Once upon a time, in the olden days, when men were men and women pretended to obey them, there lived a cruel and violent nobleman in his chateau. He was thought to be immensely rich and known for his weakness where young girls were concerned. He had been married many times; nobody knew what had happened to each previous wife; it was said that he had packed them off to foreign lands with a chestful of gold as compensation for their dismissal from the marital chamber.
His name was Count Bluebeard, on account of his very dark and long beard, which he kept tucked into his shirt collar most of the time, because he was apt to trip over it when he was in a hurry.
Bluebeard was once again on the look-out for a new wife and his choice fell on one of the pretty daughters of his neighbour; Marie, the youngest of the girls, agreed to marry him. In spite of her youth, Marie was madly in love with a poor lute player and while the marriage negotiations were going on between Marie's parents and Count Bluebeard, she and her paramour hatched a plan to outwit Bluebeard. Part of the contract was that Marie would receive her chest of gold before the actual wedding night, to sweeten the sacrifice she was about to make.
It was Bluebeard's habit to give a lavish wedding reception for each new wife, with a banquet as the central event, where he usually ate and drank himself senseless. Music played a part during these celebrations and Marie asked if she could be serenaded by a young lute player of her parents' acquaintance during the banquet. Bluebeard grumbled, but her parents insisted that their daughter's wish be granted, so he gave in. It was all the same to him what the wench did for the few hours before the wedding night, afterwards he would soon teach her to fall in with his wishes.
The chest of gold handed over, the wedding ceremony duly took place. Marie kept her fingers crossed in the folds of her dress the whole time.
As was his wont, Bluebeard ate and drank until he fell off his chair, Marie watching him all the while. She kept a clear head and the lute player kept his down, in order not to arouse any suspicion. Marie's father also sat at the table, keeping an eye on the room.
When Bluebeard lay on the floor, Marie's father, the lute player and Marie herself dragged him out of the hall and ostensibly into the marital chamber, where she was to await her lord's re-awakening and subsequent pleasure. However, they continued to drag him out of a secret door leading from this chamber to a special dungeon beneath it; this dungeon was the horrible place where all Bluebeard's previous wives had ended up, kept prisoner for evermore.
They tipped him over the edge into the dungeon, where his wives were waiting to torment him as he had tormented them.
Marie and the lute player, however, left the country and lived happily ever after. They never felt guilty once and the chest of gold came in very handy to augment the salary of a moderately talented lute player.