At Work

By Monseigneur De La Roche.

_Of a squire who saw his mistress, whom he greatly loved, between

two other gentlemern, and did not notice that she had hold of both of

them till another knight informed him of the matter as you will hear._

A kind and noble gentleman, who wished to spend his time in the service

of the Court of Love, devoted himself, heart, body, and goods, to a fair

nd honest damsel who well deserved it, and who was specially suited to

do what she liked with men; and his amour with her lasted long. And he

thought that he stood high in her good graces, though to say the truth,

he was no more a favourite than the others, of whom there were many.

It happened one day that this worthy gentleman found his lady, by

chance, in the embrasure of a window, between a knight and a squire, to

whom she was talking. Sometimes she would speak to one apart and not let

the other hear, another time she did the same to the other, to please

both of them, but the poor lover was greatly vexed and jealous, and did

not dare to approach the group.

The only thing to do was to walk away from her, although he desired her

presence more than anything else in the world. His heart told him that

this conversation would not tend to his advantage, in which he was not

far wrong. For, if his eyes had not been blinded by affection, he could

easily have seen what another, who was not concerned, quickly perceived,

and showed him, in this wise.

When he saw and knew for certain that the lady had neither leisure nor

inclination to talk to him, he retired to a couch and lay down, but he

could not sleep.

Whilst he was thus sulking, there came a gentleman, who saluted all the

company, and seeing that the damsel was engaged, withdrew to the recess

where the squire was lying sleepless upon the couch; and amongst other

conversation the squire said,

"By my faith, monseigneur, look towards the window; there are some

people who are making themselves comfortable. Do you not see how

pleasantly they are talking."

"By St. John, I see them," said the knight, "and see that they are doing

something more than talking."

"What else?" said the other.

"What else? Do you not see that she has got hold of both of them?"

"Got hold of them!"

"Truly yes, poor fellow! Where are your eyes? But there is a great

difference between the two, for the one she holds in her left hand is

neither so big nor so long as that which she holds in her right hand."

"Ha!" said the squire, "you say right. May St. Anthony burn the wanton;"

and you may guess that he was not well pleased.

"Take no heed," said the knight, "and bear your wrong as patiently

as you can. It is not here that you have to show your courage: make a

virtue of necessity."

Having thus spoken, the worthy knight approached the window where the

three were standing, and noticed by chance that the knight on the left,

hand, was standing on tip-toe, attending to what the fair damsel and the

squire were saying and doing.

Giving him a slight tap on his hat, the knight said,

"Mind your own business in the devil's name, and don't trouble about

other people."

The other withdrew, and began to laugh, but the damsel, who was not the

sort of woman to care about trifles, scarcely showed any concern, but

quietly let go her hold without brushing or changing colour, though she

was sorry in her heart to let out of her hand what she could have well

used in another place.

As you may guess, both before and after that time, either of those two

would most willingly have done her a service, and the poor, sick lover

was obliged to be a witness of the greatest misfortune which could

happen to him, and his poor heart would have driven him to despair,

if reason had not come to his help, and caused him to abandon his love

affairs, out of which he had never derived any benefit.