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The Scotsman Turned Washerwoman








By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a young Scotsman who was disguised as a woman for the space of
fourteen years, and by that means slept with many girls and married
women, but was punished in the end, as you will hear._


None of the preceding stories have related any incidents which happened
in Italy, but only those which occurred in France, Germany, England,
Flanders, and Brabant,--therefore I will relate, as something new, an
incident which formerly happened in Rome, and was as follows.

At Rome was a Scotsman of the age of about 22, who for the space of
fourteen years had disguised himself as a woman, without it being
publicly known all that time that he was a man. He called himself
Margaret, and there was hardly a good house in Rome where he was
not known, and he was specially welcomed by all the women, such as
waiting-women, and wenches of the lower orders, and also many of the
greatest ladies in Rome.

This worthy Scotsman carried on the trade of laundress, and had learned
to bleach sheets, and called himself the washerwoman, and under that
pretence frequented, as has been said, all the best houses in Rome, for
there was no woman who could bleach sheets as he did.

But you must know that he did much else beside, for when he found
himself with some pretty girl, he showed her that he was a man. Often,
in order to prepare the lye, he stopped one or two nights in the
aforesaid houses, and they made him sleep with the maid, or sometimes
with the daughter; and very often, if her husband were not there, the
mistress would have his company. And God knows that he had a good time,
and, thanks to the way he employed his body, was welcome everywhere, and
many wenches and waiting maids would fight as to who was to have him for
a bedfellow.

The citizens of Rome heard such a good account of him from their wives,
that they willingly welcomed him to their houses, and if they went
abroad, were glad to have Margaret to keep house along with their wives,
and, what is more, made her sleep with them, so good and honest was she
esteemed, as has been already said.

For the space of fourteen years did Margaret continue this way of
living, but the mischief was at last brought to light by a young girl,
who told her father that she had slept with Margaret and been assaulted
by her, and that in reality she was a man. The father informed the
officers of justice, and it was found that she had all the members and
implements that men carry, and, in fact, was a man and not a woman.

So it was ordered that he should be put in a cart and led through all
the city of Rome, and at every street corner his genitals should be
exposed.

This was done, and God knows how ashamed and vexed poor Margaret was.
But you must know that when the cart stopped at a certain corner, and
all the belongings of Margaret were being exhibited, a Roman said out
loud;

"Look at that scoundrel! he has slept more than twenty nights with my
wife!"

Many others said the same, and many who did not say it knew it well,
but, for their honours sake, held their tongue. Thus, in the manner you
have heard, was the poor Scotsman punished for having pretended to be
a woman, and after that punishment was banished from Rome; at which the
women were much displeased, for never was there such a good laundress,
and they were very sorry that they had so unfortunately lost her.


*****





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