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XXII

Spoken: Story and Dialogue

When Aucassin heard the shepherds, he was reminded of Nicolette his sweet friend who he loved so much and he concluded that she had passed by there. Spurring his horse, he went to the shepherds:

"Dear children, may God help you!"

"God bless you! responded the one who spoke better than the others.

"Dear children," he said, "repeat the song you were singing just a second ago."

"We won't repeat it," responded the one who spoke better than the others. "Those who sing go straight to the devil, dear sir!"

"Dear children," said Aucassin, "do you recognize me?"

"Of course! We know well that you are Aucassin, our young lord, but we are not your subjects, we are the count's."

"Dear children, please sing, I entreat you."

"No! geez," said the other, "why should I sing for you if I don't want to, when there is not in this country, except Count Garin himself, a man so important that, if he finds my oxen or my cows or my ewes in his medows or his wheat fields, who would be bold enough to dare to hunt them, when they were plain as the nose on his face? So why should I sing for you, if I don't want to?

"By the grace of God, dear children, yes, sing; and then take ten shillings that I have here in a purse."

"Lord, we'll take the pennies, but this song, I won't sing it for you, I made an oath on it; I can tell you about it, if you wish."

"By God," replied Aucassin, "if you told me the story, it would be better than nothing."

"Lord, we were right here in the morning between six and nine o'clock, and we were eating our bread next to this spring, just like now, when a young lady appeared unexpectedly, the most beautiful creature in the world, so much so that we imagined she was a fairy: the whole woods was lit up. She gave us so much from her purse that we promised her that, if you came here, we would advise you to go hunting in this forest: there is a beast such that, if you can capture it, you would not give up even one of its limbs for five hundred silver marks, and not for all the gold in the world. It has, in effect, such virtue that if you can catch it, it will heal your wound; but you only have three days to capture it; if you don't, you will never see it. Now, you are free to pursue it or to renounce it: me, I've fulfilled the promise I made to her.

"Dear children," said Aucassin, "you have told me enough. May God help me discover her!"

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