"What is the thing that women most desire? Beware the axe and say as I require. "
"Fun in bed!"
"Jollity and pleasure!"
During the daytime, a young knight comes across a beautiful maiden and rapes her.
"...and swear to do whatever I shall require of you- If so to do lie within your might- And you shall know the answer before night."
The court declares that the knight should be put to death for his actions, but the queen decides a new punishment for him in which he must discover what women most desire in a years time.
The sorrowful knight sets out to find his answer and asks many women who respond with different answers. He is unable to find two women who agree on what a woman desires the most.
"Gentility is only renown for bounty that your fathers handed down, quite foreign to your person, not your own; Gentility must come from God alone."
When he is close to the day of judgement, the knight rides towards the forest and comes across a large group of ladies dancing. They quickly disappear and are replaced by an ugly old hag, who learns of the knight's quest. The hag states that the knight must promise himself to her in return for her help if he wants to live.
The knight tells the queen that what women most desire is to be in charge of their husbands and lovers. After the queen decides to spare his life, the old hag forces the knight to fulfill his promise and marry her. The private wedding takes place and lacks rejoicings.
"A woman wants the self-same sovereignty, over her husband as over her lover, And master him; he must not be above her."
The old hag asks why the knight is so upset, and he responds by telling her he is stuck in this marriage with an old woman who is extremely ugly. The hag responds by reminding him that virtue comes from the heart and is not determined by lineage position. She gives him the option of herself being ugly and faithful, or young and coquettish. The knight trusts her judgement, causing the old hag to become both young and beautiful.