Flemish Legend The Three Sisters by Charles de Coster Chapter 3

Wherein it is seen how Satan persecutes those ladies who seek to escape from the world

There were oftentimes a great crowd of suitors before the dwelling of the three ladies, some of them sighing laments, others prancing up and down on fine horses, others without uttering a word, but only looking up at the windows all the day long.

And oftentimes these men would fight together and kill one another, from jealousy. At this the ladies were saddened exceedingly.

“Ah,” said the two elder to their sister, “pray for us, white Blanche, white of soul and white of body, pray for us, little one. Jesus listens readily to the prayers of such maids as thou art.”

“My sisters,” answered she, “I am less worthy than you, but I will pray, if you so wish it.”

“Yes,” said they.

Then the three sisters knelt down, and the youngest prayed in this manner:

“Kind Jesus, we have sinned against you assuredly, else you would not have let our beauty so touch these wicked men. Yes, we have indeed sinned, but, weaklings that we are, despite ourselves, Lord. Ah, grant us pardon for our great sorrow. You would have us for your own, and so indeed we have kept ourselves: our youth and beauty, mirth and sadness, vows and prayers, souls and bodies, thoughts and deeds, everything. In the morning, at noon, and at vesper-time, at all hours and all moments, do we not have you in our minds? When your bright sun rises, O beloved, and no less when your bright stars shine in your heaven, they can see us at prayer, and offering to you, not gold, frankincense, or myrrh, but our humble loves and our poor hearts. That is not enough, we know well. Dear one, teach us to do more.”

Pausing here they sighed sorrowfully, all three.

“Kind Jesus,” went on the youngest sister, “we know well enough the desire of these men. They think themselves brave and handsome, and hope on this account to capture our love, but they are neither handsome, nor brave, nor good, as you are, Jesus. And yours we are and shall be always, and theirs never. Will you please to love us also a little, for you alone are our comfort and joy in this sad world, Jesus? We will not be unfaithful to you in anything. Ah, let us rather die quickly, for we hunger and thirst for you. If you will, let these evil men continue to pursue us with their loves, ’twill be but delight to suffer it for your sake. Nevertheless, the mortal husband leaves not his wife in danger, nor the betrothed his bride. Are you not better than they, and will you not keep us also from the snares of the enemy? If it be not pleasing to you, do nothing, but then it may be that one day some one will steal from us our virginity, which is yours only. Ah, dear beloved, rather let us pass our lives old, ugly, leprous, and then descend into purgatory, among devils, flame, and brimstone, there to wait until you deem us pure enough at length to take us into your Paradise, where we shall be allowed to see you and love you for ever. Have pity upon us. Amen.”

And having spoken thus, the poor child wept, and her sisters with her, saying: “Pity, Jesus, pity.”