Helena is the orphaned daughter of the greatest doctor of the age, Gerard de Narbon, who left her many of his recipes for cures and much of his skill.
Left to the care of the dowager Countess of Roussillion, she is brought up with all accomplishments. She falls desperately in love with the young Count, Bertram, whom has little to say to her. His departure to court brings her to weeping, though she recovers enough to be able to trade witticisms on the subject of virginity with the braggart Parolles, whom she knows to be a shamelessly thorough liar but whose company she enjoys for that very reason. A determined girl who knows the ways of the world, she keenly feels the difference in rank between herself and Bertram, but decides that if she managed to cure the King of his debilitating illness, he would reward her by allowing her to choose a husband among the lords of his court. She does not realize that she has been overheard speaking to herself about her love for Bertram, and is thus not prepared when the Countess ambushes her and cajoles her into admitting her feelings. By laying her life on the line, she convinces the King to let her attempt to cure him. Succeeding, she claims her reward, but is shocked to silence when Bertram refuses her, and attempts to keep the King from forcing him into wedlock with her. Married nevertheless, she becomes almost obsequiously obedient, though pestering him for at least a farewell kiss before he leaves her. Receiving a letter like a slap in the face from Bertram, she is distraught, and horrified that he has gone to the war where he may be killed, as she thinks because of her. She sneaks away in the night, reporting that she is gone on a pilgrimage, in the hopes that the news will bring Bertram home. She tracks him down to Florence, where she hears that he is attempting to seduce a young lady she meets. Seeing an opportunity, she arranges to have the girl accept to receive Bertram at night and to get the ring from his finger. She replaces Diana in the bed that night, and in the dark Bertram does not notice the difference. Impregnated, she has thus fulfilled his conditions, and she brings Diana and her mother along with her as she returns to the French court to prove that she has done so. Having had Bertram’s lies publicly exposed before the King, she attempts to be reconciled with him.