“Ah!” said the landlady, “what matters it to me the thoughts my customers have in their brains, so long as their purses are well filled.”
And when the servant had told of the jewels, she exclaimed—
“Ah, these are questions which concern all women. Let us go and reason with them. I’ll take the nobles, you can have the citizen.”
The landlady, who was the most shameless inhabitant of the duchy of Milan, went into the chamber where the Sire de La Vaugrenand and the German baron were sleeping, and congratulated them upon their vows, saying that the women would not lose much by them; but to accomplish these said vows it was necessary they should endeavour to withstand the strongest temptations. Then she offered to lie down beside them, so anxious were she to see if she would be left unmolested, a thing which had never happened to her yet in the company of a man.
On the morrow, at breakfast, the servant had the ring on her finger, her mistress had the gold chain and the pearl earrings. The three pilgrims stayed in the town about a month, spending there all the money they had in their purses, and agreed that if they had spoken so severely of women it was because they had not known those of Milan.
On his return to Germany the Baron made this observation: that he was only guilty of one sin, that of being in his castle. The Citizen of Paris came back full of stories for his wife, and found her full of Hope. The Burgundian saw Madame de La Vaugrenand so troubled that he nearly died of the consolations he administered to her, in spite of his former opinions. This teaches us to hold our tongues in hostelries.
By the double crest of my fowl, and by the rose lining of my sweetheart’s slipper! By all the horns of well-beloved cuckolds, and by the virtue of their blessed wives! the finest work of man is neither poetry, nor painted pictures, nor music, nor castles, nor statues, be they carved never so well, nor rowing, nor sailing galleys, but children.
Understand me, children up to the age of ten years, for after that they become men or women, and cutting their wisdom teeth, are not worth what they cost; the worst are the best. Watch them playing, prettily and innocently, with slippers; above all, cancellated ones, with the household utensils, leaving that which displeases them, crying after that which pleases them, munching the sweets and confectionery in the house, nibbling at the stores, and always laughing as soon as their teeth are cut, and you will agree with me that they are in every way lovable; besides which they are flower and fruit—the fruit of love, the flower of life. Before their minds have been unsettled by the disturbances of life, there is nothing in this world more blessed or more pleasant than their sayings, which are naive beyond description. This is as true as the double chewing machine of a cow. Do not expect a man to be innocent after the manner of children, because there is an, I know not what, ingredient of reason in the naivety of a man, while the naivety of children is candid, immaculate, and has all the finesse of the mother, which is plainly proved in this tale.