s wife, who from her nature,
caring little for badly built people, laughed to scorn the request of
the mechanician, and joked him about the springs, engines, and spools
of which his shop was full. However, this great love of the hunchback
was rebuffed by nothing, and became so irksome to the dyer’s wife that
she resolved to cure it by a thousand practical jokes. One evening,
after the sempiternal pursuit, she told her lover to come to the back
door and towards midnight she would open everything to him. Now note,
this was on a winter’s night; the Rue St. Montfumier is close to the
Loire, and in this corner there continually blow in winter, winds
sharp as a hundred needle-points. The good hunchback, well muffled up
in his mantle, failed not to come, and trotted up and down to keep
himself warm while waiting for the appointed hour. Towards midnight he
was half frozen, as fidgety as thirty-two devils caught in a stole,
and was about to give up his happiness, when a feeble light passed by
the cracks of the window and came down towards the little door.

“Ah, it is she!” said he.

And this hope warned him once more. Then he got close to the door, and
heard a little voice--

“Are you there?” said the dyer’s wife to him.

“Yes.”

“Cough, that I may see.”

The hunchback began to cough.

“It is not you.”

Then the hunchback said aloud--

“How do you mean, it is not I? Do you not recognise my voice? Open the
door!”

“Who’s there?” said the dyer, opening the window.

“There, you have awakened my husband, who returned from Amboise
unexpectedly this evening.”

Thereupon the dyer, seeing by the light of the moon a man at the door,
threw a big pot of cold water over him, and cried out, “Thieves!
thieves!” in such a manner that the hunchback was forced to run away;
but in his fear he failed to clear the chain stretched across the
bottom of the road and fell into the common sewer, which the sheriff
had not then replaced by a sluice to discharge the mud into the Loire.
In this bath the mechanician expected every moment to breathe his
last, and cursed the fair Tascherette, for her husband’s name being
Taschereau, she was so called by way of a little joke by the people of
Tours.

Carandas--for so was named the manufacturer of machines to weave, to
spin, to spool, and to wind the silk--was not sufficiently smitten to
believe in the innocence of the dyer’s wife, and swore a devilish hate
against her. But some days afterwards, when he had recovered from his
wetting in the dyer’s drain he came up to sup with his old comrade.
Then the dyer’s wife reasoned with him so well, flavoured her words
with so much honey, and wheedled him with so many fair promises, that
he dismissed his suspicions.

He asked for a fresh assignation, and the fair Tascherette with the
face of a woman whose mind is dwelling on a subject, said to him,
“Come tomorrow evening; my husband will be staying some days at
Chinonceaux. The queen wishes to have some of her old dresses dyed and
would settle the colours with him. It will take some time.”

Carandas put on his best clothes, failed not to keep the appointment,
appeared at the time fixed, and found a good supper prepared,
lampreys, wine of Vouvray, fine white napkins--for it was not
necessary to remonstrate with the dyer’s wife on the colour of her
linen--and everything so well prepared that it was quite pleasant to
him to see the dishes of fresh eels, to smell the good odour of the
meats, and to admire a thousand little nameless things about the room,
and La Tascherette fresh and appetising as an apple on a hot day. Now,
the mechanician, excited to excess by these warm preparations, was on
the point of attacking the charms of the dyer’s wife, when Master
Taschereau gave a loud knock at the street door.

“Ha!” said madame, “what has happened? Put yourself in the clothes
chest, for I have been much abused respecting you; and if my husband
finds you, he may undo you; he is so violent in his temper.”

And immediately she thrust the hunchback into the chest, and went
quickly to her good husband, whom she knew well would be back from
Chinonceaux to supper. Then the dyer was kissed warmly on both his
eyes and on both his ears and he caught his good wife to him and
bestowed upon her two hearty smacks with his lips that sounded all
over the room. Then the pair sat down to supper, talked together and
finished by going to bed; and the mechanician heard all, though
obliged to remain crumpled up, and not to cough or to make a single
movement. He was in with the linen, crushed up as close as a sardine
in a box, and had about as much air as he would have had at the bottom
of a river; but he had, to divert him, the music of love, the sighs of
the dyer, and the little jokes of La Tascherette. At last, when he
fancied his old comrade was asleep, he made an attempt to get out of
the chest.

“Who is there?” said the dyer.

“What is the matter my little one?” said his wife, lifting her nose
above the counterpane.

“I heard a scratching,” said the good man.

“We shall have rain to-morrow; it’s the cat,” replied his wife.

The good husband put his head back upon the pillow after having been
gently embraced by his spouse. “There, my dear, you are a light
sleeper. It’s no good trying to make a proper husband of you. There,
be good. Oh! oh! my little papa, your nightcap is on one side. There,
put it on the other way, for you must look pretty even when you are
asleep. There! are you all right?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sleep?” said she, giving him a kiss.

“Yes.”

In the morning the dyer’s wife came softly and let out the
mechanician, who was whiter than a ghost.

“Give me air, give me air!” said he.

And away he ran cured of his love, but with as much hate in his heart
as a pocket could hold of black wheat. The said hunchback left Tours
and went to live in the town of Bruges, where certain merchants had
sent for him to arrange the machinery for making hauberks.

During his long absence, Carandas, who had Moorish blood in his veins,
since he was descended from an ancient Saracen left half dead after
the great battle which took place between the Moors and the French in
the commune of Bellan (which is mentioned in the preceding tale), in
which place are the Landes of Charlemagne, where nothing grows because
of the cursed wretches and infidels there interred, and where the
grass disagrees even with the cows--this Carandas never rose up or lay
down in a foreign land without thinking of how he could give strength
to his desires of vengeance; and he was dreaming always of it, and
wishing nothing less than the death of the fair washerwoman of
Portillon and often would cry out “I will eat her flesh! I will cook
one of her breasts, and swallow it without sauce!” It was a tremendous
hate of good constitution--a cardinal hate--a hate of a wasp or an old
maid. It was all known hates moulded into one single hate, which
boiled itself, concocted itself, and resolved self into an elixir of
wicked and diabolical sentiments, warmed at the fire of the most
flaming furnaces of hell--it was, in fact, a master hate.

Now one fine day, the said Carandas came back into Touraine with much
wealth, that he brought from the country of Flanders, where he had
sold his mechanical secrets. He bought a splendid house in Rue St.
Montfumier, which is still to be seen, and is the astonishment of the
passers-by, because it has certain very queer round humps fashioned
upon the stones of the wall. Carandas, the hater, found many notable
changes at the house of his friend, the dyer, for the good man had two
sweet children, who, by a curious chance, presented no resemblance
either to the mother or to the father. But as it is necessary that
children bear a resemblance to someone, there are certain people who
look for the features of their ancestors, when they are
good-looking--the flatters. So it was found by the good husband that
his two boys were like one of his uncles, formerly a priest at Notre
Dame de l’Egrignolles, but according to certain jokers, these two
children were the living portraits of a good-looking shaven crown
officiating in the Church of Notre Dame la Riche, a celebrated parish
situated between Tours and Plessis. Now, believe one thing, and
inculcate it upon your minds, and when in this book you shall only
have gleaned, gathered, extracted, and learned this one principle of
truth, look upon yourself as a lucky man--namely, that a man can never
dispense with his nose, id est, that a man will always be snotty--that
is to say, he will remain a man, and thus will continue throughout all
future centuries to laugh and drink, to find himself in his shirt
without feeling either better or worse there, and will have the same
occupations. But these preparatory ideas are to better to fix in the
understanding that this two-footed soul will always accept as true
those things which flatter his passions, caress his hates, or serve
his amours: from this comes logic. So it was that, the first day the
above-mentioned Carandas saw his old comrade’s children, saw the
handsome priest, saw the beautiful wife of the dyer, saw La
Taschereau, all seated at the table, and saw to his detriment the best
piece of lamprey given with a certain air by La Tascherette to her
friend the priest, the mechanician said to himself, “My old friend is
a cuckold, his wife intrigues with the little confessor, and the
children have been begotten with his holy water. I’ll show them that
the hunchbacks have something more than other men.”

And this was true--true as it is that Tours has always had its feet in
the Loire, like a pretty girl who bathes herself and plays with the
water, making a flick-flack, by beating the waves with her fair white
hands; for the town is more smiling, merry, loving, fresh, flowery,
and fragrant than all the other towns of the world, which are not
worthy to comb her locks or to buckle her waistband. And be sure if
you go there you will find, in the centre of it, a sweet place, in
which is a delicious street where everyone promenades, where there is
always a breeze, shade, sun, rain, and love. Ha! ha! laugh away, but
go there. It is a street always new, always royal, always imperial--a
patriotic street, a street with two paths, a street open at both ends,
a wide street, a street so large that no one has ever cried, “Out of
the way!” there. A street which does not wear out, a street which
leads to the abbey of Grand-mont, and to a trench, which works very
well with the bridge, and at the end of which is a finer fair ground.
A street well paved, well built, well washed, as clean as a glass,
populous, silent at certain times, a coquette with a sweet nightcap on
its pretty blue tiles--to be short, it is the street where I was born;
it is the queen of streets, always between the earth and sky; a street
with a fountain; a street which lacks nothing to be celebrated among
streets; and, in fact, it is the real street, the only street of
Tours. If there are others, they are dark, muddy, narrow, and damp,
and all come respectfully to salute this noble street, which commands
them. Where am I? For once in this street no one cares to come out of
it, so pleasant it is. But I owed this filial homage, this descriptive
hymn sung from the heart to my natal street, at the corners of which
there are wanting only the brave figures of my good master Rabelais,
and of Monsieur Descartes, both unknown to the people of the country.
To resume: the said Carandas was, on his return from Flanders,
entertained by his comrade, and by all those by whom he was liked for
his jokes, his drollery, and quaint remarks. The good hunchback
appeared cured of his old love, embraced the children, and when he was
alone with the dyer’s wife, recalled the night in the clothes-chest,
and the night in the sewer, to her memory, saying to her, “Ha, ha!
what games you used to have with me.”

“It was your own fault,” said she, laughing. “If you had allowed
yourself by reason of your great love to be ridiculed, made a fool of,
and bantered a few more times, you might have made an impression on
me, like the others.” Thereupon Carandas commenced to laugh, though
inwardly raging all the time. Seeing the chest where he had nearly
been suffocated, his anger increased the more violently because the
sweet creature had become still more beautiful, like all those who are
permanently youthful from bathing in the water of youth, which waters
are naught less than the sources of love. The mechanician studied the
proceedings in the way of cuckoldom at his neighbour’s house, in order
to revenge himself, for as many houses as there are so many varieties
of manner are there in this business; and although all amours resemble
each other in the same manner that all men resemble each other, it is
proved to the abstractors of true things, that for the happiness of
women, each love has its especial physiognomy, and if there is nothing
that resembles a man so much as a man, there is also nothing differs
from a man so much as a man. That it is, which confuses all things, or
explains the thousand fancies of women, who seek the best men with a
thousand pains and a thousand pleasures, perhaps more the one than the
other. But how can I blame them for their essays, changes, and
contradictory aims? Why, Nature frisks and wriggles, twists and turns
about, and you expect a woman to remain still! Do you know if ice is
really cold? No. Well then, neither do you know that cuckoldom is not
a lucky chance, the produce of brains well furnished and better made
than all the others. Seek something better than ventosity beneath the
sky. This will help to spread the philosophic reputation of this
eccentric book. Oh yes; go on. He who cries “vermin powder,” is more
advanced than those who occupy themselves with Nature, seeing that she
is a proud jade and a capricious one, and only allows herself to be
seen at certain times. Do you understand? So in all languages does she
belong to the feminine gender, being a thing essentially changeable
and fruitful and fertile in tricks.

Now Carandas soon recognised the fact that among cuckoldoms the best
understood and the most discreet is ecclesiastical cuckoldom. This is
how the good dyer’s wife had laid her plans. She went always towards
her cottage at Grenadiere-les-St.-Cyr on the eve of the Sabbath,
leaving her good husband to finish his work, to count up and check his
books, and to pay his workmen; then Taschereau would join her there on
the morrow, and always found a good breakfast ready and his good wife
gay, and always brought the priest with him. The fact is, this
damnable priest crossed the Loire the night before in a small boat, in
order to keep the dyer’s wife warm, and to calm her fancies, in order
that she might sleep well during the night, a duty which young men
understand very well. Then this fine curber of phantasies got back to
his house in the morning by the time Taschereau came to invite him to
spend the day at La Grenadiere, and the cuckold always found the
priest asleep in his bed. The boatman being well paid, no one knew
anything of these goings on, for the lover journeyed the night before
after night fall, and on the Sunday in the early morning. As soon as
Carandas had verified the arrangement and constant practice of these
gallant diversions, he determined to wait for a day when the lovers
would meet, hungry one for the other, after some accidental
abstinence. This meeting took place very soon, and the curious
hunchback saw the boatman waiting below the square, at the Canal St.
Antoine, for the young priest, who was handsome, blonde, slender, and
well-shaped, like the gallant and cowardly hero of love, so celebrated
by Monsieur Ariosto. Then the mechanician went to find the old dyer,
who always loved his wife and always believed himself the only man who
had a finger in her pie.

“Ah! good evening, old friend,” said Carandas to Taschereau; and
Taschereau made him a bow.

Then the mechanician relates to him all the secret festivals of love,
vomits words of peculiar import, and pricks the dyer on all sides.

At length, seeing he was ready to kill both his wife and the priest,
Carandas said to him, “My good neighbour, I had brought back from
Flanders a poisoned sword, which will instantly kill anyone, if it
only make a scratch upon him. Now, directly you shall have merely
touched your wench and her paramour, they will die.”

“Let us go and fetch it,” said the dyer.

Then the two merchants went in great haste to the house of the
hunchback, to get the sword and rush off to the country.

“But shall we find them in flagrante delicto?” asked Taschereau.

“You will see,” said the hunchback, jeering his friend. In fact, the
cuckold had not long to wait to behold the joy of the two lovers.

The sweet wench and her well-beloved were busy trying to catch, in a
certain lake that you probably know, that little bird that sometimes
makes his nest there, and they were laughing and trying, and still
laughing.

“Ah, my darling!” said she, clasping him, as though she wished to make
an outline of him on her chest, “I love thee so much I should like to
eat thee! Nay, more than that, to have you in my skin, so that you
might never quit me.”

“I should like it too,” replied the priest, “but as you can’t have me
altogether, you must try a little bit at a time.”

It was at this moment that the husband entered, he sword unsheathed
and flourished above him. The beautiful Tascherette, who knew her
lord’s face well, saw what would be the fate of her well-beloved the
priest. But suddenly she sprang towards the good man, half naked, her
hair streaming over her, beautiful with shame, but more beautiful with
love, and cried to him, “Stay, unhappy man! Wouldst thou kill the
father of thy children?”

Thereupon the good dyer staggered by the paternal majesty of
cuckoldom, and perhaps also by the fire of his wife’s eyes, let the
sword fall upon the foot of the hunchback, who had followed him, and
thus killed him.

This teaches us not to be spiteful.



                              EPILOGUE

Here endeth the first series of these Tales, a roguish sample of the
works of that merry Muse, born ages ago, in our fair land of Touraine,
the which Muse is a good wench, and knows by heart that fine saying of
her friend Verville, written in _Le Moyen de Parvenir_: It is only
necessary to be bold to obtain favours. Alas! mad little one, get thee
to bed again, sleep; thou art panting from thy journey; perhaps thou
hast been further than the present time. Now dry thy fair naked feet,
stop thine ears, and return to love. If thou dreamest other poesy
interwoven with laughter to conclude these merry inventions, heed not
the foolish clamour and insults of those who, hearing the carol of a
joyous lark of other days, exclaim: Ah, the horrid bird!



                             VOLUME II
                        THE SECOND TEN TALES



                              CONTENTS

PROLOGUE
THE THREE CLERKS OF SAINT NICHOLAS
THE CONTINENCE OF KING FRANCIS THE FIRST
THE MERRY TATTLE OF THE NUNS OF POISSY
HOW THE CHATEAU D’AZAY CAME TO BE BUILT
THE FALSE COURTESAN
THE DANGER OF BEING TOO INNOCENT
THE DEAR NIGHT OF LOVE
THE SERMON OF THE MERRY VICAR OF MEUDON
THE SUCCUBUS
DESPAIR IN LOVE
EPILOGUE



                              PROLOGUE

Certain persons have reproached the Author for knowing no more about
the language of the olden times than hares do of telling stories.
Formerly these people would have been vilified, called cannibals,
churls, and sycophants, and Gomorrah would have been hinted at as
their natal place. But the Author consents to spare them the flowery
epithets of ancient criticism; he contents himself with wishing not to
be in their skin, for he would be disgusted with himself, and esteem
himself the vilest of scribblers thus to calumniate a poor little book
which is not in the style of any spoil-paper of these times. Ah!
ill-natured wretches! you should save your breath to cool your own
porridge! The Author consoles himself for his want of success in not
pleasing everyone by remembering that an old Tourainian, of eternal
memory, had put up with such contumely, that losing all patience, he
declared in one of his prologues, that he would never more put pen to
paper. Another age, but the same manners. Nothing changes, neither God
above nor men below. Thereupon of the Author continues his task with a
light heart, relying upon the future to reward his heavy labours.

And certes, it is a hard task to invent _A Hundred Droll Tales_, since
not only have ruffians and envious men opened fire upon him, but his
friends have imitated their example, and come to him saying “Are you
mad? Do you think it is possible? No man ever had in the depths of his
imagination a hundred such tales. Change the hyperbolic title of your
budget. You will never finish it.” These people are neither
misanthropes nor cannibals; whether they are ruffians I know not; but
for certain they are kind, good-natured friends; friends who have the
courage to tell you disagreeable things all your life along, who are
rough and sharp as currycombs, under the pretence that they are yours
to command, in all the mishaps of life, and in the hour of extreme
unction, all their worth will be known. If such people would only keep
these sad kindnesses; but they will not. When their terrors are proved
to have been idle, they exclaimed triumphantly, “Ha! ha! I knew it. I
always said so.”

In order not to discourage fine sentiments, intolerable though they
be, the Author leaves to his friends his old shoes, and in order to
make their minds easy, assures them that he has, legally protected and
exempt from seizure, seventy droll stories, in that reservoir of
nature, his brain. By the gods! they are precious yarns, well rigged
out with phrases, carefully furnished with catastrophes, amply clothed
with original humour, rich in diurnal and nocturnal effects, nor
lacking that plot which the human race has woven each minute, each
hour, each week, month, and year of the great ecclesiastical
computation, commenced at a time when the sun could scarcely see, and
the moon waited to be shown her way. These seventy subjects, which he
gives you leave to call bad subjects, full of tricks and impudence,
lust, lies, jokes, jests, and ribaldry, joined to the two portions
here given, are, by the prophet! a small instalment on the aforesaid
hundred.

Were it not a bad time for a bibliopolists, bibliomaniacs,
bibliographers, and bibliotheques which hinder bibliolatry, he would
have given them in a bumper, and not drop by drop as if he were
afflicted with dysury of the brain. He cannot possibly be suspected of
this infirmity, since he often gives good weight, putting several
stories into one, as is clearly demonstrated by several in this
volume. You may rely on it, that he has chosen for the finish, the
best and most ribald of the lot, in order that he may not be accused
of a senile discourse. Put then more likes with your dislikes, and
dislikes with your likes. Forgetting the niggardly behaviour of nature
to story-tellers, of whom there are not more than seven perfect in the
great ocean of human writers, others, although friendly, have been of
opinion that, at a time when everyone went about dressed in black, as
if in mourning for something, it was necessary to concoct works either
wearisomely serious or seriously wearisome; that a writer could only
live henceforward by enshrining his ideas in some vast edifice, and
that those who were unable to construct cathedrals and castles of
which neither stone nor cement could be moved, would die unknown, like
the Pope’s slippers. The friends were requested to declare which they
liked best, a pint of good wine, or a tun of cheap rubbish; a diamond
of twenty-two carats, or a flintstone weighing a hundred pounds; the
ring of Hans Carvel, as told by Rabelais, or a modern narrative
pitifully expectorated by a schoolboy. Seeing them dumbfounded and
abashed, it was calmly said to them, “Do you thoroughly understand,
good people? Then go your ways and mind your own businesses.”

The following, however, must be added, for the benefit of all of whom
it may concern:--The good man to whom we owe fables and stories of
sempiternal authority only used his tool on them, having taken his
material from others; but the workmanship expended on these little
figures has given them a high value; and although he was, like M.
Louis Ariosto, vituperated for thinking of idle pranks and trifles,
there is a certain insect engraved by him which has since become a
monument of perennity more assured than that of the most solidly built
works. In the especial jurisprudence of wit and wisdom the custom is
to steal more dearly a leaf wrested from the book of Nature and Truth,
than all the indifferent volumes from which, however fine they be, it
is impossible to extract either a laugh or a tear. The author has
licence to say this without any impropriety, since it is not his
intention to stand upon tiptoe in order to obtain an unnatural height,
but because it is a question of the majesty of his art, and not of
himself--a poor clerk of the court, whose business it is to have ink
in his pen, to listen to the gentleman on the bench, and take down the
sayings of each witness in this case. He is responsible for
workmanship, Nature for the rest, since from the Venus of Phidias the
Athenian, down to the little old fellow, Godenot, commonly called the
Sieur Breloque, a character carefully elaborated by one of the most
celebrated authors of the present day, everything is studied from the
eternal model of human imitations which belongs to all. At this honest
business, happy are the robbers that they are not hanged, but esteemed
and beloved. But he is a triple fool, a fool with ten horns on his
head, who struts, boasts, and is puffed up at an advantage due to the
hazard of dispositions, because glory lies only in the cultivation of
the faculties, in patience and courage.

As for the soft-voiced and pretty-mouthed ones, who have whispered
delicately in the author’s ear, complaining to him that they have
disarranged their tresses and spoiled their petticoats in certain
places, he would say to them, “Why did you go there?” To these remarks
he is compelled, through the notable slanders of certain people, to
add a notice to the well-disposed, in order that they may use it, and
end the calumnies of the aforesaid scribblers concerning him.

These droll tales are written--according to all authorities--at that
period when Queen Catherine, of the house of Medici, was hard at work;
for, during a great portion of the reign, she was always interfering
with public affairs to the advantage of our holy religion. The which
time has seized many people by the throat, from our defunct Master
Francis, first of that name, to the Assembly at Blois, where fell M.
de Guise. Now, even schoolboys who play at chuck-farthing, know that
at this period of insurrection, pacifications and disturbances, the
language of France was a little disturbed also, on account of the
inventions of the poets, who at that time, as at this, used each to
make a language for himself, besides the strange Greek, Latin,
Italian, German, and Swiss words, foreign phrases, and Spanish jargon,
introduced by foreigners, so that a poor writer has plenty of elbow
room in this Babelish language, which has since been taken in hand by
Messieurs de Balzac, Blaise Pascal, Furetiere, Menage, St. Evremonde,
de Malherbe, and others, who first cleaned out the French language,
sent foreign words to the rightabout, and gave the right of
citizenship to legitimate words used and known by everyone, but of
which the Sieur Ronsard was ashamed.

Having finished, the author returns to his lady-love, wishing every
happiness to those by whom he is beloved; to the others misfortune
according to their deserts. When the swallows fly homeward, he will
come again, not without the third and fourth volume, which he here
promises to the Pantagruelists, merry knaves, and honest wags of all
degrees, who have a wholesome horror of the sadness, sombre meditation
and melancholy of literary croakers.



                  THE THREE CLERKS OF ST. NICHOLAS

The _Inn of the Three Barbels_ was formerly at Tours, the best place
in the town for sumptuous fare; and the landlord, reputed the best of
cooks, went to prepare wedding breakfasts as far as Chatelherault,
Loches, Vendome, and Blois. This said man, an old fox, perfect in his
business, never lighted lamps in the day time, knew how to skin a
flint, charged for wool, leather, and feathers, had an eye to
everything, did not easily let anyone pay with chaff instead of coin,
and for a penny less than his account would have affronted even a
prince. For the rest, he was a good banterer, drinking and laughing
with his regular customers, hat in hand always before the persons
furnished with plenary indulgences entitled _Sit nomen Domini
benedictum_, running them into expense, and proving to them, if need
were, by sound argument, that wines were dear, and that whatever they
might think, nothing was given away in Touraine, everything had to be
bought, and, at the same time, paid for. In short, if he could without
disgrace have done so, he would have reckoned so much for the good
air, and so much for the view of the country. Thus he built up a tidy
fortune with other people’s money, became as round as a butt, larded
with fat, and was called Monsieur. At the time of the last fair three
young fellows, who were apprentices in knavery, in whom there was more
of the material that makes thieves than saints, and who knew just how
far it was possible to go without catching their necks in the branches
of trees, made up their minds to amuse themselves, and live well,
condemning certain hawkers or others in all the expenses. Now these
limbs of Satan gave the slip to their masters, under whom they had
been studying the art of parchment scrawling, and came to stay at the
hotel of the Three Barbels, where they demanded the best rooms, turned
the place inside out, turned up their noses at everything, bespoke all
the lampreys in the market, and announced themselves as first-class
merchants, who never carried their goods with them, and travelled only
with their persons. The host bustled about, turned the spits, and
prepared a glorious repast, for these three dodgers, who had already
made noise enough for a hundred crowns, and who most certainly would
not even have given up the copper coins which one of them was jingling
in his pocket. But if they were hard up for money they did not want
for ingenuity, and all three arranged to play their parts like thieves
at a fair. Theirs was a farce in which there was plenty of eating and
drinking, since for five days they so heartily attacked every kind of
provision that a party of German soldiers would have spoiled less than
they obtained by fraud. These three cunning fellows made their way to
the fair after breakfast, well primed, gorged, and big in the belly,
and did as they liked with the greenhorns and others, robbing,
filching, playing, and losing, taking down the writings and signs and
changing them, putting that of the toyman over the jeweller’s, and
that of the jeweller’s outside the shoe maker’s, turning the shops
inside out, making the dogs fight, cutting the ropes of tethered
horses, throwing cats among the crowd, crying, “Stop thief!” And
saying to every one they met, “Are you not Monsieur D’Enterfesse of
Angiers?” Then they hustled everyone, making holes in the sacks of
flour, looking for their handkerchiefs in ladies’ pockets, raising
their skirts, crying, looking for a lost jewel and saying to them--

“Ladies, it has fallen into a hole!”

They directed the little children wrongly, slapped the stomachs of
those who were gaping in the air, and prowled about, fleecing and
annoying every one. In short, the devil would have been a gentleman in
comparison with these blackguard students, who would have been hanged
rather than do an honest action; as well have expected charity from
two angry litigants. They left the fair, not fatigued, but tired of
ill-doing, and spent the remainder of their time over dinner until the
evening when they recommenced their pranks by torchlight. After the
peddlers, they commenced operations on the ladies of the town, to
whom, by a thousand dodges, they gave only that which they received,
according to the axiom of Justinian: _Cuiqum jus tribuere_. “To every
one his own juice;” and afterwards jokingly said to the poor wenches--

“We are in the right and you are in the wrong.”

At last, at supper-time, having nothing else to do, they began to
knock each other about, and to keep the game alive, complained of the
flies to the landlord, remonstrating with him that elsewhere the
innkeepers had them caught in order that gentleman of position might
not be annoyed by them. However, towards the fifth day, which is the
critical day of fevers, the host not having seen, although he kept his
eyes wide open, the royal surface of a crown, and knowing that if all
that glittered were gold it would be cheaper, began to knit his brows
and go more slowly about that which his high-class merchants required
of him. Fearing that he had made a bad bargain with them, he tried to
sound the depth of their pockets; perceiving which the three clerks
ordered him with the assurance of a Provost hanging his man, to serve
them quickly with a good supper as they had to depart immediately.
Their merry countenances dismissed the host’s suspicions. Thinking
that rogues without money would certainly look grave, he prepared a
supper worthy of a canon, wishing even to see them drunk, in order the
more easily to clap them in jail in the event of an accident. Not
knowing how to make their escape from the room, in which they were
about as much at their ease as are fish upon straw, the three
companions ate and drank immoderately, looking at the situation of the
windows, waiting the moment to decamp, but not getting the
opportunity. Cursing their luck, one of them wished to go and undo his
waistcoat, on account of a colic, the other to fetch a doctor to the
third, who did his best to faint. The cursed landlord kept dodging
about from the kitchen into the room, and from the room into the
kitchen, watching the nameless ones, and going a step forward to save
his crowns, and going a step back to save his crown, in case they
should be real gentlemen; and he acted like a brave and prudent host
who likes halfpence and objects to kicks; but under pretence of
properly attending to them, he always had an ear in the room, and a
foot in the court; fancied he was always being called by them, came
every time they laughed, showing them a face with an unsettled look
upon it, and always said, “Gentlemen, what is your pleasure?” This was
an interrogatory in reply to which they would willingly have given him
ten inches of his own spit in his stomach, because he appeared as if
he knew very well what would please them at this juncture, seeing that
to have twenty crowns, full weight, they would each of them have sold
a third of his eternity. You can imagine they sat on their seats as if
they were gridirons, that their feet itched and their posteriors were
rather warm. Already the host had put the pears, the cheese, and the
preserves near their noses, but they, sipping their liquor, and
picking at the dishes, looked at each other to see if either of them
had found a good piece of roguery in his sack, and they all began to
enjoy themselves rather woefully. The most cunning of the three
clerks, who was a Burgundian, smiled and said, seeing the hour of
payment arrived, “This must stand over for a week,” as if they had
been at the Palais de Justice. The two others, in spite of the danger,
began to laugh.

“What do we owe?” asked he who had in his belt the heretofore
mentioned twelve sols and he turned them about as though he would make
them breed little ones by this excited movement. He was a native of
Picardy, and very passionate; a man to take offence at anything in
order that he might throw the landlord out the window in all security
of conscience. Now he said these words with the air of a man of
immense wealth.

“Six crowns, gentlemen,” replied the host, holding out his hand.

“I cannot permit myself to be entertained by you alone, Viscount,”
 said the third student, who was from Anjou, and as artful as a woman
in love.

“Neither can I,” said the Burgundian.

“Gentlemen! Gentlemen!” replied the Picardian “you are jesting. I am
yours to command.”

“Sambreguoy!” cried he of Anjou. “You will not let us pay three times;
our host would not suffer it.”

“Well then,” said the Burgundian, “whichever of us shall tell the
worst tale shall justify the landlord.”

“Who will be the judge?” asked the Picardian, dropping his twelve sols
to the bottom of his pocket.

“Pardieu! our host. He should be capable, seeing that he is a man of
taste,” said he of Anjou. “Come along, great chef, sit you down,
drink, and lend us both your ears. The audience is open.”

Thereupon the host sat down, but not until he had poured out a
gobletful of wine.

“My turn first,” said the Anjou man. “I commence.”

“In our Duchy of Anjou, the country people are very faithful servants
to our Holy of Catholic religion, and none of them will lose his
portion of paradise for lack of doing penance or killing a heretic. If
a professor of heresy passed that way, he quickly found himself under
the grass, without knowing whence his death had proceeded. A good man
of Larze, returning one night from his evening prayer to the wine
flasks of Pomme-de-Pin, where he had left his understanding and
memory, fell into a ditch full of water near his house, and found he
was up to his neck. One of the neighbours finding him shortly
afterwards nearly frozen, for it was winter time, said jokingly to
him--

“‘Hulloa! What are you waiting for there?’

“‘A thaw’, said the tipsy fellow, finding himself held by the ice.

“Then Godenot, like a good Christian, released him from his dilemma,
and opened the door of the house to him, out of respect to the wine,
which is lord of this country. The good man then went and got into the
bed of the maid-servant, who was a young and pretty wench. The old
bungler, bemuddled with wine, went ploughing in the wrong land,
fancying all the time it was his wife by his side, and thanking her
for the youth and freshness she still retained. On hearing her
husband, the wife began to cry out, and by her terrible shrieks the
man was awakened to the fact that he was not in the road to salvation,
which made the poor labourer sorrowful beyond expression.

“‘Ah! said he; ‘God has punished me for not going to vespers at
Church.’

“And he began to excuse himself as best he could, saying, that the
wine had muddled his understanding, and getting into his own bed he
kept repeating to his good wife, that for his best cow he would not
have had this sin upon his conscience.

“‘My dear’, said she, ‘go and confess the first thing tomorrow
morning, and let us say no more about it.’

“The good man trotted to confessional, and related his case with all
humility to the rector of the parish, who was a good old priest,
capable of being up above, the slipper of the holy foot.

“‘An error is not a sin,’ said he to the penitent. ‘You will fast
tomorrow, and be absolved.’

“‘Fast!--with pleasure,’ said the good man. ‘That does not mean go
without drink.’

“‘Oh!’ replied the rector, ‘you must drink water, and eat nothing but
a quarter of a loaf and an apple.’

“Then the good man, who had no confidence in his memory, went home,
repeating to himself the penance ordered. But having loyally commenced
with a quarter of a loaf and an apple, he arrived at home, saying, a
quarter of apples, and a loaf.

“Then, to purify his soul, he set about accomplishing his fast, and
his good woman having given him a loaf from the safe, and unhooked a
string of apples from the beam, he set sorrowfully to work. As he
heaved a sigh on taking the last mouthful of bread hardly knowing
where to put it, for he was full to the chin, his wife remonstrated
with him, that God did not desire the death of a sinner, and that for
lack of putting a crust of bread in his belly, he would not be
reproached for having put things in their wrong places.

“‘Hold your tongue, wife!’ said he. ‘If it chokes me, I must fast.’”

“I’ve payed my share, it’s your turn, Viscount,” added he of Anjou,
giving the Picardian a knowing wink.

“The goblets are empty. Hi, there! More wine.”

“Let us drink,” cried the Picardian. “Moist stories slip out easier.”

At the same time he tossed off a glassful without leaving a drop at
the bottom, and after a preliminary little cough, he related the
following:--

“You must know that the maids of Picardy, before setting up
housekeeping, are accustomed honestly to gain their linen, vessels,
and chests; in short, all the needed household utensils. To accomplish
this, they go into service in Peronne, Abbeville, Amiens, and other
towns, where they are tire-women, wash up glasses, clean plates, fold
linen, and carry up the dinner, or anything that there is to be
carried. They are all married as soon as they possess something else
besides that which they naturally bring to their husbands. These women
are the best housewives, because they understand the business and
everything else thoroughly. One belonging to Azonville, which is the
land of which I am lord by inheritance, having heard speak of Paris,
where the people did not put themselves out of the way for anyone, and
where one could subsist for a whole day by passing the cook’s shops,
and smelling the steam, so fattening was it, took it into her head to
go there. She trudged bravely along the road, and arrived with a
pocket full of emptiness. There she fell in, at the Porte St. Denise,
with a company of soldiers, placed there for a time as a vidette, for
the Protestants had assumed a dangerous attitude. The sergeant seeing
this hooded linnet coming, stuck his headpiece on one side,
straightened his feather, twisted his moustache, cleared his throat,
rolled his eyes, put his hand on his hips, and stopped the Picardian
to see if her ears were properly pierced, since it was forbidden to
girls to enter otherwise into Paris. Then he asked her, by way of a
joke, but with a serious face, what brought her there, he pretending
to believe she had come to take the keys of Paris by assault. To which
the poor innocent replied, that she was in search of a good situation,
and had no evil intentions, only desiring to gain something.

“‘Very well; I will employ you,’ said the wag. ‘I am from Picardy, and
will get you taken in here, where you will be treated as a queen would
often like to be, and you will be able to make a good thing of it.’

“Then he led her to the guard-house, where he told her to sweep the
floor, polish the saucepans, stir the fire, and keep a watch on
everything, adding that she should have thirty sols a head from the
men if their service pleased her. Now seeing that the squad was there
for a month, she would be able to gain ten crowns, and at their
departure would find fresh arrivals who would make good arrangements
with her, and by this means she would be able to take back money and
presents to her people. The girl cleaned the room and prepared the
meals so well, singing and humming, that this day the soldiers found
in their den the look of a monk’s refectory. Then all being well
content, each of them gave a sol to their handmaiden. Well satisfied,
they put her into the bed of their commandant, who was in town with
his lady, and they petted and caressed her after the manner of
philosophical soldiers, that is, soldiers partial to that which is
good. She was soon comfortably ensconced between the sheets. But to
avoid quarrels and strife, my noble warriors drew lots for their turn,
arranged themselves in single file, playing well at Pique hardie,
saying not a word, but each one taking at least twenty-six sols worth
of the girl’s society. Although not accustomed to work for so many,
the poor girl did her best, and by this means never closed her eyes
the whole night. In the morning, seeing the soldiers were fast asleep,
she rose happy at bearing no marks of the sharp skirmish, and although
slightly fatigued, managed to get across the fields into the open
country with her thirty sols. On the route to Picardy, she met one of
her friends, who, like herself, wished to try service in Paris, and
was hurrying thither, and seeing her, asked her what sort of places
they were.

“‘Ah! Perrine; do not go. You want to be made of iron, and even if you
were it would soon be worn away,’ was the answer.

“Now, big-belly of Burgundy,” said he, giving his neighbour a hearty
slap, “spit out your story or pay!”

“By the queen of Antlers!” replied the Burgundian, “by my faith, by
the saints, by God! and by the devil, I know only stories of the Court
of Burgundy, which are only current coin in our own land.”

“Eh, ventre Dieu! are we not in the land of Beauffremont?” cried the
other, pointing to the empty goblets.

“I will tell you, then, an adventure well known at Dijon, which
happened at the time I was in command there, and was worth being
written down. There was a sergeant of justice named Franc-Taupin, who
was an old lump of mischief, always grumbling, always fighting; stiff
and starchy, and never comforting those he was leading to the hulks,
with little jokes by the way; and in short, he was just the man to
find lice in bald heads, and bad behaviour in the Almighty. This said
Taupin, spurned by every one, took unto himself a wife, and by chance
he was blessed with one as mild as the peel of an onion, who, noticing
the peculiar humour of her husband, took more pains to bring joy to
his house than would another to bestow horns upon him. But although
she was careful to obey him in all things, and to live at peace would
have tried to excrete gold for him, had God permitted it, this man was
always surly and crabbed, and no more spared his wife blows, than does
a debtor promises to the bailiff’s man. This unpleasant treatment
continuing in spite of the carefulness and angelic behaviour of the
poor woman, she being unable to accustom herself to it, was compelled
to inform her relations, who thereupon came to the house. When they
arrived, the husband declared to them that his wife was an idiot, that
she displeased him in every possible way, and made his life almost
unbearable; that she would wake him out of his first sleep, never came
to the door when he knocked, but would leave him out in the rain and
the cold, and that the house was always untidy. His garments were
buttonless, his laces wanted tags. The linen was spoiling, the wine
turning sour, the wood damp, and the bed was always creaking at
unreasonable moments. In short, everything was going wrong. To this
tissue of falsehoods, the wife replied by pointing to the clothes and
things, all in a state of thorough repair. Then the sergeant said that
he was very badly treated, that his dinner was never ready for him, or
if it was, the broth was thin or the soup cold, either the wine or the
glasses were forgotten, the meat was without gravy or parsley, the
mustard had turned, he either found hairs in the dish or the cloth was
dirty and took away his appetite, indeed nothing did she ever get for
him that was to his liking. The wife, astonished, contented herself
with stoutly denying the fault imputed to her. ‘Ah,’ said he, ‘you
dirty hussy! You deny it, do you! Very well then, my friends, you come
and dine here to-day, you shall be witnesses of her misconduct. And if
she can for once serve me properly, I will confess myself wrong in all
I have stated, and will never lift my hand against her again, but will
resign to her my halberd and my breeches, and give her full authority
here.’

“‘Oh, well,’ said she, joyfully, ‘I shall then henceforth be both wife
and mistress!’

“Then the husband, confident of the nature and imperfections of his
wife, desired that the dinner should be served under the vine arbor,
thinking that he would be able to shout at her if she did not hurry
quickly enough from the table to the pantry. The good housewife set to
work with a will. The plates were clean enough to see one’s face in,
the mustard was fresh and well made, the dinner beautifully cooked, as
appetising as stolen fruit; the glasses were clear, the wine was cool,
and everything so nice, so clean and white, that the repast would have
done honour to a bishop’s chatterbox. Just as she was standing before
the table, casting that last glance which all good housewives like to
give everything, her husband knocked at the door. At that very moment
a cursed hen, who had taken it into her head to get on top of the
arbor to gorge herself with grapes, let fall a large lump of dirt
right in the middle of the cloth. The poor woman was half dead with
fright; so great was her despair, she could think of no other way of
remedying the thoughtlessness of the fowl then by covering the
unseemly patch with a plate in which she put the fine fruits taken at
random from her pocket, losing sight altogether of the symmetry of the
table. Then, in order that no one should notice it, she instantly
fetched the soup, seated every one in his place, and begged them to
enjoy themselves.

“Now, all of them seeing everything so well arranged, uttered
exclamations of pleasure, except the diabolical husband, who remained
moody and sullen, knitting his brows and looking for a straw on which
to hang a quarrel with his wife. Thinking it safe to give him one for
himself, her relations being present, she said to him, ‘Here’s your
dinner, nice and hot, well served, the cloth is clean, the
salt-cellars full, the plates clean, the wine fresh, the bread well
baked. What is there lacking? What do you require? What do you desire?
What else do you want?’

“‘Oh, filth!’ said he, in a great rage.

“The good woman instantly lifted the plate, and replied--

“‘There you are, my dear!’

“Seeing which, the husband was dumbfounded, thinking that the devil
was in league with his wife. He was immediately gravely reproached by
the relations, who declared him to be in the wrong, abused him, and
made more jokes at his expense than a recorder writes words in a
month. From that time forward the sergeant lived comfortably and
peaceably with his wife, who at the least appearance of temper on his
part, would say to him--

“‘Do you want some filth?’”

“Who has told the worst now?” cried the Anjou man, giving the host a
tap on the shoulder.

“He has! He has!” said the two others. Then they began to dispute
among themselves, like the holy fathers in council; seeking, by
creating a confusion, throwing the glasses at each other, and jumping
about, a lucky chance, to make a run of it.

“I’ll settle the question,” cried the host, seeing that whereas they
had all three been ready with their own accounts, not one of them was
thinking of his.

They stopped terrified.

“I will tell you a better one than all, then you will have to give ten
sols a head.”

“Silence for the landlord,” said the one from Anjou.

“In our fauborg of Notre-dame la Riche, in which this inn is situated,
there lived a beautiful girl, who besides her natural advantages, had
a good round sum in her keeping. Therefore, as soon as she was old
enough, and strong enough to bear the matrimonial yoke, she had as
many lovers as there are sols in St. Gatien’s money-box on the
Paschal-day. The girl chose one who, saving your presence, was as good
a worker, night and day, as any two monks together. They were soon
betrothed, and the marriage was arranged; but the joy of the first
night did not draw nearer without occasioning some slight
apprehensions to the lady, as she was liable, through an infirmity, to
expel vapours, which came out like bombshells. Now, fearing that when
thinking of something else, during the first night, she might give the
reins to her eccentricities, she stated the case to her mother, whose
assistance she invoked. That good lady informed her that this faculty
of engineering wind was inherent in the family; that in her time she
had been greatly embarrassed by it, but only in the earlier period of
her life. God had been kind to her, and since the age of seven, she
had evaporated nothing except on the last occasion when she had
bestowed upon her dead husband a farewell blow. ‘But,’ said she to her
daughter, ‘I have ever a sure specific, left to me by my mother, which
brings these surplus explosions to nothing, and exhales them
noiselessly. By this means these sighs become odourless, and scandal
is avoided.’

“The girl, much pleased, learned how to sail close to the wind,
thanked her mother, and danced away merrily, storing up her flatulence
like an organ-blower waiting for the first note of mass. Entering the
nuptial chamber, she determined to expel it when getting into bed, but
the fantastic element was beyond control. The husband came; I leave
you to imagine how love’s conflict sped. In the middle of the night,
the bride arose under a false pretext, and quickly returned again; but
when climbing into her place, the pent up force went off with such a
loud discharge, that you would have thought with me that the curtains
were split.

“‘Ha! I’ve missed my aim!’ said she.

“‘’Sdeath, my dear!’ I replied, ‘then spare your powder. You would
earn a good living in the army with that artillery.’

“It was my wife.”

“Ha! ha! ha!” went the clerks.

And they roared with laughter, holding their sides and complimenting
their host.

“Did you ever hear a better story, Viscount?”

“Ah, what a story!”

“That is a story!”

“A master story!”

“The king of stories!”

“Ha, ha! It beats all the other stories hollow. After that I say there
are no stories like the stories of our host.”

“By the faith of a Christian, I never heard a better story in my
life.”

“Why, I can hear the report.”

“I should like to kiss the orchestra.”

“Ah! gentlemen,” said the Burgundian, gravely, “we cannot leave
without seeing the hostess, and if we do not ask to kiss this famous
wind-instrument, it is a out of respect for so good a story-teller.”

Thereupon they all exalted the host, his story, and his wife’s trumpet
so well that the old fellow, believing in these knaves’ laughter and
pompous eulogies, called to his wife. But as she did not come, the
clerks said, not without frustrative intention, “Let us go to her.”

Thereupon they all went out of the room. The host took the candle and
went upstairs first, to light them and show them the way; but seeing
the street door ajar, the rascals took to their heels, and were off
like shadows, leaving the host to take in settlement of his account
another of his wife’s offerings.



              THE CONTINENCE OF KING FRANCIS THE FIRST

Every one knows through what adventure King Francis, the first of that
name, was taken like a silly bird and led into the town of Madrid, in
Spain. There the Emperor Charles V. kept him carefully locked up, like
an article of great value, in one of his castles, in the which our
defunct sire, of immortal memory, soon became listless and weary,
seeing that he loved the open air, and his little comforts, and no
more understood being shut up in a cage than a cat would folding up
lace. He fell into moods of such strange melancholy that his letters
having been read in full council, Madame d’Angouleme, his mother;
Madame Catherine, the Dauphine, Monsieur de Montmorency, and those who
were at the head of affairs in France knowing the great lechery of the
king, determined after mature deliberation, to send Queen Marguerite
to him, from whom he would doubtless receive alleviation of his
sufferings, that good lady being much loved by him, and merry, and
learned in all necessary wisdom. But she, alleging that it would be
dangerous for her soul, because it was impossible for her, without
great danger to be alone with the king in his cell, a sharp secretary,
the Sieur de Fizes, was sent to the Court of Rome, with orders to beg
of the pontiff a papal brief of special indulgences, containing proper
absolutions for the petty sins which, looking at their consanguinity,
the said queen might commit with a view to cure the king’s melancholy.

At this time, Adrian VI., the Dutchman, still wore the tiara, who, a
good fellow, for the rest did not forget, in spite of the scholastic
ties which united him to the emperor, that the eldest son of the
Catholic Church was concerned in the affair, and was good enough to
send to Spain an express legate, furnished with full powers, to
attempt the salvation of the queen’s soul, and the king’s body,
without prejudice to God. This most urgent affair made the gentleman
very uneasy, and caused an itching in the feet of the ladies, who,
from great devotion to the crown, would all have offered to go to
Madrid, but for the dark mistrust of Charles the Fifth, who would not
grant the king’s permission to any of his subjects, nor even the
members of his family. It was therefore necessary to negotiate the
departure of the Queen of Navarre. Then, nothing else was spoken about
but this deplorable abstinence, and the lack of amorous exercise so
vexatious to a prince, who was much accustomed to it. In short, from
one thing to another, the women finished by thinking more of the
king’s condition, than of the king himself. The queen was the first to
say that she wished she had wings. To this Monseigneur Odet de
Chatillon replied, that she had no need of them to be an angel. One
that was Madame l’Amirale, blamed God that it was not possible to send
by a messenger that which the poor king so much required; and every
one of the ladies would have lent it in her turn.

“God has done very well to fix it,” said the Dauphine, quietly; “for
our husbands would leave us rather badly off during their absence.”

So much was said and so much thought upon the subject, that at her
departure the Queen of all Marguerites was charged, by these good
Christians, to kiss the captive heartily for all the ladies of the
realm; and if it had been permissible to prepare pleasure like
mustard, the queen would have been laden with enough to sell to the
two Castiles.

While Madame Marguerite was, in spite of the snow, crossing the
mountains, by relays of mule, hurrying on to these consolations as to
a fire, the king found himself harder pressed by unsatisfied desire
than he had ever been before, or would be again. In this reverberation
of nature, he opened his heart to the Emperor Charles, in order that
he might be provided with a merciful specific, urging upon him that it
would be an everlasting disgrace to one king to let another die for
lack of gallantry. The Castilian showed himself to be a generous man.
Thinking that he would be able to recuperate himself for the favour
granted out of his guest’s ransom, he hinted quietly to the people
commissioned to guard the prisoner, that they might gratify him in
this respect. Thereupon a certain Don Hiios de Lara y Lopez Barra di
Pinto, a poor captain, whose pockets were empty in spite of his
genealogy, and who had been for some time thinking of seeking his
fortune at the Court of France, fancied that by procuring his majesty
a soft cataplasm of warm flesh, he would open for himself an honestly
fertile door; and indeed, those who know the character of the good
king and his court, can decide if he deceived himself.

When the above mentioned captain came in his turn into the chamber of
the French king, he asked him respectfully if it was his good pleasure
to permit him an interrogation on a subject concerning which he was as
curious as about papal indulgences? To which the Prince, casting aside
his hypochondriacal demeanour, and twisting round on the chair in
which he was seated, gave a sign of consent. The captain begged him
not to be offended at the licence of his language, and confessed to
him, that he the king was said to be one of the most amorous men in
France, and he would be glad to learn from him if the ladies of the
court were expert in the adventures of love. The poor king, calling to
mind his many adventures, gave vent to a deep-drawn sigh, and
exclaimed, that no woman of any country, including those of the moon,
knew better than the ladies of France the secrets of this alchemy and
at the remembrance of the savoury, gracious, and vigorous fondling of
one alone, he felt himself the man, were she then within his reach, to
clasp her to his heart, even on a rotten plank a hundred feet above a
precipice.

Say which, this good king, a ribald fellow, if ever there was one,
shot forth so fiercely life and light from his eyes, that the captain,
though a brave man, felt a quaking in his inside so fiercely flamed
the sacred majesty of royal love. But recovering his courage he began
to defend the Spanish ladies, declaring that in Castile alone was love
properly understood, because it was the most religious place in
Christendom, and the more fear the women had of damning themselves by
yielding to a lover, the more their souls were in the affair, because
they knew they must take their pleasure then against eternity. He
further added, that if the Lord King would wager one of the best and
most profitable manors in the kingdom of France, he would give him a
Spanish night of love, in which a casual queen should, unless he took
care, draw his soul from his body.

“Done,” said the king, jumping from his chair. “I’ll give thee, by
God, the manor of Ville-aux-Dames in my province of Touraine, with
full privilege of chase, of high and low jurisdiction.”

Then, the captain, who was acquainted with the Donna of the Cardinal
Archbishop of Toledo requested her to smother the King of France with
kindness, and demonstrate to him the great advantage of the Castilian
imagination over the simple movement of the French. To which the
Marchesa of Amaesguy consented for the honour of Spain, and also for
the pleasure of knowing of what paste God made Kings, a matter in
which she was ignorant, having experience only of the princes of the
Church. Then she became passionate as a lion that has broken out of
his cage, and made the bones of the king crack in a manner that would
have killed any other man. But the above-named lord was so well
furnished, so greedy, and so will bitten, he no longer felt a bite;
and from this terrible duel the Marchesa emerged abashed, believing
she had the devil to confess.

The captain, confident in his agent, came to salute his lord, thinking
to do honour for his fief. Thereupon the king said to him, in a
jocular manner, that the Spanish ladies were of a passable
temperature, and their system a fair one, but that when gentleness was
required they substituted frenzy; that he kept fancying each thrill
was a sneeze, or a case of violence; in short, that the embrace of a
French woman brought back the drinker more thirsty than ever, tiring
him never; and that with the ladies of his court, love was a gentle
pleasure without parallel, and not the labour of a master baker in his
kneading trough.

The poor captain was strongly piqued at his language. In spite of the
nice sense of honour which the king pretended to possess, he fancied
that his majesty wished to bilk him like a student, stealing a slice
of love at a brothel in Paris. Nevertheless, not knowing for the
matter of that, if the Marchesa had not over-spanished the king, he
demanded his revenge from the captive, pledging him his word, that he
should have for certain a veritable fay, and that he would yet gain
the fief. The king was too courteous and gallant a knight to refuse
this request, and even made a pretty and right royal speech,
intimating his desire to lose the wager. Then, after vespers, the
guard passed fresh and warm into the king’s chamber, a lady most
dazzlingly white--most delicately wanton, with long tresses and velvet
hands, filling out her dress at the least movement, for she was
gracefully plump, with a laughing mouth, and eyes moist in advance, a
woman to beautify hell, and whose first word had such cordial power
that the king’s garment was cracked by it. On the morrow, after the
fair one had slipped out after the king’s breakfast, the good captain
came radiant and triumphant into the chamber.

At sight of him the prisoner then exclaimed--

“Baron de la Ville-aux-Dames! God grant you joys like to mine! I like
my jail! By’r lady, I will not judge between the love of our lands,
but pay the wager.”

“I was sure of it,” said the captain.

“How so?” said the King.

“Sire, it was my wife.”

This was the origin of Larray de la Ville-aux-Dames in our country,
since from corruption of the names, that of Lara-y-Lopez, finished by
becoming Larray. It was a good family, delighting in serving the kings
of France, and it multiplied exceedingly. Soon after, the Queen of
Navarre came in due course to the king, who, weary of Spanish customs,
wished to disport himself after the fashion of France; but remainder
is not the subject of this narrative. I reserve to myself the right to
relate elsewhere how the legate managed to sponge the sin of the thing
off the great slate, and the delicate remark of our Queen of
Marguerites, who merits a saint’s niche in this collection; she who
first concocted such good stories. The morality of this one is easy to
understand.

In the first place, kings should never let themselves be taken in
battle any more than their archetype in the game of the Grecian chief
Palamedes. But from this, it appears the captivity of its king is a
most calamitous and horrible evil to fall on the populace. If it had
been a queen, or even a princess, what worse fate? But I believe the
thing could not happen again, except with cannibals. Can there ever be
a reason for imprisoning the flower of a realm? I think too well of
Ashtaroth, Lucifer, and others, to imagine that did they reign, they
would hide the joy of all the beneficent light, at which poor
sufferers warm themselves. And it was necessary that the worst of
devils, _id est_, a wicked old heretic woman, should find herself upon
a throne, to keep a prisoner sweet Mary of Scotland, to the shame of
all the knights of Christendom, who should have come without previous
assignation to the foot of Fotheringay, and have left thereof no
single stone.



               THE MERRY TATTLE OF THE NUNS OF POISSY

The Abbey of Poissy has been rendered famous by old authors as a place
of pleasure, where the misconduct of the nuns first began, and whence
proceeded so many good stories calculated to make laymen laugh at the
expense of our holy religion. The said abbey by this means became
fertile in proverbs, which none of the clever folks of our day
understand, although they sift and chew them in order to digest them.

If you ask one of them what the _olives of Poissy_ are, they will
answer you gravely that it is a periphrase relating to truffles, and
that the _way to serve them_, of which one formerly spoke, when joking
with these virtuous maidens, meant a peculiar kind of sauce. That’s
the way the scribblers hit on truth once in a hundred times. To return
to these good recluses, it was said--by way of a joke, of course--that
they preferred finding a harlot in their chemises to a good woman.
Certain other jokers reproached them with imitating the lives of the
saints, in their own fashion, and said that all they admired in Mary
of Egypt was her fashion of paying the boatmen. From whence the
raillery: To honour the saints after the fashion of Poissy. There is
still the crucifix of Poissy, which kept the stomachs warm; and the
matins of Poissy, which concluded with a little chorister. Finally, of
a hearty jade well acquainted with the ways of love, it was said--She
is a nun of Poissy. That property of a man which he can only lend, was
The key of the Abbey of Poissy. What the gate of the said abbey was
can easily be guessed. This gate, door, wicket, opening, or road was
always half open, was easier to open than to shut, and cost much in
repairs. In short, at that period, there was no fresh device in love
invented, that had not its origin in the good convent of Poissy. You
may be sure there is a good deal of untruth and hyperbolical emphasis,
in these proverbs, jests, jokes, and idle tales. The nuns of the said
Poissy were good young ladies, who now this way, now that, cheated God
to the profit of the devil, as many others did, which was but natural,
because our nature is weak; and although they were nuns, they had
their little imperfections. They found themselves barren in a certain
particular, hence the evil. But the truth of the matter is, all these
wickednesses were the deeds of an abbess who had fourteen children,
all born alive, since they had been perfected at leisure. The
fantastic amours and the wild conduct of this woman, who was of royal
blood, caused the convent of Poissy to become fashionable; and
thereafter no pleasant adventure happened in the abbeys of France
which was not credited to these poor girls, who would have been well
satisfied with a tenth of them. Then the abbey was reformed, and these
holy sisters were deprived of the little happiness and liberty which
they had enjoyed. In an old cartulary of the abbey of Turpenay, near
Chinon, which in those later troublous times had found a resting place
in the library of Azay, where the custodian was only too glad to
receive it, I met with a fragment under the head of The Hours of
Poissy, which had evidently been put together by a merry abbot of
Turpenay for the diversion of his neighbours of Usee, Azay, Mongaugar,
Sacchez, and other places of this province. I give them under the
authority of the clerical garb, but altered to my own style, because I
have been compelled to turn them from Latin into French. I commence:
--At Poissy the nuns were accustomed to, when Mademoiselle, the king’s
daughter, their abbess, had gone to bed..... It was she who first
called it _faire la petite oie_, to stick to the preliminaries of
love, the prologues, prefaces, protocols, warnings, notices,
introductions, summaries, prospectuses, arguments, notices, epigraphs,
titles, false-titles, current titles, scholia, marginal remarks,
frontispieces, observations, gilt edges, bookmarks, reglets,
vignettes, tail pieces, and engravings, without once opening the merry
book to read, re-read, and study to apprehend and comprehend the
contents. And she gathered together in a body all those extra-judicial
little pleasures of that sweet language, which come indeed from the
lips, yet make no noise, and practised them so well, that she died a
virgin and perfect in shape. The gay science was after deeply studied
by the ladies of the court, who took lovers for _la petite oie_,
others for honour, and at times also certain ones who had over them
the right of high and low jurisdiction, and were masters of everything
--a state of things much preferred. But to continue: When this
virtuous princess was naked and shameless between the sheets, the said
girls (those whose cheeks were unwrinkled and their hearts gay) would
steal noiselessly out of their cells, and hide themselves in that of
one of the sisters who was much liked by all of them. There they would
have cosy little chats, enlivened with sweetmeats, pasties, liqueurs,
and girlish quarrels, worry their elders, imitating them grotesquely,
innocently mocking them, telling stories that made them laugh till the
tears came and playing a thousand pranks. At times they would measure
their feet, to see whose were the smallest, compare the white
plumpness of their arms, see whose nose had the infirmity of blushing
after supper, count their freckles, tell each other where their skin
marks were situated, dispute whose complexion was the clearest, whose
hair the prettiest colour, and whose figure the best. You can imagine
that among these figures sanctified to God there were fine ones, stout
ones, lank ones, thin ones, plump ones, supple ones, shrunken ones,
and figures of all kinds. Then they would quarrel amongst themselves
as to who took the least to make a girdle, and she who spanned the
least was pleased without knowing why. At times they would relate
their dreams and what they had seen in them. Often one or two, at
times all of them, had dreamed they had tight hold of the keys of the
abbey. Then they would consult each other about their little ailments.
One had scratched her finger, another had a whitlow; this one had
risen in the morning with the white of her eye bloodshot; that one had
put her finger out, telling her beads. All had some little thing the
matter with them.

“Ah! you have lied to our mother; your nails are marked with white,”
 said one to her neighbour.

“You stopped a long time at confession this morning, sister,” said
another. “You must have a good many little sins to confess.”

As there is nothing resembles a pussy-cat so much as a tom-cat, they
would swear eternal friendship, quarrel, sulk, dispute and make it up
again; would be jealous, laugh and pinch, pinch and laugh, and play
tricks upon the novices.

At times they would say, “Suppose a gendarme came here one rainy day,
where should we put him?”

“With Sister Ovide; her cell is so big he could get into it with his
helmet on.”

“What do you mean?” cried Sister Ovide, “are not all our cells alike?”

Thereupon the girls burst out laughing like ripe figs. One evening
they increased their council by a little novice, about seventeen years
of age, who appeared innocent as a new-born babe, and would have had
the host without confession. This maiden’s mouth had long watered for
their secret confabulations, little feasts and rejoicings by which the
nuns softened the holy captivity of their bodies, and had wept at not
being admitted to them.

“Well,” said Sister Ovide to her, “have you had a good night’s rest,
little one?”

“Oh no!” said she, “I have been bitten by fleas.”

“Ha! you have fleas in your cell? But you must get rid of them at
once. Do you know how the rules of our order enjoin them to be driven
out, so that never again during her conventional life shall a sister
see so much as the tail of one?”

“No,” replied the novice.

“Well then, I will teach you. Do you see any fleas here? Do you notice
any trace of fleas? Do you smell an odour of fleas? Is there any
appearance of fleas in my cell? Look!”

“I can’t find any,” said the little novice, who was Mademoiselle de
Fiennes, “and smell no odour other than our own.”

“Do as I am about to tell you, and be no more bitten. Directly you
feel yourself pricked, you must strip yourself, lift your chemise, and
be careful not to sin while looking all over your body; think only of
the cursed flea, looking for it, in good faith, without paying
attention to other things; trying only to catch the flea, which is a
difficult job, as you may easily be deceived by the little black spots
on your skin, which you were born with. Have you any, little one?”

“Yes,” cried she. “I have two dark freckles, one on my shoulder and
one on my back, rather low down, but it is hidden in a fold of the
flesh.”

“How did you see it?” asked Sister Perpetue.

“I did not know it. It was Monsieur de Montresor who found it out.”

“Ha, ha!” said the sister, “is that all he saw?”

“He saw everything,” said she, “I was quite little; he was about nine
years old, and we were playing together....”

The nuns hardly being able to restrain their laughter, Sister Ovide
went on--

“The above-mentioned flea will jump from your legs to your eyes, will
try and hide himself in apertures and crevices, will leap from valley
to mountain, endeavouring to escape you; but the rules of the house
order you courageously to pursue, repeating aves. Ordinarily at the
third ave the beast is taken.”

“The flea?” asked the novice.

“Certainly the flea,” replied Sister Ovide; “but in order to avoid the
dangers of this chase, you must be careful in whatever spot you put
your finger on the beast, to touch nothing else.... Then without
regarding its cries, plaints, groans, efforts, and writhings, and the
rebellion which frequently it attempts, you will press it under your
thumb or other finger of the hand engaged in holding it, and with the
other hand you will search for a veil to bind the flea’s eyes and
prevent it from leaping, as the beast seeing no longer clearly will
not know where to go. Nevertheless, as it will still be able to bite
you, and will be getting terribly enraged, you must gently open its
mouth and delicately insert therein a twig of the blessed brush that
hangs over your pillow. Thus the beast will be compelled to behave
properly. But remember that the discipline of our order allows you to
retain no property, and the beast cannot belong to you. You must take
into consideration that it is one of God’s creatures, and strive to
render it more agreeable. Therefore, before all things, it is
necessary to verify three serious things--viz.: If the flea be a male,
if it be female, or if it be a virgin; supposing it to be a virgin,
which is extremely rare, since these beasts have no morals, are all
wild hussies, and yield to the first seducer who comes, you will seize
her hinder feet, and drawing them under her little caparison, you must
bind them with one of your hairs, and carry it to your superior, who
will decide upon its fate after having consulted the chapter. If it be
a male--”

“How can one tell that a flea is a virgin? asked the curious novice.

“First of all,” replied Sister Ovide, “she is sad and melancholy, does
not laugh like the others, does not bite so sharp, has her mouth less
wide open, blushes when touched--you know where.”

“In that case,” replied the novice, “I have been bitten by a male.”

At this the sisters burst out laughing so heartily that one of them
sounded a bass note and voided a little water and Sister Ovide
pointing to it on the floor, said--

“You see there’s never wind without rain.”

The novice laughed herself, thinking that these chuckles were caused
by the sister’s exclamation.

“Now,” went on Sister Ovide, “if it be a male flea, you take your
scissors, or your lover’s dagger, if by chance he has given you one as
a souvenir, previous to your entry into the convent. In short,
furnished with a cutting instrument, you carefully slit open the
flanks of the flea. Expect to hear him howl, cough, spit, beg your
pardon; to see him twist about, sweat, make sheep’s eyes, and anything
that may come into his head to put off this operation. But be not
astonished; pluck up your courage when thinking that you are acting
thus to bring a perverted creature into the ways of salvation. Then
you will dextrously take the reins, the liver, the heart, the gizzard,
and noble parts, and dip them all several times into the holy water,
washing and purifying them there, at the same time imploring the Holy
Ghost to sanctify the interior of the beast. Afterwards you will
replace all these intestinal things in the body of the flea, who will
be anxious to get them back again. Being by this means baptised, the
soul of the creature has become Catholic. Immediately you will get a
needle and thread and sew up the belly of the flea with great care,
with such regard and attention as is due to a fellow Christian; you
will even pray for it--a kindness to which you will see it is sensible
by its genuflections and the attentive glances which it will bestow
upon you. In short, it will cry no more, and have no further desire to
kill you; and fleas are often encountered who die from pleasure at
being thus converted to our holy religion. You will do the same to all
you catch; and the others perceiving it, after staring at the convert,
will go away, so perverse are they, and so terrified at the idea of
becoming Christians.”

“And they are therefore wicked,” said the novice. “Is there any
greater happiness than to be in the bosom of the Church?”

“Certainly!” answered sister Ursula, “here we are sheltered from the
dangers of the world and of love, in which there are so many.”

“Is there any other danger than that of having a child at an
unseasonable time?” asked a young sister.

“During the present reign,” replied Ursula, raising her head, “love
has inherited leprosy, St Anthony’s fire, the Ardennes’ sickness, and
the red rash, and has heaped up all the fevers, agonies, drugs and
sufferings of the lot in his pretty mortar, to draw out therefrom a
terrible compound, of which the devil has given the receipt, luckily
for convents, because there are a great number of frightened ladies,
who become virtuous for fear of this love.”

Thereupon they huddled up close together, alarmed at these words, but
wishing to know more.

“And is it enough to love, to suffer?” asked a sister.

“Oh, yes!” cried Sister Ovide.

“You love just for one little once a pretty gentleman,” replied
Ursula, “and you have the chance of seeing your teeth go one by one,
your hair fall off, your cheeks grow pallid, and your eyebrows drop,
and the disappearance of your prized charms will cost you many a sigh.
There are poor women who have scabs come upon their noses, and others
who have a horrid animal with a hundred claws, which gnaws their
tenderest parts. The Pope has at last been compelled to excommunicate
this kind of love.”

“Ah! how lucky I am to have had nothing of that sort,” cried the
novice.

Hearing this souvenir of love, the sisters suspected that the little
one had gone astray through the heat of a crucifix of Poissy, and had
been joking with the Sister Ovide, and drawing her out. All
congratulated themselves on having so merry a jade in their company,
and asked her to what adventure they were indebted for that pleasure.

“Ah!” said she, “I let myself be bitten by a big flea, who had already
been baptised.”

At this speech, the sister of the bass note could not restrain a
second sign.

“Ah!” said Sister Ovide, “you are bound to give us the third. If you
spoke that language in the choir, the abbess would diet you like
Sister Petronille; so put a sordine in your trumpet.”

“Is it true that you knew in her lifetime that Sister Petronille on
whom God bestowed the gift of only going twice a year to the bank of
deposit?” asked Sister Ursula.

“Yes,” replied Ovide. “And one evening it happened she had to remain
enthroned until matins, saying, ‘I am here by the will of God.’ But at
the first verse, she was delivered, in order that she should not miss
the office. Nevertheless, the late abbess would not allow that this
was an especial favour, granted from on high, and said that God did
not look so low. Here are the facts of the case. Our defunct sister,
whose canonisation the order are now endeavouring to obtain at the
court of the Pope, and would have had it if they could have paid the
proper costs of the papal brief; this Petronille, then, had an
ambition to have her name included in the Calendar of Saints, which
was in no way prejudicial to our order. She lived in prayer alone,
would remain in ecstasy before the altar of the virgin, which is on
the side of the fields, and pretend so distinctly to hear the angels
flying in Paradise, that she was able to hum the tunes they were
singing. You all know that she took from them the chant Adoremus, of
which no man could have invented a note. She remained for days with
her eyes fixed like the star, fasting, and putting no more nourishment
into her body that I could into my eye. She had made a vow never to
taste meat, either cooked or raw, and ate only a crust of bread a day;
but on great feast days she would add thereto a morsel of salt fish,
without any sauce. On this diet she became dreadfully thin, yellow and
saffron, and dry as an old bone in a cemetery; for she was of an
ardent disposition, and anyone who had had the happiness of knocking
up against her, would have drawn fire as from a flint. However, little
as she ate, she could not escape an infirmity to which, luckily or
unluckily, we are all more or less subject. If it were otherwise, we
should be very much embarrassed. The affair in question, is the
obligation of expelling after eating, like all the other animals,
matter more or less agreeable, according to constitution. Now Sister
Petronille differed from all others, because she expelled matter such
as is left by a deer, and these are the hardest substances that any
gizzard produces, as you must know, if you have ever put your foot
upon them in the forest glade, and from their hardness they are called
bullets in the language of forestry. This peculiarity of Sister
Petronille’s was not unnatural, since long fasts kept her temperament
at a permanent heat. According to the old sisters, her nature was so
burning, that when water touched her, she went frist! like a hot coal.
There are sisters who have accused her of secretly cooking eggs, in
the night, between her toes, in order to support her austerities. But
these were scandals, invented to tarnish this great sanctity of which
all the other nunneries were jealous. Our sister was piloted in the
way of salvation and divine perfection by the Abbot of St.
Germaine-des-Pres de Paris--a holy man, who always finished his
Injunctions with a last one, which was to offer to God all our
troubles, and submit ourselves to His will, since nothing happened
without His express commandment. This doctrine, which appears wise at
first sight, has furnished matter for great controversies, and has
been finally condemned on the statement of the Cardinal of Chatillon,
who declared that then there would be no such thing as sin, which
would considerably diminish the revenues of the Church. But Sister
Petronille lived imbued with this feeling, without knowing the danger
of it. After Lent, and the fasts of the great jubilee, for the first
time for eight months she had need to go to the little room, and to it
she went. There, bravely lifting her dress, she put herself into a
position to do that which we poor sinners do rather oftener. But
Sister Petronille could only manage to expectorate the commencement of
the thing, which kept her puffing without the remainder making up its
mind to follow. In spite of every effort, pursing of the lips and
squeezing of body, her guest preferred to remain in her blessed body,
merely putting his head out of the window, like a frog taking the air,
and felt no inclination to fall into the vale of misery among the
others, alleging that he would not be there in the odour of sanctity.
And his idea was a good one for a simple lump of dirt like himself.
The good saint having used all methods of coercion, having
overstretched her muscles, and tried the nerves of her thin face till
they bulged out, recognised the fact that no suffering in the world
was so great, and her anguish attaining the apogee of sphincterial
terrors, she exclaimed, ‘Oh! my God, to Thee I offer it!’ At this
orison, the stoney matter broke off short, and fell like a flint
against the wall of the privy, making a croc, croc, crooc, paf! You
can easily understand, my sisters, that she had no need of a
torch-cul, and drew back the remainder.”

“Then did she see angels?” asked one.

“Have they a behind?” asked another.

“Certainly not,” said Ursula. “Do you not know that one general
meeting day, God having ordered them to be seated, they answered Him
that they had not the wherewithal.”

Thereupon they went off to bed, some alone, others nearly alone. They
were good girls, who harmed only themselves.

I cannot leave them without relating an adventure which took place in
their house, when Reform was passing a sponge over it, and making them
all saints, as before stated. At that time, there was in the episcopal
chair of Paris a veritable saint, who did not brag about what he did,
and cared for naught but the poor and suffering, whom the dear old
Bishop lodged in his heart, neglecting his own interests for theirs,
and seeking out misery in order that he might heal it with words, with
help, with attentions, and with money, according to the case: as ready
to solace the rich in their misfortunes as the poor, patching up their
souls and bringing them back to God; and tearing about hither and
thither, watching his troop, the dear shepherd! Now the good man went
about careless of the state of his cassocks, mantles, and breeches, so
that the naked members of the church were covered. He was so
charitable that he would have pawned himself to save an infidel from
distress. His servants were obliged to look after him carefully.
Ofttimes he would scold them when they changed unasked his tattered
vestments for new; and he used to have them darned and patched, as
long as they would hold together. Now this good archbishop knew that
the late Sieur de Poissy had left a daughter, without a sou or a rag,
after having eaten, drunk, and gambled away her inheritance. This poor
young lady lived in a hovel, without fire in winter or cherries in
spring; and did needlework, not wishing either to marry beneath her or
sell her virtue. Awaiting the time when he should be able to find a
young husband for her, the prelate took it into his head to send her
the outside case of one to mend, in the person of his old breeches, a
task which the young lady, in her present position, would be glad to
undertake. One day that the archbishop was thinking to himself that he
must go to the convent of Poissy, to see after the reformed inmates,
he gave to one of his servants, the oldest of his nether garments,
which was sorely in need of stitches, saying, “Take this, Saintot, to
the young ladies of Poissy,” meaning to say, “the young lady of
Poissy.” Thinking of affairs connected with the cloister, he did not
inform his varlet of the situation of the lady’s house; her desperate
condition having been by him discreetly kept a secret. Saintot took
the breeches and went his way towards Poissy, gay as a grasshopper,
stopping to chat with friends he met on the way, slaking his thirst at
the wayside inns, and showing many things to the breeches during the
journey that might hereafter be useful to them. At last he arrived at
the convent, and informed the abbess that his master had sent him to
give her these articles. When the varlet departed, leaving with the
reverend mother, the garment accustomed to model in relief the
archiepiscopal proportions of the continent nature of the good man,
according to the fashion of the period, beside the image of those
things of which the Eternal Father had deprived His angels, and which
in the good prelate did not want for amplitude. Madame the abbess
having informed the sisters of the precious message of the good
archbishop they came in haste, curious and hustling, as ants into
whose republic a chestnut husk has fallen. When they undid the
breeches, which gaped horribly, they shrieked out, covering their eyes
with one hand, in great fear of seeing the devil come out, the abbess
exclaiming, “Hide yourselves my daughters! This is the abode of mortal
sin!”

The mother of the novices, giving a little look between her fingers,
revived the courage of the holy troop, swearing by an Ave that no
living head was domiciled in the breeches. Then they all blushed at
their ease, while examining this habitavit, thinking that perhaps the
desire of the prelate was that they should discover therein some sage
admonition or evangelical parable. Although this sight caused certain
ravages in the hearts of those most virtuous maidens, they paid little
attention to the flutterings of their reins, but sprinkling a little
holy water in the bottom of the abyss, one touched it, another passed
her finger through a hole, and grew bolder looking at it. It has even
been pretended that, their first stir over, the abbess found a voice
sufficiently firm to say, “What is there at the bottom of this? With
what idea has our father sent us that which consummates the ruin of
women?”

“It’s fifteen years, dear mother, since I have been permitted to gaze
upon the demon’s den.”

“Silence, my daughter. You prevent me thinking what is best to be
done.”

Then so much were these archiepiscopal breeches turned and twisted
about, admired and re-admired, pulled here, pulled there, and turned
inside out--so much were they talked about, fought about, thought
about, dreamed about, night and day, that on the morrow a little
sister said, after having sung the matins, to which the convent had a
verse and two responses--“Sisters, I have found out the parable of the
archbishop. He has sent us as a mortification his garment to mend, as
a holy warning to avoid idleness, the mother abbess of all the vices.”

Thereupon there was a scramble to get hold of the breeches; but the
abbess, using her high authority, reserved to herself the meditation
over this patchwork. She was occupied during ten days, praying, and
sewing the said breeches, lining them with silk, and making double
hems, well sewn, and in all humility. Then the chapter being
assembled, it was arranged that the convent should testify by a pretty
souvenir to the said archbishop their delight that he thought of his
daughters in God. Then all of them, to the very youngest, had to do
some work on these blessed breeches, in order to do honour to the
virtue of the good man.

Meanwhile the prelate had had so much to attend to, that he had
forgotten all about his garment. This is how it came about. He made
the acquaintance of a noble of the court, who, having lost his wife--a
she-fiend and sterile--said to the good priest, that he had a great
ambition to meet with a virtuous woman, confiding in God, with whom he
was not likely to quarrel, and was likely to have pretty children.
Such a one he desired to hold by the hand, and have confidence in.
Then the holy man drew such a picture of Mademoiselle de Poissy, that
this fair one soon became Madame de Genoilhac. The wedding was
celebrated at the archiepiscopal palace, where was a feast of the
first quality and a table bordered with ladies of the highest lineage,
and the fashionable world of the court, among whom the bride appeared
the most beautiful, since it has certain that she was a virgin, the
archbishop guaranteeing her virtue.

When the fruit, conserves, and pastry were with many ornaments
arranged on the cloth, Saintot said to the archbishop, “Monseigneur,
your well-beloved daughters of Poissy send you a fine dish for the
centre.”

“Put it there,” said the good man, gazing with admiration at an
edifice of velvet and satin, embroidered with fine ribbon, in the
shape of an ancient vase, the lid of which exhaled a thousand
superfine odours.

Immediately the bride, uncovering it, found therein sweetmeats, cakes,
and those delicious confections to which the ladies are so partial.
But of one of them--some curious devotee--seeing a little piece of
silk, pulled it towards her, and exposed to view the habitation of the
human compass, to the great confusion of the prelate, for laughter
rang round the table like a discharge of artillery.

“Well have they made the centre dish,” said the bridegroom. “These
young ladies are of good understanding. Therein are all the sweets of
matrimony.”

Can there be any better moral than that deduced by Monsieur de
Genoilhac? Then no other is needed.



              HOW THE CHATEAU D’AZAY CAME TO BE BUILT

Jehan, son of Simon Fourniez, called Simonnin, a citizen of Tours
--originally of the village of Moulinot, near to Beaune, whence, in
imitation of certain persons, he took the name when he became steward
to Louis the Eleventh--had to fly one day into Languedoc with his
wife, having fallen into great disgrace, and left his son Jacques
penniless in Touraine. This youth, who possessed nothing in the world
except his good looks, his sword, and spurs, but whom worn-out old men
would have considered very well off, had in his head a firm intention
to save his father, and make his fortune at the court, then holden in
Touraine. At early dawn this good Tourainian left his lodging, and,
enveloped in his mantle, all except his nose, which he left open to
the air, and his stomach empty, walked about the town without any
trouble of digestion. He entered the churches, thought them beautiful,
looked into the chapels, flicked the flies from the pictures, and
counted the columns all after the manner of a man who knew not what to
do with his time or his money. At other times he feigned to recite his
paternosters, but really made mute prayers to the ladies, offered them
holy water when leaving, followed them afar off, and endeavoured by
these little services to encounter some adventure, in which at the
peril of his life he would find for himself a protector or a gracious
mistress. He had in his girdle two doubloons which he spared far more
than his skin, because that would be replaced, but the doubloons
never. Each day he took from his little hoard the price of a roll and
a few apples, with which he sustained life, and drank at his will and
his discretion of the water of the Loire. This wholesome and prudent
diet, besides being good for his doubloons, kept him frisky and light
as a greyhound, gave him a clear understanding and a warm heart for
the water of the Loire is of all syrups the most strengthening,
because having its course afar off it is invigorated by its long run,
through many strands, before it reaches Tours. So you may be sure that
the poor fellow imagined a thousand and one good fortunes and lucky
adventures, and what is more, almost believed them true. Oh! The good
times! One evening Jacques de Beaune (he kept the name although he was
not lord of Beaune) was walking along the embankment, occupied in
cursing his star and everything, for his last doubloon was with scant
respect upon the point of quitting him; when at the corner of a little
street, he nearly ran against a veiled lady, whose sweet odour
gratified his amorous senses. This fair pedestrian was bravely mounted
on pretty pattens, wore a beautiful dress of Italian velvet, with wide
slashed satin sleeves; while as a sign of her great fortune, through
her veil a white diamond of reasonable size shone upon her forehead
like the rays of the setting sun, among her tresses, which were
delicately rolled, built up, and so neat, that they must have taken
her maids quite three hours to arrange. She walked like a lady who was
only accustomed to a litter. One of her pages followed her, well
armed. She was evidently some light o’love belonging to a noble of
high rank or a lady of the court, since she held her dress high off
the ground, and bent her back like a woman of quality. Lady or
courtesan she pleased Jacques de Beaune, who, far from turning up his
nose at her, conceived the wild idea of attaching himself to her for
life. With this in view he determined to follow her in order to
ascertain whither she would lead him--to Paradise or to the limbo of
hell--to a gibbet or to an abode of love. Anything was a glean of hope
to him in the depth of his misery. The lady strolled along the bank of
the Loire towards Plessis inhaling like a fish the fine freshness of
the water, toying, sauntering like a little mouse who wishes to see
and taste everything. When the page perceived that Jacques de Beaune
persistently followed his mistress in all her movements, stopped when
she stopped, and watched her trifling in a bare-faced fashion, as if
he had a right so to do, he turned briskly round with a savage and
threatening face, like that of a dog whose says, “Stand back, sir!”
 But the good Tourainian had his wits about him. Believing that if a
cat may look at king, he, a baptised Christian, might certainly look
at a pretty woman, he stepped forward, and feigning to grin at the
page, he strutted now behind and now before the lady. She said
nothing, but looked at the sky, which was putting on its nightcap, the
stars, and everything which could give her pleasure. So things went
on. At last, arrived outside Portillon, she stood still, and in order
to see better, cast her veil back over her shoulder, and in so doing
cast upon the youth the glance of a clever woman who looks round to
see if there is any danger of being robbed. I may tell you that
Jacques de Beaune was a thorough ladies’ man, could walk by the side
of a princess without disgracing her, had a brave and resolute air
which please the sex, and if he was a little browned by the sun from
being so much in the open air, his skin would look white enough under
the canopy of a bed. The glance, keen as a needle, which the lady
threw him, appeared to him more animated than that with which she
would have honoured her prayer-book. Upon it he built the hope of a
windfall of love, and resolved to push the adventure to the very edge
of the petticoat, risking to go still further, not only his lips,
which he held of little count, but his two ears and something else
besides. He followed into the town the lady, who returned by the Rue
des Trois-Pucelles, and led the gallant through a labyrinth of little
streets, to the square in which is at the present time situated the
Hotel de la Crouzille. There she stopped at the door of a splendid
mansion, at which the page knocked. A servant opened it, and the lady
went in and closed the door, leaving the Sieur de Beaune open-mouthed,
stupefied, and as foolish as Monseigneur St. Denis when he was trying
to pick up his head. He raised his nose in the air to see if some
token of favour would be thrown to him, and saw nothing except a light
which went up the stairs, through the rooms, and rested before a fine
window, where probably the lady was also. You can believe that the
poor lover remained melancholy and dreaming, and not knowing what to
do. The window gave a sudden creak and broke his reverie. Fancying
that his lady was about to call him, he looked up again, and but for
the friendly shelter of the balcony, which was a helmet to him, he
would have received a stream of water and the utensil which contained
it, since the handle only remained in the grasp of the person who
delivered the deluge. Jacques de Beaune, delighted at this, did not
lose the opportunity, but flung himself against the wall, crying “I am
killed,” with a feeble voice. Then stretching himself upon the
fragments of broken china, he lay as if dead, awaiting the issue. The
servants rushed out in a state of alarm, fearing their mistress, to
whom they had confessed their fault, and picked up the wounded man,
who could hardly restrain his laughter at being then carried up the
stairs.

“He is cold,” said the page.

“He is covered with blood,” said the butler, who while feeling his
pulse had wetted his hand.

“If he revives,” said the guilty one, “I will pay for a mass to St.
Gatien.”

“Madame takes after her late father, and if she does not have thee
hanged, the least mitigation of thy penalty will be that thou wilt be
kicked out of her house and service,” said another. “Certes, he’s dead
enough, he is so heavy.”

“Ah! I am in the house of a very great lady,” thought Jacques.

“Alas! is he really dead?” demanded the author of the calamity. While
with great labour the Tourainian was being carried up the stairs, his
doublet caught on a projection, and the dead man cried, “Ah, my
doublet!”

“He groans,” said the culprit, with a sigh of relief. The Regent’s
servants (for this was the house of the Regent, the daughter of King
Louis XI. of virtuous memory) brought Jacques de Beaune into a room,
and laid him stiff and stark upon a table, not thinking for a moment
that he could be saved.

“Run and fetch a surgeon,” cried Madame de Beaujeu. “Run here, run
there!”

The servants were down the stairs in a trice. The good lady Regent
dispatched her attendants for ointment, for linen to bind the wounds,
for goulard-water, for so many things, that she remained alone. Gazing
upon this splendid and senseless man, she cried aloud, admiring his
presence and his features, handsome even in death. “Ah! God wishes to
punish me. Just for one little time in my life has there been born in
me, and taken possession of me, a naughty idea, and my patron saint is
angry, and deprives me of the sweetest gentleman I have ever seen. By
the rood, and by the soul of my father, I will hang every man who has
had a hand in this!”

“Madame,” cried Jacques de Beaune, springing from the table, and
falling at the feet of the Regent, “I will live to serve you, and am
so little bruised that that I promise you this night as many joys as
there are months in the year, in imitation of the Sieur Hercules, a
pagan baron. For the last twenty days,” he went on (thinking that
matters would be smoothed by a little lying), “I have met you again
and again. I fell madly in love with you, yet dared not, by reason of
my great respect for your person, make an advance. You can imagine how
intoxicated I must have been with your royal beauties, to have
invented the trick to which I owe the happiness of being at your
feet.”

Thereupon he kissed her amorously, and gave her a look that would have
overcome any scruples. The Regent, by means of time, which respects
not queens, was, as everyone knows, in her middle age. In this
critical and autumnal season, women formally virtuous and loveless
desire now here, now there, to enjoy, unknown to the world, certain
hours of love, in order that they may not arrive in the other world
with hands and heart alike empty, through having left the fruit of the
tree of knowledge untasted. The lady of Beaujeu, without appearing to
be astonished while listening to the promises of this young man, since
royal personages ought to be accustomed to having them by dozens, kept
this ambitious speech in the depths of her memory or of her registry
of love, which caught fire at his words. Then she raised the
Tourainian, who still found in his misery the courage to smile at his
mistress, who had the majesty of a full-blown rose, ears like shoes,
and the complexion of a sick cat, but was so well-dressed, so fine in
figure, so royal of foot, and so queenly in carriage, that he might
still find in this affair means to gain his original object.

“Who are you?” said the Regent, putting on the stern look of her
father.

“I am your very faithful subject, Jacques de Beaune, son of your
steward, who has fallen into disgrace in spite of his faithful
services.”

“Ah, well!” replied the lady, “lay yourself on the table again. I hear
someone coming; and it is not fit that my people should think me your
accomplice in this farce and mummery.”

The good fellow perceived, by the soft sound of her voice, that he was
pardoned the enormity of his love. He lay down upon the table again,
and remembered how certain lords had ridden to court in an old stirrup
--a thought which perfectly reconciled him to his present position.

“Good,” said the Regent to her maid-servants, “nothing is needed. This
gentleman is better; thanks to heaven and the Holy Virgin, there will
have been no murder in my house.”

Thus saying, she passed her hand through the locks of the lover who
had fallen to her from the skies, and taking a little reviving water
she bathed his temples, undid his doublet, and under pretence of
aiding his recovery, verified better than an expert how soft and young
was the skin on this young fellow and bold promiser of bliss, and all
the bystanders, men and women, were amazed to see the Regent act thus.
But humanity never misbecomes those of royal blood. Jacques stood up,
and appeared to come to his senses, thanked the Regent most humbly,
and dismissed the physicians, master surgeons, and other imps in
black, saying that he had thoroughly recovered. Then he gave his name,
and saluting Madame de Beaujeu, wished to depart, as though afraid of
her on account of his father’s disgrace, but no doubt horrified at his
terrible vow.

“I cannot permit it,” said she. “Persons who come to my house should
not meet with such treatment as you have encountered. The Sieur de
Beaune will sup here,” she added to her major domo. “He who has so
unduly insulted him will be at his mercy if he makes himself known
immediately; otherwise, I will have him found out and hanged by the
provost.”

Hearing this, the page who had attended the lady during her promenade
stepped forward.

“Madame,” said Jacques, “at my request pray both pardon and reward
him, since to him I owe the felicity of seeing you, the favour of
supping in your company, and perhaps that of getting my father
re-established in the office to which it pleased your glorious
father to appoint him.”

“Well said,” replied the Regent. “D’Estouteville,” said she, turning
towards the page, “I give thee command of a company of archers. But
for the future do not throw things out of the window.”

Then she, delighted with de Beaune, offered him her hand, and led him
most gallantly into her room, where they conversed freely together
while supper was being prepared. There the Sieur Jacques did not fail
to exhibit his talents, justify his father, and raise himself in the
estimation of the lady, who, as is well known, was like a father in
disposition, and did everything at random. Jacques de Beaune thought
to himself that it would be rather difficult for him to remain all
night with the Regent. Such matters are not so easily arranged as the
amours of cats, who have always a convenient refuge upon the housetops
for their moments of dalliance. So he rejoiced that he was known to
the Regent without being compelled to fulfil his rash promise, since
for this to be carried out it was necessary that the servants and
others should be out of the way, and her reputation safe.
Nevertheless, suspecting the powers of intrigue of the good lady, at
times he would ask himself if he were equal to the task. But beneath
the surface of conversation, the same thing was in the mind of the
Regent, who had already managed affairs quite as difficult, and she
began most cleverly to arrange the means. She sent for one of her
secretaries, an adept in all arts necessary for the perfect government
of a kingdom, and ordered him to give her secretly a false message
during the supper. Then came the repast, which the lady did not touch,
since her heart had swollen like a sponge, and so diminished her
stomach, for she kept thinking of this handsome and desirable man,
having no appetite save for him. Jacques did not fail to make a good
meal for many reasons. The messenger came, madame began to storm, and
to knit her brows after the manner of the late king, and to say, “Is
there never to be peace in this land? Pasques Dieu! can we not have
one quiet evening?” Then she rose and strode about the room. “Ho
there! My horse! Where is Monsieur de Vieilleville, my squire? Ah, he
is in Picardy. D’Estouteville, you will rejoin me with my household at
the Chateau d’Amboise....” And looking at Jacques, she said, “You
shall be my squire, Sieur de Beaune. You wish to serve the state. The
occasion is a good one. Pasques Dieu! come! There are rebels to
subdue, and faithful knights are needed.”

In less time than an old beggar would have taken to say thank you, the
horses were bridled, saddled, and ready. Madame was on her mare, and
the Tourainian at her side, galloping at full speed to her castle at
Amboise, followed by the men-at-arms. To be brief and come to the
facts without further commentary, the De Beaune was lodged not twenty
yards from Madame, far from prying eyes. The courtiers and the
household, much astonished, ran about inquiring from what quarter the
danger might be expected; but our hero, taken at his word, knew well
enough where to find it. The virtue of the Regent, well known in the
kingdom, saved her from suspicion, since she was supposed to be as
impregnable as the Chateau de Peronne. At curfew, when everything was
shut, both ears and eyes, and the castle silent, Madame de Beaujeu
sent away her handmaid, and called for her squire. The squire came.
Then the lady and the adventurer sat side by side upon a velvet couch,
in the shadow of a lofty fireplace, and the curious Regent, with a
tender voice, asked of Jacques “Are you bruised? It was very wrong of
me to make a knight, wounded by one on my servants, ride twelve miles.
I was so anxious about it that I would not go to bed without having
seen you. Do you suffer?”

“I suffer with impatience,” said he of the dozen, thinking it would
not do to appear reluctant. “I see well,” continued he, “my noble and
beautiful mistress, that your servant has found favour in your sight.”

“There, there!” replied she; “did you not tell a story when you
said--”

“What?” said he.

“Why, that you had followed me dozens of times to churches, and other
places to which I went.”

“Certainly,” said he.

“I am astonished,” replied the Regent, “never to have seen until today
a noble youth whose courage is so apparent in his countenance. I am
not ashamed of that which you heard me say when I believed you dead.
You are agreeable to me, you please me, and you wish to do well.”

Then the hour of the dreaded sacrifice having struck, Jacques fell at
the knees of the Regent, kissed her feet, her hands, and everything,
it is said; and while kissing her, previous to retirement, proved by
many arguments to the aged virtue of his sovereign, that a lady
bearing the burden of the state had a perfect right to enjoy herself
--a theory which was not directly admitted by the Regent, who
determined to be forced, in order to throw the burden of this sin upon
her lover. This notwithstanding, you may be sure that she had highly
perfumed and elegantly attired herself for the night, and shone with
desire for embraces, for desire lent her a high colour which greatly
improved her complexion; and in spite of her feeble resistance she was,
like a young girl, carried by assault in her royal couch, where the
good lady and her young dozener, embraced each other. Then from play to
quarrel, quarrel to riot, from riot to ribaldry, from thread to needle,
the Regent declared that she believed more in the virginity of the Holy
Mary than in the promised dozen. Now, by chance, Jacques de Beaune did
not find this great lady so very old between the sheets, since
everything is metamorphosed by the light of the lamps of the night.
Many women of fifty by day are twenty at midnight, as others are
twenty at mid-day and a hundred after vespers. Jacques, happier at
this sight than at that of the King on a hanging day, renewed his
undertaking. Madame, herself astonished, promised every assistance on
her part. The manor of Azay-le-Brule, with a good title thereto, she
undertook to confer upon her cavalier, as well as the pardon of his
father, if from this encounter she came forth vanquished, then the
clever fellows said to himself, “This is to save my father from
punishment! this for the fief! this for the letting and selling! this
for the forest of Azay! item for the right of fishing! another for the
Isles of the Indre! this for the meadows! I may as well release from
confiscation our land of La Carte, so dearly bought by my father! Once
more for a place at court!” Arriving without hindrance at this point,
he believed his dignity involved, and fancied that having France under
him, it was a question of the honour of the crown. In short, at the
cost of a vow which he made to his patron, Monsieur St. Jacques, to
build him a chapel at Azay, he presented his liege homage to the
Regent eleven clear, clean, limpid, and genuine periphrases.
Concerning the epilogue of this slow conversation, the Tourainian had
the great self-confidence to wish excellently to regale the Regent,
keeping for her on her waking the salute of an honest man, as it was
necessary for the lord of Azay to thank his sovereign, which was
wisely thought. But when nature is oppressed, she acts like a spirited
horse, lays down, and will die under the whip sooner than move until
it pleases her to rise reinvigorated. Thus, when in the morning the
seignior of the castle of Azay desired to salute the daughter of King
Louis XI., he was constrained, in spite of his courtesy, to make the
salute as royal salutes should be made--with blank cartridge only.
Therefore the Regent, after getting up, and while she was breakfasting
with Jacques, who called himself the legitimate Lord of Azay, seized
the occasion of this insufficiency to contradict her esquire, and
pretend, that as he had not gained his wager, he had not earned the
manor.

“Ventre-Saint-Paterne! I have been near enough,” said Jacques. “But my
dear lady and noble sovereign it is not proper for either you or me to
judge in this cause. The case being an allodial case, must be brought
before your council, since the fief of Azay is held from the crown.”

“Pasques dieu!” replied the Regent with a forced laugh. “I give you
the place of the Sieur de Vieilleville in my house. Don’t trouble
about your father. I will give you Azay, and will place you in a royal
office if you can, without injury to my honour, state the case in full
council; but if one word falls to the damage of my reputation as a
virtuous women, I--”

“May I be hanged,” said Jacques, turning the thing into a joke,
because there was a shade of anger in the face of Madame de Beaujeu.

In fact, the daughter of King Louis thought more of her royalty than
of the roguish dozen, which she considered as nothing, since fancying
she had had her night’s amusement without loosening her purse-strings,
she preferred the difficult recital of his claim to another dozen
offered her by the Tourainian.

“Then, my lady,” replied her good companion, “I shall certainly be
your squire.”

The captains, secretaries, and other persons holding office under the
regency, astonished at the sudden departure of Madame de Beaujeu,
learned the cause of her anxiety, and came in haste to the castle of
Amboise to discover whence preceded the rebellion, and were in
readiness to hold a council when her Majesty had arisen. She called
them together, not to be suspected of having deceived them, and gave
them certain falsehoods to consider, which they considered most
wisely. At the close of the sitting, came the new squire to accompany
his mistress. Seeing the councillors rising, the bold Tourainian
begged them to decide a point of law which concerned both himself and
the property of the Crown.

“Listen to him,” said the Regent. “He speaks truly.”

Then Jacques de Beaune, without being nervous at the sight of this
august court, spoke as follows, or thereabouts:--“Noble Lords, I beg
you, although I am about to speak to you of walnut shells, to give
your attention to this case, and pardon me the trifling nature of my
language. One lord was walking with another in a fruit garden, and
noticed a fine walnut tree, well planted, well grown, worth looking
at, worth keeping, although a little empty; a nut tree always fresh,
sweet-smelling, the tree which you would not leave if you once saw it,
a tree of love which seemed the tree of good and evil, forbidden by
the Lord, through which were banished our mother Eve and the gentleman
her husband. Now, my lords, this said walnut tree was the subject of a
slight dispute between the two, and one of those many wagers which are
occasionally made between friends. The younger boasted that he could
throw twelve times through it a stick which he had in his hand at the
time--as many people have who walk in a garden--and with each flight
of the stick he would send a nut to the ground--”

“That is, I believe the knotty point of the case,” said Jacques
turning towards the Regent.

“Yes, gentlemen,” replied she, surprised at the craft of her squire.

“The other wagered to the contrary,” went on the pleader. “Now the
first named throws his stick with such precision of aim, so gently,
and so well that both derived pleasure therefrom, and by the joyous
protection of the saints, who no doubt were amused spectators, with
each throw there fell a nut; in fact, there fell twelve. But by chance
the last of the fallen nuts was empty, and had no nourishing pulp from
which could have come another nut tree, had the gardener planted it.
Has the man with the stick gained his wager? Judge.”

“The thing is clear enough,” said Messire Adam Fumee, a Tourainian,
who at that time was the keeper of the seals. “There is only one thing
for the other to do.”

“What is that?” said the Regent.

“To pay the wager, Madame.”

“He is rather too clever,” said she, tapping her squire on the cheek.
“He will be hanged one of these days.”

She meant it as a joke, but these words were the real horoscope of the
steward, who mounted the gallows by the ladder of royal favour,
through the vengeance of another old woman, and the notorious treason
of a man of Ballan, his secretary, whose fortune he had made, and
whose name was Prevost, and not Rene Gentil, as certain persons have
wrongly called him. The Ganelon and bad servant gave, it is said, to
Madame d’Angouleme, the receipt for the money which had been given him
by Jacques de Beaune, then become Baron of Samblancay, lord of La
Carte and Azay, and one of the foremost men in the state. Of his two
sons, one was Archbishop of Tours the other Minister of Finance and
Governor of Touraine. But this is not the subject of the present
history.

Now that which concerns the present narrative, is that Madame de
Beaujeu, to whom the pleasure of love had come rather late in the day,
well pleased with the great wisdom and knowledge of public affairs
which her chance lover possessed, made him Lord of the Privy Purse, in
which office he behaved so well, and added so much to the contents of
it, that his great renown procured for him one day the handling of the
revenues which he superintended and controlled most admirably, and
with great profit to himself, which was but fair. The good Regent paid
the bet, and handed over to her squire the manor of Azay-le-Brule, of
which the castle had long before been demolished by the first
bombardiers who came from Touraine, as everyone knows. For this
powdery miracle, but for the intervention of the king, the said
engineers would have been condemned as heretics and abettors of Satan,
by the ecclesiastical tribune of the chapter.

At this time there was being built with great care by Messire Bohier,
Minister of Finance, the Castle of Chenonceaux, which as a curiosity
and novel design, was placed right across the river Cher.

Now the Baron de Samblancay, wishing to oppose the said Bohier,
determined to lay the foundation of this at the bottom of the Indre,
where it still stands, the gem of this fair green valley, so solidly
was it placed upon the piles. It cost Jacques de Beaune thirty
thousand crowns, not counting the work done by his vassals. You may
take it for granted this castle was one of the finest, prettiest, most
exquisite and most elaborate castles of our sweet Touraine, and laves
itself in the Indre like a princely creature, gayly decked with
pavilions and lace curtained windows, with fine weather-beaten
soldiers on her vanes, turning whichever way the wind blows, as all
soldiers do. But Samblancay was hanged before it was finished, and
since that time no one has been found with sufficient money to
complete it. Nevertheless, his master, King Francis the First, was
once his guest, and the royal chamber is still shown there. When the
king was going to bed, Samblancay, whom the king called “old fellow,”
 in honour of his white hairs, hearing his royal master, to whom he was
devotedly attached, remark, “Your clock has just struck twelve, old
fellow!” replied, “Ah! sire, to twelve strokes of a hammer, an old one
now, but years ago a good one, at this hour of the clock do I owe my
lands, the money spent on this place, and honour of being in your
service.”

The king wished to know what his minister meant by these strange
words; and when his majesty was getting into bed, Jacques de Beaune
narrated to him the history with which you are acquainted. Now Francis
the First, who was partial to these spicy stories, thought the
adventure a very droll one, and was the more amused thereat because at
that time his mother, the Duchess d’Angouleme, in the decline of life,
was pursuing the Constable of Bourbon, in order to obtain of him one
of these dozens. Wicked love of a wicked woman, for therefrom
proceeded the peril of the kingdom, the capture of the king, and the
death--as has been before mentioned--of poor Samblancay.

I have here endeavoured to relate how the Chateau d’Azay came to be
built, because it is certain that thus was commenced the great fortune
of that Samblancay who did so much for his natal town, which he
adorned; and also spent such immense sums upon the completion of the
towers of the cathedral. This lucky adventure has been handed down
from father to son, and lord to lord, in the said place of
Azay-les-Ridel, where the story frisks still under the curtains of the
king, which have been curiously respected down to the present day. It is
therefore the falsest of falsities which attributes the dozen of the
Tourainian to a German knight, who by this deed would have secured the
domains of Austria to the House of Hapsburgh. The author of our days,
who brought this history to light, although a learned man, has allowed
himself to be deceived by certain chroniclers, since the archives of
the Roman Empire make no mention of an acquisition of this kind. I am
angry with him for having believed that a “braguette” nourished with
beer, could have been equal to the alchemical operations of the
Chinonian “braguettes,” so much esteemed by Rabelais. And I have for
the advantage of the country, the glory of Azay, the conscience of the
castle, and renown of the House of Beaune, from which sprang the
Sauves and the Noirmoutiers, re-established the facts in all their
veritable, historical, and admirable beauty. Should any ladies pay a
visit to the castle, there are still dozens to be found in the
neighbourhood, but they can only be procured retail.



                        THE FALSE COURTESAN

That which certain people do not know, is a the truth concerning the
decease of the Duke of Orleans, brother of King Charles VI., a death
which proceeded from a great number of causes, one of which will be
the subject of this narrative. This prince was for certain the most
lecherous of all the royal race of Monseigneur St. Louis (who was in
his life time King of France), without even putting on one side some
of the most debauched of this fine family, which was so concordant
with the vices and especial qualities of our brave and
pleasure-seeking nation, that you could more easily imagine Hell
without Satan than France without her valorous, glorious, and jovial
kings. So you can laugh as loudly at those muckworms of philosophy who
go about saying, “Our fathers were better,” as at the good,
philanthropical old bunglers who pretend that mankind is on the right
road to perfection. These are old blind bats, who observe neither the
plumage of oysters nor the shells of birds, which change no more than
our ways. Hip, hip, huzzah! then, make merry while you’re young. Keep
your throats wet and your eyes dry, since a hundredweight of melancholy
is worth less than an ounce of jollity. The wrong doings of this lord,
lover of Queen Isabella, whom he doted upon, brought about pleasant
adventures, since he was a great wit, of Alcibaidescal nature, and a
chip off the old block. It was he who first conceived the idea of a
relay of sweethearts, so that when he went from Paris to Bordeaux,
every time he unsettled his nag he found ready for him a good meal and
a bed with as much lace inside as out. Happy Prince! who died on
horseback, for he was always across something in-doors and out. Of his
comical jokes our most excellent King Louis the Eleventh has given a
splendid sample in the book of “Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles,” written under
his superintendence during his exile, at the Court of Burgundy, where,
during the long evenings, in order to amuse themselves, he and his
cousin Charolois would relate to each other the good tricks and jokes
of the period; and when they were hard up for true stories, each of
the courtiers tried who could invent the best one. But out of respect
for the royal blood, the Dauphin has credited a townsman with that
which happened to the Lady of Cany. It is given under the title of “La
Medaille a revers”, in the collection of which it is one of the
brightest jewels, and commences the hundred. But now for mine.

The Duc d’Orleans had in his suite a lord of the province of Picardy,
named Raoul d’Hocquetonville, who had taken for a wife, to the future
trouble of the prince, a young lady related to the house of Burgundy,
and rich in domains. But, an exception to the general run of
heiresses, she was of so dazzling a beauty, that all the ladies of the
court, even the Queen and Madame Valentine, were thrown into the
shade; nevertheless, this was as nothing in the lady of
Hocquetonville, compared with her Burgundian consanguinity, her
inheritances, her prettiness, and gentle nature, because these rare
advantages received a religious lustre from her supreme innocence,
sweet modesty, and chaste education. The Duke had not long gazed upon
this heaven-sent flower before he was seized with the fever of love.
He fell into a state of melancholy, frequented no bad places, and only
with regret now and then did he take a bite at his royal and dainty
German morsel Isabella. He became passionate, and swore either by
sorcery, by force, by trickery, or with her consent, to enjoy the
flavours of this gentle lady, who, by the sight of her sweet body,
forced him to the last extremity, during his now long and weary
nights. At first, he pursued her with honied words, but he soon knew
by her untroubled air that she was determined to remain virtuous, for
without appearing astonished at his proceedings, or getting angry like
certain other ladies, she replied to him, “My lord, I must inform you
that I do not desire to trouble myself with the love of other persons,
not that I despise the joys which are therein to be experienced (as
supreme they must be, since so many ladies cast into the abyss of love
their homes, their honour, their future, and everything), but from the
love I bear my children. Never would I be the cause of a blush upon
their cheeks, for in this idea will I bring up my daughters--that in
virtue alone is happiness to be found. For, my lord, if the days of
our old age are more numerous than those of our youth, of them must we
think. From those who brought me up I learned to properly estimate
this life, and I know that everything therein is transitory, except
the security of the natural affections. Thus I wish for the esteem of
everyone, and above all that of my husband, who is all the world to
me. Therefore do I desire to appear honest in his sight. I have
finished, and I entreat you to allow me unmolested to attend to my
household affairs, otherwise I will unhesitatingly refer the matter to
my lord and master, who will quit your service.”

This brave reply rendered the king’s brother more amorous than ever,
and he endeavoured to ensnare this noble woman in order to possess
her, dead or alive, and he never doubted a bit that he would have her
in his clutches, relying upon his dexterity at this kind of sport, the
most joyous of all, in which it is necessary to employ the weapons of
all other kinds of sport, seeing that this sweet game is taken
running, by taking aim, by torchlight, by night, by day, in the town,
in the country, in the woods, by the waterside, in nets, with falcons,
with the lance, with the horn, with the gun, with the decoy bird, in
snares, in the toils, with a bird call, by the scent, on the wing,
with the cornet, in slime, with a bait, with the lime-twig--indeed, by
means of all the snares invented since the banishment of Adam. And
gets killed in various different ways, but generally is overridden.

The artful fellow ceased to mention his desires, but had a post of
honour given to the Lady of Hocquetonville, in the queen’s household.
Now, one day that the said Isabella went to Vincennes, to visit the
sick King, and left him master of the Hotel St. Paul, he commanded the
chef to have a delicate and royal supper prepared, and to serve it in
the queen’s apartments. Then he sent for his obstinate lady by express
command, and by one of the pages of the household. The Countess
d’Hocquetonville, believing that she was desired by Madame Isabella
for some service appertaining to her post, or invited to some sudden
amusement, hastened to the room. In consequence of the precautions
taken by the disloyal lover, no one had been able to inform the noble
dame of the princess’s departure, so she hastened to the splendid
chamber, which, in the Hotel St. Paul, led into the queen’s
bedchamber; there she found the Duc d’Orleans alone. Suspecting some
treacherous plot, she went quickly into the other room, found no
queen, but heard the Prince give vent to a hearty laugh.

“I am undone!” said she. Then she endeavoured to run away.

But the good lady-killer had posted about devoted attendants, who,
without knowing what was going on, closed the hotel, barricaded the
doors, and in this mansion, so large that it equalled a fourth of
Paris, the Lady d’Hocquetonville was as in a desert, with no other aid
than that of her patron saint and God. Then, suspecting the truth, the
poor lady trembled from head to foot and fell into a chair; and then
the working of this snare, so cleverly conceived, was, with many a
hearty laugh, revealed to her by her lover. Directly the duke made a
movement to approach her this woman rose and exclaimed, arming herself
first with her tongue, and flashing one thousand maledictions from her
eyes--

“You will possess me--but dead! Ha! my lord, do not force me to a
struggle which must become known to certain people. I may yet retire,
and the Sire d’Hocquetonville shall be ignorant of the sorrow with
which you have forever tinged my life. Duke, you look too often in the
ladies’ faces to find time to study men’s, and you do not therefore
know your man. The Sire d’Hocquetonville would let himself be hacked
to pieces in your service, so devoted is he to you, in memory of your
kindness to him, and also because he is partial to you. But as he
loves so does he hate; and I believe him to be the man to bring his
mace down upon your head, to take his revenge, if you but compel me to
utter one cry. Do you desire both my death and your own? But be
assured that, as an honest woman, whatever happens to me, good or
evil, I shall keep no secret. Now, will you let me go?”

The bad fellow began to whistle. Hearing his whistling, the good woman
went suddenly into the queen’s chamber, and took from a place known to
her therein, a sharp stiletto. Then, when the duke followed her to
ascertain what this flight meant, “When you pass that line,” cried
she, pointing to a board, “I will kill myself.”

My lord, without being in the least terrified, took a chair, placed it
at the very edge of the plank in question, and commenced a glowing
description of certain things, hoping to influence the mind of this
brave woman, and work her to that point that her brain, her heart, and
everything should be at his mercy. Then he commenced to say to her, in
that delicate manner to which princes are accustomed, that, in the
first place, virtuous women pay dearly for their virtue, since in
order to gain the uncertain blessings of the future, they lose all the
sweetest joys of the present, because husbands were compelled, from
motives of conjugal policy, not show them all the jewels in the shrine
of love, since the said jewels would so affect their hearts, was so
rapturously delicious, so titillatingly voluptuous, that a woman would
no longer consent to dwell in the cold regions of domestic life; and
he declared this marital abomination to be a great felony, because the
least thing a man could do in recognition of the virtuous life of a
good woman and her great merits, was to overwork himself, to exert, to
exterminate himself, to please her in every way, with fondlings and
kissings and wrestlings, and all the delicacies and sweet
confectionery of love; and that, if she would taste a little of the
seraphic joys of these little ways to her unknown, she would believe
all the other things of life as not worth a straw; and that, if such
were her wish, he would forever be as silent as the grave, and last no
scandal would besmear her virtue. And the lewd fellow, perceiving that
the lady did not stop her ears, commenced to describe to her, after
the fashion of arabesque pictures, which at that time were much
esteemed, the wanton inventions of debauchery. Then did his eyes shoot
flame, his words burn, and his voice ring, and he himself took great
pleasure in calling to mind the various ways of his ladies, naming
them to Madame d’Hocquetonville, and even revealing to her the tricks,
caresses, and amorous ways of Queen Isabella, and he made use of
expression so gracious and so ardently inciting, that, fancying it
caused the lady to relax her hold upon the stiletto a little, he made
as if to approach her. But she, ashamed to be found buried in thought,
gazed proudly at the diabolical leviathan who tempted her, and said to
him, “Fine sir, I thank you. You have caused me to love my husband all
the more, for from your discourse I learn how much he esteems me by
holding me in such respect that he does not dishonour his couch with
the tricks of street-walkers and bad women. I should think myself
forever disgraced, and should be contaminated to all eternity if I put
my foot in these sloughs where go these shameless hussies. A man’s
wife is one thing, and his mistress another.”

“I will wager,” said the duke, smiling, “that, nevertheless, for the
future you spur the Sire d’Hocquetonville to a little sharper pace.”

At this the good woman trembled, and cried, “You are a wicked man. Now
I both despise and abominate you! What! unable to rob me of my honour,
you attempt to poison my mind! Ah, my lord, this night’s work will
cost you dear--

    “If I forget it, a yet,
     God will not forget.

“Are not those of verse is yours?”

“Madame,” said the duke, turning pale with anger, “I can have you
bound--”

“Oh no! I can free myself,” replied she, brandishing the stiletto.

The rapscallion began to laugh.

“Never mind,” said he. “I have a means of plunging you into the
sloughs of three brazen hussies, as you call them.”

“Never, while I live.”

“Head and heels you shall go in--with your two feet, two hands, two
ivory breasts, and two other things, white as snow--your teeth, your
hair, and everything. You will go of your own accord; you shall enter
into it lasciviously, and in a way to crush your cavalier, as a wild
horse does its rider--stamping, leaping, and snorting. I swear it by
Saint Castud!”

Instantly he whistled for one of his pages. And when the page came, he
secretly ordered him to go and seek the Sire d’Hocquetonville,
Savoisy, Tanneguy, Cypierre, and other members of his band, asking
them to these rooms to supper, not without at the same time inviting
to meet his guests a pretty petticoat or two.

Then he came and sat down in his chair again, ten paces from the lady,
off whom he had not taken his eye while giving his commands to the
page in a whisper.

“Raoul is jealous,” said he. “Now let me give you a word of advice. In
this place,” he added, pointing to a secret door, “are the oils and
superfine perfumes of the queen; in this other little closet she
performs her ablutions and little feminine offices. I know by much
experience that each one of you gentle creatures has her own special
perfume, by which she is smelt and recognised. So if, as you say,
Raoul is overwhelmingly jealous with the worst of all jealousies, you
will use these fast hussies’ scents, because your danger approaches
fast.”

“Ah, my lord, what do you intend to do?”

“You will know when it is necessary that you should know. I wish you
no harm, and pledge you my honour, as a loyal knight, that I will
almost thoroughly respect you, and be forever silent concerning my
discomfiture. In short, you will know that the Duc d’Orleans has a
good heart, and revenges himself nobly on ladies who treat him with
disdain, by placing in their hands the key of Paradise. Only keep your
ears open to the joyous words that will be handed from mouth to mouth
in the next room, and cough not if you love your children.”

Since there was no egress from the royal chamber, and the bars
crossing hardly left room to put one’s head through, the good prince
closed the door of the room, certain of keeping the lady a safe
prisoner there, and again impressed upon her the necessity of silence.
Then came the merry blades in great haste, and found a good and
substantial supper smiling at them from the silver plates upon the
table, and the table well arranged and well lighted, loaded with fine
silver cups, and cups full of royal wine. Then said their master to
them--

“Come! Come! to your places my good friends. I was becoming very
weary. Thinking of you, I wished to arrange with you a merry feast
after the ancient method, when the Greeks and Romans said their Pater
noster to Master Priapus, and the learned god called in all countries
Bacchus. The feast will be proper and a right hearty one, since at our
libation there will be present some pretty crows with three beaks, of
which I know from great experience the best one to kiss.”

Then all of them recognising their master in all things, took pleasure
in this discourse, except Raoul d’Hocquetonville, who advanced and
said to the prince--

“My lord, I will aid you willingly in any battle but that of the
petticoats, in that of spear and axe, but not of the wine flasks. My
good companions here present have not wives at home, it is otherwise
with me. I have a sweet wife, to whom I owe my company, and an account
of all my deeds and actions.”

“Then, since I am a married man I am to blame?” said the duke.

“Ah! my dear master, you are a prince, and can do as you please.”

These brave speeches made, as you can imagine, the heart of the lady
prisoner hot and cold.

“Ah! my Raoul,” thought she, “thou art a noble man!”

“You are,” said the duke, “a man whom I love, and consider more
faithful and praiseworthy than any of my people. The others,” said he,
looking at the three lords, “are wicked men. But, Raoul,” he
continued, “sit thee down. When the linnets come--they are linnets of
high degree--you can make your way home. S’death! I had treated thee
as a virtuous man, ignorant of the extra-conjugal joys of love, and
had carefully put for thee in that room the queen of raptures--a fair
demon, in whom is concentrated all feminine inventions. I wished that
once in thy life thou, who has never tasted the essence of love, and
dreamed but of war, should know the secret marvels of the gallant
amusement, since it is shameful that one of my followers should serve
a fair lady badly.”

Thereupon the Sire d’Hocquetonville sat down to a table in order to
please his prince as far as he could lawfully do so. Then they all
commenced to laugh, joke, and talk about the ladies; and according to
their custom, they related to each other their good fortunes and their
love adventures, sparing no woman except the queen of the house, and
betraying the little habits of each one, to which followed horrible
little confidences, which increased in treachery and lechery as the
contents of the goblets grew less. The duke, gay as a universal
legatee, drew the guests out, telling lies himself to learn the truth
from them; and his companions ate at a trot, drank at a full gallop,
and their tongues rattled away faster than either.

Now, listening to them, and heating his brain with wine, the Sire
d’Hocquetonville unharnessed himself little by little from the
reluctance. In spite of his virtues, he indulged certain desires, and
became soaked in these impurities like a saint who defiles himself
while saying his prayers. Perceiving which, the prince, on the alert
to satisfy his ire and his bile, began to say to him, joking him--

“By Saint Castud, Raoul, we are all tarred with the same brush, all
discreet away from here. Go; we will say nothing to Madame. By heaven!
man, I wish thee to taste of the joys of paradise. There,” said he,
tapping the door of the room in which was Madame d’Hocquetonville, “in
there is a lady of the court and a friend of the queen, but the
greatest priestess of Venus that ever was, and her equal is not to be
found in any courtesan, harlot, dancer, doxy, or hussy. She was
engendered at a moment when paradise was radiant with joy, when nature
was procreating, when the planets were whispering vows of love, when
the beasts were frisking and capering, and everything was aglow with
desire. Although the women make an altar of her bed, she is
nevertheless too great a lady to allow herself to be seen, and too
well known to utter any words but the sounds of love. No light will
you need, for her eyes flash fire, and attempt no conversation, since
she speaks only with movements and twistings more rapid than those of
a deer surprised in the forest. Only, my dear Raoul, but so merry a
nag look to your stirrups, sit light in the saddle, since with one
plunge she would hurl thee to the ceiling, if you are not careful. She
burns always, and is always longing for male society. Our poor dead
friend, the young Sire de Giac, met his death through her; she drained
his marrow in one springtime. God’s truth! to know such bliss as that
of which she rings the bells and lights the fires, what man would not
forfeit a third of his future happiness? and he who has known her once
would for a second night forfeit without regret eternity.”

“But,” said Raoul, “in things which should be so much alike, how is it
that there is so great a difference?”

“Ha! Ha! Ha!”

Thereupon the company burst out laughing, and animated by the wine and
a wink from their master, they all commenced relating droll and quaint
conceits, laughing, shouting, and making a great noise. Now, knowing
not that an innocent scholar was there, these jokers, who had drowned
their sense of shame in the wine-cups, said things to make the figures
on the mantel shake, the walls and the ceilings blush; and the duke
surpassed them all, saying, that the lady who was in bed in the next
room awaiting a gallant should be the empress of these warm
imaginations, because she practised them every night. Upon this the
flagons being empty, the duke pushed Raoul, who let himself be pushed
willingly, into the room, and by this means the prince compelled the
lady to deliberate by which dagger she would live or die. At midnight
the Sire d’Hocquetonville came out gleefully, not without remorse at
having been false to his good wife. Then the Duc d’Orleans led Madame
d’Hocquetonville out by a garden door, so that she gained her
residence before her husband arrived here.

“This,” said she, in the prince’s ear, as she passed the postern,
“will cost us all dear.”

One year afterwards, in the old Rue du Temple, Raoul d’Hocquetonville,
who had quitted the service of the Duke for that of Jehan of Burgundy,
gave the king’s brother a blow on the head with a club, and killed
him, as everyone knows. In the same year died the Lady
d’Hocquetonville, having faded like a flower deprived of air and eaten
by a worm. Her good husband had engraved upon her marble tomb, which
is in one of the cloisters of Peronne, the following inscription--


                             HERE LIES
                        BERTHA DE BOURGONGE
                     THE NOBLE AND COMELY WIFE
                                 OF
                   RAOUL, SIRE DE HOCQUETONVILLE.

                    ALAS! PRAY NOT FOR HER SOUL
                                SHE
                    BLOSSOMED AGAIN IN PARADISE
                    THE ELEVENTH DAY OF JANUARY
                IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD MCCCCVIII.,
                IN THE TWENTY-THIRD YEAR OF HER AGE,
                LEAVING TWO SONS AND HER LORD SPOUSE
                            INCONSOLABLE.


This epitaph was written in elegant Latin, but for the convenience of
all it was necessary to translate it, although the word comely is
feeble beside that of formosa, which signifies beautiful in shape. The
Duke of Burgundy, called the Fearless, in whom previous to his death
the Sire d’Hocquetonville confided the troubles cemented with lime and
sand in his heart, used to say, in spite of his hardheartedness in
these matters, that this epitaph plunged him into a state of
melancholy for a month, and that among all the abominations of his
cousin of Orleans, there was one for which he would kill him over
again if the deed had not already been done, because this wicked man
had villianously defaced with vice the most divine virtue in the world
and had prostituted two noble hearts, the one by the other. When
saying this he would think of the lady of Hocquetonville and of his
own, which portrait had been unwarrantably placed in the cabinet where
his cousin placed the likeness of his wenches.

The adventure was so extremely shocking, that when it was related by
the Count de Charolois to the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XI., the
latter would not allow his secretaries to publish it in his
collection, out of respect for his great uncle the Duke d’Orleans, and
for Dunois his old comrade, the son of the same. But the person of the
lady of Hocquetonville is so sublimely virtuous, so exquisitely
melancholy, that in her favour the present publication of this
narrative will be forgiven, in spite of the diabolical invention and
vengeance of Monseigneur d’Orleans. The just death of this rascal
nevertheless caused many serious rebellions, which finally Louis XI.,
losing all patience, put down with fire and sword.

This shows us that there is a woman at the bottom of everything, in
France as elsewhere, and that sooner or later we must pay for our
follies.



                  THE DANGER OF BEING TOO INNOCENT

The Lord of Montcontour was a brave soldier of Tours, who in honour of
the battle gained by the Duke of Anjou, afterwards our right glorious
king, caused to be built at Vouvray the castle thus named, for he had
borne himself most bravely in that affair, where he overcame the
greatest of heretics, and from that was authorised to take the name.
Now this said captain had two sons, good Catholics, of whom the eldest
was in favour at court. After the peace, which was concluded before
the stratagem arranged for St Bartholomew’s Day, the good man returned
to his manor, which was not ornamented as it is at the present day.
There he received the sad announcement of the death of his son, slain
in a duel by the lord of Villequier. The poor father was the more cut
up at this, as he had arranged a capital marriage for the said son
with a young lady of the male branch of Amboise. Now, by this death
most piteously inopportune, vanished all the future and advantages of
his family, of which he wished to make a great and noble house. With
this idea, he had put his other son in a monastery, under the guidance
and government of a man renowned for his holiness, who brought him up
in a Christian manner, according to the desire of his father, who
wished from high ambition to make him a cardinal of renown. For this
the good abbot kept the young man in a private house, and had to sleep
by his side in his cell, allowed no evil weeds to grow in his mind,
brought him up in purity of soul and true condition, as all priests
should be. This said clerk, when turned nineteen years, knew no other
love than the love of God, no other nature than that of the angels who
had not our carnal properties, in order that they may live in purity,
seeing that otherwise they would make good use of them. The which the
King on high, who wished to have His pages always proper, was afraid
of. He has done well, because His good little people cannot drink in
dram shops or riot in brothels as ours do. He is divinely served; but
then remember, He is Lord of all. Now in this plight the lord of
Montcontour determined to withdraw his second son from the cloister,
and invest him with the purple of the soldier and courtier, in the
place of the ecclesiastical purple; and determined to give him in
marriage to the maiden, affianced to the dead man, which was wisely
determined because wrapped round with continence and sobriety in all
ways as was the little monk, the bride would be as well used and
happier than she would have been with the elder, already well hauled
over, upset, and spoiled by the ladies of the court. The befrocked,
unfrocked, and very sheepish in his ways, followed the sacred wishes
of his father, and consented to the said marriage without knowing what
a wife, and--what is more curious--what a girl was. By chance, his
journey having been hindered by the troubles and marches of
conflicting parties, this innocent--more innocent than it is lawful
for a man to be innocent--only came to the castle of Montcontour the
evening before the wedding, which was performed with dispensations
bought in by the archbishopric of Tours. It is necessary here to
describe the bride. Her mother, long time a widow, lived in the House
of M. de Braguelongne, civil lieutenant of the Chatelet de Paris,
whose wife lived with lord of Lignieres, to the great scandal of the
period. But everyone then had so many joists in his own eye that he
had no right to notice the rafters in the eyes of others. Now, in all
families people go to perdition, without noticing their neighbours,
some at an amble, others at a gentle trot, many at a gallop, and a
small number walking, seeing that the road is all downhill. Thus in
these times the devil had many a good orgy in all things, since that
misconduct was fashionable. The poor old lady Virtue had retired
trembling, no one knew whither, but now here, now there, lived
miserably in company with honest women.

In the most noble house Amboise there still lived the Dowager of
Chaumont, an old woman of well proved virtue, in whom had retired all
the religion and good conduct of this fine family. The said lady had
taken to her bosom, from the age of ten years, the little maiden who
is concerned in this adventure, and who had never caused Madame
Amboise the least anxiety, but left her free in her movements, and she
came to see her daughter once a year, when the court passed that way.
In spite of this high maternal reserve, Madame Amboise was invited to
her daughter’s wedding, and also the lord of Braguelongne, by the good
old soldier, who knew his people. But the dear dowager came not to
Montcontour, because she could not obtain relief from her sciatica,
her cold, nor the state of her legs, which gamboled no longer. Over
this the good woman cried copiously. It hurt her much to let go into
the dangers of the court and of life this gentle maiden, as pretty as
it was possible for a pretty girl to be, but she was obliged to give
her her wings. But it was not without promising her many masses and
orisons every evening for her happiness. And comforted a little, the
good old lady began to think that the staff of her old age was passing
into the hands of a quasi-saint, brought up to do good by the
above-mentioned abbot, with whom she was acquainted, the which had
aided considerably in the prompt exchange of spouses. At length,
embracing her with tears, the virtuous dowager made those last
recommendations to her that ladies make to young brides, as that she
ought to be respectful to his mother, and obey her husband in
everything.

Then the maid arrived with a great noise, conducted by servants,
chamberlains, grooms, gentlemen, and people of the house of Chaumont,
so that you would have imagined her suite to be that of a cardinal
legate. So arrived the two spouses the evening before marriage. Then,
the feasting over, they were married with great pomp on the Lord’s
Day, a mass being said at the castle by the Bishop of Blois, who was a
great friend of the lord of Montcontour; in short, the feasting, the
dancing, and the festivities of all sorts lasted till the morning. But
on the stroke of midnight the bridesmaids went to put the bride to
bed, according to the custom of Touraine; and during this time they
kept quarrelling with the innocent husband, to prevent him going to
this innocent wife, who sided with them from ignorance. However, the
good lord of Montcontour interrupted the jokers and the wits, because
it was necessary that his son should occupy himself in well-doing.
Then went the innocent into the chamber of his wife, whom he thought
more beautiful than the Virgin Mary painted in Italian, Flemish, and
other pictures, at whose feet he had said his prayers. But you may be
sure he felt very much embarrassed at having so soon become a husband,
because he knew nothing of his business, and saw that certain forms
had to be gone through concerning which from great and modest reserve,
he had no time to question even his father, who had said sharply to
him--

“You know what you have to do; be valiant therein.”

Then he saw the gentle girl who was given him, comfortably tucked up
in the bedclothes, terribly curious, her head buried under, but
hazarding a glance as at the point of a halberd, and saying to
herself--

“I must obey him.”

And knowing nothing, she awaited the will of this slightly
ecclesiastical gentleman, to whom, in fact, she belonged. Seeing
which, the Chevalier de Montcontour came close to the bed, scratched
his ear, and knelt down, a thing in which he was expert.

“Have you said your prayers?” said he.

“No,” said she; “I have forgotten them. Do wish me to say them?”

Then the young couple commenced the business of a housekeeping by
imploring God, which was not at all out of place. But unfortunately
the devil heard, and at once replied to their requests, God being much
occupied at that time with the new and abominable reformed religion.

“What did they tell you to do?” said the husband.

“To love you,” said she, in perfect innocence.

“This has not been told to me; but I love you, I am ashamed to say,
better than I love God.”

This speech did not alarm the bride.

“I should like,” said the husband, “to repose myself in your bed, if
it will not disturb you.”

“I will make room for you willingly because I am to submit myself to
you.”

“Well,” said he, “don’t look at me again. I’m going to take my clothes
off, and come.”

At this virtuous speech, the young damsel turned herself towards the
wall in great expectation, seeing that it was for the very first time
that she was about to find herself separated from a man by the
confines of a shirt only. Then came the innocent, gliding into bed,
and thus they found themselves, so to speak, united, but far from what
you can imagine what. Did you ever see a monkey brought from across
the seas, who for the first time is given a nut to crack? This ape,
knowing by high apish imagination how delicious is the food hidden
under the shell, sniffs and twists himself about in a thousand apish
ways, saying, I know not what, between his chattering jaws. Ah! with
what affection he studies it, with what study he examines it, in what
examination he holds it, then throws it, rolls and tosses it about
with passion, and often, when it is an ape of low extraction and
intelligence, leaves the nut. As much did the poor innocent who,
towards the dawn, was obliged to confess to his dear wife that, not
knowing how to perform his office, or what that office was, or where
to obtain the said office, it would be necessary for him to inquire
concerning it, and have help and aid.

“Yes,” said she; “since, unhappily, I cannot instruct you.”

In fact, in spite of their efforts, essay of all kinds--in spite of a
thousand things which the innocents invent, and which the wise in
matters of love know nothing about--the pair dropped off to sleep,
wretched at having been unable to discover the secret of marriage. But
they wisely agreed to say that they had done so. When the wife got up,
still a maiden, seeing that she had not been crowned, she boasted of
her night, and said she had the king of husbands, and went on with her
chattering and repartee as briskly as those who know nothing of these
things. Then everyone found the maiden a little too sharp, since for a
two-edged joke a lady of Roche-Corbon having incited a young maiden,
de la Bourdaisiere, who knew nothing of such things, to ask the
bride--

“How many loaves did your husband put in the oven?”

“Twenty-four,” she replied.

Now, as the bridegroom was roaming sadly about, thereby distressing
his wife, who followed him with her eyes, hoping to see his state of
innocence come to an end, the ladies believed that the joy of that
night had cost him dear, and that the said bride was already
regretting having so quickly ruined him. And at breakfast came the bad
jokes, which at that time were relished as excellent, one said that
the bride had an open expression; another, that there had been some
good strokes of business done that night in the castle; this one, that
the oven had been burned; that one that the two families have lost
something that night that they would never find again. And a thousand
other jokes, stupidities, and double meanings that, unfortunately the
husband did not understand. But on account of the great affluence of
the relations, neighbours, and others, no one had been to bed; all had
danced, rollicked, and frolicked, as is the custom at noble weddings.

At this was quite contented my said Sieur de Braguelongne, upon whom
my lady of Amboise, excited by the thought of the good things which
were happening to her daughter, cast the glances of a falcon in
matters of gallant assignation. The poor Lieutenant civil, learned in
bailiffs’ men and sergeants, and who nabbed all the pickpockets and
scamps of Paris, pretended not to see his good fortune, although his
good lady required him to do. You may be sure this great lady’s love
weighed heavily upon him, so he only kept to her from a spirit of
justice, because it was not seeming in a lieutenant judiciary to
change his mistresses as often as a man at court, because he had under
his charge morals, the police and religion. This not withstanding his
rebellion must come to an end. On the day after the wedding a great
number of the guests departed; then Madame d’Amboise and Monsieur de
Braguelongne could go to bed, their guests having decamped. Sitting
down to supper, the lieutenant received a half-verbal summons to which
it was not becoming, as in legal matters, to oppose any reasons for
delay.

During supper the said lady d’Amboise made more than a hundred little
signs in order to draw the good Braguelongne from the room where he
was with the bride, but out came instead of the lieutenant the
husband, to walk about in company with the mother of his sweet wife.
Now, in the mind of this innocent there had sprung up like a mushroom
an expedient--namely, to interrogate this good lady, whom he
considered discreet, for remembering the religious precepts of his
abbot, who had told him to inquire concerning all things of old people
expert in the ways of life, he thought of confiding his case to the
said lady d’Amboise. But he made first awkwardly and shyly certain
twists and turns, finding no terms in which to unfold his case. And
the lady was also perfectly silent, since she was outrageously struck
with the blindness, deafness and voluntary paralysis of the lord of
Braguelongne; and said to herself, walking by the side of this
delicate morsel, a young innocent of whom she did not think, little
imagining that this cat so well provided with young bacon could think
of old--

“This Ho, Ho, with a beard of flies’ legs, a flimsy, old, grey,
ruined, shaggy beard--beard without comprehension, beard without
shame, without any feminine respect--beard which pretends neither to
feel nor to hear, nor to see, a pared away beard, a beaten down,
disordered, gutted beard. May the Italian sickness deliver me from
this vile joker with a squashed nose, fiery nose, frozen nose, nose
without religion, nose dry as a lute table, pale nose, nose without a
soul, nose which is nothing but a shadow; nose which sees not, nose
wrinkled like the leaf of a vine; nose that I hate, old nose, nose
full of mud--dead nose. Where had my eyes been to attach myself to
truffle nose, to this old hulk that no longer knows his way? I give my
share to the devil of this juiceless beard, of this grey beard, of
this monkey face, of these old tatters, of this old rag of a man, of
this--I know not what; and I’ll take a young husband who’ll marry me
properly, and . . . and often--every day--and well--”

In this wise train of thought was she when the innocent began his
anthem to this woman, so warmly excited, who at the first paraphrase
took fire in her understanding, like a piece of old touchwood from the
carbine of a soldier; and finding it wise to try her son-in-law, said
to herself--

“Ah! young beard, sweet scented! Ah! pretty new nose--fresh beard
--innocent nose--virgin appeared--nose full of joy it--beard of
springtime, small key of love!”

She kept on talking the round of the garden, which was long, and then
arranged with the Innocent that, night come, he should sally forth
from his room and get into hers, where she engaged to render him more
learned than ever was his father. And the husband was well content,
and thanked Madame d’Amboise, begging her to say nothing of this
arrangement.

During this time the good old Braguelongne had been growling and
saying to himself, “Old ha, ha! old ho, ho! May the plague take thee!
may a cancer eat thee!--worthless old currycomb! old slipper, too big
for the foot! old arquebus! ten year old codfish! old spider that
spins no more! old death with open eyes! old devil’s cradle! vile
lantern of an old town-crier too! Old wretch whose look kills! old
moustache of an old theriacler! old wretch to make dead men weep! old
organ-pedal! old sheath with a hundred knives! old church porch, worn
out by the knees! old poor-box in which everyone has dropped. I’ll
give all my future to be quit of thee!” As he finished these gentle
thoughts the pretty bride, who was thinking of her young husband’s
great sorrow at not knowing the particulars of that essential item of
marriage, and not having the slightest idea what it was, thought to
save him much tribulation, shame, and labour by instructing herself.
And she counted upon much astonishing and rejoicing him the next night
when she should say to him, teaching him his duty, “That’s the thing
my love!” Brought up in great respect of old people by her dear
dowager, she thought of inquiring of this good man in her sweetest
manner to distil for her the sweet mysteries of the commerce. Now, the
lord of Braguelongne, ashamed of being lost in sad contemplation of
this evening’s work, and of saying nothing to his gay companion, put
this summary interrogation to the fair bride--“If she was not happy
with so good a young husband--”

“He is very good,” said she.

“Too good, perhaps,” said the lieutenant smiling.

To be brief, matters were so well arranged between them that the Lord
engaged to spare no pains to enlighten the understanding of Madame
d’Amboise’s daughter-in-law, who promised to come and study her lesson
in his room. The said lady d’Amboise pretended after supper to play
terrible music in a high key to Monsieur Braguelongne saying that he
had no gratitude for the blessings she had brought him--her position,
her wealth, her fidelity, etc. In fact, she talked for half an hour
without having exhausted a quarter of her ire. From this a hundred
knives were drawn between them, but they kept the sheaths. Meanwhile
the spouses in bed were arranging to themselves how to get away, in
order to please each other. Then the innocent began to say he fell
quite giddy, he knew not from what, and wanted to go into the open
air. And his maiden wife told him to take a stroll in the moonlight.
And then the good fellow began to pity his wife in being left alone a
moment. At her desire, both of them at different times left their
conjugal couch and came to their preceptors, both very impatient, as
you can well believe; and good instruction was given to them. How? I
cannot say, because everyone has his own method and practice, and of
all sciences this is the most variable in principle. You may be sure
that never did scholars receive more gayly the precepts of any
language, grammar, or lessons whatsoever. And the two spouses returned
to their nest, delighted at being able to communicate to each other
the discoveries of their scientific peregrinations.

“Ah, my dear,” said the bride, “you already know more than my master.”

From these curious tests came their domestic joy and perfect fidelity;
because immediately after their entry into the married state they
found out how much better each of them was adapted for love than
anyone else, their masters included. Thus for the remainder of their
days they kept to the legitimate substance of their own persons; and
the lord of Montcontour said in old age to his friends--

“Do like me, be cuckolds in the blade, and not in the sheath.”

Which is the true morality of the conjugal condition.



                       THE DEAR NIGHT OF LOVE

In that winter when commenced that first taking up of arms by those of
the religion, which was called the Riot of Amboise, an advocate, named
Avenelles, lent his house, situated in the Rue des Marmousets for the
interviews and conventions of the Huguenots, being one of them,
without knowing, however, that the Prince of Conde, La Regnaudie, and
others, intended to carry off the king.

The said Avenelles wore a nasty red beard, as shiny as a stick of
liquorice, and was devilishly pale, as are all the rogues who take
refuge in the darkness of the law; in short, the most evil-minded
advocate that has ever lived, laughing at the gallows, selling
everybody, and a true Judas. According to certain authors of a great
experience in subtle rogues he was in this affair, half knave, half
fool, as it is abundantly proved by this narrative. This procureur had
married a very lovely lady of Paris, of whom he was jealous enough to
kill her for a pleat in the sheets, for which she could not account,
which would have been wrong, because honest creases are often met
with. But she folded her clothes very well, so there’s the end of the
matter. Be assured that, knowing the murderous and evil nature of this
man, his wife was faithful enough to him, always ready, like a
candlestick, arranged for her duty like a chest which never moves, and
opens to order. Nevertheless, the advocate had placed her under the
guardianship and pursuing eye of an old servant, a duenna as ugly as a
pot without a handle, who had brought up the Sieur Avenelles, and was
very fond of him. His poor wife, for all pleasure in her cold domestic
life, used to go to the Church of St. Jehan, on the Place de Greve,
where, as everyone knows, the fashionable world was accustomed to
meet; and while saying her paternosters to God she feasted her eyes
upon all these gallants, curled, adorned, and starched, young, comely,
and flitting about like true butterflies, and finished by picking out
from among the lot a good gentleman, lover of the queen-mother, and a
handsome Italian, with whom she was smitten because he was in the May
of his age, nobly dressed, a graceful mover, brave in mien, and was
all that a lover should be to bestow a heart full of love upon an
honest married woman too tightly squeezed by the bonds of matrimony,
which torment her, and always excite her to unharness herself from the
conjugal yoke. And you can imagine that the young gentleman grew to
admire Madame, whose silent love spoke secretly to him, without either
the devil or themselves knowing how. Both one and the other had their
correspondence of love. At first, the advocate’s wife adorned herself
only to come to church, and always came in some new sumptuosity; and
instead of thinking of God, she made God angry by thinking of her
handsome gentleman, and leaving her prayers, she gave herself up to
the fire which consumed her heart, and moistened her eyes, her lips,
and everything, seeing that this fire always dissolves itself in
water; and often said to herself: “Ha! I would give my life for a
single embrace with this pretty lover who loves me.” Often, too, in
place of saying her litanies to Madame the Virgin, she thought in her
heart: “To feel the glorious youth of this gentle lover, to have the
full joys of love, to taste all in one moment, little should I mind
the flames into which the heretics are thrown.” Then the gentleman
gazing at the charms of this good wife, and her burning blushes when
he glanced at her, came always close to her stool, and addressed to
her those requests which the ladies understand so well. Then he said
aside to himself: “By the double horn on my father, I swear to have
the woman, though it cost me my life.”

And when the duenna turned her head, the two lovers squeezed, pressed,
breathed, ate, devoured, and kissed each other by a look which would
have set light to the match of a musketeer, if the musketeer had been
there. It was certain that a love so far advanced in the heart should
have an end. The gentleman dressed as a scholar of Montaign, began to
regale the clerks of the said Avenelles, and to joke in the company,
in order to learn the habits of the husband, his hours of absence, his
journeys, and everything, watching for an opportunity to stick his
horns on. And this was how, to his injury, the opportunity occurred.
The advocate, obliged to follow the course of this conspiracy, and, in
case of failure, intending to revenge himself upon the Guises,
determined to go to Blois, where the court then was in great danger of
being carried off. Knowing this, the gentleman came first to the town
of Blois, and there arranged a master-trap, into which the Sieur
Avenelles should fall, in spite of his cunning, and not come out until
steeped in a crimson cuckoldom. The said Italian, intoxicated with
love, called together all his pages and vassals, and posted them in
such a manner that on the arrival of the advocate, his wife, and her
duenna, it was stated to them at all the hostelries at which they
wished to put up that the hostelry being full, in consequence of the
sojourn of the court, they must go elsewhere. Then the gentleman made
such an arrangement with the landlord of the Soleil Royal, that he had
the whole of the house, and occupied, without any of the usual
servants of the place remaining there. For greater security, my lord
sent the said master and his people into the country, and put his own
in their places, so that the advocate should know nothing of this
arrangement. Behold my good gentleman who lodges his friends to come
to the court in the hostelry, and for himself keeps a room situated
above those in which he intends to put his lovely mistress, her
advocate, and the duenna, not without first having cut a trap in the
boards. And his steward being charged to play the part of the
innkeeper, his pages dressed like guests, and his female servants like
servants of the inn, he waited for spies to convey to him the dramatis
personae of this farce--viz., wife, husband, and duenna, none of whom
failed to come. Seeing the immense wealth of the great lords,
merchants, warriors, members of the service, and others, brought by
the sojourn of the young king, of two queens, the Guises, and all the
court, no one had a right to be astonished or to talk of the roguish
trap, or of the confusion come to the Soleil Royal. Behold now the
Sieur Avenelles, on his arrival, bundled about, he, his wife and the
duenna from inn to inn, and thinking themselves very fortunate in
being received at the Soleil Royal, where the gallant was getting
warm, and love was burning. The advocate, being lodged, the lover
walked about the courtyard, watching and waiting for a glance from the
lady; and he did not have to wait very long, since the fair Avenelles,
looking soon into the court, after the custom of the ladies, there
recognised not without great throbbing of the heart, her gallant and
well-beloved gentleman. At that she was very happy; and if by a lucky
chance both had been alone together for an ounce of time, that good
gentleman would not have had to wait for his good fortune, so burning
was she from head to foot.

“How warm it is in the rays of this lord,” said she, meaning to say
sun, since it was then shining fiercely.

Hearing this, the advocate sprang to the window, and beheld my
gentleman.

“Ha! you want lords, my dear, do you?” said the advocate, dragging her
by the arm, and throwing her like one of his bags on to the bed.
“Remember that if I have a pencase at my side instead of a sword, I
have a penknife in this pencase, and that penknife will go into your
heart on the least suspicion of conjugal impropriety. I believe I have
seen that gentleman somewhere.”

The advocate was so terribly spiteful that the lady rose, and said to
him--

“Well, kill me. I am not afraid of deceiving you. Never touch me
again, after having thus menaced me. And from to-day I shall never
think of sleeping save with a lover more gentle than you are.”

“There, there, my little one!” said the advocate, surprised. “We have
gone a little too far. Kiss me, chick-a-biddy, and forgive me.”

“I will neither kiss nor pardon you,” said she “You are a wretch!”

Avenelles, enraged, wished to take by force that which his wife denied
him, and from this resulted a combat, from which the husband emerged
clawed all over. But the worst of it was, that the advocate, covered
with scratches, being expected by the conspirators, who were holding a
council, was obliged to quit his good wife, leaving her to the care of
the old woman.

The knave having departed, the gentleman putting one of his servants
to keep watch at the corner of the street, mounts to his blessed trap,
lifts it noiselessly, and calls the lady by a gentle psit! psit! which
was understood by the heart, which generally understands everything.
The lady lifts her head, and sees her pretty lover four flea jumps
above her. Upon a sign, she takes hold of two cords of black silk, to
which were attached loops, through which she passes her arms, and in
the twinkling of an eye is translated by two pulleys from her bed
through the ceiling into the room above, and the trap closing as it
has opened, left the old duenna in a state of great flabbergastation,
when, turning her head, she neither saw robe nor woman, and perceived
that the women had been robbed. How? by whom? in what way? where?
--Presto! Foro! Magico! As much knew the alchemists at their furnaces
reading Herr Trippa. Only the old woman knew well the crucible, and
the great work--the one was cuckoldom, and the other the private
property of Madame Advocate. She remained dumbfounded, watching for
the Sieur Avenelles--as well say death, for in his rage he would
attack everything, and the poor duenna could not run away, because
with great prudence the jealous man had taken the keys with him. At
first sight, Madame Avenelles found a dainty supper, a good fire in
the grate, but a better in the heart of her lover, who seized her, and
kissed her, with tears of joy, on the eyes first of all, to thank them
for their sweet glances during devotion at the church of St Jehan en
Greve. Nor did the glowing better half of the lawyer refuse her little
mouth to his love, but allowed herself to be properly pressed, adored,
caressed, delighting to be properly pressed, admirably adored, and
calorously caressed after the manner of eager lovers. And both agreed
to be all in all to each other the whole night long, no matter what
the result might be, she counting the future as a fig in comparison
with the joys of this night, he relying upon his cunning and his sword
to obtain many another. In short, both of them caring little for life,
because at one stroke they consummated a thousand lives, enjoyed with
each other a thousand delights, giving to each other the double of
their own--believing, he and she, that they were falling into an
abyss, and wishing to roll there closely clasped, hurling all the love
of their souls with rage in one throw. Therein they loved each other
well. Thus they knew not love, the poor citizens, who live
mechanically with their good wives, since they know not the fierce
beating of the heart, the hot gush of life, and the vigorous clasp as
of two young lovers, closely united and glowing with passion, who
embrace in face of the danger of death. Now the youthful lady and the
gentleman ate little supper, but retired early to rest. Let us leave
them there, since no words, except those of paradise unknown to us,
would describe their delightful agonies, and agonising delights.
Meanwhile, the husband, so well cuckolded that all memory of marriage
had been swept away by love,--the said Avenelles found himself in a
great fix. To the council of the Huguenots came the Prince of Conde,
accompanied by all the chiefs and bigwigs, and there it was resolved
to carry off the queen-mother, the Guises, the young king, the young
queen, and to change the government. This becoming serious, the
advocate seeing his head at stake, did not feel the ornaments being
planted there, and ran to divulge the conspiracy to the cardinal of
Lorraine, who took the rogue to the duke, his brother, and all three
held a consultation, making fine promises to the Sieur Avenelles, whom
with the greatest difficulty they allowed, towards midnight, to
depart, at which hour he issued secretly from the castle. At this
moment the pages of the gentleman and all his people were having a
right jovial supper in honour of the fortuitous wedding of their
master. Now, arriving at the height of the festivities, in the middle
of the intoxication and joyous huzzahs, he was assailed with jeers,
jokes, and laughter that turned him sick when he came into his room.
The poor servant wished to speak, but the advocate promptly planted a
blow in her stomach, and by a gesture commanded her to be silent. Then
he felt in his valise, and took therefrom a good poniard. While he was
opening and shutting it, a frank, naive, joyous, amorous, pretty,
celestial roar of laughter, followed by certain words of easy
comprehension, came down through the trap. The cunning advocate,
blowing out his candle, saw through the cracks in the boards caused by
the shrinking of the door a light, which vaguely explained the mystery
to him, for he recognised the voice of his wife, and that of the
combatant. The husband took the duenna by the arm, and went softly at
the stairs searching for the door of the chamber in which were the
lovers, and did not fail to find it. Fancy! that like a horrid, rude
advocate, he burst open the door, and with one spring was on the bed,
in which he surprised his wife, half dressed, in the arms of the
gentleman.

“Ah!” said she.

The lover having avoided the blow, tried to snatch the poniard from
the hands of the knave, who held it firmly.

Now, in this struggle of life and death, the husband finding himself
hindered by his lieutenant, who clutched him tightly with his fingers
of iron, and bitten by his wife, who tore away at him with a will,
gnawing him as a dog gnaws a bone, he thought instantly of a better
way to gratify his rage. Then the devil, newly horned, maliciously
ordered, in his patois, the servants to tie the lovers with the silken
cords of the trap, and throwing the poniard away, he helped the duenna
to make them fast. And the thing thus done in a moment, he rammed some
linen into their mouths to stop their cries, and ran to his good
poniard without saying a word. At this moment there entered several
officers of the Duke of Guise, whom during the struggle no one had
heard turning the house upside down, looking for the Sieur Avenelles.
These soldiers, suddenly warned by the cries of the pages of the lord,
bound, gagged and half killed, threw themselves between the man with
the poniard and the lovers, disarmed him, and accomplished their
mission by arresting him, and marching him off to the castle prison,
he, his wife, and the duenna. At the same time the people of the
Guises, recognising one of their master’s friends, with whom at this
moment the queen was most anxious to consult, and whom they were
enjoined to summon to the council, invited him to come with them. Then
the gentleman soon untied, dressing himself, said aside to the chief
of the escort, that on his account, for the love for him, he should be
careful to keep the husband away from his wife, promising him his
favour, good advancement, and even a few deniers, if he were careful
to obey him on this point. And for greater surety he explained to him
the why and the wherefore of the affair, adding that if the husband
found himself within reach of this fair lady he would give her for
certain a blow in the belly from which she would never recover.
Finally he ordered him to place the lady in the jail of the castle, in
a pleasant place level with gardens, and the advocate in a safe
dungeon, not without chaining him hand and foot. The which the said
office promised, and arranged matters according to the wish of the
gentleman, who accompanied the lady as far as the courtyard of the
castle, assuring her that this business would make her a widow, and
that he would perhaps espouse her in legitimate marriage. In fact, the
Sieur Avenelles was thrown into a damp dungeon, without air, and his
pretty wife placed in a room above him, out of consideration for her
lover, who was the Sieur Scipion Sardini, a noble of Lucca,
exceedingly rich, and, as has been before stated, a friend of Queen
Catherine de Medici, who at that time did everything in concert with
the Guises. Then he went up quickly to the queen’s apartments, where a
great secret council was then being held, and there the Italian
learned what was going on, and the danger of the court. Monseigneur
Sardini found the privy counsellors much embarrassed and surprised at
this dilemma, but he made them all agree, telling them to turn it to
their own advantage; and to his advice was due the clever idea of
lodging the king in the castle of Amboise, in order to catch the
heretics there like foxes in a bag, and there to slay them all.
Indeed, everyone knows how the queen-mother and Guises dissimulated,
and how the Riot of Amboise terminated. This is not, however, the
subject of the present narrative. When in the morning everyone had
quitted the chamber of the queen-mother, where everything had been
arranged, Monseigneur Sardini, in no way oblivious of his love for the
fair Avenelles, although he was at the time deeply smitten with the
lovely Limeuil, a girl belonging to the queen-mother, and her relation
by the house of La Tour de Turenne, asked why the good Judas had been
caged. Then the Cardinal of Lorraine told him his intention was not in
any way to harm the rogue, but that fearing his repentance, and for
greater security of his silence until the end of the affair, he put
him out of the way, and would liberate him at the proper time.

“Liberate him!” said the Luccanese. “Never! Put him in a sack, and
throw the old black gown into the Loire. In the first place I know
him; he is not the man to forgive you his imprisonment, and will
return to the Protestant Church. Thus this will be a work pleasant to
God, to rid him of a heretic. Then no one will know your secrets, and
not one of his adherents will think of asking you what has become of
him, because he is a traitor. Let me procure the escape of his wife
and arrange the rest; I will take it off your hands.”

“Ha, ha!” said the cardinal; “you give good council. Now I will,
before distilling your advice, have them both more securely guarded.
Hi, there!”

Came an officer of police, who was ordered to let no person whoever he
might be, communicate with the two prisoners. Then the cardinal begged
Sardini to say at his hotel that the said advocate had departed from
Blois to return to his causes in Paris. The men charged with the
arrest of the advocate had received a verbal order to treat him as a
man of importance, so they neither stripped nor robbed him. Now the
advocate had kept thirty gold crowns in his purse, and resolved to
lose them all to assure his vengeance, and proved by good arguments to
the jailers that it was allowable for him to see his wife, on whom he
doted, and whose legitimate embrace he desired. Monseigneur Sardini,
fearing for his mistress the danger of the proximity of this red
learned rogue, and for her having great fear of certain evils,
determined to carry her off in the night, and put her in a place of
safety. Then he hired some boatmen and also their boat, placing them
near the bridge, and ordered three of his most active servants to file
the bars of the cell, seize the lady, and conduct her to the wall of
the gardens where he would await her.

These preparations being made, and good files bought, he obtained an
interview in the morning with the queen-mother, whose apartments were
situated above the stronghold in which lay the said advocate and his
wife, believing that the queen would willingly lend herself to this
flight. Presently he was received by her, and begged her not to think
it wrong that, at the instigation of the cardinal and of the Duke of
Guise, he should deliver this lady; and besides this, urged her very
strongly to tell the cardinal to throw the man into the water. To
which the queen said “Amen.” Then the lover sent quickly to his lady a
letter in a plate of cucumbers, to advise her of her approaching
widowhood, and the hour of flight, with all of which was the fair
citizen well content. Then at dusk the soldiers of the watch being got
out of the way by the queen, who sent them to look at a ray of the
moon, which frightened her, behold the servants raised the grating,
and caught the lady, who came quickly enough, and was led through the
house to Monseigneur Sardini.

But the postern closed, and the Italian outside with the lady, behold
the lady throw aside her mantle, see the lady change into an advocate,
and see my said advocate seize his cuckolder by the collar, and half
strangle him, dragging him towards the water to throw him to the
bottom of the Loire; and Sardini began to defend himself, to shout,
and to struggle, without being able, in spite of his dagger, to shake
off this devil in long robes. Then he was quiet, falling into a slough
under the feet of the advocate, whom he recognised through the mists
of this diabolical combat, and by the light of the moon, his face
splashed with the blood of his wife. The enraged advocate quitted the
Italian, believing him to be dead, and also because servants armed
with torches, came running up. But he had to jump into the boat and
push off in great haste.

Thus poor Madame Avenelles died alone, since Monseigneur Sardini,
badly strangled, was found, and revived from this murder; and later,
as everyone knows, married the fair Limeuil after this sweet girl had
been brought to bed in the queen’s cabinet--a great scandal, which
from friendship the queen-mother wished to conceal, and which from
great love Sardini, to whom Catherine gave the splendid estate of
Chaumont-sur-Loire, and also the castle, covered with marriage.

But he had been so brutally used by the husband, that he did not make
old bones, and the fair Limeuil was left a widow in her springtime. In
spite of his misdeeds the advocate was not searched after. He was
cunning enough eventually to get included in the number of those
conspirators who were not prosecuted, and returned to the Huguenots,
for whom he worked hard in Germany.

Poor Madame Avenelles, pray for her soul! for she was hurled no one
knew where, and had neither the prayers of the Church nor Christian
burial. Alas! shed a tear for her, ye ladies lucky in your loves.



              THE SERMON OF THE MERRY VICAR OF MEUDON

When, for the last time, came Master Francis Rabelais, to the court of
King Henry the Second of the name, it was in that winter when the will
of nature compelled him to quit for ever his fleshly garb, and live
forever in his writings resplendent with that good philosophy to which
we shall always be obliged to return. The good man had, at that time,
counted as nearly as possible seventy flights of the swallow. His
Homeric head was but scantily ornamented with hair, but his beard was
still perfect in its flowing majesty; there was still an air of
spring-time in his quiet smile, and wisdom on his ample brow. He was a
fine old man according to the statement of those who had the happiness
to gaze upon his face, to which Socrates and Aristophanes, formerly
enemies, but then become friends, contributed their features. Hearing
his last hours tinkling in his ears he determined to go and pay his
respects to the king of France, because he was having just at that
time arrived in his castle of Tournelles, the good man’s house being
situated in the gardens of St Paul, was not a stone’s throw distant
from the court. He soon found himself in the presence of Queen
Catherine, Madame Diana, whom she received from motives of policy, the
king, the constable, the cardinals of Lorraine and Bellay, Messieurs
de Guise, the Sieur de Birague, and other Italians, who at that time
stood well at court in consequence of the king’s protection; the
admiral, Montgomery, the officers of the household, and certain poets,
such as Melin de St. Gelays, Philibert de l’Orme, and the Sieur
Brantome.

Perceiving the good man, the king, who knew his wit, said to him, with
a smile, after a short conversation--

“Hast thou ever delivered a sermon to thy parishioners of Meudon?”

Master Rabelais, thinking that the king was joking, since he had never
troubled himself further about his post than to collect the revenues
accruing from it, replied--

“Sire, my listeners are in every place, and my sermon heard throughout
Christendom.”

Then glancing at all the courtiers, who, with the exception of
Messieurs du Bellay and Chatillon, considered him to be nothing but a
learned merry-andrew, while he was really the king of all wits, and a
far better king than he whose crown only the courtiers venerate, there
came into the good man’s head the malicious idea to philosophically
pump over their heads, just as it pleased Gargantua to give the
Parisians a bath from the turrets of Notre Dame, so he added--

“If you are in a good humour, sire, I can regale you with a capital
little sermon, always appropriate, and which I have kept under the
tympanum of my left ear in order to deliver it in a fit place, by way
of an aulic parable.”

“Gentlemen,” said the king, “Master Francis Rabelais has the floor of
the court, and our salvation is concerned in his speech. Be silent, I
pray you, and give heed; he is fruitful in evangelical drolleries.”

“Sire,” said the good vicar, “I commence.”

All the courtiers became silent, and arranged themselves into a
circle, pliant as osiers before the father of Pantagruel who unfolded
to them the following tale, in words the illustrious eloquence of
which it is impossible to equal. But since this tale has only been
verbally handed down to us, the author will be pardoned if he write
after his own fashion.

“In his old age Gargantua took to strange habits, which greatly
astonished his household, but the which he was forgiven since he was
seven hundred and four years old, in spite of the statement of St.
Clement of Alexandra in his Stromates, which makes out that at this
time he was a quarter of a day less, which matters little to us. Now
this paternal master, seeing that everything was going wrong in his
house, and that every one was fleecing him, conceived a great fear
that he would in his last moments be stripped of everything, and
resolved to invent a more perfect system of management in his domains,
and he did well. In a cellar of Gargantuan abode he hid away a fine
heap of red wheat, beside twenty jars of mustard and several
delicacies, such as plums and Tourainian rolls, articles of a dessert,
Olivet cheese, goat cheese, and others, well known between Langeais
and Loches, pots of butter, hare pasties, preserved ducks, pigs’
trotters in bran, boatloads and pots full of crushed peas, pretty
little pots of Orleans quince preserve, hogsheads of lampreys,
measures of green sauce, river game, such as francolins, teal,
sheldrake, heron, and flamingo, all preserved in sea-salt, dried
raisins, tongues smoked in the manner invented by Happe-Mousche, his
celebrated ancestor, and sweetstuff for Garga-melle on feast days; and
a thousand other things which are detailed in the records of the
Ripuary laws and in certain folios of the Capitularies, Pragmatics,
royal establishments, ordinances and institutions of the period. To be
brief, the good man, putting his spectacles on his nose or his nose in
his spectacles, looked about for a fine flying dragon or unicorn to
whom the guard of this precious treasure could be committed. With this
thought in his head he strolled about the gardens. He did not desire a
Coquecigrue, because the Egyptians were afraid of them, as it appeared
in the Hieroglyphics. He dismissed the idea of engaging the legions of
Caucquemarres, because emperors disliked them and also the Romans
according to that sulky fellow Tacitus. He rejected the Pechrocholiers
in council assembled, the Magi, the Druids, the legion or Papimania,
and the Massorets, who grew like quelch-grass and over-ran all the
land, as he had been told by his son, Pantagruel, on his return from
his journey. The good man calling to mind old stories, had no
confidence in any race, and if it had been permissible would have
implored the Creator for a new one, but not daring to trouble Him
about such trifles, did not know whom to choose, and was thinking that
his wealth would be a great trouble to him, when he met in his path a
pretty little shrew-mouse of the noble race of shrew-mice, who bear
all gules on an azure ground. By the gods! be sure that it was a
splendid animal, with the finest tail of the whole family, and was
strutting about in the sun like a brave shrew-mouse. It was proud of
having been in this world since the Deluge, according to
letters-patent of indisputable nobility, registered by the parliament
of the universe, since it appears from the Ecumenical Inquiry a
shrew-mouse was in Noah’s Ark.” Here Master Alcofribas raised his cap
slightly, and said, reverently, “It was Noah, my lords, who planted
the vine, and first had the honour of getting drunk upon the juice of
its fruit.”

“For it is certain,” he continued, “that a shrew-mouse was in the
vessel from which we all came; but the men have made bad marriages;
not so the mice, because they are more jealous of their coat of arms
than any other animals, and would not receive a field-mouse among
them, even though he had the especial gift of being able to convert
grains of sand to fine fresh hazelnuts. This fine gentlemanly
character so pleased the good Gargantua, that he decided to give the
post of watching his granaries to the shrew-mouse, with the most ample
of powers--of justice, comittimus, missi dominici, clergy,
men-at-arms, and all. The shrew-mouse promised faithfully to
accomplish his task, and to do his duty as a loyal beast, on condition
that he lived on a heap of grain, which Gargantua thought perfectly
fair. The shrew-mouse began to caper about in his domain as happy as a
prince who is happy, reconnoitering his immense empire of mustard,
countries of sugar, provinces of ham, duchies of raisins, counties of
chitterlings, and baronies of all sorts, scrambling on to the heap of
grain and frisking his tail against everything. To be brief, everywhere
was the shrew-mouse received with honour by the pots, which kept a
respectful silence, except two golden tankards, which knocked against
each other like the bells of a church ringing a tocsin, at which he was
much pleased, and thanked them, right and left, by a nod of the head,
while promenading in the rays of the sun, which were illuminating his
domain. Therein so splendidly did the brown colour of his hair shine
forth, that one would have thought him a northern king in his sable
furs. After his twists, turns, jumps and capers, he munched two grains
of corn, sat upon the heap like a king in full court, and fancied
himself the most illustrious of shrew-mice. At this moment they came
from their accustomed holes the gentlemen of the night-prowling court,
who scamper with their little feet across the floors; these gentlemen
being the rats, mice, and other gnawing, thieving, and crafty animals,
of whom the citizens and housewives complain. When they saw the
shrew-mouse they took fright, and all remained shyly at the threshold
of their dens. Among these common people, in spite of the danger, one
old infidel of the trotting, nibbling race of mice, advanced a little,
and putting his nose in the air, had the courage to stare my lord
shrew-mouse full in the face, although the latter was proudly squatted
upon his rump, with his tail in the air; and he came to the conclusion
that he was a devil, from whom nothing but scratches were to be gained.
And from these facts, Gargantua, in order that the high authority of
his lieutenant might be universally known by all of the shrew-mice,
cats, weasels, martins, field-mice, mice, rats, and other bad characters
of the same kidney, had lightly dipped his muzzle, pointed as a larding
pin, in oil of musk, which all shrew-mice have since inherited,
because this one, is spite of the sage advice of Gargantua, rubbed
himself against others of his breed. From this sprang the troubles in
the Muzaraignia of which I will give you a good account in an
historical book when I get an opportunity.

“Then an old mouse, or rat--the rabbis of Talmud have not yet agreed
concerning the species--perceiving by this perfume that this
shrew-mouse was appointed to guard the grain of Gargantua, and had
been sprinkled with virtues, invested with full powers, and armed at
all points, was alarmed lest he should no longer be able to live,
according to the custom of mice, upon the meats, morsels, crusts,
crumbs, leavings, bits, atoms, and fragments of this Canaan of rats.
In this dilemma the good mouse, artful as an old courtier who had
lived under two regencies and three kings, resolved to try the mettle
of the shrew-mouse, and devote himself to the salvation of the jaws of
his race. This would have been a laudable thing in a man, but it was
far more so in a mouse, belonging to a tribe who live for themselves
alone, barefacedly and shamelessly, and in order to gratify themselves
would defile a consecrated wafer, gnaw a priest’s stole without shame,
and would drink out of a Communion cup, caring nothing for God. The
mouse advanced with many a bow and scrape, and the shrew-mouse let him
advance rather near--for, to tell the truth, these animals are
naturally short-sighted. Then this Curtius of nibblers made his little
speech, not the jargon of common mice, but in the polite language of
shrew-mice:--‘My lord, I have heard with much concern of your glorious
family, of which I am one of the most devoted slaves. I know the
legend of your ancestors, who were thought much of by the ancient
Egyptians, who held them in great veneration, and adored them like
other sacred birds. Nevertheless, your fur robe is so royally
perfumed, and its colour is so splendiferously tanned, that I am
doubtful if I recognise you as belonging to this race, since I have
never seen any of them so gloriously attired. However you have
swallowed the grain after the antique fashion. Your proboscis is a
proboscis of sapience; you have kicked like a learned shrew-mouse; but
if you are a true shrew-mouse, you should have in I know not what part
of your ear--I know not what special auditorial channel, which I know
not, what wonderful door, closes I know not how, and I know not with
what movements, by your secret commands to give you, I know not why,
licence not to listen to I know not what things, which would be
displeasing to you, on account of the special and peculiar perfection
of your faculty of hearing everything, which would often pain you.”

“‘True,’ said the shrew-mouse, ‘the door has just fallen. I hear
nothing!’

“‘Ah, I see,’ said the old rogue.

“And he made for the pile of corn, from which he commenced to take his
store for the winter.

“‘Did you hear anything?’ asked he.

“‘I hear the pit-a-pat of my heart.’

“‘Kouick!’ cried all the mice; ‘we shall be able to hoodwink him.’

“The shrew-mouse, fancying that he had met with a faithful vassal,
opened the trap of his musical orifice, and heard the noise of the
grain going towards the hole. Then, without having recourse to
forfeiture, the justice of commissaries, he sprang upon the old mouse
and squeezed him to death. Glorious death! for the hero died in the
thick of the grain, and was canonised as a martyr. The shrew-mouse
took him by the ears and placed him on the door the granary, after the
fashion of the Ottoman Porte, where my good Panurge was within an ace
of being spitted. At the cries of the dying wretch the rats, mice, and
others made for their holes in great haste. When the night had fallen
they came to the cellar, convoked for the purpose of holding a council
to consider public affairs; to which meeting, in virtue of the
Papyrian and other laws, their lawful wives were admitted. The rats
wished to pass before the mice, and serious quarrels about precedence
nearly spoiled everything; but a big rat gave his arm to a mouse, and
the gaffer rats and gammer mice being paired off in the same way, all
were soon seated on their rumps, tails in air, muzzles stretched,
whiskers stiff, and their eyes brilliant as those of a falcon. Then
commenced a deliberation, which finished up with insults and a
confusion worthy of an ecumenical council of holy fathers. One said
this and another said that, and a cat passing by took fright and ran
away, hearing these strange noises: ‘Bou, bou, grou, ou, ou, houic,
houic, briff, briffnac, nac, nac, fouix, fouix, trr, trr, trr, trr,
za, za, zaaa, brr, brr, raaa, ra, ra, ra, fouix!’ so well blended
together in a babel of sound, that a council at the Hotel de Ville
could not have made a greater hubbub. During this tempest a little
mouse, who was not old enough to enter parliament, thrust through a
chink her inquiring snout, the hair on which was as downy as that of
all mice, too downy to be caught. As the tumult increased, by degrees
her body followed her nose, until she came to the hoop of a cask,
against which she so dextrously squatted that she might have been
mistaken for a work of art carved in antique bas-relief. Lifting his
eyes to heaven to implore a remedy for the misfortunes of the state,
an old rat perceived this pretty mouse, so gentle and shapely, and
declared that the State might be saved by her. All the muzzles turned
to this Lady of Good Help, became silent, and agreed to let her loose
upon the shrew-mouse, and in spite of the anger of certain envious
mice, she was triumphantly marched around the cellar, where, seeing
her walk mincingly, mechanically move her tail, shake her cunning
little head, twitch her diaphanous ears, and lick with her little red
tongue the hairs just sprouting on her cheeks, the old rats fell in
love with her and wagged their wrinkled, white-whiskered jaws with
delight at the sight of her, as did formerly the old men of Troy,
admiring the lovely Helen, returning from her bath. Then the maiden
was conducted to the granary, with instructions to make a conquest of
the shrew-mouse’s heart, and save the fine red grain, as did formerly
the fair Hebrew, Esther, for the chosen people, with the Emperor
Ahasuerus, as is written in the master-book, for Bible comes from the
Greek word biblos, as if to say the only book. The mouse promised to
deliver the granaries, for by a lucky chance she was the queen of
mice, a fair, plump, pretty little mouse, the most delicate little
lady that ever scampered merrily across the floors, scratched between
the walls, and gave utterance to little cries of joy at finding nuts,
meal, and crumbs of bread in her path; a true fay, pretty and playful,
with an eye clear as crystal, a little head, sleek skin, amorous body,
rosy feet, and velvet tail--a high born mouse and a polished speaker
with a natural love of bed and idleness--a merry mouse, more cunning
than an old Doctor of Sorbonne fed on parchment, lively, white
bellied, streaked on the back, with sweet moulded breasts, pearl-white
teeth, and of a frank open nature--in fact, a true king’s morsel.”

This portraiture was so bold--the mouse appearing to have been the
living image of Madame Diana, then present--that the courtiers stood
aghast. Queen Catherine smiled, but the king was in no laughing
humour. But Rabelais went on without paying any attention to the winks
of the Cardinal Bellay and de Chatillon, who were terrified for the
good man.

“The pretty mouse,” said he, continuing, “did not beat long about the
bush, and from the first moment that she trotted before the
shrew-mouse, she had enslaved him for ever by her coquetries,
affectations, friskings, provocations, little refusals, piercing
glances, and wiles of a maiden who desires yet dares not, amorous
oglings, little caresses, preparatory tricks, pride of a mouse who
knows her value, laughings and squeakings, triflings and other
endearments, feminine, treacherous and captivating ways, all traps
which are abundantly used by the females of all nations. When, after
many wrigglings, smacks in the face, nose lickings, gallantries of
amorous shrew-mice, frowns, sighs, serenades, titbits, suppers and
dinners on the pile of corn, and other attentions, the superintendent
overcame the scruples of his beautiful mistress, he became the slave
of this incestuous and illicit love, and the mouse, leading her lord
by the snout, became queen of everything, nibbled his cheese, ate the
sweets, and foraged everywhere. This the shrew-mouse permitted to the
empress of his heart, although he was ill at ease, having broken his
oath made to Gargantua, and betrayed the confidence placed in him.
Pursuing her advantage with the pertinacity of a woman, one night they
were joking together, the mouse remembered the dear old fellow her
father, and desiring that he should make his meals off the grain, she
threatened to leave her lover cold and lonely in his domain if he did
not allow her to indulge her filial piety. In the twinkling of a
mouse’s eye he had granted letters patent, sealed with a green seal,
with tags of crimson silk, to his wench’s father, so that the
Gargantuan palace was open to him at all hours, and he was at liberty
see his good, virtuous daughter, kiss her on the forehead, and eat his
fill, but always in a corner. Then there arrived a venerable old rat,
weighing about twenty-five ounces, with a white tail, marching like the
president of a Court of Justice, wagging his head, and followed by
fifteen or twenty nephews, all with teeth as sharp as saws, who
demonstrated to the shrew-mouse by little speeches and questions of all
kinds that they, his relations, would soon be loyally attached to him,
and would help him to count the things committed to his charge, arrange
and ticket them, in order that when Gargantua came to visit them he
would find everything in perfect order. There was an air of truth about
these promises. The poor shrew-mouse was, however, in spite of this
speech, troubled by ideas from on high, and serious pricking of
shrew-mousian conscience. Seeing that he turned up his nose at
everything, went about slowly and with a careworn face, one morning the
mouse who was pregnant by him, conceived the idea of calming his doubts
and easing his mind by a Sorbonnical consultation, and sent for the
doctors of his tribe. During the day she introduced to him one, Sieur
Evegault, who had just stepped out of a cheese where he lived in perfect
abstinence, an old confessor of high degree, a merry fellow of good
appearance, with a fine black skin, firm as a rock, and slightly
tonsured on the head by the pat of a cat’s claw. He was a grave rat,
with a monastical paunch, having much studied scientific authorities
by nibbling at their works in parchments, papers, books and volumes of
which certain fragments had remained upon his grey beard. In honour of
and great reverence for his great virtue and wisdom, and his modest
life, he was accompanied by a black troop of black rats, all bringing
with them pretty little mice, their sweethearts, for not having
adopted the canons of the council of Chesil, it was lawful for them to
have respectable women for concubines. These beneficed rats, being
arranged in two lines, you might have fancied them a procession of the
university authorities going to Lendit. And they all began to sniff
the victuals.

“When the ceremony of placing them all was complete, the old cardinal
of the rats lifted up his voice, and in a good rat-latin oration
pointed out to the guardian of the grain that no one but God was
superior to him; and that to God alone he owed obedience, and he
entertained him with many fine phrases, stuffed with evangelical
quotations, to disturb the principal and fog his flock; in fact, fine
argument interlarded with much sound sense. The discourse finished
with a peroration full of high sounding words in honour of shrew-mice,
among whom his hearer was the most illustrious and best beneath the
sun; and this oration considerably bewildered the keeper of the
granary.

“This good gentleman’s head was thoroughly turned, and he installed
this fine speaking rat and his tribe in his manor, where night and day
his praises and little songs in his honour were sung, not forgetting
his lady, whose little paw was kissed and little tail was sniffed at
by all. Finally, the mistress, knowing that certain young rats were
still fasting, determined to finish her work. Then she kissed her lord
tenderly, loading him with love, and performing those little endearing
antics of which one alone was sufficient to send a beast to perdition;
and said to the shrew-mouse that he wasted the precious time due to
their love by travelling about, that he was always going here or
there, and that she never had her proper share of him; that when she
wanted his society, he was on the leads chasing the cats, and that she
wished him always to be ready to her hand like a lance, and kind as a
bird. Then in her great grief she tore out a grey hair, declaring
herself, weepingly, to be the most wretched little mouse in the world.
The shrew-mouse pointed out to her that she was the mistress of
everything, and wished to resist, but after the lady had shed a
torrent of tears he implored a truce and considered her request. Then
instantly drying her tears, and giving him her paw to kiss, she
advised him to arm some soldiers, trusty and tried rats, old warriors,
who would go the rounds to keep watch. Everything was thus wisely
arranged. The shrew-mouse had the rest of the day to dance, play, and
amuse himself, listen to the roundelays and ballads which the poets
composed in his honour, play the lute and the mandore, make acrostics,
eat, drink and be merry. One day his mistress having just risen from
her confinement, after having given birth to the sweetest little
mouse-sorex or sorex-mouse, I know not what name was given to this
mongrel food of love, whom you may be sure, the gentlemen in the long
robe would manage to legitimise” (the constable of Montmorency, who
had married his son to a legitimised bastard of the king’s, here put
his hand to his sword and clutched the handle fiercely), “a grand
feast was given in the granaries, to which no court festival or gala
could be compared, not even that of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. In
every corner mice were making merry. Everywhere there were dances,
concerts, banquets, sarabands, music, joyous songs, and epithalamia.
The rats had broken open the pots, and uncovered the jars, lapped the
gallipots, and unpacked the stores. The mustard was strewn over the
place, the hams were mangled and the corn scattered. Everything was
rolling, tumbling, and falling about the floor, and the little rats
dabbled in puddles of green sauce, the mice navigated oceans of
sweetmeats, and the old folks carried off the pasties. There were mice
astride salt tongues. Field-mice were swimming in the pots, and the
most cunning of them were carrying the corn into their private holes,
profiting by the confusion to make ample provision for themselves. No
one passed the quince confection of Orleans without saluting it with
one nibble, and oftener with two. It was like a Roman carnival. In
short, anyone with a sharp ear might have heard the frizzling
frying-pans, the cries and clamours of the kitchens, the crackling of
their furnaces, the noise of the turnspits, the creaking of baskets,
the haste of the confectioners, the click of the meat-jacks, and the
noise of the little feet scampering thick as hail over the floor. It
was a bustling wedding-feast, where people come and go, footmen,
stablemen, cooks, musicians, buffoons, where everyone pays compliments
and makes a noise. In short, so great was the delight that they kept
up a general wagging of the head to celebrate this eventful night. But
suddenly there was heard the horrible foot-fall of Gargantua, who was
ascending the stairs of his house to visit the granaries, and made the
planks, the beams, and everything else tremble. Certain old rats asked
each other what might mean this seignorial footstep, with which they
were unacquainted, and some of them decamped, and they did well, for
the lord and master entered suddenly. Perceiving the confusion these
gentleman had made, seeing his preserves eaten, his mustard unpacked,
and everything dirtied and scratched about, he put his feet upon these
lively vermin without giving them time to squeak, and thus spoiled
their best clothes, satins, pearls, velvets, and rubbish, and upset
the feast.”

“And what became of the shrew-mouse?” said the king, waking from his
reverie.

“Ah, sire!” replied Rabelais, “herein we see the injustice of the
Gargantuan tribe. He was put to death, but being a gentleman he was
beheaded. That was ill done, for he had been betrayed.”

“You go rather far, my good man,” said the king.

“No sire,” replied Rabelais, “but rather high. Have you not sunk the
crown beneath the pulpit? You asked me for a sermon; I have given you
one which is gospel.”

“My fine vicar,” said Madame Diana, in his ear, “suppose I were
spiteful?”

“Madame,” said Rabelais, “was it not well then of me to warn the king,
your master, against the queen’s Italians, who are as plentiful here
as cockchafers?”

“Poor preacher,” said Cardinal Odet, in his ear, “go to another
country.”

“Ah! monsieur,” replied the old fellow, “ere long I shall be in
another land.”

“God’s truth! Mr. Scribbler,” said the constable (whose son, as
everyone knows, had treacherously deserted Mademoiselle de Piennes, to
whom he was betrothed, to espouse Diana of France, daughter of the
mistress of certain high personages and of the king), “who made thee
so bold as to slander persons of quality? Ah, wretched poet, you like
to raise yourself high; well then, I promise to put you in a good high
place.”

“We shall all go there, my lord constable,” replied the old man: “but
if you are friendly to the state and to the king you will thank me for
having warned him against the hordes of Lorraine, who are evils that
will devour everything.”

“My good man,” whispered Cardinal Charles of Lorraine, “if you need a
few gold crowns to publish your fifth book of Pantagruel you can come
to me for them, because you have put the case clearly to the enemy,
who has bewitched the king, and also to her pack.”

“Well, gentlemen,” said the king, “what do you think of the sermon?”

“Sire,” said Mellin de Saint-Gelais, seeing that all were well
pleased, “I had never heard a better Pantagruelian prognostication.
Much do we owe to him who made these leonine verses in the Abbey of
Theleme:--


  ‘“Cy vous entrez, qui le saint Evangile
    En sens agile annoncez, quoy qu’on gronde,
    Ceans aurez une refuge et bastile,
    Contre l’hostile erreur qui tant postille
    Par son faux style empoisonner le monde.’”

 [’”Should ye who enter here profess in jubilation
    Our gospel of elation, then suffer dolts to curse!
    Here refuge shall ye find, and sure circumvallation
    Against the protestation of those whose delectation
    Brings false abomination to blight the universe.’”]


All the courtiers having applauded their companion, each one
complimented Rabelais, who took his departure accompanied with great
honour by the king’s pages, who, by express command held torches
before him.

Some persons have charged Francis Rabelais, the imperial honour of our
land, with spiteful tricks and apish pranks, unworthy of his Homeric
philosophy, of this prince of wisdom of this fatherly centre, from
which have issued since the rising of his subterranean light a good
number of marvellous works. Out upon those who would defile this
divine head! All their life long may they find grit between their
teeth, those who have ignored his good and moderate nourishment.

Dear drinker of pure water, faithful servant or monachal abstinence,
wisest of wise men, how would thy sides ache with laughter, how
wouldst thou chuckle, if thou couldst come again for a little while to
Chinon, and read the idiotic mouthings, and the maniacal babble of the
fools who have interpreted, commentated, torn, disgraced,
misunderstood, betrayed, defiled, adulterated and meddled with thy
peerless book. As many dogs as Panurge found busy with his lady’s robe
at church, so many two-legged academic puppies have busied themselves
with befouling the high marble pyramid in which is cemented for ever
the seed of all fantastic and comic inventions, besides magnificent
instruction in all things. Although rare are the pilgrims who have the
breath to follow thy bark in its sublime peregrination through the
ocean of ideas, methods, varieties, religions, wisdom, and human
trickeries, at least their worship is unalloyed, pure, and
unadulterated, and thine omnipotence, omniscience, and omni-language
are by them bravely recognised. Therefore has a poor son of our merry
Touraine here been anxious, however unworthily, to do thee homage by
magnifying thine image, and glorifying the works of eternal memory, so
cherished by those who love the concentrative works wherein the
universal moral is contained, wherein are found, pressed like sardines
in their boxes, philosophical ideas on every subject, science, art and
eloquence, as well as theatrical mummeries.



                            THE SUCCUBUS


Prologue

A number of persons of the noble country of Touraine, considerably
edified by the warm search which the author is making into the
antiquities, adventures, good jokes, and pretty tales of that blessed
land, and believing for certain that he should know everything, have
asked him (after drinking with him of course understood), if he had
discovered the etymological reason, concerning which all the ladies of
the town are so curious, and from which a certain street in Tours is
called the Rue Chaude. By him it was replied, that he was much
astonished to see that the ancient inhabitants had forgotten the great
number of convents situated in this street, where the severe
continence of the monks and nuns might have caused the walls to be
made so hot that some woman of position should increase in size from
walking too slowly along them to vespers. A troublesome fellow,
wishing to appear learned, declared that formerly all the
scandalmongers of the neighbourhood were wont to meet in this place.
Another entangled himself in the minute suffrages of science, and
poured forth golden words without being understood, qualifying words,
harmonising the melodies of the ancient and modern, congregating
customs, distilling verbs, alchemising all languages since the Deluge,
of the Hebrew, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Greeks, Latins, and of Turnus,
the ancient founder of Tours; and the good man finished by declaring
that chaude or chaulde with the exception of the H and the L, came
from Cauda, and that there was a tail in the affair, but the ladies
only understood the end of it. An old man observed that in this same
place was formerly a source of thermal water, of which his great great
grandfather had drunk. In short, in less time than it takes a fly to
embrace its sweetheart, there had been a pocketful of etymologies, in
which the truth of the matter had been less easily found than a louse
in the filthy beard of a Capuchin friar. But a man well learned and
well informed, through having left his footprint in many monasteries,
consumed much midnight oil, and manured his brain with many a volume
--himself more encumbered with pieces, dyptic fragments, boxes,
charters, and registers concerning the history of Touraine than is a
gleaner with stalks of straw in the month of August--this man, old,
infirm, and gouty, who had been drinking in his corner without saying
a word, smiled the smile of a wise man and knitted his brows, the said
smile finally resolving itself into a pish! well articulated, which
the Author heard and understood it to be big with an adventure
historically good, the delights of which he would be able to unfold in
this sweet collection.

To be brief, on the morrow this gouty old fellow said to him, “By your
poem, which is called ‘The Venial Sin,’ you have forever gained my
esteem, because everything therein is true from head to foot--which I
believe to be a precious superabundance in such matters. But doubtless
you do not know what became of the Moor placed in religion by the said
knight, Bruyn de la Roche-Corbon. I know very well. Now if this
etymology of the street harass you, and also the Egyptian nun, I will
lend you a curious and antique parchment, found by me in the Olim of
the episcopal palace, of which the libraries were a little knocked
about at a period when none of us knew if he would have the pleasure
of his head’s society on the morrow. Now will not this yield you a
perfect contentment?”

“Good!” said the author.

Then this worthy collector of truths gave certain rare and dusty
parchments to the author, the which he has, not without great labour,
translated into French, and which were fragments of a most ancient
ecclesiastical process. He has believed that nothing would be more
amusing than the actual resurrection of this antique affair, wherein
shines forth the illiterate simplicity of the good old times. Now,
then, give ear. This is the order in which were the manuscripts, of
which the author has made use in his own fashion, because the language
was devilishly difficult.


I
WHAT THE SUCCUBUS WAS.

_In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen._

In the year of our Lord, one thousand two hundred and seventy-one,
before me, Hierome Cornille, grand inquisitor and ecclesiastical judge
(thereto commissioned by the members of the chapter of Saint Maurice,
the cathedral of Tours, having of this deliberated in the presence of
our Lord Jean de Montsoreau, archbishop--namely, the grievances and
complaints of the inhabitants of the said town, whose request is here
subjoined), have appeared certain noblemen, citizens, and inhabitants
of the diocese, who have stated the following facts concerning a demon
suspected of having taken the features of a woman, who has much
afflicted the minds of the diocese, and is at present a prisoner in
the jail of the chapter; and in order to arrive at the truth of the
said charge we have opened the present court, this Monday, the
eleventh day of December, after mass, to communicate the evidence of
each witness to the said demon, to interrogate her upon the said
crimes to her imputed, and to judge her according to the laws enforced
_contra demonios_.

In this inquiry has assisted me to write the evidence therein given,
Guillaume Tournebouche, rubrican of the chapter, a learned man.


Firstly has come before us one Jehan, surnamed Tortebras, a citizen of
Tours, keeping by licence the hostelry of La Cigoyne, situated on the
Place du Pont, and who has sworn by the salvation of his soul, his
hand upon the holy Evangelists, to state no other thing than that
which by himself hath been seen and heard.

He hath stated as here followeth:--

“I declare that about two years before the feast of St. Jehan, upon
which are the grand illuminations, a gentleman, at first unknown to
me, but belonging without doubt to our lord the King, and at that time
returned to our country from the Holy Land, came to me with the
proposition that I should let to him at rental a certain country-house
by me built, in the quit rent of the chapter over against the place
called of St. Etienne, and the which I let to him for nine years, for
the consideration of three besans of fine gold. In the said house was
placed by the said knight a fair wench having the appearance of a
woman, dressed in the strange fashion of the Saracens Mohammedans,
whom he would allow by none to be seen or to be approached within a
bow-shot, but whom I have seen with mine own eyes, weird feathers upon
her head, and eyes so flaming that I cannot adequately describe them,
and from which gleamed forth a fire of hell. The defunct knight having
threatened with death whoever should appear to spy about the said
house, I have by reason of great fear left the said house, and I have
until this day secretly kept to my mind certain presumptions and
doubts concerning the bad appearance of the said foreigner, who was
more strange than any woman, her equal not having as yet by me been
seen.

“Many persons of all conditions having at the time believed the said
knight to be dead, but kept upon his feet by virtue of the said
charms, philters, spells, and diabolical sorceries of this seeming
woman, who wished to settle in our country, I declare that I have
always seen the said knight so ghastly pale that I can only compare
his face to the wax of a Paschal candle, and to the knowledge of all
the people of the hostelry of La Cigoyne, this knight was interred
nine days after his first coming. According to the statement of his
groom, the defunct had been chalorously coupled with the said Moorish
woman during seven whole days shut up in my house, without coming out
from her, the which I heard him horribly avow upon his deathbed.
Certain persons at the present time have accused this she-devil of
holding the said gentleman in her clutches by her long hair, the which
was furnished with certain warm properties by means of which are
communicated to Christians the flames of hell in the form of love,
which work in them until their souls are by this means drawn from
their bodies and possessed by Satan. But I declare that I have seen
nothing of this excepting the said dead knight, bowelless, emaciated,
wishing, in spite of his confessor, still to go to this wench; and
then he has been recognised as the lord de Bueil, who was a crusader,
and who was, according to certain persons of the town, under the spell
of a demon whom he had met in the Asiatic country of Damascus or
elsewhere.

“Afterwards I have let my house to the said unknown lady, according to
the clauses of the deed of lease. The said lord of Bueil, being
defunct, I had nevertheless been into my house in order to learn from
the said foreign woman if she wished to remain in my dwelling, and
after great trouble was led before her by a strange, half-naked black
man, whose eyes were white.

“Then I have seen the said Moorish woman in a little room, shining
with gold and jewels, lighted with strange lights, upon an Asiatic
carpet, where she was seated, lightly attired, with another gentleman,
who was there imperiling his soul; and I had not the heart bold enough
to look upon her, seeing that her eyes would have incited me
immediately to yield myself up to her, for already her voice thrilled
into my very belly, filled my brain, and debauched my mind. Finding
this, from the fear of God, and also of hell, I have departed with
swift feet, leaving my house to her as long as she liked to retain it,
so dangerous was it to behold that Moorish complexion from which
radiated diabolical heats, besides a foot smaller than it was lawful
in a real woman to possess; and to hear her voice, which pierced into
one’s heart! And from that day I have lacked the courage to enter my
house from great fear of falling into hell. I have said my say.”

To the said Tortebras we have then shown an Abyssinian, Nubian or
Ethiopian, who, black from head to foot, had been found wanting in
certain virile properties with which all good Christians are usually
furnished, who, having persevered in his silence, after having been
tormented and tortured many times, not without much moaning, has
persisted in being unable to speak the language of our country. And
the said Tortebras has recognised the said Abyss heretic as having
been in his house in company with the said demoniacal spirit, and is
suspected of having lent his aid to her sorcery.

And the said Tortebras has confessed his great faith in the Catholic
religion, and declared no other things to be within his knowledge save
certain rumours which were known to every one, of which he had been in
no way a witness except in the hearing of them.


In obedience to the citations served upon him, has appeared then,
Matthew, surname Cognefestu, a day-labourer of St. Etienne, whom,
after having sworn by the holy Evangelists to speak the truth, has
confessed to us always to have seen a bright light in the dwelling of
the said foreign woman, and heard much wild and diabolical laughter on
the days and nights of feasts and fasts, notably during the days of
the holy and Christmas weeks, as if a great number of people were in
the house. And he has sworn to have seen by the windows of the said
dwellings, green buds of all kinds in the winter, growing as if by
magic, especially roses in a time of frost, and other things for which
there was a need of a great heat; but of this he was in no way
astonished, seeing that the said foreigner threw out so much heat that
when she walked in the evening by the side of his wall he found on the
morrow his salad grown; and on certain occasions she had by the
touching of her petticoats, caused the trees to put forth leaves and
hasten the buds. Finally, the said, Cognefestu has declared to us to
know no more, because he worked from early morning, and went to bed at
the same hour as the fowls.

Afterwards the wife of the aforesaid Cognefestu has by us been
required to state also upon oath the things come to her cognisance in
this process, and has avowed naught save praises of the said
foreigner, because since her coming her man had treated her better in
consequence of the neighbourhood of this good lady, who filled the air
with love, as the sun did light, and other incongruous nonsense, which
we have not committed to writing.

To the said Cognefestu and to his wife we have shown the said unknown
African, who has been seen by them in the gardens of the house, and is
stated by them for certain to belong to the said demon. In the third
place, has advanced Harduin V., lord of Maille, who being by us
reverentially begged to enlighten the religion of the church, has
expressed his willingness so to do, and has, moreover, engaged his
word, as a gallant knight, to say no other thing than that which he
has seen. Then he has testified to have known in the army of the
Crusades the demon in question, and in the town of Damascus to have
seen the knight of Bueil, since defunct, fight at close quarters to be
her sole possessor. The above-mentioned wench, or demon, belonged at
that time to the knight Geoffroy IV., Lord of Roche-Pozay, by whom she
was said to have been brought from Touraine, although she was a
Saracen; concerning which the knights of France marvelled much, as
well as at her beauty, which made a great noise and a thousand
scandalous ravages in the camp. During the voyage this wench was the
cause of many deaths, seeing that Roche-Pozay had already discomfited
certain Crusaders, who wished to keep her to themselves, because she
shed, according to certain knights petted by her in secret, joys
around her comparable to none others. But in the end the knight of
Bueil, having killed Geoffroy de la Roche-Pozay, became lord and
master of this young murderess, and placed her in a convent, or harem,
according to the Saracen custom. About this time one used to see her
and hear her chattering as entertainment many foreign dialects, such
as the Greek or the Latin empire, Moorish, and, above all, French
better than any of those who knew the language of France best in the
Christian host, from which sprang the belief that she was demoniacal.

The said knight Harduin has confessed to us not to have tilted for her
in the Holy Land, not from fear, coldness or other cause, so much as
that he believed the time had arrived for him to bear away a portion
of the true cross, and also he had belonging to him a noble lady of
the Greek country, who saved him from this danger in denuding him of
love, morning and night, seeing that she took all of it substantially
from him, leaving him none in his heart or elsewhere for others.

And the said knight has assured us that the woman living in the
country house of Tortebras, was really the said Saracen woman, come
into the country from Syria, because he had been invited to a midnight
feast at her house by the young Lord of Croixmare, who expired the
seventh day afterwards, according to the statement of the Dame de
Croixmare, his mother, ruined all points by the said wench, whose
commerce with him had consumed his vital spirit, and whose strange
phantasies had squandered his fortune.

Afterwards questioned in his quality of a man full of prudence, wisdom
and authority in this country, upon the ideas entertained concerning
the said woman, and summoned by us to open his conscience, seeing that
it was a question of a most abominable case of Christian faith and
divine justice, answer has been made by the said knight:--

That by certain of the host of Crusaders it has been stated to him
that always this she-devil was a maid to him who embraced her, and
that Mammon was for certain occupied in her, making for her a new
virtue for each of her lovers, and a thousand other foolish sayings of
drunken men, which were not of a nature to form a fifth gospel. But
for a fact, he, an old knight on that turn of life, and knowing
nothing more of the aforesaid, felt himself again a young man in that
last supper with which he had been regaled by the lord of Croixmare;
then the voice of this demon went straight to his heart before flowing
into his ears, and had awakened so great a love in his body that his
life was ebbing from the place whence it should flow, and that
eventually, but for the assistance of Cyprus wine, which he had drunk
to blind his sight, and his getting under the table in order no longer
to gaze upon the fiery eyes of his diabolical hostess, and not to rend
his heart from her, without doubt he would have fought the young
Croixmare, in order to enjoy for a single moment this supernatural
woman. Since then he had had absolution from his confessor for the
wicked thought. Then, by advice from on high, he had carried back to
his house his portion of the true Cross, and had remained in his own
manor, where, in spite of his Christian precautions, the said voice
still at certain times tickled his brain, and in the morning often had
he in remembrance this demon, warm as brimstone; and because the look
of this wench was so warm that it made him burn like a young man, be
half dead, and because it cost him then many transshipments of the
vital spirit, the said knight has requested us not to confront him
with the empress of love to whom, if it were not the devil, God the
Father had granted strange liberties with the minds of men.
Afterwards, he retired, after reading over his statement, not without
having first recognised the above-mentioned African to be the servant
and page of the lady.


In the fourth place, upon the faith pledged in us in the name of the
Chapter and of our Lord Archbishop, that he should not be tormented,
tortured, nor harassed in any manner, nor further cited after his
statement, in consequence of his commercial journeys, and upon the
assurance that he should retire in perfect freedom, has come before us
a Jew, Salomon al Rastchid, who, in spite of the infamy of his person
and his Judaism, has been heard by us to this one end, to know
everything concerning the conduct of the aforesaid demon. Thus he has
not been required to take any oath this Salomon, seeing that he is
beyond the pale of the Church, separated from us by the blood of our
saviour (trucidatus Salvatore inter nos). Interrogated by us as to why
he appeared without the green cap upon his head, and the yellow wheel
in the apparent locality of the heart in his garment, according to the
ecclesiastical and royal ordinances, the said de Rastchid has
exhibited to us letters patent of the seneschal of Touraine and
Poitou. Then the said Jew has declared to us to have done a large
business for the lady dwelling in the house of the innkeeper
Tortebras, to have sold to her golden chandeliers, with many branches,
minutely engraved, plates of red silver, cups enriched with stones,
emeralds and rubies; to have brought for her from the Levant a number
of rare stuffs, Persian carpets, silks, and fine linen; in fact,
things so magnificent that no queen in Christendom could say she was
so well furnished with jewels and household goods; and that he had for
his part received from her three hundred thousand pounds for the
rarity of the purchases in which he had been employed, such as Indian
flowers, poppingjays, birds’ feathers, spices, Greek wines, and
diamonds. Requested by us, the judge, to say if he had furnished
certain ingredients of magical conjuration, the blood of new-born
children, conjuring books, and things generally and whatsoever made
use of by sorcerers, giving him licence to state his case without that
thereupon he should be the subject to any further inquest or inquiry,
the said al Rastchid has sworn by his Hebrew faith never to have had
any such commerce; and has stated that he was involved in too high
interests to give himself to such miseries, seeing that he was the
agent of certain most powerful lords, such as the Marquis de
Montferrat, the King of England, the King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, the
Court of Provence, lords of Venice, and many German gentleman; to have
belonging to him merchant galleys of all kinds, going into Egypt with
the permission of the Sultan, and he trafficking in precious articles
of silver and of gold, which took him often into the exchange of
Tours. Moreover, he has declared that he considered the said lady, the
subject of inquiry, to be a right royal and natural woman, with the
sweetest limbs, and the smallest he has ever seen. That in consequence
of her renown for a diabolical spirit, pushed by a wild imagination,
and also because that he was smitten with her, he had heard once that
she was husbandless, proposed to her to be her gallant, to which
proposition she willingly acceded. Now, although from that night he
felt his bones disjointed and his bowels crushed, he had not yet
experienced, as certain persons say, that who once yielded was free no
more; he went to his fate as lead into the crucible of the alchemist.
Then the said Salomon, to whom we have granted his liberty according
to the safe conduct, in spite of the statement, which proves
abundantly his commerce with the devil, because he had been saved
there where all Christians have succumbed, has admitted to us an
agreement concerning the said demon. To make known that he had made an
offer to the chapter of the cathedral to give for the said semblance
of a woman such a ransom, if she were condemned to be burned alive,
that the highest of the towers of the Church of St. Maurice, at
present in course of construction, could therewith be finished.

The which we have noted to be deliberated upon at an opportune time by
the assembled chapter. And the said Salomon has taken his departure
without being willing to indicate his residence, and has told us that
he can be informed of the deliberation of the chapter by a Jew of the
synagogue of Tours, a name Tobias Nathaneus. The said Jew has before
his departure been shown the African, and has recognised him as the
page of the demon, and has stated the Saracens to have the custom of
mutilating their slaves thus, to commit to them the task of guarding
their women by an ancient usage, as it appears in the profane
histories of Narsez, general of Constantinople, and others.

On the morrow after mass has appeared before us the most noble and
illustrious lady of Croixmare. The same has worn her faith in the holy
Evangelists, and has related to us with tears how she had placed her
eldest son beneath the earth, dead by reason of his extravagant amours
with this female demon. The which noble gentleman was three-and-twenty
years of age; of good complexion, very manly and well bearded like his
defunct sire. Notwithstanding his great vigour, in ninety days he had
little by little withered, ruined by his commerce with the succubus of
the Rue Chaude, according to the statement of the common people; and
her maternal authority over the son had been powerless. Finally in his
latter days he appeared like a poor dried up worm, such as
housekeepers meet with in a corner when they clean out the
dwelling-rooms. And always, so long as he had the strength to go, he
went to shorten his life with this cursed woman; where, also, he
emptied his cash-box. When he was in his bed, and knew his last hour
had come, he swore at, cursed, and threatened and heaped upon all--his
sister, his brother, and upon her his mother--a thousand insults,
rebelled in the face of the chaplain; denied God, and wished to die in
damnation; at which were much afflicted the retainers of the family,
who, to save his soul and pluck it from hell, have founded two annual
masses in the cathedral. And in order to have him buried in consecrated
ground, the house of Croixmare has undertaken to give to the chapter,
during one hundred years, the wax candles for the chapels and the
church, upon the day of the Paschal feast. And, in conclusion, saving
the wicked words heard by the reverend person, Dom Loys Pot, a nun of
Marmoustiers, who came to assist in his last hours the said Baron de
Croixmaire affirms never to have heard any words offered by the
defunct, touching the demon who had undone him.

And therewith has retired the noble and illustrious lady in deep
mourning.


In the sixth place has appeared before us, after adjournment,
Jacquette, called Vieux-Oing, a kitchen scullion, going to houses to
wash dishes, residing at present in the Fishmarket, who, after having
placed her word to say nothing she did not hold to be true, has
declared as here follows:--Namely, that one day she, being come into
the kitchen of the said demon, of whom she had no fear, because she
was wont to regale herself only upon males, she had the opportunity of
seeing in the garden this female demon, superbly attired, walking in
company with a knight, with whom she was laughing, like a natural
woman. Then she had recognised in this demon that true likeness of the
Moorish woman placed as a nun in the convent of Notre Dame de
l’Egrignolles by the defunct seneschal of Touraine and Poitou, Messire
Bruyn, Count of Roche-Corbon, the which Moorish woman had been left in
the situation and place of the image of our Lady the Virgin, the
mother of our Blessed Saviour, stolen by the Egyptians about eighteen
years since. Of this time, in consequence of the troubles come about
in Touraine, no record has been kept. This girl, aged about twelve
years, was saved from the stake at which she would have been burned by
being baptised; and the said defunct and his wife had then been
godfather and godmother to this child of hell. Being at that time
laundress at the convent, she who bears witness has remembrance of the
flight which the said Egyptian took twenty months after her entry into
the convent, so subtilely that it has never been known how or by what
means she escaped. At that time it was thought by all, that with the
devil’s aid she had flown away in the air, seeing that not
withstanding much search, no trace of her flight was found in the
convent, where everything remained in its accustomed order.

The African having been shown to the said scullion, she has declared
not to have seen him before, although she was curious to do so, as he
was commissioned to guard the place in which the Moorish woman
combated with those whom she drained through the spigot.


In the seventh place has been brought before us Hugues de Fou, son of
the Sieur de Bridore, who, aged twenty years, has been placed in the
hands of his father, under caution of his estates, and by him is
represented in this process, whom it concerns if should be duly
attained and convicted of having, assisted by several unknown and bad
young men, laid siege to the jail of the archbishop and of the
chapter, and of having lent himself to disturb the force of
ecclesiastical justice, by causing the escape of the demon now under
consideration. In spite of the evil disposition we have commanded the
said Hugues de Fou to testify truly, touching the things he should
know concerning the said demon, with whom he is vehemently reputed to
have had commerce, pointing out to him that it was a question of his
salvation and of the life of the said demon. He, after having taken
the oath, he said:--

“I swear by my eternal salvation, and by the holy Evangelists here
present under my hand, to hold the woman suspected of being a demon to
be an angel, a perfect woman, and even more so in mind than in body,
living in all honesty, full of the migniard charms and delights of
love, in no way wicked, but most generous, assisting greatly the poor
and suffering. I declare that I have seen her weeping veritable tears
for the death of my friend, the knight of Croixmare. And because on
that day she had made a vow to our Lady the Virgin no more to receive
the love of young noblemen too weak in her service; she has to me
constantly and with great courage denied the enjoyment of her body,
and has only granted to me love, and the possession of her heart, of
which she has made sovereign. Since this gracious gift, in spite of my
increasing flame I have remained alone in her dwelling, where I have
spent the greater part of my days, happy in seeing and in hearing her.
Oh! I would eat near her, partake of the air which entered into her
lungs, of the light which shone in her sweet eyes, and found in this
occupation more joy than have the lords of paradise. Elected by me to
be forever my lady, chosen to be one day my dove, my wife, and only
sweetheart, I, poor fool, have received from her no advances on the
joys of the future, but, on the contrary, a thousand virtuous
admonitions; such as that I should acquire renown as a good knight,
become a strong man and a fine one, fear nothing except God; honour
the ladies, serve but one and love them in memory of that one; that
when I should be strengthened by the work of war, if her heart still
pleased mine, at that time only would she be mine, because she would
be able to wait for me, loving me so much.”

So saying the young Sire Hugues wept, and weeping, added:--

“That thinking of this graceful and feeble woman, whose arms seemed
scarcely large enough to sustain the light weight of her golden
chains, he did not know how to contain himself while fancying the
irons which would wound her, and the miseries with which she would
traitorously be loaded, and from this cause came his rebellion. And
that he had licence to express his sorrow before justice, because his
life was so bound up with that of his delicious mistress and
sweetheart that on the day when evil came to her he would surely die.”

And the same young man has vociferated a thousand other praises of the
said demon, which bear witness to the vehement sorcery practised upon
him, and prove, moreover, the abominable, unalterable, and incurable
life and the fraudulent witcheries to which he is at present subject,
concerning which our lord the archbishop will judge, in order to save
by exorcisms and penitences this young soul from the snares of hell,
if the devil has not gained too strong a hold of it.

Then we have handed back the said young nobleman into the custody of
the noble lord his father, after that by the said Hugues, the African
has been recognised as the servant of the accused.


In the eighth place, before us, have the footguards of our lord the
archbishop led in great state the MOST HIGH AND REVEREND LADY
JACQUELINE DE CHAMPCHEVRIER, ABBESS OF THE CONVENT OF NOTRE-DAME,
under the invocation of Mount Carmel, to whose control has been
submitted by the late seneschal of Touraine, father of Monseigneur the
Count of Roche-Corbon, present advocate of the said convent, the
Egyptian, named at the baptismal font Blanche Bruyn.

To the said abbess we have shortly stated the present cause, in which
is involved the holy church, the glory of God, and the eternal future
of the people of the diocese afflicted with a demon, and also the life
of a creature who it was possible might be quite innocent. Then the
cause elaborated, we have requested the said noble abbess to testify
that which was within her knowledge concerning the magical
disappearance of her daughter in God, Blanche Bruyn, espoused by our
Saviour under the name of Sister Clare.

Then has stated the very high, very noble, and very illustrious lady
abbess as follows:--

“The Sister Clare, of origin to her unknown, but suspected to be of an
heretic father and mother, people inimical to God, has truly been
placed in religion in the convent of which the government had
canonically come to her in spite of her unworthiness; that the said
sister had properly concluded her noviciate, and made her vows
according to the holy rule of the order. That the vows taken, she had
fallen into great sadness, and had much drooped. Interrogated by her,
the abbess, concerning her melancholy malady, the said sister had
replied with tears that she herself did not know the cause. That one
thousand and one tears engendered themselves in her at feeling no more
her splendid hair upon her head; that besides this she thirsted for
air, and could not resist her desire to jump up into the trees, to
climb and tumble about according to her wont during her open air life;
that she passed her nights in tears, dreaming of the forests under the
leaves of which in other days she slept; and in remembrance of this
she abhorred the quality of the air of the cloisters, which troubled
her respiration; that in her inside she was troubled with evil
vapours; that at times she was inwardly diverted in church by thoughts
which made her lose countenance. Then I have repeated over and over
again to the poor creature the holy directions of the church, have
reminded her of the eternal happiness which women without seeing enjoy
in paradise, and how transitory was life here below, and certain the
goodness of God, who for first certain bitter pleasures lost, kept for
us a love without end. Is spite of this wise maternal advice the evil
spirit has persisted in the said sister; and always would she gaze
upon the leaves of the trees and grass of the meadows through the
windows of the church during the offices and times of prayer; and
persisted in becoming as white as linen in order that she might stay
in her bed, and at certain times she would run about the cloisters
like a goat broken loose from its fastening. Finally, she had grown
thin, lost much of the great beauty, and shrunk away to nothing. While
in this condition by us, the abbess her mother, was she placed in the
sick-room, we daily expecting her to die. One winter’s morning the
said sister had fled, without leaving any trace of her steps, without
breaking the door, forcing of locks, or opening of windows, nor any
sign whatever of the manner of her passage; a frightful adventure
which was believed to have taken place by the aid of the demon which
has annoyed and tormented her. For the rest it was settled by the
authorities of the metropolitan church that the mission of this
daughter of hell was to divert the nuns from their holy ways, and
blinded by their perfect lives, she had returned through the air on
the wings of the sorcerer, who had left her for mockery of our holy
religion in the place of our Virgin Mary.”

The which having said, the lady abbess was, with great honour and
according to the command of our lord the archbishop, accompanied as
far as the convent of Carmel.


In the ninth place, before us has come, agreeably to the citation
served upon him, Joseph, called Leschalopier, a money-changer, living
on the bridge at the sign of the Besant d’Or, who, after having
pledged his Catholic faith to say no other thing than the truth, and
that known to him, touching the process before the ecclesiastical
tribunal, has testified as follows:--“I am a poor father, much
afflicted by the sacred will of God. Before the coming of the Succubus
of the Rue Chaude, I had, for all good, a son as handsome as a noble,
learned as a clerk, and having made more than a dozen voyages into
foreign lands; for the rest a good Catholic; keeping himself on guard
against the needles of love, because he avoided marriage, knowing
himself to be the support of my old days, the love for my eyes, and
the constant delight of my heart. He was a son of whom the King of
France might have been proud--a good and courageous man, the light on
my commerce, the joy of my roof, and, above all, an inestimable
blessing, seeing that I am alone in the world, having had the
misfortune to lose my wife, and being too old to take another. Now,
monseigneur, this treasure without equal has been taken from me, and
cast into hell by the demon. Yes, my lord judge, directly he beheld
this mischievous jade, this she-devil, in whom it is a whole workshop
of perdition, a conjunction of pleasure and delectation, and whom
nothing can satiate, my poor child stuck himself fast into the gluepot
of love, and afterwards lived only between the columns of Venus, and
there did not live long, because in that place like so great a heat
that nothing can satisfy the thirst of this gulf, not even should you
plunge therein the germs of the entire world. Alas! then, my poor boy
--his fortune, his generative hopes, his eternal future, his entire
self, more than himself, have been engulfed in this sewer, like a
grain of corn in the jaws of a bull. By this means become an old
orphan I, who speak, shall have no greater joy than to see burning,
this demon, nourished with blood and gold. This Arachne who has drawn
out and sucked more marriages, more families in the seed, more hearts,
more Christians then there are lepers in all the lazar houses or
Christendom. Burn, torment this fiend--this vampire who feeds on
souls, this tigerish nature that drinks blood, this amorous lamp in
which burns the venom of all the vipers. Close this abyss, the bottom
of which no man can find.... I offer my deniers to the chapter for the
stake, and my arm to light the fire. Watch well, my lord judge, to
surely guard this devil, seeing that she has a fire more flaming than
all other terrestrial fires; she has all the fire of hell in her, the
strength of Samson in her hair, and the sound of celestial music in
her voice. She charms to kill the body and the soul at one stroke; she
smiles to bite, she kisses to devour; in short, she would wheedle an
angel, and make him deny his God. My son! my son! where is he at this
hour? The flower of my life--a flower cut by this feminine needlecase
as with scissors. Ha, lord! why have I been called? Who will give me
back my son, whose soul has been absorbed by a womb which gives death
to all, and life to none? The devil alone copulates, and engenders
not. This is my evidence, which I pray Master Tournebouche to write
without omitting one iota, and to grant me a schedule, that I may tell
it to God every evening in my prayer, to this end to make the blood of
the innocent cry aloud into His ears, and to obtain from His infinite
mercy the pardon for my son.”


Here followed twenty and seven other statements, of which the
transcription in their true objectivity, in all their quality of space
would be over-fastidious, would draw to a great length, and divert the
thread of this curious process--a narrative which, according to
ancient precepts, should go straight to the fact, like a bull to his
principal office. Therefore, here is, in a few words, the substance of
these testimonies.

A great number of good Christians, townsmen and townswomen,
inhabitants of the noble town of Tours, testified the demon to have
held every day wedding feasts and royal festivities, never to have
been seen in any church, to have cursed God, to have mocked the
priests, never to have crossed herself in any place; to have spoken
all the languages of the earth--a gift which has only been granted by
God to the blessed Apostles; to have been many times met in the
fields, mounted upon an unknown animal who went before the clouds; not
to grow old, and to have always a youthful face; to have received the
father and the son on the same day, saying that her door sinned not;
to have visible malign influences which flowed from her, for that a
pastrycook, seated on a bench at her door, having perceived her one
evening, received such a gust of warm love that, going in and getting
to bed, he had with great passion embraced his wife, and was found
dead on the morrow, that the old men of the town went to spend the
remainder of their days and of their money with her, to taste the joys
of the sins of their youth, and that they died like fleas on their
bellies, and that certain of them, while dying, became as black as
Moors; that this demon never allowed herself to be seen neither at
dinner, nor at breakfast, nor at supper, but ate alone, because she
lived upon human brains; that several had seen her during the night go
to the cemeteries, and there embrace the young dead men, because she
was not able to assuage otherwise the devil who worked in her
entrails, and there raged like a tempest, and from that came the
astringent biting, nitrous shooting, precipitant, and diabolical
movements, squeezings, and writhings of love and voluptuousness, from
which several men had emerged bruised, torn, bitten, pinched and
crushed; and that since the coming of our Saviour, who had imprisoned
the master devil in the bellies of the swine, no malignant beast had
ever been seen in any portion of the earth so mischievous, venomous
and so clutching; so much so that if one threw the town of Tours into
this field of Venus, she would there transmute it into the grain of
cities, and this demon would swallow it like a strawberry.

And a thousand other statements, sayings, and depositions, from which
was evident in perfect clearness the infernal generation of this
woman, daughter, sister, niece, spouse, or brother of the devil,
beside abundant proofs of her evil doing, and of the calamity spread
by her in all families. And if it were possible to put them here
conformably with the catalogue preserved by the good man to whom he
accused the discovery, it would seem like a sample of the horrible
cries which the Egyptians gave forth on the day of the seventh plague.
Also this examination has covered with great honour Messire Guillaume
Tournebouche, by whom are quoted all the memoranda. In the tenth
vacation was thus closed this inquest, arriving at a maturity of
proof, furnished with authentic testimony and sufficiently engrossed
with the particulars, plaints, interdicts, contradictions, charges,
assignments, withdrawals, confessions public and private, oaths,
adjournments, appearances and controversies, to which the said demon
must reply. And the townspeople say everywhere if there were really a
she-devil, and furnished with internal horns planted in her nature,
with which she drank the men, and broke them, this woman might swim a
long time in this sea of writing before being landed safe and sound in
hell.


II
THE PROCEEDINGS TAKEN RELATIVE TO THIS FEMALE VAMPIRE.

_In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen._


In the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred and seventy-one,
before us, Hierome Cornille, grand penitentiary and ecclesiastical
judge to this, canonically appointed, have appeared--

The Sire Philippe d’Idre, bailiff of the town and city of Tours and
province of Touraine, living in his hotel in the Rue de la Rotisserie,
in Chateauneuf; Master Jehan Ribou, provost of the brotherhood and
company of drapers, residing on the Quay de Bretaingne, at the image
of St. Pierre-es-liens; Messire Antoine Jehan, alderman and chief of
the Brotherhood of Changers, residing in the Place du Pont, at the
image of St. Mark-counting-tournoise-pounds; Master Martin
Beaupertuys, captain of the archers of the town residing at the
castle; Jehan Rabelais, a ships’ painter and boat maker residing at
the port at the isle of St. Jacques, treasurer of the brotherhood of
the mariners of the Loire; Mark Hierome, called Maschefer, hosier, at
the sign of Saint-Sebastian, president of the trades council; and
Jacques, called de Villedomer, master tavern-keeper and vine dresser,
residing in the High Street, at the Pomme de Pin; to the said Sire
d’Idre, and to the said citizens, we have read the following petition
by them, written, signed, and deliberated upon, to be brought under
the notice of the ecclesiastical tribunal:--


PETITION

We, the undersigned, all citizens of Tours, are come into the hotel of
his worship the Sire d’Idre, bailiff of Touraine, in the absence of
our mayor, and have requested him to hear our plaints and statements
concerning the following facts, which we intend to bring before the
tribunal of the archbishop, the judge of ecclesiastical crimes, to
whom should be deferred the conduct of the cause which we here
expose:--

A long time ago there came into this town a wicked demon in the form
of a woman, who lives in the parish of Saint-Etienne, in the house of
the innkeeper Tortebras, situated in the quit-rent of the chapter, and
under the temporal jurisdiction of the archiepiscopal domain. The
which foreigner carries on the business of a gay woman in a prodigal
and abusive manner, and with such increase of infamy that she
threatens to ruin the Catholic faith in this town, because those who
go to her come back again with their souls lost in every way, and
refuse the assistance of the Church with a thousand scandalous
discourses.

Now considering that a great number of those who yielded to her are
dead, and that arrived in our town with no other wealth than her
beauty, she has, according to public clamour, infinite riches and
right royal treasure, the acquisition of which is vehemently
attributed to sorcery, or at least to robberies committed by the aid
of magical attractions and her supernaturally amorous person.

Considering that it is a question of the honour and security of our
families, and that never before has been seen in this country a woman
wild of body or a daughter of pleasure, carrying on with such mischief
of vocation of light o’ love, and menacing so openly and bitterly the
life, the savings, the morals, chastity, religion, and the everything
of the inhabitants of this town;

Considering that there is need of a inquiry into her person, her
wealth and her deportment, in order to verify if these effects of love
are legitimate, and to not proceed, as would seem indicated by her
manners, from a bewitchment of Satan, who often visits Christianity
under the form of a female, as appears in the holy books, in which it
is stated that our blessed Saviour was carried away into a mountain,
from which Lucifer or Astaroth showed him the fertile plains of Judea
and that in many places have been seen succubi or demons, having the
faces of women, who, not wishing to return to hell, and having with
them an insatiable fire, attempt to refresh and sustain themselves by
sucking in souls;

Considering that in the case of the said woman a thousand proofs of
diablerie are met with, of which certain inhabitants speak openly, and
that it is necessary for the repose of the said woman that the matter
be sifted, in order that she shall not be attacked by certain people,
ruined by the result of her wickedness;

For these causes we pray that it will please you to submit to our
spiritual lord, father of this diocese, the most noble and blessed
archbishop Jehan de Monsoreau, the troubles of his afflicted flock, to
the end that he may advise upon them.

By doing so you will fulfil the duties of your office, as we do those
of preservers of the security of this town, each one according to the
things of which he has charge in his locality.

And we have signed the present, in the year of our Lord one thousand
two hundred and seventy-one, of All Saints’ Day, after mass.

Master Tournebouche having finished the reading of this petition, by
us, Hierome Cornille, has it been said to the petitioners--

“Gentlemen, do you, at the present time, persist in these statements?
have you proofs other than those come within your own knowledge, and
do you undertake to maintain the truth of this before God, before man,
and before the accused?”

All, with the exception of Master Jehan Rabelais, have persisted in
their belief, and the aforesaid Rabelais has withdrawn from the
process, saying that he considered the said Moorish woman to be a
natural woman and a good wench who had no other fault than that of
keeping up a very high temperature of love.

Then we, the judge appointed, have, after mature deliberation, found
matter upon which to proceed in the petition of the aforesaid
citizens, and have commanded that the woman at present in the jail of
the chapter shall be proceeded against by all legal methods, as
written in the canons and ordinances, _contra demonios_. The said
ordinance, embodied in a writ, shall be published by the town-crier in
all parts, and with the sound of the trumpet, in order to make it
known to all, and that each witness may, according to his knowledge,
be confronted with the said demon, and finally the said accused to be
provided with a defender, according to custom, and the interrogations,
and the process to be congruously conducted.

(Signed) HIEROME CORNILLE.

And, lower-down.

TOURNEBOUCHE.


In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.


In the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred and seventy-one, the
10th day of February, after mass, by command of us, Hierome Cornille,
ecclesiastical judge, has been brought from the jail of the chapter
and led before us the woman taken in the house of the innkeeper
Tortebras, situated in the domains of the chapter and the cathedral of
St. Maurice, and are subject to the temporal and seigneurial justice
of the Archbishop of Tours; besides which, in consequence of the
nature of the crimes imputed to her, she is liable to the tribunal and
council of ecclesiastical justice, the which we have made known to
her, to the end that she should not ignore it.

And after a serious reading, entirely at will understood by her, in
the first place of the petition of the town, then of the statements,
plaints, accusations, and proceedings which written in twenty-four
quires by Master Tournebouche, and are above related, we have, with
the invocation and assistance of God and the Church, resolved to
ascertain the truth, first by interrogatories made to the said
accused.

In the first interrogation we have requested the aforesaid to inform
us in what land or town she had been born. By her who speaks was it
answered: “In Mauritania.”

We have then inquired: “If she had a father or mother, or any
relations?” By her who speaks has it been replied: “That she had never
known them.” By us requested to declare her name. By her who speaks
has been replied: “Zulma,” in Arabian tongue.

By us has it been demanded: “Why she spoke our language?” By her who
speaks has it been said: “Because she had come into this country.” By
us has it been asked: “At what time?” By her who speaks has it been
replied: “About twelve years.”

By us has it been asked: “What age she then was?” By her who speaks
has it been answered: “Fifteen years or thereabout.”

By us has it been said: “Then you acknowledge yourself to be
twenty-seven years of age?” By her who speaks has it been replied:
“Yes.”

By us has it been said to her: “That she was then the Moorish child
found in the niche of Madame the Virgin, baptised by the Archbishop,
held at the font by the late Lord of Roche-Corbon and the Lady of
Azay, his wife, afterwards by them placed in religion at the convent
of Mount Carmel, where by her had been made vows of chastity, poverty,
silence, and the love of God, under the divine assistance of St.
Clare?” By her who speaks has been said: “That is true.”

By us has it been asked her: “If, then, she allowed to be true the
declarations of the very noble and illustrious lady the abbess of
Mount Carmel, also the statements of Jacquette, called Vieux-Oing,
being kitchen scullion?” By the accused has been answered: “These
words are true in great measure.”

Then by us has it been said to her: “Then you are a Christian?” And by
her who speaks has been answered: “Yes, my father.”

Then by us has she been requested to make the sign of the cross, and
to take holy water from the brush placed by Master Tournebouche in her
hand; the which having been done, and by us having been witnessed, it
has been admitted as an indisputable fact, that Zulma, the Moorish
woman, called in our country Blanche Bruyn, a nun of the convent under
the invocation of Mount Carmel, there named Sister Clare, and
suspected to be the false appearance of a woman under which is
concealed a demon, has in our presence made act of religion and thus
recognised the justice of the ecclesiastical tribunal.

Then by us have these words been said to her: “My daughter, you are
vehemently suspected to have had recourse to the devil from the manner
in which you left the convent, which was supernatural in every way.”
 By her who speaks has it been stated, that she at that time gained
naturally the fields by the street door after vespers, enveloped in
the robes of Jehan de Marsilis, visitor of the convent, who had hidden
her, the person speaking, in a little hovel belonging to him, situated
in the Cupidon Lane, near a tower in the town. That there this said
priest had to her then speaking, at great length, and most thoroughly
taught the depths of love, of which she then speaking was before in
all points ignorant, for which delights she had a great taste, finding
them of great use. That the Sire d’Amboise having perceived her then
speaking at the window of this retreat, had been smitten with a great
love for her. That she loved him more heartily than the monk, and fled
from the hovel where she was detained for profit of his pleasure by
Don Marsilis. And then she had gone in great haste to Amboise, the
castle of the said lord, where she had had a thousand pastimes,
hunting, and dancing, and beautiful dresses fit for a queen. One day
the Sire de la Roche-Pozay having been invited by the Sire d’Amboise
to come and feast and enjoy himself, the Baron d’Amboise had allowed
him to see her then speaking, as she came out naked from her bath.
That at this sight the said Sire de la Roche-Pozay having fallen
violently in love with her, had on the morrow discomfited in single
combat the Sire d’Amboise, and by great violence, had, is spite of her
tears, taken her to the Holy Land, where she who was speaking had
lived the life of a woman well beloved, and had been held in great
respect on account of her great beauty. That after numerous
adventures, she who was speaking had returned into this country in
spite of the apprehensions of misfortune, because such was the will of
her lord and master, the Baron de Bueil, who was dying of grief in
Asiatic lands, and desired to return to his patrimonial manor. Now he
had promised her who was speaking to preserve her from peril. Now she
who was speaking had faith and belief in him, the more so as she loved
him very much; but on his arrival in this country, the Sire de Bueil
was seized with an illness, and died deplorably, without taking any
remedies, this spite of the fervent requests which she who was
speaking had addressed to him, but without success, because he hated
physicians, master surgeons, and apothecaries; and that this was the
whole truth.

Then by us has it been said to the accused that she then held to be
true the statements of the good Sire Harduin and of the innkeeper
Tortebras. By her who speaks has it been replied, that she recognised
as evidence the greater part, and also as malicious, calumnious, and
imbecile certain portions.

Then by us has the accused been required to declare if she had had
pleasure and carnal commerce with all the men, nobles, citizens, and
others as set forth in the plaints and declarations of the
inhabitants. To which her who speaks has it been answered with great
effrontery: “Pleasure, yes! Commerce, I do not know.”

By us has it been said to her, that all had died by her acts. By her
who speaks has it been said that their deaths could not be the result
of her acts, because she had always refused herself to them, and the
more she fled from them the more they came and embraced her with
infinite passion, and that when she who was speaking was taken by them
she gave herself up to them with all her strength, by the grace of
God, because she had in that more joy than in anything, and has
stated, she who speaks, that she avows her secret sentiments solely
because she had been requested by us to state the whole truth, and
that she the speaker stood in great fear of the torments of the
torturers.

Then by us has she been requested to answer, under pain of torture, in
what state of mind she was when a young nobleman died in consequence
of his commerce with her. Then by her speaking has it been replied,
that she remained quite melancholy and wished to destroy herself; and
prayed God, the Virgin, and the saints to receive her into Paradise,
because never had she met with any but lovely and good hearts in which
was no guile, and beholding them die she fell into a great sadness,
fancying herself to be an evil creature or subject to an evil fate,
which she communicated like the plague.

Then by us has she been requested to state where she paid her orisons.

By her speaking has it been said that she played in her oratory on her
knees before God, who according to the Evangelists, sees and hears all
things and resides in all places.

Then by us has it been demanded why she never frequented the churches,
the offices, nor the feasts. To this by her speaking has it been
answered, that those who came to love her had elected the feast days
for that purpose, and that she speaking did all things to their
liking.

By us has it been remonstrated that, by so doing, she was submissive
to man rather than to the commandments of God.

Then by her speaking has it been stated, that for those who loved her
well she speaking would have thrown herself into a flaming pile, never
having followed in her love any course but that of nature, and that
for the weight of the world in gold she would not have lent her body
or her love to a king who did not love her with his heart, feet, hair,
forehead, and all over. In short and moreover the speaker had never
made an act of harlotry in selling one single grain of love to a man
whom she had not chosen to be hers, and that he who held her in his
arms one hour or kissed her on the mouth a little, possessed her for
the remainder of her days.

Then by us has she been requested to state whence preceded the jewels,
gold plate, silver, precious stones, regal furniture, carpets, et
cetera, worth 200,000 doubloons, according to the inventory found in
her residence and placed in the custody of the treasurer of the
chapter. By the speaker answer has been made, that in us she placed
all her hopes, even as much as in God, but that she dare not reply to
this, because it involved the sweetest things of love upon which she
had always lived. And interpellated anew, the speaker has said that if
the judge knew with what fervour she held him she loved, with what
obedience she followed him in good or evil ways, with what study she
submitted to him, with what happiness she listened to his desires, and
inhaled the sacred words with which his mouth gratified her, in what
adoration she held his person, even we, an old judge, would believe
with her well-beloved, that no sum could pay for this great affection
which all the men ran after. After the speaker has declared never from
any man loved by her, to have solicited any present or gift, and that
she rested perfectly contented to live in their hearts, that she would
there curl herself up with indestructible and ineffable pleasure,
finding herself richer with this heart than with anything, and
thinking of no other thing than to give them more pleasure and
happiness than she received from them. But in spite of the iterated
refusals of the speaker her lovers persisted in graciously rewarding
her. At times one came to her with a necklace of pearls, saying, “This
is to show my darling that the satin of her skin did not falsely
appear to me whiter than pearls” and would put it on the speaker’s
neck, kissing her lovingly. The speaker would be angry at these
follies, but could not refuse to keep a jewel that gave them pleasure
to see it there where they placed it. Each one had a different fancy.
At times another liked to tear the precious garments which the speaker
wore to gratify him; another to deck out the speaker with sapphires on
her arms, on her legs, on her neck, and in her hair; another to seat
her on the carpet, clad in silk or black velvet, and to remain for
days together in ecstasy at the perfections of the speaker the whom
the things desired by her lovers gave infinite pleasure, because these
things rendered them quite happy. And the speaker has said, that as we
love nothing so much as our pleasure, and wish that everything should
shine in beauty and harmonise, outside as well as inside the heart, so
they all wished to see the place inhabited by the speaker adorned with
handsome objects, and from this idea all her lovers were pleased as
much as she was in spreading thereabout gold, silks and flowers. Now
seeing that these lovely things spoil nothing, the speaker had no
force or commandment by which to prevent a knight, or even a rich
citizen beloved by her, having his will, and thus found herself
constrained to receive rare perfumes and other satisfaction with which
the speaker was loaded, and that such was the source of the gold,
plate, carpets, and jewels seized at her house by the officers of
justice. This terminates the first interrogation made to the said
Sister Clare, suspected to be a demon, because we the judge and
Guillaume Tournebouche, are greatly fatigued with having the voice of
the aforesaid, in our ears, and finding our understanding in every way
muddled.

By us the judge has the second interrogatory been appointed, three
days from to-day, in order that the proofs of the possession and
presence of the demon in the body of the aforesaid may be sought, and
the accused, according to the order of the judge, has been taken back
to the jail under the conduct of Master Guillaume Tournebouche.


In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.


On the thirteenth day following of the said month of the February
before us, Hierome Cornille, et cetera, has been produced the Sister
Clare above-mentioned, in order to be interrogated upon the facts and
deeds to her imputed, and of them to be convicted.

By us, the judge, has it been said to the accused that, looking at the
divers responses by her given to the proceeding interrogatories, it
was certain that it never had been in the power of a simple woman,
even if she were authorised, if such licence were allowed to lead the
life of a loose woman, to give pleasure to all, to cause so many
deaths, and to accomplish sorceries so perfect, without the assistance
of a special demon lodged in her body, and to whom her soul had been
sold by an especial compact. That it had been clearly demonstrated
that under her outward appearance lies and moves a demon, the author
of these evils, and that she was now called upon to declare at what
age she had received the demon, to vow the agreement existing between
herself and him, and to tell the truth concerning their common evil
doings. By the speaker was it replied that she would answer us, man,
as to God, who would be judge of all of us. Then has the speaker
pretended never to have seen the demon, neither to have spoken with
him, nor in any way to desire to see him; never to have led the life
of a courtesan, because she, the speaker, had never practised the
various delights that love invents, other than those furnished by the
pleasure which the Sovereign Creator has put in the thing, and to have
always been incited more from the desire of being sweet and good to
the dear lord loved by her, then by an incessantly raging desire. But
if such had been her inclination, the speaker begged us to bear in
mind that she was a poor African girl, in whom God had placed very hot
blood, and in her brain so easy an understanding of the delights of
love, that if a man only looked at her she felt greatly moved in her
heart. That if from desire of acquaintance an amorous gentleman
touched the speaker her on any portion of the body, there passing his
hand, she was, in spite of everything, under his power, because her
heart failed her instantly. By this touch, the apprehension and
remembrance of all the sweet joys of love woke again in her breast,
and there caused an intense heat, which mounted up, flamed in her
veins, and made her love and joy from head to foot. And since the day
when Don Marsilis had first awakened the understanding of the speaker
concerning these things, she had never had any other thought, and
thenceforth recognised love to be a thing so perfectly concordant with
her nature, that it had since been proved to the speaker that in
default of love and natural relief she would have died, withered at
the said convent. As evidence of which, the speaker affirms as a
certainty, that after her flight from the said convent she had not
passed a single day or one particle of time in melancholy and sadness,
but always was she joyous, and thus followed the sacred will of God,
which she believed to have been diverted during the time lost by her
in the convent.

To this was it objected by us, Hierome Cornille, to the said demon,
that in this response she had openly blasphemed against God, because
we had all been made to his greater glory, and placed in the world to
honour and to serve Him, to have before our eyes His blessed
commandments, and to live in sanctity, in order to gain eternal life,
and not to be always in bed, doing that which even the beasts only do
at a certain time. Then by the said sister, has answer been made, that
she honoured God greatly, that in all countries she had taken care of
the poor and suffering, giving them both money and raiment, and that
at the last judgement-day she hoped to have around her a goodly
company of holy works pleasant to God, which would intercede for her.
That but for her humility, a fear of being reproached and of
displeasing the gentlemen of the chapter, she would with joy have
spent her wealth in finishing the cathedral of St. Maurice, and there
have established foundations for the welfare of her soul--would have
spared therein neither her pleasure nor her person, and that with this
idea she would have taken double pleasure in her nights, because each
one of her amours would have added a stone to the building of this
basilic. Also the more this purpose, and for the eternal welfare of
the speaker, would they have right heartily given their wealth.

Then by us has it been said to this demon that she could not justify
the fact of her sterility, because in spite of so much commerce, no
child had been born of her, the which proved the presence of a demon
in her. Moreover, Astaroth alone, or an apostle, could speak all
languages, and she spoke after the manner of all countries, the which
proved the presence of the devil in her. Thereupon the speaker has
asked: “In what consisted the said diversity of language?”--that of
Greek she knew nothing but a Kyrie eleison, of which she made great
use; of Latin, nothing, save Amen, which she said to God, wishing
therewith to obtain her liberty. That for the rest the speaker had
felt great sorrow, being without children, and if the good wives had
them, she believed it was because they took so little pleasure in the
business, and she, the speaker, a little too much. But that such was
doubtless the will of God, who thought that from too great happiness,
the world would be in danger of perishing. Taking this into
consideration, and a thousand other reasons, which sufficiently
establish the presence of the devil in the body of the sister, because
the peculiar property of Lucifer is to always find arguments having
the semblance of truth, we have ordered that in our presence the
torture be applied to the said accused, and that she be well tormented
in order to reduce the said demon by suffering to submit to the
authority of the Church, and have requested to render us assistance
one Francois de Hangest, master surgeon and doctor to the chapter,
charging him by a codicil hereunder written to investigate the
qualities of the feminine nature (virtutes vulvae) of the
above-mentioned woman, to enlighten our religion on the methods
employed by this demon to lay hold of souls in that way, and see if
any article was there apparent.

Then the said Moorish women had wept bitterly, tortured in advance,
and in spite of her irons, has knelt down imploring with cries and
clamour the revocation of this order, objecting that her limbs were in
such a feeble state, and her bones so tender, that they would break
like glass; and finally, has offered to purchase her freedom from this
by the gift all her goods to the chapter, and to quit incontinently
the country.

Upon this, by us has she been required to voluntarily declare herself
to be, and to have always been, demon of the nature of the Succubus,
which is a female devil whose business it is to corrupt Christians by
the blandishments and flagitious delights of love. To this the speaker
has replied that the affirmation would be an abominable falsehood,
seeing that she had always felt herself to be a most natural woman.

Then her irons being struck off by the torturer, the aforesaid has
removed her dress, and has maliciously and with evil design bewildered
and attacked our understandings with the sight of her body, the which,
for a fact, exercises upon a man supernatural coercion.

Master Guillaume Tournebouche has, by reason of nature, quitted the
pen at this period, and retired, objecting that he was unable, without
incredible temptations, which worked in his brain, to be a witness of
this torture, because he felt the devil violently gaining his person.

This finishes the second interrogatory; and as the apparitor and
janitor of the chapter have stated Master Francois de Hangest to be in
the country, the torture and interrogations are appointed for
to-morrow at the hour of noon after mass.

This has been written verbally by me, Hierome, in the absence of
Master Guillaume Tournebouche, on whose behalf it is signed.

HIEROME CORNILLE
Grand Penitentiary.


PETITION

Today, the fourteenth day of the month of February, in the presence of
me, Hierome Cornille, have appeared the said Masters Jehan Ribou,
Antoine Jehan, Martin Beaupertuys, Hierome Maschefer, Jacques de Ville
d’Omer, and the Sire d’Idre, in place of the mayor of the city of
Tours, for the time absent. All plaintiffs designated in the act of
process made at the Town Hall, to whom we have, at the request of
Blanche Bruyn (now confessing herself a nun of the convent of Mount
Carmel, under the name of Sister Clare), declared the appeal made to
the Judgment of God by the said person accused of demonical
possession, and her offer to pass through the ordeal of fire and
water, in presence of the Chapter and of the town of Tours, in order
to prove her reality as a woman and her innocence.

To this request have agreed for their parts, the said accusers, who,
on condition that the town is security for it, have engaged to prepare
a suitable place and a pile, to be approved by the godparents of the
accused.

Then by us, the judge, has the first day of the new year been
appointed for the day of the ordeal--which will be next Paschal Day
--and we have indicated the hour of noon, after mass, each of the
parties having acknowledged this delay to be sufficient.

And the present proclamation shall be cited, at the suit of each of
them, in all the towns, boroughs, and castles of Touraine and the land
of France, at their request and at their cost and suit.

HIEROME CORNILLE.


III
WHAT THE SUCCUBUS DID TO SUCK OUT THE SOUL OF THE OLD JUDGE, AND
WHAT CAME OF THE DIABOLICAL DELECTATION.

This the act of extreme confession made the first day of the month of
March, in the year one thousand two hundred and seventy-one, after the
coming of our blessed Saviour, by Hierome Cornille, priest, canon of
the chapter of the cathedral of St. Maurice, grand penitentiary, of
all acknowledging himself unworthy, who, finding his last hour to be
come, and contrite of his sins, evil doings, forfeits, bad deeds, and
wickednesses, has desired his avowal to be published to serve the
preconisation of the truth, the glory of God, the justice of the
tribunal, and to be an alleviation to him of his punishment, in the
other world. The said Hierome Cornille being on his deathbed, there
had been convoked to hear his declarations, Jehan de la Haye (de
Hago), vicar of the church of St. Maurice; Pietro Guyard, treasurer of
the chapter, appointed by our Lord Jean de Monsoreau, Archbishop, to
write his words; and Dom Louis Pot, a monk of maius MONASTERIUM
(Marmoustier), chosen by him for a spiritual father and confessor; all
three assisted by the great and illustrious Dr Guillaume de Censoris,
Roman Archdeacon, at present sent into the diocese (LEGATUS), by our
Holy Father the Pope; and, finally, in the presence of a great number
of Christians come to be witnesses of the death of the said Hierome
Cornille, upon his known wish to make act of public repentance, seeing
that he was fast sinking, and that his words might open the eyes of
Christians about to fall into hell.

And before him, Hierome, who, by reason of his great weakness could
not speak, has Dom Louis Pot read the following confession to the
great agitation of the said company:--

“My brethren, until the seventy-first year of my age, which is the one
in which I now am, with the exception of the little sins through
which, all holy though he be, a Christian renders himself culpable
before God, but which it is allowed to us to repurchase by penitence,
I believe I led a Christian life, and merited the praise and renown
bestowed upon me in this diocese, where I was raised to the high
office of grand penitentiary, of which I am unworthy. Now, struck with
the knowledge of the infinite glory of God, horrified at the agonies
which await the wicked and prevaricators in hell, I have thought to
lessen the enormity of my sins by the greatest penitence I can show in
the extreme hour at which I am. Thus I have prayed of the Church, whom
I have deceived and betrayed, whose rights and judicial renown I have
sold, to grant me the opportunity of accusing myself publicly in the
manner of ancient Christians. I hoped, in order to show my great
repentance, to have still enough life in me to be reviled at the door
of the cathedral by all my brethren, to remain there an entire day on
my knees, holding a candle, a cord around my neck, and my feet naked,
seeing that I had followed the way of hell with regard to the sacred
instincts of the Church. But in this great shipwreck of my fragile
virtue, which will be to you as a warning to fly from vice and the
snares of the demon, and to take refuge in the Church, where all help
is, I have been so bewitched by Lucifer that our Saviour Jesus Christ
will take, by the intercession of all you whose help and prayers I
request, pity on me, a poor abused Christian, whose eyes now stream
with tears. So would I have another life to spend in works of
penitence. Now then listen and tremble with great fear! Elected by the
assembled Chapter to carry it out, instruct, and complete the process
commenced against a demon, who had appeared in a feminine shape, in
the person of a relapse nun--an abominable person, denying God, and
bearing the name of Zulma in the infidel country whence she comes; the
which devil is known in the diocese under that of Clare, of the
convent of Mount Carmel, and has much afflicted the town by putting
herself under an infinite number of men to gain their souls to Mammon,
Astaroth, and Satan--princes of hell, by making them leave this world
in a state of mortal sin, and causing their death where life has its
source, I have, I the judge, fallen in my latter days into this snare,
and have lost my senses, while acquitting myself traitorously of the
functions committed with great confidence by the Chapter to my cold
senility. Hear how subtle the demon is, and stand firm against her
artifices. While listening to the first response of the aforesaid
Succubus, I saw with horror that the irons placed upon her feet and
hands left no mark there, and was astonished at her hidden strength
and at her apparent weakness. Then my mind was troubled suddenly at
the sight of the natural perfections with which the devil was endowed.
I listened to the music of her voice, which warmed me from head to
foot, and made me desire to be young, to give myself up to this demon,
thinking that for an hour passed in her company my eternal salvation
was but poor payment for the pleasure of love tasted in those slender
arms. Then I lost that firmness with which all judges should be
furnished. This demon by me questioned, reasoned with me in such a
manner that at the second interrogatory I was firmly persuaded I
should be committing a crime in fining and torturing a poor little
creature who cried like an innocent child. Then warned by a voice from
on high to do my duty, and that these golden words, the music of
celestial appearance, were diabolical mummeries, that this body, so
pretty, so infatuating, would transmute itself into a bristly beast
with sharp claws, those eyes so soft into flames of hell, her behind
into a scaly tail, the pretty rosebud mouth and gentle lips into the
jaws of a crocodile, I came back to my intention of having the said
Succubus tortured until she avowed her permission, as this practice
had already been followed in Christianity. Now when this demon showed
herself stripped to me, to be put to the torture, I was suddenly
placed in her power by magical conjurations. I felt my old bones
crack, my brain received a warm light, my heart transhipped young and
boiling blood. I was light in myself, and by virtue of the magic
philter thrown into my eyes the snows on my forehead melted away. I
lost all conscience of my Christian life and found myself a schoolboy,
running about the country, escaped from class and stealing apples. I
had not the power to make the sign of the cross, neither did I
remember the Church, God the Father, nor the sweet Saviour of men. A
prey to this design, I went about the streets thinking over the
delights of that voice, the abominable, pretty body of this demon, and
saying a thousand wicked things to myself. Then pierced and drawn by a
blow of the devil’s fork, who had planted himself already in my head
as a serpent in an oak, I was conducted by this sharp prong towards
the jail, in spite of my guardian angel, who from time to time pulled
me by the arm and defended me against these temptations, but in spite
of his holy advice and his assistance I was dragged by a million claws
stuck into my heart, and soon found myself in the jail. As soon as the
door was opened to me I saw no longer any appearance of a prison,
because the Succubus had there, with the assistance of evil genii or
fays, constructed a pavilion of purple and silk, full of perfumes and
flowers, where she was seated, superbly attired with neither irons on
her neck nor chains on her feet. I allowed myself to be stripped of my
ecclesiastical vestments, and was put into a scent bath. Then the
demon covered me with a Saracen robe, entertained me with a repast of
rare viands contained in precious vases, gold cups, Asiatic wines,
songs and marvellous music, and a thousand sweet sounds that tickled
my soul by means of my ears. At my side kept always the said Succubus,
and her sweet, delectable embrace distilled new ardour into my
members. My guardian angel quitted me. Then I lived only by the
terrible light of the Moorish woman’s eyes, coveted the warm embraces
of the delicate body, wished always to feel her red lips, that I
believed natural, and had no fear of the bite of those teeth which
drew me to the bottom of hell, I delighted to feel the unequalled
softness of her hands without thinking that they were unnatural claws.
In short, I acted like husband desiring to go to his affianced without
thinking that that spouse was everlasting death. I had no thought for
the things of this world nor the interests of God, dreaming only of
love, of the sweet breasts of this woman, who made me burn, and of the
gate of hell in which I wished to cast myself. Alas! my brethren,
during three days and three nights was I thus constrained to toil
without being able to stop the stream which flowed from my reins, in
which were plunged, like two pikes, the hands of the Succubus, which
communicated to my poor old age and to my dried up bones, I know not
what sweat of love. At first this demon, to draw me to her, caused to
flow in my inside the softness of milk, then came poignant joys which
pricked like a hundred needles my bones, my marrow, my brain, and my
nerves. Then all this gone, all things became inflamed, my head, my
blood, my nerves, my flesh, my bones, and then I burned with the real
fire of hell, which caused me torments in my joints, and an
incredible, intolerable, tearing voluptuousness which loosened the
bonds of my life. The tresses of this demon, which enveloped my poor
body, poured upon me a stream of flame, and I felt each lock like a
bar of red iron. During this mortal delectation I saw the ardent face
of the said Succubus, who laughed and addressed to me a thousand
exciting words; such as that I was her knight, her lord, her lance,
her day, her joy, her hero, her life, her good, her rider, and that
she would like to clasp me even closer, wishing to be in my skin or
have me in hers. Hearing which, under the prick of this tongue which
sucked out my soul, I plunged and precipitated myself finally into
hell without finding the bottom. And then when I had no more a drop of
blood in my veins, when my heart no longer beat in my body, and I was
ruined at all points, the demon, still fresh, white, rubicund,
glowing, and laughing, said to me--

“‘Poor fool, to think me a demon! Had I asked thee to sell thy soul
for a kiss, wouldst thou not give it to me with all thy heart?’

“‘Yes,’ said I.

“‘And if always to act thus it were necessary for thee to nourish
thyself with the blood of new-born children in order always to have
new life to spend in my arms, would you not imbibe it willingly?’

“‘Yes,’ said I.

“‘And to be always my gallant horseman, gay as a man in his prime,
feeling life, drinking pleasure, plunging to the depths of joy as a
swimmer into the Loire, wouldst thou not deny God, wouldst thou not
spit in the face of Jesus?’

“‘Yes,’ said I.

“Then I felt a hundred sharp claws which tore my diaphragm as if the
beaks of a thousand birds there took their bellyfuls, shrieking. Then
I was lifted suddenly above the earth upon the said Succubus, who had
spread her wings, and cried to me--

“‘Ride, ride, my gallant rider! Hold yourself firmly on the back of
thy mule, by her mane, by her neck; and ride, ride, my gallant rider
--everything rides!’ And then I saw, as a thick fog, the cities of the
earth, where by a special gift I perceived each one coupled with a
female demon, and tossing about, and engendering in great
concupiscence, all shrieking a thousand words of love and exclamations
of all kinds, and all toiling away with ecstasy. Then my horse with
the Moorish head pointed out to me, still flying and galloping beyond
the clouds, the earth coupled with the sun in a conjunction, from
which proceeded a germ of stars, and there each female world was
embracing a male world; but in place of the words used by creatures,
the worlds were giving forth the howls of tempests, throwing up
lightnings and crying thunders. Then still rising, I saw overhead the
female nature of all things in love with the Prince of Movement. Now,
by way of mockery, the Succubus placed me in the centre of this
horrible and perpetual conflict, where I was lost as a grain of sand
in the sea. Then still cried my white mare to me, ‘Ride, ride my
gallant rider--all things ride!’ Now, thinking how little was a priest
in this torment of the seed of worlds, nature always clasped together,
and metals, stones, waters, airs, thunders, fish, plants, animals,
men, spirits, worlds and planets, all embracing with rage, I denied
the Catholic faith. Then the Succubus, pointing out to me the great
patch of stars seen in heavens, said to me, ‘That way is a drop of
celestial seed escaped from great flow of the worlds in conjunction.’
Thereupon I instantly clasped the Succubus with passion by the light
of a thousand million of stars, and I wished in clasping her to feel
the nature of those thousand million creatures. Then by this great
effort of love I fell impotent in every way, and heard a great
infernal laugh. Then I found myself in my bed, surrounded by my
servitors, who had had the courage to struggle with the demon,
throwing into the bed where I was stretched a basin full of holy
water, and saying fervent prayers to God. Then had I to sustain, in
spite of this assistance, a horrible combat with the said Succubus,
whose claws still clutched my heart, causing me infinite pains; still,
while reanimated by the voice of my servitors, relations, and friends,
I tried to make the sacred sign of the cross; the Succubus perched on
my bed, on the bolster, at the foot, everywhere, occupying herself in
distracting my nerves, laughing, grimacing, putting before my eyes a
thousand obscene images, and causing me a thousand wicked desires.
Nevertheless, taking pity on me, my lord the Archbishop caused the
relics of St. Gatien to be brought, and the moment the shrine had
touched my bed the said Succubus was obliged to depart, leaving an
odour of sulphur and of hell, which made the throats of my servants,
friends, and others sore for a whole day. Then the celestial light of
God having enlightened my soul, I knew I was, through my sins and my
combat with the evil spirit, in great danger of dying. Then did I
implore the especial mercy, to live just a little time to render glory
to God and his Church, objecting the infinite merits of Jesus dead
upon the cross for the salvation of the Christians. By this prayer I
obtained the favour of recovering sufficient strength to accuse myself
of my sins, and to beg of the members of the Church of St. Maurice
their aid and assistance to deliver me from purgatory, where I am
about to atone for my faults by infinite agonies. Finally, I declare
that my proclamation, wherein the said demon appeals the judgment of
God by the ordeals of holy water and a fire, is a subterfuge due to an
evil design suggested by the said demon, who would thus have had the
power to escape the justice of the tribunal of the Archbishop and of
the Chapter, seeing that she secretly confessed to me, to be able to
make another demon accustomed to the ordeal appear in her place. And,
in conclusion, I give and bequeath to the Chapter of the Church of St.
Maurice my property of all kinds, to found a chapter in the said
church, to build it and adorn it and put it under the invocation of
St. Hierome and St. Gatien, of whom one is my patron and the other the
saviour of my soul.”

This, heard by all the company, has been brought to the notice of the
ecclesiastical tribunal by Jehan to la Haye (Johannes de Haga).


We, Jehan de la Haye (Johannes de Haga), elected grand penitentiary of
St. Maurice by the general assembly of the Chapter, according to the
usage and custom of that church, and appointed to pursue afresh the
trial of the demon Succubus, at present in the jail of the Chapter,
have ordered a new inquest, at which will be heard all those of this
diocese having cognisance of the facts relative thereto. We declared
void the other proceedings, interrogations, and decrees, and annul
them in the name of the members of the Church in general, and
sovereign Chapter assembled, and declare that the appeal to God,
traitorously made by the demon, shall not take place, in consequence
of the notorious treachery of the devil in this affair. And the said
judgment shall be cried by sound of trumpet in all parts of the
diocese in which have been published the false edicts of the preceding
month, all notoriously due to the instigation of the demon, according
to the confession of the late Hierome Cornille.

Let all good Christians be of assistance to our Holy Church, and to
her commandments.

JEHAN  DE  LA HAYE.


IV
HOW THE MOORISH WOMAN OF THE RUE CHAUDE TWISTED ABOUT SO BRISKLY
THAT WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY WAS SHE BURNED AND COOKED ALIVE, TO
THE GREAT LOSS OF THE INFERNAL REGIONS.

This was written in the month of May, of the year 1360, after the
manner of a testament.


“My very dear and well-beloved son, when it shall be lawful for thee
to read this I shall be, I thy father, reposing in the tomb, imploring
thy prayers, and supplicating thee to conduct thyself in life as it
will be commanded thee in this rescript, bequeathed for the good
government of thy family, thy future, and safety; for I have done this
at a period when I had my senses and understanding, still recently
affected by the sovereign injustice of men. In my virile age I had a
great ambition to raise myself in the Church, and therein to obtain
the highest dignities, because no life appeared to me more splendid.
Now with this earnest idea, I learned to read and write, and with
great trouble became in a fit condition to enter the clergy. But
because I had no protection, or good advice to superintend my training
I had an idea of becoming the writer, tabellion, and rubrican of the
Chapter of St. Maurice, in which were the highest and richest
personages of Christendom, since the King of France is only therein a
simple canon. Now there I should be able better than anywhere else to
find services to render to certain lords, and thus to find a master or
gain patronage, and by this assistance enter into religion, and be
mitred and esconced in an archiepiscopal chair, somewhere or other.
But this first vision was over credulous, and a little too ambitious,
the which God caused me clearly to perceive by the sequel. In fact,
Messire Jepan de Villedomer, who afterwards became cardinal, was given
this appointment, and I was rejected, discomfited. Now in this unhappy
hour I received an alleviation of my troubles, by the advice of the
good old Hierome Cornille, of whom I have often spoken to you. This
dear man induced me, by his kindness, to become penman to the Chapter
of St. Maurice and the Archbishop of Tours, the which offer I accepted
with joy, since I was reputed a scrivener. At the time I was about to
enter into the presbytery commenced the famous process against the
devil of the Rue Chaude, of which the old folk still talk, and which
in its time, has been recounted in every home in France. Now,
believing that it would be of great advantage to my ambition, and that
for this assistance the Chapter would raise me to some dignity, my
good master had me appointed for the purpose of writing all of that
should be in this grave cause, subject to writing. At the very outset
Monseigneur Hierome Cornille, a man approaching eighty years, of great
sense, justice, and sound understanding, suspected some spitefulness
in this cause, although he was not partial to immodest girls, and had
never been involved with a woman in his life, and was holy and
venerable, with a sanctity which had caused him to be selected as a
judge, all this not withstanding. As soon as the depositions were
completed, and the poor wench heard, it remained clear that although
this merry doxy had broken her religious vows, she was innocent of all
devilry, and that her great wealth was coveted by her enemies, and
other persons, whom I must not name to thee for reasons of prudence.
At this time every one believed her to be so well furnished with
silver and gold that she could have bought the whole county of
Touraine, if so it had pleased her. A thousand falsehoods and
calumnious words concerning the girl, envied by all the honest women,
were circulated and believed in as gospel. At this period Master
Hierome Cornille, having ascertained that no demon other than that of
love was in the girl, made her consent to remain in a convent for the
remainder of her days. And having ascertained certain noble knights
brave in war and rich in domains, that they would do everything to
save her, he invited her secretly to demand of her accusers the
judgment of God, at the same time giving her goods to the chapter, in
order to silence mischievous tongues. By this means would be saved
from the stake the most delicate flower that ever heaven has allowed
to fall upon our earth; the which flower yielded only from excessive
tenderness and amiability to the malady of love, cast by her eyes into
the hearts of all her pursuers. But the real devil, under the form of
a monk, mixed himself up in this affair; in this wise: great enemy of
the virtue, wisdom, and sanctity of Monsignor Hierome Cornille, named
Jehan de la Haye, having learned that in the jail, the poor girl was
treated like a queen, wickedly accused the grand penitentiary of
connivance with her and of being her servitor, because, said this
wicked priest, she makes him young, amorous, and happy, from which the
poor old man died of grief in one day, knowing by this that Jehan de
la Haye had worn his ruin and coveted his dignities. In fact, our lord
the archbishop visited the jail, and found the Moorish woman in a
pleasant place, reposing comfortably, and without irons, because,
having placed a diamond in a place when none could have believed she
could have held it, she had purchased the clemency of her jailer. At
the time certain persons said that this jailer was smitten with her,
and that from love, or perhaps in great fear of the young barons,
lovers of this woman, he had planned her escape. The good man Cornille
being at the point of death, through the treachery of Jehan de la
Haye, the Chapter thinking it necessary to make null and void the
proceedings taken by the penitentiary, and also his decrees, the said
Jehan de la Haye, at that time a simple vicar of the cathedral,
pointed out that to do this it would be sufficient to obtain a public
confession from the good man on his death-bed. Then was the moribund
tortured and tormented by the gentleman of the Chapter, those of Saint
Martin, those of Marmoustiers, by the archbishop and also by the
Pope’s legate, in order that he might recant to the advantage of the
Church, to which the good man would not consent. But after a thousand
ills, the public confession was prepared, at which the most noteworthy
people of the town assisted, and the which spread more horror and
consternation than I can describe. The churches of the diocese held
public prayers for this calamity, and every one expected to see the
devil tumble into his house by the chimney. But the truth of it is
that the good Master Hierome had a fever, and saw cows in his room,
and then was this recantation obtained of him. The access passed, the
poor saint wept copiously on learning this trick from me. In fact, he
died in my arms, assisted by his physicians, heartbroken at this
mummery, telling us that he was going to the feet of God to pray to
prevent the consummation of this deplorable iniquity. The poor Moorish
woman had touched him much by her tears and repentance, seing that
before making her demand for the judgment of God he had minutely
confessed her, and by that means had disentangled the soul divine
which was in the body, and of which he spoke as of a diamond worthy of
adorning the holy crown of God, when she should have departed this
life, after repenting her sins. Then, my dear son, knowing by the
statements made in the town, and by the naive responses of this
unhappy wretch, all the trickery of this affair, I determined by the
advice of Master Francois de Hangest, physician of the chapter, to
feign an illness and quit the service of the Church of St. Maurice and
of the archbishopric, in order not to dip my hands in the innocent
blood, which still cries and will continue to cry aloud unto God until
the day of the last judgment. Then was the jailer dismissed, and in
his place was put the second son of the torturer, who threw the
Moorish woman into a dungeon, and inhumanly put upon her hands and
feet chains weighing fifty pounds, besides a wooden waistband; and the
jail were watched by the crossbowmen of the town and the people of the
archbishop. The wench was tormented and tortured, and her bones were
broken; conquered by sorrow, she made an avowal according to the
wishes of Jehan de la Haye, and was instantly condemned to be burned
in the enclosure of St. Etienne, having been previously placed in the
portals of the church, attired in a chemise of sulphur, and her goods
given over to the Chapter, et cetera. This order was the cause of
great disturbances and fighting in the town, because three young
knights of Touraine swore to die in the service of the poor girl, and
to deliver her in all possible ways. Then they came into the town,
accompanied by thousands of sufferers, labouring people, old soldiers,
warriors, courtesans, and others, whom the said girls had succoured,
saved from misfortune, from hunger and misery, and searched all the
poor dwellings of the town where lay those to whom she had done good.
Thus all were stirred up and called together to the plain of
Mount-Louis under the protection of the soldiers of the said lords;
they had for companions all the scape-graces of the said twenty
leagues around, and came one morning to lay siege to the prison of the
archbishop, demanding that the Moorish woman should be given up to
them as though they would put her to death, but in fact to set her
free, and to place her secretly upon a swift horse, that she might
gain the open country, seeing that she rode like a groom. Then in this
frightful tempest of men have we seen between the battlements of the
archiepiscopal palace and the bridges, more than ten thousand men
swarming, besides those who were perched upon the roofs of the houses
and climbing on all the balconies to see the sedition; in short it was
easy to hear the horrible cries of the Christians, who were terribly in
earnest, and of those who surrounded the jail with the intention of
setting the poor girl free, across the Loire, the other side of Saint
Symphorien. The suffocation and squeezing of bodies was so great in
this immense crowd, bloodthirsty for the poor creature at whose knees
they would have fallen had they had the opportunity of seeing her, that
seven children, eleven women, and eight citizens were crushed and
smashed beyond all recognition, since they were like splodges of mud;
in short, so wide open was the great mouth of this popular leviathan,
this horrible monster, that the clamour was heard at
Montils-les-Tours. All cried ‘Death to the Succubus! Throw out the
demon! Ha! I’d like a quarter! I’ll have her skin! The foot for me, the
mane for thee! The head for me! The something for me! Is it red? Shall
we see? Will it be grilled? Death to her! death!’ Each one had his say.
But the cry, ‘Largesse to God! Death to the Succubus!’ was yelled at
the same time by the crowd so hoarsely and so cruelly that one’s ears
and heart bled therefrom; and the other cries were scarcely heard in
the houses. The archbishop decided, in order to calm this storm which
threatened to overthrow everything, to come out with great pomp from
the church, bearing the host, which would deliver the Chapter from
ruin, since the wicked young men and the lords had sworn to destroy
and burn the cloisters and all the canons. Now by this stratagem the
crowd was obliged to break up, and from lack of provisions return to
their houses. Then the monks of Touraine, the lords, and the citizens,
in great apprehension of pillage on the morrow, held a nocturnal
council, and accepted the advice of the Chapter. By their efforts the
men-at-arms, archers, knights, and citizens, in a large number, kept
watch, and killed a party of shepherds, road menders, and vagrants,
who, knowing the disturbed state of Tours, came to swell the ranks of
the malcontents. The Sire Harduin de Maille, an old nobleman, reasoned
with the young knights, who were the champions of the Moorish woman,
and argued sagely with them, asking them if for so small a woman they
wished to put Touraine to fire and sword; that even if they were
victorious they would be masters of the bad characters brought
together by them; that these said freebooters, after having sacked the
castles of their enemies, would turn to those of their chiefs. That
the rebellion commenced had had no success in the first attack,
because up to that time the place was untouched, could they have any
over the church, which would invoke the aid of the king? And a
thousand other arguments. To these reasons the young knights replied,
that it was easy for the Chapter to aid the girl’s escape in the
night, and that thus the cause of the sedition would be removed. To
this humane and wise requests replied Monseigneur de Censoris, the
Pope’s legate, that it was necessary that strength should remain with
the religion of the Church. And thereupon the poor wench payed for
all, since it was agreed that no inquiry should be made concerning
this sedition.

“Then the Chapter had full licence to proceed to the penance of the
girl, to which act and ecclesiastical ceremony the people came from
twelve leagues around. So that on the day when, after divine
satisfaction, the Succubus was to be delivered up to secular justice,
in order to be publicly burnt at a stake, not for a gold pound would a
lord or even an abbott have been found lodging in the town of Tours.
The night before many camped outside the town in tents, or slept upon
straw. Provisions were lacking, and many who came with their bellies
full, returned with their bellies empty, having seen nothing but the
reflection of the fire in the distance. And the bad characters did
good strokes of business by the way.

“The poor courtesan was half dead; her hair had whitened. She was, to
tell the truth, nothing but a skeleton, scarcely covered with flesh,
and her chains weighed more than she did. If she had had joy in her
life, she paid dearly for it at this moment. Those who saw her pass
say that she wept and shrieked in a way that should have earned the
pity of her hardest pursuers; and in the church there were compelled
to put a piece of wood in her mouth, which she bit as a lizard bites a
stick. Then the executioner tied her to a stake to sustain her, since
she let herself roll at times and fell for want of strength. Then she
suddenly recovered a vigorous handful, because, this notwithstanding,
she was able, it is said to break her cords and escape into the
church, where in remembrance of her old vocation, she climbed quickly
into galleries above, flying like a bird along the little columns and
small friezes. She was about to escape on to the roof when a soldier
perceived her, and thrust his spear in the sole of her foot. In spite
of her foot half cut through, the poor girl still ran along the church
without noticing it, going along with her bones broken and her blood
gushing out, so great fear had she of the flames of the stake. At last
she was taken and bound, thrown into a tumbrel and led to the stake,
without being afterwards heard to utter a cry. The account of her
flight in the church assisted in making the common people believe that
she was the devil, and some of them said that she had flown in the
air. As soon as the executioner of the town threw her into the flames,
she made two or three horrible leaps and fell down into the bottom of
the pile, which burned day and night. On the following evening I went
to see if anything remained of this gentle girl, so sweet, so loving,
but I found nothing but a fragment of the ‘os stomachal,’ in which, is
spite of this, there still remained some moisture, and which some say
still trembled like a woman does in the same place. It is impossible
to tell, my dear son, the sadnesses, without number and without equal,
which for about ten years weighed upon me; always was I thinking of
this angel burnt by wicked men, and always I beheld her with her eyes
full of love. In short the supernatural gifts of this artless child
were shining day and night before me, and I prayed for her in the
church, where she had been martyred. At length I had neither the
strength nor the courage to look without trembling upon the grand
penitentiary Jehan de la Haye, who died eaten up by lice. Leprosy was
his punishment. Fire burned his house and his wife; and all those who
had a hand in the burning had their own hands singed.

“This, my well-beloved son, was the cause of a thousand ideas, which I
have here put into writing to be forever the rule of conduct in our
family.

“I quitted the service of the church, and espoused your mother, from
whom I received infinite blessings, and with whom I shared my life, my
goods, my soul, and all. And she agreed with me in following precepts
--Firstly, that to live happily, it is necessary to keep far away from
church people, to honour them much without giving them leave to enter
your house, any more than to those who by right, just or unjust, are
supposed to be superior to us. Secondly, to take a modest condition,
and to keep oneself in it without wishing to appear in any way rich.
To have a care to excite no envy, nor strike any onesoever in any
manner, because it is needful to be as strong as an oak, which kills
the plants at its feet, to crush envious heads, and even then would
one succumb, since human oaks are especially rare and that no
Tournebouche should flatter himself that he is one, granting that he
be a Tournebouche. Thirdly, never to spend more than one quarter of
one’s income, conceal one’s wealth, hide one’s goods and chattels, to
undertake no office, to go to church like other people, and always
keep one’s thoughts to oneself, seeing that they belong to you and not
to others, who twist them about, turn them after their own fashion,
and make calumnies therefrom. Fourthly, always to remain in the
condition of the Tournebouches, who are now and forever drapers. To
marry your daughters to good drapers, send your sons to be drapers in
other towns of France furnished with these wise precepts, and to bring
them up to the honour of drapery, and without leaving any dream of
ambition in their minds. A draper like a Tournebouche should be their
glory, their arms, their name, their motto, their life. Thus by being
always drapers, they will be always Tournebouches, and rub on like the
good little insects, who, once lodged in the beam, made their dens,
and go on with security to the end of their ball of thread. Fifthly
never to speak any other language than that of drapery, and never to
dispute concerning religion or government. And even though the
government of the state, the province, religion, and God turn about,
or have a fancy to go to the right or to the left, always in your
quality of Tournebouche, stick to your cloth. Thus unnoticed by the
others of the town, the Tournebouches will live in peace with their
little Tournebouches--paying the tithes and taxes, and all that they
are required by force to give, be it to God, or to the king, to the
town of to the parish, with all of whom it is unwise to struggle. Also
it is necessary to keep the patrimonial treasure, to have peace and to
buy peace, never to owe anything, to have corn in the house, and enjoy
yourselves with the doors and windows shut.

“By this means none will take from the Tournebouches, neither the
state, nor the Church, nor the Lords, to whom should the case be that
force is employed, you will lend a few crowns without cherishing the
idea of ever seeing him again--I mean the crowns.

“Thus, in all seasons people will love the Tournebouches, will mock
the Tournebouches as poor people--as the slow Tournebouches, as
Tournebouches of no understanding. Let the know-nothings say on. The
Tournebouches will neither be burned nor hanged, to the advantage of
King or Church, or other people; and the wise Tournebouches will have
secretly money in their pockets, and joy in their houses, hidden from
all.

“Now, my dear son, follow this the counsel of a modest and
middle-class life. Maintain this in thy family as a county charter;
and when you die, let your successor maintain it as the sacred gospel
of the Tournebouches, until God wills it that there be no longer
Tournebouches in this world.”

This letter has been found at the time of the inventory made in the
house of Francois Tournebouche, lord of Veretz, chancellor to
Monseigneur the Dauphin, and condemned at the time of the rebellion of
the said lord against the King to lose his head, and have all his
goods confiscated by order of the Parliament of Paris. The said letter
has been handed to the Governor of Touraine as an historical
curiosity, and joined to the pieces of the process in the
archbishopric of Tours, by me, Pierre Gaultier, Sheriff, President of
the Trades Council.

The author having finished the transcription and deciphering of these
parchments, translating them from their strange language into French,
the donor of them declared that the Rue Chaude at Tours was so called,
according to certain people, because the sun remained there longer
than in all other parts. But in spite of this version, people of lofty
understanding will find, in the warm way of the said Succubus, the
real origin of the said name. In which acquiesces the author. This
teaches us not to abuse our body, but use it wisely in view of our
salvation.



                          DESPAIR IN LOVE

At the time when King Charles the Eighth took it into his head to
decorate the castle of Amboise, they came with him certain workmen,
master sculptors, good painters, and masons, or architects, who
ornamented the galleries with splendid works, which, through neglect,
have since been much spoiled.

At that time the court was staying in this beautiful locality, and, as
everyone knows, the king took great pleasure in watching his people
work out their ideas. Among these foreign gentlemen was an Italian,
named Angelo Cappara, a most worthy young man, and, in spite of his
age, a better sculptor and engraver than any of them; and it
astonished many to see one in the April of his life so clever. Indeed,
there had scarcely sprouted upon his visage the hair which imprints
upon a man virile majesty. To this Angelo the ladies took a great
fancy because he was charming as a dream, and as melancholy as a dove
left solitary in its nest by the death of its mate. And this was the
reason thereof: this sculptor knew the curse of poverty, which mars
and troubles all the actions of life; he lived miserably, eating
little, ashamed of his pennilessness, and made use of his talents only
through great despair, wishing by any means to win that idle life
which is the best all for those whose minds are occupied. The
Florentine, out of bravado, came to the court gallantly attired, and
from the timidity of youth and misfortune dared not ask his money from
the king, who, seeing him thus dressed, believed him well with
everything. The courtiers and the ladies used all to admire his
beautiful works, and also their author; but of money he got none. All,
and the ladies above all, finding him rich by nature, esteemed him
well off with his youth, his long black hair, and bright eyes, and did
not give a thought to lucre, while thinking of these things and the
rest. Indeed they were quite right, since these advantages gave to
many a rascal of the court, lands, money and all. In spite of his
youthful appearance, Master Angelo was twenty years of age, and no
fool, had a large heart, a head full of poetry; and more than that,
was a man of lofty imaginings. But although he had little confidence
in himself, like all poor and unfortunate people, he was astonished at
the success of the ignorant. He fancied that he was ill-fashioned,
either in body or mind, and kept his thoughts to himself. I am wrong,
for he told them in the clear starlight nights to the shadows, to God,
to the devil, and everything about him. At such times he would lament
his fate in having a heart so warm, that doubtless the ladies avoided
him as they would a red-hot iron; then he would say to himself how he
would worship a beautiful mistress, how all his life long he would
honour her, and with what fidelity he would attach himself to her,
with what affection serve her, how studiously obey her commands, with
what sports he would dispel the light clouds of her melancholy sadness
on the days when the skies should be overcast. Fashioning himself one
out of his imagination, he would throw himself at her feet, kiss,
fondle, caress, bite, and clasp her with as much reality as a prisoner
scampers over the grass when he sees the green fields through the bars
of his cell. Thus he would appeal to her mercy; overcome with his
feelings, would stop her breath with his embraces, would become daring
in spite of his respect, and passionately bite the clothes of his bed,
seeking this celestial lady, full of courage when by himself, but
abashed on the morrow if he passed one by. Nevertheless, inflamed by
these amorous advances, he would hammer way anew at his marble
figures, would carve beautiful breasts, to bring the water into one’s
mouth at the sight of those sweet fruits of love, without counting the
other things that he raised, carved, and caressed with the chisels,
smoothed down with his file, and fashioned in a manner that would make
their use intelligible to the mind of a greenhorn, and stain his
verdure in a single day. The ladies would criticise these beauties,
and all of them were smitten with the youthful Cappara. And the
youthful Cappara would eye them up and down, swearing that the day one
of them gave him her little finger to kiss, he would have his desire.

Among these high-born ladies there came one day one by herself to the
young Florentine, asking him why he was so shy, and if none of the
court ladies could make him sociable. Then she graciously invited him
to come to her house that evening.

Master Angelo perfumes himself, purchases a velvet mantle with a
double fringe of satin, borrows from a friend a cloak with wide
sleeves, a slashed doublet, and silken hose, arrives at the house, and
ascends the stairs with hasty feet, hope beaming from his eyes,
knowing not what to do with his heart, which leaped and bounded like a
goat; and, to sum up, so much over head and ears in love, that the
perspiration trickled down his back.

You may be sure the lady was a beautiful, and Master Cappara was the
more aware of it, since in his profession he had studied the mouldings
of the arms, the lines of the body, the secret surroundings of the
sex, and other mysteries. Now this lady satisfied the especial rules
of art; and besides being fair and slender, she had a voice to disturb
life in its source, to stir fire of a heart, brain, and everything; in
short, she put into one’s imagination delicious images of love without
thinking of it, which is the characteristic of these cursed women.

The sculptor found her seated by the fire in a high chair, and the
lady immediately commenced to converse at her ease, although Angelo
could find no other replies than “Yes” and “No,” could get no other
words from his throat nor idea in his brain, and would have beaten his
head against the fireplace but for the happiness of gazing at and
listening to his lovely mistress, who was playing there like a young
fly in the sunshine. Because, which this mute admiration, both
remained until the middle of the night, wandering slowly down the
flowery path of love, the good sculptor went away radiant with
happiness. On the road, he concluded in his own mind, that if a noble
lady kept him rather close to her skirts during four hours of the
night, it would not matter a straw if she kept him there the
remainder. Drawing from these premises certain corollaries, he
resolved to ask her favours as a simple woman. Then he determined to
kill everybody--the husband, the wife, or himself--rather than lose
the distaff whereon to spin one hour of joy. Indeed, he was so mad
with love, that he believed life to be but a small stake in the game
of love, since one single day of it was worth a thousand lives.

The Florentine chiselled away at his statues, thinking of his evening,
and thus spoiled many a nose thinking of something else. Noticing
this, he left his work, perfumed himself, and went to listen to the
sweet words of his lady, with the hope of turning them into deeds; but
when he was in the presence of his sovereign, her feminine majesty
made itself felt, and poor Cappara, such a lion in street, looked
sheepish when gazing at his victim. This notwithstanding, towards the
hour when desire becomes heated, he was almost in the lady’s lap and
held her tightly clasped. He had obtained a kiss, had taken it, much
to his delight; for, when they give it, the ladies retain the right of
refusal, but when they left it to be taken, the lover may take a
thousand. This is the reason why all of them are accustomed to let it
be taken. The Florentine has stolen a great number, and things were
going on admirably, when the lady, who had been thrifty with her
favours, cried, “My husband!”

And, in fact, my lord had just returned from playing tennis, and the
sculptor had to leave the place, but not without receiving a warm
glance from the lady interrupted in her pleasure. This was all his
substance, pittance and enjoyment during a whole month, since on the
brink of his joy always came the said husband, and he always arrived
wisely between a point-blank refusal and those little sweet caresses
with which women always season their refusals--little things which
reanimate love and render it all the stronger. And when the sculptor,
out of patience, commenced, immediately upon his arrival, the skirmish
of the skirt, in order that victory might arrive before the husband,
to whom, no doubt, these disturbances were not without profit, his
fine lady, seeing desire written in the eyes of her sculptor,
commenced endless quarrels and altercations; at first she pretended to
be jealous in order to rail against love; then appeased the anger of
the little one with the moisture of a kiss, then kept the conversation
to herself, and kept on saying that her lover should be good, obedient
to her will, otherwise she would not yield to him her life and soul;
that a desire was a small thing to offer a mistress; that she was more
courageous, because loving more she sacrificed more, and to his
propositions she would exclaim, “Silence, sir!” with the air of a
queen, and at times she would put on an angry look, to reply to the
reproachs of Cappara: “If you are not as I wish you to be, I will no
longer love you.”

The poor Italian saw, when it was too late, that this was not a noble
love, one of those which does not mete out joy as a miser his crowns;
and that this lady took delight in letting him jump about outside the
hedge and be master of everything, provided he touched not the garden
of love. At this business Cappara became a savage enough to kill
anyone, and took with him trusty companions, his friends, to whom he
gave the task of attacking the husband while walking home to bed after
his game of tennis with the king. He came to his lady at the
accustomed hour when the sweet sports of love were in full swing,
which sports were long, lasting kisses, hair twisted and untwisted,
hand bitten with passion, ears as well; indeed, the whole business,
with the exception of that especial thing which good authors rightly
find abominable. The Florentine exclaims between two hearty kisses--

“Sweet one, do you love me more than anything?”

“Yes,” said she, because words never cost anything.

“Well then,” replied the lover, “be mine in deed as in word.”

“But,” said she, “my husband will be here directly.”

“Is that the only reason?” said he.

“Yes.”

“I have friends who will cross him, and will not let him go unless I
show a torch at this window. If he complain to the king, my friends
will say, they thought they were playing a joke on one of their own
set.”

“Ah, my dear,” said she, “let me see if everyone in the house is gone
to bed.”

She rose, and held the light to the window. Seeing which Cappara blew
out the candle, seized his sword, and placing himself in front of the
woman, whose scorn and evil mind he recognised.

“I will not kill you, madame,” said he, “but I will mark your face in
such a manner you will never again coquette with young lovers whose
lives you waste. You have deceived me shamefully, and are not a
respectable woman. You must know that a kiss will never sustain life
in a true lover, and that a kissed mouth needs the rest. Your have
made my life forever dull and wretched; now I will make you remember
forever my death, which you have caused. You shall never again behold
yourself in a glass without seeing there my face also.” Then he raised
his arm, and held the sword ready to cut off a good slice of the fresh
fair cheek, where still all the traces of his kiss remained. And the
lady exclaimed, “You wretch!”

“Hold your tongue,” said he; “you told me that you loved me better
than anything. Now you say otherwise; each evening have you raised me
a little nearer to heaven; with one blow you cast me into hell, and
you think that your petticoat can save you from a lover’s wrath--No!”

“Ah, my Angelo! I am thine,” said she, marvelling at this man glaring
with rage.

But he, stepping three paces back, replied, “Ah, woman of the court
and wicked heart, thou lovest, then, thy face better than thy lover.”

She turned pale, and humbly held up her face, for she understood that
at this moment her past perfidy wronged her present love. With a
single blow Angelo slashed her face, then left her house, and quitted
the country. The husband not having been stopped by reason of that
light which was seen by the Florentines, found his wife minus her left
cheek. But she spoke not a word in spite of her agony; she loved her
Cappara more than life itself. Nevertheless, the husband wished to
know whence preceded this wound. No one having been there except the
Florentine, he complained to the king, who had his workman hastily
pursued, and ordered him to be hanged at Blois. On the day of
execution a noble lady was seized with a desire to save this
courageous man, whom she believed to be a lover of the right sort. She
begged the king to give him to her, which he did willingly. But
Cappara declaring that he belonged entirely to his lady, the memory of
whom he could not banish entirely, entered the Church, became a
cardinal and a great savant, and used to say in his old age that he
had existed upon the remembrance of the joys tasted in those poor
hours of anguish; in which he was, at the same time, both very well
and very badly treated by his lady. There are authors saying
afterwards he succeeded better with his old sweetheart, whose cheek
healed; but I cannot believe this, because he was a man of heart, who
had a high opinion of the holy joys of love.

This teaches us nothing worth knowing, unless it be that there are
unlucky meetings in life, since this tale is in every way true. If in
other places the author has overshot the truth, this one will gain for
him the indulgence of the conclave or lovers.



                              EPILOGUE

This second series comes in the merry month of June, when all is green
and gay, because the poor muse, whose slave the author is, has been
more capricious then the love of a queen, and has mysteriously wished
to bring forth her fruit in the time of flowers. No one can boast
himself master of this fay. At times, when grave thoughts occupy the
mind and grieve the brain, comes the jade whispering her merry tales
in the author’s ear, tickling her lips with her feathers, dancing
sarabands, and making the house echo with her laughter. If by chance
the writer, abandoning science for pleasure, says to her, “Wait a
moment, little one, till I come,” and runs in great haste to play with
the madcap, she has disappeared. She has gone into her hole, hides
herself there, rolls herself up, and retires. Take the poker, take a
staff, a cudgel, a cane, raise them, strike the wench, and rave at
her, she moans; strap her, she moans; caress her, fondle her, she
moans; kiss her, say to her, “Here, little one,” she moans. Now she’s
cold, now she is going to die; adieu to love, adieu to laughter, adieu
to merriment, adieu to good stories. Wear mourning for her, weep and
fancy her dead, groan. Then she raises her head, her merry laugh rings
out again; she spreads her white wings, flies one knows not wither,
turns in the air, capers, shows her impish tail, her woman’s breasts,
her strong loins, and her angelic face, shakes her perfumed tresses,
gambols in the rays of the sun, shines forth in all her beauty,
changes her colours like the breast of a dove, laughs until she cries,
cast the tears of her eyes into the sea, where the fishermen find them
transmuted into pretty pearls, which are gathered to adorn the
foreheads of queens. She twists about like a colt broken loose,
exposing her virgin charms, and a thousand things so fair that a pope
would peril his salvation for her at the mere sight of them. During
these wild pranks of the ungovernable beast you meet fools and
friends, who say to the poor poet, “Where are your tales? Where are
your new volumes? You are a pagan prognosticator. Oh yes, you are
known. You go to fetes and feasts, and do nothing between your meals.
Where’s your work?”

Although I am by nature partial to kindness, I should like to see one
of these people impaled in the Turkish fashion, and thus equipped,
sent on the Love Chase. Here endeth the second series; make the devil
give it a lift with his horns, and it will be well received by a
smiling Christendom.



                             VOLUME III
                        THE THIRD TEN TALES



                              CONTENTS

PROLOGUE
PERSEVERANCE IN LOVE
CONCERNING A PROVOST WHO DID NOT RECOGNISE THINGS
ABOUT THE MONK AMADOR, WHO WAS A GLORIOUS ABBOT OF TURPENAY
BERTHA THE PENITENT
HOW THE PRETTY MAID OF PORTILLON CONVINCED HER JUDGE
IN WHICH IT IS DEMONSTRATED THAT FORTUNE IS ALWAYS FEMININE
CONCERNING A POOR MAN WHO WAS CALLED LE VIEUX PAR-CHEMINS
ODD SAYINGS OF THREE PILGRIMS
INNOCENCE
THE FAIR IMPERIA MARRIED
EPILOGUE



                              PROLOGUE

Certain persons have interrogated the author as to why there was such
a demand for these tales that no year passes without his giving an
instalment of them, and why he has lately taken to writing commas
mixed up with bad syllables, at which the ladies publicly knit their
brows, and have put to him other questions of a like character.

The author declares that these treacherous words, cast like pebbles in
his path, have touched him in the very depths of his heart, and he is
sufficiently cognisant of his duty not to fail to give to his special
audience in this prologue certain reasons other than the preceding
ones, because it is always necessary to reason with children until
they are grown up, understand things, and hold their tongues; and
because he perceives many mischievous fellows among the crowd of noisy
people, who ignore at pleasure the real object of these volumes.

In the first place know, that if certain virtuous ladies--I say
virtuous because common and low class women do not read these stories,
preferring those that are never published; on the contrary, other
citizens’ wives and ladies, of high respectability and godliness,
although doubtless disgusted with the subject-matter, read them
piously to satisfy an evil spirit, and thus keep themselves virtuous.
Do you understand, my good reapers of horns? It is better to be
deceived by the tale of a book than cuckolded through the story of a
gentleman. You are saved the damage by this, poor fools! besides
which, often your lady becomes enamoured, is seized with fecund
agitations to your advantage, raised in her by the present book.
Therefore do these volumes assist to populate the land and maintain it
in mirth, honour and health. I say mirth, because much is to be
derived from these tales. I say honour, because you save your nest
from the claws of that youthful demon named cuckoldom in the language
of the Celts. I say health, because this book incites that which was
prescribed by the Church of Salerno, for the avoidance of cerebral
plethora. Can you derive a like proof in any other typographically
blackened portfolios? Ha! ha! where are the books that make children?
Think! Nowhere. But you will find a glut of children making books
which beget nothing but weariness.

But to continue. Now be it known that when ladies, of a virtuous
nature and a talkative turn of mind, converse publicly on the subject
of these volumes, a great number of them, far from reprimanding the
author, confess that they like him very much, esteem him a valiant
man, worthy to be a monk in the Abbey of Theleme. For as many reasons
as there are stars in the heavens, he does not drop the style which he
has adopted in these said tales, but lets himself be vituperated, and
keeps steadily on his way, because noble France is a woman who refuses
to yield, crying, twisting about, and saying,

“No, no, never! Oh, sir, what are you going to do? I won’t let you;
you’d rumple me.”

And when the volume is done and finished, all smiles, she exclaims,

“Oh, master, are there any more to come?”

You may take it for granted that the author is a merry fellow, who
troubles himself little about the cries, tears and tricks of the lady
you call glory, fashion, or public favour, for he knows her to be a
wanton who would put up with any violence. He knows that in France her
war-cry is _Mount Joy_! A fine cry indeed, but one which certain
writers have disfigured, and which signifies, “Joy it is not of the
earth, it is there; seize it, otherwise good-bye.” The author has this
interpretation from Rabelais, who told it to him. If you search
history, has France ever breathed a word when she was joyous mounted,
bravely mounted, passionately mounted, mounted and out of breath? She
goes furiously at everything, and likes this exercise better than
drinking. Now, do you not see that these volumes are French, joyfully
French, wildly French, French before, French behind, French to the
backbone. Back then, curs! strike up the music; silence, bigots!
advance my merry wags, my little pages, put your soft hands into the
ladies’ hands and tickle them in the middle--of the hand of course.
Ha! ha! these are high sounding and peripatetic reasons, or the author
knows nothing of sound and the philosophy of Aristotle. He has on his
side the crown of France and the oriflamme of the king and Monsieur
St. Denis, who, having lost his head, said “Mount-my-Joy!” Do you mean
to say, you quadrupeds, that the word is wrong? No. It was certainly
heard by a great many people at the time; but in these days of deep
wretchedness you believe nothing concerning the good old saints.

The author has not finished yet. Know all ye who read these tales with
eye and hand, feel them in the head alone, and love them for the joy
they bring you, and which goes to your heart, know that the author
having in an evil hour let his ideas, _id est_, his inheritance, go
astray, and being unable to get them together again, found himself in
a state of mental nudity. Then he cried like the woodcutter in the
prologue of the book of his dear master Rabelais, in order to make
himself heard by the gentleman on high, Lord Paramount of all things,
and obtain from Him fresh ideas. This said Most High, still busy with
the congress of the time, threw to him through Mercury an inkstand
with two cups, on which was engraved, after the manner of a motto,
these three letters, _Ave_. Then the poor fellow, perceiving no other
help, took great care to turn over this said inkstand to find out the
hidden meaning of it, thinking over the mysterious words and trying to
find a key to them. First, he saw that God was polite, like the great
Lord as He is, because the world is His, and He holds the title of it
from no one. But since, in thinking over the days of his youth, he
remembered no great service rendered to God, the author was in doubt
concerning this hollow civility, and pondered long without finding out
the real substance of the celestial utensil. By reason of turning it
and twisting it about, studying it, looking at it, feeling it,
emptying it, knocking it in an interrogatory manner, smacking it down,
standing it up straight, standing it on one side, and turning it
upside down, he read backwards _Eva_. Who is _Eva_, if not all women
in one? Therefore by the Voice Divine was it said to the author:

Think of women; woman will heal thy wound, stop the waste-hole in thy
bag of tricks. Woman is thy wealth; have but one woman, dress,
undress, and fondle that women, make use of the woman--woman is
everything--woman has an inkstand of her own; dip thy pen in that
bottomless inkpot. Women like love; make love to her with the pen
only, tickle her phantasies, and sketch merrily for her a thousand
pictures of love in a thousand pretty ways. Woman is generous, and all
for one, or one for all, must pay the painter, and furnish the hairs
of the brush. Now, muse upon that which is written here. _Ave_, Hail,
_Eva_, woman; or _Eva_, woman, _Ave_, Hail. Yes, she makes and
unmakes. Heigh, then, for the inkstand! What does woman like best?
What does she desire? All the special things of love; and woman is
right. To have children, to produce an imitation, of nature, which is
always in labour. Come to me, then, woman!--come to me, Eva!

With this the author began to dip into that fertile inkpot, where
there was a brain-fluid, concocted by virtues from on high in a
talismanic fashion. From one cup there came serious things, which
wrote themselves in brown ink; and from the other trifling things,
which merely gave a roseate hue to the pages of the manuscript. The
poor author has often, from carelessness, mixed the inks, now here,
now there; but as soon as the heavy sentences, difficult to smooth,
polish, and brighten up, of some work suitable to the taste of the day
are finished, the author, eager to amuse himself, in spite of the
small amount of merry ink remaining in the left cup, steals and bears
eagerly therefrom a few penfuls with great delight. These said penfuls
are, indeed, these same Droll Tales, the authority on which is above
suspicion, because it flows from a divine source, as is shown in this
the author’s naive confession.

Certain evil-disposed people will still cry out at this; but can you
find a man perfectly contented on this lump of mud? Is it not a shame?
In this the author has wisely comported himself in imitation of a
higher power; and he proves it by _atqui_. Listen. Is it not most
clearly demonstrated to the learned that the sovereign Lord of worlds
has made an infinite number of heavy, weighty, and serious machines
with great wheels, large chains, terrible notches, and frightfully
complicated screws and weights like the roasting jack, but also has
amused Himself with little trifles and grotesque things light as
zephyrs, and has made also naive and pleasant creations, at which you
laugh directly you see them? Is it not so? Then in all eccentric
works, such as the very spacious edifice undertaken by the author, in
order to model himself upon the laws of the above-named Lord, it is
necessary to fashion certain delicate flowers, pleasant insects, fine
dragons well twisted, imbricated, and coloured--nay, even gilt,
although he is often short of gold--and throw them at the feet of his
snow-clad mountains, piles of rocks, and other cloud-capped
philosophers, long and terrible works, marble columns, real thoughts
carved in porphyry.

Ah! unclean beasts, who despise and repudiate the figures, phantasies,
harmonies, and roulades of the fair muse of drollery, will you not
pare your claws, so that you may never again scratch her white skin,
all azure with veins, her amorous reins, her flanks of surpassing
elegance, her feet that stay modestly in bed, her satin face, her
lustrous features, her heart devoid of bitterness? Ah! wooden-heads,
what will you say when you find that this merry lass springs from the
heart of France, agrees with all that is womanly in nature, has been
saluted with a polite _Ave_! by the angels in the person of their
spokesman, Mercury, and finally, is the clearest quintessence of Art.
In this work are to be met with necessity, virtue, whim, the desire of
a woman, the votive offering of a stout Pantagruelist, all are here.
Hold your peace, then, drink to the author, and let his inkstand with
the double cup endow the Gay Science with a hundred glorious Droll
Tales.

Stand back then, curs; strike up the music! Silence, bigots; out of
the way, dunces! step forward my merry wags!--my little pages! give
your soft hand to the ladies, and tickle theirs in the centre in a
pretty manner, saying to them, “Read to laugh.” Afterwards you can
tell them some mere jest to make them roar, since when they are
laughing their lips are apart, and they make but a faint resistance to
love.



                        PERSEVERANCE IN LOVE

During the first years of the thirteenth century after the coming of
our Divine Saviour there happened in the City of Paris an amorous
adventure, through the deed of a man of Tours, of which the town and
even the king’s court was never tired of speaking. As to the clergy,
you will see by that which is related the part they played in this
history, the testimony of which was by them preserved. This said man,
called the Touranian by the common people, because he had been born in
our merry Touraine, had for his true name that of Anseau. In his
latter days the good man returned into his own country and was mayor
of St. Martin, according to the chronicles of the abbey of that town;
but at Paris he was a great silversmith.

But now in his prime, by his great honesty, his labours, and so forth,
he became a citizen of Paris and subject of the king, whose protection
he bought, according to the custom of the period. He had a house built
for him free of all quit-rent, close the Church of St. Leu, in the Rue
St. Denis, where his forge was well-known by those in want of fine
jewels. Although he was a Touranian, and had plenty of spirit and
animation, he kept himself virtuous as a true saint, in spite of the
blandishments of the city, and had passed the days of his green season
without once dragging his good name through the mire. Many will say
this passes the bounds of that faculty of belief which God has placed
in us to aid that faith due to the mysteries of our holy religion; so
it is needful to demonstrate abundantly the secret cause of this
silversmith’s chastity. And, first remember that he came into the town
on foot, poor as Job, according to the old saying; and unlike all the
inhabitants of our part of the country, who have but one passion, he
had a character of iron, and persevered in the path he had chosen as
steadily as a monk in vengeance. As a workman, he laboured from morn
to night; become a master, he laboured still, always learning new
secrets, seeking new receipts, and in seeking, meeting with inventions
of all kinds. Late idlers, watchmen, and vagrants saw always a modest
lamp shining through the silversmith’s window, and the good man
tapping, sculpting, rounding, distilling, modeling, and finishing,
with his apprentices, his door closed and his ears open. Poverty
engendered hard work, hard work engendered his wonderful virtue, and
his virtue engendered his great wealth. Take this to heart, ye
children of Cain who eat doubloons and micturate water. If the good
silversmith felt himself possessed with wild desires, which now in one
way, now another, seize upon an unhappy bachelor when the devil tries
to get hold of him, making the sign of the cross, the Touranian
hammered away at his metal, drove out the rebellious spirits from his
brain by bending down over the exquisite works of art, little
engravings, figures of gold and silver forms, with which he appeased
the anger of his Venus. Add to this that this Touranian was an artless
man, of simple understanding, fearing God above all things, then
robbers, next to that of nobles, and more than all, a disturbance.
Although if he had two hands, he never did more than one thing at a
time. His voice was as gentle as that of a bridegroom before marriage.
Although the clergy, the military, and others gave him no reputation
for knowledge, he knew well his mother’s Latin, and spoke it correctly
without waiting to be asked. Latterly the Parisians had taught him to
walk uprightly, not to beat the bush for others, to measure his
passions by the rule of his revenues, not to let them take his leather
to make other’s shoes, to trust no one farther then he could see them,
never to say what he did, and always to do what he said; never to
spill anything but water; to have a better memory than flies usually
have; to keep his hands to himself, to do the same with his purse; to
avoid a crowd at the corner of a street, and sell his jewels for more
than they cost him; all things, the sage observance of which gave him
as much wisdom as he had need of to do business comfortably and
pleasantly. And so he did, without troubling anyone else. And watching
this good little man unobserved, many said,

“By my faith, I should like to be this jeweller, even were I obliged
to splash myself up to the eyes with the mud of Paris during a hundred
years for it.”

They might just as well have wished to be king of France, seeing that
the silversmith had great powerful nervous arms, so wonderfully strong
that when he closed his fist the cleverest trick of the roughest
fellow could not open it; from which you may be sure that whatever he
got hold of he stuck to. More than this, he had teeth fit to masticate
iron, a stomach to dissolve it, a duodenum to digest it, a sphincter
to let it out again without tearing, and shoulders that would bear a
universe upon them, like that pagan gentleman to whom the job was
confided, and whom the timely arrival of Jesus Christ discharged from
the duty. He was, in fact, a man made with one stroke, and they are
the best, for those who have to be touched are worth nothing, being
patched up and finished at odd times. In short, Master Anseau was a
thorough man, with a lion’s face, and under his eyebrows a glance that
would melt his gold if the fire of his forge had gone out, but a
limpid water placed in his eyes by the great Moderator of all things
tempered this great ardour, without which he would have burnt up
everything. Was he not a splendid specimen of a man?

With such a sample of his cardinal virtues, some persist in asking why
the good silversmith remained as unmarried as an oyster, seeing that
these properties of nature are of good use in all places. But these
opinionated critics, do they know what it is to love? Ho! Ho! Easy!
The vocation of a lover is to go, to come, to listen, to watch, to
hold his tongue, to talk, to stick in a corner, to make himself big,
to make himself little, to agree, to play music, to drudge, to go to
the devil wherever he may be, to count the gray peas in the dovecote,
to find flowers under the snow, to say paternosters to the moon, to
pat the cat and pat the dog, to salute the friends, to flatter the
gout, or the cold of the aunt, to say to her at opportune moments “You
have good looks, and will yet write the epitaph of the human race.” To
please all the relations, to tread on no one’s corns, to break no
glasses, to waste no breath, to talk nonsense, to hold ice in his
hand, to say, “This is good!” or, “Really, madam, you are very
beautiful so.” And to vary that in a hundred different ways. To keep
himself cool, to bear himself like a nobleman, to have a free tongue
and a modest one, to endure with a smile all the evils the devil may
invent on his behalf, to smother his anger, to hold nature in control,
to have the finger of God, and the tail of the devil, to reward the
mother, the cousin, the servant; in fact, to put a good face on
everything. In default of which the female escapes and leaves you in a
fix, without giving a single Christian reason. In fact, the lover of
the most gentle maid that God ever created in a good-tempered moment,
had he talked like a book, jumped like a flea, turned about like dice,
played like King David, and built for the aforesaid woman the
Corinthian order of the columns of the devil, if he failed in the
essential and hidden thing which pleases his lady above all others,
which often she does not know herself and which he has need to know,
the lass leaves him like a red leper. She is quite right. No one can
blame her for so doing. When this happens some men become
ill-tempered, cross, and more wretched than you can possibly imagine.
Have not many of them killed themselves through this petticoat tyranny?
In this matter the man distinguishes himself from the beast, seeing that
no animal ever yet lost his senses through blighted love, which proves
abundantly that animals have no souls. The employment of a lover is
that of a mountebank, of a soldier, of a quack, of a buffoon, of a
prince, of a ninny, of a king, of an idler, of a monk, of a dupe, of a
blackguard, of a liar, of a braggart, of a sycophant, of a numskull,
of a frivolous fool, of a blockhead, of a know-nothing, of a knave. An
employment from which Jesus abstained, in imitation of whom folks of
great understanding likewise disdain it; it is a vocation in which a
man of worth is required to spend above all things, his time, his
life, his blood, his best words, besides his heart, his soul, and his
brain; things to which the women are cruelly partial, because directly
their tongues begin to go, they say among themselves that if they have
not the whole of a man they have none of him. Be sure, also, that
there are cats, who, knitting their eyebrows, complain that a man does
but a hundred things for them, for the purpose of finding out if there
be a hundred, at first seeing that in everything they desire the most
thorough spirit of conquest and tyranny. And this high jurisprudence
has always flourished among the customs of Paris, where the women
receive more wit at their baptism than in any other place in the
world, and thus are mischievous by birth.

But our silversmith, always busy at his work, burnishing gold and
melting silver, had no time to warm his love or to burnish and make
shine his fantasies, nor to show off, gad about, waste his time in
mischief, or to run after she-males. Now seeing that in Paris virgins
do not fall into the beds of young men any more than roast pheasants
into the streets, not even when the young men are royal silversmiths,
the Touranian had the advantage of having, as I have before observed,
a continent member in his shirt. However, the good man could not close
his eyes to the advantage of nature with which were so amply furnished
the ladies with whom he dilated upon the value of his jewels. So it
was that, after listening to the gentle discourse of the ladies, who
tried to wheedle and to fondle him to obtain a favour from him, the
good Touranian would return to his home, dreamy as a poet, wretched as
a restless cuckoo, and would say to himself, “I must take to myself a
wife. She would keep the house tidy, keep the plates hot for me, fold
the clothes for me, sew my buttons on, sing merrily about the house,
tease me to do everything according to her taste, would say to me as
they all say to their husbands when they want a jewel, ‘Oh, my own
pet, look at this, is it not pretty?’ And every one in the quarter
will think of my wife and then of me, and say ‘There’s a happy man.’
Then the getting married, the bridal festivities, to fondle Madame
Silversmith, to dress her superbly, give her a fine gold chain, to
worship her from crown to toe, to give her the whole management of the
house, except the cash, to give her a nice little room upstairs, with
good windows, pretty, and hung around with tapestry, with a wonderful
chest in it and a fine large bed, with twisted columns and curtains of
yellow silk. He would buy her beautiful mirrors, and there would
always be a dozen or so of children, his and hers, when he came home
to greet him.” Then wife and children would vanish into the clouds. He
transferred his melancholy imaginings to fantastic designs, fashioned
his amorous thoughts into grotesque jewels that pleased their buyers
well, they not knowing how many wives and children were lost in the
productions of the good man, who, the more talent he threw into his
art, the more disordered he became. Now if God had not had pity upon
him, he would have quitted this world without knowing what love was,
but would have known it in the other without that metamorphosis of the
flesh which spares it, according to Monsieur Plato, a man of some
authority, but who, not being a Christian, was wrong. But, there!
these preparatory digressions are the idle digressions and fastidious
commentaries which certain unbelievers compel a man to wind about a
tale, swaddling clothes about an infant when it should run about stark
naked. May the great devil give them a clyster with his red-hot
three-pronged fork. I am going on with my story now without further
circumlocution.

This is what happened to the silversmith in the one-and-fortieth year
of his age. One Sabbath-day while walking on the left bank of the
Seine, led by an idle fancy, he ventured as far as that meadow which
has since been called the Pre-aux-Clercs and which at that time was in
the domain of the abbey of St. Germain, and not in that of the
University. There, still strolling on the Touranian found himself in
the open fields, and there met a poor young girl who, seeing that he
was well-dressed, curtsied to him, saying “Heaven preserve you,
monseigneur.” In saying this her voice had such sympathetic sweetness
that the silversmith felt his soul ravished by this feminine melody,
and conceived an affection for the girl, the more so as, tormented
with ideas of marriage as he was, everything was favourable thereto.
Nevertheless, as he had passed the wench by he dared not go back,
because he was as timid as a young maid who would die in her
petticoats rather than raise them for her pleasure. But when he was a
bowshot off he bethought him that he was a man who for ten years had
been a master silversmith, had become a citizen, and was a man of
mark, and could look a woman in the face if his fancy so led him, the
more so as his imagination had great power over him. So he turned
suddenly back, as if he had changed the direction of his stroll, and
came upon the girl, who held by an old cord her poor cow, who was
munching grass that had grown on the border of a ditch at the side of
the road.

“Ah, my pretty one,” said he, “you are not overburdened with the goods
of this world that you thus work with your hands upon the Lord’s Day.
Are you not afraid of being cast into prison?”

“Monseigneur,” replied the maid, casting down her eyes, “I have
nothing to fear, because I belong to the abbey. The Lord Abbot has
given me leave to exercise the cow after vespers.”

“You love your cow, then, more than the salvation of your soul?”

“Ah, monseigneur, our beast is almost the half of our poor lives.”

“I am astonished, my girl, to see you poor and in rags, clothed like a
fagot, running barefoot about the fields on the Sabbath, when you
carry about you more treasures than you could dig up in the grounds of
the abbey. Do not the townspeople pursue, and torment you with love?”

“Oh, never monseigneur. I belong to the abbey”, replied she, showing
the jeweller a collar on her left arm like those that the beasts of
the field have, but without the little bell, and at the same time
casting such a deplorable glance at our townsman that he was stricken
quite sad, for by the eyes are communicated contagions of the heart
when they are strong.

“And what does this mean?” he said, wishing to hear all about it.

And he touched the collar, upon which was engraved the arms of the
abbey very distinctly, but which he did not wish to see.

“Monseigneur, I am the daughter of an homme de corps; thus whoever
unites himself to me by marriage, will become a bondsman, even if he
were a citizen of Paris, and would belong body and goods to the abbey.
If he loved me otherwise, his children would still belong to the
domain. For this reason I am neglected by everyone, abandoned like a
poor beast of the field. But what makes me most unhappy is, that
according to the pleasure of monseigneur the abbot, I shall be coupled
at some time with a bondsman. And if I were less ugly than I am, at
the sight of my collar the most amorous would flee from me as from the
black plague.”

So saying, she pulled her cow by the cord to make it follow her.

“And how old are you?” asked the silversmith.

“I do not know, monseigneur; but our master, the abbot, has kept
account.”

This great misery touched the heart of the good man, who had in his
day eaten the bread of sorrow. He regulated his pace to the girl’s,
and they went together towards the water in painful silence. The good
man gazed at the fine forehead, the round red arms, the queen’s waist,
the feet dusty, but made like those of a Virgin Mary; and the sweet
physiognomy of this girl, who was the living image of St. Genevieve,
the patroness of Paris, and the maidens who live in the fields. And
make sure that this Joseph suspected the pretty white of this sweet
girl’s breasts, which were by a modest grace carefully covered with an
old rag, and looked at them as a schoolboy looks at a rosy apple on a
hot day. Also, may you depend upon it that these little hillocks of
nature denoted a wench fashioned with delicious perfection, like
everything that the monks possess. Now, the more it was forbidden our
silversmith to touch them, the more his mouth watered for these fruits
of love. And his heart leaped almost into his mouth.

“You have a fine cow,” said he.

“Would you like a little milk?” replied she. “It is so warm these
early days of May. You are far from the town.”

In truth, the sky was a cloudless blue, and glared like a forge.
Everything was radiant with youth, the leaves, the air, the girls, the
lads; everything was burning, was green, and smelt like balm. This
naive offer, made without the hope of recompense, though a byzant
would not have paid for the special grace of this speech; and the
modesty of the gesture with which the poor girl turned to him gained
the heart of the jeweller, who would have liked to be able to put this
bondswoman into the skin of a queen, and Paris at her feet.

“Nay, my child, I thirst not for milk, but for you, whom I would have
leave to liberate.”

“That cannot be, and I shall die the property of the abbey. For years
we have lived so, from father to son, from mother to daughter. Like my
ancestors, I shall pass my days on this land, as will also my
children, because the abbot cannot legally let us go.”

“What!” said the Touranian; “has no gallant been tempted by your
bright eyes to buy your liberty, as I bought mine from the king?”

“It would cost too dear; thus it is those whom at first sight I
please, go as they came.”

“And you have never thought of gaining another country in company of a
lover on horseback on a fleet courser?”

“Oh yes. But, monseigneur, if I were caught I should be hanged at
least; and my gallant, even were he a lord, would lose more than one
domain over it, besides other things. I am not worth so much; besides,
the abbey has arms longer than my feet are swift. So I live on in
perfect obedience to God, who has placed me in this plight.”

“What is your father?”

“He tends the vines in the gardens of the abbey.”

“And your mother?”

“She is a washerwoman.”

“And what is your name?”

“I have no name, dear sir. My father was baptised Etienne, my mother
is Etienne, and I am Tiennette, at your service.”

“Sweetheart,” said the jeweller, “never has woman pleased me as you
please me; and I believe that your heart contains a wealth of
goodness. Now, since you offered yourself to my eyes at the moment
when I was firmly deliberating upon taking a companion, I believe that
I see in you a sign from heaven! And if I am not displeasing to you, I
beg you to accept me as your friend.”

Immediately the maid lowered her eyes. These words were uttered in
such a way, in so grave a tone, so penetrating a manner, that the said
Tiennette burst into tears.

“No, monseigneur, I should be the cause of a thousand
unpleasantnesses, and of your misfortune. For a poor bondsmaid, the
conversation has gone far enough.”

“Ho!” cried Anseau; “you do not know, my child, the man you are
dealing with.”

The Touranian crossed himself, joined his hands, and said--

“I make a vow to Monsieur the Saint Eloi, under whose invocation are
the silversmiths, to fashion two images of pure silver, with the best
workmanship I am able to perform. One shall be a statue of Madame the
Virgin, to this end, to thank her for the liberty of my dear wife; and
the other for my said patron, if I am successful in my undertaking to
liberate the bondswoman Tiennette here present, and for which I rely
upon his assistance. Moreover, I swear by my eternal salvation, to
persevere with courage in this affair, to spend therein all I process,
and only to quit it with my life. God has heard me,” said he. “And
you, little one,” he added, turning towards the maid.

“Ha! monseigneur, look! My cow is running about the fields,” cried
she, sobbing at the good man’s knees. “I will love you all my life;
but withdraw your vow.”

“Let us to look after the cow,” said the silversmith, raising her,
without daring yet to kiss her, although the maid was well disposed to
it.

“Yes,” said she, “for I shall be beaten.”

And behold now the silversmith, scampering after the cursed cow, who
gave no heed to their amours; she was taken by the horns, and held in
the grip of the Touranian, who for a trifle would have thrown her in
the air, like a straw.

“Adieu, my sweet one! If you go into the town, come to my house, over
against St Leu’s Church. I am called Master Anseau, and am silversmith
to the King of France, at the sign of St. Eloi. Make me a promise to
be in this field the next Lord’s-Day; fail not to come, even should it
rain halberds.”

“Yes, dear Sir. For this I would leap the walls, and, in gratitude,
would I be yours without mischief, and cause you no sorrow, at the
price of my everlasting future. Awaiting the happy moment, I will pray
God for you with all my heart.”

And then she remained standing like a stone saint, moving not, until
she could see the good citizen no longer, and he went away with
lagging steps, turning from time to time further to gaze upon her. And
when he was far off, and out of her sight, she stayed on, until
nightfall, lost in meditation, knowing not if she had dreamed that
which had happened to her. Then she went back to the house, where she
was beaten for staying out, but felt not the blows. The good
silversmith could neither eat nor drink, but closed his workshop,
possessed of this girl, thinking of nothing but this girl, seeing
everywhere the girl; everything to him being to possess this girl. Now
when the morrow was come, he went with great apprehension towards the
abbey to speak to the lord abbot. On the road, however, he suddenly
thought of putting himself under the protection of one of the king’s
people, and with this idea returned to the court, which was then held
in the town. Being esteemed by all for his prudence, and loved for his
little works and kindnesses, the king’s chamberlain--for whom he had
once made, for a present to a lady of the court, a golden casket set
with precious stones and unique of its kind--promised him assistance,
had a horse saddled for himself, and a hack for the silversmith, with
whom he set out for the abbey, and asked to see the abbot, who was
Monseigneur Hugon de Sennecterre, aged ninety-three. Being come into
the room with the silversmith, waiting nervously to receive his
sentence, the chamberlain begged the abbot to sell him in advance a
thing which was easy for him to sell, and which would be pleasant to
him.

To which the abbot replied, looking at the chamberlain--

“That the canons inhibited and forbade him thus to engage his word.”

“Behold, my dear father,” said the chamberlain, “the jeweller of the
Court who has conceived a great love for a bondswoman belonging to
your abbey, and I request you, in consideration of my obliging you in
any such desire as you may wish to see accomplished, to emancipate
this maid.”

“Which is she?” asked the abbot of the citizen.

“Her name is Tiennette,” answered the silversmith, timidly.

“Ho! ho!” said the good old Hugon, smiling. “The angler has caught us
a good fish! This is a grave business, and I know not how to decide by
myself.”

“I know, my father, what those words mean,” said that chamberlain,
knitting his brows.

“Fine sir,” said the abbot, “know you what this maid is worth?”

The abbot ordered Tiennette to be fetched, telling his clerk to dress
her in her finest clothes, and to make her look as nice as possible.

“Your love is in danger,” said that chamberlain to the silversmith,
pulling him on one side. “Dismiss this fantasy. You can meet anywhere,
even at Court, with women of wealth, young and pretty, who would
willingly marry you. For this, if need be, the king would assist you
by giving you some title, which in course of time would enable you to
found a good family. Are you sufficiently well furnished with crowns
to become the founder of a noble line?”

“I know not, monseigneur,” replied Anseau. “I have put money by.”

“Then see if you cannot buy the manumission of this maid. I know the
monks. With them money does everything.”

“Monseigneur,” said the silversmith to the abbot, coming towards him,
“you have the charge and office representing here below the goodness
of God, who is often clement towards us, and has infinite treasures of
mercy for our sorrows. Now, I will remember you each evening and each
morning in my prayers, and never forget that I received my happiness
at your hands, if you aid me to gain this maid in lawful wedlock,
without keeping in servitude the children born of this union. And for
this I will make you a receptacle for the Holy Eucharist, so
elaborate, so rich with gold, precious stones and winged angels, that
no other shall be like it in all Christendom. It shall remain unique,
it shall dazzle your eyesight, and shall be so far the glory of your
altar, that the people of the towns and foreign nobles shall rush to
it, so magnificent shall it be.”

“My son,” replied the abbot “have you lost your senses? If you are so
resolved to have this wench for a legal wife, your goods and your
person belong to the Chapter of the abbey.”

“Yes, monseigneur, I am passionately in love with this girl, and more
touched with her misery and her Christian heart than even with her
perfections; but I am,” said he, with tears in his eyes, “still more
astonished at your harshness, and I say it although I know that my
fate is in your hands. Yes, monseigneur, I know the law; and if my
goods fall to your domain, if I become a bondsman, if I lose my house
and my citizenship, I will still keep that engine, gained by my
labours and my studies, on which lies there,” cried he, striking his
forehead “in a place of which no one, save God, can be lord but
myself. And your whole abbey could not pay for the special creations
which proceed therefrom. You may have my body, my wife, my children,
but nothing shall get you my engine; nay, not even torture, seeing
that I am stronger than iron is hard, and more patient than sorrow is
great.”

So saying, the silversmith, enraged by the calmness of the abbot, who
seemed resolved to acquire for the abbey the good man’s doubloons,
brought down his fist upon an oaken chair and shivered it into
fragments, for it split as under the blow of a mace.

“Behold, monseigneur, what kind of servant you will have, and of an
artificer of things divine you will make a mere cart-horse.”

“My son,” replied the abbot, “you have wrongfully broken my chair, and
lightly judged my mind. This wench belongs to the abbey and not to me.
I am the faithful servant of the rights and customs of this glorious
monastery; although I might grant this woman license to bear free
children, I am responsible for this to God and to the abbey. Now,
since there was here an altar, bondsmen and monks, _id est_, from time
immemorial, there has never occurred the case of a citizen becoming
the property of the abbey by marriage with a bondswoman. Now,
therefore, is there need to exercise the right, and to make use of it
so that it would not be lost, weakened, worn out, or fallen into
disuse, which would occasion a thousand difficulties. And this is of
higher advantage to the State and to the abbey than your stones,
however beautiful they be, seeing that we have treasure wherewith to
buy rare jewels, and that no treasure can establish customs and laws.
I call upon the king’s chamberlain to bear witness to the infinite
pains which his majesty takes every day to fight for the establishment
of his orders.”

“That is to close my mouth,” said the chamberlain.

The silversmith, who was not a great scholar, remained thoughtful.
Then came Tiennette, clean as a new pin, her hair raised up, dressed
in a robe of white wool with a blue sash, with tiny shoes and white
stockings; in fact, so royally beautiful, so noble in her bearing was
she, that the silversmith was petrified with ecstasy, and the
chamberlain confessed he had never seen so perfect a creature.
Thinking there was too much danger in this sight for the poor
jeweller, he led him into the town, and begged him to think no further
of the affair, since the abbey was not likely to liberate so good a
bait for the citizens and nobles of the Parisian stream. In fact, the
Chapter let the poor lover know that if he married this girl he must
resolve to yield up his goods and his house to the abbey, consider
himself a bondsman, both he and the children of the aforesaid
marriage; although, by a special grace, the abbey would let him his
house on the condition of his giving an inventory of his furniture and
paying a yearly rent, and coming during eight days to live in a shed
adjoining the domain, thus performing an act of service. The
silversmith, to whom everyone spoke of the cupidity of the monks, saw
clearly that the abbot would incommutably maintain this order, and his
soul was filled with despair. At one time he determined to burn down
the monastery; at another, he proposed to lure the abbot into a place
where he could torment him until he had signed a charter for
Tiennette’s liberation; in fact a thousand ideas possessed his brain,
and as quickly evaporated. But after much lamentation he determined to
carry off the girl, and fly with her into her a sure place from which
nothing could draw him, and made his preparations accordingly; for
once out of the kingdom, his friends or the king could better tackle
the monks and bring them to reason. The good man counted, however,
without his abbot, for going to the meadows, he found Tiennette no
more there, and learned that she was confined in the abbey, and with
much rigour, that to get at her it would be necessary to lay siege to
the monastery. Then Master Anseau passed his time in tears,
complaints, and lamentations; and all the city, the townspeople, and
housewives, talked of his adventure, the noise of which was so great,
that the king sent for the old abbot to court, and demanded of him why
he did not yield under the circumstances to the great love of the
silversmith, and why he did not put into practice Christian charity.

“Because, monseigneur,” replied the priest, “all rights are knit
together like the pieces of a coat of mail, and if one makes default,
all fail. If this girl was taken from us against our wish, and if the
custom were not observed, your subjects would soon take off your
crown, and raise up in various places violence and sedition, in order
to abolish the taxes and imposts that weigh upon the populace.”

The king’s mouth was closed. Everyone was eager to know the end of
this adventure. So great was the curiosity that certain lords wagered
that the Touranian would desist from his love, and the ladies wagered
to the contrary. The silversmith having complained to the queen that
the monks had hidden his well-beloved from his sight, she found the
deed detestable and horrible; and in consequence of her commands to
the lord abbot it was permitted to the Touranian to go every day into
the parlour of the abbey, where came Tiennette, but under the control
of an old monk, and she always came attired in great splendour like a
lady. The two lovers had no other license than to see each other, and
to speak to each other, without being able to snatch the smallest atom
of pleasure, and always grew their love more powerful.

One day Tiennette discoursed thus with her lover--“My dear lord, I
have determined to make you a gift of my life, in order to relieve
your suffering, and in this wise; in informing myself concerning
everything I have found a means to set aside the rights of the abbey,
and to give you all the joy you hope for from my fruition.”

“The ecclesiastical judge has ruled that as you become a bondsman only
by accession, and because you were not born a bondsman, your servitude
will cease with the cause that makes you a serf. Now, if you love me
more than all else, lose your goods to purchase our happiness, and
espouse me. Then when you have had your will of me, when you have
hugged me and embraced me to your heart’s content, before I have
offspring will I voluntarily kill myself, and thus you become free
again; at least you will have the king on your side, who, it is said,
wishes you well. And without doubt, God will pardon me that I cause my
own death, in order to deliver my lord spouse.”

“My dear Tiennette,” cried the jeweller, “it is finished--I will be a
bondsman, and thou wilt live to make my happiness as long as my days.
In thy company, the hardest chains will weigh but lightly, and little
shall I reck the want of gold, when all my riches are in thy heart,
and my only pleasure in thy sweet body. I place myself in the hands of
St. Eloi, will deign in this misery to look upon us with pitying eyes,
and guard us from all evils. Now I shall go hence to a scrivener to
have the deeds and contracts drawn up. At least, dear flower of my
days, thou shalt be gorgeously attired, well housed, and served like a
queen during thy lifetime, since the lord abbot leaves me the earnings
of my profession.”

Tiennette, crying and laughing, tried to put off her good fortune and
wished to die, rather than reduce to slavery a free man; but the good
Anseau whispered such soft words to her, and threatened so firmly to
follow her to the tomb, that she agreed to the said marriage, thinking
that she could always free herself after having tasted the pleasures
of love.

When the submission of the Touranian became known in the town, and
that for his sweetheart he yielded up his wealth and his liberty,
everyone wished to see him. The ladies of the court encumbered
themselves with jewels, in order to speak with him, and there fell
upon him as from the clouds women enough to make up for the time he
had been without them; but if any of them approached Tiennette in
beauty, none had her heart. To be brief, when the hour of slavery and
love was at hand, Anseau remolded all of his gold into a royal crown,
in which he fixed all his pearls and diamonds, and went secretly to
the queen, and gave it to her, saying, “Madame, I know not how to
dispose of my fortune, which you here behold. Tomorrow everything that
is found in my house will be the property of the cursed monks, who
have had no pity on me. Then deign, madame, to accept this. It is a
slight return for the joy which, through you, I have experienced in
seeing her I love; for no sum of money is worth one of her glances. I
do not know what will become of me, but if one day my children are
delivered, I rely upon your queenly generosity.”

“Well said, good man,” cried the king. “The abbey will one day need my
aid and I will not lose the remembrance of this.”

There was a vast crowd at the abbey for the nuptials of Tiennette, to
whom the queen presented the bridal dress, and to whom the king
granted a licence to wear every day golden rings in her ears. When the
charming pair came from the abbey to the house of Anseau (now serf)
over against St. Leu, there were torches at the windows to see them
pass, and a double line in the streets, as though it were a royal
entry. The poor husband had made himself a collar of gold, which he
wore on his left arm in token of his belonging to the abbey of St.
Germain. But in spite of his servitude the people cried out, “Noel!
Noel!” as to a new crowned king. And the good man bowed to them
gracefully, happy as a lover, and joyful at the homage which every one
rendered to the grace and modesty of Tiennette. Then the good
Touranian found green boughs and violets in crowns in his honour; and
the principal inhabitants of the quarter were all there, who as a
great honour, played music to him, and cried to him, “You will always
be a noble man in spite of the abbey.” You may be sure that the happy
pair indulged an amorous conflict to their hearts’ content; that the
good man’s blows were vigorous; and that his sweetheart, like a good
country maiden, was of a nature to return them. Thus they lived
together a whole month, happy as the doves, who in springtime build
their nest twig by twig. Tiennette was delighted with the beautiful
house and the customers, who came and went away astonished at her.
This month of flowers past, there came one day, with great pomp, the
good old Abbot Hugon, their lord and master, who entered the house,
which then belonged not the jeweller but to the Chapter, and said to
the two spouses:--

“My children, you are released, free and quit of everything; and I
should tell you that from the first I was much struck with the love
which united you one to the other. The rights of the abbey once
recognised, I was, so far as I was concerned, determined to restore
you to perfect enjoyment, after having proved your loyalty by the test
of God. And this manumission will cost you nothing.” Having thus said,
he gave them each a little tap with his hand on the cheek. And they
fell about his knees weeping tears of joy for such good reasons. The
Touranian informed the people of the neighbourhood, who picked up in
the street the largesse, and received the predictions of the good
Abbott Hugon.

Then it was with great honour, Master Anseau held the reins of his
mule, so far as the gate of Bussy. During the journey the jeweller,
who had taken a bag of silver, threw the pieces to the poor and
suffering, crying, “Largesse, largesse to God! God save and guard the
abbot! Long live the good Lord Hugon!” And returning to his house he
regaled his friends, and had fresh wedding festivities, which lasted a
fortnight. You can imagine that the abbot was reproached by the
Chapter, for his clemency in opening the door for such good prey to
escape, so that when a year after the good man Hugon fell ill, his
prior told him that it was a punishment from Heaven because he had
neglected the sacred interests of the Chapter and of God.

“If I have judged that man aright,” said the abbot, “he will not
forget what he owes us.”

In fact, this day happening by chance to be the anniversary of the
marriage, a monk came to announce that the silversmith supplicated his
benefactor to receive him. Soon he entered the room where the abbot
was, and spread out before him two marvellous shrines, which since
that time no workman has surpassed, in any portion of the Christian
world, and which were named “Vow of a Steadfast Love.” These two
treasures are, as everyone knows, placed on the principal altar of the
church, and are esteemed as an inestimable work, for the silversmith
had spent therein all his wealth. Nevertheless, this wealth, far from
emptying his purse, filled it full to overflowing, because so rapidly
increased his fame and his fortune that he was able to buy a patent of
nobility and lands, and he founded the house of Anseau, which has
since been held in great honour in fair Touraine.

This teaches us to have always recourse to God and the saints in all
the undertakings of life, to be steadfast in all things, and, above
all, that a great love triumphs over everything, which is an old
sentence; but the author has rewritten it because it is a most
pleasant one.



         CONCERNING A PROVOST WHO DID NOT RECOGNISE THINGS

In the good town of Bourges, at the time when that lord the king
disported himself there, who afterwards abandoned his search after
pleasure to conquer the kingdom, and did indeed conquer it, lived
there a provost, entrusted by him with the maintenance of order, and
called the provost-royal. From which came, under the glorious son of
the said king, the office of provost of the hotel, in which behaved
rather harshly my lord Tristan of Mere, of whom these tales oft make
mention, although he was by no means a merry fellow. I give this
information to the friends who pilfer from old manuscripts to
manufacture new ones, and I show thereby how learned these Tales
really are, without appearing to be so. Very well, then, this provost
was named Picot or Picault, of which some made picotin, picoter, and
picoree; by some Pitot or Pitaut, from which comes _pitance_; by
others in Languedoc, Pichot from which comes nothing comes worth
knowing; by these Petiot or Petiet; by those Petitot and Petinault, or
Petiniaud, which was the masonic appellation; but at Bourges he was
called Petit, a name which was eventually adopted by the family, which
has multiplied exceedingly, for everywhere you find “_des Petits_,”
 and so he will be called Petit in this narrative. I have given this
etymology in order to throw a light on our language, and show how our
citizens have finished by acquiring names. But enough of science.

This said provost, who had as many names as there were provinces into
which the court went, was in reality a little bit of a man, whose
mother had given him so strange a hide, that when he wanted to laugh
he used to stretch his cheeks like a cow making water, and this smile
at court was called the provost’s smile. One day the king, hearing
this proverbial expression used by certain lords, said jokingly--

“You are in error, gentlemen, Petit does not laugh, he’s short of skin
below the mouth.”

But with his forced laugh Petit was all the more suited to his
occupation of watching and catching evil-doers. In fact, he was worth
what he cost. For all malice, he was a bit of a cuckold, for all vice,
he went to vespers, for all wisdom he obeyed God, when it was
convenient; for all joy he had a wife in his house; and for all change
in his joy he looked for a man to hang, and when he was asked to find
one he never failed to meet him; but when he was between the sheets he
never troubled himself about thieves. Can you find in all Christendom
a more virtuous provost? No! All provosts hang too little, or too
much, while this one just hanged as much as was necessary to be a
provost.

This good fellow had for his wife in legitimate marriage, and much to
the astonishment of everyone, the prettiest little woman in Bourges.
So it was that often, while on his road to the execution, he would ask
God the same question as several others in the town did--namely, why
he, Petit, he the sheriff, he the provost royal, had to himself,
Petit, provost royal and sheriff, a wife so exquisitely shapely, said
dowered with charms, that a donkey seeing her pass by would bray with
delight. To this God vouchsafed no reply, and doubtless had his
reasons. But the slanderous tongues of the town replied for him, that
the young lady was by no means a maiden when she became the wife of
Petit. Others said she did not keep her affections solely for him. The
wags answered, that donkeys often get into fine stables. Everyone had
taunts ready which would have made a nice little collection had anyone
gathered them together. From them, however, it is necessary to take
nearly four-fourths, seeing that Petit’s wife was a virtuous woman,
who had a lover for pleasure and a husband for duty. How many were
there in the town as careful of their hearts and mouths? If you can
point out one to me, I’ll give you a kick or a half-penny, whichever
you like. You will find some who have neither husband nor lover.
Certain females have a lover and no husband. Ugly women have a husband
and no lover. But to meet with a woman who, having one husband and one
lover, keeps to the deuce without trying for the trey, there is the
miracle, you see, you greenhorns, blockheads, and dolts! Now then, put
the true character of this virtuous woman on the tablets of your
memory, go your ways, and let me go mine.

The good Madame Petit was not one of those ladies who are always on
the move, running hither and thither, can’t keep still a moment, but
trot about, worrying, hurrying, chattering, and clattering, and had
nothing in them to keep them steady, but are so light that they run
after a gastric zephyr as after their quintessence. No; on the
contrary, she was a good housewife, always sitting in her chair or
sleeping in her bed, ready as a candlestick, waiting for her lover
when her husband went out, receiving the husband when the lover had
gone. This dear woman never thought of dressing herself only to annoy
and make other wives jealous. Pish! She had found a better use for the
merry time of youth, and put life into her joints in order to make the
best use of it. Now you know the provost and his good wife.

The provost’s lieutenant in duties matrimonial, duties which are so
heavy that it takes two men to execute them, was a noble lord, a
landowner, who disliked the king exceedingly. You must bear this in
mind, because it is one of the principal points of the story. The
Constable, who was a thorough Scotch gentleman, had seen by chance
Petit’s wife, and wished to have a little conversation with her
comfortably, towards the morning, just the time to tell his beads,
which was Christianly honest, or honestly Christian, in order to argue
with her concerning the things of science or the science of things.
Thinking herself quite learned enough, Madame Petit, who was, as has
been stated, a virtuous, wise, and honest wife, refused to listen to
the said constable. After certain arguments, reasonings, tricks and
messages, which were of no avail, he swore by his great black
_coquedouille_ that he would rip up the gallant although he was a man
of mark. But he swore nothing about the lady. This denotes a good
Frenchman, for in such a dilemma there are certain offended persons
who would upset the whole business of three persons by killing four.
The constable wagered his big black _coquedouille_ before the king and
the lady of Sorel, who were playing cards before supper; and his
majesty was well pleased, because he would be relieved of this noble,
that displeased him, and that without costing him a Thank You.

“And how will you manage the affair?” said Madame de Sorel to him,
with a smile.

“Oh, oh!” replied the constable. “You may be sure, madame, I do not
wish to lose my big black coquedouille.”

“What was, then, this great coquedouille?”

“Ha, ha! This point is shrouded in darkness to a degree that would
make you ruin your eyes in ancient books; but it was certainly
something of great importance. Nevertheless, let us put on our
spectacles, and search it out. _Douille_ signifies in Brittany, a
girl, and _coque_ means a cook’s frying pan. From this word has come
into France that of _coquin_--a knave who eats, licks, laps, sucks,
and fritters his money away, and gets into stews; is always in hot
water, and eats up everything, leads an idle life, and doing this,
becomes wicked, becomes poor, and that incites him to steal or beg.
From this it may be concluded by the learned that the great
coquedouille was a household utensil in the shape of a kettle used for
cooking things.”

“Well,” continued the constable, who was the Sieur of Richmond, “I
will have the husband ordered to go into the country for a day and a
night, to arrest certain peasants suspected of plotting treacherously
with the English. Thereupon my two pigeons, believing their man
absent, will be as merry as soldiers off duty; and, if a certain thing
takes place, I will let loose the provost, sending him, in the king’s
name, to search the house where the couple will be, in order that he
may slay our friend, who pretends to have this good cordelier all to
himself.”

“What does this mean?” said the Lady of Beaute.

“Friar . . . fryer . . . an _equivoque_,” answered the king, smiling.

“Come to supper,” said Madame Agnes. “You are bad men, who with one
word insult both the citizens’ wives and a holy order.”

Now, for a long time, Madame Petit had longed to have a night of
liberty, during which she might visit the house of the said noble,
where she could make as much noise as she liked, without waking the
neighbours, because at the provost’s house she was afraid of being
overheard, and had to content herself well with the pilferings of
love, little tastes, and nibbles, daring at the most only to trot,
while what she desired was a smart gallop. On the morrow, therefore,
the lady’s-maid went off about midday to the young lord’s house, and
told the lover--from whom she received many presents, and therefore in
no way disliked him--that he might make his preparations for pleasure,
and for supper, for that he might rely upon the provost’s better half
being with him in the evening both hungry and thirsty.

“Good!” said he. “Tell your mistress I will not stint her in anything
she desires.”

The pages of the cunning constable, who were watching the house,
seeing the gallant prepare for his gallantries, and set out the
flagons and the meats, went and informed their master that everything
had happened as he wished. Hearing this, the good constable rubbed his
hands thinking how nicely the provost would catch the pair. He
instantly sent word to him, that by the king’s express commands he was
to return to town, in order that he might seize at the said lord’s
house an English nobleman, with whom he was vehemently suspected to be
arranging a plot of diabolical darkness. But before he put this order
into execution, he was to come to the king’s hotel, in order that he
might understand the courtesy to be exercised in this case. The
provost, joyous at the chance of speaking to the king, used such
diligence that he was in town just at that time when the two lovers
were singing the first note of their evening hymn. The lord of
cuckoldom and its surrounding lands, who is a strange lord, managed
things so well, that madame was only conversing with her lord lover at
the time that her lord spouse was talking to the constable and the
king; at which he was pleased, and so was his wife--a case of concord
rare in matrimony.

“I was saying to monseigneur,” said the constable to the provost, as
he entered the king’s apartment, “that every man in the kingdom has a
right to kill his wife and her lover if he finds them in an act of
infidelity. But his majesty, who is clement, argues that he has only a
right to kill the man, and not the woman. Now what would you do, Mr.
Provost, if by chance you found a gentleman taking a stroll in that
fair meadow of which laws, human and divine, enjoin you alone to
cultivate the verdure?”

“I would kill everything,” said the provost; “I would scrunch the five
hundred thousand devils of nature, flower and seed, and send them
flying, the pips and apples, the grass and the meadow, the woman and
the man.”

“You would be in the wrong,” said the king. “That is contrary to the
laws of the Church and of the State; of the State, because you might
deprive me of a subject; of the Church, because you would be sending
an innocent to limbo unshriven.”

“Sire, I admire your profound wisdom, and I clearly perceive you to be
the centre of all justice.”

“We can then only kill the knight--Amen,” said constable, “Kill the
horseman. Now go quickly to the house of the suspected lord, but
without letting yourself be bamboozled, do not forget what is due to
his position.”

The provost, believing he would certainly be Chancellor of France if
he properly acquitted himself of the task, went from the castle into
the town, took his men, arrived at the nobleman’s residence, arranged
his people outside, placed guards at all the doors, opened noiselessly
by order of the king, climbs the stairs, asks the servants in which
room their master is, puts them under arrest, goes up alone, and
knocks at the door of the room where the two lovers are tilting in
love’s tournament, and says to them--

“Open, in the name of our lord the king!”

The lady recognised her husband’s voice, and could not repress a
smile, thinking that she had not waited for the king’s orders to do
what she had done. But after laughter came terror. Her lover took his
cloak, threw it over him, and came to the door. There, not knowing
that his life was in peril, he declared that he belonged to the court
and to the king’s household.

“Bah!” said the provost. “I have a strict order from the king; and
under pain of being treated as a rebel, you are bound instantly to
receive me.”

Then the lord went out to him, still holding the door.

“What do you want here?”

“An enemy of our lord the king, whom we command you to deliver into
our hands, otherwise you must follow me with him to the castle.”

This, thought the lover, is a piece of treachery on the part of the
constable, whose proposition my dear mistress treated with scorn. We
must get out of this scrape in some way. Then turning towards the
provost, he went double or quits on the risk, reasoning thus with the
cuckold:--

“My friend, you know that I consider you but as gallant a man as it is
possible for a provost to be in the discharge of his duty. Now, can I
have confidence in you? I have here with me the fairest lady of the
court. As for Englishmen, I have not sufficient of one to make the
breakfast of the constable, M. de Richmond, who sends you here. This
is (to be candid with you) the result of a bet made between myself and
the constable, who shares it with the King. Both have wagered that
they know who is the lady of my heart; and I have wagered to the
contrary. No one more than myself hates the English, who took my
estates in Piccadilly. Is it not a knavish trick to put justice in
motion against me? Ho! Ho! my lord constable, a chamberlain is worth
two of you, and I will beat you yet. My dear Petit, I give you
permission to search by night and by day, every nook and cranny of my
house. But come in here alone, search my room, turn the bed over, do
what you like. Only allow me to cover with a cloth or a handkerchief
this fair lady, who is at present in the costume of an archangel, in
order that you may not know to what husband she belongs.”

“Willingly,” said the provost. “But I am an old bird, not easily
caught with chaff, and would like to be sure that it is really a lady
of the court, and not an Englishman, for these English have flesh as
white and soft as women, and I know it well, because I’ve hanged so
many of them.”

“Well then,” said the lord, “seeing of what crime I am suspected, from
which I am bound to free myself, I will go and ask my lady-love to
consent for a moment to abandon her modesty. She is too fond of me to
refuse to save me from reproach. I will beg her to turn herself over
and show you a physiognomy, which will in no way compromise her, and
will be sufficient to enable you to recognise a noble woman, although
she will be in a sense upside down.”

“All right,” said the provost.

The lady having heard every word, had folded up all her clothes, and
put them under the bolster, had taken off her chemise, that her
husband should not recognise it, had twisted her head up in a sheet,
and had brought to light the carnal convexities which commenced where
her spine finished.

“Come in, my friend,” said the lord.

The provost looked up the chimney, opened the cupboard, the clothes’
chest, felt under the bed, in the sheets, and everywhere. Then he
began to study what was on the bed.

“My lord,” said he, regarding his legitimate appurtenances, “I have
seen young English lads with backs like that. You must forgive me
doing my duty, but I must see otherwise.”

“What do you call otherwise?” said the lord.

“Well, the other physiognomy, or, if you prefer it, the physiognomy of
the other.”

“Then you will allow madame to cover herself and arrange only to show
you sufficient to convince you,” said the lover, knowing that the lady
had a mark or two easy to recognise. “Turn your back a moment, so that
my dear lady may satisfy propriety.”

The wife smiled at her lover, kissed him for his dexterity, arranging
herself cunningly; and the husband seeing in full that which the jade
had never let him see before, was quite convinced that no English
person could be thus fashioned without being a charming Englishwoman.

“Yes, my lord,” he whispered in the ear of his lieutenant, “this is
certainly a lady of the court, because the towns-women are neither so
well formed nor so charming.”

Then the house being thoroughly searched, and no Englishman found, the
provost returned, as the constable had told him, to the king’s
residence.

“Is he slain?” said the constable.

“Who?”

“He who grafted horns upon your forehead.”

“I only saw a lady in his couch, who seemed to be greatly enjoying
herself with him.”

“You, with your own eyes, saw this woman, cursed cuckold, and you did
not kill your rival?”

“It was not a common woman, but a lady of the court.”

“You saw her?”

“And verified her in both cases.”

“What do you mean by those words?” cried the king, who was bursting
with laughter.

“I say, with all the respect due to your Majesty, that I have verified
the over and the under.”

“You do not, then, know the physiognomies of your own wife, you old
fool without memory! You deserve to be hanged.”

“I hold those features of my wife in too great respect to gaze upon
them. Besides she is so modest that she would die rather than expose
an atom of her body.”

“True,” said the king; “it was not made to be shown.”

“Old coquedouille! that was your wife,” said the constable.

“My lord constable, she is asleep, poor girl!”

“Quick, quick, then! To horse! Let us be off, and if she be in your
house I’ll forgive you.”

Then the constable, followed by the provost, went to the latter’s
house in less time than it would have taken a beggar to empty the
poor-box.

“Hullo! there, hi!”

Hearing the noise made by the men, which threatened to bring the walls
about their ears, the maid-servant opened the door, yawning and
stretching her arms. The constable and the provost rushed into the
room, where, with great difficulty, they succeeded in waking the lady,
who pretended to be terrified, and was so soundly asleep that her eyes
were full of gum. At this the provost was in great glee, saying to the
constable that someone had certainly deceived him, that his wife was a
virtuous woman, and was more astonished than any of them at these
proceedings. The constable turned on his heel and departed. The good
provost began directly to undress to get to bed early, since this
adventure had brought his good wife to his memory. When he was
harnessing himself, and was knocking off his nether garments, madame,
still astonished, said to him--

“Oh, my dear husband, what is the meaning of all this uproar--this
constable and his pages, and why did he come to see if I was asleep?
Is it to be henceforward part of a constable’s duty to look after
our . . .”

“I do not know,” said the provost, interrupting her, to tell her what
had happened to him.

“And you saw without my permission a lady of the court! Ha! ha! heu!
heu! hein!”

Then she began to moan, to weep, and to cry in such a deplorable
manner and so loudly, that her lord was quite aghast.

“What’s the matter, my darling? What is it? What do you want?”

“Ah! You won’t love me any more are after seeing how beautiful court
ladies are!”

“Nonsense, my child! They are great ladies. I don’t mind telling you
in confidence; they are great ladies in every respect.”

“Well,” said she, “am I nicer?”

“Ah,” said he, “in a great measure. Yes!”

“They have, then, great happiness,” said she, sighing, “when I have so
much with so little beauty.”

Thereupon the provost tried a better argument to argue with his good
wife, and argued so well that she finished by allowing herself to be
convinced that Heaven has ordained that much pleasure may be obtained
from small things.

This shows us that nothing here below can prevail against the Church
of Cuckolds.



    ABOUT THE MONK AMADOR, WHO WAS A GLORIOUS ABBOT OF TURPENAY

One day that it was drizzling with rain--a time when the ladies remain
gleefully at home, because they love the damp, and can have at their
apron strings the men who are not disagreeable to them--the queen was
in her chamber, at the castle of Amboise, against the window curtains.
There, seated in her chair, she was working at a piece of tapestry to
amuse herself, but was using her needle heedlessly, watching the rain
fall into the Loire, and was lost in thought, where her ladies were
following her example. The king was arguing with those of his court
who had accompanied him from the chapel--for it was a question of
returning to dominical vespers. His arguments, statements, and
reasonings finished, he looked at the queen, saw that she was
melancholy, saw that the ladies were melancholy also, and noted the
fact that they were all acquainted with the mysteries of matrimony.

“Did I not see the Abbot of Turpenay here just now?” said he.

Hearing these words, there advanced towards the king the monk, who, by
his constant petitions, rendered himself so obnoxious to Louis the
Eleventh, that that monarch seriously commanded his provost-royal to
remove him from his sight; and it has been related in the first volume
of these Tales, how the monk was saved through the mistake of Sieur
Tristan. The monk was at this time a man whose qualities had grown
rapidly, so much so that his wit had communicated a jovial hue to his
face. He was a great favourite with the ladies, who crammed him with
wine, confectioneries, and dainty dishes at the dinners, suppers, and
merry-makings, to which they invited him, because every host likes
those cheerful guests of God with nimble jaws, who say as many words
as they put away tit-bits. This abbot was a pernicious fellow, who
would relate to the ladies many a merry tale, at which they were only
offended when they had heard them; since, to judge them, things must
be heard.

“My reverend father,” said the king, “behold the twilight hour, in
which ears feminine may be regaled with certain pleasant stories, for
the ladies can laugh without blushing, or blush without laughing, as
it suits them best. Give us a good story--a regular monk’s story. I
shall listen to it, i’faith, with pleasure, because I want to be
amused, and so do the ladies.”

“We only submit to this, in order to please your lordship,” said the
queen; “because our good friend the abbot goes a little too far.”

“Then,” replied the king, turning towards the monk, “read us some
Christian admonition, holy father, to amuse madame.”

“Sire, my sight is weak, and the day is closing.”

“Give us a story, then, that stops at the girdle.”

“Ah, sire!” said the monk, smiling, “the one I am thinking of stops
there; but it commences at the feet.”

The lords present made such gallant remonstrances and supplications to
the queen and her ladies, that, like the good Bretonne that she was,
she gave the monk a gentle smile, and said--

“As you will, my father; but you must answer to God for our sins.”

“Willingly, madame; if it be your pleasure to take mine, you will be a
gainer.”

Everyone laughed, and so did queen. The king went and sat by his dear
wife, well beloved by him, as everyone knows. The courtiers received
permission to be seated--the old courtiers, of course, understood; for
the young ones stood, by the ladies’ permission, beside their chairs,
to laugh at the same time as they did. Then the Abbot of Turpenay
gracefully delivered himself of the following tale, the risky passages
of which he gave in a low, soft, flute-like voice:--

About a hundred years ago at the least, there occurred great quarrels
in Christendom because there were two popes at Rome, each one
pretending to be legitimately elected, which caused great annoyance to
the monasteries, abbeys, and bishoprics, since, in order to be
recognised by as many as possible, each of the two popes granted
titles and rights to each adherent, the which made double owners
everywhere. Under these circumstances, the monasteries and abbeys that
were at war with their neighbours would not recognise both the popes,
and found themselves much embarrassed by the other, who always gave
the verdict to the enemies of the Chapter. This wicked schism brought
about considerable mischief, and proved abundantly that error is worse
in Christianity than the adultery of the Church.

Now at this time, when the devil was making havoc among our
possessions, the most illustrious abbey of Turpenay, of which I am at
present the unworthy ruler, had a heavy trial on concerning the
settlements of certain rights with the redoubtable Sire de Cande, an
idolatrous infidel, a relapsed heretic, and most wicked lord. This
devil, sent upon earth in the shape of a nobleman, was, to tell the
truth, a good soldier, well received at court, and a friend of the
Sieur Bureau de la Riviere; who was a person to whom the king was
exceedingly partial--King Charles the Fifth, of glorious memory.
Beneath the shelter of the favour of this Sieur de la Riviere, Lord of
Cande did exactly as he pleased in the valley of the Indre, where he
used to be master of everything, from Montbazon to Usse. You may be
sure that his neighbours were terribly afraid of him, and to save
their skulls let him have his way. They would, however, have preferred
him under the ground to above it, and heartily wished him bad luck;
but he troubled himself little about that. In the whole valley the
noble abbey alone showed fight to this demon, for it has always been a
doctrine of the Church to take into her lap the weak and suffering,
and use every effort to protect the oppressed, especially those whose
rights and privileges are menaced.

For this reason this rough warrior hated monks exceedingly, especially
those of Turpenay, who would not allow themselves to be robbed of
their rights either by force or stratagem. He was well pleased at the
ecclesiastical schism, and waited the decision of our abbey,
concerning which pope they should choose, to pillage them, being quite
ready to recognise the one to whom the abbot of Turpenay should refuse
his obedience. Since his return to his castle, it was his custom to
torment and annoy the priests whom he encountered upon his domains in
such a manner, that a poor monk, surprised by him on his private road,
which was by the water-side, perceived no other method of safety then
to throw himself into the river, where, by a special miracle of the
Almighty, whom the good man fervently invoked, his gown floated him on
the Indre, and he made his way comfortably to the other side, which he
attained in full view of the lord of Cande, who was not ashamed to
enjoy the terrors of a servant of God. Now you see of what stuff this
horrid man was made. The abbot, to whom at that time, the care of our
glorious abbey was committed, led a most holy life, and prayed to God
with devotion; but he would have saved his own soul ten times, of such
good quality was his religion, before finding a chance to save the
abbey itself from the clutches of this wretch. Although he was very
perplexed, and saw the evil hour at hand, he relied upon God for
succour, saying that he would never allow the property of the Church
to be touched, and that He who had raised up the Princess Judith for
the Hebrews, and Queen Lucretia for the Romans, would keep his most
illustrious abbey of Turpenay, and indulged in other equally sapient
remarks. But his monks, who--to our shame I confess it--were
unbelievers, reproached him with his happy-go-lucky way of looking at
things, and declared that, to bring the chariot of Providence to the
rescue in time, all the oxen in the province would have to be yoked
it; that the trumpets of Jericho were no longer made in any portion of
the world; that God was disgusted with His creation, and would have
nothing more to do with it: in short, a thousand and one things that
were doubts and contumelies against God.

At this desperate juncture there rose up a monk named Amador. This
name had been given him by way of a joke, since his person offered a
perfect portrait of the false god Aegipan. He was like him, strong in
the stomach; like him, had crooked legs; arms hairy as those of a
saddler, a back made to carry a wallet, a face as red as the phiz of a
drunkard, glistening eyes, a tangled beard, was hairy faced, and so
puffed out with fat and meat that you would have fancied him in an
interesting condition. You may be sure that he sung his matins on the
steps of the wine-cellar, and said his vespers in the vineyards of
Lord. He was as fond of his bed as a beggar with sores, and would go
about the valley fuddling, faddling, blessing the bridals, plucking
the grapes, and giving them to the girls to taste, in spite of the
prohibition of the abbot. In fact, he was a pilferer, a loiterer, and
a bad soldier of the ecclesiastical militia, of whom nobody in the
abbey took any notice, but let him do as he liked from motives of
Christian charity, thinking him mad.

Amador, knowing that it was a question of the ruin of the Abbey, in
which he was as snug as a bug in a rug, put up his bristles, took
notice of this and of that, went into each of the cells, listened in
the refectory, shivered in his shoes, and declared that he would
attempt to save the abbey. He took cognisance of the contested points,
received from the abbot permission to postpone the case, and was
promised by the whole Chapter the Office of sub-prior if he succeeded
in putting an end to the litigation. Then he set off across the
country, heedless of the cruelty and ill-treatment of the Sieur de
Cande, saying that he had that within his gown which would subdue him.
He went his way with nothing but the said gown for his viaticum: but
then in it was enough fat to feed a dwarf. He selected to go to the
chateau, a day when it rained hard enough to fill the tubs of all the
housewives, and arrived without meeting a soul, in sight of Cande, and
looking like a drowned dog, stepped bravely into the courtyard, and
took shelter under a sty-roof to wait until the fury of the elements
had calmed down, and placed himself boldly in front of the room where
the owner of the chateau should be. A servant perceiving him while
laying the supper, took pity on him, and told him to make himself
scarce, otherwise his master would give him a horsewhipping, just to
open the conversation, and asked him what made him so bold as to enter
a house where monks were hated more than a red leper.

“Ah!” said Amador, “I am on my way to Tours, sent thither by my lord
abbot. If the lord of Cande were not so bitter against the poor
servant of God, I should not be kept during such a deluge in the
courtyard, but in the house. I hope that he will find mercy in his
hour of need.”

The servant reported these words to his master, who at first wished to
have the monk thrown into the big trough of the castle among the other
filth. But the lady of Cande, who had great authority over her spouse,
and was respected by him, because through her he expected a large
inheritance, and because she was a little tyrannical, reprimanded him,
saying, that it was possible this monk was a Christian; that in such
weather thieves would succour an officer of justice; that, besides, it
was necessary to treat him well to find out to what decision the
brethren of Turpenay had come with regard to the schism business, and
that her advice was put an end by kindness and not by force to the
difficulties arisen between the abbey and the domain of Cande, because
no lord since the coming of Christ had ever been stronger than the
Church, and that sooner or later the abbey would ruin the castle;
finally, she gave utterance to a thousand wise arguments, such as
ladies use in the height of the storms of life, when they have had
about enough of them. Amador’s face was so piteous, his appearance so
wretched, and so open to banter, that the lord, saddened by the
weather, conceived the idea of enjoying a joke at his expense,
tormenting him, playing tricks on him, and of giving him a lively
recollection of his reception at the chateau. Then this gentleman, who
had secret relations with his wife’s maid, sent this girl, who was
called Perrotte, to put an end to his ill-will towards the luckless
Amador. As soon as the plot had been arranged between them, the wench,
who hated monks, in order to please her master, went to the monk, who
was standing under the pigsty, assuming a courteous demeanour in order
the better to please him, said--

“Holy father, the master of the house is ashamed to see a servant of
God out in the rain when there is room for him indoors, a good fire in
the chimney, and a table spread. I invite you in his name and that of
the lady of the house to step in.”

“I thank the lady and lord, not for their hospitality which is a
Christian thing, but for having sent as an ambassador to me, a poor
sinner, an angel of such delicate beauty that I fancy I see the Virgin
over our altar.”

Saying which, Amador raised his nose in the air, and saluted with the
two flakes of fire that sparkled in his bright eyes the pretty
maidservant, who thought him neither so ugly nor so foul, nor so
bestial; when, following Perrotte up the steps, Amador received on the
nose, cheeks, and other portions of his face a slash of the whip,
which made him see all the lights of the Magnificat, so well was the
dose administered by the Sieur de Cande, who, busy chastening his
greyhounds pretended not see the monk. He requested Amador to pardon
him this accident, and ran after the dogs who had caused the mischief
to his guest. The laughing servant, who knew what was coming, had
dexterously kept out of the way. Noticing this business, Amador
suspected the relations of Perrotte and the chevalier, concerning whom
it is possible that the lasses of the valley had already whispered
something into his ear. Of the people who were then in the room not
one made room for the man of God, who remained right in the draught
between the door and the window, where he stood freezing until the
moment when the Sieur de Cande, his wife, and his aged sister,
Mademoiselle de Cande, who had the charge of the young heiress of the
house, aged about sixteen years, came and sat in their chairs at the
head of the table, far from the common people, according to the old
custom usual among the lords of the period, much to their discredit.

The Sieur de Cande, paying no attention to the monk, let him sit at
the extreme end of the table, in a corner, where two mischievous lads
had orders to squeeze and elbow him. Indeed these fellows worried his
feet, his body, and his arms like real torturers, poured white wine
into his goblet for water, in order to fuddle him, and the better to
amuse themselves with him; but they made him drink seven large jugfuls
without making belch, break wind, sweat or snort, which horrified them
exceedingly, especially as his eye remained as clear as crystal.
Encouraged, however, by a glance from their lord, they still kept
throwing, while bowing to him, gravy into his beard, and wiping it dry
in a manner to tear every hair of it out. The varlet who served a
caudle baptised his head with it, and took care to let the burning
liquor trickle down poor Amador’s backbone. All this agony he endured
with meekness, because the spirit of God was in him, and also the hope
of finishing the litigation by holding out in the castle.
Nevertheless, the mischievous lot burst out into such roars of
laughter at the warm baptism given by the cook’s lad to the soaked
monk, even the butler making jokes at his expense, that the lady of
Cande was compelled to notice what was going on at the end of the
table. Then she perceived Amador, who had a look of sublime
resignation upon his face, and was endeavouring to get something out
of the big beef bones that had been put upon his pewter platter. At
this moment the poor monk, who had administered a dexterous blow of
the knife to a big ugly bone, took it into his hairy hands, snapped it
in two, sucked the warm marrow out of it, and found it good.

“Truly,” said she to herself, “God has put great strength into this
monk!”

At the same time she seriously forbade the pages, servants, and others
to torment the poor man, to whom out of mockery they had just given
some rotten apples and maggoty nuts. He, perceiving that the old lady
and her charge, the lady and the servants had seen him manoeuvring the
bone, pushed backed his sleeve, showed the powerful muscles of his
arm, placed nuts near his wrist on the bifurcation of the veins, and
crushed them one by one by pressing them with the palm of his hand so
vigorously that they appeared like ripe medlars. He also crunched them
between his teeth, white as the teeth of a dog, husk, shell, fruit,
and all, of which he made in a second a mash which he swallowed like
honey. He crushed them between two fingers, which he used like
scissors to cut them in two without a moment’s hesitation.

You may be sure that the women were silent, that the men believed the
devil to be in the monk; and had it not been for his wife and the
darkness of the night, the Sieur de Cande, having the fear of God
before his eyes, would have kicked him out of the house. Everyone
declared that the monk was a man capable of throwing the castle into
the moat. Therefore, as soon as everyone had wiped his mouth, my lord
took care to imprison this devil, whose strength was terrible to
behold, and had him conducted to a wretched little closet where
Perrotte had arranged her machine in order to annoy him during the
night. The tom-cats of the neighbourhood had been requested to come
and confess to him, invited to tell him their sins in embryo towards
the tabbies who attracted their affections, and also the little pigs
for whom fine lumps of tripe had been placed under the bed in order to
prevent them becoming monks, of which they were very desirous, by
disgusting them with the style of libera, which the monk would sing to
them. At every movement of poor Amador, who would find short
horse-hair in the sheets, he would bring down cold water on to the bed,
and a thousand other tricks were arranged, such are usually practised
in castles. Everyone went to bed in expectation of the nocturnal revels
of the monk, certain that they would not be disappointed, since he had
been lodged under the tiles at the top of a little tower, the guard of
the door of which was committed to dogs who howled for a bit of him.
In order to ascertain what language the conversations with the cats
and pigs would be carried on, the Sire came to stay with his dear
Perrotte, who slept in the next room.

As soon as he found himself thus treated, Amador drew from his bag a
knife, and dexterously extricated himself. Then he began to listen in
order to find out the ways of the place, and heard the master of the
house laughing with his maid-servant. Suspecting their manoeuvres, he
waited till the moment when the lady of the house should be alone in
bed, and made his way into her room with bare feet, in order that his
sandals should not be in his secrets. He appeared to her by the light
of the lamp in the manner in which monks generally appear during the
night--that is, in a marvellous state, which the laity find it
difficult long to sustain; and the thing is an effect of the frock,
which magnifies everything. Then having let her see that he was all a
monk, he made the following little speech--

“Know, madame, that I am sent by Jesus and the Virgin Mary to warn you
to put an end to the improper perversities which are taking place--to
the injury of your virtue, which is treacherously deprived of your
husband’s best attention, which he lavishes upon your maid. What is
the use of being a lady if the seigneurial dues are received
elsewhere. According to this, your servant is the lady and you are the
servant. Are not all the joys bestowed upon her due to you? You will
find them all amassed in our Holy Church, which is the consolation of
the afflicted. Behold in me the messenger, ready to pay these debts if
you do not renounce them.”

Saying this, the good monk gently loosened his girdle in which he was
incommoded, so much did he appear affected by the sight of those
beauties which the Sieur de Cande disdained.

“If you speak truly, my father, I will submit to your guidance,” said
she, springing lightly out of bed. “You are for sure, a messenger of
God, because you have been in a single day that which I had not
noticed here for a long time.”

Then she went, accompanied by Amador, whose holy robe she did not fail
to run her hand over, and was so struck when she found it real, that
she hoped to find her husband guilty; and indeed she heard him talking
about the monk in her servant’s bed. Perceiving this felony, she went
into a furious rage and opened her mouth to resolve it into words--
which is the usual method of women--and wished to kick up the devil’s
delight before handing the girl over to justice. But Amador told her
that it would be more sensible to avenge herself first, and cry out
afterwards.

“Avenge me quickly, then, my father,” said she, “that I may begin to
cry out.”

Thereupon the monk avenged her most monastically with a good and ample
vengeance, that she indulged in as a drunkard who puts his lips to the
bunghole of a barrel; for when a lady avenges herself, she should get
drunk with vengeance, or not taste it at all. And the chatelaine was
revenged to that degree that she could not move; since nothing
agitates, takes away the breath, and exhausts, like anger and
vengeance. But although she were avenged, and doubly and trebly
avenged, yet would she not forgive, in order that she might reserve
the right of avenging herself with the monk, now here, now there.
Perceiving this love for vengeance, Amador promised to aid her in it
as long as her ire lasted, for he informed her that he knew in his
quality of a monk, constrained to meditate long on the nature of
things, an infinite number of modes, methods, and manners of
practicing revenge.

Then he pointed out to her canonically what a Christian thing it is to
revenge oneself, because all through the Holy Scriptures God declares
Himself, above all things, to be a God of vengeance; and moreover,
demonstrates to us, by his establishment in the infernal regions, how
royally divine a thing vengeance is, since His vengeance is eternal.
From which it followed, that women with monks ought to revenge
themselves, under pain of not being Christians and faithful servants
of celestial doctrines.

This dogma pleased the lady much, and she confessed that she had never
understood the commandments of the Church, and invited her
well-beloved monk to enlighten her thoroughly concerning them. Then
the chatelaine, whose vital spirits had been excited by the vengeance
which had refreshed them, went into the room where the jade was
amusing herself, and by chance found her with her hand where she, the
chatelaine, often had her eye--like the merchants have on their most
precious articles, in order to see that they were not stolen. They
were--according to President Lizet, when he was in a merry mood--a
couple taken in flagrant delectation, and looked dumbfounded, sheepish
and foolish. The sight that met her eyes displeased the lady beyond
the power of words to express, as it appeared by her discourse, of
which to roughness was similar to that of the water of a big pond when
the sluice-gates were opened. It was a sermon in three heads,
accompanied with music of a high gamut, varied in tones, with many
sharps among the keys.

“Out upon virtue! my lord; I’ve had my share of it. You have shown me
that religion in conjugal faith is an abuse; this is then the reason
that I have no son. How many children have you consigned to this
common oven, this poor-box, this bottomless alms-purse, this leper’s
porringer, the true cemetery of the House of Cande? I will know if I
am childless from a constitutional defect, or through your fault. I
will have handsome cavaliers, in order that I may have an heir. You
can get the bastards, I the legitimate children.”

“My dear,” said the bewildered lord, “don’t shout so.”

“But,” replied the lady, “I will shout, and shout to make myself
heard, heard by the archbishop, heard by the legate, by the king, by
my brothers, who will avenge this infamy for me.”

“Do not dishonour your husband!”

“This is dishonour then? You are right; but, my lord, it is not
brought about by you, but by this hussy, whom I will have sewn up in a
sack, and thrown into the Indre; thus your dishonour will be washed
away. Hi! there,” she called out.

“Silence, madame!” said the sire, as shamefaced as a blind man’s dog;
because this great warrior, so ready to kill others, was like a child
in the hands of his wife, a state of affairs to which soldiers are
accustomed, because in them lies the strength and is found all the
dull carnality of matter; while, on the contrary, in woman is a subtle
spirit and a scintillation of perfumed flame that lights up paradise
and dazzles the male. This is the reason that certain women govern
their husbands, because mind is the master of matter.

(At this the ladies began to laugh, as did also the king).

“I will not be silent,” said the lady of Cande (said the abbot,
continuing his tale); “I have been too grossly outraged. This, then,
is the reward of the wealth that I brought you, and of my virtuous
conduct! Did I ever refuse to obey you even during Lent, and on fast
days? Am I so cold as to freeze the sun? Do you think that I embrace
by force, from duty, or pure kindness of heart! Am I too hallowed for
you to touch? Am I a holy shrine? Was there need of a papal brief to
kiss me? God’s truth! have you had so much of me that you are tired?
Am I not to your taste? Do charming wenches know more than ladies? Ha!
perhaps it is so, since she has let you work in the field without
sowing. Teach me the business; I will practice it with those whom I
take into my service, for it is settled that I am free. That is as we
should be. Your society was wearisome, and the little pleasure I
derived from it cost me too dear. Thank God! I am quit of you and your
whims, because I intend to retire to a monastery.” . . . She meant to
say a convent, but this avenging monk had perverted her tongue.

“And I shall be more comfortable in this monastery with my daughter,
than in this place of abominable wickedness. You can inherit from your
wench. Ha, ha! The fine lady of Cande! Look at her!”

“What is the matter?” said Amador, appearing suddenly upon the scene.

“The matter is, my father,” replied she, “that my wrongs cry aloud for
vengeance. To begin with, I shall have this trollop thrown into the
river, sewn up in a sack, for having diverted the seed of the House of
Cande from its proper channel. It will be saving the hangman a job.
For the rest I will--”

“Abandon your anger, my daughter,” said the monk. “It is commanded us
by the Church to forgive those who trespass against us, if we would
find favour in the side of Heaven, because you pardon those who also
pardon others. God avenges himself eternally on those who have avenged
themselves, but keeps in His paradise those who have pardoned. From
that comes the jubilee, which is a day of great rejoicing, because all
debts and offences are forgiven. Thus it is a source of happiness to
pardon. Pardon! Pardon! To pardon is a most holy work. Pardon
Monseigneur de Cande, who will bless you for your gracious clemency,
and will henceforth love you much; This forgiveness will restore to
you the flower of youth; and believe, my dear sweet young lady, that
forgiveness is in certain cases the best means of vengeance. Pardon
your maid-servant, who will pray heaven for you. Thus God, supplicated
by all, will have you in His keeping, and will bless you with male
lineage for this pardon.”

Thus saying, the monk took the hand of the sire, placed it in that of
the lady, and added--

“Go and talk over the pardon.”

And then he whispered into the husband’s ears this sage advice--

“My lord, use your best argument, and you will silence her with it,
because a woman’s mouth it is only full of words when she is empty
elsewhere. Argue continually, and thus you will always have the upper
hand of your wife.”

“By the body of the Jupiter! There’s good in this monk after all,”
 said the seigneur, as he went out.

As soon as Amador found himself alone with Perrotte he spoke to her,
as follows--

“You are to blame, my dear, for having wished to torment a poor
servant of God; therefore are you now the object of celestial wrath,
which will fall upon you. To whatever place you fly it will always
follow you, will seize upon you in every limb, even after your death,
and will cook you like a pasty in the oven of hell, where you will
simmer eternally, and every day you will receive seven hundred
thousand million lashes of the whip, for the one I received through
you.”

“Ah! holy Father,” said the wench, casting herself at the monk’s feet,
“you alone can save me, for in your gown I should be sheltered from
the anger of God.”

Saying this, she raised the robe to place herself beneath it, and
exclaimed--

“By my faith! monks are better than knights.”

“By the sulphur of the devil! You are not acquainted with the monks?”

“No,” said Perrotte.

“And you don’t know the service that monks sing without saying a
word?”

“No.”

Thereupon the monk went through this said service for her, as it is
sung on great feast days, with all the grand effects used in
monasteries, the psalms well chanted in f major, the flaming tapers,
and the choristers, and explained to her the _Introit_, and also the
_ite missa est_, and departed, leaving her so sanctified that the
wrath of heaven would have great difficulty in discovering any portion
of the girl that was not thoroughly monasticated.

By his orders, Perrotte conducted him to Mademoiselle de Cande, the
lord’s sister, to whom he went in order to learn if it was her desire
to confess to him, because monks came so rarely to the castle. The
lady was delighted, as would any good Christian have been, at such a
chance of clearing out her conscience. Amador requested her to show
him her conscience, and she having allowed him to see that which he
considered the conscience of old maids, he found it in a bad state,
and told her that the sins of women were accomplished there; that to
be for the future without sin it was necessary to have the conscience
corked up by a monk’s indulgence. The poor ignorant lady having
replied that she did not know where these indulgences were to be had,
the monk informed her that he had a relic with him which enabled him
to grant one, that nothing was more indulgent than this relic, because
without saying a word it produced infinite pleasures, which is the
true, eternal and primary character of an indulgence. The poor lady
was so pleased with this relic, the virtue of which she tried in
various ways, that her brain became muddled, and she had so much faith
in it that she indulged as devoutly in indulgences as the Lady of
Cande had indulged in vengeances. This business of confession woke up
the younger Demoiselle de Cande, who came to watch the proceedings.
You may imagine that the monk had hoped for this occurrence, since his
mouth had watered at the sight of this fair blossom, whom he also
confessed, because the elder lady could not hinder him from bestowing
upon the younger one, who wished it, what remained of the indulgences.
But, remember, this pleasure was due to him for the trouble he had
taken. The morning having dawned, the pigs having eaten their tripe,
and the cats having become disenchanted with love, and having watered
all the places rubbed with herbs, Amador went to rest himself in his
bed, which Perrotte had put straight again. Every one slept, thanks to
the monk, so long, that no one in the castle was up before noon, which
was the dinner hour. The servants all believed the monk to be a devil
who had carried off the cats, the pigs, and also their masters. In
spite of these ideas however, every one was in the room at meal time.

“Come, my father,” said the chatelaine, giving her arm to the monk,
whom she put at her side in the baron’s chair, to the great
astonishment of the attendants, because the Sire of Cande said not a
word. “Page, give some of this to Father Amador,” said madame.

“Father Amador has need of so and so,” said the Demoiselle de Cande.

“Fill up Father Amador’s goblet,” said the sire.

“Father Amador has no bread,” said the little lady.

“What do you require, Father Amador?” said Perrotte.

It was Father Amador here, and Father Amador there. He was regaled
like a little maiden on her wedding night.

“Eat, father,” said madame; “you made such a bad meal yesterday.”

“Drink, father,” said the sire. “You are, s’blood! the finest monk I
have ever set eyes on.”

“Father Amador is a handsome monk,” said Perrotte.

“An indulgent monk,” said the demoiselle.

“A beneficent monk,” said the little one.

“A great monk,” said the lady.

“A monk who well deserves his name,” said the clerk of the castle.

Amador munched and chewed, tried all the dishes, lapped up the
hypocras, licked his chops, sneezed, blew himself out, strutted and
stamped about like a bull in a field. The others regarded him with
great fear, believing him to be a magician. Dinner over, the Lady of
Cande, the demoiselle, and the little one, besought the Sire of Cande
with a thousand fine arguments, to terminate the litigation. A great
deal was said to him by madame, who pointed out to him how useful a
monk was in a castle; by mademoiselle, who wished for the future to
polish up her conscience every day; by the little one, who pulled her
father’s beard, and asked that this monk might always be at Cande. If
ever the difference were arranged, it would be by the monk: the monk
was of a good understanding, gentle and virtuous as a saint; it was a
misfortune to be at enmity with a monastery containing such monks. If
all the monks were like him, the abbey would always have everywhere
the advantage of the castle, and would ruin it, because this monk was
very strong. Finally, they gave utterance to a thousand reasons, which
were like a deluge of words, and were so pluvially showered down that
the sire yielded, saying, that there would never be a moment’s peace
in the house until matters were settled to the satisfaction of the
women. Then he sent for the clerk, who wrote down for him, and also
for the monk. Then Amador surprised them exceedingly by showing them
the charters and the letters of credit, which would prevent the sire
and his clerk delaying this agreement. When the Lady of Cande saw them
about to put an end to this old case, she went to the linen chest to
get some fine cloth to make a new gown for her dear Amador. Every one
in the house had noticed how this old gown was worn, and it would have
been a great shame to leave such a treasure in such a worn-out case.
Everyone was eager to work at the gown. Madame cut it, the servant put
the hood on, the demoiselle sewed it, and the little demoiselle worked
at the sleeves. And all set so heartily to work to adorn the monk,
that the robe was ready by supper time, as was also the charter of
agreement prepared and sealed by the Sire de Cande.

“Ah, my father!” said the lady, “if you love us, you will refresh
yourself after your merry labour by washing yourself in a bath that I
have had heated by Perrotte.”

Amador was then bathed in scented water. When he came out he found a
new robe of fine linen and lovely sandals ready for him, which made
him appear the most glorious monk in the world.

Meanwhile the monks of Turpenay fearing for Amador, had ordered two of
their number to spy about the castle. These spies came round by the
moat, just as Perrotte threw Amador’s greasy old gown, with other
rubbish, into it. Seeing which, they thought that it was all over with
the poor madman. They therefore returned, and announced that it was
certain Amador had suffered martyrdom in the service of the abbey.
Hearing which the abbot ordered them to assemble in the chapel and
pray to God, in order to assist this devoted servant in his torments.
The monk having supped, put his charter into his girdle, and wished to
return to Turpenay. Then he found at the foot of the steps madame’s
mare, bridled and saddled, and held ready for him by a groom. The lord
had ordered his men-at-arms to accompany the good monk, so that no
accident might befall him. Seeing which, Amador pardoned the tricks of
the night before, and bestowed his benediction upon every one before
taking his departure from this converted place. Madame followed him
with her eyes, and proclaimed him a splendid rider. Perrotte declared
that for a monk he held himself more upright in the saddle than any of
the men-at-arms. Mademoiselle de Cande sighed. The little one wished
to have him for her confessor.

“He has sanctified the castle,” said they, when they were in the room
again.

When Amador and his suite came to the gates of the abbey, a scene of
terror ensued, since the guardian thought that the Sire de Cande had
had his appetite for monks whetted by the blood of poor Amador, and
wished to sack the abbey. But Amador shouted with his fine bass voice,
and was recognised and admitted into the courtyard; and when he
dismounted from madame’s mare there was enough uproar to make the
monks as a wild as April moons. They gave vent to shouts of joy in the
refectory, and all came to congratulate Amador, who waved the charter
over his head. The men-at-arms were regaled with the best wine in the
cellars, which was a present made to the monks of Turpenay by those of
Marmoustier, to whom belonged the lands of Vouvray. The good abbot
having had the document of the Sieur de Cande read, went about
saying--

“On these divine occasions there always appears the finger of God, to
whom we should render thanks.”

As the good abbot kept on at the finger of God, when thanking Amador,
the monk, annoyed to see the instrument of their delivery thus
diminished, said to him--

“Well, say that it is the arm, my father, and drop the subject.”

The termination of the trial between the Sieur de Cande and the abbey
of Turpenay was followed by a blessing which rendered him devoted to
the Church, because nine months after he had a son. Two years
afterwards Amador was chosen as abbot by the monks, who reckoned upon
a merry government with a madcap. But Amador become an abbot, became
steady and austere, because he had conquered his evil desires by his
labours, and recast his nature at the female forge, in which is that
fire which is the most perfecting, persevering, persistent,
perdurable, permanent, perennial, and permeating fire that there ever
was in the world. It is a fire to ruin everything, and it ruined so
well the evil that was in Amador, that it left only that which it
could not eat--that is, his wit, which was as clear as a diamond,
which is, as everyone knows, a residue of the great fire by which our
globe was formerly carbonised. Amador was then the instrument chosen
by Providence to reform our illustrious abbey, since he put everything
right there, watched night and day over his monks, made them all rise
at the hours appointed for prayers, counted them in chapel as a
shepherd counts his sheep, kept them well in hand, and punished their
faults severely, that he made them most virtuous brethren.

This teaches us to look upon womankind more as the instruments of our
salvation than of our pleasure. Besides which, this narrative teaches
us that we should never attempt to struggle with the Churchmen.

The king and the queen had found this tale in the best taste; the
courtiers confessed that they had never heard a better; and the ladies
would all willingly have been the heroines of it.



                        BERTHA THE PENITENT

I
HOW BERTHA REMAINED A MAIDEN IN THE MARRIED STATE

About the time of the first flight of the Dauphin, which threw our
good Sire, Charles the Victorious, into a state of great dejection,
there happened a great misfortune to a noble House of Touraine, since
extinct in every branch; and it is owing to this fact that this most
deplorable history may now be safely brought to light. To aid him in
this work the author calls to his assistance the holy confessors,
martyrs, and other celestial dominations, who, by the commandments of
God, were the promoters of good in this affair.

From some defect in his character, the Sire Imbert de Bastarnay, one
of the most landed lords in our land of Touraine, had no confidence in
the mind of the female of man, whom he considered much too animated,
on account of her numerous vagaries, and it may be he was right. In
consequence of this idea he reached his old age without a companion,
which was certainly not to his advantage. Always leading a solitary
life, this said man had no idea of making himself agreeable to others,
having only been mixed up with wars and the orgies of bachelors, with
whom he did not put himself out of the way. Thus he remained stale in
his garments, sweaty in his accoutrements, with dirty hands and an
apish face. In short, he looked the ugliest man in Christendom. As far
as regards his person only though, since so far as his heart, his
head, and other secret places were concerned, he had properties which
rendered him most praiseworthy. An angel (pray believe this) would
have walked a long way without meeting an old warrior firmer at his
post, a lord with more spotless scutcheon, of shorter speech, and more
perfect loyalty.

Certain people have stated, they have heard that he gave sound advice,
and was a good and profitable man to consult. Was it not a strange
freak on the part of God, who plays sometimes jokes on us, to have
granted so many perfections to a man so badly apparelled?

When he was sixty in appearance, although only fifty in years, he
determined to take unto himself a wife, in order to obtain lineage.
Then, while foraging about for a place where he might be able to find
a lady to his liking, he heard much vaunted, the great merits and
perfections of a daughter of the illustrious house of Rohan, which at
that time had some property in the province. The young lady in
question was called Bertha, that being her pet name. Imbert having
been to see her at the castle of Montbazon, was, in consequence of the
prettiness and innocent virtue of the said Bertha de Rohan, seized
with so great a desire to possess her, that he determined to make her
his wife, believing that never could a girl of such lofty descent fail
in her duty. This marriage was soon celebrated, because the Sire de
Rohan had seven daughters, and hardly knew how to provide for them
all, at a time when people were just recovering from the late wars,
and patching up their unsettled affairs. Now the good man Bastarnay
happily found Bertha really a maiden, which fact bore witness to her
proper bringing up and perfect maternal correction. So immediately the
night arrived when it should be lawful for him to embrace her, he got
her with a child so roughly that he had proof of the result two months
after marriage, which rendered the Sire Imbert joyful to a degree. In
order that we may here finish with this portion of the story, let us
at once state that from this legitimate grain was born the Sire de
Bastarnay, who was Duke by the grace of Louis the Eleventh, his
chamberlain, and more than that, his ambassador in the countries of
Europe, and well-beloved of this most redoubtable lord, to whom he
was never faithless. His loyalty was an heritage from his father, who
from his early youth was much attached to the Dauphin, whose fortunes
he followed, even in the rebellions, since he was a man to put Christ
on the cross again if it had been required by him to do so, which is
the flower of friendship rarely to be found encompassing princes and
great people. At first, the fair lady of Bastarnay comported herself
so loyally that her society caused those thick vapours and black
clouds to vanish, which obscured the mind of this great man, the
brightness of the feminine glory. Now, according to the custom of
unbelievers, he passed from suspicion to confidence so thoroughly,
that he yielded up the government of his house to the said Bertha,
made her mistress of his deeds and actions, queen of his honour,
guardian of his grey hairs, and would have slaughtered without a
contest any one who had said an evil word concerning this mirror of
virtue, on whom no breath had fallen save the breath issued from his
conjugal and marital lips, cold and withered as they were. To speak
truly on all points, it should be explained, that to this virtuous
behaviour considerably aided the little boy, who during six years
occupied day and night the attention of his pretty mother, who first
nourished him with her milk, and made of him a lover’s lieutenant,
yielding to him her sweet breasts, which he gnawed at, hungry, as
often as he would, and was, like a lover, always there. This good
mother knew no other pleasures than those of his rosy lips, had no
other caresses that those of his tiny little hands, which ran about
her like the feet of playful mice, read no other book than that in his
clear baby eyes, in which the blue sky was reflected, and listened to
no other music than his cries, which sounded in her ears as angels’
whispers. You may be sure that she was always fondling him, had a
desire to kiss him at dawn of day, kissed him in the evening, would
rise in the night to eat him up with kisses, made herself a child as
he was a child, educated him in the perfect religion of maternity;
finally, behaved as the best and happiest mother that ever lived,
without disparagement to our Lady the Virgin, who could have had
little trouble in bringing up our Saviour, since he was God.

This employment and the little taste which Bertha had for the blisses
of matrimony much delighted the old man, since he would have been
unable to return the affection of a too amorous wife, and desired to
practice economy, to have the wherewithal for a second child.

After six years had passed away, the mother was compelled to give her
son into the hands of the grooms and other persons to whom Messire de
Bastarnay committed the task to mould him properly, in order that his
heir should have an heritage of the virtues, qualities and courage of
the house, as well as the domains and the name. Then did Bertha shed
many tears, her happiness being gone. For the great heart of this
mother it was nothing to have this well-beloved son after others, and
during only certain short fleeting hours. Therefore she became sad and
melancholy. Noticing her grief, the good man wished to bestow upon her
another child and could not, and the poor lady was displeased thereat,
because she declared that the making of a child wearied her much and
cost her dear. And this is true, or no doctrine is true, and you must
burn the Gospels as a pack of stories if you have not faith in this
innocent remark.

This, nevertheless, to certain ladies (I did not mention men, since
they have a smattering of the science), will still seem an untruth.
The writer has taken care here to give the mute reasons for this
strange antipathy; I mean the distastes of Bertha, because I love the
ladies above all things, knowing that for want of the pleasure of
love, my face would grow old and my heart torment me. Did you ever
meet a scribe so complacent and so fond of the ladies as I am? No; of
course not. Therefore, do I love them devotedly, but not so often as I
could wish, since I have oftener in my hands my goose-quill than I
have the barbs with which one tickles their lips to make them laugh
and be merry in all innocence. I understand them, and in this way.

The good man Bastarnay was not a smart young fellow of an amorous
nature, and acquainted with the pranks of the thing. He did not
trouble himself much about the fashion in which he killed a soldier so
long as he killed him; that he would have killed him in all ways
without saying a word in battle, is, of course, understood. The
perfect heedlessness in the matter of death was in accordance with the
nonchalance in the matter of life, the birth and manner of begetting a
child, and the ceremonies thereto appertaining. The good sire was
ignorant of the many litigious, dilatory, interlocutory and
proprietary exploits and the little humourings of the little fagots
placed in the oven to heat it; of the sweet perfumed branches gathered
little by little in the forests of love, fondlings, coddlings,
huggings, nursing, the bites at the cherry, the cat-licking, and other
little tricks and traffic of love which ruffians know, which lovers
preserve, and which the ladies love better than their salvation,
because there is more of the cat than the woman in them. This shines
forth in perfect evidence in their feminine ways. If you think it
worth while watching them, examine them attentively while they eat:
not one of them (I am speaking of women, noble and well-educated) puts
her knife in the eatables and thrusts it into her mouth, as do
brutally the males; no, they turn over their food, pick the pieces
that please them as they would gray peas in a dovecote; they suck the
sauces by mouthfuls; play with their knife and spoon as if they are
only ate in consequence of a judge’s order, so much do they dislike to
go straight to the point, and make free use of variations, finesse,
and little tricks in everything, which is the especial attribute of
these creatures, and the reason that the sons of Adam delight in them,
since they do everything differently to themselves, and they do well.
You think so too. Good! I love you.

Now then, Imbert de Bastarnay, an old soldier, ignorant of the tricks
of love, entered into the sweet garden of Venus as he would into a
place taken by assault, without giving any heed to the cries of the
poor inhabitants in tears, and placed a child as he would an arrow in
the dark. Although the gentle Bertha was not used to such treatment
(poor child, she was but fifteen), she believed in her virgin faith,
that the happiness of becoming a mother demanded this terrible,
dreadful bruising and nasty business; so during his painful task she
would pray to God to assist her, and recite _Aves_ to our Lady,
esteeming her lucky, in only having the Holy Ghost to endure. By this
means, never having experienced anything but pain in marriage, she
never troubled her husband to go through the ceremony again. Now
seeing that the old fellow was scarcely equal to it--as has been
before stated--she lived in perfect solitude, like a nun. She hated
the society of men, and never suspected that the Author of the world
had put so much joy in that from which she had only received infinite
misery. But she loved all the more her little one, who had cost her so
much before he was born. Do not be astonished, therefore, that she
held aloof from that gallant tourney in which it is the mare who
governs her cavalier, guides him, fatigues him, and abuses him, if he
stumbles. This is the true history of certain unhappy unions,
according to the statement of the old men and women, and the certain
reason of the follies committed by certain women, who too late
perceive, I know not how, that they have been deceived, and attempt to
crowd into a day more time than it will hold, to have their proper
share of life. That is philosophical, my friends. Therefore study well
this page, in order that you may wisely look to the proper government
of your wives, your sweethearts, and all females generally, and
particularly those who by chance may be under your care, from which
God preserve you.

Thus a virgin in deed, although a mother, Bertha was in her
one-and-twentieth year a castle flower, the glory of her good man,
and the honour of the province. The said Bastarnay took great pleasure
in beholding this child come, go, and frisk about like a willow-switch,
as lively as an eel, as innocent as her little one, and still most
sensible and of sound understanding; so much so that he never
undertook any project without consulting her about it, seeing that if
the minds of these angels have not been disturbed in their purity,
they give a sound answer to everything one asks of them. At this time
Bertha lived near the town of Loches, in the castle of her lord, and
there resided, with no desire to do anything but look after her
household duties, after the old custom of the good housewives, from
which the ladies of France were led away when Queen Catherine and the
Italians came with their balls and merry-makings. To these practices
Francis the First and his successors, whose easy ways did as much harm
to the State of France as the goings on of the Protestants lent their
aid. This, however, has nothing to do with my story.

About this time the lord and lady of Bastarnay were invited by the
king to come to his town of Loches, where for the present he was with
his court, in which the beauty of the lady of Bastarnay had made a
great noise. Bertha came to Loches, received many kind praises from
the king, was the centre of the homage of all the young nobles, who
feasted their eyes on this apple of love, and of the old ones, who
warmed themselves at this sun. But you may be sure that all of them,
old and young, would have suffered death a thousand times over to have
at their service this instrument of joy, which dazzled their eyes and
muddled their brains. Bertha was more talked about in Loches then
either God or the Gospels, which enraged a great many ladies who were
not so bountifully endowed with charms, and would have given all that
was left of their honour to have sent back to her castle this fair
gatherer of smiles.

A young lady having early perceived that one of her lovers was smitten
with Bertha, took such a hatred to her that from it arose all the
misfortunes of the lady of Bastarnay; but also from the same source
came her happiness, and her discovery of the gentle land of love, of
which she was ignorant. This wicked lady had a relation who had
confessed to her, directly he saw Bertha, that to be her lover he
would be willing to die after a month’s happiness with her. Bear in
mind that this cousin was as handsome as a girl is beautiful, had no
hair on his chin, would have gained his enemy’s forgiveness by asking
for it, so melodious was his young voice, and was scarcely twenty
years of age.

“Dear cousin,” said she to him, “leave the room, and go to your house;
I will endeavour to give you this joy. But do not let yourself be seen
by her, nor by that old baboon-face by an error of nature on a
Christian’s body, and to whom belongs this beauteous fay.”

The young gentleman out of the way, the lady came rubbing her
treacherous nose against Bertha’s, and called her “My friend, my
treasure, my star of beauty”; trying every way to be agreeable to her,
to make her vengeance more certain on the poor child who, all
unwittingly, had caused her lover’s heart to be faithless, which, for
women ambitious in love, is the worst of infidelities. After a little
conversation, the plotting lady suspected that poor Bertha was a
maiden in matters of love, when she saw her eyes full of limpid water,
no marks on the temples, no little black speck on the point of her
little nose, white as snow, where usually the marks of the amusement
are visible, no wrinkle on her brow; in short, no habit of pleasure
apparent on her face--clear as the face of an innocent maiden. Then
this traitress put certain women’s questions to her, and was perfectly
assured by the replies of Bertha, that if she had had the profit of
being a mother, the pleasures of love had been denied to her. At this
she rejoiced greatly on her cousin’s behalf--like the good woman she
was.

Then she told her, that in the town of Loches there lived a young and
noble lady, of the family of a Rohan, who at that time had need of the
assistance of a lady of position to be reconciled with the Sire Louis
de Rohan; that if she had as much goodness as God had given her
beauty, she would take her with her to the castle, ascertain for
herself the sanctity of her life, and bring about a reconciliation
with the Sire de Rohan, who refused to receive her. To this Bertha
consented without hesitation, because the misfortunes of this girl
were known to her, but not the poor young lady herself, whose name was
Sylvia, and whom she had believed to be in a foreign land.

It is here necessary to state why the king had given this invitation
to the Sire de Bastarnay. He had a suspicion of the first flight of
his son the Dauphin into Burgundy, and wished to deprive him of so
good a counsellor as was the said Bastarnay. But the veteran, faithful
to young Louis, had already, without saying a word, made up his mind.
Therefore he took Bertha back to his castle; but before they set out
she told him she had taken a companion and introduced her to him. It
was the young lord, disguised as a girl, with the assistance of his
cousin, who was jealous of Bertha, and annoyed at her virtue. Imbert
drew back a little when he learned that it was Sylvia de Rohan, but
was also much affected at the kindness of Bertha, whom he thanked for
her attempt to bring a little wandering lamb back to the fold. He made
much of his wife, when his last night at home came, left men-at-arms
about his castle, and then set out with the Dauphin for Burgundy,
having a cruel enemy in his bosom without suspecting it. The face of
the young lad was unknown to him, because he was a young page come to
see the king’s court, and who had been brought up by the Cardinal
Dunois, in whose service he was a knight-bachelor.

The old lord, believing that he was a girl, thought him very modest
and timid, because the lad, doubting the language of his eyes, kept
them always cast down; and when Bertha kissed him on the mouth, he
trembled lest his petticoat might be indiscreet, and would walk away
to the window, so fearful was he of being recognised as a man by
Bastarnay, and killed before he had made love to the lady.

Therefore he was as joyful as any lover would have been in his place,
when the portcullis was lowered, and the old lord galloped away across
the country. He had been in such suspense that he made a vow to build
a pillar at his own expense in the cathedral at Tours, because he had
escaped the danger of his mad scheme. He gave, indeed, fifty gold
marks to pay God for his delight. But by chance he had to pay for it
over again to the devil, as it appears from the following facts if the
tale pleases you well enough to induce you to follow the narrative,
which will be succinct, as all good speeches should be.


II
HOW BERTHA BEHAVED, KNOWING THE BUSINESS OF LOVE

This bachelor was the young Sire Jehan de Sacchez, cousin of the Sieur
de Montmorency, to whom, by the death of the said Jehan, the fiefs of
Sacchez and other places would return, according to the deed of
tenure. He was twenty years of age and glowed like a burning coal;
therefore you may be sure that he had a hard job to get through the
first day. While old Imbert was galloping across the fields, the two
cousins perched themselves under the lantern of the portcullis, in
order to keep him the longer in view, and waved him signals of
farewells. When the clouds of dust raised by the heels of the horses
were no longer visible upon the horizon, they came down and went into
the great room of the castle.

“What shall we do, dear cousin?” said Bertha to the false Sylvia. “Do
you like music? We will play together. Let us sing the lay of some
sweet ancient bard. Eh? What do you say? Come to my organ; come along.
As you love me, sing!”

Then she took Jehan by the hand and led him to the keyboard of the
organ, at which the young fellow seated himself prettily, after the
manner of women. “Ah! sweet coz,” cried Bertha, as soon as the first
notes tried, the lad turned his head towards her, in order that they
might sing together. “Ah! sweet coz you have a wonderful glance in
your eye; you move I know not what in my heart.”

“Ah! cousin,” replied the false Sylvia, “that it is which has been my
ruin. A sweet milord of the land across the sea told me so often that
I had fine eyes, and kissed them so well, that I yielded, so much
pleasure did I feel in letting them be kissed.”

“Cousin, does love then, commence in the eyes?”

“In them is the forge of Cupid’s bolts, my dear Bertha,” said the
lover, casting fire and flame at her.

“Let us go on with our singing.”

They then sang, by Jehan’s desire, a lay of Christine de Pisan, every
word of which breathed love.

“Ah! cousin, what a deep and powerful voice you have. It seems to
pierce me.”

“Where?” said the impudent Sylvia.

“There,” replied Bertha, touching her little diaphragm, where the
sounds of love are understood better than by the ears, but the
diaphragm lies nearer the heart, and that which is undoubtedly the
first brain, the second heart, and the third ear of the ladies. I say
this, with all respect and with all honour, for physical reasons and
for no others.

“Let us leave off singing,” said Bertha; “it has too great an effect
upon me. Come to the window; we can do needlework until the evening.”

“Ah! dear cousin of my soul, I don’t know how to hold the needle in my
fingers, having been accustomed, to my perdition to do something else
with them.”

“Eh! what did you do then all day long?”

“Ah! I yielded to the current of love, which makes days seem Instants,
months seem days, and years months; and if it could last, would gulp
down eternity like a strawberry, seeing that it is all youth and
fragrance, sweetness and endless joy.”

Then the youth dropped his beautiful eyelids over his eyes, and
remained as melancholy as a poor lady who has been abandoned by her
lover, who weeps for him, wishes to kiss him, and would pardon his
perfidy, if he would but seek once again the sweet path to his
once-loved fold.

“Cousin, does love blossom in the married state?”

“Oh no,” said Sylvia; “because in the married state everything is
duty, but in love everything is done in perfect freedom of heart. This
difference communicates an indescribable soft balm to those caresses
which are the flowers of love.”

“Cousin, let us change the conversation; it affects me more than did
the music.”

She called hastily to a servant to bring her boy to her, who came, and
when Sylvia saw him, she exclaimed--

“Ah! the little dear, he is as beautiful as love.”

Then she kissed him heartily upon the forehead.

“Come, my little one,” said the mother, as the child clambered into
her lap. “Thou art thy mother’s blessing, her unclouded joy, the
delight of her every hour, her crown, her jewel, her own pure pearl,
her spotless soul, her treasure, her morning and evening star, her
only flame, and her heart’s darling. Give me thy hands, that I may eat
them; give me thine ears, that I may bite them; give me thy head, that
I may kiss thy curls. Be happy sweet flower of my body, that I may be
happy too.”

“Ah! cousin,” said Sylvia, “you are speaking the language of love to
him.”

“Love is a child then?”

“Yes, cousin; therefore the heathen always portrayed him as a little
boy.”

And with many other remarks fertile in the imagery of love, the two
pretty cousins amused themselves until supper time, playing with the
child.

“Would you like to have another?” whispered Jehan, at an opportune
moment, into his cousin’s ear, which he touched with his warm lips.

“Ah! Sylvia! for that I would ensure a hundred years of purgatory, if
it would only please God to give me that joy. But in spite of the
work, labour, and industry of my spouse, which causes me much pain, my
waist does not vary in size. Alas! It is nothing to have but one
child. If I hear the sound of a cry in the castle, my heart beats
ready to burst. I fear man and beast alike for this innocent darling;
I dread volts, passes, and manual exercises; in fact, I dread
everything. I live not in myself, but in him alone. And, alas! I like
to endure these miseries, because when I fidget, and tremble, it is a
sign that my offspring is safe and sound. To be brief--for I am never
weary of talking on this subject--I believe that my breath is in him,
and not in myself.”

With these words she hugged him to her breasts, as only mothers know
how to hug children, with a spiritual force that is felt only in their
hearts. If you doubt this, watch a cat carrying her kittens in her
mouth, not one of them gives a single mew. The youthful gallant, who
had certain fears about watering this fair, unfertile plain, was
reassured by this speech. He thought then that it would only be
following the commandments of God to win this saint to love; and he
thought right. At night Bertha asked her cousin--according to the old
custom, to which the ladies of our day object--to keep her company in
her big seigneurial bed. To which request Sylvia replied--in order to
keep up the role of a well-born maiden--that nothing would give her
greater pleasure. The curfew rang, and found the two cousins in a
chamber richly ornamented with carpeting, fringes, and royal
tapestries, and Bertha began gracefully to disarray herself, assisted
by her women. You can imagine that her companion modestly declined
their services, and told her cousin, with a little blush, that she was
accustomed to undress herself ever since she had lost the services of
her dearly beloved, who had put her out of conceit with feminine
fingers by his gentle ways; that these preparations brought back the
pretty speeches he used to make, and his merry pranks while playing
the lady’s-maid; and that to her injury, the memory of all these
things brought the water into her mouth.

This discourse considerably astonished the lady Bertha, who let her
cousin say her prayers, and make other preparations for the night
beneath the curtains of the bed, into which my lord, inflamed with
desire, soon tumbled, happy at being able to catch an occasional
glimpse of the wondrous charms of the chatelaine, which were in no way
injured. Bertha, believing herself to be with an experienced girl, did
not omit any of the usual practices; she washed her feet, not minding
whether she raised them little or much, exposed her delicate little
shoulders, and did as all the ladies do when they are retiring to
rest. At last she came to bed, and settled herself comfortably in it,
kissing her cousin on the lips, which she found remarkably warm.

“Are you unwell, Sylvia, that you burn so?” said she.

“I always burn like that when I go to bed,” replied her companion,
“because at that time there comes back to my memory the pretty little
tricks that he invented to please me, and which make me burn still
more.”

“Ah! cousin, tell me all about this he. Tell all the sweets of love to
me, who live beneath the shadow of a hoary head, of which the snows
keep me from such warm feelings. Tell me all; you are cured. It will
be a good warning to me, and then your misfortunes will have been a
salutary lesson to two poor weak women.”

“I do not know I ought to obey you, sweet cousin,” said the youth.

“Tell me, why not?”

“Ah! deeds are better than words,” said the false maiden, heaving a
deep sigh as the _ut_ of an organ. “But I am afraid that this milord
has encumbered me with so much joy that you may get a little of it,
which would be enough to give you a daughter, since the power of
engendering is weakened in me.”

“But,” said Bertha, “between us, would it be a sin?”

“It would be, on the contrary, a joy both here and in heaven; the
angels would shed their fragrance around you, and make sweet music in
your ears.”

“Tell me quickly, then,” said Bertha.

“Well, then, this is how my dear lord made my heart rejoice.”

With these words Jehan took Bertha in his arms, and strained her
hungering to his heart, for in the soft light of the lamp, and clothed
with the spotless linen, she was in this tempting bed, like the pretty
petals of a lily at the bottom of the virgin calyx.

“When he held me as I hold thee he said to me, with a voice far
sweeter than mine, ‘Ah, Bertha, thou art my eternal love, my priceless
treasure, my joy by day and my joy by night; thou art fairer than the
day is day; there is naught so pretty as thou art. I love thee more
than God, and would endure a thousand deaths for the happiness I ask
of thee!’ Then he would kiss me, not after the manner of husbands,
which is rough, but in a peculiar dove-like fashion.”

To show her there and then how much better was the method of lovers,
he sucked all the honey from Bertha’s lips, and taught her how, with
her pretty tongue, small and rosy as that of a cat, she could speak to
the heart without saying a single word, and becoming exhausted at this
game, Jehan spread the fire of his kisses from the mouth to the neck,
from the neck to the sweetest forms that ever a woman gave a child to
slake its thirst upon. And whoever had been in his place would have
thought himself a wicked man not to imitate him.

“Ah!” said Bertha, fast bound in love without knowing it; “this is
better. I must take care to tell Imbert about it.”

“Are you in your proper senses, cousin? Say nothing about it to your
old husband. How could he make his hands pleasant like mine? They are
as hard as washerwoman’s beetles, and his piebald beard would hardly
please this centre of bliss, that rose in which lies our wealth, our
substance, our loves, and our fortune. Do you know that it is a living
flower, which should be fondled thus, and not used like a trombone, or
as if it were a catapult of war? Now this was the gentle way of my
beloved Englishman.”

Thus saying, the handsome youth comported himself so bravely in the
battle that victory crowned his efforts, and poor innocent Bertha
exclaimed--

“Ah! cousin, the angels are come! but so beautiful is the music, that
I hear nothing else, and so flaming are their luminous rays, that my
eyes are closing.”

And, indeed, she fainted under the burden of those joys of love which
burst forth in her like the highest notes of the organ, which
glistened like the most magnificent aurora, which flowed in her veins
like the finest musk, and loosened the liens of her life in giving her
a child of love, who made a great deal of confusion in taking up his
quarters. Finally, Bertha imagined herself to be in Paradise, so happy
did she feel; and woke from this beautiful dream in the arms of Jehan,
exclaiming--

“Ah! who would not have been married in England!”

“My sweet mistress,” said Jehan, whose ecstasy was sooner over, “you
are married to me in France, where things are managed still better,
for I am a man who would give a thousand lives for you if he had
them.”

Poor Bertha gave a shriek so sharp that it pierced the walls, and
leapt out of bed like a mountebank of the plains of Egypt would have
done. She fell upon her knees before her _Prie-Dieu_, joined her
hands, and wept more pearls than ever Mary Magdalene wore.

“Ah! I am dead” she cried; “I am deceived by a devil who has taken the
face of an angel. I am lost; I am the mother for certain of a
beautiful child, without being more guilty than you, Madame the
Virgin. Implore the pardon of God for me, if I have not that of men
upon earth; or let me die, so that I may not blush before my lord and
master.”

Hearing that she said nothing against him, Jehan rose, quite aghast to
see Bertha take this charming dance for two so to heart. But the
moment she heard her Gabriel moving she sprang quickly to her feet,
regarded him with a tearful face, and her eye illumined with a holy
anger, which made her more lovely to look upon, exclaimed--

“If you advance a single step towards me, I will make one towards
death!”

And she took her stiletto in her hand.

So heartrending was the tragic spectacle of her grief that Jehan
answered her--

“It is not for thee but for me to die, my dear, beautiful mistress,
more dearly loved than will ever woman be again upon this earth.”

“If you had truly loved me you would not have killed me as you have,
for I will die sooner than be reproached by my husband.”

“Will you die?” said he.

“Assuredly,” said she.

“Now, if I am here pierced with a thousand blows, you will have your
husband’s pardon, to whom you will say that if your innocence was
surprised, you have avenged his honour by killing the man who had
deceived you; and it will be the greatest happiness that could ever
befall me to die for you, the moment you refuse to live for me.”

Hearing this tender discourse spoken with tears, Bertha dropped the
dagger; Jehan sprang upon it, and thrust it into his breast, saying--

“Such happiness can be paid for but with death.”

And fell stiff and stark.

Bertha, terrified, called aloud for her maid. The servant came, and
terribly alarmed to see a wounded man in Madame’s chamber, and Madame
holding him up, crying and saying, “What have you done, my love?”
 because she believed he was dead, and remembered her vanished joys,
and thought how beautiful Jehan must be, since everyone, even Imbert,
believed him to be a girl. In her sorrow she confessed all to her
maid, sobbing and crying out, “that it was quite enough to have upon
her mind the life of a child without having the death of a man as
well.” Hearing this the poor lover tried to open his eyes, and only
succeeded in showing a little bit of the white of them.

“Ha! Madame, don’t cry out,” said the servant, “let us keep our senses
together and save this pretty knight. I will go and seek La Fallotte,
in order not to let any physician or surgeon into the secret, and as
she is a sorceress she will, to please Madame, perform the miracle of
healing this wound so not a trace of it shall remain.

“Run!” replied Bertha. “I will love you, and will pay you well for
this assistance.”

But before anything else was done the lady and her maid agreed to be
silent about this adventure, and hide Jehan from every eye. Then the
servant went out into the night to seek La Fallotte, and was
accompanied by her mistress as far as the postern, because the guard
could not raise the portcullis without Bertha’s special order. Bertha
found on going back that her lover had fainted, for the blood was
flowing from the wound. At the sight she drank a little of his blood,
thinking that Jehan had shed it for her. Affected by this great love
and by the danger, she kissed this pretty varlet of pleasure on the
face, bound up his wound, bathing it with her tears, beseeching him
not to die, and exclaiming that if he would live she would love him
with all her heart. You can imagine that the chatelaine became still
more enamoured while observing what a difference there was between a
young knight like Jehan, white, downy, and agreeable, and an old
fellow like Imbert, bristly, yellow, and wrinkled. This difference
brought back to her memory that which she had found in the pleasure of
love. Moved by this souvenir, her kisses became so warm that Jehan
came back to his senses, his look improved, and he could see Bertha,
from whom in a feeble voice he asked forgiveness. But Bertha forbade
him to speak until La Fallotte had arrived. Then both of them consumed
the time by loving each other with their eyes, since in those of
Bertha there was nothing but compassion, and on these occasions pity
is akin to love.

La Fallotte was a hunchback, vehemently suspected of dealings in
necromancy, and of riding to nocturnal orgies on a broomstick,
according to the custom of witches. Certain persons had seen her
putting the harness on her broom in the stable, which, as everyone
knows is on the housetops. To tell the truth, she possessed certain
medical secrets, and was of such great service to ladies in certain
things, and to the nobles, that she lived in perfect tranquillity,
without giving up the ghost on a pile of fagots, but on a feather bed,
for she had made a hatful of money, although the physicians tormented
her by declaring that she sold poisons, which was certainly true, as
will be shown in the sequel. The servant and La Fallotte came on the
same ass, making such haste that they arrived at the castle before the
day had fully dawned.

The old hunchback exclaimed, as she entered the chamber, “Now then, my
children, what is the matter?”

This was her manner, which was familiar with great people, who
appeared very small to her. She put on her spectacles, and carefully
examined the wound, saying--

“This is fine blood, my dear; you have tasted it. That’s all right, he
has bled externally.”

Then she washed the wound with a fine sponge, under the nose of the
lady and the servant, who held their breath. To be brief, Fallotte
gave it as her medical opinion, that the youth would not die from this
blow, “although,” said she, looking at his hand, “he will come to a
violent end through this night’s deed.”

This decree of chiromancy frightened considerably both Bertha and the
maid. Fallotte prescribed certain remedies, and promised to come again
the following night. Indeed, she tended the wound for a whole
fortnight, coming secretly at night-time. The people about the castle
were told by the servants that their young lady, Sylvia de Rohan, was
in danger of death, through a swelling of the stomach, which must
remain a mystery for the honour of Madame, who was her cousin. Each
one was satisfied with this story, of which his mouth was so full that
he told it to his fellows.

The good people believe that it was the malady which was fraught with
danger; but it was not! it was the convalescence, for the stronger
Jehan grew, the weaker Bertha became, and so weak that she allowed
herself to drift into that Paradise the gates of which Jehan had
opened for her. To be brief, she loved him more and more. But in the
midst of her happiness, always mingled with apprehension at the
menacing words of Fallotte, and tormented by her great religion, she
was in great fear of her husband, Imbert, to whom she was compelled to
write that he had given her a child, who would be ready to delight him
on his return. Poor Bertha avoided her lover, Jehan, during the day on
which she wrote the lying letter, over which she soaked her
handkerchief with tears. Finding himself avoided (for they had
previously left each other no more than fire leaves the wood it has
bitten) Jehan believed that she was beginning to hate him, and
straightway he cried too. In the evening Bertha, touched by his tears,
which had left their mark upon his eyes, although he had well dried
them, told him the cause of her sorrow, mingling therewith her
confessions of her terrors for the future, pointing out to him how
much they were both to blame, and discoursing so beautifully to him,
gave utterance to such Christian sentences, ornamented with holy tears
and contrite prayers, that Jehan was touched to the quick by the
sincerity of his mistress. This love innocently united to repentance,
this nobility in sin, this mixture of weakness and strength, would, as
the old authors say, have changed the nature of a tiger, melting it to
pity. You will not be astonished then, that Jehan was compelled to
pledge his word as a knight-bachelor, to obey her in what ever she
should command him, to save her in this world and in the next.
Delighted at this confidence in her, and this goodness of heart,
Bertha cast herself at Jehan’s feet, and kissing them, exclaimed--

“Oh! my love, whom I am compelled to love, although it is a mortal sin
to do so, thou who art so good, so gentle to thy poor Bertha, if thou
wouldst have her always think of thee with pleasure, and stop the
torrent of her tears, whose source is so pretty and so pleasant (here,
to show him that it was so, she let him steal a kiss)--Jehan, if thou
wouldst that the memory of our celestial joys, angel music, and the
fragrance of love should be a consolation to me in my loneliness
rather than a torment, do that which the Virgin commanded me to order
thee in a dream, in which I was beseeching her to direct me in the
present case, for I had asked her to come to me, and she had come.
Then I told her the horrible anguish I should endure, trembling for
this little one, whose movements I already feel, and for the real
father, who would be at the mercy of the other, and might expiate his
paternity by a violent death, since it is possible that La Fallotte
saw clearly into his future life. Then the beautiful Virgin told me,
smiling, that the Church offered its forgiveness for our faults if we
followed her commandments; that it was necessary to save one’s self
from the pains of hell, by reforming before Heaven became angry. Then
with her finger she showed me a Jehan like thee, but dressed as thou
shouldst be, and as thou wilt be, if thou does but love thy Bertha
with a love eternal.”

Jehan assured her of his perfect obedience, and raised her, seating
her on his knee, and kissing her. The unhappy Bertha told him then
that this garment was a monk’s frock, and trembling besought him
--almost fearing a refusal--to enter the Church, and retire to
Marmoustier, beyond Tours, pledging him her word that she would grant
him a last night, after which she would be neither for him nor for
anyone else in the world again. And each year, as a reward for this,
she would let him come to her one day, in order that he might see the
child. Jehan, bound by his oath, promised to obey his mistress, saying
that by this means he would be faithful to her, and would experience
no joys of love but those tasted in her divine embrace, and would live
upon the dear remembrance of them. Hearing these sweet words, Bertha
declared to him that, however great might have been her sin, and
whatever God reserved for her, this happiness would enable her to
support it, since she believed she had not fallen through a man, but
through an angel.

Then they returned to the nest which contained their love but only to
bid a final adieu to all their lovely flowers. There can be but little
doubt that Seigneur Cupid had something to do with this festival, for
no woman ever experienced such joy in any part of the world before,
and no man ever took as much. The especial property of true love is a
certain harmony, which brings it about that the more one gives, the
more the other receives, and vice-versa, as in certain cases in
mathematics, where things are multiplied by themselves without end.
This problem can only be explained to unscientific people, by asking
them to look into their Venetian glasses, in which are to be seen
thousands of faces produced by one alone. Thus, in the heart of two
lovers, the roses of pleasure multiply within them in a manner which
causes them to be astonished that so much joy can be contained,
without anything bursting. Bertha and Jehan would have wished in this
night to have finished their days, and thought, from the excessive
languor which flowed in their veins, that love had resolved to bear
them away on his wings with the kiss of death; but they held out in
spite of these numerous multiplications.

On the morrow, as the return of Monsieur Imbert de Bastarnay was close
at hand, the lady Sylvia was compelled to depart. The poor girl left
her cousin, covering her with tears and with kisses; it was always her
last, but the last lasted till evening. Then he was compelled to leave
her, and he did leave her although the blood of his heart congealed,
like the fallen wax of a Paschal candle. According to his promise, he
wended his way towards Marmoustier, which he entered towards the
eleventh hour of the day, and was placed among the novices.
Monseigneur de Bastarnay was informed that Sylvia had returned to the
Lord which is the signification of le Seigneur in the English
language; and therefore in this Bertha did not lie.

The joy of her husband, when he saw Bertha without her waistband--she
could not wear it, so much had she increased in size--commenced the
martyrdom of this poor woman, who did not know how to deceive, and
who, at each false word, went to her Prie-Dieu, wept her blood away
from her eyes in tears, burst into prayers, and recommended herself to
the graces of Messieurs the Saints in paradise. It happened that she
cried so loudly to God that He heard her, because He hears everything;
He hears the stones that roll beneath the waters, the poor who groan,
and the flies who wing their way through the air. It is well that you
should know this, otherwise you would not believe in what happened.
God commanded the archangel Michael to make for this penitent a hell
upon earth, so that she might enter without dispute into Paradise.
Then St. Michael descended from the skies as far as the gate of hell,
and handed over this triple soul to the devil, telling him that he had
permission to torment it during the rest of her days, at the same time
indicating to him Bertha, Jehan and the child.

The devil, who by the will of God, is lord of all evil, told the
archangel that he would obey the message. During this heavenly
arrangement life went on as usual here below. The sweet lady of
Bastarnay gave the most beautiful child in the world to the Sire
Imbert, a boy all lilies and roses, of great intelligence, like a
little Jesus, merry and arch as a pagan love. He became more beautiful
day by day, while the elder was turning into an ape, like his father,
whom he painfully resembled. The younger boy was as bright as a star,
and resembled his father and mother, whose corporeal and spiritual
perfections had produced a compound of illustrious graces and
marvellous intelligence. Seeing this perpetual miracle of body and
mind blended with the essential conditions, Bastarnay declared that
for his eternal salvation he would like to make the younger the elder,
and that he would do with the king’s protection. Bertha did not know
what to do, for she adored the child of Jehan, and could only feel a
feeble affection for the other, whom, nevertheless she protected
against the evil intentions of the old fellow, Bastarnay.

Bertha, satisfied with the way things were going, quieted her
conscience with falsehood, and thought that all danger was past, since
twelve years had elapsed with no other alloy than the doubt which at
times embittered her joy. Each year, according to her pledged faith,
the monk of Marmoustier, who was unknown to everyone except the
servant-maid, came to pass a whole day at the chateau to see his
child, although Bertha had many times besought brother Jehan to yield
his right. But Jehan pointed to the child, saying, “You see him every
day of the year, and I only once!” And the poor mother could find no
word to answer this speech with.

A few months before the last rebellion of the Dauphin Louis against
his father, the boy was treading closely on the heels of his twelfth
year, and appeared likely to become a great savant, so learned was he
in all the sciences. Old Bastarnay had never been more delighted at
having been a father in his life, and resolved to take his son with
him to the Court of Burgundy, where Duke Charles promised to make for
this well-beloved son a position, which should be the envy of princes,
for he was not at all averse to clever people. Seeing matters thus
arranged, the devil judged the time to be ripe for his mischiefs. He
took his tail and flapped it right into the middle of this happiness,
so that he could stir it up in his own peculiar way.


III
HORRIBLE CHASTISEMENT OF BERTHA AND EXPIATION OF THE SAME,
WHO DIED PARDONED

The servant of the lady of Bastarnay, who was then about
five-and-thirty years old, fell in love with one of the master’s
men-at-arms, and was silly enough to let him take loaves out of the
oven, until there resulted therefrom a natural swelling, which certain
wags in these parts call a nine months’ dropsy. The poor woman begged
her mistress to intercede for her with the master, so that he might
compel this wicked man to finish at the altar that which he had
commenced elsewhere. Madame de Bastarnay had no difficulty in obtaining
this favour from him, and the servant was quite satisfied. But the old
warrior, who was always extremely rough, hastened into his pretorium,
and blew him up sky-high, ordering him, under the pain of the gallows,
to marry the girl; which the soldier preferred to do, thinking more of
his neck than of his peace of mind.

Bastarnay sent also for the female, to whom he imagined, for the
honour of his house, he ought to sing a litany, mixed with epithets
and ornamented with extremely strong expressions, and made her think,
by way of punishment, that she was not going to be married, but flung
into one of the cells in the jail. The girl fancied that Madame wanted
to get rid of her, in order to inter the secret of the birth of her
beloved son. With this impression, when the old ape said such
outrageous things to her--namely, that he must have been a fool to
keep a harlot in his house--she replied that he certainly was a very
big fool, seeing that for a long time past his wife had been played
the harlot, and with a monk too, which was the worst thing that could
happen to a warrior.

Think of the greatest storm you ever saw it in your life, and you will
have a weak sketch of the furious rage into which the old man fell,
when thus assailed in a portion of his heart which was a triple life.
He seized the girl by the throat, and would have killed her there and
then, but she, to prove her story, detailed the how, the why, and the
when, and said that if he had no faith in her, he could have the
evidence of his own ears by hiding himself the day that Father Jehan
de Sacchez, the prior of Marmoustier, came. He would then hear the
words of the father, who solaced herself for his year’s fast, and in
one day kissed his son for the rest of the year.

Imbert ordered this woman instantly to leave the castle, since, if her
accusation were true, he would kill her just as though she had
invented a tissue of lies. In an instant he had given her a hundred
crowns, besides her man, enjoining them not to sleep in Touraine; and
for greater security, they were conducted into Burgundy, by de
Bastarnay’s officers. He informed his wife of their departure, saying,
that as her servant was a damaged article he had thought it best to
get rid of her, but had given her a hundred crowns, and found
employment for the man at the Court of Burgundy. Bertha was astonished
to learn that her maid had left the castle without receiving her
dismissal from herself, her mistress; but she said nothing. Soon
afterwards she had other fish to fry, for she became a prey to vague
apprehensions, because her husband completely changed in his manner,
commenced to notice the likeness of his first-born to himself, and
could find nothing resembling his nose, or his forehead, his this, or
his that, in the youngest he loved so well.

“He is my very image,” replied Bertha one day that he was throwing out
these hints. “Know you not that in well regulated households, children
are formed from the father and mother, each in turn, or often from
both together, because the mother mingles her qualities with the vital
force of the father? Some physicians declare that they have known many
children born without any resemblance to either father or mother, and
attribute these mysteries to the whim of the Almighty.”

“You have become very learned, my dear,” replied Bastarnay; “but I,
who am an ignoramus, I should fancy that a child who resembles a
monk--”

“Had a monk for a father!” said Bertha, looking at him with an
unflinching gaze, although ice rather than blood was coursing through
her veins.

The old fellow thought he was mistaken, and cursed the servant; but he
was none the less determined to make sure of the affair. As the day of
Father Jehan’s visit was close at hand, Bertha, whose suspicions were
aroused by this speech, wrote him that it was her wish that he should
not come this year, without, however, telling him her reason; then she
went in search of La Fallotte at Loches, who was to give her letter to
Jehan, and believed everything was safe for the present. She was all
the more pleased at having written to her friend the prior, when
Imbert, who, towards the time appointed for the poor monk’s annual
treat, had always been accustomed to take a journey into the province
of Maine, where he had considerable property, remained this time at
home, giving as his reason the preparations for rebellion which
monseigneur Louis was then making against his father, who as everyone
knows, was so cut up at this revolt that it caused his death. This
reason was so good a one, that poor Bertha was quite satisfied with
it, and did not trouble herself. On the regular day, however, the
prior arrived as usual. Bertha seeing him, turned pale, and asked him
if he had not received her message.

“What message?” said Jehan.

“Ah! we are lost then; the child, thou, and I,” replied Bertha.

“Why so?” said the prior.

“I know not,” said she; “but our last day has come.”

She inquired of her dearly beloved son where Bastarnay was. The young
man told her that his father had been sent for by a special messenger
to Loches, and would not be back until evening. Thereupon Jehan
wished, is spite of his mistress, to remain with her and his dear son,
asserting that no harm would come of it, after the lapse of twelve
years, since the birth of their boy.

The days when that adventurous night you know of was celebrated,
Bertha stayed in her room with the poor monk until supper time. But on
this occasion the lovers--hastened by the apprehensions of Bertha,
which was shared by Jehan directly she had informed him of them--dined
immediately, although the prior of Marmoustier reassured Bertha by
pointing out to her the privileges of the Church, and how Bastarnay,
already in bad odour at court, would be afraid to attack a dignitary
of Marmoustier. When they were sitting down to table their little one
happened to be playing, and in spite of the reiterated prayers of his
mother, would not stop his games, since he was galloping about the
courtyard on a fine Spanish barb, which Duke Charles of Burgundy had
presented to Bastarnay. And because young lads like to show off,
varlets make themselves bachelors at arms, and bachelors wish to play
the knight, this boy was delighted at being able to show the monk what
a man he was becoming; he made the horse jump like a flea in the
bedclothes, and sat as steady as a trooper in the saddle.

“Let him have his way, my darling,” said the monk to Bertha.
“Disobedient children often become great characters.”

Bertha ate sparingly, for her heart was as swollen as a sponge in
water. At the first mouthful, the monk, who was a great scholar, felt
in his stomach a pain, and on his palette a bitter taste of poison
that caused him to suspect that the Sire de Bastarnay had given them
all their quietus. Before he had made this discovery Bertha had eaten.
Suddenly the monk pulled off the tablecloth and flung everything into
the fireplace, telling Bertha his suspicion. Bertha thanked the Virgin
that her son had been so taken up with his sport. Retaining his
presence of mind, Jehan, who had not forgotten the lesson he had
learned as a page, leaped into the courtyard, lifted his son from the
horse, sprang across it himself, and flew across the country with such
speed that you would have thought him a shooting-star if you had seen
him digging the spurs into the horse’s bleeding flanks, and he was at
Loches in Fallotte’s house in the same space of time that only the
devil could have done the journey. He stated the case to her in two
words, for the poison was already frying his marrow, and requested her
to give him an antidote.

“Alas,” said the sorceress, “had I known that it was for you I was
giving this poison, I would have received in my breast the dagger’s
point, with which I was threatened, and would have sacrificed my poor
life to save that of a man of God, and of the sweetest woman that ever
blossomed on this earth; for alas! my dear friend, I have only two
drops of the counter-poison that you see in this phial.”

“Is there enough for her?”

“Yes, but go at once,” said the old hag.

The monk came back more quickly that he went, so that the horse died
under him in the courtyard. He rushed into the room where Bertha,
believing her last hour to be come, was kissing her son, and writhing
like a lizard in the fire, uttering no cry for herself, but for the
child, left to the wrath of Bastarnay, forgetting her own agony at the
thought of his cruel future.

“Take this,” said the monk; “my life is saved!”

Jehan had the great courage to say these words with an unmoved face,
although he felt the claws of death seizing his heart. Hardly had
Bertha drunk when the prior fell dead, not, however, without kissing
his son, and regarding his dear lady with an eye that changed not even
after his last sigh. This sight turned her as cold as marble, and
terrified her so much that she remained rigid before this dead man,
stretched at her feet, pressing the hand of her child, who wept,
although her own eye was as dry as the Red Sea when the Hebrews
crossed it under the leadership of Baron Moses, for it seemed to her
that she had sharp sand rolling under her eyelids. Pray for her, ye
charitable souls, for never was woman so agonised, in divining that
her lover has saved her life at the expense of his own. Aided by her
son, she herself placed the monk in the middle of the bed, and stood
by the side of it, praying with the boy, whom she then told that the
prior was his true father. In this state she waited her evil hour, and
her evil hour did not take long in coming, for towards the eleventh
hour Bastarnay arrived, and was informed at the portcullis that the
monk was dead, and not Madame and the child, and he saw his beautiful
Spanish horse lying dead. Thereupon, seized with a furious desire to
slay Bertha and the monk’s bastard, he sprang up the stairs with one
bound; but at the sight of the corpse, for whom his wife and her son
repeated incessant litanies, having no ears for his torrent of
invective, having no eyes for his writhings and threats, he had no
longer the courage to perpetrate this dark deed. After the first fury
of his rage had passed, he could not bring himself to it, and quitted
the room like a coward and a man taken in crime, stung to the quick by
those prayers continuously said for the monk. The night was passed in
tears, groans, and prayers.

By an express order from Madame, her servant had been to Loches to
purchase for her the attire of a young lady of quality, and for her
poor child a horse and the arms of an esquire; noticing which the
Sieur de Bastarnay was much astonished. He sent for Madame and the
monk’s son, but neither mother nor child returned any answer, but
quietly put on the clothes purchased by the servant. By Madame’s order
this servant made up the account of her effects, arranged her clothes,
purples, jewels, and diamonds, as the property of a widow is arranged
when she renounces her rights. Bertha ordered even her alms-purse be
included, in order that the ceremony might be perfect. The report of
these preparations ran through the house, and everyone knew then that
the mistress was about to leave it, a circumstance that filled every
heart with sorrow, even that of a little scullion, who had only been a
week in the place, but to whom Madame had already given a kind word.

Frightened at these preparations, old Bastarnay came into her chamber,
and found her weeping over the body of Jehan, for the tears had come
at last; but she dried them directly she perceived her husband. To his
numerous questions she replied briefly by the confession of her fault,
telling him how she had been duped, how the poor page had been
distressed, showing him upon the corpse the mark of the poniard wound;
how long he had been getting well; and how, in obedience to her, and
from penitence towards God, he had entered the Church, abandoning the
glorious career of a knight, putting an end to his name, which was
certainly worse than death; how she, while avenging her honour, had
thought that even God himself would not have refused the monk one day
in the year to see the son for whom he had sacrificed everything; how,
not wishing to live with a murderer, she was about to quit his house,
leaving all her property behind her; because, if the honour of the
Bastarnays was stained, it was not she who had brought the shame
about; because in this calamity she had arranged matters as best she
could; finally, she added a vow to go over mountain and valley, she
and her son, until all was expiated, for she knew how to expiate all.

Having with noble mien and a pale face uttered these beautiful words,
she took her child by the hand and went out in great mourning, more
magnificently beautiful than was Mademoiselle Hagar on her departure
from the residence of the patriarch Abraham, and so proudly, that all
the servants and retainers fell on their knees as she passed along,
imploring her with joined hands, like Notre Dame de la Riche. It was
pitiful to see the Sieur de Bastarnay following her, ashamed, weeping,
confessing himself to blame, and downcast and despairing, like a man
being led to the gallows, there to be turned off.

And Bertha turned a deaf ear to everything. The desolation was so
great that she found the drawbridge lowered, and hastened to quit the
castle, fearing that it might be suddenly raised again; but no one had
the right or the heart to do it. She sat down on the curb of the moat,
in view of the whole castle, who begged her, with tears, to stay. The
poor sire was standing with his hand upon the chain of the portcullis,
as silent as the stone saints carved above the door. He saw Bertha
order her son to shake the dust from his shoes at the end of the
bridge, in order to have nothing belonging to Bastarnay about him; and
she did likewise. Then, indicating the sire to her son with her
finger, she spoke to him as follows--

“Child, behold the murderer of thy father, who was, as thou art aware,
the poor prior; but thou hast taken the name of this man. Give it him
back here, even as thou leavest the dust taken by the shoes from his
castle. For the food that thou hast had in the castle, by God’s help
we will also settle.”

Hearing this, Bastarnay would have let his wife receive a whole
monastery of monks in order not to be abandoned by her, and by a young
squire capable of becoming the honour of his house, and remained with
his head sunk down against the chains.

The heart of Bertha was suddenly filled with holy solace, for the
banner of the great monastery turned the corner of a road across the
fields, and appeared accompanied by the chants of the Church, which
burst forth like heavenly music. The monks, informed of the murder
perpetrated on their well-beloved prior, came in procession, assisted
by the ecclesiastical justice, to claim his body. When he saw this,
the Sire de Bastarnay had barely that time to make for the postern
with his men, and set out towards Monseigneur Louis, leaving
everything in confusion.

Poor Bertha, en croup behind her son, came to Montbazon to bid her
father farewell, telling him that this blow would be her death, and
was consoled by those of her family who endeavoured to raise her
spirits, but were unable to do so. The old Sire de Rohan presented his
grandson with a splendid suit of armour, telling him to acquire glory
and honour that he might turn his mother’s faults into eternal renown.
But Madame de Bastarnay had implanted in the mind of her dear son no
other idea than of atoning for the harm done, in order to save her and
Jehan from eternal damnation. Both then set out for the places then in
a state of rebellion, in order to render such service to Bastarnay
that he would receive from them more than life itself.

Now the heat of the sedition was, as everyone knows, in the
neighbourhood of Angouleme, and of Bordeaux in Guienne, and other
parts of the kingdom, where great battles and severe conflicts between
the rebels and the royal armies was likely to take place. The
principal one which finished the war was given between Ruffec and
Angouleme, where all the prisoners taken were tried and hanged. This
battle, commanded by old Bastarnay, took place in the month of
November, seven months after the poisoning of Jehan. Now the Baron
knew that his head had been strongly recommended as one to be cut off,
he being the right hand of Monsiegneur Louis. Directly his men began
to fall back, the old fellow found himself surrounded by six men
determined to seize him. Then he understood that they wished to take
him alive, in order to proceed against his house, ruin his name, and
confiscate his property. The poor sire preferred rather to die and
save his family, and present the domains to his son. He defended
himself like the brave old lion that he was. In spite of their number,
these said soldiers, seeing three of their comrades fall, were obliged
to attack Bastarnay at the risk of killing him, and threw themselves
together upon him, after having laid low two of his equerries and a
page.

In this extreme danger an esquire wearing the arms of Rohan, fell upon
the assailants like a thunderbolt, and killed two of them, crying,
“God save the Bastarnays!” The third man-at-arms, who had already
seized old Bastarnay, was so hard pressed by this squire, that he was
obliged to leave the elder and turn against the younger, to whom he
gave a thrust with his dagger through a flaw in his armour. Bastarnay
was too good a comrade to fly without assisting the liberator of his
house, who was badly wounded. With a blow of his mace he killed the
man-at-arms, seized the squire, lifted him on to his horse, and gained
the open, accompanied by a guide, who led him to the castle of
Roche-Foucauld, which he entered by night, and found in the great room
Bertha de Rohan, who had arranged this retreat for him. But on
removing the helmet of his rescuer, he recognised the son of Jehan,
who expired upon the table, as by a final effort he kissed his mother,
and saying in a loud voice to her--

“Mother, we have paid the debt we owed him!”

Hearing these words, the mother clasped the body of her loved child to
her heart, and separated from him never again, for she died of grief,
without hearing or heeding the pardon and repentance of Bastarnay.

The strange calamity hastened the last day of the poor old man, who
did not live to see the coronation of King Louis the Eleventh. He
founded a daily mass in the Church of Roche-Foucauld, where in the
same grave he placed mother and son, with a large tombstone, upon
which their lives are much honoured in the Latin language.

The morals which any one can deduce from this history are the most
profitable for the conduct of life, since this shows how gentlemen
should be courteous with the dearly beloveds of their wives. Further,
it teaches us that all children are blessings sent by God Himself, and
over them fathers, whether true or false, have no right of murder, as
was formerly the case at Rome, owing to a heathen and abominable law,
which ill became that Christianity which makes us all sons of God.



        HOW THE PRETTY MAID OF PORTILLON CONVINCED HER JUDGE

The Maid of Portillon, who became as everyone knows, La Tascherette,
was, before she became a dyer, a laundress at the said place of
Portillon, from which she took her name. If any there be who do not
know Tours, it may be as well to state that Portillon is down the
Loire, on the same side as St. Cyr, about as far from the bridge which
leads to the cathedral of Tours as said bridge is distant from
Marmoustier, since the bridge is in the centre of the embankment
between Portillon and Marmoustier. Do you thoroughly understand?

Yes? Good! Now the maid had there her washhouse, from which she ran to
the Loire with her washing in a second and took the ferry-boat to get
to St. Martin, which was on the other side of the river, for she had
to deliver the greater part of her work in Chateauneuf and other
places.

About Midsummer day, seven years before marrying old Taschereau, she
had just reached the right age to be loved, without making a choice
from any of the lads who pursued her with their intentions. Although
there used to come to the bench under her window the son of Rabelais,
who had seven boats on the Loire, Jehan’s eldest, Marchandeau the
tailor, and Peccard the ecclesiastical goldsmith, she made fun of them
all, because she wished to be taken to church before burthening
herself with a man, which proves that she was an honest woman until
she was wheedled out of her virtue. She was one of those girls who
take great care not to be contaminated, but who, if by chance they get
deceived, let things take their course, thinking that for one stain or
for fifty a good polishing up is necessary. These characters demand
our indulgence.

A young noble of the court perceived her one day when she was crossing
the water in the glare of the noonday sun, which lit up her ample
charms, and seeing her, asked who she was. An old man, who was working
on the banks, told him she was called the Pretty Maid of Portillon, a
laundress, celebrated for her merry ways and her virtue. This young
lord, besides ruffles to starch, had many precious draperies and
things; he resolved to give the custom of his house to this girl, whom
he stopped on the road. He was thanked by her and heartily, because he
was the Sire du Fou, the king’s chamberlain. This encounter made her
so joyful that her mouth was full of his name. She talked about it a
great deal to the people of St. Martin, and when she got back to the
washhouse was still full of it, and on the morrow at her work her
tongue went nineteen to the dozen, and all on the same subject, so
that as much was said concerning my Lord du Fou in Portillon as of God
in a sermon; that is, a great deal too much.

“If she works like that in cold water, what will she do in warm?” said
an old washerwoman. “She wants du Fou; he’ll give her du Fou!”

The first time this giddy wench, with her head full of Monsieur du
Fou, had to deliver the linen at his hotel, the chamberlain wished to
see her, and was very profuse in praises and compliments concerning
her charms, and wound up by telling her that she was not at all silly
to be beautiful, and therefore he would give her more than she
expected. The deed followed the word, for the moment his people were
out of the room, he began to caress the maid, who thinking he was
about to take out the money from his purse, dared not look at the
purse, but said, like a girl ashamed to take her wages--

“It will be for the first time.”

“It will be soon,” said he.

Some people say that he had great difficulty in forcing her to accept
what he offered her, and hardly forced her at all; others that he
forced her badly, because she came out like an army flagging on the
route, crying and groaning, and came to the judge. It happened that
the judge was out. La Portillone awaited his return in his room,
weeping and saying to the servant that she had been robbed, because
Monseigneur du Fou had given her nothing but his mischief; whilst a
canon of the Chapter used to give her large sums for that which M. du
Fou wanted for nothing. If she loved a man she would think it wise to
do things for him for nothing, because it would be a pleasure to her;
but the chamberlain had treated her roughly, and not kindly and
gently, as he should have done, and that therefore he owed her the
thousand crowns of the canon. Then the judge came in, saw the wench,
and wished to kiss her, but she put herself on guard, and said she had
come to make a complaint. The judge replied that certainly she could
have the offender hanged if she liked, because he was most anxious to
serve her. The injured maiden replied that she did not wish the death
of her man, but that he should pay her a thousand gold crowns, because
she had been robbed against her will.

“Ha! ha!” said the judge, “what he took was worth more than that.”

“For the thousand crowns I’ll cry quits, because I shall be able to
live without washing.”

“He who has robbed you, is he well off?”

“Oh yes.”

“Then he shall pay dearly for it. Who is it?”

“Monseigneur du Fou.”

“Oh, that alters the case,” said the judge.

“But justice?” said she.

“I said the case, not the justice of it,” replied the judge. “I must
know how the affair occurred.”

Then the girl related naively how she was arranging the young lord’s
ruffles in his wardrobe, when he began to play with her skirt, and she
turned round saying--

“Go on with you!”

“You have no case,” said the judge, “for by that speech he thought
that you gave him leave to go on. Ha! ha!”

Then she declared that she had defended herself, weeping and crying
out, and that that constitutes an assault.

“A wench’s antics to incite him,” said the judge.

Finally, La Portillone declared that against her will she had been
taken round the waist and thrown, although she had kicked and cried
and struggled, but that seeing no help at hand, she had lost courage.

“Good! good!” said the judge. “Did you take pleasure in the affair?”

“No,” said she. “My anguish can only be paid for with a thousand
crowns.”

“My dear,” said the judge, “I cannot receive your complaint, because I
believe no girl could be thus treated against her will.”

“Hi! hi! hi! Ask your servant,” said the little laundress, sobbing,
“and hear what she’ll tell you.”

The servant affirmed that there were pleasant assaults and unpleasant
ones; that if La Portillone had received neither amusement nor money,
either one or the other was due to her. This wise counsel threw the
judge into a state of great perplexity.

“Jacqueline,” said he, “before I sup I’ll get to the bottom of this.
Now go and fetch my needle and the red thread that I sew the law paper
bags with.”

Jacqueline came back with a big needle, pierced with a pretty little
hole, and a big red thread, such as the judges use. Then she remained
standing to see the question decided, very much disturbed, as was also
the complainant at these mysterious preparations.

“My dear,” said the judge, “I am going to hold the bodkin, of which
the eye is sufficiently large, to put this thread into it without
trouble. If you do put it in, I will take up your case, and will make
Monseigneur offer you a compromise.”

“What’s that?” said she. “I will not allow it.”

“It is a word used in justice to signify an agreement.”

“A compromise is then agreeable with justice?” said La Portillone.

“My dear, this violence has also opened your mind. Are you ready?”

“Yes,” said she.

The waggish judge gave the poor nymph fair play, holding the eye
steady for her; but when she wished to slip in the thread that she had
twisted to make straight, he moved a little, and the thread went on
the other side. She suspected the judge’s argument, wetted the thread,
stretched it, and came back again. The judge moved, twisted about, and
wriggled like a bashful maiden; still this cursed thread would not
enter. The girl kept trying at the eye, and the judge kept fidgeting.
The marriage of the thread could not be consummated, the bodkin
remained virgin, and the servant began to laugh, saying to La
Portillone that she knew better how to endure than to perform. Then
the roguish judge laughed too, and the fair Portillone cried for her
golden crowns.

“If you don’t keep still,” cried she, losing patience; “if you keep
moving about I shall never be able to put the thread in.”

“Then, my dear, if you had done the same, Monseigneur would have been
unsuccessful too. Think, too, how easy is the one affair, and how
difficult the other.”

The pretty wench, who declared she had been forced, remained
thoughtful, and sought to find a means to convince the judge by
showing how she had been compelled to yield, since the honour of all
poor girls liable to violence was at stake.

“Monseigneur, in order that the bet made the fair, I must do exactly
as the young lord did. If I had only had to move I should be moving
still, but he went through other performances.”

“Let us hear them,” replied the judge.

Then La Portillone straightens the thread, and rubs it in the wax of
the candle, to make it firm and straight; then she looked towards the
eye of the bodkin, held by the judge, slipping always to the right or
to the left. Then she began making endearing little speeches, such as,
“Ah, the pretty little bodkin! What a pretty mark to aim at! Never did
I see such a little jewel! What a pretty little eye! Let me put this
little thread into it! Ah, you will hurt my poor thread, my nice
little thread! Keep still! Come, my love of a judge, judge of my love!
Won’t the thread go nicely into this iron gate, which makes good use
of the thread, for it comes out very much out of order?” Then she
burst out laughing, for she was better up in this game than the judge,
who laughed too, so saucy and comical and arch was she, pushing the
thread backwards and forwards. She kept the poor judge with the case
in his hand until seven o’clock, keeping on fidgeting and moving about
like a schoolboy let loose; but as La Portillone kept on trying to put
the thread in, he could not help it. As, however, his joint was
burning, and his wrist was tired, he was obliged to rest himself for a
minute on the side of the table; then very dexterously the fair maid
of Portillon slipped the thread in, saying--

“That’s how the thing occurred.”

“But my joint was burning.”

“So was mine,” said she.

The judge, convinced, told La Portillone that he would speak to
Monseigneur du Fou, and would himself carry the affair through, since
it was certain the young lord had embraced her against her will, but
that for valid reasons he would keep the affair dark. On the morrow
the judge went to the Court and saw Monseigneur du Fou, to whom he
recounted the young woman’s complaint, and how she had set forth her
case. This complaint lodged in court, tickled the king immensely.
Young du Fou having said that there was some truth in it, the king
asked if he had had much difficulty, and as he replied, innocently,
“No,” the king declared the girl was quite worth a hundred gold
crowns, and the chamberlain gave them to the judge, in order not to be
taxed with stinginess, and said the starch would be a good income to
La Portillone. The judge came back to La Portillone, and said,
smiling, that he had raised a hundred gold crowns for her. But if she
desired the balance of the thousand, there were at that moment in the
king’s apartments certain lords who, knowing the case, had offered to
make up the sum for her, with her consent. The little hussy did not
refuse this offer, saying, that in order to do no more washing in the
future she did not mind doing a little hard work now. She gratefully
acknowledged the trouble the good judge had taken, and gained her
thousand crowns in a month. From this came the falsehoods and jokes
concerning her, because out of these ten lords jealousy made a
hundred, whilst, differently from young men, La Portillone settled
down to a virtuous life directly she had her thousand crowns. Even a
Duke, who would have counted out five hundred crowns, would have found
this girl rebellious, which proves she was niggardly with her
property. It is true that the king caused her to be sent for to his
retreat of Rue Quinquangrogne, on the mall of Chardonneret, found her
extremely pretty, exceedingly affectionate, enjoyed her society, and
forbade the sergeants to interfere with her in any way whatever.
Seeing she was so beautiful, Nicole Beaupertuys, the king’s mistress,
gave her a hundred gold crowns to go to Orleans, in order to see if
the colour of the Loire was the same there as at Portillon. She went
there, and the more willingly because she did not care very much for
the king. When the good man came who confessed the king in his last
hours, and was afterwards canonised, La Portillone went to him to
polish up her conscience, did penance, and founded a bed in the
leper-house of St. Lazare-aux-Tours. Many ladies whom you know have
been assaulted by more than two lords, and have founded no other beds
than those in their own houses. It is as well to relate this fact, in
order to cleanse the reputation of this honest girl, who herself once
washed dirty things, and who afterwards became famous for her clever
tricks and her wit. She gave a proof of her merit in marrying
Taschereau, who she cuckolded right merrily, as has been related in the
story of The Reproach. This proves to us most satisfactorily that with
strength and patience justice itself can be violated.



     IN WHICH IT IS DEMONSTRATED THAT FORTUNE IS ALWAYS FEMININE

During the time when knights courteously offered to each other both
help and assistance in seeking their fortune, it happened that in
Sicily--which, as you are probably aware, is an island situated in the
corner of the Mediterranean Sea, and formerly celebrated--one knight
met in a wood another knight, who had the appearance of a Frenchman.
Presumably, this Frenchman was by some chance stripped of everything,
and was so wretchedly attired that but for his princely air he might
have been taken for a blackguard. It was possible that his horse had
died of hunger or fatigue, on disembarking from the foreign shore for
which he came, on the faith of the good luck which happened to the
French in Sicily, which was true in every respect.

The Sicilian knight, whose name was Pezare, was a Venetian long absent
from the Venetian Republic, and with no desire to return there, since
he had obtained a footing in the Court of the King of Sicily. Being
short of funds in Venice, because he was a younger son, he had no
fancy for commerce, and was for that reason eventually abandoned by
his family, a most illustrious one. He therefore remained at this
Court, where he was much liked by the king.

This gentleman was riding a splendid Spanish horse, and thinking to
himself how lonely he was in this strange court, without trusty
friends, and how in such cases fortune was harsh to helpless people
and became a traitress, when he met the poor French knight, who
appeared far worse off that he, who had good weapons, a fine horse,
and a mansion where servants were then preparing a sumptuous supper.

“You must have come a long way to have so much dust on your feet,”
 said the Venetian.

“My feet have not as much dust as the road was long,” answered the
Frenchman.

“If you have travelled so much,” continued the Venetian, “you must be
a learned man.”

“I have learned,” replied the Frenchman, “to give no heed to those who
do not trouble about me. I have learnt that however high a man’s head
was, his feet were always level with my own; more than that, I have
learnt to have no confidence in the warm days of winter, in the sleep
of my enemies, or the words of my friends.”

“You are, then, richer than I am,” said the Venetian, astonished,
“since you tell me things of which I never thought.”

“Everyone must think for himself,” said the Frenchman; “and as you
have interrogated me, I can request from you the kindness of pointing
to me the road to Palermo or some inn, for the night is closing in.”

“Are you then, acquainted with no French or Sicilian gentlemen at
Palermo?”

“No.”

“Then you are not certain of being received?”

“I am disposed to forgive those who reject me. The road, sir, if you
please.”

“I am lost like yourself,” said the Venetian. “Let us look for it in
company.”

“To do that we must go together; but you are on horseback, I am on
foot.”

The Venetian took the French knight on his saddle behind him, and
said--

“Do you know with whom you are?”

“With a man, apparently.”

“Do you think you are in safety?”

“If you were a robber, you would have to take care of yourself,” said
the Frenchman, putting the point of his dagger to the Venetian’s
heart.

“Well, now, my noble Frenchman, you appear to be a man of great
learning and sound sense; know that I am a noble, established at the
Court of Sicily, but alone, and I seek a friend. You seem to be in the
same plight, and, judging from appearances, you do not seem friendly
with your lot, and have apparently need of everybody.”

“Should I be happier if everybody wanted me?”

“You are a devil, who turns every one of my words against me. By St.
Mark! my lord knight, can one trust you?”

“More than yourself, who commenced our federal friendship by deceiving
me, since you guide your horse like a man who knows his way, and you
said you were lost.”

“And did not you deceive me?” said the Venetian, “by making a sage of
your years walk, and giving a noble knight the appearance of a
vagabond? Here is my abode; my servants have prepared supper for us.”

The Frenchman jumped off the horse, and entered the house with the
Venetian cavalier, accepting his supper. They both seated themselves
at the table. The Frenchman fought so well with his jaws, he twisted
the morsels with so much agility, that he showed herself equally
learned in suppers, and showed it again in dexterously draining the
wine flasks without his eye becoming dimmed or his understanding
affected. Then you may be sure that the Venetian thought to himself he
had fallen in with a fine son of Adam, sprung from the right side and
the wrong one. While they were drinking together, the Venetian
endeavoured to find some joint through which to sound the secret
depths of his friend’s cogitations. He, however, clearly perceived
that he would cast aside his shirt sooner than his prudence, and
judged it opportune to gain his esteem by opening his doublet to him.
Therefore he told him in what state was Sicily, where reigned Prince
Leufroid and his gentle wife; how gallant was the Court, what courtesy
there flourished, that there abounded many lords of Spain, Italy,
France, and other countries, lords in high feather and well feathered;
many princesses, as rich as noble, and as noble as rich; that this
prince had the loftiest aspirations--such as to conquer Morocco,
Constantinople, Jerusalem, the lands of Soudan, and other African
places. Certain men of vast minds conducted his affairs, bringing
together the ban and arriere ban of the flower of Christian chivalry,
and kept up his splendour with the idea of causing to reign over the
Mediterranean this Sicily, so opulent in times gone by, and of ruining
Venice, which had not a foot of land. These designs had been planted
in the king’s mind by him, Pezare; but although he was high in that
prince’s favour, he felt himself weak, had no assistance from the
courtiers, and desired to make a friend. In this great trouble he had
gone for a little ride to turn matters over in his mind, and decide
upon the course to pursue. Now, since while in this idea he had met a
man of so much sense as the chevalier had proved herself to be, he
proposed to fraternise with him, to open his purse to him, and give
him his palace to live in. They would journey in company through life
in search of honours and pleasure, without concealing one single
thought, and would assist each other on all occasions as the
brothers-in-arms did at the Crusades. Now, as the Frenchman was seeking
his fortune, and required assistance, the Venetian did not for a moment
expect that this offer of mutual consolation would be refused.

“Although I stand in need of no assistance,” said the Frenchman,
“because I rely upon a point which will procure me all that I desire,
I should like to acknowledge your courtesy, dear Chevalier Pezare. You
will soon see that you will yet be the debtor of Gauttier de
Monsoreau, a gentleman of the fair land of Touraine.”

“Do you possess any relic with which your fortune is wound up?” said
the Venetian.

“A talisman given me by my dear mother,” said the Touranian, “with
which castles and cities are built and demolished, a hammer to coin
money, a remedy for every ill, a traveller’s staff always ready to be
tried, and worth most when in a state of readiness, a master tool,
which executes wondrous works in all sorts of forges, without making
the slightest noise.”

“Eh! by St. Mark you have, then, a mystery concealed in your hauberk?”

“No,” said the French knight; “it is a perfectly natural thing. Here
it is.”

And rising suddenly from the table to prepare for bed, Gauttier showed
to the Venetian the finest talisman to procure joy that he had ever
seen.

“This,” said the Frenchman, as they both got into bed together,
according to the custom of the times, “overcomes every obstacle, by
making itself master of female hearts; and as the ladies are the
queens in this court, your friend Gauttier will soon reign there.”

The Venetian remained in great astonishment at the sight of the secret
charms of the said Gauttier, who had indeed been bounteously endowed
by his mother, and perhaps also by his father; and would thus triumph
over everything, since he joined to this corporeal perfection the wit
of a young page, and the wisdom of an old devil. Then they swore an
eternal friendship, regarding as nothing therein a woman’s heart,
vowing to have one and the same idea, as if their heads had been in
the same helmet; and they fell asleep on the same pillow enchanted
with this fraternity. This was a common occurrence in those days.

On the morrow the Venetian gave a fine horse to his friend Gauttier,
also a purse full of money, fine silken hose, a velvet doublet,
fringed with gold, and an embroidered mantle, which garments set off
his figure so well, and showed up his beauties, that the Venetian was
certain he would captivate all the ladies. The servants received
orders to obey this Gauttier as they would himself, so that they
fancied their master had been fishing, and had caught this Frenchman.
Then the two friends made their entry into Palermo at the hour when
the princes and princesses were taking the air. Pezare presented his
French friend, speaking so highly of his merits, and obtaining such a
gracious reception for him, that Leufroid kept him to supper. The
knight kept a sharp eye on the Court, and noticed therein various
curious little secret practices. If the king was a brave and handsome
prince, the princess was a Spanish lady of high temperature, the most
beautiful and most noble woman of his Court, but inclined to
melancholy. Looking at her, the Touranian believed that she was
sparingly embraced by the king, for the law of Touraine is that joy in
the face comes from joy elsewhere. Pezare pointed out to his friend
Gauttier several ladies to whom Leufroid was exceedingly gracious and
who were exceedingly jealous and fought for him in a tournament of
gallantries and wonderful female inventions. From all this Gauttier
concluded that the prince went considerably astray with his court,
although he had the prettiest wife in the world, and occupied himself
with taxing the ladies of Sicily, in order that he might put his horse
in their stables, vary his fodder, and learn the equestrian
capabilities of many lands. Perceiving what a life Leufroid was
leading, the Sire de Monsoreau, certain that no one in the Court had
had the heart to enlighten the queen, determined at one blow to plant
his halberd in the field of the fair Spaniard by a master stroke; and
this is how. At supper-time, in order to show courtesy to the foreign
knight, the king took care to place him near the queen, to whom the
gallant Gauttier offered his arm, to take her into the room, and
conducted her there hastily, to get ahead of those who were following,
in order to whisper, first of all, a word concerning a subject which
always pleases the ladies in whatever condition they may be. Imagine
what this word was, and how it went straight through the stubble and
weeds into the warm thicket of love.

“I know, your majesty, what causes your paleness of face.”

“What?” said she.

“You are so loving that the king loves you night and day; thus you
abuse your advantage, for he will die of love.”

“What should I do to keep him alive?” said the queen.

“Forbid him to repeat at your altar more than three prayers a day.”

“You are joking, after the French fashion, Sir Knight, seeing that the
king’s devotion to me does not extend beyond a short prayer a week.”

“You are deceived,” said Gauttier, seating himself at the table. “I
can prove to you that love should go through the whole mass, matins,
and vespers, with an _Ave_ now and then, for queens as for simple
women, and go through the ceremony every day, like the monks in their
monastery, with fervour; but for you these litanies should never
finish.”

The queen cast upon the knight a glance which was far from one of
displeasure, smiled at him, and shook her head.

“In this,” said she, “men are great liars.”

“I have with me a great truth which I will show you when you wish it.”
 replied the knight. “I undertake to give you queen’s fare, and put you
on the high road to joy; by this means you will make up for lost time,
the more so as the king is ruined through other women, while I shall
reserve my advantage for your service.”

“And if the king learns of our arrangement, he will put your head on a
level with your feet.”

“Even if this misfortune befell me it after the first night, I should
believe I had lived a hundred years, from the joy therein received,
for never have I seen, after visiting all Courts, a princess fit to
hold a candle to your beauty. To be brief, if I die not by the sword,
you will still be the cause of my death, for I am resolved to spend my
life in your love, if life will depart in the place whence it comes.”

Now this queen had never heard such words before, and preferred them
to the most sweetly sung mass; her pleasure showed itself in her face,
which became purple, for these words made her blood boil within her
veins, so that the strings of her lute were moved thereat, and struck
a sweet note that rang melodiously in her ears, for this lute fills
with its music the brain and the body of the ladies, by a sweet
artifice of their resonant nature. What a shame to be young,
beautiful, Spanish, and queen, and yet neglected. She conceived an
intense disdain for those of her Court who had kept their lips closed
concerning this infidelity, through fear of the king, and determined
to revenge herself with the aid of this handsome Frenchman, who cared
so little for life that in his first words he had staked it in making
a proposition to a queen, which was worthy of death, if she did her
duty. Instead of this, however, she pressed his foot with her own, in
a manner that admitted no misconception, and said aloud to him--

“Sir Knight, let us change the subject, for it is very wrong of you to
attack a poor queen in her weak spot. Tell us the customs of the
ladies of the Court of France.”

Thus did the knight receive the delicate hint that the business was
arranged. Then he commenced to talk of merry and pleasant things,
which during supper kept the court, the king, the queen, and all the
courtiers in a good humour; so much so that when the siege was raised,
Leufroid declared that he had never laughed so much in his life. Then
they strolled about the gardens, which were the most beautiful in the
world, and the queen made a pretext of the chevalier’s sayings to walk
beneath a grove of blossoming orange trees, which yielded a delicious
fragrance.

“Lovely and noble queen,” said Gauttier, immediately, “I have seen in
all countries the perdition of love have its birth in these first
attentions, which we call courtesy; if you have confidence in me, let
us agree, as people of high intelligence, to love each other without
standing on so much ceremony; by this means no suspicion will be
aroused, our happiness will be less dangerous and more lasting. In
this fashion should queens conduct their amours, if they would avoid
interference.”

“Well said,” said she. “But as I am new at this business, I did not
know what arrangements to make.”

“Have you are among your women one in whom you have perfect
confidence?”

“Yes,” said she; “I have a maid who came from Spain with me, who would
put herself on a gridiron for me like St. Lawrence did for God, but
she is always poorly.”

“That’s good,” said her companion, “because you go to see her.”

“Yes,” said the queen, “and sometimes at night.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Gauttier, “I make a vow to St. Rosalie, patroness of
Sicily, to build her a gold altar for this fortune.”

“O Jesus!” cried the queen. “I am doubly blessed in having a lover so
handsome and yet so religious.”

“Ah, my dear, I have two sweethearts today, because I have a queen to
love in heaven above, and another one here below, and luckily these
loves cannot clash one with the other.”

This sweet speech so affected the queen, that for nothing she would
have fled with this cunning Frenchman.

“The Virgin Mary is very powerful in heaven,” said the queen. “Love
grant that I may be like her!”

“Bah! they are talking of the Virgin Mary,” said the king, who by
chance had come to watch them, disturbed by a gleam of jealousy, cast
into his heart by a Sicilian courtier, who was furious at the sudden
favour which the Frenchman had obtained.

The queen and the chevalier laid their plans, and everything was
secretly arranged to furnish the helmet of the king with two invisible
ornaments. The knight rejoined the Court, made himself agreeable to
everyone, and returned to the Palace of Pezare, whom he told that
their fortunes were made, because on the morrow, at night, he would
sleep with the queen. This swift success astonished the Venetian, who,
like a good friend, went in search of fine perfumes, linen of Brabant,
and precious garments, to which queens are accustomed, with all of
which he loaded his friend Gauttier, in order that the case might be
worthy the jewel.

“Ah, my friend,” said he “are you sure not to falter, but to go
vigorously to work, to serve the queen bravely, and give her such joys
in her castle of Gallardin that she may hold on for ever to this
master staff, like a drowning sailor to a plank?”

“As for that, fear nothing, dear Pezare, because I have the arrears of
the journey, and I will deal with her as with a simple servant,
instructing her in the ways of the ladies of Touraine, who understand
love better than all others, because they make it, remake it, and
unmake it to make it again and having remade it, still keep on making
it; and having nothing else to do, have to do that which always wants
doing. Now let us settle our plans. This is how we shall obtain the
government of the island. I shall hold the queen and you the king; we
will play the comedy of being great enemies before the eyes of the
courtiers, in order to divide them into two parties under our command,
and yet, unknown to all, we will remain friends. By this means we
shall know their plots, and will thwart them, you by listening to my
enemies and I to yours. In the course of a few days we will pretend to
quarrel in order to strive one against the other. This quarrel will be
caused by the favour in which I will manage to place you with the
king, through the channel of the queen, and he will give you supreme
power, to my injury.”

On the morrow Gauttier went to the house of the Spanish lady, who
before the courtiers he recognised as having known in Spain, and he
remained there seven whole days. As you can imagine, the Touranian
treated the queen as a fondly loved woman, and showed her so many
terra incognita in love, French fashions, little tendernesses, etc.,
that she nearly lost her reason through it, and swore that the French
were the only people who thoroughly understood love. You see how the
king was punished, who, to keep her virtuous, had allowed weeds to
grow in the grange of love. Their supernatural festivities touched the
queen so strongly that she made a vow of eternal love to Montsoreau,
who had awakened her, by revealing to her the joys of the proceeding.
It was arranged that the Spanish lady should take care always to be
ill; and that the only man to whom the lovers would confide their
secret should be the court physician, who was much attached to the
queen. By chance this physician had in his glottis, chords exactly
similar to those of Gauttier, so that by a freak of nature they had
the same voice, which much astonished the queen. The physician swore
on his life faithfully to serve the pretty couple, for he deplored the
sad desertion of this beautiful women, and was delighted to know she
would be served as a queen should be--a rare thing.

A month elapsed and everything was going on to the satisfaction of the
two friends, who worked the plans laid by the queen, in order to get
the government of Sicily into the hands of Pezare, to the detriment of
Montsoreau, whom the king loved for his great wisdom; but the queen
would not consent to have him, because he was so ungallant. Leufroid
dismissed the Duke of Cataneo, his principal follower, and put the
Chevalier Pezare in his place. The Venetian took no notice of his
friend the Frenchmen. Then Gauttier burst out, declaimed loudly
against the treachery and abused friendship of his former comrade, and
instantly earned the devotion of Cataneo and his friends, with whom he
made a compact to overthrow Pezare. Directly he was in office the
Venetian, who was a shrewd man, and well suited to govern states,
which was the usual employment of Venetian gentlemen, worked wonders
in Sicily, repaired the ports, brought merchants there by the
fertility of his inventions and by granting them facilities, put bread
into the mouths of hundreds of poor people, drew thither artisans of
all trades, because fetes were always being held, and also the idle
and rich from all quarters, even from the East. Thus harvests, the
products of the earth, and other commodities, were plentiful; and
galleys came from Asia, the which made the king much envied, and the
happiest king in the Christian world, because through these things his
Court was the most renowned in the countries of Europe. This fine
political aspect was the result of the perfect agreement of the two
men who thoroughly understood each other. The one looked after the
pleasures, and was himself the delight of the queen, whose face was
always bright and gay, because she was served according to the method
of Touraine, and became animated through excessive happiness; and he
also took care to keep the king amused, finding him every day new
mistresses, and casting him into a whirl of dissipation. The king was
much astonished at the good temper of the queen, whom, since the
arrival of the Sire de Montsoreau in the island, he had touched no
more than a Jew touches bacon. Thus occupied, the king and queen
abandoned the care of their kingdom to the other friend, who conducted
the affairs of government, ruled the establishment, managed the
finances, and looked to the army, and all exceedingly well, knowing
where money was to be made, enriching the treasury, and preparing all
the great enterprises above mentioned.

The state of things lasted three years, some say four, but the monks
of Saint Benoist have not wormed out the date, which remains obscure,
like the reasons for the quarrel between the two friends. Probably the
Venetian had the high ambition to reign without any control or
dispute, and forgot the services which the Frenchman had rendered him.
Thus do the men who live in Courts behave, for, according to the
statements of the Messire Aristotle in his works, that which ages the
most rapidly in this world is a kindness, although extinguished love
is sometimes very rancid. Now, relying on the perfect friendship of
Leufroid, who called him his crony, and would have done anything for
him, the Venetian conceived the idea of getting rid of his friend by
revealing to the king the mystery of his cuckoldom, and showing him
the source of the queen’s happiness, not doubting for a moment but
that he would commence by depriving Monsoreau of his head, according
to a practice common in Sicily under similar circumstances. By this
means Pezare would have all the money that he and Gauttier had
noiselessly conveyed to the house of a Lombard of Genoa, which money
was their joint property on account of their fraternity. This
treasure, increased on one side by the magnificent presents made to
Montsoreau by the queen, who had vast estates in Spain, and other, by
inheritance in Italy; on the other, by the king’s gifts to his prime
minister, to whom he also gave certain rights over the merchants, and
other indulgences. The treacherous friend, having determined to break
his vow, took care to conceal his intention from Gauttier, because the
Touranian was an awkward man to tackle.

One night that Pezare knew that the queen was in bed with her lover,
who loved him as though each night were a wedding one, so skilful was
she at the business, the traitor promised the king to let him take
evidence in the case, through a hole he had made in the wardrobe of
the Spanish lady, who always pretended to be at death’s door. In order
to obtain a better view, Pezare waited until the sun had risen. The
Spanish lady, who was fleet of foot, had a quick eye and a sharp ear,
heard footsteps, peeped out, and perceiving the king, followed by the
Venetian, through a crossbar in the closet in which she slept the
night that the queen had her lover between two sheets, which is
certainly the best way to have a lover. She ran to warn the couple of
this betrayal. But the king’s eye was already at the cursed hole,
Leufroid saw--what?

That beautiful and divine lantern with burns so much oil and lights
the world--a lantern adorned with the most lovely baubles, flaming,
brilliantly, which he thought more lovely than all the others, because
he had lost sight of it for so long a time that it appeared quite new
to him; but the size of the hole prevented him seeing anything else
except the hand of a man, which modestly covered the lantern, and he
heard the voice of Montsoreau saying--

“How’s the little treasure, this morning?” A playful expression, which
lovers used jokingly, because this lantern is in all countries the sun
of love, and for this the prettiest possible names are bestowed upon
it, whilst comparing it to the loveliest things in nature, such as my
pomegranate, my rose, my little shell, my hedgehog, my gulf of love,
my treasure, my master, my little one; some even dared most
heretically to say, my god! If you don’t believe it, ask your friends.

At this moment the lady let him understand by a gesture that the king
was there.

“Can he hear?” said the queen.

“Yes.”

“Can he see?”

“Yes.”

“Who brought him?”

“Pezare.”

“Fetch the physician, and get Gauttier into his own room.” said the
queen.

In less time than it takes a beggar to say “God bless you, sir!” the
queen had swathed the lantern in linen and paint, so that you would
have thought it a hideous wound in a state of grievous inflammation.
When the king, enraged by what he overheard, burst open the door, he
found the queen lying on the bed exactly as he has seen her through
the hole, and the physician, examining the lantern swathed in
bandages, and saying, “How it is the little treasure, this morning?”
 in exactly the same voice as the king had heard. A jocular and
cheerful expression, because physicians and surgeons use cheerful
words with ladies and treat this sweet flower with flowery phrases.
This sight made the king look as foolish as a fox caught in a trap.
The queen sprang up, reddening with shame, and asking what man dared
to intrude upon her privacy at such a moment, but perceiving the king,
she said to him as follows:--

“Ah! my lord, you have discovered that which I have endeavoured to
conceal from you: that I am so badly treated by you that I am
afflicted with a burning ailment, of which my dignity would not allow
me to complain, but which needs secret dressing in order to assuage
the influence of the vital forces. To save my honour and your own, I
am compelled to come to my good Lady Miraflor, who consoles me in my
troubles.”

Then the physician commenced to treat Leufroid to an oration,
interlarded with Latin quotations and precious grains from
Hippocrates, Galen, the School of Salerno, and others, in which he
showed him how necessary to women was the proper cultivation of the
field of Venus, and that there was great danger of death to queens of
Spanish temperament, whose blood was excessively amorous. He delivered
himself of his arguments with great solemnity of feature, voice, and
manner, in order to give the Sire de Montsoreau time to get to bed.
Then the queen took the same text to preach the king a sermon as long
as his arm, and requested the loan of that limb, that the king might
conduct her to her apartment instead of the poor invalid, who usually
did so in order to avoid calumny. When they were in the gallery where
the Sire de Montsoreau resided, the queen said jokingly, “You should
play a good trick on this Frenchman, who I would wager is with some
lady, and not in his own room. All the ladies of Court are in love
with him, and there will be mischief some day through him. If you had
taken my advice he would not be in Sicily now.”

Leufroid went suddenly into Gauttier’s room, whom he found in a deep
sleep, and snoring like a monk in Church. The queen returned with the
king, whom she took to her apartments, and whispered to one of the
guards to send to her the lord whose place Pezare occupied. Then,
while she fondled the king, taking breakfast with him, she took the
lord directly he came, into an adjoining room.

“Erect a gallows on the bastion,” said she, “then seize the knight
Pezare, and manage so that he is hanged instantly, without giving time
to write or say a single word on any subject whatsoever. Such is our
good pleasure and supreme command.”

Cataneo made no remark. While Pezare was thinking to himself that his
friend Gauttier would soon be minus his head, the Duke Cataneo came to
seize and lead him on to bastion, from which he could see at the
queen’s window the Sire de Montsoreau in company with the king, the
queen, and the courtiers, and came to the conclusion that he who
looked after the queen had a better chance in everything than he who
looked after the king.

“My dear,” said the queen to her spouse, leading him to the window,
“behold a traitor, who was endeavouring to deprive you of that which
you hold dearest in the world, and I will give you the proofs when you
have the leisure to study them.”

Montsoreau, seeing the preparations for the final ceremony, threw
himself at the king’s feet, to obtain the pardon of him who was his
mortal enemy, at which the king was much moved.

“Sire de Monsoreau,” said the queen, turning towards him with an angry
look, “are you so bold as to oppose our will and pleasure?”

“You are a noble knight,” said the king, “but you do not know how
bitter this Venetian was against you.”

Pezare was delicately strangled between the head and the shoulders,
for the queen revealed his treacheries to the king, proving to him, by
the declaration of a Lombard of the town, the enormous sums which
Pezare had in the bank of Genoa, the whole of which were given up to
Montsoreau.

This noble and lovely queen died, as related in the history of Sicily,
that is, in consequence of a heavy labour, during which she gave birth
to a son, who was a man as great in himself as he was unfortunate in
his undertakings. The king believed the physician’s statement, that
the said termination to this accouchement was caused by the too chaste
life the queen had led, and believing himself responsible for it, he
founded the Church of the Madonna, which is one of the finest in the
town of Palermo. The Sire de Monsoreau, who was a witness of the
king’s remorse, told him that when a king got his wife from Spain, he
ought to know that this queen would require more attention than any
other, because the Spanish ladies were so lively that they equalled
ten ordinary women, and that if he wished a wife for show only, he
should get her from the north of Germany, where the women are as cold
as ice. The good knight came back to Touraine laden with wealth, and
lived there many years, but never mentioned his adventures in Sicily.
He returned there to aid the king’s son in his principal attempt
against Naples, and left Italy when this sweet prince was wounded, as
is related in the Chronicle.

Besides the high moralities contained in the title of this tale, where
it is said that fortune, being female, is always on the side of the
ladies, and that men are quite right to serve them well, it shows us
that silence is the better part of wisdom. Nevertheless, the monkish
author of this narrative seems to draw this other no less learned
moral therefrom, that interest which makes so many friendships, breaks
them also. But from these three versions you can choose the one that
best accords with your judgment and your momentary requirement.



       CONCERNING A POOR MAN WHO WAS CALLED LE VIEUX PAR-CHEMINS

The old chronicler who furnished the hemp to weave the present story,
is said to have lived at the time when the affair occurred in the City
of Rouen.

In the environs of this fair town, where at the time dwelt Duke
Richard, an old man used to beg, whose name was Tryballot, but to whom
was given the nickname of Le Vieux par-Chemins, or the Old Man of the
Roads; not because he was yellow and dry as vellum, but because he was
always in the high-ways and by-ways--up hill and down dale--slept with
the sky for his counterpane, and went about in rags and tatters.
Notwithstanding this, he was very popular in the duchy, where everyone
had grown used to him, so much so that if the month went by without
anyone seeing his cup held towards them, people would say, “Where is
the old man?” and the usual answer was, “On the roads.”

This said man had had for a father a Tryballot, who was in his
lifetime a skilled artisan, so economical and careful, that he left
considerable wealth to his son.

But the young lad soon frittered it away, for he was the very opposite
of the old fellow, who, returning from the fields to his house, picked
up, now here, now there, many a little stick of wood left right and
left, saying, conscientiously, that one should never come home empty
handed. Thus he warmed himself in the winter at the expense of the
careless; and he did well. Everyone recognised what a good example
this was for the country, since a year before his death no one left a
morsel of wood on the road; he had compelled the most dissipated to be
thrifty and orderly. But his son made ducks and drakes of everything,
and did not follow his wise example. The father had predicted the
thing. From the boy’s earliest youth, when the good Tryballot set him
to watch the birds who came to eat the peas, beans, and the grain, and
to drive the thieves away, above all, the jays, who spoiled
everything, he would study their habits, and took delight in watching
with what grace they came and went, flew off loaded, and returned,
watching with a quick eye the snares and nets; and he would laugh
heartily at their cleverness in avoiding them. Tryballot senior went
into a passion when he found his grain considerably less in a measure.
But although he pulled his son’s ears whenever he caught him idling
and trifling under a nut tree, the little rascal did not alter his
conduct, but continued to study the habits of the blackbirds,
sparrows, and other intelligent marauders. One day his father told him
that he would be wise to model himself after them, for that if he
continued this kind of life, he would be compelled in his old age like
them, to pilfer, and like them, would be pursued by justice. This came
true; for, as has before been stated, he dissipated in a few days the
crowns which his careful father had acquired in a life-time. He dealt
with men as he did with the sparrows, letting everyone put a hand in
his pocket, and contemplating the grace and polite demeanour of those
who assisted to empty it. The end of his wealth was thus soon reached.
When the devil had the empty money bag to himself, Tryballot did not
appear at all cut up, saying, that he “did not wish to damn himself
for this world’s goods, and that he had studied philosophy in the
school of the birds.”

After having thoroughly enjoyed himself, of all his goods, there only
remained to him a goblet bought at Landict, and three dice, quite
sufficient furniture for drinking and gambling, so that he went about
without being encumbered, as are the great, with chariots, carpets,
dripping pans, and an infinite number of varlets. Tryballot wished to
see his good friends, but they no longer knew him, which fact gave him
leave no longer to recognise anyone. Seeing this, he determined to
choose a profession in which there was nothing to do and plenty to
gain. Thinking this over, he remembered the indulgences of the
blackbirds and the sparrows. Then the good Tryballot selected for his
profession that of begging money at people’s houses, and pilfering.
From the first day, charitable people gave him something, and
Tryballot was content, finding the business good, without advance
money or bad debts; on the contrary, full of accommodation. He went
about it so heartily, that he was liked everywhere, and received a
thousand consolations refused to rich people. The good man watched the
peasants planting, sowing, reaping, and making harvest, and said to
himself, that they worked a little for him as well. He who had a pig
in his larder owed him a bit for it, without suspecting it. The man
who baked a loaf in his oven often baked it for Tryballot without
knowing it. He took nothing by force; on the contrary, people said to
him kindly, while making him a present, “Here Vieux par-Chemins, cheer
up, old fellow. How are you? Come, take this; the cat began it, you
can finish it.”

Vieux par-Chemins was at all the weddings, baptisms, and funerals,
because he went everywhere where there was, openly or secretly,
merriment and feasting. He religiously kept the statutes and canons of
his order--namely, to do nothing, because if he had been able to do
the smallest amount of work no one would ever give anything again.
After having refreshed himself, this wise man would lay full length in
a ditch, or against a church wall, and think over public affairs; and
then he would philosophise, like his pretty tutors, the blackbirds,
jays, and sparrows, and thought a great deal while mumping; for,
because his apparel was poor, was that a reason his understanding
should not be rich? His philosophy amused his clients, to whom he
would repeat, by way of thanks, the finest aphorisms of his science.
According to him, suppers produced gout in the rich: he boasted that
he had nimble feet, because his shoemaker gave him boots that do not
pinch his corns. There were aching heads beneath diadems, but his
never ached, because it was touched neither by luxury nor any other
chaplet. And again, that jewelled rings hinder the circulation of the
blood. Although he covered himself with sores, after the manner of
cadgers, you may be sure he was as sound as a child at the baptismal
font.

The good man disported himself with other rogues, playing with his
three dice, which he kept to remind him to spend his coppers, in order
that he might always be poor. In spite of his vow, he was, like all
the order of mendicants, so wealthy that one day at the Paschal feast,
another beggar wishing to rent his profit from him, Vieux par-Chemins
refused ten crowns for it; in fact, the same evening he spent fourteen
crowns in drinking the health of the alms-givers, because it is the
statutes of beggary that one should show one’s gratitude to donors.
Although he carefully got rid of that of which had been a source of
anxiety to others, who, having too much wealth went in search of
poverty, he was happier with nothing in the world than when he had his
father’s money. And seeing what are the conditions of nobility, he was
always on the high road to it, because he did nothing except according
to his fancy, and lived nobly without labour. Thirty crowns would not
have got him out of a bed when he was in it. The morrow always dawned
for him as it did for others, while leading this happy life; which,
according to the statements of Plato, whose authority has more than
once been invoked in these narratives, certain ancient sages had led
before him. At last, Vieux par-Chemins reached the age of eighty-two
years, having never been a single day without picking up money, and
possessed the healthiest colour and complexion imaginable. He believed
that if he had persevered in the race for wealth he would have been
spoiled and buried years before. It is possible he was right.

In his early youth Vieux par-Chemins had the illustrious virtue of
being very partial to the ladies; and his abundance of love was, it is
said, the result of his studies among the sparrows. Thus it was that
he was always ready to give the ladies his assistance in counting the
joists, and this generosity finds its physical cause in the fact that,
having nothing to do, he was always ready to do something. His secret
virtues brought about, it is said, that popularity which he enjoyed in
the provinces. Certain people say that the lady of Chaumont had him in
her castle, to learn the truth about these qualities, and kept him
there for a week, to prevent him begging. But the good man jumped over
the hedges and fled in great terror of being rich. Advancing in age,
this great quintessencer found himself disdained, although his notable
faculties of loving were in no way impaired. This unjust turning away
on the part of the female tribe caused the first trouble of Vieux
par-Chemins, and the celebrated trial of Rouen, to which it is time I
came.

In this eighty-second year of his age he was compelled to remain
continent for about seven months, during which time he met no woman
kindly disposed towards him; and he declared before the judge that
that had caused the greatest astonishment of his long and honourable
life. In this most pitiable state he saw in the fields during the
merry month of May a girl, who by chance was a maiden, and minding
cows. The heat was so excessive that this cowherdess had stretched
herself beneath the shadow of a beech tree, her face to the ground,
after the custom of people who labour in the fields, in order to get a
little nap while her animals were grazing. She was awakened by the
deed of the old man, who had stolen from her that which a poor girl
could only lose once. Finding herself ruined without receiving from
the process either knowledge or pleasure, she cried out so loudly that
the people working in the fields ran to her, and were called upon by
her as witnesses, at the time when that destruction was visible in her
which is appropriate only to a bridal night. She cried and groaned,
saying that the old ape might just as well have played his tricks on
her mother, who would have said nothing.

He made answer to the peasants, who had already raised their hoes to
kill him, that he had been compelled to enjoy himself. These people
objected that a man can enjoy himself very well without enjoying a
maiden--a case for the provost, which would bring him straight to the
gallows; and he was taken with great clamour to the jail of Rouen.

The girl, interrogated by the provost, declared that she was sleeping
in order to do something, and that she thought she was dreaming of her
lover, with whom she was then at loggerheads, because before marriage
he wished to take certain liberties: and jokingly, in this dream she
let him reconnoiter to a certain extent, in order to avoid any dispute
afterwards, and that in spite of her prohibitions he went further than
she had given him leave to go, and finding more pain than pleasure in
the affair, she had been awakened by Vieux par-Chemins, who had
attacked her as a gray-friar would a ham at the end of lent.

This trial caused so great a commotion in the town of Rouen that the
provost was sent for by the duke, who had an intense desire to know if
the thing were true. Upon the affirmation of the provost, he ordered
Vieux par-Chemins to be brought to his palace, in order that he might
hear what defence he had to make. The poor old fellow appeared before
the prince, and informed him naively of the misfortune which his
impulsive nature brought upon him, declaring that he was like a young
fellow impelled by imperious desires; that up to the present year he
had sweethearts of his own, but for the last eight months he had been
a total abstainer; that he was too poor to find favour with the girls
of the town; that honest women who once were charitable to him, had
taken a dislike to his hair, which had feloniously turned white in
spite of the green youth of his love, and that he felt compelled to
avail himself of the chance when he saw this maiden, who, stretched at
full length under the beech tree, left visible the lining of her dress
and two hemispheres, white as snow, which had deprived him of reason;
that the fault was the girl’s and not his, because young maidens
should be forbidden to entice passers-by by showing them that which
caused Venus to be named Callipyge; finally the prince ought to be
aware what trouble a man had to control himself at the hour of noon,
because that was the time of day at which King David was smitten with
the wife of the Sieur Uriah, that where a Hebrew king, beloved of God,
had succumbed, a poor man, deprived of all joy, and reduced to begging
for his bread, could not expect to escape; that for that matter of
that, he was quite willing to sing psalms for the remainder of his
days, and play upon a lute by way of penance, in imitation of the said
king, who had had the misfortune to slay a husband, while he had only
done a trifling injury to a peasant girl. The duke listened to the
arguments of Vieux par-Chemins, and said that he was a man of good
parts. Then he made his memorable decree, that if, as this beggar
declared, he had need of such gratification at his age he gave
permission to prove it at the foot of the ladder which he would have
to mount to be hanged, according to the sentence already passed on him
by the provost; that if then, the rope being round his neck, between
the priest and the hangman, a like desire seized him he should have a
free pardon.

This decree becoming known, there was a tremendous crowd to see the
old fellow led to the gallows. There was a line drawn up as if for a
ducal entry, and in it many more bonnets than hats. Vieux par-Chemins
was saved by a lady curious to see how this precious violator would
finish his career. She told the duke that religion demanded that he
should have a fair chance. And she dressed herself as if for a ball;
she brought intentionally into evidence two hillocks of such snowy
whiteness that the whitest linen neckerchief would have paled before
them; indeed, these fruits of love stood out, without a wrinkle, over
her corset, like two beautiful apples, and made one’s mouth water, so
exquisite were they. This noble lady, who was one of those who rouse
one’s manhood, had a smile ready on her lips for the old fellow. Vieux
par-Chemins, dressed in garments of coarse cloth, more certain of
being in the desired state after hanging than before it, came along
between the officers of justice with a sad countenance, glancing now
here and there, and seeing nothing but head-dresses; and he would he
declared, have given a hundred crowns for a girl tucked up as was the
cowherdess, whose charms, though they had been his ruin, he still
remembered, and they might still have saved him; but, as he was old,
the remembrance was not sufficiently recent. But when, at the foot of
the ladder, he saw the twin charms of the lady, and the pretty delta
that their confluent rotundities produced, the sight so much excited
him that his emotion was patent to the spectators.

“Make haste and see that the required conditions are fulfilled,” said
he to the officers. “I have gained my pardon but I cannot answer for
my saviour.”

The lady was well pleased with this homage, which, she said, was
greater than his offence. The guards, whose business it was to proceed
to a verification, believed the culprit to be the devil, because never
in their wits had they seen an “I” so perpendicular as was the old
man. He was marched in triumph through the town to the palace of the
duke, to whom the guards and others stated the facts. In that period
of ignorance, this affair was thought so much of that the town voted
the erection of a column on the spot where the old fellow gained his
pardon, and he was portrayed thereon in stone in the attitude he
assumed at the sight of that honest and virtuous lady. The statue was
still to be seen when Rouen was taken by the English, and the writers
of the period have included this history among the notable events of
the reign.

As the town offered to supply the old man with all he required, and
see to his sustenance, clothing, and amusements, the good duke
arranged matters by giving the injured maiden a thousand crowns and
marrying her to her seducer, who then lost his name of Vieux
par-Chemins. He was named by the duke the Sieur de Bonne-C------.
This wife was confined nine months afterwards of a perfectly formed
male child, alive and kicking, and born with two teeth. From this
marriage came the house of Bonne-C------, who from motives modest but
wrong, besought our well-beloved King Louis Eleventh to grant them
letters patent to change their names into that of Bonne-Chose. The
king pointed out to the Sieur de Bonne-C------ that there was in the
state of Venice an illustrious family named Coglioni, who wore three
“C------ au natural” on their coat of arms. The gentlemen of the House
of Bonne-C------ stated to the king that their wives were ashamed to
be thus called in public assemblies; the king answered that they would
lose a great deal, because there is a great deal in a name.
Nevertheless, he granted the letters. After that this race was known
by this name, and founded families in many provinces. The first Sieur
de Bonne-C------ lived another 27 years, and had another son and two
daughters. But he grieved much at becoming rich, and no longer being
able to pick up a living in the street.

From this you can obtain finer lessons and higher morals than from any
story you will read all your life long--of course excepting these
hundred glorious Droll Tales--namely, that never could adventure of
this sort have happened to the impaired and ruined constitutions of
court rascals, rich people and others who dig their graves with their
teeth by over-eating and drinking many wines that impair the
implements of happiness; which said over-fed people were lolling
luxuriously in costly draperies and on feather beds, while the Sieur
de Bonne-Chose was roughing it. In a similar situation, if they had
eaten cabbage, it would have given them the diarrhoea. This may incite
many of those who read this story to change their mode of life, in
order to imitate Vieux par-Chemins in his old age.



                   ODD SAYINGS OF THREE PILGRIMS

When the pope left his good town of Avignon to take up his residence
in Rome, certain pilgrims were thrown out who had set out for this
country, and would have to pass the high Alps, in order to gain this
said town of Rome, where they were going to seek the _remittimus_ of
various sins. Then were to be seen on the roads, and the hostelries,
those who wore the order of Cain, otherwise the flower of the
penitents, all wicked fellows, burdened with leprous souls, which
thirsted to bathe in the papal piscina, and all carrying with them
gold or precious things to purchase absolution, pay for their beds,
and present to the saints. You may be sure that those who drank water
going, on their return, if the landlords gave them water, wished it to
be the holy water of the cellar.

At this time the three pilgrims came to this said Avignon to their
injury, seeing that it was widowed of the pope. While they were
passing the Rhodane, to reach the Mediterranean coast, one of the
three pilgrims, who had with him a son about 10 years of age, parted
company with the others, and near the town of Milan suddenly appeared
again, but without the boy. Now in the evening, at supper, they had a
hearty feast in order to celebrate the return of the pilgrim, who they
thought had become disgusted with penitence through the pope not being
in Avignon. Of these three roamers to Rome, one had come from the city
of Paris, the other from Germany, and the third, who doubtless wished
to instruct his son on the journey, had his home in the duchy of
Burgundy, in which he had certain fiefs, and was a younger son of the
house of Villers-la-Faye (Villa in Fago), and was named La Vaugrenand.
The German baron had met the citizen of Paris just past Lyons, and
both had accosted the Sire de la Vaugrenand in sight of Avignon.

Now in this hostelry the three pilgrims loosened their tongues, and
agreed to journey to Rome together, in order the better to resist the
foot pads, the night-birds, and other malefactors, who made it their
business to ease pilgrims of that which weighed upon their bodies
before the pope eased them of that which weighed upon their
consciences. After drinking the three companions commenced to talk
together, for the bottle is the key of conversation, and each made
this confession--that the cause of his pilgrimage was a woman. The
servant who watched their drinking, told them that of a hundred
pilgrims who stopped in the locality, ninety-nine were travelling from
the same thing. These three wise men then began to consider how
pernicious is woman to man. The Baron showed the heavy gold chain that
he had in his hauberk to present to Saint Peter, and said his crime
was such that he would not get rid of with the value of two such
chains. The Parisian took off his glove, and exposed a ring set with a
white diamond, saying that he had a hundred like it for the pope. The
Burgundian took off his hat, and exhibited two wonderful pearls, that
were beautiful ear-pendants for Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, and candidly
confessed that he would rather have left them round his wife’s neck.

Thereupon the servant exclaimed that their sins must have been as
great as those of Visconti.

Then the pilgrims replied that they were such that they had made a
solemn vow in their minds never to go astray again during the
remainder of their days, however beautiful the woman might be, and
this in addition to the penance which the pope might impose upon them.

Then the servant expressed her astonishment that all had made the same
vow. The Burgundian added, that this vow had been the cause of his
lagging behind, because he had been in extreme fear that his son, in
spite of his age, might go astray, and that he had made a vow to
prevent people and beasts alike gratifying their passions in his
house, or upon his estates. The baron having inquired the particulars
of the adventure, the sire narrated the affair as follows:--

“You know that the good Countess Jeane d’Avignon made formerly a law
for the harlots, who she compelled to live in the outskirts of the
town in houses with window-shutters painted red and closed. Now
passing in my company in this vile neighbourhood, my lad remarked
these houses with closed window-shutters, painted red, and his
curiosity being aroused--for these ten-year old little devils have
eyes for everything--he pulled me by the sleeve and kept on pulling
until he had learnt from me what these houses were. Then, to obtain
peace, I told him that young lads had nothing to do with such places,
and could only enter them at the peril of their lives, because it was
a place where men and women were manufactured, and the danger was such
for anyone unacquainted with the business that if a novice entered,
flying chancres and other wild beasts would seize upon his face. Fear
seized the lad, who then followed me to the hostelry in a state of
agitation, and not daring to cast his eyes upon the said bordels.
While I was in the stable, seeing to the putting up of the horses, my
son went off like a robber, and the servant was unable to tell me what
had become of him. Then I was in great fear of the wenches, but had
confidence in the laws, which forbade them to admit such children. At
supper-time the rascal came back to me looking no more ashamed of
himself than did our divine Saviour in the temple among the doctors.

“‘Whence comes you?’ said I to him.

“‘From the houses with the red shutters,’ he replied.

“‘Little blackguard,’ said I, ‘I’ll give you a taste of the whip.’

“Then he began to moan and cry. I told him that if he would confess
all that had happened to him I would let him off the beating.

“‘Ha,’ said he, ‘I took care not to go in, because of the flying
chancres and other wild beasts. I only looked through the chinks of
the windows, in order to see how men were manufactured.’

“‘And what did you see?’ I asked.

“‘I saw,’ said he, ‘a fine woman just being finished, because she only
wanted one peg, which a young worker was fitting in with energy.
Directly she was finished she turned round, spoke to, and kissed her
manufacturer.’

“‘Have your supper,’ said I; and the same night I returned into
Burgundy, and left him with his mother, being sorely afraid that at
the first town he might want to fit a peg into some girl.”

“These children often make these sort of answers,” said the Parisian.
“One of my neighbour’s children revealed the cuckoldom of his father
by a reply. One day I asked, to see if he was well instructed at
school in religious matters, ‘What is hope?’ ‘One of the king’s big
archers, who comes here when father goes out,’ said he. Indeed, the
sergeant of the Archers was named Hope. My friend was dumbfounded at
this, and, although to keep his countenance he looked in the mirror,
he could not see his horns there.”

The baron observed that the boy’s remark was good in this way: that
Hope is a person who comes to bed with us when the realities of life
are out of the way.

“Is a cuckold made in the image of God?” asked the Burgundian.

“No,” said the Parisian, “because God was wise in this respect, that
he took no wife; therefore is He happy through all eternity.”

“But,” said the maid-servant, “cuckolds are made in the image of God
before they are horned.”

Then the three pilgrims began to curse women, saying that they were
the cause of all the evils in the world.

“Their heads are as empty as helmets,” said the Burgundian.

“Their hearts are as straight as bill-hooks,” said the Parisian.

“Why are there so many men pilgrims and so few women pilgrims?” said
the German baron.

“Their cursed member never sins,” replied the Parisian; “it knows
neither father nor mother, the commandments of God, nor those of the
Church, neither laws divine or human: their member knows no doctrine,
understands no heresies, and cannot be blamed; it is innocent of all,
and always on the laugh; its understanding is nil; and for this reason
do I hold it in utter detestation.”

“I also,” said the Burgundian, “and I begin to understand the
different reading by a learned man of the verses of the Bible, in
which the account of the creation is given. In this Commentary, which
in my country we call a Noel, lies the reason of imperfection of this
feature of women, of which, different to that of other females, no man
can slake the thirst, such diabolical heat existing there. In this
Noel is stated that the Lord God, having turned his head to look at a
donkey, who had brayed for the first time in his Paradise, while he
was manufacturing Eve, the devil seized this moment to put his finger
into this divine creature, and made a warm wound, which the Lord took
care to close with a stitch, from which comes the maid. By means of
this frenum, the woman should remain closed, and children be made in
the same manner in which God made the angels, by a pleasure far above
carnal pleasure as the heaven is above the earth. Observing this
closing, the devil, wild at being done, pinched the Sieur Adam, who
was asleep, by the skin, and stretched a portion of it out in
imitation of his diabolical tail; but as the father of man was on his
back this appendage came out in front. Thus these two productions of
the devil had the desire to reunite themselves, following the law of
similarities which God had laid down for the conduct of the world.
From this came the first sin and the sorrows of the human race,
because God, noticing the devil’s work, determined to see what would
come of it.”

The servant declared that they were quite correct in the statements,
for that woman was a bad animal, and that she herself knew some who
were better under the ground than on it. The pilgrims, noticing then
how pretty the girl was, were afraid of breaking their vows, and went
straight to bed. The girl went and told her mistress she was
harbouring infidels, and told her what they had said about women.

“Ah!” said the landlady, “what matters it to me the thoughts my
customers have in their brains, so long as their purses are well
filled.”

And when the servant had told of the jewels, she exclaimed--

“Ah, these are questions which concern all women. Let us go and reason
with them. I’ll take the nobles, you can have the citizen.”

The landlady, who was the most shameless inhabitant of the duchy of
Milan, went into the chamber where the Sire de La Vaugrenand and the
German baron were sleeping, and congratulated them upon their vows,
saying that the women would not lose much by them; but to accomplish
these said vows it was necessary they should endeavour to withstand
the strongest temptations. Then she offered to lie down beside them,
so anxious were she to see if she would be left unmolested, a thing
which had never happened to her yet in the company of a man.

On the morrow, at breakfast, the servant had the ring on her finger,
her mistress had the gold chain and the pearl earrings. The three
pilgrims stayed in the town about a month, spending there all the
money they had in their purses, and agreed that if they had spoken so
severely of women it was because they had not known those of Milan.

On his return to Germany the Baron made this observation: that he was
only guilty of one sin, that of being in his castle. The Citizen of
Paris came back full of stories for his wife, and found her full of
Hope. The Burgundian saw Madame de La Vaugrenand so troubled that he
nearly died of the consolations he administered to her, in spite of
his former opinions. This teaches us to hold our tongues in
hostelries.



                             INNOCENCE

By the double crest of my fowl, and by the rose lining of my
sweetheart’s slipper! By all the horns of well-beloved cuckolds, and
by the virtue of their blessed wives! the finest work of man is
neither poetry, nor painted pictures, nor music, nor castles, nor
statues, be they carved never so well, nor rowing, nor sailing
galleys, but children.

Understand me, children up to the age of ten years, for after that
they become men or women, and cutting their wisdom teeth, are not
worth what they cost; the worst are the best. Watch them playing,
prettily and innocently, with slippers; above all, cancellated ones,
with the household utensils, leaving that which displeases them,
crying after that which pleases them, munching the sweets and
confectionery in the house, nibbling at the stores, and always
laughing as soon as their teeth are cut, and you will agree with me
that they are in every way lovable; besides which they are flower and
fruit--the fruit of love, the flower of life. Before their minds have
been unsettled by the disturbances of life, there is nothing in this
world more blessed or more pleasant than their sayings, which are
naive beyond description. This is as true as the double chewing
machine of a cow. Do not expect a man to be innocent after the manner
of children, because there is an, I know not what, ingredient of
reason in the naivety of a man, while the naivety of children is
candid, immaculate, and has all the finesse of the mother, which is
plainly proved in this tale.

Queen Catherine was at that time Dauphine, and to make herself welcome
to the king, her father-in-law, who at that time was very ill indeed,
presented him, from time to time, with Italian pictures, knowing that
he liked them much, being a friend of the Sieur Raphael d’Urbin and of
the Sieurs Primatice and Leonardo da Vinci, to whom he sent large sums
of money. She obtained from her family--who had the pick of these
works, because at that time the Duke of the Medicis governed Tuscany
--a precious picture, painted by a Venetian named Titian (artist to
the Emperor Charles, and in very high flavour), in which there were
portraits of Adam and Eve at the moment when God left them to wander
about the terrestrial Paradise, and were painted their full height, in
the costume of the period, in which it is difficult to make a mistake,
because they were attired in their ignorance, and caparisoned with the
divine grace which enveloped them--a difficult thing to execute on
account of the colour, but one in which the said Sieur Titian
excelled. The picture was put into the room of the poor king, who was
then ill with the disease of which he eventually died. It had a great
success at the Court of France, where everyone wished to see it; but
no one was able to until after the king’s death, since at his desire
it was allowed to remain in his room as long as he lived.

One day Madame Catherine took with her to the king’s room her son
Francis and little Margot, who began to talk at random, as children
will. Now here, now there, these children had heard this picture of
Adam and Eve spoken about, and had tormented their mother to take them
there. Since the two little ones at times amused the old king, Madame
the Dauphine consented to their request.

“You wished to see Adam and Eve, who were our first parents; there
they are,” said she.

Then she left them in great astonishment before Titian’s picture, and
seated herself by the bedside of the king, who delighted to watch the
children.

“Which of the two is Adam?” said Francis, nudging his sister Margot’s
elbow.

“You silly!” replied she, “to know that, they would have to be
dressed!”

This reply, which delighted the poor king and the mother, was
mentioned in a letter written in Florence by Queen Catherine.

No writer having brought it to light, it will remain, like a sweet
flower, in a corner of these Tales, although it is no way droll, and
there is no other moral to be drawn from it except that to hear these
pretty speeches of infancy one must beget the children.



                      THE FAIR IMPERIA MARRIED

I
HOW MADAME IMPERIA WAS CAUGHT BY THE VERY NET SHE WAS
ACCUSTOMED TO SPREAD FOR HER LOVE-BIRDS

The lovely lady Imperia, who gloriously opens these tales, because she
was the glory of her time, was compelled to come into the town of
Rome, after the holding of the council, for the cardinal of Ragusa
loved her more than his cardinal’s hat, and wished to have her near
him. This rascal was so magnificent, that he presented her with the
beautiful palace that he had in the Papal capital. About this time she
had the misfortune to find herself in an interesting condition by this
cardinal. As everyone knows, this pregnancy finished with a fine
little daughter, concerning whom the Pope said jokingly that she
should be named Theodora, as if to say The Gift Of God. The girl was
thus named, and was exquisitely lovely. The cardinal left his
inheritance to this Theodora, whom the fair Imperia established in her
hotel, for she was flying from Rome as from a pernicious place, where
children were begotten, and where she had nearly spoiled her beautiful
figure, her celebrated perfections, lines of the body, curves of the
back, delicious breasts, and Serpentine charms which placed her as
much above the other women of Christendom as the Holy Father was above
all other Christians. But all her lovers knew that with the assistance
of eleven doctors of Padua, seven master surgeons of Pavia, and five
surgeons come from all parts, who assisted at her confinement, she was
preserved from all injury. Some go so far as to say that she gained
therein superfineness and whiteness of skin. A famous man, of the
school of Salerno, wrote a book on the subject, to show the value of a
confinement for the freshness, health, preservation, and beauty of
women. In this very learned book it was clearly proved to readers that
that which was beautiful to see in Imperia, was that which it was
permissible for lovers alone to behold; a rare case then, for she did
not disarrange her attire for the petty German princes whom she called
her margraves, burgraves, electors, and dukes, just as a captain ranks
his soldiers.

Everyone knows that when she was eighteen years of age, the lovely
Theodora, to atone for her mother’s gay life, wished to retire into
the bosom of the Church. With this idea she placed herself in the
hands of a cardinal, in order that he might instruct her in the duties
of the devout. This wicked shepherd found the lamb so magnificently
beautiful that he attempted to debauch her. Theodora instantly stabbed
herself with a stiletto, in order not to be contaminated by the
evil-minded priest. This adventure, which was consigned to the history
of the period, made a great commotion in Rome, and was deplored by
everyone, so much was the daughter of Imperia beloved.

Then this noble courtesan, much afflicted, returned to Rome, there to
weep for her poor daughter. She set out in the thirty-ninth year of
her age, which was, according to some authors, the summer of her
magnificent beauty, because then she had obtained the acme of
perfection, like ripe fruit. Sorrow made her haughty and hard with
those who spoke to her of love, in order to dry her tears. The pope
himself visited her in her palace, and gave her certain words of
admonition. But she refused to be comforted, saying that she would
henceforth devote herself to God, because she had never yet been
satisfied by any man, although she had ardently desired it; and all of
them, even a little priest, whom she had adored like a saint’s shrine,
had deceived her. God, she was sure, would not do so.

This resolution disconcerted many, for she was the joy of a vast
number of lords. So that people ran about the streets of Rome crying
out, “Where is Madame Imperia? Is she going to deprive the world of
love?” Some of the ambassadors wrote to their masters on the subject.
The Emperor of the Romans was much cut up about it, because he had
loved her to distraction for eleven weeks; had left her only to go to
the wars, and loved her still as much as his most precious member,
which according to his own statement, was his eye, for that alone
embraced the whole of his dear Imperia. In this extremity the Pope
sent for a Spanish physician, and conducted him to the beautiful
creature, to whom he proved, by various arguments, adorned with Latin
and Greek quotations, that beauty is impaired by tears and
tribulation, and that through sorrow’s door wrinkles step in. This
proposition, confirmed by the doctors of the Holy College in
controversy, had the effect of opening the doors of the palace that
same evening. The young cardinals, the foreign envoys, the wealthy
inhabitants, and the principal men of the town of Rome came, crowded
the rooms, and held a joyous festival; the common people made grand
illuminations, and thus the whole population celebrated the return of
the Queen of Pleasure to her occupation, for she was at that time the
presiding deity of Love. The experts in all the arts loved her much,
because she spent considerable sums of money improving the Church in
Rome, which contained poor Theodora’s tomb, which was destroyed during
that pillage of Rome in which perished the traitorous constable of
Bourbon, for this holy maiden was placed therein in a massive coffin
of gold and silver, which the cursed soldiers were anxious to obtain.
The basilic cost, it is said, more than the pyramid erected by the
Lady Rhodepa, an Egyptian courtesan, eighteen hundred years before the
coming of our divine Saviour, which proves the antiquity of this
pleasant occupation, the extravagant prices which the wise Egyptians
paid for their pleasures, and how things deteriorate, seeing that now
for a trifle you can have a chemise full of female loveliness in the
Rue du Petit-Heulen, at Paris. Is it not abomination?

Never had Madame Imperia appeared so lovely as at this first gala
after her mourning. All the princes, cardinals, and others declared
that she was worthy the homage of the whole world, which was there
represented by a noble from every known land, and thus was it amply
demonstrated that beauty was in every place queen of everything.

The envoy of the King of France, who was a cadet of the house of l’Ile
Adam, arrived late, although he had never yet seen Imperia, and was
most anxious to do so. He was a handsome young knight, much in favour
with his sovereign, in whose court he had a mistress, whom he loved
with infinite tenderness, and who was the daughter of Monsieur de
Montmorency, a lord whose domains bordered upon those of the house of
l’Ile Adam. To this penniless cadet the king had given certain
missions to the duchy of Milan, of which he had acquitted himself so
well that he was sent to Rome to advance the negotiations concerning
which historians have written so much in their books. Now if he had
nothing of his own, poor little l’Ile Adam relied upon so good a
beginning. He was slightly built, but upright as a column, dark, with
black, glistening eyes; and a man not easily taken in; but concealing
his finesse, he had the air of an innocent child, which made him
gentle and amiable as a laughing maiden. Directly this gentleman
joined her circle, and her eyes had rested upon him, Madame Imperia
felt herself bitten by a strong desire, which stretched the harp
strings of her nature, and produced therefrom a sound she had not
heard for many a day. She was seized with such a vertigo of true love
at the sight of this freshness of youth, that but for her imperial
dignity she would have kissed the good cheeks which shone like little
apples.

Now take note of this; that so called modest women, and ladies whose
skirts bear their armorial bearings, are thoroughly ignorant of the
nature of man, because they keep to one alone, like the Queen of
France who believed all men had ulcers in the nose because the king
had; but a great courtesan, like Madame Imperia, knew man to his core,
because she had handled a great many. In her retreat, everyone came
out in his true colours, and concealed nothing, thinking to himself
that he would not be long with her. Having often deplored this
subjection, sometimes she would remark that she suffered from pleasure
more than she suffered from pain. There was the dark shadow of her
life. You may be sure that a lover was often compelled to part with a
nice little heap of crowns in order to pass the night with her, and
was reduced to desperation by a refusal. Now for her it was a joyful
thing to feel a youthful desire, like that she had for the little
priest, whose story commences this collection; but because she was
older than in those merry days, love was more fully established in
her, and she soon perceived that it was of a fiery nature when it
began to make itself felt; indeed, she suffered in her skin like a cat
that is being scorched, and so much so that she had an intense longing
to spring upon this gentleman, and bear him in triumph to her nest, as
a kite does its prey, but with great difficulty she restrained
herself. When he came and bowed to her, she threw back her head, and
assumed a most dignified attitude, as do those who have a love
infatuation in their hearts. The gravity of her demeanour to the young
ambassador caused many to think that she had work in store for him;
equivocating on the word, after the custom of the time.

L’Ile Adam, knowing himself to be dearly loved by his mistress,
troubled himself but little about Madame Imperia, grave or gay, and
frisked about like a goat let loose. The courtesan, terribly annoyed
at this, changed her tone, from being sulky became gay and lively,
came to him, softened her voice, sharpened her glance, gracefully
inclined her head, rubbed against him with her sleeve, and called him
Monsiegneur, embraced him with the loving words, trifled with his
hand, and finished by smiling at him most affably. He, not imagining
that so unprofitable a lover would suit her, for he was as poor as a
church mouse, and did not know that his beauty was the equal in her
eyes to all the treasures of the world, was not taken in her trap, but
continued to ride the high horse with his hand on his hips. This
disdain of her passion irritated Madame to the heart, which by this
spark was set in flame. If you doubt this, it is because you know
nothing of the profession of the Madame Imperia, who by reason of it
might be compared to a chimney, in which a great number of fires have
been lighted, which had filled it with soot; in this state a match was
sufficient to burn everything there, where a hundred fagots has smoked
comfortably. She burned within from top to toe in a horrible manner,
and could not be extinguished save with the water of love. The cadet
of l’Ile Adam left the room without noticing this ardour.

Madame, disconsolate at his departure, lost her senses from her head
to her feet, and so thoroughly that she sent a messenger to him on the
galleries, begging him to pass the night with her. On no other
occasion of her life had she had this cowardice, either for king,
pope, or emperor, since the high price of her favours came from the
bondage in which she held her admirers, whom the more she humbled the
more she raised herself. The disdainful hero of this history was
informed by the head chamber-women, who was a clever jade, that in all
probability a great treat awaited him, for most certainly Madame would
regale him with her most delicate inventions of love. L’Ile Adam
returned to the salons, delighted at this lucky chance. Directly the
envoy of France reappeared, as everyone had seen Imperia turn pale at
his departure, the general joy knew no bounds, because everyone was
delighted to see her return to her old life of love. An English
cardinal, who had drained more than one big-bellied flagon, and wished
to taste Imperia, went to l’Ile Adam and whispered to him, “Hold her
fast, so that she shall never again escape us.”

The story of this remark was told to the pope at his levee, and caused
him to remark, _Laetamini, gentes, quoniam surrexit Dominus_. A
quotation which the old cardinals abominated as a profanation of
sacred texts. Seeing which, the pope reprimanded them severely, and
took occasion to lecture them, telling them that if they were good
Christians they were bad politicians. Indeed, he relied upon the fair
Imperia to reclaim the emperor, and with this idea he syringed her
well with flattery.

The lights of the palace being extinguished, the golden flagons on the
floor, and the servants drunk and stretched about on the carpets,
Madame entered her bedchamber, leading by the hand her dear
lover-elect; and she was well pleased, and has since confessed that so
strongly was she bitten with love, she could hardly restrain herself
from rolling at his feet like a beast of the field, begging him to
crush her beneath him if he could. L’Ile Adam slipped off his
garments, and tumbled into bed as if he were in his own house. Seeing
which, Madame hastened her preparations, and sprang into her lover’s
arms with a frenzy that astonished her women, who knew her to be
ordinarily one of the most modest of women on these occasions. The
astonishment became general throughout the country, for the pair
remained in bed for nine days, eating, drinking, and embracing in a
marvellous and most masterly manner. Madame told her women that at
last she had placed her hand on a phoenix of love, since he revived
from every attack. Nothing was talked of in Rome and Italy but the
victory that had been gained over Imperia, who had boasted that she
would yield to no man, and spat upon all of them, even the dukes. As
to the aforesaid margraves and burgraves, she gave them the tail of
her dress to hold, and said that if she did not tread them under foot,
they would trample upon her. Madame confessed to her servants that,
differently to all other men she had had to put up with, the more she
fondled this child of love, the more she desired to do so, and that
she would never be able to part with him; nor his splendid eyes, which
blinded her; nor his branch of coral, that she always hungered after.
She further declared that if such were his desire, she would let him
suck her blood, eat her breasts--which were the most lovely in the
world--and cut her tresses, of which she had only given a single one
to the Emperor of the Romans, who kept it in his breast, like a
precious relic; finally, she confessed that on that night only had
life begun for her, because the embrace of Villiers de l’Ile Adam sent
the blood to her in three bounds and in a brace of shakes.

These expressions becoming known, made everyone very miserable.
Directly she went out, Imperia told the ladies of Rome that she should
die it if she were deserted by this gentleman, and would cause
herself, like Queen Cleopatra, to be bitten by an asp. She declared
openly that she had bidden an eternal adieu her to her former gay
life, and would show the whole world what virtue was by abandoning her
empire for this Villiers de l’Ile Adam, whose servant she would rather
be than reign of Christendom. The English cardinal remonstrated with
the pope that this love for one, in the heart of a woman who was the
joy of all, was an infamous depravity, and that he ought with a brief
_in partibus_, to annul this marriage, which robbed the fashionable
world of its principal attraction. But the love of this poor woman,
who had confessed the miseries of her life, was so sweet a thing, and
so moved the most dissipated heart, that she silenced all clamour, and
everyone forgave her her happiness. One day, during Lent, Imperia made
her people fast, and ordered them to go and confess, and return to
God. She herself went and fell at the pope’s feet, and there showed
such penitence, that she obtained from him remission of all her sins,
believing that the absolution of the pope would communicate to her
soul that virginity which she was grieved at being unable to offer her
lover. It is impossible to help thinking that there was some virtue in
the ecclesiastical piscina, for the poor cadet was so smothered with
love that he fancied himself in Paradise, and left the negotiations of
the King of France, left his love for Mademoiselle de Montmorency--in
fact, left everything to marry Madame Imperia, in order that he might
live and die with her. Such was the effect of the learned ways of this
great lady of pleasure directly she turned her science to the root of
a virtuous love. Imperia bade adieu to her admirers at a royal feast,
given in honour of her wedding, which was a wonderful ceremony, at
which all the Italian princes were present. She had, it is said, a
million gold crowns; in spite of the vastness of this sum, every one
far from blaming L’Ile Adam, paid him many compliments, because it was
evident that neither Madame Imperia nor her young husband thought of
anything but one. The pope blessed their marriage, and said that it
was a fine thing to see the foolish virgin returning to God by the
road of marriage.

But during that last night in which it would be permissible for all to
behold the Queen of Beauty, who was about to become a simple
chatelaine of the kingdom of France, there were a great number of men
who mourned for the merry nights, the suppers, the masked balls, the
joyous games, and the melting hours, when each one emptied his heart
to her. Everyone regretted the ease and freedom which had always been
found in the residence of this lovely creature, who now appeared more
tempting than she had ever done in her life, for the fervid heat of
her great love made her glisten like a summer sun. Much did they
lament the fact that she had had the sad fantasy to become a
respectable woman. To these Madame de l’Ile Adam answered jestingly,
that after twenty-four years passed in the service of the public, she
had a right to retire. Others said to her, that however distant the
sun was, people could warm themselves in it, while she would show
herself no more. To these she replied that she would still have smiles
to bestow upon those lords who would come and see how she played the
role of a virtuous woman. To this the English envoy answered, he
believed her capable of pushing virtue to its extreme point. She gave
a present to each of her friends, and large sums to the poor and
suffering of Rome; besides this, she left to the convent where her
daughter was to have been, and to the church she had built, the wealth
she had inherited from Theodora, which came from the cardinal of
Ragusa.

When the two spouses set out they were accompanied a long way by
knights in mourning, and even by the common people, who wished them
every happiness, because Madame Imperia had been hard on the rich
only, and had always been kind and gentle with the poor. This lovely
queen of love was hailed with acclamations throughout the journey in
all the towns of Italy where the report of her conversion had spread,
and where everyone was curious to see pass, a case so rare as two such
spouses. Several princes received this handsome couple at their
courts, saying it was but right to show honour to this woman who had
the courage to renounce her empire over the world of fashion, to
become a virtuous woman. But there was an evil-minded fellow, one my
lord Duke of Ferrara, who said to l’Ile Adam that his great fortune
had not cost him much. At this first offence Madame Imperia showed
what a good heart she had, for she gave up all the money she had
received from her lovers, to ornament the dome of St. Maria del Fiore,
in the town of Florence, which turned the laugh against the Sire
d’Este, who boasted that he had built a church in spite of the empty
condition of his purse. You may be sure he was reprimanded for this
joke by his brother the cardinal.

The fair Imperia only kept her own wealth and that which the Emperor
had bestowed upon her out of pure friendship since his departure, the
amount of which was however, considerable. The cadet of l’Ile Adam had
a duel with the duke, in which he wounded him. Thus neither Madame de
l’Ile Adam, nor her husband could be in any way reproached. This piece
of chivalry caused her to be gloriously received in all places she
passed through, especially in Piedmont, where the fetes were splendid.
Verses which the poet then composed, such as sonnets, epithalamias,
and odes, have been given in certain collections; but all poetry was
weak in comparison with her, who was, according to an expression of
Monsieur Boccaccio, poetry herself.

The prize in this tourney of fetes and gallantry must be awarded to
the good Emperor of the Romans, who, knowing of the misbehaviour of
the Duke of Ferrara, dispatched an envoy to his old flame, charged
with Latin manuscripts, in which he told her that he loved her so much
for herself, that he was delighted to know that she was happy, but
grieved to know that all her happiness was not derived from him; that
he had lost his right to make her presents, but that, if the king of
France received her coldly, he would think it an honour to acquire a
Villiers to the holy empire, and would give him such principalities as
he might choose from his domains. The fair Imperia replied that she
was extremely obliged to the Emperor, but that had she to suffer
contumely upon contumely in France, she still intended there to finish
her days.


II
HOW THIS MARRIAGE ENDED

Not knowing if it she would be received or not, the lady of l’Ile Adam
would not go to court, but lived in the country, where her husband
made a fine establishment, purchasing the manor of
Beaumont-le-Vicomte, which gave rise to the equivoque upon his name,
made by our well-beloved Rabelais, in his most magnificent book. He
acquired also the domain of Nointel, the forest of Carenelle, St.
Martin, and other places in the neighbourhood of the l’Ile Adam, where
his brother Villiers resided. These said acquisitions made him the most
powerful lord in the l’Ile de France and county of Paris. He built a
wonderful castle near Beaumont, which was afterwards ruined by the
English, and adorned it with the furniture, foreign tapestries, chests,
pictures, statues, and curiosities, of his wife, who was a great
connoisseur, which made this place equal to the most magnificent
castles known.

The happy pair led a life so envied by all, that nothing was talked
about in Paris and at Court but this marriage, the good fortune of the
Sire de Beaumont, and, above all, of the perfect, loyal, gracious, and
religious life of his wife, who from habit many still called Madame
Imperia; who was no longer proud and sharp as steel, but had the
virtues and qualities of a respectable woman, and was an example in
many things to a queen. She was much beloved by the Church on account
of her great religion, for she had never once forgotten God, having,
as she once said, spent much of her time with churchmen, abbots,
bishops, and cardinals, who had sprinkled her well with holy water,
and under the curtains worked her eternal salvation.

The praises sung in honour of this lady had such an effect, that the
king came to Beauvoisis to gaze upon this wonder, and did the sire the
honour to sleep at Beaumont, remained there three days, and had a
royal hunt there with the queen and the whole Court. You may be sure
that he was surprised, as were also the queen, the ladies, and the
Court, at the manners of this superb creature, who was proclaimed a
lady of courtesy and beauty. The king first, then the queen, and
afterwards every individual member of the company, complemented l’Ile
Adam on having chosen such a wife. The modesty of the chatelaine did
more than pride would have accomplished; for she was invited to court,
and everywhere, so imperious was her great heart, so tyrannic her
violent love for her husband. You may be sure that her charms, hidden
under the garments of virtue, were none the less exquisite. The king
gave the vacant post of lieutenant of the Ile de France and provost of
Paris to his ancient ambassador, giving him the title of Viscount of
Beaumont, which established him as governor of the whole province, and
put him on an excellent footing at court. But this was the cause of a
great wound in Madame’s heart, because a wretch, jealous of this
unclouded happiness, asked her, playfully, if Beaumont had ever spoken
to her of his first love, Mademoiselle de Montmorency, who at that
time was twenty-two years of age, as she was sixteen at the time the
marriage took place in Rome--the which young lady loved l’Ile Adam so
much that she remained a maiden, would listen to no proposals of
marriage, and was dying of a broken heart, unable to banish her
perfidious lover from her remembrance and was desirous of entering the
convent of Chelles. Madame Imperia, during the six years of her
marriage, had never heard this name, and was sure from this fact that
she was indeed beloved. You can imagine that this time had been passed
as a single day, that both believed that they had only been married
the evening before, and that each night was as a wedding night, and
that if business took the knight out of doors, he was quite
melancholy, being unwilling ever to have her out of his sight, and she
was the same with him.

The king, who was very partial to the viscount, also made a remark to
him which stung him to the quick, when he said, “You have no
children?”

To which Beaumont replied, with the face of a man whose raw place you
have touched with your finger, “Monsiegneur, my brother has; thus our
line is safe.”

Now it happened that his brother’s two children died suddenly--one
from a fall from his horse at a tournament and the other from illness.
Monsieur l’Ile Adam the elder was so stricken with grief at these two
deaths that he expired soon after, so much did he love his two sons.
By this means the manor of Beaumont, the property at Carenelle, St.
Martin, Nointel, and the surrounding domains, were reunited to the
manor of l’Ile Adam, and the neighbouring forests, and the cadet
became the head of the house. At this time Madame was forty-five, and
was still fit to bear children; but alas! she conceived not. As soon
as she saw the lineage of l’Ile Adam destroyed, she was anxious to
obtain offspring.

Now, as during the seven years which had elapsed she had never once
had the slightest hint of pregnancy, she believed, according to the
statement of a clever physician whom she sent for from Paris, that
this barrenness proceeded from the fact, that both she and her
husband, always more lovers than spouses, allowed pleasure to
interfere with business, and by this means engendering was prevented.
Then she endeavoured to restrain her impetuosity, and to take things
coolly, because the physician had explained to her that in a state of
nature animals never failed to breed, because the females employed
none of those artifices, tricks, and hanky-pankies with which women
accommodate the olives of Poissy, and for this reason they thoroughly
deserved the title of beasts. She promised him no longer to play with
such a serious affair, and to forget all the ingenious devices in
which she had been so fertile. But, alas! although she kept as quiet
as that German woman who lay so still that her husband embraced her to
death, and then went, poor baron, to obtain absolution from the pope,
who delivered his celebrated brief, in which he requested the ladies
of Franconia to be a little more lively, and prevent a repetition of
such a crime. Madame de l’Ile Adam did not conceive, and fell into a
state of great melancholy.

Then she began to notice how thoughtful had become her husband, l’Ile
Adam, whom she watched when he thought she was not looking, and who
wept that he had no fruit of his great love. Soon this pair mingled
their tears, for everything was common to the two in this fine
household, and as they never left the other, the thought of the one
was necessarily the thought of the other. When Madame beheld a poor
person’s child she nearly died of grief, and it took her a whole day
to recover. Seeing this great sorrow, l’Ile Adam ordered all children
to be kept out of his wife’s sight, and said soothing things to her,
such as that children often turned out badly; to which she replied,
that a child made by those who loved so passionately would be the
finest child in the world. He told her that her sons might perish,
like those of his poor brother; to which she replied, that she would
not let them stir further from her petticoats than a hen allows her
chickens. In fact, she had an answer for everything.

Madame caused a woman to be sent for who dealt in magic, and who was
supposed to be learned in these mysteries, who told her that she had
often seen women unable to conceive in spite of every effort, but yet
they had succeeded by studying the manners and customs of animals.
Madame took the beasts of the fields for her preceptors, but she did
not increase in size; her flesh still remained firm and white as
marble. She returned to the physical science of the master doctors of
Paris, and sent for a celebrated Arabian physician, who had just
arrived in France with a new science. Then this savant, brought up in
the school of one Sieur Averroes, entered into certain medical
details, and declared that the loose life she had formerly led had for
ever ruined her chance of obtaining offspring. The physical reasons
which he assigned were so contrary to the teaching of the holy books
which establish the majesty of man, made in the image of his creator,
and so contrary to the system upheld by sound sense and good doctrine,
that the doctors of Paris laughed them to scorn. The Arabian physician
left the school where his master, the Sieur Averroes, was unknown.

The doctors told Madame, who had come to Paris, that she was to keep
on as usual, since she had had during her gay life the lovely
Theodora, by the cardinal of Ragusa, and that the right of having
children remained with women as long as their blood circulated, and
all that she had to do was to multiply the chances of conception. This
advice appeared to her so good that she multiplied her victories, but
it was only multiplying her defeats, since she obtained the flowers of
love without its fruits.

The poor afflicted woman wrote then to the pope, who loved her much,
and told him of her sorrows. The good pope replied to her with a
gracious homily, written with his own hand, in which he told her that
when human science and things terrestrial had failed, we should turn
to Heaven and implore the grace of God. Then she determined to go with
naked feet, accompanied by her husband, to Notre Dame de Liesse,
celebrated for her intervention in similar cases, and made a vow to
build a magnificent cathedral in gratitude for the child. But she
bruised and injured her pretty feet, and conceived nothing but a
violent grief, which was so great that some of her lovely tresses fell
off and some turned white.

At last the faculty of making children was taken from her, which
brought on the vapours consequent upon hypochondria, and caused her
skin to turn yellow. She was then forty-nine years of age, and lived
in her castle of l’Ile Adam, where she grew as thin as a leper in a
lazar-house. The poor creature was all the more wretched because l’Ile
Adam was still amorous, and as good as gold to her, who failed in her
duty, because she had formerly been too free with the men, and was
now, according to her own disdainful remark, only a cauldron to cook
chitterlings.

“Ha!” said she, one evening when these thoughts were tormenting her.
“In spite of the Church, in spite of the king, in spite of everything,
Madame de l’Ile Adam is still the wicked Imperia!”

She fell into a violent passion when she saw this handsome gentleman
have everything a man can desire, great wealth, royal favour,
unequalled love, matchless wife, pleasure such as none other could
produce, and yet fail in that which is dearest to the head of the
house--namely, lineage. With this idea in her head, she wished to die,
thinking how good and noble he had been to her, and how much she
failed in her duty in not giving him children, and in being
henceforward unable to do so. She hid her sorrow in the secret
recesses of her heart, and conceived a devotion worthy her great love.
To put into practice this heroic design she became still more amorous,
took extreme care of her charms, and made use of learned precepts to
maintain her bodily perfection, which threw out an incredible lustre.

About this time the Sieur de Montmorency conquered the repulsion his
daughter entertained for marriage, and her alliance with one Sieur de
Chatillon was much talked about. Madame Imperia, who lived only three
leagues distant from Montmorency, one day sent her husband out hunting
in the forests, and set out towards the castle where the young lady
lived. Arrived in the grounds she walked about there, telling a
servant to inform her mistress that a lady had a most important
communication to make to her, and that she had come to request an
audience. Much interested by the account which she received by the
beauty, courtesy, and manners of the unknown lady, Mademoiselle de
Montmorency went in great haste into the gardens, and there met her
rival, whom she did not know.

“My dear,” said the poor woman, weeping to find the young maiden as
beautiful as herself, “I know that they are trying to force you into a
marriage with Monsieur de Chatillon, although you still love Monsieur
de l’Ile Adam. Have confidence in the prophecy that I here make you,
that he whom you have loved, and who only was false to you through a
snare into which an angel might have fallen, will be free from the
burden of his old wife before the leaves fall. Thus the constancy of
your love will have its crown of flowers. Now have the courage to
refuse this marriage they are arranging for you, and you may yet clasp
your first and only love. Pledge me your word to love and cherish
l’Ile Adam, who is the kindest of men; never to cause him a moment’s
anguish, and tell him to reveal to you all the secrets of love
invented by Madame Imperia, because, in practicing them, being young,
you will be easily able to obliterate the remembrance of her from his
mind.”

Mademoiselle de Montmorency was so astonished that she could make no
answer, and let this queen of beauty depart, and believed her to be a
fairy, until a workman told her that the fairy was Madame de l’Ile
Adam. Although the adventure was inexplicable, she told her father
that she would not give her consent to the proposed marriage until
after the autumn, so much is it in the nature of Love to ally itself
with Hope, in spite of the bitter pills which this deceitful and
gracious, companion gives her to swallow like bull’s eyes. During the
months when the grapes are gathered, Imperia would not let l’Ile Adam
leave her, and was so amorous that one would have imagined she wished
to kill him, since l’Ile Adam felt as though he had a fresh bride in
his arms every night. The next morning the good woman requested him to
keep the remembrance of these joys in his heart.

Then, to know what her lover’s real thoughts on the subject were she
said to him, “Poor l’Ile Adam, we were very silly to marry--a lad like
you, with your twenty-three years, and an old woman close to 40.”

He answered her, that his happiness was such that he was the envy of
every one, that at her age her equal did not exist among the younger
women, and that if ever she grew old he would love her wrinkles,
believing that even in the tomb she would be lovely, and her skeleton
lovable.

To these answers, which brought the tears into her eyes, she one
morning answered maliciously, that Mademoiselle de Montmorency was
very lovely and very faithful. This speech forced l’Ile Adam to tell
her that she pained him by telling him of the only wrong he had ever
committed in his life--the breaking of the troth pledged to his first
sweetheart, all love for whom he had since effaced from his heart.
This candid speech made her seize him and clasp him to her heart,
affected at the loyalty of his discourse on a subject from which many
would have shrunk.

“My dear love,” said she, “for a long time past I have been suffering
from a retraction of the heart, which has always since my youth been
dangerous to my life, and in this opinion the Arabian physician
coincides. If I die, I wish you to make the most binding oath a knight
can make, to wed Mademoiselle Montmorency. I am so certain of dying,
that I leave my property to you only on condition that this marriage
takes place.”

Hearing this, l’Ile Adam turned pale, and felt faint at the mere
thought of an eternal separation from his good wife.

“Yes, dear treasure of love,” continued she. “I am punished by God
there where my sins were committed, for the great joys that I feel
dilate my heart, and have, according to the Arabian doctor, weakened
the vessels which in a moment of excitement will burst; but I have
always implored God to take my life at the age in which I now am,
because I would not see my charms marred by the ravages of time.”

This great and noble woman saw then how well she was beloved. This is
how she obtained the greatest sacrifice of love that ever was made
upon this earth. She alone knew what a charm existed in the embraces,
fondlings, and raptures of the conjugal bed, which were such that poor
l’Ile Adam would rather have died than allow himself to be deprived of
the amorous delicacies she knew so well how to prepare. At this
confession made by her that, in the excitement of love her heart would
burst, the chevalier cast himself at her knees, and declared that to
preserve her life he would never ask her for love, but would live
contented to see her only at his side, happy at being able to touch
but the hem of her garment.

She replied, bursting into tears, “that she would rather die than lose
one iota of his love; that she would die as she had lived, since
luckily she could make a man embrace her when such was her desire
without having to put her request into words.”

Here it must be stated that the cardinal of Ragusa had given her as a
present an article, which this holy joker called _in articulo mortis_.
It was a tiny glass bottle, no bigger than a bean, made at Venice, and
containing a poison so subtle that by breaking it between the teeth
death came instantly and painlessly. He had received it from Signora
Tophana, the celebrated maker of poisons of the town of Rome.

Now this tiny bottle was under the bezel of a ring, preserved from all
objects that could break it by certain plates of gold. Poor Imperia
put it into her mouth several times without being able to make up her
mind to bite it, so much pleasure did she take in the moment that she
believed to be her last. Then she would pass before her in mental
review all her methods of enjoyment before breaking the glass, and
determined that when she felt the most perfect of all joys she would
bite the bottle.

The poor creature departed this life on the night on the first day of
October. Then was there heard a great clamour in the forests and in
the clouds, as if the loves had cried aloud, “The great Noc is dead!”
 in imitation of the pagan gods who, at the coming of the Saviour of
men, fled into the skies, saying, “the great Pan is slain!” A cry
which was heard by some persons navigating the Eubean Sea, and
preserved by a Father of the Church.

Madame Imperia died without being spoiled in shape, so much had God
made her the irreproachable model of a woman. She had, it was said, a
magnificent tint upon her flesh, caused by the proximity of the
flaming wings of Pleasure, who cried and groaned over her corpse. Her
husband mourned for her most bitterly, never suspecting that she had
died to deliver him from a childless wife, for the doctor who embalmed
her said not a word concerning the cause of her death. This great
sacrifice was discovered six years after marriage of l’Ile Adam with
Mademoiselle de Montmorency, because she told him all about the visit
of Madame Imperia. The poor gentleman immediately fell into a state of
great melancholy and finished by dying, being unable to banish the
remembrance of those joys of love which it was beyond the power of a
novice to restore to him; thereby did he prove the truth of that which
was said at that time, that this woman would never die in a heart
where she had once reigned.

This teaches us that virtue is well understood by those who have
practised vice; for among the most modest women few would thus have
sacrificed life, in whatever high state of religion you look for them.



                              EPILOGUE

Oh! mad little one, thou whose business it is to make the house merry,
again hast thou been wallowing, in spite of a thousand prohibitions,
in that slough of melancholy, whence thou hast already fished out
Bertha, and come back with thy tresses dishevelled, like a girl who
has been ill-treated by a regiment of soldiers! Where are thy golden
aiglets and bells, thy filigree flowers of fantastic design? Where
hast thou left thy crimson head-dress, ornamented with precious
gewgaws that cost a minot of pearls?

Why spoil with pernicious tears thy black eyes, so pleasant when
therein sparkles the wit of a tale, that popes pardon thee thy sayings
for the sake of thy merry laughter, feel their souls caught between
the ivory of thy teeth, have their hearts drawn by the rose point of
thy sweet tongue, and would barter the holy slipper for a hundred of
the smiles that hover round thy vermillion lips? Laughing lassie, if
thou wouldst remain always fresh and young, weep no more; think of
riding the brideless fleas, of bridling with the golden clouds thy
chameleon chimeras, of metamorphosing the realities of life into
figures clothed with the rainbow, caparisoned with roseate dreams, and
mantled with wings blue as the eyes of the partridge. By the Body and
the Blood, by the Censer and the Seal, by the Book and the Sword, by
the Rag and the Gold, by the Sound and the Colour, if thou does but
return once into that hovel of elegies where eunuchs find ugly women
for imbecile sultans, I’ll curse thee; I’ll rave at thee; I’ll make
thee fast from roguery and love; I’ll--

Phist! Here she is astride a sunbeam with a volume that is ready to
burst with merry meteors! She plays in their prisms, tearing about so
madly, so wildly, so boldly, so contrary to good sense, so contrary to
good manners, so contrary to everything, that one has to touch her
with long feathers, to follow her siren’s tail in the golden facets
which trifle among the artifices of these new pearls of laughter. Ye
gods! but she is sporting herself in them like a hundred schoolboys in
a hedge full of blackberries, after vespers. To the devil with the
magister! The volume is finished! Out upon work! What ho! my jovial
friends; this way!





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