The Search For The Ring
By Monseigneur de la Roche
_Of the deceit practised by a knight on a miller's wife whom he made
believe that her front was loose, and fastened it many times. And the
miller informed of this, searched for a diamond that the knight's lady
had lost, and found it in her body, as the knight knew afterwards: so he
called the miller "fisherman", and the miller called him "fastener"._
n the Duchy of Burgundy lived formerly a noble knight, whose name is
not mentioned in the present story, who was married to a fair and
gentle lady. And near the castle of the said knight lived a miller, also
married to a fair young wife.
It chanced once, that the knight, to pass the time and enjoy himself,
was strolling around his castle, and by the banks of the river on which
stood the house and mill of the said miller, who at that time was not at
home, but at Dijon or Beaune,--he saw and remarked the wife of the said
miller carrying two jars and returning from the river, whither she had
been to draw water.
He advanced towards her and saluted her politely, and she, being
well-mannered, made him the salutation which belonged to his rank. The
knight, finding that the miller's wife was very fair but had not much
sense, drew near to her and said.
"Of a truth, my friend, I see well that you are in ill case, and
therefore in great peril."
At these words the miller's wife replied.
"Alas, monseigneur, and what shall I do?"
"Truly, my dear, if you walk thus, your 'front piece' is in danger
of falling off, and if I am not mistaken, you will not keep it much
The foolish woman, on hearing these words was astonished and
vexed;--astonished to think how the knight could know, without seeing,
of this unlucky accident, and vexed to think of the loss of the best
part of her body, and one that she used well, and her husband also.
She replied; "Alas! sir, what is this you tell me, and how do you know
that my 'front piece' is in danger of falling off? It seems to keep its
"There, there! my dear," replied the knight. "Let it suffice that I have
told you the truth. You would not be the first to whom such a thing had
"Alas, sir," said she. "I shall be an undone, dishonoured and lost
woman; and what will my husband say when he hears of the mischance? He
will have no more to do with me."
"Be not discomforted to that degree, my friend; it has not happened yet;
besides there is a sure remedy."
When the young woman heard that there was a remedy for her complaint,
her blood began to flow again, and she begged the knight for God's sake
that he would teach her what she must do to keep this poor front-piece
from falling off. The knight, who was always most courteous and
gracious, especially towards the ladies, replied;
"My friend, as you are a good and pretty girl, and I like your husband,
I will teach you how to keep your front-piece."
"Alas, sir, I thank you; and certainly you will do a most meritorious
work: for it would be better to die than to live without my front-piece.
And what ought I to do sir?
"My dear," he said, "to prevent your front-piece from falling off, you
must have it fastened quickly and often."
"Fastened, sir? And who will do that? Whom shall I ask to do this for
"I will tell you, my dear," replied the knight. "And because I warned
you of this mischance being so near, and told you of the remedy
necessary to obviate the inconveniences which would arise, and which
I am sure would not please you,--I am content, in order to further
increase the love between us, to fasten your front-piece, and put it in
such a good condition that you may safely carry it anywhere, without any
fear or doubt that it will ever fall off; for in this matter I am very
It need not be asked whether the miller's wife was joyful. She employed
all the little sense she had to thank the knight. So they walked
together, she and the knight, back to the mill, where they were no
sooner arrived than the knight kindly began his task, and with a tool
that he had, shortly fastened, three or four times, the front-piece of
the miller's wife, who was most pleased and joyous; and after having
appointed a day when he might again work at this front-piece, the knight
left, and returned quickly to his castle.
On the day named, he went again to the mill, and did his best, in the
way above mentioned, to fasten this front-piece; and so well did he work
as time went on, that this front-piece was most safely fastened, and
held firmly and well in its place.
Whilst our knight thus fastened the front-piece of the miller's wife,
the miller one day returned from his business, and made good cheer, as
also did his wife. And as they were talking over their affairs, this
most wise wife said to her husband.
"On my word, we are much indebted to the lord of this town."
"Tell me how, and in what manner," replied the miller.
"It is quite right that I should tell you, that you may thank him, as
indeed you must. The truth is that, whilst you were away, my lord passed
by our house one day that I was carrying two pitchers from the river.
He saluted me and I did the same to him; and as I walked away, he saw,
I know not how, that my front-piece was not held properly, and was
in danger of falling off. He kindly told me so, at which I was as
astonished and vexed as though the end of the world had come. The good
lord who saw me thus lament, took pity on me, and showed me a good
remedy for this cursed disaster. And he did still more, which he would
not have done for every one, for the remedy of which he told me,--which
was to fasten and hold back my front-piece in order to prevent it from
dropping off,--he himself applied, which was great trouble to him, and
he did it many times because that my case required frequent attention.
"What more shall I say? He, has so well performed his work that we can
never repay him. By my faith, he has in one day of this week fastened it
three times; another day, four times; another day, twice; another day,
three times; and he never left me till I was quite cured, and brought
to such a condition that my front-piece now holds as well and firmly as
that of any woman in our town."
The miller, on hearing this adventure, gave no outward sign of what
was passing in his mind, but, as though he had been joyful, said to his
"I am very glad, my dear, that my lord hath done us this service, and,
God willing, when it shall be possible, I will do as much for him. But
at any rate, as it is not proper it should be known, take care that you
say no word of this to anyone; and also, now that you are cured, you
need not trouble my lord any further in this matter."
"You have warned me," replied his wife, "not to say a word about it and
that is also what my lord bade me."
Our miller, who was a good fellow, often thought over the kindness that
my lord had done him, and conducted himself so wisely and carefully that
the said lord never suspected that he knew how he had been deceived, and
imagined that he knew nothing. But alas, his heart and all his thoughts
were bent on revenge and how he could repay in like manner the deceit
practised on his wife. And at length he bethought himself of a way by
which he could, he imagined, repay my lord in butter for his eggs.
At last, owing to other circumstances, the knight was obliged to mount
his horse and say farewell to his wife for a month; at which our miller
was in no small degree pleased.
One day, the lady had a desire to bathe, and caused the bath to be
brought forth and the stoves to be heated in her private apartments; of
which our miller knew soon, because he learned all that went on in the
house; so he took a fine pike, that he kept in the ditch near his house,
and went to the castle to present it to the lady.
None of the waiting-women would he let take the fish, but said that he
must present it himself to the lady, or else he would take it back home.
At last, because he was well-known to the household, and a good fellow,
the lady allowed him to enter whilst she was in her bath.
The miller gave his present, for which the lady thanked him, and caused
it to be taken to the kitchen and cooked for supper.
Whilst he was talking, the miller perceived on the edge of the bath, a
fine large diamond which she had taken from her finger, fearing lest the
water should spoil it. He took it so quietly that no one saw him, and
having gained his point, said good night to the lady and her women, and
returned to the mill to think over his business.
The lady, who was making good cheer with her attendants, seeing that
it was now very late, and supper-time, left the bath and retired to
her bed. And as she was looking at her arms and hands, she saw not the
diamond, and she called her women, and asked them where was the diamond,
and to whom she had given it. Each said, "It was not to me;"--"Nor to
me,"--"Nor to me either."
They searched inside and outside the bath, and everywhere, but it was no
good, they could not find it. The search for this diamond lasted a long
time, without their finding any trace of it, which caused the lady much
vexation, because it had been unfortunately lost in her chamber, and
also because my lord had given it to her the day of their betrothal, and
she held it very precious. They did not know whom to suspect nor whom to
ask, and much sorrow prevailed in the household.
Then one of the women bethought herself, and said.
"No one entered the room but ourselves and the miller; it seems right
that he should be sent for."
He was sent for, and came. The lady who was much vexed, asked the miller
if he had not seen her diamond. He, being as ready to lie as another is
to tell the truth, answered boldly, and asked if the lady took him for a
thief? To which she replied gently;
"Certainly not, miller; it would be no theft if you had for a joke taken
away my diamond."
"Madame," said the miller, "I give you my word that I know nothing about
Then were they all much vexed, and my lady especially, so that she could
not refrain from weeping tears in great abundance at the loss of this
trinket. They all sorrowfully considered what was to be done. One said
that it must be in the chamber, and another said that they had searched
everywhere, and that it was impossible it should be there or they would
have found it, as it was easily seen.
The miller asked the lady if she had it when she entered the bath; and
she replied, yes.
"If it be so, certainly, madam, considering the diligence you have made
in searching for it, and without finding it, the affair is very strange.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that if there is any man who could give
advice how it should be found, I am he, and because I would not that
my secret should be discovered and known to many people, it would be
expedient that I should speak to you alone."
"That is easily managed," said the lady. So her attendants left, but, as
they were leaving, Dames Jehanne, Isabeau, and Katherine said,
"Ah, miller, you will be a clever man if you bring back this diamond."
"I don't say that I am over-clever," replied the miller, "but I venture
to declare that if it is possible to find it I am the man to do so."
When he saw that he was alone with the lady, he told her that he
believed seriously, that as she had the diamond when she entered the
bath, that it must have fallen from her finger and entered her body,
seeing that there was no one who could have stolen it.
And that he might hasten to find it, he made the lady-get upon her bed,
which she would have willingly refused if she could have done otherwise.
After he had uncovered her, he pretended to look here and there, and
"Certainly, madam, the diamond has entered your body."
"Do you say, miller, that you have seen it?"
"Alas!" said she, "and how can it be got out?"
"Very easily, madam. I doubt not to succeed if it please you."
"May God help you! There is nothing that I would not do to get it
again," said the lady, "or to advance you, good miller."
The miller placed the lady on the bed, much in the same position as the
lord had placed _his_ wife when he fastened her front-piece, and with a
like tool was the search for the diamond made.
Whilst resting after the first and second search that the miller made
for the diamond, the lady asked him if he had not felt it, and he said,
yes, at which she was very joyful, and begged that he would seek until
he had found it.
To cut matters short, the good miller did so well that he restored to
the lady her beautiful diamond, which caused great joy throughout the
house, and never did miller receive so much honour and advancement as
the lady and her maids bestowed upon him.
The good miller, who was high in the good graces of the lady after the
much-desired conclusion of his great enterprise, left the house and went
home, without boasting to his wife of his recent adventure, though he
was more joyful over it than though he had gained the whole world.
A short time after, thank God, the knight returned to his castle, and
was kindly received and humbly welcomed by the lady, who whilst
they were enjoying themselves in bed, told him of the most wonderful
adventure of the diamond, and how it was fished out of her body by the
miller; and, to cut matters short, related the process, fashion, and
manner employed by the said miller in his search for the diamond, which
hardly gave her husband much joy, but he reflected that the miller had
paid him back in his own coin.
The first time he met the good miller, he saluted him coldly, and said,
"God save you! God save you, good diamond-searcher!"
To which the good miller replied,
"God save you! God save you, fastener of front-pieces!"
"By our Lady, you speak truly," said the knight. "Say nothing about me,
and I will say nothing about you."
The miller was satisfied, and never spoke of it again; nor did the
knight either, so far as I know.