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A Bargain In Horns








By Monseigneur De Fiennes.

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


There lived formerly, in the district of Lille, a worthy man who was a
labourer and tradesman, and who managed, by the good offices of himself
and his friends, to obtain for a wife a very pretty young girl, but who
was not rich, neither was her husband, but he was very covetous, and
diligent in business, and loved to gain money.

And she, for her part, attended to the household as her husband desired;
who therefore had a good opinion of her, and often went about his
business without any suspicion that she was other than good.

But whilst the poor man thus came and went, and left his wife alone,
a good fellow came to her, and, to cut the story short, was in a short
time the deputy for the trusting husband, who still believed that he
had the best wife in the world, and the one who most thought about the
increase of his honour and his worldly wealth.

It was not so, for she gave him not the love she owed him, and cared not
whether he had profit or loss by her. The good merchant aforesaid, being
out as usual, his wife soon informed her friend, who did not fail to
come as he was desired, at once. And not to lose his time, he approached
his mistress, and made divers amorous proposals to her, and in short
the desired pleasure was not refused him any more than on the former
occasions, which had not been few.

By bad luck, whilst the couple were thus engaged, the husband arrived,
and found them at work, and was much astonished, for he did not know
that his wife was a woman of that sort.

"What is this?" he said. "By God's death, scoundrel, I will kill you on
the spot."

The other, who had been caught in the act, and was much scared, knew
not what to say, but as he was aware that the husband was miserly and
covetous, he said quickly:

"Ah, John, my friend, I beg your mercy; pardon me if I have done you any
wrong, and on my word I will give you six bushels of wheat."

"By God!" said he, "I will do nothing of the kind. You shall die by my
hands and I will have your life if I do not have twelve bushels."

The good wife, who heard this dispute, in order to restore peace, came
forward, and said to her husband.

"John, dear, let him finish what he has begun, I beg, and you shall have
eight bushels. Shall he not?" she added, turning to her lover.

"I am satisfied," he said, "though on my oath it is too much, seeing how
dear corn is."

"It is too much?" said the good man. "Morbleu! I much regret that I did
not say more, for you would have to pay a much heavier fine if you were
brought to justice: however, make up your mind that I will have twelve
bushels, or you shall die."

"Truly, John," said his wife, "you are wrong to contradict me. It seems
to me that you ought to be satisfied with eight bushels, for you know
that is a large quantity of wheat."

"Say no more," he replied, "I will have twelve bushels, or I will kill
him and you too."

"The devil," quoth the lover; "you drive a bargain; but at least, if I
must pay you, let me have time."

"That I agree to, but I will have my twelve bushels."

The dispute ended thus, and it was agreed that he was to pay in two
instalments,--six bushels on the morrow, and the others on St. Remy's
day, then near.

All this was arranged by the wife, who then said to her husband.

"You are satisfied, are you not, to receive your wheat in the manner I
have said?"

"Certainly," he replied.

"Then go," she said, "whilst he finishes the work he had begun when you
interrupted him; otherwise the contract will not be binding."

"By St. John! is it so?" said the lover.

"I always keep my word," said the good merchant. "By God, no man shall
say I am a cheat or a liar. You will finish the job you have begun, and
I am to have my twelve bushels of wheat on the terms agreed. That was
our contract--was it not?"

"Yes, truly," said his wife.

"Good bye, then," said the husband, "but at any rate be sure that I have
six bushels of wheat to-morrow."

"Don't be afraid," said the other. "I will keep my word." So the good
man left the house, quite joyful that he was to have twelve bushels of
wheat, and his wife and her lover recommenced more heartily than ever. I
have heard that the wheat was duly delivered on the dates agreed.


*****





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