The Obliging Brother
By Monsieur De Villiers.
_Of a damsel who married a shepherd, and how the marriage was arranged,
and what a gentleman, the brother of the damsel, said._
As you are all ready to listen to me, and no one comes forward at the
present moment to continue this glorious and edifying book of a Hundred
Stories, I will relate an instance which happened formerly in Dauphine,
fit to be inc
uded in the number of the said novels.
A gentleman who lived in Dauphine, had in his house a sister, aged
about eighteen or twenty, who was a companion to his wife, who loved her
dearly, so that they agreed together like two sisters.
It happened that this gentleman was bidden to the house of a neighbour,
who lived a couple of short leagues away, to visit him, and took with
him his wife and sister. They went, and God knows how cordially they
The wife of the neighbour who invited them, took the wife and sister of
the said gentleman for a walk after supper, talking of various matters,
and they came to the hut of the shepherd, which was near a large and
fine park in which the sheep were kept, and found there the chief
shepherd looking after his flock. And--as women will--they enquired
about many and various things, and amongst others they asked if he was
not cold in his cottage? He replied he was not, and that he was more
comfortable in his hut than they were in their glazed, matted, and
They talked also of other matters, and some of their phrases had a
bawdy meaning; and the worthy shepherd, who was neither a fool nor a
blockhead, swore to them that he was prepared to undertake to do the job
eight or nine times in one night.
The sister of our gentleman cast amorous glances at the shepherd when
she heard this, and did not fail to tell him, when she found a fitting
opportunity, that he had made an impression on her, and that he was
to come to see her at her brother's house, and that she would make him
The shepherd, who saw she was a pretty girl, was not a little pleased at
this news, and promised to come and see her. And, in short, he did as he
had promised, and at the hour arranged between his lady-love and him was
in front of her window; and though it was a high and dangerous ascent,
nevertheless he accomplished it by means of a cord which she let down,
and a vine there was there, and was soon in her chamber, where, it need
not be said, he was heartily welcomed.
He showed that it was no empty boast he had made, for before daylight,
the stag had eight horns, at which the lady was greatly pleased. And
you must know that before the shepherd could come to the lady, he had
to walk two leagues, and swim the broad river, Rhone, which was close to
the house where his mistress lived; and when day came he had to recross
the Rhone, and return to his sheepfold; and he continued to do this for
a long time without being discovered.
During this time many gentlemen of that country demanded the hand of
this damsel turned shepherdess, in marriage, but not one of them was to
her taste; at which her brother was not best pleased, and said so many
times, but she was always well provided with answers and excuses.
She informed her lover, the shepherd, of all this, and one night she
promised him that, if he wished, she would never have any other husband
but him. He replied that he desired nothing better;
"But it can never be," he said; "on account of your brother and your
"Do not trouble yourself about that," she said, "let me manage as I like
and it will be all right."
So they plighted troth to one another. But soon after that there came a
gentleman to make a last request for the hand of the lady shepherdess,
and who said he would marry her if she were only dressed in the manner
becoming her station without any other portion. Her brother would have
willingly listened to this demand, and tried to persuade his sister to
give her consent, pointing out to her what her duty was in such a case;
but he could not succeed, at which he was much displeased.
When she saw that he was angry with her, she took him on one side, and
"Brother, you have long lectured me, and pressed me to marry such and
such a man, and I would never consent. Now I beg of you not to be angry
with or bear any resentment towards me, and I will tell you what has
prevented my acceding to any of these requests, if you will promise not
to be still more enraged against me."
Her brother willingly promised. When she had obtained this assurance,
she told him that she was as good as married already, and that as long
as she lived she would never have for husband any other man than the one
she would show him that night if he wished.
"I should much like to see him," replied her brother, "but who is he?"
"You will see in good time," she said.
At the accustomed hour the shepherd came, and climbed to the lady's
chamber, God knows how wet from having crossed the river. The brother
looked at him, and saw it was his neighbour's shepherd, and was in no
small degree astonished; and still more so was the shepherd, who would
have fled when he saw him.
"Stay! Stay!" said the gentleman, "there is nothing to fear."
"Is this," he added turning to his sister, "the man of whom you spoke to
"Yes, truly, brother," said she.
"Then make a good fire for him to warm himself," said the gentleman,
"for he much needs it. And do you regard him as your husband; and truly
you are not wrong to like him, for he has run great dangers for love of
you. And since the matter has gone so far, and you have the courage to
take him for a husband, never mind me, and cursed be he who does not
hurry on the marriage."
"Amen!" she said. "It shall be to-morrow, if you wish."
"I do wish," he replied; then turning to the shepherd.
"What do you say?"
"Whatever you wish."
"There is nothing else for it then," said the gentleman. "You are, and
shall be, my brother-in-law. Not so long ago our family was not noble;
so I may well have a shepherd for a brother-in-law."
To cut the story short, the gentleman consented to the marriage of his
sister to the shepherd; and it was performed, and they both continued
to live in his house, though it was much talked about throughout the
And when he was in some place where the affair was being talked
about, and surprise was expressed that he had not killed or beaten the
shepherd, the gentleman replied that he would never harm one whom his
sister loved; and that he would rather have for a brother-in-law, a
shepherd his sister liked, than some great man she did not like.
All this was said as a joke, and sportingly; for he was, and has always
been, a courteous and pleasant gentleman, and liked not to hear
his sister's name bandied about, even amongst his friends and boon