THE TALES OF
Margaret, Queen of Navarre
Newly Translated into English from the Authentic Text
OF M. LE ROUX DE LINCY WITH
AN ESSAY UPON THE HEPTAMERON
GEORGE SAINTSBURY, M.A.
Also the Original Seventy-three Full Page Engravings
Designed by S. FREUDENBERG
And One Hundred and Fifty Head and Tail Pieces
IN FIVE VOLUMES
VOLUME THE FIFTH
LONDON: PRINTED FOR THE SOCIETY OF ENGLISH BIBLIOPHILISTS
[Margaret, Queen of Navarre, from a crayon drawing by Clouet, preserved at the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris]
CONTENTS OF VOLUME V.
Tale LI. Cruelty of the Duke of Urbino, who, contrary to the promise he had given to the Duchess, hanged a poor lady that had consented to convey letters to his son's sweetheart, the sister of the Abbot of Farse.
Tale LII. Merry trick played by the varlet of an apothecary at Alencon on the Lord de la Tireliere and the lawyer Anthony Bachere, who, thinking to breakfast at his expense, find that they have stolen from him something very different to a loaf of sugar.
Tale LIII. Story of the Lady of Neufchatel, a widow at the Court of Francis I., who, through not admitting that she has plighted her troth to the Lord des Cheriots, plays him an evil trick through the means of the Prince of Belhoste.
Tale LIV. Merry adventure of a serving-woman and a gentleman named Thogas, whereof his wife has no suspicion.
Tale LV. The widow of a merchant of Saragossa, not wishing to lose the value of a horse, the price of which her husband had ordered to be given to the poor, devises the plan of selling the horse for one ducat only, adding, however, to the bargain a cat at ninety-nine.
Tale LVI. Notable deception practised by an old Grey Friar of Padua, who, being charged by a widow to find a husband for her daughter, did, for the sake of getting the dowry, cause her to marry a young Grey Friar, his comrade, whose condition, however, was before long discovered.
Tale LVII. Singular behaviour of an English lord, who is content merely to keep and wear upon his doublet the glove of a lady whom he loves.
Tale LVIII. A lady at the Court of Francis I., wishing to prove that she has no commerce with a certain gentleman who loves her, gives him a pretended tryst and causes him to pass for a thief.
Tale LIX. Story of the same lady, who, learning that her husband is in love with her waiting-woman, contrives to surprise him and impose her own terms upon him.
Tale LX. A man of Paris, thinking his wife to be well and duly deceased, marries again, but at the end of fifteen years is forced to take his first wife back, although she has been living meantime with one of the chanters of Louis XII.
Tale LXI. Great kindness of a husband, who consents to take back his wife twice over, spite of her wanton love for a Canon of Autun.
Tale LXII. How a lady, while telling a story as of another, let her tongue trip in such a way as to show that what she related had happened to herself.
Tale LXIII. How the honourable behaviour of a young lord, who feigns sickness in order to be faithful to his wife, spoils a party in which he was to have made one with the King, and in this way saves the honour of three maidens of Paris.
Tale LXIV. Story of a gentleman of Valencia in Spain, whom a lady drove to such despair that he became a monk, and whom afterwards she strove in vain to win back to herself.
Tale LXV. Merry mistake of a worthy woman, who in the church of St. John of Lyons mistakes a sleeping soldier for one of the statues on a tomb, and sets a lighted candle on his forehead.
Tale LXVI. How an old serving-woman, thinking to surprise a Prothonotary with a lady, finds herself insulting Anthony de Bourbon and his wife Jane d'Albret.
Tale LXVII. How the Sire de Robertval, granting a traitor his life at the prayers of the man's wife, set them both down on a desert island, and how, after the husband's death, the wife was rescued and brought back to La Rochelle.
Tale LXVIII. The wife of an apothecary at Pau, hearing her husband give some powder of cantharides to a woman who was godmother with himself, secretly administered to him such a dose of the same drug that he nearly died.
Tale LXIX. How the wife of one of the King's Equerries surprised her husband muffled in the hood of their servant-maid, and bolting meal in her stead.
Tale LXX. Of the love of a Duchess of Burgundy for a gentleman who rejects her advances, for which reason she accuses him to the Duke her husband, and the latter does not believe his oaths till assured by him that he loves the Lady du Vergier. Then the Duchess, having drawn knowledge of this amour from her husband, addresses to the Lady du Vergier in public, an allusion that causes the death of both lovers; and the Duke, in despair at his own lack of discretion, stabs the Duchess himself.
Tale LXXI. The wife of a saddler of Amboise is saved on her deathbed through a fit of anger at seeing her husband fondle a servant-maid.
Tale LXXII. Kindness of the Duchess of Alencon to a poor nun whom she meets at Lyons, on her way to Rome, there to confess to the Pope how a monk had wronged her, and to obtain his Holiness's pardon.
Appendix (The Narrators of the Heptameron)
PAGE ENGRAVINGS CONTAINED IN VOLUME V.
Tale LI. The Duke of Urbino sending the Maiden to Prison for carrying Messages between his Son and his Sweetheart.
LII. The Gentleman and his Friend annoyed by The Smell of that which they Thought was Sugar.
LIII. The Lord des Cheriots flying from the Prince's Servant.
LIV. The Lady watching the Shadow Faces Kissing.
LV. The Servant selling the Horse with the Cat.
LVI. The Grey Friar introducing his Comrade to the Lady and her Daughter.
LVII. The English Lord seizing the Lady's Glove.
LVIII. The Gentleman Mocked by the Ladies When Returning From The False Tryst.
LIX. The Lady discovering her Husband with the Waiting-woman.
LX. The Chanter of Blois delivering his Mistress from the Grave.
LXI. The Lady returning to her Lover, the Canon of Autun.
LXII. The Gentleman's Spur catching in the Sheet.
LXIII. The King asking the Young Lord to join his Banquet.
LXIV. The Lady Swooning in the Arms of the Gentleman of Valencia who had become a Monk.
LXV. The Old Woman startled by the Waking of the Soldier.
LXVI. The Old Serving-woman explaining her Mistake to the Duke and Duchess of Vendome.
LXVII. The Wife Reading to her Husband on the Desert Island.
LXVIII. The Apothecary's Wife giving the Dose of Cantharides to her Husband.
LXIX. The Wife discovering her Husband in the Hood of their Serving-maid.
LXX. The Gentleman Killing Himself on the Death of his Mistress.
LXXI. The Saddler's Wife Cured by the sight of her Husband Caressing the Serving-maid.
LXXII. The Monk Conversing with the Nun while Shrouding a Dead Body.
On the Sixth Day are related the deceits practised by Man on Woman, Woman on Man, or Woman on Woman, through greed, revenge, and wickedness.
In the morning the Lady Oisille went earlier than was her wont to make ready for her reading in the hall, but the company being advised of this, and eager to hearken to her excellent instruction, used such despatch in dressing themselves that she had not long to wait. Perceiving their fervour, she set about reading them the Epistle of St. John the Evangelist, which is full of naught but love, in the same wise as, on the foregoing days, she had expounded to them St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. The company found this fare so much to their taste, that, although they tarried a half-hour longer than on the other days, it seemed to them as if they had not remained there a quarter of an hour altogether. From thence they proceeded to the contemplation of the mass, when one and all commended themselves to the Holy Ghost in order that they might that day be enabled to satisfy their merry audience; and, after they had broken their fast and taken a little rest, they set out to resume their accustomed diversion.
And the Lady Oisille asking who should begin the day, Longarine made answer—
"I give my vote to Madame Oisille; she has this day read to us so beauteous a lesson, that she can but tell us some story apt to crown the glory which she won this morning."
"I am sorry," said Oisille, "that I cannot tell you aught so profitable this afternoon as I did in the morning. But at least the purport of my story shall not depart from the teaching of Holy Scripture, where it is written, 'Trust not in princes, nor in the sons of men, in whom is not our salvation.' (1) And that this truth may not be forgotten by you for lack of an example, I will tell you a tale which is quite true, and the memory of which is so fresh that the eyes of those that saw the piteous sight are scarcely yet dried."
[The Duke of Urbino sending the Maiden to Prison for carrying Messages between his Son and his Sweetheart]
Because he would not have his son make a poor marriage, the Duke of Urbino, contrary to the promise given to his wife, hanged a young maiden by whom his son was wont to inform his sweetheart of the love he bore her.
The Duke of Urbino, called the Prefect, (1) the same that married the sister of the first Duke of Mantua, had a son of between eighteen and twenty years of age, who was in love with a girl of an excellent and honourable house, sister to the Abbot of Farse. (2) And since, according to the custom of the country, he was not free to converse with her as he wished, he obtained the aid of a gentleman in his service, who was in love with a very beautiful and virtuous young damsel in the service of his mother. By means of this damsel he informed his sweetheart of the deep affection that he bore her; and the poor girl, thinking no harm, took pleasure in doing him service, believing his purpose to be so good and virtuous that she might honourably be the carrier of his intentions. But the Duke, who had more regard for the profit of his house than for any virtuous affection, was in such great fear lest these dealings should lead his son (3) into marriage, that he caused a strict watch to be kept; whereupon he was informed that the poor damsel had been concerned in carrying some letters from his son to the lady he loved. On hearing this he was in great wrath, and resolved to take the matter in hand.
1 This is Francesco Maria I., della Rovere, nephew to Pope Julius II., by whom he was created Prefect of Rome. Brought up at the French Court, he became one of the great captains of the period, especially distinguishing himself in the command of the Venetian forces during the earlier part of his career. He married Leonora Ypolita Gonzaga, daughter of Francesco II., fourth Marquis of Mantua, respecting whom see ante, vol. iii., notes to Tale XIX. It was Leonora rather than her husband who imparted lustre to the Court of Urbino at this period by encouraging arts and letters. Among those who flourished there were Raffaelle and Baldassare Castiglione. Francesco Maria, born in March 1491, died in 1538 from the effects—so it is asserted by several contemporary writers—of a poisonous lotion which a Mantuan barber had dropped into his ear. His wife, who bore him two sons (see post, note 3), died at the age of 72, in 1570.—L. and Ed.
2 The French words are Abbe de Farse. Farse would appear to be a locality, as abbots were then usually designated by the names of their monasteries; still it may be intended for the Abbot's surname, and some commentators, adopting this view, have suggested that the proper reading would be Farnese.—Ed.
3 The Duke's two sons were Federigo, born in March 1511, and Guidobaldo, born in April 1514. The former according to all authorities died when "young," and probably long before reaching man's estate. Dennistoun, in his searching Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino (London, 1851), clearly shows that for many years prior to Francesco Maria's death his second son Guidobaldo was the only child remaining to him. Already in 1534, when but twenty years old, Guidobaldo was regarded as his father's sole heir and successor. In that year Francesco Maria forced the young man to marry Giulia Varana, a child of eleven, in order that he might lay claim to her father's state of Camerino and annex it to the duchy. There is no record of Guidobaldo having ever engaged in any such intrigue as related by Queen Margaret in the above tale, still it must be to him that she refers, everything pointing to the conclusion that his brother Federigo died in childhood. Guidobaldo became Duke of Urbino on his father's death.—Ed.
He could not, however, conceal his anger so well that the maiden was not advised of it, and knowing his wickedness, which was in her eyes as great as his conscience was small, she felt a wondrous dread. Going therefore to the Duchess, she craved leave to retire somewhere out of the Duke's sight until his passion should be past; but her mistress replied that, before giving her leave to do so, she would try to find out her husband's will in the matter.
Very soon, however, the Duchess heard the Duke's evil words concerning the affair, and, knowing his temper, she not only gave the maiden leave, but advised her to retire into a convent until the storm was over. This she did as secretly as she could, yet not so stealthily but that the Duke was advised of it. Thereupon, with pretended cheerfulness of countenance, he asked his wife where the maiden was, and she, believing him to be well aware of the truth, confessed it to him. He feigned to be vexed thereat, saying that the girl had no need to behave in that fashion, and that for his part he desired her no harm. And he requested his wife to cause her to come back again, since it was by no means well to have such matters noised abroad.
The Duchess replied that, if the poor girl was so unfortunate as to have lost his favour, it were better for a time that she should not come into his presence; however, he would not hearken to her reasonings, but commanded her to bid the maiden return.
The Duchess failed not to make the Duke's will known to the maiden; but the latter, who could not but feel afraid, entreated her mistress that she might not be compelled to run this risk, saying that she knew the Duke was not so ready to forgive her as he feigned to be. Nevertheless, the Duchess assured her that she should take no hurt, and pledged her own life and honour for her safety.
The girl, who well knew that her mistress loved her, and would not lightly deceive her, trusted in her promise, believing that the Duke would never break a pledge when his wife's honour was its warranty. And accordingly she returned to the Duchess.
As soon as the Duke knew this, he failed not to repair to his wife's apartment. There, as soon as he saw the maiden, he said to his wife, "So such-a-one has returned," and turning to his gentlemen, he commanded them to arrest her and lead her to prison.
At this the poor Duchess, who by the pledging of her word had drawn the maiden from her refuge, was in such despair that, falling upon her knees before her husband, she prayed that for love of herself and of his house he would not do so foul a deed, seeing that it was in obedience to himself that she had drawn the maiden from her place of safety.
But no prayer that she could utter availed to soften his hard heart, or to overcome his stern resolve to be avenged. Without making any reply, he withdrew as speedily as possible, and, foregoing all manner of trial, and forgetting God and the honour of his house, he cruelly caused the hapless maiden to be hanged.
I cannot undertake to recount to you the grief of the Duchess; it was such as beseemed a lady of honour and a tender heart on beholding one, whom she would fain have saved, perish through trust in her own plighted faith. Still less is it possible to describe the deep affliction of the unhappy gentleman, the maiden's lover, who failed not to do all that in him lay to save his sweetheart's life, offering to give his own for hers; but no feeling of pity moved the heart of this Duke, whose only happiness was that of avenging himself on those whom he hated. (4)
4 That Francesco-Maria was a man of a hasty, violent temperament is certain. Much that Guicciardini relates of him was doubtless penned in a spirit of resentment, for during the time the historian lived at Urbino the Duke repeatedly struck him, and on one occasion felled him to the ground, with the sneering remark, "Your business is to confer with pedants." On the other hand, however, there is independent documentary evidence in existence—notably among the Urbino MSS. in the Vatican library—which shows that Francesco-Maria in no wise recoiled from shedding blood. He was yet in his teens when it was reported to him that his sister—the widow of Venanzio of Camerino, killed by Caesar Borgia—had secretly married a certain Giovanni Andrea of Verona and borne him a son. Watching his opportunity, Francesco-Maria set upon the unfortunate Andrea one day in the ducal chamber and then and there killed him, though not without resistance, for Andrea only succumbed after receiving four-and-twenty stabs with his murderer's poignard (Urbino MSS. Vat. No. 904). A few years later, in 1511, Francesco-Maria assassinated the Papal Legate Alidosio, Cardinal Archbishop of Pavia, whom he encountered in the environs of Bologna riding his mule and followed by a hundred light horse. Nevertheless Urbino, with only a small retinue, galloped up to him, plunged a dagger into his stomach and fled before the soldiery could intervene. From these examples it will be seen that, although history has preserved no record of the affair related by Queen Margaret, her narrative may well be a true one.—Ed.
Thus, in spite of every law of honour, was the innocent maiden put to death by this cruel Duke, to the exceeding sorrow of all that knew her.
"See, ladies, what are the effects of wickedness when this is combined with power."
"I had indeed heard," said Longarine, "that the Italians were prone to three especial vices; but I should not have thought that vengeance and cruelty would have gone so far as to deal a cruel death for so slight a cause."
"Longarine," said Saffredent, laughing, "you have told us one of the three vices, but we must also know the other two."
"If you did not know them," she replied, "I would inform you, but I am sure that you know them all."
"From your words," said Saffredent, "it seems that you deem me very vicious."
"Not so," said Longarine, "but you so well know the ugliness of vice that, better than any other, you are able to avoid it."
"Do not be amazed," said Simontault, "at this act of cruelty. Those who have passed through Italy have seen such incredible instances, that this one is in comparison but a trifling peccadillo."
"Ay, truly," said Geburon. "When Rivolta was taken by the French, (5) there was an Italian captain who was esteemed a knightly comrade, but on seeing the dead body of a man who was only his enemy in that being a Guelph he was opposed to the Ghibellines, he tore out his heart, broiled it on the coals and devoured it. And when some asked him how he liked it, he replied that he had never eaten so savoury or dainty a morsel. Not content with this fine deed, he killed the dead man's wife, and tearing out the fruit of her womb, dashed it against a wall. Then he filled the bodies both of husband and wife with oats and made his horses eat from them. Think you that such a man as that would not surely have put to death a girl whom he suspected of offending him?"
5 Rivolta or Rivoli was captured by the French under Louis XII. in 1509. An instance of savagery identical in character with that mentioned by "Geburon" had already occurred at the time of Charles VIII.'s expedition to Naples, when the culprit, a young Italian of good birth, was seized and publicly executed.—Ed.
"It must be acknowledged," said Ennasuite, "that this Duke of Urbino was more afraid that his son might make a poor marriage than desirous of giving him a wife to his liking."
"I think you can have no doubt," replied Simon-tault, "that it is the Italian nature to love unnaturally that which has been created only for nature's service."
"Worse than that," said Hircan, "they make a god of things that are contrary to nature."
"And there," said Longarine, "you have another one of the sins that I meant; for we know that to love money, excepting so far as it be necessary, is idolatry."
Parlamente then said that St. Paul had not forgotten the vices of the Italians, and of all those who believe that they exceed and surpass others in honour, prudence and human reason, and who trust so strongly to this last as to withhold from God the glory that is His due. Wherefore the Almighty, jealous of His honour, renders' those who believe themselves possessed of more understanding than other men, more insensate even than wild the beasts, causing them to show by their unnatural deeds that their sense is reprobate.
Longarine here interrupted Parlamente to say that this was indeed the third sin to which the Italians were prone.
"By my faith," said Nomerfide, "this discourse is very pleasing to me, for, since those that possess the best trained and acutest understandings are punished by being made more witless even than wild beasts, it must follow that such as are humble, and low, and of little reach, like myself, are filled with the wisdom of angels."
"I protest to you," said Oisille, "that I am not far from your opinion, for none is more ignorant than he who thinks he knows."
"I have never seen a mocker," said Geburon, "that was not mocked, a deceiver that was not deceived, or a boaster that was not humbled."
"You remind me," said Simontault, "of a deceit which, had it been of a seemly sort, I would willingly have related."
"Well," said Oisille, "since we are here to utter truth, I give you my vote that you may tell it to us whatsoever its nature may be."
"Since you give place to me," said Simontault, "I will tell it you."
[The Gentleman and his Friend annoyed by The Smell of that which they Thought was Sugar]
An apothecary s man, espying behind him an advocate who was to plague him, and on whom he desired to be revenged, dropped from his sleeve a lump of frozen ordure, wrapped in paper like a sugar-loaf, which a gentleman who was with the advocate picked up and hid in his bosom, and then went to breakfast at a tavern, whence he came forth with all the cost and shame that he had thought to bring upon the poor varlet.
Near the town of Alencon there lived a gentleman called the Lord of La Tireliere, who one morning came from his house to the town afoot, both because the distance was not great and because it was freezing hard. (1) When he had done his business, he sought out a crony of his, an advocate named Anthony Bachere, and, after speaking with him of his affairs, he told him that he should much like to meet with a good breakfast, but at somebody else's expense. While thus discussing, they sat themselves down in front of an apothecary's shop, where there was a varlet who listened to them, and who forthwith resolved to give them their breakfast.
1 The phraseology of this story varies considerably in the different MSS. of the Heptameron. In No. 1520, for instance, the tale begins as follows: "In the town of Alencon, in the time of the last Duke Charles, there was an advocate, a merry companion, fond of breakfasting o' mornings. One day, whilst he sat at his door, he saw pass a gentleman called the Lord of La Tilleriere, who, by reason of the extreme cold, had come on foot from his house to the town in order to attend to certain business there, and in doing so had not forgotten to put on his great robe, lined with fox-skin. And when he saw the advocate, who was much such a man as himself, he told him that he had completed his business, and had nothing further to do, except it were to find a good breakfast. The advocate made answer that they could find breakfasts enough and to spare, provided they had some one to defray the cost, and, taking the other under the arm, he said to him, 'Come, gossip, we may perhaps find some fool who will pay the reckoning for us both.' Now behind them was an apothecary's man, an artful and inventive fellow, whom this advocate was always plaguing," &c.—L.
He went out from his shop into a street whither all repaired on needful occasions, (2) and there found a large lump of ordure standing on end, and so well frozen that it looked like a small loaf of fine sugar. Forthwith he wrapped it in handsome white paper, in the manner he was wont to use for the attraction of customers, and hid it in his sleeve.
2 In olden time, as shown in the Memoires de l'Academie de Troyes, there were in most French towns streets specially set aside for the purpose referred to. At Alencon, in Queen Margaret's time, there was a street called the Rue des Fumiers, as appears from a report dated March 8, 1564 (Archives of the Orne, Series A). Probably it is to this street that she alludes. (Communicated by M. L. Duval, archivist of the department of the Orne).—M.
Afterwards he came and passed in front of the gentleman and the advocate, and, letting the sugar-loaf (3) fall near them, as if by mischance, went into a house whither he had pretended to be carrying it.
The Lord of La Tireliere (4) hastened back with all speed to pick up what he thought to be a sugar-loaf, and just as he had done so the apothecary's man also came back looking and asking for his sugar everywhere.
3 M. Duval, archivist of the Orne, states that La Tireliere, which is situated near St. Germain-du-Corbois, within three miles of Alencon, is an old gentilhommiere or manor-house, surrounded by a moat. It was originally a simple vavassonrie held in fief from the Counts and Dukes of Alencon by the Pantolf and Crouches families, and in the seventeenth century was merged into the marquisate of L'Isle.—M.
4 Sugar was at this period sold by apothecaries, and was a rare and costly luxury. There were loaves of various sizes, but none so large as those of the present time.—M.
The gentleman, thinking that he had cleverly tricked him, then went in haste to a tavern with his crony, to whom he said—
"Our breakfast has been paid for at the cost of that varlet."
When he was come to the tavern he called for good bread, good wine and good meat, for he thought that he had wherewith to pay. But whilst he was eating, as he began to grow warm, his sugar-loaf in its turn began to thaw and melt, and filled the whole room with the smell peculiar to it, whereupon he, who carried it in his bosom, grew wroth with the waiting-woman, and said to her—
"You are the filthiest folks that ever I knew in this town, for either you or your children have strewn all this room with filth."
"By St. Peter!" replied the woman, "there is no filth here unless you have brought it in yourselves."
Thereupon they rose, by reason of the great stench that they smelt, and went up to the fire, where the gentleman drew out of his bosom a handkerchief all dyed with the melted sugar, and on opening his robe, lined with fox-skin, found it to be quite spoiled.
And all that he was able to say to his crony was this—
"The rogue whom we thought to deceive has deceived us instead."
Then they paid their reckoning and went away as vexed as they had been merry on their arrival, when they fancied they had tricked the apothecary's varlet. (5)
5 In MS. 1520, this tale ends in the following manner:— "They were no sooner in the street than they perceived the apothecary's man going about and making inquiry of every one whether they had not seen a loaf of sugar wrapped in paper. They [the advocate and his companion] sought to avoid him, but he called aloud to the advocate, 'If you have my loaf of sugar, sir, I beg that you will give it back to me, for 'tis a double sin to rob a poor servant.' His shouts brought to the spot many people curious to witness the dispute, and the true circumstances of the case were so well proven, that the apothecary's man was as glad to have been robbed as the others were vexed at having committed such a nasty theft. However, they comforted themselves with the hope that they might some day give him tit for tat."—Ed.
"Often, ladies, do we see the like befall those who delight in using such cunning. If the gentleman had not sought to eat at another's expense, he would not have drunk so vile a beverage at his own. It is true, ladies, that my story is not a very clean one, but you gave me license to speak the truth, and I have done so in order to show you that no one is sorry when a deceiver is deceived."
"It is commonly said," replied Hircan, "that words have no stink, yet those for whom they are intended do not easily escape smelling them."
"It is true," said Oisille, "that such words do not stink, but there are others which are spoken of as nasty, and which are of such evil odour that they disgust the soul even more than the body is disgusted when it smells such a sugar-loaf as you described in the tale."
"I pray you," said Hircan, "tell me what words you know of so foul as to sicken both the heart and soul of a virtuous woman."
"It would indeed be seemly," replied Oisille, "that I should tell you words which I counsel no woman to utter."
"By that," said Saffredent, "I quite understand what those terms are. They are such as women desirous of being held discreet do not commonly employ. But I would ask all the ladies present why, when they dare not utter them, they are so ready to laugh at them when they are used in their presence."
Then said Parlamente—
"We do not laugh because we hear such pretty expressions, though it is indeed true that every one is disposed to laugh on seeing anybody stumble or on hearing any one utter an unfitting word, as often happens. The tongue will trip and cause one word to be used for another, even by the discreetest and most excellent speakers. But when you men talk viciously, not from ignorance, but by reason of your own wickedness, I know of no virtuous woman who does not feel a loathing for such speakers, and who would not merely refuse to hearken to them, but even to remain in their company."
"That is very true," responded Geburon. "I have frequently seen women make the sign of the cross on hearing certain words spoken, and cease not in doing so after these words had been uttered a second time."
"But how many times," said Simontault, "have they put on their masks (6) in order to laugh as freely as they pretended to be angry?"
"Yet it were better to do this," said Parlamente, "than to let it be seen that the talk pleased them."
"Then," said Dagoucin, "you praise a lady's hypocrisy no less than her virtue?"
"Virtue would be far better," said Longarine, "but, when it is lacking, recourse must be had to hypocrisy, just as we use our slippers (7) to disguise our littleness. And it is no small matter to be able to conceal our imperfections."
8 Tourets-de-nez. See ante, vol. iii. p. 27, note 5.—Ed.
7 High-heeled slippers or mules were then worn.—B. J.
"By my word," said Hircan, "it were better sometimes to show some slight imperfection than to cover it so closely with the cloak of virtue."
"It is true," said Ennasuitc, "that a borrowed garment brings the borrower as much dishonour when he is constrained to return it as it brought him honour whilst it was being worn, and there is a lady now living who, by being too eager to conceal a small error, fell into a greater."
"I think," said Hircan, "that I know whom you mean; in any case, however, do not pronounce her name."
"Ho! ho!" said Geburon [to Ennasuite], "I give you my vote on condition that when you have related the story you will tell us the names. We will swear never to mention them."
"I promise it," said Knnasuite, "for there is nothing that may not be told in all honour."
[The Lord des Cheriots flying from the Prince's Servant]
By her dissimulation the Lady of Neufchastel caused the Prince of Belhoste to put her to such proof that it turned to her dishonour.
King Francis the First was once at a handsome and pleasant castle, whither he had gone with a small following, both for the purpose of hunting and in order to take some repose. With him in his train was a certain Prince of Belhoste, (1) as worshipful, virtuous, discreet and handsome a Prince as any at Court. The wife he had married did not belong to a family of high rank, yet he loved her as dearly and treated her as well as it were possible for a husband to do, and also trusted in her. And when he was in love with anybody he never concealed it from her, knowing that she had no other will than his own.
1 The Bibliophile Jacob surmises that this personage may be one of the Italian grandees at that period in the service of France, in which case the allusion may be to John Caraccioli, Prince of Melphes, created a marshal of France in 1544. Queen Margaret, however, makes no mention of her Prince being a foreigner. "Belhoste" is of course a fictitious name invented to replace that which the Prince really bore, and admits of so many interpretations that its meaning in the present instance cannot well be determined. From the circumstance, however, that the Prince's wife was of inferior birth to himself, it is not impossible that the personage referred to may be either Charles de Bourbon, Prince of La Roche-sur-Yonne and Duke of Beaupreau, or John VIII., Lord of Crequi, Canaples and Pontdormi, and Prince of Poix. The former, who married Philippa de Montespedon, widow of Rene de Montejan, and a lady of honour to Catherine de' Medici when Dauphiness, took a prominent part in the last wars of Francis I.'s reign, and survived till 1565. The latter, generally known at Court by the name of Canaples, was a gentleman of the chamber and an especial favourite of Francis I. Brantome says of him in his Homines Illustres that he was "a valiant lord and the strongest man of arms that in those days existed in all Christendom, for he broke a lance, no matter its strength, as easily as though it were a mere switch, and few were able to withstand him." In 1525 the Prince of Poix married a Demoiselle d'Acigne or Assigny, of petite noblesse, who in 1532 became a lady of honour to Queen Eleanor. She died in 1558, surviving her husband by three years. See Rouard's rare Notice dun Recueil de Crayons a la Bibliotheque Mejanes d'Aix, Paris, 1863.—Ed.
Now this Prince conceived a deep affection for a widow lady called Madame de Neufchastel, (2) who was reputed the most beautiful woman it were possible to see; and if the Prince of Bel-hoste loved her well, his wife loved her no less, and would often send and bid her to dinner, for she deemed her so discreet and honourable, that, instead of being grieved by her husband's love for her, she rejoiced to see him address his attentions to one so full of honour and virtue.
2 M. Lacroix thinks that this lady may be Jane de Hochberg, only daughter of Philip, sovereign Count of Neufchatel. According to the custom of the time, she was commonly called Madame de Neufchatel, despite her marriage with Louis d'Orleans, Duke of Longueville. She died in 1543, after a lengthy widowhood. We consider the accuracy of M. Lacroix's surmise to be extremely doubtful, for the names of both the men figuring in the story are obviously altered so as to conceal their identity, and it is therefore not likely that Queen Margaret would designate the lady by her real name, and thus publish her shame to the world. The Madame de Neufchatel she speaks of may really have been a Madame de Chateauneuf, Chateauvieux or Maisonneuve; or we may again be in presence of Margaret's lady of honour, the widowed Blanche de Chastillon, nee de Tournon, to whom frequent reference has been made.—Ed.
This affection lasted for a great while, the Prince of Belhoste caring for all the lady's affairs as though they were his own, and his wife doing no less. By reason, however, of her beauty many great lords and gentlemen earnestly sought the lady's favour, some only for love's sake, others for sake of the ring, for, besides being beautiful, she was also very rich.
Among the rest was a young gentleman, called the Lord des Cheriots, (3) who wooed her so ardently that he was never absent from her levee and couchee, and was also with her as much as possible during the day. This did not please the Prince of Belhoste, who thought that a man of such poor estate, and so lacking in grace, did not deserve an honourable and gracious reception, and he often made remonstrances about it to the lady. She, however, being one of Eve's daughters, (4) excused herself by saying that she spoke with every one in general, and that their own affection was the better concealed, since she never spoke more with one than with another.
3 "Des Cheriots" (occasionally Des Cheriotz in the MS.) may be a play upon the name of D'Escars, sometimes written Des Cars. According to La Curne de Ste. Palaye car as well as char signified chariot. The D'Escars dukedom is modern, dating from 1815, and in the time of Francis I. the family was of small estate. Some members of it may well have filled inferior offices about the court, as in 1536 a Demoiselle Suzanne d'Escars married Geoffrey de Pompadour, who was both a prothonotary and cupbearer to Francis I., and lived to become Governor of the Limousin under Charles IX.—M. and Ed.
4 We take this expression from MS. 1520. Ours says, "a daughter of the Duke," which is evidently an error.—L.
Albeit, after some time, this Lord des Cheriots so pressed her that, more through his importunity than through love, she promised to marry him, begging him, however, not to urge her to reveal the marriage until her daughters were wedded. After this the gentleman was wont to go with untroubled conscience to her chamber at whatsoever hour he chose, and none but a waiting-woman and a serving-man had knowledge of the matter.
When the Prince perceived that the gentleman was growing more and more familiar in the house of her whom he so dearly loved, he took it in ill-part, and could not refrain from saying to the lady—
"I have always prized your honour like that of my own sister, and you are aware of the honourable manner in which I have addressed you, and the happiness that I have in loving a lady as discreet and virtuous as yourself; but did I think that another who deserves it not could win by importunity that which I am not willing to crave, contrary to your own desire, this would be unendurable to me, and in the like degree dishonouring to you. I tell you this because you are beautiful and young, and although hitherto of good repute, are now beginning to gain a very evil fame. Even though he be not your equal in birth or fortune, and have less influence, knowledge and address, yet it were better to have married him than to give all men matter for suspicion. I pray you, therefore, tell me whether you are resolved to love him, for I will not have him as fellow of mine. I would rather leave you altogether to him, and put away from me the feelings that I have hitherto borne you."
The poor lady, fearful of losing his affection, thereupon began to weep, and vowed to him that she would rather die than wed the gentleman of whom he had spoken, but (she added) he was so importunate that she could not help his entering her chamber at a time when every one else did so.
"Of such times as those," said the Prince, "I do not speak, for I can go as well as he, and see all what you are doing. But I have been told that he goes after you are in bed, and this I look upon as so extraordinary that, if you should continue in this mode of life without declaring him to be your husband, you will be disgraced more than any woman that ever lived."
She swore to him with all the oaths she could utter that the other was neither her husband nor her lover, but only as importunate a gentleman as there well could be.
"Since he is troublesome to you," said the Prince, "I promise you that I will rid you of him."
"What!" asked the lady. "Would you kill him?"
"No, no," said the Prince, "but I will give him to understood that it is not in such a place as this, not in such a house as the King's, that ladies are to be put to shame. And I swear to you by the faith of the lover that I am, that if, after I have spoken with him, he does not correct himself, I will correct him in such a manner as to make him a warning to others."
So saying he went away, and on leaving the room failed not to meet the Lord des Cheriots on his way in. To him he spoke after the fashion that you have heard, assuring him that the first time he was found there after an hour at which gentlemen might reasonably visit the ladies, he would give him such a fright as he would ever remember. And he added that the lady was of too noble a house to be trifled with after such a fashion.
The gentleman protested that he had never been in the room except in the same manner as the rest, and, if the Prince should find him there, he gave him full leave to do his worst.
One day afterwards, when the gentleman believed the Prince's words to have been forgotten, he went to see his lady in the evening, and remained sufficiently late.
The Prince [that same evening] told his wife that Madame de Neufchastel had a severe cold, upon hearing which the worthy lady begged that he would visit her on behalf of them both, and make excuse for herself, since she could not go by reason of a certain matter that she must needs attend to in her room.
The Prince waited until the King was in bed, and then went to give the lady good-evening, but as he was going up a stairway he met a serving-man coming down, who, on being asked how his mistress did, swore that she was in bed and asleep.
The Prince went down the stairway, but, suspecting that the servant had lied, looked behind and saw him going back again with all speed. He walked about the courtyard in front of the door to see whether the servant would return. A quarter of an hour later he perceived him come down again and look all about to see who was in the courtyard.
Forthwith the Prince was convinced that the Lord des Cheriots was in the lady's chamber, but through fear of himself durst not come down, and he therefore again walked about for a long-while.
At last, observing that the lady's room had a casement which was not at all high up, and which looked upon a little garden, he remembered the proverb which says, "When the door fails the window avails," and he thereupon called a servant of his own, and said to him—
"Go into the garden there behind, and, if you see a gentleman come down from the window, draw your sword as soon as he reaches the ground, clash it against the wall, and cry out, 'Slay! slay!' Be careful, however, that you do not touch him."
The servant went whither his master had sent him, and the Prince walked about until three hours after midnight.
When the Lord des Cheriots heard that the Prince was still in the yard, he resolved to descend by the window, and, having first thrown clown his cloak, he then, by the help of his good friends, leapt into the garden. As soon as the servant saw him, he failed not to make a noise with his sword, at the same time crying, "Slay! slay!" Upon this the poor gentleman, believing it was his [the servant's] master, was in such great fear that, without thinking of his cloak, he fled as quickly as he was able.
He met the archers of the watch, who wondered greatly to see him running in this fashion, but he durst say nothing to them, except to beg them to open him the gate [of the castle], or else to lodge him with themselves until morning. And this, as they had not the keys, they did.
Then the Prince went to bed, and, finding his wife asleep, awoke her saying—
"Guess, my wife, what hour it is.''
"I have not heard the clock strike since I went to bed," she replied.
"It is three hours after midnight," said he.
"If that be so," said his wife, "where have you been all this time? I greatly fear that your health will be the worse for it."
"Sweetheart," said the Prince, "watching will never make me ill when I am engaged in preventing those who try to deceive me from going to sleep."
So saying, he began to laugh so heartily that his wife begged him to tell her of the matter. This he did at length, showing her the wolf's skin (4) which his servant had brought him. After making merry at the expense of the hapless lovers, they went to sleep in gentle tranquillity, while the other two passed the night in torment, fearing and dreading lest the affair should be revealed.
However, the gentleman, knowing right well that he could not use concealment with the Prince, came to him in the morning when he was dressing to beg that he would not expose him, and would give orders for the return of his cloak.
The Prince pretended that he knew nothing of the matter, and put such a face on it that the gentleman was wholly at a loss what to think. But in the end he received a rating that he had not expected, for the Prince assured him that, if ever he went to the lady's room again, he would tell the King of it, and have him banished the Court.
"I pray you, ladies, judge whether it had not been better for this poor lady to have spoken freely to him who did her the honour of loving and esteeming her, instead of leading him by her dissimulation to prove her in a way that brought her so much shame."
"She knew," said Geburon, "that if she confessed the truth she would wholly lose his favour, and this she on no account desired to do."
"It seems to me," said Longarine, "that when she had chosen a husband to her liking, she ought not to have feared the loss of any other man's affection."
"I am sure," said Parlamente, "that if she had dared to reveal her marriage, she would have been quite content with her husband; but she wished to hide it until her daughters were wed, and so she would not abandon so good a means of concealment."
"It was not for that reason," said Saffredent, "but because the ambition of women is so great that they are never satisfied with having only one lover. I have heard that the discreetest of them are glad to have three—one, namely, for honour, one for profit, and one for delight. Each of the three thinks himself loved the best, but the first two are as servants to the last."
"You speak," said Oisille, "of such women as have neither love nor honour."
"Madam," said Saffredent, "there are some of the kind that I describe, whom you reckon among the most honourable in the land."
"You may be sure," said Hircan, "that a crafty woman will be able to live where all others die of hunger."
"And," said Longarine, "when their craftiness is discerned, 'tis death."
"Nay, 'tis life," said Simontault, "for they deem it no small glory to be reputed more crafty than their fellows. And the reputation of 'crafty,' gained thus at their own expense, brings lovers more readily under subjection to them than does their beauty, for one of the greatest delights shared by those who are in love is to conduct the affair slyly."
"You speak," said Ennasuite, "of wanton love, for the honourable has no need of concealment."
"Ah!" said Dagoucin, "I pray you put that thought out of your head. The more precious the drug, the less should it be exposed to the air, because of the perverseness of those who trust only to outward signs. These are not different in the case of honourable and faithful affection than in any other case, so they must none the less be hidden when the love is virtuous than when it is the opposite, if one would avoid the evil opinion of those who cannot believe that a man may love a lady in all honour, and who, being themselves slaves to pleasure, think every one else the same. If we were all of good faith, look and speech would be without concealment, at least toward those who would rather die than take them in an evil sense."
"I protest to you, Dagoucin," said Hircan, "that your philosophy is too deep for any man here to understand or believe. You would have us think that men are angels, or stones, or devils."
"I am well aware," said Dagoucin, "that men are men and subject to every passion, but there are some, nevertheless, who would rather die than that their mistresses should, for their delight, do aught against their consciences."
"To die means a great deal," said Geburon. "I would not believe that of them were it uttered by the lips of the austerest monk alive."
"Nay, I believe," said Hircan, "that there is none but desires the very opposite. But they make pretence of disliking the grapes when these hang too high to be gathered."
"Still," said Nomcrfide, "I am sure that the Prince's wife was very glad to find that her husband was learning to know women."
"I assure you it was not so," said Ennasuite. "She was very sorry on account of the love that she bore the lady."
"I would as soon," said Saffredent, "have the lady who laughed when her husband kissed her maid."
"In sooth," said Ennasuite, "you shall tell us the story. I give place to you."
"Although the story is very short," said Saffredent, "I will still relate it, for I would rather make you laugh than speak myself at length."
[The Lady watching the Shadow Faces Kissing]
Thogas's wife, believing that her husband loved none but herself, was pleased that her serving-woman should amuse him, and laughed when in her presence he kissed the girl before her eyes, and with her knowledge.
Between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Alps, there dwelt a gentleman named Thogas, (1) who had a wife and children, with a very beautiful house, and so much wealth and pleasure at his hand, that there was reason he should live in contentment, had it not been that he was subject to great pain beneath the roots of the hair, in such wise that the doctors advised him to sleep no longer with his wife. She, whose chief thought was for her husband's life and health, readily consented, and caused her bed to be set in another corner of the room directly opposite her husband's, so that they could neither of them put out their heads without seeing each other.
1 We are unable to trace any family named Thogas, which is probably a fictitious appellation. Read backwards with the letter h omitted it forms Sagot, whilst if the syllables be transposed it suggests Guasto, a well-known Basque or Navarrese name.—Ed.
This lady had two serving-women, and often when the lord and his lady were in bed, they would each take some diverting book to read, whilst the serving-women held candles, the younger, that is, for the gentleman, and the other for his wife.
The gentleman, finding that the maid was younger and handsomer than her mistress, took such great pleasure in observing her that he would break off his reading in order to converse with her. His wife could hear this very plainly, but believing that her husband loved none but herself, she was well pleased that her servants should amuse him.
It happened one evening, however, when they had read longer than was their wont, that the lady looked towards her husband's bed where was the young serving-maid holding the candle. Of her she could see nothing but her back, and of her husband nothing at all excepting on the side of the chimney, which jutted out in front of his bed, and the white wall of which was bright with the light from the candle. And upon this wall she could plainly see the shadows both of her husband and of her maid; whether they drew apart, or came near together or laughed, it was all as clear to her as though she had veritably beheld them.
The gentleman, using no precaution since he felt sure that his wife could not see them, kissed her maid, and on the first occasion his wife suffered this to pass without uttering a word. But when she saw that the shadows frequently returned to this fellowship, she feared that there might be some reality beneath it all, and burst into a loud laugh, whereat the shadows were alarmed and separated.
The gentleman then asked his wife why she was laughing so heartily, so that he might have a share in her merriment.
"Husband," she replied, "I am so foolish that I laugh at my own shadow."
Inquire as he might, she would never acknowledge any other reason, but, nevertheless, he thenceforward refrained from kissing such shadow-faces.
"That is the story of which I was reminded when I spoke of the lady who loved her husband's sweetheart."
"By my faith," said Ennasuite, "if my maid had treated me in that fashion, I should have risen and extinguished the candle upon her nose."
"You are indeed terrible," said Hircan, "but it had been well done if your husband and the maid had both turned upon you and beaten you soundly. There should not be so much ado for a kiss; and 'twould have been better if his wife had said nothing about it, and had suffered him to take his pastime, which might perchance have cured his complaint."
"Nay," said Parlamente, "she was afraid that the end of the pastime would make him worse."
"She was not one of those," said Oisille, "against whom our Lord says, 'We have mourned to you and ye have not lamented, we have sung to you and ye have not danced,' (2) for when her husband was ill, she wept, and when he was merry, she laughed. In the same fashion every virtuous woman ought to share the good and evil, the joy and the sadness of her husband, and serve and obey him as the Church does Jesus Christ."
2 "They are like unto children sitting in the market-place, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept."—St. Luke vii. 32.—M.
"Then, ladies," said Parlamente, "our husbands should be to us what Christ is to the Church."
"So are we," said Saffredent, "and, if it were possible, something more; for Christ died but once for His Church, whereas we die daily for our wives."
"Die!" said Longarine. "Methinks that you and the others here present are now worth more crowns than you were worth pence before you were wed."
"And I know why," said Saffredent; "it is because our worth is often tried. Still our shoulders are sensible of having worn the cuirass so long."
"If," said Ennasuite, "you had been obliged to wear harness for a month and lie on the hard ground, you would greatly long to regain the bed of your excellent wife, and wear the cuirass of which you now complain. But it is said that everything can be endured except ease, and that none know what rest is until they have lost it. This foolish woman, who laughed when her husband was merry, was fond of taking her rest under any circumstances."
"I am sure," said Longarine, "that she loved her rest better than her husband, since she took nothing that he did to heart."
"She did take to heart," said Parlamente, "those things which might have been hurtful to his conscience and his health, but she would not dwell upon trifles."
"When you speak of conscience," said Simontault "you make me laugh. 'Tis a thing to which I would have no woman give heed."
"It would be a good thing," said Nomerfide, "if you had a wife like one who, after her husband's death, proved that she loved her money better than her conscience."
"I pray you," said Saffredent, "tell us that tale. I give you my vote."
"I had not intended," said Nomcrfide, "to relate so short a story, but, since it is suited to the occasion, I will do so."
[The Servant selling the Horse with the Cat]
A merchant's widow, whilst carrying out her husband's will, interpreted its purport to the advantage of herself and her children. (1)
In the town of Safagossa there lived a rich merchant, who, finding his death draw nigh, and himself no longer able to retain possession of his goods—-which he had perchance gathered together by evil means—thought that if he made a little present to God, he might thus after his death make part atonement for his sins, just as though God sold His pardon for money. Accordingly, when he had settled matters in respect of his house, he declared it to be his desire that a fine Spanish horse which he possessed should be sold for as much as it would bring, and the money obtained for it be distributed among the poor. And he begged his wife that she would in no wise fail to sell the horse as soon as he was dead, and distribute the money in the manner he had commanded.
1 Whether the incidents here related be true or not, it is probable that this was a story told to Queen Margaret at the time of her journey to Spain in 1525. It will have been observed (ante, pp. 36 and 42) that both the previous tale and this one are introduced into the Heptameron in a semi- apologetic fashion, as though the Queen had not originally intended that her work should include such short, slight anecdotes. However, already at this stage—the fifty-fifth only of the hundred tales which she proposed writing—she probably found fewer materials at her disposal than she had anticipated, and harked back to incidents of her earlier years, which she had at first thought too trifling to record. Still, slight as this story may be, it is not without point. The example set by the wife of the Saragossa merchant has been followed in modern times in more ways than one.—Ed.
When the burial was over and the first tears were shed, the wife, who was no more of a fool than Spanish women are used to be, went to the servant who with herself had heard his master declare his desire, and said to him—
"Methinks I have lost enough in the person of a husband I loved so dearly, without afterwards losing his possessions. Yet would I not disobey his word, but rather better his intention; for the poor man, led astray by the greed of the priests, thought to make a great sacrifice to God in bestowing after his death a sum of money, not a crown of which, as you well know, he would have given in his lifetime to relieve even the sorest need. I have therefore bethought me that we will do what he commanded at his death, and in still better fashion than he himself would have done if had he lived a fortnight longer. But no living person must know aught of the matter."
When she had received the servant's promise to keep it secret, she said to him—
"You will go and sell the horse, and when you are asked, 'How much?' you will reply, 'A ducat.' I have, however, a very fine cat which I also wish to dispose of, and you will sell it with the horse for ninety-nine ducats, so that cat and horse together will bring in the hundred ducats for which my husband wished to sell the horse alone."
The servant readily fulfilled his mistress's command. While he was walking the horse about the market-place, and holding the cat in his arms, a gentleman, who had seen the horse before, and was desirous of possessing it, asked the servant what price he sought.
"A ducat," replied the man.
"I pray you," said the gentleman, "do not mock me."
"I assure you, sir," said the servant, "that it will cost you only a ducat. It is true that the cat must be bought at the same time, and for the cat I must have nine and ninety ducats."
Forthwith, the gentleman, thinking the bargain a reasonable one, paid him one ducat for the horse, and the remainder as was desired of him, and took his goods away.
The servant, on his part, went off with the money, with which his mistress was right well pleased, and she failed not to give the ducat that the horse had brought to the poor Mendicants, (2) as her husband had commanded, and the remainder she kept for the needs of herself and her children. (3)
2 The allusion is not to the ordinary beggars who then, as now, swarmed in Spain, but to the Mendicant friars.—Ed.
3 In Boaistuau's and Gruget's editions of the Heptameron the dialogue following this tale is replaced by matter of their own invention. They did not dare to reproduce Queen Margaret's bold opinions respecting the clergy, the monastic orders, &c., at a time when scores of people, including even Counsellors of Parliament, were being burnt at the stake for heresy.—L. and Ed.
"What think you? Was she not far more prudent than her husband, and did she not think less of her conscience than of the advantage of her household?"
"I think," said Parlamente, "that she did love her husband; but, seeing that most men wander in their wits when at the point of death, and knowing his intentions, she tried to interpret them to her children's advantage. And therein I hold her to have been very prudent."
"What!" said Geburon. "Do you not hold it a great wrong not to carry out the last wishes of departed friends?"
"Assuredly I do," said Parlamente; "that is to say if the testator be in his right mind, and not raving."
"Do you call it raving to give one's goods to the Church and the poor Mendicants?"
"I do not call it raving," said Parlamente, "if a man distribute what God has given into his hands among the poor; but to make alms of another person's goods is, in my opinion, no great wisdom. You will commonly see the greatest usurers build the handsomest and most magnificent chapels imaginable, thinking they may appease God with ten thousand ducats' worth of building for a hundred thousand ducats' worth of robbery, just as though God did not know how to count."
"In sooth," said Oisille, "I have many a time wondered how they can think to appease God for things which He Himself rebuked when He was on earth, such as great buildings, gildings, pictures and paint. If they really understood the passage in which God says to us that the only offering He requires from us is a contrite and humble heart, (4) and the other in which St. Paul says we are the temples of God wherein He desires to dwell, (5) they would be at pains to adorn their consciences while yet alive, and would not wait for the hour when man can do nothing more, whether good or evil, nor (what is worse) charge those who remain on earth to give their alms to folk upon whom, during their lifetime, they did not deign to look. But He who knows the heart cannot be deceived, and will judge them not according to their works, but according to their faith and charity towards Himself."
4 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou will not despise."—Psalm li. 17.—Ed.
5 "For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them," &c.—2 Corinthians vi. 16.—Ed.
"Why is it, then," said Geburon, "that these Grey Friars and Mendicants talk to us at our death of nothing but bestowing great benefits upon their monasteries, assuring us that they will put us into Paradise whether we will or not?"
"How now, Geburon?" said Hircan. "Have you forgotten the wickedness you related to us of the Grey Friars, that you ask how such folk find it possible to lie? I declare to you that I do not think that there can be greater lies than theirs. Those, indeed, who speak on behalf of the whole community are not to be blamed, but there are some among them who forget their vows of poverty in order to satisfy their own greed."
"Methinks, Hircan," said Nomerfide, "you must know some such tale, and if it be worthy of this company, I pray you tell it us."
"I will," said Hircan, "although it irks me to speak of such folk. Methinks they are of the number of those of whom Virgil says to Dante, 'Pass on and heed them not.' (6) Still, to show you that they have not laid aside their passions with their worldly garments, I will tell you of something that once came to pass."
6 Non ragioniam di lor, ma guarda e passa (Dante's Purgatorio, iii. 51). The allusion is to the souls of those who led useless and idle lives on earth, supporting neither the Divinity by the observance of virtue, nor the spirit of evil by the practice of vice. They are thus cast out both from heaven and hell.—Ed.
[The Grey Friar introducing his Comrade to the Lady and her Daughter]
A pious lady had recourse to a Grey Friar for his advice in providing her daughter with a good husband, for whom she proposed making it so profitable a match that the worthy father, hoping to get the money she intended for her son-in- law, married her daughter to a young comrade of his own. The latter came every evening to sup and lie with his wife, and in the morning returned in the garb of a scholar to his convent. But one day while he was chanting mass, his wife perceived him and pointed him out to her mother; who, however, could not believe that it was he until she had pulled off his coif while he was in bed, and from his tonsure learned the whole truth, and the deceit used by her father confessor.
A French lady, whilst sojourning at Padua, was informed that there was a Grey Friar in the Bishop's prison there, and finding that every one spoke jestingly about him, she inquired the reason. She was told that this Grey Friar, who was an old man, had been confessor to a very honourable and pious widow lady, mother of only one daughter, whom she loved so dearly as to be at all pains to amass riches for her, and to find her a good husband. Now, seeing that her daughter was grown up, she was unceasingly anxious to find her a husband who might live with them in peace and quiet, a man, that is, of a good conscience, such as she deemed herself to possess. And since she had heard some foolish preacher say that it were better to do evil by the counsel of theologians than to do well through belief in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, she had recourse to her father confessor, a man already old, a doctor of theology and one who was held to lead a holy life by the whole town, for she felt sure that, with his counsel and good prayers, she could not fail to find peace both for herself and for her daughter. After she had earnestly begged him to choose for her daughter such a husband as he knew a woman that loved God and her honour ought to desire, he replied that first of all it was needful to implore the grace of the Holy Spirit with prayer and fasting, and then, God guiding his judgment, he hoped to find what she required.
So the Friar retired to think over the matter; and whereas he had heard from the lady that she had got five hundred ducats together to give to her daughter's husband, and that she would take upon herself the charge of maintaining both husband and wife with lodgment, furniture and clothes, he bethought himself that he had a young comrade of handsome figure and pleasing countenance, to whom he might give the fair maiden, the house, the furniture, maintenance and food, whilst he himself kept the five hundred ducats to gratify his burning greed. And when he spoke to his comrade of the matter, he found that they were both of one mind upon it.
He therefore returned to the lady and said—"I verily believe that God has sent his angel Raphael to me as he did to Tobit, to enable me to find a perfect husband for your daughter. I have in my house the most honourable gentleman in Italy, who has sometimes seen your daughter and is deeply in love with her. And so to-day, whilst I was at prayer, God sent him to me, and he told me of his desire for the marriage, whereupon, knowing his lineage and kindred and notable descent, I promised him to speak to you on the matter. There is, indeed, one defect in him, of which I alone have knowledge, and it is this. Wishing to save one of his friends whom another man was striving to slay, he drew his sword in order to separate them; but it chanced that his friend slew the other, and thus, although he himself had not dealt a blow, yet inasmuch as he had been present at a murder and had drawn his sword, he became a fugitive from his native town. By the advice of his kinsfolk he came hither in the garb of a scholar, and he dwells here unknown until his kinsfolk shall have ended the matter; and this he hopes will shortly be done. For this reason, then, it would be needful that the marriage should be performed in secret, and that you should suffer him to go in the daytime to the public lectures and return home every evening to sup and sleep."
"Sir," replied the worthy woman, "I look upon what you tell me as of great advantage to myself, for I shall at least have by me what I most desire in the world."
Thereupon the Grey Friar brought his comrade, bravely attired with a crimson satin doublet, and the lady was well pleased with him. And as soon as he was come the betrothal took place, and, immediately after midnight, a mass was said and they were married. Then they went to bed together until daybreak, when the bridegroom told his wife that to escape discovery he must needs return to the college.
After putting on his crimson satin doublet and his long robe, without forgetting his coif of black silk, he bade his wife, who was still in bed, good-bye, promising that he would come every evening to sup with her, but that at dinner they must not wait for him. So he went away and left his wife, who esteemed herself the happiest woman alive to have found so excellent a match. And the young wedded Friar returned to the old father and brought him the five hundred ducats, as had been agreed between them when arranging the marriage.
In the evening he failed not to return and sup with her, who believed him to be her husband, and so well did he make himself liked by her and by his mother-in-law, that they would not have exchanged him for the greatest Prince alive.
This manner of life continued for some time, but God in His kindness takes pity upon those that are deceived without fault of their own, and so in His mercy and goodness it came to pass that one morning the lady and her daughter felt a great desire to go and hear mass at St. Francis, (1) and visit their good father confessor through whose means they deemed themselves so well provided, the one with a son-in-law and the other with a husband.
1 The church of the Grey Friars' monastery, St Francis being their patron.—B. J.
It chanced that they did not find the confessor aforesaid nor any other that they knew, and, while waiting to see whether the father would come, they were pleased to hear high mass, which was just beginning. And whilst the young wife was giving close heed to the divine service and its mystery, she was stricken with astonishment on seeing the Priest turn himself about to pronounce the Dominus vobiscum, for it seemed to her that it was her husband or else his very fellow. She uttered, however, not a word, but waited till he should turn round again, when, looking still more carefully at him, she had no doubt that it was indeed he. Then she twitched her mother, who was deep in contemplation, and said—
"Alas! madam, what is it that I see?"
"What is it?" said her mother.
"That is my husband," she replied, "who is singing mass, or else 'tis one as like him as can be."
"I pray you, my daughter," replied the mother, who had not carefully observed him, "do not take such a thought into your head. It is impossible that men who are so holy should have practised such deceit. You would sin grievously against God if you believed such a thing."
Nevertheless the mother did not cease looking at him, and when it came to the Ite missa est she indeed perceived that no two sons of the same mother were ever so much alike. Yet she was so simple that she would fain have said, "O God, save me from believing what I see." Since her daughter was concerned in the matter, however, she would not suffer it to remain in uncertainty, and resolved to learn the truth.
When evening was come, and the husband (who had perceived nothing of them) was about to return, the mother said to her daughter—
"We shall now, if you are willing, find out the truth concerning your husband. When he is in bed I will go to him, and then, while he is not thinking, you will pluck off his coif from behind, and we shall see whether he be tonsured like the Friar who said mass."
As it was proposed, so was it done. As soon as the wicked husband was in bed, the old lady came and took both his hands as though in sport—her daughter took off his coif, and there he was with his fine tonsure. At this both mother and daughter were as greatly astonished as might be, and forthwith they called their servants to seize him and bind him fast till the morning, nor did any of his excuses or fine speeches avail him aught.
When day was come, the lady sent for her confessor, making as though she had some great secret to tell him, whereupon he came with all speed, and then, reproaching him for the deceit that he had practised on her, she had him seized like the other. Afterwards she sent for the officers of justice, in whose hands she placed them both. It is to be supposed that if the judges were honest men they did not suffer the offence to go unpunished. (2)
2 There is some little resemblance between this tale and the 36th of Morlini's Novello, De monacho qui duxit uxorem.—M.
"From this story, ladies, you will see that those who have taken vows of poverty are not free from the temptation of covetousness, which is the cause of so many ills."
"Nay, of so many blessings," said Saffredent, "for with the five hundred ducats that the old woman would have stored up there was made much good cheer, while the poor maiden, who had been longing for a husband, was thus enabled to have two, and to speak with more knowledge as to the truth of all hierarchies."
"You always hold the falsest opinions," said Oisille, "that ever I knew. You think that all women are of your own temper."
"Not so, madam, with your good leave," said Saffredent. "I would give much that they were as easily satisfied as we are."
"That is a wicked speech," said Oisille, "and there is not one present but knows the contrary, and that what you say is untrue. The story that has just been told proves the ignorance of poor women and the wickedness of those whom we regard as better than the rest of your sex; for neither mother nor daughter would do aught according to their own fancy, but subjected desire to good advice."
"Some women are so difficult," said Longarine, "that they think they ought to have angels instead of men."
"And for that reason," said Simontault, "they often meet with devils, more especially those who, instead of trusting to God's grace, think by their own good sense, or that of others, that they may in this world find some happiness, though this is granted by none save God, from whom alone it can come."
"How now, Simontault!" said Oisille. "I did not think that you knew so much good."
"Madam," said Simontault, "'tis a pity that I have not been proved, for I see that through lack of knowledge you have already judged ill of me. Yet I may well practise a Grey Friar's trade, since a Grey Friar has meddled with mine."
"So you call it your trade," said Parlamente, "to deceive women? Thus out of your mouth are you judged."
"Had I deceived a hundred thousand," said Simontault, "I should yet not have avenged the woes that I have endured for the sake of one alone."
"I know," said Parlamente, "how often you complain of women; yet, for all that, we see you so merry and hearty that it is impossible to believe that you have endured all the woes you speak of. But the 'Compassionless Fair One' (3) replies that—
"'Tis as well to say as much To draw some comfort thence.'"
3 La belle Dame sans mercy, by Alain Chartier.—Ed.
"You quote a truly notable theologian," said Simontault, "one who is not only froward himself, but makes all the ladies so, who have read and followed his teaching."
"Yet his teaching," said Parlamente, "is as profitable for youthful dames as any that I know."
"If it were indeed true," said Simontault, "that the ladies were without compassion, we might as well let our horses rest and our armour grow rusty until the next war, and think of nothing but household affairs. And, I pray you, tell me whether it is an excellence in a lady to have the reputation of being without pity, or charity, or love, or mercy."
"Without charity or love," said Parlamente, "they should not be, but the word 'mercy' sounds so ill among women that they cannot use it without wounding their honour; for properly speaking 'mercy' means to grant a favour sought, and we well know what the favour is that men desire."
"May it please you, madam," said Simontault, "there are some men who are so reasonable that they crave nought but speech."
"You remind me," said Parlamente, "of one who was content with a glove."
"We must know who this easy lover was," said Hircan, "and so this time I give my vote to you."
"It will give me pleasure to tell the tale," said Parlamente, "for it is full of virtue."
[The English Lord seizing the Lady's Glove]
An English lord for seven years loved a lady without ever venturing to let her know of it, until one day, when observing her in a meadow, he lost all colour and control of feature through a sudden throbbing of the heart that came upon him. Then she, showing her compassion, at his request placed her gloved hand upon his heart, whereupon he pressed it so closely, whilst declaring to her the love he had so long borne her, that she withdrew it, leaving in its place her glove. And this glove he afterwards enriched with gems and fastened upon his doublet above his heart, and showed himself so graceful and virtuous a lover that he never sought any more intimate favour of her.
King Louis the Eleventh (1) sent the Lord de Montmorency to England as his ambassador, and so welcome was the latter in that country that the King and all the Princes greatly esteemed and loved him, and even made divers of their private affairs known to him in order to have his counsel upon them.
1 Some of the MS. say Louis XII., but we cannot find that either the eleventh or twelfth Louis sent any Montmorency as ambassador to England. Ripault-Desormeaux states, however, in his history of this famous French family, that William de Montmorency, who, after fighting in Italy under Charles VIII. and Louis XII., became, governor of the Orleanais and chevalier d'honneur to Louise of Savoy was one of the signatories of the treaty concluded with Henry VIII. of England, after the-battle of Pavia in 1525. We know that Louise, as Regent of France, at that time sent John Brinon and John Joachim de Passano as ambassadors to England, and possibly William de Montmorency accompanied them, since Desormeaux expressly states that he guaranteed the loyal observance of the treaty then negotiated. William was the father of Anne, the famous Constable of France, and died May 24, 1531. "Geburon," in the dialogue following the above tale, mentions that he had well known the Montmorency referred to, and speaks of him as of a person dead and gone. It is therefore scarcely likely that Queen Margaret alludes to Francis de Montmorency, Lord of La Rochepot, who was only sent on a mission to England in 1546, and survived her by many years.—L. and Ed.
One day, at a banquet that the King gave to him, he was seated beside a lord (2) of high lineage, who had on his doublet a little glove, such as women wear, fastened with hooks of gold and so adorned upon the finger-seams with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls, that it was indeed a glove of great price.
2 The French word is Millor (Milord) and this is probably one of the earliest instances of its employment to designate a member of the English aristocracy. In such of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles in which English nobles figure, the latter are invariably called seigneurs or chevaliers, and addressed as Monseigneur, Later on, when Brantome wrote, the term un milord anglais had become quite common, and he frequently makes use of it in his various works. English critics have often sneered at modern French writers for employing the expression, but it will be seen from this that they have simply followed a very old tradition.—Ed.
The Lord de Montmorency looked at it so often that the English lord perceived he was minded to inquire why it was so choicely ordered; so, deeming its story to be greatly to his own honour, he thus began—
"I can see that you think it strange I should have so magnificently arrayed a simple glove, and on my part I am still more ready to tell you the reason, for I deem you an honest gentleman and one who knows what manner of passion love is, so that if I did well in the matter you will praise me for it, and if not, make excuse for me, knowing that every honourable heart must obey the behests of love. You must know, then, that I have all my life long loved a lady whom I love still, and shall love even when I am dead, but, as my heart was bolder to fix itself worthily than were my lips to speak, I remained for seven years without venturing to make her any sign, through fear that, if she perceived the truth, I should lose the opportunities I had of often being in her company; and this I dreaded more than death. However, one day, while I was observing her in a meadow, a great throbbing of the heart came upon me, so that I lost all colour and control of feature. Perceiving this, she asked me what the matter was, and I told her that I felt an intolerable pain of the heart. She, believing it to be caused by a different sickness than love, showed herself pitiful towards me, which prompted me to beg her to lay her hand upon my heart and see how it was beating. This, more from charity than from any other affection, she did, and while I held her gloved hand against my heart, it began to beat and strain in such wise, that she felt that I was speaking the truth. Then I pressed her hand to my breast, saying—
"'Alas, madam, receive the heart which would fain break forth from my breast to leap into the hand of her from whom I look for indulgence, life and pity, and which now constrains me to make known to you the love that I have so long concealed, for neither my heart nor I can now control this potent God.'
"When she heard those words, she deemed them very strange. She wished to withdraw her hand, but I held it fast, and the glove remained in her cruel hand's place; and having neither before nor since had any more intimate favour from her, I have fastened this glove upon my heart as the best plaster I could give it. And I have adorned it with the richest rings I have, though the glove itself is wealth that I would not exchange for the kingdom of England, for I deem no happiness on earth so great as to feel it on my breast."
The Lord de Montmorency, who would have rather had a lady's hand than her glove, praised his very honourable behaviour, telling him that he was the truest lover he had ever known, and was worthy of better treatment, since he set so much value upon so slight a thing; though perchance, if he had obtained aught better than the glove, the greatness of his love might have made him die of joy. With this the English lord agreed, not suspecting that the Lord de Montmorency was mocking him. (3)
3 Alluding to this story, Brantome writes as follows in his Dames Galantes: "You have that English Milord in the Hundred Tales of the Queen of Navarre, who wore his mistress's glove at his side, beautifully adorned. I myself have known many gentlemen who, before wearing their silken hose, would beg their ladies and mistresses to try them on and wear them for some eight or ten days, rather more than less, and who would then themselves wear them in extreme veneration and contentment, both of mind and body."— Lalanne's OEuvres de Brantome, vol. ix. p. 309.—L.
"If all men were so honourable as this one, the ladies might well trust them, since the cost would be merely a glove."
"I knew the Lord de Montmorency well," said Geburon, "and I am sure that he would not have cared to fare after the English fashion. Had he been contented with so little, he would not have been so successful in love as he was, for the old song says—
'Of a cowardly lover No good is e'er heard.'"
"You may be sure," said Saffredent, "that the poor lady withdrew her hand with all speed, when she felt the beating of his heart, because she thought that he was about to die, and people say that there is nothing women loathe more than to touch dead bodies." (4)
4 Most of this sentence, deficient in our MS., is taken from MS. No. 1520.—L.
"If you had spent as much time in hospitals as in taverns," said Ennasuite, "you would not speak in that way, for you would have seen women shrouding dead bodies, which men, bold as they are, often fear to touch."
"It is true," said Saffredent, "that there is none upon whom penance has been laid but does the opposite of that wherein he formerly had delight, like a lady I once saw in a notable house, who, to atone for her delight in kissing one she loved, was found at four o'clock in the morning kissing the corpse of a gentleman who had been killed the day before, and whom she had never liked more than any other. Then every one knew that this was a penance for past delights. But as all the good deeds done by women are judged ill by men, I am of opinion that, dead or alive, there should be no kissing except after the fashion that God commands."
"For my part," said Hircan, "I care so little about kissing women, except my own wife, that I will assent to any law you please, yet I pity the young folk whom you deprive of this trifling happiness, thus annulling the command of St. Paul, who bids us kiss in osculo sancto." (5)
5 Romans xvi. 16; 1 Corinthians xvi. 20; 2 Corinthians xiii. 12; I Thessalonians v. 26. Also 1 Peter v. 14.—M.
"If St. Paul had been such a man as you are," said Nomerfide, "we should indeed have required proof of the Spirit of God that spoke in him."
"In the end," said Geburon, "you will doubt Holy Scripture rather than give up one of your petty affectations."
"God forbid," said Oisille, "that we should doubt Holy Scripture, but we put small faith in your lies. There is no woman but knows what her belief should be, namely, never to doubt the Word of God or believe the word of man."
"Yet," said Simontauit, "I believe that there are more men deceived by women than [women] by men. The slenderness of women's love towards us keeps them from believing our truths, whilst our exceeding love towards them makes us trust so completely in their falsehoods, that we are deceived before we suspect such a thing to be possible."
"Methinks," said Parlamente, "you have been hearing some fool complain of being duped by a wanton woman, for your words carry but little weight, and need the support of an example. If, therefore, you know of one, I give you my place that you may tell it to us. I do not say that we are bound to believe you on your mere word, but it will assuredly not make our ears tingle to hear you speak ill of us, since we know what is the truth."
"Well, since it is for me to speak," said Dagoucin, "'tis I who will tell you the tale."
[The Gentleman Mocked by the Ladies When Returning From The False Tryst]
A gentleman, through putting too much trust in the truthfulness of a lady whom he had offended by forsaking her for others just when she was most in love with him, was, by a false tryst, deceived by her, and bemocked by the whole Court.
At the Court of King Francis the First there was a lady (1) of excellent wit, who, by her grace, virtue and pleasantness of speech, had won the hearts of several lovers. With these she right well knew how to pass the time, but without hurt to her honour, conversing with them in such pleasant fashion that they knew not what to think, for those who were the most confident were reduced to despair, whilst those that despaired the most became hopeful. Nevertheless, while fooling most of them, she could not help greatly loving one whom she called her cousin, a name which furnished a pretext for closer fellowship.
1 M. de Lincy surmises that Margaret is referring to herself both here and in the following tale, which concerns the same lady. His only reason for the supposition, however, is that the lady's views on certain love matters are akin to those which the Queen herself professed.—Ed.
However, as there is nothing in this world of firm continuance, their friendship often turned to anger and then was renewed in stronger sort than ever, so that the whole Court could not but be aware of it.
One day the lady, both to let it be seen that she was wholly void of passion, and to vex him, for love of whom she had endured much annoyance, showed him a fairer countenance than ever she had done before. Thereupon the gentleman, who lacked boldness neither in love nor in war, began hotly to press the suit that he many a time previously had addressed to her.
She, pretending to be wholly vanquished by pity, promised to grant his request, and told him that she would with this intent go into her room, which was on a garret floor, where she knew there was nobody. And as soon as he should see that she was gone he was to follow her without fail, for he would find her ready to give proof of the good-will that she bore him.
The gentleman, believing what she said, was exceedingly well pleased, and began to amuse himself with the other ladies until he should see her gone, and might quickly follow her. But she, who lacked naught of woman's craftiness, betook herself to my Lady Margaret, daughter of the King, and to the Duchess of Montpensier, (2) to whom she said—
"I will if you are willing, show you the fairest diversion you have ever seen."
2 The former is Margaret of France, Duchess of Savoy and Berry. Born in June 1523, she died in September 1574.— Queen Margaret was her godmother. When only three years old, she was promised in marriage to Louis of Savoy, eldest son of Duke Charles III., and he dying, she espoused his younger brother, Emmanuel Philibert, in July 1549. Graceful and pretty as a child (see ante, vol. i. p. xlviii.), she became, thanks to the instruction of the famous Michael de l' Hopital, one of the most accomplished women of her time, and Brantome devotes an article to her in his Dames Illustres (Lalanne, v. viii. pp. 328-37). See also Hilarion de Coste's Eloges et Vies des Reines, Princesses, &c., Paris, 1647, vol. ii. p. 278.
The Duchess of Montpensier, also referred to above, is Jacqueline de Longwick (now Longwy), Countess of Bar-sur- Seine, daughter of J. Ch. de Longwick, Lord of Givry, and of Jane, batarde of Angouleme. In 1538 Jacqueline was married to Louis II. de Bourbon, Duke of Montpensier. She gained great influence at the French Court, both under Francis I. and afterwards, and De Thou says of her that she was possessed of great wit and wisdom, far superior to the century in which she lived. She died in August 1561, and was the mother of Francis I., Duke of Montpensier, sometimes called the Dauphin of Auvergne, who fought at Jarnac, Moncontour, Arques, and Ivry, against Henry of Navarre.—L., B. J. and Ed.
They, being by no means enamoured of melancholy, begged that she would tell them what it was.
"You know such a one," she replied, "as worthy a gentleman as lives, and as bold. You are aware how many ill turns he has done me, and that, just when I loved him most, he fell in love with others, and so caused me more grief than I have ever suffered to be seen. Well, God has now afforded me the means of taking revenge upon him.
"I am forthwith going to my own room, which is overhead, and immediately afterwards, if it pleases you to keep watch, you will see him follow me. When he has passed the galleries, and is about to go up the stairs, I pray you come both to the window and help me to cry 'Thief!' You will then see his rage, which, I am sure, will not become him badly, and, even if he does not revile me aloud, I am sure he will none the less do so in his heart."
This plan was not agreed to without laughter, for there was no gentleman that tormented the ladies more than he did, whilst he was so greatly liked and esteemed by all, that for nothing in the world would any one have run the risk of his raillery.
It seemed, moreover, to the two Princesses that they would themselves share in the glory which the other lady looked to win over this gentleman.
Accordingly, as soon as they saw the deviser of the plot go out, they set themselves to observe the gentleman's demeanour. But little time went by before he shifted his quarters, and, as soon as he had passed the door, the ladies went out into the gallery, in order that they might not lose sight of him.
Suspecting nothing, he wrapped his cloak about his neck, so as to hide his face, and went down the stairway to the court, but, seeing some one whom he did not desire to have for witness, he came back by another way, and then went down into the court a second time. The ladies saw everything without being perceived by him, and when he reached the stairway, by which he thought he might safely reach his sweetheart's chamber, they went to the window, whence they immediately perceived the other lady, who began crying out 'Thief!' at the top of her voice; whereupon the two ladies below answered her so loudly that their voices were heard all over the castle.
I leave you to imagine with what vexation the gentleman fled to his lodgings. He was not so well muffled as not to be known by those who were in the mystery, and they often twitted him with it, as did even the lady who had done him this ill turn, saying that she had been well revenged upon him.
It happened, however, that he was so ready with his replies and evasions as to make them believe that he had quite suspected the plan, and had only consented to visit the lady in order to furnish them with some diversion, for, said he, he would not have taken so much trouble for her sake, seeing that his love for her had long since flown. The ladies would not admit the truth of this, so that the point is still in doubt; nevertheless, it is probable that he believed the lady. And since he was so wary and so bold that few men of his age and time could match and none could surpass him (as has been proved by his very brave and knightly death), (3) you must, it seems to me, confess that men of honour love in such wise as to be often duped, by placing too much trust in the truthfulness of the ladies.
3 This naturally brings Bonnivet to mind, though of course the gay, rash admiral was not the only Frenchman of the time who spent his life in making love and waging war.—Ed.
"In good faith," said Ennasuite, "I commend this lady for the trick she played; for when a man is loved by a lady and forsakes her for another, her vengeance cannot be too severe."
"Yes," said Parlamente, "if she is loved by him; but there are some who love men without being certain that they are loved in return, and when they find that their sweethearts love elsewhere, they call them fickle. It therefore happens that discreet women are never deceived by such talk, for they give no heed or belief even to those people who speak truly, lest they should prove to be liars, seeing that the true and the false speak but one tongue."
"If all women were of your opinion," said Simon-tault, "the gentlemen might pack up their prayers at once; but, for all that you and those like you may say, we shall never believe that women are as unbelieving as they are fair. And in this wise we shall live as content as you would fain render us uneasy by your maxims."
"Truly," said Longarine, "knowing as I well do who the lady is that played that fine trick upon the gentleman, it is impossible for me not to believe in any craftiness on her part. Since she did not spare her husband, 'twere fitting she should not spare her lover."
"Her husband, say you?" said Simontault. "You know, then, more than I do, and so, since you wish it, I give you my place that you may tell us your opinion of the matter."
"And since you wish it," said Longarine, "I will do so."
[The Lady discovering her Husband with the Waiting-woman]
This same lady, finding that her husband took it ill that she should have lovers with whom she amused herself without hurt to her honour, kept close watch upon him, and so discovered how pleasantly he addressed himself to one of her waiting-women. This woman she gained upon, made her consent to what her husband solicited, and then surprised him in such error that to atone for it, he was forced to confess that he deserved greater punishment than herself; by which means she was afterwards able to live as her fancy listed.
The lady of your story was wedded to a rich gentleman of high and ancient lineage, and had married him on account of the great affection that they bore to one another.