Caught In The Act
By Philippe De Laon.
_Of the chaplain to a knight of Burgundy who was enamoured of the wench
of the said knight, and of the adventure which happened on account of
his amour, as you will hear below._
I have often heard related, by people worthy of credit, a curious
history, which will furnish me a tale without my adding or suppressing
one word that is not needed.
Amongst the knights of Burgundy was formerly one, who, contrary to the
custom of the country, kept in his castle--which I will not name--a fair
wench to serve as his mistress.
His chaplain, who was young and frisky, seeing this nice wench, was not
so virtuous but that he felt tempted, and fell in love with her, and
when he saw his opportunity, told her of his love. The damsel, who was
as sharp as mustard, for she had knocked about so much that no one in
the world knew more than she did, thought to herself that if she granted
the priest's request her master would hear of it, however much she tried
to conceal it, and thus she would lose the greater for the less.
So she determined to relate the affair to her master, who when he heard
of it did nothing but laugh, for he had partly suspected it, having
noticed the looks, conversation and little love-tricks that passed
between the two. Nevertheless, he ordered the wench to lead the priest
on, without, however, granting him her favours; and she did it so well
that the priest fell into the trap. The knight used often to say him;
"By God, sir, you are too friendly with my chamber-wench. I do not know
what there is between you two, but if it is anything to my prejudice, by
Our Lady, I will punish the two of you."
"In truth, monseigneur," replied the Dominie. "I do not pretend to
expect anything from her. I talk to her to pass the time, as everyone
else in the house does, but never in my life would I seek her love, or
anything of the kind."
"Very well," said the lord, "if it were otherwise I should not be best
If the Dominie had importuned her before, he now pursued her more than
ever, and wherever he met the wench he pressed her so closely that she
was obliged, whether she would or not, to listen to his requests,
and, being cunning and deceitful, she so played with the priest and
encouraged his love, that for her sake he would have fought Ogier the
As soon as she had left him, the whole conversation that had passed
between them was related to her master.
To make the farce more amusing, and to deceive his chaplain, he ordered
the girl to appoint a night for him to be in the _ruelle_ of the bed
where they slept. She was to say to him. "As soon as monseigneur is
asleep, I will do what you want; come quietly into the _ruelle_ of the
"And you must," he said, "let him do what he likes, and so will I; and
I am sure that when he believes I am asleep, that he will soon have his
arms round you, and I will have ready, near your ----, a noose in which
he will be nicely caught."
The wench was very joyful and satisfied with this arrangement, and
gave the message to the Dominie, who never in his life had been more
delighted, and, without thinking of or imagining peril or danger,
entered his master's chamber, where the wench and his master slept. He
cast all sense and decency to the winds, and only thought of satisfying
his foolish lust,--albeit it was quite natural.
To cut the story short, Master Priest came at the hour appointed, and
crept quietly enough, God knows, into the _ruelle_ of the bed, and his
mistress whispered to him;
"Don't say a word: when monsieur is fast asleep I will touch you, and
then come to me."
"Very good," he replied.
The good knight, who was not asleep, had a great inclination to laugh,
but checked himself, in order not to spoil the joke. As he had proposed
and arranged, he spread his noose where he wished, that is to say round
the spot where the priest wanted to get.
All being ready, the Dominie was called, and as gently as he could,
slipped into the bed, and without more ado, mounted on the heap in order
to see the further. (*)
(*) A proverbial expression founded perhaps on some old
story which may be alluded to also in the 12th and 82nd
As soon as he was lodged there, the good knight drew the cord tightly,
and said aloud,
"Ha! scoundrelly priest, is that the sort of man you are?" The priest
tried to run away, but he could not go far, for the instrument he had
tried to tune to the girl's fiddle was caught in the noose, at which
he was much frightened, and did not know what had happened to him. His
master pulled the cord more tightly, which would have given him great
pain if his fear and alarm had not conquered all other sentiments.
In a few moments he came to himself, and felt the pain and cried
piteously for mercy to his master, who had such a strong desire to laugh
that he could scarcely speak. He pulled the priest into the room and
"Get out, and never come here again! I pardon you in this occasion, but
the second time I shall be inexorable."
"Oh, monsieur," he replied, "I will never do it again. It is all her
fault," and with that he ran away and the knight went to bed again, and
finished what the other had begun.
But you must know that never again was the priest found trespassing on
his master's preserves. Perhaps, as a recompense for his misfortunes the
girl afterwards took pity on him, and to ease her conscience lent him
her fiddle, and he tuned it so well that the master suffered both in
goods and honour. But now I will say no more, and end my story.