The Heptameron, by Marguerite de Navarre

Eighth Day.

On the Eighth Day relation is made of the greatest yet truest folliesthat each can remember.

Prologue.

When morning was come they inquired whether their bridge 1 were being well advanced, and found that it might be finished in two or three days. These were not welcome tidings to some among the company, for they would gladly have had the work last a longer time, so as to prolong the happiness that they enjoyed in this pleasant mode of life. Finding, however, that only two or three such days were left, they resolved to turn them to account, and begged the Lady Oisille to give them their spiritual nourishment as had been her wont. This she forthwith did, but she detained them longer than usual, for before setting forth she desired to finish reading the canonical writings of St. John; and so well did she acquit herself of this, that it seemed as if the Holy Spirit in all His love and sweetness spoke by her mouth. Glowing with this heavenly flame, they went to hear high mass, and afterwards dined together, again speaking of the past day, and doubting whether they could make another as fair.

In order to set about it, they retired to their own rooms until it was time to repair to their Chamber of Accounts on the Board of Green Grass, where they found the monks already arrived and in their places.

When all were seated, the question was put, who should begin; and Saffredent said —

“You did me the honour to have me begin on two days. Methinks we should act wrongly towards the ladies if one of them did not also begin on two.”

“It were then needful,” said the Lady Oisille, “either that we should continue here for a great while, or else that a gentleman and a lady of the company should forego the beginning of a day.”

“For my part,” said Dagoucin, “had I been chosen, I would have given my place to Saffredent.”

“And I,” said Nomerfide, “to Parlamente, for I have been so wont to serve that I know not how to command.”

To this all agreed, and Parlamente thus began —

“Ladies, the days that are past have been filled with so many tales of wisdom, that I would beg you to fill this one with the greatest (yet most real) follies that we can remember. So, to lead the way, I will begin.”

1 The allusion is to the bridge over the Gave spoken of in the General Prologue (ante, vol. i. p. 25-6). — M.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:09