TALE VIII. A certain Bornet, less loyal to his wife than she to him,desired to lie with his maidservant, and made his enterpriseknown to a friend, who, hoping to share in the spoil, soaided and abetted him, that whilst the husband thought tolie with his servant he in truth lay with his wife. Unknownto the latter, he then caused his friend to participate inthe pleasure which rightly belonged to himself alone, andthus made himself a cuckold without there being any guilt onthe part of his wife. (1)
In the county of Alletz (2) there lived a man named Bornet, who being married to an upright and virtuous wife, had great regard for her honour and reputation, as I believe is the case with all the husbands here present in respect to their own wives. But although he desired that she should be true to him, he was not willing that the same law should apply to both, for he fell in love with his maid-servant, from whom he had nothing to gain save the pleasure afforded by a diversity of viands.1 For a list of tales similar to this one, see post,Appendix A.2 Alletz, now Alais, a town of Lower Languedoc (departmentof the Gard), lies on the Gardon, at the foot of theCevennes mountains. It was formerly a county, the titlehaving been held by Charles, Duke of Angoulême, natural sonof Charles IX.—M.
Now he had a neighbour of the same condition as his own, named Sandras, a tabourer (3) and tailor by trade, and there was such friendship between them that, excepting Bornet's wife, they had all things in common. It thus happened that Bornet told his friend of the enterprise he had in hand against the maid-servant; and Sandras not only approved of it, but gave all the assistance he could to further its accomplishment, hoping that he himself might share in the spoil.3 Tabourers are still to be found in some towns of LowerLanguedoc and in most of those of Provence, where theyperambulate the streets playing their instruments. They arein great request at all the country weddings and otherfestive gatherings, as their instruments supply thenecessary accompaniment to the ancient Provençal dance, thefarandole.—Ed.
The maid-servant, however, was loth to consent, and finding herself hard pressed, she went to her mistress, told her of the matter, and begged leave to go home to her kinsfolk, since she could no longer endure to live in such torment. Her mistress, who had great love for her husband and had often suspected him, was well pleased to have him thus at a disadvantage, and to be able to show that she had doubted him justly. Accordingly, she said to the servant—
"Remain, my girl, but lead my husband on by degrees, and at last make an appointment to lie with him in my closet. Do not fail to tell me on what night he is to come, and see that no one knows anything about it."
The maid-servant did all that her mistress had commanded her, and her master in great content went to tell the good news to his friend. The latter then begged that, since he had been concerned in the business, he might have part in the result....