Story 37

December 7, 2020

After hearing two stories about unfaithful wives punished harshly (one beaten and one poisoned) by their husbands, Dagoucin tells us about an unfaithful husband who is punished—and reformed—by his wife. In this tale, the wife first tries bringing her husband a bowl of water so that he can wash his hands when he returns to her from a night away, offering him an opportunity for material and spiritual cleansing (although he says he has “only been to the privy and [has] no need of a wash”!), a tactic she keeps up for a whole year. When her efforts are to no avail, she moves from water to fire, finding her husband in bed with a chambermaid one night and proceeding to burn some straw in the middle of the room. Not wanting to kill him—unlike the vengeful husband in story 36—she awakens and admonishes him. He promises to change his ways, and they live from then on in affection and happiness.

Our storytellers’ discussion—again, as long as the story itself—focuses on marriage. In Sigmund Freudenberg’s illustration for this story (from a lavish edition of the Heptameron published in Bern in 1780-1781), shows Madame de Loué offering her husband a bowl of water.

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