A Bargain In Horns

By Monseigneur De Fiennes.

_Of a labourer who found a man with his wife, and forwent his revenge

for a certain quantity of wheat, but his wife insisted that he should

complete the work he had begun._

There lived formerly, in the district of Lille, a worthy man who was a

labourer and tradesman, and who managed, by the good offices of himself

and his friends, to obtain for a wife
a very pretty young girl, but who

was not rich, neither was her husband, but he was very covetous, and

diligent in business, and loved to gain money.

And she, for her part, attended to the household as her husband desired;

who therefore had a good opinion of her, and often went about his

business without any suspicion that she was other than good.

But whilst the poor man thus came and went, and left his wife alone,

a good fellow came to her, and, to cut the story short, was in a short

time the deputy for the trusting husband, who still believed that he

had the best wife in the world, and the one who most thought about the

increase of his honour and his worldly wealth.

It was not so, for she gave him not the love she owed him, and cared not

whether he had profit or loss by her. The good merchant aforesaid, being

out as usual, his wife soon informed her friend, who did not fail to

come as he was desired, at once. And not to lose his time, he approached

his mistress, and made divers amorous proposals to her, and in short

the desired pleasure was not refused him any more than on the former

occasions, which had not been few.

By bad luck, whilst the couple were thus engaged, the husband arrived,

and found them at work, and was much astonished, for he did not know

that his wife was a woman of that sort.

"What is this?" he said. "By God's death, scoundrel, I will kill you on

the spot."

The other, who had been caught in the act, and was much scared, knew

not what to say, but as he was aware that the husband was miserly and

covetous, he said quickly:

"Ah, John, my friend, I beg your mercy; pardon me if I have done you any

wrong, and on my word I will give you six bushels of wheat."

"By God!" said he, "I will do nothing of the kind. You shall die by my

hands and I will have your life if I do not have twelve bushels."

The good wife, who heard this dispute, in order to restore peace, came

forward, and said to her husband.

"John, dear, let him finish what he has begun, I beg, and you shall have

eight bushels. Shall he not?" she added, turning to her lover.

"I am satisfied," he said, "though on my oath it is too much, seeing how

dear corn is."

"It is too much?" said the good man. "Morbleu! I much regret that I did

not say more, for you would have to pay a much heavier fine if you were

brought to justice: however, make up your mind that I will have twelve

bushels, or you shall die."

"Truly, John," said his wife, "you are wrong to contradict me. It seems

to me that you ought to be satisfied with eight bushels, for you know

that is a large quantity of wheat."

"Say no more," he replied, "I will have twelve bushels, or I will kill

him and you too."

"The devil," quoth the lover; "you drive a bargain; but at least, if I

must pay you, let me have time."

"That I agree to, but I will have my twelve bushels."

The dispute ended thus, and it was agreed that he was to pay in two

instalments,--six bushels on the morrow, and the others on St. Remy's

day, then near.

All this was arranged by the wife, who then said to her husband.

"You are satisfied, are you not, to receive your wheat in the manner I

have said?"

"Certainly," he replied.

"Then go," she said, "whilst he finishes the work he had begun when you

interrupted him; otherwise the contract will not be binding."

"By St. John! is it so?" said the lover.

"I always keep my word," said the good merchant. "By God, no man shall

say I am a cheat or a liar. You will finish the job you have begun, and

I am to have my twelve bushels of wheat on the terms agreed. That was

our contract--was it not?"

"Yes, truly," said his wife.

"Good bye, then," said the husband, "but at any rate be sure that I have

six bushels of wheat to-morrow."

"Don't be afraid," said the other. "I will keep my word." So the good

man left the house, quite joyful that he was to have twelve bushels of

wheat, and his wife and her lover recommenced more heartily than ever. I

have heard that the wheat was duly delivered on the dates agreed.