The Incapable Lover
By Messire Miohaut De Changy.
_Of the meeting assigned to a great Prince of this kingdom by a damsel
who was chamber-woman to the Queen; of the little feats of arms of the
said Prince and of the neat replies made by the said damsel to the Queen
concerning her greyhound which had been purposely shut out of the room
of the said Queen, as you shall shortly hear._
If in the time of
the most renowned and eloquent Boccaccio, the
adventure which forms the subject of my tale had come to his knowledge,
I do not doubt but that he would have added it to his stories of great
men who met with bad fortune. For I think that no nobleman ever had a
greater misfortune to bear than the good lord (whom may God pardon!)
whose adventure I will relate, and whether his ill fortune is worthy
to be in the aforesaid books of Boccaccio, I leave those who hear it to
The good lord of whom I speak was, in his time, one of the great
princes of this kingdom, apparelled and furnished with all that befits a
nobleman; and amongst his other qualities was this,--that never was man
more destined to be a favourite with the ladies.
Now it happened to him at the time when his fame in this respect most
flourished, and everybody was talking about him, that Cupid, who casts
his darts wherever he likes, caused him to be smitten by the charms of
a beautiful, young, gentle and gracious damsel, who also had made a
reputation second to no other of that day on account of her great and
unequalled beauty and her good manners and virtues, and who, moreover,
was such a favourite with the Queen of that country that she shared the
royal bed on the nights when the said Queen did not sleep with the king.
This love affair, I must tell you, had advanced to such a point that
each only desired time and place to say and do what would most
please both. They were many days considering how to find a convenient
opportunity, and at last, she--who was as anxious for the welfare of her
lover as she was for the safety of her own reputation--thought of a good
plan, of which she hastened to inform him, saying as follows;
"My dearest friend, you know that I sleep with the Queen, and that it
is not possible for me--unless I would spoil everything--to resign
that honour and position which the noblest lady of the land would think
herself proud and happy to obtain. So that, though I would like to
please you and do your pleasure, I would remain on good terms with her,
and not desert her who can and does give me all the advancement and
honour in the world. I do not suppose that you would have me act
"No, by my soul, dearest," replied the worthy lord; "but at any rate I
would beg you that in serving your mistress your devoted lover should
not be forgotten, and that you do for him all that lies in your power,
for he would rather gain your love and good-will than aught else in the
"This is what I will do for you, Monseigneur," said she. "The Queen, as
you know, has a greyhound of which she is very fond, that sleeps in
her chamber. I will find means to shut it out of the room without her
knowledge, and when everybody has retired, I will jump out of bed, run
to the reception room, and unbolt the door. Then, when you think that
the Queen is in bed, you must come quietly, and enter the reception room
and close the door after you. There you will find the greyhound, who
knows you well enough, and will let you approach it; pull its ears and
make it cry out, and when the Queen hears that, I expect that she will
make me get out of bed at once to let it in. Then I will come to you,
and fail me not, if ever you would speak to me again."
"My most dear and loyal sweetheart," said Monseigneur, "I thank you all
I can. Be sure that I will fail not to be there."
Then he rose and went away, and the lady also; each thinking and
desiring how to carry out the proposed plan.
What need of a long story? The greyhound wanted to come into the chamber
of his mistress at the usual time, as it had been accustomed, but the
damsel had condemned it to banishment, and it was quickly made to beat a
retreat. The Queen went to bed without noticing the absence of the dog,
and soon afterwards there came to keep her company, the gentle damsel,
who was only waiting to hear the greyhound cry out as the signal for the
It was not long before the worthy lord set to work, and soon managed to
reach the chamber where the greyhound was sleeping. He felt for it, with
his foot or with his hand, until he found it, then he took it by the
ears and made it cry aloud two or three times.
The Queen, who heard it, soon knew that it was her greyhound, and
thought that it wanted to come in. She called the damsel, and said;
"My dear, my greyhound is howling outside. Get up, and let it in!"
"Willingly, madam," said the damsel, and as she awaited the battle, the
day and hour of which she had herself appointed, she only armed herself
with her chemise, and in that guise, came to the door and opened it, and
soon met with him who was awaiting her.
He was so delighted and so surprised to see his ladylove so beautiful,
and so well-prepared for the encounter, that he lost his strength and
sense, and had not force enough left to draw his dagger, and try whether
it could penetrate her cuirass. Of kissing, and cuddling, and
playing with her breasts, he could do plenty; but for the grand
So the fair damsel was forced to return without leaving him that which
he could not gain by force of arms. But when she would quit him, he
tried to detain her by force and by soft speeches, but she dared not
stay, so she shut the door in his face, and came back to the Queen, who
asked her if she had let the greyhound in? And she said, "No, because
she could not find it though she had looked well for it."
"Oh, well" said the Queen, "go to bed. It will be all right."
The poor lover was very dissatisfied with himself, and thought himself
dishonoured and disgraced, for he had up till then had such confidence
in himself that he believed he could in less than one hour have tackled
three ladies, and come off every time with honour.
At last his courage returned, and he said to himself that if he
ever were so fortunate as to find another such opportunity with his
sweetheart, she should not escape as she did the previous time.
Thus animated and spurred on by shame and desire, he again took the
greyhound by the ears, and made it cry out much louder than it had
Awakened by this cry, the Queen again sent her damsel, who opened the
door as before, but had to return to her mistress without getting any
more pleasure than she had the first time.
A third time did the poor gentleman do all in his power to tumble her,
but the devil a bit could he find a lance to encounter her with, though
she awaited his onslaught with a firm foot. And when she saw that she
could not have her basket pierced, and that he could not lay his lance
in rest, whatever advantage she gave him, she knew that the joust had
come to nothing, and had a very poor opinion of the jouster.
She would no longer stay with him for all that he could say or do. She
wished to return to the chamber, but her lover held her by force and
"Alas, sweetheart, stay a little longer, I pray!"
"I cannot," she said: "let me go! I have stayed too long already,
considering the little I got by it," and with that she turned towards
the chamber, but he followed her and tried to detain her.
When she saw that--to pay him out, and also hoodwink the Queen--she
called out loud,
"Get out! get out! dirty beast that you are! By God! you shall not come
in here, dirty beast that you are!" and so saying she closed the door.
The Queen, who heard it, asked,
"To whom are you speaking, my dear?"
"To this dirty dog, madam, who has given me such trouble to look for
him. He was lying quite flat, and with his nose on the ground, hidden
under a bench, so that I could not find him. And when I did find him he
would not get up for anything that I could do. I would willingly have
put him in, but he would not deign to lift up his head, so, in disgust,
I have shut the door upon him and left him outside."
"You did quite right, my dear," said the Queen. "Come to bed, and go to
Such, as you have heard, was the bad luck of this noble lord; and since
he could not when his lady would, I believe that since then, when he had
the power, his lady's will was not to be had.