Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Decameron, Vol. II. by Giovanni Boccaccio

Part 4 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Full sure I know not; but within my breast
Throbs ever the same fire
Of yearning there where erst I was to be.
O thou in whom is all my weal, my rest,
Lord of my heart's desire,
Ah! tell me thou! for none to ask save thee
Neither dare I, nor see.
Ah! dear my Lord, this wasted heart disdain
Thou wilt not, but with hope at length console.

Kindled the flame I know not what delight,
Which me doth so devour,
That day and night alike I find no ease;
For whether it was by hearing, touch, or sight,
Unwonted was the power,
And fresh the fire that me each way did seize;
Wherein without release
I languish still, and of thee, Lord, am fain,
For thou alone canst comfort and make whole.

Ah! tell me if it shall be, and how soon,
That I again thee meet
Where those death-dealing eyes I kissed. Thou, chief
Weal of my soul, my very soul, this boon
Deny not; say that fleet
Thou hiest hither: comfort thus my grief.
Ah! let the time be brief
Till thou art here, and then long time remain;
For I, Love-stricken, crave but Love's control.

Let me but once again mine own thee call,
No more so indiscreet
As erst, I'll be, to let thee from me part:
Nay, I'll still hold thee, let what may befall,
And of thy mouth so sweet
Such solace take as may content my heart
So this be all my art,
Thee to entice, me with thine arms to enchain:
Whereon but musing inly chants my soul.

This song set all the company conjecturing what new and delightsome love
might now hold Filomena in its sway; and as its words imported that she
had had more joyance thereof than sight alone might yield, some that were
there grew envious of her excess of happiness. However, the song being
ended, the queen, bethinking her that the morrow was Friday, thus
graciously addressed them all:--"Ye wot, noble ladies, and ye also, my
gallants, that to-morrow is the day that is sacred to the passion of our
Lord, which, if ye remember, we kept devoutly when Neifile was queen,
intermitting delectable discourse, as we did also on the ensuing
Saturday. Wherefore, being minded to follow Neifile's excellent example,
I deem that now, as then, 'twere a seemly thing to surcease from this our
pastime of story-telling for those two days, and compose our minds to
meditation on what was at that season accomplished for the weal of our
souls." All the company having approved their queen's devout speech, she,
as the night was now far spent, dismissed them; and so they all betook
them to slumber.

(1) A play upon laurea (laurel wreath) and Lauretta.

Endeth here the seventh day of the Decameron, beginneth the eighth, in
which, under the rule of Lauretta, discourse is had of those tricks that,
daily, woman plays man, or man woman, or one man another.

The summits of the loftiest mountains were already illumined by the rays
of the rising sun, the shades of night were fled, and all things plainly
visible, when the queen and her company arose, and hied them first to the
dewy mead, where for a while they walked: then, about half tierce, they
wended their way to a little church that was hard by, where they heard
Divine service; after which, they returned to the palace, and having
breakfasted with gay and gladsome cheer, and sung and danced a while,
were dismissed by the queen, to rest them as to each might seem good. But
when the sun was past the meridian, the queen mustered them again for
their wonted pastime; and, all being seated by the fair fountain, thus,
at her command, Neifile began.


Gulfardo borrows moneys of Guasparruolo, which he has agreed to give
Guasparruolo's wife, that he may lie with her. He gives them to her, and
in her presence tells Guasparruolo that he has done so, and she
acknowledges that 'tis true.

Sith God has ordained that 'tis for me to take the lead to-day with my
story, well pleased am I. And for that, loving ladies, much has been said
touching the tricks that women play men, I am minded to tell you of one
that a man played a woman, not because I would censure what the man did,
or say that 'twas not merited by the woman, but rather to commend the man
and censure the woman, and to shew that men may beguile those that think
to beguile them, as well as be beguiled by those they think to beguile;
for peradventure what I am about to relate should in strictness of speech
not be termed beguilement, but rather retaliation; for, as it behoves
woman to be most strictly virtuous, and to guard her chastity as her very
life, nor on any account to allow herself to sully it, which
notwithstanding, 'tis not possible by reason of our frailty that there
should be as perfect an observance of this law as were meet, I affirm,
that she that allows herself to infringe it for money merits the fire;
whereas she that so offends under the prepotent stress of Love will
receive pardon from any judge that knows how to temper justice with
mercy: witness what but the other day we heard from Filostrato touching
Madonna Filippa at Prato.(1)

Know, then, that there was once at Milan a German mercenary, Gulfardo by
name, a doughty man, and very loyal to those with whom he took service; a
quality most uncommon in Germans. And as he was wont to be most faithful
in repaying whatever moneys he borrowed, he would have had no difficulty
in finding a merchant to advance him any amount of money at a low rate of
interest. Now, tarrying thus at Milan, Gulfardo fixed his affection on a
very fine woman, named Madonna Ambruogia, the wife of a wealthy merchant,
one Guasparruolo Cagastraccio, with whom he was well acquainted and on
friendly terms: which amour he managed with such discretion that neither
the husband nor any one else wist aught of it. So one day he sent her a
message, beseeching her of her courtesy to gratify his passion, and
assuring her that he on his part was ready to obey her every behest.

The lady made a great many words about the affair, the upshot of which
was that she would do as Gulfardo desired upon the following terms: to
wit, that, in the first place, he should never discover the matter to a
soul, and, secondly, that, as for some purpose or another she required
two hundred florins of gold, he out of his abundance should supply her
necessity; these conditions being satisfied she would be ever at his
service. Offended by such base sordidness in one whom he had supposed to
be an honourable woman, Gulfardo passed from ardent love to something
very like hatred, and cast about how he might flout her. So he sent her
word that he would right gladly pleasure her in this and in any other
matter that might be in his power; let her but say when he was to come to
see her, and he would bring the moneys with him, and none should know of
the matter except a comrade of his, in whom he placed much trust, and who
was privy to all that he did. The lady, if she should not rather be
called the punk, gleefully made answer that in the course of a few days
her husband, Guasparruolo, was to go to Genoa on business, and that, when
he was gone, she would let Gulfardo know, and appoint a time for him to
visit her. Gulfardo thereupon chose a convenient time, and hied him to
Guasparruolo, to whom:--"I am come," quoth he, "about a little matter of
business which I have on hand, for which I require two hundred florins of
gold, and I should be glad if thou wouldst lend them me at the rate of
interest which thou art wont to charge me." "That gladly will I," replied
Guasparruolo, and told out the money at once. A few days later
Guasparruolo being gone to Genoa, as the lady had said, she sent word to
Gulfardo that he should bring her the two hundred florins of gold. So
Gulfardo hied him with his comrade to the lady's house, where he found
her expecting him, and lost no time in handing her the two hundred
florins of gold in his comrade's presence, saying:--"You will keep the
money, Madam, and give it to your husband when he returns." Witting not
why Gulfardo so said, but thinking that 'twas but to conceal from his
comrade that it was given by way of price, the lady made answer:--"That
will I gladly; but I must first see whether the amount is right;"
whereupon she told the florins out upon a table, and when she found that
the two hundred were there, she put them away in high glee, and turning
to Gulfardo, took him into her chamber, where, not on that night only but
on many another night, while her husband was away, he had of her all that
he craved. On Guasparruolo's return Gulfardo presently paid him a visit,
having first made sure that the lady would be with him, and so in her
presence:--"Guasparruolo," quoth he, "I had after all no occasion for the
money, to wit, the two hundred florins of gold that thou didst lend me
the other day, being unable to carry through the transaction for which I
borrowed them, and so I took an early opportunity of bringing them to thy
wife, and gave them to her: thou wilt therefore cancel the account."
Whereupon Guasparruolo turned to the lady, and asked her if she had had
them. She, not daring to deny the fact in presence of the witness,
answered:--"Why, yes, I had them, and quite forgot to tell thee." "Good,"
quoth then Guasparruolo, "we are quits, Gulfardo; make thy mind easy; I
will see that thy account is set right." Gulfardo then withdrew, leaving
the flouted lady to hand over her ill-gotten gains to her husband; and so
the astute lover had his pleasure of his greedy mistress for nothing.

(1) Cf. Sixth Day, Novel VII.


The priest of Varlungo lies with Monna Belcolore: he leaves with her his
cloak by way of pledge, and receives from her a mortar. He returns the
mortar, and demands of her the cloak that he had left in pledge, which
the good lady returns him with a gibe.

Ladies and men alike commended Gulfardo for the check that he gave to the
greed of the Milanese lady; but before they had done, the queen turned to
Pamfilo, and with a smile bade him follow suit: wherefore thus Pamfilo
began:--Fair my ladies, it occurs to me to tell you a short story, which
reflects no credit on those by whom we are continually wronged without
being able to retaliate, to wit, the priests, who have instituted a
crusade against our wives, and deem that, when they have made conquest of
one of them, they have done a work every whit as worthy of recompense by
remission of sin and punishment as if they had brought the Soldan in
chains to Avignon: in which respect 'tis not possible for the hapless
laity to be even with them: howbeit they are as hot to make reprisals on
the priests' mothers, sisters, mistresses, and daughters as the priests
to attack their wives. Wherefore I am minded to give you, as I may do in
few words, the history of a rustic amour, the conclusion whereof was not
a little laughable, nor barren of moral, for you may also gather
therefrom, that 'tis not always well to believe everything that a priest

I say then, that at Varlungo, a village hard by here, as all of you, my
ladies, should wot either of your own knowledge or by report, there dwelt
a worthy priest, and doughty of body in the service of the ladies: who,
albeit he was none too quick at his book, had no lack of precious and
blessed solecisms to edify his flock withal of a Sunday under the elm.
And when the men were out of doors, he would visit their wives as never a
priest had done before him, bringing them feast-day gowns and holy water,
and now and again a bit of candle, and giving them his blessing. Now it
so befell that among those of his fair parishioners whom he most affected
the first place was at length taken by one Monna Belcolore, the wife of a
husbandman that called himself Bentivegna del Mazzo. And in good sooth
she was a winsome and lusty country lass, brown as a berry and buxom
enough, and fitter than e'er another for his mill. Moreover she had not
her match in playing the tabret and singing:--The borage is full
sappy,(1) and in leading a brawl or a breakdown, no matter who might be
next her, with a fair and dainty kerchief in her hand. Which spells so
wrought upon Master Priest, that for love of her he grew distracted, and
did nought all day long but loiter about the village on the chance of
catching sight of her. And if of a Sunday morning he espied her in
church, he strove might and main to acquit himself of his Kyrie and
Sanctus in the style of a great singer, albeit his performance was liker
to the braying of an ass: whereas, if he saw her not, he scarce exerted
himself at all. However, he managed with such discretion that neither
Bentivegna del Mazzo nor any of the neighbours wist aught of his love.
And hoping thereby to ingratiate himself with Monna Belcolore, he from
time to time would send her presents, now a clove of fresh garlic, the
best in all the country-side, from his own garden, which he tilled with
his own hands, and anon a basket of beans or a bunch of chives or
shallots; and, when he thought it might serve his turn, he would give her
a sly glance, and follow it up with a little amorous mocking and mowing,
which she, with rustic awkwardness, feigned not to understand, and ever
maintained her reserve, so that Master Priest made no headway.

Now it so befell that one day, when the priest at high noon was aimlessly
gadding about the village, he encountered Bentivegna del Mazzo at the
tail of a well laden ass; and greeted him, asking him whither he was
going. "I'faith, Sir," quoth Bentivegna, "for sure 'tis to town I go,
having an affair or two to attend to there; and I am taking these things
to Ser Buonaccorri da Ginestreto, to get him to stand by me in I wot not
what matter, whereof the justice o' th' coram has by his provoker served
me with a pertrumpery summons to appear before him." Whereupon:--"'Tis
well, my son," quoth the priest, overjoyed, "my blessing go with thee:
good luck to thee and a speedy return; and harkye, shouldst thou see
Lapuccio or Naldino, do not forget to tell them to send me those thongs
for my flails." "It shall be done," quoth Bentivegna, and jogged on
towards Florence, while the priest, thinking that now was his time to hie
him to Belcolore and try his fortune, put his best leg forward, and
stayed not till he was at the house, which entering, he said:--"God be
gracious to us! Who is within?" Belcolore, who was up in the loft, made
answer:--"Welcome, Sir; but what dost thou, gadding about in the heat?"
"Why, as I hope for God's blessing," quoth he, "I am just come to stay
with thee a while, having met thy husband on his way to town." Whereupon
down came Belcolore, took a seat, and began sifting cabbage-seed that her
husband had lately threshed. By and by the priest began:--"So, Belcolore,
wilt thou keep me ever a dying thus?" Whereat Belcolore tittered, and
said:--"Why, what is't I do to you?" "Truly, nothing at all," replied the
priest: "but thou sufferest me not to do to thee that which I had lief,
and which God commands." "Now away with you!" returned Belcolore, "do
priests do that sort of thing?" "Indeed we do," quoth the priest, "and to
better purpose than others: why not? I tell you our grinding is far
better; and wouldst thou know why? 'tis because 'tis intermittent. And in
truth 'twill be well worth thy while to keep thine own counsel, and let
me do it." "Worth my while!" ejaculated Belcolore. "How may that be?
There is never a one of you but would overreach the very Devil." "'Tis
not for me to say," returned the priest; "say but what thou wouldst have:
shall it be a pair of dainty shoes? Or wouldst thou prefer a fillet? Or
perchance a gay riband? What's thy will?" "Marry, no lack have I," quoth
Belcolore, "of such things as these. But, if you wish me so well, why do
me not a service? and I would then be at your command." "Name but the
service," returned the priest, "and gladly will I do it." Quoth then
Belcolore:--"On Saturday I have to go to Florence to deliver some wool
that I have spun, and to get my spinning-wheel put in order: lend me but
five pounds--I know you have them--and I will redeem my perse petticoat
from the pawnshop, and also the girdle that I wear on saints' days, and
that I had when I was married--you see that without them I cannot go to
church or anywhere else, and then I will do just as you wish thenceforth
and forever." Whereupon:--"So God give me a good year," quoth he, "as I
have not the money with me: but never fear that I will see that thou hast
it before Saturday with all the pleasure in life." "Ay, ay," rejoined
Belcolore, "you all make great promises, but then you never keep them.
Think you to serve me as you served Biliuzza, whom you left in the lurch
at last? God's faith, you do not so. To think that she turned woman of
the world just for that! If you have not the money with you, why, go and
get it." "Prithee," returned the priest, "send me not home just now. For,
seest thou, 'tis the very nick of time with me, and the coast is clear,
and perchance it might not be so on my return, and in short I know not
when it would be likely to go so well as now." Whereto she did but
rejoin:--"Good; if you are minded to go, get you gone; if not, stay where
you are." The priest, therefore, seeing that she was not disposed to give
him what he wanted, as he was fain, to wit, on his own terms, but was
bent upon having a quid pro quo, changed his tone; and:--"Lo, now," quoth
he, "thou doubtest I will not bring thee the money; so to set thy mind at
rest, I will leave thee this cloak--thou seest 'tis good sky-blue
silk--in pledge." So raising her head and glancing at the cloak:--"And
what may the cloak be worth?" quoth Belcolore. "Worth!" ejaculated the
priest: "I would have thee know that 'tis all Douai, not to say Trouai,
make: nay, there are some of our folk here that say 'tis Quadrouai; and
'tis not a fortnight since I bought it of Lotto, the secondhand dealer,
for seven good pounds, and then had it five good soldi under value, by
what I hear from Buglietto, who, thou knowest, is an excellent judge of
these articles." "Oh! say you so?" exclaimed Belcolore. "So help me God,
I should not have thought it; however, let me look at it." So Master
Priest, being ready for action, doffed the cloak and handed it to her.
And she, having put it in a safe place, said to him:--"Now, Sir, we will
away to the hut; there is never a soul goes there;" and so they did. And
there Master Priest, giving her many a mighty buss and straining her to
his sacred person, solaced himself with her no little while.

Which done, he hied him away in his cassock, as if he were come from
officiating at a wedding; but, when he was back in his holy quarters, he
bethought him that not all the candles that he received by way of
offering in the course of an entire year would amount to the half of five
pounds, and saw that he had made a bad bargain, and repented him that he
had left the cloak in pledge, and cast about how he might recover it
without paying anything. And as he did not lack cunning, he hit upon an
excellent expedient, by which he compassed his end. So on the morrow,
being a saint's day, he sent a neighbour's lad to Monna Belcolore with a
request that she would be so good as to lend him her stone mortar, for
that Binguccio dal Poggio and Nuto Buglietti were to breakfast with him
that morning, and he therefore wished to make a sauce. Belcolore having
sent the mortar, the priest, about breakfast time, reckoning that
Bentivegna del Mazzo and Belcolore would be at their meal, called his
clerk, and said to him:--"Take the mortar back to Belcolore, and
say:--'My master thanks you very kindly, and bids you return the cloak
that the lad left with you in pledge.'" The clerk took the mortar to
Belcolore's house, where, finding her at table with Bentivegna, he set
the mortar down and delivered the priest's message. Whereto Belcolore
would fain have demurred; but Bentivegna gave her a threatening glance,
saying:--"So, then, thou takest a pledge from Master Priest? By Christ, I
vow, I have half a mind to give thee a great clout o' the chin. Go, give
it back at once, a murrain on thee! And look to it that whatever he may
have a mind to, were it our very ass, he be never denied." So, with a
very bad grace, Belcolore got up, and went to the wardrobe, and took out
the cloak, and gave it to the clerk, saying:--"Tell thy master from
me:--Would to God he may never ply pestle in my mortar again, such honour
has he done me for this turn!" So the clerk returned with the cloak, and
delivered the message to Master Priest; who, laughing, made
answer:--"Tell her, when thou next seest her, that, so she lend us not
the mortar, I will not lend her the pestle: be it tit for tat."

Bentivegna made no account of his wife's words, deeming that 'twas but
his chiding that had provoked them. But Belcolore was not a little
displeased with Master Priest, and had never a word to say to him till
the vintage; after which, what with the salutary fear in which she stood
of the mouth of Lucifer the Great, to which he threatened to consign her,
and the must and roast chestnuts that he sent her, she made it up with
him, and many a jolly time they had together. And though she got not the
five pounds from him, he put a new skin on her tabret, and fitted it with
a little bell, wherewith she was satisfied.

(1) For this folk-song see Cantilene e Ballate, Strambotti e Madrigali,
ed. Carducci (1871), p. 60. The fragment there printed maybe freely
rendered as follows:--

The borage is full sappy,
And clusters red we see,
And my love would make me happy;
So that maiden give to me.

Ill set I find this dance,
And better might it be:
So, comrade mine, advance,
And, changing place with me,
Stand thou thy love beside.


Calandrino, Bruno and Buffalmacco go in quest of the heliotrope beside
the Mugnone. Thinking to have found it, Calandrino gets him home laden
with stones. His wife chides him: whereat he waxes wroth, beats her, and
tells his comrades what they know better than he.

Ended Pamfilo's story, which moved the ladies to inextinguishable
laughter, the queen bade Elisa follow suit: whereupon, laughing, she thus
began:--I know not, debonair my ladies, whether with my little story,
which is no less true than entertaining, I shall give you occasion to
laugh as much as Pamfilo has done with his, but I will do my best.

In our city, where there has never been lack of odd humours and queer
folk, there dwelt, no long time ago, a painter named Calandrino, a simple
soul, of uncouth manners, that spent most of his time with two other
painters, the one Bruno, the other Buffalmacco, by name, pleasant fellows
enough, but not without their full share of sound and shrewd sense, and
who kept with Calandrino for that they not seldom found his singular ways
and his simplicity very diverting. There was also at the same time at
Florence one Maso del Saggio, a fellow marvellously entertaining by his
cleverness, dexterity and unfailing resource; who having heard somewhat
touching Calandrino's simplicity, resolved to make fun of him by playing
him a trick, and inducing him to believe some prodigy. And happening one
day to come upon Calandrino in the church of San Giovanni, where he sate
intently regarding the paintings and intaglios of the tabernacle above
the altar, which had then but lately been set there, he deemed time and
place convenient for the execution of his design; which he accordingly
imparted to one of his comrades: whereupon the two men drew nigh the
place where Calandrino sate alone, and feigning not to see him fell a
talking of the virtues of divers stones, of which Maso spoke as aptly and
pertinently as if he had been a great and learned lapidary. Calandrino
heard what passed between them, and witting that 'twas no secret, after a
while got up, and joined them, to Maso's no small delight. He therefore
continued his discourse, and being asked by Calandrino, where these
stones of such rare virtues were to be found, made answer:--"Chiefly in
Berlinzone, in the land of the Basques. The district is called Bengodi,
and there they bind the vines with sausages, and a denier will buy a
goose and a gosling into the bargain; and on a mountain, all of grated
Parmesan cheese, dwell folk that do nought else but make macaroni and
raviuoli,(1) and boil them in capon's broth, and then throw them down to
be scrambled for; and hard by flows a rivulet of Vernaccia, the best that
ever was drunk, and never a drop of water therein." "Ah! 'tis a sweet
country!" quoth Calandrino; "but tell me, what becomes of the capons that
they boil?" "They are all eaten by the Basques," replied Maso.
Then:--"Wast thou ever there?" quoth Calandrino. Whereupon:--"Was I ever
there, sayst thou?" replied Maso. "Why, if I have been there once, I have
been there a thousand times." "And how many miles is't from here?" quoth
Calandrino. "Oh!" returned Maso, "more than thou couldst number in a
night without slumber." "Farther off, then, than the Abruzzi?" said
Calandrino. "Why, yes, 'tis a bit farther," replied Maso.

Now Calandrino, like the simple soul that he was, marking the composed
and grave countenance with which Maso spoke, could not have believed him
more thoroughly, if he had uttered the most patent truth, and thus taking
his words for gospel:--"'Tis a trifle too far for my purse," quoth he;
"were it nigher, I warrant thee, I would go with thee thither one while,
just to see the macaroni come tumbling down, and take my fill thereof.
But tell me, so good luck befall thee, are none of these stones, that
have these rare virtues, to be found in these regions?" "Ay," replied
Maso, "two sorts of stone are found there, both of virtues extraordinary.
The one sort are the sandstones of Settignano and Montisci, which being
made into millstones, by virtue thereof flour is made; wherefore 'tis a
common saying in those countries that blessings come from God and
millstones from Montisci: but, for that these sandstones are in great
plenty, they are held cheap by us, just as by them are emeralds, whereof
they have mountains, bigger than Monte Morello, that shine at midnight, a
God's name! And know this, that whoso should make a goodly pair of
millstones, and connect them with a ring before ever a hole was drilled
in them, and take them to the Soldan, should get all he would have
thereby. The other sort of stone is the heliotrope, as we lapidaries call
it, a stone of very great virtue, inasmuch as whoso carries it on his
person is seen, so long as he keep it, by never another soul, where he is
not." "These be virtues great indeed," quoth Calandrino; "but where is
this second stone to be found?" Whereto Maso made answer that there were
usually some to be found in the Mugnone. "And what are its size and
colour?" quoth Calandrino. "The size varies," replied Maso, "for some are
bigger and some smaller than others; but all are of the same colour,
being nearly black." All these matters duly marked and fixed in his
memory, Calandrino made as if he had other things to attend to, and took
his leave of Maso with the intention of going in quest of the stone, but
not until he had let his especial friends, Bruno and Buffalmacco, know of
his project. So, that no time might be lost, but, postponing everything
else, they might begin the quest at once, he set about looking for them,
and spent the whole morning in the search. At length, when 'twas already
past none, he called to mind that they would be at work in the Faentine
women's convent, and though 'twas excessively hot, he let nothing stand
in his way, but at a pace that was more like a run than a walk, hied him
thither; and so soon as he had made them ware of his presence, thus he
spoke:--"Comrades, so you are but minded to hearken to me, 'tis in our
power to become the richest men in Florence; for I am informed by one
that may be trusted that there is a kind of stone in the Mugnone which
renders whoso carries it invisible to every other soul in the world.
Wherefore, methinks, we were wise to let none have the start of us, but
go search for this stone without any delay. We shall find it without a
doubt, for I know what 'tis like, and when we have found it, we have but
to put it in the purse, and get us to the moneychangers, whose counters,
as you know, are always laden with groats and florins, and help ourselves
to as many as we have a mind to. No one will see us, and so, hey presto!
we shall be rich folk in the twinkling of an eye, and have no more need
to go besmearing the walls all day long like so many snails." Whereat
Bruno and Buffalmacco began only to laugh, and exchanging glances, made
as if they marvelled exceedingly, and expressed approval of Calandrino's
project. Then Buffalmacco asked, what might be the name of the stone.
Calandrino, like the numskull that he was, had already forgotten the
name: so he made answer:--"Why need we concern ourselves with the name,
since we know the stone's virtue? methinks, we were best to go look for
it, and waste no more time." "Well, well," said Bruno, "but what are the
size and shape of the stone?" "They are of all sizes and shapes," said
Calandrino, "but they are all pretty nearly black; wherefore, methinks,
we were best to collect all the black stones that we see until we hit
upon it: and so, let us be off, and lose no more time." "Nay, but," said
Bruno, "wait a bit." And turning to Buffalmacco:--"Methinks," quoth he,
"that Calandrino says well: but I doubt this is not the time for such
work, seeing that the sun is high, and his rays so flood the Mugnone as
to dry all the stones; insomuch that stones will now shew as white that
in the morning, before the sun had dried them, would shew as black:
besides which, to-day being a working-day, there will be for one cause or
another folk not a few about the Mugnone, who, seeing us, might guess
what we were come for, and peradventure do the like themselves; whereby
it might well be that they found the stone, and we might miss the trot by
trying after the amble. Wherefore, so you agree, methinks we were best to
go about it in the morning, when we shall be better able to distinguish
the black stones from the white, and on a holiday, when there will be
none to see us."

Buffalmacco's advice being approved by Bruno, Calandrino chimed in; and
so 'twas arranged that they should all three go in quest of the stone on
the following Sunday. So Calandrino, having besought his companions above
all things to let never a soul in the world hear aught of the matter, for
that it had been imparted to him in strict confidence, and having told
them what he had heard touching the land of Bengodi, the truth of which
he affirmed with oaths, took leave of them; and they concerted their
plan, while Calandrino impatiently expected the Sunday morning. Whereon,
about dawn, he arose, and called them; and forth they issued by the Porta
a San Gallo, and hied them to the Mugnone, and following its course,
began their quest of the stone, Calandrino, as was natural, leading the
way, and jumping lightly from rock to rock, and wherever he espied a
black stone, stooping down, picking it up and putting it in the fold of
his tunic, while his comrades followed, picking up a stone here and a
stone there. Thus it was that Calandrino had not gone far, before,
finding that there was no more room in his tunic, he lifted the skirts of
his gown, which was not cut after the fashion of Hainault, and gathering
them under his leathern girdle and making them fast on every side, thus
furnished himself with a fresh and capacious lap, which, however, taking
no long time to fill, he made another lap out of his cloak, which in like
manner he soon filled with stones. Wherefore, Bruno and Buffalmacco
seeing that Calandrino was well laden, and that 'twas nigh upon
breakfast-time, and the moment for action come:--"Where is Calandrino?"
quoth Bruno to Buffalmacco. Whereto Buffalmacco, who had Calandrino full
in view, having first turned about and looked here, there and everywhere,
made answer:--"That wot not I; but not so long ago he was just in front
of us." "Not so long ago, forsooth," returned Bruno; "'tis my firm belief
that at this very moment he is at breakfast at home, having left to us
this wild-goose chase of black stones in the Mugnone." "Marry," quoth
Buffalmacco, "he did but serve us right so to trick us and leave, seeing
that we were so silly as to believe him. Why, who could have thought that
any but we would have been so foolish as to believe that a stone of such
rare virtue was to be found in the Mugnone?" Calandrino, hearing their
colloquy, forthwith imagined that he had the stone in his hand, and by
its virtue, though present, was invisible to them; and overjoyed by such
good fortune, would not say a word to undeceive them, but determined to
hie him home, and accordingly faced about, and put himself in motion.
Whereupon:--"Ay!" quoth Buffalmacco to Bruno, "what are we about that we
go not back too?" "Go we then," said Bruno; "but by God I swear that
Calandrino shall never play me another such trick; and as to this, were I
nigh him, as I have been all the morning, I would teach him to remember
it for a month or so, such a reminder would I give him in the heel with
this stone." And even as he spoke he threw back his arm, and launched the
stone against Calandrino's heel. Galled by the blow, Calandrino gave a
great hop and a slight gasp, but said nothing, and halted not. Then,
picking out one of the stones that he had collected:--"Bruno," quoth
Buffalmacco, "see what a goodly stone I have here, would it might but
catch Calandrino in the back;" and forthwith he discharged it with main
force upon the said back. And in short, suiting action to word, now in
this way, now in that, they stoned him all the way up the Mugnone as far
as the Porta a San Gallo. There they threw away the stones they had
picked up, and tarried a while with the customs' officers, who, being
primed by them, had let Calandrino pass unchallenged, while their
laughter knew no bounds.

So Calandrino, halting nowhere, betook him to his house, which was hard
by the corner of the Macina. And so well did Fortune prosper the trick,
that all the way by the stream and across the city there was never a soul
that said a word to Calandrino, and indeed he encountered but few, for
most folk were at breakfast. But no sooner was Calandrino thus gotten
home with his stones, than it so happened that his good lady, Monna
Tessa, shewed her fair face at the stair's head, and catching sight of
him, and being somewhat annoyed by his long delay, chid him,
saying:--"What the Devil brings thee here so late? Must breakfast wait
thee until all other folk have had it?" Calandrino caught the words, and
angered and mortified to find that he was not invisible, broke out
with:--"Alas! curst woman! so 'twas thou! Thou hast undone me: but, God's
faith, I will pay thee out." Whereupon he was upstairs in a trice, and
having discharged his great load of stones in a parlour, rushed with fell
intent upon his wife, and laid hold of her by the hair, and threw her
down at his feet, and beat and kicked her in every part of her person
with all the force he had in his arms and legs, insomuch that he left
never a hair of her head or bone of her body unscathed, and 'twas all in
vain that she laid her palms together and crossed her fingers and cried
for mercy.

Now Buffalmacco and Bruno, after making merry a while with the warders of
the gate, had set off again at a leisurely pace, keeping some distance
behind Calandrino. Arrived at his door, they heard the noise of the sound
thrashing that he was giving his wife; and making as if they were but
that very instant come upon the scene, they called him. Calandrino,
flushed, all of a sweat, and out of breath, shewed himself at the window,
and bade them come up. They, putting on a somewhat angry air, did so; and
espied Calandrino sitting in the parlour, amid the stones which lay all
about, untrussed, and puffing with the air of a man spent with exertion,
while his lady lay in one of the corners, weeping bitterly, her hair all
dishevelled, her clothes torn to shreds, and her face livid, bruised and
battered. So after surveying the room a while:--"What means this,
Calandrino?" quoth they. "Art thou minded to build thee a wall, that we
see so many stones about?" And then, as they received no answer, they
continued:--"And how's this? How comes Monna Tessa in this plight?
'Twould seem thou hast given her a beating! What unheard-of doings are
these?" What with the weight of the stones that he had carried, and the
fury with which he had beaten his wife, and the mortification that he
felt at the miscarriage of his enterprise, Calandrino was too spent to
utter a word by way of reply. Wherefore in a menacing tone Buffalmacco
began again:--"However out of sorts thou mayst have been, Calandrino,
thou shouldst not have played us so scurvy a trick as thou hast. To take
us with thee to the Mugnone in quest of this stone of rare virtue, and
then, without so much as saying either God-speed or Devil-speed, to be
off, and leave us there like a couple of gowks! We take it not a little
unkindly: and rest assured that thou shalt never so fool us again."
Whereto with an effort Calandrino replied:--"Comrades, be not wroth with
me: 'tis not as you think. I, luckless wight! found the stone: listen,
and you will no longer doubt that I say sooth. When you began saying one
to the other:--'Where is Calandrino?' I was within ten paces of you, and
marking that you came by without seeing me, I went before, and so,
keeping ever a little ahead of you, I came hither." And then he told them
the whole story of what they had said and done from beginning to end, and
shewed them his back and heel, how they had been mauled by the stones;
after which:--"And I tell you," he went on, "that, laden though I was
with all these stones, that you see here, never a word was said to me by
the warders of the gate as I passed in, though you know how vexatious and
grievous these warders are wont to make themselves in their determination
to see everything: and moreover I met by the way several of my gossips
and friends that are ever wont to greet me, and ask me to drink, and
never a word said any of them to me, no, nor half a word either; but they
passed me by as men that saw me not. But at last, being come home, I was
met and seen by this devil of a woman, curses upon her, forasmuch as all
things, as you know, lose their virtue in the presence of a woman;
whereby I from being the most lucky am become the most luckless man in
Florence: and therefore I thrashed her as long as I could stir a hand,
nor know I wherefore I forbear to sluice her veins for her, cursed be the
hour that first I saw her, cursed be the hour that I brought her into the
house!" And so, kindling with fresh wrath, he was about to start up and
give her another thrashing; when Buffalmacco and Bruno, who had listened
to his story with an air of great surprise, and affirmed its truth again
and again, while they all but burst with suppressed laughter, seeing him
now frantic to renew his assault upon his wife, got up and withstood and
held him back, averring that the lady was in no wise to blame for what
had happened, but only he, who, witting that things lost their virtue in
the presence of women, had not bidden her keep aloof from him that day;
which precaution God had not suffered him to take, either because the
luck was not to be his, or because he was minded to cheat his comrades,
to whom he should have shewn the stone as soon as he found it. And so,
with many words they hardly prevailed upon him to forgive his injured
wife, and leaving him to rue the ill-luck that had filled his house with
stones, went their way.

(1) A sort of rissole.


The rector of Fiesole loves a widow lady, by whom he is not loved, and
thinking to lie with her, lies with her maid, with whom the lady's
brothers cause him to be found by his Bishop.

Elisa being come to the end of her story, which in the telling had
yielded no small delight to all the company, the queen, turning to
Emilia, signified her will, that her story should ensue at once upon that
of Elisa. And thus with alacrity Emilia began:--Noble ladies, how we are
teased and tormented by these priests and friars, and indeed by clergy of
all sorts, I mind me to have been set forth in more than one of the
stories that have been told; but as 'twere not possible to say so much
thereof but that more would yet remain to say, I purpose to supplement
them with the story of a rector, who, in defiance of all the world, was
bent upon having the favour of a gentlewoman, whether she would or no.
Which gentlewoman, being discreet above a little, treated him as he

Fiesole, whose hill is here within sight, is, as each of you knows, a
city of immense antiquity, and was aforetime great, though now 'tis
fallen into complete decay; which notwithstanding, it always was, and
still is the see of a bishop. Now there was once a gentlewoman, Monna
Piccarda by name, a widow, that had an estate at Fiesole, hard by the
cathedral, on which, for that she was not in the easiest circumstances,
she lived most part of the year, and with her her two brothers, very
worthy and courteous young men, both of them. And the lady being wont
frequently to resort to the cathedral, and being still quite young and
fair and debonair withal, it so befell that the rector grew in the last
degree enamoured of her, and waxed at length so bold, that he himself
avowed his passion to the lady, praying her to entertain his love, and
requite it in like measure. The rector was advanced in years, but
otherwise the veriest springald, being bold and of a high spirit, of a
boundless conceit of himself, and of mien and manners most affected and
in the worst taste, and withal so tiresome and insufferable that he was
on bad terms with everybody, and, if with one person more than another,
with this lady, who not only cared not a jot for him, but had liefer have
had a headache than his company. Wherefore the lady discreetly made
answer:--"I may well prize your love, Sir, and love you I should and will
right gladly; but such love as yours and mine may never admit of aught
that is not honourable. You are my spiritual father and a priest, and now
verging towards old age, circumstances which should ensure your honour
and chastity; and I, on my part, am no longer a girl, such as these love
affairs might beseem, but a widow, and well you wot how it behoves widows
to be chaste. Wherefore I pray you to have me excused; for, after the
sort you crave, you shall never have my love, nor would I in such sort be
loved by you." With this answer the rector was for the nonce fain to be
content; but he was not the man to be dismayed and routed by a first
repulse; and with his wonted temerity and effrontery he plied her again
and again with letters and ambassages, and also by word of mouth, when he
espied her entering the church. Wherefore the lady finding this
persecution more grievous and harassing than she could well bear, cast
about how she might be quit thereof in such fashion as he deserved,
seeing that he left her no choice; howbeit she would do nought in the
matter until she had conferred with her brothers. She therefore told them
how the rector pursued her, and how she meant to foil him; and, with
their full concurrence, some few days afterwards she went, as she was
wont, to church. The rector no sooner saw her, than he approached and
accosted her, as he was wont, in a tone of easy familiarity. The lady
greeted him, as he came up, with a glance of gladsome recognition; and
when he had treated her to not a little of his wonted eloquence, she drew
him aside, and heaving a great sigh, said:--"I have oftentimes heard it
said, Sir, that there is no castle so strong, but that, if the siege be
continued day by day, it will sooner or later be taken; which I now
plainly perceive is my own case. For so fairly have you hemmed me in with
this, that, and the other pretty speech or the like blandishments, that
you have constrained me to make nought of my former resolve, and, seeing
that I find such favour with you, to surrender myself unto you." Whereto,
overjoyed, the rector made answer:--"Madam, I am greatly honoured; and,
sooth to say, I marvelled not a little how you should hold out so long,
seeing that I have never had the like experience with any other woman,
insomuch that I have at times said:--'Were women of silver, they would
not be worth a denier, for there is none but would give under the
hammer!' But no more of this: when and where may we come together?"
"Sweet my lord," replied the lady, "for the when, 'tis just as we may
think best, for I have no husband to whom to render account of my nights,
but the where passes my wit to conjecture." "How so?" quoth the rector.
"Why not in your own house?" "Sir," replied the lady, "you know that I
have two brothers, both young men, who day and night bring their comrades
into the house, which is none too large: for which reason it might not be
done there, unless we were minded to make ourselves, as it were, dumb and
blind, uttering never a word, not so much as a monosyllable, and abiding
in the dark: in such sort indeed it might be, because they do not intrude
upon my chamber; but theirs is so near to mine that the very least
whisper could not but be heard." "Nay but, Madam," returned the rector,
"let not this stand in our way for a night or two, until I may bethink me
where else we might be more at our ease." "Be that as you will, Sir,"
quoth the lady, "I do but entreat that the affair be kept close, so that
never a word of it get wind." "Have no fear on that score, Madam,"
replied the priest; "and if so it may be, let us forgather to-night."
"With pleasure," returned the lady; and having appointed him how and when
to come, she left him and went home.

Now the lady had a maid, that was none too young, and had a countenance
the ugliest and most misshapen that ever was seen; for indeed she was
flat-nosed, wry-mouthed, and thick-lipped, with huge, ill-set teeth, eyes
that squinted and were ever bleared, and a complexion betwixt green and
yellow, that shewed as if she had spent the summer not at Fiesole but at
Sinigaglia: besides which she was hip-shot and somewhat halting on the
right side. Her name was Ciuta, but, for that she was such a scurvy bitch
to look upon, she was called by all folk Ciutazza.(1) And being thus
misshapen of body, she was also not without her share of guile. So the
lady called her and said:--"Ciutazza, so thou wilt do me a service
to-night, I will give thee a fine new shift." At the mention of the shift
Ciutazza made answer:--"So you give me a shift, Madam, I will throw
myself into the very fire." "Good," said the lady; "then I would have
thee lie to-night in my bed with a man, whom thou wilt caress; but look
thou say never a word, that my brothers, who, as thou knowest, sleep in
the next room, hear thee not; and afterwards I will give thee the shift."
"Sleep with a man!" quoth Ciutazza: "why, if need be, I will sleep with
six." So in the evening Master Rector came, as he had been bidden; and
the two young men, as the lady had arranged, being in their room, and
making themselves very audible, he stole noiselessly, and in the dark,
into the lady's room, and got him on to the bed, which Ciutazza, well
advised by the lady how to behave, mounted from the other side. Whereupon
Master Rector, thinking to have the lady by his side, took Ciutazza in
his arms, and fell a kissing her, saying never a word the while, and
Ciutazza did the like; and so he enjoyed her, plucking the boon which he
had so long desired.

The rector and Ciutazza thus closeted, the lady charged her brothers to
execute the rest of her plan. They accordingly stole quietly out of their
room, and hied them to the piazza, where Fortune proved propitious beyond
what they had craved of her; for, it being a very hot night, the bishop
had been seeking them, purposing to go home with them, and solace himself
with their society, and quench his thirst. With which desire he
acquainted them, as soon as he espied them coming into the piazza; and so
they escorted him to their house, and there in the cool of their little
courtyard, which was bright with many a lamp, he took, to his no small
comfort, a draught of their good wine. Which done:--"Sir," said the young
men, "since of your great courtesy you have deigned to visit our poor
house, to which we were but now about to invite you, we should be
gratified if you would be pleased to give a look at somewhat, a mere
trifle though it be, which we have here to shew you." The bishop replied
that he would do so with pleasure. Whereupon one of the young men took a
lighted torch and led the way, the bishop and the rest following, to the
chamber where Master Rector lay with Ciutazza.

Now the rector, being in hot haste, had ridden hard, insomuch that he was
already gotten above three miles on his way when they arrived; and so,
being somewhat tired, he was resting, but, hot though the night was, he
still held Ciutazza in his arms. In which posture he was shewn to the
bishop, when, preceded by the young man bearing the light, and followed
by the others, he entered the chamber. And being roused, and observing
the light and the folk that stood about him, Master Rector was mighty
ashamed and affrighted, and popped his head under the clothes. But the
bishop, reprimanding him severely, constrained him to thrust his head out
again, and take a view of his bed-fellow. Thus made aware of the trick
which the lady had played him, the rector was now, both on that score and
by reason of his signal disgrace, the saddest man that ever was; and his
discomfiture was complete, when, having donned his clothes, he was
committed by the bishop's command to close custody and sent to prison,
there to expiate his offence by a rigorous penance.

The bishop was then fain to know how it had come about that he had
forgathered there with Ciutazza. Whereupon the young men related the
whole story; which ended, the bishop commended both the lady and the
young men not a little, for that they had taken condign vengeance upon
him without imbruing their hands in the blood of a priest. The bishop
caused him to bewail his transgression forty days; but what with his
love, and the scornful requital which it had received, he bewailed it
more than forty and nine days, not to mention that for a great while he
could not shew himself in the street but the boys would point the finger
at him and say:--"There goes he that lay with Ciutazza." Which was such
an affliction to him that he was like to go mad. On this wise the worthy
lady rid herself of the rector's vexatious importunity, and Ciutazza had
a jolly night and earned her shift.

(1) An augmentative form, with a suggestion of cagnazza, bitch-like.


Three young men pull down the breeches of a judge from the Marches, while
he is administering justice on the bench.

So ended Emilia her story; and when all had commended the widow
lady:--"'Tis now thy turn to speak," quoth the queen, fixing her gaze
upon Filostrato, who answered that he was ready, and forthwith thus
began:--Sweet my ladies, by what I remember of that young man, to wit,
Maso del Saggio, whom Elisa named a while ago, I am prompted to lay aside
a story that I had meant to tell you, and to tell you another, touching
him and some of his comrades, which, notwithstanding there are in it
certain words (albeit 'tis not unseemly) which your modesty forbears to
use, is yet so laughable that I shall relate it.

As you all may well have heard, there come not seldom to our city
magistrates from the Marches, who for the most part are men of a mean
spirit, and in circumstances so reduced and beggarly, that their whole
life seems to be but a petty-foggery; and by reason of this their inbred
sordidness and avarice they bring with them judges and notaries that have
rather the air of men taken from the plough or the last than trained in
the schools of law.(1) Now one of these Marchers, being come hither as
Podesta, brought with him judges not a few, and among them one that
called himself Messer Niccola da San Lepidio, and looked liker to a
locksmith than aught else. However, this fellow was assigned with the
rest of the judges to hear criminal causes. And as folk will often go to
the court, though they have no concern whatever there, it so befell that
Maso del Saggio went thither one morning in quest of one of his friends,
and there chancing to set eyes on this Messer Niccola, where he sate,
deemed him a fowl of no common feather, and surveyed him from head to
foot, observing that the vair which he wore on his head was all begrimed,
that he carried an ink-horn at his girdle, that his gown was longer than
his robe, and many another detail quite foreign to the appearance of a
man of birth and breeding, of which that which he deemed most notable was
a pair of breeches, which, as he saw (for the judge's outer garments
being none too ample were open in front, as he sate), reached half-way
down his legs. By which sight his mind was presently diverted from the
friend whom he came there to seek; and forth he hied him in quest of
other two of his comrades, the one Ribi, the other Matteuzzo by name,
fellows both of them not a whit less jolly than Maso himself; and having
found them, he said to them:--"An you love me, come with me to the court,
and I will shew you the queerest scarecrow that ever you saw." So the two
men hied them with him to the court; and there he pointed out to them the
judge and his breeches. What they saw from a distance served to set them
laughing: then drawing nearer to the dais on which Master Judge was
seated, they observed that 'twas easy enough to get under the dais, and
moreover that the plank, on which the judge's feet rested, was broken, so
that there was plenty of room for the passage of a hand and arm.
Whereupon quoth Maso to his comrades:--"'Twere a very easy matter to pull
these breeches right down: wherefore I propose that we do so." Each of
the men had marked how it might be done; and so, having concerted both
what they should do and what they should say, they came to the court
again next morning; and, the court being crowded, Matteuzzo, observed by
never a soul, slipped beneath the dais, and posted himself right under
the spot where the judge's feet rested, while the other two men took
their stand on either side of the judge, each laying hold of the hem of
his robe. Then:--"Sir, sir, I pray you for God's sake," began Maso,
"that, before the pilfering rascal that is there beside you can make off,
you constrain him to give me back a pair of jack boots that he has stolen
from me, which theft he still denies, though 'tis not a month since I saw
him getting them resoled." Meanwhile Ribi, at the top of his voice,
shouted:--"Believe him not, Sir, the scurvy knave! 'Tis but that he knows
that I am come to demand restitution of a valise that he has stolen from
me that he now for the first time trumps up this story about a pair of
jack boots that I have had in my house down to the last day or two; and
if you doubt what I say, I can bring as witness Trecca, my neighbour, and
Grassa, the tripe-woman, and one that goes about gathering the sweepings
of Santa Maria a Verzaia, who saw him when he was on his way back from
the farm." But shout as he might, Maso was still even with him, nor for
all that did Ribi bate a jot of his clamour. And while the judge stood,
bending now towards the one, now towards the other, the better to hear
them, Matteuzzo seized his opportunity, and thrusting his hand through
the hole in the plank caught hold of the judge's breeches, and tugged at
them amain. Whereby down they came straightway, for the judge was a lean
man, and shrunk in the buttocks. The judge, being aware of the accident,
but knowing not how it had come about, would have gathered his outer
garments together in front, so as to cover the defect, but Maso on the
one side, and Ribi on the other, held him fast, shouting amain and in
chorus:--"You do me a grievous wrong, Sir, thus to deny me justice, nay,
even a hearing, and to think of quitting the court: there needs no writ
in this city for such a trifling matter as this." And thus they held him
by the clothes and in parley, until all that were in the court perceived
that he had lost his breeches. However, after a while, Matteuzzo dropped
the breeches, and slipped off, and out of the court, without being
observed, and Ribi, deeming that the joke had gone far enough,
exclaimed:--"By God, I vow, I will appeal to the Syndics;" while Maso, on
the other side, let go the robe, saying:--"Nay, but for my part, I will
come here again and again and again, until I find you less embarrassed
than you seem to be to-day." And so the one this way, the other that way,
they made off with all speed. Whereupon Master Judge, disbreeched before
all the world, was as one that awakens from sleep, albeit he was ware of
his forlorn condition, and asked whither the parties in the case touching
the jack boots and the valise were gone. However, as they were not to be
found, he fell a swearing by the bowels of God, that 'twas meet and
proper that he should know and wit, whether 'twas the custom at Florence
to disbreech judges sitting in the seat of justice.

When the affair reached the ears of the Podesta, he made no little stir
about it; but, being informed by some of his friends, that 'twould not
have happened, but that the Florentines were minded to shew him, that, in
place of the judges he should have brought with him, he had brought but
gowks, to save expense, he deemed it best to say no more about it, and so
for that while the matter went no further.

(1) It was owing to their internal dissensions that the Florentines were
from time to time fain to introduce these stranger Podestas.


Bruno and Buffalmacco steal a pig from Calandrino, and induce him to
essay its recovery by means of pills of ginger and vernaccia. Of the said
pills they give him two, one after the other, made of dog-ginger
compounded with aloes; and it then appearing as if he had had the pig
himself, they constrain him to buy them off, if he would not have them
tell his wife.

Filostrato's story, which elicited not a little laughter, was no sooner
ended, than the queen bade Filomena follow suit. Wherefore thus Filomena
began:--As, gracious ladies, 'twas the name of Maso del Saggio that
prompted Filostrato to tell the story that you have but now heard, even
so 'tis with me in regard of Calandrino and his comrades, of whom I am
minded to tell you another story, which you will, I think, find
entertaining. Who Calandrino, Bruno and Buffalmacco were, I need not
explain; you know them well enough from the former story; and therefore I
will tarry no longer than to say that Calandrino had a little estate not
far from Florence, which his wife had brought him by way of dowry, and
which yielded them yearly, among other matters, a pig; and 'twas his
custom every year in the month of December to resort to the farm with his
wife, there to see to the killing and salting of the said pig. Now, one
of these years it so happened that his wife being unwell, Calandrino went
thither alone to kill the pig. And Bruno and Buffalmacco learning that he
was gone to the farm, and that his wife was not with him, betook them to
the house of a priest that was their especial friend and a neighbour of
Calandrino, there to tarry a while. Upon their arrival Calandrino, who
had that very morning killed the pig, met them with the priest, and
accosted them, saying:--"A hearty welcome to you. I should like you to
see what an excellent manager I am;" and so he took them into his house,
and shewed them the pig. They observed that 'twas a very fine pig; and
learned from Calandrino that he was minded to salt it for household
consumption. "Then thou art but a fool," quoth Bruno. "Sell it, man, and
let us have a jolly time with the money; and tell thy wife that 'twas
stolen." "Not I," replied Calandrino: "she would never believe me, and
would drive me out of the house. Urge me no further, for I will never do
it." The others said a great deal more, but to no purpose; and Calandrino
bade them to supper, but so coldly that they declined, and left him.

Presently:--"Should we not steal this pig from him to-night?" quoth Bruno
to Buffalmacco. "Could we so?" returned Buffalmacco. "How?" "Why, as to
that," rejoined Bruno, "I have already marked how it may be done, if he
bestow not the pig elsewhere." "So be it, then," said Buffalmacco: "we
will steal it; and then, perchance, our good host, Master Priest, will
join us in doing honour to such good cheer?" "That right gladly will I,"
quoth the priest. Whereupon:--"Some address, though," quoth Bruno, "will
be needful: thou knowest, Buffalmacco, what a niggardly fellow Calandrino
is, and how greedily he drinks at other folk's expense. Go we, therefore,
and take him to the tavern, and there let the priest make as if, to do us
honour, he would pay the whole score, and suffer Calandrino to pay never
a soldo, and he will grow tipsy, and then we shall speed excellent well,
because he is alone in the house."

As Bruno proposed, so they did: and Calandrino, finding that the priest
would not suffer him to pay, drank amain, and took a great deal more
aboard than he had need of; and the night being far spent when he left
the tavern, he dispensed with supper, and went home, and thinking to have
shut the door, got him to bed, leaving it open. Buffalmacco and Bruno
went to sup with the priest; and after supper, taking with them certain
implements with which to enter Calandrino's house, where Bruno thought it
most feasible, they stealthily approached it; but finding the door open,
they entered, and took down the pig, and carried it away to the priest's
house, and having there bestowed it safely, went to bed. In the morning
when Calandrino, his head at length quit of the fumes of the wine, got
up, and came downstairs and found that his pig was nowhere to be seen,
and that the door was open, he asked this, that, and the other man,
whether they wist who had taken the pig away, and getting no answer, he
began to make a great outcry:--"Alas, alas! luckless man that I am, that
my pig should have been stolen from me!" Meanwhile Bruno and Buffalmacco,
being also risen, made up to him, to hear what he would say touching the
pig. Whom he no sooner saw, than well-nigh weeping he called them,
saying:--"Alas! my friends! my pig is stolen from me." Bruno stepped up
to him and said in a low tone:--"'Tis passing strange if thou art in the
right for once." "Alas!" returned Calandrino, "what I say is but too
true." "Why, then, out with it, man," quoth Bruno, "cry aloud, that all
folk may know that 'tis so." Calandrino then raised his voice and
said:--"By the body o' God I say of a truth that my pig has been stolen
from me." "So!" quoth Bruno, "but publish it, man, publish it; lift up
thy voice, make thyself well heard, that all may believe thy report."
"Thou art enough to make me give my soul to the Enemy," replied
Calandrino. "I say--dost not believe me?--that hang me by the neck if the
pig is not stolen from me!" "Nay, but," quoth Bruno, "how can it be? I
saw it here but yesterday. Dost think to make me believe that it has
taken to itself wings and flown away?" "All the same 'tis as I tell
thee," returned Calandrino. "Is it possible?" quoth Bruno. "Ay indeed,"
replied Calandrino; "'tis even so: and I am undone, and know not how to
go home. Never will my wife believe me; or if she do so, I shall know no
peace this year." "Upon my hope of salvation," quoth Bruno, "'tis indeed
a bad business, if so it really is. But thou knowest, Calandrino, that
'twas but yesterday I counselled thee to make believe that 'twas so. I
should be sorry to think thou didst befool thy wife and us at the same
time." "Ah!" vociferated Calandrino, "wilt thou drive me to despair and
provoke me to blaspheme God and the saints and all the company of heaven?
I tell thee that the pig has been stolen from me in the night."
Whereupon:--"If so it be," quoth Buffalmacco, "we must find a way, if we
can, to recover it." "Find a way?" said Calandrino: "how can we compass
that?" "Why," replied Buffalmacco, "'tis certain that no one has come
from India to steal thy pig: it must have been one of thy neighbours, and
if thou couldst bring them together, I warrant thee, I know how to make
the assay with bread and cheese, and we will find out in a trice who has
had the pig." "Ay," struck in Bruno, "make thy assay with bread and
cheese in the presence of these gentry hereabout, one of whom I am sure
has had the pig! why, the thing would be seen through: and they would not
come." "What shall we do, then?" said Buffalmacco. Whereto Bruno made
answer:--"It must be done with good pills of ginger and good vernaccia;
and they must be bidden come drink with us. They will suspect nothing,
and will come; and pills of ginger can be blessed just as well as bread
and cheese." "Beyond a doubt, thou art right," quoth Buffalmacco; "and
thou Calandrino, what sayst thou? Shall we do as Bruno says?" "Nay, I
entreat you for the love of God," quoth Calandrino, "do even so: for if I
knew but who had had the pig, I should feel myself half consoled for my
loss." "Go to, now," quoth Bruno, "I am willing to do thy errand to
Florence for these commodities, if thou givest me the money."

Calandrino had some forty soldi upon him, which he gave to Bruno, who
thereupon hied him to Florence to a friend of his that was an apothecary,
and bought a pound of good pills of ginger, two of which, being of
dog-ginger, he caused to be compounded with fresh hepatic aloes, and then
to be coated with sugar like the others; and lest they should be lost, or
any of the others mistaken for them, he had a slight mark set upon them
by which he might readily recognize them. He also bought a flask of good
vernaccia, and, thus laden, returned to the farm, and said to
Calandrino:--"To-morrow morning thou wilt bid those whom thou suspectest
come hither to drink with thee: as 'twill be a saint's day, they will all
come readily enough; and to-night I and Buffalmacco will say the
incantation over the pills, which in the morning I will bring to thee
here, and for our friendship's sake will administer them myself, and do
and say all that needs to be said and done." So Calandrino did as Bruno
advised, and on the morrow a goodly company, as well of young men from
Florence, that happened to be in the village, as of husbandmen, being
assembled in front of the church around the elm, Bruno and Buffalmacco
came, bearing a box containing the ginger, and the flask of wine, and
ranged the folk in a circle. Whereupon: "Gentlemen," said Bruno, "'tis
meet I tell you the reason why you are gathered here, that if aught
unpleasant to you should befall, you may have no ground for complaint
against me. Calandrino here was the night before last robbed of a fine
pig, and cannot discover who has had it; and, for that it must have been
stolen by some one of us here, he would have each of you take and eat one
of these pills and drink of this vernaccia. Wherefore I forthwith do you
to wit, that whoso has had the pig will not be able to swallow the pill,
but will find it more bitter than poison, and will spit it out; and so,
rather, than he should suffer this shame in presence of so many, 'twere
perhaps best that he that has had the pig should confess the fact to the
priest, and I will wash my hands of the affair."

All professed themselves ready enough to eat the pills; and so, having
set them in a row with Calandrino among them, Bruno, beginning at one
end, proceeded to give each a pill, and when he came to Calandrino he
chose one of the pills of dog-ginger and put it in his hand. Calandrino
thrust it forthwith between his teeth and began to chew it; but no sooner
was his tongue acquainted with the aloes, than, finding the bitterness
intolerable, he spat it out. Now, the eyes of all the company being fixed
on one another to see who should spit out his pill, Bruno, who, not
having finished the distribution, feigned to be concerned with nought
else, heard some one in his rear say:--"Ha! Calandrino, what means this?"
and at once turning round, and marking that Calandrino had spit out his
pill:--"Wait a while," quoth he, "perchance 'twas somewhat else that
caused thee to spit: take another;" and thereupon whipping out the other
pill of dog-ginger, he set it between Calandrino's teeth, and finished
the distribution. Bitter as Calandrino had found the former pill, he
found this tenfold more so; but being ashamed to spit it out, he kept it
a while in his mouth and chewed it, and, as he did so, tears stood in his
eyes that shewed as large as filberts, and at length, being unable to
bear it any longer, he spat it out, as he had its predecessor. Which
being observed by Buffalmacco and Bruno, who were then administering the
wine, and by all the company, 'twas averred by common consent that
Calandrino had committed the theft himself; for which cause certain of
them took him severely to task.

However, the company being dispersed, and Bruno and Buffalmacco left
alone with Calandrino, Buffalmacco began on this wise:--"I never doubted
but that thou hadst had it thyself, and wast minded to make us believe
that it had been stolen from thee, that we might not have of thee so much
as a single drink out of the price which thou gottest for it."
Calandrino, with the bitterness of the aloes still on his tongue, fell a
swearing that he had not had it. Whereupon:--"Nay, but, comrade," quoth
Buffalmacco, "upon thy honour, what did it fetch? Six florins?" Whereto,
Calandrino being now on the verge of desperation, Bruno added:--"Now be
reasonable, Calandrino; among the company that ate and drank with us
there was one that told me that thou hadst up there a girl that thou
didst keep for thy pleasure, giving her what by hook or by crook thou
couldst get together, and that he held it for certain that thou hadst
sent her this pig. And thou art grown expert in this sort of cozenage.
Thou tookest us one while adown the Mugnone a gathering black stones, and
having thus started us on a wild-goose chase, thou madest off; and then
wouldst fain have us believe that thou hadst found the stone: and now, in
like manner, thou thinkest by thine oaths to persuade us that this pig
which thou hast given away or sold, has been stolen from thee. But we
know thy tricks of old; never another couldst thou play us; and, to be
round with thee, this spell has cost us some trouble: wherefore we mean
that thou shalt give us two pair of capons, or we will let Monna Tessa
know all." Seeing that he was not believed, and deeming his mortification
ample without the addition of his wife's resentment, Calandrino gave them
the two pair of capons, with which, when the pig was salted, they
returned to Florence, leaving Calandrino with the loss and the laugh
against him.


A scholar loves a widow lady, who, being enamoured of another, causes him
to spend a winter's night awaiting her in the snow. He afterwards by a
stratagem causes her to stand for a whole day in July, naked upon a
tower, exposed to the flies, the gadflies, and the sun.

Over the woes of poor Calandrino the ladies laughed not a little, and had
laughed yet more, but that it irked them that those that had robbed him
of the pig should also take from him the capons. However, the story being
ended, the queen bade Pampinea give them hers: and thus forthwith
Pampinea began:--Dearest ladies, it happens oftentimes that the artful
scorner meets his match; wherefore 'tis only little wits that delight to
scorn. In a series of stories we have heard tell of tricks played without
aught in the way of reprisals following: by mine I purpose in some degree
to excite your compassion for a gentlewoman of our city (albeit the
retribution that came upon her was but just) whose flout was returned in
the like sort, and to such effect that she well-nigh died thereof. The
which to hear will not be unprofitable to you, for thereby you will learn
to be more careful how you flout others, and therein you will do very

'Tis not many years since there dwelt at Florence a lady young and fair,
and of a high spirit, as also of right gentle lineage, and tolerably well
endowed with temporal goods. Now Elena--such was the lady's name--being
left a widow, was minded never to marry again, being enamoured of a
handsome young gallant of her own choosing, with whom she, recking nought
of any other lover, did, by the help of a maid in whom she placed much
trust, not seldom speed the time gaily and with marvellous delight.
Meanwhile it so befell that a young nobleman of our city, Rinieri by
name, who had spent much time in study at Paris, not that he might
thereafter sell his knowledge by retail, but that he might learn the
reasons and causes of things, which accomplishment shews to most
excellent advantage in a gentleman, returned to Florence, and there lived
as a citizen in no small honour with his fellows, both by reason of his
rank and of his learning. But as it is often the case that those who are
most versed in deep matters are the soonest mastered by Love, so was it
with Rinieri. For at a festal gathering, to which one day he went, there
appeared before his eyes this Elena, of whom we spoke, clad in black, as
is the wont of our Florentine widows, and shewing to his mind so much
fairer and more debonair than any other woman that he had ever seen, that
happy indeed he deemed the man might call himself, to whom God in His
goodness should grant the right to hold her naked in his arms. So now and
again he eyed her stealthily, and knowing that boons goodly and precious
are not to be gotten without trouble, he made up his mind to study and
labour with all assiduity how best to please her, that so he might win
her love, and thereby the enjoyment of her.

The young gentlewoman was not used to keep her eyes bent ever towards the
infernal regions; but, rating herself at no less, if not more, than her
deserts, she was dexterous to move them to and fro, and thus busily
scanning her company, soon detected the men who regarded her with
pleasure. By which means having discovered Rinieri's passion, she inly
laughed, and said:--'Twill turn out that 'twas not for nothing that I
came here to-day, for, if I mistake not, I have caught a gander by the
bill. So she gave him an occasional sidelong glance, and sought as best
she might to make him believe that she was not indifferent to him,
deeming that the more men she might captivate by her charms, the higher
those charms would be rated, and most especially by him whom she had made
lord of them and her love. The erudite scholar bade adieu to
philosophical meditation, for the lady entirely engrossed his mind; and,
having discovered her house, he, thinking to please her, found divers
pretexts for frequently passing by it. Whereon the lady, her vanity
flattered for the reason aforesaid, plumed herself not a little, and
shewed herself pleased to see him. Thus encouraged, the scholar found
means to make friends with her maid, to whom he discovered his love,
praying her to do her endeavour with her mistress, that he might have her
favour. The maid was profuse of promises, and gave her mistress his
message, which she no sooner heard, than she was convulsed with laughter,
and replied:--"He brought sense enough hither from Paris: knowest thou
where he has since been to lose it? Go to, now; let us give him that
which he seeks. Tell him, when he next speaks to you of the matter, that
I love him vastly more than he loves me, but that I must have regard to
my reputation, so that I may be able to hold my head up among other
ladies; which, if he is really the wise man they say, will cause him to
affect me much more." Ah! poor woman! poor woman! she little knew, my
ladies, how rash it is to try conclusions with scholars.

The maid found the scholar, and did her mistress's errand. The scholar,
overjoyed, proceeded to urge his suit with more ardour, to indite
letters, and send presents. The lady received all that he sent her, but
vouchsafed no answers save such as were couched in general terms: and on
this wise she kept him dangling a long while. At last, having disclosed
the whole affair to her lover, who evinced some resentment and jealousy,
she, to convince him that his suspicions were groundless, and for that
she was much importuned by the scholar, sent word to him by her maid,
that never since he had assured her of his love, had occasion served her
to do him pleasure, but that next Christmastide she hoped to be with him;
wherefore, if he were minded to await her in the courtyard of her house
on the night of the day next following the feast, she would meet him
there as soon as she could. Elated as ne'er another, the scholar hied him
at the appointed time to the lady's house, and being ushered into a
courtyard by the maid, who forthwith turned the key upon him, addressed
himself there to await the lady's coming.

Now the lady's lover, by her appointment, was with her that evening; and,
when they had gaily supped, she told him what she had in hand that night,
adding:--"And so thou wilt be able to gauge the love which I have borne
and bear this scholar, whom thou hast foolishly regarded as a rival." The
lover heard the lady's words with no small delight, and waited in eager
expectancy to see her make them good. The scholar, hanging about there in
the courtyard, began to find it somewhat chillier than he would have
liked, for it had snowed hard all day long, so that the snow lay
everywhere thick on the ground; however, he bore it patiently, expecting
to be recompensed by and by. After a while the lady said to her
lover:--"Go we to the chamber and take a peep through a lattice at him of
whom thou art turned jealous, and mark what he does, and how he will
answer the maid, whom I have bidden go speak with him." So the pair hied
them to a lattice, wherethrough they could see without being seen, and
heard the maid call from another lattice to the scholar,
saying:--"Rinieri, my lady is distressed as never woman was, for that one
of her brothers is come here to-night, and after talking a long while
with her, must needs sup with her, and is not yet gone, but, I think, he
will soon be off; and that is the reason why she has not been able to
come to thee, but she will come soon now. She trusts it does not irk thee
to wait so long." Whereto the scholar, supposing that 'twas true, made
answer:--"Tell my lady to give herself no anxiety on my account, until
she can conveniently come to me, but to do so as soon as she may."
Whereupon the maid withdrew from the window, and went to bed; while the
lady said to her lover:--"Now, what sayst thou? Thinkst thou that, if I
had that regard for him, which thou fearest, I would suffer him to tarry
below there to get frozen?" Which said, the lady and her now partly
reassured lover got them to bed, where for a great while they disported
them right gamesomely, laughing together and making merry over the
luckless scholar.

The scholar, meanwhile, paced up and down the courtyard to keep himself
warm, nor indeed had he where to sit, or take shelter: in this plight he
bestowed many a curse upon the lady's brother for his long tarrying, and
never a sound did he hear but he thought that 'twas the lady opening the
door. But vain indeed were his hopes: the lady, having solaced herself
with her lover until hard upon midnight, then said to him:--"How ratest
thou our scholar, my soul? whether is the greater his wit, or the love I
bear him, thinkst thou? Will the cold, that, of my ordaining, he now
suffers, banish from thy breast the suspicion which my light words the
other day implanted there?" "Ay, indeed, heart of my body!" replied the
lover, "well wot I now that even as thou art to me, my weal, my
consolation, my bliss, so am I to thee." "So:" quoth the lady, "then I
must have full a thousand kisses from thee, to prove that thou sayst
sooth." The lover's answer was to strain her to his heart, and give her
not merely a thousand but a hundred thousand kisses. In such converse
they dallied a while longer, and then:--"Get we up, now," quoth the lady,
"that we may go see if 'tis quite spent, that fire, with which, as he
wrote to me daily, this new lover of mine used to burn." So up they got
and hied them to the lattice which they had used before, and peering out
into the courtyard, saw the scholar dancing a hornpipe to the music that
his own teeth made, a chattering for extremity of cold; nor had they ever
seen it footed so nimbly and at such a pace. Whereupon:--"How sayst thou,
sweet my hope?" quoth the lady. "Know I not how to make men dance without
the aid of either trumpet or cornemuse?" "Indeed thou dost my heart's
delight," replied the lover. Quoth then the lady:--"I have a mind that we
go down to the door. Thou wilt keep quiet, and I will speak to him, and
we shall hear what he says, which, peradventure, we shall find no less
diverting than the sight of him."

So they stole softly out of the chamber and down to the door, which
leaving fast closed, the lady set her lips to a little hole that was
there, and with a low voice called the scholar, who, hearing her call
him, praised God, making too sure that he was to be admitted, and being
come to the door, said:--"Here am I, Madam; open for God's sake; let me
in, for I die of cold." "Oh! ay," replied the lady, "I know thou hast a
chill, and of course, there being a little snow about, 'tis mighty cold;
but well I wot the nights are colder far at Paris. I cannot let thee in
as yet, because my accursed brother, that came to sup here this evening,
is still with me; but he will soon take himself off, and then I will let
thee in without a moment's delay. I have but now with no small difficulty
given him the slip, to come and give thee heart that the waiting irk thee
not." "Nay but, Madam," replied the scholar, "for the love of God, I
entreat you, let me in, that I may have a roof over my head, because for
some time past there has been never so thick a fall of snow, and 'tis yet
snowing; and then I will wait as long as you please." "Alas! sweet my
love," quoth the lady, "that I may not, for this door makes such a din,
when one opens it, that my brother would be sure to hear, were I to let
thee in; but I will go tell him to get him gone, and so come back and
admit thee." "Go at once, then," returned the scholar, "and prithee, see
that a good fire be kindled, that, when I get in, I may warm myself, for
I am now so chilled through and through that I have scarce any feeling
left." "That can scarce be," rejoined the lady, "if it be true, what thou
hast so protested in thy letters, that thou art all afire for love of me:
'tis plain to me now that thou didst but mock me. I now take my leave of
thee: wait and be of good cheer."

So the lady and her lover, who, to his immense delight, had heard all
that passed, betook them to bed; however, little sleep had they that
night, but spent the best part of it in disporting themselves and making
merry over the unfortunate scholar, who, his teeth now chattering to such
a tune that he seemed to have been metamorphosed into a stork, perceived
that he had been befooled, and after making divers fruitless attempts to
open the door and seeking means of egress to no better purpose, paced to
and fro like a lion, cursing the villainous weather, the long night, his
simplicity, and the perversity of the lady, against whom (the vehemence
of his wrath suddenly converting the love he had so long borne her to
bitter and remorseless enmity) he now plotted within himself divers and
grand schemes of revenge, on which he was far more bent than ever he had
been on forgathering with her.

Slowly the night wore away, and with the first streaks of dawn the maid,
by her mistress's direction, came down, opened the door of the courtyard,
and putting on a compassionate air, greeted Rinieri with:--"Foul fall him
that came here yestereve; he has afflicted us with his presence all night
long, and has kept thee a freezing out here: but harkye, take it not
amiss; that which might not be to-night shall be another time: well wot I
that nought could have befallen that my lady could so ill brook." For all
his wrath, the scholar, witting, like the wise man he was, that menaces
serve but to put the menaced on his guard, kept pent within his breast
that which unbridled resentment would have uttered, and said quietly, and
without betraying the least trace of anger:--"In truth 'twas the worst
night I ever spent, but I understood quite well that the lady was in no
wise to blame, for that she herself, being moved to pity of me, came down
here to make her excuses, and to comfort me; and, as thou sayst, what has
not been to-night will be another time: wherefore commend me to her, and
so, adieu!" Then, well-nigh paralysed for cold, he got him, as best he
might, home, where, weary and fit to die for drowsiness, he threw himself
on his bed, and fell into a deep sleep, from which he awoke to find that
he had all but lost the use of his arms and legs. He therefore sent for
some physicians, and having told them what a chill he had gotten, caused
them have a care to his health. But, though they treated him with active
and most drastic remedies, it cost them some time and no little trouble
to restore to the cramped muscles their wonted pliancy, and, indeed, but
for his youth and the milder weather that was at hand, 'twould have gone
very hard with him.

However, recover he did his health and lustihood, and nursing his enmity,
feigned to be vastly more enamoured of his widow than ever before. And so
it was that after a while Fortune furnished him with an opportunity of
satisfying his resentment, for the gallant of whom the widow was
enamoured, utterly regardless of the love she bore him, grew enamoured of
another lady, and was minded no more to pleasure the widow in aught
either by word or by deed; wherefore she now pined in tears and
bitterness of spirit. However, her maid, who commiserated her not a
little, and knew not how to dispel the dumps that the loss of her lover
had caused her, espying the scholar pass along the street, as he had been
wont, conceived the silly idea that the lady's lover might be induced to
return to his old love by some practice of a necromantic order, wherein
she doubted not that the scholar must be a thorough adept; which idea she
imparted to her mistress. The lady, being none too well furnished with
sense, never thinking that, if the scholar had been an adept in
necromancy, he would have made use of it in his own behoof, gave heed to
what her maid said, and forthwith bade her learn of the scholar whether
he would place his skill at her service, and assure him that, if he so
did, she, in guerdon thereof, would do his pleasure. The maid did her
mistress's errand well and faithfully. The scholar no sooner heard the
message, than he said to himself:--Praised be Thy name, O God, that the
time is now come, when with Thy help I may be avenged upon this wicked
woman of the wrong she did me in requital of the great love I bore her.
Then, turning to the maid, he said:--"Tell my lady to set her mind at
ease touching this matter; for that, were her lover in India, I would
forthwith bring him hither to crave her pardon of that wherein he has
offended her. As to the course she should take in the matter, I tarry but
her pleasure to make it known to her, when and where she may think fit:
tell her so, and bid her from me to be of good cheer." The maid carried
his answer to her mistress, and arranged that they should meet in the
church of Santa Lucia of Prato. Thither accordingly they came, the lady
and the scholar, and conversed apart, and the lady, quite oblivious of
the ill-usage by which she had well-nigh done him to death, opened all
her mind to him, and besought him, if he had any regard to her welfare,
to aid her to the attainment of her desire. "Madam," replied the scholar,
"true it is that among other lore that I acquired at Paris was this of
necromancy, whereof, indeed, I know all that may be known; but, as 'tis
in the last degree displeasing to God, I had sworn never to practise it
either for my own or for any other's behoof. 'Tis also true that the love
I bear you is such that I know not how to refuse you aught that you would
have me do for you; and so, were this single essay enough to consign me
to hell, I would adventure it to pleasure you. But I mind me that 'tis a
matter scarce so easy of performance as, perchance, you suppose, most
especially when a woman would fain recover the love of a man, or a man
that of a woman, for then it must be done by the postulant in proper
person, and at night, and in lonely places, and unattended, so that it
needs a stout heart; nor know I whether you are disposed to comply with
these conditions." The lady, too enamoured to be discreet, made
answer:--"So shrewdly does Love goad me, that there is nought I would not
do to bring him back to me who wrongfully has deserted me; but tell me,
prithee, wherein it is that I have need of this stout heart." "Madam,"
returned the despiteful scholar, "'twill be my part to fashion in tin an
image of him you would fain lure back to you: and when I have sent you
the image, 'twill be for you, when the moon is well on the wane, to dip
yourself, being stark naked, and the image, seven times in a flowing
stream, and this you must do quite alone about the hour of first sleep,
and afterwards, still naked, you must get you upon some tree or some
deserted house, and facing the North, with the image in your hand, say
certain words that I shall give you in writing seven times; which, when
you have done, there will come to you two damsels, the fairest you ever
saw, who will greet you graciously, and ask of you what you would fain
have; to whom you will disclose frankly and fully all that you crave; and
see to it that you make no mistake in the name; and when you have said
all, they will depart, and you may then descend and return to the spot
where you left your clothes, and resume them and go home. And rest
assured, that before the ensuing midnight your lover will come to you in
tears, and crave your pardon and mercy, and that thenceforth he will
never again desert you for any other woman."

The lady gave entire credence to the scholar's words, and deeming her
lover as good as in her arms again, recovered half her wonted spirits:
wherefore:--"Make no doubt," quoth she, "that I shall do as thou biddest;
and indeed I am most favoured by circumstance; for in upper Val d'Arno I
have an estate adjoining the river, and 'tis now July, so that to bathe
will be delightful. Ay, and now I mind me that at no great distance from
the river there is a little tower, which is deserted, save that now and
again the shepherds will get them up by the chestnut-wood ladder to the
roof, thence to look out for their strayed sheep; 'tis a place lonely
indeed, and quite out of ken; and when I have clomb it, as climb it I
will, I doubt not 'twill be the best place in all the world to give
effect to your instructions."

Well pleased to be certified of the lady's intention, the scholar, to
whom her estate and the tower were very well known, made answer:--"I was
never in those parts, Madam, and therefore know neither your estate nor
the tower, but, if 'tis as you say, 'twill certainly be the best place in
the world for your purpose. So, when time shall serve, I will send you
the image and the orison. But I pray you, when you shall have your
heart's desire, and know that I have done you good service, do not forget
me, but keep your promise to me." "That will I without fail," quoth the
lady; and so she bade him farewell, and went home. The scholar, gleefully
anticipating the success of his enterprise, fashioned an image, and
inscribed it with certain magical signs, and wrote some gibberish by way
of orison, which in due time he sent to the lady, bidding her the very
next night do as he had prescribed: and thereupon he hied him privily
with one of his servants to the house of a friend hard by the tower,
there to carry his purpose into effect. The lady, on her part, set out
with her maid, and betook her to her estate, and, night being come, sent
the maid to bed, as if she were minded to go to rest herself; and about
the hour of first sleep stole out of the house and down to the tower,
beside the Arno; and when, having carefully looked about her, she was
satisfied that never a soul was to be seen or heard, she took off her
clothes and hid them under a bush; then, with the image in her hand, she
dipped herself seven times in the river; which done, she hied her with
the image to the tower. The scholar, having at nightfall couched himself
with his servant among the willows and other trees that fringed the bank,
marked all that she did, and how, as she passed by him, the whiteness of
her flesh dispelled the shades of night, and scanning attentively her
bosom and every other part of her body, and finding them very fair, felt,
as he bethought him what would shortly befall them, some pity of her;
while, on the other hand, he was suddenly assailed by the solicitations
of the flesh which caused that to stand which had been inert, and
prompted him to sally forth of his ambush and take her by force, and have
his pleasure of her. And, what with his compassion and passion, he was
like to be worsted; but then as he bethought him who he was, and what a
grievous wrong had been done him, and for what cause, and by whom, his
wrath, thus rekindled, got the better of the other affections, so that he
swerved not from his resolve, but suffered her to go her way.

The lady ascended the tower, and standing with her face to the North,
began to recite the scholar's orison, while he, having stolen into the
tower but a little behind her, cautiously shifted the ladder that led up
to the roof on which the lady stood, and waited to observe what she would
say and do. Seven times the lady said the orison, and then awaited the
appearance of the two damsels; and so long had she to wait--not to
mention that the night was a good deal cooler than she would have
liked--that she saw day break; whereupon, disconcerted that it had not
fallen out as the scholar had promised, she said to herself:--I misdoubt
me he was minded to give me such a night as I gave him; but if such was
his intent, he is but maladroit in his revenge, for this night is not as
long by a third as his was, besides which, the cold is of another
quality. And that day might not overtake her there, she began to think of
descending, but, finding that the ladder was removed, she felt as if the
world had come to nought beneath her feet, her senses reeled, and she
fell in a swoon upon the floor of the roof. When she came to herself, she
burst into tears and piteous lamentations, and witting now very well that
'twas the doing of the scholar, she began to repent her that she had
first offended him, and then trusted him unduly, having such good cause
to reckon upon his enmity; in which frame she abode long time. Then,
searching if haply she might find some means of descent, and finding
none, she fell a weeping again, and bitterly to herself she said:--Alas
for thee, wretched woman! what will thy brothers, thy kinsmen, thy
neighbours, nay, what will all Florence say of thee, when 'tis known that
thou hast been found here naked? Thy honour, hitherto unsuspect, will be
known to have been but a shew, and shouldst thou seek thy defence in
lying excuses, if any such may be fashioned, the accursed scholar, who
knows all thy doings, will not suffer it. Ah! poor wretch! that at one
and the same time hast lost thy too dearly cherished gallant and thine
own honour! And therewith she was taken with such a transport of grief,
that she was like to cast herself from the tower to the ground. Then,
bethinking her that if she might espy some lad making towards the tower
with his sheep, she might send him for her maid, for the sun was now
risen, she approached one of the parapets of the tower, and looked out,
and so it befell that the scholar, awakening from a slumber, in which he
had lain a while at the foot of a bush, espied her, and she him.
Whereupon:--"Good-day, Madam," quoth he:--"are the damsels yet come?" The
lady saw and heard him not without bursting afresh into a flood of tears,
and besought him to come into the tower, that she might speak with him: a
request which the scholar very courteously granted. The lady then threw
herself prone on the floor of the roof; and, only her head being visible
through the aperture, thus through her sobs she spoke:--"Verily, Rinieri,
if I gave thee a bad night, thou art well avenged on me, for, though it
be July, meseemed I was sore a cold last night, standing here with never
a thread upon me, and, besides, I have so bitterly bewept both the trick
I played thee and my own folly in trusting thee, that I marvel that I
have still eyes in my head. Wherefore I implore thee, not for love of me,
whom thou hast no cause to love, but for the respect thou hast for
thyself as a gentleman, that thou let that which thou hast already done
suffice thee to avenge the wrong I did thee, and bring me my clothes,
that I may be able to get me down from here, and spare to take from me
that which, however thou mightst hereafter wish, thou couldst not restore
to me, to wit, my honour; whereas, if I deprived thee of that one night
with me, 'tis in my power to give thee many another night in recompense
thereof, and thou hast but to choose thine own times. Let this, then,
suffice, and like a worthy gentleman be satisfied to have taken thy
revenge, and to have let me know it: put not forth thy might against a
woman: 'tis no glory to the eagle to have vanquished a dove; wherefore
for God's and thine own honour's sake have mercy on me."

The scholar, albeit his haughty spirit still brooded on her evil
entreatment of him, yet saw her not weep and supplicate without a certain
compunction mingling with his exultation; but vengeance he had desired
above all things, to have wreaked it was indeed sweet, and albeit his
humanity prompted him to have compassion on the hapless woman, yet it
availed not to subdue the fierceness of his resentment; wherefore thus he
made answer:--"Madam Elena, had my prayers (albeit art I had none to
mingle with them tears and honeyed words as thou dost with thine)
inclined thee that night, when I stood perishing with cold amid the snow
that filled thy courtyard, to accord me the very least shelter, 'twere
but a light matter for me to hearken now to thine; but, if thou art now
so much more careful of thy honour than thou wast wont to be, and it irks
thee to tarry there naked, address thy prayers to him in whose arms it
irked thee not naked to pass that night thou mindest thee of, albeit thou
wist that I with hasty foot was beating time upon the snow in thy
courtyard to the accompaniment of chattering teeth: 'tis he that thou
shouldst call to succour thee, to fetch thy clothes, to adjust the ladder
for thy descent; 'tis he in whom thou shouldst labour to inspire this
tenderness thou now shewest for thy honour, that honour which for his
sake thou hast not scrupled to jeopardize both now and on a thousand
other occasions. Why, then, call'st thou not him to come to thy succour?
To whom pertains it rather than to him? Thou art his. And of whom will he
have a care, whom will he succour, if not thee? Thou askedst him that
night, when thou wast wantoning with him, whether seemed to him the
greater, my folly or the love thou didst bear him: call him now, foolish
woman, and see if the love thou bearest him, and thy wit and his, may
avail to deliver thee from my folly. 'Tis now no longer in thy power to
shew me courtesy of that which I no more desire, nor yet to refuse it,
did I desire it. Reserve thy nights for thy lover, if so be thou go hence
alive. Be they all thine and his. One of them was more than I cared for;
'tis enough for me to have been flouted once. Ay, and by thy cunning of
speech thou strivest might and main to conciliate my good-will, calling
me worthy gentleman, by which insinuation thou wouldst fain induce me
magnanimously to desist from further chastisement of thy baseness. But
thy cajoleries shall not now cloud the eyes of my mind, as did once thy
false promises. I know myself, and better now for thy one night's
instruction than for all the time I spent at Paris. But, granted that I
were disposed to be magnanimous, thou art not of those to whom 'tis meet
to shew magnanimity. A wild beast such as thou, having merited vengeance,
can claim no relief from suffering save death, though in the case of a
human being 'twould suffice to temper vengeance with mercy, as thou
saidst. Wherefore I, albeit no eagle, witting thee to be no dove, but a
venomous serpent, mankind's most ancient enemy, am minded, bating no jot
of malice or of might, to harry thee to the bitter end: natheless this
which I do is not properly to be called vengeance but rather just
retribution; seeing that vengeance should be in excess of the offence,
and this my chastisement of thee will fall short of it; for, were I
minded to be avenged on thee, considering what account thou madest of my
heart and soul, 'twould not suffice me to take thy life, no, nor the
lives of a hundred others such as thee; for I should but slay a vile and
base and wicked woman. And what the Devil art thou more than any other
pitiful baggage, that I should spare thy little store of beauty, which a
few years will ruin, covering thy face with wrinkles? And yet 'twas not
for want of will that thou didst fail to do to death a worthy gentleman,
as thou but now didst call me, of whom in a single day of his life the
world may well have more profit than of a hundred thousand like thee
while the world shall last. Wherefore by this rude discipline I will
teach thee what it is to flout men of spirit, and more especially what it
is to flout scholars, that if thou escape with thy life thou mayst have
good cause ever hereafter to shun such folly. But if thou art so fain to
make the descent, why cast not thyself down, whereby, God helping, thou
wouldst at once break thy neck, be quit of the torment thou endurest, and
make me the happiest man alive? I have no more to say to thee. 'Twas my
art and craft thus caused thee climb; be it thine to find the way down:
thou hadst cunning enough, when thou wast minded to flout me."

While the scholar thus spoke, the hapless lady wept incessantly, and
before he had done, to aggravate her misery, the sun was high in the
heaven. However, when he was silent, thus she made answer:--"Ah! ruthless
man, if that accursed night has so rankled with thee, and thou deemest my
fault so grave that neither my youth and beauty, nor my bitter tears, nor
yet my humble supplications may move thee to pity, let this at least move
thee, and abate somewhat of thy remorseless severity, that 'twas my act
alone, in that of late I trusted thee, and discovered to thee all my
secret, that did open the way to compass thy end, and make me cognizant
of my guilt, seeing that, had I not confided in thee, on no wise mightst
thou have been avenged on me; which thou wouldst seem so ardently to have
desired. Turn thee, then, turn thee, I pray thee, from thy wrath, and
pardon me. So thou wilt pardon me, and get me down hence, right gladly
will I give up for ever my faithless gallant, and thou shalt be my sole
lover and lord, albeit thou sayst hard things of my beauty, slight and
shortlived as thou wouldst have it to be, which, however it may compare
with others, is, I wot, to be prized, if for no other reason, yet for
this, that 'tis the admiration and solace and delight of young men, and
thou art not yet old. And albeit I have been harshly treated by thee, yet
believe I cannot that thou wouldst have me do myself so shamefully to
death as to cast me down, like some abandoned wretch, before thine eyes,
in which, unless thou wast then, as thou hast since shewn thyself, a
liar, I found such favour. Ah! have pity on me for God's and mercy's
sake! The sun waxes exceeding hot, and having suffered not a little by
the cold of last night, I now begin to be sorely afflicted by the heat."

"Madam," rejoined the scholar, who held her in parley with no small
delight, "'twas not for any love that thou didst bear me that thou
trustedst me, but that thou mightst recover that which thou hadst lost,
for which cause thou meritest but the greater punishment; and foolish
indeed art thou if thou supposest that such was the sole means available
for my revenge. I had a thousand others, and, while I feigned to love
thee, I had laid a thousand gins for thy feet, into one or other of which
in no long time, though this had not occurred, thou must needs have
fallen, and that too to thy more grievous suffering and shame; nor was it
to spare thee, but that I might be the sooner rejoiced by thy
discomfiture that I took my present course. And though all other means
had failed me, I had still the pen, with which I would have written of
thee such matters and in such a sort, that when thou wist them, as thou
shouldst have done, thou wouldst have regretted a thousand times that
thou hadst ever been born. The might of the pen is greater far than they
suppose, who have not proved it by experience. By God I swear, so may He,
who has prospered me thus far in this my revenge, prosper me to the end!
that I would have written of thee things that would have so shamed thee
in thine own--not to speak of others'--sight that thou hadst put out
thine eyes that thou mightst no more see thyself; wherefore chide not the
sea, for that it has sent forth a tiny rivulet. For thy love, or whether
thou be mine or no, nought care I. Be thou still his, whose thou hast
been, if thou canst. Hate him as I once did, I now love him, by reason of
his present entreatment of thee. Ye go getting you enamoured, ye women,
and nought will satisfy you but young gallants, because ye mark that
their flesh is ruddier, and their beards are blacker, than other folk's,
and that they carry themselves well, and foot it featly in the dance, and
joust; but those that are now more mature were even as they, and possess
a knowledge which they have yet to acquire. And therewithal ye deem that
they ride better, and cover more miles in a day, than men of riper age.
Now that they dust the pelisse with more vigour I certainly allow, but
their seniors, being more experienced, know better the places where the
fleas lurk; and spare and dainty diet is preferable to abundance without
savour: moreover hard trotting will gall and jade even the youngest,
whereas an easy pace, though it bring one somewhat later to the inn, at
any rate brings one thither fresh. Ye discern not, witless creatures that
ye are, how much of evil this little shew of bravery serves to hide. Your
young gallant is never content with one woman, but lusts after as many as
he sets eyes on; nor is there any but he deems himself worthy of her:
wherefore 'tis not possible that their love should be lasting, as thou
hast but now proved and mayst only too truly witness. Moreover to be
worshipped, to be caressed by their ladies they deem but their due; nor
is there aught whereon they plume and boast them so proudly as their
conquests: which impertinence has caused not a few women to surrender to
the friars, who keep their own counsel. Peradventure thou wilt say that
never a soul save thy maid, and I wist aught of thy loves; but, if so,
thou hast been misinformed, and if thou so believest, thou dost
misbelieve. Scarce aught else is talked of either in his quarter or in
thine; but most often 'tis those most concerned whose ears such matters
reach last. Moreover, they rob you, these young gallants, whereas the
others make you presents. So, then, having made a bad choice, be thou
still his to whom thou hast given thyself, and leave me, whom thou didst
flout, to another, for I have found a lady of much greater charms than
thine, and that has understood me better than thou didst. And that thou
mayst get thee to the other world better certified of the desire of my
eyes than thou wouldst seem to be here by my words, delay no more, but
cast thyself down, whereby thy soul, taken forthwith, as I doubt not she
will be, into the embrace of the Devil, may see whether thy headlong fall
afflicts mine eyes, or no. But, for that I doubt thou meanest not thus to
gladden me, I bid thee, if thou findest the sun begin to scorch thee,
remember the cold thou didst cause me to endure, wherewith, by admixture,
thou mayst readily temper the sun's heat."

The hapless lady, seeing that the scholar's words were ever to the same
ruthless effect, burst afresh into tears, and said:--"Lo, now, since
nought that pertains to me may move thee, be thou at least moved by the
love thou bearest this lady of whom thou speakest, who, thou sayst, is
wiser than I, and loves thee, and for love of her pardon me, and fetch me
my clothes, that I may resume them, and get me down hence." Whereat the
scholar fell a laughing, and seeing that 'twas not a little past tierce,
made answer:--"Lo, now, I know not how to deny thee, adjuring me as thou
dost by such a lady: tell me, then, where thy clothes are, and I will go
fetch them, and bring thee down." The lady, believing him, was somewhat
comforted, and told him where she had laid her clothes. The scholar then
quitted the tower, bidding his servant on no account to stir from his
post, but to keep close by, and, as best he might, bar the tower against
all comers until his return: which said, he betook him to the house of
his friend, where he breakfasted much at his ease, and thereafter went to
sleep. Left alone upon the tower, the lady, somewhat cheered by her fond
hope, but still exceeding sorrowful, drew nigh to a part of the wall
where there was a little shade, and there sate down to wait. And now lost
in most melancholy brooding, now dissolved in tears, now plunged in
despair of ever seeing the scholar return with her clothes, but never
more than a brief while in any one mood, spent with grief and the night's
vigil, she by and by fell asleep. The sun was now in the zenith, and
smote with extreme fervour full and unmitigated upon her tender and
delicate frame, and upon her bare head, insomuch that his rays did not
only scorch but bit by bit excoriate every part of her flesh that was
exposed to them, and so shrewdly burn her that, albeit she was in a deep
sleep, the pain awoke her. And as by reason thereof she writhed a little,
she felt the scorched skin part in sunder and shed itself, as will happen
when one tugs at a parchment that has been singed by the fire, while her
head ached so sore that it seemed like to split, and no wonder. Nor might
she find place either to lie or to stand on the floor of the roof, but
ever went to and fro, weeping. Besides which there stirred not the least
breath of wind, and flies and gadflies did swarm in prodigious quantity,
which, settling upon her excoriate flesh, stung her so shrewdly that
'twas as if she received so many stabs with a javelin, and she was ever
restlessly feeling her sores with her hands, and cursing herself, her
life, her lover, and the scholar.

Thus by the exorbitant heat of the sun, by the flies and gadflies,
harassed, goaded, and lacerated, tormented also by hunger, and yet more
by thirst, and, thereto by a thousand distressful thoughts, she panted
herself erect on her feet, and looked about her, if haply she might see
or hear any one, with intent, come what might, to call to him and crave
his succour. But even this hostile Fortune had disallowed her. The
husbandmen were all gone from the fields by reason of the heat, and
indeed there had come none to work that day in the neighbourhood of the
tower, for that all were employed in threshing their corn beside their
cottages: wherefore she heard but the cicalas, while Arno, tantalizing
her with the sight of his waters, increased rather than diminished her
thirst. Ay, and in like manner, wherever she espied a copse, or a patch
of shade, or a house, 'twas a torment to her, for the longing she had for
it. What more is to be said of this hapless woman? Only this: that what
with the heat of the sun above and the floor beneath her, and the
scarification of her flesh in every part by the flies and gadflies, that
flesh, which in the night had dispelled the gloom by its whiteness, was
now become red as madder, and so besprent with clots of blood, that whoso
had seen her would have deemed her the most hideous object in the world.

Thus resourceless and hopeless, she passed the long hours, expecting
death rather than aught else, until half none was come and gone; when,
his siesta ended, the scholar bethought him of his lady, and being minded
to see how she fared, hied him back to the tower, and sent his servant
away to break his fast. As soon as the lady espied him, she came, spent
and crushed by her sore affliction, to the aperture, and thus addressed
him:--"Rinieri, the cup of thy vengeance is full to overflowing: for if I
gave thee a night of freezing in my courtyard, thou hast given me upon
this tower a day of scorching, nay, of burning, and therewithal of
perishing of hunger and thirst: wherefore by God I entreat thee to come
up hither, and as my heart fails me to take my life, take it thou, for
'tis death I desire of all things, such and so grievous is my suffering.
But if this grace thou wilt not grant, at least bring me a cup of water
wherewith to lave my mouth, for which my tears do not suffice, so parched
and torrid is it within." Well wist the scholar by her voice how spent
she was; he also saw a part of her body burned through and through by the
sun; whereby, and by reason of the lowliness of her entreaties, he felt
some little pity for her; but all the same he made answer:--"Nay, wicked
woman, 'tis not by my hands thou shalt die; thou canst die by thine own
whenever thou art so minded; and to temper thy heat thou shalt have just
as much water from me as I had fire from thee to mitigate my cold. I only
regret that for the cure of my chill the physicians were fain to use
foul-smelling muck, whereas thy burns can be treated with fragrant
rose-water; and that, whereas I was like to lose my muscles and the use
of my limbs, thou, for all thy excoriation by the heat, wilt yet be fair
again, like a snake that has sloughed off the old skin." "Alas! woe's
me!" replied the lady, "for charms acquired at such a cost, God grant
them to those that hate me. But thou, most fell of all wild beasts, how
hast thou borne thus to torture me? What more had I to expect of thee or
any other, had I done all thy kith and kin to death with direst torments?
Verily, I know not what more cruel suffering thou couldst have inflicted
on a traitor that had put a whole city to the slaughter than this which
thou hast allotted to me, to be thus roasted, and devoured of the flies,
and therewithal to refuse me even a cup of water, though the very
murderers condemned to death by the law, as they go to execution, not
seldom are allowed wine to drink, so they but ask it. Lo now, I see that
thou art inexorable in thy ruthlessness, and on no wise to be moved by my
suffering: wherefore with resignation I will compose me to await death,
that God may have mercy on my soul. And may this that thou doest escape
not the searching glance of His just eyes." Which said, she dragged
herself, sore suffering, toward the middle of the floor, despairing of
ever escaping from her fiery torment, besides which, not once only, but a
thousand times she thought to choke for thirst, and ever she wept
bitterly and bewailed her evil fate. But at length the day wore to
vespers, and the scholar, being sated with his revenge, caused his
servant to take her clothes and wrap them in his cloak, and hied him with
the servant to the hapless lady's house, where, finding her maid sitting
disconsolate and woebegone and resourceless at the door:--"Good woman,"
quoth he, "what has befallen thy mistress?" Whereto:--"Sir, I know not,"
replied the maid. "I looked to find her this morning abed, for methought
she went to bed last night, but neither there nor anywhere else could I
find her, nor know I what is become of her; wherefore exceeding great is
my distress; but have you, Sir, nought to say of the matter?" "Only
this," returned the scholar, "that I would I had had thee with her there
where I have had her, that I might have requited thee of thy offence,
even as I have requited her of hers. But be assured that thou shalt not
escape my hands, until thou hast from me such wage of thy labour that
thou shalt never flout man more, but thou shalt mind thee of me." Then,
turning to his servant, he said:--"Give her these clothes, and tell her
that she may go bring her mistress away, if she will." The servant did
his bidding; and the maid, what with the message and her recognition of
the clothes, was mightily afraid, lest they had slain the lady, and
scarce suppressing a shriek, took the clothes, and, bursting into tears,
set off, as soon as the scholar was gone, at a run for the tower.

Now one of the lady's husbandmen had had the misfortune to lose two of
his hogs that day, and, seeking them, came to the tower not long after
the scholar had gone thence, and peering about in all quarters, if haply
he might have sight of his hogs, heard the woeful lamentation that the
hapless lady made, and got him up into the tower, and called out as loud
as he might:--"Who wails up there?" The lady recognized her husbandman's
voice, and called him by name, saying:--"Prithee, go fetch my maid, and
cause her come up hither to me." The husbandman, knowing her by her
voice, replied:--"Alas! Madam, who set you there? Your maid has been
seeking you all day long: but who would ever have supposed that you were
there?" Whereupon he took the props of the ladder, and set them in
position, and proceeded to secure the rounds to them with withies. Thus
engaged he was found by the maid, who, as she entered the tower, beat her
face and breast, and unable longer to keep silence, cried out:--"Alas,
sweet my lady, where are you?" Whereto the lady made answer as loud as
she might:--"O my sister, here above am I, weep not, but fetch me my
clothes forthwith." Well-nigh restored to heart, to hear her mistress's
voice, the maid, assisted by the husbandman, ascended the ladder, which
he had now all but set in order, and gaining the roof, and seeing her
lady lie there naked, spent and fordone, and liker to a half-burned stump
than to a human being, she planted her nails in her face and fell a
weeping over her, as if she were a corpse. However, the lady bade her for
God's sake be silent, and help her to dress, and having learned from her
that none knew where she had been, save those that had brought her her
clothes and the husbandman that was there present, was somewhat consoled,
and besought her for God's sake to say nought of the matter to any. Thus
long time they conversed, and then the husbandman took the lady on his
shoulders, for walk she could not, and bore her safely out of the tower.
The unfortunate maid, following after with somewhat less caution,
slipped, and falling from the ladder to the ground, broke her thigh, and
roared for pain like any lion. So the husbandman set the lady down upon a
grassy mead, while he went to see what had befallen the maid, whom,
finding her thigh broken, he brought, and laid beside the lady: who,
seeing her woes completed by this last misfortune, and that she of whom,
most of all, she had expected succour, was lamed of a thigh, was
distressed beyond measure, and wept again so piteously that not only was
the husbandman powerless to comfort her, but was himself fain to weep.
However, as the sun was now low, that they might not be there surprised
by night, he, with the disconsolate lady's approval, hied him home, and
called to his aid two of his brothers and his wife, who returned with
him, bearing a plank, whereon they laid the maid, and so they carried her
to the lady's house. There, by dint of cold water and words of cheer,
they restored some heart to the lady, whom the husbandman then took upon
his shoulders, and bore to her chamber. The husbandman's wife fed her
with sops of bread, and then undressed her, and put her to bed. They also
provided the means to carry her and the maid to Florence; and so 'twas
done. There the lady, who was very fertile in artifices, invented an
entirely fictitious story of what had happened as well in regard of her
maid as of herself, whereby she persuaded both her brothers and her
sisters and every one else, that 'twas all due to the enchantments of
evil spirits. The physicians lost no time, and, albeit the lady's
suffering and mortification were extreme, for she left more than one skin
sticking to the sheets, they cured her of a high fever, and certain
attendant maladies; as also the maid of her fractured thigh. The end of
all which was that the lady forgot her lover, and having learned
discretion, was thenceforth careful neither to love nor to flout; and the
scholar, learning that the maid had broken her thigh, deemed his
vengeance complete, and was satisfied to say never a word more of the
affair. Such then were the consequences of her flouts to this foolish
young woman, who deemed that she might trifle with a scholar with the
like impunity as with others, not duly understanding that they--I say not
all, but the more part--know where the Devil keeps his tail.(1)
Wherefore, my ladies, have a care how you flout men, and more especially

(1) I.e. are a match for the Devil himself in cunning.


Two men keep with one another: the one lies with the other's wife: the
other, being ware thereof, manages with the aid of his wife to have the
one locked in a chest, upon which he then lies with the wife of him that
is locked therein.

Grievous and distressful was it to the ladies to hear how it fared with
Elena; but as they accounted the retribution in a measure righteous, they
were satisfied to expend upon her but a moderate degree of compassion,
albeit they censured the scholar as severe, intemperately relentless, and
indeed ruthless, in his vengeance. However, Pampinea having brought the
story to a close, the queen bade Fiammetta follow suit; and prompt to
obey, Fiammetta thus spoke:--Debonair my ladies, as, methinks, your
feelings must have been somewhat harrowed by the severity of the
resentful scholar, I deem it meet to soothe your vexed spirits with
something of a more cheerful order. Wherefore I am minded to tell you a
little story of a young man who bore an affront in a milder temper, and
avenged himself with more moderation. Whereby you may understand that one
should be satisfied if the ass and the wall are quits, nor by indulging a
vindictive spirit to excess turn the requital of a wrong into an occasion
of wrong-doing. You are to know, then, that at Siena, as I have heard
tell, there dwelt two young men of good substance, and, for plebeians, of
good family, the one Spinelloccio Tanena, the other Zeppa di Mino, by
name; who, their houses being contiguous in the Camollia,(1) kept ever
together, and, by what appeared, loved each other as brothers, or even
more so, and had each a very fine woman to wife. Now it so befell that
Spinelloccio, being much in Zeppa's house, as well when Zeppa was not, as
when he was there, grew so familiar with Zeppa's wife, that he sometimes
lay with her; and on this wise they continued to forgather a great while
before any one was ware of it. However, one of these days Zeppa being at
home, though the lady wist it not, Spinelloccio came in quest of him;
and, the lady sending word that he was not at home, he forthwith went
upstairs and found the lady in the saloon, and seeing none else there,
kissed her, as did she him.

Zeppa saw all that passed, but said nothing and kept close, being minded
to see how the game would end, and soon saw his wife and Spinelloccio,
still in one another's arms, hie them to her chamber and lock themselves
in: whereat he was mightily incensed. But, witting that to make a noise,
or do aught else overt, would not lessen but rather increase his
dishonour, he cast about how he might be avenged on such wise that,
without the affair getting wind, he might content his soul; and having,
after long pondering, hit, as he thought, upon the expedient, he budged
not from his retreat, until Spinelloccio had parted from the lady.
Whereupon he hied him into the chamber, and there finding the lady with
her head-gear, which Spinelloccio in toying with her had disarranged,
scarce yet readjusted:--"Madam, what dost thou?" quoth he.
Whereto:--"Why, dost not see?" returned the lady. "Troth do I," rejoined
he, "and somewhat else have I seen that I would I had not." And so he
questioned her of what had passed, and she, being mightily afraid, did
after long parley confess that which she might not plausibly deny, to
wit, her intimacy with Spinelloccio, and fell a beseeching him with tears
to pardon her. "Lo, now, wife," quoth Zeppa, "thou hast done wrong, and,
so thou wouldst have me pardon thee, have a care to do exactly as I shall
bid thee; to wit, on this wise: thou must tell Spinelloccio, to find some
occasion to part from me to-morrow morning about tierce, and come hither
to thee; and while he is here I will come back, and when thou hearest me
coming, thou wilt get him into this chest, and lock him in there; which
when thou hast done, I will tell thee what else thou hast to do, which
thou mayst do without the least misgiving, for I promise thee I will do
him no harm." The lady, to content him, promised to do as he bade, and
she kept her word.

The morrow came, and Zeppa and Spinelloccio being together about tierce,
Spinelloccio, having promised the lady to come to see her at that hour,
said to Zeppa:--"I must go breakfast with a friend, whom I had lief not
keep in waiting; therefore, adieu!" "Nay, but," quoth Zeppa, "'tis not
yet breakfast-time." "No matter," returned Spinelloccio, "I have business
on which I must speak with him; so I must be in good time." Whereupon
Spinelloccio took his leave of Zeppa, and having reached Zeppa's house by
a slightly circuitous route, and finding his wife there, was taken by her
into the chamber, where they had not been long together when Zeppa
returned. Hearing him come, the lady, feigning no small alarm, bundled
Spinelloccio into the chest, as her husband had bidden her, and having
locked him in, left him there. As Zeppa came upstairs:--"Wife," quoth he,
"is it breakfast time?" "Ay, husband, 'tis so," replied the lady.
Whereupon:--"Spinelloccio is gone to breakfast with a friend to-day,"
quoth Zeppa, "leaving his wife at home: get thee to the window, and call
her, and bid her come and breakfast with us." The lady, whose fear for
herself made her mighty obedient, did as her husband bade her; and after
much pressing Spinelloccio's wife came to breakfast with them, though she
was given to understand that her husband would not be of the company. So,
she being come, Zeppa received her most affectionately, and taking her
familiarly by the hand, bade his wife, in an undertone, get her to the
kitchen; he then led Spinelloccio's wife into the chamber, and locked the
door. Hearing the key turn in the lock:--"Alas!" quoth the lady, "what
means this, Zeppa? Is't for this you have brought me here? Is this the
love you bear Spinelloccio? Is this your loyalty to him as your friend
and comrade?" By the time she had done speaking, Zeppa, still keeping
fast hold of her, was beside the chest, in which her husband was locked.
Wherefore:--"Madam," quoth he, "spare me thy reproaches, until thou hast
heard what I have to say to thee. I have loved, I yet love, Spinelloccio
as a brother; and yesterday, though he knew it not, I discovered that the
trust I reposed in him has for its guerdon that he lies with my wife, as
with thee. Now, for that I love him, I purpose not to be avenged upon him
save in the sort in which he offended. He has had my wife, and I intend
to have thee. So thou wilt not grant me what I crave of thee, be sure I
shall not fail to take it; and having no mind to let this affront pass
unavenged, will make such play with him that neither thou nor he shall
ever be happy again." The lady hearkening, and by dint of his repeated
asseverations coming at length to believe him:--"Zeppa mine," quoth she,
"as this thy vengeance is to light upon me, well content am I; so only
thou let not this which we are to do embroil me with thy wife, with whom,
notwithstanding the evil turn she has done me, I am minded to remain at
peace." "Have no fear on that score," replied Zeppa; "nay, I will give
thee into the bargain a jewel so rare and fair that thou hast not the
like." Which said, he took her in his arms and fell a kissing her, and
having laid her on the chest, in which her husband was safe under lock
and key, did there disport himself with her to his heart's content, as
she with him.

Spinelloccio in the chest heard all that Zeppa had said, and how he was
answered by the lady, and the Trevisan dance that afterwards went on over
his head; whereat his mortification was such that for a great while he
scarce hoped to live through it; and, but for the fear he had of Zeppa,
he would have given his wife a sound rating, close prisoner though he
was. But, as he bethought him that 'twas he that had given the first
affront, and that Zeppa had good cause for acting as he did, and that he
had dealt with him considerately and as a good fellow should, he resolved
that if it were agreeable to Zeppa, they should be faster friends than
ever before. However, Zeppa, having had his pleasure with the lady, got
down from the chest, and being reminded by the lady of his promise of the
jewel, opened the door of the chamber and brought his wife in. Quoth she
with a laugh:--"Madam, you have given me tit for tat," and never a word
more. Whereupon:--"Open the chest," quoth Zeppa; and she obeying, he
shewed the lady her Spinelloccio lying therein. 'Twould be hard to say
whether of the twain was the more shame-stricken, Spinelloccio to be

Book of the day: