pb 219 vSir Espan de Lyon, in whose company I had arrived, went up to the castle to discuss his affairs with the count. He found him in his gallery, as he had dined at that time, or a little while before, for it is or was in those days the count's habit, as it had been since his childhood, to sleep until the early afternoon, and to take supper at midnight. The knight told him that I had arrived. He immediately sent for me to be fetched from my hostelry, for he was - and remains, if he is still alive - more interested than most in meeting strangers and hearing their news. When he saw me he gave me a warm welcome and made me a member of his own household where I stayed for over twelve weeks, with my horses fed and well tended in every way.
What strengthened our acquaintance during this time was that I had brought with me a book which I had compiled at the request of and to gratify my lord Wenceslaus of Bohemia, duke of Luxembourg and Brabant. Contained in this book, entitled Meliador, are all of the songs, ballads, rondeaux and virelays the noble duke composed in his lifetime. Thanks to the imaginative way in which I had arranged these works in the book, they pleased the count enormously; and every night after supper I would read some to him. While I was reading, nobody dared breathe a word, for he wished me to be heard distinctly and also took great pleasure in being able to hear it well. When he found something he wished to dispute or discuss, he was most eager to talk it over with me, not in his native Gascon, but in exceptional and elegant French. I will say something about his way of life and that of his household, since I was there long enough to learn a considerable amount about it.
Count Gaston of Foix was about fifty-nine years old at the time I was with him. I can tell you that although I have seen many knights, kings, princes and other such people in my life, I have never seen one so finely built and well-proportioned, or with so handsome a face, high-coloured and smiling, with clear blue-grey eyes which shone with affection on what or whomsoever he chose to cast his gaze. He was so accomplished in every way that it would be impossible to praise him too highly. He loved what should be loved and hated whatever deserved his hatred. He was an astute nobleman, full of serious enterprise and good counsel, who never stood for wicked people to be in his presence. He ruled with great wisdom and honesty, and said frequent prayers every day: the Psalter at night, the Little Office of Our Lady, the Hours of the Holy Spirit and of the Cross, and the Office for the Dead. Every day he had five francs in small coins given away for the love of God, and these alms were handed out at his door to all kinds of people. He was generous and munificent with gifts, and knew exactly how to take from the right source and to distribute where there was need. He loved dogs above all other animals and was very fond of hunting in the fields, come summer or winter. He took great pleasure in arms and in love, but was never an admirer of foolish extravagance and required a monthly account of his wealth. He would choose twelve distinguished men of his country to receive his rents and administer his people. For every period of two months, two of them worked in his receiving office and at the end of those two months they were relieved and two others took their place in the office. He made the most exceptional of them all, in whom he trusted the most, his comptroller. All of the others were responsible for providing this person with the accounts of their receipts. pb 220 r