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The Husband Turned Confessor
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The Husband As Doctor
By Philippe De Laon.
_Of a young squire of Champagne who, when he married, had never mounted
a Christian creature,--much to his wife's regret. And of the method her
mother found to instruct him, and how the said squire suddenly wept at
a great feast that was made shortly after he had learned how to perform
the carnal act--as you will hear more plainly hereafter._
It is well known that in the province of Champagne you are sure to meet
heavy and dull-witted persons--which has seemed strange to many persons,
seeing that the district is so near to the country of Mischief. (*)
Many stories could be told of the stupidity of the Champenois, but this
present story will suffice.
(*) _Mal-Eugen_ in the original. The author probably means
Picardy or Lorraine.
In this province, there lived a young man, an orphan, who at the death
of his father and mother had become rich and powerful. He was stupid,
ignorant, and disagreeable, but hard-working and knew well how to
take care of himself and his affairs, and for this reason, many
persons,--even people of condition,--were willing to give him their
daughter in marriage.
One of these damsels, above all others, pleased the friends and
relations of our Champenois, for her beauty, goodness, riches, and so
forth. They told him that it was time he married.
"You are now," they said, "twenty-three years old, and there could not
be a better time. And if you will listen to us, we have searched out
for you a fair and good damsel who seems to us just suited to you. It is
such an one--you know her well;" and they told him her name.
The young man, who cared little whether he was married or not, as
long as he lost no money by it, replied that he would do whatever they
wished. "Since you think it will be to my advantage, manage the business
the best way you can, and I will follow your advice and instructions."
"You say well," replied these good people. "We will select your wife as
carefully as though it were for ourselves, or one of our children."
To cut matters short, a little time afterwards our Champenois was
married; but on the first night, when he was sleeping with his wife,
he, never having mounted on any Christian woman, soon turned his back
to her, and a few poor kisses was all she had of him, but nothing on her
back. You may guess his wife was not well pleased at this; nevertheless,
she concealed her discontent.
This unsatisfactory state of things lasted ten days, and would have
continued longer if the girl's mother had not put a stop to it.
It should be known to you that the young man was unskilled in the
mysteries of wedlock, for during the lifetime of his parents he had been
kept with a tight hand, and, above all things, had been forbidden to
play at the beast with two backs, lest he should take too much delight
therein, and waste all his patrimony. This was wise of his parents, for
he was not a young man likely to be loved for his good looks.
As he would do nothing to anger his father or mother, and was, moreover,
not of an amorous disposition, he had always preserved his chastity,
though his wife would willingly have deprived him of it, if she had
known how to do so honestly.
One day the mother of the bride came to her daughter, and asked her all
about her husband's state and condition, and the thousand other things
which women like to know. To all of these questions the bride replied
that her husband was a good man, and she hoped and believed that she
would be happy with him.
But the old woman knew by her own experience that there are more things
in married life than eating and drinking, so she said to her daughter;
"Come here, and tell me, on your word of honour, how does he acquit
himself at night?"
When the girl heard this question she was so vexed and ashamed that she
could not reply, and her eyes filled with tears. Her mother understood
what these tears meant, and said;
"Do not weep, my child! Speak out boldly! I am your mother, and you
ought not to conceal anything from me, or be afraid of telling me. Has
he done nothing to you yet?"
The poor girl, having partly recovered, and being re-assured by
her mother's words, ceased her tears, but yet could make no reply.
Thereupon, her mother asked again;
"Lay aside your grief and answer me honestly: has he done nothing to you
In a low voice, mingled with tears, the girl replied, "On my word,
mother, he has never yet touched me, but, except for that, there is no
more kind or affectionate man."
"Tell me," said the mother; "do you know if he is properly furnished
with all his members? Speak out boldly, if you know."
"By St. John! he is all right in that respect," replied the bride. "I
have often, by chance, felt his luggage as I turned to and fro in our
bed when I could not sleep."
"That is enough," said the mother; "leave the rest to me. This is what
_you_ must do. In the morning you must pretend to be very ill--even as
though your soul were departing from your body. Your husband will, I
fully expect, seek me out and bid me come to you, and I will play my
part so well that your business will be soon settled, for I shall take
your water to a certain doctor, who will give such advice as I order."
All was done as arranged, for on the morrow, as soon as it was dawn, the
girl, who was sleeping with her husband, began to complain and to sham
sickness as though a strong fever racked her body.
Her booby husband was much vexed and astonished, and knew not what to
say or do. He sent forthwith for his mother-in-law, who was not long in
coming. As soon as he saw her, "Alas! mother!" said he, "your daughter
"My daughter?" said she. "What does she want?" and whilst she was
speaking she walked to the patient's chamber.
As soon as the mother saw her daughter, she asked what was the matter;
and the girl, being well instructed what she was to do, answered not at
first, but, after a little time, said, "Mother, I am dying."
"You shall not die, please God! Take courage! But how comes it that you
are taken ill so suddenly?"
"I do not know! I do not know!" replied the girl. "It drives me wild to
answer all these questions."
The old woman took the girl's hand, and felt her pulse; then she said to
"On my word she is very ill. She is full of fire, and we must find some
remedy. Have you any of her water?"
"That which she made last night is there," said one of the attendants.
"Give it me," said the mother.
She took the urine, and put it in a proper vessel, and told her
son-in-law that she was about to show it to such-and-such a doctor, that
he might know what he could do to her daughter to cure her.
"For God's sake spare nothing," said she. "I have yet some money left,
but I love my daughter better than money."
"Spare!" quoth he. "If money can help, you shall not want."
"No need to go so fast," said she. "Whilst she is resting, I will go
home; but I will come back if I am wanted."
Now you must know that the old woman had on the previous day, when she
left her daughter, instructed the doctor, who was well aware of what he
ought to say. So the young man carried his wife's water to the doctor,
and when he had saluted him, related how sick and suffering his wife
"And I have brought you some of her water that you may judge how ill she
is, and more easily cure her."
The doctor took the vessel of urine, and turned it about and examined
it, then said;
"Your wife is afflicted with a sore malady, and is in danger of dying
unless help be forthcoming; her water shows it."
"Ah, master, for God's sake tell me what to do, and I will pay you well
if you can restore her to health, and prevent her from dying."
"She need not die," said the doctor; "but unless you make haste, all the
money in the world will not save her life."
"Tell me, for God's sake," said the other, "what to do, and I will do
"She must," said the doctor, "have connection with a man, or she will
"Connection with a man?" said the other, "What is that?"
"That is to say," continued the doctor, "that you must mount on the top
of her, and speedily ram her three or four times, or more if you can;
for, if not, the great heat which is consuming her will not be put out."
"Ah! will that be good for her?"
"There is no chance of her living," said the doctor, "if you do not do
it, and quickly too."
"By St. John," said the other, "I will try what I can do."
With that he went home and found his wife, who was groaning and
"How are you, my dear?" said he.
"I am dying, my dear," she replied.
"You shall not die, please God," said he. "I have seen the doctor, who
has told me what medicine will cure you," and as he spoke, he undressed
himself, and lay down by his wife, and began to execute the orders he
had received from the doctor.
"What are you doing?" said she. "Do you want to kill me?"
"No! I am going to cure you," he replied. "The doctor said so;" and
Nature instructing him, and the patient helping, he performed on her two
or three times.
When he was resting from his labours, much astonished at what had
happened, he asked his wife how she was?
"I am a little better than I was before;" she replied.
"God be praised," said he. "I hope you will get well and that the doctor
told me truly:" and with that he began again.
To cut matters short, he performed so well that his wife was cured in
a few days, at which he was very joyful, and so was her mother when she
The young man after this became a better fellow than he was before,
and his wife being now restored to health, he one day invited all his
relations and friends to dinner, and also the father and mother of his
wife, and he served grand cheer after his own fashion. They drank to
him, and he drank to them, and he was marvellous good company.
But hear what happened to him: in the midst of the dinner he began to
weep, which much astonished all his friends who were at table with
him, and they demanded what was the matter, but he could not reply for
weeping scalding tears. At last he spoke, and said;
"I have good cause to weep."
"By my oath you have not," replied his mother-in-law. "What ails you?
You are rich and powerful, and well housed, and have good friends; and
you must not forget that you have a fair and good wife whom God brought
back to health when she was on the edge of the grave. In my opinion you
ought to be light-hearted and joyful."
"Alas!" said he, "woe is me! My father and mother, who both loved me,
and who amassed and left me so much wealth, are both dead, and by my
fault, for they died of a fever, and if I had well towzled them both
when they were ill, as I did to my wife, they would still be on their
There was no one at table who, on hearing this, would not have liked to
laugh, nevertheless they restrained themselves as best they could. The
tables were removed, and each went his way, and the young man continued
to live with his wife, and--in order that she might continue in good
health--he failed not to tail her pretty often.
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