Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

By Monseigneur De Commensuram.

_Of a gentleman of Picardy who was enamoured of the wife of a knight his

neighbour; and how he obtained the lady's favours and was nearly caught

with her, and with great difficulty made his escape, as you will hear


Apropos of the previous story, there lived formerly in Picardy--and I

believe he is living there now--a gentlemen who was so e
amoured of the

wife of a knight, his neighbour, that he deemed no day or hour happy if

he were not with her, or at least had news of her;--and he was quite as

dear to her--which is no small matter.

But the misfortune was that they could find no means of meeting secretly

to open their hearts to each other, and in no case would they do so in

the presence of a third person, however good a friend he or she might

be. At last, after many sad nights and days, Love, who aids and succours

his loyal servants when he pleases, procured for them the much-desired

day, when the poor husband,--the most jealous man living--was obliged to

leave his house on account of some pressing business by which he would

gain a large sum if he were present, and would lose his money if he were

absent. By gaining which sum he reaped an even better reward--that of

being called a cuckold as well as a jealous man--for he had no sooner

left his house than the gentleman, who was watching for no other quarry,

popped into the house, and without staying long, at once performed that

for which he came, and received from his lady all that a lover can and

dare demand; as pleasantly and as leisurely as they could both wish.

And they did not suppose that the husband would surprise them, but

looked forward to a time of unalloyed pleasure, hoping that the night

would complete that which the most joyful day--by far too short--had

begun, and really believing that the poor devil of a husband could not

return before dinner-time the following day at the earliest.

But it happened otherwise, for the devil brought him home. I know not,

and care not to know how it was that he could get through his business

so quickly, suffice it to say that he came back that night, at which the

company--that is to say the two lovers--was much alarmed, and so taken

by surprise, (for they did not expect this inopportune return) that the

poor gentleman could think of nothing else to do than to hide in the

privy which was close to the chamber, hoping to escape by some means

that his mistress would find before the knight came into the chamber.

It chanced that our knight, who that day had ridden sixteen or eighteen

long leagues, was so tired and stiff that he would sup in his chamber,

where he had his boots taken off, and would not go to the dining-hall.

You may guess that the poor gentleman paid dear for the pleasure he had

had that day, for he was half dead with hunger, cold, and fear; and, to

aggravate his misfortune, he was taken with such a horrible cough

that it was wonderful that it was not heard in the chamber, where were

assembled, the knight, the lady, and the other knights of the household.

The lady, whose eyes and ears were open for any sign of her lover, heard

him by chance, and her heart sank within her, for she feared that her

husband would hear also. Soon after supper she found an opportunity to

go to the privy, and told her lover to take care, for God's sake, and

not cough like that.

"Alas, my dear," he said, "I cannot help it. God knows how I am

punished. And for God's sake think of some way of getting me out of


"I will," she said, and with that she went away, and the good squire

began his song over again, so loud indeed that he was much afraid he

would be heard in the chamber; and might have been had not the lady

talked very loudly in order to drown the noise.

When the squire had this fresh attack of coughing, he knew of nothing

better to do to prevent being heard than to stuff his head down the

hole of the privy, where he was well "incensed", God knows, by the stuff

therein, but he preferred that to being heard. In short, he was there a

long time, with his head down the hole, spitting, sniffing, and coughing

so much that it seemed as though he would never do anything else.

After this fit finished, the cough left him, and then he tried to draw

out his head, but it was not in his power, so far had he pushed his

shoulders through, and you may fancy that he was not very comfortable.

In short he could not find means to get out, try as he would. He scraped

his neck, and nearly pulled his ears off, and in the end, by God's will,

he pulled so hard that he tore away the seat of the privy, which

hung round his neck. It was beyond his power to get out of it, but

troublesome as it was, he preferred that to his previous position:

His mistress came and found him in that state, and was much astonished.

She could not help him, and all the consolation she could give him

was to tell him that she could find no means of getting him out of the


"Is that so?" he said. "Morbleu! I am well armed to fight any one, but I

must have a sword in my hand."

He was soon provided with a good one, and the lady, seeing his

extraordinary appearance, although her heart was lull of doubt and

uncertainty, could not refrain from laughing, and the squire also.

"Now I commend myself to God," he said. "I am going to try if I can get

out of the house; but first black my face well."

She did so, and recommended him to God, and the poor fellow, with the

seat of the privy round his neck, a drawn sword in his hand, and his

face blacker than charcoal, sallied out into the room, and by luck the

first person he met was the husband, who was in such mortal fear at the

sight of him--believing it was the Devil himself--that he tumbled full

length on the floor and nearly broke his neck, and was for a long time

in a swoon.

His wife, seeing him in this condition, came forward, and pretending to

show much more fear than she really felt, supported him in her arms, and

asked him what was the matter. As soon as he came to himself, he said in

broken accents, and with a piteous air; "Did you see that devil I met."

"Yes, I did," she replied, "and I nearly died of fright at the sight."

"Why does it come to our house?" he asked, "And who could have sent

it? I shall not recover myself for a year or two, I have been so


"Nor shall I, by God," said the pious lady. "I believe it must mean

something. May God keep us, and protect us from all evil fortune. My

heart forebodes some mischief from this vision."

Every one in the castle gave his or her version of the devil with a

drawn sword, and they all believed it was a real devil. The good lady,

who held the key of the mystery, was very glad to see them of that

opinion. Ever after that the said devil continued to do the work that

everyone does so willingly, though the husband, and everybody except a

discreet waiting woman, were ignorant of the fact.