Tit For Tat
By Monseigneur de la Roche
_Of a youth of Picardy who lived at Brussels, and made his master's
daughter pregnant, and for that cause left and came back to Picardy to
be married. And soon after his departure the girl's mother perceived the
condition of her daughter, and the girl confessed in what state she was;
so her mother sent her to the Picardian to tell him that he must undo
that which he had done. An
how his new bride refused then to sleep with
him, and of the story she told him, whereupon he immediately left her
and returned to his first love, and married her._
In the city of Brussels, where a good many adventures have happened in
our time, there lived not long ago a young man of Picardy, who served
his master well and faithfully for a long period. And amongst other
services which he did the said master was this; that by his civil
speech, bearing, and courtesy he so gained the graces of his master's
daughter, that he lay with her, and owing to his meritorious actions she
The youth, knowing the lady was in that condition, was not such a fool
as to wait until his master should perceive and know it. So he quickly
asked leave to absent himself for a few days,--albeit he had no
intention to return--pretending that he must go to Picardy to see his
father and mother, and some others of his relations.
Then he took farewell of his master and mistress, and had a most
piteous leave-taking with the daughter; to whom he promised quickly to
return,--which he did not, and for good cause.
When he was in Picardy, at the house of his father, his master's
daughter grew so big with child that her sad condition could no longer
be concealed; amongst others, her worthy mother, who was experienced in
such matters, was the first to notice it. She took her daughter on one
side, and asked her how she came to be in that condition, and who was
the cause of it. The girl had to be much pressed and scolded before she
would say anything, but at last was forced to confess her sad condition,
and own that it was the Picardian, who, a short while before, had been
servant to her father, who had seduced her, and left her in that pitiful
Her mother was furious, and abused her till she could say no more, which
the poor girl bore so patiently and without saying a word, that it was
enough to excuse her for letting herself be put in the family-way by the
But alas! her patient endurance had no effect upon her mother, who said;
"Go away! go away! disgraceful hussy! and do your best to find the man
who made you pregnant, and tell him to undo that which he has done!
Never come back to me till he has undone the wrong he has done you."
The poor girl, who was in the condition you have heard, was crushed and
overcome by the wrath of her cruel mother, and set out in search of the
young man who had ruined her; and you may well imagine, had to endure
much trouble and pain before she could hear any news of him.
But at last, as God so willed it, after much wandering about through
Picardy, she came, one Sunday, to a large village in the county of
Artois, and she came most opportunely, for on that day her friend, the
Picardian who had deceived her, was to be married, at which she was very
joyful. And she cared so little about obeying her mother, that, big as
she was, she pressed amongst the crowd, and when she saw her lover, she
saluted him. He, when he saw her, blushed, and returned her salutation,
and said to her;
"You are very welcome! What brings you here at this time, my dear?"
"My mother," she replied, "sent me to you, and God knows that you have
caused me much upbraiding. She charged and commanded me that I should
tell you that you must undo that which you have done, or, if you do not,
I am never to go back to her."
The other, when he heard this, to get rid of her as soon as he could,
spoke as follows.
"My dear, I will willingly do that which you ask and your mother
requires me to do, for it is very reasonable, but at this moment I
cannot be seen talking to you. I beg of you to have patience for to-day,
and to-morrow I will attend to your request."
With that she was content, and then he caused her to be taken and put
in a fair chamber, and commanded that she should be well-treated, as she
deserved to be, after the great trouble and difficulty she had had in
seeking him out.
Now you must know that the bride had kept her eyes open, and when she
saw her husband talking to a woman big with child, she had misgivings,
and was by no means satisfied, but much troubled and vexed in mind.
She nursed her wrath, and said nothing until her husband came to bed.
And when he would have cuddled and kissed her, and done his proper duty
as a husband, and so earned his "caudle", (*) she turned herself first
on one side and then on the other, so that he could not attain his
purpose, at which he was greatly astonished and angry, and said to her,
(*) It was the custom in the Middle Ages to bring in the
middle of the wedding night, a caudle of hot milk, soup, or
spiced wine to the married couple.
"Why do you do that, my dear?"
"I have good cause," she replied, "for I see from your acts that you do
not care for me. There are many others you like better than me."
"By my faith," said he, "there is no woman in the world I love better
"Ah!" she said, "did I not see you after dinner holding discourse for a
long time with a woman who was in the room! I saw you only too plainly,
and you cannot excuse yourself."
"By our Lady," he replied, "you have no cause to be jealous about her,"
and with that he told her that it was the daughter of his master at
Brussels, and how he had lain with her and made her pregnant, and on
that account he had left the place; and how also after his departure,
she became so big with child that it was perceived, and then she had
confessed to her mother who had seduced her, and her mother had sent her
to him that he might undo that which he had done, or else she must never
When the young man had finished his story, his wife who had been struck
by one portion of it, said;
"What? Do you say that she told her mother you had slept with her?"
"Yes," he said; "she made it all known to her."
"On my word!" she replied, "then she proved herself very stupid. The
waggoner at our house slept with me more than forty nights, but you
don't suppose that I breathed a word of that to my mother. I took good
care to say nothing."
"Truly," quoth he, "the devil takes care that the gibbet is not cheated.
(**) Go back to your waggoner if you like; for I care nothing for you."
(**) In other words, we are punished for our ill-deeds.
Thereupon he arose and went to the woman he had seduced, and left the
other one; and when the morning came and this news was noised abroad,
God knows that it amused many and displeased many others, especially the
father and mother of the bride.