November 2, 2020
Today Oisille tells the story of a mule-driver’s wife who is so virtuous that she prefers to die than to give in to the “animal lust” of a man who sneaks into her bed while her husband is away. This brutish servant, says Oisille, “would have understood the language the mules spoke” better than he understands the woman’s appeals to reason and, indeed, is “even more bestial than the animals with whom he had spent much of his life.” He manages to rape her, but only after he has stabbed her with his sword twenty-five (!) times. With this story of the admirable death of a humble woman of unwavering Christian faith who rejoices as her soul leaves her body “to return to its Creator,” Marguerite de Navarre underlines the exemplary nature of her tales: the mule-driver’s wife should inspire the female storytellers to virtue just as her model led the wanton women of her own town to change their ways.
Our storytellers are moved to tears… prompting Oisille to ask Saffredent to tell them a funny tale to dry their eyes!