Droll Stories, Volume 2
Honore de Balzac

Part 2 out of 3

nights. At first, he pursued her with honied words, but he soon knew
by her untroubled air that she was determined to remain virtuous, for
without appearing astonished at his proceedings, or getting angry like
certain other ladies, she replied to him, "My lord, I must inform you
that I do not desire to trouble myself with the love of other persons,
not that I despise the joys which are therein to be experienced (as
supreme they must be, since so many ladies cast into the abyss of love
their homes, their honour, their future, and everything), but from the
love I bear my children. Never would I be the cause of a blush upon
their cheeks, for in this idea will I bring up my daughters--that in
virtue alone is happiness to be found. For, my lord, if the days of
our old age are more numerous than those of our youth, of them must we
think. From those who brought me up I learned to properly estimate
this life, and I know that everything therein is transitory, except
the security of the natural affections. Thus I wish for the esteem of
everyone, and above all that of my husband, who is all the world to
me. Therefore do I desire to appear honest in his sight. I have
finished, and I entreat you to allow me unmolested to attend to my
household affairs, otherwise I will unhesitatingly refer the matter to
my lord and master, who will quit your service."

This brave reply rendered the king's brother more amorous than ever,
and he endeavoured to ensnare this noble woman in order to possess
her, dead or alive, and he never doubted a bit that he would have her
in his clutches, relying upon his dexterity at this kind of sport, the
most joyous of all, in which it is necessary to employ the weapons of
all other kinds of sport, seeing that this sweet game is taken
running, by taking aim, by torchlight, by night, by day, in the town,
in the country, in the woods, by the waterside, in nets, with falcons,
with the lance, with the horn, with the gun, with the decoy bird, in
snares, in the toils, with a bird call, by the scent, on the wing,
with the cornet, in slime, with a bait, with the lime-twig--indeed, by
means of all the snares invented since the banishment of Adam. And
gets killed in various different ways, but generally is overridden.

The artful fellow ceased to mention his desires, but had a post of
honour given to the Lady of Hocquetonville, in the queen's household.
Now, one day that the said Isabella went to Vincennes, to visit the
sick King, and left him master of the Hotel St. Paul, he commanded the
chef to have a delicate and royal supper prepared, and to serve it in
the queen's apartments. Then he sent for his obstinate lady by express
command, and by one of the pages of the household. The Countess
d'Hocquetonville, believing that she was desired by Madame Isabella
for some service appertaining to her post, or invited to some sudden
amusement, hastened to the room. In consequence of the precautions
taken by the disloyal lover, no one had been able to inform the noble
dame of the princess's departure, so she hastened to the splendid
chamber, which, in the Hotel St. Paul, led into the queen's
bedchamber; there she found the Duc d'Orleans alone. Suspecting some
treacherous plot, she went quickly into the other room, found no
queen, but heard the Prince give vent to a hearty laugh.

"I am undone!" said she. Then she endeavoured to run away.

But the good lady-killer had posted about devoted attendants, who,
without knowing what was going on, closed the hotel, barricaded the
doors, and in this mansion, so large that it equalled a fourth of
Paris, the Lady d'Hocquetonville was as in a desert, with no other aid
than that of her patron saint and God. Then, suspecting the truth, the
poor lady trembled from head to foot and fell into a chair; and then
the working of this snare, so cleverly conceived, was, with many a
hearty laugh, revealed to her by her lover. Directly the duke made a
movement to approach her this woman rose and exclaimed, arming herself
first with her tongue, and flashing one thousand maledictions from her

"You will possess me--but dead! Ha! my lord, do not force me to a
struggle which must become known to certain people. I may yet retire,
and the Sire d'Hocquetonville shall be ignorant of the sorrow with
which you have forever tinged my life. Duke, you look too often in the
ladies' faces to find time to study men's, and you do not therefore
know your man. The Sire d'Hocquetonville would let himself be hacked
to pieces in your service, so devoted is he to you, in memory of your
kindness to him, and also because he is partial to you. But as he
loves so does he hate; and I believe him to be the man to bring his
mace down upon your head, to take his revenge, if you but compel me to
utter one cry. Do you desire both my death and your own? But be
assured that, as an honest woman, whatever happens to me, good or
evil, I shall keep no secret. Now, will you let me go?"

The bad fellow began to whistle. Hearing his whistling, the good woman
went suddenly into the queen's chamber, and took from a place known to
her therein, a sharp stiletto. Then, when the duke followed her to
ascertain what this flight meant, "When you pass that line," cried
she, pointing to a board, "I will kill myself."

My lord, without being in the least terrified, took a chair, placed it
at the very edge of the plank in question, and commenced a glowing
description of certain things, hoping to influence the mind of this
brave woman, and work her to that point that her brain, her heart, and
everything should be at his mercy. Then he commenced to say to her, in
that delicate manner to which princes are accustomed, that, in the
first place, virtuous women pay dearly for their virtue, since in
order to gain the uncertain blessings of the future, they lose all the
sweetest joys of the present, because husbands were compelled, from
motives of conjugal policy, not show them all the jewels in the shrine
of love, since the said jewels would so affect their hearts, was so
rapturously delicious, so titillatingly voluptuous, that a woman would
no longer consent to dwell in the cold regions of domestic life; and
he declared this marital abomination to be a great felony, because the
least thing a man could do in recognition of the virtuous life of a
good woman and her great merits, was to overwork himself, to exert, to
exterminate himself, to please her in every way, with fondlings and
kissings and wrestlings, and all the delicacies and sweet
confectionery of love; and that, if she would taste a little of the
seraphic joys of these little ways to her unknown, she would believe
all the other things of life as not worth a straw; and that, if such
were her wish, he would forever be as silent as the grave, and last no
scandal would besmear her virtue. And the lewd fellow, perceiving that
the lady did not stop her ears, commenced to describe to her, after
the fashion of arabesque pictures, which at that time were much
esteemed, the wanton inventions of debauchery. Then did his eyes shoot
flame, his words burn, and his voice ring, and he himself took great
pleasure in calling to mind the various ways of his ladies, naming
them to Madame d'Hocquetonville, and even revealing to her the tricks,
caresses, and amorous ways of Queen Isabella, and he made use of
expression so gracious and so ardently inciting, that, fancying it
caused the lady to relax her hold upon the stiletto a little, he made
as if to approach her. But she, ashamed to be found buried in thought,
gazed proudly at the diabolical leviathan who tempted her, and said to
him, "Fine sir, I thank you. You have caused me to love my husband all
the more, for from your discourse I learn how much he esteems me by
holding me in such respect that he does not dishonour his couch with
the tricks of street-walkers and bad women. I should think myself
forever disgraced, and should be contaminated to all eternity if I put
my foot in these sloughs where go these shameless hussies. A man's
wife is one thing, and his mistress another."

"I will wager," said the duke, smiling, "that, nevertheless, for the
future you spur the Sire d'Hocquetonville to a little sharper pace."

At this the good woman trembled, and cried, "You are a wicked man. Now
I both despise and abominate you! What! unable to rob me of my honour,
you attempt to poison my mind! Ah, my lord, this night's work will
cost you dear--

"If I forget it, a yet,
God will not forget.

"Are not those of verse is yours?"

"Madame," said the duke, turning pale with anger, "I can have you

"Oh no! I can free myself," replied she, brandishing the stiletto.

The rapscallion began to laugh.

"Never mind," said he. "I have a means of plunging you into the
sloughs of three brazen hussies, as you call them."

"Never, while I live."

"Head and heels you shall go in--with your two feet, two hands, two
ivory breasts, and two other things, white as snow--your teeth, your
hair, and everything. You will go of your own accord; you shall enter
into it lasciviously, and in a way to crush your cavalier, as a wild
horse does its rider--stamping, leaping, and snorting. I swear it by
Saint Castud!"

Instantly he whistled for one of his pages. And when the page came, he
secretly ordered him to go and seek the Sire d'Hocquetonville,
Savoisy, Tanneguy, Cypierre, and other members of his band, asking
them to these rooms to supper, not without at the same time inviting
to meet his guests a pretty petticoat or two.

Then he came and sat down in his chair again, ten paces from the lady,
off whom he had not taken his eye while giving his commands to the
page in a whisper.

"Raoul is jealous," said he. "Now let me give you a word of advice. In
this place," he added, pointing to a secret door, "are the oils and
superfine perfumes of the queen; in this other little closet she
performs her ablutions and little feminine offices. I know by much
experience that each one of you gentle creatures has her own special
perfume, by which she is smelt and recognised. So if, as you say,
Raoul is overwhelmingly jealous with the worst of all jealousies, you
will use these fast hussies' scents, because your danger approaches

"Ah, my lord, what do you intend to do?"

"You will know when it is necessary that you should know. I wish you
no harm, and pledge you my honour, as a loyal knight, that I will
almost thoroughly respect you, and be forever silent concerning my
discomfiture. In short, you will know that the Duc d'Orleans has a
good heart, and revenges himself nobly on ladies who treat him with
disdain, by placing in their hands the key of Paradise. Only keep your
ears open to the joyous words that will be handed from mouth to mouth
in the next room, and cough not if you love your children."

Since there was no egress from the royal chamber, and the bars
crossing hardly left room to put one's head through, the good prince
closed the door of the room, certain of keeping the lady a safe
prisoner there, and again impressed upon her the necessity of silence.
Then came the merry blades in great haste, and found a good and
substantial supper smiling at them from the silver plates upon the
table, and the table well arranged and well lighted, loaded with fine
silver cups, and cups full of royal wine. Then said their master to

"Come! Come! to your places my good friends. I was becoming very
weary. Thinking of you, I wished to arrange with you a merry feast
after the ancient method, when the Greeks and Romans said their Pater
noster to Master Priapus, and the learned god called in all countries
Bacchus. The feast will be proper and a right hearty one, since at our
libation there will be present some pretty crows with three beaks, of
which I know from great experience the best one to kiss."

Then all of them recognising their master in all things, took pleasure
in this discourse, except Raoul d'Hocquetonville, who advanced and
said to the prince--

"My lord, I will aid you willingly in any battle but that of the
petticoats, in that of spear and axe, but not of the wine flasks. My
good companions here present have not wives at home, it is otherwise
with me. I have a sweet wife, to whom I owe my company, and an account
of all my deeds and actions."

"Then, since I am a married man I am to blame?" said the duke.

"Ah! my dear master, you are a prince, and can do as you please."

These brave speeches made, as you can imagine, the heart of the lady
prisoner hot and cold.

"Ah! my Raoul," thought she, "thou art a noble man!"

"You are," said the duke, "a man whom I love, and consider more
faithful and praiseworthy than any of my people. The others," said he,
looking at the three lords, "are wicked men. But, Raoul," he
continued, "sit thee down. When the linnets come--they are linnets of
high degree--you can make your way home. S'death! I had treated thee
as a virtuous man, ignorant of the extra-conjugal joys of love, and
had carefully put for thee in that room the queen of raptures--a fair
demon, in whom is concentrated all feminine inventions. I wished that
once in thy life thou, who has never tasted the essence of love, and
dreamed but of war, should know the secret marvels of the gallant
amusement, since it is shameful that one of my followers should serve
a fair lady badly."

Thereupon the Sire d'Hocquetonville sat down to a table in order to
please his prince as far as he could lawfully do so. Then they all
commenced to laugh, joke, and talk about the ladies; and according to
their custom, they related to each other their good fortunes and their
love adventures, sparing no woman except the queen of the house, and
betraying the little habits of each one, to which followed horrible
little confidences, which increased in treachery and lechery as the
contents of the goblets grew less. The duke, gay as a universal
legatee, drew the guests out, telling lies himself to learn the truth
from them; and his companions ate at a trot, drank at a full gallop,
and their tongues rattled away faster than either.

Now, listening to them, and heating his brain with wine, the Sire
d'Hocquetonville unharnessed himself little by little from the
reluctance. In spite of his virtues, he indulged certain desires, and
became soaked in these impurities like a saint who defiles himself
while saying his prayers. Perceiving which, the prince, on the alert
to satisfy his ire and his bile, began to say to him, joking him--

"By Saint Castud, Raoul, we are all tarred with the same brush, all
discreet away from here. Go; we will say nothing to Madame. By heaven!
man, I wish thee to taste of the joys of paradise. There," said he,
tapping the door of the room in which was Madame d'Hocquetonville, "in
there is a lady of the court and a friend of the queen, but the
greatest priestess of Venus that ever was, and her equal is not to be
found in any courtesan, harlot, dancer, doxy, or hussy. She was
engendered at a moment when paradise was radiant with joy, when nature
was procreating, when the planets were whispering vows of love, when
the beasts were frisking and capering, and everything was aglow with
desire. Although the women make an altar of her bed, she is
nevertheless too great a lady to allow herself to be seen, and too
well known to utter any words but the sounds of love. No light will
you need, for her eyes flash fire, and attempt no conversation, since
she speaks only with movements and twistings more rapid than those of
a deer surprised in the forest. Only, my dear Raoul, but so merry a
nag look to your stirrups, sit light in the saddle, since with one
plunge she would hurl thee to the ceiling, if you are not careful. She
burns always, and is always longing for male society. Our poor dead
friend, the young Sire de Giac, met his death through her; she drained
his marrow in one springtime. God's truth! to know such bliss as that
of which she rings the bells and lights the fires, what man would not
forfeit a third of his future happiness? and he who has known her once
would for a second night forfeit without regret eternity."

"But," said Raoul, "in things which should be so much alike, how is it
that there is so great a difference?"

"Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Thereupon the company burst out laughing, and animated by the wine and
a wink from their master, they all commenced relating droll and quaint
conceits, laughing, shouting, and making a great noise. Now, knowing
not that an innocent scholar was there, these jokers, who had drowned
their sense of shame in the wine-cups, said things to make the figures
on the mantel shake, the walls and the ceilings blush; and the duke
surpassed them all, saying, that the lady who was in bed in the next
room awaiting a gallant should be the empress of these warm
imaginations, because she practised them every night. Upon this the
flagons being empty, the duke pushed Raoul, who let himself be pushed
willingly, into the room, and by this means the prince compelled the
lady to deliberate by which dagger she would live or die. At midnight
the Sire d'Hocquetonville came out gleefully, not without remorse at
having been false to his good wife. Then the Duc d'Orleans led Madame
d'Hocquetonville out by a garden door, so that she gained her
residence before her husband arrived here.

"This," said she, in the prince's ear, as she passed the postern,
"will cost us all dear."

One year afterwards, in the old Rue du Temple, Raoul d'Hocquetonville,
who had quitted the service of the Duke for that of Jehan of Burgundy,
gave the king's brother a blow on the head with a club, and killed
him, as everyone knows. In the same year died the Lady
d'Hocquetonville, having faded like a flower deprived of air and eaten
by a worm. Her good husband had engraved upon her marble tomb, which
is in one of the cloisters of Peronne, the following inscription--



This epitaph was written in elegant Latin, but for the convenience of
all it was necessary to translate it, although the word comely is
feeble beside that of formosa, which signifies beautiful in shape. The
Duke of Burgundy, called the Fearless, in whom previous to his death
the Sire d'Hocquetonville confided the troubles cemented with lime and
sand in his heart, used to say, in spite of his hardheartedness in
these matters, that this epitaph plunged him into a state of
melancholy for a month, and that among all the abominations of his
cousin of Orleans, there was one for which he would kill him over
again if the deed had not already been done, because this wicked man
had villianously defaced with vice the most divine virtue in the world
and had prostituted two noble hearts, the one by the other. When
saying this he would think of the lady of Hocquetonville and of his
own, which portrait had been unwarrantably placed in the cabinet where
his cousin placed the likeness of his wenches.

The adventure was so extremely shocking, that when it was related by
the Count de Charolois to the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XI., the
latter would not allow his secretaries to publish it in his
collection, out of respect for his great uncle the Duke d'Orleans, and
for Dunois his old comrade, the son of the same. But the person of the
lady of Hocquetonville is so sublimely virtuous, so exquisitely
melancholy, that in her favour the present publication of this
narrative will be forgiven, in spite of the diabolical invention and
vengeance of Monseigneur d'Orleans. The just death of this rascal
nevertheless caused many serious rebellions, which finally Louis XI.,
losing all patience, put down with fire and sword.

This shows us that there is a woman at the bottom of everything, in
France as elsewhere, and that sooner or later we must pay for our


The Lord of Montcontour was a brave soldier of Tours, who in honour of
the battle gained by the Duke of Anjou, afterwards our right glorious
king, caused to be built at Vouvray the castle thus named, for he had
borne himself most bravely in that affair, where he overcame the
greatest of heretics, and from that was authorised to take the name.
Now this said captain had two sons, good Catholics, of whom the eldest
was in favour at court. After the peace, which was concluded before
the stratagem arranged for St Bartholomew's Day, the good man returned
to his manor, which was not ornamented as it is at the present day.
There he received the sad announcement of the death of his son, slain
in a duel by the lord of Villequier. The poor father was the more cut
up at this, as he had arranged a capital marriage for the said son
with a young lady of the male branch of Amboise. Now, by this death
most piteously inopportune, vanished all the future and advantages of
his family, of which he wished to make a great and noble house. With
this idea, he had put his other son in a monastery, under the guidance
and government of a man renowned for his holiness, who brought him up
in a Christian manner, according to the desire of his father, who
wished from high ambition to make him a cardinal of renown. For this
the good abbot kept the young man in a private house, and had to sleep
by his side in his cell, allowed no evil weeds to grow in his mind,
brought him up in purity of soul and true condition, as all priests
should be. This said clerk, when turned nineteen years, knew no other
love than the love of God, no other nature than that of the angels who
had not our carnal properties, in order that they may live in purity,
seeing that otherwise they would make good use of them. The which the
King on high, who wished to have His pages always proper, was afraid
of. He has done well, because His good little people cannot drink in
dram shops or riot in brothels as ours do. He is divinely served; but
then remember, He is Lord of all. Now in this plight the lord of
Montcontour determined to withdraw his second son from the cloister,
and invest him with the purple of the soldier and courtier, in the
place of the ecclesiastical purple; and determined to give him in
marriage to the maiden, affianced to the dead man, which was wisely
determined because wrapped round with continence and sobriety in all
ways as was the little monk, the bride would be as well used and
happier than she would have been with the elder, already well hauled
over, upset, and spoiled by the ladies of the court. The befrocked,
unfrocked, and very sheepish in his ways, followed the sacred wishes
of his father, and consented to the said marriage without knowing what
a wife, and--what is more curious--what a girl was. By chance, his
journey having been hindered by the troubles and marches of
conflicting parties, this innocent--more innocent than it is lawful
for a man to be innocent--only came to the castle of Montcontour the
evening before the wedding, which was performed with dispensations
bought in by the archbishopric of Tours. It is necessary here to
describe the bride. Her mother, long time a widow, lived in the House
of M. de Braguelongne, civil lieutenant of the Chatelet de Paris,
whose wife lived with lord of Lignieres, to the great scandal of the
period. But everyone then had so many joists in his own eye that he
had no right to notice the rafters in the eyes of others. Now, in all
families people go to perdition, without noticing their neighbours,
some at an amble, others at a gentle trot, many at a gallop, and a
small number walking, seeing that the road is all downhill. Thus in
these times the devil had many a good orgy in all things, since that
misconduct was fashionable. The poor old lady Virtue had retired
trembling, no one knew whither, but now here, now there, lived
miserably in company with honest women.

In the most noble house Amboise there still lived the Dowager of
Chaumont, an old woman of well proved virtue, in whom had retired all
the religion and good conduct of this fine family. The said lady had
taken to her bosom, from the age of ten years, the little maiden who
is concerned in this adventure, and who had never caused Madame
Amboise the least anxiety, but left her free in her movements, and she
came to see her daughter once a year, when the court passed that way.
In spite of this high maternal reserve, Madame Amboise was invited to
her daughter's wedding, and also the lord of Braguelongne, by the good
old soldier, who knew his people. But the dear dowager came not to
Montcontour, because she could not obtain relief from her sciatica,
her cold, nor the state of her legs, which gamboled no longer. Over
this the good woman cried copiously. It hurt her much to let go into
the dangers of the court and of life this gentle maiden, as pretty as
it was possible for a pretty girl to be, but she was obliged to give
her her wings. But it was not without promising her many masses and
orisons every evening for her happiness. And comforted a little, the
good old lady began to think that the staff of her old age was passing
into the hands of a quasi-saint, brought up to do good by the
above-mentioned abbot, with whom she was acquainted, the which had
aided considerably in the prompt exchange of spouses. At length,
embracing her with tears, the virtuous dowager made those last
recommendations to her that ladies make to young brides, as that she
ought to be respectful to his mother, and obey her husband in

Then the maid arrived with a great noise, conducted by servants,
chamberlains, grooms, gentlemen, and people of the house of Chaumont,
so that you would have imagined her suite to be that of a cardinal
legate. So arrived the two spouses the evening before marriage. Then,
the feasting over, they were married with great pomp on the Lord's
Day, a mass being said at the castle by the Bishop of Blois, who was a
great friend of the lord of Montcontour; in short, the feasting, the
dancing, and the festivities of all sorts lasted till the morning. But
on the stroke of midnight the bridesmaids went to put the bride to
bed, according to the custom of Touraine; and during this time they
kept quarrelling with the innocent husband, to prevent him going to
this innocent wife, who sided with them from ignorance. However, the
good lord of Montcontour interrupted the jokers and the wits, because
it was necessary that his son should occupy himself in well-doing.
Then went the innocent into the chamber of his wife, whom he thought
more beautiful than the Virgin Mary painted in Italian, Flemish, and
other pictures, at whose feet he had said his prayers. But you may be
sure he felt very much embarrassed at having so soon become a husband,
because he knew nothing of his business, and saw that certain forms
had to be gone through concerning which from great and modest reserve,
he had no time to question even his father, who had said sharply to

"You know what you have to do; be valiant therein."

Then he saw the gentle girl who was given him, comfortably tucked up
in the bedclothes, terribly curious, her head buried under, but
hazarding a glance as at the point of a halberd, and saying to

"I must obey him."

And knowing nothing, she awaited the will of this slightly
ecclesiastical gentleman, to whom, in fact, she belonged. Seeing
which, the Chevalier de Montcontour came close to the bed, scratched
his ear, and knelt down, a thing in which he was expert.

"Have you said your prayers?" said he.

"No," said she; "I have forgotten them. Do wish me to say them?"

Then the young couple commenced the business of a housekeeping by
imploring God, which was not at all out of place. But unfortunately
the devil heard, and at once replied to their requests, God being much
occupied at that time with the new and abominable reformed religion.

"What did they tell you to do?" said the husband.

"To love you," said she, in perfect innocence.

"This has not been told to me; but I love you, I am ashamed to say,
better than I love God."

This speech did not alarm the bride.

"I should like," said the husband, "to repose myself in your bed, if
it will not disturb you."

"I will make room for you willingly because I am to submit myself to

"Well," said he, "don't look at me again. I'm going to take my clothes
off, and come."

At this virtuous speech, the young damsel turned herself towards the
wall in great expectation, seeing that it was for the very first time
that she was about to find herself separated from a man by the
confines of a shirt only. Then came the innocent, gliding into bed,
and thus they found themselves, so to speak, united, but far from what
you can imagine what. Did you ever see a monkey brought from across
the seas, who for the first time is given a nut to crack? This ape,
knowing by high apish imagination how delicious is the food hidden
under the shell, sniffs and twists himself about in a thousand apish
ways, saying, I know not what, between his chattering jaws. Ah! with
what affection he studies it, with what study he examines it, in what
examination he holds it, then throws it, rolls and tosses it about
with passion, and often, when it is an ape of low extraction and
intelligence, leaves the nut. As much did the poor innocent who,
towards the dawn, was obliged to confess to his dear wife that, not
knowing how to perform his office, or what that office was, or where
to obtain the said office, it would be necessary for him to inquire
concerning it, and have help and aid.

"Yes," said she; "since, unhappily, I cannot instruct you."

In fact, in spite of their efforts, essay of all kinds--in spite of a
thousand things which the innocents invent, and which the wise in
matters of love know nothing about--the pair dropped off to sleep,
wretched at having been unable to discover the secret of marriage. But
they wisely agreed to say that they had done so. When the wife got up,
still a maiden, seeing that she had not been crowned, she boasted of
her night, and said she had the king of husbands, and went on with her
chattering and repartee as briskly as those who know nothing of these
things. Then everyone found the maiden a little too sharp, since for a
two-edged joke a lady of Roche-Corbon having incited a young maiden,
de la Bourdaisiere, who knew nothing of such things, to ask the

"How many loaves did your husband put in the oven?"

"Twenty-four," she replied.

Now, as the bridegroom was roaming sadly about, thereby distressing
his wife, who followed him with her eyes, hoping to see his state of
innocence come to an end, the ladies believed that the joy of that
night had cost him dear, and that the said bride was already
regretting having so quickly ruined him. And at breakfast came the bad
jokes, which at that time were relished as excellent, one said that
the bride had an open expression; another, that there had been some
good strokes of business done that night in the castle; this one, that
the oven had been burned; that one that the two families have lost
something that night that they would never find again. And a thousand
other jokes, stupidities, and double meanings that, unfortunately the
husband did not understand. But on account of the great affluence of
the relations, neighbours, and others, no one had been to bed; all had
danced, rollicked, and frolicked, as is the custom at noble weddings.

At this was quite contented my said Sieur de Braguelongne, upon whom
my lady of Amboise, excited by the thought of the good things which
were happening to her daughter, cast the glances of a falcon in
matters of gallant assignation. The poor Lieutenant civil, learned in
bailiffs' men and sergeants, and who nabbed all the pickpockets and
scamps of Paris, pretended not to see his good fortune, although his
good lady required him to do. You may be sure this great lady's love
weighed heavily upon him, so he only kept to her from a spirit of
justice, because it was not seeming in a lieutenant judiciary to
change his mistresses as often as a man at court, because he had under
his charge morals, the police and religion. This not withstanding his
rebellion must come to an end. On the day after the wedding a great
number of the guests departed; then Madame d'Amboise and Monsieur de
Braguelongne could go to bed, their guests having decamped. Sitting
down to supper, the lieutenant received a half-verbal summons to which
it was not becoming, as in legal matters, to oppose any reasons for

During supper the said lady d'Amboise made more than a hundred little
signs in order to draw the good Braguelongne from the room where he
was with the bride, but out came instead of the lieutenant the
husband, to walk about in company with the mother of his sweet wife.
Now, in the mind of this innocent there had sprung up like a mushroom
an expedient--namely, to interrogate this good lady, whom he
considered discreet, for remembering the religious precepts of his
abbot, who had told him to inquire concerning all things of old people
expert in the ways of life, he thought of confiding his case to the
said lady d'Amboise. But he made first awkwardly and shyly certain
twists and turns, finding no terms in which to unfold his case. And
the lady was also perfectly silent, since she was outrageously struck
with the blindness, deafness and voluntary paralysis of the lord of
Braguelongne; and said to herself, walking by the side of this
delicate morsel, a young innocent of whom she did not think, little
imagining that this cat so well provided with young bacon could think
of old--

"This Ho, Ho, with a beard of flies' legs, a flimsy, old, grey,
ruined, shaggy beard--beard without comprehension, beard without
shame, without any feminine respect--beard which pretends neither to
feel nor to hear, nor to see, a pared away beard, a beaten down,
disordered, gutted beard. May the Italian sickness deliver me from
this vile joker with a squashed nose, fiery nose, frozen nose, nose
without religion, nose dry as a lute table, pale nose, nose without a
soul, nose which is nothing but a shadow; nose which sees not, nose
wrinkled like the leaf of a vine; nose that I hate, old nose, nose
full of mud--dead nose. Where had my eyes been to attach myself to
truffle nose, to this old hulk that no longer knows his way? I give my
share to the devil of this juiceless beard, of this grey beard, of
this monkey face, of these old tatters, of this old rag of a man, of
this--I know not what; and I'll take a young husband who'll marry me
properly, and . . . and often--every day--and well--"

In this wise train of thought was she when the innocent began his
anthem to this woman, so warmly excited, who at the first paraphrase
took fire in her understanding, like a piece of old touchwood from the
carbine of a soldier; and finding it wise to try her son-in-law, said
to herself--

"Ah! young beard, sweet scented! Ah! pretty new nose--fresh beard
--innocent nose--virgin appeared--nose full of joy it--beard of
springtime, small key of love!"

She kept on talking the round of the garden, which was long, and then
arranged with the Innocent that, night come, he should sally forth
from his room and get into hers, where she engaged to render him more
learned than ever was his father. And the husband was well content,
and thanked Madame d'Amboise, begging her to say nothing of this

During this time the good old Braguelongne had been growling and
saying to himself, "Old ha, ha! old ho, ho! May the plague take thee!
may a cancer eat thee!--worthless old currycomb! old slipper, too big
for the foot! old arquebus! ten year old codfish! old spider that
spins no more! old death with open eyes! old devil's cradle! vile
lantern of an old town-crier too! Old wretch whose look kills! old
moustache of an old theriacler! old wretch to make dead men weep! old
organ-pedal! old sheath with a hundred knives! old church porch, worn
out by the knees! old poor-box in which everyone has dropped. I'll
give all my future to be quit of thee!" As he finished these gentle
thoughts the pretty bride, who was thinking of her young husband's
great sorrow at not knowing the particulars of that essential item of
marriage, and not having the slightest idea what it was, thought to
save him much tribulation, shame, and labour by instructing herself.
And she counted upon much astonishing and rejoicing him the next night
when she should say to him, teaching him his duty, "That's the thing
my love!" Brought up in great respect of old people by her dear
dowager, she thought of inquiring of this good man in her sweetest
manner to distil for her the sweet mysteries of the commerce. Now, the
lord of Braguelongne, ashamed of being lost in sad contemplation of
this evening's work, and of saying nothing to his gay companion, put
this summary interrogation to the fair bride--"If she was not happy
with so good a young husband--"

"He is very good," said she.

"Too good, perhaps," said the lieutenant smiling.

To be brief, matters were so well arranged between them that the Lord
engaged to spare no pains to enlighten the understanding of Madame
d'Amboise's daughter-in-law, who promised to come and study her lesson
in his room. The said lady d'Amboise pretended after supper to play
terrible music in a high key to Monsieur Braguelongne saying that he
had no gratitude for the blessings she had brought him--her position,
her wealth, her fidelity, etc. In fact, she talked for half an hour
without having exhausted a quarter of her ire. From this a hundred
knives were drawn between them, but they kept the sheaths. Meanwhile
the spouses in bed were arranging to themselves how to get away, in
order to please each other. Then the innocent began to say he fell
quite giddy, he knew not from what, and wanted to go into the open
air. And his maiden wife told him to take a stroll in the moonlight.
And then the good fellow began to pity his wife in being left alone a
moment. At her desire, both of them at different times left their
conjugal couch and came to their preceptors, both very impatient, as
you can well believe; and good instruction was given to them. How? I
cannot say, because everyone has his own method and practice, and of
all sciences this is the most variable in principle. You may be sure
that never did scholars receive more gayly the precepts of any
language, grammar, or lessons whatsoever. And the two spouses returned
to their nest, delighted at being able to communicate to each other
the discoveries of their scientific peregrinations.

"Ah, my dear," said the bride, "you already know more than my master."

From these curious tests came their domestic joy and perfect fidelity;
because immediately after their entry into the married state they
found out how much better each of them was adapted for love than
anyone else, their masters included. Thus for the remainder of their
days they kept to the legitimate substance of their own persons; and
the lord of Montcontour said in old age to his friends--

"Do like me, be cuckolds in the blade, and not in the sheath."

Which is the true morality of the conjugal condition.


In that winter when commenced that first taking up of arms by those of
the religion, which was called the Riot of Amboise, an advocate, named
Avenelles, lent his house, situated in the Rue des Marmousets for the
interviews and conventions of the Huguenots, being one of them,
without knowing, however, that the Prince of Conde, La Regnaudie, and
others, intended to carry off the king.

The said Avenelles wore a nasty red beard, as shiny as a stick of
liquorice, and was devilishly pale, as are all the rogues who take
refuge in the darkness of the law; in short, the most evil-minded
advocate that has ever lived, laughing at the gallows, selling
everybody, and a true Judas. According to certain authors of a great
experience in subtle rogues he was in this affair, half knave, half
fool, as it is abundantly proved by this narrative. This procureur had
married a very lovely lady of Paris, of whom he was jealous enough to
kill her for a pleat in the sheets, for which she could not account,
which would have been wrong, because honest creases are often met
with. But she folded her clothes very well, so there's the end of the
matter. Be assured that, knowing the murderous and evil nature of this
man, his wife was faithful enough to him, always ready, like a
candlestick, arranged for her duty like a chest which never moves, and
opens to order. Nevertheless, the advocate had placed her under the
guardianship and pursuing eye of an old servant, a duenna as ugly as a
pot without a handle, who had brought up the Sieur Avenelles, and was
very fond of him. His poor wife, for all pleasure in her cold domestic
life, used to go to the Church of St. Jehan, on the Place de Greve,
where, as everyone knows, the fashionable world was accustomed to
meet; and while saying her paternosters to God she feasted her eyes
upon all these gallants, curled, adorned, and starched, young, comely,
and flitting about like true butterflies, and finished by picking out
from among the lot a good gentleman, lover of the queen-mother, and a
handsome Italian, with whom she was smitten because he was in the May
of his age, nobly dressed, a graceful mover, brave in mien, and was
all that a lover should be to bestow a heart full of love upon an
honest married woman too tightly squeezed by the bonds of matrimony,
which torment her, and always excite her to unharness herself from the
conjugal yoke. And you can imagine that the young gentleman grew to
admire Madame, whose silent love spoke secretly to him, without either
the devil or themselves knowing how. Both one and the other had their
correspondence of love. At first, the advocate's wife adorned herself
only to come to church, and always came in some new sumptuosity; and
instead of thinking of God, she made God angry by thinking of her
handsome gentleman, and leaving her prayers, she gave herself up to
the fire which consumed her heart, and moistened her eyes, her lips,
and everything, seeing that this fire always dissolves itself in
water; and often said to herself: "Ha! I would give my life for a
single embrace with this pretty lover who loves me." Often, too, in
place of saying her litanies to Madame the Virgin, she thought in her
heart: "To feel the glorious youth of this gentle lover, to have the
full joys of love, to taste all in one moment, little should I mind
the flames into which the heretics are thrown." Then the gentleman
gazing at the charms of this good wife, and her burning blushes when
he glanced at her, came always close to her stool, and addressed to
her those requests which the ladies understand so well. Then he said
aside to himself: "By the double horn on my father, I swear to have
the woman, though it cost me my life."

And when the duenna turned her head, the two lovers squeezed, pressed,
breathed, ate, devoured, and kissed each other by a look which would
have set light to the match of a musketeer, if the musketeer had been
there. It was certain that a love so far advanced in the heart should
have an end. The gentleman dressed as a scholar of Montaign, began to
regale the clerks of the said Avenelles, and to joke in the company,
in order to learn the habits of the husband, his hours of absence, his
journeys, and everything, watching for an opportunity to stick his
horns on. And this was how, to his injury, the opportunity occurred.
The advocate, obliged to follow the course of this conspiracy, and, in
case of failure, intending to revenge himself upon the Guises,
determined to go to Blois, where the court then was in great danger of
being carried off. Knowing this, the gentleman came first to the town
of Blois, and there arranged a master-trap, into which the Sieur
Avenelles should fall, in spite of his cunning, and not come out until
steeped in a crimson cuckoldom. The said Italian, intoxicated with
love, called together all his pages and vassals, and posted them in
such a manner that on the arrival of the advocate, his wife, and her
duenna, it was stated to them at all the hostelries at which they
wished to put up that the hostelry being full, in consequence of the
sojourn of the court, they must go elsewhere. Then the gentleman made
such an arrangement with the landlord of the Soleil Royal, that he had
the whole of the house, and occupied, without any of the usual
servants of the place remaining there. For greater security, my lord
sent the said master and his people into the country, and put his own
in their places, so that the advocate should know nothing of this
arrangement. Behold my good gentleman who lodges his friends to come
to the court in the hostelry, and for himself keeps a room situated
above those in which he intends to put his lovely mistress, her
advocate, and the duenna, not without first having cut a trap in the
boards. And his steward being charged to play the part of the
innkeeper, his pages dressed like guests, and his female servants like
servants of the inn, he waited for spies to convey to him the dramatis
personae of this farce--viz., wife, husband, and duenna, none of whom
failed to come. Seeing the immense wealth of the great lords,
merchants, warriors, members of the service, and others, brought by
the sojourn of the young king, of two queens, the Guises, and all the
court, no one had a right to be astonished or to talk of the roguish
trap, or of the confusion come to the Soleil Royal. Behold now the
Sieur Avenelles, on his arrival, bundled about, he, his wife and the
duenna from inn to inn, and thinking themselves very fortunate in
being received at the Soleil Royal, where the gallant was getting
warm, and love was burning. The advocate, being lodged, the lover
walked about the courtyard, watching and waiting for a glance from the
lady; and he did not have to wait very long, since the fair Avenelles,
looking soon into the court, after the custom of the ladies, there
recognised not without great throbbing of the heart, her gallant and
well-beloved gentleman. At that she was very happy; and if by a lucky
chance both had been alone together for an ounce of time, that good
gentleman would not have had to wait for his good fortune, so burning
was she from head to foot.

"How warm it is in the rays of this lord," said she, meaning to say
sun, since it was then shining fiercely.

Hearing this, the advocate sprang to the window, and beheld my

"Ha! you want lords, my dear, do you?" said the advocate, dragging her
by the arm, and throwing her like one of his bags on to the bed.
"Remember that if I have a pencase at my side instead of a sword, I
have a penknife in this pencase, and that penknife will go into your
heart on the least suspicion of conjugal impropriety. I believe I have
seen that gentleman somewhere."

The advocate was so terribly spiteful that the lady rose, and said to

"Well, kill me. I am not afraid of deceiving you. Never touch me
again, after having thus menaced me. And from to-day I shall never
think of sleeping save with a lover more gentle than you are."

"There, there, my little one!" said the advocate, surprised. "We have
gone a little too far. Kiss me, chick-a-biddy, and forgive me."

"I will neither kiss nor pardon you," said she "You are a wretch!"

Avenelles, enraged, wished to take by force that which his wife denied
him, and from this resulted a combat, from which the husband emerged
clawed all over. But the worst of it was, that the advocate, covered
with scratches, being expected by the conspirators, who were holding a
council, was obliged to quit his good wife, leaving her to the care of
the old woman.

The knave having departed, the gentleman putting one of his servants
to keep watch at the corner of the street, mounts to his blessed trap,
lifts it noiselessly, and calls the lady by a gentle psit! psit! which
was understood by the heart, which generally understands everything.
The lady lifts her head, and sees her pretty lover four flea jumps
above her. Upon a sign, she takes hold of two cords of black silk, to
which were attached loops, through which she passes her arms, and in
the twinkling of an eye is translated by two pulleys from her bed
through the ceiling into the room above, and the trap closing as it
has opened, left the old duenna in a state of great flabbergastation,
when, turning her head, she neither saw robe nor woman, and perceived
that the women had been robbed. How? by whom? in what way? where?
--Presto! Foro! Magico! As much knew the alchemists at their furnaces
reading Herr Trippa. Only the old woman knew well the crucible, and
the great work--the one was cuckoldom, and the other the private
property of Madame Advocate. She remained dumbfounded, watching for
the Sieur Avenelles--as well say death, for in his rage he would
attack everything, and the poor duenna could not run away, because
with great prudence the jealous man had taken the keys with him. At
first sight, Madame Avenelles found a dainty supper, a good fire in
the grate, but a better in the heart of her lover, who seized her, and
kissed her, with tears of joy, on the eyes first of all, to thank them
for their sweet glances during devotion at the church of St Jehan en
Greve. Nor did the glowing better half of the lawyer refuse her little
mouth to his love, but allowed herself to be properly pressed, adored,
caressed, delighting to be properly pressed, admirably adored, and
calorously caressed after the manner of eager lovers. And both agreed
to be all in all to each other the whole night long, no matter what
the result might be, she counting the future as a fig in comparison
with the joys of this night, he relying upon his cunning and his sword
to obtain many another. In short, both of them caring little for life,
because at one stroke they consummated a thousand lives, enjoyed with
each other a thousand delights, giving to each other the double of
their own--believing, he and she, that they were falling into an
abyss, and wishing to roll there closely clasped, hurling all the love
of their souls with rage in one throw. Therein they loved each other
well. Thus they knew not love, the poor citizens, who live
mechanically with their good wives, since they know not the fierce
beating of the heart, the hot gush of life, and the vigorous clasp as
of two young lovers, closely united and glowing with passion, who
embrace in face of the danger of death. Now the youthful lady and the
gentleman ate little supper, but retired early to rest. Let us leave
them there, since no words, except those of paradise unknown to us,
would describe their delightful agonies, and agonising delights.
Meanwhile, the husband, so well cuckolded that all memory of marriage
had been swept away by love,--the said Avenelles found himself in a
great fix. To the council of the Huguenots came the Prince of Conde,
accompanied by all the chiefs and bigwigs, and there it was resolved
to carry off the queen-mother, the Guises, the young king, the young
queen, and to change the government. This becoming serious, the
advocate seeing his head at stake, did not feel the ornaments being
planted there, and ran to divulge the conspiracy to the cardinal of
Lorraine, who took the rogue to the duke, his brother, and all three
held a consultation, making fine promises to the Sieur Avenelles, whom
with the greatest difficulty they allowed, towards midnight, to
depart, at which hour he issued secretly from the castle. At this
moment the pages of the gentleman and all his people were having a
right jovial supper in honour of the fortuitous wedding of their
master. Now, arriving at the height of the festivities, in the middle
of the intoxication and joyous huzzahs, he was assailed with jeers,
jokes, and laughter that turned him sick when he came into his room.
The poor servant wished to speak, but the advocate promptly planted a
blow in her stomach, and by a gesture commanded her to be silent. Then
he felt in his valise, and took therefrom a good poniard. While he was
opening and shutting it, a frank, naive, joyous, amorous, pretty,
celestial roar of laughter, followed by certain words of easy
comprehension, came down through the trap. The cunning advocate,
blowing out his candle, saw through the cracks in the boards caused by
the shrinking of the door a light, which vaguely explained the mystery
to him, for he recognised the voice of his wife, and that of the
combatant. The husband took the duenna by the arm, and went softly at
the stairs searching for the door of the chamber in which were the
lovers, and did not fail to find it. Fancy! that like a horrid, rude
advocate, he burst open the door, and with one spring was on the bed,
in which he surprised his wife, half dressed, in the arms of the

"Ah!" said she.

The lover having avoided the blow, tried to snatch the poniard from
the hands of the knave, who held it firmly.

Now, in this struggle of life and death, the husband finding himself
hindered by his lieutenant, who clutched him tightly with his fingers
of iron, and bitten by his wife, who tore away at him with a will,
gnawing him as a dog gnaws a bone, he thought instantly of a better
way to gratify his rage. Then the devil, newly horned, maliciously
ordered, in his patois, the servants to tie the lovers with the silken
cords of the trap, and throwing the poniard away, he helped the duenna
to make them fast. And the thing thus done in a moment, he rammed some
linen into their mouths to stop their cries, and ran to his good
poniard without saying a word. At this moment there entered several
officers of the Duke of Guise, whom during the struggle no one had
heard turning the house upside down, looking for the Sieur Avenelles.
These soldiers, suddenly warned by the cries of the pages of the lord,
bound, gagged and half killed, threw themselves between the man with
the poniard and the lovers, disarmed him, and accomplished their
mission by arresting him, and marching him off to the castle prison,
he, his wife, and the duenna. At the same time the people of the
Guises, recognising one of their master's friends, with whom at this
moment the queen was most anxious to consult, and whom they were
enjoined to summon to the council, invited him to come with them. Then
the gentleman soon untied, dressing himself, said aside to the chief
of the escort, that on his account, for the love for him, he should be
careful to keep the husband away from his wife, promising him his
favour, good advancement, and even a few deniers, if he were careful
to obey him on this point. And for greater surety he explained to him
the why and the wherefore of the affair, adding that if the husband
found himself within reach of this fair lady he would give her for
certain a blow in the belly from which she would never recover.
Finally he ordered him to place the lady in the jail of the castle, in
a pleasant place level with gardens, and the advocate in a safe
dungeon, not without chaining him hand and foot. The which the said
office promised, and arranged matters according to the wish of the
gentleman, who accompanied the lady as far as the courtyard of the
castle, assuring her that this business would make her a widow, and
that he would perhaps espouse her in legitimate marriage. In fact, the
Sieur Avenelles was thrown into a damp dungeon, without air, and his
pretty wife placed in a room above him, out of consideration for her
lover, who was the Sieur Scipion Sardini, a noble of Lucca,
exceedingly rich, and, as has been before stated, a friend of Queen
Catherine de Medici, who at that time did everything in concert with
the Guises. Then he went up quickly to the queen's apartments, where a
great secret council was then being held, and there the Italian
learned what was going on, and the danger of the court. Monseigneur
Sardini found the privy counsellors much embarrassed and surprised at
this dilemma, but he made them all agree, telling them to turn it to
their own advantage; and to his advice was due the clever idea of
lodging the king in the castle of Amboise, in order to catch the
heretics there like foxes in a bag, and there to slay them all.
Indeed, everyone knows how the queen-mother and Guises dissimulated,
and how the Riot of Amboise terminated. This is not, however, the
subject of the present narrative. When in the morning everyone had
quitted the chamber of the queen-mother, where everything had been
arranged, Monseigneur Sardini, in no way oblivious of his love for the
fair Avenelles, although he was at the time deeply smitten with the
lovely Limeuil, a girl belonging to the queen-mother, and her relation
by the house of La Tour de Turenne, asked why the good Judas had been
caged. Then the Cardinal of Lorraine told him his intention was not in
any way to harm the rogue, but that fearing his repentance, and for
greater security of his silence until the end of the affair, he put
him out of the way, and would liberate him at the proper time.

"Liberate him!" said the Luccanese. "Never! Put him in a sack, and
throw the old black gown into the Loire. In the first place I know
him; he is not the man to forgive you his imprisonment, and will
return to the Protestant Church. Thus this will be a work pleasant to
God, to rid him of a heretic. Then no one will know your secrets, and
not one of his adherents will think of asking you what has become of
him, because he is a traitor. Let me procure the escape of his wife
and arrange the rest; I will take it off your hands."

"Ha, ha!" said the cardinal; "you give good council. Now I will,
before distilling your advice, have them both more securely guarded.
Hi, there!"

Came an officer of police, who was ordered to let no person whoever he
might be, communicate with the two prisoners. Then the cardinal begged
Sardini to say at his hotel that the said advocate had departed from
Blois to return to his causes in Paris. The men charged with the
arrest of the advocate had received a verbal order to treat him as a
man of importance, so they neither stripped nor robbed him. Now the
advocate had kept thirty gold crowns in his purse, and resolved to
lose them all to assure his vengeance, and proved by good arguments to
the jailers that it was allowable for him to see his wife, on whom he
doted, and whose legitimate embrace he desired. Monseigneur Sardini,
fearing for his mistress the danger of the proximity of this red
learned rogue, and for her having great fear of certain evils,
determined to carry her off in the night, and put her in a place of
safety. Then he hired some boatmen and also their boat, placing them
near the bridge, and ordered three of his most active servants to file
the bars of the cell, seize the lady, and conduct her to the wall of
the gardens where he would await her.

These preparations being made, and good files bought, he obtained an
interview in the morning with the queen-mother, whose apartments were
situated above the stronghold in which lay the said advocate and his
wife, believing that the queen would willingly lend herself to this
flight. Presently he was received by her, and begged her not to think
it wrong that, at the instigation of the cardinal and of the Duke of
Guise, he should deliver this lady; and besides this, urged her very
strongly to tell the cardinal to throw the man into the water. To
which the queen said "Amen." Then the lover sent quickly to his lady a
letter in a plate of cucumbers, to advise her of her approaching
widowhood, and the hour of flight, with all of which was the fair
citizen well content. Then at dusk the soldiers of the watch being got
out of the way by the queen, who sent them to look at a ray of the
moon, which frightened her, behold the servants raised the grating,
and caught the lady, who came quickly enough, and was led through the
house to Monseigneur Sardini.

But the postern closed, and the Italian outside with the lady, behold
the lady throw aside her mantle, see the lady change into an advocate,
and see my said advocate seize his cuckolder by the collar, and half
strangle him, dragging him towards the water to throw him to the
bottom of the Loire; and Sardini began to defend himself, to shout,
and to struggle, without being able, in spite of his dagger, to shake
off this devil in long robes. Then he was quiet, falling into a slough
under the feet of the advocate, whom he recognised through the mists
of this diabolical combat, and by the light of the moon, his face
splashed with the blood of his wife. The enraged advocate quitted the
Italian, believing him to be dead, and also because servants armed
with torches, came running up. But he had to jump into the boat and
push off in great haste.

Thus poor Madame Avenelles died alone, since Monseigneur Sardini,
badly strangled, was found, and revived from this murder; and later,
as everyone knows, married the fair Limeuil after this sweet girl had
been brought to bed in the queen's cabinet--a great scandal, which
from friendship the queen-mother wished to conceal, and which from
great love Sardini, to whom Catherine gave the splendid estate of
Chaumont-sur-Loire, and also the castle, covered with marriage.

But he had been so brutally used by the husband, that he did not make
old bones, and the fair Limeuil was left a widow in her springtime. In
spite of his misdeeds the advocate was not searched after. He was
cunning enough eventually to get included in the number of those
conspirators who were not prosecuted, and returned to the Huguenots,
for whom he worked hard in Germany.

Poor Madame Avenelles, pray for her soul! for she was hurled no one
knew where, and had neither the prayers of the Church nor Christian
burial. Alas! shed a tear for her, ye ladies lucky in your loves.


When, for the last time, came Master Francis Rabelais, to the court of
King Henry the Second of the name, it was in that winter when the will
of nature compelled him to quit for ever his fleshly garb, and live
forever in his writings resplendent with that good philosophy to which
we shall always be obliged to return. The good man had, at that time,
counted as nearly as possible seventy flights of the swallow. His
Homeric head was but scantily ornamented with hair, but his beard was
still perfect in its flowing majesty; there was still an air of
spring-time in his quiet smile, and wisdom on his ample brow. He was a
fine old man according to the statement of those who had the happiness
to gaze upon his face, to which Socrates and Aristophanes, formerly
enemies, but then become friends, contributed their features. Hearing
his last hours tinkling in his ears he determined to go and pay his
respects to the king of France, because he was having just at that
time arrived in his castle of Tournelles, the good man's house being
situated in the gardens of St Paul, was not a stone's throw distant
from the court. He soon found himself in the presence of Queen
Catherine, Madame Diana, whom she received from motives of policy, the
king, the constable, the cardinals of Lorraine and Bellay, Messieurs
de Guise, the Sieur de Birague, and other Italians, who at that time
stood well at court in consequence of the king's protection; the
admiral, Montgomery, the officers of the household, and certain poets,
such as Melin de St. Gelays, Philibert de l'Orme, and the Sieur

Perceiving the good man, the king, who knew his wit, said to him, with
a smile, after a short conversation--

"Hast thou ever delivered a sermon to thy parishioners of Meudon?"

Master Rabelais, thinking that the king was joking, since he had never
troubled himself further about his post than to collect the revenues
accruing from it, replied--

"Sire, my listeners are in every place, and my sermon heard throughout

Then glancing at all the courtiers, who, with the exception of
Messieurs du Bellay and Chatillon, considered him to be nothing but a
learned merry-andrew, while he was really the king of all wits, and a
far better king than he whose crown only the courtiers venerate, there
came into the good man's head the malicious idea to philosophically
pump over their heads, just as it pleased Gargantua to give the
Parisians a bath from the turrets of Notre Dame, so he added--

"If you are in a good humour, sire, I can regale you with a capital
little sermon, always appropriate, and which I have kept under the
tympanum of my left ear in order to deliver it in a fit place, by way
of an aulic parable."

"Gentlemen," said the king, "Master Francis Rabelais has the floor of
the court, and our salvation is concerned in his speech. Be silent, I
pray you, and give heed; he is fruitful in evangelical drolleries."

"Sire," said the good vicar, "I commence."

All the courtiers became silent, and arranged themselves into a
circle, pliant as osiers before the father of Pantagruel who unfolded
to them the following tale, in words the illustrious eloquence of
which it is impossible to equal. But since this tale has only been
verbally handed down to us, the author will be pardoned if he write
after his own fashion.

"In his old age Gargantua took to strange habits, which greatly
astonished his household, but the which he was forgiven since he was
seven hundred and four years old, in spite of the statement of St.
Clement of Alexandra in his Stromates, which makes out that at this
time he was a quarter of a day less, which matters little to us. Now
this paternal master, seeing that everything was going wrong in his
house, and that every one was fleecing him, conceived a great fear
that he would in his last moments be stripped of everything, and
resolved to invent a more perfect system of management in his domains,
and he did well. In a cellar of Gargantuan abode he hid away a fine
heap of red wheat, beside twenty jars of mustard and several
delicacies, such as plums and Tourainian rolls, articles of a dessert,
Olivet cheese, goat cheese, and others, well known between Langeais
and Loches, pots of butter, hare pasties, preserved ducks, pigs'
trotters in bran, boatloads and pots full of crushed peas, pretty
little pots of Orleans quince preserve, hogsheads of lampreys,
measures of green sauce, river game, such as francolins, teal,
sheldrake, heron, and flamingo, all preserved in sea-salt, dried
raisins, tongues smoked in the manner invented by Happe-Mousche, his
celebrated ancestor, and sweetstuff for Garga-melle on feast days; and
a thousand other things which are detailed in the records of the
Ripuary laws and in certain folios of the Capitularies, Pragmatics,
royal establishments, ordinances and institutions of the period. To be
brief, the good man, putting his spectacles on his nose or his nose in
his spectacles, looked about for a fine flying dragon or unicorn to
whom the guard of this precious treasure could be committed. With this
thought in his head he strolled about the gardens. He did not desire a
Coquecigrue, because the Egyptians were afraid of them, as it appeared
in the Hieroglyphics. He dismissed the idea of engaging the legions of
Caucquemarres, because emperors disliked them and also the Romans
according to that sulky fellow Tacitus. He rejected the Pechrocholiers
in council assembled, the Magi, the Druids, the legion or Papimania,
and the Massorets, who grew like quelch-grass and over-ran all the
land, as he had been told by his son, Pantagruel, on his return from
his journey. The good man calling to mind old stories, had no
confidence in any race, and if it had been permissible would have
implored the Creator for a new one, but not daring to trouble Him
about such trifles, did not know whom to choose, and was thinking that
his wealth would be a great trouble to him, when he met in his path a
pretty little shrew-mouse of the noble race of shrew-mice, who bear
all gules on an azure ground. By the gods! be sure that it was a
splendid animal, with the finest tail of the whole family, and was
strutting about in the sun like a brave shrew-mouse. It was proud of
having been in this world since the Deluge, according to
letters-patent of indisputable nobility, registered by the parliament
of the universe, since it appears from the Ecumenical Inquiry a
shrew-mouse was in Noah's Ark." Here Master Alcofribas raised his cap
slightly, and said, reverently, "It was Noah, my lords, who planted
the vine, and first had the honour of getting drunk upon the juice of
its fruit."

"For it is certain," he continued, "that a shrew-mouse was in the
vessel from which we all came; but the men have made bad marriages;
not so the mice, because they are more jealous of their coat of arms
than any other animals, and would not receive a field-mouse among
them, even though he had the especial gift of being able to convert
grains of sand to fine fresh hazelnuts. This fine gentlemanly
character so pleased the good Gargantua, that he decided to give the
post of watching his granaries to the shrew-mouse, with the most ample
of powers--of justice, comittimus, missi dominici, clergy,
men-at-arms, and all. The shrew-mouse promised faithfully to
accomplish his task, and to do his duty as a loyal beast, on condition
that he lived on a heap of grain, which Gargantua thought perfectly
fair. The shrew-mouse began to caper about in his domain as happy as a
prince who is happy, reconnoitering his immense empire of mustard,
countries of sugar, provinces of ham, duchies of raisins, counties of
chitterlings, and baronies of all sorts, scrambling on to the heap of
grain and frisking his tail against everything. To be brief, everywhere
was the shrew-mouse received with honour by the pots, which kept a
respectful silence, except two golden tankards, which knocked against
each other like the bells of a church ringing a tocsin, at which he was
much pleased, and thanked them, right and left, by a nod of the head,
while promenading in the rays of the sun, which were illuminating his
domain. Therein so splendidly did the brown colour of his hair shine
forth, that one would have thought him a northern king in his sable
furs. After his twists, turns, jumps and capers, he munched two grains
of corn, sat upon the heap like a king in full court, and fancied
himself the most illustrious of shrew-mice. At this moment they came
from their accustomed holes the gentlemen of the night-prowling court,
who scamper with their little feet across the floors; these gentlemen
being the rats, mice, and other gnawing, thieving, and crafty animals,
of whom the citizens and housewives complain. When they saw the
shrew-mouse they took fright, and all remained shyly at the threshold
of their dens. Among these common people, in spite of the danger, one
old infidel of the trotting, nibbling race of mice, advanced a little,
and putting his nose in the air, had the courage to stare my lord
shrew-mouse full in the face, although the latter was proudly squatted
upon his rump, with his tail in the air; and he came to the conclusion
that he was a devil, from whom nothing but scratches were to be gained.
And from these facts, Gargantua, in order that the high authority of
his lieutenant might be universally known by all of the shrew-mice,
cats, weasels, martins, field-mice, mice, rats, and other bad characters
of the same kidney, had lightly dipped his muzzle, pointed as a larding
pin, in oil of musk, which all shrew-mice have since inherited,
because this one, is spite of the sage advice of Gargantua, rubbed
himself against others of his breed. From this sprang the troubles in
the Muzaraignia of which I will give you a good account in an
historical book when I get an opportunity.

"Then an old mouse, or rat--the rabbis of Talmud have not yet agreed
concerning the species--perceiving by this perfume that this
shrew-mouse was appointed to guard the grain of Gargantua, and had
been sprinkled with virtues, invested with full powers, and armed at
all points, was alarmed lest he should no longer be able to live,
according to the custom of mice, upon the meats, morsels, crusts,
crumbs, leavings, bits, atoms, and fragments of this Canaan of rats.
In this dilemma the good mouse, artful as an old courtier who had
lived under two regencies and three kings, resolved to try the mettle
of the shrew-mouse, and devote himself to the salvation of the jaws of
his race. This would have been a laudable thing in a man, but it was
far more so in a mouse, belonging to a tribe who live for themselves
alone, barefacedly and shamelessly, and in order to gratify themselves
would defile a consecrated wafer, gnaw a priest's stole without shame,
and would drink out of a Communion cup, caring nothing for God. The
mouse advanced with many a bow and scrape, and the shrew-mouse let him
advance rather near--for, to tell the truth, these animals are
naturally short-sighted. Then this Curtius of nibblers made his little
speech, not the jargon of common mice, but in the polite language of
shrew-mice:--'My lord, I have heard with much concern of your glorious
family, of which I am one of the most devoted slaves. I know the
legend of your ancestors, who were thought much of by the ancient
Egyptians, who held them in great veneration, and adored them like
other sacred birds. Nevertheless, your fur robe is so royally
perfumed, and its colour is so splendiferously tanned, that I am
doubtful if I recognise you as belonging to this race, since I have
never seen any of them so gloriously attired. However you have
swallowed the grain after the antique fashion. Your proboscis is a
proboscis of sapience; you have kicked like a learned shrew-mouse; but
if you are a true shrew-mouse, you should have in I know not what part
of your ear--I know not what special auditorial channel, which I know
not, what wonderful door, closes I know not how, and I know not with
what movements, by your secret commands to give you, I know not why,
licence not to listen to I know not what things, which would be
displeasing to you, on account of the special and peculiar perfection
of your faculty of hearing everything, which would often pain you."

"'True,' said the shrew-mouse, 'the door has just fallen. I hear

"'Ah, I see,' said the old rogue.

"And he made for the pile of corn, from which he commenced to take his
store for the winter.

"'Did you hear anything?' asked he.

"'I hear the pit-a-pat of my heart.'

"'Kouick!' cried all the mice; 'we shall be able to hoodwink him.'

"The shrew-mouse, fancying that he had met with a faithful vassal,
opened the trap of his musical orifice, and heard the noise of the
grain going towards the hole. Then, without having recourse to
forfeiture, the justice of commissaries, he sprang upon the old mouse
and squeezed him to death. Glorious death! for the hero died in the
thick of the grain, and was canonised as a martyr. The shrew-mouse
took him by the ears and placed him on the door the granary, after the
fashion of the Ottoman Porte, where my good Panurge was within an ace
of being spitted. At the cries of the dying wretch the rats, mice, and
others made for their holes in great haste. When the night had fallen
they came to the cellar, convoked for the purpose of holding a council
to consider public affairs; to which meeting, in virtue of the
Papyrian and other laws, their lawful wives were admitted. The rats
wished to pass before the mice, and serious quarrels about precedence
nearly spoiled everything; but a big rat gave his arm to a mouse, and
the gaffer rats and gammer mice being paired off in the same way, all
were soon seated on their rumps, tails in air, muzzles stretched,
whiskers stiff, and their eyes brilliant as those of a falcon. Then
commenced a deliberation, which finished up with insults and a
confusion worthy of an ecumenical council of holy fathers. One said
this and another said that, and a cat passing by took fright and ran
away, hearing these strange noises: 'Bou, bou, grou, ou, ou, houic,
houic, briff, briffnac, nac, nac, fouix, fouix, trr, trr, trr, trr,
za, za, zaaa, brr, brr, raaa, ra, ra, ra, fouix!' so well blended
together in a babel of sound, that a council at the Hotel de Ville
could not have made a greater hubbub. During this tempest a little
mouse, who was not old enough to enter parliament, thrust through a
chink her inquiring snout, the hair on which was as downy as that of
all mice, too downy to be caught. As the tumult increased, by degrees
her body followed her nose, until she came to the hoop of a cask,
against which she so dextrously squatted that she might have been
mistaken for a work of art carved in antique bas-relief. Lifting his
eyes to heaven to implore a remedy for the misfortunes of the state,
an old rat perceived this pretty mouse, so gentle and shapely, and
declared that the State might be saved by her. All the muzzles turned
to this Lady of Good Help, became silent, and agreed to let her loose
upon the shrew-mouse, and in spite of the anger of certain envious
mice, she was triumphantly marched around the cellar, where, seeing
her walk mincingly, mechanically move her tail, shake her cunning
little head, twitch her diaphanous ears, and lick with her little red
tongue the hairs just sprouting on her cheeks, the old rats fell in
love with her and wagged their wrinkled, white-whiskered jaws with
delight at the sight of her, as did formerly the old men of Troy,
admiring the lovely Helen, returning from her bath. Then the maiden
was conducted to the granary, with instructions to make a conquest of
the shrew-mouse's heart, and save the fine red grain, as did formerly
the fair Hebrew, Esther, for the chosen people, with the Emperor
Ahasuerus, as is written in the master-book, for Bible comes from the
Greek word biblos, as if to say the only book. The mouse promised to
deliver the granaries, for by a lucky chance she was the queen of
mice, a fair, plump, pretty little mouse, the most delicate little
lady that ever scampered merrily across the floors, scratched between
the walls, and gave utterance to little cries of joy at finding nuts,
meal, and crumbs of bread in her path; a true fay, pretty and playful,
with an eye clear as crystal, a little head, sleek skin, amorous body,
rosy feet, and velvet tail--a high born mouse and a polished speaker
with a natural love of bed and idleness--a merry mouse, more cunning
than an old Doctor of Sorbonne fed on parchment, lively, white
bellied, streaked on the back, with sweet moulded breasts, pearl-white
teeth, and of a frank open nature--in fact, a true king's morsel."

This portraiture was so bold--the mouse appearing to have been the
living image of Madame Diana, then present--that the courtiers stood
aghast. Queen Catherine smiled, but the king was in no laughing
humour. But Rabelais went on without paying any attention to the winks
of the Cardinal Bellay and de Chatillon, who were terrified for the
good man.

"The pretty mouse," said he, continuing, "did not beat long about the
bush, and from the first moment that she trotted before the
shrew-mouse, she had enslaved him for ever by her coquetries,
affectations, friskings, provocations, little refusals, piercing
glances, and wiles of a maiden who desires yet dares not, amorous
oglings, little caresses, preparatory tricks, pride of a mouse who
knows her value, laughings and squeakings, triflings and other
endearments, feminine, treacherous and captivating ways, all traps
which are abundantly used by the females of all nations. When, after
many wrigglings, smacks in the face, nose lickings, gallantries of
amorous shrew-mice, frowns, sighs, serenades, titbits, suppers and
dinners on the pile of corn, and other attentions, the superintendent
overcame the scruples of his beautiful mistress, he became the slave
of this incestuous and illicit love, and the mouse, leading her lord
by the snout, became queen of everything, nibbled his cheese, ate the
sweets, and foraged everywhere. This the shrew-mouse permitted to the
empress of his heart, although he was ill at ease, having broken his
oath made to Gargantua, and betrayed the confidence placed in him.
Pursuing her advantage with the pertinacity of a woman, one night they
were joking together, the mouse remembered the dear old fellow her
father, and desiring that he should make his meals off the grain, she
threatened to leave her lover cold and lonely in his domain if he did
not allow her to indulge her filial piety. In the twinkling of a
mouse's eye he had granted letters patent, sealed with a green seal,
with tags of crimson silk, to his wench's father, so that the
Gargantuan palace was open to him at all hours, and he was at liberty
see his good, virtuous daughter, kiss her on the forehead, and eat his
fill, but always in a corner. Then there arrived a venerable old rat,
weighing about twenty-five ounces, with a white tail, marching like the
president of a Court of Justice, wagging his head, and followed by
fifteen or twenty nephews, all with teeth as sharp as saws, who
demonstrated to the shrew-mouse by little speeches and questions of all
kinds that they, his relations, would soon be loyally attached to him,
and would help him to count the things committed to his charge, arrange
and ticket them, in order that when Gargantua came to visit them he
would find everything in perfect order. There was an air of truth about
these promises. The poor shrew-mouse was, however, in spite of this
speech, troubled by ideas from on high, and serious pricking of
shrew-mousian conscience. Seeing that he turned up his nose at
everything, went about slowly and with a careworn face, one morning the
mouse who was pregnant by him, conceived the idea of calming his doubts
and easing his mind by a Sorbonnical consultation, and sent for the
doctors of his tribe. During the day she introduced to him one, Sieur
Evegault, who had just stepped out of a cheese where he lived in perfect
abstinence, an old confessor of high degree, a merry fellow of good
appearance, with a fine black skin, firm as a rock, and slightly
tonsured on the head by the pat of a cat's claw. He was a grave rat,
with a monastical paunch, having much studied scientific authorities
by nibbling at their works in parchments, papers, books and volumes of
which certain fragments had remained upon his grey beard. In honour of
and great reverence for his great virtue and wisdom, and his modest
life, he was accompanied by a black troop of black rats, all bringing
with them pretty little mice, their sweethearts, for not having
adopted the canons of the council of Chesil, it was lawful for them to
have respectable women for concubines. These beneficed rats, being
arranged in two lines, you might have fancied them a procession of the
university authorities going to Lendit. And they all began to sniff
the victuals.

"When the ceremony of placing them all was complete, the old cardinal
of the rats lifted up his voice, and in a good rat-latin oration
pointed out to the guardian of the grain that no one but God was
superior to him; and that to God alone he owed obedience, and he
entertained him with many fine phrases, stuffed with evangelical
quotations, to disturb the principal and fog his flock; in fact, fine
argument interlarded with much sound sense. The discourse finished
with a peroration full of high sounding words in honour of shrew-mice,
among whom his hearer was the most illustrious and best beneath the
sun; and this oration considerably bewildered the keeper of the

"This good gentleman's head was thoroughly turned, and he installed
this fine speaking rat and his tribe in his manor, where night and day
his praises and little songs in his honour were sung, not forgetting
his lady, whose little paw was kissed and little tail was sniffed at
by all. Finally, the mistress, knowing that certain young rats were
still fasting, determined to finish her work. Then she kissed her lord
tenderly, loading him with love, and performing those little endearing
antics of which one alone was sufficient to send a beast to perdition;
and said to the shrew-mouse that he wasted the precious time due to
their love by travelling about, that he was always going here or
there, and that she never had her proper share of him; that when she
wanted his society, he was on the leads chasing the cats, and that she
wished him always to be ready to her hand like a lance, and kind as a
bird. Then in her great grief she tore out a grey hair, declaring
herself, weepingly, to be the most wretched little mouse in the world.
The shrew-mouse pointed out to her that she was the mistress of
everything, and wished to resist, but after the lady had shed a
torrent of tears he implored a truce and considered her request. Then
instantly drying her tears, and giving him her paw to kiss, she
advised him to arm some soldiers, trusty and tried rats, old warriors,
who would go the rounds to keep watch. Everything was thus wisely
arranged. The shrew-mouse had the rest of the day to dance, play, and
amuse himself, listen to the roundelays and ballads which the poets
composed in his honour, play the lute and the mandore, make acrostics,
eat, drink and be merry. One day his mistress having just risen from
her confinement, after having given birth to the sweetest little
mouse-sorex or sorex-mouse, I know not what name was given to this
mongrel food of love, whom you may be sure, the gentlemen in the long
robe would manage to legitimise" (the constable of Montmorency, who
had married his son to a legitimised bastard of the king's, here put
his hand to his sword and clutched the handle fiercely), "a grand
feast was given in the granaries, to which no court festival or gala
could be compared, not even that of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. In
every corner mice were making merry. Everywhere there were dances,
concerts, banquets, sarabands, music, joyous songs, and epithalamia.
The rats had broken open the pots, and uncovered the jars, lapped the
gallipots, and unpacked the stores. The mustard was strewn over the
place, the hams were mangled and the corn scattered. Everything was
rolling, tumbling, and falling about the floor, and the little rats
dabbled in puddles of green sauce, the mice navigated oceans of
sweetmeats, and the old folks carried off the pasties. There were mice
astride salt tongues. Field-mice were swimming in the pots, and the
most cunning of them were carrying the corn into their private holes,
profiting by the confusion to make ample provision for themselves. No
one passed the quince confection of Orleans without saluting it with
one nibble, and oftener with two. It was like a Roman carnival. In
short, anyone with a sharp ear might have heard the frizzling
frying-pans, the cries and clamours of the kitchens, the crackling of
their furnaces, the noise of the turnspits, the creaking of baskets,
the haste of the confectioners, the click of the meat-jacks, and the
noise of the little feet scampering thick as hail over the floor. It
was a bustling wedding-feast, where people come and go, footmen,
stablemen, cooks, musicians, buffoons, where everyone pays compliments
and makes a noise. In short, so great was the delight that they kept
up a general wagging of the head to celebrate this eventful night. But
suddenly there was heard the horrible foot-fall of Gargantua, who was
ascending the stairs of his house to visit the granaries, and made the
planks, the beams, and everything else tremble. Certain old rats asked
each other what might mean this seignorial footstep, with which they
were unacquainted, and some of them decamped, and they did well, for
the lord and master entered suddenly. Perceiving the confusion these
gentleman had made, seeing his preserves eaten, his mustard unpacked,
and everything dirtied and scratched about, he put his feet upon these
lively vermin without giving them time to squeak, and thus spoiled
their best clothes, satins, pearls, velvets, and rubbish, and upset
the feast."

"And what became of the shrew-mouse?" said the king, waking from his

"Ah, sire!" replied Rabelais, "herein we see the injustice of the
Gargantuan tribe. He was put to death, but being a gentleman he was
beheaded. That was ill done, for he had been betrayed."

"You go rather far, my good man," said the king.

"No sire," replied Rabelais, "but rather high. Have you not sunk the
crown beneath the pulpit? You asked me for a sermon; I have given you
one which is gospel."

"My fine vicar," said Madame Diana, in his ear, "suppose I were

"Madame," said Rabelais, "was it not well then of me to warn the king,
your master, against the queen's Italians, who are as plentiful here
as cockchafers?"

"Poor preacher," said Cardinal Odet, in his ear, "go to another

"Ah! monsieur," replied the old fellow, "ere long I shall be in
another land."

"God's truth! Mr. Scribbler," said the constable (whose son, as
everyone knows, had treacherously deserted Mademoiselle de Piennes, to
whom he was betrothed, to espouse Diana of France, daughter of the
mistress of certain high personages and of the king), "who made thee
so bold as to slander persons of quality? Ah, wretched poet, you like
to raise yourself high; well then, I promise to put you in a good high

"We shall all go there, my lord constable," replied the old man: "but
if you are friendly to the state and to the king you will thank me for
having warned him against the hordes of Lorraine, who are evils that
will devour everything."

"My good man," whispered Cardinal Charles of Lorraine, "if you need a
few gold crowns to publish your fifth book of Pantagruel you can come
to me for them, because you have put the case clearly to the enemy,
who has bewitched the king, and also to her pack."

"Well, gentlemen," said the king, "what do you think of the sermon?"

"Sire," said Mellin de Saint-Gelais, seeing that all were well
pleased, "I had never heard a better Pantagruelian prognostication.
Much do we owe to him who made these leonine verses in the Abbey of

'"Cy vous entrez, qui le saint Evangile
En sens agile annoncez, quoy qu'on gronde,
Ceans aurez une refuge et bastile,
Contre l'hostile erreur qui tant postille
Par son faux style empoisonner le monde.'"

['"Should ye who enter here profess in jubilation
Our gospel of elation, then suffer dolts to curse!
Here refuge shall ye find, and sure circumvallation
Against the protestation of those whose delectation
Brings false abomination to blight the universe.'"]

All the courtiers having applauded their companion, each one
complimented Rabelais, who took his departure accompanied with great
honour by the king's pages, who, by express command held torches
before him.

Some persons have charged Francis Rabelais, the imperial honour of our
land, with spiteful tricks and apish pranks, unworthy of his Homeric
philosophy, of this prince of wisdom of this fatherly centre, from
which have issued since the rising of his subterranean light a good
number of marvellous works. Out upon those who would defile this
divine head! All their life long may they find grit between their
teeth, those who have ignored his good and moderate nourishment.

Dear drinker of pure water, faithful servant or monachal abstinence,
wisest of wise men, how would thy sides ache with laughter, how
wouldst thou chuckle, if thou couldst come again for a little while to
Chinon, and read the idiotic mouthings, and the maniacal babble of the
fools who have interpreted, commentated, torn, disgraced,
misunderstood, betrayed, defiled, adulterated and meddled with thy
peerless book. As many dogs as Panurge found busy with his lady's robe
at church, so many two-legged academic puppies have busied themselves
with befouling the high marble pyramid in which is cemented for ever
the seed of all fantastic and comic inventions, besides magnificent
instruction in all things. Although rare are the pilgrims who have the
breath to follow thy bark in its sublime peregrination through the
ocean of ideas, methods, varieties, religions, wisdom, and human
trickeries, at least their worship is unalloyed, pure, and
unadulterated, and thine omnipotence, omniscience, and omni-language
are by them bravely recognised. Therefore has a poor son of our merry
Touraine here been anxious, however unworthily, to do thee homage by
magnifying thine image, and glorifying the works of eternal memory, so
cherished by those who love the concentrative works wherein the
universal moral is contained, wherein are found, pressed like sardines
in their boxes, philosophical ideas on every subject, science, art and
eloquence, as well as theatrical mummeries.



A number of persons of the noble country of Touraine, considerably
edified by the warm search which the author is making into the
antiquities, adventures, good jokes, and pretty tales of that blessed
land, and believing for certain that he should know everything, have
asked him (after drinking with him of course understood), if he had
discovered the etymological reason, concerning which all the ladies of
the town are so curious, and from which a certain street in Tours is
called the Rue Chaude. By him it was replied, that he was much
astonished to see that the ancient inhabitants had forgotten the great
number of convents situated in this street, where the severe
continence of the monks and nuns might have caused the walls to be
made so hot that some woman of position should increase in size from
walking too slowly along them to vespers. A troublesome fellow,
wishing to appear learned, declared that formerly all the
scandalmongers of the neighbourhood were wont to meet in this place.
Another entangled himself in the minute suffrages of science, and
poured forth golden words without being understood, qualifying words,
harmonising the melodies of the ancient and modern, congregating
customs, distilling verbs, alchemising all languages since the Deluge,
of the Hebrew, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Greeks, Latins, and of Turnus,
the ancient founder of Tours; and the good man finished by declaring
that chaude or chaulde with the exception of the H and the L, came
from Cauda, and that there was a tail in the affair, but the ladies
only understood the end of it. An old man observed that in this same
place was formerly a source of thermal water, of which his great great
grandfather had drunk. In short, in less time than it takes a fly to
embrace its sweetheart, there had been a pocketful of etymologies, in
which the truth of the matter had been less easily found than a louse
in the filthy beard of a Capuchin friar. But a man well learned and
well informed, through having left his footprint in many monasteries,
consumed much midnight oil, and manured his brain with many a volume
--himself more encumbered with pieces, dyptic fragments, boxes,
charters, and registers concerning the history of Touraine than is a
gleaner with stalks of straw in the month of August--this man, old,
infirm, and gouty, who had been drinking in his corner without saying
a word, smiled the smile of a wise man and knitted his brows, the said
smile finally resolving itself into a pish! well articulated, which
the Author heard and understood it to be big with an adventure
historically good, the delights of which he would be able to unfold in
this sweet collection.

To be brief, on the morrow this gouty old fellow said to him, "By your
poem, which is called 'The Venial Sin,' you have forever gained my
esteem, because everything therein is true from head to foot--which I
believe to be a precious superabundance in such matters. But doubtless
you do not know what became of the Moor placed in religion by the said
knight, Bruyn de la Roche-Corbon. I know very well. Now if this
etymology of the street harass you, and also the Egyptian nun, I will
lend you a curious and antique parchment, found by me in the Olim of
the episcopal palace, of which the libraries were a little knocked
about at a period when none of us knew if he would have the pleasure
of his head's society on the morrow. Now will not this yield you a
perfect contentment?"

"Good!" said the author.

Then this worthy collector of truths gave certain rare and dusty
parchments to the author, the which he has, not without great labour,
translated into French, and which were fragments of a most ancient
ecclesiastical process. He has believed that nothing would be more
amusing than the actual resurrection of this antique affair, wherein
shines forth the illiterate simplicity of the good old times. Now,
then, give ear. This is the order in which were the manuscripts, of
which the author has made use in his own fashion, because the language
was devilishly difficult.


_In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen._

In the year of our Lord, one thousand two hundred and seventy-one,
before me, Hierome Cornille, grand inquisitor and ecclesiastical judge
(thereto commissioned by the members of the chapter of Saint Maurice,
the cathedral of Tours, having of this deliberated in the presence of
our Lord Jean de Montsoreau, archbishop--namely, the grievances and
complaints of the inhabitants of the said town, whose request is here
subjoined), have appeared certain noblemen, citizens, and inhabitants
of the diocese, who have stated the following facts concerning a demon
suspected of having taken the features of a woman, who has much
afflicted the minds of the diocese, and is at present a prisoner in
the jail of the chapter; and in order to arrive at the truth of the
said charge we have opened the present court, this Monday, the
eleventh day of December, after mass, to communicate the evidence of
each witness to the said demon, to interrogate her upon the said
crimes to her imputed, and to judge her according to the laws enforced
_contra demonios_.

In this inquiry has assisted me to write the evidence therein given,
Guillaume Tournebouche, rubrican of the chapter, a learned man.

Firstly has come before us one Jehan, surnamed Tortebras, a citizen of
Tours, keeping by licence the hostelry of La Cigoyne, situated on the
Place du Pont, and who has sworn by the salvation of his soul, his
hand upon the holy Evangelists, to state no other thing than that
which by himself hath been seen and heard.

He hath stated as here followeth:--

"I declare that about two years before the feast of St. Jehan, upon
which are the grand illuminations, a gentleman, at first unknown to
me, but belonging without doubt to our lord the King, and at that time
returned to our country from the Holy Land, came to me with the
proposition that I should let to him at rental a certain country-house
by me built, in the quit rent of the chapter over against the place
called of St. Etienne, and the which I let to him for nine years, for
the consideration of three besans of fine gold. In the said house was
placed by the said knight a fair wench having the appearance of a
woman, dressed in the strange fashion of the Saracens Mohammedans,
whom he would allow by none to be seen or to be approached within a
bow-shot, but whom I have seen with mine own eyes, weird feathers upon
her head, and eyes so flaming that I cannot adequately describe them,
and from which gleamed forth a fire of hell. The defunct knight having
threatened with death whoever should appear to spy about the said
house, I have by reason of great fear left the said house, and I have
until this day secretly kept to my mind certain presumptions and
doubts concerning the bad appearance of the said foreigner, who was
more strange than any woman, her equal not having as yet by me been

"Many persons of all conditions having at the time believed the said
knight to be dead, but kept upon his feet by virtue of the said
charms, philters, spells, and diabolical sorceries of this seeming
woman, who wished to settle in our country, I declare that I have
always seen the said knight so ghastly pale that I can only compare
his face to the wax of a Paschal candle, and to the knowledge of all
the people of the hostelry of La Cigoyne, this knight was interred
nine days after his first coming. According to the statement of his
groom, the defunct had been chalorously coupled with the said Moorish
woman during seven whole days shut up in my house, without coming out
from her, the which I heard him horribly avow upon his deathbed.
Certain persons at the present time have accused this she-devil of
holding the said gentleman in her clutches by her long hair, the which
was furnished with certain warm properties by means of which are
communicated to Christians the flames of hell in the form of love,
which work in them until their souls are by this means drawn from
their bodies and possessed by Satan. But I declare that I have seen
nothing of this excepting the said dead knight, bowelless, emaciated,
wishing, in spite of his confessor, still to go to this wench; and
then he has been recognised as the lord de Bueil, who was a crusader,
and who was, according to certain persons of the town, under the spell
of a demon whom he had met in the Asiatic country of Damascus or

"Afterwards I have let my house to the said unknown lady, according to
the clauses of the deed of lease. The said lord of Bueil, being
defunct, I had nevertheless been into my house in order to learn from
the said foreign woman if she wished to remain in my dwelling, and
after great trouble was led before her by a strange, half-naked black
man, whose eyes were white.

"Then I have seen the said Moorish woman in a little room, shining
with gold and jewels, lighted with strange lights, upon an Asiatic
carpet, where she was seated, lightly attired, with another gentleman,
who was there imperiling his soul; and I had not the heart bold enough
to look upon her, seeing that her eyes would have incited me
immediately to yield myself up to her, for already her voice thrilled
into my very belly, filled my brain, and debauched my mind. Finding
this, from the fear of God, and also of hell, I have departed with
swift feet, leaving my house to her as long as she liked to retain it,
so dangerous was it to behold that Moorish complexion from which
radiated diabolical heats, besides a foot smaller than it was lawful
in a real woman to possess; and to hear her voice, which pierced into
one's heart! And from that day I have lacked the courage to enter my
house from great fear of falling into hell. I have said my say."

To the said Tortebras we have then shown an Abyssinian, Nubian or
Ethiopian, who, black from head to foot, had been found wanting in
certain virile properties with which all good Christians are usually
furnished, who, having persevered in his silence, after having been
tormented and tortured many times, not without much moaning, has
persisted in being unable to speak the language of our country. And
the said Tortebras has recognised the said Abyss heretic as having
been in his house in company with the said demoniacal spirit, and is
suspected of having lent his aid to her sorcery.

And the said Tortebras has confessed his great faith in the Catholic
religion, and declared no other things to be within his knowledge save
certain rumours which were known to every one, of which he had been in
no way a witness except in the hearing of them.

In obedience to the citations served upon him, has appeared then,
Matthew, surname Cognefestu, a day-labourer of St. Etienne, whom,
after having sworn by the holy Evangelists to speak the truth, has
confessed to us always to have seen a bright light in the dwelling of
the said foreign woman, and heard much wild and diabolical laughter on
the days and nights of feasts and fasts, notably during the days of
the holy and Christmas weeks, as if a great number of people were in
the house. And he has sworn to have seen by the windows of the said
dwellings, green buds of all kinds in the winter, growing as if by
magic, especially roses in a time of frost, and other things for which
there was a need of a great heat; but of this he was in no way
astonished, seeing that the said foreigner threw out so much heat that
when she walked in the evening by the side of his wall he found on the
morrow his salad grown; and on certain occasions she had by the
touching of her petticoats, caused the trees to put forth leaves and
hasten the buds. Finally, the said, Cognefestu has declared to us to
know no more, because he worked from early morning, and went to bed at
the same hour as the fowls.

Afterwards the wife of the aforesaid Cognefestu has by us been
required to state also upon oath the things come to her cognisance in
this process, and has avowed naught save praises of the said
foreigner, because since her coming her man had treated her better in
consequence of the neighbourhood of this good lady, who filled the air
with love, as the sun did light, and other incongruous nonsense, which
we have not committed to writing.

To the said Cognefestu and to his wife we have shown the said unknown
African, who has been seen by them in the gardens of the house, and is
stated by them for certain to belong to the said demon. In the third
place, has advanced Harduin V., lord of Maille, who being by us
reverentially begged to enlighten the religion of the church, has
expressed his willingness so to do, and has, moreover, engaged his
word, as a gallant knight, to say no other thing than that which he
has seen. Then he has testified to have known in the army of the
Crusades the demon in question, and in the town of Damascus to have
seen the knight of Bueil, since defunct, fight at close quarters to be
her sole possessor. The above-mentioned wench, or demon, belonged at
that time to the knight Geoffroy IV., Lord of Roche-Pozay, by whom she
was said to have been brought from Touraine, although she was a
Saracen; concerning which the knights of France marvelled much, as
well as at her beauty, which made a great noise and a thousand
scandalous ravages in the camp. During the voyage this wench was the
cause of many deaths, seeing that Roche-Pozay had already discomfited
certain Crusaders, who wished to keep her to themselves, because she
shed, according to certain knights petted by her in secret, joys
around her comparable to none others. But in the end the knight of
Bueil, having killed Geoffroy de la Roche-Pozay, became lord and
master of this young murderess, and placed her in a convent, or harem,
according to the Saracen custom. About this time one used to see her
and hear her chattering as entertainment many foreign dialects, such
as the Greek or the Latin empire, Moorish, and, above all, French
better than any of those who knew the language of France best in the
Christian host, from which sprang the belief that she was demoniacal.

The said knight Harduin has confessed to us not to have tilted for her
in the Holy Land, not from fear, coldness or other cause, so much as
that he believed the time had arrived for him to bear away a portion
of the true cross, and also he had belonging to him a noble lady of
the Greek country, who saved him from this danger in denuding him of
love, morning and night, seeing that she took all of it substantially
from him, leaving him none in his heart or elsewhere for others.

And the said knight has assured us that the woman living in the
country house of Tortebras, was really the said Saracen woman, come
into the country from Syria, because he had been invited to a midnight
feast at her house by the young Lord of Croixmare, who expired the
seventh day afterwards, according to the statement of the Dame de
Croixmare, his mother, ruined all points by the said wench, whose
commerce with him had consumed his vital spirit, and whose strange
phantasies had squandered his fortune.

Afterwards questioned in his quality of a man full of prudence, wisdom
and authority in this country, upon the ideas entertained concerning
the said woman, and summoned by us to open his conscience, seeing that
it was a question of a most abominable case of Christian faith and
divine justice, answer has been made by the said knight:--

That by certain of the host of Crusaders it has been stated to him
that always this she-devil was a maid to him who embraced her, and
that Mammon was for certain occupied in her, making for her a new
virtue for each of her lovers, and a thousand other foolish sayings of
drunken men, which were not of a nature to form a fifth gospel. But
for a fact, he, an old knight on that turn of life, and knowing
nothing more of the aforesaid, felt himself again a young man in that
last supper with which he had been regaled by the lord of Croixmare;
then the voice of this demon went straight to his heart before flowing
into his ears, and had awakened so great a love in his body that his
life was ebbing from the place whence it should flow, and that
eventually, but for the assistance of Cyprus wine, which he had drunk
to blind his sight, and his getting under the table in order no longer
to gaze upon the fiery eyes of his diabolical hostess, and not to rend
his heart from her, without doubt he would have fought the young
Croixmare, in order to enjoy for a single moment this supernatural
woman. Since then he had had absolution from his confessor for the
wicked thought. Then, by advice from on high, he had carried back to
his house his portion of the true Cross, and had remained in his own
manor, where, in spite of his Christian precautions, the said voice
still at certain times tickled his brain, and in the morning often had
he in remembrance this demon, warm as brimstone; and because the look
of this wench was so warm that it made him burn like a young man, be
half dead, and because it cost him then many transshipments of the
vital spirit, the said knight has requested us not to confront him
with the empress of love to whom, if it were not the devil, God the
Father had granted strange liberties with the minds of men.
Afterwards, he retired, after reading over his statement, not without
having first recognised the above-mentioned African to be the servant
and page of the lady.

In the fourth place, upon the faith pledged in us in the name of the
Chapter and of our Lord Archbishop, that he should not be tormented,
tortured, nor harassed in any manner, nor further cited after his
statement, in consequence of his commercial journeys, and upon the
assurance that he should retire in perfect freedom, has come before us
a Jew, Salomon al Rastchid, who, in spite of the infamy of his person
and his Judaism, has been heard by us to this one end, to know
everything concerning the conduct of the aforesaid demon. Thus he has
not been required to take any oath this Salomon, seeing that he is
beyond the pale of the Church, separated from us by the blood of our
saviour (trucidatus Salvatore inter nos). Interrogated by us as to why
he appeared without the green cap upon his head, and the yellow wheel
in the apparent locality of the heart in his garment, according to the
ecclesiastical and royal ordinances, the said de Rastchid has
exhibited to us letters patent of the seneschal of Touraine and
Poitou. Then the said Jew has declared to us to have done a large
business for the lady dwelling in the house of the innkeeper
Tortebras, to have sold to her golden chandeliers, with many branches,
minutely engraved, plates of red silver, cups enriched with stones,
emeralds and rubies; to have brought for her from the Levant a number
of rare stuffs, Persian carpets, silks, and fine linen; in fact,
things so magnificent that no queen in Christendom could say she was
so well furnished with jewels and household goods; and that he had for
his part received from her three hundred thousand pounds for the
rarity of the purchases in which he had been employed, such as Indian
flowers, poppingjays, birds' feathers, spices, Greek wines, and
diamonds. Requested by us, the judge, to say if he had furnished
certain ingredients of magical conjuration, the blood of new-born
children, conjuring books, and things generally and whatsoever made
use of by sorcerers, giving him licence to state his case without that
thereupon he should be the subject to any further inquest or inquiry,
the said al Rastchid has sworn by his Hebrew faith never to have had
any such commerce; and has stated that he was involved in too high
interests to give himself to such miseries, seeing that he was the
agent of certain most powerful lords, such as the Marquis de
Montferrat, the King of England, the King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, the
Court of Provence, lords of Venice, and many German gentleman; to have
belonging to him merchant galleys of all kinds, going into Egypt with
the permission of the Sultan, and he trafficking in precious articles
of silver and of gold, which took him often into the exchange of
Tours. Moreover, he has declared that he considered the said lady, the
subject of inquiry, to be a right royal and natural woman, with the
sweetest limbs, and the smallest he has ever seen. That in consequence
of her renown for a diabolical spirit, pushed by a wild imagination,
and also because that he was smitten with her, he had heard once that
she was husbandless, proposed to her to be her gallant, to which
proposition she willingly acceded. Now, although from that night he
felt his bones disjointed and his bowels crushed, he had not yet
experienced, as certain persons say, that who once yielded was free no
more; he went to his fate as lead into the crucible of the alchemist.
Then the said Salomon, to whom we have granted his liberty according
to the safe conduct, in spite of the statement, which proves
abundantly his commerce with the devil, because he had been saved
there where all Christians have succumbed, has admitted to us an
agreement concerning the said demon. To make known that he had made an
offer to the chapter of the cathedral to give for the said semblance
of a woman such a ransom, if she were condemned to be burned alive,
that the highest of the towers of the Church of St. Maurice, at
present in course of construction, could therewith be finished.

The which we have noted to be deliberated upon at an opportune time by
the assembled chapter. And the said Salomon has taken his departure
without being willing to indicate his residence, and has told us that
he can be informed of the deliberation of the chapter by a Jew of the
synagogue of Tours, a name Tobias Nathaneus. The said Jew has before
his departure been shown the African, and has recognised him as the
page of the demon, and has stated the Saracens to have the custom of
mutilating their slaves thus, to commit to them the task of guarding
their women by an ancient usage, as it appears in the profane
histories of Narsez, general of Constantinople, and others.

On the morrow after mass has appeared before us the most noble and
illustrious lady of Croixmare. The same has worn her faith in the holy
Evangelists, and has related to us with tears how she had placed her
eldest son beneath the earth, dead by reason of his extravagant amours
with this female demon. The which noble gentleman was three-and-twenty
years of age; of good complexion, very manly and well bearded like his
defunct sire. Notwithstanding his great vigour, in ninety days he had
little by little withered, ruined by his commerce with the succubus of
the Rue Chaude, according to the statement of the common people; and
her maternal authority over the son had been powerless. Finally in his
latter days he appeared like a poor dried up worm, such as
housekeepers meet with in a corner when they clean out the
dwelling-rooms. And always, so long as he had the strength to go, he
went to shorten his life with this cursed woman; where, also, he
emptied his cash-box. When he was in his bed, and knew his last hour
had come, he swore at, cursed, and threatened and heaped upon all--his
sister, his brother, and upon her his mother--a thousand insults,
rebelled in the face of the chaplain; denied God, and wished to die in
damnation; at which were much afflicted the retainers of the family,
who, to save his soul and pluck it from hell, have founded two annual
masses in the cathedral. And in order to have him buried in consecrated
ground, the house of Croixmare has undertaken to give to the chapter,
during one hundred years, the wax candles for the chapels and the
church, upon the day of the Paschal feast. And, in conclusion, saving
the wicked words heard by the reverend person, Dom Loys Pot, a nun of
Marmoustiers, who came to assist in his last hours the said Baron de
Croixmaire affirms never to have heard any words offered by the
defunct, touching the demon who had undone him.


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