The Decameron

Day the Fifth

Here Beginneth the Fifth Day of the Decameron Wherein Under the Governance of Fiammetta Is Discoursed of That Which Hath Happily Betided Lovers After Sundry Cruel and Misfortunate Adventures

The East was already all white and the rays of the rising sun had made it light through all our hemisphere, when Fiammetta, allured by the sweet song of the birds that blithely chanted the first hour of the day upon the branches, arose and let call all the other ladies and the three young men; then, with leisured pace descending into the fields, she went a-pleasuring with her company about the ample plain upon the dewy grasses, discoursing with them of one thing and another, until the sun was somewhat risen, when, feeling that its rays began to grow hot, she turned their steps to their abiding-place. There, with excellent wines and confections, she let restore the light fatigue had and they disported themselves in the delightsome garden until the eating hour, which being come and everything made ready by the discreet seneschal, they sat blithely down to meat, such being the queen's pleasure, after they had sung sundry roundelays and a ballad or two. Having dined orderly244 and with mirth, not unmindful of their wonted usance of dancing, they danced sundry short dances to the sound of songs and tabrets, after which the queen dismissed them all until the hour of slumber should be past. Accordingly, some betook themselves to sleep, whilst others addressed themselves anew to their diversion about the fair garden; but all, according to the wonted fashion, assembled together again, a little after none, near the fair fountain, whereas it pleased the queen. Then she, having seated herself in the chief room, looked towards Pamfilo and smilingly charged him make a beginning with the fair-fortuned stories; whereto he willingly addressed himself and spoke as follows:


Day the Fifth


"Many stories, delightsome ladies, apt to give beginning to so glad a day as this will be, offer themselves unto me to be related; whereof one is the most pleasing to my mind, for that thereby, beside the happy issue which is to mark this day's discourses, you may understand how holy, how puissant and how full of all good is the power of Love, which many, unknowing what they say, condemn and vilify with great unright; and this, an I err not, must needs be exceeding pleasing to you, for that I believe you all to be in love.

There was, then, in the island of Cyprus, (as we have read aforetime in the ancient histories of the Cypriots,) a very noble gentleman, by name Aristippus, who was rich beyond any other of the country in all temporal things and might have held himself the happiest man alive, had not fortune made him woeful in one only thing, to wit, that amongst his other children he had a son who overpassed all the other youths of his age in stature and goodliness of body, but was a hopeless dullard and well nigh an idiot. His true name was Galesus, but for that neither by toil of teacher nor blandishment nor beating of his father nor study nor endeavour of whatsoever other had it been found possible to put into his head any inkling of letters or good breeding and that he had a rough voice and an uncouth and manners more befitting a beast than a man, he was of well nigh all by way of mockery called Cimon, which in their tongue signified as much as brute beast in ours. His father brooked his wastrel life with the most grievous concern and having presently given over all hope of245 him, he bade him begone to his country house[263] and there abide with his husbandmen, so he might not still have before him the cause of his chagrin; the which was very agreeable to Cimon, for that the manners and usages of clowns and churls were much more to his liking than those of the townsfolk.

Cimon, then, betaking himself to the country and there employing himself in the things that pertained thereto, it chanced one day, awhile after noon, as he passed from one farm to another, with his staff on his shoulder, that he entered a very fair coppice which was in those parts and which was then all in leaf, for that it was the month of May. Passing therethrough, he happened (even as his fortune guided him thither) upon a little mead compassed about with very high trees, in one corner whereof was a very clear and cool spring, beside which he saw a very fair damsel asleep upon the green grass, with so thin a garment upon her body that it hid well nigh nothing of her snowy flesh. She was covered only from the waist down with a very white and light coverlet; and at her feet slept on like wise two women and a man, her servants. When Cimon espied the young lady, he halted and leaning upon his staff, fell, without saying a word, to gazing most intently upon her with the utmost admiration, no otherwise than as he had never yet seen a woman's form, whilst in his rude breast, wherein for a thousand lessonings no least impression of civil pleasance had availed to penetrate, he felt a thought awaken which intimated to his gross and material spirit that this maiden was the fairest thing that had been ever seen of any living soul. Thence he proceeded to consider her various parts,—commending her hair, which he accounted of gold, her brow, her nose, her mouth, her throat and her arms, and above all her breast, as yet but little upraised,—and grown of a sudden from a churl a judge of beauty, he ardently desired in himself to see the eyes, which, weighed down with deep sleep, she kept closed. To this end, he had it several times in mind to awaken her; but, for that she seemed to him beyond measure fairer than the other women aforetime seen of him, he misdoubted him she must be some goddess. Now he had wit enough to account things divine worthy of more reverence than those mundane; wherefore he forbore, waiting for her to awake of herself; and albeit the delay seemed overlong to him, yet, taken as he was with an unwonted pleasure, he knew not how to tear himself away.

It befell, then, that, after a long while, the damsel, whose name was Iphigenia, came to herself, before any of her people, and opening her eyes, saw Cimon (who, what for his fashion and uncouthness and his father's wealth and nobility, was known in a manner to every one in the country) standing before her, leant on his staff, marvelled exceedingly and said, 'Cimon, what goest thou seeking in this wood at this hour?' He made her no answer, but, seeing her eyes open, began to look steadfastly upon them, himseeming there proceeded thence a sweetness which fulfilled him with a pleasure such as he had never before felt. The young lady, seeing this, began to misdoubt her lest his so fixed looking upon her should246 move his rusticity to somewhat that might turn to her shame; wherefore, calling her women, she rose up, saying, 'Cimon, abide with God.' To which he replied, 'I will begone with thee'; and albeit the young lady, who was still in fear of him, would have declined his company, she could not win to rid herself of him till he had accompanied her to her own house.

Thence he repaired to his father's house [in the city,] and declared to him that he would on no wise consent to return to the country; the which was irksome enough to Aristippus and his kinsfolk; nevertheless they let him be, awaiting to see what might be the cause of his change of mind. Love's arrow having, then, through Iphigenia's beauty, penetrated into Cimon's heart, whereinto no teaching had ever availed to win an entrance, in a very brief time, proceeding from one idea to another, he made his father marvel and all his kinsfolk and every other that knew him. In the first place he besought his father that he would cause him go bedecked with clothes and every other thing, even as his brothers, the which Aristippus right gladly did. Then, consorting with young men of condition and learning the fashions and carriage that behoved unto gentlemen and especially unto lovers, he first, to the utmost wonderment of every one, in a very brief space of time, not only learned the first [elements of] letters, but became very eminent among the students of philosophy, and after (the love which he bore Iphigenia being the cause of all this) he not only reduced his rude and rustical manner of speech to seemliness and civility, but became a past master of song and sound[264] and exceeding expert and doughty in riding and martial exercises, both by land and by sea. In short, not to go recounting every particular of his merits, the fourth year was not accomplished from the day of his first falling in love, ere he was grown the sprightliest and most accomplished gentleman of all the young men in the island of Cyprus, ay, and the best endowed with every particular excellence. What, then, charming ladies, shall we say of Cimon? Certes, none other thing than that the lofty virtues implanted by heaven in his generous soul had been bounden with exceeding strong bonds of jealous fortune and shut in some straitest corner of his heart, all which bonds Love, as a mightier than fortune, broke and burst in sunder and in its quality of awakener and quickener of drowsed and sluggish wits, urged forth into broad daylight the virtues aforesaid, which had till then been overdarkened with a barbarous obscurity, thus manifestly discovering from how mean a room it can avail to uplift those souls that are subject unto it and to what an eminence it can conduct them with its beams.

Although Cimon, loving Iphigenia as he did, might exceed in certain things, as young men in love very often do, nevertheless Aristippus, considering that Love had turned him from a dunce into a man, not only patiently bore with the extravagances into which it might whiles lead him, but encouraged him to ensue its every pleasure. But Cimon, (who refused to be called Galesus, remembering that Iphigenia247 had called him by the former name,) seeking to put an honourable term to his desire, once and again caused essay Cipseus, Iphigenia's father, so he should give him his daughter to wife; but Cipseus still answered that he had promised her to Pasimondas, a young nobleman of Rhodes, to whom he had no mind to fail of his word. The time coming the covenanted nuptials of Iphigenia and the bridegroom having sent for her, Cimon said to himself, 'Now, O Iphigenia, is the time to prove how much thou are beloved of me. By thee am I become a man and so I may but have thee, I doubt not to become more glorious than any god; and for certain I will or have thee or die.'

Accordingly, having secretly recruited certain young noblemen who were his friends and let privily equip a ship with everything apt for naval battle, he put out to sea and awaited the vessel wherein Iphigenia was to be transported to her husband in Rhodes. The bride, after much honour done of her father to the bridegroom's friends, took ship with the latter, who turned their prow towards Rhodes and departed. On the following day, Cimon, who slept not, came out upon them with his ship and cried out, in a loud voice, from the prow, to those who were on board Iphigenia's vessel, saying, 'Stay, strike your sails or look to be beaten and sunken in the sea.' Cimon's adversaries had gotten up their arms on deck and made ready to defend themselves; whereupon he, after speaking the words aforesaid, took a grappling-iron and casting it upon the poop of the Rhodians, who were making off at the top of their speed, made it fast by main force to the prow of his own ship. Then, bold as a lion, he leapt on board their ship, without waiting for any to follow him, as if he held them all for nought, and Love spurring him, he fell upon his enemies with marvellous might, cutlass in hand, striking now this one and now that and hewing them down like sheep.

The Rhodians, seeing this, cast down their arms and all as with one voice confessed themselves prisoners; whereupon quoth Cimon to them, 'Young men, it was neither lust of rapine nor hate that I had against you made me depart Cyprus to assail you, arms in hand, in mid sea. That which moved me thereunto was the desire of a thing which to have gotten is a very grave matter to me and to you a very light one to yield me in peace; it is, to wit, Iphigenia, whom I loved over all else and whom, availing not to have of her father on friendly and peaceful wise, Love hath constrained me to win from you as an enemy and by force of arms. Wherefor I mean to be to her that which your friend Pasimondas should have been. Give her to me, then, and begone and God's grace go with you.'

The Rhodians, more by force constrained than of freewill, surrendered Iphigenia, weeping, to Cimon, who, seeing her in tears, said to her, 'Noble Lady, be not disconsolate; I am thy Cimon, who by long love have far better deserved to have thee than Pasimondas by plighted faith.' Thereupon he caused carry her aboard his own ship and returning to his companions, let the Rhodians go, without touching aught else of theirs. Then, glad beyond any man alive to have gotten so dear248 a prey, after devoting some time to comforting the weeping lady, he took counsel with his comrades not to return to Cyprus at that present; wherefore, of one accord, they turned the ship's head towards Crete, where well nigh every one, and especially Cimon, had kinsfolk, old and new, and friends in plenty and where they doubted not to be in safety with Iphigenia. But fortune the unstable, which had cheerfully enough vouchsafed unto Cimon the acquisition of the lady, suddenly changed the inexpressible joyance of the enamoured youth into sad and bitter mourning; for it was not four full told hours since he had left the Rhodians when the night (which Cimon looked to be more delightsome than any he had ever known) came on and with it a very troublous and tempestuous shift of weather, which filled all the sky with clouds and the sea with ravening winds, by reason whereof none could see what to do or whither to steer, nor could any even keep the deck to do any office.

How sore concerned was Cimon for this it needeth not to ask; himseemed the gods had vouchsafed him his desire but to make death the more grievous to him, whereof, without that, he had before recked little. His comrades lamented on like wise, but Iphigenia bewailed herself over all, weeping sore and fearing every stroke of the waves; and in her chagrin she bitterly cursed Cimon's love and blamed his presumption, avouching that the tempest had arisen for none other thing but that the gods chose not that he, who would fain against their will have her to wife, should avail to enjoy his presumptuous desire, but, seeing her first die, should after himself perish miserably.

Amidst such lamentations and others yet more grievous, the wind waxing hourly fiercer and the seamen knowing not what to do, they came, without witting whither they went or availing to change their course, near to the island of Rhodes, and unknowing that it was Rhodes, they used their every endeavour to get to land thereon, an it were possible, for the saving of their lives. In this fortune was favourable to them and brought them into a little bight of the sea, where the Rhodians whom Cimon had let go had a little before arrived with their ship; nor did they perceive that they had struck the island of Rhodes till the dawn broke and made the sky somewhat clearer, when they found themselves maybe a bowshot distant from the ship left of them the day before. At this Cimon was beyond measure chagrined and fearing lest that should betide them which did in very deed ensue, bade use every endeavour to issue thence and let fortune after carry them whither it should please her, for that they could be nowhere in worse case than there. Accordingly, they made the utmost efforts to put to sea, but in vain; for the wind blew so mightily against them that not only could they not avail to issue from the little harbour, but whether they would or no, it drove them ashore.

No sooner were they come thither than they were recognized by the Rhodian sailors, who had landed from their ship, and one of them ran nimbly to a village hard by, whither the young Rhodian gentlemen had betaken themselves, and told the latter that, as luck249 would have it,[265] Cimon and Iphigenia were come thither aboard their ship, driven, like themselves, by stress of weather. They, hearing this, were greatly rejoiced and repairing in all haste to the sea-shore, with a number of the villagers, took Cimon, together with Iphigenia and all his company, who had now landed and taken counsel together to flee into some neighbouring wood, and carried them to the village. The news coming to Pasimondas, he made his complaint to the senate of the island and according as he had ordered it with them, Lysimachus, in whom the chief magistracy of the Rhodians was for that year vested, coming thither from the city with a great company of men-at-arms, haled Cimon and all his men to prison. On such wise did the wretched and lovelorn Cimon lose his Iphigenia, scantwhile before won of him, without having taken of her more than a kiss or two; whilst she herself was received by many noble ladies of Rhodes and comforted as well for the chagrin had of her seizure as for the fatigue suffered by reason of the troubled sea; and with them she abode against the day appointed for her nuptials.

As for Cimon and his companions, their lives were granted them, in consideration of the liberty given by them to the young Rhodians the day before,—albeit Pasimondas used his utmost endeavour to procure them to be put to death,—and they were condemned to perpetual prison, wherein, as may well be believed, they abode woebegone and without hope of any relief. However, whilst Pasimondas, as most he might, hastened the preparations for his coming nuptials, fortune, as if repenting her of the sudden injury done to Cimon, brought about a new circumstance for his deliverance, the which was on this wise. Pasimondas had a brother called Ormisdas, less in years, but not in merit, than himself, who had been long in treaty for the hand of a fair and noble damsel of the city, by name Cassandra, whom Lysimachus ardently loved, and the match had sundry times been broken off by divers untoward accidents. Now Pasimondas, being about to celebrate his own nuptials with the utmost splendour, bethought himself that it were excellently well done if he could procure Ormisdas likewise to take wife on the same occasion, not to resort afresh to expense and festival making. Accordingly, he took up again the parleys with Cassandra's parents and brought them to a successful issue; wherefore he and his brother agreed, in concert with them, that Ormisdas should take Cassandra to wife on the same day whenas himself took Iphigenia.

Lysimachus hearing this, it was beyond measure displeasing to him, for that he saw himself bereaved of the hope which he cherished, that, an Ormisdas took her not, he should certainly have her. However, like a wise man, he kept his chagrin hidden and fell to considering on what wise he might avail to hinder this having effect, but could see no way possible save the carrying her off. This seemed easy to him to compass for the office which he250 held, but he accounted the deed far more dishonourable than if he had not held the office in question. Ultimately, however, after long deliberation, honour gave place to love and he determined, come what might of it, to carry off Cassandra. Then, bethinking himself of the company he must have and the course he must hold to do this, he remembered him of Cimon, whom he had in prison with his comrades, and concluded that he might have no better or trustier companion than Cimon in this affair.

Accordingly, that same night he had him privily into his chamber and proceeded to bespeak him on this wise: 'Cimon, like as the gods are very excellent and bountiful givers of things to men, even so are they most sagacious provers of their virtues, and those, whom they find resolute and constant under all circumstances, they hold deserving, as the most worthy, of the highest recompenses. They have been minded to have more certain proof of thy worth than could be shown by thee within the limits of thy father's house, whom I know to be abundantly endowed with riches; wherefore, first, with the poignant instigations of love they brought thee from a senseless animal to be a man, and after with foul fortune and at this present with prison dour, they would fain try if thy spirit change not from that which it was, whenas thou wast scantwhile glad of the gotten prize. If that[266] be the same as it was erst, they never yet vouchsafed thee aught so gladsome as that which they are presently prepared to bestow on thee and which, so thou mayst recover thy wonted powers and resume thy whilom spirit, I purpose to discover to thee.

Pasimondas, rejoicing in thy misadventure and a diligent promoter of thy death, bestirreth himself as most he may to celebrate his nuptials with thine Iphigenia, so therein he may enjoy the prize which fortune first blithely conceded thee and after, growing troubled, took from thee of a sudden. How much this must grieve thee, an thou love as I believe, I know by myself, to whom Ormisdas his brother prepareth in one same day to do a like injury in the person of Cassandra, whom I love over all else. To escape so great an unright and annoy of fortune, I see no way left open of her to us, save the valour of our souls and the might of our right hands, wherein it behoveth us take our swords and make us a way to the carrying off of our two mistresses, thee for the second and me for the first time. If, then, it be dear to thee to have again—I will not say thy liberty, whereof methinketh thou reckest little without thy lady, but—thy mistress, the gods have put her in thy hands, an thou be willing to second me in my emprize.'

All Cimon's lost spirit was requickened in him by these words and he replied, without overmuch consideration, 'Lysimachus, thou canst have no stouter or trustier comrade than myself in such an enterprise, an that be to ensue thereof for me which thou avouchest; wherefore do thou command me that which thou deemest should be done of me, and thou shalt find thyself wonder-puissantly seconded.' Then said Lysimachus, 'On the third day from this the new-married wives will for the first time enter their husbands' houses,251 whereinto thou with thy companions armed and I with certain of my friends, in whom I put great trust, will make our way towards nightfall and snatching up our mistresses out of the midst of the guests, will carry them off to a ship, which I have caused secretly equip, slaying whosoever shall presume to offer opposition.' The devise pleased Cimon and he abode quiet in prison until the appointed time.

The wedding-day being come, great and magnificent was the pomp of the festival and every part of the two brothers' house was full of mirth and merrymaking; whereupon Lysimachus, having made ready everything needful, divided Cimon and his companions, together with his own friends, all armed under their clothes, into three parties and having first kindled them to his purpose with many words, secretly despatched one party to the harbour, so none might hinder their going aboard the ship, whenas need should be. Then, coming with the other twain, whenas it seemed to him time, to Pasimondas his house, he left one party of them at the door, so as none might shut them up therewithin or forbid them the issue, and with Cimon and the rest went up by the stairs. Coming to the saloon where the new-wedded brides were seated orderly at meat with many other ladies, they rushed in upon them and overthrowing the tables, took each his mistress and putting them in the hands of their comrades, bade straightway carry them to the ship that was in waiting. The brides fell a-weeping and shrieking, as did likewise the other ladies and the servants, and the whole house was of a sudden full of clamour and lamentation.

Cimon and Lysimachus and their companions, drawing their swords, made for the stairs, without any opposition, all giving way to them, and as they descended, Pasimondas presented himself before them, with a great cudgel in his hand, being drawn thither by the outcry; but Cimon dealt him a swashing blow on the head and cleaving it sheer in sunder, laid him dead at his feet. The wretched Ormisdas, running to his brother's aid, was on like wise slain by one of Cimon's strokes, and divers others who sought to draw nigh them were in like manner wounded and beaten off by the companions of the latter and Lysimachus, who, leaving the house full of blood and clamour and weeping and woe, drew together and made their way to the ship with their prizes, unhindered of any. Here they embarked with their mistresses and all their companions, the shore being now full of armed folk come to the rescue of the ladies, and thrusting the oars into the water, made off, rejoicing, about their business. Coming presently to Crete, they were there joyfully received by many, both friends and kinsfolk, and espousing their mistresses with great pomp, gave themselves up to the glad enjoyment of their purchase. Loud and long were the clamours and differences in Cyprus and in Rhodes by reason of their doings; but, ultimately, their friends and kinsfolk, interposing in one and the other place, found means so to adjust matters that, after some exile, Cimon joyfully returned to Cyprus with Iphigenia, whilst Lysimachus on like wise returned to Rhodes with Cassandra, and each lived long and happily with his mistress in his own country."



Day the Fifth


The queen, seeing Pamfilo's story at an end, after she had much commended it, enjoined Emilia to follow on, telling another, and she accordingly began thus: "Every one must naturally delight in those things wherein he seeth rewards ensue according to the affections;[267] and for that love in the long run deserveth rather happiness than affliction, I shall, intreating of the present theme, obey the queen with much greater pleasure to myself than I did the king in that of yesterday.

You must know, then, dainty dames, that near unto Sicily is an islet called Lipari, wherein, no great while agone, was a very fair damsel called Costanza, born of a very considerable family there. It chanced that a young man of the same island, called Martuccio Gomito, who was very agreeable and well bred and of approved worth[268] in his craft,[269] fell in love with her; and she in like manner so burned for him that she was never easy save whenas she saw him. Martuccio, wishing to have her to wife, caused demand her of her father, who answered that he was poor and that therefore he would not give her to him. The young man, enraged to see himself rejected for poverty, in concert with certain of his friends and kinsmen, equipped a light ship and swore never to return to Lipari, except rich. Accordingly, he departed thence and turning corsair, fell to cruising off the coast of Barbary and plundering all who were weaker than himself; wherein fortune was favourable enough to him, had he known how to set bounds to his wishes; but, it sufficing him not to have waxed very rich, he and his comrades, in a brief space of time, it befell that, whilst they sought to grow overrich, he was, after a long defence, taken and plundered with all his companions by certain ships of the Saracens, who, after scuttling the vessel and sacking the greater part of the crew, carried Martuccio to Tunis, where he was put in prison and long kept in misery.

The news was brought to Lipari, not253 by one or by two, but by many and divers persons, that he and all on board the bark had been drowned; whereupon the girl, who had been beyond measure woebegone for her lover's departure, hearing that he was dead with the others, wept sore and resolved in herself to live no longer; but, her heart suffering her not to slay herself by violence, she determined to give a new occasion[270] to her death.[271] Accordingly, she issued secretly forth of her father's house one night and betaking herself to the harbour, happened upon a fishing smack, a little aloof from the other ships, which, for that its owners had but then landed therefrom, she found furnished with mast and sail and oars. In this she hastily embarked and rowed herself out to sea; then, being somewhat skilled in the mariner's art, as the women of that island mostly are, she made sail and casting the oars and rudder adrift, committed herself altogether to the mercy of the waves, conceiving that it must needs happen that the wind would either overturn a boat without lading or steersman or drive it upon some rock and break it up, whereby she could not, even if she would, escape, but must of necessity be drowned. Accordingly, wrapping her head in a mantle, she laid herself, weeping, in the bottom of the boat.

But it befell altogether otherwise than as she conceived, for that, the wind being northerly and very light and there being well nigh no sea, the boat rode it out in safety and brought her on the morrow, about vespers, to a beach near a town called Susa, a good hundred miles beyond Tunis. The girl, who, for aught that might happen, had never lifted nor meant to lift her head, felt nothing of being ashore more than at sea;[272] but, as chance would have it, there was on the beach, whenas the bark struck upon it, a poor woman in act to take up from the sun the nets of the fishermen her masters, who, seeing the bark, marvelled how it should be left to strike full sail upon the land. Thinking that the fishermen aboard were asleep, she went up to the bark and seeing none therein but the damsel aforesaid, who slept fast, called her many times and having at last aroused her and knowing her by her habit for a Christian, asked her in Latin how she came there in that bark all alone. The girl, hearing her speak Latin, misdoubted her a shift of wind must have driven her back to Lipari and starting suddenly to her feet, looked about her, but knew not the country, and seeing herself on land, asked the good woman where she was; to which she answered, 'Daughter mine, thou art near unto Susa in Barbary.' The girl, hearing this, was woeful for that God had not chosen to vouchsafe her the death she sought, and being in fear of shame and knowing not what to do, she seated herself at the foot of her bark and fell a-weeping.

The good woman, seeing this, took pity upon her and brought her, by dint of entreaty, into a little hut of hers and there so humoured her that she254 told her how she came thither; whereupon, seeing that she was fasting, she set before her her own dry bread and somewhat of fish and water and so besought her that she ate a little. Costanza after asked her who she was that she spoke Latin thus; to which she answered that she was from Trapani and was called Carapresa and served certain Christian fishermen there. The girl, hearing the name of Carapresa, albeit she was exceeding woebegone and knew not what reason moved her thereunto, took it unto herself for a good augury to have heard this name[273] and began to hope, without knowing what, and somewhat to abate of her wish to die. Then, without discovering who or whence she was, she earnestly besought the good woman to have pity, for the love of God, on her youth and give her some counsel how she might escape any affront being offered her.

Carapresa, like a good woman as she was, hearing this, left her in her hut, whilst she hastily gathered up her nets; then, returning to her, she wrapped her from head to foot in her own mantle and carried her to Susa, where she said to her, 'Costanza, I will bring thee into the house of a very good Saracen lady, whom I serve oftentimes in her occasions and who is old and pitiful. I will commend thee to her as most I may and I am very certain that she will gladly receive thee and use thee as a daughter; and do thou, abiding with her, study thine utmost, in serving her, to gain her favour, against God send thee better fortune.' And as she said, so she did. The lady, who was well stricken in years, hearing the woman's story, looked the girl in the face and fell a-weeping; then taking her by the hand, she kissed her on the forehead and carried her into her house, where she and sundry other women abode, without any man, and wrought all with their hands at various crafts, doing divers works of silk and palm-fibre and leather. Costanza soon learned to do some of these and falling to working with the rest, became in such favour with the lady and the others that it was a marvellous thing; nor was it long before, with their teaching, she learnt their language.

What while she abode thus at Susa, being now mourned at home for lost and dead, it befell that, one Mariabdela[274] being King of Tunis, a certain youth of great family and much puissance in Granada, avouching that that kingdom belonged to himself, levied a great multitude of folk and came upon King Mariabdela, to oust him from the kingship. This came to the ears of Martuccio Gomito in prison and he knowing the Barbary language excellent well and hearing that the king was making great efforts for his defence, said to one of those who had him and his fellows in keeping, 'An I might have speech of the king, my heart assureth me that I could give him a counsel, by which he should gain this his war.' The keeper reported these words to his chief, and he carried them incontinent to the king, who bade fetch Martuccio and asked him what might be his counsel; whereto he made answer on this255 wise, 'My lord, if, what time I have otherwhiles frequented these your dominions, I have noted aright the order you keep in your battles, meseemeth you wage them more with archers than with aught else; wherefore, if a means could be found whereby your adversary's bowmen should lack of arrows, whilst your own had abundance thereof, methinketh your battle would be won.' 'Without doubt,' answered the king, 'and this might be compassed, I should deem myself assured of victory.' Whereupon, 'My lord,' quoth Martuccio, 'an you will, this may very well be done, and you shall hear how. You must let make strings for your archers' bows much thinner than those which are everywhere commonly used and after let make arrows, the notches whereof shall not serve but for these thin strings. This must be so secretly done that your adversary should know nought thereof; else would he find a remedy therefor; and the reason for which I counsel you thus is this. After your enemy's archers and your own shall have shot all their arrows, you know that, the battle lasting, it will behove your foes to gather up the arrows shot by your men and the latter in like manner to gather theirs; but the enemy will not be able to make use of your arrows, by reason of the strait notches which will not take their thick strings, whereas the contrary will betide your men of the enemy's arrows, for that the thin strings will excellently well take the wide-notched arrows; and so your men will have abundance of ammunition, whilst the others will suffer default thereof.'

The king, who was a wise prince, was pleased with Martuccio's counsel and punctually following it, found himself thereby to have won his war. Wherefore Martuccio became in high favour with him and rose in consequence to great and rich estate. The report of these things spread over the land and it came presently to Costanza's ears that Martuccio Gomito, whom she had long deemed dead, was alive, whereupon the love of him, that was now grown cool in her heart, broke out of a sudden into fresh flame and waxed greater than ever, whilst dead hope revived in her. Therewithal she altogether discovered her every adventure to the good lady, with whom she dwelt, and told her that she would fain go to Tunis, so she might satisfy her eyes of that whereof her ears had made them desireful, through the reports received. The old lady greatly commended her purpose and taking ship with her, carried her, as if she had been her mother, to Tunis, where they were honourably entertained in the house of a kinswoman of hers. There she despatched Carapresa, who had come with them, to see what she could learn of Martuccio, and she, finding him alive and in great estate and reporting this to the old gentlewoman, it pleased the latter to will to be she who should signify unto Martuccio that his Costanza was come thither to him; wherefore, betaking herself one day whereas he was, she said to him, 'Martuccio, there is come to my house a servant of thine from Lipari, who would fain speak with thee privily there; wherefore, not to trust to others, I have myself, at his desire, come to give thee notice thereof.' He thanked her and followed her to her house, where when Costanza saw him, she was like to die of gladness and unable to contain256 herself, ran straightway with open arms to throw herself on his neck; then, embracing him, without availing to say aught, she fell a-weeping tenderly, both for compassion of their past ill fortunes and for present gladness.

Martuccio, seeing his mistress, abode awhile dumb for amazement, then said sighing, 'O my Costanza, art thou then yet alive? It is long since I heard that thou wast lost; nor in our country was aught known of thee.' So saying, he embraced her, weeping, and kissed her tenderly. Costanza then related to him all that had befallen her and the honourable treatment which she had received from the gentlewoman with whom she dwelt; and Martuccio, after much discourse, taking leave of her, repaired to the king his master and told him all, to wit, his own adventures and those of the damsel, adding that, with his leave, he meant to take her to wife, according to our law. The king marvelled at these things and sending for the damsel and hearing from her that it was even as Martuccio had avouched, said to her, 'Then hast thou right well earned him to husband.' Then, letting bring very great and magnificent gifts, he gave part thereof to her and part to Martuccio, granting them leave to do one with the other that which was most pleasing unto each of them; whereupon Martuccio, having entreated the gentlewoman who had harboured Costanza with the utmost honour and thanked her for that which she had done to serve her and bestowed on her such gifts as sorted with her quality, commended her to God and took leave of her, he and his mistress, not without many tears from the latter. Then, with the king's leave, they embarked with Carapresa on board a little ship and returned with a fair wind to Lipari, where so great was the rejoicing that it might never be told. There Martuccio took Costanza to wife and held great and goodly nuptials; after which they long in peace and repose had enjoyment of their loves."


Day the Fifth


There was none among all the company but commended Emilia's story, which the queen seeing to be finished, turned to Elisa and bade her follow on. Accordingly, studious to obey, she began: "There occurreth to my mind, charming ladies, an ill night passed by a pair of indiscreet young lovers; but, for that many happy days ensued thereon, it pleaseth me to tell the story, as one that conformeth to our proposition.

There was, a little while agone, at257 Rome,—once the head, as it is nowadays the tail of the world,[275]—a youth, called Pietro Boccamazza, of a very worshipful family among those of the city, who fell in love with a very fair and lovesome damsel called Agnolella, the daughter of one Gigliuozzo Saullo, a plebeian, but very dear to the Romans, and loving her, he contrived so to do that the girl began to love him no less than he loved her; whereupon, constrained by fervent love and himseeming he might no longer brook the cruel pain that the desire he had of her gave him, he demanded her in marriage; which no sooner did his kinsfolk know than they all repaired to him and chid him sore for that which he would have done; and on the other hand they gave Gigliuozzo to understand that he should make no account of Pietro's words, for that, an he did this, they would never have him for friend or kinsman. Pietro seeing that way barred whereby alone he deemed he might avail to win to his desire, was like to die of chagrin, and had Gigliuozzo consented, he would have taken his daughter to wife, in despite of all his kindred. However, he determined, an it liked the girl, to contrive to give effect to their wishes, and having assured himself, by means of an intermediary, that this was agreeable to her, he agreed with her that she should flee with him from Rome.

Accordingly, having taken order for this, Pietro arose very early one morning and taking horse with the damsel, set out for Anagni, where he had certain friends in whom he trusted greatly. They had no leisure to make a wedding of it, for that they feared to be followed, but rode on, devising of their love and now and again kissing one another. It chanced that, when they came mayhap eight miles from Rome, the way not being overwell known to Pietro, they took a path to the left, whereas they should have kept to the right; and scarce had they ridden more than two miles farther when they found themselves near a little castle, wherefrom, as soon as they were seen, there issued suddenly a dozen footmen. The girl, espying these, whenas they were already close upon them, cried out, saying, 'Pietro, let us begone, for we are attacked'; then, turning her rouncey's head, as best she knew, towards a great wood hard by, she clapped her spurs fast to his flank and held on to the saddlebow, whereupon the nag, feeling himself goaded, bore her into the wood at a gallop.

Pietro, who went gazing more at her face than at the road, not having become so quickly aware as she of the new comers, was overtaken and seized by them, whilst he still looked, without yet perceiving them, to see whence they should come. They made him alight from his hackney and enquired who he was, which he having told, they proceeded to take counsel together and said, 'This fellow is of the friends of our enemies; what else should we do but take from him these clothes and this258 nag and string him up to one of yonder oaks, to spite the Orsini?' They all fell in with this counsel and bade Pietro put off his clothes, which as he was in act to do, foreboding him by this of the ill fate which awaited him, it chanced that an ambush of good five-and-twenty footmen started suddenly out upon the others, crying, 'Kill! Kill!' The rogues, taken by surprise, let Pietro be and turned to stand upon their defence, but, seeing themselves greatly outnumbered by their assailants, betook themselves to flight, whilst the others pursued them.

Pietro, seeing this, hurriedly caught up his gear and springing on his hackney, addressed himself, as best he might, to flee by the way he had seen his mistress take; but finding her not and seeing neither road nor footpath in the wood neither perceiving any horse's hoof marks, he was the woefullest man alive; and as soon as himseemed he was safe and out of reach of those who had taken him, as well as of the others by whom they had been assailed, he began to drive hither and thither about the wood, weeping and calling; but none answered him and he dared not turn back and knew not where he might come, an he went forward, more by token that he was in fear of the wild beasts that use to harbour in the woods, at once for himself and for his mistress, whom he looked momently to see strangled of some bear or some wolf. On this wise, then, did the unlucky Pietro range all day about the wood, crying and calling, whiles going backward, when as he thought to go forward, until, what with shouting and weeping and fear and long fasting, he was so spent that he could no more and seeing the night come and knowing not what other course to take, he dismounted from his hackney and tied the latter to a great oak, into which he climbed, so he might not be devoured of the wild beasts in the night. A little after the moon rose and the night being very clear and bright, he abode there on wake, sighing and weeping and cursing his ill luck, for that he durst not go to sleep, lest he should fall, albeit, had he had more commodity thereof, grief and the concern in which he was for his mistress would not have suffered him to sleep.

Meanwhile, the damsel, fleeing, as we have before said, and knowing not whither to betake herself, save whereas it seemed good to her hackney to carry her, fared on so far into the wood that she could not see where she had entered, and went wandering all day about that desert place, no otherwise than as Pietro had done, now pausing [to hearken] and now going on, weeping the while and calling and making moan of her illhap. At last, seeing that Pietro came not and it being now eventide, she happened on a little path, into which her hackney turned, and following it, after she had ridden some two or more miles she saw a little house afar off. Thither she made her way as quickliest she might and found there a good man sore stricken in years and a woman, his wife alike old, who, seeing her alone, said to her, 'Daughter, what dost thou alone at this hour in these parts?' The damsel replied, weeping, that she had lost her company in the wood and enquired how near she was to Anagni. 'Daughter mine,' answered the good man, 'this is not the way to go to Anagni; it is more than a dozen miles hence.' Quoth the girl, 'And how far is it hence to any259 habitations where I may have a lodging for the night?' To which the good man answered, 'There is none anywhere so near that thou mayst come thither by daylight.' Then said the damsel, 'Since I can go no otherwhere, will it please you harbour me here to-night for the love of God?' 'Young lady,' replied the old man, 'thou art very welcome to abide with us this night; algates, we must warn you that there are many ill companies, both of friends and of foes that come and go about these parts both by day and by night, who many a time do us sore annoy and great mischief; and if, by ill chance, thou being here, there come any of them and seeing thee, fair and young as thou art, should offer to do thee affront and shame, we could not avail to succour thee therefrom. We deem it well to apprise thee of this, so that, an it betide, thou mayst not be able to complain of us.'

The girl, seeing that it was late, albeit the old man's words affrighted her, said, 'An it please God, He will keep both you and me from that annoy; and even if it befall me, it were a much less evil to be maltreated of men than to be mangled of the wild beasts in the woods.' So saying, she alighted from the rouncey and entered the poor man's house, where she supped with him on such poor fare as they had and after, all clad as she was, cast herself, together with them, on a little bed of theirs. She gave not over sighing and bewailing her own mishap and that of Pietro all night, knowing not if she might hope other than ill of him; and when it drew near unto morning, she heard a great trampling of folk approaching, whereupon she arose and betaking herself to a great courtyard, that lay behind the little house, saw in a corner a great heap of hay, in which she hid herself, so she might not be so quickly found, if those folk should come thither. Hardly had she made an end of hiding herself when these, who were a great company of ill knaves, came to the door of the little house and causing open to them, entered and found Agnolella's hackney yet all saddled and bridled; whereupon they asked who was there and the good man, not seeing the girl, answered, 'None is here save ourselves; but this rouncey, from whomsoever it may have escaped, came hither yestereve and we brought it into the house, lest the wolves should eat it.' 'Then,' said the captain of the troop, 'since it hath none other master, it is fair prize for us.'

Thereupon they all dispersed about the little house and some went into the courtyard, where, laying down their lances and targets, it chanced that one of them, knowing not what else to do, cast his lance into the hay and came very near to slay the hidden girl and she to discover herself, for that the lance passed so close to her left breast that the steel tore a part of her dress, wherefore she was like to utter a great cry, fearing to be wounded; but, remembering where she was, she abode still, all fear-stricken. Presently, the rogues, having dressed the kids and other meat they had with them and eaten and drunken, went off, some hither and some thither, about their affairs, and carried with them the girl's hackney. When they had gone some distance, the good man asked his wife, 'What befell of our young woman, who came thither yestereve? I have seen nothing of her since we arose.' The good wife replied that she knew not and went looking for her,260 whereupon the girl, hearing that the rogues were gone, came forth of the hay, to the no small contentment of her host, who, rejoiced to see that she had not fallen into their hands, said to her, it now growing day, 'Now that the day cometh, we will, an it please thee, accompany thee to a castle five miles hence, where thou wilt be in safety; but needs must thou go afoot, for yonder ill folk, that now departed hence, have carried off thy rouncey.' The girl concerned herself little about the nag, but besought them for God's sake to bring her to the castle in question, whereupon they set out and came thither about half tierce.

Now this castle belonged to one of the Orsini family, by name Lionello di Campodifiore, and there by chance was his wife, a very pious and good lady, who, seeing the girl, knew her forthright and received her with joy and would fain know orderly how she came thither. Agnolella told her all and the lady, who knew Pietro on like wise, as being a friend of her husband's, was grieved for the ill chance that had betided and hearing where he had been taken, doubted not but he was dead; wherefore she said to Agnolella, 'Since thou knowest not what is come of Pietro, thou shalt abide here till such time as I shall have a commodity to send thee safe to Rome.'

Meanwhile Pietro abode, as woebegone as could be, in the oak, and towards the season of the first sleep, he saw a good score of wolves appear, which came all about his hackney, as soon as they saw him. The horse, scenting them, tugged at his bridle, till he broke it, and would have fled, but being surrounded and unable to escape, he defended himself a great while with his teeth and his hoofs. At last, however, he was brought down and strangled and quickly disembowelled by the wolves, which took all their fill of his flesh and having devoured him, made off, without leaving aught but the bones, whereat Pietro, to whom it seemed he had in the rouncey a companion and a support in his troubles, was sore dismayed and misdoubted he should never avail to win forth of the wood. However, towards daybreak, being perished with cold in the oak and looking still all about him, he caught sight of a great fire before him, mayhap a mile off, wherefore, as soon as it was grown broad day, he came down from the oak, not without fear, and making for the fire, fared on till he came to the place, where he found shepherds eating and making merry about it, by whom he was received for compassion.

After he had eaten and warmed himself, he acquainted them with his misadventure and telling them how he came thither alone, asked them if there was in those parts a village or castle, to which he might betake himself. The shepherds answered that some three miles thence there was a castle belonging to Lionello di Campodifiore, whose lady was presently there; whereat Pietro was much rejoiced and besought them that one of them should accompany him to the castle, which two of them readily did. There he found some who knew him and was in act to enquire for a means of having search made about the forest for the damsel, when he was bidden to the lady's presence and incontinent repaired to her. Never was joy like unto his, when he saw Agnolella with her,261 and he was all consumed with desire to embrace her, but forbore of respect for the lady, and if he was glad, the girl's joy was no less great. The gentle lady, having welcomed him and made much of him and heard from him what had betided him, chid him amain of that which he would have done against the will of his kinsfolk; but, seeing that he was e'en resolved upon this and that it was agreeable to the girl also, she said in herself, 'Why do I weary myself in vain? These two love and know each other and both are friends of my husband. Their desire is an honourable one and meseemeth it is pleasing to God, since the one of them hath scaped the gibbet and the other the lance-thrust and both the wild beasts of the wood; wherefore be it as they will.' Then, turning to the lovers, she said to them, 'If you have it still at heart to be man and wife, it is my pleasure also; be it so, and let the nuptials be celebrated here at Lionello's expense. I will engage after to make peace between you and your families.' Accordingly, they were married then and there, to the great contentment of Pietro and the yet greater satisfaction of Agnolella, and the gentle lady made them honourable nuptials, in so far as might be in the mountains. There, with the utmost delight, they enjoyed the first-fruits of their love and a few days after, they took horse with the lady and returned, under good escort, to Rome, where she found Pietro's kinsfolk sore incensed at that which he had done, but contrived to make his peace with them, and he lived with his Agnolella in all peace and pleasance to a good old age."


Day the Fifth


Elisa holding her peace and hearkening to the praises bestowed by the ladies her companions upon her story, the Queen charged Filostrato tell one of his own, whereupon he began, laughing, "I have been so often rated by so many of you ladies for having imposed on you matter for woeful discourse and such as tended to make you weep, that methinketh I am beholden, an I would in some measure requite you that annoy, to relate somewhat whereby I may make you laugh a little; and I mean therefore to tell you, in a very short story, of a love that, after no worse hindrance than sundry sighs and a brief fright, mingled with shame, came to a happy issue.

It is, then, noble ladies, no great while ago since there lived in Romagna a gentleman of great worth and good breeding, called Messer Lizio da Valbona, to whom, well nigh in his old age, it chanced there was born of his wife, Madam Giacomina by name, a daughter, who grew up fair and agreeable beyond any other of the country; and for that she was the only child that remained to her father and mother, they loved and tendered her exceeding dear and guarded her with marvellous dili262gence, looking to make some great alliance by her. Now there was a young man of the Manardi of Brettinoro, comely and lusty of his person, by name Ricciardo, who much frequented Messer Lizio's house and conversed amain with him and of whom the latter and his lady took no more account than they would have taken of a son of theirs. Now, this Ricciardo, looking once and again upon the young lady and seeing her very fair and sprightly and commendable of manners and fashions, fell desperately in love with her, but was very careful to keep his love secret. The damsel presently became aware thereof and without anywise seeking to shun the stroke, began on like wise to love him; whereat Ricciardo was mightily rejoiced. He had many a time a mind to speak to her, but kept silence of misdoubtance; however, one day, taking courage and opportunity, he said to her, 'I prithee, Caterina, cause me not die of love.' To which she straightway made answer, 'Would God thou wouldst not cause me die!'

This answer added much courage and pleasure to Ricciardo and he said to her, 'Never shall aught that may be agreeable to thee miscarry[276] for me; but it resteth with thee to find a means of saving thy life and mine.' 'Ricciardo,' answered she, 'thou seest how straitly I am guarded; wherefore, for my part, I cannot see how thou mayst avail to come at me; but, if thou canst see aught that I may do without shame to myself, tell it me and I will do it.' Ricciardo, having bethought himself of sundry things, answered promptly, 'My sweet Caterina, I can see no way, except that thou lie or make shift to come upon the gallery that adjoineth thy father's garden, where an I knew that thou wouldst be anights, I would without fail contrive to come to thee, how high soever it may be.' 'If thou have the heart to come thither,' rejoined Caterina, 'methinketh I can well enough win to be there.' Ricciardo assented and they kissed each other once only in haste and went their ways.

Next day, it being then near the end of May, the girl began to complain before her mother that she had not been able to sleep that night for the excessive heat. Quoth the lady, 'Of what heat dost thou speak, daughter? Nay, it was nowise hot.' 'Mother mine,' answered Caterina, 'you should say "To my seeming," and belike you would say sooth; but you should consider how much hotter are young girls than ladies in years.' 'Daughter mine,' rejoined the lady, 'that is true; but I cannot make it cold and hot at my pleasure, as belike thou wouldst have me do. We must put up with the weather, such as the seasons make it; maybe this next night will be cooler and thou wilt sleep better.' 'God grant it may be so!' cried Caterina. 'But it is not usual for the nights to go cooling, as it groweth towards summer.' 'Then what wouldst thou have done?' asked the mother; and she answered, 'An it please my father and you, I would fain have a little bed made in the gallery, that is beside his chamber and over his garden, and there sleep. There I should hear the nightingale sing and having a cooler place to lie in, I should fare much better than in your chamber.' Quoth the mother, 'Daugh263ter, comfort thyself; I will tell thy father, and as he will, so will we do.'

Messer Lizio hearing all this from his wife, said, for that he was an old man and maybe therefore somewhat cross-grained, 'What nightingale is this to whose song she would sleep? I will yet make her sleep to the chirp of the crickets.' Caterina, coming to know this, more of despite than for the heat, not only slept not that night, but suffered not her mother to sleep, still complaining of the great heat. Accordingly, next morning, the latter repaired to her husband and said to him, 'Sir, you have little tenderness for yonder girl; what mattereth it to you if she lie in the gallery? She could get no rest all night for the heat. Besides, can you wonder at her having a mind to hear the nightingale sing, seeing she is but a child? Young folk are curious of things like themselves. Messer Lizio, hearing this, said, 'Go to, make her a bed there, such as you think fit, and bind it about with some curtain or other, and there let her lie and hear the nightingale sing to her heart's content.'

The girl, learning this, straightway let make a bed in the gallery and meaning to lie there that same night, watched till she saw Ricciardo and made him a signal appointed between them, by which he understood what was to be done. Messer Lizio, hearing the girl gone to bed, locked a door that led from his chamber into the gallery and betook himself likewise to sleep. As for Ricciardo, as soon as he heard all quiet on every hand, he mounted a wall, with the aid of a ladder, and thence, laying hold of certain toothings of another wall, he made his way, with great toil and danger, if he had fallen, up to the gallery, where he was quietly received by the girl with the utmost joy. Then, after many kisses, they went to bed together and took delight and pleasure one of another well nigh all that night, making the nightingale sing many a time. The nights being short and the delight great and it being now, though they thought it not, near day, they fell asleep without any covering, so overheated were they what with the weather and what with their sport, Caterina having her right arm entwined about Ricciardo's neck and holding him with the left hand by that thing which you ladies think most shame to name among men.

As they slept on this wise, without awaking, the day came on and Messer Lizio arose and remembering him that his daughter lay in the gallery, opened the door softly, saying in himself, 'Let us see how the nightingale hath made Caterina sleep this night.' Then, going in, he softly lifted up the serge, wherewith the bed was curtained about, and saw his daughter and Ricciardo lying asleep, naked and uncovered, embraced as it hath before been set out; whereupon, having recognized Ricciardo, he went out again and repairing to his wife's chamber, called to her, saying, 'Quick, wife, get thee up and come see, for that thy daughter hath been so curious of the nightingale that she hath e'en taken it and hath it in hand.' 'How can that be?' quoth she; and he answered, 'Thou shalt see it, an thou come quickly.' Accordingly, she made haste to dress herself and quietly followed her husband to the bed, where, the curtain being drawn, Madam Giacomina might plainly see how her daughter had taken and264 held the nightingale, which she had so longed to hear sing; whereat the lady, holding herself sore deceived of Ricciardo, would have cried out and railed at him; but Messer Lizio said to her, 'Wife, as thou holdest my love dear, look thou say not a word, for, verily, since she hath gotten it, it shall be hers. Ricciardo is young and rich and gently born; he cannot make us other than a good son-in-law. An he would part from me on good terms, needs must he first marry her, so it will be found that he hath put the nightingale in his own cage and not in that of another.'

The lady was comforted to see that her husband was not angered at the matter and considering that her daughter had passed a good night and rested well and had caught the nightingale, to boot, she held her tongue. Nor had they abidden long after these words when Ricciardo awoke and seeing that it was broad day, gave himself over for lost and called Caterina, saying, 'Alack, my soul, how shall we do, for the day is come and hath caught me here?' Whereupon Messer Lizio came forward and lifting the curtain, answered, 'We shall do well.' When Ricciardo saw him, himseemed the heart was torn out of his body and sitting up in bed, he said, 'My lord, I crave your pardon for God's sake. I acknowledged to have deserved death, as a disloyal and wicked man; wherefore do you with me as best pleaseth you; but, I prithee, an it may be, have mercy on my life and let me not die.' 'Ricciardo,' answered Messer Lizio, 'the love that I bore thee and the faith I had in thee merited not this return; yet, since thus it is and youth hath carried thee away into such a fault, do thou, to save thyself from death and me from shame, take Caterina to thy lawful wife, so that, like as this night she hath been thine, she may e'en be thine so long as she shall live. On this wise thou mayst gain my pardon and thine own safety; but, an thou choose not to do this, commend thy soul to God.'

Whilst these words were saying, Caterina let go the nightingale and covering herself, fell to weeping sore and beseeching her father to pardon Ricciardo, whilst on the other hand she entreated her lover to do as Messer Lizio wished, so they might long pass such nights together in security. But there needed not overmany prayers, for that, on the one hand, shame of the fault committed and desire to make amends for it, and on the other, the fear of death and the wish to escape,—to say nothing of his ardent love and longing to possess the thing beloved,—made Ricciardo freely and without hesitation avouch himself ready to do that which pleased Messer Lizio; whereupon the latter borrowed of Madam Giacomina one of her rings and there, without budging, Ricciardo in their presence took Caterina to his wife. This done, Messer Lizio and his lady departed, saying, 'Now rest yourselves, for belike you have more need thereof than of rising.' They being gone, the young folk clipped each other anew and not having run more than half a dozen courses overnight, they ran other twain ere they arose and so made an end of the first day's tilting. Then they arose and Ricciardo having had more orderly conference with Messer Lizio, a few days after, as it beseemed, he married the damsel265 over again, in the presence of their friends and kinsfolk, and brought her with great pomp to his own house. There he held goodly and honourable nuptials and after went long nightingale-fowling with her to his heart's content, in peace and solace, both by night and by day."


Day the Fifth


All the ladies, hearkening to the story of the nightingale, had laughed so much that, though Filostrato had made an end of telling, they could not yet give over laughing. But, after they had laughed awhile, the queen said to Filostrato, "Assuredly, if thou afflictedest us ladies yesterday, thou hast so tickled us to-day that none of us can deservedly complain of thee." Then, addressing herself to Neifile, she charged her tell, and she blithely began to speak thus: "Since Filostrato, discoursing, hath entered into Romagna, it pleaseth me on like wise to go ranging awhile therein with mine own story.

I say, then, that there dwelt once in the city of Fano two Lombards, whereof the one was called Guidotto da Cremona and the other Giacomino da Pavia, both men advanced in years, who had in their youth been well nigh always soldiers and engaged in deeds of arms. Guidotto, being at the point of death and having nor son nor other kinsmen nor friend in whom he trusted more than in Giacomino, left him a little daughter he had, of maybe ten years of age, and all that he possessed in the world, and after having bespoken him at length of his affairs, he died. In those days it befell that the city of Faenza, which had been long in war and ill case, was restored to somewhat better estate and permission to sojourn there was freely conceded to all who had a mind to return thither; wherefore Giacomino, who had abidden there otherwhile and had a liking for the place, returned thither with all his good and carried with him the girl left him by Guidotto, whom he loved and entreated as his own child.

The latter grew up and became as fair a damsel as any in the city, ay, and as virtuous and well bred as she was fair; wherefore she began to be courted of many, but especially two very agreeable young men of equal worth and condition vowed her a very great love, insomuch that for jealousy they came to hold each other in hate out of measure. They were called, the one Giannole di Severino and the other Minghino di Mingole; nor was there either of them but would gladly have taken the young lady, who was now fifteen years old, to wife, had it been suffered of his kinsfolk; wherefore, seeing her denied266 to them on honourable wise, each cast about to get her for himself as best he might. Now Giacomino had in his house an old serving-wench and a serving-man, Crivello by name, a very merry and obliging person, with whom Giannole clapped up a great acquaintance and to whom, whenas himseemed time, he discovered his passion, praying him to be favourable to him in his endeavour to obtain his desire and promising him great things an he did this; whereto quoth Crivello, 'Look you, I can do nought for thee in this matter other than that, when next Giacomino goeth abroad to supper, I will bring thee whereas she may be; for that, an I offered to say a word to her in thy favour, she would never stop to listen to me. If this like thee, I promise it to thee and will do it; and do thou after, an thou know how, that which thou deemest shall best serve thy purpose.' Giannole answered that he desired nothing more and they abode on this understanding. Meanwhile Minghino, on his part, had suborned the maidservant and so wrought with her that she had several times carried messages to the girl and had well night inflamed her with love of him; besides which she had promised him to bring him in company with her, so soon as Giacomino should chance to go abroad of an evening for whatever cause.

Not long after this it chanced that, by Crivello's contrivance, Giacomino went to sup with a friend of his, whereupon Crivello gave Giannole to know thereof and appointed with him that, whenas he made a certain signal, he should come and would find the door open. The maid, on her side, knowing nothing of all this, let Minghino know that Giacomino was to sup abroad and bade him abide near the house, so that, whenas he saw a signal which she should make he might come and enter therein. The evening come, the two lovers, knowing nothing of each other's designs, but each misdoubting of his rival, came, with sundry companions armed, to enter into possession. Minghino, with his troop took up his quarters in the house of a friend of his, a neighbour of the young lady's; whilst Giannole and his friends stationed themselves at a little distance from the house. Meanwhile, Crivello and the maid, Giacomino being gone, studied each to send the other away. Quoth he to her, 'Why dost thou not get thee to bed? Why goest thou still wandering about the house?' 'And thou,' retorted she, 'why goest thou not for thy master? What awaitest thou here, now that thou hast supped?' And so neither could make other avoid the place; but Crivello, seeing the hour come that he had appointed with Giannole said in himself, 'What reck I of her? An she abide not quiet, she is like to smart for it.'

Accordingly, giving the appointed signal, he went to open the door, whereupon Giannole, coming up in haste with two companions, entered and finding the young lady in the saloon, laid hands on her to carry her off. The girl began to struggle and make a great outcry, as likewise did the maid, which Minghino hearing, he ran thither with his companions and seeing the young lady being presently dragged out at the door, they pulled out their swords and cried all, 'Ho, traitors, ye are dead men! The thing shall not go thus. What is this violence?' So saying, they fell to hewing at them, whilst the neighbors, issu267ing forth at the clamour with lights and arms, began to blame Giannole's behaviour and to second Minghino; wherefore, after long contention, the latter rescued the young lady from his rival and restored her to Giacomino's house. But, before the fray was over, up came the town-captain's officers and arrested many of them; and amongst the rest Minghino and Giannole and Crivello were taken and carried off to prison. After matters were grown quiet again, Giacomino returned home and was sore chagrined at that which had happened; but, enquiring how it had come about and finding that the girl was nowise at fault, he was somewhat appeased and determined in himself to marry her as quickliest he might, so the like should not again betide.

Next morning, the kinsfolk of the two young men, hearing the truth of the case and knowing the ill that might ensue thereof for the imprisoned youths, should Giacomino choose to do that which he reasonably might, repaired to him and prayed him with soft words to have regard, not so much to the affront which he had suffered from the little sense of the young men as to the love and goodwill which they believed he bore to themselves who thus besought him, submitting themselves and the young men who had done the mischief to any amends it should please him take. Giacomino, who had in his time seen many things and was a man of sense, answered briefly, 'Gentlemen, were I in mine own country, as I am in yours, I hold myself so much your friend that neither in this nor in otherwhat would I do aught save insomuch as it should please you; besides, I am the more bounden to comply with your wishes in this matter, inasmuch as you have therein offended against yourselves, for that the girl in question is not, as belike many suppose, of Cremona nor of Pavia; nay, she is a Faentine,[277] albeit neither I nor she nor he of whom I had her might ever learn whose daughter she was; wherefore, concerning that whereof you pray me, so much shall be done by me as you yourselves shall enjoin me.'

The gentlemen, hearing this, marvelled and returning thanks to Giacomino for his gracious answer, prayed him that it would please him tell them how she came to his hands and how he knew her to be a Faentine; whereto quoth he, 'Guidotto da Cremona, who was my friend and comrade, told me, on his deathbed, that, when this city was taken by the Emperor Frederick and everything given up to pillage, he entered with his companions into a house and found it full of booty, but deserted by its inhabitants, save only this girl, who was then some two years old or thereabouts and who, seeing him mount the stairs, called him "father"; whereupon, taking compassion upon her, he carried her off with him to Fano, together with all that was in the house, and dying there, left her to me with what he had, charging me marry her in due time and give her to her dowry that which had been hers. Since she hath come to marriageable age, I have not yet found an occasion of marrying her to my liking, though I would gladly do it, rather than that another mischance like that of yesternight should betide me on her account.'

Now among the others there was a268 certain Guiglielmino da Medicina, who had been with Guidotto in that affair[278] and knew very well whose house it was that he had plundered, and he, seeing the person in question[279] there among the rest, accosted him, saying, 'Bernabuccio, hearest thou what Giacomino saith?' 'Ay do I,' answered Bernabuccio, 'and I was presently in thought thereof, more by token that I mind me to have lost a little daughter of the age whereof Giacomino speaketh in those very troubles.' Quoth Guiglielmino, 'This is she for certain, for that I was once in company with Guidotto, when I heard him tell where he had done the plundering and knew it to be thy house that he had sacked; wherefore do thou bethink thee if thou mayst credibly recognize her by any token and let make search therefor; for thou wilt assuredly find that she is thy daughter.'

Accordingly, Bernabuccio bethought himself and remembered that she should have a little cross-shaped scar over her left ear, proceeding from a tumour, which he had caused cut for her no great while before that occurrence; whereupon, without further delay, he accosted Giacomino, who was still there, and besought him to carry him to his house and let him see the damsel. To this he readily consented and carrying him thither, let bring the girl before him. When Bernabuccio set eyes on her, himseemed he saw the very face of her mother, who was yet a handsome lady; nevertheless, not contenting himself with this, he told Giacomino that he would fain of his favour have leave to raise her hair a little above her left ear, to which the other consented. Accordingly, going up to the girl, who stood shamefast, he lifted up her hair with his right hand and found the cross; whereupon, knowing her to be indeed his daughter, he fell to weeping tenderly and embracing her, notwithstanding her resistance; then, turning to Giacomino, 'Brother mine,' quoth he, 'this is my daughter; it was my house Guidotto plundered and this girl was, in the sudden alarm, forgotten there of my wife and her mother; and until now we believed that she had perished with the house, which was burned me that same day.'

The girl, hearing this, and seeing him to be a man in years, gave credence to his words and submitting herself to his embraces, as moved by some occult instinct, fell a-weeping tenderly with him. Bernabuccio presently sent for her mother and other her kinswomen and for her sisters and brothers and presented her to them all, recounting the matter to them; then, after a thousand embraces, he carried her home to his house with the utmost rejoicing, to the great satisfaction of Giacomino. The town-captain, who was a man of worth, learning this and knowing that Giannole, whom he had in prison, was Bernabuccio's son and therefore the lady's own brother, determined indulgently to overpass the offence committed by him and released with him Minghino and Crivello and the others who were implicated in the affair. Moreover, he interceded with Bernabuccio and Giacomino concerning these matters and making peace be269tween the two young men, gave the girl, whose name was Agnesa, to Minghino to wife, to the great contentment of all their kinsfolk; whereupon Minghino, mightily rejoiced, made a great and goodly wedding and carrying her home, lived with her many years after in peace and weal."


Day the Fifth


Neifile's story, which had much pleased the ladies, being ended, the queen bade Pampinea address herself to tell another, and she accordingly, raising her bright face, began: "Exceeding great, charming ladies, is the might of Love and exposeth lovers to sore travails, ay, and to excessive and unforeseen perils, as may be gathered from many a thing that hath been related both to-day and otherwhiles; nevertheless, it pleaseth me yet again to demonstrate it to you with a story of an enamoured youth.

Ischia is an island very near Naples, and therein, among others, was once a very fair and sprightly damsel, by name Restituta, who was the daughter of a gentleman of the island called Marino Bolgaro and whom a youth named Gianni, a native of a little island near Ischia, called Procida, loved more than his life, as she on like wise loved him. Not only did he come by day from Procida to see her, but oftentimes anights, not finding a boat, he had swum from Procida to Ischia, at the least to look upon the walls of her house, an he might no otherwise. During the continuance of this so ardent love, it befell that the girl, being all alone one summer day on the sea-shore, chanced, as she went from rock to rock, loosening shell-fish from the stones with a knife, upon a place hidden among the cliffs, where, at once for shade and for the commodity of a spring of very cool water that was there, certain young men of Sicily, coming from Naples, had taken up their quarters with a pinnace they had. They, seeing that she was alone and very handsome and was yet unaware of them, took counsel together to seize her and carry her off and put their resolve into execution. Accordingly, they took her, for all she made a great outcry, and carrying her aboard the pinnace, made the best of their way to Calabria, where they fell to disputing of whose she should be. Brief, each would fain have her; wherefore, being unable to agree among themselves and fearing to come to worse and to mar their affairs for her, they took counsel together to present her to Frederick, King of Sicily, who was then a young man and delighted in such toys. Accordingly, coming to Palermo, they made gift of the damsel to the king, who, seeing her to be fair, held her270 dear; but, for that he was presently somewhat infirm of his person, he commanded that, against he should be stronger, she should be lodged in a very goodly pavilion, belonging to a garden of his he called La Cuba, and there tended; and so it was done.

Great was the outcry in Ischia for the ravishment of the damsel and what most chagrined them was that they could not learn who they were that had carried her off; but Gianni, whom the thing concerned more than any other, not looking to get any news of this in Ischia and learning in what direction the ravishers had gone, equipped another pinnace and embarking therein, as quickliest as he might, scoured all the coast from La Minerva to La Scalea in Calabria, enquiring everywhere for news of the girl. Being told at La Scalea that she had been carried off to Palermo by some Sicilian sailors, he betook himself thither, as quickliest he might, and there, after much search, finding that she had been presented to the king and was by him kept under ward at La Cuba, he was sore chagrined and lost well nigh all hope, not only of ever having her again, but even of seeing her. Nevertheless, detained by love, having sent away his pinnace and seeing that he was known of none there, he abode behind and passing often by La Cuba, he chanced one day to catch sight of her at a window and she saw him, to the great contentment of them both.

Gianni, seeing the place lonely, approached as most he might and bespeaking her, was instructed by her how he must do, an he would thereafterward have further speech of her. He then took leave of her, having first particularly examined the ordinance of the place in every part, and waited till a good part of the night was past, when he returned thither and clambering up in places where a woodpecker had scarce found a foothold, he made his way into the garden. There he found a long pole and setting it against the window which his mistress had shown him, climbed up thereby lightly enough. The damsel, herseeming she had already lost her honour, for the preservation whereof she had in times past been somewhat coy to him, thinking that she could give herself to none more worthily than to him and doubting not to be able to induce him to carry her off, had resolved in herself to comply with him in every his desire; wherefore she had left the window open, so he might enter forthright. Accordingly, Gianni, finding it open, softly made his way into the chamber and laid himself beside the girl, who slept not and who, before they came to otherwhat, discovered to him all her intent, instantly beseeching him to take her thence and carry her away. Gianni answered that nothing could be so pleasing to him as this and promised that he would without fail, as soon as he should have taken his leave of her, put the matter in train on such wise that he might carry her away with him, the first time he returned thither. Then, embracing each other with exceeding pleasure, they took that delight beyond which Love can afford no greater, and after reiterating it again and again, they fell asleep, without perceiving it, in each other's arms.

Meanwhile, the king, who had at first sight been greatly taken with the damsel,271 calling her to mind and feeling himself well of body, determined, albeit it was nigh upon day, to go and abide with her awhile. Accordingly, he betook himself privily to La Cuba with certain of his servants and entering the pavilion, caused softly open the chamber wherein he knew the girl slept. Then, with a great lighted flambeau before him, he entered therein and looking upon the bed, saw her and Gianni lying asleep and naked in each other's arms; whereas he was of a sudden furiously incensed and flamed up into such a passion of wrath that it lacked of little but he had, without saying a word, slain them both then and there with a dagger he had by his side. However, esteeming it a very base thing of any man, much more a king, to slay two naked folk in their sleep, he contained himself and determined to put them to death in public and by fire; wherefore, turning to one only companion he had with him, he said to him, 'How deemest thou of this vile woman, on whom I had set my hope?' And after he asked him if he knew the young man who had dared enter his house to do him such an affront and such an outrage; but he answered that he remembered not ever to have seen him. The king then departed the chamber, full of rage, and commanded that the two lovers should be taken and bound, naked as they were, and that, as soon as it was broad day, they should be carried to Palermo and there bound to a stake, back to back, in the public place, where they should be kept till the hour of tierce, so they might be seen of all, and after burnt, even as they had deserved; and this said, he returned to his palace at Palermo, exceeding wroth.

The king gone, there fell many upon the two lovers and not only awakened them, but forthright without any pity took them and bound them; which when they saw, it may lightly be conceived if they were woeful and feared for their lives and wept and made moan. According to the king's commandment, they were carried to Palermo and bound to a stake in the public place, whilst the faggots and the fire were made ready before their eyes, to burn them at the hour appointed. Thither straightway flocked all the townsfolk, both men and women, to see the two lovers; the men all pressed to look upon the damsel and like as they praised her for fair and well made in every part of her body, even so, on the other hand, the women, who all ran to gaze upon the young man, supremely commended him for handsome and well shapen. But the wretched lovers, both sore ashamed, stood with bowed heads and bewailed their sorry fortune, hourly expecting the cruel death by fire.

Whilst they were thus kept against the appointed hour, the default of them committed, being bruited about everywhere, came to the ears of Ruggieri dell' Oria, a man of inestimable worth and then the king's admiral, whereupon he repaired to the place where they were bound and considering first the girl, commended her amain for beauty, then, turning to look upon the young man, knew him without much difficulty and drawing nearer to him, asked him if he were not Gianni di Procida. The youth, raising his eyes and recognizing the admiral, answered, 'My lord, I was indeed he of whom you ask; but I am about to be no more.' The admiral then asked him what had brought him272 to that pass, and he answered, 'Love and the king's anger.' The admiral caused him tell his story more at large and having heard everything from him as it had happened, was about to depart, when Gianni called him back and said to him, 'For God's sake, my lord, an it may be, get me one favour of him who maketh me to abide thus.' 'What is that?' asked Ruggieri; and Gianni said, 'I see I must die, and that speedily, and I ask, therefore, by way of favour,—as I am bound with my back to this damsel, whom I have loved more than my life, even as she hath loved me, and she with her back to me,—that we may be turned about with our faces one to the other, so that, dying, I may look upon her face and get me gone, comforted.' 'With all my heart,' answered Ruggieri, laughing; 'I will do on such wise that thou shalt yet see her till thou grow weary of her sight.'

Then, taking leave of him, he charged those who were appointed to carry the sentence into execution that they should proceed no farther therein, without other commandment of the king, and straightway betook himself to the latter, to whom, albeit he saw him sore incensed, he spared not to speak his mind, saying, 'King, in what have the two young folk offended against thee, whom thou hast commanded to be burned yonder in the public place?' The king told him and Ruggieri went on, 'The offence committed by them deserveth it indeed, but not from thee; for, like as defaults merit punishment, even so do good offices merit recompense, let alone grace and clemency. Knowest thou who these are thou wouldst have burnt?' The king answered no, and Ruggieri continued, 'Then I will have thee know them, so thou mayst see how discreetly[280] thou sufferest thyself to be carried away by the transports of passion. The young man is the son of Landolfo di Procida, own brother to Messer Gian di Procida,[281] by whose means thou art king and lord of this island, and the damsel is the daughter of Marino Bolgaro, to whose influence thou owest it that thine officers have not been driven forth of Ischia. Moreover, they are lovers who have long loved one another and constrained of love, rather than of will to do despite to thine authority, have done this sin, if that can be called sin which young folk do for love. Wherefore, then, wilt thou put them to death, whenas thou shouldst rather honour them with the greatest favours and boons at thy commandment?'

The king, hearing this and certifying himself that Ruggieri spoke sooth, not only forbore from proceeding to do worse, but repented him of that which he had done, wherefore he commanded incontinent that the two lovers should be loosed from the stake and brought before him; which was forthright done.273 Therewith, having fully acquainted himself with their case, he concluded that it behoved him requite them the injury he had done them with gifts and honour; wherefore he let clothe them anew on sumptuous wise and finding them of one accord, caused Gianni to take the damsel to wife. Then, making them magnificent presents, he sent them back, rejoicing, to their own country, where they were received with the utmost joyance and delight."


Day the Fifth


The ladies, who abode all fearful in suspense to know if the lovers should be burnt, hearing of their escape, praised God and were glad; whereupon the queen, seeing that Pampinea had made an end of her story, imposed on Lauretta the charge of following on, who blithely proceeded to say: "Fairest ladies, in the days when good King William[282] ruled over Sicily, there was in that island a gentleman hight Messer Amerigo Abate of Trapani, who, among other worldly goods, was very well furnished with children; wherefore, having occasion for servants and there coming thither from the Levant certain galleys of Genoese corsairs, who had, in their cruises off the coast of Armenia, taken many boys, he bought some of these latter, deeming them Turks, and amongst them one, Teodoro by name, of nobler mien and better bearing than the rest, who seemed all mere shepherds. Teodoro, although entreated as a slave, was brought up in the house with Messer Amerigo's children and conforming more to his own nature than to the accidents of fortune, approved himself so accomplished and well-bred and so commended himself to Messer Amerigo that he set him free and still believing him to be a Turk, caused baptize him and call him Pietro and made him chief over all his affairs, trusting greatly in him.

As Messer Amerigo's children grew up, there grew up with them a daughter of his, called Violante, a fair and dainty damsel, who, her father tarrying overmuch to marry her, became by chance enamoured of Pietro and loving him and holding his manners and fashions in great esteem, was yet ashamed to discover this to him. But Love spared her that pains, for that Pietro, having once and again looked upon her by stealth, had become so passionately enamoured of her that he never knew ease save whenas he saw her; but he was sore274 afraid lest any should become aware thereof, himseeming that in this he did other than well. The young lady, who took pleasure in looking upon him, soon perceived this and to give him more assurance, showed herself exceeding well pleased therewith, as indeed she was. On this wise they abode a great while, daring not to say aught to one another, much as each desired it; but, whilst both, alike enamoured, languished enkindled in the flames of love, fortune, as if it had determined of will aforethought that this should be, furnished them with an occasion of doing away the timorousness that baulked them.

Messer Amerigo had, about a mile from Trapani, a very goodly place,[283] to which his lady was wont ofttimes to resort by way of pastime with her daughter and other women and ladies. Thither accordingly they betook themselves one day of great heat, carrying Pietro with them, and there abiding, it befell, as whiles we see it happen in summer time, that the sky became of a sudden overcast with dark clouds, wherefore the lady set out with her company to return to Trapani, so they might not be there overtaken of the foul weather, and fared on as fast as they might. But Pietro and Violante, being young, outwent her mother and the rest by a great way, urged belike, no less by love than by fear of the weather, and they being already so far in advance that they were hardly to be seen, it chanced that, of a sudden, after many thunderclaps, a very heavy and thick shower of hail began to fall, wherefrom the lady and her company fled into the house of a husbandman.

Pietro and the young lady, having no readier shelter, took refuge in a little old hut, well nigh all in ruins, wherein none dwelt, and there huddled together under a small piece of roof, that yet remained whole. The scantness of the cover constrained them to press close one to other, and this touching was the means of somewhat emboldening their minds to discover the amorous desires that consumed them both; and Pietro first began to say, 'Would God this hail might never give over, so but I might abide as I am!' 'Indeed,' answered the girl, 'that were dear to me also.' From these words they came to taking each other by the hands and pressing them and from that to clipping and after to kissing, it hailing still the while; and in short, not to recount every particular, the weather mended not before they had known the utmost delights of love and had taken order to have their pleasure secretly one of the other. The storm ended, they fared on to the gate of the city, which was near at hand, and there awaiting the lady, returned home with her.

Thereafter, with very discreet and secret ordinance, they foregathered again and again in the same place, to the great contentment of them both, and the work went on so briskly that the young lady became with child, which was sore unwelcome both to the one and the other; wherefore she used many arts to rid herself, contrary to the course of nature, of her burden, but could nowise avail to accomplish it. Therewithal, Pietro, fearing for his life, bethought himself to flee and told her, to which she answered, 'An thou de275part, I will without fail kill myself.' Whereupon quoth Pietro, who loved her exceedingly, 'Lady mine, how wilt thou have me abide here? Thy pregnancy will discover our default and it will lightly be pardoned unto thee; but I, poor wretch, it will be must needs bear the penalty of thy sin and mine own.' 'Pietro,' replied she, 'my sin must indeed be discovered; but be assured that thine will never be known, an thou tell not thyself.' Then said he, 'Since thou promisest me this, I will remain; but look thou keep thy promise to me.'

After awhile, the young lady, who had as most she might, concealed her being with child, seeing that, for the waxing of her body, she might no longer dissemble it, one day discovered her case to her mother, beseeching her with many tears to save her; whereupon the lady, beyond measure woeful, gave her hard words galore and would know of her how the thing had come about. Violante, in order that no harm might come to Pietro, told her a story of her own devising, disguising the truth in other forms. The lady believed it and to conceal her daughter's default, sent her away to a country house of theirs. There, the time of her delivery coming and the girl crying out, as women use to do, what while her mother never dreamed that Messer Amerigo, who was well nigh never wont to do so, should come thither, it chanced that he passed, on his return from hawking, by the chamber where his daughter lay and marvelling at the outcry she made, suddenly entered the chamber and demanded what was to do. The lady, seeing her husband come unawares, started up all woebegone and told him that which had befallen the girl. But he, less easy of belief than his wife had been, declared that it could not be true that she knew not by whom she was with child and would altogether know who he was, adding that, by confessing it, she might regain his favour; else must she make ready to die without mercy.

The lady did her utmost to persuade her husband to abide content with that which she had said; but to no purpose. He flew out into a passion and running, with his naked sword in his hand, at his daughter, who, what while her mother held her father in parley, had given birth to a male child, said, 'Either do thou discover by whom the child was begotten, or thou shalt die without delay.' The girl, fearing death, broke her promise to Pietro and discovered all that had passed between him and her; which when the gentleman heard, he fell into a fury of anger and hardly withheld himself from slaying her.

However, after he had said to her that which his rage dictated to him, he took horse again and returning to Trapani, recounted the affront that Pietro had done him to a certain Messer Currado, who was captain there for the king. The latter caused forthright seize Pietro, who was off his guard, and put him to the torture, whereupon he confessed all and being a few days after sentenced by the captain to be flogged through the city and after strung up by the neck, Messer Amerigo (whose wrath had not been done away by the having brought Pietro to death,) in order that one and the same hour should rid the earth of the two lovers and their child, put poison in a hanap with wine and delivering it, together with a naked poniard, to a serving-man of his, said276 to him, 'Carry these two things to Violante and bid her, on my part, forthright take which she will of these two deaths, poison or steel; else will I have her burned alive, even as she hath deserved, in the presence of as many townsfolk as be here. This done, thou shalt take the child, a few days agone born of her, and dash its head against the wall and after cast it to the dogs to eat.' This barbarous sentence passed by the cruel father upon his daughter and his grandchild, the servant, who was more disposed to ill than to good, went off upon his errand.

Meanwhile, Pietro, as he was carried to the gallows by the officers, being scourged of them the while, passed, according as it pleased those who led the company, before a hostelry wherein were three noblemen of Armenia, who had been sent by the king of that country ambassadors to Rome, to treat with the Pope of certain matters of great moment, concerning a crusade that was about to be undertaken, and who had lighted down there to take some days' rest and refreshment. They had been much honoured by the noblemen of Trapani and especially by Messer Amerigo, and hearing those pass who led Pietro, they came to a window to see. Now Pietro was all naked to the waist, with his hands bounden behind his back, and one of the three ambassadors, a man of great age and authority, named Fineo, espied on his breast a great vermeil spot, not painted, but naturally imprinted on his skin, after the fashion of what women here call roses. Seeing this, there suddenly recurred to his memory a son of his who had been carried off by corsairs fifteen years agone upon the coast of Lazistan and of whom he had never since been able to learn any news; and considering the age of the poor wretch who was scourged, he bethought himself that, if his son were alive, he must be of such an age as Pietro appeared to him. Wherefore he began to suspect by that token that it must be he and bethought himself that, were he indeed his son, he should still remember him of his name and that of his father and of the Armenian tongue. Accordingly, as he drew near, he called out, saying, 'Ho, Teodoro!' Pietro, hearing this, straightway lifted up his head and Fineo, speaking in Armenian, said to him, 'What countryman art thou and whose son?' The sergeants who had him in charge halted with him, of respect for the nobleman, so that Pietro answered, saying, 'I was of Armenia and son to one Fineo and was brought hither, as a little child, by I know not what folk.'

Fineo, hearing this, knew him for certain to be the son whom he had lost, wherefore he came down, weeping, with his companions, and ran to embrace him among all the sergeants; then, casting over his shoulders a mantle of the richest silk, which he had on his own back, he besought the officer who was escorting him to execution to be pleased to wait there till such time as commandment should come to him to carry the prisoner back; to which he answered that he would well. Now Fineo had already learned the reason for which Pietro was being led to death, report having noised it abroad everywhere; wherefore he straightway betook himself, with his companions and their retinue, to Messer Currado and bespoke him thus: 'Sir, he whom you have doomed to die, as a slave, is a free man277 and my son and is ready to take to wife her whom it is said he hath bereft of her maidenhead; wherefore may it please you to defer the execution till such time as it may be learned if she will have him to husband, so, in case she be willing, you may not be found to have done contrary to the law.' Messer Currado, hearing that the condemned man was Fineo's son, marvelled and confessing that which the latter said to be true, was somewhat ashamed of the unright of fortune and straightway caused carry Pietro home; then, sending for Messer Amerigo, he acquainted him with these things.

Messer Amerigo, who by this believed his daughter and grandson to be dead, was the woefullest man in the world for that which he had done, seeing that all might very well have been set right, so but Violante were yet alive. Nevertheless, he despatched a runner whereas his daughter was, to the intent that, in case his commandment had not been done, it should not be carried into effect. The messenger found the servant sent by Messer Amerigo rating the lady, before whom he had laid the poniard and the poison, for that she made not her election as speedily [as he desired], and would have constrained her to take the one or the other. But, hearing his lord's commandment, he let her be and returning to Messer Amerigo, told him how the case stood, to the great satisfaction of the latter, who, betaking himself whereas Fineo was, excused himself, well nigh with tears, as best he knew, of that which had passed, craving pardon therefor and evouching that, an Teodoro would have his daughter to wife, he was exceeding well pleased to give her to him. Fineo gladly received his excuses and answered, 'It is my intent that my son shall take your daughter to wife; and if he will not, let the sentence passed upon him take its course.'

Accordingly, being thus agreed, they both repaired whereas Teodoro abode yet all fearful of death, albeit he was rejoiced to have found his father again, and questioned him of his mind concerning this thing. When he heard that, an he would, he might have Violante to wife, such was his joy that himseemed he had won from hell to heaven at one bound, and he answered that this would be to him the utmost of favours, so but it pleased both of them. Thereupon they sent to know the mind of the young lady, who, whereas she abode in expectation of death, the woefullest woman alive, hearing that which had betided and was like to betide Teodoro, after much parley, began to lend some faith to their words and taking a little comfort, answered that, were she to ensue her own wishes in the matter, no greater happiness could betide her than to be the wife of Teodoro; algates, she would do that which her father should command her.

Accordingly, all parties being of accord, the two lovers were married with the utmost magnificence, to the exceeding satisfaction of all the townsfolk; and the young lady, heartening herself and letting rear her little son, became ere long fairer than ever. Then, being risen from childbed, she went out to meet Fineo, whose return was expected from Rome, and paid him reverence as to a father; whereupon he, exceeding well pleased to have so fair a daughter-in-law, caused celebrate their nuptials278 with the utmost pomp and rejoicing and receiving her as a daughter, ever after held her such. And after some days, taking ship with his son and her and his little grandson, he carried them with him into Lazistan, where the two lovers abode in peace and happiness, so long as life endured unto them."


Day the Fifth


No sooner was Lauretta silent than Filomena, by the queen's commandment, began thus: "Lovesome ladies, even as pity is in us commended, so also is cruelty rigorously avenged by Divine justice; the which that I may prove to you and so engage you altogether to purge yourselves therefrom, it pleaseth me tell you a story no less pitiful than delectable.

In Ravenna, a very ancient city of Romagna, there were aforetime many noblemen and gentlemen, and amongst the rest a young man called Nastagio degli Onesti, who had, by the death of his father and an uncle of his, been left rich beyond all estimation and who, as it happeneth often with young men, being without a wife, fell in love with a daughter of Messer Paolo Traversari, a young lady of much greater family than his own, hoping by his fashions to bring her to love him in return. But these, though great and goodly and commendable, not only profited him nothing; nay, it seemed they did him harm, so cruel and obdurate and intractable did the beloved damsel show herself to him, being grown belike, whether for her singular beauty or the nobility of her birth, so proud and disdainful that neither he nor aught that pleased him pleased her. This was so grievous to Nastagio to bear that many a time, for chagrin, being weary of complaining, he had it in his thought to kill himself, but held his hand therefrom; and again and again he took it to heart to let her be altogether or have her, an he might, in hatred, even as she had him. But in vain did he take such a resolve, for that, the more hope failed him, the more it seemed his love redoubled. Accordingly, he persisted both in loving and in spending without stint or measure, till it seemed to certain of his friends and kinsfolk that he was like to consume both himself and his substance; wherefore they besought him again and again and counselled him depart Ravenna and go sojourn awhile in some other place, for279 that, so doing, he would abate both his passion and his expenditure. Nastagio long made light of this counsel, but, at last, being importuned of them and able no longer to say no, he promised to do as they would have him and let make great preparations, as he would go into France or Spain or some other far place. Then, taking horse in company with many of his friends, he rode out of Ravenna and betook himself to a place called Chiassi, some three miles from the city, where, sending for tents and pavilions, he told those who had accompanied him thither that he meant to abide and that they might return to Ravenna. Accordingly, having encamped there, he proceeded to lead the goodliest and most magnificent life that was aye, inviting now these, now those others, to supper and to dinner, as he was used.

It chanced one day, he being come thus well nigh to the beginning of May and the weather being very fair, that, having entered into thought of his cruel mistress, he bade all his servants leave him to himself, so he might muse more at his leisure, and wandered on, step by step, lost in melancholy thought, till he came [unwillingly] into the pine-wood. The fifth hour of the day was well nigh past and he had gone a good half mile into the wood, remembering him neither of eating nor of aught else, when himseemed of a sudden he heard a terrible great wailing and loud cries uttered by a woman; whereupon, his dulcet meditation being broken, he raised his head to see what was to do and marvelled to find himself among the pines; then, looking before him, he saw a very fair damsel come running, naked through a thicket all thronged with underwood and briers, towards the place where he was, weeping and crying sore for mercy and all dishevelled and torn by the bushes and the brambles. At her heels ran two huge and fierce mastiffs, which followed hard upon her and ofttimes bit her cruelly, whenas they overtook her; and after them he saw come riding upon a black courser a knight arrayed in sad-coloured armour, with a very wrathful aspect and a tuck in his hand, threatening her with death in foul and fearsome words.

This sight filled Nastagio's mind at once with terror and amazement and after stirred him to compassion of the ill-fortuned lady, wherefrom arose a desire to deliver her, an but he might, from such anguish and death. Finding himself without arms, he ran to take the branch of a tree for a club, armed wherewith, he advanced to meet the dogs and the knight. When the latter saw this, he cried out to him from afar off, saying, 'Nastagio, meddle not; suffer the dogs and myself to do that which this wicked woman hath merited.' As he spoke, the dogs, laying fast hold of the damsel by the flanks, brought her to a stand and the knight, coming up, lighted down from his horse; whereupon Nastagio drew near unto him and said, 'I know not who thou mayst be, that knowest me so well; but this much I say to see that it is a great felony for an armed knight to seek to slay a naked woman and to set the dogs on her, as she were a wild beast; certes, I will defend her as most I may.'

'Nastagio,' answered the knight, 'I was of one same city with thyself and thou wast yet a little child when I, who hight Messer Guido degli Anastagi, was yet more passionately enamoured of280 this woman than thou art presently of yonder one of the Traversari and my ill fortune for her hard-heartedness and barbarity came to such a pass that one day I slew myself in despair with this tuck thou seest in my hand and was doomed to eternal punishment. Nor was it long ere she, who was beyond measure rejoiced at my death, died also and for the sin of her cruelty and of the delight had of her in my torments (whereof she repented her not, as one who thought not to have sinned therein, but rather to have merited reward,) was and is on like wise condemned to the pains of hell. Wherein no sooner was she descended than it was decreed unto her and to me, for penance thereof,[284] that she should flee before me and that I, who once loved her so dear, should pursue her, not as a beloved mistress, but as a mortal enemy, and that, as often as I overtook her, I should slay her with this tuck, wherewith I slew myself, and ripping open her loins, tear from her body, as thou shalt presently see, that hard and cold heart, wherein nor love nor pity might ever avail to enter, together with the other entrails, and give them to the dogs to eat. Nor is it a great while after ere, as God's justice and puissance will it, she riseth up again, as she had not been dead, and beginneth anew her woeful flight, whilst the dogs and I again pursue her. And every Friday it betideth that I come up with her here at this hour and wreak on her the slaughter that thou shalt see; and think not that we rest the other days; nay, I overtake her in other places, wherein she thought and wrought cruelly against me. Thus, being as thou seest, from her lover grown her foe, it behoveth me pursue her on this wise as many years as she was cruel to me months. Wherefore leave me to carry the justice of God into effect and seek not to oppose that which thou mayst not avail to hinder.'

Nastagio, hearing these words, drew back, grown all adread, with not an hair on his body but stood on end, and looking upon the wretched damsel, began fearfully to await that which the knight should do. The latter, having made an end of his discourse, ran, tuck in hand, as he were a ravening dog, at the damsel, who, fallen on her knees and held fast by the two mastiffs, cried him mercy, and smiting her with all his might amiddleward the breast, pierced her through and through. No sooner had she received this stroke than she fell grovelling on the ground, still weeping and crying out; whereupon the knight, clapping his hand to his hunting-knife, ripped open her loins and tearing forth her heart and all that was thereabout, cast them to the two mastiffs, who devoured them incontinent, as being sore anhungred. Nor was it long ere, as if none of these things had been, the damsel of a sudden rose to her feet and began to flee towards the sea, with the dogs after her, still rending her; and in a little while they had gone so far that Nastagio could see them no more. The latter, seeing these things, abode a great while between pity and fear, and presently it occurred to his mind that this might much avail him, seeing that it befell every Friday; wherefore, marking the place, he returned to his servants and after, whenas it seemed to him fit, he sent for sundry281 of his kinsmen and friends and said to them, 'You have long urged me leave loving this mine enemy and put an end to my expenditure, and I am ready to do it, provided you will obtain me a favour; the which is this, that on the coming Friday you make shift to have Messer Paolo Traversari and his wife and daughter and all their kinswomen and what other ladies soever it shall please you here to dinner with me. That for which I wish this, you shall see then.' This seemed to them a little thing enough to do, wherefore, returning to Ravenna, they in due time invited those whom Nastagio would have to dine with him, and albeit it was no easy matter to bring thither the young lady whom he loved, natheless she went with the other ladies. Meanwhile, Nastagio let make ready a magnificent banquet and caused set the tables under the pines round about the place where he had witnessed the slaughter of the cruel lady.

The time come, he seated the gentlemen and the ladies at table and so ordered it that his mistress should be placed right over against the spot where the thing should befall. Accordingly, hardly was the last dish come when the despairful outcry of the hunted damsel began to be heard of all, whereat each of the company marvelled and enquired what was to do, but none could say; whereupon all started to their feet and looking what this might be, they saw the woeful damsel and the knight and the dogs; nor was it long ere they were all there among them. Great was the clamor against both dogs and knight, and many rushed forward to succour the damsel; but the knight, bespeaking them as he had bespoken Nastagio, not only made them draw back, but filled them all with terror and amazement. Then did he as he had done before, whereat all the ladies that were there (and there were many present who had been kinswomen both to the woeful damsel and to the knight and who remembered them both of his love and of his death) wept as piteously as if they had seen this done to themselves.

The thing carried to its end and the damsel and the knight gone, the adventure set those who had seen it upon many and various discourses; but of those who were the most affrighted was the cruel damsel beloved of Nastagio, who had distinctly seen and heard the whole matter and understood that these things concerned her more than any other who was there, remembering her of the cruelty she had still used towards Nastagio; wherefore herseemed she fled already before her enraged lover and had the mastiffs at her heels. Such was the terror awakened in her thereby that,—so this might not betide her,—no sooner did she find an opportunity (which was afforded her that same evening) than, turning her hatred into love, she despatched to Nastagio a trusty chamberwoman of hers, who besought him that it should please him to go to her, for that she was ready to do all that should be his pleasure. He answered that this was exceeding agreeable to him, but that, so it pleased her, he desired to have his pleasure of her with honour, to wit, by taking her to wife. The damsel, who knew that it rested with none other than herself that she had not been his wife, made answer to him that it liked her well; then, playing the messenger herself, she told282 her father and mother that she was content to be Nastagio's wife, whereat they were mightily rejoiced, and he, espousing her on the ensuing Sunday and celebrating his nuptials, lived with her long and happily. Nor was this affright the cause of that good only; nay, all the ladies of Ravenna became so fearful by reason thereof, that ever after they were much more amenable than they had before been to the desires of the men."


Day the Fifth


Filomena having ceased speaking, the queen, seeing that none remained to tell save only herself and Dioneo, whose privilege entitled him to speak last, said, with blithe aspect, "It pertaineth now to me to tell and I, dearest ladies, will willingly do it, relating a story like in part to the foregoing, to the intent that not only may you know how much the love of you[285] can avail in gentle hearts, but that you may learn to be yourselves, whenas it behoveth, bestowers of your guerdons, without always suffering fortune to be your guide, which most times, as it chanceth, giveth not discreetly, but out of all measure.

You must know, then, that Coppo di Borghese Domenichi, who was of our days and maybe is yet a man of great worship and authority in our city and illustrious and worthy of eternal renown, much more for his fashions and his merit than for the nobility of his blood, being grown full of years, delighted oftentimes to discourse with his neighbours and others of things past, the which he knew how to do better and more orderly and with more memory and elegance of speech than any other man. Amongst other fine things of his, he was used to tell that there was once in Florence a young man called Federigo, son of Messer Filippo Alberighi and renowned for deeds of arms and courtesy over every other bachelor in Tuscany, who, as betideth most gentlemen, became enamoured of a gentlewoman named Madam Giovanna, in her day held one of the fairest and sprightliest ladies that were in Florence; and to win her love, he held jousts and tourneyings and made entertainments and gave gifts and spent his substance without any stint; but she, being no less virtuous than fair, recked nought of these things done for her nor of him who did them. Federigo spending thus far beyond his means and gaining nought, his wealth, as lightly happeneth, in course of time came to283 an end and he abode poor, nor was aught left him but a poor little farm, on whose returns he lived very meagrely, and to boot a falcon he had, one of the best in the world. Wherefore, being more in love than ever and himseeming he might no longer make such a figure in the city as he would fain do, he took up his abode at Campi, where his farm was, and there bore his poverty with patience, hawking whenas he might and asking of no one.

Federigo being thus come to extremity, it befell one day that Madam Giovanna's husband fell sick and seeing himself nigh upon death, made his will, wherein, being very rich, he left a son of his, now well grown, his heir, after which, having much loved Madam Giovanna, he substituted her to his heir, in case his son should die without lawful issue, and died. Madam Giovanna, being thus left a widow, betook herself that summer, as is the usance of our ladies, into the country with her son to an estate of hers very near that of Federigo; wherefore it befell that the lad made acquaintance with the latter and began to take delight in hawks and hounds, and having many a time seen his falcon flown and being strangely taken therewith, longed sore to have it, but dared not ask it of him, seeing it so dear to him. The thing standing thus, it came to pass that the lad fell sick, whereat his mother was sore concerned, as one who had none but him and loved him with all her might, and abode about him all day, comforting him without cease; and many a time she asked him if there were aught he desired, beseeching him tell it her, for an it might be gotten, she would contrive that he should have it. The lad, having heard these offers many times repeated, said, 'Mother mine, an you could procure me to have Federigo's falcon, methinketh I should soon be whole.'

The lady hearing this, bethought herself awhile and began to consider how she should do. She knew that Federigo had long loved her and had never gotten of her so much as a glance of the eye; wherefore quoth she in herself, 'How shall I send or go to him to seek of him this falcon, which is, by all I hear, the best that ever flew and which, to boot, maintaineth him in the world? And how can I be so graceless as to offer to take this from a gentleman who hath none other pleasure left?' Perplexed with this thought and knowing not what to say, for all she was very certain of getting the bird, if she asked for it, she made no reply to her son, but abode silent. However, at last, the love of her son so got the better of her that she resolved in herself to satisfy him, come what might, and not to send, but to go herself for the falcon and fetch it to him. Accordingly she said to him, 'My son, take comfort and bethink thyself to grow well again, for I promise thee that the first thing I do to-morrow morning I will go for it and fetch it to thee.' The boy was rejoiced at this and showed some amendment that same day.

Next morning, the lady, taking another lady to bear her company, repaired, by way of diversion, to Federigo's little house and enquired for the latter, who, for that it was no weather for hawking nor had been for some days past, was then in a garden he had, overlooking the doing of certain little matters of his, and hearing that Madam284 Giovanna asked for him at the door, ran thither, rejoicing and marvelling exceedingly. She, seeing him come, rose and going with womanly graciousness to meet him, answered his respectful salutation with 'Give you good day, Federigo!' then went on to say, 'I am come to make thee amends for that which thou hast suffered through me, in loving me more than should have behooved thee; and the amends in question is this that I purpose to dine with thee this morning familiarly, I and this lady my companion.' 'Madam,' answered Federigo humbly, 'I remember me not to have ever received any ill at your hands, but on the contrary so much good that, if ever I was worth aught, it came about through your worth and the love I bore you; and assuredly, albeit you have come to a poor host, this your gracious visit is far more precious to me than it would be an it were given me to spend over again as much as that which I have spent aforetime.' So saying, he shamefastly received her into his house and thence brought her into his garden, where, having none else to bear her company, he said to her, 'Madam, since there is none else here, this good woman, wife of yonder husbandman, will bear you company, whilst I go see the table laid.'

Never till that moment, extreme as was his poverty, had he been so dolorously sensible of the straits to which he had brought himself for the lack of those riches he had spent on such disorderly wise. But that morning, finding he had nothing wherewithal he might honourably entertain the lady, for love of whom he had aforetime entertained folk without number, he was made perforce aware of his default and ran hither and thither, perplexed beyond measure, like a man beside himself, inwardly cursing his ill fortune, but found neither money nor aught he might pawn. It was now growing late and he having a great desire to entertain the gentle lady with somewhat, yet choosing not to have recourse to his own labourer, much less any one else, his eye fell on his good falcon, which he saw on his perch in his little saloon; whereupon, having no other resource, he took the bird and finding him fat, deemed him a dish worthy of such a lady. Accordingly, without more ado, he wrung the hawk's neck and hastily caused a little maid of his pluck it and truss it and after put it on the spit and roast it diligently. Then, the table laid and covered with very white cloths, whereof he had yet some store, he returned with a blithe countenance to the lady in the garden and told her that dinner was ready, such as it was in his power to provide. Accordingly, the lady and her friend, arising, betook themselves to table and in company with Federigo, who served them with the utmost diligence, ate the good falcon, unknowing what they did.

Presently, after they had risen from table and had abidden with him awhile in cheerful discourse, the lady, thinking it time to tell that wherefor she was come, turned to Federigo and courteously bespoke him, saying, 'Federigo, I doubt not a jot but that, when thou hearest that which is the especial occasion of my coming hither, thou wilt marvel at my presumption, remembering thee of thy past life and of my virtue, which latter belike thou reputedst cruelty and hardness of heart;285 but, if thou hadst or hadst had children, by whom thou mightest know how potent is the love one beareth them, meseemeth certain that thou wouldst in part hold me excused. But, although thou hast none, I, who have one child, cannot therefore escape the common laws to which other mothers are subject and whose enforcements it behoveth me ensue, need must I, against my will and contrary to all right and seemliness, ask of thee a boon, which I know is supremely dear to thee (and that with good reason, for that thy sorry fortune hath left thee none other delight, none other diversion, none other solace), to wit, thy falcon, whereof my boy is so sore enamoured that, an I carry it not to him, I fear me his present disorder will be so aggravated that there may presently ensue thereof somewhat whereby I shall lose him. Wherefore I conjure thee,—not by the love thou bearest me and whereto thou art nowise beholden, but by thine own nobility, which in doing courtesy hath approved itself greater than in any other,—that it please thee give it to me, so by the gift I may say I have kept my son alive and thus made him for ever thy debtor.'

Federigo, hearing what the lady asked and knowing that he could not oblige her, for that he had given her the falcon to eat, fell a-weeping in her presence, ere he could answer a word. The lady at first believed that his tears arose from grief at having to part from his good falcon and was like to say that she would not have it. However, she contained herself and awaited what Federigo should reply, who, after weeping awhile, made answer thus: 'Madam, since it pleased God that I should set my love on you, I have in many things reputed fortune contrary to me and have complained of her; but all the ill turns she hath done me have been a light matter in comparison with that which she doth me at this present and for which I can never more be reconciled to her, considering that you are come hither to my poor house, whereas you deigned not to come what while I was rich, and seek of me a little boon, the which she hath so wrought that I cannot grant you; and why this cannot be I will tell you briefly. When I heard that you, of your favour, were minded to dine with me, I deemed it a light thing and a seemly, having regard to your worth and the nobility of your station, to honour you, as far as in me lay, with some choicer victual than that which is commonly set before other folk; wherefore, remembering me of the falcon which you ask of me and of his excellence, I judged him a dish worthy of you. This very morning, then, you have had him roasted upon the trencher, and indeed I had accounted him excellently well bestowed; but now, seeing that you would fain have had him on other wise, it is so great a grief to me that I cannot oblige you therein that methinketh I shall never forgive myself therefor.' So saying, in witness of this, he let cast before her the falcon's feathers and feet and beak.

The lady, seeing and hearing this, first blamed him for having, to give a woman to eat, slain such a falcon, and after inwardly much commended the greatness of his soul, which poverty had not availed nor might anywise avail to abate. Then, being put out of all hope of having the falcon and fallen therefore in doubt of her son's recovery, she286 took her leave and returned, all disconsolate, to the latter, who, before many days had passed, whether for chagrin that he could not have the bird or for that his disorder was e'en fated to bring him to that pass, departed this life, to the inexpressible grief of his mother. After she had abidden awhile full of tears and affliction, being left very rich and yet young, she was more than once urged by her brothers to marry again, and albeit she would fain not have done so, yet, finding herself importuned and calling to mind Federigo's worth and his last magnificence, to wit, the having slain such a falcon for her entertainment, she said to them, 'I would gladly, an it liked you, abide as I am; but, since it is your pleasure that I take a [second] husband, certes I will never take any other, an I have not Federigo degli Alberighi.' Whereupon her brothers, making mock of her, said 'Silly woman that thou art, what is this thou sayest? How canst thou choose him, seeing he hath nothing in the world?' 'Brothers mine,' answered she, 'I know very well that it is as you say; but I would liefer have a man that lacketh of riches than riches that lack of a man.' Her brethren, hearing her mind and knowing Federigo for a man of great merit, poor though he was, gave her, with all her wealth, to him, even as she would; and he, seeing himself married to a lady of such worth and one whom he had loved so dear and exceeding rich, to boot, became a better husband of his substance and ended his days with her in joy and solace."


Day the Fifth


The queen's story come to an end and all having praised God for that He had rewarded Federigo according to his desert, Dioneo, who never waited for commandment, began on this wise: "I know not whether to say if it be a casual vice, grown up in mankind through perversity of manners and usances, or a defect inherent in our nature, that we laugh rather at things ill than at good works, especially when they concern us not. Wherefore, seeing that the pains I have otherwhiles taken and am now about to take aim at none other end than to rid you of melancholy and afford you occasion for laughter287 and merriment,—albeit the matter of my present story may be in part not altogether seemly, nevertheless, lovesome lasses, for that it may afford diversion, I will e'en tell it you, and do you, hearkening thereunto, as you are wont to do, whenas you enter into gardens, where, putting out your dainty hands, you cull the roses and leave the thorns be. On this wise must you do with my story, leaving the naughty man of whom I shall tell you to his infamy and ill-luck go with him, what while you laugh merrily at the amorous devices of his wife, having compassion, whenas need is, of the mischances of others.

There was, then, in Perugia, no great while agone, a rich man called Pietro di Vinciolo, who, belike more to beguile others and to abate the general suspect in which he was had of all the Perugians, than for any desire of his own, took him a wife, and fortune in this was so far conformable to his inclination that the wife he took was a thickset, red-haired, hot-complexioned wench, who would liefer have had two husbands than one, whereas she happened upon one who had a mind far more disposed to otherwhat than to her. Becoming, in process of time, aware of this and seeing herself fair and fresh and feeling herself buxom and lusty, she began by being sore incensed thereat and came once and again to unseemly words thereof with her husband, with whom she was well nigh always at variance. Then, seeing that this might result rather in her own exhaustion than in the amendment of her husband's depravity, she said in herself, 'Yonder caitiff forsaketh me to go of his ribaldries on pattens through the dry, and I will study to carry others on shipboard through the wet. I took him to husband and brought him a fine great dowry, knowing him to be a man and supposing him desireful of that whereunto men are and should be fain; and had I not believed that he would play the part of a man, I had never taken him. He knew that I was a woman; why, then, did he take me to wife, if women were not to his mind? This is not to be suffered. Were I minded to renounce the world, I should have made myself a nun; but, if, choosing to live in the world, as I do, I look for delight or pleasure from yonder fellow, I may belike grow old, expecting in vain, and whenas I shall be old, I shall in vain repent and bemoan myself of having wasted my youth, which latter he himself is a very good teacher and demonstrator how I should solace, showing me by example how I should delect myself with that wherein he delighteth, more by token that this were commendable in me, whereas in him it is exceeding blameworthy, seeing that I should offend against the laws alone, whereas he offendeth against both law and nature.'

Accordingly, the good lady, having thus bethought herself and belike more than once, to give effect privily to these considerations, clapped up an acquaintance with an old woman who showed like Saint Verdiana, that giveth the serpents to eat, and still went to every pardoning, beads in hand, nor ever talked of aught but the lives of the Holy Fathers or of the wounds of St. Francis and was of well nigh all reputed a saint, and whenas it seemed to her time, frankly discovered to her her intent. 'Daughter mine,' replied the beldam, 'God who knoweth all knoweth288 that thou wilt do exceeding well, and if for nought else, yet shouldst thou do it, thou and every other young woman, not to lose the time of your youth, for that to whoso hath understanding, there is no grief like that of having lost one's time. And what a devil are we women good for, once we are old, save to keep the ashes about the fire-pot? If none else knoweth it and can bear witness thereof, that do and can I; for, now that I am old, I recognize without avail, but not without very sore and bitter remorse of mind, the time that I let slip, and albeit I lost it not altogether (for that I would not have thee deem me a ninny), still I did not what I might have done; whereof whenas I remember me, seeing myself fashioned as thou seest me at this present, so that thou wouldst find none to give me fire to my tinder,[286] God knoweth what chagrin I feel. With men it is not so; they are born apt for a thousand things, not for this alone, and most part of them are of much more account old than young; but women are born into the world for nothing but to do this and bear children, and it is for this that they are prized; the which, if from nought else, thou mayst apprehend from this, that we women are still ready for the sport; more by token that one woman would tire out many men at the game, whereas many men cannot tire one woman; and for that we are born unto this, I tell thee again that thou wilt do exceeding well to return thy husband a loaf for his bannock, so thy soul may have no cause to reproach thy flesh in thine old age. Each one hath of this world just so much as he taketh to himself thereof, and especially is this the case with women, whom it behoveth, much more than men, make use of their time, whilst they have it; for thou mayst see how, when we grow old, nor husband nor other will look at us; nay, they send us off to the kitchen to tell tales to the cat and count the pots and pans; and what is worse, they tag rhymes on us and say,

"Tidbits for wenches young;

Gags[287] for the old wife's tongue."

And many another thing to the like purpose. And that I may hold thee no longer in parley, I tell thee in fine that thou couldst not have discovered thy mind to any one in the world who can be more useful to thee than I, for that there is no man so high and mighty but I dare tell him what behoveth, nor any so dour or churlish but I know how to supple him aright and bring him to what I will. Wherefore do thou but show me who pleaseth thee and after leave me do; but one thing I commend to thee, daughter mine, and that is, that thou be mindful of me, for that I am a poor body and would have thee henceforth a sharer in all my pardonings and in all the paternosters I shall say, so God may make them light and candles for thy dead.'[288]


With this she made an end of her discourse, and the young lady came to an understanding with her that, whenas she chanced to spy a certain young spark who passed often through that quarter and whose every feature she set out to her, she should know what she had to do; then, giving her a piece of salt meat, she dismissed her with God's blessing; nor had many days passed ere the old woman brought her him of whom she had bespoken her privily into her chamber, and a little while after, another and another, according as they chanced to take the lady's fancy, who stinted not to indulge herself in this as often as occasion offered, though still fearful of her husband. It chanced one evening that, her husband being to sup abroad with a friend of his, Ercolano by name, she charged the old woman bring her a youth, who was one of the goodliest and most agreeable of all Perugia, which she promptly did; but hardly had the lady seated herself at table to sup with her gallant, when, behold, Pietro called out at the door to have it opened to him. She, hearing this, gave herself up for lost, but yet desiring, an she might, to conceal the youth and not having the presence of mind to send him away or hide him elsewhere, made him take refuge under a hen-coop, that was in a shed adjoining the chamber where they were at supper, and cast over him the sacking of a pallet-bed that she had that day let empty.

This done, she made haste to open to her husband, to whom quoth she, as soon as he entered the house, 'You have very soon despatched this supper of yours!' 'We have not so much as tasted it,' replied he; and she said, 'How was that?' Quoth he, 'I will tell thee. Scarce were we seated at table, Ercolano and his wife and I, when we heard some one sneeze hard by, whereof we took no note the first time nor the second; but, he who sneezed sneezing yet a third time and a fourth and a fifth and many other times, it made us all marvel; whereupon Ercolano, who was somewhat vexed with his wife for that she had kept us a great while standing at the door, without opening to us, said, as if in a rage, "What meaneth this? Who is it sneezeth thus?" And rising from table, made for a stair that stood near at hand and under which, hard by the stairfoot, was a closure of planks, wherein to bestow all manner things, as we see those do every day who set their houses in order. Himseeming it was from this that came the noise of sneezing, he opened a little door that was therein and no sooner had he done this than there issued forth thereof the frightfullest stench of sulphur that might be. Somewhat of this smell had already reached us and we complaining thereof, the lady had said, "It is because I was but now in act to bleach my veils with sulphur and after set the pan, over which I had spread them to catch the fumes, under the stair, so that it yet smoketh thereof."

As soon as the smoke was somewhat spent, Ercolano looked into the cupboard and there espied him who had sneezed and who was yet in act to sneeze, for that the fumes of the sulphur constrained him thereto, and indeed they had by this time so straitened his breast that, had he abidden a while longer, he had never sneezed nor done aught else again. Ercolano, seeing him, cried out, "Now, wife, I see why,290 whenas we came hither awhile ago, we were kept so long at the door, without its being opened to us; but may I never again have aught that shall please me, an I pay thee not for this!" The lady, hearing this and seeing that her sin was discovered, stayed not to make any excuse, but started up from table and made off I know not whither. Ercolano, without remarking his wife's flight, again and again bade him who sneezed come forth; but the latter, who was now at the last gasp, offered not to stir, for all that he could say; whereupon, taking him by one foot, he haled him forth of his hiding-place and ran for a knife to kill him; but I, fearing the police on mine own account, arose and suffered him not to slay him or do him any hurt; nay, crying out and defending him, I gave the alarm to certain of the neighbours, who ran thither and taking the now half-dead youth, carried him forth the house I know not whither. Wherefore, our supper being disturbed by these things, I have not only not despatched it, nay, I have, as I said, not even tasted it.'

The lady, hearing this, knew that there were other women as wise as herself, albeit illhap bytimes betided some of them thereof, and would fain have defended Ercolano's wife with words; but herseeming that, by blaming others' defaults, she might make freer way for her own, she began to say, 'Here be fine doings! A holy and virtuous lady indeed she must be! She, to whom, as I am an honest woman, I would have confessed myself, so spiritually minded meseemed she was! And the worst of it is that she, being presently an old woman, setteth a mighty fine example to the young. Accursed by the hour she came into the world and she also, who suffereth herself to live, perfidious and vile woman that she must be, the general reproach and shame of all the ladies of this city, who, casting to the winds her honour and the faith plighted to her husband and the world's esteem, is not ashamed to dishonour him, and herself with him, for another man, him who is such a man and so worshipful a citizen and who used her so well! So God save me, there should be no mercy had of such women as she; they should be put to death; they should be cast alive into the fire and burned to ashes.' Then, bethinking her of her gallant, whom she had hard by under the coop, she began to exhort Pietro to betake himself to bed, for that it was time; but he, having more mind to eat than to sleep, enquired if there was aught for supper. 'Supper, quotha!' answered the lady. 'Truly, we are much used to get supper, whenas thou art abroad! A fine thing, indeed! Dost thou take me for Ercolano's wife? Alack, why dost thou not go to sleep for to-night? How far better thou wilt do!' Now it chanced that, certain husbandmen of Pietro's being come that evening with sundry matters from the farm and having put up their asses, without watering them, in a little stable adjoining the shed, one of the latter, being sore athirst, slipped his head out of the halter and making his way out of the stable, went smelling to everything, so haply he might find some water, and going thus, he came presently full on the hen-coop, under which was the young man. The latter having, for that it behoved him abide on all fours, put out the fingers of one hand on the ground beyond the coop, such was his luck, or rather291 let us say, his ill luck, that the ass set his hoof on them, whereupon the youth, feeling an exceeding great pain, set up a terrible outcry. Pietro, hearing this, marvelled and perceived that the noise came from within the house; wherefore he went out into the shed and hearing the other still clamouring, for that the ass had not lifted up his hoof from his fingers, but still trod hard upon them, said, 'Who is there?' Then, running to the hen-coop, he raised it and espied the young man, who, beside the pain he suffered from his fingers that were crushed by the ass's hoof, was all a-trembling for fear lest Pietro should do him a mischief.

The latter, knowing him for one whom he had long pursued for his lewd ends, asked him what he did there, whereto he answered him nothing, but prayed him for the love of God do him no harm. Quoth Pietro, 'Arise and fear not that I will do thee any hurt; but tell me how thou comest here and for what purpose.' The youth told him all, whereupon Pietro, no less rejoiced to have found him than his wife was woeful, taking him by the hand, carried him into the chamber, where the lady awaited him with the greatest affright in the world, and seating himself overagainst her, said, 'But now thou cursedst Ercolano's wife and avouchedst that she should be burnt and that she was the disgrace of all you women; why didst thou not speak of thyself? Or, an thou choosedst not to speak of thyself, how could thy conscience suffer thee to speak thus of her, knowing thyself to have done even as did she? Certes, none other thing moved thee thereunto save that you women are all made thus and look to cover your own doings with others' defaults; would fire might come from heaven to burn you all up, perverse generation that you are!'

The lady, seeing that, in the first heat of the discovery, he had done her no harm other than in words and herseeming she saw that he was all agog with joy for that he held so goodly a stripling by the hand, took heart and said, 'Of this much, indeed, I am mighty well assured, that thou wouldst have fire come from heaven to burn us women all up, being, as thou art, as fain to us as a dog to cudgels; but, by Christ His cross, thou shalt not get thy wish. However, I would fain have a little discourse with thee, so I may know of what thou complainest. Certes, it were a fine thing an thou shouldst seek to even me with Ercolano's wife, who is a beat-breast, a smell-sin,[289] and hath of her husband what she will and is of him held dear as a wife should be, the which is not the case with me. For, grant that I am well clad and shod of thee, thou knowest but too well how I fare for the rest and how long it is since thou hast lain with me; and I had liefer go barefoot and rags to my back and be well used of thee abed than have all these things, being used as I am of thee. For understand plainly, Pietro; I am a woman like other women and have a mind unto that which other women desire; so that, an I procure me thereof, not having it from thee, thou hast no call to missay of me therefor; at the least, I do thee this much honour that I have not to do with horseboys and scald-heads.'


Pietro perceived that words were not like to fail her for all that night; wherefore, as one who recked little of her, 'Wife,' said he, 'no more for the present; I will content thee aright of this matter; but thou wilt do us a great courtesy to let us have somewhat to sup withal, for that meseemeth this lad, like myself, hath not yet supped.' 'Certes, no,' answered the lady, 'he hath not yet supped; for we were sitting down to table, when thou camest in thine ill hour.' 'Go, then,' rejoined Pietro, 'contrive that we may sup, and after I will order this matter on such wise that thou shalt have no cause to complain.' The lady, finding that her husband was satisfied, arose and caused straightway reset the table; then, letting bring the supper she had prepared, she supped merrily in company with her caitiff of a husband and the young man. After supper, what Pietro devised for the satisfaction of all three hath escaped my mind; but this much I know that on the following morning the youth was escorted back to the public place, not altogether certain which he had the more been that night, wife or husband. Wherefore, dear my ladies, this will I say to you, 'Whoso doth it to you, do you it to him'; and if you cannot presently, keep it in mind till such time as you can, so he may get as good as he giveth."

Dioneo having made an end of his story, which had been less laughed at by the ladies [than usual], more for shamefastness than for the little delight they took therein, the queen, seeing the end of her sovranty come, rose to her feet and putting off the laurel crown, set it blithely on Elisa's head, saying, "With you, madam, henceforth it resteth to command." Elisa, accepting the honour, did even as it had been done before her, in that, having first, to the satisfaction of the company, taken order with the seneschal for that whereof there was need for the time of her governance, she said, "We have many a time heard how, by dint of smart sayings and ready repartees and prompt advisements, many have availed with an apt retort[290] to take the edge off other folks' teeth or to fend off imminent perils; and, for that the matter is goodly and may be useful,[291] I will that to-morrow, with God's aid, it be discoursed within these terms, to wit, OF WHOSO, BEING ASSAILED WITH SOME JIBING SPEECH, HATH VINDICATED HIMSELF OR HATH WITH SOME READY REPLY OR ADVISEMENT ESCAPED LOSS, PERIL OR SHAME."

This was much commended of all, whereupon the queen, rising to her feet, dismissed them all until supper time. The honourable company, seeing her risen, stood up all and each, according to the wonted fashion, applied himself to that which was most agreeable to him. But, the crickets having now given over singing, the queen let call every one and they betook themselves to supper, which being despatched with merry cheer, they all gave themselves to singing and making music, and Emilia293 having, at the queen's commandment, set up a dance, Dioneo was bidden sing a song, whereupon he straightway struck up with "Mistress Aldruda, come lift up your fud-a, for I bring you, I bring you, good tidings." Whereat all the ladies fell a-laughing and especially the queen, who bade him leave that and sing another. Quoth Dioneo, "Madam, had I a tabret, I would sing 'Come truss your coats, I prithee, Mistress Burdock,' or 'Under the olive the grass is'; or will you have me say 'The waves of the sea do great evil to me'? But I have no tabret, so look which you will of these others. Will it please you have 'Come forth unto us, so it may be cut down, like a May in the midst of the meadows'?" "Nay," answered the queen; "give us another." "Then," said Dioneo, "shall I sing, 'Mistress Simona, embarrel, embarrel! It is not the month of October'?" Quoth the queen, laughing, "Ill luck to thee, sing us a goodly one, an thou wilt, for we will none of these." "Nay, madam," rejoined Dioneo, "fash not yourself; but which then like you better? I know more than a thousand. Will you have 'This my shell an I prick it not well,' or 'Fair and softly, husband mine' or 'I'll buy me a cock, a cock of an hundred pounds sterling'?"[292] Therewithal the queen, somewhat provoked, though all the other ladies laughed, said, "Dioneo, leave jesting and sing us a goodly one; else shalt thou prove how I can be angry." Hearing this, he gave over his quips and cranks and forthright fell a-singing after this fashion:

O Love, the amorous light

That beameth from yon fair one's lovely eyes

Hath made me thine and hers in servant-guise.

The splendour of her lovely eyes, it wrought

That first thy flames were kindled in my breast,

Passing thereto through mine;

Yea, and thy virtue first unto my thought

Her visage fair it was made manifest,

Which picturing, I twine

And lay before her shrine

All virtues, that to her I sacrifice,

Become the new occasion of my sighs.

Thus, dear my lord, thy vassal am I grown

And of thy might obediently await

Grace for my lowliness;

Yet wot I not if wholly there be known

The high desire that in my breast thou'st set

And my sheer faith, no less,

Of her who doth possess

My heart so that from none beneath the skies,

Save her alone, peace would I take or prize.

Wherefore I pray thee, sweet my lord and sire,

Discover it to her and cause her taste

Some scantling of thy heat

294To-me-ward,—for thou seest that in the fire,

Loving, I languish and for torment waste

By inches at her feet,—

And eke in season meet

Commend me to her favour on such wise

As I would plead for thee, should need arise.[293]

Dioneo, by his silence, showing that his song was ended, the queen let sing many others, having natheless much commended his. Then, somedele of the night being spent and the queen feeling the heat of the day to be now overcome of the coolness of the night, she bade each at his pleasure betake himself to rest against the ensuing day.