StoriesThe Woman, The Priest, The Servant, And The
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By Philippe De Saint-Yon.
_Of a girl who complained of being forced by a young man, whereas
she herself had helped him to find that which he sought;--and of the
judgment which was given thereon._
The incident on which I found my story happened so recently that I need
not alter, nor add to, nor suppress, the facts. There recently came
to the provost at Quesnay, a fair wench, to complain of the force and
violence she had suffered owing to the uncontrollable lust of a young
man. The complaint being laid before the provost, the young man accused
of this crime was seized, and as the common people say, was already
looked upon as food for the gibbet, or the headsman's axe.
The wench, seeing and knowing that he of whom she had complained was
in prison, greatly pestered the provost that justice might be done
her, declaring that without her will and consent, she had by force been
violated and dishonoured.
The provost, who was a discreet and wise man, and very experienced in
judicial matters, assembled together all the notables and chief men, and
commanded the prisoner to be brought forth, and he having come before
the persons assembled to judge him, was asked whether he would confess,
by torture or otherwise, the horrible crime laid to his charge, and the
provost took him aside and adjured him to tell the truth.
"Here is such and such a woman," said he, "who complains bitterly that
you have forced her. Is it so? Have you forced her? Take care that you
tell the truth, for if you do not you will die, but if you do you will
"On my oath, provost," replied the prisoner, "I will not conceal from
you that I have often sought her love. And, in fact, the day before
yesterday, after a long talk together, I laid her upon the bed, to do
you know what, and pulled up her dress, petticoat, and chemise. But
my weasel could not find her rabbit hole, and went now here now there,
until she kindly showed it the right road, and with her own hands pushed
it in. I am sure that it did not come out till it had found its prey,
but as to force, by my oath there was none."
"Is that true?" asked the provost.
"Yes, on my oath," answered the young man.
"Very good," said he, "we shall soon arrange matters."
After these words, the provost took his seat in the pontifical chair,
surrounded by all the notable persons; and the young man was seated on
a small bench in front of the judges, and all the people, and of her who
'"Now, my dear," said the provost, "what have you to say about the
"Provost!" said she, "I complain that he has forced me and violated me
against my will and in spite of me. Therefore I demand justice."
"What have you to say in reply?" asked the provost of the prisoner.
"Sir," he replied, "I have already told how it happened, and I do not
think she can contradict me."
"My dear!" said the provost to the girl, "think well of what you are
saying! You complain of being forced. It is a very serious charge! He
says that he did not use any force, but that you consented, and indeed
almost asked for what you got. And if he speaks truly, you yourself
directed his weasel, which was wandering about near your rabbit-hole,
and with your two hands--or at least with one--pushed the said weasel
into your burrow. Which thing he could never have done without your
help, and if you had resisted but ever so little he would never have
effected his purpose. If his weasel was allowed to rummage in your
burrow, that is not his fault, and he is not punishable."
"Ah, Provost," said the girl plaintively, "what do you mean by that? It
is quite true, and I will not deny it, that I conducted his weasel into
my burrow--but why did I do so? By my oath, Sir, its head was so stiff,
and its muzzle so hard, that I was sure that it would make a large cut,
or two or three, on my belly, if I did not make haste and put it where
it could do little harm--and that is what I did."
You may fancy what a burst of laughter there was at the end of
this trial, both from the judges and the public. The young man was
discharged,--to continue his rabbit-hunting if he saw fit.
The girl was angry that he was not hanged on a high forked tree for
having hung on her "low forks" (*). But this anger and resentment did
not last long, for as I heard afterwards on good authority, peace was
concluded between them, and the youth had the right to ferret in the
coney burrow whenever he felt inclined.
(*) A play upon words, which is not easily translatable, in
allusion to the gallows.
Next: The Damsel Knight