The Clever Nun

By Monseigneur De La Roche

_Of a nun whom a monk wished to deceive, and how he offered to shoo her

his weapon that she might feel it, but brought with him a companion whom

he put forward in his place, and of the answer she gave him._

In the fair country of Brabant, near to a monastery of white monks (*),

is situated a nunnery of devout and charitable nuns, but their name and

order need not b

(*) Either Carthusians, who wear white robes and hoods, or

Dominicans who wear white robes and black hoods.

The two convents being close together, there was always a barn for

the threshers, as the saying is, for, thank God, the nuns were so

kind-hearted that few who sought amorous intercourse with them were

refused, provided only they were worthy to receive their favours.

But, to come to the story, there was amongst these white monks, a young

and handsome monk who fell in love with one of the nuns, and after some

preliminaries, had the courage to ask her for the love of God to grant

him her favours.

The nun, who knew how he was furnished, though she was by nature

courteous, gave him a harsh and sharp reply. He was not to be rebuffed,

however, but continued to implore her love with most humble requests,

until the pretty nun was forced either to lose her reputation for

courtesy, or give the monk what she had granted to many others as soon

as she was asked.

She said to him; "Truly you weary me with requests for that which

honestly I ought not to give you. But I have heard what sort of weapon

you carry, and if it be so you have not much to thank Nature for."

"I do not know who told you," replied the monk, "but I am sure that you

will be satisfied with me, and I will prove to you that I am as good a

man as any other."

"Oh, yes. I believe you are a man," said she "but your machine is so

small that if you were to put it in a certain place, I should hardly

know that it was there."

"It is quite the reverse," said the monk, "and, if I were in that place,

I would do so well that you would confess that those who gave me that

reputation were liars."

After these fair speeches, the kind nun, that she might know what he

could do, and perhaps not forgetting her own share in the pleasure, told

him to come to the window of her cell at midnight; for which favour he

thanked her gratefully.

"But at any rate," said she, "you shall not enter until I really know

what sort of lance you carry, and whether you can be of use to me or


"As you please," replied the monk, and with that he quitted his

mistress, and went straight to Brother Conrad, one of his companions,

who was furnished, God knows how well, and for that reason was much

esteemed in the nunnery.

To him the young monk related how he had begged a favour of such an one,

and how she had refused, doubting whether his foot would fit her shoe,

but in the end had consented that he should come to her, but would

first feel and know with what sort of lance he would charge against her


"I have not," said he, "a fine thick lance, such as I know she would

desire to meet. Therefore I beg of you with all my heart, to come with

me this night at the hour when I am to meet her, and you will do me the

greatest service that ever one man did to another. I know very well that

she will want to touch and handle the lance, and this is what you must

do. You will be behind me; but do not speak. Then take my place, and put

your great machine in her hand. She will open the door then, I expect,

and you will go away and I will enter in,--and leave the rest to me."

Brother Conrad greatly doubted whether it would happen as his friend

wished, but he agreed to do as he was asked. At the appointed hour they

set forth to visit the nun. When they came to the window, the young

monk, who was more eager than a stallion, knocked once with his stick,

and the nun did not wait for him to knock a second time, but opened the

window, and said in a low voice;

"Who is there?"

"It is I," he replied; "Open your door, lest anyone should hear us."

"By my faith," quoth she, "you shall not be entered on the roll of my

lovers, until you have passed a review, and I know what equipments you

have. Come hither, and show me what it is like."

"Willingly," said he.

Then Brother Conrad took his place, and slipped into the nun's hand his

fine, powerful weapon, which was thick, long, and round. But as soon as

she felt it she recognized it, and said;

"No! No! I know that well enough. That is the lance of Brother Conrad.

There is not a nun here who does not know it! You thought I should be

deceived, but I know too much for you! Go and try your luck elsewhere!"

And with that she closed the window, being very angry and ill-pleased,

not with Brother Conrad, but with the other monk; and they after this

adventure, returned to their convent, pondering over all that had