Between Two Stools

By Monseigneur De Waurin.

_Of a noble knight who was in love with a beautiful young married lady,

and thought himself in her good graces, and also in those of another

lady, her neighbour; but lost both as is afterwards recorded._

As all the stories of asses are now finished, I will relate shortly a

true story of a knight whom many of you noble lords have long known. It

is true
hat this knight was greatly in love--as is often the way with

young men--with a beautiful and noble young lady, who, in that part of

the country where she lived was renowned for her beauty. Nevertheless,

try what means he could to obtain her favours, and become her accepted

lover, he could not succeed--at which he was much displeased, seeing

that never was woman loved more ardently, loyally, and wholly than she

was. Nor should I omit to say that he did as much for her as ever

lover did for his lady, such as jousts, expensive habiliments,

etc.--nevertheless, as has been said, he found her always brusque and

averse, and showing him less love than she reasonably should, for she

knew for a fact that she was loyally and dearly loved by him. And,

to say truth, she was too harsh to him, which, it is to be believed,

proceeded from pride, of which she had too much--it might even be said,

with which she was filled.

Matters were in this condition, when another lady, a friend and

neighbour of the first-named damsel, seeing how enamoured the knight

was, fell in love with him herself, and by various honest ways and means

which would take too long to describe, so subtly managed that in a short

time the knight perceived her love, at which he was much vexed, his

heart being wholly given to his harsh and cruel mistress.

Being not only kind, but possessed of much common sense he managed

adroitly not to compromise himself, so that if his second love affair

had come to the knowledge of his first mistress, she would have no cause

to blame his conduct.

Now listen to the end of his amours. Owing to the distance at which

he lived, he could not so often see his lady-love as his trusting and

loving heart desired. So he determined one day to ask certain knights

and squires, good friends of his, but who knew nothing about his love

affairs, to fly their hawks, and hunt the hare in the district in which

the lady resided, knowing for a fact by his spies, that her husband was

away, having gone to Court, as he often did.

As had been arranged, the love-sick knight and his companions started

the next day, early in the morning, from the town where the Court was,

and passed the time until the late afternoon in hunting the hare, and

without eating or drinking. They snatched a hasty repast in a little

village, and after the dinner, which was short and simple, remounted

their horses and continued to hunt the hare.

The good knight, who had only one object in view, led his companions

from the city, to which they always wished to return and said to him,

"The hour of vespers is near and it is time to return to the town. If we

do not take care we shall be locked out, and have to stay the night in

some miserable village and all die of hunger."

"Don't be alarmed," said the lover; "there is plenty of time, and at

the worst I know a place near here where we shall be very welcome, and I

suppose you will have no objection to meeting ladies."

Being all courtiers, thy were not at all disinclined to meet ladies, and

were satisfied to leave the matter in his hands, and continued to hunt

the hare and the partridge as long as daylight lasted.

When it was time to think of finding lodgings, the knight said to his


"Come along, come along! I will lead you to the place." About an hour or

two after nightfall, the knight and his comrades arrived at the place

where lived the lady with whom the guide of this little band was so

enamoured that he could not sleep o'nights. They knocked at the door of

the castle, and the varlets quickly came and asked them what they

wanted. And he who was the most deeply concerned, answered and said;

"Gentlemen, are my lord and my lady at home?" "Truly," replied one of

the attendants for all the others, "my lord is not here, but my lady


"Tell her if you please, that such and such knights and squires of the

Court, and I, so-and-so, have been hunting the hare in this part of the

country, and have lost our way, and now it is too late to return to the

town. We beg her therefore to receive us as her guests for this night."

"Willingly will I tell her," said the other.

He went and delivered this message to his mistress, who, instead

of coming to the gentlemen, sent a message, which the servant thus


"Monseigneur," said the varlet, "my lady wishes me to inform you that

her husband is not here; at which she is much vexed, for if he had been

he would have given you a hearty welcome; but in his absence she does

not dare to receive visitors, and begs you therefore to pardon her."

The knight, who had led the expedition, was, you may imagine, much

vexed and ashamed to hear this reply, for he expected to have seen his

mistress, and had a pleasant time with her, and emptied his heart to

her, and he was annoyed that he had brought his companions to a place

where he had boasted they would be well received.

Like a wise and noble knight, he did not show what he felt in his heart,

but with a calm countenance said to his comrades,

"Gentlemen, pardon me that I have lured you with false hopes. I did not

believe that the ladies of this part of the country were so wanting in

courtesy as to refuse a lodging to wandering knights. But have a little

patience. I promise you on my word, to take you somewhere--not far from

here--where we shall have quite a different welcome."

"Forward then!" said all the others. "May God give us good luck."

They set off, under the direction of their guide, to take them to the

house of the lady by whom he was esteemed, though he did not return her

affection as he ought to have done; but now he determined to devote to

her the love which had been so roughly refused by his first mistress,

and he determined to love, serve, and obey her who loved him so, and

with whom, please God, he would soon be.

To shorten the story, after riding for a good hour and a half with the

drenching rain on their backs, they came to the house of the lady who

has previously being mentioned, and gaily knocked at the door, for it

was very late,--between nine and ten o'clock at night, and they much

feared that all the household would be in bed. Varlets and servant maids

at once came forth, and asked, "Who is there?" and they were told.

They went at once to their mistress, who was then in her petticoat, and

had put on her nightcap, and said,

"Madame, my lord so-and-so is at the gate and would fain enter; and with

him certain knights and squires of the Court to the number of three."

"They are very welcome," she said. "Up quickly, all of you! Kill some

capons and fowls, and let us have a good supper, and quickly."

In short, she gave her orders like the great lady that she was--and

still is,--and all obeyed her commands. She quickly put on her

night-dress, and thus attired, came forward, as courteously as possible,

to meet the gentlemen, with two torches carried before her, and only

accompanied by one waiting woman, and her beautiful daughter--all the

other women being employed in preparing the chambers.

She met her guests upon the drawbridge of the castle, and the noble

knight who was the guide and spokesman of the others, came forward and

expressed his gratitude for her kindness, and kissed her, and all the

others did the same after him.

Then like a courteous woman of the world, she said to the lords,

"Gentlemen, you are very welcome. Monseigneur So-and-so (that is to say

their guide) I have known a long time. He is very welcome here, and I

should be glad to make the acquaintance of you other gentlemen."

These introductions were made, the supper was soon ready, and each of

the gentlemen lodged in a fair and fine chamber, well appointed and

furnished with hangings and everything necessary.

It should be mentioned also, that whilst supper was preparing, the lady

and the good knight had a long talk together, and arranged that they

would only require one bed between them that night; her husband by good

luck not being in the house, but forty leagues away.

We will leave them enjoying their supper after the adventures of the

day, and return to the lady who refused to receive the little band, even

the man whom she knew loved her better than anyone else in the world,

and had shown herself so discourteous.

She asked her servants, when they returned from delivering her message,

what the knight had said?

One of them replied: "Madame he said very little; only that he would

take his friends to a place where they would have a hearty welcome and

good cheer."

She quickly guessed where they had gone, and said to herself, "Ah, he

has gone to the house of such an one, who, I know, will not be sorry to

see him, and no doubt they are now plotting against me."

Whilst she was thinking thus, the harshness and un-kindness which she

had felt towards her faithful lover, melted away or was transformed into

hearty affection and good-will, and she longed to bestow upon her

lover whatever he might ask or require. So she at once set to work and

suspecting that the lady to whom they had gone was now enjoying the

society of the man she had treated so rudely, she penned a letter to

her lover, most of the lines of which were written in her most precious

blood, to the effect that as soon as he saw this letter, he should set

all other matters aside, and follow the bearer of the missive, and he

would be so kindly received that no lover in the world could expect more

from his mistress. And as a token of her truth, she placed inside the

letter a diamond ring he well knew.

The bearer of this missive, who was a trustworthy man, went to the

castle where the knight was sitting at supper next to the hostess, and

with all the guests seated round the table. As soon as grace had been

said, the messenger drew the knight aside and handed him the letter.

Having perused it, the good knight was much amazed, and still more

joyous, for though he had determined in his own mind no longer to seek

the love or acquaintance of the writer of the letter, he still felt

tempted when the letter promised him that which he most desired in the


He took his hostess aside, and told her that his master had sent an

urgent message, and that he must leave at once--at which he pretended

to feel much vexed,--and she, who had before been so joyful in the

expectation of that she so much desired, became sad and sorrowful.

He quietly mounted his horse, and leaving all his comrades behind,

arrived with the messenger, soon after midnight, at the castle of the

lady, but her husband had just arrived from Court and was then preparing

to go to bed, and she, who had sent specially to fetch her lover, was

disappointed enough, God knows.

The good knight, who had been all day in the saddle, either hunting the

hare or seeking for lodgings, heard at the door that the lady's husband

had arrived, and you may guess how joyful he was at the news.

He asked his guide what was to be done? They consulted together, and it

was decided that he should pretend to have lost his companions, and, by

good chance, met this messenger, who had brought him to the castle. This

being arranged, he was brought before my lord and my lady, and acted his

part as he well knew how. After having quaffed a cup of wine--which did

him very little good--he was led to his bed-chamber, where he scarcely

slept all night, and, early the next morning, returned with his host to

Court, without having tasted any of the delights which were promised him

in the letter.

And I may add that he was never able to return there again, for soon

afterwards the Court left that part of the country, and he went with it,

and soon forgot all about the lady--as often happens.