The Heptameron, by Marguerite de Navarre

Fifth Day.

On the Fifth Day Tales are told of the virtue of those maids and matrons who held their honour in more consideration than their pleasure, also of those who did the contrary, and of the simplicity of certain others.


When morning was come, the Lady Oisille made ready for them a spiritual breakfast of such excellent flavour that it sufficed to strengthen both body and mind. The whole company was very attentive to it; it seemed to them that they had never harkened to a sermon with such profit before. Then, when the last bell rang for mass, they went to meditate upon the pious discourse which they had heard.

After listening to mass, and walking for a little while, they went to table feeling assured that the present day would prove as agreeable as any of the past. Saffredent even said that he would gladly have the bridge building for another month, so great was the pleasure that he took in their entertainment; but the Abbot was pressing the work with all speed, for it was no pleasure to him to live in the company of so many honourable persons, among whom he could not bring his wonted female pilgrims.

Having rested for a time after dinner, they returned to their accustomed diversion. When all were seated in the meadow, they asked Parlamente to whom she gave her vote.

“I think,” she replied, “that Saffredent might well begin this day, for his face does not look as though he wished us to weep.”

“Then, ladies, you will needs be very hard-hearted,” said Saffredent, “if you take no pity on the Grey Friar whose story I am going to relate to you. You may perhaps think, from the tales that some among us have already told of the monks, that misadventures have befallen hapless damsels simply because ease of execution induced the attempt to be fearlessly begun, but, so that you may know that it is the blindness of wanton lust which deprives the friars of all fear and prudence, I will tell you of what happened to one of them in Flanders.”

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57