The Decameron

Day the Fourth

Here Beginneth the Fourth Day of the Decameron Wherein Under the Governance of Filostrato Is Discoursed of Those Whose Loves Have Had Unhappy Endings

Dearest ladies, as well by words of wise men heard as by things many a time both seen and read of myself, I had conceived that the boisterous and burning blast of envy was apt to smite none but lofty towers or the highest summits of the trees; but I find myself mistaken in my conceit, for that, fleeing, as I have still studied to flee, from the cruel onslaught of that raging wind, I have striven to go, not only in the plains, but in the very deepest of the valleys, as many manifestly enough appear to whoso considereth these present stories, the which have been written by me, not only in vulgar Florentine and in prose and without [author's] name, but eke in as humble and sober a style as might be. Yet for all this have I not availed to escape being cruelly shaken, nay, well nigh uprooted, of the aforesaid wind and all torn of the fangs of envy; wherefore I can very manifestly understand that to be true which the wise use to say, to wit, that misery alone in things present is without envy.[212]

There are then, discreet ladies, some who, reading these stories, have said that you please me overmuch and that it is not a seemly thing that I should take so much delight in pleasuring and solacing you; and some have said yet worse of commending you as I do. Others, making a show of wishing to speak more maturely, have said that it sorteth ill with mine age henceforth to follow after things of this kind, to wit, to discourse of women or to study to please them. And many, feigning themselves mighty tender of my repute, avouch that I should do more wisely to abide with the Muses on Parnassus than to busy myself among you with these toys. Again, there be some who, speaking more despitefully than advisedly, have said that I should do more discreetly to consider whence I might get me bread than to go peddling after these baubles, feeding upon wind; and certain others, in disparagement of my pains, study to prove the things recounted by me to have been otherwise than as I present them to you.

With such, then, and so many blusterings,[213] such atrocious backbitings, such needle-pricks, noble ladies, am I, what while I battle in your service, baffled and buffeted and transfixed even to the quick. The which things, God knoweth, I hear and apprehend with an untroubled mind; and albeit my defence in this pertaineth altogether unto you, natheless, I purpose not to spare mine own pains; nay, without answering so much [at large] as it might behove, I mean to rid mine ears of them with190 some slight rejoinder, and that without delay; for that if even now, I being not yet come to[214] the third part of my travail, they[215] are many and presume amain, I opine that, ere I come to the end thereof, they may, having had no rebuff at the first, on such wise be multiplied that with whatsoever little pains of theirs they might overthrow me, nor might your powers, great though they be, avail to withstand this.

But, ere I come to make answer to any of them, it pleaseth me, in mine own defence, to relate, not an entire story,—lest it should seem I would fain mingle mine own stories with those of so commendable a company as that which I have presented to you,—but a part of one,—that so its very default [of completeness] may attest that it is none of those,—and accordingly, speaking to my assailants, I say that in our city, a good while agone, there was a townsman, by name Filippo Balducci, a man of mean enough extraction, but rich and well addressed and versed in such matters as his condition comported. He had a wife, whom he loved with an exceeding love, as she him, and they lived a peaceful life together, studying nothing so much as wholly to please one another. In course of time it came to pass, as it cometh to pass of all, that the good lady departed this life and left Filippo nought of herself but one only son, begotten of him and maybe two years old. Filippo for the death of his lady abode as disconsolate as ever man might, having lost a beloved one, and seeing himself left alone and forlorn of that company which most he loved, he resolved to be no more of the world, but to give himself altogether to the service of God and do the like with his little son. Wherefore, bestowing all his good for the love of God,[216] he repaired without delay to the top of Mount Asinajo, where he took up his abode with his son in a little hut and there living with him upon alms, in the practice of fasts and prayers, straitly guarded himself from discoursing whereas the boy was, of any temporal thing, neither suffered him see aught thereof, lest this should divert him from the service aforesaid, but still bespoke him of the glories of life eternal and of God and the saints, teaching him nought but pious orisons; and in this way of life he kept him many years, never suffering him go forth of the hermitage nor showing him aught other than himself.

Now the good man was used to come whiles into Florence, where being succoured, according to his occasions, of the friends of God, he returned to his hut, and it chanced one day that, his son being now eighteen years old and Filippo an old man, the lad asked him whither he went. Filippo told him and the boy said, "Father mine, you are now an old man and can ill endure fatigue; why do you not whiles carry me to Florence and bring me to know the friends and devotees of God and yourself, to the end that I, who am young and better able to toil than you, may after, whenas it pleaseth you, go to Florence for our occasions, whilst you abide here?" The worthy man, considering that his son was now grown to man's estate and thinking him so in191ured to the service of God that the things of this world might thenceforth uneath allure him to themselves, said in himself, "The lad saith well"; and accordingly, having occasion to go thither, he carried him with him. There the youth, seeing the palaces, the houses, the churches and all the other things whereof one seeth all the city full, began, as one who had never to his recollection beheld the like, to marvel amain and questioned his father of many things what they were and how they were called. Filippo told him and he, hearing him, abode content and questioned of somewhat else.

As they went thus, the son asking and the father answering, they encountered by chance a company of pretty and well-dressed young women, coming from a wedding, whom as soon as the young man saw, he asked his father what manner of things these were. "My son," answered Filippo, "cast your eyes on the ground and look not at them, for that they are an ill thing." Quoth the son, "And how are they called?" The father, not to awaken in the lad's mind a carnal appetite less than useful, would not name them by the proper name, to wit, women, but said, "They are called green geese." Whereupon, marvellous to relate, he who have never seen a woman and who recked not of palaces nor oxen nor horses nor asses nor monies nor of aught else he had seen, said suddenly, "Father mine, I prithee get me one of these green geese." "Alack, my son," replied the father, "hold they peace; I tell thee they are an ill thing." "How!" asked the youth. "Are ill things then made after this fashion?" and Filippo answered, "Ay." Then said the son, "I know not what you would say nor why these are an ill thing; for my part, meseemeth I never yet saw aught goodly or pleasing as are these. They are fairer than the painted angels you have shown me whiles. For God's sake, an you reck of me, contrive that we may carry one of yonder green geese back with us up yonder, and I will give it to eat." "Nay," answered the father, "I will not: thou knowest not whereon they feed." And he understood incontinent that nature was stronger than his wit and repented him of having brought the youth to Florence. But I will have it suffice me to have told this much of the present story and return to those for whose behoof I have related it.

Some, then, of my censurers say that I do ill, young ladies, in studying overmuch to please you and that you please me overmuch. Which things I do most openly confess, to wit, that you please me and that I study to please you, and I ask them if they marvel thereat,—considering (let be the having known the dulcet kisses and amorous embracements and delightsome couplings that are of you, most sweet ladies, often gotten) only my having seen and still seeing your dainty manners and lovesome beauty and sprightly grace and above all your womanly courtesy,—whenas he who had been reared and bred on a wild and solitary mountain and within the bounds of a little cell, without other company than his father, no sooner set eyes on you than you alone were desired of him, you alone sought, you alone followed with the eagerness of passion. Will they, then, blame me, back bite me, rend me with192 their tongues if I, whose body Heaven created all apt to love you, I, who from my childhood vowed my soul to you, feeling the potency of the light of your eyes and the sweetness of your honeyed words and the flame enkindled by your piteous sighs,—if, I say, you please me or if I study to please you, seeing that you over all else pleased a hermitling, a lad without understanding, nay, rather, a wild animal? Certes, it is only those, who, having neither sense nor cognizance of the pleasures and potency of natural affection, love you not nor desire to be loved of you, that chide me thus; and of these I reck little.

As for those who go railing anent mine age, it would seem they know ill that, for all the leek hath a white head, the tail thereof is green. But to these, laying aside pleasantry, I answer that never, no, not to the extreme limit of my life, shall I repute it to myself for shame to seek to please those whom Guido Cavalcanti and Dante Alighieri, when already stricken in years, and Messer Cino da Pistoja, when a very old man, held in honour and whose approof was dear to them. And were it not to depart from the wonted usance of discourse, I would cite history in support and show it to be all full of stories of ancient and noble men who in their ripest years have still above all studied to please the ladies, the which an they know not, let them go learn. That I should abide with the Muses on Parnassus, I confess to be good counsel; but, since we can neither abide for ever with the Muses, nor they with us, it is nothing blameworthy if, whenas it chanceth a man is parted from them, he take delight in seeing that which is like unto them. The muses are women, and albeit women may not avail to match with them, yet at first sight they have a semblance of them; insomuch that, an they pleased me not for aught else, for this they should please me; more by token that women have aforetime been to me the occasion of composing a thousand verses, whereas the Muses never were to me the occasion of making any. They aided me, indeed, and showed me how to compose the verses in question; and peradventure, in the writing of these present things, all lowly though they be, they have come whiles to abide with me, in token maybe and honour of the likeness that women bear to them; wherefore, in inditing these toys, I stray not so far from Mount Parnassus nor from the Muses as many belike conceive.

But what shall we say to those who have such compassion on my hunger that they counsel me provide myself bread? Certes, I know not, save that, whenas I seek to imagine in myself what would be their answer, an I should of necessity beseech them thereof, to wit, of bread, methinketh they would reply, "Go seek it among thy fables." Indeed, aforetime poets have found more thereof among their fables than many a rich man among his treasures, and many, following after their fables, have caused their age to flourish; whereas, on the contrary, many, in seeking to have more bread than they needed, have perished miserably. What more [shall I say?] Let them drive me forth, whenas I ask it of them, not that, Godamercy, I have yet need thereof; and even should need betide, I know with the Apostle Paul both how to193 abound and suffer need;[217] wherefore let none be more careful of me than I am of myself. For those who say that these things have not been such as I have here set them down, I would fain have them produce the originals, and an these latter accord not with that of which I write, I will confess their objection for just and will study to amend myself; but till otherwhat than words appeareth, I will leave them to their opinion and follow mine own, saying of them that which they say of me.

Wherefore, deeming that for the nonce I have answered enough, I say that, armed, as I hope to be, with God's aid and yours, gentlest ladies, and with fair patience, I will fare on with this that I have begun, turning my back to the wind aforesaid and letting it blow, for that I see not that aught can betide me other than that which betideth thin dust, the which a whirlwind, whenas it bloweth, either stirreth not from the earth, or, an it stir it, carrieth it aloft and leaveth it oftentimes upon the heads of men and upon the crowns of kings and emperors, nay, bytimes upon high palaces and lofty towers, whence an it fall, it cannot go lower than the place wherefrom it was uplifted. And if ever with all my might I vowed myself to seek to please you in aught, now more than ever shall I address myself thereto; for that I know none can with reason say otherwhat than that I and others who love you do according to nature, whose laws to seek to gainstand demandeth overgreat strength, and oftentimes not only in vain, but to the exceeding hurt of whoso striveth to that end, is this strength employed. Such strength I confess I have not nor ever desired in this to have; and an I had it, I had liefer lend it to others than use it for myself. Wherefore, let the carpers be silent and an they avail not to warm themselves, let them live star-stricken[218] and abiding in their delights—or rather their corrupt appetites,—leave me to abide in mine for this brief life that is appointed me. But now, fair ladies, for that we have strayed enough, needs must we return whence we set out and ensue the ordinance commenced.

The sun had already banished every star from the sky and had driven from the earth the humid vapours of the night, when Filostrato, arising, caused all his company arise and with them betook himself to the fair garden, where they all proceeded to disport themselves, and the eating-hour come, they dined whereas they had supped on the foregoing evening. Then, after having slept, what time the sun was at its highest, they seated themselves, after the wonted fashion, hard by the fair fountain, and Filostrato bade Fiammetta give beginning to the story-telling; whereupon, without awaiting further commandment, she began with womanly grace as follows:



Day the Fourth


"Our king hath this day appointed us a woeful subject of discourse, considering that, whereas we came hither to make merry, needs must we tell of others' tears, the which may not be recounted without moving both those who tell and those who hearken to compassion thereof. He hath mayhap done this somedele to temper the mirth of the foregoing days; but, whatsoever may have moved him thereto, since it pertaineth not to me to change his pleasure, I will relate a piteous chance, nay, an ill-fortuned and a worthy of your tears.

Tancred, Lord of Salerno, was a humane prince and benign enough of nature, (had he not in his old age imbrued his hands in lover's blood,) who in all the course of his life had but one daughter, and happier had he been if he had none. She was of him as tenderly loved as ever daughter of father, and knowing not, by reason of this his tender love for her, how to part with her, he married her not till she had long overpassed the age when she should have had a husband. At last, he gave her to wife to a son of the Duke of Capua, with whom having abidden a little while, she was left a widow and returned to her father. Now she was most fair of form and favour, as ever was woman, and young and sprightly and learned perchance more than is required of a lady. Abiding, then, with her father in all ease and luxury, like a great lady as she was, and seeing that, for the love he bore her, he recked little of marrying her again, nor did it seem to her a seemly thing to require him thereof, she bethought herself to seek, an it might be, to get her privily a worthy lover. She saw men galore, gentle and simple, frequent her father's court, and considering the manners and fashions of many, a young serving-man of her father's, Guiscardo by name, a man of humble enough extraction, but nobler of worth and manners than whatsoever other, pleased her over all and of him, seeing him often, she became in secret ardently enamoured, approving more and more his fashions every hour; whilst the young man, who was no dullard, perceiving her liking for him, received her into his heart, on such wise that his mind was thereby diverted from well nigh everything other than the love of her.

Each, then, thus secretly tendering the other, the young lady, who desired nothing so much as to foregather with him, but had no mind to make any one a confidant of her passion, bethought herself of a rare device to apprize him of the means; to wit, she wrote him a letter, wherein she showed him how he should do to foregather with her on the ensuing day, and placing it in the hollow of a cane, gave the letter jestingly to Guiscardo, saying, 'Make thee a bellows thereof for thy serving-maid, wherewith she may blow up the fire to-night.' Guiscardo took the cane and bethinking himself that she would not195 have given it him nor spoken thus, without some cause, took his leave and returned therewith to his lodging. There he examined the cane and seeing it to be cleft, opened it and found therein the letter, which having read and well apprehended that which he had to do, he was the joyfullest man alive and set about taking order how he might go to her, according to the fashion appointed him of her.

There was, beside the prince's palace, a grotto hewn out of the rock and made in days long agone, and to this grotto some little light was given by a tunnel[219] by art wrought in the mountain, which latter, for that the grotto was abandoned, was well nigh blocked at its mouth with briers and weeds that had overgrown it. Into this grotto one might go by a privy stair which was in one of the ground floor rooms of the lady's apartment in the palace and which was shut in by a very strong door. This stair was so out of all folk's minds, for that it had been unused from time immemorial, that well nigh none remembered it to be there; but Love, to whose eyes there is nothing so secret but it winneth, had recalled it to the memory of the enamoured lady, who, that none should get wind of the matter, had laboured sore many days with such tools as she might command, ere she could make shift to open the door; then, going down alone thereby into the grotto and seeing the tunnel, she sent to bid Guiscardo study to come to her thereby and acquainted him with the height which herseemed should be from the mouth thereof to the ground.

To this end Guiscardo promptly made ready a rope with certain knots and loops, whereby he might avail to descend and ascend, and donning a leathern suit, that might defend him from the briers, he on the ensuing night repaired, without letting any know aught of the matter, to the mouth of the tunnel. There making one end of the rope fast to a stout tree-stump that had grown up in the mouth, he let himself down thereby into the grotto and there awaited the lady, who, on the morrow, feigning a desire to sleep, dismissed her women and shut herself up alone in her chamber; then, opening the privy door, she descended into the grotto, where she found Guiscardo. They greeted one another with marvellous joy and betook themselves to her chamber, where they abode great part of the day in the utmost delight; and after they had taken order together for the discreet conduct of their loves, so they might abide secret, Guiscardo returned to the grotto, whilst she shut the privy door and went forth to her women. The night come, Guiscardo climbed up by his rope to the mouth of the tunnel and issuing forth whence he had entered in, returned to his lodging; and having learned this road, he in process of time returned many times thereafter.

But fortune, jealous of so long and so great a delight, with a woeful chance changed the gladness of the two lovers into mourning and sorrow; and it befell on this wise. Tancred was wont to come bytimes all alone into his daughter's chamber and there abide with her and converse awhile and after go away. Accordingly, one day, after dinner, he came thither, what time the lady (whose name was Ghismonda) was in a garden of hers with all her women, and willing196 not to take her from her diversion, he entered her chamber, without being seen or heard of any. Finding the windows closed and the curtains let down over the bed, he sat down in a corner on a hassock at the bedfoot and leant his head against the bed; then, drawing the curtain over himself, as if he had studied to hide himself there, he fell asleep. As he slept thus, Ghismonda, who, as ill chance would have it, had appointed her lover to come thither that day, softly entered the chamber, leaving her women in the garden, and having shut herself in, without perceiving that there was some one there, opened the secret door to Guiscardo, who awaited her. They straightway betook themselves to bed, as of their wont, and what while they sported and solaced themselves together, it befell that Tancred awoke and heard and saw that which Guiscardo and his daughter did; whereat beyond measure grieved, at first he would have cried out at them, but after bethought himself to keep silence and abide, an he might, hidden, so with more secrecy and less shame to himself he might avail to do that which had already occurred to his mind.

The two lovers abode a great while together, according to their usance, without observing Tancred, and coming down from the bed, whenas it seemed to them time, Guiscardo returned to the grotto and she departed the chamber; whereupon Tancred, for all he was an old man, let himself down into the garden by a window and returned, unseen of any, to his own chamber, sorrowful unto death. That same night, at the time of the first sleep, Guiscardo, by his orders, was seized by two men, as he came forth of the tunnel, and carried secretly, trussed as he was in his suit of leather, to Tancred, who, whenas he saw him, said, well nigh weeping, 'Guiscardo, my kindness to thee merited not the outrage and the shame thou hast done me in mine own flesh and blood, as I have this day seen with my very eyes.' Whereto Guiscardo answered nothing but this, 'Love can far more than either you or I.' Tancred then commanded that he should be kept secretly under guard and in one of the chambers of the palace, and so was it done.

On the morrow, having meanwhile revolved in himself many and divers devices, he betook himself, after eating, as of his wont, to his daughter's chamber and sending for the lady, who as yet knew nothing of these things, shut himself up with her and proceeded, with tears in his eyes, to bespeak her thus: 'Ghismonda, meseemed I knew thy virtue and thine honesty, nor might it ever have occurred to my mind, though it were told me, had I not seen it with mine own eyes, that thou wouldst, even so much as in thought, have abandoned thyself to any man, except he were thy husband; wherefore in this scant remnant of life that my eld reserveth unto me, I shall still abide sorrowful, remembering me of this. Would God, an thou must needs stoop to such wantonness, thou hadst taken a man sortable to thy quality! But, amongst so many who frequent my court, thou hast chosen Guiscardo, a youth of the meanest condition, reared in our court, well nigh of charity, from a little child up to this day; wherefore thou hast put me in sore travail of mind, for that I know not what course to take with thee. With Guiscardo, whom I caused take197 yesternight, as he issued forth of the tunnel and have in ward, I am already resolved how to deal; but with thee God knoweth I know not what to do. On one side love draweth me, which I still borne thee more than father ever bore daughter, and on the other most just despite, conceived for thine exceeding folly; the one would have me pardon thee, the other would have me, against my nature, deal harshly by thee. But ere I come to a decision, I would fain hear what thou hast to say to this.' So saying, he bowed his head and wept sore as would a beaten child.

Ghismonda, hearing her father's words and seeing that not only was her secret love discovered, but Guiscardo taken, felt an inexpressible chagrin and came many a time near upon showing it with outcry and tears, as women mostly do; nevertheless, her haughty soul overmastering that weakness, with marvellous fortitude she composed her countenance and rather than proffer any prayer for herself, determined inwardly to abide no more on life, doubting not but her Guiscardo was already dead. Wherefore, not as a woman rebuked and woeful for her default, but as one undaunted and valiant, with dry eyes and face open and nowise troubled, she thus bespoke her father: 'Tancred, I purpose neither to deny nor to entreat, for that the one would profit me nothing nor would I have the other avail me; more by token that I am nowise minded to seek to render thy mansuetude and thine affection favourable to me, but rather, confessing the truth, first with true arguments to vindicate mine honour and after with deeds right resolutely to ensue the greatness of my soul. True is it I have loved and love Guiscardo, and what while I live, which will be little, I shall love him, nor, if folk live after death, shall I ever leave loving him; but unto this it was not so much my feminine frailty that moved me as thy little solicitude to remarry me and his own worth.

It should have been manifest to thee, Tancred, being as thou art flesh and blood, that thou hadst begotten a daughter of flesh and blood and not of iron or stone; and thou shouldst have remembered and should still remember, for all thou art old, what and what like are the laws of youth and with what potency they work; nor, albeit thou, being a man, hast in thy best years exercised thyself in part in arms, shouldst thou the less know what ease and leisure and luxury can do in the old, to say nothing of the young. I am, then, as being of thee begotten, of flesh and blood and have lived so little that I am yet young and (for the one and the other reason) full of carnal desire, whereunto the having aforetime, by reason of marriage, known what pleasure it is to give accomplishment to such desire hath added marvellous strength. Unable, therefore, to withstand the strength of my desires, I addressed myself, being young and a woman, to ensue that whereto they prompted me and became enamoured. And certes in this I set my every faculty to the endeavouring that, so far as in me lay, no shame should ensue either to thee or to me through this to which natural frailty moved me. To this end compassionate Love and favouring Fortune found and showed me a very occult way, whereby, unknown of any, I won to my desire, and this, whoever it be198 discovered it to thee or howsoever thou knowest it, I nowise deny.

Guiscardo I took not at hazard, as many women do; nay, of deliberate counsel I chose him before every other and with advisement prepense drew him to me[220] and by dint of perseverance and discretion on my part and on his, I have long had enjoyment of my desire. Whereof it seemeth that thou, ensuing rather vulgar prejudice than truth, reproachest me with more bitterness than of having sinned by way of love, saying (as if thou shouldst not have been chagrined, had I chosen therefor a man of gentle birth,) that I have committed myself with a man of mean condition. Wherein thou seest not that thou blamest not my default, but that of fortune, which too often advanceth the unworthy to high estate, leaving the worthiest alow.

But now let us leave this and look somewhat to the first principles of things, whereby thou wilt see that we all get our flesh from one same stock and that all souls were by one same Creator created with equal faculties, equal powers and equal virtues. Worth it was that first distinguished between us, who were all and still are born equal; wherefore those who had and used the greatest sum thereof were called noble and the rest abode not noble. And albeit contrary usance hath since obscured this primary law, yet is it nowise done away nor blotted out from nature and good manners; wherefore he who doth worthily manifestly showeth himself a gentleman, and if any call him otherwise, not he who is called, but he who calleth committeth default. Look among all thy gentlemen and examine into their worth, their usances and their manners, and on the other hand consider those of Guiscardo; if thou wilt consent to judge without animosity, thou wilt say that he is most noble and that these thy nobles are all churls. With regard to his worth and virtue, I trusted not to the judgment of any other, but to that of thy words and of mine own eyes. Who ever so commended him as thou didst in all those praiseworthy things wherefor a man of worth should be commended? And certes not without reason; for, if mine eyes deceived me not, there was no praise given him of thee which I saw him not justify by deeds, and that more admirably than thy words availed to express; and even had I suffered any deceit in this, it is by thyself I should have been deceived. An, then, thou say that I have committed myself with a man of mean condition, thou sayst not sooth; but shouldst thou say with a poor man, it might peradventure be conceded thee, to thy shame who hast so ill known to put a servant of thine and a man of worth in good case; yet poverty bereaveth not any of gentilesse; nay, rather, wealth it is that doth this. Many kings, many great princes were once poor and many who delve and tend sheep were once very rich.

The last doubt that thou broachest, to wit, what thou shouldst do with me, drive it away altogether; an thou in thine extreme old age be disposed to do that which thou usedst not, being young, namely, to deal cruelly, wreak thy cruelty upon me, who am minded to proffer no prayer unto thee, as being199 the prime cause of this sin, if sin it be; for of this I certify thee, that whatsoever thou hast done or shalt do with Guiscardo, an thou do not the like with me, mine own hands shall do it. Now begone; go shed tears with women and waxing cruel, slay him and me with one same blow, an it seem to thee we have deserved it.'

The prince knew the greatness of his daughter's soul, but notwithstanding believed her not altogether so firmly resolved as she said unto that which her words gave out. Wherefore, taking leave of her and having laid aside all intent of using rigour against her person, he thought to cool her fervent love with other's suffering and accordingly bade Guiscardo's two guardians strangle him without noise that same night and taking out his heart, bring it to him. They did even as it was commanded them, and on the morrow the prince let bring a great and goodly bowl of gold and setting therein Guiscardo's heart, despatched it to his daughter by the hands of a very privy servant of his, bidding him say, whenas he gave it her, 'Thy father sendeth thee this, to solace thee of the thing thou most lovest, even as thou hast solaced him of that which he loved most.'

Now Ghismonda, unmoved from her stern purpose, had, after her father's departure, let bring poisonous herbs and roots and distilled and reduced them in water, so she might have it at hand, an that she feared should come to pass. The serving-man coming to her with the prince's present and message, she took the cup with a steadfast countenance and uncovered it. Whenas she saw the heart and apprehended the words of the message, she was throughly certified that this was Guiscardo's heart and turning her eyes upon the messenger, said to him, 'No sepulchre less of worth than one of gold had beseemed a heart such as this; and in this my father hath done discreetly.' So saying, she set the heart to her lips and kissing it, said, 'Still in everything and even to this extreme limit of my life have I found my father's love most tender towards me; but now more than ever; wherefore do than render him on my part for so great a gift the last thanks I shall ever have to give him.'

Then, bending down over the cup, which she held fast, she said, looking upon the heart, 'Alack, sweetest harbourage of all my pleasures, accursed be his cruelty who maketh me now to see thee with the eyes of the body! Enough was it for me at all hours to behold thee with those of the mind. Thou hast finished thy course and hast acquitted thyself on such wise as was vouchsafed thee of fortune; thou art come to the end whereunto each runneth; thou hast left the toils and miseries of the world, and of thy very enemy thou hast that sepulchre which thy worth hath merited. There lacked nought to thee to make thy funeral rites complete save her tears whom in life thou so lovedst, the which that thou mightest have, God put it into the heart of my unnatural father to send thee to me and I will give them to thee, albeit I had purposed to die with dry eyes and visage undismayed of aught; and having given them to thee, I will without delay so do that my soul, thou working it,[221]200 shall rejoin that soul which thou erst so dearly guardedst. And in what company could I betake me more contentedly or with better assurance to the regions unknown than with it?[222] Certain am I that it abideth yet herewithin[223] and vieweth the seats of its delights and mine and as that which I am assured still loveth me, awaiteth my soul, whereof it is over all beloved.'

So saying, no otherwise than as she had a fountain of water in her head, bowing herself over the bowl, without making any womanly outcry, she began, lamenting, to shed so many and such tears that they were a marvel to behold, kissing the dead heart the while an infinite number of times. Her women, who stood about her, understood not what this heart was nor what her words meant, but, overcome with compassion, wept all and in vain questioned her affectionately of the cause of her lament and studied yet more, as best they knew and might, to comfort her. The lady, having wept as much as herseemed fit, raised her head and drying her eyes, said, 'O much-loved heart, I have accomplished mine every office towards thee, nor is there left me aught else to do save to come with my soul and bear thine company.' So saying, she called for the vial wherein was the water she had made the day before and poured the latter into the bowl where was the heart bathed with so many of her tears; then, setting her mouth thereto without any fear, she drank it all off and having drunken, mounted, with the cup in her hand, upon the bed, where composing her body as most decently she might, she pressed her dead lover's heart to her own and without saying aught, awaited death.

Her women, seeing and hearing all this, albeit they knew not what water this was she had drunken, had sent to tell Tancred everything, and he, fearing that which came to pass, came quickly down into his daughter's chamber, where he arrived what time she laid herself on her bed and addressed himself too late to comfort her with soft words; but, seeing the extremity wherein she was, he fell a-weeping grievously; whereupon quoth the lady to him, 'Tancred, keep these tears against a less desired fate than this of mine and give them not to me, who desire them not. Who ever saw any, other than thou, lament for that which he himself hath willed? Nevertheless, if aught yet live in thee of the love which once thou borest me, vouchsafe me for a last boon that, since it was not thy pleasure that I should privily and in secret live with Guiscardo, my body may openly abide with his, whereassoever thou hast caused cast him dead.' The agony of his grief suffered not the prince to reply; whereupon the young lady, feeling herself come to her end, strained the dead heart to her breast and said, 'Abide ye with God, for I go hence.' Then, closing her eyes and losing every sense, she departed this life of woe. Such, then, as you have heard, was the sorrowful ending of the loves of Guiscardo and Ghismonda, whose bodies Tancred, after much lamentation, too late repenting him of his cruelty, caused honourably bury in one same sepulchre, amid the general mourning of all the people of Salerno."



Day the Fourth


The story told by Fiammetta had more than once brought the tears to the eyes of the ladies her companions; but, it being now finished, the king with a stern countenance said, "My life would seem to me a little price to give for half the delight that Guiscardo had with Ghismonda, nor should any of you ladies marvel thereat, seeing that every hour of my life I suffer a thousand deaths, nor for all that is a single particle of delight vouchsafed me. But, leaving be my affairs for the present, it is my pleasure that Pampinea follow on the order of the discourse with some story of woeful chances and fortunes in part like to mine own; which if she ensue like as Fiammetta hath begun, I shall doubtless begin to feel some dew fallen upon my fire." Pampinea, hearing the order laid upon her, more by her affection apprehended the mind of the ladies her companions than that of Filostrato by his words,[224] wherefore, being more disposed to give them some diversion than to content the king, farther than in the mere letter of his commandment, she bethought herself to tell a story, that should, without departing from the proposed theme, give occasion for laughter, and accordingly began as follows:

"The vulgar have a proverb to the effect that he who is naught and is held good may do ill and it is not believed202 of him; the which affordeth me ample matter for discourse upon that which hath been proposed to me and at the same time to show what and how great is the hypocrisy of the clergy, who, with garments long and wide and faces paled by art and voices humble and meek to solicit the folk, but exceeding loud and fierce to rebuke in others their own vices, pretend that themselves by taking and others by giving to them come to salvation, and to boot, not as men who have, like ourselves, to purchase paradise, but as in a manner they were possessors and lords thereof, assign unto each who dieth, according to the sum of the monies left them by him, a more or less excellent place there, studying thus to deceive first themselves, an they believe as they say, and after those who put faith for that matter in their words. Anent whom, were it permitted me to discover as much as it behoved, I would quickly make clear to many simple folk that which they keep hidden under those huge wide gowns of theirs. But would God it might betide them all of their cozening tricks, as it betided a certain minor friar, and he no youngling, but held one of the first casuists[225] in Venice; of whom it especially pleaseth me to tell you, so as peradventure somewhat to cheer your hearts, that are full of compassion for the death of Ghismonda, with laughter and pleasance.

There was, then, noble ladies, in Imola, a man of wicked and corrupt life, who was called Berto della Massa and whose lewd fashions, being well known of the Imolese, had brought him into such ill savour with them that there was none in the town who would credit him, even when he said sooth; wherefore, seeing that his shifts might no longer stand him in stead there, he removed in desperation to Venice, the receptacle of every kind of trash, thinking to find there new means of carrying on his wicked practices. There, as if conscience-stricken for the evil deeds done by him in the past, feigning himself overcome with the utmost humility and waxing devouter than any man alive, he went and turned Minor Friar and styled himself Fra Alberta da Imola; in which habit he proceeded to lead, to all appearance, a very austere life, greatly commending abstinence and mortification and never eating flesh nor drinking wine, whenas he had not thereof that which was to his liking. In short, scarce was any ware of him when from a thief, a pimp, a forger, a manslayer, he suddenly became a great preacher, without having for all that forsworn the vices aforesaid, whenas he might secretly put them in practice. Moreover, becoming a priest, he would still, whenas he celebrated mass at the altar, an he were seen of many, beweep our Saviour's passion, as one whom tears cost little, whenas he willed it. Brief, what with his preachings and his tears, he contrived on such wise to203 inveigle the Venetians that he was trustee and depository of well nigh every will made in the town and guardian of folk's monies, besides being confessor and counsellor of the most part of the men and women of the place; and doing thus, from wolf he was become shepherd and the fame of his sanctity was far greater in those parts than ever was that of St. Francis at Assisi.

It chanced one day that a vain simple young lady, by name Madam Lisetta da Ca[226] Quirino, wife of a great merchant who was gone with the galleys into Flanders, came with other ladies to confess to this same holy friar, at whose feet kneeling and having, like a true daughter of Venice as she was (where the women are all feather-brained), told him part of her affairs, she was asked of him if she had a lover. Whereto she answered, with an offended air, 'Good lack, sir friar, have you no eyes in your head? Seem my charms to you such as those of yonder others? I might have lovers and to spare, an I would; but my beauties are not for this one nor that. How many women do you see whose charms are such as mine, who would be fair in Paradise?' Brief, she said so many things of this beauty of hers that it was a weariness to hear. Fra Alberto incontinent perceived that she savoured of folly and himseeming she was a fit soil for his tools, he fell suddenly and beyond measure in love with her; but, reserving blandishments for a more convenient season, he proceeded, for the nonce, so he might show himself a holy man, to rebuke her and tell her that this was vainglory and so forth. The lady told him he was an ass and knew not what one beauty was more than another, whereupon he, unwilling to vex her overmuch, took her confession and let her go away with the others.

He let some days pass, then, taking with him a trusty companion of his, he repaired to Madam Lisetta's house and withdrawing with her into a room apart, where none might see him, he fell on his knees before her and said, 'Madam, I pray you for God's sake pardon me that which I said to you last Sunday, whenas you bespoke me of your beauty, for that the following night I was so cruelly chastised there that I have not since been able to rise from my bed till to-day.' Quoth Mistress Featherbrain, 'And who chastised you thus?' 'I will tell you,' replied the monk. 'Being that night at my orisons, as I still use to be, I saw of a sudden a great light in my cell and ere I could turn me to see what it might be, I beheld over against me a very fair youth with a stout cudgel in his hand, who took me by the gown and dragging me to my feet, gave me such a drubbing that he broke every bone in my body. I asked him why he used me thus and he answered, "For that thou presumedst to-day, to disparage the celestial charms of Madam Lisetta, whom I love over all things, save only God." "Who, then, are you?" asked I; and he replied that he was the angel Gabriel. "O my lord," said I, "I pray you pardon me"; and he, "So be it; I pardon thee on condition that thou go to her, as first thou mayst, and get her pardon; but if she pardons thee not, I will return to thee and give thee204 such a bout of it that I will make thee a woeful man for all the time thou shalt live here below." That which he said to me after I dare not tell you, except you first pardon me.'

My Lady Addlepate, who was somewhat scant of wit, was overjoyed to hear this, taking it all for gospel, and said, after a little, 'I told you, Fra Alberto, that my charms were celestial, but, so God be mine aid, it irketh me for you and I will pardon you forthright, so you may come to no more harm, provided you tell me truly that which the angel said to you after.' 'Madam,' replied Fra Alberto, 'since you pardon me, I will gladly tell it you; but I must warn you of one thing, to wit, that whatever I tell you, you must have a care not to repeat it to any one alive, an you would not mar your affairs, for that you are the luckiest lady in the world. The angel Gabriel bade me tell you that you pleased him so much that he had many a time come to pass the night with you, but that he feared to affright you. Now he sendeth to tell you by me that he hath a mind to come to you one night and abide awhile with you and (for that he is an angel and that, if he came in angel-form, you might not avail to touch him,) he purposeth, for your delectation, to come in guise of a man, wherefore he biddeth you send to tell him when you would have him come and in whose form, and he will come hither; whereof you may hold yourself blest over any other lady alive.'

My Lady Conceit answered that it liked her well that the angel Gabriel loved her, seeing she loved him well nor ever failed to light a candle of a groat before him, whereas she saw him depictured, and that what time soever he chose to come to her, he should be dearly welcome and would find her all alone in her chamber, but on this condition, that he should not leave her for the Virgin Mary, whose great well-wisher it was said he was, as indeed appeareth, inasmuch as in every place where she saw him [limned], he was on his knees before her. Moreover, she said it must rest with him to come in whatsoever form he pleased, so but she was not affrighted.

Then said Fra Alberto, 'Madam, you speak sagely and I will without fail take order with him of that which you tell me. But you may do me a great favour, which will cost you nothing; it is this, that you will him come with this my body. And I will tell you in what you will do me a favour; you must know that he will take my soul forth of my body and put it in Paradise, whilst he himself will enter into me; and what while he abideth with you, so long will my soul abide in Paradise.' 'With all my heart,' answered Dame Littlewit. 'I will well that you have this consolation, in requital of the buffets he gave you on my account.' Then said Fra Alberto, 'Look that he find the door of your house open to-night, so he may come in thereat, for that, coming in human form, as he will, he might not enter save by the door.' The lady replied that it should be done, whereupon the monk took his leave and she abode in such a transport of exultation that her breech touched not her shift and herseemed a thousand years till the angel Gabriel should come to her.

Meanwhile, Fra Alberto, bethinking him that it behoved him play the cav205alier, not the angel, that night proceeded to fortify himself with confections and other good things, so he might not lightly be unhorsed; then, getting leave, as soon as it was night, he repaired with one of his comrades to the house of a woman, a friend of his, whence he was used whiles to take his start what time he went to course the fillies; and thence, whenas it seemed to him time, having disguised himself, he betook him to the lady's house. There he tricked himself out as an angel with the trappings he had brought with him and going up, entered the chamber of the lady, who, seeing this creature all in white, fell on her knees before him. The angel blessed her and raising her to her feet, signed to her to go to bed, which she, studious to obey, promptly did, and the angel after lay down with his devotee. Now Fra Alberto was a personable man of his body and a lusty and excellent well set up on his legs; wherefore, finding himself in bed with Madam Lisetta, who was young and dainty, he showed himself another guess bedfellow than her husband and many a time that night took flight without wings, whereof she avowed herself exceeding content; and eke he told her many things of the glories of heaven. Then, the day drawing near, after taking order for his return, he made off with his trappings and returned to his comrade, whom the good woman of the house had meanwhile borne amicable company, lest he should get a fright, lying alone.

As for the lady, no sooner had she dined than, taking her waiting-woman with her, she betook herself to Fra Alberto and gave him news of the angel Gabriel, telling him that which she had heard from him of the glories of life eternal and how he was made and adding to boot, marvellous stories of her own invention. 'Madam,' said he, 'I know not how you fared with him; I only know that yesternight, whenas he came to me and I did your message to him, he suddenly transported my soul amongst such a multitude of roses and other flowers that never was the like thereof seen here below, and I abode in one of the most delightsome places that was aye until the morning; but what became of my body meanwhile I know not.' 'Do I not tell you?' answered the lady. 'Your body lay all night in mine arms with the angel Gabriel. If you believe me not, look under your left pap, whereas I gave the angel such a kiss that the marks of it will stay by you for some days to come.' Quoth the friar, 'Say you so? Then will I do to-day a thing I have not done this great while; I will strip myself, to see if you tell truth.' Then, after much prating, the lady returned home and Fra Alberto paid her many visits in angel-form, without suffering any hindrance.

However, it chanced one day that Madam Lisetta, being in dispute with a gossip of hers upon the question of female charms, to set her own above all others, said, like a woman who had little wit in her noddle, 'An you but knew whom my beauty pleaseth, in truth you would hold your peace of other women.' The other, longing to hear, said, as one who knew her well, 'Madam, maybe you say sooth; but knowing not who this may be, one cannot turn about so lightly.' Thereupon quoth Lisetta, who was eath enough to206 draw, 'Gossip, it must go no farther; but he I mean is the angel Gabriel, who loveth me more than himself, as the fairest lady (for that which he telleth me) who is in the world or the Maremma.'[227] The other had a mind to laugh, but contained herself, so she might make Lisetta speak farther, and said, 'Faith, madam, an the angel Gabriel be your lover and tell you this, needs must it be so; but methought not the angels did these things.' 'Gossip,' answered the lady, 'you are mistaken; zounds, he doth what you wot of better than my husband and telleth me they do it also up yonder; but, for that I seem to him fairer than any she in heaven, he hath fallen in love with me and cometh full oft to lie with me; seestow now?'[228]

The gossip, to whom it seemed a thousand years till she should be whereas she might repeat these things, took her leave of Madam Lisetta and foregathering at an entertainment with a great company of ladies, orderly recounted to them the whole story. They told it again to their husbands and other ladies, and these to yet others, and so in less than two days Venice was all full of it. Among others to whose ears the thing came were Lisetta's brothers-in-law, who, without saying aught to her, bethought themselves to find the angel in question and see if he knew how to fly, and to this end they lay several nights in wait for him. As chance would have it, some inkling of the matter[229] came to the ears of Fra Alberto, who accordingly repaired one night to the lady's house, to reprove her, but hardly had he put off his clothes ere her brothers-in-law, who had seen him come, were at the door of her chamber to open it.

Fra Alberto, hearing this and guessing what was to do, started up and having no other resource, opened a window, which gave upon the Grand Canal, and cast himself thence into the water. The canal was deep there and he could swim well, so that he did himself no hurt, but made his way to the opposite bank and hastily entering a house that stood open there, besought a poor man, whom he found within, to save his life for the love of God, telling him a tale of his own fashion, to explain how he came there at that hour and naked. The good man was moved to pity and it behoving him to go do his occasions, he put him in his own bed and bade him abide there against his return; then, locking him in, he went about his affairs. Meanwhile, the lady's brothers-in-law entered her chamber and found that the angel Gabriel had flown, leaving his wings there; whereupon, seeing themselves baffled, they gave her all manner hard words and ultimately made off to their own house with the angel's trappings, leaving her disconsolate.

Broad day come, the good man with whom Fra Alberto had taken refuge, being on the Rialto, heard how the angel Gabriel had gone that night to lie with Madam Lisetta and being surprised by her kinsmen, had cast himself for207 fear into the canal, nor was it known what was come of him, and concluded forthright that this was he whom he had at home. Accordingly, he returned thither and recognizing the monk, found means after much parley, to make him fetch him fifty ducats, an he would not have him give him up to the lady's kinsmen. Having gotten the money and Fra Alberto offering to depart thence, the good man said to him, 'There is no way of escape for you, an it be not one that I will tell you. We hold to-day a festival, wherein one bringeth a man clad bear-fashion and another one accoutred as a wild man of the woods and what not else, some one thing and some another, and there is a hunt held in St. Mark's Place, which finished, the festival is at an end and after each goeth whither it pleaseth him with him whom he hath brought. An you will have me lead you thither, after one or other of these fashions, I can after carry you whither you please, ere it be spied out that you are here; else I know not how you are to get away, without being recognized, for the lady's kinsmen, concluding that you must be somewhere hereabout, have set a watch for you on all sides.'

Hard as it seemed to Fra Alberto to go on such wise, nevertheless, of the fear he had of the lady's kinsmen, he resigned himself thereto and told his host whither he would be carried, leaving the manner to him. Accordingly, the other, having smeared him all over with honey and covered him with down, clapped a chain about his neck and a mask on his face; then giving him a great staff in on hand and in the other two great dogs which he had fetched from the shambles he despatched one to the Rialto to make public proclamation that whoso would see the angel Gabriel should repair to St. Mark's Place; and this was Venetian loyalty! This done, after a while, he brought him forth and setting him before himself, went holding him by the chain behind, to the no small clamour of the folk, who said all, 'What be this? What be this?'[230] till he came to the place, where, what with those who had followed after them and those who, hearing the proclamation, were come thither from the Rialto, were folk without end. There he tied his wild man to a column in a raised and high place, making a show of awaiting the hunt, whilst the flies and gads gave the monk exceeding annoy, for that he was besmeared with honey. But, when he saw the place well filled, making as he would unchain his wild man, he pulled off Fra Alberto's mask and said, 'Gentlemen, since the bear cometh not and there is no hunt toward, I purpose, so you may not be come in vain, that you shall see the angel Gabriel, who cometh down from heaven to earth anights, to comfort the Venetian ladies.'

No sooner was the mask off than Fra Alberto was incontinent recognized of all, who raised a general outcry against him, giving him the scurviest words and the soundest rating was ever given a canting knave; moreover, they cast in his face, one this kind of filth and another that, and so they baited him a great while, till the news came by chance to his brethren, whereupon half a dozen of them sallied forth and coming thither, unchained him and threw a gown over him; then, with a general208 hue and cry behind them, they carried him off to the convent, where it is believed he died in prison, after a wretched life. Thus then did this fellow, held good and doing ill, without it being believed, dare to feign himself the angel Gabriel, and after being turned into a wild man of the woods and put to shame, as he deserved, bewailed, when too late, the sins he had committed. God grant it happen thus to all other knaves of his fashion!"


Day the Fourth


Filostrato, having heard the end of Pampinea's story, bethought himself awhile and presently, turning to her, said, "There was some little that was good and that pleased me in the ending of your story; but there was overmuch before that which gave occasion for laughter and which I would not have had there." Then, turning to Lauretta, "Lady," said he, "ensue you with a better, and it may be." Quoth she, laughing, "You are too cruel towards lovers, an you desire of them only an ill end;[231] but, to obey you, I will tell a story of three who all ended equally ill, having had scant enjoyment of their loves." So saying, she began thus: "Young ladies, as you should manifestly know, every vice may turn to the grievous hurt of whoso practiseth it, and often of other folk also; but of all others that which with the slackest rein carrieth us away to our peril, meseemeth is anger, which is none otherwhat than a sudden and unconsidered emotion, aroused by an affront suffered, and which, banishing all reason and overclouding the eyes of the understanding with darkness, kindleth the soul to the hottest fury. And although this often cometh to pass in men and more in one than in another, yet hath it been seen aforetime to work greater mischiefs in women, for that it is lightlier enkindled in these latter and burneth in them with a fiercer flame and urgeth them with less restraint. Nor is this to be marvelled at, for that, an we choose to consider, we may see that fire, of its nature, catcheth quicklier to light and delicate things than to those which are denser and more ponderous; and we women, indeed,—let men not take it ill,—are more delicately fashioned than they and far more mobile. Wherefore, see209ing that we are naturally inclined thereunto[232] and considering after how our mansuetude and our loving kindness are of repose and pleasance to the men with whom we have to do and how big with harm and peril are anger and fury, I purpose, to the intent that we may with a more steadfast, mind keep ourselves from these latter, to show you by my story how the loves of three young men and as many ladies came, as I said before, to an ill end, becoming through the ire of one of the latter, from happy most unhappy.

Marseilles is, as you know, a very ancient and noble city, situate in Provence on the sea-shore, and was once more abounding in rich and great merchants than it is nowadays. Among the latter was one called Narnald Cluada, a man of mean extraction, but of renowned good faith and a loyal merchant, rich beyond measure in lands and monies, who had by a wife of his several children, whereof the three eldest were daughters. Two of these latter, born at a birth, were fifteen and the third fourteen years old, nor was aught awaited by their kinsfolk to marry them but the return of Narnald, who was gone into Spain with his merchandise. The names of the two elder were the one Ninetta and the other Maddalena and the third called Bertella. Of Ninetta a young man of gentle birth, though poor, called Restagnone, was enamoured as much as man might be, and she of him, and they had contrived to do on such wise that, without any knowing it, they had enjoyment of their loves.

They had already a pretty while enjoyed this satisfaction when it chanced that two young companions, named the one Folco and the other Ughetto, whose fathers were dead, leaving them very rich, fell in love, the one with Maddalena and the other with Bertella. Restagnone, noting this (it having been shown him of Ninetta), bethought himself that he might make shift to supply his own lack by means of the newcomers' love. Accordingly, he clapped up an acquaintance with them, so that now one, now the other of them accompanied him to visit their mistresses and his; and when himseemed he was grown privy enough with them and much their friend, he called them one day into his house and said to them, 'Dearest youths, our commerce should have certified you how great is the love I bear you and that I would do for you that which I would do for myself; and for that I love you greatly, I purpose to discover to you that which hath occurred to my mind, and you and I together will after take such counsel thereof as shall seem to you best. You, an your words lie not and for that to boot which meseemeth I have apprehended by your deeds, both daily and nightly, burn with an exceeding passion for the two young ladies beloved of you, as do I for the third their sister; and to this ardour, an you will consent thereunto,[233] my heart giveth me to find a very sweet and pleasing remedy, the which is as follows. You are both very rich, which I am not; now, if you will agree to bring your riches into a common stock, making me a third sharer with you therein, and determine in210 which part of the world we shall go lead a merry life with our mistresses, my heart warranteth me I can without fail so do that the three sisters, with a great part of their father's good, will go with, us whithersoever we shall please, and there, each with his wench, like three brothers, we may live the happiest lives of any men in the world. It resteth with you now to determine whether you will go about to solace yourself in this or leave it be.'

The two young men, who were beyond measure inflamed, hearing that they were to have their lasses, were not long in making up their minds, but answered that, so this[234] should ensue, they were ready to do as he said. Restagnone, having gotten this answer from the young men, found means a few days after to foregather with Ninetta, to whom he could not come without great unease, and after he had abidden with her awhile, he told her what he had proposed to the others and with many arguments studied to commend the emprise to her. This was little uneath to him, seeing that she was yet more desirous than himself to be with him without suspect; wherefore she answered him frankly that it liked her well and that her sisters would do whatever she wished, especially in this, and bade him make ready everything needful therefor as quickliest he might. Restagnone accordingly returned to the two young men, who still importuned him amain to do that whereof he had bespoken them, and told them that, so far as concerned their mistresses, the matter was settled. Then, having determined among themselves to go to Crete, they sold certain lands they had, under colour of meaning to go a-trading with the price, and having made money of all their other goods, bought a light brigantine and secretly equipped it to the utmost advantage.

Meanwhile, Ninetta, who well enough knew her sisters' mind, with soft words inflamed them with such a liking for the venture that themseemed they might not live to see the thing accomplished. Accordingly, the night come when they were to go aboard the brigantine, the three sisters opened a great coffer of their father's and taking thence a vast quantity of money and jewels, stole out of the house, according to the given order. They found their gallants awaiting them and going straightway all aboard the brigantine, they thrust the oars into the water and put out to sea nor rested till they came, on the following evening, to Genoa, where the new lovers for the first time took ease and joyance of their loves. There having refreshed themselves with that whereof they had need, they set out again and sailing from port to port, came, ere it was the eighth day, without any hindrance, to Crete, where they bought great and goodly estates near Candia and made them very handsome and delightsome dwelling-houses thereon. Here they fell to living like lords and passed their days in banquets and joyance and merrymaking, the happiest men in the world, they and their mistresses, with great plenty of servants and hounds and hawks and horses.

Abiding on this wise, it befell (even as we see it happen all day long that, how much soever things may please,211 they grow irksome, an one have overgreat plenty thereof) that Restagnone, who had much loved Ninetta, being now able to have her at his every pleasure, without let or hindrance, began to weary of her, and consequently his love for her began to wane. Having seen at entertainment a damsel of the country, a fair and noble young lady, who pleased him exceedingly, he fell to courting her with all his might, giving marvellous entertainments in her honor and plying her with all manner gallantries; which Ninetta coming to know, she fell into such a jealousy that he could not go a step but she heard of it and after harassed both him and herself with words and reproaches on account thereof. But, like as overabundance of aught begetteth weariness, even so doth the denial of a thing desired redouble the appetite; accordingly, Ninetta's reproaches did but fan the flame of Restagnone's new love and in process of time it came to pass that, whether he had the favours of the lady he loved or not, Ninetta held it for certain, whoever it was reported it to her; wherefore she fell into such a passion of grief and thence passed into such a fit of rage and despite that the love which she bore Restagnone was changed to bitter hatred, and blinded by her wrath, she bethought herself to avenge, by his death, the affront which herseemed she had received.

Accordingly, betaking herself to an old Greek woman, a past mistress in the art of compounding poisons, she induced her with gifts and promises to make her a death-dealing water, which she, without considering farther, gave Restagnone one evening to drink he being heated and misdoubting him not thereof; and such was the potency of the poison that, ere morning came, it had slain him. Folco and Ughetto and their mistresses, hearing of his death and knowing not of what poison he had died,[235] bewept him bitterly, together with Ninetta, and caused bury him honourably. But not many days after it chanced that the old woman, who had compounded the poisoned water for Ninetta, was taken for some other misdeed and being put to the torture, confessed to this amongst her other crimes, fully declaring that which had betided by reason thereof; whereupon the Duke of Crete, without saying aught of the matter, beset Folco's palace by surprise one night and without any noise or gainsayal, carried off Ninetta prisoner, from whom, without putting her to the torture, he readily got what he would know of the death of Restagnone.

Folco and Ughetto (and from them their ladies) had privy notice from the duke why Ninetta had been taken, the which was exceeding grievous to them and they used their every endeavour to save her from the fire, whereto they doubted not she would be condemned, as indeed she richly deserved; but all seemed vain, for that the duke abode firm in willing to do justice upon her. However, Maddalena, who was a beautiful young woman and had long been courted by the duke, but had never yet consented to do aught that might pleasure him, thinking that, by complying with his wishes, she might avail to save her sister from the fire, signified to him212 by a trusty messenger that she was at his commandment in everything, provided two things should ensue thereof, to wit, that she should have her sister again safe and sound and that the thing should be secret. Her message pleased the duke, and after long debate with himself if he should do as she proposed, he ultimately agreed thereto and said that he was ready. Accordingly, one night, having, with the lady's consent, caused detain Folco and Ughetto, as he would fain examine them of the matter, he went secretly to couch with Maddalena and having first made a show of putting Ninetta in a sack and of purposing to let sink her that night in the sea, he carried her with him to her sister, to whom on the morrow he delivered her at parting, in payment of the night he had passed with her, praying her that this,[236] which had been the first of their loves, might not be the last and charging her send the guilty lady away, lest blame betide himself and it behove him anew proceed against her with rigour.

Next morning, Folco and Ughetto, having heard that Ninetta had been sacked overnight and believing it, were released and returned home to comfort their mistresses for the death of their sister. However, for all Maddalena could do to hide her, Folco soon became aware of Ninetta's presence in the palace, whereat he marvelled exceedingly and suddenly waxing suspicious,—for that he had heard of the duke's passion for Maddalena,—asked the latter how her sister came to be there. Maddalena began a long story, which she had devised to account to him therefor, but was little believed of her lover, who was shrewd and constrained her to confess the truth, which, after long parley, she told him. Folco, overcome with chagrin and inflamed with rage, pulled out a sword and slew her, whilst she in vain besought mercy; then, fearing the wrath and justice of the duke, he left her dead in the chamber and repairing whereas Ninetta was, said to her, with a feigned air of cheerfulness, 'Quick, let us begone whither it hath been appointed of thy sister that I shall carry thee, so thou mayst not fall again into the hands of the duke.' Ninetta, believing this and eager, in her fearfulness, to begone, set out with Folco, it being now night, without seeking to take leave of her sister; whereupon he and she, with such monies (which were but few) as he could lay hands on, betook themselves to the sea-shore and embarked on board a vessel; nor was it ever known whither they went.

On the morrow, Maddalena being found murdered, there were some who, of the envy and hatred they bore to Ughetto, forthright gave notice thereof to the duke, whereupon the latter, who loved Maddalena exceedingly, ran furiously to the house and seizing Ughetto and his lady, who as yet knew nothing of the matter,—to wit, of the departure of Folco and Ninetta,—constrained them to confess themselves guilty, together with Folco, of his mistress's death. They, apprehending with reason death in consequence of this confession, with great pains corrupted those who had them in keeping, giving them a certain sum of money, which they kept hidden in their house against urgent213 occasions, and embarking with their guards, without having leisure to take any of their goods, fled by night to Rhodes, where they lived no great while after in poverty and distress. To such a pass, then, did Restagnone's mad love and Ninetta's rage bring themselves and others."


Day the Fourth


Lauretta, having made an end of her story, was silent, whilst the company bewailed the illhap of the lovers, some blaming Ninetta's anger and one saying one thing and another another, till presently the king, raising his head, as if aroused from deep thought, signed to Elisa to follow on; whereupon she began modestly, "Charming ladies, there are many who believe that Love launcheth his shafts only when enkindled of the eyes and make mock of those who hold that one may fall in love by hearsay; but that these are mistaken will very manifestly appear in a story that I purpose to relate, wherein you will see that report not only wrought this, without the lovers having ever set eyes on each other, but it will be made manifest to you that it brought both the one and the other to a miserable death.

Guglielmo, the Second, King of Sicily, had (as the Sicilians pretend) two children, a son called Ruggieri and a daughter called Costanza. The former, dying before his father, left a son named Gerbino, who was diligently reared by his grandfather and became a very goodly youth and a renowned for prowess and courtesy. Nor did his fame abide confined within the limits of Sicily, but, resounding in various parts of the world, was nowhere more glorious than in Barbary, which in those days was tributary to the King of Sicily. Amongst the rest to whose ears came the magnificent fame of Gerbino's valour and courtesy was a daughter of the King of Tunis, who, according to the report of all who had seen her, was one of the fairest creatures ever fashioned by nature and the best bred and of a noble and great soul. She, delighting to hear tell of men of valour, with such goodwill received the tales recounted by one and another of the deeds valiantly done of Gerbino and they so pleased her that, picturing to herself the prince's fashion, she became ardently enamoured of him and discoursed more willingly of him than of any other and hearkened to whoso spoke of him.

On the other hand, the great renown of her beauty and worth had won to Sicily, as elsewhither, and not without great delight nor in vain had it reached the ears of Gerbino; nay, it had inflamed him with love of her, no less214 than that which she herself had conceived for him. Wherefore, desiring beyond measure to see her, against he should find a colourable occasion of having his grandfather's leave to go to Tunis, he charged his every friend who went thither to make known to her, as best he might, his secret and great love and bring him news of her. This was very dexterously done by one of them, who, under pretence of carrying her women's trinkets to view, as do merchants, throughly discovered Gerbino's passion to her and avouched the prince and all that was his to be at her commandment. The princess received the messenger and the message with a glad flavour and answering that she burnt with like love for the prince, sent him one of her most precious jewels in token thereof. This Gerbino received with the utmost joy wherewith one can receive whatsoever precious thing and wrote to her once and again by the same messenger, sending her the most costly gifts and holding certain treaties[237] with her, whereby they should have seen and touched one another, had fortune but allowed it.

But, things going thus and somewhat farther than was expedient, the young lady on the one hand and Gerbino on the other burning with desire, it befell that the King of Tunis gave her in marriage to the King of Granada, whereat she was beyond measure chagrined, bethinking herself that not only should she be separated from her lover by long distance, but was like to be altogether parted from him; and had she seen a means thereto, she would gladly, so this might not betide, have fled from her father and betaken herself to Gerbino. Gerbino, in like manner, hearing of this marriage, was beyond measure sorrowful therefor and often bethought himself to take her by force, if it should chance that she went to her husband by sea. The King of Tunis, getting some inkling of Gerbino's love and purpose and fearing his valour and prowess, sent to King Guglielmo, whenas the time came for despatching her to Granada, advising him of that which he was minded to do and that, having assurance from him that he should not be hindered therein by Gerbino or others, he purposed to do it. The King of Sicily, who was an old man and had heard nothing of Gerbino's passion and consequently suspected not that it was for this that such an assurance was demanded, freely granted it and in token thereof, sent the King of Tunis a glove of his. The latter, having gotten the desired assurance, caused equip a very great and goodly ship in the port of Carthage and furnish it with what was needful for those who were to sail therein and having fitted and adorned it for the sending of his daughter into Granada, awaited nought but weather.

The young lady, who saw and knew all this, despatched one of her servants secretly to Palermo, bidding him salute the gallant Gerbino on her part and tell him that she was to sail in a few days for Granada, wherefore it would now appear if he were as valiant a man as was said and if he loved her as much as he had sundry times declared to her. Her messenger did his errand excellent well and returned to Tunis, whilst Gerbino, hearing this and215 knowing that his grandfather had given the King of Tunis assurance, knew not what to do. However, urged by love and that he might not appear a craven, he betook himself to Messina, where he hastily armed two light galleys and manning them with men of approved valour, set sail with them for the coast of Sardinia, looking for the lady's ship to pass there. Nor was he far out in his reckoning, for he had been there but a few days when the ship hove in sight with a light wind not far from the place where he lay expecting it.

Gerbino, seeing this, said to his companions, 'Gentlemen, an you be the men of mettle I take you for, methinketh there is none of you but hath either felt or feeleth love, without which, as I take it, no mortal can have aught of valour or worth in himself; and if you have been or are enamoured, it will be an easy thing to you to understand my desire. I love and love hath moved me to give you this present pains; and she whom I love is in the ship which you see becalmed yonder and which, beside that thing which I most desire, is full of very great riches. These latter, an ye be men of valour, we may with little difficulty acquire, fighting manfully; of which victory I desire nothing to my share save one sole lady, for whose love I have taken up arms; everything else shall freely be yours. Come, then, and let us right boldly assail the ship; God is favourable to our emprise and holdeth it here fast, without vouchsafing it a breeze.'

The gallant Gerbino had no need of many words, for that the Messinese, who were with him being eager for plunder, were already disposed to do that unto which he exhorted them. Wherefore, making a great outcry, at the end of his speech, that it should be so, they sounded the trumpets and catching up their arms, thrust the oars into the water and made for the Tunis ship. They who were aboard this latter, seeing the galleys coming afar off and being unable to flee,[238] made ready for defence. The gallant Gerbino accosting the ship, let command that the masters thereof should be sent on board the galleys, an they had no mind to fight; but the Saracens, having certified themselves who they were and what they sought, declared themselves attacked of them against the faith plighted them by King Guglielmo; in token whereof they showed the latter's glove, and altogether refused to surrender themselves, save for stress of battle, or to give them aught that was in the ship.

Gerbino, who saw the lady upon the poop, far fairer than he had pictured her to himself, and was more inflamed than ever, replied to the showing of the glove that there were no falcons there at that present and consequently there needed no gloves; wherefore, an they chose not to give up the lady, they must prepare to receive battle. Accordingly, without further parley, they fell to casting shafts and stones at one another, and on this wise they fought a great while, with loss on either side. At last, Gerbino, seeing that he did little to the purpose, took a little vessel he had brought with him out of Sardinia and setting fire therein, thrust it with both the galleys aboard the ship. The Saracens, seeing this and knowing that they must of necessity surrender216 or die, fetched the king's daughter, who wept below, on deck and brought her to the ship's prow; then, calling Gerbino, they butchered her before his eyes, what while she called for mercy and succour, and cast her into the sea, saying, 'Take her; we give her to thee, such as we may and such as thine unfaith hath merited.'

Gerbino, seeing their barbarous deed, caused lay himself alongside the ship and recking not of shaft or stone, boarded it, as if courting death, in spite of those who were therein; then,—even as a hungry lion, coming among a herd of oxen, slaughtereth now this, now that, and with teeth and claws sateth rather his fury than his hunger,—sword in hand, hewing now at one, now at another, he cruelly slew many of the Saracens; after which, the fire now waxing in the enkindled ship, he caused the sailors fetch thereout what they might, in payment of their pains, and descended thence, having gotten but a sorry victory over his adversaries. Then, letting take up the fair lady's body from the sea, long and with many tears he bewept it and steering for Sicily, buried it honourably in Ustica, a little island over against Trapani; after which he returned home, the woefullest man alive.

The King of Tunis, hearing the heavy news, sent his ambassadors, clad all in black, to King Guglielmo, complaining of the ill observance of the faith which he had plighted him. They recounted to him how the thing had passed, whereat King Guglielmo was sore incensed and seeing no way to deny them the justice they sought, caused take Gerbino; then himself,—albeit there was none of his barons but strove with prayers to move him from his purpose,—condemned him to death and let strike off his head in his presence, choosing rather to abide without posterity than to be held a faithless king. Thus, then, as I have told you, did these two lovers within a few days[239] die miserably a violent death, without having tasted any fruit of their loves."


Day the Fourth


Elisa's tale being ended and somedele commended of the king, Filomena was bidden to discourse, who, full of compassion for the wretched Gerbino and his mistress, after a piteous sigh, began thus: "My story, gracious ladies, will not treat of folk of so high condi217tion as were those of whom Elisa hath told, yet peradventure it will be no less pitiful; and what brought me in mind of it was the mention, a little before, of Messina, where the case befell.

There were then in Messina three young brothers, merchants and left very rich by their father, who was a man of San Gimignano, and they had an only sister, Lisabetta by name, a right fair and well-mannered maiden, whom, whatever might have been the reason thereof, they had not yet married. Now these brothers had in one of their warehouses a youth of Pisa, called Lorenzo, who did and ordered all their affairs and was very comely and agreeable of person; wherefore, Lisabetta looking sundry times upon him, it befell that he began strangely to please her; of which Lorenzo taking note at one time and another, he in like manner, leaving his other loves, began to turn his thoughts to her; and so went the affair, that, each being alike pleasing to the other, it was no great while before, taking assurance, they did that which each of them most desired.

Continuing on this wise and enjoying great pleasure and delight one of the other, they knew not how to do so secretly but that, one night, Lisabetta, going whereas Lorenzo lay, was, unknown to herself, seen of the eldest of her brothers, who, being a prudent youth, for all the annoy it gave him to know this thing, being yet moved by more honourable counsel, abode without sign or word till the morning, revolving in himself various things anent the matter. The day being come, he recounted to his brothers that which he had seen the past night of Lisabetta and Lorenzo, and after long advisement with them, determined (so that neither to them nor to their sister should any reproach ensue thereof) to pass the thing over in silence and feign to have seen and known nothing thereof till such time as, without hurt or unease to themselves, they might avail to do away this shame from their sight, ere it should go farther. In this mind abiding and devising and laughing with Lorenzo as was their wont, it befell that one day, feigning to go forth the city, all three, a-pleasuring, they carried him with them to a very lonely and remote place; and there, the occasion offering, they slew him, whilst he was off his guard, and buried him on such wise that none had knowledge of it; then, returning to Messina, they gave out that they had despatched him somewhither for their occasions, the which was the lightlier credited that they were often used to send him abroad about their business.

Lorenzo returning not and Lisabetta often and instantly questioning her brothers of him, as one to whom the long delay was grievous, it befell one day, as she very urgently enquired of him, that one of them said to her, 'What meaneth this? What hast thou to do often of him? An thou question of him with Lorenzo, that thou askest thus218 more, we will make thee such answer as thou deservest.' Wherefore the girl, sad and grieving and fearful she knew not of what, abode without more asking; yet many a time anights she piteously called him and prayed him come to her, and whiles with many tears she complained of his long tarrying; and thus, without a moment's gladness, she abode expecting him alway, till one night, having sore lamented Lorenzo for that he returned not and being at last fallen asleep, weeping, he appeared to her in a dream, pale and all disordered, with clothes all rent and mouldered, and herseemed he bespoke her thus: 'Harkye, Lisabetta; thou dost nought but call upon me, grieving for my long delay and cruelly impeaching me with thy tears. Know, therefore, that I may never more return to thee, for that, the last day thou sawest me, thy brothers slew me.' Then, having discovered to her the place where they had buried him, he charged her no more call him nor expect him and disappeared; whereupon she awoke and giving faith to the vision, wept bitterly.

In the morning, being risen and daring not say aught to her brothers, she determined to go to the place appointed and see if the thing were true, as it had appeared to her in the dream. Accordingly, having leave to go somedele without the city for her disport, she betook herself thither,[241] as quickliest she might, in company of one who had been with them[242] otherwhiles and knew all her affairs; and there, clearing away the dead leaves from the place, she dug whereas herseemed the earth was less hard. She had not dug long before she found the body of her unhappy lover, yet nothing changed nor rotted, and thence knew manifestly that her vision was true, wherefore she was the most distressful of women; yet, knowing that this was no place for lament, she would fain, an she but might, have borne away the whole body, to give it fitter burial; but, seeing that this might not be, she with a knife did off[243] the head from the body, as best she could, and wrapping it in a napkin, laid it in her maid's lap. Then, casting back the earth over the trunk, she departed thence, without being seen of any, and returned home, where, shutting herself in her chamber with her lover's head, she bewept it long and bitterly, insomuch that she bathed it all with her tears, and kissed it a thousand times in every part. Then, taking a great and goodly pot, of those wherein they plant marjoram or sweet basil, she set the head therein, folded in a fair linen cloth, and covered it with earth, in which she planted sundry heads of right fair basil of Salerno; nor did she ever water these with other water than that of her tears or rose or orange-flower water. Moreover she took wont to sit still near the pot and to gaze amorously upon it with all her desire, as upon that which held her Lorenzo hid; and after she had a great while looked thereon, she would bend over it and fall to weeping so sore and so long that her tears bathed all the basil, which, by dint of long and assiduous219 tending, as well as by reason of the fatness of the earth, proceeding from the rotting head that was therein, waxed passing fair and very sweet of savour.

The damsel, doing without cease after this wise, was sundry times seen of her neighbours, who to her brothers, marvelling at her waste beauty and that her eyes seemed to have fled forth her head [for weeping], related this, saying, 'We have noted that she doth every day after such a fashion.' The brothers, hearing and seeing this and having once and again reproved her therefor, but without avail, let secretly carry away from her the pot, which she, missing, with the utmost instance many a time required, and for that it was not restored to her, stinted not to weep and lament till she fell sick; nor in her sickness did she ask aught other than the pot of basil. The young men marvelled greatly at this continual asking and bethought them therefor to see what was in this pot. Accordingly, turning out the earth, they found the cloth and therein the head, not yet so rotted but they might know it, by the curled hair, to be that of Lorenzo. At this they were mightily amazed and feared lest the thing should get wind; wherefore, burying the head, without word said, they privily departed Messina, having taken order how they should withdraw thence, and betook themselves to Naples. The damsel, ceasing never from lamenting and still demanding her pot, died, weeping; and so her ill-fortuned love had end. But, after a while the thing being grown manifest unto many, there was one who made thereon the song that is yet sung, to wit:

Alack! ah, who can the ill Christian be,

That stole my pot away?" etc.[244]



Day the Fourth


Filomela's story was very welcome to the ladies, for that they had many a time heard sing this song, yet could never, for asking, learn the occasion of its making. But the king, having heard the end thereof, charged Pamfilo follow on the ordinance; whereupon quoth he, "The dream in the foregoing story giveth me occasion to recount one wherein is made mention of two dreams, which were of a thing to come, even as the former was of a thing [already] betided, and scarce were they finished telling by those who had dreamt them than the accomplishment followed of both. You must know, then, lovesome ladies, that it is an affection common to all alive to see various things in sleep, whereof,—albeit to the sleeper, what while he sleepeth, they all appear most true and he, awakened, accounteth some true, others probable and yet others out of all likelihood,—many are natheless found to be come221 to pass. By reason whereof many lend to every dream as much belief as they would to things they should see, waking, and for their proper dreams they sorrow or rejoice, according as by these they hope or fear. And contrariwise, there are those who believe none thereof, save after they find themselves fallen into the peril foreshown. Of these,[245] I approve neither the one nor other, for that dreams are neither always true nor always false. That they are not all true, each one of us must often enough have had occasion to know; and that they are not all false hath been already shown in Filomena her story, and I also purpose, as I said before, to show it in mine. Wherefore I am of opinion that, in the matter of living and doing virtuously, one should have no fear of any dream contrary thereto nor forego good intentions by reason thereof; as for perverse and wicked things, on the other hand, however favourable dreams may appear thereto and how much soever they may hearten him who seeth them with propitious auguries, none of them should be credited, whilst full faith should be accorded unto all that tend to the contrary.[246] But to come to the story.

There was once in the city of Brescia a gentleman called Messer Negro da Ponte Carraro, who amongst sundry other children had a daughter named Andrevuola, young and unmarried and very fair. It chanced she fell in love with a neighbour of hers, Gabriotto by name, a man of mean condition, but full laudable fashions and comely and pleasant of his person, and by the means and with the aid of the serving-maid of the house, she so wrought that not only did Gabriotto know himself beloved of her, but was many and many a time brought, to the delight of both parties, into a goodly garden of her father's. And in order that no cause, other than death, should ever avail to sever those their delightsome loves, they became in secret husband and wife, and so stealthily continuing their foregatherings, it befell that the young lady, being one night asleep, dreamt that she was in her garden with Gabriotto and held him in her arms, to the exceeding pleasure of each; but, as they abode thus, herseemed she saw come forth of his body something dark and frightful, the form whereof she could not discern; the which took Gabriotto and tearing him in her despite with marvellous might from her embrace, made off with him underground, nor ever more might she avail to see either the one or the other.

At this she fell into an inexpressible passion of grief, whereby she awoke, and albeit, awaking, she was rejoiced to find that it was not as she had dreamed, nevertheless fear entered into her by reason of the dream she had seen. Wherefore, Gabriotto presently desiring to visit her that next night, she studied as most she might to prevent his coming; however, seeing his desire and so he might not misdoubt him of otherwhat, she received him in the garden and having gathered great store of roses, white and red (for that it was the season), she went to sit with him at the foot of a very goodly and clear fountain that was there. After they had taken great and long delight together, Gabriotto asked her why she would have222 forbidden his coming that night; whereupon she told him, recounting to him the dream she had seen the foregoing night and the fear she had gotten therefrom.

He, hearing this, laughed it to scorn and said that it was great folly to put any faith in dreams, for that they arose of excess of food or lack thereof and were daily seen to be all vain, adding, 'Were I minded to follow after dreams, I had not come hither, not so much on account of this of thine as of one I myself dreamt last night; which was that meseemed I was in a fair and delightsome wood, wherein I went hunting and had taken the fairest and loveliest hind was ever seen; for methought she was whiter than snow and was in brief space become so familiar with me that she never left me a moment. Moreover, meseemed I held her so dear that, so she might not depart from me, I had put a collar of gold about her neck and held her in hand with a golden chain. After this medreamed that, once upon a time, what while this hind lay couched with its head in my bosom,[247] there issued I know not whence a greyhound bitch as black as coal, anhungred and passing gruesome of aspect, and made towards me. Methought I offered it no resistance, wherefore meseemed it thrust its muzzle into my breast on the left side and gnawed thereat till it won to my heart, which methought it tore from me, to carry it away. Therewith I felt such a pain that my sleep was broken and awaking, I straightway clapped my hand to my side, to see if I had aught there; but, finding nothing amiss with me, I made mock of myself for having sought. But, after all, what booteth this dream?[248] I have dreamed many such and far more frightful, nor hath aught in the world befallen me by reason thereof; wherefore let it pass and let us think to give ourselves a good time.'

The young lady, already sore adread for her own dream, hearing this, waxed yet more so, but hid her fear, as most she might, not to be the occasion of any unease to Gabriotto. Nevertheless, what while she solaced herself with him, clipping and kissing him again and again and being of him clipped and kissed, she many a time eyed him in the face more than of her wont, misdoubting she knew not what, and whiles she looked about the garden, and she should see aught of black come anywhence. Presently, as they abode thus, Gabriotto heaved a great sigh and embracing her said, 'Alas, my soul, help me, for I die!' So saying, he fell to the ground upon the grass of the lawn. The young lady, seeing this, drew him up into her lap and said, well nigh weeping, 'Alack, sweet my lord, what aileth thee?' He answered not, but, panting sore and sweating all over, no great while after departed this life.

How grievous, how dolorous was this to the young lady, who loved him more than her life, each one of you may conceive for herself. She bewept him sore and many a time called him in vain; but after she had handled him in every part of his body and found him cold in all, perceiving that he was altogether dead and knowing not what to do or to say, she went, all tearful as she was and223 full of anguish, to call her maid, who was privy to their loves, and discovered to her misery and her grief. Then, after they had awhile made woeful lamentation over Gabriotto's dead face, the young lady said to the maid, 'Since God hath bereft me of him I love, I purpose to abide no longer on life; but, ere I go about to slay myself, I would fain take fitting means to preserve my honour and the secret of the love that hath been between us twain and that the body, wherefrom the gracious spirit is departed, may be buried.'

'Daughter mine,' answered the maid, 'talk not of seeking to slay thyself, for that, if thou have lost him in this world, by slaying thyself thou wouldst lose him in the world to come also, since thou wouldst go to hell, whither I am assured his soul hath not gone; for he was a virtuous youth. It were better far to comfort thyself and think of succouring his soul with prayers and other good works, so haply he have need thereof for any sin committed. The means of burying him are here at hand in this garden and none will ever know of the matter, for none knoweth that he ever came hither. Or, an thou wilt not have it so, let us put him forth of the garden and leave him be; he will be found to-morrow morning and carried to his house, where his kinsfolk will have him buried.' The young lady, albeit she was full of bitter sorrow and wept without ceasing, yet gave ear to her maid's counsels and consenting not to the first part thereof, made answer to the second, saying, 'God forbid that I should suffer so dear a youth and one so beloved of me and my husband to be buried after the fashion of a dog or left to lie in the street! He hath had my tears and inasmuch as I may, he shall have those of his kinsfolk, and I have already bethought me of that which we have to do to that end.'

Therewith she despatched her maid for a piece of cloth of silk, which she had in a coffer of hers, and spreading it on the earth, laid Gabriotto's body thereon, with his head upon a pillow. Then with many tears she closed his eyes and mouth and weaving him a chaplet of roses, covered him with all they had gathered, he and she; after which she said to the maid, 'It is but a little way hence to his house; wherefore we will carry him thither, thou and I, even as we have arrayed him, and lay him before the door. It will not be long ere it be day and he will be taken up; and although this may be no consolation to his friends, yet to me, in whose arms he died, it will be a pleasure.' So saying, once more with most abundant tears she cast herself upon his face and wept a great while. Then, being urged by her maid to despatch, for that the day was at hand, she rose to her feet and drawing from her finger the ring wherewith Gabriotto had espoused her, she set it on his and said, weeping, 'Dear my lord, if thy soul now seeth my tears or if any sense or cognizance abide in the body, after the departure thereof, benignly receive her last gift, whom, living, thou lovedst so well.' This said, she fell down upon him in a swoon, but, presently coming to herself and rising, she took up, together with her maid, the cloth whereon the body lay and going forth the garden therewith, made for his house.

As they went, they were discovered and taken with the dead body by the224 officers of the provostry, who chanced to be abroad at that hour about some other matter. Andrevuola, more desirous of death than of life, recognizing the officers, said frankly, 'I know who you are and that it would avail me nothing to seek to flee; I am ready to go with you before the Seignory and there declare how the case standeth; but let none of you dare to touch me, provided I am obedient to you, or to remove aught from this body, an he would not be accused of me.' Accordingly, without being touched of any, she repaired, with Gabriotto's body, to the palace, where the Provost, hearing what was to do, arose and sending for her into his chamber, proceeded to enquire of this that had happened. To this end he caused divers physicians look if the dead man had been done to death with poison or otherwise, who all affirmed that it was not so, but that some imposthume had burst near the heart, the which had suffocated him. The magistrate hearing this and feeling her to be guilty in [but] a small matter, studied to make a show of giving her that which he could not sell her and told her that, an she would consent to his pleasures, he would release her; but, these words availing not, he offered, out of all seemliness, to use force. However, Andrevuola, fired with disdain and waxed strong [for indignation], defended herself manfully, rebutting him with proud and scornful words.

Meanwhile, broad day come and these things being recounted to Messer Negro, he betook himself, sorrowful unto death, to the palace, in company with many of his friends, and being there acquainted by the Provost with the whole matter, demanded resentfully[249] that his daughter should be restored to him. The Provost, choosing rather to accuse himself of the violence he would have done her than to be accused of her, first extolled the damsel and her constancy and in proof thereof, proceeded to tell that which he had done; by reason whereof, seeing her of so excellent a firmness, he had vowed her an exceeding love and would gladly, an it were agreeable to him, who was her father, and to herself, espouse her for his lady, notwithstanding she had had a husband of mean condition. Whilst they yet talked, Andrevuola presented herself and weeping, cast herself before her father and said, 'Father mine, methinketh there is no need that I recount to you the story of my boldness and my illhap, for I am assured that you have heard and know it; wherefore, as most I may, I humbly ask pardon of you for my default, to wit, the having without your knowledge taken him who most pleased me to husband. And this boon I ask of you, not for that my life may be spared me, but to die your daughter and not your enemy.' So saying, she fell weeping at his feet.

Messer Negro, who was an old man and kindly and affectionate of his nature, hearing these words, began to weep and with tears in his eyes raised his daughter tenderly to her feet and said, 'Daughter mine, it had better pleased me that thou shouldst have had such a husband as, according to my thinking, behoved unto thee; and that thou shouldst have taken such an one as was pleasing unto thee had also been pleas225ing to me; but that thou shouldst have concealed him, of thy little confidence in me, grieveth me, and so much the more as I see thee to have lost him, ere I knew it. However, since the case is so, that which had he lived, I had gladly done him, to content thee, to wit, honour, as to my son-in-law, be it done him, now he is dead.' Then, turning to his sons and his kinsfolk, he commanded that great and honourable obsequies should be prepared for Gabriotto.

Meanwhile, the kinsmen and kinswomen of the young man, hearing the news, had flocked thither, and with them well nigh all the men and women in the city. Therewith, the body, being laid out amiddleward the courtyard upon Andrevuola's silken cloth and strewn, with all her roses, was there not only bewept by her and his kinsfolk, but publicly mourned by well nigh all the ladies of the city and by many men, and being brought forth of the courtyard of the Seignory, not as that of a plebeian, but as that of a nobleman, it was with the utmost honour borne to the sepulchre upon the shoulders of the most noble citizens. Some days thereafterward, the Provost ensuing that which he had demanded, Messer Negro propounded it to his daughter, who would hear nought thereof, but, her father being willing to comply with her in this, she and her maid made themselves nuns in a convent very famous for sanctity and there lived honourably a great while after."


Day the Fourth


Pamfilo having delivered himself of his story, the king, showing no compassion for Andrevuola, looked at Emilia and signed to her that it was his pleasure she should with a story follow on those who had already told; whereupon she, without delay, began as follows: "Dear companions, the story told by Pamfilo putteth me in mind to tell you one in nothing like unto his save that like as Andrevuola lost her beloved in a garden, even so did she of whom I have to tell, and being taken in like manner as was Andrevuola, freed herself from the court, not by dint of fortitude nor constancy, but by an unlooked-for death. And as hath otherwhile been said amongst us, albeit Love liefer inhabiteth the houses of the great, yet not therefor doth he decline the empery of those of the poor; nay, whiles in these latter he so manifesteth his power that he maketh himself feared, as a most puissant seignior, of the richer sort. This, if not in all, yet in great part, will appear from my story, with which it pleaseth me to re-enter our own city, wherefrom this day,226 discoursing diversely of divers things and ranging over various parts of the world, we have so far departed.

There was, then, no great while ago, in Florence a damsel very handsome and agreeable, according to her condition, who was the daughter of a poor father and was called Simona; and although it behoved her with her own hands earn the bread she would eat and sustain her life by spinning wool, she was not therefor of so poor a spirit but that she dared to admit into her heart Love, which,—by means of the pleasing words and fashions of a youth of no greater account than herself, who went giving wool to spin for a master of his, a wool-monger,—had long made a show of wishing to enter there. Having, then, received Him into her bosom with the pleasing aspect of the youth who loved her whose name was Pasquino, she heaved a thousand sighs, hotter than fire, at every hank of yarn she wound about the spindle, bethinking her of him who had given it her to spin and ardently desiring, but venturing not to do more. He, on his side, grown exceeding anxious that his master's wool should be well spun, overlooked Simona's spinning more diligently than that of any other, as if the yarn spun by her alone and none other were to furnish forth the whole cloth; wherefore, the one soliciting and the other delighting to be solicited, it befell that, he growing bolder than of his wont and she laying aside much of the timidity and shamefastness she was used to feel, they gave themselves up with a common accord to mutual pleasures, which were so pleasing to both that not only did neither wait to be bidden thereto of the other, but each forewent other in the matter of invitation.

Ensuing this their delight from day to day and waxing ever more enkindled for continuance, it chanced one day that Pasquino told Simona he would fain have her find means to come to a garden, whither he wished to carry her so they might there foregather more at their ease and with less suspect. Simona answered that she would well and accordingly on Sunday, after eating, giving her father to believe that she meant to go a-pardoning to San Gallo,[250] she betook herself, with a friend of hers, called Lagina, to the garden appointed her of Pasquino. There she found him with a comrade of his, whose name was Puccino, but who was commonly called Stramba,[251] and an amorous acquaintance being quickly clapped up between the latter and Lagina, Simona and her lover withdrew to one part of the garden, to do their pleasure, leaving Stramba and Lagina in another.

Now in that part of the garden, whither Pasquino and Simona had betaken themselves, was a very great and goodly bush of sage, at the foot whereof they sat down and solaced themselves together a great while, holding much discourse of a collation they purposed227 to make there at their leisure. Presently, Pasquino turned to the great sage-bush and plucking a leaf thereof, began to rub his teeth and gums withal, avouching that sage cleaned them excellent well of aught that might be left thereon after eating. After he had thus rubbed them awhile, he returned to the subject of the collation, of which he had already spoken, nor had he long pursued his discourse when he began altogether to change countenance and well nigh immediately after lost sight and speech, and in a little while he died. Simona, seeing this, fell to weeping and crying out and called Stramba and Lagina, who ran thither in haste and seeing Pasquino not only dead, but already grown all swollen and full of dark spots about his face and body, Stramba cried out of a sudden, 'Ah, wicked woman! Thou hast poisoned him.' Making a great outcry, he was heard of many who dwelt near the garden and who, running to the clamour, found Pasquino dead and swollen.

Hearing Stramba lamenting and accusing Simona of having poisoned him of her malice, whilst she, for dolour of the sudden mishap that had carried off her lover, knew not how to excuse herself, being as it were beside herself, they all concluded that it was as he said; and accordingly she was taken and carried off, still weeping sore, to the Provost's palace, where, at the instance of Stramba and other two comrades of Pasquino, by name Atticciato and Malagevole, who had come up meanwhile, a judge addressed himself without delay to examine her of the fact and being unable to discover that she had done malice in the matter or was anywise guilty, he bethought himself, in her presence, to view the dead body and the place and manner of the mishap, as recounted to him by her, for that he apprehended it not very well by her words.

Accordingly, he let bring her, without any stir, whereas Pasquino's body lay yet, swollen as it were a tun, and himself following her thither, marvelled at the dead man and asked her how it had been; whereupon, going up to the sage-bush, she recounted to him all the foregoing story and to give him more fully to understand how the thing had befallen, she did even as Pasquino had done and rubbed one of the sage-leaves against her teeth. Then,—whilst her words were, in the judge's presence, flouted by Stramba and Atticciato and the other friends and comrades of Pasquino as frivolous and vain and they all denounced her wickedness with the more instance, demanding nothing less than that the fire should be the punishment of such perversity,—the wretched girl, who abode all confounded for dolour of her lost lover and fear of the punishment demanded by Stramba fell, for having rubbed the sage against her teeth, into that same mischance, whereinto her lover had fallen [and dropped dead], to the no small wonderment of as many as were present. O happy souls, to whom it fell in one same day to terminate at once your fervent love and your mortal life! Happier yet, an ye went together to one same place! And most happy, if folk love in the other life and ye love there as you loved here below! But happiest beyond compare,—at least in our judgment who abide after her on life,—was Simona's soul, whose innocence fortune suffered228 not to fall under the testimony of Stramba and Atticciato and Malagevole, wool-carders belike or men of yet meaner condition, finding her a more honourable way, with a death like unto that of her lover, to deliver herself from their calumnies and to follow the soul, so dearly loved of her, of her Pasquino.

The judge, in a manner astonied, as were likewise as many as were there, at this mischance and unknowing what to say, abode long silent; then, recollecting himself, he said, 'It seemeth this sage is poisonous, the which is not wont to happen of sage. But, so it may not avail to offend on this wise against any other, be it cut down even to the roots and cast into the fire.' This the keeper of the garden proceeded to do in the judge's presence, and no sooner had he levelled the great bush with the ground than the cause of the death of the two unfortunate lovers appeared; for thereunder was a toad of marvellous bigness, by whose pestiferous breath they concluded the sage to have become venomous. None daring approach the beast, they made a great hedge of brushwood about it and there burnt it, together with the sage. So ended the judge's inquest upon the death of the unfortunate Pasquino, who, together with his Simona, all swollen as they were, was buried by Stramba and Atticciato and Guccio Imbratta and Malagevole in the church of St. Paul, whereof it chanced they were parishioners."


Day the Fourth


Emilia's story come to an end, Neifile, by the king's commandment, began thus: "There are some, noble ladies, who believe themselves to know more than other folk, albeit, to my thinking, they know less, and who, by reason thereof, presume to oppose their judgment not only to the counsels of men, but even to set it up against the very nature of things; of which presumption very grave ills have befallen aforetime, nor ever was any good known to come thereof. And for that of all natural things love is that which least brooketh contrary counsel or opposition and whose nature is such that it may lightlier consume of itself than be done away by advisement, it hath come to my mind to narrate to you a story of a lady, who, seeking to be wiser than pertained unto her and than she was, nay, than the matter comported in which she studied to show her wit, thought to tear out from an enamoured heart a love which had belike been set there of the stars, and so doing, succeeded in expelling at once love and life from her son's body.

There was, then, in our city, according to that which the ancients relate, a229 very great and rich merchant, whose name was Lionardo Sighieri and who had by his wife a son called Girolamo, after whose birth, having duly set his affairs in order, he departed this life. The guardians of the boy, together with his mother, well and loyally ordered his affairs, and he, growing up with his neighbour's children, became familiar with a girl of his own age, the daughter of the tailor, more than with any other of the quarter. As he waxed in age, use turned to love so great and so ardent that he was never easy save what time he saw her, and certes she loved him no less than she was loved of him. The boy's mother, observing this, many a time chid and rebuked him therefor and after, Girolamo availing not to desist therefrom, complained thereof to his guardians, saying to them, as if she thought, thanks to her son's great wealth, to make an orange-tree of a bramble, 'This boy of ours, albeit he is yet scarce fourteen years old, is so enamoured of the daughter of a tailor our neighbour, by name Salvestra, that, except we remove her from his sight, he will peradventure one day take her to wife, without any one's knowledge, and I shall never after be glad; or else he will pine away from her, if he see her married to another; wherefore meseemeth, to avoid this, you were best send him somewhither far from here, about the business of the warehouse; for that, he being removed from seeing her, she will pass out of his mind and we may after avail to give him some well-born damsel to wife.'

The guardians answered that the lady said well and that they would do this to the best of their power; wherefore, calling the boy into the warehouse, one of them began very lovingly to bespeak him thus, 'My son, thou art now somewhat waxen in years and it were well that thou shouldst begin to look for thyself to thine affairs; wherefore it would much content us that thou shouldst go sojourn awhile at Paris, where thou wilt see how great part of thy wealth is employed, more by token that thou wilt there become far better bred and mannered and more of worth than thou couldst here, seeing the lords and barons and gentlemen who are there in plenty and learning their usances; after which thou mayst return hither.' The youth hearkened diligently and answered curtly that he was nowise disposed to do this, for that he believed himself able to fare as well at Florence as another. The worthy men, hearing this, essayed him again with sundry discourse, but, failing to get other answer of him, told his mother, who, sore provoked thereat, gave him a sound rating, not because of his unwillingness to go to Paris, but of his enamourment; after which, she fell to cajoling him with fair words, coaxing him and praying him softly be pleased to do what his guardians wished; brief, she contrived to bespeak him to such purpose that he consented to go to France and there abide a year and no more.

Accordingly, ardently enamoured as he was, he betook himself to Paris and there, being still put off from one day to another, he was kept two years; at the end of which time, returning, more in love than ever, he found his Salvestra married to an honest youth, a tent maker. At this he was beyond measure woebegone; but, seeing no help for it, he studied to console himself therefor and having spied out where she dwelt,230 began, after the wont of young men in love, to pass before her, expecting she should no more have forgotten him than he her. But the case was otherwise; she had no more remembrance of him than if she had never seen him; or, if indeed she remembered aught of him, she feigned the contrary; and of this, in a very brief space of time, Girolamo became aware, to his no small chagrin. Nevertheless, he did all he might to bring himself to her mind; but, himseeming he wrought nothing, he resolved to speak with her, face to face, though he should die for it.

Accordingly, having learned from a neighbour how her house stood, one evening that she and her husband were gone to keep wake with their neighbours, he entered therein by stealth and hiding himself behind certain tent cloths that were spread there, waited till, the twain having returned and gotten them to bed, he knew her husband to be asleep; whereupon he came whereas he had seen Salvestra lay herself and putting his hand upon her breast, said softly, 'Sleepest thou yet, O my soul?' The girl, who was awake, would have cried out; but he said hastily, 'For God's sake, cry not, for I am thy Girolamo.' She, hearing this, said, all trembling, 'Alack, for God's sake, Girolamo, get thee gone; the time is past when it was not forbidden unto our childishness to be lovers. I am, as thou seest, married and it beseemeth me no more to have regard to any man other than my husband; wherefore I beseech thee, by God the Only, to begone, for that, if my husband heard thee, even should no other harm ensue thereof, yet would it follow that I might never more avail to live with him in peace or quiet, whereas now I am beloved of him and abide with him in weal and in tranquility.'

The youth, hearing these words, was grievously endoloured and recalled to her the time past and his love no whit grown less for absence, mingling many prayers and many great promises, but obtained nothing; wherefore, desiring to die, he prayed her at last that, in requital of so much love, she would suffer him couch by her side, so he might warm himself somewhat, for that he was grown chilled, awaiting her, promising her that he would neither say aught to her nor touch her and would get him gone, so soon as he should be a little warmed. Salvestra, having some little compassion of him, granted him this he asked, upon the conditions aforesaid, and he accordingly lay down beside her, without touching her. Then, collecting into one thought the long love he had borne her and her present cruelty and his lost hope, he resolved to live no longer; wherefore, straitening in himself his vital spirits,[252] he clenched his hands and died by her side, without word or motion.

After a while the young woman, marvelling at his continence and fearing lest her husband should awake, began to say, 'Alack, Girolamo, why dost thou not get thee gone?' Hearing no answer, she concluded that he had fallen asleep and putting out her hand to awaken him, found him cold to the touch as ice, whereat she marvelled sore; then, nudging him more sharply and finding that he stirred not, she felt him again and231 knew that he was dead; whereat she was beyond measure woebegone and abode a great while, unknowing what she should do. At last she bethought herself to try, in the person of another, what her husband should say was to do [in such a case]; wherefore, awakening him, she told him, as having happened to another, that which had presently betided herself and after asked him what counsel she should take thereof,[253] if it should happen to herself. The good man replied that himseemed the dead man should be quietly carried to his house and there left, without bearing any ill will thereof to the woman, who, it appeared to him, had nowise done amiss. Then said Salvestra, 'And so it behoveth us do'; and taking his hand, made him touch the dead youth; whereupon, all confounded, he arose, without entering into farther parley with his wife, and kindled a light; then, clothing the dead body in its own garments, he took it, without any delay, on his shoulders and carried it, his innocence aiding him, to the door of Girolamo's house, where he set it down and left it.

When the day came and Girolamo was found dead before his own door, great was outcry, especially on the part of his mother, and the physicians having examined him and searched his body everywhere, but finding no wound nor bruise whatsoever on him, it was generally concluded that he had died of grief, as was indeed the case. Then was the body carried into a church and the sad mother, repairing thither with many other ladies, kinswomen and neighbours, began to weep without stint and make sore moan over him, according to our usance. What while the lamentation was at it highest, the good man, in whose house he had died, said to Salvestra, 'Harkye, put some mantlet or other on thy head and get thee to the church whither Girolamo hath been carried and mingle with the women and hearken to that which is discoursed of the matter; and I will do the like among the men, so we may hear if aught be said against us.' The thing pleased the girl, who was too late grown pitiful and would fain look upon him, dead, whom, living, she had not willed to pleasure with one poor kiss, and she went thither. A marvellous thing it is to think how uneath to search out are the ways of love! That heart, which Girolamo's fair fortune had not availed to open, his illhap opened and the old flames reviving all therein, whenas she saw the dead face it[254] melted of a sudden into such compassion that she pressed between the women, veiled as she was in the mantlet, and stayed not till she won to the body, and there, giving a terrible great shriek, she cast herself, face downward, on the dead youth, whom she bathed not with many tears, for that no sooner did she touch him than grief bereaved her of life, even as it had bereft him.

The women would have comforted her and bidden her arise, not yet knowing her; but after they had bespoken her awhile in vain, they sought to lift her and finding her motionless, raised her up and knew her at once for Sal232vestra and for dead; whereupon all who were there, overcome with double pity, set up a yet greater clamour of lamentation. The news soon spread abroad among the men without the church and came presently to the ears of her husband, who was amongst them and who, without lending ear to consolation or comfort from any, wept a great while; after which he recounted to many of those who were there the story of that which had befallen that night between the dead youth and his wife; and so was the cause of each one's death made everywhere manifest, the which was grievous unto all. Then, taking up the dead girl and decking her, as they use to deck the dead, they laid her beside Girolamo on the same bier and there long bewept her; after which the twain were buried in one same tomb, and so these, whom love had not availed to conjoin on life, death conjoined with an inseparable union."


Day the Fourth


Neifile having made an end of her story, which had awakened no little compassion in all the ladies her companions, the king, who purposed not to infringe Dioneo his privilege, there being none else to tell but they twain, began, "Gentle ladies, since you have such compassion upon ill-fortuned loves, it hath occurred to me to tell you a story whereof it will behove you have no less pity than of the last, for that those to whom that which I shall tell happened were persons of more account than those of whom it hath been spoken and yet more cruel was the mishap that befell them.

You must know, then, that according to that which the Provençals relate, there were aforetime in Provence two noble knights, each of whom had castles and vassals under him, called the one Sir Guillaume de Roussillon and the other Sir Guillaume de Guardestaing, and for that they were both men of great prowess in arms, they loved each other with an exceeding love and were wont to go still together and clad in the same colours to every tournament or jousting or other act of arms. Although they abode each in his own castle and were distant, one from other, a good half score miles, yet it came to pass that, Sir Guillaume de Roussillon having a very fair and lovesome lady to wife, Sir Guillaume de Guardestaing, notwithstanding the friendship and fellowship that was between them, become beyond measure enamoured of her and so wrought, now with one means and now with another, that the lady became aware of his passion and knowing him for a very valiant knight, it pleased her and she began to return his love, insomuch that she desired and tendered233 nothing more than him nor awaited otherwhat than to be solicited of him; the which was not long in coming to pass and they foregathered once and again.

Loving each other amain and conversing together less discreetly than behoved, it befell that the husband became aware of their familiarity and was mightily incensed thereat, insomuch that the great love he bore to Guardestaing was turned into mortal hatred; but this he knew better to keep hidden than the two lovers had known to conceal their love and was fully resolved in himself to kill him. Roussillon being in this mind, it befell that a great tourneying was proclaimed in France, the which he forthright signified to Guardestaing and sent to bid him come to him, an it pleased him, so they might take counsel together if and how they should go thither; whereto the other very joyously answered that he would without fail come to sup with him on the ensuing day. Roussillon, hearing this, thought the time come whenas he might avail to kill him and accordingly on the morrow he armed himself and mounting to horse with a servant of his, lay at ambush, maybe a mile from his castle, in a wood whereas Guardestaing must pass.

There after he had awaited him a good while, he saw him come, unarmed and followed by two servants in like case, as one who apprehends nothing from him; and when he saw him come whereas he would have him, he rushed out upon him, lance in hand, full of rage and malice, crying, 'Traitor, thou art dead!' And to say thus and to plunge the lance into his breast were one and the same thing. Guardestaing, without being able to make any defence or even to say a word, fell from his horse, transfixed of the lance, and a little after died, whilst his servants, without waiting to learn who had done this, turned their horses' heads and fled as quickliest they might, towards their lord's castle. Roussillon dismounted and opening the dead man's breast with a knife, with his own hands tore out his heart, which he let wrap in the pennon of a lance and gave to one of his men to carry. Then, commanding that none should dare make words of the matter, he remounted, it being now night, and returned to his castle.

The lady, who had heard that Guardestaing was to be there that evening to supper and looked for him with the utmost impatience, seeing him not come, marvelled sore and said to her husband, 'How is it, sir, that Guardestaing is not come?' 'Wife,' answered he, 'I have had [word] from him that he cannot be here till to-morrow'; whereat the lady abode somewhat troubled. Roussillon then dismounted and calling the cook, said to him, 'Take this wild boar's heart and look thou make a dainty dish thereof, the best and most delectable to eat that thou knowest, and when I am at table, send it to me in a silver porringer.' The cook accordingly took the heart and putting all his art thereto and all his diligence, minced it and seasoning it with store of rich spices, made of it a very dainty ragout.

When it was time, Sir Guillaume sat down to table with his wife and the viands came; but he ate little, being hindered in thought for the ill deed he had committed. Presently the cook sent him the ragout, which he caused234 set before the lady, feigning himself disordered[255] that evening and commending the dish to her amain. The lady, who was nowise squeamish, tasted thereof and finding it good, ate it all; which when the knight saw, he said to her, 'Wife, how deem you of this dish?' 'In good sooth, my lord,' answered she, 'it liketh me exceedingly.' Whereupon, 'So God be mine aid,' quoth Roussillon; 'I do indeed believe it you, nor do I marvel if that please you, dead, which, alive, pleased you more than aught else.' The lady, hearing this, hesitated awhile, then said, 'How? What have you made me eat?' 'This that you have eaten,' answered the knight, 'was in very truth the heart of Sir Guillaume de Guardestaing, whom you, disloyal wife as you are, so loved; and know for certain that it is his very heart, for that I tore it from his breast with these hands a little before my return.'

It needeth not to ask if the lady were woebegone, hearing this of him whom she loved more than aught else; and after awhile she said, 'You have done the deed of a disloyal and base knight, as you are; for, if I, unenforced of him, made him lord of my love and therein offended against you, not he, but I should have borne the penalty thereof. But God forfend that ever other victual should follow upon such noble meat the heart of so valiant and so courteous a gentleman as was Sir Guillaume de Guardestaing!' Then, rising to her feet, without any manner of hesitation, she let herself fall backward through a window which was behind her and which was exceeding high above the ground; wherefore, as she fell, she was not only killed, but well nigh broken in pieces.

Sir Guillaume, seeing this, was sore dismayed and himseemed he had done ill; wherefore, being adread of the country people and of the Count of Provence, he let saddle his horses and made off. On the morrow it was known all over the country how the thing had passed; whereupon the two bodies were, with the utmost grief and lamentation, taken up by Guardestaing's people and those of the lady and laid in one same sepulchre in the chapel of the latter's own castle; and thereover were verses written, signifying who these were that were buried therewithin and the manner and occasion of their death."[256]



Day the Fourth


Filostrato having made an end of his telling, it rested only with Dioneo to accomplish his task, who, knowing this and it being presently commanded him of the king, began as follows: 'The sorrows that have been this day related of ill fortuned loves have saddened not only your eyes and hearts, ladies, but mine also; wherefore I have ardently longed for an end to be made thereof. Now that, praised be God, they are finished (except I should choose to make an ill addition to such sorry ware, from which God keep me!), I will, without farther ensuing so dolorous a theme, begin with something blither and better, thereby perchance affording a good argument for that which is to be related on the ensuing day.

You must know, then, fairest lasses, that there was in Salerno, no great while since, a very famous doctor in surgery, by name Master Mazzeo della Montagna, who, being already come to extreme old age, took to wife a fair and gentle damsel of his city and kept better furnished with sumptuous and rich apparel and jewels and all that can pleasure a lady than any woman of the place. True it is she went a-cold most of her time, being kept of her husband ill covered abed; for, like as Messer Ricardo di Chinzica (of whom we already told) taught his wife to observe saints' days and holidays, even so the doctor pretended to her that once lying with a woman necessitated I know not how many days' study to recruit the strength and the like toys; whereof she abode exceeding ill content and like a discreet and high-spirited woman as she was, bethought herself, so she might the better husband the household good, to betake herself to the highway and seek to spend others' gear. To this end, considering divers young men, at last she found one to her mind and on him she set all her hope; whereof he becoming aware and she pleasing him mightily, he in like manner turned all his love upon her.

The spark in question was called Ruggieri da Jeroli, a man of noble birth, but of lewd life and blameworthy carriage, insomuch that he had left himself neither friend nor kinsman who wished him well or cared to see him and was defamed throughout all Salerno for thefts and other knaveries of the vilest; but of this the lady recked little, he pleasing her for otherwhat, and with the aid of a maid of hers, she wrought on such wise that they came together. After they had taken some delight, the lady proceeded to blame his past way of life and to pray him, for the love of her, to desist from these ill fashions; and to give him the means of doing this,236 she fell to succouring him, now with one sum of money and now with another. On this wise they abode together, using the utmost discretion, till it befell that a sick man was put into the doctor's hands, who had a gangrened leg, and Master Mazzeo, having examined the case, told the patient's kinsfolk that, except a decayed bone he had in his leg were taken out, needs must he have the whole limb cut off or die, and that, by taking out the bone, he might recover, but that he would not undertake him otherwise than for a dead man; to which those to whom the sick man pertained agreed and gave the latter into his hands for such. The doctor, judging that the patient might not brook the pain nor would suffer himself to be operated, without an opiate, and having appointed to set about the matter at evensong, let that morning distil a certain water of his composition, which being drunken by the sick man, should make him sleep so long as he deemed necessary for the performing of the operation upon him, and fetching it home, set it in his chamber, without telling any what it was.

The hour of vespers come and the doctor being about to go to the patient in question, there came to him a messenger from certain very great friends of his at Malfi, charging him fail not for anything to repair thither incontinent, for that there had been a great fray there, in which many had been wounded. Master Mazzeo accordingly put off the tending of the leg until the ensuing morning and going aboard a boat, went off to Malfi, whereupon his wife, knowing that he would not return home that night, let fetch Ruggieri, as of her wont, and bringing him into her chamber, locked him therewithin, against certain other persons of the house should be gone to sleep. Ruggieri, then, abiding in the chamber, awaiting his mistress, and being,—whether for fatigue endured that day or salt meat that he had eaten or maybe for usance,—sore, athirst, caught sight of the flagon of water, which the doctor had prepared for the sick man and which stood in the window, and deeming it drinking water, set it to his mouth and drank it all off; nor was it long ere a great drowsiness took him and he fell asleep.

The lady came to the chamber as first she might and finding Ruggieri asleep, nudged him and bade him in a low voice arise, but to no effect, for he replied not neither stirred anywhit; whereat she was somewhat vexed and nudged him more sharply, saying, 'Get up, slugabed! An thou hadst a mind to sleep, thou shouldst have betaken thee to thine own house and not come hither.' Ruggieri, being thus pushed, fell to the ground from a chest whereon he lay and gave no more sign of life than a dead body; whereupon the lady, now somewhat alarmed, began to seek to raise him up and to shake him more roughly, tweaking him by the nose and plucking him by the beard, but all in vain; he had tied his ass to a fast picket.[257] At this she began to fear lest he were dead; nevertheless she proceeded to pinch him sharply and burn his flesh with a lighted taper, but all to no purpose; wherefore, being no doctress, for all her husband was a physician, she doubted not but he was237 dead in very deed. Loving him over all else as she did, it needeth no asking if she were woebegone for this and daring not make any outcry, she silently fell a-weeping over him and bewailing so sore a mishap.

After awhile, fearing to add shame to her loss, she bethought herself that it behoved her without delay find a means of carrying the dead man forth of the house and knowing not how to contrive this, she softly called her maid and discovering to her her misadventure sought counsel of her. The maid marvelled exceedingly and herself pulled and pinched Ruggieri, but, finding him without sense or motion, agreed with her mistress that he was certainly dead and counselled her put him forth of the house. Quoth the lady, 'And where can we put him, so it may not be suspected, whenas he shall be seen to-morrow morning, that he hath been brought out hence?' 'Madam,' answered the maid, 'I saw, this evening at nightfall, over against the shop of our neighbour yonder the carpenter, a chest not overbig, the which, an the owner have not taken it in again, will come very apt for our affair; for that we can lay him therein, after giving him two or three slashes with a knife, and leave him be. I know no reason why whoso findeth him should suppose him to have been put there from this house rather than otherwhence; nay, it will liefer be believed, seeing he was a young man of lewd life, that he hath been slain by some enemy of his, whilst going about to do some mischief or other, and after clapped in the chest.'

The maid's counsel pleased the lady, save that she would not hear of giving him any wound, saying that for naught in the world would her heart suffer her to do that. Accordingly she sent her to see if the chest were yet whereas she had noted it and she presently returned and said, 'Ay.' Then, being young and lusty, with the aid of her mistress, she took Ruggieri on her shoulders and carrying him out,—whilst the lady forewent her, to look if any came,—clapped him into the chest and shutting down the lid, left him there. Now it chanced that, a day or two before, two young men, who lent at usance, had taken up their abode in a house a little farther and lacking household gear, but having a mind to gain much and spend little, had that day espied the chest in question and had plotted together, if it should abide there the night, to carry it off to their own house. Accordingly, midnight come, they sallied forth and finding the chest still there, without looking farther, they hastily carried it off, for all it seemed to them somewhat heavy, to their own house, where they set it down beside a chamber in which their wives slept and there leaving it, without concerning themselves for the nonce to settle it overnicely, betook them to bed.

Presently, the morning drawing near, Ruggieri, who had slept a great while, having by this time digested the sleeping draught and exhausted its effects, awoke and albeit his sleep was broken and his senses in some measure restored, there abode yet a dizziness in his brain, which held him stupefied, not that night only, but some days after. Opening his eyes and seeing nothing, he put out his hands hither and thither and finding himself in the chest, bethought himself and said, 'What is this? Where am I? Am I asleep or awake? Algates238 I mind me that I came this evening into my mistress's chamber and now meseemeth I am in a chest. What meaneth this? Can the physician have returned or other accident befallen, by reason whereof the lady hath hidden me here, I being asleep? Methinketh it must have been thus; assuredly it was so.' Accordingly, he addressed himself to abide quiet and hearken if he could hear aught and after he had abidden thus a great while, being somewhat ill at ease in the chest, which was small, and the side whereon he lay irking him, he would have turned over to the other and wrought so dexterously that, thrusting his loins against one of the sides of the chest, which had not been set on a level place, he caused it first to incline to one side and after topple over. In falling, it made a great noise, whereat the women who slept therenigh awoke and being affrighted, were silent for fear. Ruggieri was sore alarmed at the fall of the chest, but, finding that it had opened in the fall, chose rather, if aught else should betide, to be out of it than to abide therewithin. Accordingly, he came forth and what with knowing not where he was and what with one thing and another, he fell to groping about the house, so haply he should find a stair or a door, whereby he might get him gone.

The women, hearing this, began to say, 'Who is there?' But Ruggieri, knowing not the voice, answered not; whereupon they proceeded to call the two young men, who, for that they had overwatched themselves, slept fast and heard nothing of all this. Thereupon the women, waxing more fearful, arose and betaking themselves to the windows, fell a-crying, 'Thieves! Thieves!' At this sundry of the neighbours ran up and made their way, some by the roof and some by one part and some by another, into the house; and the young men also, awaking for the noise, arose and seized Ruggieri, who finding himself there, was in a manner beside himself for wonderment and saw no way of escape. Then they gave him into the hands of the officers of the governor of the city, who had now run thither at the noise and carried him before their chief. The latter, for that he was held of all a very sorry fellow, straightway put him to the question and he confessed to having entered the usurers' house to steal; whereupon the governor thought to let string him up by the neck without delay.

The news was all over Salerno by the morning that Ruggieri had been taken in the act of robbing the money-lenders' house, which the lady and her maid hearing, they were filled with such strange and exceeding wonderment that they were like to persuade themselves that they had not done, but had only dreamed of doing, that which they had done overnight; whilst the lady, to boot, was so concerned at the news of the danger wherein Ruggieri was that she was like to go mad. Soon after half tierce[258] the physician, having returned from Malfi and wishing to medicine his patient, called for his prepared water and finding the flagon empty, made a great outcry, saying that nothing could abide as it was in his house. The lady, who was troubled with another great chagrin, answered angrily, saying 'What wouldst thou say, doctor, of grave matter, whenas thou makest such239 an outcry anent a flagonlet of water overset? Is there no more water to be found in the world?' 'Wife,' rejoined the physician, 'thou thinkest this was common water; it was not so; nay, it was a water prepared to cause sleep'; and told her for what occasion he had made it. When she heard this, she understood forthright that Ruggieri had drunken the opiate and had therefore appeared to them dead and said to her husband, 'Doctor, we knew it not; wherefore do you make yourself some more'; and the physician, accordingly, seeing he might not do otherwise, let make thereof anew.

A little after, the maid, who had gone by her mistress's commandment to learn what should be reported of Ruggieri, returned and said to her, 'Madam, every one missaith of Ruggieri; nor, for aught I could hear, is there friend or kinsman who hath risen up or thinketh to rise up to assist him, and it is held certain that the prefect of police will have him hanged to-morrow. Moreover, I have a strange thing to tell you, to wit, meseemeth I have discovered how he came into the money-lenders' house, and hear how. You know the carpenter overagainst whose shop was the chest wherein we laid him; he was but now at the hottest words in the world with one to whom it seemeth the chest belonged; for the latter demanded of him the price of his chest, and the carpenter replied that he had not sold it, but that it had that night been stolen from him. Whereto, "Not so," quoth the other, "nay, thou soldest it to the two young men, the money-lenders yonder, as they told me yesternight, when I saw it in their house what time Ruggieri was taken." "They lie," answered the carpenter. "I never sold it to them; but they stole it from me yesternight. Let us go to them." So they went off with one accord to the money-lenders' house, and I came back hither. On this wise, as you may see, I conclude that Ruggieri was transported whereas he was found; but how he came to life again I cannot divine.'

The lady now understood very well how the case stood and telling the maid what she had heard from the physician, besought her help to save Ruggieri, for that she might, an she would, at once save him and preserve her honour. Quoth she, 'Madam, teach me how, and I will gladly do anything.' Whereupon the lady, whose wits were sharpened by the urgency of the case, having promptly bethought herself of that which was to do, particularly acquainted the maid therewith, who first betook herself to the physician and weeping, began to say to him, 'Sir, it behoveth me ask you pardon of a great fault, which I have committed against you.' 'In what?' asked the doctor, and she, never giving over weeping, answered, 'Sir, you know what manner young man is Ruggieri da Jeroli. He took a liking to me awhile agone and partly for fear and partly for love, needs must I become his mistress. Yesternight, knowing that you were abroad, he cajoled me on such wise that I brought him into your house to lie with me in my chamber, and he being athirst and I having no whither more quickly to resort for water or wine, unwilling as I was that your lady, who was in the saloon, should see me, I remembered me to have seen a flagon of water in your chamber. Accordingly, I ran for it and giving him the water to drink, replaced the flagon whence I240 had taken it, whereof I find you have made a great outcry in the house. And certes I confess I did ill; but who is there doth not ill bytimes? Indeed, I am exceeding grieved to have done it, not so much for the thing itself as for that which hath ensued of it and by reason whereof Ruggieri is like to lose his life. Wherefore I pray you, as most I may, pardon me and give me leave to go succour Ruggieri inasmuch as I can.' The physician, hearing this, for all he was angry, answered jestingly, 'Thou hast given thyself thine own penance therefor, seeing that, whereas thou thoughtest yesternight to have a lusty young fellow who would shake thy skincoats well for thee, thou hadst a sluggard; wherefore go and endeavour for the deliverance of thy lover; but henceforth look thou bring him not into the house again, or I will pay thee for this time and that together.'

The maid, thinking she had fared well for the first venue, betook herself, as quickliest she might, to the prison, where Ruggieri lay and coaxed the gaoler to let her speak with the prisoner, whom after she had instructed what answers he should make to the prefect of police, an he would fain escape, she contrived to gain admission to the magistrate himself. The latter, for that she was young and buxom, would fain, ere he would hearken to her, cast his grapnel aboard the good wench, whereof she, to be the better heard, was no whit chary; then, having quitted herself of the grinding due,[259] 'Sir,' said she, 'you have here Ruggieri da Jeroli taken for a thief; but the truth is not so.' Then, beginning from the beginning, she told him the whole story; how she, being his mistress, had brought him into the physician's house and had given him the drugged water to drink, unknowing what it was, and how she had put him for dead into the chest; after which she told him the talk she had heard between the master carpenter and the owner of the chest, showing him thereby how Ruggieri had come into the money-lenders' house.

The magistrate, seeing it an easy thing to come at the truth of the matter, first questioned the physician if it were true of the water and found that it was as she had said; whereupon he let summon the carpenter and him to whom the chest belonged and the two money-lenders and after much parley, found that the latter had stolen the chest overnight and put it in their house. Ultimately he sent for Ruggieri and questioned him where he had lain that night, whereto he replied that where he had lain he knew not; he remembered indeed having gone to pass the night with Master Mazzeo's maid, in whose chamber he had drunken water for a sore thirst he had; but what became of him after he knew not, save that, when he awoke, he found himself in the money-lenders' house in a chest. The prefect, hearing these things and taking great pleasure therein, caused the maid and Ruggieri and the carpenter and the money-lenders repeat their story again and again; and in the end, seeing Ruggieri to be innocent, he released him and amerced the money-lenders in half a score ounces for that they had stolen the chest. How welcome this was to Ruggieri, none need ask, and it was beyond measure pleasing to his mis241tress, who together with her lover and the precious maid, who had proposed to give him the slashes with the knife, many a time after laughed and made merry of the matter, still continuing their loves and their disport from good to better; the which I would well might so betide myself, save always the being put in the chest."

If the former stories had saddened the hearts of the lovesome ladies, this last one of Dioneo's made them laugh heartily, especially when he spoke of the prefect casting his grapnel aboard the maid, that they were able thus to recover themselves of the melancholy caused by the others. But the king, seeing that the sun began to grow yellow and that the term of his seignory was come, with very courteous speech excused himself to the fair ladies for that which he had done, to wit, that he had caused discourse of so sorrowful a matter as that of lovers' infelicity; which done, he rose to his feet and taking from his head the laurel wreath, whilst the ladies waited to see on whom he should bestow it, set it daintily on Fiammetta's fair head, saying, "I make over this crown to thee, as to her who will, better than any other, know how with to-morrow's pleasance to console these ladies our companions of to-day's woefulness."

Fiammetta, whose locks were curled and long and golden and fell over her white and delicate shoulders and whose soft-rounded face was all resplendent with white lilies and vermeil roses commingled, with two eyes in her head as they were those of a peregrine falcon and a dainty little mouth, the lips whereof seemed twin rubies, answered, smiling, "And I, Filostrato, I take it willingly, and that thou mayst be the better cognizant of that which thou hast done, I presently will and command that each prepare to discourse to-morrow of THAT WHICH HATH HAPPILY BETIDED LOVERS AFTER SUNDRY CRUEL AND MISFORTUNATE ADVENTURES." Her proposition[260] was pleasing unto all and she, after summoning the seneschal and taking counsel with him of things needful, arising from session, blithely dismissed all the company until supper-time. Accordingly, they all proceeded, according to their various appetites, to take their several pleasures, some wandering about the garden, whose beauties were not such as might lightly tire, and other some betaking themselves towards the mills which wrought therewithout, whilst the rest fared some hither and some thither, until the hour of supper, which being come, they all foregathered, as of their wont, anigh the fair fountain and there supped with exceeding pleasance and well served. Presently, arising thence, they addressed themselves, as of their wont, to dancing and singing, and Filomena leading off the dance, the queen said, "Filostrato, I purpose not to depart from the usance of those who have foregone me in the sovranty, but, like as they have done, so I intend that a song be sung at my commandment; and as I am assured that thy songs are even such as are thy stories, it is our pleasure that, so no more days than this be troubled with thine ill fortunes, thou sing such one thereof as most pleaseth thee." Filostrato replied that he would well and242 forthright proceeded to sing on this wise:

Weeping, I demonstrate

How sore with reason doth my heart complain

Of love betrayed and plighted faith in vain.

Love, whenas first there was of thee imprest

Thereon[261] her image for whose sake I sigh,

Sans hope of succour aye,

So full of virtue didst thou her pourtray,

That every torment light accounted I

That through thee to my breast

Grown full of drear unrest

And dole, might come; but now, alack! I'm fain

To own my error, not withouten pain.

Yea, of the cheat first was I made aware,

Seeing myself of her forsaken sheer,

In whom I hoped alone;

For, when I deemed myself most fairly grown

Into her favour and her servant dear,

Without her thought or care

Of my to-come despair,

I found she had another's merit ta'en

To heart and put me from her with disdain.

Whenas I knew me banished from my stead,

Straight in my heart a dolorous plaint there grew,

That yet therein hath power,

And oft I curse the day and eke the hour

When first her lovesome visage met my view,

Graced with high goodlihead;

And more enamouréd

Than eye, my soul keeps up its dying strain,

Faith, ardour, hope, blaspheming still amain.

How void my misery is of all relief

Thou mayst e'en feel, so sore I call thee, sire,

With voice all full of woe;

Ay, and I tell thee that it irks me so

That death for lesser torment I desire.

Come, death, then; shear the sheaf

Of this my life of grief

And with thy stroke my madness eke assain;

Go where I may, less dire will be my bane.

No other way than death is left my spright,

Ay, and none other solace for my dole;

Then give it[262] me straightway,

Love; put an end withal to my dismay:

Ah, do it; since fate's spite

Hath robbed me of delight;

Gladden thou her, lord, with my death, love-slain,

As thou hast cheered her with another swain.

243My song, though none to learn thee lend an ear,

I reck the less thereof, indeed, that none

Could sing thee even as I;

One only charge I give thee, ere I die,

That thou find Love and unto him alone

Show fully how undear

This bitter life and drear

Is to me, craving of his might he deign

Some better harbourage I may attain.

Weeping I demonstrate

How sore with reason doth my heart complain

Of love betrayed and plighted faith in vain.

The words of this song clearly enough discovered the state of Filostrato's mind and the cause thereof, the which belike the countenance of a certain lady who was in the dance had yet plainlier declared, had not the shades of the now fallen night hidden the blushes that rose to her face. But, when he had made an end of his song, many others were sung, till such time as the hour of sleep arrived, whereupon, at the queen's commandment, each of the ladies withdrew to her chamber.