Two Lovers For One Lady
By Monseigneur De La Barde.
_Of a squire who found the mule of his companion, and mounted thereon
and it took him to the house of his master's mistress; and the squire
slept there, where his friend found him; also of the words which passed
between them--as is more clearly set out below._
A gentleman of this kingdom--a squire of great renown and
reputation--fell in love with a b
autiful damsel of Rouen, and did all
in his power to gain her good graces. But fortune was contrary to
him, and his lady so unkind, that finally he abandoned the pursuit in
He was not very wrong to do so, for she was provided with a lover--not
that the squire knew of that, however much he might suspect it.
He who enjoyed her love was a knight, and a man of great authority,
and was so familiar with the squire as to tell him much concerning his
love-affair. Often the knight said; "By my faith, friend, I would have
you know that I have a mistress in this town to whom I am devoted; for,
however tired I may be, I would willingly go three or four leagues to
see her--a mere couple of leagues I would run over without stopping to
"Is there no request or prayer that I can make" said the squire, "that
will cause you to tell me her name?"
"No, no!" said the other, "you shall not know that."
"Well!" said the squire, "when I am so fortunate as to have something
good, I will be as reticent as you are."
It happened some time after this that the good knight asked the squire
to supper at the castle of Rouen, where he was then lodged. He came, and
they had some talk; the gentle knight, who had an appointment to see his
lady at a certain hour, said farewell to the squire, and added,
"You know that we have various things to see to to-morrow, and that we
must rise early in order to arrange various matters. It is advisable
therefore to go to bed early, and for that reason I bid you goodnight."
The squire, who was cunning enough, suspected that the good knight
wished to go somewhere, and that he was making the duties of the morrow
an excuse to get rid of him, but he took no notice, and on taking leave
and wishing good-night to his host, said;
"Monseigneur you say well; rise early to-morrow morning, and I will do
When the good squire went down, he found a little mule at the foot of
the staircase of the castle, with no one minding it. He soon guessed
that the page he had met as he came down had gone to seek for a
saddle-cloth for his master.
"Ah, ah" he said to himself, "my host did not get rid of me at this
early hour for nothing. Here is his mule, which only waits till I am
gone to carry his master to some place he does not wish me to know. Ah,
mule!" said he, "if you could speak, you could tell me some news. Let me
beg of you to lead me where your master wishes to be."
With that he made his page hold the stirrup, and mounted the mule,
and laid the reins on the mule's neck, and let it amble on wherever it
And the little mule led him by streets and alleys here and there, till
at last it stopped before a little wicket, which was in a side street
where its master was accustomed to come, and which was the garden
gate of the house of the very damsel the squire had so loved and had
abandoned in despair.
He dismounted, and tapped gently at the wicket, and a damsel, who was
watching through a hidden lattice, believing it to be the knight, came
down and opened the door, and said;
"Monseigneur you are welcome; mademoiselle is in her chamber, and awaits
She did not recognise him, because it was late, and he had a velvet cap
drawn down over his face. And the good squire replied, "I will go to
The he whispered to his page, "Go quickly and put the mule where we
found it; then go to bed."
"It shall be done, sir," he said.
The woman closed the gate, and led the way to the chamber. Our good
squire, much occupied with the business in hand, walked boldly to the
room where the lady was, and he found her simply dressed in a plain
petticoat, and with a gold chain round her neck.
He saluted her politely, for he was kind, courteous and well-spoken, but
she, who was as much astonished as though horns had sprouted out of her
head, did not for the moment know how to reply, but at last she asked
him what he sought there, why he came at that hour, and who had sent
"Mademoiselle," said he, "you may well imagine that if I had had to rely
on myself alone I should not be here; but, thank God, one who has more
pity for me than you ever had, has done this kindness to me."
"Who brought you here, sir?" she asked.
"By my oath, mademoiselle, I will not conceal that from you; it was such
and such a lord (and he named the knight who had invited him to supper),
who sent me here."
"Ah!" she cried. "Traitor and disloyal knight that he is, has he
betrayed my confidence? Well, well! I will be revenged on him some day."
"Oh, mademoiselle! it is not right of you to say that, for it is no
treason to give pleasure to one's friend, or to render him aid and
service when one can. You know what a great friendship exists between
him and me, and that neither hides from the other what is in his heart.
It happened that not long ago I related and confessed to him the great
love I bore you, and that because of you I had no happiness left in the
world, for that by no means could I ever win your affection, and that it
was not possible for me to long endure this horrible martyrdom. When the
good knight knew that my words were really true, and was aware of the
sorrow I endured, he was fain to tell me how he stood with regard to
you, and preferred to lose you, and so save my life, than to see me die
miserably and retain your affection. And if you are such a woman as you
should be, you would not hesitate to give comfort and consolation to me,
your obedient servant, who has always loyally served and obeyed you."
"I beg of you," she said, "not to speak of that, and to leave here at
once. Cursed be he who made you come!"
"Do you know, mademoiselle," he replied, "that it is not my intention to
leave here before to-morrow morning?"
"By my oath," she cried, "you will go now, at once!"
"Morbleu! I will not--for I will sleep with you."
When she saw that he was not to be got rid of by hard words, she
resolved to try kindness, and said;
"I beg of you with all my heart to leave my house now, and by my oath,
another time I will do whatever you wish."
"Bah!" said he; "Waste no more words, for I shall sleep here," and
with that he removed his cloak, and led the damsel to the table, and
finally--to cut the tale short--she went to bed with him by her side.
They had not been in bed long, and he had but broken one lance, when
the good knight arrived on his mule, and knocked at the wicket. When the
squire heard that and knew who it was, he began to growl, imitating a
dog very well.
The knight, hearing this, was both astonished and angry. He knocked
at the door more loudly than before, and the other growled louder than
"Who is that growling?" said he outside. "Morbleu! but I will soon find
out! Open the door, or I will carry it away!"
The fair damsel, who was in a great rage, went to the window in her
chemise, and said;
"Are you there, false and disloyal knight? You may knock as much as you
like, but you will not come in!"
"Why shall I not come in?" said he.
"Because," said she, "you are the falsest man that ever woman met, and
are not worthy to be with respectable people."
"Mademoiselle," said he, "you blason my arms very well, but I do not
know what excites you, for I have never been false to you that I am
"Yes, you have," she cried, "done me the greatest wrong that ever man
did to woman."
"I have not, I swear. But tell me who is in there?"
"You know very well, wretched traitor that you are," she replied.
Thereupon the squire, who was in bed, began to growl like a dog as
"Marry!" said he outside, "I do not understand this. Who is this
"By St. John! you shall know," cried the other, and jumped out of bed
and came to the window, and said;
"And please you, sir, you have no right to wake us up."
The good knight, when he knew who spoke to him, was marvellously
astonished, and when at last he spoke, he said.
"How did you come here?"
"I supped at your house and slept here."
"The fault is mine," said he. Then addressing the damsel, he added,
"Mademoiselle, do you harbour such guests in your house?"
"Yes, monseigneur," she replied, "and thank you for having sent him."
"I?" said he. "By St. John I have nothing to do with it. I came to
occupy my usual place, but it seems I am too late. At least I beg, since
I cannot have anything else, that you open the door and let me drink a
cup of wine."
"By God, you shall not enter here!" she cried.
"By St. John! he shall," cried the squire, and ran down and opened the
door, and then went back to bed, and she did also, though, God knows,
much ashamed and dissatisfied.
When the good knight entered the chamber, he lighted a candle, and
looked at the couple in bed and said;
"Good luck to you, mademoiselle, and to you also squire."
"Many thanks, monseigneur," said he.
But the damsel could not say a word, her heart was so full, for she felt
certain that the knight had connived at the squire's coming, and she
felt so angry that she would not speak to him.
"Who showed you the way here, squire?" asked the knight.
"Your little mule, monseigneur," said he. "I found it at the foot of the
stairs, when I supped with you at the castle. It was there alone, and
seemingly lost, so I asked it what it was waiting for, and it replied
that it was waiting for its saddle-cloth and you. 'To go where?' I
asked. 'Where we usually go,' replied the mule. 'I am sure,' said I,
'that your master will not leave the house to-night, for he is going
to bed, so take me where you usually go, I beg.' It was content, so I
mounted on it, and it brought me here, for which I give it thanks."
"God reward the little beast that betrayed me," said the good knight.
"Ah, you have fully deserved it, monseigneur," said the damsel, when at
last she was able to speak. "I know well that you have deceived me,
but I wish you to know that it is not much to your honour. There was
no need, if you would not come yourself, to send some one else
surreptitiously. It was an evil day for me when first I saw you."
"Morbleu! I never sent him," he said; "but since he is here I will not
drive him away. Besides there is enough for the two of us; is there not
"Oh, yes, monseigneur, plenty of spoil to divide. Let us celebrate the
arrangement by a drink."
He went to the side-board and filled a large cup with wine, and said, "I
drink to you, friend."
"And I pledge you, friend," said the other, and poured out another cup
for the damsel, who refused to drink, but at last, unwillingly, kissed
"Well, friend," said the knight, "I will leave you here. Ruffle her
well; it is your turn to-day and will be mine to morrow, please God, and
I hope you will be as obliging to me, if ever you find me here, as I am
to you now."
"By Our Lady, friend, doubt not but I shall be."
Then the knight went away and left the squire, who did as well as he
could on the first night. And he told the damsel the whole truth of his
adventure, at which she was somewhat relieved to find that he had not
Thus was the fair damsel deceived by the mule, and obliged to obey the
knight and the squire, each in his turn--an arrangement to which she
finally became accustomed. The knight and squire grew more attached to
each other than before this adventure; their affection increased, and no
evil counsels engendered discord and hate between them.