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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
How an Anchoress was Tempted by the Devil
Gesta Romanorum
 
THERE was a woman some time in the world living that sawe the wretchedness, the sins, and the unstableness that was in the worlde; therefore she left all the worlde, and wente into the deserte, and lived there many years with roots and grasse, and such fruit as she might gete; and dranke water of the welle-spryng, for othere livelihood had she none. Atte laste, when she had longe dwelled there in that place, the Devil in likenesse of a woman, come to this holy woman’s place; and when he come there he knocked at the door. The holy woman come to the door and asked what she would? She saide, “I pray thee, dame, that thou wilt harbor me this night; for this day is at an end, and I am afeard that wild beasts should devour me.” The good woman saide, “For God’s love ye are welcome to me; and take such as God sendeth.” They sat them down together, and the good woman sat and read saints’ lives and other good things, till she come to this writing, “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be caste downe, and burnt in helle.” “That is sooth,” saide the Fiend, “and therefore I am adread; for if we lead oure life alone, therefore we shall have little meed, for when we dwelle alone we profit none but oure self. Therefore it were better, me thinketh, to go and dwelle among folke, for to give example to man and woman dwelling in this worlde. Then shall we have much meed.” When this was saide they went to reste. This good woman thought faste in her heart that she might not sleep nor have no rest, for the thing that the Fiend had said. Anon this woman arose and saide to the other woman, “This night might I have no reste for the words that thou saide yester even. Therefore I wot never what is best to be done for us.” Then the Devil said to her again, “It is best to go forth to profit to othere that shall be glad of oure coming, for that is much more worth than to live alone.” Then saide the woman to the Fiend, “Go we now forthe on oure way, for me thinketh it is not evil to essay.” And when she should go oute at the door, she stood still, and said thus, “Now, sweet Lady, Mother of mercy, and help at all need, now counsell me the beste, and keep me both body and soule from deadly sin.” When she had said these words with good heart and with good will, oure Lady come and laide her hande on her breast, and put her in again, and bade her that she should abide there, and not be led by falsehood of oure Enemy. The Fiend anon went away that she saw him no more there. Then she was full fain that she was kept and not beguiled of her enemy. Then she said on this wise to oure Blessed Lady that is full of mercy and goodnesse, “I thanke thee nowe with all my heart, specially for this keeping and many more that thou hast done to me oft since; and good Lady, keep me from henceforward.” Lo! here may men and women see how ready this good Lady is to help her servants at all their need, when they call to her for help, that they fall not in sin bestirring of the wicked enemy the false Fiend.  1
 
 
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