By Monseigneur De Fiennes.
_Of a Count who would ravish by force a fair, young girl who was one of
his subjects, and how she escaped from him by means of his leggings,
and how he overlooked her conduct and helped her to a husband, as is
I know that in many of the stories already related the names of the
persons concerned are not stated, but I desire to give,
in my little
history, the name of Comte Valerien, who was in his time Count of St.
Pol, and was called "the handsome Count". Amongst his other lordships,
he was lord of a village in the district of Lille, called Vrelenchem,
about a league distant from Lille.
This gentle Count, though of a good and kind nature, was very amorous.
He learned by report from one of his retainers, who served him in these
matters, that at the said Vrelenchem there resided a very pretty girl
of good condition. He was not idle in these matters, and soon after he
heard the news, he was in that village, and with his own eyes confirmed
the report that his faithful servants had given him concerning the said
"The next thing to be done," said the noble Count, "is that I must speak
to her alone, no matter what it may cost me."
One of his followers, who was a doctor by profession, said, "My lord,
for your honour and that of the maiden also, it seems to me better that
I should make known to her your will, and you can frame your conduct
according to the reply that I receive."
He did as he said, and went to the fair maiden and saluted her
courteously, and she, who was as wise as she was fair and good, politely
returned his salute.
To cut matters short, after a few ordinary phrases, the worthy messenger
preached much about the possessions and the honours of his master, and
told her that if she liked she would be the means of enriching all her
The fair damsel knew what o'clock it was. (*) Her reply was like
herself--fair and good--for it was that she would obey, fear, and serve
the Count in anything that did not concern her honour, but that she held
as dear as her life.
(*) A literal translation. La bonne fille entendit tantost
quelle heure il estoit.
The one who was astonished and vexed at this reply was our go-between,
who returned disappointed to his master, his embassy having failed. It
need not be said that the Count was not best pleased at hearing of this
proud and harsh reply made by the woman he loved better than anyone in
the world, and whose person he wished to enjoy. But he said, "Let us
leave her alone for the present. I shall devise some plan when she
thinks I have forgotten her."
He left there soon afterwards, and did not return until six weeks had
passed, and, when he did return it was very quietly, and he kept himself
private, and his presence unknown.
He learned from his spies one day that the fair maiden was cutting grass
at the edge of a wood, and aloof from all company; at which he was very
joyful, and, all booted as he was, set out for the place in company with
his spies. And when he came near to her whom he sought, he sent away his
company, and stole close to her before she was aware of his presence.
She was astonished and confused, and no wonder, to see the Count so
close to her, and she turned pale and could not speak, for she knew by
report that he was a bold and dangerous man to women.
"Ha, fair damsel," said the Count, "you are wondrous proud! One is
obliged to lay siege to you. Now defend yourself as best you can, for
there will be a battle between us, and, before I leave, you shall suffer
by my will and desire, all the pains that I have suffered and endured
for love of you."
"Alas, my lord!" said the young girl, who was frightened and surprised.
"I ask your mercy! If I have said or done anything that may displease
you, I ask your pardon; though I do not think I have said or done
anything for which you should owe me a grudge. I do not know what report
was made of me. Dishonourable proposals were made to me in your name,
but I did not believe them, for I deem you so virtuous that on no
account would you dishonour one of your poor, humble subjects like me,
but on the contrary protect her."
"Drop this talk!" said my lord, "and be sure that you shall not escape
me. I told you why I sent to you, and of the good I intended to do you,"
and without another word, he seized her in his arms, and threw her down
on a heap of grass which was there, and pressed her closely, and quickly
made all preparations to accomplish his desire.
The young girl, who saw that she was on the point of losing that which
she held most precious, bethought her of a trick, and said,
"Ah, my lord, I surrender! I will do whatever you like, and without
refusal or contradiction, but it would be better that you should do with
me whatever you will by my free consent, than by force and against my
will accomplish your intent."
"At any rate," said my lord, "you shall not escape me! What is it you
"I would beg of you," said she, "to do me the honour not to dirty me
with your leggings, which are greasy and dirty, and which you do not
"What can I do with them?" asked my lord.
"I will take them off nicely for you," said she, "if you please; for
by my word, I have neither heart nor courage to welcome you if you wear
those mucky leggings."
"The leggings do not make much difference," said my lord, "nevertheless
if you wish it, they shall be taken off."
Then he let go of her, and seated himself on the grass, and stretched
out his legs, and the fair damsel took off his spurs, and then tugged
at one of his leggings, which were very tight. And when with much
difficulty she had got it half off, she ran away as fast as her legs
could carry her with her will assisting, and left the noble Count, and
never ceased running until she was in her father's house.
The worthy lord who was thus deceived was in as great a rage as he could
be. With much trouble he got on his feet, thinking that if he stepped
on his legging he could pull it off, but it was no good, it was too
tight, and there was nothing for him to do but return to his servants.
He did not go very far before he found his retainers waiting for him by
the side of a ditch; they did not know what to think when they saw him
in that disarray. He related his story, and they put his boots on for
him, and if you had heard him you would have thought that she who thus
deceived him was not long for this world, he so cursed and threatened
But angry as he was for a time, his anger soon cooled, and was converted
into sincere respect. Indeed he afterwards provided for her, and married
her at his own cost and expense to a rich and good husband, on account
of her frankness and loyalty.