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

place well."

"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

your diamond."

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?"

"Truly, yes."

"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.