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The Three Cordeliers
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From Belly To Back








By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a gentleman of Burgundy who paid a chambermaid ten crowns to sleep
with her, but before he left her room, had his ten crowns back, and
made her carry him on her shoulders through the host's chamber. And in
passing by the said chamber he let wind so loudly that all was known, as
you will hear in the story which follows._

A gentleman of Burgundy went on some business to Paris, and lodged at a
good inn, for it was his custom always to seek out the best lodgings. He
knew a thing or two, and he noticed that the chambermaid did not look a
sort of woman who was afraid of a man. So, without much ado, or making
two bites at a cherry, he asked if he could sleep with her?

But she set her back up at once. "How dare you make such a proposal
to me," she said. "I would have you to know that I am not one of those
girls who bring scandal upon the houses in which they live." And in
short, for all he could say she refused to have anything to do with him
"for any money."

The gentleman who knew well what all these protestations were worth,
said to her;

"My dear, if fitting time and place were given me, I would tell you
something you would be glad to learn; but as, perhaps, it might hurt
your reputation if you were seen conversing with me, talk to my valet,
and he will arrange matters on my behalf."

"I have nothing to say either to him or to you," she replied, and with
that she walked away, and the gentleman called his valet, who was a
clever rogue, and ordered him to follow her and win her over at any
cost.

The valet, who was well trained, promised that he would perform his
task, and, as soon as he found her, set to work to employ honied
phrases, and if she had not been of Paris, and not the least cunning of
the women of that city, his soft speeches and the promises he made on
behalf of his master, would soon have gained her heart.

But as it was, after much talk between them, she cut matters short by
saying;

"I know well what your master wants, but he shall not touch me unless I
have ten crowns."

The servant reported this to his master, who was not so generous, or
at least not in such a case, as to give ten crowns to enjoy a kitchen
wench.

"Be that as it may," replied the valet, "she will not budge from that;
and even then you must use precautions in going to her chamber, for you
must pass through that of the host. What do you intend to do?"

"By my oath!" said his master, "I regret sorely having to pay ten
crowns, but I am so smitten with the wench that I cannot give her up. To
the devil with avarice! she shall have the money."

"Shall I tell her then you will give her the money?"

"Yes, in the devil's name! Yes!"

The valet found the girl, and told her she should have the money, and
perhaps something more.

"Very good," she replied.

To cut matters short, a time was arranged for the gentleman to come to
her, but, before she would show him the way to her room, she insisted on
the ten crowns being paid down.

The Burgundian was not over-pleased, and as he was on the way to her
chamber, it struck him that he was paying dearly for his amusement, and
he resolved that he would play her a trick.

He stole into her room so quietly that neither the host nor his wife
awaked. There he undressed, and said to himself that he would at least
have his money's worth. He did marvels, and got as good as he sent.

What with jesting and other matters, the hours passed quickly, and dawn
was near. He was then more willing to sleep than to do anything else,
but the fair chambermaid said to him;

"Sir, I have heard and seen so much of your nobleness, honour, and
courtesy that I have consented to allow you to take that which I hold
dearest in all the world. I now beg and request of you that you will
at once dress and hasten away, for it is now day, and if by chance my
master or mistress should come here, as is often their custom in the
morning, and should find you here, I should be dishonoured, nor would it
do you any good."

"I care not," quoth he, "what good or evil may happen, but here I will
remain, and sleep at my ease and leisure before I leave. I am entitled
to that for my money. Do you think you have so easily earned my ten
crowns? You took them quickly enough. By St. George! I have no fear; but
I will stay here and you shall bear me company, if you please."

"Oh, sir," she replied, "by my soul I cannot do this. You must leave. It
will be full day directly, and if you are found here what will become of
me? I would rather die than that should happen; and if you do not make
haste I much fear some one will come."

"Let them come," said the gentleman. "I care not, but, I tell you
plainly, that until you give me back my ten crowns, I will not leave
here, happen what may."

"Your ten crowns?" she answered. "Are you a man of that sort, and so
devoid of any courtesy or grace as to take back from me in that fashion,
that which you have given? By my faith that is not the way to prove
yourself a gentleman."

"Whatever I am," said he, "I will not leave here, or shall you either,
until you have given me back my ten crowns; you gained them too easily."

"May God help me," she replied, "though you speak thus I do not believe
you would be so ungrateful, after the pleasure I have given you, or so
discorteous, as not to aid me to preserve my honour, and therefore I beg
of you to grant my request, and leave here."

The gentleman said that he would do nothing of the sort, and in the
end the poor girl was forced--though God knows with what regret--to
hand-over the ten crowns in order to make him go. When the money had
returned to the hand that gave it, the girl was very angry, but the man
was in great glee.

"Now," said the girl, angrily, "that you have thus tricked and deceived
me, at least make haste. Let it suffice that you have made a fool of me,
and do not by delay bring dishonour upon me by being seen here."

"I have nothing to do with your honour," said he. "Keep it as much as
like, but you brought me here and you must take me back to the place
from whence I came, for I do not intend to have the double trouble of
coming and returning."

The chambermaid, seeing that she only made him more obstinate, and that
day was breaking fast, took the gentleman on her back, and though sick
at heart with fear and anger, began to carry him. And as she was picking
her way carefully and noiselessly, this courteous gentleman, who after
having ridden on her belly was now riding on her back, broke wind so
loudly that the host awoke, and called out in his fright;

"Who is there?"

"It is your chambermaid," said the gentleman, "who is taking me back to
the place from whence she brought me."

At these words the poor girl's heart and strength failed her. She could
no longer bear her unpleasant burden, and she fell on the floor and
rolled one way, whilst the squire went rolling the other.

The host, who knew what was the matter, spoke sharply to the girl, who
soon afterwards left his house; and the gentleman returned to Burgundy,
where he often gleefully related to his gallant companions the above
written adventure.


*****





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