The Man Above And The Man Below
By Monsigneur De La Roche.
_Of a married woman who gave rendezvous to two lovers, who came and
visited her, and her husband came soon after, and of the words which
passed between them, as you shall presently hear._
I knew in my time a brave and worthy woman, deserving to be remembered
and respected, for her virtues should not be hidden and kept dark, but
publicly blazoned to th
world. You will shortly hear, if you will, in
this story something which will increase and magnify her fame.
This gallant wench was married to a countryman of ours, and had many
lovers seeking and desiring her favours,--which were not over difficult
to obtain, for she was so kind and compassionate that she both would and
could bestow herself freely whenever she liked.
It happened one day that two men came to see her, as both were
accustomed, to ask for a rendezvous. She would not have retreated before
two or even three, and appointed a day and hour for each to come to
her--the one at eight o'clock the morrow morning, and the other at
nine, and charged each one expressly that he should not fail to keep his
They promised on their faith and honour that if they were alive they
would keep their assignation.
When the morrow came, at about 6 o'clock in the morning, the husband
of this brave wench rose, dressed himself, and called his wife, but she
bluntly refused to get up when ordered.
"Faith!" she said, "I have such a headache that I cannot stand on my
feet, or if I did get up I should die, I am so weak and worn-out; and,
as you know, I did not sleep all the night. I beg of you to leave me
here, and I hope that when I am alone I shall get a little rest."
Her husband, though he suspected something, did not dare to contradict
her or reply, but went about his business in the town, whilst his wife
was not idle at home, for eight o'clock had no sooner struck than the
honest fellow, to whom on the previous day an assignation had been
given, came and knocked at the door, and she let him in. He soon took
off his long gown and his other clothes, and joined madame in bed, in
order to cheer her up.
Whilst these two were locked in each other's arms, and otherwise
engaged, the time passed quickly without her noticing it, when she heard
some one knock loudly at the door.
"Ah!" she said, "as I live, there is my husband; make haste and take
"Your husband?" he said, "Why, do you know his knock?"
"Yes," she replied, "I know it very well. Make haste lest he find you
"If it be your husband, he must find me here, for I know not where I can
"No, please God, he must not find you here, for you would be killed and
so should I, he is so terrible. Get up into this little attic, and keep
quite quiet and do not move, that he may not find you here."
The other climbed into the garret as he was told, and found the planks
stripped away in many places, and the laths broken.
As soon as he was safe, mademoiselle made one bound to the door, knowing
very well that it was not her husband who was there, and let in the
man who had promised to come to her at nine o'clock. They came into
the chamber, where they were not long on their feet, but laid down and
cuddled and kissed in the same manner as he in the garret had done,
whilst he, through a chink, kept his eye on the couple, and was not best
pleased. He could not make up his mind whether he should speak or hold
his tongue. At last he determined to keep silence, and not say a word
till the opportunity came,--and you may guess that he had plenty of
Whilst he was waiting and looking at the lady engaged with the last
comer, the worthy husband came home to enquire after the health of his
good wife, as it was very proper of him to do.
She soon heard him, and as quickly as may be, made her lover get out of
bed, and as she did not know where to hide him, since she could not put
him in the garret, she made him lie down between the bed and the wall,
and covered him with his clothes, and said to him.
"I have no better place to put you--have a little patience."
She had hardly finished speaking when her husband came into the room,
and though he had heard nothing, he found the bed all rumpled and tossed
about, the quilt dirty and soiled, and looking more like the bed of a
bride than the couch of an invalid.
The doubts he had formerly entertained, combined with the appearance of
the bed, made him call his wife by her name, and say.
"Wicked whore that you are! I did not believe you when you shammed
illness this morning! Where is the whoremonger? I swear to God, if I
find him, he will have a bad end, and you too." Then, putting his hand
on the quilt, he went on. "This looks nice, doesn't it? It looks as
though the pigs had slept on it!"
"What is the matter with you, you nasty drunkard?" she replied. "Why
make me suffer when you get too much wine in your belly? That's a nice
salutation, to call me a whore! I would have you to know that I am
nothing of the kind, but much too virtuous and too honest for a rascal
like you, and my only regret is that I have been so good to you, for
you are not worth it. I do not know why I do not get up and scratch
your face in such a manner that you would remember it all your life, for
having abused me without cause."
If you ask how she dared reply to her husband in this manner, I should
answer there were two reasons,--that is she had both right and might on
her side. For, as you may guess, if it had come to blows, both the
lover in the garret, and the one by the bed, would have come to her
The poor husband did not know what to say when he heard his wife abuse
him thus, and as he saw that big words were of no use, he left the
matter to God, who does justice to all, and replied;
"You make many excuses for your palpable faults, but I care little what
you say. I am not going to quarrel and make a noise; there is One above
who will repay all!"
By "One above", he meant God,--as though he had said,
"God, who gives everyone his due, will repay you according to your
deserts." But the gallant who was in the garret, and heard these words,
really believed they were meant for him, and that he was expected to pay
for the misdeeds of another besides himself, and he replied aloud;
"What? Surely it will suffice if I pay half! The man who is down by the
side of the bed can pay the other half--he is as much concerned as I
You may guess that the husband was much astonished, for he thought that
God was speaking to him; and the man by the bed did not know what to
think, for he knew nothing about the existence of the other man. He
quickly jumped up, and the other man came down, and they recognised each
They went off together, and left the couple looking vexed and angry, but
they did not trouble much about that and for good reason.