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The Woman At The Bath
By Philippe De Laon.
_Of an inn-keeper at Saint Omer who put to his son a question for which
he was afterwards sorry when he heard the reply, at which his wife was
much ashamed, as you will hear, later._
Some time ago I was at Saint Omer with a number of noble companions,
some from the neighbourhood and Boulogne, and some from elsewhere, and
after a game of tennis, we went to sup at the inn of a tavern-keeper,
who is a well-to-do man and a good fellow, and who has a very pretty and
buxom wife, by whom he has a fine boy, of the age of six or seven years.
We were all seated at supper, the inn-keeper, his wife, and her son,
who stood near her, being with us, and some began to talk, others to
sing and make good cheer, and our host did his best to make himself
His wife had been that day to the warm baths, and her little son with
her. So our host thought, to make the company laugh, to ask his son
about the people who were at the baths with his mother, (*) and said;
"Come here, my son, and tell me truly which of all the women at the
baths had the finest and the biggest c----?"
(*) The public baths were then much frequented, especially
by the lower classes. Men, women, and children all bathed
The child being questioned before his mother, whom he feared as children
usually do, looked at her, and did not speak.
The father, not expecting to find him so quiet, said again;
"Tell me, my son; who had the biggest c---- Speak boldly."
"I don't know, father," replied the child, still glancing at his mother.
"By God, you lie," said his father. "Tell me! I want to know."
"I dare not," said the boy, "my mother would beat me."
"No, she will not," said the father. "You need not mind. I will see she
does not hurt you."
Our hostess, the boy's mother, not thinking that her son would tell (as
he did) said to him.
"Answer boldly what your father asks you."
"You will beat me," he said.
"No, I will not," she replied.
The father, now that the boy had permission to speak, again asked;
"Well, my son, on your word, did you look at the c----s of all the women
who were at the baths?"
"By St. John, yes, father."
"Were there plenty of them? Speak, and don't lie."
"I never saw so many. It seemed a real warren of c----s."
"Well then; tell us now who had the finest and the biggest?"
"Truly," replied the boy, "mother had the finest and biggest--but _he_
had such a large nose."
"Such a large nose?" said the father. "Go along, go along! you are a
We all began to laugh and to drink, and to talk about the boy who
chattered so well. But his mother did not know which way to look, she
was so ashamed, because her son had spoken about a nose, and I expect
that he was afterwards well beaten for having told tales out of school.
Our host was a good fellow, but he afterwards repented having put
a question the answer to which made him blush. That is all for the
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