Here Beginneth the Third Day of the Decameron wherein Under the Governance of Neifile Is Discoursed of Such as Have by Dint of Diligence Acquired Some Much Desired Thing or Recovered Some Lost Good
The dawn from vermeil began to grow orange-tawny, at the approach of the sun, when on the Sunday the queen arose and caused all her company rise also. The seneschal had a great while before despatched to the place whither they were to go store of things needful and folk who should there make ready that which behoved, and seeing the queen now on the way, straightway let load everything else, as if the camp were raised thence, and with the household stuff and such of the servants as remained set out in rear of the ladies and gentlemen. The queen, then, with slow step, accompanied and followed by her ladies and the three young men and guided by the song of some score nightingales and other birds, took her way westward, by a little-used footpath, full of green herbs and flowers, which latter now all began to open for the coming sun, and chatting, jesting and laughing with her company, brought them a while before half tierce, without having gone over two thousand paces, to a very fair and rich palace, somewhat upraised above the plain upon a little knoll. Here they entered and having gone all about and viewed the great saloons and the quaint and elegant chambers all throughly furnished with that which pertaineth thereunto, they mightily commended the place and accounted its lord magnificent. Then, going below and seeing the very spacious and cheerful court thereof, the cellars full of choicest wines and the very cool water that welled there in great abundance, they praised it yet more. Thence, as if desirous of repose, they betook themselves to sit in a gallery which commanded all the courtyard and was all full of flowers, such as the season afforded, and leafage, whereupon there came the careful seneschal and entertained and refreshed them with costliest confections and wines of choice. Thereafter, letting open to them a garden, all walled about, which coasted the palace, they entered therein and it seeming to them, at their entering, altogether wonder-goodly, they addressed themselves more intently to view the particulars thereof. It had about it and athwart the middle very spacious alleys, all straight as arrows and embowered with trellises of vines, which made great show of bearing abundance of grapes that year and being then all in blossom, yielded so rare a savour about the garden, that, as it blent with the fragrance of many another sweet-smelling plant that there gave scent, themseemed they were among all the spiceries that ever grew128 in the Orient. The sides of these alleys were all in a manner walled about with roses, red and white, and jessamine, wherefore not only of a morning, but what while the sun was highest, one might go all about, untouched thereby, neath odoriferous and delightsome shade. What and how many and how orderly disposed were the plants that grew in that place, it were tedious to recount; suffice it that there is none goodly of those which may brook our air but was there in abundance. Amiddleward the garden (what was not less, but yet more commendable than aught else there) was a plat of very fine grass, so green that it seemed well nigh black, enamelled all with belike a thousand kinds of flowers and closed about with the greenest and lustiest of orange and citron trees, the which, bearing at once old fruits and new and flowers, not only afforded the eyes a pleasant shade, but were no less grateful to the smell. Midmost the grass-plat was a fountain of the whitest marble, enchased with wonder-goodly sculptures, and thence,—whether I know not from a natural or an artificial source,—there sprang, by a figure that stood on a column in its midst, so great a jet of water and so high towards the sky, whence not without a delectable sound it fell back into the wonder-limpid fount, that a mill might have wrought with less; the which after (I mean the water which overflowed the full basin) issued forth of the lawn by a hidden way, and coming to light therewithout, encompassed it all about by very goodly and curiously wroughten channels. Thence by like channels it ran through well nigh every part of the pleasance and was gathered again at the last in a place whereby it had issue from the fair garden and whence it descended, in the clearest of streams, towards the plain; but, ere it won thither, it turned two mills with exceeding power and to the no small vantage of the lord. The sight of this garden and its fair ordinance and the plants and the fountain, with the rivulets proceeding therefrom, so pleased the ladies and the three young men that they all of one accord avouched that, an Paradise might be created upon earth, they could not avail to conceive what form, other than that of this garden, might be given it nor what farther beauty might possibly be added thereunto. However, as they went most gladsomely thereabout, weaving them the goodliest garlands of the various leafage of the trees and hearkening the while to the carols of belike a score of different kinds of birds, that sang as if in rivalry one of other, they became aware of a delectable beauty, which, wonderstricken as they were with the other charms of the place, they had not yet noted; to wit, they found the garden full of maybe an hundred kinds of goodly creatures, and one showing them to other, they saw on one side rabbits issue, on another hares run; here lay kids and there fawns went grazing, and there was many another kind of harmless animal, each going about his pastime at his pleasure, as if tame; the which added unto them a yet greater pleasure than the others. After they had gone about their fill, viewing now this thing and now that, the queen let set the tables around the fair fountain and at her commandment, having first sung half a dozen canzonets and danced sundry dances, they sat down129 to meat. There, being right well and orderly served, after a very fair and sumptuous and tranquil fashion, with goodly and delicate viands, they waxed yet blither and arising thence, gave themselves anew to music-making and singing and dancing till it seemed good to the queen that those whom it pleased should betake themselves to sleep. Accordingly some went thither, whilst others, overcome with the beauty of the place, willed not to leave it, but, abiding there, addressed themselves, some to reading romances and some to playing chess or tables, whilst the others slept. But presently, the hour of none being past and the sleepers having arisen and refreshed their faces with cold water, they came all, at the queen's commandment, to the lawn hard by the fountain and there seating themselves, after the wonted fashion, waited to fall to story-telling upon the subject proposed by her. The first upon whom she laid this charge was Filostrato, who began on this wise:
THE FIRST STORY
Day the Third
MASETTO OF LAMPORECCHIO FEIGNETH HIMSELF DUMB AND BECOMETH GARDENER TO A CONVENT OF WOMEN, WHO ALL FLOCK TO LIE WITH HIM
"Fairest ladies, there be many men and women foolish enough to believe that, whenas the white fillet is bound about a girl's head and the black cowl clapped upon her back, she is no longer a woman and is no longer sensible of feminine appetites, as if the making her a nun had changed her to stone; and if perchance they hear aught contrary to this their belief, they are as much incensed as if a very great and heinous misdeed had been committed against nature, considering not neither having regard to themselves, whom full license to do that which they will availeth not to sate, nor yet to the much potency of idlesse and thought-taking. On like wise there are but too many who believe that spade and mattock and coarse victuals and hard living do altogether purge away carnal appetites from the tillers of the earth and render them exceeding dull of wit and judgment. But how much all who believe thus are deluded, I purpose, since the queen hath commanded it to me, to make plain to you in a little story, without departing from the theme by her appointed.
There was (and is yet) in these our parts a convent of women, very famous for sanctity (the which, that I may not anywise abate its repute, I will not name), wherein no great while agone, there being then no more than eight nuns and an abbess, all young, in the nunnery, a poor silly dolt of a fellow was gardener of a very goodly garden of theirs, who, being miscontent with his wage, settled his accounts with the ladies' bailiff and returned to Lamporec130chio, whence he came. There, amongst others who welcomed him home, was a young labouring man, stout and robust and (for a countryman) a well-favoured fellow, by name of Masetto, who asked him where he had been so long. The good man, whose name was Nuto, told him, whereupon Masetto asked him in what he had served the convent, and he, 'I tended a great and goodly garden of theirs, and moreover I went while to the coppice for faggots and drew water and did other such small matters of service; but the nuns gave me so little wage that I could scare find me in shoon withal. Besides, they are all young and methinketh they are possessed of the devil, for there was no doing anything to their liking; nay, when I was at work whiles in the hortyard, quoth one, "Set this here," and another, "Set that here," and a third snatched the spade from my hand, saying, "That is naught"; brief, they gave me so much vexation that I would leave work be and begone out of the hortyard; insomuch that, what with one thing and what with another, I would abide there no longer and took myself off. When I came away, their bailiff besought me, an I could lay my hand on any one apt unto that service, to send the man to him, and I promised it him; but may God make him sound of the loins as he whom I shall get him, else will I send him none at all!' Masetto, hearing this, was taken with so great a desire to be with these nuns that he was all consumed therewith, judging from Nuto's words that he might avail to compass somewhat of that which he desired. However, foreseeing that he would fail of his purpose, if he discovered aught thereof to Nuto, he said to the latter, 'Egad, thou didst well to come away. How is a man to live with women? He were better abide with devils. Six times out of seven they know not what they would have themselves.' But, after they had made an end of their talk, Masetto began to cast about what means he should take to be with them and feeling himself well able to do the offices of which Nuto had spoken, he had no fear of being refused on that head, but misdoubted him he might not be received, for that he was young and well-looked. Wherefore, after pondering many things in himself, he bethought himself thus: 'The place is far hence and none knoweth me there, an I can but make a show of being dumb, I shall for certain be received there.' Having fixed upon this device, he set out with an axe he had about his neck, without telling any whither he was bound, and betook himself, in the guise of a beggarman, to the convent, where being come, he entered in and as luck would have it, found the bailiff in the courtyard. Him he accosted with signs such as dumb folk use and made a show of asking food of him for the love of God and that in return he would, an it were needed, cleave wood for him. The bailiff willingly gave him to eat and after set before him divers logs that Nuto had not availed to cleave, but of all which Masetto, who was very strong, made a131 speedy despatch. By and by, the bailiff, having occasion to go to the coppice, carried him thither and put him to cutting faggots; after which, setting the ass before him, he gave him to understand by signs that he was to bring them home. This he did very well; wherefore the bailiff kept him there some days, so he might have him do certain things for which he had occasion. One day it chanced that the abbess saw him and asked the bailiff who he was. 'Madam,' answered he, 'this is a poor deaf and dumb man, who came hither the other day to ask an alms; so I took him in out of charity and have made him do sundry things of which we had need. If he knew how to till the hortyard and chose to abide with us, I believe we should get good service of him; for that we lack such an one and he is strong and we could make what we would of him; more by token that you would have no occasion to fear his playing the fool with yonder lasses of yours.' 'I' faith,' rejoined the abbess, 'thou sayst sooth. Learn if he knoweth how to till and study to keep him here; give him a pair of shoes and some old hood or other and make much of him, caress him, give him plenty to eat.' Which the bailiff promised to do. Masetto was not so far distant but he heard all this, making a show the while of sweeping the courtyard, and said merrily in himself, 'An you put me therein, I will till you your hortyard as it was never tilled yet.' Accordingly, the bailiff, seeing that he knew right well how to work, asked him by signs if he had a mind to abide there and he replied on like wise that he would do whatsoever he wished; whereupon the bailiff engaged him and charged him till the hortyard, showing him what he was to do; after which he went about other business of the convent and left him. Presently, as Masetto went working one day after another, the nuns fell to plaguing him and making mock of him, as ofttimes it betideth that folk do with mutes, and bespoke him the naughtiest words in the world, thinking he understood them not; whereof the abbess, mayhap supposing him to be tailless as well as tongueless, recked little or nothing. It chanced one day, however, that, as he rested himself after a hard morning's work, two young nuns, who went about the garden, drew near the place where he lay and fell to looking upon him, whilst he made a show of sleeping. Presently quoth one who was somewhat the bolder of the twain to the other, 'If I thought thou wouldst keep my counsel, I would tell thee a thought which I have once and again had and which might perchance profit thee also.' 'Speak in all assurance,' answered the other, 'for certes I will never tell it to any.' Then said the forward wench, 'I know not if thou have ever considered how straitly we are kept and how no man dare ever enter here, save the bailiff, who is old, and yonder dumb fellow; and I have again and again heard ladies, who come to visit us, say that all other delights in the world are but toys in comparison with that which a woman enjoyeth, whenas she hath to do with a man. Wherefore I have often had it in mind to make trial with this mute, since with others I may not, if it be so. And indeed he is the best in the world to that end, for that, e'en if he would, he could not nor might tell it132 again. Thou seest he is a poor silly lout of a lad, who hath overgrown his wit, and I would fain hear how thou deemest of the thing.' 'Alack!' rejoined the other, 'what is this thou sayest? Knowest thou not that we have promised our virginity to God?' 'Oh, as for that,' answered the first, 'how many things are promised Him all day long, whereof not one is fulfilled unto Him! An we have promised it Him, let Him find Himself another or others to perform it to Him.' 'Or if,' went on her fellow, 'we should prove with child, how would it go then?' Quoth the other, 'Thou beginnest to take thought unto ill ere it cometh; when that betideth, then will we look to it; there will be a thousand ways for us of doing so that it shall never be known, provided we ourselves tell it not.' The other, hearing this and having now a greater itch than her companion to prove what manner beast a man was, said, 'Well, then, how shall we do?' Quoth the first, 'Thou seest it is nigh upon none and methinketh the sisters are all asleep, save only ourselves; let us look about the hortyard if there be any there, and if there be none, what have we to do but to take him by the hand and carry him into yonder hut, whereas he harboureth against the rain, and there let one of us abide with him, whilst the other keepeth watch? He is so simple that he will do whatever we will.' Masetto heard all this talk and disposed to compliance, waited but to be taken by one of the nuns. The latter having looked well all about and satisfied themselves that they could be seen from nowhere, she who had broached the matter came up to Masetto and aroused him, whereupon he rose incontinent to his feet. The nun took him coaxingly by the hand and led him, grinning like an idiot, to the hut, where, without overmuch pressing, he did what she would. Then, like a loyal comrade, having had her will, she gave place to her fellow, and Masetto, still feigning himself a simpleton, did their pleasure. Before they departed thence, each of the girls must needs once more prove how the mute could horse it, and after devising with each other, they agreed that the thing was as delectable as they had heard, nay, more so. Accordingly, watching their opportunity, they went oftentimes at fitting seasons to divert themselves with the mute, till one day it chanced that one of their sisters, espying them in the act from the lattice of her cell, showed it to other twain. At first they talked of denouncing the culprits to the abbess, but, after, changing counsel and coming to an accord with the first two, they became sharers with them in Masetto's services, and to them the other three nuns were at divers times and by divers chances added as associates. Ultimately, the abbess, who had not yet gotten wind of these doings, walking one day alone in the garden, the heat being great, found Masetto (who had enough of a little fatigue by day, because of overmuch posting it by night) stretched out asleep under the shade of an almond-tree, and the wind lifting the forepart of his clothes, all abode discovered. The lady, beholding this and seeing herself alone, fell into that same appetite which had gotten hold of her nuns, and arousing Masetto, carried him to her chamber, where, to the no small miscontent of the others, who complained loudly that the gardener came133 not to till the hortyard, she kept him several days, proving and reproving that delight which she had erst been wont to blame in others. At last she sent him back to his own lodging, but was fain to have him often again and as, moreover, she required of him more than her share, Masetto, unable to satisfy so many, bethought himself that his playing the mute might, an it endured longer, result in his exceeding great hurt. Wherefore, being one night with the abbess, he gave loose to his tongue and bespoke her thus: 'Madam, I have heard say that one cock sufficeth unto half a score hens, but that half a score men can ill or hardly satisfy one woman; whereas needs must I serve nine, and to this I can no wise endure; nay, for that which I have done up to now, I am come to such a pass that I can do neither little nor much; wherefore do ye either let me go in God's name or find a remedy for the matter.' The abbess, hearing him speak whom she held dumb, was all amazed and said, 'What is this? Methought thou wast dumb.' 'Madam,' answered Masetto, 'I was indeed dumb, not by nature, but by reason of a malady which bereft me of speech, and only this very night for the first time do I feel it restored to me, wherefore I praise God as most I may.' The lady believed this and asked him what he meant by saying that he had to serve nine. Masetto told her how the case stood, whereby she perceived that she had no nun but was far wiser than herself; but, like a discreet woman as she was, she resolved to take counsel with her nuns to find some means of arranging the matter, without letting Masetto go, so the convent might not be defamed by him. Accordingly, having openly confessed to one another that which had been secretly done of each, they all of one accord, with Masetto's consent, so ordered it that the people round about believed speech to have been restored to him, after he had long been mute, through their prayers and by the merits of the saint in whose name the convent was intituled, and their bailiff being lately dead, they made Masetto bailiff in his stead and apportioned his toils on such wise that he could endure them. Thereafter, albeit he began upon them monikins galore, the thing was so discreetly ordered that nothing took vent thereof till after the death of the abbess, when Masetto began to grow old and had a mind to return home rich. The thing becoming known, enabled him lightly to accomplish his desire, and thus Masetto, having by his foresight contrived to employ his youth to good purpose, returned in his old age, rich and a father, without being at the pains or expense of rearing children, to the place whence he had set out with an axe about his neck, avouching that thus did Christ entreat whoso set horns to his cap."
THE SECOND STORY
Day the Third
A HORSEKEEPER LIETH WITH THE WIFE OF KING AGILULF, WHO, BECOMING AWARE THEREOF, WITHOUT WORD SAID, FINDETH HIM OUT AND POLLETH HIM; BUT THE POLLED MAN POLLETH ALL HIS FELLOWS ON LIKE WISE AND SO ESCAPETH ILL HAP
The end of Filostrato's story, whereat whiles the ladies had some little blushed and other whiles laughed, being come, it pleased the queen that Pampinea should follow on with a story, and she accordingly, beginning with a smiling countenance, said, "Some are so little discreet in seeking at all hazards to show that they know and apprehend that which it concerneth them not to know, that whiles, rebuking to this end unperceived defects in others, they think to lessen their own shame, whereas they do infinitely augment it; and that this is so I purpose, lovesome ladies, to prove to you by the contrary thereof, showing you the astuteness of one who, in the judgment of a king of worth and valour, was held belike of less account than Masetto himself.
Agilulf, King of the Lombards, as his predecessors had done, fixed the seat of his kingship at Pavia, a city of Lombardy, and took to wife Theodolinda the widow of Autari, likewise King of the Lombards, a very fair lady and exceeding discreet and virtuous, but ill fortuned in a lover. The affairs of the Lombards having, thanks to the valour and judgment of King Agilulf, been for some time prosperous and in quiet, it befell that one of the said queen's horse-keepers, a man of very low condition, in respect of birth, but otherwise of worth far above so mean a station, and comely of person and tall as he were the king, became beyond measure enamoured of his mistress. His mean estate hindered him not from being sensible that this love of his was out of all reason, wherefore, like a discreet man as he was, he discovered it unto none, nor dared he make it known to her even with his eyes. But, albeit he lived without any hope of ever winning her favour, yet inwardly he gloried in that he had bestowed his thoughts in such high place, and being all aflame with amorous fire, he studied, beyond every other of his fellows, to do whatsoever he deemed might pleasure the queen; whereby it befell that, whenas she had occasion to ride abroad, she liefer mounted the palfrey of which he had charge than any other; and when this happened, he reckoned it a passing great favour to himself nor ever stirred from her stirrup, accounting himself happy what time he might but touch her clothes. But, as often enough we see it happen that, even as hope groweth less, so love waxeth greater, so did it betide this poor groom, insomuch that sore uneath it was to him to avail to brook his great desire, keeping it, as he did, hidden and being upheld by no hope; and many a time, unable to rid135 himself of that his love, he determined in himself to die. And considering inwardly of the manner, he resolved to seek his death on such wise that it should be manifest he died for the love he bore the queen, to which end he bethought himself to try his fortune in an enterprise of such a sort as should afford him a chance of having or all or part of his desire. He set not himself to seek to say aught to the queen nor to make her sensible of his love by letters, knowing he should speak and write in vain, but chose rather to essay an he might by practice avail to lie with her; nor was there any other shift for it but to find a means how he might, in the person of the king, who, he knew, lay not with her continually, contrive to make his way to her and enter her bedchamber. Accordingly, that he might see on what wise and in what habit the king went, whenas he visited her, he hid himself several times by night in a great saloon of the palace, which lay between the king's bedchamber and that of the queen, and one night, amongst others, he saw the king come forth of his chamber, wrapped in a great mantle, with a lighted taper in one hand and a little wand in the other, and making for the queen's chamber, strike once or twice upon the door with the wand, without saying aught, whereupon it was incontinent opened to him and the taper taken from his hand. Noting this and having seen the king return after the same fashion, he bethought himself to do likewise. Accordingly, finding means to have a cloak like that which he had seen the king wear, together with a taper and a wand, and having first well washed himself in a bagnio, lest haply the smell of the muck should offend the queen or cause her smoke the cheat, he hid himself in the great saloon, as of wont. Whenas he knew that all were asleep and it seemed to him time either to give effect to his desire or to make his way by high emprise to the wished-for death, he struck a light with a flint and steel he had brought with him and kindling the taper, wrapped himself fast in the mantle, then, going up to the chamber-door, smote twice upon it with the wand. The door was opened by a bedchamber-woman, all sleepy-eyed, who took the light and covered it; whereupon, without saying aught, he passed within the curtain, put off his mantle and entered the bed where the queen slept. Then, taking her desirefully in his arms and feigning himself troubled (for that he knew the king's wont to be that, whenas he was troubled, he cared not to hear aught), without speaking or being spoken to, he several times carnally knew the queen; after which, grievous as it seemed to him to depart, yet, fearing lest his too long stay should be the occasion of turning the gotten delight into dolour, he arose and taking up the mantle and the light, withdrew, without word said, and returned, as quickliest he might, to his own bed. He could scarce yet have been therein when the king arose and repaired to the queen's chamber, whereat she marvelled exceedingly; and as he entered the bed and greeted her blithely, she took courage by his cheerfulness and said, 'O my lord, what new fashion is this of to-night? You left me but now, after having taken pleasure of me beyond your wont, and do you return so soon? Have a care136 what you do.' The king, hearing these words, at once concluded that the queen had been deceived by likeness of manners and person, but, like a wise man, bethought himself forthright, seeing that neither she nor any else had perceived the cheat, not to make her aware thereof; which many simpletons would not have done, but would have said, 'I have not been here, I. Who is it hath been here? How did it happen? Who came hither?' Whence many things might have arisen, whereby he would needlessly have afflicted the lady and given her ground for desiring another time that which she had already tasted; more by token that, an he kept silence of the matter, no shame might revert to him, whereas, by speaking, he would have brought dishonour upon himself. The king, then, more troubled at heart than in looks or speech, answered, saying, 'Wife, seem I not to you man enough to have been here a first time and to come yet again after that?' 'Ay, my lord,' answered she. 'Nevertheless, I beseech you have regard to your health.' Quoth Agilulf, 'And it pleaseth me to follow your counsel, wherefore for the nonce I will get me gone again, without giving you more annoy.' This said, taking up his mantle, he departed the chamber, with a heart full of wrath and despite for the affront that he saw had been done him, and bethought himself quietly to seek to discover the culprit, concluding that he must be of the household and could not, whoever he might be, have issued forth of the palace. Accordingly, taking a very small light in a little lantern, he betook himself to a very long gallery that was over the stables of his palace and where all his household slept in different beds, and judging that, whoever he might be that had done what the queen said, his pulse and the beating of his heart for the swink endured could not yet have had time to abate, he silently, beginning at one end of the gallery, fell to feeling each one's breast, to know if his heart beat high. Although every other slept fast, he who had been with the queen was not yet asleep, but, seeing the king come and guessing what he went seeking, fell into such a fright that to the beating of the heart caused by the late-had fatigue, fear added yet a greater and he doubted not but the king, if he became aware of this, would put him to death without delay, and many things passed through his thought that he should do. However, seeing him all unarmed, he resolved to feign sleep and await what he should do. Agilulf, then, having examined many and found none whom he judged to be he of whom he was in quest, came presently to the horsekeeper and feeling his heart beat high, said in himself, 'This is the man.' Nevertheless, an he would have nought be known of that which he purposed to do, he did nought to him but poll, with a pair of scissors he had brought with him, somewhat on one side of his hair, which they then wore very long, so by that token he might know him again on the morrow; and this done, he withdrew and returned to his own chamber. The culprit, who had felt all this, like a shrewd fellow as he was, understood plainly enough why he had been thus marked; wherefore he arose without delay and finding a pair of shears, whereof it chanced there were several about the stables for the service of the horses, went softly up to all who lay in the gallery and clipped each one's137 hair on like wise over the ear; which having done without being observed, he returned to sleep. When the king arose in the morning, he commanded that all his household should present themselves before him, or ever the palace-doors were opened; and it was done as he said. Then, as they all stood before him with uncovered heads, he began to look that he might know him whom he had polled; but, seeing the most part of them with their hair clipped after one and the same fashion, he marvelled and said in himself, 'He whom I seek, for all he may be of mean estate, showeth right well he is of no mean wit.' Then, seeing that he could not, without making a stir, avail to have him whom he sought, and having no mind to incur a great shame for the sake of a paltry revenge, it pleased him with one sole word to admonish the culprit and show him that he was ware of the matter; wherefore, turning to all who were present, he said, 'Let him who did it do it no more and get you gone in peace.' Another would have been for giving them the strappado, for torturing, examining and questioning, and doing this, would have published that which every one should go about to conceal; and having thus discovered himself, though he should have taken entire revenge for the affront suffered, his shame had not been minished, nay, were rather much enhanced therefor and his lady's honour sullied. Those who heard the king's words marvelled and long debated amongst themselves what he meant by this speech; but none understood it, save he whom it concerned, and he, like a wise man, never, during Agilulf's lifetime, discovered the matter nor ever again committed his life to the hazard of such a venture."
THE THIRD STORY
Day the Third
UNDER COLOUR OF CONFESSION AND OF EXCEEDING NICENESS OF CONSCIENCE, A LADY, BEING ENAMOURED OF A YOUNG MAN, BRINGETH A GRAVE FRIAR, WITHOUT HIS MISDOUBTING HIM THEREOF, TO AFFORD A MEANS OF GIVING ENTIRE EFFECT TO HER PLEASURE
Pampinea being now silent and the daring and subtlety of the horsekeeper having been extolled by several of the company, as also the king's good sense, the queen, turning to Filomena, charged her follow on; whereupon she blithely began to speak thus, "I purpose to recount to you a cheat which was in very deed put by a fair lady upon a grave friar and which should be so much the more pleasing to every layman as these [—friars, to wit—], albeit for the most part very dull fools and men of strange manners and usances, hold themselves to be in everything both better worth and wiser than others, whereas they are of far less account than the rest of mankind, being men who, lacking, of the meanness of their spirit, the ability to provide themselves, take refuge, like swine, whereas they may have what to eat. And this story, charming ladies, I138 shall tell you, not only for the ensuing of the order imposed, but to give you to know withal that even the clergy, to whom we women, beyond measure credulous as we are, yield overmuch faith, can be and are whiles adroitly befooled, and that not by men only, but even by certain of our own sex.
In our city, the which is fuller of cozenage than of love or faith, there was, not many years agone, a gentlewoman adorned with beauty and charms and as richly endowed by nature as any of her sex with engaging manners and loftiness of spirit and subtle wit, whose name albeit I know, I purpose not to discover it, no, nor any other that pertaineth unto the present story, for that there be folk yet alive who would take it in despite, whereas it should be passed over with a laugh. This lady, then, seeing herself, though of high lineage, married to a wool-monger and unable, for that he was a craftsman, to put off the haughtiness of her spirit, whereby she deemed no man of mean condition, how rich soever he might be, worthy of a gentlewoman and seeing him moreover, for all his wealth, to be apt unto nothing of more moment than to lay a warp for a piece of motley or let weave a cloth or chaffer with a spinster anent her yarn, resolved on no wise to admit of his embraces, save in so far as she might not deny him, but to seek, for her own satisfaction, to find some one who should be worthier of her favours than the wool-monger appeared to her to be, and accordingly fell so fervently in love with a man of very good quality and middle age, that, whenas she saw him not by day, she could not pass the ensuing night without unease. The gentleman, perceiving not how the case stood, took no heed of her, and she, being very circumspect, dared not make the matter known to him by sending of women nor by letter, fearing the possible perils that might betide. However, observing that he companied much with a churchman, who, albeit a dull lump of a fellow, was nevertheless, for that he was a man of very devout life, reputed of well nigh all a most worthy friar, she bethought herself that this latter would make an excellent go-between herself and her lover and having considered what means she should use, she repaired, at a fitting season, to the church where he abode, and letting call him to her, told him that, an he pleased, she would fain confess herself to him. The friar seeing her and judging her to be a woman of condition, willingly gave ear to her, and she, after confession, said to him, 'Father mine, it behoveth me have recourse to you for aid and counsel anent that which you shall hear. I know, as having myself told you, that you know my kinsfolk and my husband, who loveth me more than his life, nor is there aught I desire but I have it of him incontinent, he being a very rich man and one who can well afford it; wherefore I love him more than mine own self and should I but think, let alone do, aught that might be contrary to his honour and pleasure, there were no woman more wicked or more deserving of the fire than I. Now one, whose name in truth I know not, but who is, meseemeth, a man of condition, and is, if I mistake not, much in your company,—a well-favoured man and tall of his person and clad in very decent sad-coloured raiment,—unaware belike of the constancy of my purpose,139 appeareth to have laid siege to me, nor can I show myself at door or window nor go without the house, but he incontinent presenteth himself before me, and I marvel that he is not here now; whereat I am sore concerned, for that such fashions as these often bring virtuous women into reproach, without their fault. I have whiles had it in mind to have him told of this by my brothers; but then I have bethought me that men oftentimes do messages on such wise that ill answers ensue, which give rise to words and from words they come to deeds; wherefore, lest mischief spring therefrom and scandal, I have kept silence of the matter and have determined to discover it to yourself rather than to another, at once because meseemeth you are his friend and for that it beseemeth you to rebuke not only friends, but strangers, of such things. I beseech you, therefore, for the one God's sake, that you rebuke him of this and pray him leave these his fashions. There be women enough, who incline belike to these toys and would take pleasure in being dogged and courted by him, whereas to me, who have no manner of mind to such matters, it is a very grievous annoy.' So saying, she bowed her head as she would weep. The holy friar understood incontinent of whom she spoke and firmly believing what she said to be true, greatly commended her righteous intent and promised her to do on such wise that she should have no farther annoy from the person in question; and knowing her to be very rich, he commended to her works of charity and almsdeeds, recounting to her his own need. Quoth the lady, 'I beseech you thereof for God's sake, and should he deny, prithee scruple not to tell him that it was I who told you this and complained to you thereof.' Then, having made her confession and gotten her penance, recalling the friar's exhortations to works of almsgiving, she stealthily filled his hand with money, praying him to say masses for the souls of her dead kinsfolk; after which she rose from his feet and taking leave of him, returned home. Not long after up came the gentleman, according to his wont, and after they had talked awhile of one thing and another, the friar, drawing his friend aside, very civilly rebuked him of the manner in which, as he believed, he pursued and spied upon the lady aforesaid, according to that which she had given him to understand. The other marvelled, as well he might, having never set eyes upon her and being used very rarely to pass before her house, and would have excused himself; but the friar suffered him not to speak, saying, 'Now make no show of wonderment nor waste words in denying it, for it will avail thee nothing; I learnt not these matters from the neighbours; nay, she herself told them to me, complaining sore of thee. And besides that such toys beseem not a man of thine age, I may tell thee this much of her, that if ever I saw a woman averse to these follies, it is she; wherefore, for thine own credit and her comfort, I prithee desist therefrom and let her be in peace.' The gentleman, quicker of wit than the friar, was not slow to apprehend the lady's device and feigning to be somewhat abashed, promised to meddle no more with her thenceforward; then, taking leave of the friar, he betook himself to the house of the lady, who still abode await at a little140 window, so she might see him, should he pass that way. When she saw him come, she showed herself so rejoiced and so gracious to him, that he might very well understand that he had gathered the truth from the friar's words, and thenceforward, under colour of other business, he began with the utmost precaution to pass continually through the street, to his own pleasure and to the exceeding delight and solace of the lady. After awhile, perceiving that she pleased him even as he pleased her and wishful to inflame him yet more and to certify him of the love she bore him, she betook herself again, choosing her time and place, to the holy friar and seating herself at his feet in the church, fell a-weeping. The friar, seeing this, asked her affectionately what was to do with her anew. 'Alack, father mine,' answered she, 'that which aileth me is none other than yonder God-accursed friend of yours, of whom I complained to you the other day, for that methinketh he was born for my especial torment and to make me do a thing, such that I should never be glad again nor ever after dare to seat myself at your feet.' 'How?' cried the friar. 'Hath he not given over annoying thee?' 'No, indeed,' answered she; 'nay, since I complained to you of him, as if of despite, maybe taking it ill that I should have done so, for every once he used to pass before my house, I verily believe he hath passed seven times. And would to God he were content with passing and spying upon me! Nay, he is grown so bold and so malapert that but yesterday he despatched a woman to me at home with his idle tales and toys and sent me a purse and a girdle, as if I had not purses and girdles galore; the which I took and take so ill that I believe, but for my having regard to the sin of it and after for the love of you, I had played the devil. However, I contained myself and would not do or say aught whereof I should not first have let you know. Nay, I had already returned the purse and the girdle to the baggage who brought them, that she might carry them back to him, and had given her a rough dismissal, but after, fearing she might keep them for herself and tell him that I had accepted them, as I hear women of her fashion do whiles, I called her back and took them, full of despite, from her hands and have brought them to you, so you may return them to him and tell him I want none of his trash, for that, thanks to God and my husband, I have purses and girdles enough to smother him withal. Moreover, if hereafter he desist not from this, I tell you, as a father, you must excuse me, but I will tell it, come what may, to my husband and my brothers; for I had far liefer he should brook an affront, if needs he must, than that I should suffer blame for him; wherefore let him look to himself.' So saying, still weeping sore, she pulled out from under her surcoat a very handsome and rich purse and a quaint and costly girdle and threw them into the lap of the friar, who, fully crediting that which she told him and incensed beyond measure, took them and said to her, 'Daughter, I marvel not that thou art provoked at these doings, nor can I blame thee therefor; but I much commend thee for following my counsel in the matter. I rebuked him the other day and he hath ill performed that which he promised me; wherefore, as well for that as for141 this that he hath newly done, I mean to warm his ears for him after such a fashion that methinketh he will give thee no farther concern; but do thou, God's benison on thee, suffer not thyself to be so overcome with anger that thou tell it to any of thy folk, for that overmuch harm might ensue thereof unto him. Neither fear thou lest this blame anywise ensue to thee, for I shall still, before both God and men, be a most constant witness to thy virtue.' The lady made believe to be somewhat comforted and leaving that talk, said, as one who knew his greed and that of his fellow-churchmen, 'Sir, these some nights past there have appeared to me sundry of my kinsfolk, who ask nought but almsdeeds, and meseemeth they are indeed in exceeding great torment, especially my mother, who appeareth to me in such ill case and affliction that it is pity to behold. Methinketh she suffereth exceeding distress to see me in this tribulation with yonder enemy of God; wherefore I would have you say me forty masses of Saint Gregory for her and their souls, together with certain of your own prayers, so God may deliver them from that penitential fire.' So saying, she put a florin into his hand, which the holy father blithely received and confirming her devoutness with fair words and store of pious instances, gave her his benison and let her go. The lady being gone, the friar, never thinking how he was gulled, sent for his friend, who, coming and finding him troubled, at once divined that he was to have news of the lady and awaited what the friar should say. The latter repeated that which he had before said to him and bespeaking him anew angrily and reproachfully, rebuked him severely of that which, according to the lady's report, he had done. The gentleman, not yet perceiving the friar's drift, faintly enough denied having sent her the purse and the girdle, so as not to undeceive the friar, in case the lady should have given him to believe that he had done this; whereat the good man was sore incensed and said, 'How canst thou deny it, wicked man that thou art? See, here they are, for she herself brought them to me, weeping; look if thou knowest them.' The gentleman feigned to be sore abashed and answered, 'Yes, I do indeed know them and I confess to you that I did ill; but I swear to you, since I see her thus disposed, that you shall never more hear a word of this.' Brief, after many words, the numskull of a friar gave his friend the purse and the girdle and dismissed him, after rating him amain and beseeching him occupy himself no more with these follies, the which he promised him. The gentleman, overjoyed both at the assurance that himseemed he had of the lady's love and at the goodly gift, was no sooner quit of the friar than he betook himself to a place where he made shift to let his mistress see that he had the one and the other thing; whereat she was mightily rejoiced, more by token that herseemed her device went from good to better. She now awaited nought but her husband's going abroad to give completion to the work, and it befell not long after that it behoved him repair to Genoa on some occasion or other. No sooner had he mounted to horse in the morning and gone his way, than the lady betook herself to the holy man and after many142 lamentations, said to him, weeping, 'Father mine, I tell you now plainly that I can brook no more; but, for that I promised you the other day to do nought, without first telling you, I am come to excuse myself to you; and that you may believe I have good reason both to weep and to complain, I will tell you what your friend, or rather devil incarnate, did to me this very morning, a little before matins. I know not what ill chance gave him to know that my husband was to go to Genoa yestermorn; algates, this morning, at the time I tell you, he came into a garden of mine and climbing up by a tree to the window of my bedchamber, which giveth upon the garden, had already opened the lattice and was for entering, when I of a sudden awoke and starting up, offered to cry out, nay, would assuredly have cried out, but that he, who was not yet within, besought me of mercy in God's name and yours, telling me who he was; which when I heard, I held my peace for the love of you and naked as I was born, ran and shut the window in his face; whereupon I suppose he took himself off (ill-luck go with him!), for I heard no more of him. Look you now if this be a goodly thing and to be endured. For my part I mean to bear with him no more; nay, I have already forborne him overmuch for the love of you.' The friar, hearing this, was the wrathfullest man alive and knew not what to say, except to ask again and again if she had well certified herself that it was indeed he and not another; to which she answered, 'Praised be God! As if I did not yet know him from another! I tell you it was himself, and although he should deny it, credit him not.' Then said the friar, 'Daughter, there is nothing to be said for it but that this was exceeding effrontery and a thing exceeding ill done, and in sending him off, as thou didst, thou didst that which it behoved thee to do. But I beseech thee, since God hath preserved thee from shame, that, like as thou hast twice followed my counsel, even so do thou yet this once; to wit, without complaining to any kinsman of thine, leave it to me to see an I can bridle yonder devil broke loose, whom I believed a saint. If I can make shift to turn him from this lewdness, well and good; if not, I give thee leave henceforth to do with him that which thy soul shall judge best, and my benison go with thee.' 'Well, then,' answered the lady, 'for this once I will well not to vex or disobey you; but look you do on such wise that he be ware of annoying me again, for I promise you I will never again return to you for this cause.' Thereupon, without saying more, she took leave of the friar and went away, as if in anger. Hardly was she out of the church when up came the gentleman and was called by the friar, who, taking him apart, gave him the soundest rating ever man had, calling him disloyal and forsworn and traitor. The other, who had already twice had occasion to know to what the monk's reprimands amounted, abode expectant and studied with embarrassed answers to make him speak out, saying, at the first, 'Why all this passion, Sir? Have I crucified Christ?' Whereupon, 'Mark this shameless fellow!' cried the friar. 'Hear what he saith! He speaketh as if a year or two were passed and he had for lapse of time forgotten his misdeeds and his lewdness! Hath it143 then escaped thy mind between this and matinsong that thou hast outraged some one this very morning? Where wast thou this morning a little before day?' 'I know not,' answered the gentleman; 'but wherever it was, the news thereof hath reached you mighty early.' Quoth the friar, 'Certes, the news hath reached me. Doubtless thou supposedst because her husband was abroad, that needs must the gentlewoman receive thee incontinent in her arms. A fine thing, indeed! Here's a pretty fellow! Here's an honourable man! He's grown a nighthawk, a garden-breaker, a tree-climber! Thinkest thou by importunity to overcome this lady's chastity, that thou climbest up to her windows anights by the trees? There is nought in the world so displeasing to her as thou; yet must thou e'en go essaying it again and again. Truly, thou hast profited finely by my admonitions, let alone that she hath shown thee her aversion in many ways. But this I have to say to thee; she hath up to now, not for any love she beareth thee, but at my instant entreaty, kept silence of that which thou hast done; but she will do so no more; I have given her leave to do what seemeth good to her, an thou annoy her again in aught. What wilt thou do, an she tell her brothers?' The gentleman having now gathered enough of that which it concerned him to know, appeased the friar, as best he knew and might, with many and ample promises, and taking leave of him, waited till matinsong of the ensuing night, when he made his way into the garden and climbed up by the tree to the window. He found the lattice open and entering the chamber as quickliest he might, threw himself into the arms of his fair mistress, who, having awaited him with the utmost impatience, received him joyfully, saying, 'Gramercy to my lord the friar for that he so well taught thee the way hither!' Then, taking their pleasure one of the other, they solaced themselves together with great delight, devising and laughing amain anent the simplicity of the dolt of a friar and gibing at wool-hanks and teasels and carding-combs. Moreover, having taken order for their future converse, they did on such wise that, without having to resort anew to my lord the friar, they foregathered in equal joyance many another night, to the like whereof I pray God, of His holy mercy, speedily to conduct me and all Christian souls who have a mind thereto."
THE FOURTH STORY
Day the Third
DOM FELICE TEACHETH FRA PUCCIO HOW HE MAY BECOME BEATIFIED BY PERFORMING A CERTAIN PENANCE OF HIS FASHION, WHICH THE OTHER DOTH, AND DOM FELICE MEANWHILE LEADETH A MERRY LIFE OF IT WITH THE GOOD MAN'S WIFE
Filomena, having made an end of her story, was silent and Dioneo having with dulcet speech mightily commended the lady's shrewdness and eke the prayer with which Filomena had concluded, the queen turned with a smile to Pamfilo and said, "Come, Pamfilo, continue our diversion with144 some pleasant trifle." Pamfilo promptly answered that he would well and began thus: "Madam, there are many persons who, what while they study to enter Paradise, unwittingly send others thither; the which happened, no great while since, to a neighbour of ours, as you shall hear.
According to that which I have heard tell, there abode near San Pancrazio an honest man and a rich, called Puccio di Rinieri, who, devoting himself in his latter days altogether to religious practices, became a tertiary of the order of St. Francis, whence he was styled Fra Puccio, and ensuing this his devout life, much frequented the church, for that he had no family other than a wife and one maid and consequently, it behoved him not apply himself to any craft. Being an ignorant, clod-pated fellow, he said his paternosters, went to preachments and attended mass, nor ever failed to be at the Lauds chanted by the seculars, and fasted and mortified himself; nay, it was buzzed about that he was of the Flagellants. His wife, whose name was Mistress Isabetta, a woman, yet young, of eight-and-twenty to thirty years of age, fresh and fair and plump as a lady-apple, kept, by reason of the piety and belike of the age of her husband, much longer and more frequent fasts than she could have wished, and when she would have slept or maybe frolicked with him, he recounted to her the life of Christ and the preachments of Fra Nastagio or the Complaint of Mary Magdalene or the like. Meantime there returned home from Paris a monk hight Dom Felice, Conventual of San Pancrazio, who was young and comely enough of person, keen of wit and a profound scholar, and with him Fra Puccio contracted a strait friendship. And for that this Dom Felice right well resolved him his every doubt and knowing his pious turn of mind, made him a show of exceeding devoutness, Fra Puccio fell to carrying him home bytimes and giving him to dine and sup, as the occasion offered; and the lady also, for her husband's sake, became familiar with him and willingly did him honour. The monk, then, continuing to frequent Fra Puccio's house and seeing the latter's wife so fresh and plump, guessed what should be the thing whereof she suf145fered the most default and bethought himself, an he might, to go about to furnish her withal himself, and so spare Fra Puccio fatigue. Accordingly, craftily casting his eyes on her, at one time and another, he made shift to kindle in her breast that same desire which he had himself, which when he saw, he bespoke her of his wishes as first occasion betided him. But, albeit he found her well disposed to give effect to the work, he could find no means thereunto, for that she would on nowise trust herself to be with him in any place in the world save her own house, and there it might not be, seeing that Fra Puccio never went without the town. At this the monk was sore chagrined; but, after much consideration, he hit upon a device whereby he might avail to foregather with the lady in her own house, without suspect, for all Fra Puccio should be at home. Accordingly, the latter coming one day to visit him, he bespoke him thus, 'I have many a time understood, Fra Puccio, that all thy desire is to become a saint and to this end meseemeth thou goest about by a long road, whereas there is another and a very short one, which the Pope and the other great prelates, who know and practise it, will not have made known, for that the clergy, who for the most part live by alms, would incontinent be undone, inasmuch as the laity would no longer trouble themselves to propitiate them with alms or otherwhat. But, for that thou art my friend and hast very honourably entertained me, I would teach it thee, so I were assured thou wouldst practise it and wouldst not discover it to any living soul.' Fra Puccio, eager to know the thing, began straightway to entreat him with the utmost instancy that he would teach it him and then to swear that never, save in so far as it should please him, would he tell it to any, engaging, an if it were such as he might avail to follow, to address himself thereunto. Whereupon quoth the monk, 'Since thou promisest me this, I will e'en discover it to thee. Thou must know that the doctors of the church hold that it behoveth whoso would become blessed to perform the penance which thou shalt hear; but understand me aright; I do not say that, after the penance, thou wilt not be a sinner like as thou presently art; but this will betide, that the sins which thou hast committed up to the time of the penance will all by virtue thereof be purged and pardoned unto thee, and those which thou shalt commit thereafterward will not be written to thy prejudice, but will pass away with the holy water, as venial sins do now. It behoveth a man, then, in the first place, whenas he cometh to begin the penance, to confess himself with the utmost diligence of his sins, and after this he must keep a fast and a very strict abstinence for the space of forty days, during which time thou must abstain from touching, not to say other women, but even thine own wife. Moreover, thou must have in thine own house some place whence thou mayst see the146 sky by night, whither thou must betake thyself towards the hour of complines, and there thou must have a wide plank set up, on such wise that, standing upright, thou mayst lean thy loins against it and keeping thy feet on the ground, stretch out thine arms, crucifix fashion. An thou wouldst rest them upon some peg or other, thou mayst do it, and on this wise thou must abide gazing upon the sky, without budging a jot, till matins. Wert thou a scholar, thou wouldst do well to repeat certain orisons I would give thee; but, as thou art it not, thou must say three hundred Paternosters and as many Ave Marys, in honour of the Trinity, and looking upon heaven, still have in remembrance that God is the Creator of heaven and earth and the passion of Christ, abiding on such wise as He abode on the cross. When the bell ringeth to matins, thou mayst, an thou wilt, go and cast thyself, clad as thou art, on thy bed and sleep, and after, in the forenoon, betake thyself to church and there hear at least three masses and repeat fifty Paternosters and as many Aves; after which thou shalt with a single heart do all and sundry thine occasions, if thou have any to do, and dine and at evensong be in church again and there say certain orisons which I will give thee by writ and without which it cannot be done. Then, towards complines, do thou return to the fashion aforesaid, and thus doing, even as I have myself done aforetime, I doubt not but, ere thou come to the end of the penance, thou wilt, (provided thou shalt have performed it with devoutness and compunction,) feel somewhat marvellous of eternal beatitude.' Quoth Fra Puccio, 'This is no very burdensome matter, nor yet overlong, and may very well be done; wherefore I purpose in God's name to begin on Sunday.' Then, taking leave of him and returning home, he related everything in due order to his wife, having the other's permission therefor. The lady understood very well what the monk meant by bidding him stand fast without stirring till matins; wherefore, the device seeming to her excellent, she replied that she was well pleased therewith and with every other good work that he did for the health of his soul and that, so God might make the penance profitable to him, she would e'en fast with him, but do no more. They being thus of accord and Sunday come, Fra Puccio began his penance and my lord monk, having agreed with the lady, came most evenings to sup with her, bringing with him store of good things to eat and drink, and after lay with her till matinsong, when he arose and took himself off, whilst Fra Puccio returned to bed. Now the place which Fra Puccio had chosen for his penance adjoined the chamber where the lady lay and was parted therefrom but by a very slight wall, wherefore, Master Monk wantoning it one night overfreely with the lady and she with him, it seemed to Fra Puccio that he felt a shaking of the floor of the house. Accordingly, having by this said an hundred of his Paternosters, he made a stop there and without moving, called to his wife to know what she did. The lady, who was of a waggish turn and was then belike astride of San Benedetto his beast or that of San Giovanni Gualberto, answered, 'I' faith, husband mine, I toss147 as most I may.' 'How?' quoth Fra Puccio. 'Thou tossest? What meaneth this tossing?' The lady, laughing, for that she was a frolicsome dame and doubtless had cause to laugh, answered merrily; 'How? You know not what it meaneth? Why, I have heard you say a thousand times, "Who suppeth not by night must toss till morning light."' Fra Puccio doubted not but that the fasting was the cause of her unableness to sleep and it was for this she tossed thus about the bed; wherefore, in the simplicity of his heart, 'Wife,' said he, 'I told thee not to fast; but, since thou wouldst e'en do it, think not of that, but address thyself to rest; thou givest such vaults about the bed that thou makest all in the place shake.' 'Have no care for that,' answered the lady; 'I know what I am about; do you but well, you, and I will do as well as I may.' Fra Puccio, accordingly, held his peace and betook himself anew to his Paternosters; and after that night my lord monk and the lady let make a bed in another part of the house, wherein they abode in the utmost joyance what while Fra Puccio's penance lasted. At one and the same hour the monk took himself off and the lady returned to her own bed, whereto a little after came Fra Puccio from his penance; and on this wise the latter continued to do penance, whilst his wife did her delight with the monk, to whom quoth she merrily, now and again, 'Thou hast put Fra Puccio upon performing a penance, whereby we have gotten Paradise.' Indeed, the lady, finding herself in good case, took such a liking to the monk's fare, having been long kept on low diet by her husband, that, whenas Fra Puccio's penance was accomplished, she still found means to feed her fill with him elsewhere and using discretion, long took her pleasure thereof. Thus, then, that my last words may not be out of accord with my first, it came to pass that, whereas Fra Puccio, by doing penance, thought to win Paradise for himself, he put therein the monk, who had shown him the speedy way thither, and his wife, who lived with him in great lack of that whereof Dom Felice, like a charitable man as he was, vouchsafed her great plenty."
THE FIFTH STORY
Day the Third
RICCIARDO, SURNAMED IL ZIMA, GIVETH MESSER FRANCESCO VERGELLESI A PALFREY OF HIS AND HATH THEREFOR HIS LEAVE TO SPEAK WITH HIS WIFE. SHE KEEPING SILENCE, HE IN HER PERSON REPLIETH UNTO HIMSELF, AND THE EFFECT AFTER ENSUETH IN ACCORDANCE WITH HIS ANSWER
Pamfilo having made an end, not without laughter on the part of the ladies, of the story of Fra Puccio, the queen with a commanding air bade Elisa follow on. She, rather tartly than otherwise, not out of malice, but of old habit, began to speak thus, "Many folk, knowing much, imagine that others know nothing, and so ofttimes, what while they think to overreach148 others, find, after the event, that they themselves have been outwitted of them; wherefore I hold his folly great who setteth himself without occasion to test the strength of another's wit. But, for that maybe all are not of my opinion, it pleaseth me, whilst following on the given order of the discourse, to relate to you that which befell a Pistolese gentleman by reason thereof.
There was in Pistoia a gentleman of the Vergellesi family, by name Messer Francesco, a man of great wealth and understanding and well advised in all else, but covetous beyond measure. Being made provost of Milan, he had furnished himself with everything necessary for his honourable going thither, except only with a palfrey handsome enough for him, and finding none to his liking, he abode in concern thereof. Now there was then in the same town a young man called Ricciardo, of little family, but very rich, who still went so quaintly clad and so brave of his person that he was commonly known as Il Zima, and he had long in vain loved and courted Messer Francesco's wife, who was exceeding fair and very virtuous. Now he had one of the handsomest palfreys in all Tuscany and set great store by it for its beauty and it being public to every one that he was enamoured of Messer Francesco's wife, there were those who told the latter that, should he ask it, he might have the horse for the love Il Zima bore his lady. Accordingly, moved by covetise, Messer Francesco let call Il Zima to him and sought of him his palfrey by way of sale, so he should proffer it to him as a gift. The other, hearing this, was well pleased and made answer to him, saying, "Sir, though you gave me all you have in the world, you might not avail to have my palfrey by way of sale, but by way of gift you may have it, whenas it pleaseth you, on condition that, ere you take it, I may have leave to speak some words with your lady in your presence, but so far removed from every one that I may be heard of none other than herself.' The gentleman, urged by avarice and looking to outwit the other, answered that it liked him well and [that he might speak with her] as much as he would; then, leaving him in the saloon of his palace, he betook himself to the lady's chamber and telling her how easily he might acquire the palfrey, bade her come hearken to Il Zima, but charged her take good care to answer neither little or much to aught that he should say. To this the lady much demurred, but, it behoving her ensue her husband's pleasure, she promised to do his bidding and followed him to the saloon, to hear what Il Zima should say. The latter, having renewed his covenant with the gentleman, seated himself with the lady in a part of the saloon at a great distance from every one and began to say thus, 'Noble lady, meseemeth certain that you have too much wit not to have long since perceived how great a love I have been brought to bear you by your beauty, which far transcendeth that of any woman whom methinketh I ever beheld, to say nothing of the engaging manners and the peerless virtues which be in you and which might well avail to take the loftiest spirits of149 mankind; wherefore it were needless to declare to you in words that this [my love] is the greatest and most fervent that ever man bore woman; and thus, without fail, will I do so long as my wretched life shall sustain these limbs, nay, longer; for that, if in the other world folk love as they do here below, I shall love you to all eternity. Wherefore you may rest assured that you have nothing, be it much or little worth, that you may hold so wholly yours and whereon you may in every wise so surely reckon as myself, such as I am, and that likewise which is mine. And that of this you may take assurance by very certain argument, I tell you that I should count myself more graced, did you command me somewhat that I might do and that would pleasure you, than if, I commanding, all the world should promptliest obey me. Since, then, I am yours, even as you have heard, it is not without reason that I dare to offer up my prayers to your nobility, wherefrom alone can all peace, all health and all well-being derive for me, and no otherwhence; yea, as the humblest of your servants, I beseech you, dear my good and only hope of my soul, which, midmost the fire of love, feedeth upon its hope in you,—that your benignity may be so great and your past rigour shown unto me, who am yours, on such wise be mollified that I, recomforted by your kindness, may say that, like as by your beauty I was stricken with love, even so by your pity have I life, which latter, an your haughty soul incline not to my prayers, will without fail come to nought and I shall perish and you may be said to be my murderer. Letting be that my death will do you no honour, I doubt not eke but that, conscience bytimes pricking you therefor, you will regret having wrought it and whiles, better disposed, will say in yourself, "Alack, how ill I did not to have compassion upon my poor Zima!" and this repentance, being of no avail, will cause you the great annoy. Wherefore, so this may not betide, now that you have it in your power to succour me, bethink yourself and ere I die, be moved to pity on me, for that with you alone it resteth to make me the happiest or the most miserable man alive. I trust your courtesy will be such that you will not suffer me to receive death in guerdon of such and so great a love, but will with a glad response and full of favour quicken my fainting spirits, which flutter, all dismayed, in your presence.' Therewith he held his peace and heaving the deepest of sighs, followed up with sundry tears, proceeded to await the lady's answer. The latter,—whom the long court he had paid her, the joustings held and the serenades given in her honour and other like things done of him for the love of her had not availed to move,—was moved by the passionate speech of this most ardent lover and began to be sensible of that which she had never yet felt, to wit, what manner of thing love was; and albeit, in ensuance of the commandment laid upon her by her husband, she kept silence, she could not150 withal hinder sundry gentle sighs from discovering that which, in answer to Il Zima, she would gladly have made manifest. Il Zima, having waited awhile and seeing that no response ensued, was wondered and presently began to divine the husband's device; but yet, looking her in the face and observing certain flashes of her eyes towards him now and again and noting, moreover, the sighs which she suffered not to escape her bosom with all her strength, conceived fresh hope and heartened thereby, took new counsel and proceeded to answer himself after the following fashion, she hearkening the while: 'Zima mine, this long time, in good sooth, have I perceived thy love for me to be most great and perfect, and now by thy words I know it yet better and am well pleased therewith, as indeed I should be. Algates, an I have seemed to thee harsh and cruel, I will not have thee believe that I have at heart been that which I have shown myself in countenance; nay, I have ever loved thee and held thee dear above all other men; but thus hath it behoved me do, both for fear of others and for the preserving of my fair fame. But now is the time at hand when I may show thee clearly that I love thee and guerdon thee of the love that thou hast borne and bearest me. Take comfort, therefore, and be of good hope, for that a few days hence Messer Francesco is to go to Milan for provost, as indeed thou knowest, who hast for the love of me given him thy goodly palfrey; and whenas he shall be gone, I promise thee by my troth and of the true love I bear thee, that, before many days, thou shalt without fail foregather with me and we will give gladsome and entire accomplishment to our love. And that I may not have to bespeak thee otherwhiles of the matter, I tell thee presently that, whenas thou shalt see two napkins displayed at the window of my chamber, which giveth upon our garden, do thou that same evening at nightfall make shift to come to me by the garden door, taking good care that thou be not seen. Thou wilt find me awaiting thee and we will all night long have delight and pleasance one of another, to our hearts' content.' Having thus spoken for the lady, he began again to speak in his own person and rejoined on this wise, 'Dearest lady, my every sense is so transported with excessive joy for your gracious reply that I can scarce avail to make response, much less to render you due thanks; nay, could I e'en speak as I desire, there is no term so long that it might suffice me fully to thank you as I would fain do and as it behoveth me; wherefore I leave it to your discreet consideration to imagine that which, for all my will, I am unable to express in words. This much only I tell you that I will without fail bethink myself to do as you have charged me, and being then, peradventure, better certified of so great a grace as that which you have vouchsafed me, I will, as best I may, study to render you the utmost thanks in my power. For the nonce there abideth no more to say; wherefore, dearest lady mine, God give you that gladness and that weal which you most151 desire, and so to Him I commend you.' For all this the lady said not a word; whereupon Il Zima arose and turned towards the husband, who, seeing him risen, came up to him and said, laughing 'How deemest thou? Have I well performed my promise to thee?' 'Nay, sir' answered Il Zima; 'for you promised to let me speak with your lady and you have caused me speak with a marble statue.' These words were mighty pleasing to the husband, who, for all he had a good opinion of the lady, conceived of her a yet better and said, 'Now is thy palfrey fairly mine.' 'Ay is it, sir,' replied Il Zima, 'but, had I thought to reap of this favour received of you such fruit as I have gotten, I had given you the palfrey, without asking it of you; and would God I had done it, for that now you have bought the palfrey and I have not sold it.' The other laughed at this and being now provided with a palfrey, set out upon his way a few days after and betook himself to Milan, to enter upon the Provostship. The lady, left free in her house, called to mind Il Zima's words and the love he bore her and the palfrey given for her sake and seeing him pass often by the house, said in herself, 'What do I? Why waste I my youth? Yonder man is gone to Milan and will not return these six months. When will he ever render me them again? When I am old? Moreover, when shall I ever find such a lover as Il Zima? I am alone and have no one to fear. I know not why I should not take this good opportunity what while I may; I shall not always have such leisure as I presently have. None will know the thing, and even were it to be known, it is better to do and repent, than to abstain and repent.' Having thus taken counsel with herself, she one day set two napkins in the garden window, even as Il Zima had said, which when he saw, he was greatly rejoiced and no sooner was the night come than he betook himself, secretly and alone, to the gate of the lady's garden and finding it open, passed on to another door that opened into the house, where he found his mistress awaiting him. She, seeing him come, started up to meet him and received him with the utmost joy, whilst he clipped and kissed her an hundred thousand times and followed her up the stair to her chamber, where, getting them to bed without a moment's delay, they knew the utmost term of amorous delight. Nor was this first time the last, for that, what while the gentleman abode at Milan and even after his coming back, Il Zima returned thither many another time, to the exceeding satisfaction of both parties."
THE SIXTH STORY
Day the Third
RICCIARDO MINUTOLO, BEING ENAMOURED OF THE WIFE OF FILIPPELLO FIGHINOLFI AND KNOWING HER JEALOUSY OF HER HUSBAND, CONTRIVETH, BY REPRESENTING THAT FILIPPELLO WAS ON THE ENSUING DAY TO BE WITH HIS OWN WIFE IN A BAGNIO, TO BRING HER TO THE LATTER PLACE, WHERE, THINKING TO BE WITH HER HUSBAND, SHE FINDETH THAT SHE HATH ABIDDEN WITH RICCIARDO
Elisa having no more to say, the queen, after commending the sagacity of Il Zima, bade Fiammetta proceed with a story, who answered, all smilingly, "Willingly, Madam," and began thus: "It behoveth somedele to depart our city (which, like as it aboundeth in all things else, is fruitful in instances of every subject) and as Elisa hath done, to recount somewhat of the things that have befallen in other parts of the world; wherefore, passing over to Naples, I shall tell how one of those she-saints, who feign themselves so shy of love, was by the ingenuity of a lover of hers brought to taste the fruits of love, ere she had known its flowers; the which will at once teach you circumspection in the things that may hap and afford you diversion of those already befallen.
In Naples, a very ancient city and as delightful as any in Italy or maybe more so, there was once a young man, illustrious for nobility of blood and noted for his much wealth, whose name was Ricciardo Minutolo. Albeit he had to wife a very fair and lovesome young lady, he fell in love with one who, according to general opinion, far overpassed in beauty all the other ladies of Naples. Her name was Catella and she was the wife of another young gentleman of like condition, hight Filippello Fighinolfi, whom, like a very virtuous woman as she was, she loved and cherished over all. Ricciardo, then, loving this Catella and doing all those things whereby the love and favour of a lady are commonly to be won, yet for all that availing not to compass aught of his desire, was like to despair; and unknowing or unable to rid him of his passion, he neither knew how to die nor did it profit him to live.
Abiding in this mind, it befell that he was one day urgently exhorted by certain ladies of his kinsfolk to renounce this passion of his, seeing he did but weary himself in vain, for that Catella had none other good than Filippello, of whom she lived in such jealousy that she fancied every bird that flew through the air would take him from her. Ricciardo, hearing of Catella's jealousy, forthright bethought himself how he might compass his wishes and accordingly proceeded to feign himself in despair of her love and to have therefore set his mind upon another lady, for whose love he began to make a show of jousting and tourneying and doing all those things which he had been used to do for Catella; nor did he do this long before well nigh all the Neapolitans, and among the rest the lady herself, were persuaded that he no longer loved Catella, but was ardently enamoured of this second lady; and on this wise he persisted until it was so firmly believed not only of others, but of Catella herself, that the latter laid aside a certain reserve with which she153 was wont to entreat him, by reason of the love he bore her, and coming and going, saluted him familiarly, neighbourwise, as she did others.
It presently befell that, the weather being warm, many companies of ladies and gentlemen went, according to the usance of the Neapolitans, to divert themselves on the banks of the sea and there to dine and sup, and Ricciardo, knowing Catella to be gone thither with her company, betook himself to the same place with his friends and was received into Catella's party of ladies, after allowing himself to be much pressed, as if he had no great mind to abide there. The ladies and Catella fell to rallying him upon his new love, and he, feigning himself sore inflamed therewith, gave them the more occasion for discourse. Presently, one lady going hither and thither, as commonly happeneth in such places, and Catella being left with a few whereas Ricciardo was, the latter cast at her a hint of a certain amour of Filippello her husband, whereupon she fell into a sudden passion of jealousy and began to be inwardly all afire with impatience to know what he meant. At last, having contained herself awhile and being unable to hold out longer, she besought Ricciardo, for that lady's sake whom he most loved, to be pleased to make her clear of that which he had said of Filippello; whereupon quoth he, 'You conjure me by such a person that I dare not deny aught you ask me; wherefore I am ready to tell it you, so but you promise me that you will never say a word thereof either to him or to any other, save whenas you shall by experience have seen that which I shall tell you to be true; for that, when you please, I will teach you how you may see it.'
The lady consented to that which he asked and swore to him never to repeat that which he should tell her, believing it the more to be true. Then, withdrawing apart with her, so they might not be overheard of any, he proceeded to say thus: 'Madam, an I loved you as once I loved, I should not dare tell you aught which I thought might vex you; but, since that love is passed away, I shall be less chary of discovering to you the whole truth. I know not if Filippello have ever taken umbrage at the love I bore you or have believed that I was ever loved of you. Be this as it may, he hath never personally shown me aught thereof; but now, having peradventure awaited a time whenas he deemed I should be less suspicious, it seemeth he would fain do unto me that which I misdoubt me he feareth I have done unto him, to wit, [he seeketh] to have my wife at his pleasure. As I find, he hath for some little time past secretly solicited her with sundry messages, all of which I have known from herself, and she hath made answer thereunto according as I have enjoined her. This very day, however, ere I came hither, I found in the house, in close conference with my wife, a woman whom I set down incontinent for that which she was, wherefore I called my wife and asked her what the woman wanted. Quoth she, "She is the agent of Filippello, with whom thou hast saddled me, by dint of making me answer him and give him hopes, and she saith that he will e'en know once for all what I mean to do and that, an I will, he154 would contrive for me to be privily at a bagnio in this city; nay, of this he prayeth and importuneth me; and hadst thou not, I know not why, caused me keep this traffic with him, I would have rid myself of him after such a fashion that he should never more have looked whereas I might be." Thereupon meseemed this was going too far and that it was no longer to be borne; and I bethought myself to tell it to you, so you might know how he requiteth that entire fidelity of yours, whereby aforetime I was nigh upon death. And so you shall not believe this that I tell you to be words and fables, but may, whenas you have a mind thereto, openly both see and touch it, I caused my wife make this answer to her who awaited it, that she was ready to be at the bagnio in question to-morrow at none, whenas the folk sleep; with which the woman took leave of her, very well pleased. Now methinketh not you believe that I will send my wife thither; but, were I in your place, I would contrive that he should find me there in the room of her he thinketh to meet, and whenas I had abidden with him awhile, I would give him to know with whom he had been and render him such honour thereof as should beseem him; by which means methinketh you would do him such a shame that the affront he would fain put upon yourself and upon me would at one blow be avenged.'
Catella, hearing this, without anywise considering who it was that said it to her or suspecting his design, forthright, after the wont of jealous folk, gave credence to his words and fell a-fitting to his story certain things that had already befallen; then, fired with sudden anger, she answered that she would certainly do as he counselled,—it was no such great matter,—and that assuredly, if Filippello came thither, she would do him such a shame that it should still recur to his mind, as often as he saw a woman. Ricciardo, well pleased at this and himseeming his device was a good one and in a fair way of success, confirmed her in her purpose with many other words and strengthened her belief in his story, praying her, natheless, never to say that she had heard it from him, the which she promised him on her troth.
Next morning, Ricciardo betook himself to a good woman, who kept the bagnio he had named to Catella, and telling her what he purposed to do, prayed her to further him therein as most she might. The good woman, who was much beholden to him, answered that she would well and agreed with him what she should do and say. Now in the house where the bagnio was she had a very dark chamber, for that no window gave thereon by which the light might enter. This chamber she made ready and spread a bed there, as best she might, wherein Ricciardo, as soon as he had dined, laid himself and proceeded to await Catella. The latter, having heard Ricciardo's words and giving more credence thereto than behoved her, returned in the evening, full of despite, to her house, whither Filippello also returned and being by chance full of other thought, maybe did not show her his usual fondness. When she saw this, her suspicions rose yet higher and she said in herself, 'Forsooth, his mind is occupied with yonder lady with whom he thinketh to take his pleasure to-morrow; but of a surety this shall not come to pass.' An in this thought she155 abode well nigh all that night, considering how she should bespeak him, whenas she should be with him [in the bagnio].
What more [need I say?] The hour of none come, she took her waiting-woman and without anywise changing counsel, repaired to the bagnio that Ricciardo had named to her, and there finding the good woman, asked her if Filippello had been there that day, whereupon quoth the other, who had been duly lessoned by Ricciardo, 'Are you the lady that should come to speak with him?' 'Ay am I,' answered Catella. 'Then,' said the woman, 'get you in to him.' Catella, who went seeking that which she would fain not have found, caused herself to be brought to the chamber where Ricciardo was and entering with covered head, locked herself in. Ricciardo, seeing her enter, rose joyfully to his feet and catching her in his arms, said softly, 'Welcome, my soul!' Whilst she, the better to feign herself other than she was, clipped him and kissed him and made much of him, without saying a word, fearing to be known of him if she should speak. The chamber was very dark, wherewith each of them was well pleased, nor for long abiding there did the eyes recover more power. Ricciardo carried her to the bed and there, without speaking, lest their voices should betray them, they abode a long while, to the greater delight and pleasance of the one party than the other.
But presently, it seeming to Catella time to vent the resentment she felt, she began, all afire with rage and despite, to speak thus, 'Alas, how wretched is women's lot and how ill bestowed the love that many of them bear their husbands! I, unhappy that I am, these eight years have I loved thee more than my life, and thou, as I have felt, art all afire and all consumed with love of a strange woman, wicked and perverse man that thou art! Now with whom thinkest thou to have been? Thou hast been with her whom thou hast too long beguiled with thy false blandishments, making a show of love to her and being enamoured elsewhere. I am Catella, not Ricciardo's wife, disloyal traitor that thou art! Hearken if thou know my voice; it is indeed I; and it seemeth to me a thousand years till we be in the light, so I may shame thee as thou deservest, scurvy discredited cur that thou art! Alack, woe is me! To whom have I borne so much love these many years? To this disloyal dog, who, thinking to have a strange woman in his arms, hath lavished on me more caresses and more fondnesses in this little while I have been here with him than in all the rest of the time I have been his. Thou hast been brisk enough to-day, renegade cur that thou art, that usest at home to show thyself so feeble and forspent and impotent; but, praised be God, thou hast tilled thine own field and not, as thou thoughtest, that of another. No wonder thou camest not anigh me yesternight; thou lookedst to discharge thee of thy lading elsewhere and wouldst fain come fresh to the battle; but, thanks to God and my own foresight, the stream hath e'en run in its due channel. Why answerest thou not, wicked man? Why sayst thou not somewhat? Art thou grown dumb, hearing me? Cock's faith, I know not what hindereth me from thrusting my hands into thine eyes and tearing them out for thee. Thou thoughtest to do this treason very secretly; but, perdie,156 one knoweth as much as another; thou hast not availed to compass thine end; I have had better beagles at thy heels than thou thoughtest.'
Ricciardo inwardly rejoiced at these words and without making any reply, clipped her and kissed her and fondled her more than ever; whereupon quoth she, following on her speech, 'Ay, thou thinkest to cajole me with thy feigned caresses, fashious dog that thou art, and to appease and console me; but thou art mistaken; I shall never be comforted for this till I have put thee to shame therefor in the presence of all our friends and kinsmen and neighbours. Am I not as fair as Ricciardo's wife, thou villain? Am I not as good a gentlewoman? Why dost thou not answer, thou sorry dog? What hath she more than I? Keep thy distance; touch me not; thou hast done enough feats of arms for to-day. Now thou knowest who I am, I am well assured that all thou couldst do would be perforce; but, so God grant me grace, I will yet cause thee suffer want thereof, and I know not what hindereth me from sending for Ricciardo, who hath loved me more than himself and could never boast that I once even looked at him; nor know I what harm it were to do it. Thou thoughtest to have his wife here and it is as if thou hadst had her, inasmuch as it is none of thy fault that the thing hath miscarried; wherefore, were I to have himself, thou couldst not with reason blame me.'
Brief, many were the lady's words and sore her complaining. However, at last, Ricciardo, bethinking himself that, an he let her go in that belief, much ill might ensue thereof, determined to discover himself and undeceive her; wherefore, catching her in his arms and holding her fast, so she might not get away, he said, 'Sweet my soul, be not angered; that which I could not have of you by simply loving you, Love hath taught me to obtain by practice; and I am your Ricciardo.' Catella, hearing this and knowing him by the voice, would have thrown herself incontinent out of bed, but could not; whereupon she offered to cry out; but Ricciardo stopped her mouth with one hand and said, 'Madam, this that hath been may henceforth on nowise be undone, though you should cry all the days of your life; and if you cry out or cause this ever anywise to be known of any one, two things will come thereof; the one (which should no little concern you) will be that your honour and fair fame will be marred, for that, albeit you may avouch that I brought you hither by practice, I shall say that it is not true, nay, that I caused you come hither for monies and gifts that I promised you, whereof for that I gave you not so largely as you hoped, you waxed angry and made all this talk and this outcry; and you know that folk are more apt to credit ill than good, wherefore I shall more readily be believed than you. Secondly, there will ensue thereof a mortal enmity between your husband and myself, and it may as well happen that I shall kill him as he me, in which case you are never after like to be happy or content. Wherefore, heart of my body, go not about at once to dishonour yourself and to cast your husband and myself into strife and peril. You are not the first woman, nor will you be the last, who hath been deceived, nor have I in this practised upon you to bereave you of your own, but for the exceeding157 love that I bear you and am minded ever to bear you and to be your most humble servant. And although it is long since I and all that I possess or can or am worth have been yours and at your service, henceforward I purpose that they shall be more than ever so. Now, you are well advised in other things and so I am certain you will be in this.'
Catella, what while Ricciardo spoke thus, wept sore, but, albeit she was sore provoked and complained grievously, nevertheless, her reason allowed so much force to his true words that she knew it to be possible that it should happen as he said; wherefore quoth she, 'Ricciardo, I know not how God will vouchsafe me strength to suffer the affront and the cheat thou hast put upon me; I will well to make no outcry here whither my simplicity and overmuch jealousy have brought me; but of this be assured that I shall never be content till one way or another I see myself avenged of this thou hast done to me. Wherefore, leave me, hold me no longer; thou hast had that which thou desiredst and hast tumbled me to thy heart's content; it is time to leave me; let me go, I prithee.'
Ricciardo, seeing her mind yet overmuch disordered, had laid it to heart never to leave her till he had gotten his pardon of her; wherefore, studying with the softest words to appease her, he so bespoke and so entreated and so conjured her that she was prevailed upon to make peace with him, and of like accord they abode together a great while thereafter in the utmost delight. Moreover, Catella, having thus learned how much more savoury were the lover's kisses than those of the husband and her former rigour being changed into kind love-liking for Ricciardo, from that day forth she loved him very tenderly and thereafter, ordering themselves with the utmost discretion, they many a time had joyance of their loves. God grant us to enjoy ours!"
THE SEVENTH STORY
Day the Third
TEDALDO ELISEI, HAVING FALLEN OUT WITH HIS MISTRESS, DEPARTETH FLORENCE AND RETURNING THITHER, AFTER AWHILE, IN A PILGRIM'S FAVOUR, SPEAKETH WITH THE LADY AND MAKETH HER COGNISANT OF HER ERROR; AFTER WHICH HE DELIVERETH HER HUSBAND, WHO HAD BEEN CONVICTED OF MURDERING HIM, FROM DEATH AND RECONCILING HIM WITH HIS BRETHREN, THENCEFORWARD DISCREETLY ENJOYETH HIMSELF WITH HIS MISTRESS
Fiammetta being now silent, commended of all, the queen, to lose no time, forthright committed the burden of discourse to Emilia, who began thus: "It pleaseth me to return to our city, whence it pleased the last two speakers to depart, and to show you how a townsman of ours regained his lost mistress.
There was, then, in Florence a noble youth, whose name was Tedaldo Elisei and who, being beyond measure enam158oured of a lady called Madam Ermellina, the wife of one Aldobrandino Palermini, deserved for his praiseworthy fashions, to enjoy his desire. However, Fortune, the enemy of the happy, denied him this solace, for that, whatever might have been the cause, the lady, after complying awhile with Tedaldo's wishes, suddenly altogether withdrew her good graces from him and not only refused to hearken to any message of his, but would on no wise see him; wherefore he fell into a dire and cruel melancholy; but his love for her had been so hidden that none guessed it to be the cause of his chagrin. After he had in divers ways studied amain to recover the love himseemed he had lost without his fault and finding all his labour vain, he resolved to withdraw from the world, that he might not afford her who was the cause of his ill the pleasure of seeing him pine away; wherefore, without saying aught to friend or kinsman, save to a comrade of his, who knew all, he took such monies as he might avail to have and departing secretly, came to Ancona, where, under the name of Filippo di Sanlodeccio, he made acquaintance with a rich merchant and taking service with him, accompanied him to Cyprus on board a ship of his.
His manners and behaviour so pleased the merchant that he not only assigned him a good wage, but made him in part his associate and put into his hands a great part of his affairs, which he ordered so well and so diligently that in a few years he himself became a rich and famous and considerable merchant; and albeit, in the midst of these his dealings, he oft remembered him of his cruel mistress and was grievously tormented of love and yearned sore to look on her again, such was his constancy that seven years long he got the better of the battle. But, chancing one day to hear sing in Cyprus a song that himself had made aforetime and wherein was recounted the love he bore his mistress and she him and the pleasure he had of her, and thinking it could not be she had forgotten him, he flamed up into such a passion of desire to see her again that, unable to endure longer, he resolved to return to Florence.
Accordingly, having set all his affairs in order, he betook himself with one only servant to Ancona and transporting all his good thither, despatched it to Florence to a friend of the Anconese his partner, whilst he himself, in the disguise of a pilgrim returning from the Holy Sepulchre, followed secretly after with his servant and coming to Florence, put up at a little hostelry kept by two brothers, in the neighbourhood of his mistress's house, whereto he repaired first of all, to see her, an he might. However, he found the windows and doors and all else closed, wherefore his heart misgave him she was dead or had removed thence and he betook himself, in great concern, to the house of his brethren, before which he saw four of the latter clad all in black. At this he marvelled exceedingly and knowing himself so changed both in habit and person from that which he was used to be, whenas he departed thence, that he might not lightly be recognized, he boldly accosted a cordwainer hard by and asked him why they were clad in black; whereto he answered, 'Yonder men are clad in black for that it is not yet a fortnight since a brother of theirs, who had not been here this great while,159 was murdered, and I understand they have proved to the court that one Aldobrandino Palermini, who is in prison, slew him, for that he was a well-wisher of his wife and had returned hither unknown to be with her.'
Tedaldo marvelled exceedingly that any one should so resemble him as to be taken for him and was grieved for Aldobrandino's ill fortune. Then, having learned that the lady was alive and well and it being now night, he returned, full of various thoughts, to the inn and having supped with his servant, was put to sleep well nigh at the top of the house. There, what with the many thoughts that stirred him and the badness of the bed and peradventure also by reason of the supper, which had been meagre, half the night passed whilst he had not yet been able to fall asleep; wherefore, being awake, himseemed about midnight he heard folk come down into the house from the roof, and after through the chinks of the chamber-door he saw a light come up thither. Thereupon he stole softly to the door and putting his eye to the chink, fell a-spying what this might mean and saw a comely enough lass who held the light, whilst three men, who had come down from the roof, made towards her; and after some greetings had passed between them, one of them said to the girl, 'Henceforth, praised be God, we may abide secure, since we know now for certain that the death of Tedaldo Elisei hath been proved by his brethren against Aldobrandino Palermini, who hath confessed thereto, and judgment is now recorded; nevertheless, it behoveth to keep strict silence, for that, should it ever become known that it was we [who slew him], we shall be in the same danger as is Aldobrandino.' Having thus bespoken the woman, who showed herself much rejoiced thereat, they left her and going below, betook themselves to bed.
Tedaldo, hearing this, fell a-considering how many and how great are the errors which may befall the minds of men, bethinking him first of his brothers who had bewept and buried a stranger in his stead and after of the innocent man accused on false suspicion and brought by untrue witness to the point of death, no less than of the blind severity of laws and rulers, who ofttimes, under cover of diligent investigation of the truth, cause, by their cruelties, prove that which is false and style themselves ministers of justice and of God, whereas indeed they are executors of iniquity and of the devil; after which he turned his thought to the deliverance of Aldobrandino and determined in himself what he should do. Accordingly, arising in the morning, he left his servant at the inn and betook himself alone, whenas it seemed to him time, to the house of his mistress, where, chancing to find the door open, he entered in and saw the lady seated, all full of tears and bitterness of soul, in a little ground floor room that was there.
At this sight he was like to weep for compassion of her and drawing near to her, said, 'Madam, afflict not yourself; your peace is at hand.' The lady, hearing this, lifted her eyes and said, weeping, 'Good man, thou seemest to me a stranger pilgrim; what knowest thou of my peace or of my affliction?' 'Madam,' answered Tedaldo, 'I am of Constantinople and am but now come hither, being sent of God to turn your160 tears into laughter and to deliver your husband from death.' Quoth she, 'An thou be of Constantinople and newly come hither, how knowest thou who I am or who is my husband?' Thereupon, the pilgrim beginning from the beginning, recounted to her the whole history of Aldobrandino's troubles and told her who she was and how long she had been married and other things which he very well knew of her affairs; whereat she marvelled exceedingly and holding him for a prophet, fell on her knees at his feet, beseeching him for God's sake, an he were come for Aldobrandino's salvation, to despatch, for that the time was short.
The pilgrim, feigning himself a very holy man, said, 'Madam, arise and weep not, but hearken well to that which I shall say to you and take good care never to tell it to any. According to that which God hath revealed unto me, the tribulation wherein you now are hath betided you because of a sin committed by you aforetime, which God the Lord hath chosen in part to purge with this present annoy and will have altogether amended of you; else will you fall into far greater affliction.' 'Sir,' answered the lady, 'I have many sins and know not which one, more than another, God the Lord would have me amend; wherefore, an you know it, tell me and I will do what I may to amend it.' 'Madam,' rejoined the pilgrim, 'I know well enough what it is, nor do I question you thereof the better to know it, but to the intent that, telling it yourself, you may have the more remorse thereof. But let us come to the fact; tell me, do you remember, ever to have had a lover?'
The lady, hearing this, heaved a deep sigh and marvelled sore, supposing none had ever known it, albeit, in the days when he was slain who had been buried for Tedaldo, there had been some whispering thereof, for certain words not very discreetly used by Tedaldo's confidant, who knew it; then answered, 'I see that God discovereth unto you all men's secrets, wherefore I am resolved not to hide mine own from you. True it is that in my youth I loved over all the ill-fortuned youth whose death is laid to my husband's charge, which death I have bewept as sore as it was grievous to me, for that, albeit I showed myself harsh and cruel to him before his departure, yet neither his long absence nor his unhappy death hath availed to tear him from my heart.' Quoth the pilgrim, 'The hapless youth who is dead you never loved, but Tedaldo Elisei ay. But tell me, what was the occasion of your falling out with him? Did he ever give you any offence?' 'Certes, no,' replied she; 'he never offended against me; the cause of the breach was the prate of an accursed friar, to whom I once confessed me and who, when I told him of the love I bore Tedaldo and the privacy I had with him, made such a racket about my ears that I tremble yet to think of it, telling me that, an I desisted not therefrom, I should go in the devil's mouth to the deepest deep of hell and there be cast into everlasting fire; whereupon there entered into me such a fear that I altogether determined to forswear all further converse with him, and that I161 might have no occasion therefor, I would no longer receive his letters or messages; albeit I believe, had he persevered awhile, instead of getting him gone (as I presume) in despair, that, seeing him, as I did, waste away like snow in the sun, my harsh resolve would have yielded, for that I had no greater desire in the world.'
'Madam,' rejoined the pilgrim, 'it is this sin alone that now afflicteth you. I know for certain that Tedaldo did you no manner of violence; whenas you fell in love with him, you did it of your own free will, for that he pleased you; and as you yourself would have it, he came to you and enjoyed your privacy, wherein both with words and deeds you showed him such complaisance that, if he loved you before, you caused his love redouble a thousandfold. And this being so (as I know it was) what cause should have availed to move you so harshly to withdraw yourself from him? These things should be pondered awhile beforehand and if you think you may presently have cause to repent thereof, as of ill doing, you ought not to do them. You might, at your pleasure, have ordained of him, as of that which belonged to you, that he should no longer be yours; but to go about to deprive him of yourself, you who were his, was a theft and an unseemly thing, whenas it was not his will. Now you must know that I am a friar and am therefore well acquainted with all their usances; and if I speak somewhat at large of them for your profit, it is not forbidden me, as it were to another; nay, and it pleaseth me to speak of them, so you may henceforward know them better than you appear to have done in the past.
Friars of old were very pious and worthy men, but those who nowadays style themselves friars and would be held such have nothing of the monk but the gown; nor is this latter even that of a true friar, for that,—whereas of the founders of the monastic orders they were ordained strait and poor and of coarse stuff and demonstrative of the spirit of the wearers, who testified that they held things temporal in contempt whenas they wrapped their bodies in so mean a habit,—those of our time have them made full and double and glossy and of the finest cloth and have brought them to a quaint pontifical cut, insomuch that they think it no shame to flaunt it withal peacock-wise, in the churches and public places, even as do the laity with their apparel; and like as with the sweep-net the fisher goeth about to take many fishes in the river at one cast, even so these, wrapping themselves about with the amplest of skirts, study to entangle therein great store of prudish maids and widows and many other silly women and men, and this is their chief concern over any other exercise; wherefore, to speak more plainly, they have not the friar's gown, but only the colours thereof.
Moreover, whereas the ancients desired the salvation of mankind, those of our day covet women and riches and turn their every thought to terrifying the minds of the foolish with clamours162 and depicturements and to making believe that sins may be purged with almsdeeds and masses, to the intent that unto themselves (who, of poltroonery, not of devoutness, and that they may not suffer fatigue, have, as a last resort, turned friars) one may bring bread, another send wine and a third give them a dole of money for the souls of their departed friends. Certes, it is true that almsdeeds and prayers purge away sins; but, if those who give alms knew on what manner folks they bestow them, they would or keep them for themselves or cast them before as many hogs. And for that these know that, the fewer the possessors of a great treasure, the more they live at ease, every one of them studieth with clamours and bugbears to detach others from that whereof he would fain abide sole possessor. They decry lust in men, in order that, they who are chidden desisting from women, the latter may be left to the chiders; they condemn usury and unjust gains, to the intent that, it being entrusted to them to make restitution thereof, they may, with that which they declare must bring to perdition him who hath it, make wide their gowns and purchase bishopricks and other great benefices.
And when they are taken to task of these and many other unseemly things that they do, they think that to answer, "Do as we say and not as we do," is a sufficient discharge of every grave burden, as if it were possible for the sheep to be more constant and stouter to resist temptation than the shepherds. And how many there be of those to whom they make such a reply who apprehend it not after the fashion in which they say it, the most part of them know. The monks of our day would have you do as they say, to wit, fill their purses with money, trust your secrets to them, observe chastity, practise patience and forgiveness of injuries and keep yourselves from evil speaking,—all things good, seemly and righteous; but why would they have this? So they may do that, which if the laity did, themselves could not do. Who knoweth not that without money idleness may not endure? An thou expend thy monies in thy pleasures, the friar will not be able to idle it in the monastery; an thou follow after women, there will be no room for him, and except thou be patient or a forgiver of injuries, he will not dare to come to thy house to corrupt thy family. But why should I hark back after every particular? They condemn themselves in the eyes of the understanding as often as they make this excuse. An they believe not themselves able to abstain and lead a devout life, why do they not rather abide at home? Or, if they will e'en give themselves unto this, why do they not ensue that other holy saying163 of the Gospel, "Christ began to do and to teach?" Let them first do and after teach others. I have in my time seen a thousand of them wooers, lovers and haunters, not of lay women alone, but of nuns; ay, and of those that make the greatest outcry in the pulpit. Shall we, then, follow after these who are thus fashioned? Whoso doth it doth that which he will, but God knoweth if he do wisely.
But, granted even we are to allow that which the friar who chid you said to you, to wit, that it is a grievous sin to break the marriage vow, is it not a far greater sin to rob a man and a greater yet to slay him or drive him into exile, to wander miserably about the world? Every one must allow this. For a woman to have converse with a man is a sin of nature; but to rob him or slay him or drive him into exile proceedeth from malignity of mind. That you robbed Tedaldo I have already shown you, in despoiling him of yourself, who had become his of your spontaneous will, and I say also that, so far as in you lay, you slew him, for that it was none of your fault,—showing yourself, as you did, hourly more cruel,—that he slew not himself with his own hand; and the law willeth that whoso is the cause of the ill that is done be held alike guilty with him who doth it. And that you were the cause of his exile and of his going wandering seven years about the world cannot be denied. So that in whichever one of these three things aforesaid you have committed a far greater sin than in your converse with him.
But, let us see; maybe Tedaldo deserved this usage? Certes, he did not; you yourself have already confessed it, more by token that I know he loveth you more than himself. No woman was ever so honoured, so exalted, so magnified over every other of her sex as were you by him, whenas he found himself where he might fairly speak of you, without engendering suspicion. His every good, his every honour, his every liberty were all committed by him into your hands. Was he not noble and young? Was he not handsome among all his townsmen? Was he not accomplished in such things as pertain unto young men? Was he not loved, cherished and well seen of every one? You will not say nay to this either. Then how, at the bidding of a scurvy, envious numskull of a friar, could you take such a cruel resolve against him? I know not what error is that of women who eschew men and hold them in little esteem, whenas, considering what themselves are and what and how great is the nobility, beyond every other animal, given of God to man, they should rather glory whenas they are loved of any and prize him over all and study with all diligence to please him, so he may never desist from loving them. This how you did,164 moved by the prate of a friar, who must for certain have been some broth-swilling pasty-gorger, you yourself know; and most like he had a mind to put himself in the place whence he studied to expel others.
This, then, is the sin that Divine justice, the which with a just balance bringeth all its operations to effect, hath willed not to leave unpunished; and even as you without reason studied to withdraw yourself from Tedaldo, so on like wise hath your husband been and is yet, without reason, in peril for Tedaldo, and you in tribulation. Wherefrom an you would be delivered, that which it behoveth you to promise, and yet more to do, is this; that, should it ever chance that Tedaldo return hither from his long banishment, you will render him again your favour, your love, your goodwill and your privacy and reinstate him in that condition wherein he was, ere you foolishly hearkened to yonder crack-brained friar.'
The pilgrim having thus made an end of his discourse, the lady, who had hearkened thereto with the utmost attention, for that his arguments appeared to her most true and that, hearing him say, she accounted herself of a certainty afflicted for the sin of which he spoke, said, 'Friend of God, I know full well that the things you allege are true, and in great part by your showing do I perceive what manner of folk are these friars, whom till now I have held all saints. Moreover, I acknowledge my default without doubt to have been great in that which I wrought against Tedaldo; and an I might, I would gladly amend it on such wise as you have said; but how may this be done? Tedaldo can never more return hither; he is dead; wherefore I know not why it should behove me promise that which may not be performed.' 'Madam,' replied the pilgrim, 'according to that which God hath revealed unto me, Tedaldo is nowise dead, but alive and well and in good case, so but he had your favour.' Quoth the lady, 'Look what you say; I saw him dead before my door of several knife-thrusts and had him in these arms and bathed his dead face with many tears, the which it may be gave occasion for that which hath been spoken thereof unseemly.' 'Madam,' replied the pilgrim, 'whatever you may say, I certify you that Tedaldo is alive, and if you will e'en promise me that [which I ask,] with intent to fulfil your promise, I hope you shall soon see him.' Quoth she, 'That do I promise and will gladly perform; nor could aught betide that would afford me such content as to see my husband free and unharmed and Tedaldo alive.'
Thereupon it seemed to Tedaldo time to discover himself and to comfort the lady with more certain hope of her husband, and accordingly he said, 'Madam, in order that I may comfort you for your husband, it behoveth me reveal to you a secret, which look you discover not unto any, as you value your life.' Now they were in a very retired place and alone, the lady having conceived the utmost confidence of the sanctity which herseemed was in the pilgrim; wherefore Tedaldo, pulling out a ring, which she had given him the last night he had been with her and which he had kept with the utmost diligence, and showing it to her, said, 'Madam, know you this?' As soon as she saw it, she recognized it and answered, 'Ay, sir; I gave it to Tedaldo aforetime.' Whereupon the165 pilgrim, rising to his feet, hastily cast off his palmer's gown and hat and speaking Florence-fashion, said, 'And know you me?'
When the lady saw this, she knew him to be Tedaldo and was all aghast, fearing him as one feareth the dead, an they be seen after death to go as if alive; wherefore she made not towards him to welcome him as Tedaldo returned from Cyprus, but would have fled from him in affright, as he were Tedaldo come back from the tomb. Whereupon, 'Madam,' quoth he, 'fear not; I am your Tedaldo, alive and well, and have never died nor been slain, whatsoever you and my brothers may believe.' The lady, somewhat reassured and knowing his voice, considered him awhile longer and avouched in herself that he was certainly Tedaldo; wherefore she threw herself, weeping, on his neck and kissed him, saying, 'Welcome back, sweet my Tedaldo.'
Tedaldo, having kissed and embraced her, said, 'Madam, it is no time now for closer greetings; I must e'en go take order that Aldobrandino may be restored to you safe and sound; whereof I hope that, ere to-morrow come eventide, you shall hear news that will please you; nay, if, as I expect, I have good news of his safety, I trust this night to be able to come to you and report them to you at more leisure than I can at this present.' Then, donning his gown and hat again, he kissed the lady once more and bidding her be of good hope, took leave of her and repaired whereas Aldobrandino lay in prison, occupied more with fear of imminent death than with hopes of deliverance to come. Tedaldo, with the gaoler's consent, went in to him, in the guise of a ghostly comforter, and seating himself by his side, said to him, 'Aldobrandino, I am a friend of thine, sent thee for thy deliverance by God, who hath taken pity on thee because of thine innocence; wherefore, if, in reverence to Him, thou wilt grant me a little boon that I shall ask of thee, thou shalt without fail, ere to-morrow be night, whereas thou lookest for sentence of death, hear that of thine acquittance.'
'Honest man,' replied the prisoner, 'since thou art solicitous of my deliverance, albeit I know thee not nor mind me ever to have seen thee, needs must thou be a friend, as thou sayst. In truth, the sin, for which they say I am to be doomed to death, I never committed; though others enough have I committed aforetime, which, it may be, have brought me to this pass. But this I say to thee, of reverence to God; an He presently have compassion on me, I will not only promise, but gladly do any thing, however great, to say nothing of a little one; wherefore ask that which pleaseth thee, for without fail, if it come to pass that I escape with life, I will punctually perform it.' Then said the pilgrim, 'What I would have of thee is that thou pardon Tedaldo's four brothers the having brought thee to this pass, believing thee guilty of their brother's death, and have them again for brethren and for friends, whenas they crave thee pardon thereof.' Whereto quoth Aldobrandino, 'None knoweth but he who hath suffered the affront how sweet a thing is vengeance and with what ardour it is desired; nevertheless, so God may apply Himself to my deliverance, I will freely pardon them; nay, I pardon them now, and if I come off hence alive and escape, I will166 in this hold such course as shall be to thy liking.'
This pleased the pilgrim and without concerning himself to say more to him, he exhorted him to be of good heart, for that, ere the ensuing day came to an end, he should without fail hear very certain news of his safety. Then, taking leave of him, he repaired to the Seignory and said privily to a gentleman who was in session there, 'My lord, every one should gladly labour to bring to light the truth of things, and especially those who hold such a room as this of yours, to the end that those may not suffer the penalty who have not committed the crime and that the guilty may be punished; that which may be brought about, to your honour and the bane of those who have merited it, I am come hither to you. As you know, you have rigorously proceeded against Aldobrandino Palermini and thinking you have found for truth that it was he who slew Tedaldo Elisei, are minded to condemn him; but this is most certainly false, as I doubt not to show you, ere midnight betide, by giving into your hands the murderers of the young man in question.'
The worthy gentleman, who was in concern for Aldobrandino, willingly gave ear to the pilgrim's words and having conferred at large with him upon the matter, on his information, took the two innkeeper brothers and their servant, without resistance, in their first sleep. He would have put them to the question, to discover how the case stood; but they brooked it not and each first for himself, and after all together, openly confessed that it was they who had slain Tedaldo Elisei, knowing him not. Being questioned of the case, they said [that it was] for that he had given the wife of one of them sore annoy, what while they were abroad, and would fain have enforced her to do his will.
The pilgrim, having heard this, with the magistrate's consent took his leave and repairing privily to the house of Madam Ermellina, found her alone and awaiting him, (all else in the house being gone to sleep,) alike desirous of having good news of her husband and of fully reconciling herself with her Tedaldo. He accosted her with a joyful countenance and said, 'Dearest lady mine, be of good cheer, for to-morrow thou shalt certainly have thine Aldobrandino here again safe and sound'; and to give her more entire assurance thereof, he fully recounted to her that which he had done. Whereupon she, glad as ever woman was of two so sudden and so happy chances, to wit, the having her lover alive again, whom she verily believed to have bewept dead, and the seeing Aldobrandino free from peril, whose death she looked ere many days to have to mourn, affectionately embraced and kissed Tedaldo; then, getting them to bed together, with one accord they made a glad and gracious peace, taking delight and joyance one of the other. Whenas the day drew near, Tedaldo arose, after showing the lady that which he purposed to do and praying her anew to keep it a close secret, and went forth, even in his pilgrim's habit, to attend, whenas it should be time, to Aldobrandino's affairs. The day come, it appearing to the Seignory that they had full information of the matter, they straightway discharged Aldobrandino and a few days after let167 strike off the murderers' heads whereas they had committed the crime.
Aldobrandino being now, to the great joy of himself and his wife and of all his friends and kinsfolk, free and manifestly acknowledging that he owed his deliverance to the good offices of the pilgrim, carried the latter to his house for such time as it pleased him to sojourn in the city; and there they could not sate themselves of doing him honour and worship, especially the lady, who knew with whom she had to do. After awhile, deeming it time to bring his brothers to an accord with Aldobrandino and knowing that they were not only put to shame by the latter's acquittance, but went armed for fear [of his resentment,] he demanded of his host the fulfilment of his promise. Aldobrandino freely answered that he was ready, whereupon the pilgrim caused him prepare against the morrow a goodly banquet, whereat he told him he would have him and his kinsmen and kinswomen entertain the four brothers and their ladies, adding that he himself would go incontinent and bid the latter on his part to peace and his banquet. Aldobrandino consenting to all that liked the pilgrim, the latter forthright betook himself to the four brothers and plying them with store of such words as behoved unto the matter, in fine, with irrepugnable arguments, brought them easily enough to consent to regain Aldobrandino's friendship by asking pardon; which done, he invited them and their ladies to dinner with Aldobrandino next morning, and they, being certified of his good faith, frankly accepted the invitation.
Accordingly, on the morrow, towards dinner-time, Tedaldo's four brothers, clad all in black as they were, came, with sundry of their friends, to the house of Aldobrandino, who stayed for them, and there, in the presence of all who had been bidden of him to bear them company, cast down their arms and committed themselves to his mercy, craving forgiveness of that which they had wrought against him. Aldobrandino, weeping, received them affectionately, and kissing them all on the mouth, despatched the matter in a few words, remitting unto them every injury received. After them came their wives and sisters, clad all in sad-coloured raiment, and were graciously received by Madam Ermellina and the other ladies. Then were all, ladies and men alike, magnificently entertained at the banquet, nor was there aught in the entertainment other than commendable, except it were the taciturnity occasioned by the yet fresh sorrow expressed in the sombre raiment of Tedaldo's kinsfolk. Now on this account the pilgrim's device of the banquet had been blamed of some and he had observed it; wherefore, the time being come to do away with the constraint aforesaid, he rose to his feet, according as he had foreordained in himself, what while the rest still ate of the fruits, and said, 'Nothing hath lacked to this entertainment that should make it joyful, save only Tedaldo himself; whom (since having had him continually with you, you have not known him) I will e'en discover to you.'
So saying, he cast off his palmer's gown and all other his pilgrim's weeds and abiding in a jerkin of green sendal, was with no little amazement, long eyed and considered of all, ere any would venture to believe it was indeed he. Tedaldo, seeing this, recounted168 many particulars of the relations and things betided between them, as well as of his own adventures; whereupon his brethren and the other gentlemen present ran all to embrace him, with eyes full of joyful tears, as after did the ladies on like wise, as well strangers as kinswomen, except only Madam Ermellina. Which Aldobrandino seeing, 'What is this, Ermellina?' quoth he. 'Why dost thou not welcome Tedaldo, as do the other ladies?' Whereto she answered, in the hearing of all, 'There is none who had more gladly welcomed and would yet welcome him than myself, who am more beholden to him than any other woman, seeing that by his means I have gotten thee again; but the unseemly words spoken in the days when we mourned him whom we deemed Tedaldo made me refrain therefrom.' Quoth her husband, 'Go to; thinkest thou I believe in the howlers? He hath right well shown their prate to be false by procuring my deliverance; more by token that I never believed it. Quick, rise and go and embrace him.'
The lady, who desired nothing better, was not slow to obey her husband in this and accordingly, arising, embraced Tedaldo, as the other ladies had done, and gave him joyous welcome. This liberality of Aldobrandino was mighty pleasing to Tedaldo's brothers and to every man and woman there, and thereby all suspect that had been aroused in the minds of some by the words aforesaid was done away. Then, every one having given Tedaldo joy, he with his own hands rent the black clothes on his brothers' backs and the sad-coloured on those of his sisters and kinswomen and would have them send after other apparel, which whenas they had donned, they gave themselves to singing and dancing and other diversions galore; wherefore the banquet, which had had a silent beginning had a loud-resounding ending. Thereafter, with the utmost mirth, they one and all repaired, even as they were, to Tedaldo's house, where they supped that night, and on this wise they continued to feast several days longer.
The Florentines awhile regarded Tedaldo with amazement, as a man risen from the dead; nay, in many an one's mind, and even in that of his brethren, there abode a certain faint doubt an he were indeed himself and they did not yet thoroughly believe it, nor belike had they believed it for a long time to come but for a chance which made them clear who the murdered man was which was on this wise. There passed one day before their house certain footmen of Lunigiana, who, seeing Tedaldo, made towards him and said, 'Give you good day, Faziuolo.' Whereto Tedaldo in his brothers' presence answered, 'You mistake me.' The others, hearing him speak, were abashed and cried him pardon, saying, 'Forsooth you resemble, more than ever we saw one man favour another, a comrade of ours called Faziuolo of Pontremoli, who came hither some fortnight or more agone, nor169 could we ever since learn what is come of him. Indeed, we marvelled at the dress, for that he was a soldier, even as we are.' Tedaldo's elder brother, hearing this, came forward and enquired how this Faziuolo had been clad. They told him and it was found to have been punctually as they said; wherefore, what with these and what with other tokens, it was known for certain that he who had been slain was Faziuolo and not Tedaldo, and all doubt of the latter accordingly departed [the minds of] his brothers and of every other. Tedaldo, then, being returned very rich, persevered in his love and the lady falling out with him no more, they long, discreetly dealing, had enjoyment of their love. God grant us to enjoy ours!"
THE EIGHTH STORY
Day the Third
FERONDO, HAVING SWALLOWED A CERTAIN POWDER, IS ENTOMBED FOR DEAD AND BEING TAKEN FORTH OF THE SEPULCHRE BY THE ABBOT, WHO ENJOYETH HIS WIFE THE WHILE, IS PUT IN PRISON AND GIVEN TO BELIEVE THAT HE IS IN PURGATORY; AFTER WHICH, BEING RAISED UP AGAIN, HE REARETH FOR HIS OWN A CHILD BEGOTTEN OF THE ABBOT ON HIS WIFE
The end being come of Emilia's long story,—which had not withal for its length been unpleasing to any of the company, nay, but was held of all the ladies to have been briefly narrated, having regard to the number and diversity of the incidents therein recounted,—the queen, having with a mere sign intimated her pleasure to Lauretta, gave her occasion to begin thus: "Dearest ladies, there occurreth to me to tell you a true story which hath much more semblance of falsehood than of that which it indeed is and which hath been recalled to my mind by hearing one to have been bewept and buried for another. I purpose then, to tell you how a live man was entombed for dead and how after he and many other folk believed himself to have come forth of the sepulchre as one raised from the dead, by reason whereof he was adored as a saint who should rather have been condemned as a criminal.
There was, then, and yet is, in Tuscany, an abbey situate, like as we see many thereof, in a place not overmuch frequented of men, whereof a monk was made abbot, who was a very holy man in everything, save in the matter of women, and in this he contrived to do so warily that well nigh none, not to say knew, but even suspected him thereof, for that he was holden exceeding godly and just in everything. It chanced that a very wealthy farmer, by name Ferondo, contracted a great intimacy with him, a heavy, clodpate fellow and dull-witted beyond measure, whose commerce pleased the abbot but170 for that his simplicity whiles afforded him some diversion, and in the course of their acquaintance, the latter perceived that Ferondo had a very handsome woman to wife, of whom he became so passionately enamoured that he thought of nothing else day or night; but, hearing that, simple and shallow-witted as Ferondo was in everything else, he was shrewd enough in the matter of loving and guarding his wife, he well nigh despaired of her.
However, like a very adroit man as he was, he wrought on such wise with Ferondo that he came whiles, with his wife, to take his pleasance in the abbey-garden, and there he very demurely entertained them with discourse of the beatitude of the life eternal and of the pious works of many men and women of times past, insomuch that the lady was taken with a desire to confess herself to him and asked and had Ferondo's leave thereof. Accordingly, to the abbot's exceeding pleasure, she came to confess to him and seating herself at his feet, before she proceeded to say otherwhat, began thus: 'Sir, if God had given me a right husband or had given me none, it would belike be easy to me, with the help of your exhortations, to enter upon the road which you say leadeth folk unto life eternal; but I, having regard to what Ferondo is and to his witlessness, may style myself a widow, and yet I am married, inasmuch as, he living, I can have no other husband; and dolt as he is, he is without any cause, so out of all measure jealous of me that by reason thereof I cannot live with him otherwise than in tribulation and misery; wherefore, ere I come to other confession, I humbly beseech you, as most I may, that it may please you give me some counsel concerning this, for that, an the occasion of my well-doing begin not therefrom, confession or other good work will profit me little.'
This speech gave the abbot great satisfaction and himseemed fortune had opened him the way to his chief desire; wherefore, 'Daughter,' quoth he, 'I can well believe that it must be a sore annoy for a fair and dainty dame such as you are to have a blockhead to husband, but a much greater meseemeth to have a jealous man; wherefore, you having both the one and the other, I can lightly credit that which you avouch of your tribulation. But for this, speaking briefly, I see neither counsel nor remedy save one, the which is that Ferondo be cured of this jealousy. The medicine that will cure him I know very well how to make, provided you have the heart to keep secret that which I shall tell you.' 'Father mine,' answered the lady, 'have no fear of that, for I would liefer suffer death than tell any that which you bid me not repeat; but how may this be done?' Quoth the abbot, 'An we would have him cured, it behoveth of necessity that he go to purgatory.' 'But how,' asked she, 'can he go thither alive?' 'Needs must he die,' replied the abbot, 'and so go thither; and whenas he shall have suffered such penance as shall suffice to purge him of his jealousy, we will pray God, with certain orisons that he restore him to this life, and He will do it.' 'Then,' said the lady, 'I am to become a widow?' 'Ay,' answered the abbot, 'for a certain time, wherein you must look well you suffer not yourself to be married again, for that God would take it in ill part, and whenas Ferondo re171turned hither, it would behove you return to him and he would then be more jealous than ever.' Quoth she, 'Provided he be but cured of this calamity, so it may not behove me abide in prison all my life, I am content; do as it pleaseth you.' 'And I will do it,' rejoined he; 'but what guerdon am I to have of you for such a service?' 'Father,' answered the lady, 'you shall have whatsoever pleaseth you, so but it be in my power; but what can the like of me that may befit such a man as yourself?' 'Madam,' replied the abbot 'you can do no less for me than that which I undertake to do for you; for that, like as I am disposed to do that which is to be your weal and your solacement, even so can you do that which will be the saving and assainment of my life.' Quoth she, 'An it be so, I am ready.' 'Then,' said the abbot, 'you must give me your love and vouchsafe me satisfaction of yourself, for whom I am all afire with love and languishment.'
The lady, hearing this, was all aghast and answered, 'Alack, father mine, what is this you ask? Methought you were a saint. Doth it beseem holy men to require women, who come to them for counsel, of such things?' 'Fair my soul,' rejoined the abbot, 'marvel not, for that sanctity nowise abateth by this, seeing it hath its seat in the soul and that which I ask of you is a sin of the body. But, be that as it may, your ravishing beauty hath had such might that love constraineth me to do thus; and I tell you that you may glory in your charms over all other women, considering that they please holy men, who are used to look upon the beauties of heaven. Moreover, abbot though I be, I am a man like another and am, as you see, not yet old. Nor should this that I ask be grievous to you to do; nay, you should rather desire it, for that, what while Ferondo sojourneth in purgatory, I will bear you company by night and render you that solacement which he should give you; nor shall any ever come to know of this, for that every one believeth of me that, and more than that, which you but now believed of me. Reject not the grace that God sendeth you, for there be women enough who covet that which you may have and shall have, if, like a wise woman, you hearken to my counsel. Moreover, I have fair and precious jewels, which I purpose shall belong to none other than yourself. Do, then, for me, sweet my hope, that which I willingly do for you.'
The lady hung her head, knowing not how to deny him, whilst herseemed it were ill done to grant him what he asked; but the abbot, seeing that she hearkened and hesitated to reply and himseeming he had already half converted her, followed up his first words with many others and stayed not till he had persuaded her that she would do well to comply with him. Accordingly, she said, blushing, that she was ready to do his every commandment, but might not avail thereto till such time as Ferondo should be gone to purgatory; whereupon quoth the abbot, exceeding well pleased, 'And we will make shift to send him thither incontinent; do you but contrive that he come hither to-morrow or next day to sojourn with me.' So saying, he privily put a very172 handsome ring into her hand and dismissed her. The lady rejoiced at the gift and looking to have others, rejoined her companions, to whom she fell to relating marvellous things of the abbot's sanctity, and presently returned home with them.
A few days after Ferondo repaired to the abbey, whom, whenas the abbot saw, he cast about to send him to purgatory. Accordingly, he sought out a powder of marvellous virtue, which he had gotten in the parts of the Levant of a great prince who avouched it to be that which was wont to be used of the Old Man of the Mountain, whenas he would fain send any one, sleeping, into his paradise or bring him forth thereof, and that, according as more or less thereof was given, without doing any hurt, it made him who took it sleep more or less [time] on such wise that, whilst its virtue lasted, none would say he had life in him. Of this he took as much as might suffice to make a man sleep three days and putting it in a beaker of wine, that was not yet well cleared, gave it to Ferondo to drink in his cell, without the latter suspecting aught; after which he carried him into the cloister and there with some of his monks fell to making sport of him and his dunceries; nor was it long before, the powder working, Ferondo was taken with so sudden and overpowering a drowsiness, that he slumbered as yet he stood afoot and presently fell down fast asleep.
The abbot made a show of being concerned at this accident and letting untruss him, caused fetch cold water and cast it in his face and essay many other remedies of his fashion, as if he would recall the strayed life and senses from [the oppression of] some fumosity of the stomach or what not like affection that had usurped them. The monks, seeing that for all this he came not to himself and feeling his pulse, but finding no sign of life in him, all held it for certain that he was dead. Accordingly, they sent to tell his wife and his kinsfolk, who all came thither forthright, and the lady having bewept him awhile with her kinswomen, the abbot caused lay him, clad as he was, in a tomb; whilst the lady returned to her house and giving out that she meant never to part from a little son, whom she had had by her husband, abode at home and occupied herself with the governance of the child and of the wealth which had been Ferondo's. Meanwhile, the abbot arose stealthily in the night and with the aid of a Bolognese monk, in whom he much trusted and who was that day come thither from Bologna, took up Ferondo out of the tomb and carried him into a vault, in which there was no light to be seen and which had been made for prison of such of the monks as should make default in aught. There they pulled off his garments and clothing him monk-fashion, laid him on a truss of straw and there left him against he should recover his senses, whilst the173 Bolognese monk, having been instructed by the abbot of that which he had to do, without any else knowing aught thereof, proceeded to await his coming to himself.
On the morrow, the abbot, accompanied by sundry of his monks, betook himself, by way of visitation, to the house of the lady, whom he found clad in black and in great tribulation, and having comforted her awhile, he softly required her of her promise. The lady, finding herself free and unhindered of Ferondo or any other and seeing on his finger another fine ring, replied that she was ready and appointed him to come to her that same night. Accordingly, night come, the abbot, disguised in Ferondo's clothes and accompanied by the monk his confidant, repaired thither and lay with her in the utmost delight and pleasance till the morning, when he returned to the abbey. After this he very often made the same journey on a like errand and being whiles encountered, coming or going, of one or another of the villagers, it was believed he was Ferondo who went about those parts, doing penance; by reason whereof many strange stories were after bruited about among the simple countryfolk, and this was more than once reported to Ferondo's wife, who well knew what it was.
As for Ferondo, when he recovered his senses and found himself he knew not where, the Bolognese monk came in to him with a horrible noise and laying hold of him, gave him a sound drubbing with a rod he had in his hand. Ferondo, weeping and crying out, did nought but ask, 'Where am I?' To which the monk answered, 'Thou art in purgatory.' 'How?' cried Ferondo. 'Am I then dead?' 'Ay, certes,' replied the other; whereupon Ferondo fell to bemoaning himself and his wife and child, saying the oddest things in the world. Presently the monk brought him somewhat of meat and drink, which Ferondo seeing, 'What!' cried he. 'Do the dead eat?' 'Ay do they,' answered the monk. 'This that I bring thee is what the woman, thy wife that was, sent this morning to the church to let say masses for thy soul, and God the Lord willeth that it be made over to thee.' Quoth Ferondo, 'God grant her a good year! I still cherished her ere I died, insomuch that I held her all night in mine arms and did nought but kiss her, and t' other thing also I did, when I had a mind thereto.' Then, being very sharp-set, he fell to eating and drinking and himseeming the wine was not overgood, 'Lord confound her!' quoth he. 'Why did not she give the priest wine of the cask against the wall?'
After he had eaten, the monk laid hold of him anew and gave him another sound beating with the same rod; whereat Ferondo roared out lustily and said, 'Alack, why dost thou this to me?' Quoth the monk, 'Because thus hath God the Lord ordained that it be done unto thee twice every day.' 'And for what cause?' asked Ferondo. 'Because,' answered the monk, 'thou wast jealous, having the best woman in the country to wife.' 'Alas!' said Ferondo. 'Thou sayst sooth, ay, and the kindest creature; she was sweeter than syrup; but I knew not that God the Lord held it for ill that a man should be jealous; else had I not been so.' Quoth the monk, 'Thou shouldst have bethought thyself of that, whenas thou wast there174 below, and have amended thee thereof; and should it betide that thou ever return thither, look thou so have in mind that which I do unto thee at this present that thou be nevermore jealous.' 'What?' said Ferondo. 'Do the dead ever return thither?' 'Ay,' answered the monk; 'whom God willeth.' 'Marry,' cried Ferondo, 'and I ever return thither, I will be the best husband in the world; I will never beat her nor give her an ill word, except it be anent the wine she sent hither this morning and for that she sent no candles, so it behoved me to eat in the dark.' 'Nay,' said the monk, 'she sent candles enough, but they were all burnt for the masses.' 'True,' rejoined Ferondo; 'and assuredly, an I return thither, I will let her do what she will. But tell me, who art thou that usest me thus?' Quoth the monk, 'I also am dead. I was of Sardinia and for that aforetime I much commended a master of mine of being jealous, I have been doomed of God to this punishment, that I must give thee to eat and drink and beat thee thus, till such time as God shall ordain otherwhat of thee and of me.' Then said Ferondo, 'Is there none here other than we twain?' 'Ay,' answered the monk, 'there be folk by the thousands; but thou canst neither see nor hear them, nor they thee.' Quoth Ferondo, 'And how far are we from our own countries?' 'Ecod,' replied the other, 'we are distant thence more miles than we can well cack at a bout.' 'Faith,' rejoined the farmer, 'that is far enough; meseemeth we must be out of the world, an it be so much as all that.'
In such and the like discourse was Ferondo entertained half a score months with eating and drinking and beating, what while the abbot assiduously visited the fair lady, without miscarriage, and gave himself the goodliest time in the world with her. At last, as ill-luck would have it, the lady found herself with child and straightway acquainted the abbot therewith, wherefore it seemed well to them both that Ferondo should without delay be recalled from purgatory to life and return to her, so she might avouch herself with child by him. Accordingly, the abbot that same night caused call to Ferondo in prison with a counterfeit voice, saying, 'Ferondo, take comfort, for it is God's pleasure that thou return to the world, where thou shalt have a son by thy wife, whom look thou name Benedict, for that by the prayers of thy holy abbot and of thy wife and for the love of St. Benedict He doth thee this favour.' Ferondo, hearing this, was exceedingly rejoiced and said, 'It liketh me well, Lord grant a good year to Seignior God Almighty and to the abbot and St. Benedict and my cheesy sweet honey wife.' The abbot let give him, in the wine that he sent him, so much of the powder aforesaid as should cause him sleep maybe four hours and with the aid of his monk, having put his own clothes on him, restored him175 privily to the tomb wherein he had been buried.
Next morning, at break of day, Ferondo came to himself and espying light,—a thing which he had not seen for good ten months,—through some crevice of the tomb, doubted not but he was alive again. Accordingly, he fell to bawling out, 'Open to me! Open to me!' and heaving so lustily at the lid of the tomb with his head that he stirred it, for that it was eath to move, and had begun to move it away, when the monks, having now made an end of saying matins, ran thither and knew Ferondo's voice and saw him in act to come forth of the sepulchre; whereupon, all aghast for the strangeness of the case, they took to their heels and ran to the abbot, who made a show of rising from prayer and said, 'My sons, have no fear; take the cross and the holy water and follow after me, so we may see that which God willeth to show forth to us of His might'; and as he said, so he did.
Now Ferondo was come forth of the sepulchre all pale, as well might he be who had so long abidden without seeing the sky. As soon as he saw the abbot, he ran to cast himself at his feet and said, 'Father mine, according to that which hath been revealed to me, your prayers and those of St. Benedict and my wife have delivered me from the pains of purgatory and restored me to life, wherefore I pray God to give you a good year and good calends now and always.' Quoth the abbot, 'Praised be God His might! Go, my son, since He hath sent thee back hither; comfort thy wife, who hath been still in tears, since thou departedst this life, and henceforth be a friend and servant of God.' 'Sir,' replied Ferondo, 'so hath it indeed been said to me; only leave me do; for, as soon as I find her, I shall buss her, such goodwill do I bear her.'
The abbot, left alone with his monks, made a great show of wonderment at this miracle and caused devoutly sing Miserere therefor. As for Ferondo, he returned to his village, where all who saw him fled, as men use to do from things frightful; but he called them back and avouched himself to be raised up again. His wife on like wise feigned to be adread of him; but, after the folk were somewhat reassured anent him and saw that he was indeed alive, they questioned him of many things, and he, as it were he had returned wise, made answer to all and gave them news of the souls of their kinsfolk, making up, of his own motion, the finest fables in the world of the affairs of purgatory and recounting in full assembly the revelation made him by the mouth of the Rangel Bragiel ere he was raised up again. Then, returning to his house and entering again into possession of his goods, he got his wife, as he thought, with child, and by chance it befell that, in due time,—to the thinking of the fools who believe that women go just nine months with child,—the lady gave birth to a boy, who was called Benedict Ferondi.
Ferondo's return and his talk, well nigh every one believing him to have risen from the dead, added infinitely to the renown of the abbot's sanctity, and he himself, as if cured of his jealousy by the many beatings he had received therefor, thenceforward, according to the promise made by the abbot to the lady, was no more jealous; whereat she was well pleased and lived honestly with him, as of her wont, save indeed that, whenas she conveniently might, she willingly foregathered with the holy abbot, who had so well and diligently served her in her greatest needs."
THE NINTH STORY
Day the Third
GILLETTE DE NARBONNE RECOVERETH THE KING OF FRANCE OF A FISTULA AND DEMANDETH FOR HER HUSBAND BERTRAND DE ROUSSILLON, WHO MARRIETH HER AGAINST HIS WILL AND BETAKETH HIM FOR DESPITE TO FLORENCE, WHERE, HE PAYING COURT TO A YOUNG LADY, GILLETTE, IN THE PERSON OF THE LATTER, LIETH WITH HIM AND HATH BY HIM TWO SONS; WHEREFORE AFTER, HOLDING HER DEAR, HE ENTERTAINETH HER FOR HIS WIFE
Lauretta's story being now ended, it rested but with the queen to tell, an she would not infringe upon Dioneo's privilege; wherefore, without waiting to be solicited by her companions, she began all blithesomely to speak thus: "Who shall tell a story that may appear goodly, now we have heard that of Lauretta? Certes, it was well for us that hers was not the first, for that few of the others would have pleased after it, as I misdoubt me will betide of those which are yet to tell this day. Natheless, be that as it may, I will e'en recount to you that which occurreth to me upon the proposed theme.
There was in the kingdom of France a gentleman called Isnard, Count of Roussillon, who, for that he was scant of health, still entertained about his person a physician, by name Master Gerard de Narbonne. The said count had one little son, and no more, hight Bertrand, who was exceeding handsome and agreeable, and with him other children of his own age were brought up. Among these latter was a daughter of the aforesaid physician, by name Gillette, who vowed to the said Bertrand an infinite love and fervent more than pertained unto her tender years. The count dying and leaving his son in the hands of the king, it behoved him betake himself to Paris, whereof the damsel abode sore disconsolate, and her own father dying no great while after, she would fain, an she might have had a seemly occasion, have gone to Paris to see Bertrand: but, being177 straitly guarded, for that she was left rich and alone, she saw no honourable way thereto; and being now of age for a husband and having never been able to forget Bertrand, she had, without reason assigned, refused many to whom her kinsfolk would have married her.
Now it befell that, what while she burned more than ever for love of Bertrand, for that she heard he was grown a very goodly gentleman, news came to her how the King of France, by an imposthume which he had had in his breast and which had been ill tended, had gotten a fistula, which occasioned him the utmost anguish and annoy, nor had he yet been able to find a physician who might avail to recover him thereof, albeit many had essayed it, but all had aggravated the ill; wherefore the king, despairing of cure, would have no more counsel nor aid of any. Hereof the young lady was beyond measure content and bethought herself that not only would this furnish her with a legitimate occasion of going to Paris, but that, should the king's ailment be such as she believed, she might lightly avail to have Bertrand to husband. Accordingly, having aforetime learned many things of her father, she made a powder of certain simples useful for such an infirmity as she conceived the king's to be and taking horse, repaired to Paris.
Before aught else she studied to see Bertrand and next, presenting herself before the king, she prayed him of his favour to show her his ailment. The king, seeing her a fair and engaging damsel, knew not how to deny her and showed her that which ailed him. Whenas she saw it, she was certified incontinent that she could heal it and accordingly said, 'My lord, an it please you, I hope in God to make you whole of this your infirmity in eight days' time, without annoy or fatigue on your part.' The king scoffed in himself at her words, saying, 'That which the best physicians in the world have availed not neither known to do, how shall a young woman know?' Accordingly, he thanked her for her good will and answered that he was resolved no more to follow the counsel of physicians. Whereupon quoth the damsel, 'My lord, you make light of my skill, for that I am young and a woman; but I would have you bear in mind that I medicine not of mine own science, but with the aid of God and the science of Master Gerard de Narbonne, who was my father and a famous physician whilst he lived.'
The king, hearing this, said in himself, 'It may be this woman is sent me of God; why should I not make proof of her knowledge, since she saith she will, without annoy of mine, cure me in little time?' Accordingly, being resolved to essay her, he said, 'Damsel, and if you cure us not, after causing us break our resolution, what will you have ensue to you therefor?' 'My lord,' answered she, 'set a guard upon me and if I cure you not within eight days, let burn me alive; but, if I cure you, what reward shall I have?' Quoth the king, 'You seem as yet unhusbanded; if you do this, we will marry you well and worshipfully.' 'My lord,' replied the young lady, 'I am well pleased that you should marry me, but I will have a husband such as I shall ask of you, excepting always any one of your sons or of the royal house.' He readily promised her that which she sought,178 whereupon she began her cure and in brief, before the term limited, she brought him back to health.
The king, feeling himself healed, said, 'Damsel, you have well earned your husband'; whereto she answered, 'Then, my lord, I have earned Bertrand de Roussillon, whom I began to love even in the days of my childhood and have ever since loved over all.' The king deemed it a grave matter to give him to her; nevertheless, having promised her and unwilling to fail of his faith, he let call the count to himself and bespoke him thus: 'Bertrand, you are now of age and accomplished [in all that behoveth unto man's estate]; wherefore it is our pleasure that you return to govern your county and carry with you a damsel, whom we have given you to wife.' 'And who is the damsel, my lord?' asked Bertrand; to which the king answered, 'It is she who hath with her medicines restored to us our health.'
Bertrand, who had seen and recognized Gillette, knowing her (albeit she seemed to him very fair) to be of no such lineage as sorted with his quality, said all disdainfully, 'My lord, will you then marry me to a she-leach? Now God forbid I should ever take such an one to wife!' 'Then,' said the king, 'will you have us fail of our faith, the which, to have our health again, we pledged to the damsel, who in guerdon thereof demanded you to husband?' 'My lord,' answered Bertrand, 'you may, an you will, take from me whatsoever I possess or, as your liegeman, bestow me upon whoso pleaseth you; but of this I certify you, that I will never be a consenting party unto such a marriage.' 'Nay,' rejoined the king, 'but you shall, for that the damsel is fair and wise and loveth you dear; wherefore we doubt not but you will have a far happier life with her than with a lady of higher lineage.' Bertrand held his peace and the king let make great preparations for the celebration of the marriage.
The appointed day being come, Bertrand, sore against his will, in the presence of the king, espoused the damsel, who loved him more than herself. This done, having already determined in himself what he should do, he sought leave of the king to depart, saying he would fain return to his county and there consummate the marriage; then, taking horse, he repaired not thither, but betook himself into Tuscany, where, hearing that the Florentines were at war with those of Sienna, he determined to join himself to the former, by whom he was joyfully received and made captain over a certain number of men-at-arms; and there, being well provided of them, he abode a pretty while in their service.
The newly-made wife, ill content with such a lot, but hoping by her fair dealing to recall him to his county, betook herself to Roussillon, where she was received of all as their liege lady. There, finding everything waste and disordered for the long time that the179 land had been without a lord, with great diligence and solicitude, like a discreet lady as she was, she set all in order again, whereof the count's vassals were mightily content and held her exceeding dear, vowing her a great love and blaming the count sore for that he accepted not of her. The lady, having thoroughly ordered the county, notified the count thereof by two knights, whom she despatched to him, praying him that, an it were on her account he forbore to come to his county, he should signify it to her and she, to pleasure him, would depart thence; but he answered them very harshly, saying, 'For that, let her do her pleasure; I, for my part, will return thither to abide with her, whenas she shall have this my ring on her finger and in her arms a son by me begotten.' Now the ring in question he held very dear and never parted with it, by reason of a certain virtue which it had been given him to understand that it had.
The knights understood the hardship of the condition implied in these two well nigh impossible requirements, but, seeing that they might not by their words avail to move him from his purpose, they returned to the lady and reported to her his reply; whereat she was sore afflicted and determined, after long consideration, to seek to learn if and where the two things aforesaid might be compassed, to the intent that she might, in consequence, have her husband again. Accordingly, having bethought herself what she should do, she assembled certain of the best and chiefest men of the county and with plaintive speech very orderly recounted to them that which she had already done for love of the count and showed them what had ensued thereof, adding that it was not her intent that, through her sojourn there, the count should abide in perpetual exile; nay, rather she purposed to spend the rest of her life in pilgrimages and works of mercy and charity for her soul's health; wherefore she prayed them take the ward and governance of the county and notify the count that she had left him free and vacant possession and had departed the country, intending nevermore to return to Roussillon. Many were the tears shed by the good folk, whilst she spoke, and many the prayers addressed to her that it would please her change counsel and abide there; but they availed nought. Then, commending them to God, she set out upon her way, without telling any whither she was bound, well furnished with monies and jewels of price and accompanied by a cousin of hers and a chamberwoman, all in pilgrims' habits, and stayed not till she came to Florence, where, chancing upon a little inn, kept by a decent widow woman, she there took up her abode and lived quietly, after the fashion of a poor pilgrim, impatient to hear news of her lord.
It befell, then, that on the morrow of her arrival she saw Bertrand pass before her lodging, a-horseback with his company, and albeit she knew him full well, natheless she asked the good woman of the inn who he was. The hostess answered, 'That is a stranger gentleman, who calleth himself Count Bertrand, a pleasant man and a courteous and much loved in this city; and he is the most enamoured man in the world of a she-neighbour of ours, who is a gentlewoman, but poor. Sooth to say, she is a very virtuous damsel and180 abideth, being yet unmarried for poverty, with her mother, a very good and discreet lady, but for whom, maybe, she had already done the count's pleasure.' The countess took good note of what she heard and having more closely enquired into every particular and apprehended all aright, determined in herself how she should do.
Accordingly, having learned the house and name of the lady whose daughter the count loved, she one day repaired privily thither in her pilgrim's habit and finding the mother and daughter in very poor case, saluted them and told the former that, an it pleased her, she would fain speak with her alone. The gentlewoman, rising, replied that she was ready to hearken to her and accordingly carried her into a chamber of hers, where they seated themselves and the countess began thus, 'Madam, meseemeth you are of the enemies of Fortune, even as I am; but, an you will, belike you may be able to relieve both yourself and me.' The lady answered that she desired nothing better than to relieve herself by any honest means; and the countess went on, 'Needs must you pledge me your faith, whereto an I commit myself and you deceive me, you will mar your own affairs and mine.' 'Tell me anything you will in all assurance,' replied the gentlewoman; 'for never shall you find yourself deceived of me.'
Thereupon the countess, beginning with her first enamourment, recounted to her who she was and all that had betided her to that day after such a fashion that the gentlewoman, putting faith in her words and having, indeed, already in part heard her story from others, began to have compassion of her. The countess, having related her adventures, went on to say, 'You have now, amongst my other troubles, heard what are the two things which it behoveth me have, an I would have my husband, and to which I know none who can help me, save only yourself, if that be true which I hear, to wit, that the count my husband is passionately enamoured of your daughter.' 'Madam,' answered the gentlewoman, 'if the count love my daughter I know not; indeed he maketh a great show thereof. But, an it be so, what can I do in this that you desire?' 'Madam,' rejoined the countess, 'I will tell you; but first I will e'en show you what I purpose shall ensue thereof to you, an you serve me. I see your daughter fair and of age for a husband and according to what I have heard, meseemeth I understand the lack of good to marry her withal it is that causeth you keep her at home. Now I purpose, in requital of the service you shall do me, to give her forthright of mine own monies such a dowry as you yourself shall deem necessary to marry her honorably.'
The mother, being needy, was pleased with the offer; algates, having the spirit of a gentlewoman, she said, 'Madam, tell me what I can do for you; if it consist with my honour, I will willingly do it, and you shall after do that which shall please you.' Then said the countess, 'It behoveth me that you let tell the count my husband by some one in whom you trust, that your daughter is ready to do his every pleasure, so she may but be certified that he loveth her as he pretendeth, the which she will never believe, except he send her the ring which he carrieth on his finger and by which she hath heard he setteth such181 store. An he send you the ring, you must give it to me and after send to him to say that your daughter is ready do his pleasure; then bring him hither in secret and privily put me to bed to him in the stead of your daughter. It may be God will vouchsafe me to conceive and on this wise, having his ring on my finger and a child in mine arms of him begotten, I shall presently regain him and abide with him, as a wife should abide with her husband, and you will have been the cause thereof.'
This seemed a grave matter to the gentlewoman, who feared lest blame should haply ensue thereof to her daughter; nevertheless, bethinking her it were honourably done to help the poor lady recover her husband and that she went about to do this to a worthy end and trusting in the good and honest intention of the countess, she not only promised her to do it, but, before many days, dealing with prudence and secrecy, in accordance with the latter's instructions, she both got the ring (albeit this seemed somewhat grievous to the count) and adroitly put her to bed with her husband, in the place of her own daughter. In these first embracements, most ardently sought of the count, the lady, by God's pleasure, became with child of two sons, as her delivery in due time made manifest. Nor once only, but many times, did the gentlewoman gratify the countess with her husband's embraces, contriving so secretly that never was a word known of the matter, whilst the count still believed himself to have been, not with his wife, but with her whom he loved; and whenas he came to take leave of a morning, he gave her, at one time and another, divers goodly and precious jewels, which the countess laid up with all diligence.
Then, feeling herself with child and unwilling to burden the gentlewoman farther with such an office, she said to her, 'Madam, thanks to God and you, I have gotten that which I desired, wherefore it is time that I do that which shall content you and after get me gone hence.' The gentlewoman answered that, if she had gotten that which contented her, she was well pleased, but that she had not done this of any hope of reward, nay, for that herseemed it behoved her to do it, an she would do well. 'Madam,' rejoined the countess, 'that which you say liketh me well and so on my part I purpose not to give you that which you shall ask of me by way of reward, but to do well, for that meseemeth behoveful so to do.' The gentlewoman, then, constrained by necessity, with the utmost shamefastness, asked her an hundred pounds to marry her daughter withal; but the countess, seeing her confusion and hearing her modest demand, gave her five hundred and so many rare and precious jewels as were worth maybe as much more. With this the gentlewoman was far more than satisfied and rendered the countess the best thanks in her power; whereupon the latter, taking leave of her, returned to the inn, whilst the other, to deprive Bertrand of all farther occasion of coming or sending to her house, removed with her daughter into the country to the house of one of her kinsfolk, and he, being a little after recalled by his vassals and hearing that the countess had departed the country, returned to his own house.
The countess, hearing that he had de182parted Florence and returned to his county, was mightily rejoiced and abode at Florence till her time came to be delivered, when she gave birth to two male children, most like their father, and let rear them with all diligence. Whenas it seemed to her time, she set out and came, without being known of any, to Montpellier, where having rested some days and made enquiry of the count and where he was, she learned that he was to hold a great entertainment of knights and ladies at Roussillon on All Saints' Day and betook herself thither, still in her pilgrim's habit that she was wont to wear. Finding the knights and ladies assembled in the count's palace and about to sit down to table, she went up, with her children in her arms and without changing her dress, into the banqueting hall and making her way between man and man whereas she saw the count, cast herself at his feet and said, weeping, 'I am thine unhappy wife, who, to let thee return and abide in thy house, have long gone wandering miserably about the world. I conjure thee, in the name of God, to accomplish unto me thy promise upon the condition appointed me by the two knights I sent thee; for, behold, here in mine arms is not only one son of thine, but two, and here is thy ring. It is time, then, that I be received of thee as a wife, according to thy promise.'
The count, hearing this, was all confounded and recognized the ring and the children also, so like were they to him; but yet he said, 'How can this have come to pass?' The countess, then, to his exceeding wonderment and that of all others who were present, orderly recounted that which had passed and how it had happened; whereupon the count, feeling that she spoke sooth and seeing her constancy and wit and moreover two such goodly children, as well for the observance of his promise as to pleasure all his liegemen and the ladies, who all besought him thenceforth to receive and honour her as his lawful wife, put off his obstinate despite and raising the countess to her feet, embraced her and kissing her, acknowledged her for his lawful wife and those for his children. Then, letting clothe her in apparel such as beseemed her quality, to the exceeding joyance of as many as were there and of all other his vassals who heard the news, he held high festival, not only all that day, but sundry others, and from that day forth still honoured her as his bride and his wife and loved and tendered her over all."
THE TENTH STORY
Day the Third
ALIBECH, TURNING HERMIT, IS TAUGHT BY RUSTICO, A MONK, TO PUT THE DEVIL IN HELL, AND BEING AFTER BROUGHT AWAY THENCE, BECOMETH NEERBALE HIS WIFE
Dioneo, who had diligently hearkened to the queen's story, seeing that it was ended and that it rested with him alone to tell, without awaiting commandment, smilingly began to speak as follows: "Charming ladies, maybe you have never heard tell how one putteth the devil in hell; wherefore,183 without much departing from the tenor of that whereof you have discoursed all this day, I will e'en tell it you. Belike, having learned it, you may catch the spirit thereof and come to know that, albeit Love sojourneth liefer in jocund palaces and luxurious chambers than in the hovels of the poor, yet none the less doth he whiles make his power felt midmost thick forests and rugged mountains and in desert caverns; whereby it may be understood that all things are subject to his puissance.
To come, then, to the fact, I say that in the city of Capsa in Barbary there was aforetime a very rich man, who, among his other children, had a fair and winsome young daughter, by name Alibech. She, not being a Christian and hearing many Christians who abode in the town mightily extol the Christian faith and the service of God, one day questioned one of them in what manner one might avail to serve God with the least hindrance. The other answered that they best served God who most strictly eschewed the things of the world, as those did who had betaken them into the solitudes of the deserts of Thebais. The girl, who was maybe fourteen years old and very simple, moved by no ordered desire, but by some childish fancy, set off next morning by stealth and all alone, to go to the desert of Thebais, without letting any know her intent. After some days, her desire persisting, she won, with no little toil, to the deserts in question and seeing a hut afar off, went thither and found at the door a holy man, who marvelled to see her there and asked her what she sought. She replied that, being inspired of God, she went seeking to enter into His service and was now in quest of one who should teach her how it behoved to serve Him.
The worthy man, seeing her young and very fair and fearing lest, an he entertained her, the devil should beguile him, commended her pious intent and giving her somewhat to eat of roots of herbs and wild apples and dates and to drink of water, said to her, 'Daughter mine, not far hence is a holy man, who is a much better master than I of that which thou goest seeking; do thou betake thyself to him'; and put her in the way. However, when she reached the man in question, she had of him the same answer and faring farther, came to the cell of a young hermit, a very devout and good man, whose name was Rustico and to whom she made the same request as she had done to the others. He, having a mind to make a trial of his own constancy, sent her not away, as the others had done, but received her into his cell, and the night being come, he made her a little bed of palm-fronds and bade her lie down to rest thereon. This done, temptations tarried not to give battle to his powers of resistance and he, finding himself grossly deceived by these latter, turned tail, without awaiting many assaults, and confessed himself beaten; then, laying aside devout thoughts and orisons and mortifications, he fell to revolving in his memory the youth and beauty of the damsel and bethinking himself what course he should take with her, so as to win to184 that which he desired of her, without her taking him for a debauched fellow.
Accordingly, having sounded her with sundry questions, he found that she had never known man and was in truth as simple as she seemed; wherefore he bethought him how, under colour of the service of God, he might bring her to his pleasures. In the first place, he showeth her with many words how great an enemy the devil was of God the Lord and after gave her to understand that the most acceptable service that could be rendered to God was to put back the devil into hell, whereto he had condemned him. The girl asked him how this might be done; and he, 'Thou shalt soon know that; do thou but as thou shalt see me do.' So saying, he proceeded to put off the few garments he had and abode stark naked, as likewise did the girl, whereupon he fell on his knees, as he would pray, and caused her abide over against himself.
E cosí stando, essendo Rustico, piú che mai, nel suo disidero acceso, per lo vederla cosí bella, venue la resurrezion della carne; la quale riguardando Alibech, e maravigliatasti, disse: Rustico, quella che cosa è, che io ti veggio, che cosí si pigne in fuori, e non l' ho io? O figliuola mia, disse Rustico, questo è il diavolo, di che io t'ho parlato, e vedi tu ora: egli mi dà grandissima molestia, tanta, che io appena la posso sofferire. Allora disse la giovane. O lodato sia Iddio, ché io veggio, che io sto meglio, che non stai tu, ché io non ho cotesto diavolo io. Disse Rustico, tu di vero; ma tu hai un' altra cosa, che non l'ho io, et haila in iscambio di questo. Disse Alibech: O che? A cui Rustico disse: Hai l'inferno; e dicoti, che io mi credo, che Dio t'abbia qui mandata per la salute dell' anima mia; perciòche, se questo diavolo pur mi darà questa noia, ove tu cogli aver di me tanta pietà, e sofferire, che io in inferno il rimetta; tu mi darai grandissima consolazione, et a Dio farai grandissimo piacere, e servigio; se tu per quello fare in queste parti venuta se; che tu di. La giovane di buona fede rispose O padre mio, poscia che io ho l'inferno, sia pure quando vi piacerà mettervi il diavolo. Disse allora Rustico: Figliuola mia benedetta sia tu: andiamo dunque, e rimettiamlovi sí, che egli poscia mi lasci stare. E cosí detto, menate la giovane sopra uno de' loro letticelli, le 'nsegnò, come star si dovesse a dover incarcerare quel maladetto da Dio. La giovane, che mai piú non aveva in inferno messo diavolo alcuno, per la prima volta sentí un poco di noia; perché ella disse a Rustico.
Per certo, padre mio, mala cosa dee essere questo diavolo, e veramente nimico di Iddio ché ancora all'inferno, non che altrui duole quando, egli v'è dentro rimesso. Disse Rustico: Figliuola, egli non averrà sempre cosí: e per fare, che questo non avvenisse, da sei volte anziche di su il letticel si movesero, ve 'l rimisero; tantoche per quella volta gli trasser sí la superbia del capo, che egli si stette volentieri in pace. Ma ritornatagli poi nel seguente tempo piú volte, e la giovane ubbidente185 sempre a trargliela si disponesse, avvenne, che il giuoco le cominciò a piacere; e cominciò a dire a Rustico. Ben veggio, che il ver dicevano que valenti uomini in Capsa, che il servire a Dio era cosí dolce cosa, e per certo io non mi ricordo, che mai alcuna altra ne facessi, che di tanto diletto, e piacere mi fosse, quanto è il rimettere il diavolo in inferno; e perciò giudico ogn' altra persona, che ad altro che a servire a Dio attende, essere una bestia. Per la qual cosa essa spesse volte andava a Rustico, e gli diceva. Padre mio, io son qui venuta per servire a Dio, e non per istare oziosa; andiamo a rimittere il diavolo in inferno. La qual cosa faccendo, diceva ella alcuna volta. Rustico, io non so perché il diavolo si fugga di ninferno, ché s' egli vi stesse cosí volentiere, come l'inferno il riceve, e tiene; agli non sene uscirebbe mai. Cosí adunque invitando spesso la giovane Rustico, et al servigio di Dio confortandolo, se la bambagia del farsetto tratta gli avea, che egli a talora sentiva freddo, che un' altro sarebbe sudato; e perciò egli incominciò a dire alla giovane, che il diavolo non era da gastigare, né da rimettere in inferno, se non quando egli per superbia levasse il capo; e noi, per la grazia, di Dio, l'abbiamo sí sgannato, che egla priega Iddio di starsi in pace: e cosí alquanto impose di silenzio alla giovane. La qual, poiche vide che Rustico non la richiedeva a dovere il diavolo rimittere in inferno, gli disse un giorno. Rustico, se il diavolo tuo è gastigato, e piú non ti dà noia me il mio ninferno non lascia stare: perché tu farai bene, che tu col tuo diavolo aiuti ad attutare la rabbia al mio inferno; come io col mio ninferno ho ajutato a trarre la superbia al tuo diavolo.
Transcriber's Note: The following is a 1903 translation of this passage by J.M. Rigg (from Project Gutenberg Etext No. 3726):
Whereupon Rustico, seeing her so fair, felt an accession of desire, and therewith came an insurgence of the flesh, which Alibech marking with surprise, said:—"Rustico, what is this, which I see thee have, that so protrudes, and which I have not?" "Oh! my daughter," said Rustico, "'tis the Devil of whom I have told thee: and, seest thou? he is now tormenting me most grievously, insomuch that I am scarce able to hold out." Then:—"Praise be to God," said the girl, "I see that I am in better case than thou, for no such Devil have I." "Sooth sayst thou," returned Rustico; "but instead of him thou hast somewhat else that I have not." "Oh!" said Alibech, "what may that be?" "Hell," answered Rustico: "and I tell thee, that 'tis my belief that God has sent thee hither for the salvation of my soul; seeing that, if this Devil shall continue to plague me thus, then, so thou wilt have compassion on me and permit me to put him in hell, thou wilt both afford me great and exceeding great solace, and render to God an exceeding most acceptable service, if, as thou sayst, thou art come into these parts for such a purpose." In good faith the girl made answer:—"As I have hell to match your Devil, be it, my father, as and when you will." Whereupon:—"Bless thee, my daughter," said Rustico, "go we then, and put him there, that he leave me henceforth in peace." Which said, he took the girl to one of the beds and taught her the posture in which she must lie in order to incarcerate this spirit accursed of God. The girl, having never before put any devil in hell, felt on this first occasion a twinge of pain: wherefore she said to Rustico:—
"Of a surety, my father, he must be a wicked fellow, this devil, and in very truth a foe to God; for there is sorrow even in hell—not to speak of other places—when he is put there." "Daughter," said Rustico, "'twill not be always so." And for better assurance thereof they put him there six times before they quitted the bed; whereby they so thoroughly abased his pride that he was fain to be quiet. However, the proud fit returning upon him from time to time, and the girl addressing herself always obediently to its reduction, it so befell that she began to find the game agreeable, and would say to Rustico:—"Now see I plainly that 'twas true, what the worthy men said at Capsa, of the service of God being so delightful: indeed I cannot remember that in aught that ever I did I had so much pleasure, so much solace, as in putting the Devil in hell; for which cause I deem it insensate folly on the part of any one to have a care to aught else than the service of God." Wherefore many a time she would come to Rustico, and say to him:—"My father, 'twas to serve God that I came hither, and not to pass my days in idleness: go we then, and put the Devil in hell." And while they did so, she would now and again say:—"I know not, Rustico, why the Devil should escape from hell; were he but as ready to stay there as hell is to receive and retain him, he would never come out of it." So, the girl thus frequently inviting and exhorting Rustico to the service of God, there came at length a time when she had so thoroughly lightened his doublet that he shivered when another would have sweated; wherefore he began to instruct her that the Devil was not to be corrected and put in hell, save when his head was exalted with pride; adding, "and we by God's grace have brought him to so sober a mind that he prays God he may be left in peace;" by which means he for a time kept the girl quiet. But when she saw that Rustico had no more occasion for her to put the Devil in hell, she said to him one day:—"Rustico, if thy Devil is chastened and gives thee no more trouble, my hell, on the other hand, gives me no peace; wherefore, I with my hell have holpen thee to abase the pride of thy Devil, so thou wouldst do well to lend me the aid of thy Devil to allay the fervent heat of my hell."
Rustico, who lived on roots and water, could ill avail to answer her calls and told her that it would need overmany devils to appease hell, but he would do what he might thereof. Accordingly he satisfied her bytimes, but so seldom it was but casting a bean into the lion's mouth; whereas the girl, herseeming she served not God as diligently as she would fain have done, murmured somewhat. But, whilst this debate was toward between Rustico his devil and Alibech her hell, for overmuch desire on the one part and lack of power on the other, it befell that a fire broke out in Capsa and burnt Alibech's father in his own house, with as many children and other family as he had; by reason whereof she abode heir to all his good. Thereupon, a young man called Neerbale, who had spent all his substance in gallantry, hearing that she was alive, set out in search of her and finding her, before the court had laid hands upon her father's estate, as that of a man dying without heir, to Rustico's great satisfaction, but against her own will, brought her back to Capsa, where he took her to wife and succeeded, in her right, to the ample inheritance of her father.
There, being asked by the women at what she served God in the desert, she answered (Neerbale having not yet lain with her) that she served Him at putting the devil in hell and that Neerbale had done a grievous sin in that he had taken her from such service. The ladies asked, 'How putteth one the devil in186 hell?' And the girl, what with words and what with gestures, expounded it to them; whereat they set up so great a laughing that they laugh yet and said, 'Give yourself no concern, my child; nay, for that is done here also and Neerbale will serve our Lord full well with thee at this.' Thereafter, telling it from one to another throughout the city, they brought it to a common saying there that the most acceptable service one could render to God was to put the devil in hell, which byword, having passed the sea hither, is yet current here. Wherefore do all you young ladies, who have need of God's grace, learn to put the devil in hell, for that this is highly acceptable to Him and pleasing to both parties and much good may grow and ensue thereof."
A thousand times or more had Dioneo's story moved the modest ladies to laughter, so quaint and comical did his words appear to them; then, whenas he had made an end thereof, the queen, knowing the term of her sovranty to be come, lifted the laurel from her head and set it merrily on that of Filostrato, saying: "We shall presently see if the wolf will know how to govern the ewes better than the ewes have governed the wolves." Filostrato, hearing this, said, laughing, "An I were hearkened to, the wolves had taught the ewes to put the devil in hell, no worse than Rustico taught Alibech; wherefore do ye not style us wolven, since you yourselves have not been ewen. Algates, I will govern the kingdom committed to me to the best of my power." "Harkye, Filostrato," rejoined Neifile, "in seeking to teach us, you might have chanced to learn sense, even as did Masetto of Lamporecchio of the nuns, and find your tongue what time your bones should have learnt to whistle without a master."
Filostrato, finding that he still got a Roland for his Oliver, gave over pleasantry and addressed himself to the governance of the kingdom committed to him. Wherefore, letting call the seneschal, he was fain to know at what point things stood all and after discreetly ordained that which he judged would be well and would content the company for such time as his seignory should endure. Then, turning to the ladies, "Lovesome ladies," quoth he, "since I knew good from evil, I have, for my ill fortune, been still subject unto Love for the charms of one or other of you; nor hath humility neither obedience, no, nor the assiduous ensuing him in all his usances, in so far as it hath been known of me, availed me but that first I have been abandoned for another and after have still gone from bad to worse; and so I believe I shall fare unto my death; wherefore it pleaseth me that it be discoursed to-morrow of none other matter than that which is most conformable to mine own case, to wit, OF THOSE WHOSE LOVES HAVE HAD UNHAPPY ENDING, for that I in the long run look for a most unhappy [issue to mine own]; nor was the name by which you call me conferred on me for otherwhat187 by such an one who knew well what it meant." So saying, he rose to his feet and dismissed every one until supper-time.
The garden was so goodly and so delightsome that there was none who elected to go forth thereof, in the hope of finding more pleasance elsewhere. Nay, the sun, now grown mild, making it nowise irksome to give chase to the fawns and kids and rabbits and other beasts which were thereabout and which, as they sat, had come maybe an hundred times to disturb them by skipping through their midst, some addressed themselves to pursue them. Dioneo and Fiammetta fell to singing of Messer Guglielmo and the Lady of Vergiu, whilst Filomena and Pamfilo sat down to chess; and so, some doing one thing and some another, the time passed on such wise that the hour of supper came well nigh unlooked for; whereupon, the tables being set round about the fair fountain, they supped there in the evening with the utmost delight.
As soon as the tables were taken away, Filostrato, not to depart from the course holden of those who had been queens before him, commanded Lauretta to lead up a dance and sing a song. "My lord," answered she, "I know none of other folk's songs, nor have I in mind any of mine own which should best beseem so joyous a company; but, an you choose one of those which I have, I will willingly sing it." Quote the king, "Nothing of thine can be other than goodly and pleasing; wherefore sing us such as thou hast." Lauretta, then, with a sweet voice enough, but in a somewhat plaintive style, began thus, the other ladies answering:
No maid disconsolate
Hath cause as I, alack!
Who sigh for love in vain, to mourn her fate.
He who moves heaven and all the stars in air
Made me for His delight
Lovesome and sprightly, kind and debonair,
E'en here below to give each lofty spright
Some inkling of that fair
That still in heaven abideth in His sight;
But erring men's unright,
Ill knowing me, my worth
Accepted not, nay, with dispraise did bate.
Erst was there one who held me dear and fain
Took me, a youngling maid,
Into his arms and thought and heart and brain,
Caught fire at my sweet eyes; yea time, unstayed
Of aught, that flits amain
And lightly, all to wooing me he laid.
I, courteous, nought gainsaid
And held him worthy me;
188But now, woe's me, of him I'm desolate.
Then unto me there did himself present
A youngling proud and haught,
Renowning him for valorous and gent;
He took and holds me and with erring thought
To jealousy is bent;
Whence I, alack! nigh to despair am wrought,
As knowing myself,—brought
Into this world for good
Of many an one,—engrossed of one sole mate.
The luckless hour I curse, in very deed,
When I, alas! said yea,
Vesture to change,—so fair in that dusk wede
I was and glad, whereas in this more gay
A weary life I lead,
Far less than erst held honest, welaway!
Ah, dolorous bridal day,
Would God I had been dead
Or e'er I proved thee in such ill estate!
O lover dear, with whom well pleased was I
Whilere past all that be,—
Who now before Him sittest in the sky
Who fashioned us,—have pity upon me
Who cannot, though I die,
Forget thee for another; cause me see
The flame that kindled thee
For me lives yet unquenched
And my recall up thither impetrate.
Here Lauretta made an end of her song, wherein, albeit attentively followed of all, she was diversely apprehended of divers persons, and there were those who would e'en understand, Milan-fashion, that a good hog was better than a handsome wench; but others were of a loftier and better and truer apprehension, whereof it booteth not to tell at this present. Thereafter the king let kindle store of flambeaux upon the grass and among the flowers and caused sing divers other songs, until every star began to decline, that was above the horizon, when, deeming it time for sleep, he bade all with a good night betake themselves to their chambers.
HERE ENDETH THE THIRD DAY
OF THE DECAMERON