Forced Willingly

By Philippe De Saint-Yon.

_Of a girl who complained of being forced by a young man, whereas

she herself had helped him to find that which he sought;--and of the

judgment which was given thereon._

The incident on which I found my story happened so recently that I need

not alter, nor add to, nor suppress, the facts. There recently came

to the provost at Quesnay, a fair wench, to
omplain of the force and

violence she had suffered owing to the uncontrollable lust of a young

man. The complaint being laid before the provost, the young man accused

of this crime was seized, and as the common people say, was already

looked upon as food for the gibbet, or the headsman's axe.

The wench, seeing and knowing that he of whom she had complained was

in prison, greatly pestered the provost that justice might be done

her, declaring that without her will and consent, she had by force been

violated and dishonoured.

The provost, who was a discreet and wise man, and very experienced in

judicial matters, assembled together all the notables and chief men, and

commanded the prisoner to be brought forth, and he having come before

the persons assembled to judge him, was asked whether he would confess,

by torture or otherwise, the horrible crime laid to his charge, and the

provost took him aside and adjured him to tell the truth.

"Here is such and such a woman," said he, "who complains bitterly that

you have forced her. Is it so? Have you forced her? Take care that you

tell the truth, for if you do not you will die, but if you do you will

be pardoned."

"On my oath, provost," replied the prisoner, "I will not conceal from

you that I have often sought her love. And, in fact, the day before

yesterday, after a long talk together, I laid her upon the bed, to do

you know what, and pulled up her dress, petticoat, and chemise. But

my weasel could not find her rabbit hole, and went now here now there,

until she kindly showed it the right road, and with her own hands pushed

it in. I am sure that it did not come out till it had found its prey,

but as to force, by my oath there was none."

"Is that true?" asked the provost.

"Yes, on my oath," answered the young man.

"Very good," said he, "we shall soon arrange matters."

After these words, the provost took his seat in the pontifical chair,

surrounded by all the notable persons; and the young man was seated on

a small bench in front of the judges, and all the people, and of her who

accused him.

'"Now, my dear," said the provost, "what have you to say about the


"Provost!" said she, "I complain that he has forced me and violated me

against my will and in spite of me. Therefore I demand justice."

"What have you to say in reply?" asked the provost of the prisoner.

"Sir," he replied, "I have already told how it happened, and I do not

think she can contradict me."

"My dear!" said the provost to the girl, "think well of what you are

saying! You complain of being forced. It is a very serious charge! He

says that he did not use any force, but that you consented, and indeed

almost asked for what you got. And if he speaks truly, you yourself

directed his weasel, which was wandering about near your rabbit-hole,

and with your two hands--or at least with one--pushed the said weasel

into your burrow. Which thing he could never have done without your

help, and if you had resisted but ever so little he would never have

effected his purpose. If his weasel was allowed to rummage in your

burrow, that is not his fault, and he is not punishable."

"Ah, Provost," said the girl plaintively, "what do you mean by that? It

is quite true, and I will not deny it, that I conducted his weasel into

my burrow--but why did I do so? By my oath, Sir, its head was so stiff,

and its muzzle so hard, that I was sure that it would make a large cut,

or two or three, on my belly, if I did not make haste and put it where

it could do little harm--and that is what I did."

You may fancy what a burst of laughter there was at the end of

this trial, both from the judges and the public. The young man was

discharged,--to continue his rabbit-hunting if he saw fit.

The girl was angry that he was not hanged on a high forked tree for

having hung on her "low forks" (*). But this anger and resentment did

not last long, for as I heard afterwards on good authority, peace was

concluded between them, and the youth had the right to ferret in the

coney burrow whenever he felt inclined.

(*) A play upon words, which is not easily translatable, in

allusion to the gallows.