The Third Day
As soon as the lovely day was broken, and the bright sun, having raised himself above the hills, had betaken himself to his appointed office, my good champions began to rise and leisurely make themselves ready unto the inquisition. Whereupon, one after another they came again into the hall, and giving us a good morrow, demanded how we had slept; and having espied our bonds, some reproved us for being so cowardly, that we had not, as they, hazarded upon all adventures. Howbeit, some, whose hearts still smote them, made no loud cry of the business. We excused ourselves with our ignorance, hoping we should soon be set at liberty and learn wit by this disgrace, that they also had not altogether escaped, and perhaps their greatest danger was still to be expected. At length all being assembled, the trumpets began again to sound and the kettle-drums to beat, and we imagined that the Bride-groom was ready to present himself, which, nevertheless, was a huge mistake, for again it was the Virgin, who had arrayed herself all in red velvet, and girded herself with a white scarfe. Upon her head she had a green wreath of laurel, which much became her. Her train was no more of small tapers, but consisted of two hundred men in harness, all cloathed, like herself, in red and white. As soon as they were alighted from the throne, she comes streight to us prisoners, and, after she had saluted us, said in few words: -- "That some of you have been sensible of your wretched condition is pleasing to my most mighty Lord, and he is also resolved you shall fare the better for it." Having espied me in my habit, she laughed and spake: -- "Good lack! Hast thou also submitted thyself to the yoke! I imagined thou wouldst have made thyself very snug," which words caused my eyes to run over. After this she commanded we should be unbound, cuppled together, and placed in a station where we might well behold the scales." For," said she, "it may fare better with them than with the presumptuous who yet stand at liberty."
Meantime the scales, which were intirely of gold, were hung up in the midst of the hall. There was also a little table covered with red velvet, and seven weights thereon -- first of all stood a pretty great one, then four little ones, lastly, two great ones severally, and these weights in proportion to their bulk were so heavy that no man can believe or comprehend it. Each of the harnised men carried a naked sword and a strong rope. They were distributed according to the number of weights into seven bands, and out of every band was one chosen for their proper weight, after which the Virgin again sprung up into her high throne, and one of the pages commanded each to place himself according to his order, and successively step into the scale. One of the Emperors, making no scruple, first bowed himself a little towards the Virgin, and in all his stately attire went up, whereupon each captain laid in his weight, which (to the wonder of all) he stood out. But the last was too heavy for him, so that forth he must, and that with such anguish that the Virgin herself seemed to pitty him, yet was the good Emperor bound and delivered to the sixth band. Next him came forth another Emperor, who stept hautily into the scale, and, having a thick book under his gown, he imagined not to fail; but, being scarce able to abide the third weight, he was unmercifully slung down, and his book in that affrightment slipping from him, all the soldiers began to laugh, and he was delivered up bound to the third band. Thus it went also with some others of the Emperors, who were all shamefully laughed at and made captive. After these comes forth a little short man, with a curled brown beard, an Emperor too, who, after the usual reverence, got up and held out so stedfastly that methought had there been more weights he would have outstood them. To him the Virgin immediately arose and bowed before him, causing him to put on a gown of red velvet, then reaching him a branch of laurel, whereof she had good store upon her throne, on the steps of which she willed him to sit down. How after him it fared with the rest of the Emperors, Kings, and Lords, would be too long to recount; few of those great personages held out, though sundry eminent vertues were found in many. Everyone who failed was miserably laughed at by the bands. After the inquisition had passed over the gentry, the learned, and unlearned, in each condition one, it may be, two, but mostly none, being found perfect, it came to those vagabond cheaters and rascally Lapidem Spilalanficum makers, who were set upon the scale with such scorn, that for all my grief I was ready to burst my belly with laughing, neither could the prisoners themselves refrain, for the most part could not abide that severe trial, but with whips and scourges were jerked out of the scale. Thus of so pert a throng so few remained that I am ashamed to discover their number. Howbeit, there were persons of quality also amongst them who, notwithstanding, were also honoured with velvet robes and wreaths of lawrel.
The inquisition being finished, and none but we poor coupled hounds standing aside, one of the captains stept forth, and said :-- "Gratious madam, if it please your ladyship, let these poor men, who acknowledged their misunderstanding, be set upon the scale also without danger of penalty, and only for recreation's sake, if perchance anything right be found among them." At this I was in great perplexity, for in my anguish this was my only comfort, that I was not to stand in such ignominy, or be lashed out of the scale. Yet since the Virgin consented, so it must be, and we being untied were one after another set up. Now, although the most part miscarried, they were neither laughed at nor scourged, but peaceably placed on one side. My companion was the fifth, who held out bravely, whereupon all, but especially the captain who made the request for us, applauded him, and the Virgin showed him the usual respect. After him two more were despatched in an instant. But I was the eighth, and as soon as (with trembling) I stepped up, my companion, who already sat by in his velvet, looked friendly upon me, and the Virgin herself smiled a little. But, for as much as I outstayed all the weights, the Virgin commanded them to draw me up by force, wherefore three men moreover hung on the other-side of the beam, and yet could nothing prevail. Whereupon one of the pages immediately stood up, and cryed out exceeding loud, "THAT IS HE," upon which the other replyed: "Then let him gain his liberty!" which the Virgin accorded, and being received with due ceremonies, the choice was given me to release one of the captives, whomsoever I pleased, whereupon I made no long deliberations, but elected the first Emperor, whom I had long pittied, who was immediately set free, and with all respect seated among us. Now, the last being set up the weights proved too heavy for him; meanwhile the Virgin espied my roses, which I had taken out of my hat into my hands, and thereupon by her page graciously requested them of me, which I readily sent her. And so this first act was finished about ten in the forenoon.
The trumpets again began to sound, which, nevertheless, we could not as yet see. Meantime the bands were to step aside with their prisoners and expect the judgment, after which a council of the seven captains and ourselves was set, with the Virgin as president, whereat it was concluded that all the principal lords should with befitting respect be led out of the castle, that others should be stripped and caused to run out naked, while others yet with rods, whips, or dogs, should be hunted out. Those who the day before willingly surrendered themselves might be suffered to depart without any blame, but those presumptuous ones, and they who had behaved themselves so unseemly at dinner, should be punished in body and life according to each man's demerit. This opinion pleased the Virgin well, and obtained the upper hand. There was moreover another dinner vouchsafed them, the execution itself being deferred till noon. Herewith the senate arose, and the Virgin, together with her attendants, returned to her usual quarter. The uppermost table in the room was allotted to us till the business was fully dispatched, when we should be conducted to the Lord Bride-groom and Bride, with which we were well content. The prisoners were again brought into the hall, and each man seated according to his quality. They were enjoyned to behave somewhat more civilly than they had done the day before, which admonishment they needed not, for they had already put up their pipes, and this I can boldly say, that commonly those who were of highest rank best understood how to comport themselves in so unexpected a misfortune. Their treatment was but indifferent, yet with respect, neither could they see their attendants, who were visible to us, whereat I was exceeding joyful. Although fortune had exalted us, we took not upon us more than the rest, advising them to be of good cheer, and comforting them as well as we could, drinking with them to try if the wine might make them cheerful. Our table was covered with red velvet, beset with drinking cups of pure silver and gold, which the rest could not behold without amazement and anguish. Ere we had seated ourselves in came the two pages, presenting every one, in the Bride-groom's behalf, the Golden Fleece with a flying Lyon, requesting us to wear them at the table, and to observe the reputation and dignity of the order which his Majesty had vouchsafed us and would ratify with suitable ceremonies. This we received with profoundest submission, promising to perform whatever his Majesty should please. Beside these, the noble page had a schedule wherein we were set down in order. Now because our entertainment was exceeding stately, we demanded one of the pages whether we might have leave to send some choice bit to our friends and acquaintance, who making no difficulty, every one sent by the waiters; howbeit the receivers saw none of them; and forasmuch as they knew not whence it came, I was myself desirous to carry somewhat to one of them, but, as soon as I was risen, one of the waiters was at my elbow, desiring me to take friendly warning, for in case one of the pages had seen it, it would have come to the King's ear, who would certainly take it amiss of me; but since none had observed it save himself, he purposed not to betray me, and that I must for the time to come have better regard to the dignity of the order. With these words, the servant did really so astonish me that for long I scarce moved upon my seat, yet I returned him thanks for his faithful warning as well as I was able. Soon after the drums began to beat, wherefore we prepared ourselves to receive the Virgin, who now came in with her train, upon her high seat, one of the pages bearing before her a very tall goblet of gold, and the other a patent in parchment. Being now after a marvellous artificial manner alighted from her seat, she takes the goblet from the page and presents it in the King's behalf, saying that it was brought from his Majesty, and that in honour of him we should cause it to go round. Upon the cover of this goblet stood Fortune curiously cast in gold, who had in her hand a red flying ensign, for which cause I drunk somewhat the more sadly, as having been too well acquainted with Fortune's waywardness. But the Virgin who also was adorned with the Golden Fleece and Lyon, hereupon began to distinguish the patent which the other page held into two different parts, out of which thus much was read before the first company: --
That they should confess that they had too lightly given credit to false, fictitious books, had assumed too much to themselves, and so come into this castle uninvited, and perhaps designing to make their markets here and afterwards to live in the greater pride and lordliness. Thus one had seduced another, and plunged him into disgrace and ignominy, wherefore they were deservedly to be soundly punished -- all which they, with great humility, readily acknowledged, and gave their hands upon it, after which a severe check was given to the rest, much to this purpose: --
That they were convinced in their consciences of forging false, fictitious books, had befooled and cheated others, thereby diminishing regal dignity amongst all. They knew what ungodly, deceitful figures they had made use of; not even sparing the Divine Trinity. It was also clear as day with what practices they had endeavoured to ensnare the guests; in like manner, it was manifest to all the world that they wallowed in open whoredom, adultery, gluttony, and other uncleannesses. In brief, they had disparaged Kingly Majesty, even amongst the common sort, and therefore should confess themselves to be convicted vagabond-cheats, and rascals, for which they deserved to be cashiered from the company of civil people, and severely to be punished.
The good Artists were loath to come to this confession, but inasmuch as the Virgin not only herself threatned, and sware their death, but the other party also vehemently raged at them, crying that they had most wickedly seduced them out of the Light, they at length, to prevent a huge misfortune, confessed the same with dolour, yet alledged their actions should not be animadverted upon in the worst sense, for the Lords were resolved to get into the castle, and had promised great sums of money to that effect, each one had used all craft to seize upon something, and so things were brought to the present pass. Thus they had disserved no more than the Lords themselves. Their books also sold so mightily that whoever had no other means to maintain himself was fain to ingage in this consonage. They hoped, moreover, they should be found no way to have miscarried, as having behaved towards the Lords, as became servants, upon their earnest entreaty. But answer was made that his Royal Majesty had determined to punish all, albeit one more severely than another. For although what they had alledged was partly true, and therefore the Lords should not wholly be indulged, yet they had good reason to prepare themselves for death, who had so presumptuously obtruded themselves, and perhaps seduced the ignorant against their will. Thereupon many began most pitteously to lament and prostrate themselves, all which could avail them nothing, and I much marvelled how the Virgin could be so resolute, when their misery caused our eyes to run over. She presently dispatched her page, who brought with him all the cuirassiers which had been appointed at the scales, who were each commanded to take his own man, and, in an orderly procession, conduct him into her great garden. Leave was given to my yesterday companions to go out into the garden unbound, and be present at the execution of the sentence. When every man was come forth, the Virgin mounted up into her high throne, requesting us to sit down upon the steps, and appear at the judgment. The goblet was committed to the pages’ keeping, and we went forth in our robes upon the throne, which of itself moved so gently as if we had passed in the air, till we came into the garden, where we arose altogether. This garden was not extraordinarily curious, only it pleased me that the trees were planted in so good order. Besides there ran in it a most costly fountain, adorned with wonderful figures and inscriptions and strange characters (which, God willing, I shall mention in a future book). In this garden was raised a wooden scaffold, hung with curiously painted figured coverlets. There were four galleries made one over another; the first was more glorious than the rest and covered with a white Taffata curtain, so that we could not perceive who was behind it. The second was empty and uncovered, while the two last were draped with red and blew Taffata. As soon as we were come to the scaffold the Virgin bowed herself down to the ground, at which we were mightily terrified, for we could easily guess that the King and Queen must not be far off. We also having duely performed our reverence, the Virgin led us by the winding stairs into the second gallery, where she placed herself uppermost, and us in our former order. But how the emperor whom I had released behaved towards me, I cannot relate for fear of slander, for he might well imagine in what anguish he now should have been, and that only through me he had attained such dignity and worthiness. Meantime, the virgin who first brought me the invitation, and whom I had hitherto never since seen, stepped in, and giving one blast upon her trumpet declared the sentence with a very loud voice: --
"The King's Majesty, my most gratious Lord, could from his heart wish that all here assembled had, upon his Majestie's invitation, presented themselves so qualified that they might have adorned his nuptial and joyous Feast. But since it hath otherwise pleased Almighty God, he hath not wherewith to murmur, but is forced, contrary to his inclination, to abide by the antient and laudable constitutions of this Kingdom, albeit, that his Majesty's clemency may be celebrated, the usual sentence shall be considerably lenified. He vouchsafes to the Lords and Potentates not only their lives intirely, but also freely dismisses them, courteously intreating your Lordships not to take it in evil part that you cannot be present at his Feast of Honour. Neither is your reputation hereby prejudiced, although you be rejected by this our Order, since we cannot at once do all things, and forasmuch as your Lordships have been seduced by base rascals, it shall not pass unrevenged. Furthermore, his Majesty resolveth shortly to communicate with you a Catalogue of Hereticks, or Index Expurgatorius, that you may with better judgment discern between good and evil. And because his Majesty also purposeth to rummage his library, and offer the seductive writings to Vulcan, he courteously entreats every one of you to put the same in execution with your own, whereby it is to be hoped that all evil and mischief may be remedied. And you are admonished never henceforth so inconsiderately to covet entrance hither, least the former excuse of seducers be taken from you. In fine, as the estates of the Land have still somewhat to demand of your Lordships, his Majesty hopes that no man will think it much to redeem himself with a chain, or what else he hath about him, and so, in friendly manner, depart from us.
"The others who stood not at the first, third, and fourth weight, his Majesty will not so lightly dismiss, but that they also may experience his gentleness, it is his command to strip them naked, and so send them forth. Those who in the second and fifth weight were found too light shall, besides stripping, be noted with one or more brands, according as each was lighter or heavier. They who were drawn up by the sixth or seventh shall be somewhat more gratiously dealt with, and so forward, for unto every combination there is a certain punishment ordained. They who yesterday separated themselves of their own accord shall go at liberty without blame. Finally, the convicted vagabond-cheats, who could move up none of the weights, shall be punished, in body and life, with sword, halter, water, and rods, and such execution of judgment shall be inviolably observed for an example unto others."
Herewith one virgin broke her wand; the other, who read the sentence, blew her trumpet, and stepped with profound reverence towards the curtain. Now this judgment being read over, the Lords were well satisfied, for which cause they gave more than they were desired, each one redeeming himself with chains, jewels, gold, monies, and other things, and with reverence they took leave. Although the King's servants were forbidden to jear any at his departure, some unlucky birds could not hold laughing, and certainly it was sufficiently ridiculous to see them pack away with such speed, without once looking behind them. At the door was given to each of them a draught of FORGETFULNESS, that he might have no further memory of misfortune. After these the volunteers departed, who, because of their ingenuity, were suffered to pass, but so as never to return in the same fashion, albeit if to them (as likewise to the others) anything further were revealed, they should be well-come guests.
Meanwhile, others were stripping, in which also an inequality, according to demerit, was observed. Some were sent away naked, without other hurt; others were driven out with small bells; some again were scourged forth. In brief, the punishments were so various, that I am not able to recount them all. With the last a somewhat longer time was spent, for whilst some were hanging, some beheading, some forced to leap into the water, much time was consumed. Verily, at this execution my eyes ran over, not indeed in regard of the punishment which impudency well deserved, but in contemplation of human blindness, in that we are continually busying ourselves over that which since the first fall hath been sealed to us. Thus the garden which lately was quite full was soon emptied.
As soon as this was done, and silence had been kept for the space of five minutes, there came forward a beautiful snow-white Unicorn, with a golden collar, ingraved with certain letters, about his neck.
He bound himself down upon his fore-feet, as if hereby he had shown honour to the Lyon, who stood so immoveably upon the fountain that I took him to be stone or brass, but who immediately took the naked sword which he bare in his paw, brake it into two in the middle, the two pieces whereof sunk into the fountain, after which he so long reared until a white Dove brought a branch of olive in her bill, which the Lyon devoured in an instant, and so was quieted. The Unicorn returned to his place with joy, while our Virgin led us down by the winding staires from the scaffold, and so we again made our reverence towards the curtain. We washed our hands and heads in the fountain, and thereby waited in order till the King through a secret gallery returned into his hall, and then we also, with choice musick, pomp, state, and pleasant discourse, were conducted into our former lodging. Here, that the time might not seem too long to us, the Virgin bestowed on each of us a noble Page, not only richly habited but also exceeding learned, and able aptly to discourse on all subjects, so that we had reason to be ashamed of ourselves. These were commanded to lead us up and down the castle, yet only in certain places, and, if possible, to shorten the time according to our desire. Meantime, the Virgin took leave, promising to be with us again at supper, and after that to celebrate the ceremonies of hanging up the weights, while on the morrow we should be presented to the King. Each of us now did what best pleased him, one part viewing the excellent paintings, which they copied for themselves, and considered what the wonderful characters might signify, others recruiting themselves with meat and drink. I caused my Page to conduct me, with my Companion, up and down the castle, of which walk it will never repent me so long as I live. Besides many other glorious antiquities, the Royal Sepulcher was shewed me, by which I learned more than is extant in all books. There in the same place stands the glorious Phœnix, of which two years since I published a small discourse, and am resolved, in case this narrative prove useful, to set forth several treatises concerning the Lyon, Eagle, Griffon, Falcon, &c., together with their draughts and inscriptions. It grieves me also for my other consorts that they neglected such pretious treasures. I indeed reaped the most benefit by my Page, for according as each one's genius lay, so he led his intrusted one into the quarters pleasing to him. Now the kyes hereunto belonging were committed to my Page, and, therefore, this good fortune happened to me before the rest, for though he invited others to come in, yet they imagining such tombs to be only in the churchyard, thought they should well enough get thither when ever anything was to be seen there. Neither shall these monuments be with-held from my thankful schollars. The other thing that was shewed us two was the noble Library as it was altogether before the Reformation, of which I have so much the less to say, because the catalogue is shortly to be published. At the entry of this room stands a great Book the like whereof I never saw, in which all the figures, rooms, portals, writings, riddles, and the like, to be seen in the whole castle are delineated. In every book stands its author painted, whereof many were to be burnt, that even their memory might be blotted out from amongst the righteous. Having taken a full view, and being scarce gotten forth, there comes another Page, and having whispered somewhat in our Page's ear, he delivered up the kyes to him, who immediately carried them up the winding stairs; but our Page was very much out of countenance, and we, setting hard upon him with intreaties, he declared to us that the King's Majesty would by no means permit that either the library or sepulchers should be seen by man, and he besought us as we tendered his life to discover it not to anyone, he having already utterly denyed it; whereupon both of us stood hovering between joy and fear, yet it continued in silence, and no man made further inquiry about it. Thus in both places we consumed three hours, and now, although it had struck seven, nothing was hitherto given us to eat, but our hunger was abated by constant revivings, and I could be content to fast all my life with such an entertainment. About this time the curious fountains, mines, and all kind of art shops were also shown us, of which there was none but surpassed all our arts even if melted into one mass. Every chamber was built in semi-circle, that so they might have before their eyes the costly clock-work which was erected upon a fair turret in the centre, and regulate themselves according to the course of the planets which were to be seen on it in a glorious manner.
At length I came into a spacious room, in the middle whereof stood a terestrial globe, whose diameter contained thirty foot, albeit near half, except a little which was covered with the steps, was let into the earth. Two men might readily turn it about, so that more of it was never to be seen but so much as was above the horizon. I could not understand whereto those ringlets of gold (which were upon it in several places) served, at which my Page laughed, and advised me to view them more narrowly, when I found there my native country noted with gold also, whereupon my companion sought his and found that too. The same happened to others who stood by, and the Page told us that it was yesterday declared to the King's Majesty by their old astronomer Atlas, that all the gilded points did exactly answer to their native countries, and, therefore, he, as soon as he perceived that I undervalued myself, but that nevertheless there stood a point upon my native country, moved one of the captains to intreat for us to be set upon the scale at all adventures, especially seeing one of our native countries had a notable good mark. And truly it was not without cause that he, the Page of greatest power, was bestowed on me. For this I returned him thanks, and looking more diligently upon my native country, I found that, besides the ringlets, there were also certain delicate streaks upon it. I saw much more even upon this globe than I am willing to discover. Let each man take into consideration why every city produceth not a philosopher. After this he led us within the globe, for on the sea there was a tablet (whereon stood three dedications and the author's name) which a man might gently lift up, and by a little board go into the center, which was capable of four persons, being nothing but a round board whereon we could sit and at ease by broad daylight (it was now already dark) contemplate the stars, which seemed like mere carbuncles glittering in an agreeable order, and moving so gallantly that I had scarce any mind ever to go out again, as the Page afterwards told the Virgin, and with which she often twitted me, for it was already supper time and I was almost the last at table. The waiters treated me with so much reverence and honour that for shame I durst not look up. To speak concerning the musick, or the rest of that magnificent entertainment, I hold needless, because it is not possible sufficiently to express it. In brief there was nothing there but art and amenity. After we had each to other related our employment since noon (howbeit, not a word was spoken of the library and monuments), being already merry with wine, the Virgin began thus: -- "My Lords, I have a great contention with one of my sisters. In our chamber we have an eagle, whom we cherish with such diligence that each of us is desirous to be the best beloved, and upon that score have many a squabble. On a day we concluded to go both together to him, and toward whom he should show himself most friendly, hers should he properly be. This we did, and I, as commonly, bare in my hand a branch of lawrel, but my sister had none. As soon as he espyed us both, he gave my sister another branch which he had in his beak, and offered at mine, which I gave him. Each of us hereupon imagined herself best beloved of him. Which way am I to resolve myself?"
This modest proposal pleased us mightly well, and each one would gladly have heard the solution, but inasmuch as all looked upon me, and desired to have the beginning from me, my mind was so extreamly confounded that I knew not what to do but propound another in its stead, and said, therefore: -- "Gracious Lady, your Ladyship's question were easily to be resolved if one thing did not perplex me. I had two companions who both loved me exceedingly; they being doubtful which was most dear to me, concluded to run to me unawares, and that he whom I should then embrace should be the right; this they did, yet one of them could not keep pace with the other, so he staid behind and wept; the other I embraced with amazement. When they had afterwards discovered the business to me, I knew not how to resolve, and have hitherto let it rest in this manner till I may find some good advice herein."
The Virgin wondered at it, and well observed where about I was, upon which she replied, that we should both be quit, and then desired the solution from the rest. But I had already made them wise, wherefore the next began thus -- "In my city a Virgin was condemned to death, but the judge being pittiful towards her, proclaimed that if any man desired to be her champion, he should have free leave. Now she had two lovers; one made himself ready, and came into the lists to expect his adversary; afterwards the other presented himself, but coming too late, resolved nevertheless to fight, and suffer himself to be vanquished that the Virgin's life might be preserved, which succeeded accordingly. Thereupon each challenged her, and now, my lords, instruct me to which of them of right she belongeth." The Virgin could hold no longer, but said: -- "I thought to have gained much information, and am my self gotten into the net; yet I would gladly hear whether there be any more behind." "Yes, that there is," answered the third, "a stranger adventure hath not been recounted then that which happened to myself. In my youth I loved a worthy maid, and that my love might attain its end I made use of an ancient matron, who easily brought me to her. Now it happened that the maid's brethren came in upon us as we three were together, and were in such a rage that they would have taken my life, but, on my vehement supplication, they at length forced me to swear to take each of them for a year to my wedded wife. Now, tell me, my Lords, should I take the old or the young one first?" We all laughed sufficiently at this riddle, yet none would undertake to unfold it, and the fourth began. "In a certain city there dwelt an honourable lady, beloved of all, but especially of a noble young man, who would needs be too importunate with her. At length she gave him this determination, that in case he would, in a cold winter, lead her into a fair green garden of Roses, then he should obtain, but if not he must resolve never to see her more. The noble man travelled into all countries to find one who might perform this, till at length he lite upon a little old man who promised to do it for him, in case he would assure him of half his estate, which he having consented to the other was as good as his word. Whereupon he invited the Lady home to his garden, where, contrary to her expectation, she found all things green, pleasant, and warm; and remembring her promise, she only requested that she might once more return to her lord, to whom with sighs and tears she bewailed her lamentable condition. Her lord, sufficiently perceiving her faithfulness, dispatched her back to her lover, who had so dearly purchased her, that she might give him satisfaction, when the husband's integrity so mightily affected the noble man that he thought it a sin to touch so honest a wife, and sent her home with honour to her lord. The little man, perceiving such faith in all these, would not, how poor soever he were, be the least, but restored the noble man all his goods, and went his way. Now, my lords, which of these persons showed the greatest ingenuity?" Here our tongues were quite cut off, neither would the Virgin make any reply but that another should go on; wherefore the fifth began: -- "I desire not to make long work. Who hath the greater joy, he that beholdeth what he loveth, or he that only thinketh on it?" "He that beholdeth it," said the Virgin. "Nay," answered I, and hereupon rose a contest till the sixth called out: -- "My lords, I am to take a wife; I have before me a maid, a married wife, and a widdow; ease me of this doubt, and I will help to order the rest." "It goes well there," replied the seventh, "when a man hath his choice, but with me the case is otherwise. In my youth I loved a fair and virtuous virgin, and she me in like manner; howbeit, because of her friends’ denyal, we could not come together in wedlock, whereupon she was married to another, who maintained her honourably and with affection, till she came into the pains of childbirth, which went so hard with her that all thought she was dead, so with much state and mourning she was interred. Now, I thought with myself, during her life thou couldst have no part in this woman, but dead as she is, thou mayst embrace her sufficiently, whereupon I took my servant with me, who dug her up by night. Having opened the coffin and locked her in my arms, I found some little motion in her heart, which increased from my warmth, till I perceived she was indeed alive. I quietly bore her home, and after I had warmed her chilled body with a costly bath of herbs, I committed her to my mother until she brought forth a fair son, whom I caused faithfully to be nursed. After two days (she being then in a mighty amazement) I discovered to her all the affair, requesting that for the time to come she would live with me as a wife, against which she excepted thus, in case it should be grievous to her husband, who had maintained her well and honourably, but if it could otherwise be, she was the present obliged in love to one as well as the other. After two months (being then to make a journey elsewhere) I invited her husband as a guest, and amongst other things demanded of him whether if his deceased wife should come home again he could be content to receive her, and he affirming it with tears and lamentations, I brought him his wife and son, recounting all the fore-passed business, and intreating him to ratifie with his consent my fore-purposed espousals. After a long dispute he could not beat me from my right, but was fain to leave me the wife. But still the contest was about the son." Here the Virgin interrupted him and said: -- "It makes me wonder how you could double the afflicted man's grief." Upon this there arose a dispute amongst us, the most part affirming he had done but right. "Nay," said he, "I freely returned him both his wife and son. Now tell me, my lords, was my honesty or this man's joy the greater?" These words so mightily cheared the Virgin that she caused a health to go round, after which other proposals went on somewhat perplexedly, so that I could not retain them all; yet this comes to my mind, that one told how a few years before he had seen a physitian, who bought a parcel of wood against winter, with which he warmed himself all winter long; but as soon as spring returned he sold the very same wood again, and so had the use of it for nothing. "Here must needs be skill," said the Virgin, "but the time is now past." "Yea," replyed my companion, "whoever understands how to resolve all the riddles may give notice of it by a proper messenger; I conceive he will not be denied." At this time they began to say grace, and we arose altogether from the table rather satisfied and merry than glutted; it were to be wished that all invitations and feastings were thus kept. Having taken some few turns up and down the hall, the Virgin asked us whether we desired to begin the wedding. "Yes," said one, "noble and vertuous lady;" whereupon she privately dispatched a Page, and, meantime, proceeded in discourse with us. In brief, she was become so familiar that I adventured and requested her Name. The Virgin smiled at my curiosity, and replyed: -- "My name contains five and fifty, and yet hath only eight letters; the third is the third part of the fifth, which added to the sixth will produce a number, whose root shall exceed the third itself by just the first, and it is the half of the fourth. Now the fifth and seventh are equal, the last and first also equal, and make with the second as much as the sixth hath, which contains four more than the third tripled. Now tell me, my lord, how am I called?"
The answer was intricate enough, yet I left not off, but said: -- "Noble and vertuous Lady, may I not obtain one only letter?" "Yea," said she, "that may well be done. "What, then," I proceeded, "may the seventh contain?" "It contains," said she, "as many as there are lords here." With this I easily found her Name, at which she was well pleased, saying that much more should yet be revealed to us. Meantime certain virgins had made themselves ready, and came in with great ceremony. Two youths carried lights before them, one of whom was of jocond countenance, sprightly eyes, and gentile proportion, while the other lookt something angerly, and whatever he would have must be, as I afterwards perceived. Four Virgins followed them; one looked shamefully towards the earth; the second also was a modest, bashful Virgin; the third, as she entered, seemed amazed at somewhat, and, as I understood, she cannot well abide where there is too much mirth. The fourth brought with her certain small wreaths, to manifest her kindness and liberality. After these four came two somewhat more gloriously apparelled; they saluted us courteously. One of them had a gown of skeye-colour, spangled with golden stars: the other's was green, beautified with red and white stripes. On their heads they had thin flying white tiffaties, which did most becomingly adorn them. At last came one alone, wearing a coronet, and rather looking up towards heaven than towards earth. We all took her for the Bride, but were much mistaken, although in honour, riches, and state she much surpassed the bride, and afterwards ruled the whole Wedding. On this occasion we all followed our Virgin, and fell on our knees; howbeit, she shewed herself extreamly humble, offering each her hand, and admonishing us not to be too much surprized at this, which was one of her smallest bounties, but to lift up our eyes to our Creator and acknowledge his Omnipotency, and so proceed in our enterprised course, employing this grace to the praise of God and the good of man. In sum her words were quite different from those of our Virgin, who was somewhat more worldly. They pierced even through my bones and marrow. "Thou," said she further to me, "hast received more than others; see that thou also make a larger return."
This to me was a very strange sermon, for as soon as we saw the Virgins with the musick, we imagined we should fall to dancing. Now the Weights stood still in the same place, wherefore the Queen (I yet know not who she was) commanded each Virgin to take up one, but to our Virgin she gave her own, which was the largest, and commanded us to follow behind. Our majesty was then somewhat abated, for I observed that our Virgin was but too good for us, and that we were not so highly reputed as we ourselves were almost willing to phantsie. We were brought into the first Chamber, where our Virgin hung up the Queen's weight, during which an excellent spiritual hymn was sung. There was nothing costly in this room save certain curious little Prayer-Books which should never be missing. In the midst was a pulpit, convenient for prayer, where in the Queen kneeled down, and about her we also were fain to kneel and pray after the Virgin, who read out of a book, that this Wedding might tend to the honour of God, and our own benefit. We then came into the second chamber, where the first Virgin hung up her weight also, and so forward till all the ceremonies were finished, upon which the Queen again presented her hand to every one, and departed with her Virgins. Our president staied awhile with us, but because it had been already two hours night she would then no longer detain us, and, though methought she was glad of our company, she bid us good night, wishing us quiet rest. Our Pages were well instructed, and shewed every man his chamber, staying with us in another pallet, in case we wanted any thing. My chamber was royally furnished with rare tapistries, and hung about with paintings; but above all things I was delighted in my Page, who was so excellently spoken, and experienced in the arts, that he yet spent me another hour, and it was half an hour after three when I fell asleep. This was the first night that I slept in quiet, and yet a scurvy dream would not suffer me to rest, for I was troubled with a Door which I could not get open, though at last I did so. With these phantasies I passed the time, till at length, towards day, I awaked.