The Right Moment
By Mahiot D'auquesnes.
_Of a damsel of Maubeuge who gave herself up to a waggoner, and refused
many noble lovers; and of the reply that she made to a noble knight
because he reproached her for this--as you will hear._
A noble knight of Flanders--young, lusty, and a good jouster, dancer,
and singer, was once living in the county of Hainault with another
noble knight of the same rank then livi
g there, though he had a fine
residence in Flanders. Love--as often happens--was the cause that he
remained there, for he was much smitten by a damsel of Maubeuge, and God
knows what he did for her; often giving jousts, masquerades, banquets,
and whatever else was possible, and that he thought would please his
He was to some extent in her good graces for a time, but not so much
as he wished to be. His friend, the knight of Hainault, who knew of his
love affair, did all he could to assist him, and it was not his fault
that his friend did not succeed better. But why make a long story? The
good knight of Flanders, do all he would, and his friend also, could
never obtain from the lady the supreme favour, but found her still
harsh and unkind.
At last he was compelled to return to Flanders; so he took leave of his
mistress, and left his friend there, and promised that if he did not
return shortly he would often write to her, and give news about himself;
and she promised the same on her side.
Now it came to pass that a few days after the knight had returned to
Flanders, that the lady wished to go on a pilgrimage, and made her
And when the carriage was in front of her house, and the waggoner, who
was a lusty fellow, strong and active, in it, preparing it for her, that
she threw a cushion on his head, which caused him to fall on his hands
and knees, at which she laughed loud and long.
"By God, mademoiselle, you made me fall, but I will have my revenge, and
before night I will make you tumble."
"You would not be so unkind," she replied, and so saying she took another
cushion, and when the waggoner was off his guard, she knocked him down
again, and then laughed more heartily than ever.
"What is this, mademoiselle?" cried the waggoner. "Do you want to hurt
me? I swear that if I were near you I would take my revenge at once."
"What would you do?" said she.
"If I were up there I would show you," he replied.
"You would do miracles--to hear you talk; but you would never dare to
"No?" said he. "You shall see."
He jumped out of the vehicle, entered the house, and ran upstairs, where
he found the damsel in her petticoat, and as happy as she could be.
He at once began to assail her, and--to cut matters short--she was not
sorry to let him take what she could not in honour have given him.
At the end of the appointed time she brought forth a fine little
waggoner. The matter was not so secret but what the knight of Hainault
heard of it, and was much surprised.
He wrote in haste, and sent the letter by a messenger to his friend in
Flanders, to say that his mistress had had a child with the help of a
You may guess that the other was much surprised at the news, and he
quickly came to Hainault to his friend, and begged of him to come and
see his mistress and upbraid her with her misdeeds.
Although she was keeping herself concealed at the time, the two knights
found means to come to her. She was much ashamed and vexed to see them,
as she well knew she would hear nothing pleasant from them, but she
plucked up her courage, and put on the best countenance she could.
They began by talking of various matters; and then the good knight of
Flanders began his tirade, and called her all the names he could think
"You are," he said, "the most shameful and depraved woman in the world,
and you have shown the wickedness of your heart by abandoning yourself
to a low villain of a waggoner; although many noble persons offered you
their services and you refused them all. For my own part, you know what
I did to gain your love, and was I not more deserving of reward than a
rascally waggoner who never did anything for you?"
"I beg of you, monsieur," she replied, "to say no more about it--what
is done cannot be undone--but I tell you plainly that if you had come at
the moment when the waggoner did, that I would have done for you what I
did for him."
"Is that so?" he said. "By St. John! he came at a lucky moment! Devil
take it! why was I not so fortunate as to know the right time to come."
"Truly," she said, "he came just at the moment when he ought to have
"Oh, go to the devil!" he cried, "your moments, and you, and your
waggoner as well."
And with that he left, and his friend followed him, and they never had
anything more to do with her,--and for a very good reason.