The Chaste Lover

By Philippe De Laon.

_Of a rich merchant of the city of Genoa, who married a fair damsel,

who owing to the absence of her husband, sent for a wise clerk--a young,

fit, and proper man--to help her to that of which she had need; and

of the fast that he caused her to make--as you will find more plainly


In the powerful and well-populated city of Genoa, there, lived some
time ago, a merchant who was very rich, and whose business consisted

in sending much merchandise by sea to foreign lands, and especially to

Alexandria. So occupied was he with the management of his ships, and in

heaping up riches, that during all his days, from his tender youth till

the time that he was fifty years of age, he never cared or wanted to do

anything else.

When he had arrived at this last mentioned age, he began to think about

his condition, and to see that he had spent and employed all his days

and years in heaping up riches without ever having for a single minute

or moment been inclined to think of marrying and having children, to

whom the great wealth, that he had by great diligence and labour amassed

and acquired, would succeed. This thought caused him much mental sorrow,

and he was greatly vexed that he had thus spent his youth.

This grief and regret lasted many days, during which time it happened

that in the above-named city, the young children, after they had

solemnized some festival, did as they were accustomed each year, and

variously apparelled and disguised, some this way and some that, came in

great numbers to the place where the public rejoicings of the city are

usually held, to play in the presence of their fathers and mothers, and

to have their costumes praised and admired.

At this assembly was our merchant, still moody and vexed, and the

sight of so many fathers and mothers taking pleasure in watching their

children dance and sport, increased the grief that was preying on his

mind, and, unable to watch them any longer, he returned to his house,

sad and vexed, and retired to his lonely chamber, where he remained some

time, uttering complaints of this kind;

"Ah, poor, miserable, old man that I am and always have been, and for

whom fate and destiny are hard, bitter, and unpleasant. Oh, wretched

man! worn out and weary by watching and work, suffered and borne by

land and sea. Your great riches and heaped-up treasures, which with

many perilous adventures, hard work, and sweat you have amassed, and for

which you have expended all your time, are but vain, for you have never

thought who will possess them, and to whom by human law you should leave

your memory and your name when you are dead and gone. Oh, wicked man,

how could you have been careless of that of which you should have taken

most heed? Marriage never pleased you, and you always feared and refused

it, and even disliked and scorned the good and just counsels of those

who would have found you a wife, in order that you might have offspring

who would perpetuate your name, your praise, and your renown. Oh, how

happy are those parents who leave good and wise children to succeed

them! How many fathers have I seen to-day playing with their children,

who would call themselves most happy, and think they had well employed

their time, if, after their decease, they could leave their children but

one small part of the great wealth that I possess! But what pleasure and

solace can I ever have? What name or fame shall I leave after my death?

Where is the son who will cherish my memory when I am dead? Blessed be

that holy condition of marriage by which the memory and recollection of

fathers is preserved, and by which fiefs, possessions, and heritages are

permanently secured to their happy children!"

When the good merchant had thus argued to himself for a long time, he

suddenly thought of a remedy for his misfortunes, saying;

"Well, I am in future determined, notwithstanding the number of my

years, not to trouble or torment myself with grief, or remorse. At the

worst I have but been like the birds, which prepare their nests before

they begin to lay their eggs. I have, thank God, riches sufficient for

myself, wife, and many children, if it should happen that I have any,

nor am I so old, or so devoid of natural vigour, as to lose hope of even

having any offspring. What I have to do is to watch and work, and use

every endeavour to discover where I shall find a wife fit and proper for


Having finished his soliloquy, he left his chamber, and sent for two of

his comrades--merchant-mariners like himself,--and to them he plainly

stated his case, and requested them to help to find him a wife, for that

was the thing he most desired in the world.

The two merchants, having heard what their comrade had to say, much

applauded his determination, and undertook to make all possible

endeavours to find him a wife.

Whilst they were making enquiries, our merchant,--as hot to get married

as he could be--played the gallant, and sought throughout the city all

the youngest and prettiest girls--to the others he paid small heed.

He searched so well that he found one such as he required,--born

of honest parents, marvellously beautiful, aged only fifteen or

thereabouts, gentle, good-tempered, and well brought up in every


As soon as he knew her virtues and good qualities, he felt such

affection and desire that she should be his lawful wife, that he

asked her hand of her parents and friends; which, after some slight

difficulties that were quickly removed, was given, and the same hour

they were betrothed, and security given by him for the dower he was to

bestow upon her.

If the good merchant had taken pride and pleasure in his merchandise

during the time that he was amassing a fortune, he felt still more when

he saw himself certain of being married, and that to a wife by whom he

could have fine children.

The wedding was honourably celebrated, with all due pomp, and that feast

being over and finished, he forgot all about his former life,--that is

to say on the sea--but lived happily and in great pleasure with his fair

and fond wife.

But this way of life did not last long, for he soon became tired and

bored, and before the first year had expired took a dislike to living at

home in idleness and a humdrum domestic existence, and pined for his

old business of merchant-mariner, which seemed to him easier and more

pleasant than that which he had so willingly undertaken to manage night

and day.

He did nothing but devise how he could get to Alexandria, as he used in

the old days, and it seemed to him that it was not only difficult but

impossible for him to abstain from going to sea. Yet though he firmly

resolved to return to his old profession, he concealed his intention

from his wife, fearing that she might be displeased.

There were also fears and doubts which disturbed him, and prevented him

from executing his designs, for he knew the youth and character of his

wife, and he felt sure that if he were absent she would not be able to

control herself; and he considered also the mutability and variability

of the feminine character, and that the young gallants were accustomed

to pass in front of his house to see his wife, even when he was at

home,--whence he imagined that in his absence they might come closer,

and peradventure even take his place.

For a long time he was tormented by these difficulties and suspicions

without saying a word but as he knew that he had lived the best part of

his life, he now cared little for wife, marriage, and all that concerned

domestic life, and to the arguments and theories which filled his head,

provided a speedy solution by saying;--

"It is better to live than to die, and, if I do not quit my household

very shortly, it is very certain that I shall not live. But then, shall

I leave my fair and affectionate wife? Yes, I will leave her;--she

shall henceforth manage for herself as she pleases; it will no longer

be incumbent on me. Alas, what shall I do? What a dishonour, what

an annoyance it would be for me if she did not continue to guard her

chastity. Ah, yes, it is better to live than to die, that I may be able

to look after her! But God cannot wish that I should take such care

and pains about a woman's belly without any pay or reward, and receive

nothing in return but torture of soul and body. I will not bear all the

trouble and anguish of mind that many suffer in living with their wives.

It angers me and saddens me to think that God only permits me to live

to enjoy the trifling incidents of married life. I want full liberty and

freedom to do what I please."

When the good merchant had finished these sage reflections, he went and

found some of his old comrades, and told them that he wished to visit

Alexandria with a cargo of merchandise, as he had often previously done

in their company,--but he did not tell them of the trouble and anxiety

which his married life caused him.

He soon made all arrangements with them, and they told him to be ready

to start when the first fair wind came. The sailors and cargo were soon

ready, and awaited in a safe place, a fair wind to start.

The good merchant, still firm in his determination, as on the previous

days, found his wife alone in her chamber, and that she should not be

sad at his departure, addressed her in these words.

"My dearest wife, whom I love better than my life, I beg of you to be

of good heart, and show yourself joyful, and be not sad or cast down at

what I am about to say to you. I propose--if it be God's pleasure--to

once more visit Alexandria, as I have long been in the habit of doing;

and it seems to me that you should not be vexed thereat, seeing that

you are aware that that is my business and profession, by which I have

acquired riches, houses, name, and fame, and many good friends. The

handsome and rich ornaments, rings, garments, and other things with

which you are apparelled and ornamented as is no other woman in the

city, as you well know, I have acquired by the profit I have made on my

merchandise. This journey of mine therefore should not trouble you,

for I shall shortly return. And I promise you that if this time,--as I

hope,--Fortune should smile upon me, never will I return there again,

but this time will take leave of it for ever. You must therefore be

of good courage, and I will leave in your hands the disposition,

administration, and management of all the goods which I possess; but

before I leave I have some requests to make of you.

"The first is, I beg of you to be happy whilst I am on my voyage, and

live comfortably; for if I know that such is the case I shall have

greater pleasure in my voyage. For the second, you know that nothing

should be hidden or concealed between us two, and all honour, profit,

and renown should be--as I know they are--common to both of us, and

the praise and honour of the one cannot exist without the glory of the

other, and similarly the dishonour of the one would be the shame of us

both. I wish you to understand that I am not so devoid of sense that I

am not aware that I leave you young, beautiful, kind, fresh, and tender,

and without the consolation of a husband; and that many men will desire

you. And although I firmly believe that you are now fully resolved,

nevertheless, when I think of your age and inclinations and the warmth

of your desires, it does not seem possible to me that you should not,

out of pure necessity and compulsion, enjoy the company of a man during

my absence. It is my will and pleasure therefore to permit you to grant

those favours which nature compels you to grant. I would beg of you

though to respect our marriage vow unbroken as long as you possibly can.

I neither intend nor wish to leave you in the charge of any person, but

leave you to be your own guardian. Truly, there is no duenna, however

watchful, who can prevent a woman from doing what she wishes. When

therefore your desires shall prick and spur you on, I would beg you, my

dear wife, to act with such circumspection in their execution that they

may not be publicly known,--for if you do otherwise, you, and I, and all

our friends will be infamous and dishonoured.

"If then you cannot remain chaste, at least take pains to retain your

reputation. I will teach you how that is to be done, if the need should

arise. You know that in our good city there are plenty of handsome

men. From amongst these choose one only, and be content to do with him

whatever nature may incline you to do. At all events, I wish that in

making your choice you should take particular care that he is not a

vagabond, or dishonest, or disreputable person, for great dangers might

arise from your acquaintance with such a person, inasmuch as he would,

without doubt publish your secret.

"You will select one therefore who is, you are sure, both wise and

prudent, and who will take as much pains to conceal your amour as you do

yourself. This I beg of you, and that you will promise me honestly and

loyally to remember this lesson. I do not advise you to reply in the way

that other women are accustomed to when similar proposals are made

to them. I know what they would say, which would be somewhat to this

effect. 'Oh, husband! what do you mean by speaking like that? How could

you have such a cruel, unjust opinion of me? How can you imagine that I

should commit such an abominable crime? No! no! God forbid that I should

make you such a promise. I will rather wish that the earth may open and

swallow me up alive the day and hour--I will not say commit--but even

think of committing such a sin.

"My dear wife, I have shown you this way of replying in order that you

may not use the same to me. I firmly and truly believe that at the

present moment you are fully determined to remain chaste, and I desire

you to remain of that opinion as long as nature will permit you. And

understand that I do not wish you to break your vows unless you are

unable to battle against the appetites of your frail and weak youth."

When the good merchant had finished his speech, his fair, kind, and

gentle wife, her face all suffused with blushes, trembled, and could not

for some moments reply to what her husband had said. Soon her blushes

vanished, her confidence returned, and calling up all her courage, she

replied in these words;

"My kind, and greatly beloved husband, I assure you that never have I

been so disturbed and troubled by any speech I have ever heard, as I

am now by your words, by which I learn something that I never heard or

guessed. You know my simplicity, youth, and innocence, and you say that

it is not possible at my age to avoid committing such a fault, and that

you are sure and know positively that when you are away I shall not be

able to preserve our marriage vow in its integrity. That speech greatly

vexed my heart, and made me tremble, and I do not know how I can reply

to your arguments. You have deprived me of the reply I should have made,

but I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that with joined hands I

beg most humbly of God that he may cause an abyss to open in which I may

be thrown, that my limbs may be torn off, and that I may suffer a most

cruel death, if ever the day comes when I shall not only be disloyal to

our marriage vow, but even think for a brief moment of being disloyal.

How, and in what manner I could be brought to commit such a crime, I am

unable to comprehend. And as you have forbidden me to reply as I should,

telling me that women are accustomed to make elusive and false excuses,

I will to give you pleasure, and allay your suspicions, and that you

may see that I am ready to obey and keep your commands, promise you this

moment with firm and immutable faith and constancy, to await the day

of your return in true, pure, and entire chastity of body, and may God

forbid that the contrary should happen. Be fully assured that I will

obey your orders in every respect. If there is anything else you wish

or command, I beg of you to inform me, and I will perform your will (I

desire nothing else) and not my own."

Our merchant, when he heard his wife's reply, was so overjoyed that he

could not refrain from weeping, and said:

"My dearest spouse, since you have of your great kindness given me the

promise that I required, I beg of you to keep it."

The following morning, the good merchant was sent for by his comrades to

put to sea. So he took leave of his wife, and commended her to the care

of God. Then he put to sea to sail to Alexandria where they arrived in

a few days, the wind being favourable, at which place they stayed a long

time both to deliver their merchandise and take in fresh cargoes.

During this time the gracious damsel of whom I have spoken remained in

the house with, as her only companion, a little girl who served her. As

I have said, this fair damsel was but fifteen years of age, therefore

any fault that she committed must be imputed, not to a vicious

character, but to youth and inexperience.

When the merchant had been absent many days, little by little she

began to forget him. As soon as the young men of the city knew of his

departure, they came to visit her. At first she would neither leave the

house nor show herself, but as they continued to come daily, she, on

account of the great pleasure she took in sweet and melodious songs and

harmonies of all instruments, which they played outside her door, peeped

through the crevices of the windows and the trellis so that she could

see the musicians, and they for their part were quite willing to be


In hearing these songs and dances she took so much pleasure, that her

mind was filled with love, and the natural warmth of her affections

often tempted her to incontinence. So often was she visited in this

manner, that in the end her concupiscence and carnal desires conquered,

and she was fairly hit by the dart of love. She often thought how easy

it was for her to find time and place for any lover, for no one guarded

her, and no one could prevent her putting her designs in execution, and

she came to the conclusion that her husband was very wise when he said

he was positive that she could not preserve continence and chastity,

although she wished to keep the promise she had made to him.

"It is right then," she said to herself, "for me to follow my husband's

advice; by doing which I shall incur no dishonour, since he himself

gave me permission, and I shall not violate the promise I made him.

I remember rightly that he charged me that if ever I broke my vow of

chastity, that I should choose a man who was wise, of good fame, and

great virtues, and no other. That is what I will really do, as I may

without disobeying my husband's instructions, and by following his good

advice which was ample for my purpose. I suppose that he did not intend

that the man should be old, and it seems to me that he should be young,

but having as good a reputation for learning and science as any old man.

Such was my husband's advice, I remember."

At the same time that the damsel was making these reflections, and was

searching for a wise and prudent, young man to cool her bowels, there

fortunately arrived in the city a very wise young clerk, who had newly

arrived from the university of Bologna, where he had been several years

without once returning to his native city. Such attention had he given

to his studies that there was not in all the country a clerk who enjoyed

such a reputation amongst the learned men of the city, whom he assisted


He was accustomed to go every day to the Town Hall on the market-place,

and was obliged to pass before the house of the said damsel, who was

much struck by his appearance and pleasant manners. And although he had

never filled any clerical office, she came to the conclusion that he

was a very learned clerk, and fell deeply in love with him, saying to

herself that he would be the man to guard her husband's secret; but

how she was to inform him of her great and ardent love, and reveal the

secret desires of her mind she knew not,--at which she was much vexed.

She bethought herself that as every day he passed before her house on

his way to the market place, that she would be upon her balcony, dressed

as handsomely as possible, in order that when he passed he might notice

her beauty, and so be led to desire those favours which would not be

refused him.

Many times did the damsel so show herself, although that had not

previously been her custom, and though she was pleasant to gaze upon,

and her youthful mind was filled with thoughts of love, the wise clerk

never perceived her, for in walking he glanced neither to the right nor


This plan of the damsel's was not as successful as she imagined it would

be. She was very sorrowful, and the more she thought of the clerk, the

more ardent did her desires become. At last, after a number of plans had

suggested themselves to her, and which for the sake of brevity I pass

over, she determined to send her little servant-maid to him. So she

called her, and ordered her to go and ask for such-an-one,--that is to

say, the learned clerk--and when she had found him, to tell him to come

in haste to the house of such a damsel, the wife of so-and-so; and if he

should ask what the damsel wanted, she was to reply that she knew not,

but only knew that he was urgently required to come at once.

The little girl learned her message, and went forth to seek him; and she

was soon shown a house where he was at dinner with a great company of

his friends, and other people of high degree.

The girl entered the house, and saluting all the company, asked for the

clerk, and delivered her message properly. The good clerk, who had been

acquainted since his youth with the merchant of whom the girl spoke, and

knew his house as he did his own, but was not aware that he was married

or who was his wife, imagined that during the husband's absence, the

wife had need of advice on some weighty matter, for he knew that the

husband was away, and had no suspicion of the cause of his invitation.

He said to the girl;

"My dear, go and tell your mistress that as soon as dinner is over I

will come to her."

The messenger duly delivered these words, and God knows how she was

received by her mistress. When she heard that the clerk, her lover,

would come, she was more joyful than ever woman was, and owing to the

great joy she felt at having the clerk in the house, she trembled and

did not know what to do. She caused the house to be well swept, and fair

herbage to be spread in her chamber, covered the bed and the couch with

rich tapestry and embroidery, and dressed and adorned herself with her

most precious belongings.

Then she waited a little time, which seemed to her marvellous long on

account of the great desire she had, and so impatient was she for his

arrival, and that she might perceive him coming afar off, she went up to

her chamber and then came down again, and went now hither, now thither,

and was so excited that it seemed as though she were out of her senses.

At last she went up to her chamber, and there laid out all the riches

and delicacies that she had prepared to feast her lover. She made the

little servant-maid stay below to let the clerk in, and conduct him to

her mistress.

When he arrived, the servant-maid received him, and let him in and

closed the door, leaving his servants outside, whom she told that they

were to await their master's return.

The damsel, hearing that her lover had arrived, could not refrain from

running down stairs to meet him, and she saluted him politely. Then she

took his hand and led him to the chamber which she had prepared. He

was much astonished when he arrived there, not only by the diversity of

splendours that he saw, but also by the great beauty of the fair girl

who conducted him.

As soon as they were in the chamber, she sat down on a stool by the

couch, and made him sit on another by her side, and there they both sat

for a certain time, without saying a word, for each waited for the other

to speak, though in very different ways, for the clerk imagined that the

damsel would consult him on some great and difficult matter, and wished

her to begin; whilst she, on the other hand, knowing how wise and

prudent he was, believed that he would know why he had been sent for

without her telling him.

When she saw that he made no attempt to speak, she began, and said;

"My very dear and true friend, and learned man, I will tell you at once

why I have sent for you. I believe that you are well-acquainted and

familiar with my husband. He has left me, in the condition you now see

me, whilst he goes to Alexandria to bring back merchandise, as he has

long been used. Before his departure, he told me that when he was away,

he was sure that my weak and fragile nature would cause me to lose my

chastity, and that necessity would compel me to have intercourse with

a man to quench the natural longings I should be sure to feel after

his departure. And truly I deem him a very wise man, for that which I

thought impossible I find has happened, for my youth, beauty, and nature

rebel against wasting away in vain. That you may understand me plainly

I will tell you that my wise and thoughtful husband when he left, knew

that as all young and tender plants dry and wither when they cannot

fulfil the needs of their nature, so it was likely to be with me.

And seeing clearly that my nature and constitution were likely to be

controlled by my natural desires, which I could not long resist, he made

me swear and promise that, if nature should force me to become unchaste,

I would choose a wise man of good position, who would carefully guard

our secret. I do not think there is in all the city a man more worthy

than yourself, for you are young and very wise. I do not suppose then

that you will refuse me or repel me. You see me as I am, and you may,

during the absence of my husband, supply his place if you wish, and

without the knowledge of any one; place, time, and opportunity all

favour us."

The gentleman was much surprised and moved at what the lady said, but

he concealed his emotion. He took her right hand and with a smiling face

addressed her in these words:

"I ought to render infinite thanks to Dame Fortune, who has to-day given

me so much pleasure, and the attainment of the greatest happiness

I could have in this world; never in my life will I call myself

unfortunate, since Fortune has granted me this great favour. I may

certainly say that I am to-day the happiest of men, for when I consider,

my beautiful and kind mistress, how we may joyously pass our days

together, without any person's knowledge or interference, I almost faint

with joy. Where is the man more favoured by Fortune than I am? If it

were not for one thing which forms a slight obstacle to our love affair,

I should be the luckiest man on earth, and I am greatly vexed and

annoyed that I cannot overcome that difficulty."

When the damsel, who had never imagined that any difficulty could arise,

heard that there was an obstacle which would prevent her indulging her

passions, she was very sad and sorrowful, and begged him to say what it

was, in order that she might find a remedy if possible.

"The obstacle," he said, "is not so great that it cannot be removed in a

little time, and, since you are kind enough to wish to know what it is,

I will tell you. When I was studying at the University of Bologna,

the people of the city rose in insurrection against their ruler. I was

accused, along with some others, my companions, of having stirred up

this insurrection, and I was closely imprisoned. When I found myself in

prison, and in danger of losing my life, though I knew I was innocent, I

made a vow to God, promising that if He would deliver me from prison and

restore me to my friends and relations in this city, I would, for love

of Him, fast for a whole year on bread and water, and during that fast

would not allow my body to sin. Now I have, by His aid, accomplished

the greater part of the year and but little remains. I would beg of you

therefore, since it is your pleasure to choose me as your lover, not to

change again for any man in the world, and not to fret over the little

delay that is necessary for me to accomplish my fast, and which is now

but a very short time, and would have been long since over if I had

dared to confide in some one else who could help me, for any days that

others will fast for me are counted as though I fasted myself. And as I

perceive the great love and confidence you have for me, I will, if you

wish, place a trust in you that I have never put in my brothers, nor

my friends, nor relations. I will ask you to help me with the remaining

part of the fast to accomplish the year, that I may the sooner aid you

in the matter you have desired of me. My kind friend, I have but sixty

days to fast, which--if it is your will and pleasure--I will divide in

two parts, of which you shall have one and I will have the other, on

condition that you promise to perform your part honestly and without

fraud, and when all is completed, we will pass our days pleasantly. If

therefore, you are willing to help me in the manner I have said, tell me

at once."

It is to be supposed that this long delay was hardly pleasing to the

young woman, but as her lover had asked her so kindly, and also because

she wished the fast to be finished, that she might accomplish her

desires with her lover, and thinking also that thirty days would not

much interfere with her intentions, she promised to perform her share

without fraud, deception, or imposition.

The good gentleman, seeing that he had won his case and that his affairs

were prospering, took leave of the damsel, (who suspected no harm) and

told her that as it was on his road from his home to the market-place to

pass by her house, he would, without fail, often come and visit her, and

so he departed.

The fair damsel began the next day her fast, making a rule for herself

that during all the time of the fast she would eat nothing but bread and

water until the sun had set.

When she had fasted three days, the wise clerk, as he was going to the

market-place at the accustomed time, called upon the lady, with whom he

talked long, and then, as he was saying farewell, asked her if she had

commenced the fast? She replied she had.

"Can you continue," he said, "and keep your promise until all is


"I can entirely," she replied; "do not fear."

He took leave and departed, and she went on from day to day with her

fast, and kept her vow as she had promised, such being her good-nature.

Before she had fasted eight days, her natural heat began to decrease so

much that she was forced to change her clothes and put on furs and thick

garments, which are usually only worn in winter, instead of the light

robes which she wore before she began the fast.

On the fifteenth day, she received a visit from her lover, who found

her so weak that she could hardly move about the house, but the poor

simpleton was firmly resolved not to practise any trickery, so deeply

in love was she, and so firmly resolved to persevere with this fast,

for the sake of the joys and pleasant delights which awaited her at the


The clerk, when he entered the house, and saw her so feeble, said;

"What kind of face is that, and how is your health? Now I see that you

are sorry you undertook this long fast! Ah, my sweetest love! have a

firm and constant mind. We have to-day achieved the half of our task: if

your nature is weak, conquer it by firmness and constancy of heart, and

do not break your faithful promise."

He admonished her so kindly, that she took courage, so that it seemed to

her that the remaining fifteen days would hardly be noticed.

The twentieth came, and the poor simpleton had lost all colour and

seemed half dead, and felt no more desires of concupiscence than if she

had been really dead. She was obliged to take to her bed and continually

remain there, and then, it occurred to her mind that the clerk had

caused her to fast to punish her carnal appetites, and she came to the

conclusion that his methods were ingenious and effective, and would not

have been thought of by a less clever and good man.

Nevertheless, she was not less resolved to go on to the ead, and

thoroughly fulfil her promise.

On the last day but one of the fast, she sent for the clerk, who, when

he saw her in bed asked her if she had lost courage now that there was

only one day more to run?

But she, interrupting him, replied;

"Ah, my good friend, you loved me with a true and perfect love, and not

dishonourably, as I dared to love you. Therefore I shall esteem you, as

long as God gives life to me and to you, as my dearest and best friend,

who protected, and taught me to protect, my chastity, and the honour and

good name, of me, my husband, my relatives, and my friends. Blessed also

be my dear husband, whose advice and counsels I have kept, to the great

solace of my heart. But for you, my friend, I render you such thanks as

I may, for your honourable conduct and your great kindness to me, for

which I can never sufficiently requite you, nor can my friends."

The good and wise clerk, seeing that he had achieved his object, took

leave of the fair damsel, and gently admonished her and advised her that

she should in future correct her body by abstinence and fasting whenever

she felt any prickings of lust. By which means she lived chastely until

the return of her husband, who knew nothing of the matter, for she

concealed it from him--and so also did the clerk.