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SIMPLE SIMON'S MISFORTUNES

AND HIS

WIFE MARGERY'S CRUELTY

WHICH BEGAN
The very next Morning after their Marriage.

Chapter I.

An Account of Simon's Wedding, and his Wife's Behaviour the Day after their Marriage.

Simon, the subject of our ensuing discourse, was a man very unfortunate many years after marriage, not only by crosses, but by the cruelty of Margery his severe wife—his wedding day being the best he saw in seven years after, for then he had all his friends about him. Rough Ralph the Fiddler and Will the Piper were appointed to make him and his guests merry.

Singing, dancing, and good feasting attended the day, which being ended, this loving couple went to bed, where their friends all left them.

But the morning was ushered in with a mighty storm, only because Simon put on his roast-meat clothes.

Thus she began the matter—"Why, how now, pray, and what is to-day, that you must put on your holiday clothes, with a pye-crust to you? What do you intend to do, say you, tell me quickly."

"Nothing," said Simon, "but to walk abroad with you, sweet wife, as it is common on the day after marriage."

"No, no," said Margery, "this must not, nor shall not be. It is very well known that I have brought you a very considerable fortune—forty shillings in money, and a good milch cow, four fat wethers, with half a dozen ewes and lambs; likewise, geese, hens, and turkeys; also a sow and pigs, with other moveables, worth more than any of your crook-back generation is able to give you. And do you think you shall lead as lewd a life now as you did before you married; but if you do, then say my name is not Margery. Now I've got you in the bands of matrimony I will make you know what it is to be married; therefore, to work you rascal, and take care that what I brought is not consumed; for, if you do not, what will become of your wife and children?"

Now, Simon looked liked one that had neither sense nor reason, but stood amazed, as if there had been a whole army of Billingsgate shrews. However, recollecting what he had heard about scolds, he muttered to himself, "Udswagers, I think I have got a woeful one now."

"What is that you say, sirrah?" said she.

"Nothing, dear wife, but what you say I allow to be true."

And so, taking his bag and bottle, he went forward to his daily labour: but, coming towards the lower end of the town, he chanced to meet old Jobson, a cobbler, a merry blade, who loved a cup of good ale.

"What! honest Simon," said Jobson, "I am glad to see you, for since our last meeting I hear you are married, and now I wish thee much happiness."

Now, old Jobson, being a merry fellow, invited Simon to take a flaggon of the best liquor that the next ale-house would afford, and there to drink to Margery's health.

Being merry in discourse, talking of the tricks and pranks they had played when bachelors.

Jobson, taking up the flaggon in his hand, said, "Come, here's to thee, honest Simon, and I wish thee better luck than Randal, thy old father-in-law, had with his wife; for she was such a scold that happy were they who lived out of the clamour of her noise. But without doubt thy dear wife may be of a milder spirit, and have more of her father's meekness than her mother's fury in her; but come, Simon, here's to thee and to thy dearly-beloved Margery."

Cries Simon, "If she was present how merry we should be; but, I fear, on the wrong side of the mouth."

"Well," said Jobson, "I vow I long to see her; and I verily believe she would be as glad to see me. I dare to say she will prove a very good wife."

"Truly, neighbour Jobson, I don't know; but if I have no better ending than beginning, I wish I had ended my life at the plough tail."

No sooner were these words out of his mouth but in comes Margery, with her gossips, whom Simon wished to see, forsooth. He wished her much joy, but Margery, in a woeful fury, snatched up Jobson's oaken staff from off the table, and gave poor Simon such a clank upon the noddle which made the blood spin out, saying, "Is this your work, sirrah?" Jobson, seeing so sudden an alteration, was affrighted, not knowing how to escape.

She then turned about to the left, saying, "Thou rogue and rascal, it is you that ruins all the good women's husbands in the town; therefore you shall not go unrewarded," giving him such strokes over his back and shoulders as caused poor Jobson to lay in bed almost a fortnight.

Simple Simon all this while not having any power to run away, but stood like one half frighted out of his wits, and trembling before his bride, with his hat in one hand and the flaggon in the other, begging her that she would be patient, and he would never offend her any more.

But she gave him a frown, and bid him begone about his business, which he immediately did. So then Margery and her friendly gossips had the whole apartment to themselves, where they sat till they were all as drunk as fish-women.

Chapter II.

She drags him up into the Chimney, and hangs him a Smoke-drying.

At night, when he returned to his own home, Margery, by the help of a nap she had taken, was a little restored to her senses again; but yet, not forgetting the fault he had committed, she invented a new kind of punishment; for, having a wide chimney, wherein they used to dry bacon, she, taking him at a disadvantage, tied him hand and foot, bound him in a basket, and, by the help of a rope, drew him up to the beam in the chimney, and left him there to take his lodging the second night after his wedding, with a small, smoky fire under him, so that in the morning he almost reezed like to a red-herring. But in length of time he prevailed with his wife to show him so much pity as to let him down again.

"In love release me from this horrid smoke,
And I will never more my wife provoke;
She then did yield to let him down from thence,
And said, 'Be careful of the next offence.'"
 

Chapter III.

Simon loses a Sack of Corn that he was carrying to the Mill to have ground.

Not long after she sent him to the mill with a sack of corn, and bade him remember what she said to him, or else he should not go unpunished.

"Well," said Simon, "I hope I shall never offend thee any more."

For this promise she gave him a mess of milk, and when he had eaten all up he took the sack of corn upon his back, and went towards the mill, which stood about two miles from the house.

When Simon was got about half way he began to be weary, which was the forerunner of a great misfortune, for a man riding by, leading an empty horse towards the mill, perceived Simon weary of his load, told him he might lay it upon his spare horse, to which Simon willingly consented.

The man riding on, Simon could not pace with him, so desired him to leave it for him at the mill. He promised he would, but never intended to perform his promise.

Simon, thus loosing his sack of corn, knew not how to go home, or show his face before his wife, until he got two or three of his neighbours to go with him to beg for his pardon, and to help to make up the difference between them, which they did after a long parley. So that for this crime he passed unpunished.

Chapter IV.

Simon goes to the Market with his Basket of Eggs, breaks them all by the Way, and is set in the Stocks.

But, although he was not punished according to the severe correction he had formerly received, yet he did not escape the continual railings in his ears for several days after, ever and anon she crying out, "You sot, will you never be wise?"

"Yes, sweet Margery, dear Margery, I hope I shall some time."

"Well," says she, "I'll now try you once more. Here, take this basket of eggs, and go to the market and sell them, but be sure don't break them nor spend the money, for if you do, sorrow will be your sops, and you may expect to feel the weight of my hands more than ever you have done before."

At which harsh words he trembled much, and looked as white as his dear Margery's shift, for fear that he should miscarry with his basket of eggs, for he well knew that his wife would be sure to be as good as her promise.

Then Simon, taking his basket of eggs, trudged away to the market, but was no sooner come there than, seeing a vast crowd of people, he was resolved to see what was the matter.

When he came to the place he found that two butter-women had fallen out, and to that degree that they had taken one another by the que of their hair, and their fillets all flying about their ears; which Simon seeing he was moved with compassion, and ran to part them, but in vain; poor Simon was still unfortunate, and came off with a great loss, for one of the women pushed him down and broke his eggs.

Poor Simon was now almost distracted to see the ground, but whether it was the fear of the anger of his wife, or whether it was courage, thus it was, Simon ran in amongst them, and resolved to be revenged on them for the loss of his eggs.

Whilst they were in the fray the constable came, and, supposing them drunk, gave orders that they should all be set in the stocks together—Simon in the middle, and the women on each side—which was accordingly done; but they rang such a peal in Simon's ears that he was deaf for a fortnight after.

Being released, he ventured home again, dreading the impending storm; but this was his comfort in the midst of all his hard fortune, that, though he might feel the force of her blows, still he would be deaf to her noise, being stunned by the women in the stocks.

Chapter V.

Simon's Wife Cudgels him severely for losing his Money.

At length Simon coming home he met with his beloved wife Margery, who, seeing his dejected countenance, she began to mistrust something, and so, taking hold of his arm, she hauled him in for examination.

When Simon saw this he could not forbear weeping, and began to tell her a dismal story concerning the stocks; but she wanted the money for the eggs; but Simon, being deaf, could not hear her, which made her fall on him with such fury that he was obliged to run up stairs and jump out of the chamber window, which, when she saw, she followed him down the town, with a hundred boys and girls after them, Simon still crying out to the people, "You may see what it is to be married."

And her tone was, "You rascal; the money for my eggs," often giving him a crack on the crown.

At length it was his good hap to get away from her.

Night drawing on, and Simon not having one penny to help himself, was forced to make the best of a bad bargain, resolved for to lodge that night in a hog-stye amongst the swine.

And so the next morning, in the presence of some of his dearest friends, he begged pardon on his knees of his sweet, kind, and loving wife, Margery.

Chapter VI.

Simon loses his Wife's Pail, and at the same time burns out the Bottom of her Kettle.

Margery, being reconciled again on his humble petition, she charged him to be careful for the future that he did not offend her as he had done before, which he promised to observe. "Then, Simon," said she, "I am this day to go to a gossiping, and shall leave you at home to make a fire and hang on the kettle."

"Yes, sweet wife."

Now, Margery was no sooner gone but he made a fire and hung on the kettle. Then, taking the pail, he goes to the well to fetch some water, when there came an ox running down, and a butcher and his boy close after him, who called out to Simon to stop the ox, which he endeavoured to do, but the ox, giving them the slip, Simon ran in pursuit of him for the space of three or four miles, and, having secured him, the butcher gave him many thanks for his kindness.

So Simon returned back to the well, but his pail was lost, and he made sad lamentation for it, inquiring about it, but could not hear nothing of it; and as the old proverb says, "One sorrow never comes alone," for on going in doors the fire was flaming, and the bottom of the kettle was quite burnt out.

At the sight of this he fell to wringing his hands and crying out with a lamentable tone; "None was so unfortunate as poor Simon. What shall I say to my wife when she comes? First, I have lost my pail; and, second, I have let the bottom of the kettle be burnt out. Here will be a sad reckoning for these misfortunes."

Just in the middle of these lamentations in comes Margery, who, having heard him, came armed and fitted for the fray.

"How now, sirrah," said she, "has this been the care you promised of my business?" and with that let fly an earthen pot at his head, which caused the blood to run about his ears.

This done, she took him by the collar, and cuft him about the kitchen at a most terrible rate, Simon crying for mercy, but cruel Margery still increased his misery, till the neighbours came, persuading Margery to be satisfied, "for," said they, "it was but a mischance."

"A rascal," said she, "for I can set him about nothing, but thus he serves me."

They still interceded for Simon, until at length she excused him.

Chapter VII.

Simon's Wife sends him to buy Soap, but, going over a Bridge, he lets his Money fall into the River; and of a Ragman's running away with his Clothes.

Margery, calling Simon to her, said, "Will you never be careful in anything I set you about?"

"Yes, dear wife, I hope I shall."

"Why, then," said she, "take this money. I have tied it in a clout, that you may not lose it. Therefore, go you to the market, and make all the haste you can, and get me some soap."

"I will, sweet wife," quoth he, and with that he went as fast as he could.

Now, on his way he was to pass over a bridge, and, coming to the middle of it, a flight of crows flew over his head, which so frightened him that he let fall his money.

This was the beginning of a new sorrow. He stood awhile, and knew not what course to take. At length he resolved to pull off his clothes and jump into the water and search for it. Now, as he was searching for his money, an old ragman came by, and put his clothes into a bag.

Simon, seeing this, pursued him, but in vain, and was forced to return home naked, which his wife seeing fell in a most horrible sweat, and, taking the dog-whip, she so jerked poor Simon about, making him to dance the canaries for two hours, till he cried out, "Good wife, forbear!" but she cried out, "You rascal! where is my money, and your clothes?" Thus she continued until she was tired, and he heartily begged her pardon.