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Song and Legend From the Middle Ages by William D. McClintock and Porter Lander McClintock

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kept a youth, by way of factor, to manage their affairs, called
Lorenzo, one of a very agreeable person, who, being often in
Isabella's company, and finding himself no way disagreeable to
her, confined all his wishes to her only, which in some little
time had their full effect. This affair was carried on between
them for a considerable time, without the least suspicion; till
one night it happened, as she was going to his chamber, that the
eldest brother saw her, without her knowing it. This afflicted
him greatly; yet, being a prudent man, he made no discovery, but
lay considering with himself till morning, what course was best
for them to take. He then related to his brothers what he had
seen, with regard to their sister and Lorenzo, and, after a long
debate, it was resolved to seem to take no notice of it for the
present, but to make away with him privately, the first
opportunity, that they might remove all cause of reproach both to
their sister and themselves. Continuing in this resolution, they
behaved with the same freedom and civility to Lorenzo as ever,
till at length, under a pretense of going out of the city, upon a
party of pleasure, they carried him along with them, and arriving
at a lonesome place, fit for their purpose, they slew him,
unprepared to make any defence, and buried him there; then,
returning to Messina, they gave it out that they had sent him on
a journey of business, which was easily believed, because they
frequently did so. In some time, she, thinking that he made a
long stay, began to inquire earnestly of her brothers concerning
him, and this she did so often, that at last one of them said to
her, "What have you to do with Lorenzo, that you are continually
teasing us about him? If you inquire any more,you shall receive
such an answer as you will by no means approve of." This grieved
her exceedingly; and, fearing she knew not why, she remained
without asking any more questions; yet all the night would she
lament and complain of his long stay; and thus she spent her life
in a tedious and anxious waiting for his return; till one night
it happened, that having wept herself asleep, he appeared to her
in a dream, all pale and ghastly, with his clothes rent in
pieces; and she thought he spoke to her thus: "My dear Isabel,
thou grievest incessantly for my absence, and art continually
calling upon me: but know that I can return no more to thee, for
the last day that thou sawest me, thy brothers put me to death."
And, describing the place where they had buried him, he bid her
call no more upon him, nor ever expect to see him again, and
disappeared. She, waking, and giving credit to the vision,
lamented exceedingly; and, not daring to say anything to her
brethren, resolved to go to the place mentioned in the dream, to
be convinced of the reality of it. Accordingly, having leave to
go a little way into the country, along with a companion of hers,
who was acquainted with all her affairs, she went thither, and
clearing the ground of the dry leaves with which it was covered,
she observed where the earth seemed to be lightest, and dug
there. She had not searched far before she came to her lover's
body, which she found in no degree wasted; this confirmed her of
the truth of her vision, and she was in the utmost concern on
that account; but, as that was not a fit place for lamentation,
she would willingly have taken the corpse away with her, to have
given it a more decent interment; but, finding herself unable to
do that, she cut off his head, which she put into a handkerchief,
and, covering the trunk again with the mould, she gave it to her
maid to carry, and returned home without being perceived. She
then shut herself up in her chamber, and lamented over it till it
was bathed in her tears, which being done, she put it into a
flower pot, having folded it in a fine napkin, and covering it
with earth, she planted sweet herbs therein, which she watered
with nothing but rose or orange water, or else with her tears;
accustoming herself to sit always before it, and devoting her
whole heart unto it, as containing her dear Lorenzo. The sweet
herbs, what with her continual bathing, and the moisture arising
from the putrified head, flourished exceedingly, and sent forth a
most agreeable odour. Continuing this manner of life, she was
observed by some of the neighbours, and they related her conduct
to her brothers, who had before remarked with surprise the decay
of her beauty. Accordingly, they reprimanded her for it, and,
finding that ineffectual, stole the pot from her. She, perceiving
that it was taken away, begged earnestly of them to restore it,
which they refusing, she fell sick. The young men wondered much
why she should have so great a fancy for it, and were resolved to
see what it contained: turning out the earth, therefore, they saw
the napkin, and in it the head, not so much consumed, but that,
by the curled locks, they knew it to be Lorenzo's, which threw
them into the utmost astonishment, and fearing lest it should be
known, they buried it privately, and withdrew themselves from
thence to Naples. The young lady never ceased weeping, and
calling for her pot of flowers, till she died; and thus
terminated her unfortunate love. But, in some time afterwards,
the thing became public, which gave rise to this song:

Most cruel and unkind was he,
That of my flowers deprived me, &c.

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