The Decameron

Day the Ninth

Here Beginneth the Ninth Day of the Decameron Wherein Under the Governance of Emilia Each Discourseth According As It Pleaseth Him and of That Which Is Most to His Liking

The light, from whose resplendence the night fleeth, had already changed all the eighth heaven[423] from azure to watchet-colour[424] and the flowerets began428 to lift their heads along the meads, when Emilia, uprising, let call the ladies her comrades and on like wise the young men, who, being come, fared forth, ensuing the slow steps of the queen, and betook themselves to a coppice but little distant from the palace. Therein entering, they saw the animals, wild goats and deer and others, as if assured of security from the hunters by reason of the prevailing pestilence, stand awaiting them no otherwise than as they were grown without fear or tame, and diverted themselves awhile with them, drawing near, now to this one and now to that, as if they would fain lay hands on them, and making them run and skip. But, the sun now waxing high, they deemed it well to turn back. They were all garlanded with oak leaves, with their hands full of flowers and sweet-scented herbs, and whoso encountered them had said no otherwhat than "Or these shall not be overcome of death or it will slay them merry." On this wise, then, they fared on, step by step, singing and chatting and laughing, till they came to the palace, where they found everything orderly disposed and their servants full of mirth and joyous cheer. There having rested awhile, they went not to dinner till half a dozen canzonets, each merrier than other, had been carolled by the young men and the ladies; then, water being given to their hands, the seneschal seated them all at table, according to the queen's pleasure, and the viands being brought, they all ate blithely. Rising thence, they gave themselves awhile to dancing and music-making, and after, by the queen's commandment, whoso would betook himself to rest. But presently, the wonted hour being come, all in the accustomed place assembled to discourse, whereupon the queen, looking at Filomena, bade her give commencement to the stories of that day, and she, smiling, began on this wise:


Day the Ninth


"Since it is your pleasure, madam, I am well pleased to be she who shall run the first ring in this open and free field of story-telling, wherein your magnificence hath set us; the which an I do well, I doubt not but that those who shall come after will do well and better. Many a time, charming ladies, hath it429 been shown in our discourses what and how great is the power of love; natheless, for that medeemeth not it hath been fully spoken thereof (no, nor would be, though we should speak of nothing else for a year to come,) and that not only doth love bring lovers into divers dangers of death, but causeth them even to enter for dead into the abiding-places of the dead, it is my pleasure to relate to you a story thereof, over and above those which have been told, whereby not only will you apprehend the puissance of love, but will know the wit used by a worthy lady in ridding herself of two who loved her against her will.

You must know, then, that there was once in the city of Pistoia a very fair widow lady, of whom two of our townsmen, called the one Rinuccio Palermini and the other Alessandro Chiarmontesi, there abiding by reason of banishment from Florence, were, without knowing one of other, passionately enamoured, having by chance fallen in love with her and doing privily each his utmost endeavour to win her favour. The gentlewoman in question, whose name was Madam Francesca de' Lazzari, being still importuned of the one and the other with messages and entreaties, to which she had whiles somewhat unwisely given ear, and desiring, but in vain, discreetly to retract, bethought herself how she might avail to rid herself of their importunity by requiring them of a service, which, albeit it was possible, she conceived that neither of them would render her, to the intent that, they not doing that which she required, she might have a fair and colourable occasion of refusing to hearken more to their messages; and the device which occurred to her was on this wise.

There had died that very day at Pistoia, one, who, albeit his ancestors were gentlemen, was reputed the worst man that was, not only in Pistoia, but in all the world; more by token that he was in his lifetime so misshapen and of so monstrous a favour that whoso knew him not, seeing him for the first time, had been affeared of him; and he had been buried in a tomb without the church of the Minor Friars. This circumstance she bethought herself would in part be very apt to her purpose and accordingly she said to a maid of hers, 'Thou knowest the annoy and the vexation I suffer all day long by the messages of yonder two Florentines, Rinuccio and Alessandro. Now I am not disposed to gratify [either of] them with my love, and to rid myself of them, I have bethought myself, for the great proffers that they make, to seek to make proof of them in somewhat which I am certain they will not do; so shall I do away from me this their importunity, and thou shalt see how. Thou knowest that Scannadio,[425] for so was the wicked man called of whom we have already spoken, 'was this morning buried in the burial-place of the Minor Brethren, Scannadio, of whom, whenas they saw him alive, let alone dead, the doughtiest men of this city went in fear; wherefore go thou privily first to Alessandro and bespeak him, saying, "Madam Francesca giveth thee to know that now is the time come430 whenas thou mayst have her love, which thou hast so much desired, and be with her, an thou wilt, on this wise. This night, for a reason which thou shalt know after, the body of Scannadio, who was this morning buried, is to be brought to her house by a kinsman of hers, and she, being in great fear of him, dead though he be, would fain not have him there; wherefore she prayeth thee that it please thee, by way of doing her a great service, go this evening, at the time of the first sleep, to the tomb wherein he is buried, and donning the dead man's clothes, abide as thou wert he until such time as they shall come for thee. Then, without moving or speaking, thou must suffer thyself be taken up out of the tomb and carried to her house, where she will receive thee, and thou mayst after abide with her and depart at thy leisure, leaving to her the care of the rest." An he say that he will do it, well and good; but, should he refuse, bid him on my part, never more show himself whereas I may be and look, as he valueth his life, that he send me no more letters or messages. Then shalt thou betake thee to Rinuccio Palermini and say to him, "Madam Francesca saith that she is ready to do thine every pleasure, an thou wilt render her a great service, to wit, that to-night, towards the middle hour, thou get thee to the tomb wherein Scannadio was this morning buried and take him up softly thence and bring him to her at her house, without saying a word of aught thou mayst hear or feel. There shalt thou learn what she would with him and have of her thy pleasure; but, an it please thee not to do this, she chargeth thee never more send her writ nor message."'

The maid betook herself to the two lovers and did her errand punctually to each, saying as it had been enjoined her; whereto each made answer that, an it pleased her, they would go, not only into a tomb, but into hell itself. The maid carried their reply to the lady and she waited to see if they would be mad enough to do it. The night come, whenas it was the season of the first sleep, Alessandro Chiarmontesi, having stripped himself to his doublet, went forth of his house to take Scannadio's place in the tomb; but, by the way, there came a very frightful thought into his head and he fell a-saying in himself, 'Good lack, what a fool I am! Whither go I? How know I but yonder woman's kinsfolk, having maybe perceived that I love her and believing that which is not, have caused me do this, so they may slaughter me in yonder tomb? An it should happen thus, I should suffer for it nor would aught in the world be ever known thereof to their detriment. Or what know I but maybe some enemy of mine hath procured me this, whom she belike loveth and seeketh to oblige therein?' Then said he, 'But, grant that neither of these things be and that her kinsfolk are e'en for carrying me to her house, I must believe that they want not Scannadio's body to hold it in their arms or to put it in hers; nay, it is rather to be conceived that they mean to do it some mischief, as the body of one who maybe disobliged them in somewhat aforetime. She saith that I am not to say a word for aught that I may feel. But, should they put out mine eyes or draw my teeth or lop off431 my hands or play me any other such trick, how shall I do? How could I abide quiet? And if I speak, they will know me and mayhap do me a mischief, or, though they do me no hurt, yet shall I have accomplished nothing, for that they will not leave me with the lady; whereupon she will say that I have broken her commandment and will never do aught to pleasure me.' So saying, he had well nigh returned home; but, nevertheless, his great love urged him on with counter arguments of such potency that they brought him to the tomb, which he opened and entering therein, stripped Scannadio of his clothes; then, donning them and shutting the tomb upon himself, he laid himself in the dead man's place. Thereupon he began to call to mind what manner of man the latter had been and remembering him of all the things whereof he had aforetime heard tell as having befallen by night, not to say in the sepulchres of the dead, but even otherwhere, his every hair began to stand on end and himseemed each moment as if Scannadio should rise upright and butcher him then and there. However, aided by his ardent love, he got the better of these and the other fearful thoughts that beset him and abiding as he were the dead man, he fell to awaiting that which should betide him.

Meanwhile, Rinuccio, midnight being now at hand, departed his house, to do that which had been enjoined him of his mistress, and as he went, he entered into many and various thoughts of the things which might possibly betide him; as, to wit, that he might fall into the hands of the police, with Scannadio's body on his shoulders, and be doomed to the fire as a sorcerer, and that he should, an the thing came to be known, incur the ill-will of his kinsfolk, and other like thoughts, whereby he was like to have been deterred. But after, bethinking himself again, 'Alack,' quoth he, 'shall I deny this gentlewoman, whom I have so loved and love, the first thing she requireth of me, especially as I am thereby to gain her favour? God forbid, though I were certainly to die thereof, but I should set myself to do that which I have promised!' Accordingly, he went on and presently coming to the sepulchre, opened it easily; which Alessandro hearing, abode still, albeit he was in great fear. Rinuccio, entering in and thinking to take Scannadio's body, laid hold of Alessandro's feet and drew him forth of the tomb; then, hoisting him on his shoulders, he made off towards the lady's house.

Going thus and taking no manner of heed to his burden, he jolted it many a time now against one corner and now another of certain benches that were beside the way, more by token that the night was so cloudy and so dark he could not see whither he went. He was already well nigh at the door of the gentlewoman, who had posted herself at the window with her maid, to see if he would bring Alessandro, and was ready armed with an excuse to send them both away, when it chanced that the officers of the watch, who were ambushed in the street and abode silently on the watch to lay hands upon a certain outlaw, hearing the scuffling that Rinuccio made with his feet, suddenly put out a light, to see what was to do and whither to go, and rattled their targets and halberds, crying, 'Who goeth there?' Rinuccio, seeing this and432 having scant time for deliberation, let fall his burden and made off as fast as his legs would carry him; whereupon Alessandro arose in haste and made off in his turn, for all he was hampered with the dead man's clothes, which were very long. The lady, by the light of the lantern put out by the police, had plainly recognized Rinuccio, with Alessandro on his shoulders, and perceiving the latter to be clad in Scannadio's clothes, marvelled amain at the exceeding hardihood of both; but, for all her wonderment, she laughed heartily to see Alessandro cast down on the ground and to see him after take to flight. Then, rejoiced at this accident and praising God that He had rid her of the annoy of these twain, she turned back into the house and betook herself to her chamber, avouching to her maid that without doubt they both loved her greatly, since, as it appeared, they had done that which she had enjoined them.

Meanwhile Rinuccio, woeful and cursing his ill fortune, for all that returned not home, but, as soon as the watch had departed the neighbourhood, he came back whereas he had dropped Alessandro and groped about, to see if he could find him again, so he might make an end of his service; but, finding him not and concluding that the police had carried him off, he returned to his own house, woebegone, whilst Alessandro, unknowing what else to do, made off home on like wise, chagrined at such a misadventure and without having recognized him who had borne him thither. On the morrow, Scannadio's tomb being found open and his body not to be seen, for that Alessandro had rolled it to the bottom of the vault, all Pistoia was busy with various conjectures anent the matter, and the simpler sort concluded that he had been carried off by the devils. Nevertheless, each of the two lovers signified to the lady that which he had done and what had befallen and excusing himself withal for not having full accomplished her commandment, claimed her favour and her love; but she, making believe to credit neither of this, rid herself of them with a curt response to the effect that she would never consent to do aught for them, since they had not done that which she had required of them."


Day the Ninth


Filomena was now silent and the lady's address in ridding herself of those whom she chose not to love having been commended of all, whilst, on the other hand, the presumptuous hardihood of the two gallants was held of them to be not love, but madness, the queen said gaily to Elisa, "Elisa, follow433 on." Accordingly, she promptly began, "Adroitly, indeed, dearest ladies, did Madam Francesca contrive to rid herself of her annoy, as hath been told; but a young nun, fortune aiding her, delivered herself with an apt speech from an imminent peril. As you know, there be many very dull folk, who set up for teachers and censors of others, but whom, as you may apprehend from my story, fortune bytimes deservedly putteth to shame, as befell the abbess, under whose governance was the nun of whom I have to tell.

You must know, then, that there was once in Lombardy a convent, very famous for sanctity and religion, wherein, amongst the other nuns who were there, was a young lady of noble birth and gifted with marvellous beauty, who was called Isabetta and who, coming one day to the grate to speak with a kinsman of hers, fell in love with a handsome young man who accompanied him. The latter, seeing her very fair and divining her wishes with his eyes, became on like wise enamoured of her, and this love they suffered a great while without fruit, to the no small unease of each. At last, each being solicited by a like desire, the young man hit upon a means of coming at his nun in all secrecy, and she consenting thereto, he visited her, not once, but many times, to the great contentment of both. But, this continuing, it chanced one night that he was, without the knowledge of himself or his mistress, seen of one of the ladies of the convent to take leave of Isabetta and go his ways. The nun communicated her discovery to divers others and they were minded at first to denounce Isabetta to the abbess, who was called Madam Usimbalda and who, in the opinion of the nuns and of whosoever knew her, was a good and pious lady; but, on consideration, they bethought themselves to seek to have the abbess take her with the young man, so there might be no room for denial. Accordingly, they held their peace and kept watch by turns in secret to surprise her.

Now it chanced that Isabetta, suspecting nothing of this nor being on her guard, caused her lover come thither one night, which was forthright known to those who were on the watch for this and who, whenas it seemed to them time, a good part of the night being spent, divided themselves into two parties, whereof one abode on guard at the door of her cell, whilst the other ran to the abbess's chamber and knocking at the door, till she answered, said to her, 'Up, madam; arise quickly, for we have discovered that Isabetta hath a young man in her cell.' Now the abbess was that night in company with a priest, whom she ofttimes let come to her in a chest; but, hearing the nuns' outcry and fearing lest, of their overhaste and eagerness, they should push open the door, she hurriedly arose and dressed herself as best she might in the dark. Thinking to take certain plaited veils, which nuns wear on their heads and call a psalter, she caught up by chance the priest's breeches, and such was her haste that, without remarking what she did, she threw them over her head, in lieu of the psalter, and going forth, hurriedly locked the door after her, saying, 'Where is this accursed one of God?' Then, in company with the others, who were so ardent and so intent upon having Isabetta taken in default that they434 noted not that which the abbess had on her head, she came to the cell-door and breaking it open, with the aid of the others, entered and found the two lovers abed in each other's arms, who, all confounded at such a surprise, abode fast, unknowing what to do.

The young lady was incontinent seized by the other nuns and haled off, by command of the abbess, to the chapter-house, whilst her gallant dressed himself and abode await to see what should be the issue of the adventure, resolved, if any hurt were offered to his mistress, to do a mischief to as many nuns as he could come at and carry her off. The abbess, sitting in chapter, proceeded, in the presence of all the nuns, who had no eyes but for the culprit, to give the latter the foulest rating that ever woman had, as having by her lewd and filthy practices (an the thing should come to be known without the walls) sullied the sanctity, the honour and the fair fame of the convent; and to this she added very grievous menaces. The young lady, shamefast and fearful, as feeling herself guilty, knew not what to answer and keeping silence, possessed the other nuns with compassion for her. However, after a while, the abbess multiplying words, she chanced to raise her eyes and espied that which the former had on her head and the hose-points that hung down therefrom on either side; whereupon, guessing how the matter stood, she was all reassured and said, 'Madam, God aid you, tie up your coif and after say what you will to me.'

The abbess, taking not her meaning, answered, 'What coif, vile woman that thou art? Hast thou the face to bandy pleasantries at such a time? Thinkest thou this that thou hast done is a jesting matter?' 'Prithee, madam,' answered Isabetta, 'tie up your coif and after say what you will to me.' Thereupon many of the nuns raised their eyes to the abbess's head and she also, putting her hand thereto, perceived, as did the others, why Isabetta spoke thus; wherefore the abbess, becoming aware of her own default and perceiving that it was seen of all, past hope of recoverance, changed her note and proceeding to speak after a fashion altogether different from her beginning, came to the conclusion that it is impossible to withstand the pricks of the flesh, wherefore she said that each should, whenas she might, privily give herself a good time, even as it had been done until that day. Accordingly, setting the young lady free, she went back to sleep with her priest and Isabetta returned to her lover, whom many a time thereafter she let come thither, in despite of those who envied her, whilst those of the others who were loverless pushed their fortunes in secret, as best they knew."



Day the Ninth


After Elisa had finished her story and all the ladies had returned thanks to God, who had with a happy issue delivered the young nun from the claws of her envious companions, the queen bade Filostrato follow on, and he, without awaiting further commandment, began, "Fairest ladies, the unmannerly lout of a Marchegan judge, of whom I told you yesterday, took out of my mouth a story of Calandrino and his companions, which I was about to relate; and for that, albeit it hath been much discoursed of him and them, aught that is told of him cannot do otherwise than add to our merriment, I will e'en tell you that which I had then in mind.

It hath already been clearly enough shown who Calandrino was and who were the others of whom I am to speak in this story, wherefore, without further preface, I shall tell you that an aunt of his chanced to die and left him two hundred crowns in small coin; whereupon he fell a-talking of wishing to buy an estate and entered into treaty with all the brokers in Florence, as if he had ten thousand gold florins to expend; but the matter still fell through, when they came to the price of the estate in question. Bruno and Buffalmacco, knowing all this, had told him once and again that he were better spend the money in making merry together with them than go buy land, as if he had had to make pellets;[426] but, far from this, they had never even availed to bring him to give them once to eat. One day, as they were complaining of this, there came up a comrade of theirs, a painter by name Nello, and they all three took counsel together how they might find a means of greasing their gullets at Calandrino's expense; wherefore, without more delay, having agreed among themselves of that which was to do, they watched next morning for his coming forth of his house, nor had he gone far when Nello accosted him, saying, 'Good-day, Calandrino.' Calandrino answered God give him good day and good year, and Nello, halting awhile, fell to looking him in the face; whereupon Calandrino asked him, 'At what lookest thou?' Quoth the painter, 'Hath aught ailed thee this night? Meseemeth thou are not thyself this morning.' Calandrino incontinent began to quake and said, 'Alack, how so? What deemest thou aileth me?' 'Egad,' answered Nello, 'as for that I can't say; but thou seemest to me all changed; belike it is nothing.' So saying, he let him pass, and Calandrino fared on, all misdoubtful, albeit he felt no whit ailing; but Buffalmacco, who was not far436 off, seeing him quit of Nello, made for him and saluting him, enquired if aught ailed him. Quoth Calandrino, 'I know not; nay, Nello told me but now that I seemed to him all changed. Can it be that aught aileth me?' 'Ay,' rejoined Buffalmacco, 'there must e'en be something or other amiss with thee, for thou appearest half dead.'

By this time it seemed to Calandrino that he had the fevers, when, lo, up came Bruno and the first thing he said was, 'Calandrino, what manner of face is this?' Calandrino, hearing them all in the same tale, held it for certain that he was in an ill way and asked them, all aghast, 'what shall I do?' Quoth Bruno, 'Methinketh thou wert best return home and get thee to bed and cover thyself well and send thy water to Master Simone the doctor, who is, as thou knowest, as our very creature and will tell thee incontinent what thou must do. We will go with thee and if it behoveth to do aught, we will do it.' Accordingly, Nello having joined himself to them, they returned home with Calandrino, who betook himself, all dejected, into the bedchamber and said to his wife, 'Come, cover me well, for I feel myself sore disordered.' Then, laying himself down, he despatched his water by a little maid to Master Simone, who then kept shop in the Old Market, at the sign of the Pumpkin, whilst Bruno said to his comrades, 'Abide you here with him, whilst I go hear what the doctor saith and bring him hither, if need be.' 'Ay, for God's sake, comrade mine,' cried Calandrino, 'go thither and bring me back word how the case standeth, for I feel I know not what within me.'

Accordingly, Bruno posted off to Master Simone and coming thither before the girl who brought the water, acquainted him with the case; wherefore, the maid being come and the physician, having seen the water, he said to her, 'Begone and bid Calandrino keep himself well warm, and I will come to him incontinent and tell him that which aileth him and what he must do.' The maid reported this to her master nor was it long before the physician and Bruno came, whereupon the former, seating himself beside Calandrino, fell to feeling his pulse and presently, the patient's wife being there present, he said, 'Harkye, Calandrino, to speak to thee as a friend, there aileth thee nought but that thou art with child.' When Calandrino heard this, he fell a-roaring for dolour and said, 'Woe's me! Tessa, this is thy doing, for that thou wilt still be uppermost; I told thee how it would be.' The lady, who was a very modest person, hearing her husband speak thus, blushed all red for shamefastness and hanging her head, went out of the room, without answering a word; whilst Calandrino, pursuing his complaint, said, 'Alack, wretch that I am! How shall I do? How shall I bring forth this child? Whence shall he issue? I see plainly I am a dead man, through the mad lust of yonder wife of mine, whom God make as woeful as I would fain be glad! Were I as well as I am not, I would arise and deal her so many and such buffets that I would break every bone in her body; albeit it e'en serveth me right, for that I should never have suffered her get the upper hand; but, for certain, an I come off alive this time, she may die of desire ere she do it again.'437

Bruno and Buffalmacco and Nello were like to burst with laughter, hearing Calandrino's words; however, they contained themselves, but Doctor Simple-Simon[427] laughed so immoderately that you might have drawn every tooth in his head. Finally, Calandrino commending himself to the physician and praying him give him aid and counsel in this his strait, the latter said to him, 'Calandrino, I will not have thee lose heart; for, praised be God, we have taken the case so betimes that, in a few days and with a little trouble, I will deliver thee thereof; but it will cost thee some little expense.' 'Alack, doctor mine,' cried Calandrino, 'ay, for the love of God, do it! I have here two hundred crowns, wherewith I was minded to buy me an estate; take them all, if need be, so I be not brought to bed; for I know not how I should do, seeing I hear women make such a terrible outcry, whereas they are about to bear child, for all they have ample commodity therefor, that methinketh, if I had that pain to suffer, I should die ere I came to the bringing forth.' Quoth the doctor, 'Have no fear of that; I will let make thee a certain ptisan of distilled waters, very good and pleasant to drink, which will in three mornings' time carry off everything and leave thee sounder than a fish; but look thou be more discreet for the future and suffer not thyself fall again into these follies. Now for this water it behoveth us have three pairs of fine fat capons, and for other things that are required thereanent, do thou give one of these (thy comrades) five silver crowns, so he may buy them, and let carry everything to my shop; and to-morrow, in God's name, I will send thee the distilled water aforesaid, whereof thou shalt proceed to drink a good beakerful at a time.' 'Doctor mine,' replied Calandrino, 'I put myself in your hands'; and giving Bruno five crowns and money for three pairs of capons, he besought him to oblige him by taking the pains to buy these things.

The physician then took his leave and letting make a little clary,[428] despatched it to Calandrino, whilst Bruno, buying the capons and other things necessary for making good cheer, ate them in company with his comrades and Master Simone. Calandrino drank of his clary three mornings, after which the doctor came to him, together with his comrades, and feeling his pulse, said to him, 'Calandrino, thou art certainly cured; wherefore henceforth thou mayst safely go about thine every business nor abide longer at home for this.' Accordingly, Calandrino arose, overjoyed, and went about his occasions, mightily extolling, as often as he happened to speak with any one, the fine cure that Master Simone had wrought of him, in that he had unbegotten him with child in three days' time, without any pain; whilst Bruno and Buffalmacco and Nello abode well pleased at having contrived with this device to overreach his niggardliness, albeit Dame Tessa, smoking the cheat, rated her husband amain thereanent."



Day the Ninth


Calandrino's speech concerning his wife had been hearkened of all the company with the utmost laughter; then, Filostrato being silent, Neifile, as the queen willed it, began, "Noble ladies, were it not uneather for men to show forth unto others their wit and their worth than it is for them to exhibit their folly and their vice, many would weary themselves in vain to put a bridle on their tongues; and this hath right well been made manifest to you by the folly of Calandrino, who had no call, in seeking to be made whole of the ailment in which his simplicity caused him believe, to publish the privy diversions of his wife; and this hath brought to my mind somewhat of contrary purport to itself, to wit, a story of how one man's knavery got the better of another's wit, to the grievous hurt and confusion of the over-reached one, the which it pleaseth me to relate to you.

There were, then, in Siena, not many years ago, two (as far as age went) full-grown men, each of whom was called Cecco. One was the son of Messer Angiolieri and the other of Messer Fortarrigo, and albeit in most other things they sorted ill of fashions one with the other, they were natheless so far of accord in one particular, to wit, that they were both hated of their fathers, that they were by reason thereof grown friends and companied often together. After awhile, Angiolieri, who was both a handsome man and a well-mannered, himseeming he could ill live at Siena of the provision assigned him of his father and hearing that a certain cardinal, a great patron of his, was come into the Marches of Ancona as the Pope's Legate, determined to betake himself to him, thinking thus to better his condition. Accordingly, acquainting his father with his purpose, he took order with him to have at once that which he was to give him in six months, so he might clothe and horse himself and make an honourable figure. As he went seeking some one whom he might carry with him for his service, the thing came to Fortarrigo's knowledge, whereupon he presently repaired to Angiolieri and besought him, as best he knew, to carry him with him, offering himself to be to him lackey and serving-man and all, without any wage beyond his expenses paid. Angiolieri answered that he would nowise take him, not but he knew him to be right well sufficient unto every manner of service, but for that he was a gambler and bytimes a drunkard, to boot. But the other replied that he would without fail keep himself from both of these defaults and affirmed it unto him with oaths galore, adding so many prayers that Angiolieri was pre439vailed upon and said that he was content.

Accordingly, they both set out one morning and went to dine at Buonconvento, where, after dinner, the heat being great, Angiolieri let make ready a bed at the inn and undressing himself, with Fortarrigo's aid, went to sleep, charging the latter call him at the stroke of none. As soon as his master was asleep, Fortarrigo betook himself to the tavern and there, after drinking awhile, he fell to gaming with certain men, who in a trice won of him some money he had and after, the very clothes he had on his back; whereupon, desirous of retrieving himself, he repaired, in his shirt as he was, to Angiolieri's chamber and seeing him fast asleep, took from his purse what monies he had and returning to play, lost these as he had lost the others. Presently, Angiolieri awoke and arising, dressed himself and enquired for Fortarrigo. The latter was not to be found and Angiolieri, concluding him to be asleep, drunken, somewhere, as was bytimes his wont, determined to leave him be and get himself another servant at Corsignano. Accordingly, he caused put his saddle and his valise on a palfrey he had and thinking to pay the reckoning, so he might get him gone, found himself without a penny; whereupon great was the outcry and all the hostelry was in an uproar, Angiolieri declaring that he had been robbed there and threatening to have the host and all his household carried prisoners to Siena.

At this moment up came Fortarrigo in his shirt, thinking to take his master's clothes, as he had taken his money, and seeing the latter ready to mount, said, 'What is this, Angiolieri? Must we needs be gone already? Good lack, wait awhile; there will be one here forthwith who hath my doublet in pawn for eight-and-thirty shillings; and I am certain that he will render it up for five-and-thirty, money down.' As he spoke, there came one who certified Angiolieri that it was Fortarrigo who had robbed him of his monies, by showing him the sum of those which the latter had lost at play; wherefore he was sore incensed and loaded Fortarrigo with reproaches; and had he not feared others more than he feared God, he had done him a mischief; then, threatening to have him strung up by the neck or outlawed from Siena, he mounted to horse. Fortarrigo, as if he spoke not to him, but to another, said, 'Good lack, Angiolieri, let be for the nonce this talk that skilleth not a straw, and have regard unto this; by redeeming it[429] forthright, we may have it again for five-and-thirty shillings; whereas, if we tarry but till to-morrow, he will not take less than the eight-and-thirty he lent me thereon; and this favour he doth me for that I staked it after his counsel. Marry, why should we not better ourselves by these three shillings?'

Angiolieri, hearing him talk thus, lost all patience (more by token that he saw himself eyed askance by the bystanders, who manifestly believed, not that Fortarrigo had gamed away his monies, but that he had yet monies of Fortarrigo's in hand) and said to him, 'What have I to do with thy doublet? Mayst thou be strung up by the neck, since not only hast thou robbed me and440 gambled away my money, but hinderest me to boot in my journey, and now thou makest mock of me.' However, Fortarrigo still stood to it, as it were not spoken to him and said, 'Ecod, why wilt thou not better me these three shillings? Thinkest thou I shall not be able to oblige thee therewith another time? Prithee, do it, an thou have any regard for me. Why all this haste? We shall yet reach Torrenieri betimes this evening. Come, find the purse; thou knowest I might ransack all Siena and not find a doublet to suit me so well as this; and to think I should let yonder fellow have it for eight-and-thirty shillings! It is worth yet forty shillings or more, so that thou wouldst worsen me in two ways.'[430]

Angiolieri, beyond measure exasperated to see himself first robbed and now held in parley after this fashion, made him no further answer, but, turning his palfrey's head, took the road to Torrenieri, whilst Fortarrigo, bethinking himself of a subtle piece of knavery, proceeded to trot after him in his shirt good two miles, still requiring him of his doublet. Presently, Angiolieri pricking on amain, to rid his ears of the annoy, Fortarrigo espied some husbandmen in a field, adjoining the highway in advance of him, and cried out to them, saying, 'Stop him, stop him!' Accordingly, they ran up, some with spades and others with mattocks, and presenting themselves in the road before Angiolieri, concluding that he had robbed him who came crying after him in his shirt, stopped and took him. It availed him little to tell them who he was and how the case stood, and Fortarrigo, coming up, said with an angry air, 'I know not what hindereth me from slaying thee, disloyal thief that thou wast to make off with my gear!' Then, turning to the countrymen, 'See, gentlemen,' quoth he, 'in what a plight he left me at the inn, having first gamed away all his own! I may well say by God and by you have I gotten back this much, and thereof I shall still be beholden to you.'

Angiolieri told them his own story, but his words were not heeded; nay, Fortarrigo, with the aid of the countrymen, pulled him off his palfrey and stripping him, clad himself in his clothes; then, mounting to horse, he left him in his shirt and barefoot and returned to Siena, avouching everywhere that he had won the horse and clothes of Angiolieri, whilst the latter, who had thought to go, as a rich man, to the cardinal in the Marches, returned to Buonconvento, poor and in his shirt, nor dared for shamefastness go straight back to Siena, but, some clothes being lent him, he mounted the rouncey that Fortarrigo had ridden and betook himself to his kinsfolk at Corsignano, with whom he abode till such time as he was furnished anew by his father. On this wise Fortarrigo's knavery baffled Angiolieri's fair advisement,[431] albeit his villainy was not left by the latter unpunished in due time and place."



Day the Ninth


Neifile's short story being finished and the company having passed it over without overmuch talk or laughter, the queen turned to Fiammetta and bade her follow on, to which she replied all blithely that she would well and began, "Gentlest ladies, there is, as methinketh you may know, nothing, how much soever it may have been talked thereof, but will still please, provided whoso is minded to speak of it know duly to choose the time and the place that befit it. Wherefore, having regard to our intent in being here (for that we are here to make merry and divert ourselves and not for otherwhat), meseemeth that everything which may afford mirth and pleasance hath here both due place and due time; and albeit it may have been a thousand times discoursed thereof, it should natheless be none the less pleasing, though one speak of it as much again. Wherefore, notwithstanding it hath been many times spoken among us of the sayings and doings of Calandrino, I will make bold, considering, as Filostrato said awhile ago, that these are all diverting, to tell you yet another story thereof, wherein were I minded to swerve from the fact, I had very well known to disguise and recount it under other names; but, for that, in the telling of a story, to depart from the truth of things betided detracteth greatly from the listener's pleasure, I will e'en tell it you in its true shape, moved by the reason aforesaid.

Niccolo Cornacchini was a townsman of ours and a rich man and had, among his other possessions, a fine estate at Camerata, whereon he let build a magnificent mansion and agreed with Bruno and Buffalmacco to paint it all for him; and they, for that the work was great, joined to themselves Nello and Calandrino and fell to work. Thither, for that there was none of the family in the house, although there were one or two chambers furnished with beds and other things needful and an old serving-woman abode there, as guardian of the place, a son of the said Niccolo, by name Filippo, being young and without a wife, was wont bytimes to bring some wench or other for his diversion and keep her there a day or two and after send her away. It chanced once, among other times, that he brought thither one called Niccolosa, whom a lewd fellow, by name Mangione, kept at his disposal in a house at Camaldoli and let out on hire. She was a woman of a fine person and well clad and for her kind well enough mannered and spoken.

One day at noontide, she having come forth her chamber in a white petticoat, with her hair twisted about her head, and being in act to wash her hands and face at a well that was in the courtyard of the mansion, it chanced that Calandrino came thither for water and saluted her familiarly.442 She returned him his greeting and fell to eying him, more because he seemed to her an odd sort of fellow than for any fancy she had for him; whereupon he likewise fell a-considering her and himseeming she was handsome, he began to find his occasions for abiding there and returned not to his comrades with the water, but, knowing her not, dared not say aught to her. She, who had noted his looking, glanced at him from time to time, to make game of him, heaving some small matter of sighs the while; wherefore Calandrino fell suddenly over head and ears in love with her and left not the courtyard till she was recalled by Filippo into the chamber. Therewithal he returned to work, but did nought but sigh, which Bruno, who had still an eye to his doings, for that he took great delight in his fashions, remarking, 'What a devil aileth thee, friend Calandrino?' quoth he. 'Thou dost nought but sigh.' 'Comrade,' answered Calandrino, 'had I but some one to help me, I should fare well.' 'How so?' enquired Bruno; and Calandrino replied, 'It must not be told to any; but there is a lass down yonder, fairer than a fairy, who hath fallen so mightily in love with me that 'twould seem to thee a grave matter. I noted it but now, whenas I went for the water.' 'Ecod,' cried Bruno, 'look she be not Filippo's wife.' Quoth Calandrino, 'Methinketh it is she, for that he called her and she went to him in the chamber; but what of that? In matters of this kind I would jockey Christ himself, let alone Filippo; and to tell thee the truth, comrade, she pleaseth me more than I can tell thee.' 'Comrade,' answered Bruno, 'I will spy thee out who she is, and if she be Filippo's wife, I will order thine affairs for thee in a brace of words, for she is a great friend of mine. But how shall we do, so Buffalmacco may not know? I can never get a word with her, but he is with me.' Quoth Calandrino, 'Of Buffalmacco I reck not; but we must beware of Nello, for that he is Tessa's kinsman and would mar us everything.' And Bruno said, 'True.'

Now he knew very well who the wench was, for that he had seen her come and moreover Filippo had told him. Accordingly, Calandrino having left work awhile and gone to get a sight of her, Bruno told Nello and Buffalmacco everything and they took order together in secret what they should do with him in the matter of this his enamourment. When he came back, Bruno said to him softly, 'Hast seen her?' 'Alack, yes,' replied Calandrino; 'she hath slain me.' Quoth Bruno, 'I must go see an it be she I suppose; and if it be so, leave me do.' Accordingly, he went down into the courtyard and finding Filippo and Niccolosa there, told them precisely what manner of man Calandrino was and took order with them of that which each of them should do and say, so they might divert themselves with the lovesick gull and make merry over his passion. Then, returning to Calandrino, he said, 'It is indeed she; wherefore needs must the thing be very discreetly managed, for, should Filippo get wind of it, all the water in the Arno would not wash us. But what wouldst thou have me say to her on thy part, if I should chance to get speech of her?' 'Faith,' answered Calandrino, 'thou shalt tell her, to begin with, that I will her a thousand measures of that good stuff that getteth443 with child, and after, that I am her servant and if she would have aught.... Thou takest me?' 'Ay,' said Bruno, 'leave me do.'

Presently, supper-time being come, the painters left work and went down into the courtyard, where they found Filippo and Niccolosa and tarried there awhile, to oblige Calandrino. The latter fell to ogling Niccolosa and making the oddest grimaces in the world, such and so many that a blind man would have remarked them. She on her side did everything that she thought apt to inflame him, and Filippo, in accordance with the instructions he had of Bruno, made believe to talk with Buffalmacco and the others and to have no heed of this, whilst taking the utmost diversion in Calandrino's fashions. However, after a while, to the latter's exceeding chagrin, they took their leave and as they returned to Florence, Bruno said to Calandrino, 'I can tell thee thou makest her melt like ice in the sun. Cock's body, wert thou to fetch thy rebeck and warble thereto some of those amorous ditties of thine, thou wouldst cause her cast herself out of window to come to thee.' Quoth Calandrino, 'Deemest thou, gossip? Deemest thou I should do well to fetch it?' 'Ay, do I,' answered Bruno; and Calandrino went on, 'Thou wouldst not credit me this morning, whenas I told it thee; but, for certain, gossip, methinketh I know better than any man alive to do what I will. Who, other than I, had known to make such a lady so quickly in love with me? Not your trumpeting young braggarts,[432] I warrant you, who are up and down all day long and could not make shift, in a thousand years, to get together three handsful of cherry stones. I would fain have thee see me with the rebeck; 'twould be fine sport for thee. I will have thee to understand once for all that I am no dotard, as thou deemest me, and this she hath right well perceived, she; but I will make her feel it othergates fashion, so once I get my claw into her back; by the very body of Christ, I will lead her such a dance that she will run after me, as the madwoman after her child.' 'Ay,' rejoined Bruno, 'I warrant me thou wilt rummage her; methinketh I see thee, with those teeth of thine that were made for virginal jacks,[433] bite that little vermeil mouth of hers and those her cheeks, that show like two roses, and after eat her all up.'

Calandrino, hearing this, fancied himself already at it and went singing and skipping, so overjoyed that he was like to jump out of his skin. On the morrow, having brought the rebeck, he, to the great diversion of all the company, sang sundry songs thereto; and in brief, he was taken with such an itch for the frequent seeing of her that he wrought not a whit, but ran a thousand times a day, now to the window, now to the door and anon into the courtyard, to get a look at her, whereof she, adroitly444 carrying out Bruno's instructions, afforded him ample occasion. Bruno, on his side, answered his messages in her name and bytimes brought him others as from her; and whenas she was not there, which was mostly the case, he carried him letters from her, wherein she gave him great hopes of compassing his desire, feigning herself at home with her kinsfolk, where he might not presently see her. On this wise, Bruno, with the aid of Buffalmacco, who had a hand in the matter, kept the game afoot and had the greatest sport in the world with Calandrino's antics, causing him give them bytimes, as at his mistress's request, now an ivory comb, now a purse and anon a knife and such like toys, for which they brought him in return divers paltry counterfeit rings of no value, with which he was vastly delighted; and to boot, they had of him, for their pains, store of dainty collations and other small matters of entertainment, so they might be diligent about his affairs.

On this wise they kept him in play good two months, without getting a step farther, at the end of which time, seeing the work draw to an end and bethinking himself that, an he brought not his amours to an issue in the meantime, he might never have another chance thereof, he began to urge and importune Bruno amain; wherefore, when next the girl came to the mansion, Bruno, having first taken order with her and Filippo of what was to be done, said to Calandrino, 'Harkye, gossip, yonder lady hath promised me a good thousand times to do that which thou wouldst have and yet doth nought thereof, and meseemeth she leadeth thee by the nose; wherefore, since she doth it not as she promiseth, we will an it like thee, make her do it, will she, nill she.' 'Ecod, ay!' answered Calandrino. 'For the love of God let it be done speedily.' Quoth Bruno, 'Will thy heart serve thee to touch her with a script I shall give thee?' 'Ay, sure,' replied Calandrino; and the other, 'Then do thou make shift to bring me a piece of virgin parchment and a live bat, together with three grains of frankincense and a candle that hath been blessed by the priest, and leave me do.' Accordingly, Calandrino lay in wait all the next night with his engines to catch a bat and having at last taken one, carried it to Bruno, with the other things required; whereupon the latter, withdrawing to a chamber, scribbled divers toys of his fashion upon the parchment, in characters of his own devising, and brought it to him, saying, 'Know, Calandrino, that, if thou touch her with this script, she will incontinent follow thee and do what thou wilt. Wherefore, if Filippo should go abroad anywhither to-day, do thou contrive to accost her on some pretext or other and touch her; then betake thyself to the barn yonder, which is the best place here for thy purpose, for that no one ever frequenteth there. Thou wilt find she will come thither, and when she is there, thou knowest well what thou hast to do.' Calandrino was the joyfullest man alive and took the script, saying, 'Gossip, leave me do.'

Now Nello, whom Calandrino mistrusted, had as much diversion of the matter as the others and bore a hand with them in making sport of him: wherefore, of accord with Bruno, he betook himself to Florence to Calandrino's wife and said to her, 'Tessa,445 thou knowest what a beating Calandrino gave thee without cause the day he came back, laden with stones from the Mugnone; wherefore I mean to have thee avenge thyself on him; and if thou do it not, hold me no more for kinsman or for friend. He hath fallen in love with a woman over yonder, and she is lewd enough to go very often closeting herself with him. A little while agone, they appointed each other to foregather together this very day; wherefore I would have thee come thither and lie in wait for him and chastise him well.' When the lady heard this, it seemed to her no jesting matter, but, starting to her feet, she fell a-saying, 'Alack, common thief that thou art, is it thus that thou usest me? By Christ His Cross, it shall not pass thus, but I will pay thee therefor!' Then, taking her mantle and a little maid to bear her company, she started off at a good round pace for the mansion, together with Nello.

As soon as Bruno saw the latter afar off, he said to Filippo, 'Here cometh our friend'; whereupon the latter, betaking himself whereas Calandrino and the others were at work, said, 'Masters, needs must I go presently to Florence; work with a will.' Then, going away, he hid himself in a place when he could, without being seen, see what Calandrino should do. The latter, as soon as he deemed Filippo somewhat removed, came down into the courtyard and finding Niccolosa there alone, entered into talk with her, whilst she, who knew well enough what she had to do, drew near him and entreated him somewhat more familiarly than of wont. Thereupon he touched her with the script and no sooner had he done so than he turned, without saying a word, and made for the barn, whither she followed him. As soon as she was within, she shut the door and taking him in her arms, threw him down on the straw that was on the floor; then, mounting astride of him and holding him with her hands on his shoulders, without letting him draw near her face, she gazed at him, as he were her utmost desire, and said, 'O sweet my Calandrino, heart of my body, my soul, my treasure, my comfort, how long have I desired to have thee and to be able to hold thee at my wish! Thou hast drawn all the thread out of my shift with thy gentilesse; thou hast tickled my heart with thy rebeck. Can it be true that I hold thee?' Calandrino, who could scarce stir, said, 'For God's sake, sweet my soul, let me buss thee.' 'Marry,' answered she, 'thou art in a mighty hurry. Let me first take my fill of looking upon thee; let me sate mine eyes with that sweet face of thine.'

Now Bruno and Buffalmacco were come to join Filippo and all three heard and saw all this. As Calandrino was now offering to kiss Niccolosa perforce, up came Nello with Dame Tessa and said, as soon as he reached the place, 'I vow to God they are together.' Then, coming up to the door of the barn, the lady, who was all a-fume with rage, dealt it such a push with her hands that she sent it flying, and entering, saw Niccolosa astride of Calandrino. The former, seeing the lady, started up in haste and taking to flight, made off to join Filippo, whilst Dame Tessa fell tooth and nail upon Calandrino, who was still on his back, and clawed all his face; then, clutching him446 by the hair and haling him hither and thither, 'Thou sorry shitten cur,' quoth she, 'dost thou then use me thus? Besotted dotard that thou art, accursed be the weal I have willed thee! Marry, seemeth it to thee thou hast not enough to do at home, that thou must go wantoning it in other folk's preserves? A fine gallant, i'faith! Dost thou not know thyself, losel that thou art? Dost thou not know thyself, good for nought? Wert thou to be squeezed dry, there would not come as much juice from thee as might suffice for a sauce. Cock's faith, thou canst not say it was Tessa that was presently in act to get thee with child, God make her sorry, who ever she is, for a scurvy trull as she must be to have a mind to so fine a jewel as thou!'

Calandrino, seeing his wife come, abode neither dead nor alive and had not the hardihood to make any defence against her; but, rising, all scratched and flayed and baffled as he was, and picking up his bonnet, he fell to humbly beseeching her leave crying out, an she would not have him cut in pieces, for that she who had been with him was the wife of the master of the house; whereupon quoth she, 'So be it, God give her an ill year.' At this moment, Bruno and Buffalmacco, having laughed their fill at all this, in company with Filippo and Niccolosa, came up, feigning to be attracted by the clamour, and having with no little ado appeased the lady, counselled Calandrino betake himself to Florence and return thither no more, lest Filippo should get wind of the matter and do him a mischief. Accordingly he returned to Florence, chapfallen and woebegone, all flayed and scratched, and never ventured to go thither again; but, being plagued and harassed night and day with his wife's reproaches, he made an end of his fervent love, having given much cause for laughter to his companions, no less than to Niccolosa and Filippo."


Day the Ninth


Calandrino, who had otherwhiles afforded the company matter for laughter, made them laugh this time also, and whenas the ladies had left devising of his fashions, the queen bade Pamfilo tell, whereupon quoth he, "Laudable ladies, the name of Niccolosa, Calandrino's mistress, hath brought me back to mind a story of another Niccolosa, which it pleaseth me to tell you, for that therein you shall see how a goodwife's ready wit did away a great scandal.

In the plain of Mugnone there was447 not long since a good man who gave wayfarers to eat and drink for their money, and although he was poor and had but a small house, he bytimes at a pinch gave, not every one, but sundry acquaintances, a night's lodging. He had a wife, a very handsome woman, by whom he had two children, whereof one was a fine buxom lass of some fifteen or sixteen years of age, who was not yet married, and the other a little child, not yet a year old, whom his mother herself suckled. Now a young gentleman of our city, a sprightly and pleasant youth, who was often in those parts, had cast his eyes on the girl and loved her ardently; and she, who gloried greatly in being beloved of a youth of his quality, whilst studying with pleasing fashions to maintain him in her love, became no less enamoured of him, and more than once, by mutual accord, this their love had had the desired effect, but that Pinuccio (for such was the young man's name) feared to bring reproach upon his mistress and himself. However, his ardour waxing from day to day, he could no longer master his desire to foregather with her and bethought himself to find a means of harbouring with her father, doubting not, from his acquaintance with the ordinance of the latter's house, but he might in that event contrive to pass the night in her company, without any being the wiser; and no sooner had he conceived this design than he proceeded without delay to carry it into execution.

Accordingly, in company with a trusty friend of his called Adriano, who knew his love, he late one evening hired a couple of hackneys and set thereon two pairs of saddle-bags, filled belike with straw, with which they set out from Florence and fetching a compass, rode till they came overagainst the plain of Mugnone, it being by this night; then, turning about, as they were on their way back from Romagna, they made for the good man's house and knocked at the door. The host, being very familiar with both of them, promptly opened the door and Pinuccio said to him, 'Look you, thou must needs harbour us this night. We thought to reach Florence before dark, but have not availed to make such haste but that we find ourselves here, as thou seest at this hour.' 'Pinuccio,' answered the host, 'thou well knowest how little commodity I have to lodge such men as you are; however, since the night hath e'en overtaken you here and there is no time for you to go otherwhere, I will gladly harbour you as I may.' The two young men accordingly alighted and entered the inn, where they first eased[434] their hackneys and after supper with the host, having taken good care to bring provision with them.

Now the good man had but one very small bedchamber, wherein were three pallet-beds set as best he knew, two at one end of the room and the third overagainst them at the other end; nor for all that was there so much space left that one could go there otherwise than straitly. The least ill of the three the host let make ready for the two friends and put them to lie there; then, after a while neither of the gentlemen being asleep, though both made a show thereof, he caused his daughter betake448 herself to bed in one of the two others and lay down himself in the third, with his wife, who set by the bedside the cradle wherein she had her little son. Things being ordered after this fashion and Pinuccio having seen everything, after a while, himseeming that every one was asleep, he arose softly and going to the bed where slept the girl beloved of him, laid himself beside the latter, by whom, for all she did it timorously, he was joyfully received, and with her he proceeded to take of that pleasure which both most desired. Whilst Pinuccio abode thus with his mistress, it chanced that a cat caused certain things fall, which the good wife, awaking, heard; whereupon, fearing lest it were otherwhat, she arose, as she was, in the dark and betook herself whereas she had heard the noise.

Meanwhile, Adriano, without intent aforethought, arose by chance for some natural occasion and going to despatch this, came upon the cradle, whereas it had been set by the good wife, and unable to pass without moving it, took it up and set it down beside his own bed; then, having accomplished that for which he had arisen, he returned and betook himself to bed again, without recking of the cradle. The good wife, having searched and found the thing which had fallen was not what she thought, never troubled herself to kindle a light, to see it, but, chiding the cat, returned to the chamber and groped her way to the bed where her husband lay. Finding the cradle not there, 'Mercy o' me!' quoth she in herself. 'See what I was about to do! As I am a Christian, I had well nigh gone straight to our guest's bed.' Then, going a little farther and finding the cradle, she entered the bed whereby it stood and laid herself down beside Adriano, thinking to couch with her husband. Adriano, who was not yet asleep, feeling this, received her well and joyously and laying her aboard in a trice, clapped on all sail, to the no small contentment of the lady.

Meanwhile, Pinuccio, fearing lest sleep should surprise him with his lass and having taken of her his fill of pleasure, arose from her, to return to his own bed, to sleep, and finding the cradle in his way, took the adjoining bed for that of his host; wherefore, going a little farther, he lay down with the latter, who awoke at his coming. Pinuccio, deeming himself beside Adriano, said, 'I tell thee there never was so sweet a creature as is Niccolosa. Cock's body, I have had with her the rarest sport ever man had with woman, more by token that I have gone upwards of six times into the country, since I left thee.' The host, hearing this talk and being not overwell pleased therewith, said first in himself, 'What a devil doth this fellow here?' Then, more angered than well-advised, 'Pinuccio,' quoth he, 'this hath been a great piece of villainy of thine, and I know not why thou shouldst have used me thus; but, by the body of God, I will pay thee for it!!' Pinuccio, who was not the wisest lad in the world, seeing his mistake, addressed not himself to mend it as best he might, but said, 'Of what wilt thou pay me? What canst thou do to me?' Therewithal the hostess, who thought herself with her husband, said to Adriano, 'Good lack, hark to our guests how they are at I know not what words together!' Quoth Adriano, laughing, 'Leave them do,449 God land them in an ill year! They drank overmuch yesternight.'

The good wife, herseeming she had heard her husband scold and hearing Adriano speak, incontinent perceived where and with whom she had been; whereupon, like a wise woman as she was, she arose forthright, without saying a word, and taking her little son's cradle, carried it at a guess, for that there was no jot of light to be seen in the chamber, to the side of the bed where her daughter slept and lay down with the latter; then, as if she had been aroused by her husband's clamour, she called him and enquired what was to do between himself and Pinuccio. He answered, 'Hearest thou not what he saith he hath done this night unto Niccolosa?' 'Marry,' quoth she, 'he lieth in his throat, for he was never abed with Niccolosa, seeing that I have lain here all night; more by token that I have not been able to sleep a wink; and thou art an ass to believe him. You men drink so much of an evening that you do nothing but dream all night and fare hither and thither, without knowing it, and fancy you do wonders. 'Tis a thousand pities you don't break your necks. But what doth Pinuccio yonder? Why bideth he not in his own bed?' Adriano, on his part, seeing how adroitly the good wife went about to cover her own shame and that of her daughter, chimed in with, 'Pinuccio, I have told thee an hundred times not to go abroad, for that this thy trick of arising in thy sleep and telling for true the extravagances thou dreamest will bring thee into trouble some day or other. Come back here, God give thee an ill night!'

The host, hearing what his wife and Adriano said, began to believe in good earnest that Pinuccio was dreaming; and accordingly, taking him by the shoulders, he fell to shaking and calling him, saying, 'Pinuccio, awake; return to thine own bed.' Pinuccio having apprehended all that had been said began to wander off into other extravagances, after the fashion of a man a-dream; whereat the host set up the heartiest laughter in the world. At last, he made believe to awake for stress of shaking, and calling to Adriano, said, 'Is it already day, that thou callest me?' 'Ay,' answered the other, 'come hither.' Accordingly, Pinuccio, dissembling and making a show of being sleepy-eyed, arose at last from beside the host and went back to bed with Adriano. The day come and they being risen, the host fell to laughing and mocking at Pinuccio and his dreams; and so they passed from one jest to another, till the young men, having saddled their rounceys and strapped on their valises and drunken with the host, remounted to horse and rode away to Florence, no less content with the manner in which the thing had betided than with the effect itself thereof. Thereafter Pinuccio found other means of foregathering with Niccolosa, who vowed to her mother that he had certainly dreamt the thing; wherefore the goodwife, remembering her of Adriano's embracements, inwardly avouched herself alone to have waked."



Day the Ninth


Pamfilo's story being ended and the goodwife's presence of mind having been commended of all, the queen bade Pampinea tell hers and she thereupon began, "It hath been otherwhile discoursed among us, charming ladies, of the truths foreshown by dreams, the which many of our sex scoff at; wherefore, notwithstanding that which hath been said thereof, I shall not scruple to tell you, in a very few words, that which no great while ago befell a she-neighbour of mine for not giving credit to a dream of herself seen by her husband.

I know not if you were acquainted with Talano di Molese, a very worshipful man, who took to wife a young lady called Margarita, fair over all others, but so humoursome, ill-conditioned and froward that she would do nought of other folk's judgment, nor could others do aught to her liking; the which, irksome as it was to Talano to endure, natheless, as he could no otherwise, needs must he put up with. It chanced one night that, being with this Margarita of his at an estate he had in the country, himseemed in his sleep he saw his wife go walking in a very fair wood which they had not far from their house, and as she went, himseemed there came forth of a thicket a great and fierce wolf, which sprang straight at her throat and pulling her to the ground, enforced himself to carry her off, whilst she screamed for aid; and after, she winning free of his fangs, it seemed he had marred all her throat and face. Accordingly, when he arose in the morning, he said to the lady, 'Wife, albeit thy frowardness hath never suffered me to have a good day with thee, yet it would grieve me should ill betide thee; wherefore, an thou wilt hearken to my counsel, thou wilt not go forth the house to-day'; and being asked of her why, he orderly recounted to her his dream.

The lady shook her head and said, 'Who willeth thee ill, dreameth thee ill. Thou feignest thyself mighty careful of me; but thou dreamest of me that which thou wouldst fain see come to pass; and thou mayst be assured that I will be careful both to-day and always not to gladden thee with this or other mischance of mine.' Quoth Talano, 'I knew thou wouldst say thus; for that such thanks still hath he who combeth a scald-head; but, believe as thou listeth, I for my part tell it to thee for good, and once more I counsel thee abide at home to-day or at least beware of going into our wood.' 'Good,' answered the lady, 'I will do it'; and after fell a-saying to herself, 'Sawest thou how artfully yonder man thinketh to have feared me from going to our wood to-day? Doubtless he hath given some trull or other tryst there and would not have me find him with her. Marry, it were fine eating for him with blind folk and I should be a right simpleton an I saw not his drift and if I believed him! But certes he shall451 not have his will; nay, though I abide there all day, needs must I see what traffic is this that he hath in hand to-day.'

Accordingly, her husband being gone out at one door, she went out at the other and betook herself as most secretly she might straight to the wood and hid herself in the thickest part thereof, standing attent and looking now here and now there, an she should see any one come. As she abode on this wise, without any thought of danger, behold, there sallied forth of a thick coppice hard by a terrible great wolf, and scarce could she say, 'Lord, aid me!' when it flew at her throat and laying fast hold of her, proceeded to carry her off, as she were a lambkin. She could neither cry nor aid herself on other wise, so sore was her gullet straitened; wherefore the wolf, carrying her off, would assuredly have throttled her, had he not encountered certain shepherds, who shouted at him and constrained him to loose her. The shepherds knew her and carried her home, in a piteous plight, where, after long tending by the physicians, she was healed, yet not so wholly but she had all her throat and a part of her face marred on such wise that, whereas before she was fair, she ever after appeared misfeatured and very foul of favour; wherefore, being ashamed to appear whereas she might be seen, she many a time bitterly repented her of her frowardness and her perverse denial to put faith, in a matter which cost her nothing, in her husband's true dream."


Day the Ninth


The merry company with one accord avouched that which Talano had seen in sleep to have been no dream, but a vision, so punctually, without there failing aught thereof, had it come to pass. But, all being silent the queen charged Lauretta follow on, who said, "Like as those, most discreet ladies, who have to-day foregone me in speech, have been well nigh all moved to discourse by something already said, even so the stern vengeance wreaked by the scholar, of whom Pampinea told us yesterday, moveth me to tell of a piece of revenge, which, without being so barbarous as the former, was nevertheless grievous unto him who brooked it.

I must tell you, then, that there was once in Florence a man whom all called Ciacco,[435] as great a glutton as ever lived. His means sufficing him not to support the expense that his gluttony required and he being, for the rest, a very well-mannered man and full of goodly and pleasant sayings, he addressed himself to be, not altogether a buffoon, but a spunger[436] and to company with452 those who were rich and delighted to eat of good things; and with these he went often to dine and sup, albeit he was not always bidden. There was likewise at Florence, in those days, a man called Biondello, a little dapper fellow of his person, very quaint of his dress and sprucer than a fly, with his coif on his head and his yellow periwig still drest to a nicety, without a hair awry, who plied the same trade as Ciacco. Going one morning in Lent whereas they sell the fish and cheapening two very fine lampreys for Messer Vieri de' Cerchj, he was seen by Ciacco, who accosted him and said, 'What meaneth this?' Whereto Biondello made answer, 'Yestereve there were sent unto Messer Corso Donati three lampreys, much finer than these, and a sturgeon; to which sufficing him not for a dinner he is minded to give certain gentlemen, he would have me buy these other two. Wilt thou not come thither, thou?' Quoth Ciacco, 'Thou knowest well that I shall be there.'

. Accordingly, whenas it seemed to him time, he betook himself to Messer Corso's house, where he found him with sundry neighbours of his, not yet gone to dinner, and being asked of him what he went doing, answered, 'Sir, I am come to dine with you and your company.' Quoth Messer Corso, 'Thou art welcome; and as it is time, let us to table.' Thereupon they seated themselves at table and had, to begin with, chickpease and pickled tunny, and after a dish of fried fish from the Arno, and no more, Ciacco, perceiving the cheat that Biondello had put upon him, was inwardly no little angered thereat and resolved to pay him for it; nor had many days passed ere he again encountered the other, who had by this time made many folk merry with the trick he had played him. Biondello, seeing him, saluted him and asked him, laughing, how he had found Messer Corso's lampreys; to which Ciacco answered, 'That shalt thou know much better than I, ere eight days be past.'

Then, without wasting time over the matter, he took leave of Biondello and agreeing for a price with a shrewd huckster, carried him near to the Cavicciuoli Gallery and showing him a gentleman there, called Messer Filippo Argenti, a big burly rawboned fellow and the most despiteful, choleric and humoursome man alive, gave him a great glass flagon and said to him, 'Go to yonder gentleman with this flask in hand and say to him, "Sir Biondello sendeth me to you and prayeth you be pleased to rubify him this flask with your good red wine, for that he would fain make merry somedele with his minions." But take good care he lay not his hands on thee; else will he give thee an ill morrow and thou wilt have marred my plans.' 'Have I aught else to say,' asked the huckster; and Ciacco answered, 'No; do but go and say this and after come back to me here with the flask and I will pay thee.' The huckster accordingly set off and did his errand to Messer Filippo, who, hearing the message and being lightly ruffled, concluded that Biondello, whom he knew, had a mind to make mock of him, and waxing all red in the face, said, 'What "rubify me" and what "minions" be these? God land thee and him an ill year!' Then, starting to his feet, he put out his hand to lay hold of the huckster; but the latter, who was on his guard, promptly took to his453 heels and returning by another way to Ciacco, who had seen all that had passed, told him what Messer Filippo had said to him. Ciacco, well pleased, paid him and rested not till he found Biondello, to whom quoth he, 'Hast thou been late at the Cavicciuoli Gallery?' 'Nay,' answered the other. 'Why dost thou ask me?' 'Because,' replied Ciacco, 'I must tell thee that Messer Filippo enquireth for thee; I know not what he would have.' 'Good,' rejoined Biondello; 'I am going that way and will speak with him.' Accordingly, he made off, and Ciacco followed him, to see how the thing should pass.

Meanwhile Messer Filippo, having failed to come at the huckster, abode sore disordered and was inwardly all a-fume with rage, being unable to make anything in the world of the huckster's words, if not that Biondello, at whosesoever instance, was minded to make mock of him. As he fretted himself thus, up came Biondello, whom no sooner did he espy than he made for him and dealt him a sore buffet in the face. 'Alack, sir,' cried Biondello, 'what is this?' Whereupon Messer Filippo, clutching him by the hair and tearing his coif, cast his bonnet to the ground and said, laying on to him amain the while, 'Knave that thou art, thou shalt soon see what it is! What is this thou sendest to say to me with thy "rubify me" and thy "minions"? Deemest thou me a child, to be flouted on this wise?' So saying, he battered his whole face with his fists, which were like very iron, nor left him a hair on his head unruffled; then, rolling him in the mire, he tore all the clothes off his back; and to this he applied himself with such a will that Biondello could not avail to say a word to him nor ask why he served him thus. He had heard him indeed speak of 'rubify me' and 'minions,' but knew not what this meant.

At last, Messer Filippo having beaten him soundly, the bystanders, whereof many had by this time gathered about them, dragged him, with the utmost difficulty, out of the other's clutches, all bruised and battered as he was, and told him why the gentleman had done this, blaming him for that which he had sent to say to him and telling him that he should by that time have known Messer Filippo better and that he was not a man to jest withal. Biondello, all in tears protested his innocence, declaring that he had never sent to Messer Filippo for wine, and as soon as he was somewhat recovered, he returned home, sick and sorry, divining that this must have been Ciacco's doing. When, after many days, the bruises being gone, he began to go abroad again, it chanced that Ciacco encountered him and asked him, laughing, 'Harkye, Biondello, how deemest thou of Messer Filippo's wine?' 'Even as thou of Messer Corso's lampreys,' replied the other; and Ciacco said, 'The thing resteth with thee henceforth. Whenever thou goest about to give me to eat as thou didst, I will give thee in return to drink after t'other day's fashion.' Biondello, knowing full well that it was easier to wish Ciacco ill than to put it in practise, besought God of his peace[437] and thenceforth was careful to affront him no more."



Day the Ninth


None other than the queen remaining to tell, so she would maintain Dioneo his privilege, she, after the ladies had laughed at the unlucky Biondello, began blithely to speak thus: "Lovesome ladies, if the ordinance of created things be considered with a whole mind, it will lightly enough be seen that the general multitude of women are by nature, by custom and by law subjected unto men and that it behoveth them order and govern themselves according to the discretion of these latter; wherefore each woman, who would have quiet and ease and solace with those men to whom she pertaineth, should be humble, patient and obedient, besides being virtuous, which latter is the supreme and especial treasure of every wise woman. Nay, though the laws, which in all things regard the general weal, and usance or (let us say) custom, whose puissance is both great and worship-worth, taught us not this, nature very manifestly showeth it unto us, inasmuch as she hath made us women tender and delicate of body and timid and fearful of spirit and hath given us little bodily strength, sweet voices and soft and graceful movements, all things testifying that we have need of the governance of others. Now, those who have need to be helped and governed, all reason requireth that they be obedient and submissive and reverent to their governors; and whom have we to governors and helpers, if not men? To men, therefore, it behoveth us submit ourselves, honouring them supremely; and whoso departeth from this, I hold her deserving, not only of grave reprehension, but of severe punishment. To these considerations I was lead, though not for the first time, by that which Pampinea told us a while ago of Talano's froward wife, upon whom God sent that chastisement which her husband had not known to give her; wherefore, as I have already said, all those women who depart from being loving, compliant and amenable, as nature, usance and law will it, are, in my judgment, worthy of stern and severe chastisement. It pleaseth me, therefore, to recount to you a counsel given by Solomon, as a salutary medicine for curing women who are thus made of that malady; which counsel let none, who meriteth not such treatment, repute to have been said for her, albeit men have a byword which saith, 'Good horse and bad horse both the spur need still, And women need the stick, both good and ill.' Which words, an one seek to interpret them by way of pleasantry, all women will lightly allow to be true; nay, but considering them morally,[438] I say that the same must be conceded of them; for that women are all naturally unstable and prone [to frailty,] wherefore, to correct the iniquity of those who allow themselves too far to overpass the limits appointed455 them, there needeth the stick which punisheth them, and to support the virtue of others who suffer not themselves to transgress, there needeth the stick which sustaineth and affeareth them. But, to leave be preaching for the nonce and come to that which I have it in mind to tell.

You must know that, the high renown of Solomon's miraculous wisdom being bruited abroad well nigh throughout the whole world, no less than the liberality with which he dispensed it unto whoso would fain be certified thereof by experience, there flocked many to him from divers parts of the world for counsel in their straitest and most urgent occasions. Amongst others who thus resorted to him was a young man, Melisso by name, a gentleman of noble birth and great wealth, who set out from the city of Lajazzo,[439] whence he was and where he dwelt; and as he journeyed towards Jerusalem, it chanced that, coming forth of Antioch, he rode for some distance with a young man called Giosefo, who held the same course as himself. As the custom is of wayfarers, he entered into discourse with him and having learned from him what and whence he was, he asked him whither he went and upon what occasion; to which Giosefo replied that he was on his way to Solomon, to have counsel of him what course he should take with a wife he had, the most froward and perverse woman alive, whom neither with prayers nor with blandishments nor on any other wise could he avail to correct of her waywardness. Then he in his turn questioned Melisso whence he was and whither he went and on what errand, and he answered, 'I am of Lajazzo, and like as thou hast a grievance, even so have I one; I am young and rich and spend my substance in keeping open house and entertaining my fellow-townsmen, and yet, strange to say, I cannot for all that find one who wisheth me well; wherefore I go whither thou goest, to have counsel how I may win to be beloved.'

Accordingly, they joined company and journeyed till they came to Jerusalem, where, by the introduction of one of Solomon's barons, they were admitted to the presence of the king, to whom Melisso briefly set forth his occasion. Solomon answered him, 'Love'; and this said, Melisso was straightway put forth and Giosefo told that for which he was there. Solomon made him no other answer than 'Get thee to Goosebridge'; which said, Giosefo was on like wise removed, without delay, from the king's presence and finding Melisso awaiting him without, told him that which he had had for answer. Thereupon, pondering Solomon's words and availing to apprehend therefrom neither significance nor profit whatsoever for their occasions, they set out to return home, as deeming themselves flouted. After journeying for some days, they came to a river, over which was a fine bridge, and a caravan of pack-mules and sumpter-horses being in act to pass, it behoved them tarry till such time as these should be crossed over. Presently, the beasts having well nigh all crossed, it chanced that one of the mules took umbrage, as oftentimes456 we see them do, and would by no means pass on; whereupon a muleteer, taking a stick, began to beat it at first moderately enough to make it go on; but the mule shied now to this and now to that side of the road and whiles turned back altogether, but would on no wise pass on; whereupon the man, incensed beyond measure, fell to dealing it with the stick the heaviest blows in the world, now on the head, now on the flanks and anon on the crupper, but all to no purpose.

Melisso and Giosefo stood watching this and said often to the muleteer, 'Alack, wretch that thou art, what dost thou? Wilt thou kill the beast? Why studiest thou not to manage him by fair means and gentle dealing? He will come quicklier than for cudgeling him as thou dost.' To which the man answered, 'You know your horses and I know my mule; leave me do with him.' So saying, he fell again to cudgelling him and belaboured him to such purpose on one side and on the other, that the mule passed on and the muleteer won the bout. Then, the two young men being now about to depart, Giosefo asked a poor man, who sat at the bridge-head, how the place was called, and he answered, 'Sir, this is called Goosebridge.' When Giosefo heard this, he straightway called to mind Solomon's words and said to Melisso, 'Marry, I tell thee, comrade, that the counsel given me by Solomon may well prove good and true, for I perceive very plainly that I knew not how to beat my wife; but this muleteer hath shown me what I have to do.'

Accordingly, they fared on and came, after some days, to Antioch, where Giosefo kept Melisso with him, that he might rest himself a day or two, and being scurvily enough received of his wife, he bade her prepare supper according as Melisso should ordain; whereof the latter, seeing that it was his friend's pleasure, acquitted himself in a few words. The lady, as her usance had been in the past, did not as Melisso had ordained, but well nigh altogether the contrary; which Giosefo seeing, he was vexed and said, 'Was it not told thee on what wise thou shouldst prepare the supper?' The lady, turning round haughtily, answered, 'What meaneth this? Good lack, why dost thou not sup, an thou have a mind to sup? An if it were told me otherwise, it seemed good to me to do thus. If it please thee, so be it; if not, leave it be.' Melisso marvelled at the lady's answer and blamed her exceedingly; whilst Giosefo, hearing this, said, 'Wife, thou art still what thou wast wont to be; but, trust me, I will make thee change thy fashion.' Then turning to Melisso, 'Friend,' said he, 'we shall soon see what manner of counsel was Solomon's; but I prithee let it not irk thee to stand to see it and hold that which I shall do for a sport. And that thou mayest not hinder me, bethink thee of the answer the muleteer made us, when we pitied his mule.' Quoth Melisso, 'I am in thy house, where I purpose not to depart from thy good pleasure.'

Giosefo then took a round stick, made of a young oak, and repaired a chamber, whither the lady, having arisen from table for despite, had betaken herself, grumbling; then, laying hold of her by the hair, he threw her down at his feet and proceeded to give her a sore beating with the stick.457 The lady at first cried out and after fell to threats; but, seeing that Giosefo for all that stinted not and being by this time all bruised, she began to cry him mercy for God's sake and besought him not to kill her, declaring that she would never more depart from his pleasure. Nevertheless, he held not his hand; nay, he continued to baste her more furiously than ever on all her seams, belabouring her amain now on the ribs, now on the haunches and now about the shoulder, nor stinted till he was weary and there was not a place left unbruised on the good lady's back. This done, he returned to his friend and said to him, 'To-morrow we shall see what will be the issue of the counsel to go to Goosebridge.' Then, after he had rested awhile and they had washed their hands, he supped with Melisso and in due season they betook themselves to bed.

Meanwhile the wretched lady arose with great pain from the ground and casting herself on the bed, there rested as best she might until the morning, when she arose betimes and let ask Giosefo what he would have dressed for dinner. The latter, making merry over this with Melisso, appointed it in due course, and after, whenas it was time, returning, they found everything excellently well done and in accordance with the ordinance given; wherefore they mightily commended the counsel at first so ill apprehended of them. After some days, Melisso took leave of Giosefo and returning to his own house, told one, who was a man of understanding, the answer he had had from Solomon; whereupon quoth the other, 'He could have given thee no truer nor better counsel. Thou knowest thou lovest no one, and the honours and services thou renderest others, thou dost not for love that thou bearest them, but for pomp and ostentation. Love, then, as Solomon bade thee, and thou shalt be loved.' On this wise, then, was the froward wife corrected and the young man, loving, was beloved."


Day the Ninth


The queen's story made the young men laugh and gave rise to some murmurs on the part of the ladies; then, as soon as the latter were quiet, Dioneo began to speak thus, "Sprightly ladies, a black crow amongst a multitude of white doves addeth more beauty than would a snow-white swan, and in like manner among many sages one less wise is not only an augmentation of splendour and goodliness to their maturity, but eke a source of diversion and solace. Wherefore, you ladies being all exceeding discreet and modest, I, who savour somewhat of the scatterbrain, should be dearer to you, causing, as458 I do, your worth to shine the brightlier for my default, than if with my greater merit I made this of yours wax dimmer; and consequently, I should have larger license to show you myself such as I am and should more patiently be suffered of you, in saying that which I shall say, than if I were wiser. I will, therefore, tell you a story not overlong, whereby you may apprehend how diligently it behoveth to observe the conditions imposed by those who do aught by means of enchantment and how slight a default thereof sufficeth to mar everything done by the magician.

A year or two agone there was at Barletta a priest called Dom Gianni di Barolo, who, for that he had but a poor cure, took to eking out his livelihood by hawking merchandise hither and thither about the fairs of Apulia with a mare of his and buying and selling. In the course of his travels he contracted a strait friendship with one who styled himself Pietro da Tresanti and plied the same trade with the aid of an ass he had. In token of friendship and affection, he called him still Gossip Pietro, after the Apulian fashion, and whenassoever he visited Barletta, he carried him to his parsonage and there lodged him with himself and entertained him to the best of his power. Gossip Pietro, on his part, albeit he was very poor and had but a sorry little house at Tresanti, scarce sufficing for himself and a young and buxom wife he had and his ass, as often as Dom Gianni came to Tresanti, carried him home with him and entertained him as best he might, in requital of the hospitality received from him at Barletta. Nevertheless, in the matter of lodging, having but one sorry little bed, in which he slept with his handsome wife, he could not entertain him as he would, but, Dom Gianni's mare being lodged with Pietro's ass in a little stable he had, needs must the priest himself lie by her side on a truss of straw.

The goodwife, knowing the hospitality which the latter did her husband at Barletta, would more than once, whenas the priest came thither, have gone to lie with a neighbor of hers, by name Zita Caraprese, [daughter] of Giudice Leo, so he might sleep in the bed with her husband, and had many a time proposed it to Dom Gianni, but he would never hear of it; and once, amongst other times, he said to her, 'Gossip Gemmata, fret not thyself for me; I fare very well, for that, whenas it pleaseth me, I cause this mare of mine become a handsome wench and couch with her, and after, when I will, I change her into a mare again; wherefore I care not to part from her.'

The young woman marvelled, but believed his tale and told her husband, saying, 'If he is so much thy friend as thou sayest, why dost thou not make him teach thee his charm, so thou mayst avail to make of me a mare and do thine affairs with the ass and the mare? So should we gain two for one; and when we were back at home, thou couldst make me a woman again, as I am.' Pietro, who was somewhat dull of wit, believed what she said and falling in with her counsel, began, as best he knew, to importune Dom Gianni to teach him the trick. The latter did his best to cure him of that folly, but availing not thereto, he said, 'Harkye, since you will e'en have it so, we459 will arise to-morrow morning before day, as of our wont, and I will show you how it is done. To tell thee the truth, the uneathest part of the matter is the putting on of the tail, as thou shalt see.'

Accordingly, whenas it drew near unto day, Goodman Pietro and Gossip Gemmata, who had scarce slept that night, with such impatience did they await the accomplishment of the matter, arose and called Dom Gianni, who, arising in his shirt, betook himself to Pietro's little chamber and said to him, 'I know none in the world, except you, for whom I would do this; wherefore since it pleaseth you, I will e'en do it; but needs must you do as I shall bid you, an you would have the thing succeed.' They answered that they would do that which he should say; whereupon, taking the light, he put it into Pietro's hand and said to him, 'Mark how I shall do and keep well in mind that which I shall say. Above all, have a care, an thou wouldst not mar everything, that, whatsoever thou hearest or seest, thou say not a single word, and pray God that the tail may stick fast.' Pietro took the light, promising to do exactly as he said, whereupon Dom Gianni let strip Gemmata naked as she was born and caused her stand on all fours, mare-fashion, enjoining herself likewise not to utter a word for aught that should betide. Then, passing his hand over her face and her head, he proceeded to say, 'Be this a fine mare's head,' and touching her hair, said, 'Be this a fine mare's mane'; after which he touched her arms, saying, 'Be these fine mare's legs and feet,' and coming presently to her breast and finding it round and firm, such an one awoke that was not called and started up on end,[440] whereupon quoth he, 'Be this a fine mare's chest.' And on like wise he did with her back and belly and crupper and thighs and legs. Ultimately, nothing remaining to do but the tail, he pulled up his shirt and taking the dibble with which he planted men, he thrust it hastily into the furrow made therefor and said, 'And be this a fine mare's tail.'

Pietro, who had thitherto watched everything intently, seeing this last proceeding and himseeming it was ill done, said, 'Ho there, Dom Gianni, I won't have a tail there, I won't have a tail there!' The radical moisture, wherewith all plants are made fast, was by this come, and Dom Gianni drew it forth, saying, 'Alack, gossip Pietro, what hast thou done? Did I not bid thee say not a word for aught that thou shouldst see? The mare was all made; but thou hast marred everything by talking, nor is there any means of doing it over again henceforth.' Quoth Pietro, 'Marry, I did not want that tail there. Why did you not say to me, "Make it thou"? More by token that you were for setting it too low.' 'Because,' answered Dom Gianni, 'thou hadst not known for the first time to set it on so well as I.' The young woman, hearing all this, stood up and said to her husband, in all good faith, 'Dolt that thou art, why hast thou marred thine affairs and mine? What mare sawest thou ever without a tail? So God aid me, thou art poor, but it would serve thee right, wert thou much poorer.' Then, there being now, by reason of the words that Pietro had460 spoken, no longer any means of making a mare of the young woman, she donned her clothes, woebegone and disconsolate, and Pietro, continuing to ply his old trade with an ass, as he was used, betook himself, in company with Dom Gianni, to the Bitonto fair, nor ever again required him of such a service."

How much the company laughed at this story, which was better understood of the ladies than Dioneo willed, let her who shall yet laugh thereat imagine for herself. But, the day's stories being now ended and the sun beginning to abate of its heat, the queen, knowing the end of her seignory to be come, rose to her feet and putting off the crown, set it on the head of Pamfilo, whom alone it remained to honour after such a fashion, and said, smiling, "My lord, there devolveth on thee a great burden, inasmuch as with thee it resteth, thou being the last, to make amends for my default and that of those who have foregone me in the dignity which thou presently holdest; whereof God lend thee grace, even as He hath vouchsafed it unto me to make thee king." Pamfilo blithely received the honour done him and answered, "Your merit and that of my other subjects will do on such wise that I shall be adjudged deserving of commendation, even as the others have been." Then, having, according to the usance of his predecessors, taken order with the seneschal of the things that were needful, he turned to the expectant ladies and said to them, "Lovesome ladies, it was the pleasure of Emilia, who hath this day been our queen, to give you, for the purpose of affording some rest to your powers, license to discourse of that which should most please you; wherefore, you being now rested, I hold it well to return to the wonted ordinance, and accordingly I will that each of you bethink herself to discourse to-morrow of this, to wit, OF WHOSO HATH ANYWISE WROUGHT GENEROUSLY OR MAGNIFICENTLY IN MATTERS OF LOVE OR OTHERWHAT. The telling and doing of these things will doubtless fire your well-disposed minds to do worthily; so will our life, which may not be other than brief in this mortal body, be made perpetual in laudatory renown; a thing which all, who serve not the belly only, as do the beasts, should not only desire, but with all diligence seek and endeavour after."

The theme pleased the joyous company, who having all, with the new king's license, arisen from session, gave themselves to their wonted diversions, according to that unto which each was most drawn by desire; and on this wise they did until the hour of supper, whereunto they came joyously and were served with diligence and fair ordinance. Supper at an end, they arose to the wonted dances, and after they had sung a thousand canzonets, more diverting of words than masterly of music, the king bade Neifile sing one in her own name; whereupon, with clear and blithesome voice, she cheerfully and without delay began thus:

A youngling maid am I and full of glee,

Am fain to carol in the new-blown May,

461Love and sweet thoughts-a-mercy, blithe and free.

I go about the meads, considering

The vermeil flowers and golden and the white,

Roses thorn-set and lilies snowy-bright,

And one and all I fare a-likening

Unto his face who hath with love-liking

Ta'en and will hold me ever, having aye

None other wish than as his pleasures be;

Whereof when one I find me that doth show,

Unto my seeming, likest him, full fain

I cull and kiss and talk with it amain

And all my heart to it, as best I know,

Discover, with its store of wish and woe,

Then it with others in a wreath I lay,

Bound with my hair so golden-bright of blee.

Ay, and that pleasure which the eye doth prove,

By nature, of the flower's view, like delight

Doth give me as I saw the very wight

Who hath inflamed me of his dulcet love,

And what its scent thereover and above

Worketh in me, no words indeed can say;

But sighs thereof bear witness true for me,

The which from out my bosom day nor night

Ne'er, as with other ladies, fierce and wild,

Storm up; nay, thence they issue warm and mild

And straight betake them to my loved one's sight,

Who, hearing, moveth of himself, delight

To give me; ay, and when I'm like to say

"Ah come, lest I despair," still cometh he.

Neifile's canzonet was much commended both of the king and of the other ladies; after which, for that a great part of the night was now spent, the king commanded that all should betake themselves to rest until the day.