The Butcher's Wife Who Played The Ghost In The Chimney

By Michault De Changy.

_Of a Jacobin who left his mistress, a butcher's wife, for another woman

who was younger and prettier, and how the said butcher's wife tried to

enter his house by the chimney._

It happened formerly at Lille, that a famous clerk and preacher of the

order of St. Dominic, converted, by his holy and eloquent preaching,

the wife of a butcher; in such wise that
she loved him more than all the

world, and was never perfectly happy when he was not with her.

But in the end Master Monk tired of her, and wished that she would not

visit him so often, at which she was as vexed as she could be, but the

rebuff only made her love him the more.

The monk, seeing that, forbade her to come to his chamber, and charged

his clerk not to admit her, whatever she might say; at which she was

more vexed and infuriated than ever, and small marvel.

If you ask me why the monk did this, I should reply that it was not from

devotion, or a desire to lead a chaste life, but that he had made the

acquaintance of another woman, who was prettier, much younger, and

richer, and with whom he was on such terms that she had a key to his


Thus it was that the butcher's wife never came to him, as she had been

accustomed, so that his new mistress could in all leisure and security

come and gain her pardons and pay her tithe, like the women of

Ostelleria, of whom mention has been made.

One day, after dinner, there was a great feast held in the chamber of

Master Monk, and his mistress had promised to come and bring her

share both of wine and meat. And as some of the other brothers in that

monastery were of the same kidney, he secretly invited two or three of

them; and God knows they had good cheer at this dinner, which did not

finish without plenty of drink.

Now you must know that the butcher's wife was acquainted with many of

the servants of these preachers, and she saw them pass her house, some

bearing wine, some pasties, some tarts, and so many other things that it

was wonderful.

She could not refrain from asking what feast was going forward at

their house? And the answer was that all this dainties were for such an

one,--that is to say her monk--who had some great people to dinner.

"And who are they?" she asked.

"Faith! I know not," he said. "I only carry my wine to the door, and

there our master takes it from us. I know not who is there!"

"I see," she said, "that it is a secret. Well, well! go on and do your


Soon there passed another servant, of whom she asked the same questions,

and he replied as his fellow had done, but rather more, for he said,

"I believe there is a damsel there;--but she wishes her presence to be

neither seen nor known."

She guessed who it was, and was in a great rage, and said to herself

that she would keep an eye upon the woman who had robbed her of the love

of her friend, and, no doubt, if she had met her she would have read her

a pretty lesson, and scratched her face.

She set forth with the intention of executing the plan she had

conceived. When she arrived at the place, she waited long to meet the

person she most hated in the world, but she had not the patience to wait

till her rival came out of the chamber where the feast was being held,

so at last she determined to use a ladder that a tiler, who was at work

at the roof, had left there whilst he went to dinner.

She placed this ladder against the kitchen chimney of the house, with

the intention of dropping in and saluting the company, for she knew well

that she could not enter in any other way.

The ladder being placed exactly as she wished it, she ascended it to

the chimney, round which she tied a fairly thick cord that by chance she

found there. Having tied that firmly, as she believed, she entered the

said chimney and began to descend; but the worst of it was that she

stuck there without being able to go up or down, however much she

tried--and this was owing to her backside being so big and heavy, and to

the fact that the cord broke, so that she could not climb back. She was

in sore distress, God knows, and did not know what to say or do. She

reflected that it would be better to await the arrival of the tiler, and

make an appeal to him when he came to look for his ladder and his rope;

but this hope was taken from her, for the tiler did not come to work

until the next morning, on account of the heavy rain, of which she had

her share, for she was quite drenched.

When the evening grew late, the poor woman heard persons talking in

the kitchen, whereupon she began to shout, at which they were much

astonished and frightened, for they knew not who was calling them,

or whence the voice came. Nevertheless, astonished as they were, they

listened a little while, and heard the voice now in front and now

behind, shrieking shrilly. They believed it was a spirit, and went to

tell their master, who was in the dormitory, and was not brave enough to

come and see what it was, but put it off till the morning.

You may guess what long hours the poor woman spent, being all night in

the chimney. And, by bad luck, it rained heavily for a long time.

The next day, early in the morning, the tiler came to work, to make

up for the time the rain had made him lose on the previous day. He was

quite astonished to find his ladder in another place than where he left

it, and the rope tied round the chimney, and did not know who had done

it. He determined to fetch the rope, and mounted the ladder and came

to the chimney, and undid the cord, and put his head down the chimney,

where he saw the butcher's wife, looking more wretched than a drowned

cat, at which he was much astonished.

"What are you doing here, dame?" he asked. "Do you want to rob the poor

monks who live here?"

"Alas, friend," she replied, "by my oath I do not. I beg of you to help

me to get out, and I will give you whatever you ask."

"I will do nothing of the kind," he said, "if I do not know who you are

and whence you come."

"I will tell you if you like," she said, "but I beg of you not to repeat


Then she told him all about her love affair with the monk, and why she

had come there. The tiler took pity on her, and with some trouble,

and by means of his rope, pulled her out, and brought her down to the

ground. And she promised him that if he held his tongue she would give

him beef and mutton enough to supply him and his family all the year,

which she did. And the other kept the matter so secret that everybody

heard of it.