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The Woman With Three Husbands








By Philippe De Laon.

_Of a "fur hat" of Paris, who wished to deceive a cobbler's wife, but
over-reached, himself, for he married her to a barber, and thinking that
he was rid of her, would have wedded another, but she prevented him, as
you will hear more plainly hereafter._


About three years ago a noteworthy adventure happened to one of the
fur hats of the Parliament of Paris. (*) And that it should not be
forgotten, I relate this story, not that I hold all the "fur caps" to
be good and upright men; but because there was not a little, but a large
measure of duplicity about this particular one, which is a strange and
peculiar thing as every one knows.

(*) The councillors of Parliament wore a cap of fur,
bordered with ermine.

To come to my story, this fur hat,--that is to say this councillor of
Parliament,--fell in love with the wife of a cobbler of Paris,--a good,
and pretty woman, and ready-witted. The fur hat managed, by means of
money and other ways, to get an interview with the cobbler's fair wife
on the quiet and alone, and if he had been enamoured of her before he
enjoyed her, he was still more so afterwards, which she perceived and
was on her guard, and resolved to stand off till she obtained her price.

His love for her was at such fever heat, that by commands, prayers,
promises, and gifts, he tried to make her come to him, but she would
not, in order to aggravate and increase his malady. He sent ambassadors
of all sorts to his mistress, but it was no good--she would rather die
than come.

Finally--to shorten the story--in order to make her come to him as she
used formerly to do, he promised her in the presence of three or four
witnesses, that he would take her to wife if her husband died.

As soon as she obtained this promise, she consented to visit him
at various times when she could get away, and he continued to be as
love-sick as ever. She, knowing her husband to be old, and having the
aforesaid promise, already looked upon herself as the Councillor's wife.

But a short time afterwards, the much-desired death of the cobbler was
known and published, and his fair widow at once went with a bound to
the abode of the fur cap, who received her gladly, and again promised to
make her his wife.

These two good people--the fur cap, and his mistress, the cobbler's
widow--were now together; But it often happens that what can be got
without trouble is not worth the trouble of getting, and so it was in
this case, for our fur cap soon began to weary of the cobbler's widow,
and his love for her grew cold. She often pressed him to perform the
marriage he had promised, but he said;

"By my word, my dear, I can never marry, for I am a churchman, and hold
such and such benefices, as you know. The promise I formerly made you is
null and void, and was caused by the great love I bear you, to win you
to me the more easily."

She, believing that he did belong to the Church, and seeing that she was
as much mistress of his house as though she had been his wedded wife,
went her accustomed way, and never troubled more about the marriage; but
at last was persuaded by the fine words of our fur cap to leave him, and
marry a barber, their neighbour, to whom the Councillor gave 300
gold crowns, and God knows that the woman also was well provided with
clothes.

Now you must know that our fur cap had a definite object in arranging
this marriage, which would never have come off if he had not told
his mistress that in future he intended to serve God, and live on his
benefices, and give up everything to the Church. But he did just the
contrary, as soon as he had got rid of her by marrying her to the
barber; for about a year later, he secretly treated for the hand of the
daughter of a rich and notable citizen of Paris.

The marriage was agreed to and arranged, and a day fixed for the
wedding. He also disposed of his benefices, which were only held by
simple tonsure.

These things were known throughout Paris, and came to the knowledge of
the cobbler's widow, now the barber's wife, and, as you may guess, she
was much surprised.

"Oh, the traitor," she said; "has he deceived me like this? He deserted
me under pretence of serving God, and made me over to another man. But,
by Our Lady of Clery, the matter shall not rest here."

Nor did it, for she cited our fur cap before the Bishop, and there her
advocate stated his case clearly and courteously, saying that the
fur cap had promised the cobbler's wife, in the presence of several
witnesses, that if her husband died he would make her his wife. When
her husband died, the Councillor had kept her for about a year, and then
handed her over to a barber.

To shorten the story, the witnesses having been heard, and the case
debated, the Bishop annulled the marriage of the cobbler's widow to the
barber, and enjoined and commanded the fur cap to take her as his wife,
for so she was by right, since he had carnal connection with her after
the aforesaid promise.

Thus was our fur cap brought to his senses. He missed marrying the
citizen's fair daughter, and lost the 300 crowns, which the barber had
for keeping his wife for a year. And if the Councillor was ill-pleased
to have his old mistress again, the barber was glad enough to get rid of
her.

In the manner that you have heard, was one of the fur caps of the
Parliament of Paris once served.


*****





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