The Seven Sages of Rome
(French Version A)
Translated literally by Hans R. Runte
from MS. Paris, BN f.fr. 2137, fol. 1-46 (13th cent.) (MS. T)
as edited on-line, with variants from all manuscripts,
by Hans R. Runte
[Fol. 1a] In Rome was an emperor who had the name Diocletian. He had had a wife. From this wife was left to him a male heir. The emperor was old and the child was already seven years old. One day the emperor called the seven sages by their names:
-- [My] lords, he says, tell me to whom of you I entrust my son to teach and instruct [him]?
The first-born spoke before [the others], and he was the richest and best-connected one and of the highest lineage and old, [with hair] as white as wool, and was tall and thin and his name was Bancillas. He turned toward the emperor and spoke to him in this manner:
-- Sire, he goes, to me you shall [fol. 1b] entrust him and I will teach him however much I know and however much my companions know in seven years.
Afterwards the second [sage] got up. This one was neither too tall nor too short but was of handsome shape and handsome girth, and [his hair] was intermingled with white hairs so that the white overtook the black, and his name was Ancilles. He looked at the emperor and said to him:
-- Sire, he goes, you shall entrust him to me and I will teach him however much I know and however much my companions know in six years.
Afterwards the third [sage] got up, and he was a thin small one with curly hair, and his name was Lentillus and he said to the emperor:
-- Sire, however much I know and however much my companions know I will teach him in five years; entrust him to me.
The fourth [sage] got up on his feet before the emperor, and his name was Malcuidarz the Red, [fol. 1c] a practical joker who readily mocked people.
-- Sire, he says, you shall entrust him to me. I cannot say that I will teach him my companions’ knowledge, but however much I know I will teach him in four years.
Afterwards the fifth [sage] got up, and his name was Cato of Rome. He was of a nice age and [his hair] was intermingled with white hairs so that the black showed through the white. He addressed the emperor and said to him:
-- Sire, to me you shall entrust him, if it pleases you. I do not say that I will teach him however much my companions know, for I do not know his mind nor his memory, but however much I know and however much I will [yet] be able to know I will teach him as soon as he will be able to retain it.
Afterwards the sixth [sage] got up, and he had hair [that was] yellower than wax and curly, [fol. 1d] and he had eyes as green as a falcon’s, his nose [was] very straight and well positioned, and he was broad across the shoulders and thin down his sides. He had neither a beard nor a mustache, and his name was Josse. He said to the emperor:
-- Sire, you shall entrust him to me and I will commit myself [to the task] so that you will laud me for it at the end of three years.
Afterwards the seventh [sage] got up, his name was Martin, and said to the emperor:
-- Sire, I ask of you that you compensate [me for] the service that I have put in for you all my life; entrust me your son for instruction and I consider my entire service paid and you will have compensated me well.
The emperor replied very humbly to them all:
-- Gentlemen, great thanks for fending for my favour. I will not split [fol. 2a] up this good company.
Now he took his son by the hand and said:
-- I entrust him to the seven of you.
And they bowed before him and each one individually gave him five hundred thanks.
The sages led the child amongst them to the assembly hall (that is a place where they hold the great discussions and the great councils about the matters pertaining to Rome). They counsel one another that they will not leave it [the child] in Rome, for it could well hear there some bad word from a town woman or a chambermaid or a bad boy. They looked at a fruit-tree garden outside Rome, a league away. This garden measured one league in all directions and was planted in all directions with good trees and [was equipped] with all [fol. 2b] the good fountains that one can design. In the middle of this garden they looked at a beautiful, good and convenient spot and had a beautiful square house built [with] big rooms in the back and beautiful salons in the front. When the house was built and finished, the seven sages had the seven arts painted in the four parts of the house: first astronomy, then necromancy, music, arithmetic, rhetoric, dialectic and grammar. They had the boy’s bed made in one of the corners of [his] room so that [he could] see the seven arts. The sages began to tutor and teach him, and when one left him, another took him over and taught him to the best of his knowledge. Thus they [fol. 2c] held him seven years, and he knew perfectly his way around the seven arts.
After these seven years they held him a long while longer so that he already argued with them about all knowledge and [so that] they said among themselves that they would test him. So they took sixteen ivy leaves and put four under each post of his bed. When the bed was prepared the boy lay down. It was night and he took no notice of [the leaves]. When morning came and the boy was awake, he looked up and down and right and left. The sages marveled much when they saw him so astonished, so they spoke to him and asked him what he had heard or seen or felt, and that he tell them. The boy answered them:
-- Surely, handsome gentlemen, either the roof of this house [fol. 2d] has been lowered or the ground has been raised or my bed is higher.
They looked at each other and said together that he was wise.
It did not take a long time afterwards that the wise men of Rome came to his father and said to him:
-- Sire, we marvel much that you do not [re]marry, for you have sufficiently large lands and large rents whereby three children or four, if you had them, would be rich men.
The emperor was old; he reflected [on it] and after his reflection he replied to them:
-- I would take her readily if she were sought and you wanted to take on [the task], for I have indeed only one heir.
-- We will readily seek her for you.
Now they sought her and looked for her in [fol. 3a] many a land until they found her and led her to the emperor. The emperor saw [how] beautiful and well-bred she [was], and they made him understand that she was from a great lineage. The lady’s parents gave her to the emperor and he took her very willingly according to the habits and the customs of the land and loved her well [and] so much [more] than any man can love a woman, and the lady loved him as much.
One day it happened that the emperor and the empress were alone in a room, and one had well said to the empress that the emperor had a male heir and [that,] if he were dead, the heirs that would issue forth from her would be heirs to the empire of Rome. In that room where they were the empress confronted [fol. 3b] the emperor:
--Sire, you have a son, he is mine as [much] as yours. It can well be that we will never have [another] one. Will he always be in hiding? It has been seven years since you took me, yet I have not seen him, and I would willingly see him. Sire, by the faith you owe me, send [someone] to fetch him. You have held this empire all your life, never did you have as many masters nor as many servants as you have now.
-- Madam, I will send for him in the morning.
-- Great thanks, Sire, says the empress, for I hunger greatly after seeing him.
The emperor called two messengers:
-- Go, he says, and ride up [there] and greet the seven sages and tell them that I ask that they come to me and that they bring me [fol. 3c] my son, for I want to have him tested and [I want] to know how much he knows [after] all the time that they have kept him.
The messengers now mounted and went to the place where they heard that the sages and the emperor’s son were. They showed them great joy and so did the child. The messengers greeted the sages on behalf of the emperor and said to them:
-- Handsome gentlemen, the emperor asks you that you take his son to him and come with him, for he wants to know how much he has learned in as much time as you have kept him.
So they spent that day. When evening came after dinner and it was night and the moon was shining brightly, the sages and the[ir] pupil went down from [fol. 3d] the room [and] down into the garden. The seven sages looked at the moon and at the stars. Cato, who was the wisest of [them] all, looked deeply into the moon and into the stars, and he knew the constellations and the movements of [their] paths. And when he had looked, he spoke and said:
-- Listen all! The emperor asks us that we go into Rome and that we bring him his son. And if we go there and bring him there, he will die from the first word he will speak, and because of it we will all be destroyed. This I see, said Cato, in the moon.
The sages looked then at the stars and at the moon and saw that it was true. Afterwards the boy looked at a bright star which seemed to be twelve feet from the moon. He called [out to] his masters [fol. 4a] and said to them:
-- Look what this bright star, which is next to the moon, means to me. I see, goes the boy, that I will be protected from death and you all from destruction if I can keep myself from speaking up to [the] seven[th] day[s].
When the sages had listened to what the boy had told them, they looked at the star that the boy showed them, and saw that what he was saying was true.
-- By [my] faith, goes Lord Bancillas, he tells the truth. So now it behooves us to take [and give] advice among us.
-- By [my] faith, goes the boy, I will advise you well, if you wish. It behooves me to keep from speaking for seven days, and you are seven sages. Little reason and discretion will there be in you if each one cannot make [fol. 4b] pass one day for me.
-- For sure, goes Lord Bancillas, I shall well make mine pass.
-- And I, mine, says Cato.
-- This is good, then, said the boy. Each one must thus come on his day, it could not be otherwise. And you will be in a town close by, in the St. Martin borough. Gentlemen, said the boy, I will have great trouble and many a persecution; for God[’s sake], do think of me.
Then they left and took their leave and came [back] into the room and fêted the emperor’s messengers.
The boy was deep in thought and thought all night and all day, until it came [to be] morning and he awakened and the sages were up. The boy’s horse was readied as well as his master’s. And this [fol. 4c] master was the one who had provided them with what they needed while they were together. The boy took leave of his masters, crying. He came to Rome and his masters remained in the St. Martin borough. The emperor heard [people] say that his son was coming. Now he got on his horse and made part of his barons, who were with him, mount [as well]. The emperor met his son in the middle of the street and greeted him and took him by the chin and kissed him. And [the son] bowed before him and [before] the other barons, too. They came to the bottom of the stairs of the [palace] and the emperor and all the others dismounted.
The emperor took his son by the right hand, then they went up into the palace. The emperor asks his [fol. 4d] son how it is with him. The boy bows and answers him nothing.
-- What’s this, [my] handsome son, says the emperor, will you not speak to me at all?
And he did not say a word. The emperor called his [son’s] master of the household, who had come with him, and asked him:
-- How is it that my son does not speak? He has been at a bad school, in my opinion, he has lost his speech.
He replied to him:
-- Sire, he was speaking this morning all manners of talk.
The empress heard [people] say that the child had come and that he did not speak at all, and she derived great joy from that. She now dressed up in the richest garments she had, then came into the hall with a great following of ladies and damsels. The emperor and the other knights rose before the empress. She [fol. 5a] came amongst them, then sat down next to the emperor and said to him:
-- Sire, if he ever talked, entrust him to me and I will make him talk if ever he is going to.
-- By [my] faith, said the emperor, I entrusted him speaking well to the sages.
Then he took him by the hand and led him to the empress, but the child did not want to go to her.
-- Go ahead, said the emperor to his son.
The boy did not want to refuse his father, instead he got up and left with the empress for her room[s]. The empress ordered all her ladies and her damsels to be put into another room, and between her and the boy they stayed in the room alone and sat down on a very rich blanket covered by a silk sheet. The empress looked at him very attentively and wanted to make him [fol. 5b] listen to her and said to him:
-- Handsome sweet friend, handsome sweet sir, listen to me. I have heard [people] speak much of you, and because of the great good that you know I love you. And because of the great love that I have for you have I endeavoured that your father has taken me as his wife, and I have kept my virginity for you in that he never had any part of me. Therefore I want you to love me and I will love you.
Then she threw her arms around his neck and he drew back. The takes him by the chin and wanted to kiss him, and he drew further back.
-- How[’s that], she goes, handsome sweet friend, will you not at all speak to me nor make love?
The boy wanted to preserve his father’s honour and his own, so he did not say a word. When the empress saw [fol. 5c] that she would not draw a word out of him, she threw her hands at a silk cloth she had put on and at the ermine coat and at her shirt and ripped everything to the middle of her chest; and moreover, like an evil plotter and [like] one full of evil craft and evil trick[s] she threw her hands into her hair and tore out part of it. She raised her hands up to her face and scratched herself and was bloody all over. Afterwards, when she had done this, she “threw” out a big and hideous shout, and the barons who were in the hall came toward [her] room. When the emperor saw [that] the one whom he loved so much was in so bad a state, he was furious and like beyond his senses.
-- How[’s that], he goes, who put you in this state?
-- By [my] faith, she goes, this devil (who is) here. He al- [fol. 5d] most strangled me. If you had not come so soon, I would be dead or he would have had his way with me. He is nothing to you, he is a devil, have him tied up.
-- By my head, said the emperor, he will not be protected [much] long[er].
The emperor then has his soldiers come, those whose service it is to torture and hang people.
-- Go, he says, and destroy the one who was to be my son.
-- Sire, they go, we will do your bidding.
So they left the room and entered the hall. The mighty lords of the land were furious about what they had seen happen and about [the fact] that the emperor wanted to have his son destroyed, so they were much astonished by it and did not know how this could have happened. They [fol. 6a] came to him and said to him:
-- Sire, we marvel much at what you are doing. Put off until tomorrow your son’s destruction and then, by the verdict of your court, kill him if he has committed a misdeed.
-- Certainly, says the emperor, I will readily wait until tomorrow.
So then he ordered him to be thrown down into the [prison] cell so that he may not flee.
The empress was very sad and enraged that the boy has been given a delay of his destruction. So she thought and murmured to herself until night, for she still believed that she would find as good a reason to destroy him as she had sought and pursued. When night had come, the emperor went to bed. The empress gave him a very ugly frown
-- What is it, madam, goes [fol. 6b] the emperor, what face do you make? Tell me your thought[s] and what you have.
-- Certainly, Sire, I will tell you. You are dead and destroyed, for he has come by whom you will be stripped of your heritage and will lose [your] land[s], and this will be in [a short] time: it is your son. And so, may happen to you what happened to the pine tree from his (pine) off-shoot.
-- And what, says the emperor, happened to the pine from his off-shoot?
-- Sire, she says, I will tell you willingly, so listen to me.
“In this city there once was a burgher who had a very beautiful garden which was big and planted with all [kinds of] good trees. In the centre of this garden there was a pine which was more beautiful and taller and straighter than any other. The nobleman made [his gardener] look for the best soil(s) [fol. 6c] one could find and had it put at the foot of the pine. The pine sprouted forth and grew as one could wish, and out of the growth arose a little pine from one of the main roots and came along as one could wish. Whenever the burgher saw it, he derived great joy from it and made [his gardener] look for the best soil one could find and had it put at the foot of the pine. [So it went] until the nobleman had gone on his business trip and stayed [away] a long time. And when he had come back, the first thing he did was to go in his garden and found his little pine short. So he called his gardener and said to him:
- What’s this? Why is my little pine [so] short?
- Sir, goes the gardener, don’t you see why?
- Not at all, he ges.
- I will tell you why. Look up [and see] how the branch of the [fol. 6d] holds it [back] so that it cannot go forward.
- Cut it off, goes the nobleman.
- Sir, willingly.
He took the axe and took a ladder and put it against the branch and struck until the branch was cut off. When it was cut off, the nobleman said to him:
- Cut [on] and make a path for it.
- Sir, willingly.”
-- Now, Sire, goes the empress, thus is the big pine cut [back] and made ugly in favour of the little pine. And there is still more,...
“... for the little pine came from the front stump and cut, and [because] of the force [involved] one of the main roots rose [through the soil] and dried out at that point. When the nobleman came back into his garden one day and saw the little pine which came along as one could wish and which had already outgrown the other one, and when he saw the big one [fol. 7a] dried out in one section, he said to his gardener:
- What does, he goes, this big pine have which is dried out?
- Sir, he goes, the shade of your little pine does that.
- So cut [the big one] down altogether, says the gentleman.
- Willingly, sir, he goes.”
-- Sire, says the empress, thus is [the big pine] cut down, thus has it been totally brought to shame by the one which had issued forth from it. So it is with your son who issued forth from you, who brings shame upon you, for the whole empire is already against you in order to rob your heritage, and you were the day before yesterday at the point of saving yourself. And therefore may happen to you exactly what also happened to the [big] pine because of his little pine.
-- By my head, Lady, such [a thing] will not happen to me, for [my son] will die in the morning.
Thus [things] remained from that [moment] to the next day. When the emperor had risen, he called [fol. 7b] his servants.
-- Go, he says, and pull my son out of the gaol and destroy him.
-- Sire, they go, at your command!
They came to the [prison] cell and pulled the boy out. The doors were opened and the palace filled with the barons of the land. They saw that soldiers were leading the boy away. All those who saw him had a great weight in their heart and several fainted in the streets. Hear now that the first of the sages came. He met the boy whom the servants were taking away to be hanged. One did not say a word to the other. Lord Bancillas passes by and came to the foot of the stairs of the [palace] hall. He dismounted. There were quite a lot of people to take his horse. He climbed up the stairs and came into [fol. 7c] the hall and said to the emperor:
-- Sire, may God give you a good day!
-- May God never bless you, said the emperor.
-- What is it, Sire, goes my Lord Bancillas, what have you got? Why do you want to destroy your son?
-- Why? goes the emperor. There are enough [reasons] why, and I will tell you. I had entrusted my son to you to instruct and teach him, to you and your companions as to men whom I loved much and whom I trusted, and you have already kept him seven years. The first thing you taught him is that you have taken away his speech; the second that he wanted to take my wife by force; and of the other tasks there are enough wherefore I want to have him destroyed, and as soon as he will be [fol. 7d] destroyed, know that you and your companion[s] will die afterwards.
-- Sire, says master Bancillas, listen to me! You say that he has lost his speech. For that he has not deserved death, rather there is a greater reason to treat him better than one has ever before. And if it is true that he wanted to take your wife by force, for that he has not deserved death. Pace your grace and your word, I will not believe that he ever thought of it.
-- By [my] faith, said the emperor, like she who is all disshevelled and all torn up, he loses a lot in this matter..
-- Ha, Sire, goes my Lord Bancillas, she did not carry him in her body nine months. And if you want to destroy him in this manner, [fol. 8a] may happen to you, too, what happened to the knight [and] his greyhound.
-- What happened, says the emperor, to the knight [and] his greyhound?
-- Sire, I will not tell you if you do not delay your son’s death, for he would be dead before I would have told [the story], and then my story would not be worth anything.
-- By [my] faith, goes the emperor, I will grant him a respite.
-- Send for him, goes the sage.
The messengers ran [off] now, who brought him back. When the barons heard the news, they all felt a very great joy. The boy was brought back before his master and he bowed [before] him, then he was put back down into the gaol.
-- Now tell [me], goes the emperor.
-- Willingly, Sire.
“In this city it happened [fol. 8b] on a day which is called the King of Sundays (that’s the day of the Trinity) that the knights must go to amuse themselves in the meadows. The knight’s meadow was down from his house and the house was enclosed by an old and ancient and cracked wall. He was rich and had from his wife a small child in the cradle. The child had three nurses: the first served to breast-feed him, the second to bathe him, the third to shake out the sheets and to put him to bed. The knight had a strong and fast greyhound which reached all the things after which he ran, and whatever he reached he took. The greyhound was better than any other, and the gentleman loved him more than anything.
The knight had gone out [fol. 8c] on his horse into the meadows with the others, [his] sword girthed, the shield at his neck, the lance in his fist. And his wife had gone out beyond the door onto the drawbridge, and the nurses had brought the child to the foot of the wall and were climbing up the stairs to the crenels of the wall. The knights began to tourney against one another.
A serpent was living in the wall [and] it heard the noise of the shields and of the lances, so it wondered much about it [because] it had not at all learned such a custom. So it raised its head and issued forth out of the wall through one of the crevices. The serpent came toward the cradle, and on the threshold of the hall was the greyhound which heard the noise of the tourney and saw the big [fol. 8d] and hideous and poisonous serpent. Then it went up to the serpent and took it in the middle of the fat [part] of the stomach. The serpent raised [its] head and bit it in the neck. From the anguish and from the pain it felt [the greyhound] cried out, and then it returns to the serpent and leaps over the cradle and then over the serpent. The cradle was turned upside down, but there was such good luck that the two headboards of the cradle were high so that the child’s face did not touch the ground. The battle between the serpent and the greyhound began. The serpent wanted to flee, but the greyhound took it in the middle of the fat [part] of the stomach, and the serpent bit it in the side. The greyhound cried out from the pain he felt, so it leaped once again over the cradle, so that the cradle was all bloody from it [fol. 9a] and the whole place as well, until at the end the greyhound took it by the head and strangled it with all its might in such a manner that it killed the serpent and it was dead. [By] then the greyhound had so much rage in itself that it did not want at all to leave it as such, but it sliced it into three sections, then left it thus. The cradle and the place around [it] were all bloody, and the greyhound was all swollen and bloodied. It entered the hall and began to shout and to scream and to writhe among the layers [of its blankets] and was shouting like someone who was totally destroyed and anguished.
It was late afternoon and the knights’ tourney ends and everyone left for his home. The nurses went down the [fol. 9b] stairs of the wall and came into the hall and saw the cradle upside down and the place around all bloody. They looked towards the greyhound which was wailing, so they thought that it was rabid and that it had eaten and strangled the child, for the reason that they saw him bloody. So they began to shout and to scream and to tear at their hair and to say:
- Ha, poor us, what shall we do? What will we be able to become? Let’s flee from here!
That piece of advice was soon taken: they hit the road and flee. As they were passing the door they met their lady on the drawbridge. She saw [how] ugly and frightened they were, so she asked them what was the matter with them, and they replied that the greyhound was rabid and had [fol. 9c] strangled and killed her child. [When she heard] this reply, the lady let out a shout and fainted. And when she had returned [to her senses], her lord had come, with the shield at his neck, who had tourneyed with the others. He saw his wife who told him that his greyhound was rabid and that it had strangled his child.
- For sure, goes the knight, this weighs on me.
He came into the courtyard and dismounted. There were enough [men] who held his horse for him and took his shield and his lance.
The greyhound recognized his master’s horse and thought that he had come. When it heard him speak, it sprang up on its feet, sick as it was, and went up to his master and put its two forefeet in the middle of his chest. The knight had heard [the] news of his [fol. 9d] greyhound which had killed his child. He was so anguished that he now draws [his] sword and cut its head off, then handed it to one of his squires. Afterwards he went up into the hall and looked in the direction of the cradle and saw [that] it was all blood[-stained] and [that] the place [around it was] all blood[-stained, too]. He came over there and found the three sections of the serpent and then wondered much how this could have happened. He came over to the cradle and saw [how it was] upside down and found the child alive. So he called the lady and the people who had come with him, for them to see this marvel. They looked at the serpent and knew with certainty that the greyhound had fought with the serpent for the child, to protect the child. [fol. 10a] So the knight said to the lady:
- Madam, you made me kill my greyhound over our child that he had protected against death. I believed you, which [means that] I did not act wisely. But know this much: for what I did upon your advice, nobody will give me penance, rather I will give it to me myself.
He sat down and had his shoes removed and then cut off the front part of his shoes and left without looking at [any] wife or child he may have had, and fled into exile because of the anger his greyhound [had caused him].”
Then master Bancillas said to the emperor:
-- Sire, if upon the advice of your wife you want to destroy your son without the advice of your barons, then may happen to you what happened [fol. 10b] to the knight with his greyhound.
-- By my head, said the emperor, it will not happen to me like this, if it pleases God, for he will not die today.
-- Sire, five hundred thanks, said master Bancillas, for everyone would hate you for it and curse you.
It was late, the court departed, the doors were closed. The emperor came to the empress. She was extremely furious because she could not carry out [her plan to] her advantage. The emperor asked her:
-- Madam, what bothers you?
-- Sire, she goes, I am furious, not because of myself but because of your great damage and your great debasement which threatens you, and I will tell you why. It’s because of this devil whom you call son, who has come in order to [fol. 10c] disinherit and destroy you. May therefore happen to you what happened to the boar that was caught by way of scratching [it].
-- Tell me, goes the emperor, how it was caught by scratching.
-- Sire, willingly.
“In this country was once a big and marvelous forest, abundant with fruits and shrubs. In it lived peacefully a big, fully grown and proud boar, so that nobody dared enter the forest in these parts. In the middle of this forest in a [certain] place was a service-tree which was well loaded with ripe sorb-apples. The boar got drunk with them once every day. One day a shepherd had lost one of his animals [which] had fled into the forest. The shepherd came there and saw the service-tree and coveted much some of the sorb-apples [fol. 10d] which lay on the ground. He lowered himself and began to gather them up until he had his apron full of them. While he was filling his other apron, there came the boar. When the shepherd saw him coming, he was afraid and right he was, and wanted to flee. But he saw the boar coming so close to him that he did not dare, so he was so perplexed that he did not know what to do. Then he looked up the service-tree and climbed up. The boar came underneath the service-tree. It wondered much why it had not found as many sorb-apples as it usually did, then looked up the service-tree and saw the shepherd. Then it got angry and began to chew and to gnash its teeth and to sharpen its two [front] feet against the ground and struck with its teeth against the service-tree so that everything shook. [fol. 11a] It seemed to him who was up in [the tree] that it should split down the middle. All the boar had [in mind] was to eat. And the shepherd then looked [down] at the ground and saw that all the boar had [in mind] was to eat. So he put his hand into his apron and let the sorb-apples go, and the boar began to eat. While the boar was eating, it fell asleep. When the shepherd saw this, he climbed down lower towards the ground and held himself with one of [his] hands by the branches and with the other began to scratch the boar. The boar felt drunken, so it bent [its] two hind-legs and then [his] forelegs, and [the shepherd] began to scratch and held firmly on to the branch and then put his [free] hand under [the boar’s stomach and began to scratch until the boar lay down, and [fol. 11b] he [continued] to scratch. The boar closed [its] eyes and fell asleep. The shepherd covered its head with his overalls and scratched vigourously with [his] left hand, then pulls his knife out of its sheath. The shepherd was strong and resolute and was not at all scared. So he raised the knife and struck the boar right through the body at the heart’s place. He recommenced and struck [the boar] all the way through the heart and killed it. The shepherd left, who this time did not want to do more, neither cut up nor carry off [the boar].”
-- Now then, Sire, you have heard how this boar, which was so strong and so big, died by being scratched, and how a miserable shepherd, who knew nothing, killed it. So is it with you who listen to [what] those sages are saying. By their white words you can know that they want [fol. 11c] to destroy and disinherit you.
-- By my head, madam, you tell the truth. But know that I will not believe them [any longer], for [my son] will die in the morning.
-- Certainly, she says, you will only act wisely.
Thereupon they left [things] until the morning when the doors were opened. The palace filled up witth the barons of the land. The emperor called his guardsmen and told them:
-- Take my son and lead him [to were] he will be destroyed.
They executed his order, and when they brought [the son] before the emperor, they asked him by which death he should die.
-- Hang him, he said.
-- Sire, as you wish.
They left and entered the street. There arose the shout[s] of the people who pitied him.
Then there was one of the sages who was his master and was called [sic] Augustes. He looked at his [fol. 11d] disciple whom they were leading to destruction, and pitied him. He passed on and came to the stairs of the hall, dismounted and came before the emperor and greeted him. The emperor did not respond to his greeting, but threatened him and said to him:
-- I had entrusted you my son to teach him, and you have robbed him of [his] speech. By the lord who is called God, you did this at your risk; I will compensate you for it.
-- Sire, goes my lord Augustes, I have well heard how part of the things have gone. Your bad will is not [directed] at him, that he does not speak; there is something else. But if you want to kill him in this manner, then may happen to you what happened to Hippocrates [at the hand] of his nephew.
-- And what happened to him? says [fol. 12a] the emperor.
-- By [my] faith, goes he, if you wish to delay your son’s death today, I will tell you, and then you do what you want to do once I have spoken.
-- Sure, goes the emperor, this I grant you.
There were enough messengers who ran to bring back the child, then it was put into the gaol. Thereupon master Augustes began his story.
“Hippocrates was the wisest man on could find. From all his lineage he had only one nephew. He did not want to teach him anything of his knowledge, and nevertheless the young man thought that it was proper for him to know certain things. So he listened carefully to [his uncle] and paid him great attention and worked at it so much that he knew [a lot] and revealed to his uncle Hippocrates his [fol. 12b] knowledge. Hippocrates saw that he knew enough.
Hardly any time passed before news came that the king of Hungary had a son who was sick, so he asked Hippocrates to come to him. And he replied that he could not go there, but that he would send him a nephew of his. He ordered his nephew to ready himself and loaded a pack-horse for him and told him to leave with the messengers. They travelled until they came to the king in Hungary. One brought the child before him. He looked at it and then at the king and then at the mother. He took her by the hand, then drew her aside and then asked to see the urine of all three. They showed him. When he had seen it, he thought [and] then called the queen and said to her:
- Madam, whose child is this?
- Sir, he is [fol. 12c] my son and the son of my lord the king.
- Madam, I well believe that he is your son, but he is not the king’s son.
- He is so, says the queen.
- That’s not true, he says, and if you don’t tell me otherwise, I will leave.
- By [my] faith, she goes, if I knew that you said it for sure, I would have your body put to shame.
- Madam, I shall leave; but know this well: if you don’t tell me who fathered him, he cannot [find] healing.
Then he leaves [her] and began to shake his head. When the queen sees this, she calls him back and said to him:
- Sir, I will tell it to you on condition that no word of it get out.
- Madam, he said, none will.
- Sir, goes the lady, it happened that the count of Namur was passing through this country, and [fol. 12d] my lord put him up, and in the end he appealed to me and he lay with me and fathered this child. Sir, for God[’s sake], speak to nobody about it.
- Madam, I will not. He must have adultery poisoning. Give him beef (meat) to eat.
They carried out his order, and as soon as he had eaten some, he was healed. When the king saw that his son was healed, he gave [Hippocrates’s nephew] all he wanted.
He now left all happy and came to his uncle. The uncle asked him:
- Did you heal the child?
- Yes, sir.
- What did you give it to eat?
- Beef (meat).
- So it was adultery?
- True, sir.
- You are wise, said Hippocrates.
Hippocrates thought of treason and of felony regarding his nephew. One day he called him and said to him:
- Handsome nephew, come with me into this garden.
And [fol. 13a] when they were in the garden, Hippocrates said:
- God, what a good herb I smell!
[His nephew] leaps ahead and kneels down and picks it and brought it to him and said to him:
- Sir, here, look at it!
Hippocrates took it in his hand, then advanced a bit further and said:
- I smell yet a better one.
[The other] came forward to pick it and knelt down. Hippocrates ha[d] equipped himself well and [now] pulls out his knife and killed his nephew. And he did still more: he took all his books and burned them.
After that, Hippocrates was sick to death, he had diarrhea, (that is) death’s messenger. So he had a 268-litre barrel fetched and had it filled with the clearest fountain water one could find, then had the bottom pierced in a hundred spots and had a hundred [fol. 13b] wooden pins put into [the holes], then put powder around each [pin]. Thereupon he asked several people [to come] and said to them:
- [Dear] sirs, I am [close] to death from diarrhea. Look, I have had this barrel filled from the clearest fountain one could find. So now, pull all the pins out!
- Willingly, they go.
Now they pull them out, but not a [single] drop of water issued forth from [the barrel].
- So you can see, said Hippocrates, how I water-proofed this barrel, and I cannot plug myself. I know for certain that I am dying.
Before long after that he was dead.”
-- Sire, goes master Augustes to the emperor, thus died Hippocrates and his nephew, and [thus] his books were burned. What [13c] would have grieved him so if he had left his nephew alive or had left his books?
-- Certainly, says the emperor, nothing would have grieved him.
-- Sire, like that you want to act, [too]. You have only one son and this one you want to destroy because of what your wife says. You are an old man and know well that you will never have another child. And if you want to destroy him thus, may happen to you what happened to Hippocrates through his nephew.
-- By my head, says the emperor, such a thing will not happen to me, for he will die tomorrow.
-- Sire, said master Augustes, five hundred thanks, for you will do [yourself] honour.
Thus was he spared that night. The doors were closed. The emperor came to the empress. [fol. 13d] She presented him an ugly face and had swollen eyes from crying. The emperor asked her:
-- Madam, what have you [gotten]? Tell it to me!
-- Sire, she goes, great anger and great rage.
-- Madam, goes the emperor, why?
-- Sire, she goes, my telling [you] would not be worthwhile. But anyway, it grieves me that you once took me [for your wife] in order [merely] to leave [me] so soon.
-- How[’s that], madam? said the emperor, are we aleady at the leaving [stage]?
-- Sire, she goes, yes, for I would not at all consider your vileness nor your debasement.
-- Madam, how [do you mean]?
-- Sire, she goes, I will tell you (it). I see well that all the men of your court are after you and that, as far as he whom you call son is concerned, they want him to have the empire. And if it [fol. 14a] comes to [the point] where he must have it, then may happen to you what happened to the one who threw his father’s head into the cesspool.
-- For love[’s sake], madam, who was that? Tell me (it).
-- Sire, she goes, what would my telling be worth?
-- Madam, I beg you to tell me (it).
-- Sire, willingly, to see whether you might gain knowledge from it. Sire,
[The empress: gaza]
“in this city [there] was an emperor whose name was Octavianus. who loved gold and silver more than any other thing. He loved [them] so much that he filled the entire Crescent tower with them. And [there] were [also] seven sages in this city. Five [of them] had gone off on a conquest. And of the two sages who stayed behind, one was so generous and so [free-]spending that he spent what he [fol. 14b] had, and when he could not get [money], he borrowed it. His [money] was refused to nobody. He had two sons and two daughters. He dressed nobly and spent much on his body, his own and his children’s. The other sage was so penny-pinching and avaricious that he did not want to spend anything, and however much he could have, he kept it. To this one Octavianus entrusted the protection of his tower and his treasure.
The generous sage one night called one of his sons and said to him:
- Go, and take a pick-axe and I [shall take] another one, and let’s go to the Crescent tower and pick [at it] until we pull the treasure out. and with that money we will be well-off and will pay our debts.
- Oho, Sire, said the young man, this we will not do at all. What would we do if we [fol. 14c] were found there? We and our lineage would be dead and dishonoured.
- It will never happen, goes the father, that people find us there, and I want you to come [with me] there.
- Handsome father, I will do your bidding.
It was overcast, the
did not shine nor does any star appear in the sky.
Now they went off there and began to pick around the foot of the tower
and picked away until they entered it. Then they loaded of those riches
[on their shulders] and carried away as much as they could and left their
pick-axe[s] in the tower and returned home and unloaded. The next day
they paid their debts, and [the sage] dressed his household richly and
had his houses, which were falling down, re-straightened and maintained
[Fol. 14d] The sage who had the watch of the tower came to the tower to find out whether anything had touched it. He saw [that] it had miserably crumbled and [then] he found the hole. So he entered inside and saw the pick-axe and saw perfectly that somebody had carried away part of the [emperor’s] possessions. So he came back to his house without in the least seeming [to be upset]. Then he had a dyer’s vat made and put it in front of the hole in the tower, and had a big, marvelous hole made in the ground and had the vat buried in it. Then he took the strongest glue he could find, and sea clay and wood tar and [molten] lead and mixed them all together so that the vat was totally full, then he took little branches and small sticks and put them over the vat and covered it with earth on [fol. 15a] top, [and] then he left.
After that it took hardly a long time before the generous sage had spent what he had carried home, so he had nothing else to spend, for he had held court splendidly and incurred great expenses. One night he called his son and said to him:
- Son, let’s once again go to the tower.
- Oho, Sire, said the young man, we won’t, control yourself.
- Yes we will, said the father, let’s go (there) another time.
- Sire, said the son, at your order, let’s go, by God.
It was night and late. They started on their way, the father in front and the son behind [him], until they came to the tower. And as the father thought he was entering inside, he fell into the vat and got in up to his throat. He felt that the glue and the clay hold so tightly [fol. 15b] his extremities that he could not pull one of them towards himself. He shouted altogether beautifully to his son:
- I am dead.
The young man said:
- You’re not, handsome father, I will help you.
The young man lowered himself to the vat and the father said to him:
- Pull back, handsome son! If you fall in, you are dead.
- So what shall I do?
- Cut my head off, he says.
- Oho, handsome father, this I would not do in any manner, but I will go to get help.
- It can’t be, says the father, hurry up [and decapitate me] before other people get a hold of me, for, since I will have my head cut off, I will not be recognized, nor will my lineage ever have any reproach in this.
The other one lowered himself toward the vat with all the armour he had brought along and cut his head off, then he was so panicked that he threw it into one of his father’s cesspools. [fol. 15c] And when the daughters found out about it, there was very great mourning throughout the house.
In the morning, when the avaricious sage had gotten up, he came to the tower and entered it. He looked [around] and saw the one in the vat, who had his head cut off. So he called his men and had [them] pull him out. He looked right and left, up and down, but [the corpse] could not be recognized. So the sage ordered that one take two horses and had [the corpse] tied by the feet to the[ir] tails and had it dragged through Rome, and he ordered that, wherever [his men] saw people doing great mourning, they turn [in there] and take them [into custody].
The men went on the horses all over Rome until they came up to the house of the sage whom they were dragging [behind them]. And [the sage’s] sons were inside and his [fol. 15d] daughters [as well]. They came out. When they saw their father being dragged [around], they began to shout. [One] brother could not hold [his siblings] back, so he struck himself in the thigh with a knife. Those who were going [with] the corpse entered inside and asked for the master of the house. The young man answered that he was in town.
- And what then is the matter with these young ladies who are shouting so?
- [My] lord, don’t you see that I wounded myself in the thigh with a knife? They were afraid that I had lost my mind or would die.
- It’s true, sir, they go, we [can] see it for sure.
So they left the house and took the one they were dragging outside Rome and buried him.”
-- Now then, Sire, said the empress, the son was rich because his father died shamefully. [fol. 16a] And his father’s head, why did he not put it in a nice cemetery? Very little did he care about the body and the head as long as he had the money. As much I tell you with respect to your son: he chases after being emperor, and when he will have [your] land in his hand[s], he will care very little about you. And thus, if you want to act [according to the fact] that you do not want to believe me, then may happen to you what happened to him whose head was thrown into the cesspool.
-- By my head, goes the emperor, such a thing will not happen to me, for I will never believe anyone regarding this. He will die in the morning.
-- Sire, goes the empress, may God give you strength and courage for it.
That night went by until in the morning the doors were opened. The emperor was up. The palace was filling up with the high barons [fol. 16b] of the land. The emperor ordered his guardsmen to destroy his son.
-- Sire, they go, at your order[s].
They pulled him out of the gaol and led him before the emperor. They asked him which death he [sh]ould die.
-- Bury him all alive, said the emperor.
So they went off and led the child very humbly through the streets of Rome.
Here then came one of the masters whose name was Lentillus. He met his disciple who bowed before him. The sage felt great pity for him [but] went on until he came to the foot of the stairs of the hall and dismounted, and everyone shouted at him:
-- Hey, master, think of your disciple!
He came before the emperor and saluted him. [fol. 16c] The emperor does not respond to his salutation but says that God may not help him.
-- Oho, Sire, said master Lantillus [sic], why?
-- I will tell you, goes the emperor. I (had) entrusted you my son to teach and instruct [him]. [For] the first doctrine you made him [learn], you took his speech away; [for] the other one, he wanted to take my wife by force. But may God never grant that you enjoy it, [nor] will you, for as soon as he will be destroyed, you will die after him.
-- Sire, goes master Lantillus, suffer that I reply. [That he wanted] to take your wife by force is hard to believe. But if you want to destroy him thus and without any other reason, then may happen to you what happened to the rich man at the hand of his wi- [fol. 16d] fe.
-- What happened to him? says the emperor.
-- Sire, I will not tell you (it) if you don’t grant your son a delay, for if I tell [you], he will have no profit from it if he were to be destroyed [afterwards].
The emperor ordered that he be brought back. There were many who ran [to get] the boy and he was brought back. Then master Lantillus began his story.
“there was in this city a man who was from a great lineage and had no wife nor any heir who would hold his land after him. So his friends came and told him to take a wife by whom he may have heirs who would hold his land after him. He said that he would take one willingly, that they search [one] for him. They sought him [one]. The man was old and senile, the lady was beautiful and young and had no delight from [fol. 17a] him nor any [love-]sport, and [so it went] until she loved [someone] in the city.
And it was at the time their habit and custom that, if somebody was caught wandering all over Rome after curfew had been sounded, he was, regardless of how important his relatives were, detained until the next morning when the sages had come into the assembly hall. Then he was chased and beaten throughout the city.
And so the rich man’s wife one night felt desire for her friend. It was very overcast that night. She was lying close to her husband and she remembered her agreement [with her friend] very well. The lady feigns and said to her husband that she was sick. And finally she got up from his side and went down the stairs and unlocked the door and found her friend. He began by kissing her and em- [fol. 17b] bracing her, and they did [according to] their wish[es].
But [common] sense and jealousy entered her husband’s heart and he got up and went downstairs as fast as he could and heard them talking together. He was furious and locked the door from his side, then came upstairs to the windows and shouted and said:
- Hey, madam, lady, nothing [you do now] is worth your [effort], for I have heard your lecher with you.
- Hey, Sire, she goes, by God’s mercy, you certainly did not, pace your grace.
- I certainly did, he goes.
- Hey, Sire, for God’s [sake], have pity on me. Curfew is about to sound.
- I would like that for sure, he goes.
- Hey, Sire, I will be dead and destroyed and will be beaten up tomorrow, and all my relatives will be dishonoured.
- Too bad, madam, for him who cares.
There in front [of the house] was a very ancient well.
- Sire, she [fol. 17c] goes, if you don’t open the door for me, I will let myself fall into this well.
- For sure, madam, I would like that a lot.
- By [my] faith, she goes, so you will never see me again.
It was very overcast so that they could not see each other. In front of the house was a big stone. She raised it up to her neck and came to the well.
- Sire, she says, the heart cannot lie, to God be [you] commended!
After [that] she let the stone fall into the well.
- Ah, [by] Saint Mary, now my wife is dead. I only did it in order to punish her and to test her.
She came [around] to the back of the house, and he ran downstairs and opened the door and went to the well, and she went in and locked the door. Meanwhile he called out to his wife and said:
- Beautiful sister, are [fol. 17d] you down there [in the well]?
- Not at all, she says, I am not dead at all. You would like me to be in the well. So now your lechery is apparent and [so is] your badness. I was not beautiful enough for you.
- Ah, beautiful sister, I heard such great grieving from you that I thought you had fallen into the well.
- May God help me, she says, you will not get [back] into the house.
- Ah, beautiful sister, by God’s mercy, the curfew is about to be sounded, and if I am taken, I will be beaten up tomorrow.
- May God help me, she said, I don’t ask for more. At last the good people will know what [kind of] life you lead and have led for a long time.
Then it happened that the curfew sounded and that the sentry came and took him and said to the lady:
- Hey, lady, never before did we hear [people] talk about [fol. 18a] your husband’s vileness.
- So, she goes, you can see now that I have hidden it as much as I could. But now I don’t want to hide it any longer, and you don’t know at all [the kind of] life he has led with me.
- By [our] faith, lady, they go, we will take him away now that the curfew will have been sounded.
- Certainly, she says, that makes me feel good.
Then the curfew stops sounding and they take him and lead him away into the tower as they were sworn to do, and he was there until the next day when he was chased and beaten throughout the city.”
-- Now then, Sire, said Lentillus [sic] to the emperor, the lady deceived her husband nicely. Have you heard this disloyalty and this treason that the lady committed toward her husband? Yours will treat you worse still, if you believe her [reasons] to kill your son.
-- By [fol. 18b] my head, says the emperor, never ever did I hear [people] talk of such a bad, treacherous woman.
-- Sire, so take care, goes Lentillus, that yours will not do to you similarly [in order] to kill your son.
-- She will not, he goes, if it pleases God.
-- May God preserve you from it, Sire, goes the sage.
-- By my head, says the emperor, he will not die today.
Thereupon they let [things] be until it was evening [and] the doors were closed. The emperor came to the empress. She showed him a very ugly mood. The emperor asked her what bothered her.
-- Sire, she goes, I am the saddest creature alive. I will leave in the morning, [may you] know it!
-- You will not, madam, rather you will stay, if it pleases God and you.
-- Sire, I will not, for I [fol. 18c] want to leave with honour rather than stayin shame. And I am a young woman from a great lineage, and you don’t want to believe anything I tell you. And therefore may happen to you what happened to him who delivered his wife to the big king.
-- Madam, by the faith you owe me, who was that? Tell me (it)! It is my opninion that he hardly loved her.
-- Sire, what would my telling [you] be worth? You don’t want to do anything I tell you.
-- Madam, goes the emperor, yes I will.
“there was a king in Puille who was a homosexual. He disdained women above all things. And so it was until he became very ill and bloated, so that all his limbs became indistinguishable inside him until he [fol. 18d] requested a physician, and the latter came and looked at him and saw his urine.
-- Look here, goes the king, if you can cure me, I will give you as much land and wealth as will please you.
-- Sire, goes he, great thanks, and I will cure you very well.
The physician took care of him until he was cured. He gave him barley bread to eat and fountain water to drink until his swelling receded and his limbs [re]appeared. One day he said that a woman would suit him:
-- By God, said the king, I will [indeed] have [my men] look for her.
He called the [chief] officer [of his court] and said to him:
-- Seek me a woman.
-- Ha, sire, goes the officer, I would be unable to find her, for they believe that you are still as bloated as you used to be.
-- Give her beforehand twenty [fol. 19a] marks from my treasury, goes the king.
-- Sire, willingly.
The officer came to his wife and said to her:
-- Madam, you must earn twenty marks.
-- Sir, goes she, how?
-- You will lie, he says, tonight only with the king.
-- Ha, sir, she goes, thank you. For sure, if it pleases God, I won’t.
-- You will so, he says, I order you to.
-- Ha, sir, I will not do it, and if I have to eat dirt.
-- Madam, may loss come to him who does not want to win. [Your refusal] is worth nothing, you have to do it.
-- Sir, she goes, by God, you will do with me as you wish.
When night had come, the officer came to his master in the chamber where one put him to bed. The king said to him:
-- Officer, have you sought the woman whom I mentioned?
-- Sire, yes, but she does not want to be [fol. 19b] seen, because she is a noble woman.
-- By God, [so be it], said the king.
The officer himself put out the candle and had all the sergeants leave the chamber. Then he came to his wife, and she came before the emperor’s [sic] bed. The lady disrobed, then she threw herself next to the king. The officer locked the chamber with them inside. The king lay with the lady until it was close to day[break]. The officer came to the chamber and unlocked it.
-- Are you sleeping, sire? he said to the king.
-- Officer, I am not.
-- Sire, he said, it is necessary that that woman leave, that she not be seen.
-- By my head, goes the king, she will not do that.
-- Sire, I had an agreement with her friends that she would not be recognized.
-- By God, goes the king.
The officer left the cham- [fol. 19c] ber and waited until it was day and prime was sounded. Then he came back into the chamber and said:
-- Madam, madam, get up!
-- By my head, said the king, she will not do that.
The officer could not endure [it] any longer. He now opened the windows and said:
-- Ha, sire, by God, she’s my wife.
The king sat up and looked at the officer and then at the lady. After that he was very sorely enraged and said to the officer:
-- Scoundrel. traitor, why did you bring her to me?
-- For sure, sire, in order to earn the twenty marks.
-- Because of greed you are disgraced, said the king. By my head, if you are found in here when I have risen, I will have your eyes torn out and your body dragged at [the end of] a horse’s tail.
The officer [fol. 19d] fled, and all having been said and done, the king married [the officer’s] wife in his land.
-- Now then, sire, have you not heard what the officer did out of material greed? Look what happened to him: he has for ever lost his wealth and his wife is well married. Similarly you must take care of yourself, for you are greedy to hear those sages’ words and greed will vanquish you so that because of it you will be impoverished and miserable and shameful in the world. About myself I worry not at all, for my friends will maintain me well and richly. May [my story] be appealing to you, for if you are not careful, those who have nothing and are not supposed to have anything will be the masters.
-- By my head, said the [fol. 20a] [emperor], they will not, for I say to you that nothing can protect him from dying tomorrow.
-- For sure, sire, you would be acting wisely.
Thus [things] remained until the next day when the emperor was up and the doors [were] open. The palace filled with the high barons of the land. The emperor called his servants:
-- Go, he said, take my son and torture him for me.
-- Sire, at your command.
They left for the jail and led him before the emperor on top of the [palace] steps and went through the streets of Rome, and all those who saw them took great pity of him.
See here now how his master came whose name was Malcuidarz the Red. He pitied his disciple. The boy bowed before him. The master continued on and ro- [fol. 20b] de until he came to the steps of the hall. He dismounted; many were there to take his horse. He comes before the emperor and salutes him. The emperor does not return his salutation but curses him. The sage answers him:
-- Why do you curse me?
-- Because, he goes, I had given you my son and you have robbed him of his speech, and he wanted to take my wife by force, and for [all] that I have him destroyed.
-- Ha, sire, goes the sage, thank you. If you, without judgment and without the advice of your barons, were to destroy him, then may happen to you what happened to the ancient sage because of his wife.
-- And what happened to him, goes the emperor, tell me, for I would gladly hear the ancient sage’s life, and I would gladly hear how his wife deceived him.
-- Sire, she did not deceive him, for as a sage he protected himself very well against that.
-- Tell me, goes the emperor.
-- Sire, then send [people] get your son.
-- Gladly, goes he.
There were enough [people] who ran [to get him]. He came back. The boy bowed before the emperor and his master, then he was put in the cell. And my lord Maucuidarz began his tale.
there was in this city an old sage of great age who had rich and good land. His friends came to him and said to him to take a wife, and hardly would you ever see an old man take [more] willingly a young wife. He said to them to seek him one. They found him a young and beautiful and blond [woman]. The sage had [already] had two [wives]. He was old and passed his age. [fol. 20d] The lady was with her husband one year and not once did he have sex with her, even if it is that she had inclination for it. [But] at the end of the year she came to the convent [and sat] beside her mother and said to her:
-- Lady [mother], I get no solace from my husband. But know that I want to have sex.
-- Phew, [my] daughter, goes the mother, this you won’t do.
-- Certainly, madam, I will do [so].
-- Do you want to do so according to my advice?
-- Yes, my lady.
-- I advise that you test your husband beforehand.
-- Gladly, mother. And on what?
-- Pretty daughter, [test him] on his tree which is in your garden, which he loves more than all the other trees. Have it cut down, then you will see what he will say to you.
-- If it pleases God, he will not kill me, the daughter says.
So the lady returned to her home and askrd where her husband was. They told her that he had gone to amuse himself on [fol. 21a] his horse in the company of his hunting master and dog trainer. She then called a servant of hers and said to him:
-- Take an axe and come with me.
-- Madam, willingly.
They entered the garden and she said to him:
-- Cut this tree down for me.
-- Ha, madam, he said, I would not dare; that’s my master’s special tree.
-- You will do so anyhow, I order you to.
-- For sure, madam, I will not do so.
The lady takes the axe from his hand and starts to hit [the tree] so much [from] right and left that she cut it down, and he cut it into logs, after [which] she ordered him to [have the tree] carried [away]. While they were carrying it [away], her husband came. He looked at the logs of the tree and the leaves and the branches and was altogether beyond himself and said:
-- Where did you take this branch?
-- For sure, sire, goes the lady, when I just now came [back] from the [fol. 21b] convent, they told me that you had gone for birds by the river; and I knew well that you were sensitive to cold and that there was no log in the house, so I went into this garden and cut down this tree.
-- Madam, said the husband, I think that this is my special tree that you cut down.
-- For sure, sire, I don’t know whether it is.
The husband went out to have a look and found that it was the [special] one that had been cut down, so he returned to his house and said:
-- Ha, madam, you have served me badly, that’s my special tree that you cut down.
-- Ha, sire, goes the lady, truely I was paying no attention to it and I did it because I knew [full] well that you would come [home] all wet and rained on.
-- Madam, for that reason I will leave things for now, inasmuch as you did it for me.
So they let it be until [fol. 21c] the next day when the lady got up and went to the convent and found her mother and greeted her. The mother asked her how it was with her, and she said:
-- Good. I tested my husband.
-- Did you cut the tree down?
-- Yes, for sure.
-- And did he say anything?
-- Sure, he did not greatly pretend to be angry. Really, madam, I want to have sex.
-- You will not do [anything of the sort], let [things] be.
-- For sure. mother, I could not contain myself.
-- So in that case I will tell you what you will do. Test him again.
-- Madam, gladly.
-- I will tell you on what. He has a little dog that he loves more than any living thing. He would not suffer that one of his men move it from beside the fire, nor that anyone except him feed it.
-- I will kill it tonight.
-- I approve it, says the mother.
Then the mother departs from her daughter. [fol. 21d] The [young] lady returned to her house. In the evening the fire was lit and burned brightly. The beds were well appointed with pretty quilts and with pretty rugs. The lady was dressed in an entirely fresh squirrel cape. Now came the husband from hunting. The lady got up toward him and removed his cape, then she went to remove the spurs and committed herself much to serving him. Then she prepares for him a bright red mantle and put it over her husband’s shoulders and prepares a chair for him. The husband sat down, and [so did] in turn the lady on a stool. The dogs lay down all over the beds, and the husband’s little dog lay down on the lady’s cape which was entirely fresh. When she saw that she was very angry. [fol. 22a] Then she saw one of the cattle handlers from plough[ing] who had a knife at his belt. The lady lept forward and took it, then with it struck the little dog through the entrails and killed it, so that the cape and the room were all bloodied from it. The husband looked at this marvel and said:
-- How, madam, were you so daring that you dared kill my little dog in front of me?
-- How, sire? So you don’t see every day how they turn our beds upside down? Never will two days go by without it being necessary to do a washing because of your dogs. By God’s death, I will strike them with my hands if they lie down on my beds this way. Now look at my cape that I had just put on, [how] it has been mistreated. [fol. 22b] Do you believe that I’m not sad because of it?
The husband replies:
-- Certainly, madam, you have served me badly, I hold it against you. But for now I will leave it be, this time, [and] I will speak of it no more.
-- By [my] faith, sire, goes the lady, you will do with me at your pleasure, for I am entirely yours. And know that I repent much for what I have done.
Then she started to cry very hard and says:
-- For sure, it weighs much on me, for I know [full] well that you loved it much.
When the husband saw her crying, he let [things] be. The next day it happened that the lady came to her mother [in] the convent. The mother, when she saw her, greeted her and [the daughter greeted her mother], then [the mother] reasoned with her and said to her:
-- Pretty daughter, how have things been for you?
-- Madam, good, [fol. 22c] but I tell you that I want to have sex.
-- Ha, pretty daughter, so you will not be able to retain yourself?
-- For sure, pretty mother, no.
-- Pretty sweet daughter, I have all my life stood by your father, so that I never committed foolishness nor had any inclination for it.
-- Madam, it is not so with me as it was with you, for my father was a young man, and you [were] a young girl when he took you, so you enjoyed one another. But I have no joy nor any distraction from mine [husband], so I must chase after [them].
-- And with whom will you have an affair, pretty daughter?
-- I will tell you who has asked me: the priest of this town. I won’t love a knight, for he would gab about me and boast about it and ask me to commit to my promises, and I would be ashamed of it.
-- On we go, pretty daughter, [fol. 22d] do once again [according to] my advice, for you will never see worse vengeance than [that] of an old man.
--Madam, gladly will I carry out your advice.
-- Pretty daughter, test him again, and I will tell you on what. Tomorrow will be Thursday and Christmas Eve; so your husband will hold his Christmas [festivities] and will hold great court, for all the valiant men of this town will be there, and you will be at the head of the table. And when the first dish will be sitting [on the table], you will hurl your keys into the fringes of the tablecloth, then you will get up and will pull everything behind you. This way you will have testes your husband three times.
-- Madam, you speak well, and I will do so.
She then left and came to her house, and [stayed there] until Christmas Day came. [fol. 23a] The vassals of the town had come and plenty of others. The tables were set and the tablecloths and the salt shakers and the knives, and they sat down. The lady sat down at the head of the table. The servants brought the first dishes and the spices with them on the table. While the servers began to slice [the meat], the lady entangles her keys in the fringes of the tablecloth, then gets up and makes a big step forward, and the dishes spilled [all] over the tablecloth. The husband was very angry, and the lady pulls her keys, which were entangled in the tablecloth, toward her.
-- Madam, said the husband, you have acted badly.
-- By [my] faith, says the lady, I can’t [take it] anymore. I was [simply] going to fetch your good knife which was not [fol. 23b] on the table, and that weighed on me.
-- Well, madam, by God, bring us another tablecloth!
Then another one was brought and they ate happily. The husband did not show that he was angry. When they had eaten and the tablecloths were removed, the husband honoured them much and they left. Thr husband suffered this night [to go by] until the next day when the husband came to the lady and said to her:
-- Madam, madam, you have set me three bad traps. If I can, you will not set me the fourth. Bad blood makes you do this, you must be bled!
Now he gave orders to the head servant and had the fire made. When the lady saw such a great fire being made, she asked her husband [fol. 23c] what he wanted to do.
-- Madam, he goes, I want to have you bloodlet.
-- Ha, sire, goes she, I have never been bled in my life.
-- It is necessary, goes the husband, to do it, for bad blood has made you set the bad traps you have set me.
Right then, whether she wanted or not, he had her bare the right arm and had it heated by the fire. The bloodletter struck her, and the blood gushed forth with great force. A [mixture of] mucus and mud came out, so much so that [in the end] the red blood came out. Then he had the arm bandaged up and [had] the other arm stretched forth out of the dress. The lady began to scream, but it did not help her in the least. He had the arm heated, and the bloodletter struck into it. The same [matter] came out of this arm as [fol. 23d] [had come out] of the other, so much so that the red blood came out of it. When the sage [sic] saw the red blood, he had her bandaged up, then had her carried into a bed in her room. She began to scream and to wail. The lady asked for her mother and she came. When she saw her mother, she said to her:
-- My lady, I’m dead.
-- How[’s that], pretty daughter?
-- Madam, he had me bled.
-- Now then, pretty daughter, do you feel like having sex?
-- For sure, madam, not I.
-- Daughter [mine], I told you so exactly: you will never see such cruel vengeance as from an old man.
-- For sure, madam, I will never again have sex.
-- By [my] faith, daughter, you will act wisely.
-- Sire emperor, goes master Malcuidarz the Red, so was this [man] not wise? His wife set him three traps [that were] ug- [fol. 24a] ly. The fourth one was nastier still, for she would have loved the priest of the town. As much I’m telling you about your wife. She wants to set you a nasty trap, [she] who wants you to kill your son. Look now how the old wise man avenged himself well.
-- Certainly, said the emperor, [that] he truly did.
-- Sire, therefore do not believe your wife with respect to whatever she will tell you.
-- By my head, says the emperor, I won’t.
Then they let the words [be]. It was night, the doors of the palace were closed. The emperor came to the empress who was very angry and irritated. The emperor asked her:
-- Madam, what have you?
-- What, sire, I have plenty of what, sire, [plenty] of [the fact] that you have en- [fol. 24b] tered [the realm of] such bad covetousness [that you] listen to treasonous and false words. So it was no wonder at all that Cras[s]us coveted gold and silver, nor that he died of such covetousness.
-- How, says the emperor, did he die of it?
-- Yes, truly.
-- So tell me, [by the] faith that you owe me.
-- Sire, what I tell you, what is it worth? For you remember nor hear nothing of it.
-- Madam, for sure I will hear it perfectly, so speak.
there was in this city a learned man whose name was Virgil, and he was a very good man learned in all [of] the seven arts. He knew a lot of magic, and through magic did he make in this city a fire that burned every day. And those poor women, who had those little children, when they [fol. 24c] could not enter where those rich men [live] in those high houses, who sleep until nine o’clock, they warmed themselves by this fire and took hot water to bathe their children. Next to this fire there was a man cast in copper, who held a bow and was aiming to shoot. On the forehead of this man there were letters written which said: Whoever will strike me, I will shoot. In this city there was [also] a learned man from Lombardy, a noble and rich man, and he was at school. This learned man came to see the fire and looked at it and saw the letters that [the copper statue] had written on its forehead and understood them and knew that there was written: Whoever will strike me, I will shoot. So he said to his companions:
-- Shall I strike him?
-- Sire, yes, if it pleases you.
He now [fol. 24d] struck him, and he shoots into the fire and extinguishes it immediately.
-- Sire, goes the empress, did he not commit a sin?
-- Certainly, madam, yes.
-- Indeed, goes she, for those poor women from all over the city took [their] fire there.
-- It’s true.
-- Sire, [Virgil] did still more. For
at one of the gates of Rome he made a man cast in copper [who] held a ball in his hand, and at one of the other gates he made a similar one, and one threw the ball to the other on Saturday night.
-- That he did?
-- Sire, he did still more. For
he made through magic a mirror on a huge marble column by which those of this city saw those who wanted to come to Rome in order to do [it] harm, and as soon as they saw that some territory wanted to rise up against Rome, they sent orders to the communities of the cities [fol. 25a] in the area, so that they armed themselves [and] then went into that territory and distroyed it. [This went on] until the king of Puille was furious about it and assembled all the wise men of his land and asked them what he should do about Rome which was thus doing harm to his land, and what was their thinking and should he make truce with Rome. There were two young men there who were brothers. One of them got up and spoke to the king and said to him:
-- By [my] faith, sire, if you were willing to give us of your [riches], we would fell the mirror of Rome.
-- By [my] faith, said the king, I will give you whatever you demand (for what [else] could I have it?), whether you want towns, whether you want castles, whether you want land.
-- We will put ourselves in your household.
-- Great thanks, goes the king.
The first-born [of the two] said:
-- Sire, now have two baskets filled with gold for us.
-- Gladly, says the king.
Filled they were. He had them put on a sturdy cart with two horses, then they took to the(ir) road all the way to Rome. At that time Crassus was emperor of Rome, who was very covetous. They came so late to Rome that they took care [to watch] that nobody came out of the city. By one of the gates they buried one of the baskets and by the second [gate they buried] the other one, and then they found lodging in the city and spent lots of money. In the morning, when the emperor was up, they came to the palace and greeted him and said to him:
-- Sire, we are diviners and finders of treasures, so we have come to [fol. 25c] you, for we know [full] well that in your realm there are lots of them.
-- May you be welcome, said the emperor, and you will stay with me.
-- Sire, gladly, but we shall want one half of what we will find, and you [keep] the other.
-- By [my] faith, said the emperor, I agree. I can never have anything if not through you.
-- Sire, says the first-born, I will dream tonight and tomorrow I will tell you what I dreamt.
-- I grant it, says the emperor.
They left for their lodgings and were much at ease that night. And when it came to the next day, they came to the emperor and the first-born said to him:
-- Sire, I dreamt.
-- So tell [me] what [you dreamt], said the emperor.
-- Sire, I dreamt [of] a small treasure at the gate toward Puille.
-- Let’s go there, said the empe- [fol. 25d] ror.
-- By [my] faith, sire, gladly.
The emperor came there with a great company of people [who were] with him. He brought miners, and they began to dig where the diviner said. When they had dug, they found one of the baskets that [the brothers] had put there. The emperor had it pulled out, and then it was divided so that the emperor had one half of it, and the brothers the other. The emperor was overjoyed and coveted it much. The other [brother] said that he would dream [also]. He found his basket as well. The emperor congratulated himself for [having employed] them:
-- By [my] faith, gentlemen, he said, now I truly know that you are for real.
-- Certainly, sire, That’s nothing. We have dreamt [of] one of [those treasures] under that mirror [that is] so big that all the horses which are at your court could hardly pull it [out].
-- Certainly, says the emperor, this I would not want at any price: that I cause the mirror to be felled, for we see in it all those who want to do harm to this city.
Those replied to him:
-- Sire, do not worry that it may fall, for we will save it very well.
-- By God, said the emperor, so be there in the morning.
-- Sire, gladly.
They took leave and went to their lodgings. When it came to the [next] morning, they came to the mirror and began to dig until the foot of the mirror was completely dug up, until it held only a little bit. When it came to the night, they left and so did the workmen. When it was midnight, they brought fire and put it [fol. 26b] at the foundation, then they sealed it up [all] around. It burned inside. And when they saw that the fire had well taken, they went on their way. They had not gone [a] great [distance] when the mirror fell and the marble columns broke into pieces. They saw it fall beautifully, so they went on being very joyful. In the morning, when the high barons of Rome and from nearby there assembled to see the mirror, they looked and saw that it had fallen [over] because of the emperor’s covetousness. The emperor came and was very angry [because] of this misadventure. He had [his men] look for the diviners, but they could not be found. He felt deceived and was very much afraid. The high-ranking men of the land ask- [fol. 26c] ed him why he had done this. He did not know what to answer them, except that [he had done it] out of greed for gold. Now they took him and put a restraining device on his stomach because of the great scorn they had about the great loss they had suffered, then they took molten gold and poured it down his mouth and into his eyes and into his ears, and then they said to him:
-- Gold you wanted, gold you coveted, gold you shall have and gold you will lose and by gold you will die.
-- Sire, says the empress to the emperor, so now this one is dead to his great shame and because of greed.
-- True it is, says the emperor.
-- Sire, now you can truly know that you as well will die.
-- Alas, [my] lady, says the emperor, what are you saying?
-- Sire, I am telling you the truth. Is it not entirely clear that you a- [fol. 26d] re so greedy to hear and remember the words of those sages that you will lose [your] honour because of it and will die shamefully? You will well die shamefully when you will lose the crown of your life for [the sake of] a scoundrel whom you have reared, whom you call son. Woe on a son who seeks his father’s ruin.
-- Madam, said the emperor, don’t be angry now, because by the faith I owe you, he will not disinherit me, for he will die in the morning.
-- Well. sire, may it not grieve you: I don’t believe you.
-- Madam, he will, know it [for sure].
-- Sire, may God give you good courage for it.
Then they let [things] be until the next day when it was light. The emperor got up. The doors were opened and the noblemen were assembled in the palace. [fol. 27a] The emperor called his servants and said to them:
-- Take my son and destroy him.
-- Sire, willingly.
They dragged him out of the jail and led him so swiftly up into the palace before the emperor that they did not even let him bow before his father. They rushed down the steps and entered into the street. All tthose who saw him took great pity of him. At this point came his master whose name was Caton, he who wrote the book because of which children go to school and are taught. His disciple bowed toward him when he came before him. [Caton] had a very great [feeling of] pity about their leading him away in this manner; he travelled onward a very good distance and got off [his horse] at the foot of the stairs of the hall. There were more than enough people to take his horse. He ascended up [fol. 27b] the steps until he came before the emperor and saluted him. And the emperor spoke to him of shame and wickedness and threatened him and said:
-- I had given my son over to you to be taught and you have taken away his speech, and my wife he wanted to take by force.
-- Sire, Caton says, [concerning] his speech I don’t say that he has lost it, for if it were that he has lost it, little thanks should you owe us for it. But as to your wife whom he wanted to take by force, as she tells you, she has nothing, and if you destroy your son because of that, then may happen to you what happened to the burgher with his magpie.
-- And what happened to him, says the emperor, and his magpie?
-- By [my] faith, says Caton, my words would be worth nothing if your son were to be killed. But make him [enjoy] some respite and I will tell you the tale.
-- I will grant him [fol. 27c] a respite until you have spoken, goes the emperor.
-- Sire, so send for him.
Messengers hurried out to bring the young man back. He came before the emperor and before his master and bowed toward them and then was led into the jail. Then master Caton began his tale.
-- Sire, said Caton,
in this city there was a burgher who had a magpie
which spoke the Roman language very well. And when the burgher
came from outside, the magpie told him whatever it knew and [had] heard and
seen. And it often happened that the magpie told the man the truth. When the wife’s friend
had been with her, he believed [his magpie] entirely. Until the gentleman
had gone away on business and did not return that [fol. 27d] night. The
lady asked her friend [to come]. The magpie was high up in a cage [which
was] attached to a pole. The friend came up to the house and did not dare
enter because of the magpie. He asked the lady [to come]. She came to him.
He said to her:
-- [My] lady, I don’t dare enter because of the magpie, because [I can’t be sure] that it will not tell your husband.
-- Come [in, it’s] safe, she goes, for a way [out of this] I will well think of.
-- [My] lady, he goes, willingly.
He passed through and entered the [bed]room. The magpie looked at him and recognized him, for he had done it nasty tricks many times. So it said:
-- Ha, sire who are reposing in [my lady’s] room, why do you not come here when my master is here?
Then it fell silent and the lady thought of a grand stratagem. When night had fallen, she took her chambermaid and gave her a big pot full of water and a cand- [fol. 28a] le brightly burning and a hammer [made] of wood. When it came toward midnight, she made her climb up on the house right above the spot where the magpie was, and she began to hit hard on the shingles. When she had hit enough, she took the candle and thrust it between two shingles, which gave the magpie light[ning] into the face. After [that] she took the water and poured it on the magpie. That kind of life she made it lead until day[light]. When day had broken, she descended with the hammer in one hand and the candle in the other, and the lady’s friend left.
Hardly [any time] remained after that before the master [of the house] came [back]. He came right straight to his magpie, greeted it and asked it:
-- Friend, how is it with you? Did you eat today?
-- Sire, says the magpie, my lady’s friend was last night all [fol. 28b] long in here and lay with her. He left only a little while ago. I saw him go through here.
The master looked at the lady with a felon’s eyes. Then he turned toward his magpie and said to it:
-- Certainly, [my] beautiful, very sweet friend, I fully believe you in this matter.
-- Sire, goes the magpie, last night it thundered and rained all night and lightning came to me from all directions right into [my] eyes, and but for a little I [could have] died last night.
The master looked at the lady and she at him.
-- By [my] faith, goes the master, last night there was a very beautiful and very clear night.
-- For sure, sire, goes the lady, in my opinion one of the clear[est] of this year.
The master asked his neighbours and they told him the same thing. The lady saw [as] her [advantage] point that she could speak up, and she said to her husband, within earshot of his neighbours:
-- Now then, gentlemen, now [fol. 28c] you can hear for what my husband has always blamed and hit me, [he] who believed his magpie about anything it told him. Now it has told him that my friend had last night laid with me all night. For sure it lied as [it lied] about the weather.
The husband was furious that his magpie had lied to him about the weather, similarly he thought that it had lied about his wife. So he came to his magpie and said to it:
-- By my head, you will never lie to me [again].
Then he took it and broke its neck. When he had done this, he was so astonished that he did not know what to say. Then he dismounted the cage where the magpie was and saw the undone shingles. Then he took a ladder and climbed on top of the house and saw the pot that the chambermaid had left there, and saw the wax [that had] dripped on [fol. 28d] the shingles and that the roof was undone, and he saw the large hole through which she had thrust the burning candle. Then he realized the treason that his wife had done him and began to mourn terribly and said:
-- Ha, poor miserable [creature that I am], why did I believe my wife?
Then he chased his wife out of his house.
So, sire, goes master Caton, if he had informed himself beforehand, he would not have killed his magpie. Now he repents and is in mourning. Now he has chased his wife away because upon her advice he had killed his magpie. In exactly similar fashion I see and hear that the empress is working on how to destroy your son, and if you believe her in this without believing other advice, then may happen to you the same that happened to the burgher [because] of his magpie.
-- By my head, [fol. 29a] said the emperor, nothing similar will happen to me.
-- Sire, goes Caton, you will do the right thing. One must not kill one’s child because of what its stepmother says.
Thereupon they let [things] be until evening when the doors were closed. The emperor came to the empress. She made a bad expression toward him. The emperor, who loved her much, looked at her and said to her:
-- [My] lady, what is the matter, tell me.
-- For sure, sire, I will leave [tomorrow] morning for my friends and my family, for I am of high lineage.
-- [My] lady, why? Tell me.
-- By [my] faith, sire, I know [full] well that you will be destroyed eventually, for you do not want to believe any advice. And therefore may possibly happen to you the same [fate] that happened to king Herod who [fol. 29b] so much held in contempt the saying of his wife to the advantage of the advice of the seven sages that he lost his sight over it.
-- His sight? said the emperor, how? This I would dearly like to hear.
-- Why would I tell it to you? You would do nothing about it.
-- By my head, [my] lady, you will tell it.
-- Willingly, sire, since it pleases you.
there was in this city an emperor [sic] whose name was Herod, and he had seven sages such as there still are. But they had put forth in this city such a custom that whoever had a dream, he came to the seven sages and brought them a gold coin and they told him his dream and explained to him what he had dreamed and what according to it could happen. And they had so much gold and possessions that they [fol. 29c] surmounted the emperor in riches. The emperor had such an illness that, when he wanted to ride outside of Rome, he went blind and could not go outside [the city]. Until one day he called the seven sages and said to them:
-- Sires, tell me what I will ask you.
-- Why, he said, do my eyes go blind when I must go outside this city?
-- Sire, the sages say, to this we do not know how to reply to you without a delay.
-- Must there be a delay? says the emperor.
-- By [our] faith, sire, yes.
-- And I give it to you: up to eight days.
-- Sire. that would be little, [give us] rather up to fifteen.
-- By God, [so be it], said the emperor.
Thereupon they leave. They do not want to let [fol. 29d] a long time [go by since] the emperor’s request; rather they sought advice from several people until one told them that a child was in the land, who had had no father, [and] who gave explanations for whatever one asked of him. They went forth outside Rome and came to the area where [the child’s presence] had been indicated to them, and they eventually found him in a town where he was mingled amidst his companions who reproached him that he was born without a father. The sages stopped there and asked who he was and what his name was. Those [companions] replied that his name was Mellin. There came now to the sages a man who was disturbed by a dream he had dreamed, and he held a gold coin [fol. 30a] in his hand. Mellin came toward him and said to him:
-- I know perfectly where you are going and what you are asking and what you are bringing.
The sages listened to him.
-- You dreamed, said Mellin, a dream because of which you are disturbed, and therefore you are going to Rome to the sages and are bringing them a coin. I will tell you [the dream], and you will take your coin [back]. You dreamed that in the centre of your house there is a fountain and that all those of your household were served and watered by it. The fountain signifies a great treasure which is underneath your house. Go and have it dug up and from it you and your entire family will be rich, if it is not taken away from you.
The man returned to his house and the sages and servants [as well]. The man asked for workers and had [them] dig until they found the treasure and pulled it [fol. 30b] up. There was a lot of it, a great plenty. The sages took as much as they wanted and offered some to the child, but he had no desire for it. The sages left and took the child with them. When they were outside the town they asked him whether he would be able to tell the emperor why his eyesight gave him trouble whenever he wanted to leave Rome. Mellin said:
-- Yes, [very] well.
So they took him to Rome before the emperor on the day that had been set for the response. One of them spoke up and said:
-- Sire, we have come on our day to respond why your eyesight gives you trouble whenever you want to go outside Rome.
-- That’s true, says the emperor.
-- Sire, we have brought a child who will respond for us.
-- Do you take [fol. 30c] upon you what he will say?
-- Sire, yes.
-- So speak, I will hear it willingly.
-- Sire, goes Mellin, lead me to a room and there I will speak to you.
-- Willingly, says the emperor.
So he led him into his room and Mellin began to say to him:
-- Sire, listen to me. Under your bed there is a cauldron which bubbles in great waves, and there are seven bubbles and as long as the seven bubbles last and as long as that cauldron is there, you cannot go outside Rome, [whatever] road or path you may know. And if you take out the cauldron without extinguishing the bubbles, you [will] have lost your eyesight forever.
-- By [my] faith, handsome, gentle friend, goes the emperor, you must advise me in this matter.
-- Sire, willingly. Have the bed taken [fol. 30d] out and have [your men] dig.
The emperor had the bed taken out. Afterward he had [his men] dig until the cauldron was found. The sages were there and several people who saw it. The emperor spoke to the child and said:
-- Young man, he goes, now I know perfectly that you are wise. So from now on I want to act according to your advice.
-- Sire, he says, great thanks. Have all these people draw back and go out from in here. Now they went away, then Mellin said to him:
-- Sire, do you see these seven bubbles? This signifies these seven devils that you have every day at your council.
-- Ha, [my] God, says the emperor, will I be able to remove them from around me?
-- Certainly, yes, easily, says Mellin.
-- Can I see them and hear and touch [them]?
-- Sire, yes.
-- And who are they, handsome [fol. 31a] gentle friend? Tell me it.
-- Sire, willingly. By [my] faith, they are those seven sages that you have around you. They are of your land richer than you are, and they are used to a bad custom because of which the land is lost and they are rich because of it. For if a man, be he a knight or a burgher, dreams a dream, it is absolutely necessary that he come to the sages and bring a coin and give it to them in order [for them] to explain his dream. And if they did it any other way, they would believe that they are shamed. Thus the sages have given the people to understand. And because you have suffered this bad custom, your eyesight gives you trouble when you go outside this city. So, take the oldest of the sages and have his head cut off, and the [fol. 31b] largest of the bubbles will be extinguished.
-- By [my] faith, said the emperor, I will do it.
Now he had the oldest brought forth with the help of many people and had his head cut off, and immediately the biggest bubble was extinguished. The emperor went to have a look at the cauldron and found the big bubble extinguished.
-- By my head, he goes, from now on forward, Mellin, I will believe you [and] what you will tell me.
Then he had the head[s] of all the sages cut off and the entire cauldron was extinguished and became totally cold.
-- By [my] faith, sire, goes Mellin, now you can remove the cauldron, and you [can] wash your hands in it and your whole body.
-- Willingly, says the emperor.
The emperor did as Mellin commanded him. When the cauldron was removed and the [fol. 31c] filled in and the bed was made again as it used to be, Mellin said:
-- Sire, now you can mount and ride [off].
-- By my head, says the emperor, that I will do. But you will ride with me.
-- Sire, said Mellin, willingly.
The saddles were put on. The emperor and Mellin mounted, and the barons and the burghers of the land mounted afterward in order to see the great marvel. It had well been five years that the emperor had not gone outside Rome. When [the moment] came to pass through the gate, Mellin was beside him and said to him:
-- Sire, you will go ahead.
Then [the emperor] struck the horse with the spurs and passed [through] the gate and his eyesight gave him no trouble. When the emperor saw this, he [felt] very great joy. Then he took [fol. 31d] Mellin and began to kiss and hug [him] and kept him with him. And all the others made him a great feast when they saw that the emperor had regained his eyesight as he used to.
-- Sire, have you heard this adventure that happened to Herod from his seven sages who had blinded him with their trickery and with their treachery and [who could have destroyed him] because he believed them too much? And if you believe [that] your sages [want to] destroy you and take the empire from you, [then] may happen to you what happened to Herod.
-- Thus it will not happen with me, for I will not believe them, so much so that I [am ready to] lose [my] land and become blind.
The empress replies:
-- May God preserve you from it.
Then they spent that night until it came to the morning when the emperor got up and [32a] the empress [too]. The doors were opened. The emperor ordered that one lead his son to be destroyed. Then there came the other sage whose name was Jesse, and at the step [leading to] the hall he got off his horse; there were many [people] who held it. Then he went up and saluted the emperor and the other noblemen. After that he said to the emperor:
-- Sire, I marvel much at you who are a wise man, that you want to destroy your son because of what a woman is saying [and] without [any other] judgment. Mark my word, you are committing the greatest marvel that ever a great man like you committed, and mark my word, you are because of it much blamed by your barons and other people when you believe the empress so much. Mark my word, she does not like [32b] your honour nor your wealth when she thus wants to destroy and kill your son. So I pray to God that may happen to you what happened to a viscount who once was [and] who died because he had injured his wife a little on her thumb with a knife.
-- How was that, handsome sire? Tell me [as a sign of our] friendship.
-- Sire, I will tell you willingly, but the child must [first] be respited from death.
-- Friend, says the emperor, so shall he, for that
tale I want to hear and
Then he said to his seargents:-- Bring me back my son.