The Lady Who Lost Her Hair

By Monseigneur.

_Of a noble lord who was in love with a damsel who cared for another

great lord, but tried to keep it secret; and of the agreement made

between the two lovers concerning her, as you shall hereafter hear._

A noble knight who lived in the marches of Burgundy, who was wise,

valiant, much esteemed, and worthy of the great reputation he had, was

so much in the graces
of a fair damsel, that he was esteemed as her

lover, and obtained from her, at sundry times, all the favours that she

could honourably give him. She was also smitten with a great and noble

lord, a prudent man, whose name and qualities I pass over, though if I

were to recount them there is not one of you who would not recognise the

person intended, which I do not wish.

This gentle lord, I say, soon perceived the love affair of the valiant

gentleman just named, and asked him if he were not in the good graces of

such and such a damsel,--that is to say the lady before mentioned.

He replied that he was not, but the other, who knew the contrary to be

case, said that he was sure he was,

"For whatever he might say or do, he should not try to conceal such a

circumstance, for if the like or anything more important had occurred to

him (the speaker) he would not have concealed it."

And having nothing else to do, and to pass the time, he found means to

make her fall in love with him. In which he succeeded, for in a very

short time he was high in her graces and could boast of having obtained

her favours without any trouble to win them.

The other did not expect to have a companion, but you must not think

that the fair wench did not treat him as well or better than before,

which encouraged him in his foolish love. And you must know that the

brave wench was not idle, for she entertained the two at once, and would

with much regret have lost either, and more especially the last-comer,

for he was of better estate and furnished with a bigger lance than her

first lover; and she always assigned them different times to come, one

after the other, as for instance one to-day and the other to-morrow.

The last-comer knew very well what she was doing, but he pretended

not to, and in fact he cared very little, except that he was rather

disgusted at the folly of the first-comer, who esteemed too highly a

thing of little value.

So he made up his mind that he would warn his rival, which he did. He

knew that the days on which the wench had forbidden him to come to

her (which displeased him much) were reserved for his friend the

first-comer. He kept watch several nights, and saw his rival enter by

the same door and at the same hour as he did himself on the other days.

One day he said to him, "You well concealed your amours with such an

one. I am rather astonished that you had so little confidence in me,

considering what I know to be really the case between you and her. And

in order that you may understand that I know all, let me tell you that

I saw you enter her house at such and such an hour, and indeed no longer

ago than yesterday I had an eye upon you, and from a place where I was,

I saw you arrive--you know whether I speak the truth."

When the first-comer heard this accusation, he did not know what to say,

and he was forced to confess what he would have willingly concealed,

and which he thought no one knew but himself; and he told the last-comer

that he would not conceal the fact that he was in love, but begged him

not to make it known.

"And what would you say," asked the other, "if you found you had a


"Companion?" said he; "What companion? In a love affair? I never thought

of it."

"By St. John!" said the last-comer, "I ought not to keep you longer in

suspense--it is I. And since I see that you are in love with a woman

who is not worth it, and if I had not more pity on you than you have on

yourself I should leave you in your folly, but I cannot suffer such a

wench to deceive you and me so long."

If any one was astonished at this news it was the first-comer who

believed himself firmly established in the good graces of the wench, and

that she loved no one but him. He did not know what to say or think, and

for a long time could not speak a word. When at last he spoke, he said,

"By Our Lady! they have given me the onion (*) and I never suspected it.

I was easily enough deceived. May the devil carry away the wench, just

as she is!"

(*) i.e. "they have made a fool of me."

"She has fooled the two of us," said the last-comer;

"at least she has begun well,--but we must even fool her."

"Do so I beg," said the first. "St. Anthony's fire burn me if ever I see

the jade again."

"You know," said the second, "that we go to her each in turn. Well, the

next time that you go, you must tell her that you well know that I am

in love with her, and that you have seen me enter her house at such an

hour, and dressed in such a manner, and that, by heaven, if ever you

find me there again you will kill me stone dead, whatever may happen to

you. I will say the same thing about you, and we shall then see what she

will say and do, and then we shall know how to act."

"Well said, and just what I would wish," said the first.

As it was arranged, so was it done, for some days later it was the

last-comer's turn to go and visit her; he set out and came to the place


When he was alone with the wench, who received him very kindly and

lovingly it appeared, he put on--as he well knew how--a troubled,

bothered air, and pretended to be very angry. She, who had been

accustomed to see him quite otherwise, did not know what to think, and

she asked what was the matter, for his manner showed that his heart was

not at ease.

"Truly, mademoiselle," said he, "you are right; and I have good cause to

be displeased and angry. Moreover, it is owing to you that I am in this


"To me?" said she. "Alas, I have done nothing that I am aware of, for

you are the only man in the world to whom I would give pleasure, and

whose grief and displeasure touch my heart."

"The man who refuses to believe that will not be damned," said he. "Do

you think that I have not perceived that you are on good terms with

so-and-so (that is to say the first-comer). It is so, by my oath, and

I have but too often seen him speak to you apart, and, what is more, I

have watched and seen him enter here. But by heaven, if ever I find him

here his last day has come, whatever may happen to me in consequence. I

could not allow him to be aware that he has done me this injury--I would

rather die a thousand times if it were possible. And you are as false as

he is for you know of a truth that after God I love no one but you, and

yet you encourage him, and so do me great wrong!"

"Ah, monseigneur!" she replied, "who has told you this story? By my

soul! I wish that God and you should know that it is quite otherwise,

and I call Him to witness that never in my life have I given an

assignation to him of whom you speak, nor to any other whoever he may

be--so you have little enough cause to be displeased with me. I will not

deny that I have spoken to him, and speak to him every day, and also to

many others, but I have never had aught to do with him, nor do I believe

that he thinks of me even for a moment, or if so, by God he is mistaken.

May God not suffer me to live if any but you has part or parcel in what

is yours entirely."

"Mademoiselle," said he, "you talk very well, but I am not such a fool

as to believe you."

Angry and displeased as he was, he nevertheless did that for which he

came, and on leaving, said,

"I have told you, and given you fair warning that if ever I find any

other person comes here, I will put him, or cause him to be put, in such

a condition that he will never again worry me or any one else."

"Ah, Monseigneur," she replied, "by God you are wrong to imagine such

things about him, and I am sure also that he does not think of me."

With that, the last-comer left, and, on the morrow, his friend, the

first-comer did not fail to come early in the morning to hear the news,

and the other related to him in full all that had passed, how he had

pretended to be angry and threatened to kill his rival, and the replies

the jade made.

"By my oath," said the first, "she acted the comedy well! Now let me

have my turn, and I shall be very much surprised if I do not play my

part equally well."

A certain time afterwards his turn came, and he went to the wench, who

received him as lovingly as she always did, and as she had previously

received her other lover. If his friend the last-comer had been cross

and quarrelsome both in manner and words, he was still more so, and

spoke to her in this manner;

"I curse the hour and the day on which I made your acquaintance, for

it is not possible to load the heart of a poor lover with more sorrows,

regrets, and bitter cares than oppress and weigh down my heart to-day.

Alas! I chose you amongst all others as the perfection of beauty,

gentleness, and kindness, and hoped that I should find in you truth and

fidelity, and therefore I gave you all my heart, believing in truth that

it was safe in your keeping, and I had such faith in you that I would

have met death, or worse, had it been possible, to save your honour.

Yet, when I thought myself most sure of your faith, I learned, not only

by the report of others but by my own eyes, that another had snatched

your love from me, and deprived me of the hope of being the one person

in the world who was dearest to you."

"My friend," said the wench, "I do not know what your trouble is, but

from your manner and your words I judge that there is something

the matter, but I cannot tell what it is if you do not speak more

plainly--unless it be a little jealousy which torments you, and if so, I

think, if you are wise, that you will soon banish it from your mind. For

I have never given you any cause for that, as you know me well enough

to be aware, and you should be sorry for having used such expressions to


"I am not the sort of man," said he, "to be satisfied with mere words.

Your excuses are worth nothing. You cannot deny that so-and-so (that

is to say the last-comer) does not keep you. I know well he does, for I

have noticed you, and moreover, have watched, and saw him yesterday come

to you at such an hour, dressed in such and such a manner. But I swear

to God he has had his last pleasure with you, for I bear him a grudge,

and were he ten times as great a man as he is, when I meet him I will

deprive him of his life, or he shall deprive me of mine; one of us two

must die for I cannot live and see another enjoy you. You are false and

disloyal to have deceived me, and it is not without cause that I curse

the hour I made your acquaintance, for I know for a certainty that you

will cause my death if my rival knows my determination, as I hope he

will. I know that I am now as good as dead, and even if he should spare

me, he does but sharpen the knife which is to shorten his own days, and

then the world would not be big enough to save me, and die I must."

The wench could not readily find a sufficient excuse to satisfy him in

his present state of mind. Nevertheless, she did her best to dissipate

his melancholy, and drive away his suspicions, and said to him;

"My friend, I have heard your long tirade, which, to tell the truth,

makes me reflect that I have not been so prudent as I ought, and have

too readily believed your deceitful speeches, and obeyed you in all

things, which is the reason you now think so little of me. Another

reason why you speak to me thus, is that you know that I am so much in

love with you that I cannot bear to live out of your presence. And for

this cause, and many others that I need not mention, you deem me your

subject and slave, with no right to speak or look at any but you. Since

that pleases you, I am satisfied, but you have no right to suspect me

with regard to any living person, nor have I any need to excuse myself.

Truth, which conquers all things, will right me in the end!"

"By God, my dear," said the young man, "the truth is what I have already

told you--as both and he will find to your cost if you do not take


After these speeches, and others too long to recount here, he left, and

did not forget on the following morning to recount everything to his

friend the last-comer; and God knows what laughter and jests they had

between them.

The wench, who still had wool on her distaff (*), saw and knew very well

that each of her lovers suspected the other, nevertheless she continued

to receive them each in his turn, without sending either away. She

warned each earnestly that he must come to her in the most secret

manner, in order that he should not be perceived.

(*) i.e. plenty of tricks or resources.

You must know that when the first-comer had his turn that he did not

forget to complain as before, and threatened to kill his rival should he

meet him. Also at his last meeting, he pretended to be more angry than

he really was, and made very light of his rival, who, according to him,

was as good as dead if he were caught with her. But the cunning and

double-dealing jade had so many deceitful speeches ready that her

excuses sounded as true as the Gospel. For she believed that, whatever

doubts and suspicions they had, the affair would never really be found

out, and that she was capable of satisfying them both.

It was otherwise in the end, for the last-comer, whom she was greatly

afraid to lose, one day read her a sharp lesson. In fact he told

her that he would never see her again, and did not for a long time

afterwards, at which she was much displeased and dissatisfied.

And in order to embarrass and annoy her still more, he sent to her a

gentleman, a confidential friend, to point out how disgusted he was to

find he had a rival, and to tell her, in short, that if she did not send

away this rival, that he would never see her again as long as he lived.

As you have already heard, she would not willingly give up his

acquaintance, and there was no male or female saint by whom she did

not perjure herself in explaining away her love passages with her other

lover, and at last, quite beside herself, she said to the squire;

"I will show your master that I love him; give me your knife."

Then, when she had the knife, she took off her headdress, and with the

knife cut off all her hair--not very evenly.

The squire, who knew the facts of the case, took this present, and said

he would do his duty and give it to his master, which he soon did. The

last-comer received the parcel, which he undid, and found the hair of

his mistress, which was very long and beautiful. He did not feel much at

ease until he had sent for his friend and revealed to him the message he

had sent, and the valuable present she had given him in return, and then

he showed the beautiful long tresses.

"I fancy," said he, "I must be very high in her good graces. You can

scarcely expect that she would do as much for you."

"By St. John!" said the other, "this is strange news. I see plainly that

I am left out in the cold. It is finished! You are the favoured one. But

let us" he added, "think what is to be done. We must show her plainly

that we know what she is."

"That's what I wish," said the other.

They thought the matter over, and arranged their plan as follows.

The next day, or soon afterwards, the two friends were in a chamber

where there were assembled their fair lady and many others. Each took

his place where he liked; the first-comer sat near the damsel, and after

some talk, he showed her the hair which she had sent to his friend.

Whatever she may have thought, she was not startled, but said she did

not know whose hair it was, but it did not belong to her.

"What?" he said. "Has it so quickly changed that it cannot be


"That I cannot say," she replied, "but it does not belong to me."

When he heard that, he thought it was time to play his best card, and,

as though by accident, gave her _chaperon_ (*) such a twitch that it

fell to the ground, at which she was both angry and ashamed. And all

those who were present saw that her hair was short, and had been badly


(*) The chaperon, in the time of Charles VII, was fastened

to the shoulder by a long band which sometimes passed two or

three times round the neck, and sometimes hung down the


She rose in haste, and snatched up her head-dress, and ran into another

chamber to attire herself, and he followed her. He found her angry and

ashamed, and weeping bitterly with vexation at being thus caught. He

asked her what she had to weep about, and at what game she had lost her


She did not know what to reply, she was so vexed and astonished; and he,

who was determined to carry out the arrangement he had concluded with

his friend, said to her;

"False and disloyal as you are, you have not cared that I and my

friend were deceived and dishonoured. You wished,--as you have plainly

shown--to add two more victims to your list, but, thank God, we were on

our guard. And, in order that you may see that we both know you, here is

your hair which you sent him, and which he has presented to me; and do

not believe that we are such fools as you have hitherto thought us."

Then he called his friend, who came, and the first said,

"I have given back this fair damsel her hair, an have begun to tell her

how she has accepted the love of both of us, and how by her manner of

acting she has shown us that she did not care whether she disgraced us

both--may God save us!"

"Truly--by St. John!" said the other, and thereupon he made a long

speech to the wench, and God knows he talked to her well, remonstrating

with her on her cowardice and disloyal heart. Never was woman so well

lectured as she was at that time, first by one then by the other.

She was so taken by surprise that she did not know what to reply, except

by tears, which she shed abundantly.

She had never had enough pleasure out of both her lovers to compensate

for the vexation she suffered at that moment.

Nevertheless, in the end they did not desert her, but lived as they did

before, each taking his turn, and if by chance they both came to her

together, the one gave place to the other, and they were both good

friends as before, without ever talking of killing or fighting.

For a long time the two friends continued this pleasant manner of

loving, and the poor wench never dared to refuse either of them. And

whenever the one wished to have intercourse with her, he told the other,

and whenever the second went to see her, the first stayed at home. They

made each other many compliments, and sent one another rondels and

songs which are now celebrated, about the circumstances I have already

related, and of which I now conclude the account.