At an inn, in a village of the land of Perigort, there was celebratedthe marriage of a maiden of the house, at which all the kinsfolk andfriends strove to make as good cheer as might be. On the day of thewedding there arrived at the inn two Grey Friars, to whom supper wasgiven in their own room, since it was not meet for those of theircondition to be present at a wedding. However, the chief of the two, whohad the greater authority and craft, resolved that, since he was shutout from the board, he would share the bed, and in this way play themone of the tricks of his trade.
When evening was come, and the dances were begun, the Grey Friarcontinued to observe the bride for a long time, and found hervery handsome and to his taste. Then, inquiring carefully of theserving-woman concerning the room in which she was to lie, he found thatit was close to his own, at which he was well pleased; and so good awatch did he keep in order to work his end, that he perceived the bridebeing led from the hall by the old women, as is the custom. As it wasyet very early, the bridegroom would not leave the dance, in which hewas so greatly absorbed that he seemed to have altogether forgotten hiswife.
Not so the Friar, for, as soon as his ears told him that the bride wasin bed, he put off his grey robe and went and took the husband's place.Being fearful of discovery, however, he stayed but a very short time,and then went to the end of a passage where his comrade, who was keepingwatch for him, signed to him that the husband was dancing-still.
The Friar, who had not yet satisfied his wicked lust, thereupon wentback to bed with the bride, until his comrade gave him a signal that itwas time to leave.
The bridegroom afterwards came to bed, and his wife, who had been sotormented by the Friar that she desired naught but rest, could not helpsaying to him—
"Have you resolved never to sleep or do anything but torment me?"
The unhappy husband, who had but just come in, was greatly astonishedat this, and asked what torment he had given her, seeing that he had notleft the dance.
"A pretty dance!" said the poor girl. "This is the third time that youhave come to bed. I think you would do better to sleep."
The husband was greatly astonished on hearing these words, and set asidethought of everything else in order that he might learn the truth ofwhat had passed.
When his wife had told him the story, he at once suspected the GreyFriars who were lodged in the house, and forthwith rising, he went intotheir room, which was close beside his own.
Not finding them there, he began to call out for help in so loud a voicethat he speedily drew together all his friends, who, when they had heardthe tale, assisted him with candles, lanterns, and all the dogs of thevillage to hunt for the Grey Friars.
Not finding them in the house, they made all diligence, and so caughtthem among the vines, where they treated them as they deserved; for,after soundly beating them, they cut off their arms and legs, and leftthem among the vines to the care of Bacchus and Venus, of whom they hadbeen better disciples than of St. Francis.
"Be not amazed, ladies, if such folk, being cut off from our usualmode of life, do things of which adventurers (2) even would be ashamed.Wonder rather that they do no worse when God withdraws his hand fromthem, for so little does the habit make the monk, that it often unmakeshim through the pride it lends him. For my own part, I go not beyond thereligion that is taught by St. James, who has told us to 'keep theheart pure and unspotted toward God, and to show all charity to ourneighbours.'"(3)
"Heavens!" said Oisille, "shall we never have done with tales aboutthese tiresome Grey Friars?"
Then said Ennasuite—
"If, ladies, princes and gentlemen are not spared, the Grey Friars, itseems to me, are highly honoured by being noticed. They are so uselessthat, were it not that they often do evil things worthy of remembrance,they would never even be mentioned; and, as the saying goes, it isbetter to do evil than to do nothing at all. Besides, the more variedthe flowers the handsomer will our posy be."
"If you will promise not to be angry with me," said Hircan, "I will tellyou the story of a great lady whose wantonness was so extreme that youwill forgive the poor friar for having taken what he needed, wherehe was able to find it, seeing that she, who had enough to eat,nevertheless sought for dainties in too monstrous a fashion."
"Since we have sworn to speak the truth," said Oisille, "we have alsosworn to hear it. You may therefore speak with freedom, for the evilthings that we tell of men and women are not uttered to shame thosethat are spoken of in the story, but to take away all trust in createdbeings, by revealing the trouble to which these are liable, and this tothe end that we may fix and rest our hope on Him alone who is perfect,and without whom every man is only imperfection."
"Well then," said Hircan, "I will relate my story without fear."
2 This is an allusion to the dismissed French Swiss, and German lansquenets who roamed about France in little bands, kidnapping, plundering, and at times hiring themselves out as spadassins. These men, the pests of the country, were commonly known by the name of adventurers.—B. J.