Story 59

December 29, 2020

Today, Longarine tells us more about the woman in the previous tale, relating an incident in which she tricked her husband just as she had tricked the gentleman in story 58. Here, finding out that her husband is making advances to one of her chambermaids, she persuades the girl to encourage him so that she can catch him in the act (or, rather, just before it!) and guilt him into taking her to court as much as she wants and buying her all the finery she desires.   

The discussion following this tale shows Hircan in all his misogynist glory, as he criticizes the husband for having given up his attack on the chambermaid, remarking, “I’d have picked my wife up in my arms and carried her outside, then gone back in to do what I pleased with the chambermaid, by love or by force!” He is quick to reassure Parlamente that he loves her so much she needn’t fear he will stray, however. As in the discussion of story 35, she says that she chooses to trust him, observing, “As for what I’ve not known, I’ve not felt disposed to be suspicious, and even less to inquire.”

Part of the trick in this tale involves the woman taking over her husband’s hand in a game of cards called cent. The first playing cards appeared in Europe in the late fourteenth century. Here is a set of uncut playing cards, called the “Piquet de Charles VII” (BnF, Estampes, Kh 30 a Rés. fol.), printed at the beginning of the sixteenth century, possibly in Lyon.

For more on the history of games, check out this excellent online exhibition (in French) from the Bibliothèque nationale de France!

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