The Match-making Priest
By Monseigneur De La Roche.
_Of a village priest who found a husband for a girl with whom he was in
love, and who had promised him that when she was married she would do
whatever he wished, of which he reminded her on the wedding-day, and the
husband heard it, and took steps accordingly, as you will hear._
In the present day they are many priests and cures who are good fellows
and who can as easily commit follies and imprudences as laymen can.
In a pretty village of Picardy, there lived formerly a cure of a
lecherous disposition. Amongst the other pretty girls and women of his
parish, he cast eyes on a young and very pretty damsel of nubile age,
and was bold enough to tell her what he wanted.
Won over by his fair words, and the hundred thousand empty promises he
made, she was almost ready to listen to his requests, which would have
been a great pity, for she was a nice and pretty girl with pleasant
manners, and had but one fault,--which was that she was not the most
quick-witted person in the world.
I do not know why it occurred to her to answer him in that manner, but
one day she told the cure, when he was making hot love to her, that she
was not inclined to do what he required until she was married, for if
by chance, as happened every day, she had a baby, she would always be
dishonoured and reproached by her father, mother, brothers, and all her
family, which she could not bear, nor had she strength to sustain the
grief and worry which such a misfortune would entail.
"Nevertheless, if some day I am married, speak to me again, and I will
do what I can for you, but not otherwise; so give heed to what I say and
believe me once for all."
The cure was not over-pleased at this definite reply, bold and sensible
as it was, but he was so amorous that he would not abandon all hope, and
said to the girl;
"Are you so firmly decided, my dear, not to do anything for me until you
"Certainly, I am," she replied.
"And if you are married, and I am the means and the cause, you will
remember it afterwards, and honestly and loyally perform what you have
"By my oath, yes," she said, "I promise you."
"Thank you," he said, "make your mind easy, for I promise you faithfully
that if you are not married soon it will not be for want of efforts or
expense on my part, for I am sure that you cannot desire it more than
I do; and in order to prove that I am devoted to you soul and body, you
will see how I will manage this business."
"Very well, monsieur le cure," she said, "we shall see what you will
With that she took leave of him, and the good cure, who was madly in
love with her, was not satisfied till he had seen her father. He talked
over various matters with him, and at last the worthy priest spoke to
the old man about his daughter, and said,
"Neighbour, I am much astonished, as also are many of your neighbours
and friends, that you do not let your daughter marry. Why do you keep
her at home when you know how dangerous it is? Not that--God forbid--I
say, or wish to say, that she is not virtuous, but every day we see
girls go wrong because they do not marry at the proper age. Forgive me
for so openly stating my opinion, but the respect I have for you, and
the duty I owe you as your unworthy pastor, require and compel me to
tell you this."
"By the Lord, monsieur le cure," said the good man, "I know that your
words are quite true, and I thank you for them, and do not think that
I have kept her so long at home from any selfish motive, for if her
welfare is concerned I will do all I can for her, as I ought. You would
not wish, nor is it usual, that I should buy a husband for her, but if
any respectable young man should come along, I will do everything that a
good father should."
"Well said," replied the cure, "and on my word, you could not do better
than marry her off quickly. It is a great thing to be able to see your
grandchildren round you before you become too old. What do you say
to so-and-so, the son of your neighbour?--He seems to me a good,
hard-working man, who would make a good husband."
"By St. John!" said the old man, "I have nothing but good to say about
him. For my own part, I know him to be a good young man and a good
worker. His father and mother, and all his relatives, are respectable
people, and if they do me the honour to ask my daughter's hand in
marriage for him, I shall reply in a manner that will satisfy them."
"You could not say more," replied the cure, "and, if it please God, the
matter shall be arranged as I wish, and as I know for a fact that this
marriage would be to the benefit of both parties, I will do my best to
farther it, and with this I will now say farewell to you."
If the cure had played his part well with the girl's father, he was
quite as clever in regard to the father of the young man. He began with
a preamble to the effect that his son was of an age to marry, and ought
to settle down, and brought a hundred thousand reasons to show that the
world would be lost if his son were not soon married.
"Monsieur le cure," replied also the second old man, "there is much
truth in what you say, and if I were now as well off as I was, I know
not how many years ago, he would not still be unmarried; for there is
nothing in the world I desire more than to see him settled, but want
of money has prevented it, and so he must have patience until the Lord
sends us more wealth than we have at present."
"Then," said the cure, "if I understand you aright, it is only money
that is wanting."
"Faith! that is so," said the old man. "If I had now as much as I had
formerly, I should soon seek a wife for him."
"I have concerned myself," said the cure, "because I desire the welfare
and prosperity of your son, and find that the daughter of such an one
(that is to say his ladylove) would exactly suit him. She is pretty and
virtuous, and her father is well off, and, as I know, would give
some assistance, and--which is no small matter--is a wise man of good
counsel, and a friend to whom you and your son could have recourse. What
do you say?"
"Certainly," said the good man, "if it please God that my son should be
fortunate enough to be allied to such a good family; and if I thought
that he could anyhow succeed in that, I would get together what money I
could, and would go round to all my friends, for I am sure that he could
never find anyone more suitable."
"I have not chosen badly then," said the cure. "And what would you say
if I spoke about this matter to her father, and conducted it to its
desired end, and, moreover, lent you twenty francs for a certain period
that we could arrange?"
"By my oath, monsieur le cure," said the good man, "you offer me more
than I deserve. If you did this, you would render a great service to me
"Truly," answered the cure, "I have not said anything that I do not mean
to perform; so be of good cheer, for I hope to see this matter at an
To shorten matters, the cure, hoping to have the woman when once she
was married, arranged the matter so well that, with the twenty francs he
lent, the marriage was settled, and the wedding day arrived.
Now it is the custom that the bride and bridegroom confess on that day.
The bridegroom came first, and when he had finished, he withdrew to a
little distance saying his orisons and his paternosters. Then came the
bride, who knelt down before the cure and confessed. When she had said
all she had to say, he spoke to her in turn, and so loudly, that the
bridegroom, who was not far off, heard every word, and said,
"My dear, I beg you to remember now the promise you formerly made me.
You promised me that when you were married that I should ride you; and
now you are married, thank God, by my means and endeavours, and through
the money that I have lent."
"Monsieur le cure," she said, "have no fear but what I will keep the
promise I have made, if God so please."
"Thank you," he replied, and then gave her absolution after this devout
confession, and suffered her to depart.
The bridegroom, who had heard these words, was not best pleased, but
nevertheless thought it not the right moment to show his vexation.
After all the ceremonies at the church were over, the couple returned
home, and bed-time drew near. The bridegroom whispered to a friend of
his whom he dearly loved, to fetch a big handful of birch rods, and hide
them secretly under the bed, and this the other did.
When the time came, the bride went to bed, as is the custom, and kept
to the edge of the bed, and said not a word. The bridegroom came soon
after, and lay on the other edge of the bed without approaching her, or
saying a word and in the morning he rose without doing anything else,
and hid his rods again under the bed.
When he had left the room, there came several worthy matrons who found
the bride in bed, and asked her how the night had passed, and what she
thought of her husband?
"Faith!" she said, "there was his place over there"--pointing to the
edge of the bed--"and here was mine. He never came near me, and I never
went near him."
They were all much astonished, and did not know what to think, but
at last they agreed that if he had not touched her, it was from some
religious motive, and they thought no more of it for that once.
The second night came, and the bride lay down in the place she had
occupied the previous night, and the bridegroom, still furnished with
his rods, did the same and nothing more; and this went on for two more
nights, at which the bride was much displeased, and did not fail to tell
the matrons the next day, who knew not what to think.
"It is to be feared he is not a man, for he has continued four nights in
that manner. He must be told what he has to do; so if to-night he does
not begin,"--they said to the bride--"draw close to him and cuddle
and kiss him, and ask him if married people do not do something else
besides? And if he should ask you what you want him to do? tell him that
you want him to ride you, and you will hear what he will say."
"I will do so," she said.
She failed not, for that night she lay in her usual place, and her
husband took up his old quarters, and made no further advances than he
had on the previous nights. So she turned towards him, and throwing her
arms round him, said;
"Come here husband! Is this the pleasant time I was to expect? This is
the fifth night I have slept with you, and you have not deigned to come
near me! On my word I should never have wished to be married if I had
not thought married people did something else."
"And what did they tell you married people did?" he asked.
"They say," she replied, "that the one rides the other. I want you to
"Ride!" he said. "I would not like to do that.--I would not be so
"Oh, I beg of you to do it--for that is what married people do."
"You want me to do it?" he asked.
"I beg of you to do it," she said, and so saying she kissed him
"By my oath!" he said, "I will do it, since you ask me to though much
to my regret, for I am sure that you will not like it."
Without saying another word he took his stock of rods, and stripped his
wife, and thrashed her soundly, back and belly, legs and thighs, till
she was bathed in blood. She screamed, she cried, she struggled, and
it was piteous to see her, and she cursed the moment that she had ever
asked to be ridden.
"I told you so," said her husband, and then took her in his arms and
"rode" her so nicely that she forgot the pain of the beating.
"What do you call that you have just done?" she asked.
"It is called," he said, "'to blow up the backside'."
"Blow up the backside!" she said. "The expression is not so pretty as
'to ride', but the operation is much nicer, and, now that I have learned
the difference, I shall know what to ask for in future."
Now you must know that the cure was always on the look-out for when the
newly married bride should come to church, to remind her of her promise.
The first time she appeared, he sidled up to the font, and when she
passed him, he gave her holy water, and said in a low voice,
"My dear! you promised me that I should ride you when you were married!
You are married now, thank God, and it is time to think when and how you
will keep your word."
"Ride?" she said. "By God, I would rather see you hanged or drowned!
Don't talk to me about riding. But I will let you blow up my backside if
"And catch your quartain fever!" said the cure, "beastly dirty,
ill-mannered whore that you are! Am I to be rewarded after all I have
done for you, by being permitted to blow up your backside!"
So the cure went off in a huff, and the bride took her seat that she
might hear the holy Mass, which the good cure was about to read.
And thus, in the manner which you have just heard, did the cure lose his
chance of enjoying the girl, by his own fault and no other's, because he
spoke too loudly to her the day when he confessed her, for her husband
prevented him, in the way described above, by making his wife believe
that the act of 'riding' was called 'to blow up the backside'.