The Calf

By Monseigneur de la Roche

_Of a Dutchman, who at all hours of the day and night ceased not to

dally with his wife in love sports; and how it chanced that he laid her

down, as they went through a wood, under a great tree in which was a

labourer who had lost his calf. And as he was enumerating the charms of

his wife, and naming all the pretty things he could see, the labourer

asked him if he could not see
he calf he sought, to which the Dutchman

replied that he thought he could see a tail._

In the borders of Holland there formerly lived a foolish fellow, who

determined to do the worst thing he could--that is, get married. And so

entranced was he with the joys of wedlock, that although it was winter,

he was so heated that the night--which at that season was nine or ten

hours--was not sufficiently long to enable him to appease the ardent

desires which he felt.

Wherever he met his wife he put her on her back; whether it was in the

chamber, or in the stable, or any other place, he always attacked her.

And this did not last only one or two months, but longer than I care to

tell, for it would not be convenient that many women should hear of the

zeal of this insatiable worker. What more shall I say? He performed

so often that his memory has never been forgotten, or will be, in that

country. And in truth the woman who formerly complained to the Bailli of

Amiens had not such good cause as this man's wife, but, notwithstanding

that she could often have dispensed with this pleasant task she was

always obedient to her husband, and never restive under the spur.

It chanced one day, after dinner, when the weather was very fine, and

the sun shot its rays over the flower-embroidered earth, that the fancy

came to this man and his wife that they two would go alone to the woods,

and they started on their road.

Now, in order that you may learn my story, let me tell you that exactly

at the same time as these good folk went forth to play in the wood, it

chanced that a labourer had lost his calf, which he had put to graze in

a field at the edge of the wood; but when he came to search for his calf

he could not find it, at which he was sad at heart.

So he set out to search for the said calf both in the wood and in the

fields, and the places round about, to gather news of it.

He bethought him that perchance it might have wandered into some thicket

to graze, or to some grassy ditch which it would not leave till it had

filled its belly; and to the end that he might the better see, without

running hither and thither, whether his surmise was right, he chose the

highest and thickest tree that he could find, and climbed into it, and

when he had climbed to the top of his tree, from whence he could see all

the adjacent fields and wood, he was sure that he was half-way towards

finding his calf.

Whilst the honest fellow was casting his eyes on all sides to find

his calf, there came through the wood our man and his wife, singing,

playing, and rejoicing, as light hearts will do in a pleasant place. Nor

was it wonderful that the desire came to him to tumble his wife in such

a pleasant and suitable place, and looking now to the right now to the

left for a spot where he might conveniently take his pleasure, he saw

the big tree in which was the labourer--though he knew it not--and under

that tree he prepared to accomplish his pleasant purposes.

And when he came to that place, his desires soon inflamed him, and he

waited not to begin his work, but attacked his wife and threw her on the

ground, for at that time he was very merry and his wife also.

He would fain see her both before and behind, and for that reason took

off her dress, so that she was only in her petticoat, and that he pulled

up very high in spite of her efforts, and that he might the better see

at his ease her beauties, he turned her this way and that, and three

or four times did his strong hand fall upon her big buttocks. Then he

turned her on the other side, and as he had regarded her backside,

so did he her front, to which the good, honest woman would in no wise

consent, and besides the resistance that she made, her tongue was not


She called him "ungracious", "a fool", "a madman", "disgusting", and

many other things, but it was no good; he was stronger than she was,

and would make an inventory of all her charms, and she was forced to

let him,--preferring, like a wise woman, to please her husband, than to

annoy him by a refusal.

Having broken down all her defences, this valiant man feasted his eyes

on her front part, and, shame to say, was not content until his hands

had revealed to his eyes all the secrets for which he searched.

And as he was profoundly studying her body, he would say, "I see this!

I see that! Now again this! Now again that!" until whosoever heard him

would have thought he saw all the world and much beside. And, finally,

after a long and thorough examination, he cried, "Holy Mary! what a lot

of things I see!"

"Alas, good people," then said the labourer in the tree; "you do not

happen to see my calf? It seems to me, sir, that I can see its tail."

The other was much vexed and astonished, and replied quickly,

"That tail is not the tail of your calf," and with that he walked away,

and his wife after him.

If it should be asked what moved the labourer to put that question, the

writer of this story would reply that the hair in front of this woman

was very long and thick, as is usual with the Dutch women, and he might

well have thought it was the tail of his calf, and as also her husband

was saying that he could see so many things--nearly everything there was

in the world--the labourer thought to himself that the calf could hardly

be far off, but might be hidden inside along with the other things.