Chapter 2:

How the old woman returned to speak with the damsel, in the disguise already mentioned, and concluded what she wished

When the day came on which the evil old woman was to come and speak with the damsel, she prepared the most clear and circumspect arguments that she could, as the devil had taught her, and arrived at the damsel's lodging; she found the damsel there with plenty of time for them to talk together, because there were many neighbor ladies in the house who had come to visit them that day, and the elder sister was busy talking to them. And when she saw the old woman, she changed her clothes as they had agreed and went down to receive her, and with much pleasure they embraced and each began to ask the other how she had been during the time they had not seen each other, and they went to the house they had spoken of to talk, and the old woman sat down in a chair, and they returned to what had been begun. And the damsel said, "Certes, my mother, I have thought with all seriousness about this our deed, and I do not see any way I could do it without peril of my body."

"I have already said to you, daughter, that there were a thousand remedies for this, which would have kept your sister from peril if she had known them. You already know the law which is held to in this land, and he who decreed it thought that he did harm to women, and instead did us much honor; since, certes, when a woman is subject to one man her whole life is in terrible captivity, so enjoying many instead of only one is much better, and one could say that when one is loved by many because each loves only a little, then ten love as much as one can. And in addition to this, she who is served by many is much better served than she served by one, and she has a better eye out for her livelihood and can live more at her pleasure, because she has the liberty to do what she wants with herself and other benefits as well, so many that I could not explain all of them to you. And I know that once you find yourself thus you will be disturbed that you did not begin earlier. So, my daughter, follow these orders to give yourself all kinds of men and you will enjoy what I have told you of, and you will be secure from all justice, since it can demand nothing of you. And afterwards, long after you have thus enjoyed your lovely body, you can get married with the riches you will have earned."

The damsel said, "Ah, my mother! Blessed be the hour you were born, since you have counselled me so well."

And then she left her sister's house, as the evil old woman had commanded her, and from there she had many youths come to her and they used her for their desires without any naysaying. Oh, how happy was the devil, because he knew that his deed was already almost complete!

When the elder sister knew how her younger had thus damned herself, she was the saddest of the sad and made the greatest dole that any woman had ever made, and for consolation of her ills she took no other remedy than going to the good man Blaise. And as he saw her come so sadly, he asked her why she was so upset. The damsel told him with much anxiety and many tears all that had befallen in the damnation of her sister. When he heard it, he was very frightened and infinitely grieved by it, and he said, "Certes, the devil still walks in pursuit of you, and he will not stop until you damn yourself completely, if God's hand does not remedy it."

She asked him, "Ah, sir, and how can I guard myself, who have no other fear in the world than being deceived?"

Blaise answered, "If you believe in me, you will not be deceived."

"I do believe, certainly," she said, "and I will do what you command me with all obedience."

Then the good man took thought to ask her some questions about the articles of the sacred faith, for he thought that since the devil had power over that house, she ought to have some fault in belief deep-rooted in her heart, and he said to her, "You, daughter, do you believe firmly and without any scruples in the divine faith?"

She said, "Yes, certainly."

He asked her, "Do you believe in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Ghost, who are three persons and one sole God in unity?"

"Yes, certainly, and I believe it very rightly."

"Do you believe that in order to save the sinners our Redeemer Jesus Christ came in the virginal womb of our Lady, and took human form, and being God and man suffered death, and was made the salvation of all the sinners who wish to be Christian?"

"Thus I believe," she said.

Blaise said, "Now confess yourself to me of all the things in which you find you have offended God."

The damsel, with much repentance and pouring out tears, did so. Blaise absolved her and he admonished her thus, "Be sure you guard yourself from falling into sin or hardening against God; and every time you find yourself in trouble come to me and tell me; and say the credo when you go to bed at night, because the articles of our sacred Catholic faith are enclosed in it; and make the sign of the cross and cross yourself; and if you know some devoted prayer of our Lady, say it with all devotion, and be sure that she will guard you; and keep a candle lit all night, since there is nothing the devil flees faster from than light wherever it may be."

And thus the damsel turned back to her house very devotedly, holding in her soul with much veneration all the admonitions that Blaise had made to her.

And after some days had passed, her neighbors visited and consoled her, and admonished her to marry, since she would be much better off not being there alone, to which she responded that God in his clemency would advise her how she might best serve Him; and thus for a good two years the devil could never trick her, because of which he made great dole and sought all the ways he could complete his deed, since already he only had to contend with her. And among many things he pondered, he found nothing more suitable than to go one day to her sister, and suggest to her memory to go see her elder sister, and that she should go accompanied by many youths, and tell her that she had gone there to live with her, since the elder sister's house was as good as the younger's, and that this would anger the elder so much that it would make her forget what the good man had taught her. And the younger sister put in action just what the devil thought, for he had her so eager that she did not depart from his will. And she came one Saturday accompanied by many young men, and when her sister saw her, she was as sad and angry as she could be, and she said to her, "Ah, sister, while you live such a life, you shouldn't have come where I am, because you are full of demons, and you bring hatred to the house."

The younger sister, when she heard this, answered with great ire and said that the elder sister had demons, but she herself ran a bawdy-house; and that she, if she did evil, at least did it so that all knew of it, and that her sister went about with tracts in her hand and the devil in her body and lay with the good man under the guise of coming and going to do penance. These and so many other things that evil woman said that it would make a long story, and the elder sister was so upset that she nearly died, and begged her with great supplication to leave her house. The younger answered that she did not wish to, and that the house was hers as well as her sister's, as was whatever their father had left to them. And when the elder sister saw the younger speak against her so boldly and so shamelessly, she seized her, and, very angry at her, wanted to throw her out. And the other sister, seeing this, told the youths she had taken with her to take her sister and throw her out the window or hang her. When they heard this, they seized her with great ire, and pulled out her hair and treated her so badly that she sought nothing but to escape their hands, and reached her room the worst mistreated that anyone had ever been, and shut the door tighter than usual, and began to cry and make great dole because of the great affront she had received. And sad as she was, the devil brought to her memory the deaths of her father and mother and all the misfortunes that had come to her, and she felt such great pain and dole in her heart that she fell asleep without the candle and without doing any of the observances which the old man had shown her. And the devil, when he saw her sleep thus forgetting all that the good holy man had shown and admonished her to do, was greatly pleased and seeing her thus transgressing, he thought to himself that now she was completely beyond God's guard and he had a chance to make in her what he had worked so hard for, and he lay with her, and engendered a child as she slept.

Some will choose to say that no such power was ever given to a devil: that this devil went to a house where a man slept with his wife, and took from him spermatic material, and took it to the damsel right away and put it in the generative place, and that he incited the damsel, sleeping, to that carnal act, and thus was Merlin engendered; however, Vincent de Beauvais, in a tractate of histories he compiled, in the twentieth book, in chapter 30, recounts that Merlin was engendered by the devil, and, making mention of his life and acts, names him prophet by grace of God's will; and also the archbishop Antonio de Florencia, in the second part, in the eleventh volume, in chapter 2, says the same, that Merlin was engendered by the devil.[1] Also many other historians write marvelous things, as much of the birth as of the life of this prophet Merlin, and even title him the worthiest prophet ever, because of how much he knew of things past and to come, as is recounted at greater length in this book.

With great disquiet the damsel awoke and said: "Holy Mary! What is this which has now come to me? For I am not as I was when I went to bed." Then she arose, and searched for him who had lain with her, and found nothing, and went to the door and found it shut. She believed it had been the devil, and felt great dole and commended herself to God. And when the other sister and the young men left, she went out of her room crying, and told a servant to come with her to the good man, whom she did not find at home; so she went to a tower, and found him accompanied by children whom he was teaching to read.

[1] See Introduction for information on these citations.