Droll Stories, Volume 1
Honore de Balzac
Part 4 out of 4
spend the day at La Grenadiere, and the cuckold always found the
priest asleep in his bed. The boatman being well paid, no one knew
anything of these goings on, for the lover journeyed the night before
after night fall, and on the Sunday in the early morning. As soon as
Carandas had verified the arrangement and constant practice of these
gallant diversions, he determined to wait for a day when the lovers
would meet, hungry one for the other, after some accidental
abstinence. This meeting took place very soon, and the curious
hunchback saw the boatman waiting below the square, at the Canal St.
Antoine, for the young priest, who was handsome, blonde, slender, and
well-shaped, like the gallant and cowardly hero of love, so celebrated
by Monsieur Ariosto. Then the mechanician went to find the old dyer,
who always loved his wife and always believed himself the only man who
had a finger in her pie.
"Ah! good evening, old friend," said Carandas to Taschereau; and
Taschereau made him a bow.
Then the mechanician relates to him all the secret festivals of love,
vomits words of peculiar import, and pricks the dyer on all sides.
At length, seeing he was ready to kill both his wife and the priest,
Carandas said to him, "My good neighbour, I had brought back from
Flanders a poisoned sword, which will instantly kill anyone, if it
only make a scratch upon him. Now, directly you shall have merely
touched your wench and her paramour, they will die."
"Let us go and fetch it," said the dyer.
Then the two merchants went in great haste to the house of the
hunchback, to get the sword and rush off to the country.
"But shall we find them in flagrante delicto?" asked Taschereau.
"You will see," said the hunchback, jeering his friend. In fact, the
cuckold had not long to wait to behold the joy of the two lovers.
The sweet wench and her well-beloved were busy trying to catch, in a
certain lake that you probably know, that little bird that sometimes
makes his nest there, and they were laughing and trying, and still
"Ah, my darling!" said she, clasping him, as though she wished to make
an outline of him on her chest, "I love thee so much I should like to
eat thee! Nay, more than that, to have you in my skin, so that you
might never quit me."
"I should like it too," replied the priest, "but as you can't have me
altogether, you must try a little bit at a time."
It was at this moment that the husband entered, he sword unsheathed
and flourished above him. The beautiful Tascherette, who knew her
lord's face well, saw what would be the fate of her well-beloved the
priest. But suddenly she sprang towards the good man, half naked, her
hair streaming over her, beautiful with shame, but more beautiful with
love, and cried to him, "Stay, unhappy man! Wouldst thou kill the
father of thy children?"
Thereupon the good dyer staggered by the paternal majesty of
cuckoldom, and perhaps also by the fire of his wife's eyes, let the
sword fall upon the foot of the hunchback, who had followed him, and
thus killed him.
This teaches us not to be spiteful.
Here endeth the first series of these Tales, a roguish sample of the
works of that merry Muse, born ages ago, in our fair land of Touraine,
the which Muse is a good wench, and knows by heart that fine saying of
her friend Verville, written in _Le Moyen de Parvenir_: It is only
necessary to be bold to obtain favours. Alas! mad little one, get thee
to bed again, sleep; thou art panting from thy journey; perhaps thou
hast been further than the present time. Now dry thy fair naked feet,
stop thine ears, and return to love. If thou dreamest other poesy
interwoven with laughter to conclude these merry inventions, heed not
the foolish clamour and insults of those who, hearing the carol of a
joyous lark of other days, exclaim: Ah, the horrid bird!
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