5 . Is gracili pauperie laborans fabriles operas praebendo parvis illis mercedibus vitam tenebat . Erat ei tamen uxorcula etiam , satis quidem tenuis et ipsa , verum tamen postrema lascivia famigerabilis . Sed die quadam dum matutino ille ad opus susceptum proficiscitur , statim latenter irrepit eius hospitium temerarius adulter : ac dum Veneris colluctationibus securius operantur , maritus ignarus rerum ac nihil etiam tum tale suspicans improvisus hospitium repetit . Iamque clausis et obseratis foribus uxoris laudata continentia ianuam pulsat , sibilo etiam praesentiam suam denuntiante : tunc mulier callida et ad 1 [ p . 408 ] huiusmodi flagitia perastutula tenacissimis amplexibus expeditum hominem dolio , quod erat in angulo semiobrutum sed alias vacuum , dissimulanter abscondit , et patefactis aedibus adhuc introeuntem maritum aspero sermone accipit : ‘Siccine vacuus et otiosus insinuatis manibus ambulabis mihi nec obito consueto labore vitae nostrae prospicies et aliquid cibatui parabis ? At ego misera pernox et per diem lanificio nervos meos contorqueo , ut intra cellulam nostram saltem lucerna luceat . Quanto me felicior Daphne vicina , quae mero et prandio matutino saucia cum ’ 6 . ‘suis adulteris volutatur ! ’ Sic confutatus maritus ‘Et quid istic est ? ’ ait ‘Nam licet forensi negotio officinator noster attentus ferias nobis fecerit , tamen hodiernae cenulae nostrae prospexi . Vides istud dolium , quod semper vacuum frustra locum detinet tantum et revera praeter impedimentum conversationis nostrae nihil praestat amplius ? Istud ego quinque denariis cuidam venditavi ; et adest , ut dato pretio secum rem suam ferat . Quin itaque praecingeris mihique manum tantisper accommodas , ut exobrutum protinus tradatur emptori . ’ E re nata fallacia , mulier temerarium tollens cachinnum ‘ Magnum’ inquit ‘ Istum virum ac strenuum negotiatorem nacta sum , qui rem , quam ego mulier et intra hospitium contenta iamdudum septem denariis vendidi , minoris distraxit . ’ Additamento pretii laetus maritus ‘Et quis est ille , ’ ait ‘Qui tanto praestinavit ? ’ At illa ‘Olim , inepte , ’ inquit [ p . 410 ] ‘Descendit in dolium sedulo soliditatem eius probaturus . ’ 7 . Nec ille sermoni mulieris defuit sed exsurgens alacriter ‘Vis’ inquit ‘Verum scire , materfamilias ? Hoc tibi dolium nimis vetustum est et multifariam rimis hiantibus quassum ’ ; ad maritumque eius dissimulanter conversus ‘ Quin tu , quicunque es homuncio , lucernam ’ ait ‘ Actutum mihi expedis , ut erasis intrinsecus sordibus diligenter an aptum usui possim dinoscere , nisi nos putas aes de malo habere ? ’ Nec quicquam moratus ac suspicatus acer et egregius ille maritus , accensa lucerna , ‘ Discede , ’ inquit ‘ Frater , et otiosus assiste , donec probe procuratum istud tibi repraesentem , ’ et cum dicto nudatus ipse , delato lumine , scabiem vetustam cariosae testae occipit exculpere . At vero adulter , I bellissimus ille pusio , inclinatam dolio pronam uxorem fabri superincurvatus secure dedolabat . Ast illa capite in dolium demisso maritum suum astu meretricio tractabat ludicre : hoc et illud et aliud et rursus aliud purgandum demonstrat digito suo , donec utroque opere perfecto , acceptis septem denariis , calamitosus faber collo suo gerens dolium coactus est ad hospitium adulteri perferre .
Labouring away in poverty , this leanest of fellows made a living by doing jobbing work for little pay . He had a wife as lean as himself , but rumoured to be the ultimate in lasciviousness . One day after had left in the early morning to go to his current job , a bold adulterer slipped secretly into the house , but while the two were happily striving away at Venus’ sport , the husband suddenly came home . Not expecting , in his ignorance , anything of the sort , and finding the doors locked and bolted , he praised his wife’s virtue in his thoughts , and knocked on the door , announcing his presence with a whistle . Now the wife , astute and cunning in all those kinds of games , pushed her lover from their close embrace , and hid him from view in an empty storage-jar , half-buried in an angle of the room . Then she flung the door wide , and as her husband entered , assailed him with a furious tirade .
‘What are you doing ambling around hands in pockets , with that vacant idle look ? Is this the way you win us a living , and put food on the table , absenting yourself from work ? Here I sit in this miserable home of ours , wearing my fingers to the bone spinning wool night and day , so we can at least keep oil in the lamp . How much happier than I my neighbour Daphne is , she spends her days eating and drinking , and dallying with her lovers . ’
The husband was astounded . ‘What’s all this about ? The boss is involved in a lawsuit , and gave us the day off , but I’ve still taken care of supper . You see how much space that storage-jar takes up , that’s always empty , and serves no purpose except to cramp our living space ? Well I’ve sold it to someone for five denarii , and he’s on his way to collect it and pay , so while we’re waiting tuck up your skirt and lend me a hand to dig it up , then the purchaser can take it straight away . ’
A born deceiver , the wife gave a bold laugh , and said : ‘What a brilliant husband I’ve got , a masterly negotiator ! I , a mere woman , without stepping outside , just sold for seven denarii something he’s offloaded for less ! ’
Pleased with the higher price , the husband asked : ‘Who would pay that for it ? ’ ‘Quiet , you fool , ’ she cried , ‘he’s there , he’s climbed down into the jar to see whether it’s quite sound ! ’
Now the lover took his cue from the wife’s words , and swiftly emerged . ‘To tell you the truth , madam , ’ he cried , ‘this jar of yours is pretty old and badly cracked in a host of places . ’ Then he turned to the husband pretending not to know who he was : ‘You then , my man , whoever you are , look sharp and hand me the light , so I can scrape off a layer of dirt , and see if it’s fit for use , unless you think money grows on trees ! ’
Without a moment’s delay , and suspecting nothing , that fine genius of a husband , lit the lamp and saying : ‘Step aside , mate , you take a rest while I clean it up to show you ! ’ he took off his shirt , lowered the lamp inside , and began to hack at the solid crust inside the ancient receptacle .
At once the adulterer , fine lad that he was , bent the man’s wife face-down over the jar , and toyed with her at his ease , while she , the cunning little whore , poked her head right into the jar and made a fool of her husband , pointing her finger at places to clean , here , there , and elsewhere , again and again till , with both jobs now complete , she’d pocketed the seven denarii , and the poor husband , hoisting the jar on his back , had to carry it off to her lover’s lodgings .
There was a man dwelling in the towne very poore , that had nothing but that which he got by the labour and travell of his hands : his wife was a faire young woman , but very lascivious , and given to the appetite and desire of the flesh . It fortuned on a day , that while this poore man was gone betimes in the morning to the field about his businesse , according as he accustomed to doe , his wives lover secretly came into his house to have his pleasure with her . And so it chanced that during the time that shee and he were basking together , her husband suspecting no such matter , returned home praising the chast continency of his wife , in that hee found his doores fast closed , wherefore as his custome was , he whistled to declare his comming . Then his crafty wife ready with shifts , caught her lover and covered him under a great tub standing in a corner , and therewithall she opened the doore , blaming her husband in this sort : Commest thou home every day with empty hands , and bringest nothing to maintaine our house ? thou hast no regard for our profit , neither providest for any meate or drinke , whereas I poore wretch doe nothing day and night but occupie my selfe with spinning , and yet my travell will scarce find the Candels which we spend . O how much more happy is my neighbour Daphne , that eateth and drinketh at her pleasure and passeth the time with her amorous lovers according to her desire . What is the matter ( quoth her husband ) though Our Master hath made holiday at the fields , yet thinke not but I have made provision for our supper ; doest thou not see this tub that keepeth a place here in our house in vaine , and doth us no service ? Behold I have sold it to a good fellow ( that is here present ) for five pence , wherefore I pray thee lend me thy hand , that I may deliver him the tub . His wife ( having invented a present shift ) laughed on her husband , saying : What marchant I pray you have you brought home hither , to fetch away my tub for five pence , for which I poore woman that sit all day alone in my house have beene proffered so often seaven : her husband being well apayed of her words demanded what he was that had bought the tub : Looke ( quoth she ) he is gone under , to see where it be sound or no : then her lover which was under the tub , began to stirre and rustle himselfe , and because his words might agree to the words of the woman , he sayd : Dame will you have me tell the truth , this tub is rotten and crackt as me seemeth on every side . And then turning to her husband sayd : I pray you honest man light a Candle , that I may make cleane the tub within , to see if it be for my purpose or no , for I doe not mind to cast away my money wilfully : he by and by ( being made a very Oxe ) lighted a candle , saying , I pray you good brother put not your selfe to so much paine , let me make the tub cleane and ready for you . Whereupon he put off his coate , and crept under the tub to rub away the filth from the sides . In the meane season this minion lover cast his wife on the bottome of the tub and had his pleasure with her over his head , and as he was in the middest of his pastime , hee turned his head on this side and that side , finding fault with this and with that , till as they had both ended their businesse , when as he delivered seaven pence for the tub , and caused the good man himselfe to carry it on his backe againe to his Inne .