The Castrated Clerk
By Monseigneur L'amant De Brucelles.
_How a lawyer's clerk in England deceived his master making him believe
that he had no testicles, by which reason he had charge over his
mistress both in the country and in the town, and enjoyed his pleasure._
At London, in England, there formerly lived a lawyer, who, amongst his
other servitors, had a clerk who was clever, and diligent, wrote well,
and was a handsome lad, and was, moreover, let it be stated, as cunning
as any man of his age.
This gentle and lusty clerk was much smitten with his mistress,--a
beautiful, kind, and gentle dame--who so much admired him that if ever
he had but dared to reveal his affection, the god of love would have led
her to confess that he was the only man on earth who pleased her.
It chanced that once, being in a suitable place, and all fear being
laid aside, he recounted unto the said lady his sad, but not unpleasant,
case; and she by the great courtesy which God had not forgotten to give
her, being already touched as has before been said, did not long delay;
for after she had addressed to him many excuses and remonstrances, she
was glad to let him know that he pleased her well.
The other,--who was no fool--was more joyed than he had ever been, and
determined to hammer the iron while it was hot, and so warmly pursued
her, that ere long he enjoyed her love.
The love of the mistress for the clerk, and of the clerk for the
mistress, was for a long time so ardent, that never were people more
taken with each other; for not seldom did they forget to eat and drink,
and it would not have been in the power of Malbouche or Dangier (*) nor
other such cursed sprites, to have disturbed their happiness.
(*) Allegorical personages, typifying slander and jealousy,
mentioned in the Romaunt de la Rose.
In this joyous state and pleasant pastime, they passed many days such
as are rarely given to lovers, and so fond were they of each other, that
they would almost have renounced their share of paradise, to live in the
world in that condition.
It chanced one day they were together, talking of the great affection
they bore each other, and devising how they could safely continue to
take their pleasure without some inkling of their dangerous pastime
being known to her husband, who was as jealous as a man could be.
You may fancy that more than one idea occurred to them, which I here
pass over, but the final conclusion and supreme resolution of the good
clerk, was to vow to act carefully and bring his undertaking to a lucky
termination,--in which he failed not, and this is how he accomplished
You must know that while the clerk was on intimate and friendly terms
with his mistress, and diligently served and pleased her, he was at
the same time not less diligent to serve and please his master, that
he might the better conceal his own faults and blind the eyes of the
jealous husband, who little suspected what was being prepared for him.
One day soon after, our clerk, seeing that his master was well satisfied
with him, spoke to him when he was alone, most humbly, softly, and with
great respect, and told him that he had a great secret which he would
willingly reveal if he dared.
And, it must be told, that like women, who have tears at their command
and can shed them whenever they like, our clerk, whilst he spoke, let
fall from his eyes tears in great abundance,--which any man would have
taken to be signs of sorrow, pity, and honest purpose.
When the poor abused master heard his clerk, he was much astonished, and
"What is the matter, my son, and why do you weep?"
"Alas, sir, I have much more cause than anyone else to be sorrowful,
but my case is so strange, and not the less pitiful, that it should be
hidden; nevertheless I have determined to tell you, if I can lay aside
the fear which for long has haunted me."
"Do not weep, my son," replied his master, "and tell me what it is, and
I assure you that if it is possible for me to aid, you I will willingly
give you all the assistance I can."
"Master," said the cunning clerk, "I thank you; but I have thought the
matter over, and I do not think my tongue will be able to relate the
great misfortune that I have long time borne."
"Leave all your grief and pratings," replied the master. "Nothing ought
to be hidden from me, as your master, and I wish to know what is the
matter; therefore come here and tell me."
The clerk, who knew the length of his master's foot, had to be much
entreated, and pretended to be in great fear, and shed great abundance
of tears before he would accede and say what he had to say, and then
made his master promise that he would reveal the secret to no man, for
he would rather die than have his misfortune known.
The master having given this promise, the clerk--pale, and trembling
like a man who was going to be hanged--told his story.
"My most worthy master, I know that all people, and you amongst them,
imagine that I am a natural man like any other, capable of having
connexion with a woman, and creating children; but I affirm and can
prove that I am not such--to my great sorrow, alas."
And with these words he pulled out his member and showed his bag. He
had with much time and trouble pushed up his testicles towards his lower
belly, and so well concealed them that it seemed as though he had none.
Then he said,
"Master, you now know my misfortune, which I again beg of you not to let
be known, and, moreover, I humbly beg of you by all the services I have
ever rendered,--which would have been greater if my power had equalled
my will--that you will allow me to pass the rest of my life in some holy
monastery, where I may spend my time in the service of God, for I am of
no use in the world."
His worthy and much-abused master discoursed unto him of the austerities
of a religious life, and how little merit there was in becoming a monk
out of grief for a misfortune, and by many other means, too numerous to
recount here, prevailed on him to renounce his intention. And you must
know, moreover, that he would on no account lose his clerk, on account
of his skill in writing, and diligence, and the use he intended to make
of him. What need to say more? He so remonstrated that the clerk, in
short, promised to remain for a further time in his service. And as the
clerk had revealed his secret, so also did the master lay bare his own
heart, and said;
"My son, I am not glad to hear of your misfortune; but in the end God
orders all things for the best, and knows what is most suitable for us.
You can in future serve me well, and merit all that is in my power to do
for you. I have a young wife, who is light-hearted and flighty, and I am
old and staid; which might give occasion to some to dishonour me and her
also, if she should prove other than chaste, and afford me matter for
jealousy, and many other things. I entrust her to you that you may watch
over her, and I beg of you to guard her so that I may have no reason to
After long deliberation, the clerk gave his reply, and when he spoke,
God knows how he praised his most fair and kind mistress, saying that
she excelled all others in beauty and goodness, of that he was sure.
Nevertheless, that service or any other he would perform with all his
heart, and never leave her whatever might happen, but inform his master
of all that occurred, as a good servant should.
The master, pleased and joyful at the new guardian he had found for his
wife, left the house, and went to the town to do his business. And the
good clerk at once entered upon his duties, and, as much as they dared,
employed the members with which they were provided, and made great cheer
over the subtle manner in which the husband had been deceived. For a
long period did they continue thus to enjoy themselves; and if at any
time the good husband was forced to go abroad, he took care to leave
his clerk behind; rather would he borrow a servant from one of his
neighbours than not leave the clerk to mind house. And if the lady
had leave to go on any pilgrimage, she would rather go without her
tire-woman than without the kind and obliging clerk.
In short, as you may suppose, never could clerk boast of a more lucky
adventure, and which--so far as I know--never came to the knowledge of
the husband, who would have been overcome with grief had he learned of