The Woman With Three Husbands

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of a "fur hat" of Paris, who wished to deceive a cobbler's wife, but

over-reached, himself, for he married her to a barber, and thinking that

he was rid of her, would have wedded another, but she prevented him, as

you will hear more plainly hereafter._

About three years ago a noteworthy adventure happened to one of the

fur hats of the Parliament of Paris.
*) And that it should not be

forgotten, I relate this story, not that I hold all the "fur caps" to

be good and upright men; but because there was not a little, but a large

measure of duplicity about this particular one, which is a strange and

peculiar thing as every one knows.

(*) The councillors of Parliament wore a cap of fur,

bordered with ermine.

To come to my story, this fur hat,--that is to say this councillor of

Parliament,--fell in love with the wife of a cobbler of Paris,--a good,

and pretty woman, and ready-witted. The fur hat managed, by means of

money and other ways, to get an interview with the cobbler's fair wife

on the quiet and alone, and if he had been enamoured of her before he

enjoyed her, he was still more so afterwards, which she perceived and

was on her guard, and resolved to stand off till she obtained her price.

His love for her was at such fever heat, that by commands, prayers,

promises, and gifts, he tried to make her come to him, but she would

not, in order to aggravate and increase his malady. He sent ambassadors

of all sorts to his mistress, but it was no good--she would rather die

than come.

Finally--to shorten the story--in order to make her come to him as she

used formerly to do, he promised her in the presence of three or four

witnesses, that he would take her to wife if her husband died.

As soon as she obtained this promise, she consented to visit him

at various times when she could get away, and he continued to be as

love-sick as ever. She, knowing her husband to be old, and having the

aforesaid promise, already looked upon herself as the Councillor's wife.

But a short time afterwards, the much-desired death of the cobbler was

known and published, and his fair widow at once went with a bound to

the abode of the fur cap, who received her gladly, and again promised to

make her his wife.

These two good people--the fur cap, and his mistress, the cobbler's

widow--were now together; But it often happens that what can be got

without trouble is not worth the trouble of getting, and so it was in

this case, for our fur cap soon began to weary of the cobbler's widow,

and his love for her grew cold. She often pressed him to perform the

marriage he had promised, but he said;

"By my word, my dear, I can never marry, for I am a churchman, and hold

such and such benefices, as you know. The promise I formerly made you is

null and void, and was caused by the great love I bear you, to win you

to me the more easily."

She, believing that he did belong to the Church, and seeing that she was

as much mistress of his house as though she had been his wedded wife,

went her accustomed way, and never troubled more about the marriage; but

at last was persuaded by the fine words of our fur cap to leave him, and

marry a barber, their neighbour, to whom the Councillor gave 300

gold crowns, and God knows that the woman also was well provided with


Now you must know that our fur cap had a definite object in arranging

this marriage, which would never have come off if he had not told

his mistress that in future he intended to serve God, and live on his

benefices, and give up everything to the Church. But he did just the

contrary, as soon as he had got rid of her by marrying her to the

barber; for about a year later, he secretly treated for the hand of the

daughter of a rich and notable citizen of Paris.

The marriage was agreed to and arranged, and a day fixed for the

wedding. He also disposed of his benefices, which were only held by

simple tonsure.

These things were known throughout Paris, and came to the knowledge of

the cobbler's widow, now the barber's wife, and, as you may guess, she

was much surprised.

"Oh, the traitor," she said; "has he deceived me like this? He deserted

me under pretence of serving God, and made me over to another man. But,

by Our Lady of Clery, the matter shall not rest here."

Nor did it, for she cited our fur cap before the Bishop, and there her

advocate stated his case clearly and courteously, saying that the

fur cap had promised the cobbler's wife, in the presence of several

witnesses, that if her husband died he would make her his wife. When

her husband died, the Councillor had kept her for about a year, and then

handed her over to a barber.

To shorten the story, the witnesses having been heard, and the case

debated, the Bishop annulled the marriage of the cobbler's widow to the

barber, and enjoined and commanded the fur cap to take her as his wife,

for so she was by right, since he had carnal connection with her after

the aforesaid promise.

Thus was our fur cap brought to his senses. He missed marrying the

citizen's fair daughter, and lost the 300 crowns, which the barber had

for keeping his wife for a year. And if the Councillor was ill-pleased

to have his old mistress again, the barber was glad enough to get rid of


In the manner that you have heard, was one of the fur caps of the

Parliament of Paris once served.