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A Cure For The Plague
By Monseigneur De Villiers.
_Of a girl who was ill of the plague and caused the death of three men
who lay with her, and how the fourth was saved, and she also._
In the year of the pardons of Rome (*) just past, the plague was
so great and terrible in Dauphine, that the greater part of the
better-class people left the country.
(*) The great Jubilee of 1450.
At that time a fair, young damsel felt herself stricken with the malady,
and at once repaired to a neighbour, a woman of good condition, and
rather old, and related her piteous condition.
The neighbour, who was a wise and prudent woman, was not frightened
at what the told her, and had even sufficient courage and assurance
to comfort her with words, and what little she could do in the way of
medicine. "Alas!" said the young girl who was sick, "my good neighbour,
I greatly grieve that I must now leave the world and all the happinesses
and amusements I have long enjoyed! But, by my oath! and between
ourselves, my greatest sorrow is that I must die before I have known and
tasted the good things of this world; such and such young men have often
solicited me, and I bluntly refused them, for which I am now sorry; and
if I die I shall never have another chance to let a man show me how to
lose my maidenhead. They have told me that it is so pleasant and good,
that I sorrow for my fair and tender body, which must rot without
having had this much desired pleasure. And, to tell the truth, my good
neighbour, it seems to me that if I once tasted this delight before my
death, my end would be easier--I should die more easily, and with less
regret. And, what is more, my heart is so set upon this that it might be
medicine to me, and the cause of my cure."
"Would to God!" said the old woman, "that nothing else were needed; you
would be soon cured it seems to me, for--thank God--our town is not yet
so destitute of of men that we cannot find a good fellow to do this job
"My good neighbour," said the young girl, "I would beg of you to go
to such an one"--whom she named, who was a fine gentleman, and who had
formerly been in love with her--"and tell him to come here and speak to
The old woman set out, and found the gentleman, whom she sent to the
house. As soon as he came there, the young girl, who, on account of her
disease had a high colour, threw her arms round his neck, and kissed him
twenty times. The young man, more joyful than ever to find her whom he
had so much loved abandon herself to him, seized her without more ado,
and showed her that which she so much desired to know.
She was not ashamed to beg and pray him to continue as he had commenced;
and, in short, she made him begin again so often that he could do no
more. When she saw that, as she had not yet had her fill, she was bold
enough to say;
"My friend you have often beseeched for that which I ask you now. You
have done all that in you is, I know well. Nevertheless, I know that I
have not all I want, and I am sure that I cannot live unless some one
else comes and does to me what you have done, and therefore I beg of
you, if you value my life, to go to such an one and bring him hither."
"It is true, my dear, that I know well he will do what you want."
The gentleman was much astonished at the request; nevertheless, though
he had worked till he could do no more, he went off and found his
companion, and brought him to her, and he soon set to work as the other
When he was played out as his friend had been, she was not ashamed to
ask him, as she had done the first, to bring to her another gentleman,
and he did so.
This made three with whom she had fought a love battle and defeated them
all; but you must know that the first gentleman felt ill, and stricken
with the plague, as soon as he had sent his friend to take his place; so
he hastened to the priest, and confessed as best he could, and then died
in the priest's arms.
His friend also, the second comer, as soon as he had given up his place
to the third, felt very ill, and asked everywhere after the one who was
already dead. He met the priest, weeping and exhibiting great grief, who
told him of the death of his friend.
"Ah, monsieur le cure, I am stricken as he was; hear my confession."
The cure, in a great fright, made haste to hear his confession, and,
when that was finished, the gentleman, though within two hours of his
end, went to her from whom he and his friend had taken the contagion,
and found with her the man he had fetched, and said to her;
"Cursed woman! you have killed me and my friend also. You ought to be
burned to death! Nevertheless I pardon you, and may God pardon you!
You have the plague, and have given it to my friend, who died in the
priest's arms, and I shall soon follow him." With that he left, and died
an hour later in his own house.
The third gentleman, who had run the same risks as his companions, who
were both dead, did not feel very safe. Nevertheless, he took courage,
and cast aside all fear, and bethought him that he had often been in
perils and dangerous battles before, and went to the father and mother
of the girl who had killed his two companions, and told them that their
daughter was ill, and that they must take care of her. That being done,
he so conducted himself that he escaped the danger of which his two
friends had died.
Now you must know that when this slayer of men was brought back to her
father's house, whilst they were making a bed ready in which she could
repose and sweat, she sent secretly for the son of a shoe-maker, a
neighbour, and had him brought to her father's stable, where she made
him work as she had done the others, but he did not live four hours
She was put to bed, and they made her sweat greatly. And soon there
appeared upon her body four buboes, of which she was afterwards cured.
And I believe that you will find her now amongst the prostitutes at
Avignon, Vienne, Valence, or some other place in Dauphine.
And the doctors said that she had escaped death because she had tasted
the joys of this life; which is a notable and true example to many young
girls to never refuse a good thing when it comes in their way.
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