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Title: Tales Of Humour, Gallantry and Romance - Selected and Translated from the Italian
Author: Anonymous
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 "Tales Of Humour, Gallantry and Romance - Selected and Translated from the Italian" ***

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TALES OF HUMOUR, GALLANTRY & ROMANCE,

Selected And Translated From The Italian.

With Sixteen Illustrative Drawings by George Cruikshank.


The Teacher Taught.........1

The Unexpected Reply........17

'Who am I?'............27

The Dead Rider ..........51

The Skilful Physician.........65

The Pomegranate Seed........77

The Fatal Mistake....... . . .113

The Dead Alive ..........121

The False Champion.........131

The Merchant of Venice........141

A Skeleton in every House.......171

The Elopement...........177

The Friar Entrapped.........191

Antonia and Veronica.........203

Belphagor, or Domestic Happiness.....213

The Sleeping Draught........229

The Counterparts..........239



ADVERTISEMENT.

These tales are translated from a variety of authors. The translator has
been chiefly led to the task by the hope of composing an entertaining
volume out of materials not generally accessible. The works in which
many of them are found, are by no means common, and the indelicacy with
which almost all collections of Italian tales are polluted, deservedly
excludes them from general perusal. Such care has, however, been
employed in the following selection, and such liberties taken with the
originals, when they appeared objectionable on this account, that it
is hoped this little book will escape the censure too justly cast upon
Italian works of humour, in general--a censure which falls heavily upon
many of the otherwise admirable tales of Boccaccio. While, however, such
trifling alterations have been made as appeared necessary, these
tales may still justly be considered as fair specimens of the Italian
_Novella_, and like the celebrated collection already alluded to,
furnish us with a very lively idea of the early manners of the Italians.
Those tales, from which our great dramatist borrowed parts of his plots,
and some of his incidents, have a double interest, both from their own
nature, and as they illustrate the process by which his genius, "by
happy alchemy of mind," turned all the materials which fell in his way
to gold. Two or three of this kind have been purposely selected.



ITALIAN TALES.



THE TEACHER TAUGHT.

There dwelt in Rome two very intimate friends and relations of the
family of Savelli, the one named Bacciuolo, and the other Pietro Paolo,
both nobly bom and possessed of sufficient wealth. These young men
determined to go and complete their studies at Bologna; one wished to
study the common law, and the other the canon law. They accordingly took
leave of their friends, and came to Bologna, and assiduously applied
themselves to their respective pursuits, which they continued for some
time. Now, as you no doubt know, the former improved himself much
sooner than Pietro Paolo, for which reason, being now a licentiate, he
determined to return to Rome, and said to Pietro Paolo--"Brother, since
I am now a licentiate, I have resolved to return home." Peter Paul
answered, "I prithee do not leave me here--oblige me by remaining the
winter--then in the spring we will go together--thou in the mean time
mayest learn some other science, by which means thou wilt not waste thy
time." Bacciuolo willingly agreed to the proposal, promised to wait for
him, and in order not to lose his time, went to the professor, and said,
"Sir, having made up my mind to remain with my friend and relation, I
would be glad if it pleased you to teach me some noble science during
my stay." The professor answered, that he would most willingly do it.
"Chuse which science you prefer, and I will teach it you with pleasure."
Bacciuolo then replied, "Worthy Sir, I would learn how to make love,
and to set about it." The professor, smiling, answered, "this is a good
joke, thou couldst not have hit on a science in which I am a greater
adept. Now then go thy ways on Sunday morning to the church of the minor
friars--there thou wilt see numbers of fine women assembled, and wilt
be able to pitch upon some one that may take thy fancy. When thou hast
selected the one, follow her until you find out where she lives--then
return to me. This is the first part of my instructions." Bacciuolo
departed, and on the following Sunday, going to the church as he had
been desired, and eyeing all the pretty women, for there were many, he
saw one among them that pleased him much--she being very handsome and
graceful. When she left the church, Bacciuolo took care to follow her
close, and saw, and marked the house where she dwelt, not however,
without the lady perceiving that the young student had taken a fancy to
her. Bacciuolo returned to the professor, and said, "I have done as you
desired me, and I have seen one whom I like very much." Upon which the
professor said he was highly pleased, and smiled at Bacciuolo, seeing
what species of science he was anxious to learn, and he said to him, "be
sure you make a point of passing by her house, as it were carelessly,
two or three times every day, and have your eyes about you, and take
care that no one observes you looking at her, but enjoy as much as thou
mayest the sight of her, and let her perceive that thou art in love with
her; then return to me. This is the second part of my instructions."
Bacciuolo left the professor, and cautiously began to walk to and
fro before the lady's house; so that the lady perceived that he must
certainly walk to and fro before the house, for the purpose of seeing
her--she, therefore, began to eye him; insomuch that Bacciuolo began to
bow most respectfully to her, and she returned the salutation several
times, the which persuaded Bacciuolo that the lady did not dislike him.
He, of course, reported the whole to the professor; who answered, "well,
I am pleased with this, and you have ruled yourself well hitherto.
Now you must endeavour to find one of those female pedlers, that sell
trinkets, purses, and such like in the streets of Bologna, and set her
to make the lady acquainted with your passion, how much you are devoted
to her, and that there is none you could prefer to her, and how happy
you would be if she would lay upon you any commands, by which you could
prove your devotion to her: thou wilt hear what she says to this,
and thou wilt report it to me, and I will direct thy future conduct."
Bacciuolo immediately went out and found a pedler perfectly well
acquainted with her trade, and addressed her thus:--"I wish you to do me
a great kindness, and I will reward you handsomely." The woman answered,
"I will obey your orders, for I have nothing to look to but to get
money." Bacciuolo gave her a crown-piece, and said, "I wish you to
go today to a house in a street called the Maccarella; there lives a
damsel, called the Lady Giovanna, whom I love more than any other living
creature; and I wish you to get me into her good graces, and tell her I
would gladly do any thing that might give her pleasure; and say all the
pretty coaxing things, which I am sure you can say on such occasions;
therefore I entreat you to exert your skill." The little old woman
answered, "rest assured, kind Signor, I will do my best, and find a
favourable opportunity for the purpose."

"Go, my good woman," said Bacciuolo, "and I will wait for you here." She
immediately set forth with her little basket of trinkets, and went up
to the lady, whom she found sitting at her door to breathe the cool air.
Courtesying to her, she said, "Lady, are there any of these trinkets
that you would like to have? Take whatever you please, lady," said
she, and seated herself by the lady, shewing her some purses,
looking-glasses, laces, and other little things; after looking at all
the wares, she noticed a purse, and said, "if I had money about me,
I should willingly purchase that purse." The little woman cried, "La!
Ma'am, don't think about that, take it if it pleases you, for every
thing in this basket is paid for." The lady was surprized to hear this,
and said, "Good woman, what do you mean, what are you saying?" The
little old woman, with tears in her eyes, said, "Why, Madam, I will tell
you. The truth is, a young gentleman, whose name is Bacciuolo, and who
is desperately in love with you, has sent me. He says, you are the only
creature on earth he loves, and that he would willingly do any thing to
merit your regard, and that to obey any commands of yours will be the
greatest happiness to him. Indeed, I fear he cannot live unless you
allow him to speak to you. As for my part, I never saw so genteel a
youth in my life." The lady on hearing these things blushed, and turning
to the woman, said, "were it not for my honour's sake, old woman, I
would expose you to the world, and that would make you repent. Art thou
not ashamed, thou good-for-nothing old hag, to come on such an errand
to a modest woman, a plague upon thee!"--and so saying, the lady seized
hold of a stick which lay behind the door to give her a beating, adding,
"if ever thou comest here again, I will beat thee black and blue." Upon
which the old woman quickly packed up her wares, and made off as fast
as she could waddle, in a great fright, nor did she stop on the way till
she got to Signor Bacciuolo.

[Illustration: 026]

When Bacciuolo saw her, he eagerly asked how matters had gone with
her--"Bad enough," said she, "I never was in such a fright. However, the
case is, she will neither see nor hear you; and had I not been pretty
quick in making off, I should have had a sound beating. For my part, I
will not go near her again, and I advise you to have nothing more to do
with her."

Bacciuolo was quite broken-hearted at this intelligence, and went to
report it to the professor, and related the whole transaction. "Be not
alarmed, Bacciuolo, because the oak does not fall at the first stroke
of the axe. There--go past the house this evening, and observe with what
sort of an eye she views thee; find out, by the kind of glance she casts
upon thee, whether she be angry or no; then come and tell me." Bacciuolo
went forth towards the lady's house. When she saw him, she instantly
called her maid, and said to her, "Go after that young man, and tell him
to come to speak to me this evening, and not to fail." So the maid went
to him, and told him that the Lady Giovanna desired he would come
that evening to her, as she wished to speak to him. Bacciuolo was in a
strange surprize, but answered that he would most willingly do so; and
then immediately returned to the professor, and informed him of what had
happened. The professor was a little staggered, for somehow or other a
suspicion struck him that it might be his own wife, and he thought to
himself, if it should!--> And so it was in fact. "Well," said he, "wilt
thou go?"--"Certainly," said Bacciuolo. "Well," said the professor,
"when you do go, go straight from here."

"Very well, so I will," said Bacciuolo.

This lady was the wife of the professor, but Bacciuolo did not know
that. The professor, however, began to feel uneasy; for, in the winter,
he used to sleep at the college to lecture the students late in an
evening, and his wife lived alone with her maid. "I would not," said
the professor, "that this fellow should learn to make love at my
expense--but I will know further."

Evening coming on, Bacciuolo came to him, saying, "Good Sir, I am
going."--"Well," said the professor, "speed be with you, but be wise."
Bacciuolo said, "leave me alone for that, you have not taught me for
nothing," and went away. He had put on a good cuirass, and provided
himself with a stout rapier, and a stiletto in his girdle. When
Bacciuolo was gone, the professor followed close at his heels, Bacciuolo
little thinking whom he had got behind him. When arrived at the door,
he tapped gently, and the lady herself instantly let him in, and the
professor saw, to his astonishment, that it really was his wife. "Oh!
oh! I see," said he, "the fellow has made his progress at my cost and
he began to think of killing him." He went back to the college, bought a
sword and a stiletto, returned furiously to the house, fully determined
to make Signor Bacciuolo pay for his instructions, and reaching the
door, he began to knock loudly. The lady was seated by the fire with
Bacciuolo, and hearing the knocking, she immediately apprehended it
might be her husband, and therefore concealed her lover under a heap
of damp unironed linen which had been bundled up in a comer near the
window. She then ran to the door, and demanded who was there. "Open the
door, thou wicked woman," cried the professor from without, "and thou
wilt soon know it." The lady opened the door, and, seeing him with a
sword in his hand, exclaimed, "good heavens! what means this, my dear
Sir?"--"Thou well knowest whom thou hast in the house," he said. "Good
heavens," cried the lady, "what is it you mean, are you mad? Look over
the house," she said, "and if you find any one, I give you leave to
execute your threats. How should I think of conducting myself otherwise
than I always have done; beware, Sir, lest the evil spirit take
possession of you, and lead you to destruction."

The husband, having got a candle, went looking about all over the house;
in the cellar, behind and under all the casks, butts, and indeed in
every corner: then ran up stairs like a madman; searched every part 'of
the room, but the right one; under the bed; thrust his sword into every
square inch of the bedding, yet could he not find any thing. The lady,
who stuck close to him with a light in her hand, often repeated to him,
"good master! cross yourself, for assuredly the evil spirit is in you,
and has tempted you to seek after what does not exist, for if I had the
most distant thought of such wickedness, I would be the death of myself.
Therefore, I do entreat you not to suffer yourself to be seduced by such
wicked thoughts." Upon which the professor, unable to find the object
of his search, and hearing what the lady had said, began to think he was
mistaken in his suspicions, and so put out the light, and returned to
the college.

The lady immediately brought out Bacciuolo from under the clothes, and
lighted a large fire; put on it a famous fine capon to boil, and they
pledged each other merrily, the lady often saying, "You see, my good
little man has not found us out;" and so they cheerfully spent some
hours together. In the morning Bacciuolo went to the professor, and
said, "Oh, my good sir! I will make you laugh."

"How is that?" said the professor. "Last night, after I had been a short
time at the lady's house, in came the husband, and though he hunted
every where in search of me, he could not find me, for she had hidden
me under a heap of damp linen, that were going to be dried; and the lady
talked the poor fellow over so, that he soon went away; when we had a
large capon for supper, drank some excellent wine, and had the best fun
you can imagine, and I have promised to return again to night."

"Be sure," said the professor, "when you go this evening, to let me
know." Bacciuolo answered he would, and left the professor.

The professor meanwhile was in the utmost rage, and actually beside
himself--so much so that he was not able to attend at the classes, he
was so broken hearted. However, he consoled himself with the idea that
he should catch him at night. So he purchased a breast plate, a light
armour, and with his cuirass, rapier, and stiletto, cut quite a martial
figure. When the time came, Bacciuolo innocently went to the professor,
and said, "I am going."

"Well," said the professor, "go, and return to-morrow, and relate to me
what may have happened."

"I will," said Bacciuolo, and marched off to the lady's house. The
professor put on his armour, and followed Bacciuolo close at his heels,
and thought of overtaking him at the door. The lady, who was upon the
watch, opened the door quickly, let in her lover, and shut it again like
lightning. When the professor reached the house he began to knock with
all his might, making a tremendous noise. The lady in an instant put
out the light, and made Bacciuolo slide behind her, opened the door, and
clasping her arms on the neck of her husband, whirled him round and
gave Bacciuolo an opportunity of slipping out; at the same time crying,
"help! help! the man is mad, the man is mad;" still holding the poor
gentleman tight round the waist.

[Illustration: 034]

The neighbours, upon hearing this noise, ran out, and seeing the
professor thus armed at all points, with his huge breast-plate, cuirass,
helmet, long rapier, and stiletto, and the lady crying out, "Hold him,
hold him, he is mad; he has cracked his brain with study;" thought it
was really true, and that he had lost his wits. They began to say to
him, "what means all this, good Signor? go to bed and rest--do not
torment yourself in this way."

"How can I rest," he shouted, "when this wicked woman is harbouring a
man in the house? I saw him go in with my own eyes."

"Oh wretched woman that I am," cried the lady, "ask these neighbours,
all, whether they have ever witnessed improper conduct in me." They all
with one voice answered, both men and women--"Do not think, Signor, so
base a thing, for never was a better woman born than this lady--more
virtuous or more decorous."

"How!" said the professor, "why I saw the man enter the house, and I
am sure he is in it now." In the mean time two of the lady's brothers
arrived, and when she saw them, she burst into tears, and said, "my dear
brothers! this husband of mine is raving mad, and will have it that I
have a man in the house, and wants to be the death of me, and you well
know whether I am a woman likely to fall into such abominations." The
brothers said to the armed philosopher, who foamed at the mouth with
rage, "we marvel much, Sir, that you should dare suspect a sister of
ours of such an act, and wonder what can make you dream of such a thing,
having lived with her so long."

"I tell you," said the professor, "that there _is_ a man in the house,
and I have seen him."

"Well!" said the brothers, "let us hunt him out, and if he is found
here, we will give her such a lesson as shall make you full amends."
One of the brothers drew the lady aside, and said, "Hast thou in truth
really got any one in the house?"

"Alas!" said the lady, "heaven forbid! may I die before I harbour such
a thought as no woman of our family was ever guilty of. Art thou not
ashamed to put such a question?" Upon which the brother felt quite
happy, and the three went up to search. The professor directly made for
the damp linen, pulled them about, and stabbed them through and through
in every direction, hardly leaving an inch through which he did not
stick his sword, and the while taunting and insulting Bacciuolo as if he
had actually been under them.

[Illustration: 039]

"Well," said the lady, "did I not tell you he was mad? see how he spoils
the linen: thou hast not been at the trouble of getting them up--that
is very clear." The brothers then began to think he was truly mad, and
after seeking every where, and not finding any one, one brother said,
"This fellow is certainly mad." The other then said, "Signor, in truth
you do an infamous injustice to this sister of ours, in giving her so
vile a character." But the professor, who well knew how matters stood,
being in a rage, began to quarrel violently with them, and kept his
naked sword in his hand. So each of them took a good stick, and being
determined to administer a little wholesome correction, they laid them
about the poor professor most unmercifully, and when they had nearly
broken the sticks on his back, they bound him for a madman, telling
every body that he had cracked his brain by intense study, and so they
tied him up all night. In the morning they sent for the doctor, who
ordered him to be put to bed by a fire, and desired that he should
not speak to any one, or any one to him, and that particular attention
should be paid to his diet, till he recovered his senses.

The news that the Signor had gone mad soon spread all over Bologna;
every body was much concerned. Some said, "I suspected it would be so,
for he could not attend the lectures the other day." Others said, "I
thought it would be so, I observed him so materially altered of late."
The report was universally credited, and many went to see him. Bacciuolo
unacquainted with what had taken place, went in the morning to the
college, with the intention of telling the professor of his adventure;
but on reaching the place, he was told how the Signor had become mad.
Bacciuolo wondered at this, and was very sorry for it, and went to see
him with the rest, and being arrived at the house, Bacciuolo began to be
staggered, and almost fainted, seeing how things stood; but in order to
prevent any one noticing how affected he was, he went in with them,
and on reaching the apartment, he saw the Signor all over bruises, and
chained to the bed. All the students began to condole with him, and
express their sorrow at seeing him in such a state. Bacciuolo's turn
coming, he said, "good Signor, I am as much grieved at your situation,
as though you were my father; and if I can do any thing to relieve you,
I pray you deal with me as if I were your son." Upon which the professor
answered, "Bacciuolo, Bacciuolo, I pray thee go in peace, for thou
hast learned much at my cost." The lady prevented farther discourse, by
saying, "do not mind him, for he has lost his wits, and does not know
what he says." Bacciuolo then departed, and came to Paolo, and said,
"Brother, Heaven guard thee, for I have learned so much, that nothing
remains for me to learn; therefore will I return back to my home as fast
as my legs can carry me."



THE UNEXPECTED REPLY.

'Tis now a few years since there were two eminent and worthy lawyers,
the one was named Alano, and the other Piero; in fact, there were not
in Christendom two greater men than these two, who were invariably in
opposition to one another. Alano, however, always came off conqueror,
being by much the greatest rhetorician then known, and one whose
principles were of a sounder kind than those of Piero, who was something
of a heretic, and would often have inflicted a severe blow on religion,
had it not ever been defended by Alano, who knocked down all his
arguments. Alano determined to go to Rome to visit the holy relics, the
pope, and his court: in consequence, taking several servants with him,
clothes, and other baggage, he departed for Rome and visited the pope
and his court; observed its elegance and grandeur, and wondered much,
considering that it ought to be the foundation of Christianity and holy
faith, at seeing it so corrupted and full of simony. He was so ashamed
of this, he determined to forsake the world and give himself up entirely
to the service of his Maker. He therefore departed from Rome with all
his servants, and when he came near Saint Chirico of Rosana, he told
them to go forward towards the inn, and leave him to himself. When Alano
saw them gone forward, he turned towards the mountain and galloped off,
and arrived in the evening at a shepherd's cottage. Alano dismounted,
and stopped that night with him; the next morning he said to the
shepherd, "I will leave thee my clothes and my horse, and do thou give
me thine." The shepherd thought he was in jest, and said, "Sir, I have
entertained you in the best manner I am able; I pray you do not mock
me." Messer Alano stripped off his clothes, and made the shepherd do the
same, which he put on; left him his horse and his clothes; put on the
shepherd's shoes; took his cash and stick, and set forward at a venture.
His servants perceiving he did not come, after looking out for him,
began to think that as it was rather an unsafe road, that he might have
been, robbed and murdered; and, after remaining a day or two, returned
to Paris.

Alano, when he had left the shepherd, travelling on, arrived at an abbey
at Maremma, and, begging some bread, the abbot asked him if he would
stay and live with them. Alano answered, that he would willingly do so.
"What can you do?" said the abbot. "Sir," replied Alano, "I shall do
whatever you bid me." The abbot thought that he seemed a good fellow,
and took him into the house, and began by sending him to fetch wood. He
behaved so well, that all who were in the abbey were delighted with him,
for he would willingly do any thing they asked him; neither did he seem
ashamed nor reluctant. In consequence of this good behaviour, the abbot
gave him a place in the monastery, and called him Don Beneditto; the
life he used to lead was to fast four days in the week; never undress,
and spend great part of the night in prayer; and whatever might be said
or done to him, he never complained, but praised the Lord. Thus had
he determined to live and serve his Maker, so that the abbot loved him
extremely.

His servants, on their return to Paris, having given it out that he was
dead, every body lamented the loss of so great a man, and so able a
lawyer. Now, Messer Giulio Piero hearing that Messer Alano was dead,
rejoiced much at it. "Now," said he, "I shall be able to compass that
which I have long meditated." So he prepared himself and went to Rome,
and there proposed, in open consistory, a question which was greatly
injurious to our faith, and, by his craft, endeavoured to introduce
heresy in our church. Upon which the pope called the college of
cardinals together, where it was determined to send for all the greatest
men in Italy to attend a consistory, for the purpose of answering the
questions which Messer Giulio Piero had proposed against our faith. Of
course, all the bishops, abbots, and other great prelates who were
canonists, were summoned to the court. Among others, this very abbot
with whom Alano was living was called upon, and he prepared himself for
his departure. Alano, being informed of the business he was going upon,
entreated the abbot to let him go with him. "What would you do there?"
said the abbot; "you, who do not even know how to read, what would you
do there among all the greatest men of the church? They will speak
nothing but Latin, so that thou wilt not understand one word."

"I shall at least see the pope," answered Alano, "whom I never yet
beheld, nor do I know what sort of a thing he be." The abbot, perceiving
how earnestly he wished it, said, "Well, I will allow thee to come with
me, but wilt thou know how to ride?"

"Yes, sir," replied Alano. At the proper time the abbot departed, and
Alano with him. Being arrived at Rome, and the day being fixed when the
consistory was to meet, upon hearing that any one might go and hear what
was discussed, Messer Alano begged the abbot most earnestly to allow him
to go to the said consistory. "Art thou beside thyself?" said the abbot;
"how dost thou think I could take thee there, where the pope, cardinals,
and all the greatest lords are?"

"I will get under your cloak," said Alano; "then I shall not be seen,
for I am very short, as well as very thin."

"Take care," said the abbot, "the porter and servants do not give thee a
good beating."

"Let me alone for that," said Alano; "I warrant I'll take care of
myself." When the abbot went in, there being a great crowd, Alano popped
under the abbot's cloak, and went in with the rest. The abbot took his
proper seat with the other abbots. Alano stood between his legs
under the abbot's cloak, and peeped through the arm-hole of his robe,
attentively listening to hear the question proposed. A short time after,
Piero entered, mounted the tribune in presence of the pope, cardinals,
and all the others, and proposed his question, which he argued with his
usual artfulness. Alano immediately recognised him, and seeing that no
one answered him, or argued with him, he popped his head through the
arm-hole of the abbot's cloak, and cried out "_Giube_." The abbot raised
his hand, and gave him a good box on the ear, saying, "hold your tongue,
and the devil take you! wilt thou shame me?" Of course, all those near
looked at one another with wonder, saying, "Whence came that voice?" A
few minutes afterwards, Alano put out his head again, and said, "_hear
me, holy father!_" which made the abbot much ashamed and confused; for
every one stared at him, and cried out, "Who is that you have got under
your cloak?" The abbot said it was one of his lay brothers, who was
insane. Upon which they abused him, and said, "What! do you bring a
madman into the consistory?" and the guards came forth to beat and drive
him away. Alano, fearing he should get some hard blows, made off from
under the abbot's cloak; and rushing in among the bishops and cardinals,
made his way till he got at the feet of the pope, which caused a burst
of laughter among them all, throughout the consistory. The abbot was on
the point of being turned out, for having brought the fellow there, but
Alano being at the pope's feet, he entreated he might be allowed to give
his opinion on the case, and the pope granted his petition. Alano then
mounted the tribune with alacrity, and all were gaping to hear what the
madman would say. Alano opened his mouth, and began by recapitulating
all his opponent had advanced, and separately answered the different
parts of the question with a mild and natural, but vigorous eloquence.
The whole college were in the utmost astonishment at hearing the elegant
Latin he spoke, and the fine arguments which he produced against his
adversary. Every one cried out, "why truly, this is the Lamb of God that
appears to us." The pope hearing his eloquence, thanked heaven at every
instant. Alano having thus confuted Piero in every argument, the latter
was sorely vexed and humbled, and said, "truly thou art the spirit of
Messer Alano, or that of the devil himself." Alano answered, "I am the
very Alano who many times have put to flight your conceit; but thou!
thou art the true malignant spirit who wishest to fill our church with
heresy." Piero replied, "indeed, if I had known thou hadst been alive,
I should never have ventured here." The pope became anxious to know who
this Alano was, and called the abbot to know how he came by this man.
"Most holy father!" said the abbot, "I have had him with me a long time,
and I really thought he could not even read, nor have I ever found any
man possessed of so much humility as he is. He is always employed in
cutting and bringing home fire-wood; sweeping the rooms; making beds;
attending the sick, and taking care of the horses. He always appeared to
me a very simple fellow."

The pope hearing what a holy and virtuous life he led, and what he had
formerly been, wished to create him cardinal, and paid him every mark of
honour, saying to him, "Had it not been for thee, our church must have
suffered serious injury, therefore I wish thee to remain at our court."
Alano replied, "Most holy father, I wish to live and die in this
solitary life, and never more go back to the world. Nay, I mean to
return with my good abbot to his abbey, and follow up the life I have
entered upon, and thus serve God." The abbot fell on his knees, praying
him to pardon him, for he had not known him, and particularly for the
box on the ear which he had given him. Messer Alano said, "there is no
occasion for such a thing; the father has an undoubted right to
chastise his child." They afterwards took leave of his holiness and the
cardinals, and returned to the abbey. The abbot ever after paid him the
greatest respect, and he lived with him a holy life. He compiled and
wrote several works on religion, and whilst he lived here, conducted
himself in so virtuous a manner as to ensure to himself an eternal life
hereafter.



WHO AM I?

A party of young men were at supper, one Sunday, in the city of
Florence, at a gentleman's house whose name was Tommaso de Pecori,
a respectable, honourable, and good-humoured man, who delighted in
pleasant society. This party being retired after supper by a cheerful
fire, were talking merrily together, as people who meet on such
occasions are apt to do:--"How happens it," said one of them, "that
Manetto Ammannotini would not join us to night; yet we all asked him,
and still he obstinately refused to come?" This Manetto was by trade a
carver in ebony, and kept a shop in St. John's Place--a clever fellow in
his trade; he had an agreeable person, was of a merry turn of mind, and
about thirty-five years of age. Being tall and rather corpulent, he was
called Grasso, and was always accustomed to be of the party of jovial
good fellows above-mentioned, who made themselves merry and comfortable;
but in the present instance, whether from whim or caprice, the said
Manetto would not meet them. The party, however, talking the matter
over, could not guess at the reason, and concluding it to be a whim,
were a little piqued at it. He who had spoken first, said, "why should
we not play him a trick, to cure him of these fancies for the future?"
Another said, "but what trick could we put upon him, except make him
stand a treat, or some such thing?"

In the party was one whose name was Philip of Brunelesco; this person,
who was well acquainted with Grasso, and knew his situation, began to
think with himself how they could play him a trick, and ruminating for
some time, he at last said, for he was a clever fellow, "Gentlemen, if
you like, and I can find in my heart to do it, we will play off a hoax
on this Grasso, which will greatly divert us: what I think we must do,
is to persuade him that he is transformed, and not the same Grasso,
but some other person." The others answered, "but that is certainly not
possible." Upon which, Philip explained the plan he meant to pursue; as
he was a shrewd fellow, he persuaded them it was very possible; so they
all agreed on the means and plan to be pursued by each of them, in order
to prove to Grasso that he was no other than one Matteo, one of the
party. They proceeded, next night, in the following manner: it was
agreed that Philip, who was more intimate with Grasso than either of the
others, should go, about the time that shopkeepers generally shut up, to
Grasso's shop. When he had been talking to Grasso some time, there came
in, as it had been previously settled, a boy in great haste, who asked
if Mr. Philip of Brunelesco was there. Philip coming forward, said he
was, and that he himself was the man, and asked him what he wanted. To
which the boy answered, "you must come home immediately, Sir, for, about
two hours ago, your mother met with an accident, and is almost dead;
therefore, hasten away with me." Philip, pretending to be very much
alarmed and grieved, cried out, "good heaven defend me!" and took leave
of Grasso. Grasso, being his friend, said, "I will go with you, if I can
be of any service to you; these are cases in which friends should not
hold back." Philip thanked him, and said, "I do not wish that you should
come now, but should any thing be wanting I will send you word to come."
Philip set off as if going homewards, but, turning round a corner of the
street, he went into Grasso's house facing the church of Santa Reparata,
and opening the door with a picklock, went in and fastened the door, so
that no one might enter. Grasso's mother had gone, a few days before, to
a little cottage she possessed at Polirrosa, in order to wash the linen,
and was expected home hourly. Grasso, after having shut up the shop,
went walking up and down the Piazza of San Giovanni as he was accustomed
to do, still thinking of his friend's misfortune. It being then night,
he thought to himself that Philip would not be in need of any assistance
as he had not sent for him, so he determined to go home, and, arriving
at the door, he ascended the two steps before it, tried to open the door
as usual, and being unable to do so, he perceived it was locked in
the inside; therefore, knocking, he cried out aloud, "open the door!"
thinking his mother had returned home, and had fastened the door for
some reason or other, or had done it inadvertently. Philip, who was
within, imitating Grasso's voice, said, "_who is there?_" Grasso said,
"open the door!" Philip pretended as if he thought he who knocked was
the identical Matteo, whom they wanted Grasso to believe himself to be;
and still assuming the character of Grasso, said, "pry'thee, Matteo, go
thy ways, for I am in much anxiety, for as I was in the shop talking to
Philip, a boy came running to him, and told him his mother was nearly
dead, therefore you see I am sadly distressed then;" turning round he
said, "good mother Giovanni, (for thus Grasso's mother was called) do
let me have some supper, for it is a shame; you were to have been home
two days ago, instead of which you arrive just at this time of the night
thus he went on chiding, and imitating Grasso's voice." Grasso hearing
this scolding, and it seeming to him to be his own voice, said to
himself, "what the devil is all this, and who is he that is up there, is
it I?--He says Philip was at his shop when he was told that his mother
was ill, and moreover he is scolding Mother Giovanni--certainly I have
lost my recollection"--thus saying, as he went down the steps to holla up
at the windows, there came by, as had been previously settled, one
whose name was Donatello, a stone-mason, a great friend of Grasso, who
approaching him in the dark, said "good night, Matteo, are you going to
see Grasso--he is just gone home," and so saying, he left him. Grasso,
if he was surprised at first when Donatello called him Matteo, was now
thunderstruck, and withdrew in the Piazza of San Giovanni, saying to
himself, "I will walk about here till some one shall pass, and, knowing
me, will tell me who I really am." Thus sauntering, in the greatest
agitation of mind, he was met according to agreement, by four officers
of the police, a messenger, and with them a man to whom that Matteo,
whom Grasso began to think himself, owed money. This man accosting
Grasso, turned to the officers and said, "take him, this is Matteo, this
is my debtor. You see I have followed thee up close. I have caught
thee at last." The officers then began to seize him, and lead him away.
Grasso, turning to the man who had just arrested him, said, "what have I
to do with thee? you have mistaken your man; I am not he you take me to
be; I am Grasso, the carver in ebony; I am not Matteo, nor do I know who
your Matteo is." He was on the point of following up his words, with a
few hard blows, but they seized him by the arms, and held him tight.
The creditor coming forward, and looking at him from head to foot, said,
"what! you not Matteo! do I not know Matteo? Matteo, my debtor! don't I
know who Grasso the carver is? I have thy name in my books, and have had
a writ against thee this twelvemonth; so like a rogue, thou now deniest
being Matteo, but an _alias_ will not pay me my debt; take him away,
take him away, we shall soon see if thou art Matteo." Thus abusing him,
they led him to prison, and as it was supper-time, they met no one on
their way. Being arrived, the gaol-keeper took down the captive under
the name of Matteo, and confined him among the other prisoners, who
having heard his name mentioned, though without knowing him, called out,
"good night, Matteo." Grasso, hearing himself so named by every one of
them, exclaimed, "what can this mean?" and really began to think that he
certainly must be Matteo. The prisoners said, "thou seest we are going
to supper, take a little with us, and put off care till to-morrow."
Grasso supped with them, and when supper was over, one of them gave him
part of his birth, saying, "Matteo, for this night make what shift you
can here, then, to-morrow morning, if you can pay your debt, well and
good; if not, thou must send home for a few bed-clothes." Grasso thanked
him and laid himself down to rest, and began to think what he should
do if from Grasso he were really turned to Matteo; "which," said he to
himself, "I really think must be the case, from the different proofs I
have had. If I send home to my mother, and Grasso should be in my house,
they will laugh at me, and say I am mad, and yet methinks I am really
Grasso." And thus he remained all night in suspense, not knowing whether
he was Grasso or Matteo, and scarcely could he get a wink of sleep. In
the morning he rose and placed himself at a small grated window of the
prison, in hopes that some one would pass that knew him; remaining thus,
there passed by a young man called Giovanni Francesco Rucellai, who was
one of the party at supper when the conspiracy was formed, and who was
well acquainted with Grasso: for this man Grasso was about making a
dressing-table intended for a lady, a friend of Giovanni's, who, the
very day before, had been in Grasso's shop to press him to finish the
work, which the carver had promised should be finished, at farthest, in
four days. This person having entered a shop next the prison, popped his
head out at the door that faced the grated window of the prison, which
in those times was on the ground floor, and at which window Grasso
stood, who having seen Giovanni, began to grin and nod at him. Giovanni
stared at him, as if he had never seen him before, and said, "what art
thou grinning at, friend?" It appearing to Grasso, that the man did not
know him, he said, "Oh! at nothing particular, but pray do you know one
Grasso, that lives at the Piazza san Giovanni, just behind yonder
place, who makes inlaid works?"

"Do I know him," said Giovanni, "don't I? why he is one of my best
friends, and I am just going to him about a little job he is about for
me."

"Well," said Grasso, "since you are going there about your own affair,
do me the favour to tell him, a friend of his is taken into custody,
and beg of him, as an act of friendship, to come and speak to him."
Giovanni, looking at him, and scarcely able to keep his countenance,
said, "I will do it with pleasure;" and went away about his business.
Grasso still remaining at the little window, said to himself, "now I
may be quite sure that I am no longer Grasso, but that I am changed to
Matteo; what cursed ill fate is mine! If I speak of this matter, I shall
be looked upon as a madman, and all the boys will run after me, and if
I do not clear it up, a hundred blunders, such as happened to me last
night, will occur again; so that either way I am in a terrible hobble:
but let us see whether Grasso will come, for if he comes, I shall tell
him all about it." Long did he wait in expectation; but as Grasso
never came, he withdrew from the window, to make room for one of the
prisoners; his eyes at first cast down to the ground, and then looking
up to heaven, with his hands clasped together. At that time, there was
in prison a judge, whose name, through respect, we shall not mention,
who was there for debt. This judge, although he did not know Grasso,
seeing him so very disconsolate, tried every means to comfort him, and
said, "Matteo, you are as down-hearted as if you were going to be hanged
to-morrow morning; yet according to what I hear, yours is but a small
debt; you should not give yourself up thus to grief. Why don't you send
to some friend or relation, and try to pay the money, or settle the
business, in some way or other, so that you may get out of prison, and
not vex yourself in this manner?" Grasso, finding that he so
kindly endeavoured to comfort him, determined to tell him the whole
circumstance, and having drawn him into a corner of the prison, said,
"Sir, although you may not know me, I know you well, and know that you
are a very worthy man, therefore have I made up my mind to tell you the
cause of my unhappiness, lest you should think that such a trifling debt
would make me uneasy. No! I have much greater reason for sorrow," and then
he began to tell him the whole story, from beginning to end, weeping
almost all the while, and requested two things of him, the one that he
would not mention the matter to any living soul; and next that he would
give him some advice, or point out some way to extricate him from so
perplexing a situation; adding, "I know, Sir, you have read a great
deal, and many authors who have written most extraordinary things, but
have you ever heard of such a case as this?"

The worthy man having heard him, and considering the affair, it struck
him it must be one of these two things, either that the poor fellow had
lost his senses, or that this was a hoax, as it certainly was: and
he immediately answered, he had read many similar things, and that
to become another person was no uncommon occurrence, and by no means
wonderful. "Now, then," said Grasso, "pray tell me if I am become
Matteo?"

"Of course," said the judge, "he must have become Grasso."

"Well," said Grasso, "if it be so, I should like to see him to quiet
my mind." Whilst they were thus conversing, it being nearly the hour of
vespers, two brothers of this Matteo came to the prison and asked for
the turnkey, and inquired whether a brother of theirs, by name Matteo,
was in the prison, and for what sum he had been arrested, because, being
his brothers, they had come to pay the debt for him, and to take him
away. The turnkey, who was well acquainted with the plot, being a friend
of Tommaso Pecori, answered, "There was such a person," and, pretending to
turn over the leaves of the book, said, "the debt is so much, due to so
and so."

"Well," said they, "we wish to speak to him, then we will settle
every thing for him," and going to the prison, they desired one of the
prisoners, who stood at the grating, to tell Matteo that two of his
brothers were here, who were come to take him out of prison. The fellow
having delivered his message, Grasso came to the little window, and
bowed to them. The eldest of the brothers thus addressed him, "thou
knowest, Matteo, how often we have admonished thee in respect to thy bad
goings on: thou art every day getting in debt with some person or other,
and never do you pay any one, because of the money you are spending in
gambling, and what not, by which means thou art always left without a
penny; and now that thou art in gaol, thou thinkest we have means to pay
for thee, who hast consumed, within a short space, a treasure of money
in all kinds of follies. Therefore, now we do say, that were it not for
our honour's sake, and on account of thy mother, we would leave thee
here long enough, that thou mightest learn better ways; but, for this
once, we have determined to pay thy debt and get thee out of this
dungeon, but if ever you get into such a scrape again you shall get out
of it as you may. In order that we may not be seen coming from hence in
the day-time, we will call this evening for thee, when there are fewer
people about, in order to prevent folks from knowing our affairs, and
being made to blush at this misconduct." Grasso turned to him that
spoke, and with great humility and apparent contrition assured him,
that, for the future, he should conduct himself more prudently, and
would avoid the follies he had hitherto been guilty of, and never more
disgrace them; and prayed them, for heaven's sake, when the hour should
come, that they would call and fetch him away. They promised to do so,
and left him. He retired from the window, and said to the judge, "this
is droll enough; here have been two brothers of Matteo, of that Matteo
which I am changed to, and they have spoken to me as if to Matteo; they
have chid me much, and say they will come for me in the evening, and
take me from hence; now, if they take me from this place, where in the
world shall I go? Home I must not go, for if Grasso should be there,
what shall I say? I shall be taken for a maniac; and methinks he must be
there, otherwise my mother would have inquired after me; whereas having
him with her she does not perceive the mistake." The judge had much ado
to refrain from laughter, and enjoyed the joke; and said to him, "don't
go home, but go with those who call themselves your brothers; see where
they take you, and what they do with you." While they were thus talking,
evening drew on, and the brothers came, pretending as if they had
settled the debt and costs. The gaol-keeper arose with the keys of the
prison in his hand, and said, "which of you is Matteo?" Grasso, stepping
forward, said, "'tis I." The keeper looked at him, and said, "these, thy
brothers, have paid your debt for you; therefore, you are now free;"
and having opened the prison door, said, "go thy ways." Grasso came out,
and it being nearly dark, went with the two brothers, who lived at Santa
Félicita, at the rising of the hill San Giorgio.

Being arrived at home they went with him into a room on the ground
floor. "Remain here," said they, "till supper time, as we would not let
your mother see you, to distress her." One of them remained with him,
and they sat down by the fire before the table already prepared. The
other went to the curate of St. Felicita, a good worthy man, and said to
him, "I come to you, reverend Sir, with that confidence due to you. It
is true we are three brothers, among which is one whose name is Matteo,
who, yesterday, on account of some debt, was put into prison, and has
taken it so much to heart that we really think he is losing his senses,
and going mad. In every thing he appears Matteo as heretofore, except
in one thing, that is, he has taken it into his head that he is become
another man than Matteo. Did you ever hear of such a thing? he pretends
that he is a certain Grasso, a carver, well known to him, who has a shop
behind San Giovanni, and his own home is St. Mario del Fiore, and no one
can get this out of his noddle; so that we have got him out of prison,
brought him here, and put him into a room to conceal him, lest these
absurd notions should be made public: therefore, to conclude, we beg of
you, for charity sake, that you would kindly come to our house and speak
to him, and endeavour to cure him of this extraordinary hallucination:
and, indeed, we shall feel under the greatest obligation to you for it."
The priest was a good-natured soul, and answered, that he most willingly
would do it, and in speaking with him he said he should soon discover
the state of the case, and by talking seriously to him, would get this
maggot out of his head. He went home with them, and when arrived where
Grasso was, he entered the room when he was busy with his own thoughts.
Grasso no sooner saw him, than he rose; the Priest said, "Good night,
Matteo."

"Good night to you," said Grasso, "what brings you this way?"

"I am come to spend a little time with thee," said the Priest, and
having taken a seat, "sit by me," said he, "and I will tell thee my
mind." Grasso obeyed him, and sat down. "Now," said the Priest, "I'll
tell you the reason, Matteo, why I came; it is first, because I have
heard, and much it grieves me, that yesterday thou wert taken to prison
on account of some debt: and, in the second place, that thou hast felt,
and still feelest the greatest distress, which has almost driven thee
mad; and among other nonsense of that kind, that thou wilt not believe
but that thou art no longer Matteo, and insistest that thou art another
person, called Grasso, the carver. Thou art much to blame to let such
a trifling thing so distress you as almost to make you mad, and suffer
yourself to be laughed at to your great discredit. In truth, Matteo, I
will not have you do so, and I do desire that, for the love of me, thou
wouldst promise me to give up this folly, and attend to thy business as
an honourable man, like other people, by which means thou wilt delight
thy brothers; for, if this circumstance were to be known, it would be
said thou hadst lost thy intellect, and although thou mightest perfectly
recover, yet it would ever be thought that thou wert still subject to
fits of insanity, and thou wouldst be a lost man; therefore, to end the
matter, determine now to be a man, not a simpleton, and give over all
this nonsense; whether thou be Grasso or not Grasso, do as I advise you,
for I counsel thee for thy good." Thus saying, he smiled kindly at him.
Grasso having heard how benevolently he admonished him, not doubting
but he must be Matteo, answered him directly, "that he certainly was
disposed to do whatever he could to obey him," and he promised that,
hereafter, he would exert himself, and endeavour not to think of his
being any thing but Matteo, as he was; but that he wanted him to do him
a very great favour, if it was possible, and this was, that he wished
very much indeed to speak to that said Grasso, so as to convince himself
of his own identity: to which the Priest answered, "this is all nonsense
and much against your interest; I see thou hast still this whimsy in thy
head."

"What the devil have you to do with the fellow? what do you want with
that Grasso, that you should eternally be talking of him? the more you
make this thing public the worse it will be for you," and so much did he
talk to him, that he at last prevailed on him to give up the idea of
seeing him, and having left him, he told the brothers what he had said
and done, and what Matteo had promised: thus taking leave of them, he
made the best of his way to the church.

While the Priest had remained with Matteo, Philip of Brunelesco had come
secretly into another room. Much to his amusement, he heard the whole
account from one of the brothers, of his going out of the prison--their
conversation in their way home, and the rest: after which, putting a
small powder in a cup, he said to one of the brothers, "contrive, while
you are at supper, to give him this in a glass of wine, or any thing
else you can, so that he may not notice it. This is an opiate, which
will set him so fast asleep, that though you mumbled and tumbled him
ever-so-much, he would not wake for several hours; and I will be with
you by five o'clock, and we will settle the rest of the business." The
brothers having returned to the room, they sat down with him to supper,
and it was already three o'clock. Thus as they supped, they gave him the
potion unnoticed by him; the which so perfectly stupified him, that
he was unable to keep his eyes open. The brothers then said to him,
"Matteo, thou seemest to be dead asleep, thou must have had little sleep
last night," to which Grasso replied, "I protest, in the whole course
of my life, I never felt so sleepy; I feel as if I had not slept for a
whole month, therefore I think I had better go to bed," and he began to
undress, but scarcely was he able to pull off his shoes and stockings,
and get into bed. No sooner did he get into bed but he fell fast asleep,
and snored like a pig.

At the hour previously fixed upon, Philipo di Brunelesco entered the
room where he was, with six of his companions, and seeing him fast
asleep, they took him and placed him on a sort of litter, with all his
clothes, and carried him home. No one being at home, as it happened that
his mother had not returned, they took him to his bed and placed him in
it; they put his clothes where he was in the habit of depositing them,
but instead of laying him at the head of the bed, they placed his head
at the foot. This being done, they took the key of the shop that was
hanging on a nail in the room, and they marched into the shop, where
they took the tools he used to work with, and displaced them all from
their usual places; turned the sharp edges of the planes topsy-turvy;
the hammers on their wrong side; the saws, and, in short, every corner
of his shop was ransacked and all things turned upside-down. The shop
looked as if the devil and all his imps had been at work. Having locked
the shop door, they carried the key to Grasso's room, and shutting the
door after them, each of them went home to bed. Grasso, in a deep sleep
from the effect of the opium, slept on the whole night without ever
waking. In the morning, at the ringing of Santa Maria del Fiore, the
beverage having taken its due effect, Grasso awoke; it being day-light,
and recollecting the sound of the bell, he opened his eyes, and seeing
the light in the room, and looking about him, he became persuaded he was
in his own house, and recollecting all that had happened to him, he was
full of astonishment. Remembering where he had gone to bed the night
before, and where he then was, he began to think he had been dreaming,
or was at that instant in a dream: the one seemed to be the fact at one
time, and the next at another.

[Illustration: 072]

After a deep sigh from his heart, "Heaven help me," said he. Getting out
of bed, and dressing himself, he took the key of the shop and went to
it, and on opening it he saw all the shop in the greatest disorder, at
which he stared with wonder. While he was setting them all to rights,
and in their proper places, the two brothers of Matteo came in, and
finding him so busy, seeming not to know him, one of them said, "Good
morning, friend." Grasso turning round, looked at them, and recognizing
them, said, "Good morning, good morning, what are you come for?"

"I will tell you," said one of them. "You know we have a brother called
Matteo, who within a few days, owing to his being imprisoned for debt,
has fallen into such a melancholy fit, that it has almost made him mad;
and among other foolish things, he has got it into his head that he is
not Matteo, but the master of this shop, who it seems is called Grasso.
Upon which, having talked to him on the subject, and likewise the priest
of the parish, who is a very good sort of man, he had promised the
latter he would give up this foolish whim. He went to bed last night
very cheerful while we were at supper, but, this morning, without our
hearing him, he went out, nor do we know where he is gone; for this
reason we came to see if perchance he had come here, or you could tell
us if you know any thing of him." Grasso, while the man was speaking,
was bewildered; at last, turning towards them, he said, "I know not what
the devil you are talking about, or what all this nonsense means. Matteo
has not been here, and if he said he was I, he is a great rascal, and,
by my soul, if I meet with him I'll have a brush at him: I'll know
whether he be I, or I am he. What the deuce has happened within these
few days?" and, in a great rage, he took up his mantle, and pulling the
shop-door after him, he left them and went towards St. Maria del Fiore,
swearing all the way.

[Illustration: 077]

The brothers went about their business, and Grasso having entered
into the church, walked up and down raging and fuming like a lion, so
provoked and perplexed was he at all that had occurred. While he was in
this state of confusion, there arrived at Florence one who had been his
comrade, and who had been in Hungary, and had there made money by means
of the protection of Signor Filippo Scolari, formerly called Spano, one
of the citizens of Florence, who was then captain-general in the army
of Gismondo, son of Charles, King of Bohemia. This Spano received
and protected all those Florentines who had any particular talent,
mechanical or intellectual, being a very worthy man who loved his nation
very much, and did a great deal of good to his countrymen. This person
had as it happened, come to Florence for the purpose of engaging some
able and clever mechanics to complete some work he had taken in hand.
He had often talked to Grasso on this subject, begging of him to go with
him, and telling him that in a very few years he would become rich.. As
soon as Grasso saw him coming, he thought of going with him; therefore,
walking up to him, he said, "you have often advised me to go to Hungary
with you, and I always refused; now, in consequence of a certain event
that has befallen me, and on account of some little difference between
my mother and me, I am willing to go with you, if you are willing
I should, and I must be gone to-morrow morning, for if I delay my
departure will be prevented." The young man said, that he was very glad
of this, but that he himself could not set off tomorrow on account of
some business, but that he might go forward and wait for him at Bologna,
and he would be there in a few days. Grasso was delighted, and having
settled matters, he returned to the shop, packed up some of his best
tools, his clothes, and a little money he had; this being done he
marched off to Borgo St. Lorenzo, and hired a pony as far as Bologna,
and the next morning, mounting his palfrey, rode towards that city, and
left a letter directed to his mother, in which he desired her to dispose
of the shop to her advantage, and said that he was going to Hungary.
Thus did Grasso depart from Florence, and, after waiting for his
companion at Bologna, they departed for Hungary. There they did so
well, that in a very few years they became quite rich considering their
station, through the protection of the above-mentioned Spano, who
made Grasso an engineer under the name of Manetto of Florence. Grasso
returned several times to Florence, and being asked by Philip of
Brunelesco to tell his story, he related this tale.



THE DEAD RIDER.

At the time when the king, Don Fernando, peaceably ruled the kingdom
of Castile, there was at Salamanca, a noble and ancient city of that
kingdom, a grey friar, called Maestro Diego of Revolo, who, being
no less famous in the _Thomist_ than the _Scotist_ doctrines, was
deservedly chosen, with no mean salary, to be a lecturer at the schools
of the famous university of the above-mentioned city. This man obtained
the greatest fame throughout the whole kingdom, and sometimes gave the
most pious and useful sermons. Being young, handsome, and rather of a
warm and inflammable constitution, it happened one day, that whilst
he was in the pulpit he cast his eyes on a beautiful young lady, named
Catherine, the wife of one of the principal cavaliers in the town, whose
name was Roderigo Dangiagia. At first sight of this lady our hero was
vanquished, for Cupid had shot a keen dart in his already contaminated
heart. Descending from the pulpit, he dismissed all theological
reasonings and sophistical arguments, and gave his whole soul to the
thought of that divine object, and although he knew the high rank of the
lady, whose wife she was, and what a mad undertaking it would be, and
tried to persuade himself not to venture, yet he sometimes thought,
where love asserts its empire it cares not for rank, for if that was the
case princes would not so often course on our lands, therefore love
must have that same privilege with us. "No one foresees the wounds love
inflicts, they come suddenly and unexpectedly; therefore, if Cupid,
whose arrows are resistless, has found me unarmed and incapable of
resistance, it must be that I am fairly conquered, and as his vassal
I will enter the lists, and if I am to die, I shall be freed from this
torture, and in the next world my spirit will proudly glory in having
placed its affections on so high an object." Thus saying, without
recurring to former nugatory arguments, he, with burning tears, took
pen, ink, and paper, and wrote an elegant epistle to his beloved; first
extolling her as more than divine, and speaking of her immortal charms;
then telling her she had so captivated him that he must either obtain
her favours or die; and, lastly, as he knew he could not presume,
from her high rank, to be admitted in her house, yet he most earnestly
entreated that she would condescend to appoint a time and place, when
he might secretly visit her, or at least permit him to be her devoted
servant, as he had chosen her for the only mistress of his life, adding
numberless tender expressions; he, lastly, kissed the letter over and
over, sealed it, and gave it to a little friar of his, telling him whom
to carry it to, and at the same time giving him his directions. Away
went the friar according to order, and when arrived at the house, he
found the lady surrounded by her women. Making a profound obeisance,
he said, "My master, Madam, sends his most dutiful respects to you, and
entreats you to give him a little of your finest flour to make hosts
with, as you will find better explained in that little letter." The
lady, who was sagacious enough, on seeing the letter, pretty nearly
guessed at the purport of it. Upon reading it, although very virtuous
and honest, yet she could not help being a little pleased at his falling
in love with her, and knowing herself to be so very great a beauty, she
delighted in perusing it, and hearing her charms so praised, being one
of those who strongly feel that innate passion of females--the love of
praise--and who place their whole fame, honour, and glory in being
loved and exalted for their beauty, and who would rather be considered
handsome, though wanting in chastity, than ugly, though with the highest
reputation. The lady, however, having an extraordinary dislike to friars
(and not without reason), determined, not only not to condescend to his
wishes, but not even to favour him with an answer. She likewise made up
her mind, for this time, not to mention it to her husband, and turning
to the little friar, without seeming in the least agitation, "tell thy
master," said she, "that the master of my flour will have it entirely to
himself, and therefore he must get some elsewhere, and as to the letter,
it requires no answer, but that should he wish for one, he must let me
know, because when my husband comes home I will direct him to answer it
as it ought," The friar, though he received so severe an answer, was not
discouraged; on the contrary, his love and ardent desire were the more
increased, and instead of withdrawing himself from this undertaking, as
his convent was close to her house, he so pursued her every where, that
she could not go to her window without meeting his eyes; to church, or
out of the house, but he was ever at her heels; insomuch, that not only
the neighbours, but the very town took notice of it: upon which she then
reflected it was no longer proper to conceal it from her husband, who,
if he should hear of it from another quarter, would conceive a very bad
opinion of her virtue, and more serious consequences might ensue. Thus
determined, she one night related the whole transaction to her husband.
He, who was not less courageous than honourable, was so dreadfully
enraged that he had nearly gone and set the whole convent in a blaze,
and thus destroyed the whole brotherhood; yet growing a little cooler,
after praising the conduct of his wife, he desired her to let the
gallant know, he might come the following night, and introduce him in
the best manner she could in the house, at a particular hour, in order
that he might revenge his honour, without exposing his wife to any
rudeness, and leave the rest to him. The lady felt rather embarrassed,
considering the consequences that might follow, yet to obey the will of
her lord, she engaged to do so, and as the little friar was continually
coming on the same errand, she said to him one day, "commend me to your
master and tell him that the tender affection he professes to me,
and the burning tears which he writes me word he constantly sheds in
thinking of me, have at last softened my heart towards him, and made me
sensible of his love, and that as fortune would have it, Messer Roderigo
being gone this morning into the country, and being likely to remain
till next day, that he must come as soon as the clock struck three, as
secretly as possible; that I will admit him, but that I particularly
desire he would bring no one with him, not even his most intimate
friend." The little monk, happy beyond measure, brought this good news
to his master, who thought himself the happiest fellow in the world, and
every moment of the intermediate time appeared to him whole ages. The
hour coming at last, dressing and perfuming himself in order that he
might not smell of the friar, and providing himself with a large store
of sweetmeats, &c. he went to the lady's house; there finding the
door open, went in, and was led in the dark by a little girl to the
dining-room where he expected the lady would kindly receive him, instead
of which he found the husband and a faithful servant of his; they having
seized him, very coolly strangled him. Master Diego being dead, the
cavalier repented that he had so disgraced himself, by killing a
contemptible friar; but seeing that repentance was unavailing, and being
in fear of the king's displeasure, he determined to get the corpse out
of the house, and carry him to his convent. The servant taking him on
his shoulders, they went towards the garden of the convent, and having
got in, they soon carried him to the privy, where there being but one
seat left, the rest being totally destroyed, as it often happens in
convents, where every place is more like a cavern or den of thieves,
than the habitation of the servants to the Deity, they placed the body
on it and there left him, and went home. As Messer Diego sat there in
that natural attitude, a young and stout friar having occasion, in the
middle of the night, to go to the privy, he lighted a taper and ran to
the place where the defunct Diego sat; being recognised by the young
friar, and not suspecting he was dead, he withdrew, waiting till he
would have come away. Now there had been a monastical jealousy, envy,
and hatred between these two, so that being much pressed, and seeing he
did not move, he said to himself, "This fellow certainly sits there to
spite me, and shews, even in this mean act, his contempt for me; but I
declare I will wait as long as I can, and though I might go somewhere
else, if he does not quit the place I'll make him." Diego, who long
since had crossed the Styx, of course never moved. "By heavens," said
the young friar at last, unable to wait any longer, "I will not bear
with this insult," so saying, he picked up a large stone, threw it at the
deceased's breast, and tumbled him backwards without his moving a limb.
The friar perceiving the strength of the blow, and seeing him fall,
suspected he had killed him; after waiting in hopes of seeing him rise,
between fear and hope, he got closer to him: looking at him with the
taper, he perceived he was really dead, and conceiving that their former
enmity being known, he would be suspected to have killed him, he was on
the point of hanging himself, yet, thinking better of it, he resolved
to carry him out of the convent, and lay him down in the street to avoid
any suspicion falling upon him. While he was deliberating upon this, the
public and scandalous courtship of the master to Donna Catarina occurred
to his mind; upon which he said to himself, "where can I carry him
more easily, and with less suspicion attached to me than before Messer
Roderigo's door; besides, its being nearer at hand, it will certainly be
believed that the fellow going to court his wife, he had got some one to
kill him?" Having fixed on this course, he, with some difficulty, at last
brought him to the very door, from whence, but a few hours before, he
had entered alive and in high spirits. This being done without any one
seeing him, he ran as fast as his legs would carry him to the convent;
he thought he was pretty safe from suspicion, but yet considered it
would be better to absent himself for a few days; he therefore went
immediately to the prior and said, "Reverend Father, the other day, for
want of mules, I left the greater part of our gatherings at Medina,
at the house of one of our fraternity; I therefore, with your holy
permission, would like to take the mare of the convent, and, with God's
help, I hope to return the day after to-morrow." The prior not only gave
him permission, but greatly praised his forecast. The young friar having
obtained leave, prepared his little travelling materials, and having the
mare, was anxiously waiting for the dawn to set off. Messer Roderigo,
who had scarcely closed his eyes all night thinking upon the events that
had occurred, and still a little afraid of the consequences, got up, and
sent his servant to inquire about the convent, and find out whether the
friars had discovered the deceased Diego; the servant, on going out,
found Diego right before the door, looking as if holding an argument,
the which caused him no small fright, as such things generally do;
he ran up to call his master, and scarcely having the power of
articulation, shewed him the dead body of Messer Diego. The cavalier
stared with astonishment and fear, yet comforting himself in the idea of
the justness of his case, he determined quietly to wait the issue, and,
turning round to the dead man, he said, "thou art then determined, dead
or alive, to haunt my house, but to spite me; whoever brought thee here,
thou shalt not have the power of returning again except on a beast, as
thou wert once thyself in the world," so saying, he ordered his servant
to get from a neighbouring stable a stallion which he kept for breeding.
The servant went immediately and brought the stallion, with saddle and
bridle, and, as the cavalier had intended, put good Master Diego on his
back; sticking him upright, and binding him tight, they put a lance
in his hand on the rest, as if they were sending him to the tilt; thus
equipped, they led him to the church gates, tied the horse there and
went home. Scarcely had this been done than the young friar, thinking
it was time to begin his journey, unlocking the gates, then mounting
his mare, was stalking out, when, to his great terror, he beheld Master
Diego equipped as before mentioned, and who with his lance seemed to
threaten him with instant death. He was near falling dead with affright,
from thinking that his spirit had returned into its terrestrial abode,
and was perhaps intending thus to pursue him every where. While he was
thus fixed to the spot, the stallion, whose instinct told him he had a
female beside him, began to move, and, neighing, tried to get at her,
which added to the poor friar's alarm; however, wishing to drive the
mare on her way, as she turned her rump towards the stallion, she fell
a kicking. The friar, who was not one of the best riders, was nearly
thrown, and unwilling to meet with another shock like the first, he
pressed and spurred the flanks of his mare, holding fast the pummel of
the saddle, and letting loose the bridle, he suffered the mare to go
where and as she pleased. The stallion, seeing his prey gallop off,
struggling and foaming, broke the slight rope that bound him, and
stoutly pursued her; the poor quaking friar, hearing his enemy close
behind, turned his head and saw him with his lance fixed like a fierce
justler; seized with deadly fright he began crying out, "Help, help!"
At this outcry, and the stamping of those furious horses, the people
all came looking out at the doors and windows, for it was now broad
day-light. Every one was ready to die with laughing, seeing the chase of
the two friars thus mounted, who both looked more dead than alive; the
mare leaped from one side of the road to the other, and the enraged
stallion after her, and of course the poor friar was often in danger of
being wounded, as may well be imagined.

[Illustration: 092]

The crowds followed close, holloing and hooting; some threw stones,
others sticks at the stallion; every one endeavoured to part them, not
indeed through pity for the friars, but from curiosity to know who they
were, for their race was so swift that they could not recognise them;
they, however, luckily ran towards one of the city gates, where they
were stopped, and the quick and the dead were both taken and recognised,
to the great astonishment of all the multitude. They were both brought
on horseback to the convent, and received with great grief by the
friars; they buried the dead, and the living ordered for torture. The
poor fellow, when bound, rather than suffer torture, confessed he
had killed him on account of what has been previously related;
they, however, could not account for his being mounted as he was. In
consequence of his confession the young friar was not put to the rack,
but was to be confined in a dark dungeon until he could be sent to the
minister of state, that he might be stripped of his orders by the bishop
of the place, and to the lord chief justice to condemn him, and execute
him as a murderer according to law. King Fernando did perchance arrive
at Salamanca at that time; the story having been related to him,
although a very chaste prince, and much distressed at the sequel, and
the loss of so great a man, he could not refrain from laughing heartily,
when with his barons, at the very ludicrous adventure. Near the time
when the friar was to be executed, Messer Roderigo, who felt some
compunction at what had happened, and still more for the fate of the
innocent friar, and that his silence on the subject certainly would
occasion his death, being a favourite with the king, determined on
divulging the whole truth, even at the peril of his own life; therefore,
presenting himself before the king and his barons, he said, "My liege,
the unjust and rigid sentence pronounced against the innocent friar,
induces me to explain the circumstances of the accident, and if it
please your majesty to pardon him who has most justly killed Messer
Diego, I will bring him forth instantly, and he will truly relate
what has happened." The king, who by nature was inclined to mercy, and
anxious to know the truth, most generously promised a pardon, upon which
the cavalier minutely related every circumstance, produced the letter
of Diego, and the king having previously heard the friar's story, and
perceiving it to agree with Don Roderigo's, he summoned the judge and
friar before him, and after relating every thing before the barons
and the people, immediately ordered the poor friar to be released and
forgiven, being cleared from the crime and all imputation of guilt. The
happy friar went merrily back to his convent, thanking his stars.



THE SKILFUL PHYSICIAN

Some few years ago, being in company with a large party of noble ladies
and cavaliers, the novel of Gismonda, daughter of Tancredi, Prince of
Salerno, was read by one of them, and the catastrophe having damped the
spirits of most of the guests, a gentleman present, in order to enliven
the company, began his tale in the following terms:--

It has always seemed to me, noble lady, that the ancient Greeks have
surpassed our Italians in nobleness of heart and humanity, and having
heard in the last _Novella_ of the cruelty of Tancredi, Prince of
Salerno, who had bereft himself of every sort of happiness, and
condemned his daughter to death, a story of a Greek nobleman occurs to
my mind, who was much more humane and wise than Tancredi. You must
know, that among the successors of Alexander the Great, there was a very
powerful baron, called Seleucus, who was afterwards king of Syria. When
young, he took to his wife a daughter of Ptolomæus, king of Egypt, by
name Cleopatra, by whom a short time after he had a son named Antiochus,
and several daughters, whom I will not now mention. When Antiochus was
about fourteen, it happened that Cleopatra, his mother, fell ill and
died, consequently his father Seleucus remained a widower. Being advised
and stimulated by his friends, he took another lady, the daughter of
Antipater, king of Macedonia, called Stratonica, whom after the usual
festivities on those great occasions, he brought home to his court, and
lived most happily with her. Stratonica's person was beautiful, and
her conversation, surpassed every thing one can conceive. Being very
accessible in her court, she often was in company with the young
Antiochus, sometimes sporting, riding, and sharing other amusements with
him, and without being conscious of it, or having even a thought about
it, she excited an ardent passion in the youth, which daily increased.
Antiochus, then about eighteen, but of a very reserved character, and of
a noble-minded disposition, knowing that his love was not allowable
on account of his father, kept his passion so secret, that no one ever
suspected it. In proportion as the flame was kept under, the more it
consumed him and increased; so that in a very few months he grew quite
pale, and his person, which formerly was stout and vigorous, became
weak and emaciated, in so much that he was often asked by his father and
friends, what could be the matter with him? whether he was ill? to which
the youth answered first one thing, then another, ever misleading them
as to the true cause. At length he got some one to beg his father to send
him to the army, saying, that bearing arms, and the toil of a military
life, would be a cure for his illness; that too much ease and idleness
had brought it on. This and other arguments induced his father to send
him to the army, attended by old men, veterans in arms. The remedy might
have proved efficacious, had the youth been able to bear his heart with
him; but that being fixed in its attachment to the divine features of
the beautiful lady, it may truly be said, his body followed the army,
but his soul dwelt at home; nor could he bestow a thought on arms, but
only thought of her, and sleeping, even, he thought he was with her, and
often wept at his folly in having left her. In the course of two months,
such was his afflicted state, that he was taken dangerously ill, became
unable to quit his bed, and was obliged to be carried home in a litter,
to the no small grief of all his father's subjects, who had great hopes
in the virtues of the youth, expecting, at his father's death, to have
a worthy successor to the throne. A consultation of the medical men was
held upon his complaint, and although they were men of the first rate
talents, and used every means in their power, they were unable to do him
any good, because the root of the evil was perfectly unknown to them,
nor could they heal the secret wound which love had made, but merely
aimed at the cure of the body. At last, weary with useless medical
assistance, they found they could not remove this unknown cause of
disease. Among them was a very learned and judicious physician, by name
Philip, he was the king's doctor, and a citizen of the place. As he was
zealously endeavouring to find out the youth's complaint, it occurred to
his mind, and this suspicion grew upon him, that it might be the passion
of love, which the others called consumption.

Philip, full of this thought, and extremely anxious, used to remain long
in the sick chamber, noticing with particular attention every movement
of the patient. He then said to the king, that in order to divert the
youth, it was necessary that the queen, and some other ladies of the
court, should go at least once a day to see him, and afford him some
little amusement. Upon which the king ordered that it should be attended
to. The doctor, seated by the patient's bed, held his left arm, applying
his fingers to his pulse, in order to notice any sudden change that
might take place. By this prudent and wise conduct, he discovered the
disease of the youth; for although, when many beautiful ladies came in
to pay him a visit, the doctor never observed the least variation in the
feeble pulse of his patient; yet, when the queen entered the room, he
felt an extraordinary and strong palpitation, and struggle of nature;
and when the queen had sat down near the youth, and soothed him by her
kind conversations, the pulse seemed to grow still and regular; but when
she arose and left the room, the pulsation grew so violent, that the
doctor began to fear some dreadful consequences. The physician, looking
in the face of his patient, found melancholy seated in that countenance,
where but a moment before happiness had seemed peaceably to dwell; upon
which the doctor became more convinced that the disease was seated in
the heart, but he would not determine, till he had tried three or four
times the same experiment. When he found it produced the very same
effects, he determined to speak to the youth, and acquaint him with what
he had discovered. Having taken a proper opportunity, and sent every
body out of the room, he thus addressed him:--"I thought, Antiochus,
that you had so much reliance in me, that not only you would confide in
me in a medical capacity, where your very existence depended, but even
in any other affair, private or public, and that you would not disguise
any occurrence that should concern you; but now I find I have been
egregiously mistaken, and that my faithful services have not merited
this proof of esteem, the which I cannot help complaining of,
considering that in other respects, though you might have kept me in
the dark, yet, in my profession, and in what concerned your immediate
health, you ought not to have deceived me thus. Know, that the root of
thy disease, which from false shame thou hast concealed, is perfectly
evident to me; what it is, and by whom caused, is well known to me, nor
am I so unfeeling not to be aware that youth is subject to the frailties
of love, and often deprived of the object of its affection; but take
comfort, and you will find to a certainty that my medicine will prove an
effectual cure to your disease: not by means of pills or draughts, but
by inducing your father to yield his wife to you, rather than lose his
son."

Whilst the doctor spoke, the youth burst into a flood of tears, and
sobbing violently, entreated the doctor to let him die quietly, and thus
end his sorrows; for which the doctor strongly reproved him, pointing
out to him the grief his death would cause to his afflicted father, and
the regret that the people, indeed the whole kingdom, would feel at
the loss of him--they who had conceived such hopes of him, and of his
virtues. The prudent doctor pointed out to him, that this was not a
circumstance that ought to make him wish for death, particularly as
there was an easy remedy; that he was convinced of it, and bade him be
comforted, and rely on him. In such a manner did the doctor afford every
consolation he could to his patient; and after making him take such
nourishing food as he thought necessary in his debilitated state,
he went forth to the king. The moment the doctor entered, the king
anxiously inquired how his son was, and whether he had hopes of him. The
doctor humbly begged to speak in private to his majesty, and having both
retired to the king's closet, the doctor thus addressed him:--"My liege,
I have discovered the disease of your son, which we all have sought in
vain; yet I certainly Wish I had not, since it has no cure."

"How!" said the king; "is it such as admits of no remedy?"

"Thus it is, my liege, and there are no means to cure it." The king
insisting on knowing the case, the doctor replied, "the passion of love
it is, and she whom he loves is my wife, and I will keep her to myself,
and would suffer every torture rather than resign her; therefore, there
are no hopes, although I am certain that possessing her would save his
life." Upon which the king, weeping bitterly, said, "Oh, Philip! wilt
thou be so hardhearted as to suffer me to lose such a son for the sake
of thy wife? Dost thou think, that in parting with her thou wilt not be
able to meet with another equally handsome, nobly born, and as pleasing
to thee as she? Thou knowest that a divorce may take place under various
causes and circumstances, nor could there be, perhaps, a better reason
for dissolving your marriage than the present. I therefore pray thee,
by the trust I repose in thee, by the honours and benefits thou hast
received at my hands, the which I mean greatly to increase to thy
full satisfaction, that thou wilt make up thy mind to consent to the
restoring of this son of mine, my only hope, and that of my kingdom; for
thou must be aware what my fate would be should he die, and how I must
hereafter feel towards thee; how look upon thee! With what face wilt
thou be able to approach me, when thou recollectest that for the sake
of a woman, where thousands might be found to charm thee, thou wilt have
been the cause of such a son's death, and my everlasting misery." In
proportion as the king's reasons and entreaties were irresistible, the
greater was the delight of the doctor; as the very pressing reasons he
urged would avail the more against himself. Therefore, as soon as the
king had ceased to speak, still looking towards the doctor, in hopes he
had persuaded him, the doctor said, "My liege, your reasons are such and
so conclusive, that had I ten wives, however dear to me, I would part
with them to preserve your son's life; but I must needs use the same
powerful and convincing arguments with you, my sovereign, and inform you
of the real and true state of the case, which is, that your son has no
other disease but that of a violent and unconquerable passion, and the
object of which is Stratonica, your wife. Now, if I, who am not his
father, ought to give up my wife and seek another, ought you not, my
lord, who are his father, doubly to feel you should yield yours to save
your own son's life?"

The king, upon hearing this, was struck with amazement, and desired the
doctor to tell him how he had come to the knowledge of these things, and
being assured that the queen knew nothing of the fact, and the youth,
through shame and reverence for his father, had resolved rather to die
than reveal his unlawful passion, moved by pity, and being unable to
refute his own arguments, he determined, for the sake of his son, to
part with his wife. In consequence, the separation having taken place,
he most kindly and generously bestowed the lady on his son. The youth,
who at first was in the utmost despair, as soon as he heard the kind
intentions of his father, and saw the pleasure he seemed to feel at the
happiness he blessed him with, soon began to cheer up, and in a few
days was restored to health and spirits; and having received the hand of
Stratonica, lived with her in the greatest happiness, and soon had a son
and other children. The father, beholding his son saved from threatening
danger, and himself surrounded by his grand-children, which secured
the succession of his race, lived perfectly happy, daily thankful to
Providence for the resolute step he had taken, and particularly grateful
to the doctor who had been the means, by his judgment and prudence,
to effect so great a purpose. Thus the humanity and tenderness of the
Grecian king, who saved the life of his son, and secured happiness to
himself, presents a striking contrast with the conduct of Tancredi.



THE POMEGRANATE SEED

At a time when Languedoc was not as yet under the power of the
_fleur-de-lis_, there was at Toulouse a certain count, by name Benato,
who, besides being endowed by nature with numberless advantages, was
blessed with the most beautiful children that any prince could boast of;
besides two sons, he had a daughter younger than either, who according
to every body's opinion was the most handsome, modest, and agreeable
lady that was ever known. In one thing alone heaven seemed unpropitious
to him, for while he was living most happily with his wife, a sister of
the count of Provence, she died before she had attained her thirty-fifth
year, to his very great grief, and that of the country around. Being on
the point of death, she called the count, her husband, and after humbly
requesting his forgiveness of such neglect, or omissions, she might have
been guilty of towards him, she recommended earnestly, with tears in her
eyes, her dear children to him; but above all, her daughter, whose name
was Bianca, adding, that as a last favor which he would grant her in
this world, she begged he would make her a solemn promise, and with full
determination never to violate it; which was, not to marry her daughter
to any one, although it were even the king of France himself, unless
after seeing him, and becoming acquainted with him, she should like him;
adding, that to a young woman there was no blessing equal to the full
liberty of selecting him who is to be her companion through life, and to
whom she is to be true until death. The count having heard the kind and
motherly entreaties of his beloved wife, considering these were the
last words she would probably utter, and the last favor he could bestow,
after many sorrowful tears, promised her solemnly that her wishes should
be fulfilled, and that all should be as she desired. He then tried to
soothe her last moments, though he himself was, perhaps, in greater need
of consolation; he received her expiring breath, and with due honors had
her interred in the cathedral of Toulouse, as may be yet proved by the
tombstone.

In those times, when Catalonia had not yet fallen into the hands of
the king of Arragon and Castile, one Don Fernando, who was count of
Barcelona, from the proximity of the states, and their rivalship in
glory, had long waged war against the count of Toulouse, with mutual
injury to one another; the one being aided by the king of Spain, and
the other by the king of France; nevertheless, as we very often see
it happen, that wars entered upon by princes, from vain and ambitious
views, come to an end, either from weariness, or poverty of the parties;
they at last, though late, having considered that their warfare was
nothing more than ruining themselves to enrich their neighbours, and
affording satisfaction to their enemies, came to the determination to
make such a peace as would be most honourable and least injurious to the
mediators; and in order the better to cement the peace entered upon, it
was said, that it would be highly desirable that the families so long
divided, and now at peace, should be more closely united by an alliance,
seeing that the count of Toulouse had but one daughter among his
three children, and the count of Barcelona only one son among his. It
therefore did not become necessary to argue long on the subject of this
marriage, Salse and Perpignan, as some say, being the dowry, and, as
others say, plenty of gold, the which was lent him, upon a mortgage of
some possessions near Arli and Terrascone, by the count of Provence, who
greatly had enriched his estates by the excellent government of Romeo.
These things concluded, there remained nothing more to do, than for the
Count of Toulouse, remembering the solemn promise made to his wife, to
say all should be done, provided the manners of the young count should
meet with his daughter's approbation, in favour of whom he had pledged
himself never to marry her without her full approbation. This appeared
to all a very trifling circumstance, and by no means likely to thwart
their hopes, inasmuch as this youth, besides ample possessions, noble
birth, and equality of rank, possessed an elegant form, great talents,
and gentlemanly manners. It was scarcely to be credited that he should
have been born at Barcelona; but it was so, and is still considered as a
wonder, for the like was never seen there since, or ever will be.

The young count was then sent by his father to the said nuptials, so
earnestly wished for by both countries, in great pomp, and attended by a
suitable retinue to Toulouse, where he was received with that cordiality
and honour which was due to the favourite son of so great a lord,
blended with French politeness and Spanish dignity, which from their
proximity to each other, they were well acquainted with. These first
ceremonies having been attended to, the beautiful daughter of the count,
elegantly dressed, was presented to him. The lady, who had spared no
pains to adorn her natural charms in every possible way, received him in
so courteous and fascinating a manner, that the young count was amazed,
enraptured, and totally subdued by love and admiration; and, if at first
by reports he was ambitious of possessing her, he now was inflamed, and
scarcely able to command his feelings. The lady, previously informed of
every thing by her father, now eyed him with scrutiny from top to toe,
narrowly watched all his movements, as well as he did those of the lady,
only she with that timidity and modesty befitting a female, while he
gazed at her with all the ease and freedom of an enamoured prince. After
this introduction, the dinner room was thrown open, where a table was
spread, covered with all the delicacies that the season and country
could afford.

Dinner being over, pomegranates were brought in golden vases, according
to the custom of that country, where they are remarkably fine, to clear
and sweeten the mouth and breath from the taste of the various viands.
The count having taken some, how it happened none can tell, but he dropt
one single seed, which he dexterously caught up before it reached the
ground, the which he did, as he said himself, and others affirmed,
merely to shew his quickness and dexterity, and put it in his mouth. The
lady, whether fate ordained it so, or that the action appeared to her
unseemly, or ungentleman-like in a person of his rank, was much vexed
and disgusted at it, and thus argued in her own breast:--This is what I
have often heard said by those who certainly have means of judging; that
the Catalonian people are the most sordid, miserly, and covetous set of
our western countries. Although I have not perceived in him, as yet,
any of the Catalonian ways, yet he may have put on this countenance,
according to the practices of the Catalonians, to deceive people. Poor,
indeed, is he in address, that cannot, for a short time, assume the
manners and language of a cavalier, at least till he has encompassed his
object; but avarice, as I have often heard one of my tutors say, as
it is the mother and nurse of every vice, so it has this particular
property, that it cannot totally be disguised or concealed, even by the
greatest hypocrite, because he, who is by nature of such a disposition,
begrudges not only his own property, but feels as much annoyed in seeing
even that of his enemy's wasted, as a liberal man would feel in seeing
his taken from him; and if this knight is such, and I verily believe him
to be so, considering that amidst plenty he cannot bear to lose even one
single seed, how much more will he be avaricious of his own gold;--what
then would be my case?--can there be a more distressing thing for a
generous and noble spirited woman, than to have a sordid and avaricious
husband? This would be heavy sorrow to me, and the sport of others.
Heaven forbid it should ever be my case. I would sooner die an old maid,
than live with such a being in continual wretchedness and sorrow for my
own folly. Let my father do what he pleases, I know that she must be a
fool indeed, who suffers herself to be persuaded to what would make her
miserable.

Having thus resolved, she ceased to bestow a thought more on the
subject. All the fetes and rejoicings having ended, the count of
Toulouse, one day craving the permission of the Catalonian knight, took
his daughter by the hand and led her into another room, and here, with
all the tenderness of a kind father, asked her what were her sentiments
respecting this young Catalonian. She firmly and deliberately told him,
she would rather live single all her days, than be united to a man whose
principles and manners were so directly opposite to her own. On hearing
this, the old man was sorely grieved, considering that this match having
been proposed for the advantage of the whole country, by not having
effect, it might be the cause of ruin and eternal quarrels between the
rival states. Having asked his daughter the cause of her dislike, and
being answered, he thought it so very trifling a circumstance, that he
could not help laughing. He several times attempted to dissuade her,
but she protested that if, contrary to the sacred promise made to her
mother, any attempt should be tried to force her inclinations, she
would, rather than consent, destroy herself with her own hands. The old
count, remembering his promise to his dying wife, and moved by the love
he bore his daughter, said, with tears in his eyes, "if thou art so
firmly fixed, be it even as thou wilt; nor shall there be any persuasion
used with thee by me." Having left the room, he endeavoured, in the
politest and best way, to excuse himself with the count, observing on
the dispositions of women, and particularly girls, and how often they
were bent on that which was most against their own happiness, and at
last told the count of Barcelona, that she was totally averse to the
match. This was a most grievous disappointment to the count, more
particularly as the possibility of such a thing had never entered his
head, and that he considered the thing as done in his own mind. However,
concealing his wrath and disappointment, he said, smiling, this is not
an extraordinary case, and many a greater man than myself has before now
been the sport of a woman's caprice, but, that since that was the case,
he would press no further, but take his leave, and depart for Barcelona
on the morrow He only begged, in consideration for the trouble he had
had in coming, and the disappointment he had met with, that the count
would tell him what it was that his daughter so mightily disliked in
him. The old man was ashamed to tell it, or to keep the secret; at
length, however, he told him; nor could the Catalonian help laughing,
and he replied, "well, for the future when I pay my court to the ladies,
I will go when pomegranates are out of season, since, as Ceres was
deprived of a daughter, I am of a wife." He praised the count for so
piously attending to the promise he had made his wife, and his love
for his daughter, in abstaining from using compulsion towards her,
and assured him this circumstance should not cause any dissension or
alteration in their late friendly intercourse. They then entered into
conversation on other subjects during the rest of the day; the count,
concealing the rancour of his heart against the lady, took leave of her
and others as kindly as he could, and departed, making the speediest
journey to Catalonia, and having arrived on the confine of his
territories, he dismissed his retinue, giving them to understand he
meant to go on a pilgrimage not many leagues off, (by some thought to
have been to our Lady of Monserrato) and, as on such occasions all pomp
and shew are dismissed, he took with him only two of his most intimate
friends; and informed them of the whole scheme he had planned; they left
their horses, and journeyed on foot to Toulouse, being each of them in
disguise, the count in the habit of a pedler, carrying before him a box
of trinkets and jewels strung to his shoulders, for he had bought many
valuable jewels, and intermixed among them some precious stones of his
own, which he had brought with him as presents to the bride. He did not
include those of greatest value, lest he should be found out by having
so much rich property, and having taken off his beard, which was then
worn very long among the great in Catalonia, he entered Toulouse alone,
having despatched his two friends to Barcelona, considering that was the
best means whereby he might have the good fortune of seeing and speaking
to his lady. Thus he used to go, morning and evening, about Toulouse,
selling his commodities to such as chose to buy them, but he mostly took
care to place himself facing the palace where the count of Languedoc
dwelt, in hopes of speaking to the lady, whom at first from love, and
now from spite, he constantly dwelt upon. It was not many days, before
that one evening the day having proved intensely hot, he beheld his
lady, beautifully dressed in white, sitting with many of the first
ladies at her door; he humbly bowing to them, asked whether any of the
company chose to purchase some of the trinkets he had; offering his fine
goods at a very cheap rate. The countess and other ladies agreeing, as
is the custom of the country, to look at them, called him to them, and
asking him what he had to sell, they all got around him, some looking
at one thing, others at another. He, unaccustomed to the trade, was
scarcely able to answer them; and ever endeavouring to answer the
countess, evaded many answers to the others. After selling many articles
they had chosen, he went his way, vesper time being near. He continued
his attendance thus for several days, and became a very great favourite,
to the annoyance of the other pedlers, who whenever they offered their
goods, were answered, "No! no! we will be true to our Navarro," for he
had told the ladies he was of Navarre, not being able so to disguise
his language, as to appear a Frenchman, yet he would not be known for a
Spaniard.

[Illustration: frontispiece2]

It happened that, after a few days, seeing a good opportunity, the count,
unheard by any other person, said to one of the ladies of the countess
whom he observed to be her greatest favourite, and much beloved by her,
and to whom he had made some little trifling presents out of his wares,
that he had at home one of the most valuable and extraordinary jewels,
from its peculiar properties, that had ever been seen in the world, but
that he never brought it about with him, lest he should be robbed of it,
and that he valued it so, that were it to save his life, he never
would part with it. Without saying any more he departed. The lady was
distracted till she could tell the countess what Navarro had said to
her. When bed-time came, while she undressed her mistress, she related
to her the wonderful properties and beauty of the jewel, adding, as is
usual with such people, something of her own to the truth, and saying,
that if she was the countess, she would move heaven and earth but she
would have it, although he swore he never would part with it, because
it was a remedy against every evil, except death. Thus by such praising,
and such accounts, she made her so eager to possess it, that the lady
could not rest the whole night for thinking of this wonderful jewel.
Scarcely had the dawn appeared, but she sent her maid to Navarro, to
conjure him in her name, and use every means to induce him to sell it,
and should she not be able to succeed, that she might persuade him, at
least, to show it to her; because, on being seen, it perhaps might lose
much of its value in her mind, and thereby lessen the violent desire she
felt to have it. She, of course, went to Navarro, and related all that
had passed. He was highly delighted at what he heard, and began again to
relate the very wonderful effects and power of this jewel, swearing most
positively he would sooner part with his life than with it; but that,
in compliment to her, he would allow the countess a view of it. The
waiting-maid, finding she could not succeed further, accepted the offer;
and having fixed the time of the day when the lady could see it, she
went back to the countess, and related what had been determined upon.
At the appointed time Navarro came with the beautiful jewel. It was a
diamond of so large a size, and of so extraordinary a shape, as she
had never seen before; he said it had been brought to the old count of
Barcelona by certain Catalonian corsairs, who had been cruising beyond
the Straights of Gibraltar, and had taken it from some Normans, who
proving the weakest in the fight, were made prisoners, and all their
property taken from them; many say, added he, that it had been long in
the possession of the king of Naples. Greatly did he praise it before he
showed it, and said, the least he valued it for was its beauty, but that
it was its extraordinary properties that he esteemed, adding, he would
not suffer any one else to see it but herself. He then brought it forth,
still persisting he would not part with it on any account whatsoever.

The countess, holding the jewel in her hand, was admiring it, and the
more she minutely examined it, the more beautiful it appeared to her;
such was the desire of possessing it, that she would have given any
thing to obtain it; yet, concealing this desire as well as she could,
she begged Navarro to inform her of its virtues and properties. After
many times refusing so to do, as if he had some great objection to do
so, "Madam," said he, "whenever any one is in doubt how to determine
upon any thing of great moment, if they look in it; and the
determination they wish to abide by is likely to be of advantage, they
see this stone as clear and bright as if all the solar rays were centred
within it; if the reverse, it becomes as dark as night. Some say,
indeed, that it is the philosophers' stone, so long sought after
in vain, while others think it is not the produce of nature, but of
hermetical philosophy. There are others maintain, that it was that which
Alexander the Great possessed, who never went into battle without first
consulting it; and, lastly, that it was Caesar's, and was the means of
rendering both invulnerable, as you have often heard related." Having
thus replied to the lady, he took the jewel back, and went his way.
Being left with her woman, she exclaimed, "Oh! who could be so happy as
I, if I could but possess such a beautiful and wonderful thing! look
at it, and consult it when I pleased; should I ever be asked again in
marriage, as I was awhile ago by the count of Barcelona, what a blessing
it would be to me to have the advice of my infallible monitor," she then
intreated her maid again, for her sake, to go and beseech Navarro to let
her purchase it at any price he should fix. Though the maid had not the
least hope of success, yet she went twice without succeeding, for he
even denied ever showing it again. At last, the third day, it appearing
to him a proper time to execute the plan he at first had premeditated,
Navarro said, "Madam, since your importunity, the beauty, and superior
charms of your lady, have so won me over to part with such a wonderful
jewel, go and say that I certainly will give it to her, provided, in
return, she will admit me, for one night only, in her room, as she would
a husband. Should she refuse, tell her that neither entreaties, money,
or any other reward, shall ever dispossess me of it, and request her to
cease to wish for it any longer, or molest me further."

The maid related the whole conversation to the countess, adding, that if
she could not bring herself to agree to it, she would have no more to
do in the business, as she was fully convinced, nothing less than such
a sacrifice would do. The lady was seriously angry, considering herself
greatly insulted in her honor, and in threatening words reprobated the
presumption of the fellow, who dared to contaminate her greatness by
such a proposal; with her maid she also found fault, because she had
not rebuked him for presuming to make such a proposal. The maid, rather
smilingly, said, "Madam when I first went by your order, I thought my
duty was to report to both what each other should say; nor should I
ever have thought it my province to alter or conceal any thing said;
therefore, if you are any way displeased, it is your fault, for you
should have ordered me, had he said any thing rude, not to tell you of
it, and to have reprimanded him; though had you mentioned such a thing,
I declare I should not have meddled in it at all; for I not only cannot
punish, but cannot even blame things when they are not unjust. The gods
receive alike the prayers of the just as well as of the wicked; true it
is, they grant it to the just when they think fit, nor did I suppose you
would assume more to yourself. In the name of peace, what has Navarro
done to you? in what has he offended you? are you not aware that asking
is neither robbing nor giving? You are too young, and do not well
distinguish good from evil, but were those locks of yours as grey as
mine, you would talk in a very different style. Such speeches may be
uttered, 'tis true, but to whom and where?--not here! nor to me! nor to
any of your maids, but to strangers, who, although they will not give
credit to them, will consider you as very virtuous, and a woman who is
acquainted with female arts, that is, in one word, to dissemble. But
with me, who am wholly yours, and have no dearer being than you, you
must not talk so; but allowing for your great youth, and bearing with
your reproofs, I will proceed and tell you that if you wisely agree to
Navarro's request, you will have the gem, and I really think you will
have the best bargain. This pedler, although but a small trader, has in
his countenance, manners, and thoughts, something more of the gentleman
than the mechanic. Now if you do not take him, you will have done what
you choose, but not what you ought."

With such arguments and discourse did the old lady's-maid spur on and
seduce her mistress; so that wearied at last with her reasoning and
importunities, though she thought it a monstrous difficult thing to
manage, she after many _nays_ and _yesses, ifs_ and _buts_, said to her,
"do what you list, but settle it so that it be only for one night, and
late enough, that it may not occasion any mischief to me, and danger to
thee; for really when once you begin upon a thing, there is no way of
getting rid of you, and one's obliged to give way." The lady made
no answer, but went to Navarro, and arranged so, that the following
evening, after midnight, he should come to the garden-gate behind the
house, and she would direct the rest, and not to forget the jewel; all
of which was duly performed, and at night when he had given the gem,
he said, he had more of equal value which he saved for her, and would
dispose of at the same price; the which being heard by her woman, she so
teazed her mistress, pointing out to her that repetitions would not make
things worse, that she earned a beautiful ruby and an emerald, the one
of which Navarro said possessed the virtue of counter poison, the other
an antidote to the plague, the which often occurs in Languedoc. But as
it often happens that we get that which we do not look for, a few weeks
after the countess actually found that she was not likely to escape
with impunity, upon which she entered into counsel with her adviser, who
afforded her all the consolation she could, and told her that she must
keep her own secret, and all things should be provided against, and all
go well; that she was not the first by far, and would certainly not be
the last, to whom such things had happened, who afterwards, for a true
maiden, was taken as a wife.

The flush of shame rising upon the countess's cheek, she cried, "let
others do what they may; heaven forbid, that since I could not guard
against the first transgression, I should gloss it over by a second; I
never will be the wretch to deceive one that shall think me honourable.
The sin shall fall on the sinner, and that fruit shall be his that sowed
it. Too long have I followed thy silly counsels, therefore, without any
farther consultations, if thou wishest not to offend me, go and bring
Navarro to me, for since I have so degraded myself as to become
his, though late, I will be noble enough never, by deceit, to become
another's, and am fully determined to submit to that fate which thy ill
advice, and thy want of discretion and prudence, have led me to." The
waiting-maid perceiving the countess's resolution was fixed, though she
endeavoured to soothe and persuade her, brought Navarro, who, perhaps,
having seen the countess much altered, had well guessed the cause. The
countess, almost overcome with grief, yet, without shedding a tear, with
the greatest firmness, not like a silly girl, said to him, "my friend,
since thy good fortune and my ill one, thy great prudence and my want of
it, has led me, nobly born as I am, rather than deceive God and man, to
become the wife of a pedler, and thou, whoever thou art, to become the
husband of a count's daughter; I pray thee not to turn thy back on me,
but to prepare thyself to become mine. I am pregnant, and do not mean
to remain here, a burden and nuisance to others, and an eternal cause
of shame and sorrow to myself; I am therefore resolved upon going with
thee, living poorly, and labouring for my bread, rather to injure this
guilty body, than to live in ease and plenty, to the detriment of my
soul; therefore prepare all things so, that by to-morrow night we may
go from hence, and having by me thy gems, many of my own, and a little
money, we will go as well as we can, sheltered from hunger, until I
can see to what better fate the destinies have decreed me." The count
of Barcelona, whom henceforward we shall no longer call Navarro,
though much pleased, for it was this which he wished above all things,
considered within himself, had he been what she really thought him,
what would have been her fate; to what fortune leads us; how often
it happens, and how easy it is to deceive women, though they think
themselves so wise, and particularly girls. He felt so much pity for her
that he was ready to do that, which she, though a woman, had too much
pride to do, that is actually to weep and, in great agitation, he said
to her, "Madam, I am a poor pedler, as you have clearly seen, and as
such I have made up my mind to live and die a bachelor, therefore I
intreat you not to molest me with such thoughts, nor bring upon yourself
this disgrace." He would have proceeded, but compassion for her, the
desire of possessing her, and the fear she should repent what she had
proposed, actually choked his utterance. "My friend," said she, "I will
only say that the most fortunate man in the world has scarcely evermore
than one such a lucky opportunity, as thy good fortune offers thee to
my great disadvantage; beware of her frowning upon thee for thy folly,
should thou, a poor pedler, refuse to marry her who but very lately
refused the count of Barcelona." These last words so fired the soul of
the count, and so excited him to vengeance, that he no longer refused,
and said that since she wished it, he would be ready to obey, and that
she must prepare herself to lead a life suitable to one who was his
wife, and not as her father's daughter; walking on foot without any
other companion; inasmuch as not only his profession demanded, but also
because it was necessary to avoid the danger to which the carrying away
the daughter of a count would expose him. It was agreed, without saying
a word to any one except the countess's maid, that they would sally
forth, each under a pilgrim's dress, to St. James of Gallicia the next
night. The bustle and wonder at Toulouse and the adjacent parts were
very great when this accident was discovered; but no one being willing
to credit it, it was thought that through devotion she had retired into
some religious house; for since she had perceived her situation, she had
been much more attentive to her religious duties than usual, avoiding,
as far as she could, all company; the which circumstance gave additional
credit to the belief: and the maid, who had remained, had so well
managed her story, intimating her displeasure at being so deceived, that
every one thought that was actually the fact; therefore in consequence
of this belief, the couple being soon out of the territory of Languedoc,
they were not found out, although closely pursued. It would be tedious
to relate the many trials and sufferings of the poor unhappy lady on
their march; she who had for years scarcely moved a step without her
carriage, and being assisted by several cavaliers of her father's
court, was now, in the parching month of July, obliged to walk on
flinty stones, besides being pretty large, and enduring every possible
suffering on the road which a poor person must bear. The count now
and then would make her rest, but in such a harsh tone, and then so
uncourteously made her resume her journey, that it went to her very
soul; but on the day they left Toulouse she made up her mind patiently
to bear every insult of fortune. Proceeding thus on her journey, they
reached the inn where she hoped to rest from the fatigues of the day;
but whether from the bad accommodations in that country, or that the
count chose to have it so, she could not close her eyes, and it became
rather an encrease of sufferings, than an alleviation either to body or
mind. After several days, being arrived at Barcelona, there he found his
friends, whom he had sent off with speed, the very day he left Toulouse,
to provide the poorest lodging they could find for him and his lady,
but, however, at a good and religious woman's, though there are but few
of those. Having slept with her the first night, and stayed with her the
whole day, in the evening he made her believe that some business would
detain him out the next day, and that he could not possibly be with her
till night, desiring her to attend with the old woman to her work, so
that she might provide for her scanty living, for he did not mean to
sell any of his jewels, nor waste his money; on the contrary, as he
spared from his trade by industry, she must do the same, if she wished
for peace and quietness; the unhappy countess sighed from her inmost
soul, recollecting how many poor people her father supported, while she
was in such a distressed situation, as to be obliged to work for her
daily support; but with a sweet smile, she answered she should do as he
desired. The count, in a pilgrim's dress, left her and went to his home,
where, as one that had been lost, without hopes of being seen again,
he was most tenderly received by his father and mother, for he had
considerably lengthened the proposed time of his absence. Thus then did
the count jovially spend the days with his friends and courtiers, never
omitting, however, returning in his pilgrim's dress to his lady at
night, and commanding her new duties, and ordering her to be always
ready to help the hostess in the kitchen and household work, Not being
as yet satisfied, he determined to heap upon her new injuries; he
therefore said to her one evening, "to-morrow I mean to treat a friend
of mine, a skinner, at a tailor's, where I must, of course, purchase the
bread, and as bread is very dear in this part of the world, and I don't
like to be at the expense, I have thought that tomorrow morning, after
you have helped the hostess in baking, you must pretend to have dropped
something, and hide four rolls in your pocket under your petticoat,
and keep them for me, and two or three hours after dinner I'll come
and fetch them." This appeared a most vile and degrading thing to the
noble-minded countess, and had it not been that she had heard much of
the idle and lazy habits of the Spaniards and Navarrese, she would have
believed he was in jest, yet thinking, after all, it was spoken in good
earnest, she intreated him for heaven's sake, not to compel her to
such an act; to which he churlishly answered, "what! have you not yet
forgotten you are the daughter of the count of Toulouse, eh! yet the
first day we left the place I told thee, and thou didst promise, that
forgetting the past thou wouldst only remember that thou wert the poor
wife of Navarro; now I tell thee again, that if thou wishest to be
happy, thou must make up thy mind to do this, and any thing else I
shall command thee, otherwise I will leave thee here alone, and shall go
elsewhere to seek my fortune." Thus was she compelled to obey; and,
in the morning, as she had been desired, so she did. The count every
evening used to ride about at his pleasure, and, on that day, calling
on one of the two friends who were at Toulouse with him, and who was
somewhat related to him, he told him what he was to do. The count
passed by the poor dwelling of his lady, and there stopped awhile at a
distance, while his companion, who had directions how to act, drew
near the old woman, who happened to be at the door, at work with the
countess; "Mistress," said he, "who is this young woman sitting by you?"
When the old woman had told him who she was, and when she had arrived
there; "Oh," said the gentleman, "you seem to be old in the world, but
with very little knowledge of it; this female appears to me to be one of
the wickedest women I ever saw, and, if you do not mind, she will strip
you of every thing you have in the world;" the which the old woman
denied, and bestowed great praise upon her. "Nay," said the gentleman,
"I will convince you with your own eyes before I go; now, only raise her
upper petticoat a little, and look in her pocket and see what she
has there, and that will prove to you that I have not been studying
necromancy at Toledo seven years for nothing;" and as he seemed
approaching, to convince her himself, she, out of regard to the
countess, rather than suspicion, searched her pocket, where she found
the four rolls, at which she was much amazed, and endeavoured to
apologize for her to the gentleman. After a little chat, and laughing on
the subject, he departed: the reader may well imagine how confounded
and ashamed the countess was. She almost swooned in seeing herself so
detected and degraded. Having afterwards been gently reproved by the old
woman, she, weeping, asked her pardon, and promised never to be guilty
of the like sin again, but carefully concealing who it was that had made
her do so. At night the count said he had not had any occasion for them,
and pretended to be much displeased at the shame she had brought upon
herself, saying, that it was in consequence of her ill-will to do it,
and her awkwardness.

The countess of Catalonia, his mother, at that time was preparing some
curious works which she was engaged to consecrate by a vow to a saint at
Barcelona, to be added as ornaments to the various figures, animals, &c.
represented on it; now, it occurred to the count that this would be an
excellent opportunity of mortifying still more the poor countess; he
therefore told his mother that he knew a French woman that understood
these things remarkably well, and would send her on the following day;
and, in the evening, he told the countess to prepare, and commanded her
to steal as many of the pearls as she possibly could. She burst into a
flood of tears on hearing this, for the adventure of the rolls was too
fresh in her memory, and considering that she was going to the house of
him whom she, but scarcely nine months since, had scorned and refused,
and where she might easily be discovered, weeping bitterly, she begged
him not to insist; but upon his threatening vengeance against her should
she not obey, she was compelled to consent; and the better to conceal
the theft, it was agreed she should put the pearls in her mouth,
under her tongue, for however few she might take, these being so
very valuable, it would still be a great gain. In the morning she
was introduced and set to work by the count's mother; her manners and
behaviour were so genteel, that such as beheld her agreed that she must
have been of noble birth, and well brought up, from her readiness and
grace in every thing that belongs to a female; she, little caring for
their praises, these being rather as so many daggers to her heart,
attended to the concerted plan, and had already got three of the finest
pearls under her tongue, when she beheld the very gentleman that had
occasioned the bread scene to take place, for he had been sent by the
count. The said gentleman began to converse with the old countess, then
looking at the poor creature now at work, said he was much astonished
that such a vile woman should be admitted in her house; relating to her
the story of the rolls, and presently proceeded to tell the old countess
what she had robbed her of, which the poor creature, to her great
confusion, was compelled to bear; but the lady, excusing her on account
of her poverty, paid her for the work she had done, and dismissed her.

The angry count at last thinking he had sufficiently avenged the insult
he had suffered from his wife, and punished the rash opinion she had
formed of him; she now feeling that she had been guilty of much more
meanness than the picking up a seed of pomegranate, and knowing she was
near her time, determined no longer to torment her, and having related
the whole story to his father and mother and that she had been persuaded
to become his prey, not from avarice, but by artful means; likewise,
considering how much pain and grief he had heaped upon her in punishment
for her offence, he said, that the next day, he intended, it being
agreeable to them, to bring her home as the daughter of the count of
Toulouse, and his wife. The old folks were as much delighted at hearing
this, as they had been grieved when they heard the match had been broken
off, and without giving any reason for it, a grand and elegant fete was
ordered to be prepared in the evening. The count of Barcelona said to
his wife, "to-morrow there will be a grand fete at the house of the
count of this country, on account of his marrying the eldest daughter of
the king of Arragon, one of the handsomest and most beautiful women in
the world; indeed, he may thank heaven that thou didst spurn him from
thee, for he has much improved his riches and dignity by this alliance."
The poor creature at this could not repress a deep sigh, considering
what she formerly had been, and what she now was. The count proceeded:
"to-morrow will be a holiday, there is no work done, therefore I have
been thinking that thou and the good old woman should come and spend
your time there, for here alone thou wouldst be moped, and meanwhile
thou wilt be able to see if any thing can be got at there without being
detected; as thou art a woman, though thou hast been seen there, no harm
will come of it, but a little shame, that will soon be overcome, and
which a poor creature as thou art must make up thy mind to." Although
the countess had suffered so much from the other vexatious scenes she
had gone through, she now thought this the most cruel of all, and, in
the greatest agony, said, she could be prepared to meet death, rather
than do such a thing: but the count, who was fully determined on this
last trial, swore, threatened, and abused her so, that she was at last
forced to submit, and promised she would not fail to be there. He having
apprised the hostess of his design, told her at what hour, and where
she was to go the next morning; this done, he returned home. On the
following day, all the first nobles and ladies of Barcelona having
assembled at the old count's to honour the festival, before the tables
were prepared, various amusements took place. The old hostess, as
previously agreed with the count, brought, most reluctantly, and, as it
were, by force, the young countess a full hour before dinner. The
poor creature had scarcely entered the great room, retiring as much
as possible amidst the least conspicuous among them, than the count,
sumptuously dressed, joyful and happy, going graciously up to her, said
aloud, so that he might be distinctly heard by all, "welcome, the lady
countess, my bride! It is now high time that your pedler, Navarro,
should be transformed into the count of Barcelona, and that you, a poor
pedler's wife, should become the daughter and wife of a count!" At these
words, struck dumb with wonder, shame, fear, and hope, the countess
looked around to see whether these words were addressed to any person
besides her; yet, in a moment recognising his voice and manners,
uncertain what she should do, the words died on her lips: upon which the
count added, "my lady, if the having been refused by you, had enraged
me so as to make me more cruel towards you than you might consider
justifiable, yet, I think, had you been in like circumstances, as much
in love as I, and undeserving to be so indignantly treated, I should
obtain not only your pardon, but that you would plead my excuse:
therefore, as I have found more true nobleness of mind in you, in this
low state you have been reduced to, than I at first was able to discover
in your higher situation, I do entreat you to forget, as I do, the
first offence, my former treatment, and cast into eternal oblivion every
revengeful deed of mine, and be pleased, in the presence of my father,
mother, and this noble company, to give me in Barcelona that which you
refused me in Toulouse, and which I stole from you by the dint of art."
The countess recovering from her astonishment, replied, with a noble
countenance, manner, and good sense, and like a princess: "happy am I,
my true lord, to know on this day how far greater my good fortune has
been than my judgment: since I find you what you really are, not what
I at first looked upon you to be; most willingly do I forget the merited
wrongs I have suffered, and ready am I to bestow publicly, before this
noble and honourable assembly, that which before was granted in Toulouse
before less honourable witnesses. I am, therefore, ready to be yours,
if it so pleases you, and if it be approved by your father and the lady
your mother, whose generous pardon I crave for former offences, and
will ever honour and hold dear as a loving daughter." She would have
proceeded, had not the tears of the old count, countess, and bystanders,
interrupted her. Her tattered garments were then thrown aside; she was
elegantly dressed; the fete became a complete scene of happiness; the
count of Toulouse was apprised of every thing, and the alliance joyfully
confirmed, the ample portion given, and the former friendship newly
cemented, and, a very few days after, the countess was delivered of a
beautiful son, and several other children in the course of time; she
lived most happily with her husband, and became almost adored throughout
the country.

This story is distinctly and circumstantially recorded in both
countries, and I leave it to the hearers to determine which was most to
be admired--the virtue of Toulouse, or the courtesy of Catalonia.



THE FATAL MISTAKE

There lived at Salerno a nobleman of the name of Marino, who had by his
lady, named Placida, one only son, who was scarcely two years old when
his father became dangerously ill, so much so that all the doctor's
skill could not avail. Finding that it was impossible for him to
recover, he called his wife, and requested her to bring his boy to him.
When his wife came near, he raised himself in the bed as well as he
could, gave one hand to his wife, and held the boy's in the other, and
said to her, "Placida, I am come unto my last hour, therefore am aware
I shall not be able to take care of our boy; bring him up, and train
him to virtuous pursuits, in which thing I had placed all my future
happiness, and in doing for him all that which his tender age required
of me; seeing that I must leave him so young, I should feel my
approaching dissolution with real dismay, were I not convinced that your
principles and prudence will amply make up for the loss of his father.
I, therefore, consign unto thy care and power this dear son, in whom I
still hope to live again; and I entreat thee, by the dear remembrance of
the extraordinary blessings and happiness we have enjoyed hitherto,
that as thou hast ever been the ten-derest parent, thou wilt now be both
father and mother to him; and since it does not please heaven that we
should be continued together in this happy state, I do entreat that thou
bestow on him all that tender love and affection that thou wouldst have
bestowed on me had I lived to old age; do but this, and I shall depart
happy!" Thus saying, he embraced his wife, kissed the boy, and placed
him on her bosom. "Marino," said the afflicted wife, "thou earnest away
with thee the better part of me; would it had pleased heaven to have
taken us both at the same time; but since it has otherwise decreed,
and perhaps in order that our child might not remain entirely bereft of
protection, I will be to him the tenderest of mothers. True it is, he
would have needed thy assistance more than mine in educating him, and
in directing his mind and heart, but nothing shall be wanting in me to
justify the reliance and good opinion thou placest in me, or to induce
the dear boy, in whom I see thy beloved image impressed, to imitate thy
many virtues. Oh! that I could, by the sacrifice of my life, lengthen
thine! Rest assured that I will preserve my faith in the care of the
charge thou hast given me, while I live, as truly as I have to thee
during this life."

Much did he praise and commend her, and would have said more, but to the
great grief of Placida, he expired soon after in her arms.

After the funeral was over, Placida took great care to do every thing
that could be conducive to the child's future welfare. The boy was
naturally of a good temper, clever, fond of his mother, and very
obedient to her, the which made him improve so much in learning and
manners, that every one was astonished, and gave great credit to his
mother for the care she had taken of him.

When the boy entered his twelfth year, he was seized with a fever, which
by changing its symptoms, induced the medical men to fear it would turn
to a consumption, and cause his dissolution. The poor mother, meanwhile,
did not omit any one thing that could tend to his recovery, but was
wasting away with grief as much as her son was by the fever. The
physicians used every means to prevent the disorder from increasing, and
the mother took care to give him every morning the medicines that had
been ordered in certain portions of endive water, nor would she suffer
any of the servants to do it for her. She, therefore, got up every
morning, mixed the draught with her own hands, and gave it to him; but,
by the sequel, it will be perceived how unavailing is prudence when
ill-fortune pursues us. Placida, although yet young, for she was
scarcely more than thirty, and though beautiful, and truly virtuous,
was most anxious to preserve that beauty which nature had so liberally
bestowed on her; for which purpose she was in the habit of using a
cosmetic to clear the skin, and prevent the wrinkles which age naturally
brings on. It unfortunately happened that after using this wash, she
gave it to her maid to put in its proper place. As the latter was going
out of the room with the bottle, one of the servants came in, and gave
her the bottle of endive water intended for the patient's mixture;
having both hands full, she placed one bottle, as she thought, in the
place where the wash used to be deposited, and the other she gave to her
mistress, who laid it where she usually put her son's mixture.

The next morning Placida went to her son, and gave him the medicine
which she had prepared as usual, but he had not taken it more than an
hour when he began to feel the most excruciating pain, and was tortured
almost to death. The mother, in the greatest alarm, sent for the
physicians, and related to them the strange effect produced that day on
the patient by the draught which had before appeared so serviceable
to him. The medical men were at a loss how to account for this
extraordinary circumstance, but on examining the effect produced on the
patient, they concluded there were signs of poison having been taken.
"Good lady," said they, "your son has not taken his usual medicine; but
poison has been given to him; it is that which has brought him to such a
state."

"What! poison!" cried she, "wretch that I am!--Gentlemen, you must be
mistaken, for none but I ever administer the draughts."

"It may be," said they, "that the person that fetched it may have
deceived you, and put poison in the draught." The servant, upon this,
was immediately called up; he said that he had brought that which the
apothecary had given him, without looking into what it might be, and
that he would rather die than have done such a thing; being extremely
fond of the youth, and besides a very worthy servant, he was easily
credited. The apothecary was next sent for, but he positively asserted
he had sent the same draught as usual. No one could imagine how this
could have happened; the physicians, however, determined to come to the
bottom of it, desired the bottles to be brought to them, and dipping
in the finger, and tasting the dregs, they immediately perceived the
sublimate of the cosmetic. "Good lady," said they, "you have been
deceived, this is not the endive decoction, but real poison." The lady,
examining the bottle more minutely, immediately suspected it was that
wherein the wash used to be; terror seized her; she called the maid, and
it was discovered that she had given her mistress the wrong bottle. The
physicians instantly used every means in their power, but the poison
had had too much time to work on the vital parts, and nothing could save
him. The disconsolate mother threw herself on her lifeless child, and
remained there till they really thought she had expired; the doctors,
however, used their skill, and soon recovered her, but the poor
creature, instead of feeling thankful for their kind offices, reproached
them for not allowing her to die; but, said she, that which grief will
not do, my hand shall accomplish. Thus saying, she caught a knife that
lay on the table, and was in the act of destroying herself, when they
all interposed. She called them most cruel in wishing her to endure
life; cursed her hard fate, and her ill fortune; accused heaven; raved;
insisted that her maid should be brought to her, that she might strangle
her with her own hands, since her carelessness had brought her beloved
son to the grave. Those present endeavoured to remind her that it was
not any ill intention, but a mistake; and that, therefore, the girl
did not deserve so severe a punishment. She insisted, however, that she
should be taken up, and examined; but the judge, finding her more silly
than guilty, absolved her. This did not satisfy dame Placida, and they
were obliged to remove the young woman from her service, who was sorely
grieved at her careless conduct, having been the cause of so fatal
an accident. After this delirium and rage against the poor girl had
subsided, she began to reflect on herself, and considering that her
pride, in wishing to preserve her beauty, had been the sole cause, she
tore her hair, scratched her face, and totally disfigured herself, and
talked of nothing but killing herself; "No!" said she, "I, who have
murdered my child, do not deserve to live!" She constantly entreated
those who had the care of her to kill her. Finding this would not avail,
she determined to starve herself, and would neither eat nor drink, and
they were obliged to force some nourishing liquid down her throat. She
at last went downright mad, and, in her madness, was ever calling upon
her beloved son. She continued so a few years, and was at last happily
released; happily, it must be allowed, since she would have suffered the
most agonizing pain and anguish of heart had she lived.



THE DEAD ALIVE

There was, not many years ago, at a village called Valdistrove near
Siena, a countryman of about thirty years of age, a fine stout and
sturdy fellow, and industrious too, who never lost an hour in idleness,
and one of the best labourers about the place. Santi-grande was his
name, grande being added from a nick name given to his father. This
fellow was extraordinarily strong and powerful, but the greatest ninny
that ever lived; nature had certainly endowed him with strength of body,
but had left his upper rooms totally unfurnished, in so much that he
became the sport of the villagers, who delighted in playing him all
sorts of tricks--no uncommon thing in villages, where an idiot or so is
usually to be met with. Even gentlemen of the neighbourhood would
often play him some trick or other. Poor Santi took it all very
quietly--insensible of his inaptitude. Some time since a favorite goat,
which he prided himself in, had brought forth two kids; he was highly
delighted, and thought himself a Croesus in the possession of these, and
planned what was to be done with the money they would fetch, when they
were grown to a proper size. He said to his brother, "Simon! get me
those two kids ready by the morning, for I will go to Siena to-morrow,
and sell them." Santi was so elated, that he could not sleep the whole
night. Simon, who wished to humour him, got the kids ready, saying to
him, "now don't ye go and make a foolish bargain, for they are well
worth three livres; they are stout little creatures."

"Leave that to me," said the poor silly fellow, "I knows how to make a
bargain, I warrant you," and away he went, Singing. It so happened that
when he came to the Porta del Diavolo, two of his neighbours met him,
and being in a merry humour, determined to have a little sport with him.
Aware of his errand, one of them said, "well, Santi, have you capons to
sell there?"

"Faith," said Santi, "unless my brother has played me a trick I think
they are two fine kids," so saying, he was feeling their ears and shooting
horns. Our two humourists observing that Santi was a little in doubt
about their identity, were inclined to carry on the joke. "Nay," said
one, "feel again, for they are capons to a certainty." A porter that
happened to be near him, seeing what was going on, cried out "Here,
master, will you sell your capons? What do you ask for them?" Santi
stopped short in amazement at the question; the fellow drawing near,
said, "well, will you sell them?"

"No," said Santi, "I won't; they are not capons, they are kids." One of
the youngsters kept close in conversation with Santi, asking him how he
came to be so tricked; while the other, mending his pace, persuaded all
those he met with, to ask the man if he would sell his capons? the which
they all did. When the fellow got to the inn of the Angel, he told the
landlord of the joke, and all the stable-boys and waiters came forth,
crying out, "will you sell your capons, Santi?" and all seeming anxious
to buy them. Poor Santi looked hard at the kids, and could not be
persuaded that they could be capons, therefore made the same answer,
that they were kids not capons; "for," said he, "I told brother to pack
up the kids, not capons."

"Why," said the youngster, "they are well worth the kids, but if thou
attemptest to sell them for kids, every one will think thou art mad."
His companion, meanwhile, had gone forward to the city gate to tell the
custom-house officers the joke, so that when Santi came to the gate,
they demanded the duty for the capons, which was one penny each: "But,"
said Santi, "these are kids."

"Oh! let him alone," said one of the officers, "he is mad, and wants to
pay the duty for kids instead of capons."

"You silly fellow," said one of them, "if they were kids you would have
five pence duty to pay, don't think we should cheat ourselves." In
the meantime numbers of people crowded around, and enjoying the sport,
vociferated that they were capons, so that at last Santi began to think
they really were. "Yet," said he to a driver that was talking to him, "I
thought I heard them cry _ba, ba_."

"True," said the driver, "but were not the capons and kids in the same
place?"

"Yes," said Santi. "Well, the capons learned to _ba_ from the goat and
kids, as children learn to prate from their mothers and nurses. However,
were I you, now we are near the town, I would not attempt to offer them
as kids, for they will think you mad."

"A plague on that brother of mine, but I will serve him a trick for
this," said Santi. The two young men, when they came to the gates of
the town, left Santi and the driver talking on, and went their way, when
they met Girolino Palmieri, a very frolicksome fellow, though rather
old.

On hearing the jest they had put upon Santi, and his business leading
him that way, he determined to carry on the farce, and have a little
sport; having met Santi, he asked him what he would sell the two capons
for? Santi, who no longer considered them as kids, bargained with
Girolino for three livres, and they being two fine ones, he bought them,
rather to prevent some one else from having the bargain, paid Santi for
them, and led him to the house of a cousin of his in the market-place,
took him up stairs, saying to him, "what is the matter with you? are you
not well? are you in any pain? how pale you look; will you have a glass
of wine? why, thou art not the same man, how changed!" at these words,
and in thinking of the capons, Santi became wild, and thought that,
like the kids who had turned capons, he also had turned to something
frightful. The young men, who had noticed that Girolino had bought the
kids, were determined to inquire how the matter ended, and followed
Girolino to the house, where they found Santi drinking. "Well, how is
it?" said the one; but before he could well answer, Girolino said, "I
have made him take a glass, for he feels very ill."

"Poor fellow!" said one of the men, "where do you feel pain? how deadly
thou dost look, thou art surely dying."

"He ought to be put to bed," said the other. Hearing this, and much more
to the same purpose, Santi, almost maddening, thought he began to feel
very ill, and conceiving he was dying, cried out, "my head aches! my
body! my back! my legs! oh dear! oh dear! I am going."

"Art thou cold?" said Girolino. "He must be so," said the one, "though
it be intensely hot."

"Indeed, I do begin to feel cold," quoth Santi. Girolino, still
determined to go on with it, ordered a maid servant to warm a bed for
him; when put to bed, they said, "Santi, how long is it since thou hast
confessed? hast thou been to confess this year?"

"Yes," said he. "Well, but," said one of them, "if thou diest, where
wilt thou be buried?" Santi, thinking he was either dead or dying, said,
"let me be buried at St. Giulia, where my dad lies; and let the money
I got for the capons go to my mother, for I won't let brother have a
farthing." Girolino perceiving that Santi thought he was actually dying,
ordered a large old sheet, and he and the other two cut out and sewed up
a winding-sheet, and took it unto Santi, saying, "look ye, Santi, I
will have ye die like a gentleman; put this on quick, or it will be too
late." Santi, who had no notion that dying was a serious thing, put it
on, and in so doing, said, "why its too long! I never shall get it on."
Having thus equipped him, they said, "now, Santi, that thou art dead,
lay still, shut your eyes, and don't speak, and we will get thee carried
to the ground where your dad lies." While they were laying him on a sort
of hearse, and four men were sent for to carry him, they alternately
cried out, "Poor Santi is dead; poor fellow, he is really dead!" The
porters, who thought they were carrying a corpse, went through the gates
quietly without being stopped, intending to take him to Strove, his own
village: as they went on, there happened to pass by a carrier belonging
to the cavalier Cappacci, who knew Santi well, but not recognising him
in that state, asked the man who it was that died. They not knowing,
answered they could not tell; however, the carrier getting near to the
hearse, knew Santi instantly, and cried out, "Why it's that booby Santi
del Grande; how came the mad fellow to die so soon, a stupid dog."
Santi hearing himself thus abused, could not abstain from answering,
yet without moving, he opened his eyes, and cried out, "if I was alive,
instead of being dead as I now am, I'd let you know who Santi del Grande
is." On hearing the dead man holla thus, the porters dropped their load,
and ran off as if the very devil was after them. Santi, meanwhile, lay
on the ground weeping and groaning, and as many came round him to see
this living dead, and asked him what was the matter, the only thing he
could say was, "take and bury me where my daddy lies." A cousin of
his, who had returned from market, where he had been to sell some wood,
finding him in that state, bound him safe on the hearse and had him
taken home. His mother and brother seeing him in that condition, asked
him what was the matter, and how he came to be in such a state; to
which he only answered, "Oh! I am dead, bury me--bury me, where my daddy
lies." His brother, suspecting some one had played him a trick, and made
him believe that he was really dead, adopted the only means he thought
could bring him to his senses, and, taking a horsewhip, began to lay it
thick and thin on Santi's back; upon which Santi, roused by the blows,
cried out, "villain that thou art, thou hast caused my death by giving
me two capons instead of the kids I asked thee for;" and upon this he
run after his brother, and both fell to it.

[Illustration: 161]

The mother hearing the bustle came in with some neighbours, and parted
them at last. Santi much bruised with the rope that had fastened him
on, and the shock of the hearse when it fell, in addition to the
horse-whipping, was put to bed black and blue. After two or three days
he recovered, went to his usual work, but swore he would never go and
sell any thing at market again.



THE FALSE CHAMPION

There was in Provence, not many years ago, a certain Signor Carsivallo,
a nobleman who possessed several manors; a man of great merit and
judgment, much beloved and respected by the barons and nobles of the
place, the more so on account of the antiquity of his family, who were
descendants of the Balzos. This gentleman had a daughter, named Lisetta,
who was one of the greatest beauties in Provence. Many barons and lords,
who were young, and of elegant appearance, had solicited her hand. But
the said Carsivallo refused them all, nor would he marry her to any of
them.

There was at that time a Count Aldobrandini, who was lord of all Venisi,
containing many cities and castles, and who was above seventy years old,
and had neither wife or children. He was possessed of so much riches
that they exceeded all belief. This Count Aldobrandini hearing of this
beautiful daughter of Carsivallo, fell in love with her, and would
willingly have married her, but was ashamed to solicit her hand on
account of his age, knowing that so many young and noble knights had
sought to obtain her, and had been refused. However, he felt his love
increasing, and could find no way to obtain her. It happened that giving
a grand treat, Carsivallo, as his friend and humble servant, called to
see him; the count received him with open arms, and honoured him much,
gave him hunters, hawks, hounds, and various other presents; after which
the count bethought himself he would in a friendly manner ask him for
his daughter.

Being one day by themselves the count began, half in jest and half
in earnest, "my good friend, Carsivallo, I will open my mind to thee
without any further preface, as I know I may venture to speak freely
to thee, although, perhaps, I may be a little ashamed on account of one
thing, and that alone--that I am not quite so stout as I was; but be
that as it may, I would willingly, if it met thy pleasure, marry thy
daughter." Carsivallo answered, "my good lord, I would most willingly
give her unto you, but that I should feel very awkward in so doing,
considering that those who have solicited her hand are all young men,
from eighteen to twenty, who would become my enemies; besides, her
mother, brothers, and relations, would not be pleased, nor do I know the
girl would be at all gratified, when others so young and blooming might
have had her." The count replied, "thou sayest right, but thou mightest
tell her, she shall be mistress of all I possess in the world; meanwhile
we will contrive to find some way of succeeding, therefore, let us think
upon this to-night."

"Yes," said Carsivallo, "I am most willing, and to-morrow morning we
will communicate the result to each other." The count could not close
his eyes all night, but planned an excellent scheme, and the next
morning he called Carsivallo, and said, "I have found an excellent plan
that will afford you a good excuse, and do you great honour."

"How is that, my lord?" said Carsivallo. "Do thou," said the count,
"order a tournament to be publicly cried, and let it be known that he
who wishes to marry your daughter must come on such a day, and whoever
shall be the conqueror, shall have the lady, and leave the rest to me. I
will find means to become the victor, and by this contrivance thou wilt
be excused by all." Carsivallo said, "well, I am agreeable to it." He
left the count, thus saying, and went home; and, when he thought it was
time, he called his wife, and other relations and friends, and said to
them, "methinks it is high time to marry Lisetta; what mean you to do,
considering how many there are who offer themselves; if we bestow her on
one, the others will be affronted, and become enemies, saying, 'am I not
as good as he and so will they all, and we shall only create foes where
we try to gain friends; what think you of proclaiming a tournament in
the spring, and of bestowing her on him who shall win her?" The mother,
and the rest of the friends, said they were of the same opinion,
and approved of the plan. Carsivallo ordered the tournament to be
proclaimed, stating, that whoever wished to marry his daughter, should
come on the first of May, in the city of Marseilles, to the tournament,
and that he who should prove the victor, should have the lady. In
consequence of which, Aldobrandini sent to France, praying the king
that he might be pleased to send one of his best squires, who was most
valiant and expert at the tournaments. The king, considering the count
had always been a faithful servant to the crown, and, over and above,
a relation, sent him one of his knights, whom he had himself brought up
from his infancy; his name was Ricardo, a descendant of the ancient and
famous family of Mont Albano, and ordered him to obey the count in every
thing he should desire. This youth came to the count, who received him
with great kindness, then told him the reason why he had sent for him.
"Milord," said Ricardo, "I am commanded by his majesty strictly to obey
you, therefore, command me, and I will boldly undertake it."

"We have ordered a tournament at Marseilles, where I mean you to be the
conqueror; then will I come in the field of battle to fight with thee;
thou must manage so that I be the victor in the contest." Ricardo
answered, he would do so. The count concealed him within the palace
till it was time, then said, "take such arms as thou listest, and go to
Marseilles, and give thyself out for a traveller; provide thyself with
money, horses, &c., and take care to be true."

"Let me alone, Milord," said Ricardo, and away he went to the stable;
there he saw a fine horse that had not been rode for some months; he had
it saddled, mounted it, and, taking such retinue as he thought proper,
set off for Marseilles, where great preparations had been made for the
intended tournament. Many gentlemen had already arrived on the occasion,
all mounted as superbly as they could possibly be, with numbers of
trumpets, fifes, &c. that stunned the hearers. A great spot of ground
was palisadoed for the tournament, adorned with numbers of elegant
booths for the ladies and gentlemen spectators. On the first of May,
the noble lady, Lisetta, made her appearance, and, like another sun,
eclipsed all the other ladies, as much by her noble manners as her
superior beauty. All those that were anxious to obtain her, came
forth with different devices, and began to thump at one another most
gloriously. Ricardo advanced in the ring, mounted on the above-mentioned
horse, forcing his way through all the combatants. The tournament lasted
the best part of the day, and Ricardo was always victor, being more
expert, and used to the sport; he boldly attacked, defended himself, and
wheeled round with the agility of one well trained to the game. Every
one inquiring who he was, they were told he was a foreign nobleman, just
arrived. He, however, remained victor, and all the others were defeated;
one went one way, the other another, but all much dispirited; and,
shortly after, Count Aldobrandini entered the list, covered with
his armour, and ran up to Ricardo and challenged him, and Ricardo
counter-challenged; and, after a seeming hard contest, as had been first
agreed, the said Ricardo suffered himself to be dismounted, but never
had he done any thing with more regret, for he had fallen in love
himself with the lady; but he was bound to obey the king, and,
of course, the commands of Aldobrandini. The count, remaining the
conqueror, rode round the ring, sword in hand, his suit and barons
coming into the ring to attend him, and greeting him. When he pulled off
his vizor, every one was struck with amazement, and more particularly
the lady. Thus did the count gain the lovely Lisetta, and took her home,
where great rejoicings were continued for some time. Ricardo, returning
to the king, was asked what had occurred; "Please your majesty,"
said Ricardo, "I am just come from a tournament, in which the count
mischievously introduced me."

"How!" said the king, "I have been pimp to the count;" and Ricardo
related the story, which very much surprised the king. "Be not
astonished, my liege, at what has happened, but rather be surprised that
I should have done such a thing, for I never in my life did any thing
I regret so much, and felt so much grief for, so extremely beautiful is
she whom the count has so slily gained." The king thought awhile, then
said, "Ricardo, do not be down-hearted, this will prove a fortunate
event to thee."

It happened a little while after, that the said Count Aldobrandini died
without heir; the lady Lisetta, being left a widow, was taken home to
her father, but he scarcely ever spoke or looked at her; the lady began
to wonder very much at this, and being unable to bear it any longer, she
said to her father---"Father, _I_ wonder much at your behaviour to me,
recollecting that I was your darling child, that you loved me better
than all your other children, and leaped with joy whenever you beheld
me--that is, while I was a maiden; now, I know not what can be the
cause, you scarcely seem able to look at me." Her father answered, "thou
canst not wonder so much at me as I wonder at thee, for I thought thee
more wise, considering why, and by what contrivances, I married thee to
the count merely that thou mightest have children, and remain possessed
of his riches."

It so happened that all Aldobrandini's possessions fell to the king
of France, who, remembering the generous conduct of Ricardo, sent to
Provence to signify unto Carsivallo, that he wished to give his daughter
to a squire of his, who, by right, ought to be her husband. Carsivallo,
who understood the matter, answered the king, that he was master to do
as his majesty pleased. The king mounted his horse, and with a large
retinue went to Provence, and conducted Ricardo with him, and formed
this match, that is, that Lisetta should be his wife, after which he
created him count, and bestowed on him the county which Aldobrandini had
been lord of. This match gave great satisfaction to all, but especially
to the lady, and so they lived together in happiness and comfort.



THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

There was at Florence, of the family of the Seali, a merchant whose name
was Biondo, who had been several times to Alexandria and other parts of
Egypt, and all those long voyages which merchants generally take with
their cargoes. This Biondo was very rich, and had three sons, and being
on his death bed, called his eldest and his second son, and made his
will in their presence, leaving those two heirs to all he possessed, but
left nothing to the youngest. The will being made, the younger, whose
name was Gianetto, went to his father, who lay in his bed, and said,
"my dear father, I wonder much at what you have done, and at your not
remembering me in your will." His father answered, "my dear boy, there
is no one of you I love more than yourself, for this reason I do not
wish you to remain here; on the contrary, I intend you, when I am dead,
to go to Venice, to a godfather of yours, whose name is Messer Ansaldo,
who has not any children, and has often written to me to desire me to
send you to him; and I can tell you, he is one of the richest merchants
among the Christians there. I therefore desire, as soon as I am laid
low, that you will go to him, and present him with this letter, and be
sure, if you conduct yourself with propriety, you will become a rich
man." The son answered, "father, I am ready to obey you," upon which
his father gave him his blessing, and after a few days died. His sons
lamented much his death, and paid due honors to his memory. After a
few days, the two eldest brothers called Gianetto, and thus addressed
him:--"brother, it is true our father made his will, left us his heirs,
and made no mention whatever of thee, yet thou art, nevertheless, our
brother, and what belongs to us is equally thine."

"Brothers," answered Gianetto, "I thank you for your offer; but for my
part I have made up my mind to try my fortune elsewhere, and have so
fixed; therefore do you keep the property, and heaven prosper you with
it." The brothers seeing him bent on his purpose, gave him a horse and
cash to bear all his expenses. Gianetto took leave of them, and went
to Venice, found Messer Ansaldo's counting-house, and delivered him the
letter his father had given him. On reading the letter, Ansaldo found
that the bearer was the son of his worthy and beloved Biondo, and
embraced him most affectionately, saying, "welcome, my god-child, whom
I have so long wished to see," then he asked him about his father; upon
which Gianetto answered, he was dead. Ansaldo shed tears; embraced him
again, and said, "much am I grieved at the death of Biondo, for greatly
did he contribute to the gains I have made in trade; but such is the joy
I feel in having thee, my boy, with me, that it greatly alleviates my
sorrow," He ordered him to be taken to his house, and commanded all
his household to obey, and wait on Gianetto, as they would even upon
himself. He gave him the key of the bureau, and said, "my son! do thou
dispose of the money as thou shalt think meet; clothe thyself as thou
thinkest most becoming; keep open house for all such gentlemen as thou
shalt think proper, and make thyself known. I leave such things entirely
to thy care, and the more thou wilt make thyself known and beloved, the
more happy shall I feel." Gianetto, therefore, began to be acquainted
with the noble youths in Venice, and to give sumptuous dinners; assisted
and clothed several families; bought fine horses; entered the ring, and
revelled as one used and well practised in the style of a gentleman. He
was never remiss in paying due honour where it was required, and more
particularly to Messer Ansaldo, whom he treated as his real father; and
so well did he conduct himself towards persons of every rank, that
he became endeared even to the lower classes in Venice. Seeing how
gracious, courtly, and affable he was, both ladies and gentlemen were
delighted with him, his manners were so pleasing. Messer Ansaldo thought
but of him; nor were there any parties, sports, or festivals in Venice,
but Gianetto was sure to be invited, so much was he beloved. Two friends
of his, at that time, wished to go to Alexandria with their cargoes in
two ships, as they were wont to do every year, and told Gianetto of
it saying, "you ought to take this voyage with us, and see the world;
particularly, you should see Damascus, and various countries beyond."

"Indeed, I should delight in it," replied Gianetto, "if my godfather
Ansaldo would permit me."

"We will contrive," said one of them, "that he shall," and they both went
to him, saying, "Messer Ansaldo, we are about to entreat you to allow
Gianetto to go with us next spring on our voyage to Alexandria, to
freight him a ship, and suffer him to see a little of the world."

"Well," said Ansaldo, "I am willing, if he wishes it."

"Sir," said they, "he is most anxious to do so." Messer Ansaldo, in
pursuance of this scheme, ordered a beautiful vessel to be got ready,
loaded with the finest goods, and decorated in the best possible style.
When all was provided, Ansaldo desired the captain and the crew to obey
Gianetto in every thing; "he should command, because I do not send him
for the purpose of gain, but solely that he may see the world, and enjoy
himself." When Gianetto was ready to embark, all Venice came in throngs
to the shore, for it was many years since a ship was seen so well and
so finely fitted out for sea. His departure grieved all that knew him;
however, he took leave of Messer Ansaldo and his friends, and cheerfully
sailed towards Alexandria.

These three friends were each in his ship, and sailing along one morning
before day-light, when Gianetto espied a gulf, with a beautiful harbour,
and asked the captain the name of it, to which he made answer, and said,
"that place belongs to a noble widow who has been the cause of the ruin
of many gentlemen."

"How?" said Gianetto; "Sir," said the captain, "this is a most
beautiful, and enchanting lady, who has established as a law in her
domains, that whoever lands there must lay with her, and if he can pass
the night without sleep, he is at liberty to marry her, and then becomes
master of the harbour, and all the estate; whereas, if he do not, he
loses his cargo and every thing he has brought with him." Gianetto
paused awhile, then said, "you must manage how you can, but sail into
that harbour."

"Sir," said the captain, "think well on what you are saying, for many a
gentleman has gone there who has been driven away pennyless."

"Do not concern yourself about that, but do as I desire you," said
Gianetto. Of course the thing was done, and on they sailed, without
their companions noticing the course they had taken.

On the morning the news was spread that this fine ship had reached
the harbour, so that all the people came to see it: the lady was soon
informed of it, and sent for Gianetto, who immediately presented himself
respectfully to her. The lady took him by the hand, asked him who
he was, whence he came, and whether he knew the usage of the place?
Gianetto answered he did, and only came there in consequence of this
knowledge. A thousand times welcome, said the virtuous lady, and
honoured and entertained him nobly, sending for the barons, counts,
and knights, to welcome and amuse him. Gianetto's manners delighted all
around him, and the day was spent in dancing, singing, and festivity,
by the court, in honour of Gianetto, and one and all would have been
pleased to have him for their lord. Evening coming on, the lady took him
by the hand, and led him into an apartment, saying, "methinks it seems
time to withdraw."

"Madam," said Gianetto, "I am at your commands." Two young damsels came,
the one bringing wine in her hand, and the other some sweetmeats. "I
know," said the lady, "you must be thirsty, therefore drink." Gianetto
took some of the sweetmeats, and drank some of the wine, which had been
prepared as a sleeping draught, but he knew it not. He drank half a
goblet, for it seemed very pleasant to him; and then he soon undressed
himself and went to bed; no sooner had he laid down, than he fell
asleep; the lady laid herself down by the side of the youth, who never
woke till the next morning about three o'clock.

The lady got up as soon as it was daylight, and ordered the ship to be
unladen, which she found contained a store of rich and good wares. It
being now past three, the lady's maid went into Gianetto's room, and
made him rise, and told him he might depart, for that he had lost the
ship, and all it contained; upon this he felt quite ashamed, and he
thought he had certainly acted wrong. The lady ordered a horse and money
to be given to him, and dismissed him, and he departed overwhelmed with
sorrow. He arrived at Venice, but being ashamed, he would not go
home, but in the evening went to a friend, who wondering, said, "alas,
Gianetto, what means this?"--"My ship," said he, "dashed in the night
against a rock, and went to pieces; all was lost; some saved themselves
as well as they could; I caught fast hold of a plank that brought me
on shore, and have come home by land, and here I am." Gianetto remained
several days with his friend, who sometime after paid a visit to Messer
Ansaldo, whom he found quite disconsolate. Ansaldo said, "I am in great
apprehension that this son of mine is dead, or ill from the voyage;
the love I bear him is such, that I have no peace or comfort from this
fear." The young man answered, "I can bring you news of him. He has been
shipwrecked, and lost every thing except his life."

"Well," said Messer Ansaldo, "heaven be praised, provided he live, I
care not for any thing that is lost; where is he?"--"He is at my house,"
replied the young man; and Ansaldo immediately would go to him; and as
soon as he saw him, he ran to embrace him, saying, "my son, don't
be ashamed before me, for it is often the case that ships founder,
therefore do not fret, for since thou hast not suffered any personal
injury, I am at ease," so saying, he took him home, consoling him as much
as he could on the way.

The news of Gianetto's misfortune soon got wind, and grieved all that
knew him. It happened that a little while after this, his companions
returned from Alexandria, both very rich, and on their arrival
enquired for their friend Gianetto. They were no sooner told the whole
circumstance, than they ran to him, and embracing him, said, "how
earnest thou to leave us, and where didst thou go? for we never could
hear any thing of thee. We sailed back, to and fro, but never could see,
or hear where thou wast gone. Indeed we have been most melancholy on our
return, for we thought thou wast dead." Gianetto answered, "a heavy gale
arose that drove my ship into a creek, right on a rock near land, and I
scarcely could save myself--all was lost!" This was the excuse Gianetto
gave in order to conceal his silly conduct. They both were thankful that
he had escaped, and said, "next spring, with heaven's blessing, we will
gain as much more as thou hast lost, therefore let us be merry as usual,
and give sorrow to the wind." Yet Gianetto could not help thinking how
he could return to the lady, saying, "I must have her for my wife, or
die for it." With such thoughts he could not give way to mirth. Ansaldo,
therefore, often said to him, "do not fret, we have still wherewithal to
live at ease."

"Sir," said Gianetto, "I never can be happy if I do not make another
voyage." Ansaldo hearing this, and that such was his anxious wish,
when the time came, he provided him with a ship laden with still more
property than before, insomuch that he put on board almost the whole of
his possessions.

His companions, when their ships were stored, set sail in company with
Gianetto: as they were sailing, Gianetto looked out with anxiety for the
harbour of his lady, which was called the port of the Lady Belmonte, and
arriving one evening at the mouth of the creek, Gianetto soon recognized
it, and ordered the ship to be steered into the harbour, so that his
friends did not perceive it.

The lady, on rising in the morning, looking to the harbour, saw the
ship, and the colours playing in the wind, which recognising, she called
her woman, and said, "dost thou know those colours?"--"Madam," said the
waiting woman, "it seems the same ship that brought that young man about
a year ago, who had such riches on board."

"True," said the lady, "I believe thou art right, and certainly this
youth must be downright in love with me, for I have never seen any one
return here again."

"I," said the maid, "never saw a more graceful or courteous fellow than
he is." The lady sent several equerries and damsels to him, who paid him
homage, and led him joyfully to the castle, and into the presence of
the lady. When she saw him, she embraced him affectionately, and he most
respectfully saluted her. All the nobles were invited to partake of the
day's pleasure in honour of Gianetto. They all admired how well he led
a dance, and the ladies were quite charmed at the elegance of his person
and manners, and thought he must be the son of some great lord.

But the same thing happened again. He lost his ship and all his
property, and arrived at Venice without a ducat.

In the evening he went to his friend, who was thunderstruck at sight of
him. "Alas! what does this mean?" said he. "My cursed ill-luck," said
Gianetto, "that I should ever have come into this country."

"Well mayst thou curse thy ill stars," said his friend, "for thou
hast ruined poor Messer Ansaldo, who was one of the richest Christian
merchants, and worst of all is the discredit."

Gianetto remained concealed several days at his friend's house, without
knowing what to say or what to do, and was inclined to return to
Florence, without letting Messer Ansaldo know it; but after a little
reflection he bethought him he would go to him, and did so.

When Messer Ansaldo saw him, he arose, and ran to embrace him, and said,
"welcome, my son." Gianetto, weeping, embraced him; but when Ansaldo had
heard the account, he said, "do not repine; as I have got thee again, I
am not downhearted; there remains still enough for us to hold up, and
be comfortable; the ocean will sometimes take from the one and give to
another." The news, however, soon spread itself in Venice, every one
spoke of it, and grieved at the losses he had had, but Messer Ansaldo
was compelled to sell many possessions he had, to pay the creditors who
had furnished him with the goods. It happened that those companions of
Gianetto returned from Alexandria very rich, and on their arrival at
Venice, were informed of Gianetto's situation, and how he had lost every
thing, which they very much wondered at, saying, "this is the strangest
thing that ever was heard of." However, they went to Messer Ansaldo and
Gianetto, and comforting him, said, "Signor, do not be disheartened, we
intend to go next year, and trade for you, for we are partly the cause
of these your losses, since it was we who induced Gianetto to go with us
in the first instance; therefore be under no apprehension, and whilst we
have property, command it as your own." Messer Ansaldo thanked them, and
said that he had still wherewith to live well. Gianetto, meanwhile,
dwelling night and day on the dismal prospect and losses he had
sustained, could not possibly conceal his chagrin, the which Ansaldo
perceiving, he asked him what was the matter with him?--"I shall never
be happy, if I do not recover that which I have lost."

"My son," replied Ansaldo, "I will not have thee go again, because it is
better that we rest quietly with what little remains to us, than to run
any more risks."

"I am fully resolved," said Gianetto, "to do my utmost, and should be
quite ashamed, and think myself dishonourable if I did not, and remained
in this situation."

Ansaldo, perceiving it was his fixed determination, prepared to sell out
whatever he had remaining, and freight the youth another fine ship. As
he was short of ten thousand ducats, he went to a Jew and borrowed the
sum on the following conditions (having no other security to give): that
if he did not return the money within that midsummer-day twelvemonth,
the Jew might cut off one pound of flesh from any part of his body;
which the Jew accepting, Ansaldo was relieved: the Jew took care to
have this agreement drawn up, and authenticated in all due form before
witnesses, with all the precaution that men of business usually take
in such masters; then counted over the ten thousand ducats in gold
to Messer Ansaldo, who supplied the ship with every thing that was
requisite, and though the two last were beautiful, yet this was much
richer than either. The two friends loaded theirs with full intention
that the produce should be for Gianetto.

When the moment for their departure came, Messer Ansaldo said to
Gianetto, "my son, thou art going, and thou knowest under what penalty
I labour; I do pray thee, that though any misfortune should again happen
to thee, that thou comest to me, and let me behold thee ere I die; then
shall I rest content."

"Messer Ansaldo," said the youth, "I shall do every thing that will
make you happy." Ansaldo gave him his blessing, they took leave of each
other, and he embarked.

The two friends narrowly watched Gianetto's ship, and he was carefully
looking out for the port of Belmonte, and at last succeeded in
persuading the captain to strike into the said harbour during the night.
When the dawn appeared, the two friends looked about for Gianetto's
ship, and, not seeing it, said, "really this poor fellow is truly
unfortunate." Not knowing how to find him out, they agreed it were safer
to follow their voyage, seeing there were no hopes of meeting with him.
The ship being arrived in the port, all came forth to see it, on hearing
that Gianetto had returned, and wondering very much at it, said, "this
must be the son of some great lord, if we reflect that he comes every
year with such rich cargoes, and such fine ships--would to heaven he
were our lord." Thus was he courted by all the barons and knights of
that land; the lady was soon informed that Gianetto had returned; she
advanced to the window, and beheld the beautiful ship, and recognised
the colours; crossing herself, she said, "surely this is the great man
who has so enriched this country," and she sent for him, and he went to
her; they embraced and saluted each other, and the whole day was spent
in joy; and to honour Gianetto, a grand tilt was ordered; and Gianetto
would also be one among them, and did wonders by the elegance and
activity of his person. So far did he excel, that all the barons
were most anxious that he should prove their lord. The usual time
approaching, the lady said, "I think it is fit we go to rest," and took
his hand to lead him into the room, when one of the lady's women, who
was much grieved at Gianetto's mischances, whispered at the threshold
of the door, as he was following the lady, and said, "pretend as if you
were drinking, but do not drink to-night." Gianetto heard the whisper,
and went in with the lady. "I know," said she, "you are thirsty,
therefore, I will have you drink before you go to rest." Two beautiful
creatures immediately entered, bringing wine and sweetmeats, and
presented, as usual, the wine and cakes, and he said, "how could any one
abstain from drinking this wine, handed as it is by two such beautiful
maidens," which saying made the lady laugh; and Gianetto took the goblet,
and, pretending to drink, he let the wine drop down into his bosom.
The lady, thinking he had drank it off, said within herself, thou must
return with another cargo, for this is lost to thee; but Gianetto went
to bed, and felt himself quite wakeful, and it seemed an age before
the lady came to bed; and he kept saying to himself, by the mass I have
caught you now, fair lady, you have reckoned this time without your
host: and as the lady delayed some time coming to bed, he began to snore
as if asleep; therefore, the lady said to herself, this is all as it
should be, and immediately undressed, and laid herself down by Gianetto,
who, the moment she was under cover, shewed he was awake, and thus he
remained the whole night. The lady rose before morning, and sent for all
the barons, knights, and citizens, to the council chamber, and said to
them, "Gianetto is your lord, therefore, rejoice and make merry." This
being spread abroad, nothing was heard but the general cry of, "long
live our lord," and the ringing of bells, and sounds of various
instruments. Several barons who were absent from the castle were sent
for to pay homage to their lord, and a great rejoicing took place; and
Gianetto, when he came from his room, was knighted, placed in the seat
of honour with the baton in his hand, and hailed as sovereign lord; and
when all the nobility were arrived at court, he was married to the lady
amidst such festivity as can scarcely be credited, for all the barons,
knights, and gentry, were invited to the tilts, the sham-fights, dances,
music, singing, and every thing that is usual on such extraordinary
occasions. Gianetto, being a noble-spirited youth, began to bestow
presents of rich silks, and other things which he had brought, and took
upon himself a manly conduct; made himself obeyed, and enforced the
laws towards all his subjects, and was enjoying all the pleasures and
comforts, without once thinking of poor Ansaldo, who had pledged himself
for ten thousand ducats to the Jew. However, being one day looking out
of the window with his lady, he saw a number of persons carrying small
torches who were going with offerings in great pomp. Gianetto said to
his bride, "pray, lady, what means this?" the lady replied, "that is a
procession of mechanics who are going to carry their offerings to
the church of St. John, this day being his festival:" this called to
Gianetto's mind the case of Ansaldo. He withdrew from the window, and
heaved a deep sigh, and grew quite pale, walking to and fro in the room,
thinking of the circumstance. On the lady's asking him what was the
matter with him, Gianetto answered, "nothing." The lady then began to
consider him attentively:--"Certainly," said she, "something ails you,
and you will not own it;" and she coaxed him so much, that at last
Gianetto related to her how Messer Ansaldo had pledged himself to the
amount of ten thousand ducats; and this very day, said he, is the day
fixed, and I am distracted at the thought my poor father should die on
my account, for if to-day the sum is not paid, he loses one pound of
flesh cut off from his body. The lady replied, "take horse directly,
and go by land, which will be the quickest, and take with you such
attendants as you like, with a hundred thousand ducats, and rest not
till you arrive at Venice, and, if he be not dead, do you endeavour
to bring him here." The horn was quickly blown; he mounted his steed,
accompanied by twenty attendants, and, having taken money enough,
journeyed with speed to Venice. The Jew had caused Messer Ansaldo to
be arrested, and wanted to have the pound of flesh; upon which Ansaldo
entreated him to delay his death for a few days, that, in case Gianetto
should come, he might see him. The Jew said, "I am willing to grant what
you ask as to the delay, but were he to come a hundred times over, I
will have the pound of flesh from your body, as agreed on in the note."
Ansaldo answered that he was satisfied. The news of this having spread
itself through Venice, several merchants agreed to pay the money, but
the Jew would not consent, being determined on his death, that he might
say he had been the death of the first and greatest Christian merchant.
However, it happened that when Gianetto started in great haste to come
to Venice, his lady followed close after him, dressed as a judge,
with two servants with her. Gianetto, when he arrived at Venice, went
directly to the Jew, and embraced Messer Ansaldo; then said to the Jew,
that he wished to give him the money, and so much beside as he might
require; the Jew replied that he would not receive the money, since it
was not paid at the proper time; that he would have the pound of flesh:
and here was the great question; every one was against the Jew, but
still, as Venice was considered the seat of justice, and the Jew had it
plainly on his side, and in proper form, none dared to oppose him, but
by entreaties; so that all the merchants went to the Jew to beg and pray
him to desist, but as he was the more obstinate, Gianetto offered him
twenty thousand, yet he would not consent; thirty thousand were then
offered--forty thousand--fifty thousand--till at last he was offered one
hundred thousand. "Look ye, sirs," said the Jew, "if you were to offer
me as many more ducats as are to be found in Venice, I would not take
them; on the contrary, I will abide by what the agreement states." While
they were thus arguing the point, the lady arrived at Venice, dressed in
the habit of a judge, and alighted at an inn; the landlord asked one
of the attendants who the gentleman was. The servant, who had been
previously instructed in what he had to say, replied, "this is a
gentleman, a judge returning from Bologna, where he has studied, the
law, and is now going home." The landlord hearing this, paid him every
attention; and, when at table, he said to the landlord, "what is the
government of your city, landlord?" The landlord answered, "there is too
much law, sir."

"How?" said the judge. "I will tell you," replied the landlord; "there
was a youth that came here from Florence, whose name was Gianetto; he
went to his godfather, whose name is Ansaldo; this youth was so genteel
and well bred, that he became the darling of all that knew him, but
never did a more unfortunate man walk this city; three times did his
godfather freight ships to a great amount, and every time he lost his
all; so that at the last, wanting money, Ansaldo borrowed ten thousand
ducats of a Jew, under a promise that if he did not return them on St.
John's day, in June to come, the said Jew should have a right to take
from his body one pound of flesh, wherever he might choose; now, this
blessed youth is returned, and has offered one hundred thousand ducats,
instead of the ten thousand, and the scoundrel of a Jew will not
take them; all the best men in Venice have gone to entreat, but to no
purpose." The judge said, "but this question is easy to determine."
The host said, "if you will take the task on yourself, and end this
business, so as to save the good man's life, you will acquire the
friendship and love of the most noble and virtuous youth that ever was
bom, beside the blessing of all the people in this city." The feigned
judge ordered it to be posted up through Venice, that if any critical
and extraordinary law-case should occur, that they might come to him
and he would make out a clear case. The news of this being carried
to Gianetto, that there had arrived a judge from Bologna, who would
determine any law question, Gianetto called on the Jew, and said to him,
"let us go to this said judge." "Well," said the Jew, "let us go;
but whatever he or any one may say or do, I will abide by the written
agreement." When they came to the judge, Gianetto did not recognise
him, but she knew him well. Gianetto and the Jew both related their
own story; the judge, after reading the agreement, said to the Jew, "I
advise you to take the offered hundred thousand ducats, and let this
good man free, who will ever feel indebted to you:" to which the Jew
answered, "no, not I, I will do no such a thing." "That is the best
thing you can do." "No! no!" replied the Jew, "I'll do no such thing."
Upon this they all went to the court, where such matters were brought
to issue. The feigned judge taking upon himself the defence of Ansaldo,
said, "order Ansaldo to come into court," which being done, the judge
said, "do thou take now one pound of flesh from him, where thou wilt,
and go thy ways;" upon which the Jew ordered him to be stripped; took a
razor in his hand, which he had brought for the purpose, when Messer
Gianetto turned to the judge and said, "this, sir, was not what I
entreated you would do for me." "Make yourself easy," said the judge,
"he has not yet cutoff the pound of flesh." In the meanwhile the Jew was
eying Ansaldo all over to see where he should cut. "Mind what you are
about," said the judge, "for, should you take more or less than one
pound, I'll have you hanged. I tell thee, Jew, if thou spillest one
single drop of blood thou shalt die, for thy agreement does not mention
thou art to shed one drop of blood; moreover, it states thou art to take
one pound of flesh, neither more nor less; therefore, if thou art wise,
beware what thou dost," and he immediately sent for the executioner,
ordered the handcuffs and fetters to be brought to him, saying, "if I
see one single drop of blood fall, thy head shall be severed from thy
body." The Jew then began to quake, and Gianetto to leap with joy; but,
after some contention, the Jew said, "your worship has outwitted
me, therefore let me have the hundred thousand ducats, and I will be
satisfied."

"No," said the judge,

"I will have thee take the pound of flesh, as the paper states, for I
will not give thee a stiver; thou shouldst have taken them when they
were offered to thee."

[Illustration: 197]

The Jew then said, "ninety thousand;" then, "eighty thousand;" but still
the judge was inflexible. "Let us give him what he asks," said Gianetto,
"provided he let him free."

"Let me alone," said the judge. The Jew then said, "give me fifty
thousand."

"I would not give thee a brass farthing," said the judge. "Well then,"
said the Jew, "give me my ten thousand ducats, and a curse be with you
all."

"Hast thou not heard me," said the judge, "I will not give thee a doit;
take thou the pound of flesh if thou wilt, if thou wilt not, I'll make
thee cancel the writing." All present were overjoyed, and laughed at the
Jew, in seeing the biter so completely bit.

The Jew, finding he could not compass his malicious intent, took the
papers, and, being desperately enraged, tore them to bits, and threw
them on the ground. Thus was Messer Ansaldo liberated and conducted home
by Gianetto; who immediately taking the one hundred thousand ducats,
went to the judge, and found him in his room ready to go home again;
upon which Messer Gianetto said to him, "sir, you have rendered me
the greatest service, and done me the greatest kindness; therefore, I
request you to take this money along with you, for you have well earned
it."

"I thank you kindly, Messer Gianetto," said the judge, "but I am not the
least in want of it; take it back with you, that your wife may not say
you have made a hard bargain."

"Upon my faith," said Gianetto, "if I were to spend four times as much,
she is so noble-minded, kind, and generous, she would not in the least
be displeased, for she wished me to offer more, if needful."

"How do you feel towards her?" said the judge. "There is not a woman on
earth I could love so much, she is so chaste, and as beautiful as nature
could possibly make her, and if you will oblige us so far, you will come
and see her. You will be charmed with her, and the great politeness she
will shew you, and you will then judge whether what I say is true or
not."

"As to coming with you I cannot, for I have other things to attend to,
but since you say she is so benevolent, when you see her present my best
respects to her."

"I will," said Gianetto, "but I wish you to take some of this money;"
and while he was speaking the judge perceived a ring on his finger, and
said, "I wish to have that ring, nor will I have any thing else from
you." Gianetto answered, "I am agreeable to it, yet I give it you
somewhat unwillingly, because it is the gift of my wife, and she desired
I would always wear it for her sake, and should she notice I have it
not, she will think I gave it to some woman I am in love with, and I
love her more than myself."

"I think," replied the judge, "that if she loves you so truly, she will
readily believe you, when you tell her you gave it to me; but, perhaps,
you yourself wish to give it away to some favourite lady in Venice."

"The love I bear her," said Gianetto, "is such, that there is not the
woman created that I would prefer to her, so good, so beautiful is she,"
and so saying, he took the ring from his finger and presented it to
the judge, embracing him. "I entreat you," said the latter, "to do me a
favor."

"Mention it, I pray you," said Gianetto. "Do not stay here, but return
soon to your lady."

"Indeed," said Gianetto, "it seems to me an age since I have seen her;"
and thereupon they parted. The judge stept into the gondola, and went
in peace. Gianetto treated all his acquaintance, made them presents, and
kept open house; then took leave of all his Venetian connexions, taking
with him Messer Ansaldo, and many of his former friends, and set off for
Belmonte. Most of those of both sexes he left behind, grieved much at
his departure, so nobly had he behaved while with them. Now it happened
that the lady had arrived several days previous, and had ordered great
preparations to be made. The houses were all hung with tapestry; several
companies of armed troops were posted here and there, and when Messer
Gianetto and Ansaldo arrived, all the knights and barons, with the rest
of the court, went to meet him, crying out, "long live our worthy lord!"
and when he reached Belmonte, the lady embraced Ansaldo, and shammed a
little coolness towards Gianetto, whom still she loved so dearly. Great
rejoicings took place; tilting, sham fights, dancing, music, and singing
among the ladies and damsels that were present. Gianetto seeing his lady
did not look so kindly towards him as she was wont to do, went into
his own room and sent for her. "What is the matter with you?" said he.
"There is no occasion for this outward show of tenderness," said the
lady, "for I know you have found out your old favourite lady." Gianetto
began to exculpate himself. The lady said, "where is the ring I gave
you?"

"Well," said Gianetto, "what I anticipated is come to pass; I said, I
was sure you would be displeased, but I solemnly swear to you, by
all that is sacred, that I gave the ring to the judge that extricated
Ansaldo from his difficulties."

"And I swear," said she, "by all that I hold most dear, that thou hast
given it to a woman. I know it well, and thou oughtest to be ashamed to
perjure thyself thus."

"May I die this moment," said Gianetto, "if I do not tell thee true;
and, besides, I told the judge how it would turn out."

"Thou might have stayed where thou wert, and have sent Ansaldo here by
himself, and enjoyed thyself, among thy damsels, for I hear they all
wept at thy departure." Messer Gianetto began to be greatly distressed,
and could not refrain from tears, saying, "thou swearest what is not
true, and what could not be." The lady, however, seeing he was in great
agitation, and quite miserable, it went to her heart, and she ran
to embrace him, laughing immoderately, and showing him the ring, and
repeated to him every thing he had said to the judge, and how she
herself had acted the part of the judge, and in what manner he had given
him the ring. Gianetto marvelled at this account, but seeing it was all
true, he began to feel relieved, and extremely pleased, and going out
of the room, related the story to some of his friends, and the adventure
increased their mutual affection, and thus they lived happily together,
surrounded by friends, and not forgetting to pay all kind attention to
Ansaldo.



THERE IS A SKELETON IN EVERY HOUSE.

There was at Naples a lady of the name of Corsina, bom at Capovana, and
wife of a noble cavalier, whose name was Messer Ramondo del Balzo. It
happened after some years that heaven was pleased to deprive this lady
of her husband, and she was left a widow, with an only son, whose
name was Carlo. This youth possessing all the excellent qualities and
endowments of his father, became the mother's idol and only care. She
bethought herself that it would be greatly to his advantage to send
him to Bologna, to pursue his studies, in order that he might hereafter
become a great man. Having made up his mind to this, she gave him a
tutor, provided him with books, and every thing that would make him
comfortable, and sent him away with a tender mother's blessing. There,
for several years, she maintained him with every comfort he could wish.
The youth, having every advantage, improved greatly, and became an
excellent scholar, and by his gentleman-like manners, correct
conduct, and great talents, had gained the affection of all his fellow
collegians. It happened, that having become, after some years, a doctor
in law, and being nearly on the eve of his return to Naples, he was
taken seriously ill, whereupon all the best physicians of Bologna
anxiously endeavoured to save his life, but had no hopes of success.
Carlo, perceiving he was a lost man, said to himself, I do not care so
much for myself, as for my poor, dear mother, who will no longer have
a son, for whom she has sacrificed her all, and whom she expected would
become her consolation, who might form some great alliance, and thereby
restore our family name. Now if she hears I am dead, and has not the
comfort of seeing me once again, she will assuredly die with excessive
grief. This reflection, more than the loss of his own life, overwhelmed
him with sorrow, and the thought continuing uppermost in his mind,
suggested the idea to him of contriving some means to prevent his mother
from being overpowered by her grief; he therefore immediately wrote to
her in the following words:--"My dearest mother, I do entreat that you
would be kind enough to get me a shirt made by the most beautiful and
the most happy lady you can find in Naples, she who is most free from
the cares or sorrows of this world." The letter being dispatched,
and coming to hand, the mother immediately considered of the means of
satisfying this request, and how she could find one; she enquired among
all her acquaintances where she could meet such an unconcerned, and
indifferent, and easy-minded woman; but the task was arduous, yet she
was determined to do her son's will. The lady, however, searched to
such effect, that she at last found one, who appeared so cheerful, so
beautiful, and so happy, and so unconcerned, that she seemed incapable
of feeling a single unpleasant thought. Madame Corsina, fancying she
had found the very person she was in search of, went to the lady, who
received her very politely. Madame Corsina said to her, "can you guess
what I am come for? it is because looking upon you as the most cheerful
lady in Naples, and the freest from painful thoughts or troubles; I wish
to ask you a very great favour, that is, that you would make a shirt for
me with your own hands, that I may send it to my son, who has earnestly
entreated me to get it made by such a one as yourself." The young lady
answered, "you say you consider me the most cheerful young woman in
Naples."

"Yes," said Madame Corsina. "Now," added the lady, "I will prove to
you it is quite the reverse, and that there never was born, perhaps, a
more unfortunate woman than myself, or who has more sorrows and heavy
afflictions, and that you may be convinced of this," said she, "come
with me;" and, taking her hand, she led her into an inner chamber,
where, drawing aside a curtain, she pointed to a skeleton which was
hanging from a beam: upon which Madame Corsina exclaimed, "Oh, heavens!
what means this?" The young lady mournfully sighed, then said, "This
was a most worthy youth, who was in love with me; my husband finding
him here, caused him directly to be hung as you see; and, to increase my
agonies, he compels me to come and see the unfortunate youth every night
and morning; think what must be my anguish at being obliged to see him
thus daily; yet, if you wish it, I will do that you desire; but, as to
being the most cheerful, unconcerned, and happy person, I am, on the
contrary, the most wretched woman that ever was on earth." The dame
remained in perfect astonishment, and said, "well, I see clearly
that no one is free from troubles and calamities, and that those that
consider me the most cheerful young woman in Naples."

"Yes," said Madame Corsina. "Now," added the lady, "I will prove to you
it is quite the reverse, and that there never was bom, perhaps, a
more unfortunate woman than myself, or who has more sorrows and heavy
afflictions, and that you may be convinced of this," said she, "come
with me;" and, taking her hand, she led her into an inner chamber,
where, drawing aside a curtain, she pointed to a skeleton which was
hanging from abeam: upon which Madame Corsina exclaimed, "Oh, heavens!
what means this?"

[Illustration: 201]

The young lady mournfully sighed, then said, "This was a most worthy
youth, who was in love with me; my husband finding him here, caused him
directly to be hung as you see; and, to increase my agonies, he compels
me to come and see the unfortunate youth every night and morning; think
what must be my anguish at being obliged to see him thus daily; yet,
if you wish it, I will do that you desire; but, as to being the most
cheerful, unconcerned, and happy person, I am, on the contrary, the most
wretched woman that ever was on earth." The dame remained in perfect
astonishment, and said, "well, I see clearly that no one is free from
troubles and calamities, and that those that appear the most happy to
us, are often the most wretched." She therefore took leave of the lady,
returned home, and wrote to her son, that he must excuse her if she
could not send the shirt, for she could not find a single individual who
was free from troubles and sorrows. After a few days a letter arrived,
stating that her son was dead; she, therefore, wisely thought to
herself, that as she clearly saw no one was ever free from misfortunes
and tribulations, even the very best of women; she would therefore take
comfort, more especially, as she perceived she was not the only one, and
thereby quieted her mind, and lived more happily by her submission to
the decree of heaven.



THE ELOPEMENT.

The Cavalier Nimagri à Revescio, a descendant of a noble Venetian
family, whose name it is immaterial to mention, more particularly as
the fact happened only some fifty years ago, being on his way to Rome,
passed through Caserta, and wanting a servant, his valet having been
taken dangerously ill on the road, enquired of the host, where he
alighted, whether he could recommend him such a one? The host said he
would enquire, and towards the evening brought a man up, who he said
wanted a place. The host having retired, the Cavalier Nimagri asked the
man what he could do? To which Gasparo, the servant, answered, "nothing,
sir."

"Nothing," said the cavalier, "can you dress hair, shave, &c.?"

"No, sir, but have good will, and will learn any thing."

"But what has been your employment?"

"A very bad one," said Gasparo, "but I am heartily sick of it, and am
determined to get my bread honestly and live in the fear of God."

"But what are you; where do you come from?"

"Oh, sir," he continued, "I am a Sicilian, Gasparo is my name; take
pity on a poor repentant sinner! hitherto I have been only a thief and
a murderer, who for a ducat or two would have murdered any man." Don
Nimagri was astonished at the singularity of the case, and not a little
staggered at the horrible countenance before him, wherein his former
trade was strikingly depicted; but being a young man of uncommon
courage, and altogether struck with the candour and simplicity of the
fellow's tale, as well as the unaffected repentance he showed, he hired
him, and he has often been heard to say, in his life he never met with a
more trusty or faithful servant.

The next day the cavalier pursued his intended journey to Rome; on the
second evening, having stopped at one of the best inns at Mecerra, while
Don Nimagri was at supper, the host came in, and having apologized
for the intrusion, said, "Signor Cavalier, there is a very noble youth
below, just arrived, who, upon hearing I had but one gentleman traveller
in the house, has begged I would ask your excellency, whether you would
allow him the pleasure of your society: I assure you, sir," said the
host, "he is a very handsome young man, and, I dare say, the son of
some nobleman of the first rank, who has been playing some thoughtless
pranks; run away from college, or some such trick." Don Nimagri, who
was naturally of a kind disposition, desired the host to give his
compliments to the gentleman, and say, he should be very happy in his
company. In a few minutes the host introduced the guest, a very elegant
youth, seemingly about eighteen, whose genteel and prepossessing
appearance bespoke him of high birth; he was in stature rather short,
delicate, but well proportioned, of a fair complexion, with beautiful
and animated eyes'; after the usual compliments on such occasions, an
addition was ordered to the supper. Don Nimagri's curiosity was a
good deal excited by the manners and conversation of his guest; it was
sensible, but reserved. Don Nimagri was too well bred to pry into his
guest's affairs, but there was a visible uneasiness about the youth that
distressed him; he endeavoured to rouse him by every means in his power,
but the stranger answered but little; scarcely eat any thing; sighed
deeply; and, upon the whole, seemed to be greatly agitated. Don Nimagri,
however, imagining be might have some affair of honour on his hands,
generously offered the stranger every assistance in his power. Supper
being ended, the youth got up, paced awhile along the room, and, at
last, addressing the cavalier, said in a hurried tone, "noble signor, I
have a favour to ask you: will you allow me, if the host can accommodate
us with a double-bedded room, to sleep in the same apartment?" Don
Nimagri hesitated not an instant, but rang for the host, and enquired
for a room with two beds; the host answered, that he was sorry to say he
had no such thing in the inn. Don Nimagri perceiving the host's answer
very much encreased the youth's inquietude, though he could not rightly
guess at the cause, said, "well, signor, we must do as well as we can,
the night is very hot; for my part I only mean to take off my coat
and boots, slip on my dressing gown, and lay on the bed, for I propose
starting very early, and to travel in the cool of the morning;" and, as
Gasparo came in to receive orders, he desired his horse to be ready by
five o'clock. These matters being settled, they retired to rest. Don
Nimagri would have been glad to have had a few hours sleep, but our
youth was so restless as he lay on the bed, that it seemed impossible.
Sleep, however, had at last over-powered the signor cavaliero; he had
scarcely slept two hours, when he was roused by a tremendous noise,
as if the whole inn was in arms; he listened, and the noise still
increasing, he jumped up; scarcely was he on his feet, when a loud rap
was heard at the room door, and two voices demanded admittance. The
youth, at the sound of the voices, ran to Don Nimagri, and hardly able
to articulate a word, caught hold of his arm and cried, "Oh, save me,
signor! I am an unfortunate young _woman!_" and fell at his feet. The
cavalier had not a moment to think, for they threatened to break open
the door; upon which Don Nimagri called to them, and said if they dared
to force the door, without a proper order from the magistrate, he would
blow their brains out, and that he was well prepared to encounter a
host of them; to which they replied they had. "If you have," said the
cavalier, "thrust it under the door, and if it is a true one, I will
open the door;" but that was not the case, they were not in possession
of any such a thing. After many useless threats, they said they would
fetch a police officer, and retired. Meanwhile Gasparo, on the first
hearing of the bustle, had equipped himself with two large pistols in
his belt, a poignard, a huge sword which he always wore, and came in to
his master: what was to be done with the lady was the first question;
the host was called, and a purse of ducats put into his hand, (the
best pleaders for protection); the state of the case being told him,
he proposed, while they were gone, to procure an order, which he had no
doubt they would obtain, as the magistrate of the place was by no means
invulnerable against the attack of a full purse; that the lady should
be hidden in the hay-loft under some trusses, properly arranged for the
purpose. This being done, the cavalier threw himself carelessly on the
bed, and waited in great anxiety to hear of the lady's safety,
till Gasparo ran in, and cried out, "_II Diavolo istesso non la
troverebbe_,"--the devil himself could not find her out, she is so well
concealed. It was but a short time after every thing was settled, that
the two gentlemen returned, accompanied by an officer, who was desired
to thrust the warrant under the door, if he really had one. Don Nimagri
finding that it was a magistrate's order, and knowing the lady was
safe, ordered Gasparo to open the door; the strangers judging by the
appearance of Don Nimagri, and Gasparo's terrible figure, that the
one was a person of some consequence, and well protected, began to
apologize, stating that they were in search of a sister who had run away
from home to avoid an union with a nobleman of her father's choice, and
whom they were determined to secure.

[Illustration: 217]

They searched every where, and as one of the brothers was looking under
the bed, Qasparo, who was perhaps seized with an itching after his
old habits, was winking and blinking at his master, with a piteous,
imploring face, to let him have a pop or two at them; and it was with
difficulty he was able, by threatening looks, and a grasp of his arm, to
prevent him from discharging both his pieces at them. Being disappointed
in their search, the three men withdrew. As soon as Don Nimagri thought
they were safe, Gasparo and himself went to release the affrighted lady,
who was more dead than alive; some refreshments being brought in, Donna
Colomba, having recovered a little, related her story to her protector,
informing him that her cruel father, for the sake of interest,
insisted she should marry an old dotard, who was old enough to be her
grandfather, and whose vices and character she abhorred. "But what do
you intend to do?" said our young champion. "Signor," added she, with
a bewitching grace, and tears glistening in her fine eyes, "I am under
your protection; the interest you have shown for my safety, repels every
idea of fear in me, and I have no hesitation in entrusting my life and
my honor in your hands, if you will but escort me with your servant as
far as Benevento; I have, at a short distance from thence, an aunt,
an abbess, under whose sacred care I shall be safe, and where I mean to
take the veil: do but this, and I will ever be grateful to you." Don
Nimagri was too much of a man and a cavalier to withstand the entreaties
of a distressed fair one; he immediately gave orders for a carriage
to be got ready, desired Gasparo to saddle their horses, look to the
pistols in both saddles, and be quick. Gasparo flew; the chaise being
ready, the host liberally paid, the better to seal his lips, Donna
Colomba and Don Nimagri leaped into the vehicle, and drove off full
gallop. Whether the brothers had had scent by some stable-boy or other,
that a lady had been at the inn is not certain; but they had laid
watch, the which was easy enough, as there was but one road; but being
afraid, they placed themselves in ambush and suffered them to pass, and
followed behind at a small distance, expecting to overtake them at the
rising of the hill, which was about three miles off, when the horses
would be tired. By the time they got within a quarter of a mile from the
hill, Gasparo who was following, leading his master's steed, hearing
a trampling of horses, looked back, saw them, and instantly gave the
alarm, crying as loud as he could, "here they are, here they are, we
shall have fine sport." Don Nimagri looked out of the window, stopped
the carriage, got out, mounted his horse, ordered the postillion to
drive as fast as he could out of reach, the which he had no occasion to
repeat, for he was gone before Don Nimagri could well turn his horse to
face the enemy. The sbirro darting forward, pistol in hand, ordered them
to stand. Gasparo, who was more expert at this work than his master,
fired his pistol, but missing his aim, only shot the horse; down fell
the sbirro. Gasparo dismounted in an instant; put his horse's bridle
into his master's hand, ran up to the sbirro, and with his stiletto most
charitably put him out of misery, for the poor devil had broken his
arm in the fall. Don Nimagri meanwhile fired at the brothers who had
advanced upon him. Gasparo seeing the danger of his master in this
unequal match, fired his other pistol so successfully, that whether
one alone, or both were wounded, was never heard, for both set spurs to
their horses, like the valiant knight who ran away, to live and fight
another day.

Don Nimagri finding that the enemy were fled, did not think it necessary
to follow them, but turned his attention to the lady. They rode up
to the carriage as fast as they could, and found the lady in the
greatest terror; she eagerly enquired whether her brothers were safe,
for cruel as they were, she could not but feel as a sister. Don Nimagri
assured her they had both run away safe and sound. There being no time
to be lost, lest they might have run off under the idea of getting
assistance, he ordered the postillion to proceed to the next post, where
they rested some time, the lady being overcome by the fright, fatigue,
and distress of mind. As soon as she was recovered they set off, and
arrived safe at Benevento, but although it was in the middle of the
night, no entreaty or remonstrance could prevail on the lady to remain
there till morning; she was so alarmed at the idea of being surprised,
and carried away by her brothers, whom she had reason to fear were
still pursuing, or perhaps some more powerful dread in the breast of a
virtuous female, now she was discovered, that with tears she entreated
Don Nimagri to proceed to the convent she had mentioned, to which he
reluctantly agreed, apprehending the consternation and fright such
an arrival, and at such an hour, would create. The sisterhood of the
convent, as he conjectured, when they arrived, had just retired again to
rest after their midnight prayer, and were scarcely fallen into a doze,
when they were terrified by the violent ringing of the great convent
bell. What could be the matter? was the general cry. The alarm spread
like wild-fire; some fell on their marrow-bones, praying to St. Jenajo;
some ran with half their garments into the chapel; some concealed
themselves in the vaults, while the poor ab-bess lay trembling in her
bed, counting her beads. At last the porteress came to the gate and
through the little grating enquired what was the matter. Don Nimagri
said Donna Colomba, the abbess's relation, was pursued, and begged
protection. While the good nun went up to deliver the message, the gates
were opened, and the chaise drove in. But poor Gasparo was shut out, and
thereby exposed to his fate, had there been any one at their heels; but
luckily for him, they had been too much terrified to venture a second
attack. Shortly after the fugitives were introduced into the chapel, for
the abbess seeing the girls running helter-skelter in every direction,
did not dare to introduce a man into any room, lest some of them might
have sought refuge there. Therefore, into the chapel they went; two or
three of those innocent creatures, who had run into it in their fright,
now scampered away as fast as they could, at sight of a man, and at that
time of the morning. When the abbess had heard Donna Colomba's account,
she thanked Don Nimagri for his very kind and humane attention,
expressed great regret at not being able to allow him to stay the night,
but offered to send to a neighbouring farm, and obtain accommodation
for him and his servant; entreated him to come in the morning that they
might have an opportunity of giving him some testimony of the gratitude
they felt for his kind protection to her relation. Don Nimagri, highly
pleased at his success in saving the lady, departed. Receiving a message
from the abbess in the morning, he attended her, and was presented to
the whole sisterhood as the saviour of Donna Colomba's life and honor,
and much gratified with the blessings and thanks of all these pretty
creatures, who vied with each other in little presents of relics,
sweet-meats,&c. The lady abbess presented him with a very handsome
crucifix set in diamonds. Donna Colomba could not find words to express
herself, but requested his acceptance of a beautiful diamond ring in
remembrance of her; and loaded him with blessings. Gasparo, I must
say, was not neglected by the inferior nuns. Although not a very
prepossessing parsonage, the account he gave of his glorious exploits
so delighted them, for ladies are fond of valour, that he did not lack
wine, cakes, and the good things usually met with in convents. After
a few hours Don Nimagri took leave of the ladies and sisterhood, and
arrived safe and sound at Rome.



THE FRIAR ENTRAPPED

At Arezzo, a city of Tuscany, there formerly lived a friar, who was
styled Master Stefano. He was, in fact, a Mantuan, but he had dwelt so
long at Arezzo, that most people considered him an Aretine. He was a
handsome fellow, about thirty, extremely bold, and eloquent, and, as
most of the preaching friars are, I mean the wickeder part of them,
inclined to trick his best friend out of his wife's affections. Although
in the pulpit they preach up chastity, reprobate the sin of disturbing
the happiness of married life, and dwell upon the merit of alms-giving,
all this is in order to be more securely admitted into families, and to
gain a character for sanctity, by which people may be induced to leave
their property to the church, and deprive their rightful heirs of their
due. Thus they enrich themselves, and laugh in their sleeves at the
fools who are deluded by their hypocrisy.

Instead of paying regard to the divine precept, which directs all those
of their profession not to provide food for the morrow, they are for
ever begging, and grasping at every thing within their reach; and if
perchance they should confess a dying person, who has detained that
which was not his own, they will make him believe it is more meritorious
and good for his soul, to give it to the church, than restore it to its
owner. This Master Stefano was one of these fine fellows. He fell in
love with a beautiful and virtuous lady, named Emilia, who was married
to as worthy a man, Girolamo de Brendali. The lady, who thought that
Stefano led so pure and holy a life, never suspected that he could
entertain such unworthy intentions, and received him every day with the
greatest marks of kindness, both on account of her husband's partiality
to him, and, moreover, because for two years past he had been her
confessor. The friar, however, being unable to moderate the ardour of
his passion, determined to make her acquainted with it, having that
opportunity at command every day. Still he thought it would be better
to wait awhile, because it was carnival time; after which she was in
the habit of going to church to confess, thinking it much more safe
on account of the sanctity of the place, in case any thing should be
suspected, rather than her own house.

About eight days after the carnival, the lady, as was her custom,
went to the church. The friar hastened to lead her to the remotest
confessional he could pitch upon. After a few words of civility had
passed, he began to interrogate her cursorily and lightly, touching
the mortal sins, except that of incontinence, upon which he long
dwelt, being highly delighted with an opportunity of expatiating on
the subject, after the manner of too many confessors, who, under the
pretence of interrogating, gratify their own prurient imaginations with
indecent explanations, and circumstantial detail. Thus did the friar
dwell on his favourite subject as long as he could, in order to forward
the discovery of his passion to the lady. At last, breathing a deep
sigh, he said, "Lady, heaven knows I have many a time hesitated to give
you absolution, because I have from your confession found you so chaste
and free from the sin of incontinence."

"How, father," said she, "is it then a sin to be faithful to one's
husband, and to be chaste?"

"The reason is," said the friar, "because so beautiful as you are, I
cannot believe but you must have numbers of admirers, and surely you
cannot have resisted them all. I have often thought, that through shame
you have not told the truth, perhaps for fear (though heaven forbid that
I should ever do such a thing) lest I should tell your husband, or lest
I should refuse you absolution, of which, however, you would be unworthy
only by disguising from me the truth. Therefore, speak to me with
sincerity, let no fear prevent you, for I promise you, that instead of
the reproof you might expect, you will find praise and approbation;
for I think it a much greater sin to let a poor unfortunate fellow of a
lover die, than to break through that which has been prescribed merely
to make us live a little more regularly, than if all things were in
common; or, perhaps, because we set less value upon those things which
we can obtain with ease." The lady was greatly astonished at hearing
these words, and being a virtuous and sensible woman, she began to
suspect what the hypocritical friar was driving at; but resuming
her serenity of countenance, which had been a little ruffled by his
discourse, she resolved to answer him, without giving him the least
suspicion that she understood his meaning, in order not to check him
from saying what he had in his mind. So with a smile she said, "alas!
father, saidst thou that thou dost not believe I am the honest and
virtuous woman which I am?"

"Nay, it is quite the reverse," quoth the friar, "I do think you a more
worthy lady than you would seem, and that you would not be so cruel, as
to suffer any one to languish and die for the sake of preserving that
virtue."

"Heaven preserve you," said the lady, "who do you think would die on my
account? who would cast on me a look of tenderness?"

"Oh!" groaned the friar, "who is it can look on you and not lose his
heart. As for my part, (and pray pardon me if I offend you), since I
have been blessed with a sight of you, there has not been a day or
night that I have spent without thinking of your beauty, or without
petitioning mighty Love to afford me an opportunity (though at the
risque of my life) of telling you how great is the tender affection I
bear you. Should my ill-fate order it so that my passion should offend,
lay the blame not on me, but on those transcendent charms and noble
manners which have brought me to such a crisis, that I can no longer
live unless you take pity on me. Should you delay this compassion, lady
too long, perhaps it may come too late, for I must surely die." Besides
that Emilia was a virtuous woman; she was doubly offended at the friar's
speech, on account of the friendship which her husband bore him, and for
this reason resolved on his punishment. She told him she could not
give credit to such wonderful things; neither did she believe in his
affection, nor in the charms he alluded to. Having parted from the
friar, the lady went home, and related every word to her husband
Girolamo, having previously made him solemnly swear that he would not
meditate any serious revenge, but merely inflict some slight punishment
on him, and let him go. Girolamo considering what he could do to the
worthy preacher, which should not be a serious injury, and yet a great
disgrace, he hit upon a plan which will soon appear. He told his wife to
contrive to let the friar come to her some night, and related to her his
plan. To this she agreed, and, in consequence, to prevent the friar
from having any suspicion, and in order that the plot might the better
succeed, she sent the friar some little trifling presents by her
maid--perfumes, flowers, and green and black ribbons, such as ladies are
used to send their lovers.

Our innamorato accepted every thing with joy and rapture, and had no
scruple in sending as many back by a little convenient brother. The
friar, now thinking he was at home to a peg, determined one Saturday to
pay her a visit, for, on that day, it was his custom to rest from his
duty; therefore, taking with him the little friar, on the Saturday
before the Sunday of St. Lazarus, he marched off to the Lady Emilia. It
so happened that, exactly as he wished it, Girolamo had gone out; he
joyfully went up stairs, and sent word to Emilia that he had waited upon
her; the lady received him with very great kindness and affection; upon
which our worthy friar, after a few sweet words, reminded her of his
anguish and his hopes; to which Emilia, who had been taught by her
husband what to say, replied, "holy father! heaven knows I have always
thought infidelity to my husband a great crime, but as you have assured
me that there is no sin in it, and that you bear me such great love, I
have determined to reward your passion, but on condition of inviolable
secrecy; indeed, to shew you that I am in earnest, I would say that,
were not to-morrow the Sunday of Lazarus, when you are to preach, you
might come this very evening between eleven and twelve o'clock, my
husband being gone to Villa Cavalca; I would not fail to open the door
to you, at that time all the servants will be gone to bed and fast
asleep." The worthy friar, who wished for nothing more ardently, and to
whom every minute seemed an age, said, "dear lady, if this be your kind
intention, do not let my preaching prevent you, for if you will let me
out a little before day-light, I will preach a sermon to-morrow that
shall delight and melt the hearts of my hearers." He departed, and, in
order to make himself the more agreeable to the lady, he went to refresh
and perfume himself; the lady, meanwhile, related all the particulars to
her husband, who, after telling his lady how she should act, left the
house, and went to sup with an intimate friend. At the hour appointed,
the friar tapped at the door, which was opened to him, and he was led
gently up stairs to the bedchamber where Girolamo and his wife usually
slept; here she left him, desiring him to undress, saying that she would
come to him as soon as she had arranged some trifling matters. Scarcely
had our amorous lover stripped himself to his shirt, when Girolamo, who,
with the friend with whom he had supped, had watched the friar, knocked
furiously at the door. Emilia, on hearing this, rushed into the room,
threw open the window, and demanded who was there, pretending to be in a
dreadful fright. Girolamo answering, desired to be admitted, saying it
was her husband. Emilia began to call out that she was undone, ran up to
the father, who was more dead than alive through fright, bid him get up
quick, and said, "we are as good as dead; I cannot think how it is, but
my husband, whom I thought ten miles off, is now knocking at the door."

"For heaven's sake," said she, "slip into that chest," shewing him a
large one in the room, "and lie there until I see what may be done;
meanwhile I will hide your clothes somewhere or other as well as I am
able; heaven knows, I fear more for your holy person than I do for my
own life." The unfortunate wretch, seeing himself reduced to such a
pass, did as the lady desired. Meanwhile the servants awoke, got up, and
let their master in, who, pretending that he had been attacked, along
with his companion, when put of Arezzo, by some banditti, said he had
caused the city gates to be opened by giving a crown to the guard; the
which had delayed him for more than three hours, on account of his being
obliged to go to the castle to get the keys. After ordering a bed for
his companion, he went into bed to his wife, while the poor fellow
remained in the chest. Day-light coming, the church bells began to ring
for prayers, which greatly annoyed our captive, who was to preach at the
cathedral.

Girolamo and his friend having risen, ordered two servants to carry
the chest to the church, and place it in the middle, saying they were
ordered to do so by the preacher; and that unlocking the chest without
raising the lid, they should leave it there; all which the fellows did
very neatly: every body stared, and wondered what all this could mean,
some said one thing, and some another. At last the bell having ceased
to ring, and no one appearing in the pulpit, or any other part of the
church, a young man rose and said, "really this preacher of ours makes
us wait too long; pray let us see what he has ordered to be brought
in this chest," having said thus much, he, before all the congregation,
lifted up the lid, and looking in, beheld the friar in his shirt, pale,
almost frightened to death, and certainly appearing more dead than
alive, and as if buried in the chest.

[Illustration: 235]

He, however, finding himself discovered, collected his mind as well as
he could, and stood upright to the great astonishment of all present;
and, having taken his text from the Sunday of Lazarus, he then addressed
his congregation:--"My dear brethren, I am not at all astonished at your
surprise and amusement in seeing me brought before you in this chest,
or rather at my ordering myself to be brought thus: ye know that this is
the day in which our holy church commemorates the wonderful miracle our
Lord performed on the person of Lazarus, in raising him from the dead
who had been buried four days. I was desirous in your favour to present
myself to you, as it were, in the form of Lazarus, in order that seeing
me in this chest, which is no other than an emblem of the sepulchre
wherein he had been buried, you might be moved more effectually to
the consideration of what perishable things we are, and that seeing
me stripped of all worldly decorations, thus, in my shirt, you may be
convinced of the vanity of the things in this world, the which if duly
considered, may tend greatly to the amending of our lives. Will you
believe that, since yesternight, I have been a thousand times dead,
and revivified as Lazarus was; and, considering my dreadful situation,
remember that we must all die, and trust to Him who can bestow upon us
life eternal; but first ye must die to sin, to avarice, to rapine, and
all those sinful deeds to which our nature prompts us; and, above all,
avoid seducing the wives of others, as none who so act can be saved."
In such language, and in this manner did the friar continue his sermon.
Much praise did the Aretines heap upon him, more especially Girolamo
and his friend, who had come to see how the trick would succeed, and who
were astonished at the extraordinary presence of mind which the friar
displayed, and laughed heartily at his success in persuading his
audience of his wonderful chastity in respect of other men's wives.
Girolamo, in consideration of the adroitness of the culprit, did not
attempt any other revenge, but took very good care to shut his door in
future against all such double-faced hypocrites.



ANTONIO AND VERONICA.

In the time of Charles the Second, there was at Salerno a noble knight,
of an ancient family, called Messer Mazzeo, a chief justice, extremely
rich both in money and lands, whose wife being rather old, died, and
left an only daughter, whose name was Veronica, youthful, handsome, and
very virtuous. Her father, whether from affection, or that he wished to
marry her advantageously, kept her single at home, though she had many
offers. It happened that a youth, named Antonio Marcello, of noble
birth, who had been familiar in the house from his infancy, under the
sanction of a certain relationship between him and Messer Mazzeo's lady,
became so enraptured with Veronica, that he was almost mad. Antonio,
although reserved and virtuous, and dearly beloved as a worthy son could
be, yet unable to resist all powerful love, and having opportunities
which his weak resolution could not withstand, this pair of youthful
lovers forgot what was due to their father and themselves. Though they
continued, with the greatest caution, this guilty intercourse, yet their
utmost care could not guard them from the cruel storm which fate was
raising against them. One night being together, and not suspecting any
thing, it happened that one of the servants espied them, and immediately
went to his master, and having related the fact, the former, full of
indignation, went with some of his servants to the place where the
couple were, who, being thrown into the utmost consternation, were
both seized, but Antonio being very strong and courageous, disengaged
himself, and, sword in hand, rushed forth and made his escape, unhurt
and unseen, and went home. Messer Mazzeo, grieved to death on seeing how
matters stood, insisted on knowing from his daughter who the young man
was. She very prudently, knowing the temper of her father, and that the
death of her lover must be the consequence, determined rather to expose
her own life than his, and finally told her father that she would suffer
every torment, and even death itself, rather than let the youth's name
be known. The father, in the greatest rage, after having tortured her in
various ways, seeing her obstinately determined to be silent, although
parental feeling moved him at times, determined upon her death, and,
without seeing her more, he commanded two of his trusty servants
immediately to drag her into a boat, and throw her overboard, when they
should be some miles from shore. The men, though most unwillingly, bound
her hands, and forced her to the sea side, and while they were making
the boat ready, one of them being moved to compassion, sifted the other,
who was equally sorry at the cruel circumstance, and talking over
the matter, they agreed not only to spare her life, but to set her at
liberty; and having unbound her, they told her that being strongly
moved to pity, they could not execute the cruel sentence her father had
ordered, and begged of her, as a return for the liberty they restored to
her, that she would expatriate herself, so that her father might never
hear of their having saved her. The poor young lady finding she received
life through the humanity of her own servants, and that she was unable
to reward them sufficiently, poured forth her prayers to heaven to send
them blessings equal to the inestimable gift they bestowed upon her; and
after recovering from-her fright and terror she swore to them, by
that life they had saved her, that she would conduct herself in such a
manner, that not only her merciless father, but no living soul should
ever be apprised of the circumstance.

After having cut her hair, and dressed her up as well as they could with
their own clothes, and giving her what trifle of money they had about
them, they directed her on the way to Naples, and left her with tears;
and having returned home with her clothes, they asserted, that with a
large stone tied to her neck, they had plunged her into the sea about
ten miles off. The noble lady, who had never before been out of the
city, felt herself nearly fainting at every step she took; the thoughts
of leaving her poor Antonio without the hope of ever seeing him again,
together with many other tender thoughts, nearly induced her to turn
back; but recollecting the kindness she experienced, and the solemn
promise she had made to them, gratitude, that blossom of every virtue,
had such power over her feelings, that every such thought was dismissed.
She therefore went on, not knowing where, and praying to heaven to help
her, she walked the remaining part of the night. About dawn, being near
Nocera, she was overtaken by a party who were going on to Naples, and
joined company with them; among these was a Calabrian gentleman, who was
taking some sparrow hawks to the Duke of Calabria. The youth (for so the
lady appeared) seeming to him a pleasant young man, he asked her what
countryman he was, and whether he wanted employment? Veronica, who in
sport had learned in her youth to imitate the language of an old woman
of Apulia, who was in her father's house, thought she would make use of
those Pugliese words which she recollected, as often as she could in
the course of her conversation with him, and answered, "I am a native of
Apulia, and came forth from home only to get a situation, but, as I am
the son of a noble father, I would not wish to undertake too menial a
place." To which the Calabrian said, "would you like to be keeper of the
hawks?" This question highly delighted Veronica, having at her father's
house had the care of several; she answered, that from her infancy she
had been accustomed to the care of them. After some conversation as they
went along, she took the care of one, and being arrived at Naples, and
clad so that she appeared a very neat and elegant little squire, whether
fate had so decreed it, or that her likely appearance captivated him,
the duke would have both the hawks and the young Pugliese keeper who
managed them so well, and, consequently, he was installed in the family
with a young Neapolitan. She so carefully fulfilled her duty, and was
so exact in her attendance, that in a short time she became the greatest
favourite, and was much valued by the duke; insomuch that she remained
with him till fortune directed another course for her.

Her old father, meanwhile, torn with grief and remorse, for the fatal
story had got wind, remained mostly shut up in his house or at his
country villa, secluded from all society. Antonio, after bitterly
sorrowing for the death of his dear Veronica, and finding that the old
man had never discovered who the cavalier was who had escaped on that
fatal night, determined after a few days, as well to prevent suspicion,
as moved by compassion, to visit the old man; he generally accompanied
him to his villa, and shewed himself as kind, obedient, and dutiful, as
if he had been his own son, the which Mazzeo felt the more sensibly, as
the youth seemed to be the only one who had not forsaken him in his dire
calamity, and therefore loved him as he would have done his own,
and could not rest one hour without his dear Antonio. As the latter
persevered in his kindness and attentions to him, it occurred to the old
man, that since his ill fortune had deprived him of an heir, he would
adopt him as such. Full of this thought he made his will, and left
Antonio heir to every thing he possessed, and died shortly after.
Antonio having thus acquired immense property, and occupying the house
of the deceased, met with numberless objects that recalled to his mind
the tender and heroic affection of his dear Veronica, who rather met her
death, than reveal his name. His grief and gratitude were such, that
he vowed he never would marry. Meanwhile the duke determined to go to
Calabria, which thing enraptured the Pugliese (Veronica), as she would
not only see her dear country again, but might perchance hear of her
lover, and of her father, whom she still loved, in spite of his cruelty,
and of whom she had made no enquiry lest her secret should be known.
Being arrived at Salerno, and the duke's retinue accommodated with
lodgings according to their rank, it happened, as it pleased fortune
to ordain, in order to put an end to their long sufferings, and finally
make Antonio happy, that it fell to the lot of Antonio Marcello to
accommodate the Pugliese and his companions with lodgings, which
circumstance we may naturally suppose was no small joy to Veronica.
They were honorably and courteously entertained by Antonio; at night he
provided an elegant supper, and in the very apartment where he was wont
to spend such happy moments with Veronica. As these two were looking
anxiously on each other, Antonio thought he traced in the countenance of
the Pugliese some of the features of his beloved, and recollecting her
death, every word he uttered was broken by the deepest sighs. Veronica,
seeing herself in her own house, though delighted at beholding her lover
in possession of all the property, yet not seeing her father nor any of
the family she had left, felt much afflicted and became very desirous
of hearing something about him. While she remained thus agitated, in the
course of the supper, her companion asked Antonio whether those painted
arms in the hall were his, to which Antonio answered in the negative,
and said they were those of a noble lord, named Messer Mazzeo, first
judge, who having died in old age without children, had bequeathed all
his property to him, for which reason having been adopted by him, he had
taken possession, not only of the property, but assumed the name, as if
he had been his own father. When Veronica heard this, her heart leaped
with joy, and she could scarcely refrain from shedding tears; she,
however, calmed herself till supper was over, when she thought it was
high time she should fold her beloved to her arms, whom fortune had so
kindly preserved to her; and taking Antonio by the hand, leaving her
friends with the rest of the company, they entered an adjoining room,
where she wished to say something to him by which he might recognise
her. She attempted to speak, but could not utter a syllable from excess
of joy and tears. Thus exhausted by contending feelings, she fell into
his arms, exclaiming; "Oh! Antonio, my love, is it possible thou dost
not know me?" He, who as I have said before, thought he recognized some
features of his dear Veronica, upon hearing those words, immediately
became convinced of what he only at first surmised, and overcome with
the ten-derest feelings, said, "my soul, art thou really living?" So
saying he swooned in her arms. After caressing each other for a time
with endearments, and relating their adventures, Antonio considering it
fit to divulge the whole circumstances, and herself being of the same
mind, they went out of the room to her companions, and although it was
late, Antonio sent to all his own friends and Veronica's, desiring them
to attend directly at his house, on business of the greatest importance.
They being arrived, he requested them to attend him as far as the palace
of the duke, as he meant to request him to put him in possession of
an estate formerly belonging to Messer Mazzeo, from which no fruit or
advantage had been derived for many years past. The whole group having
willingly agreed so to do, when before the duke, Antonio, taking his
Veronica by the hand, in the presence of all, related every circumstance
that had happened, without concealing the least particular; declaring
afterwards how, from the very beginning of their love, they had pledged
their faith as man and wife, and meant, with their lord's approbation,
to celebrate publicly this marriage. The duke, barons, relations,
and strangers present, hearing these extraordinary events were much
surprised, and heartily rejoiced at the happy issue. The conduct and
constancy of Antonio and Veronica were highly praised; they took leave
of the duke, and next day high mass was celebrated in the presence of
his highness, and Antonio and Veronica were both married; noble presents
were sent by the duke, and they in love, and with many beautiful
children, lived, and terminated this life at a very old age.



BELPHAGOR.

We find in the ancient records of Florence, that a most holy man, whose
life was, in after years, celebrated for sanctity, being one night
deeply engaged in meditation, fell into a dream and saw numbers of the
souls of wretched mortals, who had died under the displeasure of the
gods, and inhabited the dark regions of Pluto; complaining, at least
most part of them, of having been driven to such misery by marriage; the
which greatly surprised Minos, Radamanthus, and other infernal judges,
as they did not credit those falsehoods against the sex. But these
complaints increasing daily, after informing Pluto of it, it was
resolved to hold a council of all the infernal deities upon the subject,
and ultimately determine upon what might be best to do, in order to
ascertain the whole truth of the case. These being called to council,
Pluto spoke in the following manner:--"Although, my dearly beloved,
by celestial power and irrevocable fate, I possess this realm, and am
wholly unaccountable to any celestial or mortal being, yet as it is more
wise to listen to the opinions of others, I have resolved to take your
advice in a case that might eventually be of great dishonour to our
empire; all the souls of men that come into our infernal kingdom, say
that their wives are the cause of it; this appearing impossible to us,
we therefore fear that in passing sentence on this subject, we may,
perhaps, be accused of too much cruelty, or of not being sufficiently
severe, and unfriendly to justice; being desirous to avoid both these
charges, we have called upon you for your advice and assistance,
in order that this realm may remain, as it ever hath been, without
disgrace."

[Illustration: 252]

It appeared to all the infernal lords that it was a most momentous
case, and they unanimously agreed that it ought to be sifted to the
very bottom, but disagreed about the means and manner of carrying the
investigation into effect; some were of opinion that one of them should
be sent into the world, in the shape of a man, to ascertain personally
the truth; others thought it might be done with less difficulty, by
compelling several souls, by various torments, to tell the truth; but
the majority decreeing that some one should be sent, they decided upon
the former opinion. No one being inclined to take this business upon
himself, it was settled that chance should determine, the which fell to
the lot of the arch-devil Belphagor, who, before he was kicked out of
heaven, was called archangel; he, though against his will, was compelled
by Pluto's power to accept the office, and prepared to do that which
the council should determine, and bound himself to such compacts as
had solemnly been stipulated between them; the which were, that he who
should be deputed should immediately receive a hundred thousand ducats,
with which he was to come into the world with the features of man--take
to him a wife--live ten years with her--then, feigning death, should
return; and, by his own experience, prove to his superiors, what are the
sorrows and comforts of the married state. It was moreover fixed, that
he should be subject to all the misfortunes, and all the evils incident
to man--that of poverty, imprisonment, diseases, and other calamities
which men draw on themselves, unless he could extricate himself from
them by deceit or cunning. Belphagor, having assumed the man, and taken
the cash, came to the world, and after having ordered his horses and
attendants, he made cheerfully towards Florence, the which city he chose
in preference to any other, as the one where roguery and usury were most
likely to thrive; and, taking the name of Roderigo, he hired a house in
the Borgo d'Ogrissanti. In order that they might not enquire who he was,
he gave out that he had quitted Spain, when very young, and going to
Syria, had gained all his wealth at Aleppo, and that his object in
coming to Italy was to take a wife, as being a more civilized country,
and more congenial to his feelings. Roderigo was a very handsome man,
about thirty, and being in a very few days known to possess immense
riches, and it appearing that he was liberal and humane, many noble
citizens who had plenty of daughters, and a scarcity of money, made
offers to him; out of the number, Roderigo selected a most beautiful
young lady called Onesta, daughter of Amerigo Donati, who had three
other daughters almost marriageable, and three sons grown to man's
estate. Although he was of a noble family, and greatly esteemed in
Florence, yet, in consequence of a style of living suited to his rank,
he was very poor.

Roderigo's wedding was most splendid; nothing usual on such occasions
was forgotten or neglected; it having been decreed before he left the
dark regions, that he should be subject to all the passions of men, he
soon took delight and pride in the pomp and vanities of the world, and
the praises of men, the which cost him dear enough; besides this, he had
not been long with his wife before he fell desperately in love with her,
and was wretched if she happened to look otherwise than cheerful, or was
displeased at any thing. Madonna Onesta had not only brought youth
and beauty to Roderigo, but such a share of pride, that he, who was a
tolerable judge, thought the pride of Lucifer himself was a mere nothing
to it; this greatly increased the very instant she perceived how much
her husband doated upon her, and as she thought she could rule him as
she pleased, she commanded him imperiously, nor did she hesitate, if
he denied her any thing, to abuse and maltreat him, the which greatly
annoyed him, yet the ties of matrimony, and the love he bore her, made
him endure all with patience. I make no mention of the very enormous
expenses he was at to please her in new fashions, which naturally often
vary in this our city, and which he was obliged to submit to for the
sake of peace. He was compelled to help his father-in-law in portioning
the other girls; then again, to be on good terms with her, he was
compelled to equip one brother for the Levant with clothes, &c., and the
other to the west with silks; and, lastly, to open a goldbeater's shop
for the third, all of which consumed the best part of his fortune.
Moreover, in the carnival time and festival of St. John, when the whole
city is nothing but feasting and revels, and when the noblemen treat
each other with splendid entertainments, Madonna Onesta would not yield
to any lady in splendour and show, but insisted that her Roderigo should
outdo them all in magnificence. Quietly did Roderigo bear all these
things for the reasons above-mentioned--peace and quietness; nor would
he have grudged the expense, though very annoying, nay, would have even
borne more, could he but have had peace in the house; or could he have
waited quietly the moment of his ruin: but, on the contrary, it was
quite the reverse, for besides the ruinous extravagance she led him
into, her diabolical nature wearied him daily, nor was there a servant
in the house that could stay any time. Roderigo, of course, suffered
much in not being able to keep a single servant that could take care
of his property, for the very devils he had brought with him, under the
shape of servants, rather chose to return to hell, among their native
fire and smoke, than dwell in the world under her controul. Roderigo
going on in this dreadful way, and having wasted all his property in the
above manner, began to live on the hopes of remittances from the east
and west, which he expected to receive, but being put to shifts and
having good credit still, he borrowed on promissory notes. At this
juncture the intelligence arrived from the east and west that one of the
Madonna Oliesta's brothers had gambled away all Roderigo's property, and
that the other, on his return with a ship laden with goods uninsured,
had been drowned, and the ship sunk. The instant the news was made
known, the creditors assembled, and judging he was a ruined man, they
being prevented from making any demands, the notes not being as yet due,
agreed it was proper to keep a watchful eye over him, in order that he
might not give them the slip. Roderigo, on the other hand, seeing his
situation desperate, and thinking of the infernal law that bound him to
this sublunary world, determined to be off at any rate. He mounted his
horse one morning, and living near the gate Alprato, he rode through on
his way. No sooner was his departure heard of, than the creditors were
roused up to action, and applying to the magistrate, they flew with the
police, and even the populace, after him. Roderigo was scarcely one mile
off, when he heard the outcry behind him. Conceiving the road was but an
indifferent protection, he thought that striking across the fields would
be a far safer way; but in so doing he found so many ditches in his
road, the which are frequent in that part, that he alighted, left his
horse, and ran on foot through fields covered with vines and reeds,
with which that country abounds. He arrived at Peretola, at the house of
Matteo del Bricea, a labourer of Giovanni del Bene, and as chance would
have it, found Matteo feeding the oxen. Roderigo begged of him to save
him from the hands of his enemies, who, he said, pursued him, to take
him and shut him up in gaol to die; promising him a great reward, and
adding, that he would enrich him, and would, before he left him, give
him such proofs that he could no longer doubt; and should he not keep
his word, he would allow him to deliver him up to his pursuers. Matteo,
though but a labourer, was a man of spirit, and kind-hearted; and
thinking he could lose nothing by protecting him, he promised so to do,
and concealed him behind a dunghill, covered him up with lumber, and
sticks which he had brought for firewood. Roderigo had scarcely time to
conceal himself properly, before his pursuers reached the place, who,
however, could not obtain from Matteo an avowal that he had seen any
such a one as they described. They, therefore, continued their way;
being unsuccessful in their search, after two days pursuit, they
returned back to Florence. When the bustle was over, Matteo took him
out of his concealment. Roderigo said to him, "Matteo, I am under the
greatest obligation to you, and will reward you, and that thou mayest
believe me, I will tell thee who I am,"--upon this he related to him who
he was, and the orders he received on going out of hell; his taking a
wife; the eternal plague he had with her, and, moreover, the means he
should use to enrich him, which was this:--when he should hear that
there was a young woman possessed with the devil, to be quite assured
that it was he who was within her, and that he should not cast himself
from her until he himself should come, by which means he might get
such payment from her friends as he might choose. Thus agreed, he
disappeared. Very few days had elapsed, when it was reported in
Florence that a daughter of Ambrogio Amadeo, who had married Buonijuto
Zebalducci, was possessed by the devil. The friends, of course, tried
all the remedies usually recurred to in such cases, such as placing the
head of Saint Zarobi on her head, and Saint John of Gualberto's cloak,
which things were rendered of no avail by Roderigo, and to make it clear
that the deceased had really and truly an evil spirit within her, he
made her speak Latin, and hold a disputation on philosophy. She made
public the sins of people, and particularly those of a monk, who had
kept a female more than four years under the dress of a young friar;
which things people much marveled at. Messer Ambrogio, however, was
truly miserable, and had lost all hopes of a cure, when Matteo having
heard of the case, came to him, and told him that if he would give him
five hundred florins to purchase a little farm at Ponterolo, he would
restore the lady to her perfect senses. Ambrogio accepted the offer,
upon which Matteo having ordered several masses to be said, and numerous
mysterious ceremonies to be performed, in order the better to conceal
the business, he accosted the lady, and whispering into her ear, said,
"Roderigo, I am now come to thee that thou mayest perform thy promise," to
which Roderigo answered, "but this sum is not enough to make thee rich,
therefore as soon as I depart from this, I will cast myself into the
daughter of Charles, King of Naples, nor will I depart from her until thou
comest to me. Thou wilt then make thy own demand to the king, and after this,
never trouble me more." This said, he came forth from the lady, to the
great amazement and joy of all present. It was but a few months after,
that the news was spread through Italy of the accident which had
befallen King Charles's daughter. All the attempts of the monks proving
ineffectual to relieve her, and the King having heard of Matteo,
immediately dispatched a messenger to Florence to fetch him. Matteo
arrived soon at Naples, and, after some artful practices, removed the
evil spirit from the lady; but before Roderigo quitted his hold, he
said, "Matteo, thou seest I have kept my word with thee in enriching
thee; I therefore am now under no obligations whatever to thee; do not
thou ever attempt to appear before me, because I might hereafter do thee
much harm, instead of the good I have done thee." Matteo, returning to
Florence very rich, for the king had given him fifty thousand ducats,
thought of enjoying his wealth in comfort, unconscious that Roderigo
would ever do him any injury; but this hope was soon frustrated by news
arriving that the daughter of Louis the Seventh of France was possessed
of the evil spirit; this quite upset the mind of Matteo, considering
the power of that king, and coupling, withal, the threat of Roderigo, if
ever he appeared before him. Meanwhile, Louis unable to find a cure
for his daughter, and being told of Matteo's power of exorcism, sent
at first a messenger to request his attendance; but Matteo alleging
indisposition as an excuse, the king was obliged to apply to the
government, who compelled Matteo to obedience. In great grief and
perturbation of mind did Matteo arrive at Paris; he told the king that
certainly there were such things by which he had formerly cured persons
possessed with the devil, but that was not the case with all such,
because there were some of so wicked a nature, that neither threats,
exorcism, or religious ceremonies could move them; yet that he would
certainly do his best, but, that should his endeavours prove useless, he
entreated his majesty to pardon him. The king, greatly disappointed and
incensed, replied, that if he did not cure his daughter, he certainly
should be hanged. Matteo, of course, felt much alarmed at his ticklish
situation; nevertheless, summoning up his whole stock of courage,
he desired the lady might be called in, and with all humility, in a
whisper, entreated Roderigo to take pity on him, reminding him of what
he had formerly done by him: to which Roderigo answered, "treacherous
villain, hast thou the boldness to appear before me? dost thou forget I
made thee the rich man thou art? I will now show thee and the world
how I can bestow gifts, and bereave mortals of them at my pleasure,
and before thou quittest this place, I'll have thee gibbeted." Matteo,
conceiving he was lost, and seeing no other means of escape, determined
to try his fortune in another way; therefore, desiring the lady might be
dismissed, he said to the king, "Sire, I have already told your majesty,
that there are such malignant spirits, against which nothing will avail,
and this is one; however, I will try one last experiment, which, should
it succeed, will make your majesty and myself most happy; should it
fail, I hope your majesty will feel that compassion towards me that my
innocence deserves. To this effect your majesty will please to order
that a large platform be erected at the piazza of _Our Lady_, large
enough to contain all your barons and clergy, decking the railing with
cloths, silks, and gold fringes; in the middle of this platform I wish
an altar to be placed, and on Sunday morning next I wish your majesty
to attend in solemn and royal pomp, with all your barons and clergy in
their richest canonicals, when high mass shall be chaunted, and the lady
brought forth. Besides these things, I do request that a group of at
least twenty persons be placed at one corner of the square, with each
a trumpet, horn, bugle, cymbals, drums, kettle-drums, or other terrific
instruments, who, at the waving of my hat, shall immediately strike up
and walk on towards the platform; this and certain other exorcisms will,
I hope, drive the evil spirit from the lady." Every thing was ordered
by his majesty which Matteo desired; on the Sunday morning the king,
barons, clergy, and populace being assembled, the mass was celebrated,
and the lady brought up to the platform by two bishops, and several
noblemen. Roderigo, when he beheld such a multitude collected together,
was almost confounded: "what the devil does this dastardly scoundrel
mean to do," said he to himself; "does he think to frighten me by all
this show and bustle; does he not know that I am used to the pomp and
splendour of heaven, and the fire and furies of hell? but I will punish
him, that I will." Matteo approached him, and entreated him to be gone.

"What do you mean," said Roderigo, "do you think to terrify me by all
these preparations? dost thou think to shelter thyself from my power
and the king's rage? Wretch! scoundrel that thou art! I will have thee
hanged, cost what it may," and at it they went, abusing each other, till
at last Matteo thought it would be useless to lose any more time, and
gave the signal by waving his hat. All those that had been ordered
played up, and with an infernal noise approached the scaffold. Roderigo,
at this horrid cry and noise, pricked up his ears, and remained
stupified, not knowing what it could be, and asking Matteo what all that
meant. Matteo, seeming quite alarmed, said, "Oh, Roderigo, _it is your
wife, it is your wife_ that is coming to you!" At the hearing of his
wife's name, no one would credit the agitation, fright, and terror it
threw him into; and without considering the improbability of its being
so, he was so thunderstruck that he instantly made off in a bustle, and
left the lady _free_, preferring to go back to hell and give an
account of his mission, to encountering the vexations, spite, troubles,
hardships, and dangers to which the marriage yoke had subjected him.
Thus Belphagor returned to the infernal regions, gave a true and
circumstantial account of all the evils which a wife brings into a
house, and Matteo, highly delighted at his exploit, and at having
outwitted the devil, returned home in raptures.



THE SLEEPING DRAUGHT

There was in Siena, not many years ago, a young man, the son of
respectable parents, named Marriotto Mignelli, who fell violently in
love with a young lady by name Gianozza, the daughter of one of the
most respectable and worthy citizens, descended from the family of
the Saraceni; in the course of time his assiduity and constancy were
returned by the lady with equal ardour. They, for some time, remained
satisfied with the joys of reciprocal protestations, and the sight of
each other alone was a blessing beyond their most ardent wishes,--but
this lasted but a short time; in what manner they should proceed to
complete their views of happiness they could not devise, knowing the
repulse they should meet from the parents of the lady. At last Gianozza,
who was as prudent as she was handsome, resolved on secretly being
married to him, and thus, should they be detected, to sanction their
secret intrigue under the cloak of a marriage. In order to accomplish
this object, they bribed an Augustin friar, by whose means they were
united. Having, for a time, enjoyed the fruits of this sly, and
partly unlawful marriage, it happened that fortune, contrary to their
expectations, turned all their joys to bitter sorrow. Marriotto one
day coming to high words with a respectable citizen, blows ensued, and
Marriotto unfortunately struck the man a severe blow with his stick on
the head, of which the unhappy man died a few days after: Marriotto,
therefore, carefully concealed himself. As the sbirri, who were sent in
quest of him, could not find him, he was outlawed by the magistrates,
and condemned to die if found within their jurisdiction.

What were the sorrows of the loving pair, may more easily be conceived
than described; the bitter tears that were shed at their parting, under
the impression they never should meet again, would have melted a heart
of stone; and, in their last embrace, they both seemed expiring in each
other's arms. At length Marriotto tried to comfort his mournful bride,
by intimating a hope that, by some fortunate event, he might return to
his country. He, at last, determined not only to absent himself from
Tuscany, but to fly from Italy altogether, and go over to Alexandria
to an uncle, named Mignanelli, he had there, a great merchant. After
settling with his wife on the best means of carrying on a correspondence
between them, the unhappy couple parted in tears. The distracted
Marriotto made his way to the nearest port, to set sail for Alexandria,
after leaving a letter for his brother, to inform him of the whole
secret. He most pressingly entreated him carefully to watch over the
safety of his dear Gianozza, and to protect her. In due time he arrived
at Alexandria, was kindly received by his uncle, and related his
misfortunes to him; Mignanelli was much grieved, not so much at the
murder of the man, as on account of the offence given to the relations
of the lady by this secret union, and whose power was much to be
dreaded; but thinking it was useless to reproach him for things past,
they endeavoured to quiet each other's minds. The uncle initiated him
in trade, and having every month letters constantly from his beloved
Gianozza, and now and then seeing his brother, he was comparatively
happy. In the interim, the father of Gianozza being solicited and
importuned by many to marry his daughter, she continually objected to
one, then to another; being at last pressed by her father to choose
a husband, and, in such a manner, that it would have been needless to
resist, she became almost distracted; to tell the truth would have but
added fuel to fire. In this dreadful situation, a thought struck her,
not only dangerous and cruel, but, perhaps, never yet heard of. She told
her father she was ready to obey his commands, and immediately went
to the friar Augustin, who had favoured their scheme, and cautiously
imparted to him her project, and entreated his assistance; upon which he
assumed that modest caution and timidity natural to the cloth, and, by
some, highly admired; and humm'd and hah'd, but the enchanting powers of
a well lined purse soon emboldened him, and he manfully entered into
the scheme. He hastened home and made up (for he was an adept in the
science) a draught, that not only would send a person to sleep for three
days, but would give the real appearance of a corpse; having made up
this draught, he sent it to the lady, with proper directions. Gianozza
wrote a letter to Marriotto, to inform him of every particular the friar
had done by her express command; then swallowed the draught, which, in a
short time, threw her into a stupor, and she fell as if dead amidst her
women; their cries soon brought her father and all the family into the
room; the distracted old man sent for medical assistance, but nothing
could avail; she was to all appearance dead, and the doctors were of
opinion it was from the gout that had seized the chest.

[Illustration: 272]

The next day, and the succeeding one, she was carefully watched, to
see if any signs of life appeared, but none being visible, to the great
grief of her aged parent, and amidst the tears and lamentations of
friends and relations, she was buried in the church of St. Augustin.
About midnight the friar, assisted by one of his trusty brethren, took
her out of the coffin into his room, and at the hour when the operation
of the draught must be nearly over, they, by friction and other means,
restored her to life. Being completely revived to sense and feeling in a
few days, dressed in a friar's garment, she set forth with the Augustin
friar to port Pisano, where they found the galley Aquamorta, that was
to touch at Alexandria in her voyage. Having taken their passage, they
embarked forthwith, but as navigation is very precarious, and merchant
vessels are often detained by landing, or freighting goods, contrary
winds, and other casualties, they did not arrive till some months later
than they expected.

The unfortunate Marriotto had, however, received, by several
merchants, letters from Gargano his brother, who anxious to keep up the
correspondence he had promised, had written to him every particular of
the melancholy event, adding, that the afflicted and broken-hearted
old father had died with grief. On the other hand, the vessel by which
Gianozza's letter had been sent was carrying corn to Alexandria, and
was taken by pirates. Having no other information than his brother's,
he concluded it was all as stated in his letters. Reader, if thou hast a
heart, thou wilt easily picture to thyself the distraction of Marriotto;
so overpowering were his sorrows, that he determined not to outlive
his misfortune, and in spite of his uncle's entreaties, he resolved to
return to Siena, to conceal himself in disguise, and there, where he
thought his dear Gianozza lay, to bathe her tomb with his tears, and
die. He embarked in a Venetian galley that was sailing to Naples; being
arrived there, he went by land into Tuscany, entered Siena unknown, in a
pilgrim's dress, and without going to any of his relations, went to the
church of St. Augustin, where his beloved had been buried; there he wept
and lamented, and would fain have buried himself with her in the tomb.

The following evening he provided himself with an iron tool and wrench,
and had nearly succeeded in opening the tomb, when the sexton, who was
come to ring the bell for midnight prayers, hearing a noise, hastened to
the place, and found the unfortunate Marriotto hard at his work; taking
him to be a robber of the tombs, he halloed lustily, "_stop thief, stop
thief!_" that all the fraternity were soon down into the church, some
in their night-caps, others in their shirts; and although he was in
tatters, he was immediately recognised to be Marriotto Mignelli. Here
he was kept fast till the morning. It was soon divulged in Siena, and
reaching the ears of the magistrates, they instantly sent the sbirri to
seize him. They brought him before the judge, and he had scarcely felt
the first torture, when he confessed, rather than endure more torments,
the cause of his desperate resolution to return home. Although he was
universally pitied, and more particularly by the fair sex, who looked
upon him as a phenomenon of true love, and wept bitterly for his fate,
yet the magistrate ordered that on the first execution day he should
be hung. Thus, the interposition of his friends being unavailing, he
submitted to his fate. After some months had elapsed, Gianozza, and her
conductor arrived, after great sufferings, at Alexandria, enquired for
Niccolo Mignanelli, and having found him made herself known to him, and
told him all her misfortunes, and the purpose of her voyage. The good
uncle was petrified with amazement, and grieved to the heart. After he
had made her take her usual woman's garments, and kindly treated the
friar, he then related to the distressed Gianozza how Marriotto, led
away by despair, had left him, and had gone back, without giving him the
least intimation, fully determined to die, and how much he had grieved
at his departure, knowing that such was his fixed resolve. Reader, you
will surely conceive that this last misfortune outweighed every past
suffering, and almost overwhelmed the unfortunate widow. After the
bitterness of her sorrow was alleviated by scorching tears, Niccolo
advised that they should both immediately take shipping, go to Siena,
and find out Marriotto, dead or alive, and use every means to clear the
honour of the lady. Having settled some little business, he made her
take men's clothes, embarked her, and after a prosperous voyage they
arrived at Leghorn, and went from thence as speedily as they could to a
little estate near Siena, which Niccolo possessed. Having enquired into
many particulars, they were informed, to their very great grief, that
Marriotto had three days before been executed. This fatal news was,
indeed, a last stroke of cruel fortune. This was too much; tears
could no longer flow; death and despair were indelibly traced in her
countenance. Niccolo tried to comfort her, and at last determined, as
secretly as possible, to place her in a convent, where, without
making her known to the abbess, she might be taken care of. In this he
succeeded; but intense grief, which totally deprived her of sleep and
food, in a few days relieved her from all her sorrows, and she expired
calling on her beloved Marriotto.



THE COUNTERPARTS

Messer Basilio, of Milan, who had fixed his residence in Pisa, on his
return from Paris, where he had pursued the study of physic, having
accumulated, by industry and extraordinary skill, a good fortune,
married a young woman of Pisa, of very slender fortune, and fatherless
and motherless; by her he had three sons, and a daughter who in due time
was married in Pisa; the eldest son was likewise married, the younger
one was at school; the middle one, whose name was Lazarus, although
great sums had been spent upon his education, made nothing of it; he was
naturally idle and stupid, of a sour and melancholy disposition; a man
of few words, and obstinate to such a degree, that if once he had said
no to any thing, nothing upon earth could make him alter his mind. His
father, finding him so extremely troublesome, determined to get rid of
him, and sent him to a beautiful estate he had lately bought at a small
distance from town.

There he lived contented, more proud of the society of clowns and
clodpoles, than the acquaintance of civilized people. While Lazarus was
thus living quietly in his own way, there happened about ten years after
a dreadful mortality in Pisa; people were seized with a violent fever,
they then fell into a sleep suddenly, and died in that state. The
disease was catching; Basilio, as well as other physicians, exerted
their utmost skill, as well for their own interest as the general good;
but ill fortune would have it that he caught the infection and died. The
contagion was such that not one individual of the family escaped death,
except an old woman servant. The raging disease having ceased at last,
Lazarus was induced to return to Pisa, where he inherited the extensive
estates and riches of his father. Many were the efforts made by
the different families to induce him to marry their daughters,
notwithstanding they were aware of his boorish disposition; but nothing
would avail. He said he was resolved to wait four years before he would
marry; so that his obstinate disposition being well known, they ceased
their importunities. Lazarus, intent upon pleasing himself alone, would
not associate with any living soul. There was, however, one poor man,
named Gabriel, who lived in a small house opposite to him, with his wife
Dame Santa. This poor fellow was an excellent fisherman and birdcatcher,
made nets, &c. and what with that, and the assistance of his wife, who
spun, he made shift to keep his family, consisting of two children, a
boy of five, and a girl of three years old. Now it happened that this
Gabriel was a perfect likeness of Lazarus; both were red haired, had the
same length of beard, every feature, size, gait, and voice so perfectly
alike, that one would have sworn they were twins; and had they both been
dressed alike, certainly no one but would have mistaken the one for
the other; the wife herself would have been deceived, but for the
clothes--those of Lazarus being fine cloth, and her husband's of coarse
wool of a different colour. Lazarus, observing tins extraordinary
resemblance, could not help fancying that there must be something in
it, and began to familiarise himself with his society, sent his wife
presents of eatables, wines, &c. and often invited Gabriel to dinner
or supper with him, and conversed with him. Gabriel, though poor and
untaught, was shrewd and sagacious, and knew well how to get on the
blind side of any one; he so humoured him, that at last Lazarus could
not rest an instant without his company. One day, after dinner, they
entered into conversation on the subject of fishing, and the different
modes of catching fish, and at last came to the fishing by diving with
small nets fastened to the neck and arms; and Gabriel told him of the
immense numbers of large fish which were caught in that manner, insomuch
that Lazarus became very anxious to know how one could fish diving, and
begged of him to let him see how he did it. Upon which Gabriel said he
was very willing, and it being a hot summer's day, they might easily
take the sport, if he too were willing. Having risen from table, Gabriel
marched out, fetched his nets, and away they went. They arrived on the
borders of the Arno, in a shady place surrounded by elders; there he
requested Lazarus to sit and look on. After stripping, and fastening
the nets about him, he dived in the river, and being very expert at the
sport, he soon rose again with eight or ten fish of terrible size in his
nets. Lazarus could not think how it was possible to catch so many fish
under water; it so astonished him, that he determined to try it himself.
The day was broiling hot, and he thought it would cool him. By the
assistance of Gabriel he undressed, and the latter conducted him in at
a pleasant part of the shore, where the water was scarcely knee deep.
There he left him with nets, giving him charge not to go farther than
the stake which he pointed out to him. Lazarus, who had never before
been in the water, was delighted at its coolness, and observing how
often Gabriel rose up with nets full of fish, bethought himself one must
see under as well as above water, otherwise it would be impossible to
catch the fish in the dark, therefore, in order to ascertain the point,
without thinking of consequences, he put his head under water, and
dashed forward beyond the stake. Down he went like a piece of lead; not
aware he should hold his breath, and knowing nothing of swimming, he
struggled hard to raise himself above the surface. He was almost stifled
with the water he had swallowed, and was carried away by the current
so that he very shortly lost his senses. Gabriel, who was very busy
catching a great deal of fish in a very good place, did not care to
leave it; therefore, poor Lazarus, after rising half dead two or three
times, sunk at last never to rise again. Gabriel, after he had got as
much fish as he thought would do for him, joyfully turned round to show
Lazarus his sport; he looked round and did not see him, he then sought
him every where, but not finding him, he became quite alarmed, and
terrified at the sight of the poor fellow's clothes that were laid on
the bank. He dived, and sought the body, and found it at last driven
by the current on the beach; at the sight he almost lost his senses;
he stood motionless, not knowing what to do, for he feared, that in
relating the truth, people would think it was all a lie, and that he had
drowned him, himself, in order to get his money. Driven thus almost to
despair, a thought struck him, and he determined to put it in instant
execution. There was no witness to the fact, for every one was asleep,
it being the heat of the day; he, therefore, took the fish, and put
them safe in a basket, and for that purpose, took the dead body on his
shoulders, heavy as it was, laid him on some grass, put his own breeches
on the dead limbs, untied the nets from his own arms, and tied them
tight to the arms of the corpse. This done, he took hold of him, dived
into the water, and tied him fast with the nets to the stake under
water. He then came on shore, slipped on Lazarus's shirt, and all
his clothes, and even his fine shoes, and sat himself down on a bank,
determining to try his luck first in saving himself from his perilous
situation, and next to try whether he might not, from his extreme
likeness to Lazarus, make his fortune and live at ease. Being a bold
and sagacious fellow, he immediately undertook the daring and dangerous
experiment, and began to cry out with all his might and main, "Oh! good
people, help! help! run and help the poor fisherman, who is drowning."
He roared out so, that at last the miller, who lived not far off, came
running with I know not how many of his men. Gabriel spoke with a gruff
voice, the better to imitate that of Lazarus, and weepingly related that
the fisherman, after diving and catching a good deal of fish, had gone
again, and that as he had been above an hour under water, he was afraid
he was drowned; they, enquiring what part of the river he had gone to,
he shewed them the stake and place. The miller, who could swim very
well, rushed in towards the stake, and found the corpse, but being
unable to extricate it from the stake, rose up again and cried out, "Oh!
yes he is dead sure enough, but I cannot get him up by myself," upon which
two others stripped, and got the body out, whose arms and limbs were
lacerated by the nets, which (as they thought) had entangled him, and
caused his death. The news being spread abroad, a priest came, the
corpse was put in a coffin and carried to a small church, that it might
be owned by the family of Gabriel. The dreadful news had already reached
Pisa, and the unfortunate wife, with her weeping children, came to the
church, and there beholding her beloved husband, as she thought, she
hung over him, wept, sobbed, tore her hair, and became almost frantic,
insomuch that the bystanders were moved to tears. Gabriel, who was a
most loving husband and father, could scarce refrain from weeping,
and seeing the extreme affliction of his wife, came forward, keeping
Lazarus's hat over his eyes, and his handkerchief to his face as it were
to wipe away his tears, and approaching the widow, who took him, as well
as others, for Lazarus, he said, in the hearing of all the people, "good
woman, do not give, way to such sorrow, nor weep so, for I will, not
forsake you; as it was to oblige me, and afford me pleasure, that he
went a fishing to-day against his inclination, methinks it is partly
to me he owed his death, therefore I will ever be a friend to thee
and thine; all expenses shall be paid, therefore return home and be
comforted, for while I live thou shalt never want, and should I die
I will leave thee enough to make thee as comfortable as any of thy
equals." Thus he went on, weeping and sobbing, as if regretting the loss
of Gabriel, and really agonized by the distress of his widow. He was
inwardly praised by all present, who believed him to be Lazarus.

The poor widow, after the funeral was performed, returned to Pisa, much
comforted by the promises of him, whom she considered as her neighbour
Lazarus. Gabriel, who had been long acquainted with the deceased's ways,
manners, and mode of living, entered Lazarus's house, as if the master
of it; without uttering a syllable, ascended into a very beautiful room
that looked over a fine garden, pulled out of the dead man's coat he had
on a bunch of keys, and opened several chests, and finding some smaller
keys, he opened several desks, bureaus, money chests, and found,
independent of trunks filled with cloth, linen and jewels, which the old
father, the physician, and brothers of the deceased had left, nearly to
the value of two thousand gold florins, and four hundred of silver. He
was in raptures all the night, and began to think of the best means to
conceal himself from the servants, and appear as the real Lazarus. About
the hour of supper he came out of his room, weeping; the servants, who
had heard the dreadful situation of the Widow Santa, and that it was
reported that their master had partly been the cause of the accident,
were not much surprised at seeing him thus afflicted, thinking it was
on account of Gabriel. He called the servant and desired him to take a
couple of loaves, two bottles of wine, and half his supper to the Widow
Santa, the which the poor widow scarcely touched. When the servant
returned, Gabriel ordered supper but ate sparingly, the better to
deceive the servants, as Lazarus was a very little eater; then left the
room without saying a word, and shut himself up in his own room as the
deceased used to do. The servants thought there was some alteration in
his countenance and voice, but attributed it to the sorrowful event
that had occurred. The widow, after having tasted of the supper, and
considering the care that had been taken of her, and the promises made
by Lazarus, began to take comfort, parted with her relations, who had
come to condole with her, and retired to bed. Gabriel, full of thought,
could not sleep a wink, and got up in the morning at Lazarus's usual
hour, and in all things imitated him. But being informed by the servants
that Santa was always in grief, weeping and discomforted, and being a
fond husband, and loving her tenderly, he was miserable upon hearing
this, and determined to comfort her. Thus resolved, one day after dinner
he went to her, and found a cousin of her's with her. Having given her
to understand he had some private business with her, the cousin knowing
how much she was indebted to him, and her expectations, left the room,
and departed, saying, he begged she would be advised by her worthy
neighbour.

As soon as he was gone, he shut the door, went into his room and
motioned her to follow; she, struck with the singularity of the case,
and fearing for her honor, did not know what to do, whether she should,
or she should not follow; yet thinking of his kindness, and the hopes
she had from his liberality, and taking her eldest son by the hand, she
went into the room, where she found him lying on a little bed, on which
her husband used to lie when tired; upon which she started and stopped.
Gabriel, seeing her come with her son, smiled with pleasurable feelings
at the purity of his wife's conduct; one word that he uttered, which he
was in the habit of using, staggered the poor Santa, so that she could
not utter a syllable. Gabriel, pressing the poor boy to his breast,
said, "thy mother weeps unaware of thy happy fate, her own, and her
husband's." Yet not daring to trust himself before him, though but a
child, he took him into the next room, gave him money to play with, and
left him there. Returning to his wife, who had caught his words, and
partly recognized him, he double-locked the door, and related to her
every circumstance that had happened, and how he had managed every
thing; she, delighted and convinced from the repetition of certain
family secrets, known to themselves alone, embraced him, giving him
as many kisses as she had bestowed tears for his death, for both were
loving and tenderly attached. After reciprocal marks of each other's
affection, Gabriel said to her that she must be perfectly silent, and
pointed out to her how happy their life would hereafter prove; he told
her of the riches he had found, and what he intended to do, the which
highly delighted her. In going out, Santa pretended to cry on opening
the street door, and said aloud, that she might be heard by the
neighbours, "I recommend these poor fatherless children to you, signor!"
to which he answered, "fear not, good Mrs. Santa," and walked away, full
of thoughts on his future plans. When evening came on, observing the
same uniform conduct of his predecessor, he went to bed, but could not
sleep for thinking. No sooner did the dawn appear than he rose and went
to the church of St. Catherine, where a devout and worthy pastor dwelt,
and who was considered by all the Pisanians as a little saint: friar
Angelico appearing, Gabriel told him he wanted to speak to him on
particular business, and to have his advice upon a very important and
singular case that had happened to him. The kind friar, although he did
not know him, led him into his room. Gabriel, who well knew the whole
genealogy of Lazarus, son of Basilio of Milan, related it fully to
the friar, likewise the dreadful accident, adding, that he considered
himself as a principal cause of it, making him believe it was he
who induced the unfortunate man to go a fishing against his will;
he represented the mischief which resulted from it to the widow and
children of the deceased, and that he considered himself so much the
cause of it, and felt such a weight on his conscience, that he had made
up his mind, though Santa was of low condition, and poor, to take her
for his wife, if she and her friends approved of it, and to take the
children of the poor fisherman under his care as his own; bring them up
with his own children, should he have any, and leave them co-heirs with
them; this, he said, would reconcile him to himself and his Maker,
and be approved by men. The holy man, seeing the worthy motives which
actuated him, approved of his intention, and recommended as little delay
as possible, since he would thereby meet with forgiveness. Gabriel, in
order the more effectually to secure his ready cooperation, threw down
thirty pieces of money, saying, that in the three succeeding Mondays
he wished high mass to be sung for the soul of the deceased. At this
tempting sight the friar, although a very saint, leaped with joy, took
the cash, and said, "my son, the masses shall be sung next Monday; there
is nothing more to attend to now but the marriage, a ceremony which I
advise thee to hasten as much as thou canst; do not think of riches or
noble birth; thou art, thank heaven, rich enough; and as to birth, we
are all children of one father; true nobility consists in virtue and the
fear of God, nor is the good woman deficient in either; I know her well,
and most of her relations."

"Oh, Father," said Gabriel, "I am come to you for the very purpose,
therefore, I pray you, put me quickly in the way to forward the
business."

"When will you give her the ring?" said the holy man. "This very day,"
he answered, "if she be inclined."

"Well," said the friar, "go thy ways, and leave all to me; go home, and
stir not from thence--these blessed nuptials shall take place." Gabriel
thanked him, received his blessing, and went home. The holy father
carefully put the cash in his desk, then went to an uncle of Dame Santa,
a shoemaker by trade, and a cousin of hers, a barber, and related to
them what had happened; after which they went together to Dame Santa,
and used every possible argument to persuade her to consent to the
match, the which she feigned great difficulty in consenting to, saying
that it was merely for the advantage of her children that she submitted
to such a thing. I will only add, that the very same morning, by
the exertions of the friar, they were married a second time; great
rejoicings took place, and Gabriel and his wife laughed heartily at the
simplicity of the good friar, and the credulity of the relations and
neighbours. They happily lived in peace and plenty, provided for and
dismissed the old servants; were blessed with two more children, whom
he named _Fortunatus_, and from whom afterward sprung some of the most
renowned men, both in arms and letters.

THE END.





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