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A Husband In Hiding








By Alardin.

_Of a poor, simple peasant married to a nice, pleasant woman, who did
much as she liked, and who in order that she might be alone with her
lover, shut up her husband in the pigeon-house in the manner you will
hear._


In a pretty, little town near here, but which I will not name, there
recently occurred an incident which will furnish a short story. There
lived there a good, simple, unlettered peasant, married to a nice,
pleasant woman, and as long as he had plenty to eat and drink he cared
for little else. He was accustomed to often go into the country to
a house he had there, and stay, three, or four days--sometimes more,
sometimes less, as suited his pleasure, and left his wife to enjoy
herself in the town, which she did, for, in order that she might not be
frightened, she had always a man to take her husband's place, and look
after the workshop and see that the tools did not rust. Her method was
to wait until her husband was out of sight, and not until she was quite
sure that he would not return did she send for his deputy, in order that
she might not be surprised.

But she could not always manage so well as not to be surprised, for once
when her husband had remained away two or three days, and on the fourth
day she had waited as long as possible until the gates of the town were
closed; thinking he would not come that day, she closed the doors and
the windows as on the other days, brought her lover into the house, and
they began to drink and enjoy themselves.

They were scarcely seated at the table, when her husband came and
thundered at the door, which he was much surprised to find closed.

When the good woman heard it, she hid her lover under the bed; then went
to the door and demanded who knocked?

"Open the door," replied her husband.

"Ah, husband, is that you?" she said. "I was going to send a message to
you to-morrow morning to tell you not to come back."

"Why; what is the matter?" asked her husband.

"What is the matter? God in heaven!" she replied. "The sergeants were
here two hours and a half, waiting to take you to prison."

"To prison!" said he; "Why to prison? Have I done anything wrong? To
whom do I owe any money? Who brings any charge against me?"

"I know nothing about it," said the cunning wench, "but they evidently
wanted to do you harm."

"But did they not tell you," asked her husband, "why they wanted me?"

"No," she replied; "nothing, except that if they laid hands on you, you
would not get out of prison for a long time."

"Thank God they haven't caught me yet. Good bye, I am going back."

"Where are you going?" she asked--though she was glad to get rid of him.

"Whence I came," he replied.

"I will come with you," she said.

"No, don't. Stay and take care of the house, and do not tell anyone that
I have been here."

"Since you will return to the country," she said, "make haste and get
away before they close the gates: it is already late."

"If they should be shut, the gate-keeper will do anything for me and he
will open them again."

With these words he left, and when he came to the gate, he found it
closed, and, beg and pray as he might, the gate-keeper would not open it
for him.

He was very annoyed that he should have to return to his house, for he
feared the sergeants; nevertheless, he was obliged to go back, or sleep
in the streets.

He went back, and knocked at the door, and the woman who had again sat
down with her lover, was much surprised, but she jumped up, and ran to
the door, and called out,

"My husband has not come back; you are wasting your time."

"Open the door, my dear," said the good man. "I am here."

"Alas! alas! the gate was closed: I feared as much," she said. "You will
certainly be arrested; I see no hope for escape, for the sergeants told
me, I now remember, that they would return to-night."

"Oh, well," he said, "there is no need of a long sermon. Let us consider
what is to be done."

"You must hide somewhere in the house," she said, "and I do not know of
any place where you would be safe."

"Should I be safe," he asked, "in our pigeon house? Who would look for
me there?"

She was, of course, highly delighted at the suggestion, but pretended
not to be, and said; "It is not a very nice place; it stinks too much."

"I don't mind that," he said. "I would rather be there an hour or two,
and be safe, than be in a better place and be caught."

"Oh, well, if you are brave enough to go there, I am of your opinion
that it would be a good hiding-place."

The poor man ascended into the pigeon-house, which fastened outside,
and was locked in, and told his wife that if the sergeants did not come
soon, that she was to let him out.

She left him to coo with the pigeons all night, which he did not much
like, and he was afraid to speak or call, for fear of the sergeants.

At daybreak, which was the time when her lover left the house, the good
woman came and called her husband and opened the door; and he asked her
why she had left him so long along with the pigeons. And she, having
prepared her reply, said that the sergeants had watched round their
house all night, and spoken to her several times, and had only just
gone, but they said that they would come back at a time when they were
likely to find him.

The poor fellow, much wondering what the sergeants could want with him,
left at once, and returned to the country, vowing that he would not
come back for a long time. God knows how pleased the wench was at
this, though she pretended to be grieved. And by this means she enjoyed
herself more than ever, for she had no longer any dread of her husband's
return.


*****




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