It is no disgrace to them to be Gowty; because when other men knowit not, they alledge, that strict fasting, feeding on grosse Meates(though never so little,) continuall studying, and such likerestraints from the bodies freer exercise, maketh them subject to manyinfirmities. And yet, when any one of them chanceth to fall sicke, thePhysitian must minister no such counsell to them, as Chastity,Abstinence from voluptuous meats, Discipline of the body, or any ofthose matters appertaining to a modest religious life. For, concerningthe plaine, vulgar, and Plebeian people, these holy Fathers areperswaded, that they know nothing really belonging to asanctimonious life; as long watching, praying, discipline and fasting,which (in themselves) are not able, to make men look leane,wretched, and pale. Because Saint Dominicke, Saint Fraunces, anddivers other holy Saints beside, observed the selfesame religiousorders and constitutions, as now their carefull successors do.Moreover, in example of those fore-named Saints, who went welcloathed, though they had not three Garments for one, nor made ofthe finest Woollen excellent cloath: but rather of the very coarsestof all other, and of the common ordinary colour, to expell cold onely,but not to appear brave or gallant, deceyving thereby infinitesimple credulous soules, whose purses (neverthelesse) are their bestpay-masters.
But leave we this, and returne wee backe to vertuous FryarReynard, who falling again& to his former appetites; became an oftenvisitant of his Gossip Agnesia, and now hee had learned such ablushlesse kinde of boldnesse; that he durst be more instant withher (concerning his privie sute) then ever formerly he had bin, yeaeven to solicite the enjoying of his immodest desires. The goodGentlewoman, seeing her selfe so importunately pursued, and FriarReynard appearing now (perhappes) of sweeter and more delicatecomplexion, the at his entrance into Religion: at a set time of hissecret communing with her; she answered him in as apt tearmes, as theyuse to do, who are not greatly sqeamish, in granting mattersdemanded of them. headband with hair
Why how now Friar Reynard? quoth shee, Doe Godfathers use to movesuch questions? Whereto the Friar thus replyed. Madam, when I havelaide off this holy habite (which is a matter very easie for mee todo) I shall seeme in your eye, in all respects made like anotherman, quite from the course of any Religious life. Agnesia, bitingthe lip with a prety smile, said; O my faire Starres! You will neverbee so unfriendly to me. What? You being my Gossip, would you haveme consent unto such a sinne? Our blessed Lady shield mee, for myghostly Father hath often told me, that it is utterly unpardonable:but if it were, I feare too much confiding on mine owne strength.Gossip, the Friar, you speake like a Foole, and feare (in this case)is wholly frivolous, especially, when the motions mooved by such anone as my selfe, who (upon repentance) can grant you pardon andindulgence presently. But I pray you let mee aske you one question,Who is the neerest Kinsman to your Son; either I, that stood at theFont for his Baptisme, or your Husband that begot him? The Lady madeanswere, that it was her Husband. You say very true Gossip, replyedthe Friar, and yet notwithstanding, doth not your Husband (both atboord and bed) enjoy the sweet benefit of your company? Yes, saidthe Lady, why shold he not? Then Lady (quoth Reynard) I, who am not soneere a Kinsman to your Sonne, as your Husband is, why may ye notafford mee the like favour, as you do him? Agnesia, who was noLogitian, and therefore could not stand on any curious answer,especially being so cuningly moved; beleeved, or rather made shew ofbeleeving, that the Godfather said nothing but truth, and thusanswered. What woman is she (Gossip) that knoweth how to answer yourstrange speeches? And, how it came to passe, I know not, but such anagreement passed betweene them, that, for once onely (so it mightnot infrindge the league of Gossip-ship, but that title to countenancetheir further intent) such a favour should be affoorded, so it mightstand cleare from suspition.
An especiall time being appointed, when this amorous Combateshould be fought in loves field, Friar Reynard came to his Gossipshouse, where none being present to hinder his purpose, but onely theNursse which attended on the child, who was an indifferent faire andproper woman: his holy brother that came thither in his company(because Friars were not allowed to walke alone) was sent aside withher into the Pigeon loft, to enstruct her in a new kinde of Paternoster, lately devised in their holy Convent. In the meane while, asFriar Reynard and Agnesia were entring into hir chamber, she leadingher little son by the hand, and making fast the doore for their bettersafety: the Friar laide by his holie habit, Cowle, Hood, Booke, andBeads, to bee (in all respects) as other men were. No sooner were theythus entred the Chamber, but her husband Credulano, being come intothe house, and unseen of any, staid not till he was at the Chamberdoore, where hee knockt, and called for his Wife.
She hearing his voice: Alas Gossip (quoth she) what shall I do? MyHusband knocketh at the doore, and now he will perceive the occasionof our so familiar acquaintance. Reynard being stript into hisTrusse and straite Strouses, began to tremble and quake exceedingly. Iheare your Husbands tongue Gossip, said he, and seeing no harme as yethath bin done, if I had but my garments on againe; wee would haveone excuse or other to serve the turne, but till then you may not openthe doore. As womens wits are sildome gadding abroad, when anynecessitie concerneth them at home: even so Agnesia, being sodainlyprovided of an invention, both how to speake and carry her selfe inthis extreamitie, saide to the Friar. Get on your garments quickely,and when you are cloathed, take your little God-son in your armes, andlistning wel what I shall say, shape your answeres according to mywords, and then refer the matter to me. Credulano had scarsely endedhis knocking, but Agnesia stepping to the doore said: Husband, Icome to you. So she opened the doore, and (going forth to him) witha chearefull countenance thus spake. Beleeve me Husband, you could nothave come in a more happy time, for our yong Son was sudainlyextreamly sicke, and (as good Fortune would have it) our loving GossipReynard chanced to come in; and questionlesse, but by his good prayersand other religious paynes, we had utterly lost our childe, for he hadno life left in him.
Credulano, being as credulous as his name imported, seemed readyto swoune with sodaine conceit: Alas good wife (quoth he) how hapnedthis? Sit downe sweet Husband said she, and I wil tell you al. Ourchild was sodainly taken with a swouning, wherein I being unskilful,did verily suppose him to be dead, not knowing what to doe, or say. Bygood hap, our Gossip Reynard came in, and taking the childe up inhis armes, said to me. Gossip, this is nothing else but Wormes inthe bellie of the childe, which ascending to the heart, must needskill the child, without all question to the contrary. But be of goodcomfort Gossip, and feare not, for I can charme them in such sort,that they shall all die, and before I depart hence, you shall see yourSon as healthfull as ever. And because the maner of this charm is ofsuch nature, that it required prayer and exorcising in two places atonce: Nurse went up with his Holye Brother into our Pigeon loft, toexercise their devotion there, while we did the like heere. For nonebut the mother of the childe must bee present at such a mystery, norany enter to hinder the operation of the charme; which was thereason of making fast the Chamber doore. You shall see Husband anonthe Childe, which is indifferently recovered in his armes, and ifNurse and his holy Brother were returned from theyr meditations; hesaith, that the charme would then be fully effected: for the childbeginneth to looke chearefull and merry.
So deerely did Credulano love the childe, that hee verilybeleeved, what his Wife had saide, never misdoubting any othertreachery: and, lifting up his eyes, with a vehement sigh, said. Wife,may not I goe in and take the child into my armes? Oh no, not yet goodhusband (quoth she) in any case, least you should overthrow all thatis done. Stay but a little while, I will go in againe, and if allbee well, then will I call you. In went Agnesia againe, making thedoore fast after her, the Fryar having heard all the passedspeeches, by this time he was fitted with his habite, and taking thechilde in his armes, he said to Agnesia. Gossip methought I heard yourHusbands voice, is hee at your Chamber doore? Yes Gossip Reynard(quoth Credulano without, while Agnesia opened the doore, and admittedhim entrance) indeede it is I. Come in Sir, I pray you, replyed theFriar, and heere receive your childe of mee, who was in greatdanger, of your ever seeing him any more alive. But you must takeorder, to make an Image of waxe, agreeing with the stature of thechilde, to be placed on the Altar before the Image of S. Frances, bywhose merites the childe is thus restored to health.
The childe, beholding his Father, made signes of comming to him,rejoycing merrily, as yong infants use to do, and Credulano claspinghim in his armes, wept with conceite of joy, kissing him infinitely,and heartily thanking his Gossip Reynard, for the recovery of hisGod-son. The Friars brotherly Companion, who had given sufficientenstructions to the Nurse, and a small purse full of Sisters whitethred, which a Nunne (after shrift) had bestowed on him, upon thehusbands admittance into the Chamber (which they easily heard) came inalso to them, and seeing all in very good tearmes, they holpe tomake a joyfull conclusion, the Brother saying to Friar Reynard:Brother, I have finished all those foure jaculatory prayers, which youcommanded me.
Brother, answered Reynard, you have a better breath then I, and yoursuccesse hath prooved happier then mine, for before the arrivall of myGossip Credulano, I could accomplish but two jaculatory prayers onely.But it appeareth, that we have both prevailed in our devout desire,because the childe is perfectly cured. Credulano calling for Wineand good cheare, feasted both the Friars very jocondly, and thenconducting them forth of his house, without any furtherintermission, caused the childs Image of waxe to be made, and sentit to be placed on the Altar of Saint Frances, among many other thelike oblations.