The Decameron

Day the Second

Here Beginneth the Second Day of the Decameron Wherein Under the Governance of Filomena Is Discoursed of Those Who After Being Baffled by Divers Chances Have Won at Last to a Joyful Issue Beyond Their Hope

The sun had already everywhere brought on the new day with its light and the birds, carolling blithely among the green branches, bore witness thereof unto the ear with their merry songs, when the ladies and the three young men, arising all, entered the gardens and pressing the dewy grass with slow step, went wandering hither and thither, weaving goodly garlands and disporting themselves, a great while. And like as they had done the day foregone, even so did they at present; to wit, having eaten in the cool and danced awhile, they betook them to repose and arising thence after none, came all, by command of their queen, into the fresh meadows, where they seated themselves round about her. Then she, who was fair of favour and exceeding pleasant of aspect, having sat awhile, crowned with her laurel wreath, and looked all her company in the face, bade Neifile give beginning to the day's stories by telling one of her fashion; whereupon the latter, without making any excuse, blithely began to speak thus:



Day the Second


"It chanceth oft, dearest ladies, that he who studieth to befool others, and especially in things reverend, findeth himself with nothing for his pains but flouts and whiles cometh not off scathless. Wherefore, that I may obey the queen's commandment and give beginning to the appointed theme with a story of mine, I purpose to relate to you that which, first misfortunately and after happily, beyond his every thought, betided a townsman of ours.

No great while agone there was at Treviso a German called Arrigo, who, being a poor man, served whoso required him to carry burdens for hire; and withal he was held of all a man of very holy and good life. Wherefore, be it true or untrue, when he died, it befell, according to that which the Trevisans avouch, that, in the hour of his death, the bells of the great church of Treviso began to ring, without being pulled of any. The people of the city, accounting this a miracle, proclaimed this Arrigo a saint and running all to the house where he lay, bore his body, for that of a saint, to the Cathedral, whither they fell to bringing the halt, the impotent and the blind and others afflicted with whatsoever defect or infirmity, as if they should all be made whole by the touch of the body.

In the midst of this great turmoil and concourse of folk, it chanced that there arrived at Treviso three of our townsmen, whereof one was called Stecchi, another Martellino and the third Marchese, men who visited the courts of princes and lords and diverted the beholders by travestying themselves and counterfeiting whatsoever other man with rare motions and grimaces. Never having been there before and seeing all the folk run, they marvelled and hearing the cause, were for going to see what was toward; wherefore they laid up their baggage at an inn and Marchese said, 'We would fain go look upon this saint; but, for my part, I see not how we may avail to win thither, for that I understand the Cathedral place is full of German and other men-at-arms, whom the lord of this city hath stationed there, so no riot may betide; more by token that they say the church is so full of folk that well nigh none else might enter there.' 'Let not that hinder you,' quoth Martellino, who was all agog to see the show; 'I warrant you I will find a means of winning to the holy body.' 'How so?' asked Marchese, and Martellino answered, 'I will tell thee. I will counterfeit myself a cripple and thou on one side and Stecchi on the other shall go upholding me, as it were I could not walk of myself, making as if you would fain bring me to the saint, so he may heal me. There will be none but, seeing us, will make way for us and let us pass.'

The device pleased Marchese and Stecchi and they went forth of the inn without delay, all three. Whenas they50 came to a solitary place, Martellino writhed his hands and fingers and arms and legs and eke his mouth and eyes and all his visnomy on such wise that it was a frightful thing to look upon, nor was there any saw him but would have avouched him to be verily all fordone and palsied of his person. Marchese and Stecchi, taking him up, counterfeited as he was, made straight for the church, with a show of the utmost compunction, humbly beseeching all who came in their way for the love of God to make room for them, the which was lightly yielded them. Brief, every one gazing on them and crying well nigh all, 'Make way! Make way!' they came whereas Saint Arrigo's body lay and Martellino was forthright taken up by certain gentlemen who stood around and laid upon the body, so he might thereby regain the benefit of health. Martellino, having lain awhile, whilst all the folk were on the stretch to see what should come of him, began, as right well he knew how, to make a show of opening first one finger, then a hand and after putting forth an arm and so at last coming to stretch himself out altogether. Which when the people saw, they set up such an outcry in praise of Saint Arrigo as would have drowned the very thunder.

Now, as chance would have it, there was therenigh a certain Florentine, who knew Martellino very well, but had not recognized him, counterfeited as he was, whenas he was brought thither. However, when he saw him grown straight again, he knew him and straightway fell a-laughing and saying, 'God confound him! Who that saw him come had not deemed him palsied in good earnest?' His words were overheard of sundry Trevisans, who asked him incontinent, 'How! Was he not palsied?' 'God forbid!' answered the Florentine. 'He hath ever been as straight as any one of us; but he knoweth better than any man in the world how to play off tricks of this kind and counterfeit what shape soever he will.'

When the others heard this, there needed nothing farther; but they pushed forward by main force and fell a-crying out and saying, 'Seize yonder traitor and scoffer at God and His saints, who, being whole of his body, hath come hither, in the guise of a cripple, to make mock of us and of our saint!' So saying, they laid hold of Martellino and pulled him down from the place where he lay. Then, taking him by the hair of his head and tearing all the clothes off his back, they fell upon him with cuffs and kicks; nor himseemed was there a man in the place but ran to do likewise. Martellino roared out, 'Mercy, for God's sake!' and fended himself as best he might, but to no avail; for the crowd redoubled upon him momently. Stecchi and Marchese, seeing this, began to say one to the other that things stood ill, but, fearing for themselves, dared not come to his aid; nay, they cried out with the rest to put him to death, bethinking them the while how they might avail to fetch him out of the hands of the people, who would certainly have slain him, but for a means promptly taken by Marchese; to wit, all the officers of the Seignory being without the church, he betook himself as quickliest he might, to him who commanded for the Provost and said, 'Help, for God's sake! There is a lewd fellow within who hath cut my purse, with a good hundred gold florins. I51 pray you take him, so I may have mine own again.'

Hearing this, a round dozen of sergeants ran straightway whereas the wretched Martellino was being carded without a comb and having with the greatest pains in the world broken through the crowd, dragged him out of the people's hands, all bruised and tumbled as he was, and haled him off to the palace, whither many followed him who held themselves affronted of him and hearing that he had been taken for a cutpurse and themseeming they had no better occasion[77] of doing him an ill turn,[78] began each on like wise to say that he had cut his purse. The Provost's judge, who was a crabbed, ill-conditioned fellow, hearing this, forthright took him apart and began to examine him of the matter; but Martellino answered jestingly, as if he made light of his arrest; whereat the judge, incensed, caused truss him up and give him two or three good bouts of the strappado, with intent to make him confess that which they laid to his charge, so he might after have him strung up by the neck.

When he was let down again, the judge asked him once more if that were true which the folk avouched against him, and Martellino, seeing that it availed him not to deny, answered, 'My lord, I am ready to confess the truth to you; but first make each who accuseth me say when and where I cut his purse, and I will tell you what I did and what not.' Quoth the judge, 'I will well,' and calling some of his accusers, put the question to them; whereupon one said that he had cut his purse eight, another six and a third four days agone, whilst some said that very day. Martellino, hearing this, said, 'My lord, these all lie in their throats and I can give you this proof that I tell you the truth, inasmuch as would God it were as sure that I had never come hither as it is that I was never in this place till a few hours agone; and as soon as I arrived, I went, of my ill fortune, to see yonder holy body in the church, where I was carded as you may see; and that this I say is true, the Prince's officer who keepeth the register of strangers can certify you, he and his book, as also can my host. If, therefore, you find it as I tell you, I beseech you torture me not neither put me to death at the instance of these wicked, men.'

Whilst things were at this pass, Marchese and Stecchi, hearing that the judge of the Provostry was proceeding rigorously against Martellino and had already given him the strappado, were sore affeared and said in themselves, 'We have gone the wrong way to work; we have brought him forth of the frying-pan and cast him into the fire.' Wherefore they went with all diligence in quest of their host and having found him, related to him how the case stood. He laughed and carried them to one Sandro Agolanti, who abode in Treviso and had great interest with the Prince, and telling him everything in order,52 joined with them in beseeching him to occupy himself with Martellino's affairs. Sandro, after many a laugh, repaired to the Prince and prevailed upon him to send for Martellino.

The Prince's messengers found Martellino still in his shirt before the judge, all confounded and sore adread, for that the judge would hear nothing in his excuse; nay, having, by chance, some spite against the people of Florence, he was altogether determined to hang him by the neck and would on no wise render him up to the Prince till such time as he was constrained thereto in his despite. Martellino, being brought before the lord of the city and having told him everything in order, besought him, by way of special favour, to let him go about his business, for that, until he should be in Florence again, it would still seem to him he had the rope about his neck. The Prince laughed heartily at his mischance and let give each of the three a suit of apparel, wherewith they returned home safe and sound, having, beyond all their hope, escaped so great a peril."


Day the Second


The ladies laughed immoderately at Martellino's misfortunes narrated by Neifile, as did also the young men and especially Filostrato, whom, for that he sat next Neifile, the queen bade follow her in story-telling. Accordingly he began without delay, "Fair ladies, needs must I tell you a story[79] of things Catholic,[80] in part mingled with misadventures and love-matters, which belike will not be other than profitable to hear, especially to those who are wayfarers in the perilous lands of love, wherein whoso hath not said St. Julian his Paternoster is oftentimes ill lodged, for all he have a good bed.

In the days, then, of the Marquis Azzo of Ferrara, there came a merchant called Rinaldo d'Asti to Bologna on his occasions, which having despatched and returning homeward, it chanced that, as he issued forth of Ferrara and rode towards Verona, he fell in with certain folk who seemed merchants, but were in truth highwaymen and men of lewd life and condition, with whom he unwarily joined company and entered into discourse. They, seeing him to be a merchant and judging him to have monies about him, took counsel together to rob him, at the first opportunity that should offer; wherefore, that he might take no suspicion, they went devising with him, like decent peaceable folk, of things honest and seemly and of loyalty, ordering themselves toward him,53 in so far as they knew and could, with respect and complaisance, so that he deemed himself in great luck to have met with them, for that he was alone with a serving-man of his on horseback.

Thus faring on and passing from one thing to another, as it chanceth in discourse, they presently fell to talking of the orisons that men offer up to God, and one of the highwaymen, who were three in number, said to Rinaldo, 'And you, fair sir, what orison do you use to say on a journey?' Whereto he answered, 'Sooth to say, I am but a plain man and little versed in these matters and have few orisons in hand; I live after the old fashion and let a couple of shillings pass for four-and-twenty pence.[81] Nevertheless, I have still been wont, when on a journey, to say of a morning, what time I come forth of the inn, a Pater and an Ave for the soul of St. Julian's father and mother, after which I pray God and the saint to grant me a good lodging for the ensuing night. Many a time in my day have I, in the course of my journeyings, been in great perils, from all of which I have escaped and have still found myself at night, to boot, in a place of safety and well lodged. Wherefore I firmly believe that St. Julian, in whose honour I say it, hath gotten me this favour of God; nor meseemeth should I fare well by day nor come to good harbourage at night, except I had said it in the morning.' 'And did you say it[82] this morning?' asked he who had put the question to him. 'Ay did I,' answered Rinaldo; whereupon quoth the other in himself, knowing well how the thing was to go, 'May it stand thee in stead![83] For, an no hindrance betide us, methinketh thou art e'en like to lodge ill.' Then, to Rinaldo, 'I likewise,' quoth he, 'have travelled much and have never said this orison, albeit I have heard it greatly commended, nor ever hath it befallen me to lodge other than well; and this evening maybe you shall chance to see which will lodge the better, you who have said it or I who have not. True, I use, instead thereof, the Dirupisti or the Intemerata or the De Profundis, the which, according to that which a grandmother of mine used to tell me, are of singular virtue.'

Discoursing thus of various matters and faring on their way, on the look out the while for time and place apt unto their knavish purpose, they came, late in the day, to a place a little beyond Castel Guglielmo, where, at the fording of a river, the three rogues, seeing the hour advanced and the spot solitary and close shut in, fell upon Rinaldo and robbed him of money, clothes and horse. Then, leaving him afoot and in his shirt, they departed, saying, 'Go see if thy St. Julian will give thee a good lodging this night, even as ours[84] will assuredly do for us.' And passing the stream, they went their ways. Rinaldo's servant, seeing him attacked, like a cowardly knave as he was, did nought to help him, but turning his horse's head,54 never drew bridle till he came to Castel Guglielmo and entering the town, took up his lodging there, without giving himself farther concern.

Rinaldo, left in his shirt and barefoot, it being very cold and snowing hard, knew not what to do and seeing the night already at hand, looked about him, trembling and chattering the while with his teeth, if there were any shelter to be seen therenigh, where he might pass the night, so he should not perish of cold; but, seeing none, for that a little before there had been war in those parts and everything had been burnt, set off at a run, spurred by the cold, towards Castel Guglielmo, knowing not withal if his servant were fled thither or otherwise and thinking that, so he might but avail to enter therein, God would send him some relief. But darkness overtook him near a mile from the town, wherefore he arrived there so late that, the gates being shut and the draw-bridges raised, he could get no admission. Thereupon, despairing and disconsolate, he looked about, weeping, for a place where he might shelter, so at the least it should not snow upon him, and chancing to espy a house that projected somewhat beyond the walls of the town, he determined to go bide thereunder till day. Accordingly, betaking himself thither, he found there a door, albeit it was shut, and gathering at foot thereof somewhat of straw that was therenigh, he laid himself down there, tristful and woebegone, complaining sore to St. Julian and saying that this was not of the faith he had in him.

However, the saint had not lost sight of him and was not long in providing him with a good lodging. There was in the town a widow lady, as fair of favour as any woman living, whom the Marquis Azzo loved as his life and there kept at his disposition, and she abode in that same house, beneath the projection whereof Rinaldo had taken shelter. Now, as chance would have it, the Marquis had come to the town that day, thinking to lie the night with her, and had privily let make ready in her house a bath and a sumptuous supper. Everything being ready and nought awaited by the lady but the coming of the Marquis, it chanced that there came a serving-man to the gate, who brought him news, which obliged him to take horse forthright; wherefore, sending to tell his mistress not to expect him, he departed in haste. The lady, somewhat disconsolate at this, knowing not what to do, determined to enter the bath prepared for the Marquis and after sup and go to bed.

Accordingly she entered the bath, which was near the door, against which the wretched merchant was crouched without the city-wall; wherefore she, being therein, heard the weeping and trembling kept up by Rinaldo, who seemed as he were grown a stork,[85] and calling her maid, said to her, 'Go up and look over the wall who is at the postern-foot and what he doth there.' The maid went thither and aided by the clearness of the air, saw Rinaldo in his shirt and barefoot, sitting there, as hath been said, and trembling sore; whereupon she asked him who he was. He told her, as briefliest he might, who he was and how and why he was there, trembling the while on such wise that he could scarce form the words, and55 after fell to beseeching her piteously not to leave him there all night to perish of cold, [but to succour him,] an it might be. The maid was moved to pity of him and returning to her mistress, told her all. The lady, on like wise taking compassion on him and remembering that she had the key of the door aforesaid, which served whiles for the privy entrances of the Marquis, said, 'Go softly and open to him; here is this supper and none to eat it and we have commodity enough for his lodging.'

The maid, having greatly commended her mistress for this her humanity, went and opening to Rinaldo, brought him in; whereupon the lady, seeing him well nigh palsied with cold, said to him, 'Quick, good man, enter this bath, which is yet warm.' Rinaldo, without awaiting farther invitation, gladly obeyed and was so recomforted with the warmth of the bath that himseemed he was come back from death to life. The lady let fetch him a suit of clothes that had pertained to her husband, then lately dead, which when he had donned, they seemed made to his measure, and whilst awaiting what she should command him, he fell to thanking God and St. Julian for that they had delivered him from the scurvy night he had in prospect and had, as he deemed, brought him to good harbourage.

Presently, the lady, being somewhat rested,[86] let make a great fire in her dining-hall and betaking herself thither, asked how it was with the poor man; whereto the maid answered, 'Madam, he hath clad himself and is a handsome man and appeareth a person of good condition and very well-mannered.' Quoth the lady, 'Go, call him and bid him come to the fire and sup, for I know he is fasting.' Accordingly, Rinaldo entered the hall and seeing the gentlewoman, who appeared to him a lady of quality, saluted her respectfully and rendered her the best thanks in his power for the kindness done him. The lady, having seen and heard him and finding him even as her maid had said, received him graciously and making him sit familiarly with her by the fire, questioned him of the chance that had brought him thither; whereupon he related everything to her in order. Now she had heard somewhat of this at the time of his servant's coming into the town, wherefore she gave entire belief to all he said and told him, in turn, what she knew of his servant and how he might lightly find him again on the morrow. Then, the table being laid, Rinaldo, at the lady's instance, washed his hands and sat down with her to supper. Now he was tall of his person and comely and pleasant of favour and very engaging and agreeable of manners and a man in the prime of life; wherefore the lady had several times cast her eyes on him and found him much to her liking, and her desires being already aroused for the Marquis, who was to have come to lie with her, she had taken a mind to him. Accordingly, after supper, whenas they were risen from table, she took counsel with her maid whether herseemed she would do well, the Marquis having left her in the lurch, to use the good which fortune had sent her. The maid, seeing her mistress's drift, encouraged her as best she might to ensue it; whereupon the lady, returning to the fireside, where she had left Rinaldo alone, fell to gazing amorously56 upon him and said to him, 'How now, Rinaldo, why bide you thus melancholy? Think you you cannot be requited the loss of a horse and of some small matter of clothes? Take comfort and be of good cheer; you are in your own house. Nay, I will e'en tell you more, that, seeing you with those clothes on your back, which were my late husband's, and meseeming you were himself, there hath taken me belike an hundred times to-night a longing to embrace you and kiss you: and but that I feared to displease you, I had certainly done it.'

Rinaldo, who was no simpleton, hearing these words and seeing the lady's eyes sparkle, advanced towards her with open arms, saying, 'Madam, considering that I owe it to you to say that I am now alive and having regard to that from which you delivered me, it were great unmannerliness in me, did I not study to do everything that may be agreeable to you; wherefore do you embrace me and kiss me to your heart's content, and I will kiss and clip you more than willingly.' There needed no more words. The lady, who was all afire with amorous longing, straightway threw herself into his arms and after she had strained him desirefully to her bosom and bussed him a thousand times and had of him been kissed as often, they went off to her chamber, and there without delay betaking themselves to bed, they fully and many a time, before the day should come, satisfied their desires one of the other. Whenas the day began to appear, they arose,—it being her pleasure, so the thing might not be suspected of any,—and she, having given him some sorry clothes and a purse full of money and shown him how he should go about to enter the town and find his servant, put him forth at the postern whereby he had entered, praying him keep the matter secret.

As soon as it was broad day and the gates were opened, he entered the town, feigning to come from afar, and found his servant. Therewithal he donned the clothes that were in the saddle-bags and was about to mount the man's horse and depart, when, as by a miracle, it befell that the three highwaymen, who had robbed him overnight, having been a little after taken for some other misdeed of them committed, were brought into the town and on their confession, his horse and clothes and money were restored to him, nor did he lose aught save a pair of garters, with which the robbers knew not what they had done. Rinaldo accordingly gave thanks to God and St. Julian and taking horse, returned home, safe and sound, leaving the three rogues to go kick on the morrow against the wind."[87]



Day the Second


The adventures of Rinaldo d'Asti were hearkened with admiration and his devoutness commended by the ladies, who returned thanks to God and St. Julian for that they had succoured him in his utmost need. Nor yet (though this was said half aside) was the lady reputed foolish, who had known how to take the good God had sent her in her own house. But, whilst they discoursed, laughing in their sleeves, of the pleasant night she had had, Pampinea, seeing herself beside Filostrato and deeming, as indeed it befell, that the next turn would rest with her, began to collect her thoughts and take counsel with herself what she should say; after which, having received the queen's commandment, she proceeded to speak thus, no less resolutely than blithely, "Noble ladies, the more it is discoursed of the doings of Fortune, the more, to whoso is fain to consider her dealings aright, remaineth to be said thereof; and at this none should marvel, an he consider advisedly that all the things, which we foolishly style ours, are in her hands and are consequently, according to her hidden ordinance, transmuted by her without cease from one to another and back again, without any method known unto us. Wherefore, albeit this truth is conclusively demonstrated in everything and all day long and hath already been shown forth in divers of the foregoing stories, nevertheless, since it is our queen's pleasure that we discourse upon this theme, I will, not belike without profit for the listeners, add to the stories aforesaid one of my own, which methinketh should please.

There was once in our city a gentleman, by name Messer Tedaldo, who, as some will have it, was of the Lamberti family, albeit others avouch that he was of the Agolanti, arguing more, belike, from the craft after followed by his sons,[88] which was like unto that which the Agolanti have ever practised and yet practise, than from aught else. But, leaving be of which of these two houses he was, I say that he was, in his time, a very rich gentleman and had three sons, whereof the eldest was named Lamberto, the second Tedaldo and the third Agolante, all handsome and sprightly youths, the eldest of whom had not reached his eighteenth year when it befell that the aforesaid Messer Tedaldo died very rich and left all his possessions, both moveable and immoveable, to them, as his legitimate heirs. The young men, seeing themselves left very rich both in lands and monies, began to spend without check or reserve or other governance than that of their own pleasure, keeping a vast household58 and many and goodly horses and dogs and hawks, still holding open house and giving largesse and making tilts and tournaments and doing not only that which pertaineth unto men of condition, but all, to boot, that it occurred to their youthful appetite to will.

They had not long led this manner of life before the treasure left by their father melted away and their revenues alone sufficing not unto their current expenses, they proceeded to sell and mortgage their estates, and selling one to-day and another to-morrow, they found themselves well nigh to nought, without perceiving it, and poverty opened their eyes, which wealth had kept closed. Whereupon Lamberto, one day, calling the other two, reminded them how great had been their father's magnificence and how great their own and setting before them what wealth had been theirs and the poverty to which they were come through their inordinate expenditure, exhorted them, as best he knew, ere their distress should become more apparent, to sell what little was left them and get them gone, together with himself. They did as he counselled them and departing Florence, without leavetaking or ceremony, stayed not till they came to England, where, taking a little house in London and spending very little, they addressed themselves with the utmost diligence to lend money at usance. In this fortune was so favourable to them that in a few years they amassed a vast sum of money, wherewith, returning to Florence, one after another, they bought back great part of their estates and purchased others to boot and took unto themselves wives.

Nevertheless, they still continued to lend money in England and sent thither, to look to their affairs, a young man, a nephew of theirs, Alessandro by name, whilst themselves all three at Florence, for all they were become fathers of families, forgetting to what a pass inordinate expenditure had aforetime brought them, began to spend more extravagantly than ever and were high in credit with all the merchants, who trusted them for any sum of money, however great. The monies remitted them by Alessandro, who had fallen to lending to the barons upon their castles and other their possessions, which brought him great profit, helped them for some years to support these expenses; but, presently, what while the three brothers spent thus freely and lacking money, borrowed, still reckoning with all assurance upon England, it chanced that, contrary to all expectation, there broke out war in England between the king and his son, through which the whole island was divided into two parties, some holding with the one and some with the other; and by reason thereof all the barons' castles were taken from Alessandro nor was there any other source of revenue that answered him aught. Hoping that from day to day peace should be made between father and son and consequently everything restored to him, both interest and capital, Alessandro departed not the island and the three brothers in Florence no wise abated their extravagant expenditure, borrowing more and more every day. But, when, after several years, no effect was seen to follow upon their expectation, the three brothers not only lost their credit, but, their creditors seeking to be paid their due, they were suddenly arrested and their59 possessions sufficing not unto payment, they abode in prison for the residue, whilst their wives and little ones betook themselves, some into the country, some hither and some thither, in very ill plight, unknowing what to expect but misery for the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile, Alessandro, after waiting several years in England for peace, seeing that it came not and himseeming that not only was his tarrying there in vain, but that he went in danger of his life, determined to return to Italy. Accordingly, he set out all alone and as chance would have it, coming out of Bruges, he saw an abbot of white friars likewise issuing thence, accompanied by many monks and with a numerous household and a great baggage-train in his van. After him came two old knights, kinsmen of the King, whom Alessandro accosted as acquaintances and was gladly admitted into their company. As he journeyed with them, he asked them softly who were the monks that rode in front with so great a train and whither they were bound; and one of them answered, 'He who rideth yonder is a young gentleman of our kindred, who hath been newly elected abbot of one of the most considerable abbeys of England, and for that he is younger than is suffered by the laws for such a dignity, we go with him to Rome to obtain of the Holy Father that he dispense him of his defect of overmuch youthfulness and confirm him in the dignity aforesaid; but this must not be spoken of with any.'

The new abbot, faring on thus, now in advance of his retinue and now in their rear, as daily we see it happen with noblemen on a journey, chanced by the way to see near him Alessandro, who was a young man exceedingly goodly of person and favour, well-bred, agreeable and fair of fashion as any might be, and who at first sight pleased him marvellously, as nought had ever done, and calling him to his side, fell a-discoursing pleasantly with him, asking him who he was and whence he came and whither he was bound; whereupon Alessandro frankly discovered to him his whole case and satisfied his questions, offering himself to his service in what little he might. The abbot, hearing his goodly and well-ordered speech, took more particular note of his manners and inwardly judging him to be a man of gentle breeding, for all his business had been mean, grew yet more enamoured of his pleasantness and full of compassion for his mishaps, comforted him on very friendly wise, bidding him be of good hope, for that, an he were a man of worth, God would yet replace him in that estate whence fortune had cast him down, nay, in a yet higher. Moreover, he prayed him, since he was bound for Tuscany, that it would please him bear him company, inasmuch as himself was likewise on the way thitherward; whereupon Alessandro returned him thanks for his encouragement and declared himself ready to his every commandment.

The abbot, in whose breast new feelings had been aroused by the sight of Alessandro, continuing his journey, it chanced that, after some days, they came to a village not overwell furnished with hostelries, and the abbot having a mind to pass the night there, Alessandro caused him alight at the house of an innkeeper, who was his familiar acquaintance, and let prepare him his sleeping-chamber in the least60 incommodious place of the house; and being now, like an expert man as he was, grown well nigh a master of the household to the abbot, he lodged all his company, as best he might, about the village, some here and some there. After the abbot had supped, the night being now well advanced and every one gone to bed, Alessandro asked the host where he himself could lie; whereto he answered, 'In truth, I know not; thou seest that every place is full and I and my household must needs sleep upon the benches. Algates, in the abbot's chamber there be certain grain-sacks, whereto I can bring thee and spread thee thereon some small matter of bed, and there, an it please thee, thou shalt lie this night, as best thou mayst.' Quoth Alessandro, 'How shall I go into the abbot's chamber, seeing thou knowest it is little and of its straitness none of his monks might lie there? Had I bethought me of this, ere the curtains were drawn, I would have let his monks lie on the grain-sacks and have lodged myself where they sleep.' 'Nay,' answered the host, 'the case standeth thus;[89] but, an thou wilt, thou mayst lie whereas I tell thee with all the ease in the world. The abbot is asleep and his curtains are drawn; I will quickly lay thee a pallet-bed there, and do thou sleep on it.' Alessandro, seeing that this might be done without giving the abbot any annoy, consented thereto and settled himself on the grain-sacks as softliest he might.

The abbot, who slept not, nay, whose thoughts were ardently occupied with his new desires, heard what passed between Alessandro and the host and noted where the former laid himself to sleep, and well pleased with this, began to say in himself, 'God hath sent an occasion unto my desires; an I take it not, it may be long ere the like recur to me.' Accordingly, being altogether resolved to take the opportunity and himseeming all was quiet in the inn, he called to Alessandro in a low voice and bade him come couch with him. Alessandro, after many excuses, put off his clothes and laid himself beside the abbot, who put his hand on his breast and fell to touching him no otherwise than amorous damsels use to do with their lovers; whereat Alessandro marvelled exceedingly and misdoubted him the abbot was moved by unnatural love to handle him on that wise; but the latter promptly divined his suspicions, whether of presumption or through some gesture of his, and smiled; then, suddenly putting off a shirt that he wore, he took Alessandro's hand and laying it on his own breast, said, 'Alessandro, put away thy foolish thought and searching here, know that which I conceal.'

Alessandro accordingly put his hand to the abbot's bosom and found there two little breasts, round and firm and delicate, no otherwise than as they were of ivory, whereby perceiving that the supposed prelate was a woman, without awaiting farther bidding, he straightway took her in his arms and would have kissed her; but she said to him, 'Ere thou draw nearer to me, hearken to that which I have to say to thee. As thou mayst see, I am a woman and not a man, and having left home a maid, I was on my way to the Pope, that he might marry me. Be it thy good fortune or my mishap, no sooner did I see61 thee the other day than love so fired me for thee, that never yet was woman who so loved man. Wherefore, I am resolved to take thee, before any other, to husband; but, an thou wilt not have me to wife, begone hence forthright and return to thy place.'

Alessandro, albeit he knew her not, having regard to her company and retinue, judged her to be of necessity noble and rich and saw that she was very fair; wherefore, without overlong thought, he replied that, if this pleased her, it was mighty agreeable to him. Accordingly, sitting up with him in bed, she put a ring into his hand and made him espouse her[90] before a picture wherein our Lord was portrayed, after which they embraced each other and solaced themselves with amorous dalliance, to the exceeding pleasure of both parties, for so much as remained of the night.

When the day came, after they had taken order together concerning their affairs, Alessandro arose and departed the chamber by the way he had entered, without any knowing where he had passed the night. Then, glad beyond measure, he took to the road again with the abbot and his company and came after many days to Rome. There they abode some days, after which the abbot, with the two knights and Alessandro and no more, went in to the Pope and having done him due reverence, bespoke him thus, 'Holy Father, as you should know better than any other, whoso is minded to live well and honestly should, inasmuch as he may, eschew every occasion that may lead him to do otherwise; the which that I, who would fain live honestly, may throughly do, having fled privily with a great part of the treasures of the King of England my father, (who would have given me to wife to the King of Scotland, a very old prince, I being, as you see, a young maid), I set out, habited as you see me, to come hither, so your Holiness might marry me. Nor was it so much the age of the King of Scotland that made me flee as the fear, if I were married to him, lest I should, for the frailty of my youth, be led to do aught that might be contrary to the Divine laws and the honour of the royal blood of my father. As I came, thus disposed, God, who alone knoweth aright that which behoveth unto every one, set before mine eyes (as I believe, of His mercy) him whom it pleased Him should be my husband, to wit, this young man,' showing Alessandro, 'whom you see here beside me and whose fashions and desert are worthy of however great a lady, although belike the nobility of his blood is not so illustrious as the blood-royal. Him, then, have I taken and him I desire, nor will I ever have any other than he, however it may seem to my father or to other folk. Thus, the principal occasion of my coming is done away; but it pleased me to make an end of my journey, at once that I might visit the holy and reverential places, whereof this city is full, and your Holiness and that through you I might make manifest, in your presence and consequently in that of the rest of mankind, the marriage contracted be62tween Alessandro and myself in the presence of God alone. Wherefore I humbly pray you that this which hath pleased God and me may find favour with you and that you will vouchsafe us your benison, in order that with this, as with more assurance of His approof whose Vicar you are, we may live and ultimately die together.'

Alessandro marvelled to hear that the damsel was the King's daughter of England and was inwardly filled with exceeding great gladness; but the two knights marvelled yet more and were so incensed, that, had they been otherwhere than in the Pope's presence, they had done Alessandro a mischief and belike the lady also. The Pope also, on his part, marvelled exceedingly both at the habit of the lady and at her choice; but, seeing that there was no going back on that which was done, he consented to satisfy her of her prayer. Accordingly, having first appeased the two knights, whom he knew to be angered, and made them well at one again with the lady and Alessandro, he took order for that which was to do, and the day appointed by him being come, before all the cardinals and many other men of great worship, come, at his bidding, to a magnificent bride-feast prepared by him, he produced the lady, royally apparelled, who showed so fair and so agreeable that she was worthily commended of all, and on like wise Alessandro splendidly attired, in bearing and appearance no whit like a youth who had lent at usury, but rather one of royal blood, and now much honoured of the two knights. There he caused solemnly celebrate the marriage afresh and after goodly and magnificent nuptials made, he dismissed them with his benison.

It pleased Alessandro, and likewise the lady, departing Rome, to betake themselves to Florence, whither report had already carried the news. There they were received by the townsfolk with the utmost honour and the lady caused liberate the three brothers, having first paid every man [his due]. Moreover, she reinstated them and their ladies in their possessions and with every one's goodwill, because of this, she and her husband departed Florence, carrying Agolante with them, and coming to Paris, were honourably entertained by the King. Thence the two knights passed into England and so wrought with the King that the latter restored to his daughter his good graces and with exceeding great rejoicing received her and his son-in-law, whom he a little after made a knight with the utmost honour and gave him the Earldom of Cornwall. In this capacity he approved himself a man of such parts and made shift to do on such wise that he reconciled the son with his father, whereof there ensued great good to the island, and thereby he gained the love and favour of all the people of the country.

Moreover, Agolante thoroughly recovered all that was there due to him and his brethren and returned to Florence, rich beyond measure, having first been knighted by Count Alessandro. The latter lived long and gloriously with his lady, and according as some avouch, what with his wit and valour and the aid of his father-in-law, he after conquered Scotland and was crowned King thereof."



Day the Second


Lauretta, who sat next Pampinea, seeing her come to the glorious ending of her story, began, without awaiting more, to speak on this wise: "Most gracious ladies, there can, to my judgment, be seen no greater feat of fortune than when we behold one raised from the lowest misery to royal estate, even as Pampinea's story hath shown it to have betided her Alessandro. And for that from this time forth whosoever relateth of the appointed matter must of necessity speak within these limits,[91] I shall think no shame to tell a story, which, albeit it compriseth in itself yet greater distresses hath not withal so splendid an issue. I know well, indeed, that, having regard unto that, my story will be hearkened with less diligence; but, as I can no otherwise, I shall be excused.

The sea-coast from Reggio to Gaeta is commonly believed to be well nigh the most delightful part of Italy, and therein, pretty near Salerno, is a hillside overlooking the sea, which the countryfolk call Amalfi Side, full of little towns and gardens and springs and of men as rich and stirring in the matter of trade as any in the world. Among the said cities is one called Ravello and therein, albeit nowadays there are rich men there, there was aforetime one, Landolfo Ruffolo by name, who was exceeding rich and who, his wealth sufficing him not, came nigh, in seeking to double it, to lose it all and himself withal. This man, then, having, after the usance of merchants, laid his plans, bought a great ship and freighting it all of his own monies with divers merchandise, repaired therewith to Cyprus. There he found sundry other ships come with the same kind and quality of merchandise as he had brought, by reason of which not only was he constrained to make great good cheap of his own venture, but it behoved him, an he would dispose of his goods, well nigh to throw them away, whereby he was brought near unto ruin.

Sore chagrined at this mischance and knowing not what to do, seeing himself thus from a very rich man in brief space grown in a manner poor, he determined either to die or repair his losses by pillage, so he might not return thither poor, whence he had departed rich. Accordingly, having found a purchaser for his great ship, with the price thereof and that which he had gotten of his wares, he bought a little vessel, light and apt for cruising and arming and garnishing it excellent well with everything needful unto such a service, addressed himself to make his purchase of other men's goods and especially of those of the Turks. In this trade fortune was far kinder to him than she64 had been in that of a merchant, for that, in some year's space, he plundered and took so many Turkish vessels that he found he had not only gotten him his own again that he had lost in trade, but had more than doubled his former substance. Whereupon, schooled by the chagrin of his former loss and deeming he had enough, he persuaded himself, rather than risk a second mischance, to rest content with that which he had, without seeking more. Accordingly he resolved to return therewith to his own country and being fearful of trade, concerned not himself to employ his money otherwise, but, thrusting his oars into the water, set out homeward in that same little vessel wherewith he had gained it.

He had already reached the Archipelago when there arose one evening a violent south-east wind, which was not only contrary to his course, but raised so great a sea that his little vessel could not endure it; wherefore he took refuge in a bight of the sea, made by a little island, and there abode sheltered from the wind and purposing there to await better weather. He had not lain there long when two great Genoese carracks, coming from Constantinople, made their way with great difficulty into the little harbour, to avoid that from which himself had fled. The newcomers espied the little ship and hearing that it pertained to Landolfo, whom they already knew by report to be very rich, blocked against it the way by which it might depart and addressed themselves, like men by nature rapacious and greedy of gain,[92] to make prize of it. Accordingly, they landed part of their men well harnessed and armed with crossbows and posted them on such wise that none might come down from the bark, an he would not be shot; whilst the rest, warping themselves in with small boats and aided by the current, laid Landolfo's little ship aboard and took it out of hand, crew and all, without missing a man. Landolfo they carried aboard one of the carracks, leaving him but a sorry doublet; then, taking everything out of the ship, they scuttled her.

On the morrow, the wind having shifted, the carracks made sail westward and fared on their voyage prosperously all that day; but towards evening there arose a tempestuous wind which made the waves run mountains high and parted the two carracks one from the other. Moreover, from stress of wind it befell that that wherein was the wretched and unfortunate Landolfo smote with great violence upon a shoal over against the island of Cephalonia and parting amidships, broke all in sunder no otherwise than a glass dashed against a wall. The sea was in a moment all full of bales of merchandise and chests and planks, that floated on the surface, as is wont to happen in such cases, and the poor wretches on board, swimming, those who knew how, albeit it was a very dark night and the sea was exceeding great and swollen, fell to laying hold of such things as came within their reach. Among the rest the unfortunate Landolfo, albeit many a time that day he had called for death, (choosing rather to die than return home poor as he found himself,) seeing it near at hand, was fearful thereof and like the others, laid hold of a plank that came to his hand, so haply,65 an he put off drowning awhile, God might send him some means of escape.

Bestriding this, he kept himself afloat as best he might, driven hither and thither of the sea and the wind, till daylight, when he looked about him and saw nothing but clouds and sea and a chest floating on the waves, which bytimes, to his sore affright, drew nigh unto him, for that he feared lest peradventure it should dash against him on such wise as to do him a mischief; wherefore, as often as it came near him, he put it away from him as best he might with his hand, albeit he had little strength thereof. But presently there issued a sudden flaw of wind out of the air and falling on the sea, smote upon the chest and drove it with such violence against Landolfo's plank that the latter was overset and he himself perforce went under water. However, he struck out and rising to the surface, aided more by fear than by strength, saw the plank far removed from him, wherefore, fearing he might be unable to reach it again, he made for the chest, which was pretty near him, and laying himself flat with his breast on the lid thereof, guided it with his arms as best he might.[93]

On this wise, tossed about by the sea now hither and now thither, without eating, as one indeed who had not the wherewithal, but drinking more than he could have wished, he abode all that day and the ensuing night, unknowing where he was and descrying nought but sea; but, on the following day, whether it was God's pleasure or stress of wind that wrought it, he came, grown well nigh a sponge and clinging fast with both hands to the marges of the chest, even as we see those do who are like to drown, to the coast of the island of Corfu, where a poor woman chanced to be scouring her pots and pans and making them bright with sand and salt water. Seeing Landolfo draw near and discerning in him no [human] shape, she drew back, affrighted and crying out. He could not speak and scarce saw, wherefore he said nothing; but presently, the sea carrying him landward, the woman descried the shape of the chest and looking straitlier, perceived first the arms outspread upon it and then the face and guessed it for that which it was.

Accordingly, moved with compassion, she entered somedele into the sea, which was now calm, and seizing Landolfo by the hair, dragged him ashore, chest and all. There having with difficulty unclasped his hands from the chest, she set the latter on the head of a young daughter of hers, who was with her, and carried him off, as he were a little child, to her hut, where she put him in a bagnio and so chafed and bathed him with warm water that the strayed heat returned to him, together with somewhat of his lost strength. Then, taking him up out of the bath, whenas it seemed good to her, she comforted him with somewhat of good wine and confections and tended him some days, as best she might, till he had recovered his strength and knew where he was, when she judged it time to restore him his chest, which she had kept safe66 for him, and to tell him that he might now prosecute his fortune.

Landolfo, who had no recollection of the chest, yet took it, when the good woman presented it to him, thinking it could not be so little worth but that it might defray his expenses for some days, but, finding it very light, was sore abated of his hopes. Nevertheless, what while his hostess was abroad, he broke it open, to see what it contained, and found therein store of precious stones, both set and unset. He had some knowledge of these matters and seeing them, knew them to be of great value; wherefore he praised God, who had not yet forsaken him, and was altogether comforted. However, as one who had in brief space been twice cruelly baffled by fortune, fearing a third misadventure, he bethought himself that it behoved him use great wariness and he would bring those things home; wherefore, wrapping them, as best he might, in some rags, he told the good woman that he had no more occasion for the chest, but that, an it pleased her, she should give him a bag and take the chest herself. This she willingly did and he, having rendered her the best thanks in his power for the kindness received from her, shouldered his bag and going aboard a bark, passed over to Brindisi and thence made his way, along the coast, to Trani.

Here he found certain townsmen of his, who were drapers and clad him for the love of God,[94] after he had related to them all his adventures, except that of the chest; nay more, they lent him a horse and sent him, under escort, to Ravello, whither he said he would fain return. There, deeming himself in safety and thanking God who had conducted him thither, he opened his bag and examining everything more diligently than he had yet done, found he had so many and such stones that, supposing he sold them at a fair price or even less, he was twice as rich again as when he departed thence. Then, finding means to dispose of his jewels, he sent a good sum of money to Corfu to the good woman who had brought him forth of the sea, in requital of the service received, and the like to Trani to those who had reclothed him. The rest he kept for himself and lived in honour and worship to the end of his days, without seeking to trade any more."


Day the Second


"The stones found by Landolfo," began Fiammetta, to whose turn it came to tell, "have brought to my mind a story scarce less full of perilous scapes than that related by Lauretta, but differing therefrom inasmuch as the adventures comprised in the latter befell in the course of belike several years and67 these of which I have to tell in the space of a single night, as you shall hear.

There was once in Perugia, as I have heard tell aforetime, a young man, a horse-courser, by name Andreuccio di Pietro,[95] who, hearing that horses were good cheap at Naples, put five hundred gold florins in his purse and betook himself thither with other merchants, having never before been away from home. He arrived there one Sunday evening, towards vespers, and having taken counsel with his host, sallied forth next morning to the market, where he saw great plenty of horses. Many of them pleased him and he cheapened one and another, but could not come to an accord concerning any. Meanwhile, to show that he was for buying, he now and again, like a raw unwary clown as he was, pulled out the purse of florins he had with him, in the presence of those who came and went. As he was thus engaged, with his purse displayed, it chanced that a Sicilian damsel, who was very handsome, but disposed for a small matter to do any man's pleasure, passed near him, without his seeing her, and catching sight of the purse, said straightway in herself, 'Who would fare better than I, if yonder money were mine!' And passed on.

Now there was with her an old woman, likewise a Sicilian, who, seeing Andreuccio, let her companion pass on and running to him, embraced him affectionately, which when the damsel saw, she stepped aside to wait for her, without saying aught. Andreuccio, turning to the old woman and recognizing her, gave her a hearty greeting and she, having promised to visit him at his inn, took leave, without holding overlong parley there, whilst he fell again to chaffering, but bought nothing that morning. The damsel, who had noted first Andreuccio's purse and after her old woman's acquaintance with him, began cautiously to enquire of the latter, by way of casting about for a means of coming at the whole or part of the money, who and whence he was and what he did there and how she came to know him. The old woman told her every particular of Andreuccio's affairs well nigh as fully as he himself could have done, having long abidden with his father, first in Sicily and after at Perugia, and acquainted her, to boot, where he lodged and wherefore he was come thither.

The damsel, being thus fully informed both of his name and parentage, thereby with subtle craft laid her plans for giving effect to her desire and returning home, set the old woman awork for the rest of the day, so she might not avail to return to Andreuccio. Then, calling a maid of hers, whom she had right well lessoned unto such offices, she despatched her, towards evensong, to the inn where Andreuccio lodged. As chance would have it, she found him alone at the door and enquired at him of himself. He answered that he was the man she sought, whereupon she drew him aside and said to him, 'Sir, an it please you, a gentlewoman of this city would fain speak with you.' Andreuccio, hearing this, considered himself from head to foot and himseeming he was a handsome varlet of his person, he concluded68 (as if there were no other well-looking young fellow to be found in Naples,) that the lady in question must have fallen in love with him. Accordingly, he answered without further deliberation that he was ready and asked the girl when and where the lady would speak with him; whereto she answered, 'Sir, whenas it pleaseth you to come, she awaiteth you in her house'; and Andreuccio forthwith rejoined, without saying aught to the people of the inn, 'Go thou on before; I will come after thee.'

Thereupon the girl carried him to the house of her mistress, who dwelt in a street called Malpertugio,[96] the very name whereof denoteth how reputable a quarter it is. But he, unknowing neither suspecting aught thereof and thinking to go to most honourable place and to a lady of quality, entered the house without hesitation,—preceded by the serving-maid, who called her mistress and said, 'Here is Andreuccio,'—and mounting the stair, saw the damsel come to the stairhead to receive him. Now she was yet in the prime of youth, tall of person, with a very fair face and very handsomely dressed and adorned. As he drew near her, she came down three steps to meet him with open arms and clasping him round the neck, abode awhile without speaking, as if hindered by excess of tenderness; then kissed him on the forehead, weeping, and said, in a somewhat broken voice, 'O my Andreuccio, thou art indeed welcome.'

He was amazed at such tender caresses and answered, all confounded, 'Madam, you are well met.' Thereupon, taking him by the hand, she carried him up into her saloon and thence, without saying another word to him, she brought him into her chamber, which was all redolent of roses and orange flowers and other perfumes. Here he saw a very fine bed, hung round with curtains, and store of dresses upon the pegs and other very goodly and rich gear, after the usance of those parts; by reason whereof, like a freshman as he was, he firmly believed her to be no less than a great lady. She made him sit with her on a chest that stood at the foot of the bed and bespoke him thus, 'Andreuccio, I am very certain thou marvellest at these caresses that I bestow on thee and at my tears, as he may well do who knoweth me not and hath maybe never heard speak of me; but I have that to tell thee which is like to amaze thee yet more, namely, that I am thy sister; and I tell thee that, since God hath vouchsafed me to look upon one of my brothers, (though fain would I see you all,) before my death, henceforth I shall not die disconsolate; and as perchance thou has never heard of this, I will tell it thee.

Pietro, my father and thine, as I doubt not thou knowest, abode long in Palermo and there for his good humour and pleasant composition was and yet is greatly beloved of those who knew him; but, among all his lovers, my mother, who was a lady of gentle birth and then a widow, was she who most affected him, insomuch that, laying aside the fear of her father and brethren, as well as the care of her own honour, she became so private with him that I was born thereof and grew up as thou seest me. Presently, having occasion to depart Palermo and return to Perugia, he left me a little maid with my mother nor ever after, for all that I could hear,69 remembered him of me or her; whereof, were he not my father, I should blame him sore, having regard to the ingratitude shown by him to my mother (to say nothing of the love it behoved him bear me, as his daughter, born of no serving-wench nor woman of mean extraction) who had, moved by very faithful love, without anywise knowing who he might be, committed into his hands her possessions and herself no less. But what [skilleth it]? Things ill done and long time passed are easier blamed than mended; algates, so it was.

He left me a little child in Palermo, where being grown well nigh as I am now, my mother, who was a rich lady, gave me to wife to a worthy gentleman of Girgenti, who, for her love and mine, came to abide at Palermo and there, being a great Guelph,[97] he entered into treaty with our King Charles,[98] which, being discovered by King Frederick,[99] ere effect could be given to it, was the occasion of our being enforced to flee from Sicily, whenas I looked to be the greatest lady was ever in the island; wherefore, taking such few things as we might (I say few, in respect of the many we had) and leaving our lands and palaces, we took refuge in this city, where we found King Charles so mindful of our services that he hath in part made good to us the losses we had sustained for him, bestowing on us both lands and houses, and still maketh my husband, thy kinsman that is, a goodly provision, as thou shalt hereafter see. On this wise come I in this city, where, Godamercy and no thanks to thee, sweet my brother, I now behold thee.' So saying, she embraced him over again and kissed him on the forehead, still weeping for tenderness.

Andreuccio, hearing this fable so orderly, so artfully delivered by the damsel, without ever stammering or faltering for a word, and remembering it to be true that his father had been in Palermo, knowing, moreover, by himself the fashions of young men and how lightly they fall in love in their youth and seeing the affectionate tears and embraces and the chaste kisses that she lavished on him, held all she told him for more than true; wherefore, as soon as she was silent, he answered her, saying, 'Madam, it should seem to you no very great matter if I marvel, for that in truth, whether it be that my father, for whatsoever reason, never spoke of your mother nor of yourself, or that if he did, it came not to my notice, I had no more knowledge of you than if you had never been, and so much the dearer is it to me to find you my sister here, as I am alone in this city and the less expected this. Indeed, I know no man of so high a condition that you should not be dear to him, to say nothing of myself, who am but a petty trader. But I pray you make me clear of one thing; how knew you that I was here?' Whereto she made answer, 'A poor woman, who much frequenteth me, gave me this morning to know of thy coming, for that, as she telleth me, she abode long with our father both at Palermo and at Perugia; and but that meseemed it was a more reputable thing that thou shouldst visit me in my own house than70 I thee in that of another, I had come to thee this great while agone.' After this, she proceeded to enquire more particularly of all his kinsfolk by name, and he answered her of all, giving the more credence, by reason of this, to that which it the less behoved him to believe.

The talk being long and the heat great, she called for Greek wine and confections and let give Andreuccio to drink, after which he would have taken leave, for that it was supper-time; but she would on no wise suffer it and making a show of being sore vexed, embraced him and said, 'Ah, woe is me! I see but too clearly how little dear I am to thee! Who would believe that thou couldst be with a sister of thine, whom thou hast never yet seen and in whose house thou shouldst have lighted down, whenas thou earnest hither, and offer to leave her, to go sup at the inn? Indeed, thou shalt sup with me, and albeit my husband is abroad, which grieveth me mightily, I shall know well how to do thee some little honour, such as a woman may.' To which Andreuccio, unknowing what else he should say, answered, 'I hold you as dear as a sister should be held; but, an I go not, I shall be expected to supper all the evening and shall do an unmannerliness.' 'Praised be God!' cried she. 'One would think I had no one in the house to send to tell them not to expect thee; albeit thou wouldst do much greater courtesy and indeed but thy duty an thou sentest to bid thy companions come hither to supper; and after, am thou must e'en begone, you might all go away together.'

Andreuccio replied that he had no desire for his companions that evening; but that, since it was agreeable to her, she might do her pleasure of him. Accordingly, she made a show of sending to the inn to say that he was not to be expected to supper, and after much other discourse, they sat down to supper and were sumptuously served with various meats, whilst she adroitly contrived to prolong the repast till it was dark night. Then, when they rose from table and Andreuccio would have taken his leave, she declared that she would on no wise suffer this, for that Naples was no place to go about in by night especially for a stranger, and that, whenas she sent to the inn to say that he was not to be expected to supper, she had at the same time given notice that he would lie abroad. Andreuccio, believing this and taking pleasure in being with her, beguiled as he was by false credence, abode where he was, and after supper they held much and long discourse, not without reason,[100] till a part of the night was past, when she withdrew with her women into another room, leaving Andreuccio in her own chamber, with a little lad to wait upon him, if he should lack aught.

The heat being great, Andreuccio, as soon as he found himself alone, stripped to his doublet and putting off his hosen, laid them at the bedhead; after which, natural use soliciting him to rid himself of the overmuch burden of his stomach, he asked the boy where this might be done, who showed him a door in one corner of the room and said, 'Go in there.' Accordingly he opened the door and passing through in all assurance,71 chanced to set foot on a plank, which, being broken loose from the joist at the opposite end, [flew up] and down they went, plank and man together. God so favoured him that he did himself no hurt in the fall, albeit he fell from some height; but he was all bemired with the ordure whereof the place was full; and in order that you may the better apprehend both that which hath been said and that which ensueth, I will show you how the place lay. There were in a narrow alley, such as we often see between two houses, a pair of rafters laid from one house to another, and thereon sundry boards nailed and the place of session set up; of which boards that which gave way with Andreuccio was one.

Finding himself, then, at the bottom of the alley and sore chagrined at the mishap, he fell a-bawling for the boy; but the latter, as soon as he heard him fall, had run to tell his mistress, who hastened to his chamber and searching hurriedly if his clothes were there, found them and with them the money, which, in his mistrust, he still foolishly carried about him. Having now gotten that for which, feigning herself of Palermo and sister to a Perugian, she had set her snare, she took no more reck of him, but hastened to shut the door whereby he had gone out when he fell.

Andreuccio, getting no answer from the boy, proceeded to call loudlier, but to no purpose; whereupon, his suspicions being now aroused, he began too late to smoke the cheat. Accordingly, he scrambled over a low wall that shut off the alley from the street, and letting himself down into the road, went up to the door of the house, which he knew very well, and there called long and loud and shook and beat upon it amain, but all in vain. Wherefore, bewailing himself, as one who was now fully aware of his mischance, 'Ah, woe is me!' cried he. 'In how little time have I lost five hundred florins and a sister!' Then, after many other words, he fell again to battering the door and crying out and this he did so long and so lustily that many of the neighbours, being awakened and unable to brook the annoy, arose and one of the courtezan's waiting-women, coming to the window, apparently all sleepy-eyed, said peevishly, 'Who knocketh below there?'

'What?' cried Andreuccio. 'Dost thou not know me? I am Andreuccio, brother to Madam Fiordaliso.' Whereto quoth she, 'Good man, an thou have drunken overmuch, go sleep and come back to-morrow morning. I know no Andreuccio nor what be these idle tales thou tellest. Begone in peace and let us sleep, so it please thee.' 'How?' replied Andreuccio. 'Thou knowest not what I mean? Certes, thou knowest; but, if Sicilian kinships be of such a fashion that they are forgotten in so short a time, at least give me back my clothes and I will begone with all my heart.' 'Good man,' rejoined she, as if laughing, 'methinketh thou dreamest'; and to say this and to draw in her head and shut the window were one and the same thing. Whereat Andreuccio, now fully certified of his loss, was like for chagrin to turn his exceeding anger into madness and bethought himself to seek to recover by violence that which he might not have again with words; wherefore, taking up a great stone, he began anew to batter the door more furiously than ever.

At this many of the neighbours, who72 had already been awakened and had arisen, deeming him some pestilent fellow who had trumped up this story to spite the woman of the house and provoked at the knocking he kept up, came to the windows and began to say, no otherwise than as all the dogs of a quarter bark after a strange dog, ''Tis a villainous shame to come at this hour to decent women's houses and tell these cock-and-bull stories. For God's sake, good man, please you begone in peace and let us sleep. An thou have aught to mell with her, come back to-morrow and spare us this annoy to-night.' Taking assurance, perchance, by these words, there came to the window one who was within the house, a bully of the gentlewoman's, whom Andreuccio had as yet neither heard nor seen, and said, in a terrible big rough voice, 'Who is below there?'

Andreuccio, hearing this, raised his eyes and saw at the window one who, by what little he could make out, himseemed should be a very masterful fellow, with a bushy black beard on his face, and who yawned and rubbed his eyes, as he had arisen from bed or deep sleep; whereupon, not without fear, he answered, 'I am a brother of the lady of the house.' The other waited not for him to make an end of his reply, but said, more fiercely than before, 'I know not what hindereth me from coming down and cudgelling thee what while I see thee stir, for a pestilent drunken ass as thou must be, who will not let us sleep this night.' Then, drawing back into the house, he shut the window; whereupon certain of the neighbours, who were better acquainted with the fellow's quality, said softly to Andreuccio, 'For God's sake, good man, begone in peace and abide not there to-night to be slain; get thee gone for thine own good.'

Andreuccio, terrified at the fellow's voice and aspect and moved by the exhortations of the neighbours, who seemed to him to speak out of charity, set out to return to his inn, in the direction of the quarter whence he had followed the maid, without knowing whither to go, despairing of his money and woebegone as ever man was. Being loathsome to himself, for the stench that came from him, and thinking to repair to the sea to wash himself, he turned to the left and followed a street called Ruga Catalana,[101] that led towards the upper part of the city. Presently, he espied two men coming towards him with a lantern and fearing they might be officers of the watch or other ill-disposed folk, he stealthily took refuge, to avoid them, in a hovel, that he saw hard by. But they, as of malice aforethought, made straight for the same place and entering in, began to examine certain irons which one of them laid from off his shoulder, discoursing various things thereof the while.

Presently, 'What meaneth this?' quoth one. 'I smell the worst stench meseemeth I ever smelt.' So saying, he raised the lantern and seeing the wretched Andreuccio, enquired, in amazement. 'Who is there?' Andreuccio made no answer, but they came up to him with the light and asked him what he did there in such a pickle; whereupon he related to them all that had befallen him, and they, conceiving where this might have happened, said, one to the other, 'Verily, this must have been in73 the house of Scarabone Buttafuocco.' Then, turning to him, 'Good man,' quoth one, 'albeit thou hast lost thy money, thou hast much reason to praise God that this mischance betided thee, so that thou fellest nor couldst after avail to enter the house again; for, hadst thou not fallen, thou mayst be assured that, when once thou wast fallen asleep, thou hadst been knocked on the head and hadst lost thy life as well as thy money. But what booteth it now to repine? Thou mayst as well look to have the stars out of the sky as to recover a farthing of thy money; nay, thou art like to be murdered, should yonder fellow hear that thou makest any words thereof.' Then they consulted together awhile and presently said to him, 'Look you, we are moved to pity for thee; wherefore, an thou wilt join with us in somewhat we go about to do, it seemeth to us certain that there will fall to thee for thy share much more than the value of that which thou hast lost.' Whereupon Andreuccio, in his desperation, answered that he was ready.

Now there had been that day buried an archbishop of Naples, by name Messer Filippo Minutolo, and he had been interred in his richest ornaments and with a ruby on his finger worth more than five hundred florins of gold. Him they were minded to despoil and this their intent they discovered to Andreuccio, who, more covetous than well-advised, set out with them for the cathedral. As they went, Andreuccio still stinking amain, one of the thieves said, 'Can we not find means for this fellow to wash himself a little, be it where it may, so he may not stink so terribly?' 'Ay can we,' answered the other. 'We are here near a well, where there useth to be a rope and pulley and a great bucket; let us go thither and we will wash him in a trice.' Accordingly they made for the well in question and found the rope there, but the bucket had been taken away; wherefore they took counsel together to tie him to the rope and let him down into the well, so he might wash himself there, charging him shake the rope as soon as he was clean, and they would pull him up.

Hardly had they let him down when, as chance would have it, certain of the watch, being athirst for the heat and with running after some rogue or another, came to the well to drink, and the two rogues, setting eyes on them, made off incontinent, before the officers saw them. Presently, Andreuccio, having washed himself at the bottom of the well, shook the rope, and the thirsty officers, laying by their targets and arms and surcoats, began to haul upon the rope, thinking the bucket full of water at the other end. As soon as Andreuccio found himself near the top, he let go the rope and laid hold of the marge with both hands; which when the officers saw, overcome with sudden affright, they dropped the rope, without saying a word, and took to their heels as quickliest they might. At this Andreuccio marvelled sore, and but that he had fast hold of the marge, would have fallen to the bottom, to his no little hurt or maybe death. However, he made his way out and finding the arms, which he knew were none of his companions' bringing, he was yet more amazed; but, knowing not what to make of it and misdoubting [some snare], he determined to begone without touching aught and accordingly made off he74 knew not whither, bewailing his ill-luck.

As he went, he met his two comrades, who came to draw him forth of the well; and when they saw him, they marvelled exceedingly and asked him who had drawn him up. Andreuccio replied that he knew not and told them orderly how it had happened and what he had found by the wellside, whereupon the others, perceiving how the case stood, told him, laughing, why they had fled and who these were that had pulled him up. Then, without farther parley, it being now middle night, they repaired to the cathedral and making their way thereinto lightly enough, went straight to the archbishop's tomb, which was of marble and very large. With their irons they raised the lid, which was very heavy, and propped it up so as a man might enter; which being done, quoth one, 'Who shall go in?' 'Not I,' answered the other. 'Nor I,' rejoined his fellow; 'let Andreuccio enter.' 'That will I not,' said the latter; whereupon the two rogues turned upon him and said, 'How! Thou wilt not? Cock's faith, an thou enter not, we will clout thee over the costard with one of these iron bars till thou fall dead.'

Andreuccio, affrighted, crept into the tomb, saying in himself the while, 'These fellows will have me go in here so they may cheat me, for that, when I shall have given them everything, they will begone about their business, whilst I am labouring to win out of the tomb, and I shall abide empty-handed.' Accordingly, he determined to make sure of his share beforehand; wherefore, as soon as he came to the bottom, calling to mind the precious ring whereof he had heard them speak, he drew it from the archbishop's finger and set it on his own. Then he passed them the crozier and mitre and gloves and stripping the dead man to his shirt, gave them everything, saying that there was nothing more. The others declared that the ring must be there and bade him seek everywhere; but he replied that he found it not and making a show of seeking it, kept them in play awhile. At last, the two rogues, who were no less wily than himself, bidding him seek well the while, took occasion to pull away the prop that held up the lid and made off, leaving him shut in the tomb.

What became of Andreuccio, when he found himself in this plight, you may all imagine for yourselves. He strove again and again to heave up the lid with his head and shoulders, but only wearied himself in vain; wherefore, overcome with chagrin and despair, he fell down in a swoon upon the archbishop's dead body; and whoso saw him there had hardly known which was the deader, the prelate or he. Presently, coming to himself, he fell into a passion of weeping, seeing he must there without fail come to one of two ends, to wit, either he must, if none came thither to open the tomb again, die of hunger and stench, among the worms of the dead body, or, if any came and found him there, he would certainly be hanged for a thief.

As he abode in this mind, exceeding woebegone, he heard folk stirring in the Church and many persons speaking and presently perceived that they came to do that which he and his comrades had already done; whereat fear redoubled upon him. But, after the newcomers had forced open the tomb and propped up the lid, they fell into dispute of who75 should go in, and none was willing to do it. However, after long parley, a priest said, 'What fear ye? Think you he will eat you? The dead eat not men. I will go in myself.' So saying, he set his breast to the marge of the tomb and turning his head outward, put in his legs, thinking to let himself drop. Andreuccio, seeing this, started up and catching the priest by one of his legs, made a show of offering to pull him down into the tomb. The other, feeling this, gave a terrible screech and flung precipitately out of the tomb; whereupon all the others fled in terror, as they were pursued by an hundred thousand devils, leaving the tomb open.

Andreuccio, seeing this, scrambled hastily out of the tomb, rejoiced beyond all hope, and made off out of the church by the way he had entered in. The day now drawing near, he fared on at a venture, with the ring on his finger, till he came to the sea-shore and thence made his way back to his inn, where he found his comrades and the host, who had been in concern for him all that night. He told them what had betided him and themseemed, by the host's counsel, that he were best depart Naples incontinent. Accordingly, he set out forthright and returned to Perugia, having invested his money in a ring, whereas he came to buy horses."


Day the Second


Ladies and young men alike laughed heartily at Andreuccio's adventures, as related by Fiammetta, and Emilia, seeing the story ended, began, by the queen's commandment, to speak thus: "Grievous things and woeful are the various shifts of Fortune, whereof,—for that, whenassoever it is discoursed of them, it is an awakenment for our minds, which lightly fall asleep under her blandishments,—methinketh it should never be irksome either to the happy or the unhappy to hear tell, inasmuch as it rendereth the former wary and consoleth the latter. Wherefore, albeit great things have already been recounted upon this subject, I purpose to tell you thereanent a story no less true than pitiful, whereof, for all it had a joyful ending, so great and so longsome was the bitterness that I can scarce believe it to have been assuaged by any subsequent gladness.

You must know, dearest ladies, that, after the death of the Emperor Frederick the Second, Manfred was crowned King of Sicily, in very high estate with whom was a gentleman of Naples called76 Arrighetto Capece, who had to wife a fair and noble lady, also of Naples, by name Madam Beritola Caracciola. The said Arrighetto, who had the governance of the island in his hands, hearing that King Charles the First[102] had overcome and slain Manfred at Benevento and that all the realm had revolted to him and having scant assurance of the short-lived fidelity of the Sicilians, prepared for flight, misliking to become a subject of his lord's enemy; but, his intent being known of the Sicilians, he and many other friends and servants of King Manfred were suddenly made prisoners and delivered to King Charles, together with possession of the island.

Madam Beritola, in this grievous change of affairs, knowing not what was come of Arrighetto and sore adread of that which had befallen, abandoned all her possessions for fear of shame and poor and pregnant as she was, embarked, with a son of hers and maybe eight years of age, Giusfredi by name, in a little boat and fled to Lipari, where she gave birth to another male child, whom she named Scacciato,[103] and getting her a nurse, took ship with all three to return to her kinsfolk at Naples. But it befell otherwise than as she purposed; for that the ship, which should have gone to Naples, was carried by stress of wind to the island of Ponza,[104] where they entered a little bight of the sea and there awaited an occasion for continuing their voyage. Madam Beritola, going up, like the rest, into the island and finding a remote and solitary place, addressed herself to make moan for her Arrighetto, all alone there.

This being her daily usance, it chanced one day that, as she was occupied in bewailing herself, there came up a pirate galley, unobserved of any, sailor or other, and taking them all at unawares, made off with her prize. Madam Beritola, having made an end of her diurnal lamentation, returned to the sea-shore, as she was used to do, to visit her children, but found none there; whereat she first marvelled and after, suddenly misdoubting her of that which had happened, cast her eyes out to sea and saw the galley at no great distance, towing the little ship after it; whereby she knew but too well that she had lost her children, as well as her husband, and seeing herself there poor and desolate and forsaken, unknowing where she should ever again find any of them, she fell down aswoon upon the strand, calling upon her husband and her children. There was none there to recall her distracted spirits with cold water or other remedy, wherefore they might at their leisure go wandering whither it pleased them; but, after awhile, the lost senses returning to her wretched body, in company with tears and lamentations, she called long upon her children and went a great while seeking them in every cavern. At last, finding all her labour in vain and seeing the night coming on, she began, hoping and knowing not what, to be careful for herself and departing the sea-shore, returned to the cavern where she was wont to weep and bemoan herself.

She passed the night in great fear77 and inexpressible dolour and the new day being come and the hour of tierce past, she was fain, constrained by hunger, for that she had not supped overnight, to browse upon herbs; and having fed as best she might, she gave herself, weeping, to various thoughts of her future life. Pondering thus, she saw a she-goat enter a cavern hard by and presently issue thence and betake herself into the wood; whereupon she arose and entering whereas the goat had come forth, found there two little kidlings, born belike that same day, which seemed to her the quaintest and prettiest things in the world. Her milk being yet undried from her recent delivery, she tenderly took up the kids and set them to her breast. They refused not the service, but sucked her as if she had been their dam and thenceforth made no distinction between the one and the other. Wherefore, herseeming she had found some company in that desert place, and growing no less familiar with the old goat than with her little ones, she resigned herself to live and die there and abode eating of herbs and drinking water and weeping as often as she remembered her of her husband and children and of her past life.

The gentle lady, thus grown a wild creature, abiding on this wise, it befell, after some months, that there came on like wise to the place whither she had aforetime been driven by stress of weather, a little vessel from Pisa and there abode some days. On broad this bark was a gentleman named Currado [of the family] of the Marquises of Malespina, who, with his wife, a lady of worth and piety, was on his return home from a pilgrimage to all the holy places that be in the kingdom of Apulia. To pass away the time, Currado set out one day, with his lady and certain of his servants and his dogs, to go about the island, and not far from Madam Beritola's place of harbourage, the dogs started the two kids, which were now grown pretty big, as they went grazing. The latter, chased by the dogs, fled to no other place but into the cavern where was Madam Beritola, who, seeing this, started to her feet and catching up a staff, beat off the dogs. Currado and his wife, who came after them, seeing the lady, who was grown swart and lean and hairy, marvelled, and she yet more at them. But after Currado had, at her instance, called off his dogs, they prevailed with her, by dint of much entreaty, to tell them who she was and what she did there; whereupon she fully discovered to them her whole condition and all that had befallen her, together with her firm resolution [to abide alone in the island].

Currado, who had know Arrighetto Capece very well, hearing this, wept for pity, and did his utmost to divert her with words from so barbarous a purpose, offering to carry her back to her own house or to keep her with himself, holding her in such honour as his sister, until God should send her happier fortune. The lady not yielding to these proffers, Currado left his wife with her, bidding the latter cause bring thither to eat and clothe the lady, who was all in rags, with some of her own apparel, and charging her contrive, by whatsoever means, to bring her away with her. Accordingly, the gentle lady, being left with Madam Beritola, after condoling with her amain of her misfortunes, sent for raiment and victual and prevailed78 on her, with all the pains in the world, to don the one and eat the other.

Ultimately, after many prayers, Madam Beritola protesting that she would never consent to go whereas she might be known, she persuaded her to go with her into Lunigiana, together with the two kids and their dam, which latter were meantime returned and had greeted her with the utmost fondness, to the no small wonderment of the gentlewoman. Accordingly, as soon as fair weather was come, Madam Beritola embarked with Currado and his lady in their vessel, carrying with her the two kids and the she-goat (on whose account, her name being everywhere unknown, she was styled Cavriuola[105]) and setting sail with a fair wind, came speedily to the mouth of the Magra,[106] where they landed and went up to Currado's castle. There Madam Beritola abode, in a widow's habit, about the person of Currado's lady, as one of her waiting-women, humble, modest and obedient, still cherishing her kids and letting nourish them.

Meanwhile, the corsairs, who had taken the ship wherein Madam Beritola came to Ponza, but had left herself, as being unseen of them, betook themselves with all the other folk to Genoa, where, the booty coming to be shared among the owners of the galley, it chanced that the nurse and the two children fell, amongst other things, to the lot of a certain Messer Guasparrino d'Oria,[107] who sent them all three to his mansion, to be there employed as slaves about the service of the house. The nurse, afflicted beyond measure at the loss of her mistress and at the wretched condition where into she found herself and the two children fallen, wept long and sore; but, for that, albeit a poor woman, she was discreet and well-advised, when she saw that tears availed nothing and that she was become a slave together with them, she first comforted herself as best she might and after, considering whither they were come, she bethought herself that, should the two children be known, they might lightly chance to suffer hindrance; wherefore, hoping withal that, sooner or later fortune might change and they, an they lived, regain their lost estate, she resolved to discover to no one who they were, until she should see occasion therefor, and told all who asked her thereof that they were her sons. The elder she named, not Giusfredi, but Giannotto di Procida (the name of the younger she cared not to change), and explained to him, with the utmost diligence, why she had changed his name, showing him in what peril he might be, an he were known. This she set out to him not once, but many and many a time, and the boy, who was quick of wit, punctually obeyed the enjoinment of his discreet nurse.

Accordingly, the two boys and their nurse abode patiently in Messer Guasparrino's house several years, ill-clad and worse shod and employed about the meanest offices. But Giannotto, who was now sixteen years of age, and had more spirit than pertained to a slave, scorning the baseness of a menial condition, embarked on board certain galleys bound for Alexandria and taking leave of Messer Guasparrino's service, journeyed to divers parts, without any79 wise availing to advance himself. At last some three or four years after his departure from Genoa, being grown a handsome youth and tall of his person and hearing that his father, whom he thought dead, was yet alive, but was kept by King Charles in prison and duresse, he went wandering at a venture, well nigh despairing of fortune, till he came to Lunigiana and there, as chance would have it, took service with Currado Malespina, whom he served with great aptitude and acceptance. And albeit he now and again saw his mother, who was with Currado's lady, he never recognized her nor she him, so much had time changed the one and the other from that which they were used to be, whenas they last set eyes on each other.

Giannotto being, then, in Currado's service, it befell that a daughter of the latter, by name Spina, being left the widow of one Niccolo da Grignano, returned to her father's house and being very fair and agreeable and a girl of little more than sixteen years of age, chanced to cast eyes on Giannotto and he on her, and they became passionately enamoured of each other. Their love was not long without effect and lasted several months ere any was ware thereof. Wherefore, taking overmuch assurance, they began to order themselves with less discretion than behoveth unto matters of this kind, and one day, as they went, the young lady and Giannotto together, through a fair and thickset wood, they pushed on among the trees, leaving the rest of the company behind. Presently, themseeming they had far foregone the others, they laid themselves down to rest in a pleasant place, full of grass and flowers and shut in with trees, and there fell to taking amorous delight one of the other.

In this occupation, the greatness of their delight making the time seem brief to them, albeit they had been there a great while, they were surprised, first by the girl's mother and after by Currado, who, chagrined beyond measure at this sight, without saying aught of the cause, had them both seized by three of his serving-men and carried in bonds to a castle of his and went off, boiling with rage and despite and resolved to put them both to a shameful death. The girl's mother, although sore incensed and holding her daughter worthy of the severest punishment for her default, having by certain words of Currado apprehended his intent towards the culprits and unable to brook this, hastened after her enraged husband and began to beseech him that it would please him not run madly to make himself in his old age the murderer of his own daughter and to soil his hands with the blood of one of his servants, but to find other means of satisfying his wrath, such as to clap them in prison and there let them pine and bewail the fault committed. With these and many other words the pious lady so wrought upon him that she turned his mind from putting them to death and he bade imprison them, each in a place apart, where they should be well guarded and kept with scant victual and much unease, till such time as he should determine farther of them. As he bade, so was it done, and what their life was in duresse and continual tears and in fasts longer than might have behoved unto them, each may picture to himself.

What while Giannotto and Spina abode in this doleful case and had80 therein already abidden a year's space, unremembered of Currado, it came to pass that King Pedro of Arragon, by the procurement of Messer Gian di Procida, raised the island of Sicily against King Charles and took it from him, whereat Currado, being a Ghibelline,[108] rejoiced exceedingly, Giannotto, hearing of this from one of those who had him in guard, heaved a great sigh and said, 'Ah, woe is me! These fourteen years have I gone ranging beggarlike about the world, looking for nought other than this, which, now that it is come, so I may never again hope for weal, hath found me in a prison whence I have no hope ever to come forth, save dead.' 'How so?' asked the gaoler. 'What doth that concern thee which great kings do to one another? What hast thou to do in Sicily?' Quoth Giannotto, 'My heart is like to burst when I remember me of that which my father erst had to do there, whom, albeit I was but a little child, when I fled thence, yet do I mind me to have been lord thereof, in the lifetime of King Manfred.' 'And who was thy father?' asked the gaoler. 'My father's name,' answered Giannotto, 'I may now safely make known, since I find myself in the peril whereof I was in fear, an I discovered it. He was and is yet, an he live, called Arrighetto Capece, and my name is, not Giannotto, but Giusfredi, and I doubt not a jot, an I were quit of this prison, but I might yet, by returning to Sicily, have very high place there.'

The honest man, without asking farther, reported Giannotto's words, as first he had occasion, to Currado, who, hearing this,—albeit he feigned to the gaoler to make light of it,—betook himself to Madam Beritola and courteously asked her if she had had by Arrighetto a son named Giusfredi. The lady answered, weeping, that, if the elder of her two sons were alive, he would so be called and would be two-and-twenty years old. Currado, hearing this, concluded that this must be he and bethought himself that, were it so, he might at once do a great mercy and take away his own and his daughter's shame by giving her to Giannotto to wife; wherefore, sending privily for the latter, he particularly examined him touching all his past life and finding, by very manifest tokens, that he was indeed Giusfredi, son of Arrighetto Capece, he said to him, 'Giannotto, thou knowest what and how great is the wrong thou hast done me in the person of my daughter, whereas, I having ever well and friendly entreated thee, it behoved thee, as a servant should, still to study and do for my honour and interest; and many there be who, hadst thou used them like as thou hast used me, would have put thee to a shameful death, the which my clemency brooked not. Now, if it be as thou tellest me, to wit, that thou art the son of a man of condition and of a noble lady, I purpose, an thou81 thyself be willing, to put an end to thy tribulations and relieving thee from the misery and duresse wherein thou abidest, to reinstate at once thine honour and mine own in their due stead. As thou knowest, Spina, whom thou hast, though after a fashion misbeseeming both thyself and her, taken with love-liking, is a widow and her dowry is both great and good; as for her manners and her father and mother, thou knowest them, and of thy present state I say nothing. Wherefore, an thou will, I purpose that, whereas she hath unlawfully been thy mistress, she shall now lawfully become thy wife and that thou shalt abide here with me and with her, as my very son, so long as it shall please thee.'

Now prison had mortified Giannotto's flesh, but had nothing abated the generous spirit, which he derived from his noble birth, nor yet the entire affection he bore his mistress; and albeit he ardently desired that which Currado proffered him and saw himself in the latter's power, yet no whit did he dissemble of that which the greatness of his soul prompted him to say; wherefore he answered, 'Currado, neither lust of lordship nor greed of gain nor other cause whatever hath ever made me lay snares, traitor-wise, for thy life or thy good. I loved and love thy daughter and still shall love her, for that I hold her worthy of my love, and if I dealt with her less than honourably, in the opinion of the vulgar, my sin was one which still goeth hand in hand with youth and which an you would do away, it behoveth you first do away with youth. Moreover, it is an offence which, would the old but remember them of having been young and measure the defaults of others by their own and their own by those of others, would show less grievous than thou and many others make it; and as a friend, and not as an enemy, I committed it. This that thou profferest me I have still desired and had I thought it should be vouchsafed me, I had long since sought it; and so much the dearer will it now be to me, as my hope thereof was less. If, then, thou have not that intent which thy words denote, feed me not with vain hope; but restore me to prison and there torment me as thou wilt, for, so long as I love Spina, even so, for the love of her, shall I still love thee, whatsoever thou dost with me, and have thee in reverence.'

Currado, hearing this, marvelled and held him great of soul and his love fervent and tendered him therefore the dearer; wherefore, rising to his feet, he embraced him and kissed him and without more delay bade privily bring Spina thither. Accordingly, the lady—who was grown lean and pale and weakly in prison and showed well nigh another than she was wont to be, as on like wise Giannotto another man—being come, the two lovers in Currado's presence with one consent contracted marriage according to our usance. Then, after some days, during which he had let furnish the newly-married pair with all that was necessary or agreeable to them, he deemed it time to gladden their mothers with the good news and accordingly calling his lady and Cavriuola, he said to the latter, 'What would you say, madam, an I should cause you have again your elder son as the husband of one of my daughters?' Whereto she answered, 'Of that I can say to you no otherwhat than that, could I be more beholden to you than I am, I should be82 so much the more so as you would have restored to me that which is dearer to me than mine own self; and restoring it to me on such wise as you say, you would in some measure re-awaken in me my lost hope.' With this, she held her peace, weeping, and Currado said to his lady, 'And thou, mistress, how wouldst thou take it, were I to present thee with such a son-in-law?' The lady replied, 'Even a common churl, so he pleased you, would please me, let alone one of these,[109] who are men of gentle birth.' 'Then,' said Currado, 'I hope, ere many days, to make you happy women in this.'

Accordingly, seeing the two young folk now restored to their former cheer, he clad them sumptuously and said to Giusfredi, 'Were it not dear to thee, over and above thy present joyance, an thou sawest thy mother here?' Whereto he answered, 'I dare not flatter myself that the chagrin of her unhappy chances can have left her so long alive; but, were it indeed so, it were dear to me above all, more by token that methinketh I might yet, by her counsel, avail to recover great part of my estate in Sicily.' Thereupon Currado sent for both the ladies, who came and made much of the newly-wedded wife, no little wondering what happy inspiration it could have been that prompted Currado to such exceeding complaisance as he had shown in joining Giannotto with her in marriage. Madam Beritola, by reason of the words she had heard from Currado, began to consider Giannotto and some remembrance of the boyish lineaments of her son's countenance being by occult virtue awakened in her, without awaiting farther explanation, she ran, open-armed, to cast herself upon his neck, nor did overabounding emotion and maternal joy suffer her to say a word; nay, they so locked up all her senses that she fell into her son's arms, as if dead.

The latter, albeit he was sore amazed, remembering to have many times before seen her in that same castle and never recognized her, nevertheless knew incontinent the maternal odour and blaming himself for his past heedlessness, received her, weeping, in his arms and kissed her tenderly. After awhile, Madam Beritola, being affectionately tended by Currado's lady and Spina and plied both with cold water and other remedies, recalled her strayed senses and embracing her son anew, full of maternal tenderness, with many tears and many tender words, kissed him a thousand times, whilst he all reverently beheld and entreated her. After these joyful and honourable greetings had been thrice or four times repeated, to the no small contentment of the bystanders, and they had related unto each other all that had befallen them, Currado now, to the exceeding satisfaction of all, signified to his friends the new alliance made by him and gave ordinance for a goodly and magnificent entertainment.

Then said Giusfredi to him, 'Currado, you have made me glad of many things and have long honourably entertained my mother; and now, that no whit may remain undone of that which it is in your power to do, I pray you gladden my mother and bride-feast and myself with the presence of my brother, whom Messer Guasparrino d'Oria holdeth in servitude in his house and whom, as I83 have already told you, he took with me in one of his cruises. Moreover, I would have you send into Sicily one who shall thoroughly inform himself of the state and condition of the country and study to learn what is come of Arrighetto, my father, an he be alive or dead, and if he be alive, in what estate; of all which having fully certified himself, let him return to us.' Giusfredi's request was pleasing to Currado, and without any delay he despatched very discreet persons both to Genoa and to Sicily.

He who went to Genoa there sought out Messer Guasparrino and instantly besought him, on Currado's part, to send him Scacciato and his nurse, orderly recounting to him all his lord's dealings with Giusfredi and his mother. Messer Guasparrino marvelled exceedingly to hear this and said, 'True is it I would do all I may to pleasure Currado, and I have, indeed, these fourteen years had in my house the boy thou seekest and one his mother, both of whom I will gladly send him; but do thou bid him, on my part, beware of lending overmuch credence to the fables of Giannotto, who nowadays styleth himself Giusfredi, for that he is a far greater knave than he deemeth.' So saying, he caused honourably entertain the gentleman and sending privily for the nurse, questioned her shrewdly touching the matter. Now she had heard of the Sicilian revolt and understood Arrighetto to be alive, wherefore, casting off her former fears, she told him everything in order and showed him the reasons that had moved her to do as she had done.

Messer Guasparrino, finding her tale to accord perfectly with that of Currado's messenger, began to give credit to the latter's words and having by one means and another, like a very astute man as he was, made enquiry of the matter and happening hourly upon things that gave him more and more assurance of the fact, took shame to himself of his mean usage of the lad, in amends whereof, knowing what Arrighetto had been and was, he gave him to wife a fair young daughter of his, eleven years of age, with a great dowry. Then, after making a great bride-feast thereon, he embarked with the boy and girl and Currado's messenger and the nurse in a well-armed galliot and betook himself to Lerici, where he was received by Currado and went up, with all his company, to one of the latter's castles, not far removed thence, where there was a great banquet toward.

The mother's joy at seeing her son again and that of the two brothers in each other and of all three in the faithful nurse, the honour done of all to Messer Guasparrino and his daughter and of him to all and the rejoicing of all together with Currado and his lady and children and friends, no words might avail to express; wherefore, ladies, I leave it to you to imagine. Thereunto,[110] that it might be complete, it pleased God the Most High, a most abundant giver, whenas He beginneth, to add the glad news of the life and well-being of Arrighetto Capece; for that, the feast being at its height and the guests, both ladies and men, yet at table for the first service, there came he who had been sent into Sicily and amongst other things, reported of Arrighetto that he, being kept in captivity by King Charles, whenas the revolt84 against the latter broke out in the land, the folk ran in a fury to the prison and slaying his guards, delivered himself and as a capital enemy of King Charles, made him their captain and followed him to expel and slay the French: wherefore he was become in especial favour with King Pedro,[111] who had reinstated him in all his honours and possessions, and was now in great good case. The messenger added that he had received himself with the utmost honour and had rejoiced with inexpressible joy in the recovery of his wife and son, of whom he had heard nothing since his capture; moreover, he had sent a brigantine for them, with divers gentlemen aboard, who came after him.

The messenger was received and hearkened with great gladness and rejoicing, whilst Currado, with certain of his friends, set out incontinent to meet the gentlemen who came for Madam Beritola and Giusfredi and welcoming them joyously, introduced them into his banquet, which was not yet half ended. There both the lady and Giusfredi, no less than all the others, beheld them with such joyance that never was heard the like; and the gentlemen, ere they sat down to meat, saluted Currado and his lady on the part of Arrighetto, thanking them, as best they knew and might, for the honour done both to his wife and his son and offering himself to their pleasure,[112] in all that lay in his power. Then, turning to Messer Guasparrino, whose kindness was unlooked for, they avouched themselves most certain that, whenas that which he had done for Scacciato should be known of Arrighetto, the like thanks and yet greater would be rendered him.

Thereafter they banqueted right joyously with the new-made bridegrooms at the bride-feast of the two newly-wedded wives; nor that day alone did Currado entertain his son-in-law and other his kinsmen and friends, but many others. As soon as the rejoicings were somewhat abated, it appearing to Madam Beritola and to Giusfredi and the others that it was time to depart, they took leave with many tears of Currado and his lady and Messer Guasparrino and embarked on board the brigantine, carrying Spina with them; then, setting sail with a fair wind, they came speedily to Sicily, where all alike, both sons and daughters-in-law, were received by Arrighetto in Palermo with such rejoicing as might never be told; and there it is believed that they all lived happily a great while after, in love and thankfulness to God the Most High, as mindful of the benefits received."



Day the Second


Had Emilia's story been much longer protracted, it is like the compassion had by the young ladies on the misfortunes of Madam Beritola would have brought them to tears; but, an end being now made thereof, it pleased the queen that Pamfilo should follow on with his story, and accordingly he, who was very obedient, began thus, "Uneath, charming ladies, is it for us to know that which is meet for us, for that, as may oftentimes have been seen, many, imagining that, were they but rich, they might avail to live without care and secure, have not only with prayers sought riches of God, but have diligently studied to acquire them, grudging no toil and no peril in the quest, and who,—whereas, before they became enriched, they loved their lives,—once having gotten their desire, have found folk to slay them, for greed of so ample an inheritance. Others of low estate, having, through a thousand perilous battles and the blood of their brethren and their friends, mounted to the summit of kingdoms, thinking in the royal estate to enjoy supreme felicity, without the innumerable cares and alarms whereof they see and feel it full, have learned, at the cost of their lives, that poison is drunken at royal tables in cups of gold. Many there be who have with most ardent appetite desired bodily strength and beauty and divers personal adornments and perceived not that they had desired ill till they found these very gifts a cause to them of death or dolorous life. In fine, not to speak particularly of all the objects of human desire, I dare say that there is not one which can, with entire assurance, be chosen by mortal men as secure from the vicissitudes of fortune; wherefore, an we would do aright, needs must we resign ourselves to take and possess that which is appointed us of Him who alone knoweth that which behoveth unto us and is able to give it to us. But for that, whereas men sin in desiring various things, you, gracious ladies, sin, above all, in one, to wit, in wishing to be fair,—insomuch that, not content with the charms vouchsafed you by nature, you still with marvellous art study to augment them,—it pleaseth me to recount to you how ill-fortunedly fair was a Saracen lady, whom it befell, for her beauty, to be in some four years' space nine times wedded anew.

It is now a pretty while since there was a certain Soldan of Babylon,[113] by name Berminedab, to whom in his day many things happened in accordance86 with his pleasure.[114] Amongst many other children, both male and female, he had a daughter called Alatiel, who, by report of all who saw her, was the fairest woman to be seen in the world in those days, and having, in a great defeat he had inflicted upon a vast multitude of Arabs who were come upon him, been wonder-well seconded by the King of Algarve,[115] had, at his request, given her to him to wife, of especial favour; wherefore, embarking her aboard a ship well armed and equipped, with an honourable company of men and ladies and store of rich and sumptuous gear and furniture, he despatched her to him, commending her to God.

The sailors, seeing the weather favourable, gave their sails to the wind and departing the port of Alexandria, fared on prosperously many days, and having now passed Sardinia, deemed themselves near the end of their voyage, when there arose one day of a sudden divers contrary winds, which, being each beyond measure boisterous, so harassed the ship, wherein was the lady, and the sailors, that the latter more than once gave themselves over for lost. However, like valiant men, using every art and means in their power, they rode it out two days, though buffeted by a terrible sea; but, at nightfall of the third day, the tempest abating not, nay, waxing momently, they felt the ship open, being then not far off Majorca, but knowing not where they were neither availing to apprehend it either by nautical reckoning or by sight, for that the sky was altogether obscured by clouds and dark night; wherefore, seeing no other way of escape and having each himself in mind and not others, they lowered a shallop into the water, into which the officers cast themselves, choosing rather to trust themselves thereto than to the leaking ship. The rest of the men in the ship crowded after them into the boat, albeit those who had first embarked therein opposed it, knife in hand,—and thinking thus to flee from death, ran straight into it, for that the boat, availing not, for the intemperance of the weather, to hold so many, foundered and they perished one and all.

As for the ship, being driven by a furious wind and running very swiftly, albeit it was now well nigh water-logged, (none being left on board save the princess and her women, who all, overcome by the tempestuous sea and by fear, lay about the decks as they were dead,) it stranded upon a beach of the island of Majorca and such and so great was the shock that it well nigh buried itself in the sand some stone's cast from the shore, where it abode the night, beaten by the waves, nor might the wind avail to stir it more. Broad day came and the tempest somewhat87 abating, the princess, who was half dead, raised her head and weak as she was, fell to calling now one, now another of her household, but to no purpose, for that those she called were too far distant. Finding herself unanswered of any and seeing no one, she marvelled exceedingly and began to be sore afraid; then, rising up, as best she might, she saw the ladies who were in her company and the other women lying all about and trying now one and now another, found few who gave any signs of life, the most of them being dead what with sore travail of the stomach and what with affright; wherefore fear redoubled upon her.

Nevertheless, necessity constraining her, for that she saw herself alone there and had neither knowledge nor inkling where she was, she so goaded those who were yet alive that she made them arise and finding them unknowing whither the men were gone and seeing the ship stranded and full of water, she fell to weeping piteously, together with them. It was noon ere they saw any about the shore or elsewhere, whom they might move to pity and succour them; but about that hour there passed by a gentleman, by name Pericone da Visalgo, returning by chance from a place of his, with sundry of his servants on horseback. He saw the ship and forthright conceiving what it was, bade one of the servants board it without delay and tell him what he found there. The man, though with difficulty, made his way on board and found the young lady, with what little company she had, crouched, all adread, under the heel of the bowsprit. When they saw him, they besought him, weeping, of mercy again and again; but, perceiving that he understood them not nor they him, they made shift to make known to him their misadventure by signs.

The servant having examined everything as best he might, reported to Pericone that which was on board; whereupon the latter promptly caused to bring the ladies ashore, together with the most precious things that were in the ship and might be gotten, and carried them off to a castle of his, where, the women being refreshed with food and rest, he perceived, from the richness of her apparel, that the lady whom he had found must needs be some great gentlewoman, and of this he was speedily certified by the honour that he saw the others do her and her alone; and although she was pale and sore disordered of her person, for the fatigues of the voyage, her features seemed to him exceeding fair; wherefore he forthright took counsel with himself, an she had no husband, to seek to have her to wife, and if he might not have her in marriage, to make shift to have her favours.

He was a man of commanding presence and exceeding robust and having for some days let tend the lady excellently well and she being thereby altogether restored, he saw her lovely past all conception and was grieved beyond measure that he could not understand her nor she him and so he might not learn who she was. Nevertheless, being inordinately inflamed by her charms, he studied, with pleasing and amorous gestures, to engage her to do his pleasure without contention; but to no avail; she altogether rejected his advances and so much the more waxed Pericone's ardour. The lady, seeing this and having now abidden there some days, perceived, by the usances of the folk, that88 she was among Christians and in a country where, even if she could, it had little profited her to make herself known and foresaw that, in the end, either perforce or for love, needs must she resign herself to do Pericone's pleasure, but resolved nevertheless by dint of magnanimity to override the wretchedness of her fortune; wherefore she commanded her women, of whom but three were left her, that they should never discover to any who she was, except they found themselves whereas they might look for manifest furtherance in the regaining of their liberty, and urgently exhorted them, moreover, to preserve their chastity, avouching herself determined that none, save her husband, should ever enjoy her. They commended her for this and promised to observe her commandment to the best of their power.

Meanwhile Pericone, waxing daily more inflamed, insomuch as he saw the thing desired so near and yet so straitly denied, and seeing that his blandishments availed him nothing, resolved to employ craft and artifice, reserving force unto the last. Wherefore, having observed bytimes that wine was pleasing to the lady, as being unused to drink thereof, for that her law forbade it, he bethought himself that he might avail to take her with this, as with a minister of enus. Accordingly, feigning to reck no more of that whereof she showed herself so chary, he made one night by way of special festival a goodly supper, whereto he bade the lady, and therein, the repast being gladdened with many things, he took order with him who served her that he should give her to drink of various wines mingled. The cupbearer did his bidding punctually and she, being nowise on her guard against this and allured by the pleasantness of the drink, took more thereof than consisted with her modesty; whereupon, forgetting all her past troubles, she waxed merry and seeing some women dance after the fashion of Majorca, herself danced in the Alexandrian manner.

Pericone, seeing this, deemed himself on the high road to that which he desired and continuing the supper with great plenty of meats and wines, protracted it far into the night. Ultimately, the guests having departed, he entered with the lady alone into her chamber, where she, more heated with wine than restrained by modesty, without any reserve of shamefastness, undid herself in his presence, as he had been one of her women, and betook herself to bed. Pericone was not slow to follow her, but, putting out all the lights, promptly hid himself beside her and catching her in his arms, proceeded, without any gainsayal on her part, amorously to solace himself with her; which when once she had felt,—having never theretofore known with what manner horn men butt,—as if repenting her of not having yielded to Pericone's solicitations, thenceforth, without waiting to be bidden to such agreeable nights, she oftentimes invited herself thereto, not by words, which she knew not how to make understood, but by deeds.

But, in the midst of this great pleasance of Pericone and herself, fortune, not content with having reduced her from a king's bride to be the mistress of a country gentleman, had foreordained unto her a more barbarous alliance. Pericone had a brother by name Marato,89 five-and-twenty years of age and fair and fresh as a rose, who saw her and she pleased him mightily. Himseemed, moreover, according to that which he could apprehend from her gestures, that he was very well seen of her and conceiving that nought hindered him of that which he craved of her save the strait watch kept on her by Pericone, he fell into a barbarous thought, whereon the nefarious effect followed without delay.

There was then, by chance, in the harbour of the city a vessel laden with merchandise and bound for Chiarenza[116] in Roumelia; whereof two young Genoese were masters, who had already hoisted sail to depart as soon as the wind should be fair. Marato, having agreed with them, took order how he should on the ensuing night be received aboard their ship with the lady; and this done, as soon as it was dark, having inwardly determined what he should do, he secretly betook himself, with certain of his trustiest friends, whom he had enlisted for the purpose, to the house of Pericone, who nowise mistrusted him. There he hid himself, according to the ordinance appointed between them, and after a part of the night had passed, he admitted his companions and repaired with them to the chamber where Pericone lay with the lady. Having opened the door, they slew Pericone, as he slept, and took the lady, who was now awake and in tears, threatening her with death, if she made any outcry; after which they made off, unobserved, with great part of Pericone's most precious things and betook themselves in haste to the sea-shore, where Marato and the lady embarked without delay on board the ship, whilst his companions returned whence they came.

The sailors, having a fair wind and a fresh, made sail and set out on their voyage, whilst the princess sore and bitterly bewailed both her former and that her second misadventure; but Marato, with that Saint Waxeth-in-hand, which God hath given us [men,] proceeded to comfort her after such a fashion that she soon grew familiar with him and forgetting Pericone, began to feel at her ease, when fortune, as if not content with the past tribulations wherewith it had visited her, prepared her a new affliction; for that, she being, as we have already more than once said, exceeding fair of favour and of very engaging manners, the two young men, the masters of the ship, became so passionately enamoured of her that, forgetting all else, they studied only to serve and pleasure her, being still on their guard lest Marato should get wind of the cause. Each becoming aware of the other's passion, they privily took counsel together thereof, and agreed to join in getting the lady for themselves and enjoy her in common, as if love should suffer this, as do merchandise and gain.

Seeing her straitly guarded by Marato and being thereby hindered of their purpose, one day, as the ship fared on at full speed under sail and Marato stood at the poop, looking out on the sea and nowise on his guard against them, they went of one accord and laying hold of him suddenly from behind, cast him into the sea, nor was it till they had sailed more than a mile farther that any per90ceived Marato to be fallen overboard. Alatiel, hearing this and seeing no possible way of recovering him, began anew to make moan for herself; whereupon the two lovers came incontinent to her succour and with soft words and very good promises, whereof she understood but little, studied to soothe and console the lady, who lamented not so much her lost husband as her own ill fortune. After holding much discourse with her at one time and another, themseeming after awhile they had well nigh comforted her, they came to words with one another which should first take her to lie with him. Each would fain be the first and being unable to come to any accord upon this, they first with words began a sore and hot dispute and thereby kindled into rage, they clapped hands to their knives and falling furiously on one another, before those on board could part them, dealt each other several blows, whereof one incontinent fell dead, whilst the other abode on life, though grievously wounded in many places.

This new mishap was sore unpleasing to the lady, who saw herself alone, without aid or counsel of any, and feared lest the anger of the two masters' kinsfolk and friends should revert upon herself; but the prayers of the wounded man and their speedy arrival at Chiarenza delivered her from danger of death. There she went ashore with the wounded man and took up her abode with him in an inn, where the report of her great beauty soon spread through the city and came to the ears of the Prince of the Morea, who was then at Chiarenza and was fain to see her. Having gotten sight of her and himseeming she was fairer than report gave out, he straightway became so sore enamoured of her that he could think of nothing else and hearing how she came thither, doubted not to be able to get her for himself. As he cast about for a means of effecting his purpose, the wounded man's kinsfolk got wind of his desire and without awaiting more, sent her to him forthright, which was mighty agreeable to the prince and to the lady also, for that herseemed she was quit of a great peril. The prince, seeing her graced, over and above her beauty, with royal manners and unable otherwise to learn who she was, concluded her to be some noble lady, wherefore he redoubled in his love for her and holding her in exceeding honour, entreated her not as a mistress, but as his very wife.

The lady, accordingly, having regard to her past troubles and herseeming she was well enough bestowed, was altogether comforted and waxing blithe again, her beauties flourished on such wise that it seemed all Roumelia could talk of nothing else. The report of her loveliness reaching the Duke of Athens, who was young and handsome and doughty of his person and a friend and kinsman of the prince, he was taken with a desire to see her and making a show of paying him a visit, as he was wont bytimes to do, repaired, with a fair and worshipful company, to Chiarenza, where he was honourably received and sumptuously entertained. Some days after, the two kinsmen coming to discourse together of the lady's charms, the duke asked if she were indeed so admirable a creature as was reported; to which the prince answered, 'Much more so; but thereof I will have not my words, but thine own eyes certify thee.' Accordingly, at the duke's91 solicitation, they betook themselves together to the princess's lodging, who, having had notice of their coming, received them very courteously and with a cheerful favour, and they seated her between them, but might not have the pleasure of conversing with her, for that she understood little or nothing of their language; wherefore each contented himself with gazing upon her, as upon a marvel, and especially the duke, who could scarce bring himself to believe that she was a mortal creature and thinking to satisfy his desire with her sight, heedless of the amorous poison he drank in at his eyes, beholding her, he miserably ensnared himself, becoming most ardently enamoured of her.

After he had departed her presence with the prince and had leisure to bethink himself, he esteemed his kinsman happy beyond all others in having so fair a creature at his pleasure, and after many and various thoughts, his unruly passion weighing more with him than his honour, he resolved, come thereof what might, to do his utmost endeavour to despoil the prince of that felicity and bless himself therewith. Accordingly, being minded to make a quick despatch of the matter and setting aside all reason and all equity, he turned his every thought to the devising of means for the attainment of his wishes, and one day, in accordance with the nefarious ordinance taken by him with a privy chamberlain of the prince's, by name Ciuriaci, he let make ready in secret his horses and baggage for a sudden departure.

The night come, he was, with a companion, both armed, stealthily introduced by the aforesaid Ciuriaci into the prince's chamber and saw the latter (the lady being asleep) standing, all naked for the great heat, at a window overlooking the sea-shore, to take a little breeze that came from that quarter; whereupon, having beforehand informed his companion of that which he had to do, he went softly up to the window and striking the prince with a knife, stabbed him, through and through the small of his back; then, taking him up in haste, he cast him forth of the window. The palace stood over against the sea and was very lofty and the window in question looked upon certain houses that had been undermined by the beating of the waves and where seldom or never any came; wherefore it happened, as the duke had foreseen, that the fall of the prince's body was not nor might be heard of any. The duke's companion, seeing this done, pulled out a halter he had brought with him to that end and making a show of caressing Ciuriaci, cast it adroitly about his neck and drew it so that he could make no outcry; then, the duke coming up, they strangled him and cast him whereas they had cast the prince.

This done and they being manifestly certified that they had been unheard of the lady or of any other, the duke took a light in his hand and carrying it to the bedside, softly uncovered the princess, who slept fast. He considered her from head to foot and mightily commended her; for, if she was to his liking, being clothed, she pleased him, naked, beyond all compare. Wherefore, fired with hotter desire and unawed by his new-committed crime, he couched himself by her side, with hands yet bloody, and lay with her, all sleepy-eyed as she was and thinking him to be the prince. After he had abidden92 with her awhile in the utmost pleasure, he arose and summoning certain of his companions, caused take up the lady on such wise that she could make no outcry and carry her forth by a privy door, whereat he had entered; then, setting her on horseback, he took to the road with all his men, as softliest he might, and returned to his own dominions. However (for that he had a wife) he carried the lady, who was the most distressful of women, not to Athens, but to a very goodly place he had by the sea, a little without the city, and there entertained her in secret, causing honourably furnish her with all that was needful.

The prince's courtiers on the morrow awaited his rising till none, when, hearing nothing, they opened the chamber-doors, which were but closed, and finding no one, concluded that he was gone somewhither privily, to pass some days there at his ease with his fair lady, and gave themselves no farther concern. Things being thus, it chanced next day that an idiot, entering the ruins where lay the bodies of the prince and Ciuriaci, dragged the latter forth by the halter and went haling him after him. The body was, with no little wonderment, recognized by many, who, coaxing the idiot to bring them to the place whence he had dragged it, there, to the exceeding grief of the whole city, found the prince's corpse and gave it honourable burial. Then, enquiring for the authors of so heinous a crime and finding that the Duke of Athens was no longer there, but had departed by stealth, they concluded, even as was the case, that it must be he who had done this and carried off the lady; whereupon they straightway substituted a brother of the dead man to their prince and incited him with all their might to vengeance. The new prince, being presently certified by various other circumstances that it was as they had surmised, summoned his friends and kinsmen and servants from divers parts and promptly levying a great and goodly and powerful army, set out to make war upon the Duke of Athens.

The latter, hearing of this, on like wise mustered all his forces for his own defence, and to his aid came many lords, amongst whom the Emperor of Constantinople sent Constantine his son and Manual his nephew, with a great and goodly following. The two princes were honourably received by the duke and yet more so by the duchess, for that she was their sister,[117] and matters drawing thus daily nearer unto war, taking her occasion, she sent for them both one day to her chamber and there, with tears galore and many words, related to them the whole story, acquainting them with the causes of the war. Moreover, she discovered to them the affront done her by the duke in the matter of the woman whom it was believed he privily entertained, and complaining sore thereof, besought them to apply to the matter such remedy as best they might, for the honour of the duke and her own solacement.

The young men already knew all the facts as it had been; wherefore, without enquiring farther, they comforted the duchess, as best they might, and filled her with good hope. Then, having learned from her where the lady abode, they took their leave and having93 a mind to see the latter, for that they had oftentimes heard her commended for marvellous beauty, they besought the duke to show her to them. He, unmindful of that which had befallen the Prince of the Morea for having shown her to himself, promised to do this and accordingly next morning, having let prepare a magnificent collation in a very goodly garden that pertained to the lady's place of abode, he carried them and a few others thither to eat with her. Constantine, sitting with Alatiel, fell a-gazing upon her, full of wonderment, avouching in himself that he had never seen aught so lovely and that certes the duke must needs be held excused, ay, and whatsoever other, to have so fair a creature, should do treason or other foul thing, and looking on her again and again and each time admiring her more, it betided him no otherwise than it had betided the duke; wherefore, taking his leave, enamoured of her, he abandoned all thought of the war and occupied himself with considering how he might take her from the duke, carefully concealing his passion the while from every one.

Whilst he yet burnt in this fire, the time came to go out against the new prince, who now drew near to the duke's territories; wherefore the latter and Constantine and all the others, sallied forth of Athens according to the given ordinance and betook themselves to the defence of certain frontiers, so the prince might not avail to advance farther. When they had lain there some days, Constantine having his mind and thought still intent upon the lady and conceiving that, now the duke was no longer near her, he might very well avail to accomplish his pleasure, feigned himself sore indisposed of his person, to have an occasion of returning to Athens; wherefore, with the duke's leave, committing his whole power to Manuel, he returned to Athens to his sister, and there, after some days, putting her upon talk of the affront which herseemed she suffered from the duke by reason of the lady whom he entertained, he told her that, an it liked her, he would soon ease her thereof by causing take the lady from whereas she was and carry her off. The duchess, conceiving that he did this of regard for herself and not for love of the lady, answered that it liked her exceeding well so but it might be done on such wise that the duke should never know that she had been party thereto, which Constantine fully promised her, and thereupon she consented that he should do as seemed best to him.

Constantine, accordingly, let secretly equip a light vessel and sent it one evening to the neighbourhood of the garden where the lady abode; then, having taught certain of his men who were on board what they had to do, he repaired with others to the lady's pavilion, where he was cheerfully received by those in her service and indeed by the lady herself, who, at his instance, betook herself with him to the garden, attended by her servitors and his companions. There, making as he would speak with her on the duke's part, he went with her alone towards a gate, which gave upon the sea and had already been opened by one of his men, and calling the bark thither with the given signal, he caused suddenly seize the lady and carry her aboard; then, turning to her people, he said to them, 'Let none stir or utter a word, an he94 would not die; for that I purpose not to rob the duke of his wench, but to do away the affront which he putteth upon my sister.'

To this none dared make answer; whereupon Constantine, embarking with his people and seating himself by the side of the weeping lady, bade thrust the oars into the water and make off. Accordingly, they put out to sea and not hieing, but flying,[118] came, after a little after daybreak on the morrow, to Egina, where they landed and took rest, whilst Constantine solaced himself awhile with the lady, who bemoaned her ill-fated beauty. Thence, going aboard the bark again, they made their way, in a few days, to Chios, where it pleased Constantine to take up his sojourn, as in a place of safety, for fear of his father's resentment and lest the stolen lady should be taken from him. There the fair lady bewailed her ill fate some days, but, being presently comforted by Constantine, she began, as she had done otherwhiles, to take her pleasure of that which fortune had foreordained to her.

Things being at this pass, Osbech, King of the Turks, who abode in continual war with the Emperor, came by chance to Smyrna, where hearing how Constantine abode in Chios, without any precaution, leading a wanton life with a mistress of his, whom he had stolen away, he repaired thither one night with some light-armed ships and entering the city by stealth with some of his people, took many in their beds, ere they knew of the enemy's coming. Some, who, taking the alert, had run to arms, he slew and having burnt the whole place, carried the booty and captives on board the ships and returned to Smyrna. When they arrived there, Osbech, who was a young man, passing his prisoners in review, found the fair lady among them and knowing her for her who had been taken with Constantine asleep in bed, was mightily rejoiced at sight of her. Accordingly, he made her his wife without delay, and celebrating the nuptials forthright, lay with her some months in all joyance.

Meanwhile, the Emperor, who had, before these things came to pass, been in treaty with Bassano, King of Cappadocia, to the end that he should come down upon Osbech from one side with his power, whilst himself assailed him on the other, but had not yet been able to come to a full accord with him, for that he was unwilling to grant certain things which Bassano demanded and which he deemed unreasonable, hearing what had betided his son and chagrined beyond measure thereat, without hesitating farther, did that which the King of Cappadocia asked and pressed him as most he might to fall upon Osbech, whilst himself made ready to come down upon him from another quarter. Osbech, hearing this, assembled his army, ere he should be straitened between two such puissant princes, and marched against Bassano, leaving his fair lady at Smyrna, in charge of a trusty servant and friend of his. After some time he encountered the King of Cappadocia and giving him battle, was slain in the mellay and his army discomfited and dispersed; whereupon Bassano advanced in triumph towards Smyrna, unopposed, and all the folk submitted to him by the way, as to a conqueror.

Meanwhile, Osbech's servant, Anti95ochus by name, in whose charge the lady had been left, seeing her so fair, forgot his plighted faith to his friend and master and became enamoured of her, for all he was a man in years. Urged by love and knowing her tongue (the which was mighty agreeable to her, as well as it might be to one whom it had behoved for some years live as she were deaf and dumb, for that she understood none neither was understanded of any) he began, in a few days, to be so familiar with her that, ere long, having no regard to their lord and master who was absent in the field, they passed from friendly commerce to amorous privacy, taking marvellous pleasure one of the other between the sheets. When they heard that Osbech was defeated and slain and that Bassano came carrying all before him, they took counsel together not to await him there and laying hands on great part of the things of most price that were there pertaining to Osbech, gat them privily to Rhodes, where they had not long abidden ere Antiochus sickened unto death.

As chance would have it, there was then in lodging with him a merchant of Cyprus, who was much loved of him and his fast friend, and Antiochus, feeling himself draw to his end, bethought himself to leave him both his possessions and his beloved lady; wherefore, being now nigh upon death, he called them both to him and bespoke them thus, 'I feel myself, without a doubt, passing away, which grieveth me, for that never had I such delight in life as I presently have. Of one thing, indeed, I die most content, in that, since I must e'en die, I see myself die in the arms of those twain whom I love over all others that be in the world, to wit, in thine, dearest friend, and in those of this lady, whom I have loved more than mine own self, since first I knew her. True, it grieveth me to feel that, when I am dead, she will abide here a stranger, without aid or counsel; and it were yet more grievous to me, did I not know thee here, who wilt, I trust, have that same care of her, for the love of me, which thou wouldst have had of myself. Wherefore, I entreat thee, as most I may, if it come to pass that I die, that thou take my goods and her into thy charge and do with them and her that which thou deemest may be for the solacement of my soul. And thou, dearest lady, I prithee forget me not after my death, so I may vaunt me, in the other world, of being beloved here below of the fairest lady ever nature formed; of which two things an you will give me entire assurance, I shall depart without misgiving and comforted.'

The merchant his friend and the lady, hearing these words, wept, and when he had made an end of his speech, they comforted him and promised him upon their troth to do that which he asked, if it came to pass that he died. He tarried not long, but presently departed this life and was honourably interred of them. A few days after, the merchant having despatched all his business in Rhodes and purposing to return to Cyprus on board a Catalan carrack that was there, asked the fair lady what she had a mind to do, for that it behoved him return to Cyprus. She answered that, an it pleased him, she would gladly go with him, hoping for Antiochus his love to be of him entreated and regarded as a sister. The merchant replied that he was content to do her every pleas96ure, and the better to defend her from any affront that might be offered her, ere they came to Cyprus, he avouched that she was his wife. Accordingly, they embarked on board the ship and were given a little cabin on the poop, where, that the fact might not belie his words, he lay with her in one very small bed. Whereby there came about that which was not intended of the one or the other of them at departing Rhodes, to wit, that—darkness and commodity and the heat of the bed, matters of no small potency, inciting them,—drawn by equal appetite and forgetting both the friendship and the love of Antiochus dead, they fell to dallying with each other and before they reached Baffa, whence the Cypriot came, they had clapped up an alliance together.

At Baffa she abode some time with the merchant till, as chance would have it, there came thither, for his occasions, a gentleman by name Antigonus, great of years and greater yet of wit, but little of wealth, for that, intermeddling in the affairs of the King of Cyprus, fortune had in many things been contrary to him. Chancing one day to pass by the house where the fair lady dwelt with the merchant, who was then gone with his merchandise into Armenia, he espied her at a window and seeing her very beautiful, fell to gazing fixedly upon her and presently began to recollect that he must have seen her otherwhere, but where he could on no wise call to mind. As for the lady, who had long been the sport of fortune, but the term of whose ills was now drawing near, she no sooner set eyes on Antigonus than she remembered to have seen him at Alexandria in no mean station in her father's service; wherefore, conceiving a sudden hope of yet by his aid regaining her royal estate, and knowing her merchant to be abroad, she let call him to her as quickliest she might and asked him, blushing, an he were not, as she supposed, Antigonus of Famagosta. He answered that he was and added, 'Madam, meseemeth I know you, but on no wise can I remember me where I have seen you; wherefore I pray you, an it mislike you not, put me in mind who you are.'

The lady hearing that it was indeed he, to his great amazement, cast her arms about his neck, weeping sore, and presently asked him if he had never seen her in Alexandria. Antigonus, hearing this, incontinent knew her for the Soldan's daughter Alatiel, who was thought to have perished at sea, and would fain have paid her the homage due to her quality; but she would on no wise suffer it and besought him to sit with her awhile. Accordingly, seating himself beside her, he asked her respectfully how and when and whence she came thither, seeing that it was had for certain, through all the land of Egypt, that she had been drowned at sea years agone. 'Would God,' replied she, 'it had been so, rather than that I should have had the life I have had; and I doubt not but my father would wish the like, if ever he came to know it.'

So saying, she fell anew to weeping wonder-sore; whereupon quoth Antigonus to her, 'Madam, despair not ere it behove you; but, an it please you, relate to me your adventures and what manner of life yours hath been; it may be the matter hath gone on such wise that, with God's aid, we may avail to97 find an effectual remedy.' 'Antigonus,' answered the fair lady, 'when I beheld thee, meseemed I saw my father, and moved by that love and tenderness, which I am bounden to bear him, I discovered myself to thee, having it in my power to conceal myself from thee, and few persons could it have befallen me to look upon in whom I could have been so well-pleased as I am to have seen and known thee before any other; wherefore that which in my ill fortune I have still kept hidden, to thee, as to a father, I will discover. If, after thou hast heard it, thou see any means of restoring me to my pristine estate, prithee use it; but, if thou see none, I beseech thee never tell any that thou hast seen me or heard aught of me.'

This said, she recounted to him, still weeping, that which had befallen her from the time of her shipwreck on Majorca up to that moment; whereupon he fell a-weeping for pity and after considering awhile, 'Madam,' said he, 'since in your misfortunes it hath been hidden who you are, I will, without fail, restore you, dearer than ever, to your father and after to the King of Algarve to wife.' Being questioned of her of the means, he showed her orderly that which was to do, and lest any hindrance should betide through delay, he presently returned to Famagosta and going in to the king, said to him, 'My lord, an it like you, you have it in your power at once to do yourself exceeding honour and me, who am poor through you, a great service, at no great cost of yours.' The king asked how and Antigonus replied, 'There is come to Baffa the Soldan's fair young daughter, who hath so long been reputed drowned and who, to save her honour, hath long suffered very great unease and is presently in poor case and would fain return to her father. An it pleased you send her to him under my guard, it would be much to your honour and to my weal, nor do I believe that such a service would ever be forgotten of the Soldan.'

The king, moved by a royal generosity of mind, answered forthright that he would well and sending for Alatiel, brought her with all honour and worship to Famagosta, where she was received by himself and the queen with inexpressible rejoicing and entertained with magnificent hospitality. Being presently questioned of the king and queen of her adventures, she answered according to the instructions given her by Antigonus and related everything;[119] and a few days after, at her request, the king sent her, under the governance of Antigonus, with a goodly and worshipful company of men and women, back to the Soldan, of whom let none ask if she was received with rejoicing, as also was Antigonus and all her company.

As soon as she was somewhat rested, the Soldan desired to know how it chanced that she was yet alive and where she had so long abidden, without having ever let him know aught of her condition; whereupon the lady, who had kept Antigonus his instructions perfectly in mind, bespoke him thus, 'Father mine, belike the twentieth day after my departure from you, our ship, having sprung a leak in a terrible storm, struck in the night upon certain coasts98 yonder in the West,[120] near a place called Aguamorta, and what became of the men who were aboard I know not nor could ever learn; this much only do I remember that, the day come and I arisen as it were from death to life, the shattered vessel was espied of the country people, who ran from all the parts around to plunder it. I and two of my women were first set ashore and the latter were incontinent seized by certain of the young men, who fled with them, one this way and the other that, and what came of them I never knew.

As for myself, I was taken, despite my resistance, by two young men, and haled along by the hair, weeping sore the while; but, as they crossed over a road, to enter a great wood, there passed by four men on horseback, whom when my ravishers saw, they loosed me forthwith and took to flight. The new comers, who seemed to me persons of great authority, seeing this, ran where I was and asked me many questions; whereto I answered much, but neither understood nor was understanded of them. However, after long consultation they set me on one of their horses and carried me to a convent of women vowed to religion, according to their law, where, whatever they said, I was of all the ladies kindly received and still entreated with honour, and there with great devotion I joined them in serving Saint Waxeth-in-Deepdene, a saint for whom the women of that country have a vast regard.

After I had abidden with them awhile and learned somewhat of their language, they questioned me of who I was and fearing, an I told the truth, to be expelled from amongst them, as an enemy of their faith, I answered that I was the daughter of a great gentleman of Cyprus, who was sending me to be married in Crete, when, as ill-luck would have it, we had run thither and suffered shipwreck. Moreover, many a time and in many things I observed their customs, for fear of worse, and being asked by the chief of the ladies, her whom they call abbess, if I wished to return thence to Cyprus, I answered that I desired nothing so much; but she, tender of my honour, would never consent to trust me to any person who was bound for Cyprus, till some two months agone, when there came thither certain gentlemen of France with their ladies. One of the latter being a kinswoman of the abbess and she hearing that they were bound for Jerusalem, to visit the Sepulchre where He whom they hold God was buried, after He had been slain by the Jews, she commended me to their care and besought them to deliver me to my father in Cyprus.

With what honour these gentlemen entreated me and how cheerfully they received me together with their ladies, it were a long story to tell; suffice it to say that we took ship and came, after some days, to Baffa, where finding myself arrived and knowing none in the place, I knew not what to say to the gentlemen, who would fain have delivered me to my father, according to that which had been enjoined them of the reverend lady; but God, taking pity belike on my affliction, brought me Antigonus upon the beach what time we disembarked at Baffa, whom I straightway hailed and in our tongue, so99 as not to be understood of the gentlemen and their ladies, bade him receive me as a daughter. He promptly apprehended me and receiving me with a great show of joy, entertained the gentlemen and their ladies with such honour as his poverty permitted and carried me to the King of Cyprus, who received me with such hospitality and hath sent me back to you [with such courtesy] as might never be told of me. If aught remain to be said, let Antigonus, who hath ofttimes heard from me these adventures, recount it.'

Accordingly Antigonus, turning to the Soldan, said, 'My lord, even as she hath many a time told me and as the gentlemen and ladies, with whom she came, said to me, so hath she recounted unto you. Only one part hath she forborne to tell you, the which methinketh she left unsaid for that it beseemeth her not to tell it, to wit, how much the gentlemen and ladies, with whom she came, said of the chaste and modest life which she led with the religious ladies and of her virtue and commendable manners and the tears and lamentations of her companions, both men and women, when, having restored her to me, they took leave of her. Of which things were I fain to tell in full that which they said to me, not only this present day, but the ensuing night would not suffice unto us; be it enough to say only that (according to that which their words attested and that also which I have been able to see thereof,) you may vaunt yourself of having the fairest daughter and the chastest and most virtuous of any prince that nowadays weareth a crown.'

The Soldan was beyond measure rejoiced at these things and besought God again and again to vouchsafe him of His grace the power of worthily requiting all who had succoured his daughter and especially the King of Cyprus, by whom she had been sent back to him with honour. After some days, having caused prepare great gifts for Antigonus, he gave him leave to return to Cyprus and rendered, both by letters and by special ambassadors, the utmost thanks to the king for that which he had done with his daughter. Then desiring that that which was begun should have effect, to wit, that she should be the wife of the King of Algarve, he acquainted the latter with the whole matter and wrote to him to boot, that, an it pleased him have her, he should send for her. The King of Algarve was mightily rejoiced at this news and sending for her in state, received her joyfully; and she, who had lain with eight men belike ten thousand times, was put to bed to him for a maid and making him believe that she was so, lived happily with him as his queen awhile after; wherefore it was said, 'Lips for kissing forfeit no favour; nay, they renew as the moon doth ever.'"



Day the Second


The ladies sighed amain over the fortunes of the fair Saracen; but who knoweth what gave rise to those sighs? Maybe there were some of them who sighed no less for envy of such frequent nuptials than for pity of Alatiel. But, leaving that be for the present, after they had laughed at Pamfilo's last words, the queen, seeing his story ended, turned to Elisa and bade her follow on with one of hers. Elisa cheerfully obeyed and began as follows: "A most ample field is that wherein we go to-day a-ranging, nor is there any of us but could lightly enough run, not one, but half a score courses there, so abounding hath Fortune made it in her strange and grievous chances; wherefore, to come to tell of one of these latter, which are innumerable, I say that:

When the Roman Empire was transferred from the French to the Germans,[121] there arose between the one and the other nation an exceeding great enmity and a grievous and continual war, by reason whereof, as well for the defence of their own country as for the offence of that of others, the King of France and a son of his, with all the power of their realm and of such friends and kinsfolk as they could command, levied a mighty army to go forth upon the foe; and ere they proceeded thereunto,—not to leave the realm without governance,—knowing Gautier, Count of Antwerp,[122] for a noble and discreet gentleman and their very faithful friend and servant, and for that (albeit he was well versed in the art of war) he seemed to them more apt unto things delicate than unto martial toils, they left him vicar general in their stead over all the governance of the realm of France and went on their way. Gautier accordingly addressed himself with both order and discretion to the office committed unto him, still conferring of everything with the queen and her daughter-in-law, whom, for all they were left under his custody and jurisdiction, he honoured none the less as his liege ladies and mistresses.

Now this Gautier was exceedingly101 goodly of his body, being maybe forty years old and as agreeable and well-mannered a gentleman as might be; and withal, he was the sprightliest and daintiest cavalier known in those days and he who went most adorned of his person. His countess was dead, leaving him two little children, a boy and a girl, without more, and it befell that, the King of France and his son being at the war aforesaid and Gautier using much at the court of the aforesaid ladies and speaking often with them of the affairs of the kingdom, the wife of the king's son cast her eyes on him and considering his person and his manners with very great affection, was secretly fired with a fervent love for him. Feeling herself young and lusty and knowing him wifeless, she doubted not but her desire might lightly be accomplished unto her and thinking nought hindered her thereof but shamefastness, she bethought herself altogether to put that away and discover to him her passion. Accordingly, being one day alone and it seeming to her time, she sent for him into her chamber, as though she would discourse with him of other matters.

The count, whose thought was far from that of the lady, betook himself to her without any delay and at her bidding, seated himself by her side on a couch; then, they being alone together, he twice asked her the occasion for which she had caused him come thither; but she made him no reply. At last, urged by love and grown all vermeil for shame, well nigh in tears and all trembling, with broken speech she thus began to say: 'Dearest and sweet friend and my lord, you may easily as a man of understanding apprehend how great is the frailty both of men and of women, and that more, for divers reasons, in one than in another; wherefore, at the hands of a just judge, the same sin in diverse kinds of qualities of persons should not in equity receive one same punishment. And who is there will deny that a poor man or a poor woman, whom it behoveth gain with their toil that which is needful for their livelihood, would, an they were stricken with Love's smart and followed after him, be far more blameworthy than a lady who is rich and idle and to whom nothing is lacking that can flatter her desires? Certes, I believe, no one. For which reason methinketh the things aforesaid [to wit, wealth and leisure and luxurious living] should furnish forth a very great measure of excuse on behalf of her who possesseth them, if, peradventure, she suffer herself lapse into loving, and the having made choice of a lover of worth and discretion should stand for the rest,[123] if she who loveth hath done that. These circumstances being both, to my seeming, in myself (beside several others which should move me to love, such as my youth and the absence of my husband), it behoveth now that they rise up in my behalf for the defence of my ardent love in your sight, wherein if they avail that which they should avail in the eyes of men of understanding, I pray you afford me counsel and succour in that which I shall ask of you. True is it, that availing not, for the absence of my husband, to withstand the pricks of the flesh nor the might of love-liking, the which are of such potency that they have erst many a time overcome and yet all days long overcome the strong102est men, to say nothing of weak women,—and enjoying the commodities and the leisures wherein you see me, I have suffered myself lapse into ensuing Love his pleasures and becoming enamoured; the which,—albeit, were it known, I acknowledge it would not be seemly, yet,—being and abiding hidden, I hold[124] well nigh nothing unseemly; more by token that Love hath been insomuch gracious to me that not only hath he not bereft me of due discernment in the choice of a lover, but hath lent me great plenty thereof[125] to that end, showing me yourself worthy to be loved of a lady such as I,—you whom, if my fancy beguile me not, I hold the goodliest, the most agreeable, the sprightliest and the most accomplished cavalier that may be found in all the realm of France; and even as I may say that I find myself without a husband, so likewise are you without a wife. Wherefore, I pray you, by the great love which I bear you, that you deny me not your love in return, but have compassion on my youth, the which, in very deed, consumeth for you, as ice before the fire.'

With these words her tears welled up in such abundance that, albeit she would fain have proffered him yet other prayers, she had no power to speak farther, but, bowing her face, as if overcome, she let herself fall, weeping, her head on the count's bosom. The latter, who was a very loyal gentleman, began with the gravest reproofs to rebuke so fond a passion and to repel the princess, who would fain have cast herself on his neck, avouching to her with oaths that he had liefer be torn limb from limb than consent unto such an offence against his lord's honour, whether in himself or in another. The lady, hearing this, forthright forgot her love and kindling into a furious rage, said, 'Felon knight that you are, shall I be this wise flouted by you of my desire? Now God forbid, since you would have me die, but I have you put to death or driven from the world!' So saying, she set her hands to her tresses and altogether disordered and tore them; then, rending her raiment at the breast, she fell to crying aloud and saying, 'Help! Help! The Count of Antwerp would do me violence.' The count, seeing this, misdoubting far more the courtiers' envy than his own conscience and fearful lest, by reason of this same envy, more credence should be given to the lady's malice than to his own innocence, started up and departing the chamber and the palace as quickliest he might, fled to his own house, where, without taking other counsel, he set his children on horseback and mounting himself to horse, made off with them, as most he might, towards Calais.

Meanwhile, many ran to the princess's clamour and seeing her in that plight and hearing [her account of] the cause of her outcry, not only gave credence to her words, but added[126] that the count's gallant bearing and debonair address had long been used by him to win to that end. Accordingly, they ran in a fury to his houses to arrest him, but finding him not, first plundered them all and after razed them to the103 foundations. The news, in its perverted shape, came presently to the army to the king and his son, who, sore incensed, doomed Gautier and his descendants to perpetual banishment, promising very great guerdons to whoso should deliver him to them alive or dead.

The count, woeful for that by his flight he had, innocent as he was, approved himself guilty, having, without making himself known or being recognized, reached Calais with his children, passed hastily over into England and betook himself in mean apparel to London, wherein ere he entered, with many words he lessoned his two little children, and especially in two things; first, that they should brook with patience the poor estate, whereunto, without their fault, fortune had brought them, together with himself,—and after, that with all wariness they should keep themselves from ever discovering unto any whence or whose children they were, as they held life dear. The boy, Louis by name, who was some nine and the girl, who was called Violante and was some seven years old, both, as far as their tender age comported, very well apprehended their father's lessons and showed it thereafter by deed. That this might be the better done,[127] he deemed it well to change their names; wherefore he named the boy Perrot and the girl Jeannette and all three, entering London, meanly clad, addressed themselves to go about asking alms, like as we see yonder French vagabonds do.

They being on this account one morning at a church door, it chanced that a certain great lady, the wife of one of the king's marshals of England, coming forth of the church, saw the count and his two little ones asking alms and questioned him whence he was and if the children were his, to which he replied that he was from Picardy and that, by reason of the misfeasance of a rakehelly elder son of his, it had behoved him depart the country with these two, who were his. The lady, who was pitiful, cast her eyes on the girl and being much taken with her, for that she was handsome, well-mannered and engaging, said, 'Honest man, an thou be content to leave thy daughter with me, I will willingly take her, for that she hath a good favour, and if she prove an honest woman, I will in due time marry her on such wise that she shall fare well.' This offer was very pleasing to the count, who promptly answered, 'Yes,' and with tears gave up the girl to the lady, urgently commending her to her care.

Having thus disposed of his daughter, well knowing to whom, he resolved to abide there no longer and accordingly, begging his way across the island, came, not without sore fatigue, as one who was unused to go afoot, into Wales. Here dwelt another of the king's marshals, who held great state and entertained a numerous household, and to his court both the count and his son whiles much resorted to get food. Certain sons of the said marshal and other gentlemen's children being there engaged in such boyish exercises as running and leaping, Perrot began to mingle with them and to do as dextrously as any of the rest, or more so, each feat that was practised among them. The marshal, chancing whiles to see this104 and being much taken with the manners and fashion of the boy, asked who he was and was told that he was the son of a poor man who came there bytimes for alms; whereupon he caused require him of the count, and the latter, who indeed besought God of nought else, freely resigned the boy to him, grievous as it was to him to be parted from him. Having thus provided his son and daughter, he determined to abide no longer in England and passing over into Ireland, made his way, as best he might, to Stamford, where he took service with a knight belonging to an earl of the country, doing all such things as pertain unto a lackey or a horseboy, and there, without being known of any, he abode a great while in unease and travail galore.

Meanwhile Violante, called Jeannette, went waxing with the gentlewoman in London in years and person and beauty and was in such favour both with the lady and her husband and with every other of the house and whoso else knew her, that it was a marvellous thing to see; nor was there any who noted her manners and fashions but avouched her worthy of every greatest good and honour. Wherefore the noble lady who had received her from her father, without having ever availed to learn who he was, otherwise than as she had heard from himself, was purposed to marry her honourably according to that condition whereof she deemed her. But God, who is a just observer of folk's deserts, knowing her to be of noble birth and to bear, without fault, the penalty of another's sin, ordained otherwise, and fain must we believe that He of His benignity permitted that which came to pass to the end that the gentle damsel might not fall into the hands of a man of low estate.

The noble lady with whom Jeannette dwelt had of her husband one only son, whom both she and his father loved with an exceeding love, both for that he was their child and that he deserved it by reason of his worth and virtues. He, being some six years older than Jeannette and seeing her exceeding fair and graceful, became so sore enamoured of her that he saw nought beyond her; yet, for that he deemed her to be of mean extraction, not only dared he not demand her of his father and mother to wife, but, fearing to be blamed for having set himself to love unworthily, he held his love, as most he might, hidden; wherefore it tormented him far more than if he had discovered it; and thus it came to pass that, for excess of chagrin, he fell sick and that grievously. Divers physicians were called in to medicine him, who, having noted one and another symptom of his case and being nevertheless unable to discover what ailed him, all with one accord despaired of his recovery; whereat the young man's father and mother suffered dolour and melancholy so great that greater might not be brooked, and many a time, with piteous prayers, they questioned him of the cause of his malady, whereto or sighs he gave for answer or replied that he felt himself all wasting away.

It chanced one day that, what while a doctor, young enough, but exceedingly deeply versed in science, sat by him and held him by the arm in that part where leaches use to seek the pulse, Jeannette, who, of regard for his mother, tended him solicitously, entered, on some occasion or another, the105 chamber where the young man lay. When the latter saw her, without word said or gesture made, he felt the amorous ardour redouble in his heart, wherefore his pulse began to beat stronglier than of wont; the which the leach incontinent noted and marvelling, abode still to see how long this should last. As soon as Jeannette left the chamber, the beating abated, wherefore it seemed to the physician he had gotten impartment of the cause of the young man's ailment, and after waiting awhile, he let call Jeannette to him, as he would question her of somewhat, still holding the sick man by the arm. She came to him incontinent and no sooner did she enter than the beating of the youth's pulse returned and she being gone again, ceased. Thereupon, it seeming to the physician that he had full enough assurance, he rose and taking the young man's father and mother apart, said to them, 'The healing of your son is not in the succour of physicians, but abideth in the hands of Jeannette, whom, as I have by sure signs manifestly recognized, the young man ardently loveth, albeit, for all I can see, she is unaware thereof. You know now what you have to do, if his life be dear to you.'

The gentleman and his lady, hearing this, were well pleased, inasmuch as some means was found for his recoverance, albeit it irked them sore that the means in question should be that whereof they misdoubted them, to wit, that they should give Jeannette to their son to wife. Accordingly, the physician being gone, they went into the sick man and the lady bespoke him thus: 'Son mine, I could never have believed that thou wouldst keep from me any desire of thine, especially seeing thyself pine away for lack thereof; for that thou shouldst have been and shouldst be assured that there is nought I can for thy contentment, were it even less than seemly, which I would not do as for myself. But, since thou hast e'en done this, God the Lord hath been more pitiful over thee than thou thyself and that thou mayst not die of this sickness, hath shown me the cause of thine ill, which is no otherwhat than excess of love for some damsel or other, whoever she may be; and this, indeed, thou needest not have thought shame to discover, for that thine age requireth it, and wert thou not enamoured, I should hold thee of very little account. Wherefore, my son, dissemble not with me, but in all security discover to me thine every desire and put away from thee the melancholy and the thought-taking which be upon thee and from which proceedeth this thy sickness and take comfort and be assured that there is nothing of that which thou mayst impose on me for thy satisfaction but I will do it to the best of my power, as she who loveth thee more than her life. Banish shamefastness and fearfulness and tell me if I can do aught to further thy passion; and if thou find me not diligent therein or if I bring it not to effect for thee, account me the cruellest mother that ever bore son.'

The young man, hearing his mother's words, was at first abashed, but presently, bethinking himself that none was better able than she to satisfy his wishes, he put away shamefastness and said thus to her: 'Madam, nothing hath wrought so effectually with me to keep my love hidden as my having noted of most folk that, once they are grown in106 years, they choose not to remember them of having themselves been young. But, since in this I find you reasonable, not only will I not deny that to be true which you say you have observed, but I will, to boot, discover to you of whom [I am enamoured], on condition that you will, to the best of your power, give effect to your promise; and thus may you have me whole again.' Whereto the lady (trusting overmuch in that which was not to come to pass for her on such wise as she deemed in herself) answered freely that he might in all assurance discover to her his every desire, for that she would without any delay address herself to contrive that he should have his pleasure. 'Madam,' then said the youth, 'the exceeding beauty and commendable fashions of our Jeannette and my unableness to make her even sensible, still less to move her to pity, of my love and the having never dared to discover it unto any have brought me whereas you see me; and if that which you have promised me come not, one way or another, to pass, you may be assured that my life will be brief.'

The lady, to whom it appeared more a time for comfort than for reproof, said, smilingly, 'Alack, my son, hast thou then for this suffered thyself to languish thus? Take comfort and leave me do, once thou shalt be recovered.' The youth, full of good hope, in a very short time showed signs of great amendment, whereas the lady, being much rejoiced, began to cast about how she might perform that which she had promised him. Accordingly, calling Jeannette to her one day, she asked her very civilly, as by way of a jest, if she had a lover; whereupon she waxed all red and answered, 'Madam, it concerneth not neither were it seemly in a poor damsel like myself, banished from house and home and abiding in others' service, to think of love.' Quoth the lady, 'An you have no lover, we mean to give you one, in whom you may rejoice and live merry and have more delight of your beauty, for it behoveth not that so handsome a girl as you are abide without a lover.' To this Jeannette made answer, 'Madam, you took me from my father's poverty and have reared me as a daughter, wherefore it behoveth me to do your every pleasure; but in this I will nowise comply with you, and therein methinketh I do well. If it please you give me a husband, him do I purpose to love, but none other; for that, since of the inheritance of my ancestors nought is left me save only honour, this latter I mean to keep and preserve as long as life shall endure to me.'

This speech seemed to the lady very contrary to that whereto she thought to come for the keeping of her promise to her son,—albeit, like a discreet woman as she was, she inwardly much commended the damsel therefor,—and she said, 'How now, Jeannette? If our lord the king, who is a young cavalier, as thou art a very fair damsel, would fain have some easance of thy love, wouldst thou deny it to him?' Whereto she answered forthright, 'The king might do me violence, but of my consent he should never avail to have aught of me save what was honourable.' The lady, seeing how she was minded, left parleying with her and bethought herself to put her to the proof; wherefore she told her son that, whenas he should be recovered, she would contrive to get107 her alone with him in a chamber, so he might make shift to have his pleasure of her, saying that it appeared to her unseemly that she should, procuress-wise, plead for her son and solicit her own maid.

With this the young man was nowise content and presently waxed grievously worse, which when his mother saw, she opened her mind to Jeannette, but, finding her more constant than ever, recounted what she had done to her husband, and he and she resolved of one accord, grievous though it seemed to them, to give her to him to wife, choosing rather to have their son alive with a wife unsorted to his quality than dead without any; and so, after much parley, they did; whereat Jeannette was exceeding content and with a devout heart rendered thanks to God, who had not forgotten her; but for all that she never avouched herself other than the daughter of a Picard. As for the young man, he presently recovered and celebrating his nuptials, the gladdest man alive, proceeded to lead a merry life with his bride.

Meanwhile, Perrot, who had been left in Wales with the King of England's marshal, waxed likewise in favour with his lord and grew up very goodly of his person and doughty as any man in the island, insomuch that neither in tourneying nor jousting nor in any other act of arms was there any in the land who could cope with him; wherefore he was everywhere known and famous under the name of Perrot the Picard. And even as God had not forgotten his sister, so on like wise He showed that He had him also in mind; for that a pestilential sickness, being come into those parts, carried off well nigh half the people thereof, besides that most part of those who survived fled for fear into other lands; wherefore the whole country appeared desert. In this mortality, the marshal his lord and his lady and only son, together with many others, brothers and nephews and kinsmen, all died, nor was any left of all his house save a daughter, just husband-ripe, and Perrot, with sundry other serving folk. The pestilence being somewhat abated, the young lady, with the approof and by the counsel of some few gentlemen of the country[128] left alive, took Perrot, for that he was a man of worth and prowess, to husband and made him lord of all that had fallen to her by inheritance; nor was it long ere the King of England, hearing the marshal to be dead and knowing the worth of Perrot the Picard, substituted him in the dead man's room and made him his marshal. This, in brief, is what came of the two innocent children of the Count of Antwerp, left by him for lost.

Eighteen years were now passed since the count's flight from Paris, when, as he abode in Ireland, having suffered many things in a very sorry way of life, there took him a desire to learn, as he might, what was come of his children. Wherefore, seeing himself altogether changed of favour from that which he was wont to be and feeling himself, for long exercise, grown more robust of his person than he had been when young and abiding in ease and idlesse, he took leave of him with whom he had so long abidden and came, poor108 and ill enough in case, to England. Thence he betook himself whereas he had left Perrot and found him a marshal and a great lord and saw him robust and goodly of person; the which was mighty pleasing unto him, but he would not make himself known to him till he should have learned how it was with Jeannette. Accordingly, he set out and stayed not till he came to London, where, cautiously enquiring of the lady with whom he had left his daughter and of her condition, he found Jeannette married to her son, which greatly rejoiced him and he counted all his past adversity a little thing, since he had found his children again alive and in good case.

Then, desirous of seeing Jeannette, he began beggarwise, to haunt the neighbourhood of her house, where one day Jamy Lamiens, (for so was Jeannette's husband called,) espying him and having compassion on him, for that he saw him old and poor, bade one of his servants bring him in and give him to eat for the love of God, which the man readily did. Now Jeannette had had several children by Jamy, whereof the eldest was no more than eight years old, and they were the handsomest and sprightliest children in the world. When they saw the count eat, they came one and all about him and began to caress him, as if, moved by some occult virtue, they divined him to be their grandfather. He, knowing them for his grandchildren, fell to fondling and making much of them, wherefore the children would not leave him, albeit he who had charge of their governance called them. Jeannette, hearing this, issued forth of a chamber therenigh and coming whereas the count was, chid them amain and threatened to beat them, an they did not what their governor willed. The children began to weep and say that they would fain abide with that honest man, who loved them better than their governor, whereat both the lady and the count laughed. Now the latter had risen, nowise as a father, but as a poor man, to do honour to his daughter, as to a mistress, and seeing her, felt a marvellous pleasure at his heart. But she nor then nor after knew him any whit, for that he was beyond measure changed from what he was used to be, being grown old and hoar and bearded and lean and swart, and appeared altogether another man than the count.

The lady then, seeing that the children were unwilling to leave him and wept, when she would have them go away, bade their governor let them be awhile and the children thus being with the good man, it chanced that Jamy's father returned and heard from their governor what had passed, whereupon quoth the marshal, who held Jeannette in despite, 'Let them be, God give them ill-luck! They do but hark back to that whence they sprang. They come by their mother of a vagabond and therefore it is no wonder if they are fain to herd with vagabonds.' The count heard these words and was mightily chagrined thereat; nevertheless, he shrugged his shoulders and put up with the affront, even as he had put up with many others. Jamy, hearing how the children had welcomed the honest man, to wit, the count, albeit it misliked him, nevertheless so loved them that, rather than see them weep, he commanded that, if the good man chose to abide there in any capacity, he should109 be received into his service. The count answered that he would gladly abide there, but he knew not to do aught other than tend horses, whereto he had been used all his lifetime. A horse was accordingly assigned to him and when he had cared for it, he busied himself with making sport for the children.

Whilst fortune handled the Count of Antwerp and his children on such wise as hath been set out, it befell that the King of France, after many truces made with the Germans, died and his son, whose wife was she through whom the count had been banished, was crowned in his place; and no sooner was the current truce expired than he again began a very fierce war. To his aid the King of England, as a new-made kinsman, despatched much people, under the commandment of Perrot his marshal and Jamy Lamiens, son of the other marshal, and with them went the good man, to wit, the count, who, without being recognized of any, abode a pretty while with the army in the guise of a horseboy, and there, like a man of mettle as he was, wrought good galore, more than was required of him, both with counsels and with deeds.

During the war, it came to pass that the Queen of France fell grievously sick and feeling herself nigh unto death, contrite for all her sins, confessed herself unto the Archbishop of Rouen, who was held of all a very holy and good man. Amongst her other sins, she related to him that which the Count of Antwerp had most wrongfully suffered through her; nor was she content to tell it to him alone, nay, but before many other men of worth she recounted all as it had passed, beseeching them so to do with the king that the count, an he were on life, or, if not, one of his children, should be restored to his estate; after which she lingered not long, but, departing this life, was honourably buried. Her confession, being reported to the king, moved him, after he had heaved divers sighs of regret for the wrong done to the nobleman, to let cry throughout all the army and in many other parts, that whoso should give him news of the Count of Antwerp or of either of his children should for each be wonder-well guerdoned of him, for that he held him, upon the queen's confession, innocent of that for which he had gone into exile and was minded to restore him to his first estate and more.

The count, in his guise of a horseboy, hearing this and being assured that it was the truth,[129] betook himself forthright to Jamy Lamiens and prayed him go with him to Perrot, for that he had a mind to discover to them that which the king went seeking. All three being then met together, quoth the count to Perrot, who had it already in mind to discover himself, 'Perrot, Jamy here hath thy sister to wife nor ever had any dowry with her; wherefore, that thy sister may not go undowered, I purpose that he and none other shall, by making thee known as the son of the Count of Antwerp, have this great reward that the king promiseth for thee and for Violante, thy sister and his wife, and myself, who am the Count of Antwerp and your father.' Perrot, hearing this and looking steadfastly upon him, presently knew him and cast himself, weeping, at his feet and embraced him, saying, 'Father mine, you are dearly110 welcome.' Jamy, hearing first what the count said and after seeing what Perrot did, was overcome at once with such wonderment and such gladness that he scarce knew what he should do. However, after awhile, giving credence to the former's speech and sore ashamed for the injurious words he had whiles used to the hostler-count, he let himself fall, weeping, at his feet and humbly besought him pardon of every past affront, the which the count, having raised him to his feet, graciously accorded him.

Then, after they had all three discoursed awhile of each one's various adventures and wept and rejoiced together amain, Perrot and Jamy would have reclad the count, who would on nowise suffer it, but willed that Jamy, having first assured himself of the promised guerdon, should, the more to shame the king, present him to the latter in that his then plight and in his groom's habit. Accordingly, Jamy, followed by the count and Perrot, presented himself before the king, and offered, provided he would guerdon him according to the proclamation made, to produce to him the count and his children. The king promptly let bring for all three a guerdon marvellous in Jamy's eyes and commanded that he should be free to carry it off, whenas he should in very deed produce the count and his children, as he promised. Jamy, then, turning himself about and putting forward the count his horseboy and Perrot, said, 'My lord, here be the father and the son; the daughter, who is my wife and who is not here, with God's aid you shall soon see.'

The king, hearing this, looked at the count and albeit he was sore changed from that which he was used to be, yet, after he had awhile considered him, he knew him and well nigh with tears in his eyes raised him—for that he was on his knees before him—to his feet and kissed and embraced him. Perrot, also, he graciously received and commanded that the count should incontinent be furnished anew with clothes and servants and horses and harness, according as his quality required, which was straightway done. Moreover, he entreated Jamy with exceeding honour and would fain know every particular of his[130] past adventures. Then, Jamy being about to receive the magnificent guerdons appointed him for having discovered the count and his children, the former said to him, 'Take these of the munificence of our lord the king and remember to tell thy father that thy children, his grandchildren and mine, are not by their mother born of a vagabond.' Jamy, accordingly, took the gifts and sent for his wife and mother to Paris, whither came also Perrot's wife; and there they all foregathered in the utmost joyance with the count, whom the king had reinstated in all his good and made greater than he ever was. Then all, with Gautier's leave, returned to their several homes and he until his death abode in Paris more worshipfully than ever."



Day the Second


Elisa having furnished her due with her pitiful story, Filomena the queen, who was tall and goodly of person and smiling and agreeable of aspect beyond any other of her sex, collecting herself, said, "Needs must the covenant with Dioneo be observed, wherefore, there remaining none other to tell than he and I, I will tell my story first, and he, for that he asked it as a favour, shall be the last to speak." So saying, she began thus, "There is a proverb oftentimes cited among the common folk to the effect that the deceiver abideth[131] at the feet of the deceived; the which meseemeth may by no reasoning be shown to be true, an it approve not itself by actual occurrences. Wherefore, whilst ensuing the appointed theme, it hath occurred to me, dearest ladies, to show you, at the same time, that this is true, even as it is said; nor should it mislike you to hear it, so you may know how to keep yourselves from deceivers.

There were once at Paris in an inn certain very considerable Italian merchants, who were come thither, according to their usance, some on one occasion and some on another, and having one evening among others supped all together merrily, they fell to devising of divers matters, and passing from one discourse to another, they came at last to speak of their wives, whom they had left at home, and one said jestingly, 'I know not how mine doth; but this I know well, that, whenas there cometh to my hand here any lass that pleaseth me, I leave on one side the love I bear my wife and take of the other such pleasure as I may.' 'And I,' quoth another, 'do likewise, for that if I believe that my wife pusheth her fortunes [in my absence,] she doth it, and if I believe it not, still she doth it; wherefore tit for tat be it; an ass still getteth as good as he giveth.'[132] A third, following on, came well nigh to the same conclusion, and in brief all seemed agreed upon this point, that the wives they left behind had no mind to lose time in112 their husbands' absence. One only, who hight Bernabo Lomellini of Genoa, maintained the contrary, avouching that he, by special grace of God, had a lady to wife who was belike the most accomplished woman of all Italy in all those qualities which a lady, nay, even (in great part) in those which a knight or an esquire, should have; for that she was fair of favour and yet in her first youth and adroit and robust of her person; nor was there aught that pertaineth unto a woman, such as works of broidery in silk and the like, but she did it better than any other of her sex. Moreover, said he, there was no sewer, or in other words, no serving-man, alive who served better or more deftly at a nobleman's table than did she, for that she was very well bred and exceeding wise and discreet. He after went on to extol her as knowing better how to ride a horse and fly a hawk, to read and write and cast a reckoning than if she were a merchant; and thence, after many other commendations, coming to that whereof it had been discoursed among them, he avouched with an oath that there could be found no honester nor chaster woman than she; wherefore he firmly believed that, should he abide half a score years, or even always, from home, she would never incline to the least levity with another man. Among the merchants who discoursed thus was a young man called Ambrogiuolo of Piacenza, who fell to making the greatest mock in the world of this last commendation bestowed by Bernabo upon his wife and asked him scoffingly if the emperor had granted him that privilege over and above all other men. Bernabo, some little nettled, replied that not the emperor, but God, who could somewhat more than the emperor, had vouchsafed him the favour in question. Whereupon quoth Ambrogiuolo, 'Bernabo, I doubt not a whit but that thou thinkest to say sooth; but meseemeth thou hast paid little regard to the nature of things; for that, hadst thou taken heed thereunto, I deem thee not so dull of wit but thou wouldst have noted therein certain matters which had made thee speak more circumspectly on this subject. And that thou mayst not think that we, who have spoken much at large of our wives, believe that we have wives other or otherwise made than thine, but mayst see that we spoke thus, moved by natural perception, I will e'en reason with thee a little on this matter. I have always understood man to be the noblest animal created of God among mortals, and after him, woman; but man, as is commonly believed and as is seen by works, is the more perfect and having more perfection, must without fail have more of firmness and constancy, for that women universally are more changeable; the reason whereof might be shown by many natural arguments, which for the present I purpose to leave be. If then man be of more stability and yet cannot keep himself, let alone from complying with a woman who soliciteth him, but even from desiring one who pleaseth him, nay more, from doing what he can, so he may avail to be with her,—and if this betide him not once a month, but a thousand times a day,—what canst thou expect a woman, naturally unstable, to avail against the prayers, the blandishments, the gifts and a thousand other means which an adroit man, who loveth her, will use? Thinkest thou113 she can hold out? Certes, how much soever thou mayst affirm it, I believe not that thou believest it; and thou thyself sayst that thy wife is a woman and that she is of flesh and blood, as are other women. If this be so, those same desires must be hers and the same powers that are in other women to resist these natural appetites; wherefore, however honest she be, it is possible she may do that which other women do; and nothing that is possible she be so peremptorily denied nor the contrary thereof affirmed with such rigour as thou dost.' To which Bernabo made answer, saying, 'I am a merchant, and not a philosopher, and as a merchant I will answer; and I say that I acknowledge that what thou sayst may happen to foolish women in whom there is no shame; but those who are discreet are so careful of their honour that for the guarding thereof they become stronger than men, who reck not of this; and of those thus fashioned is my wife.' 'Indeed,' rejoined Ambrogiuolo, 'if, for every time they occupy themselves with toys of this kind, there sprouted from their foreheads a horn to bear witness of that which they have done, there be few, I believe, who would incline thereto; but, far from the horn sprouting, there appeareth neither trace nor token thereof in those who are discreet, and shame and soil of honour consist not but in things discovered; wherefore, whenas they may secretly, they do it, or, if they forebear, it is for stupidity. And have thou this for certain that she alone is chaste, who hath either never been solicited of any or who, having herself solicited, hath not been hearkened. And although I know by natural and true reasons that it is e'en as I say, yet should I not speak thereof with so full an assurance, had I not many a time and with many women made essay thereof. And this I tell thee, that, were I near this most sanctified wife of thine, I warrant me I would in brief space of time bring her to that which I have already gotten of other women.' Whereupon quoth Bernabo, 'Disputing with words might be prolonged without end; thou wouldst say and I should say, and in the end it would all amount to nothing. But, since thou wilt have it that all women are so compliant and that thine address is such, I am content, so I may certify thee of my wife's honesty, to have my head cut off, and thou canst anywise avail to bring her to do thy pleasure in aught of the kind; and if thou fail thereof, I will have thee lose no otherwhat than a thousand gold florins.' 'Bernabo,' replied Ambrogiuolo, who was now grown heated over the dispute, 'I know not what I should do with thy blood, if I won the wager; but, an thou have a mind to see proof of that which I have advanced, do thou stake five thousand gold florins of thy monies, which should be less dear to thee than thy head, against a thousand of mine, and whereas thou settest no limit [of time,] I will e'en bind myself to go to Genoa and within three months from the day of my departure hence to have done my will of thy wife and to bring back with me, in proof thereof, sundry of her most precious things and such and so many tokens that thou shalt thyself confess it to be truth, so verily thou wilt pledge me thy faith not to come to Genoa within that term nor write her aught of the matter.' Bernabo said that it liked him well and114 albeit the other merchants endeavoured to hinder the affair, foreseeing that sore mischief might come thereof, the two merchants' minds were so inflamed that, in despite of the rest, they bound themselves one to other by express writings under their hands. This done, Bernabo abode behind, whilst Ambrogiuolo, as quickliest he might, betook himself to Genoa. There he abode some days and informing himself with the utmost precaution of the name of the street where the lady dwelt and of her manner of life, understood of her that and more than that which he had heard of her from Bernabo, wherefore himseemed he was come on a fool's errand. However, he presently clapped up an acquaintance with a poor woman, who was much about the house and whose great well-wisher the lady was, and availing not to induce her to aught else, he debauched her with money and prevailed with her to bring him, in a chest wroughten after a fashion of his own, not only into the house, but into the gentlewoman's very bedchamber, where, according to the ordinance given her of him, the good woman commended it to her care for some days, as if she had a mind to go somewhither. The chest, then being left in the chamber and the night come, Ambrogiuolo, what time he judged the lady to be asleep, opened the chest with certain engines of his and came softly out into the chamber, where there was a light burning, with whose aid he proceeded to observe the ordinance of the place, the paintings and every other notable thing that was therein and fixed them in his memory. Then, drawing near the bed and perceiving that the lady and a little girl, who was with her, were fast asleep, he softly altogether uncovered the former and found that she was as fair, naked, as clad, but saw no sign about her that he might carry away, save one, to wit, a mole which she had under the left pap and about which were sundry little hairs as red as gold. This noted he covered her softly up again, albeit, seeing her so fair, he was tempted to adventure his life and lay himself by her side; however, for that he had heard her to be so obdurate and uncomplying in matters of this kind, he hazarded not himself, but, abiding at his leisure in the chamber the most part of the night, took from one of her coffers a purse and a night-rail, together with sundry rings and girdles, and laying them all in his chest, returned thither himself and shut himself up therein as before; and on this wise he did two nights, without the lady being ware of aught. On the third day the good woman came back for the chest, according to the given ordinance, and carried it off whence she had taken it, whereupon Ambrogiuolo came out and having rewarded her according to promise, returned, as quickliest he might, with the things aforesaid, to Paris, where he arrived before the term appointed. There he summoned the merchants who had been present at the dispute and the laying of the wager and declared, in Bernabo's presence, that he had won the wager laid between them, for that he had accomplished that whereof he had vaunted himself; and to prove this to be true, he first described the fashion of the chamber and the paintings thereof and after showed the things he had brought with him thence, avouching that he had them of herself. Bernabo confessed the chamber to be as he had said and owned, moreover, that115 he recognized the things in question as being in truth his wife's; but said that he might have learned from one of the servants of the house the fashion of the chamber and have gotten the things in like manner; wherefore, an he had nought else to say, himseemed not that this should suffice to prove him to have won. Whereupon quoth Ambrogiuolo, 'In sooth this should suffice, but, since thou wilt have me say more, I will say it. I tell thee that Madam Ginevra thy wife hath under her left pap a pretty big mole, about which are maybe half a dozen little hairs as red as gold.' When Bernabo heard this, it was as if he had gotten a knife-thrust in the heart, such anguish did he feel, and though he had said not a word, his countenance, being all changed, gave very manifest token that what Ambrogiuolo said was true. Then, after awhile, 'Gentlemen,' quoth he, 'that which Ambrogiuolo saith is true; wherefore, he having won, let him come whenassoever it pleaseth him and he shall be paid.' Accordingly, on the ensuing day Ambrogiuolo was paid in full and Bernabo, departing Paris, betook himself to Genoa with fell intent against the lady. When he drew near the city, he would not enter therein, but lighted down a good score miles away at a country house of his and despatched one of his servants, in whom he much trusted, to Genoa with two horses and letters under his hand, advising his wife that he had returned and bidding her come to him; and he privily charged the man, whenas he should be with the lady in such place as should seem best to him, to put her to death without pity and return to him. The servant accordingly repaired to Genoa and delivering the letters and doing his errand, was received with great rejoicing by the lady, who on the morrow took horse with him and set out for their country house. As they fared on together, discoursing of one thing and another, they came to a very deep and lonely valley, beset with high rocks and trees, which seeming to the servant a place wherein he might, with assurance for himself, do his lord's commandment, he pulled out his knife and taking the lady by the arm, said, 'Madam, commend your soul to God, for needs must you die, without faring farther.' The lady, seeing the knife and hearing these words, was all dismayed and said, 'Mercy, for God's sake! Ere thou slay me, tell me wherein I have offended thee, that thou wouldst put me to death.' 'Madam,' answered the man, 'me you have nowise offended; but wherein you have offended your husband I know not, save that he hath commanded me slay you by the way, without having any pity upon you, threatening me, an I did it not, to have me hanged by the neck. You know well how much I am beholden to him and how I may not gainsay him in aught that he may impose upon me; God knoweth it irketh me for you, but I can no otherwise.' Whereupon quoth the lady, weeping, 'Alack, for God's sake, consent not to become the murderer of one who hath never wronged thee, to serve another! God who knoweth all knoweth that I never did aught for which I should receive such a recompense from my husband. But let that be; thou mayst, an thou wilt, at once content God and thy master and me, on this wise; to wit, that thou take these my clothes and give me but thy doublet and a hood116 and with the former return to my lord and thine and tell him that thou hast slain me; and I swear to thee, by that life which thou wilt have bestowed on me, that I will remove hence and get me gone into a country whence never shall any news of me win either to him or to thee or into these parts.' The servant, who was loath to slay her, was lightly moved to compassion; wherefore he took her clothes and give her a sorry doublet of his and a hood, leaving her sundry monies she had with her. Then praying her depart the country, he left her in the valley and afoot and betook himself to his master, to whom he avouched that not only was his commandment accomplished, but that he had left the lady's dead body among a pack of wolves, and Bernabo presently returned to Genoa, where the thing becoming known, he was much blamed. As for the lady, she abode alone and disconsolate till nightfall, when she disguised herself as most she might and repaired to a village hard by, where, having gotten from an old woman that which she needed, she fitted the doublet to her shape and shortening it, made a pair of linen breeches of her shift; then, having cut her hair and altogether transformed herself in the guise of a sailor, she betook herself to the sea-shore, where, as chance would have it, she found a Catalan gentleman, by name Senor Encararch, who had landed at Alba from a ship he had in the offing, to refresh himself at a spring there. With him she entered into parley and engaging with him as a servant, embarked on board the ship, under the name of Sicurano da Finale. There, being furnished by the gentleman with better clothes, she proceeded to serve him so well and so aptly that she became in the utmost favour with him. No great while after it befell that the Catalan made a voyage to Alexandria with a lading of his and carrying thither certain peregrine falcons for the Soldan, presented them to him. The Soldan, having once and again entertained him at meat and noting with approof the fashions of Sicurano, who still went serving him, begged him[133] of his master, who yielded him to him, although it irked him to do it, and Sicurano, in a little while, by his good behaviour, gained the love and favour of the Soldan, even as he had gained that of the Catalan. Wherefore, in process of time, it befell that,—the time coming for a great assemblage, in the guise of a fair, of merchants, both Christian and Saracen, which was wont at a certain season of the year to be held in Acre, a town under the seignory of the Soldan, and to which, in order that the merchants and their merchandise might rest secure, the latter was still used to despatch, besides other his officers, some one of his chief men, with troops, to look to the guard,—he bethought himself to send Sicurano, who was by this well versed in the language of the country, on this service; and so he did. Sicurano accordingly came to Acre as governor and captain of the guard of the merchants and their merchandise and there well and diligently doing that which pertained to his office and going round looking about him, saw many merchants there, Sicilians and Pisans117 and Genoese and Venetians and other Italians, with whom he was fain to make acquaintance, in remembrance of his country. It befell, one time amongst others, that, having lighted down at the shop of certain Venetian merchants, he espied among other trinkets, a purse and a girdle, which he straightway knew for having been his and marvelled thereat; but, without making any sign, he carelessly asked to whom they pertained and if they were for sale. Now Ambrogiuolo of Piacenza was come thither with much merchandise on board a Venetian ship and hearing the captain of the guard ask whose the trinkets were, came forward and said, laughing, 'Sir, the things are mine and I do not sell them; but, if they please you, I will gladly give them to you.' Sicurano, seeing him laugh, misdoubted he had recognized him by some gesture of his; but yet, keeping a steady countenance, he said, 'Belike thou laughest to see me, a soldier, go questioning of these women's toys?' 'Sir,' answered Ambrogiuolo, 'I laugh not at that; nay, but at the way I came by them.' 'Marry, then,' said Sicurano, 'an it be not unspeakable, tell me how thou gottest them, so God give thee good luck.' Quoth Ambrogiuolo, 'Sir, a gentlewoman of Genoa, hight Madam Ginevra, wife of Bernabo Lomellini, gave me these things, with certain others, one night that I lay with her, and prayed me keep them for the love of her. Now I laugh for that I mind me of the simplicity of Bernabo, who was fool enough to lay five thousand florins to one that I would not bring his wife to do my pleasure; the which I did and won the wager; whereupon he, who should rather have punished himself for his stupidity than her for doing that which all women do, returned from Paris to Genoa and there, by what I have since heard, caused her put to death.' Sicurano, hearing this, understood forthwith what was the cause of Bernabo's anger against his wife[134] and manifestly perceiving this fellow to have been the occasion of all her ills, determined not to let him go unpunished therefor. Accordingly he feigned to be greatly diverted with the story and artfully clapped up a strait acquaintance with him, insomuch that, the fair being ended, Ambrogiuolo, at his instance, accompanied him, with all his good, to Alexandria. Here Sicurano let build him a warehouse and lodged in his hands store of his own monies; and Ambrogiuolo, foreseeing great advantage to himself, willingly took up his abode there. Meanwhile, Sicurano, careful to make Bernabo clear of his[135] innocence, rested not till, by means of certain great Genoese merchants who were then in Alexandria, he had, on some plausible occasion of his[136] own devising, caused him come thither, where finding him in poor enough case, he had him privily entertained by a friend of his[137] against it should seem to him[138] time to do that which he purposed. Now he had already made Ambrogiuolo recount his story before the Soldan for the latter's diversion; but118 seeing Bernabo there and thinking there was no need to use farther delay in the matter, he took occasion to procure the Soldan to have Ambrogiuolo and Bernabo brought before him and in the latter's presence, to extort from the former, by dint of severity, an it might not easily be done [by other means,] the truth of that whereof he vaunted himself concerning Bernabo's wife. Accordingly, they both being come, the Soldan, in the presence of many, with a stern countenance commanded Ambrogiuolo to tell the truth how he had won of Bernabo the five thousand gold florins; and Sicurano himself, in whom he most trusted, with a yet angrier aspect, threatened him with the most grievous torments, an he told it not; whereupon Ambrogiuolo, affrighted on one side and another and in a measure constrained, in the presence of Bernabo and many others, plainly related everything, even as it passed, expecting no worse punishment therefor than the restitution of the five thousand gold florins and of the stolen trinkets. He having spoken, Sicurano, as he were the Soldan's minister in the matter, turned to Bernabo and said to him, 'And thou, what didst thou to thy lady for this lie?' Whereto Bernabo replied, 'Overcome with wrath for the loss of my money and with resentment for the shame which meseemed I had gotten from my wife, I caused a servant of mine put her to death, and according to that which he reported to me, she was straightway devoured by a multitude of wolves,' These things said in the presence of the Soldan and all heard and apprehended of him, albeit he knew not yet to what end Sicurano, who had sought and ordered this, would fain come, the latter said to him, 'My lord, you may very clearly see how much reason yonder poor lady had to vaunt herself of her gallant and her husband, for that the former at once bereaved her of honour, marring her fair fame with lies, and despoiled her husband, whilst the latter more credulous of others' falsehoods than of the truth which he might by long experience have known, caused her to be slain and eaten of wolves; and moreover, such is the goodwill and the love borne her by the one and the other that, having long abidden with her, neither of them knoweth her. But that you may the better apprehend that which each of these hath deserved, I will,—so but you vouchsafe me, of special favour to punish the deceiver and pardon the dupe,—e'en cause her come hither into your and their presence.' The Soldan, disposed in the matter altogether to comply with Sicurano's wishes, answered that he would well and bade him produce the lady; whereat Bernabo marvelled exceedingly, for that he firmly believed her to be dead, whilst Ambrogiuolo, now divining his danger, began to be in fear of worse than paying of monies and knew not whether more to hope or to fear from the coming of the lady, but awaited her appearance with the utmost amazement. The Soldan, then, having accorded Sicurano his wish, the latter threw himself, weeping, on his knees before him and putting off, as it were at one and the same time, his manly voice and masculine demeanour, said, 'My lord, I am the wretched misfortunate Ginevra, who have these six years gone wandering in man's disguise about the world, having been foully and wickedly aspersed by this traitor Am119brogiuolo and given by yonder cruel and unjust man to one of his servants to be slain and eaten of wolves.' Then, tearing open the fore part of her clothes and showing her breast, she discovered herself to the Soldan and all else who were present and after, turning to Ambrogiuolo, indignantly demanded of him when he had ever lain with her, according as he had aforetime boasted; but he, now knowing her and fallen well nigh dumb for shame, said nothing. The Soldan, who had always held her a man, seeing and hearing this, fell into such a wonderment that he more than once misdoubted that which he saw and heard to be rather a dream than true. However, after his amazement had abated, apprehending the truth of the matter, he lauded to the utmost the life and fashions of Ginevra, till then called Sicurano, and extolled her constancy and virtue; and letting bring her very sumptuous woman's apparel and women to attend her, he pardoned Bernabo, in accordance with her request, the death he had merited, whilst the latter, recognizing her, cast himself at her feet, weeping and craving forgiveness, which she, ill worthy as he was thereof, graciously accorded him and raising him to his feet, embraced him tenderly, as her husband. Then the Soldan commanded that Ambrogiuolo should incontinent be bound to a stake and smeared with honey and exposed to the sun in some high place of the city, nor should ever be loosed thence till such time as he should fall of himself; and so was it done. After this he commanded that all that had belonged to him should be given to the lady, the which was not so little but that it outvalued ten thousand doubloons. Moreover, he let make a very goodly banquet, wherein he entertained Bernabo with honour, as Madam Ginevra's husband, and herself as a very valiant lady and gave her, in jewels and vessels of gold and silver and monies, that which amounted to better[139] than other ten thousand doubloons. Then, the banquet over, he caused equip them a ship and gave them leave to return at their pleasure to Genoa, whither accordingly they returned with great joyance and exceeding rich; and there they were received with the utmost honour, especially Madam Ginevra, who was of all believed to be dead and who, while she lived, was still reputed of great worth and virtue. As for Ambrogiuolo, being that same day bounded to the stake and anointed with honey, he was, to his exceeding torment, not only slain, but devoured, of the flies and wasps and gadflies, wherewith that country aboundeth, even to the bones, which latter, waxed white and hanging by the sinews, being left unremoved, long bore witness of his villainy to all who saw them. And on this wise did the deceiver abide at the feet of the deceived."



Day the Second


Each of the honourable company highly commended for goodly the story told by their queen, especially Dioneo, with whom alone for that present day it now rested to tell, and who, after many praises bestowed upon the preceding tale, said, "Fair ladies, one part of the queen's story hath caused me change counsel of telling you one that was in my mind, and determine to tell you another,—and that is the stupidity of Bernabo (albeit good betided him thereof) and of all others who give themselves to believe that which he made a show of believing and who, to wit, whilst going about the world, diverting themselves now with this woman and now with that, imagine that the ladies left at home abide with their hands in their girdles, as if we knew not, we who are born and reared among the latter, unto what they are fain. In telling you this story, I shall at once show you how great is the folly of these folk and how greater yet is that of those who, deeming themselves more potent than nature herself, think by dint of sophistical inventions[140] to avail unto that which is beyond their power and study to bring others to that which they themselves are, whenas the complexion of those on whom they practise brooketh it not.

There was, then, in Pisa a judge, by name Messer Ricciardo di Chinzica, more gifted with wit than with bodily strength, who, thinking belike to satisfy a wife by the same means which served him to despatch his studies and being very rich, sought with no little diligence to have a fair and young lady to wife; whereas, had he but known to counsel himself as he counselled others, he should have shunned both the one and the other. The thing came to pass according to his wish, for Messer Lotto Gualandi gave him to wife a daughter of his, Bartolomea by name, one of the fairest and handsomest young ladies of Pisa, albeit there be few there that are not very lizards to look upon. The judge accordingly brought her home with the utmost pomp and having held a magnificent wedding, made shift the first night to hand her one venue for the consummation of the marriage, but came within an ace of making a stalemate of it, whereafter, lean and dry and scant of wind as he was, it behoved him on the morrow bring himself back to life with malmsey and restorative confections and other remedies. Thenceforward, being now a better judge of his own powers than he was, he fell to teaching his wife a calendar fit for children learning to read and belike made afore121time at Ravenna,[141] for that, according to what he feigned to her, there was no day in the year but was sacred not to one saint only, but to many, in reverence of whom he showed by divers reasons that man and wife should abstain from carnal conversation; and to these be added, to boot, fast days and Emberdays and the vigils of the Apostles and of a thousand other saints and Fridays and Saturdays and Lord's Day and all Lent and certain seasons of the moon and store of other exceptions, conceiving belike that it behoved to keep holiday with women in bed like as he did bytimes whilst pleading in the courts of civil law. This fashion (to the no small chagrin of the lady, whom he handled maybe once a month, and hardly that) he followed a great while, still keeping strait watch over her, lest peradventure some other should teach her to know working-days, even as he had taught her holidays. Things standing thus, it chanced that, the heat being great and Messer Ricciardo having a mind to go a-pleasuring to a very fair country-seat he had, near Monte Nero, and there abide some days to take the air, he betook himself thither, carrying with him his fair lady. There sojourning, to give her some diversion, he caused one day fish and they went out to sea in two boats, he in one with the fishermen, and she in another with other ladies. The sport luring them on, they drifted some miles out to sea, well nigh without perceiving it, and whilst they were intent upon their diversion, there came up of a sudden a galliot belonging to Paganino da Mare, a famous corsair of those days. The latter, espying the boats, made for them, nor could they flee so fast but he overtook that in which were the women and seeing therein the judge's fair lady, he carried her aboard the galliot, in full sight of Messer Ricciardo, who was now come to land, and made off without recking of aught else. When my lord judge, who was so jealous that he misdoubted of the very air, saw this, it booteth not to ask if he was chagrined; and in vain, both at Pisa and otherwhere, did he complain of the villainy of the corsairs, for that he knew not who had taken his wife from him nor whither he had carried her. As for Paganino, finding her so fair, he deemed himself in luck and having no wife, resolved to keep her for himself. Accordingly, seeing her weeping sore, he studied to comfort her with soft words till nightfall, when, his calendar having dropped from his girdle and saints' days and holidays gone clean out of his head, he fell to comforting her with deeds, himseeming that words had availed little by day; and after such a fashion did he console her that, ere they came to Monaco, the judge and his ordinances had altogether escaped her mind and she began to lead the merriest of lives with Paganino. The latter carried her to Monaco and there, over and above the consolations with which he plied her night and day, he entreated her honourably as his wife. After awhile it came to Messer Ricciardo's ears where his wife was and he, being possessed with the most ardent desire to have her again and bethinking himself that none other might thoroughly suffice122 to do what was needful to that end, resolved to go thither himself, determined to spend any quantity of money for her ransom. Accordingly he set out by sea and coming to Monaco, there both saw and was seen of the lady, who told it to Paganino that same evening and acquainted him with her intent. Next morning Messer Ricciardo, seeing Paganino, accosted him and quickly clapped up a great familiarity and friendship with him, whilst the other feigned not to know him and waited to see at what he aimed. Accordingly, whenas it seemed to him time, Messer Ricciardo discovered to him, as best and most civilly he knew, the occasion of his coming and prayed him take what he pleased and restore him the lady. To which Paganino made answer with a cheerful countenance, 'Sir, you are welcome, and to answer you briefly, I say thus; it is true I have a young lady in my house, if she be your wife or another's I know not, for that I know you not nor indeed her, save in so much as she hath abidden awhile with me. If you be, as you say, her husband, I will, since you seem to me a civil gentleman, carry you to her and I am assured that she will know you right well. If she say it is as you avouch and be willing to go with you, you shall, for the sake of your civility, give me what you yourself will to her ransom; but, an it be not so, you would do ill to seek to take her from me, for that I am a young man and can entertain a woman as well as another, and especially such an one as she, who is the most pleasing I ever saw.' Quoth Messer Ricciardo, 'For certain she is my wife, an thou bring me where she is, thou shalt soon see it; for she will incontinent throw herself on my neck; wherefore I ask no better than that it be as thou proposest.' 'Then,' said Paganino, 'let us be going.' Accordingly they betook themselves to the corsair's house, where he brought the judge into a saloon of his and let call the lady, who issued forth of a chamber, all dressed and tired, and came whereas they were, but accosted Messer Ricciardo no otherwise than as she would any other stranger who might have come home with Paganino. The judge, who looked to have been received by her with the utmost joy, marvelled sore at this and fell a-saying in himself, 'Belike the chagrin and long grief I have suffered, since I lost her, have so changed me that she knoweth me not.' Wherefore he said to her, 'Wife, it hath cost me dear to carry thee a-fishing, for that never was grief felt like that which I have suffered since I lost thee, and now meseemeth thou knowest me not, so distantly dost thou greet me. Seest thou not that I am thine own Messer Ricciardo, come hither to pay that which this gentleman, in whose house we are, shall require to thy ransom and to carry thee away? And he, of his favour, restoreth thee to me for what I will.' The lady turned to him and said, smiling somewhat, 'Speak you to me, sir? Look you mistake me not, for, for my part, I mind me not ever to have seen you.' Quoth Ricciardo, 'Look what thou sayest; consider me well; an thou wilt but recollect thyself, thou wilt see that I am thine own Ricciardo di Chinzica.' 'Sir,' answered the lady, 'you will pardon me; belike it is not so seemly a thing as you imagine for me to look much on you. Nevertheless I have seen enough of you to know that I never before set eyes on you.' Ricciardo,123 concluding that she did this for fear of Paganino and chose not to confess to knowing him in the latter's presence, besought him of his favour that he might speak with her in a room alone. Paganino replied that he would well, so but he would not kiss her against her will, and bade the lady go with him into a chamber and there hear what he had to say and answer him as it should please her. Accordingly the lady and Messer Ricciardo went into a room apart and as soon as they were seated, the latter began to say, 'Alack, heart of my body, sweet my soul and my hope, knowest thou not thy Ricciardo, who loveth thee more than himself? How can this be? Am I so changed? Prithee, fair mine eye, do but look on me a little.' The lady began to laugh and without letting him say more, replied, 'You may be assured that I am not so scatterbrained but that I know well enough you are Messer Ricciardo di Chinzica, my husband; but, what time I was with you, you showed that you knew me very ill, for that you should have had the sense to see that I was young and lusty and gamesome and should consequently have known that which behoveth unto young ladies, over and above clothes and meat, albeit for shamefastness they name it not; the which how you performed, you know. If the study of the laws was more agreeable to you than your wife, you should not have taken her, albeit it never appeared to me that you were a judge; nay, you seemed to me rather a common crier of saints' days and sacraments and fasts and vigils, so well you knew them. And I tell you this, that, had you suffered the husbandmen who till your lands keep as many holidays as you allowed him who had the tilling of my poor little field, you would never have reaped the least grain of corn. However, as God, having compassion on my youth, hath willed it, I have happened on yonder man, with whom I abide in this chamber, wherein it is unknown what manner of thing is a holiday (I speak of those holidays which you, more assiduous in the service of God than in that of the ladies, did so diligently celebrate) nor ever yet entered in at this door Saturday nor Friday nor vigil nor Emberday nor Lent, that is so long; nay, here swink we day and night and thump our wool; and this very night after matinsong, I know right well how the thing went, once he was up. Wherefore I mean to abide with him and work; whilst I am young, and leave saints' days and jubilees and fasts for my keeping when I am old; so get you gone about your business as quickliest you may, good luck go with you, and keep as many holidays as you please, without me.' Messer Ricciardo, hearing these words, was distressed beyond endurance and said, whenas he saw she had made an end of speaking. 'Alack, sweet my soul, what is this thou sayest? Hast thou no regard for thy kinsfolk's honour and thine own? Wilt thou rather abide here for this man's whore and in mortal sin than at Pisa as my wife? He, when he is weary of thee, will turn thee away to thine own exceeding reproach, whilst I will still hold thee dear and still (e'en though I willed it not) thou shalt be mistress of my house. Wilt thou for the sake of a lewd and disorderly appetite, forsake thine honour and me, who love thee more than my life? For God's sake, dear my hope, speak no124 more thus, but consent to come with me; henceforth, since I know thy desire, I will enforce myself [to content it;] wherefore, sweet my treasure, change counsel and come away with me, who have never known weal since thou wast taken from me.' Whereto answered the lady, 'I have no mind that any, now that it availeth not, should be more tender of my honour than I myself; would my kinsfolk had had regard thereto, whenas they gave me to you! But, as they had then no care for my honour, I am under no present concern to be careful of theirs; and if I am herein mortar[142] sin, I shall abide though it be in pestle[142] sin. And let me tell you that here meseemeth I am Paganino's wife, whereas at Pisa meseemed I was your whore, seeing that there, by season of the moon and quadratures of geometry, needs must be planets concur to couple betwixt you and me, whereas here Paganino holdeth me all night in his arms and straineth me and biteth me, and how he serveth me, let God tell you for me. You say forsooth you will enforce yourself; to what? To do it in three casts and cause it stand by dint of cudgelling? I warrant me you are grown a doughty cavalier since I saw you last! Begone and enforce yourself to live, for methinketh indeed you do but sojourn here below upon sufferance, so peaked and scant o' wind you show to me. And yet more I tell you, that, should he leave me (albeit meseemeth he is nowise inclined thereto, so I choose to stay,) I purpose not therefor ever to return to you, of whom squeeze you as I might, there were no making a porringer of sauce; for that I abode with you once to my grievous hurt and loss, wherefore in such a case I should seek my vantage elsewhere. Nay, once again I tell you, here be neither saints' days nor vigils; wherefore here I mean to abide; so get you gone in God's name as quickliest you may, or I will cry out that you would fain force me.' Messer Ricciardo, seeing himself in ill case and now recognizing his folly in taking a young wife, whenas he was himself forspent, went forth the chamber tristful and woebegone, and bespoke Paganino with many words, that skilled not a jot. Ultimately, leaving the lady, he returned to Pisa, without having accomplished aught, and there for chagrin fell into such dotage that, as he went about Pisa, to whoso greeted him or asked him of anywhat, he answered nought but 'The ill hole[143] will have no holidays;'[144] and there, no great while after, he died. Paganino, hearing this and knowing the love the lady bore himself, espoused her to his lawful wife and thereafter, without ever observing saints' day or vigil or keeping Lent, they wrought what while their legs would carry them and led a jolly life of it. Wherefore, dear my ladies, meseemeth Bernabo, in125 his dispute with Ambrogiuolo, rode the she-goat down the steep."[145]

This story gave such occasion for laughter to all the company that there was none whose jaws ached not therefor, and all the ladies avouched with one accord that Dioneo spoke sooth and that Bernabo had been an ass. But, after the story was ended and the laughter abated, the queen, observing that the hour was now late and that all had told and seeing that the end of her seignory was come, according to the ordinance commenced, took the wreath from her own head and set it on that of Neifile, saying, with a blithe aspect, "Henceforth, companion dear, be thine the governance of this little people"; and reseated herself. Neifile blushed a little at the honour received and became in countenance like as showeth a new-blown rose of April or of May in the breaking of the day, with lovesome eyes some little downcast, sparkling no otherwise than the morning-star. But, after the courteous murmur of the bystanders, whereby they gladsomely approved their goodwill towards the new-made queen, had abated and she had taken heart again, she seated herself somewhat higher than of wont and said, "Since I am to be your queen, I will, departing not from the manner holden of those who have foregone me and whose governance you have by your obedience commended, make manifest to you in few words my opinion, which, an it be approved by your counsel, we will ensue. To-morrow, as you know, is Friday and the next day is Saturday, days which, by reason of the viands that are used therein,[146] are somewhat irksome to most folk, more by token that Friday, considering that He who died for our life on that day suffered passion, is worthy of reverence; wherefore I hold it a just thing and a seemly that, in honour of the Divinity, we apply ourselves rather to orisons than to story-telling. As for Saturday, it is the usance of ladies on that day to wash their heads and do away all dust and all uncleanliness befallen them for the labours of the past week; and many, likewise, use, in reverence of the Virgin Mother of the Son of God, to fast and rest from all manner of work in honour of the ensuing Sunday. Wherefore, we being unable fully to ensue the order of living taken by us, on like wise methinketh we were well to rest from story-telling on that day also; after which, for that we shall then have sojourned here four days, I hold it opportune, an we would give no occasion for newcomers to intrude upon us, that we remove hence and get us gone elsewhither; where I have already considered and provided. There when we shall be assembled together on Sunday, after sleeping,—we having to-day had leisure enough for discoursing at large,[147]—I have bethought myself,—at once that you may have more time to consider and because it will be yet goodlier that the license of our story-telling be somewhat straitened126 and that we devise of one of the many fashions of fortune,—that our discourse shall be OF SUCH AS HAVE, BY DINT OF DILIGENCE,[148] ACQUIRED SOME MUCH DESIRED THING OR RECOVERED SOME LOST GOOD. Whereupon let each think to tell somewhat that may be useful or at least entertaining to the company, saving always Dioneo his privilege." All commended the speech and disposition of the queen and ordained that it should be as she had said. Then, calling for her seneschal, she particularly instructed him where he should set the tables that evening and after of what he should do during all the time of her seignory; and this done, rising to her feet, she gave the company leave to do that which was most pleasing unto each. Accordingly, ladies and men betook themselves to a little garden and there, after they had disported themselves awhile, the hour of supper being come, they supped with mirth and pleasance; then, all arising thence and Emilia, by the queen's commandment, leading the round, the ditty following was sung by Pampinea, whilst the other ladies responded:

What lady aye should sing, and if not I,

Who'm blest with all for which a maid can sigh?

Come then, O Love, thou source of all my weal,

All hope and every issue glad and bright

Sing ye awhile yfere

Of sighs nor bitter pains I erst did feel,

That now but sweeten to me thy delight,

Nay, but of that fire clear,

Wherein I, burning, live in joy and cheer,

And as my God, thy name do magnify.

Thou settest, Love, before these eyes of mine

Whenas thy fire I entered the first day,

A youngling so beseen

With valour, worth and loveliness divine,

That never might one find a goodlier, nay,

Nor yet his match, I ween.

So sore I burnt for him I still must e'en

Sing, blithe, of him with thee, my lord most high.

And that in him which crowneth my liesse

Is that I please him, as he pleaseth me,

Thanks to Love debonair;

Thus in this world my wish I do possess

And in the next I trust at peace to be,

Through that fast faith I bear

To him; sure God, who seeth this, will ne'er

The kingdom of His bliss to us deny.

After this they sang sundry other songs and danced sundry dances and played upon divers instruments of music. Then, the queen deeming it time to go to rest, each betook himself, with torches before him, to his chamber, and all on the two following days, whilst applying themselves to those things whereof the queen had spoken, looked longingly for Sunday.