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

take breath."

"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

the same."

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

aware of."

"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

my friend?"

"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

the cup.

"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

been sent.

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.