[Footnote 1: For this perplexing matter the curious may consult Paul Verville’s Notice sur la vie de Nicolas de Caen, p. 93 et seq. The indebtedness to Antoine Riczi is, of course, conceded by Nicolas in his “EPILOGUE.”]
[Footnote 2: She was the daughter of King Ferdinand of Leon and Castile, whose conversion to sainthood the inquisitive may find recorded elsewhere.]
[Footnote 3: Not without indulgence in anachronism. But Nicolas, be it repeated, was no Gradgrindian.]
[Footnote 4: Nicolas gives this ballad in full, but, for obvious reasons, his translator would prefer to do otherwise.]
THE STORY OF THE HOUSEWIFE
“Selh que m blasma vostr’
amor ni m defen
Non podon far en re mon cor mellor,
Ni’l dous dezir qu’ieu ai de vos major,
Ni l’enveya’ ni’l dezir, ni’l talen.”
THE FIFTH NOVEL.—PHILIPPA OF HAINAULT DARES TO LOVE UNTHRIFTILY, AND WITH THE PRODIGALITY OF HER AFFECTION SHAMES TREACHERY, AND COMMON-SENSE, AND HIGH ROMANCE, QUITE STOLIDLY; BUT, AS LOVING GOES, IS OVERTOPPED BY HER MORE STOLID SQUIRE.
The Story of the Housewife
In the year of grace 1326, upon Walburga’s Eve, some three hours after sunset (thus Nicolas begins), had you visited a certain garden on the outskirts of Valenciennes, you might there have stumbled upon a big, handsome boy, prone on the turf, where by turns he groaned and vented himself in sullen curses. His profanity had its palliation. Heir to England though he was, you must know that this boy’s father in the flesh had hounded him from England, as more recently had the lad’s uncle Charles the Handsome driven him from France. Now had this boy and his mother (the same Queen Ysabeau about whom I have told you in the preceding tale) come as suppliants to the court of that stalwart nobleman Sire William (Count of Hainault, Holland, and Zealand, and Lord of Friesland), where their arrival had evoked the suggestion that they depart at their earliest convenience. To-morrow, then, these footsore royalties, the Queen of England and the Prince of Wales, would be thrust out-of-doors to resume the weary beggarship, to knock again upon the obdurate gates of this unsympathizing king or that deaf emperor.
Accordingly the boy aspersed his destiny. At hand a nightingale carolled as though an exiled prince were the blithest spectacle the moon knew.
There came through the garden a tall girl, running, stumbling in her haste. “Hail, King of England!” she said.
“Do not mock me, Philippa!” the boy half-sobbed. Sulkily he rose to his feet.