The story of Jean de Calais

There was once a rich chaplain. This man had lost his wife, and lived with his son named Jean.  

At twenty years, Jean was a young strong and audacious man, a chaplain like his father, but a loafer, a drunk and a womaniser. It came to the point that his father told him one day:  

- Jean, you borrow from God and the Devil. You throw money out of the windows. I only know that you are ruining me, for pimps and prostitutes. Here are seven thousand pistoles. Pay what you owe, and try to lead a better life.  

- Father, you will be obeyed.  


But Jean forgot his promise. Instead of paying what he owed, he went back to being a loafer, a drunk, and a womaniser. It came to pass that his father said one day:  

- Jean, you didn't obey me. My seven thousand pistoles are squandered. Still you borrow from God and the Devil. Still you throw money out the windows. Your debts will be paid. But I don't want to know that you will ruin me, for pimps and  prostitutes. Here are another seven  thousand pistoles. Go round the world, and try to make a fortune.  

- Father, you will be obeyed.  

Jean saluted his father, jumped on his horse, and left by the road for Bordeaux.  

Three days later, he was beyond Marmande. He crossed a village, close to the Garonne. At the side of water, lay, naked like a worm, a dead poor man, gnawed by dogs. Jean became blue with anger.  

- One thousand Gods! Am I therefore in a country of pagans and Jews? You are not ashamed, scoundrels, to let this dead poor man, naked like a worm, gnawed by dogs? 

- A passer-by said, try to speak better. Otherwise, beware.  


Jean pulled his sword.  

- I speak as it pleases me, drunkards. Advance. All, so much as you are, I will annoy you, on foot and on horseback. Let's see, bandits, advance a little.  

Then, the people of the village said quietly:  

- Stranger, don't be angry. This man only has what he deserves. He died without paying his debts. The custom of this country is that the body is thrown stark naked on the side of water. The dogs gnaw it, until the Garonne comes up and carries it away. The rest benefits the fishes.  

- Pigs! You therefore are not Christian? How much did the dead man owe?  

- Stranger, the dead man owed six thousand Pistoles.  

- Seven valets of executioner. Pay yourselves. The rest is for Mass. Now, rabble, run to look for the priest, and under way for the cemetery.  

- Stranger, you will be obeyed.  

The dead man buried, Jean returned to his father.  


- Hello, father.  

- Hello, Jean. You came back soon. Did you already make a fortune? Tell me.  

Jean obeyed. Until the end, the father listened without a word to say.  

- Jean, you did well. I forgive you. Lead a lead better life.  

- Father, you will be obeyed.  


But Jean forgot his promise. He went back to loafing, drinking and womanising. It came to pass that his father said one day:  

- Jean, you didn't obey me. Still you borrow from God and the Devil. You throw money out the windows. Your debts will be paid. But I don't want to hear that you will ruin me, for pimps and prostitutes. Hold, here are another seven thousand Pistoles. Go round the world, try to make fortune, and don't come back for quite a while.  

- Father, you will be obeyed.  

Jean saluted his father, jumped on his horse, and left by the road for Bordeaux. Three days later, he was farther than Marmande. It was in the time of the death month, in the time of the big cold.  

While walking, Jean thought: 

- I am not far from the village where I paid seven thousand Pistoles, to bury the dead poor man. Certainly, I often badly used my father's money.  

When he crossed the village, everybody was sleeping. The moon was up in the sky, and the stars marked midnight. While passing before the cemetery, Jean pulled on the bridle, and dismounted.  


- Wait there, my good horse. The time to recite a Paternoster for the dead poor man.  

Jean entered, without fear. He knelt on the grave, and recited his Paternoster. As he stood up, a big white bird landed on top of the big cross of the cemetery.  

The big White Bird started to speak.  

- Jean of Calais, I am the soul of the dead poor man. Jean of Calais, you did me a service. Take note that I won't forget it.  

The big White Bird flew off. Jean got back on his horse, and left. Three hours after the sunrise, he dismounted, dead from cold and hunger, on the doorstep of a good inn, on the road to Bordeaux.  

- Ho! Valets! Here sloths. Quickly, take this horse to the stable. Maids, quickly, a faggot in the chimney. Quickly, a good meal on the table.  

Once satiated and thawed, Jean went up to his room, got in bed, and slept like a stump, until the hour of supper. Then, he came down again, cool and strong in the common room. Next to him came a captain of a ship.  


- Hello, Jean.  

- Hello, captain.  

- Jean, I am happy to discover you here. The two of us, we loafed, drank, chased women. 

- Captain, there is time for all. I finished acting badly. I want to go round the world, and to try to make a fortune.  

- Jean, I want to give you the means of it. Listen. Tomorrow morning, come to see me on my ship, right in the middle of the Garonne. There, I will tell you the things that are worthwhile to be listened to.  

- Captain, count on me.  


The morning of the following day , Jean was on the ship, right in the middle of the Garonne - Hello, captain. Give me the means to make a fortune. Say to me the things that are worthwhile to be listened to.  

- Jean, I will speak, if you swear on your soul that you won't retell a word of it.  

- Captain, I swear it to you on my soul.  

- Jean, you want to make fortune. Come with me. Here, I command a hundred strong and audacious pirates. The pirates are sailors that go round the world, to rob everywhere where they can. Come with me. In one year, you will win your weight in gold.  

- Captain, it would be gold badly gained.  


- Jean, when you pay, people don't ask you of where your gold comes from. They do not see it as false. Come with me. If you put a hand on a few beautiful girls, we will keep them here prisoner. You will do as you will, unless you would rather sell them. Hold, not later than the last month, me, I stole the two girls from the king of Lisbon in Portugal. Follow me. I want to show them to you.  

Jean followed the captain of the pirates. In a small bedroom of the ship, two girls, more beautiful than the day, prayed to God, and cried their hearts out.  

Jean watched. The eldest was nearly eighteen years. The junior wasn't even seven.

- If I don't find a buyer for three thousand Pistoles a girl, I will throw them in the water. So much for the fishes.  

- Captain, these two girls are mine. Let's lead them to my inn. There, I will count you out six thousand Pistoles.  

- Jean of Calais, I want twelve.  

- Captain, what is said is said. Agree, or let's make battle.  

The captain of the pirates was afraid. He led the two girls to the inn, where Jean counted out the six thousand Pistoles.  

- Captain, there is more money than you deserve. Walk away, and strive to not find yourself to be on my path.  

Then, Jean turned around toward the eldest girl: 

- Damsel, I am in love with you. Speak. As you will, I will bring you back with your sister to Lisbon  in Portugal, or I will drive you to my father's house.  

- Jean, drive us to your father's house.  


- Damsel, we will leave in three days.  

Immediately, Jean summoned the seamstresses and the milliners.  

- Damsel, order quickly everything that it is necessary for you  and for your sister. I still have  a thousand Pistoles in the stock market.  

Three days after, Jean and the two girls left Bordeaux. Three days later, they were at the end of their journey.  

- Hello, father.  

- Hello, Jean. You came back soon. Did you already make fortune? Tell me.  

Jean obeyed. Until the end, the father listened without a word to say.  

- Jean, you did well. And now, what will you do with these two girls? 

- Father, listen to me. I intend to marry the eldest. I want to recognize the junior for my child. If you say no, I will leave, and you will not see me again.  

- Jean do as you will. I agree to all.  


- Father, thank you. Let God reward you.  

Jean married the eldest of the girls, and recognized the junior for his child. At the end of nine months, his wife delivered a beautiful boy. A later year, the father of Jean of Calais had died.  

The end of of the mourning, Jean summoned a famous painter.  

- Painter, there is gold and silver. Paint my wife's portrait. Paint her sister's portrait. Paint my child. One month after he summoned three cases, the first for the linen and the dresses, the second for gold and silver, the third for the portraits.  

- Valets, harness my carriage, and load these three cases there.  

That done, Jean kissed all his family.  


- Farewell, wife. Farewell, my children. I leave for a big journey. When I will be back, you will know some more. Think of me. If I can, I will send you my news.  

Jean left. Three days later he embarked for Bordeaux. A month later he arrived, with his three cases in Lisbon Portugal. There, he rented a beautiful lodging, on the biggest square of the city, just halfway between the Louvre of the king of Lisbon, and the cathedral. He also rented a beautiful carriage, harnessed with four white horses a coachman and two  footmen braided in gold.  

Jean had his plan. The following Sunday, he hid under his clothing two loaded pistols, and nailed the two portraits on the right side of the carriage. That done, he said to the coachman:  

- Keep to the side of the cathedral. The king and the queen are going to return from the grand mass. Try to pass short of their carriage, while showing them the right side of mine.  

While passing close to the king's car, Jean fired his two guns in the air. Then, the people rioted.  

- Kill him, the stranger! Kill him, the assassin! He fired on the king and the queen. Kill him! Kill him! 

- Foreigner, said the king, what have you done to us? Why did you want to kill us, myself and the queen?  

- King, these two guns were only loaded with powder. I wanted to force you to look at these three portraits.  

Then, the king and the queen looked at the three portraits, and to cry.  

- Foreigner, speak. Speak quickly. Speak to us of these three portraits.  

- King, here is my wife. Here is our son. Here is my wife's younger sister, that I recognized for my child.  

- Foreigner, these two girls are mine.  

- King, I paid for them them six thousand pistoles to the captain of the pirates who had kidnapped them from you.  

- Foreigner, how are you called?  


- King, I am called Jean of Calais.  

- Jean of Calais, come up in my carriage, and come to dine with us.  

Jean obeyed. The king made him sit on his right, before the biggest nobles of the country.  

- My friends, here is my son-in-law. Here is the man who will command you when I will have died. Jean, tonight you are going to leave for a big journey. Thus, eat, don't let you lack anything. Tonight, you are going to return to your country, and to bring back here my two girls and my grandson.  

What was said was done. In the evening, Jean embarked on a beautiful ship, full of handsome gentlemen and beautiful ladies, who left from Bordeaux. Among these passengers, was a young man, honest and helpful. Jean made him a friend quickly, and confided in him all his secrets.