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Title: The Decameron, Volume I
Author: Boccaccio, Giovanni
Language: English
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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.

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The Decameron


Giovanni Boccaccio

Faithfully Translated

By J.M. Rigg

with illustrations by Louis Chalon





NOVEL I. - Ser Ciappelletto cheats a holy friar by a false confession, and
dies; and, having lived as a very bad man, is, on his death, reputed a
saint, and called San Ciappelletto.

NOVEL II. - Abraham, a Jew, at the instance of Jehannot de Chevigny, goes to
the court of Rome, and having marked the evil life of clergy, returns to
Paris, and becomes a Christian.

NOVEL III. - Melchisedech, a Jew, by a story of three rings averts a danger
with which he was menaced by Saladin.

NOVEL IV. - A monk lapses into a sin meriting the most severe punishment,
justly censures the same fault in his abbot, and thus evades the penalty.

NOVEL V. - The Marchioness of Monferrato by a banquet of hens seasoned with
wit checks the mad passion of the King of France.

NOVEL VI. - A worthy man by an apt saying puts to shame the wicked hypocrisy
of the religious.

NOVEL VII. - Bergamino, with a story of Primasso and the Abbot of Cluny,
finely censures a sudden access of avarice in Messer Cane della Scala.

NOVEL VIII. - Guglielmo Borsiere by a neat retort sharply censures avarice
in Messer Ermino de' Grimaldi.

NOVEL IX. - The censure of a Gascon lady converts the King of Cyprus from a
churlish to an honourable temper.

NOVEL X. - Master Alberto da Bologna honourably puts to shame a lady who
sought occasion to put him to shame in that he was in love with her.


NOVEL I. - Martellino pretends to be a paralytic, and makes it appear as if
he were cured by being placed upon the body of St. Arrigo. His trick is
detected; he is beaten and arrested, and is in peril of hanging, but finally

NOVEL II. - Rinaldo d'Asti is robbed, arrives at Castel Guglielmo, and is
entertained by a widow lady; his property is restored to him, and he returns
home safe and sound.

NOVEL III. - Three young men squander their substance and are reduced to
poverty. Their nephew, returning home a desperate man, falls in with an
abbot, in whom he discovers the daughter of the King of England. She marries
him, and he retrieves the losses and re-establishes the fortune of his

NOVEL IV. - Landolfo Ruffolo is reduced to poverty, turns corsair, is
captured by Genoese, is shipwrecked, escapes on a chest full of jewels, and,
being cast ashore at Corfu, is hospitably entertained by a woman, and
returns home wealthy.

NOVEL V. - Andreuccio da Perugia comes to Naples to buy horses, meets with
three serious adventures in one night, comes safe out of them all, and
returns home with a ruby.

NOVEL VI. - Madam Beritola loses two sons, is found with two kids on an
island, goes thence to Lunigiana, where one of her sons takes service with
her master, and lies with his daughter, for which he is put in prison.
Sicily rebels against King Charles, the son is recognized by the mother,
marries the master's daughter, and, his brother being discovered, is
reinstated in great honour.

NOVEL VII. - The Soldan of Babylon sends one of his daughters overseas,
designing to marry her to the King of Algarve. By divers adventures she
comes in the space of four years into the hands of nine men in divers place.
At last she is restored to her father, whom she quits again in the guise of
a virgin, and, as was at first intended, is married to the King of Algarve.

NOVEL VIII. - The Count of Antwerp, labouring under a false accusation, goes
into exile. He leaves his two children in different places in England, and
takes service in Ireland. Returning to England an unknown man, he finds his
sons prosperous. He serves as a groom in the army of the King of France; his
innocence is established, and he is restored to his former honours.

NOVEL IX. - Bernabo of Genoa, deceived by Ambrogiuolo, loses his money and
commands his innocent wife to be put to death. She escapes, habits herself
as a man, and serves the Soldan. She discovers the deceiver, and brings
Bernabo to Alexandria, where the deceiver is punished. She then resumes the
garb of a woman, and with her husband returns wealthy to Genoa.

NOVEL X. - Paganino da Monaco carries off the wife of Messer Ricciardo di
Chinzica, who, having learned where she is, goes to Paganino and in a
friendly manner asks him to restore her. He consents, provided she be
willing. She refuses to go back with her husband. Messer Ricciardo dies, and
she marries Paganino.


NOVEL I. - Masetto da Lamporecchio feigns to be dumb, and obtains a
gardener's place at a convent of women, who with one accord make haste to
lie with him.

NOVEL II. - A groom lies with the wife of King Agilulf, who learns the fact,
keeps his own counsel, finds out the groom and shears him. The shorn shears
all his fellows, and so comes safe out of the scrape.

NOVEL III. - Under cloak of confession and a most spotless conscience, a
lady, enamoured of a young man, induces a booby friar unwittingly to provide
a means to the entire gratification of her passion.

NOVEL IV. - Dom Felice instructs Fra Puccio how to attain blessedness by
doing a penance. Fra Puccio does the penance, and meanwhile Dom Felice has a
good time with Fra Puccio's wife.

NOVEL V. - Zima gives a palfrey to Messer Francesco Vergellesi, who in
return suffers him to speak with his wife. She keeping silence, he answers
in her stead, and the sequel is in accordance with his answer.

NOVEL VI. - Ricciardo Minutolo loves the wife of Filippello Fighinolfi, and
knowing her to be jealous, makes her believe that his own wife is to meet
Filippello at a bagnio on the ensuing day; whereby she is induced to go
thither, where, thinking to have been with her husband, she discovers that
she has tarried with Ricciardo.

NOVEL VII. - Tedaldo, being in disfavour with his lady, departs from
Florence. He returns thither after a while in the guise of a pilgrim, has
speech of his lady, and makes her sensible of her fault. Her husband,
convicted of slaying him, he delivers from peril of death, reconciles him
with his brothers, and thereafter discreetly enjoys his lady.

NOVEL VIII. Ÿ Ferondo, having taken a certain powder, is interred for dead;
is disinterred by the abbot, who enjoys his wife; is put in prison and
taught to believe that he is in purgatory; is then resuscitated, and rears
as his own a boy begotten by the abbot upon his wife.

NOVEL IX. - Gillette of Narbonne cures the King of France of a fistula,
craves for spouse Bertrand de Roussillon, who marries her against his will,
and hies him in despite to Florence, where, as he courts a young woman,
Gillette lies with him in her stead, and has two sons by him; for which
cause he afterwards takes her into favour and entreats her as his wife.

NOVEL X. - Alibech turns hermit, and is taught by Rustico, a monk, how the
Devil is put in hell. She is afterwards conveyed thence, and becomes the
wife of Neerbale.


NOVEL I. - Tancred, Prince of Salerno, slays his daughter's lover, and sends
her his heart in a golden cup: she pours upon it a poisonous distillation,
which she drinks and dies.

NOVEL II. - Fra Alberto gives a lady to understand that she is beloved of
the Angel Gabriel, in whose shape he lies with her sundry times; afterward,
for fear of her kinsmen, he flings himself forth of her house, and finds
shelter in the house of a poor man, who on the morrow leads him in the guise
of a wild man into the piazza, where, being recognized, he is apprehended by
his brethren and imprisoned.

NOVEL III. - Three young men love three sisters, and flee with them to
Crete. The eldest of the sisters slays her lover for jealousy. The second
saves the life of the first by yielding herself to the Duke of Crete. Her
lover slays her, and makes off with the first: the third sister and her
lover are charged with the murder, are arrested and confess the crime. They
escape death by bribing the guards, flee destitute to Rhodes, and there in
destitution die.

NOVEL IV. - Gerbino, in breach of the plighted faith of his grandfather,
King Guglielmo, attacks a ship of the King of Tunis to rescue thence his
daughter. She being slain by those aboard the ship, he slays them, and
afterwards he is beheaded.

NOVEL V. - Lisabetta's brothers slay her lover: he appears to her in a
dream, and shews her where he is buried: she privily disinters the head, and
sets it in a pot of basil, whereon she daily weeps a great while. The pot
being taken from her by her brothers, she dies not long after.

NOVEL VI. - Andreuola loves Gabriotto: she tells him a dream that she has
had; he tells her a dream of his own, and dies suddenly in her arms. While
she and her maid are carrying his corpse to his house, they are taken by the
Signory. She tells how the matter stands, is threatened with violence by the
Podesta, but will not brook it. Her father hears how she is bested, and, her
innocence being established, causes her to be set at large; but she, being
minded to tarry no longer in the world, becomes a nun.

NOVEL VII. - Simona loves Pasquino; they are together in a garden, Pasquino
rubs a leaf of sage against his teeth, and dies; Simona is arrested, and,
with intent to shew the judge how Pasquino died, rubs one of the leaves of
the same plant against her teeth, and likewise dies.

NOVEL VIII. - Girolamo loves Salvestra: yielding to his mother's prayers he
goes to Paris; he returns to find Salvestra married; he enters her house by
stealth, lays himself by her side, and dies; he is borne to the church,
where Salvestra lays herself by his side, and dies.

Nova IX. - Sieur Guillaume de Roussillon slays his wife's paramour, Sieur
Guillaume de Cabestaing, and gives her his heart to eat. She, coming to wit
thereof, throws herself from a high window to the ground, and dies, and is
buried with her lover.

NOVEL X. - The wife of a leech, deeming her lover, who has taken an opiate,
to be dead, puts him in a chest, which, with him therein, two usurers carry
off to their house. He comes to himself, and is taken for a thief; but, the
lady's maid giving the Signory to understand that she had put him in the
chest which the usurers stole, he escapes the gallows, and the usurers are
mulcted in moneys for the theft of the chest.



The lady and the friar (third day, third story) - Frontispiece

The three rings (first day, third story)

The dinner of hens (first day, fifth story)

Rinaldo D'Asti and the widow lady (second day, second story)

Alatiel dancing (second day, seventh story)

The wedding party (fourth day, introduction)

The daughter of the King of Tunis (fourth day, fourth story)

Simona and Pasquino (fourth day, seventh story)


Son of a merchant, Boccaccio di Chellino di Buonaiuto, of Certaldo in Val
d'Elsa, a little town about midway between Empoli and Siena, but within the
Florentine "contado," Giovanni Boccaccio was born, most probably at Paris,
in the year 1313. His mother, at any rate, was a Frenchwoman, whom his
father seduced during a sojourn at Paris, and afterwards deserted. So much
as this Boccaccio has himself told us, under a transparent veil of allegory,
in his Ameto. Of his mother we would fain know more, for his wit has in it
a quality, especially noticeable in the Tenth Novel of the Sixth Day of the
Decameron, which marks him out as the forerunner of Rabelais, and prompts us
to ask how much more his genius may have owed to his French ancestry. His
father was of sufficient standing in Florence to be chosen Prior in 1321;
but this brief term of office--but two months--was his last, as well as his
first experience of public life. Of Boccaccio's early years we know nothing
more than that his first preceptor was the Florentine grammarian, Giovanni
da Strada, father of the poet Zanobi da Strada, and that, when he was about
ten years old, he was bound apprentice to a merchant, with whom he spent
the next six years at Paris, whence he returned to Florence with an
inveterate repugnance to commerce. His father then proposed to make a
canonist of him; but the study of Gratian proved hardly more congenial than
the routine of the counting-house to the lad, who had already evinced a
taste for letters; and a sojourn at Naples, where under the regime of the
enlightened King Robert there were coteries of learned men, and even Greek
was not altogether unknown, decided his future career. According to Filippo
Villani his choice was finally fixed by a visit to the tomb of Vergil on the
Via Puteolana, and, though the modern critical spirit is apt to discount such
stories, there can be no doubt that such a pilgrimage would be apt to make a
deep, and perhaps enduring, impression upon a nature ardent and sensitive,
and already conscious of extraordinary powers. His stay at Naples was also in
another respect a turning point in his life; for it was there that, as we
gather from the Filocopo, he first saw the blonde beauty, Maria, natural
daughter of King Robert, whom he has immortalized as Fiammetta. The place was
the church of San Lorenzo, the day the 26th of March, 1334. Boccaccio's
admiring gaze was observed by the lady, who, though married, proved no Laura,
and forthwith returned his love in equal measure. Their liaison lasted several
years, during which Boccaccio recorded the various phases of their passion
with exemplary assiduity in verse and prose. Besides paying her due and
discreet homage in sonnet and canzone, he associated her in one way or another,
not only with the Filocopo (his prose romance of Florio and Biancofiore, which
he professes to have written to pleasure her), but with the Ameto, the Amorosa
Visione, the Teseide, and the Filostrato; and in L'Amorosa Fiammetta he wove
out of their relations a romance in which her lover, who is there called
Pamfilo, plays Aeneas to her Dido, though with somewhat less tragic
consequences. The Proem to the Decameron shews us the after-glow of his
passion; the lady herself appears as one of the "honourable company," and
her portrait, as in the act of receiving the laurel wreath at the close of
the Fourth Day, is a masterpiece of tender and delicate delineation.

Boccaccio appears to have been recalled to Florence by his father in 1341;
and it was probably in that year that he wrote L'Amorosa Fiammetta and the
allegorical prose pastoral (with songs interspersed) which he entitled
Ameto, and in which Fiammetta masquerades in green as one of the nymphs.
The Amorosa Visione, written about the same time, is not only an allegory but
an acrostic, the initial letters of its fifteen hundred triplets composing two
sonnets and a ballade in honour of Fiammetta, whom he here for once ventures
to call by her true name. Later came the Teseide, or romance of Palamon and
Arcite, the first extant rendering of the story, in twelve books, and the
Filostrato, nine books of the loves and woes of Troilus and Cressida. Both
these poems are in ottava rima, a metre which, if Boccaccio did not invent
it, he was the first to apply to such a purpose. Both works were dedicated
to Fiammetta. A graceful idyll in the same metre, Ninfale Fiesolano, was
written later, probably at Naples in 1345. King Robert was then dead, but
Boccaccio enjoyed the favour of Queen Joan, of somewhat doubtful memory, at
whose instance he hints in one of his later letters that he wrote the
Decameron. Without impugning Boccaccio's veracity we can hardly but think
that the Decameron would have seen the light, though Queen Joan had withheld
her encouragement. He had probably been long meditating it, and gathering
materials for it, and we may well suppose that the outbreak of the plague in
1348, by furnishing him with a sombre background to heighten the effect of
his motley pageant, had far more to do with accelerating the composition
than aught that Queen Joan may have said.

That Boccaccio was not at Florence during the pestilence is certain; but we
need not therefore doubt the substantial accuracy of his marvellous
description of the state of the stricken city, for the course and
consequences of the terrible visitation must have been much the same in all
parts of Italy, and as to Florence in particular, Boccaccio could have no
difficulty in obtaining detailed and abundant information from credible
eye-witnesses. The introduction of Fiammetta, who was in all probability at
Naples at the time, and in any case was not a Florentine, shews, however,
that he is by no means to be taken literally, and renders it extremely
probable that the facetious, irrepressible, and privileged Dioneo is no
other than himself. At the same time we cannot deem it either impossible,
or very unlikely, that in the general relaxation of morale, which the plague
brought in its train, refuge from care and fear was sought in the diversions
which he describes by some of those who had country-seats to which to
withdraw, and whether the "contado" was that of Florence or that of Naples
is a matter of no considerable importance. (1) It is probable that
Boccaccio's father was one of the victims of the pestilence; for he was dead
in 1350, when his son returned to Florence to live thenceforth on the modest
patrimony which he inherited. It must have been about this time that he
formed an intimacy with Petrarch, which, notwithstanding marked diversity
of temperament, character and pursuits, was destined to be broken only by
death. Despite his complaints of the malevolence of his critics in the Proem
to the Fourth Day of the Decameron, he had no lack of appreciation on the
part of his fellow-citizens, and was employed by the Republic on several
missions; to Bologna, probably with the view of averting the submission of
that city to the Visconti in 1350; to Petrarch at Padua in March 1351, with
a letter from the Priors announcing his restitution to citizenship, and
inviting him to return to Florence, and assume the rectorship of the newly
founded university; to Ludwig of Brandenburg with overtures for an alliance
against the Visconti in December of the same year; and in the spring of 1354
to Pope Innocent VI. at Avignon in reference to the approaching visit of the
Emperor Charles IV. to Italy. About this time, 1354-5, he threw off, in
striking contrast to his earlier works, an invective against women, entitled
Laberinto d'Amore, otherwise Corbaccio, a coarse performance occasioned by
resentment at what he deemed capricious treatment by a lady to whom he had
made advances. To the same period, though the date cannot be precisely fixed,
belongs his Life of Dante, a work of but mediocre merit. Somewhat later, it
would seem, he began the study of Greek under one Leontius Pilatus, a
Calabrian, who possessed some knowledge of that language, and sought to pass
himself off as a Greek by birth.

Leontius was of coarse manners and uncertain temper, but Boccaccio was his
host and pupil for some years, and eventually procured him the chair of
Greek in the university of Florence. How much Greek Boccaccio learned from
him, and how far he may have been beholden to him in the compilation of
his elaborate Latin treatise De Genealogia Deorum, in which he essayed with
very curious results to expound the inner meaning of mythology, it is
impossible to say. In 1361 he seems to have had serious thoughts of
devoting himself to religion, being prodigiously impressed by the menaces,
monitions and revelations of a dying Carthusian of Siena. One of the
revelations concerned a matter which Boccaccio had supposed to be known only
to Petrarch and himself. He accordingly confided his anxiety to Petrarch,
who persuaded him to amend his life without renouncing the world. In 1362
he revisited Naples, and in the following year spent three months with
Petrarch at Venice. In 1365 he was sent by the Republic of Florence on a
mission of conciliation to Pope Urban V. at Avignon. He was employed on a
like errand on the Pope's return to Rome in 1367. In 1368 he revisited
Venice, and in 1371 Naples; but in May 1372 he returned to Florence, where
on 25th August 1373 he was appointed lecturer on the Divina Commedia, with
a yearly stipend of 100 fiorini d'oro. His lectures, of which the first
was delivered in the church of San Stefano near the Ponte Vecchio, were
discontinued owing to ill health, doubtless aggravated by the distress which
the death of Petrarch (20th July 1374) could not but cause him, when he had
got no farther than the seventeenth Canto of the Inferno. His commentary is
still occasionally quoted. He died, perhaps in the odour of sanctity, for
in later life he was a diligent collector of relics, at Certaldo on 21st
December 1375, and was buried in the parish church. His tomb was desecrated,
and his remains were dispersed, owing, it is said, to a misunderstanding,
towards the close of the eighteenth century. His library, which by his
direction was placed in the Convent of Santo Spirito at Florence, was
destroyed by fire about a century after his death.

Besides the De Genealogia Deorum Boccaccio wrote other treatises in Latin,
which need not here be specified, and sixteen Eclogues in the same language,
of which he was by no means a master. As for his minor works in the
vernacular, the earlier of them shew that he had not as yet wrought himself
free from the conventionalism which the polite literature of Italy inherited
from the Sicilians. It is therefore inevitable that the twentieth century
should find the Filocopo, Ameto, and Amorosa Visione tedious reading. The
Teseide determined the form in which Pulci, Boiardo, Bello, Ariosto, Tasso,
and, with a slight modification, our own Spenser were to write, but its
readers are now few, and are not likely ever again to be numerous. Chaucer
drew upon it for the Knight's Tale, but it is at any rate arguable that his
retrenchment of its perhaps inordinate length was judicious, and that what
he gave was better than what he borrowed. Still, that it had such a redactor
as Chaucer is no small testimony to its merit; nor was it only in the
Knight's Tale that he was indebted to it: the description of the Temple of
Love in the Parlement of Foules is taken almost word for word from it. Even
more considerable and conspicuous is Chaucer's obligation to Boccaccio in
the Troilus and Criseyde, about a third of which is borrowed from the
Filostrato. Nor is it a little remarkable that the same man, that in the
Teseide and Filostrato founded the chivalrous epic, should also and in the
same period of his literary activity, have written the first and not the
least powerful and artistic of psychologic romances, for even such is
L'Amorosa Fiammetta.

But whatever may be the final verdict of criticism upon these minor works of
Boccaccio, it is impossible to imagine an age in which the Decameron will
fail of general recognition as, in point alike of invention as of style, one
of the most notable creations of human genius. Of few books are the sources
so recondite, insomuch that it seems to be certain that in the main they
must have be merely oral tradition, and few have exercised so wide and
mighty an influence. The profound, many-sided and intimate knowledge of
human nature which it evinces, its vast variety of incident, its wealth
of tears and laughter, its copious and felicitous diction, inevitably apt
for every occasion, and, notwithstanding the frequent harshness, and
occasional obscurity of its at times tangled, at times laboured periods,
its sustained energy and animation of style must ever ensure for this human
comedy unchallenged rank among the literary masterpieces that are truly

The Decameron was among the earliest of printed books, Venice leading the
way with a folio edition in 1471, Mantua following suit in 1472, and
Vicenza in 1478. A folio edition, adorned, with most graceful wood-
engravings, was published at Venice in 1492. Notwithstanding the freedom
with which in divers passages Boccaccio reflected on the morals of the
clergy, the Roman Curia spared the book, which the austere Savonarola
condemned to the flames. The tradition that the Decameron was among the
pile of "vanities" burned by Savonarola in the Piazza della Signoria on
the last day of the Carnival of 1497, little more than a year before he
was himself burned there, is so intrinsically probable--and accords so
well with the extreme paucity of early copies of the work--that it would
be the very perversity of scepticism to doubt it. It is by no means to
the credit of our country that, except to scholars, it long remained in
England, an almost entirely closed book. (2) Indeed the first nominally
complete English translation, a sadly mutilated and garbled rendering of
the French version by Antoine Le Macon, did not appear till 1620, and
though successive redactions brought it nearer to the original, it
remained at the best but a sorry faute de mieux. Such as it was,
however, our forefathers were perforce fain to be content with it.

The first Englishman to render the whole Decameron direct from the Italian
was Mr. John Payne; but his work, printed for the Villon Society in 1886,
was only for private circulation, and those least inclined to disparage
its merits may deem its style somewhat too archaic and stilted adequately
to render the vigour and vivacity of the original. Accordingly in the
present version an attempt has been made to hit the mean between archaism
and modernism, and to secure as much freedom and spirit as is compatible
with substantial accuracy.

(1) As to the palaces in which the scene is laid, Manni (Istoria del
Decamerone, Par. ii. cap. ii.) identifies the first with a villa near
Fiesole, which can be no other than the Villa Palmieri, and the second (ib.
cap. lxxvi.) with the Podere della Fonte, or so-called Villa del Boccaccio,
near Camerata. Baldelli's theory, adopted by Mrs. Janet Ann Ross (Florentine
Villas, 1901), that the Villa di Poggio Gherardi was the first, and the
Villa Palmieri the second, retreat is not to be reconciled with Boccaccio's
descriptions. The Villa Palmieri is not remote enough for the second and
more sequestered retreat, nor is it, as that is said to have been, situate
on a low hill amid a plain, but on the lower Fiesolean slope. The most
rational supposition would seem to be that Boccaccio, who had seen many a
luxurious villa, freely combined his experiences in the description of his
palaces and pleasaunces, and never expected to be taken au pied de la

(2) Nevertheless Shakespeare derived indirectly the plot of All's Well that
Ends Well from the Ninth Novel of the Third Day, and an element in the plot
of Cymbeline from the Ninth Novel of the Second Day.

Beginneth here the book called Decameron, otherwise Prince Galeotto, wherein
are contained one hundred novels told in ten days by seven ladies and three
young men.


'Tis humane to have compassion on the afflicted and as it shews well in all,
so it is especially demanded of those who have had need of comfort and have
found it in others: among whom, if any had ever need thereof or found it
precious or delectable, I may be numbered; seeing that from my early youth
even to the present I was beyond measure aflame with a most aspiring and
noble love (1) more perhaps than, were I to enlarge upon it, would seem to
accord with my lowly condition. Whereby, among people of discernment to
whose knowledge it had come, I had much praise and high esteem, but
nevertheless extreme discomfort and suffering not indeed by reason of
cruelty on the part of the beloved lady, but through superabundant ardour
engendered in the soul by ill-bridled desire; the which, as it allowed me no
reasonable period of quiescence, frequently occasioned me an inordinate
distress. In which distress so much relief was afforded me by the delectable
discourse of a friend and his commendable consolations, that I entertain a
very solid conviction that to them I owe it that I am not dead. But, as it
pleased Him, who, being infinite, has assigned by immutable law an end to
all things mundane, my love, beyond all other fervent, and neither to be
broken nor bent by any force of determination, or counsel of prudence, or
fear of manifest shame or ensuing danger, did nevertheless in course of time
me abate of its own accord, in such wise that it has now left nought of
itself in my mind but that pleasure which it is wont to afford to him who
does not adventure too far out in navigating its deep seas; so that, whereas
it was used to be grievous, now, all discomfort being done away, I find that
which remains to be delightful. But the cessation of the pain has not
banished the memory of the kind offices done me by those who shared by
sympathy the burden of my griefs; nor will it ever, I believe, pass from me
except by death. And as among the virtues, gratitude is in my judgment most
especially to be commended, and ingratitude in equal measure to be censured,
therefore, that I show myself not ungrateful, I have resolved, now that I
may call myself to endeavour, in return for what I have received, to afford,
so far as in me lies, some solace, if not to those who succoured and who,
perchance, by reason of their good sense or good fortune, need it not, at
least to such as may be apt to receive it.

And though my support or comfort, so to say, may be of little avail to the
needy, nevertheless it seems to me meet to offer it most readily where the
need is most apparent, because it will there be most serviceable and also
most kindly received. Who will deny, that it should be given, for all that
it may be worth, to gentle ladies much rather than to men? Within their soft
bosoms, betwixt fear and shame, they harbour secret fires of love, and how
much of strength concealment adds to those fires, they know who have proved
it. Moreover, restrained by the will, the caprice, the commandment of
fathers, mothers, brothers, and husbands, confined most part of their time
within the narrow compass of their chambers, they live, so to say, a life of
vacant ease, and, yearning and renouncing in the same moment, meditate
divers matters which cannot all be cheerful. If thereby a melancholy bred of
amorous desire make entrance into their minds, it is like to tarry there to
their sore distress, unless it be dispelled by a change of ideas. Besides
which they have much less power to support such a weight than men. For, when
men are enamoured, their case is very different, as we may readily perceive.
They, if they are afflicted by a melancholy and heaviness of mood, have many
ways of relief and diversion; they may go where they will, may hear and see
many things, may hawk, hunt, fish, ride, play or traffic. By which means all
are able to compose their minds, either in whole or in part, and repair the
ravage wrought by the dumpish mood, at least for some space of time; and
shortly after, by one way or another, either solace ensues, or the dumps
become less grievous. Wherefore, in some measure to compensate the injustice
of Fortune, which to those whose strength is least, as we see it to be in
the delicate frames of ladies, has been most niggard of support, I, for the
succour and diversion of such of them as love (for others may find
sufficient solace in the needle and the spindle and the reel), do intend to
recount one hundred Novels or Fables or Parables or Stories, as we may
please to call them, which were recounted in ten days by an honourable
company of seven ladies and three young men in the time of the late mortal
pestilence, as also some canzonets sung by the said ladies for their
delectation. In which pleasant novels will be found some passages of love
rudely crossed, with other courses of events of which the issues are
felicitous, in times as well modern as ancient: from which stories the said
ladies, who shall read them, may derive both pleasure from the entertaining
matters set forth therein, and also good counsel, in that they may learn
what to shun, and likewise what to pursue. Which cannot, I believe, come to
pass unless the dumps be banished by diversion of mind. And if it so happen
(as God grant it may) let them give thanks to Love, who, liberating me from
his fetters, has given me the power to devote myself to their gratification.

(1) For Fiammetta, i. e. Maria, natural daughter of Robert, King of Naples.

Beginneth here the first day of the Decameron, in which, when the author has
set forth, how it came to pass that the persons, who appear hereafter met
together for interchange of discourse, they, under the rule of Pampinea,
discourse of such matters as most commend themselves to each in turn.

As often, most gracious ladies, as I bethink me, how compassionate you are
by nature one and all, I do not disguise from myself that the present work
must seem to you to have but a heavy and distressful prelude, in that it
bears upon its very front what must needs revive the sorrowful memory of the
late mortal pestilence, the course whereof was grievous not merely to eye-
witnesses but to all who in any other wise had cognisance of it. But I would
have you know, that you need not therefore be fearful to read further, as if
your reading were ever to be accompanied by sighs and tears. This horrid
beginning will be to you even such as to wayfarers is a steep and rugged
mountain, beyond which stretches a plain most fair and delectable, which the
toil of the ascent and descent does but serve to render more agreeable to
them; for, as the last degree of joy brings with it sorrow, so misery has
ever its sequel of happiness. To this brief exordium of woe--brief, I say,
inasmuch as it can be put within the compass of a few letters--succeed
forthwith the sweets and delights which I have promised you, and which,
perhaps, had I not done so, were not to have been expected from it. In
truth, had it been honestly possible to guide you whither I would bring you
by a road less rough than this will be, I would gladly have so done. But,
because without this review of the past, it would not be in my power to shew
how the matters, of which you will hereafter read, came to pass, I am almost
bound of necessity to enter upon it, if I would write of them at all.

I say, then, that the years of the beatific incarnation of the Son of God
had reached the tale of one thousand three hundred and forty-eight when in
the illustrious city of Florence, the fairest of all the cities of Italy,
there made its appearance that deadly pestilence, which, whether
disseminated by the influence of the celestial bodies, or sent upon us
mortals by God in His just wrath by way of retribution for our iniquities,
had had its origin some years before in the East, whence, after destroying
an innumerable multitude of living beings, it had propagated itself without
respite from place to place, and so, calamitously, had spread into the West.

In Florence, despite all that human wisdom and forethought could devise to
avert it, as the cleansing of the city from many impurities by officials
appointed for the purpose, the refusal of entrance to all sick folk, and the
adoption of many precautions for the preservation of health; despite also
humble supplications addressed to God, and often repeated both in public
procession and otherwise, by the devout; towards the beginning of the spring
of the said year the doleful effects of the pestilence began to be horribly
apparent by symptoms that shewed as if miraculous.

Not such were they as in the East, where an issue of blood from the nose was
a manifest sign of inevitable death; but in men and women alike it first
betrayed itself by the emergence of certain tumours in the groin or the
armpits, some of which grew as large as a common apple, others as an egg,
some more, some less, which the common folk called gavoccioli. From the two
said parts of the body this deadly gavocciolo soon began to propagate and
spread itself in all directions indifferently; after which the form of the
malady began to change, black spots or livid making their appearance in many
cases on the arm or the thigh or elsewhere, now few and large, now minute
and numerous. And as the gavocciolo had been and still was an infallible
token of approaching death, such also were these spots on whomsoever they
shewed themselves. Which maladies seemed to set entirely at naught both the
art of the physician and the virtues of physic; indeed, whether it was that
the disorder was of a nature to defy such treatment, or that the physicians
were at fault--besides the qualified there was now a multitude both of men
and of women who practised without having received the slightest tincture of
medical science--and, being in ignorance of its source, failed to apply the
proper remedies; in either case, not merely were those that recovered few,
but almost all within three days from the appearance of the said symptoms,
sooner or later, died, and in most cases without any fever or other
attendant malady.

Moreover, the virulence of the pest was the greater by reason that
intercourse was apt to convey it from the sick to the whole, just as fire
devours things dry or greasy when they are brought close to it. Nay, the
evil went yet further, for not merely by speech or association with the sick
was the malady communicated to the healthy with consequent peril of common
death; but any that touched the cloth of the sick or aught else that had
been touched or used by them, seemed thereby to contract the disease.

So marvellous sounds that which I have now to relate, that, had not many,
and I among them, observed it with their own eyes, I had hardly dared to
credit it, much less to set it down in writing, though I had had it from the
lips of a credible witness.

I say, then, that such was the energy of the contagion of the said
pestilence, that it was not merely propagated from man to man but, what is
much more startling, it was frequently observed, that things which had
belonged to one sick or dead of the disease, if touched by some other living
creature, not of the human species, were the occasion, not merely of
sickening, but of an almost instantaneous death. Whereof my own eyes (as I
said a little before) had cognisance, one day among others, by the following
experience. The rags of a poor man who had died of the disease being strewn
about the open street, two hogs came thither, and after, as is their wont,
no little trifling with their snouts, took the rags between their teeth and
tossed them to and fro about their chaps; whereupon, almost immediately,
they gave a few turns, and fell down dead, as if by poison, upon the rags
which in an evil hour they had disturbed.

In which circumstances, not to speak of many others of a similar or even
graver complexion, divers apprehensions and imaginations were engendered in
the minds of such as were left alive, inclining almost all of them to the
same harsh resolution, to wit, to shun and abhor all contact with the sick
and all that belonged to them, thinking thereby to make each his own health
secure. Among whom there were those who thought that to live temperately and
avoid all excess would count for much as a preservative against seizures of
this kind. Wherefore they banded together, and, dissociating themselves from
all others, formed communities in houses where there were no sick, and lived
a separate and secluded life, which they regulated with the utmost care,
avoiding every kind of luxury, but eating and drinking very moderately of
the most delicate viands and the finest wines, holding converse with none
but one another, lest tidings of sickness or death should reach them, and
diverting their minds with music and such other delights as they could
devise. Others, the bias of whose minds was in the opposite direction,
maintained, that to drink freely, frequent places of public resort, and take
their pleasure with song and revel, sparing to satisfy no appetite, and to
laugh and mock at no event, was the sovereign remedy for so great an evil:
and that which they affirmed they also put in practice, so far as they were
able, resorting day and night, now to this tavern, now to that, drinking
with an entire disregard of rule or measure, and by preference making the
houses of others, as it were, their inns, if they but saw in them aught that
was particularly to their taste or liking; which they were readily able to
do, because the owners, seeing death imminent, had become as reckless of
their property as of their lives; so that most of the houses were open to
all comers, and no distinction was observed between the stranger who
presented himself and the rightful lord. Thus, adhering ever to their
inhuman determination to shun the sick, as far as possible, they ordered
their life. In this extremity of our city's suffering and tribulation the
venerable authority of laws, human and divine, was abased and all but
totally dissolved, for lack of those who should have administered and
enforced them, most of whom, like the rest of the citizens, were either dead
or sick, or so hard bested for servants that they were unable to execute any
office; whereby every man was free to do what was right in his own eyes.

Not a few there were who belonged to neither of the two said parties, but
kept a middle course between them, neither laying the same restraint upon
their diet as the former, nor allowing themselves the same license in
drinking and other dissipations as the latter, but living with a degree of
freedom sufficient to satisfy their appetites, and not as recluses. They
therefore walked abroad, carrying in their hands flowers or fragrant herbs
or divers sorts of spices, which they frequently raised to their noses,
deeming it an excellent thing thus to comfort the brain with such perfumes,
because the air seemed to be everywhere laden and reeking with the stench
emitted by the dead and the dying and the odours of drugs.

Some again, the most sound, perhaps, in judgment, as they we also the most
harsh in temper, of all, affirmed that there was no medicine for the disease
superior or equal in efficacy to flight; following which prescription a
multitude of men and women, negligent of all but themselves, deserted their
city, their houses, their estate, their kinsfolk, their goods, and went into
voluntary exile, or migrated to the country parts, as if God in visiting men
with this pestilence in requital of their iniquities would not pursue them
with His wrath, wherever they might be, but intended the destruction of such
alone as remained within the circuit of the walls of the city; or deeming,
perchance, that it was now time for all to flee from it, and that its last
hour was come.

Of the adherents of these divers opinions not all died, neither did all
escape; but rather there were, of each sort and in every place, many that
sickened, and by those who retained their health were treated after the
example which they themselves, while whole, had set, being everywhere left
to languish in almost total neglect. Tedious were it to recount, how citizen
avoided citizen, how among neighbours was scarce found any that shewed
fellow-feeling for another, how kinsfolk held aloof, and never met, or but
rarely; enough that this sore affliction entered so deep into the minds of
men and women, that in the horror thereof brother was forsaken by brother,
nephew by uncle, brother by sister, and oftentimes husband by wife; nay,
what is more, and scarcely to be believed, fathers and mothers were found to
abandon their own children, untended, unvisited, to their fate, as if they
had been strangers. Wherefore the sick of both sexes, whose number could not
be estimated, were left without resource but in the charity of friends (and
few such there were), or the interest of servants, who were hardly to be had
at high rates and on unseemly terms, and being, moreover, one and all men
and women of gross understanding, and for the most part unused to such
offices, concerned themselves no farther than to supply the immediate and
expressed wants of the sick, and to watch them die; in which service they
themselves not seldom perished with their gains. In consequence of which
dearth of servants and dereliction of the sick by neighbours, kinsfolk and
friends, it came to pass--a thing, perhaps, never before heard of that no
woman, however dainty, fair or well-born she might be, shrank, when stricken
with the disease, from the ministrations of a man, no matter whether he were
young or no, or scrupled to expose to him every part of her body, with no
more shame than if he had been a woman, submitting of necessity to that
which her malady required; wherefrom, perchance, there resulted in after
time some loss of modesty in such as recovered. Besides which many
succumbed, who with proper attendance, would, perhaps, have escaped death;
so that, what with the virulence of the plague and the lack of due tendance
of the sick, the multitude of the deaths, that daily and nightly took place
in the city, was such that those who heard the tale--not to say witnessed
the fact--were struck dumb with amazement. Whereby, practices contrary to
the former habits of the citizens could hardly fail to grow up among the

It had been, as to-day it still is, the custom for the women that were
neighbours and of kin to the deceased to gather in his house with the women
that were most closely connected with him, to wail with them in common,
while on the other hand his male kinsfolk and neighbours, with not a few of
the other citizens, and a due proportion of the clergy according to his
quality, assembled without, in front of the house, to receive the corpse;
and so the dead man was borne on the shoulders of his peers, with funeral
pomp of taper and dirge, to the church selected by him before his death.
Which rites, as the pestilence waxed in fury, were either in whole or in
great part disused, and gave way to others of a novel order. For not only
did no crowd of women surround the bed of the dying, but many passed from
this life unregarded, and few indeed were they to whom were accorded the
lamentations and bitter tears of sorrowing relations; nay, for the most
part, their place was taken by the laugh, the jest, the festal gathering;
observances which the women, domestic piety in large measure set aside, had
adopted with very great advantage to their health. Few also there were whose
bodies were attended to the church by more than ten or twelve of their
neighbours, and those not the honourable and respected citizens; but a sort
of corpse-carriers drawn from the baser ranks who called themselves becchini
(1) and performed such offices for hire, would shoulder the bier, and with
hurried steps carry it, not to the church of the dead man's choice, but to
that which was nearest at hand, with four or six priests in front and a
candle or two, or, perhaps, none; nor did the priests distress themselves
with too long and solemn an office, but with the aid of the becchini hastily
consigned the corpse to the first tomb which they found untenanted. The
condition of lower, and, perhaps, in great measure of the middle ranks, of
the people shewed even worse and more deplorable; for, deluded by hope or
constrained by poverty, they stayed in their quarters, in their houses,
where they sickened by thousands a day, and, being without service or help
of any kind, were, so to speak, irredeemably devoted to the death which
overtook them. Many died daily or nightly in the public streets; of many
others, who died at home, the departure was hardly observed by their
neighbours, until the stench of their putrefying bodies carried the tidings;
and what with their corpses and the corpses of others who died on every hand
the whole place was a sepulchre.

It was the common practice of most of the neighbours, moved no less by fear
of contamination by the putrefying bodies than by charity towards the
deceased, to drag the corpses out of the houses with their own hands, aided,
perhaps, by a porter, if a porter was to be had, and to lay them in front of
the doors, where any one who made the round might have seen, especially in
the morning, more of them than he could count; afterwards they would have
biers brought up, or, in default, planks, whereon they laid them. Nor was it
once or twice only that one and the same bier carried two or three corpses
at once; but quite a considerable number of such cases occurred, one bier
sufficing for husband and wife, two or three brothers, father and son, and
so forth. And times without number it happened, that, as two priests,
bearing the cross, were on their way to perform the last office for some
one, three or four biers were brought up by the porters in rear of them, so
that, whereas the priests supposed that they had but one corpse to bury,
they discovered that there were six or eight, or sometimes more. Nor, for
all their number, were their obsequies honoured by either tears or lights or
crowds of mourners; rather, it was come to this, that a dead man was then of
no more account than a dead goat would be to-day. From all which it is
abundantly manifest, that that lesson of patient resignation, which the
sages were never able to learn from the slight and infrequent mishaps which
occur in the natural course of events, was now brought home even to the
minds of the simple by the magnitude of their disasters, so that they became
indifferent to them.

As consecrated ground there was not in extent sufficient to provide tombs
for the vast multitude of corpses which day and night, and almost every
hour, were brought in eager haste to the churches for interment, least of
all, if ancient custom were to be observed and a separate resting-place
assigned to each, they dug, for each graveyard, as soon as it was full, a
huge trench, in which they laid the corpses as they arrived by hundreds at a
time, piling them up as merchandise is stowed in the hold of a ship, tier
upon tier, each covered with a little earth, until the trench would hold no
more. But I spare to rehearse with minute particularity each of the woes
that came upon our city, and say in brief, that, harsh as was the tenor of
her fortunes, the surrounding country knew no mitigation, for there--not to
speak of the castles, each, as it were, a little city in itself--in
sequestered village, or on the open champaign, by the wayside, on the farm,
in the homestead, the poor hapless husbandmen and their families, forlorn of
physicians' care or servants' tendance, perished day and night alike, not as
men, but rather as beasts. Wherefore, they too, like the citizens, abandoned
all rule of life, all habit of industry, all counsel of prudence; nay, one
and all, as if expecting each day to be their last, not merely ceased to aid
Nature to yield her fruit in due season of their beasts and their lands and
their past labours, but left no means unused, which ingenuity could devise,
to waste their accumulated store; denying shelter to their oxen, asses,
sheep, goats, pigs, fowls, nay, even to their dogs, man's most faithful
companions, and driving them out into the fields to roam at large amid the
unsheaved, nay, unreaped corn. Many of which, as if endowed with reason,
took their fill during the day, and returned home at night without any
guidance of herdsman. But enough of the country! What need we add, but
(reverting to the city) that such and so grievous was the harshness of
heaven, and perhaps in some degree of man, that, what with the fury of the
pestilence, the panic of those whom it spared, and their consequent neglect
or desertion of not a few of the stricken in their need, it is believed
without any manner of doubt, that between March and the ensuing July upwards
of a hundred thousand human beings lost their lives within the walls of the
city of Florence, which before the deadly visitation would not have been
supposed to contain so many people! How many grand palaces, how many stately
homes, how many splendid residences, once full of retainers, of lords, of
ladies, were now left desolate of all, even to the meanest servant! How many
families of historic fame, of vast ancestral domains, and wealth proverbial,
found now no scion to continue the succession! How many brave men, how many
fair ladies, how many gallant youths, whom any physician, were he Galen,
Hippocrates, or Aesculapius himself, would have pronounced in the soundest
of health, broke fast with their kinsfolk, comrades and friends in the
morning, and when evening came, supped with their forefathers in the other

Irksome it is to myself to rehearse in detail so sorrowful a history.
Wherefore, being minded to pass over so much thereof as I fairly can, I say,
that our city, being thus well-nigh depopulated, it so happened, as I
afterwards learned from one worthy of credit, that on a Tuesday morning
after Divine Service the venerable church of Santa Maria Novella was almost
deserted save for the presence of seven young ladies habited sadly in
keeping with the season. All were connected either by blood or at least as
friends or neighbours and fair and of good understanding were they all, as
also of noble birth, gentle manners, and a modest sprightliness. In age none
exceeded twenty-eight, or fell short of eighteen years. Their names I would
set down in due form, had I not good reason to with hold them, being
solicitous lest the matters which here ensue, as told and heard by them,
should in after time be occasion of reproach to any of them, in view of the
ample indulgence which was then, for the reasons heretofore set forth,
accorded to the lighter hours of persons of much riper years than they, but
which the manners of to-day have somewhat restricted; nor would I furnish
material to detractors, ever ready to bestow their bite where praise is due,
to cast by invidious speech the least slur upon the honour of these noble
ladies. Wherefore, that what each says may be apprehended without confusion,
I intend to give them names more or less appropriate to the character of
each. The first, then, being the eldest of the seven, we will call Pampinea,
the second Fiammetta, the third Filomena, the fourth Emilia, the fifth we
will distinguish as Lauretta, the sixth as Neifile, and the last, not
without reason, shall be named Elisa.

'Twas not of set purpose but by mere chance that these ladies met in the
same part of the church; but at length grouping themselves into a sort of
circle, after heaving a few sighs, they gave up saying paternosters, and
began to converse (among other topics) on the times.

So they continued for awhile, and then Pampinea, the rest listening in
silent attention, thus began:--"Dear ladies mine, often have I heard it
said, and you doubtless as well as I, that wrong is done to none by whoso
but honestly uses his reason. And to fortify, preserve, and defend his life
to the utmost of his power is the dictate of natural reason in everyone that
is born. Which right is accorded in such measure that in defence thereof men
have been held blameless in taking life. And if this be allowed by the laws,
albeit on their stringency depends the well-being of every mortal, how much
more exempt from censure should we, and all other honest folk, be in taking
such means as we may for the preservation of our life? As often as I bethink
me how we have been occupied this morning, and not this morning only, and
what has been the tenor of our conversation, I perceive--and you will
readily do the like--that each of us is apprehensive on her own account; nor
thereat do I marvel, but at this I do marvel greatly, that, though none of
us lacks a woman's wit, yet none of us has recourse to any means to avert
that which we all justly fear. Here we tarry, as if, methinks, for no other
purpose than to bear witness to the number of the corpses that are brought
hither for interment, or to hearken if the brothers there within, whose
number is now almost reduced to nought, chant their offices at the canonical
hours, or, by our weeds of woe, to obtrude on the attention of every one
that enters, the nature and degree of our sufferings.

"And if we quit the church, we see dead or sick folk carried about, or we
see those, who for their crimes were of late condemned to exile by the
outraged majesty of the public laws, but who now, in contempt of those laws,
well knowing that their ministers are a prey to death or disease, have
returned, and traverse the city in packs, making it hideous with their
riotous antics; or else we see the refuse of the people, fostered on our
blood, becchini, as they call themselves, who for our torment go prancing
about here and there and everywhere, making mock of our miseries in
scurrilous songs. Nor hear we aught but:--Such and such are dead; or, Such
and such art dying; and should hear dolorous wailing on every hand, were
there but any to wail. Or go we home, what see we there? I know not if you
are in like case with me; but there, where once were servants in plenty, I
find none left but my maid, and shudder with terror, and feel the very hairs
of my head to stand on end; and turn or tarry where I may, I encounter the
ghosts of the departed, not with their wonted mien, but with something
horrible in their aspect that appals me. For which reasons church and street
and home are alike distressful to me, and the more so that none, methinks,
having means and place of retirement as we have, abides here save only we;
or if any such there be, they are of those, as my senses too often have
borne witness, who make no distinction between things honourable and their
opposites, so they but answer the cravings of appetite, and, alone or in
company, do daily and nightly what things soever give promise of most
gratification. Nor are these secular persons alone; but such as live recluse
in monasteries break their rule, and give themselves up to carnal pleasures,
persuading themselves that they are permissible to them, and only forbidden
to others, and, thereby thinking to escape, are become unchaste and
dissolute. If such be our circumstances--and such most manifestly they
are--what do we here? what wait we for? what dream we of? why are we less
prompt to provide for our own safety than the rest of the citizens? Is life
less dear to us than to all other women? or think we that the bond, which
unites soul and body is stronger in us than in others, so that there is no
blow that may light upon it, of which we need be apprehensive? If so, we
err, we are deceived. What insensate folly were it in us so to believe! We
have but to call to mind the number and condition of those, young as we, and
of both sexes, who have succumbed to this cruel pestilence, to find therein
conclusive evidence to the contrary. And lest from lethargy or indolence we
fall into the vain imagination that by some lucky accident we may in some
way or another, when we would, escape--I know not if your opinion accord
with mine--I should deem it most wise in us, our case being what it is, if,
as many others have done before us, and are still doing, we were to quit
this place, and, shunning like death the evil example of others, betake
ourselves to the country, and there live as honourable women on one of the
estates, of which none of us has any lack, with all cheer of festal
gathering and other delights, so long as in no particular we overstep the
bounds of reason. There we shall hear the chant of birds, have sight of
verdant hills and plains, of cornfields undulating like the sea, of trees of
a thousand sorts; there also we shall have a larger view of the heavens,
which, however harsh to usward yet deny not their eternal beauty; things
fairer far for eye to rest on than the desolate walls of our city. Moreover,
we shall there breathe a fresher air, find ampler store of things meet for
such as live in these times, have fewer causes of annoy. For, though the
husbandmen die there, even as here the citizens, they are dispersed in
scattered homesteads, and 'tis thus less painful to witness. Nor, so far as
I can see, is there a soul here whom we shall desert; rather we may truly
say, that we are ourselves deserted; for, our kinsfolk being either dead or
fled in fear of death, no more regardful of us than if we were strangers, we
are left alone in our great affliction. No censure, then, can fall on us if
we do as I propose; and otherwise grievous suffering, perhaps death, may
ensue. Wherefore, if you agree, 'tis my advice, that, attended by our maids
with all things needful, we sojourn, now on this, now on the other estate,
and in such way of life continue, until we see--if death should not first
overtake us--the end which Heaven reserves for these events. And I remind
you that it will be at least as seemly in us to leave with honour, as in
others, of whom there are not a few, to stay with dishonour."

The other ladies praised Pampinea's plan, and indeed were so prompt to
follow it, that they had already begun to discuss the manner in some detail,
as if they were forthwith to rise from their seats and take the road, when
Filomena, whose judgment was excellent, interposed, saying:--"Ladies, though
Pampinea has spoken to most excellent effect, yet it were not well to be so
precipitate as you seem disposed to be. Bethink you that we are all women;
nor is there any here so young, but she is of years to understand how women
are minded towards one another, when they are alone together, and how ill
they are able to rule themselves without the guidance of some man. We are
sensitive, perverse, suspicious, pusillanimous and timid; wherefore I much
misdoubt, that, if we find no other guidance than our own, this company is
like to break up sooner, and with less credit to us, than it should. Against
which it were well to provide at the outset." Said then Elisa:--"Without
doubt man is woman's head, and, without man's governance, it is seldom that
aught that we do is brought to a commendable conclusion. But how are we to
come by the men? Every one of us here knows that her kinsmen are for the
most part dead, and that the survivors are dispersed, one here, one there,
we know not where, bent each on escaping the same fate as ourselves; nor
were it seemly to seek the aid of strangers; for, as we are in quest of
health, we must find some means so to order matters that, wherever we seek
diversion or repose, trouble and scandal do not follow us."

While the ladies were thus conversing, there came into the church three
young men, young, I say, but not so young that the age of the youngest was
less than twenty-five years; in whom neither the sinister course of events,
nor the loss of friends or kinsfolk, nor fear for their own safety, had
availed to quench, or even temper, the ardour of their love. The first was
called Pamfilo, the second Filostrato, and the third Dioneo. Very debonair
and chivalrous were they all; and in this troublous time they were seeking
if haply, to their exceeding great solace, they might have sight of their
fair friends, all three of whom chanced to be among the said seven ladies,
besides some that were of kin to the young men. At one and the same moment
they recognised the ladies and were recognised by them: wherefore, with a
gracious smile, Pampinea thus began:--"Lo, fortune is propitious to our
enterprise, having vouchsafed us the good offices of these young men, who
are as gallant as they are discreet, and will gladly give us their guidance
and escort, so we but take them into our service." Whereupon Neifile,
crimson from brow to neck with the blush of modesty, being one of those that
had a lover among the young men, said:--"For God's sake, Pampinea, have a
care what you say. Well assured am I that nought but good can be said of any
of them, and I deem them fit for office far more onerous than this which you
propose for them, and their good and honourable company worthy of ladies
fairer by far and more tenderly to be cherished than such as we. But 'tis no
secret that they love some of us here; wherefore I misdoubt that, if we take
them with us, we may thereby give occasion for scandal and censure merited
neither by us nor by them." "That," said Filomena, "is of no consequence; so
I but live honestly, my conscience gives me no disquietude; if others
asperse me, God and the truth will take arms in my defence. Now, should they
be disposed to attend us, of a truth we might say with Pampinea, that
fortune favours our enterprise." The silence which followed betokened
consent on the part of the other ladies, who then with one accord resolved
to call the young men, and acquaint them with their purpose, and pray them
to be of their company. So without further parley Pampinea, who had a
kinsman among the young men, rose and approached them where they stood
intently regarding them; and greeting them gaily, she opened to them their
plan, and besought them on the part of herself and her friends to join their
company on terms of honourable and fraternal comradeship. At first the young
men thought she did but trifle with them; but when they saw that she was in
earnest, they answered with alacrity that they were ready, and promptly,
even before they left the church, set matters in train for their departure.
So all things meet being first sent forward in due order to their intended
place of sojourn, the ladies with some of their maids, and the three young
men, each attended by a man-servant, sallied forth of the city on the
morrow, being Wednesday, about daybreak, and took the road; nor had they
journeyed more than two short miles when they arrived at their destination.
The estate (2) lay upon a little hill some distance from the nearest
highway, and, embowered in shrubberies of divers hues, and other greenery,
afforded the eye a pleasant prospect. On the summit of the hill was a palace
with galleries, halls and chambers, disposed around a fair and spacious
court, each very fair in itself, and the goodlier to see for the gladsome
pictures with which it was adorned; the whole set amidst meads and gardens
laid out with marvellous art, wells of the coolest water, and vaults of the
finest wines, things more suited to dainty drinkers than to sober and
honourable women. On their arrival the company, to their no small delight,
found their beds already made, the rooms well swept and garnished with
flowers of every sort that the season could afford, and the floors carpeted
with rushes. When they were seated, Dioneo, a gallant who had not his match
for courtesy and wit, spoke thus:--"My ladies, 'tis not our forethought so
much as your own mother-wit that has guided us hither. How you mean to
dispose of your cares I know not; mine I left behind me within the city-gate
when I issued thence with you a brief while ago. Wherefore, I pray you,
either address yourselves to make merry, to laugh and sing with me (so far,
I mean, as may consist with your dignity), or give me leave to hie me back
to the stricken city, there to abide with my cares." To whom blithely
Pampinea replied, as if she too had cast off all her cares:--"Well sayest
thou, Dioneo, excellent well; gaily we mean to live; 'twas a refuge from
sorrow that here we sought, nor had we other cause to come hither. But, as
no anarchy can long endure, I who initiated the deliberations of which this
fair company is the fruit, do now, to the end that our joy may be lasting,
deem it expedient, that there be one among us in chief authority, honoured
and obeyed by us as our superior, whose exclusive care it shall be to devise
how we may pass our time blithely. And that each in turn may prove the
weight of the care, as well as enjoy the pleasure, of sovereignty, and, no
distinction being made of sex, envy be felt by none by reason of exclusion
from the office; I propose, that the weight and honour be borne by each one
for a day; and let the first to bear sway be chosen by us all, those that
follow to be appointed towards the vesper hour by him or her who shall have
had the signory for that day; and let each holder of the signory be, for the
time, sole arbiter of the place and manner in which we are to pass our

Pampinea's speech was received with the utmost applause, and with one accord
she was chosen queen for the first day. Whereupon Filomena hied her lightly
to a bay-tree, having often heard of the great honour in which its leaves,
and such as were deservedly crowned therewith, were worthy to be holden; and
having gathered a few sprays, she made thereof a goodly wreath of honour,
and set it on Pampinea's head; which wreath was thenceforth, while their
company endured, the visible sign of the wearer's sway and sovereignty.

No sooner was Queen Pampinea crowned than she bade all be silent. She then
caused summon to her presence their four maids, and the servants of the
three young men, and, all keeping silence, said to them:--"That I may shew
you all at once, how, well still giving place to better, our company may
flourish and endure, as long as it shall pleasure us, with order meet and
assured delight and without reproach, I first of all constitute Dioneo's
man, Parmeno, my seneschal, and entrust him with the care and control of all
our household, and all that belongs to the service of the hall. Pamfilo's
man, Sirisco, I appoint treasurer and chancellor of our exchequer; and be he
ever answerable to Parmeno. While Parmeno and Sirisco are too busy about
their duties to serve their masters, let Filostrato's man, Tindaro, have
charge of the chambers of all three. My maid, Misia, and Filomena's maid,
Licisca, will keep in the kitchen, and with all due diligence prepare such
dishes as Parmeno shall bid them. Lauretta's maid, Chimera, and Fiammetta's
maid, Stratilia we make answerable for the ladies' chambers, and wherever we
may take up our quarters, let them see that all is spotless. And now we
enjoin you, one and all alike, as you value our favour, that none of you, go
where you may, return whence you may, hear or see what you may, bring us any
tidings but such as be cheerful." These orders thus succinctly given were
received with universal approval. Whereupon Pampinea rose, and said
gaily:--"Here are gardens, meads, and other places delightsome enough, where
you may wander at will, and take your pleasure; but on the stroke of tierce,
(3) let all be here to breakfast in the shade."

Thus dismissed by their new queen the gay company sauntered gently through a
garden, the young men saying sweet things to the fair ladies, who wove fair
garlands of divers sorts of leaves and sang love-songs.

Having thus spent the time allowed them by the queen, they returned to the
house, where they found that Parmeno had entered on his office with zeal;
for in a hall on the ground-floor they saw tables covered with the whitest
of cloths, and beakers that shone like silver, and sprays of broom scattered
everywhere. So, at the bidding of the queen, they washed their hands, and
all took their places as marshalled by Parmeno. Dishes, daintily prepared,
were served, and the finest wines were at hand; the three serving-men did
their office noiselessly; in a word all was fair and ordered in a seemly
manner; whereby the spirits of the company rose, and they seasoned their
viands with pleasant jests and sprightly sallies. Breakfast done, the tables
were removed, and the queen bade fetch instruments of music; for all, ladies
and young men alike, knew how to tread a measure, and some of them played
and sang with great skill: so, at her command, Dioneo having taken a lute,
and Fiammetta a viol, they struck up a dance in sweet concert; and, the
servants being dismissed to their repast, the queen, attended by the other
ladies and the two young men, led off a stately carol; which ended they fell
to singing ditties dainty and gay. Thus they diverted themselves until the
queen, deeming it time to retire to rest, dismissed them all for the night.
So the three young men and the ladies withdrew to their several quarters,
which were in different parts of the palace. There they found the beds well
made, and abundance of flowers, as in the hall; and so they undressed, and
went to bed.

Shortly after none (4) the queen rose, and roused the rest of the ladies, as
also the young men, averring that it was injurious to health to sleep long
in the daytime. They therefore hied them to a meadow, where the grass grew
green and luxuriant, being nowhere scorched by the sun, and a light breeze
gently fanned them. So at the queen's command they all ranged themselves in
a circle on the grass, and hearkened while she thus spoke:--

"You mark that the sun is high, the heat intense, and the silence unbroken
save by the cicalas among the olive-trees. It were therefore the height of
folly to quit this spot at present. Here the air is cool and the prospect
fair, and here, observe, are dice and chess. Take, then, your pleasure as
you may be severally minded; but, if you take my advice, you will find
pastime for the hot hours before us, not in play, in which the loser must
needs be vexed, and neither the winner nor the onlooker much the better
pleased, but in telling of stories, in which the invention of one may afford
solace to all the company of his hearers. You will not each have told a
story before the sun will be low, and the heat abated, so that we shall be
able to go and severally take our pleasure where it may seem best to each.
Wherefore, if my proposal meet with your approval--for in this I am disposed
to consult your pleasure--let us adopt it; if not, divert yourselves as best
you may, until the vesper hour."

The queen's proposal being approved by all, ladies and men alike, she
added:--"So please you, then, I ordain, that, for this first day, we be free
to discourse of such matters as most commend themselves, to each in turn."
She then addressed Pamfilo, who sat on her right hand, bidding him with a
gracious air to lead off with one of his stories. And prompt at the word of
command, Pamfilo, while all listened intently, thus began:--

(1) Probably from the name of the pronged or hooked implement with which
they dragged the corpses out of the houses.

(2) Identified by tradition with the Villa Palmieri (now Crawford) on the
slope of Fiesole.

(3) The canonical hour following prime, roughly speaking about 9 a.m.

(4) The canonical hour following sext, i.e. 3 p.m.


Ser Ciappelletto cheats a holy friar by a false confession, and dies; and,
having lived as a very bad man, is, on his death, reputed a saint, and
called San Ciappelletto.

A seemly thing it is, dearest ladies, that whatever we do, it be begun in
the holy and awful name of Him who was the maker of all. Wherefore, as it
falls to me to lead the way in this your enterprise of story telling, I
intend to begin with one of His wondrous works, that, by hearing thereof,
our hopes in Him, in whom is no change, may be established, and His name be
by us forever lauded. 'Tis manifest that, as things temporal are all doomed
to pass and perish, so within and without they abound with trouble and
anguish and travail, and are subject to infinite perils; nor, save for the
especial grace of God, should we, whose being is bound up with and forms
part of theirs, have either the strength to endure or the wisdom to combat
their adverse influences. By which grace we are visited and penetrated (so
we must believe) not by reason of any merit of our own, but solely out of
the fulness of God's own goodness, and in answer to the prayers of those
who, being mortal like ourselves, did faithfully observe His ordinances
during their lives, and are now become blessed for ever with Him in heaven.
To whom, as to advocates taught by experience all that belongs to our
frailty, we, not daring, perchance, to present our petitions in the presence
of so great a judge, make known our requests for such things as we deem
expedient for us. And of His mercy richly abounding to usward we have
further proof herein, that, no keenness of mortal vision being able in any
degree to penetrate the secret counsels of the Divine mind, it sometimes,
perchance, happens, that, in error of judgment, we make one our advocate
before His Majesty, who is banished from His presence in eternal exile, and
yet He to whom nothing is hidden, having regard rather to the sincerity of
our prayers than to our ignorance or the banishment of the intercessor,
hears us no less than if the intercessor were in truth one of the blest who
enjoy the light of His countenance. Which the story that I am about to
relate may serve to make apparent; apparent, I mean, according to the
standard or the judgment of man, not of God.

The story goes, then, that Musciatto Franzesi, a great and wealthy merchant,
being made a knight in France, and being to attend Charles Sansterre,
brother of the King of France, when he came into Tuscany at the instance and
with the support of Pope Boniface, found his affairs, as often happens to
merchants, to be much involved in divers quarters, and neither easily nor
suddenly to be adjusted; wherefore he determined to place them in the hands
of commissioners, and found no difficulty except as to certain credits given
to some Burgundians, for the recovery of which he doubted whether he could
come by a competent agent; for well he knew that the Burgundians were
violent men and ill-conditioned and faithless; nor could he call to mind any
man so bad that he could with confidence oppose his guile to theirs. After
long pondering the matter, he recollected one Ser Ciapperello da Prato, who
much frequented his house in Paris. Who being short of stature and very
affected, the French who knew not the meaning of Cepparello, (1) but
supposed that it meant the same as Cappello, i. e. garland, in their
vernacular, called him not Cappello, but Ciappelletto by reason of his
diminutive size; and as Ciappelletto he was known everywhere, whereas few
people knew him as Ciapperello. Now Ciappelletto's manner of life was thus.
He was by profession a notary, and his pride was to make false documents; he
would have made them as often as he was asked, and more readily without fee
than another at a great price; few indeed he made that were not false, and,
great was his shame when they were discovered. False witness he bore,
solicited or unsolicited, with boundless delight; and, as oaths were in
those days had in very great respect in France, he, scrupling not to
forswear himself, corruptly carried the day in every case in which he was
summoned faithfully to attest the truth. He took inordinate delight, and
bestirred himself with great zeal, in fomenting ill-feeling, enmities,
dissensions between friends, kinsfolk and all other folk; and the more
calamitous were the consequences the better he was pleased. Set him on
murder, or any other foul crime, and he never hesitated, but went about it
with alacrity; he had been known on more than one occasion to inflict wounds
or death by preference with his own hands. He was a profuse blasphemer of
God and His saints, and that on the most trifling occasions, being of all
men the most irascible. He was never seen at Church, held all the sacraments
vile things, and derided them in language of horrible ribaldry. On the other
hand he resorted readily to the tavern and other places of evil repute, and
frequented them. He was as fond of women as a dog is of the stick: in the
use against nature he had not his match among the most abandoned. He would
have pilfered and stolen as a matter of conscience, as a holy man would make
an oblation. Most gluttonous he was and inordinately fond of his cups,
whereby he sometimes brought upon himself both shame and suffering. He was
also a practised gamester and thrower of false dice. But why enlarge so much
upon him? Enough that he was, perhaps, the worst man that ever was born.

The rank and power of Musciatto Franzesi had long been this reprobate's
mainstay, serving in many instances to secure him considerate treatment on
the part of the private persons whom he frequently, and the court which he
unremittingly, outraged. So Musciatto, having bethought him of this Ser
Cepparello, with whose way of life he was very well acquainted, judged him
to be the very sort of person to cope with the guile of the Burgundians. He
therefore sent for him, and thus addressed him:--"Ser Ciappelletto, I am, as
thou knowest, about to leave this place for good; and among those with whom
I have to settle accounts are certain Burgundians, very wily knaves; nor
know I the man whom I could more fitly entrust with the recovery of my money
than thyself. Wherefore, as thou hast nothing to do at present, if thou wilt
undertake this business, I will procure thee the favour of the court, and
give thee a reasonable part of what thou shalt recover." Ser Ciappelletto,
being out of employment, and by no means in easy circumstances, and about to
lose Musciatto, so long his mainstay and support, without the least demur,
for in truth he had hardly any choice, made his mind up and answered that he
was ready to go. So the bargain was struck. Armed with the power of attorney
and the royal letters commendatory, Ser Ciappelletto took leave of Messer
Musciatto and hied him to Burgundy, where he was hardly known to a soul. He
set about the business which had brought him thither, the recovery of the
money, in a manner amicable and considerate, foreign to his nature, as if he
were minded to reserve his severity to the last. While thus occupied, he was
frequently at the house of two Florentine usurers, who treated him with
great distinction out of regard for Messer Musciatto; and there it so
happened that he fell sick. The two brothers forthwith placed physicians and
servants in attendance upon him, and omitted no means meet and apt for the
restoration of his health. But all remedies proved unavailing; for being now
old, and having led, as the physicians reported, a disorderly life, he went
daily from bad to worse like one stricken with a mortal disease. This
greatly disconcerted the two brothers; and one day, hard by the room in
which Ser Ciappelletto lay sick, they began to talk about him; saying one to
the other:--"What shall we do with this man? We are hard bested indeed on
his account. If we turn him out of the house, sick as he is, we shall not
only incur grave censure, but shall evince a signal want of sense; for folk
must know the welcome we gave him in the first instance, the solicitude with
which we have had him treated and tended since his illness, during which
time he could not possibly do aught to displease us, and yet they would see
him suddenly turned out of our house sick unto death. On the other hand he
has been so bad a man that he is sure not to confess or receive any of the
Church's sacraments; and dying thus unconfessed, he will be denied burial in
church, but will be cast out into some ditch like a dog; nay, 'twill be all
one if he do confess, for such and so horrible have been his crimes that no
friar or priest either will or can absolve him; and so, dying without
absolution, he will still be cast out into the ditch. In which case the folk
of these parts, who reprobate our trade as iniquitous and revile it all day
long, and would fain rob us, will seize their opportunity, and raise a
tumult, and make a raid upon our houses, crying:--'Away with these Lombard
whom the Church excludes from her pale;' and will certainly strip us of our
goods, and perhaps take our lives also; so that in any case we stand to lose
if this man die."

Ser Ciappelletto, who, as we said, lay close at hand while they thus spoke,
and whose hearing was sharpened, as is often the case, by his malady,
overheard all that they said about him. So he called them to him, and said
to them:--"I would not have you disquiet yourselves in regard of me, or
apprehend loss to befall you by my death. I have heard what you have said of
me and have no doubt that 'twould be as you say, if matters took the course
you anticipate; but I am minded that it shall be otherwise. I have committed
so many offences against God in the course of my life, that one more in the
hour of my death will make no difference whatever to the account. So seek
out and bring hither the worthiest and most holy friar you can find, and
leave me to settle your affairs and mine upon a sound and solid basis, with
which you may rest satisfied." The two brothers had not much hope of the
result, but yet they went to a friary and asked for a holy and discreet man
to hear the confession of a Lombard that was sick in their house, and
returned with an aged man of just and holy life, very learned in the
Scriptures, and venerable and held in very great and especial reverence by
all the citizens. As soon as he had entered the room where Ser Ciappelletto
was lying, and had taken his place by his side, he began gently to comfort
him: then he asked him how long it was since he was confessed. Whereto Ser
Ciappelletto, who had never been confessed, answered:--"Father, it is my
constant practice to be confessed at least once a week, and many a week I am
confessed more often; but true it is, that, since I have been sick, now
eight days, I have made no confession, so sore has been my affliction.
"Son," said the friar, "thou hast well done, and well for thee, if so thou
continue to do; as thou dost confess so often, I see that my labour of
hearkening and questioning will be slight." "Nay but, master friar," said
Ser Ciappelletto, "I say not so; I have not confessed so often but that I
would fain make a general confession of all my sins that I have committed,
so far as I can recall them, from the day of my birth to the present time;
and therefore I pray you, my good father, to question me precisely in every
particular just as if I had never been confessed. And spare me not by reason
of my sickness, for I had far rather do despite to my flesh than, sparing
it, risk the perdition of my soul, which my Saviour redeemed with His
precious blood."

The holy man was mightily delighted with these words, which seemed to him to
betoken a soul in a state of grace. He therefore signified to Ser
Ciappelletto his high approval of this practice; and then began by asking
him whether he had ever sinned carnally with a woman. Whereto Ser
Ciappelletto answered with a sigh:--"My father, I scruple to tell you the
truth in this matter, fearing lest I sin in vain-glory." "Nay, but," said
the friar, "speak boldly; none ever sinned by telling the truth, either in
confession or otherwise." "Then," said Ser Ciappelletto, "as you bid me
speak boldly, I will tell you the truth of this matter. I am virgin even as
when I issued from my mother's womb." "Now God's blessing on thee," said the
friar, "well done; and the greater is thy merit in that, hadst thou so
willed, thou mightest have done otherwise far more readily than we who are
under constraint of rule." He then proceeded to ask, whether he had offended
God by gluttony. Whereto Ser Ciappelletto, heaving a heavy sigh, answered
that he had so offended for, being wont to fast not only in Lent like other
devout persons, but at least thrice days in every week, taking nothing but
bread and water, he had quaffed the water with as good a gusto and as much
enjoyment, more particularly when fatigued by devotion or pilgrimage, as
great drinkers quaff their wine; and oftentimes he had felt a craving for
such dainty dishes of herbs as ladies make when they go into the country,
and now and again he had relished his food more than seemed to him meet in
one who fasted, as he did, for devotion. "Son," said the friar, "these sins
are natural and very trifling; and therefore I would not have thee burden
thy conscience too much with them. There is no man, however holy he may be,
but must sometimes find it pleasant to eat after a long fast and to drink
after exertion." "O, my father," said Ser Ciappelletto, "say not this to
comfort me. You know well that I know, that the things which are done in the
service of God ought to be done in perfect purity of an unsullied spirit;
and whoever does otherwise sins." The friar, well content, replied:--"Glad I
am that thou dost think so, and I am mightily pleased with thy pure and good
conscience which therein appears; but tell me: hast thou sinned by avarice,
coveting more than was reasonable, or withholding more than was right? My
father," replied Ser Ciappelletto, "I would not have you disquiet yourself,
because I am in the house of these usurers: no part have I in their
concerns; nay, I did but come here to admonish and reprehend them, and wean
them from this abominable traffic; and so, I believe, I had done, had not
God sent me this visitation. But you must know, that my father left me a
fortune, of which I dedicated the greater part to God; and since then for my
own support and the relief of Christ's poor I have done a little trading,
whereof I have desired to make gain; and all that I have gotten I have
shared with God's poor, reserving one half for my own needs and giving the
other half to them; and so well has my Maker prospered me, that I have ever
managed my affairs to better and better account." "Well, done," said the
friar, "but how? hast thou often given way to anger?" "Often indeed, I
assure you," said Ser Ciappelletto. "And who could refrain therefrom, seeing
men doing frowardly all day long, breaking the commandments of God and
recking nought of His judgments? Many a time in the course of a single day I
had rather be dead than alive, to see the young men going after vanity,
swearing and forswearing themselves, haunting taverns, avoiding the
churches, and in short walking in the way of the world rather than in God's
way." "My son," said the friar, "this is a righteous wrath; nor could I find
occasion therein to lay a penance upon thee. But did anger ever by any
chance betray thee into taking human life, or affronting or otherwise
wronging any?" "Alas," replied Ser Ciappelletto, "alas, sir, man of God
though you seem to me, how come you to speak after this manner? If I had had
so much as the least thought of doing any of the things of which you speak,
should I believe, think you, that I had been thus supported of God? These
are the deeds of robbers and such like evil men, to whom I have ever said,
when any I saw:--'Go, God change your heart.'" Said then the friar:--"Now,
my son, as thou hopest to be blest of God, tell me, hast thou never borne
false witness against any, or spoken evil of another, or taken the goods of
another without his leave?" "Yes, master friar," answered Ser Ciappelletto,
"most true it is that I have spoken evil of another; for I had once a
neighbour who without the least excuse in the world was ever beating his
wife, and so great was my pity of the poor creature, whom, when he was in
his cups, he would thrash as God alone knows how, that once I spoke evil of
him to his wife's kinsfolk." "Well, well," said the friar, "thou tellest me
thou hast been a merchant; hast thou ever cheated any, as merchants use to
do?" "I'faith, yes, master friar," said Ser Ciappelletto; "but I know not
who he was; only that he brought me some money which he owed me for some
cloth that I had sold him, and I put it in a box without counting it, where
a month afterwards I found four farthings more than there should have been,
which I kept for a year to return to him, but not seeing him again, I
bestowed them in alms for the love of God." "This," said the friar, "was a
small matter; and thou didst well to bestow them as thou didst." The holy
friar went on to ask him many other questions, to which he made answer in
each case in this sort. Then, as the friar was about to give him absolution,
Ser Ciappelletto interposed:--"Sir, I have yet a sin to confess." "What?"
asked the friar. "I remember," he said, "that I once caused my servant to
sweep my house on a Saturday after none; and that my observance of Sunday
was less devout than it should have been." "O, my son," said the friar,
"this is a light matter." "No," said Ser Ciappelletto, "say not a light
matter; for Sunday is the more to be had in honour because on that day our
Lord rose from the dead." Then said the holy friar:--"Now is there aught
else that thou hast done?" "Yes, master friar," replied Ser Ciappelletto,
"once by inadvertence I spat in the church of God." At this the friar began
to smile, and said:--"My son, this is not a matter to trouble about; we, who
are religious, spit there all day long." "And great impiety it is when you
so do," replied Ser Ciappelletto, "for there is nothing that is so worthy to
be kept from all impurity as the holy temple in which sacrifice is offered
to God." More he said in the same strain, which I pass over; and then at
last he began to sigh, and by and by to weep bitterly, as he was well able
to do when he chose. And the friar demanding:--"My son, why weepest thou?"
"Alas, master friar" answered Ser Ciappelletto, "a sin yet remains, which I
have never confessed, such shame were it to me to tell it; and as often as I
call it to mind, I weep as you now see me weep, being well assured that God
will never forgive me this sin." Then said the holy friar:--"Come, come,
son, what is this that thou sayst? If all the sins of all the men, that ever
were or ever shall be, as long as the world shall endure, were concentrated
in one man, so great is the goodness of God that He would freely pardon them
all, were he but penitent and contrite as I see thou art, and confessed
them: wherefore tell me thy sin with a good courage." Then said Ser
Ciappelletto, still weeping bitterly:--"Alas, my father, mine is too great a
sin, and scarce can I believe, if your prayers do not co-operate, that God
will ever grant me His pardon thereof." "Tell it with a good courage," said
the friar; "I promise thee to pray God for thee." Ser Ciappelletto, however,
continued to weep, and would not speak, for all the friar's encouragement.
When he had kept him for a good while in suspense, he heaved a mighty sigh,
and said:--"My father, as you promise me to pray God for me, I will tell it
you. Know, then, that once, when I was a little child, I cursed my mother;"
and having so said he began again to weep bitterly. "O, my son," said the
friar, "does this seem to thee so great a sin? Men curse God all day long,
and he pardons them freely, if they repent them of having so done; and
thinkest thou he will not pardon thee this? Weep not, be comforted, for
truly, hadst thou been one of them that set Him on the Cross, with the
contrition that I see in thee, thou wouldst not fail of His pardon." "Alas!
my father," rejoined Ser Ciappelletto, "what is this you say? To curse my
sweet mother that carried me in her womb for nine months day and night, and
afterwards on her shoulder more than a hundred times! Heinous indeed was my
offence; 'tis too great a sin; nor will it be pardoned, unless you pray God
for me."

The friar now perceiving that Ser Ciappelletto had nothing more to say, gave
him absolution and his blessing, reputing him for a most holy man, fully
believing that all that he had said was true. And who would not have so
believed, hearing him so speak at the point of death? Then, when all was
done, he said:--"Ser Ciappelletto, if God so will, you will soon be well;
but should it so come to pass that God call your blessed soul to Himself in
this state of grace, is it well pleasing to you that your body be buried in
our convent?" "Yea, verily, master friar," replied Ser Ciappelletto; "there
would I be, and nowhere else, since you have promised to pray God for me;
besides which I have ever had a special devotion to your order. Wherefore I
pray you, that, on your return to your convent, you cause to be sent me that
very Body of Christ, which you consecrate in the morning on the altar;
because (unworthy though I be) I purpose with your leave to take it, and
afterwards the holy and extreme unction, that, though I have lived as a
sinner, I may die at any rate as a Christian." The holy man said that he was
greatly delighted, that it was well said of Ser Ciappelletto, and that he
would cause the Host to be forthwith brought to him; and so it was.

The two brothers, who much misdoubted Ser Ciappelletto's power to deceive
the friar, had taken their stand on the other side of a wooden partition
which divided the room in which Ser Ciappelletto lay from another, and
hearkening there they readily heard and understood what Ser Ciappelletto
said to the friar; and at times could scarce refrain their laughter as they
followed his confession; and now and again they said one to another:--"What
manner of man is this, whom neither age nor sickness, nor fear of death, on
the threshold of which he now stands, nor yet of God, before whose
judgment-seat he must soon appear, has been able to turn from his wicked
ways, that he die not even as he has lived?" But seeing that his confession
had secured the interment of his body in church, they troubled themselves no
further. Ser Ciappelletto soon afterwards communicated, and growing
immensely worse, received the extreme unction, and died shortly after
vespers on the same day on which he had made his good confession. So the two
brothers, having from his own moneys provided the wherewith to procure him
honourable sepulture, and sent word to the friars to come at even to observe
the usual vigil, and in the morning to fetch the corpse, set all things in
order accordingly. The holy friar who had confessed him, hearing that he was
dead, had audience of the prior of the friary; a chapter was convened and
the assembled brothers heard from the confessor's own mouth how Ser
Ciappelletto had been a holy man, as had appeared by his confession, and
were exhorted to receive the body with the utmost veneration and pious care,
as one by which there was good hope that God would work many miracles. To
this the prior and the rest of the credulous confraternity assenting, they
went in a body in the evening to the place where the corpse of Ser
Ciappelletto lay, and kept a great and solemn vigil over it; and in the
morning they made a procession habited in their surplices and copes with
books in their hands and crosses in front; and chanting as they went, they
fetched the corpse and brought it back to their church with the utmost pomp
and solemnity, being followed by almost all the folk of the city, men and
women alike. So it was laid in the church, and then the holy friar who had
heard the confession got up in the pulpit and began to preach marvellous
things of Ser Ciapelletto's life, his fasts, his virginity, his simplicity
and guilelessness and holiness; narrating among the other matters that of
which Ser Ciappelletto had made tearful confession as his greatest sin, and
how he had hardly been able to make him conceive that God would pardon him;
from which he took occasion to reprove his hearers; saying:--"And you,
accursed of God, on the least pretext, blaspheme God and His Mother, and all
the celestial court. And much beside he told of his loyalty and purity; and,
in short, so wrought upon the people by his words, to which they gave entire
credence, that they all conceived a great veneration for Ser Ciappelletto,
and at the close of the office came pressing forward with the utmost
vehemence to kiss the feet and the hands of the corpse, from which they tore
off the cerements, each thinking himself blessed to have but a scrap thereof
in his possession; and so it was arranged that it should be kept there all
day long, so as to be visible and accessible to all. At nightfall it was
honourably interred in a marble tomb in one of the chapels, where on the
morrow, one by one, folk came and lit tapers and prayed and paid their vows,
setting there the waxen images which they had dedicated. And the fame of
Ciappelletto's holiness and the devotion to him grew in such measure that
scarce any there was that in any adversity would vow aught to any saint but
he, and they called him and still call him San Ciappelletto affirming that
many miracles have been and daily are wrought by God through him for such as
devoutly crave his intercession.

So lived, so died Ser Cepperello da Prato, and came to be reputed a saint,
as you have heard. Nor would I deny that it is possible that he is of the
number of the blessed in the presence of God, seeing that, though his life
was evil and depraved, yet he might in his last moments have made so
complete an act of contrition that perchance God had mercy on him and
received him into His kingdom. But, as this is hidden from us, I speak
according to that which appears, and I say that he ought rather to be in the
hands of the devil in hell than in Paradise. Which, if so it be, is a
manifest token of the superabundance of the goodness of God to usward,
inasmuch as he regards not our error but the sincerity of our faith, and
hearkens unto us when, mistaking one who is at enmity with Him for a friend,
we have recourse to him, as to one holy indeed, as our intercessor for His
grace. Wherefore, that we of this gay company may by His grace be preserved
safe and sound throughout this time of adversity, commend we ourselves in
our need to Him, whose name we began by invoking, with lauds and reverent
devotion and good confidence that we shall be heard.

And so he was silent.

(1) The diminutive of ceppo, stump or log: more commonly written cepperello
(cf. p. 32) or ceppatello. The form ciapperello seems to be found only here.


Abraham, a Jew, at the instance of Jehannot de Chevigny, goes to the court
of Rome, and having marked the evil life of the clergy, returns to Paris,
and becomes a Christian.

Pamfilo's story elicited the mirth of some of the ladies and the hearty
commendation of all, who listened to it with close attention until the end.
Whereupon the queen bade Neifile, who sat next her, to tell a story, that
the commencement thus made of their diversions might have its sequel.
Neifile, whose graces of mind matched the beauty of her person, consented
with a gladsome goodwill, and thus began:--

Pamfilo has shewn by his story that the goodness of God spares to regard our
errors when they result from unavoidable ignorance, and in mine I mean to
shew you how the same goodness, bearing patiently with the shortcomings of
those who should be its faithful witness in deed and word, draws from them
contrariwise evidence of His infallible truth; to the end that what we
believe we may with more assured conviction follow.

In Paris, gracious ladies, as I have heard tell, there was once a great
merchant, a large dealer in drapery, a good man, most loyal and righteous,
his name Jehannot de Chevigny, between whom and a Jew, Abraham by name, also
a merchant, and a man of great wealth, as also most loyal and righteous,
there subsisted a very close friendship. Now Jehannot, observing Abraham's
loyalty and rectitude, began to be sorely vexed in spirit that the soul of
one so worthy and wise and good should perish for want of faith. Wherefore
he began in a friendly manner to plead with him, that he should leave the
errors of the Jewish faith and turn to the Christian verity, which, being
sound and holy, he might see daily prospering and gaining ground, whereas,
on the contrary, his own religion was dwindling and was almost come to
nothing. The Jew replied that he believed that there was no faith sound and
holy except the Jewish faith, in which he was born, and in which he meant to
live and die; nor would anything ever turn him therefrom. Nothing daunted,
however, Jehannot some days afterwards began again to ply Abraham with
similar arguments, explaining to him in such crude fashion as merchants use
the reasons why our faith is better than the Jewish. And though the Jew was
a great master in the Jewish law, yet, whether it was by reason of his
friendship for Jehannot, or that the Holy Spirit dictated the words that the
simple merchant used, at any rate the Jew began to be much interested in
Jehannot's arguments, though still too staunch in his faith to suffer
himself to be converted. But Jehannot was no less assiduous in plying him
with argument than he was obstinate in adhering to his law, insomuch that at
length the Jew, overcome by such incessant appeals, said:--"Well, well,
Jehannot, thou wouldst have me become a Christian, and I am disposed to do
so, provided I first go to Rome and there see him whom thou callest God's
vicar on earth, and observe what manner of life he leads and his brother
cardinals with him; and if such it be that thereby, in conjunction with thy
words, I may understand that thy faith is better than mine, as thou hast
sought to shew me, I will do as I have said: otherwise, I will remain as I
am a Jew." When Jehannot heard this, he was greatly distressed, saying to
himself:--"I thought to have converted him; but now I see that the pains
which I took for so excellent a purpose are all in vain; for, if he goes to
the court of Rome and sees the iniquitous and foul life which the clergy
lead there, so far from turning Christian, had he been converted already, he
would without doubt relapse into Judaism." Then turning to Abraham he said:-
-"Nay, but, my friend, why wouldst thou be at all this labour and great
expense of travelling from here to Rome? to say nothing of the risks both by
sea and by land which a rich man like thee must needs run. Thinkest thou
not, to find here one that can give thee baptism? And as for any doubts that
thou mayst have touching the faith to which I point thee, where wilt thou
find greater masters and sages therein than here, to resolve thee of any
question thou mayst put to them? Wherefore in my opinion this journey of
thine is superfluous. Think that the prelates there are such as thou mayst
have seen here, nay, as much better as they are nearer to the Chief Pastor.
And so, by my advice thou wilt spare thy pains until some time of
indulgence, when I, perhaps, may be able to bear thee company." The Jew
replied:--"Jehannot, I doubt not that so it is as thou sayst; but once and
for all I tell thee that I am minded to go there, and will never otherwise
do that which thou wouldst have me and hast so earnestly besought me to do."
"Go then," said Jehannot, seeing that his mind was made up, "and good luck
go with thee;" and so he gave up the contest because nothing would be lost,
though he felt sure that he would never become a Christian after seeing the
court of Rome. The Jew took horse, and posted with all possible speed to
Rome; where on his arrival he was honourably received by his fellow Jews. He
said nothing to any one of the purpose for which he had come; but began
circumspectly to acquaint himself with the ways of the Pope and the
cardinals and the other prelates and all the courtiers; and from what he saw
for himself, being a man of great intelligence, or learned from others, he
discovered that without distinction of rank they were all sunk in the most
disgraceful lewdness, sinning not only in the way of nature but after the
manner of the men of Sodom, without any restraint of remorse or shame, in
such sort that, when any great favour was to be procured, the influence of
the courtesans and boys was of no small moment. Moreover he found them one
and all gluttonous, wine-bibbers, drunkards, and next after lewdness, most
addicted to the shameless service of the belly, like brute beasts. And, as
he probed the matter still further, he perceived that they were all so
greedy and avaricious that human, nay Christian blood, and things sacred of
what kind soever, spiritualities no less than temporalities, they bought and
sold for money; which traffic was greater and employed more brokers than the
drapery trade and all the other trades of Paris put together; open simony
and gluttonous excess being glosed under such specious terms as
"arrangement" and "moderate use of creature comforts," as if God could not
penetrate the thoughts of even the most corrupt hearts, to say nothing of
the signification of words, and would suffer Himself to be misled after the
manner of men by the names of things. Which matters, with many others which
are not to be mentioned, our modest and sober-minded Jew found by no means
to his liking, so that, his curiosity being fully satisfied, he was minded
to return to Paris; which accordingly he did. There, on his arrival, he was
met by Jehannot; and the two made great cheer together. Jehannot expected
Abraham's conversion least of all things, and allowed him some days of rest
before he asked what he thought of the Holy Father and the cardinals and the
other courtiers. To which the Jew forthwith replied:--"I think God owes them
all an evil recompense: I tell thee, so far as I was able to carry my
investigations, holiness, devotion, good works or exemplary living in any
kind was nowhere to be found in any clerk; but only lewdness, avarice,
gluttony, and the like, and worse, if worse may be, appeared to be held in
such honour of all, that (to my thinking) the place is a centre of
diabolical rather than of divine activities. To the best of my judgment,
your Pastor, and by consequence all that are about him devote all their zeal
and ingenuity and subtlety to devise how best and most speedily they may
bring the Christian religion to nought and banish it from the world. And
because I see that what they so zealously endeavour does not come to pass,
but that on the contrary your religion continually grows, and shines more
and more clear, therein I seem to discern a very evident token that it,
rather than any other, as being more true and holy than any other, has the
Holy Spirit for its foundation and support. For which cause, whereas I met
your exhortations in a harsh and obdurate temper, and would not become a
Christian, now I frankly tell you that I would on no account omit to become
such. Go we then to the church, and there according to the traditional rite
of your holy faith let me receive baptism." Jehannot, who had anticipated a
diametrically opposite conclusion, as soon as he heard him so speak, was the
best pleased man that ever was in the world. So taking Abraham with him to
Notre Dame he prayed the clergy there to baptise him. When they heard that
it was his own wish, they forthwith did so, and Jehannot raised him from the
sacred font, and named him Jean; and afterwards he caused teachers of great
eminence thoroughly to instruct him in our faith, which he readily learned,
and afterwards practised in a good, a virtuous, nay, a holy life.


Melchisedech, a Jew, by a story of three rings averts a great danger with
which he was menaced by Saladin.

When Neifile had brought her story to a close amid the commendations of all
the company, Filomena, at the queen's behest, thus began:--

The story told by Neifile brings to my mind another in which also Jew
appears, but this time as the hero of a perilous adventure; and as enough
has been said of God and of the truth our faith, it will not now be
inopportune if we descend to mundane events and the actions of men.
Wherefore I propose to tell you a story, which will perhaps dispose you to
be more circumspect than you have been wont to be in answering questions
addressed to you. Well ye know, or should know, loving gossips, that, as it
often happens that folk by their own folly forfeit a happy estate and are
plunged in most grievous misery, so good sense will extricate the wise from
extremity of peril, and establish them in complete and assured peace. Of the
change from good to evil fortune, which folly may effect, instances abound;
indeed, occurring as they do by the thousand day by day, they are so
conspicuous that their recital would be beside our present purpose. But that
good sense may be our succour in misfortune, I will now, as I promised, make
plain to you within the narrow compass of a little story.

Saladin, who by his great valour had from small beginnings made himself
Soldan of Egypt, and gained many victories over kings both Christian and
Saracen, having in divers wars and by divers lavish displays of magnificence
spent all his treasure, and in order to meet a certain emergency being in
need of a large sum of money, and being at a loss to raise it with a
celerity adequate to his necessity, bethought him of a wealthy Jew,
Melchisedech by name, who lent at usance in Alexandria, and who, were he but
willing, was, as he believed, able to accommodate him, but was so miserly
that he would never do so of his own accord, nor was Saladin disposed to
constrain him thereto. So great, however, was his necessity that, after
pondering every method whereby the Jew might be induced to be compliant, at
last he determined to devise a colourably reasonable pretext for extorting
the money from him. So he sent for him, received him affably, seated him by
his side, and presently said to him:--"My good man, I have heard from many
people that thou art very wise, and of great discernment in divine things;
wherefore I would gladly know of thee, which of the three laws thou reputest
the true law, the law of the Jews, the law of the Saracens, or the law of
the Christians?" The Jew, who was indeed a wise man, saw plainly enough that
Saladin meant to entangle him in his speech, that he might have occasion to
harass him, and bethought him that he could not praise any of the three laws
above another without furnishing Saladin with the pretext which he sought.
So, concentrating all the force of his mind to shape such an answer as might
avoid the snare, he presently lit on what he sought, saying:--"My lord, a
pretty question indeed is this which you propound, and fain would I answer
it; to which end it is apposite that I tell you a story, which, if you will
hearken, is as follows:--If I mistake not, I remember to have often heard
tell of a great and rich man of old time, who among other most precious
jewels had in his treasury a ring of extraordinary beauty and value, which
by reason of its value and beauty he was minded to leave to his heirs for
ever; for which cause he ordained, that, whichever of his sons was found in
possession of the ring as by his bequest, should thereby be designate his
heir, and be entitled to receive from the rest the honour and homage due to
a superior. The son, to whom he bequeathed the ring, left it in like manner
to his descendants, making the like ordinance as his predecessor. In short
the ring passed from hand to hand for many generations; and in the end came
to the hands of one who had three sons, goodly and virtuous all, and very
obedient to their father, so that he loved them all indifferently. The rule
touching the descent of the ring was known to the young men, and each
aspiring to hold the place of honour among them did all he could to persuade
his father, who was now old, to leave the ring to him at his death. The
worthy man, who loved them all equally, and knew not how to choose from
among them a sole legatee, promised the ring to each in turn, and in order
to satisfy all three, caused a cunning artificer secretly to make two other
rings, so like the first, that the maker himself could hardly tell which was
the true ring. So, before he died, he disposed of the rings, giving one
privily to each of his sons; whereby it came to pass, that after his decease
each of the sons claimed the inheritance and the place of honour, and, his
claim being disputed by his brothers, produced his ring in witness of right.
And the rings being found so like one to another that it was impossible to
distinguish the true one, the suit to determine the true heir remained
pendent, and still so remains. And so, my lord, to your question, touching
the three laws given to the three peoples by God the Father, I answer:--Each
of these peoples deems itself to have the true inheritance, the true law,
the true commandments of God; but which of them is justified in so
believing, is a question which, like that of the rings, remains pendent."
The excellent adroitness with which the Jew had contrived to evade the snare
which he had laid for his feet was not lost upon Saladin. He therefore
determined to let the Jew know his need, and did so, telling him at the same
time what he had intended to do, in the event of his answering less
circumspectly than he had done.

Thereupon the Jew gave the Soldan all the accommodation that he required,
which the Soldan afterwards repaid him in full. He also gave him most
munificent gifts with his lifelong amity and a great and honourable position
near his person.


A monk lapses into a sin meriting the most severe punishment, justly
censures the same fault in his abbot, and thus evades the penalty.

The silence which followed the conclusion of Filomena's tale was broken by
Dioneo, who sate next her, and without waiting for the queen's word, for he
knew that by the rule laid down at the commencement it was now his turn to
speak, began on this wise:--Loving ladies, if I have well understood the
intention of you all, we are here to afford entertainment to one another by
story-telling; wherefore, provided only nought is done that is repugnant to
this end, I deem it lawful for each (and so said our queen a little while
ago) to tell whatever story seems to him most likely to be amusing. Seeing,
then, that we have heard how Abraham saved his soul by the good counsel of
Jehannot de Chevigny, and Melchisedech by his own good sense safe-guarded
his wealth against the stratagems of Saladin, I hope to escape your censure
in narrating a brief story of a monk, who by his address delivered his body
from imminent peril of most severe chastisement.

In the not very remote district of Lunigiana there flourished formerly a
community of monks more numerous and holy than is there to be found to-day,
among whom was a young brother, whose vigour and lustihood neither the fasts
nor the vigils availed to subdue. One afternoon, while the rest of the
confraternity slept, our young monk took a stroll around the church, which
lay in a very sequestered spot, and chanced to espy a young and very
beautiful girl, a daughter, perhaps, of one of the husbandmen of those
parts, going through the fields and gathering herbs as she went. No sooner
had he seen her than he was sharply assailed by carnal concupiscence,
insomuch that he made up to and accosted her; and (she hearkening) little by
little they came to an understanding, and unobserved by any entered his cell
together. Now it so chanced that, while they fooled it within somewhat
recklessly, he being overwrought with passion, the abbot awoke and passing
slowly by the young monk's cell, heard the noise which they made within, and
the better to distinguish the voices, came softly up to the door of the
cell, and listening discovered that beyond all doubt there was a woman
within. His first thought was to force the door open; but, changing his
mind, he returned to his chamber and waited until the monk should come out.

Delightsome beyond measure though the monk found his intercourse with the
girl, yet was he not altogether without anxiety. He had heard, as he
thought, the sound of footsteps in the dormitory, and having applied his eye
to a convenient aperture had had a good view of the abbot as he stood by the
door listening. He was thus fully aware that the abbot might have detected
the presence of a woman in the cell. Whereat he was exceedingly distressed,
knowing that he had a severe punishment to expect; but he concealed his
vexation from the girl while he busily cast about in his mind for some way
of escape from his embarrassment. He thus hit on a novel stratagem which was
exactly suited to his purpose. With the air of one who had had enough of the
girl's company he said to her:--"I shall now leave you in order that I may
arrange for your departure hence unobserved. Stay here quietly until I
return." So out he went, locking the door of the cell, and withdrawing the
key, which he carried straight to the abbot's chamber and handed to him, as
was the custom when a monk was going out, saying with a composed air:--"Sir,
I was not able this morning to bring in all the faggots which I had made
ready, so with your leave I will go to the wood and bring them in." The
abbot, desiring to have better cognisance of the monk's offence, and not
dreaming that the monk knew that he had been detected, was pleased with the
turn matters had taken, and received the key gladly, at the same time giving
the monk the desired leave. So the monk withdrew, and the abbot began to
consider what course it were best for him to take, whether to assemble the
brotherhood and open the door in their presence, that, being witnesses of
the delinquency, they might have no cause to murmur against him when he
proceeded to punish the delinquent, or whether it were not better first to
learn from the girl's own lips how it had come about. And reflecting that
she might be the wife or daughter of some man who would take it ill that she
should be shamed by being exposed to the gaze of all the monks, he
determined first of all to find out who she was, and then to make up his
mind. So he went softly to the cell, opened the door, and, having entered,
closed it behind him. The girl, seeing that her visitor was none other than
the abbot, quite lost her presence of mind, and quaking with shame began to
weep. Master abbot surveyed her from head to foot, and seeing that she was
fresh and comely, fell a prey, old though he was, to fleshly cravings no
less poignant and sudden than those which the young monk had experienced,
and began thus to commune with himself:--"Alas! why take I not my pleasure
when I may, seeing that I never need lack for occasions of trouble and
vexation of spirit? Here is a fair wench, and no one in the world to know.
If I can bring her to pleasure me, I know not why I should not do so. Who
will know? No one will ever know; and sin that is hidden is half forgiven;
this chance may never come again; so, methinks, it were the part of wisdom
to take the boon which God bestows." So musing, with an altogether different
purpose from that with which he had come, he drew near the girl, and softly
bade her to be comforted, and besought her not to weep; and so little by
little he came at last to show her what he would be at. The girl, being made
neither of iron nor of adamant, was readily induced to gratify the abbot,
who after bestowing upon her many an embrace and kiss, got upon the monk's
bed, where, being sensible, perhaps, of the disparity between his reverend
portliness and her tender youth, and fearing to injure her by his excessive
weight, he refrained from lying upon her, but laid her upon him, and in that
manner disported himself with her for a long time. The monk, who had only
pretended to go to the wood, and had concealed himself in the dormitory, no
sooner saw the abbot enter his cell than he was overjoyed to think that his
plan would succeed; and when he saw that he had locked the door, he was well
assured thereof. So he stole out of his hiding-place, and set his eye to an
aperture through which he saw and heard all that the abbot did and said. At
length the abbot, having had enough of dalliance with the girl, locked her
in the cell and returned to his chamber. Catching sight of the monk soon
afterwards, and supposing him to have returned from the wood, he determined
to give him a sharp reprimand and have him imprisoned, that he might thus
secure the prey for himself alone. He therefore caused him to be summoned,
chid him very severely and with a stern countenance, and ordered him to be
put in prison. The monk replied trippingly:--"I Sir, I have not been so long
in the order of St. Benedict as to have every particular of the rule by
heart; nor did you teach me before to-day in what posture it behoves the
monk to have intercourse with women, but limited your instruction to such
matters as fasts and vigils. As, however, you have now given me my lesson, I
promise you, if you also pardon my offence, that I will never repeat it, but
will always follow the example which you have set me."

The abbot, who was a shrewd man, saw at once that the monk was not only more
knowing than he, but had actually seen what he had done; nor,
conscience-stricken himself, could he for shame mete out to the monk a
measure which he himself merited. So pardon given, with an injunction to
bury what had been seen in silence, they decently conveyed the young girl
out of the monastery, whither, it is to be believed, they now and again
caused her to return.


The Marchioness of Monferrato by a banquet of hens seasoned with wit checks
the mad passion of the King of France.

The story told by Dioneo evoked at first some qualms of shame in the minds
of the ladies, as was apparent by the modest blush that tinged their faces:
then exchanging glances, and scarce able to refrain their mirth, they
listened to it with half-suppressed smiles. On its conclusion they bestowed
upon Dioneo a few words of gentle reprehension with intent to admonish him
that such stories were not to be told among ladies. The queen then turned to
Fiammetta, who was seated on the grass at her side, and bade her follow suit
and Fiammetta with a gay and gracious mien thus began:--

The line upon which our story-telling proceeds, to wit, to shew the virtue
that resides in apt and ready repartees, pleases me well; and as in affairs
of love men and women are in diverse case, for to aspire to the love of a
woman of higher lineage than his own is wisdom in man, whereas a woman's
good sense is then most conspicuous when she knows how to preserve herself
from becoming enamoured of a man, her superior in rank, I am minded, fair my
ladies, to shew you by the story which I am now to tell, how by deed and
word a gentlewoman both defended herself against attack, and weaned her
suitor from his love.

The Marquis of Monferrato, a paladin of distinguished prowess, was gone
overseas as gonfalonier of the Church in a general array of the Christian
forces. Whose merits being canvassed at the court of Philippe le Borgne, on
the eve of his departure from France on the same service, a knight observed,
that there was not under the stars a couple comparable to the Marquis and
his lady; in that, while the Marquis was a paragon of the knightly virtues,
his lady for beauty, and honour was without a peer among all the other
ladies of the world. These words made so deep an impression on the mind of
the King of France that, though he had never seen the lady, he fell ardently
in love with her, and, being to join the armada, resolved that his port of
embarcation should be no other than Genoa, in order that, travelling thither
by land, he might find a decent pretext for visiting the Marchioness, with
whom in the absence of the Marquis he trusted to have the success which he
desired; nor did he fail to put his design in execution. Having sent his
main army on before, he took the road himself with a small company of
gentlemen, and, as they approached the territory of the Marquis, he
despatched a courier to the Marchioness, a day in advance, to let her know
that he expected to breakfast with her the next morning. The lady, who knew
her part and played it well, replied graciously, that he would be indeed
welcome, and that his presence would be the greatest of all favours. She
then began to commune with herself, what this might import, that so great a
king should come to visit her in her husband's absence, nor was she so
deluded as not to surmise that it was the fame of her beauty that drew him
thither. Nevertheless she made ready to do him honour in a manner befitting
her high degree, summoning to her presence such of the retainers as remained
in the castle, and giving all needful directions with their advice, except
that the order of the banquet and the choice of the dishes she reserved
entirely to herself. Then, having caused all the hens that could be found in
the country-side to be brought with all speed into the castle, she bade her
cooks furnish forth the royal table with divers dishes made exclusively of
such fare. The King arrived on the appointed day, and was received by the
lady with great and ceremonious cheer. Fair and noble and gracious seemed
she in the eyes of the King beyond all that he had conceived from the
knight's words, so that he was lost in admiration and inly extolled her to
the skies, his passion being the more inflamed in proportion as he found the
lady surpass the idea which he had formed of her. A suite of rooms furnished
with all the appointments befitting the reception of so great a king, was
placed at his disposal, and after a little rest, breakfast-time being come,
he and the Marchioness took their places at the same table, while his suite
were honourably entertained at other boards according to their several
qualities. Many courses were served with no lack of excellent and rare
wines, whereby the King was mightily pleased, as also by the extraordinary
beauty of the Marchioness, on whom his eye from time to time rested.
However, as course followed course, the King observed with some surprise,
that, though the dishes were diverse, yet they were all but variations of
one and the same fare, to wit, the pullet. Besides which he knew that the
domain was one which could not but afford plenty of divers sorts of game,
and by forewarning the lady of his approach, he had allowed time for
hunting; yet, for all his surprise, he would not broach the question more
directly with her than by a reference to her hens; so, turning to her with a
smile, he said:--"Madam, do hens grow in this country without so much as a
single cock?" The Marchioness, who perfectly apprehended the drift of the
question, saw in it an opportunity, sent her by God, of evincing her
virtuous resolution; so casting a haughty glance upon the King she answered
thus:--"Sire, no; but the women, though they may differ somewhat from others
in dress and rank, are yet of the same nature here as elsewhere." The
significance of the banquet of pullets was made manifest to the King by
these words, as also the virtue which they veiled. He perceived that on a
lady of such a temper words would be wasted, and that force was out of the
question. Wherefore, yielding to the dictates of prudence and honour, he was
now as prompt to quench, as he had been inconsiderate in conceiving, his
unfortunate passion for the lady; and fearing her answers, he refrained from
further jesting with her, and dismissing his hopes devoted himself to his
breakfast, which done, he disarmed suspicion of the dishonourable purpose of
his visit by an early departure, and thanking her for the honour she had
conferred upon him, and commending her to God, took the road to Genoa.


A worthy man by an apt saying puts to shame the wicked hypocrisy of the

When all had commended the virtue of the Marchioness and the spirited
reproof which she administered to the King of France, Emilia, who sate next
to Fiammetta, obeyed the queen's behest, and with a good courage thus

My story is also of a reproof, but of one administered by a worthy man, who
lived the secular life, to a greedy religious, by a jibe as merry as
admirable. Know then, dear ladies, that there was in our city, not long ago,
a friar minor, an inquisitor in matters of heresy, who, albeit he strove
might and main to pass himself off as a holy man and tenderly solicitous for
the integrity of the Christian Faith, as they all do, yet he had as keen a
scent for a full purse as for a deficiency of faith. Now it so chanced that
his zeal was rewarded by the discovery of a good man far better furnished
with money than with sense, who in an unguarded moment, not from defect of
faith, but rather, perhaps from excess of hilarity, being heated with wine,
had happened to say to his boon companions, that he had a wine good enough
for Christ Himself to drink. Which being reported to the inquisitor, he,
knowing the man to be possessed of large estates and a well-lined purse, set
to work in hot haste, "cum gladiis et fustibus," to bring all the rigour of
the law to bear upon him, designing thereby not to lighten the load of his
victim's misbelief, but to increase the weight of his own purse by the
florins, which he might, as he did, receive from him. So he cited him to his
presence, and asked him whether what was alleged against him were true. The
good man answered in the affirmative, and told him how it had happened.
"Then," said our most holy and devout inquisitor of St. John Goldenbeard,
(1) "then hast thou made Christ a wine-bibber, and a lover of rare vintages,
as if he were a sot, a toper and a tavern-haunter even as one of you. And
thinkest thou now by a few words of apology to pass this off as a light
matter? It is no such thing as thou supposest. Thou hast deserved the fire;
and we should but do our duty, did we inflict it upon thee." With these and
the like words in plenty he upbraided him, bending on him meanwhile a
countenance as stern as if Epicurus had stood before him denying the
immortality of the soul. In short he so terrified him that the good man was
fain to employ certain intermediaries to anoint his palms with a liberal
allowance of St. John Goldenmouth's grease, an excellent remedy for the
disease of avarice which spreads like a pestilence among the clergy, and
notably among the friars minors, who dare not touch a coin, that he might
deal gently with him. And great being the virtue of this ointment, albeit no
mention is made thereof by Galen in any part of his Medicines, it had so
gracious an effect that the threatened fire gave place to a cross, which he
was to wear as if he were bound for the emprise over seas; and to make the
ensign more handsome the inquisitor ordered that it should be yellow upon a
black ground. Besides which, after pocketing the coin, he kept him dangling
about him for some days, bidding him by way of penance hear mass every
morning at Santa Croce, and afterwards wait upon him at the breakfast-hour,
after which he was free to do as he pleased for the rest of the day. All
which he most carefully observed; and so it fell out that one of these
mornings there were chanted at the mass at which he assisted the following
words of the Gospel:--You shall receive an hundredfold and shall possess
eternal life. With these words deeply graven in his memory, he presented
himself, as he was bidden, before the inquisitor, where he sate taking his
breakfast, and being asked whether he had heard mass that morning, he
promptly answered:--"Yes, sir." And being further asked:--"Heardest thou
aught therein, as to which thou art in doubt, or hast thou any question to
propound?" the good man responded:--"Nay indeed, doubt have I none of aught
that I heard; but rather assured faith in the verity of all. One thing,
however, I heard, which caused me to commiserate you and the rest of you
friars very heartily, in regard of the evil plight in which you must find
yourselves in the other world." "And what," said the inquisitor, "was the
passage that so moved thee to commiserate us?" "Sir," rejoined the good man,
"it was that passage in the Gospel which says:--"You shall receive an
hundredfold." "You heard aright," said the inquisitor; "but why did the
passage so affect you?" "Sir," replied the good man, "I will tell you. Since
I have been in attendance here, I have seen a crowd of poor folk receive a
daily dole, now of one, now of two, huge tureens of swill, being the refuse
from your table, and that of the brothers of this convent; whereof if you
are to receive an hundredfold in the other world, you will have so much that
it will go hard but you are all drowned therein." This raised a general
laugh among those who sat at the inquisitor's table, whereat the inquisitor,
feeling that their gluttony and hypocrisy had received a home-thrust, was
very wroth, and, but that what he had already done had not escaped censure,
would have instituted fresh proceedings against him in revenge for the
pleasantry with which he had rebuked the baseness of himself and his brother
friars; so in impotent wrath he bade him go about his business and shew
himself there no more.

(1) The fiorino d'oro bore the effigy of St. John.


Bergamino, with a story of Primasso and the Abbot of Cluny, finely censures
a sudden access of avarice in Messer Cane della Scala.

Emilia's charming manner and her story drew laughter and commendation from
the queen and all the company, who were much tickled by her new type of
crusader. When the laughter had subsided, and all were again silent,
Filostrato, on whom the narration now fell, began on this wise:--

A fine thing it is, noble ladies, to hit a fixed mark; but if, on the sudden
appearance of some strange object, it be forthwith hit by the bowman, 'tis
little short of a miracle. The corrupt and filthy life of the clergy offers
on many sides a fixed mark of iniquity at which, whoever is so minded, may
let fly, with little doubt that they will reach it, the winged words of
reproof and reprehension. Wherefore, though the worthy man did well to
censure in the person of the inquisitor the pretended charity of the friars
who give to the poor what they ought rather to give to the pigs or throw
away, higher indeed is the praise which I accord to him, of whom, taking my
cue from the last story, I mean to speak; seeing that by a clever apologue
he rebuked a sudden and unwonted access of avarice in Messer Cane della
Scala, conveying in a figure what he had at heart to say touching Messer
Cane and himself; which apologue is to follow.

Far and wide, almost to the ends of the earth, is borne the most illustrious
renown of Messer Cane della Scala, in many ways the favoured child of
fortune, a lord almost without a peer among the notables and magnificoes of
Italy since the time of the Emperor Frederic II. Now Messer Cane, being
minded to hold high festival at Verona, whereof fame should speak marvellous
things, and many folk from divers parts, of whom the greater number were
jesters of every order, being already arrived, Messer Cane did suddenly (for
some cause or another) abandon his design, and dismissed them with a partial
recompense. One only, Bergamino by name, a speaker ready and polished in a
degree credible only to such as heard him, remained, having received no
recompense or conge, still cherishing the hope that this omission might yet
turn out to his advantage. But Messer Cane was possessed with the idea that
whatever he might give Bergamino would be far more completely thrown away
than if he had tossed it into the fire; so never a word of the sort said he
or sent he to him. A few days thus passed, and then Bergamino, seeing that
he was in no demand or request for aught that belonged to his office, and
being also at heavy charges at his inn for the keep of his horses and
servants, fell into a sort of melancholy; but still he waited a while, not
deeming it expedient to leave. He had brought with him three rich and goodly
robes, given him by other lords, that he might make a brave show at the
festival, and when his host began to press for payment he gave him one of
the robes; afterwards, there being still much outstanding against him, he
must needs, if he would tarry longer at the inn, give the host the second
robe; after which he began to live on the third, being minded remain there,
as long as it would hold out, in expectation of better luck, and then to
take his departure. Now, while he was thus living on the third robe, it
chanced that Messer Cane encountered him one day as he sate at breakfast
with a very melancholy visage. Which Messer Cane observing, said, rather to
tease him than expecting to elicit from him any pleasant retort:--"What ails
thee, Bergamino, that thou art still so melancholy? Let me know the reason
why." Whereupon Bergamino, without a moment's reflection, told the following
story, which could not have fitted his own case more exactly if it had been
long premeditated.

My lord, you must know that Primasso was a grammarian of great eminence, and
excellent and quick beyond all others in versifying; whereby he waxed so
notable and famous that, albeit he was not everywhere known by sight, yet
there were scarce any that did not at least by name and report know who
Primasso was. Now it so happened that, being once at Paris in straitened
circumstances, as it was his lot to be most of his time by reason that
virtue is little appreciated by the powerful, he heard speak of the Abbot of
Cluny, who, except the Pope, is supposed to be the richest prelate, in
regard of his vast revenues, that the Church of God can shew; and marvellous
and magnificent things were told him of the perpetual court which the abbot
kept, and how, wherever he was, he denied not to any that came there either
meat or drink, so only that he preferred his request while the abbot was at
table. Which when Primasso heard, he determined to go and see for himself
what magnificent state this abbot kept, for he was one that took great
delight in observing the ways of powerful and lordly men; wherefore he asked
how far from Paris was the abbot then sojourning. He was informed that the
abbot was then at one of his places distant perhaps six miles; which
Primasso concluded he could reach in time for breakfast, if he started early
in the morning. When he had learned the way, he found that no one else was
travelling by it, and fearing lest by mischance he should lose it, and so
find himself where it would not be easy for him to get food, he determined
to obviate so disagreeable a contingency by taking with him three loaves of
bread--as for drink, water, though not much to his taste, was, he supposed,
to be found everywhere. So, having disposed the loaves in the fold of his
tunic, he took the road and made such progress that he reached the abbot's
place of sojourn before the breakfast-hour. Having entered, he made the
circuit of the entire place, observing everything, the vast array of tables,
and the vast kitchen well-appointed with all things needful for the
preparation and service of the breakfast, and saying to himself:--"In very
truth this man is even such a magnifico as he is reported to be." While his
attention was thus occupied, the abbot's seneschal, it being now
breakfast-time, gave order to serve water for the hands, which being washen,
they sat them all down to breakfast. Now it so happened that Primasso was
placed immediately in front of the door by which the abbot must pass from
his chamber, into the hall, in which, according to rule of his court,
neither wine, nor bread, nor aught else drinkable or eatable was ever set on
the tables before he made his appearance and was seated. The seneschal,
therefore, having set the tables, sent word to the abbot, that all was now
ready, and they waited only his pleasure. So the abbot gave the word, the
door of his chamber was thrown open, and he took a step or two forward
towards the hall, gazing straight in front of him as he went. Thus it fell
out that the first man on whom he set eyes was Primasso, who was in very
sorry trim. The abbot, who knew him not by sight, no sooner saw him, than,
surprised by a churlish mood to which he had hitherto been an entire
stranger, he said to himself:--"So it is to such as this man that I give my
hospitality;" and going back into the chamber he bade lock the door, and
asked of his attendants whether the vile fellow that sate at table directly
opposite the door was known to any of them, who, one and all, answered in
the negative. Primasso waited a little, but he was not used to fast, and his
journey had whetted his appetite. So, as the abbot did not return, he drew
out one of the loaves which he had brought with him, and began to eat. The
abbot, after a while, bade one of his servants go see whether Primasso were
gone. The servant returned with the answer:--"No, sir, and (what is more) he
is eating a loaf of bread, which he seems to have brought with him." "Be it
so then," said the abbot, who was vexed that he was not gone of his own
accord, but was not disposed to turn him out; "let him eat his own bread, if
he have any, for he shall have none of ours today." By and by Primasso,
having finished his first loaf, began, as the abbot did not make his
appearance, to eat the second; which was likewise reported to the abbot, who
had again sent to see if he were gone. Finally, as the abbot still delayed
his coming, Primasso, having finished the second loaf, began upon the third;
whereof, once more, word was carried to the abbot, who now began to commune
with himself and say:--"Alas! my soul, what unwonted mood harbourest thou
to-day? What avarice? what scorn? and of whom? I have given my hospitality,
now for many a year, to whoso craved it, without looking to see whether he
were gentle or churl, poor or rich, merchant or cheat, and mine eyes have
seen it squandered on vile fellows without number; and nought of that which
I feel towards this man ever entered my mind. Assuredly it cannot be that he
is a man of no consequence, who is the occasion of this access of avarice in
me. Though he seem to me a vile fellow, he must be some great man, that my
mind is thus obstinately averse to do him honour." Of which musings the
upshot was that he sent to inquire who the vile fellow was, and learning
that he was Primasso, come to see if what he had heard of his magnificent
state were true, he was stricken with shame, having heard of old Primasso's
fame, and knowing him to be a great man. Wherefore, being zealous to make
him the amend, he studied to do him honour in many ways; and after
breakfast, that his garb might accord with his native dignity, he caused him
to be nobly arrayed, and setting him upon a palfrey and filling his purse,
left it to his own choice, whether to go or to stay. So Primasso, with a
full heart, thanked him for his courtesy in terms the amplest that he could
command, and, having left Paris afoot, returned thither on horseback."

Messer Cane was shrewd enough to apprehend Bergamino's meaning perfectly
well without a gloss, and said with a smile:--"Bergamino, thy parable is
apt, and declares to me very plainly thy losses, my avarice, and what thou
desirest of me. And in good sooth this access of avarice, of which thou art
the occasion, is the first that I have experienced. But I will expel the
intruder with the baton which thou thyself hast furnished." So he paid
Bergamino's reckoning, habited him nobly in one of his own robes, gave him
money and a palfrey, and left it for the time at his discretion, whether to
go or to stay.


Guglielmo Borsiere by a neat retort sharply censures avarice in Messer
Ermino de' Grimaldi.

Next Filostrato was seated Lauretta, who, when the praises bestowed on
Bergamino's address had ceased, knowing that it was now her turn to speak,
waited not for the word of command, but with a charming graciousness thus

The last novel, dear gossips, prompts me to relate how a worthy man,
likewise a jester, reprehended not without success the greed of a very
wealthy merchant; and, though the burden of my story is not unlike the last,
yet, perchance, it may not on that account be the less appreciated by you,
because it has a happy termination.

Know then that in Genoa there dwelt long ago a gentleman, who was known as
Messer Ermino de' Grimaldi, and whose wealth, both in lands and money, was
generally supposed to be far in excess of that of any other burgher then in
Italy, and as in wealth he was without a rival in Italy, so in meanness and
avarice there was not any in the entire world, however richly endowed with
those qualities, whom he did not immeasurably surpass, insomuch that, not
only did he keep a tight grip upon his purse when honour was to be done to
another, but in his personal expenditure, even upon things meet and proper,
contrary to the general custom of the Genoese, whose wont is to array
themselves nobly, he was extremely penurious, as also in his outlay upon his
table. Wherefore, not without just cause, folk had dropped his surname de'
Grimaldi, and called him instead Messer Ermino Avarizia. While thus by
thrift his wealth waxed greater and greater, it so chanced that there came
to Genoa a jester of good parts, a man debonair and ready of speech, his
name Guglielmo Borsiere, whose like is not to be found to-day when jesters
(to the great reproach be it spoken of those that claim the name and
reputation of gentlemen) are rather to be called asses, being without
courtly breeding, and formed after the coarse pattern of the basest of
churls. And whereas in the days of which I speak they made it their
business, they spared no pains, to compose quarrels, to allay
heart-burnings, between gentlemen, or arrange marriages, or leagues of
amity, ministering meanwhile relief to jaded minds and solace to courts by
the sprightly sallies of their wit, and with keen sarcasm, like fathers,
censuring churlish manners, being also satisfied with very trifling
guerdons; nowadays all their care is to spend their time in
scandal-mongering, in sowing discord, in saying, and (what is worse) in
doing in the presence of company things churlish and flagitious, in bringing
accusations, true or false, of wicked, shameful or flagitious conduct
against one another; and in drawing gentlemen into base and nefarious
practices by sinister and insidious arts. And by these wretched and depraved
lords he is held most dear and best rewarded whose words and deeds are the
most atrocious, to the great reproach and scandal of the world of to-day;
whereby it is abundantly manifest that virtue has departed from the earth,
leaving a degenerate generation to wallow in the lowest depths of vice.

But reverting to the point at which I started, wherefrom under stress of
just indignation I have deviated somewhat further than I intended, I say
that the said Guglielmo was had in honour, and was well received by all the
gentlemen of Genoa; and tarrying some days in the city, heard much of the
meanness and avarice of Messer Ermino, and was curious to see him. Now
Messer Ermino had heard that this Guglielmo Borsiere was a man of good
parts, and, notwithstanding his avarice, having in him some sparks of good
breeding, received him with words of hearty greeting and a gladsome mien,
and conversed freely with him and of divers matters, and so conversing, took
him with other Genoese that were of his company to a new and very beautiful
house which he had built, and after shewing him over the whole of it, said
to him:--"Now, Messer Guglielmo, you have seen and heard many things; could
you suggest to me something, the like of which has not hitherto been seen,
which I might have painted here in the saloon of this house?" To which
ill-judged question Guglielmo replied:--"Sir, it would not, I think, be in
my power to suggest anything the like of which has never been seen, unless
it were a sneeze or something similar; but if it so please you, I have
something to suggest, which, I think, you have never seen." "Prithee, what
may that be?" said Messer Ermino, not expecting to get the answer which he
got. For Guglielmo replied forthwith:--"Paint Courtesy here;" which Messer
Ermino had no sooner heard, than he was so stricken with shame that his
disposition underwent a complete change, and he said:--"Messer, Guglielmo, I
will see to it that Courtesy is here painted in such wise that neither you
nor any one else shall ever again have reason to tell me that I have not
seen or known that virtue." And henceforward (so enduring was the change
wrought by Guglielmo's words) there was not in Genoa, while he lived, any
gentleman so liberal and so gracious and so lavish of honour both to
strangers and to his fellow-citizens as Messer Ermino de' Grimaldi.


The censure of a Gascon lady converts the King of Cyprus from a churlish to
an honourable temper.

Except Elisa none now remained to answer the call of the queen, and she
without waiting for it, with gladsome alacrity thus began:--

Bethink you, damsels, how often it has happened that men who have been
obdurate to censures and chastisements have been reclaimed by some
unpremeditated casual word. This is plainly manifest by the story told by
Lauretta; and by mine, which will be of the briefest, I mean further to
illustrate it; seeing that, good stories, being always pleasurable, are
worth listening to with attention, no matter by whom they may be told.

'Twas, then, in the time of the first king of Cyprus, after the conquest
made of the Holy Land by Godfrey de Bouillon, that a lady of Gascony made a
pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, and on her way home, having landed at
Cyprus, met with brutal outrage at the hands of certain ruffians.
Broken-hearted and disconsolate she determined to make her complaint to the
king; but she was told that it would be all in vain, because so spiritless
and faineant was he that he not only neglected to avenge affronts put upon
others, but endured with a reprehensible tameness those which were offered
to himself, insomuch that whoso had any ill-humour to vent, took occasion to
vex or mortify him. The lady, hearing this report, despaired of redress, and
by way of alleviation of her grief determined to make the king sensible of
his baseness. So in tears she presented herself before him and said:--"Sire,
it is not to seek redress of the wrong done me that I come here before you:
but only that, so please you, I may learn of you how it is that you suffer
patiently the wrongs which, as I understand, are done you; that thus
schooled by you in patience I may endure my own, which, God knows, I would
gladly, were it possible, transfer to you, seeing that you are so well
fitted to bear them." These words aroused the hitherto sluggish and
apathetic king as it were from sleep. He redressed the lady's wrong, and
having thus made a beginning, thenceforth meted out the most rigorous
justice to all that in any wise offended against the majesty of his crown.


Master Alberto da Bologna honourably puts to shame a lady who sought
occasion to put him to shame in that he was in love with her.

After Elisa had done, it only remained for the queen to conclude the day's
story-telling, and thus with manner debonair did she begin:--

As stars in the serene expanse of heaven, as in spring-time flowers in the
green pastures, so, honourable damsels, in the hour of rare and excellent
converse is wit with its bright sallies. Which, being brief, are much more
proper for ladies than for men, seeing that prolixity of speech, when
brevity is possible, is much less allowable to them; albeit (shame be to us
all and all our generation) few ladies or none are left to-day who
understand aught that is wittily said, or understanding are able to answer
it. For the place of those graces of the spirit which distinguished the
ladies of the past has now been usurped by adornments of the person; and she
whose dress is most richly and variously and curiously dight, accounts
herself more worthy to be had in honour, forgetting, that, were one but so
to array him, an ass would carry a far greater load of finery than any of
them, and for all that be not a whit the more deserving of honour. I blush
to say this, for in censuring others I condemn myself. Tricked out,
bedecked, bedizened thus, we are either silent and impassive as statues, or,
if we answer aught that is said to us, much better were it we had held our
peace. And we make believe, forsooth, that our failure to acquit ourselves
in converse with our equals of either sex does but proceed from
guilelessness; dignifying stupidity by the name of modesty, as if no lady
could be modest and converse with other folk than her maid or laundress or
bake-house woman; which if Nature had intended, as we feign she did, she
would have set other limits to our garrulousness. True it is that in this,
as in other matters, time and place and person are to be regarded; because
it sometimes happens that a lady or gentleman thinking by some sally of wit
to put another to shame, has rather been put to shame by that other, having
failed duly to estimate their relative powers. Wherefore, that you may be on
your guard against such error, and, further, that in you be not exemplified
the common proverb, to wit, that women do ever and on all occasions choose
the worst, I trust that this last of to-day's stories, which falls to me to
tell, may serve you as a lesson; that, as you are distinguished from others
by nobility of nature, so you may also shew yourselves separate from them by
excellence of manners.

There lived not many years ago, perhaps yet lives, in Bologna, a very great
physician, so great that the fame of his skill was noised abroad throughout
almost the entire world.

Now Master Alberto (such was his name) was of so noble a temper that, being
now nigh upon seventy years of age, and all but devoid of natural heat of
body, he was yet receptive of the flames of love; and having at an assembly
seen a very beautiful widow lady, Madonna Malgherida de' Ghisolieri, as some
say, and being charmed with her beyond measure, was, notwithstanding his
age, no less ardently enamoured than a young man, insomuch that he was not
well able to sleep at night, unless during the day he had seen the fair
lady's lovely and delicate features. Wherefore he began to frequent the
vicinity of her house, passing to and fro in front of it, now on foot now on
horseback, as occasion best served. Which she and many other ladies
perceiving, made merry together more than once, to see a man of his years
and discretion in love, as if they deemed that this most delightful passion
of love were only fit for empty-headed youths, and could not in men be
either harboured or engendered. Master Alberto thus continuing to haunt the
front of the house, it so happened that one feast-day the lady with other
ladies was seated before her door, and Master Alberto's approach being thus
observed by them for some time before he arrived, they complotted to receive
him and shew him honour, and then to rally him on his love; and so they did,
rising with one accord to receive him, bidding him welcome, and ushering him
into a cool courtyard, where they regaled him with the finest wines and
comfits; which done, in a tone of refined and sprightly banter they asked
him how it came about that he was enamoured of this fair lady, seeing that
she was beloved of many a fine gentleman of youth and spirit. Master
Alberto, being thus courteously assailed, put a blithe face on it, and
answered:--"Madam, my love for you need surprise none that is conversant
with such matters, and least of all you that are worthy of it. And though
old men, of course, have lost the strength which love demands for its full
fruition, yet are they not therefore without the good intent and just
appreciation of what beseems the accepted lover, but indeed understand it
far better than young men, by reason that they have more experience. My hope
in thus old aspiring to love you, who are loved by so many young men, is
founded on what I have frequently observed of ladies' ways at lunch, when
they trifle with the lupin and the leek. In the leek no part is good, but
the head is at any rate not so bad as the rest, and indeed not unpalatable;
you, however, for the most part, following a depraved taste, hold it in your
hand and munch the leaves, which are not only of no account but actually
distasteful. How am I to know, madam, that in your selection of lovers, you
are not equally eccentric? In which case I should be the man of your choice,
and the rest would be cast aside." Whereto the gentle lady, somewhat
shame-stricken, as were also her fair friends, thus made answer:--"Master
Alberto, our presumption has received from you a most just and no less
courteous reproof; but your love is dear to me, as should ever be that of a
wise and worthy man. And therefore, saving my honour, I am yours, entirely
and devotedly at your pleasure and command." This speech brought Master
Alberto to his feet, and the others also rising, he thanked the lady for her
courtesy, bade her a gay and smiling adieu, and so left the house. Thus the
lady, not considering on whom she exercised her wit, thinking to conquer was
conquered herself--against which mishap you, if you are discreet, will ever
be most strictly on your guard.

As the young ladies and the three young men finished their storytelling the
sun was westering and the heat of the day in great measure abated. Which
their queen observing, debonairly thus she spoke:--"Now, dear gossips, my
day of sovereignty draws to a close, and nought remains for me to do but to
give you a new queen, by whom on the morrow our common life may be ordered
as she may deem best in a course of seemly pleasure; and though there seems
to be still some interval between day and night, yet, as whoso does not in
some degree anticipate the course of time, cannot well provide for the
future; and in order that what the new queen shall decide to be meet for the
morrow may be made ready beforehand, I decree that from this time forth the
days begin at this hour. And so in reverent submission to Him in whom is the
life of all beings, for our comfort and solace we commit the governance of
our realm for the morrow into the hands of Queen Filomena, most discreet of
damsels." So saying she arose, took the laurel wreath from her brow, and
with a gesture of reverence set it on the brow of Filomena, whom she then,
and after her all the other ladies and the young men, saluted as queen,
doing her due and graceful homage.

Queen Filomena modestly blushed a little to find herself thus invested with
the sovereignty; but, being put on her mettle by Pampinea's recent
admonitions, she was minded not to seem awkward, and soon recovered her
composure. She then began by confirming all the appointments made by
Pampinea, and making all needful arrangements for the following morning and
evening, which they were to pass where they then were. Whereupon she thus
spoke:--"Dearest gossips, though, thanks rather to Pampinea's courtesy than
to merit of mine, I am made queen of you all, yet I am not on that account
minded to have respect merely to my own judgment in the governance of our
life, but to unite your wisdom with mine; and that you may understand what I
think of doing, and by consequence may be able to amplify or curtail it at
your pleasure, I will in few words make known to you my purpose. The course
observed by Pampinea to-day, if I have judged aright, seems to be alike
commendable and delectable; wherefore, until by lapse of time, or for some
other cause, it grow tedious, I purpose not to alter it. So when we have
arranged for what we have already taken in hand, we will go hence and enjoy
a short walk; at sundown we will sup in the cool; and we will then sing a
few songs and otherwise divert ourselves, until it is time to go to sleep.
To-morrow we will rise in the cool of the morning, and after enjoying
another walk, each at his or her sweet will, we will return, as to-day, and
in due time break our fast, dance, sleep, and having risen, will here resume
our story-telling, wherein, methinks, pleasure and profit unite in
superabundant measure. True it is that Pampinea, by reason of her late
election to the sovereignty, neglected one matter, which I mean to
introduce, to wit, the circumscription of the topic of our story-telling,
and its preassignment, that each may be able to premeditate some apt story
bearing upon the theme; and seeing that from the beginning of the world
Fortune has made men the sport of divers accidents, and so it will continue
until the end, the theme, so please you, shall in each case be the same; to
wit, the fortune of such as after divers adventures have at last attained a
goal of unexpected felicity.

The ladies and the young men alike commended the rule thus laid down, and
agreed to follow it. Dioneo, however, when the rest had done speaking,
said:--"Madam, as all the rest have said, so say I, briefly, that the rule
prescribed by you is commendable and delectable; but of your especial grace
I crave a favour, which, I trust, may be granted and continued to me, so
long as our company shall endure; which favour is this: that I be not bound
by the assigned theme if I am not so minded, but that I have leave to choose
such topic as best shall please me. And lest any suppose that I crave this
grace as one that has not stories ready to hand, I am henceforth content
that mine be always the last." The queen, knowing him to be a merry and
facetious fellow, and feeling sure that he only craved this favour in order
that, if the company were jaded, he might have an opportunity to recreate
them by some amusing story, gladly, with the consent of the rest, granted
his petition. She then rose, and attended by the rest sauntered towards a
stream, which, issuing clear as crystal from a neighbouring hill,
precipitated itself into a valley shaded by trees close set amid living rock
and fresh green herbage. Bare of foot and arm they entered the stream, and
roving hither and thither amused themselves in divers ways till in due time
they returned to the palace, and gaily supped. Supper ended, the queen sent
for instruments of music, and bade Lauretta lead a dance, while Emilia was
to sing a song accompanied by Dioneo on the lute.

Accordingly Lauretta led a dance, while Emilia with passion sang the
following song:

So fain I am of my own loveliness,
    I hope, nor think not e'er
  The weight to feel of other amorousness.

When in the mirror I my face behold,
  That see I there which doth my mind content,
  Nor any present hap or memory old
  May me deprive of such sweet ravishment.
  Where else, then, should I find such blandishment
     Of sight and sense that e'er
  My heart should know another amorousness?

Nor need I fear lest the fair thing retreat,
  When fain I am my solace to renew;
  Rather, I know, 'twill me advance to meet,
  To pleasure me, and shew so sweet a view
  That speech or thought of none its semblance true
     Paint or conceive may e'er,
  Unless he burn with ev'n such amorousness.

Thereon as more intent I gaze, the fire
  Waxeth within me hourly, more and more,
  Myself I yield thereto, myself entire,
  And foretaste have of what it hath in store,
  And hope of greater joyance than before,
    Nay, such as ne'er
  None knew; for ne'er was felt such amorousness.

This ballade, to which all heartily responded, albeit its words furnished
much matter of thought to some, was followed by some other dances, and part
of the brief night being thus spent, the queen proclaimed the first day
ended, and bade light the torches that all might go to rest until the
following morning; and so, seeking their several chambers, to rest they

Endeth here the first day of the Decameron; beginneth the second, in which,
under the rule of Filomena, they discourse of the fortunes of such as after
divers misadventures have at last attained a goal of unexpected felicity.

The sun was already trailing the new day in his wake of light, and the
birds, blithely chanting their lays among the green boughs, carried the
tidings to the ear, when with one accord all the ladies and the three young
men arose, and entered the gardens, where for no little time they found
their delight in sauntering about the dewy meads, straying hither and
thither, culling flowers, and weaving them into fair garlands. The day
passed like its predecessor; they breakfasted in the shade, and danced and
slept until noon, when they rose, and, at their queen's behest, assembled in
the cool meadow, and sat them down in a circle about her. Fair and very
debonair she shewed, crowned with her laurel wreath, as for a brief space
she scanned the company, and then bade Neifile shew others the way with a
story. Neifile made no excuse, and gaily thus began.


Martellino pretends to be a paralytic, and makes it appear as if he were
cured by being placed upon the body of St. Arrigo. His trick is detected; he
is beaten and arrested, and is in peril of hanging, but finally escapes.

Often has it happened, dearest ladies, that one who has studied to raise a
laugh at others' expense, especially in regard of things worthy to be had in
reverence, has found the laugh turn against himself, and sometimes to his
loss: as, in obedience to the queen's command, and by way of introducing our
theme, I am about to shew you, by the narrative of an adventure which befell
one of our own citizens, and after a course of evil fortune had an entirely
unexpected and very felicitous issue.

Not long ago there was at Treviso a German, named Arrigo, a poor man who got
his living as a common hired porter, but though of so humble a condition,
was respected by all, being accounted not only an honest but a most holy
man; insomuch that, whether truly or falsely I know not, the Trevisans
affirm, that on his decease all the bells of the cathedral of Treviso began
to toll of their own accord. Which being accounted a miracle, this Arrigo
was generally reputed a saint; and all the people of the city gathered
before the house where his body lay, and bore it, with a saint's honours,
into the cathedral, and brought thither the halt and paralytic and blind,
and others afflicted with disease or bodily defects, as hoping that by
contact with this holy body they would all be healed. The people thus
tumultuously thronging the church, it so chanced that there arrived in
Treviso three of our own citizens, of whom one was named Stecchi, another
Martellino, and the third Marchese; all three being men whose habit it was
to frequent the courts of the nobles and afford spectators amusement by
assuming disguises and personating other men. Being entire strangers to the
place, and seeing everybody running to and fro, they were much astonished,
and having learned the why and wherefore, were curious to go see what was to
be seen. So at the inn, where they put up, Marchese began:--"We would fain
go see this saint; but for my part I know not how we are to reach the spot,
for I hear the piazza is full of Germans and other armed men, posted there
by the Lord who rules here to prevent an uproar, and moreover the church, so
far as one may learn, is so full of folk that scarce another soul may enter
it." Whereupon Martellino, who was bent on seeing what was to be seen,
said:--"Let not this deter us; I will assuredly find a way of getting to the
saint's body." "How?" rejoined Marchese. "I will tell you," replied
Martellino; "I will counterfeit a paralytic, and thou wilt support me on one
side and Stecchi on the other, as if I were not able to go alone, and so you
will enter the church, making it appear as if you were leading me up to the
body of the saint that he may heal me, and all that see will make way and
give us free passage." Marchese and Stecchi approved the plan; so all three
forthwith left the inn and repaired to a lonely place, where Martellino
distorted his hands, his fingers, his arms, his legs, and also his mouth and
eyes and his entire face in a manner horrible to contemplate; so that no
stranger that saw him could have doubted that he was impotent and paralysed
in every part of his body. In this guise Marchese and Stecchi laid hold of
him, and led him towards the church, assuming a most piteous air, and humbly
beseeching everybody for God's sake to make way for them. Their request was
readily granted; and, in short, observed by all, and crying out at almost
every step, "make way, make way," they reached the place where St. Arrigo's
body was laid. Whereupon some gentlemen who stood by, hoisted Martellino on
to the saint's body, that thereby he might receive the boon of health. There
he lay still for a while, the eyes of all in the church being riveted upon
him in expectation of the result; then, being a very practised performer, he
stretched, first, one of his fingers, next a hand, afterwards an arm, and so
forth, making as if he gradually recovered the use of all his natural
powers. Which the people observing raised such a clamour in honour of St.
Arrigo that even thunder would have been inaudible. Now it chanced that hard
by stood a Florentine, who knew Martellino well, though he had failed to
recognise him, when, in such strange guise, he was led into the church; but
now, seeing him resume his natural shape, the Florentine recognised him, and
at once said with a laugh°"God's curse upon him. Who that saw him come but
would have believed that he was really paralysed?" These words were
overheard by some of the Trevisans, who began forthwith to question the
Florentine. "How?" said they; "was he then not paralysed? No, by God
returned the Florentine he has always been as straight as any of us; he has
merely shewn you that he knows better than any man alive how to play this
trick of putting on any counterfeit semblance that he chooses." Thereupon
the Trevisans, without further parley, made a rush, clearing the way and
crying out as they went:--"Seize this traitor who mocks at God and His
saints; who, being no paralytic, has come hither in the guise of a paralytic
to deride our patron saint and us." So saying, they laid hands on him,
dragged him down from where he stood, seized him by the hair, tore the
clothes from his back, and fell to beating and kicking him, so that it
seemed to him as if all the world were upon him. He cried out:--"Pity, for
God's sake," and defended himself as best he could: all in vain, however;
the press became thicker and thicker moment by moment. Which Stecchi and
Marchese observing began to say one to the other that 'twas a bad business;
yet, being apprehensive on their own account, they did not venture to come
to his assistance, but cried out with the rest that he ought to die, at the
same time, however, casting about how they might find the means to rescue
him from the hands of the people, who would certainly have killed him, but
for a diversion which Marchese hastily effected. The entire posse of the
signory being just outside, he ran off at full speed to the Podesta's
lieutenant, and said to him:--"Help, for God's sake; there is a villain here
that has cut my purse with full a hundred florins of gold in it; prithee
have him arrested that I may have my own again." Whereupon, twelve sergeants
or more ran forthwith to the place where hapless Martellino was being carded
without a comb, and, forcing their way with the utmost difficulty through
the throng, rescued him all bruised and battered from their hands, and led
him to the palace; whither he was followed by many who, resenting what he
had done, and hearing that he was arrested as a cutpurse, and lacking better
pretext for harassing him, began one and all to charge him with having cut
their purses. All which the deputy of the Podesta had no sooner heard, than,
being a harsh man, he straightway took Martellino aside and began to examine
him. Martellino answered his questions in a bantering tone, making light of
the arrest; whereat the deputy, losing patience, had him bound to the
strappado, and caused him to receive a few hints of the cord with intent to
extort from him a confession of his guilt, by way of preliminary to hanging
him. Taken down from the strappado, and questioned by the deputy if what his
accusers said were true, Martellino, as nothing was to be gained by denial,
answered:--"My lord, I am ready to confess the truth; let but my accusers
say, each of them, when and where I cut his purse, and I will tell you what
I have and what I have not done." "So be it," said the deputy, and caused a
few of them to be summoned. Whereupon Martellino, being charged with having
cut this, that or the other man's purse eight, six or four days ago, while
others averred that he had cut their purses that very day, answered thus:--
"My lord, these men lie in the throat, and for token that I speak true, I
tell you that, so far from having been here as long as they make out, it is
but very lately that I came into these parts, where I never was before; and
no sooner was I come, than, as my ill-luck would have it, I went to see the
body of this saint, and so have been carded as you see; and that what I say
is true, his Lordship's intendant of arrivals, and his book, and also my
host may certify. Wherefore, if you find that even so it is as I say,
hearken not to these wicked men, and spare me the torture and death which
they would have you inflict." In this posture of affairs Marchese and
Stecchi, learning that the Podesta's deputy was dealing rigorously with
Martellino, and had already put him to the strappado, grew mightily alarmed.
"We have made a mess of it," they said to themselves; "we have only taken
him out of the frying-pan to toss him into the fire." So, hurrying hither
and thither with the utmost zeal, they made diligent search until they found
their host, and told him how matters stood. The host had his laugh over the
affair, and then brought them to one Sandro Agolanti, who dwelt in Treviso
and had great interest with the Lord of the place. The host laid the whole
matter before Sandro, and, backed by Marchese and Stecchi, besought him to
undertake Martellino's cause. Sandro, after many a hearty laugh, hied him to
the Lord, who at his instance sent for Martellino. The messengers found
Martellino still in his shirt before the deputy, at his wits' end, and all
but beside himself with fear, because the deputy would hear nothing that he
said in his defence. Indeed, the deputy, having a spite against Florentines,
had quite made up his mind to have him hanged; he was therefore in the last
degree reluctant to surrender him to the Lord, and only did so upon
compulsion. Brought at length before the Lord, Martellino detailed to him
the whole affair, and prayed him as the greatest of favours to let him
depart in peace. The Lord had a hearty laugh over the adventure, and
bestowed a tunic on each of the three. So, congratulating themselves on
their unexpected deliverance from so great a peril, they returned home safe
and sound.


Rinaldo d'Asti is robbed, arrives at Castel Guglielmo, and is entertained by
a widow lady; his property is restored to him, and he returns home safe and

The ladies and the young men, especially Filostrato, laughed inordinately at
Neifile's narrative of Martellino's misadventures. Then Filostrato, who sate
next Neifile, received the queen's command to follow her, and promptly thus

Fair ladies, 'tis on my mind to tell you a story in which are mingled things
sacred and passages of adverse fortune and love, which to hear will
perchance be not unprofitable, more especially to travellers in love's
treacherous lands; of whom if any fail to say St. Julian's paternoster, it
often happens that, though he may have a good bed, he is ill lodged.

Know, then, that in the time of the Marquis Azzo da Ferrara, a merchant,
Rinaldo d'Asti by name, having disposed of certain affairs which had brought
him to Bologna, set his face homeward, and having left Ferrara behind him
was on his way to Verona, when he fell in with some men that looked like
merchants, but were in truth robbers and men of evil life and condition,
whose company he imprudently joined, riding and conversing with them. They,
perceiving that he was a merchant, and judging that he must have money about
him, complotted to rob him on the first opportunity; and to obviate
suspicion they played the part of worthy and reputable men, their discourse
of nought but what was seemly and honourable and leal, their demeanour at
once as respectful and as cordial as they could make it; so that he deemed
himself very lucky to have met with them, being otherwise alone save for a
single mounted servant. Journeying thus, they conversed after the desultory
manner of travellers, of divers matters, until at last they fell a talking
of the prayers which men address to God, and one of the robbers--there were
three of them--said to Rinaldo:--"And you, gentle sir, what is your wonted
orison when you are on your travels?" Rinaldo answered:--"Why, to tell the
truth, I am a man unskilled, unlearned in such matters, and few prayers have
I at my command, being one that lives in the good old way and lets two soldi
count for twenty-four deniers; nevertheless it has always been my custom in
journeying to say of a morning, as I leave the inn, a paternoster and an
avemaria for the souls of the father and mother of St. Julian, after which I
pray God and St. Julian to provide me with a good inn for the night. And
many a time in the course of my life have I met with great perils by the
way, and evading them all have found comfortable quarters for the night:
whereby my faith is assured, that St. Julian, in whose honour I say my
paternoster, has gotten me this favour of God; nor should I look for a
prosperous journey and a safe arrival at night, if I had not said it in the
morning." Then said his interrogator:--"And did you say it this morning?"
Whereto Rinaldo answered, "Troth, did I," which caused the other, who by
this time knew what course matters would take, to say to himself:--"'Twill
prove to have been said in the nick of time; for if we do not miscarry, I
take it thou wilt have but a sorry lodging." Then turning to Rinaldo he
said:--"I also have travelled much, and never a prayer have I said though I
have heard them much, commended by many, nor has it ever been my lot to find
other than good quarters for the night; it may be that this very evening you
will be able to determine which of us has the better lodging, you that have
said the paternoster, or I that have not said it. True, however, it is that
in its stead I am accustomed to say the 'Dirupisti,' or the 'Intemerata,' or
the 'De profundis,' which, if what my grandmother used to say is to be
believed, are of the greatest efficacy." So, talking of divers matters, and
ever on the look-out for time and place suited to their evil purpose, they
continued their journey, until towards evening, some distance from Castel
Guglielmo, as they were about to ford a stream, these three ruffians,
profiting by the lateness of the hour, and the loneliness and straitness of
the place, set upon Rinaldo and robbed him, and leaving him afoot and in his
shirt, said by way of adieu:--"Go now, and see if thy St. Julian will
provide thee with good lodging to-night; our saint, we doubt not, will do as
much by us;" and so crossing the stream, they went their way. Rinaldo's
servant, coward that he was, did nothing to help his master when he saw him
attacked, but turned his horse's head, and was off at a smart pace; nor did
he draw rein until he was come to Castel Guglielmo; where, it being now
evening, he put up at an inn and gave himself no further trouble. Rinaldo,
left barefoot, and stripped to his shirt, while the night closed in very
cold and snowy, was at his wits' end, and shivering so that his teeth
chattered in his head, began to peer about, if haply he might find some
shelter for the night, that so he might not perish with the cold; but,
seeing none (for during a recent war the whole country had been wasted by
fire), he set off for Castel Guglielmo, quickening his pace by reason of the
cold. Whether his servant had taken refuge in Castel Guglielmo or elsewhere,
he knew not, but he thought that, could he but enter the town, God would
surely send him some succour. However, dark night overtook him while he was
still about a mile from the castle; so that on his arrival he found the
gates already locked and the bridges raised, and he could not pass in. Sick
at heart, disconsolate and bewailing his evil fortune, he looked about for
some place where he might ensconce himself, and at any rate find shelter
from the snow. And by good luck he espied a house, built with a balcony a
little above the castle-wall, under which balcony he purposed to shelter
himself until daybreak. Arrived at the spot, he found beneath the balcony a
postern, which, however, was locked; and having gathered some bits of straw
that lay about, he placed them in front of the postern, and there in sad and
sorrowful plight took up his quarters, with many a piteous appeal to St.
Julian, whom he reproached for not better rewarding the faith which he
reposed in him. St. Julian, however, had not abandoned him, and in due time
provided him with a good lodging.

There was in the castle a widow lady of extraordinary beauty (none fairer)
whom Marquis Azzo loved as his own life, and kept there for his pleasure.
She lived in the very same house beneath the balcony of which Rinaldo had
posted himself. Now it chanced that that very day the Marquis had come to
Castel Guglielmo to pass the night with her, and had privily caused a bath
to be made ready, and a supper suited to his rank, in the lady's own house.
The arrangements were complete; and only the Marquis was stayed for, when a
servant happened to present himself at the castle-gate, bringing tidings for
the Marquis which obliged him suddenly to take horse. He therefore sent word
to the lady that she must not wait for him, and forthwith took his
departure. The lady, somewhat disconsolate, found nothing better to do than
to get into the bath which had been intended for the Marquis, sup and go to
bed: so into the bath she went. The bath was close to the postern on the
other side of which hapless Rinaldo had ensconced himself, and, thus the
mournful and quavering music which Rinaldo made as he shuddered in the cold,
and which seemed rather to proceed from a stork's beak than from the mouth
of a human being, was audible to the lady in the bath. She therefore called
her maid, and said to her:--"Go up and look out over the wall and down at
the postern, and mark who is there, and what he is, and what he does there."
The maid obeyed, and, the night being fine, had no difficulty in making out
Rinaldo as he sate there, barefoot, as I have, said, and in his shirt, and
trembling in every limb. So she called out to him, to know who he was.
Rinaldo, who could scarcely articulate for shivering, told as briefly as he
could, who he was, and how and why he came to be there; which done, he began
piteously to, beseech her not, if she could avoid it, to leave him there all
night to perish of cold. The maid went back to her mistress full of pity for
Rinaldo, and told her all she had seen and heard. The lady felt no less pity
for Rinaldo; and bethinking her that she had the key of the postern by which
the Marquis sometimes entered when he paid her a secret visit, she said to
the maid:--"Go, and let him in softly; here is this supper, and there will
be none to eat it; and we can very well put him up for the night." Cordially
commending her mistress's humanity, the maid went and let Rinaldo in, and
brought him to the lady, who, seeing that he was all but dead with cold,
said to him:--"Quick, good man, get into that bath, which is still warm."
Gladly he did so, awaiting no second invitation, and was so much comforted
by its warmth that he seemed to have passed from death to life. The lady
provided him with a suit of clothes, which had been worn by her husband
shortly before his death, and which, when he had them on, looked as if they
had been made for him. So he recovered heart, and, while he awaited the
lady's commands, gave thanks to God and St. Julian for delivering him from a
woful night and conducting him, as it seemed, to comfortable quarters.

The lady meanwhile took a little rest, after which she had a roaring fire
put in one of her large rooms, whither presently she came, and asked her
maid how the good man did. The maid replied:--"Madam, he has put on the
clothes, in which he shews to advantage, having a handsome person, and
seeming to be a worthy man, and well-bred." "Go, call him then," said the
lady, "tell him to come hither to the fire, and we will sup; for I know that
he has not supped." Rinaldo, on entering the room and seeing the lady, took
her to be of no small consequence. He therefore made her a low bow, and did
his utmost to thank her worthily for the service she had rendered him. His
words pleased her no less than his person, which accorded with what the maid
had said: so she made him heartily welcome, installed him at his ease by her
side before the fire, and questioned him of the adventure which had brought
him thither. Rinaldo detailed all the circumstances, of which the lady had
heard somewhat when Rinaldo's servant made his appearance at the castle. She
therefore gave entire credence to what he said, and told him what she knew
about his servant, and how he might easily find him on the morrow. She then
bade set the table, which done, Rinaldo and she washed their hands and sate
down together to sup. Tall he was and comely of form and feature, debonair
and gracious of mien and manner, and in his lusty prime. The lady had eyed
him again and again to her no small satisfaction, and, her wantonness being
already kindled for the Marquis, who was to have come to lie with her, she
had let Rinaldo take the vacant place in her mind. So when supper was done,
and they were risen from the table, she conferred with her maid, whether,
after the cruel trick played upon her by the Marquis, it were not well to
take the good gift which Fortune had sent her. The maid knowing the bent of
her mistress's desire, left no word unsaid that might encourage her to
follow it. Wherefore the lady, turning towards Rinaldo, who was standing
where she had left him by the fire, began thus:--"So! Rinaldo, why still so
pensive? Will nothing console you for the loss of a horse and a few clothes?
Take heart, put a blithe face on it, you are at home; nay more, let me tell
you that, seeing you in those clothes which my late husband used to wear,
and taking you for him, I have felt, not once or twice, but perhaps a
hundred times this evening, a longing to throw my arms round you and kiss
you; and, in faith, I had so done, but that I feared it might displease
you." Rinaldo, hearing these words, and marking the flame which shot from
the lady's eyes, and being no laggard, came forward with open arms, and
confronted her and said:--"Madam, I am not unmindful that I must ever
acknowledge that to you I owe my life, in regard of the peril whence you
rescued me. If then there be any way in which I may pleasure you, churlish
indeed were I not to devise it. So you may even embrace and kiss me to your
heart's content, and I will embrace and kiss you with the best of good
wills." There needed no further parley. The lady, all aflame with amorous
desire, forthwith threw herself into his arms, and straining him to her
bosom with a thousand passionate embraces, gave and received a thousand
kisses before they sought her chamber. There with all speed they went to
bed, nor did day surprise them until again and again and in full measure
they had satisfied their desire. With the first streaks of dawn they rose,
for the lady was minded that none should surmise aught of the affair. So,
having meanly habited Rinaldo, and replenished his purse, she enjoined him
to keep the secret, shewed him the way to the castle, where he was to find
his servant, and let him out by the same postern by which he had entered.
When it was broad day the gates were opened, and Rinaldo, passing himself
off as a traveller from distant parts, entered the castle, and found his
servant. Having put on the spare suit which was in his valise, he was about
to mount the servant's horse, when, as if by miracle, there were brought
into the castle the three gentlemen of the road who had robbed him the
evening before, having been taken a little while after for another offence.
Upon their confession Rinaldo's horse was restored to him, as were also his
clothes and money; so that he lost nothing except a pair of garters, of
which the robbers knew not where they had bestowed them. Wherefore Rinaldo,
giving thanks to God and St. Julian, mounted his horse, and returned home
safe and sound, and on the morrow the three robbers kicked heels in the


Three young men squander their substance and are reduced to poverty. Their
nephew, returning home a desperate man, falls in with an abbot, in whom he
discovers the daughter of the King of England. She marries him, and he
retrieves the losses and reestablishes the fortune of his uncles.

The ladies marvelled to hear the adventures of Rinaldo d'Asti, praised his
devotion, and gave thanks to God and St. Julian for the succour lent him in
his extreme need. Nor, though the verdict was hardly outspoken, was the lady
deemed unwise to take the boon which God had sent her. So they tittered and
talked of her night of delight, while Pampinea, being seated by Filostrato,
and surmising that her turn would, as it did, come next, was lost in
meditation on what she was to say. Roused from her reverie by the word of
the queen, she put on a cheerful courage, and thus began:--

Noble ladies, discourse as we may of Fortune's handiwork, much still remains
to be said if we but scan events aright, nor need we marvel thereat, if we
but duly consider that all matters, which we foolishly call our own, are in
her hands and therefore subject, at her inscrutable will, to every variety
of chance and change without any order therein by us discernible. Which is
indeed signally manifest everywhere and all day long; yet, as 'tis our
queen's will that we speak thereof, perhaps 'twill not be unprofitable to
you, if, notwithstanding it has been the theme of some of the foregoing
stories, I add to them another, which, I believe, should give you pleasure.

There was formerly in our city a knight, by name Messer Tedaldo, of the
Lamberti, according to some, or, as others say, of the Agolanti family,
perhaps for no better reason than that the occupation of his sons was
similar to that which always was and is the occupation of the Agolanti.
However, without professing to determine which of the two houses he belonged
to, I say, that he was in his day a very wealthy knight, and had three sons,
the eldest being by name Lamberto, the second Tedaldo, and the third
Agolante. Fine, spirited young men were they all, though the eldest was not
yet eighteen years old when their father, Messer Tedaldo, died very rich,
leaving to them as his lawful heirs the whole of his property both movable
and immovable. Finding themselves thus possessed of great wealth, both in
money and in lands and chattels, they fell to spending without stint or
restraint, indulging their every desire, maintaining a great establishment,
and a large and well-filled stable, besides dogs and hawks, keeping ever
open house, scattering largesses, jousting, and, not content with these and
the like pastimes proper to their condition, indulging every appetite
natural to their youth. They had not long followed this course of life
before the cash left them by their father was exhausted; and, their rents
not sufficing to defray their expenditure, they began to sell and pledge
their property, and disposing of it by degrees, one item to-day and another
to-morrow, they hardly perceived that they were approaching the verge of
ruin, until poverty opened the eyes which wealth had fast sealed. So one day
Lamberto called his brothers to him, reminded them of the position of wealth
and dignity which had been theirs and their father's before them, and shewed
them the poverty to which their extravagance had reduced them, and adjured
them most earnestly that, before their destitution was yet further manifest,
they should all three sell what little remained to them and depart thence;
which accordingly they did. Without leave-taking, or any ceremony, they
quitted Florence; nor did they rest until they had arrived in England and
established themselves in a small house in London, where, by living with
extreme parsimony and lending at exorbitant usances, they prospered so well
that in the course of a few years they amassed a fortune; and so, one by
one, they returned to Florence, purchased not a few of their former estates
besides many others, and married. The management of their affairs in
England, where they continued their business of usurers, they left to a
young nephew, Alessandro by name, while, heedless alike of the teaching of
experience and of marital and parental duty, they all three launched out at
Florence into more extravagant expenditure than before, and contracted debts
on all hands and to large amounts. This expenditure they were enabled for
some years to support by the remittances made by Alessandro, who, to his
great profit, had lent money to the barons on the security of their castles
and rents.

While the three brothers thus continued to spend freely, and, when short of
money, to borrow it, never doubting of help from England, it so happened
that, to the surprise of everybody, there broke out in England a war between
the King and his son, by which the whole island was divided into two camps;
whereby Alessandro lost all his mortgages, of the baronial castles and every
other source of income whatsoever. However, in the daily expectation that
peace would be concluded between the King and his son, Alessandro, hoping
that in that event all would be restored to him, principal and interest,
tarried in the island; and the three brothers at Florence in no degree
retrenched their extravagant expenditure, but went on borrowing from day to
day. Several years thus passed; and, their hopes being frustrated, the three
brothers not only lost credit, but, being pressed for payment by their
creditors, were suddenly arrested, and, their property proving deficient,
were kept in prison for the balance, while their wives and little children
went into the country parts, or elsewhere, wretchedly equipped, and with no
other prospect than to pass the rest of their days in destitution.
Alessandro, meanwhile, seeing that the peace, which he had for several years
awaited in England, did not come, and deeming that he would hazard his life
to no purpose by tarrying longer in the country, made up his mind to return
to Italy. He travelled at first altogether alone; but it so chanced that he
left Bruges at the same time with an abbot, habited in white, attended by a
numerous retinue, and preceded by a goodly baggage-train. Behind the abbot
rode two greybeard knights, kinsmen of the King, in whom Alessandro
recognised acquaintances, and, making himself known to them, was readily
received into their company. As thus they journeyed together, Alessandro
softly asked them who the monks were that rode in front with so great a
train, and whither they were bound. "The foremost rider," replied one of the
knights, "is a young kinsman of ours, the newly-elected abbot of one of the
greatest abbeys of England,; and as he is not of legal age for such a
dignity, we are going with him to Rome to obtain the Holy Father's
dispensation and his confirmation in the office; but this is not a matter
for common talk." Now the new abbot, as lords are wont to do when they
travel, was sometimes in front, sometimes in rear of his train; and thus it
happened that, as he passed, he set eyes on Alessandro, who was still quite
young, and very shapely and well-favoured, and as courteous, gracious and
debonair as e'er another. The abbot was marvellously taken with him at first
sight, having never seen aught that pleased him so much, called him to his
side, addressed him graciously, and asked him who he was, whence he came,
and whither he was bound. Alessandro frankly told all about himself, and
having thus answered the abbot's questions, placed himself at his service as
far as his small ability might extend. The abbot was struck by his easy flow
of apt speech, and observing his bearing more closely, he made up his mind
that , albeit his occupation was base, he was nevertheless of gentle blood,
which added no little to his interest in him; and being moved to compassion
by his misfortunes, he gave him friendly consolation, bidding him be of good
hope, that if he lived a worthy life, God would yet set him in a place no
less or even more exalted than that whence Fortune had cast him down, and
prayed him to be of his company as far as Tuscany, as both were going the
same way. Alessandro thanked him for his words of comfort, and professed
himself ready to obey his every command.

So fared on the abbot, his mind full of new ideas begotten by the sight of
Alessandro, until some days later they came to a town which was none too
well provided with inns; and, as the abbot must needs put up there,
Alessandro, who was well acquainted with one of the innkeepers, arranged
that the abbot should alight at his house, and procured him the least
discomfortable quarters which it could afford. He thus became for the nonce
the abbot's seneschal, and being very expert for such office, managed
excellently, quartering the retinue in divers parts of the town. So the
abbot supped, and, the night being far spent, all went to bed except
Alessandro, who then asked the host where he might find quarters for the
night. "In good sooth, I know not," replied the host; "thou seest that every
place is occupied, and that I and my household must lie on the benches.
However, in the abbot's chamber there are some corn-sacks. I can shew thee
the way thither, and lay a bit of a bed upon them, and there, an it like
thee, thou mayst pass the night very well." "How sayst thou?" said
Alessandro; "in the abbot's chamber, which thou knowest is small, so that
there was not room for any of the monks to sleep there? Had I understood
this when the curtains were drawn, I would have quartered his monks on the
corn-sacks, and slept myself where the monks sleep." "'Tis even so,
however," replied the host, "and thou canst, if thou wilt, find excellent
quarters there: the abbot sleeps, the curtains are close drawn; I will go in
softly and lay a small bed there, on which thou canst sleep." Alessandro,
satisfied that it might be managed without disturbing the abbot, accepted
the offer, and made his arrangements for passing the night as quietly as he

The abbot was not asleep; his mind being far too overwrought by certain
newly-awakened desires. He had heard what had passed between Alessandro and
the host, he had marked the place where Alessandro had lain down, and in the
great gladness of his heart had begun thus to commune with himself:--"God
has sent me the opportunity of gratifying my desire; if I let it pass,
perchance it will be long before another such opportunity occurs." So, being
minded by no means to let it slip, when all was quiet in the inn, he softly
called Alessandro, and bade him lie down by his side. Alessandro made many
excuses, but ended by undressing and obeying whereupon the abbot laid a hand
on Alessandro's breast, and began to caress him just as amorous girls do
their lovers; whereat Alessandro marvelled greatly, doubting the abbot was
prompted to such caresses by a shameful love. Which the abbot speedily
divined, or else surmised from some movement on Alessandro's part, and,
laughing, threw off a chemise which she had upon her, and taking
Alessandro's hand, laid it on her bosom, saying:--"Alessandro, dismiss thy
foolish thought, feel here, and learn what I conceal." Alessandro obeyed,
laying a hand upon the abbot's bosom, where he encountered two little teats,
round, firm and delicate, as they had been of ivory; whereby he at once knew
that 'twas a woman, and without awaiting further encouragement forthwith
embraced her, and would have kissed her, when she said:--"Before thou art
more familiar with me hearken to what I have to say to thee. As thou mayst
perceive, I am no man, but a woman. Virgin I left my home, and was going to
the Pope to obtain his sanction for my marriage, when, as Fortune willed,
whether for thy gain or my loss, no sooner had I seen thee the other day,
than I burned for thee with such a flame of love as never yet had lady for
any man. Wherefore I am minded to have thee for my husband rather than any
other; so, if thou wilt not have me to wife, depart at once, and return to
thine own place." Albeit he knew not who she was, Alessandro by the retinue
which attended her conjectured that she must be noble and wealthy, and he
saw that she was very fair; so it was not long before he answered that, if
such were her pleasure, it was very much to his liking. Whereupon she sate
up, set a ring on his finger, and espoused him before a tiny picture of our
Lord; after which they embraced, and to their no small mutual satisfaction
solaced themselves for the rest of the night. At daybreak Alessandro rose,
and by preconcert with the lady, left the chamber as he had entered it, so
that none knew where he had passed the night: then, blithe at heart beyond
measure, he rejoined the abbot and his train, and so, resuming their
journey, they after many days arrived at Rome. They had not been there more
than a few days, when the abbot, attended by the two knights and Alessandro,
waited on the Pope, whom, after making the due obeisance, he thus
addressed:--"Holy Father, as you must know better than any other, whoso
intends to lead a true and honourable life ought, as far as may be, to shun
all occasion of error; for which cause I, having a mind to live honourably,
did, the better to accomplish my purpose, assume the habit in which you see
me, and depart by stealth from the court of my father, the King of England,
who was minded to marry me, young as you see me to be, to the aged King of
Scotland; and, carrying with me not a little of his treasure, set my face
hitherward that your Holiness might bestow me in marriage. Nor was it the
age of the King of Scotland that moved me to flee so much as fear lest the
frailty of my youth should, were I married to him, betray me to commit some
breach of divine law, and sully the honour of my father's royal blood. And
as in this frame of mind I journeyed, God, who knows best what is meet for
every one, did, as I believe, of His mercy shew me him whom He is pleased to
appoint me for my husband, even this young man" (pointing to Alessandro)
"whom you see by my side, who for nobility of nature and bearing is a match
for any great lady, though the strain of his blood, perhaps, be not of royal
purity. Him, therefore, have I chosen. Him will I have, and no other, no
matter what my father or any one else may think. And albeit the main purpose
with which I started is fulfilled, yet I have thought good to continue my
journey, that I may visit the holy and venerable places which abound in this
city, and your Holiness, and that so in your presence, and by consequence in
the presence of others, I may renew my marriage-vow with Alessandro, whereof
God alone was witness. Wherefore I humbly pray you that God's will and mine
may be also yours, and that you pronounce your benison thereon, that
therewith, having the more firm assurance of the favour of Him, whose vicar
you are, we may both live together, and, when the time comes, die to God's
glory and yours."

Alessandro was filled with wonder and secret delight, when he heard that his
wife was the daughter of the King of England; but greater still was the
wonder of the two knights, and such their wrath that, had they been anywhere
else than in the Pope's presence, they would not have spared to affront
Alessandro, and perhaps the lady too. The Pope, on his part, found matter
enough for wonder as well in the lady's habit as in her choice; but, knowing
that he could not refuse, he consented to grant her request.

He therefore began by smoothing the ruffled tempers of the knights, and
having reconciled them with the lady and Alessandro, proceeded to put
matters in train for the marriage. When the day appointed was come, he gave
a great reception, at which were assembled all the cardinals and many other
great lords; to whom he presented the lady royally robed, and looking so
fair and so gracious that she won, as she deserved, the praise of all, and
likewise Alessandro, splendidly arrayed, and bearing himself not a whit like
the young usurer but rather as one of royal blood, for which cause he
received due honour from the knights. There, before the Pope himself, the
marriage-vows were solemnly renewed; and afterwards the marriage, which was
accompanied by every circumstance that could add grace and splendour to the
ceremony, received the sanction of his benediction. Alessandro and the lady
on leaving Rome saw fit to visit Florence, whither fame had already wafted
the news, so that they were received by the citizens with every token of
honour. The lady set the three brothers at liberty, paying all their
creditors, and reinstated them and their wives in their several properties.
So, leaving gracious memories behind them, Alessandro and his lady,
accompanied by Agolante, quitted Florence, and arriving at Paris were
honourably received by the King. The two knights went before them to
England, and by their influence induced the King to restore the lady to his
favour, and receive her and his son-in-law with every circumstance of joy
and honour. Alessandro he soon afterwards knighted with unwonted ceremony,
and bestowed on him the earldom of Cornwall. And such was the Earl's
consequence and influence at court that he restored peace between father and
son, thereby conferring a great boon on the island and gaining the love and
esteem of all the people. Agolante, whom he knighted, recovered all the
outstanding debts in full, and returned to Florence immensely rich. The Earl
passed the rest of his days with his lady in great renown. Indeed there are
those who say, that with the help of his father-in-law he effected by his
policy and valour the conquest of Scotland, and was crowned king of that


Landolfo Ruffolo is reduced to poverty, turns corsair, is captured by
Genoese, is shipwrecked, escapes on a chest full of jewels, and, being cast
ashore at Corfu, is hospitably entertained by a woman, and returns home

When Pampinea had brought her story to this glorious conclusion, Lauretta,
who sate next her, delayed not, but thus began:--

Most gracious ladies, the potency of Fortune is never, methinks, more
conspicuous than when she raises one, as in Pampinea's story we have seen
her raise Alessandro, from abject misery to regal state. And such being the
limits which our theme henceforth imposes on our invention, I shall feel no
shame to tell a story wherein reverses yet greater are compensated by a
sequel somewhat less dazzling. Well I know that my story, being compared
with its predecessor, will therefore be followed with the less interest;
but, failing of necessity, I shall be excused.

Scarce any part of Italy is reputed so delectable as the sea-coast between
Reggio and Gaeta; and in particular the slope which overlooks the sea by
Salerno, and which the dwellers there call the Slope of Amalfi, is studded
with little towns, gardens and fountains, and peopled by men as wealthy and
enterprising in mercantile affairs as are anywhere to be found; in one of
which towns, to wit, Ravello, rich as its inhabitants are to-day, there was
formerly a merchant, who surpassed them all in wealth, Landolfo Ruffolo by
name, who yet, not content with his wealth, but desiring to double it, came
nigh to lose it all and his own life to boot. Know, then, that this man,
having made his calculations, as merchants are wont, bought a great ship,
which, entirely at his own expense, he loaded with divers sorts of
merchandise, and sailed to Cyprus. There he found several other ships, each
laden with just such a cargo as his own, and was therefore fain to dispose
of his goods at a very cheap rate, insomuch that he might almost as well
have thrown them away, and was brought to the verge of ruin. Mortified
beyond measure to find himself thus reduced in a short space of time from
opulence to something like poverty, he was at his wits' end, and rather than
go home poor, having left home rich, he was minded to retrieve his losses by
piracy or die in the attempt. So he sold his great ship, and with the price
and the proceeds of the sale of his merchandise bought a light bark such as
corsairs use, and having excellently well equipped her with the armament and
all things else meet for such service, took to scouring the seas as a rover,
preying upon all folk alike, but more particularly upon the Turk.

In this enterprise he was more favoured by Fortune than in his trading
adventures. A year had scarce gone by before he had taken so many ships from
the Turk that not only had he recovered the fortune which he had lost in
trade, but was well on the way to doubling it. The bitter memory of his late
losses taught him sobriety; he estimated his gains and found them ample; and
lest he should have a second fall, he schooled himself to rest content with
them, and made up his mind to return home without attempting to add to them.
Shy of adventuring once more in trade, he refrained from investing them in
any way, but shaped his course for home, carrying them with him in the very
same bark in which he had gotten them. He had already entered the
Archipelago when one evening a contrary wind sprang up from the south-east,
bringing with it a very heavy sea, in which his bark could not well have
lived. He therefore steered her into a bay under the lee of one of the
islets, and there determined to await better weather. As he lay there two
great carracks of Genoa, homeward-bound from Constantinople, found, not
without difficulty, shelter from the tempest in the same bay. The masters of
the carracks espied the bark, and found out to whom she belonged: the fame
of Landolfo and his vast wealth had already reached them, and had excited
their natural cupidity and rapacity. They therefore determined to capture
the bark, which lay without means of escape. Part of their men, well armed
with cross-bows and other weapons, they accordingly sent ashore, so posting
them that no one could leave the bark without being exposed to the bolts;
the rest took to their boats, and rowed up to the side of Landolfo's little
craft, which in a little time, with little trouble and no loss or risk, they
captured with all aboard her. They then cleared the bark of all she
contained, allowing Landolfo, whom they set aboard one of the carracks, only
a pitiful doublet, and sunk her. Next day the wind shifted, and the carracks
set sail on a westerly course, which they kept prosperously enough
throughout the day; but towards evening a tempest arose, and the sea became
very boisterous, so that the two ships were parted one from the other. And
such was the fury of the gale that the ship, aboard which was poor, hapless
Landolfo, was driven with prodigious force upon a shoal off the island of
Cephalonia, and broke up and went to pieces like so much glass dashed
against a wall. Wherefore the unfortunate wretches that were aboard her,
launched amid the floating merchandise and chests and planks with which the
sea was strewn, did as men commonly do in such a case; and, though the night
was of the murkiest and the sea rose and fell in mountainous surges, such as
could swim sought to catch hold of whatever chance brought in their way.
Among whom hapless Landolfo, who only the day before had again and again
prayed for death, rather than he should return home in such poverty, now,
seeing death imminent, was afraid; and, like the rest, laid hold of the
first plank that came to hand, in the hope that, if he could but avoid
immediate drowning, God would in some way aid his escape. Gripping the beam
with his legs as best he might, while wind and wave tossed him hither and
thither, he contrived to keep himself afloat until broad day: when, looking
around him, he discerned nothing but clouds and sea and a chest, which,
borne by the wave, from time to time drew nigh him to his extreme terror,
for he apprehended it might strike against the plank, and do him a mischief;
and ever, as it came near him, he pushed it off with all the little force he
had in his hand. But, as it happened, a sudden gust of wind swept down upon
the sea, and struck the chest with such force that it was driven against the
plank on which Landolfo was, and upset it, and Landolfo went under the
waves. Swimming with an energy begotten rather of fear than of strength, he
rose to the surface only to see the plank so far from him that, doubting he
could not reach it, he made for the chest, which was close at hand; and
resting his breast upon the lid, he did what he could to keep it straight
with his arms. In this manner, tossed to and fro by the sea, without tasting
food, for not a morsel had he with him, and drinking more than he cared for,
knowing not where he was, and seeing nothing but the sea, he remained all
that day, and the following night. The next day, as the will of God, or the
force of the wind so ordered, more like a sponge than aught else, but still
with both hands holding fast by the edges of the chest, as we see those do
that clutch aught to save themselves from drowning, he was at length borne
to the coast of the island of Corfu, where by chance a poor woman was just
then scrubbing her kitchen-ware with sand and salt-water to make it shine.
The woman caught sight of him as he drifted shorewards, but making out only
a shapeless mass, was at first startled, and shrieked and drew back.
Landolfo was scarce able to see, and uttered no sound, for his power of
speech was gone. However, when the sea brought him close to the shore, she
distinguished the shape of the chest, and gazing more intently, she first
made out the arms strained over the chest, and then discerned the face and
divined the truth. So, prompted by pity, she went out a little way into the
sea, which was then calm, took him by the hair of the head, and drew him to
land, chest and all. Then, not without difficulty she disengaged his hands
from the chest, which she set on the head of a little girl, her daughter,
that was with her, carried him home like a little child, and set him in a
bath, where she chafed and laved him with warm water, until, the vital heat
and some part of the strength which he had lost being restored, she saw fit
to take him out and regale him with some good wine and comfits. Thus for
some days she tended him as best she could, until he recovered his strength,
and knew where he was. Then, in due time, the good woman, who had kept his
chest safe, gave it back to him, and bade him try his fortune.

Landolfo could not recall the chest, but took it when she brought it to him,
thinking that, however slight its value, it must suffice for a few days'
charges. He found it very light, and quite lost hope; but when the good
woman was out of doors, he opened it to see what was inside, and found there
a great number of precious stones, some set, others unset. Having some
knowledge of such matters, he saw at a glance that the stones were of great
value; wherefore, feeling that he was still not forsaken by God, he praised
His name, and quite recovered heart. But, having in a brief space of time
been twice shrewdly hit by the bolts of Fortune, he was apprehensive of a
third blow, and deemed it meet to use much circumspection in conveying his
treasure home; so he wrapped it up in rags as best he could, telling the
good woman that he had no more use for the chest, but she might keep it if
she wished, and give him a sack in exchange. This the good woman readily
did; and he, thanking her as heartily as he could for the service she had
rendered him, threw his sack over his shoulders, and, taking ship, crossed
to Brindisi. Thence he made his way by the coast as far as Trani, where he
found some of his townsfolk that were drapers, to whom he narrated all his
adventures except that of the chest. They in charity gave him a suit of
clothes, and lent him a horse and their escort as far as Ravello, whither,
he said, he was minded to return. There, thanking God for bringing him safe
home, he opened his sack, and examining its contents with more care than
before, found the number, and fashion of the stones to be such that the sale
of them at a moderate price, or even less, would leave him twice as rich as
when he left Ravello. So, having disposed of his stones, he sent a large sum
of money to Corfu in recompense of the service done him by the good woman
who had rescued him from the sea, and also to his friends at Trani who had
furnished him with the clothes; the residue he retained, and, making no more
ventures in trade, lived and died in honourable estate.


Andreuccio da Perugia comes to Naples to buy horses, meets with three
serious adventures in one night, comes safe out of them all, and returns
home with a ruby.

Landolfo's find of stones, began Fiammetta, on whom the narration now fell,
has brought to my mind a story in which there are scarce fewer perilous
scapes than in Lauretta's story, but with this difference: that, instead of
a course of perhaps several years, a single night, as you shall hear,
sufficed for their occurrence.

In Perugia, by what I once gathered, there lived a young man, Andreuccio di
Pietro by name, a horse-dealer, who, having learnt that horses were to be
had cheap at Naples, put five hundred florins of gold in his purse, and in
company with some other merchants went thither, never having been away from
home before. On his arrival at Naples, which was on a Sunday evening, about
vespers, he learnt from his host that the fair would be held on the
following morning. Thither accordingly he then repaired, and looked at many
horses which pleased him much, and cheapening them more and more, and
failing to strike a bargain with any one, he from time to time, being raw
and unwary, drew out his purse of florins in view of all that came and went,
to shew that he meant business.

While he was thus chaffering, and after he had shewn his purse, there
chanced to come by a Sicilian girl, fair as fair could be, but ready to
pleasure any man for a small consideration. He did not see her, but she saw
him and his purse, and forthwith said to herself:--"Who would be in better
luck than I if all those florins were mine?" and so she passed on. With the
girl was an old woman, also a Sicilian, who, when she saw Andreuccio,
dropped behind the girl, and ran towards him, making as if she would
tenderly embrace him. The girl observing this said nothing, but stopped and
waited a little way off for the old woman to rejoin her. Andreuccio turned
as the old woman came up, recognised her, and greeted her very cordially;
but time and place not permitting much converse, she left him, promising to
visit him at his inn; and he resumed his chaffering, but bought nothing that

Her old woman's intimate acquaintance with Andreuccio had no more escaped
the girl's notice than the contents of Andreuccio's purse; and with the view
of devising, if possible, some way to make the money, either in whole or in
part, her own, she began cautiously to ask the old woman, who and whence he
was, what he did there, and how she came to know him. The old woman gave her
almost as much and as circumstantial information touching Andreuccio and his
affairs as he might have done himself, for she had lived a great while with
his father, first in Sicily, and afterwards at Perugia. She likewise told
the girl the name of his inn, and the purpose with which he had come to
Naples. Thus fully armed with the names and all else that it was needful for
her to know touching Andreuccio's kith and kin, the girl founded thereon her
hopes of gratifying her cupidity, and forthwith devised a cunning stratagem
to effect her purpose. Home she went, and gave the old woman work enough to
occupy her all day, that she might not be able to visit Andreuccio; then,
summoning to her aid a little girl whom she had well trained for such
services, she sent her about vespers to the inn where Andreuccio lodged.
Arrived there, the little girl asked for Andreuccio of Andreuccio himself,
who chanced to be just outside the gate. On his answering that he was the
man, she took him aside, and said:--"Sir, a lady of this country, so please
you, would fain speak with you." Whereto he listened with all his ears, and
having a great conceit of his person, made up his mind that the lady was in
love with him, as if there were ne'er another handsome fellow in Naples but
himself; so forthwith he replied, that he would wait on the lady, and asked
where and when it would be her pleasure to speak with him. "Sir," replied
the little girl, "she expects you in her own house, if you be pleased to
come." "Lead on then, I follow thee," said Andreuccio promptly, vouchsafing
never a word to any in the inn. So the little girl guided him to her
mistress's house, which was situated in a quarter the character of which may
be inferred from its name, Evil Hole. Of this, however, he neither knew nor
suspected aught, but, supposing that the quarter was perfectly reputable and
that he was going to see a sweet lady, strode carelessly behind the little
girl into the house of her mistress, whom she summoned by calling out,
"Andreuccio is here;" and Andreuccio then saw her advance to the head of the
stairs to await his ascent. She was tall, still in the freshness of her
youth, very fair of face, and very richly and nobly clad. As Andreuccio
approached, she descended three steps to meet him with open arms, and
clasped him round the neck, but for a while stood silent as if from excess
of tenderness; then, bursting into a flood of tears, she kissed his brow,
and in slightly broken accents said:--"O Andreuccio, welcome, welcome, my
Andreuccio." Quite lost in wonder to be the recipient of such caresses,
Andreuccio could only answer:--"Madam, well met." Whereupon she took him by
the hand, led him up into her saloon, and thence without another word into
her chamber, which exhaled throughout the blended fragrance of roses,
orange-blossoms and other perfumes. He observed a handsome curtained bed,
dresses in plenty hanging, as is customary in that country, on pegs, and
other appointments very fair and sumptuous; which sights, being strange to
him, confirmed his belief that he was in the house of no other than a great
lady. They sate down side by side on a chest at the foot of the bed, and
thus she began to speak:--"Andreuccio, I cannot doubt that thou dost marvel
both at the caresses which I bestow upon thee, and at my tears, seeing that
thou knowest me not, and, maybe, hast never so much as heard my name; wait
but a moment and thou shalt learn what perhaps will cause thee to marvel
still, more to wit, that I am thy sister; and I tell thee, that, since of
God's especial grace it is granted me to see one, albeit I would fain see
all, of my brothers before I die, I shall not meet death, when the hour
comes, without consolation; but thou, perchance, hast never heard aught of
this; wherefore listen to what I shall say to thee. Pietro, my father and
thine, as I suppose thou mayst have heard, dwelt a long while at Palermo,
where his good heart and gracious bearing caused him to be (as he still is)
much beloved by all that knew him; but by none was he loved so much as by a
gentlewoman, afterwards my mother, then a widow, who, casting aside all
respect for her father and brothers, ay, and her honour, grew so intimate
with him that a child was born, which child am I thy sister, whom thou seest
before thee. Shortly after my birth it so befell that Pietro must needs
leave Palermo and return to Perugia, and I, his little daughter, was left
behind with my mother at Palermo; nor, so far as I have been able to learn,
did he ever again bestow a thought upon either of us. Wherefore--to say
nothing of the love which he should have borne me, his daughter by no
servant or woman of low degree--I should, were he not my father, gravely
censure the ingratitude which he shewed towards my mother, who, prompted by
a most loyal love, committed her fortune and herself to his keeping, without
so much as knowing who he was. But to what end? The wrongs of long-ago are
much more easily censured than redressed; enough that so it was. He left me
a little girl at Palermo, where, when I was grown to be almost as thou seest
me, my mother, who was a rich lady, gave me in marriage to an honest
gentleman of the Girgenti family, who for love of my mother and myself
settled in Palermo, and there, being a staunch Guelf, entered into
correspondence with our King Charles;(1) which being discovered by King
Frederic (2) before the time was ripe for action, we had perforce to flee
from Sicily just when I was expecting to become the greatest lady that ever
was in the island. So, taking with us such few things as we could, few, I
say, in comparison of the abundance which we possessed, we bade adieu to our
estates and palaces, and found a refuge in this country, and such favour
with King Charles that, in partial compensation for the losses which we had
sustained on his account, he has granted us estates and houses and an ample
pension, which he regularly pays to my husband and thy brother-in-law, as
thou mayst yet see. In this manner I live here but that I am blest with the
sight of thee, I ascribe entirely to the mercy of God; and no thanks to
thee, my sweet brother." So saying she embraced him again, and melting anew
into tears kissed his brow.

This story, so congruous, so consistent in every detail, came trippingly and
without the least hesitancy from her tongue. Andreuccio remembered that his
father had indeed lived at Palermo; he knew by his own experience the ways
of young folk, how prone they are to love; he saw her melt into tears, he
felt her embraces and sisterly kisses; and he took all she said for gospel.
So, when she had done, he answered:--"Madam, it should not surprise you that
I marvel, seeing that, in sooth, my father, for whatever cause, said never a
word of you and your mother, or, if he did so, it came not to my knowledge,
so that I knew no more of you than if you had not been; wherefore, the
lonelier I am here, and the less hope I had of such good luck, the better
pleased I am to have found here my sister. And indeed, I know not any man,
however exalted his station, who ought not to be well pleased to have such a
sister; much more, then, I, who am but a petty merchant; but, I pray you,
resolve me of one thing: how came you to know that I was here?" Then
answered she:--"'Twas told me this morning by a poor woman who is much about
the house, because, as she tells me, she was long in the service of our
father both at Palermo and at Perugia, and, but that it seemed more fitting
that thou shouldst come to see me at home than that I should visit thee at
an inn, I had long ago sought thee out." She then began to inquire
particularly after all his kinsfolk by name, and Andreuccio, becoming ever
more firmly persuaded of that which it was least for his good to believe,
answered all her questions. Their conversation being thus prolonged and the
heat great, she had Greek wine and sweetmeats brought in, and gave
Andreuccio to drink; and when towards supper-time he made as if he would
leave, she would in no wise suffer it; but, feigning to be very much vexed,
she embraced him, saying:--"Alas! now 'tis plain how little thou carest for
me: to think that thou art with thy sister, whom thou seest for the first
time, and in her own house, where thou shouldst have alighted on thine
arrival, and thou wouldst fain depart hence to go sup at an inn! Nay but,
for certain, thou shalt sup with me; and albeit, to my great regret, my
husband is not here, thou shalt see that I can do a lady's part in shewing
thee honour." Andreuccio, not knowing what else to say, replied:--"Sister, I
care for you with all a brother's affection; but if I go not, supper will
await me all the evening at the inn, and I shall justly be taxed with
discourtesy." Then said she:--"Blessed be God, there is even now in the
house one by whom I can send word that they are not to expect thee at the
inn, albeit thou wouldst far better discharge the debt of courtesy by
sending word to thy friends, that they come here to sup; and then, if go
thou must, you might all go in a body." Andreuccio replied, that he would
have none of his friends that evening, but since she would have him stay, he
would even do her the pleasure. She then made a shew of sending word to the
inn that they should not expect him at dinner. Much more talk followed; and
then they sate down to a supper of many courses splendidly served, which she
cunningly protracted until nightfall; nor, when they were risen from table,
and Andreuccio was about to take his departure, would she by any means
suffer it, saying that Naples was no place to walk about in after dark,
least of all for a stranger, and that, as she had sent word to the inn that
they were not to expect him at supper, so she had done the like in regard of
his bed. Believing what she said, and being (in his false confidence)
overjoyed to be with her, he stayed. After supper there was matter enough
for talk both various and prolonged; and, when the night was in a measure
spent, she gave up her own chamber to Andreuccio, leaving him with a small
boy to shew him aught that he might have need of, while she retired with her
women to another chamber.

It was a very hot night , so, no sooner was Andreuccio alone than he
stripped himself to his doublet, and drew off his stockings and laid them on
the bed's head; and nature demanding a discharge of the surplus weight which
he carried within him, he asked the lad where this might be done, and was
shewn a door in a corner of the room, and told to go in there. Andreuccio,
nothing doubting, did so, but, by ill luck, set his foot on a plank which
was detached from the joist at the further end, whereby down it went, and he
with it. By God's grace he took no hurt by the fall, though it was from some
height, beyond sousing himself from head to foot in the ordure which filled
the whole place, which, that you may the better understand what has been
said, and that which is to follow, I will describe to you. A narrow and
blind alley, such as we commonly see between two houses, was spanned by
planks supported by joists on either side, and on the planks was the stool;
of which planks that which fell with Andreuccio was one. Now Andreuccio,
finding himself down there in the alley, fell to calling on the lad, who, as
soon as he heard him fall, had run off, and promptly let the lady know what
had happened. She hied forthwith to her chamber, and after a hasty search
found Andreuccio's clothes and the money in them, for he foolishly thought
to secure himself against risk by carrying it always on his person, and thus
being possessed of the prize for which she had played her ruse, passing
herself off as the sister of a man of Perugia, whereas she was really of
Palermo, she concerned herself no further with Andreuccio except to close
with all speed the door by which he had gone out when he fell. As the lad
did not answer, Andreuccio began to shout more loudly; but all to no
purpose. Whereby his suspicions were aroused, and he began at last to
perceive the trick that had been played upon him; so he climbed over a low
wall that divided the alley from the street, and hied him to the door of the
house, which he knew very well. There for a long while he stood shouting and
battering the door till it shook on its hinges; but all again to no purpose.
No doubt of his misadventure now lurking in his mind, he fell to bewailing
himself, saying:--"Alas! in how brief a time have I lost five hundred
florins and a sister!" with much more of the like sort. Then he recommenced
battering the door and shouting, to such a tune that not a few of the
neighbours were roused, and finding the nuisance intolerable, got up; and
one of the lady's servant-girls presented herself at the window with a very
sleepy air, and said angrily:--"Who knocks below there?" "Oh!" said
Andreuccio, "dost not know me? I am Andreuccio, Madam Fiordaliso's brother."
"Good man," she rejoined, "if thou hast had too much to drink, go, sleep it
off, and come back to-morrow. I know not Andreuccio, nor aught of the
fantastic stuff thou pratest; prithee begone and be so good as to let us
sleep in peace." "How?" said Andreuccio, "dost not understand what I say?
For sure thou dost understand; but if Sicilian kinships are of such a sort
that folk forget them so soon, at least return me my clothes, which I left
within, and right glad shall I be to be off." Half laughing, she rejoined:--
"Good man, methinks thou dost dream;" and, so saying, she withdrew and
closed the window. Andreuccio by this time needed no further evidence of his
wrongs; his wrath knew no bounds, and mortification well-nigh converted it
into frenzy; he was minded to exact by force what he had failed to obtain by
entreaties; and so, arming himself with a large stone, he renewed his attack
upon the door with fury, dealing much heavier blows than at first.
Wherefore, not a few of the neighbours, whom he had already roused from
their beds, set him down as an ill-conditioned rogue, and his story as a
mere fiction intended to annoy the good woman, (3) and resenting the din
which he now made, came to their windows, just as, when a stranger dog makes
his appearance, all the dogs of the quarter will run to bark at him, and
called out in chorus:--"'Tis a gross affront to come at this time of night
to the house of the good woman with this silly story. Prithee, good man, let
us sleep in peace; begone in God's name; and if thou hast a score to settle
with her, come to-morrow, but a truce to thy pestering to-night."

Emboldened, perhaps, by these words, a man who lurked within the house, the
good woman's bully, whom Andreuccio had as yet neither seen nor heard,
shewed himself at the window, and said in a gruff voice and savage, menacing
tone:--"Who is below there?" Andreuccio looked up in the direction of the
voice, and saw standing at the window, yawning and rubbing his eyes as if he
had just been roused from his bed, or at any rate from deep sleep, a fellow
with a black and matted beard, who, as far as Andreuccio's means of judging
went, bade fair to prove a most redoubtable champion. It was not without
fear, therefore, that he replied:--"I am a brother of the lady who is
within." The bully did not wait for him to finish his sentence, but,
addressing him in a much sterner tone than before, called out:--"I know not
why I come not down and give thee play with my cudgel, whilst thou givest me
sign of life, ass, tedious driveller that thou must needs be, and drunken
sot, thus to disturb our night's rest." Which said, he withdrew, and closed
the window. Some of the neighbours who best knew the bully's quality gave
Andreuccio fair words. "For God's sake," said they, "good man, take thyself
off, stay not here to be murdered. 'Twere best for thee to go." These
counsels, which seemed to be dictated by charity, reinforced the fear which
the voice and aspect of the bully had inspired in Andreuccio, who, thus
despairing of recovering his money and in the deepest of dumps, set his face
towards the quarter whence in the daytime he had blindly followed the little
girl, and began to make his way back to the inn. But so noisome was the
stench which he emitted that he resolved to turn aside and take a bath in
the sea. So he bore leftward up a street called Ruga Catalana, and was on
his way towards the steep of the city, when by chance he saw two men coming
towards him, bearing a lantern, and fearing that they might be patrols or
other men who might do him a mischief, he stole away and hid himself in a
dismantled house to avoid them. The house, however, was presently entered by
the two men, just as if they had been guided thither; and one of them having
disburdened himself of some iron tools which he carried on his shoulder,
they both began to examine them, passing meanwhile divers comments upon
them. While they were thus occupied, "What," said one, means this? Such a
stench as never before did I smell the like. "So saying, he raised the
lantern a little; whereby they had a view of hapless Andreuccio, and asked
in amazement:--"Who is there?" Whereupon Andreuccio was at first silent, but
when they flashed the light close upon him, and asked him what he did there
in such a filthy state, he told them all that had befallen him. Casting
about to fix the place where it occurred, they said one to another:--"Of a
surety 'twas in the house of Scarabone Buttafuoco." Then said one, turning
to Andreuccio:--"Good man, albeit thou hast lost thy money, thou hast cause
enough to praise God that thou hadst the luck to fall; for hadst thou not
fallen, be sure that, no sooner wert thou asleep, than thou hadst been
knocked on the head, and lost not only thy money but thy life. But what
boots it now to bewail thee? Thou mightest as soon pluck a star from the
firmament as recover a single denier; nay, 'tis as much as thy life is worth
if he do but hear that thou breathest a word of the affair."

The two men then held a short consultation, at the close of which they
said:--"Lo now; we are sorry for thee, and so we make thee a fair offer. If
thou wilt join with us in a little matter which we have in hand, we doubt
not but thy share of the gain will greatly exceed what thou hast lost."
Andreuccio, being now desperate, answered that he was ready to join them.
Now Messer Filippo Minutolo, Archbishop of Naples, had that day been buried
with a ruby on his finger, worth over five hundred florins of gold, besides
other ornaments of extreme value. The two men were minded to despoil the
Archbishop of his fine trappings, and imparted their design to Andreuccio,
who, cupidity getting the better of caution, approved it; and so they all
three set forth. But as they were on their way to the cathedral, Andreuccio
gave out so rank an odour that one said to the other:--"Can we not contrive
that he somehow wash himself a little, that he stink not so shrewdly?" "Why
yes," said the other, "we are now close to a well, which is never without
the pulley and a large bucket; 'tis but a step thither, and we will wash him
out of hand." Arrived at the well, they found that the rope was still there,
but the bucket had been removed; so they determined to attach him to the
rope, and lower him into the well, there to wash himself, which done, he was
to jerk the rope, and they would draw him up. Lowered accordingly he was;
but just as, now washen, he jerked the rope, it so happened that a company
of patrols, being thirsty because 'twas a hot night and some rogue had led
them a pretty dance, came to the well to drink. The two men fled,
unobserved, as soon as they caught sight of the newcomers, who, parched with
thirst, laid aside their bucklers, arms and surcoats, and fell to hauling on
the rope, that it bore the bucket, full of water. When, therefore, they saw
Andreuccio, as he neared the brink of the well, loose the rope and clutch
the brink with his hands, they were stricken with a sudden terror, and
without uttering a word let go the rope, and took to flight with all the
speed they could make. Whereat Andreuccio marvelled mightily, and had he not
kept a tight grip on the brink of the well, he would certainly have gone
back to the bottom and hardly have escaped grievous hurt, or death. Still
greater was his astonishment, when, fairly landed on terra firma, he found
the patrols' arms lying there, which he knew had not been carried by his
comrades. He felt a vague dread, he knew not why; he bewailed once more his
evil fortune; and without venturing to touch the arms, he left the well and
wandered he knew not whither. As he went, however, he fell in with his two
comrades, now returning to draw him out of the well; who no sooner saw him
than in utter amazement they demanded who had hauled him up. Andreuccio
answered that he knew not, and then told them in detail how it had come
about, and what he had found beside the well. They laughed as they
apprehended the circumstances, and told him why they had fled, and who they
were that had hauled him up. Then without further parley, for it was now
midnight, they hied them to the cathedral. They had no difficulty in
entering and finding the tomb, which was a magnificent structure of marble,
and with their iron implements they raised the lid, albeit it was very
heavy, to a height sufficient to allow a man to enter, and propped it up.
This done, a dialogue ensued. "Who shall go in?" said one. "Not I," said the
other. "Nor I," rejoined his companion; "let Andreuccio go in." "That will
not I," said Andreuccio. Whereupon both turned upon him and said:--"How?
thou wilt not go in? By God, if thou goest not in, we will give thee that
over the pate with one of these iron crowbars that thou shalt drop down
dead." Terror-stricken, into the tomb Andreuccio went, saying to himself as
he did so:--"These men will have me go in, that they may play a trick upon
me: when I have handed everything up to them, and am sweating myself to get
out of the tomb, they will be off about their business, and I shall be left,
with nothing for my pains." So he determined to make sure of his own part
first; and bethinking him of the precious ring of which he had heard them
speak, as soon as he had completed the descent, he drew the ring off the
Archbishop's finger, and put it on his own: he then handed up one by one the
crosier, mitre and gloves, and other of the Archbishop's trappings,
stripping him to his shirt; which done, he told his comrades that there was
nothing more. They insisted that the ring must be there, and bade him search
everywhere. This he feigned to do, ejaculating from time to time that he
found it not; and thus he kept them a little while in suspense. But they,
who, were in their way as cunning as he, kept on exhorting him to make a
careful search, and, seizing their opportunity, withdrew the prop that
supported the lid of the tomb, and took to their heels, leaving him there a
close prisoner. You will readily conceive how Andreuccio behaved when he
understood his situation. More than once he applied his head and shoulders
to the lid and sought with might and main to heave it up; but all his
efforts were fruitless; so that at last, overwhelmed with anguish he fell in
a swoon on the corpse of the Archbishop, and whether of the twain were the
more lifeless, Andreuccio or the Archbishop, 'twould have puzzled an
observer to determine.

When he came to himself he burst into a torrent of tears, seeing now nothing
in store for him but either to perish there of hunger and fetid odours
beside the corpse and among the worms, or, should the tomb be earlier
opened, to be taken and hanged as a thief. These most lugubrious meditations
were interrupted by a sound of persons walking and talking in the church.
They were evidently a numerous company, and their purpose, as Andreuccio
surmised, was the very same with which he and his comrades had come thither:
whereby his terror was mightily increased. Presently the folk opened the
tomb, and propped up the lid, and then fell to disputing as to who should go
in. None was willing, and the contention was protracted; but at length one--
'twas a priest--said:--"Of what are ye afeared? Think ye to be eaten by him?
Nay, the dead eat not the living. I will go in myself." So saying he propped
his breast upon the edge of the lid, threw his head back, and thrust his
legs within, that he might go down feet foremost. On sight whereof
Andreuccio started to his feet, and seizing hold of one of the priest's
legs, made as if he would drag him down; which caused the priest to utter a
prodigious yell, and bundle himself out of the tomb with no small celerity.
The rest took to flight in a panic, as if a hundred thousand devils were at
their heels. The tomb being thus left open, Andreuccio, the ring still on
his finger, spring out. The way by which he had entered the church served
him for egress, and roaming at random, he arrived towards daybreak at the
coast. Diverging thence he came by chance upon his inn, where he found that
his host and his comrades had been anxious about him all night. When he told
them all that had befallen him, they joined with the host in advising him to
leave Naples at once. He accordingly did so, and returned to Perugia, having
invested in a ring the money with which he had intended to buy horses.

(1) Charles II. of Naples, son of Charles of Anjou.
(2) Frederic II. of Sicily, younger son of Peter III. of Arragon.
(3) I. e. the bawd.


Madam Beritola loses two sons, is found with two kids on an island, goes
thence to Lunigiana, where one of her sons takes service with her master,
and lies with his daughter, for which he is put in prison. Sicily rebels
against King Charles, the son is recognised by the mother, marries the
master's daughter, and, his brother being discovered, is reinstated in great

The ladies and the young men alike had many a hearty laugh over Fiammetta's
narrative of Andreuccio's adventures, which ended, Emilia, at the queen's
command, thus began:--

Grave and grievous are the vicissitudes with which Fortune makes us
acquainted, and as discourse of such matter serves to awaken our minds,
which are so readily lulled to sleep by her flatteries, I deem it worthy of
attentive hearing by all, whether they enjoy her favour or endure her frown,
in that it ministers counsel to the one sort and consolation to the other.
Wherefore, albeit great matters have preceded it, I mean to tell you a
story, not less true than touching, of adventures whereof the issue was
indeed felicitous, but the antecedent bitterness so long drawn out that
scarce can I believe that it was ever sweetened by ensuing happiness.

Dearest ladies, you must know that after the death of the Emperor Frederic
II. the crown of Sicily passed to Manfred; whose favour was enjoyed in the
highest degree by a gentleman of Naples, Arrighetto Capece by name, who had
to wife Madonna Beritola Caracciola, a fair and gracious lady, likewise a
Neapolitan. Now when Manfred was conquered and slain by King Charles I. at
Benevento, and the whole realm transferred its allegiance to the conqueror,
Arrighetto, who was then governor of Sicily, no sooner received the tidings
than he prepared for instant flight, knowing that little reliance was to be
placed on the fleeting faith of the Sicilians, and not being minded to
become a subject of his master's enemy. But the Sicilians having
intelligence of his plans, he and many other friends and servants of King
Manfred were surprised, taken prisoners and delivered over to King Charles,
to whom the whole island was soon afterwards surrendered. In this signal
reversal of the wonted course of things Madam Beritola, knowing not what was
become of Arrighetto, and from the past ever auguring future evil, lest she
should suffer foul dishonour, abandoned all that she possessed, and with a
son of, perhaps, eight years, Giusfredi by name, being also pregnant, fled
in a boat to Lipari, where she gave birth to another male child, whom she
named Outcast. Then with her sons and a hired nurse she took ship for
Naples, intending there to rejoin her family. Events, however, fell out
otherwise than she expected; for by stress of weather the ship was carried
out of her course to the desert island of Ponza, (1) where they put in to a
little bay until such time as they might safely continue their voyage. Madam
Beritola landed with the rest on the island, and, leaving them all, sought
out a lonely and secluded spot, and there abandoned herself to melancholy
brooding on the loss of her dear Arrighetto. While thus she spent her days
in solitary preoccupation with her grief it chanced that a galley of
corsairs swooped down upon the island, and, before either the mariners or
any other folk were aware of their peril, made an easy capture of them all
and sailed away; so that, when Madam Beritola, her wailing for that day
ended, returned, as was her wont, to the shore to solace herself with the
sight of her sons, she found none there. At first she was lost in wonder,
then with a sudden suspicion of the truth she bent her eyes seaward, and
there saw the galley still at no great distance, towing the ship in her
wake. Thus apprehending beyond all manner of doubt that she had lost her
sons as well as her husband, and that, alone, desolate and destitute, she
might not hope, that any of her lost ones would ever be restored to her, she
fell down on the shore in a swoon with the names of her husband and sons
upon her lips. None was there to administer cold water or aught else that
might recall her truant powers; her animal spirits might even wander
whithersoever they would at their sweet will: strength, however, did at last
return to her poor exhausted frame, and therewith tears and lamentations,
as, plaintively repeating her sons' names, she roamed in quest of them from
cavern to cavern. Long time she sought them thus; but when she saw that her
labour was in vain, and that night was closing in, hope, she knew not why,
began to return, and with it some degree of anxiety on her own account.
Wherefore she left the shore and returned to the cavern where she had been
wont to indulge her plaintive mood. She passed the night in no small fear
and indescribable anguish; the new day came, and, as she had not supped, she
was fain after tierce to appease her hunger, as best she could, by a
breakfast of herbs: this done, she wept and began to ruminate on her future
way of life. While thus engaged, she observed a she-goat come by and go into
an adjacent cavern, and after a while come forth again and go into the wood:
thus roused from her reverie she got up, went into the cavern from which the
she-goat had issued, and there saw two kids, which might have been born that
very day, and seemed to her the sweetest and the most delicious things in
the world: and, having, by reason of her recent delivery, milk still within
her, she took them up tenderly, and set them to her breast. They, nothing
loath, sucked at her teats as if she had been their own dam; and thenceforth
made no distinction between her and the dam. Which caused the lady to feel
that she had found company in the desert; and so, living on herbs and water,
weeping as often as she bethought her of her husband and sons and her past
life, she disposed herself to live and die there, and became no less
familiar with the she-goat than with her young.

The gentle lady thus leading the life of a wild creature, it chanced that
after some months stress of weather brought a Pisan ship to the very same
bay in which she had landed. The ship lay there for several days, having on
board a gentleman, Currado de' Malespini by name (of the same family as the
Marquis), who with his noble and most devout lady was returning home from a
pilgrimage, having visited all the holy places in the realm of Apulia. To
beguile the tedium of the sojourn Currado with his lady, some servants and
his dogs, set forth one day upon a tour through the island. As they neared
the place where Madam Beritola dwelt, Currado's dogs on view of the two
kids, which, now of a fair size, were grazing, gave chase. The kids, pursued
by the dogs, made straight for Madam Beritola's cavern. She, seeing what was
toward, started to her feet, caught up a stick, and drove the dogs back.
Currado and his lady coming up after the dogs, gazed on Madam Beritola, now
tanned and lean and hairy, with wonder, which she more than reciprocated. At
her request Currado called off the dogs; and then he and his lady besought
her again and again to say who she was and what she did there. So she told
them all about herself, her rank, her misfortunes, and the savage life which
she was minded to lead. Currado, who had known Arrighetto Capece very well,
was moved to tears by compassion, and exhausted all his eloquence to induce
her to change her mind, offering to escort her home, or to take her to live
with him in honourable estate as his sister until God should vouchsafe her
kindlier fortune. The lady, declining all his offers, Currado left her with
his wife, whom he bade see that food was brought thither, and let Madam
Beritola, who was all in rags, have one of her own dresses to wear, and do
all that she could to persuade her to go with them. So the gentle lady
stayed with Madam Beritola, and after condoling with her at large on her
misfortunes had food and clothing brought to her, and with the greatest
difficulty in the world prevailed upon her to eat and dress herself. At
last, after much beseeching, she induced her to depart from her oft-declared
intention never to go where she might meet any that knew her, and accompany
them to Lunigiana, taking with her the two kids and the dam, which latter
had in the meantime returned, and to the gentle lady's great surprise had
greeted Madam Beritola with the utmost affection. So with the return of fair
weather Madam Beritola, taking with her the dam and the two kids, embarked
with Currado and his lady on their ship, being called by them--for her true
name was not to be known of all--Cavriuola; (2) and the wind holding fair,
they speedily reached the mouth of the Magra, (3) and landing hied them to
Currado's castle where Madam Beritola abode with Currado's lady in the
quality of her maid, serving her well and faithfully, wearing widow's weeds,
and feeding and tending her kids with assiduous and loving care.

The corsairs, who, not espying Madam Beritola, had left her at Ponza when
they took the ship on which she had come thither, had made a course to
Genoa, taking with them all the other folk. On their arrival the owners of
the galley shared the booty, and so it happened that as part thereof Madam
Beritola's nurse and her two boys fell to the lot of one Messer Guasparrino
d'Oria, who sent all three to his house, being minded to keep them there as
domestic slaves. The nurse, beside herself with grief at the loss of her
mistress and the woful plight in which she found herself and her two
charges, shed many a bitter tear. But, seeing that they were unavailing, and
that she and the boys were slaves together, she, having, for all her low
estate, her share of wit and good sense, made it her first care to comfort
them; then, regardful of the condition to which they were reduced, she
bethought her, that, if the lads were recognised, 'twould very likely be
injurious to them. So, still hoping that some time or another Fortune would
change her mood, and they be able, if living, to regain their lost estate,
she resolved to let none know who they were, until she saw a fitting
occasion; and accordingly, whenever she was questioned thereof by any, she
gave them out as her own children. The name of the elder she changed from
Giusfredi to Giannotto di Procida; the name of the younger she did not think
it worth while to change. She spared no pains to make Giusfredi understand
the reason why she had changed his name, and, the risk which he might run if
he were recognised. This she impressed upon him not once only but many
times; and the boy, who was apt to learn, followed the instructions of the
wise nurse with perfect exactitude.

So the two boys, ill clad and worse shod, continued with the nurse in Messer
Guasparrino's house for two years, patiently performing all kinds of menial
offices. But Giannotto, being now sixteen years old, and of a spirit that
consorted ill with servitude, brooked not the baseness of his lot, and
dismissed himself from Messer Guasparrino's service by getting aboard a
galley bound for Alexandria, and travelled far and wide, and fared never the
better. In the course of his wanderings he learned that his father, whom he
had supposed to be dead, was still living, but kept in prison under watch
and ward by King Charles. He was grown a tall handsome young man, when,
perhaps three or four years after he had given Messer Guasparrino the slip,
weary of roaming and all but despairing of his fortune, he came to
Lunigiana, and by chance took service with Currado Malespini, who found him
handy, and was well-pleased with him. His mother, who was in attendance on
Currado's lady, he seldom saw, and never recognised her, nor she him; so
much had time changed both from their former aspect since they last met.
While Giannotto was thus in the service of Currado, it fell out by the death
of Niccolo da Grignano that his widow, Spina, Currado's daughter, returned
to her father's house. Very fair she was and loveable, her age not more than
sixteen years, and so it was that she saw Giannotto with favour, and he her,
and both fell ardently in love with one another. Their passion was early
gratified; but several months elapsed before any detected its existence.
Wherefore, growing overbold, they began to dispense with the precautions
which such an affair demanded. So one day, as they walked with others
through a wood, where the trees grew fair and close, the girl and Giannotto
left the rest of the company some distance behind, and, thinking that they
were well in advance, found a fair pleasaunce girt in with trees and
carpeted with abundance of grass and flowers, and fell to solacing
themselves after the manner of lovers. Long time they thus dallied, though
such was their delight that all too brief it seemed to them, and so it
befell that they were surprised first by the girl's mother and then by
Currado. Pained beyond measure by what he had seen, Currado, without
assigning any cause, had them both arrested by three of his servants and
taken in chains to one of his castles; where in a frenzy of passionate wrath
he left them, resolved to put them to an ignominious death. The girl's
mother was also very angry, and deemed her daughter's fall deserving of the
most rigorous chastisement, but, when by one of Currado's chance words she
divined the doom which he destined for the guilty pair, she could not
reconcile herself to it, and hasted to intercede with her angry husband,
beseeching him to refrain the impetuous wrath which would hurry him in his
old age to murder his daughter and imbrue his hands in the blood of his
servant, and vent it in some other way, as by close confinement and duress,
whereby the culprits should be brought to repent them of their fault in
tears. Thus, and with much more to the like effect, the devout lady urged
her suit, and at length prevailed upon her husband to abandon his murderous
design. Wherefore, he commanded that the pair should be confined in separate
prisons, and closely guarded, and kept short of food and in sore discomfort,
until further order; which was accordingly done; and the life which the
captives led, their endless tears, their fasts of inordinate duration, may
be readily imagined.

Giannotto and Spina had languished in this sorry plight for full a year,
entirely ignored by Currado, when in concert with Messer Gian di Procida,
King Peter of Arragon raised a rebellion (4) in the island of Sicily, and
wrested it from King Charles, whereat Currado, being a Ghibelline, was
overjoyed. Hearing the tidings from one of his warders, Giannotto heaved a
great sigh, and said:--"Alas, fourteen years have I been a wanderer upon the
face of the earth, looking for no other than this very event; and now, that
my hopes of happiness may be for ever frustrate, it has come to pass only to
find me in prison, whence I may never think to issue alive." "How?" said the
warder; "what signify to thee these doings of these mighty monarchs? What
part hadst thou in Sicily?" Giannotto answered:--"'Tis as if my heart were
breaking when I bethink me of my father and what part he had in Sicily. I
was but a little lad when I fled the island, but yet I remember him as its
governor in the time of King Manfred." "And who then was thy father?"
demanded the warder. "His name," rejoined Giannotto, "I need no longer
scruple to disclose, seeing that I find myself in the very strait which I
hoped to avoid by concealing it. He was and still is, if he live, Arrighetto
Capece; and my name is not Giannotto but Giusfredi; and I doubt not but,
were I once free, and back in Sicily, I might yet hold a very honourable
position in the island."

The worthy man asked no more questions, but, as soon as he found
opportunity, told what he had learned to Currado, who, albeit he made light
of it in the warder's presence, repaired to Madam Beritola, and asked her in
a pleasant manner, whether she had had by Arrighetto a son named Giusfredi.
The lady answered, in tears, that, if the elder of her two sons were living,
such would be his name, and his age twenty-two years. This inclined Currado
to think that Giannotto and Giusfredi were indeed one and the same; and it
occurred to him, that, if so it were, he might at once shew himself most
merciful and blot out his daughter's shame and his own by giving her to him
in marriage; wherefore he sent for Giannotto privily, and questioned him in
detail touching his past life. And finding by indubitable evidence that he
was indeed Giusfredi, son of Arrighetto Capece, he said to him:--"Giannotto,
thou knowest the wrong which thou hast done me in the person of my daughter,
what and how great it is, seeing that I used thee well and kindly, and thou
shouldst therefore, like a good servant, have shewn thyself jealous of my
honour, and zealous in my interest; and many there are who, hadst thou
treated them as thou hast treated me, would have caused thee to die an
ignominious death; which my clemency would not brook. But now, as it is even
so as thou sayst, and thou art of gentle blood by both thy parents, I am
minded to put an end to thy sufferings as soon as thou wilt, releasing thee
from the captivity in which thou languishest, and setting thee in a happy
place, and reinstating at once thy honour and my own. Thy intimacy with
Spina--albeit, shameful to both--was yet prompted by love. Spina, as thou
knowest, is a widow, and her dower is ample and secure. What her breeding
is, and her father's and her mother's, thou knowest: of thy present
condition I say nought. Wherefore, when thou wilt, I am consenting, that,
having been with dishonour thy friend, she become with honour thy wife, and
that, so long as it seem good to thee, thou tarry here with her and me as my

Captivity had wasted Giannotto's flesh, but had in no degree impaired the
generosity of spirit which he derived from his ancestry, or the
whole-hearted love which he bore his lady. So, albeit he ardently desired
that which Currado offered, and knew that he was in Currado's power, yet,
even as his magnanimity prompted, so, unswervingly, he made answer:--
"Currado, neither ambition nor cupidity nor aught else did ever beguile me
to any treacherous machination against either thy person or thy property.
Thy daughter I loved, and love and shall ever love, because I deem her
worthy of my love, and, if I dealt with her after a fashion which to the
mechanic mind seems hardly honourable, I did but commit that fault which is
ever congenial to youth, which can never be eradicated so long as youth
continues, and which, if the aged would but remember that they were once
young and would measure the delinquencies of others by their own and their
own by those of others, would not be deemed so grave as thou and many others
depict it; and what I did, I did as a friend, not as an enemy. That which
thou offerest I have ever desired and should long ago have sought, had I
supposed that thou wouldst grant it, and 'twill be the more grateful to me
in proportion to the depth of my despair. But if thy intent be not such, as
thy words import, feed me not with vain hopes, but send me back to prison
there to suffer whatever thou mayst be pleased to inflict; nor doubt that
even as I love Spina, so for love of her shall I ever love thee, though thou
do thy worst, and still hold thee in reverent regard.

Currado marvelled to hear him thus speak, and being assured of his
magnanimity and the fervour of his love, held him the more dear; wherefore
he rose, embraced and kissed him, and without further delay bade privily
bring thither Spina, who left her prison wasted and wan and weak, and so
changed that she seemed almost another woman than of yore, even as Giannotto
was scarce his former self. Then and there in Currado's presence they
plighted their troth according to our custom of espousals; and some days
afterwards Currado, having in the meantime provided all things meet for
their convenience and solace, yet so as that none should surmise what had
happened, deemed it now time to gladden their mothers with the news. So he
sent for his lady and Cavriuola, and thus, addressing Cavriuola, he
spoke:--"What would you say, madam, were I to restore you your elder son as
the husband of one of my daughters?" Cavriuola answered:--"I should say,
that, were it possible for you to strengthen the bond which attaches me to
you, then assuredly you had so done, in that you restored to me that which I
cherish more tenderly than myself, and in such a guise as in some measure to
renew within me the hope which I had lost: more I could not say." And so,
weeping, she was silent. Then, turning to his lady, Currado said:--"And
thou, madam, what wouldst thou think if I were to present thee with such a
son-in-law?" "A son-in-law," she answered, "that was not of gentle blood,
but a mere churl, so he pleased you, would well content me." "So!" returned
Currado; "I hope within a few days to gladden the hearts of both of you."

He waited only until the two young folk had recovered their wonted mien, and
were clad in a manner befitting their rank. Then, addressing Giusfredi, he
said:--"Would it not add to thy joy to see thy mother here?" "I dare not
hope," returned Giusfredi," that she has survived calamities and sufferings
such as hers; but were it so, great indeed would be my joy, and none the
less that by her counsel I might be aided to the recovery (in great measure)
of my lost heritage in Sicily." Whereupon Currado caused both the ladies to
come thither, and presented to them the bride. The gladness with which they
both greeted her was a wonder to behold, and no less great was their wonder
at the benign inspiration that had prompted Currado to unite her in wedlock
with Giannotto, whom Currado's words caused Madam Beritola to survey with
some attention. A hidden spring of memory was thus touched; she recognised
in the man the lineaments of her boy, and awaiting no further evidence she
ran with open arms and threw herself upon his neck. No word did she utter,
for very excess of maternal tenderness and joy; but, every avenue of sense
closed, she fell as if bereft of life within her son's embrace. Giannotto,
who had often seen her in the castle and never recognised her, marvelled not
a little, but nevertheless it at once flashed upon him that 'twas his
mother, and blaming himself for his past inadvertence he took her in his
arms and wept and tenderly kissed her. With gentle solicitude Currado's lady
and Spina came to her aid, and restored her suspended animation with cold
water and other remedies. She then with many tender and endearing words
kissed him a thousand times or more, which tokens of her love he received
with a look of reverential acknowledgment. Thrice, nay a fourth time were
these glad and gracious greetings exchanged, and joyful indeed were they
that witnessed them, and hearkened while mother and son compared their past
adventures. Then Currado, who had already announced his new alliance to his
friends, and received their felicitations proceeded to give order for the
celebration of the event with all becoming gaiety and splendour. As he did
so, Giusfredi said to him:--"Currado, you have long given my mother
honourable entertainment, and on me you have conferred many boons;
wherefore, that you may fill up the measure of your kindness, 'tis now my
prayer that you be pleased to gladden my mother and my marriage feast and me
with the presence of my brother, now in servitude in the house of Messer
Guasparrino d'Oria, who, as I have already told you, made prize of both him
and me; and that then you send some one to Sicily, who shall make himself
thoroughly acquainted with the circumstances and condition of the country,
and find out how it has fared with my father Arrighetto, whether he be alive
or dead, and if alive, in what circumstances, and being thus fully informed,
return to us with the tidings." Currado assented, and forthwith sent most
trusty agents both to Genoa and to Sicily. So in due time an envoy arrived
at Genoa, and made instant suit to Guasparrino on Currado's part for the
surrender of Outcast and the nurse, setting forth in detail all that had
passed between Currado and Giusfredi and his mother. Whereat Messer
Guasparrino was mightily astonished, and said:--"Of a surety there is nought
that, being able, I would not do to pleasure Currado; and, true it is that I
have had in my house for these fourteen years the boy whom thou dost now
demand of me, and his mother, and gladly will I surrender them; but tell
Currado from me to beware of excessive credulity, and to put no faith in the
idle tales of Giannotto, or Giusfredi, as thou sayst he calls himself, who
is by no means so guileless as he supposes."

Then, having provided for the honourable entertainment of the worthy envoy,
he sent privily for the nurse, and cautiously sounded her as to the affair.
The nurse had heard of the revolt of Sicily, and had learned that Arrighetto
was still alive. She therefore banished fear, and told Messer Guasparrino
the whole story, and explained to him the reasons why she had acted as she
had done. Finding that what she said accorded very well with what he had
learned from Currado's envoy, he inclined to credit the story, and most
astutely probing the matter in divers ways, and always finding fresh grounds
for confidence, he reproached himself for the sorry manner in which he had
treated the boy, and by way of amends gave him one of his own daughters, a
beautiful girl of eleven years, to wife with a dowry suited to Arrighetto's
rank, and celebrated their nuptials with great festivity, He then brought
the boy and girl, Currado's envoy, and the nurse in a well-armed galliot to
Lerici, being there met by Currado, who had a castle not far off, where
great preparations had been made for their entertainment: and thither
accordingly he went with his whole company. What cheer the mother had of her
son, the brothers of one another, and all the three of the faithful nurse;
what cheer Messer Guasparrino and his daughter had of all, and all of them,
and what cheer all had of Currado and his lady and their sons and their
friends, words may not describe; wherefore, my ladies, I leave it to your
imagination. And that their joy might be full, God, who, when He gives,
gives most abundantly, added the glad tidings that Arrighetto Capece was
alive and prosperous. For, when in the best of spirits the ladies and
gentlemen had sat them down to feast, and they were yet at the first course,
the envoy from Sicily arrived, and among other matters reported, that, no
sooner had the insurrection broken out in the island than the people hied
them in hot haste to the prison where Arrighetto was kept in confinement by
King Charles, and despatching the guards, brought him forth, and knowing him
to be a capital enemy to King Charles made him their captain, and under his
command fell upon and massacred the French. Whereby he had won the highest
place in the favour of King Peter, who had granted him restitution of all
his estates and honours, so that he was now both prosperous and mighty. The
envoy added that Arrighetto had received him with every token of honour, had
manifested the utmost delight on hearing of his lady and son, of whom no
tidings had reached him since his arrest, and had sent, to bring them home,
a brigantine with some gentlemen aboard, whose arrival might hourly be

The envoy, and the good news which he brought, were heartily welcome; and
presently Currado, with some of his friends, encountered the gentlemen who
came for Madam Beritola and Giusfredi, and saluting them cordially invited
them to his feast, which was not yet half done. Joy unheard of was depicted
on the faces of the lady, of Giusfredi, and of all the rest as they greeted
them; nor did they on their part take their places at the table before, as
best they might, they had conveyed to Currado and his lady Arrighetto's
greetings and grateful acknowledgments of the honour which they had
conferred upon his lady and his son, and had placed Arrighetto, to the
uttermost of his power, entirely at their service. Then, turning to Messer
Guasparrino, of whose kindness Arrighetto surmised nothing, they said that
they were very sure that, when he learned the boon which Outcast had
received at his hands, he would pay him the like and an even greater tribute
of gratitude. This speech ended, they feasted most joyously with the brides
and bridegrooms. So passed the day, the first of many which Currado devoted
to honouring his son-in-law and his other intimates, both kinsfolk and
friends. The time of festivity ended, Madam Beritola and Giusfredi and the
rest felt that they must leave: so, taking Spina with them, they parted, not
without many tears, from Currado and his lady and Guasparrino, and went
aboard the brigantine, which, wafted by a prosperous wind, soon brought them
to Sicily. At Palermo they were met by Arrighetto, who received them all,
ladies and sons alike, with such cheer as it were vain to attempt to
describe. There it is believed that they all lived long and happily and in
amity with God, being not unmindful of the blessings which He had conferred
upon them.

(1) The largest, now inhabited, of a group of islets in the Gulf of Gaeta.
(2) I.e. she-goat.
(3) Between Liguria and Tuscany.
(4) The Sicilian Vespers, Easter, 1282.


The Soldan of Babylon sends one of his daughters overseas, designing to
marry her to the King of Algarve. By divers adventures she comes in the
space of four years into the hands of nine men in divers places. At last she
is restored to her father, whom she quits again in the guise of a virgin,
and, as was at first intended, is married to the King of Algarve.

Had Emilia's story but lasted a little longer, the young ladies would
perhaps have been moved to tears, so great was the sympathy which they felt
for Madam Beritola in her various fortunes. But now that it was ended, the
Queen bade Pamfilo follow suit; and he, than whom none was more obedient,
thus began:--

Hardly, gracious ladies, is it given to us to know that which makes for our
good; insomuch that, as has been observable in a multitude of instances,
many, deeming that the acquisition of great riches would ensure them an easy
and tranquil existence, have not only besought them of God in prayer, but
have sought them with such ardour that they have spared no pains and shrunk
from no danger in the quest, and have attained their end only to lose, at
the hands of some one covetous of their vast inheritance, a life with which
before the days of their prosperity they were well content. Others, whose
course, perilous with a thousand battles, stained with the blood of their
brothers and their friends, has raised them from base to regal estate, have
found in place of the felicity they expected an infinity of cares and fears,
and have proved by experience that a chalice may be poisoned, though it be
of gold, and set on the table of a king. Many have most ardently desired
beauty and strength and other advantages of person, and have only been
taught their error by the death or dolorous life which these very advantages
entailed upon them. And so, not to instance each particular human desire, I
say, in sum, that there is none of, them that men may indulge in full
confidence as exempt from the chances and changes of fortune; wherefore, if
we would act rightly, we ought to school ourselves to take and be content
with that which He gives us, who alone knows and can afford us that of which
we have need. But, divers as are the aberrations of desire to which men are
prone, so, gracious ladies, there is one to which you are especially liable,
in that you are unduly solicitous of beauty, insomuch, that, not content
with the charms which nature has allotted you, you endeavour to enhance them
with wondrous ingenuity of art; wherefore I am minded to make you acquainted
with the coil of misadventures in which her beauty involved a fair Saracen,
who in the course of, perhaps, four years was wedded nine several times.

There was of yore a Soldan of Babylon (1), by name of Beminedab, who in his
day had cause enough to be well content with his luck. Many children male
and female had he, and among them a daughter, Alatiel by name, who by common
consent of all that saw her was the most beautiful woman then to be found in
the world. Now the Soldan, having been signally aided by the King of Algarve
(2) in inflicting a great defeat upon a host of Arabs that had attacked him,
had at his instance and by way of special favour given Alatiel to the King
to wife; wherefore, with an honourable escort of gentlemen and ladies most
nobly and richly equipped, he placed her aboard a well-armed, well-furnished
ship, and, commending her to God, sped her on her journey. The mariners, as
soon as the weather was favourable, hoisted sail, and for some days after
their departure from Alexandria had a prosperous voyage; but when they had
passed Sardinia, and were beginning to think that they were nearing their
journey's end, they were caught one day between divers cross winds, each
blowing with extreme fury, whereby the ship laboured so sorely that not only
the lady but the seamen from time to time gave themselves up for lost. But
still, most manfully and skilfully they struggled might and main with the
tempest, which, ever waxing rather than waning, buffeted them for two days
with immense unintermittent surges; and being not far from the island of
Majorca, as the third night began to close in, wrapt in clouds and mist and
thick darkness, so that they saw neither the sky nor aught else, nor by any
nautical skill might conjecture where they were, they felt the ship's
timbers part. Wherefore, seeing no way to save the ship, each thought only
how best to save himself, and, a boat being thrown out, the masters first,
and then the men, one by one, though the first-comers sought with knives in
their hands to bar the passage of the rest, all, rather than remain in the
leaky ship, crowded into it, and there found the death which they hoped to
escape. For the boat, being in such stress of weather, and with such a
burden quite unmanageable, went under, and all aboard her perished; whereas
the ship, leaky though she was, and all but full of water, yet, driven by
the fury of the tempest, was hurled with prodigious velocity upon the shore
of the island of Majorca, and struck it with such force as to embed herself
in the sand, perhaps a stone's throw from terra firma, where she remained
all night beaten and washed by the sea, but no more to be moved by the
utmost violence of the gale. None had remained aboard her but the lady and
her women, whom the malice of the elements and their fears had brought to
the verge of death. When it was broad day and the storm was somewhat abated,
the lady, half dead, raised her head, and in faltering accents began to call
first one and then another of her servants. She called in vain, however; for
those whom she called were too far off to hear. Great indeed was her wonder
and fear to find herself thus without sight of human face or sound of other
voice than her own; but, struggling to her feet as best she might, she
looked about her, and saw the ladies that were of her escort, and the other
women, all prostrate on the deck; so, after calling them one by one, she
began at length to touch them, and finding few that shewed sign of life, for
indeed, between grievous sea-sickness and fear, they had little life left,
she grew more terrified than before. However, being in sore need of counsel,
all alone as she was, and without knowledge or means of learning where she
was, she at last induced such as had life in them to get upon their feet,
with whom, as none knew where the men were gone, and the ship was now full
of water and visibly breaking up, she abandoned herself to piteous

It was already none before they descried any one on the shore or elsewhere
to whom they could make appeal for help; but shortly after none it so
chanced that a gentleman, Pericone da Visalgo by name, being on his return
from one of his estates, passed that way with some mounted servants.
Catching sight of the ship, he apprehended the circumstances at a glance,
and bade one of his servants try to get aboard her, and let him know the
result. The servant with some difficulty succeeded in boarding the vessel,
and found the gentle lady with her few companions ensconced under shelter of
the prow, and shrinking timidly from observation. At the first sight of him
they wept, and again and again implored him to have pity on them; but
finding that he did not understand them, nor they him, they sought by
gestures to make him apprehend their forlorn condition.

With these tidings the servant, after making such survey of the ship as he
could, returned to Pericone, who forthwith caused the ladies, and all
articles of value which were in the ship and could be removed, to be brought
off her, and took them with him to one of his castles. The ladies' powers
were soon in a measure restored by food and rest, and by the honour which
was paid to Alatiel, and Alatiel alone by all the rest, as well as by the
richness of her dress, Pericone perceived that she must be some great lady.
Nor, though she was still pale, and her person bore evident marks of the
sea's rough usage, did he fail to note that it was cast in a mould of
extraordinary beauty. Wherefore his mind was soon made up that, if she
lacked a husband, he would take her to wife and that, if he could not have
her to wife, then he would make her his mistress. So this ardent lover, who
was a man of powerful frame and haughty mien, devoted himself for several
days to the service of the lady with excellent effect, for the lady
completely recovered her strength and spirits, so that her beauty far
exceeded Pericone's most sanguine conjectures. Great therefore beyond
measure was his sorrow that he understood not her speech, nor she his, so
that neither could know who the other was; but being inordinately enamoured
of her beauty, he sought by such mute blandishments as he could devise to
declare his love, and bring her of her own accord to gratify his desire. All
in vain, however; she repulsed his advances point blank; whereby his passion
only grew the stronger. So some days passed; and the lady perceiving
Pericone's constancy, and bethinking her that sooner or later she must yield
either to force or to love, and gratify his passion, and judging by what she
observed of the customs of the people that she was amongst Christians, and
in a part where, were she able to speak their language, she would gain
little by making herself known, determined with a lofty courage to stand
firm and immovable in this extremity of her misfortunes. Wherefore she bade
the three women, who were all that were left to her, on no account to let
any know who they were, unless they were so circumstanced that they might
safely count on assistance in effecting their escape: she also exhorted them
most earnestly to preserve their chastity, averring that she was firmly
resolved that none but her husband should enjoy her. The women heartily
assented, and promised that her injunctions should be obeyed to the utmost
of their power.

Day by day Pericone's passion waxed more ardent, being fomented by the
proximity and contrariety of its object. Wherefore seeing that blandishment
availed nothing, he was minded to have recourse to wiles and stratagems, and
in the last resort to force. The lady, debarred by her law from the use of
wine, found it, perhaps, on that account all the more palatable, which
Pericone observing determined to enlist Bacchus in the service of Venus. So,
ignoring her coyness, he provided one evening a supper, which was ordered
with all possible pomp and beauty, and graced by the presence of the lady.
No lack was there of incentives to hilarity; and Pericone directed the
servant who waited on Alatiel to ply her with divers sorts of blended wines;
which command the man faithfully executed. She, suspecting nothing, and
seduced by the delicious flavour of the liquor, drank somewhat more freely
than was seemly, and forgetting her past woes, became frolicsome, and
incited by some women who trod some measures in the Majorcan style, she
shewed the company how they footed it in Alexandria. This novel demeanour
was by no means lost on Pericone, who saw in it a good omen of his speedy
success; so, with profuse relays of food and wine he prolonged the supper
far into the night.

When the guests were at length gone, he attended the lady alone to her
chamber, where, the heat of the wine overpowering the cold counsels of
modesty, she made no more account of Pericone's presence than if he had been
one of her women, and forthwith undressed and went to bed. Pericone was not
slow to follow her, and as soon as the light was out lay down by her side,
and taking her in his arms, without the least demur on her part, began, to
solace himself with her after the manner of lovers; which experience--she
knew not till then with what horn men butt--caused her to repent that she
had not yielded to his blandishments; nor did she thereafter wait to be
invited to such nights of delight, but many a time declared her readiness,
not by words, for she had none to convey her meaning, but by gestures.

But this great felicity which she now shared with Pericone was not to last:
for not content with making her, instead of the consort of a king, the
mistress of a castellan, Fortune had now in store for her a harsher
experience, though of an amorous character. Pericone had a brother,
twenty-five years of age, fair and fresh as a rose, his name Marato. On
sight of Alatiel Marato had been mightily taken with her; he inferred from
her bearing that he stood high in her good graces; he believed that nothing
stood between him and the gratification of his passion but the jealous
vigilance with which Pericone guarded her. So musing, he hit upon a ruthless
expedient, which had effect in action as hasty as heinous.

It so chanced that there then lay in the port of the city a ship, commanded
by two Genoese, bound with a cargo of merchandise for Klarenza in the Morea:
her sails were already hoist; and she tarried only for a favourable breeze.
Marato approached the masters and arranged with them to take himself and the
lady aboard on the following night. This done he concerted further action
with some of his most trusty friends, who readily lent him their aid to
carry his design into execution. So on the following evening towards
nightfall, the conspirators stole unobserved into Pericone's house, which
was entirely unguarded, and there hid themselves, as pre-arranged. Then, as
the night wore on, Marato shewed them where Pericone and the lady slept, and
they entered the room, and slew Pericone. The lady thus rudely roused wept;
but silencing her by menaces of death they carried her off with the best
part of Pericone's treasure, and hied them unobserved to the coast, where
Marato parted from his companions, and forthwith took the lady aboard the
ship. The wind was now fair and fresh, the mariners spread the canvas, and
the vessel sped on her course.

This new misadventure, following so hard upon the former, caused the lady no
small chagrin; but Marato, with the aid, of the good St. Crescent-in-hand
that God has given us, found means to afford her such consolation that she
was already grown so familiar with him as entirely to forget Pericone, when
Fortune, not content with her former caprices, added a new dispensation of
woe; for what with. the beauty of her person, which, as we have often said,
was extra ordinary, and the exquisite charm of her manners the two young
men, who commanded the ship, fell so desperately in love with her that they
thought of nothing but how they might best serve and please her, so only
that Marato should not discover the reason of their assiduous attentions.
And neither being ignorant of the other's love, they held secret counsel
together, and resolved to make conquest of the lady on joint account: as if
love admitted of being held in partnership like merchandise or money. Which
design being thwarted by the jealousy with which Alatiel was guarded by
Marato, they chose a day and hour, when the ship was speeding amain under
canvas, and Marato was on the poop looking out over the sea and quite off
his guard; and going stealthily up behind him, they suddenly laid hands on
him, and threw him into the sea, and were already more than a mile on their
course before any perceived that Marato was overboard. Which when the lady
learned, and knew that he was irretrievably lost, she relapsed into her
former plaintive mood. But the twain were forthwith by her side with soft
speeches and profuse promises, which, however ill she understood them, were
not altogether inapt to allay a grief which had in it more of concern for
her own hapless self than of sorrow for her lost lover. So, in course of
time, the lady beginning visibly to recover heart, they began privily to
debate which of them should first take her to bed with him; and neither
being willing to give way to the other, and no compromise being
discoverable, high words passed between them, and the dispute grew so hot,
that they both waxed very wroth, drew their knives, and rushed madly at one
another, and before they could be parted by their men, several stabs had
been given and received on either side, whereby the one fell dead on the
spot, and the other was severely wounded in divers parts of the body. The
lady was much disconcerted to find herself thus alone with none to afford
her either succour or counsel, and was mightily afraid lest the wrath of the
kinsfolk and friends of the twain should vent itself upon her. From this
mortal peril she was, however, delivered by the intercessions of the wounded
man and their speedy arrival at Klarenza.

As there she tarried at the same inn with her wounded lover, the fame of her
great beauty was speedily bruited abroad, and reached the ears of the Prince
of the Morea, who was then staying there. The Prince was curious to see her,
and having so done, pronounced her even more beautiful than rumour had
reported her; nay, he fell in love with her in such a degree that he could
think of nought else; and having heard in what guise she had come thither,
he deemed that he might have her. While he was casting about how to compass
his end, the kinsfolk of the wounded man, being apprised of the fact,
forthwith sent her to him to the boundless delight, as well of the lady, who
saw therein her deliverance from a great peril, as of the Prince. The royal
bearing, which enhanced the lady's charms, did not escape the Prince, who,
being unable to discover her true rank, set her down as at any rate of noble
lineage; wherefore he loved her as much again as before, and shewed her no
small honour, treating her not as his mistress but as his wife. So the lady,
contrasting her present happy estate with her past woes, was comforted; and,
as her gaiety revived, her beauty waxed in such a degree that all the Morea
talked of it and of little else: insomuch that the Prince's friend and
kinsman, the young, handsome and gallant Duke of Athens, was smitten with a
desire to see her, and taking occasion to pay the Prince a visit, as he was
now and again wont to do, came to Klarenza with a goodly company of
honourable gentlemen. The Prince received him with all distinction and made
him heartily welcome, but did not at first shew him the lady. By and by,
however, their conversation began to turn upon her and her charms, and the
Duke asked if she were really so marvellous a creature as folk said. The
Prince replied:--"Nay, but even more so; and thereof thou shalt have better
assurance than my words, to wit, the witness of thine own eyes." So, without
delay, for the Duke was now all impatience, they waited on the lady, who was
prepared for their visit, and received them very courteously and graciously.
They seated her between them, and being debarred from the pleasure of
conversing with her, for of their speech she understood little or nothing,
they both, and especially the Duke, who was scarce able to believe that she
was of mortal mould, gazed upon her in mute admiration; whereby the Duke,
cheating himself with the idea that he was but gratifying his curiosity,
drank with his eyes, unawares, deep draughts of the poisoned chalice of
love, and, to his own lamentable hurt, fell a prey to a most ardent passion.
His first thought, when they had left her, and he had time for reflection,
was that the Prince was the luckiest man in the world to have a creature so
fair to solace him; and swayed by his passion, his mind soon inclined to
divers other and less honourable meditations, whereof the issue was that,
come what might, he would despoil the Prince of his felicity, and, if
possible, make it his own. This resolution was no sooner taken than, being
of a hasty temperament, he cast to the winds all considerations of honour
and justice, and studied only how to compass his end by craft. So, one day,
as the first step towards the accomplishment of his evil purpose, he
arranged with the Prince's most trusted chamberlain, one Ciuriaci, that his
horses and all other his personal effects should, with the utmost secrecy,
be got ready against a possible sudden departure: and then at nightfall,
attended by a single comrade (both carrying arms), he was privily admitted
by Ciuriaci into the Prince's chamber. It was a hot night, and the Prince
had risen without disturbing the lady, and was standing bare to the skin at
an open window fronting the sea, to enjoy a light breeze that blew thence.
So, by preconcert with his comrade, the Duke stole up to the window, and in
a trice ran the Prince through the body, and caught him up, and threw him
out of the window. The palace was close by the sea, but at a considerable
altitude above it, and the window, through which the Prince's body was
thrown, looked over some houses, which, being sapped by the sea, had become
ruinous, and were rarely or never visited by a soul; whereby, as the Duke
had foreseen, the fall of the Prince's body passed, as indeed it could not
but pass, unobserved. Thereupon the Duke's accomplice whipped out a halter,
which he had brought with him for the purpose, and, making as if he were but
in play, threw it round Ciuriaci's neck, drew it so tight that he could not
utter a sound, and then, with the Duke's aid, strangled him, and sent him
after his master. All this was accomplished, as the Duke knew full well,
without awakening any in the palace, not even the lady, whom he now
approached with a light, and holding it over the bed gently uncovered her
person, as she lay fast asleep, and surveyed her from head to foot to his no
small satisfaction; for fair as she had seemed to him dressed, he found her
unadorned charms incomparably greater. As he gazed, his passion waxed beyond
measure, and, reckless of his recent crime, and of the blood which still
stained his hands, he got forthwith into the bed; and she, being too sound
asleep to distinguish between him and the Prince, suffered him to lie with

But, boundless as was his delight, it brooked no long continuance, so,
rising, he called to him some of his comrades, by whom he had the lady
secured in such manner that she could utter no sound, and borne out of the
palace by the same secret door by which he had gained entrance; he then set
her on horseback and in dead silence put his troop in motion, taking the
road to Athens. He did not, however, venture to take the lady to Athens,
where she would have encountered his Duchess--for he was married--but lodged
her in a very beautiful villa which he had hard by the city overlooking the
sea, where, most forlorn of ladies, she lived secluded, but with no lack of
meet and respectful service.

On the following morning the Prince's courtiers awaited his rising until
none, but perceiving no sign of it, opened the doors, which had not been
secured, and entered his bedroom. Finding it vacant, they supposed that the
Prince was gone off privily somewhere to have a few days of unbroken delight
with his fair lady; and so they gave themselves no further trouble. But the
next day it so chanced that an idiot, roaming about the ruins where lay the
corpses of the Prince and Ciuriaci, drew the latter out by the halter and
went off dragging it after him. The corpse was soon recognised by not a few,
who, at first struck dumb with amazement, soon recovered sense enough to
cajole the idiot into retracing his steps and shewing them the spot where he
had found it; and having thus, to the immeasurable grief of all the
citizens, discovered the Prince's body, they buried it with all honour.
Needless to say that no pains were spared to trace the perpetrators of so
heinous a crime, and that the absence and evidently furtive departure of the
Duke of Athens caused him to be suspected both of the murder and of the
abduction of the lady. So the citizens were instant with one accord that the
Prince's brother, whom they chose as his successor, should exact the debt of
vengeance; and he, having satisfied himself by further investigation that
their suspicion was well founded, summoned to his aid his kinsfolk, friends
and divers vassals, and speedily gathered a large, powerful and
well-equipped army, with intent to make war upon the Duke of Athens. The
Duke, being informed of his movements, made ready likewise to defend himself
with all his power; nor had he any lack of allies, among whom the Emperor of
Constantinople sent his son, Constantine, and his nephew, Manuel, with a
great and goodly force. The two young men were honourably received by the
Duke, and still more so by the Duchess, who was Constantine's sister.

Day by day war grew more imminent, and at last the Duchess took occasion to
call Constantine and Manuel into her private chamber, and with many tears
told them the whole story at large, explaining the casus belli, dilating on
the indignity which she suffered at the hands of the Duke if as was
believed, he really kept a mistress in secret, and beseeching them in most
piteous accents to do the best they could to devise some expedient whereby
the Duke's honour might be cleared, and her own peace of mind assured. The
young men knew exactly how matters stood; and so, without wearying the
Duchess with many questions, they did their best to console her, and
succeeded in raising her hopes. Before taking their leave they learned from
her where the lady was, whose marvellous beauty they had heard lauded so
often; and being eager to see her, they besought the Duke to afford them an
opportunity. Forgetful of what a like complaisance had cost the Prince, he
consented, and next morning brought them to the villa where the lady lived,
and with her and a few of his boon companions regaled them with a lordly
breakfast, which was served in a most lovely garden. Constantine had no
sooner seated himself and surveyed the lady, than he was lost in admiration,
inly affirming that he had never seen so beautiful a creature, and that for
such a prize the Duke, or any other man, might well be pardoned treachery or
any other crime: he scanned her again and again, and ever with more and more
admiration; where-by it fared with him even as it had fared with the Duke.
He went away hotly in love with her, and dismissing all thought of the war,
cast about for some method by which, without betraying his passion to any,
he might devise some means of wresting the lady from the Duke.

As he thus burned and brooded, the Prince drew dangerously near the Duke's
dominions; wherefore order was given for an advance, and the Duke, with
Constantine and the rest, marshalled his forces and led them forth from
Athens to bar the Prince's passage of the frontier at certain points. Some
days thus passed, during which Constantine, whose mind and soul were
entirely absorbed by his passion for the lady, bethought him, that, as the
Duke was no longer in her neighbourhood, he might readily compass his end.
He therefore feigned to be seriously unwell, and, having by this pretext
obtained the Duke's leave, he ceded his command to Manuel, and returned to
his sister at Athens. He had not been there many days before the Duchess
recurred to the dishonour which the Duke did her by keeping the lady;
whereupon he said that of that, if she approved, he would certainly relieve
her by seeing that the lady was removed from the villa to some distant
place. The Duchess, supposing that Constantine was prompted not by jealousy
of the Duke but by jealousy for her honour, gave her hearty consent to his
plan, provided he so contrived that the Duke should never know that she had
been privy to it; on which point Constantine gave her ample assurance. So,
being authorised by the Duchess to act as he might deem best, he secretly
equipped a light bark and manned her with some of his men, to whom he
confided his plan, bidding them lie to off the garden of the lady's villa;
and so, having sent the bark forward, he hied him with other of his men to
the villa. He gained ready admission of the servants, and was made heartily
welcome by the lady, who, at his desire, attended by some of her servants,
walked with him and some of his comrades in the garden. By and by, feigning
that he had a message for her from the Duke, he drew her aside towards a
gate that led down to the sea, and which one of his confederates had already
opened. A concerted signal brought the bark alongside, and to seize the lady
and set her aboard the bark was but the work of an instant. Her retinue hung
back as they heard Constantine menace with death whoso but stirred or spoke,
and suffered him, protesting that what he did was done not to wrong the
Duke, but solely to vindicate his sister's honour, to embark with his men.
The lady wept, of course, but Constantine was at her side, the rowers gave
way, and the bark, speeding like a thing of life over the waves, made Egina
shortly after dawn. There Constantine and the lady landed, she still
lamenting her fatal beauty, and took a little rest and pleasure. Then,
re-embarking, they continued their voyage, and in the course of a few days
reached Chios, which Constantine, fearing paternal censure, and that he
might be deprived of his fair booty, deemed a safe place of sojourn. So,
after some days of repose the lady ceased to bewail her harsh destiny, and
suffering Constantine to console her as his predecessors had done, began
once more to enjoy the good gifts which Fortune sent her.

Now while they thus dallied, Osbech, King of the Turks, who was perennially
at war with the Emperor, came by chance to Smyrna; and there learning, that
Constantine was wantoning in careless ease at Chios with a lady of whom he
had made prize, he made a descent by night upon the island with an armed
flotilla. Landing his men in dead silence, he made captives of not a few of
the Chians whom he surprised in their beds; others, who took the alarm and
rushed to arms, he slew; and having wasted the whole island with fire, he
shipped the booty and the prisoners, and sailed back to Smyrna. As there he
overhauled the booty, he lit upon the fair lady, and knew her for the same
that had been taken in bed and fast asleep with Constantine: whereat, being
a young man, he was delighted beyond measure, and made her his wife out of
hand with all due form and ceremony. And so for several months he enjoyed

Now there had been for some time and still was a treaty pending between the
Emperor and Basano, King of Cappadocia, whereby Basano with his forces was
to fall on Osbech on one side while the Emperor attacked him on the other.
Some demands made by Basano, which the Emperor deemed unreasonable, had so
far retarded the conclusion of the treaty; but no sooner had the Emperor
learned the fate of his son than, distraught with grief, he forthwith
conceded the King of Cappadocia's demands, and was instant with him to fall
at once upon Osbech while he made ready to attack him on the other side.
Getting wind of the Emperor's design, Osbech collected his forces, and, lest
he should be caught and crushed between the convergent armies of two most
mighty potentates, advanced against the King of Cappadocia. The fair lady he
left at Smyrna in the care of a faithful dependant and friend, and after a
while joined battle with the King of Cappadocia, in which battle he was
slain, and his army defeated and dispersed. Wherefore Basano with his
victorious host advanced, carrying everything before him, upon Smyrna, and
receiving everywhere the submission due to a conqueror.

Meanwhile Osbech's dependant, by name Antioco, who had charge of the fair
lady, was so smitten with her charms that, albeit he was somewhat advanced
in years, he broke faith with his friend and lord, and allowed himself to
become enamoured of her. He had the advantage of knowing her language, which
counted for much with one who for some years had been, as it were, compelled
to live the life of a deaf mute, finding none whom she could understand or
by whom she might be understood; and goaded by passion, he in the course of
a few days established such a degree of intimacy with her that in no long
time it passed from friendship into love, so that their lord, far away amid
the clash of arms and the tumult of the battle, was forgotten, and
marvellous pleasure had they of one another between the sheets.

However, news came at last of Osbech's defeat and death, and the victorious
and unchecked advance of Basano, whose advent they were by no means minded
to await. Wherefore, taking with them the best part of the treasure that
Osbech had left there, they hied them with all possible secrecy to Rhodes.
There they had not along abode before Antioco fell ill of a mortal disease.
He had then with him a Cypriote merchant, an intimate and very dear friend,
to whom, as he felt his end approach, he resolved to leave all that he
possessed, including his dear lady. So, when he felt death imminent, he
called them to him and said:--"'Tis now quite evident to me that my life is
fast ebbing away; and sorely do I regret it, for never had I so much
pleasure of life as now. Well content indeed I am in one respect, in that,
as die I must, I at least die in the arms of the two persons whom I love
more than any other in the world, to wit, in thine arms, dearest friend, and
those of this lady, whom, since I have known her, I have loved more than
myself. But yet 'tis grievous to me to know that I must leave her here in a
strange land with none to afford her either protection or counsel; and but
that I leave her with thee, who, I doubt not, wilt have for my sake no less
care of her than thou wouldst have had of me, 'twould grieve me still more;
wherefore with all my heart and soul I pray thee, that, if I die, thou take
her with all else that belongs to me into thy charge, and so acquit thyself
of thy trust as thou mayst deem conducive to the peace of my soul. And of
thee, dearest lady, I entreat one favour, that I be not forgotten of, thee,
after my death, so that there whither I go it may still be my boast to be
beloved here of the most beautiful lady that nature ever formed. Let me but
die with these two hopes assured, and without doubt I shall depart in

Both the merchant and the lady wept to hear him thus speak, and, when he had
done, comforted him, and promised faithfully, in the event of his death, to
do even as he besought them. He died almost immediately afterwards, and was
honourably buried by them. A few days sufficed the merchant to wind up all
his affairs in Rhodes and being minded to return to Cyprus aboard a Catalan
boat that was there, he asked the fair lady what she purposed to do if he
went back to Cyprus. The lady answered, that, if it were agreeable to him,
she would gladly accompany him, hoping that for love of Antioco, he would
treat and regard her as his sister. The merchant replied, that it would
afford him all the pleasure in the world; and, to protect her from insult
until their arrival in Cyprus, he gave her out as his wife, and, suiting
action to word, slept with her on the boat in an alcove in a little cabin in
the poop. Whereby that happened which on neither side was intended when they
left Rhodes, to wit, that the darkness and the comfort and the warmth of the
bed, forces of no mean efficacy, did so prevail with them that dead Antioco
was forgotten alike as lover and as friend, and by a common impulse they
began to wanton together, insomuch that before they were arrived at Baffa,
where the Cypriote resided, they were indeed man and wife. At Baffa the lady
tarried with the merchant a good while, during which it so befell that a
gentleman, Antigono by name, a man of ripe age and riper wisdom but no great
wealth, being one that had had vast and various experience of affairs in the
service of the King of Cyprus but had found fortune adverse to him, came to
Baffa on business; and passing one day by the house where the fair lady was
then living by herself, for the Cypriote merchant was gone to Armenia with
some of his wares, he chanced to catch sight of the lady at one of the
windows, and, being struck by her extraordinary beauty, regarded her
attentively, and began to have some vague recollection of having seen her
before, but could by no means remember where. The fair lady, however, so
long the sport of Fortune, but now nearing the term of her woes, no sooner
saw Antigono than she remembered to have seen him in her father's service,
and in no mean capacity, at Alexandria. Wherefore she forthwith sent for
him, hoping that by his counsel she might elude her merchant and be
reinstated in her true character and dignity of princess. When he presented
himself, she asked him with some embarrassment whether he were, as she took
him to be, Antigono of Famagosta. He answered in the affirmative,
adding:--"And of you, madam, I have a sort of recollection, though I cannot
say where I have seen you; wherefore so it irk you not, bring, I pray you,
yourself to my remembrance." Satisfied that it was Antigono himself, the
lady in a flood of tears threw herself upon him to his no small amazement,
and embraced his neck: then, after a little while, she asked him whether he
had never see her in Alexandria. The question awakened Antigono's memory; he
at once recognised Alatiel, the Soldan's daughter, whom he had though to
have been drowned at sea, and would have paid her due homage; but she would
not suffer it, and bade him be seated with her for a while. Being seated, he
respectfully asked her, how, and when and whence she had come thither,
seeing that all Egypt believed for certain that she had been drowned at sea
some years before. "And would that so it had been," said the lady, "rather
than I should have led the life that I have led; and so doubtless will my
father say, if he shall ever come to know of it." And so saying, she burst
into such a flood of tears that 'twas a wonder to see. Wherefore Antigono
said to her:--"Nay but, madam, be not distressed before the occasion arises.
I pray you, tell me the story of your adventures, and what has been the
tenor of your life; perchance 'twill prove to be no such matter but, God
helping us, we may set it all straight." "Antigono," said the fair lady,
"when I saw thee, 'twas as if I saw my father, and 'twas the tender love by
which I am holden to him that prompted me to make myself known to thee,
though I might have kept my secret; and few indeed there are, whom to have
met would have afforded me such pleasure as this which I have in meeting and
recognising thee before all others; wherefore I will now make known to thee
as to my father that which in my evil fortune I have ever kept close. If,
when thou hast heard my story, thou seest any means whereby I may be
reinstated in my former honour, I pray thee use it. If not, disclose to none
that thou hast seen me or heard aught of me."

Then, weeping between every word, she told him her whole story from the day
of the shipwreck at Majorca to that hour. Antigono wept in sympathy, and
then said:--"Madam, as throughout this train of misfortunes you have happily
escaped recognition, I undertake to restore you to your father in such sort
that you shall be dearer to him than ever before, and be afterwards married
to the King of Algarve. "How?" she asked. Whereupon he explained to her in
detail how he meant to proceed; and, lest delay should give occasion to
another to interfere, he went back at once to Famagosta, and having obtained
audience of the King, thus he spoke:--"Sire, so please you, you have it in
your power at little cost to yourself to do a thing, which will at once
redound most signally to your honour and confer a great boon on me, who have
grown poor in your service." "How?" asked the King. Then said Antigono:--"At
Baffa is of late arrived a fair damsel, daughter of the Soldan, long thought
to be drowned, who to preserve her chastity has suffered long and severe
hardship. She is now reduced to poverty, and is desirous of returning to her
father. If you should be pleased to send her back to him under my escort,
your honour and my interest would be served in high and equal measure; nor
do I think that such a service would ever be forgotten by the Soldan."

With true royal generosity the King forthwith signified his approval, and
had Alatiel brought under honourable escort to Famagosta, where, attended by
his Queen, he received her with every circumstance of festal pomp and
courtly magnificence. Schooled by Antigono, she gave the King and Queen such
a version of her adventures as satisfied their inquiries in every
particular. So, after a few days, the King sent her back to the Soldan under
escort of Antigono, attended by a goodly company of honourable men and
women; and of the cheer which the Soldan made her, and not her only but
Antigono and all his company, it boots not to ask. When she was somewhat
rested, the Soldan inquired how it was that she was yet alive, and where she
had been go long without letting him know how it fared with her. Whereupon
the lady, who had got Antigono's lesson by heart, answered thus:--"My
father, 'twas perhaps the twentieth night after my departure from you when
our ship parted her timbers in a terrible storm and went ashore nigh a place
called Aguamorta, away there in the West: what was the fate of the men that
were aboard our ship I know not, nor knew I ever; I remember only, that,
when day came, and I returned, as it were, from death to life, the wreck,
having been sighted, was boarded by folk from all the country-side, intent
on plunder; and I and two of my women were taken ashore, where the women
were forthwith parted from me by the young men, nor did I ever learn their
fate. Now hear my own. Struggling might and main, I was seized by two young
men, who dragged me, weeping bitterly, by the hair of the head, towards a
great forest; but, on sight of four men who were then passing that way on
horseback, they forthwith loosed me and took to flight. Whereupon the four
men, who struck me as persons of great authority, ran up to me; and much
they questioned me, and much I said to them; but neither did they understand
me, nor I them. So, after long time conferring together, they set me on one
of their horses and brought me to a house, where dwelt a community of
ladies, religious according to their law; and what the men may have said I
know not, but there I was kindly received and ever honourably entreated by
all; and with them I did afterwards most reverentially pay my devotions to
St. Crescent-in-Hollow, who is held in great honour by the women of that
country. When I had been some time with them, and had learned something of
their language, they asked me who and whence I was: whereto I, knowing that
I was in a convent, and fearing to be cast out as a foe to their law if I
told the truth, answered that I was the daughter of a great gentleman of
Cyprus, who had intended to marry me to a gentleman of Crete; but that on
the voyage we had been driven out of our course and wrecked at Aguamorta.
And so I continued, as occasion required, observing their usages with much
assiduity, lest worse should befall me; but being one day asked by their
superior, whom they call abbess, whether I was minded to go back to Cyprus,
I answered that, there was nought that I desired so much. However, so
solicitous for my honour was the abbess, that there was none going to Cyprus
to whom she would entrust me, until, two months or so ago, there arrived
some worthy men from France, of whom one was a kinsman of the abbess, with
their wives. They were on their way to visit the sepulchre where He whom
they hold to be God was buried after He had suffered death at the hands of
the Jews; and the abbess, learning their destination, prayed them to take
charge of me, and restore me to my father in Cyprus. With what cheer, with
what honour, these gentlemen and their wives entertained me, 'twere long to
tell. But, in brief, we embarked, and in the course of a few days arrived at
Baffa, where it was so ordered by the providence of God, who perchance took
pity on me, that in the very hour of our disembarkation I, not knowing a
soul and being at a loss how to answer the gentlemen, who would fain have
discharged the trust laid upon them by the reverend abbess and restored me
to my father, fell in, on the shore, with Antigono, whom I forthwith called,
and in our language, that I might be understood neither of the gentlemen nor
of their wives, bade him acknowledge me as his daughter. He understood my
case at once, made much of me, and to the utmost of his slender power
honourably requited the gentlemen. He then brought me to the King of Cyprus,
who accorded me welcome there and conduct hither so honourable as words of
mine can never describe. If aught remains to tell, you had best learn it
from the lips of Antigono, who has often heard my story."

Then Antigono, addressing the Soldan, said:--"Sire, what she has told you
accords with what she has often told me, and, with what I have learned from
the gentlemen and ladies who accompanied her. One thing, however, she has
omitted, because, I suppose, it hardly becomes her to tell it; to wit, all
that the gentlemen and ladies, who accompanied her, said of the virtuous and
gracious and noble life which she led with the devout ladies, and of the
tears and wailings of both the ladies and the gentlemen, when they parted
with her to me. But were I to essay to repeat all that they said to me, the
day that now is, and the night that is to follow, were all too short:
suffice it to say so much as this, that, by what I gathered from their words
and have been able to see for myself, you may make it your boast, that among
all the daughters of all your peers that wear the crown none can be matched
with yours for virtue and true worth."

By all which the Soldan was so overjoyed that 'twas a wonder to see. Again
and again he made supplication to God, that of His grace power might be
vouchsafed him adequately to recompense all who had done honour to his
daughter, and most especially the King of Cyprus, for the honourable escort
under which he had sent her thither; for Antigono he provided a magnificent
guerdon, and some days later gave him his conge to return to Cyprus, at the
same time by a special ambassage conveying to the King his grateful
acknowledgments of the manner in which he had treated his daughter. Then,
being minded that his first intent, to wit, that his daughter should be the
bride of the King of Algarve, should not be frustrate, he wrote to the King,
telling him all, and adding that, if he were still minded to have her, he
might send for her. The King was overjoyed by these tidings, and having sent
for her with great pomp, gave her on her arrival a hearty welcome. So she,
who had lain with eight men, in all, perhaps, ten thousand times, was bedded
with him as a virgin, and made him believe that a virgin she was, and lived
long and happily with him as his queen: wherefore 'twas said:--"Mouth, for
kisses, was never the worse: like as the moon reneweth her course."

(1) I.e. according to medieval usage, Egypt.
(2) I.e. Garbo, the coast of Africa opposite Andalusia and Granada.


The Count of Antwerp, labouring under a false accusation goes into exile. He
leaves his two children in different places in England, and takes service in
Ireland. Returning to England an unknown man, he finds his sons prosperous.
He serves as a groom in the army of the King of France; his innocence is
established and he is restored to his former honours.

The ladies heaved many sighs over the various fortunes of the fair lady: but
what prompted those sighs who shall say? With some, perchance, 'twas as much
envy as pity of one to whose lot fell so many nights of delight. But,
however this may be, when Pamfilo's story was ended, and the laughter which
greeted his last words had subsided, the queen turned to Elisa, and bade her
follow suit with one of her stories. So Elisa with a cheerful courage thus

Vast indeed is the field that lies before us, wherein to roam at large;
'twould readily afford each of us not one course but ten, so richly has
Fortune diversified it with episodes both strange and sombre; wherefore
selecting one such from this infinite store, I say:--That, after the
transference of the Roman Empire from the Franks to the Germans, the
greatest enmity prevailed between the two nations, with warfare perpetual
and relentless: wherefore, deeming that the offensive would be their best
defence, the King of France and his son mustered all the forces they could
raise from their own dominions and those of their kinsmen and allies, and
arrayed a grand army for the subjugation of their enemies. Before they took
the field, as they could not leave the realm without a governor, they chose
for that office Gautier, Count of Antwerp, a true knight and sage
counsellor, and their very loyal ally and vassal, choosing him the rather,
because, albeit he was a thorough master of the art of war, yet they deemed
him less apt to support its hardships than for the conduct of affairs of a
delicate nature. Him, therefore, they set in their place as their
vicar-general and regent of the whole realm of France, and having so done,
they took the field.

Count Gautier ordered his administration wisely and in a regular course,
discussing all matters with the queen and her daughter-in-law; whom, albeit
they were left under his charge and jurisdiction, he nevertheless treated as
his ladies paramount. The Count was about forty years of age, and the very
mould of manly beauty; in bearing as courteous and chivalrous as ever a
gentleman might be, and withal so debonair and dainty, so feat and trim of
person that he had not his peer, among the gallants of that day. His wife
was dead, leaving him two children and no more, to wit, a boy and a girl,
still quite young. Now the King and his son being thus away at the war, and
the Count frequenting the court of the two said ladies, and consulting with
them upon affairs of state, it so befell, that the Prince's lady regarded
him with no small favour, being very sensible alike of the advantages of his
person and the nobility of his bearing; whereby she conceived for him a
passion which was all the more ardent because it was secret. And, as he was
without a wife, and she was still in the freshness of her youth, she saw not
why she should not readily be gratified; but supposing that nothing stood in
the way but her own shamefastness, she resolved to be rid of that, and
disclose her mind to him without any reserve. So one day, when she was
alone, she seized her opportunity, and sent for him, as if she were desirous
to converse with him on indifferent topics. The Count, his mind entirely
aloof from the lady's purpose, presented himself forthwith, and at her
invitation sate down by her side on a settee. They were quite alone in the
room; but the Count had twice asked her the reason why she had so honoured
him, before, overcome by passion, she broke silence, and crimson from neck
with shame, half sobbing, trembling in every limb, and at every word, she
thus spoke:--"Dearest friend and sweet my lord, sagacity such as yours
cannot but be apt to perceive how great is the frailty of men and women, and
how, for divers reasons, it varies in different persons in such a degree
that no just judge would mete out the same measure to each indifferently,
though the fault were apparently the same. Who would not acknowledge that a
poor man or woman, fain to earn daily bread by the sweat of the brow, is far
more reprehensible in yielding to the solicitations of love, than a rich
lady, whose life is lapped in ease and unrestricted luxury? Not a soul, I am
persuaded, but would so acknowledge! Wherefore I deem that the possession of
these boons of fortune should go far indeed to acquit the possessor, if she,
perchance, indulge an errant love; and, for the rest, that, if she have
chosen a wise and worthy lover, she should be entirely exonerated. And as I
think I may fairly claim the benefit of both these pleas, and of others
beside, to wit, my youth and my husband's absence, which naturally incline
me to love, 'tis meet that I now urge them in your presence in defence of my
passion; and if they have the weight with you which they should have with
the wise, I pray you to afford me your help and counsel in the matter
wherein I shall demand it. I avow that in the absence of my husband I have
been unable to withstand the promptings of the flesh and the power of love,
forces of such potency that even the strongest men--not to speak of delicate
women--have not seldom been, nay daily are, overcome by them; and so, living
thus, as you see me, in ease and luxury, I have allowed the allurements of
love to draw me on until at last I find myself a prey to passion. Wherein
were I discovered, I were, I confess, dishonoured; but discovery being
avoided, I count the dishonour all but nought. Moreover, love has been so
gracious to me that not only has he spared to blind me in the choice of my
lover, but he has even lent me his most effective aid, pointing me to one
well worthy of the love of a lady such as I, even to yourself; whom, if I
misread not my mind, I deem the most handsome and courteous and debonair,
and therewithal the sagest cavalier that the realm of France may shew. And
as you are without a wife, so may I say that I find myself without a
husband. Wherefore in return for this great love I bear you, deny me not, I
pray you, yours; but have pity on my youth, which wastes away for you like
ice before the fire."

These words were followed by such a flood of tears, that, albeit she had
intended yet further to press her suit, speech failed her; her eyes drooped,
and, almost swooning with emotion, she let her head fall upon the Count's
breast. The Count, who was the most loyal of knights, began with all
severity to chide her mad passion and to thrust her from him--for she was
now making as if she would throw her arms around his neck--and to asseverate
with oaths that he would rather be hewn in pieces than either commit, or
abet another in committing such an offence against the honour of his lord;
when the lady, catching his drift, and forgetting all her love in a sudden
frenzy of rage, cried out:--"So! unknightly knight, is it thus you flout my
love? Now Heaven forbid, but, as you would be the death of me, I either do
you to death or drive you from the world!" So saying, she dishevelled and
tore her hair and rent her garments to shreds about her bosom. Which done,
she began shrieking at the top of her voice:--"Help! help! The Count of
Antwerp threatens to violate me!" Whereupon the Count, who knew that a clear
conscience was no protection against the envy of courtiers, and doubted that
his innocence would prove scarce a match for the cunning of the lady,
started to his feet, and hied him with all speed out of the room, out of the
palace, and back to his own house. Counsel of none he sought; but forthwith
set his children on horseback, and taking horse himself, departed post haste
for Calais. The lady's cries brought not a few to her aid, who, observing
her plight, not only gave entire credence to her story, but improved upon
it, alleging that the debonair and accomplished Count had long employed all
the arts of seduction to compass his end. So they rushed in hot haste to the
Count's house, with intent to arrest him, and not finding him, sacked it and
razed it to the ground. The news, as glosed and garbled, being carried to
the King and Prince in the field, they were mightily incensed, and offered a
great reward for the Count, dead or alive, and condemned him and his
posterity to perpetual banishment.

Meanwhile the Count, sorely troubled that by his flight his innocence shewed
as guilt, pursued his journey, and concealing his identity, and being
recognised by none, arrived with his two children at Calais. Thence he
forthwith crossed to England, and, meanly clad, fared on for London, taking
care as he went to school his children in all that belonged to their new way
of life, and especially in two main articles: to wit, that they should bear
with resignation the poverty to which, by no fault of theirs, but solely by
one of Fortune's caprices, they and he were reduced, and that they should be
most sedulously on their guard to betray to none, as they valued their
lives, whence they were, or who their father was. The son, Louis by name,
was perhaps nine, and the daughter, Violante, perhaps seven years of age.
For years so tender they proved apt pupils, and afterwards shewed by their
conduct that they had well learned their father's lesson. He deemed it
expedient to change their names, and accordingly called the boy Perrot and
the girl Jeannette. So, meanly clad, the Count and his two children arrived
at London, and there made shift to get a living by going about soliciting
alms in the guise of French mendicants.

Now, as for this purpose they waited one morning outside a church, it so
befell that a great lady, the wife of one of the marshals of the King of
England, observed them, as she left the church, asking alms, and demanded of
the Count whence he was, and whether the children were his. He answered that
he was from Picardy, that the children were his, and that he had been fain
to leave Picardy by reason of the misconduct of their reprobate elder
brother. The lady looked at the girl, who being fair, and of gentle and
winning mien and manners, found much favour in her eyes. So the kind-hearted
lady said to the Count:--"My good man, if thou art willing to leave thy
little daughter with me, I like her looks so well that I will gladly take
her; and if she grow up a good woman, I will see that she is suitably
married when the right time comes." The Count was much gratified by the
proposal, which he forthwith accepted, and parted with the girl, charging
the lady with tears to take every care of her.

Having thus placed the girl with one in whom he felt sure that he might
trust, he determined to tarry no longer in London; wherefore, taking Perrot
with him and begging as he went, he made his way to Wales, not without great
suffering, being unused to go afoot. Now in Wales another of the King's
marshals had his court, maintaining great state and a large number of
retainers; to which court, the Count and his son frequently repaired, there
to get food; and there Perrot, finding the marshal's son and other
gentlemen's sons vying with one another in boyish exercises, as running and
leaping, little by little joined their company, and shewed himself a match
or more for them all in all their contests. The marshal's attention being
thus drawn to him, he was well pleased with the boy's mien and bearing, and
asked who he was. He was told that he was the son of a poor man who
sometimes came there to solicit alms. Whereupon he asked the Count to let
him have the boy, and the Count, to whom God could have granted no greater
boon, readily consented, albeit he was very loath to part with Perrot.

Having thus provided for his son and daughter, the Count resolved to quit
the island; and did so, making his way as best he could to Stamford, in
Ireland, where he obtained a menial's place in the service of a knight,
retainer to one of the earls of that Country, and so abode there a long
while, doing all the irksome and wearisome drudgery of a lackey or groom.

Meanwhile under the care of the gentle lady at London Violante or Jeannette
increased, as in years and stature so also in beauty, and in such favour
with the lady and her husband and every other member of the household and
all who knew her that 'twas a wonder to see; nor was there any that,
observing her bearing and manners, would not have said that estate or
dignity there was none so high or honourable but she was worthy of it. So
the lady, who, since she had received her from her father, had been unable
to learn aught else about him than what he had himself told, was minded to
marry her honourably according to what she deemed to be her rank. But God,
who justly apportions reward according to merit, having regard to her noble
birth, her innocence, and the load of suffering which the sin of another had
laid upon her, ordered otherwise; and in His good providence, lest the young
gentlewoman should be mated with a churl, permitted, we must believe, events
to take the course they did.

The gentle lady with whom Jeannette lived had an only son, whom she and her
husband loved most dearly, as well because he was a son as for his rare and
noble qualities, for in truth there were few that could compare with him in
courtesy and courage and personal beauty. Now the young man marked the
extraordinary beauty and grace of Jeannette, who was about six years his
junior, and fell so desperately in love with her that he had no eyes for any
other maiden; but, deeming her to be of low degree, he not only hesitated to
ask her of his parents in marriage, but, fearing to incur reproof for
indulging a passion for an inferior, he did his utmost to conceal his love.
Whereby it gave him far more disquietude than if he had avowed it; insomuch
that--so extreme waxed his suffering--he fell ill, and that seriously.
Divers physicians were called in, but, for all their scrutiny of his
symptoms, they could not determine the nature of his malady, and one and all
gave him up for lost. Nothing could exceed the sorrow and dejection of his
father and mother, who again and again piteously implored him to discover to
them the cause of his malady, and received no other answer than sighs or
complaints that he seemed to be wasting away. Now it so happened that one
day, Jeannette, who from regard for his mother was sedulous in waiting upon
him, for some reason or another came into the room where he lay, while a
very young but very skilful physician sate by him and held his pulse. The
young man gave her not a word or other sign of recognition; but his passion
waxed, his heart smote him, and the acceleration of his pulse at once
betrayed his inward commotion to the physician, who, albeit surprised,
remained quietly attentive to see how long it would last, and observing that
it ceased when Jeannette left the room, conjectured that he was on the way
to explain the young man's malady. So, after a while, still holding the
young man's pulse, he sent for Jeannette, as if he had something to ask of
her. She returned forthwith; the young man's pulse mounted as soon as she
entered the room, and fell again as soon as she left it. Wherefore the
physician no longer hesitated, but rose, and taking the young man's father
and mother aside, said to them:--"The restoration of your son's health rests
not with medical skill, but solely with Jeannette, whom, as by unmistakable
signs I have discovered, he ardently loves, though, so far I can see, she is
not aware of it. So you know what you have to do, if you value his life."
The prospect thus afforded of their son's deliverance from death reassured
the gentleman and his lady, albeit they were troubled, misdoubting it must
be by his marriage with Jeannette. So, when the physician was gone, they
went to the sick lad, and the lady thus spoke:--"My son, never would I have
believed that thou wouldst have concealed from me any desire of thine, least
of all if such it were that privation should cause thee to languish; for
well assured thou shouldst have been and shouldst be, that I hold thee dear
as my very self, and that whatever may be for thy contentment, even though
it were scarce seemly, I would do it for thee; but, for all thou hast so
done, God has shewn Himself more merciful to theeward than thyself, and,
lest thou die of this malady, has given me to know its cause, which is
nothing else than the excessive love which thou bearest to a young woman, be
she who she may. Which love in good sooth thou needest not have been ashamed
to declare; for it is but natural at thy age; and hadst thou not loved, I
should have deemed thee of very little worth. So, my son, be not shy of me,
but frankly discover to me thy whole heart; and away with this gloom and
melancholy whereof thy sickness is engendered, and be comforted, and assure
thyself that there is nought that thou mayst require of me which I will not
do to give thee ease, so far as my powers may reach, seeing that thou art
dearer to me than my own life. Away with thy shamefastness and fears, and
tell me if there is aught wherein I may be helpful to thee in the matter of
thy love; and if I bestir not myself and bring it to pass, account me the
most harsh mother that ever bore son."

The young man was at first somewhat shamefast to hear his mother thus speak,
but, reflecting that none could do more for his happiness than she, he took
courage, and thus spoke:--"Madam, my sole reason for concealing my love from
you was that I have observed that old people for the most part forget that
they once were young; but, as I see that no such unreasonableness is to be
apprehended in you, I not only acknowledge the truth of what you say that
you have discerned, but I will also disclose to you the object of my
passion, on the understanding that your promise shall to the best of your
power be performed, as it must be, if I am to be restored to you in sound
health." Whereupon the lady, making too sure of that which was destined to
fall out otherwise than she expected, gave him every encouragement to
discover all his heart, and promised to lose no time and spare no pains in
endeavouring to compass his gratification. "Madam," said then the young man,
"the rare beauty and exquisite manners of our Jeannette, my powerlessness to
make her understand--I do not say commiserate--my love, and my reluctance to
disclose it to any, have brought me to the condition in which you see me;
and if your promise be not in one way or another performed, be sure that my
life will be brief." The lady, deeming that the occasion called rather for
comfort than for admonition, replied with a smile:--"Ah! my son, was this
then of all things the secret of thy suffering? Be of good cheer, and leave
me to arrange the affair, when you are recovered." So, animated by a
cheerful hope, the young man speedily gave sign of a most marked
improvement, which the lady observed with great satisfaction, and then began
to cast about how she might keep her promise. So one day she sent for
Jeannette, and in a tone of gentle raillery asked her if she had a lover.
Jeannette turned very red as she answered:--"Madam, 'twould scarce, nay,
'twould ill become a damsel such as I, poor, outcast from home, and in the
service of another, to occupy herself with thoughts of love." Whereto the
lady answered:--"So you have none, we will give you one, who will brighten
all your life and give you more joy of your beauty; for it is not right that
so fair a damsel as you remain without a lover." "Madam," rejoined
Jeannette, "you found me living in poverty with my father, you adopted me,
you have brought me up as your daughter; wherefore I should, if possible,
comply with your every wish; but in this matter I will render you no
compliance, nor do I doubt that I do well. So you will give me a husband, I
will love him, but no other will I love; for, as patrimony I now have none
save my honour, that I am minded to guard and preserve while my life shall
last." Serious though the obstacle was which these words opposed to the plan
by which the lady had intended to keep her promise to her son, her sound
judgment could not but secretly acknowledge that the spirit which they
evinced was much to be commended in the damsel. Wherefore she said:--"Nay
but, Jeannette; suppose that our Lord the King, who is a young knight as
thou art a most fair damsel, craved some indulgence of thy love, wouldst
thou deny him?" "The King," returned Jeannette without the least hesitation,
"might constrain me, but with my consent he should never have aught of me
that was not honourable." Whereto the lady made no answer, for she now
understood the girl's temper; but, being minded to put her to the proof, she
told her son that, as soon as he was recovered, she would arrange that he
should be closeted with her in the same room, and be thus able to use all
his arts to bring her to his will, saying that it ill became her to play the
part of procuress and urge her son's suit upon her own maid. But as the
young man, by no means approving this idea, suddenly grew worse, the lady at
length opened her mind to Jeannette, whom she found in the same frame as
before, and indeed even more resolute. Wherefore she told her husband all
that she had done; and as both preferred that their son should marry beneath
him, and live, than that he should remain single and die, they resolved,
albeit much disconcerted, to give Jeannette to him to wife; and so after
long debate they did. Whereat Jeannette was overjoyed, and with devout heart
gave thanks to God that He had not forgotten her; nevertheless she still
gave no other account of herself than that she was the daughter of a Picard.
So the young man recovered, and blithe at heart as ne'er another, was
married, and began to speed the time gaily with his bride.

Meanwhile Perrot, left in Wales with the marshal of the King of England, had
likewise with increase of years increase of favour with his master, and grew
up most shapely and well-favoured, and of such prowess that in all the
island at tourney or joust or any other passage of arms he had not his peer;
being everywhere known and renowned as Perrot the Picard. And as God had not
forgotten Jeannette, so likewise He made manifest by what follows that He
had not forgotten Perrot. Well-nigh half the population of those parts being
swept off by a sudden visitation of deadly pestilence, most of the survivors
fled therefrom in a panic, so that the country was, to all appearance,
entirely deserted. Among those that died of the pest were the marshal, his
lady, and his son, besides brothers and nephews and kinsfolk in great
number; whereby of his entire household there were left only one of his
daughters, now marriageable, and a few servants, among them Perrot. Now
Perrot being a man of such notable prowess, the damsel, soon after the
pestilence had spent itself, took him, with the approval and by the advice
of the few folk that survived, to be her husband, and made him lord of all
that fell to her by inheritance. Nor was it long before the King of England,
learning that the marshal was dead, made Perrot the Picard, to whose merit
he was no stranger, marshal in the dead man's room. Such, in brief, was the
history of the two innocent children, with whom the Count of Antwerp had
parted, never expecting to see them again.

'Twas now the eighteenth year since the Count of Antwerp had taken flight
from Paris, when, being still in Ireland, where he had led a very sorry and
suffering sort of life, and feeling that age was now come upon him, he felt
a longing to learn, if possible, what was become of his children. The
fashion of his outward man was now completely changed; for long hardship had
(as he well knew) given to his age a vigour which his youth, lapped in ease,
had lacked. So he hesitated not to take his leave of the knight with whom he
had so long resided, and poor and in sorry trim he crossed to England, and
made his way to the place where he had left Perrot--to find him a great lord
and marshal of the King, and in good health, and withal a hardy man and very
handsome. All which was very grateful to the old man; but yet he would not
make himself known to his son, until he had learned the fate of Jeannette.
So forth he fared again, nor did he halt until he was come to London, where,
cautiously questing about for news of the lady with whom he had left his
daughter, and how it fared with her, he learned that Jeannette was married
to the lady's son. Whereat, in the great gladness of his heart, he counted
all his past adversity but a light matter, since he had found his children
alive and prosperous. But sore he yearned to see Jeannette. Wherefore he
took to loitering, as poor folk are wont, in the neighbourhood of the house.
And so one day Jacques Lamiens--such was the name of Jeannette's husband--
saw him and had pity on him, observing that he was poor and aged, and bade
one of his servants take him indoors, and for God's sake give him something
to eat; and nothing loath the servant did so. Now Jeannette had borne
Jacques several children, the finest and the most winsome children in the
world, the eldest no more than eight years old; who gathered about the Count
as he ate, and, as if by instinct divining that he was their grandfather,
began to make friends with him. He, knowing them for his grandchildren,
could not conceal his love, and repaid them with caresses; insomuch that
they would not hearken to their governor when he called them, but remained
with the Count. Which being reported to Jeannette, she came out of her room,
crossed to where the Count was sitting with the children, and bade them do
as their master told them, or she would certainly have them whipped. The
children began to cry, and to say that they would rather stay with the
worthy man, whom they liked much better than their master; whereat both the
lady and the Count laughed in sympathy. The Count had risen, with no other
intention--for he was not minded to disclose his paternity--than to pay his
daughter the respect due from his poverty to her rank, and the sight of her
had thrilled his soul with a wondrous delight. By her he was and remained
unrecognised; utterly changed as he was from his former self; aged,
grey-haired, bearded, lean and tanned--in short to all appearance another
man than the Count.

However, seeing that the children were unwilling to leave him, but wept when
she made as if she would constrain them, she bade the master let them be for
a time. So the children remained with the worthy man, until by chance
Jacques' father came home, and learned from the master what had happened.
Whereupon, having a grudge against Jeannette, he said:--"Let them be; and
God give them the ill luck which He owes them: whence they sprang, thither
they must needs return; they descend from a vagabond on the mother's side,
and so 'tis no wonder that they consort readily with vagabonds." The Count
caught these words and was sorely pained, but, shrugging his shoulders, bore
the affront silently as he had borne many another. Jacques, who had noted
his children's fondness for the worthy man, to wit, the Count, was
displeased; but nevertheless, such was the love he bore them, that, rather
than see them weep, he gave order that, if the worthy man cared to stay
there in his service, he should be received. The Count answered that he
would gladly do so, but that he was fit for nothing except to look after
horses, to which he had been used all his life. So a horse was assigned him,
and when he had groomed him, he occupied himself in playing with the

While Fortune thus shaped the destinies of the Count of Antwerp and his
children, it so befell that after a long series of truces made with the
Germans the King of France died, and his crown passed to his son, whose wife
had been the occasion of the Count's banishment. The new king, as soon as
the last truce with the Germans was run out, renewed hostilities with
extraordinary vigour, being aided by his brother of England with a large
army under the command of his marshal, Perrot, and his other marshal's son,
Jacques Lamiens. With them went the worthy man, that is to say, the Count,
who, unrecognised by any, served for a long while in the army in the
capacity of groom, and acquitted himself both in counsel and in arms with a
wisdom and valour unwonted in one of his supposed rank. The war was still
raging when the Queen of France fell seriously ill, and, as she felt her end
approach, made a humble and contrite confession of all her sins to the
Archbishop of Rouen, who was universally reputed a good and most holy man.
Among her other sins she confessed the great wrong that she had done to the
Count of Antwerp; nor was she satisfied to confide it to the Archbishop, but
recounted the whole affair, as it had passed, to not a few other worthy men,
whom she besought to use their influence with the King to procure the
restitution of the Count, if he were still alive, and if not, of his
children, to honour and estate. And so, dying shortly afterwards, she was
honourably buried. The Queen's confession wrung from the King a sigh or two
of compunction for a brave man cruelly wronged; after which he caused
proclamation to be made throughout the army and in many other parts, that
whoso should bring him tidings of the Count of Antwerp, or his children,
should receive from him such a guerdon for each of them as should justly be
matter of marvel; seeing that he held him acquitted, by confession of the
Queen, of the crime for which he had been banished, and was therefore now
minded to grant him not only restitution but increase of honour and estate.

Now the Count, being still with the army in his character of groom, heard
the proclamation, which he did not doubt was made in good faith. Wherefore
he hied him forthwith to Jacques, and begged a private interview with him
and Perrot, that he might discover to them that whereof the King was in
quest. So the meeting was had; and Perrot was on the point of declaring
himself, when the Count anticipated him:--"Perrot," he said, "Jacques here
has thy sister to wife, but never a dowry had he with her. Wherefore that
thy sister be not dowerless, 'tis my will that he, and no other, have this
great reward which the King offers for thee, son, as he shall certify, of
the Count of Antwerp, and for his wife and thy sister, Violante, and for me,
Count of Antwerp, thy father." So hearing, Perrot scanned the Count closely,
and forthwith recognising him, burst into tears, and throwing himself at his
feet embraced him, saying:--"My father, welcome, welcome indeed art thou."
Whereupon, between what he had heard from the Count and what he had
witnessed on the part of Perrot, Jacques was so overcome with wonder and
delight, that at first he was at a loss to know how to act. However, giving
entire credence to what he had heard, and recalling insulting language which
he had used towards the quondam groom, the Count, he was sore stricken with
shame, and wept, and fell at the Count's feet, and humbly craved his pardon
for all past offences; which the Count, raising him to his feet, most
graciously granted him. So with many a tear and many a hearty laugh the
three men compared their several fortunes; which done, Perrot and Jacques
would have arrayed the Count in manner befitting his rank, but he would by
no means suffer it, being minded that Jacques, so soon as he was well
assured that the guerdon was forthcoming, should present him to the King in
his garb of groom, that thereby the King might be the more shamed. So
Jacques, with the Count and Perrot, went presently to the King and offered
to present to him the Count and his children, provided the guerdon were
forthcoming according to the proclamation. Jacques wondered not a little as
forthwith at a word from the King a guerdon was produced ample for all
three, and he was bidden take it away with him, so only that he should in
very truth produce, as he had promised, the Count and his children in the
royal presence. Then, withdrawing a little and causing his quondam groom,
now Count, to come forward with Perrot, he said:--"Sire, father and son are
before you; the daughter, my wife, is not here, but, God willing, you shall
soon see her." So hearing, the King surveyed the Count, whom,
notwithstanding his greatly changed appearance, he at length recognised, and
well-nigh moved to tears, he raised him from his knees to his feet, and
kissed and embraced him. He also gave a kindly welcome to Perrot, and bade
forthwith furnish the Count with apparel, servants and horses, suited to his
rank; all which was no sooner said than done. Moreover the King shewed
Jacques no little honour, and particularly questioned him of all his past

As Jacques was about to take the noble guerdons assigned him for the
discovery of the Count and his children, the Count said to him:--"Take these
tokens of the magnificence of our Lord the King, and forget not to tell thy
father that 'tis from no vagabond that thy children, his and my
grandchildren, descend on the mother's side." So Jacques took the guerdons,
and sent for his wife and mother to join him at Paris. Thither also came
Perrot's wife: and there with all magnificence they were entertained by the
Count, to whom the King had not only restored all his former estates and
honours, but added thereto others, whereby he was now become a greater man
than he had ever been before. Then with the Count's leave they all returned
to their several houses. The Count himself spent the rest of his days at
Paris in greater glory than ever.


Bernabo of Genoa, deceived by Ambrogiuolo, loses his money and commands his
innocent wife to be put to death. She escapes, habits herself as a man, and
serves the Soldan. She discovers the deceiver, and brings Bernabo to
Alexandria, where the deceiver is punished. She then resumes the garb of a
woman, and with her husband returns wealthy to Genoa.

When Elisa had performed her part, and brought her touching story to a
close, Queen Philomena, a damsel no less stately than fair of person, and of
a surpassingly sweet and smiling mien, having composed herself to speak,
thus began:--

Our engagements with Dioneo shall be faithfully observed; wherefore, as he
and I alone remain to complete the day's narration, I will tell my story
first, and he shall have the grace he craved, and be the last to speak.
After which prelude she thus began her story:--'Tis a proverb current among
the vulgar that the deceived has the better of the deceiver; a proverb
which, were it not exemplified by events, might hardly in any manner be
justified. Wherefore, while adhering to our theme, I am minded at the same
time dearest ladies to shew you that there is truth in this proverb; the
proof whereof should be none the less welcome to you that it may put you on
your guard against deceivers.

Know then that certain very great merchants of Italy, being met, as
merchants use, for divers reasons proper to each, at a hostelry in Paris,
and having one evening jovially supped together, fell a talking of divers
matters, and so, passing from one topic to another, they came at last to
discuss the ladies whom they had left at home, and one jocosely said:--"I
cannot answer for my wife; but for myself I own, that, whenever a girl that
is to my mind comes in my way, I give the go-by to the love that I bear my
wife, and take my pleasure of the new-comer to the best of my power." "And
so do I," said another, "because I know that, whether I suspect her or no,
my wife tries her fortune, and so 'tis do as you are done by; the ass and
the wall are quits." A third added his testimony to the same effect; and in
short all seemed to concur in the opinion that the ladies they had left
behind them were not likely to neglect their opportunities, when one, a
Genoese, Bernabo Lomellin by name, dissociated himself from the rest,
affirming that by especial grace of God he was blessed with a wife who was,
perhaps, the most perfect paragon to be found in Italy of all the virtues
proper to a lady, ay, and in great measure, to a knight or squire; inasmuch
as she was fair, still quite young, handy, hardy, and clever beyond all
other women in embroidery work and all other forms of lady's handicraft.
Moreover so well-mannered, discreet and sensible was she that she was as fit
to wait at a lord's table as any squire or manservant or such like, the best
and most adroit that could be found. To which encomium he added that she
knew how to manage a horse, fly a hawk, read, write and cast up accounts
better than as if she were a merchant; and after much more in the same
strain of commendation he came at length to the topic of their conversation,
asseverating with an oath that 'twas not possible to find a woman more
honest, more chaste than she: nay, he verily believed that, if he remained
from home for ten years, or indeed for the rest of his days, she would never
think of any of these casual amours with any other man.

Among the merchants who thus gossiped was a young man, Ambrogiuolo da
Piacenza, by name, who, when Bernabo thus concluded his eulogy of his wife,
broke out into a mighty laugh, and asked him with a leer, whether he of all
men had this privilege by special patent of the Emperor. Bernabo replied,
somewhat angrily, that 'twas a boon conferred upon him by God, who was
rather more powerful than the Emperor. To which Ambrogiuolo rejoined:--"I
make no doubt, Bernabo, that thou believest that what thou sayst is true;
but, methinks, thou hast been but a careless observer of the nature of
things; otherwise, I do not take thee to be of so gross understanding but
that thou must have discerned therein reasons for speaking more judiciously
of this matter. And that thou mayst not think that we, who have spoken with
much freedom about our wives, deem them to be of another nature and mould
than thine, but mayst know that we have but uttered what common sense
dictates, I am minded to go a little further into this matter with thee. I
have always understood, that of all mortal beings created by God man is the
most noble, and next after him woman: man, then, being, as is universally
believed, and is indeed apparent by his works, more perfect than woman, must
without doubt be endowed with more firmness and constancy, women being one
and all more mobile, for reasons not a few and founded in nature, which I
might adduce, but mean for the present to pass over. And yet, for all his
greater firmness, man cannot withstand--I do not say a woman's
supplications, but--the mere lust of the eye which she unwittingly excites,
and that in such sort that he will do all that is in his power to induce her
to pleasure him, not once, perhaps, in the course of a month, but a thousand
times a day. How, then, shouldst thou expect a woman, mobile by nature, to
resist the supplications, the flatteries, the gifts, and all the other modes
of attack that an accomplished seducer will employ? Thou thinkest that she
may hold out! Nay verily, affirm it as thou mayst, I doubt thou dost not
really so think. Thou dost not deny that thy wife is a woman, a creature of
flesh and blood like the rest; and if so, she must have the same cravings,
the same natural propensities as they, and no more force to withstand them;
wherefore 'tis at least possible, that, however honest she be, she will do
as others do; and nought that is possible admits such peremptory denial or
affirmation of its contrary as this of thine."

Whereto Bernabo returned--"I am a merchant and no philosopher, and I will
give thee a merchant's answer. I acknowledge that what thou sayst is true of
vain and foolish women who have no modesty, but such as are discreet are so
sensitive in regard of their honour that they become better able to preserve
it than men, who have no such solicitude; and my wife is one of this sort."
"Doubtless," observed Ambrogiuolo, "few would be found to indulge in these
casual amours, if every time they did so a horn grew out on the brow to
attest the fact; but not only does no horn make its appearance but not so
much as a trace or vestige of a horn, so only they be but prudent; and the
shame and dishonour consist only in the discovery: wherefore, if they can do
it secretly, they do it, or are fools to refrain. Hold it for certain that
she alone is chaste who either had never suit made to her, or, suing
herself, was repulsed. And albeit I know that for reasons true and founded
in nature this must needs be, yet I should not speak so positively thereof
as I do, had I not many a time with many a woman verified it by experience.
And I assure thee that, had I but access to this most saintly wife of thine,
I should confidently expect very soon to have the same success with her as
with others." Then Bernabo angrily:--"'Twere long and tedious to continue
this discussion. I should have my say, and thou thine, and in the end
'twould come to nothing. But, as thou sayst that they are all so compliant,
and that thou art so accomplished a seducer, I give thee this pledge of the
honour of my wife: I consent to forfeit my head, if thou shouldst succeed in
bringing her to pleasure thee in such a sort; and shouldst thou fail, thou
shalt forfeit to me no more than one thousand florins of gold."

Elated by this unexpected offer, Ambrogiuolo replied:--"I know not what I
should do with thy blood, Bernabo, if I won the wager; but, if thou wouldst
have proof of what I have told thee, lay five thousand florins of gold,
which must be worth less to thee than thy head, against a thousand of mine,
and, whereas thou makest no stipulation as to time, I will bind myself to go
to Genoa, and within three months from my departure hence to have had my
pleasure of thy wife, and in witness thereof to bring back with me, of the
things which she prizes most dearly, evidence of her compliance so weighty
and conclusive that thou thyself shalt admit the fact; nor do I require
ought of thee but that thou pledge thy faith neither to come to Genoa nor to
write word to her of this matter during the said three months." Bernabo
professed himself well content; and though the rest of the company, seeing
that the compact might well have very evil consequences, did all that they
could to frustrate it, yet the two men were now so heated that, against the
will of the others, they set it down fairly in writing, and signed it each
with his own hand. This done, Ambrogiuolo, leaving Bernabo at Paris, posted
with all speed for Genoa. Arrived there, he set to work with great caution;
and having found out the quarter in which the lady resided, he learned in
the course of a few days enough about her habits of life and her character
to know that what Bernabo had told him was rather less than the truth. So,
recognising that his enterprise was hopeless, he cast about for some device
whereby he might cover his defeat; and having got speech of a poor woman,
who was much in the lady's house, as also in her favour, he bribed her
(other means failing) to convey him in a chest, which he had had made for
the purpose, not only into the house but into the bedroom of the lady, whom
the good woman, following Bernabo's instructions, induced to take charge of
it for some days, during which, she said, she would be away.

So the lady suffered the chest to remain in the room; and when the night was
so far spent that Bernabo thought she must be asleep, he opened it with some
tools with which he had provided himself, and stole softly out. There was a
light in the room, so that he was able to form an idea of its situation, to
take note of the pictures and everything else of consequence that it
contained, and to commit the whole to memory. This done, he approached the
bed; and observing that the lady, and a little girl that was with her, were
fast asleep, he gently uncovered her, and saw that nude she was not a whit
less lovely than when dressed: he looked about for some mark that might
serve him as evidence that he had seen her in this state, but found nothing
except a mole, which she had under the left breast, and which was fringed
with a few fair hairs that shone like gold. So beautiful was she that he was
tempted at the hazard of his life to take his place by her side in the bed;
but, remembering what he had heard of her inflexible obduracy in such
affairs, he did not venture; but quietly replaced the bedclothes; and having
passed the best part of the night very much at his ease in her room, he took
from one of the lady's boxes a purse, a gown, a ring and a girdle, and with
these tokens returned to the chest, and locked himself in as before. In this
manner he passed two nights, nor did the lady in the least suspect his
presence. On the third day the good woman came by preconcert to fetch her
chest, and took it back to the place whence she had brought it. So
Ambrogiuolo got out, paid her the stipulated sum, and hied him back with all
speed to Paris, where he arrived within the appointed time. Then, in
presence of the merchants who were witnesses of his altercation with
Bernabo, and the wager to which it had given occasion, he told Bernabo that
he had won the bet, having done what he had boasted that he would do; and in
proof thereof he first of all described the appearance of the room and the
pictures, and then displayed the articles belonging to the lady which he had
brought away with him, averring that she had given them to him. Bernabo
acknowledged the accuracy of his description of the room, and that the
articles did really belong to his wife, but objected that Ambrogiuolo might
have learned characteristic features of the room from one of the servants,
and have come by the things in a similar way, and therefore, unless he had
something more to say, he could not justly claim to have won the bet.
"Verily," rejoined Ambrogiuolo, "this should suffice; but, as thou requirest
that I say somewhat further, I will satisfy thee. I say, then, that Madam
Zinevra, thy wife, has under her left breast a mole of some size, around
which are, perhaps, six hairs of a golden hue." As Bernabo heard this, it
was as if a knife pierced his heart, so poignant was his suffering; and,
though no word escaped him, the complete alteration of his mien bore
unmistakable witness to the truth of Ambrogiuolo's words. After a while he
said:--"Gentlemen, 'tis even as Ambrogiuolo says; he has won the bet; he has
but to come when he will, and he shall be paid." And so the very next day
Ambrogiuolo was paid in full, and Bernabo, intent on wreaking vengeance on
his wife, left Paris and set his face towards Genoa. He had no mind,
however, to go home, and accordingly halted at an estate which he had some
twenty miles from the city, whither he sent forward a servant, in whom he
reposed much trust, with two horses and a letter advising the lady of his
return, and bidding her come out to meet him. At the same time he gave the
servant secret instructions to choose some convenient place, and ruthlessly
put the lady to death, and so return to him. On his arrival at Genoa the
servant delivered his message and the letter to the lady, who received him
with great cheer, and next morning got on horseback and set forth with him
for her husband's estate. So they rode on, talking of divers matters, until
they came to a deep gorge, very lonely, and shut in by high rocks and trees.
The servant, deeming this just the place in which he might without risk of
discovery fulfil his lord's behest, whipped out a knife, and seizing the
lady by the arm, said:--"Madam, commend your soul to God, for here must end
at once your journey and your life." Terror-stricken by what she saw and
heard, the lady cried out:--"Mercy for God's sake; before thou slay me, tell
me at least wherein I have wronged thee, that thou art thus minded to put me
to death." "Madam," said the servant, "me you have in no wise wronged; but
your husband--how you may have wronged him I know not--charged me shew you
no mercy, but to slay you on this journey, and threatened to have me hanged
by the neck, should I not do so. You know well how bound I am to him, and
that I may not disobey any of his commands: God knows I pity you, but yet I
can no otherwise." Whereat the lady burst into tears, saying:--"Mercy for
God's sake; make not thyself the murderer of one that has done thee no
wrong, at the behest of another. The all-seeing God knows that I never did
aught to merit such requital at my husband's hands. But enough of this for
the present: there is a way in which thou canst serve at once God and thy
master and myself, if thou wilt do as I bid thee: take, then, these clothes
of mine and give me in exchange just thy doublet and a hood; and carry the
clothes with thee to my lord and thine, and tell him that thou hast slain
me; and I swear to thee by the life which I shall have received at thy
hands, that I will get me gone, and there abide whence news of me shall
never reach either him or thee or these parts." The servant, being loath to
put her to death, soon yielded to pity; and so he took her clothes, allowing
her to retain a little money that she had, and gave her one of his worser
doublets and a hood; then, praying her to depart the country, he left her
afoot in the gorge, and returned to his master, whom he gave to understand
that he had not only carried out his orders but had left the lady's body a
prey to wolves. Bernabo after a while returned to Genoa, where, the supposed
murder being bruited abroad, he was severely censured.

Alone and disconsolate, the lady, as night fell, disguised herself as best
she could, and hied her to a neighbouring village, where, having procured
what was needful from an old woman, she shortened the doublet and fitted it
to her figure, converted her chemise into a pair of breeches, cut her hair
close, and, in short, completely disguised herself as a sailor. She then
made her way to the coast, where by chance she encountered a Catalan
gentleman, by name Segner Encararch, who had landed from one of his ships,
which lay in the offing, to recreate himself at Alba, where there was a
fountain. So she made overture to him of her services, was engaged and taken
aboard the ship, assuming the name Sicurano da Finale. The gentleman put her
in better trim as to clothes, and found her so apt and handy at service that
he was exceeding well pleased with her.

Not long afterwards the Catalan sailed one of his carracks to Alexandria. He
took with him some peregrine falcons, which he presented to the Soldan, who
feasted him once or twice; and noting with approbation the behaviour of
Sicurano, who always attended his master, he craved him of the Catalan,
which request the Catalan reluctantly granted. Sicurano proved so apt for
his new service that he was soon as high in grace and favour with the Soldan
as he had been with the Catalan. Wherefore, when the time of year came at
which there was wont to be held at Acre, then under the Soldan's sway, a
great fair, much frequented by merchants, Christian and Saracen alike, and
to which, for the security of the merchants and their goods, the Soldan
always sent one of his great officers of state with other officers and a
guard to attend upon them, he determined to send Sicurano, who by this time
knew the language very well. So Sicurano was sent to Acre as governor and
captain of the guard for the protection of the merchants and merchandise.
Arrived there, he bestirred himself with great zeal in all matters
appertaining to his office; and as he went his rounds of inspection, he
espied among the merchants not a few from Italy, Sicilians, Pisans, Genoese,
Venetians, and so forth, with whom he consorted the more readily because
they reminded him of his native land. And so it befell that, alighting once
at a shop belonging to some Venetian merchants, he saw there among other
trinkets a purse and a girdle, which he forthwith recognised as having once
been his own. Concealing his surprise, he blandly asked whose they were, and
if they were for sale. He was answered by Ambrogiuolo da Piacenza, who had
come thither with much merchandise aboard a Venetian ship, and hearing that
the captain of the guard was asking about the ownership of the purse and
girdle, came forward, and said with a smile:--"The things are mine, Sir, and
I am not disposed to sell them, but, if they take your fancy, I will gladly
give them to you." Observing the smile, Sicurano misdoubted that something
had escaped him by which Ambrogiuolo had recognised him; but he answered
with a composed air:--"Thou dost smile, perchance, to see me, a soldier,
come asking about this woman's gear?" "Not so, Sir," returned Ambrogiuolo;
"I smile to think of the manner in which I came by it." "And pray," said
Sicurano, "if thou hast no reason to conceal it, tell me, in God's name, how
thou didst come by the things." " Why, Sir," said Ambrogiuolo, "they were
given me by a Genoese lady, with whom I once spent a night, Madam Zinevra by
name, wife of Bernabo Lomellin, who prayed me to keep them as a token of her
love. I smiled just now to think of the folly of Bernabo, who was so mad as
to stake five thousand florins of gold, against my thousand that I could not
bring his wife to surrender to me; which I did. I won the bet; and he, who
should rather have been punished for his insensate folly, than she for doing
what all women do, had her put to death, as I afterwards gathered, on his
way back from Paris to Genoa."

Ambrogiuolo had not done speaking before Sicurano had discerned in him the
evident cause of her husband's animosity against her, and all her woe, and
had made up her mind that he should not escape with impunity. She therefore
feigned to be much interested by this story, consorted frequently and very
familiarly with Ambrogiuolo, and insidiously captured his confidence,
insomuch that at her suggestion, when the fair was done, he, taking with him
all his wares, accompanied her to Alexandria, where she provided him with a
shop, and put no little of her own money in his hands; so that he, finding
it very profitable, was glad enough to stay. Anxious to make her innocence
manifest to Bernabo, Sicurano did not rest until, with the help of some
great Genoese merchants that were in Alexandria, she had devised an
expedient to draw him thither. Her plan succeeded; Bernabo arrived; and, as
he was now very poor, she privily arranged that he should be entertained by
one of her friends until occasion should serve to carry out her design. She
had already induced Ambrogiuolo to tell his story to the Soldan, and the
Soldan to interest himself in the matter. So Bernabo being come, and further
delay inexpedient, she seized her opportunity, and persuaded the Soldan to
cite Ambrogiuolo and Bernabo before him, that in Bernabo's presence
Ambrogiuolo might be examined of his boast touching Bernabo's wife, and the
truth hereof, if not to be had from him by gentle means, be elicited by
torture. So the Soldan, having Ambrogiuolo and Bernabo before him, amid a
great concourse of his people questioned Ambrogiuolo of the five thousand
florins of gold that he had won from Bernabo, and sternly bade him tell the
truth. Still more harsh was the aspect of Sicurano, in whom Ambrogiuolo had
placed his chief reliance, but who now threatened him with the direst
torments if the truth were not forthcoming. Thus hard bested on this side
and on that, and in a manner coerced, Ambrogiuolo, thinking he had but to
refund, in presence of Bernabo and many others accurately recounted the
affair as it had happened. When he had done, Sicurano, as minister of the
Soldan for the time being, turned to Bernabo and said:--"And thy wife, thus
falsely accused, what treatment did she meet with at thy hands?"
"Mortified," said Bernabo, "by the loss of my money, and the dishonour which
I deemed to have been done me by my wife, I was so overcome by wrath that I
had her put to death by one of my servants, who brought me word that her
corpse had been instantly devoured by a pack of wolves."

Albeit the Soldan had heard and understood all that had passed, yet he did
not as yet apprehend the object for which Sicurano had pursued the
investigation. Wherefore Sicurano thus addressed him:--"My lord, what cause
this good lady has to boast of her lover and her husband you have now
abundant means of judging; seeing that the lover at one and the same time
despoils her of her honour, blasting her fair fame with slanderous
accusations, and ruins her husband; who, more prompt to trust the falsehood
of another than the verity of which his own long experience should have
assured him, devotes her to death and the devouring wolves; and, moreover,
such is the regard, such the love which both bear her that, though both
tarry a long time with her, neither recognises her. However, that you may
know full well what chastisements they have severally deserved, I will now
cause her to appear in your presence and theirs, provided you, of your
especial grace, be pleased to punish the deceiver and pardon the deceived."
The Soldan, being minded in this matter to defer entirely to Sicurano,
answered that he was well content, and bade produce the lady. Bernabo, who
had firmly believed that she was dead, was lost in wonder; likewise
Ambrogiuolo, who now divined his evil plight, and dreading something worse
than the disbursement of money, knew not whether to expect the lady's advent
with fear or with hope. His suspense was not of long duration; for, as soon
as the Soldan signified his assent, Sicurano, weeping, threw herself on her
knees at his feet, and discarding the tones, as she would fain have divested
herself of the outward semblance, of a man, said:--"My lord, that forlorn,
hapless Zinevra am I, falsely and foully slandered by this traitor
Ambrogiuolo, and by my cruel and unjust husband delivered over to his
servant to slaughter and cast out as a prey to the wolves; for which cause I
have now for six years been a wanderer on the face of the earth in the guise
of a man." Then rending her robes in front and baring her breast, she made
it manifest to the Soldan and all others who were present, that she was
indeed a woman; then turning to Ambrogiuolo she haughtily challenged him to
say when she had ever lain with him, as he had boasted. Ambrogiuolo said
never a word, for he now recognised her, and it was as if shame had reft
from him the power of speech. The Soldan, who had never doubted that
Sicurano was a man, was so wonder-struck by what he saw and heard that at
times he thought it must be all a dream. But, as wonder gave place to
conviction of the truth, he extolled in the amplest terms the constancy and
virtue and seemliness with which Zinevra, erstwhile Sicurano, had ordered
her life. He then directed that she should be most nobly arrayed in the garb
of her sex and surrounded by a bevy of ladies. Mindful of her intercession,
he granted to Bernabo the life which he had forfeited; and she, when Bernabo
threw himself at her feet and wept and craved her pardon, raised him,
unworthy though he was, to his feet and generously forgave him, and tenderly
embraced him as her husband. Ambrogiuolo the Soldan commanded to be bound to
a stake, that his bare flesh, anointed with honey, might be exposed to the
sun on one of the heights of the city, there to remain until it should fall
to pieces of its own accord: and so 'twas done. He then decreed that the
lady should have the traitor's estate, which was worth not less but rather
more than ten thousand doubloons; whereto he added, in jewels and vessels of
gold and silver and in money, the equivalent of upwards of other ten
thousand doubloons, having first entertained her and her husband with most
magnificent and ceremonious cheer, accordant with the lady's worth. Which
done, he placed a ship at their disposal, and gave them leave to return to
Genoa at their pleasure. So to Genoa they returned very rich and happy, and
were received with all honour, especially Madam Zinevra, whom all the
citizens had believed to be dead, and whom thenceforth, so long as she
lived, they held of great consequence and excellency. As for Ambrogiuolo,
the very same day that he was bound to the stake, the honey with which his
body was anointed attracted such swarms of flies, wasps and gadflies,
wherewith that country abounds, that not only was his life sucked from him
but his very bones were completely denuded of flesh; in which state, hanging
by the sinews, they remained a long time undisturbed, for a sign and a
testimony of his baseness to all that passed by. And so the deceived had the
better of the deceiver.


Paganino da Monaco carries off the wife of Messer Ricciardo di Chinzica,
who, having learned where she is, goes to Paganino and in a friendly manner
asks him to restore her. He consents, provided she be willing. She refuses
to go back with her husband. Messer Ricciardo dies, and she marries

Their queen's story, by its beauty, elicited hearty commendation from all
the honourable company, and most especially from Dioneo, with whom it now
rested to conclude the day's narration. Again and again he renewed his
eulogy of the queen's story; and then began on this wise:--

Fair ladies, there is that in the queen's story which has caused me to
change my purpose, and substitute another story for that which I had meant
to tell: I refer to the insensate folly of Bernabo (well though it was with
him in the end) and of all others who delude themselves, as he seemed to do,
with the vain imagination that, while they go about the world, taking their
pleasure now of this, now of the other woman, their wives, left at home,
suffer not their hands to stray from their girdles; as if we who are born of
them and bred among them, could be ignorant of the bent of their desires.
Wherefore, by my story I purpose at one and the same time to shew you how
great is the folly of all such, and how much greater is the folly of those
who, deeming themselves mightier than nature, think by sophistical arguments
to bring that to pass which is beyond their power, and strive might and main
to conform others to their own pattern, however little the nature of the
latter may brook such treatment. Know then that there was in Pisa a judge,
better endowed with mental than with physical vigour, by name Messer
Ricciardo di Chinzica, who, being minded to take a wife, and thinking,
perhaps, to satisfy her by the same resources which served him for his
studies, was to be suited with none that had not both youth and beauty,
qualities which he would rather have eschewed, if he had known how to give
himself as good counsel as he gave to others. However, being very rich, he
had his desire. Messer Lotto Gualandi gave him in marriage one of his
daughters, Bartolomea by name, a maid as fair and fit for amorous dalliance
as any in Pisa, though few maids be there that do not shew as spotted
lizards. The judge brought her home with all pomp and ceremony, and had a
brave and lordly wedding; but in the essay which he made the very first
night to serve her so as to consummate the marriage he made a false move,
and drew the game much to his own disadvantage; for next morning his lean,
withered and scarce animate frame was only to be re-quickened by draughts of
vernaccia,(1) artificial restoratives and the like remedies. So, taking a
more sober estimate of his powers than he had been wont, the worthy judge
began to give his wife lessons from a calendar, which might have served as a
horn-book, and perhaps had been put together at Ravenna(2) inasmuch as,
according to his shewing, there was not a day in the year but was sacred,
not to one saint only, but to many; in honour of whom for divers reasons it
behoved men and women to abstain from carnal intercourse; whereto he added
fast-days, Ember-days, vigils of Apostles and other saints, Friday,
Saturday, Sunday, the whole of Lent, certain lunar mansions, and many other
exceptions, arguing perchance, that the practice of men with women abed
should have its times of vacation no less than the administration of the
law. In this method, which caused the lady grievous dumps, he long
persisted, hardly touching her once a month, and observing her closely, lest
another should give her to know working-days, as he had taught her holidays.

Now it so befell that, one hot season, Messer Ricciardo thought he would
like to visit a very beautiful estate which he had near Monte Nero, there to
take the air and recreate himself for some days, and thither accordingly he
went with his fair lady. While there, to amuse her, he arranged for a day's
fishing; and so, he in one boat with the fishermen, and she in another with
other ladies, they put out to watch the sport, which they found so
delightsome, that almost before they knew where they were they were some
miles out to sea. And while they were thus engrossed with the sport, a
galliot of Paganino da Mare, a very famous corsair of those days, hove in
sight and bore down upon the boats, and, for all the speed they made, came
up with that in which were the ladies; and on sight of the fair lady
Paganino, regardless of all else, bore her off to his galliot before the
very eyes of Messer Ricciardo, who was by this time ashore, and forthwith
was gone. The chagrin of the judge, who was jealous of the very air, may
readily be imagined. But 'twas to no purpose that, both at Pisa and
elsewhere, he moaned and groaned over the wickedness of the corsairs, for he
knew neither by whom his wife had been abducted, nor whither she had been
taken. Paganino, meanwhile, deemed himself lucky to have gotten so beautiful
a prize; and being unmarried, he was minded never to part with her, and
addressed himself by soft words to soothe the sorrow which kept her in a
flood of tears. Finding words of little avail, he at night passed--the more
readily that the calendar had slipped from his girdle, and all feasts and
holidays from his mind--to acts of love, and on this wise administered
consolation so effective that before they were come to Monaco she had
completely forgotten the judge and his canons, and had begun to live with
Paganino as merrily as might be. So he brought her to Monaco, where, besides
the daily and nightly solace which he gave her, he honourably entreated her
as his wife.

Not long afterwards Messer Ricciardo coming to know where his wife was, and
being most ardently desirous to have her back, and thinking none but he
would understand exactly what to do in the circumstances, determined to go
and fetch her himself, being prepared to spend any sum of money that might
be demanded by way of ransom. So he took ship, and being come to Monaco, he
both saw her and was seen by her; which news she communicated to Paganino in
the evening, and told him how she was minded to behave. Next morning Messer
Ricciardo, encountering Paganino, made up to him; and soon assumed a very
familiar and friendly air, while Paganino pretended not to know him, being
on his guard to see what he would be at. So Messer Ricciardo, as soon as he
deemed the time ripe, as best and most delicately he was able, disclosed to
Paganino the business on which he had come, praying him to take whatever in
the way of ransom he chose and restore him the lady. Paganino replied
cheerily:--"Right glad I am to see you here, Sir; and briefly thus I answer
you:--True it is that I have here a young woman; whether she be your wife or
another man's, I know not, for you are none of my acquaintance, nor is she,
except for the short time that she has been with me. If, as you say, you are
her husband, why, as you seem to me to be a pleasant gentleman, I will even
take you to her, and I doubt not she will know you well; if she says that it
is even as you say, and is minded to go with you, you shall give me just
what you like by way of ransom, so pleasant have I found you; otherwise
'twill be churlish in you to think of taking her from me, who am a young
man, and as fit to keep a woman as another, and moreover never knew any
woman so agreeable." "My wife," said Ricciardo, "she is beyond all manner of
doubt, as thou shalt see; for so soon as thou bringest me to her, she will
throw her arms about my neck; wherefore as thou art minded, even so be it; I
ask no more." "Go we then," said Paganino; and forthwith they went into the
house, and Paganino sent for the lady while they waited in one of the halls.
By and by she entered from one of the adjoining rooms all trim and tricked
out, and advanced to the place where Paganino and Messer Ricciardo were
standing, but never a word did she vouchsafe to her husband, any more than
if he had been some stranger whom Paganino had brought into the house.
Whereat the judge was mightily amazed, having expected to be greeted by her
with the heartiest of cheer, and began to ruminate thus:--Perhaps I am so
changed by the melancholy and prolonged heartache, to which I have been a
prey since I lost her, that she does not recognise me. Wherefore he said:--
"Madam, cause enough have I to rue it that I took thee a fishing, for never
yet was known such grief as has been mine since I lost thee; and now it
seems as if thou dost not recognise me, so scant of courtesy is thy
greeting. Seest thou not that I am thy Messer Ricciardo, come hither
prepared to pay whatever this gentleman, in whose house we are, may demand,
that I may have thee back and take thee away with me: and he is so good as
to surrender thee on my own terms?" The lady turned to him with a slight
smile, and said:--"Is it to me you speak, Sir? Bethink you that you may have
mistaken me for another, for I, for my part, do not remember ever to have
seen you." "Nay," said Messer Ricciardo, "but bethink thee what thou sayst;
scan me closely; and if thou wilt but search thy memory, thou wilt find that
I am thy Ricciardo di Chinzica." "Your pardon, Sir," answered the lady,
"'tis not, perhaps, as seemly for me, as you imagine, to gaze long upon you;
but I have gazed long enough to know that I never saw you before." Messer
Ricciardo supposed that she so spoke for fear of Paganino, in whose presence
she durst not acknowledge that she knew him: so, after a while, he craved as
a favour of Paganino that he might speak with her in a room alone. Which
request Paganino granted, so only that he did not kiss her against her will.
He then bade the lady go with Messer Ricciardo into a room apart, and hear
what he had to say, and give him such answer as she deemed meet. So the lady
and Messer Ricciardo went together into a room alone, and sate down, and
Messer Ricciardo began on this wise:--"Ah! dear heart of me, sweet soul of
me, hope of me, dost not recognise thy Ricciardo that loves thee better than
himself? how comes it thus to pass? am I then so changed? Ah! goodly eye of
me, do but look on me a little." Whereat the lady burst into a laugh, and
interrupting him, said:--"Rest assured that my memory is not so short but
that I know you for what you are, my husband, Messer Ricciardo di Chinzica;
but far enough you shewed yourself to be, while I was with you, from knowing
me for what I was, young, lusty, lively; which, had you been the wise man
you would fain be reputed, you would not have ignored, nor by consequence
that which, besides food and clothing, it behoves men to give young ladies,
albeit for shame they demand it not; which in what sort you gave, you know.
You should not have taken a wife if she was to be less to you than the study
of the law, albeit 'twas never as a judge that I regarded you, but rather as
a bellman of encaenia and saints' days, so well you knew them all, and fasts
and vigils. And I tell you that, had you imposed the observance of as many
saints' days on the labourers that till your lands as on yourself who had
but my little plot to till, you would never have harvested a single grain of
corn. God in His mercy, having regard unto my youth, has caused me to fall
in with this gentleman, with whom I am much closeted in this room, where
nought is known of feasts, such feasts, I mean, as you, more devoted to the
service of God than to the service of ladies, were wont to observe in such
profusion; nor was this threshold ever crossed by Saturday or Friday or
vigil or Ember-days or Lent, that is so long; rather here we are at work day
and night, threshing the wool, and well I know how featly it went when the
matin bell last sounded. Wherefore with him I mean to stay, and to work
while I am young, and postpone the observance of feasts and times of
indulgence and fasts until I am old: so get you hence, and good luck go with
you, but depart with what speed you may, and observe as many feasts as you
like, so I be not with you."

The pain with which Messer Ricciardo followed this outburst was more than he
could bear, and when she had done, he exclaimed:--"Ah! sweet soul of me,
what words are these that thou utterest? Hast thou no care for thy parents'
honour and thine own? Wilt thou remain here to be this man's harlot, and to
live in mortal sin, rather than live with me at Pisa as my wife? Why, when
he is tired of thee, he will cast thee out to thy most grievous dishonour. I
will ever cherish thee, and ever, will I nill I, thou wilt be the mistress
of my house. Wouldst thou, to gratify this unbridled and unseemly passion,
part at once with thy honour and with me, who love thee more dearly than my
very life? Ah! cherished hope of me, say not so again: make up thy mind to
come with me. As I now know thy bent, I will henceforth constrain myself to
pleasure thee: wherefore, sweet my treasure, think better of it, and come
with me, who have never known a happy hour since thou wert reft from me."
The lady answered:--"I expect not, nor is it possible, that another should
be more tender of my honour than I am myself. Were my parents so, when they
gave me to you? I trow not; nor mean I to be more tender of their honour now
than they were then of mine. And if now I live in mortar sin, I will ever
abide there until it be pestle sin:(3) concern yourself no further on my
account. Moreover, let me tell you, that, whereas at Pisa 'twas as if I were
your harlot, seeing that the planets in conjunction according to lunar
mansion and geometric square intervened between you and me, here with
Paganino I deem myself a wife, for he holds me in his arms all night long
and hugs and bites me, and how he serves me, God be my witness. Ah! but you
say you will constrain yourself to serve me: to what end? to do it on the
third essay, and raise it by stroke of baton? I doubt not you are become a
perfect knight since last I saw you. Begone, and constrain yourself to live;
for here, methinks, your tenure is but precarious, so hectic and wasted is
your appearance. Nay more; I tell you this, that, should Paganino desert me
(which he does not seem disposed to do so long as I am willing to stay with
him), never will I return to your house, where for one while I staid to my
most grievous loss and prejudice, but will seek my commodity elsewhere, than
with one from whose whole body I could not wring a single cupful of sap. So,
again, I tell you that here is neither feast nor vigil; wherefore here I
mean to abide; and you, get you gone, in God's name with what speed you may,
lest I raise the cry that you threaten to violate me."

Messer Ricciardo felt himself hard bested, but he could not but recognise
that, worn out as he was, he had been foolish to take a young wife; so sad
and woebegone he quitted the room, and, after expending on Paganino a wealth
of words which signified nothing, he at last gave up his bootless
enterprise, and leaving the lady to her own devices, returned to Pisa; where
for very grief he lapsed into such utter imbecility that, when he was met by
any with greeting or question in the street, he made no other answer than
"the evil hole brooks no holiday," and soon afterwards died. Which when
Paganino learned, being well assured of the love the lady bore him, he made
her his lawful wife; and so, keeping neither feast nor vigil nor Lent, they
worked as hard as their legs permitted, and had a good time. Wherefore, dear
my ladies, I am of opinion that Messer Bernabo in his altercation with
Ambrogiuolo rode the goat downhill.(4)

(1) A strong white wine.
(2) The saying went, that owing to the multitude of churches at Ravenna
every day was there a saint's day.
(3) A poor jeu de mots, mortaio, mortar, being substituted for mortale.
(4) I.e. argued preposterously, the goat being the last animal to carry a
rider comfortably downhill.

This story provoked so much laughter that the jaws of every one in the
company ached; and all the ladies by common consent acknowledged that Dioneo
was right, and pronounced Bernabo a blockhead. But when the story was ended
and the laughter had subsided, the queen, observing that the hour was now
late, and that with the completion of the day's story-telling the end of her
sovereignty was come, followed the example of her predecessor, and took off
her wreath and set it on Neifile's brow, saying with gladsome mien, "Now,
dear gossip, thine be the sovereignty of this little people;" and so she
resumed her seat. Neifile coloured somewhat to receive such honour, shewing
of aspect even as the fresh-blown rose of April or May in the radiance of
the dawn, her eyes rather downcast, and glowing with love's fire like the
morning-star. But when the respectful murmur, by which the rest of the
company gave blithe token of the favour in which they held their queen, was
hushed, and her courage revived, she raised herself somewhat more in her
seat than she was wont, and thus spoke:--"As so it is that I am your queen,
I purpose not to depart from the usage observed by my predecessors, whose
rule has commanded not only your obedience but your approbation. I will
therefore in few words explain to you the course which, if it commend itself
to your wisdom, we will follow. To-morrow, you know, is Friday, and the next
day Saturday, days which most folk find somewhat wearisome by reason of the
viands which are then customary, to say nothing of the reverence in which
Friday is meet to be held, seeing that 'twas on that day that He who died
for us bore His passion; wherefore 'twould be in my judgment both right and
very seemly, if, in honour of God, we then bade story-telling give place to
prayer. On Saturday ladies are wont to wash the head, and rid their persons
of whatever of dust or other soilure they may have gathered by the labours
of the past week; not a few, likewise, are wont to practise abstinence for
devotion to the Virgin Mother of the Son of God, and to honour the
approaching Sunday by an entire surcease from work. Wherefore, as we cannot
then completely carry out our plan of life, we shall, I think, do well to
intermit our story-telling on that day also. We shall then have been here
four days; and lest we should be surprised by new-comers, I deem it
expedient that we shift our quarters, and I have already taken thought for
our next place of sojourn. Where, being arrived on Sunday, we will assemble
after our sleep; and, whereas to-day our discourse has had an ample field to
range in, I propose, both because you will thereby have more time for
thought, and it will be best to set some limits to the license of our
story-telling, that of the many diversities of Fortune's handiwork we make
one our theme, whereof I have also made choice, to wit, the luck of such as
have painfully acquired some much-coveted thing, or having lost, have
recovered it. Whereon let each meditate some matter, which to tell may be
profitable or at least delectable to the company, saving always Dioneo's
privilege." All applauded the queen's speech and plan, to which, therefore,
it was decided to give effect. Thereupon the queen called her seneschal,
told him where to place the tables that evening, and then explained to him
all that he had to do during the time of her sovereignty. This done, she
rose with her train, and gave leave to all to take their pleasure as to each
might seem best. So the ladies and the men hied them away to a little
garden, where they diverted themselves a while; then supper-time being come,
they supped with all gay and festal cheer. When they were risen from the
table, Emilia, at the queen's command, led the dance, while Pampinea, the
other ladies responding, sang the ensuing song.

Shall any lady sing, if I not sing,
I to whom Love did full contentment bring?

Come hither, Love, thou cause of all my joy,
Of all my hope, and all its sequel blest,
And with me tune the lay,
No more to sighs and bitter past annoy,
That now but serve to lend thy bliss more zest;
But to that fire's clear ray,
Wherewith enwrapt I blithely live and gay,
Thee as my God for ever worshipping.

'Twas thou, O Love, didst set before mine eyes,
When first thy fire my soul did penetrate,
A youth to be my fere,
So fair, so fit for deeds of high emprise,
That ne'er another shall be found more great,
Nay, nor, I ween, his peer:
Such flame he kindled that my heart's full cheer
I now pour out in chant with thee, my King.

And that wherein I most delight is this,
That as I love him, so he loveth me:
So thank thee, Love, I must.
For whatsoe'er this world can yield of bliss
Is mine, and in the next at peace to be
I hope through that full trust
I place in him. And thou, O God, that dost
It see, wilt grant of joy thy plenishing.

Some other songs and dances followed, to the accompaniment of divers sorts
of music; after which, the queen deeming it time to go to rest, all,
following in the wake of the torches, sought their several chambers. The
next two days they devoted to the duties to which the queen had adverted,
looking forward to the Sunday with eager expectancy.

Endeth here the second day of the Decameron, beginneth the third, in which,
under the rule of Neifile, discourse is had of the fortune of such as have
painfully acquired some much-coveted thing, or, having lost, have recovered

The dawn of Sunday was already changing from vermilion to orange, as the sun
hasted to the horizon, when the queen rose and roused all the company. The
seneschal had early sent forward to their next place of sojourn ample store
of things meet with folk to make all things ready, and now seeing the queen
on the road, and the decampment, as it were, begun, he hastily completed the
equipment of the baggage-train, and set off therewith, attended by the rest
of the servants, in rear of the ladies and gentlemen. So, to the chant of,
perhaps, a score of nightingales and other birds, the queen, her ladies and
the three young men trooping beside or after her, paced leisurely westward
by a path little frequented and overgrown with herbage and flowers, which,
as they caught the sunlight, began one and all to unfold their petals. So
fared she on with her train, while the quirk and the jest and the laugh
passed from mouth to mouth; nor had they completed more than two thousand
paces when, well before half tierce,(1) they arrived at a palace most fair
and sumptuous, which stood out somewhat from the plain, being situate upon a
low eminence. On entering, they first traversed its great halls and dainty
chambers furnished throughout with all brave and meet appointments; and
finding all most commendable, they reputed its lord a magnifico. Then
descending, they surveyed its spacious and cheerful court, its vaults of
excellent wines and copious springs of most cool water, and found it still
more commendable. After which, being fain of rest, they sat them down in a
gallery which commanded the court, and was close imbosked with leafage and
such flowers as the season afforded, and thither the discreet seneschal
brought comfits and wines most choice and excellent, wherewith they were
refreshed. Whereupon they hied them to a walled garden adjoining the palace;
which, the gate being opened, they entered, and wonder-struck by the beauty
of the whole passed on to examine more attentively the several parts. It was
bordered and traversed in many parts by alleys, each very wide and straight
as an arrow and roofed in with trellis of vines, which gave good promise of
bearing clusters that year, and, being all in flower, dispersed such
fragrance throughout the garden as blended with that exhaled by many another
plant that grew therein made the garden seem redolent of all the spices that
ever grew in the East. The sides of the alleys were all, as it were, walled
in with roses white and red and jasmine; insomuch that there was no part of
the garden but one might walk there not merely in the morning but at high
noon in grateful shade and fragrance, completely screened from the sun. As
for the plants that were in the garden, 'twere long to enumerate them, to
specify their sorts, to describe the order of their arrangement; enough, in
brief, that there was abundance of every rarer species that our climate
allows. In the middle of the garden, a thing not less but much more to be
commended than aught else, was a lawn of the finest turf, and so green that
it seemed almost black, pranked with flowers of, perhaps, a thousand sorts,
and girt about with the richest living verdure of orange-trees and cedars,
which shewed not only flowers but fruits both new and old, and were no less
grateful to the smell by their fragrance than to the eye by their shade. In
the middle of the lawn was a basin of whitest marble, graven with marvellous
art; in the centre whereof--whether the spring were natural or artificial I
know not--rose a column supporting a figure which sent forth a jet of water
of such volume and to such an altitude that it fell, not without a delicious
plash, into the basin in quantity amply sufficient to turn a mill-wheel. The
overflow was carried away from the lawn by a hidden conduit, and then,
reemerging, was distributed through tiny channels, very fair and cunningly
contrived, in such sort as to flow round the entire lawn, and by similar
derivative channels to penetrate almost every part of the fair garden,
until, re-uniting at a certain point, it issued thence, and, clear as
crystal, slid down towards the plain, turning by the way two mill-wheels
with extreme velocity to the no small profit of the lord. The aspect of this
garden, its fair order, the plants and the fountain and the rivulets that
flowed from it, so charmed the ladies and the three young men that with one
accord they affirmed that they knew not how it could receive any accession
of beauty, or what other form could be given to Paradise, if it were to be
planted on earth. So, excellently well pleased, they roved about it,
plucking sprays from the trees, and weaving them into the fairest of
garlands, while songsters of, perhaps, a score of different sorts warbled as
if in mutual emulation, when suddenly a sight as fair and delightsome as
novel, which, engrossed by the other beauties of the place, they had
hitherto overlooked, met their eyes. For the garden, they now saw, was
peopled with a host of living creatures, fair and of, perhaps, a hundred
sorts; and they pointed out to one another how here emerged a cony, or there
scampered a hare, or couched a goat, or grazed a fawn, or many another
harmless, all but domesticated, creature roved carelessly seeking his
pleasure at his own sweet will. All which served immensely to reinforce
their already abundant delight. At length, however, they had enough of
wandering about the garden and observing this thing and that: wherefore they
repaired to the beautiful fountain, around which were ranged the tables, and
there, after they had sung half-a-dozen songs and trod some measures, they
sat them down, at the queen's command, to breakfast, which was served with
all celerity and in fair and orderly manner, the viands being both good and
delicate; whereby their spirits rose, and up they got, and betook themselves
again to music and song and dance, and so sped the hours, until, as the heat
increased, the queen deemed it time that whoso was so minded should go to
sleep. Some there were that did so; others were too charmed by the beauty of
the place to think of leaving it; but tarried there, and, while the rest
slept, amused themselves with reading romances or playing at chess or dice.
However, after none, there was a general levee; and, with faces laved and
refreshed with cold water, they gathered by the queen's command upon the
lawn, and, having sat them down in their wonted order by the fountain,
waited for the story-telling to begin upon the theme assigned by the queen.
With this duty the queen first charged Filostrato, who began on this wise.

(1) I.e. midway between prime and tierce, about 7:30 a.m.


Masetto da Lamporecchio feigns to be dumb, and obtains a gardener's place at
a convent of women, who with one accord make haste to lie with him.

Fairest ladies, not a few there are both of men and of women, who are so
foolish as blindly to believe that, so soon as a young woman has been veiled
in white and cowled in black, she ceases to be a woman, and is no more
subject to the cravings proper to her sex, than if, in assuming the garb and
profession of a nun, she had put on the nature of a stone: and if,
perchance, they hear of aught that is counter to this their faith, they are
no less vehement in their censure than if some most heinous and unnatural
crime had been committed; neither bethinking them of themselves, whom
unrestricted liberty avails not to satisfy, nor making due allowance for the
prepotent forces of idleness and solitude. And likewise not a few there are
that blindly believe that, what with the hoe and the spade and coarse fare
and hardship, the carnal propensities are utterly eradicated from the
tillers of the soil, and therewith all nimbleness of wit and understanding.
But how gross is the error of such as so suppose, I, on whom the queen has
laid her commands, am minded, without deviating from the theme prescribed by
her, to make manifest to you by a little story.

In this very country-side of ours there was and yet is a convent of women of
great repute for sanctity--name it I will not, lest I should in some measure
diminish its repute--the nuns being at the time of which I speak but nine in
number, including the abbess, and all young women. Their very beautiful
garden was in charge of a foolish fellow, who, not being content with his
wage, squared accounts with their steward and hied him back to Lamporecchio,
whence he came. Among others who welcomed him home was a young husbandman,
Masetto by name, a stout and hardy fellow, and handsome for a contadino, who
asked him where he had been so long. Nuto, as our good friend was called,
told him. Masetto then asked how he had been employed at the convent, and
Nuto answered:--"I kept their large and beautiful garden in good trim, and,
besides, I sometimes went to the wood to fetch the faggots, I drew water,
and did some other trifling services; but the ladies gave so little wage
that it scarce kept me in shoes. And moreover they are all young, and, I
think, they are one and all possessed of the devil, for 'tis impossible to
do anything to their mind; indeed, when I would be at work in the
kitchen-garden, 'put this here,' would say one, 'put that here,' would say
another, and a third would snatch the hoe from my hand, and say, 'that is
not as it should be'; and so they would worry me until I would give up
working and go out of the garden; so that, what with this thing and that, I
was minded to stay there no more, and so I am come hither. The steward asked
me before I left to send him any one whom on my return I might find fit for
the work, and I promised; but God bless his loins, I shall be at no pains to
find out and send him any one."

As Nuto thus ran on, Masetto was seized by such a desire to be with these
nuns that he quite pined, as he gathered from what Nuto said that his desire
might be gratified. And as that could not be, if he said nothing to Nuto, he
remarked:--"Ah! 'twas well done of thee to come hither. A man to live with
women! he might as well live with so many devils: six times out of seven
they know not themselves what they want." There the conversation ended; but
Masetto began to cast about how he should proceed to get permission to live
with them. He knew that he was quite competent for the services of which
Nuto spoke, and had therefore no fear of failing on that score; but he
doubted he should not be received, because he was too young and
well-favoured. So, after much pondering, he fell into the following train of
thought:--The place is a long way off, and no one there knows me; if I make
believe that I am dumb, doubtless I shall be admitted. Whereupon he made his
mind up, laid a hatchet across his shoulder, and saying not a word to any of
his destination, set forth, intending to present himself at the convent in
the character of a destitute man. Arrived there, he had no sooner entered
than he chanced to encounter the steward in the courtyard, and making signs
to him as dumb folk do, he let him know that of his charity he craved
something to eat, and that, if need were, he would split firewood. The
steward promptly gave him to eat, and then set before him some logs which
Nuto had not been able to split, all which Masetto, who was very strong,
split in a very short time. The steward, having occasion to go to the wood,
took him with him, and there set him at work on the lopping; which done he
placed the ass in front of him, and by signs made him understand that he was
to take the loppings back to the convent. This he did so well that the
steward kept him for some days to do one or two odd jobs. Whereby it so
befell that one day the abbess saw him, and asked the steward who he was.
"Madam," replied the steward, "'tis a poor deaf mute that came here a day or
two ago craving alms, so I have treated him kindly, and have let him make
himself useful in many ways. If he knew how to do the work of the
kitchen-garden and would stay with us, I doubt not we should be well served;
for we have need of him, and he is strong, and would be able for whatever he
might turn his hand to; besides which you would have no cause to be
apprehensive lest he should be cracking his jokes with your young women."
"As I trust in God," said the abbess, "thou sayst sooth; find out if he can
do the garden work, and if he can, do all thou canst to keep him with us;
give him a pair of shoes, an old hood, and speak him well, make much of him,
and let him be well fed." All which the steward promised to do.

Masetto, meanwhile, was close at hand, making as if he were sweeping the
courtyard, and heard all that passed between the abbess and the steward,
whereat he gleefully communed with himself on this wise:--Put me once within
there, and you will see that I will do the work of the kitchen-garden as it
never was done before. So the steward set him to work in the kitchen-garden,
and finding that he knew his business excellently well, made signs to him to
know whether he would stay, and he made answer by signs that he was ready to
do whatever the steward wished. The steward then signified that he was
engaged, told him to take charge of the kitchen-garden, and shewed him what
he had to do there. Then, having other matters to attend to, he went away,
and left him there. Now, as Masetto worked there day by day, the nuns began
to tease him, and make him their butt (as it commonly happens that folk
serve the dumb) and used bad language to him, the worst they could think of,
supposing that he could not understand them, all which passed scarce heeded
by the abbess, who perhaps deemed him as destitute of virility as of speech.
Now it so befell that after a hard day's work he was taking a little rest,
when two young nuns, who were walking in the garden, approached the spot
where he lay, and stopped to look at him, while he pretended to be asleep.
And so the bolder of the two said to the other:--"If I thought thou wouldst
keep the secret, I would tell thee what I have sometimes meditated, and
which thou perhaps mightest also find agreeable." The other replied:--"Speak
thy mind freely and be sure that I will never tell a soul." Whereupon the
bold one began:--"I know not if thou hast ever considered how close we are
kept here, and that within these precincts dare never enter any man, unless
it be the old steward or this mute: and I have often heard from ladies that
have come hither, that all the other sweets that the world has to offer
signify not a jot in comparison of the pleasure that a woman has in
connexion with a man. Whereof I have more than once been minded to make
experiment with this mute, no other man being available. Nor, indeed, could
one find any man in the whole world so meet therefor; seeing that he could
not blab if he would; thou seest that he is but a dull clownish lad, whose
size has increased out of all proportion to his sense; wherefore I would
fain hear what thou hast to say to it." "Alas!" said the other, "what is't
thou sayst? Knowest thou not that we have vowed our virginity to God?" "Oh,"
rejoined the first, "think but how many vows are made to Him all day long,
and never a one performed: and so, for our vow, let Him find another or
others to perform it." "But," said her companion, "suppose that we
conceived, how then?" "Nay but," protested the first, "thou goest about to
imagine evil before it befalls, thee: time enough to think of that when it
comes to pass; there will be a thousand ways to prevent its ever being
known, so only we do not publish it ourselves." Thus reassured, the other
was now the more eager of the two to test the quality of the male human
animal. "Well then," she said, "how shall we go about it?" and was
answered:--"Thou seest 'tis past none; I make no doubt but all the sisters
are asleep, except ourselves; search we through the kitchen-garden, to see
if there be any there, and if there be none, we have but to take him by the
hand and lead him hither to the hut where he takes shelter from the rain;
and then one shall mount guard while the other has him with her inside. He
is such a simpleton that he will do just whatever we bid him." No word of
this conversation escaped Masetto, who, being disposed to obey, hoped for
nothing so much as that one of them should take him by the hand. They,
meanwhile, looked carefully all about them, and satisfied themselves that
they were secure from observation: then she that had broached the subject
came close up to Masetto, and shook him; whereupon he started to his feet.
So she took him by the hand with a blandishing air, to which he replied with
some clownish grins. And then she led him into the hut, where he needed no
pressing to do what she desired of him. Which done, she changed places with
the other, as loyal comradeship required; and Masetto, still keeping up the
pretence of simplicity, did their pleasure. Wherefore before they left, each
must needs make another assay of the mute's powers of riding; and
afterwards, talking the matter over many times, they agreed that it was in
truth not less but even more delightful than they had been given to
understand; and so, as they found convenient opportunity, they continued to
go and disport themselves with the mute.

Now it so chanced that one of their gossips, looking out of the window of
her cell, saw what they did, and imparted it to two others. The three held
counsel together whether they should not denounce the offenders to the
abbess, but soon changed their mind, and came to an understanding with them,
whereby they became partners in Masetto. And in course of time by divers
chances the remaining three nuns also entered the partnership. Last of all
the abbess, still witting nought of these doings, happened one very hot day,
as she walked by herself through the garden, to find Masetto, who now rode
so much by night that he could stand very little fatigue by day, stretched
at full length asleep under the shade of an almond-tree, his person quite
exposed in front by reason that the wind had disarranged his clothes. Which
the lady observing, and knowing that she was alone, fell a prey to the same
appetite to which her nuns had yielded: she aroused Masetto, and took him
with her to her chamber, where, for some days, though the nuns loudly
complained that the gardener no longer came to work in the kitchen-garden,
she kept him, tasting and re-tasting the sweetness of that indulgence which
she was wont to be the first to censure in others. And when at last she had
sent him back from her chamber to his room, she must needs send for him
again and again, and made such exorbitant demands upon him, that Masetto,
not being able to satisfy so many women, bethought him that his part of
mute, should he persist in it, might entail disastrous consequences. So one
night, when he was with the abbess, he cut the tongue-string, and thus broke
silence:--"Madam, I have understood that a cock may very well serve ten
hens, but that ten men are sorely tasked to satisfy a single woman; and here
am I expected to serve nine, a burden quite beyond my power to bear; nay, by
what I have already undergone I am now so reduced that my strength is quite
spent; wherefore either bid me Godspeed, or find some means to make matters
tolerable." Wonder-struck to hear the supposed mute thus speak, the lady
exclaimed:--"What means this? I took thee to be dumb." "And in sooth, Madam,
so was I," said Masetto, "not indeed from my birth, but through an illness
which took from me the power of speech, which only this very night have I
recovered; and so I praise God with all my heart." The lady believed him;
and asked him what he meant by saying that he had nine to serve. Masetto
told her how things stood; whereby she perceived that of all her nuns there
was not any but was much wiser than she; and lest, if Masetto were sent
away, he should give the convent a bad name, she discreetly determined to
arrange matters with the nuns in such sort that he might remain there. So,
the steward having died within the last few days, she assembled all the
nuns; and their and her own past errors being fully avowed, they by common
consent, and with Masetto's concurrence, resolved that the neighbours should
be given to understand that by their prayers and the merits of their patron
saint, Masetto, long mute, had recovered the power of speech; after which
they made him steward, and so ordered matters among themselves that he was
able to endure the burden of their service. In the course of which, though
he procreated not a few little monastics, yet 'twas all managed so
discreetly that no breath of scandal stirred, until after the abbess's
death, by which time Masetto was advanced in years and minded to return home
with the wealth that he had gotten; which he was suffered to do, as soon as
he made his desire known. And so Masetto, who had left Lamporecchio with a
hatchet on his shoulder, returned thither in his old age rich and a father,
having by the wisdom with which he employed his youth, spared himself the
pains and expense of rearing children, and averring that such was the
measure that Christ meted out to the man that set horns on his cap.


A groom lies with the wife of King Agilulf, who learns the fact, keeps his
own counsel, finds out the groom and shears him. The shorn shears all his
fellows, and so comes safe out of the scrape.

Filostrato's story, which the ladies had received now with blushes now with
laughter, being ended, the queen bade Pampinea follow suit. Which behest
Pampinea smilingly obeyed, and thus began:--

Some there are whose indiscretion is such that they must needs evince that
they are fully cognizant of that which it were best they should not know,
and censuring the covert misdeeds of others, augment beyond measure the
disgrace which they would fain diminish. The truth whereof, fair ladies, I
mean to shew you in the contrary case, wherein appears the astuteness of one
that held, perhaps, an even lower place than would have been Masetto's in
the esteem of a doughty king.

Agilulf, King of the Lombards, who like his predecessors made the city of
Pavia in Lombardy the seat of his government, took to wife Theodelinde, the
widow of Authari, likewise King of the Lombards, a lady very fair, wise and
virtuous, but who was unfortunate in her lover. For while the Lombards
prospered in peace under the wise and firm rule of King Agilulf, it so
befell that one of the Queen's grooms, a man born to very low estate, but in
native worth far above his mean office, and moreover not a whit less tall
and goodly of person than the King, became inordinately enamoured of her.
And as, for all his base condition he had sense enough to recognize that his
love was in the last degree presumptuous, he disclosed it to none, nay, he
did not even venture to tell her the tale by the mute eloquence of his eyes.
And albeit he lived without hope that he should ever be able to win her
favour, yet he inwardly gloried that he had fixed his affections in so high
a place; and being all aflame with passion, he shewed himself zealous beyond
any of his comrades to do whatever he thought was likely to please the
Queen. Whereby it came about, that, when the Queen had to take horse, she
would mount the palfrey that he groomed rather than any other; and when she
did so, he deemed himself most highly favoured, and never quitted her
stirrup, esteeming himself happy if he might but touch her clothes. But as
'tis frequently observed that love waxes as hope wanes, so was it with this
poor groom, insomuch that the burden of this great hidden passion,
alleviated by no hope, was most grievous to bear, and from time to time, not
being able to shake it off, he purposed to die. And meditating on the mode,
he was minded that it should be of a kind to make it manifest that he died
for the love which he had borne and bore to the Queen, and also to afford
him an opportunity of trying his fortune whether his desire might in whole
or in part be gratified. He had no thought of speaking to the Queen, nor yet
of declaring his love to her by letter, for he knew that 'twould be vain
either to speak or to write; but he resolved to try to devise some means
whereby he might lie with the Queen; which end might in no other way be
compassed than by contriving to get access to her in her bedroom; which
could only be by passing himself off as the King, who, as he knew, did not
always lie with her. Wherefore, that he might observe the carriage and dress
of the King as he passed to her room, he contrived to conceal himself for
several nights in a great hall of the King's palace which separated the
King's room from that of the Queen: and on one of these nights he saw the
King issue from his room, wrapped in a great mantle, with a lighted torch in
one hand and a wand in the other, and cross the hall, and, saying nothing,
tap the door of the Queen's room with the wand once or twice; whereupon the
door was at once opened and the torch taken from his hand. Having observed
the King thus go and return, and being bent on doing likewise, he found
means to come by a mantle like that which he had seen the King wear, and
also a torch and a wand: he then took a warm bath, and having thoroughly
cleansed himself, that the smell of the foul straw might not offend the
lady, or discover to her the deceit, he in this guise concealed himself as
he was wont in the great hall. He waited only until all were asleep, and
then, deeming the time come to accomplish his purpose, or by his presumption
clear a way to the death which he coveted, he struck a light with the flint
and steel which he had brought with him; and having kindled his torch and
wrapped himself close in his mantle, he went to the door of the Queen's
room, and tapped on it twice with his wand. The door was opened by a very
drowsy chambermaid, who took the torch and put it out of sight; whereupon
without a word he passed within the curtain, laid aside the mantle, and got
into the bed where the Queen lay asleep. Then, taking her in his arms and
straining her to him with ardour, making as if he were moody, because he
knew that, when the King was in such a frame, he would never hear aught, in
such wise, without word said either on his part or on hers, he had more than
once carnal cognizance of the Queen. Loath indeed was he to leave her, but,
fearing lest by too long tarrying his achieved delight might be converted
into woe, he rose, resumed the mantle and the light, and leaving the room
without a word, returned with all speed to his bed. He was hardly there when
the King got up and entered the Queen's room; whereat she wondered not a
little; but, reassured by the gladsome greeting which he gave her as he got
into bed, she said:--"My lord, what a surprise is this to-night! 'Twas but
now you left me after an unwonted measure of enjoyment, and do you now
return so soon? consider what you do." From these words the King at once
inferred that the Queen had been deceived by some one that had counterfeited
his person and carriage; but, at the same time, bethinking himself that, as
neither the Queen nor any other had detected the cheat, 'twas best to leave
her in ignorance, he wisely kept silence. Which many a fool would not have
done, but would have said:--"Nay, 'twas not I that was here. Who was it that
was here? How came it to pass? Who came hither?" Whereby in the sequel he
might have caused the lady needless chagrin, and given her occasion to
desire another such experience as she had had, and so have brought disgrace
upon himself by uttering that, from which, unuttered, no shame could have
resulted. Wherefore, betraying little, either by his mien or by his words,
of the disquietude which he felt, the King replied:--"Madam, seem I such to
you that you cannot suppose that I should have been with you once, and
returned to you immediately afterwards?" "Nay, not so, my lord," returned
the lady, "but none the less I pray you to look to your health." Then said
the King:--"And I am minded to take your advice; wherefore, without giving
you further trouble I will leave you." So, angered and incensed beyond
measure by the trick which, he saw, had been played upon him, he resumed his
mantle and quitted the room with the intention of privily detecting the
offender, deeming that he must belong to the palace, and that, whoever he
might be, he could not have quitted it. So, taking with him a small lantern
which shewed only a glimmer of light, he went into the dormitory which was
over the palace-stables and was of great length, insomuch that well-nigh all
the men-servants slept there in divers beds, and arguing that, by whomsoever
that of which the Queen spoke was done, his heart and pulse could not after
such a strain as yet have ceased to throb, he began cautiously with one of
the head-grooms, and so went from bed to bed feeling at the heart of each
man to see if it was thumping. All were asleep, save only he that had been
with the Queen, who, seeing the King come, and guessing what he sought to
discover, began to be mightily afraid, insomuch that to the agitation which
his late exertion had communicated to his heart, terror now added one yet
more violent; nor did he doubt that, should the King perceive it, he would
kill him. Divers alternatives of action thronged his mind; but at last,
observing that the King was unarmed, he resolved to make as if he were
asleep, and wait to see what the King would do. So, having tried many and
found none that he deemed the culprit, the King came at last to the culprit
himself, and marking the thumping of his heart, said to himself:--This is
he. But being minded to afford no clue to his ulterior purpose, he did no
more than with a pair of scissors which he had brought with him shear away
on one side of the man's head a portion of his locks, which, as was then the
fashion, he wore very long, that by this token he might recognize him on the
morrow; and having so done, he departed and returned to his room. The groom,
who was fully sensible of what the King had done, and being a shrewd fellow
understood very well to what end he was so marked, got up without a moment's
delay; and, having found a pair of scissors--for, as it chanced, there were
several pairs there belonging to the stables for use in grooming the horse--
he went quietly through the dormitory and in like manner sheared the locks
of each of the sleepers just above the ear; which done without disturbing
any, he went back to bed.

 On the morrow, as soon as the King was risen, and before the gates of the
palace were opened, he summoned all his men-servants to his presence, and,
as they stood bareheaded before him, scanned them closely to see whether the
one whom he had sheared was there; and observing with surprise that the more
part of them were all sheared in the same manner, said to himself:--Of a
surety this fellow, whom I go about to detect, evinces, for all his base
condition, a high degree of sense. Then, recognising that he could not
compass his end without causing a bruit, and not being minded to brave so
great a dishonour in order to be avenged upon so petty an offender, he was
content by a single word of admonition to shew him that his offence had not
escaped notice. Wherefore turning to them all, he said:--"He that did it,
let him do it no more, and get you hence in God's peace." Another would have
put them to the strappado, the question, the torture, and thereby have
brought to light that which one should rather be sedulous to cloak; and
having so brought it to light, would, however complete the retribution which
he exacted, have not lessened but vastly augmented his disgrace, and sullied
the fair fame of his lady. Those who heard the King's parting admonition
wondered, and made much question with one another, what the King might have
meant to convey by it; but 'twas understood by none but him to whom it
referred: who was discreet enough never to reveal the secret as long as the
King lived, or again to stake his life on such a venture.


Under cloak of confession and a most spotless conscience, a lady, enamoured
of a young man, induces a booby friar unwittingly to provide a means to the
entire gratification of her passion.

When Pampinea had done, and several of the company had commended the
hardihood and wariness of the groom, as also the wisdom of the King, the
queen, turning to Filomena, bade her follow suit: wherefore with manner
debonair Filomena thus began:--

The story which I shall tell you is of a trick which was actually played by
a fair lady upon a booby religious, and which every layman should find the
more diverting that these religious, being, for the most part, great
blockheads and men of odd manners and habits, do nevertheless credit
themselves with more ability and knowledge in all kinds than fall to the lot
of the rest of the world; whereas, in truth, they are far inferior, and so,
not being able, like others, to provide their own sustenance, are prompted
by sheer baseness to fly thither for refuge where they may find provender,
like pigs. Which story, sweet my ladies, I shall tell you, not merely that
thereby I may continue the sequence in obedience to the queen's behest, but
also to the end that I may let you see that even the religious, in whom we
in our boundless credulity repose exorbitant faith, may be, and sometimes
are, made--not to say by men--even by some of us women the sport of their
sly wit.

In our city, where wiles do more abound than either love or faith, there
dwelt, not many years ago, a gentlewoman richly endowed (none more so) by
nature with physical charms, as also with gracious manners, high spirit and
fine discernment. Her name I know, but will not disclose it, nor yet that of
any other who figures in this story, because there yet live those who might
take offence thereat, though after all it might well be passed off with a
laugh. High-born and married to an artificer of woollen fabrics, she could
not rid her mind of the disdain with which, by reason of his occupation, she
regarded her husband; for no man, however wealthy, so he were of low
condition, seemed to her worthy to have a gentlewoman to wife; and seeing
that for all his wealth he was fit for nothing better than to devise a
blend, set up a warp, or higgle about yarn with a spinster, she determined
to dispense with his embraces, save so far as she might find it impossible
to refuse them; and to find her satisfaction elsewhere with one that seemed
to her more meet to afford it than her artificer of woollens. In this frame
of mind she became enamoured of a man well worthy of her love and not yet
past middle age, insomuch that, if she saw him not in the day, she must
needs pass an unquiet night. The gallant, meanwhile, remained fancy-free,
for he knew nought of the lady's case; and she, being apprehensive of
possible perils to ensue, was far too circumspect to make it known to him
either by writing or by word of mouth of any of her female friends. Then she
learned that he had much to do with a religious, a simple, clownish fellow,
but nevertheless, as being a man of most holy life, reputed by almost
everybody a most worthy friar, and decided that she could not find a better
intermediary between herself and her lover than this same friar. So, having
matured her plan, she hied her at a convenient time to the convent where the
friar abode and sent for him, saying, that, if he so pleased, she would be
confessed by him. The friar, who saw at a glance that she was a gentlewoman,
gladly heard her confession; which done, she said:--"My father, I have yet a
matter to confide to you, in which I must crave your aid and counsel. Who my
kinsfolk and husband are, I wot you know, for I have myself told you. My
husband loves me more dearly than his life, and being very wealthy, he can
well and does forthwith afford me whatever I desire. Wherefore, as he loves
me, even so I love him more dearly than myself; nor was there ever yet
wicked woman that deserved the fire so richly as should I, were I guilty--I
speak not of acts, but of so much as a single thought of crossing his will
or tarnishing his honour. Now a man there is--his name, indeed, I know not,
but he seems to me to be a gentleman, and, if I mistake not, he is much with
you--a fine man and tall, his garb dun and very decent, who, the bent of my
mind being, belike, quite unknown to him, would seem to have laid siege to
me, insomuch that I cannot shew myself at door or casement, or quit the
house, but forthwith he presents himself before me; indeed I find it passing
strange that he is not here now; whereat I am sorely troubled, because, when
men so act, unmerited reproach will often thereby be cast upon honest women.
At times I have been minded to inform my brothers of the matter; but then I
have bethought me that men sometimes frame messages in such a way as to
evoke untoward answers, whence follow high words; and so they proceed to
rash acts: wherefore, to obviate trouble and scandal, I have kept silence,
and by preference have made you my confidant, both because you are the
gentleman's friend, and because it befits your office to censure such
behaviour not only in friends but in strangers. And so I beseech you for the
love of our only Lord God to make him sensible of his fault, and pray him to
offend no more in such sort. Other ladies there are in plenty, who may,
perchance, be disposed to welcome such advances, and be flattered to attract
his fond and assiduous regard, which to me, who am in no wise inclined to
encourage it, is but a most grievous molestation."

Having thus spoken, the lady bowed her head as if she were ready to weep.
The holy friar was at no loss to apprehend who it was of whom she spoke; he
commended her virtuous frame, firmly believing that what she said was true,
and promised to take such action that she should not again suffer the like
annoyance; nor, knowing that she was very wealthy, did he omit to extol
works of charity and almsgiving, at the same time opening to her his own
needs. "I make my suit to you," said she, "for the love of God; and if your
friend should deny what I have told you, tell him roundly that 'twas from me
you had it, and that I made complaint to you thereof." So, her confession
ended and penance imposed, bethinking her of the hints which the friar had
dropped touching almsgiving, she slipped into his hand as many coins as it
would hold, praying him to say masses for the souls of her dead. She then
rose and went home.

Not long afterwards the gallant paid one of his wonted visits to the holy
friar. They conversed for a while of divers topics, and then the friar took
him aside, and very courteously reproved him for so haunting and pursuing
the lady with his gaze, as from what she had given him to understand, he
supposed was his wont. The gallant, who had never regarded her with any
attention, and very rarely passed her house, was amazed, and was about to
clear himself, when the friar closed his mouth, saying:--"Now away with this
pretence of amazement, and waste not words in denial, for 'twill not avail
thee. I have it not from the neighbours; she herself, bitterly complaining
of thy conduct, told it me. I say not how ill this levity beseems thee; but
of her I tell thee so much as this, that, if I ever knew woman averse to
such idle philandering, she is so; and therefore for thy honour's sake, and
that she be no more vexed, I pray thee refrain therefrom, and let her be in
peace." The gallant, having rather more insight than the holy friar, was not
slow to penetrate the lady's finesse; he therefore made as if he were rather
shame-stricken, promised to go no further with the matter, and hied him
straight from the friar to the lady's house, where she was always posted at
a little casement to see if he were passing by. As she saw him come, she
shewed him so gay and gracious a mien that he could no longer harbour any
doubt that he had put the true construction upon what he had heard from the
friar; and thenceforth, to his own satisfaction and the immense delight and
solace of the lady, he omitted not daily to pass that way, being careful to
make it appear as if he came upon other business. 'Twas thus not long before
the lady understood that she met with no less favour in his eyes than he in
hers; and being desirous to add fuel to his flame, and to assure him of the
love she bore him, as soon as time and occasion served, she returned to the
holy friar, and having sat herself down at his feet in the church, fell a
weeping. The friar asked her in a soothing tone what her new trouble might
be. Whereto the lady answered:--"My father, 'tis still that accursed friend
of thine, of whom I made complaint to you some days ago, and who would now
seem to have been born for my most grievous torment, and to cause me to do
that by reason whereof I shall never be glad again, nor venture to place
myself at your feet." "How?" said the friar; "has he not forborne to annoy
thee?" "Not he, indeed," said the lady; "on the contrary, 'tis my belief
that, since I complained to you of him, he has, as if in despite, being
offended, belike, that I did so, passed my house seven times for once that
he did so before. Nay, would to God he were content to pass and fix me with
his eyes; but he is waxed so bold and unabashed that only yesterday he sent
a woman to me at home with his compliments and cajoleries, and, as if I had
not purses and girdles enough, he sent me a purse and a girdle; whereat I
was, as I still am, so wroth, that, had not conscience first, and then
regard for you, weighed with me, I had flown into a frenzy of rage. However,
I restrained myself, and resolved neither to do nor to say aught without
first letting you know it. Nor only so; but, lest the woman who brought the
purse and girdle, and to whom I at first returned them, shortly bidding her
begone and take them back to the sender, should keep them and tell him that
I had accepted them, as I believe they sometimes do, I recalled her and had
them back, albeit 'twas in no friendly spirit that I received them from her
hand; and I have brought them to you, that you may return them to him and
tell him that I stand in no need of such gifts from him, because, thanks be
to God and my husband, I have purses and girdles enough to smother him in.
And if after this he leave me not alone, I pray you as my father to hold me
excused if, come what may, I tell it to my husband and brothers; for much
liefer had I that he suffer indignity, if so it must be, than that my fair
fame should be sullied on his account: that holds good, friar." Weeping
bitterly as she thus ended, she drew from under her robe a purse of very
fine and ornate workmanship and a dainty and costly little girdle, and threw
them into the lap of the friar, who, fully believing what she said,
manifested the utmost indignation as he took them, and said:--"Daughter,
that by these advances thou shouldst be moved to anger, I deem neither
strange nor censurable; but I am instant with thee to follow my advice in
the matter. I chid him some days ago, and ill has he kept the promise that
he made me; for which cause and this last feat of his I will surely make his
ears so tingle that he will give thee no more trouble; wherefore, for God's
sake, let not thyself be so overcome by wrath as to tell it to any of thy
kinsfolk; which might bring upon him a retribution greater than he deserves.
Nor fear lest thereby thy fair fame should suffer; for I shall ever be thy
most sure witness before God and men that thou art innocent." The lady made
a shew of being somewhat comforted: then, after a pause--for well she knew
the greed of him and his likes--she said:--"Of late, Sir, by night, the
spirits of divers of my kinsfolk have appeared to me in my sleep, and
methinks they are in most grievous torment; alms, alms, they crave, nought
else, especially my mother, who seems to be in so woful and abject a plight
that 'tis pitiful to see. Methinks 'tis a most grievous torment to her to
see the tribulation which this enemy of God has brought upon me. I would
therefore have you say for their souls the forty masses of St. Gregory and
some of your prayers, that God may deliver them from this purging fire." So
saying she slipped a florin into the hand of the holy friar, who took it
gleefully, and having with edifying words and many examples fortified her in
her devotion, gave her his benediction, and suffered her to depart.

The lady gone, the friar, who had still no idea of the trick that had been
played upon him, sent for his friend; who was no sooner come than he
gathered from the friar's troubled air that he had news of the lady, and
waited to hear what he would say. The friar repeated what he had said
before, and then broke out into violent and heated objurgation on the score
of the lady's latest imputation. The gallant, who did not as yet apprehend
the friar's drift, gave but a very faint denial to the charge of sending the
purse and girdle, in order that he might not discredit the lady with the
friar, if, perchance, she had given him the purse and girdle. Whereupon the
friar exclaimed with great heat:--"How canst thou deny it, thou wicked man?
Why, here they are; she brought them to me in tears with her own hand. Look
at them, and say if thou knowest them not." The gallant now feigned to be
much ashamed, and said:--"Why, yes, indeed, I do know them; I confess that I
did wrong; and I swear to you that, now I know her character, you shall
never hear word more of this matter." Many words followed; and then the
blockheadly friar gave the purse and girdle to his friend, after which he
read him a long lecture, besought him to meddle no more with such matters,
and on his promising obedience dismissed him.

Elated beyond measure by the assurance which he now had of the lady's love,
and the beautiful present, the gallant, on leaving the friar, hied him
straight to a spot whence he stealthily gave the lady to see that he had
both her gifts: whereat the lady was well content, the more so as her
intrigue seemed ever to prosper more and more. She waited now only for her
husband's departure from home to crown her enterprise with success. Nor was
it long before occasion required that her husband should go to Genoa. The
very morning that he took horse and rode away she hied her to the holy
friar, and after many a lamentation she said to him betwixt her sobs:--"My
father, now at last I tell you out and out that I can bear my suffering no
longer. I promised you some days ago to do nought in this matter without
first letting you know it; I am now come to crave release from that promise;
and that you may believe that my lamentations and complaints are not
groundless, I will tell you how this friend of yours, who should rather be
called a devil let loose from hell, treated me only this very morning, a
little before matins. As ill-luck would have it, he learned, I know not how,
that yesterday morning my husband went to Genoa, and so this morning at the
said hour he came into my garden, and got up by a tree to the window of my
bedroom, which looks out over the garden, and had already opened the
casement, and was about to enter the room, when I suddenly awoke, and got up
and uttered a cry, and should have continued to cry out, had not he, who was
still outside, implored my mercy for God's sake and yours, telling me who he
was. So, for love of you I was silent, and naked as I was born, ran and shut
the window in his face, and he--bad luck to him--made off, I suppose, for I
saw him no more. Consider now if such behaviour be seemly and tolerable: I
for my part am minded to put up with no more of it; indeed I have endured
too much already for love of you."

Wroth beyond measure was the friar, as he heard her thus speak, nor knew he
what to say, except that he several times asked her if she were quite
certain that it was no other than he. "Holy name of God!" replied the lady,
"as if I did not yet know him from another! He it was, I tell you; and do
you give no credence to his denial." "Daughter," said then the friar, "there
is here nought else to say but that this is a monstrous presumption and a
most heinous offence; and thou didst well to send him away as thou didst.
But seeing that God has preserved thee from shame, I would implore thee that
as thou hast twice followed my advice, thou do so likewise on this occasion,
and making no complaint to any of thy kinsfolk, leave it to me to try if I
can control this devil that has slipt his chain, whom I supposed to be a
saint; and if I succeed in weaning him from this insensate folly, well and
good; and if I fail, thenceforth I give thee leave, with my blessing, to do
whatsoever may commend itself to thy own judgment." "Lo now," answered the
lady, "once again I will not vex or disobey you; but be sure that you so
order matters that he refrain from further annoyance, as I give you my word
that never will I have recourse to you again touching this matter." Then,
without another word, and with a troubled air, she took leave of him.
Scarcely was she out of the church when the gallant came up. The friar
called him, took him aside, and gave him the affront in such sort as 'twas
never before given to any man reviling him as a disloyal and perjured
traitor. The gallant, who by his two previous lessons had been taught how to
value the friar's censures, listened attentively, and sought to draw him out
by ambiguous answers. "Wherefore this wrath, Sir?" he began. "Have I
crucified Christ?" "Ay, mark the fellow's effrontery!" retorted the friar:
"list to what he says! He talks, forsooth, as if 'twere a year or so since,
and his villanies and lewdnesses were clean gone from his memory for lapse
of time. Between matins and now hast thou forgotten this morning's outrage?
Where wast thou this morning shortly before daybreak?" "Where was I?"
rejoined the gallant; "that know not I. 'Tis indeed betimes that the news
has reached you." "True indeed it is," said the friar, "that the news has
reached me: I suppose that, because the husband was not there, thou never
doubtedst that thou wouldst forthwith be received by the lady with open
arms. Ah! the gay gallant! the honourable gentleman! he is now turned
prowler by night, and breaks into gardens, and climbs trees! Dost thou think
by sheer importunity to vanquish the virtue of this lady, that thou
escaladest her windows at night by the trees? She dislikes thee of all
things in the world, and yet thou must still persist. Well indeed hast thou
laid my admonitions to heart, to say nothing of the many proofs which she
has given thee of her disdain! But I have yet a word for thee: hitherto, not
that she bears thee any love, but that she has yielded to my urgent prayers,
she has kept silence as to thy misdeeds: she will do so no more: I have
given her leave to act as she may think fit, if thou givest her any further
annoyance. And what wilt thou do if she informs her brothers?" The gallant,
now fully apprised of what it imported him to know, was profuse in promises,
whereby as best he might he reassured the friar, and so left him. The very
next night, as soon as the matin hour was come, he entered the garden,
climbed up the tree, found the window open, entered the chamber, and in a
trice was in the embrace of his fair lady. Anxiously had she expected him,
and blithely did she now greet him, saying:--"All thanks to master friar
that he so well taught thee the way hither." Then, with many a jest and
laugh at the simplicity of the asinine friar, and many a flout at
distaff-fuls and combs and cards, they solaced themselves with one another
to their no small delight. Nor did they omit so to arrange matters that they
were well able to dispense with master friar, and yet pass many another
night together with no less satisfaction: to which goal I pray that I, and
all other Christian souls that are so minded, may be speedily guided of God
in His holy mercy.


Dom Felice instructs Fra Puccio how to attain blessedness by doing a
penance. Fra Puccio does the penance, and meanwhile Dom Felice has a good
time with Fra Puccio's wife.

When Filomena, having concluded her story, was silent, and Dioneo had added
a few honeyed phrases in praise of the lady's wit and Filomena's closing
prayer, the queen glanced with a smile to Pamfilo, and said:--"Now, Pamfilo,
give us some pleasant trifle to speed our delight." "That gladly will I,"
returned forthwith Pamfilo, and then:--"Madam," he began, "not a few there
are that, while they use their best endeavours to get themselves places in
Paradise, do, by inadvertence, send others thither: as did, not long ago,
betide a fair neighbour of ours, as you shall hear.

Hard by San Pancrazio there used to live, as I have heard tell, a worthy man
and wealthy, Puccio di Rinieri by name, who in later life, under an
overpowering sense of religion, became a tertiary of the order of St.
Francis, and was thus known as Fra Puccio. In which spiritual life he was
the better able to persevere that his household consisted but of a wife and
a maid, and having no need to occupy himself with any craft, he spent no
small part of his time at church; where, being a simple soul and slow of
wit, he said his paternosters, heard sermons, assisted at the mass, never
missed lauds (i. e. when chanted by the seculars), fasted and mortified his
flesh; nay--so 'twas whispered--he was of the Flagellants. His wife, Monna
Isabetta by name, a woman of from twenty-eight to thirty summers, still
young for her age, lusty, comely and plump as a casolan(1) apple, had not
unfrequently, by reason of her husband's devoutness, if not also of his age,
more than she cared for, of abstinence; and when she was sleepy, or, maybe,
riggish, he would repeat to her the life of Christ, and the sermons of Fra
Nastagio, or the lament of the Magdalen, or the like. Now, while such was
the tenor of her life, there returned from Paris a young monk, by name Dom
Felice, of the convent of San Pancrazio, a well-favoured man and
keen-witted, and profoundly learned, with whom Fra Puccio became very
intimate; and as there was no question which he could put to him but Dom
Felice could answer it, and moreover he made great shew of holiness, for
well he knew Fra Puccio's bent, Fra Puccio took to bringing him home and
entertaining him at breakfast and supper, as occasion served; and for love
of her husband the lady also grew familiar with Dom Felice, and was zealous
to do him honour. So the monk, being a constant visitor at Fra Puccio's
house, and seeing the lady so lusty and plump, surmised that of which she
must have most lack, and made up his mind to afford, if he could, at once
relief to Fra Puccio and contentment to the lady. So cautiously, now and
again, he cast an admiring glance in her direction with such effect that he
kindled in her the same desire with which he burned, and marking his
success, took the first opportunity to declare his passion to her. He found
her fully disposed to gratify it; but how this might be, he was at a loss to
discover, for she would not trust herself with him in any place whatever
except her own house, and there it could not be, because Fra Puccio never
travelled; whereby the monk was greatly dejected. Long he pondered the
matter, and at length thought of an expedient, whereby he might be with the
lady in her own house without incurring suspicion, notwithstanding that Fra
Puccio was there. So, being with Fra Puccio one day, he said to him:--
"Reasons many have I to know, Fra Puccio, that all thy desire is to become a
saint; but it seems to me that thou farest by a circuitous route, whereas
there is one very direct, which the Pope and the greater prelates that are
about him know and use, but will have it remain a secret, because otherwise
the clergy, who for the most part live by alms, and could not then expect
alms or aught else from the laity, would be speedily ruined. However, as
thou art my friend, and hast shewn me much honour, I would teach thee that
way, if I were assured that thou wouldst follow it without letting another
soul in the world hear of it." Fra Puccio was now all agog to hear more of
the matter, and began most earnestly entreating Dom Felice to teach him the
way, swearing that without Dom Felice's leave none should ever hear of it
from him, and averring that, if he found it practicable, he would certainly
follow it. "I am satisfied with thy promises," said the monk, "and I will
shew thee the way. Know then that the holy doctors hold that whoso would
achieve blessedness must do the penance of which I shall tell thee; but see
thou take me judiciously. I do not say that after the penance thou wilt not
be a sinner, as thou art; but the effect will be that the sins which thou
hast committed up to the very hour of the penance will all be purged away
and thereby remitted to thee, and the sins which thou shalt commit
thereafter will not be written against thee to thy damnation, but will be
quit by holy water, like venial sins. First of all then the penitent must
with great exactitude confess his sins when he comes to begin the penance.
Then follows a period of fasting and very strict abstinence which must last
for forty days, during which time he is to touch no woman whomsoever, not
even his wife. Moreover, thou must have in thy house some place whence thou
mayst see the sky by night, whither thou must resort at compline; and there
thou must have a beam, very broad, and placed in such a way, that, standing,
thou canst rest thy nether part upon it, and so, not raising thy feet from
the ground, thou must extend thy arms, so as to make a sort of crucifix, and
if thou wouldst have pegs to rest them on thou mayst; and on this manner,
thy gaze fixed on the sky, and never moving a jot, thou must stand until
matins. And wert thou lettered, it were proper for thee to say meanwhile
certain prayers that I would give thee; but as thou art not so, thou must
say three hundred paternosters and as many avemarias in honour of the
Trinity; and thus contemplating the sky, be ever mindful that God was the
creator of the heaven and the earth, and being set even as Christ was upon
the cross, meditate on His passion. Then, when the matin-bell sounds, thou
mayst, if thou please, go to bed--but see that thou undress not--and sleep;
but in the morning thou must go to church, and hear at least three masses,
and say fifty paternosters and as many avemarias; after which thou mayst
with a pure heart do aught that thou hast to do, and breakfast; but at
vespers thou must be again at church, and say there certain prayers, which I
shall give thee in writing and which are indispensable, and after compline
thou must repeat thy former exercise. Do this, and I, who have done it
before thee, have good hope that even before thou shalt have reached the end
of the penance, thou wilt, if thou shalt do it in a devout spirit, have
already a marvellous foretaste of the eternal blessedness." "This," said Fra
Puccio, "is neither a very severe nor a very long penance, and can be very
easily managed: wherefore in God's name I will begin on Sunday." And so he
took his leave of Dom Felice, and went home, and, by Dom Felice's
permission, informed his wife of every particular of his intended penance.

The lady understood very well what the monk meant by enjoining him not to
stir from his post until matins; and deeming it an excellent device, she
said that she was well content that he should do this or aught else that he
thought good for his soul; and to the end that his penance might be blest
of, she would herself fast with him, though she would go no further. So they
did as they had agreed: when Sunday came Fra Puccio began his penance, and
master monk, by understanding with the lady, came most evenings, at the hour
when he was secure from discovery, to sup with her, always bringing with him
abundance both of meat and of drink, and after slept with her till the matin
hour, when he got up and left her, and Fra Puccio went to bed. The place
which Fra Puccio had chosen for his penance was close to the room in which
the lady slept, and only separated from it by the thinnest of partitions; so
that, the monk and the lady disporting themselves with one another without
stint or restraint, Fra Puccio thought he felt the floor of the house shake
a little, and pausing at his hundredth paternoster, but without leaving his
post, called out to the lady to know what she was about. The lady, who
dearly loved a jest, and was just then riding the horse of St. Benedict or
St. John Gualbert, answered:--"I'faith, husband, I am as restless as may
be." "Restless," said Fra Puccio, "how so? What means this restlessness?"
Whereto with a hearty laugh, for which she doubtless had good occasion, the
bonny lady replied:--"What means it? How should you ask such a question?
Why, I have heard you say a thousand times:--'Who fasting goes to bed,
uneasy lies his head.'" Fra Puccio, supposing that her wakefulness and
restlessness abed was due to want of food, said in good faith:--"Wife, I
told thee I would have thee not fast; but as thou hast chosen to fast, think
not of it, but think how thou mayst compose thyself to sleep; thou tossest
about the bed in such sort that the shaking is felt here." "That need cause
thee no alarm," rejoined the lady. "I know what I am about; I will manage as
well as I can, and do thou likewise." So Fra Puccio said no more to her, but
resumed his paternosters; and thenceforth every night, while Fra Puccio's
penance lasted, the lady and master monk, having had a bed made up for them
in another part of the house, did there wanton it most gamesomely, the monk
departing and the lady going back to her bed at one and the same time, being
shortly before Fra Puccio's return from his nightly vigil. The friar thus
persisting in his penance while the lady took her fill of pleasure with the
monk, she would from time to time say jestingly to him:--"Thou layest a
penance upon Fra Puccio whereby we are rewarded with Paradise." So well
indeed did she relish the dainties with which the monk regaled her, the more
so by contrast with the abstemious life to which her husband had long
accustomed her, that, when Fra Puccio's penance was done, she found means to
enjoy them elsewhere, and ordered her indulgence with such discretion as to
ensure its long continuance. Whereby (that my story may end as it began) it
came to pass that Fra Puccio, hoping by his penance to win a place for
himself in Paradise, did in fact translate thither the monk who had shewn
him the way, and the wife who lived with him in great dearth of that of
which the monk in his charity gave her superabundant largess.

(1) Perhaps from Casoli, near Naples.


Zima gives a palfrey to Messer Francesco Vergellesi, who in return suffers
him to speak with his wife. She keeping silence, he answers in her stead,
and the sequel is in accordance with his answer.

When Pamfilo had brought the story of Fra Puccio to a close amid the
laughter of the ladies, the queen debonairly bade Elisa follow suit; and
she, whose manner had in it a slight touch of severity, which betokened not
despite, but was habitual to her, thus began:--

Many there are that, being very knowing, think that others are quite the
reverse; and so, many a time, thinking to beguile others, are themselves
beguiled; wherefore I deem it the height of folly for any one wantonly to
challenge another to a contest of wit. But, as, perchance, all may not be of
the same opinion, I am minded, without deviating from the prescribed order,
to acquaint you with that which thereby befell a certain knight of Pistoia.
Know then that at Pistoia there lived a knight, Messer Francesco, by name,
of the Vergellesi family, a man of much wealth and good parts, being both
wise and clever, but withal niggardly beyond measure. Which Messer
Francesco, having to go to Milan in the capacity of podesta, had provided
himself with all that was meet for the honourable support of such a dignity,
save only a palfrey handsome enough for him; and not being able to come by
any such, he felt himself at a loss. Now there was then in Pistoia a young
man, Ricciardo by name, of low origin but great wealth, who went always so
trim and fine and foppish of person, that folk had bestowed upon him the
name of Zima,(1) by which he was generally known. Zima had long and to no
purpose burned and yearned for love of Messer Francesco's very fair and no
less virtuous wife. His passion was matter of common notoriety; and so it
befell that some one told Messer Francesco that he had but to ask Zima, who
was the possessor of one of the handsomest palfreys in Tuscany, which on
that account he greatly prized, and he would not hesitate to give him the
horse for the love which he bore his wife. So our niggardly knight sent for
Zima, and offered to buy the horse of him, hoping thereby to get him from
Zima as a gift. Zima heard the knight gladly, and thus made answer:--"Sell
you my horse, Sir, I would not, though you gave me all that you have in the
world; but I shall be happy to give him to you, when you will, on this
condition, that, before he pass into your hands, I may by your leave and in
your presence say a few words to your wife so privately that I may be heard
by her alone." Thinking at once to gratify his cupidity and to outwit Zima,
the knight answered that he was content that it should be even as Zima
wished. Then, leaving him in the hall of the palace, he went to his lady's
chamber, and told her the easy terms on which he might acquire the palfrey,
bidding her give Zima his audience, but on no account to vouchsafe him a
word of reply. This the lady found by no means to her mind, but, as she must
needs obey her husband's commands, she promised compliance, and followed him
into the hall to hear what Zima might have to say. Zima then renewed his
contract with the knight in due form; whereupon, the lady being seated in a
part of the hall where she was quite by herself, he sate down by her side,
and thus began:--"Noble lady, I have too much respect for your understanding
to doubt that you have long been well aware of the extremity of passion
whereto I have been brought by your beauty, which certainly exceeds that of
any other lady that I have ever seen, to say nothing of your exquisite
manners and incomparable virtues, which might well serve to captivate every
soaring spirit that is in the world; wherefore there need no words of mine
to assure you that I love you with a love greater and more ardent than any
that man yet bore to woman, and so without doubt I shall do, as long as my
woful life shall hold this frame together; nay, longer yet, for, if love
there be in the next world as in this, I shall love you evermore. And so you
may make your mind secure that there is nothing that is yours, be it
precious or be it common, which you may count as in such and so sure a sort
your own as me, for all that I am and have. And that thereof you may not
lack evidence of infallible cogency, I tell you, that I should deem myself
more highly favoured, if I might at your command do somewhat to pleasure
you, than if at my command the whole world were forthwith to yield me
obedience. And as 'tis even in such sort that I am yours, 'tis not
unworthily that I make bold to offer my petitions to Your Highness, as being
to me the sole, exclusive source of all peace, of all bliss, of all health.
Wherefore, as your most lowly vassal, I pray you, dear my bliss, my soul's
one hope, wherein she nourishes herself in love's devouring flame, that in
your great benignity you deign so far to mitigate the harshness which in the
past you have shewn towards me, yours though I am, that, consoled by your
compassion, I may say, that, as 'twas by your beauty that I was smitten with
love, so 'tis to your pity that I owe my life, which, if in your haughtiness
you lend not ear unto my prayers, will assuredly fail, so that I shall die,
and, it may be, 'twill be said that you slew me. 'Twould not redound to your
honour that I died for love of you; but let that pass; I cannot but think,
however, that you would sometimes feel a touch of remorse, and would grieve
that 'twas your doing, and that now and again, relenting, you would say to
yourself:--'Ah! how wrong it was of me that I had not pity on my Zima;' by
which too late repentance you would but enhance your grief. Wherefore, that
this come not to pass, repent you while it is in your power to give me ease,
and shew pity on me before I die, seeing that with you it rests to make me
either the gladdest or the saddest man that lives. My trust is in your
generosity, that 'twill not brook that a love so great and of such a sort as
mine should receive death for guerdon, and that by a gladsome and gracious
answer you will repair my shattered spirits, which are all a-tremble in your
presence for very fear." When he had done, he heaved several very deep
sighs, and a few tears started from his eyes, while he awaited the lady's

Long time he had wooed her with his eyes, had tilted in her honour, had
greeted her rising with music; and against these and all like modes of
attack she had been proof; but the heartfelt words of her most ardent lover
were not without their effect, and she now began to understand what she had
never till then understood, to wit, what love really means. So, albeit she
obeyed her lord's behest, and kept silence, yet she could not but betray by
a slight sigh that which, if she might have given Zima his answer, she would
readily have avowed. After waiting a while, Zima found it strange that no
answer was forthcoming; and he then began to perceive the trick which the
knight had played him. However, he kept his eyes fixed on the lady, and
observing that her eyes glowed now and again, as they met his, and noting
the partially suppressed sighs which escaped her, he gathered a little hope,
which gave him courage to try a novel plan of attack. So, while the lady
listened, he began to make answer for her to himself on this wise:--"Zima
mine, true indeed it is that long since I discerned that thou didst love me
with a love exceeding great and whole-hearted, whereof I have now yet ampler
assurance by thine own words, and well content I am therewith, as indeed I
ought to be. And however harsh and cruel I may have seemed to thee, I would
by no means have thee believe, that I have been such at heart as I have
seemed in aspect; rather, be assured that I have ever loved thee and held
thee dear above all other men; the mien which I have worn was but prescribed
by fear of another and solicitude for my fair fame. But a time will soon
come when I shall be able to give thee plain proof of my love, and to accord
the love which thou hast borne and dost bear me its due guerdon. Wherefore
be comforted and of good hope; for, Messer Francesco is to go in a few days'
time to Milan as podesta, as thou well knowest, seeing that for love of me
thou hast given him thy fine palfrey; and I vow to thee upon my faith, upon
the true love which I bear thee, that without fail, within a few days
thereafter thou shalt be with me, and we will give our love complete and
gladsome consummation. And that I may have no more occasion to speak to thee
of this matter, be it understood between us that henceforth when thou shalt
observe two towels disposed at the window of my room which overlooks the
garden, thou shalt come to me after nightfall of that same day by the garden
door (and look well to it that thou be not seen), and thou shalt find me
waiting for thee, and we will have our fill of mutual cheer and solace all
night long."

Having thus answered for the lady, Zima resumed his own person and thus
replied to the lady:--"Dearest madam, your boon response so overpowers my
every faculty that scarce can I frame words to render you due thanks; and,
were I able to utter all I feel, time, however long, would fail me fully to
thank you as I would fain and as I ought: wherefore I must even leave it to
your sage judgment to divine that which I yearn in vain to put in words. Let
this one word suffice, that as you bid me, so I shall not fail to do; and
then, having, perchance, firmer assurance of the great boon which you have
granted me, I will do my best endeavour to thank you in terms the amplest
that I may command. For the present there is no more to say; and so, dearest
my lady, I commend you to God; and may He grant you your heart's content of
joy and bliss." To all which the lady returned never a word: wherefore Zima
rose and turned to rejoin the knight, who, seeing him on his feet, came
towards him, and said with a laugh:--"How sayst thou? Have I faithfully kept
my promise to thee?" "Not so, Sir," replied Zima; "for by thy word I was to
have spoken with thy wife, and by thy deed I have spoken to a statue of
marble." Which remark was much relished by the knight, who, well as he had
thought of his wife, thought now even better of her, and said:--"So thy
palfrey, that was, is now mine out and out." "'Tis even so, Sir," replied
Zima; "but had I thought to have gotten such fruit as I have from this
favour of yours, I would not have craved it, but would have let you have the
palfrey as a free gift: and would to God I had done so, for, as it is, you
have bought the palfrey and I have not sold him." This drew a laugh from the
knight, who within a few days thereafter mounted the palfrey which he had
gotten, and took the road for Milan, there to enter on his podestate. The
lady, now mistress of herself, bethought her of Zima's words, and the love
which he bore her, and for which he had parted with his palfrey; and
observing that he frequently passed her house, said to herself:--"What am I
about? Why throw I my youth away? My husband is gone to Milan, and will not
return for six months, and when can he ever restore them to me? When I am
old! And besides, shall I ever find another such lover as Zima? I am quite
by myself. There is none to fear, I know not why I take not my good time
while I may: I shall not always have the like opportunity as at present: no
one will ever know; and if it should get known, 'tis better to do and repent
than to forbear and repent." Of which meditations the issue was that one day
she set two towels in the window overlooking the garden, according to Zima's
word, and Zima having marked them with much exultation, stole at nightfall
alone to the door of the lady's garden, and finding it open, crossed to
another door that led into the house, where he found the lady awaiting him.
On sight of him she rose to meet him, and gave him the heartiest of
welcomes. A hundred thousand times he embraced and kissed her, as he
followed her upstairs: then without delay they hied them to bed, and knew
love's furthest bourne. And so far was the first time from being in this
case the last, that, while the knight was at Milan, and indeed after his
return, there were seasons not a few at which Zima resorted thither to the
immense delight of both parties.

(1) From the Low Latin aczima, explained by Du Cange as "tonture de draps,"
the process of dressing cloth so as to give it an even nap. Zima is thus
equivalent to "nitidus." Cf. Vocab. degli Accademici della Crusca,


Ricciardo Minutolo loves the wife of Filippello Fighinolfi, and knowing her
to be jealous, makes her believe that his own wife is to meet Filippello at
a bagnio on the ensuing day; whereby she is induced to go thither, where,
thinking to have been with her husband, she discovers that she has tarried
with Ricciardo.

When Elisa had quite done, the queen, after some commendation of Zima's
sagacity, bade Fiammetta follow with a story. Whereto Fiammetta, all smiles,
responded:--"Madam, with all my heart;" and thus began:--

Richly though our city abounds, as in all things else, so also in instances
to suit every topic, yet I am minded to journey some distance thence, and,
like Elisa, to tell you something of what goes on in other parts of the
world: wherefore pass we to Naples, where you shall hear how one of these
sanctified that shew themselves so shy of love, was by the subtlety of her
lover brought to taste of the fruit before she had known the flowers of
love; whereby at one and the same time you may derive from the past counsel
of prudence for the future, and present delectation.

In the very ancient city of Naples, which for loveliness has not its
superior or perhaps its equal in Italy, there once lived a young man,
renowned alike for noble blood and the splendour of his vast wealth, his
name Ricciardo Minutolo. He was mated with a very fair and loving wife; but
nevertheless he became enamoured of a lady who in the general opinion vastly
surpassed in beauty every other lady in Naples. Catella--such was the lady's
name--was married to a young man, likewise of gentle blood, Filippello
Fighinolfi by name, whom she, most virtuous of ladies, loved and held dear
above all else in the world. Being thus enamoured of Catella, Ricciardo
Minutolo left none of those means untried whereby a lady's favour and love
are wont to be gained, but for all that he made no way towards the
attainment of his heart's desire: whereby he fell into a sort of despair,
and witless and powerless to loose himself from his love, found life scarce
tolerable, and yet knew not how to die. While in this frame he languished,
it befell one day that some ladies that were of kin to him counselled him
earnestly to be quit of such a love, whereby he could but fret himself to no
purpose, seeing that Catella cared for nought in the world save Filippello,
and lived in such a state of jealousy on his account that never a bird flew
but she feared lest it should snatch him from her. So soon as Ricciardo
heard of Catella's jealousy, he forthwith began to ponder how he might make
it subserve his end. He feigned to have given up his love for Catella as
hopeless, and to have transferred it to another lady, in whose honour he
accordingly began to tilt and joust and do all that he had been wont to do
in honour of Catella. Nor was it long before well-nigh all the Neapolitans,
including Catella herself, began to think that he had forgotten Catella, and
was to the last degree enamoured of the other lady. In this course he
persisted, until the opinion was so firmly rooted in the minds of all that
even Catella laid aside a certain reserve which she had used towards him
while she deemed him her lover, and, coming and going, greeted him in
friendly, neighbourly fashion, like the rest. Now it so befell that during
the hot season, when, according to the custom of the Neapolitans, many
companies of ladies and gentlemen went down to the sea-coast to recreate
themselves and breakfast and sup, Ricciardo, knowing that Catella was gone
thither with her company, went likewise with his, but, making as if he were
not minded to stay there, he received several invitations from the ladies of
Catella's company before he accepted any. When the ladies received him, they
all with one accord, including Catella, began to rally him on his new love,
and he furnished them with more matter for talk by feigning a most ardent
passion. At length most of the ladies being gone off, one hither, another
thither, as they do in such places, leaving Catella and a few others with
Ricciardo, he tossed at Catella a light allusion to a certain love of her
husband Filippello, which threw her at once into such a fit of jealousy,
that she inly burned with a vehement desire to know what Ricciardo meant.
For a while she kept her own counsel; then, brooking no more suspense, she
adjured Ricciardo, by the love he bore the lady whom most he loved, to
expound to her what he had said touching Filippello. He answered thus:--"You
have adjured me by her to whom I dare not deny aught that you may ask of me;
my riddle therefore I will presently read you, provided you promise me that
neither to him nor to any one else will you impart aught of what I shall
relate to you, until you shall have ocular evidence of its truth; which, so
you desire it, I will teach you how you may obtain." The lady accepted his
terms, which rather confirmed her belief in his veracity, and swore that she
would not tell a soul. They then drew a little apart, that they might not be
overheard by the rest, and Ricciardo thus began:--"Madam, did I love you, as
I once did, I should not dare to tell you aught that I thought might cause
you pain; but, now that that love is past, I shall have the less hesitation
in telling you the truth. Whether Filippello ever resented the love which I
bore you, or deemed that it was returned by you, I know not: whether it were
so or no, he certainly never shewed any such feeling to me; but so it is
that now, having waited, perhaps, until, as he supposes, I am less likely to
be on my guard, he shews a disposition to serve me as I doubt he suspects
that I served him; that is to say, he would fain have his pleasure of my
wife, whom for some time past he has, as I discover, plied with messages
through most secret channels. She has told me all, and has answered him
according to my instructions: but only this morning, just before I came
hither, I found a woman in close parley with her in the house, whose true
character and purpose I forthwith divined; so I called my wife, and asked
what the woman wanted. Whereto she answered:--''Tis this persecution by
Filippello which thou hast brought upon me by the encouraging answers that
thou wouldst have me give him: he now tells me that he is most earnestly
desirous to know my intentions, and that, should I be so minded, he would
contrive that I should have secret access to a bagnio in this city, and he
is most urgent and instant that I should consent. And hadst thou not,
wherefore I know not, bidden me keep the affair afoot, I would have
dismissed him in such a sort that my movements would have been exempt from
his prying observation for ever.' Upon this I saw that the affair was going
too far; I determined to have no more of it, and to let you know it, that
you may understand how he requites your whole-hearted faith, which brought
me of late to the verge of death. And that you may not suppose that these
are but empty words and idle tales, but may be able, should you so desire,
to verify them by sight and touch, I caused my wife to tell the woman who
still waited her answer, that she would be at the bagnio to-morrow about
none, during the siesta: with which answer the woman went away well content.
Now you do not, I suppose, imagine that I would send her thither; but if I
were in your place, he should find me there instead of her whom he thinks to
find there; and when I had been some little time with him, I would give him
to understand with whom he had been, and he should have of me such honour as
he deserved. Whereby, I doubt not, he would be put to such shame as would at
one and the same time avenge both the wrong which he has done to you and
that which he plots against me."

Catella, as is the wont of the jealous, hearkened to Ricciardo's words
without so much as giving a thought to the speaker or his wiles, inclined at
once to credit his story, and began to twist certain antecedent matters into
accord with it; then, suddenly kindling with wrath, she answered that to the
bagnio she would certainly go; 'twould cause her no great inconvenience, and
if he should come, she would so shame him that he should never again set
eyes on woman but his ears would tingle. Satisfied by what he heard, that
his stratagem was well conceived, and success sure, Ricciardo added much in
corroboration of his story, and having thus confirmed her belief in it,
besought her to keep it always close, whereto she pledged her faith.

Next morning Ricciardo hied him to the good woman that kept the bagnio to
which he had directed Catella, told her the enterprise which he had in hand,
and prayed her to aid him therein so far as she might be able. The good
woman, who was much beholden to him, assured him that she would gladly do
so, and concerted with him all that was to be said and done. She had in the
bagnio a room which was very dark, being without any window to admit the
light. This room, by Ricciardo's direction, she set in order, and made up a
bed there as well as she could, into which bed Ricciardo got, as soon as he
had breakfasted, and there awaited Catella's coming.

Now Catella, still giving more credence to Ricciardo's story than it
merited, had gone home in the evening in a most resentful mood, and
Filippello, returning home the same evening with a mind greatly preoccupied,
was scarce as familiar with her as he was wont to be. Which she marking,
grew yet more suspicious than before, and said to herself:--"Doubtless he is
thinking of the lady of whom he expects to take his pleasure to-morrow, as
most assuredly he shall not;" and so, musing and meditating what she should
say to him after their rencounter at the bagnio, she spent the best part of
the night. But--to shorten my story--upon the stroke of none Catella, taking
with her a single attendant, but otherwise adhering to her original
intention, hied her to the bagnio which Ricciardo had indicated; and finding
the good woman there, asked her whether Filippello had been there that day.
Primed by Ricciardo, the good woman asked her, whether she were the lady
that was to come to speak with him; to which she answered in the
affirmative. "Go to him, then," said the good woman. And so Catella, in
quest of that which she would gladly not have found, was shewn to the
chamber where Ricciardo was, and having entered without uncovering her head,
closed the door behind her. Overjoyed to see her, Ricciardo sprang out of
bed, took her in his arms, and said caressingly:--"Welcome, my soul."
Catella, dissembling, for she was minded at first to counterfeit another
woman, returned his embrace, kissed him, and lavished endearments upon him;
saying, the while, not a word, lest her speech should betray her. The
darkness of the room, which was profound, was equally welcome to both; nor
were they there long enough for their eyes to recover power. Ricciardo
helped Catella on to the bed, where, with no word said on either side in a
voice that might be recognized, they lay a long while, much more to the
solace and satisfaction of the one than of the other party. Then, Catella,
deeming it high time to vent her harboured resentment, burst forth in a
blaze of wrath on this wise:--"Alas! how wretched is the lot of women, how
misplaced of not a few the love they bear their husbands! Ah, woe is me! for
eight years have I loved thee more dearly than my life; and now I find that
thou, base miscreant that thou art, dost nought but burn and languish for
love of another woman! Here thou hast been--with whom, thinkest thou? Even
with her whom thou hast too long deluded with thy false blandishments,
making pretence to love her while thou art enamoured of another. 'Tis I,
Catella, not the wife of Ricciardo, false traitor that thou art; list if
thou knowest my voice; 'tis I indeed! Ah! would we were but in the light!--
it seems to me a thousand years till then--that I might shame thee as thou
deservest, vile, pestilent dog that thou art! Alas! woe is me! such love as
I have borne so many years--to whom? To this faithless dog, that, thinking
to have a strange woman in his embrace, has in the brief while that I have
been with him here lavished upon me more caresses and endearments than
during all the forepast time that I have been his! A lively spark indeed art
thou to-day, renegade dog, that shewest thyself so limp and enervate and
impotent at home! But, God be praised, thou hast tilled thine own plot, and
not another's, as thou didst believe. No wonder that last night thou heldest
aloof from me; thou wast thinking of scattering thy seed elsewhere, and wast
minded to shew thyself a lusty knight when thou shouldst join battle. But
praise be to God and my sagacity, the water has nevertheless taken its
proper course. Where is thy answer, culprit? Hast thou nought to say? Have
my words struck thee dumb? God's faith I know not why I forbear to pluck
thine eyes out with my fingers. Thou thoughtest to perpetrate this treason
with no small secrecy; but, by God, one is as knowing as another; thy plot
has failed; I had better hounds on thy trail than thou didst think for."
Ricciardo, inly delighted by her words, made no answer, but embraced and
kissed her more than ever, and overwhelmed her with his endearments. So she
continued her reproaches, saying:--"Ay, thou thinkest to cajole me with thy
feigned caresses, wearisome dog that thou art, and so to pacify and mollify
me; but thou art mistaken. I shall never be mollified, until I have covered
thee with infamy in the presence of all our kinsfolk and friends and
neighbours. Am I not, miscreant, as fair as the wife of Ricciardo Minutolo?
Am I not as good a lady as she? Why dost not answer, vile dog? Wherein has
she the advantage of me? Away with thee! touch me not; thou hast done feats
of arms more than enough for to-day. Well I know that, now that thou knowest
who I am, thou wilt wreak thy will on me by force: but by God's grace I will
yet disappoint thee. I know not why I forbear to send for Ricciardo, who
loved me more than himself and yet was never able to boast that he had a
single glance from me; nor know I why 'twere wrong to do so. Thou thoughtest
to have his wife here, and 'tis no fault of thine that thou hadst her not:
so, if I had him, thou couldst not justly blame me."

Enough had now been said: the lady's mortification was extreme; and, as she
ended, Ricciardo bethought him that, if he suffered her, thus deluded, to
depart, much evil might ensue. He therefore resolved to make himself known,
and disabuse her of her error. So, taking her in his arms, and clipping her
so close that she could not get loose, he said:--"Sweet my soul, be not
wroth: that which, while artlessly I loved, I might not have, Love has
taught me to compass by guile: know that I am thy Ricciardo."

At these words and the voice, which she recognized, Catella started, and
would have sprung out of the bed; which being impossible, she essayed a cry;
but Ricciardo laid a hand upon her mouth, and closed it, saying:--"Madam,
that which is done can never be undone, though you should cry out for the
rest of your days, and should you in such or any other wise publish this
matter to any, two consequences will ensue. In the first place (and this is
a point which touches you very nearly) your honour and fair fame will be
blasted; for, however you may say that I lured you hither by guile, I shall
deny it, and affirm, on the contrary, that I induced you to come hither by
promises of money and gifts, and that 'tis but because you are vexed that
what I gave you did not altogether come up to your expectations, that you
make such a cry and clamour; and you know that folk are more prone to
believe evil than good, and therefore I am no less likely to be believed
than you. The further consequence will be mortal enmity between your husband
and me, and the event were as like to be that I killed him as that he killed
me: which if I did, you would never more know joy or peace. Wherefore, heart
of my body, do not at one and the same time bring dishonour upon yourself
and set your husband and me at strife and in jeopardy of our lives. You are
not the first, nor will you be the last to be beguiled; nor have I beguiled
you to rob you of aught, but for excess of love that I bear, and shall ever
bear, you, being your most lowly vassal. And though it is now a great while
that I, and what I have and can and am worth, are yours, yet I am minded
that so it shall be henceforth more than ever before. Your discretion in
other matters is not unknown to me, and I doubt not 'twill be equally
manifest in this."

Ricciardo's admonitions were received by Catella with many a bitter tear;
but though she was very wroth and very sad at heart, yet Ricciardo's true
words so far commanded the assent of her reason, that she acknowledged that
'twas possible they might be verified by the event. Wherefore she made
answer:Ÿ-"Ricciardo, I know not how God will grant me patience to bear the
villainy and knavery which thou hast practised upon me; and though in this
place, to which simplicity and excess of jealousy guided my steps, I raise
no cry, rest assured that I shall never be happy, until in one way or
another I know myself avenged of that which thou hast done to me. Wherefore
unhand me, let me go: thou hast had thy desire of me, and hast tormented me
to thy heart's content: 'tis time to release me; let me go, I pray thee."
But Ricciardo, seeing that she was still much ruffled in spirit, was
resolved not to let her go, until he had made his peace with her. So he
addressed himself to soothe her; and by dint of most dulcet phrases and
entreaties and adjurations he did at last prevail with her to give him her
pardon; nay, by joint consent, they tarried there a great while to the
exceeding great delight of both. Indeed the lady, finding her lover's kisses
smack much better than those of her husband, converted her asperity into
sweetness, and from that day forth cherished a most tender love for
Ricciardo; whereof, using all circumspection, they many a time had solace.
God grant us solace of ours.


Tedaldo, being in disfavour with his lady, departs from Florence. He returns
thither after a while in the guise of a pilgrim, has speech of his lady, and
makes her sensible of her fault. Her husband, convicted of slaying him, he
delivers from peril of death, reconciles him with his brothers, and
thereafter discreetly enjoys his lady.

So ceased Fiammetta; and, when all had bestowed on her their meed of praise,
the queen--to lose no time--forthwith bade Emilia resume the narration. So
thus Emilia began:--

I am minded to return to our city, whence my two last predecessors saw fit
to depart, and to shew you how one of our citizens recovered the lady he had
lost. Know then that there was in Florence a young noble, his name Tedaldo
Elisei, who being beyond measure enamoured of a lady hight Monna Ermellina,
wife of one Aldobrandino Palermini, and by reason of his admirable qualities
richly deserving to have his desire, found Fortune nevertheless adverse, as
she is wont to be to the prosperous. Inasmuch as, for some reason or
another, the lady, having shewn herself gracious towards Tedaldo for a
while, completely altered her mien, and not only shewed him no further
favour, but would not so much as receive a message from him or suffer him to
see her face; whereby he fell a prey to a grievous and distressful
melancholy; but so well had he concealed his love that the cause of his
melancholy was surmised by none. He tried hard in divers ways to recover the
love which he deemed himself to have lost for no fault of his, and finding
all his efforts unavailing, he resolved to bid the world adieu, that he
might not afford her who was the cause of his distress the satisfaction of
seeing him languish. So he got together as much money as he might, and
secretly, no word said to friend or kinsman except only a familiar gossip,
who knew all, he took his departure for Ancona. Arrived there, he assumed
the name of Filippo Santodeccio, and having forgathered with a rich
merchant, entered his service. The merchant took him with him to Cyprus
aboard one of his ships, and was so well pleased with his bearing and
behaviour that he not only gave him a handsome salary but made him in a sort
his companion, and entrusted him with the management of no small part of his
affairs: wherein he proved himself so apt and assiduous, that in the course
of a few years he was himself established in credit and wealth and great
repute as a merchant. Seven years thus passed, during which, albeit his
thoughts frequently reverted to his cruel mistress, and sorely love smote
him, and much he yearned to see her again, yet such was his firmness that he
came off conqueror, until one day in Cyprus it so befell that there was sung
in his hearing a song that he had himself composed, and of which the theme
was the mutual love that was between his lady and him, and the delight that
he had of her; which as he heard, he found it incredible that she should
have forgotten him, and burned with such a desire to see her once more,
that, being able to hold out no longer, he made up his mind to return to
Florence. So, having set all his affairs in order, he betook him, attended
only by a single servant, to Ancona; whence he sent all his effects, as they
arrived, forward to Florence, consigning them to a friend of his Ancontan
partner, and followed with his servant in the disguise of a pilgrim returned
from the Holy Sepulchre. Arrived at Florence, he put up at a little hostelry
kept by two brothers hard by his lady's house, whither he forthwith hied
him, hoping that, perchance, he might have sight of her from the street;
but, finding all barred and bolted, doors, windows and all else, he doubted
much, she must be dead, or have removed thence. So, with a very heavy heart,
he returned to the house of the two brothers, and to his great surprise
found his own four brothers standing in front of it, all in black. He knew
that he was so changed from his former semblance, both in dress and in
person, that he might not readily be recognized, and he had therefore no
hesitation in going up to a shoemaker and asking him why these men were all
dressed in black. The shoemaker answered:--"'Tis because 'tis not fifteen
days since a brother of theirs, Tedaldo by name, that had been long abroad,
was slain; and I understand that they have proved in court that one
Aldobrandino Palermini, who is under arrest, did the deed, because Tedaldo,
who loved his wife, was come back to Florence incognito to forgather with
her." Tedaldo found it passing strange that there should be any one so like
him as to be mistaken for him, and deplored Aldobrandino's evil plight. He
had learned, however, that the lady was alive and well. So, as 'twas now
night, he hied him, much perplexed in mind, into the inn, and supped with
his servant. The bedroom assigned him was almost at the top of the house,
and the bed was none of the best. Thoughts many and disquieting haunted his
mind, and his supper had been but light. Whereby it befell that midnight
came and went, and Tedaldo was still awake. As thus he watched, he heard
shortly after midnight, a noise as of persons descending from the roof into
the house, and then through the chinks of the door of his room he caught the
flicker of an ascending light. Wherefore he stole softly to the door, and
peeping through a chink to make out what was afoot, he saw a very fine young
woman bearing a light, and three men making towards her, being evidently
those that had descended from the roof. The men exchanged friendly greetings
with the young woman, and then one said to her:--"Now, God be praised, we
may make our minds easy, for we are well assured that judgment for the death
of Tedaldo Elisei is gotten by his brothers against Aldobrandino Palermini,
and he has confessed, and the sentence is already drawn up; but still it
behoves us to hold our peace; for, should it ever get abroad that we were
guilty, we shall stand in the like jeopardy as Aldobrandino." So saying,
they took leave of the woman, who seemed much cheered, and went to bed. What
he had heard set Tedaldo musing on the number and variety of the errors to
which men are liable: as, first, how his brothers had mourned and interred a
stranger in his stead, and then charged an innocent man upon false
suspicion, and by false witness brought him into imminent peril of death:
from which he passed to ponder the blind severity of laws and magistrates,
who from misguided zeal to elicit the truth not unfrequently become
ruthless, and, adjudging that which is false, forfeit the title which they
claim of ministers of God and justice, and do but execute the mandates of
iniquity and the Evil One. And so he came at last to consider the
possibility of saving Aldobrandino, and formed a plan for the purpose.
Accordingly, on the morrow, when he was risen, he left his servant at the
inn, and hied him alone, at what he deemed a convenient time, to his lady's
house, where, finding, by chance, the door open, he entered, and saw his
lady sitting, all tears and lamentations, in a little parlour on the
ground-floor. Whereat he all but wept for sympathy; and drawing near her, he
said:--"Madam, be not troubled in spirit: your peace is nigh you." Whereupon
the lady raised her head, and said between her sobs:--"Good man, what dost
thou, a pilgrim, if I mistake not, from distant parts, know either of my
peace or of my affliction?" "Madam," returned the pilgrim, "I am of
Constantinople, and am but now come hither, at God's behest, that I may give
you laughter for tears, and deliver your husband from death." "But," said
the lady, "if thou art of Constantinople, and but now arrived, how is't that
thou knowest either who my husband is, or who I am?" Whereupon the pilgrim
gave her the whole narrative, from the very beginning, of Aldobrandino's
sufferings; he also told her, who she was, how long she had been married,
and much besides that was known to him of her affairs: whereat the lady was
lost in wonder, and, taking him to be a prophet, threw herself on her knees
at his feet, and besought him for God's sake, if he were come to save
Aldobrandino, to lose no time, for the matter brooked no delay. Thus
adjured, the pilgrim assumed an air of great sanctity, as he said:--"Arise,
Madam, weep not, but hearken diligently to what I shall say to you, and look
to it that you impart it to none. I have it by revelation of God that the
tribulation wherein you stand is come upon you in requital of a sin which
you did once commit, of which God is minded that this suffering be a partial
purgation, and that you make reparation in full, if you would not find
yourself in a far more grievous plight." "Sir," replied the lady, "many sins
have I committed, nor know I how among them all to single out that whereof,
more than another, God requires reparation at my hands--wherefore, if you
know it, tell it me, and what by way of reparation I may do, that will I
do." "Madam," returned the pilgrim, "well wot I what it is, nor shall I
question you thereof for my better instruction, but that the rehearsal may
give you increase of remorse therefor. But pass we now to fact. Tell me,
mind you ever to have had a lover?" Whereat the lady heaved a deep sigh;
then, marvelling not a little, for she had thought 'twas known to none,
albeit on the day when the man was slain, who was afterwards buried as
Tedaldo, there had been some buzz about it, occasioned by some indiscreet
words dropped by Tedaldo's gossip and confidant, she made answer:--"I see
that there is nought that men keep secret but God reveals it to you;
wherefore I shall not endeavour to hide my secrets from you. True it is that
in my youth I was beyond measure enamoured of the unfortunate young man
whose death is imputed to my husband; whom I mourned with grief unfeigned,
for, albeit I shewed myself harsh and cruel towards him before his
departure, yet neither thereby, nor by his long absence, nor yet by his
calamitous death was my heart estranged from him." Then said the
pilgrim:--"'Twas not the unfortunate young man now dead that you did love,
but Tedaldo Elisei. But let that pass; now tell me: wherefore lost he your
good graces? Did he ever offend you?" "Nay verily," answered the lady, "he
never offended me at all. My harshness was prompted by an accursed friar, to
whom I once confessed, and who, when I told him of the love I bore Tedaldo,
and my intimacy with him, made my ears so tingle and sing that I still
shudder to think of it, warning me that, if I gave it not up, I should fall
into the jaws of the Devil in the abyss of hell, and be cast into the
avenging fire. Whereby I was so terrified that I quite made my mind up to
discontinue my intimacy with him, and, to trench the matter, I would
thenceforth have none of his letters or messages; and so, I suppose, he went
away in despair, though I doubt not, had he persevered a while longer, I
should not have seen him wasting away like snow in sunshine without
relenting of my harsh resolve; for in sooth there was nothing in the world I
would so gladly have done." Then said the pilgrim:--"Madam, 'tis this sin,
and this only, that has brought upon you your present tribulation. I know
positively that Tedaldo did never put force upon you: 'twas of your own free
will, and for that he pleased you, that you became enamoured of him, your
constant visitor, your intimate friend he became, because you yourself would
have it so; and in the course of your intimacy you shewed him such favour by
word and deed that, if he loved you first, you multiplied his love full a
thousandfold. And if so it was, and well I know it was so, what
justification had you for thus harshly severing yourself from him? You
should have considered the whole matter before the die was cast, and not
have entered upon it, if you deemed you might have cause to repent you of it
as a sin. As soon as he became yours, you became his. Had he not been yours,
you might have acted as you had thought fit, at your own unfettered
discretion, but, as you were his, 'twas robbery, 'twas conduct most
disgraceful, to sever yourself from him against his will. Now you must know
that I am a friar; and therefore all the ways of friars are familiar to me;
nor does it misbecome me, as it might another, to speak for your behoof
somewhat freely of them; as I am minded to do that you may have better
understanding of them in the future than you would seem to have had in the
past. Time was when the friars were most holy and worthy men, but those who
to-day take the name and claim the reputation of friars have nought of the
friar save only the habit: nay, they have not even that: for, whereas their
founders ordained that their habits should be strait, of a sorry sort, and
of coarse stuff, apt symbols of a soul that in arraying the body in so mean
a garb did despite to all things temporal, our modern friars will have them
full, and double, and resplendent, and of the finest stuff, and of a fashion
goodly and pontifical, wherein without shame they flaunt it like peacocks in
the church, in the piazza, even as do the laity in their robes. And as the
fisherman casts his net into the stream with intent to take many fish at one
throw: so 'tis the main solicitude and study, art and craft of these friars
to embrace and entangle within the ample folds of their vast swelling skirts
beguines, widows and other foolish women, ay, and men likewise in great
number. Wherefore, to speak with more exactitude, the friars of to-day have
nought of the habit of the friar save only the colour thereof. And, whereas
the friars of old time sought to win men to their salvation, those of to-day
seek to win their women and their wealth; wherefore they have made it and
make it their sole concern by declamation and imagery to strike terror into
the souls of fools, and to make believe that sins are purged by alms and
masses; to the end that they, base wretches that have fled to friarage not
to ensue holiness but to escape hardship, may receive from this man bread,
from that man wine, and from the other man a donation for masses for the
souls of his dead. True indeed it is that sins are purged by almsgiving and
prayer; but, did they who give the alms know, did they but understand to
whom they give them, they would be more apt to keep them to themselves, or
throw them to so many pigs. And, knowing that the fewer be they that share
great riches, the greater their ease, 'tis the study of each how best by
declamation and intimidation to oust others from that whereof he would fain
be the sole owner. They censure lust in men, that, they turning therefrom,
the sole use of their women may remain to the censors: they condemn usury
and unlawful gains, that, being entrusted with the restitution thereof, they
may be able to enlarge their habits, and to purchase bishoprics and other
great preferments with the very money which they have made believe must
bring its possessor to perdition. And when they are taxed with these and
many other discreditable practices, they deem that there is no censure,
however grave, of which they may not be quit by their glib formula:--'Follow
our precepts, not our practice:' as if 'twere possible that the sheep should
be of a more austere and rigid virtue than the shepherds. And how many of
these, whom they put off with this formula, understand it not in the way in
which they enunciate it, not a few of them know. The friars of to-day would
have you follow their precepts, that is to say, they would have you fill
their purses with coin, confide to them your secrets, practise continence,
be longsuffering, forgive those that trespass against you, keep yourselves
from evil speaking; all which things are good, seemly, holy. But to what
end? To the end that they may be able to do that which, if the laity do it,
they will not be able to do. Who knows not that idleness cannot subsist
without money? Spend thy money on thy pleasures, and the friar will not be
able to live in sloth in his order. Go after women, and there will be no
place for the friar. Be not longsuffering, pardon not the wrong-doer, and
the friar will not dare to cross thy threshold to corrupt thy family. But
wherefore pursue I the topic through every detail? They accuse themselves as
often as they so excuse themselves in the hearing of all that have
understanding. Why seclude they not themselves, if they misdoubt their power
to lead continent and holy lives? Or if they must needs not live as
recluses, why follow they not that other holy text of the Gospel:--Christ
began to do and to teach?(1) Let them practise first, and school us with
their precepts afterwards. A thousand such have I seen in my day, admirers,
lovers, philanderers, not of ladies of the world alone, but of nuns; ay, and
they too such as made the most noise in the pulpits. Is it such as they that
we are to follow? He that does so, pleases himself; but God knows if he do
wisely. But assume that herein we must allow that your censor, the friar,
spoke truth, to wit, that none may break the marriage-vow without very grave
sin. What then? to rob a man, to slay him, to make of him an exile and a
wanderer on the face of the earth, are not these yet greater sins? None will
deny that so they are. A woman that indulges herself in the intimate use
with a man commits but a sin of nature; but if she rob him, or slay him, or
drive him out into exile, her sin proceeds from depravity of spirit. That
you did rob Tedaldo, I have already shewn you, in that, having of your own
free will become his, you reft you from him. I now go further and say that,
so far as in you lay, you slew him, seeing that, shewing yourself ever more
and more cruel, you did your utmost to drive him to take his own life; and
in the law's intent he that is the cause that wrong is done is as culpable
as he that does it. Nor is it deniable that you were the cause that for
seven years he has been an exile and a wanderer upon the face of the earth.
Wherefore upon each of the said three articles you are found guilty of a
greater crime than you committed by your intimacy with him. But consider we
the matter more closely: perchance Tedaldo merited such treatment: nay, but
assuredly 'twas not so. You have yourself so confessed: besides which I know
that he loves you more dearly than himself. He would laud, he would extol,
he would magnify you above all other ladies so as never was heard the like,
wheresoever 'twas seemly for him to speak of you, and it might be done
without exciting suspicion. All his bliss, all his honour, all his liberty
he avowed was entirely in your disposal. Was he not of noble birth? And for
beauty might he not compare with the rest of his townsfolk? Did he not excel
in all the exercises and accomplishments proper to youth? Was he not
beloved, held dear, well seen of all men? You will not deny it. How then
could you at the behest of a paltry friar, silly, brutish and envious, bring
yourself to deal with him in any harsh sort? I cannot estimate the error of
those ladies who look askance on men and hold them cheap; whereas,
bethinking them of what they are themselves, and what and how great is the
nobility with which God has endowed man above all the other animals, they
ought rather to glory in the love which men give them, and hold them most
dear, and with all zeal study to please them, that so their love may never
fail. In what sort you did so, instigated by the chatter of a friar, some
broth-guzzling, pastry-gorging knave without a doubt, you know; and
peradventure his purpose was but to instal himself in the place whence he
sought to oust another. This then is the sin which the Divine justice,
which, ever operative, suffers no perturbation of its even balance, or
arrest of judgment, has decreed not to leave unpunished: wherefore, as
without due cause you devised how you might despoil Tedaldo of yourself, so
without due cause your husband has been placed and is in jeopardy of his
life on Tedaldo's account, and to your sore affliction. Wherefrom if you
would be delivered, there is that which you must promise, ay, and (much
more) which you must perform: to wit, that, should it ever betide that
Tedaldo return hither from his long exile, you will restore to him your
favour, your love, your tender regard, your intimacy, and reinstate him in
the position which he held before you foolishly hearkened to the halfwitted

Thus ended the pilgrim; and the lady, who had followed him with the closest
attention, deeming all that he advanced very sound, and doubting not that
her tribulation was, as he said, in requital of her sin, spoke thus:--
"Friend of God, well I wot that the matters which you discourse are true,
and, thanks to your delineation, I now in great measure know what manner of
men are the friars, whom I have hitherto regarded as all alike holy; nor
doubt I that great was my fault in the course which I pursued towards
Tedaldo; and gladly, were it in my power, would I make reparation in the
manner which you have indicated. But how is this feasible? Tedaldo can never
return to us. He is dead. Wherefore I know not why I must needs give you a
promise which cannot be performed." "Madam," returned the pilgrim, "'tis
revealed to me by God that Tedaldo is by no means dead, but alive and well
and happy, so only he enjoyed your favour." "Nay, but," said the lady,
"speak advisedly; I saw his body done to death by more than one knife-wound;
I folded it in these arms, and drenched the dead face with many a tear;
whereby, perchance, I gave occasion for the bruit that has been made to my
disadvantage." "Say what you may, Madam," rejoined the pilgrim," I assure
you that Tedaldo lives, and if you will but give the promise, then, for its
fulfilment, I have good hope that you will soon see him." Whereupon: "I give
the promise," said the lady, "and right gladly will I make it good; nor is
there aught that might happen that would yield me such delight as to see my
husband free and scatheless, and Tedaldo alive." Tedaldo now deemed it wise
to make himself known, and establish the lady in a more sure hope of her
husband's safety. Wherefore he said:--"Madam, to set your mind at ease in
regard of your husband, I must first impart to you a secret, which be
mindful to disclose to none so long as you live." Then--for such was the
confidence which the lady reposed in the pilgrim's apparent sanctity that
they were by themselves in a place remote from observation--Tedaldo drew
forth a ring which he had guarded with the most jealous care, since it had
been given him by the lady on the last night when they were together, and
said, as he shewed it to her:--"Madam, know you this?" The lady recognized
it forthwith, and answered:--"I do, Sir; I gave it long ago to Tedaldo."
Then the pilgrim, rising and throwing off his sclavine(2) and hat, said with
the Florentine accent:--"And know you me?" The lady recognizing forthwith
the form and semblance of Tedaldo, was struck dumb with wonder and fear as
of a corpse that is seen to go about as if alive, and was much rather
disposed to turn and flee from Tedaldo returned from the tomb than to come
forward and welcome Tedaldo arrived from Cyprus. But when Tedaldo said to
her:--"Fear not, Madam, your Tedaldo am I, alive and well, nor was I ever
dead, whatever you and my brothers may think," the lady, partly awed, partly
reassured by his voice, regarded him with rather more attention, and inly
affirming that 'twas in very truth Tedaldo, threw herself upon his neck, and
wept, and kissed him, saying:--"Sweet my Tedaldo, welcome home." "Madam,"
replied Tedaldo after he had kissed and embraced her, "time serves not now
for greetings more intimate. 'Tis for me to be up and doing, that
Aldobrandino may be restored to you safe and sound; touching which matter
you will, I trust, before to-morrow at even hear tidings that will gladden
your heart; indeed I expect to have good news to-night, and, if so, will
come and tell it you, when I shall be less straitened than I am at present."
He then resumed his sclavine and hat, and having kissed the lady again, and
bade her be of good cheer, took his leave, and hied him to the prison, where
Aldobrandino lay more occupied with apprehension of imminent death than hope
of deliverance to come. As ministrant of consolation, he gained ready
admittance of the warders, and, seating himself by Aldobrandino's side, he
said:--"Aldobrandino, in me thou seest a friend sent thee by God, who is
touched with pity of thee by reason of thy innocence; wherefore, if in
reverent submission to Him thou wilt grant me a slight favour that I shall
ask of thee, without fail, before to-morrow at even, thou shalt, in lieu of
the doom of death that thou awaitest, hear thy acquittal pronounced."
"Worthy man," replied Aldobrandino, "I know thee not, nor mind I ever to
have seen thee; wherefore, as thou shewest thyself solicitous for my safety,
my friend indeed thou must needs be, even as thou sayst. And in sooth the
crime, for which they say I ought to be doomed to death, I never committed,
though others enough I have committed, which perchance have brought me to
this extremity. However, if so be that God has now pity on me, this I tell
thee in reverent submission to Him, that, whereas 'tis but a little thing
that thou cravest of me, there is nought, however great, but I would not
only promise but gladly do it; wherefore, even ask what thou wilt, and, if
so be that I escape, I will without fail keep my word to the letter." "Nay,"
returned the pilgrim, "I ask but this of thee, that thou pardon Tedaldo's
four brothers, that in the belief that thou wast guilty of their brother's
death they brought thee to this strait, and, so they ask thy forgiveness,
account them as thy brothers and friends." "How sweet," replied
Aldobrandino, "is the savour, how ardent the desire, of vengeance, none
knows but he that is wronged; but yet, so God may take thought for my
deliverance, I will gladly pardon, nay, I do now pardon them, and if I go
hence alive and free, I will thenceforth have them in such regard as shall
content thee." Satisfied with this answer, the pilgrim, without further
parley, heartily exhorted Aldobrandino to be of good cheer; assuring him
that, before the next day was done, he should be certified beyond all manner
of doubt of his deliverance; and so he left him.

On quitting the prison the pilgrim hied him forthwith to the signory, and
being closeted with a knight that was in charge, thus spoke:--"My lord, 'tis
the duty of all, and most especially of those who hold your place, zealously
to bestir themselves that the truth be brought to light, in order as well
that those bear not the penalty who have not committed the crime, as that
the guilty be punished. And that this may come to pass to your honour and
the undoing of the delinquent, I am come hither to you. You wot that you
have dealt rigorously with Aldobrandino Palermini, and have found, as you
think, that 'twas he that slew Tedaldo Elisei, and you are about to condemn
him; wherein you are most certainly in error, as I doubt not before midnight
to prove to you, delivering the murderers into your hands." The worthy
knight, who was not without pity for Aldobrandino, readily gave ear to the
pilgrim's words. He conversed at large with him, and availing himself of his
guidance, made an easy capture of the two brothers that kept the inn and
their servant in their first sleep. He was about to put them the torture, to
elicit the true state of the case, when, their courage failing, they
confessed without the least reserve, severally at first, and then jointly,
that 'twas they that had slain Tedaldo Elisei, not knowing who he was. Asked
for why, they answered that 'twas because he had sorely harassed the wife of
one of them, and would have constrained her to do his pleasure, while they
were out of doors. Whereof the pilgrim was no sooner apprised, than by leave
of the knight he withdrew, and hied him privily to the house of Madonna
Ermellina, whom (the rest of the household being gone to bed) he found
awaiting him alone, and equally anxious for good news of her husband and a
complete reconciliation with her Tedaldo. On entering, he blithely
exclaimed:--"Rejoice, dearest my lady, for thou mayst rest assured that
to-morrow thou shalt have thy Aldobrandino back here safe and sound;" and to
confirm her faith in his words, he told her all that he had done. Greater
joy was never woman's than hers of two such glad surprises; to wit, to have
Tedaldo with her alive again, whom she had wailed for verily dead, and to
know Aldobrandino, whom she had thought in no long time to wail for dead,
now out of jeopardy. Wherefore, when she had affectionately embraced and
kissed her Tedaldo, they hied them to bed together, and with hearty goodwill
made gracious and gladsome consummation of their peace by interchange of
sweet solace.

With the approach of day Tedaldo rose, and having first apprised the lady of
his purpose and enjoined her, as before, to keep it most secret, resumed his
pilgrim's habit, and sallied forth of her house, to be ready, as occasion
should serve, to act in Aldobrandino's interest. As soon as 'twas day, the
signory, deeming themselves amply conversant with the affair, set
Aldobrandino at large; and a few days later they caused the malefactors to
be beheaded in the place where they had done the murder.

Great was Aldobrandino's joy to find himself free, not less great was that
of his lady and all his friends and kinsfolk; and as 'twas through the
pilgrim that it had come about, they brought him to their house, there to
reside as long as he cared to tarry in the city; nor could they do him
honour and cheer enough, and most of all the lady, who knew her man. But
after awhile, seeing that his brothers were not only become a common
laughing-stock by reason of Aldobrandino's acquittal, but had armed
themselves for very fear, he felt that their reconciliation with him brooked
no delay, and accordingly craved of him performance of his promise.
Aldobrandino replied handsomely that it should be had at once. The pilgrim
then bade him arrange for the following day a grand banquet, at which he and
his kinsfolk and their ladies were to entertain the four brothers and their
ladies, adding that he would himself go forthwith as Aldobrandino's envoy,
and bid them welcome to his peace and banquet. All which being approved by
Aldobrandino, the pilgrim hied him with all speed to the four brothers, whom
by ample, apt and unanswerable argument he readily induced to reinstate
themselves in Aldobrandino's friendship by suing for his forgiveness: which
done, he bade them and their ladies to breakfast with Aldobrandino on the
morrow, and they, being assured of his good faith, were consenting to come.
So, on the morrow, at the breakfast hour, Tedaldo's four brothers, still
wearing their black, came with certain of their friends to Aldobrandino's
house, where he awaited them; and, in presence of the company that had been
bidden to meet them, laid down their arms, and made surrender to
Aldobrandino, asking his pardon of that which they had done against him.
Aldobrandino received them compassionately, wept, kissed each on the mouth,
and let few words suffice to remit each offence. After them came their
sisters and their wives, all habited sadly, and were graciously received by
Madonna Ermellina and the other ladies. The guests, men and women alike,
found all things ordered at the banquet with magnificence, nor aught unmeet
for commendation save the restraint which the yet recent grief, betokened by
the sombre garb of Tedaldo's kinsfolk, laid upon speech (wherein some had
found matter to except against the banquet and the pilgrim for devising it,
as he well knew), but, as he had premeditated, in due time, he stood up, the
others being occupied with their dessert, and spoke thus:--"Nothing is
wanting to complete the gaiety of this banquet except the presence of
Tedaldo; whom, as you have been long time with him and have not known him, I
will point out to you." So, having divested himself of his sclavine and
whatever else in his garb denoted the pilgrim, he remained habited in a
tunic of green taffeta, in which guise, so great was the wonder with which
all regarded him that, though they recognized him, 'twas long before any
dared to believe that 'twas actually Tedaldo. Marking their surprise,
Tedaldo told them not a little about themselves, their family connexions,
their recent history, and his own adventures. Whereat his brothers and the
rest of the men, all weeping for joy, hasted to embrace him, followed by the
women, as well those that were not, as those that were, of kin to him, save
only Madonna Ermellina. Which Aldobrandino observing, said:--"What is this,
Ermellina? How comes it that, unlike the other ladies, thou alone dost
Tedaldo no cheer?" "Cheer," replied the lady in the hearing of all, "would I
gladly do him such as no other woman has done or could do, seeing that I am
more beholden to him than any other woman, in that to him I owe it that I
have thee with me again; 'tis but the words spoken to my disadvantage, while
we mourned him that we deemed Tedaldo, that give me pause." "Now out upon
thee," said Aldobrandino, "thinkest thou that I heed the yelping of these
curs? His zeal for my deliverance has abundantly disproved it, besides which
I never believed it. Quick, get thee up, and go and embrace him." The lady,
who desired nothing better, was in this not slow to obey her husband; she
rose forthwith, and embraced Tedaldo as the other ladies had done, and did
him gladsome cheer. Tedaldo's brothers and all the company, men and women
alike, heartily approved Aldobrandino's handsomeness; and so whatever of
despite the rumour had engendered in the minds of any was done away. And,
now that all had done him cheer, Tedaldo with his own hands rent his
brothers' suits of black upon their backs, as also the sad-hued garments
which his sisters and sisters-in-law wore, and bade bring other apparel.
Which when they had donned, there was no lack of singing, dancing and other
sorts of merry-making; whereby the banquet, for all its subdued beginning,
had a sonorous close. Then, just as they were, in the blithest of spirits,
they hied them all to Tedaldo's house, where in the evening they supped; and
in this manner they held festival for several days.

'Twas some time before the Florentines ceased to look on Tedaldo as a
portent, as if he were risen from the dead; and a shadow of doubt whether he
were really Tedaldo or no continued to lurk in the minds of not a few,
including even his brothers: they had no assured belief; and in that frame
had perchance long continued, but for a casual occurrence that shewed them
who the murdered man was. It so befell that one day some men-at-arms from
Lunigiana passed by their house, and seeing Tedaldo accosted him, saying:--
"Good-morrow to thee, Faziuolo." To whom Tedaldo, in the presence of his
brothers, answered:--"You take me for another." Whereat they were abashed,
and asked his pardon, saying:--"Sooth to tell, you are liker than we ever
knew any man like to another to a comrade of ours, Faziuolo da Pontremoli by
name, who came hither a fortnight ago, or perhaps a little more, since when
we have not been able to learn what became of him. Most true it is that your
dress surprised us, because he, like ourselves, was a soldier." Whereupon
Tedaldo's eldest brother came forward, and asked how their comrade had been
accoutred. They told him, and 'twas found to have been exactly as they said:
by which and other evidence 'twas established that 'twas Faziuolo that had
been murdered, and not Tedaldo; of whom thenceforth no suspicion lurked in
the minds of his brothers or any one else.

So, then, Tedaldo returned home very rich, and remained constant in his
love; nor did the lady again treat him harshly; but, using discretion, they
long had mutual solace of their love. God grant us solace of ours.

(1) As pointed out by Mr. Payne, these words are not from any of the
Gospels, but from the first verse of the Acts of the Apostles. Boccaccio
doubtless used "Evangelio" in a large sense for the whole of the New

(2) Schiavina, Low Lat. sclavina, the long coarse frock worn, among others,
by palmers.


Ferondo, having taken a certain powder, is interred for dead; is disinterred
by the abbot, who enjoys his wife; is put in prison and taught to believe
that he is in purgatory; is then resuscitated, and rears as his own a boy
begotten by the abbot upon his wife.

Ended Emilia's long story, which to none was the less pleasing for its
length, but was deemed of all the ladies brief in regard of the number and
variety of the events therein recounted, a gesture of the queen sufficed to
convey her behest to Lauretta, and cause her thus to begin:--"Dearest
ladies, I have it in mind to tell you a true story, which wears far more of
the aspect of a lie than of that which it really was: 'tis brought to my
recollection by that which we have heard of one being bewailed and buried in
lieu of another. My story then is of one that, living, was buried for dead,
and after believed with many others that he came out of the tomb not as one
that had not died but as one risen from the dead; whereby he was venerated
as a saint who ought rather to have been condemned as a criminal."

Know then that there was and still is in Tuscany an abbey, situate, as we
see not a few, in a somewhat solitary spot, wherein the office of abbot was
held by a monk, who in all other matters ordered his life with great
sanctity, save only in the commerce with women, and therein knew so well how
to cloak his indulgence, that scarce any there were that so much as
suspected--not to say detected it--so holy and just was he reputed in all
matters. Now the abbot consorted much with a very wealthy contadino, Ferondo
by name, a man coarse and gross beyond measure, whose friendship the abbot
only cared for because of the opportunities which it afforded of deriving
amusement from his simplicity; and during their intercourse the abbot
discovered that Ferondo had a most beautiful wife of whom he became so hotly
enamoured that he could think of nought else either by day or by night. But
learning that, however simple and inept in all other matters, Ferondo shewed
excellent good sense in cherishing and watching over this wife of his, he
almost despaired. However, being very astute, he prevailed so far with
Ferondo, that he would sometimes bring his wife with him to take a little
recreation in the abbey-garden, where he discoursed to them with all
lowliness of the blessedness of life eternal, and the most pious works of
many men and women of times past, insomuch that the lady conceived a desire
to confess to him, and craved and had Ferondo's leave therefor. So, to the
abbot's boundless delight, the lady came and seated herself at his feet to
make her confession, whereto she prefixed the following exordium:--"If God,
Sir, had given me a husband, or had not permitted me to have one, perchance
'twould be easy for me, under your guidance, to enter the way, of which you
have spoken, that leads to life eternal. But, considering what manner of man
Ferondo is, and his stupidity, I may call myself a widow, while yet I am
married in that, so long as he lives, I may have no other husband; and he,
fool that he is, is without the least cause so inordinately jealous of me
that 'tis not possible but that my life with him be one of perpetual
tribulation and woe. Wherefore before I address myself to make further
confession, I in all humility beseech you to be pleased to give me some
counsel of this matter, for here or nowhere is to be found the source of the
amelioration of my life, and if it be not found, neither confession nor any
other good work will be of any avail." The abbot was overjoyed to hear her
thus speak, deeming that Fortune had opened a way to the fulfilment of his
hearts desire. Wherefore he said:--"My daughter, I doubt not that 'tis a
great affliction to a lady, fair and delicate as you are, to have a fool for
a husband, and still more so he should be jealous: and as your husband is
both the one and the other, I readily credit what you say of your
tribulation. But, to come to the point, I see no resource or remedy in this
case, save this only, that Ferondo be cured of his jealousy. The medicine
that shall cure him I know very well how to devise, but it behoves you to
keep secret what I am about to tell you." "Doubt not of it, my father," said
the lady; "for I had rather suffer death than tell any aught that you
forbade me to tell. But the medicine, how is it to be devised?" "If we would
have him cured," replied the abbot, "it can only be by his going to
purgatory." "And how may that be?" returned the lady; "can he go thither
while he yet lives?" "He must die," answered the abbot; "and so he will go
thither; and when he has suffered pain enough to be cured of his jealousy,
we have certain prayers with which we will supplicate God to restore him to
life, and He will do so." "Then," said the lady; "am I to remain a widow?"
"Yes," replied the abbot, "for a certain time, during which you must be very
careful not to let yourself be married to another, because 'twould offend
God, and when Ferondo was restored to life, you would have to go back to
him, and he would be more jealous than ever." "Be it so then," said the
lady; "if he be but cured of his jealousy, and so I be not doomed to pass
the rest of my days in prison, I shall be content: do as you think best."
"And so will I," said the abbot; "but what reward shall I have for such a
service?" "My father," said the lady, "what you please; so only it be in my
power. But what may the like of me do that may be acceptable to a man such
as you?" "Madam," replied the abbot, "'tis in your power to do no less for
me than I am about to do for you: as that which I am minded to do will
ensure your comfort and consolation, so there is that which you may do which
will be the deliverance and salvation of my life." "If so it be," said the
lady, "I shall not be found wanting." "In that case," said the abbot, "you
will give me your love, and gratify my passion for you, with which I am all
afire and wasting away." Whereto the lady, all consternation, replied:--
"Alas! my father, what is this you crave? I took you for a holy man; now
does it beseem holy men to make such overtures to ladies that come to them
for counsel?" "Marvel not, fair my soul," returned the abbot; "hereby is my
holiness in no wise diminished, for holiness resides in the soul, and this
which I ask of you is but a sin of the flesh. But, however it may be, such
is the might of your bewitching beauty, that love constrains me thus to act.
And, let me tell you, good cause have you to vaunt you of your beauty more
than other women, in that it delights the saints, who are used to
contemplate celestial beauties; whereto I may add that, albeit I am an
abbot, yet I am a man even as others, and, as you see, not yet old. Nor need
this matter seem formidable to you, but rather to be anticipated with
pleasure, for, while Ferondo is in purgatory, I shall be your nightly
companion, and will give you such solace as he should have given you; nor
will it ever be discovered by any, for all think of me even as you did a
while ago, or even more so. Reject not the grace that God accords you; for
'tis in your power to have, and, if you are wise and follow my advice, you
shall have that which women not a few desire in vain to have. And moreover I
have jewels fair and rare, which I am minded shall be yours and none
other's. Wherefore, sweet my hope, deny me not due guerdon of the service
which I gladly render you."

The lady, her eyes still downcast, knew not how to deny him, and yet
scrupled to gratify him: wherefore the abbot, seeing that she had hearkened
and hesitated to answer, deemed that she was already half won, and following
up what he had said with much more to the like effect, did not rest until he
had persuaded her that she would do well to comply: and so with some
confusion she told him that she was ready to obey his every behest; but it
might not be until Ferondo was in purgatory. The abbot, well content,
replied:--"And we will send him thither forthwith: do but arrange that he
come hither to stay with me to-morrow or the day after." Which said, he
slipped a most beautiful ring on her finger, and dismissed her. Pleased with
the gift, and expecting more to come, the lady rejoined her attendants, with
whom she forthwith fell a talking marvellous things of the abbot's sanctity,
and so went home with them.

Some few days after, Ferondo being come to the abbey, the abbot no sooner
saw him than he resolved to send him to purgatory. So he selected from among
his drugs a powder of marvellous virtue, which he had gotten in the Levant
from a great prince, who averred that 'twas wont to be used by the Old Man
of the Mountain, when he would send any one to or bring him from his
paradise, and that, without doing the recipient any harm, 'twould induce in
him, according to the quantity of the dose, a sleep of such duration and
quality that, while the efficacy of the powder lasted, none would deem him
to be alive.(1) Whereof he took enough to cause a three days' sleep, and
gave it to Ferondo in his cell in a beaker that had still some wine in it,
so that he drank it unwittingly: after which he took Ferondo to the
cloister, and there with some of his monks fell to making merry with him and
his ineptitudes. In no long time, however, the powder so wrought, that
Ferondo was seized in the head with a fit of somnolence so sudden and
violent that he slept as he stood, and sleeping fell to the ground. The
abbot put on an agitated air, caused him to be untrussed, sent for cold
water, and had it sprinkled on his face, and applied such other remedies as
if he would fain call back life and sense banished by vapours of the
stomach, or some other intrusive force; but, as, for all that he and his
monks did, Ferondo did not revive, they, after feeling his pulse and finding
there no sign of life, one and all pronounced him certainly dead. Wherefore
they sent word to his wife and kinsfolk, who came forthwith, and mourned a
while; after which Ferondo in his clothes was by the abbot's order laid in a
tomb. The lady went home, saying that nothing should ever part her from a
little son that she had borne Ferondo; and so she occupied herself with the
care of her son and Ferondo's estate. At night the abbot rose noiselessly,
and with the help of a Bolognese monk, in whom he reposed much trust, and
who was that very day arrived from Bologna, got Ferondo out of the tomb, and
bore him to a vault, which admitted no light, having been made to serve as a
prison for delinquent monks; and having stripped him of his clothes, and
habited him as a monk, they laid him on a truss of straw, and left him there
until he should revive. Expecting which event, and instructed by the abbot
how he was then to act, the Bolognese monk (none else knowing aught of what
was afoot) kept watch by the tomb.

The day after, the abbot with some of his monks paid a pastoral visit to the
lady's house, where he found her in mourning weeds and sad at heart; and,
after administering a little consolation, he gently asked her to redeem her
promise. Free as she now felt herself, and hampered neither by Ferondo nor
by any other, the lady, who had noticed another beautiful ring on the
abbot's finger, promised immediate compliance, and arranged with the abbot
that he should visit her the very next night. So, at nightfall, the abbot
donned Ferondo's clothes, and, attended by his monk, paid his visit, and lay
with her until matins to his immense delight and solace, and so returned to
the abbey; and many visits he paid her on the same errand; whereby some that
met him, coming or going that way, supposed that 'twas Ferondo perambulating
those parts by way of penance; and fables not a few passed from mouth to
mouth of the foolish rustics, and sometimes reached the ears of the lady,
who was at no loss to account for them.

As for Ferondo, when he revived, 'twas only to find himself he knew not
where, while the Bolognese monk entered the tomb, gibbering horribly, and
armed with a rod, wherewith, having laid hold of Ferondo, he gave him a
severe thrashing. Blubbering and bellowing for pain, Ferondo could only
ejaculate:--"Where am I?" "In purgatory," replied the monk. "How?" returned
Ferondo, "am I dead then?" and the monk assuring him that 'twas even so, he
fell a bewailing his own and his lady's and his son's fate, after the most
ridiculous fashion in the world. The monk brought him somewhat to eat and
drink. Of which when Ferondo caught sight, "Oh!" said he, "dead folk eat
then, do they?" "They do," replied the monk, "And this, which I bring thee,
is what the lady that was thy wife sent this morning to the church by way of
alms for masses for thy soul; and God is minded that it be assigned to
thee." "Now God grant her a happy year," said Ferondo; "dearly I loved her
while I yet lived, and would hold her all night long in my arms, and cease
not to kiss her, ay, and would do yet more to her, when I was so minded."
Whereupon he fell to eating and drinking with great avidity, and finding the
wine not much to his taste, he said:--"Now God do her a mischief! Why gave
she not the priest of the wine that is in the cask by the wall?" When he had
done eating, the monk laid hold of him again, and gave him another sound
thrashing with the rod. Ferondo bellowed mightily, and then cried out:--
"Alas! why servest thou me so?" "God," answered the monk, "has decreed that
thou be so served twice a day." "For why?" said Ferondo. "Because," returned
the monk, "thou wast jealous, notwithstanding thou hadst to wife a woman
that has not her peer in thy countryside." "Alas," said Ferondo, "she was
indeed all that thou sayst, ay, and the sweetest creature too,--no comfit so
honeyed--but I knew not that God took it amiss that a man should be jealous,
or I had not been so." "Of that," replied the monk, "thou shouldst have
bethought thee while thou wast there, and have amended thy ways; and should
it fall to thy lot ever to return thither, be sure that thou so lay to heart
the lesson that I now give thee, that thou be no more jealous." "Oh!" said
Ferondo; "dead folk sometimes return to earth, do they?" "They do," replied
the monk; "if God so will." "Oh!" said Ferondo; "if I ever return, I will be
the best husband in the world; never will I beat her or scold her, save for
the wine that she has sent me this morning, and also for sending me never a
candle, so that I have had perforce to eat in the dark." "Nay," said the
monk, "she sent them, but they were burned at the masses." "Oh!" said
Ferondo, "I doubt not you say true; and, of a surety, if I ever return, I
will let her do just as she likes. But tell me, who art thou that entreatest
me thus?" "Late of Sardinia I," answered the monk, "dead too; and, for that
I gave my lord much countenance in his jealousy, doomed by God for my proper
penance to entreat thee thus with food and drink and thrashings, until such
time as He may ordain otherwise touching thee and me." "And are we two the
only folk here?" inquired Ferondo. "Nay, there are thousands beside,"
answered the monk; "but thou canst neither see nor hear them, nor they
thee." "And how far," said Ferondo, "may we be from our country?" "Oh! ho!"
returned the monk, "why, 'tis some miles clean out of shitrange." "I'faith,"
said Ferondo, "that is far indeed: methinks we must be out of the world."

In such a course, alternately beaten, fed and amused with idle tales, was
Ferondo kept for ten months, while the abbot, to his great felicity, paid
many a visit to the fair lady, and had the jolliest time in the world with
her. But, as misfortunes will happen, the lady conceived, which fact, as
soon as she was aware of it, she imparted to the abbot; whereupon both
agreed that Ferondo must without delay be brought back from purgatory to
earth and her, and be given to understand that she was with child of him. So
the very next night the abbot went to the prison, and in a disguised voice
pronounced Ferondo's name, and said to him:--"Ferondo, be of good cheer, for
God is minded that thou return to earth; and on thy return thou shalt have a
son by thy lady, and thou shalt call him Benedetto; because 'tis in answer
to the prayers of thy holy abbot and thy lady, and for love of St. Benedict,
that God accords thee this grace." Whereat Ferondo was overjoyed, and said:-
-"It likes me well. God give a good year to Master Lord God, and the abbot,
and St. Benedict, and my cheese-powdered, honey-sweet wife." Then, in the
wine that he sent him, the abbot administered enough of the powder to cause
him to sleep for four hours; and so, with the aid of the monk, having first
habited him in his proper clothes, he privily conveyed him back to the tomb
in which he had been buried. On the morrow at daybreak Ferondo revived, and
perceiving through a chink in the tomb a glimmer of light, to which he had
been a stranger for full ten months, he knew that he was alive, and began to
bellow:--"Let me out, let me out:" then, setting his head to the lid of the
tomb, he heaved amain; whereby the lid, being insecure, started; and he was
already thrusting it aside, when the monks, matins being now ended, ran to
the spot and recognized Ferondo's voice, and saw him issue from the tomb; by
which unwonted event they were all so affrighted that they took to flight,
and hied them to the abbot: who, rising as if from prayer, said:--"Sons, be
not afraid; take the cross and the holy water, and follow me, and let us see
what sign of His might God will vouchsafe us." And so he led the way to the
tomb; beside which they found Ferondo, standing, deathly pale by reason of
his long estrangement from the light. On sight of the abbot he ran and threw
himself at his feet, saying:--"My father, it has been revealed to me that
'tis to your prayers and those of St. Benedict and my lady that I owe my
release from purgatorial pain, and restoration to life; wherefore 'tis my
prayer that God give you a good year and good calends, to-day and all days."
"Laud we the power of God!" said the abbot. "Go then, son, as God has
restored thee to earth, comfort thy wife, who, since thou didst depart this
life, has been ever in tears, and mayst thou live henceforth in the love and
service of God." "Sir," answered Ferondo, "'tis well said; and, for the
doing, trust me that, as soon as I find her, I shall kiss her, such is the
love I bear her." So saying, he went his way; and the abbot, left alone with
his monks, made as if he marvelled greatly at the affair, and caused
devoutly chant the Miserere. So Ferondo returned to his hamlet, where all
that saw him fleeing, as folk are wont to flee from spectacles of horror, he
called them back, asseverating that he was risen from the tomb. His wife at
first was no less timorous: but, as folk began to take heart of grace,
perceiving that he was alive, they plied him with many questions, all which
he answered as one that had returned with ripe experience, and gave them
tidings of the souls of their kinsfolk, and told of his own invention the
prettiest fables of the purgatorial state, and in full folkmoot recounted
the revelation vouchsafed him by the mouth of Ragnolo Braghiello(2) before
his resuscitation.

Thus was Ferondo reinstated in his property and reunited to his wife, who,
being pregnant, as he thought, by himself, chanced by the time of her
delivery to countenance the vulgar error that the woman must bear the infant
in the womb for exactly nine months, and gave birth to a male child, who was
named Benedetto Ferondi. Ferondo's return from purgatory, and the report he
brought thence, immeasurably enhanced the fame of the abbot's holiness. So
Ferondo, cured of his jealousy by the thrashings which he had gotten for it,
verified the abbot's prediction, and never offended the lady again in that
sort. Wherefore she lived with him, as before, in all outward seemliness;
albeit she failed not, as occasion served, to forgather with the holy abbot,
who had so well and sedulously served her in her especial need.

(1) By the Old Man of the Mountain is meant the head of the confraternity of
hashish-eaters (Assassins), whose chief stronghold was at Alamut in Persia
(1090-1256). Cf. Marco Polo, ed. Yule, I. cap. xxiii.

(2) Derisively for Agnolo Gabriello (the h having merely the effect of
preserving the hardness of the g before i), i. e. Angel Gabriel.


Gillette of Narbonne cures the King of France of a fistula, craves for
spouse Bertrand de Roussillon, who marries her against his will, and hies
him in despite to Florence, where, as he courts a young woman, Gillette lies
with him in her stead, and has two sons by him; for which cause he
afterwards takes her into favour and entreats her as his wife.

Lauretta's story being ended, and the queen being minded not to break her
engagement with Dioneo, 'twas now her turn to speak. Wherefore without
awaiting the call of her subjects, thus with mien most gracious she began:--
Now that we have heard Lauretta's story, who shall tell any to compare with
it for beauty? Lucky indeed was it that she was not the first; for few that
followed would have pleased; and so, I misdoubt me, 'twill fare ill with
those that remain to complete the day's narration. However, for what it may
be worth, I will tell you a story which seems to me germane to our theme.

Know, then, that in the realm of France there was a gentleman, Isnard, Comte
de Roussillon, by name, who, being in ill-health, kept ever in attendance on
him a physician, one Master Gerard of Narbonne. The said Count had an only
son named Bertrand, a very fine and winsome little lad; with whom were
brought up other children of his own age, among them the said physician's
little daughter Gillette; who with a love boundless and ardent out of all
keeping with her tender years became enamoured of this Bertrand. And so,
when the Count died, and his son, being left a ward of the King, must needs
go to Paris, the girl remained beside herself with grief, and, her father
dying soon after, would gladly have gone to Paris to see Bertrand, might she
but have found a fair excuse; but no decent pretext could she come by, being
left a great and sole heiress and very closely guarded. So being come of
marriageable age, still cherishing Bertrand's memory, she rejected not a few
suitors, to whom her kinsfolk would fain have married her, without assigning
any reason.

Now her passion waxing ever more ardent for Bertrand, as she learned that he
was grown a most goodly gallant, tidings reached her that the King of
France, in consequence of a tumour which he had had in the breast, and which
had been ill tended, was now troubled with a fistula, which occasioned him
extreme distress and suffering; nor had he as yet come by a physician that
was able, though many had essayed, to cure him, but had rather grown worse
under their hands; wherefore in despair he was minded no more to have
recourse to any for counsel or aid. Whereat the damsel was overjoyed,
deeming not only that she might find therein lawful occasion to go to Paris,
but, that, if the disease was what she took it to be, it might well betide
that she should be wedded to Bertrand. So--for not a little knowledge had
she gotten from her father--she prepared a powder from certain herbs
serviceable in the treatment of the supposed disease, and straightway took
horse, and hied her to Paris. Arrived there she made it her first concern to
have sight of Bertrand; and then, having obtained access to the King, she
besought him of his grace to shew her his disease. The King knew not how to
refuse so young, fair and winsome a damsel, and let her see the place.
Whereupon, no longer doubting that she should cure him, she said:--"Sire, so
please you, I hope in God to cure you of this malady within eight days
without causing you the least distress or discomfort." The King inly scoffed
at her words, saying to himself:--"How should a damsel have come by a
knowledge and skill that the greatest physicians in the world do not
possess?" He therefore graciously acknowledged her good intention, and
answered that he had resolved no more to follow advice of physician. "Sire,"
said the damsel, "you disdain my art, because I am young and a woman; but I
bid you bear in mind that I rely not on my own skill, but on the help of
God, and the skill of Master Gerard of Narbonne, my father, and a famous
physician in his day." Whereupon the King said to himself:--"Perchance she
is sent me by God; why put I not her skill to the proof, seeing that she
says that she can cure me in a short time, and cause me no distress?" And
being minded to make the experiment, he said:--"Damsel, and if, having
caused me to cancel my resolve, you should fail to cure me, what are you
content should ensue?" "Sire," answered the damsel, "set a guard upon me;
and if within eight days I cure you not, have me burned; but if I cure you,
what shall be my guerdon?" "You seem," said the King, "to be yet unmarried;
if you shall effect the cure, we will marry you well and in high place."
"Sire," returned the damsel, "well content indeed am I that you should marry
me, so it be to such a husband as I shall ask of you, save that I may not
ask any of your sons or any other member of the royal house." Whereto the
King forthwith consented, and the damsel, thereupon applying her treatment,
restored him to health before the period assigned. Wherefore, as soon as the
King knew that he was cured:--"Damsel," said he, "well have you won your
husband." She, answered:--"In that case, Sire, I have won Bertrand de
Roussillon, of whom, while yet a child, I was enamoured, and whom I have
ever since most ardently loved." To give her Bertrand seemed to the King no
small matter; but, having pledged his word, he would not break it: so he
sent for Bertrand, and said to him:--"Bertrand, you are now come to man's
estate, and fully equipped to enter on it; 'tis therefore our will that you
go back and assume the governance of your county, and that you take with you
a damsel, whom we have given you to wife." "And who is the damsel, Sire?"
said Bertrand. "She it is," answered the King, "that has restored us to
health by her physic." Now Bertrand, knowing Gillette, and that her lineage
was not such as matched his nobility, albeit, seeing her, he had found her
very fair, was overcome with disdain, and answered:--"So, Sire, you would
fain give me a she-doctor to wife. Now God forbid that I should ever marry
any such woman." "Then," said the King, "you would have us fail of the faith
which we pledged to the damsel, who asked you in marriage by way of guerdon
for our restoration to health." "Sire," said Bertrand, "you may take from me
all that I possess, and give me as your man to whomsoever you may be minded;
but rest assured that I shall never be satisfied with such a match." "Nay,
but you will," replied the King; "for the damsel is fair and discreet, and
loves you well; wherefore we anticipate that you will live far more happily
with her than with a dame of much higher lineage." Bertrand was silent; and
the King made great preparations for the celebration of the nuptials. The
appointed day came, and Bertrand, albeit reluctantly, nevertheless complied,
and in the presence of the King was wedded to the damsel, who loved him more
dearly than herself. Which done, Bertrand, who had already taken his
resolution, said that he was minded to go down to his county, there to
consummate the marriage; and so, having craved and had leave of absence of
the King, he took horse, but instead of returning to his county he hied him
to Tuscany; where, finding the Florentines at war with the Sienese, he
determined to take service with the Florentines, and being made heartily and
honourably welcome, was appointed to the command of part of their forces, at
a liberal stipend, and so remained in their service for a long while.
Distressed by this turn of fortune, and hoping by her wise management to
bring Bertrand back to his county, the bride hied her to Roussillon, where
she was received by all the tenants as their liege lady. She found that,
during the long absence of the lord, everything had fallen into decay and
disorder; which, being a capable woman, she rectified with great and
sedulous care, to the great joy of the tenants, who held her in great esteem
and love, and severely censured the Count, that he was not satisfied with
her. When the lady had duly ordered all things in the county, she despatched
two knights to the Count with the intelligence, praying him, that, if 'twas
on her account that he came not home, he would so inform her; in which case
she would gratify him by departing. To whom with all harshness he
replied:--"She may even please herself in the matter. For my part I will go
home and live with her, when she has this ring on her finger and a son
gotten of me upon her arm." The ring was one which he greatly prized, and
never removed from his finger, by reason of a virtue which he had been given
to understand that it possessed. The knights appreciated the harshness of a
condition which contained two articles, both of which were all but
impossible; and, seeing that by no words of theirs could they alter his
resolve, they returned to the lady, and delivered his message. Sorely
distressed, the lady after long pondering determined to try how and where
the two conditions might be satisfied, that so her husband might be hers
again. Having formed her plan, she assembled certain of the more
considerable and notable men of the county, to whom she gave a consecutive
and most touching narrative of all that she had done for love of the Count,
with the result; concluding by saying that she was not minded to tarry there
to the Count's perpetual exile, but to pass the rest of her days in
pilgrimages and pious works for the good of her soul: wherefore she prayed
them to undertake the defence and governance of the county, and to inform
the Count that she had made entire and absolute cession of it to him, and
was gone away with the intention of never more returning to Roussillon. As
she spoke, tears not a few coursed down the cheeks of the honest men, and
again and again they besought her to change her mind, and stay. All in vain,
however; she commended them to God, and, accompanied only by one of her male
cousins and a chambermaid (all three habited as pilgrims and amply provided
with money and precious jewels), she took the road, nor tarried until she
was arrived at Florence. There she lodged in a little inn kept by a good
woman that was a widow, bearing herself lowly as a poor pilgrim, and eagerly
expectant of news of her lord.

Now it so befell that the very next day she saw Bertrand pass in front of
the inn on horseback at the head of his company; and though she knew him
very well, nevertheless she asked the good woman of the inn who he was. The
hostess replied:--"'Tis a foreign gentleman--Count Bertrand they call him--a
very pleasant gentleman, and courteous, and much beloved in this city; and
he is in the last degree enamoured of one of our neighbours here, who is a
gentlewoman, but in poor circumstances. A very virtuous damsel she is too,
and, being as yet unmarried by reason of her poverty, she lives with her
mother, who is an excellent and most discreet lady, but for whom, perchance,
she would before now have yielded and gratified the Count's desire." No word
of this was lost on the lady; she pondered and meditated every detail with
the closest attention, and having laid it all to heart, took her resolution:
she ascertained the names and abode of the lady and her daughter that the
Count loved, and hied her one day privily, wearing her pilgrim's weeds, to
their house, where she found the lady and her daughter in very evident
poverty, and after greeting them, told the lady that, if it were agreeable
to her, she would speak with her. The gentlewoman rose and signified her
willingness to listen to what she had to say; so they went into a room by
themselves and sate down, and then the Countess began thus:--"Madam,
methinks you are, as I am, under Fortune's frown; but perchance you have it
in your power, if you are so minded, to afford solace to both of us." The
lady answered that, so she might honourably find it, solace indeed was what
she craved most of all things in the world. Whereupon the Countess
continued:--"I must first be assured of your faith, wherein if I confide and
am deceived, the interests of both of us will suffer." "Have no fear," said
the gentlewoman, "speak your whole mind without reserve, for you will find
that there is no deceit in me." So the Countess told who she was, and the
whole course of her love affair, from its commencement to that hour, on such
wise that the gentlewoman, believing her story the more readily that she had
already heard it in part from others, was touched with compassion for her.
The narrative of her woes complete, the Countess added:--"Now that you have
heard my misfortunes, you know the two conditions that I must fulfil, if I
would come by my husband; nor know I any other person than you, that may
enable me to fulfil them; but so you may, if this which I hear is true, to
wit, that my husband is in the last degree enamoured of your daughter."
"Madam," replied the gentlewoman, "I know not if the Count loves my
daughter, but true it is that he makes great shew of loving her; but how may
this enable me to do aught for you in the matter that you have at heart?"
"The how, madam," returned the Countess, "I will shortly explain to you; but
you shall first hear what I intend shall ensue, if you serve me. Your
daughter, I see, is fair and of marriageable age, and, by what I have
learned and may well understand, 'tis because you have not the wherewith to
marry her that you keep her at home. Now, in recompense of the service that
you shall do me, I mean to provide her forthwith from my own moneys with
such a dowry as you yourself shall deem adequate for her marriage." The lady
was too needy not to be gratified by the proposal; but, nevertheless, with
the true spirit of the gentlewoman, she answered:--"Nay but, madam, tell me
that which I may do for you, and if it shall be such as I may honourably do,
gladly will I do it, and then you shall do as you may be minded." Said then
the Countess:--"I require of you, that through some one in whom you trust
you send word to the Count, my husband, that your daughter is ready to yield
herself entirely to his will, so she may be sure that he loves her even as
he professes; whereof she will never be convinced, until he send her the
ring which he wears on his finger, and which, she understands, he prizes so
much: which, being sent, you shall give to me, and shall then send him word
that your daughter is ready to do his pleasure, and, having brought him
hither secretly, you shall contrive that I lie by his side instead of your
daughter. Perchance, by God's grace I shall conceive, and so, having his
ring on my finger, and a son gotten of him on my arm, shall have him for my
own again, and live with him even as a wife should live with her husband,
and owe it all to you."

The lady felt that 'twas not a little that the Countess craved of her, for
she feared lest it should bring reproach upon her daughter: but she
reflected that to aid the good lady to recover her husband was an honourable
enterprise, and that in undertaking it she would be subserving a like end;
and so, trusting in the good and virtuous disposition of the Countess, she
not only promised to do as she was required, but in no long time, proceeding
with caution and secrecy, as she had been bidden, she both had the ring from
the Count, loath though he was to part with it, and cunningly contrived that
the Countess should lie with him in place of her daughter. In which first
commingling, so ardently sought by the Count, it so pleased God that the
lady was gotten, as in due time her delivery made manifest, with two sons.
Nor once only, but many times did the lady gratify the Countess with the
embraces of her husband, using such secrecy that no word thereof ever got
wind, the Count all the while supposing that he lay, not with his wife, but
with her that he loved, and being wont to give her, as he left her in the
morning, some fair and rare jewel, which she jealously guarded.

When she perceived that she was with child, the Countess, being minded no
more to burden the lady with such service, said to her:--"Madam, thanks be
to God and to you, I now have that which I desired, and therefore 'tis time
that I make you grateful requital, and take my leave of you." The lady
answered that she was glad if the Countess had gotten aught that gave her
joy; but that 'twas not as hoping to have guerdon thereof that she had done
her part, but simply because she deemed it meet and her duty so to do. "Well
said, madam," returned the Countess, "and in like manner that which you
shall ask of me I shall not give you by way of guerdon, but because I deem
it meet and my duty to give it." Whereupon the lady, yielding to necessity,
and abashed beyond measure, asked of her a hundred pounds wherewith to marry
her daughter. The Countess, marking her embarrassment, and the modesty of
her request, gave her five hundred pounds besides jewels fair and rare,
worth, perhaps, no less; and having thus much more than contented her, and
received her superabundant thanks, she took leave of her and returned to the
inn. The lady, to render purposeless further visits or messages on
Bertrand's part, withdrew with her daughter to the house of her kinsfolk in
the country; nor was it long before Bertrand, on the urgent entreaty of his
vassals and intelligence of the departure of his wife, quitted Florence and
returned home. Greatly elated by this intelligence, the Countess tarried
awhile in Florence, and was there delivered of two sons as like as possible
to their father, whom she nurtured with sedulous care. But by and by she saw
fit to take the road, and being come, unrecognized by any, to Montpellier,
rested there a few days; and being on the alert for news of the Count and
where he was, she learned that on All Saints' day he was to hold a great
reception of ladies and gentlemen at Roussillon. Whither, retaining her now
wonted pilgrim's weeds, she hied her, and finding that the ladies and
gentlemen were all gathered in the Count's palace and on the point of going
to table, she tarried not to change her dress, but went up into the hall,
bearing her little ones in her arms, and threading her way through the
throng to the place where she saw the Count stand, she threw herself at his
feet, and sobbing, said to him:--"My lord, thy hapless bride am I, who to
ensure thy homecoming and abidance in peace have long time been a wanderer,
and now demand of thee observance of the condition whereof word was brought
me by the two knights whom I sent to thee. Lo in my arms not one son only
but twain, gotten of thee, and on my finger thy ring. 'Tis time, then, that
I be received of thee as thy wife according to thy word." Whereat the Count
was all dumfounded, recognizing the ring and his own lineaments in the
children, so like were they to him; but saying to himself nevertheless:--
"How can it have come about?" So the Countess, while the Count and all that
were present marvelled exceedingly, told what had happened, and the manner
of it, in precise detail. Wherefore the Count, perceiving that she spoke
truth, and having regard to her perseverance and address and her two fine
boys, and the wishes of all his vassals and the ladies, who with one accord
besought him to own and honour her thenceforth as his lawful bride, laid
aside his harsh obduracy, and raised the Countess to her feet, and embraced
and kissed her, and acknowledged her for his lawful wife, and the children
for his own. Then, having caused her to be rearrayed in garments befitting
her rank, he, to the boundless delight of as many as were there, and of all
other his vassals, gave up that day and some that followed to feasting and
merrymaking; and did ever thenceforth honour, love and most tenderly cherish
her as his bride and wife.


Alibech turns hermit, and is taught by Rustico, a monk, how the Devil is put
in hell. She is afterwards conveyed thence, and becomes the wife of

Dioneo, observing that the queen's story, which he had followed with the
closest attention, was now ended, and that it only remained for him to
speak, waited not to be bidden, but smilingly thus began:--

Gracious ladies, perchance you have not yet heard how the Devil is put in
hell; wherefore, without deviating far from the topic of which you have
discoursed throughout the day, I will tell you how 'tis done; it may be the
lesson will prove inspiring; besides which, you may learn therefrom that,
albeit Love prefers the gay palace and the dainty chamber to the rude cabin,
yet, for all that, he may at times manifest his might in wilds matted with
forests, rugged with alps, and desolate with caverns: whereby it may be
understood that all things are subject to his sway. But--to come to my
story--I say that in the city of Capsa(1) in Barbary there was once a very
rich man, who with other children had a fair and dainty little daughter,
Alibech by name. Now Alibech, not being a Christian, and hearing many
Christians, that were in the city, speak much in praise of the Christian
Faith and the service of God, did one day inquire of one of them after what
fashion it were possible to serve God with as few impediments as might be,
and was informed that they served God best who most completely renounced the
world and its affairs; like those who had fixed their abode in the wilds of
the Thebaid desert. Whereupon, actuated by no sober predilection, but by
childish impulse, the girl, who was very simple and about fourteen years of
age, said never a word more of the matter, but stole away on the morrow, and
quite alone set out to walk to the Thebaid desert; and, by force of
resolution, albeit with no small suffering, she after some days reached
those wilds; where, espying a cabin a great way off, she hied her thither,
and found a holy man by the door, who, marvelling to see her there, asked
her what she came there to seek. She answered that, guided by the spirit of
God, she was come thither, seeking, if haply she might serve Him, and also
find some one that might teach her how He ought to be served. Marking her
youth and great beauty, the worthy man, fearing lest, if he suffered her to
remain with him, he should be ensnared by the Devil, commended her good
intention, set before her a frugal repast of roots of herbs, crab-apples and
dates, with a little water to wash them down, and said to her:--"My
daughter, there is a holy man not far from here, who is much better able to
teach thee that of which thou art in quest than I am; go to him, therefore;"
and he shewed her the way. But when she was come whither she was directed,
she met with the same answer as before, and so, setting forth again, she
came at length to the cell of a young hermit, a worthy man and very devout--
his name Rustico--whom she interrogated as she had the others. Rustico,
being minded to make severe trial of his constancy, did not send her away,
as the others had done, but kept her with him in his cell, and when night
came, made her a little bed of palm-leaves; whereon he bade her compose
herself to sleep. Hardly had she done so before the solicitations of the
flesh joined battle with the powers of Rustico's spirit, and he, finding
himself left in the lurch by the latter, endured not many assaults before he
beat a retreat, and surrendered at discretion: wherefore he bade adieu to
holy meditation and prayer and discipline, and fell a musing on the youth
and beauty of his companion, and also how he might so order his conversation
with her, that without seeming to her to be a libertine he might yet compass
that which he craved of her. So, probing her by certain questions, he
discovered that she was as yet entirely without cognizance of man, and as
simple as she seemed: wherefore he excogitated a plan for bringing her to
pleasure him under colour of serving God. He began by giving her a long
lecture on the great enmity that subsists between God and the Devil; after
which he gave her to understand that, God having condemned the Devil to
hell, to put him there was of all services the most acceptable to God. The
girl asking him how it might be done, Rustico answered:--"Thou shalt know it
in a trice; thou hast but to do that which thou seest me do." Then, having
divested himself of his scanty clothing, he threw himself stark naked on his
knees, as if he would pray; whereby he caused the girl, who followed his
example, to confront him in the same posture. Whereupon Rustico, seeing her
so fair, felt an accession of desire, and therewith came an insurgence of
the flesh, which Alibech marking with surprise, said:--"Rustico, what is
this, which I see thee have, that so protrudes, and which I have not?" "Oh!
my daughter," said Rustico, "'tis the Devil of whom I have told thee: and,
seest thou? he is now tormenting me most grievously, insomuch that I am
scarce able to hold out." Then:--"Praise be to God," said the girl, "I see
that I am in better case than thou, for no such Devil have I." "Sooth sayst
thou," returned Rustico; "but instead of him thou hast somewhat else that I
have not." "Oh!" said Alibech, "what may that be?" "Hell," answered Rustico:
"and I tell thee, that 'tis my belief that God has sent thee hither for the
salvation of my soul; seeing that, if this Devil shall continue to plague me
thus, then, so thou wilt have compassion on me and permit me to put him in
hell, thou wilt both afford me great and exceeding great solace, and render
to God an exceeding most acceptable service, if, as thou sayst, thou art
come into these parts for such a purpose." In good faith the girl made
answer:--"As I have hell to match your Devil, be it, my father, as and when
you will." Whereupon:--"Bless thee, my daughter," said Rustico, "go we then,
and put him there, that he leave me henceforth in peace." Which said, he
took the girl to one of the beds and taught her the posture in which she
must lie in order to incarcerate this spirit accursed of God. The girl,
having never before put any devil in hell, felt on this first occasion a
twinge of pain: wherefore she said to Rustico:--"Of a surety, my father, he
must be a wicked fellow, this devil, and in very truth a foe to God; for
there is sorrow even in hell--not to speak of other places--when he is put
there." "Daughter," said Rustico, "'twill not be always so." And for better
assurance thereof they put him there six times before they quitted the bed;
whereby they so thoroughly abased his pride that he was fain to be quiet.
However, the proud fit returning upon him from time to time, and the girl
addressing herself always obediently to its reduction, it so befell that she
began to find the game agreeable, and would say to Rustico:--"Now see I
plainly that 'twas true, what the worthy men said at Capsa, of the service
of God being so delightful: indeed I cannot remember that in aught that ever
I did I had so much pleasure, so much solace, as in putting the Devil in
hell; for which cause I deem it insensate folly on the part of any one to
have a care to aught else than the service of God." Wherefore many a time
she would come to Rustico, and say to him:--"My father, 'twas to serve God
that I came hither, and not to pass my days in idleness: go we then, and put
the Devil in hell." And while they did so, she would now and again say:--"I
know not, Rustico, why the Devil should escape from hell; were he but as
ready to stay there as hell is to receive and retain him, he would never
come out of it." So, the girl thus frequently inviting and exhorting Rustico
to the service of God, there came at length a time when she had so
thoroughly lightened his doublet that he shivered when another would have
sweated; wherefore he began to instruct her that the Devil was not to be
corrected and put in hell, save when his head was exalted with pride;
adding, "and we by God's grace have brought him to so sober a mind that he
prays God he may be left in peace;" by which means he for a time kept the
girl quiet. But when she saw that Rustico had no more occasion for her to
put the Devil in hell, she said to him one day:--"Rustico, if thy Devil is
chastened and gives thee no more trouble, my hell, on the other hand, gives
me no peace; wherefore, I with my hell have holpen thee to abase the pride
of thy Devil, so thou wouldst do well to lend me the aid of thy Devil to
allay the fervent heat of my hell." Rustico, whose diet was roots of herbs
and water, was scarce able to respond to her demands: he told her that
'twould require not a few devils to allay the heat of hell; but that he
would do what might be in his power; and so now and again he satisfied her;
but so seldom that 'twas as if he had tossed a bean into the jaws of a lion.
Whereat the girl, being fain of more of the service of God than she had, did
somewhat repine. However, the case standing thus (deficiency of power
against superfluity of desire) between Rustico's Devil and Alibech's hell,
it chanced that a fire broke out in Capsa, whereby the house of Alibech's
father was burned, and he and all his sons and the rest of his household
perished; so that Alibech was left sole heiress of all his estate. And a
young gallant, Neerbale by name, who by reckless munificence had wasted all
his substance, having discovered that she was alive, addressed himself to
the pursuit of her, and, having found her in time to prevent the
confiscation of her father's estate as an escheat for failure of heirs, took
her, much to Rustico's relief and against her own will, back to Capsa, and
made her his wife, and shared with her her vast patrimony. But before he had
lain with her, she was questioned by the ladies of the manner in which she
had served God in the desert; whereto she answered, that she had been wont
to serve Him by putting the Devil in hell, and that Neerbale had committed a
great sin, when he took her out of such service. The ladies being curious to
know how the Devil was put in hell, the girl satisfied them, partly by
words, partly by signs. Whereat they laughed exorbitantly (and still laugh)
and said to her:--"Be not down-hearted, daughter; 'tis done here too;
Neerbale will know well how to serve God with you in that way." And so the
story passing from mouth to mouth throughout the city, it came at last to be
a common proverb, that the most acceptable service that can be rendered to
God is to put the Devil in hell; which proverb, having travelled hither
across the sea, is still current. Wherefore, young ladies, you that have
need of the grace of God, see to it that you learn how to put the Devil in
hell, because 'tis mightily pleasing to God, and of great solace to both the
parties, and much good may thereby be engendered and ensue.

(1) Now Gafsa, in Tunis.

A thousand times or more had Dioneo's story brought the laugh to the lips of
the honourable ladies, so quaint and curiously entertaining found they the
fashion of it. And now at its close the queen, seeing the term of her
sovereignty come, took the laurel wreath from her head, and with mien most
debonair, set it on the brow of Filostrato, saying:--"We shall soon see
whether the wolf will know better how to guide the sheep than the sheep have
yet succeeded in guiding the wolves." Whereat Filostrato said with a laugh:-
-"Had I been hearkened to, the wolves would have taught the sheep to put the
Devil in hell even as Rustico taught Alibech. Wherefore call us not wolves,
seeing that you have not shewn yourselves sheep: however, as best I may be
able, I will govern the kingdom committed to my charge." Whereupon Neifile
took him up: "Hark ye, Filostrato," she said, "while you thought to teach
us, you might have learnt a lesson from us, as did Masetto da Lamporecchio
from the nuns, and have recovered your speech when the bones had learned to
whistle without a master."(1) Filostrato, perceiving that there was a scythe
for each of his arrows, gave up jesting, and addressed himself to the
governance of his kingdom. He called the seneschal, and held him strictly to
account in every particular; he then judiciously ordered all matters as he
deemed would be best and most to the satisfaction of the company, while his
sovereignty should last; and having so done, he turned to the ladies, and
said:--"Loving ladies, as my ill luck would have it, since I have had wit to
tell good from evil, the charms of one or other of you have kept me ever a
slave to Love: and for all I shewed myself humble and obedient and
conformable, so far as I knew how, to all his ways, my fate has been still
the same, to be discarded for another, and go ever from bad to worse; and
so, I suppose, 'twill be with me to the hour of my death. Wherefore I am
minded that to-morrow our discourse be of no other topic than that which is
most germane to my condition, to wit, of those whose loves had a disastrous
close: because mine, I expect, will in the long run be most disastrous; nor
for other cause was the name, by which you address me, given me by one that
well knew its signification." Which said, he arose, and dismissed them all
until supper-time.

So fair and delightsome was the garden that none saw fit to quit it, and
seek diversion elsewhere. Rather--for the sun now shone with a tempered
radiance that caused no discomfort--some of the ladies gave chase to the
kids and conies and other creatures that haunted it, and, scampering to and
fro among them as they sate, had caused them a hundred times, or so, some
slight embarrassment. Dioneo and Fiammetta fell a singing of Messer
Guglielmo and the lady of Vergiu.(2) Filomena and Pamfilo sat them down to a
game of chess; and, as thus they pursued each their several diversions, time
sped so swiftly that the supper-hour stole upon them almost unawares:
whereupon they ranged the tables round the beautiful fountain, and supped
with all glad and festal cheer.

When the tables were removed, Filostrato, being minded to follow in the
footsteps of his fair predecessors in sway, bade Lauretta lead a dance and
sing a song. She answered:--"My lord, songs of others know I none, nor does
my memory furnish me with any of mine own that seems meet for so gay a
company; but, if you will be content with what I have, gladly will I give
you thereof." "Nought of thine," returned the king, "could be other than
goodly and delectable. Wherefore give us even what thou hast." So
encouraged, Lauretta, with dulcet voice, but manner somewhat languishing,
raised the ensuing strain, to which the other ladies responded:--

What dame disconsolate
May so lament as I,
That vainly sigh, to Love still dedicate?

He that the heaven and every orb doth move
Formed me for His delight
Fair, debonair and gracious, apt for love;
That here on earth each soaring spirit might
Have foretaste how, above,
That beauty shews that standeth in His sight.
Ah! but dull wit and slight,
For that it judgeth ill,
Liketh me not, nay, doth me vilely rate.

There was who loved me, and my maiden grace
Did fondly clip and strain,
As in his arms, so in his soul's embrace,
And from mine eyes Love's fire did drink amain,
And time that glides apace
In nought but courting me to spend was fain
Whom courteous I did deign
Ev'n as my peer to entreat;
But am of him bereft! Ah! dolorous fate!

Came to me next a gallant swol'n with pride,
Brave, in his own conceit,
And no less noble eke. Whom woe betide
That he me took, and holds in all unmeet
Suspicion, jealous-eyed!
And I, who wot that me the world should greet
As the predestined sweet
Of many men, well-nigh
Despair, to be to one thus subjugate.

Ah! woe is me! cursed be the luckless day,
When, a new gown to wear,
I said the fatal ay; for blithe and gay
In that plain gown I lived, no whit less fair;
While in this rich array
A sad and far less honoured life I bear!
Would I had died, or e'er
Sounded those notes of joy
(Ah! dolorous cheer!) my woe to celebrate!

So list my supplication, lover dear,
Of whom such joyance I,
As ne'er another, had. Thou that in clear
Light of the Maker's presence art, deny
Not pity to thy fere,
Who thee may ne'er forget; but let one sigh
Breathe tidings that on high
Thou burnest still for me;
And sue of God that He me there translate.

So ended Lauretta her song, to which all hearkened attentively, though not
all interpreted it alike. Some were inclined to give it a moral after the
Milanese fashion, to wit, that a good porker was better than a pretty quean.
Others construed it in a higher, better and truer sense, which 'tis not to
the present purpose to unfold. Some more songs followed by command of the
king, who caused torches not a few to be lighted and ranged about the
flowery mead; and so the night was prolonged until the last star that had
risen had begun to set. Then, bethinking him that 'twas time for slumber,
the king bade all good-night, and dismissed them to their several chambers.

(1) I.e. when you were so emaciated that your bones made music like a
skeleton in the wind.

(2) Evidently some version of the tragical conte "de la Chastelaine de
Vergi, qui mori por laialment amer son ami." See "Fabliaux et Contes," ed.
Barbazan, iv. 296: and cf. Bandello, Pt. iv. Nov. v, and Heptameron, Journee
vii. Nouvelle lxx.

Endeth here the third day of the Decameron, beginneth the fourth, in which,
under the rule of Filostrato, discourse is had of those whose loves had a
disastrous close.

Dearest ladies, as well from what I heard in converse with the wise, as from
matters that not seldom fell within my own observation and reading, I formed
the opinion that the vehement and scorching blast of envy was apt to vent
itself only upon lofty towers or the highest tree-tops: but therein I find
that I misjudged; for, whereas I ever sought and studied how best to elude
the buffetings of that furious hurricane, and to that end kept a course not
merely on the plain, but, by preference, in the depth of the valley; as
should be abundantly clear to whoso looks at these little stories, written
as they are not only in the vulgar Florentine, and in prose, and without
dedicatory flourish, but also in as homely and simple a style as may be;
nevertheless all this has not stood me in such stead but that I have been
shrewdly shaken, nay, all but uprooted by the blast, and altogether
lacerated by the bite of this same envy. Whereby I may very well understand
that 'tis true, what the sages aver, that only misery is exempt from envy in
the present life. Know then, discreet my ladies, that some there are, who,
reading these little stories, have alleged that I am too fond of you, and
that 'tis not a seemly thing that I should take so much pleasure in
ministering to your gratification and solace; and some have found more fault
with me for praising you as I do. Others, affecting to deliver a more
considered judgment, have said that it ill befits my time of life to ensue
such matters, to wit, the discoursing of women, or endeavouring to pleasure
them. And not a few, feigning a mighty tender regard to my fame, aver that I
should do more wisely to keep ever with the Muses on Parnassus, than to
forgather with you in such vain dalliance. Those again there are, who,
evincing less wisdom than despite, have told me that I should shew sounder
sense if I bethought me how to get my daily bread, than, going after these
idle toys, to nourish myself upon the wind; while certain others, in
disparagement of my work, strive might and main to make it appear that the
matters which I relate fell out otherwise than as I set them forth. Such
then, noble ladies, are the blasts, such the sharp and cruel fangs, by
which, while I champion your cause, I am assailed, harassed and well-nigh
pierced through and through. Which censures I hear and mark, God knows, with
equal mind: and, though to you belongs all my defence, yet I mean not to be
niggard of my own powers, but rather, without dealing out to them the
castigation they deserve, to give them such slight answer as may secure my
ears some respite of their clamour; and that without delay; seeing that, if
already, though I have not completed the third part of my work, they are not
a few and very presumptuous, I deem it possible, that before I have reached
the end, should they receive no check, they may have grown so numerous, that
'twould scarce tax their powers to sink me; and that your forces, great
though they be, would not suffice to withstand them. However I am minded to
answer none of them, until I have related in my behoof, not indeed an entire
story, for I would not seem to foist my stories in among those of so
honourable a company as that with which I have made you acquainted, but a
part of one, that its very incompleteness may shew that it is not one of
them: wherefore, addressing my assailants, I say:--That in our city there
was in old time a citizen named Filippo Balducci, a man of quite low origin,
but of good substance and well versed and expert in matters belonging to his
condition, who had a wife that he most dearly loved, as did she him, so that
their life passed in peace and concord, nor there was aught they studied so
much as how to please each other perfectly. Now it came to pass, as it does
to every one, that the good lady departed this life, leaving Filippo nought
of hers but an only son, that she had had by him, and who was then about two
years old. His wife's death left Filippo as disconsolate as ever was any man
for the loss of a loved one: and sorely missing the companionship that was
most dear to him, he resolved to have done with the world, and devote
himself and his little son to the service of God. Wherefore, having
dedicated all his goods to charitable uses, he forthwith betook him to the
summit of Monte Asinaio, where he installed himself with his son in a little
cell, and living on alms, passed his days in fasting and prayer, being
careful above all things to say nothing to the boy of any temporal matters,
nor to let him see aught of the kind, lest they should distract his mind
from his religious exercises, but discoursing with him continually of the
glory of the life eternal and of God and the saints, and teaching him nought
else but holy orisons: in which way of life he kept him not a few years,
never suffering him to quit the cell or see aught but himself. From time to
time the worthy man would go Florence, where divers of the faithful would
afford him relief according to his needs, and so he would return to his
cell. And thus it fell out that one day Filippo, now an aged man, being
asked by the boy, who was about eighteen years old, whither he went, told
him. Whereupon:--"Father," said the boy, "you are now old, and scarce able
to support fatigue; why take you me not with you for once to Florence, and
give me to know devout friends of God and you, so that I, who am young and
fitter for such exertion than you, may thereafter go to Florence for our
supplies at your pleasure, and you remain here?"

The worthy man, bethinking him that his son was now grown up, and so
habituated to the service of God as hardly to be seduced by the things of
the world, said to himself:--"He says well." And so, as he must needs go to
Florence, he took the boy with him. Where, seeing the palaces, the houses,
the churches, and all matters else with which the city abounds, and of which
he had no more recollection than if he had never seen them, the boy found
all passing strange, and questioned his father of not a few of them, what
they were and how they were named; his curiosity being no sooner satisfied
in one particular than he plied his father with a further question. And so
it befell that, while son and father were thus occupied in asking and
answering questions, they encountered a bevy of damsels, fair and richly
arrayed, being on their return from a wedding; whom the young man no sooner
saw, than he asked his father what they might be. "My son," answered the
father, "fix thy gaze on the ground, regard them not at all, for naughty
things are they." "Oh!" said the son, "and what is their name?" The father,
fearing to awaken some mischievous craving of concupiscence in the young
man, would not denote them truly, to wit, as women, but said:--"They are
called goslings." Whereupon, wonderful to tell! the lad who had never before
set eyes on any woman, thought no more of the palaces, the oxen, the horses,
the asses, the money, or aught else that he had seen, but
exclaimed:--"Prithee, father, let me have one of those goslings." "Alas, my
son," replied the father, "speak not of them; they are naughty things."
"Oh!" questioned the son; "but are naughty things made like that?" "Ay,"
returned the father. Whereupon the son:--"I know not," he said, "what you
say, nor why they should be naughty things: for my part I have as yet seen
nought that seemed to me so fair and delectable. They are fairer than the
painted angels that you have so often shewn me. Oh! if you love me, do but
let us take one of these goslings up there, and I will see that she have
whereon to bill." "Nay," said the father, "that will not I. Thou knowest not
whereon they bill;" and straightway, being ware that nature was more potent
than his art, he repented him that he had brought the boy to Florence.

But enough of this story: 'tis time for me to cut it short, and return to
those, for whose instruction 'tis told. They say then, some of these my
censors, that I am too fond of you, young ladies, and am at too great pains
to pleasure you. Now that I am fond of you, and am at pains to pleasure you,
I do most frankly and fully confess; and I ask them whether, considering
only all that it means to have had, and to have continually, before one's
eyes your debonair demeanour, your bewitching beauty and exquisite grace,
and therewithal your modest womanliness, not to speak of having known the
amorous kisses, the caressing embraces, the voluptuous comminglings, whereof
our intercourse with you, ladies most sweet, not seldom is productive, they
do verily marvel that I am fond of you, seeing that one who was nurtured,
reared, and brought up on a savage and solitary mountain, within the narrow
circuit of a cell, without other companion than his father, had no sooner
seen you than 'twas you alone that he desired, that he demanded, that he
sought with ardour? Will they tear, will they lacerate me with their
censures, if I, whose body Heaven fashioned all apt for love, whose soul
from very boyhood was dedicate to you, am not insensible to the power of the
light of your eyes, to the sweetness of your honeyed words, to the flame
that is kindled by your gentle sighs, but am fond of you and sedulous to
pleasure you; you, again I bid them remember, in whom a hermit, a rude,
witless lad, liker to an animal than to a human being, found more to delight
him than in aught else that he saw? Of a truth whoso taxes me thus must be
one that, feeling, knowing nought of the pleasure and power of natural
affection, loves you not, nor craves your love; and such an one I hold in
light esteem. And as for those that go about to find ground of exception in
my age, they do but shew that they ill understand that the leek, albeit its
head is white, has a green tail. But jesting apart, thus I answer them, that
never to the end of my life shall I deem it shameful to me to pleasure those
to whom Guido Cavalcanti and Dante Alighieri in their old age, and Messer
Cino da Pistoia in extreme old age, accounted it an honour and found it a
delight to minister gratification. And but that 'twere a deviation from the
use and wont of discourse, I would call history to my aid, and shew it to
abound with stories of noble men of old time, who in their ripest age
studied above all things else to pleasure the ladies; whereof if they be
ignorant, go they and get them to school. To keep with the Muses on
Parnassus is counsel I approve; but tarry with them always we cannot, nor
they with us, nor is a man blameworthy, if, when he happen to part from
them, he find his delight in those that resemble them. The Muses are ladies,
and albeit ladies are not the peers of the Muses, yet they have their
outward semblance; for which cause, if for no other, 'tis reasonable that I
should be fond of them. Besides which, ladies have been to me the occasion
of composing some thousand verses, but of never a verse that I made were the
Muses the occasion. Howbeit 'twas with their aid, 'twas under their
influence that I composed those thousand verses, and perchance they have
sometimes visited me to encourage me in my present task, humble indeed
though it be, doing honour and paying, as it were, tribute, to the likeness
which the ladies have to them; wherefore, while I weave these stories, I
stray not so far from Mount Parnassus and the Muses as not a few perchance
suppose. But what shall we say to those, in whom my hunger excites such
commiseration that they bid me get me bread? Verily I know not, save this:--
Suppose that in my need I were to beg bread of them, what would be their
answer? I doubt not they would say:--"Go seek it among the fables." And in
sooth the poets have found more bread among their fables than many rich men
among their treasures. And many that have gone after fables have crowned
their days with splendour, while, on the other hand, not a few, in the
endeavour to get them more bread than they needed, have perished miserably.
But why waste more words on them? Let them send me packing, when I ask bread
of them; not that, thank God, I have yet need of it, and should I ever come
to be in need of it, I know, like the Apostle, how to abound and to be in
want, and so am minded to be beholden to none but myself. As for those who
say that these matters fell out otherwise than as I relate them, I should
account it no small favour, if they would produce the originals, and should
what I write not accord with them, I would acknowledge the justice of their
censure, and study to amend my ways; but, until better evidence is
forthcoming than their words, I shall adhere to my own opinion without
seeking to deprive them of theirs, and give them tit for tat. And being
minded that for this while this answer suffice, I say that with God and you,
in whom I trust, most gentle ladies, to aid and protect me, and patience for
my stay, I shall go forward with my work, turning my back on this tempest,
however it may rage; for I see not that I can fare worse than the fine dust,
which the blast of the whirlwind either leaves where it lies, or bears
aloft, not seldom over the heads of men, over the crowns of kings, of
emperors, and sometimes suffers to settle on the roofs of lofty palaces, and
the summits of the tallest towers, whence if it fall, it cannot sink lower
than the level from which it was raised. And if I ever devoted myself and
all my powers to minister in any wise to your gratification, I am now minded
more than ever so to do, because I know that there is nought that any can
justly say in regard thereof, but that I, and others who love you, follow
the promptings of nature, whose laws whoso would withstand, has need of
powers pre-eminent, and, even so, will oft-times labour not merely in vain
but to his own most grievous disadvantage. Such powers I own that I neither
have, nor, to such end, desire to have; and had I them, I would rather leave
them to another than use them myself. Wherefore let my detractors hold their
peace, and if they cannot get heat, why, let them shiver their life away;
and, while they remain addicted to their delights, or rather corrupt tastes,
let them leave me to follow my own bent during the brief life that is
accorded us. But this has been a long digression, fair ladies, and 'tis time
to retrace our steps to the point where we deviated, and continue in the
course on which we started.

The sun had chased every star from the sky, and lifted the dank murk of
night from the earth, when, Filostrato being risen, and having roused all
his company, they hied them to the fair garden, and there fell to disporting
themselves: the time for breakfast being come, they took it where they had
supped on the preceding evening, and after they had slept they rose, when
the sun was in his zenith, and seated themselves in their wonted manner by
the beautiful fountain; where Fiammetta, being bidden by Filostrato to lead
off the story-telling, awaited no second command, but debonairly thus began.


Tancred, Prince of Salerno, slays his daughter's lover, and sends her his
heart in a golden cup: she pours upon it a poisonous distillation, which she
drinks and dies.

A direful theme has our king allotted us for to-day's discourse seeing that,
whereas we are here met for our common delectation, needs must we now tell
of others' tears, whereby, whether telling or hearing, we cannot but be
moved to pity. Perchance 'twas to temper in some degree the gaiety of the
past days that he so ordained, but, whatever may have been his intent, his
will must be to me immutable law; wherefore I will narrate to you a matter
that befell piteously, nay woefully, and so as you may well weep thereat.

Tancred, Prince of Salerno, a lord most humane and kind of heart, but that
in his old age he imbrued his hands in the blood of a lover, had in the
whole course of his life but one daughter; and had he not had her, he had
been more fortunate.

Never was daughter more tenderly beloved of father than she of the Prince,
who, for that cause not knowing how to part with her, kept her unmarried for
many a year after she had come of marriageable age: then at last he gave her
to a son of the Duke of Capua, with whom she had lived but a short while,
when he died and she returned to her father. Most lovely was she of form and
feature (never woman more so), and young and light of heart, and more
knowing, perchance, than beseemed a woman. Dwelling thus with her loving
father, as a great lady, in no small luxury, nor failing to see that the
Prince, for the great love he bore her, was at no pains to provide her with
another husband, and deeming it unseemly on her part to ask one of him, she
cast about how she might come by a gallant to be her secret lover. And
seeing at her father's court not a few men, both gentle and simple, that
resorted thither, as we know men use to frequent courts, and closely
scanning their mien and manners, she preferred before all others the
Prince's page, Guiscardo by name, a man of very humble origin, but
pre-eminent for native worth and noble bearing; of whom, seeing him
frequently, she became hotly enamoured, hourly extolling his qualities more
and more highly. The young man, who for all his youth by no means lacked
shrewdness, read her heart, and gave her his own on such wise that his love
for her engrossed his mind to the exclusion of almost everything else. While
thus they burned in secret for one another, the lady, desiring of all things
a meeting with Guiscardo, but being shy of making any her confidant, hit
upon a novel expedient to concert the affair with him. She wrote him a
letter containing her commands for the ensuing day, and thrust it into a
cane in the space between two of the knots, which cane she gave to
Guiscardo, saying:--"Thou canst let thy servant have it for a bellows to
blow thy fire up to night." Guiscardo took it, and feeling sure that 'twas
not unadvisedly that she made him such a present, accompanied with such
words, hied him straight home, where, carefully examining the cane, he
observed that it was cleft, and, opening it, found the letter; which he had
no sooner read, and learned what he was to do, than, pleased as ne'er
another, he fell to devising how to set all in order that he might not fail
to meet the lady on the following day, after the manner she had prescribed.

Now hard by the Prince's palace was a grotto, hewn in days of old in the
solid rock, and now long disused, so that an artificial orifice, by which it
received a little light, was all but choked with brambles and plants that
grew about and overspread it. From one of the ground-floor rooms of the
palace, which room was part of the lady's suite, a secret stair led to the
grotto, though the entrance was barred by a very strong door. This stair,
having been from time immemorial disused, had passed out of mind so
completely that there was scarce any that remembered that it was there: but
Love, whose eyes nothing, however secret, may escape, had brought it to the
mind of the enamoured lady. For many a day, using all secrecy, that none
should discover her, she had wrought with her tools, until she had succeeded
in opening the door; which done, she had gone down into the grotto alone,
and having observed the orifice, had by her letter apprised Guiscardo of its
apparent height above the floor of the grotto, and bidden him contrive some
means of descending thereby. Eager to carry the affair through, Guiscardo
lost no time in rigging up a ladder of ropes, whereby he might ascend and
descend; and having put on a suit of leather to protect him from the
brambles, he hied him the following night (keeping the affair close from
all) to the orifice, made the ladder fast by one of its ends to a massive
trunk that was rooted in the mouth of the orifice, climbed down the ladder,
and awaited the lady. On the morrow, making as if she would fain sleep, the
lady dismissed her damsels, and locked herself into her room: she then
opened the door of the grotto, hied her down, and met Guiscardo, to their
marvellous mutual satisfaction. The lovers then repaired to her room, where
in exceeding great joyance they spent no small part of the day. Nor were
they neglectful of the precautions needful to prevent discovery of their
amour; but in due time Guiscardo returned to the grotto; whereupon the lady
locked the door and rejoined her damsels. At nightfall Guiscardo reascended
his ladder, and, issuing forth of the orifice, hied him home; nor, knowing
now the way, did he fail to revisit the grotto many a time thereafter.

But Fortune, noting with envious eye a happiness of such degree and
duration, gave to events a dolorous turn, whereby the joy of the two lovers
was converted into bitter lamentation. 'Twas Tancred's custom to come from
time to time quite alone to his daughter's room, and tarry talking with her
a while. Whereby it so befell that he came down there one day after
breakfast, while Ghismonda--such was the lady's name--was in her garden with
her damsels; so that none saw or heard him enter; nor would he call his
daughter, for he was minded that she should not forgo her pleasure. But,
finding the windows closed and the bed-curtains drawn down, he seated
himself on a divan that stood at one of the corners of the bed, rested his
head on the bed, drew the curtain over him, and thus, hidden as if of set
purpose, fell asleep. As he slept Ghismonda, who, as it happened, had caused
Guiscardo to come that day, left her damsels in the garden, softly entered
the room, and having locked herself in, unwitting that there was another in
the room, opened the door to Guiscardo, who was in waiting. Straightway they
got them to bed, as was their wont; and, while they there solaced and
disported them together, it so befell that Tancred awoke, and heard and saw
what they did: whereat he was troubled beyond measure, and at first was
minded to upbraid them; but on second thoughts he deemed it best to hold his
peace, and avoid discovery, if so he might with greater stealth and less
dishonour carry out the design which was already in his mind. The two lovers
continued long together, as they were wont, all unwitting of Tancred; but at
length they saw fit to get out of bed, when Guiscardo went back to the
grotto, and the lady hied her forth of the room. Whereupon Tancred, old
though he was, got out at one of the windows, clambered down into the
garden, and, seen by none, returned sorely troubled to his room. By his
command two men took Guiscardo early that same night, as he issued forth of
the orifice accoutred in his suit of leather, and brought him privily to
Tancred; who, as he saw him, all but wept, and said:--"Guiscardo, my
kindness to thee is ill requited by the outrage and dishonour which thou
hast done me in the person of my daughter, as to-day I have seen with my own
eyes." To whom Guiscardo could answer nought but:--"Love is more potent than
either, you or I." Tancred then gave order to keep him privily under watch
and ward in a room within the palace; and so 'twas done. Next day, while
Ghismonda wotted nought of these matters, Tancred, after pondering divers
novel expedients, hied him after breakfast, according to his wont, to his
daughter's room, where, having called her to him and locked himself in with
her, he began, not without tears, to speak on this wise:--"Ghismonda,
conceiving that I knew thy virtue and honour, never, though it had been
reported to me, would I have credited, had I not seen with my own eyes, that
thou wouldst so much as in idea, not to say fact, have ever yielded thyself
to any man but thy husband: wherefore, for the brief residue of life that my
age has in store for me, the memory of thy fall will ever be grievous to me.
And would to God, as thou must needs demean thyself to such dishonour, thou
hadst taken a man that matched thy nobility; but of all the men that
frequent my court; thou must needs choose Guiscardo, a young man of the
lowest condition, a fellow whom we brought up in charity from his tender
years; for whose sake thou hast plunged me into the abyss of mental
tribulation, insomuch that I know not what course to take in regard of thee.
As to Guiscardo, whom I caused to be arrested last night as he issued from
the orifice, and keep in durance, my course is already taken, but how I am
to deal with thee, God knows, I know not. I am distraught between the love
which I have ever borne thee, love such as no father ever bare to daughter,
and the most just indignation evoked in me by thy signal folly; my love
prompts me to pardon thee, my indignation bids me harden my heart against
thee, though I do violence to my nature. But before I decide upon my course,
I would fain hear what thou hast to say to this." So saying, he bent his
head, and wept as bitterly as any child that had been soundly thrashed.

Her father's words, and the tidings they conveyed that not only was her
secret passion discovered, but Guiscardo taken, caused Ghismonda
immeasurable grief, which she was again and again on the point of evincing,
as most women do, by cries and tears; but her high spirit triumphed over
this weakness; by a prodigious effort she composed her countenance, and
taking it for granted that her Guiscardo was no more, she inly devoted
herself to death rather than a single prayer for herself should escape her
lips. Wherefore, not as a woman stricken with grief or chidden for a fault,
but unconcerned and unabashed, with tearless eyes, and frank and utterly
dauntless mien, thus answered she her father:--"Tancred, your accusation I
shall not deny, neither will I cry you mercy, for nought should I gain by
denial, nor aught would I gain by supplication: nay more; there is nought I
will do to conciliate thy humanity and love; my only care is to confess the
truth, to defend my honour by words of sound reason, and then by deeds most
resolute to give effect to the promptings of my high soul. True it is that I
have loved and love Guiscardo, and during the brief while I have yet to live
shall love him, nor after death, so there be then love, shall I cease to
love him; but that I love him, is not imputable to my womanly frailty so
much as to the little zeal thou shewedst for my bestowal in marriage, and to
Guiscardo's own worth. It should not have escaped thee, Tancred, creature of
flesh and blood as thou art, that thy daughter was also a creature of flesh
and blood, and not of stone or iron; it was, and is, thy duty to bear in
mind (old though thou art) the nature and the might of the laws to which
youth is subject; and, though thou hast spent part of thy best years in
martial exercises, thou shouldst nevertheless have not been ignorant how
potent is the influence even upon the aged--to say nothing of the young--of
ease and luxury. And not only am I, as being thy daughter, a creature of
flesh and blood, but my life is not so far spent but that I am still young,
and thus doubly fraught with fleshly appetite, the vehemence whereof is
marvellously enhanced by reason that, having been married, I have known the
pleasure that ensues upon the satisfaction of such desire. Which forces
being powerless to withstand, I did but act as was natural in a young woman,
when I gave way to them, and yielded myself to love. Nor in sooth did I fail
to the utmost of my power so to order the indulgence of my natural
propensity that my sin should bring shame neither upon thee nor upon me. To
which end Love in his pity, and Fortune in a friendly mood, found and
discovered to me a secret way, whereby, none witting, I attained my desire:
this, from whomsoever thou hast learned it, howsoever thou comest to know
it, I deny not. 'Twas not at random, as many women do, that I loved
Guiscardo; but by deliberate choice I preferred him before all other men,
and of determinate forethought I lured him to my love, whereof, through his
and my discretion and constancy, I have long had joyance. Wherein 'twould
seem that thou, following rather the opinion of the vulgar than the dictates
of truth, find cause to chide me more severely than in my sinful love, for,
as if thou wouldst not have been vexed, had my choice fallen on a nobleman,
thou complainest that I have forgathered with a man of low condition; and
dost not see that therein thou censurest not my fault but that of Fortune,
which not seldom raises the unworthy to high place and leaves the worthiest
in low estate. But leave we this: consider a little the principles of
things: thou seest that in regard of our flesh we are all moulded of the
same substance, and that all souls are endowed by one and the same Creator
with equal faculties, equal powers, equal virtues. 'Twas merit that made the
first distinction between us, born as we were, nay, as we are, all equal,
and those whose merits were and were approved in act the greatest were
called noble, and the rest were not so denoted. Which law, albeit overlaid
by the contrary usage of after times, is not yet abrogated, nor so impaired
but that it is still traceable in nature and good manners; for which cause
whoso with merit acts, does plainly shew himself a gentleman; and if any
denote him otherwise, the default is his own and not his whom he so denotes.
Pass in review all thy nobles, weigh their merits, their manners and
bearing, and then compare Guiscardo's qualities with theirs: if thou wilt
judge without prejudice, thou wilt pronounce him noble in the highest
degree, and thy nobles one and all churls. As to Guiscardo's merits and
worth I did but trust the verdict which thou thyself didst utter in words,
and which mine own eyes confirmed. Of whom had he such commendation as of
thee for all those excellences whereby a good man and true merits
commendation? And in sooth thou didst him but justice; for, unless mine eyes
have played me false, there was nought for which thou didst commend him but
I had seen him practise it, and that more admirably than words of thine
might express; and had I been at all deceived in this matter, 'twould have
been by thee. Wilt thou say then that I have forgathered with a man of low
condition? If so, thou wilt not say true. Didst thou say with a poor man,
the impeachment might be allowed, to thy shame, that thou so ill hast known
how to requite a good man and true that is thy servant; but poverty, though
it take away all else, deprives no man of gentilesse. Many kings, many great
princes, were once poor, and many a ditcher or herdsman has been and is very
wealthy. As for thy last perpended doubt, to wit, how thou shouldst deal
with me, banish it utterly from thy thoughts. If in thy extreme old age thou
art minded to manifest a harshness unwonted in thy youth, wreak thy
harshness on me, resolved as I am to cry thee no mercy, prime cause as I am
that this sin, if sin it be, has been committed; for of this I warrant thee,
that as thou mayst have done or shalt do to Guiscardo, if to me thou do not
the like, I with my own hands will do it. Now get thee gone to shed thy
tears with the women, and when thy melting mood is over, ruthlessly destroy
Guiscardo and me, if such thou deem our merited doom, by one and the same

The loftiness of his daughter's spirit was not unknown to the Prince; but
still he did not credit her with a resolve quite as firmly fixed as her
words implied, to carry their purport into effect. So, parting from her
without the least intention of using harshness towards her in her own
person, he determined to quench the heat of her love by wreaking his
vengeance on her lover, and bade the two men that had charge of Guiscardo to
strangle him noiselessly that same night, take the heart out of the body,
and send it to him. The men did his bidding: and on the morrow the Prince
had a large and beautiful cup of gold brought to him, and having put
Guiscardo's heart therein, sent it by the hand of one of his most trusted
servants to his daughter, charging the servant to say, as he gave it to
her:--"Thy father sends thee this to give thee joy of that which thou lovest
best, even as thou hast given him joy of that which he loved best."

Now when her father had left her, Ghismonda, wavering not a jot in her stern
resolve, had sent for poisonous herbs and roots, and therefrom had distilled
a water, to have it ready for use, if that which she apprehended should come
to pass. And when the servant appeared with the Prince's present and
message, she took the cup unblenchingly, and having lifted the lid, and seen
the heart, and apprehended the meaning of the words, and that the heart was
beyond a doubt Guiscardo's, she raised her head, and looking straight at the
servant, said:--"Sepulture less honourable than of gold had ill befitted
heart such as this: herein has my father done wisely." Which said, she
raised it to her lips, and kissed it, saying:--"In all things and at all
times, even to this last hour of my life, have I found my father most tender
in his love, but now more so than ever before; wherefore I now render him
the last thanks which will ever be due from me to him for this goodly
present." So she spoke, and straining the cup to her, bowed her head over
it, and gazing at the heart, said:--"Ah! sojourn most sweet of all my joys,
accursed be he by whose ruthless act I see thee with the bodily eye: 'twas
enough that to the mind's eye thou wert hourly present. Thou hast run thy
course; thou hast closed the span that Fortune allotted thee; thou hast
reached the goal of all; thou hast left behind thee the woes and weariness
of the world; and thy enemy has himself granted thee sepulture accordant
with thy deserts. No circumstance was wanting to duly celebrate thy
obsequies, save the tears of her whom, while thou livedst, thou didst so
dearly love; which that thou shouldst not lack, my remorseless father was
prompted of God to send thee to me, and, albeit my resolve was fixed to die
with eyes unmoistened and front all unperturbed by fear, yet will I accord
thee my tears; which done, my care shall be forthwith by thy means to join
my soul to that most precious soul which thou didst once enshrine. And is
there other company than hers, in which with more of joy and peace I might
fare to the abodes unknown? She is yet here within, I doubt not,
contemplating the abodes of her and my delights, and--for sure I am that she
loves me--awaiting my soul that loves her before all else."

Having thus spoken, she bowed herself low over the cup; and, while no
womanish cry escaped her, 'twas as if a fountain of water were unloosed
within her head, so wondrous a flood of tears gushed from her eyes, while
times without number she kissed the dead heart. Her damsels that stood
around her knew not whose the heart might be or what her words might mean,
but melting in sympathy, they all wept, and compassionately, as vainly,
enquired the cause of her lamentation, and in many other ways sought to
comfort her to the best of their understanding and power. When she had wept
her fill, she raised her head, and dried her eyes. Then:--"O heart," said
she, "much cherished heart, discharged is my every duty towards thee; nought
now remains for me to do but to come and unite my soul with thine." So
saying, she sent for the vase that held the water which the day before she
had distilled, and emptied it into the cup where lay the heart bathed in her
tears; then, nowise afraid, she set her mouth to the cup, and drained it
dry, and so with the cup in her hand she got her upon her bed, and having
there disposed her person in guise as seemly as she might, laid her dead
lover's heart upon her own, and silently awaited death. Meanwhile the
damsels, seeing and hearing what passed, but knowing not what the water was
that she had drunk, had sent word of each particular to Tancred; who,
apprehensive of that which came to pass, came down with all haste to his
daughter's room, where he arrived just as she got her upon her bed, and, now
too late, addressed himself to comfort her with soft words, and seeing in
what plight she was, burst into a flood of bitter tears. To whom the lady:--
"Reserve thy tears, Tancred, till Fortune send thee hap less longed for than
this: waste them not on me who care not for them. Whoever yet saw any but
thee bewail the consummation of his desire? But, if of the love thou once
didst bear me any spark still lives in thee, be it thy parting grace to me,
that, as thou brookedst not that I should live with Guiscardo in privity and
seclusion, so wherever thou mayst have caused Guiscardo's body to be cast,
mine may be united with it in the common view of all." The Prince replied
not for excess of grief; and the lady, feeling that her end was come,
strained the dead heart to her bosom, saying:--"Fare ye well; I take my
leave of you;" and with eyelids drooped and every sense evanished departed
this life of woe. Such was the lamentable end of the loves of Guiscardo and
Ghismonda; whom Tancred, tardily repentant of his harshness, mourned not a
little, as did also all the folk of Salerno, and had honourably interred
side by side in the same tomb.


Fra Alberto gives a lady to understand that she is beloved of the Angel
Gabriel, in whose shape he lies with her sundry times; afterward, for fear
of her kinsmen, he flings himself forth of her house, and finds shelter in
the house of a poor man, who on the morrow leads him in the guise of a wild
man into the piazza, where, being recognized, he is apprehended by his
brethren and imprisoned.

More than once had Fiammetta's story brought tears to the eyes of her fair
companions; but now that it was ended the king said with an austere air:--"I
should esteem my life but a paltry price to pay for half the delight that
Ghismonda had with Guiscardo: whereat no lady of you all should marvel,
seeing that each hour that I live I die a thousand deaths; nor is there so
much as a particle of compensating joy allotted me. But a truce to my own
concerns: I ordain that Pampinea do next ensue our direful argument,
wherewith the tenor of my life in part accords, and if she follow in
Fiammetta's footsteps, I doubt not I shall presently feel some drops of dew
distill upon my fire." Pampinea received the king's command in a spirit more
accordant with what from her own bent she divined to be the wishes of her
fair gossips than with the king's words; wherefore, being minded rather to
afford them some diversion, than, save as in duty bound, to satisfy the
king, she made choice of a story which, without deviating from the
prescribed theme, should move a laugh, and thus began:--

'Tis a proverb current among the vulgar, that:--"Whoso, being wicked, is
righteous reputed, May sin as he will, and 'twill ne'er be imputed." Which
proverb furnishes me with abundant matter of discourse, germane to our
theme, besides occasion to exhibit the quality and degree of the hypocrisy
of the religious, who flaunt it in ample flowing robes, and, with faces made
pallid by art, with voices low and gentle to beg alms, most loud and haughty
to reprove in others their own sins, would make believe that their way of
salvation lies in taking from us and ours in giving to them; nay, more, as
if they had not like us Paradise to win, but were already its lords and
masters, assign therein to each that dies a place more or less exalted
according to the amount of the money that he has bequeathed to them; which
if they believe, 'tis by dint of self-delusion, and to the effect of
deluding all that put faith in their words. Of whose guile were it lawful
for me to make as full exposure as were fitting, not a few simple folk
should soon be enlightened as to what they cloak within the folds of their
voluminous habits. But would to God all might have the like reward of their
lies as a certain friar minor, no novice, but one that was reputed among
their greatest(1) at Venice; whose story, rather than aught else, I am
minded to tell you, if so I may, perchance, by laughter and jollity relieve
in some degree your souls that are heavy laden with pity for the death of

Know then, noble ladies, that there was in Imola a man of evil and corrupt
life, Berto della Massa by name, whose pestilent practices came at length to
be so well known to the good folk of Imola that 'twas all one whether he
lied or spoke the truth, for there was not a soul in Imola that believed a
word he said: wherefore, seeing that his tricks would pass no longer there,
he removed, as in despair, to Venice, that common sink of all abominations,
thinking there to find other means than he had found elsewhere to the
prosecution of his nefarious designs. And, as if conscience-stricken for his
past misdeeds, he assumed an air of the deepest humility, turned the best
Catholic of them all, and went and made himself a friar minor, taking the
name of Fra Alberto da Imola. With his habit he put on a shew of austerity,
highly commending penitence and abstinence, and eating or drinking no sort
of meat or wine but such as was to his taste. And scarce a soul was there
that wist that the thief, the pimp, the cheat, the assassin, had not been
suddenly converted into a great preacher without continuing in the practice
of the said iniquities, whensoever the same was privily possible. And
withal, having got himself made priest, as often as he celebrated at the
altar, he would weep over the passion of our Lord, so there were folk in
plenty to see, for tears cost him little enough, when he had a mind to shed
them. In short, what with his sermons and his tears, he duped the folk of
Venice to such a tune that scarce a will was there made but he was its
executor and depositary; nay, not a few made him trustee of their moneys,
and most, or well-nigh most, men and women alike, their confessor and
counsellor: in short, he had put off the wolf and put on the shepherd, and
the fame of his holiness was such in those parts that St. Francis himself
had never the like at Assisi.

Now it so befell that among the ladies that came to confess to this holy
friar was one Monna Lisetta of Ca' Quirino, the young, silly, empty-headed
wife of a great merchant, who was gone with the galleys to Flanders. Like a
Venetian--for unstable are they all--though she placed herself at his feet,
she told him but a part of her sins, and when Fra Alberto asked her whether
she had a lover, she replied with black looks:--"How now, master friar? have
you not eyes in your head? See you no difference between my charms and those
of other women? Lovers in plenty might I have, so I would: but charms such
as mine must not be cheapened: 'tis not every man that might presume to love
me. How many ladies have you seen whose beauty is comparable to mine? I
should adorn Paradise itself." Whereto she added so much more in praise of
her beauty that the friar could scarce hear her with patience. Howbeit,
discerning at a glance that she was none too well furnished with sense, he
deemed the soil meet for his plough, and fell forthwith inordinately in love
with her, though he deferred his blandishments to a more convenient season,
and by way of supporting his character for holiness began instead to chide
her, telling her (among other novelties) that this was vainglory: whereto
the lady retorted that he was a blockhead, and could not distinguish one
degree of beauty from another. Wherefore Fra Alberto, lest he should
occasion her too much chagrin, cut short the confession, and suffered her to
depart with the other ladies. Some days after, accompanied by a single
trusty friend, he hied him to Monna Lisetta's house, and having withdrawn
with her alone into a saloon, where they were safe from observation, he fell
on his knees at her feet, and said:--"Madam, for the love of God I crave
your pardon of that which I said to you on Sunday, when you spoke to me of
your beauty, for so grievously was I chastised therefor that very night,
that 'tis but to-day that I have been able to quit my bed." "And by whom,"
quoth my Lady Battledore, "were you so chastised?" "I will tell you,"
returned Fra Alberto. "That night I was, as is ever my wont, at my orisons,
when suddenly a great light shone in my cell, and before I could turn me to
see what it was, I saw standing over me a right goodly youth with a stout
cudgel in his hand, who seized me by the habit and threw me at his feet and
belaboured me till I was bruised from head to foot. And when I asked him why
he used me thus, he answered:--''Tis because thou didst to-day presume to
speak slightingly of the celestial charms of Monna Lisetta, whom I love next
to God Himself.' Whereupon I asked:--'And who are you?' And he made answer
that he was the Angel Gabriel. Then said I:--'O my lord, I pray you pardon
me.' Whereto he answered:--'I pardon thee on condition that thou go to her,
with what speed thou mayst, and obtain her pardon, which if she accord thee
not, I shall come back hither and give thee belabourings enough with my
cudgel to make thee a sad man for the rest of thy days.' What more he said,
I dare not tell you, unless you first pardon me." Whereat our flimsy
pumpion-pated Lady Lackbrain was overjoyed, taking all the friar's words for
gospel. So after a while she said:--"And did I not tell you, Fra Alberto,
that my charms were celestial? But, so help me God, I am moved to pity of
you, and forthwith I pardon you, lest worse should befall you, so only you
tell me what more the Angel said." "So will I gladly, Madam," returned Fra
Alberto, "now that I have your pardon; this only I bid you bear in mind,
that you have a care that never a soul in the world hear from you a single
word of what I shall say to you, if you would not spoil your good fortune,
wherein there is not to-day in the whole world a lady that may compare with
you. Know then that the Angel Gabriel bade me tell you that you stand so
high in his favour that again and again he would have come to pass the night
with you, but that he doubted he should affright you. So now he sends you
word through me that he would fain come one night, and stay a while with
you; and seeing that, being an angel, if he should visit you in his angelic
shape, he might not be touched by you, he would, to pleasure you, present
himself in human shape; and so he bids you send him word, when you would
have him come, and in whose shape, and he will come; for which cause you may
deem yourself more blessed than any other lady that lives." My Lady Vanity
then said that she was highly flattered to be beloved of the Angel Gabriel;
whom she herself loved so well that she had never grudged four soldi to burn
a candle before his picture, wherever she saw it, and that he was welcome to
visit her as often as he liked, and would always find her alone in her room;
on the understanding, however, that he should not desert her for the Virgin
Mary, whom she had heard he did mightily affect, and indeed 'twould so
appear, for, wherever she saw him, he was always on his knees at her feet:
for the rest he might even come in what shape he pleased, so that it was not
such as to terrify her. Then said Fra Alberto:--"Madam, 'tis wisely spoken;
and I will arrange it all with him just as you say. But 'tis in your power
to do me a great favour, which will cost you nothing; and this favour is
that you be consenting that he visit you in my shape. Now hear wherein you
will confer this favour: thus will it be: he will disembody my soul, and set
it in Paradise, entering himself into my body; and, as long as he shall be
with you, my soul will be in Paradise." Whereto my Lady Slenderwit:--"So be
it," she said; "I am well pleased that you have this solace to salve the
bruises that he gives you on my account." "Good," said Fra Alberto; "then
you will see to it that to-night he find, when he comes, your outer door
unlatched, that he may have ingress; for, coming, as he will, in human
shape, he will not be able to enter save by the door." "It shall be done,"
replied the lady. Whereupon Fra Alberto took his leave, and the lady
remained in such a state of exaltation that her nether end knew not her
chemise, and it seemed to her a thousand years until the Angel Gabriel
should come to visit her. Fra Alberto, bethinking him that 'twas not as an
angel, but as a cavalier that he must acquit himself that night, fell to
fortifying himself with comfits and other dainties, that he might not lose
his saddle for slight cause. Then, leave of absence gotten, he betook him at
nightfall, with a single companion, to the house of a woman that was his
friend, which house had served on former occasions as his base when he went
a chasing the fillies; and having there disguised himself, he hied him, when
he deemed 'twas time, to the house of the lady, where, donning the gewgaws
he had brought with him, he transformed himself into an angel, and going up,
entered the lady's chamber. No sooner saw she this dazzling apparition than
she fell on her knees before the Angel, who gave her his blessing, raised
her to her feet, and motioned her to go to bed. She, nothing loath, obeyed
forthwith, and the Angel lay down beside his devotee. Now, Fra Alberto was a
stout, handsome fellow, whose legs bore themselves right bravely; and being
bedded with Monna Lisetta, who was lusty and delicate, he covered her after
another fashion than her husband had been wont, and took many a flight that
night without wings, so that she heartily cried him content; and not a
little therewithal did he tell her of the glory celestial. Then towards
daybreak, all being ready for his return, he hied him forth, and repaired,
caparisoned as he was, to his friend, whom, lest he should be affrighted,
sleeping alone, the good woman of the house had solaced with her company.
The lady, so soon as she had breakfasted, betook her to Fra Alberto, and
reported the Angel Gabriel's visit, and what he had told her of the glory of
the life eternal, describing his appearance, not without some added marvels
of her own invention. Whereto Fra Alberto replied:--"Madam, I know not how
you fared with him; but this I know, that last night he came to me, and for
that I had done his errand with you, he suddenly transported my soul among
such a multitude of flowers and roses as was never seen here below, and my
soul--what became of my body I know not--tarried in one of the most
delightful places that ever was from that hour until matins." "As for your
body," said the lady, "do I not tell you whose it was? It lay all night long
with the Angel Gabriel in my arms; and if you believe me not, you have but
to took under your left pap, where I gave the Angel a mighty kiss, of which
the mark will last for some days." "Why then," said Fra Alberto, "I will
even do to-day what 'tis long since I did, to wit, undress, that I may see
if you say sooth." So they fooled it a long while, and then the lady went
home, where Fra Alberto afterwards paid her many a visit without any let.
However, one day it so befell that while Monna Lisetta was with one of her
gossips canvassing beauties, she, being minded to exalt her own charms above
all others, and having, as we know, none too much wit in her pumpion-pate,
observed:--"Did you but know by whom my charms are prized, then, for sure,
you would have nought to say of the rest." Her gossip, all agog to hear, for
well she knew her foible, answered:--"Madam, it may be as you say, but
still, while one knows not who he may be, one cannot alter one's mind so
rapidly." Whereupon my Lady Featherbrain:--"Gossip," said she, "'tis not for
common talk, but he that I wot of is the Angel Gabriel, who loves me more
dearly than himself, for that I am, so he tells me, the fairest lady in all
the world, ay, and in the Maremma to boot."(2) Whereat her gossip would fain
have laughed, but held herself in, being minded to hear more from her.
Wherefore she said:--"God's faith, Madam, if 'tis the Angel Gabriel, and he
tells you so, why, so of course it must needs be; but I wist not the angels
meddled with such matters." "There you erred, gossip," said the lady:
"zounds, he does it better than my husband, and he tells me they do it above
there too, but, as he rates my charms above any that are in heaven, he is
enamoured of me, and not seldom visits me: so now dost see?" So away went
the gossip so agog to tell the story, that it seemed to her a thousand years
till she was where it might be done; and being met for recreation with a
great company of ladies, she narrated it all in detail: whereby it passed to
the ladies' husbands, and to other ladies, and from them to yet other
ladies, so that in less than two days all Venice was full of it. But among
others, whose ears it reached, were Monna Lisetta's brothers-in-law, who,
keeping their own counsel, resolved to find this angel and make out whether
he knew how to fly; to which end they kept watch for some nights. Whereof no
hint, as it happened, reached Fra Alberto's ears; and so, one night when he
was come to enjoy the lady once more, he was scarce undressed when her
brothers-in-law, who had seen him come, were at the door of the room and
already opening it, when Fra Alberto, hearing the noise and apprehending the
danger, started up, and having no other resource, threw open a window that
looked on to the Grand Canal, and plunged into the water. The depth was
great, and he was an expert swimmer; so that he took no hurt, but, having
reached the other bank, found a house open, and forthwith entered it,
praying the good man that was within, for God's sake to save his life, and
trumping up a story to account for his being there at so late an hour, and
stripped to the skin. The good man took pity on him, and having occasion to
go out, he put him in his own bed, bidding him stay there until his return;
and so, having locked him in, he went about his business.

Now when the lady's brothers-in-law entered the room, and found that the
Angel Gabriel had taken flight, leaving his wings behind him, being baulked
of their prey, they roundly rated the lady, and then, leaving her
disconsolate, betook themselves home with the Angel's spoils. Whereby it
befell, that, when 'twas broad day, the good man, being on the Rialto, heard
tell how the Angel Gabriel had come to pass the night with Monna Lisetta,
and, being surprised by her brothers-in-law, had taken fright, and thrown
himself into the Canal, and none knew what was become of him. The good man
guessed in a trice that the said Angel was no other than the man he had at
home, whom on his return he recognized, and, after much chaffering, brought
him to promise him fifty ducats that he might not be given up to the lady's
brothers-in-law. The bargain struck, Fra Alberto signified a desire to be
going. Whereupon:--"There is no way," said the good man, "but one, if you
are minded to take it. To-day we hold a revel, wherein folk lead others
about in various disguises; as, one man will present a bear, another a wild
man, and so forth; and then in the piazza of San Marco there is a hunt,
which done, the revel is ended; and then away they hie them, whither they
will, each with the man he has led about. If you are willing to be led by me
in one or another of these disguises, before it can get wind that you are
here, I can bring you whither you would go; otherwise I see not how you are
to quit this place without being known; and the lady's brothers-in-law,
reckoning that you must be lurking somewhere in this quarter, have set
guards all about to take you." Loath indeed was Fra Alberto to go in such a
guise, but such was his fear of the lady's relations that he consented, and
told the good man whither he desired to be taken, and that he was content to
leave the choice of the disguise to him. The good man then smeared him all
over with honey, and covered him with down, set a chain on his neck and a
vizard on his face, gave him a stout cudgel to carry in one hand, and two
huge dogs, which he had brought from the shambles, to lead with the other,
and sent a man to the Rialto to announce that whoso would see the Angel
Gabriel should hie him to the piazza of San Marco; in all which he acted as
a leal Venetian. And so, after a while, he led him forth, and then, making
him go before, held him by the chain behind, and through a great throng that
clamoured:--"What manner of thing is this? what manner of thing is this?" he
brought him to the piazza, where, what with those that followed them, and
those that had come from the Rialto on hearing the announcement, there were
folk without end. Arrived at the piazza, he fastened his wild man to a
column in a high and exposed place, making as if he were minded to wait till
the hunt should begin; whereby the flies and gadflies, attracted by the
honey with which he was smeared, caused him most grievous distress. However,
the good man waited only until the piazza was thronged, and then, making as
if he would unchain his wild man, he tore the vizard from Fra Alberto's
face, saying:--"Gentlemen, as the boar comes not to the hunt, and the hunt
does not take place, that it be not for nothing that you are come hither, I
am minded to give you a view of the Angel Gabriel, who comes down from
heaven to earth by night to solace the ladies of Venice." The vizard was no
sooner withdrawn than all recognized Fra Alberto, and greeted him with
hootings, rating him in language as offensive and opprobrious as ever rogue
was abused withal, and pelting him in the face with every sort of filth that
came to hand: in which plight they kept him an exceeding great while, until
by chance the bruit thereof reached his brethren, of whom some six thereupon
put themselves in motion, and, arrived at the piazza, clapped a habit on his
back, and unchained him, and amid an immense uproar led him off to their
convent, where, after languishing a while in prison, 'tis believed that he

So this man, by reason that, being reputed righteous, he did evil, and 'twas
not imputed to him, presumed to counterfeit the Angel Gabriel, and, being
transformed into a wild man, was in the end put to shame, as he deserved,
and vainly bewailed his misdeeds. God grant that so it may betide all his

(1) de' maggior cassesi. No such word as cassesi is known to the
lexicographers or commentators; and no plausible emendation has yet been

(2) With this ineptitude cf. the friar's "flowers and roses " on the
preceding page.


Three young men love three sisters, and flee with them to Crete. The eldest
of the sisters slays her lover for jealousy. The second saves the life of
the first by yielding herself to the Duke of Crete. Her lover slays her, and
makes off with the first: the third sister and her lover are charged with
the murder, are arrested and confess the crime. They escape death by bribing
the guards, flee destitute to Rhodes, and there in destitution die.

Pampinea's story ended, Filostrato mused a while, and then said to her:--"A
little good matter there was that pleased me at the close of your story,
but, before 'twas reached, there was far too much to laugh at, which I could
have wished had not been there." Then, turning to Lauretta, he said:--
"Madam, give us something better to follow, if so it may be." Lauretta
replied with a laugh:--"Harsh beyond measure are you to the lovers, to
desire that their end be always evil; but, as in duty bound, I will tell a
story of three, who all alike came to a bad end, having had little joyance
of their loves;" and so saying, she began.

Well may ye wot, young ladies, for 'tis abundantly manifest, that there is
no vice but most grievous disaster may ensue thereon to him that practises
it, and not seldom to others; and of all the vices that which hurries us
into peril with loosest rein is, methinks, anger; which is nought but a rash
and hasty impulse, prompted by a feeling of pain, which banishes reason,
shrouds the eyes of the mind in thick darkness, and sets the soul ablaze
with a fierce frenzy. Which, though it not seldom befall men, and one rather
than another, has nevertheless been observed to be fraught in women with
more disastrous consequences, inasmuch as in them the flame is both more
readily kindled, and burns more brightly, and with less impediment to its
vehemence. Wherein is no cause to marvel, for, if we consider it, we shall
see that 'tis of the nature of fire to lay hold more readily of things light
and delicate than of matters of firmer and more solid substance; and sure it
is that we (without offence to the men be it spoken) are more delicate than
they, and much more mobile. Wherefore, seeing how prone we are thereto by
nature, and considering also our gentleness and tenderness, how soothing and
consolatory they are to the men with whom we consort, and that thus this
madness of wrath is fraught with grievous annoy and peril; therefore, that
with stouter heart we may defend ourselves against it, I purpose by my story
to shew you, how the loves of three young men, and as many ladies, as I said
before, were by the anger of one of the ladies changed from a happy to a
most woeful complexion.

Marseilles, as you know, is situate on the coast of Provence, a city ancient
and most famous, and in old time the seat of many more rich men and great
merchants than are to be seen there to-day, among whom was one Narnald
Cluada by name, a man of the lowest origin, but a merchant of unsullied
probity and integrity, and boundless wealth in lands and goods and money,
who had by his lady several children, three of them being daughters, older,
each of them, than the other children, who were sons. Two of the daughters,
who were twins, were, when my story begins, fifteen years old, and the third
was but a year younger, so that in order to their marriage their kinsfolk
awaited nothing but the return of Narnald from Spain, whither he was gone
with his merchandise. One of the twins was called Ninette, the other
Madeleine; the third daughter's name was Bertelle. A young man, Restagnon by
name, who, though poor, was of gentle blood, was in the last degree
enamoured of Ninette, and she of him; and so discreetly had they managed the
affair, that, never another soul in the world witting aught of it, they had
had joyance of their love, and that for a good while, when it so befell that
two young friends of theirs, the one Foulques, the other Hugues by name,
whom their fathers, recently dead, had left very wealthy, fell in love, the
one with Madeleine, the other with Bertelle. Whereof Restagnon being
apprised by Ninette bethought him that in their love he might find a means
to the relief of his necessities. He accordingly consorted freely and
familiarly with them, accompanying, now one, now the other, and sometimes
both of them, when they went to visit their ladies and his; and when he
judged that he had made his footing as friendly and familiar as need was, he
bade them one day to his house, and said:--"Comrades most dear, our
friendship, perchance, may not have left you without assurance of the great
love I bear you, and that for you I would do even as much as for myself:
wherefore, loving you thus much, I purpose to impart to you that which is in
my mind, that in regard thereof, you and I together may then resolve in such
sort as to you shall seem the best. You, if I may trust your words, as also
what I seem to have gathered from your demeanour by day and by night, burn
with an exceeding great love for the two ladies whom you affect, as I for
their sister. For the assuagement whereof, I have good hope that, if you
will unite with me, I shall find means most sweet and delightsome; to wit,
on this wise. You possess, as I do not, great wealth: now if you are willing
to make of your wealth a common stock with me as third partner therein, and
to choose some part of the world where we may live in careless ease upon our
substance, without any manner of doubt I trust so to prevail that the three
sisters with great part of their father's substance shall come to live with
us, wherever we shall see fit to go; whereby, each with his own lady, we
shall live as three brethren, the happiest men in the world. 'Tis now for
you to determine whether you will embrace this proffered solace, or let it
slip from you." The two young men, whose love was beyond all measure
fervent, spared themselves the trouble of deliberation: 'twas enough that
they heard that they were to have their ladies: wherefore they answered,
that, so this should ensue, they were ready to do as he proposed. Having
thus their answer, Restagnon a few days later was closeted with Ninette, to
whom 'twas a matter of no small difficulty for him to get access. Nor had he
been long with her before he adverted to what had passed between him and the
young men, and sought to commend the project to her for reasons not a few.
Little need, however, had he to urge her: for to live their life openly
together was the very thing she desired, far more than he: wherefore she
frankly answered that she would have it so, that her sisters would do, more
especially in this matter, just as she wished, and that he should lose no
time in making all the needful arrangements. So Restagnon returned to the
two young men, who were most urgent that it should be done even as he said,
and told them that on the part of the ladies the matter was concluded. And
so, having fixed upon Crete for their destination, and sold some estates
that they had, giving out that they were minded to go a trading with the
proceeds, they converted all else that they possessed into money, and bought
a brigantine, which with all secrecy they handsomely equipped, anxiously
expecting the time of their departure, while Ninette on her part, knowing
well how her sisters were affected, did so by sweet converse foment their
desire that, till it should be accomplished, they accounted their life as
nought. The night of their embarcation being come, the three sisters opened
a great chest that belonged to their father, and took out therefrom a vast
quantity of money and jewels, with which they all three issued forth of the
house in dead silence, as they had been charged, and found their three
lovers awaiting them; who, having forthwith brought them aboard the
brigantine, bade the rowers give way, and, tarrying nowhere, arrived the
next evening at Genoa, where the new lovers had for the first time joyance
and solace of their love.

Having taken what they needed of refreshment, they resumed their course,
touching at this port and that, and in less than eight days, speeding
without impediment, were come to Crete. There they bought them domains both
beautiful and broad, whereon, hard by Candia they built them mansions most
goodly and delightsome, wherein they lived as barons, keeping a crowd of
retainers, with dogs, hawks and horses, and speeding the time with their
ladies in feasting and revelling and merrymaking, none so light-hearted as
they. Such being the tenor of their life, it so befell that (as 'tis matter
of daily experience that, however delightsome a thing may be, superabundance
thereof will breed disgust) Restagnon, much as he had loved Ninette, being
now able to have his joyance of her without stint or restraint, began to
weary of her, and by consequence to abate somewhat of his love for her. And
being mightily pleased with a fair gentlewoman of the country, whom he met
at a merrymaking, he set his whole heart upon her, and began to shew himself
marvellously courteous and gallant towards her; which Ninette perceiving
grew so jealous that he might not go a step but she knew of it, and resented
it to his torment and her own with high words. But as, while superfluity
engenders disgust, appetite is but whetted when fruit is forbidden, so
Ninette's wrath added fuel to the flame of Restagnon's new love. And
whichever was the event, whether in course of time Restagnon had the lady's
favour or had it not, Ninette, whoever may have brought her the tidings,
firmly believed that he had it; whereby from the depths of distress she
passed into a towering passion, and thus was transported into such a frenzy
of rage that all the love she bore to Restagnon was converted into bitter
hatred, and, blinded by her wrath, she made up her mind to avenge by
Restagnon's death the dishonour which she deemed that he had done her. So
she had recourse to an old Greek woman, that was very skilful in compounding
poisons, whom by promises and gifts she induced to distill a deadly water,
which, keeping her own counsel, she herself gave Restagnon to drink one
evening, when he was somewhat heated and quite off his guard: whereby--such
was the efficacy of the water--she despatched Restagnon before matins. On
learning his death Foulques and Hugues and their ladies, who knew not that
he had been poisoned, united their bitter with Ninette's feigned
lamentations, and gave him honourable sepulture. But so it befell that, not
many days after, the old woman, that had compounded the poison for Ninette,
was taken for another crime; and, being put to the torture, confessed the
compounding of the poison among other of her misdeeds, and fully declared
what had thereby come to pass. Wherefore the Duke of Crete, breathing no
word of his intent, came privily by night, and set a guard around Foulques'
palace, where Ninette then was, and quietly, and quite unopposed, took and
carried her off; and without putting her to the torture, learned from her in
a trice all that he sought to know touching the death of Restagnon. Foulques
and Hugues had learned privily of the Duke, and their ladies of them, for
what cause Ninette was taken; and, being mightily distressed thereby,
bestirred themselves with all zeal to save Ninette from the fire, to which
they apprehended she would be condemned, as having indeed richly deserved
it; but all their endeavours seemed to avail nothing, for the Duke was
unwaveringly resolved that justice should be done. Madeleine, Foulques' fair
wife, who had long been courted by the Duke, but had never deigned to shew
him the least favour, thinking that by yielding herself to his will she
might redeem her sister from the fire, despatched a trusty envoy to him with
the intimation that she was entirely at his disposal upon the twofold
condition, that in the first place her sister should be restored to her free
and scatheless, and, in the second place, the affair should be kept secret.
Albeit gratified by this overture, the Duke was long in doubt whether he
should accept it; in the end, however, he made up his mind to do so, and
signified his approval to the envoy. Then with the lady's consent he put
Foulques and Hugues under arrest for a night, as if he were minded to
examine them of the affair, and meanwhile quartered himself privily with
Madeleine. Ninette, who, he had made believe, had been set in a sack, and
was to be sunk in the sea that same night, he took with him, and presented
her to her sister in requital of the night's joyance, which, as he parted
from her on the morrow, he prayed her might not be the last, as it was the
first, fruit of their love, at the same time enjoining her to send the
guilty lady away that she might not bring reproach upon him, nor he be
compelled to deal rigorously with her again. Released the same morning, and
told that Ninette had been cast into the sea, Foulques and Hugues, fully
believing that so it was, came home, thinking how they should console their
ladies for the death of their sister; but, though Madeleine was at great
pains to conceal Ninette, Foulques nevertheless, to his no small amazement,
discovered that she was there; which at once excited his suspicion, for he
knew that the Duke had been enamoured of Madeleine; and he asked how it was
that Ninette was there. Madeleine made up a long story by way of
explanation, to which his sagacity gave little credit, and in the end after
long parley he constrained her to tell the truth. Whereupon, overcome with
grief, and transported with rage, he drew his sword, and, deaf to her
appeals for mercy, slew her. Then, fearing the vengeful justice of the Duke,
he left the dead body in the room, and hied him to Ninette, and with a
counterfeit gladsome mien said to her:--"Go we without delay whither thy
sister has appointed that I escort thee, that thou fall not again into the
hands of the Duke." Ninette believed him, and being fain to go for very
fear, she forewent further leave-taking of her sister, more particularly as
it was now night, and set out with Foulques, who took with him such little
money as he could lay his hands upon; and so they made their way to the
coast, where they got aboard a bark, but none ever knew where their voyage

Madeleine's dead body being discovered next day, certain evil-disposed folk,
that bore a grudge to Hugues, forthwith apprised the Duke of the fact; which
brought the Duke--for much he loved Madeleine--in hot haste to the house,
where he arrested Hugues and his lady, who as yet knew nothing of the
departure of Foulques and Ninette, and extorted from them a confession that
they and Foulques were jointly answerable for Madeleine's death. For which
cause being justly apprehensive of death, they with great address corrupted
the guards that had charge of them, giving them a sum of money which they
kept concealed in their house against occasions of need; and together with
the guards fled with all speed, leaving all that they possessed behind them,
and took ship by night for Rhodes, where, being arrived, they lived in great
poverty and misery no long time. Such then was the issue, to which
Restagnon, by his foolish love, and Ninette by her wrath brought themselves
and others.


Gerbino, in breach of the plighted faith of his grandfather, King Guglielmo,
attacks a ship of the King of Tunis to rescue thence his daughter. She being
slain by those aboard the ship, he slays them, and afterwards he is

Lauretta, her story ended, kept silence; and the king brooded as in deep
thought, while one or another of the company deplored the sad fate of this
or the other of the lovers, or censured Ninette's wrath, or made some other
comment. At length, however, the king roused himself, and raising his head,
made sign to Elisa that 'twas now for her to speak. So, modestly, Elisa thus
began:--Gracious ladies, not a few there are that believe that Love looses
no shafts save when he is kindled by the eyes, contemning their opinion that
hold that passion may be engendered by words; whose error will be abundantly
manifest in a story which I purpose to tell you; wherein you may see how
mere rumour not only wrought mutual love in those that had never seen one
another, but also brought both to a miserable death.

Guglielmo, the Second,(1) as the Sicilians compute, King of Sicily, had two
children, a son named Ruggieri, and a daughter named Gostanza. Ruggieri died
before his father, and left a son named Gerbino; who, being carefully
trained by his grandfather, grew up a most goodly gallant, and of great
renown in court and camp, and that not only within the borders of Sicily,
but in divers other parts of the world, among them Barbary, then tributary
to the King of Sicily. And among others, to whose ears was wafted the bruit
of Gerbino's magnificent prowess and courtesy, was a daughter of the King of
Tunis, who, by averment of all that had seen her, was a creature as fair and
debonair, and of as great and noble a spirit as Nature ever formed. To hear
tell of brave men was her delight, and what she heard, now from one, now
from another, of the brave deeds of Gerbino she treasured in her mind so
sedulously, and pondered them with such pleasure, rehearsing them to herself
in imagination, that she became hotly enamoured of him, and there was none
of whom she talked, or heard others talk, so gladly. Nor, on the other hand,
had the fame of her incomparable beauty and other excellences failed to
travel, as to other lands, so also to Sicily, where, falling on Gerbino's
ears, it gave him no small delight, to such effect that he burned for the
lady no less vehemently than she for him. Wherefore, until such time as he
might, upon some worthy occasion, have his grandfather's leave to go to
Tunis, yearning beyond measure to see her, he charged every friend of his,
that went thither, to give her to know, as best he might, his great and
secret love for her, and to bring him tidings of her. Which office one of
the said friends discharged with no small address; for, having obtained
access to her, after the manner of merchants, by bringing jewels for her to
look at, he fully apprised her of Gerbino's passion, and placed him, and all
that he possessed, entirely at her disposal. The lady received both
messenger and message with gladsome mien, made answer that she loved with
equal ardour, and in token thereof sent Gerbino one of her most precious
jewels. Gerbino received the jewel with extreme delight, and sent her many a
letter and many a most precious gift by the hand of the same messenger; and
'twas well understood between them that, should Fortune accord him
opportunity, he should see and know her.

On this footing the affair remained somewhat longer than was expedient; and
so, while Gerbino and the lady burned with mutual love, it befell that the
King of Tunis gave her in marriage to the King of Granada;(2) whereat she
was wroth beyond measure, for that she was not only going into a country
remote from her lover, but, as she deemed, was severed from him altogether;
and so this might not come to pass, gladly, could she but have seen how,
would she have left her father and fled to Gerbino. In like manner, Gerbino,
on learning of the marriage, was vexed beyond measure, and was oft times
minded, could he but find means to win to her husband by sea, to wrest her
from him by force. Some rumour of Gerbino's love and of his intent, reached
the King of Tunis, who, knowing his prowess and power, took alarm, and as
the time drew nigh for conveying the lady to Granada, sent word of his
purpose to King Guglielmo, and craved his assurance that it might be carried
into effect without let or hindrance on the part of Gerbino, or any one
else. The old King had heard nothing of Gerbino's love affair, and never
dreaming that 'twas on such account that the assurance was craved, granted
it without demur, and in pledge thereof sent the King of Tunis his glove.
Which received, the King made ready a great and goodly ship in the port of
Carthage, and equipped her with all things meet for those that were to man
her, and with all appointments apt and seemly for the reception of his
daughter, and awaited only fair weather to send her therein to Granada. All
which the young lady seeing and marking, sent one of her servants privily to
Palermo, bidding him greet the illustrious Gerbino on her part, and tell him
that a few days would see her on her way to Granada; wherefore 'twould now
appear whether, or no, he were really as doughty a man as he was reputed,
and loved her as much as he had so often protested. The servant did not fail
to deliver her message exactly, and returned to Tunis, leaving Gerbino, who
knew that his grandfather, King Guglielmo, had given the King of Tunis the
desired assurance, at a loss how to act. But prompted by love, and goaded by
the lady's words and loath to seem a craven, he hied him to Messina; and
having there armed two light galleys, and manned them with good men and
true, he put to sea, and stood for Sardinia, deeming that the lady's ship
must pass that way. Nor was he far out in his reckoning; for he had not been
there many days, when the ship, sped by a light breeze, hove in sight not
far from the place where he lay in wait for her. Whereupon Gerbino said to
his comrades:--"Gentlemen, if you be as good men and true as I deem you,
there is none of you but must have felt, if he feel not now, the might of
love; for without love I deem no mortal capable of true worth or aught that
is good; and if you are or have been in love, 'twill be easy for you to
understand that which I desire. I love, and 'tis because I love that I have
laid this travail upon you; and that which I love is in the ship that you
see before you, which is fraught not only with my beloved, but with immense
treasures, which, if you are good men and true, we, so we but play the man
in fight, may with little trouble make our own; nor for my share of the
spoils of the victory demand I aught but a lady, whose love it is that
prompts me to take arms: all else I freely cede to you from this very hour.
Forward, then; attack we this ship; success should be ours, for God favours
our enterprise, nor lends her wind to evade us." Fewer words might have
sufficed the illustrious Gerbino; for the rapacious Messinese that were with
him were already bent heart and soul upon that to which by his harangue he
sought to animate them. So, when he had done, they raised a mighty shout, so
that 'twas as if trumpets did blare, and caught up their arms, and smiting
the water with their oars, overhauled the ship. The advancing galleys were
observed while they were yet a great way off by the ship's crew, who, not
being able to avoid the combat, put themselves in a posture of defence.
Arrived at close quarters, the illustrious Gerbino bade send the ship's
masters aboard the galleys, unless they were minded to do battle. Certified
of the challenge, and who they were that made it, the Saracens answered that
'twas in breach of the faith plighted to them by their assailants' king that
they were thus attacked, and in token thereof displayed King Guglielmo's
glove, averring in set terms that there should be no surrender either of
themselves or of aught that was aboard the ship without battle. Gerbino, who
had observed the lady standing on the ship's poop, and seen that she was far
more beautiful than he had imagined, burned with a yet fiercer flame than
before, and to the display of the glove made answer, that, as he had no
falcons there just then, the glove booted him not; wherefore, so they were
not minded to surrender the lady, let them prepare to receive battle.
Whereupon, without further delay, the battle began on both sides with a
furious discharge of arrows and stones; on which wise it was long protracted
to their common loss; until at last Gerbino, seeing that he gained little
advantage, took a light bark which they had brought from Sardinia, and
having fired her, bore down with her, and both the galleys, upon the ship.
Whereupon the Saracens, seeing that they must perforce surrender the ship or
die, caused the King's daughter, who lay beneath the deck weeping, to come
up on deck, and led her to the prow, and shouting to Gerbino, while the lady
shrieked alternately "mercy" and "succour," opened her veins before his
eyes, and cast her into the sea, saying:--"Take her; we give her to thee on
such wise as we can, and as thy faith has merited." Maddened to witness this
deed of barbarism, Gerbino, as if courting death, recked no more of the
arrows and the stones, but drew alongside the ship, and, despite the
resistance of her crew, boarded her; and as a famished lion ravens amongst a
herd of oxen, and tearing and rending, now one, now another, gluts his wrath
before he appeases his hunger, so Gerbino, sword in hand, hacking and hewing
on all sides among the Saracens, did ruthlessly slaughter not a few of them;
till, as the burning ship began to blaze more fiercely, he bade the seamen
take thereout all that they might by way of guerdon, which done, he quitted
her, having gained but a rueful victory over his adversaries. His next care
was to recover from the sea the body of the fair lady, whom long and with
many a tear he mourned: and so he returned to Sicily, and gave the body
honourable sepulture in Ustica, an islet that faces, as it were, Trapani,
and went home the saddest man alive.

When these tidings reached the King of Tunis, he sent to King Guglielmo
ambassadors, habited in black, who made complaint of the breach of faith and
recited the manner of its occurrence. Which caused King Guglielmo no small
chagrin; and seeing not how he might refuse the justice they demanded, he
had Gerbino arrested, and he himself, none of his barons being able by any
entreaty to turn him from his purpose, sentenced him to forfeit his head,
and had it severed from his body in his presence, preferring to suffer the
loss of his only grandson than to gain the reputation of a faithless king.
And so, miserably, within the compass of a few brief days, died the two
lovers by woeful deaths, as I have told you, and without having known any
joyance of their love.

(1) First, according to the now accepted reckoning. He reigned from 1154 to

(2) An anachronism; the Moorish kingdom of Granada not having been founded
until 1238.


Lisabetta's brothers slay her lover: he appears to her in a dream, and shews
her where he is buried: she privily disinters the head, and sets it in a pot
of basil, whereon she daily weeps a great while. The pot being taken from
her by her brothers, she dies, not long after.

Elisa's story ended, the king bestowed a few words of praise upon it, and
then laid the burden of discourse upon Filomena, who, full of compassion for
the woes of Gerbino and his lady, heaved a piteous sigh, and thus began:--My
story, gracious ladies, will not be of folk of so high a rank as those of
whom Elisa has told us, but perchance 'twill not be less touching. 'Tis
brought to my mind by the recent mention of Messina, where the matter

Know then that there were at Messina three young men, that were brothers and
merchants, who were left very rich on the death of their father, who was of
San Gimignano; and they had a sister, Lisabetta by name, a girl fair enough,
and no less debonair, but whom, for some reason or another, they had not as
yet bestowed in marriage. The three brothers had also in their shop a young
Pisan, Lorenzo by name, who managed all their affairs, and who was so goodly
of person and gallant, that Lisabetta bestowed many a glance upon him, and
began to regard him with extraordinary favour; which Lorenzo marking from
time to time, gave up all his other amours, and in like manner began to
affect her, and so, their loves being equal, 'twas not long before they took
heart of grace, and did that which each most desired. Wherein continuing to
their no small mutual solace and delight, they neglected to order it with
due secrecy, whereby one night as Lisabetta was going to Lorenzo's room,
she, all unwitting, was observed by the eldest of the brothers, who, albeit
much distressed by what he had learnt, yet, being a young man of discretion,
was swayed by considerations more seemly, and, allowing no word to escape
him, spent the night in turning the affair over in his mind in divers ways.
On the morrow he told his brothers that which, touching Lisabetta and
Lorenzo, he had observed in the night, which, that no shame might thence
ensue either to them or to their sister, they after long consultation
determined to pass over in silence, making as if they had seen or heard
nought thereof, until such time as they in a safe and convenient manner
might banish this disgrace from their sight before it could go further.
Adhering to which purpose, they jested and laughed with Lorenzo as they had
been wont; and after a while pretending that they were all three going forth
of the city on pleasure, they took Lorenzo with them; and being come to a
remote and very lonely spot, seeing that 'twas apt for their design, they
took Lorenzo, who was completely off his guard, and slew him, and buried him
on such wise that none was ware of it. On their return to Messina they gave
out that they had sent him away on business; which was readily believed,
because 'twas what they had been frequently used to do. But as Lorenzo did
not return, and Lisabetta questioned the brothers about him with great
frequency and urgency, being sorely grieved by his long absence, it so
befell that one day, when she was very pressing in her enquiries, one of the
brothers said:--"What means this? What hast thou to do with Lorenzo, that
thou shouldst ask about him so often? Ask us no more, or we will give thee
such answer as thou deservest." So the girl, sick at heart and sorrowful,
fearing she knew not what, asked no questions; but many a time at night she
called piteously to him, and besought him to come to her, and bewailed his
long tarrying with many a tear, and ever yearning for his return, languished
in total dejection.

But so it was that one night, when, after long weeping that her Lorenzo came
not back, she had at last fallen asleep, Lorenzo appeared to her in a dream,
wan and in utter disarray, his clothes torn to shreds and sodden; and thus,
as she thought, he spoke:--"Lisabetta, thou dost nought but call me, and vex
thyself for my long tarrying, and bitterly upbraid me with thy tears;
wherefore be it known to thee that return to thee I may not, because the
last day that thou didst see me thy brothers slew me." After which, he
described the place where they had buried him, told her to call and expect
him no more, and vanished. The girl then awoke, and doubting not that the
vision was true, wept bitterly. And when morning came, and she was risen,
not daring to say aught to her brothers, she resolved to go to the place
indicated in the vision, and see if what she had dreamed were even as it had
appeared to her. So, having leave to go a little way out of the city for
recreation in company with a maid that had at one time lived with them and
knew all that she did, she hied her thither with all speed; and having
removed the dry leaves that were strewn about the place, she began to dig
where the earth seemed least hard. Nor had she dug long, before she found
the body of her hapless lover, whereon as yet there was no trace of
corruption or decay; and thus she saw without any manner of doubt that her
vision was true. And so, saddest of women, knowing that she might not bewail
him there, she would gladly, if she could, have carried away the body and
given it more honourable sepulture elsewhere; but as she might not so do,
she took a knife, and, as best she could, severed the head from the trunk,
and wrapped it in a napkin and laid it in the lap of her maid; and having
covered the rest of the corpse with earth, she left the spot, having been
seen by none, and went home. There she shut herself up in her room with the
head, and kissed it a thousand times in every part, and wept long and
bitterly over it, till she had bathed it in her tears. She then wrapped it
in a piece of fine cloth, and set it in a large and beautiful pot of the
sort in which marjoram or basil is planted, and covered it with earth, and
therein planted some roots of the goodliest basil of Salerno, and drenched
them only with her tears, or water perfumed with roses or orange-blossoms.
And 'twas her wont ever to sit beside this pot, and, all her soul one
yearning, to pore upon it, as that which enshrined her Lorenzo, and when
long time she had so done, she would bend over it, and weep a great while,
until the basil was quite bathed in her tears.

Fostered with such constant, unremitting care, and nourished by the richness
given to the soil by the decaying head that lay therein, the basil burgeoned
out in exceeding great beauty and fragrance. And, the girl persevering ever
in this way of life, the neighbours from time to time took note of it, and
when her brothers marvelled to see her beauty ruined, and her eyes as it
were evanished from her head, they told them of it, saying:--"We have
observed that such is her daily wont." Whereupon the brothers, marking her
behaviour, chid her therefore once or twice, and as she heeded them not,
caused the pot to be taken privily from her. Which, so soon as she missed
it, she demanded with the utmost instance and insistence, and, as they gave
it not back to her, ceased not to wail and weep, insomuch that she fell
sick; nor in her sickness craved she aught but the pot of basil. Whereat the
young men, marvelling mightily, resolved to see what the pot might contain;
and having removed the earth they espied the cloth, and therein the head,
which was not yet so decayed, but that by the curled locks they knew it for
Lorenzo's head. Passing strange they found it, and fearing lest it should be
bruited abroad, they buried the head, and, with as little said as might be,
took order for their privy departure from Messina, and hied them thence to
Naples. The girl ceased not to weep and crave her pot, and, so weeping,
died. Such was the end of her disastrous love; but not a few in course of
time coming to know the truth of the affair, there was one that made the
song that is still sung: to wit:--

A thief he was, I swear,
A sorry Christian he,
That took my basil of Salerno fair, etc.(1)

(1) This Sicilian folk-song, of which Boccaccio quotes only the first two
lines, is given in extenso from MS. Laurent. 38, plut. 42, by Fanfani in his
edition of the Decameron (Florence, 1857). The following is a free

A thief he was, I swear,
A sorry Christian he,
That took my basil of Salerno fair,
That flourished mightily.
Planted by mine own hands with loving care
What time they revelled free:
To spoil another's goods is churlish spite.

To spoil another's goods is churlish spite,
Ay, and most heinous sin.
A basil had I (alas! luckless wight!),
The fairest plant: within
Its shade I slept: 'twas grown to such a height.
But some folk for chagrin
'Reft me thereof, ay, and before my door.

'Reft me thereof, ay, and before my door.
Ah! dolorous day and drear!
Ah! woe is me! Would God I were no more!
My purchase was so dear!
Ah! why that day did I to watch give o'er?
For him my cherished fere
With marjoram I bordered it about.

With marjoram I bordered it about
In May-time fresh and fair,
And watered it thrice ere each week was out,
And marked it grow full yare:
But now 'tis stolen. Ah! too well 'tis known!(1)

But now 'tis stolen. Ah! too well 'tis known!
That no more may I hide:
But had to me a while before been shewn
What then should me betide,
At night before my door I had laid me down
To watch my plant beside.
Yet God Almighty sure me succour might.

Ay, God Almighty sure me succour might,
So were it but His will,
'Gainst him that me hath done so foul despite,
That in dire torment still
I languish, since the thief reft from my sight
My plant that did me thrill,
And to my inmost Soul such comfort lent!

And to my inmost soul such comfort lent!
So fresh its fragrance blew,
That when, what time the sun uprose, I went
My watering to do,
I'd hear the people all in wonderment
Say, whence this perfume new?
And I for love of it of grief shall die.

And I for love of it of grief shall die,
Of my fair plant for dole.
Would one but shew me how I might it buy!
Ah! how 'twould me console!
Ounces(2) an hundred of fine gold have I:
Him would I give the whole,
Ay, and a kiss to boot, so he were fain.

(1) This stanza is defective in the original.

(2) The "oncia" was a Sicilian gold coin worth rather more than a zecchino.


Andreuola loves Gabriotto: she tells him a dream that she has had; he tells
her a dream of his own, and dies suddenly in her arms. While she and her
maid are carrying his corpse to his house, they are taken by the Signory.
She tells how the matter stands, is threatened with violence by the Podesta,
but will not brook it. Her father hears how she is bested; and, her
innocence being established, causes her to be set at large; but she, being
minded to tarry no longer in the world, becomes a nun.

Glad indeed were the ladies to have heard Filomena's story, for that, often
though they had heard the song sung, they had never yet, for all their
enquiries, been able to learn the occasion upon which it was made. When
'twas ended, Pamfilo received the king's command to follow suit, and thus
spoke:--By the dream told in the foregoing story I am prompted to relate one
in which two dreams are told, dreams of that which was to come, as
Lisabetta's was of that which had been, and which were both fulfilled almost
as soon as they were told by those that had dreamed them. Wherefore, loving
ladies, you must know that 'tis the common experience of mankind to have
divers visions during sleep; and albeit the sleeper, while he sleeps, deems
all alike most true, but, being awake, judges some of them to be true,
others to be probable, and others again to be quite devoid of truth, yet not
a few are found to have come to pass. For which cause many are as sure of
every dream as of aught that they see in their waking hours, and so, as
their dreams engender in them fear or hope, are sorrowful or joyous. And on
the other hand there are those that credit no dream, until they see
themselves fallen into the very peril whereof they were forewarned. Of whom
I approve neither sort, for in sooth neither are all dreams true, nor all
alike false. That they are not all true, there is none of us but may many a
time have proved; and that they are not all alike false has already been
shewn in Filomena's story, and shall also, as I said before, be shewn in
mine. Wherefore I deem that in a virtuous course of life and conduct there
is no need to fear aught by reason of any dream that is contrary thereto, or
on that account to give up any just design; and as for crooked and sinister
enterprises, however dreams may seem to favour them, and flatter the hopes
of the dreamer with auspicious omens, none should trust them: rather should
all give full credence to such as run counter thereto. But come we to the

In the city of Brescia there lived of yore a gentleman named Messer Negro da
Ponte Carraro, who with other children had a very fair daughter, Andreuola
by name, who, being unmarried, chanced to fall in love with a neighbour, one
Gabriotto, a man of low degree, but goodly of person and debonair, and
endowed with all admirable qualities; and aided and abetted by the
housemaid, the girl not only brought it to pass that Gabriotto knew that he
was beloved of her, but that many a time to their mutual delight he came to
see her in a fair garden belonging to her father. And that nought but death
might avail to sever them from this their gladsome love, they became privily
man and wife; and, while thus they continued their clandestine intercourse,
it happened that one night, while the girl slept, she saw herself in a dream
in her garden with Gabriotto, who to the exceeding great delight of both
held her in his arms; and while thus they lay, she saw issue from his body
somewhat dark and frightful, the shape whereof she might not discern; which,
as she thought, laid hold of Gabriotto, and in her despite with prodigious
force reft him from her embrace, and bore him with it underground, so that
both were lost to her sight for evermore: whereby stricken with sore and
inexpressible grief, she awoke; and albeit she was overjoyed to find that
'twas not as she had dreamed, yet a haunting dread of what she had seen in
her vision entered her soul. Wherefore, Gabriotto being minded to visit her
on the ensuing night, she did her best endeavour to dissuade him from
coming; but seeing that he was bent upon it, lest he should suspect
somewhat, she received him in her garden, where, having culled roses many,
white and red--for 'twas summer--she sat herself down with him at the base
of a most fair and lucent fountain. There long and joyously they dallied,
and then Gabriotto asked her wherefore she had that day forbade his coming.
Whereupon the lady told him her dream of the night before, and the doubt and
fear which it had engendered in her mind. Whereat Gabriotto laughed, and
said that 'twas the height of folly to put any faith in dreams, for that
they were occasioned by too much or too little food, and were daily seen to
be, one and all, things of nought, adding:--"Were I minded to give heed to
dreams, I should not be here now, for I, too, had a dream last night, which
was on this wise:--Methought I was in a fair and pleasant wood, and there, a
hunting, caught a she-goat as beautiful and loveable as any that ever was
seen, and, as it seemed to me, whiter than snow, which in a little while
grew so tame and friendly that she never stirred from my side. All the same
so jealous was I lest she should leave me, that, meseemed, I had set a
collar of gold around her neck, and held her by a golden chain. And
presently meseemed that, while the she-goat lay at rest with her head in my
lap, there came forth, I knew not whence, a greyhound bitch, black as coal,
famished, and most fearsome to look upon; which made straight for me, and
for, meseemed, I offered no resistance, set her muzzle to my breast on the
left side and gnawed through to the heart, which, meseemed, she tore out to
carry away with her. Whereupon ensued so sore a pain that it brake my sleep,
and as I awoke I laid my hand to my side to feel if aught were amiss there;
but finding nothing I laughed at myself that I had searched. But what
signifies it all? Visions of the like sort, ay, and far more appalling, have
I had in plenty, and nought whatever, great or small, has come of any of
them. So let it pass, and think we how we may speed the time merrily."

What she heard immensely enhanced the already great dread which her own
dream had inspired in the girl; but, not to vex Gabriotto, she dissembled
her terror as best she might. But, though she made great cheer, embracing
and kissing him, and receiving his embraces and kisses, yet she felt a
doubt, she knew not why, and many a time, more than her wont, she would gaze
upon his face, and ever and anon her glance would stray through the garden
to see if any black creature were coming from any quarter. While thus they
passed the time, of a sudden Gabriotto heaved a great sigh, and embracing
her, said:--"Alas! my soul, thy succour! for I die." And so saying, he fell
down upon the grassy mead. Whereupon the girl drew him to her, and laid him
on her lap, and all but wept, and said:--"O sweet my lord, what is't that
ails thee?" But Gabriotto was silent, and gasping sore for breath, and
bathed in sweat, in no long time departed this life.

How grievous was the distress of the girl, who loved him more than herself,
you, my ladies, may well imagine. With many a tear she mourned him, and many
times she vainly called him by his name; but when, having felt his body all
over, and found it cold in every part, she could no longer doubt that he was
dead, knowing not what to say or do, she went, tearful and woebegone, to
call the maid, to whom she had confided her love, and shewed her the woeful
calamity that had befallen her. Piteously a while they wept together over
the dead face of Gabriotto, and then the girl said to the maid:--"Now that
God has reft him from me, I have no mind to linger in this life; but before
I slay myself, I would we might find apt means to preserve my honour, and
the secret of our love, and to bury the body from which the sweet soul has
fled." "My daughter," said the maid, "speak not of slaying thyself, for so
wouldst thou lose in the other world, also, him that thou hast lost here;
seeing that thou wouldst go to hell, whither, sure I am, his soul is not
gone, for a good youth he was; far better were it to put on a cheerful
courage, and bethink thee to succour his soul with thy prayers or pious
works, if perchance he have need thereof by reason of any sin that he may
have committed. We can bury him readily enough in this garden, nor will any
one ever know; for none knows that he ever came hither; and if thou wilt not
have it so, we can bear him forth of the garden, and leave him there; and on
the morrow he will be found, and carried home, and buried by his kinsfolk."
The girl, heavy-laden though she was with anguish, and still weeping, yet
gave ear to the counsels of her maid, and rejecting the former alternative,
made answer to the latter on this wise:--"Now God forbid that a youth so
dear, whom I have so loved and made my husband, should with my consent be
buried like a dog, or left out there in the street. He has had my tears, and
so far as I may avail, he shall have the tears of his kinsfolk, and already
wot I what we must do." And forthwith she sent the maid for a piece of
silken cloth, which she had in one of her boxes; and when the maid returned
with it, they spread it on the ground, and laid Gabriotto's body thereon,
resting the head upon a pillow. She then closed the eyes and mouth, shedding
the while many a tear, wove for him a wreath of roses, and strewed upon him
all the roses that he and she had gathered; which done, she said to the
maid:--"'Tis but a short way hence to the door of his house; so thither we
will bear him, thou and I, thus as we have dight him, and will lay him at
the door. Day will soon dawn, and they will take him up; and, though 'twill
be no consolation to them, I, in whose arms he died, shall be glad of it."
So saying, she burst once more into a torrent of tears, and fell with her
face upon the face of the dead, and so long time she wept. Then, yielding at
last to the urgency of her maid, for day was drawing nigh, she arose, drew
from her finger the ring with which she had been wedded to Gabriotto, and
set it on his finger, saying with tears:--"Dear my lord, if thy soul be
witness of my tears, or if, when the spirit is fled, aught of intelligence
or sense still lurk in the body, graciously receive the last gift of her
whom in life thou didst so dearly love." Which said, she swooned, and fell
upon the corpse; but, coming after a while to herself, she arose; and then
she and her maid took the cloth whereon the body lay, and so bearing it,
quitted the garden, and bent their steps towards the dead man's house. As
thus they went, it chanced that certain of the Podesta's guard, that for
some reason or another were abroad at that hour, met them, and arrested them
with the corpse. Andreuola, to whom death was more welcome than life, no
sooner knew them for the officers of the Signory than she frankly said:--"I
know you, who you are, and that flight would avail me nothing: I am ready to
come with you before the Signory, and to tell all there is to tell; but let
none of you presume to touch me, so long as I obey you, or to take away
aught that is on this body, if he would not that I accuse him." And so, none
venturing to lay hand upon either her person or the corpse, she entered the

So soon as the Podesta was apprised of the affair, he arose, had her brought
into his room, and there made himself conversant with the circumstances: and
certain physicians being charged to inquire whether the good man had met his
death by poison or otherwise, all with one accord averred that 'twas not by
poison, but that he was choked by the bursting of an imposthume near the
heart. Which when the Podesta heard, perceiving that the girl's guilt could
but be slight, he sought to make a pretence of giving what it was not lawful
for him to sell her, and told her that he would set her at liberty, so she
were consenting to pleasure him; but finding that he did but waste his words
he cast aside all decency, and would have used force. Whereupon Andreuola,
kindling with scorn, waxed exceeding brave, and defended herself with a
virile energy, and with high and contumelious words drove him from her.

When 'twas broad day, the affair reached the ears of Messer Negro, who, half
dead with grief, hied him with not a few of his friends to the palace;
where, having heard all that the Podesta had to say, he required him
peremptorily to give him back his daughter. The Podesta, being minded rather
to be his own accuser, than that he should be accused by the girl of the
violence that he had meditated towards her, began by praising her and her
constancy, and in proof thereof went on to tell what he had done; he ended
by saying, that, marking her admirable firmness, he had fallen mightily in
love with her, and so, notwithstanding she had been wedded to a man of low
degree, he would, if 'twere agreeable to her and to her father, Messer
Negro, gladly make her his wife. While they thus spoke, Andreuola made her
appearance, and, weeping, threw herself at her father's feet, saying:--"My
father, I wot I need not tell you the story of my presumption, and the
calamity that has befallen me, for sure I am that you have heard it and know
it; wherefore, with all possible humility I crave your pardon of my fault,
to wit, that without your knowledge I took for my husband him that pleased
me best. And this I crave, not that my life may be spared, but that I may
die as your daughter and not as your enemy;" and so, weeping, she fell at
his feet. Messer Negro, now an old man, and naturally kindly and
affectionate, heard her not without tears, and weeping raised her tenderly
to her feet, saying:--"Daughter mine, I had much liefer had it that thou
hadst had a husband that I deemed a match for thee; and in that thou hadst
taken one that pleased thee I too had been pleased; but thy concealing thy
choice from me is grievous to me by reason of thy distrust of me, and yet
more so, seeing that thou hast lost him before I have known him. But as 'tis
even so, to his remains be paid the honour which, while he lived for thy
contentment, I had gladly done him as my son-in-law." Then, turning to his
sons and kinsmen, he bade them order Gabriotto's obsequies with all pomp and
honourable circumstance.

Meanwhile the young man's kinsmen and kinswomen, having heard the news, had
flocked thither, bringing with them almost all the rest of the folk, men and
women alike, that were in the city. And so his body, resting on Andreuola's
cloth, and covered with her roses, was laid out in the middle of the
courtyard, and there was mourned not by her and his kinsfolk alone, but
publicly by well-nigh all the women of the city, and not a few men; and
shouldered by some of the noblest of the citizens, as it had been the
remains of no plebeian but of a noble, was borne from the public courtyard
to the tomb with exceeding great pomp.

Some days afterwards, as the Podesta continued to urge his suit, Messer
Negro would have discussed the matter with his daughter; but, as she would
hear none of it, and he was minded in this matter to defer to her wishes,
she and her maid entered a religious house of great repute for sanctity,
where in just esteem they lived long time thereafter.


Simona loves Pasquino; they are together in a garden; Pasquino rubs a leaf
of sage against his teeth, and dies; Simona is arrested, and, with intent to
shew the judge how Pasquino died, rubs one of the leaves of the same plant
against her teeth, and likewise dies.

When Pamfilo had done with his story, the king, betraying no compassion for
Andreuola, glancing at Emilia, signified to her his desire that she should
now continue the sequence of narration. Emilia made no demur, and thus

Dear gossips, Pamfilo's story puts me upon telling you another in no wise
like thereto, save in this, that as Andreuola lost her lover in a garden, so
also did she of whom I am to speak, and, being arrested like Andreuola, did
also deliver herself from the court, albeit 'twas not by any vigour or
firmness of mind, but by a sudden death. And, as 'twas said among us a while
ago, albeit Love affects the mansions of the noble, he does not, therefore,
disdain the dominion of the dwellings of the poor, nay, does there at times
give proof of his might no less signal than when he makes him feared of the
wealthiest as a most potent lord. Which, though not fully, will in some
degree appear in my story, wherewith I am minded to return to our city, from
which to-day's discourse, roving from matter to matter, and one part of the
world to another, has carried us so far.

Know then that no great while ago there dwelt in Florence a maid most fair,
and, for her rank, debonair--she was but a poor man's daughter--whose name
was Simona; and though she must needs win with her own hands the bread she
ate, and maintain herself by spinning wool; yet was she not, therefore, of
so poor a spirit, but that she dared to give harbourage in her mind to Love,
who for some time had sought to gain entrance there by means of the gracious
deeds and words of a young man of her own order that went about distributing
wool to spin for his master, a wool-monger. Love being thus, with the
pleasant image of her beloved Pasquino, admitted into her soul, mightily did
she yearn, albeit she hazarded no advance, and heaved a thousand sighs
fiercer than fire with every skein of yarn that she wound upon her spindle,
while she called to mind who he was that had given her that wool to spin.
Pasquino on his part became, meanwhile, very anxious that his master's wool
should be well spun, and most particularly about that which Simona span, as
if, indeed, it and it alone was to furnish forth the whole of the cloth. And
so, what with the anxiety which the one evinced, and the gratification that
it afforded to the other, it befell that, the one waxing unusually bold, and
the other casting off not a little of her wonted shyness and reserve, they
came to an understanding for their mutual solace; which proved so delightful
to both, that neither waited to be bidden by the other, but 'twas rather
which should be the first to make the overture.

While thus they sped their days in an even tenor of delight, and ever grew
more ardently enamoured of one another, Pasquino chanced to say to Simona
that he wished of all things she would contrive how she might betake her to
a garden, whither he would bring her, that there they might be more at their
ease, and in greater security. Simona said that she was agreeable; and,
having given her father to understand that she was minded to go to San Gallo
for the pardoning, she hied her with one of her gossips, Lagina by name, to
the garden of which Pasquino had told her. Here she found Pasquino awaiting
her with a friend, one Puccino, otherwise Stramba; and Stramba and Lagina
falling at once to love-making, Pasquino and Simona left a part of the
garden to them, and withdrew to another part for their own solace.

Now there was in their part of the garden a very fine and lovely sage-bush,
at foot of which they sat them down and made merry together a great while,
and talked much of a junketing they meant to have in the garden quite at
their ease. By and by Pasquino, turning to the great sage-bush, plucked
therefrom a leaf, and fell to rubbing his teeth and gums therewith, saying
that sage was an excellent detergent of aught that remained upon them after
a meal. Having done so, he returned to the topic of the junketing of which
he had spoken before. But he had not pursued it far before his countenance
entirely changed, and forthwith he lost sight and speech, and shortly after
died. Whereupon Simona fell a weeping and shrieking and calling Stramba and
Lagina; who, notwithstanding they came up with all speed, found Pasquino not
only dead but already swollen from head to foot, and covered with black
spots both on the face and on the body; whereupon Stramba broke forth with:-
-"Ah! wicked woman! thou hast poisoned him;" and made such a din that 'twas
heard by not a few that dwelt hard by the garden; who also hasted to the
spot, and seeing Pasquino dead and swollen, and hearing Stramba bewail
himself and accuse Simona of having maliciously poisoned him, while she, all
but beside herself for grief to be thus suddenly bereft of her lover, knew
not how to defend herself, did all with one accord surmise that 'twas even
as Stramba said. Wherefore they laid hands on her, and brought her, still
weeping bitterly, to the palace of the Podesta: where at the instant suit of
Stramba, backed by Atticciato and Malagevole, two other newly-arrived
friends of Pasquino, a judge forthwith addressed himself to question her of
the matter; and being unable to discover that she had used any wicked
practice, or was guilty, he resolved to take her with him and go see the
corpse, and the place, and the manner of the death, as she had recounted it
to him; for by her words he could not well understand it. So, taking care
that there should be no disturbance, he had her brought to the place where
Pasquino's corpse lay swollen like a tun, whither he himself presently came,
and marvelling as he examined the corpse, asked her how the death had come
about. Whereupon, standing by the sagebush, she told him all that had
happened, and that he might perfectly apprehend the occasion of the death,
she did as Pasquino had done, plucked one of the leaves from the bush, and
rubbed her teeth with it. Whereupon Stramba and Atticciato, and the rest of
the friends and comrades of Pasquino, making in the presence of the judge
open mock of what she did, as an idle and vain thing, and being more than
ever instant to affirm her guilt, and to demand the fire as the sole condign
penalty, the poor creature, that, between grief for her lost lover and dread
of the doom demanded by Stramba, stood mute and helpless, was stricken no
less suddenly, and in the same manner, and for the same cause (to wit, that
she had rubbed her teeth with the sage leaf) as Pasquino, to the no small
amazement of all that were present.

Oh! happy souls for whom one and the same day was the term of ardent love
and earthly life! Happier still, if to the same bourn ye fared! Ay, and even
yet more happy, if love there be in the other world, and there, even as
here, ye love! But happiest above all Simona, so far as we, whom she has
left behind, may judge, in that Fortune brooked not that the witness of
Stramba, Atticciato and Malagevole, carders, perchance, or yet viler
fellows, should bear down her innocence, but found a more seemly issue, and,
appointing her a like lot with her lover, gave her at once to clear herself
from their foul accusation, and to follow whither the soul, that she so
loved, of her Pasquino had preceded her!

The judge, and all else that witnessed the event, remained long time in a
sort of stupefaction, knowing not what to say of it; but at length
recovering his wits, the judge said:--"'Twould seem that this sage is
poisonous, which the sage is not used to be. Let it be cut down to the roots
and burned, lest another suffer by it in like sort." Which the gardener
proceeding to do in the judge's presence, no sooner had he brought the great
bush down, than the cause of the deaths of the two lovers plainly appeared:
for underneath it was a toad of prodigious dimensions, from whose venomous
breath, as they conjectured, the whole of the bush had contracted a
poisonous quality. Around which toad, none venturing to approach it, they
set a stout ring-fence of faggots, and burned it together with the sage. So
ended Master judge's inquest on the death of hapless Pasquino, who with his
Simona, swollen as they were, were buried by Stramba, Atticciato, Guccio
Imbratta, and Malagevole in the church of San Paolo, of which, as it so
happened, they were parishioners.


Girolamo loves Salvestra: yielding to his mother's prayers he goes to Paris;
he returns to find Salvestra married; he enters her house by stealth, lays
himself by her side, and dies; he is borne to the church, where Salvestra
lays herself by his side, and dies.

When Emilia's story was done, Neifile at a word from the king thus
began:--Some there are, noble ladies, who, methinks, deem themselves to be
wiser than the rest of the world, and are in fact less so; and by
consequence presume to measure their wit against not only the counsels of
men but the nature of things; which presumption has from time to time been
the occasion of most grievous mishaps; but nought of good was ever seen to
betide thereof. And as there is nought in nature that brooks to be schooled
or thwarted so ill as love, the quality of which is such that it is more
likely to die out of its own accord than to be done away of set purpose, I
am minded to tell you a story of a lady, who, while she sought to be more
wise than became her, and than she was, and indeed than the nature of the
matter, wherein she studied to shew her wisdom, allowed, thinking to unseat
Love from the heart that he had occupied, and wherein perchance the stars
had established him, did in the end banish at one and the same time Love and
life from the frame of her son.

Know, then, that, as 'tis related by them of old time, there was once in our
city a very great and wealthy merchant, Leonardo Sighieri by name, who had
by his lady a son named Girolamo, after whose birth he departed this life,
leaving his affairs in meet and due order; and well and faithfully were they
afterwards administered in the interest of the boy by his mother and
guardians. As he grew up, consorting more frequently with the neighbours'
children than any others of the quarter, he made friends with a girl of his
own age that was the daughter of a tailor; and in course of time this
friendship ripened into a love so great and vehement, that Girolamo was ever
ill at ease when he saw her not; nor was her love for him a whit less strong
than his for her. Which his mother perceiving would not seldom chide him
therefor and chastise him. And as Girolamo could not give it up, she
confided her distress to his guardians, speaking--for by reason of her boy's
great wealth she thought to make, as it were, an orange-tree out of a
bramble--on this wise:--"This boy of ours, who is now scarce fourteen years
old, is so in love with a daughter of one of our neighbours, a tailor--
Salvestra is the girl's name--that, if we part them not, he will,
peradventure, none else witting, take her to wife some day, and I shall
never be happy again; or, if he see her married to another, he will pine
away; to prevent which, methinks, you would do well to send him away to
distant parts on the affairs of the shop; for so, being out of sight she
will come at length to be out of mind, and then we can give him some
well-born girl to wife." Whereto the guardians answered, that 'twas well
said, and that it should be so done to the best of their power: so they
called the boy into the shop, and one of them began talking to him very
affectionately on this wise:--"My son, thou art now almost grown up; 'twere
well thou shouldst now begin to learn something for thyself of thy own
affairs: wherefore we should be very well pleased if thou wert to go stay at
Paris a while, where thou wilt see how we trade with not a little of thy
wealth, besides which thou wilt there become a much better, finer, and more
complete gentleman than thou couldst here, and when thou hast seen the lords
and barons and seigneurs that are there in plenty, and hast acquired their
manners, thou canst return hither." The boy listened attentively, and then
answered shortly that he would have none of it, for he supposed he might
remain at Florence as well as another. Whereupon the worthy men plied him
with fresh argument, but were unable to elicit other answer from him, and
told his mother so. Whereat she was mightily incensed, and gave him a great
scolding, not for his refusing to go to Paris, but for his love; which done,
she plied him with soft, wheedling words, and endearing expressions and
gentle entreaties that he would be pleased to do as his guardians would have
him; whereby at length she prevailed so far, that he consented to go to
Paris for a year and no more; and so 'twas arranged. To Paris accordingly
our ardent lover went, and there under one pretext or another was kept for
two years. He returned more in love than ever, to find his Salvestra married
to a good youth that was a tent-maker; whereat his mortification knew no
bounds. But, seeing that what must be must be, he sought to compose his
mind; and, having got to know where she lived, he took to crossing her path,
according to the wont of young men in love, thinking that she could no more
have forgotten him than he her. 'Twas otherwise, however; she remembered him
no more than if she had never seen him; or, if she had any recollection of
him, she dissembled it: whereof the young man was very soon ware, to his
extreme sorrow. Nevertheless he did all that he could to recall himself to
her mind; but, as thereby he seemed to be nothing advantaged, he made up his
mind, though he should die for it, to speak to her himself. So, being
instructed as to her house by a neighbour, he entered it privily one evening
when she and her husband were gone to spend the earlier hours with some
neighbours, and hid himself in her room behind some tent-cloths that were
stretched there, and waited till they were come back, and gone to bed, and
he knew the husband to be asleep. Whereupon he got him to the place where he
had seen Salvestra lie down, and said as he gently laid his hand upon her
bosom:--"O my soul, art thou yet asleep?" The girl was awake, and was on the
point of uttering a cry, when he forestalled her, saying:--"Hush! for God's
sake. I am thy Girolamo." Whereupon she, trembling in every limb:--"Nay, but
for God's sake, Girolamo, begone: 'tis past, the time of our childhood, when
our love was excusable. Thou seest I am married; wherefore 'tis no longer
seemly that I should care for any other man than my husband, and so by the
one God, I pray thee, begone; for, if my husband were to know that thou art
here, the least evil that could ensue would be that I should never more be
able to live with him in peace or comfort, whereas, having his love, I now
pass my days with him in tranquil happiness." Which speech caused the young
man grievous distress; but 'twas in vain that he reminded her of the past,
and of his love that distance had not impaired, and therewith mingled many a
prayer and the mightiest protestations. Wherefore, yearning for death, he
besought her at last that she would suffer him to lie a while beside her
till he got some heat, for he was chilled through and through, waiting for
her, and promised her that he would say never a word to her, nor touch her,
and that as soon as he was a little warmed he would go away. On which terms
Salvestra, being not without pity for him, granted his request. So the young
man lay down beside her, and touched her not; but, gathering up into one
thought the love he had so long borne her, the harshness with which she now
requited it, and his ruined hopes, resolved to live no longer, and in a
convulsion, without a word, and with fists clenched, expired by her side.

After a while the girl, marvelling at his continence, and fearing lest her
husband should awake, broke silence, saying:--"Nay, but, Girolamo, why goest
thou not?" But, receiving no answer, she supposed that he slept. Wherefore,
reaching forth her hand to arouse him, she touched him and found him to her
great surprise cold as ice; and touching him again and again somewhat
rudely, and still finding that he did not stir, she knew that he was dead.
Her grief was boundless, and 'twas long before she could bethink her how to
act. But at last she resolved to sound her husband's mind as to what should
be done in such a case without disclosing that 'twas his own. So she
awakened him, and told him how he was then bested, as if it were the affair
of another, and then asked him, if such a thing happened to her, what course
he would take. The good man answered that he should deem it best to take the
dead man privily home, and there leave him, bearing no grudge against the
lady, who seemed to have done no wrong. "And even so," said his wife, "it is
for us to do;" and taking his hand, she laid it on the corpse. Whereat he
started up in consternation, and struck a light, and with out further parley
with his wife, clapped the dead man's clothes upon him, and forthwith
(confident in his own innocence) raised him on his shoulders, and bore him
to the door of his house, where he set him down and left him.

Day came, and the dead man being found before his own door, there was a
great stir made, particularly by his mother; the body was examined with all
care from head to foot, and, no wound or trace of violence being found on
it, the physicians were on the whole of opinion that, as the fact was, the
man had died of grief. So the corpse was borne to a church, and thither came
the sorrowing mother and other ladies, her kinswomen and neighbours, and
began to wail and mourn over it without restraint after our Florentine
fashion. And when the wailing had reached its height, the good man, in whose
house the death had occurred, said to Salvestra:--"Go wrap a mantle about
thy head, and hie thee to the church, whither Girolamo has been taken, and
go about among the women and list what they say of this matter, and I will
do the like among the men, that we may hear if aught be said to our
disadvantage." The girl assented, for with tardy tenderness she now yearned
to look on him dead, whom living she would not solace with a single kiss,
and so to the church she went. Ah! how marvellous to whoso ponders it, is
the might of Love, and how unsearchable his ways! That heart, which, while
Fortune smiled on Girolamo, had remained sealed to him, opened to him now
that he was fordone, and, kindling anew with all its old flame, melted with
such compassion that no sooner saw she his dead face, as there she stood
wrapped in her mantle, than, edging her way forward through the crowd of
women, she stayed not till she was beside the corpse; and there, uttering a
piercing shriek, she threw herself upon the dead youth, and as her face met
his, and before she might drench it with her tears, grief that had reft life
from him had even so reft it from her.

The women strove to comfort her, and bade her raise herself a little, for as
yet they knew her not; then, as she did not arise, they would have helped
her, but found her stiff and stark, and so, raising her up, they in one and
the same moment saw her to be Salvestra and dead. Whereat all the women that
were there, overborne by a redoubled pity, broke forth in wailing new and
louder far than before. From the church the bruit spread itself among the
men, and reached the ears of Salvestra's husband, who, deaf to all that
offered comfort or consolation, wept a long while; after which he told to
not a few that were there what had passed in the night between the youth and
his wife; and so 'twas known of all how they came to die, to the common
sorrow of all. So they took the dead girl, and arrayed her as they are wont
to array the dead, and laid her on the same bed beside the youth, and long
time they mourned her: then were they both buried in the same tomb, and thus
those, whom love had not been able to wed in life, were wedded by death in
indissoluble union.


Sieur Guillaume de Roussillon slays his wife's paramour, Sieur Guillaume de
Cabestaing, and gives her his heart to eat. She, coming to wit thereof,
throws herself from a high window to the ground, and dies, and is buried
with her lover.

Neifile's story, which had not failed to move her gossips to no little pity,
being ended, none now remained to speak but the king and Dioneo, whose
privilege the king was minded not to infringe: wherefore he thus began:--I
propose, compassionate my ladies, to tell you a story, which, seeing that
you so commiserate ill-starred loves, may claim no less a share of your pity
than the last, inasmuch as they were greater folk of whom I shall speak, and
that which befell them was more direful.

You are to know, then, that, as the Provencals relate, there were once in
Provence two noble knights, each having castles and vassals under him, the
one yclept Sieur Guillaume de Roussillon, and the other Sieur Guillaume de
Cabestaing;(1) and being both most doughty warriors, they were as brothers,
and went ever together, and bearing the same device, to tournament or joust,
or other passage of arms. And, albeit each dwelt in his own castle, and the
castles were ten good miles apart, it nevertheless came to pass that, Sieur
Guillaume de Roussillon having a most lovely lady, and amorous withal, to
wife, Sieur Guillaume de Cabestaing, for all they were such friends and
comrades, became inordinately enamoured of the lady, who, by this, that, and
the other sign that he gave, discovered his passion, and knowing him for a
most complete knight, was flattered, and returned it, insomuch that she
yearned and burned for him above all else in the world, and waited only till
he should make his suit to her, as before long he did; and so they met from
time to time, and great was their love. Which intercourse they ordered with
so little discretion that 'twas discovered by the husband, who was very
wroth, insomuch that the great love which he bore to Cabestaing was changed
into mortal enmity; and, dissembling it better than the lovers their love,
he made his mind up to kill Cabestaing. Now it came to pass that, while
Roussillon was in this frame, a great tourney was proclaimed in France,
whereof Roussillon forthwith sent word to Cabestaing, and bade him to his
castle, so he were minded to come, that there they might discuss whether (or
no) to go to the tourney, and how. Cabestaing was overjoyed, and made answer
that he would come to sup with him next day without fail. Which message
being delivered, Roussillon wist that the time was come to slay Cabestaing.
So next day he armed himself, and, attended by a few servants, took horse,
and about a mile from his castle lay in ambush in a wood through which
Cabestaing must needs pass. He waited some time, and then he saw Cabestaing
approach unarmed with two servants behind, also unarmed, for he was without
thought of peril on Roussillon's part. So Cabestaing came on to the place of
Roussillon's choice, and then, fell and vengeful, Roussillon leapt forth
lance in hand, and fell upon him, exclaiming:--"Thou art a dead man!" and
the words were no sooner spoken than the lance was through Cabestaing's
breast. Powerless either to defend himself or even utter a cry, Cabestaing
fell to the ground, and soon expired. His servants waited not to see who had
done the deed, but turned their horses' heads and fled with all speed to
their lord's castle. Roussillon dismounted, opened Cabestaing's breast with
a knife, and took out the heart with his own hands, wrapped it up in a
banderole, and gave it to one of his servants to carry: he then bade none
make bold to breathe a word of the affair, mounted his horse and rode
back--'twas now night--to his castle. The lady, who had been told that
Cabestaing was to come to supper that evening, and was all impatience till
he should come, was greatly surprised to see her husband arrive without him.
Wherefore:--"How is this, my lord?" said she. "Why tarries Cabestaing?"
"Madam," answered her husband, "I have tidings from him that he cannot be
here until to-morrow:" whereat the lady was somewhat disconcerted.

Having dismounted, Roussillon called the cook, and said to him:--"Here is a
boar's heart; take it, and make thereof the daintiest and most delicious
dish thou canst, and when I am set at table serve it in a silver porringer."
So the cook took the heart, and expended all his skill and pains upon it,
mincing it and mixing with it plenty of good seasoning, and made thereof an
excellent ragout; and in due time Sieur Guillaume and his lady sat them down
to table. The meat was served, but Sieur Guillaume, his mind engrossed with
his crime, ate but little. The cook set the ragout before him, but he,
feigning that he cared to eat no more that evening, had it passed on to the
lady, and highly commended it. The lady, nothing loath, took some of it, and
found it so good that she ended by eating the whole. Whereupon:--"Madam,"
quoth the knight, "how liked you this dish?" "In good faith, my lord,"
replied the lady, "not a little." "So help me, God," returned the knight, "I
dare be sworn you did; 'tis no wonder that you should enjoy that dead, which
living you enjoyed more than aught else in the world." For a while the lady
was silent; then:--"How say you?" said she; "what is this you have caused me
to eat?" "That which you have eaten," replied the knight, "was in good sooth
the heart of Sieur Guillaume de Cabestaing, whom you, disloyal woman that
you are, did so much love: for assurance whereof I tell you that but a short
while before I came back, I plucked it from his breast with my own hands."
It boots not to ask if the lady was sorrow-stricken to receive such tidings
of her best beloved. But after a while she said:--"'Twas the deed of a
disloyal and recreant knight; for if I, unconstrained by him, made him lord
of my love, and thereby did you wrong, 'twas I, not he, should have borne
the penalty. But God forbid that fare of such high excellence as the heart
of a knight so true and courteous as Sieur Guillaume de Cabestaing be
followed by aught else." So saying she started to her feet, and stepping
back to a window that was behind her, without a moment's hesitation let
herself drop backwards therefrom. The window was at a great height from the
ground, so that the lady was not only killed by the fall, but almost reduced
to atoms. Stunned and conscience-stricken by the spectacle, and fearing the
vengeance of the country folk, and the Count of Provence, Sieur Guillaume
had his horses saddled and rode away. On the morrow the whole countryside
knew how the affair had come about; wherefore folk from both of the castles
took the two bodies, and bore them with grief and lamentation exceeding
great to the church in the lady's castle, and laid them in the same tomb,
and caused verses to be inscribed thereon signifying who they were that were
there interred, and the manner and occasion of their death.

(1) Boccaccio writes Guardastagno, but the troubadour, Cabestaing, or
Cabestany, is the hero of the story.


The wife of a leech, deeming her lover, who has taken an opiate, to be dead,
puts him in a chest, which, with him therein, two usurers carry off to their
house. He comes to himself, and is taken for a thief; but, the lady's maid
giving the Signory to understand that she had put him in the chest which the
usurers stole, he escapes the gallows, and the usurers are mulcted in moneys
for the theft of the chest.

Now that the king had told his tale, it only remained for Dioneo to do his
part, which he witting, and being thereto bidden by the king, thus began:--
Sore have I--to say nought of you, my ladies--been of eyne and heart to hear
the woeful histories of ill-starred love, insomuch that I have desired of
all things that they might have an end. Wherefore, now that, thank God,
ended they are, unless indeed I were minded, which God forbid, to add to
such pernicious stuff a supplement of the like evil quality, no such
dolorous theme do I purpose to ensue, but to make a fresh start with
somewhat of a better and more cheerful sort, which perchance may serve to
suggest to-morrow's argument.

You are to know, then, fairest my damsels, that 'tis not long since there
dwelt at Salerno a leech most eminent in surgery, his name, Master Mazzeo
della Montagna, who in his extreme old age took to wife a fair damsel of the
same city, whom he kept in nobler and richer array of dresses and jewels,
and all other finery that the sex affects, than any other lady in Salerno.
Howbeit, she was none too warm most of her time, being ill covered abed by
the doctor; who gave her to understand--even as Messer Ricciardo di
Chinzica, of whom we spoke a while since, taught his lady the feasts--that
for once that a man lay with a woman he needed I know not how many days to
recover, and the like nonsense: whereby she lived as ill content as might
be; and, lacking neither sense nor spirit, she determined to economize at
home, and taking to the street, to live at others' expense. So, having
passed in review divers young men, she at last found one that was to her
mind, on whom she set all her heart and hopes of happiness. Which the
gallant perceiving was mightily flattered, and in like manner gave her all
his love. Ruggieri da Jeroli--such was the gallant's name--was of noble
birth, but of life, and conversation so evil and reprehensible that kinsman
or friend he had none left that wished him well, or cared to see him; and
all Salerno knew him for a common thief and rogue of the vilest character.
Whereof the lady took little heed, having a mind to him for another reason;
and so with the help of her maid she arranged a meeting with him. But after
they had solaced themselves a while, the lady began to censure his past
life, and to implore him for love of her to depart from such evil ways; and
to afford him the means thereto, she from time to time furnished him with
money. While thus with all discretion they continued their intercourse, it
chanced that a man halt of one of his legs was placed under the leech's
care. The leech saw what was amiss with him, and told his kinsfolk, that,
unless a gangrened bone that he had in his leg were taken out, he must die,
or have the whole leg amputated; that if the bone were removed he might
recover; but that otherwise he would not answer for his life: whereupon the
relatives assented that the bone should be removed, and left the patient in
the hands of the leech; who, deeming that by reason of the pain 'twas not
possible for him to endure the treatment without an opiate, caused to be
distilled in the morning a certain water of his own concoction, whereby the
patient, drinking it, might be ensured sleep during such time as he deemed
the operation, which he meant to perform about vespers, would occupy. In the
meantime he had the water brought into his house, and set it in the window
of his room, telling no one what it was. But when the vesper hour was come,
and the leech was about to visit his patient, a messenger arrived from some
very great friends of his at Amalfi, bearing tidings of a great riot there
had been there, in which not a few had been wounded, and bidding him on no
account omit to hie him thither forthwith. Wherefore the leech put off the
treatment of the leg to the morrow, and took boat to Amalfi; and the lady,
knowing that he would not return home that night, did as she was wont in
such a case, to wit, brought Ruggieri in privily, and locked him in her
chamber until certain other folk that were in the house were gone to sleep.
Ruggieri, then, being thus in the chamber, awaiting the lady, and having--
whether it were that he had had a fatiguing day, or eaten something salt,
or, perchance, that 'twas his habit of body--a mighty thirst, glancing at
the window, caught sight of the bottle containing the water which the leech
had prepared for the patient, and taking it to be drinking water, set it to
his lips and drank it all, and in no long time fell into a deep sleep.

So soon as she was able the lady hied her to the room, and there finding
Ruggieri asleep, touched him and softly told him to get up: to no purpose,
however; he neither answered nor stirred a limb. Wherefore the lady, rather
losing patience, applied somewhat more force, and gave him a push, saying:--
"Get up, sleepy-head; if thou hadst a mind to sleep, thou shouldst have gone
home, and not have come hither." Thus pushed Ruggieri fell down from a box
on which he lay, and, falling, shewed no more sign of animation than if he
had been a corpse. The lady, now somewhat alarmed, essayed to lift him, and
shook him roughly, and took him by the nose, and pulled him by the beard;
again to no purpose: he had tethered his ass to a stout pin. So the lady
began to fear he must be dead: however, she went on to pinch him shrewdly,
and singe him with the flame of a candle; but when these methods also failed
she, being, for all she was a leech's wife, no leech herself, believed for
sure that he was dead; and as there was nought in the world that she loved
so much, it boots not to ask if she was sore distressed; wherefore silently,
for she dared not lament aloud, she began to weep over him and bewail such a
misadventure. But, after a while, fearing lest her loss should not be
without a sequel of shame, she bethought her that she must contrive without
delay to get the body out of the house; and standing in need of another's
advice, she quietly summoned her maid, shewed her the mishap that had
befallen her, and craved her counsel. Whereat the maid marvelled not a
little; and she too fell to pulling Ruggieri this way and that, and pinching
him, and, as she found no sign of life in him, concurred with her mistress
that he was verily dead, and advised her to remove him from the house. "And
where," said the lady, "shall we put him, that to-morrow, when he is
discovered, it be not suspected that 'twas hence he was carried?" "Madam,"
answered the maid, "late last evening I marked in front of our neighbour the
carpenter's shop a chest, not too large, which, if he have not put it back
in the house, will come in very handy for our purpose, for we will put him
inside, and give him two or three cuts with a knife, and so leave him. When
he is found, I know not why it should be thought that 'twas from this house
rather than from any other that he was put there; nay, as he was an evil-
liver, 'twill more likely be supposed, that, as he hied him on some evil
errand, some enemy slew him, and then put him in the chest." The lady said
there was nought in the world she might so ill brook as that Ruggieri should
receive any wound; but with that exception she approved her maid's proposal,
and sent her to see if the chest were still where she had seen it. The maid,
returning, reported that there it was, and, being young and strong, got
Ruggieri, with the lady's help, upon her shoulders; and so the lady, going
before to espy if any folk came that way, and the maid following, they came
to the chest, and having laid Ruggieri therein, closed it and left him

Now a few days before, two young men, that were usurers, had taken up their
quarters in a house a little further on: they had seen the chest during the
day, and being short of furniture, and having a mind to make great gain with
little expenditure, they had resolved that, if it were still there at night,
they would take it home with them. So at midnight forth they hied them, and
finding the chest, were at no pains to examine it closely, but forthwith,
though it seemed somewhat heavy, bore it off to their house, and set it down
beside a room in which their women slept; and without being at pains to
adjust it too securely they left it there for the time, and went to bed.

Towards matins Ruggieri, having had a long sleep and digested the draught
and exhausted its efficacy, awoke, but albeit his slumber was broken, and
his senses had recovered their powers, yet his brain remained in a sort of
torpor which kept him bemused for some days; and when he opened his eyes and
saw nothing, and stretched his hands hither and thither and found himself in
the chest, it was with difficulty that he collected his thoughts. "How is
this?" he said to himself. "Where am I? Do I sleep or wake? I remember
coming this evening to my lady's chamber; and now it seems I am in a chest.
What means it? Can the leech have returned, or somewhat else have happened
that caused the lady, while I slept, to hide me here? That was it, I
suppose. Without a doubt it must have been so." And having come to this
conclusion, he composed himself to listen, if haply he might hear something,
and being somewhat ill at ease in the chest, which was none too large, and
the side on which he lay paining him, he must needs turn over to the other,
and did so with such adroitness that, bringing his loins smartly against one
of the sides of the chest, which was set on an uneven floor, he caused it to
tilt and then fall; and such was the noise that it made as it fell that the
women that slept there awoke, albeit for fear they kept silence. Ruggieri
was not a little disconcerted by the fall, but, finding that thereby the
chest was come open, he judged that, happen what might, he would be better
out of it than in it; and not knowing where he was, and being otherwise at
his wits' end, he began to grope about the house, if haply he might find a
stair or door whereby he might take himself off. Hearing him thus groping
his way, the alarmed women gave tongue with:--"Who is there?" Ruggieri, not
knowing the voice, made no answer: wherefore the women fell to calling the
two young men, who, having had a long day, were fast asleep, and heard
nought of what went on. Which served to increase the fright of the women,
who rose and got them to divers windows, and raised the cry:--"Take thief,
take thief!" At which summons there came running from divers quarters not a
few of the neighbours, who got into the house by the roof or otherwise as
each best might: likewise the young men, aroused by the din, got up; and,
Ruggieri being now all but beside himself for sheer amazement, and knowing
not whither to turn him to escape them, they took him and delivered him to
the officers of the Governor of the city, who, hearing the uproar, had
hasted to the spot. And so he was brought before the Governor, who, knowing
him to be held of all a most arrant evil-doer, put him forthwith to the
torture, and, upon his confessing that he had entered the house of the
usurers with intent to rob, was minded to make short work of it, and have
him hanged by the neck.

In the morning 'twas bruited throughout all Salerno that Ruggieri had been
taken a thieving in the house of the usurers. Whereat the lady and her maid
were all amazement and bewilderment, insomuch that they were within an ace
of persuading themselves that what they had done the night before they had
not done, but had only dreamed it; besides which, the peril in which
Ruggieri stood caused the lady such anxiety as brought her to the verge of
madness. Shortly after half tierce the leech, being returned from Amalfi,
and minded now to treat his patient, called for his water, and finding the
bottle empty made a great commotion, protesting that nought in his house
could be let alone. The lady, having other cause of annoy, lost temper, and
said:--"What would you say, Master, of an important matter, when you raise
such a din because a bottle of water has been upset? Is there never another
to be found in the world?" "Madam," replied the leech, "thou takest this to
have been mere water. 'Twas no such thing, but an artificial water of a
soporiferous virtue;" and he told her for what purpose he had made it. Which
the lady no sooner heard, than, guessing that Ruggieri had drunk it, and so
had seemed to them to be dead, she said:--"Master, we knew it not; wherefore
make you another." And so the leech, seeing that there was no help for it,
had another made. Not long after, the maid, who by the lady's command had
gone to find out what folk said of Ruggieri, returned, saying:--"Madam, of
Ruggieri they say nought but evil, nor, by what I have been able to
discover, has he friend or kinsman that has or will come to his aid; and
'tis held for certain that to-morrow the Stadic(1) will have him hanged.
Besides which, I have that to tell you which will surprise you; for,
methinks, I have found out how he came into the usurers' house. List, then,
how it was: you know the carpenter in front of whose shop stood the chest we
put Ruggieri into: he had to-day the most violent altercation in the world
with one to whom it would seem the chest belongs, by whom he was required to
make good the value of the chest, to which he made answer that he had not
sold it, but that it had been stolen from him in the night. 'Not so,' said
the other; 'thou soldst it to the two young usurers, as they themselves told
me last night, when I saw it in their house at the time Ruggieri was taken.'
'They lie,' replied the carpenter. 'I never sold it them, but they must have
stolen it from me last night; go we to them.' So with one accord off they
went to the usurers' house, and I came back here. And so, you see, I make
out that 'twas on such wise that Ruggieri was brought where he was found;
but how he came to life again, I am at a loss to conjecture." The lady now
understood exactly how things were, and accordingly told the maid what she
had learned from the leech, and besought her to aid her to get Ruggieri off,
for so she might, if she would, and at the same time preserve her honour.
"Madam," said the maid, "do but shew me how; and glad shall I be to do just
as you wish." Whereupon the lady, to whom necessity taught invention, formed
her plan on the spur of the moment, and expounded it in detail to the maid;
who (as the first step) hied her to the leech, and, weeping, thus addressed
him:--"Sir, it behoves me to ask your pardon of a great wrong that I have
done you." "And what may that be?" inquired the leech. "Sir," said the maid,
who ceased not to weep, "you know what manner of man is Ruggieri da Jeroli.
Now he took a fancy to me, and partly for fear, partly for love, I this year
agreed to be his mistress; and knowing yestereve that you were from home, he
coaxed me into bringing him into your house to sleep with me in my room. Now
he was athirst, and I, having no mind to be seen by your lady, who was in
the hall, and knowing not whither I might sooner betake me for wine or
water, bethought me that I had seen a bottle of water in your room, and ran
and fetched it, and gave it him to drink, and then put the bottle back in
the place whence I had taken it; touching which I find that you have made a
great stir in the house. Verily I confess that I did wrong; but who is there
that does not wrong sometimes? Sorry indeed am I to have so done, but 'tis
not for such a cause and that which ensued thereon that Ruggieri should lose
his life. Wherefore, I do most earnestly beseech you, pardon me, and suffer
me to go help him as best I may be able." Wroth though he was at what he
heard, the leech replied in a bantering tone:--"Thy pardon thou hast by
thine own deed; for, whereas thou didst last night think to have with thee a
gallant that would thoroughly dust thy pelisse for thee, he was but a sleepy
head; wherefore get thee gone, and do what thou mayst for the deliverance of
thy lover, and for the future look thou bring him not into the house; else I
will pay thee for that turn and this to boot." The maid, deeming that she
had come off well in the first brush, hied her with all speed to the prison
where Ruggieri lay, and by her cajoleries prevailed upon the warders to let
her speak with him; and having told him how he must answer the Stadic if he
would get off, she succeeded in obtaining preaudience of the Stadic; who,
seeing that the baggage was lusty and mettlesome, was minded before he heard
her to grapple her with the hook, to which she was by no means averse,
knowing that such a preliminary would secure her a better hearing. When she
had undergone the operation and was risen:--"Sir," said she, "you have here
Ruggieri da Jeroli, apprehended on a charge of theft; which charge is
false." Whereupon she told him the whole story from beginning to end, how
she, being Ruggieri's mistress, had brought him into the leech's house and
had given him the opiate, not knowing it for such, and taking him to be
dead, had put him in the chest; and then recounting what she had heard pass
between the carpenter and the owner of the chest, she shewed him how
Ruggieri came into the house of the usurers. Seeing that 'twas easy enough
to find out whether the story were true, the Stadic began by questioning the
leech as to the water, and found that 'twas as she had said: he then
summoned the carpenter, the owner of the chest and the usurers, and after
much further parley ascertained that the usurers had stolen the chest during
the night, and brought it into their house: finally he sent for Ruggieri,
and asked him where he had lodged that night, to which Ruggieri answered
that where he had lodged he knew not, but he well remembered going to pass
the night with Master Mazzeo's maid, in whose room he had drunk some water
by reason of a great thirst that he had; but what happened to him
afterwards, except that, when he awoke, he found himself in a chest in the
house of the usurers, he knew not. All which matters the Stadic heard with
great interest, and caused the maid and Ruggieri and the carpenter and the
usurers to rehearse them several times. In the end, seeing that Ruggieri was
innocent, he released him, and mulcted the usurers in fifteen ounces for the
theft of the chest. How glad Ruggieri was thus to escape, it boots not to
ask; and glad beyond measure was his lady. And so, many a time did they
laugh and make merry together over the affair, she and he and the dear maid
that had proposed to give him a taste of the knife; and remaining constant
in their love, they had ever better and better solace thereof. The like
whereof befall me, sans the being put in the chest.

(1) The Neapolitan term for the chief of police.

Heartsore as the gentle ladies had been made by the preceding stories, this
last of Dioneo provoked them to such merriment, more especially the passage
about the Stadic and the hook, that they lacked not relief of the piteous
mood engendered by the others. But the king observing that the sun was now
taking a yellowish tinge, and that the end of his sovereignty was come, in
terms most courtly made his excuse to the fair ladies, that he had made so
direful a theme as lovers' infelicity the topic of their discourse; after
which, he rose, took the laurel wreath from his head, and, while the ladies
watched to see to whom he would give it, set it graciously upon the blond
head of Fiammetta, saying:--"Herewith I crown thee, as deeming that thou,
better than any other, wilt know how to make to-morrow console our fair
companions for the rude trials of to-day." Fiammetta, whose wavy tresses
fell in a flood of gold over her white and delicate shoulders, whose softly
rounded face was all radiant with the very tints of the white lily blended
with the red of the rose, who carried two eyes in her head that matched
those of a peregrine falcon, while her tiny sweet mouth shewed a pair of
lips that shone as rubies, replied with a smile:--"And gladly take I the
wreath, Filostrato, and that thou mayst more truly understand what thou hast
done, 'tis my present will and pleasure that each make ready to discourse
to-morrow of good fortune befalling lovers after divers direful or
disastrous adventures." The theme propounded was approved by all; whereupon
the queen called the seneschal, and having made with him all meet
arrangements, rose and gaily dismissed all the company until the supper
hour; wherefore, some straying about the garden, the beauties of which were
not such as soon to pall, others bending their steps towards the mills that
were grinding without, each, as and where it seemed best, they took
meanwhile their several pleasures. The supper hour come, they all gathered,
in their wonted order, by the fair fountain, and in the gayest of spirits
and well served they supped. Then rising they addressed them, as was their
wont, to dance and song, and while Filomena led the dance:--"Filostrato,"
said the queen, "being minded to follow in the footsteps of our
predecessors, and that, as by their, so by our command a song be sung; and
well witting that thy songs are even as thy stories, to the end that no day
but this be vexed with thy misfortunes, we ordain that thou give us one of
them, whichever thou mayst prefer." Filostrato answered that he would gladly
do so; and without delay began to sing on this wise:--

Full well my tears attest,
O traitor Love, with what just cause the heart,
With which thou once hast broken faith, doth smart.

Love, when thou first didst in my heart enshrine
Her for whom still I sigh, alas! in vain,
Nor any hope do know,
A damsel so complete thou didst me shew,
That light as air I counted every pain,
Wherewith behest of thine
Condemned my soul to pine.
Ah! but I gravely erred; the which to know
Too late, alas! doth but enhance my woe.

The cheat I knew not ere she did me leave,
She, she, in whom alone my hopes were placed:
For 'twas when I did most
Flatter myself with hope, and proudly boast
Myself her vassal lowliest and most graced,
Nor thought Love might bereave,
Nor dreamed he e'er might grieve,
'Twas then I found that she another's worth
Into her heart had ta'en and me cast forth.

A plant of pain, alas! my heart did bear,
What time my hapless self cast forth I knew;
And there it doth remain;
And day and hour I curse and curse again,
When first that front of love shone on my view
That front so queenly fair,
And bright beyond compare!
Wherefore at once my faith, my hope, my fire
My soul doth imprecate, ere she expire.

My lord, thou knowest how comfortless my woe,
Thou, Love, my lord, whom thus I supplicate
With many a piteous moan,
Telling thee how in anguish sore I groan,
Yearning for death my pain to mitigate.
Come death, and with one blow
Cut short my span, and so
With my curst life me of my frenzy ease;
For wheresoe'er I go, 'twill sure decrease.

Save death no way of comfort doth remain:
No anodyne beside for this sore smart.
The boon, then, Love bestow;
And presently by death annul my woe,
And from this abject life release my heart.
Since from me joy is ta'en,
And every solace, deign
My prayer to grant, and let my death the cheer
Complete, that she now hath of her new fere.

Song, it may be that no one shall thee learn:
Nor do I care; for none I wot, so well
As I may chant thee; so,
This one behest I lay upon thee, go
Hie thee to Love, and him in secret tell,
How I my life do spurn,
My bitter life, and yearn,
That to a better harbourage he bring
Me, of all might and grace that own him king.

Full well my tears attest, etc.

Filostrato's mood and its cause were made abundantly manifest by the words
of this song; and perchance they had been made still more so by the looks of
a lady that was among the dancers, had not the shades of night, which had
now overtaken them, concealed the blush that suffused her face. Other songs
followed until the hour for slumber arrived: whereupon at the behest of the
queen all the ladies sought their several chambers.


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large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.