The Heptameron, by Marguerite de Navarre

Fourth Day.

On the Fourth Day are chiefly told Tales of the virtuous patience and long suffering of Ladies to win over their husbands; and of the prudence that Men have used towards Women to save the honour of their families and lineage.

Prologue.

The Lady Oisille, as was her excellent custom, rose up on the morrow very much earlier than the others, and meditating upon her book of Holy Scripture, awaited the company which, little by little, assembled together again. And the more slothful of them excused themselves in the words of the Bible, saying, “I have a wife, and therefore could not come so quickly.” 1 In this wise it came to pass that Hircan and his wife Parlamente found the reading of the lesson already begun. Oisille, however, knew right well how to pick out the passage in the Scriptures, which reproves those who neglect the hearing of the Word, and she not only read the text, but also addressed to them such excellent and pious exhortations that it was impossible to weary of listening to her.

1 “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." — St. Luke xiv. 20. — M.

The reading ended, Parlamente said to her —

“I felt sorry for my slothfulness when I came in, but since my error has led you to speak to me in such excellent fashion, my laziness has profited me double, for I have had rest of body by sleeping longer, and satisfaction of spirit by hearing your godly discourse.” “Well,” said Oisille, “let us for penance go to mass and pray Our Lord to give us both will and power to fulfil His commandments; and then may He command us according to His own good pleasure.”

As she was saying these words, they reached the church, where they piously heard mass. And afterwards they sat down to table, where Hircan failed not to laugh at the slothfulness of his wife. After dinner they withdrew to rest and study their parts, 2 and when the hour was come, they all found themselves at the wonted spot.

2 Meaning what they had to relate. The French word is rolle from rotulus. — M.

Then Oisille asked Hircan to whom he would give his vote to begin the day.

“If my wife,” said he, “had not begun yesterday, I should have given her my vote, for although I always thought that she loved me more than any man alive, she has further proved to me this morning that she loves me better than God or His Word, seeing that she neglected your excellent reading to bear me company. However, since I cannot give my vote to the discreetest lady of the company, I will present it to Geburon, who is the discreetest among the men; and I beg that he will in no wise spare the monks.”

“It was not necessary to beg that of me,” said Geburon; “I was not at all likely to forget them. Only a short while ago I heard Monsieur de Saint-Vincent, Ambassador of the Emperor, tell a story of them which is well worthy of being rememorated and I will now relate it to you.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/marguerite_de_navarre/heptameron/part4.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:09