What The Eye Does Not See
By Monsieur Le Voyer.
_Of a gentle knight who was enamoured of a young and beautiful girl,
and how he caught a malady in one of his eyes, and therefore sent for a
doctor, who likewise fell in love with the same girl, as you will
hear; and of the words which passed between the knight and the doctor
concerning the plaster which the doctor had put on the knight's good
In the pleasant and fertile land of Holland, not a hundred years ago, a
noble knight lodged in a fair and good inn, where there was a young and
very pretty chamber-maid, with whom he was greatly enamoured, and for
love of her had arranged with the Duke of Burgundy's quartermaster that
he should be lodged in this inn, in order that he might better carry out
his intentions with regard to this girl.
After he had been at this inn five or six days, there happened to him a
misfortune, for he had a disease in one of his eyes so that he could not
keep it open, so sharp was the pain. And as he much feared to lose it,
and it was an organ that required much care and attention, he sent for
the Duke's surgeon, who was at that time in the the town. And you must
know that the said surgeon was a good fellow, and much esteemed and
spoken about throughout all the country.
As soon as the surgeon saw this eye, he declared that it could not be
saved, which is what they customarily say, so that if they do cure the
disease they may gain more praise and profit.
The good knight was greatly vexed at this news, and asked if there were
no means of cure, and the other replied that it would be very difficult,
nevertheless he might, with God's aid, cure it, if the knight would obey
all his instructions.
"If you can cure me and save my eye," said the knight, "I will pay you
The bargain was made, and the surgeon undertook with God's aid to cure
the bad eye, and arranged at what hour he would come every day to apply
You must know that every time the surgeon came to see his patient, the
pretty chambermaid accompanied him, to hold his box or basin, or help to
move the poor patient, who forgot half his pain in the presence of his
If the good knight had been struck by the beauty of the chambermaid,
so also was the surgeon; who, each time that he paid a visit, could not
help casting sheep's eyes at the fair face of the chambermaid, and at
last passionately declared his love, which was well received, for she
immediately granted his requests, but it was not easy to find means to
carry out their ardent desires.
At last, after some trouble, a plan was hit on by the prudent and
cunning surgeon, and it was this:
"I will tell my patient," he said, "that his eye cannot be cured unless
his other eye is bandaged, for by throwing all the work on the sound
eye he prevents the other from getting well. If he will allow it to be
bandaged up, we shall have a capital means of taking our pleasure, even
in his chamber, without his having any suspicion of it."
The girl, whose desires were quite as warm as those of the surgeon, was
quite agreeable, provided the plan could be carried out.
"We will try," said the surgeon.
He came at the usual hour to see the bad eye, and when he had uncovered
it, pretended to be much surprised.
"What!" he cried. "I never saw such a disease; the eye is worse than it
was fifteen days ago. You must have patience, monsieur."
"In what way?" said the knight.
"Your good eye must be bandaged and concealed, so that no light can
reach it, for an hour or so after I have applied this plaster and
ordered another--for, no doubt, it prevents the other from healing.
Ask," he said, "this pretty girl, who sees it every day, how it is
The girl said that it looked worse than before.
"Well," said the knight, "I leave myself in your hands; do with me
whatever you please. I am content to be blindfolded as much as you like,
provided I am cured in the long run."
The two lovers were very joyful when they saw that the knight allowed
his eyes to be bandaged. When all the arrangements had been made, and
the knight had his eyes bandaged, master surgeon pretended to leave as
usual, promising to come back soon to take off the bandage.
He did not go very far, for he threw the girl on a couch not far from
the patient, and with quite a different instrument to that which he had
employed on the knight, visited the secret cloisters of the chambermaid.
Three, four, five, six times did he perform on the pretty girl without
the knight noticing it, for though he heard the storm he did not know
what it was; but as it still continued, his suspicions were aroused,
and this time, when he heard the noise of the combat, he tore off
the bandages and plasters and threw them away, and saw the two lovers
struggling together, and seeming as though they would eat each other, so
closely united were their mouths.
"What is this, master surgeon?" cried he. "Have you blindfolded me in
order to do me this wrong. Is my eye to be cured by this means? Tell
me--did you prepare this trick for me? By St. John, I suspect I was more
often visited for love of my chambermaid than for my eyes. Well! well!
I am in your hands now, sir, and cannot yet revenge myself, but the day
will come when I will make you remember me."
The surgeon, who was a thoroughly good fellow, began to laugh, and made
his peace with the knight, and I believe that, after the eye was cured,
they agreed to divide the work between them.