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Title: The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio
Author: Boccaccio, Giovanni, 1313-1375
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Transcriber's Note: The original text does not observe the normal
convention of placing quotation marks at the beginnings of paragraphs
within a multiple-paragraph quotation. This idiosyncrasy has been
preserved in this e-text.

Archaic spellings have been preserved, but obvious printer errors have
been corrected.

In the untranslated Italian passage in Day 3, Story 10, the original
is missing the accents, which have been added using an Italian edition
of _Decameron_ (Milan: Mursia, 1977) as a guide.

John Payne's translation of _The Decameron_ was originally published
in a private printing for The Villon Society, London, 1886. The
American edition from which this e-text was prepared is undated.]




_Giovanni Boccaccio_

_Translated by_

_John Payne_


171 Madison Avenue





THE FIRST STORY. _Master Ciappelletto dupeth a holy friar with a false
confession and dieth; and having been in his lifetime the worst of
men, he is, after his death, reputed a saint and called Saint
Ciappelletto_ 16

THE SECOND STORY. _Abraham the Jew, at the instigation of Jehannot de
Chevigné, goeth to the Court of Rome and seeing the depravity of the
clergy, returneth to Paris and there becometh a Christian_ 25

THE THIRD STORY. _Melchizedek the Jew, with a story of three rings,
escapeth a parlous snare set for him by Saladin_ 28

THE FOURTH STORY. _A monk, having fallen into a sin deserving of very
grievous punishment, adroitly reproaching the same fault to his abbot,
quitteth himself of the penalty_ 30

THE FIFTH STORY. _The Marchioness of Monferrato, with a dinner of hens
and certain sprightly words, curbeth the extravagant passion of the
King of France_ 33

THE SIXTH STORY. _An honest man, with a chance pleasantry, putteth to
shame the perverse hypocrisy of the religious orders_ 35

THE SEVENTH STORY. _Bergamino, with a story of Primasso and the Abbot
of Cluny, courteously rebuketh a fit of parsimony newly come to Messer
Cane della Scala_ 37

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Guglielmo Borsiere with some quaint words rebuketh
the niggardliness of Messer Ermino de' Grimaldi_ 40

THE NINTH STORY. _The King of Cyprus, touched to the quick by a Gascon
lady, from a mean-spirited prince becometh a man of worth and
valiance_ 42

THE TENTH STORY. _Master Alberto of Bologna civilly putteth a lady to
the blush who thought to have shamed him of being enamoured of her_ 43


THE FIRST STORY. _Martellino feigneth himself a cripple and maketh
believe to wax whole upon the body of St. Arrigo. His imposture being
discovered, he is beaten and being after taken [for a thief,] goeth in
peril of being hanged by the neck, but ultimately escapeth_ 49

THE SECOND STORY. _Rinaldo d'Asti, having been robbed, maketh his way
to Castel Guglielmo, where he is hospitably entertained by a widow
lady and having made good his loss, returneth to his own house, safe
and sound_ 52

THE THIRD STORY. _Three young men squander their substance and become
poor; but a nephew of theirs, returning home in desperation, falleth
in with an abbot and findeth him to be the king's daughter of England,
who taketh him to husband and maketh good all his uncles' losses,
restoring them to good estate_ 57

THE FOURTH STORY. _Landolfo Ruffolo, grown poor, turneth corsair and
being taken by the Genoese, is wrecked at sea, but saveth himself upon
a coffer full of jewels of price and being entertained in Corfu by a
woman, returneth home rich_ 63

THE FIFTH STORY. _Andreuccio of Perugia, coming to Naples to buy
horses, is in one night overtaken with three grievous accidents, but
escapeth them all and returneth home with a ruby_ 66

THE SIXTH STORY. _Madam Beritola, having lost her two sons, is found
on a desert island with two kids and goeth thence into Lunigiana,
where one of her sons, taking service with the lord of the country,
lieth with his daughter and is cast into prison. Sicily after
rebelling against King Charles and the youth being recognized by his
mother, he espouseth his lord's daughter, and his brother being
likewise found, they are all three restored to high estate_ 75

THE SEVENTH STORY. _The Soldan of Babylon sendeth a daughter of his to
be married to the King of Algarve, and she, by divers chances, in the
space of four years cometh to the hands of nine men in various places.
Ultimately, being restored to her father for a maid, she goeth to the
King of Algarve to wife, as first she did_ 85

THE EIGHTH STORY. _The Count of Antwerp, being falsely accused, goeth
into exile and leaveth his two children in different places in
England, whither, after awhile, returning in disguise and finding them
in good case, he taketh service as a horseboy in the service of the
King of France and being approved innocent, is restored to his former
estate_ 100

THE NINTH STORY. _Bernabo of Genoa, duped by Ambrogiuolo, loseth his
good and commandeth that his innocent wife be put to death. She
escapeth and serveth the Soldan in a man's habit. Here she lighteth
upon the deceiver of her husband and bringeth the latter to
Alexandria, where, her traducer being punished, she resumeth woman's
apparel and returneth to Genoa with her husband, rich_ 111

THE TENTH STORY. _Paganino of Monaco stealeth away the wife of Messer
Ricciardo di Chinzica, who, learning where she is, goeth thither and
making friends with Paganino, demandeth her again of him. The latter
concedeth her to him, an she will; but she refuseth to return with him
and Messer Ricciardo dying, she becometh the wife of Paganino_ 120


THE FIRST STORY. _Masetto of Lamporecchio feigneth himself dumb and
becometh gardener to a convent of women, who all flock to lie with
him_ 129

THE SECOND STORY. _A horsekeeper lieth with the wife of King Agilulf,
who, becoming aware thereof, without word said, findeth him out and
polleth him; but the polled man polleth all his fellows on like wise
and so escapeth ill hap_ 134

THE THIRD STORY. _Under colour of confession and of exceeding niceness
of conscience, a lady, being enamoured of a young man, bringeth a
grave friar, without his misdoubting him thereof, to afford a means of
giving entire effect to her pleasure_ 137

THE FOURTH STORY. _Dom Felice teacheth Fra Puccio how he may become
beatified by performing a certain penance of his fashion, which the
other doth, and Dom Felice meanwhile leadeth a merry life of it with
the good man's wife_ 143

THE FIFTH STORY. _Ricciardo, surnamed Il Zima, giveth Messer Francesco
Vergellesi a palfrey of his and hath therefor his leave to speak with
his wife. She keeping silence, he in her person replieth unto himself,
and the effect after ensueth in accordance with his answer_ 147

THE SIXTH STORY. _Ricciardo Minutolo, being enamoured of the wife of
Filippello Fighinolfi and knowing her jealousy of her husband,
contriveth, by representing that Filippello was on the ensuing day to
be with his own wife in a bagnio, to bring her to the latter place,
where, thinking to be with her husband, she findeth that she hath
abidden with Ricciardo_ 152

THE SEVENTH STORY. _Tedaldo Elisei, having fallen out with his
mistress, departeth Florence and returning thither, after awhile, in a
pilgrim's favour, speaketh with the lady and maketh her cognisant of
her error; after which he delivereth her husband, who had been
convicted of murdering him, from death and reconciling him with his
brethren, thenceforward discreetly enjoyeth himself with his mistress_

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Ferondo, having swallowed a certain powder, is
entombed for dead and being taken forth of the sepulchre by the abbot,
who enjoyeth his wife the while, is put in prison and given to believe
that he is in purgatory; after which, being raised up again, he
reareth for his own a child begotten of the abbot on his wife_ 169

THE NINTH STORY. _Gillette de Narbonne recovereth the King of France
of a fistula and demandeth for her husband Bertrand de Roussillon, who
marrieth her against his will and betaketh him for despite to
Florence, where, he paying court to a young lady, Gillette, in the
person of the latter, lieth with him and hath by him two sons;
wherefore after, holding her dear, he entertaineth her for his wife_

THE TENTH STORY. _Alibech, turning hermit, is taught by Rustico, a
monk, to put the devil in hell, and being after brought away thence,
becometh Neerbale his wife_ 182


THE FIRST STORY. _Tancred, Prince of Salerno, slayeth his daughter's
lover and sendeth her his heart in a bowl of gold; whereupon, pouring
poisoned water over it, she drinketh thereof and dieth_ 194

THE SECOND STORY. _Fra Alberto giveth a lady to believe that the angel
Gabriel is enamoured of her and in his shape lieth with her sundry
times; after which, for fear of her kinsmen, he casteth himself forth
of her window into the canal and taketh refuge in the house of a poor
man, who on the morrow carrieth him, in the guise of a wild man of the
woods, to the Piazza, where, being recognized, he is taken by his
brethren and put in prison_ 201

THE THIRD STORY. _Three young men love three sisters and flee with
them into Crete, where the eldest sister for jealousy slayeth her
lover. The second, yielding herself to the Duke of Crete, saveth her
sister from death, whereupon her own lover slayeth her and fleeth with
the eldest sister. Meanwhile the third lover and the youngest sister
are accused of the new murder and being taken, confess it; then, for
fear of death, they corrupt their keepers with money and flee to
Rhodes, where they die in poverty_ 208

THE FOURTH STORY. _Gerbino, against the plighted faith of his
grandfather, King Guglielmo of Sicily, attacketh a ship of the King of
Tunis, to carry off a daughter of his, who being put to death of those
on board, he slayeth these latter and is after himself beheaded_ 213

THE FIFTH STORY. _Lisabetta's brothers slay her lover, who appeareth
to her in a dream and showeth her where he is buried, whereupon she
privily disinterreth his head and setteth it in a pot of basil.
Thereover making moan a great while every day, her brothers take it
from her and she for grief dieth a little thereafterward_ 216

THE SIXTH STORY. _Andrevuola loveth Gabriotto and recounteth to him a
dream she hath had, whereupon he telleth her one of his own and
presently dieth suddenly in her arms. What while she and a waiting
woman of hers bear him to his own house, they are taken by the
officers of justice and carried before the provost, to whom she
discovereth how the case standeth. The provost would fain force her,
but she suffereth it not and her father, coming to hear of the matter,
procureth her to be set at liberty, she being found innocent;
whereupon, altogether refusing to abide longer in the world, she
becometh a nun_ 220

THE SEVENTH STORY. _Simona loveth Pasquino and they being together in
a garden, the latter rubbeth a leaf of sage against his teeth and
dieth. She, being taken and thinking to show the judge how her lover
died, rubbeth one of the same leaves against her teeth and dieth on
like wise_ 225

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Girolamo loveth Salvestra and being constrained by
his mother's prayers to go to Paris, returneth and findeth his
mistress married; whereupon he entereth her house by stealth and dieth
by her side; and he being carried to a church, Salvestra dieth beside
him_ 228

THE NINTH STORY. _Sir Guillaume de Roussillon giveth his wife to eat
the heart of Sir Guillaume de Guardestaing by him slain and loved of
her, which she after coming to know, casteth herself from a high
casement to the ground and dying, is buried with her lover_ 232

THE TENTH STORY. _A physician's wife putteth her lover for dead in a
chest, which two usurers carry off to their own house, gallant and
all. The latter, who is but drugged, cometh presently to himself and
being discovered, is taken for a thief; but the lady's maid avoucheth
to the seignory that she herself had put him into the chest stolen by
the two usurers, whereby he escapeth the gallows and the thieves are
amerced in certain monies_ 235


THE FIRST STORY. _Cimon, loving, waxeth wise and carrieth off to sea
Iphigenia his mistress. Being cast into prison at Rhodes, he is
delivered thence by Lysimachus and in concert with him carrieth off
Iphigenia and Cassandra on their wedding-day, with whom the twain flee
into Crete, where the two ladies become their wives and whence they
are presently all four recalled home_ 244

THE SECOND STORY. _Costanza loveth Martuccio Gomito and hearing that
he is dead, embarketh for despair alone in a boat, which is carried by
the wind to Susa. Finding her lover alive at Tunis, she discovereth
herself to him and he, being great in favour with the king for
counsels given, espouseth her and returneth rich with her to Lipari_

THE THIRD STORY. _Pietro Boccamazza, fleeing with Agnolella, falleth
among thieves; the girl escapeth through a wood and is led [by
fortune] to a castle, whilst Pietro is taken by the thieves, but
presently, escaping from their hands, winneth, after divers
adventures, to the castle where his mistress is and espousing her,
returneth with her to Rome_ 256

THE FOURTH STORY. _Ricciardo Manardi, being found by Messer Lizio da
Valbona with his daughter, espouseth her and abideth in peace with her
father_ 261

THE FIFTH STORY. _Guidotto da Cremona leaveth to Giacomino da Pavia a
daughter of his and dieth. Giannole di Severino and Minghino di
Mingole fall in love with the girl at Faenza and come to blows on her
account. Ultimately she is proved to be Giannole's sister and is given
to Minghino to wife_ 265

THE SIXTH STORY. _Gianni di Procida being found with a young lady,
whom he loved and who had been given to King Frederick of Sicily, is
bound with her to a stake to be burnt; but, being recognized by
Ruggieri dell' Oria, escapeth and becometh her husband_ 269

THE SEVENTH STORY. _Teodoro, being enamoured of Violante, daughter of
Messer Amerigo his lord, getteth her with child and is condemned to be
hanged; but, being recognized and delivered by his father, as they are
leading him to the gallows, scourging him the while, he taketh
Violante to wife_ 273

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Nastagio degli Onesti, falling in love with a lady
of the Traversari family, spendeth his substance, without being
beloved in return, and betaking himself, at the instance of his
kinsfolk, to Chiassi, he there seeth a horseman give chase to a damsel
and slay her and cause her to be devoured of two dogs. Therewithal he
biddeth his kinsfolk and the lady whom he loveth to a dinner, where
his mistress seeth the same damsel torn in pieces and fearing a like
fate, taketh Nastagio to husband_ 278

THE NINTH STORY. _Federigo degli Alberighi loveth and is not loved. He
wasteth his substance in prodigal hospitality till there is left him
but one sole falcon, which, having nought else, he giveth his mistress
to eat, on her coming to his house; and she, learning this, changeth
her mind and taking him to husband, maketh him rich again_ 282

THE TENTH STORY. _Pietro di Vinciolo goeth to sup abroad, whereupon
his wife letteth fetch her a youth to keep her company, and her
husband returning, unlooked for, she hideth her gallant under a
hen-coop. Pietro telleth her how there had been found in the house of
one Arcolano, with whom he was to have supped, a young man brought in
by his wife, and she blameth the latter. Presently, an ass, by
mischance, setteth foot on the fingers of him who is under the coop
and he roareth out, whereupon Pietro runneth thither and espying him,
discovereth his wife's unfaith, but ultimately cometh to an accord
with her for his own lewd ends_ 286


THE FIRST STORY. _A gentleman engageth to Madam Oretta to carry her
a-horseback with a story, but, telling it disorderly, is prayed by her
to set her down again_ 296

THE SECOND STORY. _Cisti the baker with a word of his fashion maketh
Messer Geri Spina sensible of an indiscreet request of his_ 297

THE THIRD STORY. _Madam Nonna de' Pulci, with a ready retort to a not
altogether seemly pleasantry, imposeth silence on the Bishop of
Florence_ 299

THE FOURTH STORY. _Chichibio, cook to Currado Gianfigliazzi, with a
ready word spoken to save himself, turneth his master's anger into
laughter and escapeth the punishment threatened him by the latter_ 301

THE FIFTH STORY. _Messer Forese da Rabatta and Master Giotto the
painter coming from Mugello, each jestingly rallieth the other on his
scurvy favour_ 303

THE SIXTH STORY. _Michele Scalza proveth to certain young men that the
cadgers of Florence are the best gentlemen of the world or the Maremma
and winneth a supper_ 304

THE SEVENTH STORY. _Madam Filippa, being found by her husband with a
lover of hers and brought to justice, delivereth herself with a prompt
and pleasant answer and causeth modify the statute_ 306

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Fresco exhorteth his niece not to mirror herself in
the glass if, as she saith, it irketh her to see disagreeable folk_

THE NINTH STORY. _Guido Cavalcanti with a pithy speech courteously
flouteth certain Florentine gentlemen who had taken him by surprise_

THE TENTH STORY. _Fra Cipolla promiseth certain country folk to show
them one of the angel Gabriel's feathers and finding coals in place
thereof, avoucheth these latter to be of those which roasted St.
Lawrence_ 311


THE FIRST STORY. _Gianni Lotteringhi heareth knock at his door by
night and awakeneth his wife, who giveth him to believe that it is a
phantom; whereupon they go to exorcise it with a certain orison and
the knocking ceaseth_ 323

THE SECOND STORY. _Peronella hideth a lover of hers in a vat, upon her
husband's unlooked for return, and hearing from the latter that he
hath sold the vat, avoucheth herself to have sold it to one who is
presently therewithin, to see if it be sound; whereupon the gallant,
jumping out of the vat, causeth the husband scrape it out for him and
after carry it home to his house_ 326

THE THIRD STORY. _Fra Rinaldo lieth with his gossip and being found of
her husband closeted with her in her chamber, they give him to believe
that he was in act to conjure worms from his godson_ 329

THE FOURTH STORY. _Tofano one night shutteth his wife out of doors,
who, availing not to re-enter by dint of entreaties, feigneth to cast
herself into a well and casteth therein a great stone. Tofano cometh
forth of the house and runneth thither, whereupon she slippeth in and
locking him out, bawleth reproaches at him from the window_ 333

THE FIFTH STORY. _A jealous husband, in the guise of a priest,
confesseth his wife, who giveth him to believe that she loveth a
priest, who cometh to her every night; and whilst the husband secretly
keepeth watch at the door for the latter, the lady bringeth in a lover
of hers by the roof and lieth with him_ 336

THE SIXTH STORY. _Madam Isabella, being in company with Leonetto her
lover, is visited by one Messer Lambertuccio, of whom she is beloved;
her husband returning, [unexpected,] she sendeth Lambertuccio forth of
the house, whinger in hand, and the husband after escorteth Leonetto
home_ 341

THE SEVENTH STORY. _Lodovico discovereth to Madam Beatrice the love he
beareth her, whereupon she sendeth Egano her husband into the garden,
in her own favour, and lieth meanwhile with Lodovico, who, presently
arising, goeth and cudgelleth Egano in the garden_ 344

THE EIGHTH STORY. _A man waxeth jealous of his wife, who bindeth a
piece of packthread to her great toe anights, so she may have notice
of her lover's coming. One night her husband becometh aware of this
device and what while he pursueth the lover, the lady putteth another
woman to bed in her room. This latter the husband beateth and cutteth
off her hair, then fetcheth his wife's brothers, who, finding his
story [seemingly] untrue, give him hard words_ 348

THE NINTH STORY. _Lydia, wife of Nicostratus, loveth Pyrrhus, who, so
he may believe it, requireth of her three things, all which she doth.
Moreover, she solaceth herself with him in the presence of Nicostratus
and maketh the latter believe that that which he hath seen is not
real_ 353

THE TENTH STORY. _Two Siennese love a lady, who is gossip to one of
them; the latter dieth and returning to his companion, according to
premise made him, relateth to him how folk fare in the other world_


THE FIRST STORY. _Gulfardo borroweth of Guasparruolo certain monies,
for which he hath agreed with his wife that he shall lie with her, and
accordingly giveth them to her; then, in her presence, he telleth
Guasparruolo that he gave them to her, and she confesseth it to be
true_ 365

THE SECOND STORY. _The parish priest of Varlungo lieth with Mistress
Belcolore and leaveth her a cloak of his in pledge; then, borrowing a
mortar of her, he sendeth it back to her, demanding in return the
cloak left by way of token, which the good woman grudgingly giveth him
back_ 367

THE THIRD STORY. _Calandrino, Bruno and Buffalmacco go coasting along
the Mugnone in search of the heliotrope and Calandrino thinketh to
have found it. Accordingly he returneth home, laden with stones, and
his wife chideth him; whereupon, flying out into a rage, he beateth
her and recounteth to his companions that which they know better than
he_ 371

THE FOURTH STORY. _The rector of Fiesole loveth a widow lady, but is
not loved by her and thinking to lie with her, lieth with a
serving-wench of hers, whilst the lady's brothers cause the bishop
find him in this case_ 377

THE FIFTH STORY. _Three young men pull the breeches off a Marchegan
judge in Florence, what while he is on the bench, administering
justice_ 380

THE SIXTH STORY. _Bruno and Buffalmacco, having stolen a pig from
Calandrino, make him try the ordeal with ginger boluses and sack and
give him (instead of the ginger) two dogballs compounded with aloes,
whereby it appeareth that he himself hath had the pig and they make
him pay blackmail, and he would not have them tell his wife_ 383

THE SEVENTH STORY. _A scholar loveth a widow lady, who, being
enamoured of another, causeth him spend one winter's night in the snow
awaiting her, and he after contriveth, by his sleight, to have her
abide naked, all one mid-July day, on the summit of a tower, exposed
to flies and gads and sun_ 387

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Two men consorting together, one lieth with the
wife of his comrade, who, becoming aware thereof, doth with her on
such wise that the other is shut up in a chest, upon which he lieth
with his wife, he being inside the while_ 403

THE NINTH STORY. _Master Simone the physician, having been induced by
Bruno and Buffalmacco to repair to a certain place by night, there to
be made a member of a company, that goeth a-roving, is cast by
Buffalmacco into a trench full of ordure and there left_ 406

THE TENTH STORY. _A certain woman of Sicily artfully despoileth a
merchant of that which he had brought to Palermo; but he, making
believe to have returned thither with much greater plenty of
merchandise than before, borroweth money of her and leaveth her water
and tow in payment_ 418


THE FIRST STORY. _Madam Francesca, being courted of one Rinuccio
Palermini and one Alessandro Chiarmontesi and loving neither the one
nor the other, adroitly riddeth herself of both by causing one enter
for dead into a sepulchre and the other bring him forth thereof for
dead, on such wise that they cannot avail to accomplish the condition
imposed_ 428

THE SECOND STORY. _An abbess, arising in haste and in the dark to find
one of her nuns, who had been denounced to her, in bed with her lover
and, thinking to cover her head with her coif, donneth instead thereof
the breeches of a priest who is abed with her; the which the accused
nun observing and making her aware thereof, she is acquitted and hath
leisure to be with her lover_ 432

THE THIRD STORY. _Master Simone, at the instance of Bruno and
Buffalmacco and Nello, maketh Calandrino believe that he is with
child; wherefore he giveth them capons and money for medicines and
recovereth without bringing forth_ 435

THE FOURTH STORY. _Cecco Fortarrigo gameth away at Buonconvento all
his good and the monies of Cecco Angiolieri [his master;] moreover,
running after the latter, in his shirt, and avouching that he hath
robbed him, he causeth him be taken of the countryfolk; then, donning
Angiolieri's clothes and mounting his palfrey, he maketh off and
leaveth the other in his shirt_ 438

THE FIFTH STORY. _Calandrino falleth in love with a wench and Bruno
writeth him a talisman, wherewith when he toucheth her, she goeth with
him; and his wife finding them together, there betideth him grievous
trouble and annoy_ 441

THE SIXTH STORY. _Two young gentlemen lodge the night with an
innkeeper, whereof one goeth to lie with the host's daughter, whilst
his wife unwittingly coucheth with the other; after which he who lay
with the girl getteth him to bed with her father and telleth him all,
thinking to bespeak his comrade. Therewithal they come to words, but
the wife, perceiving her mistake, entereth her daughter's bed and
thence with certain words appeaseth everything_ 446

THE SEVENTH STORY. _Talano di Molese dreameth that a wolf mangleth all
his wife's neck and face and biddeth her beware thereof; but she
payeth no heed to his warning and it befalleth her even as he had
dreamed_ 450

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Biondello cheateth Ciacco of a dinner, whereof the
other craftily avengeth himself, procuring him to be shamefully
beaten_ 451

THE NINTH STORY. _Two young men seek counsel of Solomon, one how he
may be loved and the other how he may amend his froward wife, and in
answer he biddeth the one love and the other get him to Goosebridge_

THE TENTH STORY. _Dom Gianni, at the instance of his gossip Pietro,
performeth a conjuration for the purpose of causing the latter's wife
to become a mare; but, whenas he cometh to put on the tail, Pietro
marreth the whole conjuration, saying that he will not have a tail_


THE FIRST STORY. _A knight in the king's service of Spain thinking
himself ill guerdoned, the king by very certain proof showeth him that
this is not his fault, but that of his own perverse fortune, and after
largesseth him magnificently_ 462

THE SECOND STORY. _Ghino di Tacco taketh the Abbot of Cluny and having
cured him of the stomach-complaint, letteth him go; whereupon the
Abbot, returning to the court of Rome, reconcileth him with Pope
Boniface and maketh him a Prior of the Hospitallers_ 464

THE THIRD STORY. _Mithridanes, envying Nathan his hospitality and
generosity and going to kill him, falleth in with himself, without
knowing him, and is by him instructed of the course he shall take to
accomplish his purpose; by means whereof he findeth him, as he himself
had ordered it, in a coppice and recognizing him, is ashamed and
becometh his friend_ 468

THE FOURTH STORY. _Messer Gentile de' Carisendi, coming from Modona,
taketh forth of the sepulchre a lady whom he loveth and who hath been
buried for dead. The lady, restored to life, beareth a male child and
Messer Gentile restoreth her and her son to Niccoluccio Caccianimico,
her husband_ 472

THE FIFTH STORY. _Madam Dianora requireth of Messer Ansaldo a garden
as fair in January as in May, and he by binding himself [to pay a
great sum of money] to a nigromancer, giveth it to her. Her husband
granteth her leave to do Messer Ansaldo's pleasure, but he, hearing of
the former's generosity, absolveth her of her promise, whereupon the
nigromancer, in his turn, acquitteth Messer Ansaldo of his bond,
without willing aught of his_ 478

THE SIXTH STORY. _King Charles the Old, the Victorious, falleth
enamoured of a young girl, but after, ashamed of his fond thought,
honourably marrieth both her and her sister_ 481

THE SEVENTH STORY. _King Pedro of Arragon, coming to know the fervent
love borne him by Lisa, comforteth the lovesick maid and presently
marrieth her to a noble young gentleman; then, kissing her on the
brow, he ever after avoucheth himself her knight_ 485

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Sophronia, thinking to marry Gisippus, becometh the
wife of Titus Quintius Fulvus and with him betaketh herself to Rome,
whither Gisippus cometh in poor case and conceiving himself slighted
of Titus, declareth, so he may die, to have slain a man. Titus,
recognizing him, to save him, avoucheth himself to have done the deed,
and the true murderer, seeing this, discovereth himself; whereupon
they are all three liberated by Octavianus and Titus, giving Gisippus
his sister to wife, hath all his good in common with him_ 491

THE NINTH STORY. _Saladin, in the disguise of a merchant, is
honourably entertained by Messer Torello d'Istria, who, presently
undertaking the [third] crusade, appointeth his wife a term for her
marrying again. He is taken [by the Saracens] and cometh, by his skill
in training hawks, under the notice of the Soldan, who knoweth him
again and discovering himself to him, entreateth him with the utmost
honour. Then, Torello falling sick for languishment, he is by magical
art transported in one night [from Alexandria] to Pavia, where, being
recognized by his wife at the bride-feast held for her marrying again,
he returneth with her to his own house_ 503

THE TENTH STORY. _The Marquess of Saluzzo, constrained by the prayers
of his vassals to marry, but determined to do it after his own
fashion, taketh to wife the daughter of a peasant and hath of her two
children, whom he maketh believe to her to put to death; after which,
feigning to be grown weary of her and to have taken another wife, he
letteth bring his own daughter home to his house, as she were his new
bride, and turneth his wife away in her shift; but, finding her
patient under everything, he fetcheth her home again, dearer than
ever, and showing her her children grown great, honoureth and letteth
honour her as marchioness_ 510




A kindly thing it is to have compassion of the afflicted and albeit it
well beseemeth every one, yet of those is it more particularly
required who have erst had need of comfort and have found it in any,
amongst whom, if ever any had need thereof or held it dear or took
pleasure therein aforetimes, certes, I am one of these. For that,
having from my first youth unto this present been beyond measure
inflamed with a very high and noble passion (higher and nobler,
perchance, than might appear, were I to relate it, to sort with my low
estate) albeit by persons of discretion who had intelligence thereof I
was commended therefor and accounted so much the more worth, natheless
a passing sore travail it was to me to bear it, not, certes, by reason
of the cruelty of the beloved lady, but because of the exceeding
ardour begotten in my breast of an ill-ordered appetite, for which,
for that it suffered me not to stand content at any reasonable bounds,
caused me ofttimes feel more chagrin than I had occasion for. In this
my affliction the pleasant discourse of a certain friend of mine and
his admirable consolations afforded me such refreshment that I firmly
believe of these it came that I died not. But, as it pleased Him who,
being Himself infinite, hath for immutable law appointed unto all
things mundane that they shall have an end, my love,--beyond every
other fervent and which nor stress of reasoning nor counsel, no, nor
yet manifest shame nor peril that might ensue thereof, had availed
either to break or to bend,--of its own motion, in process of time, on
such wise abated that of itself at this present it hath left me only
that pleasance which it is used to afford unto whoso adventureth
himself not too far in the navigation of its profounder oceans; by
reason whereof, all chagrin being done away, I feel it grown
delightsome, whereas it used to be grievous. Yet, albeit the pain hath
ceased, not, therefore, is the memory fled of the benefits whilom
received and the kindnesses bestowed on me by those to whom, of the
goodwill they bore me, my troubles were grievous; nor, as I deem, will
it ever pass away, save for death. And for that gratitude, to my
thinking, is, among the other virtues, especially commendable and its
contrary blameworthy, I have, that I may not appear ungrateful,
bethought myself, now that I can call myself free, to endeavour, in
that little which is possible to me, to afford some relief, in
requital of that which I received aforetime,--if not to those who
succoured me and who, belike, by reason of their good sense or of
their fortune, have no occasion therefor,--to those, at least, who
stand in need thereof. And albeit my support, or rather I should say
my comfort, may be and indeed is of little enough avail to the
afflicted, natheless meseemeth it should rather be proffered whereas
the need appeareth greater, as well because it will there do more
service as for that it will still be there the liefer had. And who
will deny that this [comfort], whatsoever [worth] it be, it behoveth
much more to give unto lovesick ladies than unto men? For that these
within their tender bosoms, fearful and shamefast, hold hid the fires
of love (which those who have proved know how much more puissance they
have than those which are manifest), and constrained by the wishes,
the pleasures, the commandments of fathers, mothers, brothers and
husbands, abide most time enmewed in the narrow compass of their
chambers and sitting in a manner idle, willing and willing not in one
breath, revolve in themselves various thoughts which it is not
possible should still be merry. By reason whereof if there arise in
their minds any melancholy, bred of ardent desire, needs must it with
grievous annoy abide therein, except it be done away by new discourse;
more by token that they are far less strong than men to endure. With
men in love it happeneth not on this wise, as we may manifestly see.
They, if any melancholy or heaviness of thought oppress them, have
many means of easing it or doing it away, for that to them, an they
have a mind thereto, there lacketh not commodity of going about
hearing and seeing many things, fowling, hunting, fishing, riding,
gaming and trafficking; each of which means hath, altogether or in
part, power to draw the mind unto itself and to divert it from
troublous thought, at least for some space of time, whereafter, one
way or another, either solacement superveneth or else the annoy
groweth less. Wherefore, to the end that the unright of Fortune may by
me in part be amended, which, where there is the less strength to
endure, as we see it in delicate ladies, hath there been the more
niggard of support, I purpose, for the succour and solace of ladies in
love (unto others[1] the needle and the spindle and the reel suffice)
to recount an hundred stories or fables or parables or histories or
whatever you like to style them, in ten days' time related by an
honourable company of seven ladies and three young men made in the
days of the late deadly pestilence, together with sundry canzonets
sung by the aforesaid ladies for their diversion. In these stories
will be found love-chances,[2] both gladsome and grievous, and other
accidents of fortune befallen as well in times present as in days of
old, whereof the ladies aforesaid, who shall read them, may at once
take solace from the delectable things therein shown forth and useful
counsel, inasmuch as they may learn thereby what is to be eschewed and
what is on like wise to be ensued,--the which methinketh cannot betide
without cease of chagrin. If it happen thus (as God grant it may) let
them render thanks therefor to Love, who, by loosing me from his
bonds, hath vouchsafed me the power of applying myself to the service
of their pleasures.

[Footnote 1: _i.e._ those not in love.]

[Footnote 2: Syn. adventures (_casi_).]

_Day the First_


As often, most gracious ladies, as, taking thought in myself, I mind
me how very pitiful you are all by nature, so often do I recognize
that this present work will, to your thinking, have a grievous and a
weariful beginning, inasmuch as the dolorous remembrance of the late
pestiferous mortality, which it beareth on its forefront, is
universally irksome to all who saw or otherwise knew it. But I would
not therefore have this affright you from reading further, as if in
the reading you were still to fare among sighs and tears. Let this
grisly beginning be none other to you than is to wayfarers a rugged
and steep mountain, beyond which is situate a most fair and delightful
plain, which latter cometh so much the pleasanter to them as the
greater was the hardship of the ascent and the descent; for, like as
dolour occupieth the extreme of gladness, even so are miseries
determined by imminent joyance. This brief annoy (I say brief,
inasmuch as it is contained in few pages) is straightway succeeded by
the pleasance and delight which I have already promised you and which,
belike, were it not aforesaid, might not be looked for from such a
beginning. And in truth, could I fairly have availed to bring you to
my desire otherwise than by so rugged a path as this will be I had
gladly done it; but being in a manner constrained thereto, for that,
without this reminiscence of our past miseries, it might not be shown
what was the occasion of the coming about of the things that will
hereafter be read, I have brought myself to write them.[3]

[Footnote 3: _i.e._ the few pages of which he speaks above.]

I say, then, that the years [of the era] of the fruitful Incarnation
of the Son of God had attained to the number of one thousand three
hundred and forty-eight, when into the notable city of Florence, fair
over every other of Italy, there came the death-dealing pestilence,
which, through the operation of the heavenly bodies or of our own
iniquitous dealings, being sent down upon mankind for our correction
by the just wrath of God, had some years before appeared in the parts
of the East and after having bereft these latter of an innumerable
number of inhabitants, extending without cease from one place to
another, had now unhappily spread towards the West. And thereagainst
no wisdom availing nor human foresight (whereby the city was purged of
many impurities by officers deputed to that end and it was forbidden
unto any sick person to enter therein and many were the counsels
given[4] for the preservation of health) nor yet humble
supplications, not once but many times both in ordered processions and
on other wise made unto God by devout persons,--about the coming in of
the Spring of the aforesaid year, it began on horrible and miraculous
wise to show forth its dolorous effects. Yet not as it had done in the
East, where, if any bled at the nose, it was a manifest sign of
inevitable death; nay, but in men and women alike there appeared, at
the beginning of the malady, certain swellings, either on the groin or
under the armpits, whereof some waxed of the bigness of a common
apple, others like unto an egg, some more and some less, and these the
vulgar named plague-boils. From these two parts the aforesaid
death-bearing plague-boils proceeded, in brief space, to appear and
come indifferently in every part of the body; wherefrom, after awhile,
the fashion of the contagion began to change into black or livid
blotches, which showed themselves in many [first] on the arms and
about the thighs and [after spread to] every other part of the person,
in some large and sparse and in others small and thick-sown; and like
as the plague-boils had been first (and yet were) a very certain token
of coming death, even so were these for every one to whom they came.

[Footnote 4: Syn. provisions made or means taken (_consigli dati_).
Boccaccio constantly uses _consiglio_ in this latter sense.]

To the cure of these maladies nor counsel[5] of physician nor virtue
of any medicine appeared to avail or profit aught; on the
contrary,--whether it was that the nature of the infection suffered it
not or that the ignorance of the physicians (of whom, over and above
the men of art, the number, both men and women, who had never had any
teaching of medicine, was become exceeding great,) availed not to know
whence it arose and consequently took not due measures thereagainst,--not
only did few recover thereof, but well nigh all died within the third
day from the appearance of the aforesaid signs, this sooner and that
later, and for the most part without fever or other accident.[6] And
this pestilence was the more virulent for that, by communication with
those who were sick thereof, it gat hold upon the sound, no otherwise
than fire upon things dry or greasy, whenas they are brought very near
thereunto. Nay, the mischief was yet greater; for that not only did
converse and consortion with the sick give to the sound infection of
cause of common death, but the mere touching of the clothes or of
whatsoever other thing had been touched or used of the sick appeared
of itself to communicate the malady to the toucher. A marvellous thing
to hear is that which I have to tell and one which, had it not been
seen of many men's eyes and of mine own, I had scarce dared credit,
much less set down in writing, though I had heard it from one worthy
of belief. I say, then, that of such efficience was the nature of the
pestilence in question in communicating itself from one to another,
that, not only did it pass from man to man, but this, which is much
more, it many times visibly did;--to wit, a thing which had pertained
to a man sick or dead of the aforesaid sickness, being touched by an
animal foreign to the human species, not only infected this latter
with the plague, but in a very brief space of time killed it. Of this
mine own eyes (as hath a little before been said) had one day, among
others, experience on this wise; to wit, that the rags of a poor man,
who had died of the plague, being cast out into the public way, two
hogs came up to them and having first, after their wont, rooted amain
among them with their snouts, took them in their mouths and tossed
them about their jaws; then, in a little while, after turning round
and round, they both, as if they had taken poison, fell down dead upon
the rags with which they had in an ill hour intermeddled.

[Footnote 5: Syn. help, remedy.]

[Footnote 6: _Accidente_, what a modern physician would call
"complication." "Symptom" does not express the whole meaning of the
Italian word.]

From these things and many others like unto them or yet stranger
divers fears and conceits were begotten in those who abode alive,
which well nigh all tended to a very barbarous conclusion, namely, to
shun and flee from the sick and all that pertained to them, and thus
doing, each thought to secure immunity for himself. Some there were
who conceived that to live moderately and keep oneself from all excess
was the best defence against such a danger; wherefore, making up their
company, they lived removed from every other and shut themselves up in
those houses where none had been sick and where living was best; and
there, using very temperately of the most delicate viands and the
finest wines and eschewing all incontinence, they abode with music and
such other diversions as they might have, never suffering themselves
to speak with any nor choosing to hear any news from without of death
or sick folk. Others, inclining to the contrary opinion, maintained
that to carouse and make merry and go about singing and frolicking and
satisfy the appetite in everything possible and laugh and scoff at
whatsoever befell was a very certain remedy for such an ill. That
which they said they put in practice as best they might, going about
day and night, now to this tavern, now to that, drinking without stint
or measure; and on this wise they did yet more freely in other folk's
houses, so but they scented there aught that liked or tempted them, as
they might lightly do, for that every one--as he were to live no
longer--had abandoned all care of his possessions, as of himself,
wherefore the most part of the houses were become common good and
strangers used them, whenas they happened upon them, like as the very
owner might have done; and with all this bestial preoccupation, they
still shunned the sick to the best of their power.

In this sore affliction and misery of our city, the reverend authority
of the laws, both human and divine, was all in a manner dissolved and
fallen into decay, for [lack of] the ministers and executors thereof,
who, like other men, were all either dead or sick or else left so
destitute of followers that they were unable to exercise any office,
wherefore every one had license to do whatsoever pleased him. Many
others held a middle course between the two aforesaid, not straitening
themselves so exactly in the matter of diet as the first neither
allowing themselves such license in drinking and other debauchery as
the second, but using things in sufficiency, according to their
appetites; nor did they seclude themselves, but went about, carrying
in their hands, some flowers, some odoriferous herbs and other some
divers kinds of spiceries,[7] which they set often to their noses,
accounting it an excellent thing to fortify the brain with such
odours, more by token that the air seemed all heavy and attainted with
the stench of the dead bodies and that of the sick and of the remedies

[Footnote 7: _i.e._ aromatic drugs.]

Some were of a more barbarous, though, peradventure, a surer way of
thinking, avouching that there was no remedy against pestilences
better than--no, nor any so good as--to flee before them; wherefore,
moved by this reasoning and recking of nought but themselves, very
many, both men and women, abandoned their own city, their own houses
and homes, their kinsfolk and possessions, and sought the country
seats of others, or, at the least, their own, as if the wrath of God,
being moved to punish the iniquity of mankind, would not proceed to do
so wheresoever they might be, but would content itself with afflicting
those only who were found within the walls of their city, or as if
they were persuaded that no person was to remain therein and that its
last hour was come. And albeit these, who opined thus variously, died
not all, yet neither did they all escape; nay, many of each way of
thinking and in every place sickened of the plague and languished on
all sides, well nigh abandoned, having themselves, what while they
were whole, set the example to those who abode in health.

Indeed, leaving be that townsman avoided townsman and that well nigh
no neighbour took thought unto other and that kinsfolk seldom or never
visited one another and held no converse together save from afar, this
tribulation had stricken such terror to the hearts of all, men and
women alike, that brother forsook brother, uncle nephew and sister
brother and oftentimes wife husband; nay (what is yet more
extraordinary and well nigh incredible) fathers and mothers refused to
visit or tend their very children, as they had not been theirs. By
reason whereof there remained unto those (and the number of them, both
males and females, was incalculable) who fell sick, none other succour
than that which they owed either to the charity of friends (and of
these there were few) or the greed of servants, who tended them,
allured by high and extravagant wage; albeit, for all this, these
latter were not grown many, and those men and women of mean
understanding and for the most part unused to such offices, who served
for well nigh nought but to reach things called for by the sick or to
note when they died; and in the doing of these services many of them
perished with their gain.

Of this abandonment of the sick by neighbours, kinsfolk and friends
and of the scarcity of servants arose an usage before well nigh
unheard, to wit, that no woman, how fair or lovesome or well-born
soever she might be, once fallen sick, recked aught of having a man to
tend her, whatever he might be, or young or old, and without any shame
discovered to him every part of her body, no otherwise than she would
have done to a woman, so but the necessity of her sickness required
it; the which belike, in those who recovered, was the occasion of
lesser modesty in time to come. Moreover, there ensued of this
abandonment the death of many who peradventure, had they been
succoured, would have escaped alive; wherefore, as well for the lack
of the opportune services which the sick availed not to have as for
the virulence of the plague, such was the multitude of those who died
in the city by day and by night that it was an astonishment to hear
tell thereof, much more to see it; and thence, as it were of
necessity, there sprang up among those who abode alive things contrary
to the pristine manners of the townsfolk.

It was then (even as we yet see it used) a custom that the kinswomen
and she-neighbours of the dead should assemble in his house and there
condole with those who more nearly pertained unto him, whilst his
neighbours and many other citizens foregathered with his next of kin
before his house, whither, according to the dead man's quality, came
the clergy, and he with funeral pomp of chants and candles was borne
on the shoulders of his peers to the church chosen by himself before
his death; which usages, after the virulence of the plague began to
increase, were either altogether or for the most part laid aside, and
other and strange customs sprang up in their stead. For that, not only
did folk die without having a multitude of women about them, but many
there were who departed this life without witness and few indeed were
they to whom the pious plaints and bitter tears of their kinsfolk were
vouchsafed; nay, in lieu of these things there obtained, for the most
part, laughter and jests and gibes and feasting and merrymaking in
company; which usance women, laying aside womanly pitifulness, had
right well learned for their own safety.

Few, again, were they whose bodies were accompanied to the church by
more than half a score or a dozen of their neighbours, and of these no
worshipful and illustrious citizens, but a sort of blood-suckers,
sprung from the dregs of the people, who styled themselves
_pickmen_[8] and did such offices for hire, shouldered the bier and
bore it with hurried steps, not to that church which the dead man had
chosen before his death, but most times to the nearest, behind five or
six[9] priests, with little light[10] and whiles none at all, which
latter, with the aid of the said pickmen, thrust him into what grave
soever they first found unoccupied, without troubling themselves with
too long or too formal a service.

[Footnote 8: _i.e._ gravediggers (_becchini_).]

[Footnote 9: Lit. _four_ or six. This is the equivalent Italian

[Footnote 10: _i.e._ but few tapers.]

The condition of the common people (and belike, in great part, of the
middle class also) was yet more pitiable to behold, for that these,
for the most part retained by hope[11] or poverty in their houses and
abiding in their own quarters, sickened by the thousand daily and
being altogether untended and unsuccoured, died well nigh all without
recourse. Many breathed their last in the open street, whilst other
many, for all they died in their houses, made it known to the
neighbours that they were dead rather by the stench of their rotting
bodies than otherwise; and of these and others who died all about the
whole city was full. For the most part one same usance was observed by
the neighbours, moved more by fear lest the corruption of the dead
bodies should imperil themselves than by any charity they had for the
departed; to wit, that either with their own hands or with the aid of
certain bearers, whenas they might have any, they brought the bodies
of those who had died forth of their houses and laid them before their
doors, where, especially in the morning, those who went about might
see corpses without number; then they fetched biers and some, in
default thereof, they laid upon some board or other. Nor was it only
one bier that carried two or three corpses, nor did this happen but
once; nay, many might have been counted which contained husband and
wife, two or three brothers, father and son or the like. And an
infinite number of times it befell that, two priests going with one
cross for some one, three or four biers, borne by bearers, ranged
themselves behind the latter,[12] and whereas the priests thought to
have but one dead man to bury, they had six or eight, and whiles more.
Nor therefore were the dead honoured with aught of tears or candles or
funeral train; nay, the thing was come to such a pass that folk recked
no more of men that died than nowadays they would of goats; whereby it
very manifestly appeared that that which the natural course of things
had not availed, by dint of small and infrequent harms, to teach the
wise to endure with patience, the very greatness of their ills had
brought even the simple to expect and make no account of. The
consecrated ground sufficing not to the burial of the vast multitude
of corpses aforesaid, which daily and well nigh hourly came carried in
crowds to every church,--especially if it were sought to give each his
own place, according to ancient usance,--there were made throughout
the churchyards, after every other part was full, vast trenches,
wherein those who came after were laid by the hundred and being heaped
up therein by layers, as goods are stowed aboard ship, were covered
with a little earth, till such time as they reached the top of the

[Footnote 11: _i.e._ expectation of gain from acting as tenders of the
sick, gravediggers, etc. The word _speranza_ is, however, constantly
used by Dante and his follower Boccaccio in the contrary sense of
"fear," and may be so meant in the present instance.]

[Footnote 12: _i.e._ the cross.]

Moreover,--not to go longer searching out and recalling every
particular of our past miseries, as they befell throughout the
city,--I say that, whilst so sinister a time prevailed in the latter,
on no wise therefor was the surrounding country spared, wherein,
(letting be the castles,[13] which in their littleness[14] were like
unto the city,) throughout the scattered villages and in the fields,
the poor and miserable husbandmen and their families, without succour
of physician or aid of servitor, died, not like men, but well nigh
like beasts, by the ways or in their tillages or about the houses,
indifferently by day and night. By reason whereof, growing lax like
the townsfolk in their manners and customs, they recked not of any
thing or business of theirs; nay, all, as if they looked for death
that very day, studied with all their wit, not to help to maturity the
future produce of their cattle and their fields and the fruits of
their own past toils, but to consume those which were ready to hand.
Thus it came to pass that the oxen, the asses, the sheep, the goats,
the swine, the fowls, nay, the very dogs, so faithful to mankind,
being driven forth of their own houses, went straying at their
pleasure about the fields, where the very corn was abandoned, without
being cut, much less gathered in; and many, well nigh like reasonable
creatures, after grazing all day, returned at night, glutted, to their
houses, without the constraint of any herdsman.

[Footnote 13: _i.e._ walled burghs.]

[Footnote 14: _i.e._ in miniature.]

To leave the country and return to the city, what more can be said
save that such and so great was the cruelty of heaven (and in part,
peradventure, that of men) that, between March and the following July,
what with the virulence of that pestiferous sickness and the number of
sick folk ill tended or forsaken in their need, through the
fearfulness of those who were whole, it is believed for certain that
upward of an hundred thousand human beings perished within the walls
of the city of Florence, which, peradventure, before the advent of
that death-dealing calamity, had not been accounted to hold so many?
Alas, how many great palaces, how many goodly houses, how many noble
mansions, once full of families, of lords and of ladies, abode empty
even to the meanest servant! How many memorable families, how many
ample heritages, how many famous fortunes were seen to remain without
lawful heir! How many valiant men, how many fair ladies, how many
sprightly youths, whom, not others only, but Galen, Hippocrates or
Æsculapius themselves would have judged most hale, breakfasted in the
morning with their kinsfolk, comrades and friends and that same night
supped with their ancestors in the other world!

I am myself weary of going wandering so long among such miseries;
wherefore, purposing henceforth to leave such part thereof as I can
fitly, I say that,--our city being at this pass, well nigh void of
inhabitants,--it chanced (as I afterward heard from a person worthy of
credit) that there foregathered in the venerable church of Santa Maria
Novella, one Tuesday morning when there was well nigh none else there,
seven young ladies, all knit one to another by friendship or
neighbourhood or kinship, who had heard divine service in mourning
attire, as sorted with such a season. Not one of them had passed her
eight-and-twentieth year nor was less than eighteen years old, and
each was discreet and of noble blood, fair of favour and well-mannered
and full of honest sprightliness. The names of these ladies I would in
proper terms set out, did not just cause forbid me, to wit, that I
would not have it possible that, in time to come, any of them should
take shame by reason of the things hereinafter related as being told
or hearkened by them, the laws of disport being nowadays somewhat
straitened, which at that time, for the reasons above shown, were of
the largest, not only for persons of their years, but for those of a
much riper age; nor yet would I give occasion to the envious, who are
still ready to carp at every praiseworthy life, on anywise to
disparage the fair fame of these honourable ladies with unseemly talk.
Wherefore, so that which each saith may hereafterward be apprehended
without confusion, I purpose to denominate them by names altogether or
in part sorting with each one's quality.[15] The first of them and
her of ripest age I shall call Pampinea, the second Fiammetta, the
third Filomena and the fourth Emilia. To the fifth we will give the
name of Lauretta, to the sixth that of Neifile and the last, not
without cause, we will style Elisa.[16] These, then, not drawn of any
set purpose, but foregathering by chance in a corner of the church,
having seated themselves in a ring, after divers sighs, let be the
saying of paternosters and fell to devising with one another many and
various things of the nature of the time. After awhile, the others
being silent, Pampinea proceeded to speak thus:

[Footnote 15: Or character (_qualità_).]

[Footnote 16: I know of no explanation of these names by the
commentators, who seem, indeed, after the manner of their kind, to
have generally confined themselves to the elaborate illustration and
elucidation (or rather, alas! too often, obscuration) of passages
already perfectly plain, leaving the difficult passages for the most
part untouched. The following is the best I can make of them.
_Pampinea_ appears to be formed from the Greek [Greek: pan], all, and
[Greek: pinuô], I advise, admonish or inform, and to mean all-advising
or admonishing, which would agree well enough with the character of
Pampinea, who is represented as the eldest and sagest of the female
personages of the Decameron and as taking the lead in everything.
_Fiammetta_ is the name by which Boccaccio designates his mistress,
the Princess Maria of Naples (the lady for whom he cherished "the very
high and noble passion" of which he speaks in his Proem), in his
earlier opuscule, the "Elégia di Madonna Fiammetta," describing, in
her name, the torments of separation from the beloved. In this work he
speaks of himself under the name of Pamfilo (Gr. [Greek: pan], all,
and [Greek: phileô], I love, _i.e._ the all-loving or the passionate
lover), and it is probable, therefore, that under these names he
intended to introduce his royal ladylove and himself in the present
work. _Filomena_ (Italian form of Philomela, a nightingale, Greek
[Greek: philos] loving, and [Greek: melos], melody, song, _i.e._
song-loving) is perhaps so styled for her love of music, and
_Emilia's_ character, as it appears in the course of the work,
justifies the derivation of her name from the Greek [Greek: aimylios],
pleasing, engaging in manners and behaviour, cajoling. _Lauretta_
Boccaccio probably intends us to look upon as a learned lady, if, as
we may suppose, her name is a corruption of _laureata_,
laurel-crowned; whilst _Neifile's_ name (Greek [Greek: neios] [[Greek:
neos]] new, and [Greek: phileô], I love, _i.e._ novelty-loving) stamps
her as being of a somewhat curious disposition, eager "to tell or to
hear some new thing." The name _Elisa_ is not so easily to be
explained as the others; possibly it was intended by the author as a
reminiscence of Dido, to whom the name (which is by some authorities
explained to mean "Godlike," from a Hebrew root) is said to have been
given "quòd plurima supra animi muliebris fortitudinem gesserit." It
does not, however, appear that there was in Elisa's character or life
anything to justify the implied comparison.]

"Dear my ladies, you may, like myself, have many times heard that
whoso honestly useth his right doth no one wrong; and it is the
natural right of every one who is born here below to succour, keep and
defend his own life as best he may, and in so far is this allowed that
it hath happened whiles that, for the preservation thereof, men have
been slain without any fault. If this much be conceded of the laws,
which have in view the well-being of all mortals, how much more is it
lawful for us and whatsoever other, without offence unto any, to take
such means as we may for the preservation of our lives? As often as I
consider our fashions of this morning and those of many other mornings
past and bethink me what and what manner discourses are ours, I feel,
and you likewise must feel, that each of us is in fear for herself.
Nor do I anywise wonder at this; but I wonder exceedingly, considering
that we all have a woman's wit, that we take no steps to provide
ourselves against that which each of us justly feareth. We abide here,
to my seeming, no otherwise than as if we would or should be witness
of how many dead bodies are brought hither for burial or to hearken if
the friars of the place, whose number is come well nigh to nought,
chant their offices at the due hours or by our apparel to show forth
unto whosoever appeareth here the nature and extent of our distresses.
If we depart hence, we either see dead bodies or sick persons carried
about or those, whom for their misdeeds the authority of the public
laws whilere condemned to exile, overrun the whole place with unseemly
excesses, as if scoffing at the laws, for that they know the executors
thereof to be either dead or sick; whilst the dregs of our city,
fattened with our blood, style themselves _pickmen_ and ruffle it
everywhere in mockery of us, riding and running all about and flouting
us with our distresses in ribald songs. We hear nothing here but 'Such
an one is dead' or 'Such an one is at the point of death'; and were
there any to make them, we should hear dolorous lamentations on all
sides. And if we return to our houses, I know not if it is with you as
with me, but, for my part, when I find none left therein of a great
household, save my serving-maid, I wax fearful and feel every hair of
my body stand on end; and wherever I go or abide about the house,
meseemeth I see the shades of those who are departed and who wear not
those countenances that I was used to see, but terrify me with a
horrid aspect, I know not whence newly come to them.

By reason of these things I feel myself alike ill at ease here and
abroad and at home, more by token that meseemeth none, who hath, as we
have, the power and whither to go, is left here, other than ourselves;
or if any such there be, I have many a time both heard and perceived
that, without making any distinction between things lawful and
unlawful, so but appetite move them, whether alone or in company, both
day and night, they do that which affordeth them most delight. Nor is
it the laity alone who do thus; nay, even those who are shut in the
monasteries, persuading themselves that what befitteth and is lawful
to others alike sortable and unforbidden unto them,[17] have broken
the laws of obedience and giving themselves to carnal delights,
thinking thus to escape, are grown lewd and dissolute. If thus, then,
it be, as is manifestly to be seen, what do we here? What look we for?
What dream we? Why are we more sluggish and slower to provide for our
safety than all the rest of the townsfolk? Deem we ourselves of less
price than others, or do we hold our life to be bounden in our bodies
with a stronger chain than is theirs and that therefore we need reck
nothing of aught that hath power to harm it? We err, we are deceived;
what folly is ours, if we think thus! As often as we choose to call to
mind the number and quality of the youths and ladies overborne of this
cruel pestilence, we may see a most manifest proof thereof.

[Footnote 17: This phrase may also be read "persuading themselves that
that (_i.e._ their breach of the laws of obedience, etc.) beseemeth
them and is forbidden only to others" (_faccendosi a credere che
quello a lor si convenga e non si disdica che all' altre_); but the
reading in the text appears more in harmony with the general sense and
is indeed indicated by the punctuation of the Giunta Edition of 1527,
which I generally follow in case of doubt.]

Wherefore, in order that we may not, through wilfulness or
nonchalance, fall into that wherefrom we may, peradventure, an we but
will, by some means or other escape, I know not if it seem to you as
it doth to me, but methinketh it were excellently well done that we,
such as we are, depart this city, as many have done before us, and
eschewing, as we would death, the dishonourable example of others,
betake ourselves quietly to our places in the country, whereof each of
us hath great plenty, and there take such diversion, such delight and
such pleasance as we may, without anywise overpassing the bounds of
reason. There may we hear the small birds sing, there may we see the
hills and plains clad all in green and the fields full of corn wave
even as doth the sea; there may we see trees, a thousand sorts, and
there is the face of heaven more open to view, the which, angered
against us though it be, nevertheless denieth not unto us its eternal
beauties, far goodlier to look upon than the empty walls of our city.
Moreover, there is the air far fresher[18] and there at this season is
more plenty of that which behoveth unto life and less is the sum of
annoys, for that, albeit the husbandmen die there, even as do the
townsfolk here, the displeasance is there the less, insomuch as houses
and inhabitants are rarer than in the city.

[Footnote 18: Syn. cooler.]

Here, on the other hand, if I deem aright, we abandon no one; nay, we
may far rather say with truth that we ourselves are abandoned, seeing
that our kinsfolk, either dying or fleeing from death, have left us
alone in this great tribulation, as it were we pertained not unto
them. No blame can therefore befall the ensuing of this counsel; nay,
dolour and chagrin and belike death may betide us, an we ensue it not.
Wherefore, an it please you, methinketh we should do well to take our
maids and letting follow after us with the necessary gear, sojourn
to-day in this place and to-morrow in that, taking such pleasance and
diversion as the season may afford, and on this wise abide till such
time (an we be not earlier overtaken of death) as we shall see what
issue Heaven reserveth unto these things. And I would remind you that
it is no more forbidden unto us honourably to depart than it is unto
many others of our sex to abide in dishonour."

The other ladies, having hearkened to Pampinea, not only commended her
counsel, but, eager to follow it, had already begun to devise more
particularly among themselves of the manner, as if, arising from
their session there, they were to set off out of hand. But Filomena,
who was exceeding discreet, said, "Ladies, albeit that which Pampinea
allegeth is excellently well said, yet is there no occasion for
running, as meseemeth you would do. Remember that we are all women and
none of us is child enough not to know how [little] reasonable women
are among themselves and how [ill], without some man's guidance, they
know how to order themselves. We are fickle, wilful, suspicious,
faint-hearted and timorous, for which reasons I misdoubt me sore, an
we take not some other guidance than our own, that our company will be
far too soon dissolved and with less honour to ourselves than were
seemly; wherefore we should do well to provide ourselves, ere we

"Verily," answered Elisa, "men are the head of women, and without
their ordinance seldom cometh any emprise of ours to good end; but how
may we come by these men? There is none of us but knoweth that of her
kinsmen the most part are dead and those who abide alive are all gone
fleeing that which we seek to flee, in divers companies, some here and
some there, without our knowing where, and to invite strangers would
not be seemly, seeing that, if we would endeavour after our welfare,
it behoveth us find a means of so ordering ourselves that, wherever we
go for diversion and repose, scandal nor annoy may ensue thereof."

Whilst such discourse was toward between the ladies, behold, there
entered the church three young men,--yet not so young that the age of
the youngest of them was less than five-and-twenty years,--in whom
neither the perversity of the time nor loss of friends and kinsfolk,
no, nor fear for themselves had availed to cool, much less to quench,
the fire of love. Of these one was called Pamfilo,[19] another
Filostrato[20] and the third Dioneo,[21] all very agreeable and
well-bred, and they went seeking, for their supreme solace, in such a
perturbation of things, to see their mistresses, who, as it chanced,
were all three among the seven aforesaid; whilst certain of the other
ladies were near kinswomen of one or other of the young men.

[Footnote 19: See ante, p. 8, note.]

[Footnote 20: _Filostrato_, Greek [Greek: philos], loving, and [Greek:
stratos], army, _met._ strife, war, _i.e._ one who loves strife. This
name appears to be a reminiscence of Boccaccio's poem (_Il
Filostrato_, well known through its translation by Chaucer and the
Senechal d'Anjou) upon the subject of the loves of Troilus and
Cressida and to be in this instance used by him as a synonym for an
unhappy lover, whom no rebuffs, no treachery can divert from his
ill-starred passion. Such a lover may well be said to be in love with
strife, and that the Filostrato of the Decameron sufficiently answers
to this description we learn later on from his own lips.]

[Footnote 21: _Dioneo_, a name probably coined from the Greek [Greek:
Diônê], one of the _agnomina_ of Venus (properly her mother's name)
and intended to denote the amorous temperament of his personage, to
which, indeed, the erotic character of most of the stories told by him
bears sufficient witness.]

No sooner had their eyes fallen on the ladies than they were
themselves espied of them; whereupon quoth Pampinea, smiling, "See,
fortune is favourable to our beginnings and hath thrown in our way
young men of worth and discretion, who will gladly be to us both
guides and servitors, an we disdain not to accept of them in that
capacity." But Neifile, whose face was grown all vermeil for
shamefastness, for that it was she who was beloved of one of the young
men, said, "For God's sake, Pampinea, look what thou sayest! I
acknowledge most frankly that there can be nought but all good said of
which one soever of them and I hold them sufficient unto a much
greater thing than this, even as I opine that they would bear, not
only ourselves, but far fairer and nobler dames than we, good and
honourable company. But, for that it is a very manifest thing that
they are enamoured of certain of us who are here, I fear lest, without
our fault or theirs, scandal and blame ensue thereof, if we carry them
with us." Quoth Filomena, "That skilleth nought; so but I live
honestly and conscience prick me not of aught, let who will speak to
the contrary; God and the truth will take up arms for me. Wherefore,
if they be disposed to come, verily we may say with Pampinea that
fortune is favourable to our going."

The other ladies, hearing her speak thus absolutely, not only held
their peace, but all with one accord agreed that the young men should
be called and acquainted with their project and bidden to be pleased
bear them company in their expedition. Accordingly, without more
words, Pampinea, who was knit by kinship to one of them, rising to her
feet, made for the three young men, who stood fast, looking upon them,
and saluting them with a cheerful countenance, discovered to them
their intent and prayed them, on behalf of herself and her companions,
that they would be pleased to bear them company in a pure and
brotherly spirit. The young men at the first thought themselves
bantered, but, seeing that the lady spoke in good earnest, they made
answer joyfully that they were ready, and without losing time about
the matter, forthright took order for that which they had to do
against departure.

On the following morning, Wednesday to wit, towards break of day,
having let orderly make ready all things needful and despatched them
in advance whereas they purposed to go,[22] the ladies, with certain
of their waiting-women, and the three young men, with as many of their
serving-men, departing Florence, set out upon their way; nor had they
gone more than two short miles from the city, when they came to the
place fore-appointed of them, which was situate on a little hill,
somewhat withdrawn on every side from the high way and full of various
shrubs and plants, all green of leafage and pleasant to behold. On the
summit of this hill was a palace, with a goodly and great courtyard in
its midst and galleries[23] and saloons and bedchambers, each in
itself most fair and adorned and notable with jocund paintings, with
lawns and grassplots round about and wonder-goodly gardens and wells
of very cold water and cellars full of wines of price, things more apt
unto curious drinkers than unto sober and modest ladies. The new
comers, to their no little pleasure, found the place all swept and the
beds made in the chambers and every thing full of such flowers as
might be had at that season and strewn with rushes.

[Footnote 22: _e prima mandato là dove_, etc. This passage is obscure
and may be read to mean "and having first despatched [a messenger] (or
sent [word]) whereas," etc. I think, however, that _mandato_ is a
copyist's error for _mandata_, in which case the meaning would be as
in the text.]

[Footnote 23: Or balconies (_loggie_).]

As soon as they had seated themselves, Dioneo, who was the merriest
springald in the world and full of quips and cranks, said, "Ladies,
your wit, rather than our foresight, hath guided us hither, and I know
not what you purpose to do with your cares; as for my own, I left them
within the city gates, whenas I issued thence with you awhile agone;
wherefore, do you either address yourselves to make merry and laugh
and sing together with me (in so far, I mean, as pertaineth to your
dignity) or give me leave to go back for my cares and abide in the
afflicted city." Whereto Pampinea, no otherwise than as if in like
manner she had banished all her own cares, answered blithely, "Dioneo,
thou sayst well; it behoveth us live merrily, nor hath any other
occasion caused us flee from yonder miseries. But, for that things
which are without measure may not long endure, I, who began the
discourse wherethrough this so goodly company came to be made, taking
thought for the continuance of our gladness, hold it of necessity that
we appoint some one to be principal among us, whom we may honour and
obey as chief and whose especial care it shall be to dispose us to
live joyously. And in order that each in turn may prove the burden of
solicitude, together with the pleasure of headship; and that, the
chief being thus drawn, in turn, from one and the other sex, there may
be no cause for jealousy, as might happen, were any excluded from the
sovranty, I say that unto each be attributed the burden and the honour
for one day. Let who is to be our first chief be at the election of us
all. For who shall follow, be it he or she whom it shall please the
governor of the day to appoint, whenas the hour of vespers draweth
near, and let each in turn, at his or her discretion, order and
dispose of the place and manner wherein we are to live, for such time
as his or her seignory shall endure."

Pampinea's words pleased mightily, and with one voice they elected her
chief of the first day; whereupon Filomena, running nimbly to a
laurel-tree--for that she had many a time heard speak of the honour
due to the leaves of this plant and how worship-worth they made whoso
was deservedly crowned withal--and plucking divers sprays therefrom,
made her thereof a goodly and honourable wreath, which, being set upon
her head, was thenceforth, what while their company lasted, a manifest
sign unto every other of the royal office and seignory.

Pampinea, being made queen, commanded that every one should be silent;
then, calling the serving-men of the three young gentlemen and her own
and the other ladies' women, who were four in number, before herself
and all being silent, she spoke thus: "In order that I may set you a
first example, by which, proceeding from good to better, our company
may live and last in order and pleasance and without reproach so long
as it is agreeable to us, I constitute, firstly, Parmeno, Dioneo's
servant, my seneschal and commit unto him the care and ordinance of
all our household and [especially] that which pertaineth to the
service of the saloon. Sirisco, Pamfilo's servant, I will shall be
our purveyor and treasurer and ensue the commandments of Parmeno.
Tindaro shall look to the service of Filostrato and the other two
gentlemen in their bed chambers, what time the others, being occupied
about their respective offices, cannot attend thereto. Misia, my
woman, and Filomena's Licisca shall still abide in the kitchen and
there diligently prepare such viands as shall be appointed them of
Parmeno. Lauretta's Chimera and Fiammetta's Stratilia it is our
pleasure shall occupy themselves with the ordinance of the ladies'
chambers and the cleanliness of the places where we shall abide; and
we will and command all and several, as they hold our favour dear, to
have a care that, whithersoever they go or whencesoever they return
and whatsoever they hear or see, they bring us from without no news
other than joyous." These orders summarily given and commended of all,
Pampinea, rising blithely to her feet, said, "Here be gardens, here be
meadows, here be store of other delectable places, wherein let each go
a-pleasuring at will; and when tierce[24] soundeth, let all be here,
so we may eat in the cool."

[Footnote 24: _i.e._ Nine o'clock a.m. Boccaccio's habit of measuring
time by the canonical hours has been a sore stumbling-block to the
ordinary English and French translator, who is generally terribly at
sea as to his meaning, inclining to render _tierce_ three, _sexte_ six
o'clock and _none_ noon and making shots of the same wild kind at the
other hours. The monasterial rule (which before the general
introduction of clocks was commonly followed by the mediæval public in
the computation of time) divided the twenty-four hours of the day and
night into seven parts (six of three hours each and one of six), the
inception of which was denoted by the sound of the bells that summoned
the clergy to the performance of the seven canonical offices _i.e._
_Matins_ at 3 a.m., _Prime_ at 6 a.m., _Tierce_ at 9 a.m., _Sexte_ or
Noonsong at noon, _None_ at 3 p.m., _Vespers_ or Evensong at 6 p.m.
and _Complines_ or Nightsong at 9 p.m., and at the same time served
the laity as a clock.]

The merry company, being thus dismissed by the new queen, went
straying with slow steps, young men and fair ladies together, about a
garden, devising blithely and diverting themselves with weaving goodly
garlands of various leaves and carolling amorously. After they had
abidden there such time as had been appointed them of the queen, they
returned to the house, where they found that Parmeno had made a
diligent beginning with his office, for that, entering a saloon on the
ground floor, they saw there the tables laid with the whitest of
cloths and beakers that seemed of silver and everything covered with
the flowers of the broom; whereupon, having washed their hands, they
all, by command of the queen, seated themselves according to Parmeno's
ordinance. Then came viands delicately drest and choicest wines were
proffered and the three serving-men, without more, quietly tended the
tables. All, being gladdened by these things, for that they were fair
and orderly done, ate joyously and with store of merry talk, and the
tables being cleared away,[25] the queen bade bring instruments of
music, for that all the ladies knew how to dance, as also the young
men, and some of them could both play and sing excellent well.
Accordingly, by her commandment, Dioneo took a lute and Fiammetta a
viol and began softly to sound a dance; whereupon the queen and the
other ladies, together with the other two young men, having sent the
serving-men to eat, struck up a round and began with a slow pace to
dance a brawl; which ended, they fell to singing quaint and merry
ditties. On this wise they abode till it seemed to the queen time to
go to sleep,[26] and she accordingly dismissed them all; whereupon the
young men retired to their chambers, which were withdrawn from the
ladies' lodging, and finding them with the beds well made and as full
of flowers as the saloon, put off their clothes and betook themselves
to rest, whilst the ladies, on their part, did likewise.

[Footnote 25: The table of Boccaccio's time was a mere board upon
trestles, which when not in actual use, was stowed away, for room's
sake, against the wall.]

[Footnote 26: _i.e._ to take the siesta or midday nap common in hot

None[27] had not long sounded when the queen, arising, made all the
other ladies arise, and on like wise the three young men, alleging
overmuch sleep to be harmful by day; and so they betook themselves to
a little meadow, where the grass grew green and high nor there had the
sun power on any side. There, feeling the waftings of a gentle breeze,
they all, as their queen willed it, seated themselves in a ring on the
green grass; while she bespoke them thus, "As ye see, the sun is high
and the heat great, nor is aught heard save the crickets yonder among
the olives; wherefore it were doubtless folly to go anywhither at this
present. Here is the sojourn fair and cool, and here, as you see, are
chess and tables,[28] and each can divert himself as is most to his
mind. But, an my counsel be followed in this, we shall pass away this
sultry part of the day, not in gaming,--wherein the mind of one of the
players must of necessity be troubled, without any great pleasure of
the other or of those who look on,--but in telling stories, which, one
telling, may afford diversion to all the company who hearken; nor
shall we have made an end of telling each his story but the sun will
have declined and the heat be abated, and we can then go a-pleasuring
whereas it may be most agreeable to us. Wherefore, if this that I say
please you, (for I am disposed to follow your pleasure therein,) let
us do it; and if it please you not, let each until the hour of vespers
do what most liketh him." Ladies and men alike all approved the
story-telling, whereupon, "Then," said the queen, "since this pleaseth
you, I will that this first day each be free to tell of such matters
as are most to his liking." Then, turning to Pamfilo, who sat on her
right hand, she smilingly bade him give beginning to the story-telling
with one of his; and he, hearing the commandment, forthright began
thus, whilst all gave ear to him.

[Footnote 27: _i.e._ three o'clock p.m.]

[Footnote 28: _i.e._ backgammon.]


[Day the First]


"It is a seemly thing, dearest ladies, that whatsoever a man doth, he
give it beginning from the holy and admirable name of Him who is the
maker of all things. Wherefore, it behoving me, as the first, to give
commencement to our story-telling, I purpose to begin with one of His
marvels, to the end that, this being heard, our hope in Him, as in a
thing immutable, may be confirmed and His name be ever praised of us.
It is manifest that, like as things temporal are all transitory and
mortal, even so both within and without are they full of annoy and
anguish and travail and subject to infinite perils, against which it
is indubitable that we, who live enmingled therein and who are indeed
part and parcel thereof, might avail neither to endure nor to defend
ourselves, except God's especial grace lent us strength and foresight;
which latter, it is not to be believed, descendeth unto us and upon us
by any merit of our own, but of the proper motion of His own benignity
and the efficacy of the prayers of those who were mortals even as we
are and having diligently ensued His commandments, what while they
were on life, are now with Him become eternal and blessed and unto
whom we,--belike not daring to address ourselves unto the proper
presence of so august a judge,--proffer our petitions of the things
which we deem needful unto ourselves, as unto advocates[29] informed
by experience of our frailty. And this more we discern in Him, full as
He is of compassionate liberality towards us, that, whereas it
chanceth whiles (the keenness of mortal eyes availing not in any wise
to penetrate the secrets of the Divine intent), that we peradventure,
beguiled by report, make such an one our advocate unto His
majesty, who is outcast from His presence with an eternal
banishment,--nevertheless He, from whom nothing is hidden, having
regard rather to the purity of the suppliant's intent than to his
ignorance or to the reprobate estate of him whose intercession be
invoketh, giveth ear unto those who pray unto the latter, as if he
were in very deed blessed in His aspect. The which will manifestly
appear from the story which I purpose to relate; I say manifestly,
ensuing, not the judgment of God, but that of men.

[Footnote 29: Or procurators.]

It is told, then, that Musciatto Franzesi,[30] being from a very rich
and considerable merchant in France become a knight and it behoving
him thereupon go into Tuscany with Messire Charles Sansterre,[31]
brother to the king of France,[32] who had been required and bidden
thither by Pope Boniface,[33] found his affairs in one part and
another sore embroiled, (as those of merchants most times are,) and
was unable lightly or promptly to disentangle them; wherefore he
bethought himself to commit them unto divers persons and made shift
for all, save only he abode in doubt whom he might leave sufficient to
the recovery of the credits he had given to certain Burgundians. The
cause of his doubt was that he knew the Burgundians to be litigious,
quarrelsome fellows, ill-conditioned and disloyal, and could not call
one to mind, in whom he might put any trust, curst enough to cope with
their perversity. After long consideration of the matter, there came
to his memory a certain Master Ciapperello da Prato, who came often to
his house in Paris and whom, for that he was little of person and
mighty nice in his dress, the French, knowing not what Cepparello[34]
meant and thinking it be the same with Cappello, to wit, in their
vernacular, Chaplet, called him, not Cappello, but Ciappelletto,[35]
and accordingly as Ciappelletto he was known everywhere, whilst few
knew him for Master Ciapperello.

[Footnote 30: A Florentine merchant settled in France; he had great
influence over Philippe le Bel and made use of the royal favour to
enrich himself by means of monopolies granted at the expense of his

[Footnote 31: Charles, Comte de Valois et d'Alençon.]

[Footnote 32: Philippe le Bel, A.D. 1268-1314.]

[Footnote 33: The Eighth.]

[Footnote 34: Sic. _Cepparello_ means a log or stump. Ciapperello is
apparently a dialectic variant of the same word.]

[Footnote 35: Diminutive of Cappello. This passage is obscure and most
likely corrupt. Boccaccio probably meant to write "hat" instead of
"chaplet" (_ghirlanda_), as the meaning of _cappello_, chaplet
(diminutive of Old English _chapel_, a hat,) being the meaning of
_ciappelletto_ (properly _cappelletto_).]

Now this said Ciappelletto was of this manner life, that, being a
scrivener, he thought very great shame whenas any of his instrument
was found (and indeed he drew few such) other than false; whilst of
the latter[36] he would have drawn as many as might be required of him
and these with a better will by way of gift than any other for a great
wage. False witness he bore with especial delight, required or not
required, and the greatest regard being in those times paid to oaths
in France, as he recked nothing of forswearing himself, he knavishly
gained all the suits concerning which he was called upon to tell the
truth upon his faith. He took inordinate pleasure and was mighty
diligent in stirring up troubles and enmities and scandals between
friends and kinsfolk and whomsoever else, and the greater the
mischiefs he saw ensue thereof, the more he rejoiced. If bidden to
manslaughter or whatsoever other naughty deed, he went about it with a
will, without ever saying nay thereto; and many a time of his proper
choice he had been known to wound men and do them to death with his
own hand. He was a terrible blasphemer of God and the saints, and that
for every trifle, being the most choleric man alive. To church he went
never and all the sacraments thereof he flouted in abominable terms,
as things of no account; whilst, on the other hand, he was still fain
to haunt and use taverns and other lewd places. Of women he was as
fond as dogs of the stick; but in the contrary he delighted more than
any filthy fellow alive. He robbed and pillaged with as much
conscience as a godly man would make oblation to God; he was a very
glutton and a great wine bibber, insomuch that bytimes it wrought him
shameful mischief, and to boot, he was a notorious gamester and a
caster of cogged dice. But why should I enlarge in so many words? He
was belike the worst man that ever was born.[37] His wickedness had
long been upheld by the power and interest of Messer Musciatto, who
had many a time safeguarded him as well from private persons, to whom
he often did a mischief, as from the law, against which he was a
perpetual offender.

[Footnote 36: _i.e._ false instruments.]

[Footnote 37: A "twopence-coloured" sketch of an impossible villain,
drawn with a crudeness unusual in Boccaccio.]

This Master Ciappelletto then, coming to Musciatto's mind, the latter,
who was very well acquainted with his way of life, bethought himself
that he should be such an one as the perversity of the Burgundians
required and accordingly, sending for him, he bespoke him thus:
'Master Ciappelletto, I am, as thou knowest, about altogether to
withdraw hence, and having to do, amongst others, with certain
Burgundians, men full of guile, I know none whom I may leave to
recover my due from them more fitting than thyself, more by token that
thou dost nothing at this present; wherefore, an thou wilt undertake
this, I will e'en procure thee the favour of the Court and give thee
such part as shall be meet of that which thou shalt recover.'

Don Ciappelletto, who was then out of employ and ill provided with the
goods of the world, seeing him who had long been his stay and his
refuge about to depart thence, lost no time in deliberation, but, as
of necessity constrained, replied that he would well. They being come
to an accord, Musciatto departed and Ciappelletto, having gotten his
patron's procuration and letters commendatory from the king, betook
himself into Burgundy, where well nigh none knew him, and there,
contrary to his nature, began courteously and blandly to seek to get
in his payments and do that wherefor he was come thither, as if
reserving choler and violence for a last resort. Dealing thus and
lodging in the house of two Florentines, brothers, who there lent at
usance and who entertained him with great honour for the love of
Messer Musciatto, it chanced that he fell sick, whereupon the two
brothers promptly fetched physicians and servants to tend him and
furnished him with all that behoved unto the recovery of his health.
But every succour was in vain, for that, by the physicians' report,
the good man, who was now old and had lived disorderly, grew daily
worse, as one who had a mortal sickness; wherefore the two brothers
were sore concerned and one day, being pretty near the chamber where
he lay sick, they began to take counsel together, saying one to the
other, 'How shall we do with yonder fellow? We have a sorry bargain on
our hands of his affair, for that to send him forth of our house, thus
sick, were a sore reproach to us and a manifest sign of little wit on
our part, if the folk, who have seen us first receive him and after
let tend and medicine him with such solicitude, should now see him
suddenly put out of our house, sick unto death as he is, without it
being possible for him to have done aught that should displease us. On
the other hand, he hath been so wicked a man that he will never
consent to confess or take any sacrament of the church; and he dying
without confession, no church will receive his body; nay, he will be
cast into a ditch, like a dog. Again, even if he do confess, his sins
are so many and so horrible that the like will come of it, for that
there is nor priest nor friar who can or will absolve him thereof;
wherefore, being unshriven, he will still be cast into the ditches.
Should it happen thus, the people of the city, as well on account of
our trade, which appeareth to them most iniquitous and of which they
missay all day, as of their itch to plunder us, seeing this, will rise
up in riot and cry out, "These Lombard dogs, whom the church refuseth
to receive, are to be suffered here no longer";--and they will run to
our houses and despoil us not only of our good, but may be of our
lives, to boot; wherefore in any case it will go ill with us, if
yonder fellow die.'

Master Ciappelletto, who, as we have said, lay near the place where
the two brothers were in discourse, being quick of hearing, as is most
times the case with the sick, heard what they said of him and calling
them to him, bespoke them thus: 'I will not have you anywise misdoubt
of me nor fear to take any hurt by me. I have heard what you say of me
and am well assured that it would happen even as you say, should
matters pass as you expect; but it shall go otherwise. I have in my
lifetime done God the Lord so many an affront that it will make
neither more nor less, an I do Him yet another at the point of death;
wherefore do you make shift to bring me the holiest and worthiest
friar you may avail to have, if any such there be,[38] and leave the
rest to me, for that I will assuredly order your affairs and mine own
on such wise that all shall go well and you shall have good cause to
be satisfied.'

[Footnote 38: _i.e._ if there be such a thing as a holy and worthy

The two brothers, albeit they conceived no great hope of this,
nevertheless betook themselves to a brotherhood of monks and demanded
some holy and learned man to hear the confession of a Lombard who lay
sick in their house. There was given them a venerable brother of holy
and good life and a past master in Holy Writ, a very reverend man, for
whom all the townsfolk had a very great and special regard, and they
carried him to their house; where, coming to the chamber where Master
Ciappelletto lay and seating himself by his side, he began first
tenderly to comfort him and after asked him how long it was since he
had confessed last; whereto Master Ciappelletto, who had never
confessed in his life, answered, 'Father, it hath been my usance to
confess every week once at the least and often more; it is true that,
since I fell sick, to wit, these eight days past, I have not
confessed, such is the annoy that my sickness hath given me.' Quoth
the friar, 'My son, thou hast done well and so must thou do
henceforward. I see, since thou confessest so often, that I shall be
at little pains either of hearing or questioning.' 'Sir,' answered
Master Ciappelletto, 'say not so; I have never confessed so much nor
so often but I would still fain make a general confession of all my
sins that I could call to mind from the day of my birth to that of my
confession; wherefore I pray you, good my father, question me as
punctually of everything, nay, everything, as if I had never
confessed; and consider me not because I am sick, for that I had far
liefer displease this my flesh than, in consulting its ease, do aught
that might be the perdition of my soul, which my Saviour redeemed with
His precious blood.'

These words much pleased the holy man and seemed to him to argue a
well-disposed mind; wherefore, after he had much commended Master
Ciappelletto for that his usance, he asked him if he had ever sinned
by way of lust with any woman. 'Father,' replied Master Ciappelletto,
sighing, 'on this point I am ashamed to tell you the truth, fearing to
sin by way of vainglory.' Quoth the friar, 'Speak in all security, for
never did one sin by telling the truth, whether in confession or
otherwise.' 'Then,' said Master Ciappelletto, 'since you certify me of
this, I will tell you; I am yet a virgin, even as I came forth of my
mother's body.' 'O blessed be thou of God!' cried the monk. 'How well
hast thou done! And doing thus, thou hast the more deserved, inasmuch
as, an thou wouldst, thou hadst more leisure to do the contrary than
we and whatsoever others are limited by any rule.'

After this he asked him if he had ever offended against God in the sin
of gluttony; whereto Master Ciappelletto answered, sighing, Ay had he,
and that many a time; for that, albeit, over and above the Lenten
fasts that are yearly observed of the devout, he had been wont to fast
on bread and water three days at the least in every week,--he had
oftentimes (and especially whenas he had endured any fatigue, either
praying or going a-pilgrimage) drunken the water with as much appetite
and as keen a relish as great drinkers do wine. And many a time he had
longed to have such homely salads of potherbs as women make when they
go into the country; and whiles eating had given him more pleasure
than himseemed it should do to one who fasteth for devotion, as did
he. 'My son,' said the friar, 'these sins are natural and very slight
and I would not therefore have thee burden thy conscience withal more
than behoveth. It happeneth to every man, how devout soever he be,
that, after long fasting, meat seemeth good to him, and after travail,

'Alack, father mine,' rejoined Ciappelletto, 'tell me not this to
comfort me; you must know I know that things done for the service of
God should be done sincerely and with an ungrudging mind; and whoso
doth otherwise sinneth.' Quoth the friar, exceeding well pleased, 'I
am content that thou shouldst thus apprehend it and thy pure and good
conscience therein pleaseth me exceedingly. But, tell me, hast thou
sinned by way of avarice, desiring more than befitted or withholding
that which it behoved thee not to withhold?' 'Father mine,' replied
Ciappelletto, 'I would not have you look to my being in the house of
these usurers; I have nought to do here; nay, I came hither to
admonish and chasten them and turn them from this their abominable way
of gain; and methinketh I should have made shift to do so, had not God
thus visited me. But you must know that I was left a rich man by my
father, of whose good, when he was dead, I bestowed the most part in
alms, and after, to sustain my life and that I might be able to
succour Christ's poor, I have done my little traffickings, and in
these I have desired to gain; but still with God's poor have I shared
that which I gained, converting my own half to my occasion and giving
them the other, and in this so well hath my Creator prospered me that
my affairs have still gone from good to better.'

'Well hast thou done,' said the friar; 'but hast thou often been
angered?' 'Oh,' cried Master Ciappelletto, 'that I must tell you I
have very often been! And who could keep himself therefrom, seeing men
do unseemly things all day long, keeping not the commandments of God
neither fearing His judgment? Many times a day I had liefer been dead
than alive, seeing young men follow after vanities and hearing them
curse and forswear themselves, haunting the taverns, visiting not the
churches and ensuing rather the ways of the world than that of God.'
'My son,' said the friar, 'this is a righteous anger, nor for my part
might I enjoin thee any penance therefor. But hath anger at any time
availed to move thee to do any manslaughter or to bespeak any one
unseemly or do any other unright?' 'Alack, sir,' answered the sick
man, 'you, who seem to me a man of God, how can you say such words?
Had I ever had the least thought of doing any one of the things
whereof you speak, think you I believe that God would so long have
forborne me? These be the doings of outlaws and men of nought, whereof
I never saw any but I said still, "Go, may God amend thee!"'

Then said the friar, 'Now tell me, my son (blessed be thou of God),
hast thou never borne false witness against any or missaid of another,
or taken others' good, without leave of him to whom it pertained?'
'Ay, indeed, sir,' replied Master Ciappelletto; 'I have missaid of
others; for that I had a neighbour aforetime, who, with the greatest
unright in the world, did nought but beat his wife, insomuch that I
once spoke ill of him to her kinsfolk, so great was the compassion
that overcame me for the poor woman, whom he used as God alone can
tell, whenassoever he had drunken overmuch.' Quoth the friar, 'Thou
tellest me thou hast been a merchant. Hast thou never cheated any one,
as merchants do whiles!' 'I' faith, yes, sir,' answered Master
Ciappelletto; 'but I know not whom, except it were a certain man, who
once brought me monies which he owed me for cloth I had sold him and
which I threw into a chest, without counting. A good month after, I
found that they were four farthings more than they should have been;
wherefore, not seeing him again and having kept them by me a full
year, that I might restore them to him, I gave them away in alms.'
Quoth the friar, 'This was a small matter, and thou didst well to deal
with it as thou didst.'

Then he questioned him of many other things, of all which he answered
after the same fashion, and the holy father offering to proceed to
absolution, Master Ciappelletto said, 'Sir, I have yet sundry sins
that I have not told you.' The friar asked him what they were, and he
answered, 'I mind me that one Saturday, after none, I caused my
servant sweep out the house and had not that reverence for the Lord's
holy day which it behoved me have.' 'Oh,' said the friar, 'that is a
light matter, my son.' 'Nay,' rejoined Master Ciappelletto, 'call it
not a light matter, for that the Lord's Day is greatly to be honoured,
seeing that on such a day our Lord rose from the dead.' Then said the
friar, 'Well, hast thou done aught else?' 'Ay, sir,' answered Master
Ciappelletto; 'once, unthinking what I did, I spat in the church of
God.' Thereupon the friar fell a-smiling, and said, 'My son, that is
no thing to be recked of; we who are of the clergy, we spit there all
day long.' 'And you do very ill,' rejoined Master Ciappelletto; 'for
that there is nought which it so straitly behoveth to keep clean as
the holy temple wherein is rendered sacrifice to God.'

Brief, he told him great plenty of such like things and presently fell
a-sighing and after weeping sore, as he knew full well to do, whenas
he would. Quoth the holy friar, 'What aileth thee, my son?' 'Alas,
sir,' replied Master Ciappelletto, 'I have one sin left, whereof I
never yet confessed me, such shame have I to tell it; and every time I
call it to mind, I weep, even as you see, and meseemeth very certain
that God will never pardon it me.' 'Go to, son,' rejoined the friar;
'what is this thou sayest? If all the sins that were ever wrought or
are yet to be wrought of all mankind, what while the world endureth,
were all in one man and he repented him thereof and were contrite
therefor, as I see thee, such is the mercy and loving-kindness of God
that, upon confession, He would freely pardon them to him. Wherefore
do thou tell it in all assurance.' Quoth Master Ciappelletto, still
weeping sore, 'Alack, father mine, mine is too great a sin, and I can
scarce believe that it will ever be forgiven me of God, except your
prayers strive for me.' Then said the friar, 'Tell it me in all
assurance, for I promise thee to pray God for thee.'

Master Ciappelletto, however, still wept and said nought; but, after
he had thus held the friar a great while in suspense, he heaved a deep
sigh and said, 'Father mine, since you promise me to pray God for me,
I will e'en tell it you. Know, then, that, when I was little, I once
cursed my mother.' So saying, he fell again to weeping sore. 'O my
son,' quoth the friar, 'seemeth this to thee so heinous a sin? Why,
men blaspheme God all day long and He freely pardoneth whoso repenteth
him of having blasphemed Him; and deemest thou not He will pardon thee
this? Weep not, but comfort thyself; for, certes, wert thou one of
those who set Him on the cross, He would pardon thee, in favour of
such contrition as I see in thee.' 'Alack, father mine, what say you?'
replied Ciappelletto. 'My kind mother, who bore me nine months in her
body, day and night, and carried me on her neck an hundred times and
more, I did passing ill to curse her and it was an exceeding great
sin; and except you pray God for me, it will not be forgiven me.'

The friar, then, seeing that Master Ciappelletto had no more to say,
gave him absolution and bestowed on him his benison, holding him a
very holy man and devoutly believing all that he had told him to be
true. And who would not have believed it, hearing a man at the point
of death speak thus? Then, after all this, he said to him, 'Master
Ciappelletto, with God's help you will speedily be whole; but, should
it come to pass that God call your blessed and well-disposed soul to
Himself, would it please you that your body be buried in our convent?'
'Ay, would it, sir,' replied Master Ciappelletto. 'Nay, I would fain
no be buried otherwhere, since you have promised to pray God for me;
more by token that I have ever had a special regard for your order.
Wherefore I pray you that whenas you return to your lodging, you must
cause bring me that most veritable body of Christ, which you
consecrate a-mornings upon the altar, for that, with your leave, I
purpose (all unworthy as I am) to take it and after, holy and extreme
unction, to the intent that, if I have lived as a sinner, I may at the
least die like a Christian.' The good friar replied that it pleased
him much and that he said well and promised to see it presently
brought him; and so was it done.

Meanwhile, the two brothers, misdoubting them sore lest Master
Ciappelletto should play them false, had posted themselves behind a
wainscot, that divided the chamber where he lay from another, and
listening, easily heard and apprehended that which he said to the
friar and had whiles so great a mind to laugh, hearing the things
which he confessed to having done, that they were like to burst and
said, one to other, 'What manner of man is this, whom neither old age
nor sickness nor fear of death, whereunto he seeth himself near, nor
yet of God, before whose judgment-seat he looketh to be ere long, have
availed to turn from his wickedness nor hinder him from choosing to
die as he hath lived?' However, seeing that he had so spoken that he
should be admitted to burial in a church, they recked nought of the

Master Ciappelletto presently took the sacrament and, growing rapidly
worse, received extreme unction, and a little after evensong of the
day he had made his fine confession, he died; whereupon the two
brothers, having, of his proper monies, taken order for his honourable
burial, sent to the convent to acquaint the friars therewith, bidding
them come thither that night to hold vigil, according to usance, and
fetch away the body in the morning, and meanwhile made ready all that
was needful thereunto.

The holy friar, who had shriven him, hearing that he had departed this
life, betook himself to the prior of the convent and, letting ring to
chapter, gave out to the brethren therein assembled that Master
Ciappelletto had been a holy man, according to that which he had
gathered from his confession, and persuaded them to receive his body
with the utmost reverence and devotion, in the hope that God should
show forth many miracles through him. To this the prior and brethren
credulously consented and that same evening, coming all whereas Master
Ciappelletto lay dead, they held high and solemn vigil over him and on
the morrow, clad all in albs and copes, book in hand and crosses
before them, they went, chanting the while, for his body and brought
it with the utmost pomp and solemnity to their church, followed by
well nigh all the people of the city, men and women.

As soon as they had set the body down in the church, the holy friar,
who had confessed him, mounted the pulpit and fell a-preaching
marvellous things of the dead man and of his life, his fasts, his
virginity, his simplicity and innocence and sanctity, recounting,
amongst other things, that which he had confessed to him as his
greatest sin and how he had hardly availed to persuade him that God
would forgive it him; thence passing on to reprove the folk who
hearkened, 'And you, accursed that you are,' quoth he, 'for every waif
of straw that stirreth between your feet, you blaspheme God and the
Virgin and all the host of heaven.' Moreover, he told them many other
things of his loyalty and purity of heart; brief, with his speech,
whereto entire faith was yielded of the people of the city, he so
established the dead man in the reverent consideration of all who were
present that, no sooner was the service at an end, than they all with
the utmost eagerness flocked to kiss his hands and feet and the
clothes were torn off his back, he holding himself blessed who might
avail to have never so little thereof; and needs must they leave him
thus all that day, so he might be seen and visited of all.

The following night he was honourably buried in a marble tomb in one
of the chapels of the church and on the morrow the folk began
incontinent to come and burn candles and offer up prayers and make
vows to him and hang images of wax[39] at his shrine, according to the
promise made. Nay, on such wise waxed the frame of his sanctity and
men's devotion to him that there was scarce any who, being in
adversity, would vow himself to another saint than him; and they
styled and yet style him Saint Ciappelletto and avouch that God
through him hath wrought many miracles and yet worketh, them every day
for whoso devoutly commendeth himself unto him.

[Footnote 39: _i.e._ ex voto.]

Thus, then, lived and died Master Cepperello[40] da Prato and became a
saint, as you have heard; nor would I deny it to be possible that he
is beatified in God's presence, for that, albeit his life was wicked
and perverse, he may at his last extremity have shown such contrition
that peradventure God had mercy on him and received him into His
kingdom; but, for that this is hidden from us, I reason according to
that which, is apparent and say that he should rather be in the hands
of the devil in perdition than in Paradise. And if so it be, we may
know from this how great is God's loving-kindness towards us, which,
having regard not to our error, but to the purity of our faith, whenas
we thus make an enemy (deeming him a friend) of His our intermediary,
giveth ear unto us, even as if we had recourse unto one truly holy, as
intercessor for His favour. Wherefore, to the end that by His grace we
may be preserved safe and sound in this present adversity and in this
so joyous company, let us, magnifying His name, in which we have begun
our diversion, and holding Him in reverence, commend ourselves to Him
in our necessities, well assured of being heard." And with this he was

[Footnote 40: It will be noted that this is Boccaccio's third variant
of his hero's name (the others being Ciapperello and Cepparello) and
the edition of 1527 furnishes us with a fourth and a fifth form _i.e._
Ciepparello and Ciepperello.]


[Day the First]


Pamfilo's story was in part laughed at and altogether commended by the
ladies, and it being come to its end, after being diligently
hearkened, the queen bade Neifile, who sat next him, ensue the
ordinance of the commenced diversion by telling one[41] of her
fashion. Neifile, who was distinguished no less by courteous manners
than by beauty, answered blithely that she would well and began on
this wise: "Pamfilo hath shown us in his story that God's benignness
regardeth not our errors, when they proceed from that which is beyond
our ken; and I, in mine, purpose to show you how this same
benignness,--patiently suffering the defaults of those who, being
especially bounden both with words and deeds to bear true witness
thereof[42] yet practise the contrary,--exhibiteth unto us an
infallible proof of itself, to the intent that we may, with the more
constancy of mind, ensue that which we believe.

[Footnote 41: _i.e._ a story.]

[Footnote 42: _i.e._ of God's benignness.]

As I have heard tell, gracious ladies, there was once in Paris a great
merchant and a very loyal and upright man, whose name was Jehannot de
Chevigné and who was of great traffic in silks and stuffs. He had
particular friendship for a very rich Jew called Abraham, who was also
a merchant and a very honest and trusty man, and seeing the latter's
worth and loyalty, it began to irk him sore that the soul of so worthy
and discreet and good a man should go to perdition for default of
faith; wherefore he fell to beseeching him on friendly wise leave the
errors of the Jewish faith and turn to the Christian verity, which he
might see still wax and prosper, as being holy and good, whereas his
own faith, on the contrary, was manifestly on the wane and dwindling
to nought. The Jew made answer that he held no faith holy or good save
only the Jewish, that in this latter he was born and therein meant to
live and die, nor should aught ever make him remove therefrom.

Jehannot for all that desisted not from him, but some days after
returned to the attack with similar words, showing him, on rude enough
wise (for that merchants for the most part can no better), for what
reasons our religion is better than the Jewish; and albeit the Jew was
a past master in their law, nevertheless, whether it was the great
friendship he bore Jehannot that moved him or peradventure words
wrought it that the Holy Ghost put into the good simple man's mouth,
the latter's arguments began greatly to please him; but yet,
persisting in his own belief, he would not suffer himself to be
converted. Like as he abode obstinate, even so Jehannot never gave
over importuning him, till at last the Jew, overcome by such continual
insistence, said, 'Look you, Jehannot, thou wouldst have me become a
Christian and I am disposed to do it; insomuch, indeed, that I mean,
in the first place, to go to Rome and there see him who, thou sayest,
is God's Vicar upon earth and consider his manners and fashions and
likewise those of his chief brethren.[43] If these appear to me such
that I may, by them, as well as by your words, apprehend that your
faith is better than mine, even as thou hast studied to show me, I
will do as I have said; and if it be not so, I will remain a Jew as I

[Footnote 43: Lit. cardinal brethren (_fratelli cardinali_).]

When Jehannot heard this, he was beyond measure chagrined and said in
himself, 'I have lost my pains, which meseemed I had right well
bestowed, thinking to have converted this man; for that, an he go to
the court of Rome and see the lewd and wicked life of the clergy, not
only will he never become a Christian, but, were he already a
Christian, he would infallibly turn Jew again.' Then, turning to
Abraham, he said to him, 'Alack, my friend, why wilt thou undertake
this travail and so great a charge as it will be to thee to go from
here to Rome? More by token that, both by sea and by land, the road is
full of perils for a rich man such as thou art. Thinkest thou not to
find here who shall give thee baptism? Or, if peradventure thou have
any doubts concerning the faith which I have propounded to thee, where
are there greater doctors and men more learned in the matter than are
here or better able to resolve thee of that which thou wilt know or
ask? Wherefore, to my thinking, this thy going is superfluous. Bethink
thee that the prelates there are even such as those thou mayst have
seen here, and indeed so much the better as they are nearer unto the
Chief Pastor. Wherefore, an thou wilt be counselled by me, thou wilt
reserve this travail unto another time against some jubilee or other,
whereunto it may be I will bear thee company.' To this the Jew made
answer, 'I doubt not, Jehannot, but it is as thou tellest me; but, to
sum up many words in one, I am altogether determined, an thou wouldst
have me do that whereof thou hast so instantly besought me, to go
thither; else will I never do aught thereof.' Jehannot, seeing his
determination, said, 'Go and good luck go with thee!' And inwardly
assured that he would never become a Christian, when once he should
have seen the court of Rome, but availing[44] nothing in the matter,
he desisted.

[Footnote 44: Lit. losing (_perdendo_), but this is probably some
copyist's mistake for _podendo_, the old form of _potendo_, availing.]

The Jew mounted to horse and as quickliest he might betook himself to
the court of Rome, he was honourably entertained of his brethren, and
there abiding, without telling any the reason of his coming, he began
diligently to enquire into the manners and fashions of the Pope and
Cardinals and other prelates and of all the members of his court, and
what with that which he himself noted, being a mighty quick-witted
man, and that which he gathered from others, he found all, from the
highest to the lowest, most shamefully given to the sin of lust, and
that not only in the way of nature, but after the Sodomitical fashion,
without any restraint of remorse or shamefastness, insomuch that the
interest of courtezans and catamites was of no small avail there in
obtaining any considerable thing.

Moreover, he manifestly perceived them to be universally gluttons,
wine-bibbers, drunkards and slaves to their bellies, brute-beast
fashion, more than to aught else after lust. And looking farther, he
saw them all covetous and greedy after money, insomuch that human,
nay, Christian blood, no less than things sacred, whatsoever they
might be, whether pertaining to the sacrifices of the altar or to the
benefices of the church, they sold and bought indifferently for a
price, making a greater traffic and having more brokers thereof than
folk at Paris of silks and stuffs or what not else. Manifest simony
they had christened 'procuration' and gluttony 'sustentation,' as if
God apprehended not,--let be the meaning of words but,--the intention
of depraved minds and would suffer Himself, after the fashion of men,
to be duped by the names of things. All this, together with much else
which must be left unsaid, was supremely displeasing to the Jew, who
was a sober and modest man, and himseeming he had seen enough, he
determined to return to Paris and did so.

As soon as Jehannot knew of his return, he betook himself to him,
hoping nothing less than that he should become a Christian, and they
greeted each other with the utmost joy. Then, after Abraham had rested
some days, Jehannot asked him how himseemed of the Holy Father and of
the cardinals and others of his court. Whereto the Jew promptly
answered, 'Meseemeth, God give them ill one and all! And I say this
for that, if I was able to observe aright, no piety, no devoutness, no
good work or example of life or otherwhat did I see there in any who
was a churchman; nay, but lust, covetise, gluttony and the like and
worse (if worse can be) meseemed to be there in such favour with all
that I hold it for a forgingplace of things diabolical rather than
divine. And as far as I can judge, meseemeth your chief pastor and
consequently all the others endeavour with all diligence and all their
wit and every art to bring to nought and banish from the world the
Christian religion, whereas they should be its foundation and support.
And for that I see that this whereafter they strive cometh not to
pass, but that your religion continually increaseth and waxeth still
brighter and more glorious, meseemeth I manifestly discern that the
Holy Spirit is verily the foundation and support thereof, as of that
which is true and holy over any other. Wherefore, whereas, aforetime I
abode obdurate and insensible to thine exhortations and would not be
persuaded to embrace thy faith, I now tell thee frankly that for
nothing in the world would I forbear to become a Christian. Let us,
then, to church and there have me baptized, according to the rite and
ordinance of your holy faith.'

Jehannot, who looked for a directly contrary conclusion to this, was
the joyfullest man that might be, when he heard him speak thus, and
repairing with him to our Lady's Church of Paris, required the clergy
there to give Abraham baptism. They, hearing that the Jew himself
demanded it, straightway proceeded to baptize him, whilst Jehannot
raised him from the sacred font[45] and named him Giovanni. After
this, he had him thoroughly lessoned by men of great worth and
learning in the tenets of our holy faith, which he speedily
apprehended and thenceforward was a good man and a worthy and one of a
devout life."

[Footnote 45: _i.e._ stood sponsor for him.]


[Day the First]


Neifile having made an end of her story, which was commended of all,
Filomena, by the queen's good pleasure, proceeded to speak thus: "The
story told by Neifile bringeth to my mind a parlous case the once
betided a Jew; and for that, it having already been excellent well
spoken both of God and of the verity of our faith, it should not
henceforth be forbidden us to descend to the doings of mankind and the
events that have befallen them, I will now proceed to relate to you
the case aforesaid, which having heard, you will peradventure become
more wary in answering the questions that may be put to you. You must
know, lovesome[46] companions[47] mine, that, like as folly ofttimes
draweth folk forth of happy estate and casteth them into the utmost
misery, even so doth good sense extricate the wise man from the
greatest perils and place him in assurance and tranquillity. How true
it is that folly bringeth many an one from fair estate unto misery is
seen by multitude of examples, with the recounting whereof we have no
present concern, considering that a thousand instances thereof do
every day manifestly appear to us; but that good sense is a cause of
solacement I will, as I promised, briefly show you by a little story.

[Footnote 46: Lit. amorous (_amorose_), but Boccaccio frequently uses
_amoroso_, _vago_, and other adjectives, which are now understood in
an active or transitive sense only, in their ancient passive or
intransitive sense of lovesome, desirable, etc.]

[Footnote 47: _Compagne_, _i.e._ she-companions. Filomena is
addressing the female part of the company.]

Saladin,--whose valour was such that not only from a man of little
account it made him Soldan of Babylon, but gained him many victories
over kings Saracen and Christian,--having in divers wars and in the
exercise of his extraordinary munificences expended his whole treasure
and having an urgent occasion for a good sum of money nor seeing
whence he might avail to have it as promptly as it behoved him, called
to mind a rich Jew, by name Melchizedek, who lent at usance in
Alexandria, and bethought himself that this latter had the wherewithal
to oblige him, and he would; but he was so miserly that he would never
have done it of his freewill and Saladin was loath to use force with
him; wherefore, need constraining him, he set his every wit awork to
find a means how the Jew might be brought to serve him in this and
presently concluded to do him a violence coloured by some show of

Accordingly he sent for Melchizedek and receiving him familiarly,
seated him by himself, then said to him, 'Honest man, I have
understood from divers persons that thou art a very learned man and
deeply versed in matters of divinity; wherefore I would fain know of
thee whether of the three Laws thou reputest the true, the Jewish, the
Saracen or the Christian.' The Jew, who was in truth a man of learning
and understanding, perceived but too well that Saladin looked to
entrap him in words, so he might fasten a quarrel on him, and
bethought himself that he could not praise any of the three more than
the others without giving him the occasion he sought. Accordingly,
sharpening his wits, as became one who felt himself in need of an
answer by which he might not be taken at a vantage, there speedily
occurred to him that which it behoved him reply and he said, 'My lord,
the question that you propound to me is a nice one and to acquaint you
with that which I think of the matter, it behoveth me tell you a
little story, which you shall hear.

An I mistake not, I mind me to have many a time heard tell that there
was once a great man and a rich, who among other very precious jewels
in his treasury, had a very goodly and costly ring, whereunto being
minded, for its worth and beauty, to do honour and wishing to leave it
in perpetuity to his descendants, he declared that whichsoever of his
sons should, at his death, be found in possession thereof, by his
bequest unto him, should be recognized as his heir and be held of all
the others in honour and reverence as chief and head. He to whom the
ring was left by him held a like course with his own descendants and
did even as his father had done. In brief the ring passed from hand to
hand, through many generations, and came at last into the possession
of a man who had three goodly and virtuous sons, all very obedient to
their father wherefore he loved them all three alike. The young men,
knowing the usance of the ring, each for himself, desiring to be the
most honoured among his folk, as best he might, besought his father,
who was now an old man, to leave him the ring, whenas he came to die.
The worthy man, who loved them all alike and knew not himself how to
choose to which he had liefer leave the ring, bethought himself,
having promised it to each, to seek to satisfy all three and privily
let make by a good craftsman other two rings, which were so like unto
the first that he himself scarce knew which was the true. When he came
to die, he secretly gave each one of his sons his ring, wherefore each
of them, seeking after their father's death, to occupy the inheritance
and the honour and denying it to the others, produced his ring, in
witness of his right, and the three rings being found so like unto one
another that the true might not be known, the question which was the
father's very heir abode pending and yet pendeth. And so say I to you,
my lord, of the three Laws to the three peoples given of God the
Father, whereof you question me; each people deemeth itself to have
his inheritance, His true Law and His commandments; but of which in
very deed hath them, even as of the rings, the question yet pendeth.'

Saladin perceived that the Jew had excellently well contrived to
escape the snare which he had spread before his feet; wherefore he
concluded to discover to him his need and see if he were willing to
serve him; and so accordingly he did, confessing to him that which he
had it in mind to do, had he not answered him on such discreet wise.
The Jew freely furnished him with all that he required, and the Soldan
after satisfied him in full; moreover, he gave him very great gifts
and still had him to friend and maintained him about his own person in
high and honourable estate."


[Day the First]


Filomena, having despatched her story, was now silent, whereupon
Dioneo, who sat next her, knowing already, by the ordinance begun,
that it fell to his turn to tell, proceeded, without awaiting farther
commandment from the queen, to speak on this wise: "Lovesome ladies,
if I have rightly apprehended the intention of you all, we are here to
divert ourselves with story-telling; wherefore, so but it be not done
contrary to this our purpose, I hold it lawful unto each (even as our
queen told us a while agone) to tell such story as he deemeth may
afford most entertainment. Accordingly having heard how, by the good
counsels of Jehannot de Chevigné, Abraham had his soul saved and how
Melchizedek, by his good sense, defended his riches from Saladin's
ambushes, I purpose, without looking for reprehension from you,
briefly to relate with what address a monk delivered his body from a
very grievous punishment.

There was in Lunigiana, a country not very far hence, a monastery
whilere more abounding in sanctity and monks than it is nowadays, and
therein, among others, was a young monk, whose vigour and lustiness
neither fasts nor vigils availed to mortify. It chanced one day,
towards noontide, when all the other monks slept, that, as he went all
alone round about the convent,[48] which stood in a very solitary
place, he espied a very well-favoured lass, belike some husbandman's
daughter of the country, who went about the fields culling certain
herbs, and no sooner had he set eyes on her than he was violently
assailed by carnal appetite. Wherefore, accosting her, he entered into
parley with her and so led on from one thing to another that he came
to an accord with her and brought her to his cell, unperceived of
any; but whilst, carried away by overmuch ardour, he disported himself
with her less cautiously than was prudent, it chanced that the abbot
arose from sleep and softly passing by the monk's cell, heard the
racket that the twain made together; whereupon he came stealthily up
to the door to listen, that he might the better recognize the voices,
and manifestly perceiving that there was a woman in the cell, was at
first minded to cause open to him, but after bethought himself to hold
another course in the matter and, returning to his chamber, awaited
the monk's coming forth.

[Footnote 48: Lit. his church (_sua chiesa_); but the context seems to
indicate that the monastery itself is meant.]

The latter, all taken up as he was with the wench and his exceeding
pleasure and delight in her company, was none the less on his guard
and himseeming he heard some scuffling of feet in the dormitory, he
set his eye to a crevice and plainly saw the abbot stand hearkening
unto him; whereby he understood but too well that the latter must have
gotten wind of the wench's presence in his cell and knowing that sore
punishment would ensue to him thereof, he was beyond measure
chagrined. However, without discovering aught of his concern to the
girl, he hastily revolved many things in himself, seeking to find some
means of escape, and presently hit upon a rare device, which went
straight to the mark he aimed at. Accordingly, making a show of
thinking he had abidden long enough with the damsel, he said to her,
'I must go cast about for a means how thou mayest win forth hence,
without being seen; wherefore do thou abide quietly until my return.'

Then, going forth and locking the cell door on her, he betook himself
straight to the abbot's chamber and presenting him with the key,
according as each monk did, whenas he went abroad, said to him, with a
good countenance, 'Sir, I was unable to make an end this morning of
bringing off all the faggots I had cut; wherefore with your leave I
will presently go to the wood and fetch them away.' The abbot, deeming
the monk unaware that he had been seen of him, was glad of such an
opportunity to inform himself more fully of the offence committed by
him and accordingly took the key and gave him the leave he sought.
Then, as soon as he saw him gone, he fell to considering which he
should rather do, whether open his cell in the presence of all the
other monks and cause them to see his default, so they might after
have no occasion to murmur against himself, whenas he should punish
the offender, or seek first to learn from the girl herself how the
thing had passed; and bethinking himself that she might perchance be
the wife or daughter of such a man that he would be loath to have done
her the shame of showing her to all the monks, he determined first to
see her and after come to a conclusion; wherefore, betaking himself to
the cell, he opened it and, entering, shut the door after him.

The girl, seeing the abbot enter, was all aghast and fell a-weeping
for fear of shame; but my lord abbot, casting his eyes upon her and
seeing her young and handsome, old as he was, suddenly felt the pricks
of the flesh no less importunate than his young monk had done and fell
a-saying in himself, 'Marry, why should I not take somewhat of
pleasure, whenas I may, more by token that displeasance and annoy are
still at hand, whenever I have a mind to them? This is a handsome
wench and is here unknown of any in the world. If I can bring her to
do my pleasure, I know not why I should not do it. Who will know it?
No one will ever know it and a sin that's hidden is half forgiven.
Maybe this chance will never occur again. I hold it great sense to
avail ourselves of a good, whenas God the Lord sendeth us thereof.'

So saying and having altogether changed purpose from that wherewith he
came, he drew near to the girl and began gently to comfort her,
praying her not to weep, and passing from one word to another, he
ended by discovering to her his desire. The girl, who was neither iron
nor adamant, readily enough lent herself to the pleasure of the abbot,
who, after he had clipped and kissed her again and again, mounted upon
the monk's pallet and having belike regard to the grave burden of his
dignity and the girl's tender age and fearful of irking her for
overmuch heaviness, bestrode not her breast, but set her upon his own
and so a great while disported himself with her.

Meanwhile, the monk, who had only made believe to go to the wood and
had hidden himself in the dormitory, was altogether reassured, whenas
he saw the abbot enter his cell alone, doubting not but his device
should have effect, and when he saw him lock the door from within, he
held it for certain. Accordingly, coming forth of his hiding-place, he
stealthily betook himself to a crevice, through which he both heard
and saw all that the abbot did and said. When it seemed to the latter
that he had tarried long enough with the damsel, he locked her in the
cell and returned to his own chamber, whence, after awhile, he heard
the monk stirring and deeming him returned from the wood, thought to
rebuke him severely and cast him into prison, so himself might alone
possess the prey he had gotten; wherefore, sending for him, he very
grievously rebuked him and with a stern countenance and commanded that
he should be put in prison.

The monk very readily answered, 'Sir, I have not yet pertained long
enough to the order of St. Benedict to have been able to learn every
particular thereof, and you had not yet shown me that monks should
make of women a means of mortification,[49] as of fasts and vigils;
but, now that you have shown it me, I promise you, so you will pardon
me this default, never again to offend therein, but still to do as I
have seen you do.' The abbot, who was a quick-witted man, readily
understood that the monk not only knew more than himself, but had seen
what he did; wherefore, his conscience pricking him for his own
default, he was ashamed to inflict on the monk a punishment which he
himself had merited even as he. Accordingly, pardoning him and
charging him keep silence of that which he had seen, they privily put
the girl out of doors and it is believed that they caused her return
thither more than once thereafterward."

[Footnote 49: Lit. a pressure or oppression (_priemere_, hod.
_premere_, to press or oppress, indicative used as a noun). The monk
of course refers to the posture in which he had seen the abbot have to
do with the girl, pretending to believe that he placed her on his own
breast (instead of mounting on hers) out of a sentiment of humility
and a desire to mortify his flesh _ipsâ in voluptate_.]


[Day the First]


The story told by Dioneo at first pricked the hearts of the listening
ladies with somewhat of shamefastness, whereof a modest redness
appearing in their faces gave token; but after, looking one at other
and being scarce able to keep their countenance, they listened,
laughing in their sleeves. The end thereof being come, after they had
gently chidden him, giving him to understand that such tales were not
fit to be told among ladies, the queen, turning to Fiammetta, who sat
next him on the grass, bade her follow on the ordinance. Accordingly,
she began with a good grace and a cheerful countenance, "It hath
occurred to my mind, fair my ladies,--at once because it pleaseth me
that we have entered upon showing by stories how great is the efficacy
of prompt and goodly answers and because, like as in men it is great
good sense to seek still to love a lady of higher lineage than
themselves,[50] so in women it is great discretion to know how to keep
themselves from being taken with the love of men of greater condition
than they,--to set forth to you, in the story which it falleth to me
to tell, how both with deeds and words a noble lady guarded herself
against this and diverted another therefrom.

[Footnote 50: An evident allusion to Boccaccio's passion for the
Princess Maria, _i.e._ Fiammetta herself.]

The Marquis of Monferrato, a man of high worth and gonfalonier[51] of
the church, had passed beyond seas on the occasion of a general
crusade undertaken by the Christians, arms in hand, and it being one
day discoursed of his merit at the court of King Phillippe le
Borgne,[52] who was then making ready to depart France upon the same
crusade, it was avouched by a gentleman present that there was not
under the stars a couple to match with the marquis and his lady, for
that, even as he was renowned among knights for every virtue, so was
she the fairest and noblest of all the ladies in the world. These
words took such hold upon the mind of the King of France that, without
having seen the marchioness, he fell of a sudden ardently in love with
her and determined to take ship for the crusade, on which he was to
go, no otherwhere than at Genoa, in order that, journeying thither by
land, he might have an honourable occasion of visiting the
marchioness, doubting not but that, the marquis being absent, he might
avail to give effect to his desire.

[Footnote 51: Or standard-bearer.]

[Footnote 52: _i.e._ the One-eyed (syn. le myope, the short-sighted,
the Italian word [_Il Bornio_] having both meanings), _i.e._ Philip
II. of France, better known as Philip Augustus.]

As he had bethought himself, so he put his thought into execution;
for, having sent forward all his power, he set out, attended only by
some few gentlemen, and coming within a day's journey of the
marquis's domains, despatched a vauntcourier to bid the lady expect
him the following morning to dinner. The marchioness, who was well
advised and discreet, replied blithely that in this he did her the
greatest of favours and that he would be welcome and after bethought
herself what this might mean that such a king should come to visit her
in her husband's absence, nor was she deceived in the conclusion to
which she came, to wit, that the report of her beauty drew him
thither. Nevertheless, like a brave lady as she was, she determined to
receive him with honour and summoning to her counsels sundry gentlemen
of those who remained there, with their help, she let provide for
everything needful. The ordinance of the repast and of the viands she
reserved to herself alone and having forthright caused collect as many
hens as were in the country, she bade her cooks dress various dishes
of these alone for the royal table.

The king came at the appointed time and was received by the lady with
great honour and rejoicing. When he beheld her, she seemed to him fair
and noble and well-bred beyond that which he had conceived from the
courtier's words, whereat he marvelled exceedingly and commended her
amain, waxing so much the hotter in his desire as he found the lady
overpassing his foregone conceit of her. After he had taken somewhat
of rest in chambers adorned to the utmost with all that pertaineth to
the entertainment of such a king, the dinner hour being come, the king
and the marchioness seated themselves at one table, whilst the rest,
according to their quality, were honourably entertained at others. The
king, being served with many dishes in succession, as well as with
wines of the best and costliest, and to boot gazing with delight the
while upon the lovely marchioness, was mightily pleased with his
entertainment; but, after awhile, as the viands followed one upon
another, he began somewhat to marvel, perceiving that, for all the
diversity of the dishes, they were nevertheless of nought other than
hens, and this although he knew the part where he was to be such as
should abound in game of various kinds and although he had, by
advising the lady in advance of his coming, given her time to send
a-hunting. However, much as he might marvel at this, he chose not to
take occasion of engaging her in parley thereof, otherwise than in the
matter of her hens, and accordingly, turning to her with a merry air,
'Madam,' quoth he, 'are hens only born in these parts, without ever a
cock?' The marchioness, who understood the king's question excellent
well, herseeming God had vouchsafed her, according to her wish, an
opportune occasion of discovering her mind, turned to him and answered
boldly, 'Nay, my lord; but women, albeit in apparel and dignities they
may differ somewhat from others, are natheless all of the same fashion
here as elsewhere.'

The King, hearing this, right well apprehended the meaning of the
banquet of hens and the virtue hidden in her speech and perceived that
words would be wasted upon such a lady and that violence was out of
the question; wherefore, even as he had ill-advisedly taken fire for
her, so now it behoved him sagely, for his own honour's sake, stifle
his ill-conceived passion. Accordingly, without making any more words
with her, for fear of her replies, he dined, out of all hope; and the
meal ended, thanking her for the honourable entertainment he had
received from her and commending her to God, he set out for Genoa, so
by his prompt departure he might make amends for his unseemly visit."


[Day the First]


Emilia, who sat next after Fiammetta,--the courage of the marchioness
and the quaint rebuke administered by her to the King of France having
been commended of all the ladies,--began, by the queen's pleasure,
boldly to speak as follows: "I also, I will not keep silence of a
biting reproof given by an honest layman to a covetous monk with a
speech no less laughable than commendable.

There was, then, dear lasses, no great while agone, in our city, a
Minor friar and inquisitor of heretical pravity, who, for all he
studied hard to appear a devout and tender lover of the Christian
religion, as do they all, was no less diligent in enquiring of who had
a well-filled purse than of whom he might find wanting in the things
of the Faith. Thanks to this his diligence, he lit by chance upon a
good simple man, richer, by far in coin than in wit, who, of no lack
of religion, but speaking thoughtlessly and belike overheated with
wine or excess of mirth, chanced one day to say to a company of his
friends that he had a wine so good that Christ himself might drink
thereof. This being reported to the inquisitor and he understanding
that the man's means were large and his purse well filled, ran in a
violent hurry _cum gladiis et fustibus_[53] to clap up a right
grievous suit against him, looking not for an amendment of misbelief
in the defendant, but for the filling of his own hand with florins to
ensue thereof (as indeed it did,) and causing him to be cited, asked
him if that which had been alleged against him were true.

[Footnote 53: _i.e._ with sword and whips, a technical term of
ecclesiastical procedure, about equivalent to our "with the strong arm
of the law."]

The good man replied that it was and told him how it chanced;
whereupon quoth the most holy inquisitor, who was a devotee of St.
John Goldenbeard,[54] 'Then hast thou made Christ a wine-bibber and
curious in wines of choice, as if he were Cinciglione[55] or what not
other of your drunken sots and tavern-haunters; and now thou speakest
lowly and wouldst feign this to be a very light matter! It is not as
thou deemest; thou hast merited the fire therefor, an we were minded
to deal with thee as we ought.' With these and many other words he
bespoke him, with as menacing a countenance as if the poor wretch had
been Epicurus denying the immortality of the soul, and in brief so
terrified him that the good simple soul, by means of certain
intermediaries, let grease his palm with a good dose of St. John
Goldenmouth's ointment[56] (the which is a sovereign remedy for the
pestilential covetise of the clergy and especially of the Minor
Brethren, who dare not touch money), so he should deal mercifully with

[Footnote 54: _i.e._ a lover of money.]

[Footnote 55: A notorious drinker of the time.]

[Footnote 56: _i.e._ money.]

This unguent, being of great virtue (albeit Galen speaketh not thereof
in any part of his Medicines), wrought to such purpose that the fire
denounced against him was by favour commuted into [the wearing, by way
of penance, of] a cross, and to make the finer banner, as he were to
go a crusading beyond seas, the inquisitor imposed it him yellow upon
black. Moreover, whenas he had gotten the money, he detained him about
himself some days, enjoining him, by way of penance, hear a mass every
morning at Santa Croce and present himself before him at dinner-time,
and after that he might do what most pleased him the rest of the day;
all which he diligently performed.

One morning, amongst others, it chanced that at the Mass he heard a
Gospel, wherein these words were chanted, 'For every one ye shall
receive an hundred and shall possess eternal life.'[57] This he laid
fast up in his memory and according to the commandment given him,
presented him at the eating hour before the inquisitor, whom he found
at dinner. The friar asked him if he had heard mass that morning,
whereto he promptly answered, 'Ay have I, sir.' Quoth the inquisitor,
'Heardest thou aught therein whereof thou doubtest or would question?'
'Certes,' replied the good man, 'I doubt not of aught that I heard,
but do firmly believe all to be true. I did indeed hear something
which caused and yet causeth me have the greatest compassion of you
and your brother friars, bethinking me of the ill case wherein you
will find yourselves over yonder in the next life.' 'And what was it
that moved thee to such compassion of us?' asked the inquisitor.
'Sir,' answered the other, 'it was that verse of the Evangel, which
saith, "For every one ye shall receive an hundred." 'That is true,'
rejoined the inquisitor; 'but why did these words move thee thus?'
'Sir,' replied the good man, 'I will tell you. Since I have been used
to resort hither, I have seen give out every day to a multitude of
poor folk now one and now two vast great cauldrons of broth, which had
been taken away from before yourself and the other brethren of this
convent, as superfluous; wherefore, if for each one of these cauldrons
of broth there be rendered you an hundred in the world to come, you
will have so much thereof that you will assuredly all be drowned

[Footnote 57: "And every one that hath forsaken houses or brethren or
sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my name's
sake shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting
life."--Matthew xix. 29. Boccaccio has garbled the passage for the
sake of his point.]

All who were at the inquisitor's table fell a-laughing; but the
latter, feeling the hit at the broth-swilling[58] hypocrisy of himself
and his brethren, was mightily incensed, and but that he had gotten
blame for that which he had already done, he would have saddled him
with another prosecution, for that with a laughable speech he had
rebuked him and his brother good-for-noughts; wherefore, of his
despite, he bade him thenceforward do what most pleased him and not
come before him again."

[Footnote 58: Syn. gluttonous (_brodajuola_).]


[Day the First]


Emilia's pleasantness and her story moved the queen and all the rest
to laugh and applaud the rare conceit of this new-fangled crusader.
Then, after the laughter had subsided and all were silent again,
Filostrato, whose turn it was to tell, began to speak on this wise:
"It is a fine thing, noble ladies, to hit a mark that never stirreth;
but it is well-nigh miraculous if, when some unwonted thing appeareth
of a sudden, it be forthright stricken of an archer. The lewd and
filthy life of the clergy, in many things as it were a constant mark
for malice, giveth without much difficulty occasion to all who have a
mind to speak of, to gird at and rebuke it; wherefore, albeit the
worthy man, who pierced the inquisitor to the quick touching the
hypocritical charity of the friars, who give to the poor that which it
should behove them cast to the swine or throw away, did well, I hold
him much more to be commended of whom, the foregoing tale moving me
thereto, I am to speak and who with a quaint story rebuked Messer Cane
della Scala, a magnificent nobleman, of a sudden and unaccustomed
niggardliness newly appeared in him, figuring, in the person of
another, that which he purposed to say to him concerning themselves;
the which was on this wise.

As very manifest renown proclaimeth well nigh throughout the whole
world, Messer Cane della Scala, to whom in many things fortune was
favourable, was one of the most notable and most magnificent gentlemen
that have been known in Italy since the days of the Emperor Frederick
the Second. Being minded to make a notable and wonder-goodly
entertainment in Verona, whereunto many folk should have come from
divers parts and especially men of art[59] of all kinds, he of a
sudden (whatever might have been the cause) withdrew therefrom and
having in a measure requited those who were come thither, dismissed
them all, save only one, Bergamino by name, a man ready of speech and
accomplished beyond the credence of whoso had not heard him, who,
having received neither largesse nor dismissal, abode behind, in the
hope that his stay might prove to his future advantage. But Messer
Cane had taken it into his mind that what thing soever he might give
him were far worse bestowed than if it had been thrown into the fire,
nor of this did he bespeak him or let tell him aught.

[Footnote 59: _i.e._ gleemen, minstrels, story-tellers, jugglers and
the like, lit. men of court (_uomini di corte_).]

Bergamino, after some days, finding himself neither called upon nor
required unto aught that pertained to his craft and wasting his
substance, to boot, in the hostelry with his horses and his servants,
began to be sore concerned, but waited yet, himseeming he would not do
well to depart. Now he had brought with him three goodly and rich
suits of apparel, which had been given him of other noblemen, that he
might make a brave appearance at the festival, and his host pressing
for payment, he gave one thereof to him. After this, tarrying yet
longer, it behoved him give the host the second suit, an he would
abide longer with him, and withal he began to live upon the third,
resolved to abide in expectation so long as this should last and then
depart. Whilst he thus fed upon the third suit, he chanced one day,
Messer Cane being at dinner, to present himself before him with a
rueful countenance, and Messer Cane, seeing this, more by way of
rallying him than of intent to divert himself with any of his speech,
said to him, 'What aileth thee, Bergamino, to stand thus disconsolate?
Tell us somewhat.'[60] Whereupon Bergamino, without a moment's
hesitation, forthright, as if he had long considered it, related the
following story to the purpose of his own affairs.

[Footnote 60: _Dinne alcuna cosa._ If we take the affix _ne_ (thereof,
of it), in its other meaning (as dative of _noi_, we), of "to us,"
this phrase will read "Tell somewhat thereof," _i.e._ of the cause of
thy melancholy.]

'My lord,' said he, 'you must know that Primasso was a very learned
grammarian[61] and a skilful and ready verse-maker above all others,
which things rendered him so notable and so famous that, albeit he
might not everywhere be known by sight, there was well nigh none who
knew him not by name and by report. It chanced that, finding himself
once at Paris in poor case, as indeed he abode most times, for that
worth is[62] little prized of those who can most,[63] he heard speak
of the Abbot of Cluny, who is believed to be, barring the Pope, the
richest prelate of his revenues that the Church of God possesseth, and
of him he heard tell marvellous and magnificent things, in that he
still held open house nor were meat and drink ever denied to any who
went whereas he might be, so but he sought it what time the Abbot was
at meat. Primasso, hearing this and being one who delighted in looking
upon men of worth and nobility, determined to go see the magnificence
of this Abbot and enquired how near he then abode to Paris. It was
answered him that he was then at a place of his maybe half a dozen
miles thence; wherefore Primasso thought to be there at dinner-time,
by starting in the morning betimes.

[Footnote 61: _i.e._ Latinist.]

[Footnote 62: Lit. was (_era_); but as Boccaccio puts "can"
(_possono_) in the present tense we must either read _è_ and _possono_
or _era_ and _potevano_. The first reading seems the more probable.]

[Footnote 63: _i.e._ have most power or means of requiting it.]

Accordingly, he enquired the way, but, finding none bound thither, he
feared lest he might go astray by mischance and happen on a part where
there might be no victual so readily to be found; wherefore, in order
that, if this should betide, he might not suffer for lack of food, he
bethought himself to carry with him three cakes of bread, judging that
water (albeit it was little to his taste) he should find everywhere.
The bread he put in his bosom and setting out, was fortunate enough to
reach the Abbot's residence before the eating-hour. He entered and
went spying all about and seeing the great multitude of tables set and
the mighty preparations making in the kitchen and what not else
provided against dinner, said in himself, "Of a truth this Abbot is as
magnificent as folk say." After he had abidden awhile intent upon
these things, the Abbot's seneschal, eating-time being come, bade
bring water for the hands; which being done, he seated each man at
table, and it chanced that Primasso was set right over against the
door of the chamber, whence the Abbot should come forth into the

Now it was the usance in that house that neither wine nor bread nor
aught else of meat or drink should ever be set on the tables, except
the Abbot were first came to sit at his own table. Accordingly, the
seneschal, having set the tables, let tell the Abbot that, whenas it
pleased him, the meat was ready. The Abbot let open the chamber-door,
that he might pass into the saloon, and looking before him as he came,
as chance would have it, the first who met his eyes was Primasso, who
was very ill accoutred and whom he knew not by sight. When he saw him,
incontinent there came into his mind an ill thought and one that had
never yet been there, and he said in himself, "See to whom I give my
substance to eat!" Then, turning back, he bade shut the chamber-door
and enquired of those who were about him if any knew yonder losel who
sat at table over against his chamber-door; but all answered no.

Meanwhile Primasso, who had a mind to eat, having come a journey and
being unused to fast, waited awhile and seeing that the Abbot came
not, pulled out of his bosom one of the three cakes of bread he had
brought with him and fell to eating. The Abbot, after he had waited
awhile, bade one of his serving-men look if Primasso were gone, and
the man answered, "No, my lord; nay, he eateth bread, which it seemeth
he hath brought with him." Quoth the Abbot, "Well, let him eat of his
own, an he have thereof; for of ours he shall not eat to-day." Now he
would fain have had Primasso depart of his own motion, himseeming it
were not well done to turn him away; but the latter, having eaten one
cake of bread and the Abbot coming not, began upon the second; the
which was likewise reported to the Abbot, who had caused look if he
were gone.

At last, the Abbot still tarrying, Primasso, having eaten the second
cake, began upon the third, and this again was reported to the Abbot,
who fell a-pondering in himself and saying, "Alack, what new maggot is
this that is come into my head to-day? What avarice! What despite! And
for whom? This many a year have I given my substance to eat to
whosoever had a mind thereto, without regarding if he were gentle or
simple, poor or rich, merchant or huckster, and have seen it with mine
own eyes squandered by a multitude of ribald knaves; nor ever yet came
there to my mind the thought that hath entered into me for yonder man.
Of a surety avarice cannot have assailed me for a man of little
account; needs must this who seemeth to me a losel be some great
matter, since my soul hath thus repugned to do him honour."

So saying, he desired to know who he was and finding that it was
Primasso, whom he had long known by report for a man of merit, come
thither to see with his own eyes that which he had heard of his
magnificence, was ashamed and eager to make him amends, studied in
many ways to do him honour. Moreover, after eating, he caused clothe
him sumptuously, as befitted his quality, and giving him money and a
palfrey, left it to his own choice to go or stay; whereupon Primasso,
well pleased with his entertainment, rendered him the best thanks in
his power and returned on horseback to Paris, whence he had set out

Messer Cane, who was a gentleman of understanding, right well
apprehended Bergamino's meaning, without further exposition, and said
to him, smiling, 'Bergamino, thou hast very aptly set forth to me thy
wrongs and merit and my niggardliness, as well as that which thou
wouldst have of me; and in good sooth, never, save now on thine
account, have I been assailed of parsimony; but I will drive it away
with that same stick which thou thyself hast shown me.' Then, letting
pay Bergamino's host and clothing himself most sumptuously in a suit
of his own apparel, he gave him money and a palfrey and committed to
his choice for the nonce to go or stay."


[Day the First]


Next Filostrato sat Lauretta, who, after she had heard Bergamino's
address commended, perceiving that it behoved her tell somewhat,
began, without awaiting any commandment, blithely to speak thus: "The
foregoing story, dear companions,[64] bringeth me in mind to tell how
an honest minstrel on like wise and not without fruit rebuked the
covetise of a very rich merchant, the which, albeit in effect it
resembleth the last story, should not therefore be less agreeable to
you, considering that good came thereof in the end.

[Footnote 64: Fem.]

There was, then, in Genoa, a good while agone, a gentleman called
Messer Ermino de' Grimaldi, who (according to general belief) far
overpassed in wealth of lands and monies the riches of whatsoever
other richest citizen was then known in Italy; and like as he excelled
all other Italians in wealth, even so in avarice and sordidness he
outwent beyond compare every other miser and curmudgeon in the world;
for not only did he keep a strait purse in the matter of hospitality,
but, contrary to the general usance of the Genoese, who are wont to
dress sumptuously, he suffered the greatest privations in things
necessary to his own person, no less than in meat and in drink, rather
than be at any expense; by reason whereof the surname de' Grimaldi had
fallen away from him and he was deservedly called of all only Messer
Ermino Avarizia.

It chanced that, whilst, by dint of spending not, he multiplied his
wealth, there came to Genoa a worthy minstrel,[65] both well-bred and
well-spoken, by name Guglielmo Borsiere, a man no whit like those[66]
of the present day, who (to the no small reproach of the corrupt and
blameworthy usances of those[67] who nowadays would fain be called and
reputed gentlefolk and seigniors) are rather to be styled asses,
reared in all the beastliness and depravity of the basest of mankind,
than [minstrels, bred] in the courts [of kings and princes]. In those
times it used to be a minstrel's office and his wont to expend his
pains in negotiating treaties of peace, where feuds or despites had
befallen between noblemen, or transacting marriages, alliances and
friendships, in solacing the minds of the weary and diverting courts
with quaint and pleasant sayings, ay, and with sharp reproofs,
father-like, rebuking the misdeeds of the froward,--and this for
slight enough reward; but nowadays they study to spend their time in
hawking evil reports from one to another, in sowing discord, in
speaking naughtiness and obscenity and (what is worse) doing them in
all men's presence, in imputing evil doings, lewdnesses and knaveries,
true or false, one to other, and in prompting men of condition with
treacherous allurements to base and shameful actions; and he is most
cherished and honoured and most munificently entertained and rewarded
of the sorry unmannerly noblemen of our time who saith and doth the
most abominable words and deeds; a sore and shameful reproach to the
present age and a very manifest proof that the virtues have departed
this lower world and left us wretched mortals to wallow in the slough
of the vices.

[Footnote 65: _Uomo di corte._ This word has been another grievous
stumbling block to the French and English translators of Boccaccio,
who render it literally "courtier." The reader need hardly be reminded
that the minstrel of the middle ages was commonly jester, gleeman and
story-teller all in one and in these several capacities was allowed
the utmost license of speech. He was generally attached to the court
of some king or sovereign prince, but, in default of some such
permanent appointment, passed his time in visiting the courts and
mansions of princes and men of wealth and liberty, where his talents
were likely to be appreciated and rewarded; hence the name _uomo di
corte_, "man of court" (not "courtier," which is _cortigiano_).]

[Footnote 66: _i.e._ those minstrels.]

[Footnote 67: _i.e._ the noblemen their patrons.]

But to return to my story, from which a just indignation hath carried
me somewhat farther astray than I purposed,--I say that the aforesaid
Guglielmo was honoured by all the gentlemen of Genoa and gladly seen
of them, and having sojourned some days in the city and hearing many
tales of Messer Ermino's avarice and sordidness, he desired to see
him. Messer Ermino having already heard how worthy a man was this
Guglielmo Borsiere and having yet, all miser as he was, some tincture
of gentle breeding, received him with very amicable words and blithe
aspect and entered with him into many and various discourses. Devising
thus, he carried him, together with other Genoese who were in his
company, into a fine new house of his which he had lately built and
after having shown it all to him, said, 'Pray, Messer Guglielmo, you
who have seen and heard many things, can you tell me of something that
was never yet seen, which I may have depictured in the saloon of this
my house?' Guglielmo, hearing this his preposterous question,
answered, 'Sir, I doubt me I cannot undertake to tell you of aught
that was never yet seen, except it were sneezings or the like; but, an
it like you, I will tell you of somewhat which me thinketh you never
yet beheld.' Quoth Messer Ermino, not looking for such an answer as he
got, 'I pray you tell me what it is.' Whereto Guglielmo promptly
replied, 'Cause Liberality to be here depictured.'

When Messer Ermino heard this speech, there took him incontinent such
a shame that it availed in a manner to change his disposition
altogether to the contrary of that which it had been and he said,
'Messer Guglielmo, I will have it here depictured after such a fashion
that neither you nor any other shall ever again have cause to tell me
that I have never seen nor known it.' And from that time forth (such
was the virtue of Guglielmo's words) he was the most liberal and the
most courteous gentleman of his day in Genoa and he who most
hospitably entreated both strangers and citizens."


[Day the First]


The Queen's last commandment rested with Elisa, who, without awaiting
it, began all blithely, "Young ladies, it hath often chanced that what
all manner reproofs and many pains[68] bestowed upon a man have not
availed to bring about in him hath been effected by a word more often
spoken at hazard than of purpose aforethought. This is very well shown
in the story related by Lauretta and I, in my turn, purpose to prove
to you the same thing by means of another and a very short one; for
that, since good things may still serve, they should be received with
a mind attent, whoever be the sayer thereof.

[Footnote 68: Syn. penalties, punishments (_pene_).]

I say, then, that in the days of the first King of Cyprus, after the
conquest of the Holy Land by Godefroi de Bouillon, it chanced that a
gentlewoman of Gascony went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre and
returning thence, came to Cyprus, where she was shamefully abused of
certain lewd fellows; whereof having complained, without getting any
satisfaction, she thought to appeal to the King for redress, but was
told that she would lose her pains, for that he was of so abject a
composition and so little of worth that, far from justifying others of
their wrongs, he endured with shameful pusillanimity innumerable
affronts offered to himself, insomuch that whose had any grudge
[against him] was wont to vent his despite by doing him some shame or

The lady, hearing this and despairing of redress, bethought herself,
by way of some small solacement of her chagrin, to seek to rebuke the
king's pusillanimity; wherefore, presenting herself in tears before
him, she said to him, 'My lord, I come not into thy presence for any
redress that I expect of the wrong that hath been done me; but in
satisfaction thereof, I prithee teach me how thou dost to suffer those
affronts which I understand are offered unto thyself, so haply I may
learn of thee patiently to endure mine own, the which God knoweth, an
I might, I would gladly bestow on thee, since thou art so excellent a
supporter thereof.'

The King, who till then had been sluggish and supine, awoke as if from
sleep and beginning with the wrong done to the lady, which he cruelly
avenged, thenceforth became a very rigorous prosecutor of all who
committed aught against the honour of his crown."


[Day the First]


Elisa being now silent, the last burden of the story-telling rested
with the queen, who, with womanly grace beginning to speak, said,
"Noble damsels, like as in the lucid nights the stars are the ornament
of the sky and as in Spring-time the flowers of the green meadows,
even so are commendable manners and pleasing discourse adorned by
witty sallies, which latter, for that they are brief, are yet more
beseeming to women than to men, inasmuch as much and long speech,
whenas it may be dispensed with, is straitlier forbidden unto women
than to men, albeit nowadays there are few or no women left who
understand a sprightly saying or, if they understand it, know how to
answer it, to the general shame be it said of ourselves and of all
women alive. For that virtue,[69] which was erst in the minds of the
women of times past, those of our day have diverted to the adornment
of the body, and she on whose back are to be seen the most motley
garments and the most gaudily laced and garded and garnished with the
greatest plenty of fringes and purflings and broidery deemeth herself
worthy to be held of far more account than her fellows and to be
honoured above them, considering not that, were it a question of who
should load her back and shoulders with bravery, an ass would carry
much more thereof than any of them nor would therefore be honoured for
more than an ass.

[Footnote 69: _Virtù_, in the old Roman sense of strength, vigour,

I blush to avow it, for that I cannot say aught against other women
but I say it against myself; these women that are so laced and purfled
and painted and parti-coloured abide either mute and senseless, like
marble statues, or, an they be questioned, answer after such a fashion
that it were far better to have kept silence. And they would have you
believe that their unableness to converse among ladies and men of
parts proceedeth from purity of mind, and to their witlessness they
give the name of modesty, as if forsooth no woman were modest but she
who talketh with her chamberwoman or her laundress or her bake-wench;
the which had Nature willed, as they would have it believed, she had
assuredly limited unto them their prattle on other wise. It is true
that in this, as in other things, it behoveth to have regard to time
and place and with whom one talketh; for that it chanceth bytimes that
women or men, thinking with some pleasantry or other to put another to
the blush and not having well measured their own powers with those of
the latter, find that confusion, which they thought to cast upon
another, recoil upon themselves. Wherefore, so you may know how to
keep yourselves and that, to boot, you may not serve as a text for the
proverb which is current everywhere, to wit, that women in everything
still take the worst, I would have you learn a lesson from the last of
to-day's stories, which falleth to me to tell, to the intent that,
even as you are by nobility of mind distinguished from other women, so
likewise you may show yourselves no less removed from them by
excellence of manners.

It is not many years since there lived (and belike yet liveth) at
Bologna a very great and famous physician, known by manifest renown to
well nigh all the world. His name was Master Alberto and such was the
vivacity of his spirit that, albeit he was an old man of hard upon
seventy years of age and well nigh all natural heat had departed his
body, he scrupled not to expose himself to the flames of love; for
that, having seen at an entertainment a very beautiful widow lady,
called, as some say, Madam Malgherida[70] de' Ghisolieri, and being
vastly taken with her, he received into his mature bosom, no otherwise
than if he had been a young gallant, the amorous fire, insomuch that
himseemed he rested not well by night, except the day foregone he had
looked upon the delicate and lovesome countenance of the fair lady.
Wherefore he fell to passing continually before her house, now afoot
and now on horseback, as the occasion served him, insomuch that she
and many other ladies got wind of the cause of his constant passings
to and fro and oftentimes made merry among themselves to see a man
thus ripe of years and wit in love, as if they deemed that that most
pleasant passion of love took root and flourished only in the silly
minds of the young and not otherwhere.

[Footnote 70: Old form of Margherita.]

What while he continued to pass back and forth, it chanced one holiday
that, the lady being seated with many others before her door and
espying Master Alberto making towards them from afar, they one and
all took counsel together to entertain him and do him honour and after
to rally him on that his passion. Accordingly, they all rose to
receive him and inviting him [to enter,] carried him into a shady
courtyard, whither they let bring the choicest of wines and sweetmeats
and presently enquired of him, in very civil and pleasant terms, how
it might be that he was fallen enamoured of that fair lady, knowing
her to be loved of many handsome, young and sprightly gentlemen. The
physician, finding himself thus courteously attacked, put on a blithe
countenance and answered, 'Madam, that I love should be no marvel to
any understanding person, and especially that I love yourself, for
that you deserve it; and albeit old men are by operation of nature
bereft of the vigour that behoveth unto amorous exercises, yet not for
all that are they bereft of the will nor of the wit to apprehend that
which is worthy to be loved; nay, this latter is naturally the better
valued of them, inasmuch as they have more knowledge and experience
than the young. As for the hope that moveth me, who am an old man, to
love you who are courted of many young gallants, it is on this wise: I
have been many a time where I have seen ladies lunch and eat lupins
and leeks. Now, although in the leek no part is good, yet is the
head[71] thereof less hurtful and more agreeable to the taste; but you
ladies, moved by a perverse appetite, commonly hold the head in your
hand and munch the leaves, which are not only naught, but of an ill
savour. How know I, madam, but you do the like in the election of your
lovers? In which case, I should be the one chosen of you and the
others would be turned away.'

[Footnote 71: _i.e._ the base or eatable part of the stem.]

The gentlewoman and her companions were somewhat abashed and said,
'Doctor, you have right well and courteously chastised our
presumptuous emprise; algates, your love is dear to me, as should be
that of a man of worth and learning; wherefore, you may in all
assurance command me, as your creature, of your every pleasure, saving
only mine honour.' The physician, rising with his companions, thanked
the lady and taking leave of her with laughter and merriment, departed
thence. Thus the lady, looking not whom she rallied and thinking to
discomfit another, was herself discomfited; wherefrom, an you be wise,
you will diligently guard yourselves."

       *       *       *       *       *

The sun had begun to decline towards the evening, and the heat was in
great part abated, when the stories of the young ladies and of the
three young men came to an end; whereupon quoth the queen
blithesomely, "Henceforth, dear companions, there remaineth nought
more to do in the matter of my governance for the present day, save to
give you a new queen, who shall, according to her judgment, order her
life and ours, for that[72] which is to come, unto honest pleasance.
And albeit the day may be held to endure from now until nightfall,
yet,--for that whoso taketh not somewhat of time in advance cannot,
meseemeth, so well provide for the future and in order that what the
new queen shall deem needful for the morrow may be prepared,--methinketh
the ensuing days should commence at this hour. Wherefore, in reverence
of Him unto whom all things live and for our own solacement, Filomena,
a right discreet damsel, shall, as queen, govern our kingdom for the
coming day." So saying, she rose to her feet and putting off the
laurel-wreath, set it reverently on the head of Filomena, whom first
herself and after all the other ladies and the young men likewise
saluted as queen, cheerfully submitting themselves to her governance.

[Footnote 72: _i.e._ that day.]

Filomena blushed somewhat to find herself invested with the queendom,
but, calling to mind the words a little before spoken by
Pampinea,[73]--in order that she might not appear witless, she resumed
her assurance and in the first place confirmed all the offices given
by Pampinea; then, having declared that they should abide whereas they
were, she appointed that which was to do against the ensuing morning,
as well as for that night's supper, and after proceeded to speak thus:

[Footnote 73: See ante, p. 8.]

"Dearest companions, albeit Pampinea, more of her courtesy than for
any worth of mine, hath made me queen of you all, I am not therefore
disposed to follow my judgment alone in the manner of our living, but
yours together with mine; and that you may know that which meseemeth
is to do and consequently at your pleasure add thereto or abate
thereof, I purpose briefly to declare it to you.

If I have well noted the course this day held by Pampinea, meseemeth I
have found it alike praiseworthy and delectable; wherefore till such
time as, for overlong continuance or other reason, it grow irksome to
us, I judge it not to be changed. Order, then, being taken for [the
continuance of] that which we have already begun to do, we will,
arising hence, go awhile a-pleasuring, and whenas the sun shall be for
going under, we will sup in the cool of the evening, and after sundry
canzonets and other pastimes, we shall do well to betake ourselves to
sleep. To-morrow, rising in the cool of the morning, we will on like
wise go somewhither a-pleasuring, as shall be most agreeable to every
one; and as we have done to-day, we will at the due hour come back to
eat; after which we will dance and when we arise from sleep, as to-day
we have done, we will return hither to our story-telling, wherein
meseemeth a very great measure to consist alike of pleasance and of
profit. Moreover, that which Pampinea had indeed no opportunity of
doing, by reason of her late election to the governance, I purpose now
to enter upon, to wit, to limit within some bound that whereof we are
to tell and to declare it[74] to you beforehand, so each of you may
have leisure to think of some goodly story to relate upon the theme
proposed, the which, an it please you, shall be on this wise; namely,
seeing that since the beginning of the world men have been and will
be, until the end thereof, bandied about by various shifts of fortune,
each shall be holden to tell OF THOSE WHO AFTER BEING BAFFLED BY

[Footnote 74: _i.e._ the terms of the limitation aforesaid.]

Ladies and men alike all commended this ordinance and declared
themselves ready to ensue it. Only Dioneo, the others all being
silent, said, "Madam, as all the rest have said, so say I, to wit that
the ordinance given by you is exceeding pleasant and commendable; but
of especial favour I crave you a boon, which I would have confirmed to
me for such time as our company shall endure, to wit, that I may not
be constrained by this your law to tell a story upon the given theme,
an it like me not, but shall be free to tell that which shall most
please me. And that none may think I seek this favour as one who hath
not stories, in hand, from this time forth I am content to be still
the last to tell."

The queen,--who knew him for a merry man and a gamesome and was well
assured that he asked this but that he might cheer the company with
some laughable story, whenas they should be weary of discoursing,--with
the others' consent, cheerfully accorded him the favour he sought.
Then, arising from session, with slow steps they took their way
towards a rill of very clear water, that ran down from a little hill,
amid great rocks and green herbage, into a valley overshaded with many
trees and there, going about in the water, bare-armed and shoeless,
they fell to taking various diversions among themselves, till
supper-time drew near, when they returned to the palace and there
supped merrily. Supper ended, the queen called for instruments of
music and bade Lauretta lead up a dance, whilst Emilia sang a song, to
the accompaniment of Dioneo's lute. Accordingly, Lauretta promptly set
up a dance and led it off, whilst Emilia amorously warbled the
following song:

     I burn for mine own charms with such a fire,
         Methinketh that I ne'er
       Of other love shall reck or have desire.

     Whene'er I mirror me, I see therein[75]
       That good which still contenteth heart and spright;
     Nor fortune new nor thought of old can win
       To dispossess me of such dear delight.
       What other object, then, could fill my sight,
         Enough of pleasance e'er
     To kindle in my breast a new desire?

     This good flees not, what time soe'er I'm fain
       Afresh to view it for my solacement;
     Nay, at my pleasure, ever and again
       With such a grace it doth itself present
       Speech cannot tell it nor its full intent
         Be known of mortal e'er,
       Except indeed he burn with like desire.

     And I, grown more enamoured every hour,
       The straitlier fixed mine eyes upon it be,
     Give all myself and yield me to its power,
       E'en tasting now of that it promised me,
       And greater joyance yet I hope to see,
         Of such a strain as ne'er
       Was proven here below of love-desire.

[Footnote 75: _i.e._ in the mirrored presentment of her own beauty.]

Lauretta having thus made an end of her ballad,[76]--in the burden of
which all had blithely joined, albeit the words thereof gave some much
matter for thought,--divers other rounds were danced and a part of the
short night being now spent, it pleased the queen to give an end to
the first day; wherefore, letting kindle the flambeaux, she commanded
that all should betake themselves to rest until the ensuing morning,
and all, accordingly, returning to their several chambers, did so.

[Footnote 76: _Ballatella_, lit. little dancing song or song made to
be sung as an accompaniment to a dance (from _ballare_, to dance).
This is the origin of our word ballad.]


_Day the Second_


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


[Day the Second]


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 77: Or pretext (_titolo_).]

[Footnote 78: Or "having him punished," lit. "causing give him ill
luck" (_fargli dar la mala ventura_). This passage, like so many
others of the Decameron, is ambiguous and may also be read
"themseeming none other had a juster title to do him an ill turn."]

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

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

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


[Day the Second]


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

[Footnote 79: Lit. a story striveth in (draweth) me to be told or to
tell itself (_a raccontarsi mi tira una novella_).]

[Footnote 80: _i.e._ religious matters (_cose cattoliche_).]

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

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

[Footnote 81: _i.e._ take things by the first intention, without
seeking to refine upon them, or, in English popular phrase, "I do not
pretend to see farther through a stone wall than my neighbours."]

[Footnote 82: _i.e._ the aforesaid orison.]

[Footnote 83: Or "'Twill have been opportunely done of thee."]

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

[Footnote 84: _i.e._ our patron saint.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 85: _i.e._ whose teeth chattered as it were the clapping of
a stork's beak.]

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

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

[Footnote 86: _i.e._ after her bath.]

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

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

[Footnote 87: _i.e._ to be hanged or, in the equivalent English idiom,
to dance upon nothing.]


[Day the Second]


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

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

[Footnote 88: _i.e._ usury? See post. One of the commentators
ridiculously suggests that they were needlemakers, from _ago_, a

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 89: _i.e._ the thing is done and cannot be undone; there is
no help for it.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 90: _i.e._ make her a solemn promise of marriage, formally
plight her his troth. The ceremony of betrothal was formerly (and
still is in certain countries) the most essential part of the marriage

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

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

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

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


[Day the Second]


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

[Footnote 91: _i.e._ cannot hope to tell a story presenting more
extraordinary shifts from one to the other extreme of human fortune
than that of Pampinea.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 92: The Genoese have the reputation in Italy of being
thieves by nature.]

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

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

[Footnote 93: It seems doubtful whether _la reggeva diritta_ should
not rather be rendered "kept it upright." Boccaccio has a knack, very
trying to the translator, of constantly using words in an obscure or
strained sense.]

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 94: _i.e._ for nothing.]


[Day the Second]


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

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

[Footnote 95: _i.e._ son of Pietro, as they still say in Lancashire
and other northern provinces, "Tom o' Dick" for "Thomas, son of
Richard," etc.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 96: _i.e._ ill hole.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 97: _i.e._ a member of the Guelph party, as against the
Ghibellines or partisans of the Pope.]

[Footnote 98: Charles d'Anjou, afterwards King of Sicily.]

[Footnote 99: _i.e._ Frederick II. of Germany.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 100: The reason was that she wished to keep him in play till
late into the night, when all the folk should be asleep and she might
the lightlier deal with him.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 101: _i.e._ Catalan Street.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Day the Second]


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

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

[Footnote 102: Charles d'Anjou.]

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

[Footnote 103: _i.e._ the Banished or the Expelled One.]

[Footnote 104: An island in the Gulf of Gaeta, about 70 miles from
Naples. It is now inhabited, but appears in Boccaccio's time to have
been desert.]

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 105: _i.e._ wild she-goat.]

[Footnote 106: A river falling into the Gulf of Genoa between Carrara
and Spezzia.]

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

[Footnote 107: More familiar to modern ears as Doria.]

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 108: The Ghibellines were the supporters of the Papal
faction against the Guelphs or adherents of the Emperor Frederick II.
of Germany. The cardinal struggle between the two factions took place
over the succession to the throne of Naples and Sicily, to which the
Pope appointed Charles of Anjou, who overcame and killed the reigning
sovereign Manfred, but was himself, through the machinations of the
Ghibellines, expelled from Sicily by the celebrated popular rising
known as the Sicilian Vespers.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 109: _i.e._ Beritola's sons.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 110: _i.e._ to which general joy.]

[Footnote 111: Pedro of Arragon, son-in-law of Manfred, who, in
consequence of the Sicilian Vespers, succeeded Charles d'Anjou as King
of Sicily.]

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

[Footnote 112: Or (in modern phrase) putting himself at their

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


[Day the Second]


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

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

[Footnote 113: _i.e._ Egypt, Cairo was known in the middle ages by the
name of "Babylon of Egypt." It need hardly be noted that the Babylon
of the Bible was the city of that name on the Euphrates, the ancient
capital of Chaldæa (Irak Babili). The names Beminedab and Alatiel are
purely imaginary.]

[Footnote 114: _i.e._ to his wish, to whom fortune was mostly
favourable in his enterprises.]

[Footnote 115: _Il Garbo_, Arabic El Gherb or Gharb, [Arabic: al
gharb], the West, a name given by the Arabs to several parts of the
Muslim empire, but by which Boccaccio apparently means Algarve, the
southernmost province of Portugal and the last part of that kingdom to
succumb to the wave of Christian reconquest, it having remained in the
hands of the Muslims till the second half of the thirteenth century.
This supposition is confirmed by the course taken by Alatiel's ship,
which would naturally pass Sardinia and the Balearic Islands on its
way from Alexandria to Portugal.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 116: The modern Klarentza in the north-west of the Morea,
which latter province formed part of Roumelia under the Turkish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 117: _i.e._ sister to the one and cousin to the other.]

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 118: _Non vogando, ma volando._]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 119: Sic (_contò tutto_); but this is an oversight of the
author's, as it is evident from what follows that she did _not_ relate

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

[Footnote 120: Lit. Ponant (_Ponente_), _i.e._ the Western coasts of
the Mediterranean, as opposed to the Eastern or Levant.]

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

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

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

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

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


[Day the Second]


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

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

[Footnote 121: _i.e._ A.D. 912, when, upon the death of Louis III, the
last prince of the Carlovingian race, Conrad, Duke of Franconia, was
elected Emperor and the Empire, which had till then been hereditary in
the descendants of Charlemagne, became elective and remained
thenceforth in German hands.]

[Footnote 122: _Anguersa_, the old form of _Anversa_, Antwerp. All
versions that I have seen call Gautier Comte d'_Angers_ or _Angiers_,
the translators, who forgot or were unaware that Antwerp, as part of
Flanders, was then a fief of the French crown, apparently taking it
for granted that the mention of the latter city was in error and
substituting the name of the ancient capital of Anjou on their own

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

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

[Footnote 123: _i.e._ of her excuse.]

[Footnote 124: Lit. Thou holdest (or judges); but _giudichi_ in the
text is apparently a mistake for _giudico_.]

[Footnote 125: _i.e._ of discernment.]

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

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

[Footnote 126: Sic (_aggiunsero_); but _semble_ should mean "believed,
in addition."]

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

[Footnote 127: _i.e._ That the secret might be the better kept.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 128: _Paesani_, lit., countrymen; but Boccaccio evidently
uses the word in the sense of "vassals."]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 129: _i.e._ that it was not a snare.]

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

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

[Footnote 130: _Quære_, the Count's?]


[Day the Second]


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

[Footnote 131: _Rimane._ The verb _rimanere_ is constantly used by the
old Italian writers in the sense of "to become," so that the proverb
cited in the text may be read "The deceiver becometh (_i.e._ findeth
himself in the end) at the feet (_i.e._ at the mercy) of the person

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

[Footnote 132: Lit. Whatsoever an ass giveth against a wall, such he
receiveth (_Quale asino da in parete, tal riceve_). I cannot find any
satisfactory explanation of this proverbial saying, which may be
rendered in two ways, according as _quale_ and _tale_ are taken as
relative to a thing or a person. The probable reference seems to be to
the circumstance of an ass making water against a wall, so that his
urine returns to him.]

[Footnote 133: From this point until the final discovery of her true
sex, the heroine is spoken of in the masculine gender, as became her
assumed name and habit.]

[Footnote 134: Here Boccaccio uses the feminine pronoun, immediately
afterward resuming the masculine form in speaking of Sicurano.]

[Footnote 135: _i.e._ her.]

[Footnote 136: _i.e._ her.]

[Footnote 137: _i.e._ hers.]

[Footnote 138: _i.e._ her.]

[Footnote 139: Sic (_meglio_).]


[Day the Second]


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

[Footnote 140: Lit. fabulous demonstrations (_dimostrazioni
favolose_), casuistical arguments, founded upon premises of their own

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

[Footnote 141: According to one of the commentators of the Decameron,
there are as many churches at Ravenna as days in the year and each day
is there celebrated as that of some saint or other.]

[Footnote 142: A trifling jingle upon the similarity in sound of the
words _mortale_ (mortal), _mortaio_ (mortar), _pestello_ (pestle), and
_pestilente_ (pestilential). The same word-play occurs at least once
more in the Decameron.]

[Footnote 143: _Il mal foro_, a woman's commodity (Florio).]

[Footnote 144: _i.e._ _Cunnus nonvult feriari._ Some commentators
propose to read _il mal furo_, the ill thief, supposing Ricciardo to
allude to Paganino, but this seems far-fetched.]

[Footnote 145: _i.e. semble_ ran headlong to destruction. The
commentators explain this proverbial expression by saying that a
she-goat is in any case a hazardous mount, and _a fortiori_ when
ridden down a precipice; but this seems a somewhat "sporting" kind of

       *       *       *       *       *

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

     What lady aye should sing, and if not I,
     Who'm blest with all for which a maid can sigh?
     Come then, O Love, thou source of all my weal,
       All hope and every issue glad and bright
         Sing ye awhile yfere
     Of sighs nor bitter pains I erst did feel,
       That now but sweeten to me thy delight,
       Nay, but of that fire clear,
       Wherein I, burning, live in joy and cheer,
     And as my God, thy name do magnify.

     Thou settest, Love, before these eyes of mine
       Whenas thy fire I entered the first day,
         A youngling so beseen
     With valour, worth and loveliness divine,
       That never might one find a goodlier, nay,
         Nor yet his match, I ween.
         So sore I burnt for him I still must e'en
     Sing, blithe, of him with thee, my lord most high.

     And that in him which crowneth my liesse
       Is that I please him, as he pleaseth me,
         Thanks to Love debonair;
     Thus in this world my wish I do possess
       And in the next I trust at peace to be,
         Through that fast faith I bear
         To him; sure God, who seeth this, will ne'er
     The kingdom of His bliss to us deny.

[Footnote 146: _i.e._ Friday being a fast day and Saturday a _jour

[Footnote 147: _i.e._ generally upon the vicissitudes of Fortune and
not upon any particular feature.]

[Footnote 148: _Industria_, syn. address, skilful contrivance.]

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


_Day the Third_


The dawn from vermeil began to grow orange-tawny, at the approach of
the sun, when on the Sunday the queen arose and caused all her company
rise also. The seneschal had a great while before despatched to the
place whither they were to go store of things needful and folk who
should there make ready that which behoved, and seeing the queen now
on the way, straightway let load everything else, as if the camp were
raised thence, and with the household stuff and such of the servants
as remained set out in rear of the ladies and gentlemen. The queen,
then, with slow step, accompanied and followed by her ladies and the
three young men and guided by the song of some score nightingales and
other birds, took her way westward, by a little-used footpath, full of
green herbs and flowers, which latter now all began to open for the
coming sun, and chatting, jesting and laughing with her company,
brought them a while before half tierce,[149] without having gone over
two thousand paces, to a very fair and rich palace, somewhat upraised
above the plain upon a little knoll. Here they entered and having gone
all about and viewed the great saloons and the quaint and elegant
chambers all throughly furnished with that which pertaineth thereunto,
they mightily commended the place and accounted its lord magnificent.
Then, going below and seeing the very spacious and cheerful court
thereof, the cellars full of choicest wines and the very cool water
that welled there in great abundance, they praised it yet more.
Thence, as if desirous of repose, they betook themselves to sit in a
gallery which commanded all the courtyard and was all full of flowers,
such as the season afforded, and leafage, whereupon there came the
careful seneschal and entertained and refreshed them with costliest
confections and wines of choice. Thereafter, letting open to them a
garden, all walled about, which coasted the palace, they entered
therein and it seeming to them, at their entering, altogether[150]
wonder-goodly, they addressed themselves more intently to view the
particulars thereof. It had about it and athwart the middle very
spacious alleys, all straight as arrows and embowered with trellises
of vines, which made great show of bearing abundance of grapes that
year and being then all in blossom, yielded so rare a savour about the
garden, that, as it blent with the fragrance of many another
sweet-smelling plant that there gave scent, themseemed they were among
all the spiceries that ever grew in the Orient. The sides of these
alleys were all in a manner walled about with roses, red and white,
and jessamine, wherefore not only of a morning, but what while the sun
was highest, one might go all about, untouched thereby, neath
odoriferous and delightsome shade. What and how many and how orderly
disposed were the plants that grew in that place, it were tedious to
recount; suffice it that there is none goodly of those which may brook
our air but was there in abundance. Amiddleward the garden (what was
not less, but yet more commendable than aught else there) was a plat
of very fine grass, so green that it seemed well nigh black, enamelled
all with belike a thousand kinds of flowers and closed about with the
greenest and lustiest of orange and citron trees, the which, bearing
at once old fruits and new and flowers, not only afforded the eyes a
pleasant shade, but were no less grateful to the smell. Midmost the
grass-plat was a fountain of the whitest marble, enchased with
wonder-goodly sculptures, and thence,--whether I know not from a
natural or an artificial source,--there sprang, by a figure that stood
on a column in its midst, so great a jet of water and so high towards
the sky, whence not without a delectable sound it fell back into the
wonder-limpid fount, that a mill might have wrought with less; the
which after (I mean the water which overflowed the full basin) issued
forth of the lawn by a hidden way, and coming to light therewithout,
encompassed it all about by very goodly and curiously wroughten
channels. Thence by like channels it ran through well nigh every part
of the pleasance and was gathered again at the last in a place whereby
it had issue from the fair garden and whence it descended, in the
clearest of streams, towards the plain; but, ere it won thither, it
turned two mills with exceeding power and to the no small vantage of
the lord. The sight of this garden and its fair ordinance and the
plants and the fountain, with the rivulets proceeding therefrom, so
pleased the ladies and the three young men that they all of one accord
avouched that, an Paradise might be created upon earth, they could not
avail to conceive what form, other than that of this garden, might be
given it nor what farther beauty might possibly be added thereunto.
However, as they went most gladsomely thereabout, weaving them the
goodliest garlands of the various leafage of the trees and hearkening
the while to the carols of belike a score of different kinds of birds,
that sang as if in rivalry one of other, they became aware of a
delectable beauty, which, wonderstricken as they were with the other
charms of the place, they had not yet noted; to wit, they found the
garden full of maybe an hundred kinds of goodly creatures, and one
showing them to other, they saw on one side rabbits issue, on another
hares run; here lay kids and there fawns went grazing, and there was
many another kind of harmless animal, each going about his pastime at
his pleasure, as if tame; the which added unto them a yet greater
pleasure than the others. After they had gone about their fill,
viewing now this thing and now that, the queen let set the tables
around the fair fountain and at her commandment, having first sung
half a dozen canzonets and danced sundry dances, they sat down to
meat. There, being right well and orderly served, after a very fair
and sumptuous and tranquil fashion, with goodly and delicate viands,
they waxed yet blither and arising thence, gave themselves anew to
music-making and singing and dancing till it seemed good to the queen
that those whom it pleased should betake themselves to sleep.
Accordingly some went thither, whilst others, overcome with the beauty
of the place, willed not to leave it, but, abiding there, addressed
themselves, some to reading romances and some to playing chess or
tables, whilst the others slept. But presently, the hour of none being
past and the sleepers having arisen and refreshed their faces with
cold water, they came all, at the queen's commandment, to the lawn
hard by the fountain and there seating themselves, after the wonted
fashion, waited to fall to story-telling upon the subject proposed by
her. The first upon whom she laid this charge was Filostrato, who
began on this wise:

[Footnote 149: _i.e._ half _before_ (not half _after_) tierce or 7.30
a.m. _Cf._ the equivalent German idiom, _halb acht_, 7.30 (not 8.30)

[Footnote 150: _i.e._ as a whole (_tutto insieme_).]


[Day the Third]


"Fairest ladies, there be many men and women foolish enough to believe
that, whenas the white fillet is bound about a girl's head and the
black cowl clapped upon her back, she is no longer a woman and is no
longer sensible of feminine appetites, as if the making her a nun had
changed her to stone; and if perchance they hear aught contrary to
this their belief, they are as much incensed as if a very great and
heinous misdeed had been committed against nature, considering not
neither having regard to themselves, whom full license to do that
which they will availeth not to sate, nor yet to the much potency of
idlesse and thought-taking.[151] On like wise there are but too many
who believe that spade and mattock and coarse victuals and hard living
do altogether purge away carnal appetites from the tillers of the
earth and render them exceeding dull of wit and judgment. But how much
all who believe thus are deluded, I purpose, since the queen hath
commanded it to me, to make plain to you in a little story, without
departing from the theme by her appointed.

[Footnote 151: _Sollecitudine._ The commentators will have it that
this is an error for _solitudine_, solitude, but I see no necessity
for the substitution, the text being perfectly acceptable as it

There was (and is yet) in these our parts a convent of women, very
famous for sanctity (the which, that I may not anywise abate its
repute, I will not name), wherein no great while agone, there being
then no more than eight nuns and an abbess, all young, in the nunnery,
a poor silly dolt of a fellow was gardener of a very goodly garden of
theirs, who, being miscontent with his wage, settled his accounts with
the ladies' bailiff and returned to Lamporecchio, whence he came.
There, amongst others who welcomed him home, was a young labouring
man, stout and robust and (for a countryman) a well-favoured fellow,
by name of Masetto, who asked him where he had been so long. The good
man, whose name was Nuto, told him, whereupon Masetto asked him in
what he had served the convent, and he, 'I tended a great and goodly
garden of theirs, and moreover I went while to the coppice for faggots
and drew water and did other such small matters of service; but the
nuns gave me so little wage that I could scare find me in shoon
withal. Besides, they are all young and methinketh they are possessed
of the devil, for there was no doing anything to their liking; nay,
when I was at work whiles in the hortyard,[152] quoth one, "Set this
here," and another, "Set that here," and a third snatched the spade
from my hand, saying, "That is naught"; brief, they gave me so much
vexation that I would leave work be and begone out of the hortyard;
insomuch that, what with one thing and what with another, I would
abide there no longer and took myself off. When I came away, their
bailiff besought me, an I could lay my hand on any one apt unto that
service, to send the man to him, and I promised it him; but may God
make him sound of the loins as he whom I shall get him, else will I
send him none at all!' Masetto, hearing this, was taken with so great
a desire to be with these nuns that he was all consumed therewith,
judging from Nuto's words that he might avail to compass somewhat of
that which he desired. However, foreseeing that he would fail of his
purpose, if he discovered aught thereof to Nuto, he said to the
latter, 'Egad, thou didst well to come away. How is a man to live with
women? He were better abide with devils. Six times out of seven they
know not what they would have themselves.' But, after they had made an
end of their talk, Masetto began to cast about what means he should
take to be with them and feeling himself well able to do the offices
of which Nuto had spoken, he had no fear of being refused on that
head, but misdoubted him he might not be received, for that he was
young and well-looked. Wherefore, after pondering many things in
himself, he bethought himself thus: 'The place is far hence and none
knoweth me there, an I can but make a show of being dumb, I shall for
certain be received there.' Having fixed upon this device, he set out
with an axe he had about his neck, without telling any whither he was
bound, and betook himself, in the guise of a beggarman, to the
convent, where being come, he entered in and as luck would have it,
found the bailiff in the courtyard. Him he accosted with signs such as
dumb folk use and made a show of asking food of him for the love of
God and that in return he would, an it were needed, cleave wood for
him. The bailiff willingly gave him to eat and after set before him
divers logs that Nuto had not availed to cleave, but of all which
Masetto, who was very strong, made a speedy despatch. By and by, the
bailiff, having occasion to go to the coppice, carried him thither and
put him to cutting faggots; after which, setting the ass before him,
he gave him to understand by signs that he was to bring them home.
This he did very well; wherefore the bailiff kept him there some days,
so he might have him do certain things for which he had occasion. One
day it chanced that the abbess saw him and asked the bailiff who he
was. 'Madam,' answered he, 'this is a poor deaf and dumb man, who came
hither the other day to ask an alms; so I took him in out of charity
and have made him do sundry things of which we had need. If he knew
how to till the hortyard and chose to abide with us, I believe we
should get good service of him; for that we lack such an one and he is
strong and we could make what we would of him; more by token that you
would have no occasion to fear his playing the fool with yonder lasses
of yours.' 'I' faith,' rejoined the abbess, 'thou sayst sooth. Learn
if he knoweth how to till and study to keep him here; give him a pair
of shoes and some old hood or other and make much of him, caress him,
give him plenty to eat.' Which the bailiff promised to do. Masetto was
not so far distant but he heard all this, making a show the while of
sweeping the courtyard, and said merrily in himself, 'An you put me
therein, I will till you your hortyard as it was never tilled yet.'
Accordingly, the bailiff, seeing that he knew right well how to work,
asked him by signs if he had a mind to abide there and he replied on
like wise that he would do whatsoever he wished; whereupon the bailiff
engaged him and charged him till the hortyard, showing him what he was
to do; after which he went about other business of the convent and
left him. Presently, as Masetto went working one day after another,
the nuns fell to plaguing him and making mock of him, as ofttimes it
betideth that folk do with mutes, and bespoke him the naughtiest words
in the world, thinking he understood them not; whereof the abbess,
mayhap supposing him to be tailless as well as tongueless, recked
little or nothing. It chanced one day, however, that, as he rested
himself after a hard morning's work, two young nuns, who went about
the garden,[153] drew near the place where he lay and fell to looking
upon him, whilst he made a show of sleeping. Presently quoth one who
was somewhat the bolder of the twain to the other, 'If I thought thou
wouldst keep my counsel, I would tell thee a thought which I have once
and again had and which might perchance profit thee also.' 'Speak in
all assurance,' answered the other, 'for certes I will never tell it
to any.' Then said the forward wench, 'I know not if thou have ever
considered how straitly we are kept and how no man dare ever enter
here, save the bailiff, who is old, and yonder dumb fellow; and I have
again and again heard ladies, who come to visit us, say that all other
delights in the world are but toys in comparison with that which a
woman enjoyeth, whenas she hath to do with a man. Wherefore I have
often had it in mind to make trial with this mute, since with others I
may not, if it be so. And indeed he is the best in the world to that
end, for that, e'en if he would, he could not nor might tell it
again. Thou seest he is a poor silly lout of a lad, who hath overgrown
his wit, and I would fain hear how thou deemest of the thing.'
'Alack!' rejoined the other, 'what is this thou sayest? Knowest thou
not that we have promised our virginity to God?' 'Oh, as for that,'
answered the first, 'how many things are promised Him all day long,
whereof not one is fulfilled unto Him! An we have promised it Him, let
Him find Himself another or others to perform it to Him.' 'Or if,'
went on her fellow, 'we should prove with child, how would it go
then?' Quoth the other, 'Thou beginnest to take thought unto ill ere
it cometh; when that betideth, then will we look to it; there will be
a thousand ways for us of doing so that it shall never be known,
provided we ourselves tell it not.' The other, hearing this and having
now a greater itch than her companion to prove what manner beast a man
was, said, 'Well, then, how shall we do?' Quoth the first, 'Thou seest
it is nigh upon none and methinketh the sisters are all asleep, save
only ourselves; let us look about the hortyard if there be any there,
and if there be none, what have we to do but to take him by the hand
and carry him into yonder hut, whereas he harboureth against the rain,
and there let one of us abide with him, whilst the other keepeth
watch? He is so simple that he will do whatever we will.' Masetto
heard all this talk and disposed to compliance, waited but to be taken
by one of the nuns. The latter having looked well all about and
satisfied themselves that they could be seen from nowhere, she who had
broached the matter came up to Masetto and aroused him, whereupon he
rose incontinent to his feet. The nun took him coaxingly by the hand
and led him, grinning like an idiot, to the hut, where, without
overmuch pressing, he did what she would. Then, like a loyal comrade,
having had her will, she gave place to her fellow, and Masetto, still
feigning himself a simpleton, did their pleasure. Before they departed
thence, each of the girls must needs once more prove how the mute
could horse it, and after devising with each other, they agreed that
the thing was as delectable as they had heard, nay, more so.
Accordingly, watching their opportunity, they went oftentimes at
fitting seasons to divert themselves with the mute, till one day it
chanced that one of their sisters, espying them in the act from the
lattice of her cell, showed it to other twain. At first they talked of
denouncing the culprits to the abbess, but, after, changing counsel
and coming to an accord with the first two, they became sharers with
them in Masetto's services, and to them the other three nuns were at
divers times and by divers chances added as associates. Ultimately,
the abbess, who had not yet gotten wind of these doings, walking one
day alone in the garden, the heat being great, found Masetto (who had
enough of a little fatigue by day, because of overmuch posting it by
night) stretched out asleep under the shade of an almond-tree, and the
wind lifting the forepart of his clothes, all abode discovered. The
lady, beholding this and seeing herself alone, fell into that same
appetite which had gotten hold of her nuns, and arousing Masetto,
carried him to her chamber, where, to the no small miscontent of the
others, who complained loudly that the gardener came not to till the
hortyard, she kept him several days, proving and reproving that
delight which she had erst been wont to blame in others. At last she
sent him back to his own lodging, but was fain to have him often again
and as, moreover, she required of him more than her share, Masetto,
unable to satisfy so many, bethought himself that his playing the mute
might, an it endured longer, result in his exceeding great hurt.
Wherefore, being one night with the abbess, he gave loose to[154] his
tongue and bespoke her thus: 'Madam, I have heard say that one cock
sufficeth unto half a score hens, but that half a score men can ill or
hardly satisfy one woman; whereas needs must I serve nine, and to this
I can no wise endure; nay, for that which I have done up to now, I am
come to such a pass that I can do neither little nor much; wherefore
do ye either let me go in God's name or find a remedy for the matter.'
The abbess, hearing him speak whom she held dumb, was all amazed and
said, 'What is this? Methought thou wast dumb.' 'Madam,' answered
Masetto, 'I was indeed dumb, not by nature, but by reason of a malady
which bereft me of speech, and only this very night for the first time
do I feel it restored to me, wherefore I praise God as most I may.'
The lady believed this and asked him what he meant by saying that he
had to serve nine. Masetto told her how the case stood, whereby she
perceived that she had no nun but was far wiser than herself; but,
like a discreet woman as she was, she resolved to take counsel with
her nuns to find some means of arranging the matter, without letting
Masetto go, so the convent might not be defamed by him. Accordingly,
having openly confessed to one another that which had been secretly
done of each, they all of one accord, with Masetto's consent, so
ordered it that the people round about believed speech to have been
restored to him, after he had long been mute, through their prayers
and by the merits of the saint in whose name the convent was
intituled, and their bailiff being lately dead, they made Masetto
bailiff in his stead and apportioned his toils on such wise that he
could endure them. Thereafter, albeit he began upon them monikins
galore, the thing was so discreetly ordered that nothing took vent
thereof till after the death of the abbess, when Masetto began to grow
old and had a mind to return home rich. The thing becoming known,
enabled him lightly to accomplish his desire, and thus Masetto, having
by his foresight contrived to employ his youth to good purpose,
returned in his old age, rich and a father, without being at the pains
or expense of rearing children, to the place whence he had set out
with an axe about his neck, avouching that thus did Christ entreat
whoso set horns to his cap."

[Footnote 152: Hortyard (_orto_) is the old form of orchard, properly
an enclosed tract of land in which fruit, vegetables and potherbs are
cultivated for use, _i.e._ the modern kitchen garden and orchard in
one, as distinguished from the pleasaunce or flower garden

[Footnote 153: _Giardino_, _i.e._ flower-garden.]

[Footnote 154: Lit. broke the string of.]


[Day the Third]


The end of Filostrato's story, whereat whiles the ladies had some
little blushed and other whiles laughed, being come, it pleased the
queen that Pampinea should follow on with a story, and she
accordingly, beginning with a smiling countenance, said, "Some are so
little discreet in seeking at all hazards to show that they know and
apprehend that which it concerneth them not to know, that whiles,
rebuking to this end unperceived defects in others, they think to
lessen their own shame, whereas they do infinitely augment it; and
that this is so I purpose, lovesome ladies, to prove to you by the
contrary thereof, showing you the astuteness of one who, in the
judgment of a king of worth and valour, was held belike of less
account than Masetto himself.

Agilulf, King of the Lombards, as his predecessors had done, fixed the
seat of his kingship at Pavia, a city of Lombardy, and took to wife
Theodolinda[155] the widow of Autari, likewise King of the Lombards, a
very fair lady and exceeding discreet and virtuous, but ill fortuned
in a lover.[156] The affairs of the Lombards having, thanks to the
valour and judgment of King Agilulf, been for some time prosperous and
in quiet, it befell that one of the said queen's horse-keepers, a man
of very low condition, in respect of birth, but otherwise of worth far
above so mean a station, and comely of person and tall as he were the
king, became beyond measure enamoured of his mistress. His mean estate
hindered him not from being sensible that this love of his was out of
all reason, wherefore, like a discreet man as he was, he discovered it
unto none, nor dared he make it known to her even with his eyes. But,
albeit he lived without any hope of ever winning her favour, yet
inwardly he gloried in that he had bestowed his thoughts in such high
place, and being all aflame with amorous fire, he studied, beyond
every other of his fellows, to do whatsoever he deemed might pleasure
the queen; whereby it befell that, whenas she had occasion to ride
abroad, she liefer mounted the palfrey of which he had charge than any
other; and when this happened, he reckoned it a passing great favour
to himself nor ever stirred from her stirrup, accounting himself happy
what time he might but touch her clothes. But, as often enough we see
it happen that, even as hope groweth less, so love waxeth greater, so
did it betide this poor groom, insomuch that sore uneath it was to him
to avail to brook his great desire, keeping it, as he did, hidden and
being upheld by no hope; and many a time, unable to rid himself of
that his love, he determined in himself to die. And considering
inwardly of the manner, he resolved to seek his death on such wise
that it should be manifest he died for the love he bore the queen, to
which end he bethought himself to try his fortune in an enterprise of
such a sort as should afford him a chance of having or all or part of
his desire. He set not himself to seek to say aught to the queen nor
to make her sensible of his love by letters, knowing he should speak
and write in vain, but chose rather to essay an he might by practice
avail to lie with her; nor was there any other shift for it but to
find a means how he might, in the person of the king, who, he knew,
lay not with her continually, contrive to make his way to her and
enter her bedchamber. Accordingly, that he might see on what wise and
in what habit the king went, whenas he visited her, he hid himself
several times by night in a great saloon of the palace, which lay
between the king's bedchamber and that of the queen, and one night,
amongst others, he saw the king come forth of his chamber, wrapped in
a great mantle, with a lighted taper in one hand and a little wand in
the other, and making for the queen's chamber, strike once or twice
upon the door with the wand, without saying aught, whereupon it was
incontinent opened to him and the taper taken from his hand. Noting
this and having seen the king return after the same fashion, he
bethought himself to do likewise. Accordingly, finding means to have a
cloak like that which he had seen the king wear, together with a taper
and a wand, and having first well washed himself in a bagnio, lest
haply the smell of the muck should offend the queen or cause her smoke
the cheat, he hid himself in the great saloon, as of wont. Whenas he
knew that all were asleep and it seemed to him time either to give
effect to his desire or to make his way by high emprise[157] to the
wished-for death, he struck a light with a flint and steel he had
brought with him and kindling the taper, wrapped himself fast in the
mantle, then, going up to the chamber-door, smote twice upon it with
the wand. The door was opened by a bedchamber-woman, all sleepy-eyed,
who took the light and covered it; whereupon, without saying aught, he
passed within the curtain, put off his mantle and entered the bed
where the queen slept. Then, taking her desirefully in his arms and
feigning himself troubled (for that he knew the king's wont to be
that, whenas he was troubled, he cared not to hear aught), without
speaking or being spoken to, he several times carnally knew the queen;
after which, grievous as it seemed to him to depart, yet, fearing lest
his too long stay should be the occasion of turning the gotten delight
into dolour, he arose and taking up the mantle and the light,
withdrew, without word said, and returned, as quickliest he might, to
his own bed. He could scarce yet have been therein when the king arose
and repaired to the queen's chamber, whereat she marvelled
exceedingly; and as he entered the bed and greeted her blithely, she
took courage by his cheerfulness and said, 'O my lord, what new
fashion is this of to-night? You left me but now, after having taken
pleasure of me beyond your wont, and do you return so soon? Have a
care what you do.' The king, hearing these words, at once concluded
that the queen had been deceived by likeness of manners and person,
but, like a wise man, bethought himself forthright, seeing that
neither she nor any else had perceived the cheat, not to make her
aware thereof; which many simpletons would not have done, but would
have said, 'I have not been here, I. Who is it hath been here? How did
it happen? Who came hither?' Whence many things might have arisen,
whereby he would needlessly have afflicted the lady and given her
ground for desiring another time that which she had already tasted;
more by token that, an he kept silence of the matter, no shame might
revert to him, whereas, by speaking, he would have brought dishonour
upon himself. The king, then, more troubled at heart than in looks or
speech, answered, saying, 'Wife, seem I not to you man enough to have
been here a first time and to come yet again after that?' 'Ay, my
lord,' answered she. 'Nevertheless, I beseech you have regard to your
health.' Quoth Agilulf, 'And it pleaseth me to follow your counsel,
wherefore for the nonce I will get me gone again, without giving you
more annoy.' This said, taking up his mantle, he departed the chamber,
with a heart full of wrath and despite for the affront that he saw had
been done him, and bethought himself quietly to seek to discover the
culprit, concluding that he must be of the household and could not,
whoever he might be, have issued forth of the palace. Accordingly,
taking a very small light in a little lantern, he betook himself to a
very long gallery that was over the stables of his palace and where
all his household slept in different beds, and judging that, whoever
he might be that had done what the queen said, his pulse and the
beating of his heart for the swink endured could not yet have had time
to abate, he silently, beginning at one end of the gallery, fell to
feeling each one's breast, to know if his heart beat high. Although
every other slept fast, he who had been with the queen was not yet
asleep, but, seeing the king come and guessing what he went seeking,
fell into such a fright that to the beating of the heart caused by the
late-had fatigue, fear added yet a greater and he doubted not but the
king, if he became aware of this, would put him to death without
delay, and many things passed through his thought that he should do.
However, seeing him all unarmed, he resolved to feign sleep and await
what he should do. Agilulf, then, having examined many and found none
whom he judged to be he of whom he was in quest, came presently to the
horsekeeper and feeling his heart beat high, said in himself, 'This is
the man.' Nevertheless, an he would have nought be known of that which
he purposed to do, he did nought to him but poll, with a pair of
scissors he had brought with him, somewhat on one side of his hair,
which they then wore very long, so by that token he might know him
again on the morrow; and this done, he withdrew and returned to his
own chamber. The culprit, who had felt all this, like a shrewd fellow
as he was, understood plainly enough why he had been thus marked;
wherefore he arose without delay and finding a pair of shears, whereof
it chanced there were several about the stables for the service of the
horses, went softly up to all who lay in the gallery and clipped each
one's hair on like wise over the ear; which having done without being
observed, he returned to sleep. When the king arose in the morning, he
commanded that all his household should present themselves before him,
or ever the palace-doors were opened; and it was done as he said.
Then, as they all stood before him with uncovered heads, he began to
look that he might know him whom he had polled; but, seeing the most
part of them with their hair clipped after one and the same fashion,
he marvelled and said in himself, 'He whom I seek, for all he may be
of mean estate, showeth right well he is of no mean wit.' Then, seeing
that he could not, without making a stir, avail to have him whom he
sought, and having no mind to incur a great shame for the sake of a
paltry revenge, it pleased him with one sole word to admonish the
culprit and show him that he was ware of the matter; wherefore,
turning to all who were present, he said, 'Let him who did it do it no
more and get you gone in peace.' Another would have been for giving
them the strappado, for torturing, examining and questioning, and
doing this, would have published that which every one should go about
to conceal; and having thus discovered himself, though he should have
taken entire revenge for the affront suffered, his shame had not been
minished, nay, were rather much enhanced therefor and his lady's
honour sullied. Those who heard the king's words marvelled and long
debated amongst themselves what he meant by this speech; but none
understood it, save he whom it concerned, and he, like a wise man,
never, during Agilulf's lifetime, discovered the matter nor ever again
committed his life to the hazard of such a venture."

[Footnote 155: Boccaccio calls her _Teudelinga_; but I know of no
authority for this form of the name of the famous Longobardian queen.]

[Footnote 156: Referring apparently to the adventure related in the
present story.]

[Footnote 157: Lit. with high (_i.e._ worthy) cause (_con alta


[Day the Third]


Pampinea being now silent and the daring and subtlety of the
horsekeeper having been extolled by several of the company, as also
the king's good sense, the queen, turning to Filomena, charged her
follow on; whereupon she blithely began to speak thus, "I purpose to
recount to you a cheat which was in very deed put by a fair lady upon
a grave friar and which should be so much the more pleasing to every
layman as these [--friars, to wit--], albeit for the most part very
dull fools and men of strange manners and usances, hold themselves to
be in everything both better worth and wiser than others, whereas they
are of far less account than the rest of mankind, being men who,
lacking, of the meanness of their spirit, the ability to provide
themselves, take refuge, like swine, whereas they may have what to
eat. And this story, charming ladies, I shall tell you, not only for
the ensuing of the order imposed, but to give you to know withal that
even the clergy, to whom we women, beyond measure credulous as we are,
yield overmuch faith, can be and are whiles adroitly befooled, and
that not by men only, but even by certain of our own sex.

In our city, the which is fuller of cozenage than of love or faith,
there was, not many years agone, a gentlewoman adorned with beauty and
charms and as richly endowed by nature as any of her sex with engaging
manners and loftiness of spirit and subtle wit, whose name albeit I
know, I purpose not to discover it, no, nor any other that pertaineth
unto the present story, for that there be folk yet alive who would
take it in despite, whereas it should be passed over with a laugh.
This lady, then, seeing herself, though of high lineage, married to a
wool-monger and unable, for that he was a craftsman, to put off the
haughtiness of her spirit, whereby she deemed no man of mean
condition, how rich soever he might be, worthy of a gentlewoman and
seeing him moreover, for all his wealth, to be apt unto nothing of
more moment than to lay a warp for a piece of motley or let weave a
cloth or chaffer with a spinster anent her yarn, resolved on no wise
to admit of his embraces, save in so far as she might not deny him,
but to seek, for her own satisfaction, to find some one who should be
worthier of her favours than the wool-monger appeared to her to be,
and accordingly fell so fervently in love with a man of very good
quality and middle age, that, whenas she saw him not by day, she could
not pass the ensuing night without unease. The gentleman, perceiving
not how the case stood, took no heed of her, and she, being very
circumspect, dared not make the matter known to him by sending of
women nor by letter, fearing the possible perils that might betide.
However, observing that he companied much with a churchman, who,
albeit a dull lump of a fellow, was nevertheless, for that he was a
man of very devout life, reputed of well nigh all a most worthy friar,
she bethought herself that this latter would make an excellent
go-between herself and her lover and having considered what means she
should use, she repaired, at a fitting season, to the church where he
abode, and letting call him to her, told him that, an he pleased, she
would fain confess herself to him. The friar seeing her and judging
her to be a woman of condition, willingly gave ear to her, and she,
after confession, said to him, 'Father mine, it behoveth me have
recourse to you for aid and counsel anent that which you shall hear. I
know, as having myself told you, that you know my kinsfolk and my
husband, who loveth me more than his life, nor is there aught I desire
but I have it of him incontinent, he being a very rich man and one who
can well afford it; wherefore I love him more than mine own self and
should I but think, let alone do, aught that might be contrary to his
honour and pleasure, there were no woman more wicked or more deserving
of the fire than I. Now one, whose name in truth I know not, but who
is, meseemeth, a man of condition, and is, if I mistake not, much in
your company,--a well-favoured man and tall of his person and clad in
very decent sad-coloured raiment,--unaware belike of the constancy of
my purpose, appeareth to have laid siege to me, nor can I show myself
at door or window nor go without the house, but he incontinent
presenteth himself before me, and I marvel that he is not here now;
whereat I am sore concerned, for that such fashions as these often
bring virtuous women into reproach, without their fault. I have whiles
had it in mind to have him told of this by my brothers; but then I
have bethought me that men oftentimes do messages on such wise that
ill answers ensue, which give rise to words and from words they come
to deeds; wherefore, lest mischief spring therefrom and scandal, I
have kept silence of the matter and have determined to discover it to
yourself rather than to another, at once because meseemeth you are his
friend and for that it beseemeth you to rebuke not only friends, but
strangers, of such things. I beseech you, therefore, for the one God's
sake, that you rebuke him of this and pray him leave these his
fashions. There be women enough, who incline belike to these toys and
would take pleasure in being dogged and courted by him, whereas to me,
who have no manner of mind to such matters, it is a very grievous
annoy.' So saying, she bowed her head as she would weep. The holy
friar understood incontinent of whom she spoke and firmly believing
what she said to be true, greatly commended her righteous intent and
promised her to do on such wise that she should have no farther annoy
from the person in question; and knowing her to be very rich, he
commended to her works of charity and almsdeeds, recounting to her his
own need. Quoth the lady, 'I beseech you thereof for God's sake, and
should he deny, prithee scruple not to tell him that it was I who told
you this and complained to you thereof.' Then, having made her
confession and gotten her penance, recalling the friar's exhortations
to works of almsgiving, she stealthily filled his hand with money,
praying him to say masses for the souls of her dead kinsfolk; after
which she rose from his feet and taking leave of him, returned home.
Not long after up came the gentleman, according to his wont, and after
they had talked awhile of one thing and another, the friar, drawing
his friend aside, very civilly rebuked him of the manner in which, as
he believed, he pursued and spied upon the lady aforesaid, according
to that which she had given him to understand. The other marvelled, as
well he might, having never set eyes upon her and being used very
rarely to pass before her house, and would have excused himself; but
the friar suffered him not to speak, saying, 'Now make no show of
wonderment nor waste words in denying it, for it will avail thee
nothing; I learnt not these matters from the neighbours; nay, she
herself told them to me, complaining sore of thee. And besides that
such toys beseem not a man of thine age, I may tell thee this much of
her, that if ever I saw a woman averse to these follies, it is she;
wherefore, for thine own credit and her comfort, I prithee desist
therefrom and let her be in peace.' The gentleman, quicker of wit than
the friar, was not slow to apprehend the lady's device and feigning to
be somewhat abashed, promised to meddle no more with her
thenceforward; then, taking leave of the friar, he betook himself to
the house of the lady, who still abode await at a little window, so
she might see him, should he pass that way. When she saw him come, she
showed herself so rejoiced and so gracious to him, that he might very
well understand that he had gathered the truth from the friar's words,
and thenceforward, under colour of other business, he began with the
utmost precaution to pass continually through the street, to his own
pleasure and to the exceeding delight and solace of the lady. After
awhile, perceiving that she pleased him even as he pleased her and
wishful to inflame him yet more and to certify him of the love she
bore him, she betook herself again, choosing her time and place, to
the holy friar and seating herself at his feet in the church, fell
a-weeping. The friar, seeing this, asked her affectionately what was
to do with her anew. 'Alack, father mine,' answered she, 'that which
aileth me is none other than yonder God-accursed friend of yours, of
whom I complained to you the other day, for that methinketh he was
born for my especial torment and to make me do a thing, such that I
should never be glad again nor ever after dare to seat myself at your
feet.' 'How?' cried the friar. 'Hath he not given over annoying thee?'
'No, indeed,' answered she; 'nay, since I complained to you of him, as
if of despite, maybe taking it ill that I should have done so, for
every once he used to pass before my house, I verily believe he hath
passed seven times. And would to God he were content with passing and
spying upon me! Nay, he is grown so bold and so malapert that but
yesterday he despatched a woman to me at home with his idle tales and
toys and sent me a purse and a girdle, as if I had not purses and
girdles galore; the which I took and take so ill that I believe, but
for my having regard to the sin of it and after for the love of you, I
had played the devil. However, I contained myself and would not do or
say aught whereof I should not first have let you know. Nay, I had
already returned the purse and the girdle to the baggage who brought
them, that she might carry them back to him, and had given her a rough
dismissal, but after, fearing she might keep them for herself and tell
him that I had accepted them, as I hear women of her fashion do
whiles, I called her back and took them, full of despite, from her
hands and have brought them to you, so you may return them to him and
tell him I want none of his trash, for that, thanks to God and my
husband, I have purses and girdles enough to smother him withal.
Moreover, if hereafter he desist not from this, I tell you, as a
father, you must excuse me, but I will tell it, come what may, to my
husband and my brothers; for I had far liefer he should brook an
affront, if needs he must, than that I should suffer blame for him;
wherefore let him look to himself.' So saying, still weeping sore, she
pulled out from under her surcoat a very handsome and rich purse and a
quaint and costly girdle and threw them into the lap of the friar,
who, fully crediting that which she told him and incensed beyond
measure, took them and said to her, 'Daughter, I marvel not that thou
art provoked at these doings, nor can I blame thee therefor; but I
much commend thee for following my counsel in the matter. I rebuked
him the other day and he hath ill performed that which he promised me;
wherefore, as well for that as for this that he hath newly done, I
mean to warm his ears[158] for him after such a fashion that
methinketh he will give thee no farther concern; but do thou, God's
benison on thee, suffer not thyself to be so overcome with anger that
thou tell it to any of thy folk, for that overmuch harm might ensue
thereof unto him. Neither fear thou lest this blame anywise ensue to
thee, for I shall still, before both God and men, be a most constant
witness to thy virtue.' The lady made believe to be somewhat comforted
and leaving that talk, said, as one who knew his greed and that of his
fellow-churchmen, 'Sir, these some nights past there have appeared to
me sundry of my kinsfolk, who ask nought but almsdeeds, and meseemeth
they are indeed in exceeding great torment, especially my mother, who
appeareth to me in such ill case and affliction that it is pity to
behold. Methinketh she suffereth exceeding distress to see me in this
tribulation with yonder enemy of God; wherefore I would have you say
me forty masses of Saint Gregory for her and their souls, together
with certain of your own prayers, so God may deliver them from that
penitential fire.' So saying, she put a florin into his hand, which
the holy father blithely received and confirming her devoutness with
fair words and store of pious instances, gave her his benison and let
her go. The lady being gone, the friar, never thinking how he was
gulled, sent for his friend, who, coming and finding him troubled, at
once divined that he was to have news of the lady and awaited what the
friar should say. The latter repeated that which he had before said to
him and bespeaking him anew angrily and reproachfully, rebuked him
severely of that which, according to the lady's report, he had done.
The gentleman, not yet perceiving the friar's drift, faintly enough
denied having sent her the purse and the girdle, so as not to
undeceive the friar, in case the lady should have given him to believe
that he had done this; whereat the good man was sore incensed and
said, 'How canst thou deny it, wicked man that thou art? See, here
they are, for she herself brought them to me, weeping; look if thou
knowest them.' The gentleman feigned to be sore abashed and answered,
'Yes, I do indeed know them and I confess to you that I did ill; but I
swear to you, since I see her thus disposed, that you shall never more
hear a word of this.' Brief, after many words, the numskull of a friar
gave his friend the purse and the girdle and dismissed him, after
rating him amain and beseeching him occupy himself no more with these
follies, the which he promised him. The gentleman, overjoyed both at
the assurance that himseemed he had of the lady's love and at the
goodly gift, was no sooner quit of the friar than he betook himself to
a place where he made shift to let his mistress see that he had the
one and the other thing; whereat she was mightily rejoiced, more by
token that herseemed her device went from good to better. She now
awaited nought but her husband's going abroad to give completion to
the work, and it befell not long after that it behoved him repair to
Genoa on some occasion or other. No sooner had he mounted to horse in
the morning and gone his way, than the lady betook herself to the holy
man and after many lamentations, said to him, weeping, 'Father mine,
I tell you now plainly that I can brook no more; but, for that I
promised you the other day to do nought, without first telling you, I
am come to excuse myself to you; and that you may believe I have good
reason both to weep and to complain, I will tell you what your friend,
or rather devil incarnate, did to me this very morning, a little
before matins. I know not what ill chance gave him to know that my
husband was to go to Genoa yestermorn; algates, this morning, at the
time I tell you, he came into a garden of mine and climbing up by a
tree to the window of my bedchamber, which giveth upon the garden, had
already opened the lattice and was for entering, when I of a sudden
awoke and starting up, offered to cry out, nay, would assuredly have
cried out, but that he, who was not yet within, besought me of mercy
in God's name and yours, telling me who he was; which when I heard, I
held my peace for the love of you and naked as I was born, ran and
shut the window in his face; whereupon I suppose he took himself off
(ill-luck go with him!), for I heard no more of him. Look you now if
this be a goodly thing and to be endured. For my part I mean to bear
with him no more; nay, I have already forborne him overmuch for the
love of you.' The friar, hearing this, was the wrathfullest man alive
and knew not what to say, except to ask again and again if she had
well certified herself that it was indeed he and not another; to which
she answered, 'Praised be God! As if I did not yet know him from
another! I tell you it was himself, and although he should deny it,
credit him not.' Then said the friar, 'Daughter, there is nothing to
be said for it but that this was exceeding effrontery and a thing
exceeding ill done, and in sending him off, as thou didst, thou didst
that which it behoved thee to do. But I beseech thee, since God hath
preserved thee from shame, that, like as thou hast twice followed my
counsel, even so do thou yet this once; to wit, without complaining to
any kinsman of thine, leave it to me to see an I can bridle yonder
devil broke loose, whom I believed a saint. If I can make shift to
turn him from this lewdness, well and good; if not, I give thee leave
henceforth to do with him that which thy soul shall judge best, and my
benison go with thee.' 'Well, then,' answered the lady, 'for this once
I will well not to vex or disobey you; but look you do on such wise
that he be ware of annoying me again, for I promise you I will never
again return to you for this cause.' Thereupon, without saying more,
she took leave of the friar and went away, as if in anger. Hardly was
she out of the church when up came the gentleman and was called by the
friar, who, taking him apart, gave him the soundest rating ever man
had, calling him disloyal and forsworn and traitor. The other, who had
already twice had occasion to know to what the monk's reprimands
amounted, abode expectant and studied with embarrassed answers to make
him speak out, saying, at the first, 'Why all this passion, Sir? Have
I crucified Christ?' Whereupon, 'Mark this shameless fellow!' cried
the friar. 'Hear what he saith! He speaketh as if a year or two were
passed and he had for lapse of time forgotten his misdeeds and his
lewdness! Hath it then escaped thy mind between this and matinsong
that thou hast outraged some one this very morning? Where wast thou
this morning a little before day?' 'I know not,' answered the
gentleman; 'but wherever it was, the news thereof hath reached you
mighty early.' Quoth the friar, 'Certes, the news hath reached me.
Doubtless thou supposedst because her husband was abroad, that needs
must the gentlewoman receive thee incontinent in her arms. A fine
thing, indeed! Here's a pretty fellow! Here's an honourable man! He's
grown a nighthawk, a garden-breaker, a tree-climber! Thinkest thou by
importunity to overcome this lady's chastity, that thou climbest up to
her windows anights by the trees? There is nought in the world so
displeasing to her as thou; yet must thou e'en go essaying it again
and again. Truly, thou hast profited finely by my admonitions, let
alone that she hath shown thee her aversion in many ways. But this I
have to say to thee; she hath up to now, not for any love she beareth
thee, but at my instant entreaty, kept silence of that which thou hast
done; but she will do so no more; I have given her leave to do what
seemeth good to her, an thou annoy her again in aught. What wilt thou
do, an she tell her brothers?' The gentleman having now gathered
enough of that which it concerned him to know, appeased the friar, as
best he knew and might, with many and ample promises, and taking leave
of him, waited till matinsong[159] of the ensuing night, when he made
his way into the garden and climbed up by the tree to the window. He
found the lattice open and entering the chamber as quickliest he
might, threw himself into the arms of his fair mistress, who, having
awaited him with the utmost impatience, received him joyfully, saying,
'Gramercy to my lord the friar for that he so well taught thee the way
hither!' Then, taking their pleasure one of the other, they solaced
themselves together with great delight, devising and laughing amain
anent the simplicity of the dolt of a friar and gibing at wool-hanks
and teasels and carding-combs. Moreover, having taken order for their
future converse, they did on such wise that, without having to resort
anew to my lord the friar, they foregathered in equal joyance many
another night, to the like whereof I pray God, of His holy mercy,
speedily to conduct me and all Christian souls who have a mind

[Footnote 158: Lit. (_riscaldare gli orecchi_).]

[Footnote 159: _i.e._ three a.m. next morning.]


[Day the Third]


Filomena, having made an end of her story, was silent and Dioneo
having with dulcet speech mightily commended the lady's shrewdness and
eke the prayer with which Filomena had concluded, the queen turned
with a smile to Pamfilo and said, "Come, Pamfilo, continue our
diversion with some pleasant trifle." Pamfilo promptly answered that
he would well and began thus: "Madam, there are many persons who, what
while they study to enter Paradise, unwittingly send others thither;
the which happened, no great while since, to a neighbour of ours, as
you shall hear.

According to that which I have heard tell, there abode near San
Pancrazio an honest man and a rich, called Puccio di Rinieri, who,
devoting himself in his latter days altogether to religious practices,
became a tertiary[160] of the order of St. Francis, whence he was
styled Fra Puccio, and ensuing this his devout life, much frequented
the church, for that he had no family other than a wife and one maid
and consequently, it behoved him not apply himself to any craft. Being
an ignorant, clod-pated fellow, he said his paternosters, went to
preachments and attended mass, nor ever failed to be at the Lauds
chanted by the seculars,[161] and fasted and mortified himself; nay,
it was buzzed about that he was of the Flagellants.[162] His wife,
whose name was Mistress Isabetta,[163] a woman, yet young, of
eight-and-twenty to thirty years of age, fresh and fair and plump as a
lady-apple, kept, by reason of the piety and belike of the age of her
husband, much longer and more frequent fasts than she could have
wished, and when she would have slept or maybe frolicked with him, he
recounted to her the life of Christ and the preachments of Fra
Nastagio or the Complaint of Mary Magdalene or the like. Meantime
there returned home from Paris a monk hight Dom[164] Felice,
Conventual[165] of San Pancrazio, who was young and comely enough of
person, keen of wit and a profound scholar, and with him Fra Puccio
contracted a strait friendship. And for that this Dom Felice right
well resolved him his every doubt and knowing his pious turn of mind,
made him a show of exceeding devoutness, Fra Puccio fell to carrying
him home bytimes and giving him to dine and sup, as the occasion
offered; and the lady also, for her husband's sake, became familiar
with him and willingly did him honour. The monk, then, continuing to
frequent Fra Puccio's house and seeing the latter's wife so fresh and
plump, guessed what should be the thing whereof she suffered the most
default and bethought himself, an he might, to go about to furnish her
withal himself, and so spare Fra Puccio fatigue. Accordingly, craftily
casting his eyes on her, at one time and another, he made shift to
kindle in her breast that same desire which he had himself, which when
he saw, he bespoke her of his wishes as first occasion betided him.
But, albeit he found her well disposed to give effect to the work, he
could find no means thereunto, for that she would on nowise trust
herself to be with him in any place in the world save her own house,
and there it might not be, seeing that Fra Puccio never went without
the town. At this the monk was sore chagrined; but, after much
consideration, he hit upon a device whereby he might avail to
foregather with the lady in her own house, without suspect, for all
Fra Puccio should be at home. Accordingly, the latter coming one day
to visit him, he bespoke him thus, 'I have many a time understood, Fra
Puccio, that all thy desire is to become a saint and to this end
meseemeth thou goest about by a long road, whereas there is another
and a very short one, which the Pope and the other great prelates, who
know and practise it, will not have made known, for that the clergy,
who for the most part live by alms, would incontinent be undone,
inasmuch as the laity would no longer trouble themselves to propitiate
them with alms or otherwhat. But, for that thou art my friend and hast
very honourably entertained me, I would teach it thee, so I were
assured thou wouldst practise it and wouldst not discover it to any
living soul.' Fra Puccio, eager to know the thing, began straightway
to entreat him with the utmost instancy that he would teach it him and
then to swear that never, save in so far as it should please him,
would he tell it to any, engaging, an if it were such as he might
avail to follow, to address himself thereunto. Whereupon quoth the
monk, 'Since thou promisest me this, I will e'en discover it to thee.
Thou must know that the doctors of the church hold that it behoveth
whoso would become blessed to perform the penance which thou shalt
hear; but understand me aright; I do not say that, after the penance,
thou wilt not be a sinner like as thou presently art; but this will
betide, that the sins which thou hast committed up to the time of the
penance will all by virtue thereof be purged and pardoned unto thee,
and those which thou shalt commit thereafterward will not be written
to thy prejudice, but will pass away with the holy water, as venial
sins do now. It behoveth a man, then, in the first place, whenas he
cometh to begin the penance, to confess himself with the utmost
diligence of his sins, and after this he must keep a fast and a very
strict abstinence for the space of forty days, during which time
thou[166] must abstain from touching, not to say other women, but even
thine own wife. Moreover, thou must have in thine own house some place
whence thou mayst see the sky by night, whither thou must betake
thyself towards the hour of complines,[167] and there thou must have a
wide plank set up, on such wise that, standing upright, thou mayst
lean thy loins against it and keeping thy feet on the ground, stretch
out thine arms, crucifix fashion. An thou wouldst rest them upon some
peg or other, thou mayst do it, and on this wise thou must abide
gazing upon the sky, without budging a jot, till matins. Wert thou a
scholar, thou wouldst do well to repeat certain orisons I would give
thee; but, as thou art it not, thou must say three hundred
Paternosters and as many Ave Marys, in honour of the Trinity, and
looking upon heaven, still have in remembrance that God is the Creator
of heaven and earth and the passion of Christ, abiding on such wise as
He abode on the cross. When the bell ringeth to matins, thou mayst, an
thou wilt, go and cast thyself, clad as thou art, on thy bed and
sleep, and after, in the forenoon, betake thyself to church and there
hear at least three masses and repeat fifty Paternosters and as many
Aves; after which thou shalt with a single heart do all and sundry
thine occasions, if thou have any to do, and dine and at evensong be
in church again and there say certain orisons which I will give thee
by writ and without which it cannot be done. Then, towards complines,
do thou return to the fashion aforesaid, and thus doing, even as I
have myself done aforetime, I doubt not but, ere thou come to the end
of the penance, thou wilt, (provided thou shalt have performed it with
devoutness and compunction,) feel somewhat marvellous of eternal
beatitude.' Quoth Fra Puccio, 'This is no very burdensome matter, nor
yet overlong, and may very well be done; wherefore I purpose in God's
name to begin on Sunday.' Then, taking leave of him and returning
home, he related everything in due order to his wife, having the
other's permission therefor. The lady understood very well what the
monk meant by bidding him stand fast without stirring till matins;
wherefore, the device seeming to her excellent, she replied that she
was well pleased therewith and with every other good work that he did
for the health of his soul and that, so God might make the penance
profitable to him, she would e'en fast with him, but do no more. They
being thus of accord and Sunday come, Fra Puccio began his penance and
my lord monk, having agreed with the lady, came most evenings to sup
with her, bringing with him store of good things to eat and drink, and
after lay with her till matinsong, when he arose and took himself off,
whilst Fra Puccio returned to bed. Now the place which Fra Puccio had
chosen for his penance adjoined the chamber where the lady lay and was
parted therefrom but by a very slight wall, wherefore, Master Monk
wantoning it one night overfreely with the lady and she with him, it
seemed to Fra Puccio that he felt a shaking of the floor of the house.
Accordingly, having by this said an hundred of his Paternosters, he
made a stop there and without moving, called to his wife to know what
she did. The lady, who was of a waggish turn and was then belike
astride of San Benedetto his beast or that of San Giovanni Gualberto,
answered, 'I' faith, husband mine, I toss as most I may.' 'How?'
quoth Fra Puccio. 'Thou tossest? What meaneth this tossing?' The lady,
laughing, for that she was a frolicsome dame and doubtless had cause
to laugh, answered merrily; 'How? You know not what it meaneth? Why, I
have heard you say a thousand times, "Who suppeth not by night must
toss till morning light."' Fra Puccio doubted not but that the fasting
was the cause of her unableness to sleep and it was for this she
tossed thus about the bed; wherefore, in the simplicity of his heart,
'Wife,' said he, 'I told thee not to fast; but, since thou wouldst
e'en do it, think not of that, but address thyself to rest; thou
givest such vaults about the bed that thou makest all in the place
shake.' 'Have no care for that,' answered the lady; 'I know what I am
about; do you but well, you, and I will do as well as I may.' Fra
Puccio, accordingly, held his peace and betook himself anew to his
Paternosters; and after that night my lord monk and the lady let make
a bed in another part of the house, wherein they abode in the utmost
joyance what while Fra Puccio's penance lasted. At one and the same
hour the monk took himself off and the lady returned to her own bed,
whereto a little after came Fra Puccio from his penance; and on this
wise the latter continued to do penance, whilst his wife did her
delight with the monk, to whom quoth she merrily, now and again, 'Thou
hast put Fra Puccio upon performing a penance, whereby we have gotten
Paradise.' Indeed, the lady, finding herself in good case, took such a
liking to the monk's fare, having been long kept on low diet by her
husband, that, whenas Fra Puccio's penance was accomplished, she still
found means to feed her fill with him elsewhere and using discretion,
long took her pleasure thereof. Thus, then, that my last words may not
be out of accord with my first, it came to pass that, whereas Fra
Puccio, by doing penance, thought to win Paradise for himself, he put
therein the monk, who had shown him the speedy way thither, and his
wife, who lived with him in great lack of that whereof Dom Felice,
like a charitable man as he was, vouchsafed her great plenty."

[Footnote 160: _i.e._ a lay brother or affiliate.]

[Footnote 161: _i.e._ the canticles of praise chanted by certain lay
confraternities, established for that purpose and answering to our
præ-Reformation Laudsingers.]

[Footnote 162: An order of lay penitents, who were wont at certain
times to go masked about the streets, scourging themselves in
expiation of the sins of the people. This expiatory practice was
particularly prevalent in Italy in the middle of the thirteenth

[Footnote 163: Contraction of Elisabetta.]

[Footnote 164: _Dom_, contraction of Dominus (lord), the title
commonly given to the beneficed clergy in the middle ages, answering
to our _Sir_ as used by Shakespeare (_e.g._ Sir Hugh Evans the Welsh
Parson, Sir Topas the Curate, etc.). The expression survives in the
title _Dominie_ (_i.e._ Domine, voc. of Dominus) still familiarly
applied to schoolmasters, who were of course originally invariably

[Footnote 165: A Conventual is a member of some monastic order
attached to the regular service of a church, or (as would nowadays be
said) a "beneficed" monk.]

[Footnote 166: _Sic._ This confusion of persons constantly occurs in
Boccaccio, especially in the conversational parts of the Decameron, in
which he makes the freest use of the various forms of enallage and of
other rhetorical figures, such as hyperbaton, synecdoche, etc., to the
no small detriment of his style in the matter of clearness.]

[Footnote 167: _i.e._ nine o'clock p.m.]


[Day the Third]


Pamfilo having made an end, not without laughter on the part of the
ladies, of the story of Fra Puccio, the queen with a commanding air
bade Elisa follow on. She, rather tartly than otherwise, not out of
malice, but of old habit, began to speak thus, "Many folk, knowing
much, imagine that others know nothing, and so ofttimes, what while
they think to overreach others, find, after the event, that they
themselves have been outwitted of them; wherefore I hold his folly
great who setteth himself without occasion to test the strength of
another's wit. But, for that maybe all are not of my opinion, it
pleaseth me, whilst following on the given order of the discourse, to
relate to you that which befell a Pistolese gentleman[168] by reason

[Footnote 168: _i.e._ a gentleman of Pistoia.]

There was in Pistoia a gentleman of the Vergellesi family, by name
Messer Francesco, a man of great wealth and understanding and well
advised in all else, but covetous beyond measure. Being made provost
of Milan, he had furnished himself with everything necessary for his
honourable going thither, except only with a palfrey handsome enough
for him, and finding none to his liking, he abode in concern thereof.
Now there was then in the same town a young man called Ricciardo, of
little family, but very rich, who still went so quaintly clad and so
brave of his person that he was commonly known as Il Zima,[169] and he
had long in vain loved and courted Messer Francesco's wife, who was
exceeding fair and very virtuous. Now he had one of the handsomest
palfreys in all Tuscany and set great store by it for its beauty and
it being public to every one that he was enamoured of Messer
Francesco's wife, there were those who told the latter that, should he
ask it, he might have the horse for the love Il Zima bore his lady.
Accordingly, moved by covetise, Messer Francesco let call Il Zima to
him and sought of him his palfrey by way of sale, so he should proffer
it to him as a gift. The other, hearing this, was well pleased and
made answer to him, saying, "Sir, though you gave me all you have in
the world, you might not avail to have my palfrey by way of sale, but
by way of gift you may have it, whenas it pleaseth you, on condition
that, ere you take it, I may have leave to speak some words with your
lady in your presence, but so far removed from every one that I may be
heard of none other than herself.' The gentleman, urged by avarice and
looking to outwit the other, answered that it liked him well and [that
he might speak with her] as much as he would; then, leaving him in the
saloon of his palace, he betook himself to the lady's chamber and
telling her how easily he might acquire the palfrey, bade her come
hearken to Il Zima, but charged her take good care to answer neither
little or much to aught that he should say. To this the lady much
demurred, but, it behoving her ensue her husband's pleasure, she
promised to do his bidding and followed him to the saloon, to hear
what Il Zima should say. The latter, having renewed his covenant with
the gentleman, seated himself with the lady in a part of the saloon at
a great distance from every one and began to say thus, 'Noble lady,
meseemeth certain that you have too much wit not to have long since
perceived how great a love I have been brought to bear you by your
beauty, which far transcendeth that of any woman whom methinketh I
ever beheld, to say nothing of the engaging manners and the peerless
virtues which be in you and which might well avail to take the
loftiest spirits of mankind; wherefore it were needless to declare to
you in words that this [my love] is the greatest and most fervent that
ever man bore woman; and thus, without fail, will I do[170] so long as
my wretched life shall sustain these limbs, nay, longer; for that, if
in the other world folk love as they do here below, I shall love you
to all eternity. Wherefore you may rest assured that you have nothing,
be it much or little worth, that you may hold so wholly yours and
whereon you may in every wise so surely reckon as myself, such as I
am, and that likewise which is mine. And that of this you may take
assurance by very certain argument, I tell you that I should count
myself more graced, did you command me somewhat that I might do and
that would pleasure you, than if, I commanding, all the world should
promptliest obey me. Since, then, I am yours, even as you have heard,
it is not without reason that I dare to offer up my prayers to your
nobility, wherefrom alone can all peace, all health and all well-being
derive for me, and no otherwhence; yea, as the humblest of your
servants, I beseech you, dear my good and only hope of my soul, which,
midmost the fire of love, feedeth upon its hope in you,--that your
benignity may be so great and your past rigour shown unto me, who am
yours, on such wise be mollified that I, recomforted by your kindness,
may say that, like as by your beauty I was stricken with love, even so
by your pity have I life, which latter, an your haughty soul incline
not to my prayers, will without fail come to nought and I shall perish
and you may be said to be my murderer. Letting be that my death will
do you no honour, I doubt not eke but that, conscience bytimes
pricking you therefor, you will regret having wrought it[171] and
whiles, better disposed, will say in yourself, "Alack, how ill I did
not to have compassion upon my poor Zima!" and this repentance, being
of no avail, will cause you the great annoy. Wherefore, so this may
not betide, now that you have it in your power to succour me, bethink
yourself and ere I die, be moved to pity on me, for that with you
alone it resteth to make me the happiest or the most miserable man
alive. I trust your courtesy will be such that you will not suffer me
to receive death in guerdon of such and so great a love, but will with
a glad response and full of favour quicken my fainting spirits, which
flutter, all dismayed, in your presence.' Therewith he held his peace
and heaving the deepest of sighs, followed up with sundry tears,
proceeded to await the lady's answer. The latter,--whom the long court
he had paid her, the joustings held and the serenades given in her
honour and other like things done of him for the love of her had not
availed to move,--was moved by the passionate speech of this most
ardent lover and began to be sensible of that which she had never yet
felt, to wit, what manner of thing love was; and albeit, in ensuance
of the commandment laid upon her by her husband, she kept silence, she
could not withal hinder sundry gentle sighs from discovering that
which, in answer to Il Zima, she would gladly have made manifest. Il
Zima, having waited awhile and seeing that no response ensued, was
wondered and presently began to divine the husband's device; but yet,
looking her in the face and observing certain flashes of her eyes
towards him now and again and noting, moreover, the sighs which she
suffered not to escape her bosom with all her strength, conceived
fresh hope and heartened thereby, took new counsel[172] and proceeded
to answer himself after the following fashion, she hearkening the
while: 'Zima mine, this long time, in good sooth, have I perceived thy
love for me to be most great and perfect, and now by thy words I know
it yet better and am well pleased therewith, as indeed I should be.
Algates, an I have seemed to thee harsh and cruel, I will not have
thee believe that I have at heart been that which I have shown myself
in countenance; nay, I have ever loved thee and held thee dear above
all other men; but thus hath it behoved me do, both for fear of others
and for the preserving of my fair fame. But now is the time at hand
when I may show thee clearly that I love thee and guerdon thee of the
love that thou hast borne and bearest me. Take comfort, therefore, and
be of good hope, for that a few days hence Messer Francesco is to go
to Milan for provost, as indeed thou knowest, who hast for the love of
me given him thy goodly palfrey; and whenas he shall be gone, I
promise thee by my troth and of the true love I bear thee, that,
before many days, thou shalt without fail foregather with me and we
will give gladsome and entire accomplishment to our love. And that I
may not have to bespeak thee otherwhiles of the matter, I tell thee
presently that, whenas thou shalt see two napkins displayed at the
window of my chamber, which giveth upon our garden, do thou that same
evening at nightfall make shift to come to me by the garden door,
taking good care that thou be not seen. Thou wilt find me awaiting
thee and we will all night long have delight and pleasance one of
another, to our hearts' content.' Having thus spoken for the lady, he
began again to speak in his own person and rejoined on this wise,
'Dearest lady, my every sense is so transported with excessive joy for
your gracious reply that I can scarce avail to make response, much
less to render you due thanks; nay, could I e'en speak as I desire,
there is no term so long that it might suffice me fully to thank you
as I would fain do and as it behoveth me; wherefore I leave it to your
discreet consideration to imagine that which, for all my will, I am
unable to express in words. This much only I tell you that I will
without fail bethink myself to do as you have charged me, and being
then, peradventure, better certified of so great a grace as that which
you have vouchsafed me, I will, as best I may, study to render you the
utmost thanks in my power. For the nonce there abideth no more to say;
wherefore, dearest lady mine, God give you that gladness and that weal
which you most desire, and so to Him I commend you.' For all this the
lady said not a word; whereupon Il Zima arose and turned towards the
husband, who, seeing him risen, came up to him and said, laughing 'How
deemest thou? Have I well performed my promise to thee?' 'Nay, sir'
answered Il Zima; 'for you promised to let me speak with your lady and
you have caused me speak with a marble statue.' These words were
mighty pleasing to the husband, who, for all he had a good opinion of
the lady, conceived of her a yet better and said, 'Now is thy palfrey
fairly mine.' 'Ay is it, sir,' replied Il Zima, 'but, had I thought to
reap of this favour received of you such fruit as I have gotten, I had
given you the palfrey, without asking it[173] of you; and would God I
had done it, for that now you have bought the palfrey and I have not
sold it.' The other laughed at this and being now provided with a
palfrey, set out upon his way a few days after and betook himself to
Milan, to enter upon the Provostship. The lady, left free in her
house, called to mind Il Zima's words and the love he bore her and the
palfrey given for her sake and seeing him pass often by the house,
said in herself, 'What do I? Why waste I my youth? Yonder man is gone
to Milan and will not return these six months. When will he ever
render me them[174] again? When I am old? Moreover, when shall I ever
find such a lover as Il Zima? I am alone and have no one to fear. I
know not why I should not take this good opportunity what while I may;
I shall not always have such leisure as I presently have. None will
know the thing, and even were it to be known, it is better to do and
repent, than to abstain and repent.' Having thus taken counsel with
herself, she one day set two napkins in the garden window, even as Il
Zima had said, which when he saw, he was greatly rejoiced and no
sooner was the night come than he betook himself, secretly and alone,
to the gate of the lady's garden and finding it open, passed on to
another door that opened into the house, where he found his mistress
awaiting him. She, seeing him come, started up to meet him and
received him with the utmost joy, whilst he clipped and kissed her an
hundred thousand times and followed her up the stair to her chamber,
where, getting them to bed without a moment's delay, they knew the
utmost term of amorous delight. Nor was this first time the last, for
that, what while the gentleman abode at Milan and even after his
coming back, Il Zima returned thither many another time, to the
exceeding satisfaction of both parties."

[Footnote 169: Lit. "The summit," or in modern slang "The tiptop,"
_i.e._ the pink of fashion.]

[Footnote 170: _i.e._ this love shall I bear you. This is a flagrant
instance of the misuse of ellipsis, which so frequently disfigures
Boccaccio's dialogue.]

[Footnote 171: _i.e._ my death.]

[Footnote 172: Syn. a rare or strange means (_nuovo consiglio_). The
word _nuovo_ is constantly used by Boccaccio in the latter sense, as
is _consiglio_ in its remoter signification of means, remedy, etc.]

[Footnote 173: _i.e._ the favour.]

[Footnote 174: _i.e._ the lost six months.]


[Day the Third]


Elisa having no more to say, the queen, after commending the sagacity
of Il Zima, bade Fiammetta proceed with a story, who answered, all
smilingly, "Willingly, Madam," and began thus: "It behoveth somedele
to depart our city (which, like as it aboundeth in all things else, is
fruitful in instances of every subject) and as Elisa hath done, to
recount somewhat of the things that have befallen in other parts of
the world; wherefore, passing over to Naples, I shall tell how one of
those she-saints, who feign themselves so shy of love, was by the
ingenuity of a lover of hers brought to taste the fruits of love, ere
she had known its flowers; the which will at once teach you
circumspection in the things that may hap and afford you diversion of
those already befallen.

In Naples, a very ancient city and as delightful as any in Italy or
maybe more so, there was once a young man, illustrious for nobility of
blood and noted for his much wealth, whose name was Ricciardo
Minutolo. Albeit he had to wife a very fair and lovesome young lady,
he fell in love with one who, according to general opinion, far
overpassed in beauty all the other ladies of Naples. Her name was
Catella and she was the wife of another young gentleman of like
condition, hight Filippello Fighinolfi, whom, like a very virtuous
woman as she was, she loved and cherished over all. Ricciardo, then,
loving this Catella and doing all those things whereby the love and
favour of a lady are commonly to be won, yet for all that availing not
to compass aught of his desire, was like to despair; and unknowing or
unable to rid him of his passion, he neither knew how to die nor did
it profit him to live.

Abiding in this mind, it befell that he was one day urgently exhorted
by certain ladies of his kinsfolk to renounce this passion of his,
seeing he did but weary himself in vain, for that Catella had none
other good than Filippello, of whom she lived in such jealousy that
she fancied every bird that flew through the air would take him from
her. Ricciardo, hearing of Catella's jealousy, forthright bethought
himself how he might compass his wishes and accordingly proceeded to
feign himself in despair of her love and to have therefore set his
mind upon another lady, for whose love he began to make a show of
jousting and tourneying and doing all those things which he had been
used to do for Catella; nor did he do this long before well nigh all
the Neapolitans, and among the rest the lady herself, were persuaded
that he no longer loved Catella, but was ardently enamoured of this
second lady; and on this wise he persisted until it was so firmly
believed not only of others, but of Catella herself, that the latter
laid aside a certain reserve with which she was wont to entreat him,
by reason of the love he bore her, and coming and going, saluted him
familiarly, neighbourwise, as she did others.

It presently befell that, the weather being warm, many companies of
ladies and gentlemen went, according to the usance of the Neapolitans,
to divert themselves on the banks of the sea and there to dine and
sup, and Ricciardo, knowing Catella to be gone thither with her
company, betook himself to the same place with his friends and was
received into Catella's party of ladies, after allowing himself to be
much pressed, as if he had no great mind to abide there. The ladies
and Catella fell to rallying him upon his new love, and he, feigning
himself sore inflamed therewith, gave them the more occasion for
discourse. Presently, one lady going hither and thither, as commonly
happeneth in such places, and Catella being left with a few whereas
Ricciardo was, the latter cast at her a hint of a certain amour of
Filippello her husband, whereupon she fell into a sudden passion of
jealousy and began to be inwardly all afire with impatience to know
what he meant. At last, having contained herself awhile and being
unable to hold out longer, she besought Ricciardo, for that lady's
sake whom he most loved, to be pleased to make her clear[175] of that
which he had said of Filippello; whereupon quoth he, 'You conjure me
by such a person that I dare not deny aught you ask me; wherefore I am
ready to tell it you, so but you promise me that you will never say a
word thereof either to him or to any other, save whenas you shall by
experience have seen that which I shall tell you to be true; for that,
when you please, I will teach you how you may see it.'

[Footnote 175: Or, in modern parlance, to enlighten her.]

The lady consented to that which he asked and swore to him never to
repeat that which he should tell her, believing it the more to be
true. Then, withdrawing apart with her, so they might not be overheard
of any, he proceeded to say thus: 'Madam, an I loved you as once I
loved, I should not dare tell you aught which I thought might vex you;
but, since that love is passed away, I shall be less chary of
discovering to you the whole truth. I know not if Filippello have ever
taken umbrage at the love I bore you or have believed that I was ever
loved of you. Be this as it may, he hath never personally shown me
aught thereof; but now, having peradventure awaited a time whenas he
deemed I should be less suspicious, it seemeth he would fain do unto
me that which I misdoubt me he feareth I have done unto him, to wit,
[he seeketh] to have my wife at his pleasure. As I find, he hath for
some little time past secretly solicited her with sundry messages, all
of which I have known from herself, and she hath made answer thereunto
according as I have enjoined her. This very day, however, ere I came
hither, I found in the house, in close conference with my wife, a
woman whom I set down incontinent for that which she was, wherefore I
called my wife and asked her what the woman wanted. Quoth she, "She is
the agent of Filippello, with whom thou hast saddled me, by dint of
making me answer him and give him hopes, and she saith that he will
e'en know once for all what I mean to do and that, an I will, he
would contrive for me to be privily at a bagnio in this city; nay, of
this he prayeth and importuneth me; and hadst thou not, I know not
why, caused me keep this traffic with him, I would have rid myself of
him after such a fashion that he should never more have looked whereas
I might be." Thereupon meseemed this was going too far and that it was
no longer to be borne; and I bethought myself to tell it to you, so
you might know how he requiteth that entire fidelity of yours, whereby
aforetime I was nigh upon death. And so you shall not believe this
that I tell you to be words and fables, but may, whenas you have a
mind thereto, openly both see and touch it, I caused my wife make this
answer to her who awaited it, that she was ready to be at the bagnio
in question to-morrow at none, whenas the folk sleep; with which the
woman took leave of her, very well pleased. Now methinketh not you
believe that I will send my wife thither; but, were I in your place, I
would contrive that he should find me there in the room of her he
thinketh to meet, and whenas I had abidden with him awhile, I would
give him to know with whom he had been and render him such honour
thereof as should beseem him; by which means methinketh you would do
him such a shame that the affront he would fain put upon yourself and
upon me would at one blow be avenged.'

Catella, hearing this, without anywise considering who it was that
said it to her or suspecting his design, forthright, after the wont of
jealous folk, gave credence to his words and fell a-fitting to his
story certain things that had already befallen; then, fired with
sudden anger, she answered that she would certainly do as he
counselled,--it was no such great matter,--and that assuredly, if
Filippello came thither, she would do him such a shame that it should
still recur to his mind, as often as he saw a woman. Ricciardo, well
pleased at this and himseeming his device was a good one and in a fair
way of success, confirmed her in her purpose with many other words and
strengthened her belief in his story, praying her, natheless, never to
say that she had heard it from him, the which she promised him on her

Next morning, Ricciardo betook himself to a good woman, who kept the
bagnio he had named to Catella, and telling her what he purposed to
do, prayed her to further him therein as most she might. The good
woman, who was much beholden to him, answered that she would well and
agreed with him what she should do and say. Now in the house where the
bagnio was she had a very dark chamber, for that no window gave
thereon by which the light might enter. This chamber she made ready
and spread a bed there, as best she might, wherein Ricciardo, as soon
as he had dined, laid himself and proceeded to await Catella. The
latter, having heard Ricciardo's words and giving more credence
thereto than behoved her, returned in the evening, full of despite, to
her house, whither Filippello also returned and being by chance full
of other thought, maybe did not show her his usual fondness. When she
saw this, her suspicions rose yet higher and she said in herself,
'Forsooth, his mind is occupied with yonder lady with whom he thinketh
to take his pleasure to-morrow; but of a surety this shall not come to
pass.' An in this thought she abode well nigh all that night,
considering how she should bespeak him, whenas she should be with him
[in the bagnio].

What more [need I say?] The hour of none come, she took her
waiting-woman and without anywise changing counsel, repaired to the
bagnio that Ricciardo had named to her, and there finding the good
woman, asked her if Filippello had been there that day, whereupon
quoth the other, who had been duly lessoned by Ricciardo, 'Are you the
lady that should come to speak with him?' 'Ay am I,' answered Catella.
'Then,' said the woman, 'get you in to him.' Catella, who went seeking
that which she would fain not have found, caused herself to be brought
to the chamber where Ricciardo was and entering with covered head,
locked herself in. Ricciardo, seeing her enter, rose joyfully to his
feet and catching her in his arms, said softly, 'Welcome, my soul!'
Whilst she, the better to feign herself other than she was, clipped
him and kissed him and made much of him, without saying a word,
fearing to be known of him if she should speak. The chamber was very
dark, wherewith each of them was well pleased, nor for long abiding
there did the eyes recover more power. Ricciardo carried her to the
bed and there, without speaking, lest their voices should betray them,
they abode a long while, to the greater delight and pleasance of the
one party than the other.

But presently, it seeming to Catella time to vent the resentment she
felt, she began, all afire with rage and despite, to speak thus,
'Alas, how wretched is women's lot and how ill bestowed the love that
many of them bear their husbands! I, unhappy that I am, these eight
years have I loved thee more than my life, and thou, as I have felt,
art all afire and all consumed with love of a strange woman, wicked
and perverse man that thou art! Now with whom thinkest thou to have
been? Thou hast been with her whom thou hast too long beguiled with
thy false blandishments, making a show of love to her and being
enamoured elsewhere. I am Catella, not Ricciardo's wife, disloyal
traitor that thou art! Hearken if thou know my voice; it is indeed I;
and it seemeth to me a thousand years till we be in the light, so I
may shame thee as thou deservest, scurvy discredited cur that thou
art! Alack, woe is me! To whom have I borne so much love these many
years? To this disloyal dog, who, thinking to have a strange woman in
his arms, hath lavished on me more caresses and more fondnesses in
this little while I have been here with him than in all the rest of
the time I have been his. Thou hast been brisk enough to-day, renegade
cur that thou art, that usest at home to show thyself so feeble and
forspent and impotent; but, praised be God, thou hast tilled thine own
field and not, as thou thoughtest, that of another. No wonder thou
camest not anigh me yesternight; thou lookedst to discharge thee of
thy lading elsewhere and wouldst fain come fresh to the battle; but,
thanks to God and my own foresight, the stream hath e'en run in its
due channel. Why answerest thou not, wicked man? Why sayst thou not
somewhat? Art thou grown dumb, hearing me? Cock's faith, I know not
what hindereth me from thrusting my hands into thine eyes and tearing
them out for thee. Thou thoughtest to do this treason very secretly;
but, perdie, one knoweth as much as another; thou hast not availed to
compass thine end; I have had better beagles at thy heels than thou

Ricciardo inwardly rejoiced at these words and without making any
reply, clipped her and kissed her and fondled her more than ever;
whereupon quoth she, following on her speech, 'Ay, thou thinkest to
cajole me with thy feigned caresses, fashious dog that thou art, and
to appease and console me; but thou art mistaken; I shall never be
comforted for this till I have put thee to shame therefor in the
presence of all our friends and kinsmen and neighbours. Am I not as
fair as Ricciardo's wife, thou villain? Am I not as good a
gentlewoman? Why dost thou not answer, thou sorry dog? What hath she
more than I? Keep thy distance; touch me not; thou hast done enough
feats of arms for to-day. Now thou knowest who I am, I am well assured
that all thou couldst do would be perforce; but, so God grant me
grace, I will yet cause thee suffer want thereof, and I know not what
hindereth me from sending for Ricciardo, who hath loved me more than
himself and could never boast that I once even looked at him; nor know
I what harm it were to do it. Thou thoughtest to have his wife here
and it is as if thou hadst had her, inasmuch as it is none of thy
fault that the thing hath miscarried; wherefore, were I to have
himself, thou couldst not with reason blame me.'

Brief, many were the lady's words and sore her complaining. However,
at last, Ricciardo, bethinking himself that, an he let her go in that
belief, much ill might ensue thereof, determined to discover himself
and undeceive her; wherefore, catching her in his arms and holding her
fast, so she might not get away, he said, 'Sweet my soul, be not
angered; that which I could not have of you by simply loving you, Love
hath taught me to obtain by practice; and I am your Ricciardo.'
Catella, hearing this and knowing him by the voice, would have thrown
herself incontinent out of bed, but could not; whereupon she offered
to cry out; but Ricciardo stopped her mouth with one hand and said,
'Madam, this that hath been may henceforth on nowise be undone, though
you should cry all the days of your life; and if you cry out or cause
this ever anywise to be known of any one, two things will come
thereof; the one (which should no little concern you) will be that
your honour and fair fame will be marred, for that, albeit you may
avouch that I brought you hither by practice, I shall say that it is
not true, nay, that I caused you come hither for monies and gifts that
I promised you, whereof for that I gave you not so largely as you
hoped, you waxed angry and made all this talk and this outcry; and you
know that folk are more apt to credit ill than good, wherefore I shall
more readily be believed than you. Secondly, there will ensue thereof
a mortal enmity between your husband and myself, and it may as well
happen that I shall kill him as he me, in which case you are never
after like to be happy or content. Wherefore, heart of my body, go not
about at once to dishonour yourself and to cast your husband and
myself into strife and peril. You are not the first woman, nor will
you be the last, who hath been deceived, nor have I in this practised
upon you to bereave you of your own, but for the exceeding love that
I bear you and am minded ever to bear you and to be your most humble
servant. And although it is long since I and all that I possess or can
or am worth have been yours and at your service, henceforward I
purpose that they shall be more than ever so. Now, you are well
advised in other things and so I am certain you will be in this.'

Catella, what while Ricciardo spoke thus, wept sore, but, albeit she
was sore provoked and complained grievously, nevertheless, her reason
allowed so much force to his true words that she knew it to be
possible that it should happen as he said; wherefore quoth she,
'Ricciardo, I know not how God will vouchsafe me strength to suffer
the affront and the cheat thou hast put upon me; I will well to make
no outcry here whither my simplicity and overmuch jealousy have
brought me; but of this be assured that I shall never be content till
one way or another I see myself avenged of this thou hast done to me.
Wherefore, leave me, hold me no longer; thou hast had that which thou
desiredst and hast tumbled me to thy heart's content; it is time to
leave me; let me go, I prithee.'

Ricciardo, seeing her mind yet overmuch disordered, had laid it to
heart never to leave her till he had gotten his pardon of her;
wherefore, studying with the softest words to appease her, he so
bespoke and so entreated and so conjured her that she was prevailed
upon to make peace with him, and of like accord they abode together a
great while thereafter in the utmost delight. Moreover, Catella,
having thus learned how much more savoury were the lover's kisses than
those of the husband and her former rigour being changed into kind
love-liking for Ricciardo, from that day forth she loved him very
tenderly and thereafter, ordering themselves with the utmost
discretion, they many a time had joyance of their loves. God grant us
to enjoy ours!"


[Day the Third]


Fiammetta being now silent, commended of all, the queen, to lose no
time, forthright committed the burden of discourse to Emilia, who
began thus: "It pleaseth me to return to our city, whence it pleased
the last two speakers to depart, and to show you how a townsman of
ours regained his lost mistress.

There was, then, in Florence a noble youth, whose name was Tedaldo
Elisei and who, being beyond measure enamoured of a lady called Madam
Ermellina, the wife of one Aldobrandino Palermini, deserved for his
praiseworthy fashions, to enjoy his desire. However, Fortune, the
enemy of the happy, denied him this solace, for that, whatever might
have been the cause, the lady, after complying awhile with Tedaldo's
wishes, suddenly altogether withdrew her good graces from him and not
only refused to hearken to any message of his, but would on no wise
see him; wherefore he fell into a dire and cruel melancholy; but his
love for her had been so hidden that none guessed it to be the cause
of his chagrin. After he had in divers ways studied amain to recover
the love himseemed he had lost without his fault and finding all his
labour vain, he resolved to withdraw from the world, that he might not
afford her who was the cause of his ill the pleasure of seeing him
pine away; wherefore, without saying aught to friend or kinsman, save
to a comrade of his, who knew all, he took such monies as he might
avail to have and departing secretly, came to Ancona, where, under the
name of Filippo di Sanlodeccio, he made acquaintance with a rich
merchant and taking service with him, accompanied him to Cyprus on
board a ship of his.

His manners and behaviour so pleased the merchant that he not only
assigned him a good wage, but made him in part his associate and put
into his hands a great part of his affairs, which he ordered so well
and so diligently that in a few years he himself became a rich and
famous and considerable merchant; and albeit, in the midst of these
his dealings, he oft remembered him of his cruel mistress and was
grievously tormented of love and yearned sore to look on her again,
such was his constancy that seven years long he got the better of the
battle. But, chancing one day to hear sing in Cyprus a song that
himself had made aforetime and wherein was recounted the love he bore
his mistress and she him and the pleasure he had of her, and thinking
it could not be she had forgotten him, he flamed up into such a
passion of desire to see her again that, unable to endure longer, he
resolved to return to Florence.

Accordingly, having set all his affairs in order, he betook himself
with one only servant to Ancona and transporting all his good thither,
despatched it to Florence to a friend of the Anconese his partner,
whilst he himself, in the disguise of a pilgrim returning from the
Holy Sepulchre, followed secretly after with his servant and coming to
Florence, put up at a little hostelry kept by two brothers, in the
neighbourhood of his mistress's house, whereto he repaired first of
all, to see her, an he might. However, he found the windows and doors
and all else closed, wherefore his heart misgave him she was dead or
had removed thence and he betook himself, in great concern, to the
house of his brethren, before which he saw four of the latter clad all
in black. At this he marvelled exceedingly and knowing himself so
changed both in habit and person from that which he was used to be,
whenas he departed thence, that he might not lightly be recognized, he
boldly accosted a cordwainer hard by and asked him why they were clad
in black; whereto he answered, 'Yonder men are clad in black for that
it is not yet a fortnight since a brother of theirs, who had not been
here this great while, was murdered, and I understand they have
proved to the court that one Aldobrandino Palermini, who is in prison,
slew him, for that he was a well-wisher of his wife and had returned
hither unknown to be with her.'

Tedaldo marvelled exceedingly that any one should so resemble him as
to be taken for him and was grieved for Aldobrandino's ill fortune.
Then, having learned that the lady was alive and well and it being now
night, he returned, full of various thoughts, to the inn and having
supped with his servant, was put to sleep well nigh at the top of the
house. There, what with the many thoughts that stirred him and the
badness of the bed and peradventure also by reason of the supper,
which had been meagre, half the night passed whilst he had not yet
been able to fall asleep; wherefore, being awake, himseemed about
midnight he heard folk come down into the house from the roof, and
after through the chinks of the chamber-door he saw a light come up
thither. Thereupon he stole softly to the door and putting his eye to
the chink, fell a-spying what this might mean and saw a comely enough
lass who held the light, whilst three men, who had come down from the
roof, made towards her; and after some greetings had passed between
them, one of them said to the girl, 'Henceforth, praised be God, we
may abide secure, since we know now for certain that the death of
Tedaldo Elisei hath been proved by his brethren against Aldobrandino
Palermini, who hath confessed thereto, and judgment is now recorded;
nevertheless, it behoveth to keep strict silence, for that, should it
ever become known that it was we [who slew him], we shall be in the
same danger as is Aldobrandino.' Having thus bespoken the woman, who
showed herself much rejoiced thereat, they left her and going below,
betook themselves to bed.

Tedaldo, hearing this, fell a-considering how many and how great are
the errors which may befall the minds of men, bethinking him first of
his brothers who had bewept and buried a stranger in his stead and
after of the innocent man accused on false suspicion and brought by
untrue witness to the point of death, no less than of the blind
severity of laws and rulers, who ofttimes, under cover of diligent
investigation of the truth, cause, by their cruelties, prove that
which is false and style themselves ministers of justice and of God,
whereas indeed they are executors of iniquity and of the devil; after
which he turned his thought to the deliverance of Aldobrandino and
determined in himself what he should do. Accordingly, arising in the
morning, he left his servant at the inn and betook himself alone,
whenas it seemed to him time, to the house of his mistress, where,
chancing to find the door open, he entered in and saw the lady seated,
all full of tears and bitterness of soul, in a little ground floor
room that was there.

At this sight he was like to weep for compassion of her and drawing
near to her, said, 'Madam, afflict not yourself; your peace is at
hand.' The lady, hearing this, lifted her eyes and said, weeping,
'Good man, thou seemest to me a stranger pilgrim; what knowest thou of
my peace or of my affliction?' 'Madam,' answered Tedaldo, 'I am of
Constantinople and am but now come hither, being sent of God to turn
your tears into laughter and to deliver your husband from death.'
Quoth she, 'An thou be of Constantinople and newly come hither, how
knowest thou who I am or who is my husband?' Thereupon, the pilgrim
beginning from the beginning, recounted to her the whole history of
Aldobrandino's troubles and told her who she was and how long she had
been married and other things which he very well knew of her affairs;
whereat she marvelled exceedingly and holding him for a prophet, fell
on her knees at his feet, beseeching him for God's sake, an he were
come for Aldobrandino's salvation, to despatch, for that the time was

The pilgrim, feigning himself a very holy man, said, 'Madam, arise and
weep not, but hearken well to that which I shall say to you and take
good care never to tell it to any. According to that which God hath
revealed unto me, the tribulation wherein you now are hath betided you
because of a sin committed by you aforetime, which God the Lord hath
chosen in part to purge with this present annoy and will have
altogether amended of you; else will you fall into far greater
affliction.' 'Sir,' answered the lady, 'I have many sins and know not
which one, more than another, God the Lord would have me amend;
wherefore, an you know it, tell me and I will do what I may to amend
it.' 'Madam,' rejoined the pilgrim, 'I know well enough what it is,
nor do I question you thereof the better to know it, but to the intent
that, telling it yourself, you may have the more remorse thereof. But
let us come to the fact; tell me, do you remember, ever to have had a

The lady, hearing this, heaved a deep sigh and marvelled sore,
supposing none had ever known it, albeit, in the days when he was
slain who had been buried for Tedaldo, there had been some whispering
thereof, for certain words not very discreetly used by Tedaldo's
confidant, who knew it; then answered, 'I see that God discovereth
unto you all men's secrets, wherefore I am resolved not to hide mine
own from you. True it is that in my youth I loved over all the
ill-fortuned youth whose death is laid to my husband's charge, which
death I have bewept as sore as it was grievous to me, for that, albeit
I showed myself harsh and cruel to him before his departure, yet
neither his long absence nor his unhappy death hath availed to tear
him from my heart.' Quoth the pilgrim, 'The hapless youth who is dead
you never loved, but Tedaldo Elisei ay.[176] But tell me, what was the
occasion of your falling out with him? Did he ever give you any
offence?' 'Certes, no,' replied she; 'he never offended against me;
the cause of the breach was the prate of an accursed friar, to whom I
once confessed me and who, when I told him of the love I bore Tedaldo
and the privacy I had with him, made such a racket about my ears that
I tremble yet to think of it, telling me that, an I desisted not
therefrom, I should go in the devil's mouth to the deepest deep of
hell and there be cast into everlasting fire; whereupon there entered
into me such a fear that I altogether determined to forswear all
further converse with him, and that I might have no occasion
therefor, I would no longer receive his letters or messages; albeit I
believe, had he persevered awhile, instead of getting him gone (as I
presume) in despair, that, seeing him, as I did, waste away like snow
in the sun, my harsh resolve would have yielded, for that I had no
greater desire in the world.'

[Footnote 176: _i.e._ It was not the dead man, but Tedaldo Elisei whom
you loved. (_Lo sventurato giovane che fu morto non amasti voi mai, ma
Tedaldo Elisei si._)]

'Madam,' rejoined the pilgrim, 'it is this sin alone that now
afflicteth you. I know for certain that Tedaldo did you no manner of
violence; whenas you fell in love with him, you did it of your own
free will, for that he pleased you; and as you yourself would have it,
he came to you and enjoyed your privacy, wherein both with words and
deeds you showed him such complaisance that, if he loved you before,
you caused his love redouble a thousandfold. And this being so (as I
know it was) what cause should have availed to move you so harshly to
withdraw yourself from him? These things should be pondered awhile
beforehand and if you think you may presently have cause to repent
thereof, as of ill doing, you ought not to do them. You might, at your
pleasure, have ordained of him, as of that which belonged to you, that
he should no longer be yours; but to go about to deprive him of
yourself, you who were his, was a theft and an unseemly thing, whenas
it was not his will. Now you must know that I am a friar and am
therefore well acquainted with all their usances; and if I speak
somewhat at large of them for your profit, it is not forbidden me, as
it were to another; nay, and it pleaseth me to speak of them, so you
may henceforward know them better than you appear to have done in the

Friars of old were very pious and worthy men, but those who nowadays
style themselves friars and would be held such have nothing of the
monk but the gown; nor is this latter even that of a true friar, for
that,--whereas of the founders of the monastic orders they[177] were
ordained strait and poor and of coarse stuff and demonstrative[178] of
the spirit of the wearers, who testified that they held things
temporal in contempt whenas they wrapped their bodies in so mean a
habit,--those of our time have them made full and double and glossy
and of the finest cloth and have brought them to a quaint pontifical
cut, insomuch that they think it no shame to flaunt it withal
peacock-wise, in the churches and public places, even as do the laity
with their apparel; and like as with the sweep-net the fisher goeth
about to take many fishes in the river at one cast, even so these,
wrapping themselves about with the amplest of skirts, study to
entangle therein great store of prudish maids and widows and many
other silly women and men, and this is their chief concern over any
other exercise; wherefore, to speak more plainly, they have not the
friar's gown, but only the colours thereof.

[Footnote 177: _i.e._ friars' gowns. Boccaccio constantly uses this
irregular form of enallage, especially in dialogue.]

[Footnote 178: Or, as we should nowadays say, "typical."]

Moreover, whereas the ancients[179] desired the salvation of mankind,
those of our day covet women and riches and turn their every thought
to terrifying the minds of the foolish with clamours and
depicturements[180] and to making believe that sins may be purged with
almsdeeds and masses, to the intent that unto themselves (who, of
poltroonery, not of devoutness, and that they may not suffer
fatigue,[181] have, as a last resort, turned friars) one may bring
bread, another send wine and a third give them a dole of money for the
souls of their departed friends. Certes, it is true that almsdeeds and
prayers purge away sins; but, if those who give alms knew on what
manner folks they bestow them, they would or keep them for themselves
or cast them before as many hogs. And for that these[182] know that,
the fewer the possessors of a great treasure, the more they live at
ease, every one of them studieth with clamours and bugbears to detach
others from that whereof he would fain abide sole possessor. They
decry lust in men, in order that, they who are chidden desisting from
women, the latter may be left to the chiders; they condemn usury and
unjust gains, to the intent that, it being entrusted to them to make
restitution thereof, they may, with that which they declare must bring
to perdition him who hath it, make wide their gowns and purchase
bishopricks and other great benefices.

[Footnote 179: _i.e._ the founders of the monastic orders.]

[Footnote 180: Lit. pictures, paintings (_dipinture_), but evidently
here used in a tropical sense, Boccaccio's apparent meaning being that
the hypocritical friars used to terrify their devotees by picturing to
them, in vivid colours, the horrors of the punishment reserved for

[Footnote 181: _i.e._ may not have to labour for their living.]

[Footnote 182: _i.e._ the false friars.]

And when they are taken to task of these and many other unseemly
things that they do, they think that to answer, "Do as we say and not
as we do," is a sufficient discharge of every grave burden, as if it
were possible for the sheep to be more constant and stouter to resist
temptation[183] than the shepherds. And how many there be of those to
whom they make such a reply who apprehend it not after the
fashion[184] in which they say it, the most part of them know. The
monks of our day would have you do as they say, to wit, fill their
purses with money, trust your secrets to them, observe chastity,
practise patience and forgiveness of injuries and keep yourselves from
evil speaking,--all things good, seemly and righteous; but why would
they have this? So they may do that, which if the laity did,
themselves could not do. Who knoweth not that without money idleness
may not endure? An thou expend thy monies in thy pleasures, the friar
will not be able to idle it in the monastery; an thou follow after
women, there will be no room for him, and except thou be patient or a
forgiver of injuries, he will not dare to come to thy house to corrupt
thy family. But why should I hark back after every particular? They
condemn themselves in the eyes of the understanding as often as they
make this excuse. An they believe not themselves able to abstain and
lead a devout life, why do they not rather abide at home? Or, if they
will e'en give themselves unto this,[185] why do they not ensue that
other holy saying of the Gospel, "Christ began to do and to
teach?"[186] Let them first do and after teach others. I have in my
time seen a thousand of them wooers, lovers and haunters, not of lay
women alone, but of nuns; ay, and of those that make the greatest
outcry in the pulpit. Shall we, then, follow after these who are thus
fashioned? Whoso doth it doth that which he will, but God knoweth if
he do wisely.

[Footnote 183: Lit. more of iron (_più di ferro_).]

[Footnote 184: Sic (_per lo modo_); but _quære_ not rather "in the

[Footnote 185: _i.e._ if they must enter upon this way of life, to
wit, that of the friar.]

[Footnote 186: The reference is apparently to the opening verse of the
Acts of the Apostles, where Luke says, "The former treatise have I
made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and to teach." It
need hardly be remarked that the passage in question does not bear the
interpretation Boccaccio would put upon it.]

But, granted even we are to allow that which the friar who chid you
said to you, to wit, that it is a grievous sin to break the marriage
vow, is it not a far greater sin to rob a man and a greater yet to
slay him or drive him into exile, to wander miserably about the world?
Every one must allow this. For a woman to have converse with a man is
a sin of nature; but to rob him or slay him or drive him into exile
proceedeth from malignity of mind. That you robbed Tedaldo I have
already shown you, in despoiling him of yourself, who had become his
of your spontaneous will, and I say also that, so far as in you lay,
you slew him, for that it was none of your fault,--showing yourself,
as you did, hourly more cruel,--that he slew not himself with his own
hand; and the law willeth that whoso is the cause of the ill that is
done be held alike guilty with him who doth it. And that you were the
cause of his exile and of his going wandering seven years about the
world cannot be denied. So that in whichever one of these three things
aforesaid you have committed a far greater sin than in your converse
with him.

But, let us see; maybe Tedaldo deserved this usage? Certes, he did
not; you yourself have already confessed it, more by token that I know
he loveth[187] you more than himself. No woman was ever so honoured,
so exalted, so magnified over every other of her sex as were you by
him, whenas he found himself where he might fairly speak of you,
without engendering suspicion. His every good, his every honour, his
every liberty were all committed by him into your hands. Was he not
noble and young? Was he not handsome among all his townsmen? Was he
not accomplished in such things as pertain unto young men? Was he not
loved, cherished and well seen of every one? You will not say nay to
this either. Then how, at the bidding of a scurvy, envious numskull of
a friar, could you take such a cruel resolve against him? I know not
what error is that of women who eschew men and hold them in little
esteem, whenas, considering what themselves are and what and how great
is the nobility, beyond every other animal, given of God to man, they
should rather glory whenas they are loved of any and prize him over
all and study with all diligence to please him, so he may never desist
from loving them. This how you did, moved by the prate of a friar,
who must for certain have been some broth-swilling pasty-gorger, you
yourself know; and most like he had a mind to put himself in the place
whence he studied to expel others.

[Footnote 187: _Sic_; but the past tense "loved" is probably intended,
as the pretended pilgrim had not yet discovered Tedaldo to be alive.]

This, then, is the sin that Divine justice, the which with a just
balance bringeth all its operations to effect, hath willed not to
leave unpunished; and even as you without reason studied to withdraw
yourself from Tedaldo, so on like wise hath your husband been and is
yet, without reason, in peril for Tedaldo, and you in tribulation.
Wherefrom an you would be delivered, that which it behoveth you to
promise, and yet more to do, is this; that, should it ever chance that
Tedaldo return hither from his long banishment, you will render him
again your favour, your love, your goodwill and your privacy and
reinstate him in that condition wherein he was, ere you foolishly
hearkened to yonder crack-brained friar.'

The pilgrim having thus made an end of his discourse, the lady, who
had hearkened thereto with the utmost attention, for that his
arguments appeared to her most true and that, hearing him say, she
accounted herself of a certainty afflicted for the sin of which he
spoke, said, 'Friend of God, I know full well that the things you
allege are true, and in great part by your showing do I perceive what
manner of folk are these friars, whom till now I have held all saints.
Moreover, I acknowledge my default without doubt to have been great in
that which I wrought against Tedaldo; and an I might, I would gladly
amend it on such wise as you have said; but how may this be done?
Tedaldo can never more return hither; he is dead; wherefore I know not
why it should behove me promise that which may not be performed.'
'Madam,' replied the pilgrim, 'according to that which God hath
revealed unto me, Tedaldo is nowise dead, but alive and well and in
good case, so but he had your favour.' Quoth the lady, 'Look what you
say; I saw him dead before my door of several knife-thrusts and had
him in these arms and bathed his dead face with many tears, the which
it may be gave occasion for that which hath been spoken thereof
unseemly.' 'Madam,' replied the pilgrim, 'whatever you may say, I
certify you that Tedaldo is alive, and if you will e'en promise me
that [which I ask,] with intent to fulfil your promise, I hope you
shall soon see him.' Quoth she, 'That do I promise and will gladly
perform; nor could aught betide that would afford me such content as
to see my husband free and unharmed and Tedaldo alive.'

Thereupon it seemed to Tedaldo time to discover himself and to comfort
the lady with more certain hope of her husband, and accordingly he
said, 'Madam, in order that I may comfort you for your husband, it
behoveth me reveal to you a secret, which look you discover not unto
any, as you value your life.' Now they were in a very retired place
and alone, the lady having conceived the utmost confidence of the
sanctity which herseemed was in the pilgrim; wherefore Tedaldo,
pulling out a ring, which she had given him the last night he had been
with her and which he had kept with the utmost diligence, and showing
it to her, said, 'Madam, know you this?' As soon as she saw it, she
recognized it and answered, 'Ay, sir; I gave it to Tedaldo aforetime.'
Whereupon the pilgrim, rising to his feet, hastily cast off his
palmer's gown and hat and speaking Florence-fashion, said, 'And know
you me?'

When the lady saw this, she knew him to be Tedaldo and was all aghast,
fearing him as one feareth the dead, an they be seen after death to go
as if alive; wherefore she made not towards him to welcome him as
Tedaldo returned from Cyprus, but would have fled from him in
affright, as he were Tedaldo come back from the tomb. Whereupon,
'Madam,' quoth he, 'fear not; I am your Tedaldo, alive and well, and
have never died nor been slain, whatsoever you and my brothers may
believe.' The lady, somewhat reassured and knowing his voice,
considered him awhile longer and avouched in herself that he was
certainly Tedaldo; wherefore she threw herself, weeping, on his neck
and kissed him, saying, 'Welcome back, sweet my Tedaldo.'

Tedaldo, having kissed and embraced her, said, 'Madam, it is no time
now for closer greetings; I must e'en go take order that Aldobrandino
may be restored to you safe and sound; whereof I hope that, ere
to-morrow come eventide, you shall hear news that will please you;
nay, if, as I expect, I have good news of his safety, I trust this
night to be able to come to you and report them to you at more leisure
than I can at this present.' Then, donning his gown and hat again, he
kissed the lady once more and bidding her be of good hope, took leave
of her and repaired whereas Aldobrandino lay in prison, occupied more
with fear of imminent death than with hopes of deliverance to come.
Tedaldo, with the gaoler's consent, went in to him, in the guise of a
ghostly comforter, and seating himself by his side, said to him,
'Aldobrandino, I am a friend of thine, sent thee for thy deliverance
by God, who hath taken pity on thee because of thine innocence;
wherefore, if, in reverence to Him, thou wilt grant me a little boon
that I shall ask of thee, thou shalt without fail, ere to-morrow be
night, whereas thou lookest for sentence of death, hear that of thine

'Honest man,' replied the prisoner, 'since thou art solicitous of my
deliverance, albeit I know thee not nor mind me ever to have seen
thee, needs must thou be a friend, as thou sayst. In truth, the sin,
for which they say I am to be doomed to death, I never committed;
though others enough have I committed aforetime, which, it may be,
have brought me to this pass. But this I say to thee, of reverence to
God; an He presently have compassion on me, I will not only promise,
but gladly do any thing, however great, to say nothing of a little
one; wherefore ask that which pleaseth thee, for without fail, if it
come to pass that I escape with life, I will punctually perform it.'
Then said the pilgrim, 'What I would have of thee is that thou pardon
Tedaldo's four brothers the having brought thee to this pass,
believing thee guilty of their brother's death, and have them again
for brethren and for friends, whenas they crave thee pardon thereof.'
Whereto quoth Aldobrandino, 'None knoweth but he who hath suffered the
affront how sweet a thing is vengeance and with what ardour it is
desired; nevertheless, so God may apply Himself to my deliverance, I
will freely pardon them; nay, I pardon them now, and if I come off
hence alive and escape, I will in this hold such course as shall be
to thy liking.'

This pleased the pilgrim and without concerning himself to say more to
him, he exhorted him to be of good heart, for that, ere the ensuing
day came to an end, he should without fail hear very certain news of
his safety. Then, taking leave of him, he repaired to the Seignory and
said privily to a gentleman who was in session there, 'My lord, every
one should gladly labour to bring to light the truth of things, and
especially those who hold such a room as this of yours, to the end
that those may not suffer the penalty who have not committed the crime
and that the guilty may be punished; that which may be brought about,
to your honour and the bane of those who have merited it, I am come
hither to you. As you know, you have rigorously proceeded against
Aldobrandino Palermini and thinking you have found for truth that it
was he who slew Tedaldo Elisei, are minded to condemn him; but this is
most certainly false, as I doubt not to show you, ere midnight betide,
by giving into your hands the murderers of the young man in question.'

The worthy gentleman, who was in concern for Aldobrandino, willingly
gave ear to the pilgrim's words and having conferred at large with him
upon the matter, on his information, took the two innkeeper brothers
and their servant, without resistance, in their first sleep. He would
have put them to the question, to discover how the case stood; but
they brooked it not and each first for himself, and after all
together, openly confessed that it was they who had slain Tedaldo
Elisei, knowing him not. Being questioned of the case, they said [that
it was] for that he had given the wife of one of them sore annoy, what
while they were abroad, and would fain have enforced her to do his

The pilgrim, having heard this, with the magistrate's consent took his
leave and repairing privily to the house of Madam Ermellina, found her
alone and awaiting him, (all else in the house being gone to sleep,)
alike desirous of having good news of her husband and of fully
reconciling herself with her Tedaldo. He accosted her with a joyful
countenance and said, 'Dearest lady mine, be of good cheer, for
to-morrow thou shalt certainly have thine Aldobrandino here again safe
and sound'; and to give her more entire assurance thereof, he fully
recounted to her that which he had done. Whereupon she, glad as ever
woman was of two so sudden and so happy chances, to wit, the having
her lover alive again, whom she verily believed to have bewept dead,
and the seeing Aldobrandino free from peril, whose death she looked
ere many days to have to mourn, affectionately embraced and kissed
Tedaldo; then, getting them to bed together, with one accord they made
a glad and gracious peace, taking delight and joyance one of the
other. Whenas the day drew near, Tedaldo arose, after showing the lady
that which he purposed to do and praying her anew to keep it a close
secret, and went forth, even in his pilgrim's habit, to attend, whenas
it should be time, to Aldobrandino's affairs. The day come, it
appearing to the Seignory that they had full information of the
matter, they straightway discharged Aldobrandino and a few days after
let strike off the murderers' heads whereas they had committed the

Aldobrandino being now, to the great joy of himself and his wife and
of all his friends and kinsfolk, free and manifestly acknowledging
that he owed his deliverance to the good offices of the pilgrim,
carried the latter to his house for such time as it pleased him to
sojourn in the city; and there they could not sate themselves of doing
him honour and worship, especially the lady, who knew with whom she
had to do. After awhile, deeming it time to bring his brothers to an
accord with Aldobrandino and knowing that they were not only put to
shame by the latter's acquittance, but went armed for fear [of his
resentment,] he demanded of his host the fulfilment of his promise.
Aldobrandino freely answered that he was ready, whereupon the pilgrim
caused him prepare against the morrow a goodly banquet, whereat he
told him he would have him and his kinsmen and kinswomen entertain the
four brothers and their ladies, adding that he himself would go
incontinent and bid the latter on his part to peace and his banquet.
Aldobrandino consenting to all that liked the pilgrim, the latter
forthright betook himself to the four brothers and plying them with
store of such words as behoved unto the matter, in fine, with
irrepugnable arguments, brought them easily enough to consent to
regain Aldobrandino's friendship by asking pardon; which done, he
invited them and their ladies to dinner with Aldobrandino next
morning, and they, being certified of his good faith, frankly accepted
the invitation.

Accordingly, on the morrow, towards dinner-time, Tedaldo's four
brothers, clad all in black as they were, came, with sundry of their
friends, to the house of Aldobrandino, who stayed for them, and there,
in the presence of all who had been bidden of him to bear them
company, cast down their arms and committed themselves to his mercy,
craving forgiveness of that which they had wrought against him.
Aldobrandino, weeping, received them affectionately, and kissing them
all on the mouth, despatched the matter in a few words, remitting unto
them every injury received. After them came their wives and sisters,
clad all in sad-coloured raiment, and were graciously received by
Madam Ermellina and the other ladies. Then were all, ladies and men
alike, magnificently entertained at the banquet, nor was there aught
in the entertainment other than commendable, except it were the
taciturnity occasioned by the yet fresh sorrow expressed in the sombre
raiment of Tedaldo's kinsfolk. Now on this account the pilgrim's
device of the banquet had been blamed of some and he had observed it;
wherefore, the time being come to do away with the constraint
aforesaid, he rose to his feet, according as he had foreordained in
himself, what while the rest still ate of the fruits, and said,
'Nothing hath lacked to this entertainment that should make it joyful,
save only Tedaldo himself; whom (since having had him continually with
you, you have not known him) I will e'en discover to you.'

So saying, he cast off his palmer's gown and all other his pilgrim's
weeds and abiding in a jerkin of green sendal, was with no little
amazement, long eyed and considered of all, ere any would venture to
believe it was indeed he. Tedaldo, seeing this, recounted many
particulars of the relations and things betided between them, as well
as of his own adventures; whereupon his brethren and the other
gentlemen present ran all to embrace him, with eyes full of joyful
tears, as after did the ladies on like wise, as well strangers as
kinswomen, except only Madam Ermellina. Which Aldobrandino seeing,
'What is this, Ermellina?' quoth he. 'Why dost thou not welcome
Tedaldo, as do the other ladies?' Whereto she answered, in the hearing
of all, 'There is none who had more gladly welcomed and would yet
welcome him than myself, who am more beholden to him than any other
woman, seeing that by his means I have gotten thee again; but the
unseemly words spoken in the days when we mourned him whom we deemed
Tedaldo made me refrain therefrom.' Quoth her husband, 'Go to;
thinkest thou I believe in the howlers?[188] He hath right well shown
their prate to be false by procuring my deliverance; more by token
that I never believed it. Quick, rise and go and embrace him.'

[Footnote 188: Lit. barkers (_abbajatori_), _i.e._ slanderers.]

The lady, who desired nothing better, was not slow to obey her husband
in this and accordingly, arising, embraced Tedaldo, as the other
ladies had done, and gave him joyous welcome. This liberality of
Aldobrandino was mighty pleasing to Tedaldo's brothers and to every
man and woman there, and thereby all suspect[189] that had been
aroused in the minds of some by the words aforesaid was done away.
Then, every one having given Tedaldo joy, he with his own hands rent
the black clothes on his brothers' backs and the sad-coloured on those
of his sisters and kinswomen and would have them send after other
apparel, which whenas they had donned, they gave themselves to singing
and dancing and other diversions galore; wherefore the banquet, which
had had a silent beginning had a loud-resounding ending. Thereafter,
with the utmost mirth, they one and all repaired, even as they were,
to Tedaldo's house, where they supped that night, and on this wise
they continued to feast several days longer.

[Footnote 189: Lit. despite, rancour (_rugginuzza_), but the phrase
appears to refer to the suspicions excited by the whispers that had
been current, as above mentioned, of the connection between Ermellina
and Tedaldo.]

The Florentines awhile regarded Tedaldo with amazement, as a man risen
from the dead; nay, in many an one's mind, and even in that of his
brethren, there abode a certain faint doubt an he were indeed himself
and they did not yet thoroughly believe it, nor belike had they
believed it for a long time to come but for a chance which made them
clear who the murdered man was which was on this wise. There passed
one day before their house certain footmen[190] of Lunigiana, who,
seeing Tedaldo, made towards him and said, 'Give you good day,
Faziuolo.' Whereto Tedaldo in his brothers' presence answered, 'You
mistake me.' The others, hearing him speak, were abashed and cried him
pardon, saying, 'Forsooth you resemble, more than ever we saw one man
favour another, a comrade of ours called Faziuolo of Pontremoli, who
came hither some fortnight or more agone, nor could we ever since
learn what is come of him. Indeed, we marvelled at the dress, for that
he was a soldier, even as we are.' Tedaldo's elder brother, hearing
this, came forward and enquired how this Faziuolo had been clad. They
told him and it was found to have been punctually as they said;
wherefore, what with these and what with other tokens, it was known
for certain that he who had been slain was Faziuolo and not Tedaldo,
and all doubt of the latter[191] accordingly departed [the minds of]
his brothers and of every other. Tedaldo, then, being returned very
rich, persevered in his love and the lady falling out with him no
more, they long, discreetly dealing, had enjoyment of their love. God
grant us to enjoy ours!"

[Footnote 190: _i.e._ foot-soldiers.]

[Footnote 191: _i.e._ of his identity.]


[Day the Third]


The end being come of Emilia's long story,--which had not withal for
its length been unpleasing to any of the company, nay, but was held of
all the ladies to have been briefly narrated, having regard to the
number and diversity of the incidents therein recounted,--the queen,
having with a mere sign intimated her pleasure to Lauretta, gave her
occasion to begin thus: "Dearest ladies, there occurreth to me to tell
you a true story which hath much more semblance of falsehood than of
that which it indeed is and which hath been recalled to my mind by
hearing one to have been bewept and buried for another. I purpose
then, to tell you how a live man was entombed for dead and how after
he and many other folk believed himself to have come forth of the
sepulchre as one raised from the dead, by reason whereof he[192] was
adored as a saint who should rather have been condemned as a criminal.

[Footnote 192: _i.e._ the abbot who played the trick upon Ferondo. See

There was, then, and yet is, in Tuscany, an abbey situate, like as we
see many thereof, in a place not overmuch frequented of men, whereof a
monk was made abbot, who was a very holy man in everything, save in
the matter of women, and in this he contrived to do so warily that
well nigh none, not to say knew, but even suspected him thereof, for
that he was holden exceeding godly and just in everything. It chanced
that a very wealthy farmer, by name Ferondo, contracted a great
intimacy with him, a heavy, clodpate fellow and dull-witted beyond
measure, whose commerce pleased the abbot but for that his simplicity
whiles afforded him some diversion, and in the course of their
acquaintance, the latter perceived that Ferondo had a very handsome
woman to wife, of whom he became so passionately enamoured that he
thought of nothing else day or night; but, hearing that, simple and
shallow-witted as Ferondo was in everything else, he was shrewd enough
in the matter of loving and guarding his wife, he well nigh despaired
of her.

However, like a very adroit man as he was, he wrought on such wise
with Ferondo that he came whiles, with his wife, to take his pleasance
in the abbey-garden, and there he very demurely entertained them with
discourse of the beatitude of the life eternal and of the pious works
of many men and women of times past, insomuch that the lady was taken
with a desire to confess herself to him and asked and had Ferondo's
leave thereof. Accordingly, to the abbot's exceeding pleasure, she
came to confess to him and seating herself at his feet, before she
proceeded to say otherwhat, began thus: 'Sir, if God had given me a
right husband or had given me none, it would belike be easy to me,
with the help of your exhortations, to enter upon the road which you
say leadeth folk unto life eternal; but I, having regard to what
Ferondo is and to his witlessness, may style myself a widow, and yet I
am married, inasmuch as, he living, I can have no other husband; and
dolt as he is, he is without any cause, so out of all measure jealous
of me that by reason thereof I cannot live with him otherwise than in
tribulation and misery; wherefore, ere I come to other confession, I
humbly beseech you, as most I may, that it may please you give me some
counsel concerning this, for that, an the occasion of my well-doing
begin not therefrom, confession or other good work will profit me

This speech gave the abbot great satisfaction and himseemed fortune
had opened him the way to his chief desire; wherefore, 'Daughter,'
quoth he, 'I can well believe that it must be a sore annoy for a fair
and dainty dame such as you are to have a blockhead to husband, but a
much greater meseemeth to have a jealous man; wherefore, you having
both the one and the other, I can lightly credit that which you avouch
of your tribulation. But for this, speaking briefly, I see neither
counsel nor remedy save one, the which is that Ferondo be cured of
this jealousy. The medicine that will cure him I know very well how to
make, provided you have the heart to keep secret that which I shall
tell you.' 'Father mine,' answered the lady, 'have no fear of that,
for I would liefer suffer death than tell any that which you bid me
not repeat; but how may this be done?' Quoth the abbot, 'An we would
have him cured, it behoveth of necessity that he go to purgatory.'
'But how,' asked she, 'can he go thither alive?' 'Needs must he die,'
replied the abbot, 'and so go thither; and whenas he shall have
suffered such penance as shall suffice to purge him of his jealousy,
we will pray God, with certain orisons that he restore him to this
life, and He will do it.' 'Then,' said the lady, 'I am to become a
widow?' 'Ay,' answered the abbot, 'for a certain time, wherein you
must look well you suffer not yourself to be married again, for that
God would take it in ill part, and whenas Ferondo returned hither, it
would behove you return to him and he would then be more jealous than
ever.' Quoth she, 'Provided he be but cured of this calamity, so it
may not behove me abide in prison all my life, I am content; do as it
pleaseth you.' 'And I will do it,'[193] rejoined he; 'but what guerdon
am I to have of you for such a service?' 'Father,' answered the lady,
'you shall have whatsoever pleaseth you, so but it be in my power; but
what can the like of me that may befit such a man as yourself?'
'Madam,' replied the abbot 'you can do no less for me than that which
I undertake to do for you; for that, like as I am disposed to do that
which is to be your weal and your solacement, even so can you do that
which will be the saving and assainment of my life.' Quoth she, 'An it
be so, I am ready.' 'Then,' said the abbot, 'you must give me your
love and vouchsafe me satisfaction of yourself, for whom I am all
afire with love and languishment.'

[Footnote 193: _i.e._ I will cure your husband of his jealousy.]

The lady, hearing this, was all aghast and answered, 'Alack, father
mine, what is this you ask? Methought you were a saint. Doth it beseem
holy men to require women, who come to them for counsel, of such
things?' 'Fair my soul,' rejoined the abbot, 'marvel not, for that
sanctity nowise abateth by this, seeing it hath its seat in the soul
and that which I ask of you is a sin of the body. But, be that as it
may, your ravishing beauty hath had such might that love constraineth
me to do thus; and I tell you that you may glory in your charms over
all other women, considering that they please holy men, who are used
to look upon the beauties of heaven. Moreover, abbot though I be, I am
a man like another and am, as you see, not yet old. Nor should this
that I ask be grievous to you to do; nay, you should rather desire it,
for that, what while Ferondo sojourneth in purgatory, I will bear you
company by night and render you that solacement which he should give
you; nor shall any ever come to know of this, for that every one
believeth of me that, and more than that, which you but now believed
of me. Reject not the grace that God sendeth you, for there be women
enough who covet that which you may have and shall have, if, like a
wise woman, you hearken to my counsel. Moreover, I have fair and
precious jewels, which I purpose shall belong to none other than
yourself. Do, then, for me, sweet my hope, that which I willingly do
for you.'

The lady hung her head, knowing not how to deny him, whilst herseemed
it were ill done to grant him what he asked; but the abbot, seeing
that she hearkened and hesitated to reply and himseeming he had
already half converted her, followed up his first words with many
others and stayed not till he had persuaded her that she would do well
to comply with him. Accordingly, she said, blushing, that she was
ready to do his every commandment, but might not avail thereto till
such time as Ferondo should be gone to purgatory; whereupon quoth the
abbot, exceeding well pleased, 'And we will make shift to send him
thither incontinent; do you but contrive that he come hither to-morrow
or next day to sojourn with me.' So saying, he privily put a very
handsome ring into her hand and dismissed her. The lady rejoiced at
the gift and looking to have others, rejoined her companions, to whom
she fell to relating marvellous things of the abbot's sanctity, and
presently returned home with them.

A few days after Ferondo repaired to the abbey, whom, whenas the abbot
saw, he cast about to send him to purgatory. Accordingly, he sought
out a powder of marvellous virtue, which he had gotten in the parts of
the Levant of a great prince who avouched it to be that which was wont
to be used of the Old Man of the Mountain,[194] whenas he would fain
send any one, sleeping, into his paradise or bring him forth thereof,
and that, according as more or less thereof was given, without doing
any hurt, it made him who took it sleep more or less [time] on such
wise that, whilst its virtue lasted, none would say he had life in
him. Of this he took as much as might suffice to make a man sleep
three days and putting it in a beaker of wine, that was not yet well
cleared, gave it to Ferondo to drink in his cell, without the latter
suspecting aught; after which he carried him into the cloister and
there with some of his monks fell to making sport of him and his
dunceries; nor was it long before, the powder working, Ferondo was
taken with so sudden and overpowering a drowsiness, that he slumbered
as yet he stood afoot and presently fell down fast asleep.

[Footnote 194: The well-known chief of the Assassins (properly
_Heshashin_, _i.e._ hashish or hemp eaters). The powder in question is
apparently a preparation of hashish or hemp. Boccaccio seems to have
taken his idea of the Old Man of the Mountain from Marco Polo, whose
travels, published in the early part of the fourteenth century, give a
most romantic account of that chieftain and his followers.]

The abbot made a show of being concerned at this accident and letting
untruss him, caused fetch cold water and cast it in his face and essay
many other remedies of his fashion, as if he would recall the strayed
life and senses from [the oppression of] some fumosity of the stomach
or what not like affection that had usurped them. The monks, seeing
that for all this he came not to himself and feeling his pulse, but
finding no sign of life in him, all held it for certain that he was
dead. Accordingly, they sent to tell his wife and his kinsfolk, who
all came thither forthright, and the lady having bewept him awhile
with her kinswomen, the abbot caused lay him, clad as he was, in a
tomb; whilst the lady returned to her house and giving out that she
meant never to part from a little son, whom she had had by her
husband, abode at home and occupied herself with the governance of the
child and of the wealth which had been Ferondo's. Meanwhile, the abbot
arose stealthily in the night and with the aid of a Bolognese monk, in
whom he much trusted and who was that day come thither from Bologna,
took up Ferondo out of the tomb and carried him into a vault, in which
there was no light to be seen and which had been made for prison of
such of the monks as should make default in aught. There they pulled
off his garments and clothing him monk-fashion, laid him on a truss of
straw and there left him against he should recover his senses, whilst
the Bolognese monk, having been instructed by the abbot of that which
he had to do, without any else knowing aught thereof, proceeded to
await his coming to himself.

On the morrow, the abbot, accompanied by sundry of his monks, betook
himself, by way of visitation, to the house of the lady, whom he found
clad in black and in great tribulation, and having comforted her
awhile, he softly required her of her promise. The lady, finding
herself free and unhindered of Ferondo or any other and seeing on his
finger another fine ring, replied that she was ready and appointed him
to come to her that same night. Accordingly, night come, the abbot,
disguised in Ferondo's clothes and accompanied by the monk his
confidant, repaired thither and lay with her in the utmost delight and
pleasance till the morning, when he returned to the abbey. After this
he very often made the same journey on a like errand and being whiles
encountered, coming or going, of one or another of the villagers, it
was believed he was Ferondo who went about those parts, doing penance;
by reason whereof many strange stories were after bruited about among
the simple countryfolk, and this was more than once reported to
Ferondo's wife, who well knew what it was.

As for Ferondo, when he recovered his senses and found himself he knew
not where, the Bolognese monk came in to him with a horrible noise and
laying hold of him, gave him a sound drubbing with a rod he had in his
hand. Ferondo, weeping and crying out, did nought but ask, 'Where am
I?' To which the monk answered, 'Thou art in purgatory.' 'How?' cried
Ferondo. 'Am I then dead?' 'Ay, certes,' replied the other; whereupon
Ferondo fell to bemoaning himself and his wife and child, saying the
oddest things in the world. Presently the monk brought him somewhat of
meat and drink, which Ferondo seeing, 'What!' cried he. 'Do the dead
eat?' 'Ay do they,' answered the monk. 'This that I bring thee is what
the woman, thy wife that was, sent this morning to the church to let
say masses for thy soul, and God the Lord willeth that it be made over
to thee.' Quoth Ferondo, 'God grant her a good year! I still cherished
her ere I died, insomuch that I held her all night in mine arms and
did nought but kiss her, and t' other thing also I did, when I had a
mind thereto.' Then, being very sharp-set, he fell to eating and
drinking and himseeming the wine was not overgood, 'Lord confound
her!' quoth he. 'Why did not she give the priest wine of the cask
against the wall?'

After he had eaten, the monk laid hold of him anew and gave him
another sound beating with the same rod; whereat Ferondo roared out
lustily and said, 'Alack, why dost thou this to me?' Quoth the monk,
'Because thus hath God the Lord ordained that it be done unto thee
twice every day.' 'And for what cause?' asked Ferondo. 'Because,'
answered the monk, 'thou wast jealous, having the best woman in the
country to wife.' 'Alas!' said Ferondo. 'Thou sayst sooth, ay, and the
kindest creature; she was sweeter than syrup; but I knew not that God
the Lord held it for ill that a man should be jealous; else had I not
been so.' Quoth the monk, 'Thou shouldst have bethought thyself of
that, whenas thou wast there below,[195] and have amended thee
thereof; and should it betide that thou ever return thither, look thou
so have in mind that which I do unto thee at this present that thou be
nevermore jealous.' 'What?' said Ferondo. 'Do the dead ever return
thither?' 'Ay,' answered the monk; 'whom God willeth.' 'Marry,' cried
Ferondo, 'and I ever return thither, I will be the best husband in the
world; I will never beat her nor give her an ill word, except it be
anent the wine she sent hither this morning and for that she sent no
candles, so it behoved me to eat in the dark.' 'Nay,' said the monk,
'she sent candles enough, but they were all burnt for the masses.'
'True,' rejoined Ferondo; 'and assuredly, an I return thither, I will
let her do what she will. But tell me, who art thou that usest me
thus?' Quoth the monk, 'I also am dead. I was of Sardinia and for that
aforetime I much commended a master of mine of being jealous, I have
been doomed of God to this punishment, that I must give thee to eat
and drink and beat thee thus, till such time as God shall ordain
otherwhat of thee and of me.' Then said Ferondo, 'Is there none here
other than we twain?' 'Ay,' answered the monk, 'there be folk by the
thousands; but thou canst neither see nor hear them, nor they thee.'
Quoth Ferondo, 'And how far are we from our own countries?' 'Ecod,'
replied the other, 'we are distant thence more miles than we can well
cack at a bout.' 'Faith,' rejoined the farmer, 'that is far enough;
meseemeth we must be out of the world, an it be so much as all that.'

[Footnote 195: _i.e._ in the sublunary world.]

In such and the like discourse was Ferondo entertained half a score
months with eating and drinking and beating, what while the abbot
assiduously visited the fair lady, without miscarriage, and gave
himself the goodliest time in the world with her. At last, as ill-luck
would have it, the lady found herself with child and straightway
acquainted the abbot therewith, wherefore it seemed well to them both
that Ferondo should without delay be recalled from purgatory to life
and return to her, so she might avouch herself with child by him.
Accordingly, the abbot that same night caused call to Ferondo in
prison with a counterfeit voice, saying, 'Ferondo, take comfort, for
it is God's pleasure that thou return to the world, where thou shalt
have a son by thy wife, whom look thou name Benedict, for that by the
prayers of thy holy abbot and of thy wife and for the love of St.
Benedict He doth thee this favour.' Ferondo, hearing this, was
exceedingly rejoiced and said, 'It liketh me well, Lord grant a good
year to Seignior God Almighty and to the abbot and St. Benedict and my
cheesy[196] sweet honey wife.' The abbot let give him, in the wine
that he sent him, so much of the powder aforesaid as should cause him
sleep maybe four hours and with the aid of his monk, having put his
own clothes on him, restored him privily to the tomb wherein he had
been buried.

[Footnote 196: _Sic_ (_casciata_); meaning that he loves her as well
as he loves cheese, for which it is well known that the lower-class
Italian has a romantic passion. According to Alexandre Dumas, the
Italian loves cheese so well that he has succeeded in introducing it
into everything he eats or drinks, with the one exception of coffee.]

Next morning, at break of day, Ferondo came to himself and espying
light,--a thing which he had not seen for good ten months,--through
some crevice of the tomb, doubted not but he was alive again.
Accordingly, he fell to bawling out, 'Open to me! Open to me!' and
heaving so lustily at the lid of the tomb with his head that he
stirred it, for that it was eath to move, and had begun to move it
away, when the monks, having now made an end of saying matins, ran
thither and knew Ferondo's voice and saw him in act to come forth of
the sepulchre; whereupon, all aghast for the strangeness of the case,
they took to their heels and ran to the abbot, who made a show of
rising from prayer and said, 'My sons, have no fear; take the cross
and the holy water and follow after me, so we may see that which God
willeth to show forth to us of His might'; and as he said, so he did.

Now Ferondo was come forth of the sepulchre all pale, as well might he
be who had so long abidden without seeing the sky. As soon as he saw
the abbot, he ran to cast himself at his feet and said, 'Father mine,
according to that which hath been revealed to me, your prayers and
those of St. Benedict and my wife have delivered me from the pains of
purgatory and restored me to life, wherefore I pray God to give you a
good year and good calends now and always.' Quoth the abbot, 'Praised
be God His might! Go, my son, since He hath sent thee back hither;
comfort thy wife, who hath been still in tears, since thou departedst
this life, and henceforth be a friend and servant of God.' 'Sir,'
replied Ferondo, 'so hath it indeed been said to me; only leave me do;
for, as soon as I find her, I shall buss her, such goodwill do I bear

The abbot, left alone with his monks, made a great show of wonderment
at this miracle and caused devoutly sing Miserere therefor. As for
Ferondo, he returned to his village, where all who saw him fled, as
men use to do from things frightful; but he called them back and
avouched himself to be raised up again. His wife on like wise feigned
to be adread of him; but, after the folk were somewhat reassured anent
him and saw that he was indeed alive, they questioned him of many
things, and he, as it were he had returned wise, made answer to all
and gave them news of the souls of their kinsfolk, making up, of his
own motion, the finest fables in the world of the affairs of purgatory
and recounting in full assembly the revelation made him by the mouth
of the Rangel Bragiel[197] ere he was raised up again. Then, returning
to his house and entering again into possession of his goods, he got
his wife, as he thought, with child, and by chance it befell that, in
due time,--to the thinking of the fools who believe that women go just
nine months with child,--the lady gave birth to a boy, who was called
Benedict Ferondi.[198]

[Footnote 197: _i.e._ the Angel Gabriel.]

[Footnote 198: The plural of a surname is, in strictness, always used
by the Italians in speaking of a man by his full name, _dei_ being
understood between the Christian and surname, as _Benedetto_ (_dei_)
_Ferondi_, Benedict of the Ferondos or Ferondo family, whilst, when he
is denominated by the surname alone, it is used in the singular, _il_
(the) being understood, _e.g._ (Il) Boccaccio, (Il) Ferondo, _i.e._
the particular Boccaccio or Ferondo in question for the nonce.]

Ferondo's return and his talk, well nigh every one believing him to
have risen from the dead, added infinitely to the renown of the
abbot's sanctity, and he himself, as if cured of his jealousy by the
many beatings he had received therefor, thenceforward, according to
the promise made by the abbot to the lady, was no more jealous;
whereat she was well pleased and lived honestly with him, as of her
wont, save indeed that, whenas she conveniently might, she willingly
foregathered with the holy abbot, who had so well and diligently
served her in her greatest needs."


[Day the Third]


Lauretta's story being now ended, it rested but with the queen to
tell, an she would not infringe upon Dioneo's privilege; wherefore,
without waiting to be solicited by her companions, she began all
blithesomely to speak thus: "Who shall tell a story that may appear
goodly, now we have heard that of Lauretta? Certes, it was well for us
that hers was not the first, for that few of the others would have
pleased after it, as I misdoubt me[199] will betide of those which are
yet to tell this day. Natheless, be that as it may, I will e'en
recount to you that which occurreth to me upon the proposed theme.

[Footnote 199: Lit. and so I hope (_spero_), a curious instance of the
ancient Dantesque use of the word _spero_, I hope, in its contrary
sense of fear.]

There was in the kingdom of France a gentleman called Isnard, Count of
Roussillon, who, for that he was scant of health, still entertained
about his person a physician, by name Master Gerard de Narbonne. The
said count had one little son, and no more, hight Bertrand, who was
exceeding handsome and agreeable, and with him other children of his
own age were brought up. Among these latter was a daughter of the
aforesaid physician, by name Gillette, who vowed to the said Bertrand
an infinite love and fervent more than pertained unto her tender
years. The count dying and leaving his son in the hands of the king,
it behoved him betake himself to Paris, whereof the damsel abode sore
disconsolate, and her own father dying no great while after, she would
fain, an she might have had a seemly occasion, have gone to Paris to
see Bertrand: but, being straitly guarded, for that she was left rich
and alone, she saw no honourable way thereto; and being now of age for
a husband and having never been able to forget Bertrand, she had,
without reason assigned, refused many to whom her kinsfolk would have
married her.

Now it befell that, what while she burned more than ever for love of
Bertrand, for that she heard he was grown a very goodly gentleman,
news came to her how the King of France, by an imposthume which he had
had in his breast and which had been ill tended, had gotten a fistula,
which occasioned him the utmost anguish and annoy, nor had he yet been
able to find a physician who might avail to recover him thereof,
albeit many had essayed it, but all had aggravated the ill; wherefore
the king, despairing of cure, would have no more counsel nor aid of
any. Hereof the young lady was beyond measure content and bethought
herself that not only would this furnish her with a legitimate
occasion of going to Paris, but that, should the king's ailment be
such as she believed, she might lightly avail to have Bertrand to
husband. Accordingly, having aforetime learned many things of her
father, she made a powder of certain simples useful for such an
infirmity as she conceived the king's to be and taking horse, repaired
to Paris.

Before aught else she studied to see Bertrand and next, presenting
herself before the king, she prayed him of his favour to show her his
ailment. The king, seeing her a fair and engaging damsel, knew not how
to deny her and showed her that which ailed him. Whenas she saw it,
she was certified incontinent that she could heal it and accordingly
said, 'My lord, an it please you, I hope in God to make you whole of
this your infirmity in eight days' time, without annoy or fatigue on
your part.' The king scoffed in himself at her words, saying, 'That
which the best physicians in the world have availed not neither known
to do, how shall a young woman know?' Accordingly, he thanked her for
her good will and answered that he was resolved no more to follow the
counsel of physicians. Whereupon quoth the damsel, 'My lord, you make
light of my skill, for that I am young and a woman; but I would have
you bear in mind that I medicine not of mine own science, but with the
aid of God and the science of Master Gerard de Narbonne, who was my
father and a famous physician whilst he lived.'

The king, hearing this, said in himself, 'It may be this woman is sent
me of God; why should I not make proof of her knowledge, since she
saith she will, without annoy of mine, cure me in little time?'
Accordingly, being resolved to essay her, he said, 'Damsel, and if you
cure us not, after causing us break our resolution, what will you have
ensue to you therefor?' 'My lord,' answered she, 'set a guard upon me
and if I cure you not within eight days, let burn me alive; but, if I
cure you, what reward shall I have?' Quoth the king, 'You seem as yet
unhusbanded; if you do this, we will marry you well and worshipfully.'
'My lord,' replied the young lady, 'I am well pleased that you should
marry me, but I will have a husband such as I shall ask of you,
excepting always any one of your sons or of the royal house.' He
readily promised her that which she sought, whereupon she began her
cure and in brief, before the term limited, she brought him back to

The king, feeling himself healed, said, 'Damsel, you have well earned
your husband'; whereto she answered, 'Then, my lord, I have earned
Bertrand de Roussillon, whom I began to love even in the days of my
childhood and have ever since loved over all.' The king deemed it a
grave matter to give him to her; nevertheless, having promised her and
unwilling to fail of his faith, he let call the count to himself and
bespoke him thus: 'Bertrand, you are now of age and accomplished [in
all that behoveth unto man's estate];[200] wherefore it is our
pleasure that you return to govern your county and carry with you a
damsel, whom we have given you to wife.' 'And who is the damsel, my
lord?' asked Bertrand; to which the king answered, 'It is she who hath
with her medicines restored to us our health.'

[Footnote 200: _Fornito_, a notable example of what the illustrious
Lewis Carroll Dodgson, Waywode of Wonderland, calls a "portmanteau-word,"
a species that abounds in mediæval Italian, for the confusion of

Bertrand, who had seen and recognized Gillette, knowing her (albeit
she seemed to him very fair) to be of no such lineage as sorted with
his quality, said all disdainfully, 'My lord, will you then marry me
to a she-leach? Now God forbid I should ever take such an one to
wife!' 'Then,' said the king, 'will you have us fail of our faith, the
which, to have our health again, we pledged to the damsel, who in
guerdon thereof demanded you to husband?' 'My lord,' answered
Bertrand, 'you may, an you will, take from me whatsoever I possess or,
as your liegeman, bestow me upon whoso pleaseth you; but of this I
certify you, that I will never be a consenting party unto such a
marriage.' 'Nay,' rejoined the king, 'but you shall, for that the
damsel is fair and wise and loveth you dear; wherefore we doubt not
but you will have a far happier life with her than with a lady of
higher lineage.' Bertrand held his peace and the king let make great
preparations for the celebration of the marriage.

The appointed day being come, Bertrand, sore against his will, in the
presence of the king, espoused the damsel, who loved him more than
herself. This done, having already determined in himself what he
should do, he sought leave of the king to depart, saying he would fain
return to his county and there consummate the marriage; then, taking
horse, he repaired not thither, but betook himself into Tuscany,
where, hearing that the Florentines were at war with those of Sienna,
he determined to join himself to the former, by whom he was joyfully
received and made captain over a certain number of men-at-arms; and
there, being well provided[201] of them, he abode a pretty while in
their service.

[Footnote 201: _i.e._ getting good pay and allowances (_avendo buona

The newly-made wife, ill content with such a lot, but hoping by her
fair dealing to recall him to his county, betook herself to
Roussillon, where she was received of all as their liege lady. There,
finding everything waste and disordered for the long time that the
land had been without a lord, with great diligence and solicitude,
like a discreet lady as she was, she set all in order again, whereof
the count's vassals were mightily content and held her exceeding dear,
vowing her a great love and blaming the count sore for that he
accepted not of her. The lady, having thoroughly ordered the county,
notified the count thereof by two knights, whom she despatched to him,
praying him that, an it were on her account he forbore to come to his
county, he should signify it to her and she, to pleasure him, would
depart thence; but he answered them very harshly, saying, 'For that,
let her do her pleasure; I, for my part, will return thither to abide
with her, whenas she shall have this my ring on her finger and in her
arms a son by me begotten.' Now the ring in question he held very dear
and never parted with it, by reason of a certain virtue which it had
been given him to understand that it had.

The knights understood the hardship of the condition implied in these
two well nigh impossible requirements, but, seeing that they might not
by their words avail to move him from his purpose, they returned to
the lady and reported to her his reply; whereat she was sore afflicted
and determined, after long consideration, to seek to learn if and
where the two things aforesaid might be compassed, to the intent that
she might, in consequence, have her husband again. Accordingly, having
bethought herself what she should do, she assembled certain of the
best and chiefest men of the county and with plaintive speech very
orderly recounted to them that which she had already done for love of
the count and showed them what had ensued thereof, adding that it was
not her intent that, through her sojourn there, the count should abide
in perpetual exile; nay, rather she purposed to spend the rest of her
life in pilgrimages and works of mercy and charity for her soul's
health; wherefore she prayed them take the ward and governance of the
county and notify the count that she had left him free and vacant
possession and had departed the country, intending nevermore to return
to Roussillon. Many were the tears shed by the good folk, whilst she
spoke, and many the prayers addressed to her that it would please her
change counsel and abide there; but they availed nought. Then,
commending them to God, she set out upon her way, without telling any
whither she was bound, well furnished with monies and jewels of price
and accompanied by a cousin of hers and a chamberwoman, all in
pilgrims' habits, and stayed not till she came to Florence, where,
chancing upon a little inn, kept by a decent widow woman, she there
took up her abode and lived quietly, after the fashion of a poor
pilgrim, impatient to hear news of her lord.

It befell, then, that on the morrow of her arrival she saw Bertrand
pass before her lodging, a-horseback with his company, and albeit she
knew him full well, natheless she asked the good woman of the inn who
he was. The hostess answered, 'That is a stranger gentleman, who
calleth himself Count Bertrand, a pleasant man and a courteous and
much loved in this city; and he is the most enamoured man in the world
of a she-neighbour of ours, who is a gentlewoman, but poor. Sooth to
say, she is a very virtuous damsel and abideth, being yet unmarried
for poverty, with her mother, a very good and discreet lady, but for
whom, maybe, she had already done the count's pleasure.' The countess
took good note of what she heard and having more closely enquired into
every particular and apprehended all aright, determined in herself how
she should do.

Accordingly, having learned the house and name of the lady whose
daughter the count loved, she one day repaired privily thither in her
pilgrim's habit and finding the mother and daughter in very poor case,
saluted them and told the former that, an it pleased her, she would
fain speak with her alone. The gentlewoman, rising, replied that she
was ready to hearken to her and accordingly carried her into a chamber
of hers, where they seated themselves and the countess began thus,
'Madam, meseemeth you are of the enemies of Fortune, even as I am;
but, an you will, belike you may be able to relieve both yourself and
me.' The lady answered that she desired nothing better than to relieve
herself by any honest means; and the countess went on, 'Needs must you
pledge me your faith, whereto an I commit myself and you deceive me,
you will mar your own affairs and mine.' 'Tell me anything you will in
all assurance,' replied the gentlewoman; 'for never shall you find
yourself deceived of me.'

Thereupon the countess, beginning with her first enamourment,
recounted to her who she was and all that had betided her to that day
after such a fashion that the gentlewoman, putting faith in her words
and having, indeed, already in part heard her story from others, began
to have compassion of her. The countess, having related her
adventures, went on to say, 'You have now, amongst my other troubles,
heard what are the two things which it behoveth me have, an I would
have my husband, and to which I know none who can help me, save only
yourself, if that be true which I hear, to wit, that the count my
husband is passionately enamoured of your daughter.' 'Madam,' answered
the gentlewoman, 'if the count love my daughter I know not; indeed he
maketh a great show thereof. But, an it be so, what can I do in this
that you desire?' 'Madam,' rejoined the countess, 'I will tell you;
but first I will e'en show you what I purpose shall ensue thereof to
you, an you serve me. I see your daughter fair and of age for a
husband and according to what I have heard, meseemeth I understand the
lack of good to marry her withal it is that causeth you keep her at
home. Now I purpose, in requital of the service you shall do me, to
give her forthright of mine own monies such a dowry as you yourself
shall deem necessary to marry her honorably.'

The mother, being needy, was pleased with the offer; algates, having
the spirit of a gentlewoman, she said, 'Madam, tell me what I can do
for you; if it consist with my honour, I will willingly do it, and you
shall after do that which shall please you.' Then said the countess,
'It behoveth me that you let tell the count my husband by some one in
whom you trust, that your daughter is ready to do his every pleasure,
so she may but be certified that he loveth her as he pretendeth, the
which she will never believe, except he send her the ring which he
carrieth on his finger and by which she hath heard he setteth such
store. An he send you the ring, you must give it to me and after send
to him to say that your daughter is ready do his pleasure; then bring
him hither in secret and privily put me to bed to him in the stead of
your daughter. It may be God will vouchsafe me to conceive and on this
wise, having his ring on my finger and a child in mine arms of him
begotten, I shall presently regain him and abide with him, as a wife
should abide with her husband, and you will have been the cause

This seemed a grave matter to the gentlewoman, who feared lest blame
should haply ensue thereof to her daughter; nevertheless, bethinking
her it were honourably done to help the poor lady recover her husband
and that she went about to do this to a worthy end and trusting in the
good and honest intention of the countess, she not only promised her
to do it, but, before many days, dealing with prudence and secrecy, in
accordance with the latter's instructions, she both got the ring
(albeit this seemed somewhat grievous to the count) and adroitly put
her to bed with her husband, in the place of her own daughter. In
these first embracements, most ardently sought of the count, the lady,
by God's pleasure, became with child of two sons, as her delivery in
due time made manifest. Nor once only, but many times, did the
gentlewoman gratify the countess with her husband's embraces,
contriving so secretly that never was a word known of the matter,
whilst the count still believed himself to have been, not with his
wife, but with her whom he loved; and whenas he came to take leave of
a morning, he gave her, at one time and another, divers goodly and
precious jewels, which the countess laid up with all diligence.

Then, feeling herself with child and unwilling to burden the
gentlewoman farther with such an office, she said to her, 'Madam,
thanks to God and you, I have gotten that which I desired, wherefore
it is time that I do that which shall content you and after get me
gone hence.' The gentlewoman answered that, if she had gotten that
which contented her, she was well pleased, but that she had not done
this of any hope of reward, nay, for that herseemed it behoved her to
do it, an she would do well. 'Madam,' rejoined the countess, 'that
which you say liketh me well and so on my part I purpose not to give
you that which you shall ask of me by way of reward, but to do well,
for that meseemeth behoveful so to do.' The gentlewoman, then,
constrained by necessity, with the utmost shamefastness, asked her an
hundred pounds to marry her daughter withal; but the countess, seeing
her confusion and hearing her modest demand, gave her five hundred and
so many rare and precious jewels as were worth maybe as much more.
With this the gentlewoman was far more than satisfied and rendered the
countess the best thanks in her power; whereupon the latter, taking
leave of her, returned to the inn, whilst the other, to deprive
Bertrand of all farther occasion of coming or sending to her house,
removed with her daughter into the country to the house of one of her
kinsfolk, and he, being a little after recalled by his vassals and
hearing that the countess had departed the country, returned to his
own house.

The countess, hearing that he had departed Florence and returned to
his county, was mightily rejoiced and abode at Florence till her time
came to be delivered, when she gave birth to two male children, most
like their father, and let rear them with all diligence. Whenas it
seemed to her time, she set out and came, without being known of any,
to Montpellier, where having rested some days and made enquiry of the
count and where he was, she learned that he was to hold a great
entertainment of knights and ladies at Roussillon on All Saints' Day
and betook herself thither, still in her pilgrim's habit that she was
wont to wear. Finding the knights and ladies assembled in the count's
palace and about to sit down to table, she went up, with her children
in her arms and without changing her dress, into the banqueting hall
and making her way between man and man whereas she saw the count, cast
herself at his feet and said, weeping, 'I am thine unhappy wife, who,
to let thee return and abide in thy house, have long gone wandering
miserably about the world. I conjure thee, in the name of God, to
accomplish unto me thy promise upon the condition appointed me by the
two knights I sent thee; for, behold, here in mine arms is not only
one son of thine, but two, and here is thy ring. It is time, then,
that I be received of thee as a wife, according to thy promise.'

The count, hearing this, was all confounded and recognized the ring
and the children also, so like were they to him; but yet he said, 'How
can this have come to pass?' The countess, then, to his exceeding
wonderment and that of all others who were present, orderly recounted
that which had passed and how it had happened; whereupon the count,
feeling that she spoke sooth and seeing her constancy and wit and
moreover two such goodly children, as well for the observance of his
promise as to pleasure all his liegemen and the ladies, who all
besought him thenceforth to receive and honour her as his lawful wife,
put off his obstinate despite and raising the countess to her feet,
embraced her and kissing her, acknowledged her for his lawful wife and
those for his children. Then, letting clothe her in apparel such as
beseemed her quality, to the exceeding joyance of as many as were
there and of all other his vassals who heard the news, he held high
festival, not only all that day, but sundry others, and from that day
forth still honoured her as his bride and his wife and loved and
tendered her over all."


[Day the Third]


Dioneo, who had diligently hearkened to the queen's story, seeing that
it was ended and that it rested with him alone to tell, without
awaiting commandment, smilingly began to speak as follows: "Charming
ladies, maybe you have never heard tell how one putteth the devil in
hell; wherefore, without much departing from the tenor of that
whereof you have discoursed all this day, I will e'en tell it you.
Belike, having learned it, you may catch the spirit[202] thereof and
come to know that, albeit Love sojourneth liefer in jocund palaces and
luxurious chambers than in the hovels of the poor, yet none the less
doth he whiles make his power felt midmost thick forests and rugged
mountains and in desert caverns; whereby it may be understood that all
things are subject to his puissance.

[Footnote 202: _Guadagnare l'anima_, lit. gain the soul (syn. pith,
kernel, substance). This passage is ambiguous and should perhaps be
rendered "catch the knack or trick" or "acquire the wish."]

To come, then, to the fact, I say that in the city of Capsa in Barbary
there was aforetime a very rich man, who, among his other children,
had a fair and winsome young daughter, by name Alibech. She, not being
a Christian and hearing many Christians who abode in the town mightily
extol the Christian faith and the service of God, one day questioned
one of them in what manner one might avail to serve God with the least
hindrance. The other answered that they best served God who most
strictly eschewed the things of the world, as those did who had
betaken them into the solitudes of the deserts of Thebais. The girl,
who was maybe fourteen years old and very simple, moved by no ordered
desire, but by some childish fancy, set off next morning by stealth
and all alone, to go to the desert of Thebais, without letting any
know her intent. After some days, her desire persisting, she won, with
no little toil, to the deserts in question and seeing a hut afar off,
went thither and found at the door a holy man, who marvelled to see
her there and asked her what she sought. She replied that, being
inspired of God, she went seeking to enter into His service and was
now in quest of one who should teach her how it behoved to serve Him.

The worthy man, seeing her young and very fair and fearing lest, an he
entertained her, the devil should beguile him, commended her pious
intent and giving her somewhat to eat of roots of herbs and wild
apples and dates and to drink of water, said to her, 'Daughter mine,
not far hence is a holy man, who is a much better master than I of
that which thou goest seeking; do thou betake thyself to him'; and put
her in the way. However, when she reached the man in question, she had
of him the same answer and faring farther, came to the cell of a young
hermit, a very devout and good man, whose name was Rustico and to whom
she made the same request as she had done to the others. He, having a
mind to make a trial of his own constancy, sent her not away, as the
others had done, but received her into his cell, and the night being
come, he made her a little bed of palm-fronds and bade her lie down to
rest thereon. This done, temptations tarried not to give battle to his
powers of resistance and he, finding himself grossly deceived by these
latter, turned tail, without awaiting many assaults, and confessed
himself beaten; then, laying aside devout thoughts and orisons and
mortifications, he fell to revolving in his memory the youth and
beauty of the damsel and bethinking himself what course he should take
with her, so as to win to that which he desired of her, without her
taking him for a debauched fellow.

Accordingly, having sounded her with sundry questions, he found that
she had never known man and was in truth as simple as she seemed;
wherefore he bethought him how, under colour of the service of God, he
might bring her to his pleasures. In the first place, he showeth her
with many words how great an enemy the devil was of God the Lord and
after gave her to understand that the most acceptable service that
could be rendered to God was to put back the devil into hell, whereto
he had condemned him. The girl asked him how this might be done; and
he, 'Thou shalt soon know that; do thou but as thou shalt see me do.'
So saying, he proceeded to put off the few garments he had and abode
stark naked, as likewise did the girl, whereupon he fell on his knees,
as he would pray, and caused her abide over against himself.[203]

[Footnote 203: The translators regret that the disuse into which magic
has fallen, makes it impossible to render the technicalities of that
mysterious art into tolerable English; they have therefore found it
necessary to insert several passages in the original Italian.]

E cosí stando, essendo Rustico, piú che mai, nel suo disidero acceso,
per lo vederla cosí bella, venue la resurrezion della carne; la quale
riguardando Alibech, e maravigliatasti, disse: Rustico, quella che
cosa è, che io ti veggio, che cosí si pigne in fuori, e non l' ho io?
O figliuola mia, disse Rustico, questo è il diavolo, di che io t'ho
parlato, e vedi tu ora: egli mi dà grandissima molestia, tanta, che io
appena la posso sofferire. Allora disse la giovane. O lodato sia
Iddio, ché io veggio, che io sto meglio, che non stai tu, ché io non
ho cotesto diavolo io. Disse Rustico, tu di vero; ma tu hai un' altra
cosa, che non l'ho io, et haila in iscambio di questo. Disse Alibech:
O che? A cui Rustico disse: Hai l'inferno; e dicoti, che io mi credo,
che Dio t'abbia qui mandata per la salute dell' anima mia; perciòche,
se questo diavolo pur mi darà questa noia, ove tu cogli aver di me
tanta pietà, e sofferire, che io in inferno il rimetta; tu mi darai
grandissima consolazione, et a Dio farai grandissimo piacere, e
servigio; se tu per quello fare in queste parti venuta se; che tu di.
La giovane di buona fede rispose O padre mio, poscia che io ho
l'inferno, sia pure quando vi piacerà mettervi il diavolo. Disse
allora Rustico: Figliuola mia benedetta sia tu: andiamo dunque, e
rimettiamlovi sí, che egli poscia mi lasci stare. E cosí detto, menate
la giovane sopra uno de' loro letticelli, le 'nsegnò, come star si
dovesse a dover incarcerare quel maladetto da Dio. La giovane, che mai
piú non aveva in inferno messo diavolo alcuno, per la prima volta
sentí un poco di noia; perché ella disse a Rustico.

Per certo, padre mio, mala cosa dee essere questo diavolo, e veramente
nimico di Iddio ché ancora all'inferno, non che altrui duole quando,
egli v'è dentro rimesso. Disse Rustico: Figliuola, egli non averrà
sempre cosí: e per fare, che questo non avvenisse, da sei volte
anziche di su il letticel si movesero, ve 'l rimisero; tantoche per
quella volta gli trasser sí la superbia del capo, che egli si stette
volentieri in pace. Ma ritornatagli poi nel seguente tempo piú volte,
e la giovane ubbidente sempre a trargliela si disponesse, avvenne,
che il giuoco le cominciò a piacere; e cominciò a dire a Rustico. Ben
veggio, che il ver dicevano que valenti uomini in Capsa, che il
servire a Dio era cosí dolce cosa, e per certo io non mi ricordo, che
mai alcuna altra ne facessi, che di tanto diletto, e piacere mi fosse,
quanto è il rimettere il diavolo in inferno; e perciò giudico ogn'
altra persona, che ad altro che a servire a Dio attende, essere una
bestia. Per la qual cosa essa spesse volte andava a Rustico, e gli
diceva. Padre mio, io son qui venuta per servire a Dio, e non per
istare oziosa; andiamo a rimittere il diavolo in inferno. La qual cosa
faccendo, diceva ella alcuna volta. Rustico, io non so perché il
diavolo si fugga di ninferno, ché s' egli vi stesse cosí volentiere,
come l'inferno il riceve, e tiene; agli non sene uscirebbe mai. Cosí
adunque invitando spesso la giovane Rustico, et al servigio di Dio
confortandolo, se la bambagia del farsetto tratta gli avea, che egli a
talora sentiva freddo, che un' altro sarebbe sudato; e perciò egli
incominciò a dire alla giovane, che il diavolo non era da gastigare,
né da rimettere in inferno, se non quando egli per superbia levasse il
capo; e noi, per la grazia, di Dio, l'abbiamo sí sgannato, che egla
priega Iddio di starsi in pace: e cosí alquanto impose di silenzio
alla giovane. La qual, poiche vide che Rustico non la richiedeva a
dovere il diavolo rimittere in inferno, gli disse un giorno. Rustico,
se il diavolo tuo è gastigato, e piú non ti dà noia me il mio ninferno
non lascia stare: perché tu farai bene, che tu col tuo diavolo aiuti
ad attutare la rabbia al mio inferno; come io col mio ninferno ho
ajutato a trarre la superbia al tuo diavolo.

     [Transcriber's Note: The following is a 1903 translation of
     this passage by J.M. Rigg (from Doctrine Publishing Corporation Etext No.

     Whereupon Rustico, seeing her so fair, felt an accession of
     desire, and therewith came an insurgence of the flesh, which
     Alibech marking with surprise, said:--"Rustico, what is
     this, which I see thee have, that so protrudes, and which I
     have not?" "Oh! my daughter," said Rustico, "'tis the Devil
     of whom I have told thee: and, seest thou? he is now
     tormenting me most grievously, insomuch that I am scarce
     able to hold out." Then:--"Praise be to God," said the girl,
     "I see that I am in better case than thou, for no such Devil
     have I." "Sooth sayst thou," returned Rustico; "but instead
     of him thou hast somewhat else that I have not." "Oh!" said
     Alibech, "what may that be?" "Hell," answered Rustico: "and
     I tell thee, that 'tis my belief that God has sent thee
     hither for the salvation of my soul; seeing that, if this
     Devil shall continue to plague me thus, then, so thou wilt
     have compassion on me and permit me to put him in hell, thou
     wilt both afford me great and exceeding great solace, and
     render to God an exceeding most acceptable service, if, as
     thou sayst, thou art come into these parts for such a
     purpose." In good faith the girl made answer:--"As I have
     hell to match your Devil, be it, my father, as and when you
     will." Whereupon:--"Bless thee, my daughter," said Rustico,
     "go we then, and put him there, that he leave me henceforth
     in peace." Which said, he took the girl to one of the beds
     and taught her the posture in which she must lie in order to
     incarcerate this spirit accursed of God. The girl, having
     never before put any devil in hell, felt on this first
     occasion a twinge of pain: wherefore she said to Rustico:--

     "Of a surety, my father, he must be a wicked fellow, this
     devil, and in very truth a foe to God; for there is sorrow
     even in hell--not to speak of other places--when he is put
     there." "Daughter," said Rustico, "'twill not be always so."
     And for better assurance thereof they put him there six
     times before they quitted the bed; whereby they so
     thoroughly abased his pride that he was fain to be quiet.
     However, the proud fit returning upon him from time to time,
     and the girl addressing herself always obediently to its
     reduction, it so befell that she began to find the game
     agreeable, and would say to Rustico:--"Now see I plainly
     that 'twas true, what the worthy men said at Capsa, of the
     service of God being so delightful: indeed I cannot remember
     that in aught that ever I did I had so much pleasure, so
     much solace, as in putting the Devil in hell; for which
     cause I deem it insensate folly on the part of any one to
     have a care to aught else than the service of God."
     Wherefore many a time she would come to Rustico, and say to
     him:--"My father, 'twas to serve God that I came hither, and
     not to pass my days in idleness: go we then, and put the
     Devil in hell." And while they did so, she would now and
     again say:--"I know not, Rustico, why the Devil should
     escape from hell; were he but as ready to stay there as hell
     is to receive and retain him, he would never come out of
     it." So, the girl thus frequently inviting and exhorting
     Rustico to the service of God, there came at length a time
     when she had so thoroughly lightened his doublet that he
     shivered when another would have sweated; wherefore he began
     to instruct her that the Devil was not to be corrected and
     put in hell, save when his head was exalted with pride;
     adding, "and we by God's grace have brought him to so sober
     a mind that he prays God he may be left in peace;" by which
     means he for a time kept the girl quiet. But when she saw
     that Rustico had no more occasion for her to put the Devil
     in hell, she said to him one day:--"Rustico, if thy Devil is
     chastened and gives thee no more trouble, my hell, on the
     other hand, gives me no peace; wherefore, I with my hell
     have holpen thee to abase the pride of thy Devil, so thou
     wouldst do well to lend me the aid of thy Devil to allay the
     fervent heat of my hell."]

Rustico, who lived on roots and water, could ill avail to answer her
calls and told her that it would need overmany devils to appease hell,
but he would do what he might thereof. Accordingly he satisfied her
bytimes, but so seldom it was but casting a bean into the lion's
mouth; whereas the girl, herseeming she served not God as diligently
as she would fain have done, murmured somewhat. But, whilst this
debate was toward between Rustico his devil and Alibech her hell, for
overmuch desire on the one part and lack of power on the other, it
befell that a fire broke out in Capsa and burnt Alibech's father in
his own house, with as many children and other family as he had; by
reason whereof she abode heir to all his good. Thereupon, a young man
called Neerbale, who had spent all his substance in gallantry, hearing
that she was alive, set out in search of her and finding her, before
the court[204] had laid hands upon her father's estate, as that of a
man dying without heir, to Rustico's great satisfaction, but against
her own will, brought her back to Capsa, where he took her to wife and
succeeded, in her right, to the ample inheritance of her father.

[Footnote 204: _i.e._ the government (_corte_).]

There, being asked by the women at what she served God in the desert,
she answered (Neerbale having not yet lain with her) that she served
Him at putting the devil in hell and that Neerbale had done a grievous
sin in that he had taken her from such service. The ladies asked, 'How
putteth one the devil in hell?' And the girl, what with words and
what with gestures, expounded it to them; whereat they set up so great
a laughing that they laugh yet and said, 'Give yourself no concern, my
child; nay, for that is done here also and Neerbale will serve our
Lord full well with thee at this.' Thereafter, telling it from one to
another throughout the city, they brought it to a common saying there
that the most acceptable service one could render to God was to put
the devil in hell, which byword, having passed the sea hither, is yet
current here. Wherefore do all you young ladies, who have need of
God's grace, learn to put the devil in hell, for that this is highly
acceptable to Him and pleasing to both parties and much good may grow
and ensue thereof."

       *       *       *       *       *

A thousand times or more had Dioneo's story moved the modest ladies to
laughter, so quaint and comical did his words appear to them; then,
whenas he had made an end thereof, the queen, knowing the term of her
sovranty to be come, lifted the laurel from her head and set it
merrily on that of Filostrato, saying: "We shall presently see if the
wolf will know how to govern the ewes better than the ewes have
governed the wolves." Filostrato, hearing this, said, laughing, "An I
were hearkened to, the wolves had taught the ewes to put the devil in
hell, no worse than Rustico taught Alibech; wherefore do ye not style
us wolven, since you yourselves have not been ewen. Algates, I will
govern the kingdom committed to me to the best of my power." "Harkye,
Filostrato," rejoined Neifile, "in seeking to teach us, you might have
chanced to learn sense, even as did Masetto of Lamporecchio of the
nuns, and find your tongue what time your bones should have learnt to
whistle without a master."

Filostrato, finding that he still got a Roland for his Oliver,[205]
gave over pleasantry and addressed himself to the governance of the
kingdom committed to him. Wherefore, letting call the seneschal, he
was fain to know at what point things stood all and after discreetly
ordained that which he judged would be well and would content the
company for such time as his seignory should endure. Then, turning to
the ladies, "Lovesome ladies," quoth he, "since I knew good from evil,
I have, for my ill fortune, been still subject unto Love for the
charms of one or other of you; nor hath humility neither obedience,
no, nor the assiduous ensuing him in all his usances, in so far as it
hath been known of me, availed me but that first I have been abandoned
for another and after have still gone from bad to worse; and so I
believe I shall fare unto my death; wherefore it pleaseth me that it
be discoursed to-morrow of none other matter than that which is most
conformable to mine own case, to wit, OF THOSE WHOSE LOVES HAVE HAD
UNHAPPY ENDING, for that I in the long run look for a most unhappy
[issue to mine own]; nor was the name by which you call me conferred
on me for otherwhat by such an one who knew well what it meant."[206]
So saying, he rose to his feet and dismissed every one until

[Footnote 205: Lit. that scythes were no less plenty that he had
arrows (_che falci si trovavano non meno che egli avesse strali_), a
proverbial expression the exact bearing of which I do not know, but
whose evident sense I have rendered in the equivalent English idiom.]

[Footnote 206: Syn. what he said (_che si dire_). See ante, p. 11,

The garden was so goodly and so delightsome that there was none who
elected to go forth thereof, in the hope of finding more pleasance
elsewhere. Nay, the sun, now grown mild, making it nowise irksome to
give chase to the fawns and kids and rabbits and other beasts which
were thereabout and which, as they sat, had come maybe an hundred
times to disturb them by skipping through their midst, some addressed
themselves to pursue them. Dioneo and Fiammetta fell to singing of
Messer Guglielmo and the Lady of Vergiu,[207] whilst Filomena and
Pamfilo sat down to chess; and so, some doing one thing and some
another, the time passed on such wise that the hour of supper came
well nigh unlooked for; whereupon, the tables being set round about
the fair fountain, they supped there in the evening with the utmost

[Footnote 207: Apparently the well-known fabliau of the Dame de Vergy,
upon which Marguerite d'Angoulême founded the seventieth story of the

As soon as the tables were taken away, Filostrato, not to depart from
the course holden of those who had been queens before him, commanded
Lauretta to lead up a dance and sing a song. "My lord," answered she,
"I know none of other folk's songs, nor have I in mind any of mine own
which should best beseem so joyous a company; but, an you choose one
of those which I have, I will willingly sing it." Quote the king,
"Nothing of thine can be other than goodly and pleasing; wherefore
sing us such as thou hast." Lauretta, then, with a sweet voice enough,
but in a somewhat plaintive style, began thus, the other ladies

       No maid disconsolate
         Hath cause as I, alack!
       Who sigh for love in vain, to mourn her fate.

     He who moves heaven and all the stars in air
       Made me for His delight
     Lovesome and sprightly, kind and debonair,
       E'en here below to give each lofty spright
     Some inkling of that fair
       That still in heaven abideth in His sight;
       But erring men's unright,
         Ill knowing me, my worth
           Accepted not, nay, with dispraise did bate.

     Erst was there one who held me dear and fain
       Took me, a youngling maid,
     Into his arms and thought and heart and brain,
       Caught fire at my sweet eyes; yea time, unstayed
     Of aught, that flits amain
       And lightly, all to wooing me he laid.
       I, courteous, nought gainsaid
         And held[208] him worthy me;
           But now, woe's me, of him I'm desolate.

     Then unto me there did himself present
       A youngling proud and haught,
     Renowning him for valorous and gent;
       He took and holds me and with erring thought[209]
     To jealousy is bent;
       Whence I, alack! nigh to despair am wrought,
       As knowing myself,--brought
         Into this world for good
           Of many an one,--engrossed of one sole mate.

     The luckless hour I curse, in very deed,
       When I, alas! said yea,
     Vesture to change,--so fair in that dusk wede
       I was and glad, whereas in this more gay
     A weary life I lead,
       Far less than erst held honest, welaway!
       Ah, dolorous bridal day,
         Would God I had been dead
           Or e'er I proved thee in such ill estate!

     O lover dear, with whom well pleased was I
       Whilere past all that be,--
     Who now before Him sittest in the sky
       Who fashioned us,--have pity upon me
     Who cannot, though I die,
       Forget thee for another; cause me see
       The flame that kindled thee
         For me lives yet unquenched
           And my recall up thither[210] impetrate.

[Footnote 208: Lit. made (_Di me il feci digno_).]

[Footnote 209: _i.e._ false suspicion (_falso pensiero_).]

[Footnote 210: _i.e._ to heaven (_e costa su m'impetra la tornata_).]

Here Lauretta made an end of her song, wherein, albeit attentively
followed of all, she was diversely apprehended of divers persons, and
there were those who would e'en understand, Milan-fashion, that a good
hog was better than a handsome wench;[211] but others were of a
loftier and better and truer apprehension, whereof it booteth not to
tell at this present. Thereafter the king let kindle store of
flambeaux upon the grass and among the flowers and caused sing divers
other songs, until every star began to decline, that was above the
horizon, when, deeming it time for sleep, he bade all with a good
night betake themselves to their chambers.

[Footnote 211: The pertinence of this allusion, which probably refers
to some current Milanese proverbial saying, the word _tosa_, here used
by Boccaccio for "wench," belonging to the Lombard dialect, is not
very clear. The expression "Milan-fashion" (_alla melanese_) may be
supposed to refer to the proverbial materialism of the people of


_Day the Fourth_


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

[Footnote 212: Sic (_senza invidia_); but the meaning is that misery
alone is without _enviers_.]

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

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

[Footnote 213: _i.e._ blasts of calumny.]

[Footnote 214: _i.e._ having not yet accomplished.]

[Footnote 215: _i.e._ my censors.]

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

[Footnote 216: _i.e._ in alms.]

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 217: "I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound;
everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be
hungry, both to abound and suffer need."--_Philippians_ iv. 12.]

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

[Footnote 218: _i.e._ benumbed (_assiderati_).]

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


[Day the Fourth]


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

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

Each, then, thus secretly tendering the other, the young lady, who
desired nothing so much as to foregather with him, but had no mind to
make any one a confidant of her passion, bethought herself of a rare
device to apprize him of the means; to wit, she wrote him a letter,
wherein she showed him how he should do to foregather with her on the
ensuing day, and placing it in the hollow of a cane, gave the letter
jestingly to Guiscardo, saying, 'Make thee a bellows thereof for thy
serving-maid, wherewith she may blow up the fire to-night.' Guiscardo
took the cane and bethinking himself that she would not have given it
him nor spoken thus, without some cause, took his leave and returned
therewith to his lodging. There he examined the cane and seeing it to
be cleft, opened it and found therein the letter, which having read
and well apprehended that which he had to do, he was the joyfullest
man alive and set about taking order how he might go to her, according
to the fashion appointed him of her.

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

[Footnote 219: Or airshaft (_spiraglio_).]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 220: Lit. introduced him to me (_a me lo 'ntrodussi_); but
Boccaccio here uses the word _introdurre_ in its rarer literal sense
to lead, to draw, to bring in.]

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 221: _i.e._ thou being the means of bringing about the
conjunction (_adoperandol tu_).]

[Footnote 222: _i.e._ Guiscardo's soul.]

[Footnote 223: _i.e._ in the heart.]

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

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


[Day the Fourth]


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

[Footnote 224: _i.e._ was more inclined to consider the wishes of the
ladies her companions, which she divined by sympathy, than those of
Filostrato, as shown by his words (_più per la sua affezione cognobbe
l'animo delle campagne che quello del re per le sue parole_). It is
difficult, however, in this instance as in many others, to discover
with certainty Boccaccio's exact meaning, owing to his affectation of
Ciceronian concision and delight in obscure elliptical forms of
construction; whilst his use of words in a remote or unfamiliar sense
and the impossibility of deciding, in certain cases, the person of the
pronouns and adjectives employed tend still farther to darken counsel.
_E.g._, if we render _affezione_ sentiment, _cognobbe_ (as
_riconobbe_) acknowledged, recognized, and read _le sue parole_ as
meaning _her_ (instead of _his_) words, the whole sense of the passage
is changed, and we must read it "more by her sentiment (_i.e._ by the
tendency and spirit of her story) recognized the inclination of her
companions than that of the king by her [actual] words." I have
commented thus at large on this passage, in order to give my readers
some idea of the difficulties which at every page beset the translator
of the Decameron and which make Boccaccio perhaps the most troublesome
of all authors to render into representative English.]

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

[Footnote 225: Lit. of those who _was_ held of the greatest casuists
(_di quelli che de' maggior cassesi era tenuto_). This is another very
obscure passage. The meaning of the word _cassesi_ is unknown and we
can only guess it to be a dialectic (probably Venetian) corruption of
the word _casisti_ (casuists). The Giunta edition separates the word
thus, _casse si_, making _si_ a mere corroborative prefix to _era_,
but I do not see how the alteration helps us, the word _casse_
(chests, boxes) being apparently meaningless in this connection.]

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

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

[Footnote 226: Venetian contraction of _Casa_, house. Da Ca Quirino,
of the Quirino house or family.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 227: _cf._ Artemus Ward's "Natives of the Universe and other

[Footnote 228: _Mo vedi vu_, Venetian for _Or vedi tu_, now dost thou
see? I have rendered it by the equivalent old English form.]

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

[Footnote 229: _i.e._ not of the trap laid for him by the lady's
brothers-in-law, but of her indiscretion in discovering the secret.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 230: _Che xe quel?_ Venetian for _che c'e quella cosa_, What
is this thing?]

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


[Day the Fourth]


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

[Footnote 231: _i.e._ _semble_ "an you would wish them nought but an
ill end."]

[Footnote 232: _i.e._ to anger.]

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

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

[Footnote 233: _i.e._ to the proposal I have to make.]

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

[Footnote 234: _i.e._ the possession of their mistresses.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 235: Sic (_di che veleno fosse morto_), but this is probably
a copyist's error for _che di veleno fosse morto_, _i.e._ that he had
died of poison.]

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

[Footnote 236: _i.e._ that night.]

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

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


[Day the Fourth]


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

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

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

[Footnote 237: Or, in modern parlance, "laying certain plans."]

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 238: _i.e._ for lack of wind.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 239: _i.e._ of each other.]


[Day the Fourth]


[Footnote 240: This is the proper name of the heroine of the story
immortalized by Keats as "Isabella or the Pot of Basil," and is one of
the many forms of the and name _Elisabetta_ (Elizabeth), _Isabetta_
and _Isabella_ being others. Some texts of the Decameron call the
heroine _Isabetta_, but in the heading only, all with which I am
acquainted agreeing in the use of the form _Lisabetta_ in the body of
the story.]

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 241: _i.e._ to the place shown her in the dream.]

[Footnote 242: _i.e._ in their service.]

[Footnote 243: Lit. unhung (_spiccò_).]

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

     Alack! ah, who can the ill Christian be,
       That stole my pot away?" etc.[244]

[Footnote 244: The following is a translation of the whole of the song
in question, as printed, from a MS. in the Medicean Library, in
Fanfani's edition of the Decameron.

Alack! ah, who can the ill Christian be,
  That stole my pot away,
My pot of basil of Salern, from me?
  'Twas thriv'n with many a spray
And I with mine own hand did plant the tree,
  Even on the festal[A] day.
'Tis felony to waste another's ware.

'Tis felony to waste another's ware;
  Yea, and right grievous sin.
And I, poor lass, that sowed myself whilere
  A pot with flowers therein,
Slept in its shade, so great it was and fair;
  But folk, that envious bin,
Stole it away even from my very door.

'Twas stolen away even from my very door.
  Full heavy was my cheer,
(Ah, luckless maid, would I had died tofore!)
  Who brought[B] it passing dear,
Yet kept ill ward thereon one day of fear.
  For him I loved so sore,
I planted it with marjoram about.

I planted it with marjoram about,
  When May was blithe and new;
Yea, thrice I watered it, week in, week out,
  And watched how well it grew:
But now, for sure, away from me 'tis ta'en.

Ay, now, for sure, away from me 'tis ta'en;
  I may 't no longer hide.
Had I but known (alas, regret is vain!)
  That which should me betide,
Before my door on guard I would have lain
  To sleep, my flowers beside.
Yet might the Great God ease me at His will.

Yea, God Most High might ease me, at His will,
  If but it liked Him well,
Of him who wrought me such unright and ill;
  He into pangs of hell
Cast me who stole my basil-pot, that still
  Was full of such sweet smell,
Its savour did all dole from me away.

All dole its savour did from me away;
  It was so redolent,
When, with the risen sun, at early day
  To water it I went,
The folk would marvel all at it and say,
  "Whence comes the sweetest scent?"
And I for love of it shall surely die.

Yea, I for love of it shall surely die,
  For love and grief and pain.
If one would tell me where it is, I'd buy
  It willingly again.
Fivescore gold crowns, that in my pouch have I,
  I'd proffer him full fain,
And eke a kiss, if so it liked the swain.]

[Footnote A: Quære--natal?--perhaps meaning her birthday (_lo giorno
della festa_).]

[Footnote B: Or "purchased" in the old sense of obtained, acquired


[Day the Fourth]


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

[Footnote 245: _i.e._ these two classes of folk.]

[Footnote 246: _i.e._ to the encouragement of good and virtuous
actions and purposes.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 247: Or "lap" (_seno_).]

[Footnote 248: Lit. what meaneth this? (_che vuol dire questo?_)]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 249: Lit. complaining, making complaint (_dolendosi_).]

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

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


[Day the Fourth]


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

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

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

[Footnote 250: _i.e._ to attend the ecclesiastical function called a
Pardon, with which word, used in this sense, Meyerbeer's opera of
Dinorah (properly Le Pardon de Ploërmel) has familiarized opera-goers.
A Pardon is a sort of minor jubilee of the Roman Catholic Church, held
in honour of some local saint, at which certain indulgences and
remissions of sins (hence the name) are granted to the faithful
attending the services of the occasion.]

[Footnote 251: _i.e._ Bandy-legs.]

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

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

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

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


[Day the Fourth]


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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 252: _Ristretti in sè gli spiriti._ An obscure passage;
perhaps "holding his breath" is meant; but in this case we should read
"_lo spirito_" instead of "_gli spiriti_."]

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

[Footnote 253: _i.e._ what course she should take in the matter,
_consiglio_ used as before (see notes, pp. 2 and 150) in this special

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

[Footnote 254: _i.e._ her heart.]

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


[Day the Fourth]


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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 255: Or surfeited (_svogliato_).]

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

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

[Footnote 256: This is the well-known story of the Troubadour Guillem
de Cabestanh or Cabestaing, whose name Boccaccio alters to
Guardastagno or Guardestaing.]


[Day the Fourth]


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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 257: A proverbial way of saying that he was fast asleep.]

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 258: _i.e._ about half-past seven a.m.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 259: Or "having risen from the grinding" (_levatasi dal

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

[Footnote 260: _i.e._ the theme proposed by her.]

         Weeping, I demonstrate
     How sore with reason doth my heart complain
     Of love betrayed and plighted faith in vain.

       Love, whenas first there was of thee imprest
         Thereon[261] her image for whose sake I sigh,
           Sans hope of succour aye,
           So full of virtue didst thou her pourtray,
         That every torment light accounted I
       That through thee to my breast
       Grown full of drear unrest
     And dole, might come; but now, alack! I'm fain
     To own my error, not withouten pain.

       Yea, of the cheat first was I made aware,
         Seeing myself of her forsaken sheer,
           In whom I hoped alone;
           For, when I deemed myself most fairly grown
         Into her favour and her servant dear,
       Without her thought or care
       Of my to-come despair,
     I found she had another's merit ta'en
     To heart and put me from her with disdain.

       Whenas I knew me banished from my stead,
         Straight in my heart a dolorous plaint there grew,
           That yet therein hath power,
           And oft I curse the day and eke the hour
         When first her lovesome visage met my view,
       Graced with high goodlihead;
       And more enamouréd
     Than eye, my soul keeps up its dying strain,
     Faith, ardour, hope, blaspheming still amain.
       How void my misery is of all relief
         Thou mayst e'en feel, so sore I call thee, sire,
           With voice all full of woe;
           Ay, and I tell thee that it irks me so
         That death for lesser torment I desire.
       Come, death, then; shear the sheaf
       Of this my life of grief
     And with thy stroke my madness eke assain;
     Go where I may, less dire will be my bane.

       No other way than death is left my spright,
         Ay, and none other solace for my dole;
           Then give it[262] me straightway,
           Love; put an end withal to my dismay:
       Ah, do it; since fate's spite
       Hath robbed me of delight;
     Gladden thou her, lord, with my death, love-slain,
     As thou hast cheered her with another swain.

       My song, though none to learn thee lend an ear,
         I reck the less thereof, indeed, that none
           Could sing thee even as I;
           One only charge I give thee, ere I die,
         That thou find Love and unto him alone
       Show fully how undear
       This bitter life and drear
     Is to me, craving of his might he deign
     Some better harbourage I may attain.

         Weeping I demonstrate
     How sore with reason doth my heart complain
     Of love betrayed and plighted faith in vain.

[Footnote 261: _i.e._ on my heart.]

[Footnote 262: _i.e._ death.]

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


_Day the Fifth_


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


[Day the Fifth]


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

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

[Footnote 263: Or farm (_villa_).]

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

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

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

[Footnote 264: _i.e._ of music, vocal and instrumental.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 265: _Per fortuna._ This may also be rendered "by tempest,"
_fortuna_ being a name for a squall or hurricane, which Boccaccio uses
elsewhere in the same sense.]

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

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

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

[Footnote 266: _i.e._ thy spirit.]

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

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

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

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


[Day the Fifth]


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

[Footnote 267: Syn. inclinations (_affezioni_). This is a somewhat
obscure passage, owing to the vagueness of the word _affezioni_ (syn.
_affetti_) in this position, and may be rendered, with about equal
probability, in more than one way.]

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

[Footnote 268: Or "eminent" (_valoroso_), _i.e._ in modern parlance,
"a man of merit and talent."]

[Footnote 269: _Valoroso nel suo mestiere._ It does not appear that
Martuccio was a craftsman and it is possible, therefore, that
Boccaccio intended the word _mestiere_ to be taken in the sense (to me
unknown) of "condition" or "estate," in which case the passage would
read, "a man of worth for (_i.e._ as far as comported with) his [mean]
estate"; and this seems a probable reading.]

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

[Footnote 270: Lit. necessity (_necessità_).]

[Footnote 271: _i.e._ to use a new (or strange) fashion of exposing
herself to an inevitable death (_nuova necessità dare alla sua

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

[Footnote 272: _i.e._ knew not whether she was ashore or afloat, so
absorbed was she in her despair.]

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

[Footnote 273: Or "augured well from the hearing of the name."
_Carapresa_ signifies "a dear or precious prize, gain or capture."]

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

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

[Footnote 274: This name is apparently a distortion of the Arabic
_Amir Abdullah_.]

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

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


[Day the Fifth]


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

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

[Footnote 275: Clement V. early in the fourteenth century removed the
Papal See to Avignon, where it continued to be during the reigns of
the five succeeding Popes, Rome being in the meantime abandoned by the
Papal Court, till Gregory XI, in the year 1376 again took up his
residence at the latter city. It is apparently to this circumstance
that Boccaccio alludes in the text.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Day the Fifth]


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

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

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

[Footnote 276: Lit. stand (_stare_), _i.e._ abide undone.]

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Day the Fifth]


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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 277: _i.e._ a native of Faenza (_Faentina_).]

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

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

[Footnote 278: _A questo fatto_, _i.e._ at the storm of Faenza.]

[Footnote 279: _i.e._ the owner of the plundered house.]

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

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


[Day the Fifth]


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 280: Iron., meaning "with how little discretion."]

[Footnote 281: Gianni (Giovanni) di Procida was a Sicilian noble, to
whose efforts in stirring up the island to revolt against Charles of
Anjou was mainly due the popular rising known as the Sicilian Vespers
(A.D. 1283) which expelled the French usurper from Sicily and
transferred the crown to the house of Arragon. The Frederick (A.D.
1296-1337) named in the text was the fourth prince of the latter

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


[Day the Fifth]


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

[Footnote 282: William II. (A.D. 1166-1189), the last (legitimate)
king of the Norman dynasty in Sicily, called the Good, to distinguish
him from his father, William the Bad.]

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

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

[Footnote 283: Apparently a pleasure-garden, without a house attached
in which they might have taken shelter from the rain.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Day the Fifth]


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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 284: _i.e._ of her sin.]

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

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

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


[Day the Fifth]


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

[Footnote 285: Syn. your charms (_la vostra vaghezza_).]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Day the Fifth]


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

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

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

     "Tidbits for wenches young;
     Gags[287] for the old wife's tongue."

[Footnote 286: _i.e._ she was grown so repulsively ugly in her old
age, that no one cared to do her even so trifling a service as giving
her a spark in tinder to light her fire withal.]

[Footnote 287: Or chokebits (_stranguglioni_).]

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

[Footnote 288: _i.e._ that they may serve to purchase remission from
purgatory for the souls of her dead relatives, instead of the burning
of candles and tapers, which is held by the Roman Catholic Church to
have that effect.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 289: _i.e._ a hypocritical sham devotee, covering a lewd
life with an appearance of sanctity.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

[Footnote 290: Lit. a due or deserved bite (_debito morso_). I mention
this to show the connection with teeth.]

[Footnote 291: An ellipsis of a kind common in Boccaccio and indeed in
all the old Italian writers, meaning "it may be useful to enlarge upon
the subject in question."]

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

[Footnote 292: The songs proposed by Dioneo are all apparently of a
light, if not a wanton, character and "not fit to be sung before

         O Love, the amorous light
     That beameth from yon fair one's lovely eyes
     Hath made me thine and hers in servant-guise.

     The splendour of her lovely eyes, it wrought
       That first thy flames were kindled in my breast,
         Passing thereto through mine;
     Yea, and thy virtue first unto my thought
       Her visage fair it was made manifest,
         Which picturing, I twine
         And lay before her shrine
     All virtues, that to her I sacrifice,
     Become the new occasion of my sighs.

     Thus, dear my lord, thy vassal am I grown
       And of thy might obediently await
         Grace for my lowliness;
     Yet wot I not if wholly there be known
       The high desire that in my breast thou'st set
         And my sheer faith, no less,
         Of her who doth possess
     My heart so that from none beneath the skies,
     Save her alone, peace would I take or prize.

     Wherefore I pray thee, sweet my lord and sire,
       Discover it to her and cause her taste
         Some scantling of thy heat
     To-me-ward,--for thou seest that in the fire,
       Loving, I languish and for torment waste
         By inches at her feet,--
         And eke in season meet
     Commend me to her favour on such wise
     As I would plead for thee, should need arise.[293]

[Footnote 293: This singularly naïve give-and-take fashion of asking a
favour of a God recalls the old Scotch epitaph cited by Mr. George

     Here lie I Martin Elginbrodde:
     Hae mercy o' my soul, Lord God;
     As I wad do, were I Lord God
     And ye were Martin Elginbrodde.]

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


_Day the Sixth_


The moon, being now in the middest heaven, had lost its radiance and
every part of our world was bright with the new coming light, when,
the queen arising and letting call her company, they all with slow
step fared forth and rambled over the dewy grass to a little distance
from the fair hill, holding various discourse of one thing and another
and debating of the more or less goodliness of the stories told, what
while they renewed their laughter at the various adventures related
therein, till such time as the sun mounting high and beginning to wax
hot, it seemed well to them all to turn homeward. Wherefore, reversing
their steps, they returned to the palace and there, by the queen's
commandment, the tables being already laid and everything strewn with
sweet-scented herbs and fair flowers, they addressed themselves to
eat, ere the heat should grow greater. This being joyously
accomplished, ere they did otherwhat, they sang divers goodly and
pleasant canzonets, after which some went to sleep, whilst some sat
down to play at chess and other some at tables and Dioneo fell to
singing, in concert with Lauretta, of Troilus and Cressida. Then, the
hour come for their reassembling after the wonted fashion,[294] they
all, being summoned on the part of the queen, seated themselves, as
of their usance, about the fountain; but, as she was about to call for
the first story, there befell a thing that had not yet befallen there,
to wit, that a great clamour was heard by her and by all, made by the
wenches and serving-men in the kitchen.

[Footnote 294: Lit. for their returning to consistory (_del dovere a
concistoro tornare_).]

The seneschal, being called and questioned who it was that cried thus
and what might be the occasion of the turmoil, answered that the
clamour was between Licisca and Tindaro, but that he knew not the
cause thereof, being but then come thither to make them bide quiet,
whenas he had been summoned on her part. The queen bade him
incontinent fetch thither the two offenders and they being come,
enquired what was the cause of their clamour; whereto Tindaro offering
to reply, Licisca, who was well in years and somewhat overmasterful,
being heated with the outcry she had made, turned to him with an angry
air and said, "Mark this brute of a man who dareth to speak before me,
whereas I am! Let me speak." Then, turning again to the queen,
"Madam," quoth she, "this fellow would teach me, forsooth, to know
Sicofante's wife and neither more nor less than as if I had not been
familiar with her, would fain give me to believe that, the first night
her husband lay with her, Squire Maul[295] made his entry into Black
Hill[296] by force and with effusion of blood; and I say that it is
not true; nay, he entered there in peace and to the great contentment
of those within. Marry, this fellow is simple enough to believe
wenches to be such ninnies that they stand to lose their time, abiding
the commodity of their fathers and brothers, who six times out of
seven tarry three or four years more than they should to marry them.
Well would they fare, forsooth, were they to wait so long! By Christ
His faith (and I should know what I say, when I swear thus) I have not
a single gossip who went a maid to her husband; and as for the wives,
I know full well how many and what tricks they play their husbands;
and this blockhead would teach me to know women, as if I had been born

[Footnote 295: _Messer Mazza_, _i.e._ veretrum.]

[Footnote 296: _Monte Nero_, _i.e._ vas muliebre.]

What while Licisca spoke, the ladies kept up such a laughing that you
might have drawn all their teeth; and the queen imposed silence upon
her a good half dozen times, but to no purpose; she stinted not till
she had said her say. When she had at last made an end of her talk,
the queen turned to Dioneo and said, laughing, "Dioneo, this is a
matter for thy jurisdiction; wherefore, when we shall have made an end
of our stories, thou shalt proceed to give final judgment thereon."
Whereto he answered promptly, "Madam, the judgment is already given,
without hearing more of the matter; and I say that Licisca is in the
right and opine that it is even as she saith and that Tindaro is an
ass." Licisca, hearing this, fell a-laughing and turning to Tindaro,
said, "I told thee so; begone and God go with thee; thinkest thou thou
knowest better than I, thou whose eyes are not yet dry?[297] Gramercy,
I have not lived here below for nothing, no, not I!" And had not the
queen with an angry air imposed silence on her and sent her and
Tindaro away, bidding her make no more words or clamour, an she would
not be flogged, they had had nought to do all that day but attend to
her. When they were gone, the queen called on Filomena to make a
beginning with the day's stories and she blithely began thus:

[Footnote 297: _i.e._ who are yet a child, in modern parlance, "Thou
whose lips are yet wet with thy mother's milk."]


[Day the Sixth]


"Young ladies, like as stars, in the clear nights, are the ornaments
of the heavens and the flowers and the leaf-clad shrubs, in the
Spring, of the green fields and the hillsides, even so are
praiseworthy manners and goodly discourse adorned by sprightly
sallies, the which, for that they are brief, beseem women yet better
than men, inasmuch as much speaking is more forbidden to the former
than to the latter. Yet, true it is, whatever the cause, whether it be
the meanness of our[298] understanding or some particular grudge borne
by heaven to our times, that there be nowadays few or no women left
who know how to say a witty word in due season or who, an it be said
to them, know how to apprehend it as it behoveth; the which is a
general reproach to our whole sex. However, for that enough hath been
said aforetime on the subject by Pampinea,[299] I purpose to say no
more thereof; but, to give you to understand how much goodliness there
is in witty sayings, when spoken in due season, it pleaseth me to
recount to you the courteous fashion in which a lady imposed silence
upon a gentleman.

[Footnote 298: _i.e._ women's.]

[Footnote 299: See ante, p. 43, Introduction to the last story of the
First Day.]

As many of you ladies may either know by sight or have heard tell,
there was not long since in our city a noble and well-bred and
well-spoken gentlewoman, whose worth merited not that her name be left
unsaid. She was called, then, Madam Oretta and was the wife of Messer
Geri Spina. She chanced to be, as we are, in the country, going from
place to place, by way of diversion, with a company of ladies and
gentlemen, whom she had that day entertained to dinner at her house,
and the way being belike somewhat long from the place whence they set
out to that whither they were all purposed to go afoot, one of the
gentlemen said to her, 'Madam Oretta, an you will, I will carry you
a-horseback great part of the way we have to go with one of the finest
stories in the world.' 'Nay, sir,' answered the lady, 'I pray you
instantly thereof; indeed, it will be most agreeable to me.' Master
cavalier, who maybe fared no better, sword at side than tale on
tongue, hearing this, began a story of his, which of itself was in
truth very goodly; but he, now thrice or four or even half a dozen
times repeating one same word, anon turning back and whiles saying, 'I
said not aright,' and often erring in the names and putting one for
another, marred it cruelly, more by token that he delivered himself
exceedingly ill, having regard to the quality of the persons and the
nature of the incidents of his tale. By reason whereof, Madam Oretta,
hearkening to him, was many a time taken with a sweat and failing of
the heart, as she were sick and near her end, and at last, being
unable to brook the thing any more and seeing the gentleman engaged in
an imbroglio from which he was not like to extricate himself, she said
to him pleasantly, 'Sir, this horse of yours hath too hard a trot;
wherefore I pray you be pleased to set me down.' The gentleman, who,
as it chanced, understood a hint better than he told a story, took the
jest in good part and turning it off with a laugh, fell to discoursing
of other matters and left unfinished the story that he had begun and
conducted so ill."


[Day the Sixth]


Madam Oretta's saying was greatly commended of all, ladies and men,
and the queen bidding Pampinea follow on, she began thus: "Fair
ladies, I know not of mine own motion to resolve me which is the more
at fault, whether nature in fitting to a noble soul a mean body or
fortune in imposing a mean condition upon a body endowed with a noble
soul, as in one our townsman Cisti and in many another we may have
seen it happen; which Cisti being gifted with a very lofty spirit,
fortune made him a baker. And for this, certes, I should curse both
nature and fortune like, did I not know the one to be most discreet
and the other to have a thousand eyes, albeit fools picture her blind;
and I imagine, therefore, that, being exceeding well-advised, they do
that which is oftentimes done of human beings, who, uncertain of
future events, bury their most precious things, against their
occasions, in the meanest places of their houses, as being the least
suspect, and thence bring them forth in their greatest needs, the mean
place having the while kept them more surely than would the goodly
chamber. And so, meseemeth, do the governors of the world hide
oftentimes their most precious things under the shadow of crafts and
conditions reputed most mean, to the end that, bringing them forth
therefrom in time of need, their lustre may show the brighter. Which
how Cisti the baker made manifest, though in but a trifling matter,
restoring to Messer Geri Spina (whom the story but now told of Madam
Oretta, who was his wife, hath recalled to my memory) the eyes of the
understanding, it pleaseth me to show you in a very short story.

I must tell you, then, that Pope Boniface, with whom Messer Geri
Spina was in very great favour, having despatched to Florence certain
of his gentlemen on an embassy concerning sundry important matters of
his, they lighted down at the house of Messer Geri and he treating the
pope's affairs in company with them, it chanced, whatever might have
been the occasion thereof, that he and they passed well nigh every
morning afoot before Santa Maria Ughi, where Cisti the baker had his
bakehouse and plied his craft in person. Now, albeit fortune had
appointed Cisti a humble enough condition, she had so far at the least
been kind to him therein that he was grown very rich and without ever
choosing to abandon it for any other, lived very splendidly, having,
amongst his other good things, the best wines, white and red, that
were to be found in Florence or in the neighbouring country. Seeing
Messer Geri and the pope's ambassadors pass every morning before his
door and the heat being great, he bethought himself that it were a
great courtesy to give them to drink of his good white wine; but,
having regard to his own condition and that of Messer Geri, he deemed
it not a seemly thing to presume to invite them, but determined to
bear himself on such wise as should lead Messer Geri to invite

Accordingly, having still on his body a very white doublet and an
apron fresh from the wash, which bespoke him rather a miller than a
baker, he let set before his door, every morning, towards the time
when he looked for Messer Geri and the ambassadors to pass, a new
tinned pail of fair water and a small pitcher of new Bolognese ware,
full of his good white wine, together with two beakers, which seemed
of silver, so bright they were, and seated himself there, against they
should pass, when, after clearing his throat once or twice, he fell to
drinking of that his wine with such a relish that he had made a dead
man's mouth water for it. Messer Geri, having seen him do thus one and
two mornings, said on the third, 'How now, Cisti? Is it good?'
Whereupon he started to his feet and said, 'Ay is it, Sir; but how
good I cannot give you to understand, except you taste thereof.'
Messer Geri, in whom either the nature of the weather or belike the
relish with which he saw Cisti drink had begotten a thirst, turned to
the ambassadors and said, smiling, 'Gentlemen, we shall do well to
taste this honest man's wine; belike it is such that we shall not
repent thereof.' Accordingly, he made with them towards Cisti, who let
bring a goodly settle out of his bakehouse and praying them sit, said
to their serving-men, who pressed forward to rinse the beakers, 'Stand
back, friends, and leave this office to me, for that I know no less
well how to skink than to wield the baking-peel; and look you not to
taste a drop thereof.' So saying, he with his own hands washed out
four new and goodly beakers and letting bring a little pitcher of his
good wine, busied himself with giving Messer Geri and his companions
to drink, to whom the wine seemed the best they had drunken that great
while; wherefore they commended it greatly, and well nigh every
morning, whilst the ambassadors abode there, Messer Geri went thither
to drink in company with them.

After awhile, their business being despatched and they about to
depart, Messer Geri made them a magnificent banquet, whereto he bade
a number of the most worshipful citizens and amongst the rest, Cisti,
who would, however, on no condition go thither; whereupon Messer Geri
bade one of his serving-men go fetch a flask of the baker's wine and
give each guest a half beaker thereof with the first course. The
servant, despiteful most like for that he had never availed to drink
of the wine, took a great flagon, which when Cisti saw, 'My son,' said
he, 'Messer Geri sent thee not to me.' The man avouched again and
again that he had, but, getting none other answer, returned to Messer
Geri and reported it to him. Quoth he, 'Go back to him and tell him
that I do indeed send thee to him; and if he still make thee the same
answer, ask him to whom I send thee, [an it be not to him.]'
Accordingly, the servant went back to the baker and said to him,
'Cisti, for certain Messer Geri sendeth me to thee and none other.'
'For certain, my son,' answered the baker, 'he doth it not.' 'Then,'
said the man, 'to whom doth he send me?' 'To the Arno,' replied Cisti;
which answer when the servant reported to Messer Geri, the eyes of his
understanding were of a sudden opened and he said to the man, 'Let me
see what flask thou carriedst thither.'

When he saw the great flagon aforesaid, he said, 'Cisti saith sooth,'
and giving the man a sharp reproof, made him take a sortable flask,
which when Cisti saw, 'Now,' quoth he, 'I know full well that he
sendeth thee to me,' and cheerfully filled it unto him. Then, that
same day, he let fill a little cask with the like wine and causing
carry it softly to Messer Geri's house, went presently thither and
finding him there, said to him, 'Sir. I would not have you think that
the great flagon of this morning frightened me; nay, but, meseeming
that which I have of these past days shown you with my little pitchers
had escaped your mind, to wit, that this is no household wine,[300] I
wished to recall it to you. But, now, for that I purpose no longer to
be your steward thereof, I have sent it all to you; henceforward do
with it as it pleaseth you.' Messer Geri set great store by Cisti's
present and rendering him such thanks as he deemed sortable, ever
after held him for a man of great worth and for friend."

[Footnote 300: Lit. Family wine (_vin da famiglia_), _i.e._ no wine
for servants' or general drinking, but a choice vintage, to be
reserved for special occasions.]


[Day the Sixth]


Pampinea having made an end of her story and both Cisti's reply and
his liberality having been much commended of all, it pleased the queen
that the next story should be told be Lauretta, who blithely began as
follows, "Jocund ladies, first Pampinea and now Filomena have spoken
truly enough touching our little worth and the excellence of pithy
sayings, whereto that there may be no need now to return, I would
fain remind you, over and above that which hath been said on the
subject, that the nature of smart sayings is such that they should
bite upon the hearer, not as the dog, but as the sheep biteth; for
that, an a trait bit like a dog, it were not a trait, but an affront.
The right mean in this was excellently well hit both by Madam Oretta's
speech and Cisti's reply. It is true that, if a smart thing be said by
way of retort, and the answerer biteth like a dog, having been bitten
on like wise, meseemeth he is not to be blamed as he would have been,
had this not been the case; wherefore it behoveth us look how and with
whom, no less than when and where, we bandy jests; to which
considerations, a prelate of ours, taking too little heed, received at
least as sharp a bite as he thought to give, as I shall show you in a
little story.

Messer Antonio d'Orso, a learned and worthy prelate, being Bishop of
Florence, there came thither a Catalan gentleman, called Messer Dego
della Ratta, marshal for King Robert, who, being a man of a very fine
person and a great amorist, took a liking to one among other
Florentine ladies, a very fair lady and granddaughter to a brother of
the said bishop, and hearing that her husband, albeit a man of good
family, was very sordid and miserly, agreed with him to give him five
hundred gold florins, so he would suffer him lie a night with his
wife. Accordingly, he let gild so many silver poplins,[301] a coin
which was then current, and having lain with the lady, though against
her will, gave them to the husband. The thing after coming to be known
everywhere, the sordid wretch of a husband reaped both loss and scorn,
but the bishop, like a discreet man as he was, affected to know
nothing of the matter. Wherefore, he and the marshal consorting much
together, it chanced, as they rode side by side with each other, one
St. John's Day, viewing the ladies on either side of the way where the
mantle is run for,[302] the prelate espied a young lady,--of whom this
present pestilence hath bereft us and whom all you ladies must have
known, Madam Nonna de' Pulci by name, cousin to Messer Alessio
Rinucci, a fresh and fair young woman, both well-spoken and
high-spirited, then not long before married in Porta San Piero,--and
pointed her out to the marshal; then, being near her, he laid his hand
on the latter's shoulder and said to her, 'Nonna, how deemest thou of
this gallant? Thinkest thou thou couldst make a conquest of him?' It
seemed to the lady that those words somewhat trenched upon her honour
and were like to sully it in the eyes of those (and there were many
there) who heard them; wherefore, not thinking to purge away the soil,
but to return blow for blow, she promptly answered, 'Maybe, sir, he
would not make a conquest of me; but, in any case, I should want good
money.' The marshal and the bishop, hearing this, felt themselves
alike touched to the quick by her speech, the one as the author of
the cheat put upon the bishop's brother's granddaughter and the other
as having suffered the affront in the person of his kinswoman, and
made off, shamefast and silent, without looking at one another or
saying aught more to her that day. Thus, then, the young lady having
been bitten, it was not forbidden her to bite her biter with a

[Footnote 301: A silver coin of about the size and value of our silver
penny, which, when gilded, would pass muster well enough for a gold
florin, unless closely examined.]

[Footnote 302: _Il palio_, a race anciently run at Florence on St.
John's Day, as that of the Barberi at Rome during the Carnival.]


[Day the Sixth]


Lauretta being silent and Nonna having been mightily commended of all,
the queen charged Neifile to follow on, and she said, "Although,
lovesome ladies, a ready wit doth often furnish folk with words both
prompt and useful and goodly, according to the circumstances, yet
fortune whiles cometh to the help of the fearful and putteth of a
sudden into their mouths such answers as might never of malice
aforethought be found of the speaker, as I purpose to show you by my

Currado Gianfigliazzi, as each of you ladies may have both heard and
seen, hath still been a noble citizen of our city, liberal and
magnificent, and leading a knightly life, hath ever, letting be for
the present his weightier doings, taken delight in hawks and hounds.
Having one day with a falcon of his brought down a crane and finding
it young and fat, he sent it to a good cook he had, a Venetian hight
Chichibio, bidding him roast it for supper and dress it well.
Chichibio, who looked the new-caught gull he was, trussed the crane
and setting it to the fire, proceeded to cook it diligently. When it
was all but done and gave out a very savoury smell, it chanced that a
wench of the neighbourhood, Brunetta by name, of whom Chichibio was
sore enamoured, entered the kitchen and smelling the crane and seeing
it, instantly besought him to give her a thigh thereof. He answered
her, singing, and said, 'Thou shalt not have it from me, Mistress
Brunetta, thou shalt not have it from me.' Whereat she, being vexed,
said to him, 'By God His faith, an thou give it me not, thou shalt
never have of me aught that shall pleasure thee.' In brief, many were
the words between them and at last, Chichibio, not to anger his
mistress, cut off one of the thighs of the crane and gave it her.

The bird being after set before Messer Currado and certain stranger
guests of his, lacking a thigh, and the former marvelling thereat, he
let call Chichibio and asked him what was come of the other thigh;
whereto the liar of a Venetian answered without hesitation, 'Sir,
cranes have but one thigh and one leg.' 'What a devil?' cried Currado
in a rage. 'They have but one thigh and one leg? Have I never seen a
crane before?' 'Sir,' replied Chichibio, 'it is as I tell you, and
whenas it pleaseth you, I will cause you see it in the quick.'
Currado, out of regard for the strangers he had with him, chose not to
make more words of the matter, but said, 'Since thou sayst thou wilt
cause me see it in the quick, a thing I never yet saw or heard tell
of, I desire to see it to-morrow morning, in which case I shall be
content; but I swear to thee, by Christ His body, that, an it be
otherwise, I will have thee served on such wise that thou shalt still
have cause to remember my name to thy sorrow so long as thou livest.'
There was an end of the talk for that night; but, next morning, as
soon as it was day, Currado, whose anger was nothing abated for sleep,
arose, still full of wrath, and bade bring the horses; then, mounting
Chichibio upon a rouncey, he carried him off towards a watercourse, on
whose banks cranes were still to be seen at break of day, saying, 'We
shall soon see who lied yestereve, thou or I.'

Chichibio, seeing that his master's wrath yet endured and that needs
must be made good his lie and knowing not how he should avail
thereunto, rode after Currado in the greatest fright that might be,
and fain would he have fled, so but he might. But, seeing no way of
escape, he looked now before him and now behind and now on either side
and took all he saw for cranes standing on two feet. Presently, coming
near to the river, he chanced to catch sight, before any other, of a
round dozen of cranes on the bank, all perched on one leg, as they use
to do, when they sleep; whereupon he straightway showed them to
Currado, saying, 'Now, sir, if you look at those that stand yonder,
you may very well see that I told you the truth yesternight, to wit,
that cranes have but one thigh and one leg.' Currado, seeing them,
answered, 'Wait and I will show thee that they have two,' and going
somewhat nearer to them, he cried out, 'Ho! Ho!' At this the cranes,
putting down the other leg, all, after some steps, took to flight;
whereupon Currado said to him, 'How sayst thou now, malapert knave
that thou art? Deemest thou they have two legs?' Chichibio, all
confounded and knowing not whether he stood on his head or his
heels,[303] answered, 'Ay, sir; but you did not cry, "Ho! Ho!" to
yesternight's crane; had you cried thus, it would have put out the
other thigh and the other leg, even as did those yonder.' This reply
so tickled Currado that all his wrath was changed into mirth and
laughter and he said, 'Chichibio, thou art in the right; indeed, I
should have done it.' Thus, then, with his prompt and comical answer
did Chichibio avert ill luck and made his peace with his master."

[Footnote 303: Lit. knowing not whence himself came.]


[Day the Sixth]


Neifile being silent and the ladies having taken much pleasure in
Chichibio's reply, Pamfilo, by the queen's desire, spoke thus:
"Dearest ladies, it chanceth often that, like as fortune whiles hideth
very great treasures of worth and virtue under mean conditions, as
hath been a little before shown by Pampinea, even so, under the
sorriest of human forms are marvellous wits found to have been lodged
by nature; and this very plainly appeared in two townsmen of ours, of
whom I purpose briefly to entertain you. For that the one, who was
called Messer Forese da Rabatta, though little of person and
misshapen, with a flat camoys face, that had been an eyesore on the
shoulders of the foulest cadger in Florence, was yet of such
excellence in the interpretation of the laws, that he was of many men
of worth reputed a very treasury of civil right; whilst the other,
whose name was Giotto, had so excellent a genius that there was
nothing of all which Nature, mother and mover of all things,
presenteth unto us by the ceaseless revolution of the heavens, but he
with pencil and pen and brush depicted it and that so closely that not
like, nay, but rather the thing itself it seemed, insomuch that men's
visual sense is found to have been oftentimes deceived in things of
his fashion, taking that for real which was but depictured. Wherefore,
he having brought back to the light this art, which had for many an
age lain buried under the errors of certain folk who painted more to
divert the eyes of the ignorant than to please the understanding of
the judicious, he may deservedly be styled one of the chief glories of
Florence, the more so that he bore the honours he had gained with the
utmost humility and although, while he lived, chief over all else in
his art, he still refused to be called master, which title, though
rejected by him, shone so much the more gloriously in him as it was
with greater eagerness greedily usurped by those who knew less than
he, or by his disciples. Yet, great as was his skill, he was not
therefore anywise goodlier of person or better favoured than Messer
Forese. But, to come to my story:

I must tell you that Messer Forese and Giotto had each his country
house at Mugello and the former, having gone to visit his estates, at
that season of the summer when the Courts hold holiday, and returning
thence on a sorry cart-horse, chanced to fall in with the aforesaid
Giotto, who had been on the same errand and was then on his way back
to Florence nowise better equipped than himself in horse and
accoutrements. Accordingly, they joined company and fared on softly,
like old men as they were. Presently, it chanced, as we often see it
happen in summer time, that a sudden shower overtook them, from which,
as quickliest they might, they took shelter in the house of a
husbandman, a friend and acquaintance of both of them. After awhile,
the rain showing no sign of giving over and they wishing to reach
Florence by daylight, they borrowed of their host two old homespun
cloaks and two hats, rusty with age, for that there were no better to
be had, and set out again upon their way.

When they had gone awhile and were all drenched and bemired with the
splashing that their hackneys kept up with their hoofs--things which
use not to add worship to any one's looks,--the weather began to clear
a little and the two wayfarers, who had long fared on in silence, fell
to conversing together. Messer Forese, as he rode, hearkening to
Giotto, who was a very fine talker, fell to considering his companion
from head to foot and seeing him everywise so ill accoutred and in
such scurvy case, burst out laughing and without taking any thought to
his own plight, said to him, 'How sayst thou, Giotto? An there
encountered us here a stranger who had never seen thee, thinkest thou
he would believe thee to be, as thou art, the finest painter in the
world?' 'Ay, sir,' answered Giotto forthright, 'methinketh he might
e'en believe it whenas, looking upon you, he should believe that you
knew your A B C.' Messer Forese, hearing this, was sensible of his
error and saw himself paid with money such as the wares he had

[Footnote 304: Or, as we should say, "in his own coin."]


[Day the Sixth]


The ladies yet laughed at Giotto's prompt retort, when the queen
charged Fiammetta follow on and she proceeded to speak thus: "Young
ladies, the mention by Pamfilo of the cadgers of Florence, whom
peradventure you know not as doth he, hath brought to my mind a story,
wherein, without deviating from our appointed theme, it is
demonstrated how great is their nobility; and it pleaseth me,
therefore, to relate it.

It is no great while since there was in our city a young man called
Michele Scalza, who was the merriest and most agreeable man in the
world and he had still the rarest stories in hand, wherefore the young
Florentines were exceeding glad to have his company whenas they made a
party of pleasure amongst themselves. It chanced one day, he being
with certain folk at Monte Ughi, that the question was started among
them of who were the best and oldest gentlemen of Florence. Some said
the Uberti, others the Lamberti, and one this family and another that,
according as it occurred to his mind; which Scalza hearing, he fell
a-laughing and said, 'Go to, addlepates that you are! You know not
what you say. The best gentlemen and the oldest, not only of Florence,
but of all the world or the Maremma,[305] are the Cadgers,[306] a
matter upon which all the phisopholers and every one who knoweth them,
as I do, are of accord; and lest you should understand it of others, I
speak of the Cadgers your neighbors of Santa Maria Maggiore.'

[Footnote 305: A commentator notes that the adjunction to the world of
the Maremma (cf. Elijer Goff, "The Irish Question has for some
centuries been enjoyed by _the universe and other parts_") produces a
risible effect and gives the reader to understand that Scalza broaches
the question only by way of a joke. The same may be said of the
jesting inversion of the word philosophers (phisopholers, Fisofoli) in
the next line.]

[Footnote 306: _Baronci_, the Florentine name for what we should call
professional beggars, "mumpers, chanters and Abrahammen," called
_Bari_ and _Barocci_ in other parts of Italy. This story has been a
prodigious stumbling-block to former translators, not one of whom
appears to have had the slightest idea of Boccaccio's meaning.]

When the young men, who looked for him to say otherwhat, heard this,
they all made mock of him and said, 'Thou gullest us, as if we knew
not the Cadgers, even as thou dost.' 'By the Evangels,' replied
Scalza, 'I gull you not; nay, I speak the truth, and if there be any
here who will lay a supper thereon, to be given to the winner and half
a dozen companions of his choosing, I will willingly hold the wager;
and I will do yet more for you, for I will abide by the judgment of
whomsoever you will.' Quoth one of them, called Neri Mannini, 'I am
ready to try to win the supper in question'; whereupon, having agreed
together to take Piero di Fiorentino, in whose house they were, to
judge, they betook themselves to him, followed by all the rest, who
looked to see Scalza lose and to make merry over his discomfiture, and
recounted to him all that had passed. Piero, who was a discreet young
man, having first heard Neri's argument, turned to Scalza and said to
him, 'And thou, how canst thou prove this that thou affirmest?' 'How,
sayest thou?' answered Scalza. 'Nay, I will prove it by such reasoning
that not only thou, but he who denieth it, shall acknowledge that I
speak sooth. You know that, the ancienter men are, the nobler they
are; and so was it said but now among these. Now the Cadgers are more
ancient than any one else, so that they are nobler; and showing you
how they are the most ancient, I shall undoubtedly have won the wager.
You must know, then, that the Cadgers were made by God the Lord in the
days when He first began to learn to draw; but the rest of mankind
were made after He knew how to draw. And to assure yourselves that in
this I say sooth, do but consider the Cadgers in comparison with other
folk; whereas you see all the rest of mankind with faces well composed
and duly proportioned, you may see the Cadgers, this with a visnomy
very long and strait and with a face out of all measure broad; one
hath too long and another too short a nose and a third hath a chin
jutting out and turned upward and huge jawbones that show as they were
those of an ass, whilst some there be who have one eye bigger than the
other and other some who have one set lower than the other, like the
faces that children used to make, whenas they first begin to learn to
draw. Wherefore, as I have already said, it is abundantly apparent
that God the Lord made them, what time He was learning to draw; so
that they are more ancient and consequently nobler than the rest of
mankind.' At this, both Piero, who was the judge, and Neri, who had
wagered the supper, and all the rest, hearing Scalza's comical
argument and remembering themselves,[307] fell all a-laughing and
affirmed that he was in the right and had won the supper, for that the
Cadgers were assuredly the noblest and most ancient gentlemen that
were to be found not in Florence alone, but in the world or the
Maremma. Wherefore it was very justly said of Pamfilo, seeking to show
the foulness of Messer Forese's visnomy, that it would have showed
notably ugly on one of the Cadgers."

[Footnote 307: _i.e._ of the comical fashion of the Cadgers.]


[Day the Sixth]


Fiammetta was now silent and all laughed yet at the novel argument
used by Scalza for the ennoblement over all of the Cadgers, when the
queen enjoined Filostrato to tell and he accordingly began to say, "It
is everywise a fine thing, noble ladies, to know how to speak well,
but I hold it yet goodlier to know how to do it whereas necessity
requireth it, even as a gentlewoman, of whom I purpose to entertain
you, knew well how to do on such wise that not only did she afford her
hearers matter for mirth and laughter, but did herself loose from the
toils of an ignominious death, as you shall presently hear.

There was, then, aforetime, in the city of Prato, a statute in truth
no less blameworthy than cruel, which, without making any distinction,
ordained that any woman found by her husband in adultery with any her
lover should be burnt, even as she who should be discovered to have
sold her favours for money. What while this statute was in force, it
befell that a noble and beautiful lady, by name Madam Filippa, who was
of a singularly amorous complexion, was one night found by Rinaldo de'
Pugliesi her husband, in her own chamber in the arms of Lazzerino de'
Guazzagliotri, a noble and handsome youth of that city, whom she loved
even as herself. Rinaldo, seeing this, was sore enraged and scarce
contained himself from falling upon them and slaying them; and but
that he feared for himself, an he should ensue the promptings of his
anger, he had certainly done it. However, he forbore from this, but
could not refrain from seeking of the law of Prato that which it was
not permitted him to accomplish with his own hand, to wit, the death
of his wife. Having, therefore, very sufficient evidence to prove the
lady's default, no sooner was the day come than, without taking other
counsel, he lodged an accusation against her and caused summon her
before the provost.

Madam Filippa, being great of heart, as women commonly are who are
verily in love, resolved, although counselled to the contrary by many
of her friends and kinsfolk, to appear, choosing rather, confessing
the truth, to die with an undaunted spirit, than, meanly fleeing, to
live an outlaw in exile and confess herself unworthy of such a lover
as he in whose arms she had been the foregoing night. Wherefore,
presenting herself before the provost, attended by a great company of
men and ladies and exhorted of all to deny the charge, she demanded,
with a firm voice and an assured air, what he would with her. The
magistrate, looking upon her and seeing her very fair and commendable
of carriage and according as her words testified, of a lofty spirit,
began to have compassion of her, fearing lest she should confess
somewhat wherefore it should behoove him, for his own honour's sake,
condemn her to die. However, having no choice but to question her of
that which was laid to her charge, he said to her, 'Madam, as you see,
here is Rinaldo your husband, who complaineth of you, avouching
himself to have found you in adultery with another man and demanding
that I should punish you therefor by putting you to death, according
to the tenor of a statute which here obtaineth; but this I cannot do,
except you confess it; wherefore look well what you answer and tell me
if that be true whereof your husband impeacheth you.'

The lady, no wise dismayed, replied very cheerfully, 'Sir, true it is
that Rinaldo is my husband and that he found me last night in the arms
of Lazzarino, wherein, for the great and perfect love I bear him, I
have many a time been; nor am I anywise minded to deny this. But, as I
am assured you know, laws should be common to all and made with the
consent of those whom they concern; and this is not the case with this
statute, which is binding only upon us unhappy women, who might far
better than men avail to satisfy many; more by token that, when it was
made, not only did no woman yield consent thereunto, but none of us
was even cited to do so; wherefore it may justly be styled naught.
However, an you choose, to the prejudice of my body and of your own
soul, to be the executor of this unrighteous law, it resteth with you
to do so; but, ere you proceed to adjudge aught, I pray you do me one
slight favour, to wit, that you question my husband if at all times
and as often as it pleased him, without ever saying him nay, I have or
not vouchsafed him entire commodity of myself.'

Rinaldo, without waiting to be questioned of the provost, straightway
made answer that undoubtedly the lady had, at his every request,
accorded him his every pleasure of herself; whereupon, 'Then, my lord
provost,' straightway rejoined she, 'if he have still taken of me that
which was needful and pleasing to him, what, I ask you, was or am I to
do with that which remaineth over and above his requirements? Should I
cast it to the dogs? Was it not far better to gratify withal a
gentleman who loveth me more than himself, than to leave it waste or
spoil?' Now well nigh all the people of Prato had flocked thither to
the trial of such a matter and of so fair and famous a lady, and
hearing so comical a question, they all, after much laughter, cried
out as with one voice that she was in the right of it and that she
said well. Moreover, ere they departed thence, at the instance of the
provost, they modified the cruel statute and left it to apply to those
women only who should for money make default to their husbands.
Thereupon Rinaldo, having taken nought but shame by so fond an
emprise, departed the court, and the lady returned in triumph to her
own house, joyful and free and in a manner raised up out of the fire."


[Day the Sixth]


The story told by Filostrato at first touched the hearts of the
listening ladies with some little shamefastness and they gave token
thereof by a modest redness that appeared upon their faces; but, after
looking one at another, they hearkened thereto, tittering the while
and scarce able to abstain from laughing. As soon as he was come to
the end thereof, the queen turned to Emilia and bade her follow on,
whereupon, sighing no otherwise than as she had been aroused from a
dream, she began, "Lovesome lasses, for that long thought hath held me
far from here, I shall, to obey our queen content myself with
[relating] a story belike much slighter than that which I might have
bethought myself to tell, had my mind been present here, recounting to
you the silly default of a damsel, corrected by an uncle of hers with
a jocular retort, had she been woman enough to have apprehended it.

A certain Fresco da Celatico, then, had a niece familiarly called
Ciesca,[308] who, having a comely face and person (though none of
those angelical beauties that we have often seen aforetime), set so
much store by herself and accounted herself so noble that she had
gotten a habit of carping at both men and women and everything she
saw, without anywise taking thought to herself, who was so much more
fashous, froward and humoursome than any other of her sex that nothing
could be done to her liking. Beside all this, she was so prideful
that, had she been of the blood royal of France, it had been
overweening; and when she went abroad, she gave herself so many airs
that she did nought but make wry faces, as if there came to her a
stench from whomsoever she saw or met. But, letting be many other
vexatious and tiresome fashions of hers, it chanced one day that she
came back to the house, where Fresco was, and seating herself near
him, all full of airs and grimaces, did nothing but puff and blow;
whereupon quoth he, 'What meaneth this, Ciesca, that, to-day being a
holiday, thou comest home so early?' To which she answered, all like
to die away with affectation, 'It is true I have come back soon, for
that I believe there were never in this city so many disagreeable and
tiresome people, both men and women, as there are to-day; there
passeth none about the streets but is hateful to me as ill-chance, and
I do not believe there is a woman in the world to whom it is more
irksome to see disagreeable folk than it is to me; wherefore I have
returned thus early, not to see them.' 'My lass,' rejoined Fresco, to
whom his niece's airs and graces were mighty displeasing, 'if
disagreeable folk be so distasteful to thee as thou sayest, never
mirror thyself in the glass, so thou wouldst live merry.' But she,
emptier than a reed, albeit herseemed she was a match for Solomon in
wit, apprehended Fresco's true speech no better than a block; nay, she
said that she chose to mirror herself in the glass like other women;
and so she abode in her folly and therein abideth yet."

[Footnote 308: An abbreviation of Francesca.]


[Day the Sixth]


The queen, seeing Emilia delivered of her story and that it rested
with none other than herself to tell, saving him who was privileged to
speak last, began thus, "Although, sprightly ladies, you have this day
taken out of my mouth at the least two stories, whereof I had purposed
to relate one, I have yet one left to tell, the end whereof compriseth
a saying of such a fashion that none, peradventure, of such
pertinence, hath yet been cited to us.

You must know, then, that there were in our city, of times past, many
goodly and commendable usances, whereof none is left there nowadays,
thanks to the avarice that hath waxed therein with wealth and hath
banished them all. Among these there was a custom to the effect that
the gentlemen of the various quarters of Florence assembled together
in divers places about the town and formed themselves into companies
of a certain number, having a care to admit thereinto such only as
might aptly bear the expense, whereof to-day the one and to-morrow the
other, and so all in turn, hold open house, each his day, for the
whole company. At these banquets they often entertained both stranger
gentlemen, whenas there came any thither, and those of the city; and
on like wise, once at the least in the year, they clad themselves
alike and rode in procession through the city on the most notable days
and whiles they held passes of arms, especially on the chief holidays
or whenas some glad news of victory or the like came to the city.

Amongst these companies was one of Messer Betto Brunelleschi,
whereinto the latter and his companions had studied amain to draw
Guido, son of Messer Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti, and not without cause;
for that, besides being one of the best logicians in the world and an
excellent natural philosopher (of which things, indeed, they recked
little), he was very sprightly and well-bred and a mighty well-spoken
man and knew better than any other to do everything that he would and
that pertained unto a gentleman, more by token that he was very rich
and knew wonder-well how to entertain whomsoever he deemed deserving
of honour. But Messer Betto had never been able to win and to have
him, and he and his companions believed that this betided for that
Guido, being whiles engaged in abstract speculations, became much
distraught from mankind; and for that he inclined somewhat to the
opinion of the Epicureans, it was reported among the common folk that
these his speculations consisted only in seeking if it might be
discovered that God was not.

It chanced one day that Guido set out from Orto San Michele and came
by way of the Corso degli Ademari, the which was oftentimes his road,
to San Giovanni, round about which there were at that present divers
great marble tombs (which are nowadays at Santa Reparata) and many
others. As he was between the columns of porphyry there and the tombs
in question and the door of the church, which was shut, Messer Betto
and his company, coming a-horseback along the Piazza di Santa
Reparata, espied him among the tombs and said, 'Let us go plague him.'
Accordingly, spurring their horses, they charged all down upon him in
sport and coming upon him ere he was aware of them, said to him,
'Guido, thou refusest to be of our company; but, harkye, whenas thou
shalt have found that God is not, what wilt thou have accomplished?'
Guido, seeing himself hemmed in by them, answered promptly,
'Gentlemen, you may say what you will to me in your own house'; then,
laying his hand on one of the great tombs aforesaid and being very
nimble of body, he took a spring and alighting on the other side, made
off, having thus rid himself of them.

The gentlemen abode looking one upon another and fell a-saying that he
was a crack-brain and that this that he had answered them amounted to
nought seeing that there where they were they had no more to do than
all the other citizens, nor Guido himself less than any of themselves.
But Messer Betto turned to them and said, 'It is you who are the
crackbrains, if you have not apprehended him. He hath courteously and
in a few words given us the sharpest rebuke in the world; for that, an
you consider aright, these tombs are the houses of the dead, seeing
they are laid and abide therein, and these, saith he, are our house,
meaning thus to show us that we and other foolish and unlettered men
are, compared with him and other men of learning, worse than dead
folk; wherefore, being here, we are in our own house.' Thereupon each
understood what Guido had meant to say and was abashed nor ever
plagued him more, but held Messer Betto thenceforward a gentleman of a
subtle wit and an understanding."


[Day the Sixth]


Each of the company being now quit of his[309] story, Dioneo perceived
that it rested with him to tell; whereupon, without awaiting more
formal commandment, he began on this wise, silence having first been
imposed on those who commended Guido's pregnant retort: "Charming
ladies, albeit I am privileged to speak of that which most liketh me,
I purpose not to-day to depart from the matter whereof you have all
very aptly spoken; but, ensuing in your footsteps, I mean to show you
how cunningly a friar of the order of St. Anthony, by name Fra
Cipolla, contrived with a sudden shift to extricate himself from a
snare[310] which had been set for him by two young men; nor should it
irk you if, for the complete telling of the story, I enlarge somewhat
in speaking, an you consider the sun, which is yet amiddleward in the

[Footnote 309: "Or her."]

[Footnote 310: Lit. to avoid or elude a scorn (_fuggire uno scorno_).]

Certaldo, as you may have heard, is a burgh of Val d' Elsa situate in
our country, which, small though it be, was once inhabited by
gentlemen and men of substance; and thither, for that he found good
pasture there, one of the friars of the order of St. Anthony was long
used to resort once a year, to get in the alms bestowed by simpletons
upon him and his brethren. His name was Fra Cipolla and he was gladly
seen there, no less belike, for his name's sake[311] than for other
reasons, seeing that these parts produce onions that are famous
throughout all Tuscany. This Fra Cipolla was little of person,
red-haired and merry of countenance, the jolliest rascal in the world,
and to boot, for all he was no scholar, he was so fine a talker and so
ready of wit that those who knew him not would not only have esteemed
him a great rhetorician, but had avouched him to be Tully himself or
may be Quintilian; and he was gossip or friend or well-wisher[312] to
well nigh every one in the country.

[Footnote 311: _Cipolla_ means onion.]

[Footnote 312: The term "well-wisher" (_benivogliente_), when
understood in relation to a woman, is generally equivalent (at least
with the older Italian writers) to "lover." See ante, passim.]

One August among others he betook himself thither according to his
wont, and on a Sunday morning, all the goodmen and goodwives of the
villages around being come to hear mass at the parish church, he came
forward, whenas it seemed to him time, and said, 'Gentlemen and
ladies, it is, as you know, your usance to send every year to the poor
of our lord Baron St. Anthony of your corn and of your oats, this
little and that much, according to his means and his devoutness, to
the intent that the blessed St. Anthony may keep watch over your
beeves and asses and swine and sheep; and besides this, you use to
pay, especially such of you as are inscribed into our company, that
small due which is payable once a year. To collect these I have been
sent by my superior, to wit, my lord abbot; wherefore, with the
blessing of God, you shall, after none, whenas you hear the bells
ring, come hither without the church, where I will make preachment to
you after the wonted fashion and you shall kiss the cross; moreover,
for that I know you all to be great devotees of our lord St. Anthony,
I will, as an especial favour show you a very holy and goodly relic,
which I myself brought aforetime from the holy lands beyond seas; and
that is one of the Angel Gabriel's feathers, which remained in the
Virgin Mary's chamber, whenas he came to announce to her in Nazareth.'
This said, he broke off and went on with his mass.

Now, when he said this, there were in the church, among many others,
two roguish young fellows, hight one Giovanni del Bragioniera and the
other Biagio Pi