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The Decameron, Vol. II. by Giovanni Boccaccio

Part 3 out of 7

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With roses white and red bedecked and gay.

So with a most piteous sigh ended Elisa her song, whereat all wondered
exceedingly, nor might any conjecture wherefore she so sang. But the
king, who was in a jolly humour, sent for Tindaro, and bade him out with
his cornemuse, and caused them tread many a measure thereto, until, no
small part of the night being thus spent, he gave leave to all to betake
them to rest.

Endeth here the sixth day of the Decameron, beginneth the seventh, in
which, under the rule of Dioneo, discourse is had of the tricks which,
either for love or for their deliverance from peril, ladies have
heretofore played their husbands, and whether they were by the said
husbands detected, or no.

Fled was now each star from the eastern sky, save only that which we call
Lucifer, which still glowed in the whitening dawn, when uprose the
seneschal, and with a goodly baggage-train hied him to the Ladies' Vale,
there to make all things ready according to the ordinance and commandment
of the king. Nor was it long after his departure that the king rose,
being awaked by the stir and bustle that the servants made in lading the
horses, and being risen he likewise roused all the ladies and the other
gallants; and so, when as yet 'twas scarce clear daybreak, they all took
the road; nor seemed it to them that the nightingales and the other birds
had ever chanted so blithely as that morning. By which choir they were
attended to the Ladies' Vale, where they were greeted by other warblers
not a few, that seemed rejoiced at their arrival. Roving about the vale,
and surveying its beauties afresh, they rated them higher than on the
previous day, as indeed the hour was more apt to shew them forth. Then
with good wine and comfits they broke their fast, and, that they might
not lag behind the songsters, they fell a singing, whereto the vale
responded, ever echoing their strains; nor did the birds, as minded not
to be beaten, fail to swell the chorus with notes of unwonted sweetness.
However, breakfast-time came, and then, the tables being laid under a
living canopy of trees, and beside other goodly trees that fringed the
little lake, they sat them down in order as to the king seemed meet. So
they took their meal, glancing from time to time at the lake, where the
fish darted to and fro in multitudinous shoals, which afforded not only
delight to their eyes but matter for converse. Breakfast ended, and the
tables removed, they fell a singing again more blithely than before.
After which, there being set, in divers places about the little vale,
beds which the discreet seneschal had duly furnished and equipped within
and without with store of French coverlets, and other bedgear, all, that
were so minded, had leave of the king to go to sleep, and those that
cared not to sleep might betake them, as each might choose, to any of
their wonted diversions. But, all at length being risen, and the time for
addressing them to the story-telling being come, the king had carpets
spread on the sward no great way from the place where they had
breakfasted; and, all having sat them down beside the lake, he bade
Emilia begin; which, blithe and smiling, Emilia did on this wise.


Gianni Lotteringhi hears a knocking at his door at night: he awakens his
wife, who persuades him that 'tis the bogey, which they fall to
exorcising with a prayer; whereupon the knocking ceases.

My lord, glad indeed had I been, that, saving your good pleasure, some
other than I had had precedence of discourse upon so goodly a theme as
this of which we are to speak--I doubt I am but chosen to teach others
confidence; but, such being your will, I will gladly obey it. And my
endeavour shall be, dearest ladies, to tell you somewhat that may be
serviceable to you in the future: for, if you are, as I am, timorous, and
that most especially of the bogey, which, God wot, I know not what manner
of thing it may be, nor yet have found any that knew, albeit we are all
alike afraid of it, you may learn from this my story how to put it to
flight, should it intrude upon you, with a holy, salutary and most
efficacious orison.

There dwelt of yore at Florence, in the quarter of San Pancrazio, a
master-spinner, Gianni Lotteringhi by name, one that had prospered in his
business, but had little understanding of aught else; insomuch that being
somewhat of a simpleton, he had many a time been chosen leader of the
band of laud-singers of Santa Maria Novella, and had charge of their
school; and not a few like offices had he often served, upon which he
greatly plumed himself. Howbeit, 'twas all for no other reason than that,
being a man of substance, he gave liberal doles to the friars; who, for
that they got thereof, this one hose, another a cloak, and a third a
hood, would teach him good orisons, or give him the paternoster in the
vernacular, or the chant of St. Alexis, or the lament of St. Bernard, or
the laud of Lady Matilda, or the like sorry stuff, which he greatly
prized, and guarded with jealous care, deeming them all most conducive to
the salvation of his soul.

Now our simple master-spinner had a most beautiful wife, and amorous
withal, her name Monna Tessa. Daughter she was of Mannuccio dalla
Cuculla, and not a little knowing and keen-witted; and being enamoured of
Federigo di Neri Pegolotti, a handsome and lusty gallant, as he also of
her, she, knowing her husband's simplicity, took counsel with her maid,
and arranged that Federigo should come to chat with her at a right goodly
pleasure-house that the said Gianni had at Camerata, where she was wont
to pass the summer, Gianni coming now and again to sup and sleep, and
going back in the morning to his shop, or, maybe, to his laud-singers.
Federigo, who desired nothing better, went up there punctually on the
appointed day about vespers, and as the evening passed without Gianni
making his appearance, did most comfortably, and to his no small
satisfaction, sup and sleep with the lady, who lying in his arms taught
him that night some six of her husband's lauds. But, as neither she nor
Federigo was minded that this beginning should also be the end of their
intercourse, and that it might not be needful for the maid to go each
time to make the assignation with him, they came to the following
understanding; to wit, that as often as he came and went between the
house and an estate that he had a little higher up, he should keep an eye
on a vineyard that was beside the house, where he would see an ass's head
stuck on one of the poles of the vineyard, and as often as he observed
the muzzle turned towards Florence, he might visit her without any sort
of misgiving; and if he found not the door open, he was to tap it thrice,
and she would open it; and when he saw the muzzle of the ass's head
turned towards Fiesole, he was to keep away, for then Gianni would be
there. Following which plan, they forgathered not seldom: but on one of
these evenings, when Federigo was to sup with Monna Tessa on two fat
capons that she bad boiled, it so chanced that Gianni arrived there
unexpectedly and very late, much to the lady's chagrin: so she had a
little salt meat boiled apart, on which she supped with her husband; and
the maid by her orders carried the two boiled capons laid in a spotless
napkin with plenty of fresh eggs and a bottle of good wine into the
garden, to which there was access otherwise than from the house, and
where she was wont at times to sup with Federigo; and there the maid set
them down at the foot of a peach-tree, that grew beside a lawn. But in
her vexation she forgot to tell the maid to wait till Federigo should
come, and let him know that Gianni was there, and he must take his supper
in the garden: and she and Gianni and the maid were scarce gone to bed,
when Federigo came and tapped once at the door, which being hard by the
bedroom, Gianni heard the tap, as did also the lady, albeit, that Gianni
might have no reason to suspect her, she feigned to be asleep. Federigo
waited a little, and then gave a second tap; whereupon, wondering what it
might mean, Gianni nudged his wife, saying:--"Tessa, dost hear what I
hear? Methinks some one has tapped at our door." The lady, who had heard
the noise much better than he, feigned to wake up, and:--"How? what sayst
thou?" quoth she. "I say," replied Gianni, "that, meseems, some one has
tapped at our door." "Tapped at it?" quoth the lady. "Alas, my Gianni,
wottest thou not what that is? 'Tis the bogey, which for some nights past
has so terrified me as never was, insomuch that I never hear it but I pop
my head under the clothes and venture not to put it out again until 'tis
broad day." "Come, come, wife," quoth Gianni, "if such it is, be not
alarmed; for before we got into bed I repeated the Te lucis, the
Intemerata, and divers other good orisons, besides which I made the sign
of the cross in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit at each
corner of the bed; wherefore we need have no fear that it may avail to
hurt us, whatever be its power." The lady, lest Federigo, perchance
suspecting a rival, should take offence, resolved to get up, and let him
understand that Gianni was there: so she said to her husband:--"Well
well; so sayst thou; but I for my part shall never deem myself safe and
secure, unless we exorcise it, seeing that thou art here." "Oh!" said
Gianni, "and how does one exorcise it?" "That," quoth the lady, "I know
right well; for t'other day, when I went to Fiesole for the pardoning,
one of those anchoresses, the saintliest creature, my Gianni, God be my
witness, knowing how much afraid I am of the bogey, taught me a holy and
salutary orison, which she said she had tried many a time before she was
turned anchoress, and always with success. God wot, I should never have
had courage to try it alone; but as thou art here, I propose that we go
exorcise it together." Gianni made answer that he was quite of the same
mind; so up they got, and stole to the door, on the outside of which
Federigo, now suspicious, was still waiting. And as soon as they were
there:--"Now," quoth the lady to Gianni, "thou wilt spit, when I tell
thee." "Good," said Gianni. Whereupon the lady began her orison,

"Bogey, bogey that goest by night,
Tail erect, thou cam'st, tail erect, take thy flight
Hie thee to the garden, and the great peach before,
Grease upon grease, and droppings five score
Of my hen shalt thou find:
Set the flask thy lips to,
Then away like the wind,
And no scathe unto me or my Gianni do."

And when she had done:--"Now, Gianni," quoth she, "spit": and Gianni

There was no more room for jealousy in Federigo's mind as he heard all
this from without; nay, for all his disappointment, he was like to burst
with suppressed laughter, and when Gianni spat, he muttered under his
breath:--"Now out with thy teeth." The lady, having after this fashion
thrice exorcised the bogey, went back to bed with her husband. Federigo,
disappointed of the supper that he was to have had with her, and
apprehending the words of the orison aright, hied him to the garden, and
having found the two capons and the wine and the eggs at the foot of the
peach-tree, took them home with him, and supped very comfortably. And
many a hearty laugh had he and the lady over the exorcism during their
subsequent intercourse.

Now, true it is that some say that the lady had in fact turned the ass's
head towards Fiesole, but that a husbandman, passing through the
vineyard, had given it a blow with his stick, whereby it had swung round,
and remained fronting Florence, and so it was that Federigo thought that
he was invited, and came to the house, and that the lady's orison was on
this wise:--

"Bogey, a God's name, away thee hie,
For whoe'er turned the ass's head, 'twas not I:
Another it was, foul fall his eyne;
And here am I with Gianni mine."

Wherefore Federigo was fain to take himself off, having neither slept nor

But a neighbour of mine, a lady well advanced in years, tells me that, by
what she heard when she was a girl, both stories are true; but that the
latter concerned not Gianni Lotteringhi but one Gianni di Nello, that
lived at Porta San Piero, and was no less a numskull than Gianni
Lotteringhi. Wherefore, dear my ladies, you are at liberty to choose
which exorcism you prefer, or take both if you like. They are both of
extraordinary and approved virtue in such cases, as you have heard: get
them by heart, therefore, and they may yet stand you in good stead.


Her husband returning home, Peronella bestows her lover in a tun; which,
being sold by her husband, she avers to have been already sold by herself
to one that is inside examining it to see if it be sound. Whereupon the
lover jumps out, and causes the husband to scour the tun for him, and
afterwards to carry it to his house.

Great indeed was the laughter with which Emilia's story was received;
which being ended, and her orison commended by all as good and salutary,
the king bade Filostrato follow suit; and thus Filostrato began:--Dearest
my ladies, so many are the tricks that men play you, and most of all your
husbands, that, when from time to time it so befalls that some lady plays
her husband a trick, the circumstance, whether it come within your own
cognizance or be told you by another, should not only give you joy but
should incite you to publish it on all hands, that men may be ware, that,
knowing as they are, their ladies also, on their part, know somewhat:
which cannot but be serviceable to you, for that one does not rashly
essay to take another with guile whom one wots not to lack that quality.
Can we doubt, then, that, should but the converse that we shall hold
to-day touching this matter come to be bruited among men, 'twould serve
to put a most notable check upon the tricks they play you, by doing them
to wit of the tricks, which you, in like manner, when you are so minded,
may play them? Wherefore 'tis my intention to tell you in what manner a
young girl, albeit she was but of low rank, did, on the spur of the
moment, beguile her husband to her own deliverance.

'Tis no long time since at Naples a poor man, a mason by craft, took to
wife a fair and amorous maiden--Peronella was her name--who eked out by
spinning what her husband made by his craft; and so the pair managed as
best they might on very slender means. And as chance would have it, one
of the gallants of the city, taking note of this Peronella one day, and
being mightily pleased with her, fell in love with her, and by this means
and that so prevailed that he won her to accord him her intimacy. Their
times of forgathering they concerted as follows:--to wit, that, her
husband being wont to rise betimes of a morning to go to work or seek for
work, the gallant was to be where he might see him go forth, and, the
street where she dwelt, which is called Avorio, being scarce inhabited,
was to come into the house as soon as her husband was well out of it; and
so times not a few they did. But on one of these occasions it befell
that, the good man being gone forth, and Giannello Sirignario--such was
the gallant's name--being come into the house, and being with Peronella,
after a while, back came the good man, though 'twas not his wont to
return until the day was done; and finding the door locked, he knocked,
and after knocking, he fell a saying to himself:--O God, praised be Thy
name forever; for that, albeit Thou hast ordained that I be poor, at
least Thou hast accorded me the consolation of a good and honest girl for
wife. Mark what haste she made to shut the door when I was gone forth,
that none else might enter to give her trouble.

Now Peronella knew by his knock that 'twas her husband;
wherefore:--"Alas, Giannello mine," quoth she, "I am a dead woman, for
lo, here is my husband, foul fall him! come back! What it may import, I
know not, for he is never wont to come back at this hour; perchance he
caught sight of thee as thou camest in. However, for the love of God, be
it as it may, get thee into this tun that thou seest here, and I will go
open to him, and we shall see what is the occasion of this sudden return
this morning." So Giannello forthwith got into the tun, and Peronella
went to the door, and let in her husband, and gave him black looks,
saying:--"This is indeed a surprise that thou art back so soon this
morning! By what I see thou hast a mind to make this a holiday, that thou
returnest tools in hand; if so, what are we to live on? whence shall we
get bread to eat? Thinkest thou I will let thee pawn my gown and other
bits of clothes? Day and night I do nought else but spin, insomuch that
the flesh is fallen away from my nails, that at least I may have oil
enough to keep our lamp alight. Husband, husband, there is never a woman
in the neighbourhood but marvels and mocks at me, that I am at such
labour and pains; and thou comest home to me with thy hands hanging idle,
when thou shouldst be at work." Which said, she fell a weeping and
repeating:--"Alas, alas, woe 's me, in what evil hour was I born? in what
luckless moment came I hither, I, that might have had so goodly a young
man, and I would not, to take up with one that bestows never a thought on
her whom he has made his wife? Other women have a good time with their
lovers, and never a one have we here but has two or three; they take
their pleasure, and make their husbands believe that the moon is the sun;
and I, alas! for that I am an honest woman, and have no such casual
amours, I suffer, and am hard bested. I know not why I provide not myself
with one of these lovers, as others do. Give good heed, husband, to what
I say: were I disposed to dishonour thee, I were at no loss to find the
man: for here are gallants enough, that love me, and court me, and have
sent me many an offer of money--no stint--or dresses or jewels, should I
prefer them; but my pride would never suffer it, because I was not born
of a woman of that sort: and now thou comest home to me when thou
oughtest to be at work."

Whereto the husband:--"Wife, wife, for God's sake distress not thyself:
thou shouldst give me credit for knowing what manner of woman thou art,
as indeed I have partly seen this morning. True it is that I went out to
work; but 'tis plain that thou knowest not, as indeed I knew not, that
to-day 'tis the feast of San Galeone, and a holiday, and that is why I am
come home at this hour; but nevertheless I have found means to provide us
with bread for more than a month; for I have sold to this gentleman, whom
thou seest with me, the tun, thou wottest of, seeing that it has
encumbered the house so long, and he will give me five gigliats for it."
Quoth then Peronella:--"And all this but adds to my trouble: thou, that
art a man, and goest abroad, and shouldst know affairs, hast sold for
five gigliats a tun, which I, that am but a woman, and was scarce ever
out of doors, have, for that it took up so much room in the house, sold
for seven gigliats to a good man, that but now, as thou cam'st back, got
therein, to see if 'twere sound." So hearing, the husband was overjoyed,
and said to the man that was come to take it away:--"Good man, I wish
thee Godspeed; for, as thou hearest, my wife has sold the tun for seven
gigliats, whereas thou gavest me only five." Whereupon:--"So be it," said
the good man, and took himself off. Then said Peronella to her
husband:--"Now, as thou art here, come up, and arrange the matter with
the good man."

Now Giannello, who, meanwhile, had been all on the alert to discover if
there were aught he had to fear or be on his guard against, no sooner
heard Peronella's last words, than he sprang out of the tun, and feigning
to know nought of her husband's return, began thus:--"Where art thou,
good dame?" Whereto the husband, coming up, answered:--"Here am I: what
wouldst thou of me?" Quoth Giannello:--"And who art thou? I would speak
with the lady with whom I struck the bargain for this tun." Then said the
good man:--"Have no fear, you can deal with me; for I am her husband."
Quoth then Giannello:--"The tun seems to me sound enough; but I think you
must have let the lees remain in it; for 'tis all encrusted with I know
not what that is so dry, that I cannot raise it with the nail; wherefore
I am not minded to take it unless I first see it scoured." Whereupon
Peronella:--"To be sure: that shall not hinder the bargain; my husband
will scour it clean." And:--"Well and good," said the husband.

So he laid down his tools, stripped himself to his vest, sent for a light
and a rasp, and was in the tun, and scraping away, in a trice. Whereupon
Peronella, as if she were curious to see what he did, thrust her head
into the vent of the tun, which was of no great size, and therewithal one
of her arms up to the shoulder, and fell a saying:--"Scrape here, and
here, and there too, and look, there is a bit left here." So, she being
in this posture, directing and admonishing her husband, Giannello, who
had not, that morning, fully satisfied his desire, when the husband
arrived, now seeing that as he would, he might not, brought his mind to
his circumstances, and resolved to take his pleasure as he might:
wherefore he made up to the lady, who completely blocked the vent of the
tun; and even on such wise as on the open champaign the wild and lusty
horses do amorously assail the mares of Parthia, he sated his youthful
appetite; and so it was that almost at the same moment that he did so,
and was off, the tun was scoured, the husband came forth of it, and
Peronella withdrew her head from the vent, and turning to Giannello,
said:--"Take this light, good man, and see if 'tis scoured to thy mind."
Whereupon Giannello, looking into the tun, said that 'twas in good trim,
and that he was well content, and paid the husband the seven gigliats,
and caused him carry the tun to his house.


Fra Rinaldo lies with his gossip: her husband finds him in the room with
her; and they make him believe that he was curing his godson of worms by
a charm.

Filostrato knew not how so to veil what he said touching the mares of
Parthia, but that the keen-witted ladies laughed thereat, making as if
'twas at somewhat else. However, his story being ended, the king called
for one from Elisa, who, all obedience, thus began:--Debonair my ladies,
we heard from Emilia how the bogey is exorcised, and it brought to my
mind a story of another incantation: 'tis not indeed so good a story as
hers; but, as no other, germane to our theme, occurs to me at present, I
will relate it.

You are to know, then, that there dwelt aforetime at Siena a young man,
right gallant and of honourable family, his name Rinaldo; who, being in
the last degree enamoured of one of his neighbours, a most beautiful
gentlewoman and the wife of a rich man, was not without hopes that, if he
could but find means to speak with her privately, he might have of her
all that he desired; but seeing no way, and the lady being pregnant, he
cast about how he might become her child's godfather. Wherefore, having
ingratiated himself with her husband, he broached the matter to him in as
graceful a manner as he might; and 'twas arranged. So Rinaldo, being now
godfather to Madonna Agnesa's child, and having a more colourable pretext
for speaking to her, took courage, and told her in words that message of
his heart which she had long before read in his eyes; but though 'twas
not displeasing to the lady to hear, it availed him but little.

Now not long afterwards it so befell that, whatever may have been his
reason, Rinaldo betook him to friarage; and whether it was that he found
good pasture therein, or what not, he persevered in that way of life. And
though for a while after he was turned friar, he laid aside the love he
bore his gossip, and certain other vanities, yet in course of time,
without putting off the habit, he resumed them, and began to take a pride
in his appearance, and to go dressed in fine clothes, and to be quite the
trim gallant, and to compose songs and sonnets and ballades, and to sing
them, and to make a brave shew in all else that pertained to his new
character. But why enlarge upon our Fra Rinaldo, of whom we speak? what
friars are there that do not the like? Ah! opprobrium of a corrupt world!
Sleek-faced and sanguine, daintily clad, dainty in all their accessories,
they ruffle it shamelessly before the eyes of all, shewing not as doves
but as insolent cocks with raised crest and swelling bosom, and, what is
worse (to say nought of the vases full of electuaries and unguents, the
boxes packed with divers comfits, the pitchers and phials of artificial
waters, and oils, the flagons brimming with Malmsey and Greek and other
wines of finest quality, with which their cells are so packed that they
shew not as the cells of friars, but rather as apothecaries' or
perfumers' shops), they blush not to be known to be gouty, flattering
themselves that other folk wot not that long fasts and many of them, and
coarse fare and little of it, and sober living, make men lean and thin
and for the most part healthy; or if any malady come thereof, at any rate
'tis not the gout, the wonted remedy for which is chastity and all beside
that belongs to the regimen of a humble friar. They flatter themselves,
too, that others wot not that over and above the meagre diet, long vigils
and orisons and strict discipline ought to mortify men and make them
pale, and that neither St. Dominic nor St. Francis went clad in stuff
dyed in grain or any other goodly garb, but in coarse woollen habits
innocent of the dyer's art, made to keep out the cold, and not for shew.
To which matters 'twere well God had a care, no less than to the souls of
the simple folk by whom our friars are nourished.

Fra Rinaldo, then, being come back to his first affections, took to
visiting his gossip very frequently; and gaining confidence, began with
more insistence than before to solicit her to that which he craved of
her. So, being much urged, the good lady, to whom Fra Rinaldo, perhaps,
seemed now more handsome than of yore, had recourse one day, when she
felt herself unusually hard pressed by him, to the common expedient of
all that would fain concede what is asked of them, and said:--"Oh! but
Fra Rinaldo, do friars then do this sort of thing?" "Madam," replied Fra
Rinaldo, "when I divest myself of this habit, which I shall do easily
enough, you will see that I am a man furnished as other men, and no
friar." Whereto with a truly comical air the lady made answer:--"Alas!
woe's me! you are my child's godfather: how might it be? nay, but 'twere
a very great mischief; and many a time I have heard that 'tis a most
heinous sin; and without a doubt, were it not so, I would do as you
wish." "If," said Fra Rinaldo, "you forego it for such a scruple as this,
you are a fool for your pains. I say not that 'tis no sin; but there is
no sin so great but God pardons it, if one repent. Now tell me: whether
is more truly father to your son, I that held him at the font, or your
husband that begot him?" "My husband," replied the lady. "Sooth say you,"
returned the friar, "and does not your husband lie with you?" "Why, yes,"
said the lady. "Then," rejoined the friar, "I that am less truly your
son's father than your husband, ought also to lie with you, as does your
husband." The lady was no logician, and needed little to sway her: she
therefore believed or feigned to believe that what the friar said was
true. So:-- "Who might avail to answer your words of wisdom?" quoth she;
and presently forgot the godfather in the lover, and complied with his
desires. Nor had they begun their course to end it forthwith: but under
cover of the friar's sponsorship, which set them more at ease, as it
rendered them less open to suspicion, they forgathered again and again.

But on one of these occasions it so befell that Fra Rinaldo, being come
to the lady's house, where he espied none else save a very pretty and
dainty little maid that waited on the lady, sent his companion away with
her into the pigeon-house, there to teach her the paternoster, while he
and the lady, holding her little boy by the hand, went into the bedroom,
locked themselves in, got them on to a divan that was there, and began to
disport them. And while thus they sped the time, it chanced that the
father returned, and, before any was ware of him, was at the bedroom
door, and knocked, and called the lady by her name. Whereupon:--"'Tis as
much as my life is worth," quoth Madonna Agnesa; "lo, here is my husband;
and the occasion of our intimacy cannot but be now apparent to him."
"Sooth say you," returned Fra Rinaldo, who was undressed, that is to say,
had thrown off his habit and hood, and was in his tunic; "if I had but my
habit and hood on me in any sort, 'twould be another matter; but if you
let him in, and he find me thus, 'twill not be possible to put any face
on it." But with an inspiration as happy as sudden:--"Now get them on
you," quoth the lady; "and when you have them on, take your godson in
your arms, and give good heed to what I shall say to him, that your words
may accord with mine; and leave the rest to me."

The good man was still knocking, when his wife made answer:-- "Coming,
coming." And so up she got, and put on a cheerful countenance and hied
her to the door, and opened it and said:--"Husband mine: well indeed was
it for us that in came Fra Rinaldo, our sponsor; 'twas God that sent him
to us; for in sooth, but for that, we had to-day lost our boy." Which the
poor simpleton almost swooned to hear; and:--"How so?" quoth he. "O
husband mine," replied the lady, "he was taken but now, all of a sudden,
with a fainting fit, so that I thought he was dead: and what to do or say
I knew not, had not Fra Rinaldo, our sponsor, come just in the nick of
time, and set him on his shoulder, and said:--'Gossip, 'tis that he has
worms in his body, and getting, as they do, about the heart, they might
only too readily be the death of him; but fear not; I will say a charm
that will kill them all; and before I take my leave, you will see your
boy as whole as you ever saw him.' And because to say certain of the
prayers thou shouldst have been with us, and the maid knew not where to
find thee, he caused his companion to say them at the top of the house,
and he and I came in here. And for that 'tis not meet for any but the
boy's mother to assist at such a service, that we might not be troubled
with any one else, we locked the door; and he yet has him in his arms;
and I doubt not that he only waits till his companion have said his
prayers, and then the charm will be complete; for the boy is already
quite himself again."

The good simple soul, taking all this for sooth, and overwrought by the
love he bore his son, was entirely without suspicion of the trick his
wife was playing him, and heaving a great sigh, said:--"I will go look
for him." "Nay," replied the wife, "go not: thou wouldst spoil the
efficacy of the charm: wait here; I will go see if thou mayst safely go;
and will call thee."

Whereupon Fra Rinaldo, who had heard all that passed, and was in his
canonicals, and quite at his ease, and had the boy in his arms, having
made sure that all was as it should be, cried out:--"Gossip, do I not
hear the father's voice out there?" "Ay indeed, Sir," replied the
simpleton. "Come in then," said Fra Rinaldo. So in came the simpleton.
Whereupon quoth Fra Rinaldo:--"I restore to you your boy made whole by
the grace of God, whom but now I scarce thought you would see alive at
vespers. You will do well to have his image fashioned in wax, not less
than life-size, and set it for a thanksgiving to God, before the statue
of Master St. Ambrose, by whose merits you have this favour of God."

The boy, catching sight of his father, ran to him with joyous greetings,
as little children are wont; and the father, taking him in his arms, and
weeping as if he were restored to him from the grave, fell by turns a
kissing him and thanking his godfather, that he had cured him. Fra
Rinaldo's companion, who had taught the maid not one paternoster only,
but peradventure four or more, and by giving her a little purse of white
thread that a nun had given him, had made her his devotee, no sooner
heard Fra Rinaldo call the simpleton into his wife's room, than he
stealthily got him to a place whence he might see and hear what was going
on. Observing that the affair was now excellently arranged, he came down,
and entered the chamber, saying:--"Fra Rinaldo, those four prayers that
you bade me say, I have said them all." "Then well done, my brother,"
quoth Fra Rinaldo, "well-breathed must thou be. For my part, I had but
said two, when my gossip came in; but what with thy travail and mine, God
of His grace has vouchsafed-us the healing or the boy." The simpleton
then had good wine and comfits brought in, and did the honours to the
godfather and his companion in such sort as their occasions did most
demand. He then ushered them forth of the house, commending them to God;
and without delay had the waxen image made, and directed it to be set up
with the others in front of the statue of St. Ambrose, not, be it
understood, St. Ambrose of Milan.(1)

(1) The statue would doubtless be that of St. Ambrose of Siena, of the
Dominican Order.


Tofano one night locks his wife out of the house: she, finding that by no
entreaties may she prevail upon him to let her in, feigns to throw
herself into a well, throwing therein a great stone. Tofano hies him
forth of the house, and runs to the spot: she goes into the house, and
locks him out, and hurls abuse at him from within.

The king no sooner wist that Elisa's story was ended, than, turning to
Lauretta, he signified his will that she should tell somewhat: wherefore
without delay she began:--O Love, how great and signal is thy potency!
how notable thy stratagems, thy devices! Was there ever, shall there ever
be, philosopher or adept competent to inspire, counsel and teach in such
sort as thou by thine unpremeditated art dost tutor those that follow thy
lead? Verily laggard teachers are they all in comparison of thee, as by
the matters heretofore set forth may very well be understood. To which
store I will add, loving ladies, a stratagem used by a woman of quite
ordinary understanding, and of such a sort that I know not by whom she
could have been taught it save by Love.

Know, then, that there dwelt aforetime at Arezzo a rich man, Tofano by
name, who took to wife Monna Ghita, a lady exceeding fair, of whom, for
what cause he knew not, he presently grew jealous. Whereof the lady being
ware, waxed resentful, and having on divers occasions demanded of him the
reason of his jealousy, and gotten from him nought precise, but only
generalities and trivialities, resolved at last to give him cause enough
to die of that evil which without cause he so much dreaded. And being
ware that a gallant, whom she deemed well worthy of her, was enamoured of
her, she, using due discretion, came to an understanding with him; which
being brought to the point that it only remained to give effect to their
words in act, the lady cast about to devise how this might be. And
witting that, among other bad habits that her husband had, he was too
fond of his cups, she would not only commend indulgence, but cunningly
and not seldom incite him thereto; insomuch that, well-nigh as often as
she was so minded, she led him to drink to excess; and when she saw that
he was well drunken, she would put him to bed; and so not once only but
divers times without any manner of risk she forgathered with her lover;
nay, presuming upon her husband's intoxication, she grew so bold that,
not content with bringing her lover into her house, she would at times go
spend a great part of the night with him at his house, which was not far

Now such being the enamoured lady's constant practice, it so befell that
the dishonoured husband took note that, while she egged him on to drink,
she herself drank never a drop; whereby he came to suspect the truth, to
wit, that the lady was making him drunk, that afterwards she might take
her pleasure while he slept. And being minded to put his surmise to the
proof, one evening, having drunken nought all day, he mimicked never so
drunken a sot both in speech and in carriage. The lady, deeming him to be
really as he appeared, and that 'twas needless to ply him with liquor,
presently put him to bed. Which done, she, as she at times was wont, hied
her forth to her lover's house, where she tarried until midnight. Tofano
no sooner perceived that his wife was gone, than up he got, hied him to
the door, locked it, and then posted himself at the window to observe her
return, and let her know that he was ware of her misconduct. So there he
stood until the lady returned, and finding herself locked out, was
annoyed beyond measure, and sought to force the door open. Tofano let her
try her strength upon it a while, and then:--"Madam," quoth he, "'tis all
to no purpose: thou canst not get in. Go get thee back thither where thou
hast tarried all this while, and rest assured that thou shalt never
recross this threshold, until I have done thee such honour as is meet for
thee in the presence of thy kinsfolk and neighbours." Thereupon the lady
fell entreating him to be pleased to open to her for the love of God, for
that she was not come whence he supposed, but had only been passing the
time with one of her gossips, because the nights were long, and she could
not spend the whole time either in sleep or in solitary watching. But her
supplications availed her nothing, for the fool was determined that all
Arezzo should know their shame, whereof as yet none wist aught. So as
'twas idle to entreat, the lady assumed a menacing tone, saying:--"So
thou open not to me, I will make thee the saddest man alive." Whereto
Tofano made answer:--"And what then canst thou do?" The lady, her wits
sharpened by Love, rejoined:--"Rather than endure the indignity to which
thou wouldst unjustly subject me, I will cast myself into the well hard
by here, and when I am found dead there, all the world will believe that
'twas thou that didst it in thy cups, and so thou wilt either have to
flee and lose all that thou hast and be outlawed, or forfeit thy head as
guilty of my death, as indeed thou wilt be." But, for all she said,
Tofano wavered not a jot in his foolish purpose. So at last:--"Lo, now,"
quoth the lady, "I can no more abide thy surly humour: God forgive thee:
I leave thee my distaff here, which be careful to bestow in a safe
place." So saying, away she hied her to the well, and, the night being so
dark that wayfarers could scarce see one another as they passed, she took
up a huge stone that was by the well, and ejaculating, "God forgive me!"
dropped it therein. Tofano, hearing the mighty splash that the stone made
as it struck the water, never doubted that she had cast herself in: so,
bucket and rope in hand, he flung himself out of the house, and came
running to the well to her rescue. The lady had meanwhile hidden herself
hard by the door, and seeing him make for the well, was in the house in a
trice, and having locked the door, hied her to the window, and greeted
him with:--"'Tis while thou art drinking, not now, when the night is far
spent, that thou shouldst temper thy wine with water." Thus derided,
Tofano came back to the door, and finding his ingress barred, began
adjuring her to let him in. Whereupon, changing the low tone she had
hitherto used for one so shrill that 'twas well-nigh a shriek, she broke
out with:--"By the Holy Rood, tedious drunken sot that thou art, thou
gettest no admittance here to-night; thy ways are more than I can endure:
'tis time I let all the world know what manner of man thou art, and at
what hour of the night thou comest home." Tofano, on his part, now grew
angry, and began loudly to upbraid her; insomuch that the neighbours,
aroused by the noise, got up, men and women alike, and looked out of the
windows, and asked what was the matter. Whereupon the lady fell a weeping
and saying:--"'Tis this wicked man, who comes home drunk at even, or
falls asleep in some tavern, and then returns at this hour. Long and to
no purpose have I borne with him; but 'tis now past endurance, and I have
done him this indignity of locking him out of the house in the hope that
perchance it may cause him to mend his ways."

Tofano, on his part, told, dolt that he was, just what had happened, and
was mighty menacing. Whereupon:--"Now mark," quoth the lady to the
neighbours, "the sort of man he is! What would you say if I were, as he
is, in the street, and he were in the house, as I am? God's faith, I
doubt you would believe what he said. Hereby you may gauge his sense. He
tells you that I have done just what, I doubt not, he has done himself.
He thought to terrify me by throwing I know not what into the well,
wherein would to God he had thrown himself indeed, and drowned himself,
whereby the wine of which he has taken more than enough, had been watered
to some purpose!" The neighbours, men and women alike, now with one
accord gave tongue, censuring Tofano, throwing all the blame upon him,
and answering what he alleged against the lady with loud recrimination;
and in short the bruit, passing from neighbour to neighbour, reached at
last the ears of the lady's kinsfolk; who hied them to the spot, and
being apprised of the affair from this, that and the other of the
neighbours, laid hands on Tofano, and beat him till he was black and blue
from head to foot. Which done, they entered his house, stripped it of all
that belonged to the lady, and took her home with them, bidding Tofano
look for worse to come. Thus hard bested, and ruing the plight in which
his jealousy had landed him, Tofano, who loved his wife with all his
heart, set some friends to work to patch matters up, whereby he did in
fact induce his lady to forgive him and live with him again, albeit he
was fain to promise her never again to be jealous, and to give her leave
to amuse herself to her heart's content, provided she used such
discretion that he should not be ware of it. On such wise, like the churl
and booby that he was, being despoiled, he made terms. Now long live
Love, and perish war, and all that wage it!


A jealous husband disguises himself as a priest, and hears his own wife's
confession: she tells him that she loves a priest, who comes to her every
night. The husband posts himself at the door to watch for the priest, and
meanwhile the lady brings her lover in by the roof, and tarries with him.

When Lauretta had done speaking, and all had commended the lady, for that
she had done well, and treated her caitiff husband as he had deserved,
the king, not to lose time, turned to Fiammetta, and graciously bade her
take up her parable; which she did on this wise:--Most noble ladies, the
foregoing story prompts me likewise to discourse of one of these jealous
husbands, deeming that they are justly requited by their wives, more
especially when they grow jealous without due cause. And had our
legislators taken account of everything, I am of opinion that they would
have visited ladies in such a case with no other penalty than such as
they provide for those that offend in self-defence, seeing that a jealous
husband does cunningly practise against the life of his lady, and most
assiduously machinate her death. All the week the wife stays at home,
occupied with her domestic duties; after which, on the day that is sacred
to joy, she, like every one else, craves some solace, some peace, some
recreation, not unreasonably, for she craves but what the husbandmen take
in the fields, the craftsmen in the city, the magistrates in the courts,
nay what God Himself took, when He rested from all His labours on the
seventh day, and which laws human and Divine, mindful alike of the honour
of God and the common well-being, have ordained, appropriating certain
days to work, and others to repose. To which ordinance these jealous
husbands will in no wise conform; on the contrary by then most sedulously
secluding their wives, they make those days which to all other women are
gladsome, to them most grievous and dolorous. And what an affliction it
is to the poor creatures, they alone know, who have proved it; for which
reason, to sum up, I say that a wife is rather to be commended than
censured, if she take her revenge upon a husband that is jealous without

Know then that at Rimini there dwelt a merchant, a man of great substance
in lands and goods and money, who, having a most beautiful woman to wife,
waxed inordinately jealous of her, and that for no better reason than
that, loving her greatly, and esteeming her exceeding fair, and knowing
that she did her utmost endeavour to pleasure him, he must needs suppose
that every man loved her, and esteemed her fair, and that she, moreover,
was as zealous to stand well with every other man as with himself;
whereby you may see that he was a poor creature, and of little sense.
Being thus so deeply infected with jealousy, he kept so strict and close
watch over her, that some, maybe, have lain under sentence of death and
been less rigorously confined by their warders. 'Twas not merely that the
lady might not go to a wedding, or a festal gathering, or even to church,
or indeed set foot out of doors in any sort; but she dared not so much as
shew herself at a window, or cast a glance outside the house, no matter
for what purpose. Wherefore she led a most woeful life of it, and found
it all the harder to bear because she knew herself to be innocent.
Accordingly, seeing herself evilly entreated by her husband without good
cause, she cast about how for her own consolation she might devise means
to justify his usage of her. And for that, as she might not shew herself
at the window, there could be no interchange of amorous glances between
her and any man that passed along the street, but she wist that in the
next house there was a goodly and debonair gallant, she bethought her,
that, if there were but a hole in the wall that divided the two houses,
she might watch thereat, until she should have sight of the gallant on
such wise that she might speak to him, and give him her love, if he cared
to have it, and, if so it might be contrived, forgather with him now and
again, and after this fashion relieve the burden of her woeful life,
until such time as the evil spirit should depart from her husband. So
peering about, now here, now there, when her husband was away, she found
in a very remote part of the house a place, where, by chance, the wall
had a little chink in it. Peering through which, she made out, though not
without great difficulty, that on the other side was a room, and said to
herself:--If this were Filippo's room--Filippo was the name of the
gallant, her neighbour--I should be already halfway to my goal. So
cautiously, through her maid, who was grieved to see her thus languish,
she made quest, and discovered that it was indeed the gallant's room,
where he slept quite alone. Wherefore she now betook her frequently to
the aperture, and whenever she was ware that the gallant was in the room,
she would let fall a pebble or the like trifle; whereby at length she
brought the gallant to the other side of the aperture to see what the
matter was. Whereupon she softly called him, and he knowing her voice,
answered; and so, having now the opportunity she had sought, she in few
words opened to him all her mind. The gallant, being overjoyed, wrought
at the aperture on such wise that albeit none might be ware thereof, he
enlarged it; and there many a time they held converse together, and
touched hands, though further they might not go by reason of the
assiduous watch that the jealous husband kept.

Now towards Christmas the lady told her husband that, if he approved, she
would fain go on Christmas morning to church, and confess and
communicate, like other Christians. "And what sins," quoth he, "hast thou
committed, that wouldst be shriven?" "How?" returned the lady; "dost thou
take me for a saint? For all thou keepest me so close, thou must know
very well that I am like all other mortals. However, I am not minded to
confess to thee, for that thou art no priest." Her husband, whose
suspicions were excited by what she had said, cast about how he might
discover these sins of hers, and having bethought him of what seemed an
apt expedient, made answer that she had his consent, but he would not
have her go to any church but their own chapel, where she might hie her
betimes in the morning, and confess either to their own chaplain or some
other priest that the chaplain might assign her, but to none other, and
presently return to the house. The lady thought she half understood him,
but she answered only that she would do as he required. Christmas morning
came, and with the dawn the lady rose, dressed herself, and hied her to
the church appointed by her husband, who also rose, and hied him to the
same church, where he arrived before her; and having already concerted
matters with the priest that was in charge, he forthwith put on one of
the priest's robes with a great hood, overshadowing the face, such as we
see priests wear, and which he pulled somewhat forward; and so disguised
he seated himself in the choir.

On entering the church the lady asked for the priest, who came, and
learning that she was minded to confess, said that he could not hear her
himself, but would send her one of his brethren; so away he hied him and
sent her, in an evil hour for him, her husband. For though he wore an air
of great solemnity, and 'twas not yet broad day, and he had pulled the
hood well over his eyes, yet all did not avail, but that his lady
forthwith recognized him, and said to herself:--God be praised! why, the
jealous rogue is turned priest: but leave it me to give him that whereof
he is in quest. So she feigned not to know him, and seated herself at his
feet. (I should tell you that he had put some pebbles in his mouth, that
his speech, being impeded, might not betray him to his wife, and in all
other respects he deemed himself so thoroughly disguised that there was
nought whereby she might recognize him.) Now, to come to the confession,
the lady, after informing him that she was married, told him among other
matters that she was enamoured of a priest, who came every night to lie
with her. Which to hear was to her husband as if he were stricken through
the heart with a knife; and had it not been that he was bent on knowing
more, he would have forthwith given over the confession, and taken
himself off. However he kept his place, and:--"How?" said he to the lady,
"does not your husband lie with you?" The lady replied in the
affirmative. "How, then," quoth the husband, "can the priest also lie
with you?" "Sir," replied she, "what art the priest employs I know not;
but door there is none, however well locked, in the house, that comes not
open at his touch; and he tells me that, being come to the door of my
room, before he opens it, he says certain words, whereby my husband
forthwith falls asleep; whereupon he opens the door, and enters the room,
and lies with me; and so 'tis always, without fail." "Then 'tis very
wrong, Madam, and you must give it up altogether," said the husband.
"That, Sir," returned the lady, "I doubt I can never do; for I love him
too much." "In that case," quoth the husband, "I cannot give you
absolution." "The pity of it!" ejaculated the lady; "I came not hither to
tell you falsehoods: if I could give it up, I would." "Madam," replied
the husband, "indeed I am sorry for you; for I see that you are in a fair
way to lose your soul. However, this I will do for you; I will make
special supplication to God on your behalf; and perchance you may be
profited thereby. And from time to time I will send you one of my young
clerks; and you will tell him whether my prayers have been of any help to
you, or no, and if they have been so, I shall know what to do next."
"Nay, Sir," quoth the lady, "do not so; send no man to me at home; for,
should my husband come to know it, he is so jealous that nothing in the
world would ever disabuse him of the idea that he came but for an evil
purpose, and so I should have no peace with him all the year long."
Madam, returned the husband, "have no fear; rest assured that I will so
order matters that you shall never hear a word about it from him." "If
you can make sure of that," quoth the lady, "I have no more to say." And
so, her confession ended, and her penance enjoined, she rose, and went to
mass, while the luckless husband, fuming and fretting, hasted to divest
himself of his priest's trappings, and then went home bent upon devising
some means to bring the priest and his wife together, and take his
revenge upon them both.

When the lady came home from church she read in her husband's face that
she had spoiled his Christmas for him, albeit he dissembled to the
uttermost, lest she should discover what he had done, and supposed
himself to have learned. His mind was made up to keep watch for the
priest that very night by his own front door. So to the lady he said:--"I
have to go out to-night to sup and sleep; so thou wilt take care that the
front door, and the mid-stair door, and the bedroom door are well locked;
and for the rest thou mayst go to bed, at thine own time." "Well and
good," replied the lady: and as soon as she was able, off she hied her to
the aperture, and gave the wonted signal, which Filippo no sooner heard,
than he was at the spot. The lady then told him what she had done in the
morning, and what her husband had said to her after breakfast,
adding:--"Sure I am that he will not stir out of the house, but will keep
watch beside the door; wherefore contrive to come in to-night by the
roof, that we may be together." "Madam," replied the gallant, nothing
loath, "trust me for that."

Night came, the husband armed, and noiselessly hid himself in a room on
the ground floor: the lady locked all the doors, being especially careful
to secure the mid-stair door, to bar her husband's ascent; and in due
time the gallant, having found his way cautiously enough over the roof,
they got them to bed, and there had solace of one another and a good
time; and at daybreak the gallant hied him back to his house. Meanwhile
the husband, rueful and supperless, half dead with cold, kept his armed
watch beside his door, momently expecting the priest, for the best part
of the night; but towards daybreak, his powers failing him, he lay down
and slept in the ground-floor room. 'Twas hard upon tierce when he awoke,
and the front door was then open; so, making as if he had just come in,
he went upstairs and breakfasted. Not long afterwards he sent to his wife
a young fellow, disguised as the priest's underling, who asked her if he
of whom she wist had been with her again. The lady, who quite understood
what that meant, made answer that he had not come that night, and that,
if he continued to neglect her so, 'twas possible he might be forgotten,
though she had no mind to forget him.

Now, to make a long story short, the husband passed many a night in the
same way, hoping to catch the priest as he came in, the lady and her
gallant meanwhile having a good time. But at last the husband, being able
to stand it no longer, sternly demanded of his wife what she had said to
the priest the morning when she was confessed. The lady answered that she
was not minded to tell him, for that 'twas not seemly or proper so to do.
Whereupon:--"Sinful woman," quoth the husband, "in thy despite I know
what thou saidst to him, and know I must and will who this priest is, of
whom thou art enamoured, and who by dint of his incantations lies with
thee a nights, or I will sluice thy veins for thee." "'Tis not true,"
replied the lady, "that I am enamoured of a priest." "How?" quoth the
husband, "saidst thou not as much to the priest that confessed thee?"
"Thou canst not have had it from him," rejoined the lady. "Wast thou then
present thyself? For sure I never told him so." "Then tell me," quoth the
husband, "who this priest is; and lose no time about it." Whereat the
lady began to smile, and:--"I find it not a little diverting," quoth she,
"that a wise man should suffer himself to be led by a simple woman as a
ram is led by the horns to the shambles; albeit no wise man art thou: not
since that fatal hour when thou gavest harbourage in thy breast, thou
wist not why, to the evil spirit of jealousy; and the more foolish and
insensate thou art, the less glory have I. Deemest thou, my husband, that
I am as blind of the bodily eye as thou art of the mind's eye? Nay, but
for sure I am not so. I knew at a glance the priest that confessed me,
and that 'twas even thyself. But I was minded to give thee that of which
thou wast in quest, and I gave it thee. Howbeit, if thou hadst been the
wise man thou takest thyself to be, thou wouldst not have chosen such a
way as that to worm out thy good lady's secrets, nor wouldst thou have
fallen a prey to a baseless suspicion, but wouldst have understood that
what she confessed was true, and she all the while guiltless. I told thee
that I loved a priest; and wast not thou, whom I love, though ill enough
dost thou deserve it, turned priest? I told thee that there was no door
in my house but would open when he was minded to lie with me: and when
thou wouldst fain have access to me, what door was ever closed against
thee? I told thee that the priest lay nightly with me: and what night was
there that thou didst not lie with me? Thou sentest thy young clerk to
me: and thou knowest that, as often as thou hadst not been with me, I
sent word that the priest had not been with me. Who but thou, that hast
suffered jealousy to blind thee, would have been so witless as not to
read such a riddle? But thou must needs mount guard at night beside the
door, and think to make me believe that thou hadst gone out to sup and
sleep. Consider thy ways, and court not the mockery of those that know
them as I do, but turn a man again as thou wast wont to be: and let there
be no more of this strict restraint in which thou keepest me; for I swear
to thee by God that, if I were minded to set horns on thy brow, I should
not fail so to take my pastime that thou wouldst never find it out,
though thou hadst a hundred eyes, as thou hast but two."

Thus admonished, the jealous caitiff, who had flattered himself that he
had very cunningly discovered his wife's secret, was ashamed, and made no
answer save to commend his wife's wit and honour; and thus, having cause
for jealousy, he discarded it, as he had erstwhile been jealous without
cause. And so the adroit lady had, as it were, a charter of indulgence,
and needed no more to contrive for her lover to come to her over the roof
like a cat, but admitted him by the door, and using due discretion, had
many a good time with him, and sped her life gaily.


Madonna Isabella has with her Leonetto, her accepted lover, when she is
surprised by one Messer Lambertuccio, by whom she is beloved: her husband
coming home about the same time, she sends Messer Lambertuccio forth of
the house drawn sword in hand, and the husband afterwards escorts
Leonetto home.

Wondrous was the delight that all the company had of Fiammetta's story,
nor was there any but affirmed that the lady had done excellent well, and
dealt with her insensate husband as he deserved. However, it being ended,
the king bade Pampinea follow suit; which she did on this wise:--Not a
few there are that in their simplicity aver that Love deranges the mind,
insomuch that whoso loves becomes as it were witless: the folly of which
opinion, albeit I doubt it not, and deem it abundantly proven by what has
been already said, I purpose once again to demonstrate.

In our city, rich in all manner of good things, there dwelt a young
gentlewoman, fair exceedingly, and wedded to a most worthy and excellent
gentleman. And as it not seldom happens that one cannot keep ever to the
same diet, but would fain at times vary it, so this lady, finding her
husband not altogether to her mind, became enamoured of a gallant,
Leonetto by name, who, though of no high rank, was not a little debonair
and courteous, and he in like manner fell in love with her; and (as you
know that 'tis seldom that what is mutually desired fails to come about)
'twas not long before they had fruition of their love. Now the lady
being, as I said, fair and winsome, it so befell that a gentleman, Messer
Lambertuccio by name, grew mightily enamoured of her, but so tiresome and
odious did she find him, that for the world she could not bring herself
to love him. So, growing tired of fruitlessly soliciting her favour by
ambassage, Messer Lambertuccio, who was a powerful signior, sent her at
last another sort of message in which he threatened to defame her if she
complied not with his wishes. Wherefore the lady, knowing her man, was
terrified, and disposed herself to pleasure him.

Now it so chanced that Madonna Isabella, for such was the lady's name,
being gone, as is our Florentine custom in the summer, to spend some time
on a very goodly estate that she had in the contado, one morning finding
herself alone, for her husband had ridden off to tarry some days
elsewhere, she sent for Leonetto to come and keep her company; and
Leonetto came forthwith in high glee. But while they were together,
Messer Lambertuccio, who, having got wind that the husband was away, had
mounted his horse and ridden thither quite alone, knocked at the door.
Whereupon the lady's maid hied her forthwith to her mistress, who was
alone with Leonetto, and called her, saying:--"Madam, Messer Lambertuccio
is here below, quite alone." Whereat the lady was vexed beyond measure;
and being also not a little dismayed, she said to Leonetto:--"Prithee,
let it not irk thee to withdraw behind the curtain, and there keep close
until Messer Lambertuccio be gone." Leonetto, who stood in no less fear
of Messer Lambertuccio than did the lady, got into his hiding-place; and
the lady bade the maid go open to Messer Lambertuccio: she did so; and
having dismounted and fastened his palfrey to a pin, he ascended the
stairs; at the head of which the lady received him with a smile and as
gladsome a greeting as she could find words for, and asked him on what
errand he was come. The gentleman embraced and kissed her, saying:--"My
soul, I am informed that your husband is not here, and therefore I am
come to stay a while with you." Which said, they went into the room, and
locked them in, and Messer Lambertuccio fell a toying with her.

Now, while thus he sped the time with her, it befell that the lady's
husband, albeit she nowise expected him, came home, and, as he drew nigh
the palace, was observed by the maid, who forthwith ran to the lady's
chamber, and said:--"Madam, the master will be here anon; I doubt he is
already in the courtyard." Whereupon, for that she had two men in the
house, and the knight's palfrey, that was in the courtyard, made it
impossible to hide him, the lady gave herself up for dead. Nevertheless
she made up her mind on the spur of the moment, and springing out of bed
"Sir," quoth she to Messer Lambertuccio, "if you have any regard for me,
and would save my life, you will do as I bid you: that is to say, you
will draw your blade, and put on a fell and wrathful countenance, and hie
you downstairs, saying:--'By God, he shall not escape me elsewhere.' And
if my husband would stop you, or ask you aught, say nought but what I
have told you, and get you on horseback and tarry with him on no
account." "To hear is to obey," quoth Messer Lambertuccio, who, with the
flush of his recent exertion and the rage that he felt at the husband's
return still on his face, and drawn sword in hand, did as she bade him.
The lady's husband, being now dismounted in the courtyard, and not a
little surprised to see the palfrey there, was about to go up the stairs,
when he saw Messer Lambertuccio coming down them, and marvelling both at
his words and at his mien:--"What means this, Sir?" quoth he. But Messer
Lambertuccio clapped foot in stirrup, and mounted, saying nought
but:--"Zounds, but I will meet him elsewhere;" and so he rode off.

The gentleman then ascended the stairs, at the head of which he found his
lady distraught with terror, to whom he said:--"What manner of thing is
this? After whom goes Messer Lambertuccio, so wrathful and menacing?"
Whereto the lady, drawing nigher the room, that Leonetto might hear her,
made answer:--"Never, Sir, had I such a fright as this. There came
running in here a young man, who to me is quite a stranger, and at his
heels Messer Lambertuccio with a drawn sword in his hand; and as it
happened the young man found the door of this room open, and trembling in
every limb, cried out:--'Madam, your succour, for God's sake, that I die
not in your arms.' So up I got, and would have asked him who he was, and
how bested, when up came Messer Lambertuccio, exclaiming:--'Where art
thou, traitor?' I planted myself in the doorway, and kept him from
entering, and seeing that I was not minded to give him admittance, he was
courteous enough, after not a little parley, to take himself off, as you
saw." Whereupon:--"Wife," quoth the husband, "thou didst very right.
Great indeed had been the scandal, had some one been slain here, and
'twas a gross affront on Messer Lambertuccio's part to pursue a fugitive
within the house." He then asked where the young man was. Whereto the
lady answered:--"Nay, where he may be hiding, Sir, I wot not."
So:--"Where art thou?" quoth the knight. "Fear not to shew thyself." Then
forth of his hiding-place, all of a tremble, for in truth he had been
thoroughly terrified, crept Leonetto, who had heard all that had passed.
To whom:--"What hast thou to do with Messer Lambertuccio?" quoth the
knight. "Nothing in the world," replied the young man: "wherefore, I
doubt he must either be out of his mind, or have mistaken me for another;
for no sooner had he sight of me in the street hard by the palace, than
he laid his hand on his sword, and exclaimed:--'Traitor, thou art a dead
man.' Whereupon I sought not to know why, but fled with all speed, and
got me here, and so, thanks to God and this gentlewoman, I escaped his
hands." "Now away with thy fears," quoth the knight; "I will see thee
home safe and sound; and then 'twill be for thee to determine how thou
shalt deal with him." And so, when they had supped, he set him on
horseback, and escorted him to Florence, and left him not until he was
safe in his own house. And the very same evening, following the lady's
instructions, Leonetto spoke privily with Messer Lambertuccio, and so
composed the affair with him, that, though it occasioned not a little
talk, the knight never wist how he had been tricked by his wife.


Lodovico discovers to Madonna Beatrice the love that he bears her: she
sends Egano, her husband, into a garden disguised as herself, and lies
with Lodovico; who thereafter, being risen, hies him to the garden and
cudgels Egano.

This device of Madonna Isabella, thus recounted by Pampinea, was held
nothing short of marvellous by all the company. But, being bidden by the
king to tell the next story, thus spake Filomena:--Loving ladies, if I
mistake not, the device, of which you shall presently hear from me, will
prove to be no less excellent than the last.

You are to know, then, that there dwelt aforetime at Paris a Florentine
gentleman, who, being by reason of poverty turned merchant, had prospered
so well in his affairs that he was become very wealthy; and having by his
lady an only son, Lodovico by name, whose nobility disrelished trade, he
would not put him in any shop; but that he might be with other gentlemen,
he caused him to enter the service of the King of France, whereby he
acquired very fine manners and other accomplishments. Being in this
service, Lodovico was one day with some other young gallants that talked
of the fair ladies of France, and England, and other parts of the world,
when they were joined by certain knights that were returned from the Holy
Sepulchre; and hearing their discourse, one of the knights fell a saying,
that of a surety in the whole world, so far as he had explored it, there
was not any lady, of all that he had ever seen, that might compare for
beauty with Madonna Beatrice, the wife of Egano de' Galluzzi, of Bologna:
wherein all his companions, who in common with him had seen the lady at
Bologna, concurred. Which report Lodovico, who was as yet fancy-free, no
sooner heard, than he burned with such a yearning to see the lady that he
was able to think of nought else: insomuch that he made up his mind to
betake him to Bologna to see her, and if she pleased him, to remain
there; to which end he gave his father to understand that he would fain
visit the Holy Sepulchre, whereto his father after no little demur

So to Bologna Anichino--for so he now called himself--came; and, as
Fortune would have it, the very next day, he saw the lady at a festal
gathering, and deemed her vastly more beautiful than he had expected:
wherefore he waxed most ardently enamoured of her, and resolved never to
quit Bologna, until he had gained her love. So, casting about how he
should proceed, he could devise no other way but to enter her husband's
service, which was the more easy that he kept not a few retainers: on
this wise Lodovico surmised that, peradventure, he might compass his end.
He therefore sold his horses and meetly bestowed his servants, bidding
them make as if they knew him not; and being pretty familiar with his
host, he told him that he was minded to take service with some worthy
lord, it any such he might find. "Thou wouldst make," quoth the host,
"the very sort of retainer to suit a gentleman of this city, Egano by
name, who keeps not a few of them, and will have all of them presentable
like thee: I will mention the matter to him." And so he accordingly did,
and before he took leave of Egano had placed Anichino with him, to
Egano's complete satisfaction.

Being thus resident with Egano, and having abundant opportunities of
seeing the fair lady, Anichino set himself to serve Egano with no little
zeal; wherein he succeeded so well, that Egano was more than satisfied,
insomuch that by and by there was nought he could do without his advice,
and he entrusted to him the guidance not only of himself, but of all his
affairs. Now it so befell that one day when Egano was gone a hawking,
having left Anichino at home, Madonna Beatrice, who as yet wist not of
his love, albeit she had from time to time taken note of him and his
manners, and had not a little approved and commended them, sat herself
down with him to a game of chess, which, to please her, Anichino most
dexterously contrived to lose, to the lady's prodigious delight. After a
while, the lady's women, one and all, gave over watching their play, and
left them to it; whereupon Anichino heaved a mighty sigh. The lady,
looking hard at him, said:--"What ails thee, Anichino? Is it, then, such
a mortification to thee to be conquered by me?" "Nay, Madam," replied
Anichino, "my sigh was prompted by a much graver matter." "Then, if thou
hast any regard for me," quoth the lady, "tell me what it is." Hearing
himself thus adjured by "any regard" he had for her whom he loved more
than aught else, Anichino heaved a yet mightier sigh, which caused the
lady to renew her request that he would be pleased to tell her the
occasion of his sighs. Whereupon:--"Madam," said Anichino, "I greatly
fear me, that, were I to tell it you, 'twould but vex you; and, moreover,
I doubt you might repeat it to some one else." "Rest assured," returned
the lady, "that I shall neither be annoyed, nor, without thy leave, ever
repeat to any other soul aught that thou mayst say." "Then," said
Anichino, "having this pledge from you, I will tell it you." And, while
the tears all but stood in his eyes, he told her, who he was, the report
he had heard of her, and where and how he had become enamoured of her,
and with what intent he had taken service with her husband: after which,
he humbly besought her, that, if it might be, she would have pity on him,
and gratify this his secret and ardent desire; and that, if she were not
minded so to do, she would suffer him to retain his place there, and love
her. Ah! Bologna! how sweetly mixed are the elements in thy women! How
commendable in such a case are they all! No delight have they in sighs
and tears, but are ever inclinable to prayers, and ready to yield to the
solicitations of Love. Had I but words apt to praise them as they
deserve, my eloquence were inexhaustible.

The gentlewoman's gaze was fixed on Anichino as he spoke; she made no
doubt that all he said was true, and yielding to his appeal, she
entertained his love within her heart in such measure that she too began
to sigh, and after a sigh or two made answer:--"Sweet my Anichino, be of
good cheer; neither presents nor promises, nor any courting by gentleman,
or lord, or whoso else (for I have been and am still courted by not a
few) was ever able to sway my soul to love any of them: but thou, by the
few words that thou hast said, hast so wrought with me that, brief though
the time has been, I am already in far greater measure thine than mine.
My love I deem thee to have won right worthily; and so I give it thee,
and vow to give thee joyance thereof before the coming night be past. To
which end thou wilt come to my room about midnight; I will leave the door
open; thou knowest the side of the bed on which I sleep; thou wilt come
there; should I be asleep, thou hast but to touch me, and I shall awake,
and give thee solace of thy long-pent desire. In earnest whereof I will
even give thee a kiss." So saying, she threw her arms about his neck, and
lovingly kissed him, as Anichino her.

Their colloquy thus ended, Anichino betook him elsewhere about some
matters which he had to attend to, looking forward to midnight with
boundless exultation. Egano came in from his hawking; and after supper,
being weary, went straight to bed, whither the lady soon followed him,
leaving, as she had promised, the door of the chamber open. Thither
accordingly, at the appointed hour, came Anichino, and having softly
entered the chamber, and closed the door behind him, stole up to where
the lady lay, and laying his hand upon her breast, found that she was
awake. Now, as soon as she wist that Anichino was come, she took his hand
in both her own; and keeping fast hold of him, she turned about in the
bed, until she awoke Egano; whereupon:--"Husband," quoth she, "I would
not say aught of this to thee, yestereve, because I judged thou wast
weary; but tell me, upon thy hope of salvation, Egano, whom deemest thou
thy best and most loyal retainer, and the most attached to thee, of all
that thou hast in the house?" "What a question is this, wife?" returned
Egano. "Dost not know him? Retainer I have none, nor ever had, so
trusted, or loved, as Anichino. But wherefore put such a question?"

Now, when Anichino wist that Egano was awake, and heard them talk of
himself, he more than once tried to withdraw his hand, being mightily
afraid lest the lady meant to play him false; but she held it so tightly
that he might not get free, while thus she made answer to Egano:--"I will
tell thee what he is. I thought that he was all thou sayst, and that none
was so loyal to thee as he, but he has undeceived me, for that yesterday,
when thou wast out a hawking, he, being here, chose his time, and had the
shamelessness to crave of me compliance with his wanton desires: and I,
that I might not need other evidence than that of thine own senses to
prove his guilt to thee, I made answer, that I was well content, and that
to-night, after midnight, I would get me into the garden, and await him
there at the foot of the pine. Now go thither I shall certainly not; but,
if thou wouldst prove the loyalty of thy retainer, thou canst readily do
so, if thou but slip on one of my loose robes, and cover thy face with a
veil, and go down and attend his coming, for come, I doubt not, he will."
Whereto Egano:--"Meet indeed it is," quoth he, "that I should go see;"
and straightway up he got, and, as best he might in the dark, he put on
one of the lady's loose robes and veiled his face, and then hied him to
the garden, and sate down at the foot of the pine to await Anichino. The
lady no sooner wist that he was out of the room, than she rose, and
locked the door. Anichino, who had never been so terrified in all his
life, and had struggled with all his might to disengage his hand from the
lady's clasp, and had inwardly cursed her and his love, and himself for
trusting her, a hundred thousand times, was overjoyed beyond measure at
this last turn that she had given the affair. And so, the lady having got
her to bed again, and he, at her bidding, having stripped and laid him
down beside her, they had solace and joyance of one another for a good
while. Then, the lady, deeming it unmeet for Anichino to tarry longer
with her, caused him to get up and resume his clothes, saying to
him:--"Sweet my mouth, thou wilt take a stout cudgel, and get thee to the
garden, and making as if I were there, and thy suit to me had been but to
try me, thou wilt give Egano a sound rating with thy tongue and a sound
belabouring with thy cudgel, the sequel whereof will be wondrously
gladsome and delightful." Whereupon Anichino hied him off to the garden,
armed with a staff of wild willow; and as he drew nigh the pine, Egano
saw him, and rose and came forward to meet him as if he would receive him
with the heartiest of cheer. But:--"Ah! wicked woman!" quoth Anichino;
"so thou art come! Thou didst verily believe, then, that I was, that I
am, minded thus to wrong my lord? Foul fall thee a thousand times!" And
therewith he raised his cudgel, and began to lay about him. Egano,
however, had heard and seen enough, and without a word took to flight,
while Anichino pursued him, crying out:--"Away with thee! God send thee a
bad year, lewd woman that thou art; nor doubt that Egano shall hear of
this to-morrow." Egano, having received sundry round knocks, got him back
to his chamber with what speed he might; and being asked by the lady,
whether Anichino had come into the garden:--"Would to God he had not!"
quoth he, "for that, taking me for thee, he has beaten me black and blue
with his cudgel, and rated me like the vilest woman that ever was:
passing strange, indeed, it had seemed to me that he should have said
those words to thee with intent to dishonour me; and now 'tis plain that
'twas but that, seeing thee so blithe and frolicsome, he was minded to
prove thee." Whereto:--"God be praised," returned the lady, "that he
proved me by words, as thee by acts: and I doubt not he may say that I
bear his words with more patience than thou his acts. But since he is so
loyal to thee, we must make much of him and do him honour." "Ay, indeed,"
quoth Egano, "thou sayst sooth."

Thus was Egano fortified in the belief that never had any gentleman wife
so true, or retainer so loyal, as he; and many a hearty laugh had he with
Anichino and his lady over this affair, which to them was the occasion
that, with far less let than might else have been, they were able to have
solace and joyance of one another, so long as it pleased Anichino to
tarry at Bologna.


A husband grows jealous of his wife, and discovers that she has warning
of her lover's approach by a piece of pack-thread, which she ties to her
great toe a nights. While he is pursuing her lover, she puts another
woman in bed in her place. The husband, finding her there, beats her, and
cuts off her hair. He then goes and calls his wife's brothers, who,
holding his accusation to be false, give him a rating.

Rare indeed was deemed by common consent the subtlety shewn by Madonna
Beatrice in the beguilement of her husband, and all affirmed that the
terror of Anichino must have been prodigious, when, the lady still
keeping fast hold of him, he had heard her say that he had made suit of
love to her. However, Filomena being silent, the king turned to Neifile,
saying:--"'Tis now for you to tell." Whereupon Neifile, while a slight
smile died away upon her lips, thus began:--Fair ladies, to entertain you
with a goodly story, such as those which my predecessors have delighted
you withal, is indeed a heavy burden, but, God helping me, I trust fairly
well to acquit myself thereof.

You are to know, then, that there dwelt aforetime in our city a most
wealthy merchant, Arriguccio Berlinghieri by name, who foolishly, as we
wot by daily experience is the way of merchants, thinking to compass
gentility by matrimony, took to wife a young gentlewoman, by no means
suited to him, whose name was Monna Sismonda. Now Monna Sismonda, seeing
that her husband was much abroad, and gave her little of his company,
became enamoured of a young gallant, Ruberto by name, who had long
courted her: and she being grown pretty familiar with him, and using,
perchance, too little discretion, for she affected him extremely, it so
befell that Arriguccio, whether it was that he detected somewhat, or
howsoever, waxed of all men the most jealous, and gave up going abroad,
and changed his way of life altogether, and made it his sole care to
watch over his wife, insomuch that he never allowed himself a wink of
sleep until he had seen her to bed: which occasioned the lady the most
grievous dumps, because 'twas on no wise possible for her to be with her
Ruberto. So, casting about in many ways how she might contrive to meet
him, and being thereto not a little plied by Ruberto himself, she
bethought her at last of the following expedient: to wit, her room
fronting the street, and Arriguccio, as she had often observed, being
very hard put to it to get him to sleep, but thereafter sleeping very
soundly, she resolved to arrange with Ruberto that he should come to the
front door about midnight, whereupon she would get her down, and open the
door, and stay some time with him while her husband was in his deep
sleep. And that she might have tidings of his arrival, yet so as that
none else might wot aught thereof, she adopted the device of lowering a
pack-thread from the bedroom window on such wise that, while with one end
it should all but touch the ground, it should traverse the floor of the
room, until it reached the bed, and then be brought under the clothes, so
that, when she was abed, she might attach it to her great toe. Having so
done, she sent word to Ruberto, that when he came, he must be sure to
jerk the pack-thread, and, if her husband were asleep, she would loose
it, and go open to him; but, if he were awake, she would hold it taut and
draw it to herself, to let him know that he must not expect her. Ruberto
fell in with the idea, came there many times, and now forgathered with
her and again did not. But at last, they still using this cunning
practice, it so befell that one night, while the lady slept, Arriguccio,
letting his foot stray more than he was wont about the bed, came upon the
pack-thread, and laying his hand upon it, found that it was attached to
his lady's great toe, and said to himself:--This must be some trick: and
afterwards discovering that the thread passed out of the window, was
confirmed in his surmise. Wherefore, he softly severed it from the lady's
toe, and affixed it to his own; and waited, all attention, to learn the
result of his experiment. Nor had he long to wait before Ruberto came,
and Arriguccio felt him jerk the thread according to his wont: and as
Arriguccio had not known how to attach the thread securely, and Ruberto
jerked it with some force, it gave way, whereby he understood that he was
to wait, and did so. Arriguccio straightway arose, caught up his arms,
and hasted to the door to see who might be there, intent to do him a
mischief. Now Arriguccio, for all he was a merchant, was a man of spirit,
and of thews and sinews; and being come to the door, he opened it by no
means gingerly, as the lady was wont; whereby Ruberto, who was in
waiting, surmised the truth, to wit, that 'twas Arriguccio by whom the
door was opened. Wherefore he forthwith took to flight, followed by
Arriguccio. But at length, when he had run a long way, as Arriguccio gave
not up the pursuit, he being also armed, drew his sword, and faced about;
and so they fell to, Arriguccio attacking, and Ruberto defending himself.

Now when Arriguccio undid the bedroom door, the lady awoke, and finding
the pack-thread cut loose from her toe, saw at a glance that her trick
was discovered; and hearing Arriguccio running after Ruberto, she
forthwith got up, foreboding what the result was like to be, and called
her maid, who was entirely in her confidence: whom she so plied with her
obsecrations that at last she got her into bed in her room, beseeching
her not to say who she was, but to bear patiently all the blows that
Arriguccio might give her; and she would so reward her that she should
have no reason to complain. Then, extinguishing the light that was in the
room, forth she hied her, and having found a convenient hiding-place in
the house, awaited the turn of events. Now Arriguccio and Ruberto being
hotly engaged in the street, the neighbours, roused by the din of the
combat, got up and launched their curses upon them. Wherefore Arriguccio,
fearing lest he should be recognized, drew off before he had so much as
discovered who the young gallant was, or done him any scathe, and in a
fell and wrathful mood betook him home. Stumbling into the bedroom, he
cried out angrily:--"Where art thou, lewd woman? Thou hast put out the
light, that I may not be able to find thee; but thou hast miscalculated."
And going to the bedside, he laid hold of the maid, taking her to be his
wife, and fell a pummelling and kicking her with all the strength he had
in his hands and feet, insomuch that he pounded her face well-nigh to
pulp, rating her the while like the vilest woman that ever was; and last
of all he cut off her hair. The maid wept bitterly, as indeed she well
might; and though from time to time she ejaculated an "Alas! Mercy, for
God's sake!" or "Spare me, spare me;" yet her voice was so broken by her
sobs, and Arriguccio's hearing so dulled by his wrath, that he was not
able to discern that 'twas not his wife's voice but that of another
woman. So, having soundly thrashed her, and cut off her hair, as we
said:--"Wicked woman," quoth he, "I touch thee no more; but I go to find
thy brothers, and shall do them to wit of thy good works; and then they
may come here, and deal with thee as they may deem their honour demands,
and take thee hence, for be sure thou shalt no more abide in this house."
With this he was gone, locking the door of the room behind him, and
quitted the house alone.

Now no sooner did Monna Sismonda, who had heard all that passed, perceive
that her husband was gone, than she opened the door of the bedroom,
rekindled the light, and finding her maid all bruises and tears, did what
she could to comfort her, and carried her back to her own room, where,
causing her to be privily waited on and tended, she helped her so
liberally from Arriguccio's own store, that she confessed herself
content. The maid thus bestowed in her room, the lady presently hied her
back to her own, which she set all in neat and trim order, remaking the
bed, so that it might appear as if it had not been slept in, relighting
the lamp, and dressing and tiring herself, until she looked as if she had
not been abed that night; then, taking with her a lighted lamp and some
work, she sat her down at the head of the stairs, and began sewing, while
she waited to see how the affair would end.

Arriguccio meanwhile had hied him with all speed straight from the house
to that of his wife's brothers, where by dint of much knocking he made
himself heard, and was admitted. The lady's three brothers, and her
mother, being informed that 'twas Arriguccio, got up, and having set
lights a burning, came to him and asked him on what errand he was come
there at that hour, and alone. Whereupon Arriguccio, beginning with the
discovery of the pack-thread attached to his lady's great toe, gave them
the whole narrative of his discoveries and doings down to the very end;
and to clinch the whole matter, he put in their hands the locks which he
had cut, as he believed, from his wife's head, adding that 'twas now for
them to come for her and deal with her on such wise as they might deem
their honour required, seeing that he would nevermore have her in his
house. Firmly believing what he told them, the lady's brothers were very
wroth with her, and having provided themselves with lighted torches, set
out with Arriguccio, and hied them to his house with intent to scorn her,
while their mother followed, weeping and beseeching now one, now another,
not to credit these matters so hastily, until they had seen or heard
somewhat more thereof; for that the husband might have some other reason
to be wroth with her, and having ill-treated her, might have trumped up
this charge by way of exculpation, adding that, if true, 'twas passing
strange, for well she knew her daughter, whom she had brought up from her
tenderest years, and much more to the like effect.

However, being come to Arriguccio's house, they entered, and were
mounting the stairs, when Monna Sismonda, hearing them, called out:--"Who
is there?" Whereto one of the brothers responded:--"Lewd woman, thou
shalt soon have cause enough to know who it is." "Now Lord love us!"
quoth Monna Sismonda, "what would he be at?" Then, rising, she greeted
them with:--"Welcome, my brothers but what seek ye abroad at this hour,
all three of you?" They had seen her sitting and sewing with never a sign
of a blow on her face, whereas Arriguccio had averred that he had
pummelled her all over: wherefore their first impression was one of
wonder, and refraining the vehemence of their wrath, they asked her what
might be the truth of the matter which Arriguccio laid to her charge, and
threatened her with direful consequences, if she should conceal aught.
Whereto the lady:--"What you would have me tell you," quoth she, "or what
Arriguccio may have laid to my charge, that know not I." Arriguccio could
but gaze upon her, as one that had taken leave of his wits, calling to
mind how he had pummelled her about the face times without number, and
scratched it for her, and mishandled her in all manner of ways, and there
he now saw her with no trace of aught of it all upon her. However, to
make a long story short, the lady's brothers told her what Arriguccio had
told them touching the pack-thread and the beating and all the rest of
it. Whereupon the lady turned to him with:--"Alas, my husband, what is
this that I hear? Why givest thou me, to thy own great shame, the
reputation of a lewd woman, when such I am not, and thyself the
reputation of a wicked and cruel man, which thou art not? Wast thou ever
to-night, I say not in my company, but so much as in the house until now?
Or when didst thou beat me? For my part I mind me not of it." Arriguccio
began:--"How sayst thou, lewd woman? Did we not go to bed together? Did I
not come back, after chasing thy lover? Did I not give thee bruises not a
few, and cut thy hair for thee?" But the lady interrupted him,
saying:--"Nay, thou didst not lie here to-night. But leave we this, of
which my true words are my sole witness, and pass we to this of the
beating thou sayst thou gavest me, and how thou didst cut my hair. Never
a beating had I from thee, and I bid all that are here, and thee among
them, look at me, and say if I have any trace of a beating on my person;
nor should I advise thee to dare lay hand upon me; for, by the Holy Rood,
I would spoil thy beauty for thee. Nor didst thou cut my hair, for aught
that I saw or felt: however, thou didst it, perchance, on such wise that
I was not ware thereof: so let me see whether 'tis cut or no." Then,
unveiling herself, she shewed that her hair was uncut and entire.
Wherefore her brothers and mother now turned to Arriguccio with:--"What
means this, Arriguccio? This accords not with what thou gavest us to
understand thou hadst done; nor know we how thou wilt prove the residue."

Arriguccio was lost, as it were, in a dream, and yet he would fain have
spoken; but, seeing that what he had thought to prove was otherwise, he
essayed no reply. So the lady turning to her brothers:--"I see," quoth
she, "what he would have: he will not be satisfied unless I do what I
never would otherwise have done, to wit, give you to know what a pitiful
caitiff he is; as now I shall not fail to do. I make no manner of doubt
that, as he has said, even so it befell, and so he did. How, you shall
hear. This worthy man, to whom, worse luck! you gave me to wife, a
merchant, as he calls himself, and as such would fain have credit, and
who ought to be more temperate than a religious, and more continent than
a girl, lets scarce an evening pass but he goes a boozing in the taverns,
and consorting with this or the other woman of the town; and 'tis for me
to await his return until midnight or sometimes until matins, even as you
now find me. I doubt not that, being thoroughly well drunk, he got him to
bed with one of these wantons, and, awaking, found the pack-thread on her
foot, and afterwards did actually perform all these brave exploits of
which he speaks, and in the end came back to her, and beat her, and cut
her hair off, and being not yet quite recovered from his debauch,
believed, and, I doubt not, still believes, that 'twas I that he thus
treated; and if you will but scan his face closely, you will see that he
is still half drunk. But, whatever he may have said about me, I would
have you account it as nothing more than the disordered speech of a tipsy
man; and forgive him as I do." Whereupon the lady's mother raised no
small outcry, saying:--"By the Holy Rood, my daughter, this may not be! A
daughter, such as thou, to be mated with one so unworthy of thee! The
pestilent, insensate cur should be slain on the spot! A pretty state of
things, indeed! Why, he might have picked thee up from the gutter! Now
foul fall him! but thou shalt no more be vexed with the tedious drivel of
a petty dealer in ass's dung, some blackguard, belike, that came hither
from the country because he was dismissed the service of some petty
squire, clad in romagnole, with belfry-breeches, and a pen in his arse,
and for that he has a few pence, must needs have a gentleman's daughter
and a fine lady to wife, and set up a coat of arms, and say:--'I am of
the such and such,' and 'my ancestors did thus and thus.' Ah! had my sons
but followed my advice! Thy honour were safe in the house of the Counts
Guidi, where they might have bestowed thee, though thou hadst but a
morsel of bread to thy dowry: but they must needs give thee to this rare
treasure, who, though better daughter and more chaste there is none than
thou in Florence, has not blushed this very midnight and in our presence
to call thee a strumpet, as if we knew thee not. God's faith! so I were
hearkened to, he should shrewdly smart for it." Then, turning to her
sons, she said:--"My sons, I told you plainly enough that this ought not
to be. Now, have you heard how your worthy brother-in-law treats your
sister? Petty twopenny trader that he is: were it for me to act, as it is
for you, after what he has said of her and done to her, nought would
satisfy or appease me, till I had rid the earth of him. And were I a man,
who am but a woman, none, other but myself should meddle with the affair.
God's curse upon him, the woeful, shameless sot!" Whereupon the young
men, incensed by what they had seen and heard, turned to Arriguccio, and
after giving him the soundest rating that ever was bestowed upon caitiff,
concluded as follows:--"This once we pardon thee, witting thee to be a
drunken knave--but as thou holdest thy life dear, have a care that
henceforth we hear no such tales of thee; for rest assured that if aught
of the kind do reach our ears, we will requite thee for both turns."
Which said, they departed. Arriguccio, standing there like one dazed, not
witting whether his late doings were actual fact or but a dream, made no
more words about the matter, but left his wife in peace. Thus did she by
her address not only escape imminent peril, but open a way whereby in
time to come she was able to gratify her passion to the full without any
farther fear of her husband.


Lydia, wife of Nicostratus, loves Pyrrhus, who to assure himself thereof,
asks three things of her, all of which she does, and therewithal enjoys
him in presence of Nicostratus, and makes Nicostratus believe that what
he saw was not real.

So diverting did the ladies find Neifile's story that it kept them still
laughing and talking, though the king, having bidden Pamfilo tell his
story, had several times enjoined silence upon them. However, as soon as
they had done, Pamfilo thus began:--Methinks, worshipful ladies, there is
no venture, though fraught with gravest peril, that whoso loves ardently
will not make: of which truth, exemplified though it has been in stories
not a few, I purpose to afford you yet more signal proof in one which I
shall tell you; wherein you will hear of a lady who in her enterprises
owed far more to the favour of Fortune than to the guidance of reason:
wherefore I should not advise any of you rashly to follow in her
footsteps, seeing that Fortune is not always in a kindly mood, nor are
the eyes of all men equally holden.

In Argos, that most ancient city of Achaia, the fame of whose kings of
old time is out of all proportion to its size, there dwelt of yore
Nicostratus, a nobleman, to whom, when he was already verging on old age,
Fortune gave to wife a great lady, Lydia by name, whose courage matched
her charms. Nicostratus, as suited with his rank and wealth, kept not a
few retainers and hounds and hawks, and was mightily addicted to the
chase. Among his dependants was a young man named Pyrrhus, a gallant of
no mean accomplishment, and goodly of person and beloved and trusted by
Nicostratus above all other. Of whom Lydia grew mighty enamoured,
insomuch that neither by day nor by night might her thoughts stray from
him: but, whether it was that Pyrrhus wist not her love, or would have
none of it, he gave no sign of recognition; whereby the lady's suffering
waxing more than she could bear, she made up her mind to declare her love
to him; and having a chambermaid, Lusca by name, in whom she placed great
trust, she called her, and said:--"Lusca, tokens thou hast had from me of
my regard that should ensure thy obedience and loyalty; wherefore have a
care that what I shall now tell thee reach the ears of none but him to
whom I shall bid thee impart it. Thou seest, Lusca, that I am in the
prime of my youth and lustihead, and have neither lack nor stint of all
such things as folk desire, save only, to be brief, that I have one cause
to repine, to wit, that my husband's years so far outnumber my own.
Wherefore with that wherein young ladies take most pleasure I am but ill
provided, and, as my desire is no less than theirs, 'tis now some while
since I determined that, if Fortune has shewn herself so little friendly
to me by giving me a husband so advanced in years, at least I will not be
mine own enemy by sparing to devise the means whereby my happiness and
health may be assured; and that herein, as in all other matters, my joy
may be complete, I have chosen, thereto to minister by his embraces, our
Pyrrhus, deeming him more worthy than any other man, and have so set my
heart upon him that I am ever ill at ease save when he is present either
to my sight or to my mind, insomuch that, unless I forgather with him
without delay, I doubt not that 'twill be the death of me. And so, if
thou holdest my life dear, thou wilt shew him my love on such wise as
thou mayst deem best, and make my suit to him that he be pleased to come
to me, when thou shalt go to fetch him." "That gladly will I," replied
the chambermaid; and as soon as she found convenient time and place, she
drew Pyrrhus apart, and, as best she knew how, conveyed her lady's
message to him. Which Pyrrhus found passing strange to hear, for 'twas in
truth a complete surprise to him, and he doubted the lady did but mean to
try him. Wherefore he presently, and with some asperity, answered
thus:--"Lusca, believe I cannot that this message comes from my lady:
have a care, therefore, what thou sayst, and if, perchance, it does come
from her, I doubt she does not mean it; and if perchance, she does mean
it, why, then I am honoured by my lord above what I deserve, and I would
not for my life do him such a wrong: so have a care never to speak of
such matters to me again." Lusca, nowise disconcerted by his uncompliant
tone, rejoined:--"I shall speak to thee, Pyrrhus, of these and all other
matters, wherewith I may be commissioned by my lady, as often as she
shall bid me, whether it pleases or irks thee; but thou art a blockhead."

So, somewhat chafed, Lusca bore Pyrrhus' answer back to her lady, who
would fain have died, when she heard it, and some days afterwards resumed
the topic, saying:--"Thou knowest, Lusca, that 'tis not the first stroke
that fells the oak; wherefore, methinks, thou wert best go back to this
strange man, who is minded to evince his loyalty at my expense, and
choosing a convenient time, declare to him all my passion, and do thy
best endeavour that the affair be carried through; for if it should thus
lapse, 'twould be the death of me; besides which, he would think we had
but trifled with him, and, whereas 'tis his love we would have, we should
earn his hatred." So, after comforting the lady, the maid hied her in
quest of Pyrrhus, whom she found in a gladsome and propitious mood, and
thus addressed:--"'Tis not many days, Pyrrhus, since I declared to thee
how ardent is the flame with which thy lady and mine is consumed for love
of thee, and now again I do thee to wit thereof, and that, if thou shalt
not relent of the harshness that thou didst manifest the other day, thou
mayst rest assured that her life will be short: wherefore I pray thee to
be pleased to give her solace of her desire, and shouldst thou persist in
thy obduracy, I, that gave thee credit for not a little sense, shall deem
thee a great fool. How flattered thou shouldst be to know thyself beloved
above all else by a lady so beauteous and high-born! And how indebted
shouldst thou feel thyself to Fortune, seeing that she has in store for
thee a boon so great and so suited to the cravings of thy youth, ay, and
so like to be of service to thee upon occasion of need! Bethink thee, if
there be any of thine equals whose life is ordered more agreeably than
thine will be if thou but be wise. Which of them wilt thou find so well
furnished with arms and horses, clothes and money as thou shalt be, if
thou but give my lady thy love? Receive, then, my words with open mind;
be thyself again; bethink thee that 'tis Fortune's way to confront a man
but once with smiling mien and open lap, and, if he then accept not her
bounty, he has but himself to blame, if afterward he find himself in
want, in beggary. Besides which, no such loyalty is demanded between
servants and their masters as between friends and kinsfolk; rather 'tis
for servants, so far as they may, to behave towards their masters as
their masters behave towards them. Thinkest thou, that, if thou hadst a
fair wife or mother or daughter or sister that found favour in
Nicostratus' eyes, he would be so scrupulous on the point of loyalty as
thou art disposed to be in regard of his lady? Thou art a fool, if so
thou dost believe. Hold it for certain, that, if blandishments and
supplications did not suffice, he would, whatever thou mightest think of
it, have recourse to force. Observe we, then, towards them and theirs the
same rule which they observe towards us and ours. Take the boon that
Fortune offers thee; repulse her not; rather go thou to meet her, and
hail her advance; for be sure that, if thou do not so, to say nought of
thy lady's death, which will certainly ensue, thou thyself wilt repent
thee thereof so often that thou wilt be fain of death."

Since he had last seen Lusca, Pyrrhus had repeatedly pondered what she
had said to him, and had made his mind up that, should she come again, he
would answer her in another sort, and comply in all respects with the
lady's desires, provided he might be assured that she was not merely
putting him to the proof; wherefore he now made answer:--"Lo, now, Lusca,
I acknowledge the truth of all that thou sayst; but, on the other hand, I
know that my lord is not a little wise and wary, and, as he has committed
all his affairs to my charge, I sorely misdoubt me that 'tis with his
approbation, and by his advice, and but to prove me, that Lydia does
this: wherefore let her do three things which I shall demand of her for
my assurance, and then there is nought that she shall crave of me, but I
will certainly render her prompt obedience. Which three things are
these:--first, let her in Nicostratus' presence kill his fine
sparrow-hawk: then she must send me a lock of Nicostratus' beard, and
lastly one of his best teeth." Hard seemed these terms to Lusca, and hard
beyond measure to the lady, but Love, that great fautor of enterprise,
and master of stratagem, gave her resolution to address herself to their
performance: wherefore through the chambermaid she sent him word that
what he required of her she would do, and that without either reservation
or delay; and therewithal she told him, that, as he deemed Nicostratus so
wise, she would contrive that they should enjoy one another in
Nicostratus' presence, and that Nicostratus should believe that 'twas a
mere show. Pyrrhus, therefore, anxiously expected what the lady would do.
Some days thus passed, and then Nicostratus gave a great breakfast, as
was his frequent wont, to certain gentlemen, and when the tables were
removed, the lady, robed in green samite, and richly adorned, came forth
of her chamber into the hall wherein they sate, and before the eyes of
Pyrrhus and all the rest of the company hied her to the perch, on which
stood the sparrow-hawk that Nicostratus so much prized, and loosed him,
and, as if she were minded to carry him on her hand, took him by the
jesses and dashed him against the wall so that he died.
Whereupon:--"Alas! my lady, what hast thou done?" exclaimed Nicostratus:
but she vouchsafed no answer, save that, turning to the gentlemen that
had sate at meat with him, she said:--"My lords, ill fitted were I to
take vengeance on a king that had done me despite, if I lacked the
courage to be avenged on a sparrow-hawk. You are to know that by this
bird I have long been cheated of all the time that ought to be devoted by
gentlemen to pleasuring their ladies; for with the first streaks of dawn
Nicostratus has been up and got him to horse, and hawk on hand hied him
to the champaign to see him fly, leaving me, such as you see me, alone
and ill content abed. For which cause I have oftentimes been minded to do
that which I have now done, and have only refrained therefrom, that,
biding my time, I might do it in the presence of men that should judge my
cause justly, as I trust you will do." Which hearing, the gentlemen, who
deemed her affections no less fixed on Nicostratus than her words
imported, broke with one accord into a laugh, and turning to Nicostratus,
who was sore displeased, fell a saying:--"Now well done of the lady to
avenge her wrongs by the death of the sparrow-hawk!" and so, the lady
being withdrawn to her chamber, they passed the affair off with divers
pleasantries, turning the wrath of Nicostratus to laughter.

Pyrrhus, who had witnessed what had passed, said to himself:--Nobly
indeed has my lady begun, and on such wise as promises well for the
felicity of my love. God grant that she so continue. And even so Lydia
did: for not many days after she had killed the sparrow-hawk, she, being
with Nicostratus in her chamber, from caressing passed to toying and
trifling with him, and he, sportively pulling her by the hair, gave her
occasion to fulfil the second of Pyrrhus' demands; which she did by
nimbly laying hold of one of the lesser tufts of his beard, and, laughing
the while, plucking it so hard that she tore it out of his chin. Which
Nicostratus somewhat resenting:--"Now what cause hast thou," quoth she,
"to make such a wry face? 'Tis but that I have plucked some half-dozen
hairs from thy beard. Thou didst not feel it as much as did I but now thy
tugging of my hair." And so they continued jesting and sporting with one
another, the lady jealously guarding the tuft that she had torn from the
beard, which the very same day she sent to her cherished lover. The third
demand caused the lady more thought; but, being amply endowed with wit,
and powerfully, seconded by Love, she failed not to hit upon an apt

Nicostratus had in his service two lads, who, being of gentle birth, had
been placed with him by their kinsfolk, that they might learn manners,
one of whom, when Nicostratus sate at meat, carved before him, while the
other gave him to drink. Both lads Lydia called to her, and gave them to
understand that their breath smelt, and admonished them that, when they
waited on Nicostratus, they should hold their heads as far back as
possible, saying never a word of the matter to any. The lads believing
her, did as she bade them. Whereupon she took occasion to say to
Nicostratus:--"Hast thou marked what these lads do when they wait upon
thee?" "Troth, that have I," replied Nicostratus; "indeed I have often
had it in mind to ask them why they do so." "Nay," rejoined the lady,
"spare thyself the pains; for I can tell thee the reason, which I have
for some time kept close, lest it should vex thee; but as I now see that
others begin to be ware of it, it need no longer be withheld from thee.
'Tis for that thy breath stinks shrewdly that they thus avert their heads
from thee: 'twas not wont to be so, nor know I why it should be so; and
'tis most offensive when thou art in converse with gentlemen; and
therefore 'twould be well to find some way of curing it." "I wonder what
it could be," returned Nicostratus; "is it perchance that I have a
decayed tooth in my jaw?" "That may well be," quoth Lydia: and taking him
to a window, she caused him open his mouth, and after regarding it on
this side and that:--"Oh! Nicostratus," quoth she, "how couldst thou have
endured it so long? Thou hast a tooth here, which, by what I see, is not
only decayed, but actually rotten throughout; and beyond all manner of
doubt, if thou let it remain long in thy head, 'twill infect its
neighbours; so 'tis my advice that thou out with it before the matter
grows worse." "My judgment jumps with thine," quoth Nicostratus;
"wherefore send without delay for a chirurgeon to draw it." "God forbid,"
returned the lady, "that chirurgeon come hither for such a purpose;
methinks, the case is such that I can very well dispense with him, and
draw the tooth myself. Besides which, these chirurgeons do these things
in such a cruel way, that I could never endure to see thee or know thee
under the hands of any of them: wherefore my mind is quite made up to do
it myself, that, at least, if thou shalt suffer too much, I may give it
over at once, as a chirurgeon would not do." And so she caused the
instruments that are used on such occasions to be brought her, and having
dismissed all other attendants save Lusca from the chamber, and locked
the door, made Nicostratus lie down on a table, set the pincers in his
mouth, and clapped them on one of his teeth, which, while Lusca held him,
so that, albeit he roared for pain, he might not move, she wrenched by
main force from his jaw, and keeping it close, took from Lusca's hand
another and horribly decayed tooth, which she shewed him, suffering and
half dead as he was, saying:--"See what thou hadst in thy jaw; mark how
far gone it is." Believing what she said, and deeming that, now the tooth
was out, his breath would no more be offensive, and being somewhat eased
of the pain, which had been extreme, and still remained, so that he
murmured not little, by divers comforting applications, he quitted the
chamber: whereupon the lady forthwith sent the tooth to her lover, who,
having now full assurance of her love, placed himself entirely at her
service. But the lady being minded to make his assurance yet more sure,
and deeming each hour a thousand till she might be with him, now saw fit,
for the more ready performance of the promise she had given him, to feign
sickness; and Nicostratus, coming to see her one day after breakfast,
attended only by Pyrrhus, she besought him for her better solacement, to
help her down to the garden. Wherefore Nicostratus on one side, and
Pyrrhus on the other, took her and bore her down to the garden, and set
her on a lawn at the foot of a beautiful pear-tree: and after they had
sate there a while, the lady, who had already given Pyrrhus to understand
what he must do, said to him:--"Pyrrhus, I should greatly like to have
some of those pears; get thee up the tree, and shake some of them down."
Pyrrhus climbed the tree in a trice, and began to shake down the pears,
and while he did so:--"Fie! Sir," quoth he, "what is this you do? And
you, Madam, have you no shame, that you suffer him to do so in my
presence? Think you that I am blind? 'Twas but now that you were gravely
indisposed. Your cure has been speedy indeed to permit of your so
behaving: and as for such a purpose you have so many goodly chambers, why
betake you not yourselves to one of them, if you must needs so disport
yourselves? 'Twould be much more decent than to do so in my presence."
Whereupon the lady, turning to her husband:--"Now what can Pyrrhus mean?"
said she. "Is he mad?" "Nay, Madam," quoth Pyrrhus; "mad am not I. Think
you I see you not?" Whereat Nicostratus marvelled not a little;
and:--"Pyrrhus," quoth he, "I verily believe thou dreamest." "Nay, my
lord," replied Pyrrhus, "not a whit do I dream; neither do you; rather
you wag it with such vigour, that, if this pear-tree did the like, there
would be never a pear left on it." Then the lady:--"What can this mean?"
quoth she: "can it be that it really seems to him to be as he says? Upon
my hope of salvation, were I but in my former health, I would get me up
there to judge for myself what these wonders are which he professes to
see." Whereupon, as Pyrrhus in the pear-tree continued talking in the
same strange strain:--"Come down," quoth Nicostratus; and when he was
down:--"Now what," said Nicostratus, "is it thou sayst thou seest up
there?" "I suppose," replied Pyrrhus, "that you take me to be deluded or
dreaming: but as I must needs tell you the truth, I saw you lying upon
your wife, and then, when I came down, I saw you get up and sit you down
here where you now are." "Therein," said Nicostratus, "thou wast
certainly deluded, for, since thou clombest the pear-tree, we have not
budged a jot, save as thou seest." Then said Pyrrhus:--"Why make more
words about the matter? See you I certainly did; and, seeing you, I saw
you lying upon your own." Nicostratus' wonder now waxed momently,
insomuch that he said:--"I am minded to see if this pear-tree be
enchanted, so that whoso is in it sees marvels;" and so he got him up
into it. Whereupon the lady and Pyrrhus fell to disporting them, and
Nicostratus, seeing what they were about, exclaimed:--"Ah! lewd woman,
what is this thou doest? And thou, Pyrrhus, in whom I so much trusted!"
And so saying, he began to climb down. Meanwhile the lady and Pyrrhus had
made answer:--"We are sitting here:" and seeing him descending, they
placed themselves as they had been when he had left them, whom
Nicostratus, being come down, no sooner saw, than he fell a rating them.
Then quoth Pyrrhus:--"Verily, Nicostratus, I now acknowledge, that, as
you said a while ago, what I saw when I was in the pear-tree was but a
false show, albeit I had never understood that so it was but that I now
see and know that thou hast also seen a false show. And that I speak
truth, you may sufficiently assure yourself, if you but reflect whether
'tis likely that your wife, who for virtue and discretion has not her
peer among women, would, if she were minded so to dishonour you, see fit
to do so before your very eyes. Of myself I say nought, albeit I had
liefer be hewn in pieces than that I should so much as think of such a
thing, much less do it in your presence. Wherefore 'tis evident that 'tis
some illusion of sight that is propagated from the pear-tree; for nought
in the world would have made me believe that I saw not you lying there in
carnal intercourse with your wife, had I not heard you say that you saw
me doing that which most assuredly, so far from doing, I never so much as
thought of." The lady then started up with a most resentful mien, and
burst out with:--"Foul fall thee, if thou knowest so little of me as to
suppose that, if I were minded to do thee such foul dishonour as thou
sayst thou didst see me do, I would come hither to do it before thine
eyes! Rest assured that for such a purpose, were it ever mine, I should
deem one of our chambers more meet, and it should go hard but I would so
order the matter that thou shouldst never know aught of it." Nicostratus,
having heard both, and deeming that what they both averred must be true,
to wit, that they would never have ventured upon such an act in his
presence, passed from chiding to talk of the singularity of the thing,
and how marvellous it was that the vision should reshape itself for every
one that clomb the tree. The lady, however, made a show of being
distressed that Nicostratus should so have thought of her,
and:--"Verily," quoth she, "no woman, neither I nor another, shall again
suffer loss of honour by this pear-tree: run, Pyrrhus, and bring hither
an axe, and at one and the same time vindicate thy honour and mine by
felling it, albeit 'twere better far Nicostratus' skull should feel the
weight of the axe, seeing that in utter heedlessness he so readily
suffered the eyes of his mind to be blinded; for, albeit this vision was
seen by the bodily eye, yet ought the understanding by no means to have
entertained and affirmed it as real."

So Pyrrhus presently hied him to fetch the axe, and returning therewith
felled the pear; whereupon the lady, turning towards Nicostratus:--"Now
that this foe of my honour is fallen," quoth she, "my wrath is gone from
me." Nicostratus then craving her pardon, she graciously granted it him,
bidding him never again to suffer himself to be betrayed into thinking
such a thing of her, who loved him more dearly than herself. So the poor
duped husband went back with her and her lover to the palace, where not
seldom in time to come Pyrrhus and Lydia took their pastime together more
at ease. God grant us the like.


Two Sienese love a lady, one of them being her gossip: the gossip dies,
having promised his comrade to return to him from the other world; which
he does, and tells him what sort of life is led there.

None now was left to tell, save the king, who, as soon as the ladies had
ceased mourning over the fall of the pear-tree, that had done no wrong,
and were silent, began thus:--Most manifest it is that 'tis the prime
duty of a just king to observe the laws that he has made; and, if he do
not so, he is to be esteemed no king, but a slave that has merited
punishment, into which fault, and under which condemnation, I, your king,
must, as of necessity, fall. For, indeed, when yesterday I made the law
which governs our discourse of to-day, I thought not to-day to avail
myself of my privilege, but to submit to the law, no less than you, and
to discourse of the same topic whereof you all have discoursed; but not
only has the very story been told which I had intended to tell, but
therewithal so many things else, and so very much goodlier have been
said, that, search my memory as I may, I cannot mind me of aught, nor wot
I that touching such a matter there is indeed aught, for me to say, that
would be comparable with what has been said; wherefore, as infringe I
must the law that I myself have made, I confess myself worthy of
punishment, and instantly declaring my readiness to pay any forfeit that
may be demanded of me, am minded to have recourse to my wonted privilege.
And such, dearest ladies, is the potency of Elisa's story of the
godfather and his gossip, and therewith of the simplicity of the Sienese,
that I am prompted thereby to pass from this topic of the beguilement of
foolish husbands by their cunning wives to a little story touching these
same Sienese, which, albeit there is not a little therein which you were
best not to believe, may yet be in some degree entertaining to hear.

Know, then, that at Siena there dwelt in Porta Salaia two young men of
the people, named, the one, Tingoccio Mini, the other Meuccio di Tura,
who, by what appeared, loved one another not a little, for they were
scarce ever out of one another's company; and being wont, like other
folk, to go to church and listen to sermons, they heard from time to time
of the glory and the woe, which in the other world are allotted,
according to merit, to the souls of the dead. Of which matters craving,
but being unable to come by, more certain assurance, they agreed together
that, whichever of them should die first, should, if he might, return to
the survivor, and certify him of that which he would fain know; and this
agreement they confirmed with an oath. Now, after they had made this
engagement, and while they were still constantly together, Tingoccio
chanced to become sponsor to one Ambruogio Anselmini, that dwelt in Campo
Reggi, who had had a son by his wife, Monna Mita. The lady was exceeding
fair, and amorous withal, and Tingoccio being wont sometimes to visit her
as his gossip, and to take Meuccio with him, he, notwithstanding his
sponsorship, grew enamoured of her, as did also Meuccio, for she pleased
him not a little, and he heard her much commended by Tingoccio. Which
love each concealed from the other; but not for the same reason.
Tingoccio was averse to discover it to Meuccio, for that he deemed it an
ignominious thing to love his gossip, and was ashamed to let any one know
it. Meuccio was on his guard for a very different reason, to wit, that he
was already ware that the lady was in Tingoccio's good graces. Wherefore
he said to himself:--If I avow my love to him, he will be jealous of me,
and as, being her gossip, he can speak with her as often as he pleases,
he will do all he can to make her hate me, and so I shall never have any
favour of her.

Now, the two young men being thus, as I have said, on terms of most
familiar friendship, it befell that Tingoccio, being the better able to
open his heart to the lady, did so order his demeanour and discourse that
he had from her all that he desired. Nor was his friend's success hidden
from Meuccio; though, much as it vexed him, yet still cherishing the hope
of eventually attaining his end, and fearing to give Tingoccio occasion
to baulk or hamper him in some way, he feigned to know nought of the
matter. So Tingoccio, more fortunate than his comrade, and rival in love,
did with such assiduity till his gossip's good land that he got thereby a
malady, which in the course of some days waxed so grievous that he
succumbed thereto, and departed this life. And on the night of the third
day after his decease (perchance because earlier he might not) he made
his appearance, according to his promise, in Meuccio's chamber, and
called Meuccio, who was fast asleep, by his name. Whereupon:--"Who art
thou?" quoth Meuccio, as he awoke. "'Tis I, Tingoccio," replied he, "come
back, in fulfilment of the pledge I gave thee, to give thee tidings of
the other world." For a while Meuccio saw him not without terror: then,
his courage reviving:--"Welcome, my brother," quoth he: and proceeded to
ask him if he were lost. "Nought is lost but what is irrecoverable,"
replied Tingoccio: "how then should I be here, if I were lost?" "Nay,"
quoth then Meuccio; "I mean it not so: I would know of thee, whether thou
art of the number of the souls that are condemned to the penal fire of
hell." "Why no," returned Tingoccio, "not just that; but still for the
sins that I did I am in most sore and grievous torment." Meuccio then
questioned Tingoccio in detail of the pains there meted out for each of
the sins done here; and Tingoccio enumerated them all. Whereupon Meuccio
asked if there were aught he might do for him here on earth. Tingoccio
answered in the affirmative; to wit, that he might have masses and
prayers said and alms-deeds done for him, for that such things were of
great service to the souls there. "That gladly will I," replied Meuccio;
and then, as Tingoccio was about to take his leave, he bethought him of
the gossip, and raising his head a little, he said:--"I mind me,
Tingoccio, of the gossip, with whom thou wast wont to lie when thou wast
here. Now what is thy punishment for that?" "My brother," returned
Tingoccio, "as soon as I got down there, I met one that seemed to know
all my sins by heart, who bade me betake me to a place, where, while in
direst torment I bewept my sins, I found comrades not a few condemned to
the same pains; and so, standing there among them, and calling to mind
what I had done with the gossip, and foreboding in requital thereof a
much greater torment than had yet been allotted me, albeit I was in a
great and most vehement flame, I quaked for fear in every part of me.
Which one that was beside me observing:--'What,' quoth he, 'hast thou
done more than the rest of us that are here, that thou quakest thus as
thou standest in the fire?' 'My friend,' quoth I, 'I am in mortal fear of
the doom that I expect for a great sin that I once committed.' He then
asked what sin it might be. ''Twas on this wise,' replied I: 'I lay with
my gossip, and that so much that I died thereof.' Whereat, he did but
laugh, saying:--'Go to, fool, make thy mind easy; for here there is no
account taken of gossips.' Which completely revived my drooping spirits."

'Twas now near daybreak: wherefore:--"Adieu! Meuccio," quoth his friend:
"for longer tarry with thee I may not;" and so he vanished. As for
Meuccio, having learned that no account was taken of gossips in the other
world, he began to laugh at his own folly in that he had already spared
divers such; and so, being quit of his ignorance, he in that respect in
course of time waxed wise. Which matters had Fra Rinaldo but known, he
would not have needed to go about syllogizing in order to bring his fair
gossip to pleasure him.

The sun was westering, and a light breeze blew, when the king, his story
ended, and none else being left to speak, arose, and taking off the
crown, set it on Lauretta's head, saying:--"Madam, I crown you with
yourself(1) queen of our company: 'tis now for you, as our sovereign
lady, to make such ordinances as you shall deem meet for our common
solace and delectation;" and having so said, he sat him down again. Queen
Lauretta sent for the seneschal, and bade him have a care that the tables
should be set in the pleasant vale somewhat earlier than had been their
wont, that their return to the palace might be more leisurely; after
which she gave him to know what else he had to do during her sovereignty.
Then turning to the company:--"Yesterday," quoth she, "Dioneo would have
it that to-day we should discourse of the tricks that wives play their
husbands; and but that I am minded not to shew as of the breed of yelping
curs, that are ever prompt to retaliate, I would ordain that to-morrow we
discourse of the tricks that husbands play their wives. However, in lieu
thereof, I will have every one take thought to tell of those tricks that,
daily, woman plays man, or man woman, or one man another; wherein, I
doubt not, there will be matter of discourse no less agreeable than has
been that of to-day." So saying, she rose and dismissed the company until
supper-time. So the ladies and the men being risen, some bared their feet
and betook them to the clear water, there to disport them, while others
took their pleasure upon the green lawn amid the trees that there grew
goodly and straight. For no brief while Dioneo and Fiammetta sang in
concert of Arcite and Palamon. And so, each and all taking their several
pastimes, they sped the hours with exceeding great delight until
supper-time. Which being come, they sat them down at table beside the
little lake, and there, while a thousand songsters charmed their ears,
and a gentle breeze, that blew from the environing hills, fanned them,
and never a fly annoyed them, reposefully and joyously they supped. The
tables removed, they roved a while about the pleasant vale, and then, the
sun being still high, for 'twas but half vespers, the queen gave the
word, and they wended their way back to their wonted abode, and going
slowly, and beguiling the way with quips and quirks without number upon
divers matters, nor those alone of which they had that day discoursed,
they arrived, hard upon nightfall, at the goodly palace. There, the short
walk's fatigue dispelled by wines most cool and comfits, they presently
gathered for the dance about the fair fountain, and now they footed it to
the strains of Tindaro's cornemuse, and now to other music. Which done,
the queen bade Filomena give them a song; and thus Filomena sang:--

Ah! woe is me, my soul!
Ah! shall I ever thither fare again
Whence I was parted to my grievous dole?

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