The Armed Cuckold
_The fourth tale is of a Scotch archer who was in love with a fair
and gentle dame, the wife of a mercer, who, by her husband's orders
appointed a day for the said Scot to visit her, who came and treated her
as he wished, the said mercer being hid by the side of the bed, where he
could see and hear all._
When the king was lately in the city of Tours, a Scottish g
archer of his bodyguard, was greatly enamoured of a beautiful and gentle
damsel married to a mercer; and when he could find time and place,
related to her his sad case, but received no favourable reply,--at which
he was neither content nor joyous. Nevertheless, as he was much in
love, he relaxed not the pursuit, but besought her so eagerly, that the
damsel, wishing to drive him away for good and all, told him that she
would inform her husband of the dishonourable and damnable proposals
made to her,--which at length she did.
The husband,--a good and wise man, honourable and valiant, as you will
see presently,--was very angry to think that the Scot would dishonour
him and his fair wife. And that he might avenge himself without trouble,
he commanded his wife that if the Scot should accost her again, she
should appoint a meeting on a certain day, and, if he were so foolish as
to come, he would buy his pleasure dearly.
The good wife, to obey her husband's will, did as she was told. The poor
amorous Scot, who spent his time in passing the house, soon saw the
fair mercer, and when he had humbly saluted her, he besought her love
so earnestly, and desired that she would listen to his final piteous
prayer, and if she would, never should woman be more loyally served and
obeyed if she would but grant his most humble and reasonable request.
The fair mercer, remembering the lesson that her husband had given her,
finding the opportunity propitious, after many subterfuges and excuses,
told the Scot that he could come to her chamber on the following
evening, where he could talk to her more secretly, and she would give
him what he desired.
You may guess that she was greatly thanked, and her words listened to
with pleasure and obeyed by her lover, who left his lady feeling more
joyous than ever he had in his life.
When the husband returned home, he was told of all the words and deeds
of the Scot, and how he was to come on the morrow to the lady's chamber.
"Let him come," said the husband. "Should he undertake such a mad
business I will make him, before he leaves, see and confess the evil he
has done, as an example to other daring and mad fools like him."
The evening of the next day drew near,--much to the joy of the amorous
Scot, who wished to see and enjoy the person of his lady;--and much also
to the joy of the good mercer who was desiring a great vengeance to
be taken on the person of the Scot who wished to replace him in the
marriage bed; but not much to the taste of his fair wife, who expected
that her obedience to her husband would lead to a serious fight.
All prepared themselves; the mercer put on a big, old, heavy suit
of armour, donned his helmet and gauntlets, and armed himself with a
battle-axe. Like a true champion, he took up his post early, and as he
had no tent in which to await his enemy, placed himself behind a curtain
by the side of the bed, where he was so well-hidden that he could not be
The lover, sick with desire, knowing the longed-for hour was now at
hand, set out for the house of the mercer, but he did not forget to
take his big, good, strong two-handed sword; and when he was within the
house, the lady went up to her chamber without showing any fear, and
he followed her quietly. And when he came within the room, he asked the
lady if she were alone? To which she replied casually, and with some
confusion, that she was.
"Tell me the truth," said the Scot. "Is not your husband here?"
"No," said she.
"Well! let him come! By Saint Aignan, if he should come, I would split
his skull to the teeth. By God! if there were three of them I should not
fear them. I should soon master them!"
After these wicked words, he drew his big, good sword, and brandished it
three or four times; then laid it on the bed by his side.
With that he kissed and cuddled her, and did much more at his leisure
and convenience, without the poor coward by the side of the bed, who was
greatly afraid he should be killed, daring to show himself.
Our Scot, after this adventure, took leave of the lady for a while, and
thanked her as he ought for her great courtesy and kindness, and went
As soon as the valiant man of arms knew that the Scot was out of the
house, he came out of his hiding place, so frightened that he could
scarcely speak, and commenced to upbraid his wife for having let the
archer do his pleasure on her. To which she replied that it was his
fault, as he had made her appoint a meeting.
"I did not command you," he said, "to let him do his will and pleasure."
"How could I refuse him," she replied, "seeing that he had his big
sword, with which he could have killed me?"
At that moment the Scot returned, and came up the stairs to the chamber,
and ran in and called out, "What is it?" Whereupon the good man, to save
himself, hid under the bed for greater safety, being more frightened
The Scot served the lady as he had done before, but kept his sword
always near him. After many long love-games between the Scot and the
lady, the hour came when he must leave, so he said good-night and went
The poor martyr who was under the bed would scarcely come out, so much
did he fear the return of his adversary,--or rather, I should say, his
companion. At last he took courage, and by the help of his wife was,
thank God, set on his feet, and if he had scolded his wife before he was
this time harder upon her than ever, for she had consented, in spite of
his forbidding her, to dishonour him and herself.
"Alas," said she, "and where is the woman bold enough to oppose a man so
hasty and violent as he was, when you yourself, armed and accoutred and
so valiant,--and to whom he did more wrong than he did to me--did not
dare to attack him, and defend me?"
"That is no answer," he replied. "Unless you had liked, he would never
have attained his purpose. You are a bad and disloyal woman."
"And you," said she, "are a cowardly, wicked, and most blamable man; for
I am dishonoured since, through obeying you, I gave a rendezvous to the
Scot. Yet you have not the courage to undertake the defence of the wife
who is the guardian of your honour. For know that I would rather have
died than consent to this dishonour, and God knows what grief I feel,
and shall always feel as long as I live, whilst he to whom I looked for
help suffered me to be dishonoured in his presence."
He believed that she would not have allowed the Scot to tumble her if
she had not taken pleasure in it, but she maintained that she was forced
and could not resist, but left the resistance to him and he did not
fulfil his charge. Thus they both wrangled and quarrelled, with many
arguments on both sides. But at any rate, the husband was cuckolded and
deceived by the Scot in the manner you have heard.