In the time of the Holy War when Christians from all parts went into the Holy Land to oppose the Turks; Amongst these there was a certain English Knight, who had passed divers Campaigns, to the Advantage of the Christians; Detriment to the Turks, and Honour to himself; at last, being weary of the War, he return'd home, loaden with Services done his King, Country and Relations: He retired into his own Country, to his paternal Estate, and by way of Thanksgiving to Heaven, he erected a Religious House just by his own Habitation, that he might frequently join with them in their holy Offices: He married a fine young Lady, in order to establish his Family. Thus this pious good Knight liv'd in Tranquillity of Mind and Fortune till things took another turn.
There were two young Gentlemen, who out of a Design of Piety, and the Contempt of the World, placed themselves in this holy Retreat, in order to become Votaries in this Confraternity: But as Temptations pursue us in all Stations, so here it happened, that one of these Gentlemen, during the time of his Probation, cast an amorous Eye on this Lady, the good Knight's Spouse. How far he endeavour'd to overcome or indulge this guilty Flame, is unknown; but he grew daily more and more passionatly in love; which he durst not discover any way but by obsequious Bows when he happened in her Presence, or to pass by her, or the like; which the Lady return'd with a gracious Mien and Smiling Countenance, being in her nature courteous and affable. But as we are always ready to flatter our selves, so did our Lover, and took the Lady's Courtesie for Kindness, and her smiling Looks for interiour Affection. This he revolv'd in his Thoughts from time to time, and Fancy upon Fancy augmented his Passion. At last, he took the boldness to write her a very amorous Letter; at which the Lady was greatly astonish'd and provok'd, and in her Anger shew'd it to her Husband. The good Knight laughed at the Man's Folly, and advised his Lady to seem easie, and not discourage her Lover, till such time as he should contrive his Punishment.
The good Knight did not tell his Superiour his Fault, thinking that would be a continual Disgrace and Blot upon our young Probationer, and likewise a sort of Disgrace to himself and his Lady, that any one should dare to have a Thought so audacious, much more to have the Impudence to own it. Wherefore he resolved to mortifie our young Lover himself with a good dry Basting: so he consulted with his Lady, and engaged her to write a kind Letter to him, and invite him to come to her such a Night, forasmuch as the Knight her Husband would then be from home. This Letter greatly transported our Lover: He wash'd, bath'd, perfum'd himself, and got him fine Linen; and thus equipp'd, he came late in the Night, when all were in bed, and quiet, only one Servant to let him in; who conducted him into the Parlour to the Knight his Master, instead of the Lady's Bed−chamber. Here the Knight shew'd him his Crime, in that vile Letter he had written to his Wife, and forthwith began his Punishment with a good Cudgel, intending no farther Mischief: But how it hapned, is unknown; whether the Knight's Wrath rose to an Extremity, or an unlucky Chance−Blow; but so it was, the Lover was kill'd in the Rencounter.
This put the Knight into a great Consternation, not knowing what to do. The Knight's Servant, persuaded him to lend him his Help, to get the dead Body over the Wall of the Convent into their Garden, which joined to the Knight's House, supposing that when the Religious should come in the Morning, and find him there, they would conclude, some sudden Sickness had seized him in that place.
Now, there was one in the Confraternity, who was always at variance with this Robert, which was kill'd, (the other's Name was Richard.) It hapned, that Richard had occasion to rise in the Night, and come to the Little House, and there found Robert placed as aforesaid, Richard not thinking any thing, attended a while; then began to call, and bid him come away; but the dead Man not answering, the other thought he mock'd him: At last, being enrag'd at such behaviour, Richard took up a Stone, and threw at him, which hit him in such a manner, that he fell down off the Seat. Richard finding that he was really dead, believed that it was that Stone had done the Execution. This put him into a great Consternation, being assured that it would pass for Wilful Murther, by reason of that Variance in which they used to live. So casting in his mind what to do, he at length resolved to get the Body over the Wall into the Knight's Court, which accordingly he did, and went and placed it in the Porch of the Knight's House, where he left it.
Now, let us return to the Knight: He and his Man were extreamly uneasie at what had hapned, and by peep of Day open'd the Door, in order to go and listen at the Wall of the Convent, thinking to hear something of the dead Body; but, to their surprize, they found it sitting in their own Porch, at first not knowing what to think, whether it was the real Body, or a Spirit; but on Examination, they found it was the Body; and what to do with it they did not know: At last they thought on the following Expedient:
There was in the Stable, a Horse that had served his Master in the War: They saddled this Horse, with his war−like Accoutrements, and fastened the dead Body on him, with a Spear in his hand, and so turn'd the Horse out of the Stable, to run where he would.
Whilst this was in hand, Richard, who was in great perplexity what to do on this occasion, believing himself guilty of the Death of Robert, and so liable to the Punishment if discover'd resolv'd to get away; Thereupon he went to the Miller, that belong'd to the Convent, and told him in the Name of the Superiour, that he must let him have his Mare to go out this Morning on earnest Business for the Confraternity. Thus getting the Miller's Mare, away he rid; but was not got far e'er he came within view of the dead Robert, whose Horse ran neighing after the Mare Richard thinking this to be the Ghost of Robert, which pursued him for his Murder, cry'd out, O Robert,forgive me! I did not Murder you designedly; O forgive me, good Robert; But if nothing will appease thy Ghost but my Blood, I am ready to resign my Life to the Stroke of Justice.
By this time the Morning was come fully on, and People being up about their business, seeing this Confusion, seiz'd Richard, who stedfastly own'd the Murder of Robert, for which he was carried away to Prison; and would, no doubt, have been executed as the Murderer of Robert; But the good Knight hasted away to the King, and laid the whole Transaction before his Majesty. The King graciously pardoned the Knight; Richard was kindly receiv'd into his Convent, and all things went on in good order: But from hence came the Proverb,
We must not strike Robert for Richard./
By this time Galecia's Maid brought up her Supper; after which she cast her Eyes again on the foresaid little Book, where she found the following Story, which she read through before she went to bed.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48