THE KING’S SWEETHEART (VII)

“My dear,” replied the dear man, “you shall have them without being troubled with me;” and turning her round, “Your client has not told you who I am, eh? No? Learn then, I am the husband of the lady whom the king has debauched, and whom you serve. Carry her these crowns, and come back here. I will hand over yours to you on a condition which will be to your taste.”
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The servant did as she was bidden, and being very curious to know how she could get 12,000 crowns without sleeping with the advocate, was very soon back again.

“Now, my little one,” said he, “here are 12,000 crowns. With this sum I could buy lands, men, women, and the conscience of three priests at least; so that I believe if I give it to you I can have you, body, soul, and toe nails. And I shall have faith in you like an advocate, I expect that you will go to the lord who expects to pass the night with my wife, and you will deceive him, by telling him that the king is coming to supper with her, and that to-night he must seek his little amusements elsewhere. By so doing I shall be able to take his place and the king’s.”

“But how?” said she.

“Oh!” replied he; “I have bought you, you and your tricks. You won’t have to look at these crowns twice without finding me a way to have my wife. In bringing this conjunction about you commit no sin. It is a work of piety to bring together two people whose hands only been put one in to the other, and that by the priest.”

“By my faith, come,” said she; “after supper the lights will be put out, and you can enjoy Madame if you remain silent. Luckily, on these joyful occasions she cries more than she speaks, and asks questions with her hands alone, for she is very modest, and does not like loose jokes, like the ladies of the Court.”

“Oh,” cried the advocate, “look, take the 12,000 crowns, and I promise you twice as much more if I get by fraud that which belongs to me by right.”

by: Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)

The following story is reprinted from Droll Stories. Honoré de Balzac. London: John Camden Hotten, 1874.

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