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The Clever Nun
By Monseigneur De La Roche _Of a nun whom a monk wished to...

Foolish Fear
By Monseigneur Philippe Vignier. _Of a young man of Rouen,...

The Match-making Priest
By Monseigneur De La Roche. _Of a village priest who found...

The Obsequious Priest
By Philippe De Laon. _Of a priest of Boulogne who twice ra...

From Belly To Back
By Monseigneur De La Roche. _Of a gentleman of Burgundy wh...

The Reverend John Creedy
I. "On Sunday next, the 14th inst., the Reverend John Cr...

The Eel Pasties
By Monseigneur de la Roche _Of a knight of England, who, a...

The Mysterious Occurrence In Piccadilly
I. I really never felt so profoundly ashamed of myself i...

The Sick Lover
By Poncelet. _Of a lord who pretended to be sick in order ...

The Drunkard In Paradise
By Monseigneur de Lannoy _The sixth story is of a drunkard...

The Chaste Lover
By Philippe De Laon. _Of a rich merchant of the city of Ge...

The Married Priest
By Meriadech. _Of a village clerk who being at Rome and be...

The Chaste Mouth
By Monseigneur De La Roche. _Of a woman who would not suff...

The Husband Turned Confessor
By Jehan Martin. _Of a married gentleman who made many lon...

The Fault Of The Almanac
By Poncelet. _Of a cure who forgot, either by negligence o...

The Lost Ass Found
By Michault De Changy. _Of a good man of Bourbonnais who w...

A Rod For Another's Back
By The Seneschal Of Guyenne. _Of a citizen of Tours who bo...

The Sleeveless Robe
By Alardin. _Of a gentleman of Flanders, who went to resid...

The Use Of Dirty Water
By Monseigneur De La Roche. _Of a jealous man who recorded...

The Gluttonous Monk
By Monseigneur De Vaurin. _Of a Carmelite monk who came to...

The Chaste Lover

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of a rich merchant of the city of Genoa, who married a fair damsel,
who owing to the absence of her husband, sent for a wise clerk--a young,
fit, and proper man--to help her to that of which she had need; and
of the fast that he caused her to make--as you will find more plainly

In the powerful and well-populated city of Genoa, there, lived some
time ago, a merchant who was very rich, and whose business consisted
in sending much merchandise by sea to foreign lands, and especially to
Alexandria. So occupied was he with the management of his ships, and in
heaping up riches, that during all his days, from his tender youth till
the time that he was fifty years of age, he never cared or wanted to do
anything else.

When he had arrived at this last mentioned age, he began to think about
his condition, and to see that he had spent and employed all his days
and years in heaping up riches without ever having for a single minute
or moment been inclined to think of marrying and having children, to
whom the great wealth, that he had by great diligence and labour amassed
and acquired, would succeed. This thought caused him much mental sorrow,
and he was greatly vexed that he had thus spent his youth.

This grief and regret lasted many days, during which time it happened
that in the above-named city, the young children, after they had
solemnized some festival, did as they were accustomed each year, and
variously apparelled and disguised, some this way and some that, came in
great numbers to the place where the public rejoicings of the city are
usually held, to play in the presence of their fathers and mothers, and
to have their costumes praised and admired.

At this assembly was our merchant, still moody and vexed, and the
sight of so many fathers and mothers taking pleasure in watching their
children dance and sport, increased the grief that was preying on his
mind, and, unable to watch them any longer, he returned to his house,
sad and vexed, and retired to his lonely chamber, where he remained some
time, uttering complaints of this kind;

"Ah, poor, miserable, old man that I am and always have been, and for
whom fate and destiny are hard, bitter, and unpleasant. Oh, wretched
man! worn out and weary by watching and work, suffered and borne by
land and sea. Your great riches and heaped-up treasures, which with
many perilous adventures, hard work, and sweat you have amassed, and for
which you have expended all your time, are but vain, for you have never
thought who will possess them, and to whom by human law you should leave
your memory and your name when you are dead and gone. Oh, wicked man,
how could you have been careless of that of which you should have taken
most heed? Marriage never pleased you, and you always feared and refused
it, and even disliked and scorned the good and just counsels of those
who would have found you a wife, in order that you might have offspring
who would perpetuate your name, your praise, and your renown. Oh, how
happy are those parents who leave good and wise children to succeed
them! How many fathers have I seen to-day playing with their children,
who would call themselves most happy, and think they had well employed
their time, if, after their decease, they could leave their children but
one small part of the great wealth that I possess! But what pleasure and
solace can I ever have? What name or fame shall I leave after my death?
Where is the son who will cherish my memory when I am dead? Blessed be
that holy condition of marriage by which the memory and recollection of
fathers is preserved, and by which fiefs, possessions, and heritages are
permanently secured to their happy children!"

When the good merchant had thus argued to himself for a long time, he
suddenly thought of a remedy for his misfortunes, saying;

"Well, I am in future determined, notwithstanding the number of my
years, not to trouble or torment myself with grief, or remorse. At the
worst I have but been like the birds, which prepare their nests before
they begin to lay their eggs. I have, thank God, riches sufficient for
myself, wife, and many children, if it should happen that I have any,
nor am I so old, or so devoid of natural vigour, as to lose hope of even
having any offspring. What I have to do is to watch and work, and use
every endeavour to discover where I shall find a wife fit and proper for

Having finished his soliloquy, he left his chamber, and sent for two of
his comrades--merchant-mariners like himself,--and to them he plainly
stated his case, and requested them to help to find him a wife, for that
was the thing he most desired in the world.

The two merchants, having heard what their comrade had to say, much
applauded his determination, and undertook to make all possible
endeavours to find him a wife.

Whilst they were making enquiries, our merchant,--as hot to get married
as he could be--played the gallant, and sought throughout the city all
the youngest and prettiest girls--to the others he paid small heed.

He searched so well that he found one such as he required,--born
of honest parents, marvellously beautiful, aged only fifteen or
thereabouts, gentle, good-tempered, and well brought up in every

As soon as he knew her virtues and good qualities, he felt such
affection and desire that she should be his lawful wife, that he

asked her hand of her parents and friends; which, after some slight
difficulties that were quickly removed, was given, and the same hour
they were betrothed, and security given by him for the dower he was to
bestow upon her.

If the good merchant had taken pride and pleasure in his merchandise
during the time that he was amassing a fortune, he felt still more when
he saw himself certain of being married, and that to a wife by whom he
could have fine children.

The wedding was honourably celebrated, with all due pomp, and that feast
being over and finished, he forgot all about his former life,--that is
to say on the sea--but lived happily and in great pleasure with his fair
and fond wife.

But this way of life did not last long, for he soon became tired and
bored, and before the first year had expired took a dislike to living at
home in idleness and a humdrum domestic existence, and pined for his
old business of merchant-mariner, which seemed to him easier and more
pleasant than that which he had so willingly undertaken to manage night
and day.

He did nothing but devise how he could get to Alexandria, as he used in
the old days, and it seemed to him that it was not only difficult but
impossible for him to abstain from going to sea. Yet though he firmly
resolved to return to his old profession, he concealed his intention
from his wife, fearing that she might be displeased.

There were also fears and doubts which disturbed him, and prevented him
from executing his designs, for he knew the youth and character of his
wife, and he felt sure that if he were absent she would not be able to
control herself; and he considered also the mutability and variability
of the feminine character, and that the young gallants were accustomed
to pass in front of his house to see his wife, even when he was at
home,--whence he imagined that in his absence they might come closer,
and peradventure even take his place.

For a long time he was tormented by these difficulties and suspicions
without saying a word but as he knew that he had lived the best part of
his life, he now cared little for wife, marriage, and all that concerned
domestic life, and to the arguments and theories which filled his head,
provided a speedy solution by saying;--

"It is better to live than to die, and, if I do not quit my household
very shortly, it is very certain that I shall not live. But then, shall
I leave my fair and affectionate wife? Yes, I will leave her;--she
shall henceforth manage for herself as she pleases; it will no longer
be incumbent on me. Alas, what shall I do? What a dishonour, what
an annoyance it would be for me if she did not continue to guard her
chastity. Ah, yes, it is better to live than to die, that I may be able
to look after her! But God cannot wish that I should take such care
and pains about a woman's belly without any pay or reward, and receive
nothing in return but torture of soul and body. I will not bear all the
trouble and anguish of mind that many suffer in living with their wives.
It angers me and saddens me to think that God only permits me to live
to enjoy the trifling incidents of married life. I want full liberty and
freedom to do what I please."

When the good merchant had finished these sage reflections, he went and
found some of his old comrades, and told them that he wished to visit
Alexandria with a cargo of merchandise, as he had often previously done
in their company,--but he did not tell them of the trouble and anxiety
which his married life caused him.

He soon made all arrangements with them, and they told him to be ready
to start when the first fair wind came. The sailors and cargo were soon
ready, and awaited in a safe place, a fair wind to start.

The good merchant, still firm in his determination, as on the previous
days, found his wife alone in her chamber, and that she should not be
sad at his departure, addressed her in these words.

"My dearest wife, whom I love better than my life, I beg of you to be
of good heart, and show yourself joyful, and be not sad or cast down at
what I am about to say to you. I propose--if it be God's pleasure--to
once more visit Alexandria, as I have long been in the habit of doing;
and it seems to me that you should not be vexed thereat, seeing that
you are aware that that is my business and profession, by which I have
acquired riches, houses, name, and fame, and many good friends. The
handsome and rich ornaments, rings, garments, and other things with
which you are apparelled and ornamented as is no other woman in the
city, as you well know, I have acquired by the profit I have made on my
merchandise. This journey of mine therefore should not trouble you,
for I shall shortly return. And I promise you that if this time,--as I
hope,--Fortune should smile upon me, never will I return there again,
but this time will take leave of it for ever. You must therefore be
of good courage, and I will leave in your hands the disposition,
administration, and management of all the goods which I possess; but
before I leave I have some requests to make of you.

"The first is, I beg of you to be happy whilst I am on my voyage, and
live comfortably; for if I know that such is the case I shall have
greater pleasure in my voyage. For the second, you know that nothing
should be hidden or concealed between us two, and all honour, profit,
and renown should be--as I know they are--common to both of us, and
the praise and honour of the one cannot exist without the glory of the
other, and similarly the dishonour of the one would be the shame of us
both. I wish you to understand that I am not so devoid of sense that I
am not aware that I leave you young, beautiful, kind, fresh, and tender,
and without the consolation of a husband; and that many men will desire
you. And although I firmly believe that you are now fully resolved,
nevertheless, when I think of your age and inclinations and the warmth
of your desires, it does not seem possible to me that you should not,
out of pure necessity and compulsion, enjoy the company of a man during
my absence. It is my will and pleasure therefore to permit you to grant
those favours which nature compels you to grant. I would beg of you
though to respect our marriage vow unbroken as long as you possibly can.
I neither intend nor wish to leave you in the charge of any person, but
leave you to be your own guardian. Truly, there is no duenna, however
watchful, who can prevent a woman from doing what she wishes. When
therefore your desires shall prick and spur you on, I would beg you, my
dear wife, to act with such circumspection in their execution that they
may not be publicly known,--for if you do otherwise, you, and I, and all
our friends will be infamous and dishonoured.

"If then you cannot remain chaste, at least take pains to retain your
reputation. I will teach you how that is to be done, if the need should
arise. You know that in our good city there are plenty of handsome
men. From amongst these choose one only, and be content to do with him
whatever nature may incline you to do. At all events, I wish that in
making your choice you should take particular care that he is not a
vagabond, or dishonest, or disreputable person, for great dangers might
arise from your acquaintance with such a person, inasmuch as he would,
without doubt publish your secret.

"You will select one therefore who is, you are sure, both wise and
prudent, and who will take as much pains to conceal your amour as you do
yourself. This I beg of you, and that you will promise me honestly and
loyally to remember this lesson. I do not advise you to reply in the way
that other women are accustomed to when similar proposals are made
to them. I know what they would say, which would be somewhat to this
effect. 'Oh, husband! what do you mean by speaking like that? How could
you have such a cruel, unjust opinion of me? How can you imagine that I
should commit such an abominable crime? No! no! God forbid that I should
make you such a promise. I will rather wish that the earth may open and
swallow me up alive the day and hour--I will not say commit--but even
think of committing such a sin.

"My dear wife, I have shown you this way of replying in order that you
may not use the same to me. I firmly and truly believe that at the
present moment you are fully determined to remain chaste, and I desire
you to remain of that opinion as long as nature will permit you. And
understand that I do not wish you to break your vows unless you are
unable to battle against the appetites of your frail and weak youth."

When the good merchant had finished his speech, his fair, kind, and
gentle wife, her face all suffused with blushes, trembled, and could not
for some moments reply to what her husband had said. Soon her blushes
vanished, her confidence returned, and calling up all her courage, she
replied in these words;

"My kind, and greatly beloved husband, I assure you that never have I
been so disturbed and troubled by any speech I have ever heard, as I
am now by your words, by which I learn something that I never heard or
guessed. You know my simplicity, youth, and innocence, and you say that
it is not possible at my age to avoid committing such a fault, and that
you are sure and know positively that when you are away I shall not be
able to preserve our marriage vow in its integrity. That speech greatly
vexed my heart, and made me tremble, and I do not know how I can reply
to your arguments. You have deprived me of the reply I should have made,
but I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that with joined hands I
beg most humbly of God that he may cause an abyss to open in which I may
be thrown, that my limbs may be torn off, and that I may suffer a most
cruel death, if ever the day comes when I shall not only be disloyal to
our marriage vow, but even think for a brief moment of being disloyal.
How, and in what manner I could be brought to commit such a crime, I am
unable to comprehend. And as you have forbidden me to reply as I should,
telling me that women are accustomed to make elusive and false excuses,
I will to give you pleasure, and allay your suspicions, and that you
may see that I am ready to obey and keep your commands, promise you this
moment with firm and immutable faith and constancy, to await the day
of your return in true, pure, and entire chastity of body, and may God
forbid that the contrary should happen. Be fully assured that I will
obey your orders in every respect. If there is anything else you wish
or command, I beg of you to inform me, and I will perform your will (I
desire nothing else) and not my own."

Our merchant, when he heard his wife's reply, was so overjoyed that he
could not refrain from weeping, and said:

"My dearest spouse, since you have of your great kindness given me the
promise that I required, I beg of you to keep it."

The following morning, the good merchant was sent for by his comrades to
put to sea. So he took leave of his wife, and commended her to the care
of God. Then he put to sea to sail to Alexandria where they arrived in
a few days, the wind being favourable, at which place they stayed a long
time both to deliver their merchandise and take in fresh cargoes.

During this time the gracious damsel of whom I have spoken remained in
the house with, as her only companion, a little girl who served her. As
I have said, this fair damsel was but fifteen years of age, therefore
any fault that she committed must be imputed, not to a vicious
character, but to youth and inexperience.

When the merchant had been absent many days, little by little she
began to forget him. As soon as the young men of the city knew of his
departure, they came to visit her. At first she would neither leave the
house nor show herself, but as they continued to come daily, she, on
account of the great pleasure she took in sweet and melodious songs and
harmonies of all instruments, which they played outside her door, peeped
through the crevices of the windows and the trellis so that she could
see the musicians, and they for their part were quite willing to be

In hearing these songs and dances she took so much pleasure, that her
mind was filled with love, and the natural warmth of her affections
often tempted her to incontinence. So often was she visited in this
manner, that in the end her concupiscence and carnal desires conquered,
and she was fairly hit by the dart of love. She often thought how easy
it was for her to find time and place for any lover, for no one guarded
her, and no one could prevent her putting her designs in execution, and
she came to the conclusion that her husband was very wise when he said
he was positive that she could not preserve continence and chastity,
although she wished to keep the promise she had made to him.

"It is right then," she said to herself, "for me to follow my husband's
advice; by doing which I shall incur no dishonour, since he himself
gave me permission, and I shall not violate the promise I made him.
I remember rightly that he charged me that if ever I broke my vow of
chastity, that I should choose a man who was wise, of good fame, and
great virtues, and no other. That is what I will really do, as I may
without disobeying my husband's instructions, and by following his good
advice which was ample for my purpose. I suppose that he did not intend
that the man should be old, and it seems to me that he should be young,
but having as good a reputation for learning and science as any old man.
Such was my husband's advice, I remember."

At the same time that the damsel was making these reflections, and was
searching for a wise and prudent, young man to cool her bowels, there
fortunately arrived in the city a very wise young clerk, who had newly
arrived from the university of Bologna, where he had been several years
without once returning to his native city. Such attention had he given
to his studies that there was not in all the country a clerk who enjoyed
such a reputation amongst the learned men of the city, whom he assisted

He was accustomed to go every day to the Town Hall on the market-place,
and was obliged to pass before the house of the said damsel, who was
much struck by his appearance and pleasant manners. And although he had
never filled any clerical office, she came to the conclusion that he
was a very learned clerk, and fell deeply in love with him, saying to
herself that he would be the man to guard her husband's secret; but
how she was to inform him of her great and ardent love, and reveal the
secret desires of her mind she knew not,--at which she was much vexed.

She bethought herself that as every day he passed before her house on
his way to the market place, that she would be upon her balcony, dressed
as handsomely as possible, in order that when he passed he might notice
her beauty, and so be led to desire those favours which would not be
refused him.

Many times did the damsel so show herself, although that had not
previously been her custom, and though she was pleasant to gaze upon,
and her youthful mind was filled with thoughts of love, the wise clerk
never perceived her, for in walking he glanced neither to the right nor

This plan of the damsel's was not as successful as she imagined it would
be. She was very sorrowful, and the more she thought of the clerk, the
more ardent did her desires become. At last, after a number of plans had
suggested themselves to her, and which for the sake of brevity I pass
over, she determined to send her little servant-maid to him. So she
called her, and ordered her to go and ask for such-an-one,--that is to
say, the learned clerk--and when she had found him, to tell him to come
in haste to the house of such a damsel, the wife of so-and-so; and if he
should ask what the damsel wanted, she was to reply that she knew not,
but only knew that he was urgently required to come at once.

The little girl learned her message, and went forth to seek him; and she
was soon shown a house where he was at dinner with a great company of
his friends, and other people of high degree.

The girl entered the house, and saluting all the company, asked for the
clerk, and delivered her message properly. The good clerk, who had been
acquainted since his youth with the merchant of whom the girl spoke, and
knew his house as he did his own, but was not aware that he was married
or who was his wife, imagined that during the husband's absence, the
wife had need of advice on some weighty matter, for he knew that the
husband was away, and had no suspicion of the cause of his invitation.
He said to the girl;

"My dear, go and tell your mistress that as soon as dinner is over I
will come to her."

The messenger duly delivered these words, and God knows how she was
received by her mistress. When she heard that the clerk, her lover,
would come, she was more joyful than ever woman was, and owing to the
great joy she felt at having the clerk in the house, she trembled and
did not know what to do. She caused the house to be well swept, and fair
herbage to be spread in her chamber, covered the bed and the couch with
rich tapestry and embroidery, and dressed and adorned herself with her
most precious belongings.

Then she waited a little time, which seemed to her marvellous long on
account of the great desire she had, and so impatient was she for his
arrival, and that she might perceive him coming afar off, she went up to
her chamber and then came down again, and went now hither, now thither,
and was so excited that it seemed as though she were out of her senses.

At last she went up to her chamber, and there laid out all the riches
and delicacies that she had prepared to feast her lover. She made the
little servant-maid stay below to let the clerk in, and conduct him to
her mistress.

When he arrived, the servant-maid received him, and let him in and
closed the door, leaving his servants outside, whom she told that they
were to await their master's return.

The damsel, hearing that her lover had arrived, could not refrain from
running down stairs to meet him, and she saluted him politely. Then she
took his hand and led him to the chamber which she had prepared. He
was much astonished when he arrived there, not only by the diversity of
splendours that he saw, but also by the great beauty of the fair girl
who conducted him.

As soon as they were in the chamber, she sat down on a stool by the
couch, and made him sit on another by her side, and there they both sat
for a certain time, without saying a word, for each waited for the other
to speak, though in very different ways, for the clerk imagined that the
damsel would consult him on some great and difficult matter, and wished
her to begin; whilst she, on the other hand, knowing how wise and
prudent he was, believed that he would know why he had been sent for
without her telling him.

When she saw that he made no attempt to speak, she began, and said;

"My very dear and true friend, and learned man, I will tell you at once
why I have sent for you. I believe that you are well-acquainted and
familiar with my husband. He has left me, in the condition you now see
me, whilst he goes to Alexandria to bring back merchandise, as he has
long been used. Before his departure, he told me that when he was away,
he was sure that my weak and fragile nature would cause me to lose my
chastity, and that necessity would compel me to have intercourse with
a man to quench the natural longings I should be sure to feel after
his departure. And truly I deem him a very wise man, for that which I
thought impossible I find has happened, for my youth, beauty, and nature
rebel against wasting away in vain. That you may understand me plainly
I will tell you that my wise and thoughtful husband when he left, knew
that as all young and tender plants dry and wither when they cannot
fulfil the needs of their nature, so it was likely to be with me.
And seeing clearly that my nature and constitution were likely to be
controlled by my natural desires, which I could not long resist, he made
me swear and promise that, if nature should force me to become unchaste,
I would choose a wise man of good position, who would carefully guard
our secret. I do not think there is in all the city a man more worthy
than yourself, for you are young and very wise. I do not suppose then
that you will refuse me or repel me. You see me as I am, and you may,
during the absence of my husband, supply his place if you wish, and
without the knowledge of any one; place, time, and opportunity all
favour us."

The gentleman was much surprised and moved at what the lady said, but
he concealed his emotion. He took her right hand and with a smiling face
addressed her in these words:

"I ought to render infinite thanks to Dame Fortune, who has to-day given
me so much pleasure, and the attainment of the greatest happiness
I could have in this world; never in my life will I call myself
unfortunate, since Fortune has granted me this great favour. I may
certainly say that I am to-day the happiest of men, for when I consider,
my beautiful and kind mistress, how we may joyously pass our days
together, without any person's knowledge or interference, I almost faint
with joy. Where is the man more favoured by Fortune than I am? If it
were not for one thing which forms a slight obstacle to our love affair,
I should be the luckiest man on earth, and I am greatly vexed and
annoyed that I cannot overcome that difficulty."

When the damsel, who had never imagined that any difficulty could arise,
heard that there was an obstacle which would prevent her indulging her
passions, she was very sad and sorrowful, and begged him to say what it
was, in order that she might find a remedy if possible.

"The obstacle," he said, "is not so great that it cannot be removed in a
little time, and, since you are kind enough to wish to know what it is,
I will tell you. When I was studying at the University of Bologna,
the people of the city rose in insurrection against their ruler. I was
accused, along with some others, my companions, of having stirred up
this insurrection, and I was closely imprisoned. When I found myself in
prison, and in danger of losing my life, though I knew I was innocent, I
made a vow to God, promising that if He would deliver me from prison and
restore me to my friends and relations in this city, I would, for love
of Him, fast for a whole year on bread and water, and during that fast
would not allow my body to sin. Now I have, by His aid, accomplished
the greater part of the year and but little remains. I would beg of you
therefore, since it is your pleasure to choose me as your lover, not to
change again for any man in the world, and not to fret over the little
delay that is necessary for me to accomplish my fast, and which is now
but a very short time, and would have been long since over if I had
dared to confide in some one else who could help me, for any days that
others will fast for me are counted as though I fasted myself. And as I
perceive the great love and confidence you have for me, I will, if you
wish, place a trust in you that I have never put in my brothers, nor
my friends, nor relations. I will ask you to help me with the remaining
part of the fast to accomplish the year, that I may the sooner aid you
in the matter you have desired of me. My kind friend, I have but sixty
days to fast, which--if it is your will and pleasure--I will divide in
two parts, of which you shall have one and I will have the other, on
condition that you promise to perform your part honestly and without
fraud, and when all is completed, we will pass our days pleasantly. If
therefore, you are willing to help me in the manner I have said, tell me
at once."

It is to be supposed that this long delay was hardly pleasing to the
young woman, but as her lover had asked her so kindly, and also because
she wished the fast to be finished, that she might accomplish her
desires with her lover, and thinking also that thirty days would not
much interfere with her intentions, she promised to perform her share
without fraud, deception, or imposition.

The good gentleman, seeing that he had won his case and that his affairs
were prospering, took leave of the damsel, (who suspected no harm) and
told her that as it was on his road from his home to the market-place to
pass by her house, he would, without fail, often come and visit her, and
so he departed.

The fair damsel began the next day her fast, making a rule for herself
that during all the time of the fast she would eat nothing but bread and
water until the sun had set.

When she had fasted three days, the wise clerk, as he was going to the
market-place at the accustomed time, called upon the lady, with whom he
talked long, and then, as he was saying farewell, asked her if she had
commenced the fast? She replied she had.

"Can you continue," he said, "and keep your promise until all is

"I can entirely," she replied; "do not fear."

He took leave and departed, and she went on from day to day with her
fast, and kept her vow as she had promised, such being her good-nature.
Before she had fasted eight days, her natural heat began to decrease so
much that she was forced to change her clothes and put on furs and thick
garments, which are usually only worn in winter, instead of the light
robes which she wore before she began the fast.

On the fifteenth day, she received a visit from her lover, who found
her so weak that she could hardly move about the house, but the poor
simpleton was firmly resolved not to practise any trickery, so deeply
in love was she, and so firmly resolved to persevere with this fast,
for the sake of the joys and pleasant delights which awaited her at the

The clerk, when he entered the house, and saw her so feeble, said;

"What kind of face is that, and how is your health? Now I see that you
are sorry you undertook this long fast! Ah, my sweetest love! have a
firm and constant mind. We have to-day achieved the half of our task: if
your nature is weak, conquer it by firmness and constancy of heart, and
do not break your faithful promise."

He admonished her so kindly, that she took courage, so that it seemed to
her that the remaining fifteen days would hardly be noticed.

The twentieth came, and the poor simpleton had lost all colour and
seemed half dead, and felt no more desires of concupiscence than if she
had been really dead. She was obliged to take to her bed and continually
remain there, and then, it occurred to her mind that the clerk had
caused her to fast to punish her carnal appetites, and she came to the
conclusion that his methods were ingenious and effective, and would not
have been thought of by a less clever and good man.

Nevertheless, she was not less resolved to go on to the ead, and
thoroughly fulfil her promise.

On the last day but one of the fast, she sent for the clerk, who, when
he saw her in bed asked her if she had lost courage now that there was
only one day more to run?

But she, interrupting him, replied;

"Ah, my good friend, you loved me with a true and perfect love, and not
dishonourably, as I dared to love you. Therefore I shall esteem you, as
long as God gives life to me and to you, as my dearest and best friend,
who protected, and taught me to protect, my chastity, and the honour and
good name, of me, my husband, my relatives, and my friends. Blessed also
be my dear husband, whose advice and counsels I have kept, to the great
solace of my heart. But for you, my friend, I render you such thanks as
I may, for your honourable conduct and your great kindness to me, for
which I can never sufficiently requite you, nor can my friends."

The good and wise clerk, seeing that he had achieved his object, took
leave of the fair damsel, and gently admonished her and advised her that
she should in future correct her body by abstinence and fasting whenever
she felt any prickings of lust. By which means she lived chastely until
the return of her husband, who knew nothing of the matter, for she
concealed it from him--and so also did the clerk.

Previous: The Metamorphosis

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