The Knight who received an unusual gift

This text copyright ©1999 Professor Helen Nicholson




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Taken from: Nouveau recueil complet des fabliaux, ed. Willem Noomen and Nico van den Boogaard, vol. 4 (Assen/Maastricht, 1988). Translation by Helen Nicholson.

Some readers may consider that the story that follows is derogatory to women. Alternatively, perhaps girls just like to have fun. In any case, like the story translated elsewhere on this site under the deceptively innocuous title of 'An Ancient Breton Festival', this story celebrates a part of the woman's anatomy normally considered unmentionable in modern print. It is definitely suitable reading for an Ann Summers party!


The text


Fables are all the fashion at the moment. Those who tell them and who carry them about coin it in; for they bring great comfort to workers and those who are relaxing, when there is no one too troublesome about; and even those who are angry, if they hear a good fable told, it relaxes them and they forget sorrow and trouble and the bad things in their lives and all their worries.

Guerin who does not lie says this. In this tale, he tells us a story of a knight who had marvellous luck. I tell you truly, he made cunts talk when he wished to call on them, and the arse which is hidden away at the back also replied to his call. This good luck was given to him in the same year that he was dubbed; I'll tell you how it happened.

This knight became poor before he was very old, for although he was reckoned to be wise, he had neither vineyard or land. He was always present when there was a tournament or a war on, for he knew well how to strike with a lance, and he was bold and a good fighter, and a good help to his comrades in time of need. But it happened at this time, as we read in the story, that all the wars everywhere ended: no one was attacking each other, and tournaments were banned. At this time the knight had spent all he had; he didn't have a single mantle trimmed with ermine, nor surcoat nor fur-lined cape, not a penny's worth of anything which he hadn't left as a pledge for his debts. I don't think he was wise to pledge his equipment like this; he had eaten and drunk all he had.

He was staying at a castle which was very lovely and lavish, like Provins [in Champagne, France] would be, so he often drank good wine. He stayed there, living the good life, for a long time, until it happened one day that a tournament was announced throughout the whole country: everyone should go to La Haie in Touraine, and no excuses would be accepted for non-attendance. The tournament would be held at La Haie, and it would be a big one, and fiercely-fought.

The knight was very pleased at this. He called Hughie, his squire, and told him the news of the tournament which had been announced.

'Oy,' said Hughie, 'what are you going, talking about tournaments? For all your equipment has been pledged to pay your expenses!'

'Oh, Hughie, for God's sake, put your mind it,' said the knight, 'if you will! You always know how to advise me for the best. It would have been better for me to have listened to you before! Now think how I can get my equipment back without delay, and fix something up the best that you can; I don't know who can do it, except you!'

Hughie saw what had to be done, and fixed things up as best as he could. He sold his lord's palfrey [his elegant riding horse]; he did nothing else, but he got a good price, and paid everything off, and got all the pledged stuff back. The next day they both set off, but no one escorted or accompanied them.

As they were riding across open country, the knight asked Hughie how he had got his pledged equipment back. Hughie, who was very wise, said, 'Good sir, upon my faith, I sold your palfrey, for there was no other way to do it. You won't be leading a horse on your right hand side now, as you used to do.'

'How much have you got left, Hughie?' the knight said.

'Faith, sir, we've got twelve pence left to spend.'

'Then we'd better not be hanging around,' the knight said, 'it seems to me!'

At that they set off together.

When they had gone a long way, they entered a valley. The knight went along in front, and Hughie rode ahead on his nag at a great pace. He rode on until he happened to see in a meadow a pool fed by a spring, which was beautiful, clear and pure. The current of water was broad, and there were bushes around, large and leafy, of great beauty, just like in the summer months. The bushes were very lovely. In the pool were bathing three worthy and sensible girls, who were as beautiful as fairies. Their dresses and all their underclothes, which were decorated with gold, had been left under a trees. Those clothes were worth a treasure trove; more costly robes were never seen.

When Hughie saw the naked women, who had such white skin, their bodies well shaped, their arms and their hips, he spurred his horse and rode towards them. But he never spoke a word to them; instead he grabbed their clothes, leaving them open-mouthed.

When they saw their dresses being carried off, the best of them was in despair, for he was going at a great pace and had no desire to turn back. The girls wailed, cried, lamented and wept. While they were lamenting, the knight came up, following his squire. One of the girls spoke and said, 'I see riding along over there the lord of the evil squire who has taken our dresses from us and left us completely naked; let's beg him without more delay to have our dresses given back to us. If he's a gentleman, he'll do it.'

At that, one of them spoke up and told the knight aboutt their terrible situation. The knight was sorry and had great pity for the girls. Then he spurred his horse until he caught up with Hughie, and said to him, 'Give those dresses here at once! God help you, don't carry them away! It would be too great a crime to shame those girls!'

'Now, you change your tune,' Hughie said. 'Don't be crazy; these dresses are worth a good hundred pounds, for I never saw more expensive ones. You'd never win so much in fourteen and a half years no matter how much you tournied!'

'Faith,' said the knight, 'I will carry the dresses back to them, no matter what; I don't want such winnings; I would never win fame like that!'

'You deserve to be a pauper,' Hughie said, furiously.

The knight took the dresses and went as fast as he could to the girls, who were very pleasing and lovely, and gave them back their dresses. They put them on at once, for they had waited for them long enough! At that the knight departed, taking his leave of them, and turned away. One of the girls spoke first to the others and said to them: 'Young ladies, as God help me, this knight is very courteous! You have seen proof of it; he could have sold our dresses for a lot of money rather than giving them back to us. He certainly would have got enough for them. You may be certain that this knight has done us a great courtesy, and we have done a great act of villany, for we have given him nothing for which he could thank us. Let's call him back and pay him well, for he's so poor that he has nothing. Let none of us be stingy towards him, but let's make the gentleman rich!'

The others agreed. So they called the knight back and he returned at once. The greatest of the girls spoke first, for the others had given her leave.

'Sir knight, by my faith, we do not wish that you should leave like this, for it is not right. You have served us well, you have saved our lives, and you've acted like a gentleman. And I will give you a very valuable gift, and be certain that it will never fail. You will never go anywhere where everyone will not welcome you, and everyone make joy over you, and give up to you everything which they have. You cannot be poor anymore.'

'Lady, this is a rich reward,' said the knight. 'Great thanks!'

'My gift isn't at all small,' the next girl said after her. 'He will never go again far or near, but when he finds a woman or female beast, and if she has two eyes in her head, if he deigns to call upon her cunt, it will have to answer him; such will be his lot in the future. He may be quite sure that no king or count has such a gift.'

Then the knight was embarassed and thought the girl a fool. The third spoke and said to the knight: 'Good sir, do you know what I'm going to say to you? For there is good reason and right that, if the cunt for some reason has some encumbrance so that it can't reply at once, if he calls on the arse without delay the arse will reply in its place, no matter who is annoyed or sorry because of this.'

Then the knight blushed scarlet, for he was certain that they were making fun of him and were holding him up for nothing. He set off immediately. When he caught up with Hughie, he told him what you have heard, laughing all the time: 'Those girls in the meadow were making fun of me.'

'Well,' Hughie said, 'that suits me fine, for by St Germain! the man who throws down what he has in his hand as if were nothing is a fool.'

'I think you're right,' the knight said, 'it seems to me.'

At that, I believe, a provost came along, by himself, riding on a mare. The provost was powerful and rich, but he was mean and stingy. He was intending to go down the road to another town, which was quite close to there. The priest saw the knight, turned his mare towards him, dismounted at once and said to him, 'Welcome, sir! Now, I beg you to stay with me today and lodge with me. I have a great desire and wish to serve and honour you; everything I have is at your command, have no doubt.'

The knight was amazed at the priest, whom he didn't know at all, and yet who begged him to stay with him. Hughie grabbed him and said to him, 'My lord, God help me, the fairies told you the truth! Now you can see it! Quickly, call the cunt of this great mare - I think you'll hear it speak at once.'

The knight said, 'I agree.'

At once he began to speak to it: 'Sir cunt, where is your lord going? Tell me, don't lie!'

'Faith, sir knight, he's going to see his girlfriend,' said the cunt. 'He's taking good money to her; ten pounds of good cash that he has sewn into his belt, to buy a dress.'

When the priest heard the cunt speaking so clearly, he was terrified; he thought that he was bewitched and had fallen into the devil's power. He fled from fear, and in order to run more quickly he undid his cloak and threw down the belt and the money in the path. He left his mare and turned in flight. Hughie saw that he had left his money behind, and yelled after him; but the priest, without saying a word, won the race, fleeing down a cart track. He wouldn't have turned back for a hundred marks! [A mark was two-thirds of a pound.]

The knight took the money, and Hughie seized the mare, which had very good harness, and bundled up the fur-lined cloak. They laughed a lot over this piece of good luck. Then they went on at a great speed.

Now, the knight was very happy; he gave Hughie the money, which was a good ten pounds. He said to Hughie: 'I would have been quite crazy now if I'd kept the dresses just now and left those noble and sensible girls naked. I'm quite sure that they were fairies, because they have given me a rich reward. Before we've spent this money and wasted it all, we'll have plenty more from someone else, for someone is going to pay our bill who now doesn't know a word about it! Hughie, the person who conquers by villany doesn't win a thing - instead he loses honour throughout the whole world, for never again will a good word or a good tale be told of him at court. I'd rather be paralysed than have taken your advice justnow; my renown would have been diminished and brought low, in my opinion!'

So they went along talking, until they came to a castle, which was very well situated, strong and beautiful. To cut a long story short, in this castle was a count,and the countess with him, his wife, who was a very lovely and worthy lady; and there were more than thirty knights.

Now, there rides into the castle he who made cunts talk. Everyone ran to greet him and wished to welcome him with great joy, which made him very glad. There was a game going on in the town, and all the people were there; the count and countess - who was not foolish or a chatterbox - were there too, as were the servants, ladies and knights and girls and squires. At that the knight arrived with Hughie, who stood beside him. They stopped next to the game. And when the people saw him, they all ran towards him. Even the count couldn't wait to hug and kiss him; he kissed him on the mouth. The countess kissed him too; she would have kissed him twenty times one after the other more willingly than she would hear mass, if the count had not been so near! The knight dismounted before the people. There was not a knight or a servant present who did not greet him from the heart.

They led him with great joy straight into the count's hall. Then they didn't stand about, but sat down to supper: all the knights and the lords, who held their guest very dear. Then they talked about going to bed, because it was a dark, black night. The countess went to a great deal of trouble to make her guest very comfortable - she certainly did much which should be praised. A rich bed was made up for him in a delightful chamber; he lay and slept alone.

After a while, the countess called a girl of hers, the most worthy and the loveliest, and said to her quietly: 'Good friend, go, don't be upset, go and lie quietly and leisurely with that knight whose coming we love a great deal. Undress and lie down next to him, and serve him if necessary. I would go very willingly, shame would not prevent me from going, if it were not for my lord the count, who is not yet asleep.'

The girl went very unwillingly, but did not dare to refuse the countess. Trembling like a leaf, she entered the chamber where he was sleeping; she undressed as quickly as she could, lay down beside him and stretched herself out. When the knight felt her there, he awoke at once and was very much amazed: 'Who is this beside me?' he said.

'Sir, don't be shocked,' she said - for she was a straightforward and modest girl - 'the countess sent me. I am one of her girls; I won't harm you or bother you, but I'll stroke your hair.'

'Faith, that doesn't upset me!' the knight said, embracing her. He kissed her mouth and face and stroked her breasts, which were very white and beautiful, and he put his hand on her cunt. And then the knight said to it, 'Sir cunt, speak to me! I want to ask you why your lady has come here.'

'Mercy!' said the cunt. 'I won't try to deceive you: it's because the countess sent her to entertain you and cheer you up.'

When she heard her cunt talk, the girl was absolutely overwhelmed: she leapt out of bed naked and ran away, only carrying her shift.

The countess called her, and asked her news: 'Why have you left the knight whom we lodged here yesterday?'

'My lady,' she said, 'I'll tell, you, I'll never lie to you; I went to bed with him, I undressed completely; he began to call my cunt, and made it talk to him. Whatever he asked it, my cunt told him, and I heard it speak.'

When the countess heard this marvel, she said that she had never heard the like, and didn't believe a word of it, but the girl swore and affirmed that what she was telling her was true.

At that, they left the story until morning broke, and the knight got up. He said to Hughie, his squire, that it was high time that they rode on. Hughie went to saddle up. The countess heard the news that the knight wanted to go; she got up earlier than usual, came to the knight, and said to him, 'Sir, God help me, you can't go yet, at once, before eating!'

'My lady,' he said, 'as God see me, I will not wait to eat, not for the sake of anything, and this should not displease you too much, for I have a long way to ride today.'

'All that,' she said, 'means nothing; you'll do your journey all right!' He saw that it could not be otherwise, so he remained, since he had to.

When the count and the countess and all the other knights had heard mass, they sat down to eat at once. And after the meal, the knights began to talk about many things. But the countess, who could not keep quiet, spoke up: 'Sirs,' she said, 'God save me, I've heard knights talk, servants talk, burghers and squires talk, and tell their adventures, but none can boast of an adventure that I heard of yesterday! There is within this hall a knight who has surpassed the whole world, for he has such great power that he makes cunts speak to him. Such a man is much to be praised! And you should know, by St Richier, that this is the knight who came yesterday!

When the knights heard her, they were astounded by the marvel. They asked the knight if the countess was speaking the truth. 'Yes,' he said, 'without any doubt.'

The count and all the people laughed, and the countess (who was not ignoble or foolish) spoke again.

'Mr knight, whatever the case, I wish to make a bet with you, and I'll put sixty pounds on it: my cunt will never be so foolish or mad to speak a single word to you.'

As soon as the knight heard her, he said, 'My lady, as God see me, I do not have sixty pounds; I would put them on at once! But I'll put on my horse and my equipment - put their value against them!'

'I won't ask any more,' she said, 'but if I win, you'll leave on foot and leave your equipment behind.'

The knight agreed. Then he set out the terms: he did not act foolishly in this.

'My lady,' he said, 'the cunt will speak without fail up to three times.'

'There will seven times and more if you like,' she said. 'But before you call it, I'll go into my chamber for a moment.' No one contradicted her. The bet was agreed, and the countess got up.

She went straight into her chamber. Now, hear what she had planned: she took a handful of cotton and filled her cunt right up with it; she stuffed the hole thoroughly, and pushed it well in with her right fist. A good pound of cotton went it; now the cunt isn't free! When she had filled and loaded it, and swaddled it up in cotton, she went back into the hall.

She said immediately to the knight that he should do his worst, but her cunt would never reply or tell him anything. The knight called the cunt: 'Sir cunt,' he said, 'tell me what you lady was looking for in her chamber where she went to hide so quickly.'

But the cunt could not reply, because its throat was blocked and stuffed up so well with cotton that it was throttled. When the knight heard that it had not spoken the first time, he called it again; but the cunt couldn't say a word. The knight was in no mood to laugh when he heard it not talk; he consulted with his squire, and said that now he had lost everything. Hughie replied: 'Sir, don't be afraid! Don't you know what the least of the three girls promised you? She granted to you that if the cunt could not speak, the arse would reply in its place; and she didn't wish to deceive you!'

'By my head, Hughie, you're right,' the knight said, laughing. He called the arse at once, and conjured and begged it to tell him the truth quickly about the cunt and why it didn't speak.

The arse said, 'Because it can't, because its throat is full with - I don't know - either cotton or wool, which my lady shoved in there just now when she went into her chamber. But if the cotton was taken out, be sure it would talk then.'

When the knight heard this tale he at once said to the count, 'Lord, by the loyalty I owe you, the lady has cheated me, when she has obstructed her cunt. Be sure that it would have spoken if it wasn't for what she put in it.'

The count said to the countess that she must free it. She didn't dare refuse and went to free her cunt; she drew out all the cotton, she drew it out with a hook [crochet], and she greatly repented having shoved it in! Then she came back. She knew she had lost the wager she had bet, acting like a fool.

The knight spoke to the cunt and asked it why it hadn't replied at once. The cunt said, 'I couldn't, because I was blocked up with cotton that my lady put in.' When the count heard this, he laughed heartily, and all the other knights laughed. They all assured the lady that she had lost; she should say no more, but settle her debts with the knight. She did so, delayed no more, and paid him sixty pounds. He received this with great joy, because he needed the money.

He has such good luck that all the world loved him, and did so for as long as he lived. Lucky the day he was born, the man who had such luck! At that the tale is finished.



This is ‘Le chevalier qui fet parler les cons’: ‘The Knight Who Made Cunts Talk’. It survives in seven manuscripts. It was written in French around the year 1250.

This text copyright ©1999 Prof. Helen Nicholson

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