Chapter 5:

How the judges commanded Merlin's mother to enter a room

Then the judges came and said to her, "Lady, prepare to receive martyrdom for the adultery you committed."

And they commanded her to be put in a room and to be given two other children who would study with hers, to see if he would speak with them. And once she was in the room, the judges went in there, and found her giving suck to her son, and said to her, "Lady, who is the father of this child? Do not hold back, for it will not serve you at all nor will you escape if you refuse to tell us."

"Lords," she said, "I see my death clearly, but may God never have mercy on my soul if I ever saw or met the father, nor have I ever been with a man knowingly."

They said that they had never heard such a thing nor could it be the truth, and it was right that they do justice upon her for that. Then Merlin left her arms and said to her, "Mother, do not be afraid, for you do not merit death."

And he said to the judges: "You cannot burn her, for she did nothing to earn it; for if you did justice upon all men who lie with other women than their wives, and all the women who lie with other men than their husbands, half the people now alive would be given up to justice; and the other women bear guilt for what they have done and my mother does not."

"This has no force," said one of the judges, "for unless you tell us who your father was, she will be burnt."

Merlin said: "Certes, she does not know who my father is; but I know better who my father is than you do yours, and your mother knows better who your father is than my mother does mine."

And when the judge heard this, he became angry and said, "If you know that my mother did such a thing, prove it, and I will judge her."

And Merlin said: "If you choose to judge your mother, I will say so much that all will see she merits death more than mine."

When the judge heard this, he was quite angry and said, "I agree to this, but if you do not prove it, I will burn you and your mother."

"I do not fear," said Merlin, "that you will burn her or me, while I live."

Then the judge sent for his mother, and took the mother and child from the room, and the judge said, "You see here my mother. Now tell us what you promised us to tell."

And the child said to him, "You are not as prudent as you think; take your mother and a friend you trust and go into a room apart, and I will take my mother and my master, and we will go in with you."

The judge agreed to it and all entered a room, just as Merlin had said. The judge said, "Now say what you want about my mother, and explain why yours ought to be acquitted."

The child answered: "I will say nothing about why my mother should be acquitted, if it is the will of God that she die; but, if you believe me, you will leave my mother be and stop asking questions of your own mother, since it will involve your honor."

And the judge said: "You will not escape thus with your pretty words. You must tell what you promised."

When the child heard this he said: "You assure me that, if I defend my mother, we will be quits?"

"Yes," said the judge, "and we are here assembled to hear what you will say."

And the child said: "You want to burn my mother because she does not know who my father is, but I can say better who my father is than you can yours, and your mother can better tell whose son you are than mine can whose son I am."

Then the judge said to his mother, "What, mother? I am not the son of your husband, my dear father?"

And his mother said to him, "Well, whose son are you then, if not my lord husband's, may he live in glory?"

Then the child answered and said with great dignity: "Lady, you must tell the truth, since you cannot hold it back, if your son does not acquit my mother."

"It will serve you nothing," said the judge.

Merlin when he heard that answered very angrily and said, "Ah, judge, you will win something now, since you will find your father alive through the testimony of your mother, though you still think him dead."

And when those who were there heard, they were amazed to hear such a thing, for the husband of that lady had died long before, but those there at that moment could not believe what the child said was true, and laughed at him. And Merlin, seeing what they all said and did, said, "Lady, you amaze me, because you delay. You must tell your son who his father was."

And the lady crossed herself and said to him: "By Satan the devil, haven't I already told you?"

And the child said in a loud voice: "You know truly that he is the son of a consecrated priest, and now you will tell us the proofs."

And he turned against the lady and said to her: "And do you not know that the first time you lay with him, you were very afraid of getting pregnant, and he then told you that he could never impregnate a woman? And he wrote down how many times he lay with you, and in that time your husband was ill, and it was not long after that before you felt yourself to be pregnant, and told that to the priest. Lady, is not what I say true? And if you do not want to realize it, I will tell you, so that you will be certain. And it is true that when you became pregnant, you told the priest, and the priest told your husband in confession to lie with you because it would be beneficial for his illness; and so he did and he lay with you, and thus you made him understand that the child was his, and from then on you lived with the priest secretly, and even tonight he slept with you."

And when the mother of the judge heard this, she was very troubled, for she saw that she had to tell the truth. And the judge said to her:"Mother, tell me if this is so, for I am your son, and I will act as a son to you."

She said: "Ah, son, in God's name, have mercy, since I cannot hide from you that all is just as he said."

When the judge heard this, he said: "This child told us the truth, that he has known his father better than I have mine, and it is not right that I do justice to his mother, if I do not do it to mine. But, in God's name and in order to save your mother, tell me before the people who your father was."

The child said: "I will tell you this, and more for love of you than in fear of you. I want you to know and believe that I am the son of a devil whose name is Onquevezes who tricked my mother, and he is of a company which goes about in the air, and God wished that I should have knowledge and memory of things done and said and of those to come, and I know them all."

When the child had said this to the judge, he took him aside and said to him, "I will tell you a secret in private. Your mother will go from here to tell the priest what I said to you, and when the priest finds out that you know, he will flee for fear of you, and the devil whose works he always did will lead him to water and kill him, and through this you can prove whether I know things which are to come."

Then they left the room and went before the people, and the judge said, "I tell you now that the mother of this boy is acquitted, for the reason that I have never seen a man as wise as is this child."

And so was the mother of the judge guilty and the mother of Merlin saved. And Merlin stayed with the judge and the judge sent his mother away with two men, to see if what the child said was the truth. And the mother of the judge then talked with the priest as soon as she got to her house, and recounted all that had befallen her with Merlin. And the priest, when he found out, was so afraid of the judge, that he determined to absent himself, and fled the village, which he no longer wished to tend, and arrived at a river, and said it was better to kill himself there than to die some evil death at the hands of the judge. And so the devil kills those who do his works, since he can give them no other reward.

And when the judge's men saw this, they returned to their lord and told him all they had seen. And when the judge heard this, Merlin said, laughing, "Now you can believe I told you the truth, and I beg you to tell Blaise exactly what I told you."

And the judge told it all, and Merlin and his mother and Blaise went where they wished. And the holy man Blaise, when he saw that the child was no older than nineteen months and three weeks, marvelled whence such great knowledge came to him. And Blaise began to test him in many ways, and Merlin said to him, "The more you test me, the more you will marvel. But do and believe what I tell you, for I will teach you to see the love of God and everlasting happiness."

And Blaise answered him: "I heard you say, and I believe, that you are the son of the devil, and I am afraid you will deceive me."

And Merlin said to him: "It is the custom of all evil hearts, that they lie about evil before they lie about good, and just as you heard me say I was the son of the devil, you also heard said that the sovereign God gave me the power to know things which are to come; and through this you would understand, if you were lettered, that I should therefore rely on it: I know what is to my benefit or my ill. And the devils took pains to work to their benefit through me, but that may not be, for they devised an evil accord and stuck their fingers in a pie that wasn't theirs; but if they were wise, they would have begotten me in my grandmother, and thus I could never have known God, for she was very evil and perverse, and believes more in devils and their works than the contrary; and I will tell you something which you will be sure that no one else could have told you, that you will write a book such that those who hear it will praise you and keep themselves from sin."

Blaise was quite amazed at the secrets Merlin told him when he heard this, and still felt a very great fear that he might deceive him. And he said to him, "I conjure you by God that you will not trick me nor do anything which will be to the displeasure of God."

When he heard this Merlin answered and said, "May God ruin all my affairs, if I do anything to you which will not be to God's pleasure."

And the holy man Blaise answered: "Then tell me now what I should do, and I will do it with the greatest willingness and with much love."

And Merlin said, "Look for parchment and ink and I will tell you something that no other man could tell you, and I will recount to you the death of Jesus Christ our redeemer, and the actions of Joseph and Josephus, all as it happened to them, and all the deeds of Lain and Perron, and how Joseph gave Lain the Holy Grail, and how he ended. And how the Holy Grail remained in the castle of Corberique in the house of the Fisher King, and how the devils took counsel and agreed they would make a man so that through that man they could remedy the despoilment that Jesus Christ, our Savior, did in their hell, and how, evil and without knowledge that they are, they did not know what they were doing, and if you learn of the work it took them and the subterfuge they employed to trick my mother, you would marvel, and I beg you to regard the things I will soon tell you with all attention.