The Lawyer And The Bolting-mill
By Monseigneur Le Duc.
_Of a President of Parliament, who fell in love with his chamber-maid,
and would have forced her whilst she was sifting flour, but by fair
speaking she dissuaded him, and made him shake the sieve whilst she
went unto her mistress, who came and found her husband thus, as you will
There lived formerly at Paris a President of the Court of Accounts, who
was a learned clerk, a knight, and a man of ripe age, but right joyous
and pleasant to both men and women.
This worthy lord had married a woman who was both elderly and sickly,
and by her had divers children. And amongst the other damsels, waiting
women, and servant maids in his house, was a serving-wench whom nature
had made most fair, and who did the household work; made the beds,
baked the bread, and did other low offices. The gentleman, who made
love whenever he found a chance, did not conceal from the fair wench his
intentions towards her, and made attempts upon her virtue, promising her
many rich gifts, and explaining to her that it was her duty to let him
have his way, and trying first this way and then that to seduce her. But
he was grieved to find that he could not induce her to return his love.
The girl was wise and chaste, and not so foolish as to grant her master
any favour, but spoke him so fairly that he did not lose heart, though
he would have preferred a different kind of answer.
When he found that kindness was of no use, he tried harshness and rough
words, but the wench was not frightened, and told him that, "He might
do as he pleased, but whilst she had life she would never let him near
The gentleman, seeing that her mind was fully made-up, spake no more
to her for some days, but spared not loving looks and signs; which much
annoyed her, and if she had not feared to make discord between husband
and wife, she would have told the latter how unfaithful her spouse was,
but, in the end, she resolved to conceal this as long as she could.
The infatuation of the old man increased every day, and begging and
praying no longer sufficed. He went to her and renewed his entreaties
and vows, which he confirmed by a hundred thousand oaths. But--to cut
matters short--it was all no good; he could not obtain a single word, or
the least shadow of hope, that he would ever attain his purpose.
Thereupon he left her, but he did not forget to say that if ever he
found a favourable opportunity she would have to comply with his wishes,
or it would be the worse for her.
The wench was not much frightened, thought no more of it, and went about
her duties as usual.
Some time afterwards, one Monday morning, the pretty servant, having
some pies to make, was sifting meal. Now you must know that the room
where she was thus engaged, was not far from her master's bedroom, and
he heard the noise of the sieve, and knew very well that it was made by
the servant-girl at her work.
He thought that perhaps she was not alone, but, if she should be, he
would never find a better chance.
He said to himself, "Though she has often refused me by word of mouth, I
shall succeed at last if I only keep to my purpose."
It was early dawn, and his wife was not awake, at which he was glad. He
stole quietly out of bed; put on his dressing-gown and his slippers, and
crept to the damsel's room so quietly that she never knew he was there
until she saw him.
The poor girl was much astonished, and trembled; suspecting that her
master had come to take that which she would never give him.
Seeing she was frightened, he said nothing but attacked her with such
violence that he would soon have taken the place by storm if she had not
sued for peace. She said to him;
"Alas, sir, I beg for mercy! My life and honour are in your hands;--have
pity on me!"
"I care nothing about honour," said her master, who was very hot and
excited. "You are in my hands and cannot escape me," and with that he
attacked her more violently than before.
The girl, finding resistance was useless, bethought herself of a
stratagem, and said,
"Sir, I prefer to surrender of free-will than by force. Leave me alone,
and I will do all that you may require."
"Very well," said her master, "but be sure that I will not let you go
"There is but one thing I would beg of you, sir" replied the girl.
"I greatly fear that my mistress may hear you; and if, by chance, she
should come and find you here, I should be lost and ruined, for she
would either beat me or kill me."
"She is not likely to come," said he, "she is sleeping soundly."
"Alas, sir, I am in great fear of her and, as I would be assured, I beg
and request of you, for my peace of mind and our greater security in
what we are about to do, that you let me go and see whether she is
sleeping, or what she is doing."
"By our Lady! you would never return," said the gentleman.
"I swear that I will," she replied, "and that speedily."
"Very good then," said he. "Make haste!"
"Ah, sir," said she. "It would be well that you should take this sieve
and work as I was doing; so that if my lady should by chance awake, she
will hear the noise and know that I am at work."
"Give it to me, and I will work well;--but do not stay long."
"Oh, no, sir. Hold this sieve, and you will look like a woman."
"As to that, God knows I care not," said he, and with that laid hold of
the sieve and began to work it as best he could.
Meanwhile the virtuous wench mounted to her lady's room and woke her,
and told her how her husband had attempted her virtue, and attacked her
whilst she was sifting meal, "And if it please you to come and see how I
escaped him," she said, "come down with me and behold him."
The lady rose at once, put on her dress, and was soon before the door
of the room where her lord was diligently sifting. And when she saw him
thus employed, and struggling with the sieve, she said to him;
"Ah, master, what is this? Where are now all your learning, your honour,
your knowledge and prudence?"
He saw that he had been deceived, and replied quickly.
"Wife, they are all collected at the end of my c--k.", and with that,
being much annoyed and angry, he threw down the sieve and went back to
His wife followed him, and began to lecture him again, but he paid
little heed. When he was ready, he ordered his mule, and went to the
palace, where he related his adventure to divers gentlemen, who laughed
loudly thereat. And, although he was at first angry with the wench,
he afterwards helped her, by his influence and rich gifts, to find a