Foolish Fear

By Monseigneur Philippe Vignier.

_Of a young man of Rouen, married to a fair, young girl of the age of

fifteen or thereabouts; and how the mother of the girl wished to have

the marriage annulled by the Judge of Rouen, and of the sentence which

the said Judge pronounced when he had heard the parties--as you will

hear more plainly in the course of the said story._

In the good tow
of Rouen, not long ago, a young man was married to a

fair and tender virgin, aged fifteen, or thereabouts. On the day of the

great feast--that is to say, the wedding--the mother of the young girl,

as is customary in such cases, instructed the bride in all the mysteries

of wedlock, and taught her how to behave to her husband on the first


The young girl, who was looking forward to the time when she could put

these doctrines into practice, took great pains and trouble to remember

the lesson given her by her good mother, and it seemed to her that when

the time came for her to put these counsels into execution, that she

would perform her duties so well that her husband would praise her, and

be well pleased with her.

The wedding was performed with all honour and due solemnity, and the

desired night came; and soon after the feast was ended, and the young

people had withdrawn after having taken leave of the newly married

couple,--the mother, cousins, neighbours, and other lady friends led

the bride to the chamber where she was to spend the night with her

husband, where they joyfully divested her of her raiment, and put her to

bed, as was right and proper. Then they wished her good-night, and one


"My dear, may God give you joy and pleasure in your husband, and may you

so live with him as to be for the salvation of both your souls."

Another said: "My dear, God give you such peace and happiness with your

husband, that the heavens may be filled with your works."

After they all had expressed similar wishes, they left. The bride's

mother, who remained the last, questioned her daughter to see whether

she remembered the lesson she had been taught. And the girl, who, as the

proverb goes, did not carry her tongue in her pocket, replied that

she well remembered all that had been told her, and--thank God--had

forgotten nothing.

"Well done," said the mother. "Now I will leave you, and recommend

you to God, and pray that He may give you good luck. Farewell, my dear


"Farewell, my good and wise mother."

As soon as the schoolmistress had finished, the husband who was outside

the door expecting something better, came in. The mother closed the

door, and told him that she hoped he would be gentle with her daughter.

He promised that he would, and as soon as he had bolted the door,

he--who had on nothing on but his doublet,--threw it off, jumped on

the bed, drew as close as he could to his bride, and, lance in hand,

prepared to give battle.

But when he approached the barrier where the skirmish was to take place,

the girl laid hold of his lance, which was as straight and stiff as a

cowkeeper's horn, and when she felt how hard and big it was, she was

very frightened, and began to cry aloud, and said that her shield was

not strong enough to receive and bear the blows of such a huge weapon.

Do all he would, the husband could not persuade her to joust with

him, and this bickering lasted all night, without his being able to do

anything, which much displeased our bridegroom. Nevertheless, he was

patient, hoping to make up for lost time the next night, but it was

the same as the first night, and so was the third, and so on up to the

fifteenth, matters remaining just as I have told you.

When fifteen days had passed since the young couple had been married,

and they had still not come together, the mother came to visit her

pupil, and after a thousand questions, spoke to the girl of her husband,

and asked what sort of man he was, and whether he did his duty well? And

the girl said that he was a nice, young man, quiet and peaceable.

"But," said the mother; "does he do what he ought to do?"

"Yes," said the girl, "but-----"

"But _what?_" said the mother. "You are keeping something back I am

sure. Tell me at once, and conceal nothing; for I must know now. Is he a

man capable of performing his marital duties in the way I taught you?"

The poor girl, being thus pressed, was obliged to own that he had not

yet done the business, but she did not say that she was the cause of the

delay, and that she had always refused the combat.

When her mother heard this sad news, God knows what a disturbance she

made, swearing by all her gods that she would soon find a remedy for

that, for she was well acquainted with the judge of Rouen, who was her

friend, and would favour her cause.

"The marriage must be annulled," she said, "and I have no doubt that I

shall be able to find out the way, and you may be sure, my child, that

before two days are over you will be divorced and married to another man

who will not let you rest in peace all that time. You leave the matter

to me."

The good woman, half beside herself, went and related her wrong to her

husband, the father of the girl, and told him that they had lost their

daughter, and adducing many reasons why the marriage should be annulled.

She pleaded her cause so well that her husband took her side, and was

content that the bridegroom, (who knew no reason why a complaint should

be lodged against him) should be cited before the Judge. But, at any

rate, he was personally summoned to appear before the Judge, at his

wife's demand, to show cause why he should not leave her, and permit her

to marry again, or explain the reasons why, in so many days that he had

lived with her, he had not demonstrated that he was a man, and performed

the duties that a husband should.

When the day came, the parties presented themselves at the proper time

and place, and they were called upon to state their case. The mother of

the bride began to plead her daughter's cause, and God knows the laws

concerning marriage which she quoted, none of which, she maintained,

had her son-in-law fulfilled; therefore she demanded that he should be

divorced from her daughter at once without any more ado.

The young man was much astonished to find himself thus attacked, but

lost no time in replying to the allegations of his adversary, and

quietly stated his case, and related how his wife had always refused to

allow him to perform his marital duties.

The mother, when she heard this reply, was more angry than ever, and

would hardly believe it, and asked her daughter if that was true which

her husband had said?

"Yes, truly, mother," she replied.

"Oh, wretched girl," said her mother, "why did you refuse? Did I not

teach you your lesson many times?"

The poor girl could not reply, so ashamed was she.

"At any rate," said her mother, "I must know the reason why you have

refused. Tell it me at once, or I shall be horrible angry."

The girl was obliged to confess that she had found the lance of the

champion so big that she had not dared to present her shield, fearing

that he would kill her; and so she still felt, and was not re-assured

upon that point, although her mother had told her not be afraid. After

this the mother addressed the Judge, and said:

"Monseigneur, you have heard the confession of my daughter, and the

defence of my son-in-law. I beg of you to give judgment at once."

The judge ordered a bed to be prepared in his house, and the couple to

lie on it together, and commanded the bride to boldly lay hold of the

stick or instrument, and put it where it was ordered to go. When this

judgment was given, the mother said;

"Thank you, my lord; you have well judged. Come along, my child, do what

you should, and take care not to disobey the judge, and put the lance

where it ought to be put."

"I am satisfied," said the daughter, "to put it where it ought to go,

but it may rot there before I will take it out again."

So they left the Court, and went and carried out the sentence

themselves, without the aid of any sergeants. By this means the young

man enjoyed his joust, and was sooner sick of it than she who would not