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Love In Arms
By Monseigneur De La Roche.
_Of a knight who made his wife wear a hauberk whenever he would do you
know what; and of a clerk who taught her another method which she almost
told her husband, but turned it off suddenly._
A noble knight of Haynau, who was wise, cunning, and a great traveller,
found such pleasure in matrimony, that after the death of his good
and prudent wife, he could not exist long unmarried, and espoused a
beautiful damsel of good condition, who was not one of the cleverest
people in the world, for, to tell the truth, she was rather dull-witted,
which much pleased her husband, because he thought he could more easily
bend her to his will.
He devoted all his time and study to training her to obey him, and
succeeded as well as he could possibly have wished. And, amongst other
matters, whenever he would indulge in the battle of love with her--which
was not as often as she would have wished--he made her put on a splendid
hauberk, at which she was at first much astonished, and asked why she
was armed, and he replied that she could not withstand his amorous
assaults if she were not armed. So she was content to wear the hauberk;
and her only regret was that her husband was not more fond of making
these assaults, for they were more trouble than pleasure to him.
If you should ask why her lord made her wear this singular costume,
I should reply that he hoped that the pain and inconvenience of the
hauberk would prevent his wife from being too fond of these amorous
assaults; but, wise as he was, he made a great mistake, for if in each
love-battle the hauberk had broken her back and bruised her belly, she
would not have refused to put it on, so sweet and pleasant did she find
that which followed.
They thus lived together for a long time, till her husband was ordered
to serve his prince in the war, in another sort of battle to that
above-mentioned, so he took leave of his wife and went where he was
ordered, and she remained at home in the charge of an old gentleman, and
of certain damsels who served her.
Now you must know that there was in the house a good fellow, a clerk,
who was treasurer of the household, and who sang and played the
harp well. After dinner he would often play, which gave madame great
pleasure, and she would often come to him when she heard the sound of
She came so often that the clerk at last made love to her, and she,
being desirous to put on her hauberk again, listened to his petition,
"Come to me at a certain time, in such a chamber, and I will give you a
reply that will please you."
She was greatly thanked, and at the hour named, the clerk did not fail
to rap at the door of the chamber the lady had indicated, where she was
quietly awaiting him with her fine hauberk on her back.
She opened the door, and the clerk saw her armed, and thinking that some
one was concealed there to do him a mischief, was so scared that, in his
fright, he tumbled down backwards I know not how many stairs, and might
have broken his neck, but luckily he was not hurt, for, being in a good
cause, God protected him.
Madame, who saw his danger, was much vexed and displeased; she ran down
and helped him to rise, and asked why he was in such fear? He told her
that truly he thought he had fallen into an ambush.
"You have nothing to fear," she said, "I am not armed with the intention
of doing you any hurt," and so saying they mounted the stairs together,
and entered the chamber.
"Madame," said the clerk, "I beg of you to tell me, if you please, why
you have put on this hauberk?"
She blushed and replied, "You know very well."
"By my oath, madame, begging your pardon," said he, "if I had known I
should not have asked."
"My husband," she replied, "whenever he would kiss me, and talk of love,
makes me dress in this way; and as I know that you have come here for
that purpose, I prepared myself accordingly."
"Madame," he said, "you are right, and I remember now that it is the
manner of knights to arm their ladies in this way. But clerks
have another method, which, in my opinion is much nicer and more
"Please tell me what that is," said the lady.
"I will show you," he replied. Then he took off the hauberk, and the
rest of her apparel down to her chemise, and he also undressed himself,
and they got into the fair bed that was there, and--both being disarmed
even of their chemises--passed two or three hours very pleasantly. And
before leaving, the clerk showed her the method used by clerks, which
she greatly praised, as being much better than that of knights. They
often met afterwards, also in the same way, without its becoming known,
although the lady was not over-cunning.
After a certain time, her husband returned from the war, at which she
was not inwardly pleased, though outwardly she tried to pretend to be.
His coming was known, and God knows how great a dinner was prepared.
Dinner passed, and grace being said, the knight--to show he was a good
fellow, and a loving husband--said to her,
"Go quickly to our chamber, and put on your hauberk." She, remembering
the pleasant time she had had with her clerk, replied quickly,
"Ah, monsieur, the clerks' way is the best."
"The clerks' way!" he cried. "And how do you know their way?" and he
began to fret and to change colour, and suspect something; but he never
knew the truth, for his suspicions were quickly dissipated.
Madame was not such a fool but what she could see plainly that her
husband was not pleased at what she had said, and quickly bethought
herself of a way of getting out of the difficulty.
"I said that the clerks' way is the best; and I say it again."
"And what is that?" he asked.
"They drink after grace."
"Indeed, by St. John, you speak truly!" he cried. "Verily it is their
custom, and it is not a bad one; and since you so much care for it, we
will keep it in future."
So wine was brought and they drank it, and then Madame went to put on
her hauberk, which she would willingly have done without, for the gentle
clerk had showed her another way which pleased her better.
Thus, as you have heard, was Monsieur deceived by his wife's ready
reply. No doubt her wits had been sharpened by her intercourse with the
clerk, and after that he showed her plenty of other tricks, and in the
end he and her husband became great friends.
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