Story 58

December 28, 2020

Having promised to demonstrate women’s deception of men, Dagoucin tells about a cunning lady at the court of François I who takes revenge on a gentleman she deems insufficiently devoted to her. She invites him to her upstairs room, then engages two of her friends, Madame Marguerite (the king’s daughter) and the Duchess of Montpensier, to join her in shouting “Help! Thief!” when he starts to climb the stairs to her room. The tale includes plenty of humor, as the unsuspecting gentleman pulls his cloak up to hide his face and goes outside and inside, downstairs and up, out one entrance and in another, all to avoid being detected, but he finally reaches the designated staircase. The plan works to perfection. When the three women tease him mercilessly, he insists that he was just playing along to give them a laugh, but they are not persuaded, although Dagoucin remarks that “there is still some doubt about the whole business.”

In the short discussion following this story, Parlamente states that wise women listen only to men who tell the truth. Simontaut is not worried, however, expressing his assurance that there are plenty of women who fall for men’s “fine speeches and humble supplications.”

Here’s a wintry view of the Château de Blois, another of the castles renovated and expanded by François I. The wing on the right constructed during his reign features this stunning exposed spiral staircase, one of dozens of staircases in the castle.

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